8. Dreams of Men and Mystery (Page 3)

“Oh, great! Now what?” the hog of a human being bellowed, while Hataru held her breath, desperately hoping that if she stared over the edge hard enough, the mask would magically return to her. It didn’t.

Ahem,” coughed a dignified voice, “I might be able to assist.” The man whirled around faster than a child’s spinning top, only to find the point of a lethal blade at his throat.

The possessor of the blade wore a royal blue, navy-style jacket that reached his knees, white knit trousers, and a pair of black leather boots that looked like they hadn’t been shined once over the last month. Tied back in a neat pony tail, his light brown hair extended a full inch past the base of his neck, and his mask was simple; no goggle-like eyepieces, just a plain white covering over his mouth and nose. The zeal in eyes, the color of melted chocolate, when he glanced at the princess might have made her blush ─ had she not been suffocating at the moment.

Cautiously, without lowering his sword, the man reached down to his belt with his left hand, unhooked an object hanging from it, and tossed it back to Hataru. Convex like a misshapen pyramid, the object perplexed the princess, but it only took her a moment to realize its purpose. Faster than a streak of lightning across a stormy sky, she slapped it to her face and gulped in the fresh air it provided; too grateful for her un-clouded vision, she didn’t even question how it stayed on her face without any straps.

“Now,” the newcomer continued, “I suggest you let the lady go, or prepare to fight.”

The pig man uttered, “Fine,” taking a step back and drawing his own sword, “let’s fight, then.”

It was easy to tell who would be the victor as their swords clashed. The filthy man swung either too fast or too slow, which proved him to be poor at both offense and defense, while the other man was a master of both. Tripping, falling, and tumbling to the ground became a habit of the former. Unfortunately, the one thing the man was good at was perseverance; he just couldn’t see that he was incapable of winning. The amateur jabbed and stabbed at the royal navy man, attempting to perform complex sword play moves without any luck, as the other just pivoted or jumped out of the way. It was only a game to him, a game that he knew very well, as if he had written the rulebook himself.

Circling each other, one man grinned behind his mask, and the other folded his face into such a scowl that one might wonder if he would ever be able to unfold it again. As if on cue, both men stopped; the better fighter stood at the edge of the cliff and the had his back against the mountain wall. This was it. This last stand would determine the winner and loser of this battle, and the odds were in favor of the bluejacket.

“Just walk away, sir,” he spoke calmly. “You can’t win. Let the girl go.”

In a fury, the boar-masked man charged, aiming for the navy man’s chest, but with the flexibility of a leaf on the wind, the blue-clad gentleman sidestepped out of the way. Screaming horribly, the assassin’s crewman flew off the side of the cliff.

The bluejacket sighed contritely, shaking his head, “He should have listened.” Dusting off his trousers, he approached Hataru and gazed at her mask-covered face, “Are you alright, ma’am?”

The End

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