It had been two weeks ever since we left the harbour and Renka was on his way back to our home after finishing what he had to say even what he thought of me. Keith joined us now since he wanted to learn Captain Kenny’s special attack and had been through under a lot of training and practices under Captain’s very own supervision. As for Maria, she decided to stay with mammy and help her with all she could until her son could finally accept her solely. Somehow, Captain Kenny’s words were still echoing inside my head.
“I have no interest in any particular girl until recently,” and “How can a person who reads love stories could be so dense?”.
I couldn’t stop grinning and my heart ached, as if it would explode just about any time. My face turned ruddy every time I played the flash back of the scene. Was he being serious? But then, I couldn’t deny the fact that I was literally in love with him. If he had said ‘I love you’ back then, what would have happened to our current relationship? I didn’t have anyone to consult my feelings to and I had no idea what would the guys think when they knew this.
“What’s wrong, Eleanor? Your face looks red,” Hardy popped out of the blue and settled down beside me at the hind deck, watching the bluish-night decorated with constellation.
“Nothing! Really...” I hid my face that was reddened with embarrassment away from his eyes’ reach.
“Hmm, if I’m not mistaken, you’re thinking of someone. He has hazel eyes with caramel hair, sturdy stature, broad chest and he has a few piercing on his ears,” He finally stated.
I couldn’t deny it and my face turned redder and redder. Hardy suddenly laughed due to my reaction and finally said, “I’m sorry for my rudeness. I’ve suspected this from a long time ago.”
“This is so embarrassing,” I covered my face with both my palms.
“It’s okay. Captain turned mild nowadays. Can’t you see it?” Hardy finally said.
“Yes, I kind of realized it now,” I answered.
“Yeah and thanks to you, he finally understands something. Stealing and been stolen by each other,” He suddenly grinned.
“I don’t get what you’re trying to imply,” I tried to smile but somehow, it was kind of crooked.
“Don’t worry. You’ll understand it soon enough,” He finally got up and fled from where he stood.
I was left in bewilder that I really couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me. Suddenly, a well-known figure came up and took his place, “Can I sit here?” I nodded hastily. Suddenly, the atmosphere around us grew quite awkward as he sat.
“You better get in or you’ll catch a cold,” He reminded.
“It’s okay. Hardy is here, right? He’ll take care of me,” I replied.
“It’s not like he’s a girl,” He pouted.
“What’s wrong with that? You’re not happy that Hardy will be the one nursing me if I’m ill?” I asked in an astounding manner.
“How can I? He’s still a man and who knows what he might do,” He replied.
“Well, you’re a man yourself. But you’re not doing anything unnecessary,” I replied bluntly.
“What if I do something unnecessary?” He mocked sarcastically, having his face in front of mine.
I halted like a statue, stunned by his sudden bold act. My heart throbbed and it was literally saying, “I don’t mind if that person is you.” But then, my stupid mouth answered, “Well, impossible for a woman-hater to attack a woman especially if the woman is me.”
He then came nearer and nearer that we’re almost an inch away from each other, “Because that girl is you that I dare do anything.”
My face flushed red hot chilli pepper. Why was he being so bold out of the blue? Was he really having feelings for me? I couldn’t speak nor could I move even an inch. A cat caught my tongue if I must say. He then released me while uttering, “Why do you trust me so much? I’m a man too you know and don’t try my guts.”
Was he just doing that to mock me or to show his real ego of being a ‘real’ man? I got it! He’d never fall for a woman like me even though how much I loved him; it was just an unrealistic dream. He’d never ever fall for me!
“So, you’re doing this just to show your masculine side?” I retorted furiously.
“Why are you being so dense? I’ve told you already, haven’t I?” His eyes were catching mine.
“Enough with the word ‘dense’! Just say it already! What’s your attention?!” I finally burst.
“Nothing in particular, I’m just worried about you. Can I not be worried of my own crew?” I was expecting other thing but his answer was rather astonishing.
“My, my... I thought it was something else,” I pouted, replying him half-heartedly.
“What are you so upset about?” He raised one of his eye-brows and stared sharply into my eyes.
“Everything! I barely know you anymore. Where’s the Captain Kenny I used to know?” I blurted.
“So, you’re missing the old me? The sarcastic one who always made you cried?” He retorted, his voice sounded frail in disappointment.
“I’ve had it enough! I’m leaving and by tomorrow morning after we reached the next port, I’m not going to follow you and I’ll be staying with Chast, Keith and Penelope!” I abruptly stood up angrily without facing him.
I was about to cry but then, I caught a hold of myself and left him alone at the hind deck, heading towards my chamber. I wasn’t expecting him to say that. I was glad that he said he was worried but as one of his crew? That was really obnoxious! I thought that we might be able to share our feelings but I guess it was one-sided. There’s no way he would fall for me, not even an inch to the truth. He had always despised woman all of the kind and since I was a woman myself, he would probably despised me more since I had always getting on his nerve, getting him in troubles and all.
The next day, the sun was hiding behind the clouds, seeming that the clouds themselves were engulfing it. The breeze was very cold since we’re almost there to the north towards Ele kingdom. A few more ports and we’ll be there for sure. I was still sulking and tried to keep my distance as far as I could away from him. I was hoping that none of the crew would realize that.
“Ah, welcome. Are you guys’ sailors?” A masculine voice out of the blue greeted us with a merry tone.
