This is the beginning of the new version of Salamander Master. The rewrite of chapter one, and I can tell you that I actually genuinely enjoyed writing this.
I got my mojo for Fairy Tail back! Expect Someone New, Unseeing Slayer, and Dreams of an Absolution to all be rewritten and be put back in production very soon!
Pain laced through his whole body as he rose to consciousness, a groan escaping his mouth. Natsu's dark eyes opened, before squinting at the light coming from the window next to his cot. "Huh?" He croaked out, eyes flickering across the room for a moment before recognizing where he was. "Oh.. I'm in the infirmary.."
The infirmary.. How did I get here? Natsu thought, his left hand going up to rub through his hair thoughtfully. The last thing I remember was that I was on the mission to get some extra money before the S-Class trials and then-
Suddenly, Natsu gasped.
"The S-Class trials!" He yelled, throwing himself from the bed and landing on his feet. This, however, caused him to cry out in pain as the feeling of hot, burning needles shot through his left leg, and he crashed to the ground.
Groaning, he noticed that he couldn't clench his right hand, that was because it was completely wrapped in heavy bandages. He grunted slightly, before bringing his left hand up and flipping himself onto his back. Natsu lifted his head up, and looked back down at his legs. His left leg was wrapped in a cast, and his chest had bandages all over it.
Before he could figure out what was going on, there were heavy footsteps and the door opened behind him. "Oh Natsu! You're awake!" A familiar voice cried, causing him to turn and look over at the source.
"Macao?" He asked curiously. The man grunted, and quickly moved to help Natsu to stand. He wrapped Natsu's arm over his shoulder and helped the pink haired man limp over to the bed.
Natsu sat down on the bed, and then instantly looked around. He wasn't worried about his mission, he was more worried about the trials. "Macao, where is everybody? I didn't miss the ride to Tenrou, did I?" He asked quickly, shifting restlessly in his seat. But he was smiling, because he knew that everyone wouldn't leave without him.
Macao's wince broke through his hopeful thoughts, making a frown grace Natsu's face. "Natsu.." The older man began,"I'm sorry, but you've been out for a few days now, and you will have a while recover before you're completely healed, Wendy healed it the best she could but it'll still take about a week. Master couldn't wait that long, everything was already scheduled.. So.. So they left without you."
Natsu's eyes widened, and he was silent for several moments. "W-what?" He croaked,"How could they leave without me?! I was going to win!"
"It's okay, Natsu. Master said that next year you'll have a guaranteed spot because your injury was an accident-" Macao tried to comfort him, but was swiftly interrupted.
"What if Gray wins and gets promoted to an S-Class mage before me?!" He exclaimed,"I'll never hear the end of it! This was my chance, Dammit!"
Natsu threw himself back, flopping on the hard cot with his arms splayed out on both sides. "Ouch," He grunted in pain, before letting out an angry sigh. There was the crinkle of paper next to him, causing Natsu to blink and turn towards the noise.
Sitting next to him on the bed was a piece of folded up paper. Using his unbandaged hand, Natsu picked it up and unfolded it. Within the confines of the paper, it was a note from his team, in their different handwritings respectively.
'Hey flame brain, I'm gonna become a S-Class mage before you and kick your ass so you'd better be awake when I get back, got it?! Keep Fairy Tail strong!' - Gray
'For once your injuries weren't your fault, I wish you could have come with us. But I know you'll work hard and become a S-Class mage next year. See you in a few weeks! I know you'll work hard!' - Erza
'You owe me fish for making me worry, but Lucy is going to take good care of me and buy me lots of fish! Be back soon! Keep working hard!' - Happy
'Sorry I couldn't fix your leg all the way! But I know you'll heal up and be ready when we get home, I'll miss you! Stay strong!' - Wendy
'Hey Natsu! Don't worry, we'll come back and tell you all about it! You'd better train hard while we're gone! I know you'll take good care of Fairy Tail for us!' - Lucy
Their messages filled Natsu's heart with joy, making him smile brightly. They always believed in him no matter what, he knew he couldn't disappoint them!
With sudden excitement, Natsu sat back up quickly. "But you know what?! That doesn't matter! When he gets back, S-Class mage or not, I'm gonna kick his ass into next Tuesday!"
