An injured man laid in a pool of his own blood within a cave, he had black hair with hazel eyes wearing a black and red pirate coat. He was left for dead on a small island as the crew of pirates had left with his loot and ammo leaving nothing but his small ship, that’s when he spotted a red ice crystal laying behind a rock. He crawled over to it, hoping it’s ice would melt and hydrate him enough to stay alive. He was covered in bruises with his clothes torn and his hat taken by the savage pirates.
He chewed on the ice crystal before swallowing it all. That’s When he abruptly lost consciousness...
CHAPTER 1 A New Chance
After an hour of drifting through the empty darkness between life and deatles The man awoke back inside the cave still in pain, though not as much. He rose to his feet still drenched in his own blood. The weak pirate made his way outside as the pain began to subside. He opened his shirt to see his wounds closing at a fast rate. “How strange, but I don’t have time to worry about this right now” His name…was Azuma Kenousa…
Making his way outside, the healed pirate made his way across the beach when he saw a group of men in black suits carrying cargo to a large ship floating near the beach. (Hmmm, without my sword this will be difficult, but if I wait too long I’ll miss my chance of taking their ship and getting off this damn island) Azuma noticed two men sitting by a campfire with swords at their side.
The pirate charged in as the group of men spotted him. “The bastard’s alive kill him!” The group of thugs fired their pistols right for the pirate as he slid under the coming projectiles. “You all need to work on your aim” The pirate knocked out the three gunmen when the pair of swordsmen dashed right for him.
“Hmph, I may not be good with guns, but swords are another thing” One of his assailants swung his blade right for Azuma’s face when it stopped in the man’s grasp between his three fingers. “You need to work on your sword skills” Kicking his foe in the ribs, the thugs let go off the blade as it went flying into the air before landing in the pirate’s grasp. “Heh, finally I at least have a weapon now”
“Tsssk, you bastard!” The other swordsmen charged right for him attempting to stab him when the skilled pirate easily stopped the coming strike before head-butting the criminal then striking the other in the back of the head.
“There, now to find their captain. A group this big is bound to have someone pulling the strings” taking the 2nd sword from the unconscious goons he turned to the unarmed men asking: “So then, where is your captain” The crew of men stood their shaking in fear when one of them managed to grab a gun that was by one of the knocked-out men and fired a shot straight for Kenousa. With an abrupt movement, he deflected the bullet before sliding his sword back to his side.
“I will ask you all once more…where can I find your captain”
“No need to search for him, the captain is right here” Azuma looked towards the ship to see a tall built man; shirtless with black hair, black tattoos on his body wearing black pants. “I am captain Kazamo, consider it an honor to be killed by someone like me”
“If anyone’s going to die…I’d say it’ll be you” Azuma pulled out his sword aiming it toward the captain. “So then, are you going to make a move, or should I?”
“Tsk, if you want to die that badly then I won’t stand in your way” Kazamo moved at incredible speed, pulling out his blade with a sudden slash, only to be deflected by Azuma’s blade just before contact. “Sword slash: Sudden strike” Moving to the side, the pirate unleashed a barrage of sword strikes standing behind the captain with his back to him.
Kazamo froze for a moment before blood gushed from his wounds but managed to remain standing. “Hehe, you’re pretty quick aren’t you brat? Looks like I’ll have to show you who you’re dealing with” The man stretched his hand out with his palm aimed at the ground. : “Undead Revival” The crew members ran back onto their ship as a purple mist flowed from his Palm onto the ground with skeletons manifesting all around him.
“Now then, let’s see how you fare against my undead horde” The skeletons pulled out their swords surrounding him while the captain watched with a smirk, crossing his arms. The horde of undead unleashed a barrage of sword strikes however, pulling his 2nd sword out, he deflected each attack as sparks flew from his blade with each deflection.
“You must really be underestimating me if you think these bags of bones are going to be able to defeat me” Gripping both his blades He spun as fast as he could, shredding through each one of them, their bones shattering before he came to a stop. The captain watched as his horde of undead cracked apart, falling to pieces all around him.
The tyrant clinched his fist enraged, advancing right for his target before sending a fierce punch right for the pirate’s face. “You piece of shit!” Azuma moved his sword at immense speed before slowly sliding it back into it’s sheath Kazamo hit the ground lying dead in the sand. “There, time to take his ship and make my way back to town. I will gather a new crew and hunt down the ones that betrayed me”
Forcing the crew off the ship, the pirate sailed away from the island heading out for the nearest town to form a new crew…
Azuma stood out on the deck looking out over the open sea when his 2nd in command Saido Oranami walked over to him. Saido had white hair dressed in a black shirt with white pants “Captain what are you doing out here, shouldn’t you get some sleep for tomorrow”
“I can’t sleep, I want to find something rare, something no other pirate has found before. I Azuma Kenousa will become the next pirate lord”
Few Hours Later…
Their captain laid in a pool of blood with Saito pressing his boot against the injured man’s cheek. “Sorry captain, I’m done following your orders, I and the crew agreed that we’ll do better without you. I’m taking your crew and ship as my own, enjoy dying alone on this worthless island”
[End Of Flashback]
“Saito you bastard, when we meet again, I won’t hesitate to kill you” Making his way to the captain’s quarters, Azuma made his way into a large wooden room with a king-sized bed with white sheets and dark-red pillows with a dresser and mirror right above it. “Sigh, now it’s time to finally get some shut eye before I reach land tomorrow, after getting betrayed then fighting off that fellow captain, I’ve gotten really tired”
The pirate soon fell asleep as his ship drifted through the sea…not long after, a small ship came out from the distance, throwing ropes over the large ship and pulled themselves aboard. They were a group of three men and one woman who was their leader. “Alright men, look for any treasure or items of value while I look for the captain of this ship”
The woman had long blue hair wearing a blue hooded cloak. She was tall and had a calm but serious expression as she made her way across the deck towards the captain’s quarters. Azuma awoke and could hear footsteps above him up on the front deck. “Ugh. Can’t I go a few hours without something interrupting me?” Rubbing his eyes, he got out of bed grabbing his blades, walking over to the door. He opened it to find the area empty. “Hmph, they must all be on the upper-floor”
“Don’t move” A female voice uttered behind him. The blue pirate stood behind him wielding a knife to his back as she looked at him with a cold stare. “Hehe, you really think you can beat me with a mere knife? Your stance shows that you have experience killing others with a mere knife-“
The woman cut him off, stabbing him in the back before pulling the blade out dripping blood. “Now lay there and die, you could never beat me, Naiomi the blue assailant” The man turned towards the assailant, kicking her into the captain’s quarters as she hit the ground. “Like I said, it’ll take more than one mere knife to kill me”
That’s when a small knife with a blue handle darted past him piercing his cheek as blood dripped from his cheek before it quickly closed back up. “Sigh, how many times do I have to tell you, a knife won’t be enough to kill me” Azuma slowly walked over to the assassin lending his hand out to her, I’m not one to kill those that don’t deserve it” She looked at him looking into his hazel eyes as he gave her a calm look.
Her face went red as she blushed standing up. “Just who are you? I know my blade struck your cheek, yet there doesn’t seem to be a wound”
“After being marooned on an island by my mutinous crew, I was at the brink of death when I found a crystal I originally was going to use as a water source to keep myself alive. Once I regained consciousness, I somehow gained the ability to regenerate at a fast rate. So if you want to continue our little shuffle then be my guest. But I’ll just keep healing until you’re out of stamina”
Just then the trio of men appeared behind them with two of them being thin wimps wearing tan clothes aiming pistols at the pirate captain. “Step away from lady Naiomi!” The idiot fired a shot missing Azuma aimed right for their captain when Kenousa quickly pulled out his sword, deflected the bullet before sliding his blade back in it’s holder.
“Hmph, watch where you fire dumbass” The blue assassin blushed once more looking at the pirate before pulling out two knifes. “Two of you are nothing but fools, I have no further use for you both aside from Kenzu” In a sudden movement, the two men on both sides of the woman’s 2nd in command were struck in the throat by her knifes as they collapsed, dead before they even hit the ground.
“Naiomi, was that really necessary? You know you could’ve just thrown them overboard” The man responded with a sigh. He wore a black cloak with red eyes and a scar across his left eye along with black hair. “Sometimes you can take things a little far, but you’re lucky I have nowhere else to go”
“We both know if you really wanted to leave you would’ve left by now. So, what’s your name…captain? Anyone this strong is surely someone I’m willing to work with so long as I’m 2nd in command” She gave him a seductive smirk standing close to him. Kenousa started at her with a look of suspicion before turning away from her. “If you really want to join my crew then go ahead, but if you try anything…I’ll kill you without hesitation”
The woman gave him a pouty face before replying: “Alright fine, it’s only fair you wouldn’t trust me at first, but I’m sure you’ll warm up to me” She leaned on him with a smile before walking past him. “Kenzu, you will be taking orders from Azuma as well from now on, if you have a problem with my decision…I’d be happy to stick you to the wall of the ship” She pulled out a knife between each finger.
“Hehe, come now Naiomi, you know your threats have never worked on me like those two dead fools. But fine, orders are orders, makes no difference to me. So long as I get a good meal and some beer I really don’t care”
The captain looked at his new crew and smiled crossing his arms. “Alright then, from this day forward you’re part of my crew. Our first priority is getting to land and find a way to get supplies. I’m sure there’s some food and drink aboard this ship, but probably not enough to travel a far distance. So we need to find the nearest town and plan our next step”
“That won’t be an issue, as a traveling assassin, I’ve managed to get a few maps from other low-rank pirates as well as draw up my own map of each island and country I’ve discovered or traveled to. With the amount of gold I’ve saved up from my hunting pirates and sometimes finding gold aboard their ship, getting supplies will be easy. But you owe me” She blew him a kiss before going down the hall over to the 1st mate’s cabin to use as her room while Kenzu fell asleep against a large crate down in storage...
After a few hours of sailing, they finally reached Anamoa island, an island that was one entire town in the middle of the ocean. They made their way up to the docks and stepped onto land looking at the active town as citizens were walking in and out of shops.
“Hmm, feels like it’s been a while since I've seen such a lively town, hopefully we can find some good resources here”
“We should captain, this town seems like it has plenty of things to sell, maybe you can think about getting yourself new swords while we’re here” Azuma looked at her explaining that they should wait till they save up more gold before buying things like weapons and armor. “At the moment we should only use the gold for either food, water or an inn if we plan to stay somewhere or if the worst should happen to our ship”
“Whatever you say captain” Naiomi answered with a smile as they made their way through town looking at all the stores and buildings. Most of the structures were made out of brick with the roads and pathways just being dirt instead of stone pathways as well. The captain spotted a shop selling fruit and vegetables and made his way over to the small wooden shop.
“Hello, I need food for me and my crew, how much would a month’s worth of food be?” The merchant hesitated at first looking at the trio standing in front of hm. “I’m sorry sir, but you wouldn’t happen to be pirates would you?”
“Yes, why is there a problem?”
“Uh, yes sir, I'm sorry but all pirates spotted are to be arrest on sight and if struggle are to be executed. It’s not my decision, but the sea corps general is very harsh, if I pretend I didn’t see anything, I could be arrested as well”
Kenzu moved his sword up from it’s holder with his thumb preparing to pull it out as he asked: “Should I keep him from telling the sea corps?” Azuma shook his head. “No, I have a better idea” A few minutes later a group of sea corps men came patrolling the area, they wore white suits with the symbol of a blue sun on their torso as their logo.
The merchant waved both hands calling the men over as they approached the trio. “Naiomi, get ready” the pirate whispered as the sea corps stopped in front of them. “I found a pirate!” The merchant called out. The sea corps looked at Azuma who attempted to reach for his sword.
Naiomi and Kenzu hid behind a stack of crates and watched as their captain was shot in the shoulder by one of the officers as blood gushed from his clothing as he staggered back before catching himself gripping his wound. “Let’s go pirate” The middle officer ordered. He had blonde hair with green eyes as he forced the man’s arms behind his back before leading him towards Anamoa prison.
CHAPTER 2 A unique Prisoner
As the pirate was forced down the hallway, he found himself within a dark-cold stone path with cells on both sides of him. Surprisingly there weren’t many prisoners within the cells, most were empty with rust and dirt covering each cell as if they haven’t been cleaned in years.
(Hmph, expected a lot more people to be trapped in here, either this town doesn’t have much crime...or the citizens are just that scared of the sea corps) He was shoved in a cell before it slammed shut behind him. “Wait here pirate, we’ll be back tomorrow for you’re punishment” The trio of men laughed with dark smirks on their face before walking away.
Azuma stood within the cold cell as faint light could be seen through the bared windows behind him. Crossing his arms, he looked around attempting to find a way out and save any innocent pirates within the prison. That’s when a voice called out to him from the cell beside him.
“Don’t both trying to find a way out, the only way out is obviously a key which the guard carries when he makes his way through the hall every 12 hours”
“So what, we wait until the guard returns and steal the key?”
A smirk grew across the stranger’s face as he stepped up to the bars with his hands in his pockets. Azuma saw the man had pink hair, blue eyes wearing a white jacket with black jeans with a heart on the left torso and a big heart on the back. With another smirk the young man kicked open the door with a rusty screech.
“How did you get the door open so easily!?”
“Simple…I stole the guard’s key hours ago and have just been sitting in here deciding when to leave. I was planning on jumping the guard for fun but then you showed up so might as well change plans and leave now. Heh. It’ll still piss him off when he finds out I’ve escaped. So why did you get thrown in hear?”
Azuma watched as the man walked over to his cell door unlocking it. “Alright pirate, it’s time to leave before the warden and his guards return. I’m not sure, but I think unlike his mere guards, the admiral has some super-human ability, if I’m right, taking him on won’t be an easy feat, I’ve seen plenty of guards and citizens scared the moment he arrives. Either they’re just cowards, or my assumption is correct... By the way, you can call me Roxie”
The pink-haired man smirked as they made their way through the dark hallway as moonlight flowed through the windows. Opening the door they saw the warden approaching the jail, the man had blonde hair with blue eyes dressed in the same white coat and pants as the guards but with a golden star on his left torso showing his higher rank.
“You both aren’t going anywhere, this will only end two ways…either you both will return to your cells or die beneath my heel” Azuma unsheathed his sword while Roxie smirked pulling something out of his pocket. “Let’s see just how skilled you are old man” As they stood just outside the jail with the docks off in the distance, the new ally tossed a few small smoke bombs right for their target’s feet as the area was engulfed in smoke.
“Heh, let’s see what you can do when you can’t see!” Roxie quickly pulled out a knife preparing to throw it when a pillar of earth in the form of a hand shot out from the smoke, pinning the young boy against the stone wall of the jail with the hand wrapped around his waist.
“You youths are nothing but fools. I wouldn’t be in the position that I am if a mere brat like you could beat me” The smoke cleared as the admiral stood glaring at them with a cold expression. Azuma advanced the sea Corp admiral gripping his blade tightly with Roxie trying once more to throw a knife aimed at their assailant when his left arm morphed into an earth-golem-like arm, blocking the coming projectile as it broke on impact.
“Foolish brats” With a sudden punch, Azuma positioned his blade attempting to block the coming strike, only for his sword to shatter, sending him staggering back, smashing into the stone wall beside Roxie.
“D-damn it! What are we going to do against someone who can manipulate earth!?” The captain fell to his knees with blood dripping from his lip. Taking a deep breath, he could feel his injuries slowly healing as the blood vanished.
“Ah, I see you too have gained some special ability from the mysterious ice crystal. However, healing yourself will only delay the inevitable” Raising his morphed fist towards the weakened pair, earth spikes manifested around his knuckles preparing to attack.
Just then a katana pierced through his chest as blood dripped from the tip. “W-what...!?” The admiral slowly turned his head to see Kenzu thrusting his blade through their attacker before pulling it out with a cold look as the admiral spat out blood, collapsing in the street.
The stone hand crumbled, freeing Roxie while Naiomi and Kenzu walked over to their captain. “Glad to see you’re still in one piece captain, it’s not easy to defeat a warden, especially one with a super-human ability” Naiomi congratulated.
“I doubt I would’ve beaten him if it wasn’t for Kenzu” The swordsmen shook the blood of his blade before sliding it back to his side. “Tsk, I was just doing my duty of protecting my captain...also if I hadn’t saved your ass, I'm sure I wouldn’t hear the end of it from Naiomi”
“Well now that that’s taken care of, we should leave before more enemies show up”
“But what about our supplies before we leave captain? We still haven’t gathered food and drinks yet” Azuma was about to answer her when Roxie walked approached them. “You guys need supplies? Don’t worry...let me show you how a true thief does it...”
The crew waited on the ship while Oda D. Roxie walked over to the merchant. “Excuse me sir I'd like to buy a crate of food and some wine”
“Alright sir that’ll be 110 gold sir”
“First I'd like to see inside the crate so you’re not tricking me” The merchant shrugged turning around to open the crate as the thief smirked, knocking the poor man out by striking him in the side of the neck...
A few minutes later Azuma and the others looked over the ship to see Roxie approaching with multiple creates of supplies as he pushed them on wheels, up the wooden ramp before taking them to the lower deck where they keep storage. “Here’s your food and drinks, I thought about it and decided I'm coming with you guys”
Azuma frowned responding: “Why would you come with us? You don’t seem like the type to follow orders and those who won’t obey my command have no place aboard the ship”
Roxie smiled as the sea breeze brushed across his pink hair. “Heh, true I hate taking orders from those I see as weak or boring...but you seem interesting...you don’t care what happens so long as you reach your goal...so we are two of a kind, I will be your thief and make sure we steal the treasure. How’s that sound, captain?”
Azuma Kenousa looked at him intensely before letting out a sigh. “Very well Oda D. Roxie, welcome aboard my crew”
“Thank you captain I will do my best to aid you in capturing all the riches this world has to offer. But first, we should name the ship” Kenousa looked at him as if he had said something stupid. “A name? What’s the point of naming a mere ship?”
That’s when Naiomi spoke up: “Actually captain, it is common to name your ship, especially amongst pirates. If you want to make a name for yourself, coming up with a unique name for your ship and crew is the 1st step for any pirate”
He thought for a moment before responding: “I can’t think of a name”
“A name isn’t just something you come up with, it has to have a deep meaning behind it that represents the crew. In time it’ll come to you” The young thief told him.
CHAPTER 3 The Real Adventure Begins
With supplies and their crew grown, they set out onto the deep sea while Naiomi placed a large blank sheet of paper on a board against the wall in her room as she kept track of where they traveled slowly drawing a map for them to use for easy navigation once they’ve explored the entire world.
Azuma stood out in the front of the ship looking out at the sea, his arms crossed as the sea breeze brushed across his face. The moonlight shined over their ship illuminating the sea as it sparkled with small fish flipping out of the water from time to time. He let out a sigh.
“So, this is how you spend your free time? Staring out at the sea like a statue?” The man turned around to see Roxie sitting on the gaff of the ship looking down at him, his hand on his knee casually. “I’m just waiting until we reach our first destination, hopefully we’ll find some treasure or at least some weapons, could use something better than this warn out blade I stole from a group of low-rate bandits”
Azuma unsheathed his blade looking at the low-quality blade with a warn-out grip. “I’m sure selling it would only get me a few pieces of silver if that” He slid it back to his side before walking to the back of the main deck. “I’m going to take a nap, wake me up if you see land”
“Aye-aye captain!” Roxie responded playfully, jumping from the gaff onto the main deck as the pink-haired thief walked up the wooden steps, leaning on the galver, also known as the steering wheel of the ship. Meanwhile Azuma walked down the narrow hallway, the small path illuminated with lanterns on the wall as he pasted Naiomi’s room where he found her fast asleep. He stood and watched as she slept so calmly before making his way to his own room.
