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The sound of the gentle lapses of the waves glided through Robin's being as she tried once again to get her technique to work. It was not as easy as she wished it however and a momentary lapse in concentration caused the clone of herself to vanish out of existence before it had fully taken form. For months now she had been training herself every waking moment that she was not in the company of Dragon or another member of the Revolutionary Army.
The frustration of failing was not something new to her, unlike her nakama however she didn't outwardly express it. Rather she used it as inspiration to try again, determined to continue to fail until she got it right, no matter how many days it would take. The sun would begin to set before Robin decided to call it a day, thin beads of sweat trickling off the side of her face. The trek back would be a long one, however listening to the sound of nature wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Slipping her shoes back on and readjusting her sunglasses, she began the slow walk back towards the revolutionary base. Yet unlike the other times walking back, she paused momentarily as she saw a thin trail of smoke rising high into the sky to the West of where the base was located. Letting curiosity get the better of her, she began her walk towards the new destination.
The walk through the unclear path of the island was as uneventful as Robin could have imagined with only a small canyon to cross along the way, a task some may find difficult made easy with her devil fruit power. Every now and again she heard the sound of wildlife around her but they dared not approach, as if afraid of humans. After she passed by the remaining trees she came across a small cabin that looked only half complete or in the middle of reconstruction. While the centre of the building was effectively intact (at least to a certain degree) it looked like renovations had been going on for quite some time by the number of planks that had been placed for what looked like a balcony. Random pieces of equipment lay on the ground including hammers and nails of various sizes. The smoke wasn't coming from a chimney or anything from the inside; rather it was from the other side of the shack.
Walking around the construction site she found an open fire slowly burning away, several skinned rabbits roasting away unsupervised. She tried looking around for any sign of who the meal could belong to before her eyes fell upon a small outhouse separated from the rest of the building. Before Robin could take another step the door swung open as a young man stepped out. Immediately Robin could tell why this man would want to stay out of the way of strangers, his body having various scars and burns permanently marking his exposed torso. A large scar ran down his right forearm, the wound almost impossible to have been created by a blade. The lack of a left arm also helped confirm Robin's theory that this man had been through hellfire and back long enough to live to tell the tale.
"This is unexpected," he said in a wheezy voice, running his only hand through his platinum blonde hair. "It's been a while since Dragon sent one of his squad to come and talk to me. So what persuasive techniques are you going to use?"
"I'm not sure I understand," said Robin as the man walked forward slowly with a slight limp.
"Newcomer then," said the man summing up the situation in a few seconds. "Your face is familiar though, what would Nico Robin be doing on a little island out in the middle of nowhere instead of the Grand Line where her nakama is?"
"You seem well informed," said Robin playing the waiting game, unsure of what this man was capable of.
"Only in the doings of the Straw Hat Pirates, nothing else really interests me anymore," said the man as he picked up one of the pipes holding his meat above the fire, the burning metal not affecting his callused skin. "Although I have to say that there hasn't been much news of them in the past couple of months."
"You could say we're on individual vacation," said Robin causing the man to chuckle a bit.
"The only thing which could have brought you across the Calm Belt would have been Kuma's effect with his paw thingys," he said as he stoked the fire before tossing another log onto the burning embers. "He always did things strangely though, even when he was in the revolutionary army. Somehow Dragon managed to find you and after seeing Straw Hat's message in the paper you decided to come with him for a while."
"You deciphered the message?" asked Nico Robin puzzled, wondering how somebody had managed to figure it out.
"His brother Ace did the same thing when he first started his journey, his message however was targeted in the memory of a long lost friend," he explained.
"There's more to you than meets the eye," said Robin as she sat down on a nearby log, warming her legs up near the fire. "You said that Dragon sometimes sends somebody out here to see you, why would that be?"
The man took this question in stride as he looked into the sky to see shades of pink dancing on the sides of clouds. "He believes I'm a symbol more than a person, a symbol of the cruelty that slavery does to those without power." Robin frowned slightly having recently been at the receiving end of a slavery deal as he continued. "Yet he wants me to be a morale booster when I can hardly do anything if the need to fight arises. Heck I can't even do anything when it comes to building my own house. They saved my life, but I'm not entirely sure if it was worth saving a hermit like me."
"It must be difficult surviving with only one arm," said Robin knowing that she had the ability to sprout as many limbs as she so desired.
"It's something you come to live with," he said with a shrug before pulling the meat off of the fire and placing the rabbits to the side to cool momentarily. "Catching food isn't a problem, especially on this side of the island. After only having one arm for ten years you kind of forget what it's like to do things with two hands."
"I see," said Robin as she crossed her arms over her chest, watching as a single arm sprouted from the man's shoulder blade, taking the place where an arm usually would be.
"That's an interesting power," said the boy as he looked at his temporary limb, unafraid of what had just occurred. He then turned his attention to Robin who was smiling at him. "Would you like to join me for dinner, it's been a while since I've had worthwhile company." An upward tweak of the lips was all the sign he needed to part with half of his food.
"Thank you for dinner," said Robin as she found the path that Dragon's men followed to make their way to the hermit's house and back.
"My door's always open to a friend," said the man leaning on a steel pipe for support.
"Well if we are friends then is it not right that I know your name since you know mine," said Robin playfully.
"Now where would be the fun in that, most likely I'll tell you my name the last time I'll see you before you leave," said the man smiling brightly which in turn caused Robin to smile. "You'd want to get going now before the last of the sun's rays disappear on the horizon; it's a dangerous journey in the dark."
"Thank you for the warning," said Robin as she turned towards the path. "I'll see you soon."
"I look forward to it," said the man before he turned around and made his way back towards his house.
The ship caught the wind behind it and was able to cleanly leave port, Robin wearing a thick coat onboard the deck. Her time with Dragon had come to an end and now she was preparing to rejoin her nakama, an experience she was greatly looking forward to. As the ship turned around the corner of the island, the hermit's cabin came into view, complete and fully intact. Looking closely, Robin could see the blonde haired man standing next to the house with his hand cupped around his ear, as if telling her to listen. Activating her powers, an ear appeared next to the wall and he leant in closely, whispering something private.
A smile passed across Robin's face as she released her power, the limb vanishing a flutter of flower petals. "Are you alright Miss Robin?" asked one of the ships guards.
"I'm fine," replied Robin, looking at the man who bowed in response before taking his leave. She turned back towards the house to find that the man had vanished. Despite that the smile didn't leave her face, the vital piece of information she had waited nearly a year to learn finally having been discovered.
'It was nice meeting you, Sabo.'
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