"Days without land..." He thought, rising and falling atop the ocean's gentleness. His lowered eyes watched white clouds shadow the world. "I wonder how far I've gone this time?" Salazar sighed. He turned over in his small rowboat, which he named Señor HappyFace, and closed his eyes completely. "I"m so hungry I can eat a Sea King...My oar!" He exclaimed, jumping up with a burst of life. He maniacally searched the small boat for the oar, sporadically tossing his belongings around but stopped at blurry memory of a weird yet vivid dream he had.
Storm clouds. Thunder. Waves that towered over buildings. A giant monster rising above the waves. Almost without a second thought, he grabbed a wooden stick and combatted the inhuman challenger. Victory! yet the demon of the sea managed to steal his weapon before swimming off.
"This sucks." Salazar mumbled.
He jolted towards the side of his personal boat in an attempt to peer into the vast and empty sea. Squinting behind such small glasses created a rare occurrence of seriousness on his visage. "Someone's coming."
Three hours had passed before even the slightest sign of a Marine flag climbed over the horizon. By then, Salazar was already waving his white cloak in the air for assistance. "Let this be a patrol ship...let this be a patrol ship." Salazar prayed. And joyed he was when he saw the low ranked officers manning the ship. Once they came to a full halt, the man of black skin climbed up their ladder after tying his small rowboat to their ship.
"Who are you?" The captain asked. "Are you a pirate or a passerby? Don't look like a marine."
"I'm-" Salazar started.
"What happened?" A young marine interrupted.
"Heh, I was sorta making my to...uhh...somewhere...but either way one minute I took a nap, the next I was here."
"You slept through the storm...in that little boat?!"
"Yeah." Salazar yawned. "Still could get some rest. Thank you for rescuing me, I'll definitely repay your troubles." He started walking towards the living quarters, leaving his saviors with gaping mouths at his mysterious atmosphere.
Lunch was surprisingly fulfilling for a ship out this deep in the Calm Blue. Salazar knew only marines could afford to eat so well in such a desolate place.The discussions were also lively. And the mysterious dark skinned man listened intensively. "So you guys were heading back to Mariejois?" Salazar asked.
"Yeah. We were originally patrolling the edges of the Grand Line for sporadic Sea King behavior but escaped to the Calm Belts at first sight of that storm." Rocky answered. "I'm just glad we made it. I can't die anytime soon, my daughter is getting married next month. This job is my last before I can take a few weeks for my family."
Salazar smiled. But he lost the sensation of spending time with loved one's - or perhaps he never experienced such a foreign emotion. He spent a majority of his life working or training. Bettering himself over truly living for others. "I'm sure you'll make it." Salazar replied. "These waters aren't that dangerous."
"Actually, we've noticed an increase of pirate activity recently." Roger, a young marine of blonde hair, intercepted. He brought three plates of food to the hungry Salazar who only looked on with gratitude. "And plus, there's usually a Shichibukai here."
"A Shichibukai? Here? In the Calm Belt. Those dogs." The marine barked. "Filthy pirates who can do whatever they want simply because they accept chains around their necks. While we're forced to do the dirty work and risk our lives day in and day out!"
"Yeah but don't let them hear you say it."
"Which dog is this anyway?"
"They call him the Ebony Swordsman. Heard he's some kind of warrior from the Island of Darkness." Roger started. "Eight feet tall with two swords tied around his back. A God of Savagery made into man's image."
"I heard of him...but wasn't it 4 feet but as quick as darkness during sunfall?" Rocky intercepted. "He scours the Calm Belt challenging those who wish to enter the Grand Line. Like some sort of troll."
Meanwhile, as Salazar stuffed his face, the marine ship approached a mysterious island filled with wildlife. One which rested peacefully on the Calm Belt yet was monitored deeply by the World Government. Amazon Lily.
