Chapter 54: Can you Handle the Truth?
"Fairy Tail"- Regular Speech
'Fairy Tail'- Regular Thoughts
"Fairy Tail"- Flashbacks
"Fairy Tail"- Dragon/Demon/Monster Speech/Names of Spells
'Fairy Tail'- Dragon/Demon/Monster thoughts
Fairy Tail- Stating of the year or a place
Summary: I was told I was alone...in a world where NAKAMA were every person's desire. Then HE found me, he said he saw great potential in my small body and he raised me. Because of him I lived...I learned...and I finally found someone I could call nakama. Even if he didn't call me the same. That is why I will do whatever I can to live up to his name. As the son and dragonslayer of the greatest being I have ever met. Acnologia, the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse.
Fairy Tail Guildhouse, Magnolia Town, Fiore
The guys were shouting and making bets as Elfman arm wrestled with Gildarts. The red haired Crash Magicuser was by no means a weak man as the majority of Fairy Tail's mages were capable of shattering wood through pure physical strength, and despite his flesh and blood arm being his non-dominant limb, the Ace of Fairy Tail was by not any weaker for it. However, against a giant like Elfman, whose hand could have easily held Gildarts's head in its palm, the challenge seemed to somewhat excite him. The white haired Take Over mage gave a small smirk to his opponent as he turned to Cana who had been managing the betting pools.
"Oi, Cana?! Gimme a count down!"
"OSU!" Cana downed the remnants of alcohol from her barrel, slamming it down harshly into the floor as she hopped to her feet. "ALRIGHT EVERYBODY! COUNT DOWN WITH ME!" The other members of Fairy Tail all cheered alongside their resident alcoholic. "Let's see if Elfman can back up his bravado! Can he finally stick it to my shitty old man?!"
"Do you really have to call me that in front of everyone?"
"You took seventeen years to figure out I was your daughter." She argued with a deadpan gaze. "Ergo, thou art a shitty old man."
"You're lucky I love you, Cana."
Cana grinned widely at her father before raising three fingers into the air and the guild responded in stereo.
Elfman suddenly released a burst of magic energy as his arm glowed and transformed. "Take Over: Beast King Arm!" His arm transformed into the clawed, furry arm of his Beast King and a sudden surge of strength caught even Gildarts off-guard as he watched his arm being pushed down. The wooden table cracked beneath their elbows with each passing second as Gildarts's arm grew closer and closer to the table's surface.
"Elfman, you've gotten good at using your magic since I've been gone." Gildarts praised the younger mage and Elfman managed a confident smile through his grunts of effort. "But...you've still got a lot to learn before you're ready to beat me." Gildarts suddenly released his grip on Elfman's hand and pulled his arm back. Elfman's eyes widened as the Ace of Fairy Tail suddenly used the space left between his hand and the table to then shift his arm back forward with a surge of strength and clasped Elfman's hand in a more powerful grip. The momentum behind his motion pushed Elfman's arm back and earth met sky for the Strauss male as the red haired Crash Magic user had sent Elfman off his seat and slamming through the wooden table. The table was no longer able to resist the abuse it had been dealt by the two mages and so the table shattered as Elfman was sent straight through to the floor.
"WOOOOOOOOAH!" The guild released cries of excitement and awe as Elfman's own shocked expression shifted between his own hand and the smiling face of the S-Class mage before him.
"What...What the hell was that?"
"Just a simple utilization of speed over power. I pulled back to make a space between my hand and yours so that I could push my hand forward with some speed and override your strength with pure momentum. Though, I will admit, I was only going 40 percent my full strength so don't be too disappointed because it shows you've gotten a lot stronger." Gildarts grinned as he grabbed Elfman by the forearm and easily pulled the taller mage back to his feet, clapping him on the shoulder.
The older mage was then grabbed by his automail arm as his daughter raised said limb into the air. "WINNER! MY SHITTY OLD MAN!"
Gildarts sweatdropped at the brown haired woman's proclamation and could not resist the urge to shake his head at the rest of the guild as their cheers of excitement once again filled the guild house. "Again. Very lucky that I love you, Cana."
"Love you too, O-tou-san!" She put emphasis on each syllable as she watched Gildarts's face seem to melt into an expression of pure fatherly joy. "But not as much as my booze." The red haired man sighed, shaking his head as he watched his daughter release his automail arm and latch onto the barrel that Mira was supplying to the brown haired mage.
'She's my daughter alright.' He thought as he watched her uncork the barrel and begin to chug it contents.
"Oi, Gildarts!" A smirk adorned the S-Class mage's face as he turned to the guild's resident Ice Godslayer. "You up for a round two?"
"Meh, why not?" Gildarts shrugged. "Judging from your overconfident asshole persona, you need to be taken down a peg or two. Also...please stop taking your clothes off in front of me."
Gray scowled as he glanced down at his body and found his shirt resting on the floor ten feet away from his current position. "How the hell did it get all the way over there?"
These events which contributed to the makings of a normal day in Fairy Tail were just what the Ice Godslayer needed after all the madness that had occurred in Edolas. He continued to glare at his discarded shirt, not aware of him unconsciously removing his pants as he prepared to drag over another table to place between himself and the Ace of Fairy Tail. He suddenly paused in both retrieving the table and taking off his pants. His ears twitched and his head perked up as he heard an odd sound.
"Sounds like it's coming from outside the guild." He mumbled to himself as he turned to the wide open doors of the guild. His eyes narrowed as he looked out at the blue sky, clouds drifting lazily by. His obsidian orbs then widened as one of the clouds suddenly had a hole punched through it. The image of a fast approaching object made itself known as it revealed itself to be the source of the sound, that very sound growing louder and louder with each passing second. He then took note that the object was a dark shade of blue and the sound he heard began to register as an actual word. A word that he knew to be own name.
"By the dragons." Gray muttered. His head swung from side to side as he searched for cover. He had taken too long to realize it was her and so he raised his arms. "No time to dodge! Gotta block!"
The other members of Fiore's strongest guild all watched event unfold and could only wince and offer their condolences to the poor Ice Make user. The full weight of a seventeen year old, blue haired Water Dragonslayer flying in through the guild's entrance at near mach speeds slammed into his arms, but it did little to reduce the force behind her impact as Chojuro released Juvia from his grip and their momentum sent both elemental mages rolling across the guild floor. Tables, chairs and people were not spared as they were scattered like ten pins before the two mages came to a halt with Gray groaning in pain as he lay on his back, both it and his chest a glowing red from the impacts of both Juvia's face and the floor.
"Gray-sama! Gray-sama! Gray-sama!" The daughter of Levia nuzzled the source of her unrequited love with a content sigh. She then adjusted herself, sitting up and straddling the pained form of her beloved. "Juvia has returned for you, Gray-sama. Did Gray-sama miss Juvia as much as Juvia missed Gray-sama?"
"Uuuuuugh." Gray groaned. "As of five seconds ago...not anymore."
Juvia blinked her blue eyes owlishly and tilted her head as she processed the Ice Godslayer's words. She then bore an intense blush along with a toothy grin as she once again embraced the shirtless ice user. "Juvia knew it! Juvia knew Gray-sama loved her otherwise Gray-sama would never have said he missed Juvia!"
"Juvia..." Gray released a light sob from his place on the ground. "Why must you do this, Juvia? Why?"
"Because Juvia loves Gray-sama as Gray-sama is Juvia's chosen mate and must continuously act to make her claim." The Water Dragonslayer replied with a stiff nod before turning back just as Gajeel was flown in through the doors by Pantherlily. "See Gajeel-san! Juvia told you Gray-sama loved her!"
"Oh dear, what have I done?" Chojuro muttered as he nervously adjusted his glasses.
