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@PaulHaynek@AzureKnight@Crowvette@The Irish Tree

Skarsneek of the Red Hills

Feeling Io bumped into him, he turned in annoyance at first before having a raised eyebrow when she said she was distracted. Briefly, he looked towards Shizuku before a smirk came to his face.

"Try not to get too distracted," He said before leaning closer to her and whispered. "Plenty of time to hit him later."

Better to also ease the lich, even if she was undead. This was a mission they can't afford to fail but being too tense was just as debilitating.

Once at the manor, Skarsneek had to roll his already short pants before squeezing excess water out to make it clung to his body. He didn't the extra water droplets alerting others or slapping against him noisily.

Moving quietly, they managed to stumble into some juicy information and Skarsneek dearly wanted to hear more but unfortunately they're discovered.

Darn cheating magic. Skarsneek said, wondering if there was ways to mask him via magic. Perhaps it was time to look into it.

Io made her move to which Skarsneek quickly pointed to the left figure behind the thin paper walls. "Left."

The moment Io ice launched itself, he moved forward, snapped both clubs together as one before charging low, bursting through it. Whoever the left figure was, Skarsneek aimed to cripple them right off the bat by targeting the knees.


Gringor of the Ironhide Tribe

The moment he reached the top, Gringor expected many things.

Them running and jumping however, frustrated him greatly

"Oi! Get back here and fight!" He roared before rushing forward and jumping down with them. Fearless and fuming before landing on the ground with weapon in hand. A quick strike had sent them into the dirt for good as his axe struck their spirit energy directly, taking chunks of it from them.

Looking around, he see more approaching the undead and frowning girl. Without much thought, Gringor foot left deep imprints as he aimed himself towards the two axe-wielding brigands.

When he was close enough, he swung horizontally with a speed that had his axe arced backwards and striking the two in one go.
@PaulHaynek@AzureKnight@Crowvette@The Irish Tree

Skarsneek of the Redhills

"Thanks for the scroll." Skarsneek grinned as he took it, at least that's something he can use in a pinch.

Skarsneek felt a drop of water on his nose and belatedly, he sighed as he looked to the skies. True enough, rain clouds gathered and knowing the pattern, it'll rain hard.

"And I just had to go half-dressed." He sighed, the rain didn't bothered him as a monster constitution was much stronger than that. It was just that sneaking around half-soaked was going to leave such an obvious trail behind when he goes in.

Still, he followed behind Shizuka diligently and even offered Io some help, if she needed it, this was his element after all.

Though when the fog comes, Skarsneek did felt a tad annoyed. He didn't like seeing where he was going and Skarsneek could still see in near pitch black, but magical mist? That tickled him in the wrong way.

Nevertheless, he can only trust in Shizuka skills and that he's not wrong. Hopefully this mist doesn't dispel at the worst time.
If anyone is confused what Gringor did, he basically did a spiderman crawl upwards to the watchtower.
@PaulHaynek@AzureKnight@Crowvette@The Irish Tree

Skarsneek of the Redhills

Skarsneek shrugged before getting into the cart as well and lied down, it was going to be a cramp time but he supposed he can take a little break until then.

When a patrol arrived, Skarsneek kept a loose grip around his weapon and slowed his breath. Ears and eyes opened for a sudden strike if it comes down to it.

Luckily they passed without incident, though the cries of the captured made him realized that the Varjans are working the locals and captured for wood.

When they passed, Skarsneek remained in said position right until they finally passed and arrived at their destination proper.

When Liliana went ahead to the barracks, Skarsneek hummed once before deciding it was best they

Cracking his neck and leaving the cart, he moved to the top of the roof and quickly scanned the place. Getting a good layout of the area before coming to two possible locations.

"Your call, boss." Skarsneek turned to Shizuka, he would rather the group move as one than split up. "I'll take the estate. Those Varjans sure love their fancy manors and all, if not, getting their mage is a bonus too."

"Just remember, get them as distracted as possible." He then turned to Io. "You got any poison, powder of spells I can pack before I leave?"


Gringor of the Ironhide tribe.

Gringor squated down as he waited for the signal, tapping his fingers in annoyance as he looked at what path is best for him to let loose.

That's when he caught scent of the underboss and turned to him, just as a signal lit up the skies.

"Just in time, let's get to it!" He articulated well this time as every speck of his muscle burst to action, filling the air with pheromones meant to excite and get the blood flowing for battle.

Charging in, they sighted two watch towers that seemed to be proving a massive problem for the ones stuck inside.

How boring.

Moving towards one of them, Gringor pumped his legs harder and harder like a man possessed before flinging himself towards it.