The pirate set his blade up against the wall beside the bed as he carefully laid in his king-size bed with several black pillows and a thick white quilt. As he laid in bed, he looked to see a port that looked out on the sea with a wooden desk and chair in front of it so he could admire it up close. Not long after he fell asleep....
PHANTOM SHINE ARC
Azuma awoke to the glimmer of sunlight flowing through his window as he slowly stood up, his hair a mess as he grabbed his blade and made his way down the passageway when he heard Naiomi in her room. He continued forward before standing in her doorway, only to find her wearing merely a bra and panties.
“Huh? Naiomi looked to see her captain blushing at her with his hand on his torso unsure of what to say. Naiomi blushed before a smile grew across her face as she walked over to him. “Hello captain didn’t think you’d stop by my room so suddenly” She stood inches from him with a seductive smile as Just then Roxie walked into the passageway before spotting Naiomi. His face grew red as a little blood ran from his nose.
“Tsk! Can’t you see me and the captain are busy!?” In a fit of rage, the assassin quickly pulled out a knife she hid in her panties holding it in one hand before throwing it like a dart right for the man’s face. Azuma watched in surprise as the sharp projectile hit the doorframe mere inches from her target as he stood frozen with a nervous smile before backing out slowly closing the door.
“So then, where were we? Azama blushed telling her: “We need to focus on the task at hand Naiomi” She gave him a sad expression before her captain walked outside onto the main deck as an island came into view. “Finally, we’ve reached our first stop”
“Yea that’s what I was gonna tell you before...that happened” Roxie rubbed the back of his head nervously with a smile while Azuma walked over to the front of the ship as they drew closer to the island. A carnival could be seen with a ferries wheel, rides and colorful lights. “Hmmm, I’ve never been to a carnival before, would like to explore it” Naiomi and the others walked over to him looking out on the island, as Naiomi grew excited.
“I haven’t been to a carnival in years! This definitely will be a great stress reliever for our first exploration” Kenzu just stood there crossing his arms with a look of disinterest. Roxie placed his hand on the swordsmen’s shoulder commenting: “Come on sword boy, you don’t need to act tough all the time, you need to relax from time to time”
They reached the shore as the ship came to a halt. Azuma stepped down upon the new island with his crew following behind. They found themselves standing in a grassy field with a path leading into the forest covered with trees. “Hmph, seems there’s only one way through, keep your guard up” Azuma ordered before making his way down the dirt path as the sun was blocked by the many trees shading the path.
They carefully walked through the forest path with Azuma leading the way along with Naiomi following close behind while Roxie walked a few feet behind them with his arms behind his head in boredom. “Sigh, this place better be worth all the traveling, my body’s stiff from sitting on that ship all night, I wish we had something to fight, otherwise my skills are going to start getting rusty”
Kenzu trailed behind them watching their backs as his arm rested on his blade in case he needed to use it at a moment's notice. Birds chirped out in the distance with a calm breeze as they finally reached the clearing that led to the entrance of the carnival, they saw a large blue sign that read:
“PHANTOM SHINE PARK”
“Looks like we found it” The crew made their way up to the entrance where a man dressed in a black tux with long purple hair and blue eyes stood at a booth waiting to let them in.
“Welcome all to Phantom shine park, feel free to try all the rides and food we have in store for all who come to explore the park. The fee is one silver piece per admission” Naiomi brushed past Azuma with a smile placing four gold coins on the counter. “This should cover the fee”
“O-oh, I'm sorry but I might not have enough change for this”
“Don’t worry about it” She wrapped her arm around Azuma’s pulling him past the entrance into the park as they found themselves in a large park with a red paved street, many different rides and attracts for miles. “Alright, me and Azuma are going to go try out some rides, you both can feel free to do what you want till we’re done and Roxie, don’t do anything stupid”
“What!? Why am I the only one being called out!?”
“Because you’re a known thief plus you have the kind of attitude that seems to spell trouble so don’t be an idiot or I will personally stick your head on the wall” He looked to see her revealing a concealed knife before hiding it.
“Y-yes ma'am” Roxie answered shaken in fear as his face went red. As she dragged the captain away, Kenzu just stood there with his arm still resting on his blade. “Sigh, it’s nice I can finally relax, though a carnival isn’t really my thing. Though I'm sure if I just let you go off on your own you probably would do something stupid. Come on, we’re going to explore the park for anything of value, plus it would be nice to get some fresh air away from the sea”
“Awww, but I wanted to try out all the rides!” Roxie’s arms dropped as he gave the swordsmen a sad expression. The dark-haired man sighed closing his eyes in frustration before telling him: “Fine do what you want, but I'm looking around for a while, better than wasting time on these pointless rides”
Roxie jumped with excitement running to a large Ferris wheel while Kenzu made his way down the long red path, past the spinning teacups and other well-known rides you’d normally see at a carnival. That’s when he spotted a large pink fun house with a tall thin man dressed in a black suit with clown paint on his face wearing a top hat. Something about the man felt off but Kenzu proceeded down the path when the clown stopped him. “Wait sir! Certainly you want to try out the house of the phantom before you leave!”
“No thanks, I'm not really into fun houses or anything this place might have to offer. Mainly since I'm not what you would call a social person” The clown placed his hand on the pirate’s shoulder, a sudden chill ran down the man’s back as he turned towards the strange man gripping his blade glaring at him. “Fine, if going in this fun house will get you to leave me alone then fine. Let’s get this over with already”
With a sigh the man made his way through the large dark doorway as he stepped inside. He found himself in a narrow pink hallway with a black and white checkered floor. Venturing deeper, he reached a doorway that led him into a large room with many different flights of stairs warped in random directions as you would expect from a fun house.
“Ugh, I never really was one for mazes” Kenzu chose the stairway in the middle as he began making his way up the white steps, the stairs spiraled until he reached the top finding himself in a large, warped room where a figure made of pure darkness stood before him. It’s body swayed around as if it were drunk, it’s eyes glowing red.
(What is that thing? It seems too real to be a prop or a man in a costume) Without warning the creature lunged toward him as it’s dark hands reached for him. In an abrupt reaction, Kenzu unsheathed his blade in an instant as the entity floated in mid-air motionless past him. before evaporating into particles of darkness. “Sigh, I knew there was something off about this place, I should get out of here before another one of those shadow bastards reappear”
He spun around quickly to go back the other way, only to find the stairwell had vanished with no way back. “Of course, why am I not surprised. Whatever, seems forward is my only option” Kenzu raced down the large pink room when he spotted the same clown that had insisted he’d enter the fun house in the first place.
A smile grew across the clown’s face as he placed his hand upon his top hat. “Hehe, I only wanted you to enter the fun house so I can steal your soul and use it to become stronger...I'm weak, but once I absorb enough life essence of the souls of the living, I shall be strong enough to make those who ruined my life pay”
“You’re crazy, who would believe that bullshit of a story?” The clown began to sadistically laugh as he smeared the face paint he was wearing, revealing a decayed undead face on one half of his face.
“W-what the hell!? Just what are you!?”
“Hehe, do you believe me now!? For years I've spent trapped in this undead body...the feeling of cold being the only thing I can feel. I should’ve died, but the bastard revived me using some power to raise the dead into an undead corpse. The man began to cry but no tears could be seen from his shriveled body. “I-I just want to die, I can’t stand being in this body...between life and death. Then one day, I found something, a crystal that when consumed gave the person power. Since I wanted to live again, I was given the power to steal the life essence of anyone I came in contact with, from there I've regained my strength over time, siphoning the life of all who enter”
“Who’s the one that resurrected you, if he did this to you, he’s also the one that can undo it”
“Why would you help me? You have nothing to gain from it, and you’re nothing more than a stranger...just submit and let me steal your life essence!” Clinching his fist, the clown lunged at him reaching right for him. Kenzu gripped his katana as he dodged the coming foe before swiftly decapitating his opponent from behind in one swift motion.
The man’s head rolled across the tiled floor as it looked up at him. “Shadow art: demon fist!” A colossal fist made of darkness manifested from the ground as it threw a strike right for the swordsmen. Quickly putting his blade up to guard, the fist struck his sword with immense force, sending him staggering across the air before hitting the wall of the room before landing on his stomach dropping his blade.
“I knew you would try something like this, sadly for you I can just form a new body” Kenzu watched as the body of another shadow entity formed, attaching the clown’s head onto it’s shoulders as he slowly approached the swordsmen. “Now then...you’ve given me far more trouble than I would’ve liked, I can’t afford to waste my precious strength on a nobody”
The pirate reached for his weapon when his assailant grabbed him by his throat, beginning to siphon the life from his body. Kenzu’s once black hair began growing gray as his face grew wrinkled. “Since you’re about to turn to dust, I shall tell you my name...my name is-” Just then a knife flew through the room, piercing the clown’s arm, causing him to drop the weakened swordsmen, turning to see Azuma and Naiomi.
“How did you two get inside my funhouse!? Tsk, I guess it doesn’t matter, you’ll just be more life force for me to consume”
“We’ll see about that you chaotic freak, I won’t let anything happen to Kenzu!” Pulling out three knifes from her pocket, Naiomi sent them flying straight for the undead’s decaying skull as they pierced his cheeks and center of his skull. “Heh, I hope that hurt!”
That’s when their target slowly walked towards them, removing the blades from is cracked skull. “I’m sorry my dear...but I no longer feel pain...but I'm sure you still do!” Throwing all three blades, the crew watched as the flying knives were abruptly sent through a small dark rift, teleporting them.
“What the-” Before their captain could react, a rift opened beside his head. “Captain!” The assassin pushed him out of the way just as one of the blades came firing out of the rift before going through another.
“Hehe, Haha! This may actually be fun to watch. Even if you manage to dodge one of them, they’ll just be sent through another rift until one of them pierces you!” The undead clown giggled crossing his arms as he watched the madness unfold.
“Damn it, he’s saying he can just teleport our own projectiles around us like pinballs until we’re hit? Sigh, what a pain” Azuma stood back up when seven rifts manifested around the pair.
“Hehe, which one do you think your precious knifes will come out of? Better react fast or you’ll be pierced by your own blades!” The pirates watched each one carefully, waiting... Without warning, all three knifes came out from random rifts, flying straight for them. The pair evaded the coming projectiles as the small blades began to fly in and out of rifts at rapid succession.
“Tssk! Fuck this!” Tired of the same old tactic, Azuma threw both hands out, using himself as a wall when all three projectiles pierced through him all at once, two in his abdomen with the 3rd in his back. Blood began to seep down his body dripping on the floor, his body shaking in pain. “Huff...huff, enough of your little tricks. I’ve got b-better things to do than waste my time with the likes of a mere undead clown”
A smirk grew on the villain’s face as he responded: “Oh really? And just what is so important that you should live?” Azuma slowly lifted his head looking him dead in the eye. “I’m going to become the next pirate lord...and to do that...I need to become stronger. Until that day comes, I won’t die”
“HAHAHAHA! A pirate lord!? You can’t be serious! You’re nothing more than another drop of rain in a vast ocean, what makes you so special!? Pirate lord is a title given only to those who’ve accomplished great feats as well as made the sea quake with their power. What have you accomplished?” The clown walked up to the captain, staring deep into his eye mere inches from his face.
Just then, each knife piercing the man’s body slowly slid out as they hit the ground with a clank. “Hm?” The undead hatter watched as each would began to heal on the pirate’s body before completely vanishing as if it was never there to begin with.
“Impossible, you have a magika ability!?” Without a word, Azuma gripped the fiend’s rotting skull with his bare hand, crushing it with ease as the figure collapsed to the floor. Naiomi watched in shock, unable to form words of what just happened.
He looked down at the remains of his foe. “I will...become the next pirate lord...weather it takes 10 years or 100, I will overcome any obstacle that stands in my way. Even death won’t block my path” Stepping over the remains, Azuma walked over to Kenzu who’s gray hair slowly reverted back to it’s youthful black hair as he slowly awoke before his captain.
“C-captain Azuma? When did you get here?”
“About a moment ago, you were getting attacked by that sadistic clown, luckily Naiomi managed to draw the monster’s attention just before the life was drained from your body” The blue assassin slightly blushed looking away, embarrassed that the captain was giving her credit for saving Kenzu.
With a slight cough the swordsmen slowly got to his feet. “Thank you, Captain, you too Naiomi, I knew I should’ve gone in this damn funhouse, especially with my gut telling me something with wrong to begin with”
As they made their way outside, Azuma spotted Roxie having fun in the spinning teacups by himself while he and Naiomi walked Kenzu over to a bench that sat along the path of the park. “Sigh, I should give that thief a kick in the ass, but I'll let him enjoy himself for now”
“Are you sure captain Azuma? I could give him a light stab in the back if you wish” Azuma sat beside the swordsmen looking up at Naiomi who gave him a smirk wielding a knife as if ready to throw it right at her own crew member.
“It’s fine, we deserve to relax from time to time, but eventually I want to explore the rest of this island, I'm sure if that freak was here, I'm sure there’s bound to be more magika users around...”
Chapter 4 Beyond The Park
As the sun began to shine red just below the trees of the island, Azuma finally rose from the bench with Naiomi and Kenzu still at his side as they walked down the stone path to the north part of the park where Roxie was riding the large black and red Ferris wheel.
“Ahhh, this is one of the best days of my life” Roxie told himself as he leaned back in the large pod with his hands behind his head and legs crossed as it made it’s way to the top of the wheel before coming to a halt. Azuma stopped in front of the red steel steps of the ride looking up at the pod his crew mate sat in. “Roxie! It’s time to move out, I've given you a few hours to enjoy yourself while we on the other hand were attacked by a magika user!”
The pink-haired rouge groaned replying: “Aww come on, can’t we relax just a little long!?” Azuma looked Naiomi in the eye who nodded pulling out her knife, tossing it right for the pod holding the crew member. The sharp blade pierced the steel pod, her blade right above the man’s head.
Opening his eyes to see a knife just inches from his skull, he let out a gasp as his eyes widened with fear. “ALRIGHT, I’M COMING!” They watched as the scared thief leapt from his pod, running down the support beams before landing in front of them. “Huff, here I am. Now what’s so important you had naiomi throw a knife at my head!?”
His captain gave him a serious look. “As much as I want to also relax, Kenzu was attacked by a clown that seemed to possess a magika ability...I'm not sure how rare it is for people to acquire a crystal since I was lucky to be stranded on an island that had some growing, but it’s still suspicious some random clown had one.
That’s when Kenzu spoke up. “When I was fighting him, he told me he was resurrected by someone and trapped him on this island. It’s a long shot, but maybe the one that trapped him here is somewhere on this island. If not, it’s all we have to go off of” They turned to Azuma who thought about it for a moment. “You could be right, but why would they stay here? What value does this island have to them? Either there’s something on this island we need to find, or whoever trapped him here is long gone and we won’t be able to fin him until we have more info”
They made their way to the north end of the park where they reached an exit with a warning sign written: “WARNING: Phantom Forest, enter at own risk” Azuma took a deep breath before passing the sign with his crew following close behind.
“Cap’ are you sure it’s a good idea to leave the park? The sign clearly says enter at your own risk” Roxie commented a little unsure about exploring the woods. Azuma continued to walk as he replied: “Are you worried something’s going to eat you Roxie? I thought you’d be confident like you normally are in these kinds of situations, what’s got you so scare all of a sudden?”
Roxie clinched his fist. “I-I'm not scared...I just think we should wait until morning to explore the forest so we can see better”
“Ah, so you’re scared of the dark is it? Tell me Roxie...what in this forest could possibly be a threat to us? Kenzu is well enough to use his blade as well as Naiomi’s quick reflexes and accuracy with her knives and other weapons. With all that, you shouldn’t have a reason to be scared so long as you actually stay with us. Though knowing you, I'm sure you’ll do something stupid that gets you lost”
After about an hour of exploring the woods, they began to notice a change around them, the once green trees and grass around them, were now pink cotton candy looking trees with a brown pathway leading forward. They were hesitant to venture deeper, but Azuma knew this was something worth looking into.
Walking down the path, he could tell that what he was walking on wasn’t stone, presuming it to be solid chocolate. A parallel line of marshmallows on both sides of the pathways appeared like rails as he spotted a large mansion that was made out of gingerbread. Seeing the house made Azuma stop in his tracks at the sight of it. “What is this, some kind of fairytale? Who builds a house made of candy in the middle of the forest on a random island!?”
Roxie let out an excited cry preparing to run towards it when Azuma gripped him by his collar as he ran in place full of energy. “Look at all that candy! I have to try some!” Meanwhile Kenzu gave him a cold glare crossing his arms. “Sigh, you really are stupid, aren’t you? You let your greediness get the better of you instead of wondering why a forest of candy is just sitting here. It could just be a trap for those who get lost. How do you know the candy isn’t poisonous or there’s some kind of trap set around the house for dimwits like you?”
Roxie looked at his captain with sad eyes hoping to convince him to try the candy. “Tsk, if you want to risk it then be my guest, Kenzu, keep watch over him incase this really is some kind of trap” Azuma tossed the pink-haired pirate towards the house as he landed on his feet racing towards the house filled with excitement while the swordsmen followed behind, his arm close to his sword.
“So, you think it’s some kind of trick?” Naiomi questioned standing beside the young captain. He sighed, crossing his arms. “If this really is just a ruse to lure innocent people by dark means, it’s best we deal with it to ensure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
That’s when Roxie’s cries could be heard a few meters away. The pair shot up towards the house, only to see one of the windows open like a mouth as a tounge-like thing shot out from the stretched window, grabbing the poor thief by the neck as it wrapped around his throat before yanking him inside.
ROXIE!” The trio cried as the window reverted back to normal as if it had a mind of it’s own. Azuma and Naiomi rushed over to the swordsmen who gripped his katana, preparing to slice through the wall of gingerbread. “Kenzu what happened!?”
“I’m sorry captain, one second the idiot was in front of me, the next he was getting pulled inside before I could sever whatever grabbed him. Don’t worry...I doubt a mere gingerbread mansion is strong enough to withstand a strike from my blade” With a firm grip of his blade, Kenzu unleashed a sudden slash across the left side of the mansion as the wall began to crack before crumbling to the ground.
As the dust-like sugar faded, they could see a large library with a gingerbread floor, licorice pillars and marshmallow furniture. The trio cautiously stepped inside, examining the candy-filled room with both surprise and disbelief.
Walking over to one of the gingerbread bookcases, Azuma pulled out what he expected to be a fake book made of candy, only for it to be a real book. “Huh? Seems this book is real, which means all these books must be real unlike most of this house. Though, if there’s real books here, that must mean someone actually lives here. We need to find Roxie and the bastard that took him”
“Yes sir!” Naiomi responded as they searched the library for any secret pathways or clues on where Roxie could’ve been taken. Kenzu walked out of the library, finding himself in a large lobby where the floor was solid chocolate, stairs in the center of the room leading to the 2nd floor which were made of white chocolate with licorice as the railing.
“Hmm, I guess I'll check the 2nd floor while Azuma and Naiomi search the library” As he walked up the stairs, he thought he heard something just up ahead. The swordsmen walked slowly up the stairs, quietly unsheathing his blade as he reached the 2nd-floor corridor. He started closely at the dark-chocolate hallway with rows of doors aligning the hall with candy cane doorframes.
That’s when high-pitched giggles could be heard from behind the doors. Kenzu took a step forward when the doors slowly creaked open all at once before him. Kenzu grew unease when a small figure slowly leaned it’s head out the door, it was a small gingerbread man with a creepy smile on it’s face. It let out high-pitched giggles standing motionless before the man.
