Disclaimer: All rights to Naruto belong to Masashi Kishimoto and its respective publishing house. The same goes for Hiro Mashima for his utterly delightful series, Fairy Tail.

Author's Note: This is entirely a new direction for me, guys. I've never actually written for the Narutoverse before, but this just feels right. Simply said, this new story is something that's been plaguing me for a while, and I thought I would make the plunge after being inspired by Paradox Jast's 'Fire Shadow of Fairy Tail'.

Revised at 19th May 2014 to the best of my ability.


Prologue


.0.

"Come to me," the deep, guttural voice of the beast beckoned him to the edge of the cage.

The shallow pool of viscous-like red liquid splashed under his feet as the shinobi mindlessly crept closer. The echoing silence in the chamber was marred by the occasional 'pop' of the volatile liquid bursting, accompanied by the unearthly deep breathing of the large beast before him. There was a glazed look in the blond's eyes as the liquid swirled underneath him, wrapping tendrils around his body in an effort to push him up towards the centre of the seal.

"Now, tear off the seal."

Naruto shakily reached his arm forward. For a moment, he was bewildered that such a menial act of tearing a piece of paper would put up such a resistance to his body. His fingers were poised on the underside of the seal, ready to pull it off, but he struggled with himself. Finally, he leaned forward, allowing his arm to fallonly to feel a hand clamped tightly onto his wrist.

He was finally jerked out of his trance-like state when he felt a body tackle him away from the seal. He landed roughly on the floor beneath him, the shallow pool of the now clear-blue water softening his landing. Naruto tried to blink away the tiredness from his eyes. Shaking his head slowly, he felt clarity being restored.

Suddenly, a hand was thrust before him. The mysterious figure laughed lightly as if amused at seeing him so confused.

Instinctively, he reached out to grab the hand, leaning on it as he pulled himself off the ground. Even through the small shroud of haze in the dimly lit chamber, it didn't take much for Naruto to recognise the man in front of him.

"Yondaime... Hokage?" Naruto breathed out in quiet awe as he stared at the Fourth with wide, trembling eyes.

"It's you!"

The sudden appearance of the Fourth was enough for the teen to ignore the deep, menacing growl of the Kyuubi. Minato smiled softly, and when he spoke, his voice carried a sense of pride and hope:

"Naruto..."


.0.

Kurama snarled lowly. There was a primal sense of animosity emitting from the enraged Bijuu as it finally reacted to the new presence in its chamber. It trashed madly in the small confines of its cage; growling, taunting and outright roaring at the Fourth in an attempt to provoke him to come closer. As it was, the father-son duo was capable of ignoring its attempts as they continued on rambling about its host's parentage.

"This guy behind us sure is noisy, huh?" Minato laughed softly, tilting his head to the side as he pointed at it with his left thumb.

Its eyes noticeably twitched in annoyance at the casual attempt to brush it off. Still, it was with a small apprehension of Minato's abilities that Kurama stilled when it saw the older blond lift and loudly snap his fingers. After all, this was the very same mortal who had defied convention and sealed half of its powers with that damn seal.

In an instant, they were both gone.

"Yondaime!" the beast roared out in anger.

Kurama bashed its head against the bars of the cage, baring its fangs at where the duo had originally stood. To have freedom so close from its grasp, only for Minato to once again rip it away from it was agonising. It stewed quietly in place for a moment to reign in his frustrations, at the same time, savouring whatever half-baked revenge schemes that came to mind.

A growl of displeasure followed. To be reduced to fantasizing was... pitiful.

With no small amount of annoyance, Kurama half-heartedly nudged the bars a final time before letting loose a snort of chagrin. Despite knowing the futility of its actions, it was the most accessible outlet for all of its anger and frustration; the very symbol representing the physical manifestation of the obstacle to its path of freedom. It slunk further within the shadows, resting its head on its paws as it continued to stare out of the cage. It was the same bland scenery that had mocked him in all its years of being confined to a host: the miserably optimistic boy, his miserably optimistic mother, and not to mention her grandmother.

It instinctively released another growl at the thought, its mouth curling slightly as it did so.

