Chapter 1: Prologue: The Voyage to Another World
Prologue: The Voyage to Another World
From the Notes of Dr. J. H. Watson, M.D.
My erstwhile friend, the detective Sherlock Holmes, has once remarked that life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. At the time, it was before a seemingly complicated case with a simple ending, that is, the events as chronicled under A Case of Identity. Nevertheless, the accounts written here are such that I dare not ever release them for public reading, save perhaps as the most florid of fictions, and only then under great censoring.
It is not an empty worry; the notions Holmes and I encountered within the case of Luffy D. Monkey and his eccentric crew are such that they can never be released to the public lest we are carted to Bedlam. Even so, perhaps, Holmes shall forgive this old friend of his for keeping records of events completely defiant of normal logic which he would wish rather remain buried within the sands of time. Well, they remain buried within my strong-box in the vaults of Cox & Co. and perhaps, when some far-flung descendant of mine should see fit to claim this inheritance, then the events of the cases of 1889 that Mrs Watson never knew happened shall come to light.
It is difficult to piece together the exact sequence of events, and it would have proved an even greater task for me if not for the assistance of Miss Robin Nico, who left her translated handwritten notes of our adventure with the Thousand Sunny behind upon that amazing ship's voyage out of this world, that I was able to write up my case notes at all. No, I do not know what to call these... they cannot be mere case notes. They are certainly not chronicles, neither are they stories, nor are they literary work, for the events, however outlandish, certainly did happen despite my friend's insistence.
I shall therefore call it, as I believe that admirable boy captain of the pirate ship, the Thousand Sunny, would say. It is... an adventure.
The log of the pirate ship, the Thousand Sunny. Written by Nico Robin, archaeologist. 1524 AOS.
Our captain, despite his considerable instinct and voracious appetite, does not like to write. On the few occasions where the distributions of shifts end up with him writing our log, a few pages would needlessly be sacrificed towards artistically depicting our adventures in crayon. Though they do add some much-needed colour, as he so claims, I would submit that crayon is not a good medium to depict our adventures for posterity in a dignified manner.
The onus of actually writing in the log therefore falls to anyone save the captain, the doctor -who is incapable of holding a pen between his hooves for any length of time to write legibly for long periods, and also given to the same tendencies towards artistic depictions- and the shipwright -who finds it a boring endeavour when he could be improving upon the vessel. The swordsman writes the least, and when he does it hardly befits the grand adventure that actually happened to be broken down into the most sterile of details. Our sniper spins a good story, if not given in long spiels towards the praise of oneself. Our newest musician declines to write, on the excuse of potential rheumatism- very likely given the condition of the man in question. The cook would do anything if asked by a lady, but his writings are often dotted with the ashes of his cigarettes. Hence, more often than not, the log is overseen either by Nami Chan or yours truly.
Ah, I have prattled on long enough, I suppose.
The Thousand Sunny had just left the floating island of Thriller Bark, having successfully defeated the island masters, led by the Shichibukai Gecko Moria. We sailed peacefully, or as peacefully as one can find for any ship in this stretch of ocean, this great sea route of the world, the Grand Line.
Our casualties were quite bad, I grant, culminating in the loss of consciousness of our swordsman, but, as the quote goes, you should see the other fellow. I doubt Gecko Moria would actually live this down, being beaten by a rookie pirate.
The skies darken as I write this. Five years I have been on the Grand Line, perhaps nearly a year since I had followed the Straw Hat Pirates, a few weeks past having been rescued by them from the World Government already, and the unpredictable weather of the Grand Line never ceases to awe. We, as in the entire crew, rushes to secure the sails and ready themselves for a storm per our navigator's instructions.
Myself, the doctor and our excitable captain, as well as the laughing skeleton that is the crew's musician, we are secured to the hull to prevent us falling over the seas during a storm. It is part of the curse we bear as users of Devil Fruits, yet that does not stop the rest of the crew from this kind safety gesture. The storm must indeed be heavy; it is the first time any safety procedure is instituted on the Thousand Sunny in my memory.
Thunder sounded as lightning flashed across the darkened skies as we braced ourselves for the oncoming storms, and that was when we heard it. The laughter. The cackling. The sound, like leave rustling in the wind, distinct even as waves crashed upon the Sunny's hull and winds howled and the rigging tangled in the sails and our shipwright began to complain about the state the Sunny would be in once the storm finished. Needless to say, our captain ordered Brook, our musician, to begin playing as he broke out into song. It is an altogether new experience to wait out a storm on deck to the off-key yet happy strains of Binks' Sake, that is, until most of the crew yelled at him to be quiet.
I believe their exact words to be 'pipe down', followed by some random threat flung at the captain where he shall grin at us all and continue singing. What it was exactly I shall never know, for then the mists the Florian triangle is so known for rolled in, and there was complete blackness to greet our eyes before there was a lurching feeling, and the ropes securing us snapped.
The feeling of falling was the last thing I knew, before I landed in something with great impact and lost all consciousness.
Chapter 2: I: Luffy D. Monkey
I: Luffy D. Monkey
From the Notes of Dr J. H. Watson, dated June 1889
It was a cool summer of 1889 that the case of the Thousand Sunny happened to my erstwhile friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes. I was not present at its inception, having been occupied with my practice in the wake of the usual rounds of summer colds that went around every year ad thus rendering your humble doctor in London instead of accompanying the missus to Hampshire on a familial visit. The oath I swore before a plethora of defunct deities in university continues to hold fast.
It was upon an hour prior to the closing of my practice, that the doorbell rang, and I opened the door to see, to my very great surprise, the ferrety face of Inspector Lestrade, of the London Metropolitan Police.
"Doctor Watson, do you have time to spare?" Lestrade was on edge, I could tell. "Please, say that you have time to spare! A man has died in police custody!"
I do not know the usual reaction for such, but I do believe that it was only decent to follow. I therefore closed my practice ahead of schedule, took the bag containing the tools of my trade, and followed Lestrade on the police coach awaiting me. Barely have I stepped in that I beheld the familiar sight of my old friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes.
"Holmes!" I cried out. "Why, I thought you would be here."
"The man who was supposedly dead, as Lestrade claims but I do not believe, is the sole witness in the case I am currently investigating." Grey eyes twinkled at he as he spoke. "Indeed, he has only recently agreed for a doctor to see to him, all the time having barred in the Bow Street cells."
"I highly doubt that Scotland Yard would refuse treatment to a witness," I observed.
"They did not," my friend agreed. "Apparently, the man barricaded himself into a cell and refused any and all contact, save for food, and lots of it. I am of the mind that he is plotting something with the chicken had I not seen the remains of the carcass myself. Besides his contact for meals in such a fashion, and despite the cell's nature being that of a shared one, what few prisoners we have managed to rescue refused any and all description of him, save that he of a masterful disposition. It was only my being made aware of his injuries and after much persuasion on Lestrade's did he agree to see a doctor, and even then only a trustworthy one. Naturally I thought of you. Anyone may be trusted to tend to cuts, but never have you failed me, Watson."
I nodded, touched by this gesture of faith. "Why on earth would a prisoner barricade himself in a prison, anyway?"
"Constable Ross arrested him on charges of eating in a restaurant without paying," Lestrade reported. "The usual treatment such people get is a night in the cells, but the man had taken a shine to the food, or it's the only place where food is freely available to him, I don't know which, for he has planted himself there. The Bow Street cells are thus infected with a veritable black hole with a taste towards meat of any persuasion. I once made the mistake of giving him half my lunch pie out of sympathy, and needless to say I went hungry that day. I would go as far as to say that the man is insane, such that he cannot give his own name when asked."
"But why have you allowed him to remain in the cells?" my friend pointed out. "I have not seen him myself, but I own that even with height and girth, there is no way a lone man could stand up to Yarders armed with truncheons and fists to manhandle him out."
"Every Yarder that went in was quickly sent flying out." Lestrade honest,y answered. "We originally transferred him in from the Tower Hill cells, so perhaps he might have taken a shine to the food of Bow Street."
"There is nothing we can do now save for speculation," my friend pointed out. "Let us turn our minds to other things. Lestrade, I see you and the missus are expecting a new addition to the household."
The inspector glanced at my friend, askance, before we passed the trip in relative silence and finally stopped at the Bow Street cells, where the sad Mr Neville St Clair has oncekspent up to a week. We were led past a passage, a barred door, down a winding stair, and then to a line of whitewashed corridor with a line of doors on each side. One particular door bore a pair of constables as guards, with the most awful moaning sounds known to man being sounded behind the wood. Judging from the pained expressions from either men, they knew perfectly well how awful the sound was.
"It sounds like a foghorn," I remarked as I slowly approached the door. "Are you sure it's not a whale behind that?"
"Quite," Lestrade was already jingling the keys in his rush to unlock and unbolt the cell door. "Mr Holmes, regulations state that only one visitor at a time is allowed in."