"Well, you probably assisted in something that would have happened normally." Gajeel replied as he was rested onto the ground. The moment his feet touched down, Pantherlily climbed up from between Gajeel's shoulders and promptly sat himself down atop his dragonslayer partner's head. Pantherlily tilted his head in confusion, a sweatdrop forming on the back of his head as he continued to observe the rather intimate scene between Juvia and Gray.
"This act of affection from Juvia...this isn't an Earthland custom?"
"Nope." Gajeel replied with a shrug. "That's just Juvia being Juvia. She's got it really bad for that idiot icicle."
"Sh-Sh-Should I stop them?" Chojuro asked, a blush adorning his face as he watched Juvia beginning to openly grind her body against Gray's own. "Th-Th-This is very indecent behaviour!"
"Leave the girl alone, Chojuro. This is something you're going to have to get used to with Juvia being your partner, so let her have her fun." The son of Metalicana said with a nonchalant tone. He then shifted his crimson eyes downward as the sound of approaching footsteps came to a halt in front of him. Brown eyes stared up at him as Levy gave a pout of disappointment.
"Gajeel. Why'd you take so long to get back?" Levy asked.
"Juvia and I had some stuff to take care of. Dragonslayer business." His red eyes then brightened as he turned his gaze skyward as a gesturing motion to the panther-like Exceed seated upon his head. "But on the plus side, I got me my own cat partner! His name is Pantherlily, but I call him Lily! Ain't he so much cooler than that stupid Happy?"
"Pleased to meet your acquaintance, Levy."
"You know my name?"
"Of course, Gajeel speaks quite highly of you. He says you're very bright, which, in his own words, is a good thing because everyone else are a bunch of idiots." The blue haired Solid Script mage blinked owlishly as she shifted her gaze between Gajeel and the floor.
"You...You think I'm bright?" Levy asked with a small blush.
"Of course. You're the smartest one in this entire guild." Levy's blush only intensified, a growing smile forming on her face as she registered the words of praise.
"I see." Pantherlily nodded. "Though when you mentioned Levy to me I assumed she'd..."
"Have bigger boobs?"
Levy's smile dropped and she felt as if an arrow was shot through her chest.
"I was going to say taller."
Another metaphorical arrow nailed her in the head and Levy felt her legs give out from under her. She fell to her knees and held her hands against her chest. Gajeel and Pantherlily sweatdropped as they watched the diminutive mage mutter to herself. Certain words and phrases like 'Fairy Tail girls', 'worthless pieces of fat' and 'gargantuan amazons' were a few of things they managed to pick up on.
"I think we hit a nerve." Lily whispered.
"Yeah. I forgot to mention that she's kinda sensitive about that stuff given how everyone in the guild is taller and the girls have bigger boobs than her."
"Then why did you say what you said?"
"...Shut up." Gajeel scowled before turning back to the sole female of Team Shadowgear. "Oi, Squirt. You okay? You wanna pet Lily?" Levy stopped her mutterings and Gajeel internally shuddered as he was faced with the most indifferent expression he had ever had the displeasure of looking at. Her brown eyes then shifted to meet the black ones of the sword wielding Exceed.
The two stared at one another, childish curiosity meeting feline apathy as a period of silence passed between the two of them.
"Cute." She muttered her thought aloud. She then looked up at Gajeel. "I wanna pet him."
"I think this something that deserves my own input." Lily was effectively ignored as the Iron Dragonslayer handed him over to the diminutive Solid Script mage. Lily was ready to voice his objections, but immediately became compliant when she began to scratch behind his ears. "Nevermind. I'm fine here. Gajeel, you are no longer my partner. I like Levy better."
"That isn't even funny, Lily." Gajeel deadpanned before his eyes brightened in realization. "OH! WAIT! SQUIRT, I FORGOT TO SHOW YOU THIS! NO WAIT! EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS! OI, SHIT HEADS LOOK AT WHAT MY CAT CAN DO!"
All the guild members became silent as they turned their heads in the direction of the Iron Dragonslayer. Some were a bit more aggravated than others due to not taking to being called shit heads very kindly.
"What is it, Gajeel?" Mirajane asked. Gajeel's toothy grin threatened to split his face as he took Pantherlily from Levy and rested him in the centre of the growing circle of mages.
"Do the thing, Lily."
"Gajeel..." Pantherlily sweatdropped. "Using my ability takes a great deal of magic energy to perform. Surely you don't expect me to waste such power for a simple act such as entertaining the other members of this guild?"
"That's exactly what I expect you to do." Gajeel immediately replied causing Pantherlily to face fault. "Now come on, just do the thing!"
"Fine, but I'm doing this out of simple amusement again after this. Never again."
"Yeah, yeah, quit yer belly achin' and just show them your cool shit."
"I would just to say that I now officially stand by my statement that I like Levy better than you." Pantherlily sighed at how his partner simply gave him the middle finger before giving him a motion of encouragement for him to transform. The ebony furred Exceed untied the Bustermarm from his back and all eyes watched in fascination as his body glowed with white light.
All eyes widened as they looked upon the six foot tall, anthropomorphic feline.
"That's right, let it sear itself into your feeble brains that my cat is the best fucking cat in the history of cats!" Gajeel cackled. "That blue furred fish-eating piece of fluff is no match for the level of epicness that is Lily!"
"I think a name like Lily kinda lowers the cool-ness factor a bit." Jet said.
"NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR OPINION!" Lily and Gajeel snapped at the orange haired Speed Magic user. "The only opinion that matters right now is Salamander's! You see this shit, Salamander! My cat is the best fucking cat and-!" The black haired mage looked around the crowd, his outburst dying down in a hum of confusion as he scratched his head. "Where's Salamander?"
"Natsu said he needed to go and take a walk and think about some stuff." Levy replied as she caught Lily in her arms after he reverted back to his original form. "Lu-chan went with him too."
"Salamander? Take a walk? Think?" Gajeel looked down at Levy in disbelief. "That's impossible. Salamander doesn't think."
"He has a point." The other guild members commented.
Gajeel released a growl in annoyance. "Man, I really wanted to show off Lily. Where would he go at this time of the day?"
Outskirts of Magnolia Town, Fiore
A gentle breeze blew through the land and Lucy couldn't help but marvel at its beauty. The grass was a healthy shade of emerald green that came to a halt a few feet away from the edge of the cliff that overlooked a few grassy hills and a wide river which glittered in the noon-day sun as it meandered through the valley that the hills created. White clouds drifted lazily through the wide expanse of blue above their heads with a flock of birds flying in a V-formation towards their nesting grounds.
Lucy would have verbally commented on the beauty of the location, and she would have actually teased Natsu for having allowed her to come with him to such a pretty and secluded area. Of course she couldn't make that joke since firstly, Happy was there with them and also because...
Brown eyes reflected the saddened expression on her face as she shifted her gaze away from the scenery and focused on the images of her best friend and the blue furred Exceed. The Celestial Spirit mage remained silent as she looked towards the Fire Dragonslayer. She cast a momentary glance at the dome-shaped hideout made of sticks which had entrance big enough for a child to fit through.
"You said you two made this back when you were kids, right?"
"Yup." Natsu grinned toothily. "Best secret hideout ever made on this side of Fiore."
"I'm surprised you were able to make this last so long." Lucy commented.
Natsu grin morphed into a small smile. "I come here every day when I'm not busy at the guild to make sure it's still standing. I'm just as surprised as you that it hasn't fallen over."
"Think you can still fit inside?" Lucy joked. She then sweatdropped when the pink haired dragonslayer gained a thoughtful expression and proceeded to put his thoughts into action. His entire head and torso were now inside the small dome with his butt sticking up in the air as if he were in a downward dog yoga position.