Ultimately, all it could do was wait. The time would come when the boy would once again turn to its power, crying out to end his suffering like he had done so before. It would readily oblige, and in the process, obtaining its freedom in exchange. Kurama could only hope that the next time such an opportunity would arise, the Fourth would not appear again.

The Bijuu gave a fanged smile as its large red eyes and teeth gleamed in the dim lighting of the chamber.

In the end, all it had was time.


0.0

The lithe girl barged into the council room of the Royal Castle of the Kingdom of Edolas. With every step she took, her large floppy dog-like ears bounced behind her from the odd head-wear accessory she was wearing. The peculiar antics attracted the rapt attention of all the occupants in the room. She continued to run a loop around the large table in the centre of the room before finally stopping at the foot of it, facing the King of Edolas himself.

King Faust, for his part, frowned.

Giving a sharp salute to the King, and without a hint of fear or nervousness in front of the most powerful man in Edolas, she barked out clearly and loudly, "Your Majesty, my apologies for the interruption, but the Magical Research and Development department has an urgent message to report."

Faust eyed the girl critically, annoyed at her impudence. After all, he had asked not to be disturbed during such an important meeting regarding the new measure to outlaw guilds and mages in the Kingdom. The wizened man raised a brow before he spoke, "Such a bold girl to interrupt a meeting which I had specifically ordered not to be disturbed," he said pointedly. "You are?"

She winced before zooming around the table once again, small clouds of dust trailing after her feet. She stopped at the exact spot she had stood previously, her cheeks flushed, but it did nothing to cover up the brown birthmark-like spots just under her eyes.

"Coco, your Majesty, a messenger from the Communications department."

To the King's immediate right, Sugarboy, the recently promoted Captain of the Fourth Magical Division, regarded the girl with amusement. "You must be new here, huh?" Her eyes trailed downwards to her bare feet which prompted a small chuckle from the eccentric-looking Captain.

Coco nodded sharply, turning to her left slightly as if ready to zoom around again, but a sharp glare from the King stopped her in her tracks.

"The message?"

Coco noticeably gulped and stood at attention. "The Anima division has reported an abnormality regarding the magical activity of the inter-dimensional gate." She appeared uncertain, frowning at the report in her hand. "Chief Byro mentioned that the abnormality was related to the 'event'? It's not stated here what that event entails to, but it has been noted that"

Her words died in her mouth as Byro, the Chief of Staff to the King, hobbled inside the council room. The bald, stocky goblin-like man had an uncharacteristically giddy grin, which made him look all the more devilish considering his eyebrows looked like horns. He locked eyes with King Faust. "It is confirmed," he said gleefully. "We have found it again."

Faust's eyes widened in shock. Was it possible?

"Leave," the King uttered softly.

Sugarboy, obviously unhappy with the abrupt conclusion of the meeting, stood up, leaning over with his hands pressed against the table. "Your Majesty, we must insist that"

Faust stroked his beard as if in a daze, not even glancing at Sugarboy as he continued to stare blankly off into the distance. "The basis of the new law has been laid out. We've shown that the Kingdom of Edolas will not tolerate the existence of guilds and mages outside of the Royal Army. The eradication of dark guilds that dare to threaten the peace of our Kingdom will continue as planned. The dark guild formerly known as Lamia Scale has become a prime example to others should they continue to show resistance in the face of our might."

"But"

"Divisions One through Four will form the bulk of our forces with Pantherlily spearheading the operation." Faust glanced at the large panther-like creature, to which Pantherlily replied with a firm nod. "Reports regarding the overall progress of the operation are to be presented during our weekly meeting. That is all," the wizened man said with finality. He glared at the occupants in the room, promising a harsh retribution should they even think to rebut his statement.

Faust was greeted with a sea of nodding faces. They offered their usual salutations to him before swiftly exiting the room, the small number consisting of special advisors, assistants and captains of the Royal Army. At the fore, Pantherlily was the first to leave the room. It was as if his face was stuck in a perpetual frown, as was the aura of grumpiness surrounding his being.

