I know what you're thinking. What on Earth does she think she's doing? Who the heck came up with this pairing?
Well, I did. At least I've never come across a story with this pairing.
In case you didn't know this is WyperxVivi, or Vyper and I just wanted to take a moment to defend my choice against any NaVi shippers that might come around (or any other Vivi related pairings.)
They're very different, Wyper was more than willing to destroy for the sake of his land but Vivi desperately searched mostly for peace not for revenge, Wyper saw the end of a century long war while Vivi strived to end one which had just begun. They are separated by a great distance. But. They are both leaders, they both have a deep seated loyalty to their homes and their people. Both are determined and selfless and passionate. I think that they would see past their differences and have a great connection over what they had in common. Wyper would be an amazing leader and Vivi would balance his rashness and foreignness with her own knowledge of the Blue Seas and reason. I like to think it's an unlikely match that works out pretty well.
Anywho, hope everyone enjoys the chap, it wasn't an easy piece :P Lot's of thanks to my beta, emygrl99, for doing all of the preliminary checks for grammar and plot holes etc. Without her there wouldn't be anything to post, I don't think I would have gotten this to a point where I was happy with it O.O
Now, please read, review, and enjoy!
Another dry gust swept through the window and into the room, bringing with it a taste of the third heatwave Alabasta had suffered that summer. Queen Titi glanced at Vivi, who was fidgeting in her chair, clearly trying to focus on her studying but not doing a very good job of it. Every other moment her gaze would slide to the window or she'd adjust herself in the squeaky chair or she'd sit back and stretch.
Even as Titi was looking at her daughter with a raised eyebrow the girl craned her neck once more to frown down at the marking on her shoulder, rolling it forward and watching the arrow spin and rotate around her bicep.
Titi sighed and set down her quill. "Is something wrong, Vivi?" Vivi jumped and Titi smiled demurely. "You've been staring at your arm for nearly twenty minutes."
She hesitated then frowned at her soul link once more.
"My link is wrong," she declared and Titi suppressed a laugh.
"Your link can't be wrong, links are never wrong." She leaned over her desk and took a book from the shelf that she kept full of her most frequently consulted volumes, most of which were full of doggy-eared pages. "Look, a whole history of correctly predicted soulmates."
"No," Vivi insisted "My link got all turned around. It points up."
Titi winced at that. It had been a matter debated by the royal advisors and her parents since the day Vivi was born. Vivi's Link was uncommon, the Eternal Pose Link, and the arrow on her daughter's arm swiveled on an invisible axis, around the arm and on its own circular plane, a tattoo that moved to unerringly point towards its match, wherever they were in the world.
Soul Links couldn't be wrong, that much was fact, but that left the question: how could Vivi's soulmate be in the sky?
When Vivi had been younger, she hadn't seen any sort of problem with her link, but recently, the six year old had started to develop common sense, which meant she spent most of the day puzzling over how her Soul Link worked (because surely it was some variation of the usual type, her soulmate couldn't possibly be in the sky so why did it point there?)
"Vivi, there's no point in doing that, just trust that you'll be happy in the end." Her mother tried, but Vivi was hopelessly distracted.
More heat billowed into the room and Vivi squirmed in her seat, gazing out to the blue skies. Titi suppressed a sigh and set down her pen; her daughter didn't even notice as she raised her arm and pointed out the window, trying to align the arrow on her arm and her finger. The arrow swiveled, shifting so that it pointed slightly to the left of where she pointed. Jumping up, Vivi leaned out the window, adjusting both her arm and gaze to look out into the sky, but there remained a clear blue sky. No soulmate for her.
Internally lamenting the loss of another diplomatic lesson, Titi shut the book and moved to stand behind her daughter. Thinking carefully, she patted Vivi's shoulder and hummed softly, looking into the clouds.
"You know Vivi, I've read lots of books about this Link," she began. "Do you know what it's called? Officially?"
"Umm…" Vivi shook her head. "The Arrow?" she tried.
"It's called the Eternal Pose." Titi laid her finger on the arrow etched into her daughter's skin. "Because it will always point to the same place."
"But what if your soulmate moves?" Vivi's voice was panicked. "What if they follow their arrow to Alabasta, but I'm travelling with you and Papa?"
"Not an actual place, Vivi. It always leads you home, to your love."
"My home is Alabasta," Vivi responded dutifully. "My people are my love."
"You can love your people, and you can call this your home country. But don't ever forget, with your soulmate is where you belong." A moment passed and Titi pulled back her hand, straightening. "Go and play with your friends, we're done for today. Don't forget your cloak now."
"Okay!" Vivi cried, turning from the window in an instant and fleeing out the door, wrapping herself in the light cotton cloak she'd hung by the door, eager to meet up with the Sand-sand clan.
"She's a blue sea dweller! I want nothing to do with her!" the boy hissed, pulling his arm back from the Chief and spitting the words to the side as he avoided looking up at the elderly leader.
"A soulmate is a soulmate, Wyper. You cannot deny the will of Fate, she is the one Goddess who is universally worshipped," the chief intoned. "You think you can disown all deities because of how Eneru has treated our people, but as we preach, he is not of true power. Fate however, plays with each of our lives, and we are but dolls, discarded if we do not work how we're supposed to."
