Sorry for the delay. I had a bit of trouble deciding where to go as this was, in my head, one of the most important twists of my story. I had several way I wanted it to go.
I honestly just love building up relationships and then working towards a big reveal. That's why I wasn't quite sure which way to continue. Either way I will be veering off from the manga a bit more from here on. I did it a little up till now, but now I might change random small things to maybe even the bigger plot.
Besides The strawhat crew aren't the only pirates I like, be forewarned I am probably very cliché. But I like it that way.
Ketsuron to arabasta no Kokuō
It took Naruto and Robin no less than an hour to travel from the desert of Rainbase to Alubarna. They had the advantage though of travelling a la F-wani. Despite its looks though, it was still a Bananawani and it definitely knew how to swim. Helping them cross the river was definitely a boon in Naruto's eyes. Sure he could run across and even carry Robin across, but she always refused that. No matter the situation if it was her choice she would never be 'manhandled' in such a manner.
At times exceptions may be made for life and death situations though.
Soon enough they approached the city of Alubarna and moved towards the castle. The mood grew tenser by the second and neither of them was looking forward to this.
"Ne Robin, you know I ain't gonna leave you there with him alone right. Not without a way for me to get to you if you need it. Naruto murmured as he could see the corners of Robin's lips tighten up as her body tensed by the second. Without nobody else around she didn't quite feel the need to hide behind a mocking smile as she usually did. That didn't mean she wanted to project her worries though. Taking a deep breath, she tried to get rid of some of the tension building up and to try and reassure herself. She could do this, they both would.
"Of course, but you know I can take care of this right? I took all the necessary precautions to keep myself safe. Just make sure you don't get yourself pushed into a corner, alright?"
Naruto just grinned slightly at her stubborn nature before nodding. "I can't promise anything, you know I don't trust that pirate as far as I can throw him. Though that would probably not be the right expression to use in this case." Stretching his arms behind in neck in his usual nervous manner seemed to make Robin smile a little.
"I understand. Just don't make it any more difficult for yourself than it has to be."
Naruto gave her a grin that didn't really reassure her but the both of them knew they would do whatever was necessary.
That didn't mean they had to like it though.
"Mister Black, observe from the roof." Without even a glance at his face Crocodile carried a bloodied king through the hallways, having Robin follow behind him.
Nefertari Cobra groaned and was clearly in pain as he was dragged across the floor by the pirates hook. It was a pitiful sight, one that only touched him because it was the father of a certain blue haired friend of his. Despite that though there was nothing he could, or was willing to do in this situation. The risk was too high.
Not answering Crocodile and knowing that Robin wouldn't be in any danger quite yet he swiftly disappeared from sight and made his way onto the roof of the palace. From his position he could see the chaos reigning over the city. The preparations of people desperately trying to save their country from the wrong enemies. For a moment his thoughts wandered and he couldn't help but wonder how this place would have been had Crocodile never interfered the way he had. The people were passionate and culture was abound even now despite the poverty and lack of water. It didn't last long though before he heard Vivi's voice close to the edge of the castle and he was distracted once more. He could briefly hear Vivi and Chaka, whom he could recognize from Crocodiles plans as acting captain of the royal guard, discussing something.
He didn't have much time to listen before both Robin, Nefertari Cobra and Crocodile through the doors onto the terrace of the castle. Without another moment of rest for the king he was pinned to the wall by his arms and left to hang. The man was of no interest to Crocodile no longer as he turned to face the princess.
"PAPA!" Her desperate cry rang through the air almost as loudly as the royal guards call for his majesty. The man in question had trouble lifting his face after hearing the voice of his daughter. Crocodile only smirked widely with amusement.
"Well Princess, You've come all this way. Yet what did you hope to accomplish?" The man drawled condescendingly while Vivi stared in shock at the state her father was in. She seemed to be ignoring Chaka who was ordering Crocodile to step away from the king behind her.
Naruto watched impassively as he could see the anguish grow in Vivi's expression. For a moment he turned to look at Crocodile and focused on the man. Oddly ashamed of himself, yet not allowing it to Blindsight himself.
Robin notice from the corner of her eyes and frowned lightly but didn't react in any other way, focusing on the situation in front of her for the moment.