That’s when more and more laughter could be heard as a gingerbread man stuck it’s head out of each doorway looking right at him as if from a horror movie. “W-what the hell is going on here!?” That’s when a horde of them began charging towards him like gremlins as they let out sadistic laughter.
Kenzu could feel himself slowly backing away before he realized what he was up against. “T-these are just gingerbread men...cookies, I'm a trained bounty hunter! Tsssk, stay back!” Gripping his sword with both hands, Kenzu brought his blade down with one abrupt slash. He watched as a fierce wave of force pierced right through the center of the horde, slicing the demonic cookies to pieces as half of them hit the floor.
“Sigh...that’s right, you pipsqueaks are nothing to a trained bounty hunter like me” The horde stopped as they circled around all the broke figures lying on the floor. That’s when they all began to pile on top of each other, there once high-pitched laughter began to become a deep-tone laughter as the small cookies merged into a 7-foot-sized gingerbread man.
“W-what the hell!? G-get back!” Sweat tripped down the bounty hunter’s face as he sent a barrage of fierce sword strikes right for the merged entity, only to watch as it’s wounds quickly healed as if it was made from soft dough, each slice slowly closing back up. “TSSSSSK!” Unable to think of a way to stop the tall laughing figure, Kenzu leapt from the railing, landing in the grass where he rushed back into the lobby.
“Captain! We have a problem! Some gingerbread golem is upstairs and is making it’s way down here! I’ve tried cutting it to pieces, but it seems to have no effect on it!”
Azuma gave him a confused look before responding: “This isn’t like you to make jokes Kenzu, but we don’t have time for this, we need to find-” Just then the large gingerbread man smashed through the doorway staring right at them with it’s creepy red eyes and frosting smile as it continued to laugh with it’s deep voice.
“This day just gets weirder and weirder. Naiomi, Kenzu get out of the way, I'll deal with this large bastard” His crew members nodded as they ran past the large candy brute. “Alright, bring it on you candy bastard” It looked him in the eyes before charging right for him, it’s feet stomping with every step. Azuma dashed forward, throwing a punch right to his target’s face as he struck the right gumdrop eye of the creature.
It let out a deep bellow stepping back as it placed it hand to it’s eye before smacking Azuma across the room, causing him to impact one of the book frames, causing it to break as dozens of books hit the ground. “Sigh, you’re a tough bastard, aren’t you? Well, if I can’t break you...then let’s try this!”
Advancing towards his foe once more, Azuma gripped the gumdrop eyes on the gingerbread man’s face, taking them away before jumping back. (Hmmm, if this works, it won’t be able to see me anymore. Though it could’ve just been for show and I took these for nothing. But at this point, nothing would surprise me)
Closing his fist to hide the eyes, he looked up at the creature who began to let out loud cries of despair as it’s once smile turned to a frown as it proceeded to flail it’s hands around, smashing the library in an attempt to reclaim it’s gumdrop eyes.
(Hmm, if it actually does need these to see...does this mean it also has internal organs as well?) Placing the gumdrop eyes in his pocket, he snuck up on the raging monster, throwing a punch right for the creature’s back as he punched right through it’s gingerbread skin.
“Hmph!?” That’s when he realized his fist was stuck inside it’s back. “D-damn it...I-I can’t free my hand!” The gingerbread began to slowly travel up his armor as he was pulled inside the golem...
Meanwhile Kenzu and Naiomi searched the house for any sign of Roxie, only to find nothing but empty rooms. As they raced down the stairs, they came to a halt at the sight of a tall buff man with pink hair, red eyes wearing a white cloak and black pants. “Hello...I see you’re looking for something...allow me to help you both”
Before the pair could react, the figure shot his arm out right for them, his arm becoming pink taffy as his fist struck the pair across the face knocking them out...
Kenzu and Naiomi awoke chained to the wall in a large basement where they spotted the same man standing before them along with the giant gingerbread at his side. “Ah, I see you’re both awake. Welcome trespassers to my hidden lab where I bring those stupid enough to trespass on my property”
The pair struggled to free themselves from the tight chains but in the end was in vain. “Hehe, try all you like, but you all have no chance of escaping from here. I suppose you’re wondering why I bring trespassers down here...torture? Imprisonment? Or perhaps I just kill them for the fun of it? Well, you’d be wrong. The reason I've brought you all down here...is because years ago, I discovered something that would change the world...Magika crystal creation”
The pair’s eyes widened at his words. “Magika....creation? No...it’s not possible, no one can just create crystals, it takes time” Kenzu commented as both looked at him as if he were insane. He slowly walked up to them, looking the bound swordsmen dead in the eye. “You’re right, it does take time...but that’s only if they’re created naturally like plants or oxygen. How are magika crystals created? From a buildup of natural energy that then condenses into one spot until a crystal grows in that area like a tree or fruit. That’s when I realized...life itself is a natural form of energy. So, I thought if I can drain the human body of it’s life energy, I then could condense their life essence and replicate the creation process of the magika crystal!”
Naiomi continued to struggle. “Just how do you expect to drain the energy from us? Something like that just sounds like a psycho’s fantasy”
“Oh really? Have you heard of spiritual energy? It’s the physical manifestation of one’s own life force that can be used to enhance one’s own capabilities as well as supernatural abilities. Allow me to demonstrate”
The pair watched as the tall gingerbread man opened it’s stomach, revealing Roxie in the center, his arms and legs bound by the thick dough of the entity. Standing before the unconscious pirate. The man placed his left palm against Roxie’s face while opening his right to reveal a gumball. “Now watch, as I siphon his spiritual life force from his very body and transfer it to this mere gumball”
“NO STOP YOU BASTARD!” The blue assassin cried out as she struggled with all her might to free herself from the chains. “Don’t worry my dear, it won’t hurt him, he’ll just grow weaker until his heart stops. Like one dying in their sleep” A purple aura began to transfer from Roxie’s face as the gumball began to emit a purple aura as well.
“Behold, thanks to my magika ability to turn myself as well as non-living things into candy, I can transfer his spiritual energy into this gumball thereby condensing natural energy into one location ergo replicating the process of crystal creation. To you both it might not make sense, but to one who’s spent years alone in these woods…one only has time to think and study. I had come to this island many years ago…back when I was a mere boy. I loved phantom Shine park, the rides, the people…but after awhile, I grew bored, I wanted to explore the rest of the island much like you. But sadly, it wasn’t long before I grew lost in the endless forest. Days soon became months as the only source of food were fruit and berries that I’d find on rare occasions. As the food grew slim, I thought I’d be finished, however…as I was struggling to survive in these woods, I saw it…a pink crystal…sticking out of the ground like a plant”
Another gingerbread man entered the room as the man continued. “With no other option, I ate the crystal thinking it was ice. At the time I had no knowledge of magika crystals and their existence. But after awaking hours later, I realized whatever I touched would turn to candy. The grass would become cotton candy, the trees turned to lollipops. My need for food must’ve manifested that crystal to insure my survival. So as the weeks passed by, I used my new magika ability to keep me alive, using the food to feed myself as well as transform the environment into my own personal wonderland. I’m sure you’re wondering how I’ve managed to stay sane after all these years…about a year into my isolation, I decided to make these gingerbread men as both guards and friends to talk to…but I soon realized, they were sentient…they could react and respond to me as if alive”
Just then the gingerbread man that had just entered suddenly crashed apart as Azuma jumped out before the assailant. “What!?” The pink-haired pirate was caught off guard as Azuma pierced his blade straight through his target’s chest.
That’s when the man began to laugh. “Hehe, you really think it would be that easy? One quick stab of my heart and I'd be dead...that is what you were thinking wasn't it? I’m afraid this vessel is nothing more than a form I created out of candy, why else would I be in such Prestine shape from only eating sweets?”
Azuma backflipped away from the target as a pink substance seeped out from his stab wound. “Hmph, so you’re saying most of your body is nothing more than transfigured candy made to look human, is that it? Well then...seems I'll just have to strike you until I find your real organs, I know underneath that facade of a body, there’s vital organs that are weak to a blade's strike”
The young captain aimed his blade towards the psychopath, a determined look in his eyes as he gripped his blade tightly. “Are you sure you want to continue this little scuffle of ours? I already have one of your friends right here” He held out the small pink gumball as Roxie’s purple aura flowed around it.
That’s when Azuma had an idea, a slight smirk grew across his face as he lowered his blade. “I have a better idea, how about we make a bet, if you win...I'll let you absorb my spiritual energy without resistance”
“Oh? What an interesting bargain, you’ve piqued my interest, continue”
“I wager I can strike a vital organ in this next attack” His opponent grinned opening both arms out, leaving himself wide open to an attack. “Go on then, if you miss, your spirit energy shall contribute to the creation of a new breed of magika crystals!”
Gripping his sword with both hands, Azuma dashed forward, piercing his blade right into the leg of the candy man. Both blood and pink goo splattered to the ground as the pirate’s eyes widened in shock. “Im-impossible...h-how did you know where m-my vital organs were!?” He shook in pain before falling to one knee before Azuma who looked down at him with a serious expression.
“The first time I struck, I could feel your heartbeat in a lower part of your body, so I knew it had to be either in your leg or feet. Aside from that, I just got lucky not piercing your heart but rather a kidney...Now then...return Roxie’s energy back to his body, unless you’d rather I pierce your heart this time”
Asuma aimed his blade towards the man’s right leg with a cold look in his eyes. Clinching his teeth, the candy man dropped the gumball as the purple aura flowed back to Roxie’s motionless body. All watched as the thief opened his eyes, his vision returning. “W-what happened? Just a moment ago I saw some kind of light off in the distance of a dark void.
“Now, release my crewmates from their chains” The pink-haired pirate lowed his head as the pirates were free from their traps as they stood before the defeated villain.
“We should hurry and kill him here, someone this sadistic and heartless has no right roaming freely” Roxie snapped angrily towards the wounded pirate. Azuma put a hand up signaling him to calm down. “That won’t be necessary Oda, I think I have a better idea” Crouching down before the bleeding foe. Azuma asked: “What is life to you? Just a source of energy used to create power? Or something precious? Something needed to be protected at any cost?”
All watched as tears of red candy syrup began running down the man’s face as he struggled to hold back his sorrow. “I...I'm sorry Azuma, being isolated from society for so long has made me forget the importance of life...for years I hated the outside world as if they abanded me, but with the creation of my gingerbread guards, I thought they could fill the gap inside me, but like me...they were nothing but hollow creatures just following my orders like mindless drones. I’m sorry for hurting your friends and understand if you never forgive me”
That’s when he felt a hand on his shoulder. “What is your name?” The man looked up to see Azuma kneeling before him with a smile on his face. The fellow pirate answered: Kiozen...Kiozen Kiyoko” The pirate captain smiled responding: “Why don’t you come with us Kiozen? Away from phantom shine island, away from this hollow and isolated place? We’ll travel the world together, seeing new lands and meeting new people, both friend and foe. With your candy abilities, I'm sure you’ll be a great addition to the team”
“WHAAAT!?” The others cried out in shock. Roxie clinched his fist pointing at Kiozen. “You really want to bring that heartless psycho with us!? What if he tries to kill us again!?”
That’s when Azuma stood up, glaring at his crewmate with his back still turned to him. “Do you have a problem with my decision as captain Oda? If so, say it, I won’t leave him here to wallow in loneliness. I can tell he’s not a heartless monster unlike the others we’ve faced before, he’s just broken...feeling rejected by this world. I know what it’s like...to be rejected by those around you...left for dead as you feel the end drawing near. So I ask you again Roxie...do you have something to say?”
Kenzu and Naiomi stood and watched as Roxie clinched his fist in frustration before looking away. “No captain...”
CHAPTER 5 : Stardust Island
After saying goodbye to phantom shine park, the crew set sail, making their way towards an island not far from them. “It’s called Stardust Island, I've read about it through books I've found as well as using my gingerbread men to spy on the people within phantom shine park. Unlike what you’ve all seen, I'm capable of creating small gingerbread men I can use to spy and scout large areas”
“Hmm, that can come in handy, so then...what exactly do you know about this, stardust island?” The candy man thought for a moment before responding: “I’ve heard those looking to become rich, or those already wealthy come to this island, to stardust casino, one of the most popular casinos in the world”
Docking on the shore of Stardust Island, the crew could see a large town before them with a large casino in the center as lights and music blared off in the distance. “Hmph, they really want tourists to know there’s a casino here, don’t they?” Azuma commented before descending off the ship onto the sandy beach of stardust.
The others jumped down behind him beside Kiozen who jumped off the ship, shooting pink taffy from his pale palm, pulling himself onto the beach. The captain carefully surveyed the area before approaching a flight of stone steps that led from the beach up to the streets of the town. “Let’s go check out the stardust casino, perhaps we can gather some interesting info from the people inside”
“Maybe even earn us some gold!” Roxie gleamed in excitement, his eyes lighting up as he smiled. “Sigh, try not to draw attention to us Oda, I know you’re excited, but also know you have a habit of stealing items of interest. Try not to do anything stupid...Kenzu, you’ll be the one to watch Roxie while Naiomi and I search the area for anything of interest”
“What should I do captain Azuma?” The pink-haired pirate questioned with his hand over his chest in a respectful manner. Azuma stopped turning his head to the side responding: “Use your magika abilities to gather info on the people of the casino. Places like these tend to have vital information we could use”
“Y-yes Azuma” They continued towards the casino as some of the civilians took notice of the pirate and his crew walking through the streets. They reached the large golden building. The casino was a large four-floor building made of solid gold with the name: STARDUST CASINO” written in red letters on the center floor of the structure.
“Hmmm, strange how a plane looking town like this one has such a high-quality casino in the middle of town” Azuma and his crew walked through the golden doorway to find red carpet floors and black walls in the large lobby. The main lobby was filled with slot machines and a bar in each corner of the room, with many customers indulging in all the casino had to offer. Many of the people within the lobby seemed to be from different parts of the world, some poor and others average. “Strange, there’s no sign of anyone wealthy in the main lobby, then again...they could just be in some kind of VIP area for those with more money. Alright, Kiozen, go and see what you can find and Roxie...I swear if you do something stupid”
Oda put his hands up backing up. “Yea, yea I get it, I won’t steal anything while we’re here” With that, Roxie rushed to check out all the many kinds of games with Kenzu following him, his hands folded and an annoyed look on his face. Meanwhile Naiomi followed close behind Azuma as he walked past the lobby, spotting a corridor leading deeper into the casino.
As the pair walked through the large hallway, a figure watched them from a distance, they had long black hair covering one eye wearing a brown poncho with black pants with a gun at his waist. He watched them carefully before tailing them through the long corridor...
“So, captain...we haven’t been alone in a while, after all this is over, we should have some fun in your private quarters hehe” Naiomi blushed smiling seductively at her captain. Azuma looked in her direction with a serious face before responding: “We’ll see Naiomi, 1st we need to gather some info from this place and hope we find something of use. My gut tells me many important people come to stardust island which means there's plenty of secrets some are hiding within these walls”
As they reached the end of the hall, Azuma saw a red door with the letters: “VIP” written above it in pink lights. Just as he proceeded towards the door, a male voice called out: Stop right there pirate...or should I say Azuma Kenousa...the sea Corp has placed a bounty on you as well as the girl beside you, I believe her name is Naiomi, also known as the blue assassin. Heh, what fun it’ll be to reap the bounty of such an infamous assassin such as you Naiomi”
Slowly lifting his hands up, Azuma carefully turned to face the man that had been tailing them. “Just who are you then?” The bounty hunter stared deep into the pirate’s eyes, his pistol aimed right for his target’s chest. “My name is of no importance, you both will be dead in mere moments. Be careful about your next action, one wrong move and I'll shoot right through you...filthy pirate”
That’s when Azuma slowly approached him, keeping his hands up as he took each step forward until they stood mere inches from one another, the bounty hunter’s firearm now pressed against his abdomen. “You seem very confident in yourself, but do you actually have the guts to pull the trigger in point blank range?”
Naiomi watched in unease as both men continued to stare one another down. Without warning, the dark-haired hunter fired off a single shot straight through his target’s chest, blood staining the carpet as the bullet went straight through Azuma’s body. Many in the casino began to run in fear as Naiomi watched in shock, her captain collapsed before her in a pool of blood.
“You...YOU BASTARD! THAT WAS MY CAPTAIN!” The blue haired assassin was thrown into a fierce rage as a blue aura illuminated her body. You’ll-YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT!” Pulling out a dozen knives, Naiomi threw them right for the assailant. Reacting quickly, the trained hunter threw his upper body back, dodging nearly every sharp projectile beside one as it pierced his left shoulder.
He rose to his feet gripping the bleeding shoulder with a slight smirk. “Heh, impressive...I-I didn’t think you’d be capable of Seinshin, though I can’t use it myself, I'm told it takes a lot of spiritual concentration to use”
Naiomi remained silent, still consumed by rage. That’s when a leg shot up, kicking the pistol into the air as Azuma jumped up, catching the firearm in one hand, aiming it right for the attacker. “Hmph, I'm not sure just what seinshin is, but I'll have to look into it, thanks” With a smirk Azuma fired a single shot into the bounty hunter’s chest as blood dripped from the wound.
“W-what!? B-but I thought you were dead!?”
“I was just pretending to bleed out. Seems you didn’t know I was a magika user did you?” With a final shot, the pirate attempted to kill their opponent when a tree branch sprouted up from the red carpet, stopping the projectiles.
Breathing heavily, the man commented: “About time Kimosu” With a slight laugh he fell back when a tree monster came up out of the ground as if phasing through the ground. The creature looked like a humanoid tree with wood for skin but had arms and legs. It’s eyes were black with a faint purple glow in the center.
It spoke in a deep male voice: “You both won’t escape the phantom shade, the ocean’s most skilled bounty hunter trio!” Suddenly it unleashed long thin branches right for them, attempting to subdue the pair.
Naiomi, now more under control, watched as Azuma unsheathed his blade, slicing through each branch that came his way, shrapnel of wood flying past her as he continuously sliced through each moving branch. (I-I need to help him before he runs out of energy!) Taking a deep breath, Naiomi jumped over the relentless branches, throwing a punch right for Kimosu’s head.
“Hmph, you should know trees don’t feel pain assassin, you just made it easier for me to capture you” With his ally in one hand, the entity used his other to send sharp tree branches up from the ground, trapping the young assassin within a cage of tree branches. “Stay there, I just need to deal with your captain and this little hunt will be over”
Just then, a pink gumball flew over Kimosu’s shoulder, landing just past his feet. “Hm?” In a burst of pink goo, the gumball burst, covering him in sticky gum. He could feel the weight growing heavier as he struggled to even move. “Mph!? Is this gum!? Where did it come from!?”
“Don’t bother struggling, the longer my gum is attached to something, the thicker and sticker it becomes, I'd suggest you admit defeat before you embarrass yourself” Azuma looked past the large blob of gum to see Kiozen walking up to them with a smirk, placing his hand on the column of pink goo.
“Sigh, nice timing Kiozen, didn’t think I could back his damn branches any longer”
“No worries captain, it’s the crew’s job to support their captain anyway they can” That’s when Azuma realized... “Wait, that tree monster said the phantom shade was a trio, if that’s true...than where is their third member? You don’t think they could've found Roxie and Kenzu 1st could you!?”
Roxie sat at a poker table playing against a random player while Kenzu stood and watched in the corner, his arm resting on his blade with a bored expression on his face. That’s when the pink-haired man threw his deck down shouting: “Full house baby! Look like I win!” He pulled his opponent's chips towards him to add to his own when the man gripped his hand commenting: “Wait...how about we have one last match, winner take all?”