Just before it looked like he'll slam into it head on, Gringor hurled himself forward before striking the watchtower directly with his axe biting deep into the foundation.

He pulled himself upwards and fingers swung forward hard enough to create small dents into the walls, creating a space for him to grab and like a insect. Crawled upwards furiously to the watch towers. Unheeding of the arrows as he kept his face down to prevent a lucky shot striking an eye.

No need for him to look anyways, he can smell the humans miles away and had taken the time to memorize how tall the towers were. It wouldn't be long that he'll be inside.
[ARC 2]


Cadog moved along with Ryu Burnet, being shown around the place as he started to light up his smoke pipe.

A brief concentration of his power, vapor of alcohol filled the smoke pipe before it quickly caught fire. Leading to a brief burst of blue flame burning as the tobacco was thoroughly burnt in a flash.

Inhaling, the smoke produced gave a different tinge. One that he occasionally used when he needed a change of taste.

Blowing outwards, Cadog got right into the point.

“It wasn’t just rain that brought us here.” He took another puff and continued. “We’re hunting pirates.”

“We planned to continue the chase, but just in case, I’ll station a few of our men here if they come to kidnap anyone.”

Burnet’s shoulders drooped, the man releasing a weary sigh. “Ah hell.” Running a hand across his head, he admitted, “Guess I appreciate the warning.”

Hrnng. Cadog puffed once before gesturing to their surroundings. “That’s why I need your help in knowing the geography, once I have that. I’ll put Haku there.”

When asked who Haku was, Cadog waved his hands. “The cabin boy, fresh out of the academy. He’ll be able to handle it.”

As they made their rounds, Cadog looked upwards and sniffed the air. It was changing and lighter.

Again, this fast? Looks like even the predictable winds of East Blue were a bit erratic than usual. “Looks like it’ll be another thunderstorm.”

“Pardon me, but we’ll need to move faster.” Cadog urged. It seemed that he couldn’t be as thorough as possible.

Haku followed Coriander alongside the girls, talking and answering their questions as best as he can. Though when asked about some parts of the Grand Line, Haku decided to clarify them.

“Yes, there are flying bubbles in the Sabaody Archipelago. It’s their livelihood in fact.” Haku said to the pair of children. “Ships would be coated in the same material as the bubbles to allow transport as they dive into the sea.”

He added after a moment of thought. “I’m not too sure why it happens, the shipwrights or scholars would know better.”

Personally, he thinks that God must have been having fun when they did that. After all, he himself made plenty of bubbles when he was young.

While he didn’t know why it occurred, he wasn’t ignorant of its composition and its numerous applications.

Nor the ways to burst it, literally.

“I’ll tell you more later, we’ve arrived and I’m sure you’re hungry as well.” Haku said, opening the door for them to go in first before he removed his shoes and then only entered.

“Greetings, I’m Haku, 373th of G-1 base. Sorry for intruding on your hospitality.” He nodded towards the two adults, parents? Perhaps he had the wrong idea of Coriander: he thought she was an orphan.

Wiping her hands with a rag, a woman with a platinum blonde ponytail and pink apron remarked, “Don’t be like that: I appreciate our men in uniform.” Nodding her head to the larger room in the home, Haku noted the front of a bakery, the scent of bread permating the home. With a wink, she added, “Tell your division we’ve got some discounts for Marines!”

A man behind her, hair and goatee blonde, leaning against the door frame, paused his careful observation of Haku to add, “Since when?”

“Since now.”

Coriander jumped in. “These are my parents, Marjoram and Hyssop.” Haku was waved into a dining area, the table set, a sweet smell coming from the platter at the table, piled with the grid patterned quickbread. A pair of pitchers with sweet smelling viscous liquids sat nearby. Peppermint jumped over to the table, while Rue only did so after kicking off her shoes.

“...Rue what are you doing?” Hyssop wondered, taking up the rear.

Rue looked up, before pointing at Haku. “He did it too.”

Those present took note of Haku’s feet, amusement or intrigue coming to the local faces. Coriander offered, “Wh-whatever’s comfortable for you is fine!”

“Ah, force of habit.” Haku said after a moment of contemplation and realization that not everyone does that. An odd behavior for sure, do people not take off their shoes in their homes?

He supposed he was lucky that in his cadet days, others didn’t really question that behavior. Then again, he’d seen numerous other oddities amongst the marine cadets and their own superstition, perhaps he was inured to it?

Oh well.

“I’ll be sure to inform my fellow marines, they’ll certainly appreciate some tasty bread over hard tacks.” He walked over and gestured for Rue and Coriander to take their seat first before he took his own.

