The Dark King

BY : Alastair
Category: +M to R > One Piece
Dragon prints: 1955
Disclaimer: One Piece is not mine, and I make no money from this work.

Nami stared at the Dark Elf. She had never seen one before, and yet now there was one standing by the merchant's cart. He was huge, eyes on the ground, staring at bare light violet feet. She shivered.

Though he was properly chained to the cart, the thought of him nearby just brought up thoughts of awful, monstrous things. Dark Elves were highly dangerous, after all. She understood how the initiative worked though. It was only for Dark Elves born from mothers who were rescued from their awful camps. It was supposed to be a way to integrate them into society - by having these ‘saved’ Dark Elves work for the civil races.

This Dark Elf didn't look saved, but angry or just annoyed. She couldn't see why. He looked well worked, kept fed, clothed - if a bit warmly with long sleeves - and he slept in the cart out of the rain.

The inn keeper hadn't let him stay in the inn, but he had allowed him in the stable at least.

At the moment, the Dark Elf was in the market, guarding the merchant's wares while he bartered. She had come for the day's groceries, and just needed a few vegetables for supper, but the strangely purple hued elf had intrigued her.

Suddenly, Nami realized that he was looking at her, and she quickly turned to leave. She had had enough of the sight of him in any case, and she was only curious.

She looked back once, but he was no longer looking at her. He just stared dully in front of his feet, rubbing his sleeved arms.

Nami knew what he looked like then. The way his legs were pressed together in such a way - he shifted from foot to foot almost impatiently. And he wasn't angry. He was pouting. It was a big, little boy that just wanted to go play.

How old was he? She recalled the rumors of their bizarre growth. Did they really grow to adulthood in a week? She supposed they would have to. The new initiative was only a few months old according to the merchant. If he grew like other elves, he would not have been allowed to be a part of the initiative.

Before it, the babies that had been born from rescued women were killed. He was lucky to be alive.

She nodded to herself, becoming more assured that this was indeed the right thing to do.

Nami began to walk home, humming a little ditty she had heard in the tavern.

“Months,” the merchant had said. The initiative had begun months ago, and he had said it as if they should have already known. It rankled the way he had said it. It was hard to not feel that way when it came from a High Elf.

Theirs was a small Wood Elf village on the outskirts of their country. It was completely understandable to not know of news for months just like this time.

Nami briefly touched the end of her staff as if to remind herself of the blue stone at the end. It had no power in and of itself, but it was her favorite focusing aid while she was training in magic. She wasn't particularly adept, but she knew enough to handle some magicless Dark Elf should one come along.

There had not been an attack on their village in a hundred years. This meant that a decades old curfew had finally been lifted, but Nami still held fairly closely to the curfew. For some reason, she had opted to carry her staff around more often too. Even though all a curfew did was force people to stay indoors at certain hours, she felt less safe.

Was she just used to being inside while the world was dark outside? She and Nojiko had been children when the curfew had been implemented.

As she returned home, Nami felt her muscles relax entirely, and she called, “I’m back!”

“Hey, Nami,” Nojiko greeted back, though her attention was on a book in front of her. The High Elf woman had adopted some of the Wood Elf traditions, and had tattoos going down her arm. Most visiting High Elves had seemed to scorn this, but Nojiko had always laughed them off. She was nowhere near as prim or proper as they were.

She had told the last one that had tried to shame her, “You really think I should look down on those I think aren’t as good as me? Well, then.”

Nojiko had lifted her chin just so, and the room had gotten colder as the High Elf had slowly realized she was now looking down at him.

The memory caused a warm smile across Nami’s lips, and she giggled behind a hand. This made Nojiko look up finally, and she smiled in turn, “What’s so funny?”

“Just remembering something ... oh! Speaking of,” Nami hurried over to sit across from her adopted sister then, and said, “There’s a merchant in town! He’s brought a Dark Elf!”

Nojiko’s eyes widened in horror, “What? Why would he-?”