"The only reason you even got here Miss Wednesday," The man continued without a care. "Is because of that group of pirates, is it not?" The implications Crocodile was making weren't lost on Vivi as her frustration grew.
"WHERE IS LUFFY!" Vivi's shrill voice popped Naruto's ear immediately and he went to cover them in a split second. Man that girl had as set of lungs! It didn't help that she yelled another denial not moments later when the man implied having gotten rid of Luffy.
For another moment Naruto kept his ears covered only removing his hands when it seemed his eardrums wouldn't be exploding at random moments. When he rejoined the discussion, not that he was really participating at the moment, it seemed to have shifted towards a more serious subject. One that both interested him and disgusted him.
"Where is Pluton!"
The king's eyes immediately cleared up as the man heard that horrible name. The pain seemed to no longer bother him as a more important task stood before him.
"How do you know that name?!"
"HAHAHAHA, so it is here. Pluton the ancient weapon, said to be able to make an entire island disappear with one use." The man spread his arms wide as if imagining the power that he would soon obtain. "I can build the strongest military country here!"
The king briefly glanced at both Robin and Naruto before closing his eyes tightly and clenching his fists, despite the pain. Almost as if realizing how perilous the situation might really be.
"A weapon?" Naruto could briefly hear Vivi murmur in confusion. While Chaka behind her wondered if it was passed down throughout the royal family.
"If I have that power UTOPIA will become reality!" A wide smile spread across Crocodile's face in excitement. His cigar moving to the corners of his mouth.
The king's eyes reopened and a fierce glare was turned towards the government sanctioned pirate. " The world government would never allow that!" As if trying to pin Crocodile in place the man's determination increased even further. "I would never allow that."
But unaffected by the kings very impressive statement Crocodile smirked as if having expected it. Though knowing King Cobra's reputation, that might actually be the case. "Hmm that's how it goes.." Casually moving a few paces towards the man he casually blew some of the smoke from his cigar into Cobra's face, forcing the man to turn his face away.
"This afternoon at 4 o'clock, approximately 30 minutes from now a very powerful bomb will be swallowing up everything within a range of about 5 kilometers." Seeing the growing horror on all three Arabastans his smirk only grew. "Well considering the fight should be starting soon not much should be left over either way."
"WHAT HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVER DONE TO YOU, YOU HORRIBLE MONSTER" Vivi's pale face and pants piercing through the air. Chaka held her back from attacking Crocodile but it was a near thing.
Naruto watched the ongoing silently. Strangely enough not feeling the need to cover his ears this time. He felt the pain was almost appropriate to the situations, as if it was what he deserved for watching, and he wholeheartedly agreed with that sentiment. Silently he vowed to do something about that bomb if he had the time. It would probably be one of the only things he might be able to do, he had an inkling as to where Crocodile probably would have placed it.
"If…" The almost silent murmur of the king brought back everyone's attention to the subject at hand. Crocodiles arrogant smirk only returned after Vivi's little outburst had seemed to bore the man. Everything was going according to plan.
"If I take you there will you stop the bomb?" Even as he grounded out the question the man realized his position and sighed loudly, knowing he would have to.
"AS EXPECTED OF THE FAIR KING COBRA, you know your job." Waving for Robin to release the man binds, Crocodile roughly picked the man up before moving to drag him back inside. Before the man could take so much a step though Naruto stood from his squatting position as the gates to the palace terrace flung open. He took a deep breath in preparation and hardened himself.
"RELEASE THE KING NOW!" The group of four men repeated loudly. Naruto could recognize them as the special guards, also known as the duck claw squad. Honestly a group that did have above average training but weren't too impressive for the grand line.
There were four men each wearing the same Arabastan outfit. Though their body sizes seemed to differ tremendously.
Barrel was very fat, using an mace as a weapon. While their leader, Hyota seemed the typical buff type with a beard and holding one sided sword. Brahm, whom Naruto had heard didn't usually talk, was a relatively small man compared to the other, and was using two pole-arms. And lastly the longest of the bunch was Arrow, with a very pointed chin, he was wielding a double-edged sword.
The entire group seemed to be ready to attack but Naruto didn't have to watch for long to see how this would turn out. For a moment he wondered if he could help them survive before deciding that it depended on how Crocodile would act. Maybe he could do it for Vivi if the opportunity presented itself, but for now he got ready.
