Chapter 1: The Mystery Rock and the Strange Ruins
The sun was shining down just as a cool sea breeze came drifting softly over the railing; seagulls flocked above them casting the only shadows on the deck of the Thousand Sunny. The Straw Hat Pirates were up and each was enjoying the nice day…
Nami was in the library, catching up on two years of maps and charts from her time on Weatheria; she kept the window open so that she could enjoy the light sea breeze… for once able to relax without worrying about the change of weather thanks to that clear blue sky. Zoro was in the crow's nest, busy lifting weights—occasionally glancing out the window at the sea, just making sure there wasn't any danger. Usopp was up near Robin's flowers and Nami's orange trees tending his garden of Pop Greens. He had set up a small area where he could continue to grow them which he dubbed the, 'Usopp Garden' and here he was able to mass produce the Pop Greens without fear of ever running out. He glanced up at the bright sun and smiled widely at the warm air before he went back to work tending his precious arsenal.
Chopper was on deck, lying on the grass and letting his plants dry out in this hot weather while he drank the icy lemonade that Sanji made. Not for the first time, he hated the fact that he couldn't stand the warm weather as well as his friends could. He was fine in cold weather… but if he wasn't careful, even a sunny day could be miserable. However, he grinned and bore it as he listened to Brook's music. Brook was on the swing with a cup of tea sitting next to him as he played his newest song on his guitar… 'Bone to be Wild!' He laughed as Chopper applauded him when he finished and asked for another.
"Yohohoho," Brook laughed joyfully, strumming the guitar, "As you wish!" And at once, he started up with his personal favorite… 'Bink's Sake'.
Just at that moment, Sanji came out of the kitchen, a lit cigarette in his mouth, taking relief for the quick breath of fresh air after having been inside cooking over a hot stove all day. He breathed in deeply before he called out to them all, "Lunch will be ready in another hour!"
"SUUUUPPPPER!" yelled another familiar voice from across the ship and Franky was lying out on the deck, working on his tan. Next to him, Robin giggled lightly as she stretched out on her lawn chair, enjoying a new book on history that she had bought from the last town they had been at. She reached over to take a sip of her lemonade before she went back to reading about the most common legends in the New World.
While on the starboard side, the captain, Straw Hat Luffy was enjoying fishing. He tilted his hat back until it was hanging around his neck as he began nodding his head to Brooks's music; he cast the line out as far as it would go. When he finally got a bite he cried out excitedly, "HEY! I GOT SOMETHING!"
He then pulled with all his might, and with a great slash, something small and round came bursting out of the sea. Stretching his arm out, he grabbed hold of it, thinking it was a fish… only to pull it back and realize that it was a rock. Frowning in disappointment, he was about to throw it back when he noticed something strange about it.
It looked as if it had once been a perfectly round stone and about as big as one of Nami's oranges—but at some time it had been sliced clean in half as if Zoro had gotten through with it. But what fascinated him the most was the fact that it was glowing slightly… like there was a faint light inside it.
Luffy stared down at it in amazement, before he tried to take a bite out of it… only to end up almost breaking his teeth. "OWWW!" he yelled out loud before he looked at it again. "Hey guys! Check it out!"
"What is it?" Sanji asked, looking over the side with a frying pan in his hands. "Did you catch something we can eat?"
"Nah," Luffy answered holding it up to show him. "We can't eat it… I already tried. It looks really neat though…"
"If we can't eat it, we don't need it," Sanji said firmly, turning away and heading back to the kitchen.
"But look!" Luffy called as he held it up, "It's glowing! How many rocks do you see do that?!"
"Really?!" Chopper cried in excitement, coming over to see it. "Oh, wow!" he exclaimed in wonder. "It's glowing! I've never see a glowing rock before. It's not even hot."
"Yeah, neat right?" Luffy laughs, pulling his straw hat up and onto his head as they continued to look at it.
"Yohoho," Brook said, leaning over to look at it. "Such a mystery," he said in awe. "So amazing to see, I feel as if my eyes will pop out! Ah! Not that I have eyes, Yohohoho."