"Hey ummm Luce?"
"I don't think I can still fit inside." Whether it was from his current predicament or from the concerned tone in his muffled voice, Happy and Lucy could not help but laugh at the dragonslayer, their laughter only increasing as he pulled himself out of the hideout and snorted out the little pieces of dirt and stick that he happened to inhale. He stuck out his tongue at his two best friends like the mature mage that he was before making his way over to sit in front of the hideout...or rather, what was it front of it. Happy sat down on the pink haired mage's left, while Lucy made herself comfortable on the right.
The three members of Fairy Tail looked upon the gravestone with somber expressions.
The grave was an approximately two foot tall tapered pentagon that was made of grey stone and rested atop a one foot tall cuboid made of the same material. The face of the grave bore the image of an upside-down tapered pentagon with what looked like tassels having been carved to hang from the lowest point of the pentagon. Five lines were carved on either side of the pentagon to stretch across from the pentagon's vertical edges to the edges of the gravestone itself and were made in such a way that it gave the pentagon the appearance that it was shining and the lines were representing the image of rays of light. Decorating the face of the upside-down pentagon was the symbol of Fairy Tail, its once bright red image now faded and dulled from the passage of time. At its base, the grave had few words inscribed into it.
Lisanna Strauss, X767-782. You disappeared...I'm sorry I couldn't find you.
"It's a very pretty gravestone." Lucy commented.
"I personally got one for here." Natsu stated. "Mira and Elfman, everyone at the guild pitched in to officially have her buried at the cathedral's cemetery and that's usually where Mira and Elfman go on the anniversary of her death. But me...Lisanna and I, we would always come here to play and talk and stuff. We found Happy's egg one day in the forest and we hatched it together, right here. I thought it was a dragon egg."
"You would." Happy snorted.
"Yeah." Natsu chuckled. "We spent most of our time together here at this spot. So, I wanted to kinda keep it like that. I got this gravestone specifically for her and myself so that she'd always be here at our hideout."
"Can you..." Lucy looked back at the gravestone and pointed at the inscription. "Can you tell me what that means? Since this is your personal gravestone for her, it's probably something you hold close to the heart...I don't want to dig up any harsh feelings for you and if you don't wanna talk about it, I completely understand."
(Insert Music: Fairy Tail- Tsuioku Mezameru Tamashii)
"Nah, it's alright Luce." The son of Igneel said with a shake of his head. He turned to Happy and patted his partner on the head affectionately. "This was a bit before Happy was born, back when we were kids..." Natsu smiled softly as he recalled the memory of his childhood days with Lisanna. "She had gotten lost from going into the forest. I searched for her for so long until I finally found her. She was crying her eyes out and she couldn't have been happier to see me, that stupid crybaby. She had asked me afterwards that is she ever got lost again, if I would find her. I made a promise..." His hands clenched into tight fists as he gritted his teeth. "...I promised her that if she ever disappeared again that I would find her, that I would always find her."
"But yeah, that's what the inscription means." The Fire Dragonslayer said. "It's quite literal...and I...when I couldn't find her that day. I promised that I would find her and when she...I couldn't find her, Lucy. I broke my promise and I let her down."
"So the reason you looked as happy as you did when you saw her face again in Edolas..."
"She used to be the person that I would...I would have one day liked to make her my everything. She was kind, strong, courageous, she was like a living embodiment of the innocence and heart that Ji-chan would talk about that Fairy Tail represented when we were younger. Of course, things have changed now that we're older, but still...Lisanna and I...I grew up with her, we did everything together. She supported me and had my back through thick and thin even during the moments before she died. We raised Happy together and when we were kids, she would say I was her husband and she was the wife with Happy as our baby. As a kid, I got embarrassed like hell when she told me that, but when we got older...I would have one day liked to have made that idea into something real."
Lucy frowned as she looked at the Fire Dragonslayer as he blinked rapidly. The sun shone down upon them and the brown eyed Celestial Spirit mage caught the glint of her best friend's tears as he fought to prevent them from falling. The moment she saw them, her own emotional barriers began to break down, tears of her own forming in her eyes. Her fists were clenched as tightly as how her heart was feeling in her chest.
"You...You loved her."
He nodded. "Without a doubt."
Lucy watched as he held his hand out to the gravestone, but his arm stopped just short from actually making contact. "When I saw her again, when I saw her Edolas counterpart at least...I thought I would never see her face again. Those blue eyes and white hair...I never thought I would ever hear her laugh and I never thought I would get the chance to touch her. She was right in front of me and...I knew we had a goal in mind when we were in Edolas. We had shit to do with the Fuujin and Wendy, so I didn't let it get to me, but now that I'm back here...Lucy, it almost broke me to see that she was right in front of me, so close and yet...it wasn't her. It wasn't this world's...It wasn't my Lisanna Strauss. Sometimes, the universe is just so fucking unfair."
The tightening feeling in her chest increased and Lucy gritted her teeth. It was almost exactly the same feeling she felt when she went to her mother's grave site, when she learned that Layla Heartfilia had died, but there was one clear difference between the sorrow she felt back then and the sympathy she felt beside Natsu. It was the feeling of jealousy she felt. She couldn't resist it. She couldn't resist the feelings that came with how much emotion and care Natsu spoke with when he talked about Lisanna. It made her angry at herself because she knew it was an asshole thing to do. To feel such things in the face of your grieving friend, how could she let herself do such a thing? It pissed her off to know end and she wanted to just have an out-of-body experience so she could punch herself in the face and tell her to stop being jealous. Unfortunately, she was not capable of such magecraft and so she could only do one thing, and that was to swallow it, push it down and in spite of the emotional pain she would be forced to endure, do what she did best. Be the friend he needed.
She placed herself on her knees and wrapped Natsu in a comforting embrace which the pink haired dragonslayer was more than welcoming to receive. She rubbed his back and kissed him atop his head.
"You're right, Natsu. The world is fucking unfair, but you're wrong about letting her down." Lucy's conviction was strong and the Fire Dragonslayer looked up at his guild mate with wide eyed expression on his tear streaked face. "You couldn't prevent what happened. People die, Natsu, but I'm sure that if you had been there when it all happened, you would have done everything in your power to fight and stop it all." She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him on the forehead. "You are a kind..." She kissed him on the cheek. "...generous," She kissed his other cheek. "...and strong person." She rested her forehead against his own and stared deeply into his dark coloured eyes. "You may be an idiot, but if you think for one second that the man I lo...look up to is someone who let's people down and goes back on his word, then you're not just an idiot. You're a damned fool and you will be for the rest of your life if you keep thinking that just because you couldn't prevent Lisanna's death that you've let her down!"
Intense chocolate brown eyes stared into shocked coal black ones. They felt each other's breaths against their faces.
"Lucy...I..." Natsu's face moved forward and the world seemed to slow down for the former heiress. Lucy could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she registered just how close they were, and just how much the distance was closing.
"Natsu, Lucy what are you..." Happy's voice fell on deaf ears as the two mages drew closer and closer to one another.
Lucy's mind raced. This was what she wanted. She cared for the pink haired mage as much as her heart would allow her to, and she held no doubt that there was the possibility that she cared for him more than that. She showed a bit of that affection before he fought those demons with Gray back on Edolas, kissing him on the cheek before he went off to battle. She could go further with him, right at this very moment. She could be there for him in his moment of vulnerability and grief, be his rock and be the shoulder to cry on and tell him everything will be alright. She wanted to be all those things and everything else for him, but...
Her grip on the dragonslayer's face suddenly tightened and then...she pushed him back.
'Not now...Not like this.' She thought.
The motion caught Natsu off-guard and he watched as Lucy looked down at the ground with a deep frown on her face, her bangs shielding her eyes from view. She then turned her face away from the ground and looked at the gravestone of Lisanna Strauss.
