Hey hey! You stuck around for chapter 2! That's great! Please enjoy~
"I'm hungry…" My stomach had been growling non-stop ever since I started to patrol the grey cobbled streets of Logue town. In my shock and tentative excitement of finding myself in another world, I forgot that the reason I'd even gotten up in the morning was to get breakfast. That was several hours ago, so I could feel my ribs beginning to stick out underneath my shirt.
All across town, I could see street vendors serving deep-fried fish, seafood buns, and… Takoyaki? I've never tried takoyaki before… I always like trying new food, but my lack of funds would get me nowhere here.
Nothing on this street did any good towards helping my appetite. Just breathing in the heavenly smells was close to torture.
I need to make some money and fast. I'm underweight, to begin with, and my metabolism won't let me survive that long without food. I eyed a trash bin with a conspicuously half-eaten portion of fish and chips sticking out on top.
...I don't want to risk catching a disease from eating the garbage here either… Also gross.
I flinched as I was sprayed with broken glass. A person had been thrown out the front window of a bar.
"What the…" I turned to the scene,
The man got up angrily, drawing out a flintlock pistol from the front of his pants, "Ye think you can throw a man out a window in the middle a his drink?!"
Before he could aim the second shot, a metal object flew out of the bar, beaning him upside the head. It caused the second shot to go wide, hitting nothing. Turns out that it was a wok… and it was still full of fried rice.
Damn, even the restaurant staff are terrifying in this place…
It was a detail that I had only just begun to notice, but almost all of the business owners in Loguetown seemed to be strapped in one way or another. Most of the street vendors selling groceries or pre-prepared food had long knives or flintlock pistols strapped to their waists. Although the shopkeepers I saw through glass doors didn't seem too imposing at first glance, there was almost always a shotgun or rifle of some kind propped up on a stand close enough for them to grab if necessary. Even the average civilians milling around the street doing their afternoon shopping seemed to have weapons on their person in one way or another.
Though apparently, these people are dangerous enough with just the stuff that they are cooking with...
Isn't Loguetown supposed to be a fairly peaceful place? I wondered.
The gunner fell to the ground in a wet thud clutching his face. His clothes spattered with remnants of fried shrimp, vegetables and rice.
"That's what you get for insulting my ale… Bastard. You ever tried brewing good alcohol with the soggy shit that those traders bring in? I poured my soul into this batch and you dare to call it piss?! PISS?! This is the work of an artisan! A culinary genius! And then...you dared to pull a gun on me when I threw you out?! In front of my bar?!" An absolute bear of a man stomped out of the restaurant. He had the body of a man who loved food, and the scowl of a person who had dealt with this kind of customer far too often. His rusty hair had been pulled back into a loose ponytail that was only just beginning to grey at the temples. In his right hand, he held a flintlock pistol, his face was mottled red with anger. He plucked the man off the street by the collar, and shoved the pistol in his nose, "MY ALE IS THE NECTAR OF THE GODS! SAY IT, YOU DAMN PIRATE!"
The terrified,(now bleeding profusely from the head) Pirate, coughed. "Y-Yer Ale is the n-nectar of the… the gods."
"You're goddamned right..." He growled, "EY! You there!" The brewer pointed at a marine who was frozen in shock at watching the whole scene, " Take this punk to wherever the hell you put the rest of his kind. I've got a window to replace." He dropped the gunner to fall bonelessly to the ground, slapped the pistol into a holster under his apron, plucked the now bloodstained wok off the road, then stomped back inside the bar, grumbling all the way.
The marine pulled a grey snail from his pocket that had the Marines' insignia stamped on its shell (wow, those things look even more bizarre in real life) "Patch me through to squad 10. Code 218, I repeat, code: 218. *sigh* Big Jon assaulted another pirate...(There was a voice I couldn't make out from the snail)… No, I'm not taking a testimony from him, I have to take the stupid criminal to a medic! (More garbled speech from the snail), The marine scowled, " I don't care if you're scared of him, we have to follow due process! Now get your ass down to Mainstreet!" He slapped a pair of handcuffs onto the injured pirate, then pulled him to his feet to drag him off in some direction, continuing to shout at the snail.
"H-holy shit…" That was brutal. I figured that this place was dangerous, but Gunfights in the street? Ripping hot pans being thrown in people's faces? What is the deal with Loguetown? It was shown to be a fairly nice place in the show…
Oh...OH! The show that takes place 5 years from now… I guess that things would get better sometime after Smoker rolled into town, but what kind of sugar-free bullshit could happen around here until then?
