The sun slowly began to set, painting the sky with vast colors ranging from red down to violet, signaling the day was over. Kiku leaned on the wooden wall of the ship as the colors also affected the water, making the scene perfect. The wood was carved smoothly that his kimono won't be damaged by any loose splinters from the certain material. He took a deep breath, absorbing everything around him. He was calm, contented and filled with bliss. Everything seemed perfect and nothing could go wrong now that he felt that he was finally free from the unmovable ground and was now sailing freely in a ship, seeing the beauty of the world.
It has been three days since his very first independent departure, without his parents watching him. Right now the one accompanying him was a general in the army, appointed by his father, the emperor, to negotiate with other countries in trade. Of course Kiku, the prince himself, convinced his parents that he was old enough to sail along with officers as a practice for himself whenever he will hold the title as emperor in the future.
"Kiku-sensei." Haruka, one of the servants, stood beside him and bowed, "I would like to inform you that dinner will be ready in a while."
The prince smiled politely and nodded his head, "I will be in the dining room after the sun finally sets."
"Hai." She bowed again with a smile and headed off into the boat.
Kiku returned to his peaceful gaze of the sea when he spotted something else. It was another ship sailing right towards them.
The ship seemed to be like a foreign ship. The design was different and the head was carved with a woman who had a fish tail as a lower body. He narrowed his eyes more to see how the men on the boat looked like, and then realized they were westerners. A bearded man with an eye-patch and lacked hygiene was holding unto a pole, looking through a telescope.
At the same time, his own crew responded. The navigator shouted on top of his lungs for the crew to get ready and the captain began to steer the boat away from the threat.
"Prince!" Hokaido, the head general, ran out and grabbed the prince away from the edge of the boat, "It is not safe to stay outside." He led him into the cabin before the prince could say anything, then locked the door and closed it with a bow, "Stay here and don't make a sound, Kiku-senpai."
Kiku was stunned, and then regained his composure and freedom in movement after a while. The room he was placed in was small, probably for one of the female crew members to sleep in (they wouldn't let the females sleep with the rest of the male-dominated crew). He was still on guard, his ears twitching when he heard thumping above him.
"Ah… chaps from the East!" a rough voice laughed. Kiku's heart started to beat faster and he leaned on the wall.
"What is it that you want?" Hokaido's voice asked in return.
Another voice boomed with laughter, "Ye idiots don't know anyth'ng 'bout us pirates eh?" then it was followed by a series of laughing and mocking fits from the foreign accented visitors.
"Altair! Check the decks t' see whether there are more of 'em Eastern chaps." The first voice commanded then Kiku heard the door leading inside being kicked opened.
"Fancy ship they got 'ere." A voice slyly commented.
"Seems to be a ship for royalty, ain't it?" another one responded as doors were opened and checked. The Japanese prince pressed himself to the wall as the footsteps grew nearer.
Then the dreaded sound stopped in front of his very room's door, he bit his lip, trying to contain his rapid beating of his heart as sweat trickled down on his skin when the second voice commented, "Hey lookie here, Altair. Damn this ship's filled with gold!"
For one second, Kiku let out a sigh of relief, only to be followed by his body tensing when he heard more thumps above him and the voice that was pertained to "Altair" spoke up.
"Wait a minute, gotta check the rest o' the cabins." The door knob twisted but was halted for a moment, "Wha' the…"
"Seems to be there's something in 'ere."
Kiku pressed himself to the wall, watching in nervousness as the doorknob was being tested all over again and the pirates continued to curse. Then the two men were filled up in a short time that the door was now being hit with something. The prince scanned the room, then found a metal stick and grabbed it, his hands shaking and sweating anxiously.
The door was now broken and the prince was faced by two bearded men, one who seemed to lack nutrition and the other one who had too much.
"What do we have 'ere?" Altair, the big one, chuckled as he saw the young man.
Kiku glared at them and attacked swiftly, hitting their bodies with the stick.
"O-ow!" the thin one cursed as the other one got a grip on the Japanese's arm quickly.
Damn, that Altair's fast. Kiku glared even more, trying to struggled out from the grip but only received a throw to the wall and the stick falling on the ground with a large clank.
"You li'l idiot." The pirate glared back and picked him up once more by his kimono and the smaller one tied both of his wrists together, "Let's see ye escape once more lad!"
