Lost Little Pirates
Natsu Dragneel was perched high atop the tallest deciduous tree within the lush green forest that covered most of Karuu Island –an island that took one whole day to reach by ship from the mainland of Fiore. To Natsu, memory of the voyage across the ocean was a blur of motion sickness and unconsciousness – the cause of the latter was likely due to Erza.
Standing eighteen meters above ground on one of the thick branches of the tree, Natsu peered into the long silver telescope within his hands to look towards the far, far coast several kilometers away. At the island's end, the forest gradually turned into a golden sandy coast that met the endless blue ocean. Scanning left and right, it took the mage a couple minutes and a few impatient whines from his furry blue companion before he spotted a ship anchored close to shore.
"Found it!" Natsu proclaimed. A joyous squeal from Happy followed soon after.
Adjusting the lens on the telescope, the mage focused on the vessel to confirm his finding. The ship was large, much larger than the small fishing boat Natsu and the others had used to reach Karuu Island. It differed from all the ships Natsu had ever seen. Far from typical, the large vessel had appeared to have extra attachments that were cylindrical and colourfully domed on the back and atop the main mast that served as extra rooms, judging by the paned windows. The most peculiar thing about the vessel was the happy round figurehead at the front of the ship bearing a similar resemblance to a lion's head. "Cool!"
"What's cool?" Happy asked, suddenly curious at the boy's look of amazement.
"The ship looks cool. There's a lion's head on it. Looks fun!"
Happy stared out towards the sea in awe even though he couldn't see the ship himself. The cat swished his tail, giggling with an odd smile on his face. Happy said, "They seem like fun pirates!" He turned to his friend. "Are they really the ones we're supposed to chase away?"
Natsu skimmed past the furled white sails to study the black waving flag gently blowing in the sea breeze atop the main mast. Skull and crossbones... with a funny looking hat. "I think they're the pirates... Skull and bones on a black flag – It means pirates, right?" he questioned, having never seen actual pirate ships before. Nor had he heard much about pirates since he rarely travelled out into the ocean.
He felt Happy shiver beside him. "Bones mean dead people, doesn't it? Are they evil?"
Natsu shrugged, doubting the possibility that the pirates down by the coast were an evil bunch. The ship, just by its appearance alone, gave off a light-hearted vibe. The vibrant reds and yellows that coloured the ship along with the bright, smiling lion's head were inviting rather than frightening.
Pirate's were supposed to be dangerous according the mayor and the townsfolk of Karuu Port. However, Natsu didn't sense any danger from the pirates judging by their funny-looking ship.
Looks were deceiving nonetheless. The mage couldn't simply let his guard down.
The Dragon Slayer slightly shifted the scope to scan the deck, curious as to why some parts were green and why there were trees growing on it. He saw no one on board. Then he adjusted the lens for a wider view to search for other pirate ships but found none.
"Doesn't look like there are any other pirate ships but that one." He passed the telescope to Happy who peered through the magical lens at the ship by the shore.
A gasp of awe sounded from the cat soon followed by a wide smile. "It's really a lion and not Loke's face!"
"Loke?" The mage raised his brow, not quite understanding why Happy would mention the Celestial Spirit.
"Wow! That ship looks really fun to ride! Oh…" The blue feline sadly frowned at Natsu. "But you won't be able to ride it, Natsu… If only Wendy was here… Charle too!" He murmured the last part quietly but the Dragon Slayer easily heard it.
Crossing his arms and looking off to the side the mage snorted. "Yeah. But it's not like we're gonna ride a pirate ship anyway," Natsu grumbled, feigning disinterest even though he was deeply disappointed.
"Oh, I guess you're right." Happy sounded a little sad. "Erza would probably defeat them and destroy their ship in the process."
Hearing that, a chill ran up the Dragon Slayer's spine when he thought of Erza's merciless strength. It would probably take one swing of her sword to cut the pirate ship into two pieces. Such an incident would most likely occur if the pirates didn't leave the island peacefully.
What sort of people were these pirates? Natsu was very curious.
"Well, we know where they are. Let's go tell everyone."
The boy retracted the telescope after Happy returned it to him and shoved it into his backpack. He swung his bag over his shoulders while his companion took flight.
On white feathered wings, Happy flew up behind Natsu and wrapped his long tail around the boy's upper chest. Without effort, the winged cat carried his friend into the air.
