Chapter 1: Ice-Make: Past
"Melt them?" Gray thought to himself as he examined his ice cubes littering the ground. "I can only make ice. I can't melt it."
He didn't know why he kept doing this to himself. Sure, it wasn't actually his idea, but when Erza Scarlet asks you to accompany her, it's wise to just accept her request, even if it is just a request.
He was still unsure of what her main objective was as sitting on a park bench under the scorching July sun really wasn't enough of a clue. She hadn't really spoken to him of anything important yet, and his patience was running out almost as fast as he was sweating.
"Gray, are you mad at me?"
Erza's question came as a surprise to him, not so much because of its absurdity, but more because of its potential importance. Perhaps Erza was finally getting to the point of this whole misery inducing outing.
"What would I be mad at you about?" He would've answered with a yes, but he doubted Erza was referring to making him sit outside in the heat with her.
"Our last job." Erza clarified. "We screwed up because of me. I miscalculated our attack plan."
If he could have froze the whole park at that moment, he would have. She brought him out there in his most hated season just to ask him if he blamed their failure on her? She didn't even sound ashamed of herself. Her tone was completely neutral!
"I'm not mad at you." Gray replied. He figured that the faster he explained why Erza shouldn't blame herself, the faster he could go home and get out of this heat. "It was a mistake, Erza. People make them all the time."
"I know that, but you could still be mad at me about it."
Why did it have to be him? Couldn't she have had this conversation with Lucy? She was much better than he was at these kind of talks.
"Well, I'm not." He didn't mean for it to come out so bluntly, but this really wasn't his thing. "And I'm sure Natsu and Lucy aren't mad at you either."
"I hope not."
Was the conversation over? Could he go home yet? He waited a few seconds, but Erza kept silent. He thought it would be rude to just get up and walk away, but he didn't want to sound annoyed by asking her if she was done. So, being the thoughtful guy he was, Gray opted to stay seated and wait for Erza to dismiss him.
As he waited for Erza to say something, Gray observed the park around them. It was a typical summer scene with the sunny weather and blooming flowers that most people enjoyed. Gray, on the other hand, was never quite fond of it. Maybe it was because he was an ice mage, or maybe it was because he was originally from the north, but whatever the reason, wintertime and the cold temperatures were always his preferences. And even though he had lived in Fiore for over ten years already, he never did adapt to its warmer seasons.
"You don't seem very upset that we didn't complete the job." Erza finally spoke up. "You haven't said anything about it at all."
So they weren't finished. Maybe he should just be rude and walk away, though on second thought, this was Erza he was talking to. A little more sweat couldn't hurt, right?
"I don't really care, Erza." He answered in all honesty. He didn't usually reveal his true feelings like this, but for some reason he felt it necessary. "What happened in the past will stay in the past and nothing will change it, so moping about it is just a waste of time."
For the first time in their conversation, Gray finally looked up at who he was talking to. Erza was staring at him, though with an expression he couldn't comprehend.
"What's the look for?" Gray asked.
Erza laughed. "Nothing, it's just that I never thought you would be the one to tell me something like that."
"Is that an insult?"
"Not exactly." Erza responded. "Do you actually believe it though? Because I feel everyone says that, but no one actually internalizes it."
She thought no one internalized it? He did, didn't he? It took some time, but he did eventually realize that the past was not changeable, no matter how much he regretted it. Of course, he had to learn it the hard way. He still never truly forgave himself for causing his master's death, but he had stopped wondering what would have happened if he had acted differently.
"Why are you making ice cubes?"
Gray suddenly looked down at the ground and saw the dozens of small ice cubes scattered around, though most had already melted due to the heat. Was he that hot that he had been unconsciously created ice cubes this whole time?
"Uh, I guess this heat is really getting to me." Gray said awkwardly as he tried to take the opportunity to finally close the discussion. "I think I'm gonna start heading home."
"I think I will too." Erza said, much to his satisfaction. "And thank you, Gray. I appreciate you coming here with me and sharing your thoughts."
"Not a problem." His shirt drenched with sweat, however, wanted to say otherwise.
Despite his eagerness to get home, Gray stayed seated as Erza stood up.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Gray." Erza said as she began to walk away. "And you really shouldn't just leave those ice cubes there. Melt them or something."
Melt them? Gray thought to himself as he examined his ice cubes littering the ground. I can only make ice. I can't melt it.
He considered just leaving them there, as they would probably all melt by the morning anyway, but he didn't want to risk the chance of Erza finding out, even if it was a slim chance.
Gray let out a frustrated sigh as he began to pick up the remaining ice cubes. Their cold air was actually quite refreshing considering the uncomfortable weather he was just forced to sit in. He was just about to collect the last few when something underneath them caught his eye.
Gray dropped to the ground and pushed the last few ice cubes aside. Much to his surprise, a perfectly frozen snowflake was lying on the ground. He picked it up carefully, so as not to break it, as it looked rather delicate. He examined its intricate design, and after much thought, Gray concluded that he had never seen such a design before. Thus, he couldn't have made it.
But, then who did?
Gray stood up and looked around, the frozen snowflake still in his hand. The sun had already begun to set, and the chilly, nighttime air was already starting to blow. The park had emptied since Erza left, and he was the only one in sight.
Gray looked back down at the snowflake. He couldn't come up with any explanation for where it came from other than that he had accidentally made it along with the ice cubes. He wanted to believe that, but its unfamiliar design left a major plot hole.
As he began to walk away from the park and in the direction of his house, Gray tried to recall any memory of the snowflake's appearance. Nothing came up, and Gray figured he'd just have to believe in his flawed explanation.
It was just a snowflake after all, and every snowflake was different, right? So he accidentally made one with a new design, it wasn't that big of a deal.
Gray continued to stare at the snowflake in his hand until it eventually melted. It was then that he began to stop thinking about it, instead thinking about how awful it was that he had almost five more months until winter, and soon, the snowflake's existence melted away from his mind as well.
Just a little bit of explanation: First of all, this story is for all those Gray fans who feel like there is a lack of good Gray centered stories. I feel that he is a very under appreciated character, and there's way more to him than stripping. Also, as a side note, there will be no romance in this, and maybe a bit of anti-Gruvia (because I loathe that ship, I'm sorry Gruvia fans).
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2: Ice-Make: Acceptance
Her comment angered him, but he knew it was simply just out of concern.
"Of course not, and I never was upset about it in the first place."
Considering he was usually involved in his guild's constant brawls, it was quite interesting to see them from an outsider's perspective. To put it simply, Gray could now finally understand why onlookers were always so concerned; the guildhall was practically a battlefield.
Sitting alone in the corner shielded him from most of his guildmates' attacks, whether they be magic or fists. Things were flying so fast that he could barely keep his focus on one fight, though the different fights kept intersecting each other anyway. Unsurprisingly, he was able to clearly distinguish the quite literally heated battle going on between Natsu and Gajeel, which likewise attracted most of his attention. Their fight seemed to just keep repeating itself over and over again, one fireball after one iron punch in a constant loop.
Was that how his fights with Natsu always went?
"Never thought I'd see you sit out during a fight."
Gray turned his gaze away from the fighting dragonslayers and looked over at Cana who had just sat down next to him. She had come empty handed, as in no alcohol in sight, and though Gray considered making a joke about it, he ultimately decided not to. After all, it seemed like he was the one being interrogated here.
"I guess I'm just not in the mood."
He wasn't lying. When being honest with himself, he didn't really know why he automatically just passed up the chance to beat up Natsu. Normally, Gray wouldn't even hesitate to join in a fight, so what was so different about today? What made him lose interest?
"Don't tell me you're still upset about yesterday."
Her comment angered him, but he knew it was simply just out of concern. "Of course not, and I never was upset about it in the first place."
"Then what's got you so down in the dumps? There must be something wrong, you've even managed to keep your shirt on until now."
Gray looked down, and just as Cana had said, his shirt was still on. Did that mean there was something wrong? Funny how usually habitual stripping implied that something was wrong, but with him it appeared to be the opposite.
But he didn't think there was anything wrong. He had been feeling a bit out of sorts since they returned from their last job, but he had thought that the feeling would just pass. It hadn't gone away yet, so maybe Cana was right. Maybe there was something bothering him, but what?
"I don't know." He answered while turning back to face the fight. "I've just been feeling a bit off lately. It'll pass."
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Cana giving him a quizzical look. "If you say so."
He didn't say anything, nor did he want to say anything. He knew Cana didn't believe him, but what was he supposed to say when he himself didn't know what was wrong? He tried to think back to anything that could have made him feel like this, but nothing had happened in the past few days. The only thing that really stood out was his spontaneous ice cube outbreak from his conversation with Erza the other day.
Could it be the heat? Was that what was bothering him?
"Well, I'm getting a bit cold." Cana said, as Gray turned to see her suddenly stand up from her seat beside him. "I'm going to go get a drink to warm me up."
How a barrel of beer was going to warm her up was simply unknown to Gray, nor did he really want to know. What he really didn't understand, however, was the fact that she was cold. It was smack in the middle of July, what could possibly be making her cold?
Why was he trying to decipher her words? Did he really have to overthink everything he or someone said or did? Perhaps it was just an excuse for her to go and get herself wasted, and he was just wasting time by pondering over it. Maybe that was his problem, he just put too much thought into things that don't really have any meaning behind them.
Gray sighed and put his head into his hands. He never thought he'd think this, nor would he ever again, but at that very moment, he almost envied Natsu and those like him with his one tracked mind and simple ways of thinking. He almost began to wonder how easy life would be if he didn't ever have to have these one-on-one conversations with himself trying to figure out what was going on in his head.
As he sat there sulking and contemplating what was potentially wrong with him, Gray began to notice a slight chill in the air. It didn't bother him, but it was definitely there, and quite distinguishable from the current heat engulfing the guildhall.
Was this what Cana had felt?
Gray lifted his head up from his hands and scanned the room. Nothing had really changed much as the brawl was still in full swing, though it had died down a bit, but from the looks of it, no one seemed to notice the slight change in temperature.
Maybe I'm just imagining it. Gray thought to himself as he placed his hands down on the bench he was sitting on.
When his hands touched the bench, Gray immediately lifted them back up and looked down. What was supposed to be a plain, wooden bench had somehow turned into solid ice. It didn't take long for him to recognize it as his own ice, making him wonder how it had happened.
He couldn't remember freezing the bench at all. As he glided his hand across the iced surface, he could tell that it had just been frozen, but why couldn't he remember? Surprisingly, it was quite similar to the incident with the ice cubes. Was there something wrong with his magic?
"Hey, ice block, I haven't fought with you yet today!"
As preoccupied as he was with the sudden frozen bench, he wasn't completely unaware as to what was going on around him. Without much thought, Gray launched a simple blast of ice towards Natsu's incoming fireball, just enough to deter it. He was still examining the frozen bench which had already begun to melt when he heard Natsu's outburst.
"What the hell, Gray? How did you just freeze my fire with that tiny blow?!"
Confused as to what Natsu was saying, Gray looked up and almost gasped at the completely frozen ball of fire now lying on the ground. True to Natsu's word, that had never happened before, nor was it really able to. He normally would have needed a little more than that to freeze Natsu's fire.
"I don't know how that happened." Gray said. He then looked back down at the bench, only to see that it was pretty much just covered in water now. "I need to get home."
He hadn't really meant to say that out loud, as it was mainly directed at himself, but he was positive now that there was definitely something wrong. He had to find out what it was, and sitting around at the guildhall wasn't going to help. He had to get home so he could delve more into it, and try to figure out what was going on with his magic.
Before anyone could stop him or even just say anything, Gray bolted out of the guildhall, leaving everyone else in a state of confusion. Erza, in particular, was quite puzzled by the sudden chain of events, as she began to recall what had happened the day before. She wasn't sure if they were connected, but it was definitely something worth looking into.
"Hey, come back!" Erza snapped out of her thoughts as she turned to see Natsu beginning to chase after him. "You can't just run away like that, Gray!"
"Natsu!" The fire mage immediately stopped in his tracks as Erza shouted his name from behind him. "Let him go. We can talk to him later."
Natsu sighed in annoyance, but she knew it was only because he cared, not that he would admit it, of course. She cared too, but she knew that chasing after Gray just wasn't the right way help him.
"Will he be alright?" Lucy asked quietly, in which only Erza had been able to hear.
"He'll be fine." Erza responded. "He just needs to try figuring things out himself before we try to help him."
If Lucy had wanted to say more, Erza would never know because the doors to the guildhall burst open at that very moment, revealing a breathless and panting Team Shadow Gear in the entrance.
"What's with the grand entrance, Levy?" Natsu asked as the blue haired mage tried to catch her breath. Jet and Droy were busy doing the same, almost as if they had just run a marathon to get there.
"You'll never believe this, guys." Levy began to explain in between breaths. "But we were just on a job in Hargeon, and it was snowing!"
I will try to update this every Saturday.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 3: Ice-Make: Mistake
"Once he froze it, he was unable to melt it."
Only a few things made Erza's impossible list, and for obvious reasons, this one did.
Just by looking at Levy's face, she knew it was unlikely she was lying. If it were Natsu, then maybe, but it was Levy. Levy didn't joke around just for the heck of it.
But nonetheless, she could never be too sure.
"Are you sure it was snowing?" Erza asked her. "Maybe you saw wrong."
"It was snowing. I'm positive." Levy insisted. "Just ask Jet and Droy. They were there too."
Jet and Droy both nodded, consequently adding two more witnesses to Levy's claim. How could she disbelieve it now?
"Maybe it was a fluke in the weather?" Natsu suggested.
"No." Levy said in a confident tone. "This was by no means natural. I could sense the magic energy."
So someone made it snow on purpose? Erza thought as countless questions and possible solutions filled her mind all at once. Her failure on their last job only motivated her more to figure out the meaning behind this strange occurence, though she had taken Gray's words to heart the day before. She knew this wouldn't change past mistakes, but there couldn't be any harm in trying to compensate for them, right?
"So someone did this intentionally," Lucy asked. "but who would do that and why?"
Natsu shrugged. "Beats me. Creating a random snowstorm seems rather pointless."
"Maybe it does on the surface." Erza said. Or maybe I'm just delving too deep into this.
"Maybe someone was just fed up with the heat."
Levy shook her head at Happy's suggestion. "I doubt that. Bringing snow to a whole city is just a bit too dramatic."
Erza tried to tune out the farfetched theories her teammates were offering as she tried to come up with more logical suggestions in her head. What could a snowstorm in the middle of summer accomplish? Who would create a snowstorm in the middle of summer?
"There is one thing we know for sure." Lucy said, catching Erza's attention.
"And what's that?"
"Whoever did this used Snow Magic." Lucy explained. "So maybe someone who uses Snow Magic will have some answers for us, even if they're not necessarily the culprit."
What she had said made sense, but who did they know of that used Snow Magic?
"Doesn't that guy from Blue Pegasus use Snow Magic?" Natsu asked.
"Yeah, Eve is a snow mage." Lucy replied. "Why don't we go ask him?"
"You need to talk to someone who uses Snow Magic?"
They were so engrossed in their conversation, they hadn't realized that someone had just entered the guildhall.
"Lyon," Erza inquired towards the newcomer. "what are you doing here?"
The midsummer sun glared down on the city of Magnolia with a fierce gaze, but for once, Gray didn't bother glaring back. In fact, he could barely even feel it.
If anything, he was beginning to feel cold as he roamed through the crowded streets of Magnolia with no destination in mind. He didn't have time to think about where he was going, he had to figure out what was wrong with his magic.
There was only one thing he was certain of; it had all started after he got back from their last job, the job that they had apparently failed. Everything was fine before that, so what had went wrong?
The only thing that really happened in between was his conversation with Erza, but that couldn't have changed anything. How could his magical outbursts be related to their inability to complete one single job? That was ridiculous. It had to be something else.
So far, only three things had happened. He spontaneously created a bunch of ice cubes, he unconsciously froze a bench, and he miraculously froze one of Natsu's fireballs with little to no magic power. Had anything like this ever happened before? Nothing came to mind, so this had to be a first.
Wait a minute, something did come to mind. Something similar had happened, but that was a long time ago. His magic had acted like this before, but that was when his master was still alive, before he got her killed.
He knew he didn't actually kill her, but her death was the result of his impulsive actions. He would never deny that.
He could remember it clearly now. His magic, as well as Lyon's, and to some degree even Ur's, had been a bit out of control for a few weeks. When they asked her about it, she just told them that it would pass, but looking back on it, it was more like she was trying to hide something from them.
If she were here now, would she tell him the same thing? If he hadn't acted so stupid, she might have. Or maybe she would tell him what was really going on, that is, if there was something going on.
Gray sighed. Why was he thinking like that? Hadn't he just told Erza that he was done regretting his past mistakes? If so, then why was he acting like such a hypocrite? Maybe what he told her was wrong. He wasn't past that stage, and he was still thinking about all the possible alternative situations.
But he did mean what he said. His past was over and done with, wasn't it?
"Excuse me, sir."
Gray snapped out of his thoughts as he was brought back to reality. When he looked up, a man was standing in front of him with a slightly worried expression on his face.
"Uh, can I help you?"
The man shifted his weight uncomfortably as he tried to avoid eye contact with him. "Actually, yes. In case you haven't noticed, you've been freezing everything you've walked passed. Would you mind not doing that, please?"
Gray turned around and to his shock, the whole street he'd just walked down was completely covered in ice. The locals who had been gawking at the now frozen street looked up at him with speculating glances. How had he not noticed this was happening? How do you freeze a whole street, and possibly more, without feeling any loss of magic energy?
"I'm really sorry." He stuttered as he continued to stare in shock. "I didn't even notice. Don't worry, I'll be leaving now."
"Well, that's all good, but can you at least unfreeze it?"