Luffy laughed as he held it up to the sun to get a better look at it. But at that moment, they heard Zoro's voice calling out from above, "Hey! I think There's an island dead ahead!"
"Really? An island?!" Luffy cried out excited, putting the rock into his pocket before he went running off to the Sunny's lion head and stared out ahead of him, squinting to see the narrow strip of land appear in front of him.
"ISLAAAND!" he cried out happily, his thoughts on the 'mystery rock' completely leaving his mind as he jumped up and down in eagerness. "Islaaaaannd!" he yelled out loudly before turning to the others. "There really is an island! Quick! Let's go! Full speed ahead!"
Hearing the shouting, Usopp turned to where the Sunny's 'Brain' was and called out, "Nami! Do you see it? There's a…"
"I know!" Nami's amused voice called as she stuck her head out the window to look at them. "Kinda hard not to with all the shouting going on!"
"Naaaaaaaaami-swan!" Sanji cried, hearts in his eyes as he stood below her and called up, "I hope you're hungry! I devote this entire meal to you!"
"Thanks," she called with a little wave before she checked the Log Pose. "Yep," she called, shading her eyes from the bright sun and looked ahead where the small island gradually began to grow larger by the second. "One of the needles is definitely pointing to it."
"Oh, Boy!" Luffy cried out in anticipation. "Our next island in the New World! I can't wait!"
Closer and closer they sailed, with Luffy growing more impatient with each second. Usopp and Chopper on either rise of him, also beaming and jumping around, wondering just what kind of island they were going to set foot on this time.
When they were close enough, they could see that most of the island was covered in grassy fields and flowers, but they were also near a long, winding river that seemed to lead them close to a dense forest much farther back.
"Let's follow the river," Nami called to them, having come down and was now standing with the others. "Those trees look like a good place to help hide the Sunny."
"Awesome!" Luffy cried out, pointing to the trees eagerly. "I've gotta climb one of those trees! They're huge!"
"Yeah!" Usopp agreed in relief. "This looks like a quiet little island."
"Yeah, it's nice!" Chopper added in brightly, a big grin on his face. "I hope the people here are just as nice."
"So long as there aren't any monsters here," Usopp added worriedly, glancing around as if he thought that there were invisible monsters starting to surround them.
"Ahh, no worries," Luffy said, now bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet, ready to get off the ship and onto the grass. A few minutes later, the ship entered the forest, and was almost completely out of sight of the ocean. Once there, the three trouble makers jumped off without a second thought.
"Hey, hold on!" Nami called to them all as they rolled in the grass and laughed. "We don't know where we are! It could be dangerous!"
"Don't see what the problem is," Sanji said coming up with them. "We can see everything here, and there doesn't seem to be other inhabitants so far."
"Yeah, but Sanji," Nami said in worry. "This is the New World! Who knows what we could find here."
"Don't worry," said another voice and Zoro came sliding down from the crow's nest, a towel over his shoulders as he dried off the sweat. "They can handle themselves if there's anything here."
Soon, the rest of the crew got off the ship and back onto solid ground, but soon as they started exploring, the sky started to became darker and some clouds pushed and forebodingly crossed in front of the sun. Immediately Usopp stopped laughing and froze in mid-chase of playing tag with Chopper. He looked up to Nami and called, "Oi! Nami! That sky doesn't look so friendly! Are we in any danger?"
Nami glanced up at the sky before she frowned slightly. "I think that there's a good chance that there will be a storm later. If that's the case, then it's a good thing that we came here when we did. I don't want to be out in the middle of the ocean if a big storm hits."
"But we should be safe here right?" he called. "Not…" he added quickly, "Not that I'm scared or anything! After all, Usopp, brave warrior of the sea, always laughs in the face of danger!"
"For now we seem to be safe," Nami called, still looking up at the sky. "We might be here until we're sure the storm's passed. But as long as we keep an eye on those clouds, we should be just fine. But stay on guard guys! Remember, this is the New World, anything can happen here!"
"Phew. That's good." Usopp sighed in relief as he rejoined Luffy and Chopper.