"I refuse to submit," Wyper spat. "Why should I? When I am matched to a weakling of the blue sea? Who cannot live in the sky, who thinks Skypeia is only a myth. You'd think this place is taboo with how travelers stare!" He stalked towards the door, his toes sinking into the cloud. Wyper refrained from dropping to his knees and trying to rip it apart with his hands. Why did he have to walk on cloud, when she, somewhere, stalked through dirt and sand and mud and water?
"Do not think you can resist such pull. You are a young soul, ferocious, but time wears on a being exposed on all sides. A soulmate will shelter one half, and you shall shelter them. The relationship is symbiotic, people are not meant to be alone. There must always be somewhere to return."
"My homeland, our homeland!" He all but screamed. "That is where I will return to! I will grow up a strong warrior, like Calgara!" He seethed, clenched a hand around his arm, covering the mark. "I will inherit the will of the tribe and I will bring all of us home! I need no soulmate, I already have a place in which I belong!" Wyper stormed from the tent. His skates were resting just outside the doorway and he thrust them on, clicking his heels so that the dials would spew a milky road for him. He had places to go, and no time to dwell.
The Chief stood and walked to the doorway, watching the boy rocket off into the distant Sky Sea. He had never suspected such a violent reaction to the revelation of where Wyper could find the one he was meant to be with. He'd known, of course, that Wyper had already planned his life out; to grow up and fight to regain the city of Shandora to it's rightful people. But he'd also thought that even a child could see that they had a future elsewhere as well.
He'll understand at another time. Someday, when he no longer has the burden of our people on his back. Or perhaps before that, he will see that condemning his life also forfeits the happiness of whoever is bound to him. And perhaps he will learn to navigate this world.
She flipped through the pages halfheartedly. Her eyes trailed over the paper, glancing at the words, turning them over in her mind. For years she'd been working her way through the royal library, searching for anything that so much as hinted at a faulty Soul Link or variations of the Eternal Pose link, just anything that might relate to her situation. She'd been reading for years, scoured the entire nonfiction section of the royal library, but she's reached the point where she has nothing but fiction books left.
It's not the best source to find a logical reason as to why her soul Link points up, but it's all she's got.
Vivi had already searched the Soul Link encyclopedia, researched the likelihood of a new Soul Link (little to none), devil fruits that let you fly (there are only five and none make you capable of flying permanently), government experiments that relate to flying or gravity (Vivi's status as a princess granted her access to exclusive information about many of those) and even if the Eternal Pose Soul Link pointed to heaven if your soulmate dies (it doesn't, it points to their final resting place. That was good anyway, her Soulmate wasn't dead, now if only she could find them).
She flipped another page, her current reading material was on fables of the Grand Line and, predictably, it was very thick. It was more of an encyclopedia than a fairytale book as it was written by some archaeologists somewhere who loved ancient civilizations and compiled all the myths into a big book that her father happened to possess.
In it, there was one story about the City of Gold.
Even if it wasn't related to her Soul Link problem, Vivi found herself captivated. The entire city just disappeared one day, four hundred years ago! Apparently some guy named Montblanc Noland had found it, but when he brought his king to collect the riches, there was nothing but an empty, wild island. The scholars volunteered information that in fact proved there was some credit to Nolands name and his claims, and it was all rather interesting.
Several chapters after that, she read of Skypeia.
This is what she'd come looking for.
And so her number one theory became that it pointed to a guy (or girl, she supposes) who lived on a mythical island made of cloud that floated high above the Grand Line.
It would be nice if it were fact.
The only evidence working for this folk tale was that ships would sometimes fall out of the sky in the area that the cloud island was rumored to circulate.
This evidence was then refuted with the mention of a current called the knock-up stream.
It was a beautiful fantasy, but truly, she was back where she started.
"YAHHHHHHH" Wyper launched forward on his skates, the dials whirring as they released yet another jet of cloud for him to balance upon. The White Berets were better equipped, better organized, and had the upper-hand of surprise, but they'd attacked Wyper's home. The villagers were fleeing in every direction as some of the biggest buildings in the camp shimmered, the cloud slowly evaporating in the heat of the fires the attackers had set.
That put both the home field and rage on his side.
He swept across the skyscape, swinging his spear from side to side and knocking White Berets from their cloud streams. It wasn't the first time he'd felt this anger, but it was the first time that instead of being told to turn and run from the invaders he was instructed to grab his spear and take to the battlefield.
Oh, his joy at those words.
Wyper felt a long pole smack into the back of his knees and they buckled immediately. He forced himself into a flip as he went down, slamming the butt of his spear into the gut of the soldier who'd slapped the barrel of his rifle against Wyper's legs. The soldier collapsed and Wyper landed on one knee, his spear brandished.
"Barbarian," the soldier wheezed, trying to regain his breath. "Leave our land!"
"Your land?" Wyper asked, fury fueling his calm. "Your land for how long? A few centuries? Your land that belonged to the Shandians nine hundred years before that!" Wyper scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. "Our land."
The soldier stared up at him as Wyper rose and held the tip of his spear to the man's throat. "Would you die for your land? I would." And with that, he swung his arm wide and back towards the soldier, aiming for his enemy's throat. In the process, movement caught his eye. On his arm, the arrow was spinning.
She'd been moving around a lot lately.