The man looked at him questioningly, and as Gray glanced at the other people surrounding them, he couldn't not notice their hopeful faces. He'd just have to tell them the truth and run for it, he supposed.
"I wish I could." Gray said as he began to back away. "However, once I freeze it, I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about it. The sun should do its job!"
And with that, Gray ran as fast as his legs could take him. His magic was spiraling more out of control than ever, and he really didn't think it was best for him to be just roaming around innocent people. He had to get back to the guild, as maybe someone there could help him out.
Before he completely disappeared, Gray took one last glance at the frozen wonderland behind him. He felt bad just leaving it like that, but what he had said was true.
Once he froze it, he was unable to melt it.
Chapter 4: Ice-Make: Regret
"He had been able to say goodbye while Lyon hadn't, and that obviously bothered him."
Erza's initial shock of the summer snowstorm in Hargeon slipped to the back of her mind for a second as she took in the sudden appearance of Lyon standing in the doorway.
"Lyon," she inquired towards the newcomer. "what are you doing here?"
Levy stepped to the side as Lyon walked through the door, his composed expression indecipherable in response to Erza's seemingly blatant question.
"I came to speak to Gray about something," he replied. "but I couldn't help but overhear your conversation just now. I was actually just in Hargeon, and I have to say that what Levy is telling you is true."
Levy smiled in triumph. "See, I told you, guys."
Erza now had two reliable sources telling her that it was snowing in Hargeon in the middle of summer. While it was most certainly difficult to believe, she realized she didn't have much of a choice.
"So do you think it was just a mistake in the weather, or someone actually used magic for this?" Natsu asked the ice mage.
"Definitely the latter." Lyon answered.
His response intrigued Erza. "And why do you say that?"
"I could sense the magic energy. There's no way it was natural."
He sounded very sure of himself on that, and Erza couldn't help but believe him. This, however, led to many other questions. The obvious one being why would anyone want it to snow in the first place? What could they possibly accomplish with It?
"We were thinking a snow mage did it." Lucy said. "Do you agree?"
Lyon shook his head. "While I'm primarily an ice mage, I also use snow magic, and I can tell you right away that wasn't done by any snow mage. That was created with ice magic, though I have no idea how."
"Ice magic?" Levy asked, though they all had the same question. "Is that even possible?"
"I said I don't know." Lyon repeated. "In theory, an ice mage should only be able to manipulate and create ice. I know that my ice magic isn't capable of making a snowstorm, especially like the one in Hargeon."
Erza really wanted to see this snow for herself. Perhaps if she went to the scene of the crime she would be able to find some clues about the whole incident. It was a long shot though, considering the fact that Lyon and Levy had been there and had gathered practically nothing on the matter. Nevertheless, Erza was determined to figure out who was behind all this and why.
"I'm going to Hargeon now to see this with my own eyes." She said. "Natsu, Happy, Lucy, are you coming with?"
Natsu shrugged. "I guess so."
"Sure," Lucy said. "but don't you think we should wait for Gray?"
"Why wait for him when he's already here?"
As if on cue, they all turned around to see Gray standing behind them.
"Gray!" Erza exclaimed. "Perfect timing. How long have you been standing there."
"I just got here, so I have no idea why you wanted to wait for me." Gray said. He then noticed Lyon. "Why are you here?"
A look of displeasure crossed Lyon's face. "Why are you all so suspicious of me coming here? I just came to talk to you about something, Gray. It's rather urgent and I'd like to get it over with already. They can fill you in when we're done."
Gray turned to Erza and the others. "Can you guys wait a few minutes?"
Erza nodded. "Sure. We'll explain it all to you when you guys are done."
To say that Gray was just a little curious as to what Lyon had to tell him was an understatement. He came all the way out to Magnolia just to talk to him, so therefore Gray assumed it had to be of some importance.
"So, what did you want to talk about?" Gray asked his former fellow student. They were sitting outside the guildhall with the sun beating down on them, and Gray just couldn't help but feel a sort of resentment towards its burnings rays.
"I came hear to ask you about your magic." Lyon answered. He was looking straight ahead, though not at anything in particular.
"What about it?"
"Has it been, how to I put it? Somewhat out of control lately?"
Gray was glad Lyon wasn't facing him because the look of shock that came upon his face at that very moment was a clear giveaway that there were some truth to his words, but how did he know? What did he know? Did he even know something, or was his timing just a coincidence?
Gray decided to play it safe and not give a straight answer right away. "What do you mean by that?"
"I only ask because my magic has been acting up over the past few days." Lyon explained as he finally turned to face him. "I've been freezing things unconsciously and my magic somehow feels a bit stronger."
So they were in the same boat. A part of Gray felt relieved that it wasn't just a personal problem, but at the same time he just felt more confused. Was it just him and Lyon, or was this happening to ice mages everywhere?
"Yeah," Gray said. "I've been experiencing the same thing."
"You have?" Lyon asked, his face lighting up with interest. "So it's not just me?"
Gray shook his head. "It's not just you. Have you told anyone else about this?"
"No, you're the first."
He wasn't sure if he should feel honored by that, but he figured it really wasn't the time to worry about that. Another thought crossed his mind.
"Something similar to this happened before. Do you remember?"
Lyon nodded. "We were still students under Ur, but she never explained it to us."
"Do you think this is the same?"
Lyon remained silent as he considered it. "I'm not sure. Last time it went away, didn't it?" Gray nodded. "Then maybe it will pass."
What Lyon said made sense, but Gray wasn't satisfied with that solution. Even if it was only temporary there still had to be something causing it. They couldn't just ignore it.
"I guess we can try waiting it out for a few days." Gray suggested, though he wasn't too fond of the idea.
Lyon, however, didn't seem to mind. "It's a start. If it goes away then we probably don't have to worry about it, however, if it doesn't then we'll deal with it then."
The two ice mages remained seated, though none of them spoke. While Gray hoped that Lyon was right, and that it was just a temporary phase, he still thought that they should look into it. Was it a normal thing for magic to just spiral out of control for a bit, or was their case just special?
"You know, you're lucky, Gray." Lyon said suddenly.
Gray turned to him in surprise, as the remark was quite random and completely unrelated to the matter at hand.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You were there when Ur died." Lyon said, though it really didn't explain his previous comment.
"So were you."
"Yes, but I didn't see it. You were the only one who witnessed it."
He was still confused. "Okay, but I still don't see how that makes me lucky."
Lyon sighed in frustration as he realized that he'd just have to spell it out for him. "You got to see her one last time before she died. I don't know what happened then, but I do know that you had the chance to say goodbye. That's why you were lucky. Have you ever thought about that?"
Gray didn't really have anything to answer. Lyon was right, he had never thought about it like that. That little difference in their experiences of their master's death had never occurred to him in such a way, but now that he actually thought about it, he realized that he was rather lucky. He had been able to say goodbye while Lyon hadn't, and that obviously bothered him.
Unknown to the two former pupils of Ur, a lone man shielded by a dark cloak stood camouflaged amongst the adjacent trees of the forest listening intently to their every word.
"So only one of them actually witnessed it. That narrows down my options significantly."
Satisfied with the information he had obtained he turned back into the forest to depart, his dark cloak flapping behind him in the wind, and a small, perfectly frozen snowflake lying in the grass he had formerly been standing on.
Thanks for reading! Feedback is appreciated.
Chapter 5: Ice-Make: Second Chance
"There was nothing he could do about it now, no matter how many potential alternate outcomes he could come up with."
Gray stood still, his gaze focused on Lyon's retreating form as it started on its way back to Lamia Scale. He walked as if he had complete faith in his supposed theory that everything would soon return to normal, but Gray was still doubtful.
Should he call him back? He had a strange feeling that something bigger was going on, something that they weren't aware of. Should they do something about it instead of just leaving it to manifest itself? Would they regret it if they just left it alone?
Gray opened his mouth to shout Lyon's name, but then hesitated. What if Lyon was right? Maybe he was just overreacting, as he'd been prone to do before. It couldn't hurt to just give it a few days. Nothing too bad could happen if they waited it out until then.
Feeling a bit more convinced of Lyon's prediction, yet still somewhat uncertain, Gray began to head back to the guildhall. He groaned as the sun began to beat him with its army of sweltering rays as he walked back down the path, his sweat raining down faster than his ice would take to melt in this oven of a city. The summer season was always a challenge for him, and Gray almost felt that the sun was just messing with him, making it harder for him then it really should. After all, no one else seemed to struggle as much as he did. Or maybe he was just ticked off by the fact that it could melt his ice in an instant, kind of like the reason for his resentment towards Natsu's magic.
Whatever the reason, he knew that he'd never adapt to this kind of weather, and in a way he was kind of happy about that. He would never understand how most people could prefer the scorching heat of the sun over that cold, icy breeze that just passed him by.
"Wait a second," Gray said to himself as he stopped walking. "that was cold air I just felt. Don't tell me it's happening again."
Gray prepared himself for the sight of another magic outburst and quickly turned around. The ground was still bare, the grass still green. He looked up at the trees, their leaves still hanging from the branches, glimmering in the sunlight filtering through them. There was not a single trace of ice in sight.
"Maybe I just imagined it."
Gray sighed and turned back around, resuming his trek back to the guildhall. He kept his eyes open for anything irregular, but everything seemed to fit with the summer season. He was about to conclude that it had just been his imagination after all, but then another cold gust of air blew by.
"That is not my imagination."
A snowflake then landed on his arm, followed by another and then another until Gray found himself standing amidst an apparent blizzard surrounded by snow covered trees and grass that had been perfectly green and bare just a few seconds prior. He could no longer feel the burning jabs of the sun, as the air was now cold with freezing winds brushing his skin.
He would've rejoiced at the sudden change of season, but he knew that this wasn't normal. Though he could sense some ice magic, he was certain it wasn't coming from him. It was an unfamiliar type of magic, and it bothered him that he couldn't identify it.
Gray looked around again at the early winter arriving upon Magnolia and figuring that the rest of the guild should probably know about the slight temperature change, Gray hurried in the direction of the guildhall.
"So it's snowing in Clover too." Erza repeated to herself after Makarov had returned from there and recollected what he saw. She still found it hard to believe, but she had little to doubt after hearing it now from two dependable sources.
"That's right." Makarov said. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was only after everyone else reacted to it too that I was sure I wasn't really going crazy."
The guildhall had erupted into an uproar after Levy and Makarov's claims of snowstorms in Hargeon and then Clover. Everyone was trying to come up with their own theories as to what had caused the rapid transition of season, and Erza was finding it hard to concentrate on her own logical solutions amidst everyone else's nonsensical speculations.
"Hey, look at this, Erza." Lucy said, an open newspaper in her hand. "According to this, there have been snowstorms in Oshibana and Era too."
Erza walked over to the bench Lucy was seated at and peered over the blonde's shoulder to read the headline sprawled across the front page. To her surprise, Lucy was right and the number of sudden blizzards around Fiore was increasing.
"This is preposterous!" Erza shouted as she tore the newspaper from Lucy's hands, only to glare at it. "Why is someone trying to get rid of summer and who could even have this kind of power to do this?"
"I think Gray's doing it." Natsu said as he unloaded a near three course meal onto the table as he and Happy began to dig in. "That ice popsical is always complaining about the heat and whatever, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to bring on an early winter."
Lucy rolled her eyes as she watched the fire dragonslayer and talking cat messily eat. "Gray wouldn't do that. And how could you eat so calmly at a time like this?!"
"Who's eating calmly?" Natsu asked innocently as he wolfed down a chicken leg.
Lucy turned pleadingly to Happy for some sort of explanation.
Happy smiled. "It's just a coping mechanism. Natsu can't stand to even think of the coming winter months, let alone see them come now."
Erza had been reading the news headlines, her eyes skimming the page numerous times as if it would somehow reveal to her the cause behind it all. She hadn't really been paying attention to the conversation going on between Lucy, Natsu, and Happy, but she had caught some of it.
"This isn't Gray's doing." Erza stated as she slammed down the newspaper, causing even Natsu to pause his panicked eating. "First of all, he wouldn't do something that would effect us like this for his own selfish reasons, and second, Gray doesn't even have this kind of power."
I know it's not him, Erza thought, confirming to herself again of his innocence. but I can't stay away from this urging assumption that somehow he indirectly has something to do with it. Lyon said he had sensed ice magic, and Gray's has been a little out of control lately. I just have this strange suspicion that they're linked.
"What are you thinking of, Erza?" Lucy asked, interrupting her conflicted thoughts. "Do you have an idea of what's happening?"
Before Erza could even think of answering, the doors to the guildhall were violently thrown open by a distraught looking ice mage who then hurried inside.
"Gray, you're back." Erza greeted him as she noticed the distressed look on his usually calm face. "Is something wrong?"
Gray hurried over to the table they were seated around. "I don't know, you tell me. Does it usually snow in the summer in Magnolia?"
"You're joking." Erza said, hoping beyond all hope that he was just messing with her.
Gray crossed his arms as he gestured towards the open doors. "No, I'm totally serious..."
His voice trailed as Erza and practically the entire guild stampeded outside to verify his claim, though he was still caught on trying to understand why Erza had sounded like she already had an idea of what was happening.
"You may want to read this." Lucy said before thrusting a newspaper into his hands and following the rest of the guild outside.
Gray looked down at the newspaper and scanned the words boldly written across the front page. His eyes widened as he read about the numerous snowstorms springing up across the country.
How is this even happening? Gray thought to himself as he glanced out the window and watched the myriad of snowflakes pouring from the sky. I didn't even know snowstorms of this magnitude were possible with magic.
After a few minutes of everyone revelling at the snow, the guild returned back inside the guildhall, the mages still talking amongst themselves of the unexplainable phenomenon that they were witnessing.
Gray placed the newspaper back onto the table as Erza and the rest of their team arrived. "So this is what you all wanted to tell me about?"
Erza nodded. "Yeah, while you were gone earlier, Levy and then even the master came in saying how they had gotten caught in snowstorms in other towns. Then we saw this." She pointed to the newspaper.
"We were actually going to go to Hargeon to check it out for ourselves but," Lucy said as she turned towards the window. "then this happened."
"I see." Gray said. "Any ideas of how it happened?"
"Well, we were thinking-" Lucy clapped her hand over Natsu's mouth before he could finish.
Erza, noticing his confused expression, decided to intervene before the impulsive dragonslayer could say anything else. "We don't really know. The only clue we have is from Lyon who apparently got caught in the blizzard in Hargeon on his way here and told us that he could sense ice magic, but he wasn't familiar with it."
"Strange," Gray said thoughtfully. "I sensed ice magic too, but I couldn't either tell what it was."
"So we're still at square one." Lucy said as she plopped down on the bench in defeat.
"Now don't give up just yet." Erza said as she gestured towards the window. "We still have this nature phenomenon to investigate."
"You're not making me go out there." Natsu said, crossing his arms over his chest. Erza instantly changed his mind, however, with just one glare in his direction. "Alright, I'm going! Come on, Happy!"
The two raced out of the guild without a second thought as Erza, Lucy, and Gray trailed after them.
"I should have brought a coat." Lucy said, shivering as they stepped out into the cold. "It's freezing out here."
Gray smirked at her. "I don't feel anything."
Lucy just glared back at him. "Shut it, ice mage. Not everyone here has the luxury of immunity to the cold."
"Enough, you two." Erza snapped. "Seeing as Natsu already abandoned us, I say we split up so we can cover more ground quicker."
"Sounds like a plan," Gray said as his eyes scanned the plain, white snow around them. "but what exactly are we looking for?"
"Yeah," Lucy agreed as she too was trying to find anything that stuck out in their now white featureless surroundings. "what are we supposed to be searching for?"
Erza hesitated, as she hadn't quite thought that far ahead yet. She stared back at their questioning glances and then shrugged her shoulders. "Fine, I don't really know. Just look around for anything that seems abnormal, strange objects, suspicious people, anything. Okay?"
Gray and Lucy glanced at each other with uncertainty, as Erza's plan made little sense, but it couldn't hurt them to try.
The three of them then split up, each setting off in a different direction of Magnolia. Gray still wasn't sure what he was supposed to looking for as all there was was snow and more snow. It was just a big endless blanket of plain, white snow. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing abnormal. Gray passed through many streets, but all he saw was the same white snow covering the ground, trees, and buildings. The only possible thing that could be considered as out of place was the very snow itself, but they had already determined that it didn't give them any significant clues to work with.
After a good hour of roaming the streets and trudging through the snow, Gray finally gave in to his exhaustion and utter boredom and sat down on a park bench, coincidentally the same park bench he had been sitting on with Erza a few days earlier. The only difference now was the park's appearance. It was strange to think how in just a mere few hours a whole park of blooming flowers and trees full of colorful leaves glistening in the sunlight was now just covered by a thick coating of mysterious snow.
It was ironic how this was ultimately what he had been wishing for, but now that he actually had it, he wasn't satisfied. It just didn't feel right, snow in summer. And aside from that, there was just something off about it all. The air, the cold, the snow, none of it seemed natural to him. He had a bad feeling about it all, and he couldn't help but wonder if it was somehow linked to his current problems with his magic. He was starting to regret not calling Lyon back, but he quickly stopped himself, as it had already past and the mistake had already been made. There was nothing he could do about it now, no matter how many potential alternate outcomes he could come up with.
It was getting late and the others had probably given up already as well, so Gray figured he might as well start heading back. As he began to stand up, something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention and made him stop. Gray looked down at the bench he had been sitting on. There, sitting in the perfectly white snow was a snowflake, but not just any snowflake.
Gray recognized it immediately, for it was the same exact snowflake he had seen a few days earlier after his conversation with Erza. He had no doubt about it, as it was the same exact shape, same size, same design.
He had to bring it back to the guild and tell the others about it. He carefully picked it up, but then had a different idea as he noticed it was already beginning to melt. Using his ice-make, Gray quickly created an exact replica of the mysterious snowflake and then hurried with it back to the guildhall, just as the original melted away.
