Chapter 10: Falling in Line
The navigator groaned and rolled over in an attempt to block out the Captain's excited voice.
"Nami, wake up!"
Nami growled as her eyes fluttered open and paused in a moment of confusion. She wasn't in her room. Luffy was standing next to the open trap door of the crow's nest. A pair of familiar arms were squeezing her against an equally familiar chest and the sound of loud snoring made it clear that she'd fallen asleep with Zoro in the gym. The sun was already up, the light streaming in through the windows.
"What is it, Luffy?" She asked in slight irritation.
Surprisingly, she wasn't really embarrassed to be caught sleeping in the swordsman's arms, and Luffy acted as if finding them curled up together on the floor was completely normal.
"Sanji won't let me eat until you're in the kitchen," the Captain stated rather seriously, clearly anxious for her to get up and get downstairs. Of course that would be his reason for ruining her pleasant dreams… Dreams she'd been having about Zoro again.
"I'll be down in a minute," Nami assured the younger boy, shaking her head in amusement when Luffy nodded in all seriousness before disappearing out the door. He poked his head back in a moment later, though.
"Oi, Zoro," Luffy's voice was laced with concern this time.
"Hm," Zoro grunted in acknowledgement, his grip on Nami tightening just in case. He wasn't willing to let her up just yet.
"Robin said that some guy came by asking about me and you earlier," Luffy's expression hardened, and Nami could see that Zoro's expression was equally concerned as the swordsman sat up. "It's probably nothing but we're all sticking together today, just in case."
Luffy's gaze moved to meet Nami's, as if waiting for her to protest, but Nami could tell that this was a Captain's order and Luffy wasn't about to budge on the matter. Their search would take longer but the safety of the crew was more important. Her sense of foreboding eased just a little with the news, and the navigator only nodded her agreement before Luffy, satisfied, disappeared to head back to the kitchen.
"Why would someone come by asking about you and Luffy?" Nami voiced the question out loud without really expecting an answer.
"Maybe they want an autograph," Zoro quipped, chuckling in good humor when Nami threw his dark green coat, which he'd removed to cover her up with during the night, at him.
"Or maybe they just wanted to see if you're as arrogant in person as the rumors claim," she teased, smirking in triumph when Zoro glared at her.
"I'm not arrogant," Zoro protested as he stood up and shrugged on his jacket, raking a hand through messy green locks, "I'm confident."
He shot her a cocky grin and Nami rolled her eyes, straightening her wrinkled clothing before leading the way to the kitchen. No one really seemed surprised when the pair walked into the kitchen together. In fact if Nami didn't know any better, she would swear that at least half of the crew was looking at them as if to say, 'it's about time.' The exception of course was Sanji, who sauntered over with pure adoration, completely oblivious to (or completely ignoring) Zoro's presence.
Once breakfast was consumed (which never took very long because of Luffy) and the kitchen was neat and tidy again, the crew set out for the tavern. Nami wasn't really sure if Kale would be able to help them or not, but her gut was telling her that they were headed in the right direction. The answers to so many of the questions rolling around in her mind were within reach… Finally. Usopp elected to stay behind again to watch the ship, and deep down Nami was kind of thankful. She had nothing against the sniper, but if they ran into trouble she definitely wanted Luffy, Sanji and Zoro at her side.
Brown eyes strayed to the other end of the harbor when the crew began to file out onto the docks, but the ship that had put her on edge the night before was nowhere to be found. Maybe she was just imagining things. Maybe the stress was just starting to get to her. She forced herself to relax and fell into step between Luffy and Zoro, with Sanji trailing close behind next to Robin. Boulder was very similar to Granite Falls, only the residents were slightly older. There were some young people milling about but for the most part the general population was made up of citizens ranging from middle aged to death bed. This city was older than Granite Falls, with some of the more historic buildings beginning to crumble but still relatively well maintained and cared for.
Pirates were occasionally thrown into the mix of faces passing them in the streets, but none of them were high enough on the food chain to be familiar or noteworthy. It only took a few minutes to reach the tavern, but for Nami it felt like an eternity. Standing just outside the revolving front doors, she was suddenly very nervous. What if Kale did have all the answers, and there was actually no solution to her problem? What if these dreams were really just that… Dreams, and she was just going crazy. As if sensing her hesitation, Luffy practically slammed open the door with what sounded like a war cry, causing more than a few heads to turn and stare. More embarrassed than nervous now, Nami smacked him on top of his head before stepping over his now twitching body sprawled out on the entryway floor and heading for the bar. Zoro and Sanji were hot on her heels, and she knew that Luffy would be too once he recovered from the blow.
