“Are you alright?” the man’s voice flowed like honey as he extended his hand to her. BA-BUM. BA-BUM. Hataru’s heart pounded in her chest like the hammer her birth father had wielded smashing against the anvil.
“Oh, yes. Yes!” she said, flustered. “Thank you, sir, for the mask and for... for saving me.”
“It was no problem at all,” he replied, “just all part of a days work.” Although she couldn’t see it concealed behind his mask, she was sure that this man was smiling brilliantly at her. It was in his voice.
The man helped her to her feet, and she dusted off her skirts. He ushered her out of the sun into the cave’s entrance, where they could cool down from their previous episode. After a short break, they started along the interminable cavern pathway, leading to the treasure room. Should I be showing him where everyone is searching for the comb? I know he just saved me, yet can I really trust him? Hataru debated with herself.
“Pardon me, Miss, is something troubling you? You seem a tad bit worried,” the man questioned.
Trying to conceal her inner anxiety, she answered in a innocent voice, “No, I’m fine. I’m just a bit nervous walking with a kind, strong man whose name I don’t even know.” Nothing could get the bluejacket off her trail better than a little womanly charm. Plus, she thought, maybe I can find out who he is, and what he wants. What was it that they taught me in Conversation Class at the castle? Ask questions but don’t answer any? Answer all, but don’t ask? Oh! Why is it that I can’t remember when I actually need it?
“Well, then let me introduce myself. My name is Tarin Vallor, prince of Marcelia.” Hataru stopped in her tracks. It couldn’t be him, could it? The next man on her list to meet, the one who would one day rule over her country of origin? This wasn’t possible! Was it?
Noticing that she was no longer next to him, Tarin stopped and asked, “Is something wrong?”