Chapter 14: The Plans go hand in hand with Cheshire Smiles
"That's the stupidest plan I have ever heard."
"It's not stupid."
"It is- OW! Stop hitting me!"
"I'll stop hitting you once you understand that my plan is foolproof."
"… I still like my idea better…"
"You mean your idea where we walk up to him and kill him? If we do that there is a 100% chance that you will die."
"I WON"T DIE! What about you? You'll die too!"
"No I won't."
"Yes you will!"
"I won't die because I would use my devil fruit powers, runaway and hide."
Don't be a Coward! Be a Warrior!"
"Cowards live at the end of the day while Warriors die at the end of the day. I would rather run away from my problems for the rest of my life if it meant that I could live to the next day!"
"COWAR-wait, you have a devil fruit power? What is it?"
"I'm not telling you."
"You ate the 'I'm not telling you' fruit? What kind of powers do you have with that devil fruit?"
"That's not my devil fruit! I just meant that I won't tell you what my devil fruit is."
"You didn't tell me your devil fruit so why should I tell you mine?"
"Well… I don't really like to use it a lot because it's no fun killing your enemy right away, right?"
"Your power is tha-wait don't open the door yet!"
"Why not? I'm just going to go out there and kill h- Waa! OW!" Cataria tackled me to the ground and puts me in a headlock.
"LET ME GO!"
"Not until you say that you'll follow my plan!"
"… Ughh, fine…"
Cataria hesitated for a second but then she released her hold on me and removed her form off my body. She walks over to the door and she opens it for me. She places her index finger on her mouth, trying to indicate that I have to be quite.
I walk out to the corridor and I look down at the ground floor to see that Asura still down there. He's sitting on the dining table humming a tone while pulling out the teeth of the dead man. I watch as he extracts the teeth with only his fingers and then he takes a small tool and drill a hole in the side of each tooth he extracted. Once he's sure he has all the teeth out he looks at them all 32 of them, he expects them with a connoisseur eye and he determines that about half a dozen of them don't meet his liking and he throws them across the room. When he throws them across the room they don't just hit the wall and gravity wraps them up in her arms and guides them back to Earth, oh no, gravity doesn't even have a chance to see the teeth as they soar though the air and impale the wall. Were I'm standing about… maybe 20 feet above the Cannibalistic Pirate, I can't see the teeth that have been rejected; they are so far inside the wall that even with my sharp and calculating eyes I can't see them. Unknowingly my eyes travel back to Asura and I see him still humming while gathering up all the teeth that he deems acceptable in one dish. I'm captivated by how sick and animalistic he is. I'm so bewitched by him that when I feel my left bicep being held, my body reacts. I feel a cold chill run up my spine and I spin on my heels until I see who has just grabbed me. The first person who I think that might have just grabbed me would be Asura but I'm presently surprised to see a set of grey cat eyes as I turn my body. I release a breath that I didn't expect to be holding and before I know it Cataria is dragging me off down the hallway. I steel my nerves and I look at Asura again, he's putting all his favorite teeth onto a string. As we turn a corner I have this sickening feeling that if I fought him right now I would die and he would get my devil fruit powers.
My face contacts into a sinister scowl. That bastard took my hat and if he thinks that he's going to take my devil fruit powers then he's mistaken. He might have possession of one Hatter family heirloom but he won't have the one that's been in my body for over 10 years and he will pay severely for even wearing my hat.
I'm to distracted with my hatred for Asura that I didn't pay attention to where Cataria was guiding me and the next thing I know we're in a room that has about a dozen boxes in it. Cataria is digging through a chest right now looking for the tools that she thinks we need to pull off her stupid plan.
"W-what the fuck was he doing?" I demand.
Cataria looks over her shoulder at me, briefly stopping herself from searching for something which I'm oblivious too. "His ritual."
Ritual? What does that mean? Wait, that means that he's done this before so-
Cataria looks at me for about ten seconds then her attention returns to her search. "You seem smart so I thought you might have figured it out sooner."
"Sorry but my heads full of madness instead of actual brains. I took them out a couple of years ago; they took up too much room."
Cataria halts her actions once again and she looks over her shoulder at me again, she heaves a heavy sigh this time instead of instantly having a comeback for my comment.
"I should have known that you would say something like that, after all you are a Hatter," and there's her snide counter verbal attack.
I lean against a wall that's opposite to were Cataria is on her knees digging through a chest that's about the size of a young kid's toy box. I narrow my eyes at her, why does she keep talking about my family? What connection does she have to my late kin?
She scoffs, "Asura has many rituals for his food. Recently he doesn't kill them himself anymore so his captain or whoever sends over dead bodies once a week and everyday Asura comes to the dining room and preforms his… ritual. His ritual changes for each body he has but most of the time he still does the same things over and over again. As you saw before he always goes for the heart first, then he takes his food's teeth and he makes a necklace out of the teeth-"
"W-WHAT?! W-why the teeth? Wh-a, How-", I'm speechless. But I know I shouldn't be. I just saw him eat a human heart with my own eyes!