The tavern was huge, with a rustic country kind of appeal. Polished logs served as beams supporting the high ceiling. The floor boards were faded and looked a little worse for wear but the atmosphere was altogether welcoming. Sauntering over to the bar counter, Nami rested her arms against the polished surface and leaned forward a bit, ignoring the irritated look that Sanji was giving to the men who were leering. Zoro appeared indifferent to the stares as usual.
"I'm looking for Kale, do you know him?" Nami announced sweetly to the older man standing behind the counter.
"Who's asking?" The bar keep responded in mild amusement, clearly unfazed by Nami's attempt to flirt with him, which in and of itself was a rare occurrence.
Zoro eyed the silver wedding band on the guy's left hand and quickly surmised the reason for his immunity. Nami was taken aback by the reply but kept her cool, standing up straight once more since manipulating the guy with her sex appeal obviously wasn't going to work. She'd just have to be straight forward instead.
"I was told that he might know a thing or two about strange dreams," Nami explained, relief sagging her shoulders when Zoro stepped up to help.
"We don't have all day. Is Kale here or not?" Zoro practically barked.
The man behind the counter was only an inch shorter than the swordsman, with a lean frame and calloused hands that spoke of years of hard labor. Ink black hair hung into and partially obscured a pair of sharp blue eyes. Despite the fact that he was fifty years old, the bar keep could've easily passed for thirty but to be fair, Robin didn't look thirty and Franky didn't look his thirty six years either.
Nami wasn't used to being refused, so it came as no surprise that anger bubbled to the surface when the jerk dismissed them with a wave of his hand and moved further down the counter to serve some paying customers.
"So you're having some bad dreams," the raven haired man said when the crew followed him to the other end of the bar where he began pouring drinks for a few rough necks, "buy a nightlight. You're barking up the wrong tree, sweetheart."
Nami bristled. How dare he! This was obviously not the kind story telling man that the woman in Granite Falls had been referring to. Kale was the owner. This asshat was most likely middle management or just the bartender. She was about to tell him where he could shove the bottle of whisky he was holding but Luffy stepped forward and derailed her train of thought for a moment. Their easy going captain was slow to anger under normal circumstances, but no one was surprised when the rubber man grabbed a fist full of the bar keep's shirt and hauled him half way across the counter.
"We've had to watch her be attacked and injured from these 'bad dreams' for the last few days and we were told that Kale might know why. This isn't a joke!" Luffy shouted, clearly frustrated by the man's lack of cooperation.
Blue eyes blinked as the bartender allowed the words to resonate. Okay so these weren't ordinary nightmares. Luffy let go of his shirt and the man straightened up to his full height, expression serious this time.
"I apologize. I get a lot of tourists that come in here with stories about night terrors that turn out to be little more than dreams about losing their teeth. We can discuss this at my house."
The older man motioned to a waitress in the back of the room to take over for him and led the way out of the tavern. The Straw Hats followed, a bit confused.
"You're Kale?" Nami asked with a note of suspicion.
"In the flesh," Kale quipped, flashing a sincere smile.
Nami was expecting some weirdo in long purple robes with a staff and a pointy hat that read books to small children and boasted about his wizard powers. The woman in Granite Falls led her to believe that Kale was an expert in the subject of visionaries and her mind had filled in the blanks, fully prepared to meet an acne covered man child with an obsession for psychics. She'd never been so happy to be wrong.
They walked four blocks before stopping in front of a small cottage style home. The lawn was neatly clipped and thriving summer flowers lined the walkway. The smell of baking bread hung in the air and made Luffy's stomach grumble. Inside, a beautiful woman hummed happily to herself while stirring what appeared to be chicken stew on the stove. She was slender, with sleek red hair cropped in an A-line bob at her shoulders. At first, the crew thought that maybe the pretty young woman was the cook or housekeeper, at least until Kale stepped forward and greeted her with a kiss, announcing that they had guests. Well that explained his immunity to Nami. His wife was gorgeous. Apparently both Kale and his wife had excellent genes, considering each of them were over the age of forty and looked far younger.
