Summary: According to the Dark King, Silvers Rayleigh, Gol D. Roger never called himself the Pirate King but someone must have. How did they determine that? What are the exact requirements to be named the Pirate King? The Gorosei has a list and they check every Pirate against it. Some few are distressing close to meeting all the requirements. This is a discussion of the requirements and the inevitability of the title being bestowed.
Gorosei – the group of Five that are the Heads of the World Government
Yonkou – the four Pirate Leaders to rule over the New World
Shichibukai – the Royal Pirates, a group of 7 Pirates sanctioned by the World Government and used to attempt to persuade people not to become pirates.
Author: Jade Tatsu
Title: Long Live The King!
The King is dead!
At the execution of the Pirate King, the phrase was not completed. There was no heir to take up the mantle and unbeknownst to all, save the highest ranking members of the World Government and the Fleet Admiral of the Marines, the Gorosei made a list. It was a simple list but it was one every pirate captain of note was checked against.
It was the list of requirements to become the Pirate King. A heir could not be allowed to rise.
Gol D. Roger may have never called himself the Pirate King but he had been acknowledged as such by the world at large. It had been more than his honorary title, it was the rank that the World Government assigned to him and while there were never any official documents from the World Government addressed to him, if there had of been, they would have addressed the man as 'Your Majesty' for such is the honorific given to a King, even a foreign King, even a King you are at war with. The World Government had been reluctantly forced to admit that Gol D. Roger was the King of the Pirates.
During the years following Gol D. Roger's execution the list was refined and adjusted and there had been a few close calls but no single pirate had checked off all the requirements. A few had come close, the Yonkou were always of concern but most seemed to blaze through the initial requirements and then were content. Most rookie pirates said they had ambitions to become the Pirate King but almost all of them lacked the self restraint necessary.
In the two decades since Gol D. Roger's death the World Government had half convinced themselves that no one would be able to fulfil the requirements. Edward Newgate, Whitebeard came very close but as the years had progressed he shown less and less interest in obtaining the mantel and seemed more than happy to wield his not inconsiderable power for the benefit of his sons. Silvers Rayleigh, the Dark King, most likely could have fulfilled the requirements but chose not to and in exchange for that, the World Government had been content to forget his existence.
It therefore came as a great surprise and was accompanied by no small amount of fear when a rookie pirate from the East Blue began ticking off the requirements with what seemed frightening ease.
If you asked most people what it took to be the Pirate King, they would give you a fairly mundane answer of conquering the New World and reaching Raftel and of being famous. The being famous part actually didn't enter into the World Government's requirements at all. Reaching Raftel did, and was the one point upon which all of the Yonkou failed. Raftel was an isle of myth and legend and had only been conquered once. It was said to be the beginning and end of all but what that meant was unknown. The only people who knew, those who had sailed the Oro Jackson were men who would never speak.
The first stirrings of concern came from filtered reports given to the World Government by the Marines. All initial bounties had to be approved by the Government. They were the ones who had to pay out after all. Once the initial bounty was set, the Marines were authorised to adjust the amount, within reason to illustrate the danger the individual represented. Thus it was that the first report of the young pirate almost passed unheeded by the World Government. It had after all been a small event. Most of the world would pay no attention to it. Most of the world had not cared about it.
One little island in the East Blue had been freed from the marine approved tyranny from a Fishman Pirate. The World Government was aware of Nezumi's corruption and Arlong's plan. They would have eventually dispatched an appropriate marine to deal with the issue but it had been such a small matter that they had just never gotten around to giving the orders. It came as a little bit of a surprise then when Nezumi himself had requested a bounty placed on a young man. They had figured it had been a fluke and traded Arlong's bounty over to the new rookie pirate and had dispatched an investigator to bring Nezumi in on charges of corruption.
It had been the investigators report that had alerted them to the potential problem. The investigator had been one of those penny pinching types who worried about all expenses. And thus as a part of his report he had also investigated how Arlong had been taken down. He did not want to see the World Government have to pay a bounty to someone they could easily find themselves. That's when the true story had come out about how the young man and his companions had fought for the village and the woman. It was a little line in his report, a few simple words that to most seemed over dramatic.
"The Straw-hat Pirate was content to fight for the woman navigator, but equally his crew were willing to fight."
