The night in the forest was terribly cold.
Even though it was a fur-bearing creature, it would certainly feel this chill. This is what Crown Prince Calix thought as he looked at the small animal.
The cat, with lustrous black fur, was sleeping curled up in a circle. There were long intervals between the rising and falling of the cat’s stomach as it breathed slowly. It was fast asleep. During its sleep the cat’s nose occasionally twitched or its legs jerked, and one could guess what kind of dream it was having.
Just a little while earlier, the cat had crawled onto Calix’s stomach, shivering. It had been moving about and restless with its eyes closed, still asleep. It kept tossing and turning, trying to find a warmer spot, and the Crown Prince eventually covered it with the blanket. Only when it was swaddled in warmth between the blanket and the Crown Prince’s stomach did it sleep deeply.
The unfamiliar cat, which had fallen asleep on his stomach without hesitation, was really very small now that he looked at it. It seemed to be a bit smaller than the average cat. Its body heat was higher than a human’s, leaving the spot on his abdomen where the cat was sleeping warm.
How strange, the Crown Prince thought while gazing at the cat.
By nature, animals are sensitive to murderous intent and the smell of blood. Perhaps it was because he had become accustomed to being on the battlefield from an early age, but whether it was a wild mountain animal or a tamed beast, whenever the Crown Prince came near, the animal would flee from him. Or perhaps it was just that his aura was naturally like that. Even in his younger years, when he did not yet know the smell of blood, animals strangely avoided him. Because of this, the Crown Prince had never touched the soft coat of a wild animal. At least, not when it was alive.
Maybe it had felt his gaze, but the cat suddenly moved slightly. He wondered if it had woken, but it didn’t appear so. After momentarily squirming and shifting, it resumed breathing softly. It was strange to think that such a small animal was sleeping soundly on his stomach. The Crown Prince felt an odd sensation at the novelty of it all and carefully reached out his hand.
The silently extended hand paused over the black fur. The Crown Prince’s gold-colored eyes cautiously glanced at the cat’s face. Wondering if it was really fine to touch it, his eyes were glued to its face for a long time, but the cat merely continued to sleep calmly. The frozen Crown Prince’s hand continued moving.
His palm touched the cat’s fur. Just by lightly running his hand down the fur, its softness was like touching the finest of silk. After a few strokes of barely touching the fur, he let his hand brush the small, warm body with a little more weight. As he stroked from the tiny head — smaller than his fist — down the curved back and to its rear, a small sound came from the cat, Mmrrrrp—
With a few twitches of its small nose, the closed eyelids lifted slowly. After blinking a couple times, the cat gazed at the Crown Prince’s face as if inspecting it and opened its mouth wide in a long yawn. Then the cat buried its face again and closed its eyes. It acted as if it was absolutely sure this place was the safest location of all.
The Crown Prince began to stroke the cat again. Unlike before, his hand moved without hesitation. The body heat of an animal he was feeling for the first time was warm, and the fur under his hands was incomparably soft.
“You are a strange one.”
Mixed within the murmuring voice of the Crown Prince was a faint warmth. Simon, who easily sensed this, glanced at the cat that was curled up on the Crown Prince’s stomach and knitted his eyebrows.
It was certainly a very odd cat. It was hard to see the cat as merely bold and clever. From long before, it was a famous story that even loving, sociable lapdogs would run with their tails tucked at the approach of the Crown Prince. And even beyond that, the Crown Prince was not able to handle the hunting falcons. No matter how well-trained and mild an animal was, it would spook in the presence of the Crown Prince. This didn’t apply to only animals. From newborn babies to small children, when the Crown Prince came near, they would start crying and throw a fit. But that cat, not only did it go up to the Crown Prince and beg for food on its own volition, it even climbed onto his stomach and was sleeping.
Simon vigilantly shot a burning gaze at the cat with suspicion.
Just seeing how it approached the Crown Prince unreservedly, there was no way it was your average cat. There must be something to it.
Simon forced himself to suppress his urge to separate the cat from the Crown Prince immediately. This was the Crown Prince who had, strangely, never expressed emotion ever since he was young. But now, however faint it was, an expression of warmth illuminated his face. During the many years he had been at his side, Simon had never seen this side of the Crown Prince.
It was only one night. They were to leave early tomorrow morning for the imperial palace, and the uncomfortable presence of the cat would be dealt with like that. They were without a carriage and only had knights and soldiers, so there wasn’t a way to bring it along. However agile this cat was, it was impossible that it could run after them all the way to the palace. As he thought this, Simon closed his eyes.
Like I always say. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Internally, K nodded slowly in satisfaction. His body rocked steadily, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it was quite warm and snug. Whether or not it was slightly claustrophobic was debatable, but this level was a full score of 100 out of 100.