“Oh, I’ve never seen this type of bread before. What is it?” He leaned forward inquisitively as he looked at the luxurious and freshly made bread. That offer of the discounted bread seemed a lot tempting now if this was the quality to be expected.

“And this sauce, two types of honey? No, one’s honey but I’m not too familiar with the other-” Haku gazed at the syrup, he had never seen this before. Was this something only available to the locals?

Rue’s jaw dropped. ”You don’t know about WAFFLES!?”

Peppermint seemed a little shaken. “Marines don’t get to eat waffles?”

Hyssop shook with giggles of amusement at the two girls, while Coriander explained, “It’s not like it’s normal rations or anything!” Taking a breath, she explained, “Waffles are a sweet bread cooked with an iron shaped to press them down. See how they’re all crispy? But they’re soft on the inside!” To demonstrate, her fork crunched through the waffle and she took a bite.

“Oh!” she gasped out, grabbed the pitcher of syrup, pouring some onto her plate, filling many of the squares of her snack. “Syrup is really good, it’s like a sweeter honey that…comes from.” Her face went blank. “Where does syrup come from?”

“It’s sap from the maple tree, boiled to remove the water,” Hyssop explained.

“Oh, from trees huh? Tree sap as sweet as candy…seems like it’d be from the Grand Line!”

“Oh, stop it,” Marjoram responded with a chortle as the family started into their breakfast.

“No, is it that important?” Haku raised a brow at that apologetically before answering Peppermint's question. “We get bread, but most of the time, it’s hardtack biscuit. The little mites inside of it add character apparently.”

At least, according to Cadog who was often eating them dry or mixed with alcohol.

Peppermint was horrified.

Looking at Coriander's demonstration as she cut the waffle, Haku followed suit and mimed her actions. True enough, it parted easily to reveal a soft texture underneath, most similarly like those bread, at least, when they are hot out of the oven.

Curiously, he continued on and added the syrup on top. Gingerly, he took a small piece and bit onto it.

Hmm. Haku savored the taste before smiling and brightening before he eagerly dug into it. Politely of course, he was no savage.

“Well, there’s a lot of places in the Grand Line that have something similar. Sugarcane is one of them.” He added to the conversation in between bites, recalling the local sugarcanes of Wano. Kids used to love chewing them when they’re in season.

“So, there’s never been any pirate activity here before?” He asked Coriander's parents during one of the few small talks. “Also, why is it called Melody Island? Is there good music here?”

Marjoram explained, “We hear about pirate attacks all the time in the newspaper, but we don’t really get many outsiders here at all. Burnet and Basil ended up living here, but when it comes to mercantile we have our own merchants who go out and trade our lumber or flour for goods.”

“I think we had some folk from the kingdom here three years ago or so?” Hyssop mentioned without certainty. “The Chowder Kingdom gets trouble of course. We’re too out of the way and lacking in valuables or goods to turn for quick profit, but it’s not like…” he flashed a quick glance to Peppermint, who’s fork swirled around the syrup on her plate. “It’s not like it never happens.”

So there’s a chance of it happening. Haku nodded in between bites as he digested the information, this complicated things severely as this place had very little experience dealing with pirates.

He ignored the look given to Peppermint despite how brief it was, enabling Haku to guess parts of it at least.

Seeming to change the subject, Coriander wondered, “Why are we ‘Tune Town’ on ‘Melody Island’? I sing for choir but Mother Basil hasn’t been living here forever.”

Hyssop explained, “Well, apparently when the island was settled, it was known but not named. The folk who came here were impressed by the natural environment, it was like it was singing. An invitational hymn of sorts. Then they found another city on the far side, centuries old, but the original name idea stuck.”

“Aw, I had thought the Island sings music.” Haku felt a little disappointed at that but nevertheless kept his chin up and turned to Coriander. “But it’s a nice story, regardless. Maybe one day, the choir music here will be why Melody Island and Tune Town are named such?” Coriander gave a curious look.

Marjoram offered, “The island really is beautiful. Maybe you and Coriander should take a long walk after you eat? There’s plenty to see.” Hyssop’s eyes went a bit wide as he gave his wife a firm look.

Coriander lit up, “That sounds great!”

“Well…” Haku initially wanted to object since he was tasked to help out the village but Cadog’s mission was still the more important task.

Weighing between the two, Haku mentally apologized to Cadog and the Kirin’s crew before he took initiative. “I would like that.”

“Are there any famous sites or places that you have in mind?” He turned to Coriander.

Shoveling the rest of her food into her mouth, Coriander offered, “Uh, I’ll surprise you!”

“Where are we going?” Rue wondered.