"That's the spirit!" Macao exclaimed, glad Natsu wasn't beating himself up over it too hard,"And they'll be back in a few weeks, so it'll be very soon!" He moved to the drawers, pulling out some crutches for the teen.
Natsu grinned excitedly and nodded. "Hell yeah, and besides, Gray probably won't win! There's tons of others who can kick his ass, like Elfman or Levy!" He declared, standing up with the help of the crutches.
"Of course!" Macao replied,"Now come on, everyone will be excited that you're awake, we'll have a feast!"
Natsu's stomach grumbled at the thought, he nodded excitedly, and followed after the older man. It's okay, I'll show them I'm still super strong when they get back! He thought excitedly. When they get back, they'll be so surprised at how hard I've been training! All I have to do is wait a few weeks, not that long at all!
Little did the Fairies know that they would soon be waiting in vain for much longer than a few weeks..
Four Weeks Later
For the past few hours, a restless feeling had been swaddling the Fairy Tail Guild Hall.
With no sign of Team Tenrou, who were almost a week late for their return, the entire guild was growing nervous. Macao was sitting at the bar, white knuckles clutching at a large beer bottle, Kinana had been cleaning the same glass for a few hours, Jet and Droy were at their usual table eating nervously, and many others were just sitting and shifting restlessly.
A completely healed Natsu was pacing back and forth in between the bar and the tables, Romeo copying his movements behind him. A thick rope of tension filled the building, and nobody could seem to cut through it, leaving everyone in an awkward silence.
After a few hours of this, the large doors of the guild suddenly opened. Everyone's head whipped over to it, Natsu freezing in place, causing Romeo to bump into his back and crash onto the ground. The kid grunted, before turning to look at what all the adults were staring at.
Walking through the door was a familiar guild member with short black hair, and three familiar scars under his left eye. However, he was followed by another man who had tied up black hair and glasses, and both were wearing council member uniforms. Behind them was many guards.
Natsu's eyes narrowed suspiciously, before he asked,"Mest? What's.. What's going on? Why are you dressed like-"
"That is not my name, Natsu Dragneel, my name is Doranbolt, magic council member." Mest- Doranbolt -firmly declared.
Natsu shut his mouth quickly, and turned to look at everyone to try and find an answer, but all he saw was the same confusion in how own eyes reflected back. "What?" He questioned, turning back towards the strange group. "That doesn't make any sense? Why are you with these people, why aren't you with Team Tenrou?"
The pain that spiked through Doranbolt's face sent the anxiety in the guild skyrocketing through the roof. "Natsu.. Fairy Tail.. I'm sorry," He began, looking down. "But.. Team Tenrou.. They've been killed.."
Natsu's eyes widened, his heart dropping to his stomach, as his warm body seemed to freeze up. "What? W-what do you mean?!" He croaked out once more, before growing angry,"If this is a joke, this isn't funny!"
"We do not joke, Dragneel," The glasses wearing man snapped,"We saw the whole thing. Tenrou island was destroyed by Acnologia, the black dragon. There is nothing left, everything is gone.."
After a few moments of silence, sniffles ran through the room. "NO!" Romeo yelled angrily,"No.. No.. They can't be dead, YOU'RE LYING!" The boy rubbed his face furiously, breaking into sobs.
Protests were suddenly being yelled throughout the guild, making everyone grow even more restless. Doranbolt growled angrily, as the voices got louder, he suddenly yelled,"SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
Everyone gasped, turning towards him. "What kind of proof do you want!?" The man asked again,"Want us to go and show you an empty ocean?! The debris left behind?! Or would you rather we go underwater and pull out the limbs, intestines, and severed heads of your dead guild members, is that what would satisfy you? HUH?!"
His declaration made Romeo scream from shock, and several others cry out in horror. Natsu felt rage build up in his system, the flames of his body rising up.
Before Doranbolt could say anything else, a flame covered fist slammed into his face, sending him flying into Lahar and the soldiers behind him.
"You bastard! You.. You DIRTY FUCKING TRAITOR!" Natsu yelled viciously,"Get out of Fairy Tail, get out and NEVER COME BACK!"