The door swung open, the foghorn moaning growing ever louder as I tentatively stepped inside, guided by a lamp borrowed from one of the constables.
The man was... not what I had expected. When Lestrade had been regaling my friend and I concerning the sole witness of some murders along the Spitalfields market. As to why... apparently, he was attracted by the smell of meat. I forbore asking, knowing that the specimen in question would be before my eyes then.
He was young, that was my first impression. There was a small scar, stitched up along the left cheek below the eye that scabbed over with the impression of age and permanency. His eyes were wide, round, and seemingly innocent, and he was looking at me with the hungry look I suppose a predator gave prey before it swallowed them in a single bite. There was drool pooling from one corner of his mouth, despite that he was clearly civilised, if the relatively clean clothing and the beat-up straw boater perched atop a head of dark unruly hair was any indication.
"You don't have food," he pouted at me. "I'm hungry."
I stared. "You... didn't need a doctor?"
"You're a doctor?" a gleam came into his eyes. "Wow, you're just like Chopper! Except that Chopper's a reindeer, and you're human, anyway, so, who are you? I'm Monkey D. Luffy, and I'm gonna be the Pirate King! Call me Luffy!"
There are a few occasions in one's life where the ability of speech flees oneself and one finds themselves incapable of replying. This is one of those times.
"...a pleasure to meet you, Mr Luffy," I decided to adhere to the safe haven of formality. "I am Doctor John Watson. Is your first name really Monkey?"
"No, it's Luffy," the boy replied, and I say boy, because despite his apparent age of ten and seven I could distinctly sense the mind of a child under that adult mask. "Monkey's my family name. 'Cept Ace doesn't really use it 'cause we have different parents, but we're brothers anyway, and no one calls Grampa by his family name 'cause-"
I held up a hand to stem the flow of chatter. "My family name is Watson. Where we are, it is custom to put the family name behind the first name."
"Really? You guys are funny."
I did not respond to that. "In that case, did you hear the unholy sound-"
It sounded again, but this time with the source of the sound completely apparent. I am happy to report that I walked out completely unharmed and with my diagnosis.
"He's suffering from hunger," I told a dumbstruck Lestrade. "Feed him and he'll be alright. That ghastly sound was his stomach at work."
I have once mentioned in the story entitled A Study in Scarlet that Lestrade resembled a ferret. With that in mind, I ask you now to picture a ferret with an absolutely dumbstruck expression bordering on incredulity. That was the expression Lestrade favoured me then.
"Well, now that we've established that our witness is merely hungry, I shall continue to question him," Holmes huffed at me, clearly miffed by being impeded by human appetite.
A red blur shot out of there as soon as Holmes took so much as a step in, knocking the Great Detective over as Mr Luffy grabbed onto the nearest thing, that is, yours truly, and held on for dear life. Mr Luffy was indeed appropriately named, if his grip was any indication; I had felt no worse grip in my entire life than the iron clamp currently on my wrist and waist. Mr Luffy himself hung from me as if I were a human tree, and if not for the fact that he was grabbing onto my right arm I am quite sure that my shoulder would be hurting from the strain of his weight.
"Food!" He shouted as a constable bearing a pile of pies entered. There followed a few moments of confusion where he tackled the inspector and proceeded to down what must be lunch for half the constables on duty with great voraciousness and enthusiasm.
Holmes drew himself up, looking at Mr Luffy. "Well, then, I would be ever so obliged if you were to give me your name."
Mr Luffy paused, cheeks stuffed, to stare at Holmes. "You talk funny, Hawk Eyes," he replied, cheeks still full, and proceeded to stuff himself to the gills with food.
Holmes twitched. He would continue to do so throughout the whole adventure, and any and all subsequent mentions, of this unique individual, Monkey D. Luffy, the man with the name of D.
"So, can I have a ginger biscuit? Sanji makes them nice, but they're not lemony, not like the old lady's biscuits. These are good, I gotta ask Sanji to make some. Say, hawk Eyes, did you see Zoro around? I can't find him at all, but he's always lost, so that no problem, he'll be fine, he's strong. I'll worry about Nami, Usopp and Chopper instead, I think. Robin will find a book, Franky can take care of himself, and Brook... huh, Brook-"
I stared at the chattering boy, Luffy, as he absently bounced around the sitting room of 221B Baker Street, NW1, 6XE. Sherlock Holmes followed his path from the settee, to the coffee table, to the mantelpiece, to the shelves, to the floor, back to the coffee table. It is amazing. I believe it the first time I have ever seen Sherlock Holmes at a complete loss of words. Even with the payment of five pounds as bail money, Holmes was hardly in any mind to complain about that. Myself, I am in no mind as to enquire into Mr Luffy's circumstances if not for Luffy himself being of the chattering sort.
"Brook's a skeleton! Wi4h an afro! And a suit! And he goes 'Yohohoho!'" Luffy cheered. "And Ferret Face is a meanie who broke his promise! He promised me food if I kept quiet and went with you guys! I'm hungry!"
"We'll give you more food if you answer a few questions," Holmes finally broke out from his stupor to begin drilling Mr Luffy.
Mr Luffy perked up almost immediately. "Really? Ask away!"
I am reminded of the BakerkStreet Irregulars myself, in seeing this young man grinning at Holmes in that disturbingly macabrely cheerful fashion.
"Who are you?" Holmes began on a more tactful opening.
"I'm Monkey D. Luffy, and I'm a pirate!" Luffy cheered.
Holmes took that answer far better and more stoically than I though he would. "Indeed? Where were you last night?"
"On the mystery port. But it didn't have meat, so I went to town, and I got lost," the boy pouted. "Oh, yeah, everyone! I gotta find everyone!" he then jumped to his feet, not unlike his namesake.
Holmes looked alarmed, and even I could comprehend that our witness was about to make a break for it. "Stop!"
"I don't like you, Hawk Eyes!" the boy, Luffy, stuck his tongue out rather childishly at Holmes as he made for the window. "Bye, Hawk Eyes, bye, nice uncle doctor!"
Holmes made a move to tackle him, but Luffy demonstrated exceptional agility as he danced away from Holmes and towards the window. His hands latched on the window ledge, and for a moment I considered that he might jump from the second storey up.
Luffy stepped back, and back, and-
Oh gods above.
I could scarcely believe my eyes, and I am sure Holmes could not either, as the arms began to stretch like so much Taffy, the boy grunting as he threw all his weight into stretching his arms the length of half the sitting room... almost like a slingshot.
"Watson! If he escapes we'll lose our only lead on the case!" Holmes bellowed in that masterful way of his.
"You won't keep me from my comrades!" Luffy bellowed back, and I saw him just about to leap into the air... and about to slingshot himself out of the window?
At least, that is what I believed he would do if given the chance. I grabbed the nearby plate of afternoon scones left behind by Mrs Hudson during her endeavours to make her currently only lodger eat something more substantial, piled high with clotted cream and marmalade, and waved it at his direction. "Food!"
It had the desired effect. The boy let go of the ledge, which snapped back into their proper position and also decked him in the head with enough force to flip him over ad land him on the settee. Holmes took the opportunity to lock the window, and secure the door as I dropped the plate of scones into Luffy's lap and busied myself with pouring a cup of the refreshing leaf. It was only when three cups of tea had been poured, and I was facing the bottom of an empty teapot, that the true import of what I had just seen made its impact upon my mind.
"I say, Watson," Holmes murmured. "Good Lord. Mr Luffy... who are you?"
Luffy paused midway through the plate of fruit scones, cheeks still full. Undeterred, the boy grabbed both of his cheeks, stretched them far beyond the capacity of any human being, and snapped them back into their original shape instead of their chipmunk impression. "Oh, I ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi! I'm a rubber man!"
It was quickly apparent that Mr Luffy cared not for my friend, and my friend not for him either, which was how yours truly came to be asking the questions pertinent to the investigation as Mr Luffy plied himself with scones and other comestibles of Mrs Hudson's generous afternoon tea.
"I'm going to ask you a series of questions," I began soothingly.
"If I answer, will you let me go?" he chewed on a scone as he spoke, before taking a gulp of hot chocolate that Mrs Hudson, bless her soul, had thoughtfully provided.
"I do not see the faulty reasoning behind that," I conceded once Holmes's glare towards me was made apparent. "let us begin with something else, Mr Luffy. How old are you?"
"… Seventeen." I was right; he was little more than a child.
"Where are you from?" he was certainly not a local of the East End; children who grew up in backgrounds like that of the irregulars tended to seem less... innocent.
"Fuchsia Village." he promptly replied.
"Where is that?" I wondered if such a village even existed in Her Majesty's Empire. Given the sheer size of it, perhaps so.
"The East Blue." he answered nonchalantly.
"Don't be ridiculous, boy," Holmes scoffed from his place. "There's no such place."
"Not in this world, there is not," I agreed with my friend cautiously. "I have never heard of any place called the East Blue."
