The next day, Kuuga woke up in a strange place.
Although he’d had a bad feeling since last night, he should have gone to bed in his room as usual. He wondered if he was kidnapped while sleeping.
Kuuga was lying down on an altar-like place wholly made of stone.
Shaaa~, when he heard the sound of water and turned his head to the right, he saw water overflow from a flower-like relief at the back, which became a fountain and pooled around the altar where Kuuga had been sleeping on.
When he looked to his left, there’s a dark wide-open space, which made it hard to see, but he could make out a large door.
Why am I lying in such a place?
There was no one around. Maybe Kuuga had been locked up in here, but first, he wanted to see if that big door could be opened.
Kuuga, who decided so, tried to stand up…and was then surprised when his hand came into view.
It wasn’t the human hand that Kuuga was used to. It was covered in black fur and looked like a dog’s paw.
[Wha…what is this…]
Moreover, he noticed that the words he wanted to say turned into a kyun~ sound.
Kuuga, who had a bad feeling, stood up and looked at the fountain pool. Reflected on the water was the present appearance of Kuuga.
He was speechless.
It’s a dog. It had a strangely large body, but it looked like a black dog, and looking at the fluffy mane-like fur, it might also be a wolf. No, it’s something from the canine family that was neither a dog nor a wolf because of its size. The pattern on the forehead and the tip of the ears, mane, and tail were white.
This was now his appearance. —what the hell is going on?
Certainly, Kuuga had expected that something would happen, but this was too unexpected that he blanked out.
[Or rather, where is this? And what…am I?]
His words also changed into a gau~ sound. With this, even if he found someone, he wouldn’t be able to ask them a question.
Should he just get out of here? But there’s no guarantee that the outside wasn’t dangerous. There’s also no guarantee that waiting here would change the situation.
[I wonder if I can even go out…]
When he muttered so and tried to get off the altar, Kuuga’s ears caught something.
He heard something like footsteps and realized that someone was gradually approaching his location from the sound, so Kuuga simply sat down. He waited for now.
He might have waited for about 30 seconds before the footsteps stopped in front of this room, and the door opened with a rusty gyi~i sound. Someone came in and perhaps also brought a lamp as the area around the door brightened flickeringly.
…however, Kuuga noted that he heard the footsteps from a distance farther than he had imagined. He waited a lot longer than he expected. Was it because his current ears were better than his human ears?
He waited for that someone to approach him, and the moment Kuuga was in the other person’s field of view, that person was so surprised that they dropped the lamp to the floor.
A loud painful sound echoed through Kuuga’s ears, but he didn’t mind and just stayed still. Kuuga was observing the situation for the time being. If the other person had bad intentions, he might be attacked suddenly.
“Wahhhh, the oracle 30 years ago came true! W-w-w-what should I do? I have to report…!”
That person started to panic and ran out of the hall with the door banging behind him.
The stunned Kuuga deeply sighed before getting out of the altar. That person said that they’d make a report, so he wondered if someone would come, but Kuuga had no reason to wait. If they wanted him to stay, they should have explained it first. The person who neglected to do so was the one in the wrong.
From what he had heard and seen from their behavior, his existence seemed to be a surprise. He was called a Divine Beast, but he wondered if they really treated their Divine Beast like this. Considering that he was called such a title, Kuuga shouldn’t be hunted wherever he went.
The feeling of his paws touching the floor was entirely new. This body shouldn’t be a child in terms of its size, but it still felt like a new one. The feeling of the meat pad was still so soft. Before he got used to it, it might hurt to run around outside, so he should be careful.
Speaking of which, Kuuga remembered something.
For some reason, he naturally understood the words spoken by that person even though it’s not Japanese. However, it’s not English either. Instead, it’s a language he’d never heard before.
So this was not Japan. No, on the contrary…it’s just like those fantasy tropes, and the clothes that person wore gave him a bad feeling.
When he was walking toward the door where that person went out, it made a rattling noise. Then two people appeared as the door opened again before he could reach it.
One was the young man who had just left, and the other was a man in his 50s, who was wearing a white robe that looked somewhat expensive. Both of them were surprised that Kuuga was right in front of them.
