Memory Returning! Little Garden's Shadow
Chapter XXI: Memory Returning! The Shadow Hiding in Little Garden
Z climbed the mast after saying goodnight to the boys. Sometimes she hates it when her motherly instincts take control. Z walked to the upper deck, where Merry's head is, and laid down. The sky is full of stars, the wind is cold, and the night is silent.
'The silent night is truly a rare gift to have. Wait…gift? Oh, yeah! I forgot about that.' Z thought, before sitting up and taking out the gift.
It was a long and heavy, wrapped in blue and green paper. The only thing written on the tag was her name. Z's curiosity was getting the better of her…again, so she carefully ripped the paper. Once the paper was off, she saw a box and a letter. Z picked up the letter and read it:
Z, it maybe sometime before you receive this gift but rest a sure, this will help you in battle. I presume you have been training on that island of yours with those creatures. We will meet again one day on the sea, my little songbird. Train hard, find adventure, and achieve your dream.
Z was confused, after she read the letter, because she don't remember being trained in anything other than self-defense by her brothers. She decided to open the box and when it was open, she gasped. Inside the box was…a beautiful sword. The cover was as white as snow with some silver music notes wrapper around it. The sword looks about the same length as one of Zoro's swords. It looks so fragile, that she didn't want to touch it, but her hands were already reaching for it. The handle was wrapped in a black fabric. When she grabbed the handle, a pain, similar to when Darkrai gave her those memories earlier today, returned. Z closed her eyes and suddenly…
"Uncle!" A little voice yelled.
A tall figure turned around and smiled at the little 4-year-old girl running up to him. He got down on one knee and hugged the girl when she got close. The little girl was wearing a light green dress that stopped just below her knees and a black long sleeve sweater; her dark brown hair was in a ponytail. The man patted the girl on the head and said,
"Hello, little songbird. Is your father back from his journey?" He asked, picking up the girl and carried her in his arms.
"No, not yet." The girl replied. "Hey…Uncle?"
"Um…I was wondering…if you could teach me how…to wield a sword." Z said, looking at anything but her uncle.
The man was surprised by the request but smiled and waited for his niece to continue before giving his answer.
"The reason I'm asking is because…well…Alex can use guns, Anthony can throw knives, and Ichigo knows archery. I want to protect my family and, in order to do that, I want to learn how to wield a sword. And since you're the best swordsman I know, I thought maybe…" Z said, mumbling at the last part.
The man smiled and chuckled before placing his niece back on the floor. This action made Z confused but she followed her uncle when he started walking. They walked in silence until they reached a small dojo. The man went in the dojo but came back out with a folded uniform and two bamboo swords.
"Go and change into this uniform. We will begin your training immediately." He said, handing her the uniform.
Z smiled and ran into the dojo to change. When she came out, she ran to where her uncle is and tackled him.
"Thank you, Uncle!" Z yelled, hugging her uncle's leg.
"Call me 'Master' when we are training. Alright, little songbird?" The man said, patting his niece's head.
"Alright, Uncle M- I mean Master." Z said, jumping back and ready to learn.
Z opened her eyes and gasped, shocked by the fact that her hidden memories were returning and that her uncle is…
"Miss Sorceress?" A voice said behind Z.
Z jumped and turned around. The person behind her was… "Vivi? What are you doing up? Shouldn't you be in bed?"
"I couldn't sleep." Vivi said.
"You're worried about Alabasta. Aren't you?" Z stated, while putting the sword and the box in her bag before standing up.
"…Is it that obvious?" Vivi asked, scratching the back of her neck.
"A little but…what princess wouldn't be worried about her kingdom?" Z said, walking over to Vivi.
"That's true. I thought some fresh air would help the stress." Vivi said.
"Well, since we're both up, you want something to drink? If you want, I can make you my special, homemade, stress-off tea." Z suggested.
"Sure." She said, walking with Z to the kitchen.
