Eleven years. That’s how long she’d been on this island. That’s how long she’d been forced to adapt and live as if everything was normal even when she knew it wasn’t. Eleven years since the day she lost her family to something she wasn’t sure was even happening. They were there on vacation, something every family does, or, something most do. Those with money anyway. It had been her, her parents, and two older brothers. One last family vacation before her brothers went off to live their lives across the sea.
The start of their vacation had been great. Everyone was having fun and enjoying everything the island had to offer. She had even made a friend, though they never exchanged names. Not that it would matter after a few days because the other girl stopped showing up. That and around that time her father had gone missing. Soon followed by her mother, and the final night of the trip, her brother too. This only left her, alone, scared, and lost on an island she would now call home.
Throughout the years of living on the island, she’d noticed other families arrive but not everyone would leave. Sometimes it would just be the parents, or a single parent plus the children. Other times they wouldn’t leave at all, but they wouldn’t be seen on the island again. This was a trend she began to notice more and more after she started working at the docks. What bothered her the most, was the ships of marines that would come in, several getting off, and the ships leaving again. They weren’t even dressed as marines, they wore civilian clothing and pretended to be locals. All of this she would document in a notebook that she carried with her.
This wasn’t a life that she’d chosen, and it certainly wasn’t one she’d wanted but it was the one she was living. And now she was determined to figure out the dark secret of the island and hopefully, find out what happened to her family. Some part of her hoping they were still alive.
“Ora,” a man shouted as he dropped a barrel.
The sudden thump pulled Oriana our of her thoughts and she quickly shut her notebook. “What do you want Kiever?”
“Your break is up. Get back to work.”
“Or what,” she challenged, brow raised and cigarette hanging loosely from her lips.
“Or I’ll,” Kiever stopped trying to think of what he would do. He’d gotten in a fight with her before and had his ass handed to him. She’d nearly choked the life out of him with her thighs after he groped her upon their first meeting. “Nevermind, just get back to work. We’ve got another cruise ship coming in this afternoon and need the docks cleared of this cargo before then.”
“Another?” Ora hopped off the crate she’d been sitting on and sighed. “Didn’t we get one in last night?”
“Yeah, but this place is popular. And if you’d stop scaring off my workers we’d be done already.”
“I don’t scare them off.”
“Ora,” Kiever crossed his arms as he looked at the woman, “You’re a strong, self-sufficient woman that has made it obvious she can go head to head with pirates and marines alike. That scares men.”
“Then those men are weak,” Ora shrugged as she put out her cigarette and discarded it. “You don’t need men like that.”
“There aren’t any other men.”
“Then hire women.”
“I would if any wanted to work the docks.”
“Advertise better,” she laughed as she picked up a whiskey barrel and carried it to one of the carts for transport later.
“You think people come to a place like this and decide to put down roots and work at the docks for a living?”
“You didn’t have a choice.”
“Oh, no I did. But it was either this, work up in the castle as a servant, or let guys ogle me at the bar. At least here I am of use to the general public and can do as I please. Besides, if I didn’t choose the docks, you wouldn’t have anything nice to look at during the day.”
“You were nicer to look at before you cut your hair,” Kiever complained as he moved a few crates.
“Guess you’ll just have to get used to it then.”
“I hate you.”
“No you don’t,” she teased with a wink as she moved a few more barrels. “Whiskey barrels are loaded; do you want to transport them or shall I?”
“I’ll do it. Don’t need you making a fuss at the bars. Just finish with the other goods and you can go.” Kiever didn’t wait for a reply before taking off with he cart and leaving Oriana to finish unloading the cargo. Of course, there were three other workers on the docks, but they steered clear of the barrels and crates so they wouldn’t be around Oriana. She’d call them cowards of course simply because they were intimidated by her.
As she continued loading the cargo onto the appropriate carts, Ora noticed a ship off in the distance. She couldn’t quite make out what it was, but the black flag alerted her that they were pirates. It wasn’t uncommon for pirates to visit, most times they just hung around for a few days and didn’t cause any problems. The undercover marines left them alone too, which she found odd, and that only brought her back to thinking there was something else going on the kept them there. [I Well this should be interesting.]
“We’ll be at the island in about an hour,” Nami said, arms crossed. “Lets go over the rules again, shall we?”
“Stay out of trouble,” Usopp and Chopper said in unison.
“If offered a sample of food, don’t eat the whole table,” Luffy said with a pout.
“Good,” Nami nodded. She looked over to Zoro who couldn’t care less what was going on. Robin had just returned to reading her book. Sanji was finishing cleaning up from lunch, and Franky was repairing the railing after the last sea king attack. “If all goes well we’ll have a nice vacation.”
Lucille smiled softly as she walked through the garden. Lately these days her father had been busy with meetings so Lucille spent most of her time alone. Minus a few of the staff at her home. She took a seat near the fountain at the manor and smiled sadly looking into the water. “Ever since Mom got sick Papa’s felt so distant.” She ran her fingers through her hair then shrugged slightly. “Well I guess I could go take a walk… we do have the festival coming up. Maybe I’ll get some ideas for decorations if I get fresh air.” She smiled softly before heading back into the manor to grab a light jacket before heading out.
Sanji finished cleaning up and saw the island coming into view and whistled softly. “Wow… this island sure looks like a vacation spot.”
Robin nodded. “Aparently they have several festivals and parties too that are free to people visiting.”
"We are usually the ones throwing them," Zoro commented as he got up. He noted the amount of ships that were at the dock, ranging from cruise, to cargo, and even fishing boats. "Don't see any Marines."