There is no secret that Fishmen are stronger than humans. But an ingenious fighter could over come that barrier to fight equally. That four such men came together at once on a practically unnamed island could have been a co-incidence but was something the World Government would keep a note of. There wasn't enough detail yet for the World Government to be truly worried or for this unknown Pirate, this Straw Hat to check off an item on the list, but it was enough for them to keep watch.
The next concern came at Logue Town, at the place where Gol D. Roger had died. The Marine Captain Smoker had been most emphatic when he wrote up his report and that report highlighted several oddities.
"The man smiled as the sword descended. He knew he was going to die, and he was not afraid." Word for word Smoker almost quoted the report about Gol D. Roger's death. "The Pirate King smiled as he was impaled. He knew he was going to die, and he was not afraid." Those had been the words reported back to them at the execution of the Pirate King, those were the words Captain Smoker reported of this rookie pirate, Monkey D. Luffy. It was another coincidence perhaps but a more worrying one.
One major anomaly was the Revolutionary Dragon. What purpose did Dragon have in preventing the arrest of one Rookie Pirate? Or was that merely something he had done for amusement, to cover his true purpose in Logue Town? Or was there are deeper meaning there? In the end the World Government didn't have enough information to make a decision about that and put the interference from the Revolutionary Army's Leader from their minds.
None of these things were enough to tick an item off the World Government's list, but they were illustrative that given enough time, events would transpire that there would be items that were checked off the list. That was enough to worry them.
The first items were checked off the list in Alabasta. The defeat of Crocodile was of concern but as he was one of the weakest Shichibukai, he could be replaced and he would have been replaced once the connection between him and Baroque Works came to light. The Shichibukai's illegal activities were tolerated to a point, but he had more than crossed that point. Destabilising a government was akin to the Revolutionary's stance and that was not tolerated.
In the end, Crocodile's defeat was initially a minor concern to the World Government, what was more concerning was the checking of two major requirements on the list. They were requirements that were usually ticked together but that didn't make the Straw Hat attaining them any the less worrying.
The Pirate King was required to have a crew that was willing to die for them. Any of Gol D. Roger's crew would have all gratefully taken their Captain's place on the execution platform if given the chance. Many Pirates had crews who would die in their place. That requirement was one most Pirates could check off, either by having willing crews or by having intimidated crews. It made no difference.
For the reciprocating check mark it did make a difference. The Pirate King was required to be willing to die for his crew. The Marines and the Government had proclaimed that they had captured Gol D. Roger, but they had only captured him when he chose to turn himself in. He had been questioned about his crew and had said nothing, merely that they had gone to follow their own dreams now.
In the incident in Alabasta, Monkey D. Luffy had shown that he was willing to die for his crew, but they had equally shown that they would die for their Captain. For a Rookie, it was a situation that was unusual. The World Government was considering dispatching someone to deal discretely with this upstart rookie pirate but then he disappeared.
He reappeared, a few weeks later, stronger than before to issue a direct challenge to them. The events at Water 7 and Enies Lobby could not be ignored but they merely proved that Captain and Crew could fight and were resolved to fight for each other. More concerning was that the events checked another item off the list.
If Raftel was the one item that was not ticked for most aspiring Pirate Kings this item was another that was extremely difficult to check and one that was difficult to prove. The would-be Pirate King had to have a ship that was willing to fight for him. Most would say that it was innocuous, you put cannons on a ship and it will fight. This requirement was more than that. This requirement was for the ship to have a spirit and for that spirit to be willing to fight for its crew. The Straw Hat's ship had been small but its spirit had roared to the world that would fight for them.
A ship with a spirit that was willing to fight for its crew, would respond to the helm just that little bit faster, would hold steady in rough water, just that little bit more, would billow its sails just that little bit fuller. A ship with a spirit wiling to fight would do everything just a little bit better than an identical ship without a spirit. This requirement was one of the most difficult to determine but it, like the others, was not one to scoff at.
There were ships on the oceans that responded to their master's calls. They were the ships of renown, the Oro Jackson, the Red Force, the Moby Dick were a few and they all looked to serve their Captains until they could no longer. The World Government almost hadn't believed the reports they gotten, second hand about the Going Merry, but the initial report was confirmed by the Marines. The Straw Hat Pirates, had for seemingly no reason, jumped into the ocean, only to be picked up by their ship which had threaded through the blockade ships unnoticed to float, dangerously close to the bridge, in a position where it they could use it to escape.