K was currently curled up on Calix’s stomach. To be more exact, he was between the Crown Prince’s stomach and his shirt. Although he couldn’t see it himself, the Crown Prince was currently riding on the galloping horse with a bulging stomach. Imagining the stone-faced Crown Prince mounted on the horse with a potbelly, K snickered to himself. Could he have felt K laughing? Over the shirt cloth, something stroked K’s back and disappeared. It must have been the Crown Prince’s hand petting him.
Such nice guys were hard to find in the world. Score.
K was so moved by this he even gave a few gentle rubs to the Crown Prince’s stomach with his own plush paws.
It seemed they were going at a considerable speed. The vibrations and sounds he picked up with his ears were quite intense. But it didn’t bother K who was curled up comfortably in the Crown Prince’s stomach.
For some time now, K had labeled the Crown Prince as his provider. Because no matter how hard you could look, it would be rare to come across a human that fit his needs so perfectly. He didn’t know what galaxy or kingdom he was crown prince of, but he was still the Crown Prince. No doubt he lived in a huge palace and would provide him with the best quality food. He would be living a life even finer than Paris Hilton’s lapdog.
Of course, he didn’t determine it only based on these factors. The most important thing was the person’s character. Didn’t the way he gave his food to a lost cat in the forest demonstrate this? And even this morning, when K was frustratingly trying to tear at the cold, hardened boar meat, the Crown Prince considerately pulled off strips of meat with his own hands for him. Even going as far as to trim the fatty parts that K so hated! The Crown Prince’s own thoughtfulness reminded K of his own mother. His mother would always skim the fat off his fish meat with her spoon. Having being raised pampered and treasured, wouldn’t it be obvious that the human to take care of him must be at least at that level.
Coiled up, unmoving and daydreaming about the lavish palace life spread out before him, K’s ears pricked up. He suddenly felt the urge to drink some water. Without hesitation, K scratched at the Crown Prince’s chest with his front feet.
After a few scratches they stopped moving.
“What is it, your highness?”
On the other side of the shirt he heard a voice. K quickly identified it as the voice of the one who was always at the Crown Prince’s side, Simon. K used the Crown Prince’s chest as a step and climbed up. He poked his head out at the Crown Prince’s neck and was hit with the outside air. K looked around at the odd expressions of the people who saw his head pop out from inside the Crown Prince’s shirt. They all looked like they had eaten shit. But K didn’t care and let out a heart-wrenching cry, Nyaaang—
A large hand grabbed his scruff and lifted him out. Dangling in the air, K faced the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince was looking at K with the same expressionless face he always wore, Nyaa— K cried looking into his peculiar golden eyes, Nyaa— he cried, eyeing the canteen hanging from the saddle.
I’m thirsty. Water.
His dangling body was placed down on the saddle. K looked with affectionate eyes at the Crown Prince who had understood him right away and was reaching for the canteen. Whether or not he understood the meaning in his gaze, the Crown Prince, cupping his palm, poured water in his own hand and put it out towards him. K regarded the impromptu water bowl in front of him blankly and looked up.
What. Are you expecting me to drink this?
K looked at the Crown Prince who was gazing at him patiently and turned his head. Glancing at the unsanitary reins he had just been holding and looking back at the Crown Prince’s hand extended towards him, a chill went down his spine. No doubt there were two million germs in there.
K considered it gravely. For about 3 seconds.
Seeing his sincerity, he wanted to drink at least one drop, but that was impossible. He could get an upset stomach from drinking that unclean water. K silently lifted his paw and batted away the hand in front of him coldly. The cupped hand loosened, and the water fell through to the ground. He didn’t pay attention to the sharps gasps from the knights next to him. Because I am precious.
Sitting elegantly and holding his head up stiffly, he met the Crown Prince’s golden eyes. K protested strongly to the Crown Prince.
It’s dirty. Wash your hands first.
Looking at K blankly, the Crown Prince suddenly glanced down at his hand. He then started to wash his hand with the water from the canteen. Rinsing it until the container was empty, with the last of the water, he caught it in his cupped palm and offered it to K. K studied the sloshing water bowl carefully and, reassured, quenched his thirst.
After satisfying his thirst, K lifted his head to look in the direction of the gazes that had been making his face tingle. The owner of such an intense gaze was a knight named Simon. Licking the drops that had stuck to the fur around his mouth, K opened his eyes narrowly at Simon. As if he had noticed him sneering, the man’s face twitched.
Once K pawed at his chest, the Crown Prince lifted him up and placed him inside his shirt. K turned and adjusted himself until he was perfectly comfortable.
Actually, K hadn’t been so thirsty that he absolutely needed to drink some water. This was all just setting up secure groundwork for the future. These were the basics of all human relationships. Rather…he should say human-cat relationships. Anywho. One had to start training them early on in order for things to be easier later. It was the person who takes initiative that will have it easy for the rest of his life after all.
Kekeke. You’re my prey now.
Tapping the Crown Prince’s chest softly with his paws, K secretly smiled.