Chapter 1 v2
A Brand New Life

A warm sea-breeze blowing softly on her face, Elisabeth slowly opened her eyes and found herself sighing deeply as she looked at the sky. The azure blue that had been her only sight for the past two weeks was starting to get somehow boring. So boring that she had began to express the wish for a rain, or a tempest, or even a typhoon in order to get a slight bit of excitement.

Using her arms for support, she sat up and folded her long legs wearily. Her eyes scanned her surroundings slowly; she wasn't even surprised anymore to see absolutely nothing in the horizon. Her little boat seemed to be floating on an endless sea and the girl began to wonder if she wasn't just sailing in circles. After all, she had nothing but mere notions of navigation...

Scrambling tiredly to the mast, she looked rapidly through her ration bag and, finding it almost empty, the hungry girl couldn't help but sigh again. If she was called skinny now, before long she would closely resemble a skeleton.

No food, no company, lost on the endless ocean with nothing but blue sea and sky as far as the eye could see, Elisabeth was starting to lose hope, and the memories of the events that lead her to her uncertain voyage began to form slowly in her tired mind. Shaking her head briskly in hope to clear her mind, Elisabeth knew that she couldn't let herself get racked with those terrible images. She had wasted enough energy crying and now she was on hold, floating in uncertainty, she was awaiting to see what fate had planned for her now.

Absently, the girl ran her fingers through her long brown hair, but they were so tangled up that her hand soon ended up stuck in the messy mass.

"This is just great..." Elisabeth said wryly.

Wincing, she managed to draw her fingers out of her tousled mane without tearing out too many hair during the painful procedure.

Might as well sleep... Sick and tired, Elisabeth slumped on her back with a short gasp.

The weak girl rolled on her side, and brought her knees to her chest. For two weeks now sleeping had been her main occupation, and she had became quite good at it; being able to sleep almost all day through while at night she gazed at the stars' heart-warming glow.

Lulled by the soft sounds of the waves cradling her boat gently, Elisabeth closed her eyes. Her last thought before falling asleep was a simple wish; to come across an island soon and walk on its ground to start her new life.

When she opened her green eyes again, Elisabeth was so surprised to see three men standing above her that she closed her heavy eyelids right away, thinking that she was dreaming.

"Oi, wake up !" a voice said.

Either she was starting to have extremely realistic hallucinations or the three men were very real.

Elisabeth opened her eyes once more, rolled on her back, and peered curiously at the may-be-real men. They were all rather tall and muscular. One of them seemed to be in his mid-thirties whereas the other two looked not older than twenty. After a few seconds of silent observation, the drowsy haze fading out at last, she decided to believe that they were very much real, which actually began warming her empty insides with hope; she was soon to be saved, and she won't be dieing of starvation on her little boat.

"Are you alright kiddo ?" the older man asked, reaching out a hand for her to get up. His eyes widened in surprise when he realized how tall she was now that she was standing up.

"I'm fine, don't worry," she said, bowing her head respectfully. "Thank you very much."

Hearing her voice, the three men looked really relieved. Do I look that miserable ?

"My name is Elisabeth, nice to meet you," she said politely giving her three saviors a warm smile.

"I'm Joku, and this is my crew," the older man said pointing at the other two, who were smiling happily. "We are fishermen."

After introducing themselves to the girl, the fishermen offered her to come aboard their ship. They attached her small boat to their own and gave her some food as soon as they heard her stomach uttering plaintive growls. Three large rice balls were the offering, and right after thanking them for their kindness, Elisabeth started to eat the more than welcomed meal.

The eyes of the men widened as they watched the girl eating the rice balls; Elisabeth took really small bites, and like any other girls it was kind of charming, but only if they were to watch the scene in slow motion; in less than three seconds, the meal had vanished in the girl's mouth.

"It was delicious, thank you," Elisabeth said, while dusting her clothes of the rice that had fallen on her lap.

Still awing at the girl's eating speed, the men remained speechless for a few seconds before laughing loudly. Elisabeth was aware that her speed was out of the ordinary, yet she wasn't used to provoking such amazement. She gave them a sheepish smile while scratching the back of her head in embarrassment.

Now that her hunger was satisfied, the girl got up and walked over to the railing to observe her surroundings. At last... A hearty smile made its way to her lips as she spotted the shape of an island standing out in the horizon. It seemed rather large, and from the distance, Elisabeth distinguished a long and low chain of mountains covered with greenery.

"This is Dawn Island, our home," Joku said gazing at the island. "We will take you there if that's okay with you."

"Very okay," Elisabeth nodded rapidly. "Thank you," she added as she felt extremely grateful for her salvation.

"You are way too polite, kiddo !" Joku laughed loudly.

"Awww land..." Elisabeth knelt on the miraculous beach, digging her hands in the sand blissfully. "I've missed you so much !" she said happily.

Joku laughed at the sight of the girl rolling merrily on the sand. It was surely comical for any onlooker but Elisabeth couldn't help herself; she was so happy, and who wouldn't after the ordeal of boredom she had gone through these past two weeks.

