Gazing at a glass case of golden pocket watches engraved with the Marcelian canine, Hataru looked up at the thin, stubble-chinned man, her eyes wide with alarm, her cheeks bright red, “I can’t believe this!”
“What’s that, Miss? Is something wrong?”
“I just realized I don’t know your name, which is rather embarrassing since we’ve been living on the same ship for almost two weeks now.”
“Nah! Don’t worry too much, Miss! This fellow right here,” he gestured to Cedy, “hardly knows his own name, most of the time. Don’t you, Cedy?”
“That’s not true! My name is… uh…” Hataru tried hard to suppress her snickers.
“See what I mean, Miss? Nothing for you to worry about! But I’ll tell you, his name is─”
“Just wait! Gimme a minute, would you?” whined the gargantuan.
“Cedy, you’ve been given a whole lifetime to remember it, and you still can’t! What do you think one minute’ll do for you?”
“I… I dunno…”
“That‘s what I thought, you old lummox, you. What would you do without me?” he jocularly clouted his friend’s arm.
“This!” Cedy swung back, full force, barely missing the lanky man’s noggin as he ducked to avoid the exuberant blow.
“Oh, ho, ho! Is that so? And what if I did this?” The smaller man charged forward, his arms open wide for a tackle. This maneuver failed, however, when Cedy merely blocked his advance with the palm of his hefty hand.
“I’d do this!” Their playful banter and wrestling continued, creating a rumpus of commotion worse than a herd of cattle in a porcelain shop. At one point, Cedy shoved his chum back against the glass display cases of wolf-embossed time-telling devices, which Antenor, who had still been studying its contents, was forced to prevent it from shattering on the ground. Of course, this evoked quite an outburst from the pot-bellied shop owner, who sharply began roaring at the buffoons tumbling around his booth. The woman whom the merchant had been assisting stared aghast at their obscenity and quickly ushered her children away from the scene, much to the peddler’s dismay.
During her travels on the Jupiter’s Revenge, Hataru had grown accustomed to the rough housing of Levi’s men. She’d bewilderedly watch them pound, pummel, whack, and wallop each other in all hours of the day. Nothing that these two men before her were practicing was new to her eyes. However, this was not the Jupiter’s Revenge nor the place to be behaving like clowns, and Hataru was not going to stand for it.
“Gentlemen?” she asked quizzically. No reaction. “Excuse me?” Still, no reaction. “GENTLEMEN!” she spat with the venom of a viperess. Immediately, the ruckus ceased as all four men within the tent stared bulge-eyed at her. The princess looked down at the two crewmen grappling at her feet, her eyes filled with disillusion. Both men gulped when she cocked her head and smiled sadly. “You still haven’t told me your names, you know?”
“Oh… ah,” the angular man choked. Jumping to his feet, he removed his hat and took a deep, stiff bow, “Kurt Emmet, at your service, Miss! And this here,” he gestured to Cedy, who was attempting to mimic his friend, “is Cedric Gallagher.”
Her smile brightened and her warmth returned, “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Emmet and Mr. Gallagher. Captain Levi should be done with his shopping by now, don’t you think? Shall we go find him?”
“Ah… right away, Miss!” they stuttered together.
Facing the peeved peddler, Hataru apologized, “I apologize on behalf of my friend, here. I’ll buy one of your lovely baubles to compensate for their unruly disruption.”
The merchant, too, was caught off guard by her surge of sincerity. “Of… Of course, ma’am. Take your pick.”
As graceful as the princess she was, the beautiful young woman perused the showcases lined along the counter until a certain silver compass caught her eye. “That one.” she beamed and handed the man sixteen gold coins. Head held high, Hataru exited the tent with her spirits reignited to their usual fervor. “Come on, boys, let’s go find your captain.”