Fists clenched and teeth gritted, Natsu stormed through an endless stream of dark tunnels in search for his beloved partner. It had been a long time since somebody managed to anger him to the point of blunt hatred. And for that person to be somebody he only met twice was even more of a surprise. The only few times he remembered being this angry was when Jellal almost sacrificed Erza in the Tower of Heaven and when Edola's soldiers dragged Lucy away into a dark prison cell.
There were probably a few more instances, but he was too occupied to recount them now.
The dark aura of doom which seemed to surround him since that seaweed headed guy appeared, thickened as the minutes ticked by. Deep inside his heart, the dragon slayer knew that the anger he felt right now was different to what he usually felt when someone threatened to harm his friends. Maybe it was because it was his partner who was kidnapped. Slowly he came to the realization that what he felt for Lucy was very different from what he felt for his other friends.
Lucy was his favorite person.
Having her ripped from his side like this, made it painfully obvious how much he missed having her around. Even when she constantly complained about everything or scolded him for his immature behavior with that stern voice, Natsu couldn't imagine living without her. Being with her has become as natural as breathing for him.
The constant smell of blood only spurred Natsu's need to find her as soon as possible. Gray was right, he had to trust Lucy and was sure that as soon as the librarian turned his back he'd deal with the wrath of the celestial wizard. He still worried for her though, hopefully she still had her keys. That Verda or whatever his name was didn't know what was coming for him.
Natsu rounded a corner, hoping that he finally found the right path when something fluffy collided with his face. Screaming in shock, he lost his footing on the slippery ground and landed on his butt.
"Natsuuu ~ I missed you so much!" A familiar high-pitched voice squealed and hugged his face even tighter. "Where have you been?"
"Happy? I've been underground the entire time. It's good to see you buddy." Surprised but pleased by the arrival of his blue cat, he pried the feline off his face. Quickly scanning his friend for injuries, Natsu was relieved to find none."Where are the others? What happened?"
"Since Lucy and you were taking your sweet time, we got worried and went to the library. Erza was really angry when she saw the mess in there." Natsu flinched. There was a lot of pain in the future if the warrior woman got his hands on him. "Then we found the hidden entrance and followed the path, but we got separated somehow and ..." Happy tried to explain while hysterically flapping his tiny arms. " … then I met you."
"Okay, calm down. They can take care of themselves. More importantly, Lucy got kidnapped by the leader of the dark guild – he's a really shitty piece of work by the way – and we need to find her!" The dragon-slayer felt a lot calmer now that one of his friends was by his side. He never really liked to be alone, even though he could handle almost any enemy by himself, it just wasn't as much fun. "Once we've beaten him, we can get out of this place and all go home together."
Together with Happy, the fire dragon slayer continued his search only to stumble upon a room that looked like a grande cage. Stalactites were hanging from the ceiling, looming over the array of abandoned buildings. Flickering candles were scattered across the space and threw ghostly shadows on the angular stone walls. So Lucy wasn't wrong at all, there was an old city underneath the popular tourism spot. Occupying the center of the cave were two people who looked as if they were ready for battle. Natsu only recognized one of them and sort of wished he didn't.
"Erza! Where did you come from?" Natsu greeted her, more scared than happy. Said woman turned around with a glare that made him freeze in his place. Oh crap, she was still angry about the library incident and Natsu wished that he could sink into the ground and disappear. Maybe … just maybe, if he acted fast enough he could outrun the demon until he found another complicated tunnel system to get lost in.
"You," Erza shoutet and pointed a well-sharpened sword at him. Yep, she definitely wanted to kill him. Natsu flinched and took a step back, eying her weapon cautiously. "I will deal with you when we get out of this. For now, I will have to deal with this guy." The breath the fire wizard unconsciously held rushed out of his mouth. Erza turned back to her opponent who had observed their short reuinion with disinterest. "Who are you and what do you have to do with Chaos Hunter? Answer truthfully or you will be sorry."
"Tch. Could you quiet down a bit? I'm gonna get a headache from all that shouting," the man answered and rubbed his temples. Light brown bangs fell into his face when he cocked his head to the side and lazily opened one eye. "My name is Nathan and yes, I'm a member of Chaos Hunter. Are you satisfied?"
