She and the Unexpected Reunion 2
“Lidi, have you ever heard of something like this?”
Freed asked me. I nodded to him.
“Tiris told me something similar before. It’s all hearsay, but some people were calling it the guardian deity of the royal capital. It hasn’t killed anyone, yet only harmed wrongdoers, so the guards let it be.”
“W-We’d never leave it alone!”
The guard captain shouted, cutting the story short.
Incredulously, I shot a glance at him, and he awkwardly averted his gaze.
“T-That is… It was an unbelievable story, so as I said earlier, we thought it was a joke or a simple rumor. However, since verifying the veracity of these reports, I’ve devoted many soldiers, working endlessly to ascertain its identity! We’d never leave it alone!!”
The guard captain desperately insisted that he hadn’t been skipping work, and Freed nodded.
“It’s fine. I don’t think you were neglecting your duty. It follows the story my wife heard. Right, Lidi?”
“Also, I read in yesterday’s report that you’re thinking of exterminating this beast?”
Freed urged him to continue talking, so the guard captain began to elaborate.
“Yes, certainly. So far, that beast has only bared its fangs at criminals. However, in the end, it’s still an unpredictable beast. We don’t know what it is thinking or what it will do. It may eventually attack innocent people. It appears just outside the royal capital where many people travel… I know some people call it a guardian deity, but we’re considering pre-emptive extermination for the sake of the citizens.”
Freed nodded with his arms folded, and while sitting next to him, I thought that there really might be no other way.
The outer gate opened to the royal capital. Everybody took that main road to the royal capital, Lindwurm. There were various problems with a beast lurking there.
“Have the guards come into contact with the beast?”
When Freed asked that, the guard captain stuttered.
“N-No… We’ve searched various places mentioned in the sightings, but it hasn’t shown. I believe it’s a considerably intelligent beast. Nevertheless, some citizens have caught sight of it, so we have at least some information.”
“It has a black and grey body. Some people described it as dog-like. Others say it’s significantly larger than a dog, maybe more like a wolf. At least we can assume it’s a Canidae-type beast. Since it acts mostly undetected, not much is clear… I’m deeply sorry for providing only vague information.”
The guard captain shrank.
Freed then turned to me.
“And that’s the situation. Lidi.”
— What does he mean?
I tilted my head not understanding why his attention turned to me. Freed continued.
“Lidi, a while ago, you mentioned how you purchased a creature from the owner of the circus and released it outside the royal capital, right?”
So many things have happened that I’d completely forgotten.
However, now that he reminded me, I could remember it clearly.
“You’re saying it’s the child from that time!?”
Freed’s eyes affirmed my deduction was correct.
“There’s a decent possibility, I think. Its colors match those of the wolf Lidi released. It acts alone and the time of each sighting matches up. Isn’t it possible that this rumored ‘beast’ is the same one Lidi saved?”
“B-But…. He didn’t speak human language?”
At that time, he seemed to understand my words but hadn’t responded. When I brought that up, Freed replied, “Couldn’t he just have been cautious?”
“Lidi, before meeting you he constantly suffered. Could trusting a person upon release be so easy, even if you were his savior? I think it’s natural he stayed silent.”
“… I see.”
That sounded very plausible.
Moreover, that wolf had been in a circus. Animals are reduced to a spectacle there. And forcing animals to perform trained tricks was the main allure of such a performance.
Perhaps, his trick was to use human speech.
The person who had seemed to be his owner had said he’d bought him because he’d been ‘extremely rare’. And yet, he was ‘useless’.
It made sense that, despite knowing human speech, he hadn’t done anything because he hated his owner.
“Yeah. That’s why you’re here, Lidi. Since you saved him, you wouldn’t want him disposed of without your knowledge, right?”
“I’d hate that.”
I took off his collar and set him free so he could survive. If Wilhelm soldiers exterminated him, I’d be overwhelmed with regret.
I could only be grateful that Freed inferred the beast’s identity from the report and brought me here.
“… But I wonder why he is still around the royal capital. I expected him to go back home long ago.”
That was why I didn’t think of that child right away.
In my mind, he’d long left Wilhelm. I really believed so.
“He may have been delivered from afar and couldn’t reach home even if he wanted to. Or perhaps, he may be repaying you, Lidi, by attacking evildoers.”