"How did she die, Natsu?" The question acted as the double-whammy for Lucy catching Natsu off-guard. The rose haired dragonslayer felt Lucy let go of his face and set herself back down on the ground. She wiped away the tears that she had been holding back, her gaze still focused on the grave.
"I want to know. When we were at the Fairy Tail in Edolas, the Fuujin told me about how Lisanna Strauss died and even though I had been at the guild for these past six months, I never once heard of her nor saw her before until that moment in Edolas. I asked him if he would tell me what happened, but despite everything that he is...he has his respect for the dead and those related to them. He said if I wanted to know, then it would be your story to tell." Lucy focused her attention onto her guildmate this time. "You've told me basically everything about her and your relationship with her. I now know a bit more than I did before, but I still don't know how she died."
Natsu blinked slowly as he glanced back at Happy. The blue furred Exceed could only blink as he was still trying to process what exactly had happened, or almost happened, right in front of his face.
(Insert Music: Sword Art Online- In Your Past)
"Alright." The Salamander of Fairy Tail swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat before nodding his head stiffly. "Well how Lisanna died, I wasn't there when it all happened, but the three of them; Mira, Elfman and Lisanna, they went on a mission in X782. The mission was to go into the mountains and deal with a monster that was terrorizing nearby villages and travelers. It was out for blood as there were reports of people dying and Rune Knights who were sent to investigate and find the bodies, they found them, but they lost a couple of their members when they tried to fight the thing. So, who better to fight a beast than those who could turn into them."
Lucy unknowingly held her breath as she waited for Natsu to continue his story.
"So they went off to fight it, but it was too strong. They said it could crush boulders with its fists and it even held its own against Mirajane's Satan Soul. The fight dragged on for hours and the thing was barely winded. They were all low on magic, they were wounded and there was no way out. They would have died on that day, but Elfman...he made a last ditch effort to try and win the fight and save his sisters. I would and could never blame him for what he did for the sake of his family, and to this day he still blames himself for what happened."
"He was still inexperienced at his Take Over Magic, it was why up until after the Phantom Lord war he never attempted a Full Body Take Over spell. He tried to do it on the beast. He succeeded in performing the spell...but the thing about Take Over Magic is that..."
"Your mind and will, your very soul needs to be strong enough to handle the form that you want to control." Lucy finished before her eyes widened in realization. "No. You're telling me that..."
"Yeah." Natsu frowned. "Elfman lost control of his beast form. Lisanna tried to talk to him, calm him down and turn back to normal, but he didn't listen, he was gone. Mira said she watched it all happen. She watched her brother take his monstrous arm and swing it at Lisanna. She flew through the air like a broken rag doll, like a puppet with its strings cut. She hit the ground hard. When they brought the body back and they ran an autopsy, the entire left side of her torso had been broken. Her organs ruptured and if that hadn't killed her then the impact she made with the ground would have as she had gotten severe head trauma. Essentially...Elfman killed his little sister. That event traumatized them and it's the reason why Mirajane never went on any missions after that. Well, actually...she started taking lighter missions after she underwent her period of bereavement, but even that proved too much for her. Mira used to be a sharp tongued bitchy person back in the day you know, part of the reason of why she was known as the Demon of Fairy Tail, but it seemed like she tried to cope with the loss by becoming a bit more like Lisanna. She became the Mira that you met when you walked through the doors after I saved you at the port, and she never fought again. I'd like to think they've finally moved on since they are both fighting on the front lines again, Mira's taking missions every now and then I noticed and Elfman has full control over his beast form. However, things were still harsh. They'll never truly get over it I think. I mean, it's been so long for me since Igneel left and I'm still tryin' to find that scaly bastard."
"I...I lost my mother. She died from disease, but...I never witnessed her passing." Lucy muttered. "Elfman, despite him not being in control, it was like he literally dealt the killing blow himself...and you said Mira saw it all happen? I could never fathom such a traumatic experience."
Natsu remained silent for a moment, watching as Happy reached into his neckerchief and rested down the bouquet of flowers he had been carrying.
"She liked lilies. They were her favourite." The winged feline stated. Happy then summoned his wings and hovered next to Lucy, both of them watching Natsu rise back to his feet. The dragonslayer dusted himself off before showing off his trademark grin.
"Alright! Well, time to head back to the guild! I totally want to be there when Erza tells Ji-chan that she's the Fuujin's sister!" He laughed before walking off towards the forest. Lucy couldn't help but laugh at her friend's excitement, but paused when she caught Happy's gaze.
"Happy? Something wrong?"
"Nothing, just..." Happy gave the blonde a small smile. "You're a good person, Lucy."
"Aye sir!" Happy waved a paw happily as he took to a higher altitude. "Still kinda heavy to carry around, but a good person nonetheless."
"I'LL MURDER YOU, CAT!"
(Insert Music: Fate Stay Night UBW 2015- Rin: Remembrance)
Hospital, Magnolia Town, Fiore
"So for how long have you known about your heritage?" Rin asked.
"I've known for a few months now, but it was a lot to take in, you know?" Erza replied. "I mean, I always thought I had been an orphan with no family. Fairy Tail, I always saw them as my family, but it's not the same thing as having actually blood relatives."
Rin nodded her head before getting up from her chair and knelt down in front of the red haired mage. The brown haired doctor cupped Erza's face in her hands before a smile graced her features, tears collecting at the edges of her eyes. "You...You really are your mother's child." Rin pulled Erza into a tight hug and Erza immediately returned it. The older woman's tears flowed without restraints and Erza rubbed the doctor's back as she shook from the unbridled emotion.
"You were such a beautiful baby and you grew up so splendidly. When I saw you, you reminded of your mother, Kushina-sama. To be able to see you grow up; to be able to see your parents teach you and your brother to be mages, to see your first battles, to help heal you back up from all the bruises and broken bones you would have had to endure."
"You always thought I was going to be a mage?"
"You're your parents' child. If you didn't become a fighter, then I would swear you were adopted." The two women laughed at the joke before Rin pulled back from the hug, her smile still present on her face. "You were...You were my goddaughter. I helped Tsunade-sama and Shizune birth you, I was there when Kushina-sama and Minato-sensei gave you your name."
"You gave me my name from what I was shown."
Rin's eyes widened. "You...You know about that?"
"I know a lot of things, Rin-san." Erza smiled softly. "Naruto showed me."
"Naruto?!" Rin's eyes widened even further, but then a look of realization came upon her face. "Back then, after everything that happened before and after the Fantasia Festival. You had me run a DNA test between you and someone with a strand of blonde hair!" Rin's hands flew up to cover her mouth as tears once again traced their way down her face. "So that means..."
"Mhmm." Erza nodded. "Onii-sama is alive as well, but unfortunately, Okaa-sama and Otou-sama were not able to share his fate."
"Minato-sensei and Kushina-sama..." A deep frown appeared on the doctor's face. "And if you're alive...I remember Makarov telling me about your past when we gave you your first psych eval after you came in. When you told me what you went through, it was horrific...being a slave for all those years. Tell me...since Kakashi and Obito were with you when the Lizardmen attacked...did they...?"
Erza shook her head. "The mages who captured us as slaves, they killed Obito Nii-san and Kakashi Nii-san."
"Oh...Oh by the dragons." Rin sobbed into her hands. "So everyone, they're all...All of them are gone." It was more of a statement than a question and Erza could only nod her head. "For ten years, even though I knew the chances were slim, I always wondered if any of you were alive. Even when I was going through my medical training with Porlyusica-sensei after she took me in, I held onto that hope, but a person could only remain steadfast in their beliefs for so long."
