The collar struck by the cat’s paw fell to the ground. At the sight of the priceless treasure of the Imperial Family, the Goddess’s Heart, rolling on the ground, the servants inhaled sharply. However, the cat who had committed the atrocious deed was sitting idly at the head of the bed.
Calix looked alternatingly between the cat that had its back turned toward him and the collar which had fallen to the ground.
Just a while ago, when they had finished their dinner and were returning, it looked to be in a fairly good mood. When it leapt on the bed, scratching at its neck and crying out, he thought it was uncomfortable and took its collar off, but its behavior changed at that moment. Fiercely slapping away the collar before it, the cat immediately turned its back to Calix. Looking at the cat that was facing the wall absent-mindedly with its small back turned toward him, he could tell that its mood was extremely bad. What has gotten into it this time, Calix contemplated.
A couple days ago, there was an incident in which the cat had gotten lost and scratched Calix. It seemed happy to see him when he first found it, but once it was lifted into his arms, the cat cried sharply and took out its claws. At that attack, Calix had almost instinctually twisted the cat’s neck. He wondered if the cat meant to bare its fangs at him like that. But it soon acted adorable as if nothing had happened. Thinking about it now, it seemed to be mad at Calix for coming so late.
Without needing to think about it, the small black cat asked for anything it wanted.
It wasn’t like its words could be understood, but it wasn’t hard to figure out what it wanted. All he had to do was listen to what it was saying and follow what it was looking at. But this time, he couldn’t easily get a sense of what was wrong.
Calix took the collar the maid picked up and handed to him and placed it beside the cat. It glanced at the collar and slapped it away once more. Then it turned its back to Calix again and sat idly. Only after seeing the obvious rejection did Calix get a rough guess of why the cat was in such a bad mood.
“Do you dislike that collar?”
Still showing its back to him, the cat’s ears turned toward Calix and twitched. But its body was still turned away.
“Should I have a new collar brought?”
This time, its ears moved with a higher degree of animation, and its tail tapped the floor quickly. At that response, Calix knew that the cat had understood him. As he called the manservants to bring the merchant residing at the palace, the cat jumped to its feet and came to Calix, crying lovingly, Nyaaaa—
“What about this one, Your Highness Crown Prince.”
The merchant presented a woman’s necklace. Even while he was speaking to Calix, the shrewd merchant showed his experience as he offered the item to the cat.
In the bedroom, luxurious boxes were opened and strewn about. The merchant residing in the palace was always ready with valuable accessories. Because of this, soon after he was called upon, one could look through the items.
The merchant, who had learned beforehand of what kinds of goods Calix wanted by slipping sums of money into the hands of the servants, was able to quickly pick the wares and rush there. The countless items spread out before them were mostly women’s necklaces, good for adjusting into the cat’s collar. As soon as the merchant spread out his wares, the cat had assumed a pompous air and sauntered through the items, choosing its collar. Calix did not interfere at all and observed the cat.
After wandering for a long time among the jewels, the cat suddenly stopped in its tracks. The merchant who had been following the cat hesitantly quickly raised up the item. It was a necklace with a dazzling, blue sapphire. Meeting Calix’s gaze, the cat meowed, Nyaang— It seemed to like the necklace. Calix nodded at the merchant.
After that, the cat carefully looked through the wares and picked the necklaces it wanted. The way the cat was only selecting expensive and high-quality items, it wasn’t surprising how the face of the merchant, who stooped as he followed the cat, was glowing brightly.
Only after selecting seven extremely expensive necklaces did the cat walk delicately over to sit on Calix’s lap. It must have been in a good mood, a deep purr coming from its throat. Once the merchant left, it abruptly swung its tail to rest atop Calix’s hand. Calix looked back and forth between the cat’s face and its tail, which was put towards him as if telling him to touch it. It usually never allowed him to touch its tail or stomach.
When he only looked and made no move to touch it, the cat moved its tail around on his hand as if telling him to feel it. The black, supple tail tickled his palm. Calix closed his fist and gently grasped the tail. At that, the tail flinched as if nervous and then relaxed, falling limp.
Calix held the tail carefully and stroked it from base to tip.
Much like the cat’s slight frame, its tail was delicate and thin. He still didn’t know how such a small and fragile being hadn’t left his side. He considered the possibility that he himself had changed, but other animals still spooked around him. The only exception was the cat.
Calix thought of the incident several days ago when it had scratched him.
As if its behavior up until now was an illusion, the cat unsheathing its claws momentarily made him consider a leash with which to tie him. Or perhaps a cage.
The warmth of it comfortably curled up sleeping on his stomach and the soft fur slipping under his hand, even the round eyes that met his without even a speck of fear or doubt. At the thought that those things might, at any moment, disappear, instead of considering whether to abandon or let go of the animal which had become violent, he thought about finding any means to keep it by his side. Luckily it always came back into his embrace.
The creature was peerlessly intelligent, so if it put its mind to leaving, there would be no way to stop it, except to tie it up or lock it up. Yet he knew if he did this, it would never return to its affectionate self. But he still had no intentions of letting it go peacefully. There was only one thing to do. Tame it so it would never think of wanting to leave his side. Just this.
Calix took his hand from the tail he was feeling and stroked the small back. Touching its tail must have been uncomfortable, as its eyes softened and relaxed. He gently stroked its back, and the cat met Calix’s gaze and gave a small meow, Nyaang. It should have been merely the cry of an animal, but at that sound, a small ripple was created in a corner of his heart.
If only nothing would change from this point on.
Calix’s eyes softened, enjoying the small warmth of the creature under his hand.
:3 Surprise! This chapter was out really fast! Lol mostly because it took a long time to get ch 8 edited. Definitely don’t expect this quick an update for future chapters…sadly, this is the last short chapter we’ll have in a while. Meaning the following chapters might take longer for me. Hopefully I’ll keep it to one every 7 days since my college apps are done, though! Happy finals! (Mine are in 2 weeks T.T)
A big thank you to Kiki for the coffee!