As soon as the men attacked he moved to intercept them. He ignored Vivi's gasp and murmur of 'Naruto' before turning back to smirk at Crocodile. "I think you can take the ol'king up on his invitation now. Even now the clock is ticking." The man just clicked his tongue briefly as if disappointed before turning to face Robin.
"Mister Black, keep them from following. We're going Miss All Sunday" Without another glance the three of them moved into the castle and the door closed behind them. With the confirmation of Vivi actually remembering him he turned to face her from where he was standing in their way. He could see she was about to say something, tears in her eyes from all of the frustration that had continued to build up once more.
"CROOOOOOCOOOOOOOODILE!" Without a single warning a shadow appeared from the distance. Naruto could see Luffy flying on Pell's back and they were moving in their direction at high speeds. Keeping his eye on the unpredictable captain he jumped away from his confrontation with the four guards with a wide grin pointed at the group.
Without glancing Vivi's way he rushed at the half dying soldier trying to force their way past him. Without further ado he forced another 4 pills into the mouths of each soldiers mouth before swiftly avoiding their coordinated attack and moving to stand behind the group.
He couldn't help but grin in amusement as he watched Luffy comically spray Crocodile with water before Pell and Luffy pushed the man of the ledge during their flight. Seemingly taking their battle away from the castle.
Naruto didn't know what the captain was planning but at least he was actually thinking for once. Leaving that fight for what it is, he nodded discreetly to Robin. She smiled slightly before pulling the king with her as he lead her towards the poneglyph, hopefully the right one.
When that was all settled he focused on his own four opponents. He swiftly maneuvered himself in between the group and hit each man at a pressure point to have them lose consciousness. Smooth and effective. He tried to make it look excessively aggressive as he could, hoping the last guard wouldn't catch on and almost smiled when he could almost feel the anger burning within Chaka. It didn't help that he was smirking as if this was his favorite past-time.
Almost as if he had predicted it, Chaka rushed to attack him in his anger and quickly activated his devil fruit. It became clear that the man had eaten the inu-inu no mi, Model: Jackal. Almost as If scripted both royal guards Pell and Chaka had eaten fruits based on the guardians of this country.
Unbothered by all of this Naruto intercepted the attack calmly blocking the man's sword with his kunai. It was a heavy hit and he had to parry the force away before the kunai would break. But while the man was in another league compared to the group of four he'd just fought, he didn't have the speeds, strength and calmness to compete with Naruto. The man had years of experience to access but in his anger he was making basic mistakes and Naruto was using them to his leisure.
He kept on parrying the man's sword until the opportunity came for him to return the favor. Chaka had overextended his sword in a large arc over his head and with Naruto's speed it would take the man too much time to be able to block his next move.
He was about to knock the man out when a familiar figure stepped foolishly in between them. He immediately shifted his attack to only scratch the surface of her cheek. Realizing quickly that with the weight of Chaka's sword he wouldn't be able to avoid hitting Vivi he pulled he down by the hair and blocked the sword with his arm. Gritting his teeth as it cut deeply into his arm, he managed to lock his muscles and gather some chakra to protect his arm from major damage but he wouldn't be using it anytime soon.
Having avoided that disaster he didn't take another moment to gather some distance between them before failing to hold back a temper he hadn't even realized he was holding back.
"Are you crazy Vivi, what the hell was that!?" Not even censuring his mouth he let out a few swearwords before sighing deeply and squatting down for a moment. Purposely ignoring the surroundings for a moment he grabbed a loose bandage and began wrapping it tightly around his arm to staunch the blood. It would stop bleeding soon and start healing as his wound always did, but he wouldn't het much use out of that arm for a while to say the least. It was a nasty place to have wound and he could feel that the bone might a cracked just a little due to the direct impact and the fact he wasn't focusing on much besides not losing his arm.
"Excuse me!?" Vivi returned just as hotly while he was ignoring her. "I was trying to stop you guys from fighting but oh no, nobody listens!" The frustration seemed to be getting to her as well.
"Besides what the hell are you doing Naruto!"
The use of his name had him looking up at her. He could see tears appearing in her eyes and could feel his temper fly away at the sight of them. He sighed before standing up, tying up the knots for his wound before turning to face her properly. Giving the teen a sardonic grin he held out his arm.
