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"So the hole then…." Princess Meisian suddenly burst out laughing, moreover it wasn't some bashful giggle either but a full on guffaw. "HAHAHAHAHA, to think someone actually tried to crawl in through the hole…you're killing me here…AHAHAHA…"
'Hole? What the heck is she talking about? That was clearly the main entrance, how did it turn into a hole all of a sudden? Hold on…those guardcats were laughing as well when we entered… Anmi too…'
Looking around, I found that the normally stony faced guardcats were all chuckling as well, gone were their serious Forbidden Guardsmen demeanor with some even going so far as to double over in laughter.
"Isn't it obvious, those without doors panels are holes."
'The heck is that supposed to mean?! Why did an entranceway suddenly become so complicated?'
Princess Meisian laughed for a good long while before noticing the dumbstruck look on our faces. Still laughing, she explained the situation using a well-known Purgatory Shadowcat saying: "You still don't get it? Cats climb the wall, Dogs crawl through the hole!"
'Cats climb the wall and Dogs crawl through the hole? Ah, I think I get it now…what she's saying is that cats are agile while dogs are clumsier and can't climb over most obstacles like cats. That's why they have dog holes but never cat holes.'
Because of that explanation, I finally understood the true extent of their maliciousness. It wasn't just me either, the Cerberus couple were the most affected…seeing as they were actual dogs…
"So this is how the Shadowcats treat their guests?" Sinmosa gave the princess a piercing stare filled with anger that threatened spill out at any moment.
Sasani barked as well though most of us didn't know what he was saying. Judging from his contorted faces however, the contents were most likely the same as Sinmosa's.
"Hmph, those who come uninvited aren't guests." Meisian swept her scornful eyes over the two Cerberuses and then smirked: "Yo~, I never realized this before, we actually have two dogs in my house right now."
"…" Sasani finally couldn't hold in his anger anymore, curving his back slightly, he prepared to launch a leaping attack. Realizing this as well, the ten guardcats immediately put up a defensive posture.
"Ruff!" Sinmosa immediately stopped her husband from acting rashly using the tongue of the h.e.l.lhounds. Still, that didn't stop him from glaring at Princess Meisian one last time before turning around to face his family. Fearing his rashness might harm his family, he chose to swallow this indignation in the end.
"Smart choice." The princess threw the defeated dog a disdainful smile before raising her right claw, waving it about to signal to the other guardcats to relax.
We were still inside her castle, meaning this was her homeground and fighting on someone's homeground was beyond foolish.
The h.e.l.lhounds once fought a war with the Purgatory Shadowcats. In the end, both sides failed to make any gains and had to sign a white peace. Just from those words alone, it was clear how strong these cats were -at least at the level of the h.e.l.lhounds.
Given that, what would happen to us if we caused a ruckus in their territory? The answer was obvious…
If we were lucky, they would just kick us out. Depending on their mood, we might even end up dead or worse. Thus, fighting was definitely the worst choice we could make… 'Absolutely no, no fighting, right now we're the ones at the disadvantage so we have to play by their rules.'
"Your Esteemed Highness the Princess, how about we leave the jokes aside for now, we've long heard of Your Highness's profound knowledge and so we've come visiting…"
It was a carefully balanced praise, that neither went overboard nor skimped out on the flattery. Still, it proved to be a fruitful one. The moment I praised her profound knowledge, I noticed her eyes narrow ever so slightly in appreciation while her head tilted back and the corners of her mouth curled up. In other words, she was saying 'praise me more'. With that in mind, I quickly realized that flattering her was a more effective negotiation tool than force.
Rushing to take advantage of her good mood, I immediately followed that up: "Perhaps the answer which I seek might seem ever so insignificant to you, but I'm sure a profound scholar such as Your Highness would definitely be able to solve my conundrum. While this problem might be more difficult than climbing the heavens for me, it is but a trifling matter for Your Highness. Still, this answer is of utmost importance to me so I beseech Your Highness, enlighten me."
Truth be told, even I felt a little nauseous from what I just spat out from my mouth. Being a d*mn shut-in in my previous life, I basically had no friends or bosses to suck up to. Words such as those would have never left my mouth back on Earth, except as a joke of course. Things were different now however, circ.u.mstances being as they were, I had to adapt.