Sugarboy, on the other hand, raised his rather impressive cleft chin in the air as he headed towards the exit, but not before throwing a contemptuous sneer at Coco, the puppy-like messenger girl, as if blaming her for ending the meeting so abruptly.

King Faust watched as Byro closed the door to the council room after the last of the council members had trailed out. "Is it true?" he asked impatiently. "Has the source been located?"

"The magical technicians have been able to pinpoint the origins of the source." Byro laughed freely. "It is as we've imagined, your Majesty."

The King of Edolas slumped into his throne, slowly taking his crown off his head as he tried to process the ramifications of this new discovery. "An entirely new dimension," he breathed, absently massaging his chest. "Is it possible?"

"One must never underestimate the will of magic, your Majesty. It is logical to assume that with this new discovery that there could be hundreds, even thousands of parallel dimensions other than what we've discovered. The possibilities are endless; no doubt so would the resources."

Faust suddenly stiffened. "What of the Anima? Is it compatible to be used with this new dimension?"

A sly smile was his only answer. "Our technicians are in the process of charging the machine as we speak. The preparations will be coming to a close within a day. It won't be long now."

"Excellent, excellent." Distractedly, the King stood up, slowly bringing his hands up to his side and releasing a boisterous laugh. "Can you imagine, Byro?" he asked with an eager maniacal grin. "A whole new dimension at our disposal. Our Kingdom will finally have an eternity of magic in our grasp!"

A small cough interrupted his monologue.

Faust merely regarded Byro with a raised brow, silently indicating that he would let his Chief of Staff speak freely.

"Y-Your Majesty, considering the magnitude of this source alone, we could power our Kingdom for decades, why even centuries at an end. However" the goblin-like man fiddled with his hands, "we have not been able to detect any other indications of magical activity unlike Earthland." Byro eyed the ground as he spoke, unwilling to face the King for fear of reprisal.

Faust hummed non-commitally. He turned his back to Byro, his attention drawn to the large, round-arched windows overlooking the Royal Capital. It had been his life's work. Whereas his father and grandfather before him had laid the foundations to this magnificent testament to their reign, it was he who was responsible for ushering in this golden age.

The Anima was a godsendhis to be exact.

"So be it," was his gruff reply. "We must ensure that we capture this source of magic in the new dimension. It will be vital to our immediate plans. For Dorma," he whispered the last part almost reverently. "After all, we still have Earthland to contend with." He paused, absentmindedly stroking his beard as he did. "But... would it not be prudent to continue monitoring this new dimension for any repeats of these incidental abnormalities?"

Byro bowed low and verbally agreed to his request.

"It would be wise to not fail me, Byro. Otherwise..." Faust trailed off, leaving the looming threat of failure over his head unclear.

"Failure was never an option to begin with, your Majesty." Byro's shoulders were slump, as if he was trying to make himself look smaller. His normally reserved Chief of Staff was uncharacteristically nervous.

Good. Fear was a proper motivator.

Faust smiled coolly, shooing Byro away with his hand. "Excellent, Byro. You may leave me be. We must ready ourselves for the next phase, and your role in this undertaking is crucial. I will not keep you away from your work."

Byro bowed low and graciously. "Of course, your Majesty."

Oh yes, there was work to be done.


0.0

Deep in the forest surrounding Konohagakure, Kakashi waited patiently for his student to finish, making sure not to intrude upon his privacy. From his vantage point atop the tree, he had a bird's eye view of his surroundings, but his attention was fixed on the small ceremony Naruto was preparing for one of the late Sannin.

Naruto carved out the final stroke on the tombstone that was to be the memorial for his late Master. He blew a huge breath on the rock before dusting any stray dust and minute dirt off the tombstone. Tucking his kunai back into his weapons pouch, he gingerly took the paper bouquet of flowers he had received from Konan and placed it before the tombstone. Next to it was the copy of the first book that Jiraiya had ever written.

Kakashi gave a small smile as he admired his student's handiwork, half-impressed that Naruto had been able to come up with something so simple yet bearing such a huge symbol to Jiraiya.