"Does anybody know where we are?" Chopper asked merrily as he watched Luffy stretch his arm out to grab a high branch and rocketed up.
"It doesn't look like a place where people live," Robin stated, pushing her sunglasses up onto her forehead, her book still in her hands. "More likely a nesting place monsters."
"What?" Chopper cried out in panic. "You really think that there're monsters here?"
"YOW! Robin, you really need to stop scaring them for your own entertainment," Franky told her as she merely smiled back innocently.
Usopp secretly wiped his sweat away and forced a laugh. "Don't worry, Chopper!" he cried out, jerking a thumb to his chest. "Even if this place is swarming with blood-thirsty monsters, the brave 'Pop Greens Master Usopp' will be here to take care of them all!"
"Really…? Awesome, Usopp!" Chopper cheered, beaming up at him like he was a great hero.
"Come on then! Let's go!" Luffy cried out swinging from tree to tree, without any worry in the world. After spending at least a week at sea, it felt good to be on land and exploring the island. They wandered through the grassy fields, Chopper stopping to gather flowers, and looking for any other signs of humans.
"Do you think there are any inhabitants here?" Robin asked them.
"Doesn't look like it," Nami said smiling around at them. "If I had to guess, I'd say that it's uninhabited. And so far, I don't see any monsters." Just at that moment, Sanji came tearing out of nowhere, hearts in his eyes as he dropped to his knees and held out two large bouquets of flowers to the two of them.
"Though these flowers are beautiful," he cried out passionately, his arms outstretched to them both. "They are nothing compared to the beauty of you two!"
Zoro, who had been leaning up against a tree rolled his eye, sighing. "Dumbass…" he murmured, clearly audible, and suddenly Sanji's attitude changed from romantic to hatred as he spun around and glared at Zoro.
"What was that?" he demanded.
"You heard me, Mr. Nosebleed," he shot back.
"You wanna go, Moss Head?"
"That does it! I'm going to shut you up once and for all!"
As the two of them started fighting each other, Luffy burst out laughing and cried out, "Come on! Let's go! Let's find some meat! Some meeeaaaat!" and before anyone could stop him, he bolted through the grass and into the dense forest.
Nami cried out, "Hey, Luffy wait!" but it was too late, he was long gone.
"Men… so typical," she sighed as she shot an annoyed glance at Zoro and Sanji who were going at each other, with Zoro pulling out two of his swords and Sanji aiming a swift kick at his head. "I swear, they haven't changed at all in two years," she hissed to Robin, who giggled as she smelled the flowers that Sanji brought them.
Nami then put her long hair back into a ponytail as she called to the others, "Hey! You guys! Someone go and see if they can find some fresh water and food. And check up on Luffy to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."
"Don't see how he can in a boring place like this," Franky said with a loud yawn.
"Did you forget who we're dealing with?" Usopp asked, his eyebrows raised. "He always gets into some kind of trouble."
They spent most of the day exploring, and Nami taking measurements for her next map. They had managed to find fresh water and fruit trees, but Luffy had grown depressed not having found any good meat.
"Maaan, Sanji? I'm hungry!" Luffy whined, pouting. "There's nothing else on this island!"
"Would you calm down?" Sanji snapped at him. "You just ate half an hour ago! Wait until dinner."
Luffy pouted at him angrily before he caught sight of Brook with his guitar. "Yohohoho," Brook said happily. "What a peaceful place. It is so calming to the eyes… ah! Not that I have eyes. Yohohoho!"
"Well, the good news is that I think the storm is passing on," Nami called from on top of the hill, her telescope and papers in front of her as she kept looking through it to get the correct measurements. "Once we're sure of that, we only have to wait a few more hours before we can get the Log Pose reset and then we can move on."
"Hopefully somewhere with meat," Luffy pouted.
Nami rolled her eyes in a good-natured way as she put her eyes back to the eyepiece; but when she moved it slightly to get a better angle, she saw something. "Whoa, what's that?" she whispered to herself as she strained her eyes to make out what it was through the trees. "Hey, guys!" she called to them. "I think I see something!"
They all glanced up.