"People in the Grand Line sure are weird," Luffy nodded, almost to himself as he continued to swallow a plate of watercress sandwiches.
"...my dear," I began slowly. "Where do you believe you are currently?"
"One of the Grand Line mystery islands," he promptly answered, masticating on the last sandwich thoughtfully. "Can I go find everyone now?"
I paused for a long moment. He certainly showed no signs of lying, as far as my own untrained eye could tell. The boy seemed completely fearless, if a tad suspicious of Holmes and his stare. Of course, there was that one other thing I had noticed since meeting the boy. He had a way about him, a way seen only in men who had fought for their lives and seen battle. The haunted eyes that stare across to every war veteran who had ever fought in battle. He was a fighter, without the discipline of a soldier either. And he must be completely lost, to be in the centre of the Empire and not recognise it.
Holmes obviously shared my opinion, as he voiced the next question. "Your crew? Can you tell me about them?"
It was obvious that the crew was a subject after his own heart, for Luffy began to grow very excited indeed. "Well, there's Zoro, he's the swordsman. Nami's our navigator. Then Usopp, he's our sniper, but he lies a lot too and tells awesome stories. And Sanji! He's our cook! He's the best cook in the world! Then Chopper's our doctor and emergency food supply! And then Robin. She's our arc-loigous… alougu-us… arc…"
He paused for a moment before shaking his head with a grin. "She likes old stuff!" he stated nodding to himself. "Franky's our shipwright and cyborg, he's cool and he's a pervert! Then Brook's our musician! He's a walking talking skeleton who plays any instrument, and he's got an afro! Oh, and he always asks women if he can see their panties. Is that all? Yep, yap."
I had stopped taking notes at about the time Luffy trashed the word 'archaeologist' and had reverted to staring at the boy, my jaw possibly dropping to the floor. "And your position?" I remembered to ask, albeit faintly.
He actually looked offended, as if the answer was so obvious. "Captain, of course."
Very slowly, I turned to meet my friend's equally incredulous expression. We both rose from our chairs, out of the sitting room, locking the still-masticating Luffy in, before Holmes turned to me.
"Watson," my friend sighed once he had recovered from the shock of seeing a man that, to all appearances and purposes, was made completely of rubber and, apparently, either from Bedlam or from the completely improbable option. "I remember saying the maxim that once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
"Indeed, I remember," I nodded.
"He does not seem to be lying," my friend continued. "When he claimed to be from Fuchsia Village in East Blue, or thinking that he was in the Grand Line, wherever that place must be, he truly and completely believed so. I do not think him insane, Watson; he seems remarkably in control of his own faculties, too much to be considered insane, despite believing that he is a pirate."
"He doesn't look like one," I shook my head. "Surely he is merely a boy from the East End."
Holmes gave me a look. "Watson, I have prided myself on being capable of identifying a man's birthplace. Despite his rather rough tone, Mr Luffy speaks with remarkably good diction and a slight command of grammar, if not vocabulary, which shows some form of education not readily available to the children of the East End. Also note the strange accent, which though diminished is enough to identify him as not being English, or Cockney, or Jewish, or indeed any of the nationalities I am well acquainted with."
I took a deep breath. "It is unbelievable, it is, I tell you."
"He is not a suspect, but the fact remains that he was indeed, caught at the scene of the crime, and may be a possible witness," Holmes pointed out. "Either way, it shall be quite a complicated case, I believe. Boys with stretching arms and speaking of far-flung places and questionable sanity notwithstanding. Leave me, Watson, and entertain our guest; he certainly tolerates your presence far better than mine. I shall be mulling over this with my pipe in hand."
I entered the sittingk room in time to procure the last of the plain scones with marmalade and a fresh teapot barely touched by Luffy. His black eyes never wavered from my plate of scones even as I chewed thoughtfully and I do believe that f given the chance, he would steal them all from me in a heartbeat.
"So you're a pirate?" I began, putting aside a scone to push towards him.
The unfortunate pastry disappeared down the bottomless gullet the moment the scone even made normal reaching distance. "Yep! I'm on an adventure! I'm gonna find One Piece!"
"Why? Why not something else?" I wondered.
"Beca5se it's my dream. And I made a promise." Luffy simply replied, though he did reach up to his hat. The straw boater clearly carried some not-insignificant sentimental value to him.
"And your crew feels the same?" I prompted.
"Nope. We all got our dreams. But then there was a storm and the next thing I knew, I'm on a mystery island with no one around."
"You lost them in a storm?" I blinked. "I'm... sorry for your loss?"
"They're all okay, because they're my crew." Luffy grinned with the optimism of one with the utmost faith. "None of us are going to die until we get our dreams. Until we find the One Piece."
"One Piece?" I questioned, raising a brow.
"Man you are the funniest guys." Luffy chuckled, still eyeing my scones. "You don't know about the One Piece? Everyone knows about that. Gold Rodger's treasure at the end of the Grand Line. I'm going to find it and become King of the Pirates for sure." he stated confidently. "What's your dream?"
I blinked. "...to be a doctor?"
"Good for you!" Luffy cheered. "Let's celebrate! Pirates celebrate by dancing and music and food! I'll begin! Yohohoho, yohohoho~!"
I held up a hand to prevent the onslaught of what promised to be a music-hall tune belted out in the loudest possible off-key tune to be heard all the way to Regent's Street. "Enough. So, how did you end up with Inspector Lestrade?"
"Hmm?" Luffy looked at me, and I realised that he was still eyeing my scones. Another one was sacrificed to the good cause. "Oh, Ferret Face! Yeah, I was running after beating up some guys who tried to beat me up, and they looked nasty, and then one of them fell, and he was cut open and I ran some more and I got hungry and lost and found myself arriving at the same time when a large man in black with a funny helmet came and yelled at me and tried to beat me up, but then Ferret Face stepped in and began spouting about some rights or whatnot and I got hungry and wanted something to eat and then Ferret Face said that he'll feed me if I came with him." he fell silent as he bit down on the pastry. "He didn't keep his promise," the boy pouted.
"He technically did," I offered consolingly. "There is only so much food that one can offer to a prisoner in one sitting, you know. Was your prison not shared?"
"Oh, the other guys," Luffy snorted, beginning to dig into his nasal orifice -before a stranger, at that!- with a finger. "They were weak, so they went hungry, right? I think I left food for them."
I decided not to dignify that with a response.
"It appears that we require more data," Holmes finally appeared, the rank smell of tobacco hanging around him like some smog. "I am afraid, Mr Luffy, that until we have found someone willing to corroborate your story, you shall have to remain with us."
"You talk funny, Hawk Eyes," Luffy bluntly retorted. "You're like Old Smokey, he's always frowning. Well, when he's not chasing us or anything."
A cloud of smoke billowed from the bowl of the pipe as Holmes turned a remarkable shade of red, and I felt a sudden pang of sympathy for this Old Smokey, whoever he was.
"Yep, just like Smokey," Luffy chuckled. "Oi, nice uncle doctor, can I have more?"
"I'll see what I can do?" I helpfully offered.
"It is clear now," Holmes concluded upon the end of dinner, half of which was actually Luffy's work. "However, we require more corroboration on the part of Captain Luffy here."
"So, we gotta find my crew anyway?" Luffy blinked. "Awesome!"
"Considering the interesting tale that you have provided concerning your crew, I have determined that the person most actively seeking us would be your archaeologist, the woman named Robin," Holmes clarified.
Luffy turned solemn. "But, Robin's smart at hiding. You think she'll be able to find us?"
"I expect, that Miss Robin would be actively seeking us out," Holmes noted. "What better way than to search at a place of her interest? The ancient world is being exhibited in South Kensington, after all."
So began our plan to find one of the elusive crew of Monkey D. Luffy.
Chapter 3: The Woman to Match All of Them
II: The Woman to Match All of Them
The British Museum of Natural History was set in South Kensington. Despite being one of the most civilised -not to mention expensive- parts of the City of London, the stately building lay sprawled open for any gentleman to appreciate its treasures of the ancient world. Relics of the British Empire in its heyday during the middle of the Queen's reign lay about on open display, and any thief after these treasures of cultural significance would indeed be a very foolish thief; the 'treasures' in question rather equalled the weight of a statue of Michaelangelo, I would warrant.
Holmes was looking rather green at the moment, and frankly, I rather shared his sentiments as our charge waltzed clumsily without regard for the roomful of irreplaceable cultural treasures that would cost even Holmes an astronomical sum despite the recovering state of his pocketbook to even repay.
"In theory it seemed a good idea, Watson, in practice less so," Holmes observed, amidst the titters of scandalised ladies watching Luffy swing from the chandelier-
I looked up. "Oh gods."
Holmes followed me. "How did he get up there?"
Luffy landed on his feet on the marble flooring at the same time the museum guard rushed in, and a fistfight began between the rubber boy and the burly museum guard. Small wonder as to who was winning, if my assessment of his fighting prowess was true.
