Shivered Timbers
by Kaline Reine

Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece or any of the characters/settings. This is just a fanfiction story. I do own Shiori, she is my character. I also own a few other original characters in this story (not affiliated with One Piece), which will be introduced as they are needed. c;

WARNINGS: This story contains (or may contain) graphic adult content and language, explicit sex scenes, possible violence, cursing, adult themes, etc. I do not censor my writing, but I do my best to warn people about the subject matter and potential subject matter. So if you don't like that kind of thing or can't handle it, then I suggest not reading this story. You have been warned. Also, I know this doesn't follow canon but it doesn't have to, that's why it's a fanfic. xD

Also... The beautiful cover image for this story is by my friend, EzariaUmiko on DeviantArt. All credit for the image goes to her. c:

Chapter 2: Subhuman Soliloquy

Shiori looked all around her. She watched the light snow that was drifting down from the vast blue sky, with wonder behind her eyes. There was a fragile innocence in the way she played, while traipsing through the snow. Faint giggles escaped her, on occasion. She ran her hands over branches and underbrush along the path, and watched the clean white powder fall away onto the ground.

Had any onlookers been nearby, they would have certainly not seen her behaving that way. She almost never did things like this when anyone else was around. Right now, the small child was enjoying her momentary solitude immensely. She'd been assigned the chore of collecting delicious red berries to help out the Monastery with food. Mostly it was a task designed to keep her busy, and although she was small, she knew that. But the little girl had done as she was told anyway... She was always eager for the chance to be alone.

Wearing a pure white cloak over her habit and a small pair of black boots, Shiori made her way to the edge of a large clearing. She was carrying a large basket made of white wicker that actually looked very large and cumbersome for someone her age. A sudden movement caught her eye and she glanced sharply upward. There was something in a tree up ahead...

When she got closer, she realized that a large barn owl was roosting on a low-hanging branch. She was very quiet, so as not to disturb it... It was still high above her head. For some reason, a wide smile spread across her face before she could stop it. It felt like she was melting, but in reverse... It was warm and fuzzy and nice.

Shiori noticed that it stood in the path between her and the bushes where she knew the berries grew. She walked past it as silently as she could, cringing at the way the ice crunched softly beneath her boots. They were specially designed for the heavy snow that usually fell in this region. They were slip-resistant, but that also made them considerably more noisy. They usually came in darker colors, mostly so they could tell for certain how deep the snow was getting, not that she needed to make use of it at this particular moment. She knew the path very well. The other Nuns had shown her many times and they traveled this way a lot. It was in the safe part of the forest, not too far from the Monastery.

The child made it to her destination, and began hurriedly picking the small crop from the underbrush. There were many of these types of bushes around, but only certain kinds of berries were safe to eat. The Nuns at the Monastery had shown her which ones were safe and which ones were not... She'd mostly learned from Ruhi, their medic.

She did the tedious work without complaint. At first, she tried counting the berries in her head as she put them into the basket, but she got bored of that when she lost count. Soon enough, the basket was full. Well, it wasn't completely full, only a little more than halfway, but she'd already stripped the bushes nearly bare. She would have to leave a little there for next time.

"Shiori? Shiori-chan?" A familiar voice called her name. "Are you out here? Are you alright?"

"Michi-san! You scared me!" Shiori looked surprised, and then suddenly dull. The light had left her eyes, and she began to grow rigid. She was tense, now that she was in the presence of another person... "I'm okay... Was just on my way back. Why'd you follow me here?"

"You were taking way too long. We were worried sick about you! You've been out here all day! And I didn't follow you! I came to get you, I mean, I can't seriously believe th-"

At that point, the child seemed to shut her out. Her unusual light rose-colored eyes grew glossy, and her lower lip began to quiver. Was she seriously about to cry? Michiko instantly felt bad for scolding her.

"Listen, I'm sorry for yelling at you like that," She sighed, taking her hand to show the child that she wasn't angry. Michiko knelt down and smoothed her silky white bangs out of her face. "You did a good job gathering all these berries. Let's just go back to the Monastery, huh?" She gently pulled her in the direction she'd just come from.

"Okay Michiko-san..." Shiori sniffled.

She made sure not to drop the basket she was carrying. It was small for an adult, but it contrasted with her tiny frame and looked very big by comparison when she carried it around. While holding the older Nun's hand for safety, she noticed that there was a problem. She tried to make sure she held it steady, but the basket was proving too much for her, when she held it with only one hand.

"Oh!" She cried, as a torrent of tiny red spheres spilled all around them.

Several wood mice were out of their burrows and after them in no time. They seemed to appreciate the free meal. They'd begun stuffing their cheeks full, racing against the child's nimble fingers as she tried to pick up her spilled goods before they all got eaten. Michiko was on the ground helping her too. Shiori's hair was so long in the back that it trailed along the ground when she leaned over. The older woman then began shaking the bits of frost from her locks from time to time, while still trying to help her pick up all the berries.

There was no sound, but she sensed a presence behind her. Shiori turned just in time to see the big snowy white barn owl swoop down from the trees. It landed right near them, and aggressively scooped up one of the wood mice with it's talons. It turned to look at them, blinking a few times.

"I guess you're hungry too..." She told it, holding out a handful of berries toward it. "Here you go."

"Are you crazy?!" Michiko hissed. "Don't feed that mite-infested thing! It's disgusting."

The owl screeched at her once, before getting up and flying off. But not without leaving it's droppings directly in Michiko's hair, as it flew overhead. It soared away, majestic, as if mocking the soiled maiden it had just left in it's wake.

The emerald-eyed beauty was fuming... She hadn't even wanted to come out here in the first place, but Chiaki had insisted on it. She was worried when Shiori hadn't returned in what she felt was an appropriate length of time. It was like her Aunt had separation anxiety or something... She always made such a fuss over Shiori.

While she did understand that they had taken her in as one of their own, and she knew that the child was different from other people, she still didn't understand why they had to take so many extra precautions. The young girl had become well-known at their Monastery, where she was hailed as a mythical child of prophecy, but outsiders still knew nothing about her. They'd taken many journeys back and forth from Drum Kingdom over the past few years, and yet no one seemed to have reported any children missing in the vicinity.

Shortly after they'd taken her in, as she grew, they'd learned that Shiori had albinism, a rare birth defect that caused her hair to have no pigment. It appeared white most of the time, but Michiko had noticed that it also had these soft, faint bluish-purple undertones that lent it an almost periwinkle sort of hue, in the right light... It stood out in stark contrast, against her rose colored eyes. They'd darkened from the baby blue color they'd been when she'd first arrived and were now a light faded red.

That condition explained her strange coloration, but it did little to explain her antics with the very snow itself. It appeared that she could control the falling snow around her, bending it to her every whim. They'd even seen her conjure snowflakes out of thin air, on several occasions. Sometimes it appeared to be coming from her own body.

The Nuns had known the moment they witnessed it that they apparently had a Valkyrie on their hands; a mythical being of legend that could control the elements. Shiori had been labeled a Snow Valkyrie by the Monastery. They still believed in old fables and legends like that. Michiko, however, was less than convinced. For all she knew, they might very well have a demon in their midst. But she still cared about her, in her own way. Thw two had grown close, like sisters.

Shiori didn't act like a normal child at all. She seemed so happy whenever it snowed and she loved the cold. It never seemed to bother her, due to her body temperature naturally being lower than most. She never seemed to get cold but when the temperature was right outside, she would sometimes complain of it being too warm. And yet, they always made sure that she was protected from the elements, just in case.

The child had been named by the Elder, after the pure white snow, they gave her the name Shiori, meaning 'white'. And as she grew, it stuck, especially whenever she chose to show off her powers. She wasn't very good at controlling them yet and still had a lot to learn. Michiko wasn't the only one who had noticed that she was very quiet and almost never talked... Yet she seemed to be curious about odd things. And the things that mattered to most people didn't seem to matter to her at all.

Sometimes it irritated her. Sometimes it was just too much.

"You look so silly, Michi-chan!" The little girl giggled, noticing the owl excrement that clung to her brown hair.

"Yeah, yeah..." She sighed bitterly. This situation was hopeless. "Let's just go home..."

They began to walk back, leaving many of the berries behind in the snow.

Their order was supposed to represent balance, beauty, and light... But Michiko did not feel very beautiful today, nor did she feel balanced. Something had thrown her balance off. Something small, and white, and obnoxious...

