Tale of a Gentle Demon Chapter 1

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Chapter 1: I Became a Cat

 

I can see a scenery within the light.

It’s like…the time when I was a child, submerged under the pool and looking up toward the sky…I see a scenery with that kind of vague, yet nostalgic feeling.

The scenery flows along and changes.

Like an old film, the blurry scenes continued to be replaced, one by one.

A man holding 『my』 small hands….A woman, holding 『me』 in her arms….Boys and girls that were even a little bigger than 『I』.

From the window of a bus, seeing large buildings and small stores drifting away.

And from inside of a train, witnessing the never ending railroad and endless townscape.

The scenes continued to change, and then there was a 『me』 that had grown bigger and was attending school with other children wearing the same uniform.

Chatting with friends, exchanging texts late into the night….Sitting together with siblings on the sofa, watching a borrowed movie. Our parents returning home, and everyone enjoying a meal together.

This scenery full of happiness, abruptly began turning 『white』.

White walls, white floor, and lying on top of the white bed under the same white colored sheets, what was reflected in 『my』 eyes, was the pure white ceiling….

The shaking hands that I lifted up, were as thin as the withered branches of a tree.

The scene continuously shifted, but that white world remained….and amidst the broken and hoarse sound of someone crying….『My』 world slowly became dyed in black.

***

Was I…seeing a dream?

Somehow, the dream felt nostalgic…and distant.

I wonder…where is this place? I can’t see a thing, it’s as if a dim…mist is hanging over me. It feels just like staring into the sun and being dazzled…oh, I should just open my eyes.

And when I tried lifting my eyelids, the scene of my surroundings jumped into my field of vision much clearly than before.

What I saw, wasn’t a grass-covered plain, nor the interior of a room, but instead, there was nothing but an emptiness that spread everywhere; cracked earth as far as the eyes could see and a plain dark sky.

Simply put, there was nothing but rough gray earth, not even a weed in sight. An empty world.

「……………」

The atmosphere would have been completed if a cold wind was to blow along dead, withered leaves at this moment. I wonder if that describes what Im feeling right now.

Leaving that aside…I wonder, how am I seeing all of this…?

I don’t remember opening my eyes. When I concentrate, I’m able to see in all directions at the same time. Of course, that includes myself….

「………………!?」

I unintentionally let out a scream…or so I thought, but my voice wouldn’t come out.

After all…I have no mouth….Not to mention a mouth, I didn’t even have a body.

R, right…I’m a little calmer now.

By the way, when I said I had no body, that was just a bit incorrect. As proof of that, even now the form of my body is responding to my flunctuating emotions; scattering and undulating.

It’s something like a gassy, misty, light brown-ish aggregation…which is the current me.

Haha…makes me laugh. Although it’s nothing funny.

Is this a dream I wonder……?

It could be, that the world of light I’d been seeing until just moments ago was the real world, and this was just a bad dream.

But reality is cruel, and the sensations I felt through this mist-like body of mine was telling me that this was 『real』.

And then surprisingly, when I acknowledged this form to be my 『self』, I strangely came to accept it without any discomfort and calmed down.

Could this be…that?

Thinking of it using the knowledge gained from that world of light, it could be summed up as the mind affecting the body while at the same time, the state of the body influencing the mind…something like that?

After all, the ups and downs of emotions don’t show such a big change in the 『body』of the average human.

I don’t have a heart so I don’t feel my heart pumping, and I don’t feel suffocated from the lack of breath. With this body, I doubt if I would feel even pain or hunger.

I have nothing to look forward to….I have no eyes so I can’t even cry!

F, for the time being…I should, at the very least, hold on to my sense of self. It’s a bit late in thinking this but, I wonder who I am?

My name…can’t remember it. Yes, I am nameless. I could simply pick a name from my past memories, but I have a certain feeling that it just wouldn’t do.

Incidentally, I also can’t remember the names of family or friends. Even worse, I’ve even forgotten their faces.

Okay…moving on.

I do have memories up to wearing a uniform, so I was probably a student. Considering the amount of my past memories, probably a high schooler.

Although it’s all from a dream.

The gender is…a girl right…? I was wearing a skirt uniform in my memories, and personally it feels much more acceptable.

Good good, my sense of 『self』is gradually coming together…oh? The color of my body somewhat deepened? In addition, I feel like the density of the mist has become thicker.

For the time being I can’t feel anything gone wrong, so I’ll continue to recall the memories in the dream to further secure my sense of self.

 

And so, doing this and that took quite a while…or so I felt.

I mean, the sun hasn’t ever risen, and as expected I didn’t get hungry, so there was no way for me to measure the time.

