Somewhere on the continent, there was a valley where sunlight couldn’t reach the bottom. The humidity allowed no shrubs and trees but fungus to grow, nurturing an unique fungi forest.
Meanwhile, a girl travelled through the rugged path to the fungi forest, who was trembling in fear with a tight grasp on her wand.
“This place is scary...I wanna go home...No no no! I must get myself a Kerales. They’re the best among all companions!”
Yet her courage was soon shattered by the shade landed from the air, which was an enormous tuxedo felidae with three tails. At this moment, he was growling at her aggressively.
“Ahh! D-Don’t eat me——!” The girl fled in a panic, tripping herself into a mouth full of soil.
The embarrassed look of the girl amused the felidae. Laughing too hard, he was unable to sustain his true form and shrunk into the size of an ordinary cat.
“HAHAHA! Look how dumb she is!” Panther from the Kerales clan burst into laughter, showing his white tummy with wiggling tails.
“Panther, there you are, pulling pranks again. All thanks to you, now there’s rumor about a murderous monster in this forest,” said a calico cat, looking at Panther in disapproval.
“Dannie...Humph! Cowards like her are not worthy to be our masters.” Panther sat straight to lick his paw, acting like he didn’t care.
“Sigh, listen to what you’ve said. Most of the Kerales at your age have already been working as the companions of witches for years and you’re the only picky one. Think about all these years you’ve wasted...Just find yourself a master for your own sake.”
“No meow! I’m the genius of Kerales, the best of the best! If I have to call a loser master, I’d rather adventure on my own! I’m strong enough to take down the enemies by myself!”
“Panther, you’re still alone no matter how strong you are.” Dannie continued her lecture, “That’s all I have to say. Think about it yourself.”
Dannie returned to the forest, leaving Panther in a bad mood.
“Ugh. Everyone is lecturing me. This is annoying!”
Irritated, Panther yelled at nothing then lied on the grassfield with his eyes closed.
“Hmm...I smell something good...I-It’s boiled chicken fillet!” Panther sprung up with glitters in his gaze, putting the bad mood behind.
Panther soon found a campfire as he tracked down the scent. The flame had gone out already, a pot was hanging above the burnt woods by an iron rod. In the pot, there were some delicious boiled chicken fillets.
“Let’s not wait any longer! Mmm...Hot, but yummy!” While Panther was all about eating, someone sneaked up from behind.
“How dare you thief eat my lunch.”
A girl with a pointy hat crossed her arms and stared at Panther, who was stunned by her beauty for a moment.
“N-Nonsense meow! Do...Do you have any proof?”
Instead of answering, the girl mumbled an unknown language. Next second, the bottom of the pot began to shine.
“I’m Ingrid, a Kremier witch. That shiny part is our emblem. Is that enough?”
“Yes, I ate your lunch. So what?”
At this moment, Ingrid cracked a victorious grin and reached out to Panther.
“Be my companion as a compensation then, Panther from the Kerales clan.”
“You——” Panther squinted as he had figured everything out. “You set me up...You’re not getting what you want!”
Circulating his power, Panther shifted to his true form of the enormous felidae and ran away.
“Hey! Wait! That’s the lair of the venoworms...Oh, he left.” Ingrid took a deep breath and mumbled, “I can’t sit back. Looks like I must follow.”
In the meantime, Panther the felidae ran on full speed in order to run away from the girl. When he stopped, he found himself in a strange swamp but not the fungi forest.
“Whoa! What the meow is this! Ew!”
Panther saw a noxious worm as he sensed something crawling on his leg. When he got rid of the worm, another crawled up.
“Meow...Why am I feeling numb...Ah! Those worms...are poisonous!”
When Panther was alerted, his limbs were already numbed. Meanwhile, more and more worms were crawling out of the swamp. Just when they were about to eat him alive, a shadow shrouded him.
“Ha!” A feminine shout sounded together with a magic attack, blasting the worms away from Panther. Next second, Ingrid threw a bottle of cure at him.
“That’s the cure. Drink it!” Ingrid shouted while dealing with the incoming swarm of worms.
After a moment of hesitation, Panther eventually drank it, regaining mobility very soon.
“Darn it! These worms are too many to be dealt with!” A drop of sweat rolled down Ingrid’s face as the continuous magic consumption began to exhaust her.
“Even though I was mean to her, she still came to rescue me…” Moved by her kindness, Panther made up his mind and came to Ingrid.
“Bond with me.”
“Huh? Didn’t you just——”
“There’s no time to hesitate!” Panther looked at the stacking worms, which had their strategy changed as they couldn’t take Ingrid down——merging into a giant venoworm.
Ingrid had no choice but to bite her fingertip to bleed and drew a mark on Panther’s forehead.
“The ruler of the dreamland, I, Ingrid the witch, enter into a contract with Panther the companion, who shall feast on my magic and fight for me!”
Light was radiated from the mark, which transformed into feathers to cover Panther. After the bonding was formed, he felt an unprecedentedly abundant magic flowing inside him.
“This is awesome...Is this the result of bonding with a witch…”
Ingrid’s shout brought Panther back to reality. Looking at the hostile worm, he raised his right paw with a smirk.
Slash! The giant venoworm was shattered by Panther’s razor-sharp claws, turning back to countless little worms. They returned to the swamp as their survival instinct warned them not to mess with Panther.
“I’ll maul you all if you mess around again.” Panther returned to the size of a normal cat. Before he could clean himself up, he was hugged against a woman’s chest.
“Panther, you’re ass-kickingly strong! No wonder you’re the best of Kerales!” Ingrid hugged Panther tight in her arms.
“O-Of course meow. I’m the best of the best. I’ll be your protector from now on.” While Panther was talking, he buried his head into Ingrid’s breasts, enjoying the pleasant softness...