19. Crustaceans and Cats (Page 2)

“Your sword would only add extra weight, and you don't need protection. This ladder is  quote end quote, ‘enchanted.’ I picked it up at a small curio shop in Habar a while back. I haven’t figured out the exact science behind it yet, but I do know that as long as you are in physical contact with the ropes and logs, as you called them, or with something else that is in contact with them, the corsairs won't be able to see you; you'll be invisible to any man or woman that is not in contact with the ladder. That’s why the Azure Conquest was able to become invisible, too. But I don’t know how long the effect will last, so we better hurry.”

“But are two people really needed for this job?”

“There’s safety in numbers, El.”

“Yeah, except when one of us falls.”

Oh please, you've always been an expert climber; you and I both know that you won't fall. Besides, you've got me, and even if you didn't, a cat always lands on her feet, right?”

“I wasn’t talking about myself! I was referring to ─ Would you stop calling me that?” she sputtered.

“Calling you what?”

“A cat!”

“Why? I gave you that nickname the day we met!”

“And don’t you think it’s getting old? I’m not a cat! There is nothing feline about me!”

“Hmmm,” he mused playfully, “physically flexible and agile, possesses a fondness for heights, often expresses herself with a nonchalant attitude, and hisses when under stress. You're right, that doesn't sound cat-like at all. What you're missing is a tail and a pair of fuzzy, pointed ears.” Frazzled, the captain shut her mouth, knowing that the more she argued the longer his teasing would continue.

Save for the occasional bird that passed by, screeching in their faces, the remainder of the duo's journey down the length of rope was rather uneventful. They arrived at the ship's base, caked over with dust and genuine crustatum caelum, with ease, and hoping their luck would last, the two quickly thrust the CGTD into place and began their ascent back up the ladder.

Her bitter grousing never ceasing, Captain Elden found a new topic to assert, “So, my prince, do tell me why you didn't think of stationing this barnacle chip on the assassin's ship when you had much better access to it on top of the mountain.”

Oh,” he chortled uneasily, “I suppose you could say I was, ah, making a new friend?”

“A new friend, eh? Knowing you, my first guess would be that it was a girl who'd caught your fancy, but what are the chances of you finding a maiden like that on top of the tallest mountain in the world, right?”

Well...” he bit his lip.

Stopping where she stood, Elden peered down at him. Seeing through the feigned innocence in the smile he offered up to her, she rolled her eyes and groaned, “You've got to be kidding me! Who is she?

Ceasing mid step, he sheepishly glance up at her, “Actually, I didn't quite catch her name.”

The End

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