Over the tall canopy of the forest the pair flew in search for the rest of their team. They followed their noses, catching the scent of something delicious.
Stomachs growling, Natsu urged Happy to dive within a particular cover of trees. Wordlessly, the winged cat dipped under the canopy, gracefully avoiding any major collisions with the many branches as they dived.
Natsu pointed straight below at the forest ground near the base of a wide tree where two people were waiting. "There they are!" he exclaimed with a grin.
"Aye!" he heard Happy chirp behind him.
The Dragon Slayer softly landed on his feet between the two waiting individuals who were already eating without him.
Lucy spoke his name out of surprise upon seeing him and Happy dropping in so suddenly. Gray, on the other hand, only glanced at him and snorted. He was busily chewing a mouthful of his sandwich.
Natsu hungrily snatched the other half of Gray's sandwich that sat on the ice mage's lap and chomped on it quickly.
"Hey, you bastard!" the dark-haired mage angrily snarled, swiping at the other boy's hand in hope of retrieving his half-eaten portion of his sandwich. "Get your own!"
It took only two bites for Natsu to finish his stolen meal. "I'm starving!" he replied after swallowing, dodging a fist aimed at his face.
"Natsu! I have your lunch over here!" Lucy shouted as the Dragon Slayer defended against Gray's furious onslaught.
Natsu shoved his rival away and turned abruptly towards her, his mouth drooling at the delicious smell coming from the wrapped brown, elongated bundle in her hand. Something struck the middle of his back and he was sent flying into the dirt.
"I get half of his!" he heard Gray proclaim.
The pink-haired mage jumped to his feet, twisted around and growled at the other. "Don't you touch my lunch!"
Gray was already holding Natsu's meal. "You ate half of mine so it's only fair! Better yet, I'll just eat the whole thing! How 'bout that, lizard-breath?"
"You guys…" Lucy began but Natsu ignored her.
He instead leapt at the ice-user with an enraged roar of "Take one bite an' yer dead!"
The Dragon Slayer slammed into a wall of ice that materialized instantly before him. Cursing, he shrugged the pain away. With an angry howl, he shattered the ice easily with a fire-powered fist.
His jaw dropped in aggravation when he saw Gray already eating half of his sandwich. "Asshole!" he roared, feeling his body swell with flames as he glared murderous daggers at the now half-naked ice mage. A taunting smirk adorned the other mage's stupid face.
"Gray… your shirt…" Natsu heard Lucy murmur off to the side.
Neither boy paid much attention to the spirit mage as they continued their battle. Gray annoyingly dodged Natsu's angry swipes for the remaining half of his meal.
Just when Natsu managed to grab his lunch out of his rival's hand something hard struck him over the head. He found himself face-first in the dirt once again but with his remaining sandwich clenched in his hands. He sat up abruptly and bared his sharp teeth angrily at Gray for such a cheap shot but found the ice-user down on the ground too.
An unnerving shadow loomed over him and he suddenly tensed under her glare. He noticed Gray freeze up as well, sensing the presence of their fearsome superior. As one, both boys slowly turned their attention to the one that hit them.
Brown eyes looked down upon them with a frightening warning. "You two idiots are making too much noise," said Erza, her tone low and firm.
Natsu, between bites of his sandwich, and Gray quickly apologized, both bowing on their hands and knees to avoid further punishment.
"Hmph," was her response. She dropped a small bundle bound tightly with rope on the ground beside another larger bundle Natsu did not notice earlier.
Both of the bundles began to shudder, squirm and whimper. The four younger guild members stared at the two bundles in bewilderment.
"W-What…" was all Natsu sputtered before he noticed the two bundles were actually tied up people. Well, one was human anyway…
A young man, looking just around their age, with curly black hair and wearing a yellow bandana and goggles atop his head was the larger one of Erza's victims. Natsu could pick out the scent of gunpowder coming from the man. The most distinguishing feature was the man's long nose and full lips.
Through fearful tears the young man started to wail with shrill pleas of "Please don't kill us!" and "Y-You'll r-r-regret killing me!"
Alongside him, the smaller of Erza's victims, was sniveling in fear. A strong minty aroma was coming from it. To Natsu, it looked like some sort of small, brown furry animal with antlers, a pink hat with a white 'X' and a blue nose. Its large quivering eyes were watery with frightened tears.