Thanks for reading! Feedback is appreciated, as always.
Chapter 6: Ice-Make: Prevention
"The only way to stop this is by not allowing it to happen in the first place."
Erza looked down at her gloved hands, inspecting the falling snowflakes as they melted into the fabric. They seemed so ordinary, just like natural snow, but yet, they weren't. They were made with magic, that was for certain, but how?
Erza kept pondering the question as she trudged through the accumulating snow in the boots she had requipped into. It wasn't everyday that she had to change into her winter clothes in the dead of summer, but as she noticed the people around her hurrying back to the warmth of their homes in their summer clothes, she figured she was just fortunate to have attire for practically every situation at her disposal. Thinking back on it, she probably shouldn't have sent Natsu and Lucy out into the sudden change of weather as unprepared as they were. She didn't need to worry about Gray, as this was practically his heaven.
Thinking about Gray made her stop. Did he have a connection to any of this? If he did though, Erza doubted he was aware of it. He seemed pretty astonished when the snowstorm began, or he could just be a good actor.
Stop it. Erza thought, shaking her head. He has nothing to do with it. His magic acting up now is just a coincidence. Right?
She couldn't believe she was thinking these things. How could she accuse her best friend like that? She knew Gray would never do such a thing, so why was she having these doubts?
She had to find out what was really going on, but how?
Erza looked around, her eyes scanning the snow covered street in front of her. That's all there was, just piles of snow. What clues could she possibly obtain from that? Sighing, Erza turned around, ready to make her way back to the guild. Investigating the snow wasn't turning out to be much of an investigation. They needed a different approach.
As Erza turned the corner, her gaze fell onto a young girl leaning against a closed storefront. The girl's attire had caught her eye; she was dressed for the winter. Her black coat and heavy boots would've fit in perfectly with the ongoing snowstorm if it were actually that time of year. Now, however, her winter dress stuck out as strange.
Erza could sense magic energy coming from her, so it was possible she could have used requip magic like she did, but what were the odds of finding another requip mage in Magnolia? The chance was slim, so Erza began to wonder if the girl had somehow known about the coming snowstorm, and had likewise prepared for it. She knew it was a farfetched guess, but it couldn't hurt to try and get some answers.
Erza approached the girl who's gaze had been directed downward the whole time. "Excuse me?"
At the sound of Erza's voice, she immediately looked up, her eyes wide and darting back and forth. "Can I help you?" She muttered.
Erza smiled. "Maybe. I hope you don't mind me asking, but I couldn't help but notice that you seem prepared for this strange weather."
The girl looked away. "So do you."
"I'm a requip mage. I can dress for any situation with barely a second's notice." Erza explained. She tried to speak in a friendly tone, as it seemed like the girl was suspicious of her. "I do sense some magic energy from you though, but something tells me we don't share the same magic."
"No, we don't." The girl continued to look away, but Erza couldn't tell what she was looking at. Her eyes kept darting around, almost frantically, as if she were searching for something.
"You still haven't answered my initial question, though."
The girl's panicked gaze stopped racing as she lowered it, staring down at her black coat dotted with clearly visible white snowflakes that had fallen from the sky. She opened her mouth to say something, and Erza could see the hesitation in her eyes.
"You know something's up, don't you?" She said, her voice almost in a whisper. "You know someone's causing this snow."
So maybe this girl did know something. "Yeah, I do. I know someone's doing this with magic, though I'm not sure why they're turning all of Fiore into an ice age. That's what I want to find out."
The girl suddenly looked up at her with a panicked expression. "It's not just Fiore. It's all of Earthland!"
"All of Earthland?" Erza asked. "What are you talking about?"
The girl sighed and lowered her gaze again. "Hargeon wasn't the first city to be hit by an early winter. The summer snowstorms actually began in Isvan a few weeks ago, as well as in some other countries in the Northern Continent. Then they started heading south to Fiore and other places too like Bosco and Stella. It won't be long before the whole Earthland is stuck in an eternal winter."
The girl's words didn't make any sense to her. She was still missing part of the puzzle. "What do you mean 'an eternal winter?' And how do you know about this?"
The girl suddenly looked up again, this time her gaze was directed towards the crowd of panicked people hurrying about a few blocks up ahead. "I have to go."
"Wait!" Erza shouted as the girl began to walk in the opposite direction of what she had been staring at. "I need to know what's happening so I can stop it! Can you at least tell me where I can find you again? Or just your name?"
The girl slowed down her pace and turned around slightly. "My name's Lena and while I appreciate your concern and your drive to help, I'm afraid there's nothing you can do. The only way to stop this is by not allowing it to happen in the first place. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that."
Before Erza could even think of what to say, Lena turned back and disappeared around the corner. Whatever was going on, this girl, Lena, knew exactly what it was and yet was reluctant to give her all the details. According to what little she did say, however, there was nothing Erza, or anyone for that matter, could do to stop it. Earthland was doomed to an eternal winter and nothing could be done to prevent it.
Looks like I'm the first one back. Gray thought as he returned to the guildhall. The rest of his team were nowhere in sight, so he figured they were still out. As Gray looked around, he noticed that the place seemed emptier than usual and upon further examination, he realized that most of the guild members had gone out as well, probably to inspect the snow.
Doubtless they'll find anything. Gray thought as he stared down at the frozen replica of the snowflake he'd found. I just got lucky.
Gray looked up to see Levy sitting nearby, waving him over. He quickly placed the snowflake in his pocket and headed over towards the solid script mage.
"Hey, Levy." He said, sitting down across from her. "What's up?"
"Did you find anything out there?" Levy asked as she looked up from the open book in front of her.
Gray turned away, debating his choice of words. "I'm not sure if it's anything important. I think I'll first wait until the others come back and see if they found anything."
"Oh, okay." Levy said, though Gray could tell she was interested in what he had found.
He didn't know why he was so hesitant to show it to her. What if she or the others didn't believe him? It did seem rather ridiculous of him to say that it was the exact same snowflake as the one he'd seen the other day, but he knew it wasn't because it was true.
He couldn't say anything about it, or at least not yet. He needed something to change the subject. "So, what are you reading?"
"Oh, this?" Levy asked, gesturing to the book in front of her. "It's just an old book I found about a bunch of forbidden spells. The book isn't that informative though, as many of the articles don't really say much."
It wasn't the most interesting of subjects, but Gray felt he could tolerate it for a bit. "What kind of spells are in there?"
"There are some pretty cool ones in here." Levy said as she flipped through some of the pages. "There's this one spell that prevents the sun from rising, making it nighttime forever. I'll try to find it."
Gray glanced at the pages as Levy flipped through them, looking for the spell she was talking about. As he watched the pages fly by, a certain picture on one of them caught his attention.
"Levy, wait a minute." Gray said, causing Levy to stop turning the pages. "Can you turn back a few pages?"
"Sure," Levy said and proceeded to do what he had asked her. "did you something?"
"Yeah," Gray said as Levy turned to the page he had wanted. "right there."
Gray looked down at the page, his gaze falling on a picture of a very familiar snowflake.
"So why this one?" Levy asked as she too examined the page.
Gray reached into his pocket and pulled out the snowflake. "Because of this."
Levy looked over at the snowflake in his hand, her eyes widening as they darted back and forth between it and the picture. "They've got the exact same design."
"Yeah, though this is actually just a replica of the real one I found outside. It was melting so I made a copy." Gray explained, purposely leaving out the fact that he had seen it earlier too. "I didn't really want to show it to you at first because I didn't think you'd believe me, but now with that picture, this can't be a coincidence."
"Well, if that snowflake is connected to this weather phenomenon, then maybe it has something to do with this forbidden spell."
"That's what I'm thinking." Gray said, relieved to finally have a lead. "What's the spell called?"
Levy brought the book closer to her and scanned the page. "It's called the Eliftis Spell."
"Eliftis?" Gray asked as he repeated the name in his head. It sounded so familiar, yet he couldn't place where he'd heard it.
"Yeah," Levy replied. "do you recognize it?"
The doors to the guild then opened and the rest of the team staggered in.
"We're finally back and out of that snow!" Natsu exclaimed.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Like you were even outside at all. I found you and Happy hiding away in the bakery!"
"But it was warm in there, Lucy." Happy said in defense.
"Oh, whatever." Lucy said as she caught sight of Gray and Lucy. "Oh, hey guys! Did you find anything, Gray? Natsu and I certainly didn't. And you, Erza?"
"Sort of. I'll try to explain it as I'm still trying to make sense of it myself." Erza answered as they headed towards Gray and Levy. "What about you, Gray?"
Now he remembered where he had heard of it. Ur had told him and Lyon about it when they were training under her.
"I got it! I know where I heard it!"
The rest of his team looked at him funny, and as if on cue, asked, "What are you talking about?"
She kept running as fast as she could, just trying to get as far away as possible. She knew it was a risk coming to Magnolia. He was here, and she had to avoid bumping into him at all costs.
She froze, but refused to turn around and face that familiar voice.
"I knew I'd find you here, Lena. You can't keep running from us forever."
Lena kept her back turned. "Did Vesperus send you? Or was it Pelphides?"
"Neither, I came on my own."
"Liar!" She shouted, turning around to face the young man standing behind her. "You were sent to get me to come back, Alvaro. You might as well just leave because I'm not going with you. I still don't agree with what you guys are doing."
"You don't have to agree with our plans." Alvaro said as he walked closer to Lena. "But we need you to come with us so we can make sure you don't foil them."
"There's no way I'm going with you!" Lena shouted. "I'm going to stop you guys!"
"We'll see about that." Alvaro said. He then stopped his walking and lifted his hand, a blast of ice shooting forth from it and tearing up the snow covered ground right next to where Lena stood. "That's just a warning shot. Just come with me and I won't have to hurt you."
"Oh, please, Alvaro." Lena said, smirking as a magic circle appeared beneath her. "We both know my magic is stronger than yours."
Lena outstretched her hands as two tubes of ice shot forth, coiling around Alvaro and restraining his movement.
"I'll just destroy them!" Alvaro said angrily as he tried to remove the frozen tubes that were binding him.
Lena smirked. "Your destructive ice can't even make a dent in my ice binds. I will bring you guys down, Alvaro. You'll see."
Lena turned around from Alvaro and began to run.
"Don't run away from me, Lena! We won't let you stop us!"
So, some new characters here. I've never actually written anything with my own characters so this is new for me. They're not necessarily main characters, but still crucial to the plot.
Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.
Chapter 7: Ice-Make: Do-over
"The truth is though, that once the spell is cast, it may be almost impossible to undo it."
"As ice mages, it's very important for you boys to understand how dangerous the Eliftis Spell is." His master said, addressing the two boys in front of her. "There's a reason it's forbidden, and if you ever catch anyone trying to cast it, you must stop them."
He probably should have been paying more attention to what Ur was saying instead of focusing on writing his name in the snow. He was listening to her words, but all this talk about things they shouldn't do was starting to bore him. When would she teach them about something they should do?
"Gray, are you listening to me?"
He jumped at the sudden calling of his name. "Yeah."
"You better be because this is important." Ur said, making him wonder how many times she would emphasize that.
He looked back down at the snow. Dammit, she made him smudge the "y". Now he'd have to start over.
"How are we supposed to stop them casting Eliftis if we don't know what it is?" At least Lyon was trying to pay attention. He'd just have to ask him later about anything he missed.
"I was getting to that, Lyon." Their master replied. "The Eliftis Spell is a spell that can only be cast by an ice mage. It's a spell that the caster casts on a certain area or location, and by doing so will alter the weather so that temperatures in that place will remain below the freezing point until the caster decides to remove the spell."
So an ice mage freezes a place and the place stays frozen until the ice mage says so. See, he was listening. Now if he could just get the "y" right.
"Why would anyone want to do that?" Lyon asked.
"Because it can enhance an ice mage's power."
"What's wrong with that?"
"It's a lot of power, and the mage's magic can become very hard to control." Ur explained. "But if they can control their magic, then there's essentially nothing wrong with it."
Finally, he was able to finish writing his name. He glanced over at Lyon who was so engrossed in their master's lecture. How was he not bored of all this yet?
"The spell only becomes a problem when either the caster casts it on a place without consent from the inhabitants, if there are any," Ur continued. "or if the caster dies before he can undo the reason Eliftis became forbidden was because a mage once died before they had the chance to undo the spell."
Gray looked up from his snow art and noticed the look Ur was giving him. He should probably contribute something to the conversation in order to make her think he was listening, which he was of course.
"So how do we stop it?"
"Only the original caster can undo the spell," Ur replied. "but if the caster- actually, nevermind. That's not important."
Gray glanced at Lyon, who in turn, glanced at him. Their master was hiding something from them again. If there was anything about Ur that annoyed them, it was that habit of hers.
"Okay, but that seems a bit risky." Lyon said. "If the caster is doing it for bad reasons then how are we supposed to make them undo the spell?"
She didn't answer Lyon's question right away. Gray knew she had the answer because she had the answers to all of their questions, so why was she so hesitant now? While waiting for his master to say something, he looked back down at his name sprawled in the snow. He had accidentally smudged it again when he wasn't looking. He'd just have to redo it.
"That's why the Eliftis spell is so dangerous." Ur finally said. "I wish I had a better answer for you, Lyon. The truth is though, that once the spell is cast, it may be almost impossible to undo it."
"I got it." Gray said, turning to face Levy. "I remember where I've heard of Eliftis."
"Eliftis?" Erza asked as she looked over at the open book Levy was looking through. "What are you two talking about?"
Levy pointed to the picture of the snowflake. "Gray found a snowflake outside that looked just like this one."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Natsu asked as he looked at the picture quizzically. "Don't all snowflakes look alike?"
Gray rolled his eyes. "No, flamebrain. That's why this is so strange. All snowflakes are different, so it's weird that the one I found is exactly the same as the one in the book."
"Maybe you just have bad eyesight."
"I saw it just fine, and so did Levy."
Erza cleared her throat, causing the two bickering mages to end their verbal fighting. "Do you have the snowflake, Gray?"
"No," he replied, pulling out the replica from his pocket. "it would have melted before I got here, so I copied it with my ice make."
Gray placed the frozen snowflake onto the table, allowing the rest of them to see it. There was no doubt about it, its design was exactly the same as the one in the picture. There was no way they had no connection.
"You're right, Gray." Lucy said as she looked back and forth between Gray's replica and the picture in the book. "They really are identical."
"Fine, so they're the same." Natsu agreed. "But how does this help us."
"It helps us because we now know that this book may be able to tell us what's happening to Fiore." Erza said. "What's the book about, Levy?"
"It's about forbidden spells." The solid script mage replied as she looked back down at the book. "This snowflake has something to do with a spell called Eliftis. Unfortunately, though, the book doesn't have much information on it. All it says is that it's a spell used by ice wizards to permanently freeze a specific area. When the spell is cast, snowflakes of this design will fall in that area as the effects of the spell build up."
Gray didn't remember Ur telling them about that part, but then again, there was probably a lot of things she didn't tell them.
"During my search, I met a girl who told me there had been a spell cast." Erza said. "She said it would bring an eternal winter to not just Fiore, but to all of Earthland."
"Sounds like this is what she was referring to." Lucy said.
"Gray?" Levy said, catching the ice mage's attention. "You said you heard of Eliftis before."
"Yeah." He replied. "When Lyon and I were training under Ur. She told us about this spell and how it was forbidden and all that. Apparently the spell can only be undone by the castor themselves"
Or at least that's what she said. Gray thought, but what if there was more than what she had told them?
"I don't get it though." Natsu said. "What's the point of this spell?"
"It can enhance an ice mage's magic." Gray answered. "I'm not entirely sure how, but enough that it can easily become too much to handle."
Why didn't he ask more questions when he had the chance? He barely even listened to her when she warned them about it. Now they were faced with stopping the ice age that was slowly taking over all of Earthland with barely any knowledge of what they were doing.
Wait, had Erza really said all of Earthland? She said a girl told her about it, but how did she know?
"Erza?" He said, catching the requip mage'sattention.
"You said you spoke to a girl. Who was she?"
Erza shrugged. "She said her name was Lena, but that's all I know. She said the snowstorms were happening all over Earthland, and there's no way of stopping it."
"I may have some other books that can tell us more about Eliftis." Levy said as she closed the book in front of her. "I'll go do some more research on it for you and I'll let you what I find."
"Thanks, Levy." Lucy said as she headed out.
"Yes," Erza agreed. "that would be most helpful. As for us, I think we need to find this girl, Lena. She may be the only one with knowledge of what's going on here."
"Hey, before we go on some crazy search for a random girl Erza spoke to, I have a slight problem that I may need help with." Lucy interrupted. "My rent is due in a couple days and I may or may not be a bit broke right now."
"Again?" Gray said amusingly. "Why do I feel like you're the only one here who has rent issues?"
Erza smiled. "She's not. She's just the only one who publicly announces them."
"Gee, thanks Erza." The celestial wizard muttered.
"How can you think of rent money at a time like this, Lucy?" Natsu asked. "The world's gonna be forever frozen and you're worrying about how you're gonna afford to keep your apartment?"
"Of course I am! If I can't pay my rent then I'll lose my apartment and will have to sleep outside in this freezing weather!"
"Alright, that's enough." Erza said, putting an end to the argument. "Lucy has a fair point, and we could all probably use some more jewels, so I think we can take one more job before all this."
The three of them nodded in agreement to Erza's suggestion and Natsu and Lucy went to go pick out a job for them.
Gray turned to look outside through the window at the blizzard hitting Magnolia. He was still having a hard time believing that someone had actually cast the Eliftis spell. So many questions ran through his head. Who had cast it and why? Who was this Lena and what else did she know? Why was the whole Earthland being subject to it? He had so many questions, yet no answers.
He turned away from the window as Erza called his name. "Yeah?"