“You want to go again!? Fine by me! But you’ll have to get more chips to bet against!” That’s when the man lifted his head, he had a black bowler hat with black hair, green eyes dressed in a black vest, red long-sleeve under shirt and black pants. “Oh, don’t worry...I have plenty of money”
The abrupt change in tone caused Kenzu to turn and see the man quickly reaching for something under the table. (Shit!) Without wasting time, the swordsmen unsheathed his blade, dashing right for his crewmate. Knocking Oda out of his seat, Kenzu deflected the assailant's quick shot as the bullet ricocheted off his blade hitting the ceiling.
“I knew you would come here...Amizaki” Roxie rose to his feet exclaiming: “Wait, you know this guy Kenzu!?” A smirk grew across the man’s face as he rose to his feet.
“Yeah Kenzu, do you know me?” Gripping the tip of his hat, the assailant threw it right for the swordsmen as blades abruptly came out from the outline of the cap. “Tsk!” Gripping his blade with both hands, Kenzu blocked the incoming projectile. It’s blades sent sparks across the room as it drilled against the pirate’s katana.
“Seems you’re still as quick as ever, which is why I've been wondering...why did you join a pirate? I thought you hated pirates? Or perhaps...have you changed your mind?” Amizaki pulled out a pistol aiming it right at Kenzu’s head from the other side of the table. “Hmph...I guess it really doesn’t matter, you’re no longer the bounty hunter I once knew, and I have my orders to kill the pirate known as Azuma as well as his crew. Such a shame...I would’ve loved to see you again under different circumstances. How cruel fate can be”
As the assailant prepared to fire, the swordsmen kicked off from the poker table, causing the spiraling hat to go flying into the wall past him. “So, this is how you treat your old boyfriends Amizaki? As normal trash ready to be killed? Here I thought you actually cared about me, we were the perfect duo, your quick shots and my master swordsmanship. Did that mean nothing to you? Or perhaps...you were just faking the feeling you had for me”
The once calm and focused gunman began to shake as sweat ran down the side of his face. Roxie was confused for a moment before piecing everything to gather. “Wait! Are-are you saying this creep is your ex-boyfriend!?”
His crewmate nodded. “This is Amizaki Yukoda, both my former partner when I was a part of the phantom shade, as well as my boyfriend at the time. He was the 1st one to see the world the way I do, we didn’t care about who we killed or how it was done, all we cared about was payment, using the money to make life...a little less depressing. But as time went, the phantom shade partnered with the sea corp and focused strictly on killing pirates. As much as I hated pirates, many of those we killed didn’t seem as heartless as the admirals made them out to be. That’s when I decided to turn my back not only on the corporation, but also on the phantom shade as well”
That’s when Roxie was surprised to see Amizaki beginning to cry, his body shaking as tears ran down his face. His hand holding his firearm shook rapidly to the point he couldn’t aim properly. That’s when he finally dropped his weapon, looking at the ground in sorrow. “I can’t do this Kenzu...not to you...Please tell me...why....WHY DIDN’T YOU LET ME COME WITH YOU!”
Once more the bounty hunter broke into tears as he fell to his knees with Azuma and the others running up to them at that moment. Kenzu’s once uncaring expression then became one of surprise as his eyes widened towards the crying man at his feet.
“Y-you told me not to follow you...you said it was better if I stayed with them...WELL LOOK WHERE THAT LED! IT STILL BROUGHT ME TO THIS MOMENT WHERE I HAD TO EITHER KILL YOU OR BE HUNTED BY THE SEA CORP AS IF I WAS A PIRATE TOO!”
To everyone's surprise, Kenzu knelt before the sobbing man, placing his hand upon his shoulder. “Look Amizaki...at the time I was sure staying away from me and moving on was the best action, forgetting about me...forgetting about all the pain I caused you. But, I can see that was the wrong thing to do...all I did was cause even greater pain to you and I'm sorry. This time, you can come with me if you want, that is...if captain will allow it”
Amizaki looked up at him, his face red with dried tears as Azuma looked at him with slight distrust. “Sigh...I don’t trust you, especially if you work for the sea corp, but if Kenzu is willing to keep an eye on you, then fine...we’ll need to search for a bigger ship in the meantime, we don’t have enough space for anymore crewmates even if each crewmate slept two per room. Our only choice is to stay here for a while and try and gather enough gold for a bigger and more pristine ship”
“T-thank you Azuma” He thanked still on his knees. Just then the ground began to shake beneath them. Rushing back into the hall, the crew watched as Kiozen’s gum incasing Kimosu began to Strech as sharp branches began tearing through his gooey prison.
“He’s using his branches to free himself, we have maybe a few seconds before he frees himself captain” Kiozen warned him. Azuma frowned pulling out his blade once more as his crew prepared for round two. That’s when the gum finally tore open, falling to the ground with Kimosu standing before them still holding his leader in one hand.
“It’ll take more than mere gum to contain me! My magika crystal gives me the ability to manipulate nature itself!” Noticing Amizaki amongst the squad of pirates, he gave him a cold look. “Hmph, I never thought you’d be stupid enough to betray the phantom shade, just like-” He then spotted Kenzu standing beside him. “Ah, I get it now, you’re so obsessed with Kenzu, you’ll throw your own life away to be with him...is that it?”
Amizaki clinched his fist, his once anxious demeanor abruptly changed as he quickly aimed his pistol towards his former squad member. “Shut up! I once thought we were doing the right thing, keeping the world safe from heartless pirates who were a threat to the innocent...but now, I can see that Kenzu was right, the phantom shade aren’t the heroic hunters I once thought they were, we’re nothing more than ruthless killers, willing to end the lives of those who won’t stand in line of the sea corp’s view of the world. As far as I'm concerned...you and the sea corp can go to hell!”
Without warning Amizaki fired off each bullet from his magazine until he was out. Roxie and Kenzu watched in shock while Azuma and Naiomi stood silently with serious expressions on their faces.
That’s when Kimosu began to let out deep utters of laughter. “Hehe, you fool, you really are a fool if you think mere bullets were enough to kill me! You’ve learned nothing after all these years have you!?” In one abrupt attack, Kimosu transformed his right hand into a large spear-like weapon, launching it right for Azuma, attempting to kill their captain in a single attack.
Before the pirate could react, he felt someone push him out of the way just before the attack could connect. “What!?” Looking behind him, all saw to their horror Amizaki, pinned against the wall of the corridor, blood splattered across the wall as the man shook in pain, the spear pierced straight through his chest.
Kenzu was in utter shock at the sight of his once lover, now dying before him. That’s when he began to speak in a weak tone: “I-I'm sorry I didn’t go with you Kenzu...I-I hoped it won’t end this way, though...I'm glad, as my last noble act, I was able to give up my life for your captain. I-I will forever love you...Kenzu” A tear of blood ran down his cheek before dropping to the floor as the man became motionless.
“Hmph, I was aiming for their bloody captain, but, one less pest to deal with I guess” Kimosu’s words caused the grieving swordsmen to snap as a red aura began to flow around the outline of his body.
“You bastard...how dare you kill the only one I ever loved and then act as though he was nothing more than mere trash” Slowly turning to face their assailant, Kenzu gripped his katana closing his eyes. The vibrant red flow of energy growing stronger. The crew watched as Kenzu vanished in a flash of light, a single tear floating in midair where he once stood.
“Huh! Where did he go!?” Kimosu pulled his extended arm back to him just as a slash of red light pierced across his chest. He could hear Kenzu’s voice as the swordsmen moved past him at immense speed. “In this world, those with no heart...have no place”
The wooden entity gripped the gaping wound in his chest. (Impossible, I can feel the cut from his blade! But how!?) “TSK! YOU WON’T KILL ONE WHO HAS THE POWER OF NATURE!” Turning around he saw Kenzu standing behind him, the swordsmen’s back to him. “TSK! DON’T YOU TAUNT ME!” In a fit of rage, Kimosu threw both hands out, firing a barrage of thorns straight for him.
Just as the thorns were mere inches from Kenzu, the swordsmen vanished in a flash of red light, advancing towards his opponent as if the thorns moved in slow motion. Gripping his katana firmly, Kenzu prepared to land the finishing blow. “Form number 24...spirit isolation”
Unleashing a blitz of sword strikes infused with this newfound energy, Kenzu slowly sheathed his blade, his back towards his opponent as red slashes began appearing all over the tree entity. “WHAT!? WHAT IS THIS!” With each slash, Kimosu’s body began to break apart as he was reduced to ash.
The entire crew, even Azuma was shaken by Kenzu’s immense power. “W-what the hell was that!?” Roxie cried out in a frightful tone. That’s when their captain had a realization...he thought back to when he had been shot and Naiomi went into a blind rage, she also was engulfed in a light of pure energy that seemed to boost her speed and power.
“I’ll have to look into this at some point, but for now...are you alright Kenzu?” Azuma walked over to the swordsmen, the red aura completely gone. His crewmate was silent for a moment, looking at the floor and facing away from the others.
“I’m-I'm fine...can I please just have a few minutes to myself captain?”
“Sure, we’ll wait outside so you can have some time to yourself” Azuma motioned the others outside while Kenzu walked over to his lover’s lifeless body still up against the blood-covered wall. That’s when he suddenly burst into tears. Falling to his knees, Kenzu looked up at his fallen lover.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t save you Amizaki...I always worried more about getting my next bounty done rather than enjoying the time I had with those around me” Gripping the floor tightly, Kenzu took a deep breath. “I won’t make the same mistake twice...Azuma and the others are my 2nd chance at enjoying life. I’ll do my best to make the best of it. Thanks...Amizaki”
After standing outside for a few minutes, the crew watched as the casino doors opened behind them. They looked to see Kenzu carrying his fallen lover’s body in his arms. “I want to bury him on the beach, will any of you help me?”
“Yes, we will do what we can to help” Azuma answered before looking at the others who nodded aside from Roxie who was unsure what to say at this point. They carefully made their way down to the beach as the sun began to set. After about half an hour of digging a hole, Kenzu carefully placed Amizaki inside before the others began filling the hole...
That’s when Kiozen realized they had forgotten something. Quickly going inside the now destroyed casino lobby, He found the phantom shade’s leader who had just regained consciousness. Before he realized what was going on, Kiozen fired a string of pink taffy from his palm, wrapping it around the disoriented bounty hunter’s torso keeping his arms pinned behind his back. “We almost forgot about you”
Dragging him out by his collar, Kiozen called out: “Captain! What should I do with this one!?” The crew turned to see the leader of the phantom shade in the candy man’s grasp, struggling to break free. The moment Kenzu recognized him, he gripped his blade with a frown.
“Captain, please give me permission to end his worthless life, he’s the boss of the phantom shade, he could’ve prevented this whole thing!” Azuma saw the pure hatred in his crewmate’s eyes, the lust for revenge boiling within him.
“Wait...I want to speak with him before I decide what action to take. Don’t forget, they’ll probably look for someone to blame for the destruction of stardust casino, it’s best to have him take the fall for this since he ordered the attack in the 1st place”
Approaching the struggling bounty hunter with Kiozen gripping his collar tightly from behind, Azuma ordered his crew member to uncover the man’s mouth so he could speak to him. The pink-haired pirate removed the taffy covering the man’s mouth as the assailant finally caught his breath.
“You bastards! What do you do with Amizaki and Kimosu!?” The pirate glared down at him before slapping him across the face. “Shut up...they’re already dead. If you hadn’t been such an idiot, I'm sure they’d still be alive. Kimosu killed Amizaki after the man found out Kenzu was with us, ultimately causing Kenzu to kill the creature in a blind rage”
“K-kenzu, Kenzu is here?” His vision coming back into focus, he saw the dark-haired swordsmen glaring at him, his red eyes staring him down. “Kenzu!? Please, help me! We’re best friends...aren’t we?”
“S-shut up Jin...the man you once were is gone, the person I once called a friend is nothing more than a memory. I may have formed the phantom shade with you all those years ago, but that means nothing to me anymore”
“Wait, you formed the phantom shade with this bastard?” Azuma asked curiously. The swordsmen sighed with a nod crossing his arms. “It was about five years ago...I had already trained as a lone bounty hunter. However, I and others like me could tell there were more and more bounties being placed on pirates, some with impressive power. It soon got to the point where I couldn’t defeat or capture the higher ranked pirates alone, I then resorted to forming the phantom shade with Jin in hopes of evening the odds against the growing bounties of strong pirates”
All listened as he went on. “Jin and I formed the duo and began taking down many of the B and A rank threats that came through our bounties. Though...as time went on and we found Kimosu and Amizaki, it felt as though something changed in Jin...he became more about wiping out pirates and earning money rath than ridding the world of the evil ones. The final straw was when he joined the sea corp, he didn’t care if the pirate was evil or even had a bounty, he treated all pirates as trash or criminals. Once I saw what kind of monster he’d become, I left the squad”
“That’s because pirates are nothing more than criminals who steal and kill those that get in their way!” Jin shouted back. Before Kenzu could respond, Azuma put his hand up motioning him to hold on. “So...you say those who steal and kill are presumed pirates in your eyes correct? Well then...what about the sea corp? They order the deaths of those who are innocent just for looking like a pirate, then steal their gold and either keep it or use it to pay men like you to do the same. Both sides seem to steal and kill a fair amount...so tell me...what’s the different between the corp and us pirates?”
Jin stood there trying to answer but was unable to think of an answer. Azuma smirked walking around him with his hand on his hip. “That’s right...you’re beginning to realize that you, as well as the sea corp are nothing more than hypocrites....Using any excuse you can to either kill or earn gold.
The man’s eyes widened as his irises began to shake from the realization. “N-no...all those pirates me and my men killed...t-they were criminals...weren’t they!?”
“Some probably were...but the real question is...how many of them weren’t...how many of them were just innocent people that were killed by your hand?” Azuma’s words echoed through the bounty hunter’s head as he finally snapped, letting out a cry of despair. The world around him seemed to shake as he began to lose his sanity.
“We’re done here, Kiozen, pin him somewhere in the casino so they have someone to blame for all this, we should leave before we’re the ones they assume did this”
“Yes Azuma” Kiozen dragged the mentally broken man back inside, setting him on the carpeted floor, binding his arms and legs to the floor with his strong taffy. As the pirate left him all alone, Jin shook anxiously on the floor as he began to lose his grip of reality.
“N-no, I'm not a monster...I-I was trying to save this world from pirates!” He closed his eyes trying to calm down. But, that’s when he heard a weak man’s voice: “You’re a monster” Still shaking he opened his eyes, finding himself sitting on the red carpet, but within what looked like an endless void of darkness. As time went on, he began to hear the whispers of all the innocent people he had killed over the years.
(I-I didn’t know...I-I'm sorry) Tears ran down his eyes as he held himself in fear. “Please...I don’t want to die...” That’s when a dark figure stepped out from the darkness in front of him, it wore a black hooded cloak like the grim reaper as it walked towards him in silence. Jin could feel the room growing colder as the entity came closer. “P-please...not like this” He uttered in fear.
The hooded figure stopped inches from his shaking body, the room so cold, he could easily see his breath. Now shivering and anxious, Jin could only watch as the faceless entity revealed it’s boney hand, raising it up towards the frightened man’s face. That’s when his soul began to get pulled from his body as blue light began to flow out of him, into the creature’s hand until the light finally left his eyes...
CHAPTER 6 Preparation For Their Next Sail
Making their way through the small town, they spotted a tavern on the side of the street called: “Star Tavern” It was a small wooden tavern between two large buildings with dual doors. Making his way inside, Azuma found himself inside your typical tavern; wooden floors, a long bar, round tables and barrels for chairs.
As he and his crew made their way inside, Azuma couldn’t help but notice some of the people looking at them with hostile expressions. The captain sighed walking towards the bar when a tall buff man with short brown hair dressed in a white sleeveless shirt and tan pants blocked his way.
“Where do you think you’re going...pirate? We don’t allow your kind here. Maybe stardust casino does, but in here...that’s a whole other story. So why don’t you just turn around and get back in your ship before things get ugly?”
His crewmembers grew frustrated, glaring at the man but once more Azuma motioned them to calm down. That’s when the thug placed his hand on the captain’s coat snapping: “Hey! You got shit in your ears!? I told you to get out of here! Or would you like me to bash your head in!”
Without a word, Azuma gripped the man’s hand touching his coat, gripping it firmly before a loud crack echoed through the tavern. “AAAGGHHH! MY HAND! YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Gripping his broken hand, the assailant threw a strike with his right fist. All citizens watched with mouths dropped as Azuma caught his attack with one hand, a cold glare on his face.
“I’m tired of everyone treating all pirates as if we’re monsters...if I'm correct, you threw the 1st punch, so that means I'm justified to defend myself” Pulling the thug closer by his fist, Azuma bashed his head against the man’s, leaving a bruise on both of them. While his healed in seconds, the tall man hit the ground out cold.
Naiomi slowly walked over to her captain, placing her hand on his shoulder. Azuma...are you ok?” He was silent for a moment, looking down at the defeated brute before answering: “I’m tired of being hated for being a pirate, no one should judge another for being something they want to be. I chose to be a pirate, do I really deserve to be shamed for it?”
Naiomi held him close comforting him. Naiomi held him close looking around to see the others going back to eating and drinking, scared of the woman’s cold glare. Taking a deep breath, Azuma assured them he was fine and made his way over to the bar. The crew sat at the bar, taking up most of the row of seats as their captain placed three gold coins down before the bartender who was a young woman with long blue hair and green eyes dressed in a brown bartender uniform.
“Five root beers please” He ordered before resting his hands on the bar. That’s when Kiozen turned to him a few seats away asking: “By the way Azuma, I never asked you...how did you get your magika ability? If I Rember correctly, you have the ability to rapidly heal at super-human speed, correct?”
“Y-yea...I was given this ability because at the time, all I wanted was to survive, to be given a 2nd chance at life. My old crew betrayed me and left me to bleed out on a random island. Luckily, I found a magika crystal I used to hydrate me, but instead woke up to my wounds quickly healing. If I hadn’t eaten that crystal...I'd probably be dead”
His crewmates grew annoyed, with Roxie asking: “Do you know where those bastards are? We should find them and kick their ass!” Azuma sighed. “I’m afraid I don’t know where any of them are, I've just been waiting to run into them. If I wasted all my time hunting them down, I wouldn’t have time to grow stronger. Trust me...when we find them, they’ll get what’s coming to them”
A sea corp soldier ran through a large white corridor, past fellow soldiers as he burst through two large steels doors into a dark office as the silhouette of a man sat at his white desk. In a deep serious tone, the man spoke: “What is it, Yuto?”
In a worried voice the tall thin soldier held up a paper revealing Azuma’s bounty poster. “I-I'm sorry to bother you commander...but it seems the pirate known as Azuma Kenousa along with his crew have defeated one of our A-rank bounty hunter squads. What do we do sir?”
The dark silhouette glared in the corner. “Tell me...which squad did this pirate managed to defeat might I ask?”
“it-it was the phantom shade sir” Without warning, the commander slammed his fist down on his desk in anger. “Tsk, to think one of our highest ranked bounty hunters could be defeated by nothing more than nameless pirates!” Swiping the bounty poster from the man’s grasp, the commander of the sea corp took out a black marker, changing the pirate captain's pathetic 20,000 gold bounty to a surprising 200,000 gold!
“That pathetic pirate may have gotten lucky, but let’s see him try to hide now that his bounty is 200,000. Update the posters soldier and order S.D 10 to capture the runt as well as his crew. Someone with mere luck will have little to no chance again the secret division, even if it’s our weakest of the 10 squads”
Azuma – 200K G
Naiomi – 150K G
Kenzu – 50K G
Roxie – 10K G
Kiozen – N/A
The crew finished drinking at the tavern, making their way back to the ship to rest until they were ready to head to the next nearby island. Kiozen and Roxie had to share a room with Roxie passing out in his bed while the candy man created a hemic made out of taffy thanks to his magika ability.