"Wh-Who are they?" Lucy was first to ask.
Erza rested one foot on the back of the tied up young man, immediately making him freeze. "Found them wandering close to where we are. They are apparently the pirates the mayor wants us to get rid of. And this guy," she glanced down, sending a noticeable shiver down her hostage's spine, "is supposedly their captain."
Natsu crossed his arms and cocked his head to the side as he peered down at the shivering, tied-up form beneath Erza's foot. "Eh? Really?" he questioned, rather disappointed that their mission to drive away or eliminate the pirates was going to be easy. If the captain of that cool-looking ship was this weak then the crew must be more pathetic.
From what the Dragon Slayer could sense, neither of the pirates were even mages.
Gray noisily snorted. "I expected this job to be a little harder…" he grumbled, voicing the same thought as Natsu.
Lucy thought otherwise. "Hey! It's nothing to complain about!" she said with a wide grin. "This is an easy five-hundred thousand Jewels the mayor is willing to pay us!" She stood up and strolled over to the pirate captain. She knelt down and patted the young man over the head. "Now then, you're going to be a good pirate and take your little friend here and the rest of your crew off this island, okay? This will save us a lot of trouble! And damage fees…" She muttered the last part under her breath.
"Ah… W-Well, f-funny thing about that…" stammered the man beneath Erza's foot, his voice shaking uncontrollably. "I-I actually… I actually lied – I'm not really the captain! Ah ha ha – urk!" Erza pressed her heel harder on his back.
The red-haired warrior leaned forward to overshadow the trembling pirate. "Did you not say that you are the Great Captain Usopp? With one thousand followers on this island?" she asked, her voice calm yet demanding at the same time.
"One thousand?" someone gasped – most likely Happy. Gray and Natsu gave each other looks of astonishment before turning back at the scene before them.
The man named Usopp appeared to shrink under Erza's intimidating stare. He let out a terrified squeak. Natsu may have heard him whisper "Scary!" a couple times under his breath.
The poor, poor man… The pink-haired mage couldn't help but pity the curly-haired pirate.
Unable to form words, the false captain vigorously shook his head.
"So you really don't have one thousand followers?" Natsu questioned with a groan of disappointment. Again, the pirate shook his head, looking ashamed.
Erza was unimpressed and it showed on her face. She removed her foot to crouch down to meet the pirate's gaze, her eyes dangerously narrowed. "Where is your captain?"
Usopp visibly swallowed and croaked out: "He-He's… He's s-somewhere! Explore… Exploring the island… We…" He swallowed again. "We s-separated a-about a c-c-couple hours ago!"
"Where was he heading?"
Once more the long-nosed boy shook his head.
Erza's glare intensified to a degree that even Natsu shivered even though he was not the one being glared at.
"Where was he heading?" she asked again slowly.
The pirate whimpered and flinched away from her. He spoke his answer hastily, slurring and stuttering his words; "E-E-East! Southeast! I-I don't know! He t-tends to get lost and Zoro's with him so they're d-d-definitely lost somewhere a-a-and… and… P-P-Please don't kill me!"
"Eastward? That's the general direction of Karuu Port," Gray commented.
Natsu frowned. "Are you guys planning to attack the people there?" he growled, clenching his fists. The people of Karuu Port already had enough to deal with. The town was in a state of recovery due to the recent storm.
"W-What?" Usopp shrieked. "N-N-No! We would never do such a thing!"
"But you're pirates!" 'Blood-thirsty, greedy scum of the seas' the mayor had described them.
"We didn't do anything! We're not bad pirates!" the tied up animal suddenly spoke up, startling everyone but Erza. Its childish voice was shrill with panic. "W-What did we do to make the mayor m-mad at us?"
"Oh! This little guy can talk!" Lucy exclaimed, looking at the animal with admiration. "Are you some sort of spirit?" she kindly asked.
"Do you like fish?" Happy was next to ask, his large eyes glittering with awe as he approached the tied up creature.
Both pirates gaped at the blue feline, briefly forgetting the threat that was Erza.
"It's a talking cat!" they both shouted in unison. It was their turn to be surprised by a talking animal.
Shaking away its astonishment, the furry animal looked confused. "Spirit? I-I'm a reindeer! And… Yeah, I like fish?"
"Then let's be friends!" Happy proclaimed, shoving one of his fishes he carried for lunch into the animal's mouth.
