The Monthly PAW: May 2020 Voting
It's voting time! We got some nice submissions this month. A lot of photos of things for our party, beautiful drawings and there's an amazing story for the writing part as well. Unfortunately it's the only story I got though.
So I guess congratulations to Judgement for winning the writing category! :
If possible (if there's enough submissions), you have to vote for 3 submissions in each category.
Post your vote in this thread
Do not vote for your own submissions. In case there aren't enough submissions though, you can still vote for it but that vote simply won't be counted.
The points for the voting are called "paws". First place votes are worth 3 paws, second place votes are worth 2 paws and third place votes are worth 1 paw.
For voting you can use the following form:
Photography - Lety's have a Party
Art - Nico Robin
by Iki Hotaro
Writing - Void Century
A Young Man’s Will
Yesterday, it rained. It’s impossible to state that with certainty, of course, because Fishman Island lies deep beneath the ocean’s surface. Light is the only weather condition getting through to these depths, via Eve, the Sunlight Tree. But I’m sure that yesterday was a grey day. A day to be mourned; a day to mourn my best friend. We barely escaped the World Government extremists, who chased us on our journey to Fishman Island, but we didn’t avoid getting wounded. Our ship was ravaged heavily on the way here. I had to recover for a week after suffering several injuries to my arms and legs, and my best friend was shot with a poisoned dart. That damned dart. No matter what the Fishmen here tried to do to cure the illness that followed, it was clear that nothing could be done to save him. It was the result of the wicked actions of those extremists; the ones who have tried to end the Kozuki bloodline for years, now. Kozuki Junkyō was my dear friend, and yesterday our enemies succeeded in ending his life. I’m sure that the Kozuki’s ability to create indestructible Memory Stones is a threat to them. They have been trying to wipe all memory of the past decennia from existence. In order to reach their goal, they will have to erase all the unforgivable things they have done. If they don’t, the entire world will stand up against them and their ideals. My former king and childhood friend, Hebi, informed me that this task was almost complete. He told me he would have no choice but to participate in the World Government project himself, as “the diplomatic difficulties would otherwise be unforeseeable”; his own words. Such a choice would imply the forfeit of sovereignty and the justification of genocide all across the globe. I thought him mad. When I told him that such an act would be immoral, he responded that he would never abandon the well-being of his subjects. To prove it to me, he promised to keep me updated about the rise of the World Government. He told me to go to Fishman Island, to try and befriend the royal family there, and to bring fishmen to the surface somehow. If I were to succeed, he said, the World Government extremists would have no argument against the unity and freedom of the world. So, bearing his logic in mind, I embarked on my journey to Fishman Island, hoping to find the mermaid princess, also known as ‘Poseidon’. I had great hopes. But here we are. I can only weep now, and try to make things right myself.
In his last effort, Junkyō was able to carve a Memory Stone dedicated to Poseidon. I wanted to apologize to her. I promised to help bring fishmen and humans together once more. Not only to stop the rise of the World Government, but also to restore the bond between humans and fishmen, which collapsed due to the evil deeds of the World Government extremists during the past decades. If we would have succeeded, we could have shown the world that it could stand up for itself. We could have shown that races are arbitrary labels that keep the inhabitants of the world distanced from each other. With Poseidon’s powers, the Noah could have easily acted as the means to bring fishmen to the surface. It would have been the perfect vessel. The only person she needed was a diplomat; somebody who could vouch for each race, and unite them again. But when we arrived here, fate decided to take an alternative route. I was about to lose my best friend. In addition to that, those World Government bastards have reached a level on which they won’t listen to reason anymore. Fishmen and humans cannot be united just yet: there is a score to settle with the wicked, first. You have my word, Junkyō. You will not have died in vain. Yesterday, it rained. Today, the sun will burn brightly.
