Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece, but I do own OCs and plot.
Chapter 10: Sparrow
The tiny clicks of cartilage heels against metal were like the constant ticks of a clock. Tanker's legs swung back and forth, back and forth; repeatedly hitting the desk's side. The vibrations were tiny, but large enough to make Shnell's little form jump with each tick. The quiet familiar was continually interrupted as he cleaned the inactive spirit's vessel with a tiny red rag. All the while, the two animated skeletons observed the process of the surgeon preforming rapid surgery.
Law sat in the desk's chair and Ameria on a stool before him. The bone mage was pulled close, her seat placed between his thighs so he could operate with the power of his devil fruit. Then suddenly, one of the surgeon's hand lashed out, grabbing the noisy familiar's moving ankles firmly. Law sent the noisy familiar a warning glare before he returned to the bone mage's injury in silence.
The translucent blue sphere engulfed her right shoulder, the surgeon's hand slowly brushing against her skin. He noted the tension in her muscles as he continued, watching as she pursed her lips and her brow twitched uncontrollably with sweat. His palm grazed over the damaged tissue, and he felt the piercing glare of the medical assistant's eyes boring into the back of his skull. He heard the sharp intake of breath, but before Brodie could utter a single word, the surgeon pulled his hand away.
Though, the surgeon found his hand went back to the soft skin, a curious gleam in his steely grey eyes. "Hmm?" Law hummed in thought as his fingers probed the patch of undamaged skin. "It's healed?"
Tanker's hand then shot up, the noisy familiar giddily hopping in his seat. "Thanks to meeee!" His bony fingers wiggled enthusiastically and he beamed with a proud grin. "Thanks to meee and my alchameeeeyy! So, praise meeeee!"
Law's eyes glanced towards the noisy familiar briefly before returning his gaze back to the bone mage. "Anyway—"
Tanker's head dropped and he sulked, grumbling curses under his breath. Then little Shnell pat his older brother on the back in comfort before he went back to scrubbing the vessel clean.
Law leaned back in his chair and propped his elbow up on the armrest. "Since the operation finished sooner than expected, Miss Bones…" Law trailed off and then snapped his fingers.
In the space of his Room, the orange bucket hovered above the bone mage's lap. Then with another snap of his finger, the transparent sphere disappeared and the bucket dropped. She barely managed to catch the bucket, hugging it to her chest as a plum of dust billowed upward. Ameria's brows knitted together and she opened her mouth to protest, but the surgeon put a finger to her lips.
"Not a peep." Law cut her off with a cold glare; he didn't want a repeat of yesterday.
The bone mage frowned, a misery upon her features. Yet, she did as she was told and said not a peep. Silently, she grabbed a handful of dust from the bucket before placing it on the floor between their feet and she listened to his instructions.
He observed her progress, his cheek pressed against his knuckles. The soft grey aura coated her hands as she cradled the dust in her palms, the delicate substance swirling around until it formed a skeleton. It was larger than the miniatures she was making the other day, and no unnecessary accessories added. Her hands were a platform for the animation to stand on as she held it up for the surgeon to critique her work. His eyes glanced between the animation and the bone mage, an irritated crease forming along his brow. With his free hand, he reached forward and easily snapped the animation's spine in half. The bone mage pressed her lips together into a thin line, resisting the urge to say anything. She took a deep breath in and then out, putting her energy towards making a new animation to suit the surgeon's taste.
However, the cycle continued: remake, snap, remake, snap.
It was putting a toll on the bone mage, her cheeks bristling crimson with each failed try. "S—Stop that!" She finally snapped, throwing her hands up in the air so the dust rained down on their shoulder. She slammed the sides of her fists to her thighs, glowering at the surgeon. "I'll never learn what I'm doing wrong if you don't tell me!"
Law sighed, shaking his head in disappointment. "Miss Bones, you are aware that the human bone can withstand up to seven hundred pounds before breaking, correct? Not counting certain conditions where the force is applied in the right place, I assume the point of your magic is to make cartilage with dust the same as or stronger than actual human bone. What you are making is pitiful and could never defend you in battle."
Ameria scoffed, offended by his words. "No necromancer could make an animation for battle with these dust bunnies!"
"That sounds like a personal problem," Law smirked brazenly.
Ameria trembled with rage. The shade of red on her cheeks darkened in hue and steam roared from her ears. She closed her eyes, the rise and fall of her chest settling down as she forced herself to remain calm. Then with a look of determination crossing her blue eyes, she grabbed another handful dust from the bucket on the floor. She pressed her palms together, hiding the substance within the grey aura.
