It was in the summer of the year ---- that I first took to sea, following in the footsteps of my idol and exemplar, Captain Shanks. Though I had not seen him since our last meeting some ten years before, his face was still fresh in my memory; his bright eyes, his quick movements, his missing arm, lost in the tragedy when that squamous thing came slithering out of the noisome deeps . . .
Forgive me. The events which I am about to relate have given me a horror of the sea; that place of darkness, that long bourne from which no traveller returns, which hides secrets deeper and more ghastly than even the most perfervid of writers can imagine, let alone write down; that tossing foulness which shelters unimaginable horrors beneath its innocent waves; those waters which concealed the thing known only as PLUTON.
But I digress. It was, as I have said, the summer when I took to sea, and fell into company with a young fellow called Kobby, who had ambitions of taking service with the Marines. Ah, what innocent joy sparkled in his manly young eyes! What lust for devotion and service animated his heart! I took some solace in his presence, and for a while was able to forget that letter which has marked my name since I was born -- the letter D.
Soon after meeting him under conditions which I may some day describe (ah, the floating opium parlour of that woman of mystery! Could she have been the Bloated Woman, that infamous avatar of Nyarlathotep?) we found ourselves encountering the ominous Captain Morgan, with his infamous metal jaw and axe carved with symbols which man was not meant to know. I was fortunate enough to make an ally of the famous detective Roronoa Zoro, noted for his numerous arrests of criminals and occasional bringing them in alive. Though somewhat concerned by his strangely green hair, the oddly shaped earrings which he wore, the way he would emerge from battles covered in blood and licking his lips, and his habit of chewing on the hilts of his blades while whimpering, "Ia!" at night, I decided that such minor points could easily be overlooked in so robust and muscular a colleague.
Disposing of the blasphemous statue which Captain Morgan had ordered erected, and smashing it into a thousand pieces to remove all traces of the abhuman inscriptions painstakingly carved upon the plinth in tongues long-forgotten, and parting company with young Kobby (who I believe is now rising in the Marines -- ah, happy days of sanity! Happy hours when there seemed nothing better than the open sea, the joy of travel and discovery, the pleasures of the fresh air and rolling wave! -- but I fear that I digress again), Zoro and I continued upon our journey.
At our next stop, we were fortunate enough to gain another comrade. This young lady, Nami, was an expert cartographer and artist -- indeed, many was the pleasant hour which she whiled away sketching Zoro and myself, though for some reason she had a great preference for the nude form. We encountered her fleeing the cultists of the Dismembered God, B'hug'hi. After disposing of his half-animal, half-human minions, we found ourselves required to face down the Dismembered God himself. The pieces were disposed of, and I understand that his cultists now hunt them down across the world. (They may have some difficulty, given the Osirian relic which I added to my collection of unholy items. But that is another story.)
After this, we came upon the island of Professor Usopp, the famous author of "The Dynamics Of A Catapult", and he was delighted to join our team. There was some small difficulty in the area with a murderous psychopathic knife-wielding killer by night, obviously worshipping Nyarlathotep, together with his mesmerised followers and his minion the Treader of the Moon, involving an intent to summon one of the Great Old Ones through the sacrifice of a local virgin heiress, but through the assistance of Professor Usopp and the gallantry of our team, we were able to cleanse the island of the unclean filth with which it had been polluted. The young lady was kind enough to donate a ship to assist our group's explorations, and we set off again in search of the Grand Line.
I had for a while been lamenting the lack of a cook aboard our ship, as it is well known that the life of an investigator and pirate demands a frequent and full diet of meat -- raw, red meat -- ahem, excuse me a moment. Yes, meat, fresh meat, was ever before my eyes, and it was fortunate indeed that we arrived at the Baratie restaurant, as for some reason my crewmates had grown strangely averse to my company and to the way that I would urge them to gain weight.
In any case, once we had come to the Baratie I instantly came to like the young chef Sanji, a man of evident talent and vision. He had been trained under the notorious Red Foot Zeff, whose habit of trampling questionable vintages under a gibbous moon had given him his name, and had pursued a refined and strenuous course of training. I could ask for no better! Unfortunately, the hiring process was interrupted by the arrival of the master swordsman Nyarlathotep -- ah, that is, Mihawk -- and the pirate Don Krieg, whose starving crew besieged the Baratie like so many hungry rats. (The rats! The rats in the walls!) Since the situation was further confused by the rapid departure of Nami, together with our boat and treasure, I was obliged to cut matters short, and soon I was waving goodbye to the Baratie with Sanji. The crew smiled and waved as we departed, their filed teeth glinting in the setting sun, and Sanji whistled happily as he stowed his collection of cooking knives below decks and the scent of roasting pork came drifting from the Baratie on the afternoon breeze.