Meanwhile Kenzu decided to sleep in Naiomi’s room while the blue assassin made her way over to the captain’s quarters. She knocked on the door with one hand on her waist. “Azuma are you still awake? I let Kenzu take my room for the night so I thought I'd sleep with you tonight. A seductive grin on her face. That’s when she thought she could hear Azuma groaning in pain. She tried to open the door but it was locked. “Tssk, sorry about this captain” With a fierce kick, the door swung up, revealing a green humanoid creature, it’s green human like hand over the pirate’s mouth as wings suddenly sprouted from it’s back before he looked in the woman’s direction.
“Hmph, seems you made too much noise you fool...either way, I, Kasuka of the SD 10 have been ordered to capture you alive and keep you prisoner until my higher-ups decide what to do with you!”
“You’re not taking him anywhere you bastard!” Naiomi pulled out a kunai, sending it right for her target’s green skull, only for the target to dodge at immense speed, their wings moving at rapid speed.
“Heh, I move far too fast for mere projectiles to reach me. I’ll be taking your precious captain, but don’t worry...me and the other members of division 10 shall come for the rest of you” The seven-foot humanoid mantis took off through the window into the night as Naiomi watched them disappear into the distance.
The blue assassin began grinding her teeth in rage as she struck the wall beside her causing it to crack. “No one...takes...MY CAPTAIN!” A blue aura illuminated her body as her cries awoke the rest of the crew. Roxie awoke half-awake groaning: “Ugh, w-what's going on? Some of us are trying to sleep”
“He’s gone...a bastard in the form of a seven-foot mantis with human arms and legs grabbed him and flew off before I could kill the bastard” The crew gathered on the deck as she explained what happened.
Kenzu thought for a moment with a pondering look. “Hmm, did the kidnapper give any info on where he said he was taking him?” Naiomi shook her head before remembering one thing. “Wait, he said something about being a member of something called: “Division 10” Does that sound familiar to any of you?”
Kiozen and Kenzu shook their heads when Roxie abruptly spoke up: “Division 10...also known as S.D 10. A.K.A secret division 10. They’re a squad of four or five members as well as part of 10 different units around the world controlled by the sea corp. Think of it like this: sea corp soldiers and most bounty hunters are mere pawns while the Secret division are semi-bosses. Next are the admirals who watch over said units. 2nd in control is the fleet admiral with the leading commander being the head of the sea corp itself”
The group stared at him in shock with Naiomi exclaiming: “H-how could you know all of this!?”
Roxie sighed, looking down with his arms crossed. “Because...my father is part of the sea corp” The crew cried out in shock at the revelation. “I-I didn’t want any of you to know because...because I feel you won’t accept me if you knew I had blood ties to the sea corp”
Naiomi and Kenzu looked at one another before Naiomi comforted the crewmate. “Don’t worry Roxie, we wouldn’t leave you just because your father is part of the sea corp, look at Kenzu, he was part of a bounty hunter squad who had ties with them as well and he still fights alongside us as a true crewmate and pirate”
The swordsmen placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Don’t let it get to you, just because your father chose that path...doesn’t mean you have to follow him. Live your life the way “you” think is right. No one can tell you how to live your life”
“Y-you’re right, thanks everyone”
“So...how are we going to find Azuma? We know which squad of the secret division we’re looking for. Should we ask the people in the tavern? They seem to dislike pirates which means they might have some info on the sea corp” The candy man suggested.
“I guess it’s our only starting point, hopefully one of them might know something” Kenzu responded before they made their way back towards stardust tavern...
Azuma struggled to break free from the humanoid insect as they flew over the sea. The creature’s green arm wrapped around his neck keeping him from escaping. (Tssk! His strength is insane, no matter how much I pull or strike his body, it seems to have no effect on him! Could it be his exoskeleton protecting him like some kind of armor?)
“Hehe, quit your pointless struggling you foolish pirate, in this form my body is as hard as steel. It’ll take far more than mere scratching and strikes to break free of my iron grasp” That’s when Azuma saw something off in the distance, a small island with what looked like a steel white base in the center with bold black letters reading: “SD 10” In the center of the fortress with large steel doors just below the text. Kasuka descended down to the base as a small camera focused on them. A deep male voice then spoke in an annoyed tone through the camera: “What is it Kasuka?”
“Boss, I've brought you Azuma as you ordered, the 200,000 gold pirate” The camera focused on the captured pirate’s face, scanning him with a blue light. “Hmph, well done Kasuka, I'm rather impressed you managed to capture him so quickly, perhaps the sea corporation miscalculated this man’s threat. If you were captured by Kasuka, then surely, you’re no threat to the secret division, especially division 1 which is said to rival that of an admiral”
The large doors slid open, allowing the SD agent to fly inside still carrying Azuma in a firm grip. With the doors closing behind them, the large hallway lit up with white walls and a blue carpeted floor. The kidnapped pirate watched as dozens of sea corp soldiers walked throughout the halls nearly ignoring them as Kasuka finally reached the end of the hall in front of a black steel door reading: “Cell Block A” Relasing his right arm off Azuma’s throat, he began typing in a four-digit code in the keypad to the left of the secured door.
(Shit! I don’t have much time left before they throw me into a cell!) With all his strength, he smashed the back of his head into the green creature, finally causing them to let go of him. (Yes!) Without hesitation, he darted in the opposite direction of the cell block, taking a random route in the maze-like corridor.
“A pirate’s loose! Capture him men!” One of the soldiers cried out pointing in his direction as the dizzy man took a right, attempting to lose the horde of guards. “Ugh my head...this was so much easier when I was fighting in the tavern”
Still running, a line of guards blocked his path aiming guns in his direction. “Halt or we’ll open fire!” Seeing no other way to go, Azuma charged towards them in the white hallway as they fired several shots right for him. Just before the bullets connected, he slid across the floor, evading the barrage of projectiles.
“Out of the way weaklings!” The pirate pushed the scrawny guards out of his way when he saw a tall man dressed in a black suit with long black hair and red eyes standing down the hall glaring at him. His glare soon grew into a smirk as he slowly pulled his fist back. “Focused strike: 1st stance” The guards ran in fear as Azuma put his guard up.
(What’s he doing?) In a swift punch, the assailant sent a fierce shockwave straight for him, shaking the entire hall in the process. Azuma crossed his arms attempting to block the coming attack when the sheer force of power broke his guard, sending him flying across the hall smashing into a wall leaving a small crater causing the wall to crack.
“W-what the hell...” The injured pirate choked, the air knocked out of him as he hit the ground...
Back On Stardust Island...
Kenzu led the others inside the tavern as they searched the room for the man that had threatened Azuma hours ago. That’s when they spotted him sitting alone at the right end of the bar, his face still bruised. Slowly approaching the brute, he noticed them coming and took a big chug of his drink before slamming it down on the bar.
“Ugh, you runts again...just what do you want with me? You already embarrassed me in front of half the town, what more do you want?”
“Our captain was taken by someone claiming to be part of secret division 10, we were hoping you might know where they might’ve taken him” The swordsmen explained with a serious glare while the thug just looked at the wall avoiding their gaze.
“What makes you think I know anything? If you ask me, he had it coming, attacking me only increased his chances of it happening sooner or later”
“Bastard...” Naiomi murmured. That’s when Kenzu unsheathed his blade, pointing it towards the man’s head. “Anyone who doesn’t want to get hurt, get out!” Most of the people rushed out aside from the bartender and a few others. “Kiozen...bind him up”
The brute groaned about to take another drink when Kiozen’s taffy shot down from the ceiling, binding his arms before forcing him into the air, the lower part of his body beginning to be wrapped in thick taffy like a chrysalis. Slowly walking around the trapped target with his blade in hand, Kenzu continued: “I know you know something about S.D 10...we aren’t leaving until you tell us where they’ve taken our captain”
“Hmph! You’re wasting your time, I don’t know anything about the secret division. They just show up now and then and leave...as simple as that”
“Really? Then let’s see if you’re really telling the truth. Kiozen...use the technique you used on Roxie, the crystal creation process”
“A-are you sure? That could possibly kill him, Roxie was lucky to survive nearly an entire siphon”
“Do it!” Kenzu snapped. Kiozen frowned but nodded approaching their target. Gripping the man’s face with his left, he opened his right forming a white gumball. “Spirit siphoning” All watched as the white gumball began to slowly turn red indicating how much life energy he had take from his target.
“Agggh! W-what is this, what’s happening!?” The man’s hair began to grow longer before turning gray, his face becoming wrinkled and aged. “Alright that’s enough, I think that’s enough” The pink-haired pirate released his grip on the man as the gumball was now half red and half white, meaning 50% of the victim’s life force had been pulled from his body.
The now withered old man hung motionless in the pink cocoon when the swordsmen slapped him across the face waking him back up. “So...still don’t know anything about division 10?” The aged man shook in fear, looking down at his now pale old body. “F-FINE, I KNOW WHERE THEY TOOK YOUR FRIEND! It’s...it’s on a small island east of here. I-if you head 60 degrees east in from here, you should come across a small island with a base. It’s not hard to miss”
“See? Was it that hard? Kenzu responded before signaling Kiozen to free him. The candy user caused the gumball to burst in his hand, allowing the stolen life force to flow back inside the old man. The taffy cocoon opened, causing him to hit the floor. “Alright, we know where to go...let’s hurry before something bad happens!”
Kenzu ran out with the others following close behind. Meanwhile the aged human slowly regained his youth as he laid on the floor overwhelmed with fear. The once tough brute now balled up on the floor...
Back In S.D 10...
Azuma awoke inside a small steel cell with other high-tech cells aligning both sides of the hallway of cell block A. “D-damn it, what was that attack he used? It-it was like he used the force of his punch to attack me from a distance”
“Close, it’s an attack only those with intense physical training can achieve...think of it like a physical manifestation of seinshin...You are aware of the concept of seinshin are you not?”
Azuma slowly stood up thinking for a moment... “I’ve heard the term before. You mean that colorful aura that outlines your body?” The man that had knocked him out stepped out from the corner, standing before his cell with a smirk, his arms behind his back.
“So...you’ve witnessed the use of it firsthand have you? What you’re describing is unstable seinshin, when one becomes so consumed by a certain emotion that it causes their life energy to grow out of control. Seinshin is what we call one’s life energy...specifically, the control of one’s own energy. Though...by what I've already seen from you, you clearly have no idea of how to even awaken your seinshin, even to amateur levels and yet you call yourself a real pirate. Hmph, I've faced those who could use it to boost their capabilities to super-human levels. But you...you’re just some human, trapped in the limitations of a mere human”
“W-why are you telling me this? What do you hope to gain through me?”
“1st...answer me this, why do you want to be a pirate, what do you hope to gain on this fruitless endeavor?”
“I-I want to become the strongest pirate and claim the title of pirate lord” The agent looked him dead in the eye, glaring intensely before taking a step back. “What a fool you are...you easily fell to one of my attacks and yet spout these words of becoming the so-called: “pirate lord” You’re either holding back...or severely delusional”
He placed his black shoe on the bars still closely watching his target. “Hmmm, if you truly intend on reaching your goal, tell me...who was the last pirate to hold the title of pirate lord?”
“Uh...I don’t remember his name, I just remember he was seen as the strongest and most feared pirate, after I was left to die on an island by my old crew, I vowed both to make those bastards pay and become the pirate lord”
The SD agent slightly shook in anger, slamming his foot against the cell bars causing them to slightly bend. YOU DARE TELL ME YOU WISH TO BECOME LORD OF THE PIRATES AND YET HAVE LITTLE TO KNOW KNOWLGE OF THE ONE BEFORE!? You truly are delusional. Sigh, I'm not going to waste any more time with the likes of you, you can stay in this cell until I decide whether to turn you in or kill you myself”
With that the man walked away, leaving the pirate alone in his cell. Azuma sat in the middle of his cell, thinking about what the man had said. (My dream is to become the strongest pirate of this world...but I feel so helpless, unable to do anything against each new threat that appears. He spoke about seinshin, the control of one’s life force. Maybe if I can somehow tap into it, I can get myself out of here before that bastard comes back)
Crossing his legs and sitting in a meditative state, Azuma began to focus on the energy within him...As time passed, he felt as though he wasn’t getting anywhere. Nothing felt different and there wasn’t any aura around his body. “Tsssk, come on!” Standing up he took a deep breath, slamming his fist against the cell, only to cause it to hit the ground with a loud crash.
“Whoa, so it’s true...by focusing the life force within me, I can boost my normal capabilities to inhuman levels” Free from his cell, Azuma once more took off down the hall, this time stopping at a black door with a keypad. Taking a deep breath, Azuma pulled his arm back attempting to replicate the SD 10 Leader’s attack. “Focus strike....1st stance” With all his strength he struck the door, only to slightly break his hand leaving a slight dent on the door. “D-damn it! What am I doing wrong!?”
Before he could try again, something sliced through the steel door as it hit the ground split in two. Azuma looked to see Kenzu as well as the rest of his crew in front of him. “Kenzu!, you guys found me!” Before anyone could respond, the SD 10 leader appeared at the end of the hall behind Azuma.
“I’m afraid you all won’t be going anywhere, surrender foolish pirates” The crew turned to see the agent preparing to launch another long-range strike in their direction. That’s when Kiozen slammed his palm face down on the floor.
“Candy creation: Gumball bolder!” The others watched as gum began forming around them until they were sealed inside a 10-foot pink gumball. Meanwhile their assailant clinched his fist tightly. “Focus strike: level 2” An abrupt aura of purple seinshin energy began to illuminate his body as he unleashed a fierce punch in the crew’s direction.
“Here it comes!” Kiozen exclaimed. As the entire base shook from the man’s godly strike. A cyclone of force drilled through the hall, destroying anything in it’s path before connecting with the massive gumball. Kiozen threw both arms out trying to nullify the impact of the strike by making the gum stick to the floor as best he could. Sadly, the force of the attack was too much, causing them to launch back like a cannonball crashing through several walls of the S.D base before landing outside, just a few meters from their ship.
The gumball cracked open, falling to the ground in a pile of pink gum as Kiozen swayed side to side, dizzy from the attack. “We’re almost there, we just need to make it to the ship!” Azuma cried out pointing to their ship docked on the beach of the island.
That’s when the division leader backflipped out from the crater in the wall they had made moments ago, preparing an attack in mid-air. “I told you, you aren’t going anywhere” Focusing seinshin into his fist, he sent a fierce shockwave straight for them.
Azuma and the others watched as the fierce burst of force flew past them, impacting their ship head on. “WHAT!?” Sweat ran down the pirate’s face as he and the others watched their ship break in half by the godly attack. All they could do was watch as their only way off the island now laid in ruins before them. “M-my ship! You bastard...I don’t care if it kills me...you’re going to pay for this!”
“Heh, and just how are you going to do that? I’m the leader of secret division 10: Yugo Tempest...not just that, I'm not your only opponent...KASUKA!” The pirates watched as the humanoid mantis came flying out of the base landing beside him.
“You called sir?”
“That’s right...it’s finally time to make use of your magika ability Kasuka, show them why even a unit like ours is made to be feared by mere pirates”
“Yes sir!” The green creature faced the pirate crew with it’s green armored hands up preparing to attack. Meanwhile Yugo just crossed his arms and watched from the sidelines.
“YOU TOOK YOUR EYES OFF ME!” He cried moving right for Azuma who had been focused on Tempest instead. With his fast-moving wings, Kasuka advanced straight for the captain, striking him across the face with his armor-layered fist. All watched as a green blur flew past their poor captain, causing him to spit out blood before landing on his back.
“Hmph, you all really are noobs if you can’t even keep up with me and even if you did somehow beat me, my unit captain’s far stronger than me. You may as well submit before you’re all killed”
At that moment Kasuka realized one of the pirates was missing. “Wait, where’s the swordsmen!?” The moment he realized what was happening, Kenzu came down from above him, slicing off his left arm in one swift blow before slowly sheathing his blade back to his side.
“Seems you’re the one who shouldn’t take your eye off me you grotesque insect”
“Hehe, don’t worry...I'll make sure not to make that mistake again” All watched as the humanoid mantis’ decapitated limb began to slowly regrow like vines wrapping around each other until it was completely reformed. “You all should have known I can regenerate my limbs just like a typical praying mantis. So, cutting off my limbs are just a fruitless endeavor”
“Sigh, don’t worry...you’re not the only regenerative bastard I've delt with before and unlike him...I was much slower back then” A red flame-like aura began to flow around Kenzu as he slowly gripped his blade.
(Seinshin!? Wait, has he figured out how to tap into the power of his life energy!?) Azuma exclaimed internally as he and the others watched in amazement. Kasuka put his arms up in an offensive position, preparing for the swordsmen’s attack, only for him to vanish in a flash of red light, a trail of red energy left behind by his fierce movements.
Before anyone could realize what was happening. The division agent instantly blocked the swordsmen’s strike with his armored fists as sparks flew from his blade. “S-see, I said you couldn’t kill me, even with your use of seinshin to enhance your speed, I'm still stronger”
Kenzu remained silent as he glared at his opponent with a cold stare. That’s when the spiritual aura around his body traveled from his entire body to only his katana. “Don’t worry monster...if I can’t beat you with speed...I'll just beat you with strategy” Gripping his blade with both hands, Kenzu prepared to combine his unstable seinshin with his blade to maximize it’s damage and range.
“Seioshin: Guard break strike!” Lifting his blade up with both hands, Kenzu unleashed a wave of pure red energy straight for the humanoid insect. The man froze in place, letting out a final scream in terror as the attack scorched the ground before it, piercing through Kasuka’s green armored body with ease as the foe was split in half by Kenzu’s unstable power.
Yugo’s eyes widened as he watched his only ally get vaporized by such concentrated spiritual energy. (Such power...however, just what should happen if he recklessly continues to use such power with the proper training?) The crew was speechless as the agent laid split in half in a pool of green blood.
That’s when Yugo stepped forward, a calm look in his eye as if what just happened had no effect on him. “Impressive display Kenzu, you certainly have a gift. However...knowing your lack of both knowledge and training in the art of seinshin, I'm sure you don’t know what happens next”
All were silent for a moment when the swordsmen felt a sudden pin in his chest. “TSSK!” He gripped his chest in pain clinching his teeth before collapsing on the ground. “What did you do!?” Azuma cried out in anger.
“I’m afraid I had no part in what’s occurring, as much as I do enjoy this, I'm afraid the pain he’s feeling is from his own ignorance in the arts of seinshin. Think of it like coffee...in the moment you have a vast amount of energy, but after a few minutes your body finally crashes, leaving you drained and out of energy. In short: Your heart is the battery and seinshin is pushing that battery to overdrive”
That’s when Kiozen clapped his hands together. “Candy form: Cookie titan!” Azuma and Roxie watched as a 10-foot golem made of chocolate chip cookie dough burst of the ground, blocking Yugo’s way. The titan threw a punch straight for the agent’s face, only for him to condense his seinshin into a protective barrier around himself.
The cookie titan struck it’s target full-force, only for it to have no effect against the man’s spirit barrier. “Heh, I can guess what some of you are thinking...if he’s this skilled in seinshin, why is he in the lowest ranked unit of the secret division? Heh...I've been asking myself the same thing for years”
The crew watched as the cookie’s fist cracked apart before hitting the ground. “Tssk! Fine! I still have more tricks up my sleeve! Taffy armor!” Crossing his arms, a large blob of pink taffy wrapped around his creation, forming into battle armor made of thick taffy. “Let’s go cookie titan!” Kiozen leapt into the air, firing small balls of taffy from his finger like a gun as they landed all around the target.