"You are Duke Pandera's son." Erza couldn't trust her ears, shock evident on her face."We were tasked to rescue you by our client!"
The conversation was totally lost on Natsu, he just stared at them in confusion.
"Oh, really? That was to be expected from that lying old geezer. If you're here to rescue me, you're clearly wasing your time." Nathan yawned and let himself fall to the ground in a more relaxed position. He used one of his hands to support his head. The red-haired woman quirked an eyebrow, wondering why the person who they were supposed to save was a member of the guild that supposedly kidnapped him. There had to be a misunderstanding.
"Hm, you don't seem eager to fight." Erza's gaze traveled between Nathan and the path behind him which lead deeper into the elaborate undergound city. "Would you kindly let us pass or do I need to use force? We need to find the rest of your guild and hand them over to the government."
Nathan smirked and blew some brown strands out of his face. "Sorry, but no can do. Our guild master ordered me not to let anyone pass. After all, he wants some private time with your blonde friend. Ah ~ it's such a pain though, all I wanted was some peace and quiet."
Natsu hissed angrily and he lit the flames on his hands. He'd burn that bastard to a crisp, if he did something to Lucy. The fire wizard stepped forward, ready to attack the brunet man."Where the hell is she? What are you doing with her!? Tell me or you'll regret it!"
Erza held him back just in time, struggling quite a bit against the heat that leaked from his fists but fixing him with calm eyes. The warrior woman's gaze silently warned him to calm down. He didn't want to cool down, he wanted to have Lucy save and sound in his arms. The dragon slayer struggled violently against her iron grasp, but unfortunately his childhood friend was stronger than him. Quietly and almost imperceptibly, she motioned her head towards the door behind Nathan and Natsu nodded in response.
"Leave him to me and find Lucy, okay?" Erza smiled confidently. "When I'm finished with him, I'll go look for Gray and Juvia."
Without wasting a second, the furious woman let her friend go and charged at the surprised brunet who barely dodged her attack. Meanwhile, Natsu ran towards the exit at the other end of the cave with his blue cat flying behind him. Impatiently, he kicked the door out of its angles while Happy watched him with worry. Of course, he had often witnessed his companion's fits of anger but this time it was different. Natsu seemed really on edge.
"Maybe I can pick up her scent!" Sniffing the air, the fire magician tried his best to pick up the trace of her familiar smell. Suprisingly and much to his liking, Lucy never used perfume. She smelled of books, ink, sunshine and her favorite lemon tea. He'd never admit it to anyone, but Natsu found her smell incredibly comforting. After running a few more corridors, he finally caught a wiff of lime. "Happy, I found it!"
"Good boy." Happy giggled behind his paws, secretly hoping to loosen his friend up a little.
"I'm not a dog!" Natsu yelled angrily and shot a glare at his partner, but the distraction only lasted for a second. His focus was on finding Lucy. He would find her. It was only a matter of time. This Verto guy could already start digging his grave.
A blonde woman groaned when she tried to wriggle out of her uncomfortable shackles. She had been trying to get rid of them for hours but all she got from that were some nasty red marks on her wrists. Her frustration reached its peak when she kicked an innocent stone towards her captor who was currently relaxing on a leather couch and reading a book. An eyebrow arched, Lucy watched him calmly turning over a page.
"Oh, did you finally realize that escaping is futile?" Verde's charming voice broke through the tense silence and he looked up from his book. "Or are you simply bored? I could read my book to you, if you'd like."
Lucy looked up to him with a smile that didn't reach her eyes. Maybe she could get out of this mess by using her charms, it was her specialty after all. Although her friends always told her that they didn't work, she was pretty confident in them. Verde seemed interested in her from the start, so this should be a piece of cake. Yeah, let's get this show on the road!
Leaning forward, Lucy offered Verde a nice view of her delicious cleavage thereby also showing off the rest of her womanly figure. On the edges of her brown eyes, tears started to form and the tiny bit of embarrassment she felt tinted her creamy cheeks pink. She gave herself an internal pat on her shoulder for her superb acting skills. Lucy's lower lip trembled before she started to stutter in a sickly sweet voice: "C-could you f-free my wrists, m-mister? It hurts, it hurts s-so m-much. P-please, mister!"
