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Civil war, words which most clan were undoubtedly familiar with. If a choice had to be made about the most harmful events that could befall a clan, civil wars would definitely clinch the top spot.
Before coming to this region, I was told about an existence known as the Cat King. Cat Kings were basically the central authority of the clan. Although their power wasn't as absolute as those Emperors in ancient China -back then, they could basically order a person's death with just a snap of their fingers- the orders of the Cat King were usually followed as long as it didn't involve killing off someone directly. Just from that alone, one could see how prestigious the position was.
It was precisely because of this prestige and power that made the position so unbearably tempting for those involved. Thanks to that, they found themselves in this whole debacle of hand versus feet, where siblings warred with each other.
The elderly Cat King pa.s.sed away not too long ago but annoyingly, he didn't appoint a successor before doing so. Even more annoyingly, he had two sons and one daughter…
In order to ascend, these three siblings argued day and night, finally resorting to blows in the end.
"So a female cat can become a king as well….the Purgatory Shadowcats seem pretty progressive." At the side, Mo Na listened with rapt attention to the tale of how a younger sister warred against her two older brothers. Most likely, it was the fact that a female was involved that she became so invested in the whole story in the first place: "Mama, once Mo Na grows up, she wants to become the Demon King!"
"Ambitious! Your Papa approves." Just like a parent who had just heard his child proclaim himself as a future scientist or president, my heart fluttered and I couldn't help but give her an appreciative pat on the forehead. "Sweetie, Papa is sure you will succeed if you put your mind to it."
"Mhm, mhm." Mo Na vigorously nodded her head as she smiled back at me.
"If your clan is in the midst of a civil war, what are you doing here then?" Unlike Mo Na's off-kilter way of thinking, Sinmosa's question cut straight to the crux of the issue instead. Normally, under such extraordinary circ.u.mstances, Anmi shouldn't even have the time to mess around with Sidarth and yet just looking at him right now, he seemed rather carefree.
"Civil war huh…" Anmi lifted his head and stared at the depressingly grey sky above, doing nothing for what felt like an eternity before rolling his eyes at us and saying the following words in an extremely disdainful manner: "What has that got to do with me?"
'You're good, your whole clan is busy waging a war and here you are with your "what has that got to do with me?" att.i.tude…such callousness, are you sure you're fine like that?'
'I think I get the whole picture now…it's precisely because of his callousness towards his fellow cats that he ended up in this state with Sidarth…'
"Hey, don't give me that look, I know exactly what you're thinking right now…honestly…other than me, there are a ton of other Purgatory Shadowcats who don't give a d*mn about those three siblings." Anmi sighed in exasperation, voice still as disdainful as before.
"There are many who don't wish to get caught up in that mess, it's not just me, I swear. The majority of the clan doesn't care about this whole succession war…as long as it doesn't come knocking on our doorsteps, we do our best to keep our tails out of it."
"Why? Don't you guys feel any sense of loyalty to the throne?" If this was a human war, the rivers would probably be red with blood already. Even though everyone knew that such a war was a b.l.o.o.d.y affair, there wouldn't be any lack of volunteers thanks to the irresistible promise of rewards.
"Why?" Anmi scornfully harrumphed. "Because those three siblings are all morons."
"Morons…" That had to be the first time I heard someone speak of their country's royal family in such a manner, in front of an outsider no less.
Well, whether or not they were morons had nothing to do with me at all. My only goal was to find a Purgatory Shadowcat and attain the method of entering Abaddon.
"Let's put aside the matter of your clan's civil war for now, how about we talk about my requirements instead." Seeing as that topic was basically spent, I prepared to lay my cards out on the table. "Truth be told, I came here because I heard that you Purgatory Shadowcats have an ability known as Dreamwalking. That's why you guys are known as scholars, right?"
"That's right." As he acknowledged that in a matter-of-fact tone, he tilted his head in the smuggest display I had seen thus far. "So you're really here for help then? Speak then, I might just give you an answer seeing as you're so sincere about seeking help."
"I did say we wanted your help…" Looking at his absolute confidence, I knew that this time, for sure, we were going to get the answer we wanted. Even though his smug face was rather off putting, I had no intention of aggravating the situation any further before I got my answer.
Thus, I asked the question that had been bothering me all this while, "I wish to enter Abaddon, do you know the way?"
"…you wish to enter Abaddon?" His face froze up and whatever smile he had left on his lips stiffened: "How about another question instead?"