A fresh morning had arrived. The king, the princess and many civilians of the Ryugu Kingdom had gathered to watch their most capable warriors depart to the surface. The first, Shenlong, was known for his amazing speed and strength. He was a lean, light blue marlin fishman, with a pointy nose. The second, Bruny, was undefeated in battle since he was a mere six years of age. He was sturdy, had a deep red skin and seemed to be some kind of pufferfish fishman. With them, was a man, clad in brown robes. Only the king and the princess seemed to recognize the man, but everybody seemed intimidated by his keen glance. He was definitely determined to accomplish some crazy goal.
“Today will be an important day! Your brave warriors of the sea have decided to join me in my quest for justice! Before humans and fishmen can be united, mankind needs to be mature enough to be able to do so. Today, the dark side of humanity will be put to an end. Your brave warriors will assist me in doing so, and I promise I will succeed!”
The man seemed to have finished speaking in front of the audience, but nobody dared to make a sound. What did he just announce?
“My friend, Kozuki Junkyō… He will not have died for nothing. His clan will be avenged, and the wicked will be stopped. Shenlong and Bruny will assist me to climb the Red Line, infiltrate in the Holy Land of Mariejois and end the World Government movement! This is the only way to be able to unite both our races once more. I am sorry to keep you all waiting, humanity is just not ready as of now. I have left my apology letter to your princess in the Sea Forest. To everyone who can read the ancient language: feel free to pay it a visit. Now, I bid you all… a heartfelt farewell.”
With these words, the man and his companions jumped onto his newly coated ship, as the crowd finally started to realise what was about to happen.
“Go, Shenlong! Go, Bruny! Aid our advocate of interracial balance in the completion of his quest, and we shall reward you handsomely! The course of the entire world will be decided by the outcome of this mission. Be safe, and be successful!”
The king had spoken, and the crowd broke out in a mighty roar. Any doubts about the journey had seemed to turn into excitement.
“We won’t disappoint you, your grace! Chachacha!”, Shenlong chuckled.
Bruny supported him: “Ignorant humans don’t stand a chance against us! Yeeheehee!”
And so, the ship headed off. It wasn’t very long until the crowd became a small spec in the distance. The ship was in perfect shape. At this rate, they would reach the surface of the Grand Line within an hour. However, it was customary that the crew would gather to go over the plan of ascent, before leaving the dome of Fishman Island. The man, Shenlong, Bruny and the rest of the crew came together and discussed their tactics.
“Did you check the coating, Frig?”, the man asked one of his crew members.
“Yessir, stable and ready to ascend!”
“Good. What about the mast, Henry? Is it ready for deep sea pressure and open air alike?”
“For sure, sir. We’re ready to sail the Grand Line 10 times over.”
“That’s what I like to hear! Great. Now, Shenlong, to finalize our preparations: did you manage to fetch the climbing gear?”
“Yessir, without these climbing hooks it would be near impossible to climb the Red Line. We made sure to have them created out of the strongest steel on Fishman Island. We shouldn’t have any problems ascending the wall, as long as the weather is favorable. We even got our hands on a rope, for extra security, and some fancy Misopp smoke bombs in case of emergency.”
“Near impossible, huh?”, Bruny snorted, “I bet I could ascend the wall carrying you both, with those damn hooks right between my teeth.”
Bruny opened his mouth wide, showing his impressive jaws. The crew members, who were not used to transporting fishman warriors on their ship, looked at each other in awe and disbelief.
“Yeah, yeah. Just keep to the plan, Bruny. You already know it’s my task to carry diplomat boy to the top. Nothing’s gonna change that. If you don’t wanna use the hooks, though, that’s fine by me. Just don’t lemme hear you whine, when climbing that damn wall with your bare hands turns out to be too much for you! Chachacha!”, Shenlong cackled.
Bruny was noticeably offended.
“How dare you?! I’m by far the strongest fishman on Fishman Island! Nothing’s too much for me, idiot! Yeeheehee!”
“That’s enough, guys.”
The man broke up the bickering just as quickly as it begun, and neither fishman dared to oppose him. There was one crew member, though, who tried his luck.
“E-Everything’s all good and well, but… I’ve got one question, sir, if that’s alright?”
“Alright… I-I was wondering… How exactly are you gonna stop the World Government extremists on their own turf, sir?”