"Oi !" Joku called out kindly. "Didn't you say you dreamed of a shower ?"

Elisabeth sat up and nodded. Spending two weeks in her small boat she had only been able to wash herself with salty water and therefore she was more than dirty and dried.

Joku took her to his house located next to the beach; it was a small, rather cute wooden house built on piles. As soon as she set a foot inside, Elisabeth was welcomed warmly by the fisherman's wife who guided her to the bathroom. The woman also insisted in taking care of the girl's clothing, if the dirty rags she had on could still be considered as 'clothes'.

These people are way too nice, Elisabeth thought slipping out of her clothes. I have to find a way to repay the favor.

In her homeland, foreigners were extremely rare, and when they happened to come across the secluded country, the people would treat them with harsh caution, therefore Elisabeth had never thought she could be treated with such kindness. But then again, the outside world was a total mystery for her, and apparently it was way better than what she had been told.

The shower was indeed needed and it felt divinely good. Elisabeth even rated this shower as the best she had ever had. However, she had the hardest time washing her tangled hair. More than once, the girl had been tempted to cut it short, but her family relatives always insisted that she kept them long, claiming that with short hair she would be mistaken for a boy.

I guess I have no choice now, Elisabeth thought, smirking at her own reflection.

After drying herself up rapidly, she went through her bag to look for a clean change of clothes first. Light brown short shorts and a blue skinny tank top were her pick. Observing herself in the steamy mirror, the girl was glad to see that her body wasn't too wilted after all.

"Now the hair !" she said cheerfully before searching for her dagger.

Maybe it wasn't the best tool to cut one's hair, but she didn't think it through. But then, Elisabeth never really did for anything anyway.

Keeping an eye on her reflection, the reckless girl took her messy hair within her right hand, and without giving it a second thought, began to cut. Somehow it wasn't as easy as she would have thought, maybe the dagger wasn't sharp enough or maybe daggers weren't supposed to be used to cut hair... Either way, Elisabeth was more sawing than actually cutting, yet she didn't draw back and kept sawing the tangled mass through and through while sticking the tip of her tongue out of the corner of her mouth to increase her dexterity, fruitlessly.

Once she had achieved her goal, a low whistle escaped Elisabeth's mouth as she looked in awe at the monstrous hairy mass dripping wet in her hand. Surely it would never fit in the small bathroom's trashcan. Putting that matter aside she observed her reflection, a frown appearing on her face as she recorded the extent of the damages; scattered tufts sticking up from her untamed mane while crooked wisps of hair framed her face irregularly. Even the lovely beauty spot that rested under her left eye was hidden beneath the dreadful stack.

Obviously she wasn't expecting such an disastrous result, and if Elisabeth had never considered herself as a pretty girl before, now she was utterly ugly. It was only then that the thought of asking for help crossed the heedless girl's mind. However, it was already too late, and it would be a waste of time to linger on the subject any longer; bad haircut or not, a new life was awaiting her, and she couldn't wait to find out what it had to offer.

Elisabeth put her dagger back in her bag, slipped in her flat shoes, and went down to the living room, her former hair in her hand.

"Oh my !" Joku's wife exclaimed loudly, her hand covering her mouth. "What happened dear ?" she asked, touching Elisabeth hair with a frightened frown on her face.

"Nothing really ! Don't worry !" Elisabeth said precipitately. "I just wanted to cut my hair and..." she trailed off with sheepish laugh scratching the back of her head.

"Oh my... Let me fix this," the woman said and Elisabeth could almost picture her begging. "Please !"

Even if she was no hairdresser, Joku's wife did what Elisabeth couldn't help but call a miracle. The woman did not only manage to fix the girl's hair, she also gave her a cute haircut, that even if slightly boyish, completely satisfied Elisabeth.

"You are very cute," she said with a warm smile while peering at the girl's reflection.

Cute ? Surely that was new. Whether it was because of the haircut or the kindness of the woman was uncertain. Yet, the compliment made Elisabeth feel really embarrassed, a soft blush appearing on her cheeks.

"Thank you," Elisabeth said quietly, staring at her knees. "You've been so nice to me..."

Hearing Joku laugh, the girl turned around briskly to look at the fisherman and his smiling wife.

"I'll repay the favor someday, I promise !" she claimed loudly.

When the nice couple asked her what she wanted to do next, Elisabeth told them that she will be looking for a job. During the two weeks spent on her little boat, she had time to think about it; for her new life she would need money and since she was on her own, the only possibility was for her to find a job. Elisabeth had never worked before, but she was a fast learner and did not fear exhaustion. Kindly, Joku informed her that the bartender of the little town was looking for someone. He described her as a really nice lady and offered to introduce her to Elisabeth, to which the girl agreed happily.

A few colorful cottages lined their way as Joku and Elisabeth walked up the main street of the small village of Fuschia. Seeing a few villagers greeting the fisherman, friendlily the girl smiled back. In that way, it reminded her of her own hometown. Behind the village stood the large chain of mountains she had seen previously, and now that she was closer, she could see several windmills scattered all over its green face, giving the whole scenery a peaceful atmosphere.

