My ears twitched at the sound of a window opening. But I was still sleepy, so my eyes wouldn’t open.
In my half-awake mind, I dimly thought “The windows in my old life opened a lot more smoothly huh.”
I wonder if the frame is wooden.
Maybe you guys should oil it a little.
I opened one eye.
There was a person by the window, opposite the shed I was sleeping in. The window was wide open, and he was looking through it.
──Staring. Right this way.
I immediately woke up. Bolting to my feet, I stared right back at him. I could tell that my hairs were standing on end.
It’s that one-eyed knight.
…Could that be your room?
There was a lamp in the room, but the light leaked through the window and illuminated my body.
OH MY GAH.
Who was it! Who was it that said that I’d be hidden once the sun set! He can probably see every hair!
Maybe he had gotten back and was already relaxing, because he was wearing a lot less now. Umu, he really does have great muscles.
As I stood in the shed, and he in his room, the two of us watched each other without moving.
The atmosphere is getting kind of tense. I could feel a nervous sweat forming at my paw pads.
At that moment, the one-eyed knight suddenly placed his foot against the window frame, and then -don- landed lightly on the ground.
His one good eye pierced through me, and his boots began to crush the snow as he made his way to me.
With my escape route blocked, I fell into a huge panic, and then because he was closing the distance, I panicked even more. There was only a metre between us now.
The light from his room was illuminating him, but because it was a backlight, his face was obscured and it made him all the more terrifying. It’s a bit mean to say this, but he had a scary face to begin with.
After a moment of silence, his arm stretched towards me, and I screamed “GYAHH!” in my mind. In reflex, I kicked off the ground and moved back.
But this shed is tiny. When I jumped back, I crashed into all the shovels.
And then the loud sounds of the crash surprised me, and sent me further into a panic. The shovels fell to the ground noisily, and I became so confused I had no idea what was up or down anymore. I jumped and flailed about, and even stepped on my own tail and tripped.
His palm reached out for me again. It was about the size of my face, and there were small scars and calluses from practising the sword. This man is probably really strong.
On the other hand, I’m powerless. Mother can use blizzards to freeze her enemies, but that kind of thing is still impossible for me.
What am I going to do if One-Eyed Knight wants to kill me? What if those hands strangle my neck?
It’s the end for me if he catches me.
When I realised this, the battle instincts I didn’t know I had surged out from within.
You think I’ll let you catch me?
Get the enemy before he gets you first!
My fangs were bared before I realised, and I bit into his hand. A low growl escaped my throat.
I thought he would retaliate, but he stayed still down to his expression.
Since he wasn’t reacting at all, I gradually grew calmer. I stopped growling, and then let go of him in a fluster. I could faintly taste blood on my tongue.
When he slowly stood up, I froze with a start, but he just said,
“Sorry for scaring you,”
and then left the shed.
With my escape route open again, I quickly ran outside, and then took a certain distance from him. I stared his way, all four legs poised to run at any time.
My heart was hammering away, but I was a little calmer now.
What do I do? I bit his hand. I didn’t think I had such a feral part to me.
Apparently it was a finger on his right hand that I had bitten, because it was bleeding just a little.
My canines are small and thin. Not only that, but my jaws don’t have much biting power, so as far as I could tell his injuries were light.
But it’s quite a shock to me that I could hurt somebody like this. I could feel my ears and tail drooping.
“Kyunkyun,” I cried, as I tried asking if it hurt.
“Somebody’s gotten meek all of a sudden.”
One-Eyed Knight smiled lazily at my attitude change. Paying no heed to his injuries, he came my way.
Awawa, don’t come over here!
I ran away again. And after taking enough distance that I could feel safe again, I stopped and turned around.
Each time he frowned and came my way again, I would run away the same distance. We repeated this again and again, and maintained the same distance.
“What the hell…” muttered One-Eyed Knight.
I don’t get it either, okay. I’m sorry about biting, and I want to apologise about that, but when you close in on me, it’s still scary and I get nervous.
The human in me judged that One-Eyed Knight wasn’t a bad person.
He has a scary face, but he doesn’t mean me any harm. Maybe he means to shelter me.
But the fox in me kept thinking “You can’t trust him so easily,” and stayed on guard.
Until I’m absolutely sure that he’s safe, the fox me is going to keep a distance.
While I was watching him, he turned back and headed back to his room.
I sat down on the spot and watched him leave.
Did he maybe lose interest in me? I’m not sure if I’m relieved, or lonely about that.
He returned through his window, and didn’t show his face for a while. Maybe he was treating the bite wound.