"Mo Na just knew this kitty isn't reliable at all."
"Hey, who are you calling unreliable?!"
"You of course, who else is there?" Mo Na dismissively waved him off before smirking: "I bet you don't even know the way to Abaddon, do you?"
"…" Anmi had nothing to say to that. 'Seems like he really is stumped by that question.'
"So you really don't know then? I thought your Dreamwalking ability allows you to freely traverse the dimensions?" His silence immediately dowsed my prior excitement.
"Honestly, that ability isn't as powerful as the legends make it out to be…besides…"
After leaving that 'besides' hanging there for an eternity, he abruptly ended the conversation; he probably had his own considerations to look out for so he chose not to speak any further. It was at that moment that Sinmosa demonstrated her brilliance, a brilliance that Sasani could never hope to match:
"If you don't tell us the reason, we'll head back right now and I'll go find my uncle. I'll make sure to tell him that 'Anmi has hidden his Meowberries and Ashen Fur Mice.' Try guessing what would be his reaction then?"
"…" At that, Anmi threw the devious Cerberus a mournful yet furious stare before saying: "But I really don't have any more Meowberries and Ashen Fur Mice…"
"Well then, do you think my uncle will believe his niece more or an outsider like you?"
"I guess it's you…"
Sinmosa smiled thinly and said no more. Just that look in her eyes was more than enough to pressure the cornered feline. Head lowered for a long while, he confessed.
"Truth be told, we've already lost our ability to Dreamwalk…"
'So that's the real reason why…the truth…it hurts so much…'
"Then why the heck did you act all high and mighty just now?" Honestly, I really wanted to murder someone right now.
"…because…I do actually know a lot of things…" Anmi answered weakly while glancing at Sinmosa. Upon discovering her rapidly worsening expression, he finally caved into the pressure: "Yes, Dreamwalking is one of the unique abilities of a Shadowcat, but after turning into Purgatory Shadowcats, we slowly lost the ability to Dreamwalk…"
Resisting that strong urge in me to punch him right now, I immediately cut him off with another question: "Then tell me exactly who can help me enter Abbadon!"
"Those three morons…they're still Shadowcats…" By now, Anmi was on the verge of tears: "Because their family is the only strain of cats that haven't turned into Purgatory Shadowcats, they possess the rights to the throne…"
'So the Purgatory Shadowcats didn't even see their transformation as an evolution but rather a mutation.'
With that in mind, we talked him into bringing us to see their royal family instead. Although his face clearly showed his unwillingness to do so, the lump on his head begged to differ… 'This kitty is actually pretty cooperative after all.'
"Past this point is the territory of the little Princess."
After travelling for roughly a week, we finally reached our destination. During the trip, we pa.s.sed by several territories belonging to other Purgatory Shadowcats. Just like Anmi before them, they all abstained from the ongoing succession war. Whatever reason those siblings had for feuding was all in the past and that didn't affect them in the least bit. To these cats, a peaceful, average day was more important than anything else.
As we proceeded deeper and deeper into the territory of the Purgatory Shadowcats, we discovered more and more strains of animal and plant life. Given how many we've seen so far, I wouldn't be surprised if their territory was the territory most teeming with life.
Of those we saw, the majority belonged to the category of animals or plant life that shouldn't even exist in Purgatory and yet they did. Other than the Ashen Fur Mice, we saw some birds flying above us and found some strange insects crawling beneath us. All of them were lifeforms transported over from Abaddon. Naturally, they all underwent some form of mutation after the migration and now possessed some degree of fire element within them. After all, without fire resistance, it was basically impossible to live in Purgatory.
"So what's this little Princess like?" Right ahead of us was a castle town that was stacked and carved entirely out of stone. It had a rather unique pressure that could've only come from a city in Purgatory. Its blackish molten rock gave the city an almost overbearing pressure.
"What's she like?" Hearing that, Anmi couldn't help but roll his eyes at the mere thought of the little Princess: "You just have to know that she's really moronic."
Because his last words were truly worrying, we ended up spending the rest of our journey in tense silence.
Finally, we arrived on the doorstep of the castle town, door being metaphorical in this case since there wasn't actually a door at all but rather a giant hole instead. There was basically nothing stopping a person from entering or leaving except for two cats standing guard outside who vaguely resemble Anmi figure wise. While it wasn't technically wrong to call them guards, it would take a rather loose definition of the word 'guard' to define their lackadaisical posture as anything but lazing around.