Marjoram asked, “Actually, with Coriander gone, would you two be able to help me around here? I’ll have some yummy bread for you. And if you want you can grab the boys.”

Hyssop murmured, “You’re sending Cori off alone?”

“She’s not alone, she’ll be with Haku!” Hyssop didn’t seem to be eased by his wife’s insistence.

“I’ll be in your care then.” He smiled and bowed slightly to Coriander as he stood up, plate cleaned and finished. “Shall we?”

He gestured for her to lead the way before hearing on whether she’ll be safe.

“Don’t worry, sir. I won’t let anything happen to her.” Haku assured Hyssop. “I’m a marine after all.”
@PaulHaynek@AzureKnight@Crowvette@The Irish Tree

Skarsneek of the Red Hills

“Well, I guess we’ll have to gamble on Shizuka words.” He pointed to the sake merchant, not really liking the odd but if people insist on sneaking through the cart.

As he inspected the cart, he wondered just what position he should take that he can quickly spring out without any problem.

On hearing what Ayu should do, Skarsneek decided for the original plan.

“Stick outside and play the part of the merchant seller.” He suggested with a wave of his hand before gesturing to the cart. “Unless you’re confident sneaking in, we’re all gonna be packing together in the cart.”

With that, he unscrewed both of his club into a much more compact form and went inside the cart before extending a hand to Io.

“Allow me to help you, lady.”


Gringor of the Ironhide Tribe

“Spider Lady is Spider Lady.” Gringor said with a straight face, as he kept looking at the rocks. Already plotting his own course there if needed.

“Ok.” He cracked his neck and approached the rocks, though at hearing human lady of whether they should wait for Underboss Takeshi, Gringor turned. “Can climb up and set webs for Underboss till night.”

“If Underboss arrives, then no problem. If arrive late, then still can have fun with fight first.” He explained it with a crossed arm and looked at spider lady. “Spider Lady can hang there and not get tired, right?”

Wouldn’t want the underboss to miss out the fun after all. Gringor also gazed at the time, best to make their move at night when visibility is lowest for humans.
@PaulHaynek@AzureKnight@Crowvette@The Irish Tree

Skarsneek of the Redhill

He shrugged his shoulders at all the suggestions before going for the true and tried method.

"I suggest we just spike the drink the good old way with some drugs, and do the same for all their water source." Skarsneek pointed out before nodding his head left and right. "Sleeping ones, less obvious and more frustrating for their commanders.Maybe cut it in half and water half of it down perhaps? Make it so that more can join in."

"As to going inside the barrel, I won't suggest it. Too risky, competent soldiers would check all of them, and sake barrels aren't that hard to open either. Not unless one of you could fuddle them during the check." He pointed out before giving them a knowing look. "I tried that method before going in, not as fun as it sounds."

"But what I can do, is climb up those walls from another angle while they're inspecting Shizuka there." Skarsneek looked to the group and assess who he can carry. "I definitely can get liliana in with me, and maybe Io if she's strap to my back."

"Definitely harder for me to carry you, Shizuka." He pointed to the more regal of the two. "And honestly, you might just be able to sneak in the old fashion way. Same with Ayu, all you two need to do is pose as sake merchants."

"You'll have to figure out how to sneak those weapons in, I can carry backup weapons for you but I'll be at more of a risk when I climb those walls."


Gringor of the Ironhide Tribe

Gringor looked at the winding paths and rocky outface. It didn't look impossible to scale it but it wasn't going to be quiet.

Though perhaps, maybe they can use a more natural way?

"Spider lady can climb those rocks?" He asked Atsuha and pointed to the terrain. If done properly, they can scale it without much sound and from a completely unexpected angle.

It'll also allow them to actually locate the bois first before they proceed anyways.

"If Gringor up there, can pull you all of you up, Gringor strong." He saw a particular strong boulder that can be used as anchor at the very top, so he can hold and pull them.

"Or better idea?

@Hammerman@The Irish Tree@PaulHaynek @AzureKnight @Rezod92 @Crowvette @Nakushita

Skarsneek & Gringor

"Hold up they left?" Skarsneek tilted his head before rubbing it in dismay, that's another fighting force lost. He wondered why on earth did they left at such a crucial moment.

"They found a better fight?" Gringor asked Takeshi, that's probably the only reason he can think of. Not like he was complaining, more fight. Shame they had to leave before they can go bash those heavenly bois. Guess he and Shizuka will have to figure it out, though he wondered if Takeshi was willing to join.

"Bah." Skarsneek clicked his tongue but refrained from commenting further as Atsuha and Hinami voiced where they'd go.

