Luffy was bored. He had exhausted all possible forms of entertainment, and now he was bored. A bored Luffy was a Luffy to be wary of, particularly on a slow day with no hope of adventure in sight at midday halfway between lunch and dinner. Nothing good would come of this.
Nothing good involved doing weird things to Zoro while he slept. Among these things were laying on top of him and staring at him for a while, stacking things on him, putting shaving cream in one of his hands, spreading mustard on his upper lip, moving his swords from his right side to his left, trapping him by putting tall stacks of Robin's books around him, scrawling the words "I'm a doofus" (with dubious spelling and punctuation) across his chest in a marker pilfered from Usopp, decorating his face with Nami's makeup, plucking single hairs from his head, and finally tickling his face with a feather and running for the metaphorical hills.
Various ires were awakened and wraths incurred as a result. Sanji was not pleased with the use of food products for swordsman tormenting purposes, no matter how entertaining, and Nami was rather upset at the use of her makeup. Robin suggested a grounding from discussing pranks with Usopp, a policy which was swiftly enacted.
And thus, again, Luffy was bored. Considering that Nami was tanning and Robin was reading and Sanji was cooking and Chopper was working and Zoro was pointedly off limits, his options were limited. He toyed with the idea of playing "how far can I stretch myself", but the last time he had accidentally smacked Sanji in the head with his foot on the rebound and Bad Things had happened. It was at this point that Usopp walked by on his way to the galley.
"Usooooopp," Luffy whined, stretching a hand up from his bored sprawl on the deck and tugging on the sniper's pant leg. "I'm booooored."
"Yeeeah, I know," Usopp said, glancing warily in Nami's direction as he attempted to extricate his leg from Luffy's grip. "But I'm not allowed to talk to you right now so um, I gotta go. Why don't you…uh…tell yourself a story or something?"
"You're not allowed to talk to me about pranks," Luffy corrected, sitting up and pulling more insistently on Usopp's coveralls. "Why don't you tell me a story? I like yours better."
Well, how could the Great Captain Usopp turn down an opportunity to showcase his storytelling skill? He shot one more glance in Nami's direction and crooked one finger at Luffy, beckoning him to the other side of the ship, near the mikan trees. Luffy got up and followed as quietly as possible, as per Usopp's frantic hand-waving instructions. He flopped down under one of the trees and crossed his legs as Usopp assumed a proper storytelling position.
"Okay," Usopp announced, clearing his throat. "Once upon a time, there was a brave knight who protected a great kingdom. One day—"
"What was his name?"
"He was the Brave Knight Usopp, of course."
"Anyway. One day, the prince of the Strawhat Kingdom was captured, and only the Brave Knight Usopp could save him. So he saddled his trusty steed, Merry, and set off to rescue the prince."
"What was the prince called?"
"Anyway! Usopp the brave knight set off from the Strawhat Kingdom to find his prince. First, he traveled deep into the enchanted forest to find its keeper, the Great Witch Robin, who was very smart and knew everything that went on in and near her forest, and could tell him where Prince Luffy had been taken. So he rode for days on his trusty steed, facing terrible beats and murderous cutthroats to reach the witch's fortress."
"Wooow, that's really brave of him!"
"I know. That's why he's called the Brave Night Usopp. So anyway, finally, tired and cold and hungry and wet because it always rains in the enchanted forest, the Brave Knight Usopp reached the witch's fortress. He tied his faithful horse up by the front gate and knocked on the giant door.
'Let me in!' cried the knight. 'I need to speak to the witch, so that I can find my prince who has been stolen from his kingdom!'
A moment passed, and no one answered. Just as the brave knight began to think that all was lost and that he would have to search the world for his prince alone, a voice called out from inside the fortress:
'Come in,' the voice said from deep within the walls, 'but wipe your feet on the mat first; I just had the carpet cleaned.' So the knight opened the door, and—"
"Usopp, witches don't really care if you get their carpets dirty, do they?"