Clapping his hands together and bowing his head in respect, Naruto offered a short, silent prayer in remembrance. As Naruto stood, he locked his hands together and stretched, sighing loudly. His mentor's son rubbed his neck gingerly as he turned and walked away from the memorial grave, yawning.

Kakashi followed from a distance as Naruto started his journey back to the village. The blond was clearly exhausted. He wasn't even able to get a few more steps in before the mere act of walking was already too taxing for him. Naruto had his hands on his head, clutching at it loosely as his features twisted into a pained grimace.

The former ANBU Captain had seen enough.

Leaping off from the tree branch, Kakashi landed lightly in front of Naruto and bent his legs to cushion his student's fall. In the end, he resorted to give Naruto a piggy-back ride to the village. Kakashi turned his head slightly and gave his student his customary eye smile.

"Good work, Naruto."

Naruto gave the taller man a lazy smile in return, his words slurring. "Yo, Kakashi-sensei. Where'd you come from? How'd you know where I'd drop dead?"

"A sensei always knows, Naruto," Kakashi told him. "Just go ahead and rest up. You look like you need it."

"Oh~kay..."

The trek back to the village was accompanied by a comfortable silence, with both teacher and student preferring to bask in warmth of the sun's rays and the soothing sound of the forest inhabitants. Kakashi continued to shift his student's weight from side to side throughout the journey before he suddenly voiced his opinion regarding a suspect matter.

"Ah, Naruto? You're getting lighter."

The teen merely groaned in response. "Ugh, I feel weird, sensei."

Naruto raised his hands up, eyeing his strangely intangible left hand. That had got Kakashi's attention. The Jounin grabbed Naruto by his still tangible forearm, examining the phenomenon up close. He reached out with a finger where Naruto's hand would have been, but it just passed through harmlessly.

"Strange..."

Wait, make those hands. "The hell is this?!"

Bending down, Kakashi leaned his student against one of the adjacent trees, revealing his sole Sharingan eye as he gave Naruto a brief look-over. The Sharingan didn't detect any outside interference of chakra that one would expect from a Genjutsu. So, was it some sort of reaction to unleashing the Kyuubi's chakra? Or a strange new teleportation technique by the immortal Uchiha? Unseen by Naruto, he bit the inside of his lips, unable to come up with a reason and a solution to his student's strange vanishing act. Kakashi tried to put his hands on the blond's shoulders only for it to pass through him.

Naruto cried out in confusion, "Wha-What should I do?"

Kakashi gazed at his student intently. "Listen to me." The sharp tone of his voice snapped the blond out of his confusion; it was the tone that commanded attention and carried with it the experience and knowledge one would only attain from a life on the battlefield. "Stay calm. We don't what's doing this to you, but it is reasonable to assume that this is some form of teleportation technique. We don't know where or who the source is, so that's why the first thing I want you to do is to be aware of your surroundings and retreat to a safe location." He rapped a finger against his student's still tangible head. "Do you understand?"

"And if it's Akatsuki?"

Kakashi's grim look did nothing to ease Naruto's anxiety.

"Run."

Neither did his words.

"Once you're clear, I want you to find a way to open a line of communication with the village. That should be your main priority. Use one of your toad summ"

Kakashi's attention was suddenly directed to the loud rumble of thunder and the gathering of dark clouds in the sky above. The unnatural way that the clouds were beginning to form a spiral felt like a tight fist was clenched around his heart. It only encouraged his theory that it was linked to Madara. Feeling that time was wasting away, he turned back to Naruto, whose eyes were beginning to droop from what he assumed was the exhaustion of being the focal point of the technique.

"S-Sensei," Naruto managed to wheeze out.

It was surreal for the former ANBU Captain to witness such a sight. Even without the aid of his Sharingan, he could clearly see a deep red energy mixed with slight hints of blue leaving his student's body as the tendrils of the energy began to drift up towards the circular opening in the sky.

The small form of Katsuya wormed her way out from the collar of Naruto's jacket. She quickly hopped over to Kakashi's offered hand. "I'm relaying the details to the relevant parties," the feminine slug explained. "It would be unwise for certain factions to have this information."

