A carnage. Blood. Pain.
A plea to take his life instead of his captain’s.
A looming figure, dark and murderous. A paw-like hand was extended towards him.
Now was the end.
Suddenly appeared another shadow, staggering. A black clad back. Shattered, damned. It looked easily breakable compared to the giant silhouette.
A whiff of conversation.
The paw turned away from him.
A whang. An impact.
A falling black rag.
A muted crash. Blood spread slowly, steadily from the sponge that was the sack of bones.
Damn it. No.
The giant shadow picked it up and was away.
He reached out.
He blacked out.
Zoro woke up to find himself and the rest of the crew swathed in bandages and sore but more or less safe and sound. They were put in a run-down stone mansion. He turned his head to the side and found that somebody had put his three swords beside him, among which the new addition was humming softly. Chopper was at Luffy’s side, changing his bandages.
As if one cue, his captain opened his eyes and whined.
“Sanji, I’m hungry!”
“Stay still for a little bit longer, Luffy!”
Chopper tried to coax, though a sign of distress showed on his face.
“Um, about that, Luffy…”
Nami’s voice reached the swordsman, and her heels came into view. Zoro shut his eyes and let a deep breath escape.
“I want meat!”
Luffy was now casting his gaze around.
“They’ve taken him.”
Zoro heard his own voice say. A loud silence followed.
“Did you know something, Zoro?”
He heard Usopp ask reluctantly from somewhere. But he remained silent. There was nothing for him to add. The cook was taken and that was it.
They took Brook in. After that they held a party to celebrate.
They decided to go after the cook, wherever he was taken to.
A few days later, while they were on the high seas, heading towards the nearest marine base to gather what information they could, a newspaper came to them by post.
“Unprecedentedly violent political unrest in North Blue.”
The news didn’t say why. It was generally very vague. All they could glean from it was that the people in that region were rebelling against a powerful family who had just been reunited with an important family member. War threatened to break out.
In a corner, under the section for the marine's updates, ‘Black Leg Sanji’s’ bounty was announced to be forfeited.
Half of the crew thought there was no connection, while the other half was convinced and tried to produce evidence.
Zoro’s gaze was fixed at the blue sea. He couldn’t bring himself to care.
He needed to become stronger.
He didn’t know that he was still alive until he realised that he was still alive.
That was when he was startled to consciousness and his entire body was engulfed by an excruciating pain.
He didn’t have any memory of being carried away, of being bandaged or of being propped up in a chair. Or that someone had just slapped him across the face.
But all of those must have happened, for he was now slumping bonelessly in a high-back chair. That was what supported his body, because he did not have the least bit of energy to even move his little finger. What he could see of his body was covered in bandages and hidden beneath a black suit. A tube filled with dark liquid was plunged into the crook of his left arm which had been placed on the armrest; the rest of it was somewhere out of his view. His cheek throbbed. He was amazed that he could still acutely feel each and every single source of pain in his body, as they were all clamouring to make themselves known.
“We finally meet again, after all these years.”
A voice from in front of him said. Though his neck was hanging limply on his chest, he could tell that the owner of that voice was located right in front of him.
Damn, he could not move an inch of his body.
A hand conveniently lifted his chin, making up for his lack of movement. He passingly thought that it might be the same one as the one that had ungently called him back from darkness earlier.
He was met with the sight of a man that had always been his horror.
His own father.
“Welcome back to the family.”