"Uh. I'm fine? I would think the question should be asked after the General," Mattheus replied as his eyes flickered to Brunilda and considered his chances.
How to steal a royal's pet without getting in serious trouble.
It would have been different if Brunilda had taken over the Duchess since it wasn't like she would be able to step away from her position. But as a cat? Not only was the idea of them being "housemates" again more feasible but he was not going to leave his friend alone in a place when circumstances meant only he could communicate with her without consequence.
The only challenge was that someone already claimed her as a pet. Someone pretty important and seemed to bring her everywhere, considering how he saw her at the Plaza and the ball.
Brunilda as a cat was rather distinctive too. She looked like a purebred cat and not exactly common in appearance. There was no way Mattheus could excuse getting the same breed of cat when he couldn't even be sure the name was also Nebelung in this world.
"The General's fine, thanks to you." Edgar sighed. "You though…"
"Never mind for now," the older Crown dismissed with a small shake of his head. "Father and I need to stay to investigate, so you'll leave with Mother ahead of us."
"I can help though."
"You've… you've already saved the General, Mattheus." Edgar paused a moment before placing his hands on Mattheus's shoulders and giving the younger brother a grave look. "People saw you heal him and while we were never going to keep it a secret, this is a bit more… public than we ever anticipated so soon."
"… Sorry," Mattheus apologized. Though he wouldn't have made a different decision even with such consequence either way. He was not the type to weigh his own comfort as more important than another's life.
"No—You did an amazing thing, Brother, so there is no need to apologize. Let's talk more about this once we are back at the townhome, alright?"
Edgar looked away and gestured to one of his subordinates.
Mattheus took that moment to look at Brunilda again, who had quietly observed the interaction between the two brothers. His fingers flicked, trying to silently communicate to her to follow him.
Brunilda's tail merely twitched back in response. "Go on. I'll find you later tonight."
"Follow Aubrey who will take you to Mother and the carriage, Mattheus."
"Ah." Edgar stopped him for a moment. "Is there anything you want to share about something you noticed about General Grant?"
Brunilda jumped off and started twining around Mattheus's legs. "Careful," she mewed.
"Um… well, I noticed there was something wrong with his nerves and that's not typical of an allergic reaction."
Edgar, who had been staring at the cat in bemusement, replied. "I see… that must be why you asked about what he ate. Is that Duchess Sophily's cat?"
"Yes." Mattheus shrugged. "She kept me company while I was waiting."
The older sibling looked a bit amused, the first sign of light-hearted emotion from Edgar Crown since that scream at the ball. "Looks like she likes you."
Brunilda just sniffed at his words and Mattheus could only laugh it off awkwardly.
Mattheus startled at the abrupt comment and spun around to see glowing green eyes reflecting the room's light as Brunilda entered from the previously closed balcony door.
He exhaled in relief. "I think you becoming a cat has made you twice as stealthy as you already could be."
It was always an amusing point between the two, when they started being housemates, that they were both practically ghost roommates to the other. Brunilda treaded with cat's feet (the irony of the phrasing now…) and could open doors or generally navigate her apartment without a single noise until she wanted to be heard. He had been more like a ghost ninja, walking with silent steps but causing occasional "poltergeist phenomena" by opening doors.
Unlike Brunilda, he still had to make noise when washing the dishes. He still wasn't sure how she managed to open doors silently—the tumblers made noises.
"A little jumpy, Mattie?" Brunilda remarked as she hopped onto the back of an armchair, the tip of her fluffy tail flicking slightly.
Mattheus rolled his eyes and huffed a little. He couldn't hide a smile as he replied, "Excuse me if I didn't expect you to come from the locked balcony."
The feline chuffed. He figured that was Brunilda visibly laughing in her new form.
"Laugh it up, Brue. Anyway, I was going to pull up this new friend tab and try to see what you meant by corrupted before you joined."
If it were anybody but Countess Crown that shared the ride back, he would have done it in the carriage. The woman was a professional people-reader as a socialite. He hadn't wanted to run the risk of Honoria Crown noticing another anomaly of her youngest son.