I’m a spirit, so I don’t think I’ll give him diseases, but he probably thinks I’m an animal, and I guess he would need to be careful to sterilise it.
If I could talk, then I could apologise…
Fifteen minutes passed without incident, so I decided it was time to get closer to his room. The window was still wide open.
When I looked inside from the shade of a tree, I found that One-Eyed Knight had some kind of plate in hand, and once again showed up by the window.
I stretched my neck because I was curious about the plate.
When I did, I found that I could smell something appetising. There were a few small balls of meat on the plate. Meatball with sauce, it seemed.
My stomach growled. Even though I shouldn’t need any food as a spirit, my human self knew that the food would probably be yummy. When I imagined how it would taste, my tummy suddenly felt empty.
Sometimes I see Mother drinking alcohol, so I should be okay eating human food, right?
Lured by the smell, I tottered over to the window.
Aah, it smells good.
It smells really good.
I looked at the meatballs in One-Eyed Knight’s hand, and gulped.
Mother tells me “Spirits don’t need food,” but sometimes she brings me mice as “snacks”.
But I still have my thoughts as a human. How could I look at a mouse with its eyes rolled back and think “Wow, looks delish!”? I always shake my head and let Mother have them.
Since we live on a mountain, Mother always brings me dying animals as “snacks”. Thanks to that, I guess I misunderstood and thought that I had no appetite. I might not have ever seen human food since coming to this world.
But now, with this meal in front of me, the longing for it was unbearable. Drool was running from my half-open mouth.
I forgot about my fear for him, and ran over with my tail wagging.
But the window was too high for me, and I couldn’t reach the food. Aah, damnit. It’s so close. I placed my front legs against the wall, and let out heartbroken cries as I stood on my two hind legs.
Seeing this, One-Eyed Knight went back inside, and brought three wooden boxes from somewhere. I took a few steps back in wonder.
Leaning out of the window, he dropped them onto the ground. Using the three boxes, he created a crude staircase for me.
And on the second step, closer to the window, he placed the plate down for me.
In joy, I jumped onto the first step. But just as I was about to take a bite, Wait a minute, I thought, and looked right up.
Standing at the window was One-Eyed Knight, watching me from up close.
He probably didn’t mean to, but I felt really pressured by his grey eye and hair. Maybe because his eyes were sharp, it felt like he was glaring at me.
Meeting his gaze from so close, I felt my body freeze. As I felt regret at the smell of the food, I went down the stairs and took a distance.
I want to eat. But being near him is scary.
I walked restlessly around the boxes. Unfortunately my nose is really good, so I could perfectly smell the fragrant meat and sauce.
I’d approach the food, but his eyes made me run, I’d approach the food, but his eyes made me run.
As I repeated this over and over, he gave a troubled smile aid said,
“Got it. I’ll leave, so take your time.”
With that, he really disappeared into the room, so after watching carefully for about a minute, I quickly leapt onto the box. While feeling moved about this taste from my old life, I gobbled down the food. Yummyyyy.
The 5 bite-sized meatballs quickly disappeared, but it was more than enough to fill my little stomach.
After licking the sauce off the plate, careful not to step on the plate, I placed my forelegs against the window and peeked in.
In the plain, undecorated room, One-Eyed Knight was sitting on his bed and polishing a sword. I was still worried about the bite I left, so I stared carefully at his hands.
It looked like he had washed it, and all that was left were two red dots──marks from my teeth. It was just a small injury, but I was worried, and wondered if he wasn’t going to use a band-aid or something.
I called out in a small voice, and let him know that I was done.
“Did you eat it all?”
He put down his sword and stood up. And then when I jumped down from the box, he stretched out his arm through the window.
“You licked it clean, huh.”
Not a single stain could be seen on it.
“Where are you sleeping today?”
His tone was soft and gentle. It was comforting, listening to his low voice. Was he worried about me?
I went into the shed with the fallen shovels to answer him. There’s probably nowhere better.
“I’ll get rid of the shovels for you tomorrow.”
Seeing me find a spot between the shovels, he laughed.
Closing the window, the quiet night returned. But if I listened carefully, I could hear the sounds of floorboards groaning, and doors opening and shutting.
Even though it’s scary when he’s too close, for some reason it makes me feel safe to know that he’s close-by.
Hearing the other knights inside the dorm helped the loneliness of having Mother gone. On the mountain top, not even an animal could be seen, I felt like I was the only one in the world, and it was terribly lonely.
Because I have memories of my old life, I’m different to both a proper animal and a proper spirit.
I guess I really feel most relaxed around humans.
Resting my shin on a fallen shovel, I fell into a deep dream.