The reindeer quickly spat it out. "Ugh! It's raw!"
Happy looked saddened. His ears drooped and he frowned deeply with shimmering eyes. "I guess you don't want to be my friend…"
"Uh… I-I'm sorry! I didn't mean…"
The threatening atmosphere that Erza had established over the two pirates had disappeared and she was not too pleased by that. "Happy… Lucy…" she hissed at the cat and the blonde girl, her right eye twitching with controlled anger.
The blue feline froze at her look and immediately hid behind Lucy who had taken a few steps back with a nervous apologetic laugh. "I'm sorry, Erza! Don't kill us too!" Happy cried out while Lucy repeatedly said "Sorry!"
"Eh? They're afraid of her too!" both pirates exclaimed as they gawked at Happy and Lucy.
Erza noisily sighed and stood up, her armored arms crossing over her breastplate. She moved to stand in front of the two pirates, making them stiffen. "Mayor Eldrav believes you pirates are a threat to him and his village," she answered the reindeer's previous question.
"W-Why?" Usopp asked. He tried to climb into a sitting position but failed since he was bound with rope from his shoulders to his ankles.
Gray went on to explain; "There was a raid on the town thirty-three years ago by pirates. Over half of the population was killed including the mayor's wife and daughter. After all that do you think the old man would be trusting of any pirates that land on his island?"
The curly-haired boy frowned at that.
"It is our job to get you pirates off this island," Erza continued. "So if you want to avoid any injury to you and your crew I suggest you find your captain and leave as soon as possible. If you pirates refuse then we'll have to resort to using force."
Natsu leaned over the young man and whispered a warning; "Trust me… you don't want to let her use force…"
Usopp let out a pitiful moan. "We-We can't just leave... We were caught in a middle of a huge storm three days ago! Our ship's waterlogged and we're short on supplies and our Log Pose – it's broken! We-We'll die if we just leave now…"
"We tried buying supplies but the townspeople refused to sell us anything…" the reindeer added, sniffling its snotty nose.
Lucy tilted her head slightly. "A storm? It must be the same storm that damaged the town," she informed, looking thoughtful. "When did you guys arrive to this island?" she asked the reindeer directly. She was still fascinated by the creature, Natsu could tell by the sparkle in her eyes and her wide, friendly smile.
The animal quietly responded, "Two… two days ago. We were lucky…"
"We got thrown off course in the storm," Usopp explained in further detail, his eyes distant as he reminisced. "We didn't know where the nearest island was since our Log Pose broke sometime during the storm."
"What's a Log Pose?" Gray inquired, raising an eyebrow.
The pirate shifted so he could stare at the ice-user. "You don't know what a Log Pose is?" Usopp exclaimed as if everyone in the world was supposed to know what it was.
All members of Fairy Tail gave him a blank look as he shifted around to glance at each of his captors. "I-I guess you guys wouldn't know… since you're not pirates…" he murmured. "It's like a compass b-but it points to the islands on the Grand Line."
Natsu blinked at him. "'On the Grand… Line'?" he repeated in confusion.
The long-nosed boy looked uneasy – it was a different fear that settled on his features than under the scrutiny of Erza. "Th-This is still the Grand Line, isn't it?"
It was Happy's turn to sound confused; "Grandline? Sounds like a tasty seafood restaurant." He widely grinned.
"Oh no!" Usopp suddenly wailed, turning his face into the dirt and bending his nose at an odd angle. His voice was muffled and he began to talk mostly to himself if not to his companion. "Did we get thrown into the Calm Belt? No wait – there aren't any storms or currents in the Calm Belt – then did we get washed out into some distant unknown ocean then? No – Can't be possible, right? We were just in the Grand Line and…"He continued on and on with the reindeer nodding and grunting along with the boy's chattering.
There was a flustered sigh followed by a stern "Natsu," coming from Erza. The Dragon Slayer ignored the pirates and turned towards her immediately. "Did you find their ship?"
"Y-Yeah," he quickly responded, a little afraid of Erza's bitter mood. "It's by the shore… uh… I think it was that way…" He pointed to his left, hoping it was the right direction.
Happy corrected him however. Looking at the small compass around his neck, the Exceed pointed to Natsu's right. "Natsu, it's the other way. Southwest of here."
The scarlet-haired woman looked disapprovingly at the Dragon Slayer but nodded at the cat. "How far?"
