Kasser looked at the woman quizzically.
“I thought you said you wanted to see a beast. What’s wrong?” he said.
She gave him a sheepish grin. “It’s just that lizards are a bit…” Eugene refrained from saying anything explicitly since the beast would understand her.
Seeing her unease, Kasser said disbelievingly, “This creature is a beast. It’s not a real lizard.”
“It still looks like a lizard.” She countered.
“Then we can change its appearance.” He promptly suggested.
“Oh! That would be fine then.” Eugene considered for a moment and then said, “A squirrel. A squirrel should do nicely. Definitely not a mouse, but a squirrel. Hm… Hey, little one. Now that I think about it, you don’t have a name. Do you think you could turn into a squirrel?”
The lizard, which was stuck to the side of the cage, blinked at her. From its docile mannerism, it seemed like it was paying attention to Eugene. But nonetheless, it remained a lizard.
“It seems like it doesn’t know what a squirrel is. I suppose I should show it what sort of animal it is.” As an afterthought, she added. “Can it only change into an animal it has seen before?”
“Yes. It needs to learn to understand. This is a very important time for this beast. Just like people, the experiences of a beast while they are young have a big impact on them. If they go through multiple life-threatening situations right after being born, naturally, they develop aggressive personalities.”
Kasser thought to himself that Abu must have had a very difficult youth. Then, he called for an attendant on the side. He instructed the attendant to bring a children’s picture book on animals.
While waiting for the picture book, the two of them, who had been conversing by the desk, took the cage and moved over to the sofa.
Eugene kept on observing the beast within the cage. Since it was not a real lizard, she felt relatively less disgusted by it.
It’s the king’s second beast. How unusual!
Such a thing had not appeared in her novel. So far, her novel had one king-one beast scenario. Having two beasts under one person was quite unheard of in Mahar.
While focusing on the beast, she remained oblivious to Kasser’s gaze upon her. She, of course, did not notice his expression gradually worsening, either.
Right then, the attendant returned with a picture book. Looking through the book, Eugene found a squirrel and held it before the beast.
“This is a squirrel. Try changing into this shape.”
The lizard stared at the squirrel in the book. It tilted its little head from side to side over and over.
An enthralled Eugene watched the young beast starting to learn with delight. Since there had been so many things in this world that she didn’t know much about, she had grown a little timid. But at the opportunity to show off her knowledge on a topic in which she was well-versed, her confidence had returned.
She has a lot of interest in beasts, Kasser thought as he observed Eugene’s lively expression. He had not realized that her interest was this high.
But although he was pleased by her enjoyment, his mood was not alleviated. His expression gradually stiffened.
The lizard which had been clinging to the bars of the cage came down onto the floor. It curled up its body as though trying to bite its own tail and spun round and round in place. The sharp end of its tail inflated and started to transform.
As though the lizard was putting on a fur coat over its smooth skin, it sprouted a layer of brown fur from the end of its tail to the top of its head. Its long, slanted eyes turned small and round, its elongated body shrunk and the spread-out legs came closer together.
In a moment, all traces of the lizard had vanished. What remained was a perfect, adorable squirrel.
With excitement, Eugene unlocked the cage right away. In a flash, the squirrel scampered up Eugene’s arm and onto her shoulder.
She turned her head, following the squirrel with her eyes as it moved. Its movements were agile as it ran across her arms and shoulders in a frenzy.
Eugene rounded her lips and clicked her tongue, trying to make a sound that it would respond to.
The beast came to a stop at the top of her left hand, its nose twitched in response to the sound she had made.
Eugene lifted her right hand and reached out towards the beast gently so as not to scare it. She petted the squirrel’s little head and rubbed its chin with the tip of her fingers. The beast closed its eyes and rubbed its face against her hand, seemingly enjoying her touch.
“It’s cute.” Eugene murmured with a quiet laugh.
Beasts were truly perfect creatures; so lovely and clever. And once one developed a mutual bond, one would be in for surprises.
Kasser’s hand suddenly swooped in, grabbed the squirrel from behind and lifted it up. Eugene, who had been watching the squirrel delightedly, looked up.
Dangling from Kasser’s fingers, the beast wriggled in the air. It was flailing its legs desperately towards Eugene.