"I wanted to ask you about, you know, your magic." She said as she sat down across from him. "Is it still out of control?"
"I think so." He said, trying not to make eye contact with the requip mage. He had been so caught up in their new find that he'd almost forgotten about his magic predicament.
"Do you think it's related to Eliftis?"
He hadn't thought of that, though it suddenly reminded him of something. "I don't know, but now that you mention it, I remember it happening before. In fact, it had happened just before Ur warned us about Eliftis. She said Eliftis has the power to enhance an ice mage's magic to a point where it's almost uncontrollable. What if this is what she meant?"
"I guess we won't know until we do some more digging." Erza said. "Looks like Natsu and Lucy found a job for us."
Gray looked up to see their fellow teammates holding their next job request. He remained seated as Erza stood up to go check out what they had chosen.
Something about the whole thing bothered him. He couldn't place it, but he had a strange feeling that this was more than just some crazy ice mage freezing the world, and boy, was he right.
Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!
Chapter 8: Ice-Make: Change
"If you could change the past, would you?"
Gray was used to snowstorms. He had grown up in Isvan after all where blizzards of high magnitude were quite the norm, but this, this was just ridiculous.
The snow had been falling incessantly since the day before, and though the sun was still high in the sky, none of it seemed to be melting. The myriad of falling snowflakes blurred his vision and he could barely make out the almost empty train station in front of him. There were only a few other people mingling around, or at least that's what he thought. They just looked like dark figures more than actual people, randomly placed against a white backdrop.
Gray leaned back on the bench he was sitting on, the cold snow soaking the back of his white coat. He could feel his pants getting soaked too, making him reconsider his decision to sit there. Looking down, he could barely make out his black boots buried under the accumulating pile of snow on the station platform. If it got any higher, Gray was sure their train ride would be canceled.
He began to wonder where the others were, as they were either late or he was just early. The job request Natsu and Lucy had chosen seemed fairly simple. A small town not too far from Magnolia was experiencing continuous attacks from who they suspected were dark mages. The request hadn't specified what kind of attacks, so they assumed the mayor of the town, who had filed the request, would give them more information once they got there. All in all, Gray didn't think they'd have much trouble with it, plus it paid pretty well. They'd quickly finish the job and get on with this Eliftis business.
He was still having a hard time believing all of it. To think that this white blanket would cover Earthland forever was a frightening and somewhat unimaginable thought. Despite his preference for the beauty of winter, he didn't wish for all these snowflakes to blur his vision every time he stepped outside. And even as an ice mage, Gray wasn't that desperate for the temperature to remain below the freezing point for eternity.
It was only now, as he was surrounded by the potential permanent setting for Earthland, did he realize the gravity of the situation they were in. Aside from the caster of the spell and his possible henchmen, Gray wondered if there was anyone other than his team and Levy who were aware of what was going on. If this was as dire as it seemed, were they supposed to be dealing with it on their own? They hadn't even told the master, let alone the rest of the guild who had been just as mindblown at the change of weather as they were. If this was really as threatening and catastrophic as they thought it was, then were they supposed to tell the magic council? This was something they were meant to deal with, wasn't it?
Gray sighed and put his head in his gloved hands. The sight of the black fabric in front of his eyes was a surprisingly nice change of scenery from the sea of white that had been clogging his view for the past day and a half. He had been up all night thinking about the Eliftis spell, wondering how such a thing could happen and what in the world was he supposed to do about it. He tried to remember what Ur had told him about it, but either he couldn't recall what she had said, or she had just not said enough. He was quite sure it was the latter, as he was fairly confident in his memory of it, despite his apparent lack of attention at the time.
Why hadn't she told them more? If it was as important as she had kept on emphasizing then wouldn't she have explained it to them in greater detail? Why hadn't he asked more questions when he had the chance? If only he could go back and warn his past self of his future situation-
Stop it! Gray thought, ashamed at himself for thinking that way again. I'm not supposed to be thinking like this. Hadn't he told Erza just a few days ago that he had gotten over his longing for a second chance at past mistakes? Hadn't he told himself that?
Then maybe I'm not over it.
Gray removed his gloved hands from his face and lifted his head. The snowstorm hadn't dwindled at all, and if anything it had just gotten worse. There was something different now though, someone else was occupying the bench with him. Turning his head slightly to his left, Gray's eyes fell upon a young girl, her black coat sticking out prominently in the surrounding whiteness. Her hands were uncovered, exposed to the frigid air and the falling snow. Her pants were as soaked as his, yet she didn't shiver.
She barely moved, as if she was unaffected by the freezing temperature and icy winds.
He could sense some magic energy coming from here, so perhaps she was an ice mage? It was a slim chance considering the rarity of ice mages in these parts, but it was always a possibility. Whatever the case, it really wasn't his business to go prying into some random girl's magic.
Gray turned away from the unknown girl, his gaze resettling on the nearly empty train station in front of him. He was really starting to wonder where the others were already. Either they were really later, or he had just been reallyearly.
As he stared ahead into the ongoing blizzard, Gray couldn't help but gaze back out of the corner of his eye at the girl sitting next to him. Her stagnant and unwavering position intrigued him, making him wonder if it really was ice magic that rendered her immune to the shivering and trembling that usually came along with exposure to these winter extremes. He wanted to ask her, but a direct accusation would probably come off as rude, if not completely awkward and maybe even a tad suspicious. He'd have to go for a milder approach.
"This is some crazy weather we're having."
Of all the possible things he could have said, he just had to choose that. He should have just kept his mouth shut, but it was too late for that now. Sneaking a glance at his seatmate, Gray noticed that she hadn't made any sign that she had heard him, so maybe he could just pretend he hadn't said anything.
"Did you say something?"
Or maybe not. It was a delayed reaction, but the young girl had turned to face him and before Gray could even think about turning away, his blue eyes met hers.
"Just commenting on the weather. It doesn't normally snow in the summer." He said, shifting his gaze towards the snowstorm in front of him.
He could still feel her eyes locked on him, staring intensely at his figure. It felt quite unsettling, yet the girl didn't seem to notice his discomfort as he shifted awkwardly in his spot on the snow covered bench. Seriously, what did she find so interesting about him anyway?
"You practice ice magic."
Gray's head spun around at the sudden accusation, his blue eyes meeting hers again.
"You practice ice magic." She repeated. "What kind?"
She was looking at him expectantly, making Gray wonder if he should answer her or not. Her sharp, blue eyes bore into him and while he wanted to look away, he found that he couldn't.
"Ice-Make," He replied hesitantly, still a bit unnerved by her ability to identify his magic like that. "but how did you know?"
"It's not that hard to tell." The girl said, finally removing her gaze from him and refocusing it onto the blizzard.
That hadn't really answered his question, but Gray figured he'd let it slide. At least she wasn't staring at him like that anymore.
"I may be mistaken," Gray said. "but are you an ice mage too?"
"Yes." She answered, her black boots kicking the snow in front of her. "Ice Binding Magic."
"I see." He'd heard of it before, but never actually saw it in action.
"Can you sense it?"
Gray glanced over at the girl, a look of confusion plastered on his face. He was starting to regret initiating this conversation with her. "Sense what?"
"This weather, it's not natural."
"I know- oh, you mean the ice magic." He said, realizing what she had been referring to. "Yeah, I can sense it."
"Do you have any idea of what it may be?"
Should he tell her? She already seemed to notice it all wasn't natural, so maybe she knew something he didn't. But what if they were wrong and it really had nothing to do with the Eliftis spell? Sure, he had found some snowflakes which looked exactly identical to the one from the book, but other than that they really had no proof.
"No clue." He lied. "Do you know of anything?"
The girl shook her head. "Nope."
The conversation morphed into silence, the only sound being the whistling of the freezing wind rushing past them. The snow continued to fall heavily, and Gray could almost see the heaps of snow around him growing. He wondered when it would stop, or rather if it would stop.
"Tell me something," The girl beside him said suddenly. "do you have any regrets?"
He knew they were both ice mages, but that certainly didn't qualify her to question him on such a personal and rather random topic. They had only just met and quite barely seeing as they both knew practically nothing about each other except their magic types. They hadn't even exchanged names, not that he even wanted too, but the point was they weren't close at all. This was something he wouldn't even consider talking about with some of his best friends, so why would he tell her? Surely, she wasn't expecting an honest, detailed answer because she definitely wasn't getting one.
"Of course," Gray said, not planning on embellishing at all. "doesn't everyone?"
"Yes." She answered, staring into the blizzard. Gray wondered what she was thinking, but her expression was unreadable. "You're right. Everyone makes mistakes that they wish they could go back and change, but obviously they can't. The past can't be tampered with. The choices we make are set in stone forever, but if you could change the past, would you?"
He should have been unfazed by her erratic questions at this point, but this one had really caught him off guard. Why was she asking him these things anyway? A part of him just wanted to get up and walk away right there, but something else was telling him to stay. This girl was creeping him out, but at the same time she intrigued him immensely.
"I- I don't really know." He answered truthfully, as he really wasn't sure. "I mean, I don't think I would. While it's true I sometimes wish things had gone differently, at the same time good things have happened that never would've been possible if I hadn't made those mistakes I always regret."
"That's good to hear." The girl said, but before Gray could ask why, she stood up from the bench. "I have to go now, but it was nice talking with you, but before I head off, just promise me one thing. Promise me you'll heed your own words in the future."
"I promise?" He said, though not quite understanding what he was promising.
"Good." She said, turning around slightly to give him a smile. "My name's Lena, and in case you didn't notice, you kind of just froze the bench there. Goodbye, Gray."
And then she just walked off, vanishing into the white sea and becoming just another dark figure, unable to be identified. But as she disappeared, Gray felt like she had just left him at some three way crossing, lost and unsure which path to take. Should he run after her because she said her name was Lena, the name of the girl Erza had talked to? Should he take the second route and wonder why his magic was going out of control again or should he be panicking because she somehow knew his name?
As he sat there on the frozen bench debating his options, the train pulled into the station and four familiar voices could be heard behind him.
"Well, looks like we made it just in time."
"Hey, ice block, is that you? I can barely see anything in this stupid snow!"
"Natsu's right. I can't even go fishing anymore because I can hardly see them. What'll I do, Lucy?"
"Seriously, cat? The whole world's about to freeze and all you can think about is your stupid fish?!"
Gray stood up from the bench, silently praying they wouldn't notice it was covered in ice. It was "winter" after all, so it was completely normal, right?
"So you guys finally made it." Gray said as they approached him. "I was beginning to think you'd never come."
"This weather really made it hard to get here." Lucy said, defending her tardiness. "If I would have known, I would have left earlier."
"It doesn't matter." Erza said, putting the conversation back on track, as expected. "We should go board the train."
It had only been half an hour since they left the station, and already more than half the team was knocked out or asleep. As he leaned against the window, Gray could see Lucy sitting across from him, as she lay asleep curled up against the wall with a sleeping Happy on her lap. It didn't look all that comfortable, but it's not like she had many options considering Natsu's sprawled out figure taking up more than half of the bench. Though, despite the seeming discomfort, Gray could only wish he could be in one of their positions, unconscious and therefore unable to be bothered by any worries and concerns, both valid and not. He was almost considering asking Erza to knock him out too.
Instead, he was stuck with all his thoughts and problems bombarding his mind, each one battling for his full focus and undivided attention. So many questions were being asked at once, and Gray didn't even know where to start. Should he think about that girl, Lena, and all those seemingly random yet possibly meaningful questions she had asked him? Should he tell Erza about her? If this was the same Lena, then it would probably make sense to tell her as she did meet her before. Or maybe he should just bottle everything up and hope it all would work itself out. That seemed like a better plan not because it was more logical, but it's what made him the least uncomfortable at the moment.
"I would think all this snow and cold would make you happy," He kept his gaze on the window as Erza began to speak to him. "but you seem troubled by something. Is there anything wrong?"
Here was his chance to drop his more preferable and less reasonable plan for a more rational and sensible one. Telling Erza about all the problems, questions, worries, and concerns that were inundating his mind may not cease them, but it would at least give him more room to breathe if someone else was sharing them with him. He wanted to tell her just to get it out in the open, but something kept telling him to hold back.
"It's nothing, really." He said, his back still turned to her. He'd compromise; he wouldn't tell her everything, just some things. "I had a strange conversation with someone at the station while waiting for you and it just got me thinking."
"What did you talk about?"
"She asked me some odd questions, a little too personal for just chatting with someone you meet on a bench." Of course, he didn't add that he had initiated the conversation. "It was almost like she knew who I was. Scratch that, she did know who I was! She knew I was an ice mage and by the things she asked me, I felt like she somehow knew something of my past too, and on top of all that, she knew my name!"
He didn't know when he turned from the window to face her, but at some point he had and was now staring expectantly at Erza's calm demeanor, much the opposite of his own panicked expression.
"Gray, you are a somewhat famous wizard." She said, smiling. "People have heard of you and as much as you don't want to believe it, they do recognize you at least somewhat."
"She was not a fangirl."
"I never said she was. I'm just saying it's not completely unheard of for us to talk to a random stranger only to find out they know exactly who we are. Don't tell me this was the first time it's happened to you, was it?"
He glared at her as she smiled amusingly at him. So this was the more rational and sensible plan, huh? He should've not said anything just like his guts had told him. Though, to be fair, he hadn't really told her everything, and by the way he had described it he guessed it did somewhat sound like what Erza was referring too, and just for the record, it wasn't the first time it had happened.
"Look, I just have this feeling it wasn't like that." He said, leaning back in his seat. "She was just sitting there and we started talking. She didn't even tell me she recognized me until the very end when she got up and walked away. She knew me from somewhere else, I just don't know where."
"Did she tell you who she was?"
Was there a reason he couldn't tell Erza that vital piece of information? He tried to rack his brain for one, but he could only find a million and a half reasons for why he should tell her. If he told her it was probably that same girl she had met earlier, perhaps she'd believe him more, and maybe it would give them a lead on something. Why was he so hesitant to tell her, anyway?
Her name was Lena. He rehearsed in his head. Just say her name was Lena.
"She didn't tell me."
"Well, I guess you're right about her not being a fangirl considering she didn't tell you her name or try to get an autograph." Erza said, a hint of amusement still in her voice. "But if you really think there was something more to it then I'll take your word for it. However, I can't really make any deductions based on your description of what happened. Do you remember what she looked like?"
Yes. He thought. Black coat, black boots and creepy, yet captivating blue eyes that lured you towards them even though every bone in your body wanted to turn away.
"It was hard to get a good look with all the snow clogging my vision."
"I see." She said, though Gray knew she really didn't. "Well, if you do remember anything else then be sure to let me know. And if there's anything else that's troubling you, you can always try talking to me about it. I may not always have the answers to your problems, as clearly shown just now, but I've learned that everything feels a bit less burdensome after you talk it out with someone."
Maybe it would've if he had actually talked it out with her instead of giving her the bare minimum.
"Thanks." He said, turning back towards the window. "I'll keep that in mind."
And he would, along with every other thought that made him reconsider his silence. And of course, those intruding thoughts were somehow much louder and demanding, making Gray wonder if he had any control over what he thought and said.
I actually really liked writing this chapter because it's a lot of internal Gray and I love writing about Gray and his internal monologues. I mean, I hope I got his character right. It's just I find him really easy to write because I feel like we have similar personalities, so hopefully I did this okay. And there is a reason for his introvertly conflicted self here, other than his characteristic introvertly conflicted self :D
Also, as much as I ship Grayza as if it was just meant to be, I decided that there will be no romance in this just to keep things civil and focused on the main plot, however there will be a lot of Gray and Erza moments (in case you haven't already noticed) just because I love their relationship, both platonic and not.
Alright, that's enough blabbering for me today. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, leave a comment if you can, and stop by next week for the next installment. Thanks so much for reading, and have a great day!
Chapter 9: Ice-Make: Decision
"The fate of the world and yourself lies in your hands and once you make that decision, there's no turning back."
"Thank you so much for coming." The mayor said, his hands clasped together on his desk. "The attacks have been getting worse lately and it's worrying the town."
"It's our pleasure to be of help to you, Mayor." Erza said, representing the rest of the team. "Now, can you tell us exactly what's been happening here?"
Gray stuck his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall as the mayor began his recollection of the recent magic attacks plaguing the town. The whole train ride, he had been preoccupied with his troublesome thoughts and he was hoping this job would take his mind off of it for a while.
"Yes, of course." The mayor began. "It all started about two weeks ago when the local museum was broken into. The perpetrators killed the guards and then went on to trash the whole museum. They didn't even steal anything. They just damaged much of the museum's collection, including some priceless treasures. These break-ins happened quite a few times after that, and each time it was the same story."
"If they're not stealing anything then what are they after?" Lucy asked.
"That's what I'm wondering too." Erza said. "And also, what makes you suspect they're mages? Did you find any traces of magic?"
The mayor frowned. "When we found the dead guards after the first attack, we noticed they didn't have any physical injuries. Upon further examination by some doctors, they were said to have died of hypothermia."
"Well, that makes sense." Natsu said, gesturing towards the window. "I mean, just look outside!"
Gray rolled his eyes. "This was before that, Natsu. If they really froze to death as the mayor claims, it wouldn't be by any natural means."
Though as he glanced out the window, he realized the weather now wasn't so natural either.
"That's true." Erza agreed. "While it's possible that it was the work of a wizard, it isn't really the only option."
"Yes, but we have more evidence." The mayor interjected, capturing their attention. "When we went inside the museum after each attack, everything was always decked in ice and frozen solid."
So we're dealing with an ice mage. Gray thought as his gaze remained locked on the window, showcasing the snowstorm outside. Ice Magic seemed to be getting a lot of attention over the past few days, and it made Gray a bit suspicious. Ice mages weren't one of the most common types of mages in these parts, so for all these events to happen almost simultaneously was quite a rare occurrence. Well, so much for the mission taking his mind off things for a while.