“It’s a new decree. Any Dark Elf born from the women that are rescued are getting a chance to live as servants.” Nami leaned back in her chair, tapping a lip in thought, “He kind of reminded me of a little kid ...”

Her sister just shuddered, “Creepy.”

“Yeah,” Nami said softly. “There’s a High Elf woman travelling with the merchant too. She wanted to talk with us ...”

With a groan, Nojiko seemed to try to return to her book, “No thanks.”

Nami smiled again, but said, “I know what you’re thinking, but it’s about her research, she said. She’s studying different race families, and as soon as she found out about us, it was all she was talking about. She wanted your perspective too.”

Nojiko looked up slowly, “So that’s why you took so long ...” She looked out the window, and mused, “With the curfew over, we could just head to the inn to get this over with.” The sky wasn’t yet dark, but Nami shifted uncomfortably. Noticing this, Nojiko said, “It’ll be the two of us, and it shouldn’t take that long.” She smiled wider, “And you could practice some fire magic on the way back if it’s dark.”

She was saying that she could bring her staff, Nami realized, and some of the tension left her. “All right ... A little talk in the inn wouldn’t hurt.”

xXx

The High Elf woman Nami had met was a dark skinned beauty with long black hair. She smiled warmly at Nami as she entered the inn with Nojiko who still seemed a little apprehensive. The High Elf had an open journal in which she was writing in front of her, and she set her feathered pen down to stand to greet them.

“Greetings. You must be Nojiko. I’m Nico Robin of the Ohara High Elves.”

Nami stopped in some shock while Nojiko raised a brow, “Wow, quite the bigwig visiting a little out of way place like this just for a mixed race family ...”

“Not so out of the way. I came here specifically for this family after all.”

Gripping her staff, Nami looked to Nojiko. Her sister sighed, and shook her head, “And what do you want, your ladyship?”

Robin looked her up and down, but her smile was the same, “I want nothing, but to ask some questions. It’s such an interesting story after all. The Wood Elf warrior woman, Bellemere, comes back from battle, only to bring two elven children with her, and raises them herself. But ... from where?”

Nami’s brow creased, and she said, “A village torn apart by Dark Elves! Where else?”

Robin smiled a little more, still looking directly at Nojiko, “The brave warrior died protecting her home and new children from a Dark Elf attack here, so now ... the only one to ask would be the only child who was old enough to remember.”

When Nami began to frown in confusion, Nojiko fumed, snapping, “Why should we answer anything you ask?”

“But it’s just ... the name of the village, right?” Nami looked over at her sister, her head tilting just slightly. “Nojiko, what’s wrong?”

“Was it really a village, Nojiko?” Robin asked. “Didn’t Bellemere and her squadron pass through a city?”

Nami realized then that the rest of the inn’s tavern occupants had gone deathly silent. Some had frozen with a pint of mead halfway to their lips while others were badly pretending not to pay attention while they played with their food.

It was so quiet that the watch’s horn was heard clearly. The room stiffened, now perking long ears for more blasts.

One meant a visitor.

The second meant royalty.

The third blast that sounded made all of the warriors stand, and rush out of the inn. Debts could be forgiven when Dark Elves were attacking.

Nami glanced at Nojiko who was still staring at Robin who gave the gaze back evenly. She touched her sister’s tattooed arm, “Nojiko ... what should we do?”

Taking a deep breath, her sister said, “Nami, get to the house. Hide.”

Her eyes widened in shock, and though she felt fear coursing through her, Nami could hear the fighting already. They had to have rushed the gates and broken through somehow. She straightened, “But we can help them!”

“Nami, go hide!”

“Yes, she’s a mage, is she not?” Robin lifted out a small orb from her own robes. She could see it for what it was: another focusing aid like Nami’s own staff.

She nodded fiercely then, “We can both help!”

“Nami, no, please!” Nojiko grabbed her wrist, and Nami stared at the desperation in her sister’s eyes, “You shouldn’t fight! If you’re lost, then ...!”

“Then what?” Robin stepped forward.