Suddenly, cannonballs shot from the port of the island, slamming deep into the wood of the marine ship. Riding carefully one of these cannonballs, was Daddy L. Legs, a Yonkō. She leapt off onto the main deck the instant the metal sphere crashed into the side of the ship. The marines that drew there swords, or rather the marines that were spared from the initial attack, in life and duty, trembled as they faced her. The bravest soldiers of the sea knew well whom they had encountered, and for their fear Legs awarded them with a kind smile. "Hello, marines." Her tone was somewhat honeysweet, and she was simply stunning. The marines held their position, but even the captain of the ship seemed unable to speak in her presence. Like his crew, he was hypothetically mesmerized with her form. Legs let out a giggle, and immediately the tens of soldiers standing before her dropped their swords.
"Thank you boys," she chuckled, walking towards the captain of the ship, planting a kiss on his cheek. "You did well leading your men....How do you do it, sir?" She playfully inquired, looking into his eyes are her breath fell upon his lips. His face turned a crimson hue, and a pool of sweat dripped from his face.
"I-I," the captain stuttered.
"Sshhh," Legs hushed, placing her finger on his lips, "Listen, get yourself together. Don't let me pheromones win, baby. Okay?"
Salazar felt it. A raging meteor of intense flames crashed against the ship; and panicked murmurs and baffled orders erupted as marines scrambled to their stations admits the confusion. Yet Salazar continued his meal as if nothing occurred. However then overwhelming silence which engulfed the lonely swordsman seemed to smother his appetite. Although actively avoiding the conversation, he was actually enjoying the comradery. It brought back memories...sensations of sailing the seas as a Bridesman Pirate once more. He placed his utensils down and walked towards the exit.
"Geez you guys sure love rescuing strange people." Salazar quipped while emerging from a dark corridor. His voice broke the tension between the pink haired stranger and his captain. The sunshine dispersed the darkness of the ship's hall, revealing his ebony skin and toned features. "So you have an explanation for attacking a marine ship, Lady?" He asked her. But he had already seen this woman before. Well he saw her aura the second they crossed the invisible boundary upon the sea. Felt when she angrily decided to attack the marine ship and was aware of her intentions beyond an hour before. Now he stood face to face with a powerful well of energy swirling within her. She'll massacre them, Salazar thought.
"H-head back inside, we can handle this. She's too dangerous for a mere wanderer like you." Rocky ordered. But his words went ignored by Salazar who only continued walking towards the Pink Haired Enchantress.
"For every drop of blood, you'll lose three." Salazar threatened.
Legs chuckled at the words without even drawing her eyes away from her current prey. Most of the time, she wouldn't have even paid them any attention, but the voice, and its tone caught her. It was recognizable. Legs pushed the captain aside, laying feast to Salazar. She grinned in response. "Holy, shit!" She mused excitedly. "It's the slave boy!"
Legs looked back at the marines, and gestured them to laugh. They immediately broke out in a hysterical, and forced guffaw. "I never imagined you would've ever, and I mean ever would have gotten the balls to say anything to me." She placed her hands on her hip, obviously lowering her physical guard. "But, you did go on to become a Shichibukai. Though, to be perfect honestly, that's just another form of slavery. However, you did pick your masters a little better this time, so kudos for that."
"Anyway, we're missing the point here, Salamander," she mispronounced, "We need to talk! This is a joyous occasion. It's been a while since I've seen you, and I'd absolutely love to catch up." She glanced towards the crew behind her. Her pupils dilated, and a wave of invisible energy shook the ship. Within seconds, the pirate crew fell silent and their bodies fell limp as they collapsed onto the wooden deck. All, except the one capable of withstanding her tremendous might: Salazar. "Now, we can talk," she accentuated, walking towards the dining hall. "They have food? I'm starving."
