In Love With the Strongest Man

Translator: Shizukuku

Editor: Helen

Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!

Arc 3 True Identity

Chapter 1 Anything is fine, as long as you’re alive.

“Shuka-sama.” An old man from the village knelt down on his knees. He bowed deeply with wrinkled hands. “From this moment on, you are the new head of the village. Everything in this village will become Shuka-sama’s hands and feet.”

“—not me. It should be Gokkan.”

I knew that Gokkan was running for the position of head. He was a muscular man eight years older than me. I had thought that Gokkan would be more qualified to support the village.

“No, Shuka-sama. Gokkan is too ambitious. We must be selfless.” The old man looked up at me with hollow eyes as I stood there in a daze. In a hushed but stern voice, he made the same declaration once again, “You are the one who deserves to be the head. You are the most selfless person in the village. Please lead the Hidden Land.”

* * *

“Shuka-san, anyway, I have to leave for the village soon—”

“Relax, Langetsu. The village can handle it. How many times have we trained in case of an attack?”

“Yes, but they seem to be skilled members of the demon tribe…”

“Demon tribe? Why would they go all the way to that empty place again?”

As I was pondering, Ideal, who had followed me, gently put a blanket over my shoulders. He was a very kind man, but as soon as he saw Langetsu clinging to me, his expression turned horrible.

“—Would you like me to leave?”

Just as Ideal finished saying that, I saw a group of well-built servants gathering a short distance away. This was Ideal’s mansion. But now, for some reason, the decision seemed to be mine. I hesitated and nodded my head, wondering if it was really okay.

“I’d like to have a little talk with Langetsu here, if that’s possible. It’s something we can’t let the outside world hear, so it would be better if it were just the two of us— Is that okay?”

“…If that’s what Shuka-san would like.”

Ideal’s face turned away at my words. For a moment before he looked away, he seemed to have a different expression on his face than that of just mindless dissatisfaction.

Was he sulking? No way, I must have been mistaken.

“It’s cold outside even in the afternoon, so go into the greenhouse.”

“Oh, that’s great. Thank you.”

My body, covered with scars, was vulnerable to the cold. Ideal, who seemed to have noticed this after spending only a short time together with me, began taking care of me in every way.

“The cat and I are going to the mansion, aren’t we?”

“Meow?!”

Before I knew it, Akane, who had been leaning against me with his furry buttocks facing me, stood up with a start. He dug his claws into the ground and meowed, his fur bristling.

“Meow! I wanna stay with Mew-ka!”

“I’m sorry, Akane, but I can’t let anyone from outside the village hear what I have to say.”

Akane flopped on his back like a spoiled child. I picked him up and tried to hand him over to Ideal, but he slipped out of my hands like a liquid. Then, he wrapped himself around my leg and clawed at my pants.

“No, no, I’m not leaving you!”

It was too adorable, seeing him be selfish and fumbling around with his whole body. I wanted to give him whatever he wanted, but I told myself that I couldn’t do that. It would have been fine if the cat couldn’t talk, but for some reason, Akane could.

Strengthening my heart, I reached down to pull him off my feet— but I stopped moving at Akane’s next words. “I already know, meow! The village in the Hidden Land, meow?

“What? You… how did you know that?”

The smart cat batted my outstretched hand and quickly moved out of my reach. He looked up at me from a short distance away, grooming his fur.

“Silly Mew-ka. Akane is Akane. You must have realized that.”

“Um, Shuka-san. Are you really sure that this Akane is the same Akane? Well, they look a lot alike…”

“Eh?”

Langetsu sounded incredulous. Akane looked up at me. He was a rare cat covered in red fur. The figure overlapped with the family I had left twenty years earlier.

“Are you really… that Akane? The one I found a long time ago?”

“Yes!”

“How old are you now? You were pretty big even then, weren’t you?

“Umm— meow.” Akane froze in his tracks. After a few seconds of silence, he came up to my feet and showed me his stomach. “Do you hate cats with long life spans…?”

Of course, I hugged him.

“I want you to live another hundred years!”

“Meow, I’ll do my best.”

No way, Akane was really that Akane. He wasn’t just another cat. I had always regretted not being able to return to that selfish, reckless, and lonely child.

“I’m glad I got to see you again. I love you, my Akane.”

“Meow.”

As I held him in my arms and stuck my nose to his, for some reason, Akane suddenly twisted around and turned toward Ideal.

“Hehehe.”

The cat slipped away and landed lightly, gesturing at Ideal as if kicking sand at him with his hind legs.

“The outsider should return to the mansion quickly.”

“Damn it…”

“Hey, Akane, behave yourself!”

Ideal looked at me, stared, and then glanced at Akane and Langetsu.

“…Then, I’ll go back to the mansion.”

“Ah, yeah. Sorry.”

“It’s okay. You’re free to think of this place as Shuka-san’s home as well. Will you have dinner with me?”

“Yeah. We should be done talking by then.”

“Then I’ll see you at dinner. I’ll be waiting for you, Shuka-san.”

“Hmm… mmmm…”

He kissed me on the lips with his back to Langetsu. It must have been the twice-daily kiss for suppressing the curse. Even though he was doing it for my sake, it was embarrassing to be kissed in front of someone I knew. I hoped Langetsu would think it was a kiss on the cheek to show affection, since he couldn’t see it properly from his position.

“Nn… wasn’t that too long?”

“Hmmm, sorry. You should go into the greenhouse before it gets cold.”

“Ah.”

I watched Ideal’s back as he walked away with a wave of his hand and encouraged Langetsu to head into the greenhouse with me.

“Um, Shuka-san. I have a lot of questions I want to ask you… There are too many of them… Why is that cat talking?”

“That’s… Speaking of which, when did you start talking, Akane?”

“You didn’t know he could speak? Shuka-san has that kind of thing…”

“Meow?”

Akane, who had been purring in my arms, raised the tip of his nose and announced in a whisper so that only we could hear.

“A little reward for a little information. I made a deal with a scary person.”

“A scary person?”

“I can’t tell you any more. If I say too much, I’ll be in trouble.”

Akane shoved the tip of his nose into my side as if refusing to answer any more questions. It tickled. The lovely cat purred when I ran my fingers through its fluffy fur.

“Akane.”

“Meow?”

“I don’t hate cats who have secrets.”

“Meow.”

“Are you okay with this, Shuka-san?”

“It’s okay.”

Anything is fine, as long as you’re alive.

Want to Read Ahead? Support Us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephanie
Stephanie
20 hours ago

Thanks for the update