Luffy was already whining about how hungry he was when they gathered around the table, but luckily Kale's wife provided them with some stew and bread slices to tie them over.
"So you said something about strange dreams," Kale started, politely chewing his food first unlike Luffy who was attempting to recount the entire story with a mouth full of bread.
Nami hesitated. She hadn't even told her nakama every detail of the dreams yet and now a complete stranger needed to know about them. She felt a little vulnerable but it needed to be done.
"Nightmares," Nami corrected, "they've been getting worse each night and recently I've been waking up with the same injuries as the ones received in the dreams," she explained, pushing her bowl of stew and bread away due to her sudden loss of appetite. Luffy was more than happy to finish it for her, grappling for the bowl like someone was going to get to it first.
Kale's brows furrowed and he went silent for a few minutes to ponder the information. The girl didn't seem like a visionary. He would know… So it was definitely odd that she would be experiencing something considered rare even in the visionary community. It didn't make sense… At least it didn't until he spotted the small crystal charm around her neck. Kale reached out to touch the charm and was immediately stopped by a glowering Sanji.
"Oi, hands to yourself, old man," Sanji warned. They didn't know this guy so there was no way he was going to allow him to touch his sweet and delicate Nami-Swan.
"That pendant… Where did you get it?" Kale asked, gesturing to the necklace the navigator was wearing.
Obviously surprised by the odd question, Nami glanced down at her necklace and cradled the delicate charm between her fingers almost protectively.
"I bought it in Rockwell. The souvenir shop there has dozens of them," she explained in a matter of fact tone, deeply confused by the growing concern in ocean blue eyes.
"May I see it?" Kale asked, holding out his hand as dread continued to knot his stomach.
He watched the navigator hesitate before slowly reaching up to undo the clasp while exchanging glances with her nakama. Luffy was still inhaling food but listening. Zoro and Sanji were seated on either side of her. The cook was watching Kale as if to make sure he didn't try anything funny. Zoro's posture was relaxed but dark eyes met Nami's and she knew immediately what he was thinking because it was the very same thing running through her own mind. The nightmares had started the same night she bought the piece of jewelry…
"I've never heard of a necklace giving someone visionary powers," Robin spoke for the first time since they left the Sunny. Franky was between her and Luffy with Brook on the other side of the captain, all of them listening intently.
"That's because it doesn't happen. You're born a visionary; you can't just become one," Kale said seriously. He really did seem to know everything there was to know about the gift of foresight.
"So why do you care about a piece of jewelry that I got for next to nothing in Rockwell? The chain isn't even real gold," Nami said with a frown, finally removing the little charm and passing it over to Kale.
His reaction was instantaneous. The moment the crystal touched his skin, Kale dropped it onto the table like it burned and fixed Nami with an intense stare. Silence weighed heavy in the room until Kale suddenly stood, retrieving a pair of leather gloves from a nearby drawer. He put them on before picking up the necklace again.
"Because this isn't an ordinary piece of jewelry," Kale concluded with a grim expression, "someone sold this to you without so much as a word of warning?"
All eyes turned to Nami and she tried her best to look innocent. They all knew her methods of haggling though. She couldn't lie, not that she would anyway.
Rockwell: Two weeks prior
"Five belli?! That price is absurd! This is hand crafted genuine crystal!"
Nami was standing at the counter of the souvenir shop with a pile of shopping bags and a large sum of money totaled on the screen. She'd already talked the owner into lowering the price by forty percent, but here she was attempting to buy a necklace for five belli instead of the listed twenty five.
"The chain isn't even real gold and considering the pendants are all identical, I highly doubt that these are hand crafted. I'll give you five belli and nothing more," Nami countered, lifting an eyebrow as if daring him to challenge her.
The shop keeper looked like he was having a small panic attack, but after several seconds of sweating under the confidence of Nami's stare, the man relented.
"Fine… Five belli, and nothing less!"
He turned his back to her to retrieve a small box for the necklace. Nami glanced around the confined register area for anything else she might want before leaving, only for honey-brown eyes to land on another necklace. This one looked exactly like all of the others, but the shop keeper had it displayed in a glass case tucked away on a shelf with a sign that read, 'do not touch.'