“Oh? So, you’re actually going to fight too? Rather than hide behind your creation?” The agent commented with a smirk. That’s when the small globs of taffy shot up from the ground like tentacles, grabbing Yugo by the arms and binding them together as the giant cookie formed a sword made of hardened taffy before bringing it down upon the enemy.
Azuma clinched his teeth watching as the sword struck the spiritual barrier, only for the taffy to melt on contact as if his aura were pure flames. “Damn it! Just how strong is this guy!?” He looked over at Naiomi who was watching over Kenzu. “Fuck it...seems I'll have to do what Kenzu did and use as much seinshin as I can”
“Really? Are you seriously foolish enough to use it, even after witnessing what it did to your friend?” Azuma walked over to Kenzu, picking up his katana and aiming it towards the division leader. “Don’t worry...it won’t be the same, thanks to my magika ability” Focusing on the energy flowing through his body, a purple aura illuminated the captain’s body.
“I didn’t take you as a fool Azuma, but so be it. Let’s see just how long you can maintain that state” Both stared one another down as their seinshin flowed around their body like flames. Letting out a calm breath, Azuma vanished in abrupt gust of wind. The crew looked around but saw no sign of their captain. That’s when Yugo clapped his hands together, stopping the blade just before it could connect with his skull.
“Impressive, you and the swordsmen are quite skilled in aspects of speed. However, speed means nothing if it’s all you rely on” Yugo kicked Azuma in the ribs, sending him flying across the beach, slamming into a tree. He quickly got up still dazed by the attack when Kenzu’s sword flew past him, impacting the tree just inches from his head.
“Fine, you think speed is all I can do?” Azuma tightened his fist letting the power build up within him. “Seinshin fist!” Concentrating most of his power into his fist, Azuma threw a single punch in the man’s direction, unleashing a shockwave even stronger than Yugo’s focus strike.
The agent used his barrier to keep himself from staggering as a fierce cyclone of force rushed past him. He could feel himself slowly sliding back but still maintaining his balance. Meanwhile Azuma began to sweat now out of breath from using so much energy at once. He could feel pain Aching from his chest but used his regenerative ability to heal himself.
“Ah, so that’s it isn’t it? You plan on using your ability to heal yourself from any internal damage done from using too much spiritual energy. Clever, but it’s not a fail proof plan...even your magika ability has it’s limits” Yugo advanced towards Azuma, preparing to strike head on as he threw a punch right for the pirate, only for it to be deflected, sending a burst of force right over them.
“As good as you are, even you can’t keep using this much seinshin either” Azuma commented before their feet clashed with both sending fierce kicks at one another. The assailant jumped back with one hand in his pocket.
“Sigh, though I do so love a good challenge, I'm afraid you’ve wasted enough of my time...it’s time to finish you with one strike just as I did before and this time, I won’t be as gentle as I was before” All watched as red wisps of seinshin energy began to gather into the agent’s fist. “Prepare yourself Azuma...focus strike: seinshin execution!”
The pirate could feel his body quivering in fear, but knew now wasn’t the time to hesitate. Crossing both arms, he began focusing as much seinshin throughout his body as fast as he could with red electricity surging around his entire body. “Seinshin: Full spirit cloak!”
The others watched as Yugo unleashed a single strike in his direction, the entire island rapidly shook as a fierce blast of force struck Azuma head on. The attack broke his guard with both arms breaking from the immense strain. Their captain went flying through the air before landing back at the base.
(I-I can’t feel my arms...m-my body can barely move) He laid there, struggling to get back up with blood running down both fractured arms. “N-no...this can’t b-be how it ends!”
Meanwhile Yugo turned his attention towards the remaining crew: Naiomi, Kiozen and Roxie. The blue assassin held Kenzu close, afraid to leave him open to attack. Meanwhile Roxie pulled out small smoke bombs, one between each finger. “Tsssk, I've been part of this crew for a while now and yet all I've done is just sit and watch while the others risk their lives for me! It’s time I stop being a coward and help...even if it means I die!”
Roxie tossed the smoke bombs over to Yugo as they landed at the agent's feet, filling the entire beach in thick gray smoke. That’s when Roxie had an idea. “Kiozen! I need you to do something for me!” The candy man looked at him, surprised by the thief's sudden enthusiasm. “I need you to create a magika crystal and give it to me!”
The pink-haired man was confused looking at him as if he was crazy. “A magika crystal? But where am I going to find enough spirit energy to replicate an entire crystal!?”
“Use the ones still in the base, doubt anyone would miss a few soldiers. Now hurry and gather the energy you need...I'll try to buy time for you” Though unsure about the thief's plan, Kiozen shot a string of thick taffy over to the base, using it to pull himself over the smoke and land at the entrance. He saw a small puddle of blood but no sign of a body. Shrugging it off he rushed inside, searching each corridor for any sea corp soldiers.
Back outside Roxie watched as the smoke finally cleared, revealing no sign of the division leader. “What!?” That’s when a fierce surge of pain struck Roxie in the back, causing him to cough up drops of blood before hitting the ground on his stomach. “N-no, damn it!”
“You might be the most arrogant of all the Azuma pirates” Yugo commented from behind. Roxie gripped the dirt, his body already shaking in severe pain. “I-I don’t care what you say you bastard...if being arrogant means I stop being a coward and start helping my crew, then so be it! I’m tired of watching my friends fight while I sit here and watch! If I don’t risk my life like they do for me, then I don’t deserve to be part of their crew!”
“Aw, how touching, maybe they’ll forgive you...when you’re all floating dead in the ocean” Once more Yugo pulled his fist back as seinshin built up around his fist. Just as the tyrant prepared to send yet another strike in Roxie’s direction, an abrupt shockwave struck him head on, sending him soaring off the island, landing several meters into the water.
“H-huh?” Roxie turned to see Azuma standing up on the hill near the base, his left palm steaming from using so much power at once. “Azuma!? I-I thought that bastard killed you or at least knocked you out!”
“D-don’t worry, it’ll take more than this to kill me. This is the captain of the Azuma pirates we’re talking about” Naiomi blushed, attracted to Azuma’s confident attitude as she continued to stare at her captain while holding the unconscious swordsmen.
That’s when a fierce burst of water erupted off in the distance. Azuma looked to see Yugo moving so fast across the water, it was as if he were running on water. “He’s coming back, I'll do all I can to buy you and Kiozen more time for the magika replication, but you better not let us down Roxie”
“AZUMA!” The assailant cried out enraged. Azuma took a deep breath as his arm quickly healed. “ENOUGH OF THIS! YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR ME YOU WORTHLESS PIRATE!” His body slowly getting used to focusing seinshin, he unleashed a surge of energy, increasing his defensive and offensive power. A red aura with electricity whipped around his body as he advanced right for his opponent.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW SKILLED YOU GET WITH SEINSHIN! I’M THE VICTOR!” Imbuing both hands with spirit energy, Yugo clapped his hands together in mid-air, sending a fierce shockwave of energy towards the entire crew. Azuma instantly moved in front of the incoming wave, defending Naiomi and Kenzu as he struck the shockwave with his bare hand. They watched as his focused energy split the shockwave apart, sending it past them in two directions.
“Huff...huff...give up Yugo, at this rate your body will give out while my body heals”
“Shut up, you talk as if you’ve already won this fight...but I assure you...I still have one last trick up my sleeve, a seinshin technique that an admiral taught me only to use in a life-or-death situation. As much as I'd hate to use it, seems the day has finally come”
Just then a voice called out: “Roxie, catch!” All watched as Kiozen tossed a blue magika crystal over to them. “A MAGIKA CRYSTAL!? WHERE DID YOU FIND IT!? TSSSK, I WON’T LET YOU HAVE IT!” Yugo aimed his hand towards the falling crystal attempting to destroy it. With a sudden flick, he sent a blast of force right for it only for Azuma to jump in the way, getting struck in the abdomen before flying back hitting a tree.
“WHAT!?” Yugo exclaimed in anger before watching Roxie catch the blue crystal with one hand. (Azuma...I've barely done anything to help you as a member of your crew...from this moment on...I will do all I can to protect the crew, just as you have for me) Consuming the ice crystal, Roxie felt a tingling feeling inside his stomach.
“I’LL KILL YOU BEFORE YOU EVEN FIGURE OUT YOUR MAGIKA ABILITY!” The enraged agent rushed his target, throwing a punch right for the thief. A shockwave shook the island as the trees blew in the fierce gust of wind.
“ROXIE!” Naiomi cried out. The crew watched as the dust cleared, reviling him to be ok, as if the attack hadn’t even made contact with his body. Yugo’s eyes widened as he found himself standing in front of his target, but something was keeping his fist from getting any closer. “W-WHAT IS THIS...S-SOME KIND OF BARRIER!”
A smile then grew on Roxie’s face. “Heh, so much for not figuring out my magika ability. Seems I'm capable of manifesting a large transparent barrier that only I can see. Which means, so long as I remain within this barrier, you can’t hurt me”
“RRRAAGGGHH!” Yugo’s eyes grew bloodshot as he unleashed a barrage of seinshin-surged strikes to the pirate’s barrier, only for it to have no effect. The SD agent began to feel dizzy from using so much power at once as his vision began to blur.
“Hmm, if I can manifest a barrier at will, I should be capable of changing their form as well” Taking a deep breath, the transparent field shrunk down to a protective barrier outing the man’s body. Clinching his fist, Roxie formed a 2nd barrier around his fist, throwing a punch straight across his opponent's face.
Azuma and Naiomi watched in shock as Yugo staggered back, swaying side to side before hitting the ground out-cold. A sudden sense of relief washed over the captain as he sat beneath a tree out of breath...
CHAPTER 7 A Crew Worthy Of A Name
“Sigh, we should leave before the bastard wakes, last thing we need is a rematch with the division leader” His crew regrouped as they looked out into the sea as their once great ship now laid in ruins. Naiomi placed her hand upon her captain’s shoulder responding: “How do we escape from this damn base? Are only way off is gone.
That’s when Roxie spoke up: “I might have a way we can escape from here, though it’ll be a pain in the ass to reach the nearest land” Azuma brushed himself off, still covered in blood and bruises. “Hmm, I’m interested to see what your idea is for getting off this island”
Walking over to the edge of the island, Roxie took a deep breath before slamming his left foot on the ground. The fellow pirates watched as a transparent bridge made of Roxie’s barrier slowly manifested before them. Taking a step onto the barrier, he made sure it was stable enough before signaling the others. “We can use my barrier magika ability to walk across the water without the need of a ship”
“Wow, impressive Roxie, seems you're adapting to your magika rather quickly” Azuma commented before following behind the pink-haired pirate with the others following close behind. Naiomi and Kiozen both carried Kenzu with one hand over each over their shoulder as the wounded swordsmen slowly came to. “W-what’s going on?”
“Kenzu! You’re awake!” The candy pirate cheered with excitement as they continued to carefully walk him along the transparent path created by Roxie. Azuma stopped, turning towards the conscious warrior with a smile on his face. “Heh, you did good out there, you were the one who killed Yugo’s ally as well as gave me the courage to use seinshin. Without it...we might’ve lost to him”
Kenzu weakly looked up at his captain before giving him a faint smile. “Heh, I appreciate that captain” The crew continued to walk across what felt like an endless path across the seas that splashed just below.
1 Hour Later...
As the moon illuminated the flowing seas around them, that’s when Roxie spotted a large wave headed right for them. “Shit! Everyone watch ou-” the strong wave knocked Roxie into the sea causing the barrier to vanish beneath their feet. Azuma watched as he and the others fell into the strong currents of the ocean as he was dragged under by the merciless tides.
Roxie threw both hands out, creating a large sphere barrier, managing to keep most of the crew from separating from the strong currents. That’s when he realized Azuma had already been carried away by the tides and was nowhere to be seen. “No, captain!” Roxie clinched his teeth in frustration failing to save their captain, but knew if he let go, the barrier would vanish and cause the entire crew to go flying in different directions.
Dread Rot Island ARC
A few hours Later...
Azuma slowly awoke on the beach of a strange island. His vision slowly came into focus as he found himself lying on a beach with black sand. He sat up looking around, there was a strong mist flowing around him making it hard to see where he was. Looking down at the strange black stand, he carefully scooped some up, examining it before it all fell out of his grasp back onto the beach.
“Strange, I've never seen black sand before...what is this creepy place?” The young pirate captain felt himself growing uneasy with every step he took across the misty beach. The mist brushed over him with a cold sensation. Finally spotting a dirt path off the beach, Azuma made his way along the path into a dark and eerie forest. Many of the trees in the foggy forest were dark and deformed, with barely any leaves on them aside from a few dead ones barely hanging on as they blew in the faint chilling breeze. “Sigh, it’s just a dark old forest...but why do I still feel uneasy? It's as if the harder I try to ignore this feeling of fear and anxiety, the more it weighs down on me. There must be something super-natural going on in this forest”
He reached for his sword, only to realize he had lost it back in the sea when he was dragged under and lost consciousness. “Damn, seems I have no choice but to go on bare-handed from this point until I can find a weapon or regroup with my crew. Even with my magika ability to heal...I'm too exhausted to heal back to my full strength. I shouldn’t try to use seinshin unless I have to”
The young pirate made his way along the cold dark path, carefully looking around even with the strong mist blocking his sight from all directions. As he continued forward, the path behind him seemed to gradually fade into the endless mist around him. Not long into his walk, the sound of something dragging through the dirt could be faintly heard from behind him.
Just as he stopped to turn around, a sadistic cry rang out. Azuma darted around to see a pale zombie charging straight for him. “W-what the hell!? Ducking out of the way, the undead creature staggered past him hitting the dirt. Before it could get up, Azuma picked up a sharp piece of dead wood, destroying the monster’s head with one quick strike.
“Sigh...now I know something strange is happening on this island. I never thought I'd be attacked by a zombie of all things. Someone must have a magika ability to control corpses, the only question is...did that zombie attack me specifically, or did the one who revived it give it free will to roam around on it’s own?”
He brushed himself off, making his way further through the dark cold forest. With only the faint sound of the wind brushing across him, he could hear his heart beating from the slight unease. That’s when he spotted a large mansion just up the road, it gave off a faint red glow towering over the rest of the dead forest like a fortress.
“Sigh, something tells me whoever lives there won’t take too kindly with me just walking right up to the door...Best I try to sneak my way inside without alerting anyone. Sigh...this sounds more like something Roxie could handle”
Making his way up the dark dirt path, he noticed all the windows of the gothic mansion giving off a red glow. Azuma did his best to focus on his objective and made his way before the mansion's courtyard entrance. The entire property was surrounded by a 20-foot-high stone wall and steel gate to keep trespassers from merely jumping over the wall over walking right up to the front door.
He took a few steps back before advancing straight for the wall, he pushed off the wall attempting to grab onto the top of the stone wall, only to miss by a foot. “Tsssk, fine...seems I'll have to do this the risky way. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes as his body outlined with a purple aura. (This may be a stupid thing to do given my weak state, but I don’t have time to waste trying to get over a mere wall.
Azuma pushed off with both feet, using his seinshin to launch himself over the wall with ease before landing in the large courtyard before the strange house. The pirate lost his balance for a split second, falling to one knee with a siring pain surging through his legs. (Shit, I knew using any seinshin would have negative effects if I used it. B-but I can’t worry about it right now, I need to see who lives here and if there’s anyone that might be willing to help me either escape this island or at least find my crew”
The young captain forced himself back to his feet, only to find himself standing at the entrance of a large hedge maze creating a labyrinth of towering walls of red hedges before him. Azuma could feel his heart drop at the sight of such a puzzle. “Ughhh, I hate puzzles, especially mazes! Tssk, when I find the owner of this house, I'm going to shove my foot up his ass” Taking a deep breath to prepare himself, the dark-haired pirate ventured inside the blood-red labyrinth.
He could see the top of the mansion towering over the large hedges, so he could at least tell if he was getting close or not...
Not long into his exploration, he found himself standing within what seemed like the center of the labyrinth where in the middle was a large stone fountain with red liquid flowing inside it while the maze split into four different paths, one in each direction. That’s when he thought he saw a shadow moving around the stone pavement near the fountain.
Turning his attention upward he realized a man had been watching him from above. The figure had long blonde hair, blue eyes and dressed in a black and red formal cloak with bat-like creatures keeping him suspended within the air. Azuma just stared in disbelief at the strange man looking down at him with a seductive grin.
Without a word the stranger dropped from the air, landing perfectly on the top of the fountain without getting a single drop on his suit. “Apologies for the delay, allow me to introduce myself, I am the one who guards this labyrinth as well as watches over this entire manor. There isn’t anywhere you can go that I won’t see you” The man spoke with a femininely elegant voice as he grinned.
“Heh, is that so? Then how did I get over the wall without you stopping me?” The man let out a slight laugh as Azuma felt something on his shoulder. Looking to his right he found a blood-red eyeball with black wings resting on his shoulder looking right at him. “WHAT THE HELL!?” As he went to smack the small vermin off his shoulder, the blonde pirate called out: “Oh I wouldn’t do that if I were you”
“Huh? Why’s that?” The captain watched as the small monster flew back to it’s master with the flock of demonic creatures just flying beside the strange man. Placing one hand on his hip his target responded: “You don’t seem that bright, though you are a fetching man I'll give you that. Hopefully you’re not just a pretty face. Might you also have the skill to back it up?”
“A-are you suggesting I fight you?”
“Hehehe, fight? If you’re as foolish as I think you are...then this certainly won’t be much of a fight I'm afraid. But before we begin...allow me to know the name of such a breathtaking man”
“Azuma...I'm Azuma of the Azuma pirates”
“Oh? Rather narcissistic of you to name your crew after yourself, isn’t it? My name is Seraph Rosveil of the vampiric veil pirates. As much as I'd love to get to know such a handsome man such as yourself, I'm afraid I must eliminate you before my dear captain realizes someone’s entered her manor without her permission”
Brushing his long blond hair out of his eyes, Seraph threw his hand out towards the intruder before him. “Go my darlings and show him why my inferio bats are nothing to scoff at” The bats let out small high-pitched chirps as three inferio bats soared straight for their target.
Azuma evaded the first two, darting to the left and right when the third caught him off guard, flying right into his face. Azuma put up his guard as the small creature erupted in a small but fierce explosion, burning the pirate’s wrists from it’s intense heat.
“H-hot! Damn it...fine, seems if I want to beat the crap out of you...I'll have to get within close range” Seraph just chuckled evilly upon the fountain while Azuma advanced right for the assailant. The horde of tiny creatures swarmed Azuma as the already wounded pirate struggled to dodge each and evrey pest that darted past him.
That’s when Serph snapped his fingers, causing every single inferio bat to freeze in place, Azuma then realized he was surrounded by the annoying monsters as they had formed a dome around him from all sides utterly trapping him. The dark-haired pirate looked up at his opponent who’s once elegant and seductive grin had become a cold serious frown before him.
“Fair well” He uttered in a dark tone. With an abrupt snap of his fingers, all of his bats ignited in a devastating explosion of light and fire. A large scorch mark stained the paved ground with Azuma flying into the air, unconscious from the attack as well as the injuries he had sustained at the division 10 base.
He hit the ground motionless, half of his clothing burned off from the immense heat of the attack. “Hmph, so sad to have to put down such a devilishly handsome man, but I'd rather not have to face my dear captain when she’s angered, she sure can be cruel when she’s in a bad mood. Jumping off the fountain in an elegant flip, Seraph touched down just a few feet from his opponent whose body laid battered and burned from the fight. Slowly approaching Azuma’s motionless body, the blonde pirate thought he heard something come from the man. Manifesting an inferio bat beside him in a burst of flames, Seraph sent the small creature over to inspect Azuma.