Lahar growled, and some of the soldiers reached for their weapons, but Doranbolt held up a hand. "Lahar, stop it. Let's just go.." He quickly said, shakily getting to a standing. He turned and walked out, head hung in shame. Lahar looked back at Fairy Tail with a glare, before motioning the soldiers to follow after him. The door to the guild shut, leaving the Fairies in a silence once more. But this time, it wasn't because of tension, it was because of horror.
Natsu's bravery and anger suddenly faded away, and he found himself stumbling backwards as his back slammed into the bar. His left hand went to steady him, while his right went to cover his mouth. "Oh dear god.." He whispered,"This can't real, this can't be happening.."
"No.. No! The magic council hated us, they always have. They have to be lying!" Alzack yelled,"It's not real, it can't be!"
"We have to see for ourselves!" Natsu angrily snapped, slamming his fist into the bar. Doranbolt was lying, the Tenrou Team wasn't dead.
It wasn't the truth!
But it was.
Just a few short days later, staring down at the empty ocean from the top of Blue Pegasus' airship, Christina, they were forced to face the truth. Doranbolt wasn't lying, Tenrou was gone.. Along with their family.. They really were dead.
Everyone returned to Fairy Tail that day with a thousand-yard stare.
Then, everything completely fell apart. Nobody could find the courage to do anything. The next few weeks, Fairy Tail could constantly be found filled with drunk, passed out people. Wakaba couldn't find the courage to flirt or leer, Bisca and Alzack were always fighting instead of growing closer, Kinana just sat behind the bar with her head in her hands, Macao was one of the passed out drunks. It was all a mess.
Natsu, however, reacted much differently. Instead of wallowing in depression, he ran away from the problem while trying to help the guild. Over the couple weeks that passed, he would take as many missions as possible, even a few S-Class ones. He was so stressed out that he forgot to eat or sleep, but he was too afraid of the memories that may hit him.
Fairy Tail's destructive behavior continued like this for a long time.. Until Natsu returned once more, and found an empty mission board. Then, his obsessive routine was broken, and his eyes were opened. The first thing that hit was the overwhelming smell of beer.
Turning around, Natsu looked around the guild. It was nasty, disgusting. Nobody looked alive, with how depressed and lost they were. But Natsu didn't know how to fix that when he felt the same way.
What could they do? They lost all their strongest members, they should have been able to help, Natsu should have been able to help. If only he had been on Tenrou.. If only Tenrou hadn't happened..
Natsu sniffled, tears suddenly blurring his vision as he fell back against the mission board, sliding down to the floor. He broke out in sobs, putting his face in his hands, and just letting all the hurt out.
Natsu blinked slightly, lifting his head. What was that noise? He thought, before shifting to the side. His hand reached into his pocket, feeling a piece of crumpled paper. Natsu's shaking hands slowly unfolded it, and suddenly he remembered what it was. It was the note that his team wrote for him..
A sad, pained smiled crawled across his face. Natsu reached up, running his hands across the paper, a finger tracing every different handwriting on the paper. He missed them.. He missed them so much.. Tracing over the paper, his eyes rereading the messages over and over, he suddenly realized something.
'You'd better be working hard!'
'I know you'll work hard!'
'Keep Fairy Tail strong!'
'I know you'll take good care of Fairy Tail for us!'
Natsu stared at the message for a long time, before folding up the paper, and standing back up. He looked around the disaster of a guild, and clenched his fist. Natsu knew that this wasn't the Fairy Tail he knew..
This isn't what Team Tenrou would want.
Suddenly, he realized that he needed to do.
Natsu felt courage fill him, and he stormed over to the bar. Hoisting himself up, he took a deep breath, and then declared,"ALRIGHT! LISTEN UP!"
There was the sound of clinking bottles, as several faces turned to face him. Natsu crossed his arms, glaring at everyone. "Listen, we need to get out of our funk. This is the Fairy Tail I know, we'd get right up and keep going!" The pink haired male explained.
Jet looked at the dragon slayer, sadness in his dark eyes. "What's the point?" He asked morosely,"Everyone is gone.. Fairy Tail is falling apart.. Why should we care?"