It’s good that my sense of self has become firmer due to recalling various things, but a new problem appeared.

I have nothing to do.

To be honest, feeling anxious, irritated and going mad from loneliness…such things seem likely to happen, but with my current body there are no signs of such things happening.

When I recall the last moments from the memories of the dream, I wonder if I’ve died and fallen into hell….

Although speaking comparatively, it’s a hell completely without the agony.

Of course, there is also that rumour that this is all a dream. And of course, the source of that wishful rumour is me.

「……?」

I noticed something. More specifically, something triggered my senses, which was like a combination of sight, smell and sound.

That “something” leaped with a pyon kind of feeling.

When I surrendered myself to the sudden itchy tempting sensation that arose, I reflexively launched myself forward to extend the mist surrounding my body and slapped down on that something with a pechin(smack) sound.

「……………」

O, ohh…I’m quite suprised at how I reacted like a cat that’s discovered an insect, if I may say so myself.

Leaving that aside…what is this….I did catch a glimpse of it just before hitting it, and it did certainly look like an 『insect』, but I don’t know what it is. And when I struck that 『insect』, it disappeared like mist.

Upon disappearing…there was the scent of something like sweet honey.

For some reason, that scent gave me a faint satisfaction, even though the current me had no sense of taste nor hunger.

It was a somewhat nostalgic scent and flavor….It was like the time I was a child in that dream world, sipping honey from a small flower…it had that kind of nostalgic feeling.

Shiver…shiver…shiver…(shivering in excitement)
My gaseous body trembled as if excited by something, and as if driven by that sensation, I began wandering about my surroundings.

But really…how am I moving around?

From the previous feeling of striking down that insect, I’ve understood that I do have a certain degree of physical strength, but without needing to crawl, my body instead moves by floating towards the direction I want to go.

To a certain extent, I can bring out the same burst of speed as the first time I moved. However, although I could move by barely skimming across the surface of the ground, I couldn’t manage to fly…what a pity.

And while moving about….ah, found it.
The second mushi-kun(insect) discovered.

I’m just a bit lonely, so I wonder if I could keep it as a pet…?
But…..

Pechin.

「………」

When I neared it, once again my body flew forward and smacked it…really like a cat. My lack of self-control is rather shameful if I may say so myself.

There’s something irresistible about that sugary honey scent.

In the first place, it was in the wrong for provoking my cat-like instincts, hopping up and down like that in front of me.

Then I suddenly realized something. The first insect had a flowery honey-like scent, but the second one had…to give a description, it smelled a bit fruity.

Shiver…shiver…shiver…(excited shivering)
Should I keep on searching for a little longer….

From then on, my past time & daily routine came to consist of searching for these mushi-kuns(insects).

I, it’s not like I want a snack or anything, alright?

「……!」

Pechin, pechin(smack, smack)

「………!!」

Pechin, pechin pechin, pechin(smack, double smack, smack)

Mmmm, delish(デリシャス). Of course, when compared with the sweets I know from the dream world, this is in every way a very modest taste, but it serves as a good compliment to the cat-like hunting work involved.

I think it’s that; when you gather your own food, it feels much tastier, probably.

And I’ve noticed something else too. The larger insects are better tasting.

I’ll have you let me say this but, I don’t have a hobby of directly eating insects. As of the present, rather than smacking them, just touching them is enough to make them disappear, and since they leave no dead remains, it doesn’t leave an unpleasant feeling afterwards.

I’ve noticed this while on the move, but there were some of these things that were about the size of a mouse. When compared with the other “insects”, it was much more cautious, and unless it approached me first, it was unexpectedly quick in escaping.

This time for sure I’ll make it my pet~~…but even though I tried putting some spirit into it, it vanished the moment I touched it.

Appearance-wise, it was mostly identical to those black furballs that appear in a certain movie from the dream world, chased around by a pair of sisters that lived by the countryside in a remotely located house.(totoro)

I really wanted it…a pet.

Still, the flavor was good.I’d say that it tasted similar to cherry or wild strawberry.

 

As I passed away the days in that manner, a change appeared in my body.

Eating too much snacks made me fat…is not what happened. Instead, it appeared that my body which was light brown colored was turning into a deeper shade resembling chocolate, but at the last moment it turned curry-like.

…Why, I wonder, did I use food as the standard for comparison.

I prefer to think that the color has become a hair dyed brown.

It might as well have turned into a milk tea color to look cuter, but life just doesn’t go the way you want it to.

When the color changed, at the same time, the density of my gaseous body further increased, becoming all syrupy.

Oh, will I evolve into a slime? …Or so I thought, but I was wrong. My body didn’t become sticky, but became like iron sand.