"See something?" Zoro called, having just woken up from his nap. He let out a long yawn as he asked, "See what? Something to eat?"
"Oh!" Luffy called eagerly. "Meat! Meat! Meat! Do you see any meat Nami!?"
"No, you idiot!" she called exasperated. "I can't tell exactly what it is, but from here it, looks like some old temple or something in the forest?"
Robin immediately looked up from her book. "What did you say?"
"I said that it looks like some kind of old house or temple in the middle of the forest," she called, finally looking up. "It doesn't look like anything special though…?"
Robin closed her book with a snap and stood up with gleam in her eyes. "Well, might as well go and check it out while we're here," she answered with a bright smile. "This is the New World after all, still unexplored territory so it might still be filled with tons of old relics. Who knows, it could be something valuable…"
Beri marks suddenly appeared in Nami's eyes and she called after her, "I'll come too!"
"Nami!" Usopp complained from the back of the group. "Any reason why you insisted that we all go in a group?"
"In case there are some monsters of course," she shot back at him, wiping seat from her brow as they continued their march through the forest. They each had drawn straws back at the ship, and in the end, it was Robin, Nami, Zoro, and Usopp who had won and were part of the team. Luffy hadn't bothered drawing and came with them anyway as he looked around at the dense trees with a goofy smile. "Besides, I'm sure that Chopper, Sanji, Franky, and Brook can take care of themselves. The ruins I saw are small. In fact, it was hard to say for sure they were ruins."
"Either way, it's worth checking it out, if only for a few minutes," Robin said, leading the way. "You sure it was this way?"
"I'm sure," Nami said with certainty. "I may not be strong like you guys, but no one can read a map better than me."
Luffy, who had been swinging on vines through the trees, had caught Usopp's attention and he let out a loud cry of delight and went to find vines of his own.
"Don't see what's so fun about that," Nami said waving her hand dismissively.
"Shows how much you know," Robin laughed. "There are some things that little boys never grow out of!"
"That's for sure," Nami whispered as she watched the two swinging around like monkeys. "Well, just make sure that they don't hurt themselves Zoro."
"Why am I here again?" he demanded crankily.
After about an hour of walking, they soon came to a large clearing devoid of trees. Standing there was indeed a crumbling ruin, covered in green moss and vines. It looked like it had once been a large temple but was now falling victim to time. The walls were old and damaged—the whole building was an oval shape, almost like a mini coliseum, covered in ancient writing that was mostly worn away.
Eyes bright, Robin walked forward, tracing her hand along the stone wall.
"Wow," Usopp said gazing at it with interest, shielding his eyes with one hand so that he could get a better look at it without the sun's rays. "Look at it. It must be several hundred years old."
"More or less," Robin said, wandering around the other side, examining every inch. "And if I had to say, I would guess that this was, indeed, a temple."
"A temple?" Luffy asked, having found a few fruit trees on the way here and was now enjoying apples as he watched her examine it. "For what?"
"Hard to say," Robin answered, continuing to look at it. "But it's definitely seen better days. If I had to guess, I would say that this place is over eight hundred years old."
"Whoa!" Usopp cried out in shock. "It's that old?"
"So there really where people on this island at one point?" Zoro asked, looking up at the stone wall that showed pictures of the phases of the moon.
"Possible," Robin admitted. "However, this seems to be the only man-made structure on this island. If this was indeed inhabited at one point, either all other traces of buildings simply wore away with time, or this place was considered special and this was the only building here to begin with."
She studied the pictures of the full moon, the crescent moon, and all the way to the half moon until she noticed that there was something very strange. Running her hand over the picture of the half moon, she realized what it was. "Hey, you guys!" Robin called. "Look at this." They all ran around to join her at the stone wall as Robin was tracing the ancient words with a finger.
"What is it?" Zoro asked, walking forward to see what she was looking at.
"This appears to be some kind of door," she answered, moving back some of the moss to see. "Let's see," she said softly.
"What's it say?" Usopp asked as Luffy came jumping over.
"Is it something good?" Luffy asked, his cheeks full of fruit.