"It's about a three or four hour walk from here," Natsu answered promptly, sulking under her gaze.
Erza lightly smirked and started walking. "Then let's start heading there. Natsu, Gray," she turned her head to glance at the boys behind her. "Carry those two."
"What?" both of the males cried out in protest.
"Why do I have to carry them?" Natsu growled only to quickly change his mind when Erza darkly narrowed her gaze. "Aye, aye!" He leapt beside the pirate named Usopp and with a loud grunt, heaved the now protesting young man over his shoulder like a heavy sack. Natsu wasn't too bothered by the weight – Usopp was pretty light for his size.
Gray, after being told to put his shirt and pants back on, wordlessly followed the scarlet-haired mage's orders and easily picked up the tied up reindeer with ease. He carried the whimpering creature under his arm with its snout facing upward.
Lucy quickly packed up everything left from their lunch break and followed right behind with Happy riding over her shoulder.
"H-H-Hey! What are you guys doing with us?" squealed the curly-haired pirate. Natsu could feel him trembling through the thick layer of rope.
Natsu couldn't see the pirate's face since he had him facing backwards. "We're just heading to your ship – the one with the lion's head, right? Your captain's bound to return to it sooner or later."
"The sooner you guys leave, the better it is for the mayor and his people," Lucy informed them, sounding rather sorry for the pirates.
"But… We can't just leave!" Usopp practically yelled in Natsu's ear. "We didn't do anything! Sure we're pirates but we're not the kind that steal and kill… we'll maybe we steal – a little – but we don't steal from innocent people and we definitely don't attack towns or villages! We're pirates because we have dreams out in the sea! We're… We're adventurous pirates!"
"Yeah! Adventurous pirates!" the reindeer chimed in, right behind Natsu.
Happy made a sound of awe. "Oh! You guys don't sound so bad after all!"
Natsu quietly agreed. There was no danger – no malice at all – coming from the pirates they carried. People that have murdered… people that have committed something evil… they often reeked with the vile stench of death. These two pirates smelled nothing like that. They smelled of gunpowder, mint and the sea.
"Regardless," Erza started, keeping her attention forward as she continued to lead. "Our job is to make you pirates leave this island no matter what you are. Good or bad, it doesn't matter to us."
"Maybe… we can help them?" Lucy quietly suggested to the group.
"Really? You'll help us?" both of the pirates exclaimed in utter surprise, making Natsu wince from the sheer volume in his ear.
Natsu had to strengthen his grip to keep his hold on the tied up pirate that squirmed about with excitement. "Stop yelling and stop moving, will you?" he hissed. He received a quick apology.
"No," was Erza's stern answer.
There were groans of disappointment mainly from the pirates.
Gray cleared his throat and took the courage to speak against his superior. "Hey Erza… Lucy did ask you to help her on this job. Maybe we can–"
Natsu stopped, which made Gray abruptly stop in both speech and movement, because Erza had turned around, a look of annoyance on her face. "Helping these pirates is not part of our job. Do you think the mayor would appreciate us helping the very ones we're supposed to get rid of?"
"N-No, b-but…" Lucy tried to argue.
"Besides, it was their own fault for getting caught up in a storm." She nodded to the pirate dangling over Natsu's shoulder.
"H-Hey! That storm came out of nowhere!" Usopp tried to explain. "It came so fast like – it was like… like magic, you know!"
Erza slightly narrowed her eyes while Natsu tilted his head slightly at the word 'magic'. Could that storm that ravaged the port town really be from a magic spell?
"'Like magic'?" Happy gasped.
"How so?" Erza inquired, her brow creasing with a troubling thought. At that point, Natsu decided to lower the pirate onto his feet.
The curly-haired boy stood nervously, avoiding to meet Erza's interrogating stare. "Um – W-Well… It was… It was bright and sunny and cloudless one minute and then the next minute the sky turned all black with thick storm clouds. We didn't even have time to get over our shock! We were already fighting the strong winds and huge waves to stop our ship from capsizing!"
"Those waves were huge!" the reindeer added, its voice quivering. "Two of our friends almost drowned and I… I couldn't…" It suddenly trailed off, suppressing a sob.
"Don't cry, Chopper," Usopp assured his companion, glancing behind him at the reindeer still held under Gray's arm. "Everyone's safe."