When we caught up with Nami, it was with the utmost horror that I discovered the ghastly secret of that small village by the sea from which she had come. It had been conquered by Arlong, a leader of the Deep Ones, and those batrachian monstrosities levied a reign of terror over the surrounding countryside. Although Nami had done her best to chase away Usopp and Zoro by feigning repeated attempts to kill them (Zoro laughingly scoffed at how she had affected to stab Usopp in the side and wiggle the blade about, though proved surprisingly reticent about her visit to himself in the Deep Ones' moist and dripping dungeon), they had remained constant, being sure of her true nature and honest heart. It was with great pleasure that I led our team in finally disposing of the Deep Ones, casting them back into the sea, and I am quite sure that they will never emerge again. Nami's friends and family bade her goodbye in an affecting scene where they begged her many times to return to them "before it was too late" -- ah, the affectionate ties that bind families together!
Pressing on, we soon arrived at Roguetown, an ancient port city where strange men and creatures met under the dark of the moon, where odd ceremonies were repeated in shadows, and where ancient gods were worshipped in ways that no sane human mind could bear to know or understand. Much though I would have liked to stay there and pursue my researches into the fatal D which marks my name, we were assailed by minions of the Dismembered God, and then pursued by members of the Marines who quite failed to understand the situation, and who assumed that we had some connection with the unfortunate goings-on. One step ahead of the paranoid drug addict Colonel Smoker and his assistant the obsessive collector Lieutenant Tashigi (well known for the number of owners of famous swords who had suffered fatal accidents while in her custody) we left town at speed, buoyed on the wings of the approaching storm. I was troubled at this time, disturbed by the words of the mysterious Dragon who had freed me as I squirmed under the weight of Colonel Smoker. Had I known at that time what the truth of his words and my name had been, would I have continued on this doomed mission? Who can say?
Following a map traced in the depths of antiquity, limned by no mortal hand, and confronting monsters whose mere shadow placed unbearable stresses upon mortal sanity -- ia! Ia fthagn! -- we succeeded in reaching the Grand Line. The thing which confronted us, Laboon, the Dweller at the Threshold, a manifestation of Yog-Sothoth itself, beat its head in vain against the cliffs as we sailed triumphantly on past it and into the clutches of the abominable conspiracy which dwelt upon Whiskey Peak, also known as the Plateau of Leng.
Perhaps we were mistaken. Perhaps we trusted too freely. At the time, it seemed the only reasonable thing to do, when we were received with such civility by so many cheerful natives in their colourful costumes, offering us their quaint local food and drink. Overcome with emotion, I ate a little too much of their charming dishes and retired while the party was still continuing. Imagine my shock when I awoke later to the sound of screams and gunfire, and stepped outside to find the village soaked in blood! It seemed that the villagers had been part of a ghastly cult known only as Baroque Works, a secret organisation which stretched its monstrous tentacles across the world, a hidden group whose plans went so far as to dream of rousing the Great Old Ones themselves! Fortunately Zoro had become suspicious of them, due to some past encounter which he was charmingly reluctant to discuss, and had been waiting for their inevitable assault. As he cleaned the blood from his swords, hair, and earrings, he explained that they had charged in frenzied drug-induced waves, driven on by the weird horn-tones of the saxophone played by the mysterious man with curly hair. (Could he have been an avatar of Nyarlathotep? Time alone would tell.)
I then found that Nami had promised our aid to one of the conspiracy, who turned out to be the Princess of Alabasta who had joined Baroque Works in order to infiltrate it and discover their true objective. (She had been linked to the curly-haired man, who was evidently not an avatar of Nyarlathotep. A simple enough mistake.) While being slightly confused about the mechanics of precisely who was betraying and investigating whom, I had absolute faith in my crewmates, and was glad to accept their suggestions on the matter. I left Nami to carry her newly-acquired bag of oddly shaped whitish gold jewellery back to the ship, and went with Zoro to dispose of a pair of strangely deformed assassins who had just arrived. Leaving behind the corpse-strewn streets of the shattered, smoking town, we sailed away on our mission of mercy to Alabasta. The Princess Vivi accompanied us, together with her anatine familiar, a giant quacking thing whose malicious small eyes seemed to forebode a nameless evil.
