A Compromise (Part 1)

“So, you're telling me,” Tarin crossed his arms, staring at the pirate captain across the table through skeptic, squinted eyes, “that the crazy assassin I've been hunting is attempting to conduct some sort of prophetic spell ─ of an unknown, but suspectedly catastrophic purpose ─ which involves both my ancestors' dagger and a magic flute that just so happens to be in my uncle's possession.” He gestured to a stately white, four story building across the street from the where they all sat sipping tea in the cool shade of an open café veranda ─ the perfect hiding place; no one would expect to find them so close to the Chancellor's mansion.

“That's right.” Levi's lone-eye glare made the prince uncomfortable, but he maintained his firm stature.

“And you want me to help you steal it? Why would I do that? Why should I even believe you? You're a pirate! A wanted criminal! I should be turning you in!”

“Please, Your Highness, let me─” Hataru tried to intervene, but Tarin pushed on.

“For all I know, you could be in cahoots with the assassin, trying to pull off the greatest con of the century by making a mockery of me and my family name!”

“No, he's not like─”

“For all you know?” Levi boomed, clenching his fists, “For all you know? You know nothing! I shouldn't be surprised, though; it is just like a monarch to jump to self-centered assumptions! To judge and condemn without seeking the truth! Rather, you blind yourself to it, choosing to see only what you want.”

The prince faltered, “That's not true.”

“Isn't it? You hold yourself too highly. I care nothing for you or your family name. My only aim is to bring the assassin to justice.”

“You said all he took from you was a book. Why should it matter so greatly?” Deep trenches of confusion ran across Tarin’s brow.

“That man has taken more than a journal from me,” Levi's demeanor clouded over like a stormy ocean of dark and deadly, churning waves, hungerly waiting to swallow their victim and drown him in sorrow and pain. “The Black and White Assassin murdered my father.”

           The blunt statement pierced everyone’s hearts, hurting those who had known the dead pirate the most. Kurt and Cedric eyed each other warily, old regrets resurfacing. Antenor closed his eyes, pursing his lips in a distressed grimace, and Firious took on the appearance of a hound who had lost his master. Levi himself stared at his empty tea cup with such intense hatred that Tarin half expected it to burst into flames. No one spoke, and no one moved as overwhelming grief continued to storm around the table, invisible droplets of liquid despair soaking each man and woman to the bone, one shiver at a time.

The End

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