When they got there, Z de-activated the trap Sanji had installed to stop Luffy from stealing any food in the middle of the night. Once the trap was de-activated, Vivi sat down at the table while Z went to the fridge and the right ingredients for the tea. She placed the ingredients on the counter and heated up some water. After 5 minutes, the tea was ready. Z poured some in a cup and handed it to Vivi. She thanked Z while said pirate poured some for herself. They sat in silence for a while but it was broken when Vivi spoke up.
"Thank you." She said softly.
"Huh? For what, Vivi?" Z asked.
"For saving me from Mr. 5 and his partner and for helping me get back home. I never thought I get there on my own." Vivi said, as a small smile form on her face.
"No need to thank us, Vivi. To tell you the truth, Luffy would of said 'yes' anyway. Besides, you're with friends now so we'll protect you. And to quote a certain blond chief we both know…" Z started before standing up and walked over to stand next to Vivi. Z bowed and took Vivi's left hand. She brought the princess's hand up to her lips, looked up through her bangs, and said, "…'My dearest princess; I will personally make sure that you return to your kingdom safely and bring peace back to the land once more.' "
The girls stood still for a few seconds before they started laughing. Z let go of Vivi's hand and stood up while she smiled at the now smiling, and laughing, desert princess. Vivi kept laughing a little more than stopped. Z could tell that she needed something to laugh at, that's why she did that Sanji impression.
"What do you think of my Sanji impression, dearest, desert princess? Did it cheer you up?" Z asked, walking back to her seat.
"Yeah…it did, I needed that. You're really good at that. For a second there, I thought I heard his voice." Vivi said, drinking a little of her tea to calm down her laugh.
"That's because you did. I can change my voice to sound like anyone else's. I just hear my target's voice for a while than, after some practice, I can make an almost perfect impression of them." Z explained.
The girls stayed up for a little longer than Vivi was getting tired. She bid Z good night than went back to Nami's room to sleep. Z stayed in the kitchen for a little longer to wash the dishes. After she was done with that, she activated the trap again so Luffy doesn't get any of the food. Z left the kitchen and went to sleep on the deck. It wasn't that cold outside so she didn't need a blanket. Once she got in a comfortable position, she was out like a light. Unknown to Z, a certain swordsman came up on deck and watched Z sleep. After two minutes of watching the girl, Zoro picked Z up in his arms and carried her down to the guys' room so she can sleep on something more comfortable. But when he picked her up, Z, subconsciously, snuggled closer to Zoro's chest. This action caused the swordsman to stop in his tracks. He looked at the girl and heard her softly whispered, "So warm." Zoro blushed a little and laugh at that thought of Z, who is the mother of over 600 Pokémon, was acting like a kitten. He climbed down the ladder slowly, as to not to disturb Z, and walked over to an empty hammock. He gently laid her down in the hammock and covered her with a blanket. After that, he went back to his hammock to get more rest. But before he closed his eyes, he thought he heard Z softly whispered, "Thank you, Zoro-kun." The swordsman smiled and felt a small blush cover his cheeks before he fell asleep.
The waves were calm, the sky was clear of any rain clouds, and the crewmembers of the Straw-hat Pirates were relaxing. Luffy was looking at the sky, hoping that it might snow, Zoro was trying to sleep, Nami was in the kitchen, Usopp was working on something, Sanji was making some drinks, Vivi was looking at the sea, and Z was on her PSP, playing a stupid dating sim game that her friend got her.
"Huh? No snow…too bad." Luffy said.
"Snow in this climate?" Zoro asked, looking at Luffy with one eye.
"Sure, why not? It already happened once. You just missed it because you were asleep." Luffy explained. Than he looked at Vivi and said, "Hey. What about you? Do you think it's gonna snow?"
"I wouldn't rule anything out, but the sea you were in the first time it snowed was special. The seven magnetic fields that emit from Reverse Mountain tend to make things in particularly chaotic. But that doesn't mean you should relax your guard while sailing this waters. The odds of it being as wild as your first journey maybe small…but still, these waters aren't normal and their certain to hold surprises of their own. Remember, never underestimate the sea." Vivi explained.
Then Sanji came out, holding a tray of drinks, and said, "Hey, guys. Anyone care to sample my special drink?"
