It takes several days until Sabo thinks they are ready to actually go to the library and by then Ace has finished his meteorology book. Luffy is basically vibrating when they finally reach the building and Ace has to make an effort to mask his own awe. The library is as big as three normal stores and every single wall is covered with books. So many books! Ace didn’t know there were so many in the world!
“I’ll take Lu to the kid’s sections,” Sabo offers. “You go get whatever you want.”
Ace raises an eyebrow towards Luffy who would have bolted already if Sabo didn’t have him tightly grabbed by the shoulder. “You sure?”
Sabo shrugs before elbowing Luffy whose neck is starting to look suspiciously long. “Yeah, you were on Luffy duty last time. My time to keep him in check.”
And with that he allows Luffy to drag him away, leaving Ace alone. He himself starts walking around and realises that there are signs in some of the bookshelves. He quickly skips over the ones talking about ‘literature’, ‘mathematics’ and ‘cooking’ without giving those books a second glance. He does pause to look at those marked as ‘navigation’ but quickly realises that they are not exactly what he was looking for. No, that is in a little bookshelf hidden away in the back of the shop with a sign that proudly announces it as the meteorology section.
His book is there and seems part of a set so Ace quickly grabs the other four books in it. He then scans the remaining books. There’s one talking only about clouds and Ace skims it before deciding against it. He does the same with one about acid rain, it looks cool but it’s not the kind of thing that usually happens in Goa. He does pick one that specializes in winter islands, he hates the cold so if he ever visits one he wants to be as ready as possible.
He is about to go find Sabo and Luffy when a title catches his eye. ‘The crazy weather in the Grandline, how to understand the impossible’ he picks the book up and opens it. In the first page there’s a drawing of the world which shows the grandline surrounded by something called the calm belt. It’s a boring name that seems to promise boring things but the index calls it the bane of every sailor so Ace decides to keep reading.
A place where no wind ever blows and where the sea is always flat and at the same time, a place where giant monsters go to nest. An impossible to leave prison situated just above some of the most dangerous creatures in the world. Ace needs to go there someday! And that’s just what surrounds the Grandline, how cool will the actual Grandline be?
He places that book on top of his others and makes his way towards his brothers. He is about to call out to them when a woman who seems to work for the shop stops him. “That’s a lot of books you got there,” she tells him with a smile. “And pretty difficult ones.”
Ace breathes deeply and tries to remember how he should act. “I guess it would be for a commoner but a noble needs to be able to understand at least this much.”
The woman laughs like Ace has made a joke. “Right you are, young master. I haven’t seen you around before, may I ask you what family you are from?”
The woman doesn’t seem to be suspicious of him so she is most likely just making small talk but Ace can feel himself start panicking. Sabo hadn’t told him what noble families there were! What should he answer? Does he make up a name?
No, he needs to calm down. He needs to act like The Lady would. He lets the books drop from his hand into the floor and calls for Sabo.
“You told me this was a high class establishment,” he admonishes him not deigning to even look at the employee. “And yet they employ such ignorant people?”
“Now, now,” Sabo approaches, looking mildly concerned. “I’m sure the young lady didn’t mean to insult you. You can expect common folk to know every family and all their offspring.”
“Who are you to tell me what I can or can’t expect? This is the first time a mere shop assistant has had the audacity to not know who I am. Really I should report this whole shop to my father, he’d ensure that they shape up.” The poor woman is looking terrified and Ace feels really bad for her.
Luckily, Sabo’s job is to pretend to soothe him so he stops him before he can frighten the shop assistance any more. “No need for that, let’s just grab our books and leave, okay? My mother just received some chocolates straight from Logue Town and I really want to share them with you.”
“I want chocolates too!” asks Luffy who doesn’t seem to understand that Ace is not actually mad. “Let’s go back, yeah?”
Their youngest is looking at him pleadingly and tugging at his sleeve so Ace lets out a sigh. “Fine.”
The woman picks up the books and hands them to Ace with trembling hands. “Here you go, young master.”
Ace nods and has to bite back a thank you but Sabo says it for him. “We’ll take this also,” he says pointing out at the books him and Luffy are carrying. “Do send the bill to the Outlook Manor.”
The woman is so relieved that she doesn’t even question Sabo’s request. “Of course, have a nice day, young masters.”
They leave the shop with three big bags full of books and not a berri poorer and Ace has to grin. “Nobles really are bastards, aren’t they?”
“Complete bastards,” Sabo confirms. “You acted mildly in comparison to some of them.”
“Ace wasn’t very nice to that woman,” Luffy says, looking a bit reproachful and Ace feels his cheeks blush in shame.
“I know, I panicked because she asked me what family I was from,” he admits. “I wasn’t too mean though, was I?”
Sabo shakes his head. “I’m sure she’s had to put up with much worse, don’t worry. And next time, say Greenwald, they are pretty eccentric and keep to themselves. They are also rich enough that no one should question you.”
They are two streets away from leaving the High Town when it happens. Some buffoon wearing a ridiculous moustache sees them.
Sabo stops before paling and pulling Ace and Luffy towards a side alley. “Quickly, come on, we need to run.”
So they do. They run and run until they reach the forest, where they fall into the ground trying to catch their breathing.
“Who.. who was… that?” asks Ace, still gasping for air.
Sabo is still too out of breath to answer so Ace has to wait for a while until he says, “My good for nothing father.”
“You don’t look alike,” Luffy points out, having recuperated far faster than the other too. Damm those rubber lungs of his.
“Thank you,” Sabo looks genuinely pleased at that.
“Think he’ll try and follow us?” Ace looks behind himself but he can only see vegetation.
“Doubt it, we were dressed as nobles so he’ll think I’m hiding out in some other family’s manor. It will take ages to rule them all out, especially since he needs to do so discreetly so as to not ‘cause a scene’.” Sabo makes citation quote marks with his fingers.
“Good.” Ace nods. “Well, let’s go put our books away then.”