"Was there anything else that you saw or heard that was abnormal?" the scarlet-haired woman questioned, interrupting their moment.
The long-nosed boy turned back to her, meeting her eyes briefly before staring at the ground. "O-One odd thing I noticed was the lightning – it was purple… a-and it seemed to concentrate around one point in the ocean. Light… Lightning kept flashing – there was a lot of it – striking the ocean close to our ship. It was scary! It felt like we were going to get hit by it!"
"A-And then the lightning stopped and th-there was also a deep moaning sound that I could hear over the wind and waves," said Chopper the reindeer. "It got louder and louder…"
"And then a massive tidal wave came and swallowed our ship and took us under. I saw something moving in the water… something huge and glowing green. A mega-giant sea king! I'm sure of it!"
"Is that some sort of ocean monster?" Gray asked.
Eyes wide with surprise yet again, the pirate boy gaped at the ice-user and then each member of Fairy Tail. All members of the guild bore the same blank or confused expression as when 'Log Pose' and 'Grand Line' were mentioned. "You've never seen or heard of a sea king?" Erza and Lucy shook their heads while Natsu, Happy and Gray cocked their head to the side, clueless. "B-But they should be common – just what ocean did we end up in?"
"The Meliord Sea," was Erza's answer.
Usopp faced her. "'M-Meliord'? I've never heard of that – Where exactly…? Is it near East Blue? North Blue? South Blue?"
The armored woman frowned a little, not quite understanding the pirate. She simply told him; "This is Karuu Island. We are within the border of the Kingdom of Fiore on the western sea, the Meliord Sea."
It was the pirate's turn to stare blankly at her. "W-What?" he quietly drawled, looking completely lost.
Natsu crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at Usopp. "Just where exactly did you come from?" he asked, curious. There were so many different things between both groups that they were clueless about. The pirates must've come from far across the ocean – they were obviously foreigners and not native to the country or even the continent.
Chopper spoke up first since Usopp was still rattled with confusion. "The Grand Line… We just left a small island called 'Black Rock' two days before we encountered the storm," it explained as Gray finally decided to put the animal down so it could stand alongside its companion. It craned its head upward, shifting its eyes across each Fairy Tail member. "We were heading towards the next island on our Log Pose called 'Coral Isle'. We… We were supposed to reach it yesterday."
No one among Fairy Tail recognized any of the island names the reindeer mentioned. Sighing with suppressed frustration, Erza drew out a map from her pocket dimension which, once again shocked both of the pirates. Their eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets and their jaws practically hit the floor.
To non-magic folk and those unfamiliar with storing items in other dimensions, the map seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
"H-H-How'd you…? Wh-Where…?" Usopp couldn't quite finish his stammering question.
Happy took the opportunity to explain half-way through the properties of storage dimensions and its many great uses before Erza abruptly cut him off. "Now's not the time, Happy."
"Aye, ma'am!" The blue feline quickly retreated away from her, leaving two dumbfounded pirates muttering "magic" and "dimensions" like they were unheard of.
Erza held up the map of Earthland before the two pirates. "Here's the world map. Where does this Grand Line lie?"
The pirates gaped at the map, both expressing disbelief. "Im-Impossible…" Usopp breathed, barely making a sound. "There's no such thing as a 'world map'! It's never been made yet and this… this isn't…" He slowly shook his head as he fell onto his knees. "This isn't right. There's no Red Line… No Grand Line… No East Blue or anything!"
"What's going on, Usopp?" Chopper's voice quivered with newfound horror. "Where… Where are we?"
"In another world," was Erza's only answer. Everyone stared at her.
"You mean they came from another world? Like Edolas?" Natsu questioned, startled by that fact.
"Not Edolas but perhaps another. It is a possibility. They speak of items and creatures affiliated with the sea that appears to be common from where they came from but not here. Pirates are extremely rare nowadays with all the mage guilds established worldwide. And from what I presume, their oceans sound much more grandeur than ours." The warrioress folded the map and returned it to her pocket dimension before looking directly at the young man. "What happened after you saw that monster in the sea?"
Usopp hesitated for a moment. He swallowed and with a shaking voice, resumed his tale; "The sea king – I only saw it briefly before it vanished into the dark sea. After our ship resurfaced we continued to fight against the storm. It was really useless… We were being pulled by the sea. We were trapped in that storm for what felt like hours before it suddenly became calm again… The sky and sea… it was like the storm never happened."