Taking advantage of the distraction, the soldier scrambled out of the way of the spear. Wyper cursed himself inwardly for getting distracted a few times before offering his link one more glance and lunged forward to stab the soldier again. That second-long glance afforded the soldier the opportunity to escape, and Wyper cursed again, aloud this time.
The battle was short, only twenty minutes or so, but in the frenzy two White Berets were left behind, one injured one dead. Three Shandian warriors were wounded too, one mortally.
Wyper stood in front of the captured soldier. It was not the one he had incapacitated earlier, but he was the same breed of person, and thus just as evil. Wyper wanted to slit his throat, as he hadn't been able to with the other soldier. Perhaps he'd plead with the chief for the task of taking this man's life.
It'd been his first battle, but he had had no first blood.
"Are you sure, Igaram?"
"I am positive, Princess."
Vivi paced across the marble floor, twisting her hands in the fabric of her dress. This was worse than she'd ever imagined. An entire organization, poking at the hearts of her people. Never had she imagined such a gruesome murder plot in her country. And for what? Some wannabe dictator's dream of having a nation all their own? Her people would be driven to the brink, enchanted by lies, until they jumped off the cliff to get away from the shadow crimes they thought her father had committed. Only at the bottom, where they'd expected the soft pillows of freedom and the fruit of revolution, they'd find the harsh reality of a tyrant ruler who'd played them all.
Vivi wiped at the tears that had budded in her eyes. She wouldn't let that happen, she couldn't.
"Igaram, what else do you know about the organization?" She turned back to face him as he flipped through a folder of information.
"They're huge, Princess. The whole group is run by anonymity, so we can't see through to who the head is. They take in the best of the best, and they have enough lackeys to place a mole in every town of Alabasta and still have an army remaining. And Princess, they're still growing."
Vivi swallowed her sob of despair and buried it in the pit of her stomach. What was she to do against such a humongous organization that was filled with high profile criminals, and led by faces she could not see?
No, she refused to cry. The first step to saving her country was not giving up; a step in any direction away from giving up was a step towards success.
"If they are so big… could we place moles inside them, as they have infiltrated our forces?" she suggested.
"Yes, but they would only be cannon fodder, the underlings that serve the more notorious agents and only receive inconsequential information."
"Surely they could climb the ladder?"
"You do not understand the level at which even the lowest named agent is at. Only people of substantial skill could hope to rise to a position that might touch even the slightest piece of valuable information. And none would be able to retain that position and discreetly send you the information they do manage to gather. It's an impossible thought, Princess," Igaram informed her sadly.
Vivi twisted the fabric of her shirt nervously and Igaram shifted uneasily behind her. Princess Vivi was thinking, and she could be frighteningly good at it.
Suddenly, she relaxed. Her hands unclenched and she smoothed the fabric of her robes as she turned and smiled calmly at her loyal friend.
"Would you have the servants pack me my simplest clothes? And a large case of makeup?"
"Are you planning on leaving Princess?" Igaram blinked, astounded. It was most out of character for Vivi to abandon anyone in a time of need. And though surely she wasn't abandoning them, it was still most unusual for her to consider a trip when she was needed at the palace.
"Yes, I'll be leaving on urgent business. I was hoping you'd accompany me Igaram." She smiled grimly out the window, watching her reflection look back at her morosely.
"I'd follow you anywhere, Princess."
"Good." She breathed through her nose, steeling her resolve, preparing for Igaram's protests. "Because I'd like to become the mole in this organization myself."
"I said I'd like to join this mysterious organization." She turned to face him and met his shocked expression with her own unwavering gaze.
"But you have to be incredibly skilled in combat…" He argued but she shook her head.
"Pell has been instructing me in self-defense since I was five."
"You can't risk yourself!"
"I'd be at less risk than a spy sent and ordered to return information. This will eliminate the danger to any middle men." He stared and shut his eyes, rubbing his temples.
"What of your coming of age ceremony?" It was a desperate bid, and he knew this, he had so very little to use as leverage against the princess, as the thing she cared about most, her country, was in grave danger.
"It can wait till the country has a true reason to celebrate."
"But your royal duties!"
"Are pointless without a country to rule."
"Princess Vivi!" Igaram wailed.
"Will be infiltrating the organization Baroque Works." Vivi finished gravely "And I'll bring it down."
Wyper was cleaning his skates when Aisa burst into the hut, dragging Laki by the hand and singing an old song the tribe taught the kids about soulmates at the top of her lungs. He shot her a glare and as soon as she noticed she quiets, backing up to hug Laki's leg. "Wyper is just cleaning his skates, Aisa," Laki patted her shoulder and gave Wyper a stern look. Leave her alone. "You keep telling me your story."
"Oh, well…" And she chattered on, mostly unaffected by Wyper's silent stewing.
He hunched over and tried to concentrate on his work, waxing the bottoms so that they'd slide easier on cloud, replacing one of the milky dials with a freshly filled one. He didn't want to hear about Aisa's account of her meeting with the chief, he didn't want to hear how she was destined to be with someone meant for her, it reminded him that fate messed up his match.
How could he leave his people for a person he didn't even know? Why should he trust anything that came from the Blue Sea?