Kakashi nodded absently, his attention firmly fixed on the blond. There was a familiar feeling of dread creeping up his spine. It wasn't supposed to pan out this way, he reasoned. The vow to his fallen comrades was breaking right before his eyes. Taking a breath, Kakashi steeled himself and locked his gaze with his student, his mismatched pair of eyes burning with intensity as he conveyed the assurance behind his words.

"Naruto," he said slowly and firmly. "Remember what you have to do and we'll do the rest. We won't abandon our teammates to their fates. We will bring you back."

Naruto tried to grin, but the act felt half-hearted. "You'd better..."

Even with all his years of experience on the battlefield, Kakashi could not stop the sharp intake of breath that escaped his lips as the last visible clump of blond hair vanished before his eyes. The remaining tendrils of energy previously wafting around Naruto's person were now wafting up towards the opening in the sky. As fast as it happened, it ended. The sky calmed considerably as the dark ominous clouds dispersed, gradually restoring the weather as it had been previously—a balmy summer's day.

Kakashi stood up, finally sensing the response ANBU unit edging closer towards their location. As he waited for the unit to arrive, he had to stifle a groan. How was he ever going to explain the situation to Hokage-sama?

Ah...

He reluctantly groaned as he remembered the condition Tsunade-sama was currently in. Scratch that previous thought. Who was going to be the designated interim Hokage? Don't say it was going to be...

Damn.


0.0

On an entirely different dimension, a blue-haired teen had no such qualms to hold back a sigh of exhaustion and contempt for his wayward father.

Jellal Fernandes, or as he preferred to be called under his alias, Mystogan (so as not to be confused with his evil counterpart or his other evil counterpart's twin psychic projection), rushed towards the latest Anima gate that had just recently opened into the Royal Kingdom of Edolas. It didn't help matters that he had to traverse a considerable distance to reach the forest located to the far west of the Royal Capital.

In all the years of suppressing the Anima, Mystogan had to acknowledge that the considerable effort on his part was starting to wear him down, considering the number of small Anima gates that had sprouted in the past couple of months. At times, he had to remind himself that it was not a matter of teenage rebellion that led him down his current path.

Even so, it seemed that a majority of the Anima's appearance in Earthland was randomised. From what little information he could glean from the capital, only a small percentage was able to pinpoint and extract a magical being. Mystogan shuddered at the thought of an Anima gate being powerful enough to extract a large concentration of magical energy, especially if it was directed at one of the major towns. Then, he would truly be unable to suppress it.

He only hoped that such an event would never occur.

As Mystogan neared the site of the Anima gate, he reached behind his back to ready his most trusted stave, the one Master Makarov had once mentioned looked like a duck butt's from a certain angle on his rare and infrequent visits to the guild.

He was not amused.

At the centre of the gate, Mystogan slammed his stave on the ground hard enough for bits and pieces of the Earth to be chipped away. It produced a large magical seal beneath his feet. He began chanting away furiously in the ancient language, fuelling the magic in his stave into the surrounding air. There was a distinct and unholy intensity building up in the atmosphere as he willed the Anima gate to return to Earthland. As the pressure reached its tipping point, a powerful shockwave emanated from the magic seal below him, forcing him off his feet as he was blown back by the tremendous force.

Slowly, the gate began the process of sealing itself as the dark clouds began to disperse into the vast sky, once again reverting back to its original, tranquil blue.

Mystogan had fallen to his knees, breathing deeply. His trusted stave was carelessly strewn on a clump of grass a few metres away from him. The process of suppressing the Anima was no ordinary feat. Before, he realised that his control and ability to withstand the pressure and complexity of the sealing process had increased as he aged. No doubt the experience he had gained over the years had attributed to this. Strangely, this particular gate felt... different. Never had he been pushed this close to his limit.

Mystogan was reminded of the time when he had first started out, and his uncertainty and lack of experience had caused him to fail. He was at least relieved that he had been able to suppress this gate before he lost control. Standing, he caught his breath and dusted off the dirt that had accumulated on his knees.