"This place is neutral territory. Even if there were Marines here they can't and won't do anything." Nami had done research on this island before suggesting it as a vacation spot. She wanted to make sure that if Luffy were to cause trouble that they wouldn't have to deal with the government.
"I bet there's all kinds of people there," Chopper beamed, excited to see who and what the was.
Ora finished with the last bit of cargo and stretched. "Why'd he have to leave me to finish this up? There's more than usual." She frowned upon realizing that there was a festival coming up and what she had just unloaded was likely for that. [I I'll have to keep an eye out. Who knows what they'll try to pull.]
As Lucille got closer to town people waved and smiled greeting her.
"Miss Luci! Are you excited for the festival?"
"Oh, good morning. I always am. I'm hoping we can make it better than last years too!" She beamed.
A few others greeted her and offered her small gifts. She was the public face for the festival each year after all. It used to be her mother before she got sick but she had been the one who made the majority of preparations for the festival in the last several years.
As the straw hats grew closer to the docks they prepared for docking. (That sounded dumb but whatever) Nami called out orders then once they were safely docked she nodded. "Alright, we already went over everything so I won't nag you guys again. Except for Luffy. Please don't make this island hate us."
Luffy grinned. "I'm going to go find some party meat!"
Usopp double checked his stuff then smiled. "It's nice that I don't have to restock anything since we just restocked on the last island. So I can enjoy myself!"
Sanji nodded. "Yeah, I only have a few things I need to pick up since the wind was in our favor we made it to this island pretty quick."
"Can you sign this," a man asked while approaching Ora with a pen and clipboard.
"What for?" Ora turned her attention from the cargo to the man.
"It's too say you got everything."
"Oh." She took the clipboard and looked it over while also looking at the shipment she's unloaded. Upon finding something that she knew she hadn't unloaded she shook her head. "We didn't get the..."
"The chandelier," the man nodded, "It was broken upon loading. A replacement should be here next shipment."
"Who was it for?"
Ora's eye twitched, [I Of course he can buy a chandelier but can't be bothered to pay attention to what's going on down here when people go missing.]
"It was supposed to be fit the festival," the man added even he saw the eye twitch.
"We don't need it." She finished checking everything but the chandelier off and signed the form.
"It isn't needed. There is literally no use for a chandelier in an outdoor festival where it has no where to be hung."
"But the lord.."
"Probably won't even notice it didn't arrive." She handed back the pen and clipboard she's walked away before he could say anything else. However she stopped when the ship she spotted earlier was beginning to dock. [I Straw Hats,] she thought upon seeing their jolly roger up close.
"Only a few things," Zoro raised a cross, "Would've thought Luffy ate more than that."
"Are you two going to fight the whole time," Nami asked, arms crossed.
Sanji rolled his eyes at Zoro. “Luffy does try to eat more than that. But I don’t just give in when he whines.” He lit a cigarette before hopping off the ship. “Dumbass Mosshead.” He ran his fingers through his hair before heading off towards town to see if he could see any pretty girls he could potentially dance with at the festival.
Luffy grinned and immediate started running off.
“Idiot! Dont cause any trouble!”
Robin chuckled before putting her hand on Nami’s shoulder. “How about we go shopping? Could use a new dress for that party.”
Lucille was making mental notes on things she could set up differently.
Ora watched as the crew departed from their ship. She took note of their appearance and which direction they had gone in, on the off chance they didn't return. [I So there are eight of them,] she noted, [I Pretty small crew for a ship that size.]
"Ora," Kiever called to her after jumping off the cart.
"Let's get lunch."
Ora narrowed her eyes at the blond man. "What are you up to?"
"Nothing. You haven't eaten yet and neither have I."
"And I see you eyeing that ship that just came in. Stay off it."
"No," he picked the red haired woman up and threw her over his shoulder. "They're pirates and you don't need to go messing with them."
"Kiever you ass," Ora shouted, "Put me down!"
"Not a chance. We are going to eat lunch and you are going tell me what fascinated you about that ship."
"Why do you care?"
"Because you do."
Robin and Nami had been heading towards the boutiques when they came across Ora and Kiever. "Looks like they're having fun," Robin noted. "The locals sure are lively."
As Lucille walked she turned a corner and someone ran right into her causing her to stumble backwards. “Ah!” Before she could fall she felt someone grab her hand. She looked up and saw a boy with black hair. “My apologies, I didn’t see you.” She smiled softly.
Luffy grinned before laughing. “Don’t worry about it. I was in a rush to find meat.”
Lucille tilted her head. “Meat? Like cooked or raw?”
“Sanji yells at me when I try to eat it raw…”
Lucille chuckled softly. “Well, I know a few good restaurants who have very tasty meat. I can show you the way if you’d like.”
Luffy’s eyes grew big as he grinned and cheered. “Yheah!! I’m gonna get tasty meat!”
Lucille chuckled softly before turning around then looking behind her. “Right this way.” She led Luffy back up the street She had just walked down and then looked at him. “Oh, I’m Lucille by the way.”
Luffy grinned. “I’m Luffy!”
Lucille nodded. “I hope you’ll enjoy your stay here. I’m assuming you’re here to visit for the festival?”
Luffy nodded. “Yeah, Nami wanted a vacation.”
Lucille smiled. “Well I do hope you all will enjoy your stay.” Once they reached the restaurant Lucille turned to him and smiled. “Here you are. I have to get back to preparations but it was nice meeting you.” She gave a small wave before hearing him say see ya before running inside the restaurant.
Kiever finally set Ora down once they reached the cafe they frequented. They usually sat outside as it was a bit roomier and the fresh air was always nice even though they worked outside. "So you going to try me why you were eyeing that ship?"
"You know there's something going on here Kiever," Ora said after placing her order. She was less than pleased with having to talk about it but she knew he wouldn't let up if she didn't.