"The chief says that one day we'll find each other, no matter how far apart we are!" she waved her hand in Laki's face, the slip of red string glistened on her finger. "They're that way!" She pointed, following the red line that was invisible to all but two people in the world. Wyper wondered what it would be like to have that Link, to see the red string stretch off, disappearing into the clouds and leading down to the white sea cutting through the clouds till it burst from the bottom of his world. Only one person in all the Blue Sea would be able to detect it, would be able to see the slight disturbance to the thick clouds that made up all of Skypeia.
Then again, if he'd had it he'd probably just try and cut it.
"Soulmates are a wonderful thing, aren't they?" Laki smiled, "You haven't even met each other and you already make each other happy."
"Yeah! Hey, Laki, what's your Link?"
"Nothing special," She leant in close, letting Aisa see her eyes, "The only thing I know is what color eyes my soulmate has." She opened them wide, the two colors glistening.
"What about Wyper?" She asked and he flinched at the mention of his name, coming back to himself as he realized that he'd all but stopped taking care of the skates and was simply listening to the conversation. "What's your Link?"
"Aisa, don't ask Wyper that," Laki scolded but he was already setting aside his work, half turning to look down at the girl.
She was so hopeful, filled with the talk they gave of how fate built them for each other, near bursting with excitement for what the future he held.
Sometimes he wished he could have had a little bit of that.
"My Link shows me where they are," He points to his arm, the compass mark shifting idly to match his movements. "But I don't need to know, my duty is to Shandia."
"But!" Aisa stepped back, clearly shocked at his answer. "But she'll miss you! You have to be together!"
"No," He shook his head and turned away. "I have to make the right choices, and that's what I'm doing."
"But what about after we get back our home?" She insists. "After you've fought and we have our homeland back then you can go to your soulmate! And she can come visit us all in the city of gold!"
Wyper didn't mention that he was almost certain he'd die in the battle that took back their homeland, and that he was happy for such a thing to happen if that was the price for success.
He only turned away with a halfhearted. "Yes, maybe then."
"Oh, Vivi, I didn't know you had a tattoo!" Nami commented as Vivi stepped out on deck in the borrowed short-sleeve shirt. Immediately all eyes were on her and she slapped a hand over her Link as fast as she could.
"I, don't actually," She stuttered evasively, laughing as she took a step back. "That's… Oh, it's nothing."
"Is it your Link?" Luffy was beside her in a flash, and Vivi almost screamed because no one was supposed to see her Link- wait. She took a deep breath as she realized that this was different. On this ship she was safe to do or say almost anything. Her status as a princess did not restrain her.
"Yeah," She slid her hand away and showed the young captain the arrow, his eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as she rolled her arm and the arrow moved to adjust. "It's called the Eternal Pose Link."
"Whoa!" Luffy grabbed her arm and pulled it around so he could see, moving it around and watching the arrow spin. Chopper tugged at her pant leg and Vivi brushed Luffy off to bend down and show the doctor the mark.
"Wow," His nose twitched as he examines the mark. "Does it hurt when it moves? Does your skin crawl, does it itch? Does the mark spread and fuzz like man-made tattoos?"
"No, it doesn't do any of that stuff." Vivi promised. "It's not uncomfortable at all."
"But it does make you uncomfortable," Nami guessed slyly, still lounging on the lawn chair. "Why didn't you want to show us?"
"Well," Vivi laughed nervously. On this ship the idea of one keeping their Link secret was completely ignored, prying was not at all an insult where it would've been if done by anyone else. Nevertheless, she wasn't quite sure how to phrase the explanation... "You know I'm the Princess of Alabasta…"
"Yes, we know that, what does that have to do with anything?" Nami urged, eyes brightening at the prospect of some insight to the life of royalty.
"Royalty isn't to share their Soul Links until they come of age." Vivi admitted. "It's a security measure to some degree, keeping people from trying to replicate and fake their way into the castle, but now it's more ceremonial, introducing a royal to the people."
"Well people can't fool your Link, you just follow the arrow, right?" Luffy asked eagerly and Vivi nodded.
"Still, I haven't shown it to anybody but royal advisors and such in years. When I was young I had to wear a cloak everywhere, even as Miss Wednesday I tried to wear long sleeve shirts, it's become a bit of a habit to hide it."
"Don't hide it when you're around us," Luffy ordered. "We aren't fakers. I don't want you anyway. You're not yellow."
Vivi shot Nami a look and the navigator rolled her eyes.
"His Link has something to do with colors, I missed a lot of the explanation. He thinks his soulmate's favorite color is yellow or something."
"No, they're just yellow." Luffy stated firmly. "Like mustard but more sunshiney."
They all laughed at that completely unhelpful explanation and Vivi completely forgot about her own Link, even as it spun around where everyone could see.
He should have killed them on sight.
And it's not that he didn't try, it just didn't happen.
In the middle of a war, they appeared and got in the way of everything. The last thing the tribe needed was more enemies, and dare he say that they were possibly strong enough to give his warriors trouble. If this was what all Blue Sea Dwellers were like, then he was glad he wasn't going to meet up with his soulmate. She'd be stubborn and violent and have no regard for other people. Their captain was especially brash and arrogant, he thought he could light the fire of Shandora? That was the right of a Shandian, of Wyper, the descendant of Calgara! Not some Blue Sea Dweller who listened to no man.
Wyper ground his teeth as he watched the long nose Blue Sea Dweller fire a myriad of objects at Giant Jack. The black haired woman with the blue eyes walked over to stand next to him, calmly addressing Wyper's irritation.