Some crew members started whispering, as the tension aboard the ship was steadily rising. Nobody had even dared to question the man’s concrete plans, and yet, everyone was just as curious as their crew mate.
“Right… I guess I do owe you guys an explanation.”
The whispers settled down, and everybody listened with full attention to what the man had to say.
“It’s true that I intend to stop those World Government idiots. Now, I wouldn’t risk my life if I didn’t know what I was doing. So, to soothe your minds, I’ll tell you why I’m confident this mission will succeed.”
The man sat down comfortably, and turned his gaze to the round, iron portal that leads out of Fishman Island. There was a short silence, before he continued.
“I have a friend. His name is Hebi. Before I set out to reach Fishman Island, he promised me to keep me informed about the development of the World Government.”
“Who is that guy…?”
“Hold your horses! Let me finish. Hebi is not just my friend, he’s also my king-”
“He’s his king, too…?”
“The next idiot who interrupts me, loses his tiny toe.”
“Sigh… Alright, let me explain. He promised me to keep me updated about World Government affairs to show loyalty to his subjects. He’s always been one of the most attentive people I know, continuously showing an interest in people and their well-being. That’s why I called him with my Den Den Mushi yesterday, right after Junkyō passed away.
I told him I wanted to end the World Government movement as soon as possible, so I needed all the information he could give me. He responded… with a most ingenious plan.”
“I’m kind of curious. I’ve only been ordered to get you inside of Pangea Castle, but I never actually thought of what you’d do, once you’d be inside. Would you mind sharing the plan with us?”, Shenlong asked.
“I was planning to share it, indeed. Hebi gave me some very important information. He told me that today... the World Government will be founded. At eight o’ clock.”
Everyone was stunned. Rumours had it that the World Government movement was just a group of extremists, never really anywhere near the completion of their ultimate goal. This news struck the crew hard.
“Hebi also told me that the kings of twenty nations will be present. Note that most of those kings are fervent World Government extremists. Without them, the movement will have to be disbanded. That’s why… I’m going to plant a bomb, one hour before the gathering is held.”
“WHAAAAT?!”, the entire crew screamed, all at once.
“I know this might be a shock, but it’s the only way to stop the world from undergoing an era of subjection to these monsters. Hebi will make sure to be absent during the foundation of the World Government at Pangea Castle, so that we can both survive and unite the world again, once everything is over.”
The crew was shocked.
“This means you’re going to… k-kill 19 people?”, one crew member asked.
“Yes. Bad people. If any of you do not support my mission, you are free to leave this ship whenever you want. There will be no hard feelings.”
“Good. I hope this cleared up some confusion. Now, if there are no more questions: let the mission commence!”
Everybody went back to their post, although the news was a hard pill to swallow for some. Nevertheless, the ship made its way out of Fishman Island and the ascension to the surface of the Grand Line had officially begun.
Around fifty minutes had passed, and light shone at the horizon. The surface was in sight. It had been hard work to get from the bottom of the ocean right back to the surface. The crew cheered delightfully.
“Get ready to surface!”, the man yelled.
The crew held on tightly to the ship, as it neared the surface at an incredible speed. Suddenly, water splattered in every direction, a blue sky became visible, and the burning sun shone brightly in the crew members’ faces. They had made it! The ship was now floating peacefully on an unexpectedly calm sea. In front of the ship stood a huge, red wall. It reached the horizons to the west and to the east; it seemed to go on forever.
“The Red Line keeps amazing me.”
“I’m just glad we’re alive…”
“Give yourself a break, this trip was easy!”
“Never thought I’d live to see the sun with my very own eyes one day”, Bruny said.
Shenlong countered his emotional remark: “Whelp, better not lose your focus already, we’ve got a long climb ahead of us! Chacha!”
They both laughed and started preparing for the climb. Shenlong equipped the climbing hooks and smoke bombs, and carried the man on his back. Bruny refused to equip climbing hooks, but did bring his own armour, in order to maximize his defenses. The crew steered the ship as close to the Red Line as possible. When they got to the right spot, they waved the man and the two fishmen goodbye.