"There isn't anything going on."
"Yes there is and you're in denial. I know you notice the people that don't leave and we never see them."
"They could just be getting adjusted and we aren't out all the time either."
"Ora, these are conspiracy theories. Who knows, maybe those people got picked up on the other side of the island."
"It isn't a theory. If it was just a theory then explain what happened to my family eleven years ago."
"We went over this," Kiever sighed, "There was a fire at the cottage you were at. You were the only one that got out. Not without minimal scarring of course." He gestured to the burn scar on her left calf and ankle. "We buried the bodies and all of that."
"No," Ora frowned she shook her head, "that's not. That isn't what happened."
"It is." He could tell she was a bit distressed from the reminder and put his hand over hers. "We'll go to the graves after lunch if you want."
Even though she was sure Kiever was telling the truth, part of her knew something was wrong. She didn't remember any fire or getting burned. Was her memory wrong? Quickly she pulled her hand away and ran her fingers through her hair. "No. No that's not right. I know it's not."
"No!" She got up, "I don't remember that happening!"
"You were traumatized by it. Of course you won't remember it." Kiever got up and reached for Ora in an attempt to get her to sit back down.
"Even if it was traumatizing I think I'd remember getting burned." She flinched away from him and stepped back. "I'm going to go."
"Oriana!" He called after her as she ran off, knowing full well it was useless to chase after her. [I Damnit! If she questions too much she'll learn the truth.]
Usopp and Chopper walking around admiring the decor for the upcoming festival. They could tell it was something the island was obviously proud of and had spent years perfecting. "I wonder if there are any medicines here that I haven't heard of," Chopper said as he looked around.
"We can always check," Usopp suggested.
Ora kept running into she reached the markets. [I I know what I remember. Right? I can't forget something like my family dying in a fire. Of course I can't because it didn't happen.] She kept repeating it over and over until she stopped questioning her own memories. When are looked up she noticed a few of the villagers were looking at her. "What?"
"Why are you crying," one woman asked.
"I'm not..." She trailed off when she realized she was. "Oh."
Lucille had been watching as some shops were already setting up decorations in their windows for the festival. As she went to turn a corner someone ran past her and her eyes widened. “Oh!” She took a step back sighing softly. [i I really need to pay attention to my surroundings better… thats the second personI almost ran into…] She looked in the direction that the woman had ran and frowned slightly. [i She looked upset… I wonder if something happened…] She continued walking down the street lost in thought when she heard her name being called out.
“Well, well. Good afternoon, Lady Lucille.”
Lucille looked up and smiled when she saw the dock master. “Good afternoon Kiever.”
“Did you perchance see a short haired woman running this way?”
“Oh, yes. Looked like she was heading to the square.” Lucille pointed and Kiever nodded.
“Much oblieged.” He gave a small wave before picking up his pace to try and catch up with her. [i I’m an idiot… the longer I let her stay in her own head the more she’ll try to convince herself that the fire isn’t real… Thankfully Lucille believed what happened to her mother without a second thought… It’s only Ora we need to look out for…]
"It's fine," Ora said as she waved the woman off, "I'm fine."
"Now Ora you've lived here long enough that we know you don't cry without reason," the woman said.
"There you are," Kiever said when he caught up to Ora.
"Ah Kiever, did you go and make Oriana cry?"
"What? No, it was just a misunderstanding." Kiever walked up to Ora and looked her over, frowning. He wiped the tears away gently and sighed. "I'm sorry."
"Why can't I remember," Ora asked.
"Painful memories tend to be hard to remember." He pulled her into a hug and rubbed her back gently until he was sure she was calmed down enough. "Do you want to see their graves now? We can stop by the case and get our lunch to go and eat while visiting your family," he suggested.
Ora thought for a moment then nodded, "Okay." As she pulled away from Kiever she looked around and noticed a few of the Straw Hats were in the market. [I I'll wait until Kiever leaves me alone then I'll sneak into their ship.]
In silence, the two returned to the cafe and picked up their lunch. As they made their way to the graves of Ora's family, they bumped into someone. "Oh I'm sorry," Ora said quickly, "I guess I wasn't paying attention."
Kiever raised a brow at Ora, then at the blond man she had run into. "You'll have to forgive my friend here. Are you okay," he asked, so looking at the man.
Sanji had noticed there was no shortage of lovely women on this island. [i Am I in heaven?] He thought to himself as he wandered the streets. He had noticed Luffy earlier getting escorted by a light haired woman to a local restaurant and made a mental note to check on the restaurant later just in case Luffy made a mess of things.
He had stopped at a few stores just looking around trying to get a grasp on what to expect at the festival.
But then he felt someone run into him and heard a woman’s voice. He looked down and smiled softly ignoring the man with her for a moment. “Sorry Miss. I was lost in thought. And I hadn’t been watching where I was going.” He noticed her eyes instantly and gave a cold stare to the man. “I’m fine. But it looks like this beautiful woman was upset. Did you make her cry?”
Kiever raised a brow at the man, almost insulted by the accusation. Of course, he did have a hand in making her upset, but it wasn't this stranger's business. "No," he lied.
Ora was surprised at how quickly the man she'd bumped into picked up on her being upset. She smiled back at him then shook her head. Beside her she could feel Kiever tense up. "We were actually going to go visit my family's graves," she admitted, "Always get a little emotional when we do that."
"See? She's fine," Kiever added, clearly defensive. He placed his free hand on her shoulder, ready to move her out of the way if something happened.
"Can you not?" Ora quickly removed his hand and looked at him. "He's just showing concern and you're being a possessive weirdo."
Sanji turned his attention back to the woman before him and gave her a soft smile. “My condolences. It’s never easy losing family.” He gave a slight bow. “I know it’s not my place. But I’m sure they’d rather see you smile at the memories you have of them.” He glanced at the man who she had yelled at and narrowed his eyes again. “Any man who makes a woman cry is pathetic. If you care about a woman it’s a mans job to always help her smile. No matter the circumstance.” He turned his attention back to the girl before him with a soft sigh before smiling once more. “I apologize. I do have to take my leave. I’m worried that my friend might cause trouble if we leave him alone for too long.” He gave a small bow before gently taking her hand and kissing it before giving a slight wave. “A smile better suits a beauty like you miss.” He winked before heading off to find out if Luffy was still at that restaurant.
Ora smiled slightly and nodded in agreement about the happy memories comment. When he told off Kiever she covered her mouth to hide her laughter. "Thank you," she said just before the man walked away. "What a gentleman."
"Is that what that was," Kiever asked, a sour look on his face.
"Oh you're just mad that he told you off for making me cry." She laughed a little then started heading towards the graves. "Come on grumpy."
Kiever waited until the other man was out of sight then followed after Ora. "Spill it, what did you take?"
"Take? I didn't take anything," she replied.
"I know you. You took something."
Ora held up get hand to reveal a gold lighter. "Fine I took this but it's not like he'll notice." Of course she knew that he would, because she almost took his cigarettes too.
As Sanji reached the cafe he heard slight yelling coming from inside. “Dammit Luffy…”
“More meat!” Luffy cheered.
“Sir you’ve already eaten over half of what we had…”
“But are you even tasting it?”
“Luffy…” Sanji walked in and sighed softly before grabbing the rubber mans collar. He took money out of his wallet and set it down on the table. “I’m sorry about him. He’s a bittomless pit.”
“T-Thank you Sir!”
Sanji nodded before dragging his captain out of the restaurant listening to Luffy whine the whole time. “Shut it Luffy.” As he dragged his captain he set him down for a moment and went to light his cigarette when he noticed his lighter was gone and he groaned. “Dammit… I must have dropped it…”
"Dropped what," Luffy asked when he was done pouting about being dragged out.
"You can't keep doing that," Kiever lectured.
"You're right," Ora nodded, "I'll just go return it to him." The moment she turned to go back, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back. "What?"
"Just leave it."
"What? Right here? No way. This thing looks expensive. I'm not leaving it where some random person could take it."
"Ora, you took it."
"I took it before I knew what it looked like. Honestly I'm surprised he didn't feel me going through his pockets." She looked the lighter over, examining the details and golden color. From what she could tell it was very well taken care of. [I I wonder where he got it.] Wanting to test it out, she pulled out a cigarette of her own and used the lighter to light it. "Huh, it's easier to use than mine."
"Are you going to keep staring at the lighter or are we going to eat?"
Ora had been looking at the lighter for so long she hadn't even noticed they had arrived at the graves. "Oh."
"Lady Lucille," someone called as they ran up to Lucille, "Your father wishes you to return home."
After Ora and Kiever had lunch, paid their respects to Ora's family, they made one final stop. It was the ruins of the burned down home Ora and her family had stayed in eleven years ago. She had mixed feelings about being there and ultimately ended up running off again, upset. However this time she made sure to avoid populated areas. After calming down she decided to do what she had originally planned, she that was to sneak into the Straw Hats' ship and ask for their help.
Upon arriving, she asked those at the docks if anyone has returned to the ship. Each response she got was a no. Relieved, she took the opportunity to sneak onboard. From what she could tell, there were several places she could hide. Ultimately though, she chose the kitchen, it being one of the most obvious spots that they'd go upon arriving back.
"They must really be enjoying themselves on the island," she muttered to herself as she sat at the table. There were several times when she'd pace around while she waited. After a while, she heard some talking and stopped pacing, eyes on the door.
"This place is amazing," Usopp said as he sat down the boxes of items he and Chopper had purchased during the day.
"I'll say," Nami agreed, "There are clothes here I haven't seen anywhere else. Not even in fashion magazines."
"And they're well made," Robin pointed out.
Chopper was about to make a comment about what he'd experienced but stopped. He picked up a scent that was unfamiliar to him. "There's someone here."
"What do you mean? I'm only picking up Eyebrows' cigarettes," Zoro commented, though he has his hand on his swords just in case.
"There's a sweeter scent mixed with it," Chopper said. "It's sweet and fruity, Sanji smells like spices." He started walking towards the kitchen where he felt the scent got stronger.
Zoro moved in front of him and drew his swords. He kicked the door open and his swords were blocked by a woman holding a kunai. He scowled and moved, ready to pin the woman again only for him to be blocked once more. "What the.."
"I'm not here to fight," the woman said coldly, "but I do need your help if you're willing to listen."
Sanji and Luffy made it back to the ship only to see everyone staring towards the kitchen. "Huh? What's going on?" He hopped on board with Luffy and headed up to see Zoro's sword clashing with someone else. "Really? Fighting in the kitchen Mosshead." He muttered before he saw the familiar hair. "Wait, you're the woman from before." He heard that she needed their help and he raised his eyebrow. "Mosshead. Let her talk. I ran into her earlier. She could have caught me off guard then if she was here for our bounties."
"Don't get me wrong, a collective bounty of 3,161,000,100 beli is nice but I couldn't care less about money," Ora said as she pushed Zoro back. Then she held up her hands as if in surrender.
Zoro narrowed his eye, "How do we know we can trust you?"
"You don't." She dug through her pocket for Sanji's lighter and tossed it to him. "Think you're missing this. Would've thought you'd feel someone else's hand in your pockets though."
"He probably was distracted," Nami sighed.
"You," Nami, Usopp, and Zoro said in unison. This resulted in a laugh from Ora.
"So what do you want," Zoro asked as he put his swords away. It seemed everyone was curious on what she had to say so they all moved towards the table to sit.
Once everyone was seated, Ora turned to them and let out a deep breath. "Okay so this is probably going to sound insane but I promise I'm not crazy. People go missing on this island all the time. They come here for vacation or the festival and some of not entire groups, don't leave."
"So they decide to stay," Usopp pointed out, "No big deal."
"That's just it, they don't. After they arrive, they can be seen around the island for the first few days of their trip then they are never seen again. They don't leave. They don't live here. They're just gone."
"What do you mean," Robin asked, wanting more information.
"I've got it all noted here." Ora took out her notebook and handed it to Robin. Then she continued explaining all the weird things she'd seen. The families that couldn't decide if they wanted to stay longer to find their missing members. How some of the islanders seemed to act weird or on edge. "It's not right."
Sanji caught his lighter and smirked. "Well good to know I didn't drop it." He sat beside Robin at the table as the woman spoke. The more she spoke about the situation the more his brow furrowed. "Kidnapping?" He murmured before looking over the notebook that Robin was looking through. "What made you notice this to begin with?" He asked curiously as the notebook got passed around.
Sanji couldn't tell if this woman was right or if she was just lost. He went to say something then heard Luffy speak up.
"Give us a few days to think it over."
Everyone turned their head to their captain. "Luffy?"
"That party festival thing is in a few days right? Sounds to me like a good distraction to find out what people are on the island. So people would go missing right?"
Everyone blinked in surprise.
[i That was... oddly smart despite coming from Luffy...] Sanji thought. "He makes a good point. A free party with all you can eat food and alcohol. Seems like the perfect way to get people to let loose and if kidnappings are happening it seems like the perfect place for a few people to get taken without anyone really noticing because most people will be too busy drinking or having fun."
"Why are we in here," Nami asked as she took the notebook from Robin. She frowned at the detailed notes on what they were wearing, when they arrived, and which direction they'd gone off to.
"Because you could go missing too," Ora explained. It was clear she was still battling herself on what she remembered and didn't but she tried to focus. "There are more than just that one notebook. They go back eleven years."
"Why eleven," Franky asked, confused.
"Thats when I first came here. And then..." She trailed off a moment then shook her head, "My family. I don't remember."
Usopp watched as the woman had a minor mental break and turned to Luffy. Though it was obvious the rubber man had made up his mind, he was still unsure. "She doesn't seem all there," he whispered to his captain and friend.
"You said you have more of these," Robin asked, gesturing to the notebook.
"Yes," Ora nodded.
"Cam we see them?"
Ora hesitated, but then she nodded. "Pick them up in the morning. I'll forge an order form so it doesn't look suspicious that you're picking up cargo even though you just got here." She looked at Sanji, "Sorry for stealing your lighter." Then she looked at Luffy, "And thank you for at least considering helping." It wasn't the yes that she was looking for, but it was progress. "I should go. Sorry for taking up your time and breaking onto your ship."
Sanji chuckled softly when she apologized for stealing his lighter. "Trust me, it happens more than it should. Don't worry about it."
When she thanked Luffy he nodded. "If something is up. We will help." He spoke ignoring Usopp's statement.
As she was about to leave Sanji reached out gently. "Wait, Miss you didn't tell us your name."
When Lucille got back to the manor she knocked on the door of her father's study. "Papa? You requested I return to the manor is everything alright?" She went to open the door and heard something slam on her father's desk.
"Lucille! Did I permit you to enter?" He asked coldly.
"N-No, Papa. I'm sorry... I thought that..."
"Thought that you could just be rude like a commoner and go wherever you please? I only asked for you to return because I don't like you spending too much time in town other than for the festival... You'll become like them..."
"Y-Yes Papa..." Lucille sighed softly before bowing. "Ex-Excuse me..." She closed the door before heading back to her room.
Ora stopped and looked at them, "Oriana, but most people just call me Ora." She gave Sanji a small smile, waved to the rest of the crew, then walked out the door. There was no need for them to introduce themselves as she already knew who they were. Upon leaving the ship she was greeted with Kiever, who once again, did not look happy. "What?"
"I thought I told you not to go on that ship," Kiever said.
"I'm grown woman Kiever, I can do what I want."
"You could have gotten hurt."
"Says the man that lectured me this morning about scaring off his workers. The same man that said I could go head to head easily with a pirate or a marine. I'm not fragile and I can take care of myself."
"What would your parents think," Kiever asked, knowing full well asking that question was cross into dangerous territory, The next thing he knew, there was a hard slap across his face. Of course she didn't answer him, she never did when he asked that question. She would simply walk away, which is exactly what she did.
"Are we really going to help her," Chopper asked.
"She didn't seem like she was all there. A bit crazy," Nami added.
"Sanji," Robin looked at the cook, "You said you ran into her earlier. Was she like that then? Was anyone with her?"
Sanji watched as the woman left then the crew began chatting among themselves about the situation. When Robin directed a question to him he thought for a moment. "Well, her cheeks looked like she had been crying. There was a blonde guy with piercings with her. Said he was her friend... I didn't really care for his attitude towards her... But other than being upset she thanked me for worrying about her but then went to visit her parents grave." He shrugged slightly. "Besides... even if we didn't want to help. We follow our Captain. And he said he'd decide during the festival. So we just have to wait and see if we see for ourselves if something strange is happening here."