"That's not all," she explains.
I should have known. Someone who makes a necklace out of his… foods' teeth wouldn't stop there. No, he would just have to do other sickening and repulsive acts.
"He takes his foods-"
"Can you please don't call them his… food," I request.
Cataria stops her search for the second time; I bet she's getting fed up with my constant interruptions when she's willing to help me… even if it's going to benefit both of us but, "I know you might have become numb to his tactics of… feeding, and I know I would have if I've been here for two months too however," for the first time since we've entered this room Cataria turns around and looks at me, "that Cannibal might view those humans as nothing else besides food but to me… they are still people. And they deserve to be respected even when there're dead." Cataria gives me a look which I can't place, but I see something inside her come down, just a little bit. It's as if she separated herself from everything by placing a hundred foot high brick wall in front of herself, to try and mask her emotions and right now it seems, at least to me, that I just took down a foot of bricks from her wall.
"You Hatters always know what to say at the right time, don't you?" she whispers so low that my sharp ears can barely hear what she just spoke.
I give her a hard look, "What does that mean? You never met another Hatter besides me before today, the only chance that you might have met one was before I was born and then you would've been like a year old then and you wouldn't have remembered my Dad. So why do you keep on mentioning my family as if you've known them since the day you were born?"
Cataria stand up with the tool which she thinks we need for her plan and she faces me. "It's true that I've never personally met someone from your bloodline but I have heard stories about your family and especially your father since the day I was born." She adjusts her equipment in her arms and she walks past me to the door. "My arms are currently preoccupied, so could you open the door for me and then I'll lead you the rest of the way."
I can tell by her body language, her voice and something that I just can't put my finger on that she knows that I want to know more but she won't tell me right now. I don't think she's not going to tell me right now because she's trying to hurt me… but more on the lines that she knows that this isn't the appropriate time and place to talk about this and we have something more important to do right now.
I give Cataria a sharp nod and I open the door for her. As she passes by me I can see on her face that her mouth is entertaining a smile. I can't place what the smile means but it takes up half her face and it seems all her teeth are visible through her smile. I can only describe her smile as a Cheshire cat smile.
Cataria leads me all around the Mansion, we go: left, right, up, down, and sideways. In the end I have no idea how we end up outside and Cataria stops in front of something. I can't tell what it is because it's covered in a tarp and branches are masking its form; all I can tell is that it's huge and it must be a secret because if it wasn't why would it be hidden? Cataria drops what she was cradling in her arms and she moves towards the large form and she brushes off the branches, then she turns her head towards me with her Cheshire smirk dancing on her lips.
"Please tell me this isn't a part of your stupid plan," I plea.
"I hope you have some muscles in those scrawny arms of yours Hatter," then Cataria wisps the tarp off of the large figure and I know for certain now that Cataria's plan was notstupid… it seems to be more like a suicide plan.
I gawk at the figure. "Is that…"
Cataria walks over to me and she claps one of her hands on my shoulder, "That my dear and sweet Hatter is Moai's head. And with him we will kill Asura."
Cataria releases my shoulder and she walks back to Moai's head and she fastens the ropes that she brought with her around the gigantic head… wait. I point at the statures head and then back to Cataria. "Do… you… wh-, wait hold on a second! Do you want me to carry that head! It has to weigh a couple of tons… at least!"
Cataria kicks the ground and instead of seeing dirt fly in the air I hear a mat being kicked. Then she looks up at me, "you aren't going to carry this thing; don't be silly. We'regoing to pull this thing back to the place where its body is." Cataria finishes wrapping the ropes secretly around the stone statue's head and she hands one rope to me.
This is my chance; I could grab the rope and continue on with her suicidal plan or… I could just run back inside and grab my hat and leave this island…but if I do that wouldn't that make me a hypocrite? I mean I told Cataria that she should be a Warrior and face her problems earlier instead of running away and hiding like a Coward. If I runaway right now I'll become that coward; Draucle always told me that if I heard so much as a word about a Death Pirate then I should leave that island. I could help Cataria with her plan… or I could listen to Dracule's advice.
"Come on Hatter, we have to get going before Asura comes."
I look up at Cataria's face and I still can't tell what the hell she's thinking. But I can tell in her grey cat eyes that she needs me.
"Cataria… your plan is stupid, idiotic, somewhat of a suicide plan-"
"Hey! I know wh-"
"Any normal human would turn and run away from you and this island." A smile hugs my face, "however; I'm not normal, or really rational. I'm crazy, I don't know when to back down from a fight, I have psychopathic tendencies from time to time and I live life by my own rules. So right now my gut's telling me that I should follow you, but my head's screaming at me, telling me that I'll end up killed if I follow you."
