“Why aren’t you saying anything?”
Dimitri looked at me as if he were puzzled.
“You can’t hear him?”
“Can Dimitri hear him?”
Dimitri responded by conveying Agaliaept’s words.
“He said the contract is unstable because he didn’t have a direct contract with Rowaine. That’s why he couldn’t get through the door.”
Then, the two of them continued to have a lively conversation and relayed the conversation to me.
“He says he has been helping Rowaine even from beyond the door. Have you ever felt like your memory has improved significantly or anything like that?”
I looked back at my memories carefully.
“Come to think of it…”
I once had the thought that it was amazing how well I remember the contents of the novel. Not only the stories of the main characters but also vivid details from Dimitri’s past and Blois, so I was prepared appropriately for various occasions.
“I think you’re right.”
Dimitri seemed to be listening to Agaliaept’s story, but soon, he turned to look at me.
“Since it’s an unstable contract, he might not do a lot, though he intends to help by leveraging the knowledge Rowaine already knows.”
“Knowledge I already possess? So, can I continue to remember it?”
“He plans to use the knowledge stored in Rowaine’s mind to provide direction so that it can be handy in the necessary situations.”
“In that case, would you ask if he can also make use of the knowledge I gain in the future?”
“He can hear Rowaine’s voice.”
It seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t hear his voice. When I asked the question directly to Agaliaept while looking at Dimitri, the answer came through Dimitri.
“It seems that once knowledge enters Rowaine’s mind, he’s able to leverage all of that knowledge.”
“I should read a lot of books then!”
As I was getting enthusiastic, a question suddenly occurred to me that I thought would be good to ask Agaliaept.
“Can you think of anything good to do against Cayetana and Count Schdental, Agaliaept?”
After those words escaped from my mouth, Agaliaept opened his mouth wide enough to reach his ears, revealing numerous sharp teeth, and smiled. Even though I couldn’t hear his voice, it was a very joyful expression.
“Even such a question came from you.”
“I beg your pardon? I just came up with it!”
Then, Dimitri furrowed his brow. It was a serious expression.
“It’s a relief that you didn’t make a direct contract with him, Rowaine. He’s a demon who manipulates human thoughts.”
Saying so, he glared menacingly at Agaliaept.
“He’s probably the kind who not only dominates but also devours the mind of the contractor.”
I got goosebumps.
Only then did I remember that Agaliaept wasn’t like a guardian angel helping me, but literally a demon. Demons were never benevolent beings. They may be temporarily useful through contracts, but ultimately, demons eagerly await the day when the contractor dies, and they could devour their soul.
Feeling a bit disheartened, I asked Dimitri.
“Why did the cats attach such a scary demon to me?”
“Oh, it seems I’ve frightened you too much.”
Dimitri smiled reassuringly as if to put me at ease.
“Even if you don’t know it, the cats must believe that Rowaine isn’t someone who would easily succumb to a demon’s control.”
“Me? I’m not that great of a person.”
“Desires are simple and pure, aren’t they? Demons can’t easily dominate people like that. People who are easily satisfied and don’t harbor endless greed are like impenetrable shields to demons.”
Well, all I desired was to live a peaceful life, spending my days happily with the cats.
That was why I’ve been diligently saving the money he regularly received from Dimitri for maintaining my dignity and position without indulging in extravagance. If I were to divorce him, I would have to support Coco and Sasha on my own from then on, and I didn’t really have a reason to need money unless there was a specific purpose for it.
As Dimitri had mentioned, my desires were too simple to succumb to a demon’s control.
‘But what about Dimitri?’
I looked at Dimitri with concern.
‘In the novel, he was described as having strong ambitions for power.’
Behind him, Samael was floating in the air in a supine position, seemingly floating in thin air, but it felt somehow unsettling.
Dimitri, noticing my concern, chuckled confidently.
“He’s a combat demon, so I can use him relatively safely. He doesn’t have abilities like mind control.”
“Oh, then that’s a relief.”
Dimitri crossed his arms and stared at the Agaliaept with a cold gaze, a distinct difference in temperature from the way he looked at me.
“It seems like he can use his abilities without being specifically called upon, so it’s best not to summon him unless absolutely necessary. Anyway, it’s better to keep demons at a distance. Human desires can change anytime, so always be cautious and ensure you don’t inadvertently fall under his control.”