"Now that's how you should behave in front of your master." His pearly white teeth glistened in the dim light of the fire-place, making him look like a feral beast. She performed a victory dance in her head, men were so predictable. Her charms finally worked. "It's sad really, but you look really ugly when you play that act. I don't know why but it gives me the creeps."
The word 'ugly' was like an unpleasant arrow shot straight through her chest. Verde pretended to shudder and judging by his face he wasn't pleased by her performance. Jerk, couldn't he pull himself together for the sake of chivalry? Lucy glared at him. Why did her womanly charms never work? It's not like she was a bad catch or something.
The cosmos ignites your love and interesting encounters wait for you.
Lucy couldn't deny that her encounters were interesting, but Miss Mystic forgot to tell about the handsome yet psychopatic leader of a dark guild. It didn't ignite her love at all, more like her urge to flee. Stupid woman, everything was her fault. Natsu should just hurry up and save the day, before the blond would go insane and rage quit the mission.
"Oh, look how fast time passes when you're enjoying yourself." Verde glanced at the small clock on his table, his piercing blue eyes half-lidded. It was already half-past ten and he let out a yawn. "I'd love to take a nap, but it seems your friends are more trouble than they are worth. I'll go and take care of the trash. Behave until I get back, my little bookworm."
She felt insulted. As soon the curvy woman used her charms, the man wanted to find excuses to leave the room. Okay, he was now so-scratched from her imaginary potential boyfriend list. Well, technichally she had already crossed him out as soon as he knocked her out. Lucy felt like sticking her tongue out at him, so that was exactly what she did. Verde chuckled quietly at her childish behavior and tipped his top-hat in farewell.
Now that the celestial wizard was alone, she felt a huge weight fall from her shoulders. It was time to develop an amazing plan to escape since she couldn't just sit around while her friends were fighting. A small 'poof' shook her out of her thoughts and she found herself eye to eye with the most useless spirit ever. Plue came back. A round of cheers, please.
"Plue, I really appreciate that you want to keep me company." Lucy sighed and forced herself to smile at the quivering little thing. "But I need help from some of my stronger spirits like Loke … or wait, I have a better idea. Having Virgo around would be great. Could you get her for me?"
"Puuun!" Plue seemed like he didn't understand and she felt like smashing her head against the cold stone bricks. Where did all these masochistic thoughts come from? Oh right, her teammates and spirits were morons. To her surprise, the little doggy spirit pulled out a small silver key out of nowhere. It was the key to her shackles. Lucy's eyes went wide, she could hug Plue to death right now.
"Oh my gosh, you're amazing! I'm sorry I ever doubted you, I take everything back!" The celestial wizard exclaimed happily and as soon as she was free, she embraced the small hero. Plue really saved her day. "Thanks a lot, you're a real lifesaver."
After the spirit returned to its own realm, Lucy decided that she should scout the area at first. She must be far enough inside the tunnel system to find houses and such. It was now her mission to find the kidnapped people from the town's rich families … if they weren't also members of Chaos Hunter. Even if they were, she'd have to check because there was still the chance they needed help.
The blonde woman needed a while before her eyes adjusted to the darkness in the alleys and she really started to miss Natsu. His body was warm and his flames brought light into the darkness. Sometimes, Lucy envied him for his unique magic. At least she still had his scarf with her, the familiar smell that clung was her only source of comfort right now. She reminded herself to thank him again later. Natsu sure was something ... Why was she thinking about him at a time like this? Argh, this was all so frustrating that Lucy almost wanted to rip her hair out.
If you are able pass the emotional roller coaster, you'll float on cloud nine with your one true love!
Stupid horoscope. It could be a little more specific. The curvy blonde was an emotional person, but seemed far away from stepping out of that sort of roller coaster unscratched ... so maybe finding her prince charming was out of the question anyway.