Her short ebony locks fluttered from her shoulder, waving in an unseen breeze. Her mind focused on her hands as they slowly opened. The dust burst into mist, the hum of wings dispersing the cloud so a tiny flock of skeletal sparrows were revealed. The little animations spiraled around the bone mage, their little wings grazing against the skin of her bare arms. She swayed back and forth, trying to avoid the ticklish touches that caused her to giggle. A warm smile came to her lips as the little sparrows landed upon her shoulders, the spirited animations singing a bright harmony. The little sparrows were lively on their perch, playing hide and seek among her ebony locks as they chirped in her ears.
"Sometime you have to make do with what you have." She replied, her eyes halfway closed as she brushed the side of her finger against the ribcage of one of the a little sparrows. The animation chimed with pleasure, make her smile. "You can't always fight if the odds are against you. So, making something that can do recon for stealth is a better option. Dust like this is prefect for birds because they have hollow bones after all…"
Law leaned forward with a smile, genuinely amused by the bone mage's response. Thinking outside the box, huh, he thought. He had noticed briefly that she could be rather tactical when she kept a level head. It was a good trait to have; she just need to hone in on it.
He watched the sparrows, but his attention was drawn to how something so small could make her look so…happy. He reached out his hand, gingerly brushing aside a stray lock of her hair from her cheek.
The bone mage's eyes fluttered open wide as the surgeon's hand tucked the lock behind her ear. A pink blush came to her cheeks and her eyes glanced away, embarrassed by the action and also that everyone present in the room was staring. Tanker's jaw had unhinged and fell to the ground with a large clatter; the noisy familiar was speechless. Shnell dropped the rag in his hand, the red auras in his eye sockets blinking rapidly. And Brodie leaned away from the counter where he was organizing drawers, his interest piqued like his eyebrows that touched the bill of his cap.
Then the surgeon moved his hand, the back of his forefinger pressed against her collarbone for one of the little sparrows that hid partially behind her neck. The animation peeked out its head, the sparrow tilting its skull to the side before it curiously hopped over and clung to his finger.
Law smirked and moved his hand to his shoulder, allowing the sparrow a new place to rest. Then he looked back to his bashful bone mage. "As a pirate, I always wanted a parrot."
Ameria arched her back as she walked out of the submarine's depths and into the fresh air. By Mortalitas, she inwardly grumbled, my back is killing me. Being tucked away in Flevance was like being locked in a cage; she didn't know how the crew could handle it for days on end. The sensation of the sun against the exposed skin of her cheeks was refreshing, making her sigh in bliss.
"You look as free as a sparrow, Miss Bones."
Ameria shoulders jolted and she whipped around to face her amused captain hovering over her. The bone mage took a step back, creating a comfortable amount of distance between.
Law seemed to shuffle forward, but it was hard to tell since he was straightening his posture. He adjusted the hold on his nodachi as his gaze scanned the port. His eyes seemed to linger on something in the distance; a galleon among the hundreds anchored at the dock. "Hmm." He pursed his lips. "This could be interesting…"
The bone mage tilted her head to the side. "What?" She asked, her brows furrowed in confusion.
Law shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Miss Bones." He reassured her with a small smile and then he shifted the conversation. "I have a task for you. I'm sure there's a bookstore on this island and I want you to try pick up the latest text by the Tulip," he said and handed her the beli. "I need something to shut Mister Brodie up."
Ameria eyed the surgeon with a peculiar look, but didn't question him. She did as she was asked, pocketing the money and then traveled into the port city. She scanned the signs of passing stores and peeked through windows for a bookstore, but all she found was multiple different company's selling similar supplies for the sailors that came. She sighed, her shoulders drooping and her head hanging low, disappointed.
She was about to cut her loses when she accidently bumped into someone's shoulder. "Oh," she turned to the man. "I'm sorry." She apologized, stepping back to give the stranger some room.
The man said nothing in response and instead held up a hand to ease the group of riled up men behind him. With a gloved hand, he retrieved a deck of cards from his ivory coat's pocket. Despite the sleepy expression in his eyes, his hands lively shuffled the deck's content. Then the man removed the card at the top and held it up, inspecting it thoroughly. The lazy look in his eyes turned to mild shock as he watched the card in his hand burn black.
Ameria blinked, watching as the man dropped the card, the thin paper fluttering to the ground in ashes.
The man shook his gloved hand to remove specks of black powder and declared: "That is a bad omen."
One of the men from the group pointed an accusing finger towards the bone mage, his bald head billowing with steam. "You will cause Captain bad luck with your touch!" He roared, causing a stir among the other men.
Their captain tried to speak up, but his voice was drowned out by the angry murmur of his crew. He pinched the bridge of his nose, looking rather used to the fact that his crew could have an awkward temper. Then with a wave of his hand, he cast aside the matter and the bone mage could have sworn she saw him mouth the words: you will be sorry.