“I’ll do my best.”
In any case, since the topic had come up, I instructed Agaliaept to find a way to oppose Count Schdental and Cayetana. Then, all of a sudden, the contents of a Western history book I had read in high school flashed in my mind.
‘Oh, now that I think about it, something like this has happened on Earth before!’
During the outbreak of the Black Plague in medieval Europe, Pope Gregory IX attributed the blame for the plague to cats.
Under the leadership of the Catholic Church, malicious rumors about cats spread throughout Europe.
The content of these rumors was that ‘cats, the minions of the devil, along with witches, were spreading the Black Plague.’ As a result of that, there was a period when, along with misguided cat hunting, there was a trend of witch hunts against women who were unfairly accused.
History repeated itself. People were similar wherever they lived.
‘Then, the solution is…’
I knew very well what had happened to Europe when it lost its cats. With their natural predator gone, the rat population exploded, causing the Black Plague to spread uncontrollably. As a result, countless people lost their lives.
As I contemplated what actions I should take now based on this historical knowledge, a very bold idea came to mind.
“There’s a better way, Dimitri.”
Dimitri and I summoned Viscount Villefranc and Baron Placen into the study and began the meeting.
I took the initiative and gave instructions to them.
“Viscount Villefranc and Baron Placen, please investigate the territories and find out if there has been any interaction between the cat shapeshifters and the most affected areas. Also, check if there has been any rejection or extermination of the cat shapeshifters.”
In this human society, I knew that there were quite a few cat shapeshifters living among humans, just like Sasha.
They were somewhat different from the cat shapeshifters and shapeshifter slaves. One significant difference was that they were much more aggressive and had a strong survival instinct. However, the most significant distinction was that they didn’t have the flashy appearance, like Sasha or Coco.
‘Because cat lovers prefer unique and pretty cat shapeshifters.’
Unlike dog shapeshifters, cat shapeshifters were seen as nothing more than for aesthetics, so if they weren’t beautiful, they were considered useless. That was why there were no slave traders eager to capture cat shapeshifters like there were for dog shifters, and therefore, there were occasionally street cat shapeshifters who lived hidden within human society, pretending to be ordinary cats.
Consequently, if we could gather evidence that after the street cat shapeshifters disappeared from the territories where they were harassed and driven away, the rat shapeshifters became even more active, it might sway the elder council’s opposition to my work in the future.
Then, I looked at Dimitri.
“Is it possible to locate and bring in all the cat shapeshifters in a particular area?”
“All of them?”
“Well, excluding those who don’t want to come.”
“Cat shifters are shapeshifters, so it won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. After all, they have intelligence and instincts.”
I smiled meaningfully.
“We’re going to open a very large shelter for shapeshifters, one that could turn the Empire upside down.”
I looked at Viscount Villefranc and Baron Placen, whose expressions were tense and stern.
“I won’t accept dissent because Dimitri has supported my plans.”
At my words, both of them looked at Dimitri as if wondering what he was thinking, but he just shrugged in response and whispered to me instead.
“It would be better if I stop evaluating you as timid from now on.”
Elaine must have undoubtedly noticed that the atmosphere in Blois was unusual. She suddenly mentioned that she would return to the imperial palace even though it wasn’t even halfway through the originally scheduled date.
Then, saying that she wanted to talk to me before she left, she called me to the stable where we had shared our first drink together. As she sat on a haystack, she talked about trivial matters for a while before finally opening up about her concerns with a troubled expression.
“To be honest, I was very curious about Rowaine.”
I had a hunch that she was trying to bring up the topic of Count Bilbao’s slave traders.
Subsequently, as expected, the story about slave traders came out of her mouth.
“Actually, I’ve been hearing stories about the slave traders through the Emperor’s hounds, and I’ve been investigating the incident related to Count Bilbao for a long time.”
I pretended not to know and raised my eyebrows.
“Is that so?”
“Yes. But then I heard that Rowaine had solved this matter before me… that’s why I became curious about what kind of person Rowaine was.”
“So, to Blois…”
“That’s right. I’m only saying this because we’ve gotten this far, Rowaine.”
Then, she discreetly lowered her voice.