While her mind was occupied with fighting against the obvious truth of the horoscope, Lucy ran down another alley and stopped when she heard a quiet whimper. For a second her heart stopped in her chest and she clutched Natsu's scarf for comfort. Slowly, Lucy approached the door of what looked like the remains of a big old mansion, but she could barely make it out in the dark. With a scary creaking sound, the door opened and revealed a dimly lit hall filled with people.
There were around twenty in total, all between the age of ten and fifteen, their hands were tied behind their backs and their mouths were gagged with black cloths. Some of them looked already half-dead with their clothes in tatters and bruises covering their faces. But the scariest thing was the smell. It was the smell of death and it brought tears to Lucy's eyes, reminding her of the girl in the fire.
Overcoming the urge to puke with sheer willpower, she ran over to one of the older girls and tried to free her. The girl breathed heavily and her eyes widened in panic. Shaking her head, the girl took a few steps back, trying to get as much distance to Lucy as possible.
"Don't worry, I won't hurt you. I promise," Lucy said softly, trying to calm the hysteric girl. "I'm Lucy from Fairy Tail. What's your name?"
"I-I'm M-Mary, Mary Ferrera. D-did you come h-here to s-save us?" Mary stuttered shyly and came a step closer to the celestial wizard after receiving a nod as answer. Probably feeling a bit more comfortable now, she decided to tell Lucy her story. "One second I was having dinner with my family and then I was suddenly in this dark creepy room. They said I would never be able to get back home ... that we would never get back home. Many of the others died, so many of them. My sister was one of them, she told them she'd go instead of me. And than t-they … j-just f-fell … g-ground … "
Mary broke out in tears and Lucy tried her best to comprehend what the girl was trying to tell her. After the girls sobs calmed down, she carefully tried to pry for more information. "Do you know why the dark guild is doing this? And why they want to attack the festival?"
"Y-yes, I've overheard them talk about it once," Mary answered bitterly and wiped her tears away. "Their leader, that green-haired guy, is not a wizard. He has no magic at all. That's why when he visits us, he's sucking our life-energy out of our bodies and transfers it to himself. B-because of h-him my sister had to d-die!"
Lucy was shocked beyond words. She witnessed Verde's magic with her own eyes, but to think it wasn't his own … Of course, one of the first things you learn is that if you use too much magic, you die. Stealing people's energy would definitely increase ones own magic power, but to go to such an extend. Since many people of royal status learn some basic magic for self-defense, kidnapping them first made sense as well.
The pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly together and slowly it transformed into a picture. One picture she didn't like.
The Hosenka festival was an event that attracted tourists from all over Fiore. With so many people gathered in one place, it would almost be like an infinite source of magic. He'd be one of the most powerful wizards in history and nearly invincible. To be this twisted and sacrifice human life. She wouldn't forgive Chaos Hunter.
The longer he ran, the stronger her scent got and it gave him hope. He grew impatient though, as soon as the librarian's spicy and bloody odor got almost to much to handle for his sensitive nose. That guy seriously needed a bath. Natsu's steps echoed louder when the path grew wider and connected with a large hall that was the size of a cathedral. Here, the scent was stronger again and he was on alert for any kind of enemy. The sound of clapping came from above and he snapped his head in the general direction. Bingo.
"I must compliment you for coming this far. It seems your friends have intercepted my most loyal guards, but it's only a matter of time until they meet their end as well. Meanwhile, I hope you can cure my boredom."
Green hair, an arrogant smirk on his lips, super fancy clothes and those pristine white gloves on his hands. Yes, it was without a dounbt Vetere (or whatever his name was). Natsu didn't waste a second. "Oi, you freaky bastard! Where is Lucy?"
"Oh, you mean your blonde treasure? She's alive and kicking," that jerk replied mockingly and licked his lips. "I've got her all chained up and ready to entertain me when I come back later."
Lively images of a helpless and chained down blonde wizard appeared in his head, making him loose concentration for a second. Natsu couldn't decided whether he was just worried or angry. Probably both. He knew the librarian was just trying to provoke him, but sadly it was working like a charm. Talking about Lucy as if she was an object made him livid. She was his partner and not some from of entertainment or treasure to keep.
The green-haired man enjoyed watching the display of emotions on his opponents face, deciding to add more fuel to the fire. "Lucy was so beautiful when she begged me to free her, the poor thing. I've seen her blush though, I'm sure she'll come around sooner or later."
