6. The Place Where Earth and Sky Kiss (part 2)

          "I wonder why those other pirates aren't here, too. Shouldn't they have arrived before us?" she pondered aloud, hoping to break the awkward silence. As she spoke, she tried her best not to peer at her boat rower, but while she waited for a reply, she couldn't resist casting a quick glance his way.

          The pirate refused to pay her any attention. He wouldn't even answer her! Maintaining his rhythmic rowing, his pale lips as tight as a minuscule rubber-band stretched around the hull of a ship, he sat silently staring at the mountain.

          Are you angry with me, Captain?” she asked quietly. “You seem upset.”

          “I’m not upset,” Levi claimed, unconvincingly.

          “Captain Levi, you can trust me. Please, tell me what is wrong,”

          “I’m telling you, there is nothing wrong!” he rowed harder, faster.

          Hataru sighed and sat quietly, watching the one-eyed man with a metal claw for a hand, concerned. She noticed a bead of sweat break out on his brow and watched it slide down his face followed by another and another. Soon, she too was sweating and unbearably sticky.

          “I thought it was supposed to be cooler the further we traveled up. Why am I so hot?” she exclaimed, fanning herself with her hand.

          “That’s the remarkable thing about this mountain, Miss,” one of the pirates in another boat said, his partner swerving their aircraft up closer. “Some folks believe that it is cursed because the basic laws of weather don’t affect it. Within a certain range of the mountain, the closer you get to the sun, the higher the temperature rises. When we reach the top, it will be sweltering and the air will be so thick with condensation that we will have to wear air masks to be able to breath or else our lungs might fill with water and we’ll drown. Actually, we should probably be putting them on pretty soon. You’ll find them under your seat, one for you, one for Captain Levi. I hope yours fits good!” The man reached down and pulled one out from beneath his seat. Holding it up for her to see, she saw that it was a red face mask complete with glass goggles and two air purifying sacks, one on each side of the muzzle. He hooked one on to his face securely, transforming himself into some sort of strange monster. Then he reached over and fastened the other to his partner’s face, so that he could continue rowing. The pirate waved at her as his partner swerved off.

The End

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