18. Falling Hard (part 3)

          Before her body could begin to shake again, the princess' hands hurled themselves at the Kresreb's snout, and her fingers embraced its filthy fur with the gentleness of a crocodile's chomper. She could not give up! The remarkable turn of events earned her a dreadful scowl and a sharp howl from the once-was captain. This was the last chance, and Hataru knew it. Her heart pounded with the traipse of lion feet as her moxie returned to her, and a roar of prowess erupted in her chest. Though her mind still grappled with fear, her spirit was prepared for melee and triumph. A spark shone in the corner of her eye; the sun rising with all of its glory, declaring the coming of a new day. Hataru stared at the Kresreb one final time, taking in its horrific frame ─ its matted silver hair, its battered eyepatch and its glowering, golden eye, its pointed teeth, and its gargantuan, slobbery nose.

          Drawing near, her puckered, rosey lips quivered. It was time. She could save everyone with this one act. There was nothing stopping her this time, and yet she still could not bring herself to do it. Maybe it was the morbid stench of its breath. Maybe it was the cruelty in its eye, or maybe it was length of the teeth her body were so very close to at the moment. Whatever the excuse, she could not break her unwillingness with any form of rationale. A droplet of sweat broke out along her brow, worry winning the internal battle for her thoughts. Here she held the key of salvation, yet she could not dare herself to use it, not even to save Zephyr, not even to save herself, not even to save the captain. The Captain. He was still in there, hidden behind the atrocious mask of the Kresreb beast. How was it possible that she had almost forgotten? He was here, with her, watching her every move, davening for her assistance in escaping from his prison. He needed her help. He, the wondrous Captain Levi Spry, who'd saved her pitiful self from desperation a number of times over the few days since they'd met, needed her.

The End

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