"What does it look like Vivi?" He knew his grin was anything but friendly at the moment but that was the picture he was trying to portray. Vivi didn't seem to take notice of it though and looked straight into his eyes.
"Does it look like I'm here to play games and make friends." His voice hardened out as his stance became a bit more defensive and dismissive. Vivi just kept staring at him for a moment before suddenly smiling.
"Naruto" With an almost gentle voice she took a step forward and as if threatened Naruto took an equivalent step back, making her stop as well. She frowned slightly before standing there.
"Naruto, you know what everyone said when I told them?" Naruto frowned, that was something he didn't really want to know if he was honest. It couldn't be anything good, but then why was she smiling? Chaka stood in the background looking confused but almost as if grateful for Naruto having stopped him he was watching his princess take over the situation.
The man noticed that Mr. Black and Vivi knew each other. But he didn't know why, did they meet when she was undercover in the organization? If so how and why was a man known for his absolute loyalty to Crocodile acting like this?
"You know. Zoro was suspicious of you." She had to hold back a smile when she saw a bit of hurt bleed through Naruto's expressive blue eyes. She'd noticed that while the fox was extremely good at hiding his feeling when he was around them they just weren't to be hidden. As if they had some sort of secret code that let them access further that the shallows that was Naruto's mind. It was fascinating but also heartwarming to know that they were only a few out of a very select group of people to be allowed in. Even if at times it didn't quite seem that way.
"But it didn't take us long at all to figure out why you left." Ignoring the surprise on his whiskered face she continued on. Huh he had whiskers. "Remember what you said to Ace?" She couldn't help but giggle at the put off expression she could glimpse. Yeah he remembered.
Naruto had just known that was going to come back at it at some point.
"We figured you had someone you wouldn't leave behind. I guess Miss Sunday is someone important to you?" Figuring that since they knew already it wouldn't matter he nodded. Vivi just smiled.
"Even Zoro had to admit he didn't particularly want you to leave. He just didn't want to put you in a position where you had to choose and took on a neutral position. If anything we all agreed on one thing." Naruto couldn't help but remember that first day he met Vivi as a fox. She and Nami held the same evil smiles they had worn when they had essentially 'kidnapped' him aboard as she did now. He couldn't help but feel slightly nervous of the teen. "Uhh do I get a say in this?" He asked waveringly.
She just shook her head with that horribly scary angelic smile, "Nope. We decided that after this we would definitely drag your ass back to the ship. And you don't get to say anything about it."
That wasn't what Naruto was expecting.
Like at all.
Really how do you react to something like that.
For a moment he just stared at the princess before he finally started to think again. It didn't take very long for the one thing to happen that he couldn't even seem to hide as a fox. His skin reddened down from his neck up to his ears. It wasn't very noticeable but well someone was sort of used to it by now.
"Hahaha, really? If there was any doubt then I guess that's it."
If anything that just made him feel more embarrassed but yeah. He was about to retort when he heard a pair of footsteps steadily closing in from a distance.
"Vivi!" He could see the rebellion leader Kohza make his way to where they were standing. Not really feeling up to watching drama enfold, he moved to turn away. Or at least tried to before his arm was grabbed an he was pulled back to where he was standing.
Sighing deeply he turned to face the blue haired teen who seemed to have a knack for grabbing him. He raised an eyebrow but she just stuck he tongue out at him before turning back to her childhood friend.
"Kohza! Why are you here?!" The man stopped in front of her, briefly locking eyes with their interlocking arms before frowning lightly. Naruto couldn't help but snicker a little. The man's glare was impressive but nothing he took notice of.
"Vivi where is the king? I need to speak with him, we need to get him to stand down!" It seemed the man didn't yet know the truth about anything. Sighing deeply he pulled his arm away from the princess before sternly turning away again. He had a job to do. Several in fact.
"Vivi." She turned to him, taking notice of the change in tone and seeing his serious attitude.
"Why don't you summarize the situation to this idiot and move on. If you want this city to stay alive I suggest looking at the clocktower. Seems the appropriate size." He began to walk towards the door. Before she could say anything else he turn towards her one last time with a slightly sad smile. "About what you said before, I am grateful. But don't expect it to be easy. We know what we did and we don't intend to return. This world is a more cruel place than you think and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Just be careful okay?"