“Good luck on your way back!”, said the man, “And don’t forget to send the princess my regards! She gave me the finest fishmen she had to carry out this task. I will be forever indebted to her.”
“Kick some ass, dude!”
After receiving these encouraging words, the ship started its descent back to the depths of the Grand Line, and the fishmen started their ascent to the top of the Red Line.
Three hours had passed. Shenlong and Bruny had been giving it their all and they had almost completed eighty percent of the ascent. For Shenlong, it hadn’t been a problem at all, but for Bruny, the climb started to become a struggle.
“Huff… Puff… Guys, maybe I should return… It doesn’t look like there’s anyone here. You should both aim for the top, I’m sure you don’t need someone defending you”, Bruny wheezed.
Shenlong did see his point. “I told you, you should have worn climbing hooks! Now you’re worn out before we even reach our goal.”
“Huff… Please spare me your banter.”
“... Maybe you’re right. It has been a very calm climb up until now.”
Then, out of nowhere, a murder of crows approached the fishmen, and started flocking around Shenlong. The man started flapping wildly with his arms, as Shenlong tried to keep his balance. Bruny, immediately regretting everything he had said before, concentrated all his remaining energy into his limbs to make a huge leap towards Shenlong, right through the murder of crows, fending them off for a while.
“Thanks, Bruny! Be careful though, you don’t have a lot of energy left!”
“I’ll be fine, go…! Huff… You guys need to reach the top as soon as possible!”
The crows had been fended off for a short while, but they made their return to focus on Bruny, this time.
“Hey! Leave me alone! Huff…”
“Watch your step, Bruny!”, the man screamed, watching how Bruny misplaced his foot on a small, loose rock.
“I’m kinda busy he- WHOAA!”
The rock under Bruny’s foot crumbled away, causing him to lose his grip.
“BRUNY!!!” Shenlong cried.
“No! Shenlong! Watch yourself, don’t look down!! If you fall, the entire world will suffer from it!”
The crows had flown away again, but Bruny was nowhere to be seen.
“Bruny… BRUNY! Please, answer me!”
No response, no matter how many times Shenlong called his name.
The man sat there, silently. On Shenlong’s back. Knowing that another ally had fallen on his behalf. First Junkyō, and now Bruny. But he had to go on. He couldn’t afford to let the guilt get the best of him.
“Shenlong… I’m sorry. We need to push on.”
Fighting the tears, Shenlong swallowed his sorrow for a while and tried with all his might to focus on the job at hand.
“... I understand.”
After a short, lonely climb, Shenlong had reached the top of the Red Line. Next to a forest of trees and a giant pathway, a huge, white castle had become visible. Pangea Castle. It wasn’t too far away. The man dismounted the fishman and took some of his smoke bombs, just in case.
“I… I don’t know what to say”, the man uttered.
“Forget it. Focus on the job. That’s what matters. That’s what Bruny set out to accomplish, too.”
“You’re great, Shenlong. And so was he.”
“Indeed, he was.”
The man knew they had no time to lose, but didn’t want to be disrespectful to the one who had sacrificed his life for this very mission. The two stood there in silence for a short while, before the man started up the conversation once more.
“So… I was thinking… Maybe it would be better if I continued on my own.”
“I figured enough people have died for something I want to achieve. Even if it’s for the good of the entire world, I don’t want to make more sacrifices.”
“To achieve a goal such as yours, sacrifices are necessary.”
The man was silenced, and a little bit flabbergasted by Shenlong’s reaction. He finally decided to stay true to his decision.
“Go home, Shenlong. You have helped me so much already. I thank you deeply, and I dismiss you from this duty.”
“... I don’t take orders from you. But I thank you for thinking of me. I’ll remain here for a while, before I decide what to do next.”
“As you wish.”
