Cadis, who rode in the carriage with her, looked very peaceful and happy. Even though he was returning to the imperial palace, which must have seemed like hell to him, he still had a satisfied expression on his face, just content with the current tranquility.
‘I hope Elaine can take ownership of Cadis as soon as possible…’
After seeing the Princess and her entourage off, I went up to my office.
Spending time with Elaine wasn’t bad, but aside from that, there were many things I had to take care of to match her position as a princess, so I felt relieved.
‘Now, what do I need to address…’
I held in my hand the report sent by Baron Placen, who had gone to inspect the conditions in other territories with Viscount Villefranc.
The report mentioned that there were cases of mistreatment of cat shapeshifters in various places due to malicious rumors about the cat shapeshifters spread by Count Schdental and Madam Elbas. It seemed like people were hunting down and harassing those who had been hiding quietly.
‘As expected. The territories that tormented and drove away the cat shapeshifters suffered a lot from the nightmares.’
I sighed as I was reading Baron Placen’s report, feeling like the mistreatment of cat shapeshifters was because of me.
…No, it was because of me.
Despite the fact that I was also making efforts to resolve this issue, resolving it was one thing, and being sorry was another. After reviewing the entire report, I made my way to my room with a heavy heart.
Sasha still hadn’t woken up. It had been several days already, but there was no sign of her waking up. As I used my abilities to check her physical condition, she seemed physically fine. Even though she wasn’t eating for several days and was asleep, she was surprisingly healthy.
I held her hand tightly and whispered with a prayerful heart.
“You have to wake up, Sasha. You can’t just let yourself be consumed without putting up a fight. Fight and overcome this. You’re strong.”
After watching Sasha for a while, my heart grew heavier and I stepped out of the room. While I thought about going to the shelter for cat shapeshifters to meet Avila and Esca and see how the shapeshifters were doing, I decided against it. It was because I was feeling too downcast.
I trudged down the hallway with my shoulders slumped but soon shook my head vigorously.
“You need to pull yourself together, Rowaine! I told Sasha to stay strong, but I can’t afford to be this down! I’m responsible for so many people right now, and I’ll have to take care of even more in the future!”
The countless cat shapeshifters I’ve brought to the shelter, Dimitri’s reputation, Viscount Villefranc and Baron Placen who were working for me, the abused cat shapeshifters…
At the thought, I clenched my fist and mustered my determination before rushing into Dimitri’s office.
Dimitri, who had been sitting by the window, basking in the sunlight, blinked his eyes sleepily and gazed at me. Unlike me, who was stressed, he appeared very calm. Of course, you couldn’t always tell what was going on inside a person just by their appearance.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m on my break right now. Is Dimitri taking a break, too?”
He leaned his head against the window frame with a drowsy expression. It seemed like he was basking in the sunlight.
“As you can see.”
“Then, would you like to come with me for some fresh air? Would you like to go for a fun run together?”
When you were feeling down, exercise was the way to go.
After talking to him, we galloped frantically across the vast fields near the mansion. Riding a horse for leisure was quite different from racing skills. Dimitri was a very skilled rider, but he couldn’t run as fast as I could.
After running several laps swiftly across the wide meadow, I dismounted from the horse, drenched in sweat.
“Does moving your body really help improve your mood?”
Dimitri looked at me with a skeptical expression.
Feeling much fresher, I replied cheerfully.
“You’ve never tried exercising for your mood? When you’re in a bad mood, exercising is the best. It might not be easy to change the situation, but it’s quite simple to change your mood.”
“Though isn’t it fundamentally better to change the situation that’s making you feel bad?”
I smiled wryly and shook my head.
“It’s not necessarily the situation that controls my body, but rather my mood. If I can control my mood well, surprisingly, situations often resolve themselves more easily — even without Agaliaept’s help.”
The warm summer sun was pleasantly warming the top of my head, and the gentle breeze cooled the heat in my body. As I pushed my body to the brink of exhaustion, my mind cleared. My mood was much better than when I had started.
Yes, changing your mood was easy.