"I understand your feelings, Rin-san." The daughter of two Wizard Saints said as she rested an armoured hand on top of Rin's. "I'm sure Onii-sama would have liked to tell you about this as well."
"Speaking of which, where is Naruto? What is he up to? How is he doing?" Rin asked a series of rapid-fire questions making Erza sweatdrop as she couldn't help but think of Rin as acting like a doting parent. Of course, given the information she just received and the relationship she had with her parents, it was an understandable reaction.
"Onii-sama is fine. If you were to see him now, he really is the mirror image of Otou-sama."
"Since the day he was born he showed he had gotten Minato-sensei's genetics, thought he does have Kushina-sama's face." Rin smiled as she remembered her first time seeing the newborn Naruto.
"As for what he's up to, well he's a mage just like our parents as well as myself. He's doing very well for himself, but he has his own..." She paused to consider her wording. "He is very free-spirited so I can't really picture him as someone who would settle down in one place. As for what he's up to...well, let's just say Onii-sama has his hands full as an independent mage."
Rin laughed lightly. "He sounds a lot like Kushina-sama in that regard then. Well, if you ever get into contact with Naruto, tell him to come and give me a visit. I would very much like to see how he turned out."
The image of her brother fighting like a possessed maniac appeared in her mind and the brown eyed Requip mage chuckled nervously. "Yeah...I'll be sure to do that."
A moment of silence passed between the two women. Rin then raised an eyebrow as she noticed the slight fidgeting of her 'patient'. "Something you want to ask, Erza-chan?"
"I just wanted to know...I know you said you gave up on believing that my parents, Onii-sama and I were alive after a number of years of holding onto a seemingly false hope, but did you ever have any sort of suspicions at all that I could have been their daughter back from the dead?"
"Of course I did." Rin replied curtly as she gestured to the armoured redhead. "You are practically the spitting image of Kushina-sama and you have the brown eyes that I knew you inherited from your mother's bloodline...the ones that I remembered so vividly from when you were a baby. You know, Naruto practically named you after I made the suggestion to turn your name from the masculine Ezra into the sigificantly more feminine Erza? Though, I do wish your femininity would actually be reflected in your actual personality, you amazon-like swordswoman."
The Titania of Fairy Tail laughed lightly in response.
"But it was a simple fantasy at the time. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me and I swore for those few seconds after I first met you, that as I watched you grow up over the past few years since you joined Fairy Tail, that the similarities between you and Kushina-sama were simply uncanny. I saw them as purely coincidental, but I did have a little itch in the back of my mind that maybe...just maybe...things weren't a coincidence. That your resemblance to Kushina-sama was something worth looking into..."
"But with them dead, you couldn't believe in the possibility of me or Onii-sama ever being alive either." Erza finished the doctor's sentence for her. Rin nodded her head before smiling once more at the S-Class mage.
"It really is a blessing to hear about all of this from you, Erza-chan. Knowing that the legacy of not just Konohagakure, but the legacy of Kushina-sama and Minato-sensei still exists is nothing short of miraculous. Even if you think you don't deserve it, I just want to thank you Erza-chan. From the bottom of my heart, thank you." Erza smiled and nodded to the brown haired doctor. "But..." Erza gained a confused expression as she noted the serious expression that suddenly appeared on Porlyusica's student's face. "Tell me, Erza-chan..." The medical mage reached out and held the swordswoman's hand tightly in her grasp. "Why did you choose to tell me this?"
"You were Okaa-sama's and Otou-sama's friend. I felt you had a right to know the truth more than anyone else."
"I see." Rin developed a thoughtful expression. "But Erza-chan, Minato-sensei and Kushina-sama were the most powerful humans on the planet before they died. You do know what having a reputation as infamous as theirs would entail correct?"
"If you mean having earned enemies and things along those lines, then yes, I am aware. However, I think I am capable of handling myself quite well, Rina-san."
"I won't doubt your strength as a mage, Erza-chan. You are an S-Class mage of the strongest guild in Fiore after all. However, should this sort of information become commonplace, if people, dark mages especially, become aware that the children of Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki Namikaze are alive then it paints a target on not just your back, but on your entire guild. There is word going around every now and then the Heart Attack in Clover Town was a targeted attack and not just Grimoire Heart flexing their muscles. They may be an evil guild, but dark guilds of their status don't make unnecessary movements out in broad daylight the way they did."
"So you want to know if anyone else knows." Erza guessed. A simple nod of confirmation was her answer. "Only Natsu, Happy, Gray and Lucy know. They are my closest friends in the guild and I trust them with my life. They understand the ramifications behind this sort of information and know that it is my story to tell, not theirs."
"And do you plan to tell this to anyone?" Rin asked.
"I do plan to tell Master. Mirajane is also someone I am considering to tell as she is Master's confidant and someone who has practically ran the guild whenever he is absent. Gildarts is trustworthy and would be able to keep the information under wraps and he is a fellow S-Class mage." Erza explained. "Other than those three, I don't plan on telling anyone else."
Rin got up from her chair and walked towards the window, looking out over Magnolia Town and the people that walked streets below her. "I am not saying this out of pure speculation, but because it is an eventuality."
"What do you mean, Rin-san?"
"Eventually the story is going to be told one day. It will start out as a rumour. That rumour will stretch across the town and i will reach neighbouring towns. Then it will reach across the entire kingdom. It will spread from across the land and across the seas. It will spread until all of Ishgar will become aware of who you really are. Erza Scarlet, a name known far and wide as the S-Class mage and Titania of Fairy Tail, is no longer who she says she is. She is Erza Uzumaki Namikaze."
"You believe that if the world finds out who I really am that they will reject me...out of fear."
"Your family name holds a great amount of power and instills an even greater amount of fear in people not just in Fiore, but across the continent of Ishgar. As Wizard Saints, your parents acted in the capacity that was required of them. They fought in wars alongside Master Makarov and the other Ten Wizard Saints and thus they have garnered many an enemy." The tattoo-faced doctor explained. "I can't control you and tell you what to do. You are a grown woman who has enough intelligence and strength to make her own decisions. Who you choose to tell about your heritage is your choice and yours alone, but as someone who has dabbled in handling the repercussions of revealing sensitive information to others, I advise you to keep the circle as small as you can for now."
"I understand, Rin-san." Erza got up from her seat and gave a small bow of her head. "Thank you. I will take your words to heart."
"You know, when you told me about Naruto, he sounds so much like your mother...but you..." She walked up to Erza and patted her on the head. "The way you think and speak, it remind me so much of your father."
The redhead blushed lightly and Rin couldn't help but laugh at how adorable a flustered Erza looked.
"Now get outta here, kiddo." Rin gave a quick hug to the younger female before she spun Erza around and pushed her towards the door. "You obviously have one hell of a bomb to drop on your guild master's lap."
Erza was then roughly shoved outside and the door closed right behind her.
Temporary Magic Council HQ, Clover Town, Fiore
"Man, this is so troublesome." Shikamaru sighed, rubbing his neck. "Why do we have to be the ones to look after the rookie knights?"
"Because we're the next in line to take over our fathers' jobs when they retire." Ino replied as she flicked her friend's ear. The Shadow Magic user scowled at the platinum blonde Rune Knight, holding his reddening ear.
"Oh come on, Shika." Chouji spoke up as he ate a few more chips from the bag he had in his hands. "Sure they're new recruits, but they aren't going to be that bad. I mean, were we that spectacular when we joined the corp?"
"Well...no." The black haired genius replied. "But wouldn't it be, I don't know, the Head Captain's job to oversee the rookies?"