After a mysterious encounter on the way with the woman known only as Miss AllSunday (clearly an avatar of Nyarlathotep) and her spreading arms, we paused at an island named Little Garden. That name itself should have been enough to reveal its true nature to me -- an abhorrent place, a wilderness of foul nature, blessed (or cursed) by Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, where monsters from the past prowled the woods and creatures that history should long have forgotten squirmed and writhed amid the darkly encircling trees. Two giants had been duelling there since time immemorial, and while Usopp took an enthusiast's interest in their primitive customs, we were soon disturbed by other visitors to the island. More of the agents from Baroque Works had come in pursuit of Vivi; a foul practitioner of unclean waxworks, and an insane painter whose work was marked by the Yellow Sign. It was only with great effort that we managed to repel them, and the resulting battle nearly cost our lives, together with Zoro's feet. (Sanji was not present, but emerged from the jungle a while later, licking his lips.)
Heading on to Alabasta, our journey was interrupted by Nami's sudden illness. Ignoring her claims that she would be well soon, and her sloping forehead, her protruding eyes, and her sudden enthusiasm for long swims, we took her for her own good to the nearest convenient doctor. Battling our way up the frosty slopes of the mountains, with Sanji fighting off the hideous lapine monsters that howled their praises to the Wendigo, we found shelter in the home of an ancient, withered expert (I dared not ask by what arts she kept her comparative youth and vigour, or what strange liquid was in the flask from which she drank so frequently) who kept a strangely deformed pet named only Tony Tony Chopper.
Fighting off the assaults of the perverse king that had once ruled that land, changed through the action of a Devil Fruit to a gibbering, mouthing creature which leered and swallowed with unthinkable hunger, chewing and slavering as it hurled itself at living and unliving alike . . . the very image still torments me. Dispatching it into orbit (where hopefully the dead cold of space will put an end to its ceaseless chomping) we continued on; I invited the ancient scholar's pet to join us, feeling that its knowledge of anatomy could be useful. Tony was eager to accompany us, and struck up an instant bond with Sanji and with Professor Usopp, studying the former's knives and the latter's tomes of dimensional science with occasionally worrying eagerness; Sanji, for his part, spoke wistfully of marinades, pot roasts, and spare ribs.
At last we arrived at Alabasta. The country was stricken by drought, parched and arid; old men toiled in the sand (see my notes on Quachil Uttaus, the Treader of the Dust) in search of a few drops of water, while young ones promised fealty to nameless gods and vowed revolution in lewd and obscene practices which I watched with binoculars in order to further my researches. Indeed, had I not been interrupted by the pursuit of Colonel Smoker and his fanatical Marines, not to mention an unexpected meeting with my brother Portugas D. Ace, the Cthughtha-worshipper, fond of dancing round bonfires while chanting strange rituals, who had long since sworn his fealty and sanity away in service to the mystic Whitebeard, feared avatar of Nyarlathotep . . .
(You may ask why I have never mentioned my brother before in these chronicles, given that he shares my dreaded D and was so great an inspiration to me in my childhood. Those answers lie behind a sealed door of youthful rivalry, mutual aspiration, and the way which he cruelly left me behind when he set off to seek a life of adventure, leaving me behind to stagnate in misery, pausing only to burn down half the village on the way. Strange oils sleek the muscles of his chest, rendered down from creatures which have not been seen on this earth since the depths of time.)
Making our way across the sandy desert, viewing the ancient tombs in the distance, we toiled across the burning sands, each weary step a reminder of the ancient years that slumbered beneath the dusts of Alabasta. Toiling our weary way, we came at last to the city that housed the central lair of Crocodile, reincarnation of the Black Pharaoh, avatar of Nyarlathotep, Lord of the Sands, and secret head of Baroque Works. Despite my best attempts at infiltrating subtly and discreetly, we found ourselves pursued hotly across the city by Colonel Smoker (I have yet to establish how he managed to track us, but suspect that his drug-sharpened wits may have given him insane insights into our movements) and his obsessive assistant. Forced into action, I found myself fooled by Crocodile's boundless guile and malignity, entrapped by a devious plot which few could have anticipated, and none of them human!