"*Sigh*, well, if I'm going to be working in any establishment, might as well be in one run by that terrifying dude." At least until I can get my feet on the ground and start training myself up, or maybe start hunting for devil fruits.
I hope that they do on-the-spot hiring here… And that they don't review social security cards or birth certificates…
I took a step-*crunch!* "Hm?" a roll of paper had been blown down the street to find itself under my shoe. I picked it up but nearly dropped it once I saw the blood and fried rice clinging to it.
Gross… Must've been dropped by that guy.
I gingerly pinched it between two fingers, shook the clumps off, then unraveled it. It seemed to be made out of some thick, rough material like animal hide or papyrus.
"...A map?" It detailed the geography of a horseshoe-shaped island that had an X near the top of its arch. In the bottom left corner of the paper, I saw the island's general location highlighted on the globe, and in the bottom right corner was the compass. There was a sketch of a sea serpent off to the eastern coast.
Over the island's beach, someone wrote in hasty, scratchy handwriting the words, "Intruders beware…"
I deadpanned, hold on...That guy was carrying a damn treasure map? And not just any treasure map, a true to life Goonies, "Hunt at your own peril" map full of enigmatic clues and warnings too.
I turned to the mess of rice that had made a near-perfect imprint of the pirate's body on the street. A few seagulls had flown over to pick at the soiled food.
Was that guy a navigator, or a captain of some crew?
My stomach groaned like a dying cow in protest.
Right, food. Money. Need those. Probably doesn't matter anyway. Yoink.
I neatly folded the map, slipped it into my front pocket, then pushed my way into the bar.
First impressions of that mad lad's bar? Pretty cozy! The sign on the glass door leading in dubbed it the "King's Hall Tavern." The place was a fairly decent bar and grill type restaurant. Its sign had golden ivy wrapping around the letters of its name. The main serving area had a few thick, mahogany tables on the main floor. The sturdily built seats were lined with brass-studded red leather upholstery similar to thrones. It was a spacious enough place, but it was crammed to the doors with patrons drinking, talking, shouting, and even fighting in one case. The booths lining the edges of the seating area were filled with hunched over shiftier types talking in hushed voices.
A common theme among all of the guests there is that not even one of them gave a damn about the scene I just watched outside. Supposedly, stuff like that was common around here.
I eyed a person who was dunking a whole barrel of amber-colored booze down the throat of some hairy dude who had to be at least eleven feet tall.
It seems a little early in the day to be drinking like that, but hey, pirate town.
"*-ULP GULP GULP* AHHH! I'm telling ya I don't even feel it! I can drink this stuff forever, and I won't even… even…nneven,"*Whump* He slumped to the ground, out cold.
"Five barrels! It took five barrels, everyone!" The guy who was pouring the alcohol shouted. Wads of cash passed between the hands of onlookers, and the crowd surrounding him went back to nursing their own drinks.
"Welcome to King's Hall you lousy bastard!" I was greeted by the smiling face of a bulky dark-skinned man in an apron. Interestingly enough, he had pale green hair that he had styled into an afro. Comb and everything.
"It'll be about 2 hours until I can get you a seat!"
A drunken fighter socked his opponent across the jaw, sending him flying into a table. It subsequently fractured into splinters underneath his sudden weight.
"Erm...3 hours until I can get you a seat." His unnaturally wide grin seemed a little weaker at the statement.
"Oh, um….Actually, I'm here for a job. Hi, I'm Romeo." I held out my hand to shake.
He looked down his nose at me for a good two seconds," EY CARNE! WE GOT FRESH MEAT!" He ignored me to shout at a chef wearing sunglasses in the kitchen.
"JUST TELL THEM TO PUT IT IN BACK!"
"NO, NOT-ugh, WE HAVE A NEW EMPLOYEE!"
"Oh. SEND HIM TO TABLE 5, OUR OTHER NEW GUY GOT SHOT!"
"Sounds good. Here's an apron, and a notepad.-"
-"Numbers of the tables are labeled on those plaques. Kitchen is right there. (He pointed towards a saloon-style double door)
"Take their orders, put the tickets on the wheel, and bring them their food once the line cook rings the bell. Oh! Make sure that they pay afterwards. The cooks need help in the back, so that's where I'll be. If you're confused about anything or need someone shot in the leg, let me know." He clapped me on the back and disappeared behind the double doors.