Going in past the rest of her Sisters with her head hung in shame on her way to the bath chamber had not been a pleasant experience. She wished they would all look away, but they continued to stare and murmur among themselves. Various bits of stifled laughter ensued. And she hated every second of it.

Shiori wasn't laughing. She just looked the same as they entered the enormous Monastery, very dull and emotionless. The child looked up at her Sister and didn't seem to understand why the others were looking at her like that. And then she remembered...

"Sister Michiko..." One of them called out. "Have you offended one of the forest's residents?"

"Shut. up." She told them, glaring at the group through gritted teeth. She slammed the door behind herself and continued on her way inside.

Michiko ignored them, taking Shiori upstairs to the Elder before she went for a shower. She had to ensure that her duty was completed before wandering off to do anything else. She wished she'd worn her veil when she'd gone out, but it was supposed to be a quick trip, so she'd left it behind.

"Are you back already?" Chiaki offered them both a warm smile. Her aging face showed a few more wrinkles than it had when Shiori had first come to stay with them, but she'd never lost her spunk.

"Already? Hah! What a laugh!" Michiko spat. "You're the one who sent me to get her because you were afraid when she didn't come back soon enough."

"Don't blame me for nature's follies, dear child..." Chiaki just clicked her tongue. "You look a right mess. You should go and clean up."

"What about me? What shall I do?" Shiori asked, not sure what to do with herself. She'd taken to Chiaki's own habit of fidgeting with her hands whenever she had nothing else to keep them busy.

"Shiori-chan, I've got an extra special task for you!" The old woman's face suddenly lit up, excitedly. "We're going to be baking some pies with these berries you picked. I need you to help me wash them and then we can start preparing the dough. If you take them to the kitchen, I should be with you momentarily."


She left to do as she'd been told. Shiori wasn't argumentative at all. At times, they wondered if they were really doing the right thing by keeping her here... She was unusual to the point that sometimes Chiaki found herself wondering whether the child was even fully human. But that was a silly thing to question, of course she wasn't. It was said that most Valkyries were highly unusual. She always felt guilty for feeling that way, but she knew how happy Shiori had been when they'd explained everything to her. She'd been so excited to discover the reason why she was so different from other people. But yet, she shared a lot of similarities too.

They'd never kept her status as a Valkyrie a secret from her. The Elder felt that they were probably just lucky she wasn't a totally spoiled selfish little brat, at this point. She certainly got special treatment around the entire Monastery. All of the other Nuns revered her and they held her safety above all else.

They weren't traditional Nuns, to begin with. They were a special order dedicated to following the Cat Goddess, Kalaya, who was said to be in charge of all things supernatural, mysterious, and ethereal. They'd taken her in and shown her all the ways of their order. They were very accepting. But there was something more to it than that. These were fighting Nuns. And as such, the Monastery had an entire school dedicated to their teachings in the art of a special fighting style known as Baransu Jujitsu, otherwise known as a type of Balance Jutsu.

Shiori had always been so excited to learn about it... And her first day of training was tomorrow. She'd been unable to keep still all day and her nervous habits had kicked into overdrive. She was driving everyone crazy! That was originally the reason Chiaki, in her infinite wisdom, had sent her out into the forest to pick berries. But when she still hadn't returned after several hours, she'd decided to send Michiko to check on her.

Shiori watched the younger of the two Nuns go to clean herself up. She would most likely want a shower, which would mean she'd have to wait for the water to warm up. It took a while, given the circumstances, but it was worth the wait. Shiori was in the kitchen a moment later, waiting for Chiaki to join her.

"First thing's first," The Elder pointed her in the right direction. "We'll need to gather the ingredients and some cooking utensils. Can you get the pots and pans out of the cupboard? And a bag of flour too? We'll also need measuring cups."

Shiori nodded and did as she'd been asked. She was always happy to do her part and pitch in, and normally did so without complaint. The two worked together to make several delicious pies. Within an hour, they were all in the big stone oven, baking. Chiaki had several other Nuns helping her with their actual dinner. This was usually done by the ones who specialized in cooking. The child worked quietly alongside them, never complaining or saying a single word unless she was spoken to.