"He has a friend who wants to hear the bell. His name is Montblanc Cricket," she explained.
"Montblanc?" Wyper sat up, staring at her with shock, clinching his cigarette between his teeth. "As in Montblanc Noland?"
"Noland was his ancestor." The woman smiled up at the stormy sky. "Captain-san promised he'd ring the bell if he found it, to prove to Cricket that the city of gold was real. The world regards the Montblanc name with laughter, as the story of the city of gold is notoriously his last lie."
"It's not a lie! It's right there, it's our homeland!" Wyper argued, and the woman regarded him coolly.
"Most of the world believes the Sky Island is a lie, a dream. To them, the notion of the City of Gold being on a Sky Island is even more ridiculous than it being real in the first place." She looked up again. "Cricket believed it was up here, he's always believed in this place. Captain-san wants to give him his proof."
Wyper followed her gaze to the clouds, at the chaos streaking across the skyscape. These small blue sea dwellers, who had little tolerance for the altitude and no real hand in the conflict, were fighting against a God, just to ring a bell as a favor. Not for the Shandians, not for the Skypeians, but for Noland.
Wyper struggled to his feet, staggered forward before beginning to run towards Giant Jack.
They needed the stalk to fall. He would make it fall.
The fire of Shandora would be lit at any cost, for Calgara, for Noland.
When he pressed his hand against Giant Jack, there was but a moment where he paused, considered that maybe it wasn't worth it. He would probably lose his arm if he set off the dial again, maybe more. He'd lose his Soul Link if that happened. An injury like that would break the magic binding them together.
Sky Island was a myth, a dream to the Blue Seas. His Soulmate most likely didn't even know he was up here, only knew that her arrow pointed up to some place in the sky, to a place that couldn't exist. She would never come looking, she probably thought… who knows what, but she couldn't rationally think he was living in the sky. She wouldn't miss him if he never came, how can you miss someone you've never met?
So he pushed. He felt how the shock wave swept first through his body and then stretching out into the beanstalk, and a part of him panicked, it's not enough…!
But it was, he discovered, staring up at the clear skies a few minutes later, listening to a bell tolling the song of peace, and understanding that it was done.
"Hey, I know someone with that Link!" Straw Hat had bumped into him later at the party and immediately wrapped his arm around Wyper's elbow, pulling it out so he could see the arrow as it spun around Wyper's bicep. "Oh oh oh and you live in the sky! Have you ever been to the Grand Line?" He looked up at Wyper expectantly, eagerly, but it was all Wyper could do to not fall over, his worn muscles screaming at him at the pirate's insistent tugging.
"Don't ignore me!" Straw Hat demanded and Wyper managed to shake his head, Straw Hat loosened his hold and dropped into a crouch, pulling Wyper to sit beside him.
"No," He scowled, catching his breath. "I've never been to the Blue Sea."
"Ohhh…" Straw Hat stared at him with wide eyes, nodding. "And Vivi's sad because she doesn't know where her soulmate is- but you're here!"
"What are you talking about?" Wyper snapped but Straw Hat isn't stopping.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Wyper, I'm a warrior of Shandora and the descendant of Calgara-"
"Wyper," the other man repeated, "Well, you should go meet Vivi, she gets sad about you sometimes."
"She's really nice, you'll like her," Straw Hat promises. "I guess that's what soulmates do, they like each other- a lot! Hey do you know any yellow people?"
"No, what are you talking abou-"
"Oh, well thanks anyway!" Straw Hat gave him a hard clap on his back and bounced back to his feet. "I'm gonna go eat something, sky fish tastes so good." His tongue lolled and some drool dribbled down his chin as he thought about it. "But yeah, you should visit Vivi," He smiled "She'd be happy to see you."
And he was gone before Wyper could get out another half a question.
He didn't realize that he was rubbing his shoulder until he moved his hand away from his Link to pick up a mug of pumpkin juice.
"Vivi," He tried the name out, just because. Straw Hat said she was nice, though who knew what Straw Hat considered "nice", but he said she thought of him, that was less opinionated.
His body ached and he settled in for the remainder of the night, mulling quietly over the situation he now found himself in.
By morning he'd decided to ask one of the other Straw Hats who "Vivi" might be, but by morning they were already gone.
"Vivi-sama, your Father and I were talking… and we think…"
"Whatever scheme you two worked together to formulate I don't even want to hear." Vivi joked, scratching numbers into the record books. This year's harvest was even better than last year's. After nearly a decade of misfortune Alabasta's luck was getting back to work. Rainfall was at record highs, harvests and population was soaring, and the royal family had returned to the good graces of the people.
Whatever her Father and Chaka were talking about would be disturbing this positive direction they were heading in, Vivi didn't want to change anything.
"Vivi, you're only seventeen, and you're not Queen yet!" King Cobra planted his fist on the desk. "You need to get out there, see some things, have a little fun!"
The unspoken was of course that she needed to find her soulmate.
"I'm a Princess, this is my future, this is my job!" Vivi set the pen down and shut the book she'd been writing in. "You can't want me to leave, I've spent years away from the palace!"
"Being a spy in a criminal organization, not enjoying yourself." Chaka argued.
"And you didn't find your soulmate!" Her father pouted. "If you don't find him then how are you going to have a King? Kids? Heirs? My grandchildren!"