Robin frowned a little as she read out, "It says… 'Beyond these doors you will discover your greatest treasure… but to reach it, you must face the darkest shadows of your soul'."
"Treasure?!" Nami cried out, her eyes becoming beri marks again. "Did you just say our greatest treasure?! What are we waiting for?! Let's get it! It's right through this door right?"
"H-hold on!" Usopp yelled, waving his hands around dramatically. "Didn't you hear what Robin said? 'The darkest shadows of our souls?!' What the hell does that mean?"
"What's the point in waiting around wondering?" Zoro said with a rather evil grin. "I say we go in and see for ourselves!"
"Treasure!" Luffy said in excitement, ready for the next adventure as he took hold of the door and pushed.
"Hey! WAIT!" Usopp yelled, but too late, Luffy had pushed the door open and walked in. They were all standing in the middle of a stone room, the ceiling wasn't there, and instead there was a bright sky right above them. But in front of them there wasn't anything but a small, stone platform.
"You mean there's really no treasure here?" Nami asked, sounding disappointed and depressed. "I knew it. I knew that it was too good to be true."
"Aw man," Luffy said angrily.
"You see?" Usopp called to the others as Robin approached the platform and examine it. "Someone must've been here a long time ago and took whatever treasure was here! Now that we're done here, let's just go!"
"Hold on," Robin said.
"What is it, Robin?" Zoro asked. "You find something?"
She merely held up the stone that had been sitting at the altar and stared at it.
"A rock?" Nami asked in frustration. "What? That's it? Am I missing something? What's so special about it?"
"But look at it," she said, holding it out for them to see. It was in the same shape as the half moon on the door, and it was glowing slightly in her hands as if there was light inside. Luffy leaned forward, a frown on his face as his brain started to hurt from trying to remember where he'd seen it before.
"Ah! I don't know!" he finally called out.
"Don't know what?" Zoro asked him in annoyance. But at that moment, there was a feeble light shining from Luffy's pocket.
"Hey, Luffy, what's that?" Usopp asked and Luffy looked to see what he was talking about before he pulled out the stone.
"Oh, cool!" he cried out. "The Mystery Rock!"
The stone in his hands was glowing brightly. "Where did you get that, Luffy?" Robin asked at once, staring at it.
"It's what I found fishing!" Luffy laughed, holding it up, glowing like a hot coal in his hands, but still cool to the touch. "It's a Mystery Rock!"
"That's strange," Usopp said, staring at the two glowing rocks in their hands. "They look like they're…"
But then Luffy's hand shot out and took the other half of the stone in Robin's hands and grinned as he held the two pieces up. "Check it out!" he said happily. "A perfect…"
"Luffy wait!" Usopp called in panic.
"Fit!" and he clashed the two stones together. For a moment, nothing happened, but then the two halves melted together until you couldn't tell that they had ever been broken. That was when the light from the stone began to glow so brightly that he had to shut his eyes against them. When he opened them again, he was suddenly drifting in a sea of darkness with a single ball of light shining in front of him.
"Whoa!" he called out. "Hey guys! Look at this!"
But as he looked around him, he realized that he was alone.
"Ah? Guys?" he called. "Where'd you all go?"
"Do you wish to find your treasure?" the light said.
"Huh?" he asked in surprise, "Oh! You're the Mystery Rock! How are you talking?" he then realized what the rock said and asked eagerly, "Wait, Treasure? Did you say treasure?"
"To discover your treasure you must face your biggest regrets," the rock's light said.
The grin faded from his face. "Regrets? What regrets? What're you talking about? Hey, how's a rock know how to talk anyway?"
But instead of answering, it began to shine brightly again.
"Again?" Luffy cried in frustration, shielding his eyes. "Can you stop glowing like that?"
But no sooner were the words out of his mouth did the light die down little by little… but when it did, he was no longer alone… though the bright light Luffy ended up seeing a familiar face. A face that he had wished he could see again for two years…
Messy black hair, childish freckles across his cheeks, a wide mischievous grin…
Luffy's face paled as he stared at him… "Ace…?" he croaked out. "Is that you?"
(What do you think so far? A Straw Hats watching memories fic?)