Natsu frowned even more. "Why should we care?" He repeated,"I'll tell you why! Because this isn't what Team Tenrou would want. They'd want to see the guild prosper in their memory, not crumble into the ground. Because they would want us to have a legacy, and to remember them fondly. Because none of them died only to watch us let the very thing they fought for fall apart because we couldn't handle it! THEY"D WANT US TO KEEP GOING STRONG!"
People suddenly looked around at each other, eyes filling with realization. But they still didn't look convinced. Natsu growled slightly, before pointing out someone. "Droy, what would Levy say if she could see you right now? How do you think she would feel about you letting yourself go?" He demanded.
Droy froze, dropping his chicken, as a sad look graces his chubbier cheeks. "She.. She'd be angry at me for it," He muttered,"She always hated it when we worried about her too much, she wanted us to work hard whether or not she was there.."
Natsu then turned towards someone else. "Bisca!" He snapped,"If you ever died, would you want Alzack to just give up and let himself waste away?"
"No!" The woman exclaimed,"Never! I'd want him to live on for me!" She then gasped, realizing what Natsu was trying to say.
"Now do you see how everyone probably feels!" Natsu yelled,"They're probably screaming at us from the afterlife! They would want us to keep living for them, and for us! They'd want us to get even stronger and become a better family than before! Because we're not weak, and neither were they! We're not going to let this hold us back, they wouldn't want it to, and that's because we're FAIRY TAIL!"
Loud cheers erupted in the guild, everyone excitedly jumping up from their stupors. "Natsu's right!" Alzack exclaimed,"We need to keep Fairy Tail going! We're going to work super hard for them!"
"Just you wait!" Jet said excitedly,"I'm going to take so many missions our bank will be overflowing!"
"Not if I beat you to it!" Warren exclaimed,"And then I'm going to train so hard that they'll be super proud!"
"We'll make sure Fairy Tail is always the strongest guild, all for them!" Nab said happily,"I'll take a thousand missions while I wait for my special mission!"
"THAT'S THE SPIRIT!" Natsu yelled,"FAIRY TAIL FOREVER!" The rest of the guild screamed out excitedly, glasses and chairs being thrown into the air in excitement.
During all the excitement, Macao and Wakaba had started whispering under their breath. Before Natsu could hop off the bar, the blue haired man raised his hand in the air. "WAIT!" He yelled over the crowd, causing everyone to stop.
The man looked at everyone, before smiling widely. "If Fairy Tail is going to stay strong, we're going to need a new master, someone just as strong as the spirit of our guild!" He began,"And I know just the person for the job!"
Turning towards the unsuspecting dragon slayer, he then motioned towards him. "Our next guild master should be you, Natsu," He declared.
Natsu's smile suddenly dropped, his eyes widening in shock. "W-what?" He guffawed,"Me? But.. But.. I'm just Natsu! How could I be the guild master?"
Wakaba smirked, crossing his arms. "Well, let's think about it," He began,"You're a strong, young person with a good heart. After weeks of us acting like pathetic shits, you managed to wake us all up with a damn good speech and help us realize what we needed to do. I don't think there could be anyone better for the job."
"I agree!" Max suddenly declared, flipping his light hair. "Natsu, you're what's keeping this guild going, you made us all snap out of it! You'd be an amazing guild master, I know it!"
"Big brother, be the guild master, you'd be so cool!" Romeo exclaimed, running over and hugging Natsu's leg tightly.
Macao and Wakaba turned towards the teen, who had now climbed down from the bar. "Natsu, it's all up to you if you want to do it or not," He explained,"So, do you accept."
Natsu looked around at everyone, noticing their excitement. He felt nervous, but he also knew deep down this was the right thing to do. He would take care of Fairy Tail, just like everyone would want, just like Lucy wanted. He'd take care of his guild no matter what.
Smiling, Natsu firmly nodded. "I accept!" He declared firmly. Fairy Tail exploded with cheers, and suddenly surrounded the pinkette, lifting him off the ground and cheering his name.
That day, Natsu became the fourth master of Fairy Tail.
And this was only the start of what would prove to be seven years of epic adventures for Fairy Tail and their new leader.