Cataria crosses her arms, "so Madeline Hatter, what are you going to do? Follow your head or follow your gut?"
"… Give me that rope and if I die I'm going to haunt your ass until your dead too." Cataria hands me the rope and off we go following her stupid, idiotic and suicidal plan.
"… I kinda liked your old plan better…"
"My old plan was full of holes. I'm happy I came up with such a purr-fect plan so soon!"
"This one's more stupid than your last plan, you know that."
"No its not."
"Yes it is!"
"No its Not!"
"Your last plan was to get a fishing pole and sneak up on that Cannibal Bastard. With the fishing pole we would've lowered it and the hook would catch on my hat, then we would reel in my hat. After that we would've gotten my hat back and then fought him; it was going to be a win-win… but it did seem kinda stupid and crazy, although the odds seem better with that plan than with this plan."
"The problem with that plan was that we would've had to fight Asura on his turf and he would've had the advantage. In every fight we need as much of an advantage as we can get, especially with a Death Pirate as our enemy. And with this plan we have an advantage! We take this statue's head-"
"Moai is the statue's name."
"… We take Moai's head and put it on his body. When we do that this island will revive, Asura will find out that something happened and come in the forest and see what happened. With the vegetation back we can hide easier and then we can ambush him. When we ambush him you take your hat, then we fight and kill him."
I halt my movement and I look ahead. Cataria stumbles a bit, surprised that I halted our movements and she glares at me. "What is it this time?! This is the third time you wanted to stop?!"
"I just realized that I'm 18 now, not 17."
Cataria scrunches up her face, "what the hell are you talking about? Is today your birthday or something?"
"No, I just remembered what the island's old geezer told me."
Cataria releases her hold of the ropes and she sits down on a nearby rock. "It seems like you're going to go on a crazy rant about something absurd, so why should I waste my time holding onto that rope and wasting my energy when we aren't going to be moving for a few minutes." She crossed her legs and folders her arms under her chest, "so I'm all ears; why are you a year older now?"
I follow Cataria's lead and I release my hold of the ropes, but instead of sitting down on a rock I stay standing and my gaze is locked with the dead trees in the horizon of the forest we are in. "After I woke up from my fall the island's old geezer told me the story of this island and he explained how before I came here this island was terrorized by pirates and then 10 'cycles' ago Gol D. Roger came and defended this island. I kinda tuned out the rest of his story, but I know that that," I point to Maoi's head, "that guys special to the natives and the least I could do is put him back together." I look Cataria straight in the eye, "then the old geezer went on to explain how Asura terrorized this island and he tried to fight him and he lost, and Asura now has the old geezer's devil fruit powers. From his story I just learned that Gol D. Roger protected this island, the people here think that I can help and they count every cycle as a year. So one of the natives said that I saw sleeping for a full cycle, and I think that means that I was sleep for a full year-"
"Did you eat anything or drink anything from the natives?"
"Um… yeah, one of them gave me a soup. I think it had a potato or a fruit in its name, wait is a potato a fruit or a veg-" Cataria leaps off the rock and she comes right in my face. She places both of her hands on my cheeks and she stares me down. I can feel her sharp nails imply pressure on my cheekbones and all I can see are her grey cloudy cat eyes. I can't even see the ground; my whole vision is blocked by her eyes.
I blink a few times trying to grasp reality again, and when I do I raise one of my eyebrows up; trying to silently ask her what the hell are you going? I'm not sure if she understands because after I asked her my silent question her face inches closer and closer, all I can see is her eyes examining my face. Finally after our noses are less than millimeters away from touching Cataria backs away and drops her arms away from me.
"Hmmm, it seems that you're not infected…"
I move my palms of my hands up to my cheekbones to see if she broke my skin or left any marks, "what the hell do you mean by infected?"
Cataria looks at me with hesitation but then she releases a sigh. "It's kind of a long story, so you should sit down," she sits down on the same rock she occupied earlier and she pats a space next to her. I do as she asks and I sit down next to her.
"You see… my Dad is a Bounty Hunter. I've always looked up to my Dad when I was growing up and I wanted to be just like him, so I set out to sea with that goal in mind. I wanted to-"
"You wanted your first catch to be someone who had a huge bounty, like in the hundred millions. You didn't want to start out small and then work your way up to the big leagues, right?"
Cataria looks at me with widened eyes, "Y-yeah, how did you…" as if a light bulb just popped in her head she seemed to have answered her own question. With that realization she composes herself and clears her throat. "So you get the gist of what I wanted so, with that idea sprouted in my mind I went off to find a pirate who had a huge bounty and I happen upon-"
"Asura," we say in unison. We looked at each other with what I could decipher understanding between us.
"So after I found Asura I snuck on his ship and I observed him for a few weeks, I like to understand my pray before I capture them, but that all changed when we landed here."