At that point in time, there were no missing members of the Straw Hat pirates. They had all been seen and accounted for. There was no one who could have sailed it to them. The ship itself had done that and in doing that, the ship itself had checked off the World Government's list.
The marines assumed it was the defeat of Rob Lucci that caused the World Government to increase the bounty on the Straw Hat, and while that contributed, it was the check mark provided by the Going Merry which truly triggered the increase.
That item, that check mark was viewed by the World Government almost as a fail safe. Raftel was the ultimate fail safe, since no one but Gol D. Roger and his crew had made it there, but there was a danger with relying on the Raftel check completely. Those living on the New World seas could potentially get to Raftel. The island was extremely difficult to get to but it was closer to the New World than the Gorosei were. It could not be totally relied upon. This other check was almost as difficult to obtain and the requirement for a spirited ship was something very few pirates could check off and every pirate that had was watched closely. Their new ship, the Thousand Sun, felt the same, it had an inherited spirit and it would serve just as well as the Going Merry.
The defeat of Gekko Moria did not check any further requirements but did confirm to the World Government that very soon, they would have to do something permanent about the Straw Hat Crew as it did not appear that Bartholomew Kuma was sufficient for the task. They didn't seem to seek fame, but it found them and in finding them, it weakened the Government and Marines significantly. Defeating Crocodile was one thing, he had been one of the weakest of the Shichibukai, defeating Moria whose bounty had been significantly higher, was another thing. No pirate could be seen to get away with directly challenging the Shichibukai. That would destroy the delicate balance that had been wrought between the powers of the world.
What followed next confirmed the desire to destroy the Straw Hats. The assault on Enies Lobby had for the most part been reported to the world in half truths. The full strength of the Straw Hats was only known to the Marines and the full import of the challenge they had made, was only known to the World Government. Bartholomew Kuma was dispatched to destroy them. He had been instructed once before to destroy them and while the Gorosei did not wish to use him, the other Shichibukai were not considered reliable enough to try. The reports from the watching Marines, including the Admiral were not pleasing but the World Government consoled itself that Kuma's disobedience would soon be a thing of the past.
Nothing could be hidden at Marineford and the names of the Straw Hat Pirates swept around the world. Though only the Captain was present then, it was enough. And the last remaining will of the man once known as Bartholomew Kuma was expunged from his body though perhaps that had not been soon enough.
And then, after the chaos and confusion at Marineford, after the death of one of the Yonkou and the defection of the newly appointed Shichibukai Black Beard, for two years there was nothing heard from the Straw Hats. No whisper, no rumour, no impertinent challenges, nothing.
While it was irksome to just let a Pirate like that walk away as it where, without confirming their death, the World Government could not be seen to be hunting extensively for a man who was meant to be a mere rookie, no matter how much the World Nobles clamoured that he must be brought in. And so they let it be, though Vegapunk was instructed to extract any relevant information from PX-0, he was unable to retrieve anything of use and the mystery of Kuma's repeated assistance to the Straw Hat's remained. Marineford had revealed the relationship between Dragon and the Straw Hat to the world, which explained the unusual events at Logue Town, deduction allowed the Gorosei to determine the strength of relationship between Monkey D. Luffy and his adopted brother Portagus D. Ace, but more importantly those events had merely shown fighting ability. They had not checked any further marks on the list of requirements.
Fighting ability could be troublesome to counter, but it was not impossible and therefore, no matter how ferocious, no matter how profound their abilities seemed, fighting ability alone was not enough to check points on the Gorosei's requirement list.
It was when the Straw Hat Pirates reappeared and broke into the New World that the Gorosei checked off another two requirements to become the Pirate King. The checking of those marks meant that only Raftel remained and put Monkey D. Luffy into a very elite group of Pirates. Of all those Pirates the World Government had checked, it was a mere handful that required one last check mark against their name. Whitebeard had been one, but with his death the Gorosei had been calmed. Red Haired Shanks was another but after Marineford he had been watched closely but had seemed content to go his own way. He had never made a claim to be the Pirate King. That left Monkey D. Luffy. A man who had shouted, almost from his cradle 'I WILL BECOME THE PIRATE KING' as the only other Pirate with all but Raftel checked against his name.
Though they might rail against it, the Gorosei could not deny the acknowledgement of the sub governments. And that is why they checked their list one more time. To be the Pirate King, you required more than achievement, more than mere fighting presence and a crew and a ship that would go through hell for you, it required the acknowledgement of the world. Governments around the world had to acknowledge you as either the Pirate King or a legitimate candidate to take the position. It was required though that governments outside of the Grand Line also acknowledged you.