The reindeer frowned heavily and said, "It was then that Nami noticed our Log Pose was broken…"
The pirates fell silent after that, their expressions downcast.
Erza had spoken to them but Natsu didn't pay much attention.
He couldn't help but feel nauseous when Usopp described their incident out at sea. Imagining being on their lion-faced ship on stormy waves for hours made his stomach lurch.
He felt an elbow to his side from Gray. "Looking a little green. Don't tell me you're getting motion sickness just from hearing about a ship. You're so useless," the dark-haired mage snidely teased.
The Dragon Slayer placed a steady hand on his stomach and growled at his rival, "Shut up! At least I'm not a stupid moron who can't keep their clothes on!" he retaliated, nodding at the ice mage's dark blue boxers. Sometime during the pirates' tale, the idiot had taken his clothes off.
Gray cursed loudly and picked up his discarded clothes right beside him, receiving odd looks from the pirates.
Natsu breathed deeply and assured his mind and body that he was still on solid ground. He regained his posture and listened to Lucy and Erza discuss their next course of action.
The blonde mage appeared to be smiling gratefully at the other. "… help them? Thanks, Erza!"
Erza scoffed at her, slightly pouting. "I am not helping the pirates, Lucy, I am helping the mayor." Her expression shifted to a more serious one. "That storm both the townsfolk and these pirates encountered was not natural. Whatever caused it might still be around and it will most likely create another storm that could possibly wipe out Karuu Port entirely."
Natsu clenched his jaw and bared his fangs. "Do you think the Dark Guilds are behind it?"
She nodded. "It's my only assumption. A storm of that magnitude in such a short period of time can only be caused by a powerful magic source. If it is the Dark Guilds that have control of it then we have no choice but to stop them before they cause any more harm."
"Shouldn't we go back and tell Master about this?" Lucy asked, looking a little desperate. Natsu could sense her unease from the thought of battling another Dark Guild on their own.
Crossing her arms, Erza lightly shook her head. "It'll take a total of eight days to go back to the Guild and return here – that's far too much time wasted. We'll have to try to send a message instead."
At that, Lucy seemed a little unnerved.
Natsu snorted and gave her an encouraging grin. He smacked his closed fist into his open palm and said without hesitation, "Don't worry about a thing, Lucy. Whoever's causing the storm, I'll kick their ass."
"Aye, aye!" Happy chirped with his usual gesture; a raised paw and a determined face. "Leave it to Natsu and Happy!"
The Dragon Slayer was brimming with excitement at the thought of battling a new, powerful foe.
He heard Gray smirk beside him. "Not if I get to them first," the ice mage challenged, cracking his knuckles with a sneer.
Before Natsu could counter with a snide remark concerning the weakness of ice against flame, one of the pirates spoke up.
"U-Um… so… Are you guys still going to… uh, kick us off the island?" Usopp questioned, sounding rather confused.
Chopper noticeably looked up at Erza with wide, hopeful eyes. The scarlet-haired mage looked between the two pirates irritably at first but then her features softened – just a by a little bit.
"Yes. It is still our mission to do so. However," she quickly added before anyone could say anything against her, "you will be taking us with you. I want you to take us to the very spot where you encountered the storm. Can you do that?"
"I… Well… I-I'm sure Luffy – err, our Captain – wouldn't mind and for sure Nami, our navigator, should be able to take you guys to that part of the ocean."
A quick nod and a rather pleased smile adorned Erza's lips. "Very well then. We will help you get the supplies you need before we set sail."
She walked over to the bound pirates and touched the magic rope of each of them, making the tight knots instantly loosen and unwind. The ropes fell to their feet and the pirates smiled in relief before giving Erza a thankful look. "One question still remains unanswered however," the pirates stiffened at her stern tone, "I do not know how or why you pirates have gotten here. Perhaps if we investigate the cause of that sudden storm then we may possibly find your answer."
She deeply sighed and gazed upwards towards the canopy of the trees. "Let us hope…" she quietly trailed off as she moved forward once again in the direction of the pirate's anchored ship.
A/N: First time writing a fanfic for manga and a crossover to boot. I hope I captured your interest! Island names and the Meliord Sea are made up - not sure what the oceans of Earthland are called.
Criticism is welcomed - did I capture the characters correctly? Please let me hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading!