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umbra is the darkest part of the shadow - or: the x791 grand magic games

Chapter Text

Zilla Claramond did not spend too much time in the more public part of the Raven Tail building. In fact, whenever she returned from a mission she traveled straight to her private rooms and normally dropped off whatever personal affects she carried with her and made her way straight to Master Ivan’s office. The first part of her normal schedule was what happened today when she returned from Era. Setting the guild up to be an official one rather than dark one was hard work and took a mixture of meetings she hated and blackmail which she also wasn’t a fan of. All because Fairy Tail returned. Well, more important to Master Ivan, that Makarov Dreyar returned.

A sigh escaped her lips as she sat down on her bed. She stretched her arms and back as a yawn escaped her lips. She sent news to Master Ivan earlier that day and he was probably alerted officially from Era as well. She did not need to go to his office just yet. Decision made, she laid down and felt comfortable for the first time in months. It was a long travel and looked forward to being by herself in a place where her skin didn’t crawl.

But she waited before sleeping, however, since her life was never so easy and soon enough; the communication Lacrima in her room lit up and on it she saw Ivan Dreyar.

“Zilla—how nice to see you back and alive. I got the news this morning that Raven Tail was official.” He drawled on.

“Master Ivan, it is good to be back.” She sat up on her bed and looked at him. “I was going to nap before I went to your office.”

“You can nap after—I have some others in here, key players in our move forward.” Ivan told her and Zilla bit back a sigh. She nodded.

“I’ll be right over.” She told him. He vanished from the lacrima and the light dulled. Zilla rubbed at her eyes and picked herself up out of bed. She debated on bringing her sword before she decided to leave it. There was no need to bring with her inside the guild. Her jacket, however, was a needed one. No one needed to see the dark purple marks on her arms.

In almost no time at all, Zilla was in Ivan’s office where he sat in his desk. Standing next to him was Rabastan Grund, a former mage of Fairy Tail and well, former mage in general. Zilla felt herself get tense at the sight of him and his cold eyes were on her as well. She took note of the four others in the room, other Raven Tail members. Kurohebi, who smiled as much as she frowned, and both said very little. Flare Corona was there as well—she was always eye catching in her red. Obra was there with his puppet resting on his shoulders and he said even less than she did. And, last was Nullpudding who made up for all the quiet people with his loudmouth. Her fellow Ravens.

“Rab, Zilla, if you both could stop glaring at each other.” Master Ivan sighed and Zilla shifted her eyes back to Ivan immediately. “Thank you. Now, to catch Zilla up to speed. We are going to enter the Grand Magic Games. Our team set up will be Kurohebi, Obra, Nullpudding, Rabastan and you, Zilla with Flare as reserve.”

Zilla blinked at him. The Grand Magic Games? Why were they going to go so public? Panic flashed in her mind at the idea of partaking in such an event. But also—Grund? In a game for mages? She wanted to laugh at that but there was nothing funny about this. Something must have shown on her face to Ivan because he raised an eyebrow at her as if to say get on out with it then. So she asked “How is Grund going to compete?”

“Always right to the chase, Zilla.” Nullpudding said with a smile. Grund was smiling too, but there was no mirth or sarcasm in it like Nullpudding’s. No. His smile was the same as his eyes—cold.

“Surely, you’ve heard of magical items, Zilla? Or are you too simple minded?” Grund asked her.

Zilla glared. “I am more shocked you are going to do more than just be a plain sadist for fun, Grund.”

“Now, now, children.” Ivan said, he cut a glance at Grund which silenced the man. “No need for infighting. Focus all of that on the Games and getting back at Fairy Tail. We are going to go there and defeat them once and for all.”

Zilla looked around the room and did a tally on the team. They all had their uses, and no one here could ever be considered weak. No matter what Grund did or said to any of them, but she noted, he always had an eye on Corona for some reason. Zilla suspected it was because she was not like a lot of the others and it showed. She frowned at Grund's direction once more. She would play interference with that at Crocus if she was forced to go. Turning back to Master Ivan, she let her displeasure known.

“I do not want to take place in the Games. Put Corona on the team and leave me out of it—give me a different assignment.”

“Zilla.” Master Ivan began. He said her name with a trickle of disappointment that made Zilla look down at her boots. “We need you on the team. You are by far Raven Tail’s strongest and most skilled mage.”

“You already have a tactfully strong team, Master Ivan. I would only be overkill.” Zilla told him, her eyes looked up again. She did not want to do the Games. Please.

“Zilla, you are instrumental in these plans.” Master Ivan told her and then he went for the killing blow which was, “and I trust you to do what needs to be done.”

And just like that, in three months, Zilla Claramond would be on the Raven Tail team for the x791 Grand Magic Games. Not that she was thrilled about this.

When the others were dismissed, when the plans were laid out, Zilla stayed back. She waited for the door to close behind Grund before she spoke to Master Ivan. “I cannot do these games.”

“Zilla…” Master Ivan sighed and Zilla stepped forward in front of his desk.

“I cannot. I—I told you about. The arena. The monthly death matches, I. I do not think I can handle it.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. It was hard to talk about, but she had known this man since he saved her. Since he found her half dead at the edge of Fiore and he—he saved her life a decade ago.

“Zilla, these are different. No one will be killed for losing or winning.” Master Ivan’s voice took that rare soft tone that it did sometimes. She almost recoiled at the way he did it all so easily, the way he could shift from Guild Master to—to whatever this was. “This is more to show who the strongest is and win some money while you’re at it. As long as we defeat Fairy Tail, that will be it. No one will die.”

Zilla found herself nodding. But she was not comforted in the least. She despaired slightly because she knew that she was not going to sleep any time soon. No matter how tired she was.

 

CROCUS

For an underground tunnel, it worked out quite well and you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was underground. Which was planned, naturally, but also the feat involved some incredible magic. The operation was seven years in the making and running along quite well.

A man walked through the tunnel, deeper and deeper into the earth as he did. He wore a long white jacket that had dark red trimmings with a black shirt and black pants. On a pin on his left jacket lapel was a strange symbol, a jagged-looking H with a circle around it. On the back of his jacket showed off a well-known brand for fashion and armor alike—Heart Kruz. This man was the founder of such a company, Gaël Cœucruz. Little was known about him in the public, just that he was as the founder of the famed brand and had quite the eye for fashion and dramatic appearance. Nobody knew his true job. Nor the fact that he was a mage.

He got the to the end of the tunnel and opened his palm to a scanner, which then opened a heavy metal door before him. He walked in and ignored the faint screaming coming from somewhere the back of what looked to be a massive warehouse. Sitting in the front of it was a young man. He had dark skin and shaved hair, though some of it was growing back. On his scalp was the same crude H symbol that adorned the pin of Mr. Cœucruz. He was a tall young man and was currently leaning against a desk with his arms crossed.

“I take it preparations for the Games are underway?” Mr. Cœucruz asked. His voice was thin and silky.

“Yes—Master would be happy of the upgrades.” The young man replied; his tone was emotionless.

Mr. Cœucruz smiled. “Good, good. We have three months. The return of Fairy Tail…hm, the stocks in my company went up with the return of Erza Scarlet.”

The young man nodded. He did not know business much. “Congratulations, Mr. Cœucruz.”

“Thank you, Bo.” Mr. Cœucruz said. “I do hope they plan to enter the Games. Their magical energy … yes, it can only benefit us, no?”

They both didn’t flinch when they heard sobbing, nor when there was screaming. Not even when a small explosion seemed to go off. The young man called Bo just nodded. “I believe so, too.”