10. Clash in the Cave (part 5)

          “No! You dirty scoundrel, how dare you steal from the High Prince of Marcelia!” a distraught voice of rage screamed after him. Tarin began rushing after him, but stopped in front of Hataru for a moment to rapidly spurt out, “I’m sorry, Miss, but I really must go! I’ve been chasing that thief down for who knows how long, and I can’t let him get away now! I trust you’ll be able to take care of yourself,” he sloppily grabbed her hand while sliding his mask to the side, dipped down and smashed his warm lips against it, and charmingly whispered, “Until we meet again.” Then he was off, running with the speed of ten horses, replacing his mask into position and chasing after Kosu and his men.

          Levi peered at the royals’ transaction with cynical, perturbed eyes, but then rushed to the princess’s side once the bluejacket was gone. He rested his hands on her shoulders, staring down into her fathomless blue, dazzling eyes. They stared at each other quietly for a moment, their minds whirling. Levi still could not grasp that the girl was still alive and standing before him. It seemed quite impossible to him, yet here she was! Hataru was still thinking about the prince that had been next on her list of viable suitors and how he had rescued her. She wished more than ever that the assassin and his team had not overpowered her father’s ship, The Sky-Bender, for then she might have met the handsome man sooner. But then, she thought, staring back up into Levi’s eye and eyepatch, I would have never met the altruistic man standing before me now.

          Dipping his head closer to hers, searching her eyes for the answers he sought, Levi asked attentively, “Are you alright? Blue blazes, I thought you were dead! What happened?”

          “Well, I...” she smiled apologetically, “... I fell asleep.” The captain stared at her in disbelief, and Hataru quickly stumbled through an explanation of what had happened after she’d run to fetch the air mask, excluding the part about her dream. Satisfied with her response, he leaned back and laughed to himself, shaking his head, unable to conceal his joy to find that she was fine. Pausing to take a breath, he beamed down at her and momentarily forgot their social differences. His hands slipped beneath her arms and around her back, seizing her against him in one fluid motion as her hands flew up to rest on his shoulders, not completely pushing him away but not completely welcoming him either.

          As he embraced her tightly, he whispered sincerely in her ear, "I am glad that you are alright, Princess; I can't tell you how relieved I am to see you again."

The End

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