Then realization hit me, "wait, that would mean that-"
"I was here when Asura killed, terrorized and destroyed this island." She places her hands behind herself for support as she leans back and looks up into the thunderous dark abyss above us. "I know I should have helped them but I was too scared after what I saw him do to that group of men." She shuts her eyes as if she's experiencing that memory right now and she's trying to shield herself from the pain and terror that she remembers. "I'm only telling you this because you need to know that those locals aren't normal… at least now they aren't normal. While Asura was terrorizing the locals I saw him cut open his arm and dipped it into their water system. His blood tainted their water and in less than a day they started to act… weird. They started to lose track of time and they started having delusions about their statue and 'Savior-sama' coming. I later learned that it seems like Asura's blood has some type of mind control, or at the very least it messes people up mentally."
"And when I told you that I ate some soup they gave me, you freaked out because I might become like the locals here? I'm already a nut job; I don't think this world could handle me being any more messed up in the head."
A chuckle slips past Cataria's lips with my last comeback. I smile at her and for the first time since I've met her I see a smile tug at the edges of her lips. "You know that makes a lot more sense because they did seem a little weird with calling me their 'Savior-sama'. At least I know now that I didn't sleep for a whole year… now that I think about it, if I was asleep for a full year I would wake up smelling horrible, my hair would be a crow's nest, I would be over due on a shaving and I would have no energy because I wouldn't have had my tea for 365 days… oh my god, I'm scared just thinking about that; no tea!"
Another set of chuckles leaves Cataria's lips and after her little laughing fits end she stands up and goes over to the statue and picks up the ropes again. "I think we've wasted enough time with that little chitchat; I think it's about time for us to hit the road again."
I lay completely horizontal on the rock as I stretch my body. "Ughhh… do we have to? I say we rest for a few hours and take a little cat nap, what do you say? We-"
"You come over here and help me pull this thing back to where it belongs or else I'm going to walk over there and hit you again," Cataria demanded.
I jump off the rock, and I pick up my set of ropes to drag Moai's head back to its body. "Ready to go when you are Sir!" I spoke in a fake peppy voice.
Cataria snorts and we continue on our way, hoping that this stupid plan works and all this time isn't spend for nothing.
… Cataria's plans; the first one and even this one are both stupid. When we get to Moai's body we drop our ropes and we walk over to his body, and we just stare at it. The problem which we're facing right now is that: what the hell are two young women going to get a 2 or 3 ton statue's head up in the air and back onto its body. We have this problem because of the simple fact that Moai's body is about quadruple my size… maybe even more, and some idiot (Cataria) failed to think ahead that since the head is so big then the body is going to be equally proportioned to the head.
"… That thing is big than what I thought it was going to be," I comment.
"…That's what she said…"
I look over to my left and I see Cataria's Cheshire smirk on her face. "What the hell does that mean?!" and I flare my arms in the air.
"Oh sweet little Hatter, you really are too innocent for your own good."
I narrow my eyes at Cataria, so what? I bet it's nothing important anyway…
"Ooohhh, what a pleasant surprise!"
My body goes rigid. I slowly turn around and I see Asura, one of the most powerful pirates from the Death Pirates crew staring at me with a feral look on his face. He has blood dripping down his chin and the little droplets that manage to escape him fall off him and explode into a blood stain on the ground. As I look up into his face I can tell that he's really not looking at me… I follow his gaze and I see… I swiftly cross my arms over my chest. Fucked up Cannibal Perverted Bastard was gawking at me! My face wants to scrunch up into a snarl but I stop my muscles from complying with my emotions. I look to my left expecting to see a terrified Cataria by my side but when I look I see… nothing. There's only the ground and air in the space that was previously occupied by Cataria.
My head travels back to Asura and in the background; in a nearby tree behind Asura I see teal. I focus my eyes on the color and I see Cataria Cheshire sitting in the tree kicking her legs back and forth. Once she notices that I see her she gives me a fake and mocking salute, and then her body turns invisible and the only thing that I see left of Cataria is her Cheshire smirk, but soon that disappears as well and I'm left alone with this Fucked up Perverted Cannibal.
I frown. That bitch made me do all this work while I'm going through tea withdraws and she ditches me once she sees trouble coming. What a real reliable person she is, I even thought about asking her if she wanted to join my crew! But no way in hell am I going to ask her that now.
I form my face into a neutral expression and I look back at the Cannibal standing three yards away from me. And he's still looking at my chest…
"Why hellooo there sweetheart! It's a pleasure to meet you!"
I have this sickening feeling that he didn't tell that to me, especially with the way he's looking at my chest, it's the same way he looked at the dead guy's body on his dining table and if I remember correctly Cataria did say that he preferred women over men… nope, he definitely did not tell that to me; he told that to my fucking Heart.