After thirteen minutes of weaving in and out of the masses of festival-goers, the princess’ worries began creeping up her back like a horde of giant, hairy arachnids. “Where could he be hiding?” she mumbled as she craned her neck to peer around a man cavorting through the crowd atop a pair of brilliant blue stilts.
“Finding a man with long, silver hair, one golden eye, and one metal claw is a lot harder than it looks,” Kurt explained, “isn't it, Cedy? Do you remember the time we all went searching for him in that dark forest?”
“As if I could forget! That was one of the most frightening days of my life. And then when we found him... and all the blood... oh, I can't even imagine what his father was feeling…”
“If we had only caught that darn bear! I would've skinned its hide and used it as a throw rug, and then, when it got dirty from everyone wiping their muddy shoes on it, we could’ve all had a field day beating the dust out of it with a stick!”
“Nah... seeing that thing would have scared the young captain half to death!”
“What would have scared me?” a familiar voice interjected from behind. There he stood with all the glory of the dawn, the morning sun kissing his moonlight hair like a lover’s embrace, the phenomenal Captain Levi Spry.
“Oh!” the spindly man jumped, “Nothing at all, Captain! Nothing at all!”
Without missing a beat, his trademark smirk of mischief spreading across his face, Levi cocked back his head, “So where are the four of you off to?”
“Looking for you, Captain,” Antenor reported.
“Well, you’ve found me!” he laughed, “Firious wanted to check over a few more items, so I let him be. You know how he gets. Mind if I join your little party?”
“Of course not, Captain. We’ve just been meandering about, seeing the sights.”
“Sounds exciting!” Together, the group moved onward, navigating the crowded street as if they were explorers seeking the treasures of a new world. Minutes turned into hours as they passed fountain pens filled with squid ink, two-headed snake skeletons, and mechanical pet parrots among many other interesting artifacts.
While the others inspected a barrel of exotic jumping beans with fascination, Captain Levi took the chance to cautiously approach the princess as she sorted through a variety of silk handkerchiefs. He bit his lip, wondering if she would shy away from him again, as she had been doing for the past week. “Ah... Hi, Hataru” he chirped, his voice an octave higher than usual.
“Hello, Levi.” Her radiant smile held the splendor of the sun, desiccating the tears of dismal storm clouds.