Wow, not two seconds, and I got the job.-wait, do they have employee benefits here? What do I get per hour? Hell, when do I even get paid? I DON'T HAVE A BANK ACCOUNT! How do I get paid!?
I heard the voice of Jon come booming from behind the bar, "GET YOUR ASS TO WORK, ROOKIE!"
"Yessir!" I squeaked. That dude had one hell of a voice. He could drown out everyone else in the bar like it was nothing.
I slipped the apron around my waist, and rushed over to the disgruntled inhabitants of table 5."Hello, hello, and welcome to The King's Hall. What can I get for you today?" I smiled.
I may be terrified of everyone in this building, I may be lost in a new dimension, and I may be surrounded by unsavory individuals from all walks of life, but I will always hold on to the fact that I am a professional when it comes to the service industry.
I could give you the finer details of my twelve-hour shift at this madhouse, but that would take too long, and be a little boring, so I'll just give you the interesting bits.
"I'm telling you, she was a mermaid! Clear as day! She was as gorgeous as a thousand sunsets, her eyes were as clear as sapphires and her beautiful tail glimmered like the sun casting light off the ocean's waves. She was more beautiful than any treasure the seas could ever hold..." The sailor sighed dreamily into his mug, "If I could only see her one more time..."
The buddy to his right, however, didn't seem to agree. "Dugong. You fell in love with a Dugong."
"No, I didn't! She was a mermaid! It was obvious!"
"You need to get laid."
"You need to get your eyes checked!"
"It was fat, spotted and it had seaweed or something hanging off its head. I saw it too, you know."
"Not up close!"
"We were at sea for a few months, I get it. One tends to get a little blue in the balls, but come on, your denial is getting a little annoying."
"You know, I have tables to clear..." I was sat between them, apparently now a part of their feud.
"How about you settle it between us? Mermaid, or Sea Cow?"
"*sigh* I better get a reasonable tip for this…" The first thing you should know about pirates and sailors in this world? They tip terribly.
"I said, I need more information about this."
I held up one hand to the sailor on my right, "On one hand, merfolk exist, and can be just as common as fishmen in certain parts of the Grand Line,"
"HA!" He thumped his mug against the counter in victory,
I held up my other hand to the sailor on my left,
"On the other… Eeeeh, it is commonly thought that during long sea voyages sans contact with the opposite sex- well, people can start seeing lots of things as… a little too attractive to be healthy."
Well, that is the reasoning that psychologists give for the existence of mermaids in my world, at least…
"Thank you!" The other guy said in exasperation.
"So, for me to guess whether or not it was a Dugong, or a rather *ahem* THICK mermaid, then I would need to know where you were when you encountered them." I made a weighing of the scales motion with either arm, "Because, honestly? Either one of you could be right with the information I was given."
Somehow, the argument only got worse from there. The island that they had moored to get supplies was just skirting the edge of the calm belt (Close enough for a mermaid to swim through and find land), but it was also a known territory for Eastern prism dugongs (A colorful subspecies of the animal). They wound up getting thrown out by Jon when they started knocking over other guest's drinks in their argument.
Guess the world will never know...
It took an eternity, but the lovely people in the kitchen did end up cooking meals for the restaurant staff. Today, Carne, the chef who wore sunglasses indoors, had fixed up some beef curry for the crew.
"Get over here Rookie!"
Oh, sweet mercy of the universe, thank GOD.
"Thank youuu." I nearly wept. I had been on my feet for hours at that point, during which I had to force myself away from wolfing down other people's food multiple times.
Self-control: It's a gift and a curse.
I grabbed a ladle, heaped a large portion of rice in a bowl, then the delicious stew on top of it and began inhaling the food like a vacuum. It was everything a bowl of curry should be: rich, aromatic, spicy, and filled with well-portioned slices of tenderized beef, vegetables, and mushrooms. It was everything I could have asked for from this place and more.
"So, rookie, what spark of insanity drove you to this restaurant?" Carne asked from across the table. A few line cooks chuckled.
Well, honesty is the best policy, "I'm not from around here, I'm homeless, and I'm broke. Anything that keeps me busy, fed, and paid works enough for me." well, honest-ish. Don't need people thinking I'm crazy. I have a good idea of where that road leads.
Hell, for all I know, I'm already crazy, and this world is a product of my madness! But God knows that I don't want to touch that line of thought with a ten-foot pole.
"That so? You don't look too bad off to me." Patty said from behind his mouthful of curry.
