In Love With the Strongest Man

Translator: Shizukuku

Editor: Helen

Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!

Arc 3: True Identity

Chapter 11 “Gafverobiniaa!!” 

* * *

“Huh? Akane, Akane?”

The red cat was nowhere to be found in the room. Not on the bed, not by his favorite window, not in the bathroom where he liked to go into even though I told him not to enter.

“Aka… Oh, there you are.”

I peeked under the bed and saw a large cat squeezed into a gap that was barely big enough for one person to crawl into. His eyes glowed in the darkness, staring at me in the shape of a half-moon.

“…Mew.”

“What’s wrong? Come out, Akane.”

“Meow.”

“Aren’t you going to talk like you usually do? Come on, come here.”

His fluffy tail wagged, as if telling me to go away. The bed was well cleaned and there was no dust, but Akane was acting strangely and I couldn’t leave him like this.

“Could it be that you’re not feeling well? You aren’t sniffing me like you usually do… What’s wrong, huh?”

“Meow!”

At times like this, I appreciated being small as I crawled under the bed. Akane, reluctant and trying to go deeper, was cornered against the wall. I firmly grabbed him and pulled him out.

“Mrow! Mruh!”

“Let me check if there’s anything wrong. Hmm… your body temperature seems normal as usual, but are there any injuries…”

“Gyaa!! Gafverobiniaa!!”

“Sorry, but this is important…! Let me take a look at you, don’t struggle.”

His long fur was already an obstacle, and Akane kept trying to slip away like he was liquid. By the time I managed to check his entire body, both of us were utterly exhausted.

“Hah, hah… it seems like there’s no injury.”

“Meeew…”

“Such a little voice… you can make a voice like that…”

Akane, who finally escaped from me, climbed onto the shelf and frantically groomed his entire body. His disheveled fur was gradually tidied up.

“Hey, aren’t you going to call me Mew-ka today?”

“Hmph.”

“You’re skilled at making sounds, huh.”

Akane bared his fangs in frustration. If I did anything more now, he might hate me even more.

But all I could do was make a brief observation from the outside, so it would be better to have a specialist examine him once.

“Hey, Akane, you wanna go out for a bit?”

“Meow?”

“Let’s go to the doctor.”

“Meeeoooow!? Meow, Mrrrroooow!?” 

“What a rough meow…”

While saying that, I locked all the doors and windows in the room. I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves, and prepared to capture him in earnest.

“Mrow… mruh… mrrrrrrr…”

Akane jumped off the ledge and seemed to be pondering something as he measured the distance between us. Then he slapped the floor with his tail.

“Meow!”

“What’s wrong?”

Akane looked into my eyes, expressing something clearly. I couldn’t understand the meaning behind the meows, but it seemed like an invitation to follow as he turned around, indicating for me to follow him.

“There’s something over there… Oh, a hole in the wall!? Did you do this…!?”

“Meow! Mruh!”

I peered under the bed as he had prompted. Earlier, Akane’s body had concealed the view, but now, I noticed a small hole in the wall. The decorative boards had been peeled off and were lying on the floor.

“Meow, meow.”

Akane put his little hand in the hole and probed inside for a while.

I wasn’t sure if I should stop him. However, recalling the time we lived together in the village, when Akane behaved like this, there was about a ten percent chance he was trying to communicate something important. And a ninety percent chance it was just mischief.

“Meow!”

Akane let out a cry of joy, hooking something with his claw and pulling it out. I braced myself for the sight of a dead mouse or something of the sort, but contrary to my expectations, what he revealed was a small, neatly wrapped package made of fine paper.

“What’s that?”

“Meow.”

Akane emerged from under the bed, clutching a package about half the size of my palm in his mouth and gently placed it in front of me. He nudged it towards me with his nose repeatedly, indicating he wanted me to open it.

“Is this… salt?”

Inside the small package was a slightly greenish, high-quality salt.

“Could this be salt from the Ogre’s country? How did it end up here…”

I pinched some with my fingertips and tasted it. Even that small amount was impressively delicious. The savory taste of the sea was concentrated in it, yet it seemed like it would complement any dish without overpowering it.

“Did you bring this from the kitchen? …But then, this seems too little for that…”

For me, it was an incredibly luxurious item, but in Ideal’s kitchen, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a jar full of it. However, it was too small an amount to have come from the kitchen, and it was wrapped very carefully.

“Meow. Mew, meow.”

“What…? You want to eat it? No way, you’re a cat, you can’t have salt like that.”

“Meow! Mew-mew, meow-meow!”

Akane seemed to be trying to tell me something. He flicked the package with his paw and rolled around in my lap.

Akane seemed to be trying to tell me something. He lightly flicked the package with his paw and rolled around in my lap.

“Sprinkle this salt on my lap…?”

“Mrroooww!”

“Not that, huh…”

Frustrated by my lack of understanding, Akane hooked his claws into my sleeve. He then guided my hand, holding the package of salt, into my pocket.

“Put this package in my pocket?”

“Meow!”

“I did that, but what am I supposed to do with it?”

Leaving me puzzled, Akane pulled out my wallet from the opposite pocket.

“Ah, here.”

He dexterously opened the bag and emptied the copper coins inside on the floor.

“You naughty boy, you— …huh?”

As I was picking up the copper coins, something seemed to connect in my head.

“Salt… and copper coins…?”

“Mrow, mrow!”

Encouraged by Akane’s supportive voice, I search through my sea of memories.

“Ugh… um… that’s right, it was something like…”

“Mew! Meow!”

“…In a village near the sea, I complained when someone tried to take the medicinal herbs without payment. In response, they threw some copper coins at me and slashed sea water on me. It was winter, so it was cold… my fingers had become numb when picking up the coins…”

“Meow!? Mrow, Meeooow!!”

“What’s wrong, is there something else…?”

Akane, with his mouth wide open, shook his head vigorously. It appeared that wasn’t the right memory. Certainly, the package still looked new, so it didn’t seem like an old memory.

“However, there’s no way I’d have any connection to such a luxury item in my current situation, unless it was a souvenir… Huh, a souvenir?”

I was surprised by the words that naturally came out. Souvenir. In my current situation, the only person I would give a luxury item like salt to as a souvenir would be Ideal.

“That’s right… This is… a souvenir I intended to give to Ideal…?”

In my mind, tiny sparks flickered and crackled.

A memory that didn’t exist. Because when I went to town, I didn’t see a store that sold this kind of salt.

Then where did I go? That’s right, the bookstore— where was it again?

When did I buy this salt? And it was strange that my wallet didn’t seem to be depleted after buying such a luxurious item.

—No, something was missing from my wallet. What was it?

What did I lose? ・・・・・・・・

“My treasure—”

A spark ignited in my mind. I burned through the unnatural haze clouding my thoughts, unveiling the hidden memories.

The persistent fog that clouded my mind finally lifted.

—What emerged in my thoughts was a sparkling copper coin.

My treasure. The coin Ideal had given me. The precious thing I used to buy this salt.

Tears welled up in my eyes with sadness that I had forgotten, and with joy that I finally remembered.

“Ideal, what did you do to me?”

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Idef
Idef
1 month ago

oh no will it be another misunderstanding arc?