"Oi Makino," Joku greeted upon entering the bar. "I think I found someone to help you out." He rested his hand on Elisabeth's small shoulder.

"Nice to meet you," the girl said politely. "I'm Elisabeth."

Makino was in her mid twenties, she was rather small and really pretty. She wore a bandana over her mid-length dark-green hair and her smile was gentle and warm, which instantly lead Elisabeth to consider her as a kind person.

"How old are you ?" Makino asked observing the girl curiously.

"Fourteen..." Elisabeth had replied without thinking and bit her bottom lip feeling that she should have lied on that matter.

"FOURTEEN !" Joku yelled out bewilderingly, his eyes so wide open that it looked like they were going to pop out of their orbits. "But you're so damn tall, kiddo !"

Makino chuckled lightly, apparently amused at the fisherman's loudness, or maybe at the beanpole's flushed face.

"Okay, we'll try this," the bartender began softly, waiting for Joku to calm down. "You'll help me out tonight and then we'll see."

Elisabeth leaped with joy and almost right away thanked the kind fisherman. Everything was going so well, it was almost too easy, yet the girl wouldn't dare complain.

Right after Joku's departure, Makino showed Elisabeth the menu for her to memorize. It was a fairly easy task since it only listed a few dishes, and they were all far from fancy.

Since the establishment was empty, Makino gave the girl a visit of Patty's Bar. Lit by several large windows, the main room contained half a dozen round tables. Across of the entrance stood a wooden bar, and behind it were large cupboards containing bottles of alcohol, plain tableware, and an amazing number of mugs; obviously customers came here to drink rather than to eat. The cupboards were framed by two doors; one leading to Makino's apartments, while the other led to the kitchen. Overall, it was a simple place, yet the girl could easily picture its warm atmosphere while listening to the hearty voice of the lovely bartender.

After giving Elisabeth a plain white apron, Makino explained to her how everything would work, but her speech was interrupted as the first customers of the night entered the establishment.

"You should introduce yourself," Makino said kindly while looking at the group sitting down at a table near the bar.

From what she had managed to observe, it seemed that the town was quite small, and so the sight of a newcomer, a young girl on top of that, rightly rose some questions. Deciding to make a good first impression to her new fellow townspeople, as well as her possible employer, Elisabeth put on a charming smile and walked over to their table under their questioning stares.

"Good evening," she said with a smile. "I'm Elisabeth, the waitress trainee."

To her relief the customers welcomed her warmly. After presenting themselves they put in an order, and Elisabeth went back to Makino to recite their orders while filling the glasses.

"Meat meat meeeeaaaat~ !" a young voice sang quite loudly from outside of the bar.

Elisabeth raised her face from her task, and watched the establishment's entrance questioningly as the singing seemed to get closer. A boy entered the bar briskly, the swing-doors swaying rapidly behind him. He wore a straw hat on his scruffy black hair, and had a scar under his left eye. As he rushed over to the bar-stools with a large grin, Elisabeth tilted her head to the side to watch another black-haired boy entering. He looked older, had shaggy hair, and had an exasperated look on his face.

"Who are you ?" the straw hat kid asked, looking at Elisabeth with large eyes.

"I'm Elisabeth," she replied, shifting her eyes to him. "The waitress trainee."

"Oi Luffy," the older boy said harshly as he hit the younger on the head. "Remember, you have to introduce yourself first."

Watching them, Elisabeth wondered if they were friends or siblings. In any case, their funny interaction made her chuckle lightly.

"I'm Ace," the older boy said, looking at Elisabeth with a small frown. "And this is my little brother, Luffy." He pointed a thumb at the straw hat boy who was rubbing his head with a pouting face.

"Ohhh..." Elisabeth looked closely at Ace's face, his dark eyes widening as she suddenly got closer. "Freckles... I wish I had some of those," she quietly said with admiration.

After giving her a surprised look, the two brothers started laughing as Elisabeth blabbered impulsively on how much she had wanted freckles since forever. But when Makino brought the plates for the first customers, she snapped out of her freckle-laden daze and went to serve the order.

"Good evening Luffy, Ace," Makino greeted warmly watching Elisabeth serving the customers. "So, you've met Elisabeth ?"

"Yup," Luffy said cheerfully. "She's a funny girl !"

to be continued

I'm in the middle of a huge revision campaign.

Around 6 months had passed since I first started this story.
It was the very first time I wrote anything (really) therefore it was really clumpsy ? inept ? bad ?
Anyway, now I'm, somehow, getting the hang of it (I think) and I decided it was time to change a few things.

The five first chapters will be entirely rewritten and I planned some new events so it might be slightly incoherent if you begin to read this story while I'm reworking on the chapters.
I'll try to be as fast as possible.

I hope you'll enjoy my story and you can PM or review if you have a question or just feel like it, I'll always answer :)