"Watch out!" I yelled at him, hiding behind pillars to escape the volley of flying bodies. The boy really was stronger than either of us thought.
"You'd think that the woman would turn up about now," Holmes remarked as the boy flew to land beside us, still grinning.
"Oi, Robin!" Luffy began to yell and generally make a spectacle of himself right beside us. "Where are you?"
"I don't know him, I don't know him," Holmes resolutely muttered.
I took this as my cue to drag the boy by the scruff of his neck towards the entrance, Holmes following along behind me with great hesitation as he kept looking behind him once we strolled down the courtyard and hailed a hansom.
"We're being followed," Holmes murmured once the hyperactive bundle of rubber was ensconced inside, a not-difficult feat considering how much Luffy seemed to dislike the London summer breeze. "I can't see by who, though."
"The great Sherlock Holmes can't track a tail?" I joked, giving Holmes a look with he returned with great annoyance.
"It's like we're being watched and heard in different directions," Holmes muttered before hollering to the driver. "221 Baker Street."
Luffy gave me a curious look before settling to bounce on the upholstery opposite us. "Say, uncle doctor, why d'you stick with Hawk Eyes?"
"Why ever would I not?" I played along.
"He's a cold fish," Luffy ignored Holmes spluttering indignant cry of 'I'm right here!' to stare, grinning at me, eyes unblinking. How the devil does he do that? "So, why?"
"It's polite not to insult people when they're right in front of you," I admonished severely.
"Yeah, Nami says that too but then gives up halfway through," Luffy seriously replied, face completely blank. "And Sanji calls Zoro a moss-head and Zoro calls him a shitty cook-"
"And they fight anyway, but it doesn't hurt them, so I don't say anything," my words were completely ignored as he continued blabbering. "So, why d'you stick with the cold fish?"
"I say, didn't you ever grow up with manners?" I was nearly horrified at this breach of propriety. Even the street Arabs must have had better manners than him.
"What's that?" he asked. "Tha' a tropical sandwich or something?"
The Great Detective, in the process of lighting his pipe, coughed as a plume of strong shag tobacco shrouded his head, and I got the impression that he was laughing. Myself, I was at a complete loss for words. No wonder those people he mentioned gave up. "...never mind."
"So, anyway, answer me!" he pouted, in an extremely dim-witted but endearing way.
"He... does seem distant," I finally conceded. "He does have his moments, though. Believe me."
"Oh, okay," Luffy nodded. "I'm hungry."
I felt my left eyelid twitch. "You emptied the table of breakfast today."
"I'm still hungry."
"Well, I don't have food on me."
His eyes dropped down and I realised that he was eyeing Holmes's tobacco pouch. "What's that?"
"Tobacco." Holmes stoically answered.
"Can it be eaten?"
"...some people do prefer to chew it as opposed to smoking it."
"Can I eat it?"
"...are you sure you can eat it?" Holmes blinked.
"Hmm... so, I can eat it?" He was already reaching out a hand.
"No." Holmes quickly tugged the bag out of reach. "You may not eat it, or smoke it, or even come within two feet of it. Watson, watch him. You're the doctor."
"So this is good stuff to eat?" the boy was rooting through the bag already, his nose sniffling through the dried tobacco leaves.
"When did you get that?" Holmes nearly jumped in his seat. "And don't spit it back into the bag!"
"I have completed my assessment of him, Watson," Holmes sighed tiredly once we had exited the hansom and were now making our way back to the old rooms of Baker Street. "He is a complete imbecile."
"Holmes!" I protested, for the sake of propriety if not that Luffy was within hearing distance of us.
"I am?" Luffy blinked. "Thanks!"
Holmes gave me a look, as if to say: I rest my case, before he walked in and Mrs Hudson declared the arrival of a lady awaiting Holmes's presence.
"So much for museum visits, it appears that Miss Robin Nico has found us," Holmes twirled the card upon which the name was written in one hand. "Spidery, neat writing, perhaps in her late twenties, educated, intelligent, calm and cool, look, Watson, see the loops here, an indication of-"
"Robin!" Luffy bellowed from his place, leaping up the stairs. "Robin!"
I hastily followed the boy up lest he broke something of Mrs Hudson's again. The sitting room door swung open as I approached it, and a woman's voice floated through it.
Miss Robin Nico wore her long dark hair to her shoulders, brown eyes twinkling with hidden intelligence in contrast against her olive-toned skin. She was beautiful in that mysterious way, almost like the lost Lenore Poe oft spoke of in his poem of the raven.
Her dress was of cotton dyed purple and black with black la#e edging, and on her lap sat the matching wide-brimmed sun hat. Her feet were graced with stylish yet sensible black boots with plain edges stitched close, and she was smiling in a way that the Mona Lisa would have been envious of, I would imagine.
"Robin, how d'you find me?" Luffy was asking as he rushed over to her. "Where're the others?"
"I'm afraid I don't know about the others as of yet, Captain," her voice was melodic yet respectful, not the kind of indulgent voice one would find in adults indulging the whims of the retarded of mind. "As for finding you, it wasn't hard, since you, Mr Holmes and Doctor Watson were seen with you at the British Museum of Natural History. A fascinating collection of artefacts your country had dedicated to the advancements of the study of ancient civilisations, Doctor."
I stared. "Erm, my apologies, I have had my nerves taxed by Luffy. You are-"
"Miss Robin Nico, archaeologist of the Straw Hat Pirates," Miss Nico bowed as she introduced herself. "My apologies for the trouble our captain has put you through, Doctor. I must thank you for taking care of our Captain. I know he can... be a handful at times."
"And yet you seem quite free to make yourself at home, Miss Nico," Holmes observed as he strolled in. "I assume you enjoyed your stroll through Kensington Gardens?"
"Quite, yes," Miss Nico agreed. "The weather today is wonderful, Mr Holmes. I trust that my captain did not trouble you unduly."
"A fine summer, for walking if not actual running," Holmes noted, one eyebrow raised. "He is a... diverting subject of study."
Luffy glanced forlornly at the hanging tobacco bag, which Holmes quickly took far out of reach of him. "What'cha talkin' about, Robin?"
"The art of observation and its properties, captain," Robin answered. "How Mr Holmes realised that I followed you from the Museum and took a short cut through the Kensington Gardens to arrive at Baker Street earlier. I was running, as evidenced by the slight tear at the back hem of my skirt, and the wear on my boots, which are clearly not meant for such an exercise yet I am used to it anyway. Mr Holmes is also currently assessing my threat level, and seeing as my every movement is reminiscent of an assassin, he would conclude that I am more than a simple archaeologist."
"...so, it's a mystery thing."
I turned to her. "He is truly the captain of the ship?"
"Of course he is," she blinked at me, completely unsurprised. "He is Straw Hat Luffy, the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates."
"Shishishishi, you'll never guess what, Robin!" Luffy cheered. "These people are weird. Nice, and weird, well, except for the cold fish. And they don't know about us or even the One Piece."
"I expected as much," she answered, shifting her legs, uncrossing them and crossing them, reversing them from how they were a moment before. "I think it best Captain, if we find the others quickly and leave."
"That's a great idea!" Luffy cheered at the same time a rapid knocking sounded at the door below-stairs.
Seeing as Holmes was hardly likely to attend to the door, given his personality, I bade my own leave to go downstairs to open the door. A large specimen of the low-class thug greeted my sight, and I could not help but wonder which of Holmes's cases followed him home this time.
"Hey'ya, beggin' yer pardon, guv'nor, but didja see a nice lady in purple and black come in?" he smirked at me. "Our boss'd like a word with the lady, and he wouldna mind if we had ta rough up the owner of this establishmen', if ya know what I mean."
"So a few unidentified men have arrived," Robin observed from her place on the landing. I was about to move back when I distinctly felt the newly oiled steel barrel of a gun lie flat along my cheek and the man fired. The report nearly deafened me, but years in the Army had taught me to recognise a gun targeting someone when needed.
"Miss Nico!" I yelled as she flattened herself against the wall.
"I am fine," she coolly reply. "Captain."
The second bullet was clearly aimed at the grinning boy as Luffy swooped forth, and I was about to yell another warning when the second report came, Holmes barrelling down armed with a riding crop at the gunshots. Both of us stared in silence as Luffy made short work of the thug which must have been twice or even thrice his weight with a fist to the stomach, then a knee to the face and a slap to both ears. His intelligence may be faulty, but his pugilistic skill was certainly not to be underestimated, this boy Luffy.
"Did that...?" Holmes indicated the doorway.
I traced the newest round hole in the green-painted wood with the tip of a finger. "Quite."
"It is a side-effect of our captain's rubber powers," Miss Nico added.
Holmes rounded on her. "You mean, the way the bullet merely bounced back instead of injuring him? That the fact that he is bulletproof because he's rubber?"
"Yes," she nodded.