"Shika, you know Head Captain Lahar has his hands full with everything that's happened since the Heart Attack." Ino said. "He has to manage the entirety of the corp, not just the rookies. He has to sort through all the criminal reports that we all bring him, on a daily basis mind you, and then there is the necessary paperwork so that the Wizard Saints can legally take the mantle of being the new Magic Council since everyone else is dead after..."
The Mind Manipulation Magic user became silent as she and her best friends frowned. They remembered watching the horrendous scene through the Lachryma Vision channels. The amount of fire and destruction that Kurama produced was unfathomable, showing off just how he had earned his moniker as the Onibi Myobu.
"Do you think Kurama did all that on purpose?" Chouji asked.
"Chouji!" Ino's sky blue eyes looked at her brown haired friend in shock. "You know Kurama would never do something like that! Sure...we didn't know that he and Naruto were...who they were..." Her voice grew softer, her expression becoming downcast. "But he and Naruto, they were so angry...they were so hurt when they saw the state Clover Town ended up in, the state that Ayame ended up in. I don't think someone who reacts the way they did could have done the things that happened in Era. There has to be an explanation for all of this."
"Ino has a point." Shikamaru nodded to his platinum blonde friend. "Those two took off the moment they handed Ayame to us. Whatever it was that happened that made them into what they are, whatever happened that made Kurama attack Era...We need answers."
"But how are we supposed to get them?" The brown haired Titan Magic user squinted his eyes in thought. "It's been weeks since the attack on Era and Heaven's Fall. What are the chances of us running into Naruto and Kurama?"
The sound of approaching footsteps distracted the second generation Ino-Shika-Cho trio as they turned away from each other and looked forwards to see the topic of their discussion heading towards them.
His face mask had been pulled down and his hooded cloak was no longer worn over the rest of his dark coloured clothing. The golden flame necklace he had received from Sakura's mother was once more worn securely around his neck, the piece of jewelry jumping slightly with each step he took. Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze came to a halt, Kurama watching from his perch atop his partner's head.
The four were silent as looks of surprise from the Rune Knights were met with a mild frown.
"N-Naruto?" Ino asked, her eyes blinking rapidly to make sure that what she was seeing wasn't any sort of illusion.
"What are you doing here?" Shikamaru asked.
"We're here to talk. What you saw and what we did that day Grimoire Heart attack is no dream nor an illusion. We are who we are and I'm sure you all have many questions."
"Many doesn't even begin to quantify how much we want to ask you." Chouji commented.
"I understand that, Chouji, but before we go to talk...we just want to do one thing." The hardened look in his sapphire orbs suddenly dropped. The Rune Knight trio could only watch as the SS-Class mage suddenly looked so very tired and his once strong and proud stance was slightly hunched over as if he suddenly received a massive weight upon his shoulders. "Take me to her. Let me see Ayame Nee-chan."
(Insert Music: Fate Stay Night UBW 2015- Ocean of Memories)
Medical Wing, Temporary Magic Council HQ, Clover Town, Fiore
The monotonous beeping of the heart monitor and her quiet breathing were the only sounds Naruto and Kurama focused on in that moment. The sagging of his shoulders wasn't as depressed as it had been moments ago, the sight of his sister figure being alive served to be the cause of that. The blonde dragonslayer reached down towards his sister figure's sleeping form and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
"Has she woken up at all since the Heart Attack?" Naruto asked as he turned to his pink haired friend. Sakura, after having recovered from her own injuries and trauma after the attack on Clover Town, had taken it upon herself to aid the medical staff in taking care of the numerous amounts of wounded that were still in the care of the Magic Council and the Rune Knight Corp. Her efforts were very much appreciated as the wounded far outnumbered the amount of medics that were on hand.
"The piece of wood had impaled her through her large intestine so she needed surgery to suture the wound close and replenish the blood she had lost. She had been remained unconscious for approximately three days after the surgery before she finally woke up. We've been keeping her on morphine for the pain and diazepam to help her sleep."
"Diazepam." Kurama mused. "She's been having nightmares?"
"Yeah. It's to be expected and I don't blame her though." Sakura frowned. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is bound to affect all of us in Clover Town."
"Speaking of which...Sakura..." Naruto moved to stand directly in front of the green eyed woman. Said green eyes met his blue ones with confusion and then surprise as she was suddenly pulled into a hug.
"I'm sorry for your loss." Sakura's eyes widened before she seemed to melt into Naruto's embrace, her eyes shutting tightly as she fought in vain to hold back the flood of emotions that suddenly flowed through her. "I loved Seiko Oba-san as if she were my own mother. Kurama and I...we tried to get back to Clover as fast as we could. We couldn't make it in time. I'm sorry.
The pink haired medic in-training could only nod her head as she reciprocated her friend's embrace, though her grip was noticeably tighter. After a few moments, the two separated and Sakura offered the blue eyed mage a smile of thanks as she wiped her eyes free of the wetness from her tears.
"You've done a great job taking care of all these patient, Sakura." Kurama gave the girl a fanged smile. "You know, for a violent girl, you really do have the healing touch. You'll make a great doctor when all is said and done."
"Thanks, Kurama." She returned the fox costumed feline's smile with one of her own. "Now, Ino told me that you two wanted to tell us all something. I've pretty much finished doing the ward rounds so we can head back to the room that I'm sharing with Ino, Shika and Chouji, and we can talk there. Sounds good?"
Naruto and Kurama gave a look to the sleeping form of Ayame. With what they were about to tell Sakura about was bound to result in a very loud reaction, so taking that in mind, they agreed to shift venues.
Rune Knight Bunkers, Temporary Magic Council HQ, Clover Town, Fiore
The bunkers were not as much bunkers as they seemed more like apartment flats. They were equipped with three separate bedrooms since most Rune Knights were made into squads of three during their rookie enrollments. Due to the leeway that their parents had, Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji were able to room with each other.
The room was also equipped with a small kitchenette with built-in appliances like a dish washer, refrigerator and freezer. There were one and half bathrooms and their living room area was composed of long couch that could fit three people and a single recliner that were faced towards a flat screen monitor of their Lachryma Vision to be used for their entertainment. The couch was now equipped with a bed pillow and a folded up blanket which were for Sakura's own use since the living room area had now been converted into a pseudo-bedroom until Clover Town's repairs were completed. Ino had offered to have Sakura take her room while she would be the one to take the couch, but the pink haired girl's stubbornness proved legendary as she denied any and all offers made by her best friend.
In the words of Shikamaru, it was troublesome.
"Here you go." Sakura rested a cup of tea down for all the humans in the room, while Kurama was gifted with a bottle of fire whiskey.
"You do care." Kurama held a paw to his heart, making mock sniffling sounds and sobs.
"Shut up and drink your damn whiskey, mangy cat." Sakura rolled her eyes at the crimson eyed cat, but her smirk of amusement could not be repressed as she watched Kurama guzzle down the liquid like a baby would a bottle of breast milk. She then took her seat at the small kitchen table they were all gathered around, watching with curiosity and amazement as Naruto made a few hand motions in the air. Purple magic seals suddenly decorated the four walls, ceiling and the floor before they faded out of existence.
"Silencing seals." Naruto informed his friends, though his eye contact was directed at Sakura.
"Why are you looking at me when you say that?" Sakura's eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"Because..." Kurama took a deep breath as he mentally prepared himself for what was to come. "Naruto and I, we are the Ogonno Fuujin and the Onibi Myobu. Of course, as of this point, I also go by the name of Kyuubi."
There was a moment of silence as Naruto and Kurama watched their female friend's eyes grow wider as her brain finally registered their words.
'Three. Two. One.' They counted down in their minds before covering their ears.