"Blond guy with piercings," Zoro raised a brow, "I saw him earlier. He was talking to someone, a woman with black and white hair. Looked serious and they were trying to be discrete." He had to admit, he was a bit concerned for Ora, based on her behavior earlier when asked certain questions. "Even if Luffy decides not to intervene with what's going on here, might be good to look into Ora and that guy."
"Or we could just leave it alone," Nami pointed out. "Just because Sanji didn't like how he acted towards her doesn't mean anything is going on with them. That could just be the relationship they have."
Sanji sighed softly. "Nami... I don't know how to explain it... He just... seemed suspicious." He scratched the back of his head and shrugged. "Regardless, its up to Luffy. So just keep your eyes peeled until the festival. It's all we really can do."
Robin nodded. "And when I get the other journals from her I'll look those over to see what I can gather of the situation."
Lucille sat on her bed in her room and looked at the only picture she had left of her mother. She sighed softly before falling back on her bed. "Mom... I miss you..."
"Every man that treats a woman poorly is suspicious to you," Zoro remarked.
"Eleven years of journals," Chopper began, "Why wait eleven years to ask for help?"
"Thats why it doesn't add up," Nami replied. "She could have sought out help long before we got here. With how she stood against Zoro, she probably could have done something on her own if she really wanted to. And why not seek out the government for help? Even if this is a neutral island, something like people going missing is sure to warrant investigation at the least."
"Maybe she was waiting for someone who could do something," Usopp suggested. "Or she tried but no one believed her."
"Based on her behavior," Zoro leaned back in his chair, "I can see why they wouldn't."
By the next morning, Ora was sitting at the docks on a large crate. Inside the crate were all the journals she'd kept over the years of everyone that had ever arrived on the island, who had left, and who hadn't. Each one detailing where the missing person was last seen and how their families acted upon departure. As there was eleven years worth of journals, a large crate was the only thing that would fit them.
In one hand, she had a clipboard with a cargo delivery order waiting to be signed. In the other, was a lit cigarette that looked like it had been forgotten. She'd been staring at the ship for a while, waiting for someone to pick up the crate. [i Do these guys always sleep in or what? I need to have this thing delivered before Kiever shows up.] After last night she didn't want to deal with Kiever. "Asshole."
Robin woke up early and headed off the ship down to the docks. She saw Ora waiting with a large crate. "Ah, perfect the books I ordered." She approached the woman with a kind smile. She spoke in a soft tone. "The captain will give you your answer the morning after the festival." Before she signed the clipboard and lifted the crate. "I'd best get reading." She smiled softly.
A few days passed and finally it was the day of the festival. Lucille smiled as she got in her long sleeveless dark green dress with a slit up the side. "I hope it's as good as last years." She nodded before styling her hair and doing her makeup. Once she was done she headed down to the square excited to see the final preparations that they make in the morning of the festival.
Robin had spent the last few days reading through all of the journals and all of them had similar tones. The families who had family members go missing looked emotionless as they left. Drained almost. [i What is happening on this island...] She wondered to herself when Nami came into the library and sighed. "Robin, you've read enough. Come on we need to get ready."
Ora hadn't talked to any of the Straw Hats since she gave them her journals. Of course she had seen them around town but chose not to interact with them. Part of it was because she knew Kiever was watching but also because she wanted to give them time to consider her request. So she continued on with her life, kept taking notes on the people arriving on the island and who didn't leave. It was business as usual. However today was different, it was the day of the festival. A day she knew she would have to be more attentive.
However in true festival spirit, she dressed up. She wore a short, off the shoulder, light pink ruffled dress and had lightly curled her short hair, just enough so there was a bit of a wave to it. Rather than her usual nude lip color, she opted for a bold red, similar to the color of her hair. And for shoes, a pair of strappy wedge sandals. Upon leaving her small home, she was greeted by Kiever, who donned a more conservative outfit as opposed to his usual crop top. The color scheme remained the same, light blue jacket, white pants, and a black shirt.
"Ready," he asked as he held his arm out for her.
"This isn't a date," Ora said bitterly as she took his arm.
"No, but last I checked it wasn't against the law to escort a friend to a festival."
"Its not but I'm still mad at you."
"I said I was sorry."
"You're always sorry and then you bring it up again during the next argument."
"Lets just go before I change my mind."
Zoro made a face at the outfit Nami had chosen for him. She'd insisted that they actually dress up for the festival. Something about blending in and actually taking part. "I'm not wearing a tie," he said as he looked at the long piece of fabric waiting for him.
Nami narrowed her eyes before a devilish smirk appeared on her lips. “You say that as if you have a choice.” She grabbed the tie and quickly put it on him leaving the tie slightly looser than Sanji would leave his. “There. See you can look nice if you try.”
Sanji was wearing one of his white suits with the pink shirt and black tie. He looked himself in the mirror and slicked his hair back a bit and nodded. “Hopefully I can get a few dances in tonight.”
Luffy had been wearing a red dress shirt with black dress pants and a blue tie. He whined for a little bit but gave up once he thought about Ora again. “We have to keep an eye out.” He mumbled.
When Lucille made it into town she clasped her hands together and smiled. “It looks beautiful…” She smiled softly. “I hope everyone enjoys themselves…”
Upon arriving at the festival, Ora looked around. She noticed the locals that were assigned to be security, though they looked like they were taking their job a bit too seriously. She noticed Lucille walking around looking everything over, with a bodyguard trailing close behind. "I'm surprised she's even out."
"She's the face of the festival," Kiever commented, "Of course she'd be here."
"Right, of course. Can't forget to make sure everyone knows who she is."
"You're such a cynic."
"I'm human," Ora defended, not wanting to bring up her suspicions again.
"Behave yourself tonight. No conspiracy theories, okay?"