The warning went unnoticed by his crew, or they misread it as a threat towards the bone mage. The clatter of steel pierced the sound waves as a few of the men unsheathed sabers from their cases and pistols were whipped from their holsters. The same bald man spoke up, a lethal look gleaming his dark eyes. "She must die before something happens to Captain!"
Ameria's pivoted swiftly on her heel, her eyes opened wide and her hands over her head; the last thing she wanted was to get shot again. She ducked for cover into a narrow alleyway between two differ fishmongers' stores. Glass shattered behind her as the bullets riddled the store's windows and the brick wall before her. She gulped at the newly made holes still billowing fresh smoke. The thunder of the stampede drew closer, and by the aura of grey from her hands, she controlled the dust at her feet.
As the first man rounded the corner, he was assaulted by three life size skeletons that popped from the shadows. Bewildered, the men halted in the chase which caused the men behind him to falter. She took the opening and booked it. However, the distraction didn't last long as she heard lead zoom past her ears.
Her lips pursed, her mind pumping with just as much adrenaline as the blood coursing through her veins. Bas popped into her into her conscious, but then she inwardly cursed at the already doomed plan. For some reason Shnell wanted to polish the vessel until the cartilage wore off; she didn't question and just let him have his fun. Now, she wished she was more forceful when the quiet familiar refused to hand it over.
She ground to a halt, snapping to reality when she heard gunshots in front of her and she slide to the ground instinctively to dodge. Yet, the bullets were not aimed at her.
The flash of the flint illuminated against the shadowed brick walls, the rapid succession of lead being popped from the gun's barrel. The men behind her crumbled to the ground, groaning in agony as they clutched fresh red patched that stained their clothing. The bone mage felt her blood run cold when the shells shattered around her feet, and slowly, she looked up to see a familiar face.
Eustass Captain Kidd twirled the revolver around his trigger finger, the plume of smoke following the pattern. Then as if on second nature, the infamous redhead reloaded his weapon without batting an eyelash. There was a sly smirk on his red painted lips that reached the dangerous gleam in his dark amber eyes.
Ameria froze, waiting for what the redhead was going to do next.
Surprisingly, he holstered his revolver with a grunt. Yet, the devil's grin remained on his lips as he took a step forward and swiftly grabbed her by the collar of her jacket. He hoisted her to her feet, yet his grasp remained firm.
"Did your voodoo freak out Hawkins?" He mused, a deep chuckle resonating from his throat. "It's creepy, but shouldn't be enough to scare a man like him unless his cards told him. Moronic, am I right?"
She was silent, her gaze cast to the ground.
"I think the only one that's freaked out is her, Kidd." Another familiar tone retorted. The Massacre Machine known as Killer stepped from the shadows behind his captain, his arms crossed over his chest. "You scared her shitless."
"Tch," the redhead scoffed, rolling his eyes in annoyance. "You'd think she'd be grateful I saved her ass." Then a smirk crossed his lips once more and the grip he had on her collar switched to around her shoulders. He pulled her snug to his bare side, giving her a good view of the revolver and dagger attached to the bandolier strung across his chest. "As a sign of appreciation, why don't you answer some pending questions I'd like to have answered…" and he started to walk down the alley.
She didn't struggle; she felt playing along with what the redhead wanted was the best way to survive.
Arriving to the redhead's desired destination, Kidd kicked open the door to a shady little pub that held his crew within. The inside smelled of sweat and nicotine, fear lingering in the smoggy air as one little corner of the bar was filled with local patrons that were brave enough to stay or too terrified to leave while Kidd's crew remained.
With a few long strides, Kidd was at a table in the middle of his rowdy crew and he pushed the bone mage into the seat before he bunkered down himself. Then Killer took the chair on the other side of her, leaving her sandwiched between the two. The rugged men that sat around the circular table looked away from a large sea chart spread out on the surface, eyeing her curiously. Though, their interest dissolved quickly as they went back to their planning.
Kidd grabbed a pint of beer that was placed before him by a server and he took a long swig of his drink. Wiping the back of his hand across his lips, the redhead replaced the pint back to the table and then glanced towards the bone mage. "Why did you suddenly join up with Trafalgar?"
Ameria shrugged in return, keeping her silence.
Kidd pursed his lips, his brows furrowing together. "Remember who saved your ass? Answering is the polite thing to do or has your manners disappeared being with Trafalgar so much?" Then he draped his arm over her shoulder, pulling her close again. "I'm just curious about you like I'm sure he was."
She blinked. "What?"
"She finally speaks." Kidd chuckled, a grin widening on his lips. "You're voodoo… It's pretty interesting. Any man would be smart enough to know it's useful when they came across someone with that power. An army of the undead? Hah! It's bloody brilliant."
She frowned; the teachings of her home were shining true.