A fair enough statement, my clothes were clean and untorn. I probably still smelled like soap and sandalwood from the shower I took that morning too. "It was a… recent development." I hedged.
"Aw...Well, as far as jobs go, this one is pretty crappy, but Big Jon will let you sleep here tonight if you agree to take care of the cleanup."
"AND STAY OUT!" *CRASH*
oof. There goes another window. Just when the first one was replaced too… "You know, maybe." Patty amended.
"Thanks anyway. I'll do my best until then." I'm no stranger to hard work, I had to juggle multiple jobs at a time just to keep myself in university freshman year. That was all while struggling to maintain a decent GPA. Somehow, working as a waiter in a bar where the patrons would rather shoot me than pay for the food doesn't seem as stressful.
"Can I get seconds?" I held up my empty bowl. I was going to need the energy for tonight.
The tavern was about as busy as it could get at this time of night. I had to push my way through a wall of humanity to take and deliver orders. Occasionally, I even had to wheel out whole 30 gallon kegs to people on a dolly. Patty had to come out of the kitchen to help keep the crowd under control, and there was a night shift guy named Alfonse who had come in a few minutes ago. Apparently, this place was open until 2 in the morning, so I still had yet to see the end in sight of my first shift.
It was around that time that I found myself at the point where things got fun. I don't know who started it, but someone began singing, and the rest of the restaurant pitched in to sing an energetic, yet oddly nostalgic song.
Gather up all of the crew!
It's time to ship out Bink's brew!
Sea wind blows. To where?
The waves will be our guide!
A sailor pulled a violin from nowhere, and began to play along with the rest of the bar,
O'er across the ocean's tide,
Rays of sunshine far and wide,
Birds they sing of cheerful things, in circles passing by!
People began to dance on the tables, their arms draped around the necks of drinking buddies and crewmates alike. The music picked up the pace, becoming even more energetic and lively.
Bid farewell to weaver's town!
Say so long to port renowned!
Sing a song, it won't be long, before we're casting off!
Cross the gold and silver seas
The salty spray puts us at ease!
Day and night to our delight,
The voyage never ends!
More people from across the bar pulled out instruments, Brass instruments, string instruments, the rest made a beat by slamming their mugs on the tables. One dude was wailing away on a harmonica in the corner. The bar continued to sing louder and louder, stomping their feet to the tune until their song seemed to be all that existed in this entire world.
Gather up all of the crew!
It's time to ship out Bink's brew!
Pirates we, eternally are challenging the sea!
With the waves to rest our heads,
ship beneath us as our beds!
Hoisted high upon the mast our Jolly Roger flies!
Somewhere in the endless sky,
Stormy winds are blowin' by!
Waves are dancing, evening comes,
It's time to sound the drums!
But steady men may never fear!
Tomorrow's skies are always clear!
So pound your feet and clap your hands till sunny days return!
Even the kitchen staff and I had begun to sing along. I forgot most of the words a long time ago, but there was no helping it. Not one person in the entire tavern had decided to stay quiet this night.
Gather up all of the crew!
It's time to ship out Bink's brew!
Wave good-bye, but don't you cry
Our memories remain!
Our days are but a passing dream, everlasting though they seem
'neath the moon we'll meet again, the wind's our lullaby!
The sound was awfully out of tune, but the joy, emotion, and heart that the song seemed to bring out of these sailors made it seem transcendentally beautiful.
Gather up all of the crew!
It's time to ship out Bink's brew!
Sing a song and play along
For all the ocean's wide!
After all is said and done,
you'll end up a skeleton!
So spread your tale, from dawn till dusk, upon these boney seas!
The bar exploded into cheers. If every night was like this, then I think that I'm really going to love this place…
That was all of the interesting stuff I had encountered that day. In between, it was pretty much the average double shift that I would take from any other restaurant (y' know, ignoring the fact that a handful of people threatened me with guns when I gave them the bill.)
I guess in some ways, no matter where I went, no matter how much was different in this world, there would be some things that always stayed the same. The sun rose in the east, then set in the west, people grew older, and the service industry would always kind of suck. Ce' la vie.
This was my thought process as I was nearing the final hours of my shift for today. I made about 2400 beri in tips tonight. (In American dollars, that's about $24.) to spend in my pocket. I had no clue what I made per hour, though. For all I knew, I made less than minimum wage for my efforts. I have no clue on what the structure of the economy looks like here, but Jon seems like an honest enough guy (outside of his terrifying temper.) I doubt that he would shortchange me when it comes down to it.
