Just like my personal guards’ uniforms, the princess thought, but she only uttered, “Oh.” Something about the captain seemed off to her. “Tell me, do you know who that frightening man was? The one with the abnormal hair? I don't ─” Hataru cut off abruptly when Levi bowed his head, a fire burning with the light of pure hatred in his eye. “Did I say something wrong?” she asked, a slight quiver in her voice.
“Kosu,” he spat out the word with a growl of verbal venom. She looked to Firious, eyes expectant, hoping for an explanation.
“Aye, lass. They call him The Black and White Assassin. Rumor has it that he killed one hundred men in one night without anyone noticing till the next morning, and I believe it! He’s a dangerous one ─ will work for anyone, kill anyone, no questions asked as long as he gets paid, and sometimes he’ll kill just for his own pleasure. Those black eyes of his are nothing compared to the darkness in his heart, but Levi could tell you better. After all, he is his─ ”
“That’s enough, Firious!” Levi burst out, and the room became deathly quiet, “Why don’t you go survey the ship? See to it that the rest of the wounded are tended to.” Silently, the first mate trudged out the door.
Neither the captain nor the girl spoke for what felt like hours. Hataru wanted to ask more about this Black and White Assassin, but Levi obviously wasn’t open on that particular subject.
Finally, he eyed her hesitantly, then burst out, “Hataru, I want an honest answer. Were you lying when you claimed not to be of royal birth?”
“When we were fighting, that cad, he… he said that you’re a princess.”
Hataru bit her lip, playing with the fringe on the comforter. She was slow to speak, “I’m not of royal birth,” she paused, “but… I am a princess.” The girl peeked warily at him through her thick eyelashes.
Doubt shrouded his brow, “Is that even possible?”
She sighed reluctantly, “I suppose I should explain.” Straightening her back, she began shakily, “My name is Hataru Orfanos-Catomerus, Princess of Trellisaina, daughter of King Issachar the Clement. Albeit, it wasn’t always so,” her voice became more assertive as she spoke. “I once lived in the port city of Habar, Marcelia with my mother, a dancer, and my father, a blacksmith. My mother fell ill, and my father lost all our money to his gambling addiction. I think he was convinced that he could win enough cash to purchase the medicine my mother needed, but he was never very good at card games.
“When her symptoms grew worse, I panicked. I… came across an abundance of wealth,” Hataru rubbed her cheek, double checking her hair was in place, “but my father squandered that away as well. My mother passed away shortly after that, and my imprudent father was arrested for failing to pay his taxes. I was forced to live on the streets. Hunger and coldness became my only friends.
“The next spring, King Issachar was traveling to visit an old friend ─ the chancellor of Habar. Apparently, he caught sight of me through the window of his automobile and to his grief-filled eyes, I resembled his recently deceased daughter, or so he tells me; I don't think I looked like her at all. He scared me half to death when he stopped the whole procession, stepped out of the coach, and walked toward me. But I had nothing to fear; he’s called Clement for reason, you know. He took compassion on me, took care of me. That day, he didn’t just take me off the streets; he adopted me into his own family, my family, giving me a mother, two brothers and two sisters, whom I all love dearly. Everything I have I owe to him.”