Nami suspected that this particular look-alike necklace was actually hand crafted due to the slightly warped etching in some places and the uneven color in the middle where the crystal was naturally imperfect. Still, if the shop keeper had it tucked away behind glass then it had to be worth something. What would be the harm in switching the two charms? They were exactly the same minus a few miniscule details. With that in mind, Nami silently used the owner's distraction as an opportunity to carefully remove the necklace from its case and quickly replace it with the one she was purchasing.
By the time the shop keeper turned around, Nami was standing in front of the register again. He moved to take the necklace from her and place it in the box, but Nami insisted on doing it herself, paying for the items and leaving the store at a quick but casual pace.
It wasn't until the orange haired girl was gone that the owner noticed something was off. He glanced over at the glass case to his right like he often did when he was working the register since the history behind it sort of gave him the creeps. It was the original pendant that had spawned all of the other factory made replicas and the pretty little crystal balls sold well so he kept the thing around as a conversation piece to lure in tourists. Something wasn't right…
Pushing his glasses up a bit, he leaned in close to the case to inspect it and hazel eyes widened. That wasn't the original… He'd looked at the case mere minutes ago and it was still there! Which meant… He was scrambling out the door a split second later, nearly tripping several times.
"Wait!" He called after the navigator girl, desperately searching the crowd for her face but she was long gone. Dread knotted his stomach.
"Oh God… What have I done," he whispered to himself, "please don't let her put it on…"
"So you stole it," Kale murmured in exasperation.
"Technically I did pay for it," Nami defended, though for once she actually looked a bit sheepish.
Kale went silent again, studying the little harmless looking charm carefully. He made sure to never allow it to touch his skin and his expression grew more grim the longer he looked at it. Nami fidgeted. He was making her nervous with all that staring.
"Are you familiar with the history of the Island of Stone?" Kale finally spoke again, and Nami shook her head before looking over at Robin. The archaeologist wasn't familiar with it either. Kale frowned.
"You're probably aware that visionaries are rare. They weren't always. Most of them actually originated from Rockwell, though back then it was called Solitaire Cove because of the enormous diamond deposits," Kale started, pausing when he saw a flicker of recognition from Robin.
"Solitaire Cove? It's been said that the world's purest diamonds came from there, but they destroyed them all," Robin recalled, looking at Kale expectantly. He obviously knew something that the rest of them didn't.
"Yes, although when the diamonds were first discovered they were thought to be nothing more than clear crystal. They made most of the original seeing stones with them and only later began fashioning jewelry out of the stones," Kale nodded and paused to sip his tea.
"Why would they destroy the diamonds, and what does this have to do with my necklace?" Nami pressed. She wasn't exactly patient to begin with but with the evening mere hours away, time was of the essence. Kale didn't seem offended by her interruption; instead he removed the circular charm from the flimsy golden chain and held it up in front of them between gloved fingers.
"One year after they started making their seeing stones out of the diamonds, bad things started happening. There's a reason modern day seeing stones are made from crystal exclusively now. The Solitaire Cove diamonds are said to be cursed. Each person who owned a diamond seeing stone from Solitaire Cove died of unnatural causes, and each of them predicted exactly how they would die before it happened," Kale continued, blue eyes meeting brown. Nami had paled.
"They destroyed the seeing stones but one of them, this one," Kale gestured to the marble sized charm, "was spared to serve as a warning to future generations. It was never to be used again, which was why that merchant had it locked away in a glass case and not for sale."
He looked over at Nami again with an almost fatherly scolding glance and the navigator slid a bit further down in her seat in response.
"Over time the story became sort of a legend. People from all over the world started requesting replicas of the seeing stone and Rockwell became a thriving tourist destination, known for more than just the precious gems and metals that they trade," Kale paused to take another drink and set the pendant in the center of the table.
"But I thought that only visionaries could see premonitions of the future with a seeing stone. I'm not a visionary," Nami pointed out with a flicker of hope in chocolate eyes. She wanted him to be wrong… She wanted these dreams to be just that; dreams.
"You're right. You're not a visionary and only a visionary can see visions of the future, but as I said before, this isn't an ordinary piece of jewelry. In fact, it's not even a seeing stone. The diamonds of Solitaire Cove were cursed but what the legend doesn't reveal is the contents of that curse. The owners of those seeing stones were not predicting the future… The seeing stones were creating the future."
The Straw Hats stared at Kale blankly for a moment in silence. He needed to elaborate more.
