Levi glanced at his metal prosthetic ─ dark gray with rounded fingertips, not nearly as lethal as the five jointed blades he had wielded on the Sky Bender. “Oh, no. You saw correctly. I have exchangeable hands,” he dug into the left pocket of his ruby-red jacket and pulled out a disembodied hand with claw-like digits, “See?”
Hataru’s expression bordered on aversion and horror; the captain quickly shoved the spare hand back into his pocket.
“I use that one while dueling, but this one,” he gestured to his current right hand, “is my regular hand that I use for my every-day tasks. It has this thin rubber coating that has great traction to help me keep my grip. Plus, I don’t have to worry about scratching anyone by accident.”
“That’s a good thing,” Hataru replied, weakly optimistic.
“Plus, this one has other uses built in, see,” the tip of his mechanical ring finger opened up like a pair of mini sliding doors and produced a phillips head screwdriver that hummed as it spun. “It can do flat head, too,” he added, and the phillips head slid back in to make way for a two-sided bit. “Each finger has a different gadget. I could, uh, show them all to you later, if you’d like.”
“Sure.” Her one word answer, lacking the smallest ounce of enthusiasm, cut the captain’s ramblings about bodiless, metal hands to a quick end.
They continued discussing other topics, though, and as the sun neared the end of its daily descent, she asked, “So, Captain Spry, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you get into this... ‘line of work’ of…”
“Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? Family business. My father married into it, taking on the family name as well, and he in turn taught it to me. What me and my men do ─ without it, this town couldn’t survive six months of the queen’s taxes.”
“Is the queen really so cruel?”
“My great-grandfather, Lebanon Spry, moved here from another country when he was a young man. Seeing how the people were being mistreated, he tried to confront the old king diplomatically, but the king had him blocked for execution for speaking out, and he barely escaped with the help of the friends he had made. The king’s daughter, Queen Hayden, now reigns over Offenpain with the same maliciousness as her father.”
“The day my great-grandfather escaped the king’s death-order, he swore that the people he had come to know and love here in Mahgnitton would not suffer like the rest of the country, and he resorted to piracy to feed the village and pay their taxes. That responsibility has been passed down to each generation since then.”
“Are you always so open about your past?”
He paused to think for a second before sprightly answering, “Pretty much!”
“Hmmm…” she mused, pondering about all the captain had said as they strode side by side behind the cart. Why does the name Lebanon Spry sound so familiar?
“What about you?” he broke through her thoughts, “I want to hear about your, as you said, humble beginnings.”
“Oh!” Hataru twisted a strand of hair around her finger, “It’s not all that interesting, really.”
“Come on,” he goaded, nudging her with the side of his arm.
“I don't talk about it... much…” she trailed off as they approached a group of men crouched around an old wooden crate, a single oil lamp offering light in the dark street, shining on their fist-culls of playing cards. “Captain, are they...?”
“What? They're just having some fun.” Each man dumped a handful of coins into a pile at the center of their makeshift table.