"Oh I can't bring it up but you can? What a hypocrite."
Zoro loosened the tie a bit more after Nami had forced it onto him. "What're we looking for exactly?"
"Suspicious activity. People quickly being taken away," Nami replied as she adjusted Luffy's tie a little. She looked over to Usopp who had opted for a pair of dark green pants and a simple white dress shirt. "See, even Usopp dressed up "
"Why aren't you making him wear a tie," Zoro asked.
"How about a first dance," Kiever suggested. He knew she wasn't one for dancing, sure also didn't like the festival, but he had to distract her from being overly attentive this evening.
"You know I don't like to dance," Ora replied.
"I know but it'll help you loosen up."
"Are you saying I'm tense?"
"I'm saying you're starting to resemble a tree."
Ora raised a brow at the subtle insult. She took a deep breath, ready to respond harshly. However she quickly changed her demeanor upon noticing Lucille walking their way. "Hello Lady Lucille," she greeted.
"But don't make it obvious," Robin added as they started to leave the Sunny. "Keep an eye out for Ora too."
"Why," Franky asked.
"Because she might notice something we don't," Luffy replied.
Lucille heard her name and smiled as she walked over to Oriana. She hadn’t really spoke to the woman often but she did know of her due to Kiever. “Ah, good evening Oriana, Kiever.” She bowed slightly. “There are snacks currently out but the alcohol and larger appetizers won’t be out until later.” She smiled at Oriana, happy that she actually greeted her. [i Oh… her hair… I’m so silly… it was Oriana who ran past me yesterday.] “I hope you enjoy the festival. I’m sorry I have to go check on other last minute preparations.” She gave a small wave before she started to walk away only to notice a familiar face. “Oh good it looks like Luffy and his friends made it.” She gave a small wave to him.
Luffy looked serious as they reached the festival but when he saw the familiar face he grinned and waved. “Hey! It’s Cecilia!”
Lucille heard what he called her and chuckled softly. “Close, Lucille.” She walked closer and greeted them giving the same small speech that she gave to Kiever and Oriana. “I hope you all enjoy yourselves.”
Kiever saw the look on Ora's face at the mention of alcohol and shook his head. "Stay away from it," he warned.
"Why," Ora asked with a frown.
"Because you need to be sober."
"You always drink at the festival. Just try to enjoy it sober for once."
"You're oddly controlling tonight." She looked around for an area not so populated she started walking towards it.
"Where are you going?"
"To smoke, away from everyone." She waved him off and went to go sit down, immediately pulling a cigarette out after. Upon lighting it, she took a long drag and sighed. "This is a bad idea," she muttered.
"Smoking is bad for you," a man commented as he approached Ora. "Why don't you put that out and come dance with me? Better than a pretty little thing like you sitting alone."
"Oh hunny don't be like that," the man said as he stepped closer. "You seem to be the only one not having fun. How about a drink instead?"
"Still not interested," she replied, finally looking up at him. "You can go."
"What makes you think you can reject me," the man hissed as he reached for her.
Kiever appeared behind the man and grabbed his collar. "I believe she said she wasn't interested. Let's go," he said as he dragged the man away, not bothering to look at Ora.
Ora watched as the man got dragged away. Once they were out of sight after looked around and spotted the Straw Hats in various places enjoying themselves. Zoro was looking around for a drink, Nami and Robin were being flirted with by a group of guys. Usopp, Chopper, and Franky were checking out the games and stalls. Luffy was sampling the food and Sanji, well, she couldn't find him. "Hm, odd."
Nami and Robin sighed softly as they kept trying so decline advances only to have more men show up. “Excuse us.” Robin spoke trying to keep her eyes on her crew mates but also tried to walk past the men to go to one of the men in the crew.
One man grabbed her wrist with a twisted smirk. “Just because you have a pretty face and a rockin body makes you think you’re better than us. Heh, I can’t wait to teach you a lesson.”
Robin went to retort something when she saw two men trying to take Nami down an alley. “Nami!”
Sanji sighed softly as he put out his cigarette. “That’s not a way to treat a lady.” He narrowed his eyes at the men who were dragging Nami down the alley and quickly slammed one into the wall and when the other one was startled Nami turned and dug her heel into his manhood causing him to crumble in pain. Sanji led Nami back out of the alley and sent a warning look to the man who grabbed Robin and he immediately let go running away to grab his buddies. Sanji sighed softly. “Considering you two were targetted… I’d have to say the suspicions of Oriana might be correct. Come on… we should fine the others. It may not be wise to split up right now.”
Ora quickly put out her cigarette when she heard some commotion. She got to and headed in the direction of the noise and saw Sanji with Nami and Robin. Going against her better judgment, she approached them. "What happened?" She looked passed the trio towards the alley where some men had gathered. [I Of course it would be them.]
"They tried to take Nami," Robin explained.
"Those idiots work on the docks." She sighed and pointed towards the stalls. "You'll find three of your crewmates over there. I saw Luffy trying out foods and I believe Zoro is trying to find where they have the alcohol."
"You mean you work with them," Nami asked a bit in shock.
"What's going on here," Kiever asked as he walked up behind Ora. "I thought I told you to stay away from them."
"I was just making sure they were okay," Ora defended. "Some of [I your] workers decided to get handsy and tried to kidnap them."
"What? No that's not right."
"But it is," Robin pointed out.
"They aren't on the clock so I can't do anything," Kiever said. Truth was, he couldn't do anything because even if they were dock workers, they were also the ones that take part in taking people. So there wasn't anything he could do.
"Then I'll deal with them." Ora pushed by Kiever and started walking over to them. The only thing that stopped her was Kiever grabbing her upper arm and pulling her back. "Let me go."