After these final words, the man made his way to the forest, and Shenlong disappeared in the distance. The forest was thick, but he managed to find a way through. The tower of Pangea Castle was clearly visible. High above the ground, a round clock was hanging above the gates in front of the castle. 18. He had about 15 minutes left to sneak into the castle and plant the bomb, then another 15 to get out again and about another 30 to reach the edge of the Red Line and start his descent back to the Grand Line. Bearing this in mind, he crept closer and reached the doors of the gate. They were closed. How could he possibly get through them?
The gods seemed to have overheard his prayers, as the gates opened and two guards on patrol duty came out of the castle courtyard. This was his chance to sneak in! He crept closer and closer, very slowly, until the guards were out of sight. The doors weren’t entirely shut yet. He’d have to make a run for it. He counted down from three, and… GO! He ran as fast as he could, trying to get beyond the doors without being seen. 5 paces left. 2 paces left. 1 piece- i mean, pace. He made it!
Did he? As the man stepped through the door with one of his feet, a guard screamed out.
“Hey! What’s that noise?!”
The man froze. He had been heard. The second guard confirmed the other’s observation.
“Yeah, what is it?! It came from over there!”
What to do? If he moved, the guards would surely hear him. If he didn’t move, the guards would eventually find him. There was no way out. Game over.
“I’m here!! Come find me, you World Government idiots!”
Suddenly, a familiar voice emanated from a distance. The man’s guts turned. This couldn’t be real. He came back.
It was Shenlong.
“Come and get me, you suckers!”
“Wait a minute, we’re not suckers!!”
“Let alone idiots!! You’ll die for this!”
Struggling sounds from the bushes made for an unnoticed escape for the man. The gates closed. No way back now. No sounds from the other side of the gate. No time to lose. The man had to move forward, to the castle. Strangely enough, there were no guards whatsoever guarding the main doors. He could walk right in. But before he could make a real move, the man heard a big thud, and crows flew up from trees far behind him. An icy scream from the distance. He knew exactly what it meant. This was it. Both his fishman friends had given their lives for his mission. He wanted to give up so badly, but this was no time to sob, no time to mourn. There was only one goal. A goal that had to be achieved in order to honor his friends’ deaths. He was determined to achieve it.
I’m sorry, Poseidon. Too many have already died. This madness must stop right now, it is of utmost importance. Today, my plan will succeed, the World Government movement will be done, and we will be able to unite the world once more. I have been wandering in this empty castle for quite some time now, but I finally found some really huge steps. They’re so huge, there’s no denying they will lead me to their most central room. The room where they will gather to try to found their World Government.
Not on my watch. Mark my words.
The man ascended the steps and found himself in a giant room. A dark room, with even more steps, and only one slight ray of light. At the very top of the steps stood some kind of throne. It resembled the needle of a compass, pointing upwards, as if to symbolize the center of the entire world. The ray of light shone solely upon this throne, and the space around it was covered by kingly curtains. However, there was something strange about it: nobody was sitting on it.
“Right… All I need to do now, is plant this Tamate Box with explosives, set the timer and get the heck out of here.”
The man sprinted towards the empty throne, as the huge clock outside tolls seven times.
“Seven o’ clock… I made it in time.”
The man reached the throne and whipped out his Tamate Box. Finally he could end all of this. Finally he could avenge his friend, Kozuki Junkyō, who had assisted him during so many of his travels. Finally the nightmare of losing everyone around him could end. Finally, the World Government movement could be stopped. Finally-
“Greetings, Joy Boy.”
Joy Boy froze.
“I guess you didn’t expect me here. Don’t bother planting your little fireworks, you’re surrounded.”
Who the hell could this be? And what is it today with all those familiar voices?
“I’m sorry to do this to you, old friend, but you have been a nuisance for way too long. Now, don’t be shy. Turn around.”
Joy Boy turned, and his worst nightmare became reality.
“Why…? Hebi…? Why are you here...?”
“Ghahahaha! I’m sorry, Joy Boy. There was no way I could turn down becoming a part of the World Government. It’s in the best interest of my people. I promise you. Ghahaha!”
“How could you?! You told me the gathering would start at eight o’ clock… How could you lie to me…?”
The kings surrounding Joy Boy were all slowly closing in on him.