And that was why people always said, 'circ.u.mstances made the man.'
"Mhm, you're really good at talking, but don't think you can get what you want for free with just a few pretty words." Princess Meisian lazily licked her left claws before saying as such ever so slowly: "One mustn't escape from their obligations after all, that would be immoral."
'F***, I get it now, this d*mned cat must have some kind of task for us…well why didn't you just say so from the start, what's with all that sanctimonious talk about obligations and morality? Did you really have to put up a signboard announcing to the world that you're a b*tch? I swear…'
I truly wished to rail at her but I held back in the end. If I were to lose my temper now, all that I had done would have been for naught.
"And how may we service you…"
"Great question, I do in fact have a task for you."
'Finally we get to the main point…'
Prior to this, I already knew that the princess was warring with her brothers. The siblings would periodically send out their armies to fight with each other. Sometimes, it was brother versus brother. At times, it was sister versus the oldest brother. Other times, it was the second brother squaring off against his sister…so on and so forth.
Her army was evenly matched against her eldest brother resulting in their matches ending in a draw most of the time. Unless one side was able to subjugate the other with their overwhelming power, it was basically impossible for this civil war to end.
With that in mind, the task she gave us was to infiltrate her eldest brother's castle while it was empty and defeat him, forcing him to give up the rights to the throne and acknowledging the princess as the successor in the process.
"Simple, isn't it?" Having laid out her plans, she smiled before lowering herself to take another sip of juice; all that talking must've made her thirsty.
"Will their castle really be as empty as you say? Don't tell me there aren't any Six-stars elders guarding him." As I said that, I couldn't help but shiver from the thought of facing another Six-stars again. Even now, I could still vividly remember that overpowering aura radiating off that old dog Sidarth as if it was just yesterday. Should we encounter such opposition, this so-called a.s.sa.s.sination of us was just going to end in us becoming roadkill.
"Don't worry, as long as you state your purpose before fighting, and ensure them that you won't harm my brother, those elders above the level of Five-stars won't interfere." She confidently declared.
"Well then, what's your decision? If you refuse me, you'd better not regret that decision, after all, while I can't say for certain that we're the most knowledgeable race, I can at least say that in this very region, the Remnants of Sable Radiance, we Shadowcats are the most knowledgeable devils around."
'When she puts it like that, was there even a choice then? I'll do it!' Before that however, I had a more serious problem that needed to resolve right now: "If his castle is as empty as you say, I don't mind giving it a shot but we don't forget, we aren't Purgatory Shadowcats, would those elders even believe us if we say that we won't harm your brother?"
The fact that we weren't Purgatory Shadowcats was crucial here. After all, it was more than likely that they would kill us on sight as intruders rather than listen to our story. The prince was a potential Cat King candidate, lest we forget.
"That, you don't have to worry about, I'll have Anmi aid you guys. Should you encounter any Six-stars elders, Anmi will explain the situation to them so worry not."
At that, all our eyes turned to the feline in question who was currently in the midst of sneaking away.
"…Your Highness…you were looking for me?" Discovered, all he could do was awkwardly scratch his ears and gingerly return to his previous location.
"Anmi, you were trying to run away just now, weren't you?"
"No, no, not at all, Your Highness. My legs just…shook a little, perhaps it might have looked like I was trying to run away, but I can a.s.sure you, there's no such thing at all."
"Hah, exactly. It's not like I'm some kind of monstrosity after all, there's no reason for you flee from me…RIGHT?"
"Yes, yes , yes, Your Highness is too correct."
"Since you think so as well, I'm sure you know what you have to do next then?"
"…I do…I'll bring our guests to the castle of the Eldest Prince for a short excursion."
Satisfied, having gotten her way and all, she proudly declared: "Remember to hurry back."
"Yes…" Whimpered a certain cat who was on the verge of tears right now.
Just like that, we accepted the quest to pay a visit to the castle of the Eldest Prince, at the same time, we gained a new companion as well.
The Eldest Prince was known as Weiderly. His castle wasn't that far off from Meisian's castle, roughly a day's journey on foot, however, that didn't mean that this was going to be an easy quest either. In order to get to said castle, we had to first pa.s.s through a battlefield…in other words, we had to step into the crossfire between Weiderly's armies and Meisian's armies.