But…have I evolved with this? It’s harder to move now that my body is heavier.

Ahh~~…I let a nezumi-chan(mouse) run away again.

Is it possible that I really did get fatter…? Nee nee(hey hey), did I really get fatter……?

 

But while in the midst of being torn between the desire to diet and the seduction of snacks, for the first time, in a way, I came across another existence other than me.

「……!?」

Even I understood why my body twitched in shock.

I didn’t become aware of it until it had approached closeby. The moment I did, I felt that my iron sand body would break and collapse from the overwhelming, enormous sense of intimidation that washed over me.

It was a huge black panther.

If I was the size of the average cat, then that black panther was even larger than a horse.

And…it was beautiful.

It didn’t give off the impression of being short and stout, which was common among wild cats, but instead appeared to be supple and slim.

Fur that gave off a deep…dark, and beautiful lustre of a brilliant jet black.

You would think that brilliant and black wouldn’t go together, but I couldn’t describe it any other way.

A whip-like pair of tails, split into two parts, that were even longer than it’s body.

Silver claws and fangs. It was my first time in this world, seeing such a pair of silver eyes that also carried 『purpose』.

「…………」

It was scary. For the first time in this world, I felt fear…a danger to my life.

But…even more than that, I was mesmerized. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this black panther.

Shiver…shiver….(excited)

I, I want to pet it.

It would definitely feel all silky and good. There might even be a fluffy part somewhere.

『……?』

After a while, the indications of wanting to eat me faded away, and the black panther appeared to be curious as it tilted its head to the side.

『……Why aren’t you afraid?』

「!?」

That was a 『voice』. What I heard was the faint growl of a beast. But its growl resounded inside of me and turned into words.

「…!…!?…!」 …!? …!」

I was surprised by the first intelligent voice I got to hear in this world. An unexpectedly good voice….
The black panther’s tone was deep and masculine, a lovely voice that seemed to belong to an oji-sama(uncle/old man)…scratch that, a lovely voice belonging to a man in the first half of his thirties, on the brink of becoming an oji-sama.

It’s very much my type of voice. Before I noticed, I was shaking in excitement and made a sound…but it didn’t become words.

The black panther was surprisingly making a similar flustered expression to my panicking self.

『Can you…understand words?』

In response to its question, I tried to nod my head…but no matter what I tried I couldn’t nod, so I hopped up and down where I stood. Thereupon,

『……Oh?(ほぉ) so you’re able to comprehend my words.』

It approached me as it spoke, and when I instinctively tried moving back, it swiftly used its forefoot to pin me down.

『……As I thought, you don’t disappear. You must have a significant amount of will and intelligence.』

「………」

……Eh? By any chance, is it that if you don’t have any will or intelligence, you’ll be eaten just by being touched?

Aside from that, although I do have a will, but as for intelligence….When I was in school, I scored magnificently average in my subjects.

I was trembling like pudding while having such thoughts when the black panther said,

『Don’t be so afraid…no, are you angry? You’re an interesting one.』

And then it showed signs of laughing.

No no, although I’m not angry but how should I say, I just can’t understand….

My confused thoughts might have gotten across, because the black panther then released me from its forefoot and brought its face close enough to peer at me.

『Relax.I won’t have any more thoughts of eating you…but leaving that aside.Why are you staying in that kind of body?』』

「…?」

Why, you ask….It’s not like I look like this because I want to~.

For a while, I attempted to communicate through iron sand fluid body language, when the black panther began showing signs of being astounded.

To put it simply, it seems that individuals with a body like mine usually transform the body for easier movement.

It seems that, normally, it’s something known by 『instinct』, and unless you alter your body like that, if you happen to run into strong individuals, you’d be eaten without being able to fight nor run.

Oh boy….I’m glad that the first strong individual with intelligence I met was this black panther….

And for that reason, I’m being taught on how to transform my body from the black panther.

『……Are you messing with me?』』

「……!?…!」

I got all teary eyed from the black panther’s sudden threat. Although I got no tears.

What kind of figure I would transform into. Of course I decided to take the form of a 『human』. I’m used to it after all.

Moreover after transforming, apparently, your body does show growth to a certain extent, but further changing your form becomes difficult, which was all the more so a reason I wanted to take a human shape…

『Trying to take on such a from right from the beginning, is something a fool would do.』

A human form right from the start is weak. It’s only a given that if a human and beast were to be pitted against each other, in most cases the beast would win.

That’s why at the start, it’s better to choose a beast form. Or perhaps, something with a gorilla-like image. Although the black panther doesn’t have them, horns and jagged scales are apparently the norm.

「……?」

It’s certainly much prettier and cooler to be like the black panther without scales and the like, however….
Perhaps catching on to my thoughts, the black panther broadly grinned.

『Only the weak put up those appearances. For me, these claws and fangs are enough.』

Ohhh~~~~, how cool!

Anyhow, although normally impossible, the only individuals capable of changing once more from the initial transformed state into a 『human』, are the ones with exceedingly great strength, and moreover, doing so is the equivalent of naming oneself to be the boss of that area…apparently.

But…if that’s the case, I wonder why the black panther doesn’t turn into one itself? Although he appears to be considerably strong, I suppose it’s that there’s always someone above you…probably.

Now that that’s all out of the way, what should I do. I feel like it should be possible to go for a half-beast kind of look, but the closer the shape is to a human, the more my fighting strength would decline, and in the first place seeing as how I’m already only the size of the average cat, I may turn out becoming the size of an infant.

「………」

I guess it should be a type of beast after all….
Taking my size into account, as expected, a 『cat』? It’s because somehow, being a matching pair with the black panther might be good.

『Have you decided? Then get on with it. What’s important is what you want. Project the image of how you want to fight.』

「……!」

Right after that I jumped up in acknowledgement, and began to focus on my image.

What I’m imagining is a pretty, slender and well proportioned cat. Fluffy long fur is good too, but personally I prefer fur that’s shorter in length. That way, there’s less worry of shedding too.

Oops(おっと), image image….I want both beauty and cuteness. I like dogs as well, but if I had to say, I’m a cat person.

Although I like playing with wan-chans(doggies), their aura of playing all day every day gets tiring.

Oops(おっと), I’ve gone and digressed again. Image image….
Nimbly dashing past and swiftly attacking with fang and claws is cool right.

High agility…running as if soaring…mm? To fly…a bird is good too huh. A falcon might be lovely as well. But if I remember correctly, the fastest ones are called Peregrine falcons was it? But they’re not that nimble nee(ねぇ). I feel like I’m on to something. Agile and capable of evading enemy attacks….

No no no no, it’s gotta be a cat, a cat! How did it turn into a bird!? Cat cat cat cat, I am a cat cat, a cute kitten….

『…………』

『………What’s the meaning of this?』(panther)

I had turned into a cat.

I had become a pretty and lovable cat with short fur, exactly as I imagined. I feel like praising myself.

『……How should I explain……』

My voice, after finally becoming capable of speech, sounded indistinct.

Although my current form was without a doubt, a cat, but I had turned into a 『kitten』 that looked like a snugly furball.

The tiny pair of bat wings, sprouting from my back, were awfully pretty~(ぷりちー).

Perhaps as a result of transforming, my once curry colored body had turned into a pretty golden color, my rotund eyes were a bright ruby red, while my small claws and fangs, that had yet to grow, were like translucent bright red jewels.

Using the sense of vision I’ve had up till now(sight/hearing/smell combined), I was able to get a good look at myself.

Frankly speaking, I’m criminally cute. If it was the 『me』 from the dream world, I would probably have picked me up with no hesitation to hug me all day long.

『………Umm』

『……So how do you intend to fight like this……?』

This is bad. The black panther sounds angry….
How did it turn out this way? No no, I know the cause of this. It’s all because I’m an idiot.

Even an idiot like me can understand.This body isn’t fit for fighting.

『……Eh, ehe』(img)

『…………』

The black panther’s gaze was cold as I involuntarily put on a forced smile.

It can’t be helped that it’s run out of patience with me, but if possible I would like to remain friends with this rare conversational partner…not to mention, it had a voice that was particularly my type.

Other than that, I also want to pet it. It’s a different matter with my own fur.

I tried, with tottering steps, to approach the black panther on my short legs…only to flop over on the way.

Suddenly remembering I had them, I flapped my bat wings, causing me to lightly rise into the air…then I fell to the ground flat on my face.

『『………』』

The two people…no, two cats that fell into silence…Oh?(あれ?) Were you supposed to count large animals by the head count?

And while I sunk myself into such thoughts to escape from reality, the black panther let out a small sigh…how skillful, even though it doesn’t breathe…anyhow, after sighing it came closer to chomp down on me with its fangs.

『Hiiyaa!?』(fearful scream)

I, I’ll be eaten!

『…Settle down.』

When I became silent after being told so, the black panther held me in its mouth like a parent cat and began to walk.

『……Erm』

『……I told you before that I have no intention of eating you. To begin with, I wanted to have a conversation for the first time in a while. It’s bothersome, but I’ll keep you until I get tired of talking.』

『………Okay.』

And so, although I had wanted a pet out of loneliness, it was in this way that I became the pet of the black panther.

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