She and the Watchdog 2
Just as we arrived, the soldiers were throwing what looked like a black net at the wolf we were searching for.
Although he became trapped in the net, his fighting spirit hadn’t diminished. He struggled with all his power, rampaging within his restraints to somehow free himself.
Looking at him, I became sure that he was the wolf I rescued from the circus owner. I expected that to be the case, but was still strangely shocked by the confirmation.
— So, he hadn’t returned home.
I thought I understood.
Ever since hearing from Freed that child was here, I’d been looking forward to our reunion.
But actually seeing him in Wilhelm, unable to return to his peers, was like a slap to my face of how selfish my actions had been.
He had been sold to a circus and brought to Wilhelm. It was impossible for him to know the way back after being released in an unfamiliar place.
— I’d bought that child and released him. I had to take responsibility.
I bit my lip.
Freed called my name. I understood what exactly he meant by that act and nodded, still in his arms.
“Yup, I have no doubt. It’s that child.”
“Got it. Then we’ll capture him as planned. Lidi, he should listen to what you say, so go on.”
“I hope he will…”
I wanted him in my custody unharmed. I’d do anything for that, but the first problem was whether that child would even recognize me.
Freed placed me down. Around ten soldiers surrounded that child.
It seemed like the trap succeeded in safely ensnaring the wolf.
I thought it’d be easy to talk to him like this, but the soldiers were shouting tensely.
“He’s too strong! If things continue like this, he’ll escape!”
“There’s no way! This net is imbued with magic! It’s not that simple to break out!”
“This is bad, the net is tearing!”
The wolf rampaged with all of his might. The magically enhanced net still confined that child, but it wasn’t going to last much longer.
“Please! Be quiet!”
I spontaneously shouted, desperately needing to be noticed somehow.
If we wasted this opportunity, that child would never appear in front of people again.
Even though all he did was help people, he ended up in such a cruel predicament. We only wanted to take him into our protection, but that child didn’t know that. It was more than likely that he’d hide himself out of self-preservation.
This was probably the only chance we had.
“Princess Consort! It’s dangerous, so please step back!”
A soldier tried to stop me when I moved forward, but I didn’t step back. On the contrary, I approached the wolf.
I didn’t know whether he remembered me, but we couldn’t start talking unless I made myself noticed.
I came right in front of the menacing wolf that was rampaging to get out of the net. The wolf leaned forward and roared. The aura of uncontrolled anger was emanating from all over his body.
I frantically talked to him.
“Do you remember me? I didn’t introduce myself before, but I’m Lidi. I’ve come to help you. I’m sorry, the last time I only helped you half-heartedly. It must’ve been hard to be left alone in a place like this. I’m sorry for not noticing earlier. You might think it’s late for me to do this, but I’ve come to pick you up.”
The wolf stopped groaning and looked at me like he was trying to determine something. He had grey eyes that, depending on the angle, looked like they were silver and glittering. They were captivating.
“If things continue on like this, you’ll be put down, because you might pose a threat to everyone. But I don’t want that to happen. You feel the same way, right? It’s why I want you to come with me. I promise I won’t do anything bad to you. Please!”
Even from our short interaction in the past, I knew he was a very smart child.
I hadn’t witnessed him speaking the human language, so I couldn’t say any more than that, but I felt like he could at least understand the words I was saying.
“Come with me…”
I begged again. Before I knew it, the wolf’s anger disappeared. Instead, he was energetically moving his nose.
Apparently, he was checking my scent against his memories.
I wondered whether to get even closer, but I was stopped by Freed, who slipped behind me unnoticed.
“You mustn’t get any closer, no matter what.”
“It seems his anger has abated, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely let down his guard. I couldn’t keep on living if something happened to you, Lidi. So don’t get any closer.”
If he insisted that much, I couldn’t act selfishly.
I also understood Freed’s feelings, since it could be dangerous to approach further.
“… Come with me. Please.”
