Kiss the Black Cat: Chapter 22
Editor: Gold Swallow
First published on Ainushi
Kiss the Lover 3
The move to the northern fortress went smoothly. It had been a long time since we’d been away from the Royal Palace for a significant period of time, and thus the members of the order, including me, were in high spirits. I was slightly lonely, being away from the castle, but there was happiness too, from having an expedition with only comrades that I trusted. I could be at ease here, compared to when I was in the Royal Palace.
The troops consisted of young people, but within the troops there were a few who were older than me. However, everyone was considerate and respected me.
It was a peaceful journey, but I only thought of Nidel-dono throughout the trip. There was the fact that Nidel-dono had told me to think carefully during the expedition, but still, I couldn’t get Nidel-dono out of my mind.
Within my thoughts contained extremely vulgar desires such as Because I’m going for an expedition that will last a month, I want to embrace Nidel-dono before that., and I was disgusted by my own vulgarity.
I’m absolutely not a person of great integrity that Nidel-dono often said I am. He thought of me too highly.
We proceeded as planned, and once we reached the northern fortress, the stationed knights came to receive us. Amongst them were locals and people dispatched from the Royal Palace were also scattered intermittently. Faces that I hadn’t seen for a long time were also there, and familiar voices fluttered about.
「Legato! I’m glad to see you here.」
Just at that moment, I heard a nostalgic voice and turned to look back.
「Captain, it’s been a while.」
「Hey, hey. You’re also a captain now.」
The one who approached me with a hearty laugh was the one who led the knights in the northern fortress, Captain Ballam. When I’d entered the Royal Palace, he was in the same position I now hold—, the Squad Commander. In my opinion, when you say Captain, I’d be reminded of Captain Ballam. When I was a rookie, he was the superior who took the greatest care of me.
He quickly handed over his post to the younger generation and transferred to the not-so-popular northern fortress by his own volition. He was a person I greatly respected.
「Are you doing well?」
「Yes, thank you. Captain Ballam also seems well.」
「I’m always healthy.」
Captain Ballam laughed just as he did when he was in the Royal Palace.
「This place’s a lil’ cold」
「That’s true, when compared to the Capital.」
Walking alongside Captain Ballam, I entered the northern fortress. It’s further north than the capital, and being in the mountains, it was cold. I’d heard it was terrible with the snow in the winter. At a time when only the nights felt chilly in the Royal Capital, it was already shivering cold here.
「Tomorrow, our troops will depart for the Royal Capital. It’s only for a short while, but I’ll be in your care.」
「Yes, thank you.」
「Once you’ve rested, let’s have a drink together. We have a lot to catch up on. Let’s have a feast with everyone today.」
I returned a smile to Captain Ballam, who was grinning widely. Most of the knights in the northern fortress were to go to the capital, but Captain Ballam would remain. I was happy I could work again with him, even if it was only for a short time.
I was shown to my assigned room within the fortress. I was grateful that a single person room had been prepared for me. It was for a short while, and it was like renting a room, so it’d been fine even if it had been a common room.
Of course, when compared to my room in the Royal Capital, it was smaller but I had no complaints.
Once alone in the room, the first thing I did was to open the window.
I began my life in the northern fortress. Captain Ballam called the shots, and there was not a single problem; the days went by peacefully. There were members other than Captain Ballam who’d also stayed back— we happily spent our time exchanging swords with them and mingling with the locals.
Once such a day had settled down, I, on Captain Ballam’s invitation, called upon the Captain’s study at night.
「Glad to see you came.」
Captain Ballam seemed to be in high spirits, and had made arrangements for alcohol. I wonder if he pilfered it from the dining hall, for there seemed to be some kind of hors d’oeuvre on the table too. Seeing that, I ended up laughing. He’d always been a lover of wine t. I could also hold my liquor well and thus had often accompanied him when I was a rookie.
Amongst my superiors, I’d spent the most time with him.
「How’s work at the Royal Palace?」
「I’m still green, but I’m managing somehow.」
Taking the glass which had been prepared, we talked without constraints.