Luffy and Zoro jumped onto the deck and grabbed a drinking. They sat down, in a circle, enjoying their drink while Z was sitting in the far corner, playing her game. She didn't hear Sanji because of her headphones, but the moment she took off her headphones, she heard Vivi called the guys idiots. Z gave Vivi a look that said, 'I know they are, but they're our idiots' but Vivi ignored it because she was talking to Nami. Z, than, looked at the guys and smiled because they almost remind her of her brothers and cousins.
'I wonder how they're doing. I bet Alex is breaking hearts, Anthony is breaking something, Angel is breaking records with her dancing, and Ichigo is breaking records with his archery.' Z thought, before hearing Sanji spot a dolphin.
Z stood up and put her PSP away, along with her headphones, do to the fact that she needs both her hands to help steer the ship. After that, everyone started running and preparing the ship for the impact. She ran and helped Sanji with the ropes and then went to help Usopp tie up the sail. The giant dolphin jumped out of the water and dive back in, thus creating a giant wave to push the ship in the direction of the next island. Nami told then to steer port side. After that, they made it…to Little Garden. Everyone gathered on upper-deck to see the next island.
"There's no mistake. Cactus Island and this one here are definably pulling against each other." Nami said, checking the Log Pose.
Luffy was excited to get to the next island; or in his mind the second adventure. Z was leaning against the rails behind Zoro; lost in thought. But she was soon snapped out of it when Luffy asked her if there's going to be Pokémon on the next island.
"There might be. I can't tell from here but when we get closer to the island, and if I get a headache, then there's Pokémon." Z answered, already knowing that there will be Pokémon anyway.
"Miss Sorceress, I been meaning to asked." Vivi started, gaining the said pirate's attention. "But why do you battle the creatures? Surely there is a more reasonable way to get them to join you."
"It depends on the Pokémon, Vivi. If they want to fight, then we fight. I have no control over the wild ones that come at random." Z answered.
"But still…fighting won't solve anything." Vivi argued.
"I know that, princess. But sometime we have to pound some sense into them." Z said, but continued before Vivi could speak. "Look…once a Pokémon recognizes me as the Pokémon Protector, they might come peacefully or they want to prove their strength with a battle against another Pokémon."
When Z finished, Vivi looked like she wanted to continue arguing but decided against it. Z knows more about the creatures better then her. Z broke the silence by asking Vivi if she want her to do another impression. The princess thought about it but before she could answers, Luffy interrupted.
"What impression, Z?" Luffy asked, turning towards his second mate.
"I can do impressions. Last night Vivi was worried about Alabasta, so I cheered her up by doing a Sanji impression. When I was done, she started laughing." Z explained, gaining the rest of the crew's attention.
" 'Sanji impression?' What's that?" Usopp asked.
"It's when I change my voice to sound like Sanji's. And, if I want to, I do movements to match to what I'm saying. Besides…" Z said, before placing a hand on her heart, while bowing, and changing her voice, " '…if it amuses our desert princess and our beautiful navigator, then it is my job to entertain them.' " Z stood up and walked over to Nami and took her hand. The singer kissed the navigator's knuckle, softly, before saying, " 'We are extremely lucky to have you as our navigator, Nami-chan. I bet we wouldn't of made it this far without you…my sweet tangerine blossom.' " Z let go of Nami's hand and winked at her before walking over to Vivi. Unknown to Z, Nami blushed at the nickname and the guys stood there; shocked by the fact that Z was able to make Nami, the woman who can knock them out with just one hit to the head, blushed. When Z was next to Vivi, who was frowning and looking down, she raised her right hand and cupped Vivi's chin, to make the princess look at her. Z smiled, sweetly, and said, " 'There's no need to frown, Vivi-san. A frown doesn't go on such a cute face like yours. Please, princess, smile…for me.' " Vivi did as she was told and smiled for the pirate, with a small amount of blush appearing on her cheeks. Z saw this and smirked, " 'There. See, you look beautiful, my little desert flower.' " Z let Vivi go and walked away from the rest, turned around, and said, " 'On the next island, I will protect you from any danger that will appear.' "
The crew was silent, than they started laughing. Luffy and Usopp were clapping their hands while laughing, Nami and Vivi were giggling and commenting that it was like him, and Zoro was just laughing. Sanji was the only one who wasn't laughing, but he did smile when he realized that Z got his 'prince' act right. Z looked at her laughing crew and smiled.