Salazar was the spirit of rebellion, or perhaps, the epitome of stubbornness. One who refused help and believed those who attempted to assisted him were simply berating the swordsman. A stubborn swordsman without the ability to accept the rule of others over him. Especially false gods who ruled without faith and even emperors that commanded the sea. So her energy met a wall. One reinforced with the willpower of a magnificent ebony warrior. And such, he stood strong while the marines fell asleep upon the ship's deck. This was not the first time he experienced her pervasive power; besides, she was technically correct regarding his current form of slavery. A gold and diamond encrusted chain was still just a chain. "Come on, food is inside." Salazar turned his back and entered the corridor he had recently exited. But rather than the usual dining area, Salazar took a couple plates for himself and his guest to the Captain's quarters.
"So what is the purpose of this wonder ours meeting, Lady?" Salazar asked. He remembered the first moment the pink haired woman entered his life. One who was able to literally subjugate the Bridesmaid Pirates and recruit them into her forces with mere words. He thought back to Inigo's wise advice, knowing when to battle and to retreat is the difference of life or death. But the slave apprentice could not accept such cowardly choices. He would rather die a warrior than live a pussy. From there he promised to gain enough strength to never subjugate himself again...an ironic twist of fate.
"Salazar, please. No need to be so formal." Legs interjected, adding a warm smile to her interruption. "Call me, Daddy."
Salazar glared at her; suddenly a hole appeared on the wall behind Leg's head, a dagger-like piercing. "How about I let you leave this ship with your head intact?" He replied annoyed.
"Ohoho," Legs chuckled. "I assumed you would have lost some of that spunk." She gave him a pointed look. "I guess I assumed incorrectly." Much of Legs strength were in her words, or more importantly her pheromones—a substance so powerful that it could manipulate the minds of her enemies and craft illusions to her benefit. It was why she talked so much, and perhaps the only reason that her crew followed her. Though, oddly enough, her words never seemed to penetrate Salazar. Legs figured he was gay.
"Salazar, please. Just answer this one question. You worked so hard to be free, but in the end, you still work as a slave. Why?"
As if he stood a chance with her...or so Salazar tricked himself into believing. The pursuit of the opposite sex was meaningless before the acquisition of one's dream. Yeah, one day he would surely spread his legacy. But for now, Salazar received his happiness from the sensation of dueling. When his sword clashed against metal, he evades an opponent or even receives a wound - his blood boils and experiences salvation. And besides, he could barely talk to women he was interested in without stuttering.
Salazar sighed. He closed his eyes and sipped his phoenix tea in deep thought. "What value was one freed slave to thousands captured?" Salazar locked eyes with Legs. And it was through this connection that the swordsman saw her for who she really was. Her aura, her spirit became a living flame which danced before him. Salazar saw the sincerity hidden deep within her heart and the truthfulness of her words. He felt warmth Beneath layers of protective walls and defense mechanisms. "Slavery will only end when the masters are hung from the gallows."
"Your dream," Legs smiled, "Is my story. I braved the snowy dunes of the Wano Country, slain the master's, placed their wives and children heads on stakes. I did all of it for my people, for their lives, for their liberties and freedom." Legs spoke with a gentle passion. Yet, in the next instance her tone grew grim. "And then they tried to kill me of course." A slight pause interrupted her speech. "After I saved them, they placed me in jail, and sentenced me to death. But, I saw a chance, and escaped. I crossed vast oceans in search of refuge, and I've seen the horrors of the sea," she continued grimly. "But," she said upliftingly, "I also have seen wonders that you can scarcely even dream of."
Legs smiled as she reminiscence on the memories of the ocean with her crew. They were her family. Not by blood of course, but through respect and love they had achieved a bond more inseparable than her actual relatives—the ones that tried to kill her. "So, I guess my point is Salazar, be prepared for the consequences of your quest. Be prepared for the folly, the reward, the adventure that comes from it." Although she seemed detached from the situation, like an elder giving abstract and confusing advice to the youth, Legs was excited. Salazar's actions would shake the world, and her, being a major power throughout it, would feel its rumbles. In fact, she almost wanted him to fulfill his dream. "Now, Salazar. I guess my question to you know would be....who are the masters?"