Kidd then leaned in close, whispering: "Is that why Trafalgar helped Straw Hat back at Marine Ford? He saw the opportunity to potentially have an army at his beck and call? I wouldn't put it past a sleaze-ball like that bastard."
Ameria scowled at the redhead's insult.
A sneer appeared on his lips and he pulled at her cheek. "Don't waste your energy scowling at me." He jeered. "It'll get you nowhere. Put that effort in entertaining me with a little bit of bone magic."
She tore away from his grasp, rubbing her bruised cheek and pursed her lips. As defiant as she wanted to be, she resisted the urge and instead used the opportunity wisely. She rested her hands on the table's wooden surface, her palms facing up as the grey aura of her magic touched her skin. The dust from the nooks and crannies filtered to her hands and upon the table she created a miniature dragon that let out a weak roar despite the liveliness as it lifted its head high with pride. Then from her hands marched an army of infantry and cavalry, ready for battle.
Kidd was easily amused by her creativity as he leaned back to watch the miniature show of a medieval army killing a dragon. She even added a flying regime to the mix, skeletons riding a flock of sparrows. Four flew from her hands to the ceiling, circling around the exposed beams before three dove into battle so their riders could throw spears at the dragon's ribcage.
Her eyes glanced back and forth, the awe of crew and senior members never changing. She held up the charade, but she started to shift uncomfortably when the redhead's arm lounging against her shoulders shifted, his thumb and forefinger twisting a lock of her ebony hair.
Then the door to the pub flew open, a familiar black boot and spotted jean hem being exposed. The surgeon stepped inside, his expression stone cold as he tapped the case of his nodachi against his shoulder. A sly smirk crossed his lips as he stalked over, shoving past his rival's crew. He slammed his free hand to the table, his grin wide. "Is this the lost and found?" He chirped with a cheeky tone. "Oh, it seems you found my missing bone mage, Mister Eustass. It's quite humbling that you retrieved her for me, but I'll take the little handful with me so she won't be causing any more trouble for you."
Kidd stared at the surgeon with wide eyes and they quickly narrowed when the redhead noticed a little bone sparrow nestled in the crook of the surgeon's neck. Steam poured from his ears as he abruptly stood up from his seat and flipped the table. Everyone scattered so not to get crushed like the little animations that tumbled to the floor. Then the redhead turned his attention to the startled bone mage, one hand reaching for her and the other for the dagger sheathed on his belt.
In a blink of any eye, the bone mage was gone from the redhead's reach and was behind the surgeon that had moved to the other side of the bar, creating a bit of distance between him and his rivals.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that stealing another man's woman is morally wrong, Eustass?" Law mused, a challenging glare in his steely grey eyes.
It only added fuel to the fire, the redhead opening his mouth to shout, but it was interrupted by a sudden commotion that stirred outside the pub. A familiar group of men filtered through the doorway, vicious scowls craved into their cold features as the stood at attention while their captain stepped forwards with a dark expression.
"Eustass," the man drew out slowly. "You prick, stop using my men as target practice."
Eustass snapped, the empty chair beside him being thrown towards the other third captain that had entered. The man lazily stepped to the side, the chair hitting the man behind him square in the face. The force caused the wood to burst into pieces, the remains flying everywhere.
The surgeon ducked his head, the bone mage following the motion as she clung to the yellow fabric of his hoodie. They both avoided the projectile, yet splinters still rained down onto their heads. Law scanned the situation and he glanced over his shoulder, jerking his head to the door behind the bar. As the tension ran thick through the pub, the surgeon and the bone mage crept to the kitchen's door and made a break for it.
Steam from boiling pots on the open stove fogged the cramped area, and the heavy scent of grilled spices clogged her senses. Law grabbed her hand, pulling her through the cluster of cooks that howled at them, waving butcher knifes in the air. The surgeon kicked open the backdoor, rounding the corner so they evaded a flurry of blades that impaled the wooden wall across the alley.
The bone mage's cheeks went pale, and the manic laughter of her captain didn't lighten the mood.
A ways from the pub, the surgeon came to a grinding halt when a tremor shook the ground beneath their feet. Law looked back, tipping the brim of his hat as he looked to the sky, watching a mushroom shaped cloud block the sun. He let out a low whistle. "Good thing a little birdie told me you were in trouble, Miss Bones." He looked to her, a grin on his lips when the little sparrow still on his shoulder chirped. "Or you could have been in another nasty situation."
The bone mage furrowed her brows, not taking to his humor. However, she bit back her retort. Instead she rushed forward, wrapping her arms around him. She pressed her cheek to his chest, feeling his body go ridge from the surprise embrace. "Thanks for coming, though." She mumbled, a relived look coming to her features.
A chuckle rumbled from his chest and the surgeon relaxed. He placed a hand to her head, his fingers gently digging into the green wool of her hat as he said: "I don't make mistakes twice, Miss Bones."