Tapping his fingers, he wondered if he should join them and help Takeshi, the raid on the bay was more of his thing but prison busting is also something he can do.

He eyed his fellow strugglers, then his wife, and Takeshi with Kikyo on the side.

Decisions, decisions.

"I understand," Skarsneek nodded towards Atsuha and Hinami, trusting them on their decision. The two weren't that weak and the big picture take precedent here. "I'll help out the raid on the bay. You'll need some muscles at least to break in and fight back if they got more of those Obelisk."

"Take care, alright?" He rested a hand on Atsuha back and pulled her gently to his side before separating after longer than necessary.

Gringor didn't took long to make his own decision. "If Bois need head to be cracked to fight, then Gringor follow Underboss Takeshi."

That drew a look of annoyance from Skarsneek but a realization came as he considered the choice.

Atsuha would no doubt draw tons of heated looks, but Hinami and Gringor could pass for a human. At a far glance and if the latter wore a bag on his head. One that could help in the midst of chaos, combined with the latter strength, it was a higher chance.

Bah, he hated it but he had no luxury on the matter.

"Don't screw up and free the wrong people."

"Gobbo better hit right target then, and not his friend."

There was less heat in the two banter, this time at least.
[ARC 2]


Haku quickly led the way as he descended first, ropes being thrown towards him as he quickly wrapped it around the pier as the Kirin settled itself in the docks.

Gesturing a thumbs up to the crew, it was quickly followed as the Firstmate descended alongside the first party as they carried hammers, bags and nails before looking around for the one in-charge.

“Attention, citizens! We’re the 373th Marine of G-1 base! Due to the storm, our ship has suffered damages and requires supplies!” The Firstmate hollered and announced their intention as Haku looked around and fell behind them.

Looks like the storm also hit the area. Haku noted as he brought his cap lower to hide his face out of habit as he looked from the sides and studied the village. It didn’t seem there was plenty of damage, beyond the windows, unbolted furniture or smaller buildings, everything seemed fine enough.

Means they don’t have to stay here as long.

A shame. He wanted to see this so-called music specialty.

“We don’t expect you to provide it for free, so for the time being, we’ll render services in exchange for materials!” The Firstmate stepped aside and gestured to them, the ones that was chosen to go out were one in charge of maintenance and repair of the Kirin.

“If you need manpower, then simply ask for it and we’ll provide it!”

“Within reason.”

That had every marines stand straighter as Captain Cadog of the Kirin finally came down, wearing the white flowing coat of the marines and the word Justice emblazoned on its back. The smoky pipe in his mouth and thick beard showed the stony gaze of the man as each step he took rung loudly before leveling his look at his Marines first then the crowd

“Sir!” Each of them returned with a perfect salute and slammed a foot down at his arrival. Haku also did the same, as it was now in front of the civilians.

However, undercutting that image of most Marine captains looked like in the East Blue was the far more casual blue turtleneck sweater and a black jacket. Even the usual ship captain hat was black color instead of the traditional white.

In fact, some sharp eyes would find it hilarious when they noted he was wearing a black jacket underneath the white jacket of the Marines. Alongside a bandolier of metal flask all around his belt, and its content being obvious with the scent of alcohol wafting.

It wasn’t long after the landing that two folk of clear import stepped out, Haku spotting the shorter of the two elders waving his hand in front of his face, likely having got too strong a whiff of the captains ‘aroma’. His bald head shone under the dawnlight, his back arched and a cane in his hand

“All this formality is making me a bit nervous…” The village leader remarked. Adjusting his spectacles, he admitted, “We don’t exactly get a lot of company out here.”

Behind him was a surlier sort. Haku could sense an aura: far from killing intent, but certainly a rough, uncommon sensation in his time in the East. A quarterstaff was slung over the back of his long tan overcoat. It looked worn and well used.

“Just a fair warning: this isn’t lawless land. We pay out taxes to the Conch Kingdom.” His arms were crossed over his chest, defensively.

Haku's eyes went to the Village Leader first, looking quite normal but not out of the ordinary.

The second one caught his eyes immediately.

It was subtle but flowing. Confident and able to go into a fight, as he extended his senses and eyes studying the latter.

This one fought, and fought well. He narrowed his eyes, an unexpected find. Though then again, perhaps it’s sensible. After all, you either get protection from one of the Emperors, Marines, or strong enough to handle threats yourselves.

“Of course, only bottom feeders wouldn’t do their investigation nor abide by the law set out.” Cadog tilted his hat at that, the former already acknowledging the words before looking to the Village Leader again.

Cadog gestured his head to the crow’s nest of the Kirin. “We won’t be long, just some repairs and it’ll be done. We’ll handle our own food and water supplies, trade you some even if we get a big enough catch.”