For a moment it seemed as if she was going to react but in the end she settled for a sharp nod before turning to face Kohza and swiftly explaining the situation. Naruto didn't even have to stay to know that the man would believe her, given their longtime relationship and his infatuation, he honestly didn't expect anything else.
Running swiftly through the hallways he was hoping he hadn't spent too much time. He could faintly recognize the feel of Robin and began to navigate his way through the castle. They wouldn't have long before somebody followed behind. Whether Crocodile, the marine or some other person. Luckily it didn't take him long to find her and the king sitting in what looked to be a tomb. Naruto could see the wonder hidden in Robin's eyes even with the poneglyph standing in the middle of the room.
Briefly he tried sensing Crocodile and noticed the pirate was still busy fighting Luffy. They were close by, probably just outside of maybe having entered the building at some point. But they should have a bit of time.
"Hey Robin." She turned around with a more loose expression on her face before a blinding smile appeared. Almost uncaring of any bystanders and Naruto could see Cobra was surprised. But he too felt more relaxed without the shichibukai hanging about during this crucial moment.
"So How old is this building?" Naruto asked curious about the beautiful yet clearly old tomb. It was kept in an amazing state but he could see the wear on the art works on the wall and the colors were fading at a lot of places.
Robin held out her hand to touch one of the walls before looking upwards at the giant mural painted on the ceiling. A lot was slowly chipping off but for her estimates she knew it was in a wonderful state. Really Arabasta was a wonderful country for caring about their history like that. She turned to face Naruto.
"I'm estimating approximately 4000 years." Naruto whistled with amazement. "That's a long time." He turned towards the king looking thoughtful. "You guys must really care about your history." He said trailing the thought Robin had.
The kings looked surprised but recovered quickly and looked around briefly with a strained expression. "I do not know what exactly this place is. But it has always been passed down that it is important and should be taken care of and hidden away." Naruto nodded in agreement before looking at Robin.
They shared eye contact and Robin nodded. She'd memorized everything the poneglyph said unchanged. Now it was his turn. Turning back to the king Naruto looked at the man for a moment before deciding he didn't care. The man was as honorable as they came.
Leaving the man alone Naruto moved to stand next to Robin in front of the mural. Hopefully this would be it.
Everything they had been working towards for the last three years.
"Good luck" Robin whispered before he moved his hand to touch the poneglyph.
Without a moment to spare he felt the same sensations he'd felt years ago. His eyes began to glow a fiery red while the same hue began to spread from his hand across the poneglyph. A strange frustration began to fill him up along with a desire to fix it. His thought became hazy yet unerringly clear and slowly the encryptions began to leave the mural to float across the room.
Different patterns were swimming across the chamber dancing amongst one another. One by one he recalled each of them to place them back on the poneglyph. The itch becoming progressively less with every glyph he returned.
Once they had all returned he took a step back and the poneglyph stopped glowing. Seemingly settling into its new state. Strangely enough this felt right to Naruto, as if this was its original state. The way it should be. It was almost as if he could feel the satisfaction radiating from the material itself.
It took a little while for the glow to fade from his eyes. But as soon as his eyes returned to their normal sky blue self, he couldn't help but collapse to the ground.
"Naruto!" Robin moved to catch him. While she helped, he too steadied himself on the ground. He felt okay though.
"I'm fine Robin. Just tired. I think this just take a lot of energy." He sat there for a few moment before feeling steady once more. After a few more minutes he felt good enough to stand back up, his energy slowly replenishing. Not immediately but enough that he was in no more danger of fainting.
Robin seemed relieved that he was alright and that this didn't go as it had when they were kids. She acted brave but if she had to get both her and an unconscious Naruto out of here, she didn't thinks she would succeed. Knowing he was fine now, Robin moved to read the newly rearranged poneglyph.
"What the hell was that?!" Naruto groaned, Oh yeah the old man was there as well. Well he obviously wasn't gonna tell him anything. Ignoring the man Naruto went to sit next to the other side of the door where he could see the entire room. Despite being fine he was a little tired, being tired didn't make him any less cautious though and he definitely didn't miss the approach of a certain person moving through the hallways.
"So this is the "true history" then, Nico Robin?"