“Well, yes we are,” I replied since I was the nearest person to him.
“My goodness, I’ve never seen such a beautiful lady in my entire life! You must be a goddess that descended on earth,” He hastily took my hand and kissed it.
I could feel a very intense killing aura right behind me emitted by Captain Kenny but why should I bother? Our relationship was just captain and crew.
“Sorry for my rudeness. I have forgotten to introduce myself since I have been enchanted by this beauty of yours, milady. I am known as Lucius Archmen, the prince of this peaceful land,” He bowed courteously upon us.
“It’s alright. No harm done,” I smiled reassuringly.
“May I know your name, my lady?”
“I’m El...” Before I could manage to speak my name, Captain Kenny dragged me backwards and retorted, “Her name is Ella. I am aware of your superior title but I am not at all pleased if you treat my crew with such suspicious manner.”
I was flustered by his sudden interference and had been scowled ever since, all the way towards the castle since the prince insisted us to go there when he saw me. On our way, I secretly whispered to Captain Kenny.
“Why did you lie about my name?”
“He’s a prince right? And the news that the Devil of the Sea has kept the lost princess as a hostage just to conquer the world has spread like wildfire thanks to James. We are not to reveal our identity at all especially you as the princess of Ele Kingdom,” He explained briefly.
“Why? It’s not like something bad will happen,” I replied back.
“The prince may be a good acquaintance, but the king has joined forces with James. Since that James is too ‘clever’ not to be able to give our exact properties, people might not be able to recognise us. As long as we stay like this and play it right, we’re safe. Other than us, the other crew-mates can reveal themselves easily since that the Devil’s crews remain mystery in the eyes of the world. Not even their names were known by the civilians. Unlike me and you, I am the most wanted criminal in history. I manage to hide my face from the world while you... people just know you recently. If the prince is sharp enough, he might be able to find the resemblance of the late Queen Arianette Lieselotte,” He talked as we paced.
“Well, at least they have a vague properties of you having caramel hair and good-looking. You might be mistaken as a Casanova with that face of yours,” I giggled.
“I’m in dilemma whether to accept it as a compliment or as an offence,” He sighed even though I could see that he was smiling a bit.
“Here we are...” The prince paused. “Right in front of the castle of the Lumbaria. You might be bewildered just why we’re still coping in monarchy instead of democratic like in the south, right?
“Hmm... out of date?” The crew monotonously answered in synchronically.
“Actually, the northern land prefers monarchy because our kingdom has long stood ever since the medieval age of knights and warriors before the other era took place and now, this is the era where pirates lurk everywhere. Our soldiers have caught numerous pirates from the sea and we’re ‘expecting’ the Devil’s crew to settle here,” The prince answered spontaneously.
“Do you have any idea of who are the crews?” Captain Kenny asked boldly rather sarcastic.
“I’m aware of the latest news and I was told he has the caramel hair and a very good-looking face. And please don’t worry, I won’t suspect you guys since there’s no way the heinous crews are those odd looking guys back there. They do look deadly but, they don’t look ‘evil’ enough,” The prince answered.
“But, with that solely will not lead you directly towards him,” Captain Kenny began to smirk to see that the prince was a bit naive.
“I guess you’re right. That lady over there can’t be the lost princess since the lost princess is the most sacred maiden on earth! She’s pure. She gives off the image of a goddess. She’s the love of all men and since you’re not attracted to her, which means that she’s not the princess in conclusion. The princess can win all of the men’s heart even the cold-hearted Kenneth Rogers, the Devil of the Sea. I guess maybe he’s attracted to her and is now forcing her to marry him. He must have done something dirty to make sure that the pure goddess will no longer be pure since he’s a devil,” The prince came out with such weird statements that had made the captain a bit irritated.
“I wonder if that’s really going happen...” He said in a shallow tone.
“Well, I’ll try to find him and stop him from pursuing his filthy desire! I am the most suited person to her and I know we are bounded by heart. I will make that princess my queen. We’ll rule this land together and we’ll have a happy ever after though the step-brother is kind though. Anyhow, human are devilish creature to take him down from the throne and prefer the pure princess in his stead,” His words somehow irritated me.
“Well, I’ll wish you all the best then,” Captain Kenny cheered from him.
I wondered why they both could chat casually without even a shred of doubts of suspecting each other. Captain Kenny looked as if he had plans behind it but the plan didn’t manage to work since the prince was a bit dense or he pretended to be dense to lower Captain Kenny’s guard. I wondered.
“Say, what’s your name captain and how old are you? You look younger compared to any other captains,” He suddenly asked.
“Antonio deLavigne, a westerner. I’m 24 years old,” Putting aside the name, he was telling the truth.
“Nice to meet you then, Antonio. Anyhow, regarding to my dream, I will ‘definitely’ make Princess Eleanor as my queen. I won’t hold back,” They way he pronounced it as if the appointed princess he was mentioning about was there.
“Tell me when you’ve succeeded. Her love is not my concern and she’s free to love anyone, don’t you think so?” Captain Kenny’s smile was literally a fake one.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be sure to invite you to our wedding when I succeed,” He replied back with a smile carved on his face.
I wasn’t quite sure but, their merriness was somehow deadly, as if the prince was challenging Captain Kenny into a fight. I shouldn’t lower my guard and I needed to be careful. I wondered what might be happening next.