Chapter 3: The Crimson Lotus
Empress Consort Layla watched as her daughter played in the courtyard garden happily. She grew many types of flowers in her garden with minimal help from the servants, and the empress mage was well proud of this fact. She grew marigolds, lavender, and many different other types of beautiful, sweet scented flowers in her garden, her personal sanctuary.
Lucy hardly ever got to leave the palace walls now, since Jude had become stricter at keeping her safe and educated. Most of the time, Lucy had to spend time studying math and English, learning royal politics, and as well as Fiore history. Layla understood her husband meant well, after all she'd one day be Empress of an empire however small it may be but still Lucy still needed to have time to just be a kid instead of that perfect little princess in his eyes.
She seemed to be enjoying the flowers as well but Layla remembered it wasn't always that way. She remembered the time Lucy had gotten stung by an itsy bitsy bumble bee when she was only five, the first time Jude felt it would be safe for Lucy to play in the garden.
"Mama, mama a bee stung my hand and it hurts," Lucy cried running over to her mother who was having a conversation with the head maid, Hilda.
"Oh no, Lucy I told you to be careful," Layla said examining the hand that was stung and noticing the red swelling on her palm the stinger protruding from it, "Hilda, quickly, bring be a knife, a wet rag, and some ice, lots of it wrapped in a small towel."
"Yes, my lady," Hilda said running off quickly.
Layla turned her attention back to Lucy.
"Tell me dear to you feel any dizziness or a headache, anything off at all," Layla asked her crying daughter.
"No it just hurts mama, really bad," Lucy replied.
Layla signed in relief, this was good to here. It meant she wouldn't need to rush a doctor to the palace.
"Do you want me to perform the procedure, my lady," Hilda asked coming back with the things she asked for and a few other maids on hand observing and ready to help.
"No, just hold her still, she may be more calm if I do it," Layla said as she grabbed the knife and Hilda followed orders holding the child in a tight yet comforting embrace.
Layla breathed in and out as she scraped the bruise on her daughter's hand extracting the bee's stinger before placing the wet rag over it and then the ice filled towel.
No harm would come to her daughter today.
Later on Layla found her daughter still sniffling in her room but stopped abruptly when she found her.
"When I grow up and become empress," Lucy said, "all bees will be banned from the courtyard."
Layla laughed lightly at her daughters determined, hard expression that looked so strange on a child, not to mention a pretty little girl.
"Well then, I suppose you don't have to wait to you are grown up maybe, I'll have your father ban all bees from the palace right now, heaven knows he wants to do that very thing when he found out about your accident," Layla replied sitting down next to her daughter. The only thing left from the bee sting was slight redness.
"Really," Lucy questioned in awe that her parents had the power to do such things.
"Of course, but it's a shame that all of my precious flowers will have to suffer and those shady trees that you love to sit under on a hot sunny day," Layla said examining her finger nails.
"Bee's are that important," Lucy asked.
"That they are, sweetheart," Layla said, "and like how your father and I work so hard to protect you, the bees works so hard to protect the plants that grow on this earth, which is why it stung you, did you know bees pas s away after they sting someone?"
"It protected the flowers at the cost of its own life," Lucy asked in tears yet again. She had started to hate all bees for the action of one and really all it was trying to do was its job to protect the plants.
Layla hugged her daughter trying to comfort her.
"Oh, Lucy one day you'll learn that every action has its consequence and things that we may see as insignificant and little can make all the difference." She said.
That incident was almost about 2 years ago and Lucy seemed to stay out of a bee's way since then. She still enjoyed frolicking through the flowers and breathing in their sweet aroma none the less. The young princess wore a semi formal red kimono for little girls. Her hair was loose and down her shoulders and her feet were bare.
"Your daughter has grown, Layla," A masculine and familiar voice next to her.
"That she has, Igneel," Layla said glancing at her dragon companion currently in his human form, "where is that son of yours, I thought you were bringing him?"
Igneel pointed Layla in the direction to be his son had gone, surprising her daughter as she had bent over to smell another flower.
Lucy was enjoying herself as she played and frolicked through the flower imagining that she was a celestial wizard on a mission to save the empire with her loyal spirits. Each flower was a person she had saved from a monster or dark mage.
Lucy smiled bending down to sniff a lotus flower. As a reward for saving them, the flowers would let her smell their sweet scent.
"Hi there," a voice said cheerily, one she didn't recognize.
Lucy screeched turning around to see a boy who looked to be around her age with spike like pink hair that reminded Lucy of cherry blossoms and coal colored eyes. He wore a red collared shirt and khaki trousers but Lucy noticed the strangest thing about his clothing was the white scarf that he wore the looked as if it was almost made out of dragon scales.
"Who are you," The young princess questioned, "and how'd you get here?"
"I'm Natsu," he said, "and Igneel flew us here, he can turn into a dragon, you know."
"My name is Lucy," she replied then she remembered to do a small curtsey with her pink dress, "um Princess Lucy Celeste Marigold Heartfilia of the Hibiscus Empire."
The boy examined her closely.
"You're a weird one, aren't yah Luigi," Natsu said laughing now as he sat down next to her.
"I'm not weird," Lucy told him, "I'm a princess, and papa says when a princess introduces herself, she must always use her full name and who she reigns over and my name is not Luigi its Lucy!"
"Really," Natsu replied, "then how come I never heard you, I'm a mage you know, oh and a samurai."
"You're a samurai," The young blonde questioned, "like the men who guard the palace?"
"Sure, but I didn't see any of them" the young pink haired boy replied, "hey you know what, I have an idea."