I was surprised to hear something so unexpected. Freed smiled gently.
“Lidi, for him, you’re his savior. And maybe he can’t go home. So he probably wants to repay that compassion. He’s a smart beast that can speak our language, so it’s possible he’s decided to protect the land where you live.”
“… He doesn’t have to do that.”
I just wanted him to safely return to his fellows.
But since he couldn’t go home, was he trying to return the favor to me all by himself? Hearing that was so painful that my chest tightened. I felt sorry I’d only offered him half-hearted help.
“Freed. Please. I want to save him. Don’t kill him.”
It could be my fault that he was still near the royal capital, so I couldn’t allow his death.
“He’s an incredibly intelligent child. I don’t think he’ll attack innocent people. Please…”
I pulled on Freed’s sleeve and clung to him.
If the rumored beast was that wolf, I’ll help him no matter what.
I stared into Freed’s eyes. Then, he stroked my hair.
“… It would be difficult to let him go after the rumors spread so much. Let’s bring him into the castle.”
“Eh, is that fine?”
When I understood what Freed said, my eyes went wide.
Was he serious about keeping a huge wolf that seemed to understand human language?
Dogs were one thing, but I didn’t think a wolf would be allowed.
“Won’t His Majesty and everybody in the castle oppose it?”
“I’ll leave him in the care of my stableman. He’s good with animals in general, so I think he’ll be a safe choice. Our fathers… Yeah, it should be okay if you ask, Lidi. Lately, those two have been weak to you. Well, it’s the same for me.”
“Really? Then, I’ll do my best to convince them.”
“I think we’ll have to isolate him at first and see what happens. Lidi, is that fine?”
He’s a smart boy. If it’s explained to him properly, he won’t bite or hurt anyone in the castle.
However, not everybody will know that. A big wolf suddenly appearing in the castle… would normally be scary.
I’ll have to get everyone accustomed to him slowly. While thinking about what could happen, I thanked Freed.
“Thanks, Freed. I didn’t expect him to still be around. I’m sorry for causing trouble.”
The whole situation happened because I carelessly released the wolf. It had been nothing but my wishful thinking he would return home. I should’ve considered the possibility of him causing trouble or hurting somebody.
“It was no trouble for me, so I don’t mind. Besides, from the moment I read the report, I had that idea.“
Even though I completely forgot about it, it was just like Freed to remember it.
Once again I realized the importance of reporting things to Freed.
This time too. Thanks to talking about the wolf, he unknowingly avoided extermination. Another problem like this may very well happen in the future too.
I engraved in my heart the importance of communication.
“… Will that child follow us to the castle?”
I remembered how the wolf acted with his former owner.
Will he really be okay being kept by me? Will he agree to being housed in the castle? Those were the only things I was worried about.
“Lidi, you saved him from further harm, so I believe he’ll be happy to be by your side. The odds are looking good.”
“I-Is that so? I’d be happy though…”
If he couldn’t go home, I wanted to take him into my care. Wolves are creatures that form packs. Since he now lived alone with no company, I wanted to provide him with that.
“Since he can speak, I wonder if we could learn about his home and eventually bring him there… It would be better than keeping him at the castle.”
I hadn’t seen it so I couldn’t say anything for sure, but I honestly preferred sending him there if possible.
While I was pondering about that, Freed nodded.
“I can’t say anything for certain because I don’t know how much human speech it can understand. But supposing he can communicate with us, that’s certainly possible. Of course, it would be better for him to return to where he had been born and raised.”
I sincerely agreed, concluding the issue.
Freed spoke to the guard captain, who was silently observing our conversation.
“We’ll take that beast into our care. Sorry, but can you delay your extermination plan?”
“O-Of course. If Your Highness says so… It hasn’t caused problems with ordinary people yet, so I have no issue with waiting a few days…”
“That’s sufficient. Let everybody know we’ll be taking care of it. Lidi, we still have some time today, so how about we go right away?”
Freed stood up and offered me a hand. I took it and stood up as well.
The guard captain said in a fluster.
“If that’s all right, I’ll escort you to the scene of the last sighting. However, I don’t know if we can meet him there.”
That was certainly a good plan.
I gratefully took the guard captain on his offer.
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