Salazar listened intensively. Her words, while intimate, appeared to be prophetic - as if she was staring into the future, watching the end of Salazar's path. And so he knew what she implied, smiling slightly while sipping his sweet tea. Surely her words would materialize in the months or even years to come and illuminate the road he is destined to traverse. However, Leg's question through him off guard.
"The masters?" Salazar asked. He knew them all too well. They employed his services and offered the swordsmen corrupt power. While serving a force meant to save the world, this mysterious force allowed Salazar to do as he pleased. They cared little for those those of his ranking harmed and prioritized their own reputation. "The masters are the one's who manipulated the past to gain control of the future. They are false gods who spend their days in indulgence - abusing a sword meant to protect justice." The swordsman sipped his tea and took a bite of bread. "But true justice will prevail and seize that sword from their unrighteous grasp before striking them down once and for all."
"Anyway, why does this matter? I never thought the Yonko cared about anything besides themselves."
"Well, you're half right," Legs' acknowledged. "We don't care about anything else, except ourselves AND...you forgot the and....the people that are dear to us. Family, crewmates, friends. Everyone else can pretty much fuck themselves," she sarcastically claimed. She looked intensely at Salazar as she monologue. "That's what the world wants you to believe, Salazar. Those....masters of yours want you think that's all we do." She frowned. "The people on that island that your marines approached are terrified of the World Government. They fear their liberties and freedoms, their sovereignty, because at any point one of those perfected Nobles can come down and claim them as their prize, and guess what? They have to go." She shook her head. "That's why I claimed that territory as mine, Salazar. Not because I need it, but because they need my name, my power, my reputation. They need the fear that my fame drags along with me, because that's what's keeping you," she pointed at Salazar as she addressed him, "from them."
"Quite noble." Salazar smirked. "I guess I misjudged you, please forgive me..." His apology was sincere and his eyes spoke of both sorrow and understanding. Her lecture reminded him of his former master-turned-teacher - Ingo Vega - a man with an enlightened understanding of the realm and human nature. But Salazar knew that a name could only work for so long. And thus he sighed in annoyance. "However this is why the world hasn't changed in the past few centuries. These wars are being fought by invisible weapons that hold no merit. Words. Reputation. Tools used to defeat the opponent through fear." He met her eyes "You're no different from the previous generation of Yonko, heroic pirates or even revolutionaries. Wars must end in the destruction of the enemy since fear only makes an animal stronger. They'll eventually rise against your fearful name and amass enough power to strike you down. And then what?"
Salazar sipped his tea.
"Especially considering you're only one person, what'd happen after your empire falls? The people who you're protecting? Will they rise up or simply be transferred to another person with a frightening reputation?"
"Gol D. Roger's might was so incredible that decades after his death simply uttering his name was a crime against humanity. Knowledge of the Great Kingdom is taboo and called for the extinction of an entire group of people," Legs refuted. "If my name is powerful enough, if my strength becomes renown, then even years after I'm gone my legacy will affect this world." She took her first bite of her food since the conversation started. The marines always had the best cuisine. "If you beat your enemies to ash only a stronger empire with rise from it, and with it a stronger malice. It is that foolishness right there, the foolishness you speak, that has caused the world to remain the same as it has been." Legs leaned in closer to Salazar. "Tell me, Salazar. Why is it that the World Nobles are so feared? Is it because of their fame, their reputation, their guns? Or is it the fear of the admirals that rest along their side? Is it the fear of the admirals beating that person until their heart ceases to beat," Legs spoke, pausing as she calmed herself.
"These weapons aren't as invisible as you perceive them to be."
"I can agree in regards of achieving such an unimaginable reputation. But Lady, remember - Gol D. Roger was still executed and his wife hunted. In fact, the Marine's grasp tightened upon the world after his death because he could no longer interfere with their affair. Nothing changed after his death except the inspiration of a few pirates." Salazar refuted. "The admirals, the marines will always fight against the reputation of people such as yourself. Destroying your legacy means the destruction of the people's hopes and dreams." His voice darkened.. "You can only extinguish a fire by smothering the source."