"At least I have a roof tonight…" I thought as I ran a mop over the alcohol-soaked floor. The drinking population of this town is a rowdy lot, to say the least. They wrecked the place. We had to carry the remains of two broken tables to the dumpster tonight, then board up the remains of the broken window to keep out the thugs after everyone had left.
After I was done with the floor, it was my job to take care of the remnants of tonight's dishes. It wasn't too bad all things considered. I just took care of what the busboys couldn't handle before they left. Mainly, a few pots, pans and assorted implements that the cooks left behind. When I was done with that, I put the chairs on top of the tables, wadded my apron up into a ball that can almost be considered a pillow, then curled up on the floor to try and find some sleep.
It took about an hour of me laying down on the floor to realize the fact that I couldn't fall asleep. The nervous energy and existential "What the fuck"-ery from this morning came booming back into my mind like a freight train crashing into a building.
What the hell even happened today, anyway? Now that I had a moment to relive everything in my thoughts, it felt like I ran away from something. Whatever it was, it had me so wound up, that it took me several minutes to even see straight again. Was I able to do this all along? That didn't make sense. I was never able to jump worlds before, I mean, come on, that stuff is impossible...
And yet, here I am, in a world where fish larger than aircraft carriers exist.
I shivered at the thought. Mouk's titanic remains were still a presence on my mind, especially now that I'm alone with my thoughts.
I'm not sure what's scarier, the fact that those things exist in bulk or the fact that there are people capable of taking them on alone.
It goes without mentioning that a great deal of those people are also dangerous criminals.
… Why did I even think that I could sail out onto the grand line again? I'm just a nobody who's only real applicable skill is being a friendly, service-oriented person. I can't slice through steel with a sword or punch with enough force to shatter concrete. I'm just a guy with average goals from a (comparatively) average world.
You can learn, though. A voice- small though it was whispered to me in my head,
"You're a college student. Most of your day is spent studying while fighting debt anyway. You can learn how to navigate across the ocean. Plenty of books have been written on the topic."
"You can find someone that can teach you how to fight. There are plenty of people that would know what to teach you."
"You have a TREASURE MAP right? Who knows what you'll find at the X? It could be enough gold to buy a fleet!"
Treasure map, huh…
I unfolded the grubby roll of paper I picked up earlier today. The mysterious horseshoe island seemed to taunt me with it's implied promise of hidden wealth. "I have no idea where this is, or how to get there…"
I can find out, though. Absolutely I could. I can visit the nearest library and see for myself where it is on the globe…
I could save up enough money to charter a ship…
I can rummage around for rumors of strange, swirly fruits…
I let out a heavy sigh.
But why should I? I never had the lofty dream of becoming a pirate king, or anything. Wealth, fame and power are what the One Piece supposedly promises, but I had no real desire for any of the above.
Wealth? I only ever wanted enough money to get me by. Fame? Pfft, god no. Power? Like what, the superpowers gained from devil fruits? I guess it would be a fun novelty, but most of what they were used for was fighting anyway… and I hate hurting people. Period. Can't do it. I turn into an uncontrollable shaky mess afterward. It happened after every stupid fight I've ever been in. It's seeing them cry that gets to me. I can't stand to see people like that, especially when I know I'm responsible.
My dad raised me to love water too, he was a champion swimmer when he was my age, and taught me what he knew himself. (even though I'll never be a third of the athlete that he was.) regardless, I don't like the thought of being unable to swim for the rest of my life, especially in this world.
Before I came here, I had a simple plan for life. I was focused on graduating, pursuing my chosen career, finding love and eventually growing old with my own family. Sure it was going to be hard. Life rarely just hands people stuff as special as that. At least it was a simple goal for life, though. I mean, people do it all the time! All those 7.5 billion people had to come from somewhere!
You're no longer just a simple person, though. Are you? Said the voice.
After warping to another world, hearing the final words of a man who died 15 years ago, and finding a treasure map on my first day?
I wouldn't sleep that night.
A/N: WOO! This chapter took forever to write. I only have Mondays and Wednesdays off, so it takes time to make progress on this thing. It's damn fun though! This is the first time that I've been able to make any tangible progress on a story, so it's a little bit of a personal triumph too.
Personally, I'm impressed with the positive reception so far. Thanks for the likes, follows and reviews everyone!
The story really starts picking up speed in the next chapter, so stay tuned!