“The next spring, as I was stumbling through the city, king of a neighboring kingdom, King Isicar, was riding down the streets on a horse as black as night. His youngest daughter had just passed away, killed by a rabid dog, and his misery was almost as painful as mine. Uncaring and unaware of the rest of the world, I didn’t stop to gaze at his procession like the rest of the crowds as he went to visit an old friend; I just shuffled down the side of the road with my head bowed. Tripping on a large rock, I fell into the street directly in front of his ebony horse’s hooves. He pulled on the reins and stared at me, completely taken aback. I looked up at him in fear, horrified that I might be trampled, but when he saw my face, he turned ghost white. ‘Arlana, Arlana is it really you?’ he whispered, tears welling in his eyes, as he hopped off his steed and approached me.
“Apparently, I looked an awful lot like his deceased daughter, and he thought that I was she, back from the dead. I bet I looked like I had been dead with my gangly body, pale, ashy-white skin, sunken eyes, and ratty hair. I shivered and hoped against hope that he wouldn’t hurt me when he found out I wasn’t who he thought I was. I watched as his expressions changed from hopeful, to disappointment, and then to love, an expression I had not seen for quite a long time. He continued to crouch down next to me, cradled me in his arms, and whispered in my ear, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ A stared in wonder at his old face with salt and peppered hair and whiskers. His smile so warm. I'd never imagined that I'd feel like that after my parents' removal from my life.
“Within the next month, King Isicar adopted me, moved me into my new home, and I began learning how to live the life of a proper princess. I have never known such generosity as I’ve received from the Catomeruses. My new family all loved me unconditionally, even when I got in their way or said the wrong thing at the wrong time, which I did on a numerous account. Somehow, I had gone from living on the streets, eating scraps of food, to sleeping in a cozy bed, dining in a magnificent dining room, and playing in the castle courtyards. I’ve done my best to adapt to this new environment by engrossing myself into my studies, acting the way a princess should. Though, it is still beyond me how this ever came to be."
“Of course, I am not in line for the throne. I have an elder brother who will be king when our father retires; two elder sisters, whose husbands will be crowned if the worst happens; and then I have a younger brother who will be given the keys to the kingdom before I. Still, Father believes that I should be happily married to a nice, respectable man of high status. So, for the past year, I’ve been traveling kingdom to kingdom in search of a suitor. However, those nasty pirates came aboard and locked me up on my father’s ship, where you so kindly rescued me. Thank you for doing that, by the way.” Hataru, who had been speaking to her tea cup, shyly looked up to see the captains face. His gaze captured hers, and she could tell that he had hung onto her every word.
They were still staring at each other when Firious burst through the doorway screaming, “Levi, quick! We’re under attack!”