"That is rather difficult to believe," he plainly informed her.
"That does not require you to believe it," she answered demurely. "Neither does the fact that you truly escaped being seen as you made your way into Baker Street."
"I have a question," I realised. "Exactly does what relevance does an archaeologist have to do with piracy?"
"That is an interesting question, that only our captain can answer," Miss Nico shrugged.
"I wonder how he did it," my fried gave Miss Nico a meaningful look. e22How exactly did he get you to join his crew? If there really is one," he added.
"He didn't let me die. Now he's taking responsibility for it," she primly answered.
He stared at her, and then at Luffy, who was sitting cross-legged on an unconscious thug demanding meat from a Mrs Hudson on the edge of hysterics. "I don't understand him. How?"
"You will never do so," Miss Nico answered as she turned to 7alk back up the steps to the sitting room. "The Captain is beyond understanding."
"And why, pray tell, is that?" Holmes impatiently argued.
"He is a man of the D.," she told him. "And all men of the D. hold that same inexplicable fate."
To Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler is the woman. However, I must note, too, that Robin Nico was another woman to him. Once upon a time I had asked him of it, and he would give the self-same reply:
"She is the one to match all of them."
"Yeah Sanji's all like this. Talking like this: "Luffy, get out of the meat! Stupid shitty marimo!"" Luffy impersonated fingers at his mouth as if holding a cigarette, apparently an impression of one of his crew.
Miss Nico smirked a bit more then she already was, bearing a near smile on her mysteriously shadowed features. "That is quite good, Captain."
"Oh! I can do Usopp next!" Luffy cheered as he grabbed his nose.
"I think for the moment that will do. We have work to do," she reminded him gently as he stretched the olfactory appendage.
Luffy nodded, said appendage snapping back into place on his face with a disturbing sound like cartilage breaking. "Right. We gotta find everyone... say, Robin, if I went to this... Trafal-guy?"
"Trafalgar Square," she gently corrected.
"Yeah. You think they'll notice me if I called for them there?"
I had the sudden vision of Luffy scaling Nelson's Column, bellowing to the four corners of London for seven beings in a city of five million people. Apparently, Holmes shared my opinion, for his teacup was rattling as he placed it back on our coffee table. "It would not be advisable to make another spectacle like the one at the Museum today, Mr Luffy. Lestrade has already sent me a stern telegram, on police hours at that."
"I would suggest not drawing attention." Miss Nico considered. "But as always, you seem to have already found trouble, Captain."
"Nah, it's an adventure!" he cheered. "Adventures are fun! So, where to? Pickled Dilly Circus, or the Trafal-guy one, or Spitty Fields-"
"None of those," Holmes intervened before Luffy could visit every tourist attraction in London. "First, we must establish the places your people are most likely to gravitate to."
"You're not from around here are you?" I warmly asked Luffy.
"Nope. I've been a lot of places. But nowhere is as cool and odd as here," Luffy began to dig his nose again. From Miss Nico's expression, I suppose that this was a regular occurrence.
"Like you've never seen a city before," Holmes finally noticed.
"The cities we have known are far from this magnificent or busy," Miss Nico informed us politely. "I believe it won't be hard to find our comrades in such a place. Our swordsman and cook, most of all. Their clashes are the kind that absolutely cannot be missed."
"Zoro's probably lost," Luffy grinned, as if in nostalgia. "Hmm... Zoro gets lost all the time. Sanji would probably stick to Nami if he found her, or he'll be cooking. He makes great food, so we'll have to look at every-"
"No, we will not be eating at those places just to find one person." Holmes winced at the thought, and I could sympathise upon imagining the prospective restaurant bill. "Any others?"
Luffy pouted at him. "Cold fish."
Holmes spluttered as Luffy went on. "Then, Usopp's probably hiding, and Chopper's probably with him, so we'll have to check the hiding places. Nami likes money, tangerines and money, so she'll be in a rich place if she can. Franky sticks to Sunny, so he'll be by the water. Brook loves singing, so find a place with music and he'll probably be there. How to find all of them...?"
"The waterside one sounds like a good idea," Holmes thoughtfully murmured. "Perhaps we could also find your ship as well."
"Yay! We're going to find Sunny!" Luffy cheered as even Miss Nico smiled slightly.
Holmes reached out for his hat. "In that case, without further ado, let us set out for the London Docks."
Chapter 4: From the Tops of the Towers
III: From the Tops of the Towers
The London Docks was the greatest trading port of Europe, if not the world, and it was here that we begun our search, based on Holmes's deduction upon the river flow and the likeliest place to hide a ship.
Ah, to be young and naïve again. Faced with one of the world's greatest ports, with ships majestically strolling into harbour bearing the exotic spices and fruit and goods of the world, and his first reaction is to head for the meat produce. Directly after lunch, too.
“No,” Holmes intervened before the boy could make away with the entire crate. “Let's focus. What does your ship look like?”
“Hmph... Sunny is big!” Luffy chirped. “Oh, and it's a lion! And it's custom made by Franky!”
“There's no more need to describe the Sunny to them, Captain,” Miss Nico pointed to the furthest dock from us, tucked away in some unseen corner of the harbour. “The Sunny is over there.”
“Sunny!” Luffy immediately charged over like a bloodhound on the scent, all of us rushing to keep up with his boundless energy. I was panting rather heavily when we reached the dock and I finally laid eyes on the Thousand Sunny.
There are no sufficient words in my limited vocabulary to describe the pirate ship, Thousand Sunny, in the greatest detail possible. I will then endeavour, using a thesaurus, and Mr Franky's notes, to describe it using as many layman's terms as possible.
We saw a brig sloop type ship, double-masted, with an observation tower where the crow's nest would be. Its figurehead was in the shape of a round lion, the orange mane arranged almost like the petals around a flower. Two crossbones under the lion figurehead gave it the debonair air of piracy. Right now, the ship was at anchor, but I could definitely imagine this ship being sailed on the seas... however, seeing it as a pirate ship required slightly more imagination. Large numbers were painted on the hull: 0, supposedly to mean something.
“Well, at least it stands out,” Holmes acknowledged.
“Ow!” Someone stood on the deck and posed. “Yo, captain, Robin!”
There are some sights in this world that are not worth seeing, no matter what, and this was one of them. The sight will forever be burned in my memory for there is no way of forgetting that sight, the first time either of us ever saw the shipwright of the Straw Hat Pirates.
His hair was swept up in a cyan-coloured pompadour, and he posed with his larger-than-humanly possible biceps, a tattoo of a blue star on each of them combined to form one star. He was wearing a bright-print shirt with colours only a peacock might consider, and with it... some sort of tiny lingerie that did nothing to hide his nether regions while displaying his legs in all their hairy glory. As he posed, I swore I could hear actual waves crashing on rocks behind him, such was his self-confidence.
“My god, man, you're indecent!” I yelled at him.
“No way! I’m a pervert!” he yelled back.
“Aren't they the same thing?” I retorted.
“Who the hell are you anyway?” He shot back.
“Ah, this is Doctor Watson,” Miss Nico introduced us. “And the other man is Mr Sherlock Holmes. They found Luffy in connection with something, apparently, and are currently assisting us in tracking the rest of the crew. Gentlemen, this is Franky, our shipwright. He has... a constant habit of not wearing pants, but no worries.”
“He's always this...” I suppressed a shudder at the thought.
“This is his normal wear,” Miss Nico answered. I waited for her to continue but it appeared that no more words need be said, for she began to talk to the shipwright, Franky.
“Franky, has anyone else come back?” Miss Nico questioned.
“Ah, Usopp went to buy Tabasco sauce and spices, no problem,” Franky gave a thumbs up at that. “And he's lugging back Cola for the Sunny as well. Oi, Luffy, you seen anyone else yet?”
“Nah, except Robin,” Luffy bluntly answered.
“Yeah, well, I think I saw Zoro wandering around,” Franky called back to him. “Fellow probably got lost again.”
"Now we have to find Sanji, so we can have meat!” Luffy declared.
"I think we should find Swordsman instead," Robin instructed softly.
Luffy blinked. “But Zoro's tough. He'll be okay."
"I'm more worried, because he is tough.” Robin explained. “Killing here is clearly outlawed. I fear Swordsman may be too much for those here, as will you and Cook, Captain."
"Hmm… Zoro won't fight useless battles. So if people really are that weak, he won't fight at all." Luffy reasoned.
"You know Swordsman best," she agreed, though I could sense the slight shadow of doubt.
"So, this Zoro is a swordsman?" Holmes questioned.
"He's going to be the best swordsman in the world!" Luffy exclaimed with as much joy as he had when he announced his own dream.
"He has a sword?" Holmes continued to question. No one in this day and age carried around a sword. No one else, that is. It would narrow the search down drastically if our mystery swordsman was carrying one around.
"Of course not," Luffy answered. Holmes about sighed until the boy went on. "He's got three."