Nojiko lowered her head, but Nami’s attention was abruptly drawn to Robin’s orb. Something had flickered inside, or perhaps reflected something. Nami looked behind her through the window, and she gasped, “The village is burning!”

The High Elf’s head snapped to attention then, the first frown appearing on her lips, “Are there any other mages here ...?”

“No, there’s ...” Nami felt something cold shoot through her spine. Looking out the window, she could see it now. Some of the dark figures fighting outside were flinging fireballs around, but it should have been impossible.

“No ... Nami, you have to-”

The door burst into flames, shattering into dark splintered coals, and Nami ducked. She felt Nojiko wrap her arms around her in an attempt to shield her from the brunt of the flames.

“Three women. Good.”

Nami looked up just in time for the world to go black around her. The last thing she saw were dark runic tattoos across a grim Dark Elf face.

xXx

She winced in pain, gripping her leg as the cart went over another bump. Alongside it walked the other elven women of the village, the slew of Wood Elves like herself, and the two High Elves, Nojiko and Robin. She felt the tears attempt to come back, but she swallowed them back hard.

When she had come to, the entire village had been decimated. The Dark Elves had gone from house to house, dragging out the men, women and children to their carts from the rubble.

Nojiko reached into the cart to reassure her by squeezing her hand, “Stay strong.”

Her protection had unfortunately not done much. Nami had awoken to searing pain down her thigh. Still in the village, she had sobbed in agony as the elderly were rounded up, and struck down. What elven children there were had been separated from them, and Nami didn’t want to think of what might be happening to them.

One of the Dark Elves had taken one look at her, and dragged her onto a cart. He had said, “This one will ride. No touching her until she’s healed.”

It was the only good thing of the day that had happened, and even then it was just a delay until the inevitable. She shuddered at the thought of nightfall coming, and hearing the screams.

“I wonder what the men are for.”

Nami lifted her head slowly, frowning in confusion at the dark haired High Elf. A little further behind them was another cart with the young men of the village, bound and chained like the women. Her sister scoffed, “Menial labor, I bet.”

“I suppose ... and why kill the merchant’s Dark Elf?”

She recalled when they had opened the stable to find the Dark Elf huddled inside. He had been hugging himself in the fetal position in one corner of the stable, but they had pulled him out. The Dark Elf Nami had assumed to be their leader had tried to converse with him, but then had cut him down with a gout of flames. She hadn’t heard what they had talked about however.

Nami shook her head, “Who knows.”

“And what would it matter now anyway ...” Nojiko said. “We can’t do anything against them now.”

Robin glanced at the group leading the hundreds of Dark Elves and their captives before she said to them, “There’s always the chance of escape or rescue. A large village like this disappearing in the night won’t go unnoticed.” She looked directly at Nami, “And we can protect you.”

“Me?” Nami looked to Nojiko only to feel a different kind of worry wriggle through her. Nojiko had averted her eyes.

“I suppose that Nojiko didn’t tell you, but even though it’s been a long time, I can recognize a Light Elf when I see her.”

Her eyes widened in shock, staring at the High Elf in shock, “But I’m a Wood Elf.”

“They can look very similar yes,” Robin said, “but the brighter hair, the round shape of your face, and the weather magic you claim you do ...” She smiled lightly, “If only you could have shown me that against the Dark Elves. Perhaps something could have been done.”

Nami swallowed nothing, trying to think of anything but what she was telling her. The blue stone atop her staff was gone - smashed into the wall of the inn in front of her before her staff had been snapped in two. She could barely make a static shock without any aid.

Light Elves were extinct. They had been utterly obliterated by the Dark Elves a hundred years ago. What were the chances that she was one at all?

“I ... I can't be ... that. I can't be one, Robin. Nojiko, tell her ...” she looked to Nojiko for support, but her sister looked away. She felt her skin grow cold, and she looked back at Robin, insisting, “It's not true!”