His whole body ached from the throw, his legs a bit shaky as he was forced to walk by Altair, "Yer one of the royalties?" Altair asked and only received silence from the black-haired prince.
"Yer too straightforwerd, Altair. You gotta loosen up with 'im." The other one chuckled, ruffling Kiku's hair.
They could hear booming laughter from above, a something falling on the ground while Haruka's voice shrieked, "Hokaido-sensei!"
Kiku's eyes widened in fear from the noise that came from above. What happened to Hokaido? Was he hurt? Is Haruka alright? That seems to be a doubt in that third question. From how he was handled here, the others seemed to have the same treatment.
The three climbed up the stairs and saw the whole Japanese crew being tied up and held by the foreign pirates. Kiku's eyes fell upon Hokaido who was in pain and on the floor.
The general's eyes looked at Kiku and shouted, "Prince!" the other members shouted in their own language, showing their hate towards the English-speakers for man-handling their prince. "Let him go!" Haruka struggled from a large man's arms who just laughed and caressed her cheek, ignoring her pleas.
Altair threw Kiku on the ground, making the captives even noisier and complaining a loud while shouting. Kiku's face ached even more as it was slammed on the floor. His body was weak already and it didn't want to move anymore. He could here the worried calls from his crew and more laughs from the invaders.
Then all of it stopped when a loud thump vibrated the wooden floor and the whole enemy crew stopped laughing and shouting. Kiku summoned the energy he stored and tried to regain from immobilizing his body to look up and see what caused the sudden silence.
All of the crew members were looking at someone, and all of them looking submissive. Kiku turned his gaze to see someone standing, holding a rope in his hand.
The man had shining green eyes with pale skin, noticeable bushy eyebrows, his blonde hair half covered with a large red and feathery hat. His body covered in regal and decent clothes that matched none of the crew's dull and dirty ones. His poker face just matched the silent mood as he let go of the rope and started walking, scanning the place then his eyes landing on the general.
"What do we have here, gentlemen?" His voice was completely different from the rough-voiced pirates. It rang, chiming throughout the place.
"Asians, cap'n." one of the crew members answered, "a royal one too."
Another one nudged Hokaido with his foot, "Their cap'n." The general looked up at the blonde, panting but determined.
"We do not come in any kind of harm." Hokaido said, hoping this would let them loosen up.
"Then that makes you an easy catch." The captain bluntly replied. His eyes scanned more then stopped and stared at Kiku, who was lying on the floor, his head the only up to see what was happening. "Who is that?" He eyed carefully on his clothing, then to his face.
Altair and his partner chuckled, "The royalty part of the crew, cap'n. This chap's the prince!" the thin one proclaimed.
"'Prince' you say?" the captain's voice sounded amused as a smirk played on his lips, "What a fine catch we have here then." He chuckled, walking towards Kiku who glared at him. Then he kneeled down, his hand reaching towards his face and held him by the chin, "Why aren't you a rare one?"
"Don't touch him!" Haruka screamed, and then her mouth was clamped closed by the huge hand of the pirate who was holding her.
The blonde captain's emerald eyes met with Kiku's brown ones. He inched his face closer, his smirk growing into a grin, "Mind telling me your name, darling?" He sang lightly.
He only received the same silence of what Altair and the other did; he did not like how the prince did not give him an answer and threw his head unto the floor then bent over to the shaking man underneath him, his grin wiped away and replaced with an annoyed look, "Do not test my patience, boy." Then the captain stood up, smiling again, "Alright, your Highness," he said mockingly with a bow, "I will leave you and your crew alone if you would kindly let us take all of your food, clothes, necessities and treasures and we shall spare you from the fate of what the other ships had gone through. But keep the clothes you are currently wearing right now." He proposed, his British accent dripping in every word.
The other pirates laughed and started scurrying into the decks, "Raid'n time!" they clapped with laughter when they were halted by a gunshot, the bullet just an inch away from the first man to reach the door.
Their captain glared at them, "Who told you to move?" his tone changed into a venomous one, sending his underlings to cower in fear and stutter. He did not bother to hear their reasons and looked at the Japanese prince again, "We still did not have the approval of our darling prince."
Kiku took a look from Hokaido, just to assure his decision. The general nodded weakly, and the younger Japanese glared at the pirate, "Fine. Take all you want."