"You disgusting pig!" The comment drove Natsu over the edge. Nobody was allowed to treat her this way and talk as if they knew her. Especially not this creep. Deciding he had enough talking for one day, the dragon slayer did what he did best. Burn the guy until only the ashes remained. Fists clad in fire, Natsu broke into a furious sprint and started his attack.
Bending his knees, he quickly jumped high in the air and shifted his weight for a powerful kick. The dragon slayer aimed for seaweed head's face, but was met with air and a quiet chuckle from his left when his kick was supposed to impact. After a brief landing, Natsu expertly turned to his left and aimed for the solar plexus with his right fist. Expecting a block, the dragon slayer simultaneously angled his left foot for another kick. All his efforts were in vain when the librarian continued to dodge his attacks. You'd think a nerd would have less stamina than that.
"Stop dodging my attacks, Vertania!" Natsu panted heavily and clutched his side. The jerk had been able to get two hits in, one on his side the other on his jaw leaving a small trail of blood leaking from the fire wizards mouth. While Natsu used a lot of his magic for jumping, kicking and boxing; the guy evaded all of his attacks without wasting any energy at all.
"Are you retarded?" The green-haied man seemed dumbfounded for a second. "My name is Verde. It's only five letters to remember."
Not listening to the guy talk about something as irrelevant as his stupid name, Natsu finally managed to hit his target. He cheered for himself when his opponent flew straight into a solid wall, broke it and landed in the room of a house. The dust started to settle and he could see the jerk lying on his face, eating dirt. Ha, served him right. He might have been a speedy bugger, but his defense seriously needed work.
Approaching footsteps made Natsu perk up and the familiar comforting scent that reached his nose sent a giddy feeling through his body.
"Natsu ~ Happy ~ I'm so glad you're alright." Lucy smiled brilliantly at them when she appeared in the building in which he just created a new entrance. The sound of her voice was music to his ers. Seeing her beautiful smile made him feel warm inside and a small blush snuck on his cheeks. It was a good thing that nobody noticed it. Natsu's eyes searched her body for injuries and growled when he spotted the angry red marks on her wrists. He'd make him pay for that.
"Kyaaaaaa!" The celestial wizard had been running towards them with outstretched arms, only to trip over a stone and land on top of the jerk who was about to stand up. With a painful sound both of them landed on the ground, seaweed face cushioning Lucy's fall. At least that creep was good for something. Natsu couldn't decide whether he was amused by his partner or perplexed by her comedic timing. Verde seemed disoriented and his face paled visibly under the weight.
"Wow, Lucy insta KO-ed him." Natsu laughed his typical boisterous laugh, visibly happy and relieved to have his favorite person back. "Good job!"
"Aye, Lucy crushed him with her weight!" Happy snickered behind his paws, but flinched when he felt her glare bore into him. Good news, Lucy was safe. Bad news, she was already angry at them. A dark aura surrounded her when she walked towards the duo and they shivered. Happy quickly spread his wings and flew to safety.
"Damn cat! Get down here so I can give you a piece of my mind," Lucy screamed and tried to catch the flying feline. Natsu just watched and tried to keep himself in the background for self-preservation. "I've had it with men and their opinions. I'm not fat nor am I ugly, so shut up!"
Maybe she ate something wrong … Natsu deducted, but kept the thought to himself. She was unusually grumpy and irritated. Giving up on punishing Happy, the blonde woman turned towards him and caught his stare with her chocolate eyes. He detected worry, sadness and anger in them. "Natsu, I can't give you the details right now, but you have to trust me. We have to be fast and beat this guy or else many lives are in danger."
"Sure, I'm all fired up!" He wiped some blood from the corner of his lip and positioned himself slightly in front of Lucy. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her pull one of her keys from her belt and Happy flew above them munching on a fish. Where did he get that? It didn't matter right now, they had an ass to kick.
Natsu narrowed his eyes at the figure who stood in the shadow of the building. Verde brushed some imaginary dust from his shoulders before taking a step closer to them. "My, my what a cute couple you are. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than that to crush me in battle."