They each stared the other down with a reserved, yet quizzical look, and for a brief moment, they understood one another to be radicals of their own typecasts ─ a prince who wasn’t subject to the mold of materialism and a pirate who was accustomed to selflessness. But then, having eluded the other three Marcelian guards, all of the others joined their company, bursting the fragile bubble of reception they had formed. All of the others, except for two.
“Where is Hataru?” Levi frantically spun around, hoping to catch sight of her with his one eye.
Tarin joined in his panicstricken hunt, calling out, “Elden? Where are you?” All around them, the celebration continued, and those who had gathered to watch their little escapade quickly dispersed. Thousands of faces passed them by, but not one of them belonged to either of their missing groupmates.
The captain sent a jabbing finger into the prince’s chest. “You, you were supposed to be watching them!”
“Levi, this is not the time to start arguing,” Antenor tried to interject.
“I don’t recall that ever being agreed upon! Why weren’t you watching them?”
“I was too busy watching you!”
“Knock it off, you buck-headed coxcombs!”
“Oh, that’s really helping, Firious. Do go on.”
“Shut it, Antenor, I─”
“BOYS!” a patronizing voice rang out across the street as loud as a gunshot, interrupting their little donnybrook. They all turned. Her brown hair flittering in the wind, Hataru stood beside the red-headed captain at a nearby pedaler’s booth. “I thought we were trying to desist from attracting attention and getting caught. I think it is due time for a change in approach, as well as in attire.” She gestured to the festive garb at the booth.
Sifting through the assorted garments, Elden remarked, “Camouflage... good thinking. We can blend in with the rest of the crowd and hide in plain sight.”