While she was waiting for dinner, she wandered into the dining hall where everyone in their order would meet, say prayers, make offerings, and enjoy a small feast each night. It didn't take long for everyone to file into the large room. She noticed there were a lot of Nuns missing though. She shrugged it off. They were probably busy with other things. Shiori was already seated, with her head bowed. She did her very best to fit in around here, and to excel in everything. While she didn't always succeed, the others almost always took notice of her effort.

It made her smile when Michiko came back from her shower and sat down next to her at the table. Chiaki joined them too. Her place was at the head of the table. Everyone ate together, just like always. But there was something throwing off their rhythm. Yes, there was something unmistakably different about tonight. But Shiori was unable to put her finger on it...

Everyone was acting strange, yet somehow they made it through dinner without incident. There was a brief announcement made about the beginning of training for the youngest members of their order tomorrow. There were only a handful of them. Shiori had never cared much for being around other children. They treated her differently, she stuck out like a sore thumb, and always felt left out. The others knew what she was and had varying reactions to it. They ranged from fear, to pity, to disbelief, to contempt, to everything in between.

At last, some of the other Nuns brought the berry pies out and cut them for everyone. As soon as she was served hers, Shiori began to dig in. She had earned it, after all. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The pies had all turned out to be wildly delicious and decadent. They were almost too pretty to even eat... Almost! Some of the Nuns didn't seem to care for them very much, but it couldn't be helped.

"Chiaki-sama..." Shiori lightly tugged on the sleeve of the Elder's black habit, as soon as they were finished eating. "Will... Will you read me a story before bed?"

This was a common question that she asked nearly every single night. Usually, Chiaki would have been more than happy to comply with such a simple and lighthearted request. However, she couldn't tonight.

"I'm sorry," She shook her head, her silver waves of hair swaying back and forth like two long curtains. "I can't read to you tonight dear... Why don't you ask Michiko-tan if she can?"

"I'd be happy to." Michiko was quick to answer before Shiori had even asked her.

"But..." The child protested. "I don't want her to. I want you to read to me, just like always. Please?"

"I'm afraid this time I have little choice in the matter..." Her gray-green eyes seemed to grow distant all of a sudden, and she looked away. "I have many things that I must take care of this evening. Now clear your plate and wash up. It's almost bed time. I'll see you in the morning before you start your training. Goodnight. "

With that, the Elder was already up and walking away. It was difficult, but she had a lot of things to attend to. She couldn't bear herself to argue with anyone tonight, not even a child. Things had to be done, before they ran out of time. And it was so hard for her to say no to such a sweet child.

"Goodnight then..." Shiori whispered sullenly. She knew something wasn't right here.

Chiaki hurried off, to respond to the urgent letter that had arrived for her this morning. Michiko continued to put on a brave front as well. So many things were happening all at once... It was a challenge just to keep her composure during such a chaotic time.

She knew a little bit about what her Aunt was dealing with, but not all of the details of it. Apparently someone had requested their help and there was a possibility they might have to leave for a while. They'd been hoping that nothing like this would happen until Shiori had grown a bit more. When she was older, it would be much easier to explain everything. As things were, they might have to leave her behind for a while, as much as they hated to take such a risk. There was no need to worry about that just yet though.

She led the young girl up the stairs to her room. Michiko knew their nightly routine rather well, even though she didn't usually actively participate. She had done so a few times in Chiaki's absence, however, and tonight was no different. While she was waiting for Shiori to change clothes in the adjoining bathroom, she selected a book and took it from the shelf in her bedroom.

Shiori came in wearing her nightgown. It was light pink with lots of buttons and lace. It looked cute on her. She climbed right into bed and snuggled under the covers, getting comfortable. She then patted the spot next to her for Michiko to join her.

"...It's like she doesn't care about me at all." Shiori said, as soon as she sat down.

"Oh, don't be silly," Michiko chided. "Of course she cares about you! We all do, very much!"

"Then why is she too busy to read to me?"

"I'm reading to you. Doesn't that count for anything?" She was already taking out the book and opening past the table of contents and filler pages to get the actual content.

Shiori sighed. "I guess so... But Chiaki-sama usually does it."

'Poor thing...' The Nun thought. 'She must be so confused and frightened. It's already a scary time for her, with her first day of school being tomorrow.'