"Sure they do. Well, this one did. I know, because one time I—er, the brave Knight Usopp had been there once before and accidentally got greasepaint on the cover of one of her books of arcane knowledge, and she wasn't all that happy. So witches like to have their stuff clean."
"As I was saying, the Brave Knight Usopp opened the door and entered the fortress, being sure to wipe his feet on the mat, and made his way down the dark and dusty corridors—"
"I thought you said witches like their stuff to be clean."
"Well, the dust is just for effect, you see. Witches like to create an aura of mystery, and for that you have to make it look like you don't come out of your inner chambers much."
"So anyway, the brave knight ventured into those inner chambers I mentioned and went through a curtain made of spider webs and magic, and inside that room sat the witch, reading a giant, old book filled with dark secrets."
"Was she wearing a pointy hat?"
"Sure. A pointy hat and pointy shoes, and a cape, and a dress made of black velvet and lace and jewelry made of enchanted ice that never melted. And she looked up when the knight came in, but she didn't close her book, because it was very big and she didn't want to lose her page.
'Sit down,' said the Great Witch Robin, and the Brave Knight Usopp sat down. 'I know that you have come to find your prince,' she said, and she used her magic powers to create some extra hands to get herself a bookmark and put the giant book back on its shelf. The knight wasn't all that impressed, of course, because he'd seen much grander displays of magic in his time.
'That's right,' the knight replied solemnly. 'I want you to use your magic to help me find him, because while I can spend eternity looking for him, I don't think he wants to wait that long to be found.'
'I understand,' said the witch, and she waved her magic extra hands over her crystal ball until the smoke swirled in its depths and a picture appeared. 'He is there,' she said, pointing to a blurred image of the prince bound to a cellar wall. 'Go now and find him swiftly, before he is sacrificed to the ravenous dragon that guards the dungeons in which he is kept.'
So the Brave Knight Usopp thanked the witch, and he left the fortress and untied his horse and rode away into the forest toward the castle where his prince was being held.
He rode for many days, because the castle was far away, and at one point he stopped in a grove of cherry trees to let Merry eat some of the grass there. But while he waited, the brave knight was attacked by a reindeer man!
The reindeer man fought well and hard, but eventually the knight overpowered him, which was no fault of his because the Brave Knight Usopp was just that awesome, and no one could honestly be expected to beat him. But anyway, the reindeer man swore not to try to fight any more, and the knight helped him up and asked him his name.
'I am Chopper, the guardian of this grove,' said the reindeer man.
'Why do you guard these trees?' asked the knight. 'There's nothing here to protect.'
'I don't know,' Chopper said, shrugging. 'I just like cherry blossoms. I mean, there's a lot of money buried in the center of this grove, but I don't really care about that. What I really want to do is become a doctor and help heal people.'
'Then come with me!' the knight replied. 'I'm on a mission to rescue my prince. Help me save him, and I'll take you back to Strawhat Kingdom where you can be a doctor and help our people.'
Chopper agreed, and together they rode away from the grove and toward the castle.
After many days, they finally reached the castle's walls. Around the castle grew a forest of mikan trees; they grew so thick that the knight had to blast them apart with his slingshot for many hours before they were able to reach the castle walls. When they finally did, they could find no door or no secret entrance, and Chopper began to despair that all was lost.
'Worry not, my new friend,' the Brave Knight Usopp declaimed. 'We can simply go right over the walls! Didn't you tell me on our journey hear that you possess the power to jump to great heights?'
'That's right!' Chopper said. He ate one of the magic capsules that gave him the power to jump. 'Climb onto my back,' said the reindeer man, 'and I will carry us into the castle!'
The Brave Knight Usopp bid a temporary farewell to his trustworthy steed and held onto Chopper's back. His new friend jumped up and over the walls and carried them down into the courtyard of the castle, where the knight climbed down from his back and led the way into the castle's interior.