"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!" Sakura rose up from her seat so fast that the chair skidded backwards and fell over with a resounding bang. The Ino-Shika-Cho trio really hoped Naruto's silencing seal was effective because the physician in-training was not dropping in volume any time soon. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?! HOW CAN YOU BE TWO CRIMINALS?! THOSE TWO ARE SS-CLASS CRIMINALS WITH THE NOTICE TO FLEE ON SIGHT AND ARE POSSIBLY THE MOST DANGEROUS PAIR OF MAGIC USERS TO EVER WALK THE FACE OF EARTHLAND?! HOW THE HELL CAN YOU EVEN MAKE SUCH A CLAIM?! ARE YOU TWO INSANE?! ARE YOU TWO FUCKING STUPID?!"
"Sakura, calm down."
"NO I WILL NOT FUCKING CALM DOWN, INO!" Sakura roared. "The Ogonno Fuujin and Onibi Myobu, they...they are killers. They kill people and Naruto and Kurama...they...they can't...they aren't...they could never be..."
The room fell into silence once more as Kurama hopped off of Naruto's head and the blonde rose to his feet. In a flash of magic energy, Naruto had brought out his cloak and pulled up his face mask while Kurama had transformed into his three-tailed form.
Sakura's eyes were wide, her legs literally shaking. She would have fallen onto the floor, but Ino quickly went to her side and helped to slowly bring her down into her chair that Chouji had gone to retrieve. Sakura gulped as she tried to calm herself down, though it was an effort in futility as she was breathing rather quickly to the point of almost hyperventilating.
"Y-Y-You're the..." She raised a shaky finger that was directed at Naruto. Naruto nodded. "And you're the..." Kurama nodded as well. "When? How? Why wouldn't you tell us something like this?"
(Insert Music: Naruto- Sadness and Sorrow)
"Honestly, if it were up to us...we never would have told you about who we were to begin with." Naruto stated as he pulled his face mask back down. "You four, Ayame Nee-chan, you are all good people and my best friends. To tell you all that this is who we are, that we are SS-Class criminals is not something I believed you should have been burdened with knowing."
"We would have continued to play the parts of your childhood friends, Naruto the indifferent idiot and Kurama, the talking cat who could fly." Kurama said with a frown before looking out the window in the direction where Clover Town was situated.
"You two are so selfish!" Sakura exclaimed. "How could you do this to us?! You've been lying to us how who you are for so many years?! How could you this?! We're your friends!"
"Because we didn't want to lose you." Naruto admitted as he gave the green eyed woman a sheepish grin. "You are all the closest people to us. To tell you who we really are, it comes down to if you would believes us and whether or not you would still want to remain close to us when it was all said and done. We didn't want to face that sort of situation with you four and so...we kept it in the dark."
""But looking at it from a realistic perspective, like Naruto said, you are the ones that we see as closest to us. People that we could even see as surrogate family." Kurama stated. "Eventually, there was going to be a day that you all would have discovered who we were and if you all did, Shikamaru would have been the one to do so."
"You probably had your suspicions during that time when I had my mental episode at Sakura's birthday party."
"You were blonde and the way the wind bent when you got angry..." Shikamaru looked at Naruto with a frown. "I didn't want to believe it. You are one of my best friends, Naruto. I didn't sleep for a while because I was so confused, I didn't know who you were or what you were doing and knowing that, how could I ever make the judgement that you were the Ogonno Fuujin! Let alone the son of Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki!"
"Weren't those the two strongest Wizard Saints to ever exist?" Sakura asked.
"Yes." Naruto nodded. "I am their son. However, they are dead, killed in the field of battle twenty years ago when I was a baby."
"But if you were a baby, how would you know that they died in battle? How would you know that they were actually dead at all?" Chouji asked. Naruto sighed, running a hand through his golden locks before turning to Kurama.
"We've come this far. You said we would tell them everything and well...that would be a part of everything." Naruto sighed once more, cursing at the logic in Kurama's words. The blonde then turned back to his childhood friends and raised up a hand, their eyes widening as a burst of magic energy cloaked the limb and took on the image of a massive black and blue claws.
"The reason I know my parents died in battle is because I was raised by the very thing that killed them." Naruto explained. They were killed by a dragon and I was raised by that same dragon."
"So...that means that you're...you're a..." Ino's eyes widened, but she couldn't find her voice as her mind began to feel as if it were about to shut down.
"I am a dragonslayer."
Sakura swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. "So...when you left town and you said you lived in the mountains with your adoptive father..."
Naruto nodded. "Tou-san is a dragon."
"You knew that he killed your parents and yet you still lived with him? You let that monster raise you and you still call him 'Tou-san'?!" Shikamaru exclaimed. "How could you even begin to come to terms with knowing that the thing that you grew up with is the reason you have no parents! Why you have no family!"
"He saw my potential and I was already instilled with the ideology to be strong was one of the most important things in life." Naruto replied as he continued to let the black and blue aura dance around his arm. "I learned about the fate of my parents and I cried. I cried so much my throat hurt. I took out a lot of anger on Tou-san, but while he did leave me without biological parents, I never would have been as strong as I am now. He raised me, trained me, taught me about the ways of the world and everything in it." A smirk of amusement came across Naruto's face. "I was a child then, but as an adult I can appreciate the fact that Tou-san didn't leave me for dead and instead raised me as his own son. I owe everything to that overgrown garden snake."
"When I was six years old, Tou-san was the one who had me venture to Clover Town to learn about human interaction. Even though he hated humans and humanity itself, he still had me go there." Naruto chuckled. "In a way, Tou-san was the reason I even met you all in the first place. So yes, he took away my parents...but he indirectly gave me my friends."
"So...how did you two even become the Ogonno Fuujin and Onibi Myobu?" Sakura asked.
"We had been traveling for a while and arrived in Tully Village where a dark guild called Black Knight had been kidnapping people and selling them as slaves on the black market." Kurama answered. "We went out of our way to save those that were kidnapped and after we did, we earned our monikers. However, the villagers had done it more out of praise and thanks for saving their friends and family."
"And by saving the villagers..."
"We killed them." The blunt admission from the son of Acnologia made their eyes widen. "I used my Fuuton and Kurama burned them. The Magic Council's law against mages killing other mages, even if they are dark guild members, was what had us labelled as criminals in the first place. Because of that, we were hunted down by the council and even targeted for recruitment by some dark guilds along the way."
"You put Head Captain Han out of commission for several months, Naruto." Chouji said with a bit of venom in his tone.
"Watch your tongue, Chouji. That accusatory tone will not be taken lightly if you continue to think what you are thinking right now." Naruto snarled. Chouji remained quiet, but Naruto continued to talk. "The Magic Council came after me first, Chouji. Do not make the mistake that I would actively go out of my way to fight someone who is not worth my time. I was also sent be assassinated by two members of the Seven Kin of Purgatory in Grimoire Heart, a Fire Godslayer and a user of Wood Magic. Kurama and I fought to defend ourselves and if the ones who faced us were to die in the process then so be it. They made their decisions and so did we."
"Naruto...you..." Ino looked at her fellow blonde in shock. "How can you say that with such conviction? This is killing, taking people's lives away."
"Not everything I learned about the world is good-natured, Ino." Naruto clenched his fist and allowed his dragonslayer magic to dissipate. "The world is dark and full terrors, and if you are not willing to do what needs to be done for your own survival then you are living in a fantasy."
"You were always pessimistic." Shikamaru commented.
"I prefer the term realistic." The blonde interjected.
"But...Why?" Chouji asked. "You could have done so much with your power. You could have joined a legal guild, maybe even the Rune Knights and do some good in the world."
"We don't like being tied down." Kurama was the one to reply this time. "I can't remember if we've told you this before, but if we haven't then you should know that Naruto and I are not ones to be bound by the legality of the Magic Council's systems. The things we've accomplished and done have all been possible because we are not bound by laws. We follow our own code of conduct and morality and it's been working out pretty well for us."