After explaining the full horrors of his plot to ravage the country, seize power, and several other points (I admit that I did not pay full attention to his discourse, being too busy attempting to wrench apart the bars of our cell with my bare hands and teeth) Crocodile strode away, casting the key to our captivity into the jaws of the bananacrocodiles below. Fortunately, our group was saved by Sanji and Chopper, who had managed to evade Crocodile's clutches. Sanji kicked aside the heaving green flanks of the squamous slavering bananacrocodiles, his left eye (as ever) hidden beneath his waves of golden hair, his leg muscles rippling with his every step -- ah, it brings back the days of my youth to recollect those happy hours. We swiftly made our escape, dragging along the fuming Colonel Smoker out of pure compassion and charitable impulse.
I will not go into details about the following battles, save that Crocodile flung monstrosity after monstrosity and insane minion after insane minion against us, each more twisted than the last. How can I fully describe the horrors of the Steel Man and the Spiked Woman? The Burrower Beneath and the Barking Gun? That thing, that abominable thing with the pompoms and the swans? Suffice it to say that through our labour and the bravery of Vivi and her friends, the tide was turned, and Crocodile was given into the hands of the Marines for crimes against the civil order. (After all, who could believe the horrid truth about his ghastly schemes to bring about the return of the Old Ones through his manipulation of the super-weapon PLUTON?)
On our way out, we found that the archaeologist Nico Robin, previously known as Miss AllSunday, had stowed away belowdecks. While the others were suspicious of her presence, I of all people know the thin line between sanity and insanity, and how easy it is to slip into worship of the Great Old Ones, devoting one's self to nameless horrors, howling at the moon and practicing bloody sacrifices under the night sky, waiting for that moment when the stars should be right and They should come again . . . that is, I could feel some sympathy for her position, and with the assistance of Sanji, whose one visible eye lingered fondly on her sleek body, and Nami, who held frequent private conversations with Nico Robin concerning vast underwater civilisations and the glory and wealth of ancient Y'ha-nthlei, the others were persuaded to accept her as a companion.
Would that we had ceased our explorations then, in our hour of triumph! Would that enough had been enough! If only I could turn time back to those halcyon hours, when I rested happily on our ship's figurehead and could look across the deck at my laughing crew; Robin studying some arcane tome, Usopp building strange non-Euclidean catapults, Nami sketching abyssal depth plans, Chopper (how prophetic a name in retrospect!) drawing little dotted lines on schematics of the human body, Sanji providing cocktails made from strange liquors that came from the tombs of long-dead pirates and the abominable milk of Shub-Niggurath, and Zoro deep in dreaming, his body shuddering in rhythmic muscular spasms as he clutched at the hilts of his swords and moaned.
But no -- the dreaded future came to pass, the curse of D descended, and PLUTON was unleashed upon the world. I remember those farewells to each of my friends! Nami, as she dived beneath the waters with her batrachian kin, croaking and gibbering from her strangely altered mouth as they disappeared under the waves. Robin, waving a last goodbye as she stepped into the mouth of the ancient tomb from which she never returned, and the echoing ecstatic screams that haunted that valley for weeks afterwards. Sanji's return to the Baratie for his final initiation into their mystical Tcho-tcho rites, carrying a neatly trussed and wriggling Zoro over one shoulder. Tony Tony Chopper's eye-burning metamorphosis which I still cannot bring myself to fully describe. Usopp's refitting of the Going Merry for spatial voyages, and his final flight beyond the horizon through a Gate which twisted and folded all normal concepts of space and time. And the others; Colonel Smoker, last heard of in the throes of tobacco withdrawal on a remote island, raving for cigars; Lieutenant Tashigi, retired to a mansion to pursue her private studies into the history of certain ancient swords; my brother Ace, my poor brother, last heard of at the scene of the Seven Corsairs Conflagration . . .
Through the barred window of my room in the asylum, I can see a distant shadow pass across the moon. Is it -- can it be -- yes! I recognise that monstrous, deformed figurehead, that billowing sail! I hear the cries of my comrades calling me to join them! Fools, to think that these bars could hold me back! I will sail beyond the horizon! I am the king of pirates! D! Ia! Ia Gol D Roger! The wind . . . the wind in my hair . . .
This document is the last statement of Monkey D Luffy, and was found in his empty room. No traces of the Pirate King's body were discovered, though the tree outside showed traces of extreme pressure on the branches, as though someone had been attempting a Gomu Gomu Catapult in the direction of outer space . . .