Alabasta had been the first. Drum Kingdom had followed in their acknowledgement. They both named Monkey D. Luffy as the Pirate King. Cocoyashi Island was small, and had been ignored by the government for a long time but then their acknowledgement of Monkey D. Luffy came to haunt the World Government. It was followed by the Amazon's, the Foosha Archipelago and Fisherman Island. To have that requirement marked off, you required only one government within the Grand Line and one from without to acknowledge you without you or your crew intimidating them. You could not be the unseen power behind the government and that's why Crocodile, despite being proclaimed a hero of Alabasta had never had that check mark considered. The Gorosei may have been able to ignore the acknowledgements of Alabasta, Drum Kingdom and Cocoyashi Island as caused merely by gratitude but they could not ignore the further acknowledgements from the other governments. When the letter came from one of the most isolationist islands within the Grand Line, the island of Skypiea, the check mark was more than confirmed. Skypiea had almost been considered legendary but for the periodic news that came from them and the strange happenings in the seas near Jaya. They confirmed one Monkey D. Luffy to be a worthy successor to the mantle of the Pirate King.
With so many governments acknowledging the Straw Hat Pirates, the Gorosei had no choice but to check off that mark and hope that the last two were not fulfilled.
A vain hope as it turned out.
Almost as soon as the government check was applied, news came to the Gorosei that the other acknowledgement check had been fulfilled. Acknowledgement by the governments of the world is one thing for the Pirate King, but to truly fill that position, you had to be acknowledged and obeyed by other Pirate Crews. The Straw Hats had made their name fighting both other pirates and the government. They had in the tradition of Pirates accepted other crews into their ranks. The Rumbar Pirates, the Sakura Pirates and the Usopp Pirates had all subsumed their flags to the Straw Hats but that was not enough.
To be the Pirate King, independent Pirate Crews had to heed your call and obey your wishes. Whitebeard had many allies who responded to his call. Red Haired Shanks had allies though he did not often call upon them. Pirates like Montblanc Cricket had this requirement checked though they failed to have other requirements. For some pirates it was an easy requirement, for others it was difficult. The Gorosei had fondly hoped that for the Straw Hats, a pirate crew that had never shown any inclination towards dominating other crews, that it would be a requirement that they did not fulfill. But without seeking it, and perhaps without knowing it, other Pirate crews had decided to be loyal to the Straw Hats. Most concerning was the Kuja Pirates. They could no longer excuse the behaviour of the Shichibukai Boa Hancock but at the same time they could not replace her. There had been too many defeats for the Shichibukai and the Gorosei weren't quite finished with them yet. The other was the Heart Pirates, though they would deny their loyalty. While Trafalgar Law would maintain his independence he had shown a tendency towards the Straw Hats that was undeniable. The evidence was small, but they were used to drawing correct conclusions from less. The Fishman Pirates would also obey them. That was enough. Those groups were big enough; they had enough reputation that other crews would follow their lead in acceding to the Straw Hats' orders.
And so all that remained before Monkey D. Luffy could claim the title of King of the Pirates was the final requirement, conquering the Grand Line and setting foot on the mysterious Island of Raftel.
To be the Pirate King you needed a ship of spirit that was willing to fight for you, a crew that would fight but that you would also die for. You needed to be acknowledged by governments and pirates as a legitimate ruler and you needed to get to Raftel. There were only two living pirates with all but one requirement, Red Haired Shanks and Straw Hat Luffy. Others were close, but one else was that close.
Despite a more aggressive stance by the Marines, the three remaining Yonkou still held sway over the New World and while some of the New World Pirates would fight the Straw Hats, others would not care. Pirates were not to be relied upon for this. They could order the Admirals to chase down the Straw Hats but that would almost guarantee the Straw Hats protection or at least assistance from other Pirates. The New World did not take kindly to Marines. It was too late. The Gorosei's dreams were haunted by the cry of 'I AM THE PIRATE KING'. It seemed the D.'s were truly troublesome.
They'd delayed too long in dealing with him and now, as far as they could see, no matter what they tried, it was merely a matter of time. Raftel would fall, and a new King would rise. It had taken a quarter of a century but carried on the waves and whispered in the wind, they could hear the completion of the phrase.
Long live the King!