Mood could surprisingly change quite easily, to the extent that it could differ between going into and coming out of the restroom.
That was an incredibly important issue.
Growing up in a very depressing home environment, what allowed me to endure was the advice given by my aunt Eun-hee, who taught me how to ride a horse.
“When you’re feeling down, exercise, Eunsoo. Moving your muscles vigorously changes your mood. With that changed mood, you’ll see a way to navigate through situations. Humans are capable of superhuman strength, too, when they see a way out. Holding onto hope and persevering is what it means to be human.”
Even when the cats died, I went outside every day without fail.
It was because crying and wallowing in sorrow won’t solve anything. Of course, feeling better didn’t bring the dead cats back to life, but by moving my body, I found an immediate answer to what I needed to do—recovering the cats’ bodies—and I started from there.
‘And then, I got hit by a truck and died…’
Nevertheless, life went on, and thanks to the death, hadn’t I been able to live this new life surrounded by cats?
I let the wind embrace my body and glanced at Dimitri. His ash-colored hair gently fluttered in the breeze.
‘Furthermore, I’ve met someone who listens to my story so well and supports me.’
Dimitri was the first person since my mother to fully support me. Moreover, he willingly allowed me to undertake the enormous scale of work I wanted to do. As a result, even though the weight on my shoulders felt heavy and I was under a lot of stress, I felt incredibly strong and accomplished.
I couldn’t believe that I, who had considered myself timid, was now planning and executing a scheme that would overturn the empire…
‘All right. After exercising, I feel a surge of positivity again.’
I was so excited that I twirled around Dimitri as if dancing.
“Dimitri, I feel like I’ve become quite impressive since coming to Blois! It’s my feeling, so don’t make fun of me.”
However, Dimitri, whom I thought would tease me, surprisingly had a serious expression as he spoke.
“It’s not just a feeling of your own. Rowaine, you didn’t become impressive after coming to Blois, but you were impressive from the beginning. Blois changed completely after you arrived.”
I never expected such heartfelt words to come from his mouth.
I stopped spinning and gazed at him. Well, I tried to do that, if only I hadn’t become dizzy so dizzy from spinning that my body wobbled.
Dimitri supported my waist as I almost stumbled.
I looked up at him, almost falling into his arms. As his hair, glistening in the sunlight, swayed gently in the wind, his beautiful emerald eyes held only me within them.
I stared at him, speechless for a moment.
Perhaps it was because I had moved my body vigorously just before, but I could feel my heart beating rapidly. I thought I should adjust my posture and distance myself from him, but the comforting embrace he provided made it difficult to pull away.
When I saw him wear a languid smile, I couldn’t help but feel strange.
‘What is this…’
Startled by a newfound excitement I had never experienced before, I pushed him away belatedly and stood upright.
For some reason, it was difficult to look him in the eyes.
“Let’s go in now, shall we? Thank you for coming out with me.”
“Don’t mention it.”
When we returned to the mansion, Agwen was anxiously looking for me.
“What’s going on?”
“Something’s wrong with Sasha! Please come quickly!”
Startled, I handed the reins to the servant and hurriedly ran up the stairs. As I burst into my room and opened the door, I saw Sasha moaning on the bed.
I knelt down beside the bed and held her hand tightly. I used my powers to check Sasha’s physical condition, but apart from being a little tired, there was nothing wrong with her body. Other than watching Sasha suffering, drenched in cold sweat, there was nothing I could do.
I looked anxiously at Dimitri, who had followed me, and Coco, who had the appearance of a cat.
Coco nestled in my arms and rested his head against my cheek as though to help me feel better. Dimitri also sat beside me and patted my shoulder.
I whispered in a trembling voice.
“What if something goes wrong…?”
I was cautious about even saying such things, as I was worried that my words might bring bad luck.
Dimitri had a calm expression, so much so that I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“We can only hope she will do well.”
It was then.
Sasha began to convulse and writhe in agony.
I fell into such panic that my efforts to soothe my mood were futile.
Honestly, it felt like I was going insane.