"What's your idea, Natsu," Lucy questioned, tilting her head slightly to the side cutely.
"Let's be friends, Lucy," he said jumping up and down in a hyper yet easily excited manner the only little kids could possess.
"Okay," Lucy said joining him in his jumping game.
They hopped together all around the garden until they came to an abrupt pause caused by Natsu.
"Hey, why'd you stop," Lucy asked.
"Wait a second," the boy said turning to the girl that accompanied him with a stern look on his face that Lucy thought looked really silly on a young boy.
He reached out and poked her in the shoulder with his pointer finger.
"Tag, you're it," the boy said as he ran away from her laughing wildly.
"Hey, no fair," Lucy said chasing after him, "I don't want to be it!"
"Well someone has to be it," The boy replied, "catch me if you can!"
Lucy was determined; she'd definitely catch this boy who had the nerve to make her "it".
The little princess chased the samurai in training through all the flowers in the large castle courtyard laughing as they each toke turns breathing in the sweet scent of her mom's flowers.
Suddenly the pink haired boy can to a stopping point.
"Hey why'd you stop, Natsu," the cute little blonde asked.
"Look at this one, Lucy;" he said in excitement, "It's sparkly."
There in the center of a patch of pure white lotus flowers lay a single crimson one, the only one that hadn't blossomed yet, but seemed to give off an unnatural, yet eye pleasing shine.
"Wow," Lucy commented in awe, "I never saw a lotus flower this color before…but why hasn't it bloomed?"
"Beats me," he said, "Let's eat it!"
"We can't eat it, Natsu, It's a flower and people don't eat flower's, silly," Lucy replied.
Natsu grumbled, "Well I can," He said reaching for the flower.
"No, stop it," Lucy complained reaching for it as well.
Suddenly the peculiar flower bloomed as the two seven year old children reached to grab setting of a ray of golden light at its center so radiant, it reached the heavens.
The two children widened their eyes in amazement as golden glittery glow swirled around them and levitated them from the ground.
"W-What's going on," Lucy asked, "Is this magic?"
"This is so cool," Natsu exclaimed!
"Lucy, Natsu," A woman's voice cried for the children, Igneel by her side.
"Mommy," Lucy yelled for her mother!
"This….why….it….can't be," Igneel said in astonishment as the light died down as the children fainted.
The only thing left from the crimson lotus was the shine on the little blonde princess' form and the fiery glow of the pink haired dragon apprentice.
A cerulean blue haired Maiko that went by the name of Levy listened intently as she poured more sake for the man she was serving had metallic gray hair and even darker eyes. She wore her normal work clothes a plain white kimono with orange leaves spread across the fabric elegantly, the orange obi matching the leaves and her hair was done in the Nihongami style. She could easily tell by his appearance that he was either a present or a former samurai.
She also would guess that the boy who was around her age with long shaggy black hair and red colored eyes was his apprentice. The apprentice was dressed similarly to the older man she was serving in khaki trousers tucked into black boots, and a black collared shirt.
Usually the petite geisha in training was very serious about her work, if only to pay for her late parents' death but the two were in the middle of an argument about magic, one of her favorite subjects in fact. She also found samurais to be interesting.
Moving to serve the other guests, she kept a listening ear on the particular duo.
"That's stupid, Metallicana how could a measly freaking flower hold that much power," the apprentice said.
"It is said that the crimson lotus received its color from the sin of mankind, crimson, the color of blood," the man now identified as Metallicana said.
"What are you blabbering on about now," the boy complained.
"You just listen here you brat," he replied in anger, "long ago when the first humans roamed this earth and first discovered magic, a war broke out for power, whoever had the most magic by default had the most power, however, this angered god, so he killed off a lot of wizards causing the humans to use other means of fighting tactics such as creating weapons and becoming warriors and samurais."
"Okay, then how do dragons and this freaking flower come into this story," Gajeel asked annoyed and slightly confused yet entertained.
"Will you let me finish, Gajeel," Metallicana said.
"Now where was I," he questioned, "Oh yes, now the dragons were annoyed at the human's stupidity and felt they were not worthy to use magic, so now the war was dragons against humans, naturally humans were at a huge disadvantage so somehow god had spared the humans and gave them one advantage, god captured a dragon and had him teach a human all the magic it knew, it was incorporated into the mage and samurai fighting technique and eventually was called the dragon style."
"Using a dragon's own magic against them how sinister, geehee," Gajeel said with a slight laugh in his own unique way,
"Now no one knows exactly how the war ended, but let's just say the dragons eventually all toke up human forms and joined the ranks of the humans up until now," Metallicana said drinking his sake.
"Okay but you still didn't tell me about the flower," Gajeel yelled.
"Well the flower may only be a legend but as I said earlier the flower is supposedly the physical form of the deepest human sin, the sin of murder, when humans first found power in less than honorable ways, the sin was so strong that the power was reborn and reshaped into the flower with a magic so powerful it can overthrow nations" Metallicana said finishing his sake, "of course this is only a myth, foolish boy."
Why didn't Levy believe the flower was a legend herself, and neither did Gajeel?
To be continued: Chapter 4: The Request and the Prophesy
Author's Note: So as you could probably tell I'm not too well informed on the samurai period of Japan but hey I try my best and do some research. Oh a Maiko is basically a geisha in training and a geisha is a show girl of sorts. They provide entertainment like dancing and singing in their own Geisha House. Maiko's can be as young as nine years old but to fit my story needs, I'm making it seven. Levy just started as a maiko and her main job is to learn by watching the older maikos and geishas and serve drinks and food to the guests. Then again this knowledge isn't too relevant to my story so this will not need to be memorized.