Occasionally, he'd wished that someone somewhere was actually sucked into the Anima, and only by his unyielding determination and intervention, said person was able to return back to Earthland where they would be reunited with their loved ones.

Mystogan looked up towards the sky, and for the first time in three years since he started wandering both dimensions in an effort to suppress the Anima, saw a rainbow beyond the Royal Yosemite Mountain Ridge.

He smiled.

Said person better damn well appreciate his hard work.


0.0

In his office at the Royal Castle in the Royal Capital of the Royal City of Edolas, Byro had a noticeable twitch in his right eye. He glared at the male messenger in front of him. "Wh-What does this mean?" the Chief of Staff of the Royal Army managed to breathe out despite the huge imaginary pressure crushing his chest.

"W-What uh, does t-this mean, sir? Well..." the hooded messenger repeated the question, apparently unsure of the answer he had to give to satisfy his superior. "It's ju-just as I reported, sir. T-The Anima has failed to extract the subject." He shakily flipped through the report in his hands. "It appears the uh, Anima has been released into Earthland instead of Edolas."

Byro slammed his hands on the desk, leaning over it to grab the offending report from the clueless messenger, only for his stocky build to overestimate his reach, prompting him to fall face first on the ground. Snarling angrily as he stood up, he snatched the report away from the messenger.

"Give me that, you clueless simpleton!" He skimmed through the report, the major events of the operation having already being highlighted. Tons of hastily scribbled texts lined the small margins between the sentences, explaining in greater detail of the malfunctions that took place. "Get me the technicians!" he snarled, fingers clenched tightly as he crumpled the report with a satisfying crunch.

The messenger remained rooted to the ground. "Sir?"

"You heard me! Get me the technicians! Run!" Byro half-screamed simultaneously into the hips of the man before him, his goblin-like stature allowing him to only reach up just below the messenger's hips.

"Yes, sir!" The messenger saluted his superior before dashing out of the office, taking the opportunity to get as far away from the incensed Chief of Staff as possible.

Byro flung the offending report across the room, causing it to harmlessly bounce off one of the walls. He grabbed his head in frustration. The Anima itself would not be ready again for a few days at best. The failure to extract such a potent and large source of magical energy would be detrimental to the Kingdom and Dorma Anim, the brainchild which he had concocted in collaboration with the King.

He stifled a gasp, remembering the figurative guillotine hanging over his head. His heart was beating wildly in his chest as he contemplated how he was ever going to explain this mess to King Faust. The King was adamant about hearing a positive outcome for this decisive operation. After all, it had consumed the man's thoughts to the point that he had started obsessing since the incident.

Byro would be lying if it hadn't plagued his thoughts as well.

Ever since discovering the massive energy flare on what he could finally deign to be a new dimension, he had scoured the library, reading almost, if not all the ancient texts that had been housed in the Royal Castle. What he managed to find were vague scribbles found in the margins of an ancient journal that was rumoured to belong to a legendary mage from a time before the founding of the Kingdom: the possibility of other worlds outside Edolas, even Earthland.

He had salivated at the thought, not only for the magical resources that they would be able to extract in these other worlds, but also the knowledge he would be able to glean.

Byro glanced at the clock in his office, absentmindedly gulping as he noticed the time. King Faust had demanded a report within the next five minutes. Perhaps it was better to send one of the mindless messengers first. He did not want to be the one to break the news of failure to the King.

He wasafter allnot a man to be displeased.


0.0

"Kyaaa!" the brunette woman screeched, clutching one hand over the garment on her head, and with the other, shielding her eyes from the fierce winds whipping across the countryside of Fiore. "Hurry, Gardin!" she shouted over the din of the storm to her son. "The clothes will get soaked!"

The young man tsked impatiently, sprinting the short distance across the entrance of the family cottage to the clothesline at the other end. His dark brown hair was damp and fluttering in the wind. Not to mention, there was an uncomfortable 'swooshing' sensation in his ears due to the abnormally strong winds.

It was odd to say the least.

One minute he was tending to the animals in the barn and the next thing he knew, dark clouds and the familiar rumblings of thunder gathered in the skies above. It didn't take a genuis to sense that there was something unnatural afoot.