「Anyhow, they work you hard. After all, they’re slave drivers.」
Using the name of the Captain of the Knight Order and the Vice-Captain, Captain Ballam laughed. If I’m not mistaken, the Vice-Captain and he were colleagues, and got along well.
While the topics crossed many things, such as state of the royal palace and life in the northern fortress, we whiled away our time, and Captain Ballam was smiling cheekily.
「Incidentally, quite a rumour has spread about you. It’s even reached my place.」
Seeing the Captain speak while grinning widely, I choked on my drink. I never knew that it’d even reached here. The power of rumours is scary.
「I never thought you’d get together with a man. Moreover, a kid from the Tech Order?」
「Seeing that he’s the same age as you, is it that black-haired kid? He seems a bit apathetic, but he‘s a softer guy than he looks.」
「Ah…I guess. You know quite a bit.」
I ended up smiling at Captain Ballam’s impression of Nidel-dono. Nevertheless, this was well-understood by the many people within the Royal Palace.
「Well, there’s few young people assigned to the Tech Order. When you’d joined the Royal Palace, I was also the Captain, so I’d paid attention and remembered all who’d newly joined.」
「I see, this is quite informative.」
「So then, what happened? I’d heard from the rumours that everyone around has accepted it favourably.」
Asked by Captain Ballam, I placed my glass on the table and was at a loss as to what to reply. Captain too noticed my troubles.
「What’s wrong? Is it not going well with him?」
「No…rather than not going well…」
「Hm? What is it?」
「About that matter, I’m a little troubled.」
I was a little hesitant, but I thought of consulting with him on this occasion. Captain was stationed in the northern fortress, and being far from the Royal Palace, it was easy to talk to him. Moreover, even when Captain Ballam had been in the Royal Palace, I’d consulted him. He was the only one whom I could consult with on personal matters within the Knight Order. It wasn’t as if I didn’t trust other people, but I was poor at talking about myself.
「Nidel-dono is…Ah, his name is Nidel-dono.」
「Um, we aren’t going out. And yet, the rumours grew too large, and even the King ended up mentioning it, and I couldn’t deny it at that late hour…」
「Is that so? That’s quite unfortunate. He’s not your lover, huh.」
「Probably, you say…you get along well, right?」
「Yes. We’ve become friends just a while back, and the two of us often drink in my room.」
「You’re a little introverted, so people you get along well with are quite invaluable.」
「That’s right. That’s why, he’s a precious friend.」
Captain Ballam knew my nature well, as expected. I, who certainly felt relieved having someone hear my story, took the glass in my hand again. Captain Ballam, placing a hand on his cheek, looked at me and opened his mouth.
「So, he’s like a friend but you did this and that.」
I once again choked on the wine I was taking a sip of. I wonder what he thought of my reaction, but Captain let out a sigh as if amazed.
「Looking at that, seems like you’ve done it.」
「No, you don’t need to apologise to me. Because you did it, you couldn’t deny the rumours.」
「That’s exactly the case.」
When I affirmed, Captain Ballam laughed.
「So you’re “friends with benefits”.. Well, there are many among the Knights who have such relationships. There are a few even in this fortress. It isn’t unusual in a place with only men. You don’t hold any feelings of love towards that Nidel kid, do you?」
「Again with the probably…irresolute fellow, aren’t you. What about your partner?」
「Nidel-dono…likes me, I think…」
When I said that, Captain Ballam once again raised an astonished voice.
「It’s isn’t as if he told me outright …but I think that’s the case. Um, he was the one who propositioned me first too…」
It was like an excuse, but in any case, it was the truth, so I said it in a low voice.
「And you just went with the flow.」
「Did you do it just once?」
「Did the other party proposition you」
「No, lately I’d been propositioning…」
The answers being what they are, I felt like running away. But I felt since I’ve begun consulting for once, I had to answer all of Captain Ballam’s questions.
 He’s basically saying he wants to sleep with Nidel.
 He’s subtly implying they had sex.
The awesome Ossan Ballam makes his appearance! I’d totally feel like banging my head on the table if I were him.
Legato doesn’t realise it but his actions make it clear about how much he loves Nidel〜