The brave knight held his slingshot in front of him as they went, keeping his new friend behind him to protect him from the perils that lurked inside the castle walls. Eventually, they came upon a man standing in the corridor. He was a fearsome and powerful man with only one eye, and from his mouth poured smoke and fire, and he brandished a kitchen knife in one hand. Of course, the Brave Knight Usopp sensed that this was only a decoy, and that the man would attack with his legs."
"How'd he do that?"
"Well, the Brave Knight Usopp has had experience dealing with all kinds of attackers, you see. Besides, there was cheese sauce dried onto the knife. You don't fight like that. It's not proper knightly battle protocol."
"As I was saying…the man flung his knife into a corner and glared at the knight and the reindeer man. 'I am Sanji, cook for the beautiful queen of this castle, and I have been sent to see that you go no further. Your prince is being kept here as food for the stupid dragon that her majesty keeps as a pet to guard her treasure, so you can't have him back.' With a narrowed eye, Sanji added 'And you'd better keep out of my kitchen.'
'I'm afraid that I must rescue my prince no matter what the cost,' the Brave Knight Usopp said valiantly, and stepped forward to fight the cook. 'If you choose to back down now, I won't hurt you.'
'Yeah right,' Sanji laughed. 'The only way I wouldn't beat you up is if you were a beautiful woman.'
This gave the brave knight an idea. He didn't want to hurt this man, after all; it wouldn't be fair to fight someone so inferior in strength. So he told the cook:
'I know of a beautiful woman who lives in an enchanted forest," said the knight. 'She is a witch, and she lives alone in a fortress. Her eyes are the color of a summer sky and her skin is as pale as moonlight, her hair as soft as silk and black as a raven's feather…I'm sure she could use someone to cook for her and to keep her company.'
This intrigued the cook, but still he remained suspicious.
'She likes blonds,' the knight added, temptingly.
'Uh, I have to go,' Sanji said, edging down the corridor toward the exit. 'But stay out of the kitchen!'
The Brave Knight Usopp and his new friend Chopper continued on down the corridor. After a time, they reached the door of the dungeon; the knight pulled open the door and they crept inside, but soon they came upon the sleeping form of an enormous green dragon, the likes of which Chopper had never seen before. Of course, the brave knight was well-acquainted with dragons, so he simply tapped the dragon's head with his slingshot until, groggily, it opened one eye and glared at them.
'What is it now?' he grumbled, yawning hugely to display his razor sharp teeth. 'I'm trying to take a nap here.'
'Let us pass, dragon, for we must rescue my prince,' said the knight.
'I have a name,' the dragon said reproachfully. 'It's Zoro. And no; I have to guard this dungeon because I'm in debt to the harpy that runs this place.'
'Nonetheless, we must save my prince so that you don't eat him,' the night insisted. At this, the dragon looked disgusted.
'I don't wanna eat your stupid prince. I just want to get out of here so I can find the most powerful dragon in the world and fight him.'
The knight thought long and hard about Zoro's predicament, and eventually came up with a plan. 'What if I could find you the money to pay off your debt to the queen? Then would you let us pass?'
'Hell yeah,' the dragon said, and moved out of the way to let them by. 'Just make sure you tell the queen where the money is when you're done, or she'll use my hide as upholstery for her throne.'
The Brave Knight Usopp gave his word that he would, because he was honorable, and the dragon believed him, because dragons, like swordsman, were honorable too. So Chopper and the knight went deep into the dungeon, down spiraling staircases and through dank caverns, fighting off the occasional ogre, until they reached the innermost chamber and the only one that did not hold the greedy queen's riches. Together, they pulled open the doors and ventured inside.
'My prince!' the brave knight cried, for he spotted Prince Luffy bound to the wall. Prince Luffy lifted his head, but was unable to speak because his throat was so dry from thirst. 'Has the cook of this castle been keeping food from you?' the knight inquired, and Prince Luffy nodded. The Brave Knight Usopp was almost overcome with rage at the poor treatment of his beloved prince, but he contained his anger and used a piece of wire to free his prince from the shackles that held him. 'Come with me, my prince; my new friend Chopper and I have come to liberate you from this foul prison.'