"Sorry, Sanji. I wasn't trying to make fun of you." Z said, frowning a little when she saw the sad smile on the cooks face.
"It's alright, Z-san. I know you didn't mean it." Sanji said, walking over and petting her head. "But I'll forgive you under one condition."
"What condition?" Z asked, tilting her head on confusion and making Sanji stop petting her.
"I'll forgive you…if you teach me how to flirt like that." Sanji said.
"You…want me…to teach you…how to flirt?" Z repeated, even more confused.
"You were able to make Vivi-san and Nami-chan blushed. I've been on the crew longer and, so far, I never got that effect from Nami-chan. Please teach me the way, Z-san." Sanji said.
Z sighed and pulled out her PSP. While she was changing the games she said, "To tell you the truth Sanji, I don't know anything about flirting. I just stole those lines from these dating sim games my friend Rick always plays." After she finished, she handed the portable game system to the cook and continued, "Dating sim games are self-explanatory. All you have to do is choose a girl, make decisions and hope they're the right ones, keep her happy, and make her, slowly, fall in love with you."
Sanji looked at the PSP and pressed a button. He looked confused but got the hang of it. He read the first thing and typed in his name; after that he read the prologue but got confused half way through. Z explained the story to him and the characters. Basically, the story is that you work at a hotel as a butler and you broke a statue that would be sold at auction. So instead of the statue…you are being sold in its place. You choose one of five girls to be owned and you slowly start to get feelings for her and vise versa. Each girl has two endings, so choose wisely.
The cook, plus the sharpshooter and captain, looked at the system and started the game. Luffy and Usopp wanted to play but Z told them that Sanji is learning something from the game and that they can play another fighting game later; after they explore the island. At the mention of the island, Luffy ran over to the rails and looked at the island. The said island had large plant life; despite its name.
"I can see why they call it 'Little Garden'" Luffy said, looking at the forest.
"I can't. What's little about it?" Zoro commented.
"Yeah. This island looks pretty harsh if you ask me. Why the cute name?" Nami asked.
"Y-y-yeah. It looks like a jungle out there. Maybe we'd be of skipping this one." Usopp said, shaking with fear.
"We have to be careful. I can't help but remember the warning Miss All-Sunday gave us." Vivi commented.
"But your luck gets even worse, because of the direction your Log Pose is indicating. You see." At this point, Nami looked at the Log Pose around her wrist than Miss All-Sunday continued, "The name of the next island…is Little Garden. We won't even need to lift a finger. You'll all be dead before you could reach Alabasta."
"So, what? We might be attacked by giant monsters?" Usopp asked, paranoid.
'Giant…yes; monsters…maybe not.' Z thought, while Luffy answered with a 'who knows' reply.
"Listen, I'm sure we can get to the next island without going ashore on this one." Usopp commented.
"The only way to reset the Log is to go ashore." Nami replied.
"Not to mention we're in dire need of restocking our food supply. We didn't get so much as a sack of flour in the last town." Sanji said, handing Z her PSP while adding, "I'll continue my lesson later, Z-san."
"Okay." Z said, putting the game system in her bag and turned to see the giant jungle.
"Guys. There's our ticket in." Zoro said, pointing at a river cutting through the island.
"Think they have a barbeque restaurant here?" Luffy asked, randomly.
"WE DIDN'T TRAVEL ALL THIS WAY FOR BARBEQUE!" Sanji yelled.