"Leave it alone Oriana," he warned. Then he looked at Sanji and the girls, "I'm glad you're okay but we'll be taking our leave."
Sanji’s eyes narrowed at the man. He grabbed him by the arm clearly pissed off. “She said let her go.” He spoke in a warning tone. This guy didn’t sit well with Sanji. “She’s not a doll that you can drag around as you fucking please.”
Nami noticed the tone in Sanji’s voice. And while he did always get defensive when it came to someone harming a woman something felt different. She hadn’t seen him this irritated before.
Ora looked at the two men, almost in shock that someone would stand up to Kiever and how he treated her. She felt his grip tighten on her arm and winced a little. After a moment his grip released and her arm dropped to her side, but she still watched them.
"She can't be left alone for too long," Kiever defended, "Have you heard her talk? She's crazy."
That was the first time he'd ever outright called her crazy. It felt like a slap in the face to Ora, and as a result, she stepped back a little. This didn't go unnoticed by Nami and Robin who looked at her with concern. Of course they'd seen firsthand that she wasn't all the, but they were beginning to suspect this man was behind it.
As soon as the man started calling Oriana crazy he saw the look on her face and Sanji felt his blood begin to boil. “You must think so highly of yourself. Big strong man. Forcing a woman to do shit just because you feel like you can. You don’t give a rats ass about her. Otherwise you wouldn’t treat her like shit.” When Oriana spoke up and said it was okay he sighed. “Oriana. No it’s not. You aren’t crazy. I promise.” He took a step forward putting himself between Oriana and Kiever. “I suggest you go find someone else to spend the festival with. Because quite frankly I’m not about to let you continue ruining her night.” He spoke it as if it was a suggestion. But the tone behind his words made it almost sound more like a threat.
Nami took a step forward as well as Robin they both looked over Oriana.
“Are you alright Oriana?” Nami asked looking her over mainly looking at where Kiever had been holding her arm.
Kiever looked at Ora waiting for her to say something but when she didn't he let out an annoyed sigh. He wasn't used to anyone coming to her defense. Of course she could handle herself in a physical fight but no one really got in between them when it came to arguments. "Fine," he said coldly, not taking his eyes off Ora, "She's your problem."
When he walked away, Ora released a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. She was sure the two men would come to blows at the very least. "I'm okay," she replied as she glanced at her arm. There was a faint but of bruising but the ruffles on the sleeves if her dress covered it. "You really didn't have to do that."
"Does he always treat you like that," Robin asked.
"Only when I bring up the missing people. He doesn't like it and things it's don't big conspiracy theory."
Sanji shook his head. “I can’t stand men like that.”
Nami chuckled. “You can’t stand most men Sanji.”
Sanji shrugged before looking at Oriana. “Despite the circumstances. At least it won’t be strange if you stop by the ship after the party is over since you’ll be hanging out with us most of the night.”
Lucille hadn’t even known that there was an altercation because her guard made sure to steer her in the opposite direction each time. There were several other men and women working with the ones who did the kidnapping but some were there for distractions. Mainly so the Lord’s daughter could never catch sight of what was happening during the event she planned every year.
"It wouldn't have been strange anyway. Most people don't care what I do. Kiever is the only one who tries to keep me from doing anything today could draw attention." Ora shrugged and looked at Sanji, "You really didn't have to go that far though."
"Are you really okay with Kiever testing you like that," Nami asked.
"Well no, but it's been like this since we became friends so I just thought it was normal."
"It's not," Robin pointed out.
"Oh." Before she could say anything else, Usopp, Chopper, and Franky joined them.
"We noticed the altercation between Sanji and that earring guy," Usopp began, "What happened?" He looked at Ora then to Sanji, "Did you pick a fight over a girl?"
Sanji shrugged. “He was treating her like an object.”
Lucille watched over the party seeing smiling faces and people enjoying themselves. As Kiever came into view her guard quickly turned her attention to himself so she wouldn’t see how angry Kiever looked. “Lady Lucille should we go check to see if more refreshments need to be brought out from storage?”
Lucille looked at her guard and nodded. “Yes of course. Thank you Elner.”
"You can't pick fights with every guy who does that." Usopp sighed and looked at Ora who seemed to be looking around. "What?"
"Huh? Nothing." Ora kept looking around trying to see if anything was off. She spotted Kiever, it seemed he was talking to a woman with black and white hair. "I'm really okay though, you didn't have to go that far with him."
"Isn't that the woman Zoro said he said her talking to yesterday," Chopper asked when he saw what Ora had been looking at.
"He talked to her before," Ora asked with a frown. "Where's Zoro? I want to know what he saw."
"We'll find him," Nami said, "Just stay with Robin and Sanji."
"Do these refreshments include sake," Zoro asked, overhearing the conversation.
Lucille turned around upon hearing a question and smiled softly with a nod. “Yes, of course. Was there not any left at the bar?” She asked curiously before tapping her chin. “If that’s the case we’d better hurry up.” She gave the man another quick smile before rushing towards the bar. [i He looked familiar… i think he may have been one of Luffy’s friends.]
When she reached the bar she took note of what needed to be restocked and rushed off to the store room. “Okay, so the bar needs sake, cider, wine and juice.” She hadn’t even looked to see if her guard had followed her.
The guard looked at Zoro and narrowed his eyes trying to place him before realizing that Lucille had run off. “Crap! Lady Lucille!” He rushed after her in the direction he thought she went in.
Sanji gave Oriana a soft smile. “I know Oriana. I know I didn’t have to do anything. But that just not how I operate.”
Nami gently put her hand on Oriana’s shoulder. “Sanji has his reasons why he butts into affairs that don’t have anything to do with him.”
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