“Waaa! Divine Beast-sama, it’ll be a problem if you move around…!”
“Cary, please refrain from saying things that blame Divine Beast-sama. Did you just ran out without saying anything?”
If the other person hadn’t chided him, Kuuga would have growled in complaint. The young man, called Cary, stiffened before reluctantly bowing to Kuuga again and again.
Cary had a look that said he thought this was unreasonable, so Kuuga tilted his head as the man seemed to be complaining.
The other man sent an apologetic look to Kuuga and bowed deeply.
“My name is Ada Reis, the Chief Priest. This person has been rude to you. But until the ritual, can I ask Divine Beast-sama to spend your time here? Although it’s cramped, please be patient.”
What ritual? Kuuga thought so, but there’s no way to ask it.
However, it turned out that there’re a purpose and a fixed deadline. It’s better than spending the time here without knowing anything and relying on no one. For the time being, Kuuga decided to do what Ada said.
Kuuga nodded to show understanding at Ada’s slightly lacking explanation. It’s inconvenient to not be able to speak words.
But Kuuga became worried when he saw Cary show a surprised expression at his nod. No way, did they thought that he wouldn’t understand their language? So that wasn’t intentional since Cary believed that it’s useless to explain to a dog in the first place.
Ada seemed to have noticed his misgivings as he lifted a brow and turned to Cary.
“You are not eligible to be here. Go down. Call Kurone instead.”
“…ack, I-I’m very sorry!”
Cary, who quickly became blue in the face, bowed his head vigorously and left with a crying face.
Waiting until the door closed, Ada once again bowed deeply to Kuuga.
“Please forgive the rudeness of your subordinate. I will never let Cary enter here again.”
[…no, it’s okay…]
It was true that Kuuga didn’t want to be treated like a dog, but was it enough of a mistake to be punished like that? He didn’t want to admit it, but there’s no doubt that Kuuga’s current appearance was that of a beast. Recalling that face that had turned pale, Kuuga felt a bit guilty.
Judging from Ada’s attitude, he thought that it was known that the beings called Divine Beasts could understand the language. However, Cary seemed suspicious of this.
That meant that this was the first time Cary had seen him. He wasn’t even treated as a creature with intelligence.
Kuuga was almost tired of guessing, so could they explain? Moreover, where’s this place?
While thinking of such things, he returned to the altar as prompted by Ada, and Kuuga laid down there, waiting for the priest’s explanation.
Ada knelt in front of the altar and looked up at him.
“We will immediately gather the ‘candidates,’ but they will be too busy… please wait for about 10 days before we could conduct the ritual.”
[10 days!? So I can’t get out of here for that time!]
Ada might not understand Kuuga’s words, but he could guess by Kuuga’s movements. Ada made an apologetic face then lowered his head.
“I deeply apologize, but please be patient. Meals will be prepared properly.”
Not caring about such things, Kuuga looked around. Although it’s a big place, there’s only one window at a high position, and it was dimly lit. Sunlight couldn’t even get in correctly.
If they couldn’t understand his words, then he couldn’t even ask for someone to talk to. Of course, there’s also no TV. At the very least, if he had a book, he could kill time and collect information.
[Hey, do you have a book?]
“Kurone will come soon. Please pardon my rudeness.”
He tried asking for it, but it didn’t work at all. Ada saw his drooping ears and strange expression but just bowed his head once more and went out.
After all, only human beings could understand spoken words, and communication could only be established within their own species. If they asked Kuuga a question, he could at least nod or shake his head, but they didn’t ask him any.
It seemed like Ada knew that Kuuga had some intelligence, but looking at how he didn’t give him a detailed explanation, he might have assumed that Kuuga had the knowledge from the very beginning.
What kind of ritual was it? In the first place, judging from their surprise, they weren’t the ones who brought Kuuga here. However, though they were surprised, they didn’t question it.
Kuuga wondered if he was secretly brought here by someone for that ritual.
[I have no idea…]
When he groaned and put his chin on his foreleg, Kuuga gazed at the door then smelled a strange odor approach.
After waiting for a while, the door opened again. A young man with a gentle face came in holding something.