The small monster inspected the pirate’s body, using it’s demonic eye to see the inside of his body. Azuma’s heart seemed to still be beating. That’s when Seraph noticed something strange about his insides, his injuries seemed to slowly be healing themselves at a super-human rate.
“How odd, not only is he still alive...but he seems to possess the ability to heal his own wound at an accelerated rate. I’m sure our captain would be interested to hear of such a person” Extending both arms out Seraph summoned dozens of his inferio bats as they carried him and Azuma into the air towards the manor...
Meanwhile Out In The Middle Of The Ocean...
Roxie, Kiozen, Naiomi and Kenzu found themselves drifring through the endless waves of the ocean as the pink-haired thief struggled to keep the barrier maintained. That’s when Kiozen had an idea. “Roxie, make an opening at the top of the barrier, I think I have an idea to keep us from drifting away as well as help you from draining the rest of your stamina”
“A-are you sure? We can’t risk losing anymore crewmates in the ocean!” The candy pirate nodded with a determined expression on his face. Without any other option, Roxie made a small opening in the sphere as drops of sea water splashed the inside of their barrier. The others watched as Kiozen launched himself into the air with a powerful kick.
Clapping his hands together in mid-air, a small island-shaped foundation formed beneath the crew’s spherical barrier as they found themselves on a small 20-foot island made of gum. Roxie released the barrier as he fell onto the sticky pink surface. Kiozen touched down in front of them, aiming his hand at the island surface, he formed a rainbow-colored dry sugary shell over the island to cover the stickiness of the gum. “There we are, now you all can sit on the island without the need to worry about getting gum stuck on your shoes or in your hair”
“T-thanks...appreciate it” Oda responded before collapsing on the candy shell surface, resting from the prolonged use of his ability. Kenzu sat down looking around at the endless waves flowing by their small island. “Sigh, I can’t help but feel this is my fault...if I had reacted better, then maybe we’d still have our ship...we’d still have the captain here with us”
Naiomi placed her hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, our captain has been through worse than this...I just know we’ll find and reunite with him” The swordsmen looked at Naiomi who gave him a hopeful smile. That’s when Kiozen noticed something off in the distance.
“That’s rather odd, what would a ship be doing way out here in the middle of nowhere?” Kiozen tried to figure out what kind of ship it was, but it was too far to see any distinct traits. After a few minutes, he realized what it was. “Guys, we may have a problem, it seems a sea corp ship is headed in our direction”
The others slowly stood up, turning their attention towards the approaching ships all except Roxie who continued to rest on the ground with hands crossed behind his head. “Sigh, it’s fine...it’s probably just more mere soldiers coming to try and claim our bounty like the many others who tried and failed, the only kind of ship we need to worry about is a ship with the fleet number 55 or below”
“V.A - 50 The Neptune Monarch” Kiozen commented reading the name written on the side of the large white sea corp ship. The moment he said that, Roxie quickly jumped to his feet to see the large ship stopping just in front of the small candy island. The ship docked as a large steel ramp dropped down in front of them. Without warning dozens of soldiers aimed their guns towards the four pirates. “DON’T MOVE FILTHY PIRATES! TAKE ONE WRONG STEP AND WE’LL FIRE!”
Naiomi slowly reached for one of her knives when an old man’s deep voice called out: “Now-now men, is this really any way to treat my son and his little crew?” All looked to see a tall old man with short black hair, green eyers dressed in a black vice admiral’s uniform. The low-rank soldiers lower their weapons as the man looked down at Roxie with a grin.
“Long time no see eh, Oda? Last time I saw you, you were rotting in some prison on Anamoa Island where I heard you and your captain managed to beat the warden of the jail who even had the magika ability to manipulate earth. Impressive feat for a runt like you. Are you sure you don’t want to join my fleet in the sea corporation? I feel you would make a great marine given the proper training”
Oda clinched his fist as tears began to run across his face. “I-I told you...I WILL NEVER JOIN THE SEA CORP! ESPECIALLY AFTER WHAT HAPPEND TO MOM! YOU LEFT HER TO DIE INSTEAD OF PROTECTING YOUR OWN WIFE! ALL YOU’VE EVER CARED ABOUT IS YOUR WORK! BUT WHAT ABOUT HER!? WHAT ABOUT MY MOTHER WHO WORRIED ABOUT YOU EACH AND EVERY DAY, ONLY TO DIE BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T THERE TO HELP HER!?”
Oda's early childhood was filled with warmth and laughter, living with his loving mother Aria. Like him, she had pink hair and green eyes. They resided on a peaceful island, far away from the harsh world of the sea corporation. His father, Vice Admiral Ryota, was a dedicated officer, known for his exceptional skills and unwavering loyalty to the corp. However, his devotion to his work often took precedence over his family. He would be away on long missions, leaving Oda and his mother to fend for themselves.
Aria was a gentle soul, and she worried endlessly about Ryota's safety whenever he was away. She raised Oda with love and taught him valuable life lessons. Oda cherished his mother's presence and the warmth of their home, even though he missed his father terribly. One fateful day, while Vice Admiral Ryota was on a critical mission, their island was unexpectedly attacked by bandits who sought to steal the island's resources. Aria, valiantly trying to protect her home and son, fought off the invaders as best as she could knowing that help might not come in time. Tragically, the bandits overpowered her, and in the chaos of battle, she sustained fatal injuries. Oda, who was just five years old at the time, watched in horror as his mother lay injured and fading away before his eyes. There was no sign of his father, and it became clear that he wouldn't be there to save them.
Aria's last moments were spent comforting Oda, assuring him that she loved him and that he must stay strong. With Her final breath, she sang him a small poem:
“In your heart, my dearest one,
The love we shared, the setting sun.
Though I must leave, and part we must,
In memories and dreams, in you I trust.
With pink hair and eyes so green,
In your strength, my love will gleam.
Hold on to hope, let it guide,
In this world so vast, let love abide.
Remember, my child, the love we knew,
In your heart, let birth a new.
Though tears may fall, and shadows creep,
In your dreams, my love shall keep"
The words of his mother left a lasting scar on Oda's heart, as he felt abandoned and betrayed by his father's absence during their darkest hour.
Vice Admiral Ryota eventually returned, victorious from his mission, only to find his wife's lifeless body and his son traumatized by the loss. Oda's resentment grew, and he blamed his father for prioritizing his work over the safety and well-being of his family.
From that day forward, Oda vowed never to join the Sea Corporation, rejecting his father's world and choosing his own path. The memory of his mother's sacrifice fueled his determination to become stronger and independent, standing firmly against the organization that had taken his father away and, indirectly, his mother's life...
[End Of Flash Back]
Roxie struggled to keep the tears back as he cried out: “YOU LEFT HER! LEFT HER TO DIE! I...I WAS THE ONLY ONE BY HER SIDE! SHE HELD ME IN HER FINAL MOMENTS! SINNGING A SONG TO ME WITH HER LAST BREATH...Since that day, I vowed I would never become anything like you! You may say whatever you want, but it won’t change the fact that my mother is gone...the one who always loved me for who I was”
Some of the soldiers could be seen crying from Roxie’s sad story while Ryota just stood at the top of the ramp, arms crossed with a serious expression on his face. “Hmph, maybe you’re right Oda...maybe I am the monster you say I am...but I can’t just disobey a direct order from the Leading commander himself...if I were to just ignore a direct order, he’d have my head over it! The man’s ruthless, he’s willing to kill those he deems unfit to sail under the sea corp even if you’re a civilian”
The others just watched as Oda whipped the tears from his eyes, glaring at his father. “Whatever, why are you here anyway? Have you come to turn me in to the worthless corp?”
Ryota closed his eyes letting out a sigh. “I’m afraid that’s how it has to be...if you’re not willing to join me...then I'm afraid I must place you all under arrest by order of the sea corporation” The tall built admiral took a step forward, a faint aura of power brushed over the crew.
“Like hell you will!” Naiomi quickly pulled out throwing knives from a hidden pocket, throwing them straight for Ryota. The man’s eyes widened as he unleashed an abrupt surge of black seinshin electricity around him, causing the sharp projectiles to hit the ground. “You’re out of your league young ones, I wouldn’t be the rank I am if I could be stopped by mere projectiles”
The soldiers prepared their weapons ready to fire when Ryota motioned them to stop. “That won’t be necessary men, I can handle four mere pirates with nowhere to go”
“Y-yes sir!” They responded lowering their weapons once more as he slowly walked down the ramp, a faint surge of black electricity flowing from each step. Oda clinched his teeth throwing his hand out forming a barrier around the admiral ship with his father inside. “Don’t get any closer you bastard! It’s bad enough I have to be in your presence!” The thief cried out.
Without a word Ryota slowly clinched his fist, a black aura outlining his body as he struck the barrier with a single punch. All watched as the entire barrier was fractured to the point of breaking, yet somehow remained intact.
“Whoa, he was able to fracture Roxie’s barrier with a single punch!” Kiozen exclaimed in shock. “That’s because you’re dealing with more than mere bounty hunters now you brats, you have no one to blame but yourselves” With another seinshin imbued strike, the transparent barrier shattered to pieces as their foe stood before them on the small arena-sized island.
“Tsk, I won’t let you come any closer!” Kiozen manifested a gumball in his left palm advancing right for the admiral, attempting to siphon his life force and seal it within the gumball. Just as the pirate reached out for the assailant’s face, Ryota unleashed a wave of energy so strong, it kept the pink-haired pirate from getting any close with it’s repelling force.
“Tsk, pathetic” Kiozen was backhanded across the face, sending him soaring off into the ocean. “No! Kiozen! Oda cried out as his ally landed in the ocean. “E-ENOUGH! I’VED HAD IT WITH YOU, YOU BASTARD!” Forming barriers around his fists like gloves, Roxie charged towards the admiral filled with rage and hatred for his father. He clinched his protected fists, throwing a punch right for the admiral’s face with all his power.
All watched as the condensed sphere struck the side of Ryota’s face, sending him staggering onto the ship with many soldiers in shock. “H-he hit the admiral! I-I didn’t think anyone could land such a blow on him!” One of them cried out as they all looked down at him as he laid on his back on the ship.
“Sigh, not bads brat, those fists of yours sure do pack a punch...but it’s going to take a lot more than your force field ability to keep me down” Ryota slowly got up, unharmed by his son’s attack. Naiomi and Kenzu tried to come up with a way to fight back, but in the end had no plan to fight someone so fluent in seinshin.
Just then, Kiozen came soaring in on a cotton candy cloud he used to fly through the air right for their assailant. “Marshmallow mist!” Taking a deep breath, he unleashed a breath of white mist that began to fill the area, blinding everyone in the area from seeing more than a foot ahead of them.
“What?” Ryota looked around, only to see a thick white fog blocking his view. That’s when he saw a silhouette running straight for him. With a quick blow, he struck straight through the figure’s chest, only to realize it was a clone of Kiozen made of solid chocolate. “Tssk! I’m getting tired of these measley candy tricks!”
As he tried to pull his arm out of the chest hole of the clone, he realized the chocolate was beginning to slowly travel up his arm, becoming harder and thicker. “Y-you little-” in an abrupt surge of energy, he shattered the clone’s body as it hit the ground in a puddle of chocolate. “Alright I'm tired of these silly games!” Focusing immense levels of seinshin within his left arm, he swiped his hand through the air, sending a vast surge of power across a mile of land.
The surge of power caused the mist to disperse allowing him to see once more. Before he could continue, a basketball-sized jawbreaker fell from the sky, landing at the admiral’s feet. The moment he looked down at it, a surge of pink seinshin surged around it as it cracked open, unleashing a devastating explosion before the fleet. Roxie formed a protective dome around the crew to keep them from getting blown away as the ocean filled with a blinding ray of light.
The ship and all on board were sent flying off into the distance while Ryota was sent hurling into a random part of the ocean miles away. As the light faded, Kiozen landed beside the dome, his hair a mess as he fell to one knee out of breath. “Huff...it’s been a while since I've had to pull so many tricks out at once during a fight. I forgot how exhausting it can be sometimes, especially that jawbreaker bomb, I condensed as much of my energy into it as I could to make sure it would be enough to send that bastard flying”
“Good job Kiozen, you and Roxie really saved our ass” Naiomi cheered. Kenzu nodded. “Without my sword and all these injuries, I can’t be of much help in a real fight. I may know how to tap into my life energy, but in this condition...there’s no telling what kind of damage I'll do to myself”
The candy pirate manifested another cotton candy cloud helping the swordsmen and the others on top of it before it slowly ascended into the air, flying over the water. “Sigh, can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner, then again, I've always been one to be a quick thinker in stressful times like this rather than just out of nowhere. At least you can finally rest Roxie” He said sitting in the center of the cotton candy cloud with his legs crossed. Oda nodded slowly laying down before falling asleep...
In a random part of the ocean, the waves began to speed up as Ryota burst out of the water, using the fierce force of his seinshin to keep him levitating in the air almost as if he were flying. “Those damn brats...they think they’ve beaten me, but I'm sure I'll see them again” A slight smile grew across his face as he looked off into the distance. (Oda...you currently have gotten strong...)
Back On Dread Rot Island...
Azuma awoke in the center of a large dark throne room, bound to a steel cross with chained binding his arms, torso and legs. “Tsk, what the hell!?” That’s when a young female voice called out: “Oh? I see you’ve finally awakened, and here I thought you’d never come to”
His vision focusing, the pirate looked in front of him to see a set of dark-red stairs leading to a black and gold throne where a tall woman dressed in a black dress sat with one leg crossed over the other and her chin resting upon her wrist as she smiled seductively at the pirate.
Azuma couldn’t help but notice her unique features, she had purple skin with glow red eyes as well as vampire fangs. A look of both shock and confusion washed over the young captain. “Who are you? Why did you bring me here? Would’ve been easier to just kill me back in the labyrinth rather than bring me to the mansion?”
That’s when he noticed a man standing beside the throne with long black hair dressed in a black formal suit approaching him. Without warning he back-handed Azuma cross the face responding: “How dare you speak to our captain in such a manner, Rosera must only be spoken to as the queen she is!”
The seductive vampire looked down at Azuma who just glared at her in frustration. “I hope to become lord of the pirates one day so that nothing can ever be taken from me again, I don’t know who you are Rosera, but I truly don’t care, all I want is to find my crew and surpass the strength of any other pirate!”
The vampiric woman gasped in shock as well as the man standing before him and Seraph who stood in front of the large black gates of the throne room behind him. The unknown man grew furious as his eye twitched rapidly with his body shaking. “You-YOU BASTARD!” With all his strength he slapped Azuma across his face once, this time leaving a red handprint across his face. “You ungraceful peasant! Apologize to Rosera while you still speak!”
Just before he brought his hand down once more, the vampire exclaimed: “That’s enough, Velric...I'll handle this” She slowly walked across the black tiled floors of the throne room with a hand on her hip as she moved seductively with each motion.
“My captain are you sure? Surely you don’t want to waste your time on such a disrespectful welp like this?” Azuma watched as she stopped right in front of Velric before looking him dead in the eye, her eyes giving off a pink glow. “I said I can handle it, get out of my way” The man watched as her crewmate’s eyes lit up pink as well before they bowed stepping aside.
Rosera smirked leaning in close to Azuma as her irises lit up once more. “Hehe, as you can see....I'm very persuasive with men. Now...why don’t you tell me why you were sneaking around my manor? Are you some little thief? Or perhaps you came to try and have your way with me hehe?”
Azuma’s cold glare remained as he looked her dead in the eye. “I washed up on this island a few hours ago and was looking for my crewmates or someone that could help me find them, that’s it. I didn’t know anything about this island before coming here”
Rosera looked him dead in the eye, trying to find a hint of doubt in his eye but saw nothing. “Hmph, you appear as if you’re telling the truth, but let’s see if you can still say that when you look into my eyes” Azuma watched as she slowly opened her eyes reviling their pink radiance as before.
He could only stand there and watched as the vampire attempted to use her hypnotic gaze on him, only for it to have no effect on the young human. Her eyes reverted to their normal red glow as she stood in disbelief. “It-it can’t be...no man should be able to resist the temptation of my hypnotic gaze. Tsssk!” Grabbing his face with one hand she pulled his eyes to meet hers once more using her pink hypnotic eyes.
Still, he was unphased by her ability. Blood began to run down her face like tears as she released her grip, looking away in a fit of rage. “NO, NO NO! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE!? HOW CAN YOU RESIST MY HYPNOSIS LIKE IT’S NOTHING!?”
Azuma just stood bound as silence filled the room. That’s when Rosera angrily sat back on her throne glaring down at her victim. “Tssk, if you’re capable of resisting my vampiric gaze so easily, then let’s see what you’re capable of!” With a snap of her fingers the chains fell to the ground, freeing him.
“Let’s see what you can do fellow pirate. You may’ve lost to Seraph, but what can you do against my 2nd in command Velric?” Azuma looked to see the strange man standing between him and Rosera as he opened his hand with an evil smile on his face.
“No one shall touch my captain while I still stand, especially not one as low as you. Prepare yourself fool, for I won’t hold back!” Azuma took a deep breath, the rest of his injuries finally healed after being out-cold for so long while still wearing his scorched attire. “Don’t get so full of yourself, a title means nothing if you don’t have strength to back it up”
Velric clinched his teeth in anger as his fingers began to grow long and sharp like claws. “Time for you to feel despair!” Seraph and Rosera watched as the sadistic pirate charged straight for him, moving his long sharp fingers right for his target’s bare chest, only for Azuma to jump back, evading the piercing slash by mere inches.
“Hmm, so you’re magika ability is to grow your fingers out like razor sharp claws? That’s an interesting ability, but can it match the power I weild?”
“HA! Power!? All you seem to be capable of is regenerating your wounds, what good is that in an offensive battle!?” That’s when Azuma slowly raised his fist up to his face as he took a deep breath as he looked Velric dead in the eye. “I’m not referring to my magika ability”
“What!?” He cried out in both shock and confusion. Azuma smirked as a purple aura began to manifest around him like purple flames. All watched in disbelief as Azuma slowly pulled his arm back preparing to attack. “1st stance...focus strike” Using the seinshin technique he had copied from the S.D captain, Azuma unleashed a punching motion, sending a fierce drill of force right for Velric. An abrupt burst of force struck him in the abdomen, sending him impacting the stone wall just past the throne as cracks formed around him.
Seraph and Rosera just stood there in shock, unable to utter a word. Meanwhile Velric fell off the wall, hitting the ground lying on his stomach. “B-bastard...I don’t know what just happened, but I assure you...I can still f-fight" As the man slowly pushed himself up, Rosera sighed ordering him to stand down. “There’s no need Velric...I have another test in store for this interesting man”
Her crew watched as she slowly stood up and slammed her foot on the ground. A black coffin with a red cross rose from the ground beside her. The feeling of the room seemed to change when Azuma noticed a worried loom on Seraph's face. “Allow me to know your name young pirate, once I open this coffin, your death is certainly all but assured”
He looked up at her with a serious expression. “Azuma...” Her eyes lit up with surprise. “Azuma...cute name, it’s too bad you’ll die here, I would’ve loved to have gotten to know you more. Now prepare to meet your death Azuma” With a snap of her fingers the coffin door fell to the floor, reveling the skeletal remains of a samurai in a purple kimono with a black katana leaning against the inside of the coffin beside it.
Rosera smirked stepping closer to the deceased figure before blowing a purple mist from her lips into the skeleton's face. That’s when the skull’s eyes illuminated with a purple glow as it began to move and crack loudly. Azuma could feel a sense of unease as he watched the reanimated skeleton step out of the coffin, wielding the dark blade.
