“I never thanked you for that.”
“For rescuing me,” her brilliant cerulean eyes stared into his, “Thank you.”
The captain flushed, “Aw, it wasn’t that big a deal.”
“That’s not true! I am in your debt, Captain Spry.”
Levi’s tongue felt like a rock in his mouth; he couldn’t speak. Again the pair plunged into another silence, but unlike the soundlessness from before, this one came with a sensation of warmth, like a sunny field of flowers on a gentle spring day. Unfortunately, the calmness disappeared all too quickly.
SLAM! The door crashed open with the thunderous force of a typhoon, and the first mate shouted with panic, “Quick, Levi! We’re under attack!”
His features hardening, the captain uttered, “Hataru, stay here.” He drew his sword and rushed out behind Firious; in a flash of red, gold, and silver, he was gone.
~ ~ ~
Levi’s deck teemed with men. To his left, Antenor held his ground against two grimey thugs ─ one of them twice his size. To his right, Firious battled sword against musket. All across the deck, his men defended the ship from the intruders, but Levi’s responsibility was not with them; he knew what they were capable of. No, as captain, it was the his job to concern himself with their opponents’ leader, wherever he might be lurking, and take him down. Who are these people? he wondered, Aren’t those the guys I decked on Hataru’s ship? Why would they be…
Without warning, an unforeseen blow knocked Levi in the back and sent him rolling across the deck. When his vision cleared, he was pinned to the ground under the knee of a frequent visitor in his nightmares ─ a pale man with eyes as black as a star-less, night sky.
“You!” Levi growled.
“Me,” the man’s lips curled into the malicious crocodile smile that had characterized him since his childhood. Tight, black garments clothed his body, and the splattery remains of dried blood decorated the hem of his inky robe. A series of throwing knives, a black dagger, and other menacing weapons decorated his dark, leather baldric, and giant reptilian teeth studded his shoulder pads and fingerless gloves as well as his black, alligator-skin boots. The only light about the brute was his long, snow-white bangs juxtaposed against his spiky, Stygian hair.
“Kosu,” the name was acid in the captain’s mouth, “I swore I’d kill you if I ever saw your face again.”
“Oh, Captain…” the dark man sighed eerily, “we’ll see who will be killing who soon enough, but for now, I want you to return what you’ve stolen from me.”
“The princess, Captain. I know you’re hiding her, and I’ve come to take her back.”
Levi hesitated for a split second, “What princess?”
The dark man leaned down so that Levi’s face was nearly an inch away from his own sneering mug, “Who do you think?”
The captain flipped the villain overhead and jumped to his feet, but the other man’s sword was already at his throat.