She and the Watchdog 3
At first glance, he didn’t seem ill, but you never knew without examining first. I could also tell that both Freed and Cain were cautious, and I was definitely the most vulnerable of the three of us.
If something happened, this child would bear the responsibility. I wanted to avoid that, so I obediently agreed and spoke to the wolf.
“Sorry, but could you go along with Cain? You remember Cain, right? He’s the ninja who was with me before.”
“I keep telling you, I’m not a ninja. Indeed, how long will you keep describing me as such?”
I had a feeling that until I stopped the “Cain = ninja” association, this back and forth would repeat itself over and over again.
I felt bad for Cain, but he really should just give this up. From the beginning, I had asked him, at the time of the contract, if he would accept becoming my ninja.
The wolf seemed to remember Cain and approached him without much hesitation. Rather, he seemed to get closer of his own volition. Cain showed the wolf a collar that he prepared in advance.
The wolf made an unwilling expression, but he reluctantly presented his neck for it.
He really seemed to hate it, so I felt terribly apologetic.
“Sorry. I knew you’d hate the collar, but the others would be afraid of you without it, so please wear it until they become accustomed to your presence. It’s a normal collar. It’ll come off with enough force, so it won’t hurt you.”
Since he was previously subjugated with a magical collar, this one must’ve brought back those unpleasant memories. However, I couldn’t take him to the castle unrestrained.
I’d sorrowfully prepared this collar yesterday, thinking that it was at least better than a cage, but as expected, he seemed to hate it.
He disliked it so much that it prickled me with guilt.
I sympathized with him. If it was at all possible, I would prefer to remove the collar, but that wasn’t an option.
It seemed that he was unable to speak, so I couldn’t learn where he’d come from.
In other words, we’d have to keep him in the castle. Thus, I couldn’t remove the collar.
Some people even find cats and dogs scary. If a wolf in all its full glory was walking around, the uproar caused by that would be unimaginable.
I had to gradually earn everyone’s trust and help them realize he was, genuinely, a good boy. To get there, he needed to be restricted to a few visible, and limited, locations within the castle.
After all, if he caused any problems, he’d be driven out. I had to be careful.
Cain attached a leash to the collar. With that, the wolf truly looked like a dog. He seemed just like a husky. When everything was ready, Freed told the soldiers.
“As I said yesterday, we’ll be taking him into custody now. Everyone, you have my thanks.”
The regiment saluted simultaneously in response.
We were able to protect the wolf as planned, so we parted from the soldiers and returned immediately to the royal capital.
The townsfolk were startled at seeing that we had brought a wolf with us.
An acquaintance of mine, who ran a street stall, called out to me while we were on our way back to the castle.
“D-Dear Lidi. W-What do you intend to do with that?”
“Er, I’m thinking of keeping him in the castle.”
“‘Keep him’? Did I hear it right!?”
The townspeople, who pricked up their ears at hearing that, all clamored in response. Well, I’d expected such a reaction upon my return.
“Ah, it’s all right. He’s properly leashed. Besides, he’s a very smart boy. He can generally understand what we say.”
“R-Really…? W-Well, dogs also seem to understand what people say, however… is it truly all right? Dear Lidi, it would be terrible if you got hurt.”
“It’s all right.”
“I-I see. Then that’s fine.”
Seemingly at least a little relieved by my prompt reply, the street stall owner, who I regarded with affection, patted her chest and took a long, steadying breath.
“I’m sorry for making you worry.”
“If you understand, then please stop doing such crazy things.”
Seeing the honest worry on her face, I meekly answered, “I’ll be more mindful moving forward.”
What was that? Recently, I’d been feeling like the townsfolk were overprotective and overly worried for me.
“They’re worried because they don’t know what you, Princess, might do next.”
Even though I hadn’t said anything, Cain still replied to my questions.
How did he know?
“As usual, it showed on your face.”
Freed chuckled as though to agree with Cain’s bluntness.
“Don’t worry. I think that’s a good thing about you, Lidi.”
“Right, right. It’s your strong point.”
Since they said such words teasingly, I had a hard time believing them.
I had hung my head dejectedly, but then recovered as it couldn’t be helped. Fundamentally, I’m a person who doesn’t hold onto things like that.
While we continued to gather the townspeople’s attention, we resumed our trek to the castle.
Throughout our entire trip, the wolf hadn’t made a single sound. He seemed to behave as obediently as he could.
He really was quite intelligent.