And with that, the captain signaled his boys to begin raiding the ship. They acquired lots of food than expected, weaponry, clothes, utensils and tools along with some large beds, jewelry and other expensive and exotic things.
After watching them empty their vessel, Hokaido spoke up, "Now you took everything from us, leave our ship now."
"Ohohoho, not everything my dear." The captain walked over to the prince, "We still haven't gotten the most precioustreasure." He then pulled him up to his knees and smiled at the rest of the Japanese crew, "The dear prince will be our hostage from now on." he started, the crew angrily hissing at him with native words, which were only ignored.
Kiku thought of following the crew, but seeing that it will only fall on idle ears, he decided to not. It may only make the situation worse and something might happen to him.
"I wish to be contacted by your dear emperor. Tell him he has a month to send me his letter and the demand price for him to pay for his son." He started walking, pulling Kiku up to his legs and making him follow, "I will be expecting 500,000 pounds by the end of the given month or the prince will be the one to be paying the price himself."
Then he whistled, a hawk flew and perched beside the captain, "Give the letter to my dear Cherlot once your emperor has written his letter and readied his money." He signaled his crew to finish all of the raiding up and stepped up on the plank connected to their own ship, "and please don't forget to address me by my name."
Everyone glared at him as he smirked, "The name's Arthur Kirkland. Captain Arthur Kirkland."
The crew cheered and cooed as he dragged Kiku into his own ship and the rest of the pirate crew loaded into their own vessel, leaving the Japanese crew still tied up.
"Kiku-sensei!" Haruka screamed, making Kiku turn his head worriedly and ashamed that he had caused trouble for everyone. But then again, it was better to have them spared than to be burned down in case they didn't have him as a replacement for a hostage.
Arthur now looked at the young man he was holding then roughly pulled the rope on his wrists, making him hiss in pain and turn his head around, "Kiku eh?" he smirked as the younger man glared daggers at him; "The name suits you well my dear." He chuckled.
Kiku looked away from him, his heart beating with anger and fear at the same time, "You said you would leave all of us alone." He hissed. Arthur only smiled from amusement at the angry statement.
They continued to walk in silence, Kiku looking away from the pirate, not wanting to look at those horrid features that tricked them. And right now, Arthur's patience was being affected by the lack of obedience of the prince earlier.
The prince looked around the shabby and old-looking wooden walls of the ship; he did not understand how this ship could still be sailing when the interior looked like it could be collapsing any time. They were now away from the main deck where the crew members were having their fun in the things they have stolen from them and the deeper they walked into the huge ship, the quieter in became.
"Well, here we are my dear." Arthur's accented voice smiled as he opened a door that looked like the other doors they have passed. "Welcome to my quarters." He swung the door open, exposing the room to Kiku.
The Japanese did now expect what he saw. The room was the complete opposite of the ship and the crew. The walls were painted neatly and the room looked very large. A king-sized bed of red and gold with a roof stood at the northern part of the room, while a large couch with lots of pillows was placed in the middle of them room. In front of the couch was a fireplace in the west wall. A large table was placed beside the couch with a lantern serving as a light aside from the fireplace. A large chandelier hung above all of it and a large closet stood just beside the bed.
On the east wall was a large bookshelf filled with books and other written materials and was preceded by a series of paintings. One of them was a large portrait of the very pirate, his face expressionless as he posed on his own. The other one was him standing beside a polite lady sitting in a large royal chair who was smiling sweetly while Arthur still had the stoic face. The next frames were now maps and a small picture of a child with blue eyes and a cowlick in his brown-blonde hair.
His observations were put into a halt as he was dragged into the room and was placed in the corner near the bed and the captain tied his legs together then connected the ropes to a metal bar near him.
The Japanese looked up to glare at the pirate as he leaned over to him, taking his smooth face again in his hand, "Now, now, don't be so angry about this boy. You'll get used to staying here in a short while." A dark chuckle escaped from his throat as the boy pulled his head away from the hand, "Your crew isn't well experienced in the world of waters my boy," the blonde continued to mock him, kneeling in front of him and his breath just inches away from Kiku's ear, "You did not know a very important rule in the seven seas."
Kiku flinched at the sound and gritted his teeth, trying to contain his shivers in his spine from the hot breath that tickled his skin.
Arthur husked again, smirking, "Never trust a pirate."