ATAPOW Chapter 209(Part 1)
Chapter 209: Deception and Truth(Part 1)
The gaze emanating from the seams of Ji Bai’s helmet intersected with the cold and emotionless stare for a split second before parting ways.
Spitting out a blade of grass from his mouth, the gray-haired, cat-eared man with a scar over his eye rose to his feet. His icy gaze swept across the figure concealed by a helmet, before stopping momentarily on the diminutive figure adorned in a thick and robust overcoat behind him. He then executed a swift somersault, propelling off the wall and landing on the ground with a troll corpse cushioning his fall.
After taking a moment to ease his muscles and joints, he walked towards Ji Bai at a leisurely pace.
Walking past him, the gray-haired man made his way towards the concealed figure hiding timidly behind Ji Bait, who was enveloped in a thick flex topcoat.
“Eeehh?…” The chilling aura exuding from the Asiatic Cat was accompanied by an unconcealable and subtle killing intent which permeated his very being. This robbed Lil’ Sha, who was guided by her strong survival instinct, of her courage to meet the man’s gaze head-on as she clung tightly onto Ji Bai’s body.
Unlike his companion, Ji Bai remained unaffected in the face of the Asiatic Cat’s provocation.
He saw no reason to be wary of someone who exhibited no aggressive or murderous intent. Even if the man’s true intentions were unclear, he was confident he could swiftly protect Lil’ Sha the instant he became a threat to her.
Needless to say, the absence of animosity was limited to Lil’ Sha. When it came to him, this mysterious Asiatic Cat projected a notably meaningful demeanor.
“…” Sensing Lil’ Sha’s rejection, the Asiatic Cat youth raised his grave and stern eyebrows, taking half a step back. He then slightly bent his body, aligning his gaze with Lil’ Sha’s.
“Can I see your face?” He spoke, his emotionless voice tinged with a hint of expectation and hope.
“Uuu~” At a loss, Lil’ Sha timidly glanced at Ji Bai, as if seeking his opinion.
As expected, her attempt to elicit a response proved futile. This thick-headed, helmeted man seemed completely oblivious to her gaze. His head was tilted upwards as he stood in a corner, looking at the stars.
Steeling herself, she lifted her head and noticed that the young man’s eyes were shrouded in an icy aura which starkly contrasted with the extraordinary clarity of his pupils.
Lil’ Sha bit her lip, unsure whether her uneasiness stemmed from the youth’s intense gaze or the realization that he held no ill intent towards her.
Eventually, she cast off the cloak that hid her features, revealing her vibrant light-gold hair which scattered in all directions and cascaded all the way to her waist like a waterfall.
The very air around them seemed to solidify. Even Ji Bai, who was typically slow to pick up on such details, could recognize the strange change in the atmosphere.
Casting a swift glance at the Asiatic Cat youth, he could not help but notice the young man staring fixedly at Lil’ Sha. As he took a deeper look at him, he could tell that his shoulder was slightly trembling.
“Uhm… Excuse me, but do we know each other?” The weird expression on the youth’s face made Lil’ Sha somewhat uneasy, causing her to involuntarily take a step back.
“Of course…” The gray-haired Asiatic Cat youth took a deep breath, as though resigning himself to a certain truth. Then, he took two steps back and collapsed to his knees with a ‘thud’.
“Your humble servant, Fishbone — the second son of Duke Yong’an — humbly pays his respects to Her Highness the princess.” His voice undulated with a calm tone, yet it held an unparalleled amount of respect.
Ji Bai cast a quick glance at the kneeling Fishbone before shifting his gaze to the dazed and bewildered Lil’ Sha.
“Do you know him?”
“Uhm… No I don’t.” Lil’ Sha momentarily hesitated, as if she was worried that her words might embarrass the youth. She then shook her head and gave her answer.
She was aware of Duke Yong’an, a kind old man who had served as a minister. Although she had met him a few times in the past, Lil’ Sha had no knowledge of his heirs and could not ascertain the identity of the person before her.
“It is quite understandable that Your Highness does not recognize me. Since my youth, I have suffered from poor health and have been confined to my home. As a result, only a very small number of people have had the opportunity to meet me.” Fishbone’s response did not put Lil’ Sha in an awkward position, as he directly stated that he had never seen her before.
“Then how did you recognize me…?”
“Asiatic Cat royalty shares similar characteristics. Moreover, the intuition of this humble subject…” Fishbone raised his head, his expression devoid of emotion. “Leads me to believe that you must belong to our royal lineage.”
“May I dare ask a bold question? What is your relationship to Princess Felina or Princess Yatina?”
“Please be assured that I am your humble servant, dedicated to the cause of the Restoration Society. Our objectives are to identify and gather the descendants of the royal bloodline who have been living among the commoners, expel the foreign invaders, and restore the territorial integrity of the Asiatic Cat Race.” Observing Lil’ Sha’s troubled expression, Fishbone retrieved a gleaming golden medal from a pocket on his chest—an emblem that bore the late national crest of the Asiatic Cat Race.
“Are you the survivors of our Army?” Lil’ Sha exclaimed, unable to hide the joy in her voice.
“You could say so,” Fishbone replied respectfully as he carefully tucked the medal back into his pocket.
“Uhm, why don’t you stand up first? We can talk later. After all, I’m not exactly a princess anymore.” Seeing the youth prostrating before her made Lil’ Sha feel somewhat awkward, especially with the ‘obscene middle-aged man’ still observing from the side…
“Understood.” Replied Fishbone, not putting on a show of reluctance, and got up to his feet.
“Are you the dissidents the trolls were talking about earlier?”
“…” The cold voice which had interrupted their conversation caused Fishbone’s eyebrows to raise slightly and his crystal clear eyes to narrow.
“Swoosh…!!” A fierce sound of an object slicing through the air resounded. Suddenly, a sharp claw appeared, stopping less than half an inch away from Ji Bai’s neck.
“This is not the place for you to speak, human.” Fishbone responded without even turning in his direction.
The overwhelming hostility and dismissiveness of the other party’s actions failed to rouse anger in Ji Bai. Instead, he raised his eyebrows and lifted his head, giving a remark. “Am I already exposed?”
“I could smell the human scent on your body from a hundred miles away,” Fishbone coldly harrumphed.
“Hey! What are you doing? Don’t you know it’s incredibly rude to point your claws at someone?”
“…Very well, if that’s your wish.” Fishbone raised his eyes to look at Lil’ Sha, who had puffed up her cheeks in displeasure at the situation. Despite being surprised that she would actually speak up for a human, he eventually decided to do as she implied and lowered his claw.
“I am the cousin of the late First Princess, Her Highness Felina, and the second daughter of Princess Yatina.” Lil Sha was still unsatisfied, even as Fishbone retracted his claws.
“So, you’re Your Highness the Second Princess… You’re actually alive.” Fishbone’s composed words carried a hint of undeniable excitement. “That’s good, that’s great… As long as you are here, the Asiatic Cat Race hasn’t been completely eradicated.”
“So, who might he be?” Fishbone’s tone returned to its calmness as he shifted the topic to Ji Bai. His crystal-clear eyes held a subtle undertone of vigilance.
“Oh, this is my friend. He’s the one who escorted me all the way to this place. Is there a problem?”
“No problem.” Fishbone shifted his gaze back to Lil’ Sha once more. “Your Highness, did you return to your homeland with the intention of reclaiming its territory?”
“…I truly wish I could, but…” Lil’ Sha pursed her lips as her gaze turned extremely complex.
“In that case, please follow your humble subject.”
“To meet similar subjects who would pledge loyalty and fealty to you without hesitation.” Fishbone spoke with deference.
“Yes, please follow me.”
“…Are you willing to accompany me, obscene middle-aged man?”
“Sure.” Ji Bai stood at the side and replied after a moment of hesitation.
After all, he had nothing better to do at the moment. Moreover, since he had resigned himself to let her tag along, he had to be responsible for her safety.
“Alright, I’ll follow you.”
“Forgive me for saying this, but it seems highly inappropriate to allow an outsider into our camp.” Fishbone sized Ji Bai up with a peculiar glance. “Besides, he appears to be a knight affiliated with humanity?”
Fishbone’s tone gradually turned harsh and cold.
“Oh. In that case, forget it. Even though he is no longer a knight, there’s no need for you to bring me along if you don’t trust him.” Lil’ Sha shook her hand, clearly indicating her refusal in her words.
“…This humble self apologizes for his rudeness. I have not once doubted Your Highness’ words.” Fishbone eventually chose to yield.
“I also believe that he would never do anything inappropriate, considering he is Your Highness’ friend, right?” Fishbone shot a glance at Ji Bai.
“Please, follow me. It’s inadvisable to stay in this place for too long.” The youth led the way forward.
“You’d better not do anything silly, human. Otherwise…” His gloomy tone was filled with veiled threats as he brushed past Ji Bai’s shoulders.
Ji Bai remained silent as he followed. To him, even if it was a trap, he nonetheless believed he could escape unharmed even with Lil’ Sha in tow. Moreover, he could not sense any hostility emanating from the Asiatic Cat youth, at least not towards Lil’ Sha.