While Sanji was explaining that they need food supplies, Z stood back grabbed her head. When the conversation switched from food to the plant life of the island and to Usopp yelling that they shouldn't step off the ship, a loud screeching was heard through the air. The sound didn't affect Luffy, Zoro, or Sanji but it did affect Nami and Usopp. Sanji told them that it was only a bird but he didn't know that the bird was flying straight to him. Luckily, he ducked right in time. After that, a volcano erupted in the distance. The sound of the eruption scared Nami and Usopp but had no affect on the monster trio.
"That sounded like a volcano erupting! We're all going to die!" Usopp yelled.
"We're not going to die, Usopp." Z said, softly but no one heard her.
Than, out of nowhere, a mammoth tiger came out of the jungle and followed at the ship. The tiger's appearance scared Nami and Usopp but suddenly it collapsed.
"What? Luffy, what just happened? I know normal. This is definably not it." Nami said, looking at the dead tiger. Than turned around and said, "Someone explain to me how a mammoth tiger could just collapsed, covered in blood?"
Usopp was just nodding his head than yelled, "Log Pose and food be damned! We're not stepping foot on that island! And that's final!"
"We can still reset the readings from the ship. We'll just sit tight until then." Nami said.
"Right." Usopp agreed.
"When that's done, we leave and never look back. Yeah, right. We'll all just stay…here." Nami said, still a little scared.
"Um…Nami. Not to go break the plan or anything but…I…have to go on the island." Z said, with her back to the navigator and sharpshooter.
"And why's that, Z? You're not leaving here. " Nami said.
"Are you crazy! Something out there killed that tiger!" Usopp added.
"Well…you see." Z started as she turned around. When she faced the navigator and sharpshooter, she opened her eyes and the four 3-D arrows appeared in front of her. "Pokémon alert."
Nami and Usopp were shocked and scared. They both know that when there's a Pokémon on an island then Z has to go and no one can stop her. They tried to reason with her but she just ignored their bickering, walked over to the rails, where everyone else is, and said, "Locating Pokémon… … …Pokémon located. Total number of Pokémon: 4."
Z leaned in a little, to get a closer look and the arrows turned into a scope. When the scope zoomed in on the Pokémon, Z gasped. She closed her eyes and shook her head. The other looked at her confused but she told them not to worry. While Z was calming down, Luffy asked Sanji to make him a pirate lunch because he wants to go on an adventure before they get to leave. Vivi asked if she could go with him and Luffy said yes. Z decided to stay on the ship for a little while before she gets the new Pokémon. After Luffy, Vivi, and Carue left, Zoro got bored and decided to go for a walk. Sanji stopped Zoro to ask him to get some meat if he stumbles upon something edible.
"Alright. I could see why you send me cause I could bring back something you couldn't catch yourself." Zoro said, before walking off.
"WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN!" Sanji yelled, making Zoro looked back at him. "I won't let that remark go unchallenged. You're saying that you could catch bigger game than I can. Like my hunting skills are inferior?" Sanji continued.
"Yeah, that's right." Zoro said.
The two glared at each other but before Sanji could jump off the ship, Z looked at them from her spot and said, "Hey, mind if I join? It sounds like fun." The two looked at her, confused. But before they could get out a remark, Z continued, "I hunted all the time back on my island and as a little kid. Beside, the new Pokémon are sleeping and I don't want to disturb them right now. This will keep me busy."
"I'm sorry Z-san, but this contest is only for men." Sanji said, trying to let her down easy.
"…Are you two scared that you might lose at hunting to an 18-year-old girl?" Z asked, crossing her arms.
"I'm not scared of losing. Fine, you can join. But you better not get killed." Zoro said, letting his pride take over.
"Alright." Z said, before jumping off the ship with Sanji. Than before they went their separate ways Z asked, "How about we make this game a little more…interesting, boys?"
That got their attention because once those words left her mouth, they turned towards her. Z smiled and said, "If, somehow, you two ended up in a tie and beat me, I'll grant each of you one wish."
"You can grant wishes?" Zoro asked, confused but was interested by the change of events.
"Pokémon, remember? One of the Legendaries is the Wish Pokémon." Z replied before continuing. "If I beat both of you, than both of you have to watch over two Pokémon for me…each. And if one of you wins…um…I'll be the winner's maid for a whole 24 hours. Deal?" Z put out both her hands to shake there's, if they agree with the terms.