He shivered at the thought.

Gardin had always harboured the desire to be a mage and to a certain extent, join a guilda life full of excitement and adventure. However, his parents had been strongly against the idea, preferring their only son to remain with them to tend to the family farm. Ever since discussing his intentions to become a mage, his relationship with them had been somewhat strained.

The boy winced as the wind suddenly picked up, distractedly feeling a stinging sensation just under his left eye. He ignored it and pushed on, forcefully grabbing what little clothes remained on the clothesline and sprinted back to the cottage. He almost dived in when he crossed the threshold to his house.

His mother immediately slammed the door behind him, her back pressed against it as she slumped to the floor. She looked towards the window with a faint crease dotting her forehead. "What a violent storm."

Gardin shook his head slowly. "You have nae to be worried about, mum. I'm sure dad's holed up in some inn back in the village, waiting out the storm like the rest of us." He hoped. After all, his father was naturally hot-headed and reckless. He was a bit worried that the man would brave the storm just to fill out the orders of the local merchants.

He wiped the mixture of sweat and rain off his brow before having to stifle a gasp, only now registering the pain under his eye. Gingerly, he dabbed it with the back of his hand.

Blood.

His eyes widened in shock. He had heard of mages capable of manipulating wind to such a powerful extent that it could cut through rocks. Powers like that were only considered to be just above average. Ignoring his mother's attempt to sterilise and clean the wound, he rushed towards the nearby window.

What is possible? Was the unnatural storm a result of a powerful mage?

He had never felt so excited in his life. Never had he had the pleasure of seeing real magic in action, and not the simple run-of-the-mill trinkets you'd buy at the local stores.

The dark skies above began to swirl around an opening in the centre of the storm. Much like a doughnut in that sense, he thought. So transfixed on the scene above him, he was caught unprepared as a sudden flash of lightning blinded his vision. Gardin instinctively brought up his arms over his face. Rapidly blinking his eyes, he waited impatiently for them to re-adjust to the sudden brightness, not wanting to miss seeing more of the magic-induced storm.

His hope of seeing an incredible feat of magicone that many would consider to be a miraclewas dashed. He couldn't help but feel sorely disappointed, but slowly his prior disappointment turned to confusion. Although the heavy rainfall did not subside, the violent storm had calmed somewhat.

Turning back to his mum, he allowed her to mother him, feeling incredibly cozy as she wrapped a warm towel around his body. He half-heartedly listened to his mother muttering on and on about those dangerous mages as she tried to clean the wound.

"Up to no good, I tell you, messing around with all that unnaturalness..." The young man sighed, his mind drifting in and out of the one-sided conversation. "Why, can you imagine what would've happened if that magic had hit your eye? You'd best get use to seeing the world through just one eye then!"

Gardin blinked, absent-mindedly his hand hovered over his wound, after having just realized that he never considered the possibility of that happening. The boy gulped nervously.

Maybe there was some truth to the simple life after all.


Side Note: Prologue over.

Timeline: In canon, I'm guessing it is around X784, but this premise starts roughly three years before that. So, Naruto would be sixteen, the same with Erza and Mirajane. Wendy will be about nine and roughly by this time, Lisanna's fourteen and would be dead within a year so... you know the rest.

Pairings: Well, that will remain undecided, I didn't go into this story with a definitive pairing, but I am leaning towards the big three, but not so much on Erza really. She has a lot of emotional baggage with the men in her life, which sadly, revolves around the same person.

Anima: Like some of you, I was disappointed with the way the Anima was portrayed. Canon presented us with plenty of plotholes, but that will leave me with the excuse that the Anima's working will remain a mystery and a possible plot device for the future. In my mind, the release of the nine-tails attracted a magical flare in the Anima's readings, something similar occurring when Naruto was born in the Elemental Nations, but I assumed the Anima was still in the development stages and was unable to act on it.

I'm working under the assumption that these tailed beast are beings of immense energy. With Kurama being the most powerful beast, it was the only one Anima was able to track.


Next Chapter: Earthland Survival Guide