"I'm seventeen Father."
"Old enough that you should have been looking."
Vivi sighed and rolled up her sleeve, revealing the arrow, pointing up, infallibly.
"Would you like me to go find him with this as my guide?" She asked and her father rested his head on the desk.
"I just want you out of my office and fraternizing with your soulmate like a normal seventeen year old!" He wailed and Vivi laughed.
"But I'm a princess, not a normal seventeen year old." She corrected him and walked around to the bookshelf, slipping the book she'd been cataloging in back into its place. She was right next to the window, and her arrow spun a full circle before settling into place, pointing out, into the clouds. Vivi tugged the cloth of her sleeve back over the mark, frowning.
It wasn't that she didn't want to go, but what was there to find? A mythical sky island that most likely didn't exist? How was she supposed to get to a mythical island of clouds? And her country needed her, her father was a great King, but to recover from an almost war, they both needed to be there, both of them. Even if she would be leaving to find the next King.
She couldn't go, no matter how much she'd like to. He'd just have to find her instead of the other way around.
"Hey, Angel." The woman cooed in his ear, blond curls draping themselves over his shoulder "Do those wings work or are they just for show?" Wyper closed his eyes and shrugged her off his arm, causing her to stumble on her nine inch tall heels.
"I'm not here for business." He grunted, and dropped a few belli on the counter of the bar before standing. She glared up at him and blew a blond coil out of her face.
"I'm just trying to bring a little relief to all the brooding men who haven't met their soulmate yet." She snapped. "And don't tell me you're not one of those." She got to her feet, tugged her skirt down an inch or two and stalked off to another corner of the bar, where a scruffy looking group cheered and applauded at her return.
Wyper didn't bother to watch her go, strolling outside without looking back. This bar was just one pit stop of many.
He'd learned a few things about the Blue Sea after sailing here for a little less than a month. One of those things was to never trust anyone who seemed interested in his wings.
Wyper tugged at his shirt, the holes in the back chafing against his wings. It was better than leaving them under though, that had made them itch for days. His wings seemed to capture endless attention, from curious whores like the blond, to slave traders who didn't know how much he'd sell for, but were eager to find out; but Wyper couldn't bear to leave them hidden. He'd taken measures to blend in in other ways. He left his bazooka on his ship most days, wore a thin black shirt to conceal his tattoos, heavy cloth pants instead of his animal hide traditional skirt, and leather boots.
He made his way through town, towards the port. Jaya was rowdy, but well stocked with supplies for passing travelers. He'd move on within the hour.
"Would ya look at you." A voice said from behind him and Wyper half turned to acknowledge the man. "What do ya think boys, I'd have said he was a sign from heaven, two years ago."
"Definitely, Captain!" One monkey man said, and the other crossed his arms and nodded slowly, looking Wyper over.
Another thing about Blue Sea Dwellers, they didn't always know how to look human.
"I'm not a sign from heaven." Wyper frowned "But I live closer to it then you do."
The man smiled around his cigarette and gave Wyper a second appraising look.
"Do you now? And where would that be?"
Wyper has had mixed experiences with telling people about the Sky Islands, most laughed him off, a few had grown nasty, one or two may have given him rapt attention. He'd never shied away from telling about his home, he had immense pride, since he can finally call it home in every sense of the word.
"I'm from Shandora, the city in the sky." He said and the two monkeys flanking the bare chested man with the strange hair formation cried out in shock as the man's eyes widened.
"Shandora?" He asked, breathless "The city of gold?" Wyper nodded and the man forcibly closed his mouth, the monkeys didn't manage as much. "Is there a bell?" He asked suddenly "Is there a huge golden bell, that tolls the most beautiful sound?"
"The most beautiful sound you've ever heard." Wyper agreed. "Do you believe in the Sky Island?"
"Kid, there isn't a thing I've ever believed in more than the Sky Island and that city. Montblanc Cricket." He stuck out his hand and Wyper almost shook it before the name registered in his mind.
"Montblanc? As in Montblanc Noland?" The man looked proud, but wary.
"Yes. He is my relative." Wyper stared for a moment before completing the handshake, a wide smile growing on his face before he could stop it.
"Wyper. Descendant of the great warrior Calgara. According to the myths of my village Noland and Calgara were the greatest of friends."
"You don't say." Cricket shook his hand slowly, and the two stood like that for a moment before Cricket asked another question. "Do you know Monkey D. Luffy, slim kid, wears a Straw Hat?"
Wyper was getting a headache from all the coincidences.
"Almost two years ago he came to Sky Island, in the middle of our revolution. He defeated God. All of the Shandians owe him our home."
The two monkeys were looking more shocked by the minute, but at this there seemed to be unanimous pride in the trio, though also a tinge of sadness.
"Clearly we have stories to be shared." Cricket laughed and Wyper pulled out a new cigarette. "Come to my ship, and let's exchange."
Wyper agreed and Cricket led him back to his galleon, a hefty thing with many banana decorations and carvings of south birds, where they drank the night away and informed each other of the history of Shandia and the exploits of Straw Hat Luffy.
"Here's a question for ya, Wyper." Cricket finally said. "What brought you down to the Blue Sea?"
Wyper sobered marginally and held out his arm. "My Soul Link. I've done my service to my home, Shandora once again belongs to the people of Shandia. My comrades… my friends, urged me to follow my destiny and all that junk, told me to find her."