Though something about the other person tickled Cadog’s memories, had he seen him before?

He hadn’t been stationed in the East Blue for a long time, ever since he had been promoted and transferred to the Grand Line before heading to the Devil Seas.

But it tickled him, nevertheless.

Staring for a moment longer, Cadog then reached for a flask, uncorked and took a quick swig of it. Heedless of how many actual procedures, lectures and disciplinary warnings he would’ve received if it was done by any other East Blue Captain.

Something for him to look into.

Letting out a sigh after his drink, Cadog gestured to the crew for them to get to work.

“We’ll need to clear the area first, most of my crew will handle that. Assign our carpenters and shipwrights alongside yours.” Cadog ordered as he looked at the area and was much more focused now. “Pile them up, those that can be reused, put them aside, sort the others out and see if the villagers want them.”

“Anyone missing or injured? How’s the supplies on your end-?”

Haku quickly went to his task alongside the other crewmates that started descending from the ship as Cadog was now discussing and ironing out the details with the Village Leader.

So many things to keep in mind, but still, he focused on his work and cleared the area.

Without much thinking, he cleared a particularly large tree branch sheared off from the wind. He was about to start breaking it for easier transportation until a twitch of his eyes glanced towards a particular direction out of instinct.

Someone’s watching? While the Captain was preoccupied, most of the townsfolk either moving off or engaging with the Marines, he recognized the touch of eyes on him and kept them in the corner of his own. Three sets half hidden behind a nearby building: the tallest blue, then a green one and a pink one, both much shorter. There was some shifting, a few hushed words.

Haku pondered for a moment even as he dragged the tree branch and continued pulling at the fallen branch easily before breaking it into smaller pieces with his bare hands, a work that usually requires small machetes

Then moving onwards, he placed the things that looked like it still can be used like chairs, parts of the wooden window shutters, tiles that are still in one piece, and scrap metals that had been sheared off. Minusing the occasional bricks that were torn from chimneys due to age.

He zipped around in the blink of an eye despite the leisurely body language.

It took a brief moment, but he was done. Most of the items that were to be disposed stacked in one big pile, next to the contrasting pile of neatly stacked items that can be reused again with a little cleaning.

Haku barely broke any sweat at all as he adjusted his navy cap, looking satisfied with his work even as the other marines from the Kirin had moved deeper in the village to see what else they could do to help.

With that done, he looked to where he felt the stares come from.

Oh, the locals. He spied, only seeing a bare glimpse of them from their position. One looked to be his age, dressed as a nun, while the other two were younger.

“Hello.” He bowed and greeted them politely, a habit from his days in Wano. “Is there anything else I can do to help?”

The nun held up her hands. “Oh, no! You’re working hard enough already.” The other two girls were clinging to the skirt of her habit. Tapping her fingers together, she wondered, “Er, actually…would it be a problem if we…helped you? Or at least shadowed you while you worked. Not that we’ll get in the way!”

“Sure, can you show the way to the next area hit by the storm? I’m pretty much done here anyways.” Haku nodded along and stepped back before giving a small smile.

The young nun lit up. “Of course!”

As they led the way, Haku's head tilted to the sides as he looked at the two younger girls following the nun.

“Are they your siblings?” He started off wrong intentionally, since he didn’t see much familial resemblance and that the eldest one wore those clothing related to faith, similar to shrine maidens and priest, but he recalled it also dealt with those orphans.

That, or they could be from different parents.

Still, it helps to break the ice. He then addressed the two little girls. “I’m not that scary, so don’t worry.”

The green-haired girl shirked away, while the youngest bluntly commented, “Are you a girl or a boy?”

She promptly received a bonk on the head. “Rue, you can’t just ask that!” The older girl gave a prompt correction. “I feel like a big sister but we’re not related. I’m Catherine Coriander. This is Angelica Rue and Asafoetida Peppermint.” Leaning in, she whispered, “Peppermint’s just being shy, she really likes the Marines.”

“It’s alright. Nice to meet you, Catherine.” Haku waved before he smiled at Catherine first then lowered his knees slightly to meet the two kids at their level. “Same for the two of you, Angelica, Asafoetida.”

“As to your question, it’s a secret.” He placed a finger on his lips and winked Rue. It was amusing to have a little fun now and then.

“But the marines? That’s unexpected, nowadays, I hear more people wanting to be pirates than anything.” Haku joked but that sentiment wasn’t exactly misplaced.

After all, fate might have been very different to him if he had boarded onto a pirate ship instead of the marines instead.

“Anything you’d like to know about?”