I tried to imagine one person carrying three broadswords, and failed miserably. It would be more likely for the average person to collapse under the weight of the swords instead, for one thing. Still, a man carrying three swords around was bound to be noticed.
A high-pitched whistle reached my ears at about the same time a brilliant red light burned in the air, almost like a firework.
Franky looked up, his expression creasing. “Usopp!”
“You gave him a flare?” Robin archly directed at him.
“Strange place and all that,” Franky shrugged. “Oi, Luffy!”
“'Kay!” the boy cheered as he began to stretch... and I suddenly realised that Holmes and I were in the direct line of fire, as it were.
“Run!” I yelled as the boy let go.
“Rocket!” he crowed as both of us were caught in the wildest hay-maker of the century and we, for lack of a better word, rocketed to the roofs of Wapping.
Holmes muttered a word I did not recognise in a language I do not expect to recognise, and was most probably a curse, as he grabbed onto a pipe to safely slide down to the ground. “That boy...”
“I agree,” I began a slow jog in the direction Luffy was going. “I don't like this any more than... you...!”
We had turned a corner then and we saw three large, bulky rent-a-thugs being thrown in our direction. Holmes and I dodged back to the wall as the three landed where we would have been a few moments ago.
“Usopp! Chopper!” Luffy cheered as we finally deemed it safe to walk into the alleyway without potential fisticuffs breaking out.
Luffy was hugging a boy, his black hair curly and wild, kept down by a bandanna. The other boy's tanned frame was skinny and he wore nothing but worn overalls. Odder still, was his long nose that vaguely resembled an Italian puppet and the large stuffed deer in his arms with a large pink hat and blue nose, which he was clutching tightly to. If I did not know better, would ave sworn that the animal looked scared as well.
“Luffy!” the black-haired boy was saying. “We finally found you! I found Franky first then I found Chopper when I was buying spices and you wouldn't believe that I managed to find saffron!”
“Really? That sounds delicious!” Luffy grinned as he spotted us. “Oh, yeah, this is the nice uncle doctor I met who gave me food, and that's the cold fish he's sticking to at the moment.”
“...I am Doctor John Watson,” I introduced myself to the perplexed boy when it was becoming clear that a good introduction was not forthcoming from the self-proclaimed captain. “My companion is Mr Sherlock Holmes. We are currently following Mr Monkey on the premise that he is the sole witness to a potential murder. You are...?”
“I'm the great Captain Usopp!... sniper of the Straw Hat Pirates,” he muttered at the end as I gave him a sympathetic look, clearly having seen through that admittedly transparent lie. “This is Chopper.”
“Good day, Chopper,” I greeted the stuffed animal.
"Oh, it'll be okay Chopper. These people are okay," Luffy grinned at it.
"You sure?" a little timid voice questioned. "I don't think they like my blue nose."
“Come on!” Luffy yelled. “They accept you like this, they'll accept your reindeer form too!”
Slowly, a nod came from the creature in Usopp's arms.
It jumped from his lap and stood in front of them, on his own stubby legs. It looked up at us timidly before suddenly, the small form shifted. Legs grew longer and back-jointed as the creature descended on all fours, as its snout grew bigger and its fur coat longer and more ruff-like. Both of us could only start at the reindeer that now stood in front of us. The only thing that stayed the same was the pink hat atop its head, and its blue nose.
It was a very long silence before Holmes finally sighed. “Well, Watson, today we are certainly stretching the boundaries of impossible.”
We had retired to the deck of the Thousand Sunny – which, surprisingly, had a lawn and a grove of orange trees onboard – and Holmes was ignoring everything about this very strange and colourful pirate ship in favour of interrogating the reindeer doctor of the Straw Hat Pirates, one Tony Tony Chopper.
"A reindeer, you say?" Holmes asked.
"Yep." the reindeer looked more cheerful now, if reindeer could indeed give any facial expressions. If Luffy was right, and this was a reindeer over, perhaps, a raccoon, then the reindeer must be rather expressive to give off such an impression.
“How…?” Holmes seemed at a loss for words to describe Doctor Chopper.
I remembered Luffy mentioning something to that effect. “And, you and Luffy are the same, Doctor Chopper?”
"Robin and Brook are Devil Fruit users too!" Chopper seemed more enthusiastic onboard the ship than out to a big strange world. Almost childlike, that strange innocence of his if one did not factor species into consideration. “Calling me a doctor won't make me happy, you idiot~!” He was also incapable of hiding his emotion,s in an oddly endearing way.
“He's the best doctor I know, and he's our emergency food supply!” Luffy chuckled, hanging from the rigging. I deigned not to reply; there were some things one did not reply to, if only to maintain a semblance of sanity.
“So, we got Sanji, Zoro, Nami, and Brook left,” Luffy counted. “Can we go search the other side tonight?”
“That's... one of the most dangerous parts of London...” I feebly replied. Privately, I thought that perhaps even the East End would be easy pickings for him, if his strength was any indication.
“Holmes checked his pocket-watch. “Perhaps not. It would take us too long, and nightfall would have already occurred once we arrived there. I shall take my leave now, then, gentlemen and lady. Come, Watson, we have a cemetery to investigate.”
Seeing as it was not everyday that Sherlock Holmes was to investigate amongst gravestones, I followed him away from the colourful pirate ship after bidding farewell to the excitable group of pirates to ask my friend as to his reasons.
“This spectre comes out at sunset, and throughout the night proceeds to sing raucous songs that disturb the peace,” Holmes snorted. “Seeing as half the force are superstitiously inclined, Lestrade has bade my investigation into this... bone spectre. Seeing as my fees are being paid for by the residents of Highbury, and that summer is a light season, I hardly have a reason to avoid the money. However, before the sunset comes, I would prefer to conduct some preliminary investigation as to potential mortal agents. I am reduced to hunting for spectres, Watson! How the mighty have fallen!”
I chuckled at his mocking shocked expression. “It would still be a relief from the case of the Thousand Sunny's crew.”
“If the rest are anything like the captain, god help London,” Holmes rolled his eyes. “If Miss Nico was correct, our immediate priority is the navigator and the musician. The cook and the swordsman will indeed stand out well enough for us to find at our leisure.”
Chapter 5: The Haunting Melody of the Musician
IV: The Haunting Melody of the Musician
It is one of the queer little facts of London's summers, that the sun is well in the sky even as the clock approaches six when Holmes and I entered a charming little dive of a public house around six.
I froze, and slowly turned around to see Luffy grinning at me.
"How...?" Holmes faintly said. "I never saw you."
"Well, I got hungry and Usopp said that I've got to eat the cheese rations but that sucks, then Robin said I might as well follow you guys for a free meal and I never refuse a free meal and then-"
"No," Holmes put up an authoritative hand. "You are not eating with us. I have seen your idea of a light snack and I fear that I might not be able to pa off any tab you incur."
"Please?" The wobbling bottom lip might have worked on any other man, save for Sherlock Holmes the superhuman consulting detective. Myself, I am on the verge of agreeing.
I turned away to open the door, and barely had it creaked open that I was forced to dodge the oncoming missile I vaguely recognised as a human body that flew out of the door, clear across Euston Street and impacting on the building on the other side with a distinctive cracking of stone.
"And that's what you get for harassing a lady as the Dragon," a voice growled. "Shitty bastard."
Holmes squinted as said body embedded by blunt force into the wall. "I believe that is a shoe print on his face there."
"That it is," the man growled. I turned around to see a slightly shorter, slight of stature, blond with his hair covering his left eye, and in an immaculate dark suit that I noted was suited for greater movement. He was pounding the tip of one shoe into the ground, and I saw his lone visible eye flicking to me, to Holmes and to Luffy.
"Sanji!" Luffy cheered. "I found you!"
"Took you long enough, shitty captain," Sanji walked in. "Miss Nami, Luffy's here!"
"Luffy!" an orange-haired girl in a long black dress walked up to us.
"Nami!" Luffy enthusiastically tackled the woman in a hug. "So you were with Sanji, eh?"
"Yeah," Miss Nami shrugged as Luffy let go. "Sanji and I just got hired as cook and waitress. As you can see, Sanji's also a bouncer... and all the drunks are scared of him."
"Is that good?" I blinked.
"Of course it is," Nami smiled. "If people forget to leave a good tip, I call Sanji and they become much more charitable."
"That man must weigh sixteen stone," Holmes muttered under his breath. "And he was kicked across the road to be embedded into a solid brick wall..."
I whistled appreciatively. "A good steak-and-kidney pie and a pint would be nice about now."
"Coming right up," Mr Sanji drawled. "it's the least I could do after you've put up with the idiot captain."
"Sanji, this old uncle doctor is nice!" Luffy smiled. "He gave me food!"
"You'd trust your murderer if he gave you a pastry," Sanji drawled as he set for the kitchen.