"Or him." Cricket suggested, but Wyper shook his head. He knew who she was already, where she was had become the only question.
"There was nothing tying me down anymore, they all decided I needed to do something with myself. Practically threw me off the island." He laughed softly "She's waiting somewhere."
"The Eternal Pose is a good Link for you two." Cricket leaned back in his chair. "You'd need a strong Link like that to cover a distance between heaven and earth. You've gone a long way to get to her Wyper."
He tossed back a cup of sake, appreciating the singed sensation that it left as it swirled down his throat and settled to burn in the pit of his stomach.
"I'm not there yet."
It's the warmest day they've had this year, but since it's only the beginning of summer, she doubts the weather will get too much better. As she has for most afternoons these past two months, Vivi is sitting by her window staring at her Link.
It's level now.
It still catches her by surprise at times. She spends a lot of time in this room, at this desk, because it's where she's always been best aligned with the arrow. When she points out the window she can see straight to her soulmate, no other room in the castle has that kind of view. For two months she's been sitting in this chair whenever she can, though, obviously not while eating in the dining hall, or sleeping or visiting around the city or any of the other numberless things she has to do…
But whenever she can be, she's here, keeping an eye on that arrow as it aims off into a distance that she somehow knows is slowly shrinking.
Outside of the gates of Alubarna, too far away for Vivi to see, a lone figure meanders slowly through the desert. Dressed in a light gray cloak he travels in a straight line, aiming for one place and one place only, an unerring compass his guide.
Upon reaching the Western gate he answers the customs questions of the guards before being allowed inside the city.
Wyper is beyond done. He's been travelling in a straight line because that's how his Link works. He knows where to go, but not the right route. He's gone for long stretches on the ocean without food, trekked directly through jungles rather than taking more populated routes because he just doesn't know. How far away is she? How often does she move? Does she live in the middle of nowhere or in the depths of society? It's most likely that she will be far past this city, but he'll travel through as he needs to restock anyway. He ran out of water earlier today.
The city is huge, a capital. Alubarna of Alabasta, a desert country. He has heard that a few years ago they went through a revolution, like his own country. He smirks. It would be funny if she did live here, maybe she was one of the revolutionary fighters; there's no way he has a weakling, I'll-lay-down-and-let-you-kill-me, kind of person for his soulmate. He's learned that by now, that where she's from has no bearing on who she is.
The streets are crowded with people in flowing cloaks, shielding them from the sun. Stalls line each of the streets, selling all sorts of things, one man is yelling about golden apples while another advertises barrels of water. The water vendor is doing better business.
He has his sleeve rolled up so that he can make sure he's travelling in the right direction, some people are giving him suspicious looks and others hopeful glances, but he ignores them. Whatever they're thinking of him doesn't particularly matter, he has someplace to get to, and his Link is none of their business.
It isn't until he hits the center of the city that he faces a problem. The arrow points straight through the castle. Most times he'd just go through an obstacle like this but going past the guards wouldn't be worth the trouble, he'll have to circle around.
Vivi almost jumps out of her seat when she glances down at her arm and finds that her soulmate has moved. Two months of this being the only place in the palace that allowed her to look as far as she could following the arrow.
Now, it points at the wall.
As she watches, it inches along on its invisible axis, shifting with her soulmate's movements as she stays perfectly still.
Around, all the way, and then again…
Vivi stands up so quickly her chair falls over, and she takes another half second to watch the arrow begin another turn before she can't stand it anymore. Her soulmate is so close that they can circle her in a few minutes, that's as close as the castle walls! They're right here, and she's determined to meet them halfway.
Not even her father can stop her for long as she rushes through the halls and nearly knocks him over.
"Oh, sorry Father!"
"Vivi?" He catches his balance as she stops to steady him. "What are you doing? What's going on?"
"They're here!" She gestures wildly at her shoulder, "Around the castle, somewhere, I-I've got to let them in!" And she's off again before he can say much more.
"Oh that's," He struggles for the right word, emotions warring within him. "Wonderful, darling…" But is it? Some part of him whispers and another part steels itself to acknowledge possibilities that he never wanted to recognize but now had to.
He gets to his office and the announcing den den mushi almost as quickly as Vivi gets to the castle's front gate.
Wyper frowns up at the West gates to the royal palace, he's circled the whole thing twice, just to make sure.
His soulmate is in there, she has to be. His arrow points inside, no matter which way he turns. He adjusts his cloak so that it falls over the mark. He'll ask at the gate if there's anyone in the castle that happens to have the same Link.
Maybe she's in jail, or she's a maid, or some other castle job.
He tries to be casual, walking over to the guards stationed at the sides of the gate.
"Hello." One greets cheerfully "You don't look to be from around here, are you having trouble finding your way?" Wyper's mouth quirks into a smile.
"Not at all." He rolls up his sleeve again. "I'm following my Soul Link. Do you know of anyone within the palace that has the same Link?" From the looks on the guard's faces, they do.
Just then, the Den Den Mushi on the wall behind the guards starts mutter and one of the guards shakes off his surprise to answer it.
"Attention all guards on duty, this is a direct message from your King. Any person who seems to be wandering around the palace, or has the Eternal Pose Link, will be brought to my private quarters immediately."
The other guard looks at Wyper apologetically.