“What is this? You’re having a mere undead fight me instead of fighting me yourself?” Velric sadistically grinned as Rosera responded: “You don’t recognize this kimono do you Azuma?”
“No, what does his kimono have to do with anything?”
“Take a look at his symbol” she motioned. Azuma looked to see a dark-purple crescent moon with a star inside it. But just looked at it in confusion. “I haven’t seen that crest before, what significance does it have?” She groaned in frustration sitting back on her throne responding: “I’ll allow him to explain to you since you clearly have no Knowlege of this world’s history” All watched as the undead samurai slowly raised it’s head in Azuma’s direction. It’s jaw remained motionless as an elderly male voice spoke: “It seems I've been awaked, tell me young one, why have you summoned me?”
“I want to teach him just how ignorant he is about this world’s history, teach him about the past and show him just how powerful you are” The vampire commented, her cheek resting upon her cheek with her legs resting over the arm of her throne.
The undead samurai looked at Azuma with curiosity before sitting on the floor, his legs crossed in a mediative position. “Sigh, very well...you wish for me to tell you about my life as a samurai back in my prime? Then allow me to start back when I met the pirate lord himself....Soichiro Akamatsu....
The undead samurai began his tale, his voice carrying the weight of countless memories. "My name is Sinyugia and I was a samurai in service to the Pirate Lord Soichiro Akamatsu who was renowned as the strongest pirate of the last two generations"
Azuma listened intently, the room seemed to fade away, as he listened to Sinyugia's words. "In those days, the world was a perilous place, ruled by powerful pirate crews and marauding creatures. Soichiro Akamatsu was not only a pirate, but also a man of honor. He sought to bring balance to the chaos of the seas, and for that, he gained both allies and enemies"
His spectral gaze seemed to pierce through Azuma as he spoke of the legendary pirate lord. "Soichiro was a master swordsman, known for his unique fighting style that combined elements of samurai techniques and pirate ferocity. His crew, the Crimson raven, was feared and respected across the sea. But it wasn't just his strength in combat that set Soichiro apart, he had a vision for a world where pirates could coexist peacefully, and he worked tirelessly to achieve it"
He and his crew often aided those in need, and they earned the loyalty of many. But with great power comes great opposition"
The samurai's voice grew somber as he recounted darker times. "Rival pirate crews and the sea corp saw Soichiro's vision as a threat. Battles were fought, and many lives were lost. But Soichiro never wavered in his pursuit of a better world. Eventually, the clashes grew more intense, and Soichiro faced his greatest challenge. He engaged in a legendary battle against the sea corp's top admirals, as well as other legendary pirates. Each clash shook the very foundations of the seas"
The room seemed to tremble with the intensity of the tale. "Soichiro fought valiantly, but in the end, he disappeared without a trace. Some say he perished in a battle against another pirate, while others believe he chose to go into hiding, waiting for the day a new pirate worthy of his title would appear"
Sinyugia's voice grew distant, and he looked out of the room's window at the dark island beyond. "The Crimson raven disbanded after Soichiro's disappearance, and the world moved on. But his legacy lived on, and his dream of a world where pirates could find a place of their own continued to inspire"
Azuma couldn't help but be moved by the story of Soichiro Akamatsu. "Do you believe he's still out there, waiting?" Azuma asked, his voice filled with a newfound determination. The samurai turned his gaze back to Azuma. "It's difficult to say young one, Soichiro was a man of mystery, and his fate remains unknown. But what matters is that his ideals endure, carried by those who believe in them"
As the undead samurai's story concluded, Azuma felt a renewed sense of motivation. He had been touched by the legacy of the legendary pirate lord. With gleam of hope in his eyes, he looked at Rosera and said, "I may not know the full extent of this world's history, but I know one thing: I will continue to improve, become strong enough to protect those who can't protect themselves or those they care about!"
Rosera watched him with a mixture of curiosity and intrigue. The room was filled with a sense of anticipation as Azuma turned to Sinyugia. "Please show me what your generation was capable of Sinyugia, I want to see just how far I have to go to reach your level"
All watched in silence as the undead swordsmen looked deep into his eyes, seeing the burning passion within him. “Sigh, I'm not sure that’s a smart idea child...undead I might be, but I still maintain the fighting prowess I acquired over my 60 years of life. It’s best if you don’t ever have to face me in a real fight. With my cursed blade of Amaterasu, you’d be cut down with in an instant”
That’s when a smirk grew across Rosera’s face as she slowly raised her hand, almost as if she were controlling a puppet. “Actually, I'm interested to see just how he’ll fair against one of the strongest swordsmen of this world. Her eyes gleamed red as she took control over the undead samurai with her ability to reanimate the dead.
“C-captain, is this truly necessary? Surely you don’t expect Azuma to take on one of the legendary swordsmen, his cursed sword alone is said to inflict devastating wounds with a single slash” Seraph uttered with a sense of worry for the pirate. The vampire glared at her crewmate. “I’m surprised to hear this from you Seraph, normally you follow my orders without question...why is it, you suddenly have a change of mind? Have you somehow grown attached to him? He’s nothing more than another pirate intruding on my island. Handsome he may be, but an intruder is still just that”
That’s when Velric cried out: “Are you siding with the intruder Seraph!? Lady Rosera won’t stand for such disobedience! If you continue such disrespect towards our dear captain, I'll have no choice but to take it as a sign of betrayal and rid my dear captain of your presence!”
Azuma could see that Seraph was hurt by such accusation and looked away with a sad expression upon his face. “Now then, shall we begin...Azuma?” With a quick flick of her index finger, Sinyugia gripped his sheathed blade at his side before moving with a swift instant motion. Before Azuma could even react, he felt a burning pain across the center of his chest, only to realize he had been pieced by the cursed blade without even knowing.
“S-shit!” He looked down at the slash across his torso that seemed to glow purple. “Tsssk! Once strike won’t stop me from continuing this fight” Taking a deep breath, Azuma attempted to heal his wounds, only to realize the wound caused by the cursed blade wouldn’t heal properly, leaving a purple scorch mark across his chest. “W-what is this!? My wound won’t fully heal!”
“Sigh, I’m sorry young pirate, any pierced by my blade will forever be scarred by it’s dark essence, even Soichiro himself never healed from the single strike I managed to inflict of his chest all those years ago. It’s best if you give up now and leave before you’re forever crippled by my blade. Unfortunately, I am not the one in control right now and I have no idea what this vampire will do next while I'm under her control”
Azuma took a deep breath, letting the calming breath flow through him as he focused seinshin through his body. “Don’t worry...I'm nowhere near done” All watched as his purple life aura began to illuminate his body with immense power. “I’ve already come so far in such a short time and won’t let it end here, neither you nor Rosera can stop me”
Pushing off with his foot, Azuma advanced straight for the samurai who spun around, stopping his opponent's fierce punch with his blade as the entire manor shock by the clash. “You certainly are a resilient one, but you have a long way to go before you reach my level”
Without warning, an abrupt shockwave was released from the blade sending Azuma staggering back, impacting the wall on the other side of the room before hitting the floor. He could feel his entire body beginning to ache from both the impact and using so much life force just to take on the powerful swordsmen. “D-damn it...I-I used so much of my power just to try and keep up with him only to be knocked back as if it were nothing. Just how powerful is this man?”
Once more the young captain rose to his feet, this time out of breath with his entire body beginning to ache from his use of seinshin. “Huff...huff...I'm not...finished yet...I have one last trick up my sleeve”
That's when Rosera commented: “As much as I'd love to see that, I think I've had my fill of you embarrassing yourself, it’s time to finish you off so I can finally get back to relaxing. Such a waste of a good-looking man like you, next time be more careful where you wonder in your next life”
With another motion of her wrist, Sinyugia prepared to unleash the finishing blow, gripping his sheathed blade, that’s when Seraph stepped in between him and Azuma, keeping the samurai from attacking. The elegant man met Rosera’s gaze, his once worried look was now a cold glare towards his own captain. “Enough Rosera, as much as it sickens me to say this, but I won’t let you go any further with this...Since I met this man, I've sensed no ill intentions from him, you’re the only one who’s been hostile to him sense he’s entered this manor. I may’ve fought him, but I was just doing my job as you ordered to keep intruders out, but this? You’re just torturing him now and I shall not be a part of such disgraceful actions. I beg you Rosera, please stop this before you force my hand”
The tension began to grow thick as the pair stared one another down without flinching... After nearly a minute of silence, the vampire released her control over Sinyugia lowering her hand. “Hmph, very well, but don’t ever order me around ever again. As for you Azuma, I suggest you leave before I change my mind”
That’s when the swordsmen walked over to Azuma, holding out his cursed blade to him. “Here, take my sword boy...I have a feeling you’ll mage great use of it in the future”
“What!? But this is a legendary blade! What will you do without your S-tier blade!?” A smile could be seen on the skeleton’s face as he placed the sheathed sword in the pirate’s hands. “Don’t worry young Azuma...I have no more need for such a thing. I already carved a name for myself on this world, my generation has come to an end...it’s time for your generation to create a new era, one that seeks the ideas of the pirate lord himself, so long as you do what you think is right, you will become a great legendary pirate one day”
Azuma watched as the skeleton began to slowly decay into dust before him, he couldn’t help but feel a tear fall from his eye onto the remains of the once great swordsmen. Just before anyone could speak, the large doors of the throne room burst open as Azuma’s crew burst in.
“AZUMA!” Naiomi, Kiozen and Roxie cried out in joy as they raced towards him. That’s when Velric jumped across the room, landing in front of them, blocking their path with his long sharp fingers like a gate made out of his long-deformed fingers. “Not a step closer! No one is allowed near miss Rosera without permission! Leave now or be killed!”
That’s when Roxie raised his hand towards the assailant, sealing him within a transparent barrier to keep him from moving while the others simply walked past him over to Azuma as Naiomi and Kiozen hugged him tightly. “AZUMA! WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE OK! WE WERE SO WORRIED YOU MAY’VE DROWNED OR WORSE!” Naiomi cried out, that’s when she noticed half his upper attire had been burned off.
“What happened to your clothes captain? Did one of these bastards burn you or something!?”
“It’s fine Naiomi, I had a battle with one of them and I ended up losing, they hurt me really bad, but I luckily healed from most of it thanks to my healing ability all aside from one scar” He smiled at her but realized she was filled with rage as she looked at him with a cold emotionless expression. “Which one of these bastards hurt you captain? Was it the bitch in the chair?” She accused pointing at Rosera who grew angered by the statement.
“Hold your tounge, I won’t hesitate to kill you myself if you continue to disrespect the ruler of this island” Naiomi frowned pointing in her direction shouting: “I don’t care who you are, anyone who hurts my dear captain will see just how angry I can get when someone I love is hurt!”
That’s when a smirk grew across the vampiric captain’s face as she looked down on the enraged assassin. “Someone you love hmm? Are you sure he’s not out of your league? Such a handsome man shouldn’t have to settle for an average girl like you when he can have a vampiric queen like me. A child born from my vampiric blood would be stronger than anything your human genes could birth”
Everyone's mouths dropped at Rosera’s words as Naiomi’s face grew red. “YOU BITCH...HOW DARE YOU!” The blue hair assassin charged towards the throne, a blue aura of seinshin flowing around her body. Consumed by rage she threw a strike straight for Rosera, only for her to tilt her head an inch to the right mere moments before the attack made contact. All watched as a massive crack formed across the entire wall from Naiomi’s fierce strike.
“Heh, you know what? I’ve changed my mind...I don’t want you to die Azuma...I want to join your crew” This caused everyone in the room to freak out with shocked looks on their face as all except Azuma cried out” WHAT!?”
Velric, who was still trapped inside Roxie’s barrier cried out: “My captain you can’t be serious! Must you truly lower yourself to their pathetic level!? His crew are nothing more than peasants!” That’s when Roxie clinched his fist as the barrier began to slowly compress, becoming cramped for the tall thin man. Roxie smirked. “Our pathetic level huh? If we’re so pathetic, then why are you the one trapped?”
Velric clenched his teeth in anger as he sharpened his fingers, clawing at the barrier’s walls with all his might, only for it to have no effect. “Damn you” He muttered. Rosera slowly rose from her throne as she walked down the red carpet over to her sealed crewmate. “Quit complaining Velric, it’s not like there’s anything to do on Dread rot island, aside from sitting in the manor and scaring trespassers, it’s awfully boring here. I only stayed here so I could escape from all those that treated me as nothing more than a monster”
That’s when Azuma grew curious, walking over to her as the rest of the crew circled around them aside from Velric who remained trapped. “What happened Rosera? Who saw you as a monster?” Red tears that resembled blood began to run down her face as she turned away from him. “I-I don’t want to talk about it...please, can we just forget about it?”
The others looked at one another with sad expressions while Azuma stepped closer, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Rosera...tell me what happened” He spoke with a calm and concerned voice, truly worried about her.
“They-they all hated me...I grew up on an island called Star fall island...it was an island that was one large city, filled with towering buildings and high-class houses, the city was controlled by a rich man known as Baron Bones, with his great wealth he easily took over my home town and manipulated others of power to follow any command he wished. As for me, I grew up in an average size home, seen by many as lower-class in comparison to the many wealthy citizens that flaunted their money around like it was nothing”
All listened as she continued. “When I was only 12 years-old, I stumbled upon a strange purple crystal lying near the water of star fall beach near my house, As I picked it up brushing off the sand, I realized I hadn’t eaten that day, my mother was at her job as a barmaid in Baron’s casino near the center of town several miles away. As my stomach ached for food, I eat the ice crystal quickly before feeling a strange nauseous feeling, that’s when I realized my hair went from it’s normal black color, to the white you see now, my pale white skin also became purple as I grew fangs and my eyes glistened with a red glow”
She sighed, looking Azuma in the eye as her long white hair covered her right. “I was too young to understand just what had happened at the time, but as I stood on the beach out in the blazing sunlight...I could feel a searing pain all throughout my body as if I were being burned alive by the sun itself. I was too young to know I had been transformed into a vampire...I managed to run inside and take refuge in my room, closing the blinds of my windows to keep any ounce of light from entering my room”
Rosera wiped the tears from her eyes trying to be strong. “But when my mother came home, she looked at me in horror, as if I were nothing more than an ugly monster in her eyes. The long on her face hurt me more than the sun ever could. My mother was a tall thin woman with long red hair and green eyes, she always treated me with love and care. But the moment she saw me as this vampire, she didn’t see her daughter anymore, all she saw was some gross creature she wanted nothing to do with”
Tears built back up as she went on. “Once the citizens of star fall found out about me, they attempted to capture me and leave me outside to burn in the sun. Luckily my mother helped me escape off the island in the middle of the night, as much as she hated the sight of me, she knew she couldn’t just let me die over something I had no control over. Once I escaped the island, I just survived off the animals of different islands, living in dark parts of the islands to keep any sunlight from reaching me”
Many of the pirates couldn’t help but shed tears from her story, even Azuma did his best not to cry, only for a single tear to escape his eye as it hit the ground before everyone.
“I’m sorry you had to experience such a traumatic event in your life, especially at such a young age Rosera. But I want you to know I'm here for you, you’re not the only one who’s felt the pain of someone close to you, treat you as if you’re nothing more than mere garbage. My 1st crew left me on the brink of death, stranded on a random island with nothing but the clothes on my back. If there hadn’t been a magika crystal near me, I probably would’ve succumbed to my injuries and bled to death on the beach”
Rosera was caught off guard as Azuma pulled her closer, softly embracing her as he placed his right hand on her head as she rested her face against his chest. She blushed for a moment before looking up at Naiomi, winking at her with her tounge out in a taunting manner. Seeing her captain holding another woman caused the blue-hair assassin to clinch her fist growing furious once more before taking a deep breath letting herself cool down.
Letting go of Rosera, Azuma walked towards Velric commenting: “Your captain wants to join my crew, but you don’t seem so willing. If you’re going to be a problem, you can always just stay here by yourself on this dark and empty island...though chances are you’ll probably go mad after a week of isolation from any other people”
Velric just glared at him with utter rage when the pirate leaned in close to the barrier with a cold look on his face. “You can either follow my command and we’ll let you join us, or you can be trapped on this island with no way off as you remain here alone, talking to yourself as your thoughts become too much and you slowly slip into madness”
“Sigh, just leave him here Azuma, if he’s going to make such a big deal about it, then clearly, he won’t be of any help to us when there’s actually a real situation” Rosera groaned placing a hand on her hip as all looked at Azuma, waiting for his decision. “You’re right Rosera, might as well leave him here so he doesn't hold us back. “Let’s get out of here, I’m tired of feeling the cold breeze on my back and need to buy new clothes since mine were burned to crisp from my fight with Seraph”
The blonde elegant man lowered his head in embarrassment, getting down on one knee before him. “My apologies captain Azuma, I was only following my former captain’s orders to stop all intruders, I meant no disrespect towards you sir!”
Azuma looked down at him as his serious expression became a slight smirk. “Don't fret Seraph, you were only doing as you were asked, that shows you have loyalty and after that fight, I know you had not intention to kill me, you knew I was alive and could’ve killed me if you wanted too, the fact you spared me shows you’re not some heartless brute that seeks to kill. I have hope that you’ll be a great addition to the Azuma pirates Seraph, don’t let your thoughts get the better of you”
The vampiric pirate looked up at his new captain who offered his hand out to him with a smile. “Welcome to the Azuma pirates Seraph.
Tears of joy filled his eyes as he took his hand rising to his feet. “T-thank you sir, I'll do my best to show my loyalty for both you and the crew!”
“Now then, let’s be off, there’s a certain island that deserves my attion”
“Wait captain, should I free this wimp from the barrier or just leave him inside?” Roxie questioned, pointing to Velric. “Sigh, I'd say you can let him out once we’re off the island, can’t have him following us” The crew made their way towards the door as Velric began crying out to them: “Wait! You’re not seriously going to leave me here are you!?”
Without a word the crew left the pirate within the transparent barrier, unable to escape. As the newly expanded crew reached the shore of Dread Rot island, Azuma ordered Kiozen to create something to help them off the island.
A smirk grew on the candy pirate’s face. “Of course sir, I've been coming up with many new ideas with my candy magika to add some versatility. Candy formation: Cotton candy ship!” Throwing his hand out before the shore, a bundle of cotton candy began to form together until it took the form of a small ship. “There you are captain, this such suffice until we can get a proper ship”
“Impressive work Kiozen, your candy ability certainly has many uses when it’s used in the right ways. Let’s hurry to Star fall island so I can get new clothes as well as find this “Baron Bones” You were talking about Rosera, no one should get away with not only making someone feel like a monster but planning to kill them as well!”
As everyone boarded the cotton candy ship, it soared into the air, flying like an air-balloon flowing through wind. Rosera’s eyes widened as she realized what Azuma had said. She placed her hand on his shoulder, pleading for him not to go to star fall island. “Please captain, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to star fall island, it’s filled with corrupt people that threat low-class citizens as mere trash!”
Azuma’s face grew serious as he responded: “That’s why we’re going Rosera, what if there’s others there being treated as badly as you were treated when you were little, I'll do anything to keep people safe, that’s one of the main reasons I became stronger and will continue to improve myself, I want to help those unable to protect themselves. If I can save even one person from that corrupt city’s influence, I would’ve achieved something even if it’s viewed as minor. You can stay on the ship if the pain is too much Rosera, but I won’t ignore those that could be in trouble”
“Y-you’re right captain...I-I can’t let my own trauma keep me from stopping that bastard from hurting anyone else”
“So, we’re headed to Star fall island captain?” Kiozen asked. Azuma nodded. “Which direction is it?” He asked Rosera” She sighed pointing Northeast. With that, the candy ship changed course towards Star Fall Island...
Star Fall Island ARC
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