"I know," Michiko smoothed back her bangs and pulled the covers close over herself as well, as she sat leaning against the headboard. "This time it's me, is all. I promise I'll do the best I can."

"What book did you pick?" Bleak red eyes looked up at her curiously from the pillow.

"It's a story called 'Giant Knights of the Kingdom of Elbaf'. I've heard it's quite good."

"It sounds scary... Is it about fighting?"

"I promise it's not scary," Michiko turned the page and began skimming over it. Actually, it seemed like it was based on one of their actual fables. "Just give it a chance, okay?"

"Okay..." She squeaked, pulling the bed cover all the way up under her chin.

The older girl cleared her throat and began reading. "Once, there was an enormous giant. He was a fierce warrior and everyone in his Kingdom respected and revered him..."

She went on to read the rest of the story. Michiko did the best she could to imitate the same kinds of voices she'd head her Aunt use when reading before. Shiori seemed to like that. It didn't take long for her to become enthralled in the story. But it was a long book, and before she was even halfway through it, the child had already drifted off to sleep.

"Sweet dreams..." Michiko whispered, running her hand along Shiori's cheek on her way out.

She let her fingertips drift over her smooth skin, running across the single beauty mark that was just under her left eye. It was a shame they would have to put so much stress on one so young...

Shiori walked back to the main hall of the Monastery slowly, lost in thought. She'd just finished with her first class and it had been very eye-opening. She'd learned so many things in only a short time. It was a lot of information to pack into just one day. They'd only covered the basics, but it felt like a lot to her.

They'd taught her some the basic fighting stances she would need to know later on. And the Nun who was teaching them had gone into a lot of detail about what types of things they would eventually be expected to learn. They would be made to fight, and also trained to more flexible and agile... Their fighting form was a beautiful one, and when unleashed in battle, it had the ability to catch an opponent by surprise, mesmerize them, and then strike.

Fighting was something that Shiori already had a significantly good understanding of. Being born a Valkyrie, she was already adept at handling her powers somewhat efficiently. She loved to go on long walks through the forest, when she was allowed, and hone her skills. It was really the only time she got to have fun. She knew she still had lots she had to work on, and her movements were very clumsy, but she probably had more practice handling her ice powers than most of the other students had with any type of combat.

She'd also learned, first and foremost, about what it meant just to be here. Many of the other students had been sent away from their families so they could be a part of this mysterious order and learn their ways. Shiori herself didn't know what it was like to have a family to begin with. She felt like more of an outcast than ever. It was odd... She'd never felt that way before. All this time, she'd considered Chiaki and Michiko to be her family, only to be informed that they were not. It was so confusing.

"Hey Shiori-chan... So tell me, how'd it go?"

"You... You lied to me!" She shouted, the moment Michiko greeted her.

"I did no such thing," Michiko placed a hand upon her chest in shock. A gasp escaped her. "I would never lie to you. What happened? Didn't you have a good day at school?"

"I did," The young one sighed, sitting down on a nearby sofa and letting herself sink down into it. "Sort of. I learned a lot."

"Don't sit like that. It's unladylike."

She pointed an accusing finger at her caretaker. "You and Chiaki-sama are-"

"Oh, Shiori-tan!" The Elder walked into the room just after her name was spoken. "I was just looking for you. I have some exciting news..."

"What?" She blinked.

"Well... I hope this won't upset you, but I'm going to be leaving soon. I'm going away for a while."

"Go away?" The panic spreading across her small face was evident. "But why?"

Chiaki hesitated. She fidgeted with the two suitcases that were in her hands, placing them on the floor by her feet. Now came the hard part. "This isn't easy to say... But I have to go and lend my aide to some of the other Nuns who are on their way to Drum Kingdom as we speak. Michiko-tan has to join me soon as well. There's going to be a battle... And all of our strongest Nuns are needed in this battle."

"You mean a fight? Why?"

"Because there are people in Drum Kingdom who need our help. They're counting on us, and we cannot afford to let them down. Our Monastery does trading with them twice a year, in order to keep supplies coming in and make enough money to keep the Monastery going. They've requested our aide with something, they really need our help, and we cannot refuse them."

"I... think I understand." That was all she said for a moment. And then a minute later, she continued. "So that's why you've been so busy lately. We all have to go and help out any way we can. I'm ready... When do we leave?"