"Well, sounds like magic to me." Natsu said, smiling. "Let's go find this dude and beat his brains out."
Happy shook his head. "I don't think we have enough information to do that yet, Natsu."
"Not so fast." Erza said, her commanding tone immediately causing Natsu to back down. "Based on what the mayor told us, we can probably assume an ice mage had something to do with it. However, we have no idea of how to find whoever's been doing this. So before we start a wild manhunt for some unknown mage, I think we should first check out the museum." She paused and then turned to the mayor. "Is that alright?"
The mayor smiled. "Yes, of course. The museum is just two streets down from here. It shouldn't be hard to miss with all the destruction."
"Perfect, thank you." Erza said and turned to the rest of the group. "Alright, let's go."
The mayor was right; it wasn't that hard to miss.
The stone steps leading up to the museum doors were heavily damaged with broken pieces of destroyed columns scattered around. The large, double doors leading inside had been blown apart with one still hanging onto the frame with all the strength it could muster, firm in the belief that it wouldn't end up like its partner which lay amongst the debris, tattered and in ruins beyond repair. The glass in the windows had been shattered and the roof looked as if it would collapse if even the smallest bird would land upon it.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Natsu asked, appearing unfazed by the sheer magnitude of the destruction. "Let's go inside and check it out!"
"Very well, then." Erza agreed. "Let's go."
"Is anyone going to comment on how disastrous this looks?" Lucy asked as Erza and Natsu began to stumble their way up the broken stairs and Happy easily avoided the obstacles by flying above them.
Gray smiled as he too began to follow their lead. "You seem to forget we're Fairy Tail wizards, Lucy. Destruction at this level is what we're famous for."
"More like infamous." Lucy mumbled as she followed him.
The first thing Gray noticed upon walking through the damaged doorway was the ice covering most of the interior. The floor was almost completely frozen and icicles hung from the half demolished ceiling. Blocks of ice lay scattered around and the whole building seemed to sparkle in the sunlight shining in through the broken windows and the gaps in the walls.
"This is definitely the work of an Ice Mage." Gray muttered as he ran his fingers across the ice encasing a half standing wall.
Judging by the texture, Gray could tell it was just regular ice made with magic, susceptible to the melting process just like any natural ice would be. The only reason most of it was still frozen though was due to the significant drop in temperature outside. The freezing air blowing in from the broken windows and openings in the walls was enough to preserve the icy interior, leaving enough evidence of the perpetrator's magic.
"Looks like someone really wanted to destroy this place." Erza said as she inspected a damaged display case, its former contents shattered and in pieces, surrounded by chunks of glistening ice. "I wonder why."
Gray walked over to where Erza was standing and picked up one of the pieces of ice. He was curious as to what kind of Ice Magic it was, as it certainly wasn't Maker Magic. He turned the ice over in his hand a few times, letting the frozen object chill his skin to the point where any average person would have already gone numb. It was cold, much colder than any normal ice.
"Is it safe to touch?" Erza asked, picking up another piece with her gloved hand.
Gray shook his head. "Keep your gloves on. These aren't just any old ice cubes."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Lucy asked as she overheard the conversation.
"Expose this to your skin and you'll get frostbite within seconds." He explained as he dropped the ice back into the broken case. "While your average ice cube stays fairly under the freezing point, this kind of ice is typically below negative sixty degrees where risk of frostbite is at its highest."
He wasn't that surprised though by how cold it was, as he knew there were types of Ice Magic which were more effective when using ice at such extreme temperatures. He tried to come up with some of the types that did that, but none he could recall fit their situation. It had to be magic with this kind of destructive power, but what?
"Hey, guys, come quick!" Gray, Erza, and Lucy looked up to see Happy flying towards them. "Natsu found something!"
"Oh, yeah." Lucy said as she realized Natsu wasn't with them. "Where'd he run off to?"
Erza crossed her arms and looked over at Happy. "Well then, lead the way."
The three mages followed Happy as he led them down some hallways, each one destroyed to some extent and completely decked in ice. Everything glimmered and Gray thought he could almost call it beautiful, if not for the fact someone had done it in order to destroy it.
Gray found his mind beginning to drift again as Erza and Lucy commented on their frozen surroundings. Any other day, Gray would have loved to take this job, being able to work with what he was used to. But with everything that had happened so far in connection to his magic, he really just wanted to deal with something different. All the ice kept reminding him of the problem they had temporarily put on hold and left for later even though Gray doubted the two being connected considering one began before the other and seemed liked a normal, ordinary occurrence that could have happened at any time during the year. It was probably just a coincidence they happened simultaneously, and a rather unfortunate coincidence in Gray's opinion.
"Guys, check this out!" Natsu shouted as they followed Happy into one of the museum's various showrooms.
It looked similar to the rest of the building with more than half of it in ruins and encased in ice. Shattered display cases dotted the frozen floor, the remnants of their now destroyed artifacts strewn about the mess. Natsu was standing before a similar case, causing the others to wonder what he could have possibly found.
"Check out what?" Erza asked the dragonslayer as they approached the broken case he was looking at.
Natsu bent down to pick something up and then turned to face the others, a large, fully intact red stone in his hands. "This."
Lucy stepped closer to peer at the stone. "I don't believe it. It doesn't have a single crack on it despite its case being completely destroyed."
"That's strange." Erza said as he surveyed the rest of the room. "It looks like whoever did this was targeting the museum's collection as it looks like they were hit the most, so why would they leave this intact?"
An idea suddenly came to Gray's mind as he remembered a certain type of Ice Magic that fit their situation almost perfectly.
"Hey, Natsu." Gray said and gestured towards the stone in his hands. "Can I have that for a minute."
"Sure, I guess." Natsu replied, handing over the stone.
Gray took it and began to examine it. From its weight and texture, it didn't seem like such a powerful stone that could withstand an attack like this. It felt like just any ordinary stone, subject to break upon the smallest impact. If that were the case, it wouldn't even survive a drop to the floor. Without much of a second thought, Gray threw back his arm and launched the stone across the room, hitting the far wall and landing onto the iced floor with a resounding thud with not even the slightest crack on its surface.
"Why'd you that?" Natsu asked as though feeling betrayed by the ice mage for throwing the stone.
"Yeah, I kind of agree with Natsu." Lucy said, crossing her arms over her chest. "What did that accomplish?"
"I don't know why I didn't think of it before." Gray said as he went to retrieve the red stone. "Whoever did this used Ice Destruction Magic and for some reason, their magic was ineffective on this stone, almost like it's indestructible."
"That's because it is indestructible." They all turned towards where the unfamiliar voice was coming from as a young man slowly entered the room. "Your friend is right, I did use Ice Destruction Magic and while I managed to completely demolish most of the artifacts here, I couldn't even put a dent in that stupid stone."
"Who are you?" Erza demanded as they all got into a fighting stance.
"Who am I?" The man repeated as he stuck out his hand towards the stone laying on the floor. A blast of ice shot forth, tearing up the frozen floor underneath it and catapulting the stone in his direction, effortlessly grabbing it as it flew towards him. "I'm Alvaro of the Konungaris Legion and I believe this stone belongs to me."
"What do you mean you didn't take him like I told you to?! You couldn't at least find out where he was going?!"
Lena trembled as tears flooded her blue eyes, ready to spill out at any moment. She tried to ignore the yelling directed at her, but found it too difficult to stay silent and accept his insults.
"I gave you one job today, you incompetent girl! You couldn't accomplish one little capture and you call yourself a wizard!"
"Stop it!" She screamed, her ice tubes instantly wrapping around the black cloaked man in front of her. "I've had enough of this! I don't want to be a part of this anymore! It's wrong. Altering the weather so you can trick people into doing your dirty work just to then destroy their hope is wrong and cruel. I helped you do it once, and that was a mistake. I admit that was wrong and I'm not going to help you do it again, Pelphides!"
"How dare you try and disobey my orders, Lena." Pelphides said as the ice bonding him broke and fell to the ground. "I'm the one in charge here and when this spell is finally finished and my Dark Ice-Make restored, I will be in charge of the whole world!"
"I won't let that happen!" Lena shouted. She tried to run, but Pelphides immediately froze her arms and legs in place, preventing her from making an escape.
He laughed. "I'd like to see you try."
The cloaked man then left the room, leaving Lena alone and unable to move.
Please Gray, she thought pleadingly. don't go back on your words. The fate of the world and yourself lies in your hands and once you make that decision, there's no turning back.
And the plot thickens...
I don't really have much to say this chapter, so I think I'll just leave it at that. Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoyed, and if you're feeling adventurous then go ahead and leave a comment.
Remember to stop by next week for Chapter 10!
Chapter 10: Ice-Make: Choice
"Once I freeze this thing there's no way of melting it." He muttered, bringing his hands together to cast the spell. "I don't even know if this is the right choice. If not, well then it's too late now."
"Who am I?" The man repeated as he stuck out his hand towards the stone laying on the floor. A blast of ice shot forth, tearing up the frozen floor underneath it and catapulting the stone in his direction, effortlessly grabbing it as it flew towards him. "I'm Alvaro of the Konungaris Legion and I believe this stone belongs to me."
Before any of them could react Alvaro began to run away with the stone, blasts of ice shooting from his free hand and flying towards them, destroying the ground around them as they landed. They were too busy dodging the attacks that they couldn't even think about chasing after him. It was only after Alvaro finally made it out of the vicinity that they were able to start thinking clearly and come up with a plan.
"I think we found the one responsible for all this." Erza said as she surveyed the destruction the room had been subject to. "So this is Ice Destruction Magic, Gray?"
Gray nodded. "Yeah, anything his ice touches it destroys."
Well that explains a lot. Erza thought, tightening the grip on her sword. They'd have to go after him and he couldn't have gone far. "Alright, let's go find him."
The team split up with Natsu, Lucy, and Happy going in one direction and Gray and Erza going in the other. The museum wasn't that big and with all the damage it was hard to stay hidden. Erza was pretty confident they'd find him and she had many questions for him too. She had never heard of the Konungaris Legion and she was curious as to what was so special about that supposedly indestructible red stone. Erza sneaked a glance at Gray as they walked down an icy hallway. He seemed to know a few things she didn't, making her wonder how much more he really knew.
"I wonder what's so important about that stone." Erza wondered aloud.
Gray shrugged. "I don't know, but there must be something to it if it could withstand an attack like that."
"And who did he say he was affiliated with? The Konungaris Legion?"
"It sounds familiar." Gray said, pausing as he tried to recall his memory of it. "I think it's a guild in Isvan, but it doesn't make much sense."
"Last time I checked, they weren't a dark guild." He said, coming to a stop at an exit leading out to the back of the museum. "Do you hear that?"
Erza stood still and listened. It was silent for the first ten seconds, but then she heard it. A faint blast sounded outside the exit and without even discussing it, the two hurried outside. Sure enough, the mage they were after was standing there amidst his own acts of needless destruction. Erza could see the stone clearly in his hand, its bright red color making it impossible to miss.
"Stop!" She shouted, raising her sword. She could see Gray getting into his Ice-Make stance beside her. "What exactly is your goal here and what do you want with that stone?"
Alvaro smiled, though she could tell it was no friendly grin. "Why don't you try to catch me first? I'm not really into the whole surrendering business."
Alvaro began to run as they initiated their attacks. He used one hand to secure the stone and used the other to continue blasting ice towards them. With almost perfect accuracy, his ice hit Erza's sword and Gray's arrows, thus destroying them before they could have any effect on him.
Erza stopped and looked down at her empty hand, astonished at the sight of her sword shattering to pieces and falling to the ground amidst an abundance of broken ice, just like what they had seen in the museum. Looking over at Gray, she could see his ice had wound up in a similar situation, though it was hard to distinguished his shattered arrows from Alvaro's ice.
"Never thought I'd see that." Gray said as he inspected his destroyed creation. "Ice destroying ice."
"We should still go after him." Erza said, another sword appearing in her hand. "He obviously wants us to follow him."
"That usually implies it's a trap, Erza."
She was having the same thought, but they didn't seem to have many other options. "We'll just have to be careful."
"Fine, let's go."
It didn't take long for them to catch up with Alvaro. He was just around the corner standing there as if he were waiting for them. Once he saw them coming, however, he hurried off again through a side door into some old building. Erza and Gray followed right after him, all the while trying to land a hit on him with their magic only to have each attempt destroyed with his ice.
"What do you think his plan is?" Gray asked as they lost sight of Alvaro after he turned a corner.
"No idea." Erza replied. "Maybe he's leading us somewhere."
Gray shot her a look of concern. "That doesn't sound like a good thing."
As they turned the corner, Erza caught sight of Alvaro at what appeared to be a dead end. "Well, I guess we'll find out."
They had cornered him into a small room with only one exit, which they were blocking. Erza tried to convince herself that they had actually cornered him there, but something kept telling her it was some sort of trap and that Alvaro had purposely led them there.
"I think this counts as catching you." Gray said, preparing his Ice-Make though he probably knew it was pointless. Alvaro would just destroy anything he created. "So why don't you just give up and tell us what your deal is?"
Alvaro smiled, making Erza wonder if there was any reason for his incessant grinning or if it was just his normal expression. "Fair enough, you two win."
"What?" Gray said, dropping his Ice-Make stance. "Just like that?"
Erza watched skeptically as Alvaro set the red stone down on the ground, his smile never fading.
"You asked me what was so special about this stone, didn't you?" He asked, his gaze directed at Erza. His piercing blue eyes bore into him and she had to reassure herself that the chill she was feeling was just due to the sudden draft in the room and not his intense gaze. "This stone is called the Koppa Stone and what makes it so powerful is that it can be made into an explosive weapon."
She could feel the air getting colder and wrapped her arms around herself as she began to shiver. "What are you saying?"
Without any warning, the exit behind them began to freeze rapidly, the ice creating a wall blocking their only way out. Alvaro then shot a blast of ice at the wall behind him, forming a hole just big enough for him to fit through.
"What are you doing?" Gray asked. His shirt had come off at some point, but the sudden drop in temperature didn't seem to bother him. The same couldn't be said for Erza, however, as she tightened her arms around herself and tried to bury herself deeper into her coat.
"Making my escape, obviously." Alvaro said as he began to climb out. "While we were playing our little game of cat and mouse, I took the liberty of activating the Koppa Stone. It will self destruct in just a few minutes, taking the both of you and this whole building with it."
"This is ridiculous." Gray said, resuming his attack stance. "Ice-make Lance!"
Erza tried to raise the sword in her hand, but found her arms unwilling to move from their position around her shivering body. She could feel her body starting to go numb from the cold and her limbs felt so stiff and heavy as if they were frozen in place. She watched helplessly as Alvaro shot another blast of ice at Gray's incoming attack, destroying it before it could even come near him.
"The only way to stop the Koppa Stone is to freeze it in permanent ice." Alvaro said, his grin widening as he turned to Erza. "What you're feeling right now is Korpus's Hypothermia Magic. It will slowly freeze your internal organs until your body goes numb and shuts down. Good luck surviving it. I'll let Korpus know the spell is working."
She wanted to say something, but her mouth refused to open as Alvaro slipped through his self-made hole. She couldn't feel her legs anymore, her freezing limbs collapsing from under her and bringing the rest of her body crashing to the floor. The armour under her coat had shielded her from most of the impact, but Erza barely even felt herself falling. All she could feel was the cold like a sheet of ice was slowly wrapping itself around the inside of her body, leaving her motionless and unable to move a muscle.
She could hear Gray shout her name as he dropped down next to her. Her body was almost completely numb at this point, but she could faintly feel Gray's hand on her shoulder.
"Erza, the only way to save you is to get you somewhere warm." He said, though she could barely make out the words. It was strange, but she was beginning to feel quite comfortable despite the freezing sensation she had felt mere seconds ago.
"I'm alright, Gray." She said, slightly closing her eyes. She could faintly see the look of fear on Gray's face, making her wonder what he was so afraid of. "I don't feel so cold anymore, in fact I kind of feel warm, so warm I could probably just fall asleep right now."
"No! Don't fall asleep, Erza!"
The thought of sleep was so tempting, but she found it hard to keep her eyes closed as Gray shook her furiously. Why was he so adamant on depriving her of sleep anyway? Didn't he feel the warmth she was feeling right now?
"Erza! I'm getting you out of here, okay?"
She could feel Gray begin to lift her up when her eyes fell on the Koppa Stone laying on the ground. What did Alvaro say before? Sometime about it exploding? Maybe that's why it was glowing like that.
"Oh, crap! That stupid stone!" Erza felt herself drop slightly in Gray's arms as he too caught sight of the Koppa Stone's glowing.
"Didn't he say only permanent ice could stop it?" She muttered as she closed her eyes. She could hear a low rumbling coming from the direction of the glowing stone, but all she could think about was how comfortable she was feeling and how tempting it was to doze off for a bit.
"We can't let it explode." She could hear Gray say something as he slowly lowered her back onto the floor. "This will just take a second. I'm warning you Erza, you need to stay awake."
She wondered why he had put her down after he had been so stubborn about getting her out. She opened her eyes slightly, fighting their desire to stay closed as she watched Gray head towards the Koppa Stone.
"Once I freeze this thing there's no way of melting it." He muttered, bringing his hands together to cast the spell. "I don't even know if this is the right choice. If not, well then it's too late now."
She couldn't keep her eyes open any longer as she finally surrendered herself to the constant calling of slumber. She closed her eyes as she felt Gray lift her up again, a smile forming on her face as she dozed off into the warmth engulfing her body.
"I'm going to get you out of here, Erza and you're going to be fine. I'll make sure of that."
"Natsu, I think we lost him." Lucy said as she sat down on a bench, watching the dragonslayer with a bored expression as he looked behind a garbage can. "Let's just go find Erza and Gray. Maybe they found him."
