“It is my guess that all it takes to activate the spell is the burning emotion of jealousy. It’s happened twice before, once with Ursine and once with me. Though I have no clue what Captain Levi might have been envious of. He is usually content and filled with only goodwill,” speculated Antenor.
“Jealousy?” Hataru’s mind raced. “Oh... oh no!” she moaned.
“Whatever is it, my dear?” Antenor wanted to know.
“Well, right before the curse took over, the captain had been, err, complaining about how much he disliked the prince and his treatment of me. He was awfully upset. You... you don’t supose that he might have been envious of... of Prince Tarin, do you?”
“Hmmm... In honesty, I think it is quite possible. You are quite beautiful, my dear, and I’ve never seen the captain quite so taken by a maiden.”
That’s not what I wanted to hear! the princess thought. She asked aloud, “Umm... Antenor, what was it exactly that Nosa did to free you from the curse?”
The old pirate cheeks grew a rosy pink. “Well, my dear, I suppose I must tell you...”
“What did she do?” Panic began creeping up her back.
“As... as I stood there before her, as a Kresreb, she took a step toward me, fully aware that I could rip her to shreds at any moment. My Nosa gently took my muzzle in her hands, and closed her eyes. Then, she leaned forward, and... and placed her warm lips on my cold, wet nose, and... and the monster just disappeared.” His face was as red as a tomato, a flippant smile upon his lips.
“Oh,” she squeaked, covering her mouth with her hand. “I was afraid of that.”
“That was our first kiss,” the old man giggled to himself.
“Would you stop that! This is serious!” she exploded. “Are you sure there is no other way?”
Downcast, Antenor grimaced. “I’m sorry, my dear. That was insensitive of me, but there are no other ways that I can think of. It makes sense, though. Everyone wants to be loved, even a monster conjured by magic. That kiss must have been enough to stun the beast into losing its grip on my soul, allowing me to slip out and conquer it. Poor Ursine didn’t have his love to save him from the beast.”
The girl covered her whole face with her hands, peaking out from behind her fingers, obviously worried. “So you’re saying that if I don’t kiss him, he will die?”
Antenor glanced at her, abashed, and nodded. “Please, Princess Hataru, you are the only one who can rescue him.” The ship began to tremble. The sound of claws ripping through wooden boards drew closer and closer, climbing up the side of the ship. A terrifying roar emitted from an unseen throat. The Captain was coming. “Please,” Antenor beseeched.
Uncomfortable and unsure, the princess pursed her lips and turned to face the Kresreb.