There are no words to describe the quality of food coming from the cook. I am no gourmet, I cannot begin to summarise the delicacy of the steak-and-kidney pie served. Let it known that the pie was so good, that the crowd at the bar waiting for food was accounted for within the first bite, and that when we finally left with the chef and navigator of the Straw Hat Pirates, there was a near riot.
Highbury Cemetery was the type of place that people went on ghost-walks for in hopes to catch glimpses of the supernatural element. This was London, and every city had its stories. People who died in the Great Fire, lonely spectres haunting streets, all of that, and the metropolis was hardly an exception. However, when one called in England's foremost detective, then the ordinary ceased to be commonplace.
"So, why are we walking through a cemetery?" Mr Sanji growled, lighting another cigarette up. Miss Nami had been escorted aboard the Sunny, and she had elected Mr Sanji to follow us on suspicion of their musician hiding in Highbury Cemetery. What must have given our case away, we had no clue.
"Put that out, man, or we'll be spotted!" At least, that was what I thought Holmes had been trying to hiss. Half the words stuck in his throat as he beheld something right behind us.
My jaw slackened, my hand trembled, and I briefly considered just walking away first.
Click, clack, the sound of heels on cobblestones rang out starkly in the night, and I caught a glimpse of bone-white before...
"Yohohoho! Good evening! I am 'Just Dead Bones' Brook! It's wonderful weather we're having this summer, is it not? Would you like to sing together with me in celebration of beautiful summer?"
I could feel choking sounds coming from my throat, and from Holmes.
A black shoe hit the skeleton in the face, bringing it down to the ground.
"Found ya," Mr Sanji smirked. "Shitty musician."
"It makes you wonder," Holmes finally found his voice as we approached the Thousand Sunny to drop off our load of cook and musician. "If, perhaps, the sole remaining missing member of the Pirates could match up to the musician in... eccentricity."
"He's a skeleton," I sighed. "A skeleton who habitually requests to peek at women's underclothing. If there was anything on God's green earth that could top that, let me never see it in my lifetime. I am quite content with my mediocre experience."
"Agreed," Holmes nodded after a long moment. "Logicians would hate his very existence."
He would vehemently deny it to his dying day, but never again would he approach the musician without someone around during the remainder of our contact with the Straw Hat Pirates.
Still, the thought gave me pause. Where exactly was the elusive swordsman and, unofficially, first mate of that mischievous captain?
Chapter 6: The Demon They Cal Asura
V: The Demon They Call Asura
The next few days saw us, meaning Holmes, all his resources, and the Straw Hat Pirates virtually exhaust the entirety of the West End and Central London in searching for the mysterious remaining member of the Pirates. In that time, I need not say how many charges of eat-and-runs were accounted for; I had every receipt for every case. Note that I say had, for the receipts were mysteriously burnt, no doubt by people who would wish to ignore the existence of Luffy D. Monkey.
At the same time, I had managed to study the Straw Hat Pirates for myself. I can only say that all the members, save for Miss Nico and Miss Nami, were questionably insane to varying degrees. If there were any true need to identify the most insane of them all, by the standards of the Empire I would suppose Luffy to be the one. Holmes, he agrees with me, if only because no relatively educated boy should willingly choose a life of crime in his world view.
"Being normal is boring!" Luffy had grinned when I had asked him concerning his career choice. "The Pirate King's got the most freedom on the seas!"
His beaming smile reminded me, perhaps, of halcyon days gone by when children played pirates and went on adventures through rolling fields and glades, and this caused me to wonder, if perhaps Mr Luffy had faced too many times with the floor as a baby. It would certainly go a long way to account for this apparent mental deficiency.
The rest of the crew were questionable in their state of mind, and used to the antics of a certain captain, and unquestioningly loyal. I can remember one fine day when the entirety of the crew save for the missing swordsman were unleashed on the covered markets. When they were done...
(This segment was notably torn out, and presumably burnt, by unknown and unnamed parties.)
I cannot mention it for lack of records, but by Holmes's speculations, half the market was cleared out by Luffy.
So there, a few days of chaos and 'adventure' in Luffy's terms, and 'unspeakable danger' in Holmes's, passed before we finally caught up to the swordsman and the first assailant.
The log of the pirate ship, the Thousand Sunny. Written by Nico Robin, archaeologist. 1524 AOS.
Most of us have gathered, in this part of the city called London, within a greater country informally known as England, and formally as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and associated territories. I state the slightly shorter name for as we speak our captain is tethering on the rigging of the Sunny and all hands are needed to keep him onboard. It is a trying task, that I may freely inform as my crew-mates would no doubt echo these exact sentiments in not very specific but more expressive terms.
A certain man known as Sherlock Holmes, and his... friend, the estimable Doctor Watson, has rendered aid in locating our captain and most of our crew-mates. In other circumstances, perhaps we would have mistrusted them, but our captain likes the erstwhile Doctor if not the detective he derisively calls 'Hawk Eyes', and for that he has our regards. Our captain is a good judge of character, and he has not failed us yet. Added that we hardly went anywhere unarmed, and it is perfectly fine.
Of course, today we were exploring Leadenhall Street – the detective and doctor notably reluctant to take the captain anywhere near the richer districts of Leadenhall Street after an 'commotion' outside the Royal Mint building in the form of 'Binks' Sake' – when we were accosted.
It was five tall, heavyset men, versus our detective and doctor, Doctor Chopper and yours truly. Given how they were armed with heavy clubs and knives, our ungulate doctor and myself felt it extremely justified to prove our mettle, as the saying should go.
Chopper's Heavy Point startled the doctor perhaps ore than it should. My own powers discreetly used gave the impression that one woman could impale people on her arm (how funny, seeing as I had used the same sleight of hand upon the Alabastan princess) and the detective and doctor took out two men between them before they realised that a reindeer and a woman had handled the other three men. The likely leader was before us now, and I was smiling at him.
It is an unusual trick, smiling at your opponent right before you torture them for information. It is something that requires subtlety, I have learnt, that if you smile at you commit horrible acts of sadistic cruelty upon their person, it creates some mental pressure that forces their minds to break earlier.
There are some people upon whom this trick does not work, though. The men of the line of D. are notably some of these hard-headed cases.
"Power... speed... that mean nothing to me," I spoke slowly towards that man whom intelligence meant nothing, only prodigious size that was currently within the clutches of my Seis Fleur. "Would you kindly tell me the name of your employer now? I would so hate to break your back. No, you behind me, you do not leave just yet."
More arms had sprouted behind me to grab onto the lone man who tried to sneak away. They quickly got the message that I was fully capable of that threat when his bones broke.
Mr Holmes and Doctor Watson looked shocked at the nature of my powers, as they are wont to. They did not seemed as shocked as when they met the shipwright, though.
I wonder how they will react when we finally find Mr Swordsman. I suppose I should not be looking forward to it.
From the notes of Doctor J.H. Watson
It was a few days after our first meeting with Monkey D. Luffy in the Bow Street cells that we finally found the swordsman and unofficial first mate of the Thousand Sunny. More accurately, we found a trace of his existence. It was currently sitting in a Limehouse train-yard, and it was completely unfit for use.
"Oh my," Holmes shivered as one finger smoothed over the edges of where the steel engine had been smoothly and cleanly severed. "This is rather smooth metallurgy."
Our client, a man cursed or blessed by the unremarkable named of Brown, coughed delicately. "It is... the work of a vandal."
"A vandal with skill working with metal, to achieve this merely with a single stroke," Holmes interjected. "It certainly does not seem like a hammer mark- Watson, would you please calm down the infernal monkey?"
Normal people would believe that the rest of the Straw Hat crew would take umbrage at the insults thrown at their captain. They have obviously never met the Straw Hat Pirates; the captain takes insults on a regular basis.
"Choo choo!" Luffy was currently screaming over the shrill whistles of the trains, and attracting the attention of every single person present. In the interest of public facade, I dragged the simple-minded captain towards where Holmes was currently praising how well the steel had been cut.
"Perhaps this technology was self-invented," Holmes was saying as I dragged the rubber boy-man over. Every part of him threatened to stretch and I was forced to use the ultimate incentive, that is, a breakfast roll, to secure his temporary obedience.
"He cut it, with a sword," Mr Brown continued to insist. "It was a sword, a single-bladed affair from the Far East. I would recognise it myself. I have witnesses!"
"A- Asura..." the trembling worker nodded firmly, his dark skin belying his race. "The deity has come bearing destruction... the green-haired deity has come!"
"Oh, that's just Zoro," Luffy spoke over the breakfast roll as the man was dragged away kicking and screaming.
Holmes stared at the ruined train engine, and then at the captain. "Your swordsman did this?" he repeated.
"Green hair, Asura... Yep!" Luffy grinned.
I suddenly wonder what kind of demon was the man in question.
We found out later, as Luffy bounced into Limehouse, and proceeded to attract attention in the worst way ever recorded. It pains me to record it even on paper. I will never forget it to my dying day, because as sight like that you never forget.