"But I had his scent." Natsu said in defense as he opened the garbage lid and peered inside. "Okay, so it wasn't exactly his scent, but there was someone else in that building, I swear!"
"Well, whoever he was, he got away." Happy said, supporting Lucy's suggestion. "I think we should just go find Erza and Gray, Natsu."
Natsu groaned as he placed the lid back on the can. "Fine, but I'm only giving up because it's too cold to keep searching out here."
"Yeah, whatever." Lucy said, getting up from the bench. She was just glad she could persuade Natsu to quit their wild search for a guy they had no real proof even existed, that is if you didn't count Natsu's claim of being able to smell him. Though, she was beginning to feel cold so maybe he had a good reason after all. "Come on, let's head back to the museum."
Lucy stuffed her hands in her pockets as they began to walk back. It had only been a few days since the snowstorm had began, but it had already turned into a raging blizzard way above the intensity of every other snowstorm to have ever hit Magnolia. She couldn't even remember a time where the temperature had been this low or where the piles of snow had been so high. Her boots couldn't even handle it as she trudged in them through the snow, her socks soaking from the amount of snow that had already found its way inside. She felt as if her ears were going to freeze off and she regretted not bringing her hat.
"Hey, excuse me, but have you seen anyone around here carrying a red stone by any chance?"
"Natsu!" Lucy said as she looked up to see the pink haired wizard talking to an old lady walking past them. "What are you doing?"
"Just asking if she saw Alvaro."
Lucy glared at him. "We don't need to get innocent civilians involved in this."
"Relax, it's just a question." Natsu said, turning back to the old lady. "We're looking for a guy who stole something from the museum here. I don't know if you've been there, maybe you know what I'm talking about. It's really red and about this big."
Lucy groaned and grabbed Natsu's hand, trying to pull him away. "Sorry, ma'am. We didn't mean to bother you, so we'll just-"
"Wait a minute," The old lady said suddenly with a panicked look in her eyes. "you don't mean the Koppa Stone, do you?"
Lucy looked over at Natsu. "Koppa Stone?"
Natsu shrugged and turned to the old lady. "Is it red and indestructible?"
The old lady nodded frantically. "Yes, that's it! I knew that's what they were after this whole time. Oh, this is horrible!"
"Hey, it's going to be okay." Lucy said gently as she placed on her hand on the trembling woman's shoulder. "We're Fairy Tail wizards and we're here to help. Can you tell us about this Koppa Stone?"
The old lady breathed heavily as Lucy led her over to a bench and sat down beside her with Natsu and Happy standing nearby.
"The Koppa Stone was created long ago to stop anyone who tried to cast the Eliftis spell." The old woman began. "Have you ever heard of it?"
Lucy nodded. "Yeah, someone is trying to cast it now, aren't they?"
"Yes. You see, after the Eliftis spell became forbidden, a group of wizards decided to create the Koppa Stone to counteract the spell if anyone ever tried to cast it. The Koppa Stone was designed to be able to sense the Eliftis spell a few days after it was cast, and once it senses its presence it's made to fire magic energy that counteracts the spell and prevents the process towards completion. The stone was made to be indestructible so that the Eliftis spell could never be carried out."
"So why does it matter that it was stolen if it can't be destroyed?" Natsu asked. "If what you're saying is true then this whole winter business will go away soon and everything will go back to normal."
"It's true that the Koppa Stone can't be destroyed," the old lady continued. "but there is one way to prevent it from firing; the Koppa Stone will not work if an ice mage other than the spell's caster encases it with permanent ice."
"An ice mage?" Lucy repeated, glancing at Natsu.
"An ice mage other than the caster." Natsu said, turning to Happy.
"With permanent ice..."
The three of them then looked at each other, their eyes widening at their unanimous realization. "Gray!"
We made it to Chapter 10! That's like multichapter milestone or something, lol. And a cliffhanger! Why? Because I love them!
I think I'm just not going to comment on anything that just happened, I'll leave you guys to ponder this yourselves. However, I did read somewhere that hypothermia is one of the more peaceful ways to die...
See you next week!
Chapter 11: Ice-Make: Reroute
"There's no way to undo it, as the damage has already been done. We'll just have to use a different method to counteract this spell."
Mages were no strangers to near death experiences, and while he knew Erza was no exception to that reality, Gray just couldn't find it in him to believe what his eyes were seeing.
Erza Scarlet, Fairy Tail's famed S-Class Wizard, sat there unconscious and immobile, her normally intimidating and fearless figure now appearing almost small and helpless under the blankets wrapped around her. Gray sat beside her, his hand on her shoulder to prevent her from falling off her chair. The uncomfortable chair hadn't been his preferred choice of seating for her, but the empty bakery next to the abandoned building he had rushed her to didn't have any better options. He was just grateful the owners had let them seek refuge there even though they were closed for the day.
He stared at her closed eyes expecting them to open any second and the peaceful expression on her face to transform into her usual serious demeanor. She was supposed to be ogling at the smell of strawberry shortcake wafting through the room, not sitting there completely unnerved by it. He wanted her to scold him for removing his shirt, not ignore his indecent act as if the heat coming from the ovens in the nearby kitchen really justified it.
He wasn't going to just sit back and accept that the great Titania, Queen of the Fairies, could be defeated by mere hypothermia. Any second now she would wake up. Any second-
Gray immediately lurched forward and placed his other hand on the red haired mage to steady her as she gasped, her eyes widening and her breathing increasing. Gray could feel her shivering under the blankets as her arms moved instinctively to wrap themselves around her. He didn't have to touch her to know her body was freezing and as much as he hated to see her suffer, he knew it was a good sign.
"Erza," He said calmly as she looked over at him, her breathing still heavy and her body still shaking. "You're gonna be okay."
Erza tightened her embrace on herself and buried her head into the blankets. "What happened?" She asked, her voice muffled from under the blankets.
"We cornered Alvaro, remember?" He said, trying to remind her of what had just happened. "He left the Koppa Stone and escaped, telling us it would explode and destroy the whole building along with us."
He watched her silently as she continued to huddle beneath the blankets, the look of concentration on her face indicating she was trying to recall the incident.
"Apparently there was some other guy there with him. Korpus, I think his name was." He continued. "He used Hypothermia Magic on you, causing your insides to freeze until you fell unconscious."
"I remember now." Erza said, her eyes suddenly widening as she turned to face him. "You froze the stone, didn't you?"
Gray smiled. Even in the midst of near death, Erza still couldn't keep her mind off the mission. She was going to be alright. "Of course, I did. Froze it in permanent ice and then got you out of there before you froze to death."
He then stared at her in confusion as her body seemed to relax, her intense shaking diminishing. How the news could be so relieving that it removed almost all her feelings of pain was a complete and utter mystery to him.
But then he remembered who was sitting next to him.
"That's good to hear." She said, closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair. "If that thing exploded it could have caused a lot of destruction and chaos for the people in the area. It's a good thing we stopped it in time."
Yeah, just forget about the fact that you were about to die back there. Gray thought, though something told him that even if he hadn't been there, she would have somehow gotten out of it anyway.
"How do you feel?" He asked.
"Still cold," Erza replied, her arms still wrapped around herself beneath the blankets. "but I'm slowly warming up."
"Good." He said, forcing back the stupid grin that was pushing its way through. He was an idiot for thinking she had been so easily defeated like that. "That means you won't freeze to death, though you were nearly there. That was that warm feeling you got after you went numb and the coldness seemed to disappear. That's what trips people up though, the calm before the storm. The fact that you feel the cold now means you're going through that process again, just backwards."
"Based off how I felt before, I'd say hypothermia isn't such a painful way to die." Erza said, turning to him with a smirk. "Just remind me not to do it though if I plan on coming back."
Erza didn't say anything after that, so Gray just kept quiet as he didn't really know what to say either. Everything had happened so quickly that he hadn't really had time to think about it. They had lost Alvaro and his supposed partner, Korpus, so were they not done with the job? Gray figured the reason they had been destroying the museum was so they could destroy the Koppa Stone, but why would they want to stop it from going off? And not only that, but if Alvaro already knew it could only be stopped by permanently freezing it, then why didn't he just do it himself? He was an ice mage, after all. But after his attempt at getting rid of him and Erza with it, Gray could only wonder why he suddenly changed his mind about preventing the stone from exploding. None of it made sense to him. What was he missing?
"I've been calling your name three times now." Erza said.
"You may want to look down."
Gray gave her a puzzled look and glanced downwards. "What the hell? Not again."
Gray stood up from the chair he was sitting on and glared at its new frozen state. Glistening ice covered its wooden frame and the bottoms of the chair legs were frozen to the floor. The first few times this happened he was merely surprised, if not a bit concerned, but now he was just finding it annoying.
"Something is seriously messing with my magic."
"No kidding." Erza said as she began to remove the blankets from on top of her.
"Hey, you should probably leave those on-"
"Nonsense." Erza said, standing up from her seat and tossing the blankets onto the chair. "I'll be fine. Besides, looks like the rest of the team found us."
Gray looked up at the bakery door just as Natsu, Lucy, and Happy strolled in. Their faces displayed a mix of panic and concern and Gray wondered what they could possibly be so worried about. They've separated many times in the past yet always found each other afterwards. They've been on some wild searches for each other, but they never feared the worst. Whatever it was, it had to be something quite terrible if even Natsu was openly showcasing his worry.
"There you guys are!" Natsu shouted as if he was accusing them of being somewhere they shouldn't. "We've been looking everywhere for you two!"
Erza cleared her throat and placed her hands on her hips while Gray looked on and wondered if this was the same girl who had almost died of hypothermia a few minutes prior. "We found Alvaro though we couldn't catch him. We did, however-"
"Don't tell me you froze it, Gray!" Lucy said, her brown eyes pleading, and for a second there Gray wondered if she was referring to the stone or the chair.
"I was trying to tell you that we got the stone." Erza continued after being interrupted by Lucy's outburst. "Alvaro had activated it in an attempt to stop us. Apparently, it's called the Koppa Stone and once activated it will explode and cause major destruction. The only way to stop it is to freeze it in permanent ice, so that's what Gray did."
Their reactions were anything but expected.
Lucy shook her head and facepalmed and considering that was her reaction every time Natsu did something stupid, it made Gray begin to doubt their decision. He could practically see the words "bad choice" written all over the glare Natsu was giving them, while Happy just went with the verbal approach.
"You guys were fooled, big time."
Fooled, huh? Well, considering the discrepancy Gray had noticed in Alvaro's behaviour, he didn't have such a hard time believing that. Erza, however, wasn't buying it that quickly.
"Fooled? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Alvaro lied to you guys." Lucy said. "The Koppa Stone wasn't an explosive, it was an indestructible stone created to counteract the Eliftis Spell. The only way to stop it is to freeze it in permanent ice and Alvaro tricked Gray into doing that."
I knew I shouldn't have been so quick to freezing that thing. Gray thought. No wonder Alvaro suddenly changed his mind, it had been a trap all along. He should've known. Now the stone was frozen, unable to reverse the Eliftis Spell, and it was all his fault.
"This means Alvaro and Korpus must have something to do with the Eliftis." Erza said.
"Wait, who's Korpus?" Lucy asked, unfamiliar with the name.
"Alvaro mentioned there being another guy with him named Korpus." Gray said, purposely not mentioning the whole hypothermia incident. It didn't seem to be of any importance at the moment.
Natsu grinned at Lucy. "See, I told you there was someone else."
"I never denied that." Lucy said, holding her hands up in defense. "I just said we lost him."
"Yeah, right. I knew you didn't believe me."
"What? That's not-"
"That's enough, Natsu and Lucy." Erza interrupted. "I think we need to go tell the master about all of this and then maybe the Magic Council."
"The Magic Council?" Gray asked, appalled at the idea of leaving such a crises in their incapable hands. "What are they gonna do about this?"
"I think Erza has a point, Gray." Lucy said. "We barely know how this spell even works and it's threatening the whole world. It just seems a bit out of our league if you ask me."
Gray shook his head. "Even so, I don't think we should just walk away from it. We can at least try and figure out what we can about all this."
He didn't want to just leave this to the authorities. In a way, Gray almost felt a sense of responsibility for it. It wasn't because he was an ice mage and he doubted it was because he froze the Koppa Stone, but something made him want to deal with the Eliftis Spell himself. After all, it couldn't have just been a mere coincidence that they wound up taking the job that had a connection to the Eliftis Spell.
"How about this?" Erza suggested. "Let's tell the master everything we've found out, as he does have the right to know about what we're up to. We'll let him decide if we should notify the Magic Council, and from there we'll continue with our own investigation."
Figuring there wasn't much to argue with in her proposal, Gray agreed with Erza. The others agreed too and began to make their way back to their guildhall in Magnolia.
At the Magic Council's headquarters in Era, Chairman Gran Doma had called for an emergency meeting about the sudden change of weather Fiore, and apparently the rest of the world, was experiencing.
"I'm sure you're all aware of the severity of this situation." The chairman began. "Assuming we are correct in our theory of this being the result of someone casting the forbidden Eliftis Spell, that leaves us with only two options on how to stop it."
"I don't think one of those options is an option anymore." The councilman in the third seat said.
Another councilman seemed to agree. "The reason its been so long since the council had to deal with this was because the Koppa Stone had always activated and stopped the Eliftis before the process was complete. This time, however, the stone doesn't seem to be working. If it was, it would have already removed the spell."
"Do you think someone froze the Koppa Stone?" The chairman asked.
"Someone must have."
"It is the only way to stop it."
"But how? It's not possible for the caster of the Eliftis to freeze the Koppa Stone."
"Maybe they got someone unaffiliated to do it."
"Or maybe it was already frozen."
Realizing the debate was pointless, the chairman cleared his throat in an attempt to quiet the council. "The Koppa Stone has obviously been frozen, by whom doesn't really make a difference right now. There's no way to undo it, as the damage has already been done. We'll just have to use a different method to counteract this spell."
"There's only one other way to stop this." One pessimistic councilman said. "And there's no way it's going to work. That's why the Koppa Stone was created in the first place."
"The only other way to stop the Eliftis is for the caster to reverse it himself."
"And how are we supposed to find the caster? There are thousands of ice mages out there, it's not like we can investigate each one."
"Perhaps we can."
The chairman turned to the councilman who had just spoken. "How?"
"By using the Invenium. It can identify if someone is the caster."
"We'd have to use it on every ice mage out there, though. And I highly doubt the actual caster will come willingly, in fact once they hear about this, I'm sure they'll figure out a way around it."
"Not if we keep this all secret."
The chairman narrowed his eyes at the councilman who suggested the idea. "What do you mean?"
"We arrest all ice mages."
"We can't just lock up innocent people!"
"They're suspects and once they're clear, we can let them free."
"There are too many to arrest all at once."
"We can do one location at a time." The chairman suggested, beginning to agree with the proposal. "The Northern Continent has the greatest concentration of ice mages. The chances of the caster being there are also quite high considering that's where the Eliftis originated from and people there probably have more knowledge of it. If we can't find him there we'll keep searching other areas."
"Are you saying you're agreeing with this, Chairman?"
"Right now, I'm afraid this is our only option." The chairman replied. "If the caster doesn't reverse the spell himself, we'll just have to make him do it ourselves."
"I can't believe you're going along with this. This idea is ridiculous."
"When we do find the caster, our biggest priority is to keep him alive." One councilman warned.
"That's right. If he dies, the spell lasts forever."
"I don't think we're dealing with just one caster." Another councilman suggested. "To cast the Eliftis spell on such a large area such as the whole world, one would need an immense amount of power. It's simply impossible, as the energy needed to maintain the spell will eventually weaken the caster and drain them of all their magic power and physical energy until they die."
"So you think there are multiple casters?"
"It would surprise me if there wasn't."
"But doesn't the Eliftis Spell increase an ice mage's power to a point where one can take down something like a demon with just one blow?"
"That's if they can learn to control their power. With the Eliftis Spell, they even have the potential to reverse permanent spells that had already been cast."
"While that's true, it's incredibly risky to take on the role of caster by oneself. Even if they can control their power, it's still difficult to maintain."
"Then that settles it." The chairman said, concluding the meeting. "We begin by arresting every possible ice mage in the Northern Continent and using the Invenium to identify if they're apart of the casting. We have to try and keep this operation as quiet as possible. Meeting adjourned."
I think the council just likes to be over the top with their plans...
So what do you all think about this new turn of events? Will Gray end up getting arrested? He should be safe though, it's not like he cast the spell, right?
Well, you'll just have to wait and see :D
Thanks for reading, hope this was enjoyable. Comments are always appreciated and they make my day :D
Have a lovely weekend and see you all next week!
Chapter 12: Ice-Make: War
"No, he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. This was his war and he was going to fight it."
Lucy enjoyed many things, however, some were just meant to be enjoyed from a distance.
Winter was one of them.
Lucy felt content by just watching the perfectly crafted snowflakes fall from the sky. She didn't need to feel them melt into her clothes and hair. The celestial spirit mage was just fine with looking through the window as the frost began to form and clouded her view. She didn't need to feel the cold air wisp past her and freeze her exposed skin. Lucy was quite mesmerized by just gazing at the glimmering icicles hanging from the snow covered gutters. She didn't need to physically touch their icy exteriors.
Admiring the snowy season from afar was a lot easier said than done though, which was why Lucy was extremely grateful that the torturous weather masked by that beautiful disguise only appeared once a year and just for a few months at the most. This year, however, seemed to be different and Lucy wasn't in any way happy about it.
Someone wanted winter to have more screen time even if it meant throwing the rest of the seasons into extinction.
"Master," Erza said, concluding her relay of everything that had happened. "we're leaving the decision of our next move up to you."
"The Magic Council is already aware of the Eliftis Spell." Makarov began, though the information didn't come as much of a surprise for Lucy. Their knowledge of different spells ranged far and wide and this one was no exception. "From what I've heard, the council already has a plan for reversing the spell and they have asked for the guilds to stay out of it and let them handle it on their own."