Zoro and Sanji both stood still; they were letting their brains process the deal. Before anyone could say anything, they both shook Z's hands than ran into the forest to get their prey. Z just stood there, wondering what the hell happen in the last five seconds. She shrugged her shoulders then walked back to the ship, where Nami and Usopp were standing looking at Z with shock. Once the second mate jumped on the ship and saw her crewmates' expressions, she asked what's wrong.
"Are you really going to be the winner's maid for a whole day?" Nami asked.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't know I said that until after they agreed. So either they end up in a tie or I win is better. Besides, I rather die than wear a maid's outfit." Z said, looking at the forest.
"Why are you here instead of hunting like them?" Usopp asked.
"You two rather be left alone here on the ship, where a creature could come out at any minute and attack?" Z asked, sarcastically while crossing her arms and slowly turn her head to face them.
They both shook their heads then sat down, muttering to themselves. After a few minutes of sitting and Z standing, Nami remembered something and ran inside with Usopp following right behind her. It was silent, just like Z likes it.
Sanji was silently walking looking for something big and edible to bring back to the ship. He wanted to get something big so that he can beat Zoro and get Z to be his maid for a day. Honestly, Sanji was just going to ask Z to teach him more of those dating sim games she showed him earlier. He wants to find the secret to a woman's heart. But in the middle of his search, he felt like something was following him. Sanji ignored it and continued walking, but stopped again when something wet landed on his hair. He flicked it off before turning around to see a T-Rex. The T-Rex attacked Sanji but he dodged it before giving a kick to the chin. But that wasn't going to stop the dinosaur alone because it got up, shook its head, and growled at Sanji. The cook was just standing there but when he saw the dinosaur about to attack, he said, "You're a rude son of a bitch."
Sanji ran towards the T-Rex and jumped into the air when it tried to bite him. In the air, Sanji came down and landed a hard kick on the dinosaur. Thus making the T-Rex's head crash into the ground. After Sanji knocked the dinosaur out, he jumped on its back and sat down to enjoy his smoke. But then he had a sudden sense that Nami needs him.
Zoro was silently walking looking for something edible to bring back to the ship. He wanted to get something big so he can beat Sanji. At first that was the plan, but when Z mention that she will be the winner's maid for a day…well…he has to win. In the middle of his walk, he saw something glitter in the grass. He walked over to it and saw a small stone. Zoro picked it up and looked at it in different angles. The stone was light purple with a dark purple design inside. For some reason, Zoro felt like he should give it to Z. After all, she did get those Water stones from the Froakie siblings and she was happy when she got them. Zoro put the stone in his pocket and continue searching for something edible. After two minutes of walking, his mind started wondering what Z's reaction might be when he gives it to her later. He thought she would be happy to see it and hug him. Or better yet…
Zoro's thoughts were cut short when he saw a Triceratops. He didn't know what it was suppose to be but Zoro was guessing it was edible. He looked at the dinosaur in front of him and said, "We both use Three Sword Style."
The Triceratops just leaned back and ready to attack. Zoro took out his swords and got into a stance. They both faced each other, than Zoro ran towards it. After Zoro attacked, he appeared behind the dinosaur. He put his swards away and when the last sward was put away, the Triceratops fell over, unconscious.
[Back at the Ship]
"This is bad. This island…" Nami said.
"What? What's wrong, Nami?" Usopp asked.
"Um…guys. We have company." Z said, pointing at the huge figure in front of them.
Nami slowly turned towards the direction Z was pointing while Usopp gasped. Than both Nami and Usopp screamed, while Z stood there, covering her ears. Their scream was loud enough to send some birds flying. When they stopped screaming, Nami dropped the book. Z looked at the book and picked it up. She read the part that said, 'To those who reside here and call this island home, it must seem as if they have stumble upon their very own private garden. Thus I name this wonders, terrifying place…Little Garden. – Louis Arnot, Explorer.'