"Oi, Zoro!" He continued to yell despite being surrounded by the destitute and poorest of this side of London.
"Mr Luffy," Holmes began. "If you don't stop shouting for your mysterious crew member we are going to attract more attention and then we are all going to die because we're outnumbered."
Holmes himself have learnt that bluntness was the best way to handle Monkey D. Luffy... to a given extent.
"We're not going to die," Luffy grinned. "I gotta become Pirate King first before I die."
"...and what about us?"
"Ah! I forgot."
The people advancing on us exchanged looks, before giving both Holmes and I what I am extremely sure was looks of sympathy. "Not right in the head, is he?" one of them muttered towards me. "Don't worry, guv, we'll whack him real good."
Their advancement stopped as they caught sight of something behind us, and all of them, within the span of a second, turned tail and ran like the hounds of the underworld were upon them.
For the second time in the past few days, the both of us turned around.
We, too, ran, the rubber arm of Monkey D. Luffy flapping behind as I bodily dragged the man-child. The... demon, for lack of more appropriate words... followed us, swords clanging and clinking as if hungering for the blood of Englishmen. It had green hair, and swords, but what the poor man had forgotten to mention was that the green hair was on three heads, and the swords were six, no, nine, of them.
"Zoro~!" Luffy sang as we turned a corner and something crashed, presumably sealing the sole way through.
"What... was that?" Holmes finally recovered his breath as something cracked through the air.
Both of us leapt out of the way as a shower of brick fell to the ground, a slice of good English building crashing upon the pavement, cut smooth... cut smooth?
"He cut that with a sword," Holmes croaked, staring up at the cleanly decapitated two-storey building. "With a sword..."
"There's another wall," I grimaced as the sound of steel cutting stone sounded. "Don't tell me... he's cutting his way through solid brick with a sword...!"
There was no time for me to finish as neatly cut pieces of brick wall fell at my feet and the green-haired figure slowly advanced out, a sword in each hand and one in his teeth. The swords were all of the single-edged kind oft spoken about in Japan, but never had such implements of ancient warfare looked as deadly as a firearm looked than in his hands.
"Three swords," I amended. "That solves the mystery, I suppose..."
"What a horrifyingly strong man," Holmes muttered right behind me. "And he is not even the captain... I suppose this is testament to Mr Luffy's strength of character?"
"Oi, Zoro!" Luffy happily bounced over to the green-haired man. "Where were you?"
Sharp eyes bore into us before the demonic-looking swordsman shifted back to a normal human being as the terrifying implements of murder were sheathed. "I got... in the wrong way."
Chapter 7: All Together Now...
Epilogue: All Together Now...
The log of the pirate ship, the Thousand Sunny. Written by Nico Robin, archaeologist. 1524 AOS.
"He got lost?" Nami screamed at the yawning swordsman who had been recovered. Despite the demonic state Zoro was found in, our navigator has had no problem with scolding him until he gave up and began to tune her out of his mind in exasperation.
Mr Holmes and Doctor Watson were none the worse for wear at meeting Zoro, and the captain was positively delighted, immediately declaring to set sail into this foreign world. Whether or not it was due to the utterly strange threat we posed with our powers upon this colonial time, or whether or not our very existence would challenge logicians all over, Mr Holmes was immediately spurred into the action of tracing our exact route into London. Perhaps it was to save the rest of the city from the captain and us.
"We can't just pack them off into a strange world without preparation, Holmes." the erstwhile doctor reproached his friend.
"If it would get them out of England, I would gladly do it," Mr Holmes retorted, but acquiesced anyway.
"Either way, this crew must get back to this place called the Grand Line," Mr Holmes began. "If it would behove you to describe the circumstances in which you arrived into our world, Mr Luffy."
"What's that?" Luffy was picking his nose openly.
Mr Holmes twitched. I had noticed that these twitches have been increasing in their frequency directly proportional to how long the time spent with our captain. "What you saw when you came here."
"Oh, there was a storm, and then... then there was ferret-face," Luffy frowned.
"Was there anything else in between the storm and Lestrade?" Holmes questioned. "We know that you were arrested by Constable Ross and held in the Tower Hill cells before transference to Bow Street."
"If you know already why ask me? Between the storm..." Luffy considered. "Ferret-face was ordering something called a pasty."
Mr Holmes took a deep breath, before turning to our navigator and myself. "Miss Nami?"
"After the storm... we found ourselves up-river," Nami pointed to the mouth of the river, called Thames if my memory served me correctly. "Well, the Sunny landed up-river, and then I fell off. Sanji Kun was shouting, and the next thing I know I was in somewhere called Tower Hill."
"Perhaps we can surmise that the... gateway, for lack of a better word, would be around the mouth of the Thames," Holmes considered. "It would have been actively due to the energy provided by the electrical particles provided by lightning, I suppose, and somehow your ship entered this gateway- Please stop that!"
The playing of Mr Brook was exceptional, as Mr Holmes had remarked more than once in an extremely awkward manner, but I suppose that when one is speaking one does not want the interruption of Brook's violin.
"Yohohoho, we are in a strange world~!" Brook sang softly to himself. "My, Laboon, you'd be surprised to see this city!"
The reference to his whale of a comrade notwithstanding, rather typical of our musician.
"So, we have to wait till the next storm?" Nami was already studying the skies.
"From the scale of the storm described to me by your shipwright, I would suppose that one rather larger than native to the British Isles are required," Mr Holmes argued. "For one thing, the electrical charge who have to be fairly condensed in a Faraday construct-"
"Oi, Luffy, get out of the provisions!" Mr Cook was lashing a foot out at the captain.
"So, how long we get? I wanna explore the city!" Luffy began.
Mr Holmes carried an expression fit for one from this place called Bedlam as he answered. "Miss Nami, when will the next lightning storm be? I fear that my sanity would not take further exposure to you captain."
Nami carried a happy smile as she answered. "Tonight."
From the Notes of Doctor John H. Watson
"Is this all really necessary?" I asked Holmes as we hauled the next coil of copper wire in.
On the very last night that I would see the Straw Hat Pirates, we were aboard a carriage on the Underground, the rest of the passengers having excused themselves upon contact with half the motley crew, the other half having taken the duty to steer the Sunny to the river mouth.
"Yes," Holmes answered after a moment. "I have no wish to risk my sanity by exposure to Mr Monkey any longer, and neither do you, I imagine. Let them go on with their voyage, and hopefully find this treasure called One Piece."
A train whistle alerted us that there was a carriage blocking our way.
"What?" Luffy began to whine as he poked his head out to check the source of the commotion.
"We're not going to make it," Nami held up her watch. "The strongest point of the storm is approaching."
"Let me," Mr Roronoa stood up, one hand on his swords as he strolled through the carriage doors.
A few moments later, the sound of sliding steel and train whistles, shrill and loud, heralded a bored swordsman's return. "We're clear."
As the train chugged forward, albeit very reluctantly, I could see the remnants of two sliced carriages surrounded by a crowd of stupefied passengers on the platform, and so did Holmes see this spectacle.
"The sooner the better," He declared.
"I agree," were my words, the memory of the train engine in my head along with countless other scenarios playing out as to the repercussions of allowing the Straw Hat Pirates free reign in our world. There was no logic to handling them, because they were all insane and human and free, and the laws of any nation could be stuffed somewhere to them. Such wild cards left to roam the high seas of our world, where none would be their equal...
...it does not bear thinking about. Better yet, I cannot conceive it.
Finally, we reached the place, and Luffy and Zoro set to work lifting the copper coils that required two men to safely carry and then the copper coils, with the help of some nearby associates of Holmes's, set around the mouth of the Thames in some odd arch near the mouth. The Thousand Sunny, majestic and somewhat juvenile, sailed down, and the words of the cook could be heard singing Miss Nami's praises and laughter and the inexplicably cheerful song all of them were singing.
Overhead, the storm raged and lightning struck trees and the arch and in the cold, wet rain of the London summer night, I caught the glimpse of a grin under a straw hat wet with the rain.
"See ya!" was the laughing bellow alongside that of the swordsman and navigator as a rubber man slung them all onboard, without us.
"They're not going to make it!" Holmes realised as the Sunny swerved, almost in a collision course for another cruiser. "They're not going to make it!"
"Get off!" the silhouettes of three men were clear as the cruiser's remnants scattered over the Thames and laughter like that of some capricious spirit echoed as a single bolt struck-
-so that was the last I ever saw of the Sunny ever again.
Miss Nico had stated that there was no understanding of the captain, and by extension the crew, the ship, everything. Perhaps there was the truth there. Either way, it was truly an adventure that I treasured, much as Holmes would forget or try to forget about it. It was as much about snappy navigators, indecent shipwright and laughing rubber captains and talking reindeer and strange powers and stranger attitudes to life. It was an adventure, to speak about in halcyon days. It is over, but it existed. That I knew, and that I continue to know.
Conclusione della storia.