Gray narrowed his eyes. "What are they going to do about it? The Koppa Stone is useless now and their only other option is for the caster himself to reverse the spell. He already went through the trouble to cast this damn thing, so I don't see him being all that enthusiastic about lifting it."
"I don't know." The Master admitted. "They said it would be more effective if they kept everything quiet."
"I don't buy it. Why should they have to hide it, anyway?" Gray muttered, turning his gaze towards the window. Lucy followed, her eyes falling upon the ongoing blizzard outside that had somehow dumped a week's worth of snow onto Magnolia in just two days.
"Who cares about what the council says." Natsu said. "I say we fight those cold loving bastards."
Erza shook her head. "If the council doesn't want us involved then we should just leave it to them. We did what we could, but this is obviously not something we can handle ourselves."
Lucy's eyes were still glued to the window, as were Gray's. He looked like he wanted to protest against Erza's judgement, but for some reason kept quiet.
"I think Erza is right, Natsu." Makarov said, agreeing with requip mage. "We should leave this up to the Magic Council."
Lucy would have laughed at the comical pout on Natsu's face, but she was a little preoccupied worrying about the ice mage glaring out the window. She knew this whole Eliftis spell was bothering him more than anyone and she wished there was something she could do to help. She hated him right now for being so stubbornly reserved about everything. She just wanted to help her friend, but he was making it really hard by bottling up his feelings like that. Couldn't he just unscrew the cap already?
"I'm leaving." Gray said suddenly, stepping away from the window.
The Master frowned. "Gray?"
Lucy held her breath as Gray stopped in his tracks. He didn't say anything or turn around, so Makarov continued.
"Just let the Magic Council handle this."
The ice mage didn't respond. Lucy stared after him worryingly as he left the guildhall. She knew Gray wasn't one to jump into a battle he couldn't win, yet she was worried about him. She just hoped he would listen to the Master's words this time, for his own sake.
Gray just ran. He didn't know where and he didn't know why, but he just ran. He had to get away from all of it, yet everywhere he turned he was reminded of his unfavourable predicament.
Trudging through piles of thick snow had never bothered him before, but now it was just another obstacle blocking his escape. The perfectly white backdrop he had been wanting all summer now just revolted him. Ironic how he was now hoping, praying for the trees and the grass to turn green again. For the flowers to bloom and dot the landscape with their vibrant colors. For the sky to clear and return to its bright blue. He even prayed for the sun to beat back down on him again.
He never thought he'd think this, but the cold was really starting to bother him.
Just a bit, though.
How could they just leave this mess to the Magic Council? How could he just leave it and ignore the fact that he had any connection to it. He was half responsible for it, wasn't he? He was the one who had froze the Koppa Stone. He destroyed their only weapon! He had been careless and reckless. Why hadn't he checked first? How could he have just believed what Alvaro had said?
Because Erza had been in trouble.
Caring about one's comrades was a trait to be admired, but right now Gray was blind to that perspective. Alvaro must have known that something else needed to be at stake for Gray to immediately believe his lie without a second thought. Erza had been on the verge of death. That was more than enough for Gray to just take the easier route and trust in Alvaro's claim so he could save his teammate.
I screwed everything up, didn't I? Gray thought, panting as he halted his mindless running.
He had wound up at the outskirts of Magnolia, just at the entrace to the forest. Calling it a forest though felt a bit off and Gray had to turn around towards the snow covered buildings rising from the town to remind himself that he wasn't in some frozen wasteland.
It almost reminded him of his childhood spent in Isvan. He didn't want to remember it, but the resemblance to his native landscape was difficult to overlook. The memories just started coming on their own. He could see them so clearly, as if they were happening right in front of him.
He could see his past self, so ignorant and reckless, just trying to learn enough to take down a demon. How stupid he was back then. He would give anything to go back and change all that.
Well, almost anything.
He could see Lyon too. He wondered how he was handling all this. Had he remembered what Ur had told them about the Eliftis Spell? If he did, Gray was sure he had put two and two together. He would never say it to his face, or to anyone's face for that matter, but his former peer wasn't entirely stupid. If they were to team up on this case, Gray had no doubt they could take down whoever had casted the spell.
But even during these dire times, Gray was still too stubborn to ask Ur's other student for help.
Gray sighed as he leaned against a snow covered tree at the edge of the forest. The memories were beginning to fade, but one still stood out. His master's voice was so clear in his mind that when he closed his eyes, he could have sworn she was right next to him, saying those very words.
"There's a reason it's forbidden," He could hear her say. "and if you ever catch anyone trying to cast it, you must stop them."
He had disobeyed Ur many times with one even costing her life. He remembered what he had told her when he begged for her not to leave him. He had said he would listen to her, do everything she told him to. Now that she was dead he didn't have that many opportunities to prove that to her, so he couldn't just let this one go.
He had the chance now to make it up to her, to obey her orders. She had warned them about the Eliftis Spell because she wanted them to be able to stop it. How could he then go and leave it to the Magic Council?
No, he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. This was his war and he was going to fight it.
For his master.
Gray jumped at the sudden voice, its presence cutting through his inner monologue with one swipe of a knife. It was hard to make out anything in the blur of white clouding his view, but that black coat was hard to misidentify.
"You, again." He said, silently accusing her of being one of the causes for his endless troubling thoughts. "What do you want?"
Lena slowly began to approach him, her boots trudging through the heavy snow. "I want to help you, Gray."
He caught a hint of helplessness in her voice, but he chose to ignore it. She was still a mystery to him and thus couldn't be automatically trusted. He was still kind of creeped out by her knowing his name. It couldn't hurt to be cautious.
"Help me with what?" He asked, gritting his teeth. For all he knew, she could have been the sweetest girl in all of Earthland, but right now, he had far too many unanswered questions about her to even consider that. "And how do you know who I am?"
Lena was standing next to him now, those intriguing blue eyes of hers staring into his once again. They were like oceans full of all the answers he seeked, but they were so vast he didn't even know where to start looking.
"I need to show you something." She said, gesturing for him to follow her into the forest. "I promise everything will be explained."
"You never answered my first question, or the second."
"Please, Gray." Lena said, her voice pleading. "I told you, all will be explained soon."
He stared at her, just looked into her eyes real hard. Here he was with some unknown girl who seemed to somehow know him begging for him to go with her. He didn't even know whether she was an enemy or an ally. Was he dreaming? He hoped he was dreaming. If only he would wake up already.
"Give me one good reason for why I should go with you."
"You want to reverse the Eliftis Spell, don't you?" He didn't say anything, but he figured she already knew the answer anyway. "I want to help you do that."
She didn't seem dangerous, and in all honestly her desire to help him sounded quite genuine. He hadn't seen how strong she was magic-wise, but she couldn't be that much more powerful than him. Even if she did turn out to be a threat, which he highly doubted, Gray wasn't too worried about not being able to fight her off. Call him stuck up, but he had confidence in his skills.
"Fine." He said, stepping away from the tree he had been leaning against. "Lead the way."
Lena nodded and quickly turned towards the forest. Gray followed though he kept his distance a few steps behind her. The walk through the snowy forest was quiet and Gray debated if he should try interrogating her then. Perhaps she would give him some answers.
"So, now that you have me going with you, maybe you can enlighten me on how you know who I am?"
Lena stopped and turned to face him. "I told you, Gray. I'll answer everything soon. I want to help you."
You're saying that a lot, Gray thought as Lena turned back around and continued the trek to their unknown destination. but you don't seem to be doing anything.
They walked the rest of the way in silence. Every so often, Gray would try to get some piece of information out of her, but she refused on each attempt. She was either hiding something, or she just got a kick out of keeping him in the dark for no reason. As much as he hated the idea of it being the latter, it was the more favorable situation of the two.
They were already deep into the forest when Lena suddenly stopped. She didn't turn around, but Gray figured they had reached their destination. Looking around, he could only see a bunch of snow covered trees and some more snow covered trees. There was nothing there that stood out, so what was here that she needed to show him?
"So, is this the place?"
"Yes." Her back was still towards him.
"Okay, then what am I supposed to be looking at?"
He could sense her hesitate. "I'm sorry, Gray."
"Sorry for what?"
Lena then turned around and Gray was shocked to see tears falling from her sharp blue eyes. "I want to help you. I really do."
He wanted to ask her what she was talking about, but before he could even open his mouth someone attacked him from behind, knocking him out. He could feel his eyes closing as they caught one more look of Lena, tears streaming down her face. Their white surroundings started to disappear as darkness overcame him until all he could see was black.
"I want to help you, but I can't."
Cliffhanger! Again. Sorry, but I like doing that :D
Thanks for reading and comments are appreciated.
Chapter 13: Ice-Make: Reverse
"...I can't reverse what happened. What's done is done. There are no second chances."
If there was one thing Gray hated about being a mage, it was the endless blows to the head resulting in unconsciousness, only to later wake up in an unfamiliar place and with an inability to remember how you got to said place.
Every situation was different but more often than not, he'd always end up in some variant of a cell. Gray had seen them all, though there were only so many ways a cell could be designed. The one he was in now had no windows, surprisingly atypical for most cells. Its lack of an opening to the outside was probably why it was so dark in there. There was no light fixture and the cell was sealed by a bolted, iron door. However, despite the bolts, it didn't look too impenetrable. If his hands hadn't been cuffed, he could have easily used his magic to take it down.
Gray sighed and looked down at the cold, stone floor he was sitting on. It didn't bother him, but with the overdose of winter Earthland had just recieved, Gray was really craving some warmth at the moment. Of course, he'd never tell anyone that. It didn't matter that in reality ice mages didn't live off the cold, he had his pride to uphold here.
Now that he had observed his surroundings (not that it gave him any clues about where he was), he could move onto the second step in the sequence of events following this method of capture: trying to remember how he got there. He knew it would come to him eventually, but there was always this persistent urge to recollect everything at that very moment. It was why Gray loathed this kind of attack. If they wanted to capture him, then fine, but couldn't they do it while he was awake? It would probably make it a lot more difficult, but kidnapping wasn't meant to be easy, now was it?
There had been a girl, and a forest maybe? It was after he had left the guildhall, outraged by the master's decision to leave everything to the Magic Council. How could he agree to that? The Magic Council was incompetent, everyone knew that. And besides, this was his chance to finally do something right. He had failed to listen to Ur all those years ago, but while the past was unchangeable, the future was not.
He was going to stop the Eliftis himself, just as soon as he got out of this cell.
"Find anything yet?"
The operator of the Invenium turned to face the chairman of the Magic Council, Gran Doma. "No, sir. So far, everyone I've screened is clear."
Gran Doma stayed silent as the operator turned back around to screen the next incarcerated ice mage. The chairman watched as the cuffed mage willingly stepped up to be investigated, seemingly unbothered by the fact that he had been arrested by the Magic Council. As an ice mage though, he probably knew what was going on and realizing finding the caster was one of the only ways to stop the spell, he was compliant in offering his cooperation.
The screening took only a few seconds and as the Invenium turned an innocent blue, the suspected mage was freed from his restraints and allowed to leave. While this was all good in the long run, Gran Doma couldn't help but be disappointed with the results. They were almost finished checking all the ice mages in the Northern Continent, and time was running out. If they couldn't find the caster within the next few days, they would have to bring their search over to the West. Doing that would take more time, time that the world didn't have.
He must have fallen asleep at some point but when he woke up, he was still in that dark, old cell. Gray had no idea how much time had passed, but he was starting to get his memory back now. He remembered the forest and meeting Lena there, and how she had tricked him into following her.
What an idiot he was. He was so desperate to stop the Eliftis that he had followed some girl he knew nothing about all because she said she could help.
Yet she never said how.
Instead she had led him to his captivity. Who was she working for anyway and what did they want with him? Gray slightly remember Lena saying something to him before he blacked out, but he couldn't remember what it was. Something about her being sorry, maybe?
Before he could recollect what had happened though, Gray heard footsteps coming from behind the door. He sat silently as the footsteps neared, eventually stopping in front of the door. The bolts then started to turn and the door began to unlock, eventually opening to reveal a dark cloaked man.
"Why am I here?" Gray demanded as the cloaked figure stood in the doorway. "Who are you and what do you want?"
His captor entered the cell, closing the door behind him. "You're the prisoner, boy. I believe I'm supposed to be posing the questions."
Gray couldn't argue with that, so he remained quiet and let his captor speak. After all, this was his first human interaction since he had been locked in this cell, so he didn't want to screw this up opportunity to get some answers.
"Gray Fullbuster, I've been waiting to get my hands on you for quite some time now." He said, removing his hood. "My name is Pelphides by the way, and I apologize for taking you like this, but I hope you can understand that it was the only way."
"The only way for what?"
Gray waited as his captor carefully thought of his words. "The only way for me to convince you that I'm not your enemy?"
Gray smirked. "It's gonna take a lot to convince me that the guy who locked me in a cell isn't my enemy."
"We'll see." He then reached into his cloak and pulled out an all too familiar red stone encased in ice. "I believe this was your doing, am I right?"
Gray glared at him, annoyed that Pelphides had reminded him of that regretful mistake. If he knew about that then he probably had something to do with the Eliftis Spell.
"Well, I just wanted to thank you. As I'm the caster of the Eliftis Spell, I obviously couldn't do it myself so I'm grateful for your help."
"Lift the spell!" Gray shouted, trying to free himself from the restraints on his wrists. He knew it was no use, but he couldn't just sit there when the caster was standing right there laughing at him.
"Or what? It's not like you can do anything with those handcuffs on."
So Lena had known something about the Eliftis Spell after all. Something pretty important too. "Why are you doing this? And how does this not make you my enemy?"
"The Eliftis Spell isn't necessarily evil." Pelphides said, turning the frozen stone around in his hands. "I'm not trying to take over the world or anything. Has it ever occurred to you that I'm using the spell for something good?"
No, it hadn't. Amd honestly, he still wasn't buying it. "And what is this good thing you plan on doing with it? Aside from throwing the world into an eternal winter."
"Ever hear of the Konungaris Legion?"
He had, but decided not to say anything. "No."
"It's a guild from Isvan of which I'm a member of." Pelphides explained, placing the Koppa Stone back into his cloak. "Lena belongs to it too. Two years ago, a dark mage cast a spell on most of the guild's members, permanently freezing them. The spell is irreversible, unless you have the power of the Eliftis."
The Eliftis had the power to reverse that spell? Was it universal for all spells? A much hated memory edged its way to the front of his mind, and Gray didn't have the strength to push it back. He remembered that day all too clearly, the day he caused the death of his master through an irreversible spell.
Gray shook his head, trying to stop the intrusive thoughts. What am I thinking? Even if it can reverse any spell, that doesn't justify its use. And besides, I can't reverse what happened. What's done is done. There are no second chances.
"You seem surprised." Pelphides said. "Did you not know that about the Eliftis Spell?"
No, he didn't. But should he lie and tell him he did? "Of course I knew that. I'm just surprised that you would actually try to use the Eliftis Spell, and thus turn the entire world into an ice age, all to get your guildmates back."
"Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same."
"I wouldn't." Gray said, though unsure if he really meant it. "At least not by those means. I'd find another way. There's always another way."
"You think so?" Pelphides asked. "Well, I've looked for other ways, but there aren't any. The Eliftis was a last resort. Trust me, I wouldn't have done this to Earthland if there had been another way."
Should he trust him? Was he telling the truth? He wanted to believe it. It was better than some other reasons to use the Eliftis Spell. Maybe he was telling the truth. If that was the case though, then why hadn't he reversed the spell yet and lifted the Eliftis?
That whole spell thing caught his interest though. Did it really work? And if so, how? All those questions made him worry though. I'm not using it for anything. Gray assured himself. Just curious about how it works.
"It's been almost a week now." Gray pointed out. "Why haven't you unfrozen your guildmates yet and return Earthland back to normal?"
"Good observation." Pelphides said, grinning. "You see, I'm not powerful enough yet. I have to still absorb some of the magic energy from the Eliftis until I gain enough power to reverse the spell."
"So you need enough power to reverse a spell. Anything else?" The question had come out so fast, Gray barely had any time to process what he had just asked.
"There's a few other conditions for it to work." Pelphides replied, and if Gray hadn't been too focused on learning the requirements for the reverse spell, he might have noticed the amused look on Pelphides' face. "You have to be a witness of the original spell. You need to reverse it in the place it was cast. And the spell takes a few days for it to reverse. Why do you want to know?"
"No reason." Gray said quickly. "No reason at all. Just curious."
"Alright...Well, anyway, that's why Earthland needs to stay frozen for a bit longer."
He could meet all the conditions. He had already begun to gain power, that much was obvious from his recent magic outbursts. He had been a witness, he remembered where it was done, and he could wait a few days. After all, what was a few days after it had already been years?
What am I doing? I can't bring her back. I won't!
"I'm telling you all this, Gray, because I need you to be on my side here." Pelphides explained. "I figured you would understand the most, considering what you've experienced, and I'm hoping you'll agree to work with me."
Wait, did he know about that? No, there was no way. He was probably just making stuff up to persuade him. "I don't know. I'd have to lead my guild astray, and I don't think I'm willing to do that for you."
"Gray, please, hear me out." Pelphides said. "There's so many things you can do with the power of the Eliftis. If you help me to keep your guild out of our business for just a bit longer, you can have some the benefits of this spell for yourself. I'm using the Eliftis for a good cause, but what's wrong with taking advantage of it while we wait?"
"I don't think so..." It's not like I need him to reverse any spells for me. After all, I was the witness.
"You can't be serious, Gray. Surely, there's something you want to do with all this power?"
Gray shook his head. But I'm not gonna do it. I can't.
"Oh, well I also forgot to mention that only the caster of the Eliftis Spell can utilize its power to its full capacity. Without the power of thec caster, no spell reversals can be done."