Rue whispered, “Who’s Assfooetida?”

Coriander insisted, “You can use our given names, it feels weird otherwise, uh…” She stopped, wondering, “Wh-what was your name?”

“Ah, understood. My mistake, Rue.” Haku sniggered inwardly at that as he stood straighter and placed a hand on his chest when he introduced himself. “I’m Haku, 373th Marine, G-1 base.”

Peppermint jumped in, “And where are you from? How long have you been a Marine? How did you join? Is it hard? Is your commander strong?”

“Oh! I’m from East Blue as well. It wasn’t that long, I just started a few months ago.” He answered without missing any beat at Peppermint questions. “I applied at the Marine base, trained, and then graduated.”

“But yes, being a marine is hard. Between patrol, lost ships, and pirates.”

At that last question, Haku glanced to the sides for a moment in thought before answering. “Well, he’s better than the average Captain.”

Cadog knows Ryuo, the three basics, and was given a devil fruit long before that.

Indeed, he was above average.

By Devil Seas standards at least.

“He does have a lot of experience however. So rest easy, there isn’t much the East Blue has that we can’t handle.”

Peppermint gaped. “W-what can’t you guys handle? Isn’t the East where the pirates are weakest?”

“Hold up!” Coriander butt in. Looking around, she wondered, ”Did the boys go home? I’ll bet they’ll want to-” There was a growl from her stomach, the young woman clutching her torso as she turned pink. ”Er, w-would you like to join us for breakfast?”

“Well, strong as the captain is, even he can’t do anything if the weather or sea wave becomes hard.” Haku knelt a little as he addressed Peppermint outburst, inwardly kicking himself for his poor choice of words. “Like our ship when it got struck by lightning.”

He then looked at their current area briefly before agreeing to her offer. “I’ll be glad to, please lead the way.”

The place was pretty much done, and it was in good hands anyway. It was time for the other mission to proceed.

Information gathering on the geography.

“Now now, don’t think you’re going to be able to get away that easily,” said the Village Elder as he, the old fighter, and Cadog moved on, the elder finding a place to sit, taking a bench still firmly in the ground. “We don’t get many visitors here, and you certainly seem like you have stories to tell! I’m sure most of us would rather our town be a little messy for the rest of the day than pass up the chance to meet some new folk.”

Cadog moved the tobacco pipe in his mouth from one end to the other and resisted the urge to sigh.

He let the elder sit first before moving to his own.

“Well, what stories do you want to hear first? If it’s the world, then the seas are still full of pirates as usual. East excluded. Same with the Grand Line and Devil Seas, but we’ll take those back one day.”

“But for us, not much of a story. We were passing when the storm hit,” Cadog gestured to the mast and started out a little vague at first. “Then that lightning struck, and here we are.”

From his bandolier, he took out another flask, uncorked it and offered it to the Village Elder first. The scent of a strong and oak came, signifying its origin as whisky rather than rum.

“That can’t be all the stories you have…” the elder mourned.

From behind him, the other older man said, “For the best. I’m sure the Captain would much rather get the repairs done and move on than spend a day appeasing a bunch of bumpkins.”

“If you insist, The Grand Line and Devil Seas are as troublesome as ever, however, our Admirals are doing work. Though the third seat is still empty.”

A moment came as he’s reminded of his mentor and grumblings.

“But I’m getting ahead of myself.”

“The reason they’re posting me here mainly is that I’m overdue for rotation.” Cadog continued as he adjusted himself. “We’ve been inspecting Marines bases too. Make sure everything are in tip top condition. Good chance to show the recruits the ropes as well.”

Though mostly, just Haku. Cadog kept that to himself, most of his Marine crew were all veterans and came either from the Grand Line or the Devil’s Seas.

Granted, perhaps he can find a diamond in the rough here?

“It’s been awhile since I was last here. I’m from the East Blue originally,” Cadog intentionally left out which village he came from for obvious reason. “Helps to remind myself of why I keep doing this.”

“Oh, you’re from the East? I wonder-” the elder began, the man behind him widening his eyes in what Cadog recognized as a brief moment of alarm, “-if you ever crossed paths with the Commodore here?”

The other man grimaced. “Might’ve, might not have.” He rubbed his temple, clearly preferring this wasn’t brought up. “Commodore Ryu Burnet, 13th Patrol Division was where I operated as commanding officer, but I also spent a lot of time on the 16th, and at E-42 before the base was decommissioned.”

A former commodore? That changes things. Cadog lifted his hat, stood up and saluted more out of habit than anything. “I see, my mistake, sir.”