"You heard the orders, pal." He says and reaches for Wyper's arm before he can jerk out of the way. Wyper's lip curls, and he twists his shoulder around to break free of the guards grip, but as he does the other guard snags his other arm and the first guard retrieves his newly freed arm.
Before Wyper knows what's happening he's being dragged through the gates and ornate hallways sputtering curses at the men gripping his arms. He knew going to the Blue Sea would make him weak.
Vivi skids to a stop as she passes through the main gates, the message echoing from within the guard station that had just opened the gates to let her through. She turns on her heel and starts back inside, disbelief at her father's actions flooding her thoughts.
Why is he interfering? She would have found them on her own, she's sure. They'll look like a foreigner, probably will have gotten fooled into buying one of the overpriced robes they sell at Nanohana for visitors who don't know the proper prices. They'll stick out like a sore thumb in the capital.
Instead her father is having them taken to him? Is he trying to scare them off? Does he want to make sure that they can handle being King? Will he not let them be together if he doesn't judge them as capable?
No, he would never do that, but who knows what he is doing.
Vivi has waited a lifetime to meet her soulmate, and now that they are just a few corridors away she is not going to let anything get between them.
Wyper loses track of where they are going, or rather, where they had come from as he'd never known the true destination in the first place. The whole palace is a maze, endless rooms and corridors and halls connected with intersections marked by ornate designs and stones.
It's like the insides of some of the temples in Shandora, unlike anything else he'd seen on the Blue Sea. After some length of time, having been dragged through countless halls and over several different colors of marble flooring, Wyper is unwillingly ushered into a large room, furnished like an office and a suite all in one. The man inside is not facing him, instead looking over the railing of the balcony behind the desk. The guards close the doors firmly behind him and at the sharp click of the lock the man turns and acknowledges Wyper in an appraising glance.
"What do you want?" Wyper snarls, slipping his hand inside his robe and wrapping his fingers around the leather wrapped handle of the dagger he had stowed in his belt. He hopes he won't have to use it, but the whole situation screams danger and he has every reason to be uneasy. He'd decided that making enemies on the Blue Sea was unavoidable, he's already made many; but he doesn't want to add this man, who is clearly of high stature and capability, to the list of the people he must watch his back for.
"Not whatever you're thinking." He chuckles, eyes crinkling at the smile that looks a little forced around the lips, but there is only truth in his eyes. "I'm only looking after my daughter."
"Your daughter." Wyper repeats, confused but trying to hide it, hand clenching around the handle, his arm is itching, the arrow is twitching around, miniscule hops and bumps that only move a centimeter or two each time. She's close enough that nearly every movement is pulling at the Link.
"My daughter." He nods. "My name is Nefartari Cobra, my daughter has the Eternal Pose link, and from the look on your face I'd say you do too." Cobra gestures to Wyper's shoulder, like he can feel the arrow twisting underneath the robe as well as Wyper can. "With a Link like that I'd thought you'd be here much sooner, it's not too hard to follow. I must ask, where did you come from that took you so long?" The question is phrased innocently, humorously, joking, as though he's just wondering if it was the travel time that stood in Wyper's way.
However, there are two serious questions shielded within the one. The first one is clearly 'did you not care enough to come sooner?' Following the obvious strain of 'do I really trust you with my daughter?' The second is less clear, and more literal; 'Where the heck did you come from that had my daughter's Link pointing up?'
Still, there is no doubt or waver in Wyper's voice when he says "I'm from the city of Shandora, in the White-White Sea."
"Where is that?" Cobra looks befuddled and Wyper cracks open a smirk.
"It's in the sky."
Cobra loses all semblance of composure and his eyes bug out, his mouth forming words but his voice not coming until he finally manages to stutter out, "The sky…?"
Wyper nods, fingers slowly relaxing around the handle. Whoever Cobra is, he's not here to threaten him, just protect his daughter, Wyper's soulmate, which he's really grateful for, even if it's a little detrimental just now.
"The sky Island." Wyper nods "I am Wyper. Descendant of the great Warrior Calgara and first of the Heads of God Ganfall's guard. A rightful Shandian."
Cobra nods slowly, stepping closer and holding out a hand. "Nice to meet you then." Wyper takes it and gives it a tight shake. Fighting a smirk off because smiles are much better in this sort of situation.
"Father! Why did you do that…?" The voice prompts Wyper to turn around, he grabs the handle of the dagger again as a frantic scrabbling ensues which is clearly a key undoing the lock from the outside. Before the speaker enters the words settle into his head and he realizes who's coming.
The door flies open, revealing a slim girl with blue hair. She looks livid and a little breathless, stray strands of the vibrant hue float around her face and one hand rests against the door frame while the other is clenched at her side. When her gaze slides off her father and onto Wyper her brown eyes widen, and the fist unclenches.
"Hi." She says shortly, tongue tripping over the single syllable word. Even though Wyper knows this really should be a 'smile!' situation he ends up smirking.
She erupts into giggles and steps into the room, sticking out a hand, just as her father had.
"I'm Vivi." She grins, the arrow on her bare arm is pointing down her arm, right at Wyper's chest.
"I'm Wyper." He takes her hand, and is met with a grip that is almost as strong as his. His arrow twitches less than an inch to realign itself, pointing down his arm, and over to Vivi's chest. Or rather her heart.