27. Blazing Bibelots (Part 3)

While the old friends continued to banter, Captain Levi covertly whispered into the ear of his eldest advisor, “Antenor, it seems the prince is still searching for his dagger, which means he must have followed the assassin here, and you and I both know that he wouldn’t be here unless he had reason to be.”

“You think this might be the location of another item on the list? Here, in Habar?”

“I do. Go find out what the clerk might know about anything useful.”

“Right away, sir.”

As Antenor promptly began a casual conversation with the clerk, the silver-haired captain joined his crew in meandering among the knickknacks. He scrutinized each curio with suspicious caution, his muscles tense with the expectation of the unexpected. At any moment, The Black and White Assassin could make an appearance, and Levi didn't want to be caught of guard.

"Are you alright?" a gentle hand tapped his shoulder, and he jolted.

"Princess," the pirate sighed, his adrenaline diminishing. "Yes, yes, I'm fine. Just,” he scratched his the nape of his neck, “antsy, is all."

Her lips stretched into a bemused, but sympathetic arch, "Did the dancing shake you up that much?”

“Ha, no that’s not it… but, hey, where did you learn to dance like that, anyway? You were phenomenal.”

“Mmmm…” she hummed, the sound of a reminiscent mind at work, “My mother was a dancer, one of the best, actually. She taught me the basics herself, and I continued taking lessons during my my schooling. It’s my way of remembering her, you know, to keep her close.” The princess grabbed a strange egg-shaped contraption composed of gears and coils from a table and inspected it with mild interest before setting it down again.

“Yeah,” he snatched the gadget back up and began to tinker with its pieces.

“You weren’t too bad of a dancer yourself, you know.” Hataru peeked at the pirate through her peripheral vision.

“That, my fair lady,” he chortled, his focus on the object, “is only because you’re such an easy partner to dance with.”

“Hmm… yes, that must be it. Though, I think you were doing just fine without me.”

“But not nearly as well with you.” He snapped the last gear into place, and placed the gizmo back on the table. Twisting a small key protruding from the top of the metal egg, he whispered enthusiastically, “Here, watch this.”As if alive, the egg, no bigger than the captain’s fist, vibrated and unfurled itself like a flower, revealing a mechanical swan that waddled about the table's surface.

The End

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