Instead of stepping closer, I reached out my hand. The wolf looked at me and Freed, and then at the soldiers surrounding him.
His bark almost sounded like, “Fine,” so my eyes widened.
“R-Really? You’ll come with me? Honestly, I’d prefer to return you to your hometown, but that seems difficult, so I thought about keeping you in the castle. Are you okay with that?”
He returned a positive-sounding reply. I turned to Freed and told him.
“Freed! We can keep him!”
“Eh…? I mean, certainly, that seems the case to me too, but…”
“I’m telling you, it’s fine. Hey! You’re coming to the castle, right?”
He responded cheerfully.
When I asked, “Okay?” Freed said in blank amazement.
“… I had faith he’d follow you, Lidi, but I didn’t expect you’d understand each other so well… By the way, have any of you heard this wolf speaking the human language?”
Freed asked the nearby soldiers, and they all shook their heads.
“We know about the rumors, but we haven’t heard it. To begin with, it’s the first time we’ve actually seen him…”
“Come to think of it, you’re right… Can you speak?”
Freed addressed the wolf. The wolf once again barked, “Woof.”
What a nice response.
“… He acts like he understands us, but… he doesn’t seem to speak the human language.”
“That might’ve been nothing but a rumor.”
When the soldiers told him that, Freed looked convinced.
“However… why does this wolf bark?”
When Freed muttered that, I displayed a bit of what I knew from my previous life.
“Wolves kept by people tend to become like that. This child appears to be able to communicate with humans to an extent. Isn’t it from what he learned in the circus previously?”
By the way, this was the knowledge I learned in a zoo once. I had read the explanation on a display and then memorized it.
I liked learning those small bits of trivia, so it was quite amusing that it turned out to be useful for this specific purpose.
“Ohh, you know a lot, Lidi.”
“Trivia is something I’ve always been interested in.”
Freed nodded to me in recognition of my words and addressed the soldiers.
“There doesn’t seem to be a problem here. Remove the net already.”
His order surprised the guard captain who was in charge of the soldiers.
“Y-Your Highness. Is that really safe?”
“Yes. He seems to recognize Lidi, so he won’t go berserk or run away.”
“Still… he’s a beast. How far does his recognition go?”
The guard captain looked skeptical, which I found natural.
I spoke to the wolf though.
“Please. Will you stay obedient after the net is removed?”
In response to my words, he wagged his tail. Then he cheerfully replied.
“See? He says he’ll listen to us.”
“… You heard her.”
Freed spoke to the guard captain, who had a complicated expression on his face, unsure what to say.
“No… Well… Eeh? Is it really all right, Your Highness?”
“Lidi says it’s okay. If anything happens, I’ll stop the wolf. There won’t be any problems.”
“If Your Highness insists… I understand.”
The guard captain didn’t seem to agree, but he ordered everybody to remove the rope.
The large net was removed by five soldiers. As I’d said, the wolf was very well behaved and stayed still after the net completely came off.
The soldiers were moving cautiously, but the wolf didn’t show any signs of trying to run away despite being set free.
He sat down and looked at me.
— He sure was smart.
However, he was as big as I had remembered him, easily the size of a big dog.
His stylish silhouette was cool. It reminded me of a hunting dog. He was a wolf, though.
His tail looked so fluffy that I wanted to touch it.
Basically, I was weak to animal ears and tails. I was drawn to parts that humans didn’t have. Rather, I couldn’t resist them.
I found the wolf to be well-behaved, and thus, cute, so I tried getting closer, but Freed stopped me.
He slowly shook his head from side to side.
“This wolf has been stray for a long time. He might have caught an infectious disease. Wait for veterinarian approval before touching him.”
“… Ah, okay. I understand.”
His voice was so serious that I nodded my head. Cain agreed.
“Princess, you’re the Crown Princess. It’d be terrible if something happened to you. I’ll take him along instead. That will probably work best.”
“You’re right… Please do.”
Editor: Alexis, CoastalService