“How could I? It's all I've been doing from the very beginning! Once we discussed your plan to bombard the World Government over the Den Den Mushi, I made sure you'd feel safe around this time. Easier for us to ambush you. And that's just what you deserve. Since we were small kids, I was destined to become king, and still everyone loved you more, right from the bat. You were the just one, the wise one, the diplomatic one. Now, I’ll make the most lucrative diplomatic move any king of our country has ever made! And I’ll go down in history for it. No; I will be the one to write the history of all of this. We will all be the just ones! The wise ones!”
“Mad? I would be mad to turn against such a powerful movement. As you can see, it hasn’t done you any good. Although, I have to admit you didn’t go easy on us. It would all have been way easier if you had just died when I sent out that assassination party to hunt you down on your way to Fishman Island. Luckily, we have you cornered now.”
“Wait, you sent that assassination ship? You tried to send me to my grave when I had just left our home? …You killed Junkyō?”
“And I’m glad I did! Serves those Kozuki right for documenting the wrong history.”
“You will never get away with this, Hebi.”
“Wrong. The World Government will get away with everything. Because, from now on, we own everything. We can’t be stopped. You, on the other hand, are the one who’s not getting away!”
The kings all drew their swords, and started charging towards the empty throne. Joy Boy was done for. He couldn’t trigger his bomb, he had lost his friends and he was far away from home. Then, he remembered something. There was only one option left to stop the World Government. It wouldn’t happen today, though. It would also likely not happen in the upcoming year, or the decade after that. But it was an investment in the future. The final remaining option. Clinging to his last bit of hope, he grabbed his Misopp smoke bombs, threw them on the ground all at once, and ran for his life.
“Whoa! Where did all that smoke come from?!”
“Where has Joy Boy gone...?”
“Wasn’t he just here?!”
Hebi knew they wouldn’t catch him today. They hadn’t anticipated this trump card. However, they didn't need to, and he realized that.
“Brothers, it’s fine, it’s fine! He has nobody left. He can only run now. And we… we have all the power in the world! Let’s start the dawn of a new era. An era in which everybody on the entire planet learns of the true history of this world, and forgets about the fake, irrelevant history. Let’s celebrate our power! Let’s celebrate the World Government!”
The kings all cheered three times, and raised their swords up high. To commemorate the foundation of the World Government, they stuck their swords in the ground, in front of the Empty Throne, to symbolize everyone’s equal status in the Government. Just like that, a new era had begun.
A calm breeze kissed the cheeks of a man’s silhouette, as one tear was rolling down his face. He was staring at the object laying in front of him, in the swaying tall grass. It had been way too long since he visited this island. The perfect place to leave everything that is needed to reveal the truth someday. He turned around, leaving the object at its designated spot, and started wandering towards the shore. A golden glow emanated from the beach, and his feet burned, as they buried themselves in the sand. A little bit further. Just a little bit, so that his feet would be able to meet the gentle waves of the ocean. There, he stood for a while.
“Junkyō, Poseidon... I’m sorry. I couldn’t bring you justice. Who knows what will become of the world, when history is written by the victors...?”
He couldn’t fight the tears anymore. All his work seemed to have been for nought. Feelings of failure, sorrow, and desperation overwhelmed him; they were all too much to handle. Until suddenly, unexpectedly, through his streaming tears... a wide grin covered his face. He took off his straw hat and squeezed it firmly against his chest.
“It’s too late now, too late to stop it all by myself. But one day, somebody will inherit my will. And when he does… The world will be shaken to its core.”
His grin turned into a smile, and his smile turned into laughter. He had done all he could. It was time for somebody else to continue his work. To bring true balance to the world. To remind every being on this earth that they are free. He knew that, eventually, the newly established World Government would succumb to this truth. Armed with that belief, he surrendered himself to his surroundings, which, oddly enough, seemed to comfort him. The wind settled down, the grass stopped swaying, and the man’s laughter died out, as he vanished beneath the waves.
Voting lasts until Saturday, the 30th of May. I will provide all the participants with the participation VCC now. If you have any questions about the voting, feel free to ask! :