"Oh? A friend tab? I wonder if this proves that the System is an individual existence per host with a singular so-called 'computing' source. Though I guess we'll never know either way unless we manage to go back and check if the System still existed where we came from or not."
Brunilda had read more news and studies on the System because of her Title and skills gained from it. Half the technical theories he knew were because he listened to her ramble about something she read on it.
He pulled up the System and checked the new tab out. The first thing he noticed was that the System apparently allowed him to have 100 people on the list with only one of the slots currently occupied.
"Ah. I can see why you said 'corrupted' now."
The only reason he knew it was Brunilda was that she was the only one that was added to the list. Other than the "B" and a squiggly "i," every part was glitched out, replaced with outright bars if not weird symbols from a font he didn't recognize.
Mentally clicking the name had it expand to more corrupted text. The categories were fine but it was Brunilda's unique information that completely glitched out.
He skimmed the categories, mentally filling in the information he could recall. The single Title was there along with the four skills he remembered Brunilda saying she had, even if he couldn't read any of it.
Then he saw the Inventory button.
Expanding it, Mattheus saw a window reminiscent of his own Inventory, though he tried not to focus on the actual contents out of politeness.
"I can see your Inventory," he commented.
The cat visible perked up. "Oh? Really? That is seriously the thing I missed most. Can you take things out?"
Mattheus was willing to try. He found the first object and pulled out a still icy cup of green tea latte. Then he put it back with no issue.
"Awesome!" His now feline-shaped friend sounded significantly cheered. "Now give me some salmon. Please."
He paused, looking at her in bemusement. "Didn't I put away the order? Are you implying you keep groceries in your Inventory?"
"Why not take advantage of the Inventory? It's sure coming in useful now, even if I can't access it myself." Brunilda had a superior tone but was not exactly wrong.
"I can scroll through your Inventory?"
"Hah. It would be more your discomfort than mine when you see the female underwear in there, Mattie-boy."
Mattheus rolled his eyes. Why did he even ask? Well, because he respected other people's privacy. Since she gave her permission though, he scrolled through an Inventory that was much more full than his own.
He took a few minutes looking through everything, some of the items causing him to hike his eyebrows and add another tick to his suspicions that Brunilda was involved in less than legal things before she came to the States.
Otherwise, Mattheus could only laugh a bit helplessly.
"You're packed for a zombie apocalypse, Brue."
"Not specifically a zombie apocalypse but it's a good thing I did, right?"
"Were you trying to figure out your Inventory's maximum capacity or something? Some of these are… Why do you have a motorcycle in here? How did you even manage to put it in!"
It showed how unreliable the System was back in their world when there was a different capacity for each Inventory but one wouldn't know until it was full. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, though it seemed consistent that people with unique Titles tended to have an Inventory with a large capacity.
As Theo, he never tried testing it out mostly because he hadn't the time. It had just been roughly a year since he became a host to the System like the rest of humanity and he was a mostly broke student. Sure, he kept an emergency bag in there along with important documents and a week's worth of bento (Brunilda insisted), but it was literally just on this shopping trip that they started seeing if he had a normal or larger Inventory capacity.
Normally though, the items one could put into the Inventory had a weight restriction. A motorcycle was definitely way over the limit the average person could…
He wondered if he had an expression of disbelieving awe (or horror) on his face as he said, "You were able to dead-carry a heavy touring motorcycle for at least an hour before?"
Mattheus shook his head. "We're getting off-topic."
"Yes, give me the sushi order."
The young man sighed. "That's not what I meant," he said while still doing as told. He removed the cover and set it on a flat surface for her to eat. "We have to figure out how to steal you away without my head being chopped off for lèse-majesté."
"You really don't need to," Brunilda demurred.
"I'm not going to leave you in a place where everyone thinks you're just the average cat. You can't even speak with anyone else without potentially being labeled as a monster and killed or something!"