Chopper lifted the weary, starving prince onto his back, and they climbed back up from the dungeons, past the once again sleeping dragon, and out into the dimly-lit castle corridors. But as they turned a corner, they came face-to-face with Nami, the great and terrible queen of that fearsome castle.
'Put him down!' she commanded. 'I have to keep the lazy dragon that guards my treasure fed! I can see that Zoro isn't doing a very good job, by the way,' she scoffed, glaring down the corridor toward the sleeping dragon.
'Zoro does not wish to eat my prince,' the knight explained, 'nor does he wish to remain here to guard your treasure. He wants to become the greatest dragon in the world.'
'Well, he can't,' the queen snapped, hands on her hips. 'He owes me a lot of money and he has to stay here and work it off.'
'Ah, but I know of a place where much gold is buried,' the Brave Knight Usopp said. 'In the center of a cherry tree grove not far from here, you will find much treasure hidden, and you may have it all.' Chopper nodded in agreement, for the money did not interest him, and the queen looked at them both in suspicion.
'Fine,' she said after a moment. 'Go from this place and take your brat of a prince with you, but if I find that you've lied to me, I will send my armies after you and have you torn all to pieces.'
But the Brave Knight Usopp and his friend Chopper were not lying, of course, and knew that they need fear no wrath from the queen. Not that the brave knight was afraid of her boasting anyway. So they took the prince and departed from that place, whereupon they took Merry and rode back to the Strawhat Kingdom.
Chopper was made the official palace doctor for his bravery and assistance to the knight, and he was very happy in his new trade, quickly becoming known as the best doctor in all the land. The prince was restored to his throne and given lots of meat to eat, and was very happy, and everyone in the kingdom was thrilled to have their beloved prince back. News was sent from Queen Nami that she now had enough treasure to pay the dragon's debt twice over and was very pleased, and Zoro went away to become the most powerful dragon in the world and was about as happy as a dragon ever was. The Great Witch Robin sent word that she was glad that the prince had been rescued and to thank the brave knight for sending her Sanji, because he was a very loyal and willing servant. And everyone was happy, and all was well. The end."
Usopp sat back, looking very proud of himself. "Well? Did you like it?"
"It was good," Luffy said after a moment's thought, "but you forgot something at the end."
"Er," said Usopp. "I did?"
"Yeah! You never said what happened to the brave knight!"
"Oh!" Usopp exclaimed. "You're right, I did. Uh…okay, hang on. Right. The Brave Knight Usopp was very happy that his prince was safe, and as soon as Prince Luffy was well enough to speak, the knight went to visit him.
'Are you well, your majesty?' he asked, bowing to his prince.
'Yep, thank to you!' said the prince. 'Do you want some money in exchanged for saving my life? Or how about some lunch?'
'No thank you,' the knight said graciously. 'Your safety is payment enough for me. Although…there is one thing I would like.'
'Name your price,' Prince Luffy cheerfully replied, and the Brave Knight Usopp nervously cleared his throat, because though he had rescued the prince many times before, he had never requested what he was about to ask for, and he had to admit that even the bravest knight in all the land had to be afraid of something. But he got up the courage and said 'Prince Luffy, I ask only that you grant me a single kiss as payment, and then I will be happy.'"
"So what did he say?" Luffy asked, transfixed.
Usopp rubbed the back of his neck. "I…don't know," he mumbled. "See, the knight had never asked that before, so I don't know what the prince would have said."
"Oh." Luffy looked slightly disappointed, leaning back against the tree. "Maybe he didn't say anything at all."
"Yeah, maybe not," Usopp said, plucking at the fabric of his sash. He looked up, startled, when he felt Luffy's hands on the sides of his face.
"Maybe he didn't have to say anything," Luffy said simply, and gave his brave knight a kiss.