"The cursed diamonds feed on a person's soul. If you die wearing that pendant, your soul is trapped inside of it forever. Before you bought that necklace, the nightmares you've been having were never meant to happen. The necklace is showing you the future it has planned for you. The things you've already seen will happen because the necklace will make it so," Kale warned.
The color drained from Nami's face again when his words fully sunk in. The dream of being surrounded by fire with Luffy screaming in anguish in the background flashed in her mind. She was still alive in the dream, but what if that's where she died? The image of Zoro kissing her under one of her mikan trees followed next, and Nami blushed.
"Not all of the dreams I've been having are nightmares… Are those because of the charm too?"She asked, avoiding Zoro's gaze when she felt his questioning eyes on her.
"That's what made the original visionaries use them for a little over a year, actually. The charm does show you bits and pieces of your actual future, the future that would've happened with or without the necklace. That's how it tricks people into keeping it on, even those who already possess the power to see into the future," Kale finished, watching as the navigator blushed a bit and then stared down at the table. He had a feeling those non-scary dreams she mentioned had something to do with the green haired man who was staring at her intently. A smile pulled at one corner of his mouth.
"As long as you haven't seen your death in those dreams, there's a good chance you're going to survive. Keep a watchful eye and do not put that necklace on again. I'll help you as much as I can but there's no way to tell exactly when the visions will start to come true."
Luffy was frowning. He'd been relatively silent for most of Kale's story, but now that he'd heard that one of his best friends was going to get hurt and there was nothing he could do to stop it, he couldn't be quiet any longer.
"If she isn't wearing the necklace, is this future set in stone?" Luffy asked, sagging a bit in relief when Kale shook his head.
"Without the necklace on, Nami and the rest of you possess the ability to change her future. If you're vigilant and keep a watchful eye, there's a slim chance that you might be able to see it starting and do something to change the outcome, but be careful… Some of the original visionaries attempted the same thing and ended up causing the events that led to their predestined death instead."
Luffy barely seemed to listen to the last part of Kale's explanation. There was a way to save Nami and he was going to grab onto it with both hands. Zoro seemed to share his Captain's thought process, his jaw flexing with steel determination. Sanji tucked a cigarette between his lips and lit up, the fiery tip of the stick reflecting in his eyes when he looked up. Kale watched as each Straw Hat donned a look that said they were gearing up and fully prepared to do battle to protect their friend, and he smiled. She stood a better chance with friends like that.
"So all we have to do is beat up the guy who hurts her before he does it," Luffy said with complete confidence. Kale blinked. Well, he supposed that was the extremely watered down and simplified version of what he'd just said, so he nodded.
Luffy nodded as if he'd already decided their course of action, like finding the man from Nami's nightmares would be easy. Even though he was making this out to be a little too easy, Nami smiled and felt lighter with the words. They could do this. She was going to be okay.
"Yosh! Let's go!" Luffy announced and headed for the door, forcing the others to scramble out of their seats to keep up.
"Where are we going?" Nami ventured to ask when she fell into step beside her Captain. No one said anything about the fact that Kale had kissed his wife goodbye and followed after them to help.
"You said we were sleeping on the beach in the first dream," Luffy said as if it were obvious.
"Luffy… We're not—" Nami started, only to be cut off by Luffy's next statement.
"We're going to sleep on the beach."
If those rival pirates wanted to pick a fight while they slept and hurt his friends, Luffy was ready. Zoro grinned, falling in line at Luffy's other side with a hand resting on the hilts of his swords. Sanji slowly inhaled smoke from his cigarette with his own smile, moving to walk next to the swordsman with Kale beside him, and Franky, Robin, and Brook followed on Nami's other side like they were marching into battle. The men from her visions didn't know who they were screwing with, and for the first time since the nightmares had started, Nami felt like they were in control.
A/N: -insert pleading cry face here- I am SO SO sorry this took so long to update! I don't know if anyone is even still reading this but I really do apologize. I got lazy. There are no excuses. The good news is that I never lost interest in the story. I just didn't feel like sitting down to get anything on paper. I did not abandon you, I promise! The next update will definitely not take seven months and I really hope that you enjoyed this chapter. I also hope that my readers haven't given up on this and stopped reading altogether. I also apologize for not responding to reviews anymore but there are so many I didn't know where to start. I'm dedicating this chapter to all of you for putting up with me. It means a lot. Special thanks to my best friend and beta as usual, Oceanwind. Thanks for sticking with me guys, Chapter 11 coming soon!