“You're not quite a woman yet, are you? Perhaps of marriageable age, but you're not fully a woman. Dark Elves age the fastest of course at three days up to a week. Humans are fully grown at twenty. Wood Elves are next at around seventy years or so, and High Elves are around a hundred. As a Light Elf, however ... they must have told you you were found much younger, but I'd say you are around ninety years old. Light Elves are full adults at a hundred and twenty.”

She flushed in anger then, gripping the side of the cart, “I'm seventy three, and a full grown Wood Elf, thank you very much! I'm not a child!”

Robin shrugged, “You're close, but I'm sure you're not far from your first century.”

“Nojiko!” She turned to her sister again who finally took a deep breath.

“We swore to keep you safe,” she whispered softly. “You're the last one ... maybe there's another, but ...”

She sagged back into the cart, and shivered, looking over at the uncaring Dark Elves. The cries and wails of women were obviously normal to them. They didn't seem to be very interested in what they had to say.

For as long as anyone could recall, the Dark Elves had been on a rampage against any and all other races, but most especially the Light Elves. One hundred years ago, they had finally given their mortal enemy a fell blow. No other elven group had been treated such. It was reported that they hadn't even taken their women to breed with them either.

Other elves aged and reproduced slower on their own, but it took the Dark Elves only half a year to make a troop large enough to threaten a small village. At this rate, it was only a matter of time before they overran the rest of the Wood Elf settlements.

How long ago had this group been growing?

Nami shivered as she looked at the head of the group where the mage was walking. He had no focus aid, but she had seen him conjure flames the likes of which she had never seen from an unaided mage.

When had the magicless Dark Elves developed mages? When had they become powerful enough to not need a focus aid?

Nami grit her teeth, taking a deep breath before she shook her head, “Even if I am ... one of those, what of it?”

“The king is summoning you to his court,” Robin said, and Nami gaped at her in shock.

“What? He ... why would he be?”

Nojiko frowned, “You can’t mean that ... he wants to court Nami?”

Nami felt a flush come across her face, but it cooled quickly as she glanced at the Dark Elves ahead, “There’s not much of a chance of that happening now.”

“Don’t be so sure of that. Remember what I said? The king is awaiting word about you, and if he doesn’t receive any information soon, he will send men to investigate. They should be able to track us down easily enough.” For the first time since Nami had met her, Robin grimaced, “Though we may have to endure some rape in the process.”

Nojiko visibly shuddered. Nami felt the tears finally when she heard Robin say that, but she bit her tongue as Nojiko said, “At least, they don’t know about Nami ... We have to keep quiet, Robin, or ...”

She nodded, but said what Nami had noticed, “They don’t seem concerned with what we’re saying, but yes. Once we are out of their reach, I will tell you more.”

Nami bowed her head, looking down at her burned thigh, and she bit her lip. They had allowed her to ride the cart rather than walk on her leg, but how much relief would she get once night fell again? She didn’t know much about the act, but it didn’t seem to require use of her legs.

xXx

It was dark.

He was just so warm and sleepy.

However, the blankets around him seemed to be constricting. They were pushing and pressing in around him, and he tried to push them off, but he felt so weak. It felt like it was wrapped around his head and face.

The air felt heavy.

Was he still breathing?

Abruptly, the pressure grew worse as he felt his body begin to slide through the blankets. He was wet, he realized.

Something squeezed around him, and he grimaced, barely able to squirm. Some force was pulling him towards some end that he couldn’t see.

First the top of his head felt cold, and suddenly, he was cold everywhere all in one rush. He gasped, and tried to open tired eyes as someone lifted him away.

This place was new. It was different from before. New voices filled his head, and he barely understood. The knowing was starting to slip away.

He mumbled as the movement stopped in warm, soft arms. He was beginning to feel comfortable in the not knowing. The hazy sensation of everything leaving his mind was a strange comfort. He didn’t have to know.

Above him, as the other voices started to mumble into incomprehension, he heard her.

“Why’d they give you to me?”

Luffy’s eyes opened slowly, peering up into Nami’s face.

xXx



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