That's okay. Gray assured himself. I didn't want to reverse a spell anyway. Betraying Fairy Tail to have the power to undo a mistake that shouldn't be fixed isn't worth it.
"Join me, Gray, and I'll share the power of the caster with you."
But maybe it is...
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed! Feedback is always appreciated.
Chapter 14: Ice-Make: Betrayal
"This wouldn't be a betrayal to his master but as he caught Natsu glaring at him, he realized it would be a betrayal to his guild."
It was only a week since Gray learned the truth behind the casting of the Eliftis spell, but it felt like months. Every minute he had to sit in that guildhall with the snow falling incessantly outside and his friends pondering over the strange weather phenomenon was killing him. He wanted to refute their ridiculous fabrications so badly, to say their guesses were completely wrong, to just give them the honest truth. The urge to enlighten the guild was deafening, like his guildmark was pounding on his chest urging him to just spit it out.
No, it was forcing him. Forcing him to tell his friends, his teammates, his guildmates, his family.
But he couldn't.
Back in Pelphides' "prison," Gray had told him he would try and buy him some time. Apparently, a spell reversal required a lot of magic power, more than the immediate power surplus that came along with initial onset of the Eliftis. That was a shock to Gray, as Pelphides also told him the Eliftis was so powerful that at the moment, he alone did not have the power to cast it. Instead, it was a joint casting between him and the four remaining members of the Konungaris Legion.
But obviously he only told Pelphides that to lead him astray. While his motives weren't inherently evil, Gray didn't fully agree that his methods were right. What he did was selfish, even if it was for someone else. Surely he didn't have to freeze the entire world just to reverse one spell. There had to be another way.
The Eliftis has to be lifted and I have the information to do that. He couldn't let the Konungaris Legion get away with this. It just wasn't right. Then why can't I tell them the truth?
"Hey, ice princess! Want to take a job with us?"
Not now, Natsu! I'm in middle of having an internal conflict. "Sure, we haven't done that in a while."
"That's probably because there aren't many options to choose from." Lucy complained as she stood by the nearly empty mission board. The unexpected winter was slowing down business, and on top of that, the snow made it a lot more difficult to travel to the few job requests that they did have.
"How about this one?" Erza suggested, pointing to one on the board. "It might take a day or two to get there with all the train delays due to the weather, but it's something."
Please someone say no. I can't take a job right now.
"Two days of motion sickness for that little pay?!" Thank God for Natsu. "I don't think I can do that."
Lucy frowned. "Yeah, I think Natsu is right. It's just not worth it."
Now was his change to support the opposition without feeling guilty. "I have to agree with the rest of the team here, Erza. It is a bit much."
"I guess you guys are right." Erza said, much to Gray's satisfaction. "I know the Magic Council is dealing with this whole Eliftis spell, but I don't know how much longer we can live with this."
It sure was hard to keep his mind off his Eliftis dilemma when it was all people talked about. He couldn't blame them though because like Erza said, it was really effecting their daily lives and not in a good way. He had no idea what the Magic Council was planning, but whatever it was he was sure it wouldn't be enough. However, if he told them about Pelphides and the Konungaris Legion then they might be able to pull it off.
But on second thought, he'd rather keep quiet. What if the Magic Council wouldn't understand their intentions? They were only trying to undo a spell to save their friends, Gray could relate to that. The Eliftis gave them the power to do that, to change what had happened, so they couldn't pass that up. Though, if he were given the chance to undo the past, would he take it?
"I still think we should take some action ourselves." Natsu said, slamming his hand on the table for emphasis. "The Magic Council isn't gonna take care of it."
Lucy sighed. "But Makarov told us to lay low. Whatever the Council is planning requires us to stay out of it."
Gray couldn't let them have this discussion. "Lucy's right, Natsu. For once, why don't we just let someone else do the dirty work."
"What? You're agreeing to this?" Natsu asked. Gray didn't miss the betrayed look on his face. "You hate the Council too. You didn't want them involved before."
"I guess I changed my mind."
It wasn't a complete lie. He still wanted to deal with it without the Magic Council, but also without the rest of his team. He couldn't let them start investigating and he definitely couldn't tell them what he knew. If they found out about the Konungaris Legion, they would make them lift the spell immediately. They were just trying to save those they cared about and even though it went against Gray's whole philosophy of keeping the past in the past, he couldn't help but empathize with them.
He found it was starting to change his view on the matter. This Eliftis spell, as bad as it was, it gave them the chance to do that. They could reverse time and undo one's wrongs. He couldn't let the Magic Council stop it yet. He couldn't let Fairy Tail stop it.
He had to go to Isvan. That's where the frozen members of the Konungaris Legion were and he had to be there to make sure the reversal happened. Afterwards, he could order the Eliftis spell to be lifted. That's all Pelphides wanted from him, to buy them some time for their power to accumulate enough so they could undo the spell.
It wasn't going against Ur's wishes because it wasn't what she had been afraid of. She had warned him and Lyon of power hungry mages looking to live off of the immense magic power the Eliftis spell gave to ice mages. No, this wasn't what she was worried about at all and besides, he was still going to get rid of it.
This wouldn't be a betrayal to his master but as he caught Natsu glaring at him, he realized it would be a betrayal to his guild.
"What about you, Erza?" The dragonslayer asked, his anger at Gray still evident. "You think we should leave this to the incapable council too?"
Gray could usually trust Erza to make morally right decisions, especially when it was regarding the authorities, but life was always full of surprises.
"Actually Natsu, I think we should start our own investigation."
"What?" Lucy said, expressing Gray's thoughts exactly. "But the master said we should leave it to them. We can't just go against his and the Council's orders."
"Normally, I'd agree with you, Lucy." Erza explained. "But I've been having second thoughts about this and I really think that a crisis as big as this requires more than what the Magic Council can provide. As members of Fairy Tail, I think we have a responsibility to do everything we can to fix this and besides, when has the Council really solved anything on their own anyway?"
Of all times, now she had to discover her rebellious side? He couldn't let them do this. He had to say something before they ruined his plans.
"I know who cast the spell."
They looked at him incredulously, shock written all over their bewildered faces. Internally, he smiled. They had no reason not to trust him, they would believe everything he said. He could control their every move, allowing him to buy some time for Pelphides so the reversal could happen.
"We have to get to Isvan as soon as possible." Gray continued, despite his teammates still registering their shock. "I'll explain everything on the way. I should have told you guys sooner, but honestly I was still trying to process it all myself."
Again, it wasn't a total lie. He was doing the right thing. The world could deal with the cold for a bit longer just until the Konungaris Legion had enough power to reverse the spell. After that, he'd make them lift the Eliftis and all would go back to normal.
All he was doing was saving some innocent people from a past wrongdoing. If anyone could relate to that, it was him. The more he thought about it, the more it all made sense.
Perhaps the past wasn't frozen in time and maybe this Eliftis spell was just a way to thaw out the ice that had been misformed, creating an opportunity to form it again the right way.
Sorry for the delay-
I hope you're all slowly starting to catch on to the overall theme of this and the reasoning behind the story and chapter titles. I kind of hinted to it more with that last line :)
And if you're getting a negative character arc vibe then you're not imagining it! I'm currently obsessed with these archetypes and that's kind of how I got the inspiration for this fanfic idea. You can attribute this obsession to animes like Death Note and Code Geass (and if you haven't seen the latter, stop reading this and go watch it right now! You are seriously missing out like on the greatest anime of all time, at least in my opinion).
I'm gonna stop rambling now because I hate writing long author's notes, but leave a comment if you want to make my day ;)
Chapter 15: Ice-Make: Trust
"They'd trust me with their lives. They have no reason to doubt my words."
"Fairy Tail is on your trail."
The ice mage in front of him didn't look the least bit concerned as he spoke those words, leaving Pelphides to wonder if Gray had betrayed him.
"You told me you would buy us time."
"And I will." The ice mage folded his arms and leaned back against the stone walls of the forest hideaway. "I have a plan that will get them off your tail, but I'm going to need your help."
Pelphides glanced over at Lena hovering in the corner. Her blue eyes rose to meet his gaze, silently pleading him to hear Gray out.
She still has hope in him. The thought amused him and if Gray hadn't been in the room, he would have laughed. She still believes he'll do the right thing.
"Good." As the ice mage began to relate his plan, Lena gave him a small smile. The action only strengthened Pelphides' urge to laugh at the girl's naivety. "I'm taking them with me to Isvan-"
Good, you'll be right where I need you. "You're going to Isvan?"
"Yeah, how else can I be sure the spell reversal worked? I also have to make sure you lift the Eliftis when all this is done."
"Do you not trust us, Gray?" He asked, expressing his fake disbelief. Lena looked away as he did so. The girl never was a good liar. "I told you, we just want to save our friends. Unfortunately, the Eliftis spell is the only way. Once we reverse the freezing spell our guildmates are under, we will lift the Eliftis. I can promise you that."
"Whether I trust you or not doesn't matter, I'll be there either way. Otherwise, our deal is off."
How he hated taking orders from one of Ur's disciples. Though, on the flipside, Gray was the key to getting what he wanted. For that reason and that reason alone, Pelphides figured he could endure it.
"Very well, then. What would you have me do?"
The Fairy Tail mage didn't answer right away. He was hesitant about something, that was for sure. Was he reconsidering their arrangement? Pelphides couldn't have that, he needed Gray to be completely on board with the Konungaris Legion.
"I'm going to tell them your guild cast the spell. I will then lead them to your frozen guildmates and that's where you'll come in." The ice mage paused in his explanation. Pelphides got the feeling he still wasn't one hundred percent sure about this. "I need you to pretend you froze them after finding out they were the culprits, and you were unaware that they were needed alive to break the spell."
So that's why he was so hesitant to go forward with it. He was betraying his guild, leading them to think that lifting the Eliftis was hopeless.
He can't just be doing this for me, er, us. He wants in on the Eliftis' power, I know he does.
Even if he doesn't know it himself yet.
"And you think this will work? They'll believe you?"
A smug smile adorned the ice mage's face. "They'd trust me with their lives. They have no reason to doubt my words."
Oh, how far you've fallen. How I wish your master could see you know.
"So, will you do it?"
Oh, Gray, you have no idea what you're walking into.
"Of course. Anything to get our guild back."
Natsu wasn't completely oblivious to other people and their feelings. He saw the signs, heard their tone of voice. He knew when his friends were in distress.
So when Gray suddenly changed his mind about the whole Eliftis thing, Natsu knew something was up.
Despite all their fights and disagreements, Gray was his best friend. He knew exactly how to rile him up, what angered him and what softened him, his likes and dislikes. This whole crisis they were facing was an absolute dislike and being ordered to stay out of it by the Magic Council was guaranteed to trigger Gray's resentment.
So why didn't it?
Natsu swapped the frown on his face for a smile as Lucy approached him and Happy. "Hey, Lucy! Sure you packed enough stuff?"
Lucy dropped her two suitcases onto the snow covered platform. "For your information, I packed very lightly for a trip that could very well take a week in normal weather. Just think of how long it could take now with all these delays."
"We're gonna be on that train for over a week?!" Natsu looked over at the snow covered tracks. Why hadn't he thought this through?
"I don't think Natsu will make it."
"Shut up, Happy!" Oh, he was so going to make it. He had to.
"Are you sure, Natsu? I think everyone will understand if you don't want to go."
Of course he wanted to go. If Gray was right about this, then this could be their chance to lift the Eliftis and return summer to Earthland. He couldn't miss out on that.
"Lucy, I'll be fine."
"If you say so."
Natsu spotted Erza trudging towards them, dragging her trademark oversized luggage behind her. He looked over at the small bag swung over his shoulder and wondered whether he should reconsider his packing list.
"Oh, good, you three are already here." Erza said, releasing her hold on her luggage. She raised an eyebrow as she caught sight of Natsu's single pack. "You really should have packed more, Natsu. This trip will be a long one."
"Nah, I've got what I need." He really just wanted to board the train already and get this dreaded ride over with. They couldn't do that though because someone was missing. "What's taking Gray so long?"
Erza shrugged and looked around the train station. "I don't know, but you'd think he'd be here on time after he made this trip sound so urgent."
"Yeah, speaking of which," Lucy said. "what do you think Gray knows? And why didn't he tell us right away?"
"He said he knows who the caster is." Happy said.
Erza nodded. "Right, but I wonder how he knows."
Natsu sighed and looked around the train station again. Still no sign of the ice mage, though, it was getting hard to see with all the falling snow blurring his vision.
He just wanted some answers already. This wasn't like Gray, he didn't leave things like this for other people to take care of and he certainly didn't hide information from his friends. Gray said he would explain it all to them, but Natsu knew there was something he wasn't telling them. The ice mage hid things from them all the time, so it was quite obvious.
But whatever the case, the dragonslayer knew they could trust him. Gray would never betray Fairy Tail, Natsu could swear upon that.
He just wished Gray would trust them.
"Hey, there he is!" Happy said, causing Natsu to look up.
Compared to the others, Gray walked easily through the snow. While Natsu and the others were dressed in heavy winter garb, the ice mage simply wore a light jacket. However, despite his seeming comfort in being surrounded by his element, Natsu could see that he was anything but.
"Sorry I'm late. I had to take care of something."
"Don't worry about it. The train won't be here for another fifteen minutes, anyway." Erza said, reading the train schedule. "All the trains are delayed due to the weather."
Natsu crossed his arms and glared at the ice mage. Gray didn't see it though, as he was obviously trying to avoid meeting any of their gazes.
"Well, I suppose I should then fill you guys in on what's going on." Gray suggested. He gave a small laugh to lighten the underlying tension, but it did little to lessen Natsu's suspicion. "I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger back there."
Lucy snorted. "That was way more than a cliffhanger!"
Happy nodded. "Yeah, Gray. You can't just tell us you know who the culprit is and then run away."
"Sorry, my bad." Gray shifted the bag on his shoulders. He still hadn't looked any of them in the eye. "I just had to make sure my facts were right before I gave you any specifics."
Erza nodded her head in understanding. "Well, have you confirmed your information?"
"Yeah, so here it is. The Eliftis wasn't casted by one person, but rather by a whole guild. Well, part of a guild. You see, they're called the Konungaris Legion and they are, or rather they were, a prominent guild in Isvan."
"Hey, wait a minute." Lucy interrupted. "Isn't that the guild that guy we fought back at the museum was a part of?"
"His name was Alvaro." Erza said. "And you said you didn't think they were a dark guild.
Gray nodded. "Yeah, well it turns out I was right. The Konungaris Legion isn't a dark guild. Two years ago, some wizard cast a permanent freezing spell on most of its members. The spell is irreversible unless one has the power of the Eliftis."
"So they're just trying to get their friends back, right?" Happy asked, putting two and two together.
"Exactly." Gray said. "The Eliftis is so powerful that it can reverse any spell. It's power is so great that one of them alone can't cast it, so all the remaining guildmembers are casting it. Once they gain enough power, they'll reverse the spell and then lift the Eliftis."
Natsu believed every word Gray had just said, but he still had one question. "And you know this all, how?"
For the first time, Gray looked Natsu in the eye. "I met one of their members. She told me what they were planning."
Gray shot a quick look at Erza as if she knew something they didn't. "Was it her?"
Before Natsu could ask any questions, Gray nodded and quickly continued. "She said I could go to Isvan to make sure her guild follows through and lifts the spell when the reversal is done. I'll be honest, I'm kind of opposed to what they're doing but considering that they'll be able to reverse it by the time we get there, I say we should just let them see it through."
"They'll still need to be brought before the Magic Council for casting a forbidden spell." Erza said.
Lucy nodded. "Yeah, what they're doing is still wrong."
"I completely agree." Gray said. "We'll have to make sure of that."
Despite finally hearing the truth, Natsu was still curious about Gray's recent behavior. Why did he seem so hesitant to tell them? Was he afraid they wouldn't trust him? Natsu would never admit it, but Gray was one of the only people he trusted with his life. Surely he knew that.
And if not, then maybe this would be an opportunity to show that.
"Here's your reward money, sir. We really appreciate you coming out here in this weather to help us."
Lyon pocketed the jewels and began to trudge through the snow towards the train station. His client hadn't been far from Margaret Town but with the current weather, the trip had taken him almost three hours. Needless to say, he wasn't looking forward to the long ride home.
The small town seemed almost empty as the ice mage passed through. If there was anyone else bearing the cold then Lyon wouldn't have known: the blizzard made it impossible to see in front of him. Normally, Lyon wouldn't mind his impaired vision. He would even marvel at the beauty of the falling snowflakes as the sky painted its white masterpiece.
But despite being surrounded by his element, Lyon couldn't bring himself to marvel. The bare trees, the frozen river, the icicles hanging from the buildings; none of it was natural. Something was going on here and he had a small hunch about what it was.
He could vaguely remember his master lecturing him and Gray about something like this; a spell that could bring on a sudden winter. She had called it the Eliftis spell and made it pretty darn clear that it was to be prevented at all costs.
Had someone cast it? Lyon wondered if Gray remembered it at all. Maybe he should go ask him about it because if this was due to the Eliftis spell, then he and Gray had a responsibility to stop it. It's what their master would have wanted.
"Lyon Vastia, ice mage from Lamia Scale?"
Lyon turned around at the sudden calling of his name. Strange, he hadn't heard anyone coming up behind him. "Yes, that's me. Can I help you?"
Before he knew what was happening, two guards, of whom he recognized to be from the Magic Council, swiftly handcuffed him with magic cuffs.
"Lyon Vastia, you're under arrest for suspicion of being affiliated with the casting of the Eliftis spell."
So I realized that I haven't really focused on Natsu at all yet, so I decided to write that scene over there in his perspective. This whole chapter is really in POV's I haven't done yet.
Thank you all who are still reading this and hopefully enjoying it. Feel free to leave a comment, they're always appreciated.
Have a great week!