"Um..." Michiko interrupted. "It isn't like that, Shiori-chan..."

"What do you mean?"

"How do I put this...?" She scratched her head. She was beginning to sweat. This wasn't going to be nearly as easy as she'd thought it would. "I'm afraid you can't come with us."

"Why are you leaving me behind? I want to help too!" The little girl looked absolutely crestfallen. Shiori was devastated. This was a lot harder for her than she was letting on.

"It isn't safe where we're going," Chiaki had already decided that they would be honest with her. "And it's only your first day of training in Baransu Jujitsu. You don't even know the basics yet... We need our most experienced fighters out there first. You could get hurt if you fight people and don't know what you're doing."

"That's why Chiaki-sama is going ahead of us," Michiko explained. "Even I'm staying behind for a few extra days to make sure things are okay here and we aren't attacked when she leaves."

"A-attacked?" The gravity of the situation was beginning to sink in. Shiori winced. It made her uncomfortable just thinking about it. Were they in danger?

Chiaki patted her head. "Try not to worry, child. I'm sure it will all be fine." She offered her a warm smile, but it was not returned.

"I'm scared," Shiori admitted. This only caused the other two to look even more worried. "And I want to go with you. Don't leave me behind..."

"We have no other choice," The Elder told her, firmly. "I was hoping to put it off for a bit longer, until you'd at least had a few weeks of training in before I left... But I have to leave tonight."

"Tonight? Right now?"

"That's right," Chiaki said, picking up the suitcases that she'd put down. She would have to pack them onto her horse, which was waiting outside. "I will return soon. I need you to be brave for me, okay? Can you do that? And study hard while I'm gone. Practice as much as you can."

"I can do that." She nodded solemnly.

Shiori was taking the news a lot better than Michiko had thought she would. They'd been agonizing for the last few days over how they were going to tell her. They'd never had to break this kind of news to a child before, and neither of them had the slightest clue as to how to do it. She would be upset in any case, that part was simply unavoidable. They just wanted her to understand it with as little damage to her fragile psyche as possible. That was why they'd waited so long to tell her. Now it was the last minute, and they had no choice.

"Good," Chiaki smiled. "Blackberries will be in season within the coming months... When I return, we can go blackberry picking. How does that sound?"

They was one of her favorite things to do in the Spring. They usually went a few times per year to look for blackberries in the woods. They were one of Shiori's favorite activities, and she usually got very excited whenever they found a patch.

"It sounds good, Chiaki-sama..." Shiori sniffled, putting her arms around the elderly woman. "I'll miss you."

"And I will miss you as well, child. I should be off now."


"Don't say goodbye, dear. I'll be back before you know it."

Shiori didn't know what to say, so she clammed up again, not saying anything. All she could do was helplessly watch the Elder leave the Monastery. She followed her to the vast archway that stood at the front of the castle-like building. Not daring to go outside during such a tumultuous time, she waited by the entryway, watching the person she thought had cared about her the most leave her behind.

She didn't know what to do, so once Chiaki had left, she just stood there. It was like she'd been frozen in place. Michiko finally managed to snap her out of it, by gently placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"I know it's not easy for you right now," She said. "So I'll do my best to make sure you're in good hands while we're away."

"Who's going to take care of me?" Shiori looked up at her, worry in her glassy eyes.

"We've decided to leave you under the care of Ruhi-san while we're away."

Shiori's eyes lit up. Ruhi was the nice doctor lady who was always taking care of everyone. She'd learned from an early age that their medic could heal just about any ailment. It always fascinated her how she mixed together different things to make cures. It was a lot like magic. And her voice was so soft and soothing... Not high-pitched and grating, like Michiko's.

"Yay!" She giggled. "Maybe this won't be so bad."

"I thought you'd like that," She only smiled fondly. "Now what was it you wanted to talk to me about before?"

"Oh... It was nothing. Nevermind."

A/N: So I really hope you enjoyed the second chapter and that I didn't mess it up too much yet. I'm working on the next one, but I'm not rushing through this. I promise some interesting things will be happening soon... And she will be meeting Ace within the next few chapters, so there's that too. c;

Thank you so much for reading!

Note: This chapter was slightly edited and some things were fixed.