Kiss the Black Cat: Chapter 10
First published on Ainushi
Even though I said that the prince’s life was being targeted, our peaceful days continued and Prince Chennel lost his nervousness, now sleeping soundly on the bed each night.
Beside him, Legato petted me as usual.
Even though lately many people worked until late in the royal palace, everyone would have ceased their work at this late hour.
I too dozed off for a bit while Legato petted me. However, when Legato’s hand froze with a flinch, his taut nerves were passed on though the place where he caressed me and I woke up instantly.
I raised my head. Legato’s left hand had left me and was now quietly grasping the hilt of his sword. I silently raised myself up. Unfortunately, I only had senses comparable to an ordinary human and could not understand quite well what was going on, but if Legato had caught wind of something then there was no mistaking it.
Since Legato sat as still as possible, I too thought it was better to not move, and stayed still on Legato’s lap, fraught with nerves. However, I made preparations to undo my usual transformation magic and release an offensive spell at the same time.
Since Legato quietly got up while grasping his sword, I too nimbly jumped down onto the floor from his lap.
And it was when Legato got a few steps closer to the prince with long strides that I felt an unfamiliar stiff magic fall onto me.
It was a Magic Barrier.
The moment I realised it, a part of the wall flashed and exploded with a small boom. The bedchamber did not have windows for safety reasons, but a side of it bordered the palace. The assassin must have burst in through a feat of strength from there.
I momentarily saw two shadows for amidst the explosion. So they have a magician too, I inwardly retorted.
Since I felt a powerful magic, this room must have been enclosed by a barrier. There’s no mistaking that the sound of the explosion had not been heard in the neighbouring room. In other words, the people on standby in the adjoining room would not come to help.
At the same time as the explosion, Legato entered full combat mode and caught the blades of the assassin swooping in to the bed from the collapsed wall, parrying them with his sword.
Clank! The sound of the swords crossing echoed in the room.
Of course, it wasn’t as if I was just idly looking on; while jumping onto the prince’s bed with the swiftness of a cat, I undid my transformation magic.
I guess Legato, who was exchanging blows with the assassin, was surprised at my sudden appearance, his eyes opening wide.
Dammit, of course it’d be surprising. I should have told Legato. All the more regret crossed my mind, but this wasn’t the right time for stray thoughts.
I felt magic ripple out from the other assassin, where he stood by the wall dressed in black. Just when I realized that he was the magician, he threw a violent blaze at me.
I see. So he specialises in fire-type magic. I got lucky.
The only offensive magic I excelled at was ice-type magic. Pushing the prince behind me, I created a wall of ice. The blaze rushed in and clashed against the ice, extinguishing, releasing a shockwave that hit Legato nearby and caused him to lose his balance for a bit. The assassin was expecting it, though, and broke his body away. I saw him hurl a knife towards the off-balance Legato.
I didn’t know if my shout was helpful or not, but Legato repelled the sword and nimbly slashed at the assassin again. He seemed fine.
I created icicles with sharp edges and released them towards the wall adjoining the neighbouring room. Along with a thud, spears of ice penetrated the wall and pierced through to the next room. I could hear the clamour through the wall.
With this, the abnormal situation here should have gotten conveyed, and they should jump into the fray soon.
Under my gaze, Legato had pierced through the chest of the assassin after exchanging a few blows with him. He was talented as expected. As for the magician, after I extinguished his magic, he realized that he was at a disadvantage and got ready to escape. The level of his magic barrier was quite high, so it must have been his speciality.
It was rare to find people who specialised in a particular class of magic, regardless of its type. Even the magic I was best at, Transformation Magic, was no royal road, and my level of ice-type offensive magic was mediocre at best, and I could perform healing magic to only a nominal extent. Even I might stand above the mid-ranks of the magician of this country, however (though Transformation Magic was a totally different ball game).
People who could use magic were considerably scarce.
Legato stabbed the back of the escaping magician. At the same time, the other guards- the knights and the Royal Palace Magicians- entered by the door and jumped into the fray. Ten seconds had passed since the assassin had launched his attack.
In my arms was the prince, hugging me. He’d woken up due to the noise made by the explosion. It should have been his first time seeing me in my human form, but he seemed to have guessed that I was someone protecting him and clung to me, utterly frightened. I gently patted his back.
「It’s fine now, it’s all over.」
When I said that, the prince looked up at me with tearful eyes and restlessly looked at the uproar in the room. The first thing he asked was,「Earl? Where’s Earl?, causing a smile to creep up unconsciously on my face.
「He got frightened and left the room. He should be fine.」
「I see…I did a bad thing, frightening him…」
The prince made a downcast face at my lie, but there wasn’t any need to tell him the truth. The prince was disappointed, but after finding out that the cat was fine, he resolutely gave a smile. I patted that small body as if to soothe it.
「…Come to think of it, why is Nidel-dono here?」
With my tension eased, a warm feeling arose in me, but with the members of the Royal Palace Magic Order raising their suspicions, I couldn’t act on it. I looked towards them with a subtle smile. Should I retort after all!?
The wall had collapsed and many people had gathered in the dusty bedchamber. The assassin whose chest Legato had slashed was still alive, but he was now caught by the knights. Legato and the other guards had chased after the escaped and wounded magician, catching him, so the bedchamber now had the calm atmosphere created by an aftermath of an incident.
While wondering how I should answer, I handed over the prince to the attendant who came rushing in.
「No, well…it was mere coincidence…」
「There’s no way it’s a coincidence! Was even the Tech Order guarding?」
「Just how did you enter the bedchamber, it was impossible for us to do so?」
When I tried to dodge the question, the members of the Royal Palace Magic Order and the Knight Order expressed their doubts. While the members of the Royal Palace Magic Order were cross, the Knight Order were just strange. Well, from the point of view of the Royal Palace Magic Order, we weren’t of much use, so they must have been feeling ashamed.
However, it didn’t seem like anyone noticed that I was the black cat.
I see, I thought and gave a wry smile.
Legato, who was instructing his subordinate knights, looked at me for a moment. I met his gaze for a bit, asking him, Do you want to ask something? through my eyes; but the lot in front of me interrupted my reply, exclaiming 「Nidel-dono!」and making me shift my gaze towards them.
While I was wondering, Hmm, what should I do? Should I tell the truth? the Prime Minister entered the bedchamber. He arrived rather quickly for someone who should have been sleeping, so he must have been up doing some work.
「The Technological Magic Order was performing guard duties behind the scenes on the King’s request. Nidel was the person assigned the duty. Since these are direct orders from the King, all your complaints may be directed to him.」
The Prime Minister said that to the people around me, and thanked me, saying 「I appreciate your efforts.」.Thank goodness, I thought and bowed to the Prime Minister, saying 「Then, I shall excuse myself.」I then quickly escaped from the room.
Even the guys who seemed like they still had something to say, had no choice but to shut up at the Prime Minister’s words. Since the fact that I was actually protecting the Prince was the truth, they threw kind words like 「Thank you for your hard work」and「You were a great help」.
This might be my first time receiving such treatment. I inwardly laughed.
After leaving the still noisy bedchamber, when I decided to leave the prince’s suite, from behind me I heard someone call out「Nidel-dono!」, and someone approached me. Recognizing his voice, I turned around.
The one who running up to me was Legato.
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