"The inspiration of an entire Age of pirates; people rebelling against the norms and fighting for their freedom, their liberties. You'd do best to remember how inspired the late pirate king was by his actions, and the influence he had on the world. He infiltrated the toughest prison in the world, destroyed the most corrupt judicial court in the world, and toppled even the most corrupt of kingdoms," Legs continued. "Rhetoric has power, but without reputation, without something backing it up, it truly is empty just as you said." Legs gave Salazar a pointed look. "But, fortunately, my words are not empty. They are not powerless. Give me a pen and a piece of paper, and I can send the whole world upside down. I mean, it's what the marines do with those silly bounties. The higher the bounty, the more threatening the general public perceives them to be. Their is nothing more powerful in this world today than the words written on a newspaper, Salazar."
Now he understood why she became a Yonko, and saw the legendary determination that pirates of their rank required. Salazar poured another cup of tea and took a second to contemplate what she threatened. "A world where wars are fought with pen and paper. Regardless of the method, the masters must pay with their lives." Salazar refuted, changing the tone of the conversation back to his normal nonchalant atmosphere. "Whether you believe me or not won't impact my actions. I just hope you're prepared for the whiplash of your actions. And those who are hiding beneath your legacy."
He peered out the open window toward the endless sea.
"You still haven't told me the purpose of this meeting." He sighed. "Especially considering the fact that this is a marine vessel so close to your island."
"Oh, that purpose," Legs remembered. "Why didn't you say so earlier?" The texture of her voice was sweet just as it had been before. "It's simple, Salazar," she begun, "I want you to join my crew. Simple as that." She watched as Salazar's expression changed. "Of course, we can keep this a little secret from your marine friends, but frankly Salazar, I need a guy on the inside, and aside from all the other pets, you seem the most disobedient. Or, maybe I should say the most rationale since you haven't outright surrendered your soul to those corrupt men." As she spoke, a hint of charisma weaved between the cracks of her words. This was why she became a Yonko. Not by instruction, or by intention, but by destiny itself.
"So, what do you say, Salazar?"
Salazar erupted in laughter. To join a pirate crew? Pillage, rape and steal - living lawless upon the vast seas using her name to enact violence upon the most undeserving? Perhaps if this was other crew. But Salazar knew her code as well as his own; which spoke against betrayal and becoming a mole in the marines, a traitor in the eyes of the other members. But deep inside, Salazar already knew the answer. He knew the answer before she even got a chance to ask the question. The path he walked, despite representing the marines, was one of never ending war. He only served the marines to protect those who were hurt by their carelessness and false sense of absolute justice. He challenged other officers whose selfish desires betrayed the code of the marines and even threatened to destroy bases that committed atrocities to the natives of the islands. But Salazar was only one man. And soon enough, they would rise against his sense of justice. Someone of a greater power...reputation wise...might stand up - only for Salazar to find that in that moment he, by himself, was powerless. He tried to hide those thoughts. But they were simply overtaken by memories of his comrades - sparking the vast loneliness within. So Salazar knew his answer. He knew his answer the first second she appeared before him over five years before.
"You know...I hate having to damage my honor as a swordsman to further personal goals. Betrayal. Sneaking. I'm not a filthy assassin. But...this world is going to change soon. People are getting tired of their oppressive rule and starting to rise. And you Yonko will lead the revolution. Fine Legs. You have yourself a swordsman."
"We will change the world, Salazar." Legs cupped his hands in between hers. "Thank you," she graciously expressed. "Thank you for joining m-.....well, no. Our cause." She removed her hands from his, revealing a vivre card in his palm as she stood up. "Should the need ever arise where you must return to the flock, that will lead you to me, Salazar." She walked towards the door slowly. "Remember, Salazar. Home is where the heart is, and I think we both know where your loyalty lies." She looked back in a instance and smiled. "See you soon." With that, the only thing that remained in that spot was dust as she seemingly flickered away out of existence, leaving Salazar yet again alone.