“But as to crossing paths, I don’t believe so. The 13th’s Commodore when I first served here was a different one,” He put back his hat and then sat back down, adjusting his shoulders to let the coat of his hang a bit. “And afterwards, I was transferred to the Grand Line.”

He’ll have to do some digging and a call later to find out more. This also meant parts of his original plan had to be altered as well.

“But what made you settle here? Your home village too?” Cadog asked as he looked at Ryu, he knew that’s what he’d do if he ever retires from the marines. Perhaps some gardening and fishing too.

Not alone of course. A kid appeared in his mind but he pushed it off.

“Hmm? Nah, I’ve only been here on Melody for a few years,” Ryu admitted. “I was looking for some peace and quiet.”

“Well, I hope we don’t disappoint,” Cicely said as he stood, cane digging into the dirt. He coughed for a moment before saying, “Well, I should let you get to your business. If you want quicker repairs done, we can spare some of our tradesmen. And if you ever feel like giving your men some downtime we can arrange something.”

“That’ll be good, thank you for your cooperation. Once everything is done, I’ll see if HQ is willing to part some down time with them.”

“Commo-Ryu Burnet.” He quickly corrected himself when addressing the former Commodore. “Can you walk with me a bit? I’m still unfamiliar with the area, and there might be places I need a guide.” The man looked to Cicely for a moment before giving a reticent nod.

It wasn’t an utter lie, he didn’t know the island well enough despite him knowing these water ways.

The latter being a former marine made things a lot simpler as well, since he could share some details.

Also, I can kill two birds with one stone if there was a leak. Cadog coldly thought, a bitter experience learned from his time on the Devil Seas.

Well, he’ll proceed with that in mind.
@Hammerman@The Irish Tree@PaulHaynek @AzureKnight @Rezod92 @Crowvette @Nakushita

Skarsneek of the Red Hills

“If you say so then.” Skarsneek shrugged, not really liking Takeshi decision but he’ll have to live with it.

Hearing Ayu talks of reinforcement, and then Kikyo outburst before letting on that there’s another regiment of Shizuyamn warriors also had Skarsneek gears turning as he quickly planned for it.

Fortunately, Takeshi seemed to be in agreement of taking both reinforcements. Something that they desperately need now.

“Sounds good to me.” He then announced to Takeshi and slapped him on the back, seeing that Kikyo didn’t like the idea as the latter was hoping to get some measure of support from her. “I suggest we get your warriors first then we take the port.”

“Sides, you got your hands full with your missus there. Better to let her get this first.” He idly whispered to Takeshi while making sure Kikyo can’t hear him as he eyeballed towards her direction.

“Go and have some quiet time with her later. We’ll deal with the clean up.”

Though his mood changed when he smelled a familiar presence, it wasn’t so much of an odor but a pheromone.

Gringor of the Ironhide Tribe

Smashing the rock aside, Gringor felt a slight tingling over his skin before he went back to the fight.

Moment later as the Varjans flee, he caught scent of a familiar presence and turned towards it.

Kerry shouted, then Alice didn’t seem to like it and shouted back before punching Kerry. The latter proceeded to leave quickly, stomping even.

He only walked and shared a look with Shizuka and a thumb pointed towards the sea. “Was it a good fight?”

Whether he got his answer or not, Gringor moved back to the village and was with the rest of them. Just in time as it looked like they’re done talking.

“Whatever you say, under-boss.” Gringor replied to Takeshi, honestly he didn’t even heard the rest and just arrived after all but whatever was outlined, it must be good.

Gringor & Skarsneek

“Also, there’s a big stone outside. Bee girl said it mucks magic. Not sure what is it, so I smash it. Maybe you should get some sneaky bois for it.”

“Big stone that mucks magic? That’s an anti-magic Obelisk, why would-wait, of course they would. Well, that’s bungles some of our strength.” Skarsneek looked stunned for a moment before realizing with an eyeroll that yes, of course the Varjans would bring such a thing even if it’s just a refuge place.

Hate it or love it, Skarsneek had to admit that Varjan's tendency for overkill was indeed quite admirable.

“Right, take note! If you any big large blocks, target those so we can use our own magic!” Skarsneek quickly got down and started to draw it on the ground using a pointy stick, outlining the shape, runes, and common points that they shared for everyone to see. “Takeshi, you’ll want to ask for your own spies to prioritize sabotage these things too. They’ll interfere with your onmyo magics as well.”

“Can also use them as rocks, lob them back.” Gringor suggested to Skarsneek, the latter pausing for a moment before coming to a blank. He never thought of that since he preferred to avoid or destroy them.

“....Anyone can verify if we can repurpose those anti-magic obelisks, load them into a catapult and see if it shuts down their magic too?
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