Thanks to his cooperation, we didn’t make the onlookers more afraid than was expected.
“Your Highness, Princess Consort, welcome ba… Woah!?”
When we returned to the castle, the problem occurred again right at the gate. I’d known it would happen, so I explained the situation, which included receiving the King’s permission.
We were cautiously let inside, and so we quickly headed for the stables.
At the stable front, the handler who took care of Freed’s horse, Ventisca, was waiting for us.
He was an old man named Moore; of small stature, wearing gray overalls and military riding boots.
When Moore saw the wolf, his eyes sparkled.
“Ohh, I’ve been waiting for him! Uh huh! So this is the rumored wolf!”
When we’d asked him for assistance he’d agreed without a second thought. Now, he beamed with joy.
He received the leash from Cain and inspected the wolf’s body.
“He’s just a tad dirty, but hm… He seems healthy. Afterwards, I’ll have to feed him, and then inspect him for parasites…”
While muttering his plans going forward, he looked the wolf in the eyes.
“Grey… No, silver eyes? Does the appearance change depending on the angle…? How beautiful…”
Moore voiced his admiration. The wolf seemed to understand the reason for Moore’s excitement and reacted with resignation.
He didn’t even resist when Moore touched him. After inspecting the entire length of the wolf’s body, Moore nodded at the results.
“He doesn’t seem injured. Your Highness, Princess Consort, are you really leaving this wolf in my custody?”
“Yes, I’d prefer to leave him in your care.”
I also nodded along to Freed’s words.
Moore took care of Ventisca, so we believed that he could be relied upon for this.
“Please keep him near the stables for a while. We need people to start being aware of his presence at the castle.”
“I see, I will. By the way, what’s his name? I can tell that he’s male, but does he have a name?”
At that question, I thought, “Ah.”
“I didn’t think about it.”
But certainly, if I was planning on keeping him, he needed a name.
“… What name would suit him. Freed, do you have any ideas?”
“I’m sure that wolf would like to be named by you, Lidi, not me.”
I looked at the wolf. As if he understood our conversation, he barked, “Woof” in response.
Freed smiled a bit.
“See? It’s as I said. He’s telling you to do it, Lidi.”
“… If he’s okay with me, I’ll think about it.”
“Dear me, he’s such a smart boy.”
To my surprise, Moore hummed in admiration.
“His Highness’s horse, Ventisca, is also a very smart horse, but I feel he’s more than that. There’s a sparkle of wisdom in his eyes. It’s clear that he has a certain level of intelligence.”
“It felt like this child understands what we’ve been saying from the beginning.”
After I recounted the story from when I’d bought him from the circus to our present circumstances, Moore nodded in agreement.
“I’ve heard the rumor that he speaks the human language, but maybe there’s some truth to it? For now, we just have to wait and see.”
“Is that so?”
I looked at the wolf. He made an oblivious face and then looked away.
It’d be amazing if we could communicate normally.
“… It’s on the level where I can’t chalk it up as just imagining things. Ah, but the name… The name… That’s right!”
“Grau. This child’s name will be Grau!”
Grau means grey.
His eyes were a beautiful grey, and grey was also blended into his fur pattern. That inspired me to name him as such.
Both Freed and Cain nodded at that.
“Sounds good to me.”
Moore seemed to have no objection either.
I spoke to the wolf.
“Can I name you Grau?”
I’d respect his objection if he didn’t like it, but after a short pause, the wolf vigorously barked, “Woof!”
“He seems to like it.”
“Really!? I’m glad!”
Grau, who was barking joyfully, was outwardly a cool and tough-looking wolf, but to me he only looked strangely cute.
“All right, Princess Consort! And so, I’ll look after him from now on. I apologize, but could you wait in your room?”
“I understand. I will leave him to you.”
As things stood, I couldn’t even touch him, but once he passed all the medical examinations, I wanted to look after him with all my power.
“Grau. Moore will take care of you from now on. I don’t think you’ll be able to leave this area for a while, but endure it, okay? … I don’t believe that this is likely, but if you run into any problems, you won’t be able to stay here. So please, be careful.”
Grau replied in an obedient voice.
“Got it, leave it to me,” I felt like I heard in my mind.
“To begin with, shall we wash your body? Grau, you’ll have dinner after that!”
Moore declared heartily.
At the word ‘wash’ Grau whined, “Eep,” just like a dog, but I couldn’t help him, so I just cheered for him to hang in there.
Editor: Alexis, CoastalService
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