Sakura raised her hands to her chest and held onto the collar of her shirt tightly. "Who are you?"
Naruto and Kurama turned to Sakura so quickly they may have been able to get whiplash. "Sakura..."
"I don't even recognize you two." Tears lined her eyes. "You two were always so...You were great friends to me. Now here you are, telling us that you're actually criminals, that you've killed people. Do you even care that you may have hurt people around you doing what you've done?"
"...Initially, we did not." Naruto admitted with a downcast look. "My dragon parent taught me that it was always best to serve my own interests and I've always followed that doctrine to the letter. It is hypocritical to want to do my own thing and follow the words of another, but everything has to have a basis. Heroes follow the basis of heroism from seeing knights and mages in action, however what can be considered as good and evil is often very subjective."
"What are you talking about?" The Ino-Shika-Cho trio asked.
"The Rune Knights have been involved in many wars over the course of many generations. The world took many many years to reach the level of peace that it currently has and what can be conceived as heroism from the perspective of Fiore may be seen as villainous from the other side. In our case, our attack on the Black Knight guild was seen as heroic from the villagers of Tully, and yet the Magic Council sees it as something evil and is what labelled Kurama and I as criminals in the first place. The only reason we were made SS-Class and Flee on Sight was after our fight with Han, Kokuo and the two Grimoire Heart members as they saw us as far too dangerous to be fought against."
"But all of your actions have had consequences, Naruto." The Shadow Magic user stated coldly. "That's the reason why laws were made. To ensure things would be kept in order."
"We were labelled as evil for not following the these so-called laws and straying from the line of order, however, all we really do is just act within our own interests." Kurama added before his crimson eyes glowed. "But Shikamaru, let me tell what acting in our own interests has done. When the Lullaby Flute was taken by Esienwald it was Naruto and I who killed them and prevented them from using it on the town. When the guild war between Fairy Tail and Phantom Lord occurred, it was Naruto who killed Jose Porla and ended it. When your Light Guild Alliance was made and they went out to try and defeat them, in the end, it was Naruto and I who killed their strongest members and I was the one who destroyed Nirvana. We were the ones who took out a major player in the Ballam Alliance."
"And who got affected in the process, Kurama?!" Chouji countered.
"No one of our concern." The dark tone in Naruto's voice made a shiver go down everyone's spines. "The people who died are a consequence of them getting in our way."
"Then...what happened back home...back in Clover Town..." Sakura did not break eye contact with the two as she uttered her next few words. "Were those a consequence of people getting your way too?"
Naruto and Kurama's eyes widened, their mouths agape as they looked at the pink haired doctor in-training. Those few seconds stretched on for what seemed to be an eternity before Naruto's eyes took on a shine of white, the rage in his eyes burned with an intensity that made his friends recoil as if they had been slapped.
"How dare you make such an accusation! How dare you think that I would willingly put our home at risk!" Naruto snapped. "Seiko Oba-san! Teuichi Ji-chan! They were as much family to me as your own parents were! Listen carefully when I say this, Sakura. As I had admitted before, the things I've done and the things I've had to do, I did not give a damn about the consequences of what I had to do as long as it met my agenda! It was just myself and Kurama at that time, but as the years went by, I found more and more people who looked up to me! They turn to me for guidance and instruction! They are people that I have come to call my nakama and if any of my actions at this point in time had resulted in the injury or death of the ones I love, the ones I call my nakama, then the dragons themselves would have had to smite me! If I knew that if any of the things I did were to cause this, I would never forgive myself! By the dragon's Sakura, because it was as a result of my actions that I NEARLY LOST KURAMA!"
Four pairs of eyes were wide as they watched the panting blonde as he had practically yelled out his entire rant.
"Y-You nearly lost Kurama?" Chouji asked.
"What...What do you mean?" Was Sakura's follow-up question.
"Grimoire Heart attacked." Kurama stated. "We let rage cloud our minds, but we were very clear that we didn't care. Grimoire Heart was to die for what they did and we sought to carry out that promise, no matter what, even if it meant revealing our true natures to Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji."
"...When you were in Clover Town the day of the attack, you said you had been passing through to visit and that's why you were suddenly there when everything happened." Shikamaru said. "Is that really the reason you two happened to be in Clover?"
"No." Kurama replied. "Naruto and I developed a few connections over the past few months. Our connections are who informed us about seeing Grimoire Heart's airship and that they were attacking Clover Town. We flew back as quickly as we could, but by the time we got there..."
The pair gritted their teeth as they recalled seeing the town that they had called home as a pile of ruin and rubble.
"You wanted to protect Clover Town?" Ino asked.
"If we were there before Grimoire Heart, if we had arrived even one second before the attack, we would have done everything in our power to defend that town. No matter how far we travel across the continent, Clover Town is one place that I see as a constant. It's practically where everything started for us." Kurama replied, his tone was as serious as it could ever be.
"I met Ayame Nee-chan and Kurama in that town. I met you all in that town. I was practically raised in that town. Blood, sweat and tears would be shed if it meant that I could have prevented the attack on Clover Town." Naruto's fists were clenched tightly and his teeth gritted.
"Then what happened in Era?" Chouji asked.
"In Era?" Sakura's eyes narrowed in thought before the expression of an epiphany came upon her face. "The Kyuubi attack. That's right...Kurama...you...you attacked the Magic Council's main headquarters. Not only that, but you attacked the surrounding area as well. You...You burned everything."
Kurama and Naruto visibly flinched at Sakura's words and their gazes seemed to darken.
Chouji took notice of it, just like the others, but he continued to press the topic. "We saw what happened. Kurama, you transformed and you laid waste to the entire capital of the continent. Innocent lives were lost because of you. Ino, Shika and I...we believe that something else was at play. If what you say is true, and if what Ino believes about you, that if you were to have flown back to Clover and reacted the way you had to enact vengeance for it...then what was it about Era that made you go so berserk? What happened that made you the Kyuubi?"
Kurama gritted his teeth, a bestial growl bubbling within his throat. There was a great deal of rage present, but his downcast expression told volumes of the shame he was currently feeling.
"It was not soon after Naruto and I rushed off to attack the Grimoire Heart airship." Kurama began. "We blew it up. We thought we had gotten our vengeance for what they had done to Clover Town, but Ultear Milkovich was present on the airship it seemed."
"Who's that?" Sakura asked.
"She was a former member of the Magic Council with Jellal Fernandes. They had worked together to recreate what was known as the Tower of Heaven and the R-System, an ancient and forbidden magic. They would have used it to resurrect the Black Mage, Zeref." Shikamaru explained. "The Magic Council acted, but because they had decided to use Etherion on the tower, they had only served to further Jellal's plans. If Fairy Tail hadn't been present at the time to destroy the tower, then there's no telling what would have happened."
"Is that why the original Magic Council disbanded?" Sakura asked. "I remember Ino had mentioned it to me during one of her time off periods."
"Yeah." Shikamaru turned and made a pointed glare the blue eyed girl. "That was classified information."
Ino shrugged sheepishly before clearing throat and continuing the explanation for Sakura. "Anyway, so Ultear used a form of magic known as Arc of Time, which is essentially time manipulation. She had caused a great deal of damage to the Magic Council HQ by accelerating time and causing the building to age and fall apart. After that, they had to rebuild it and we passed it off as a Rune Knight training exercise that went awry."
"Ultear was then made into an S-Class criminal due to the secrets she held as being a former member of the Magic Council and a user of ancient magic. Though, to think she was a part of Grimoire Heart..." Chouji munched on a few chips as he left his sentence hanging.
"So...then she reversed time when you blew up the airship then?" Sakura asked as she turned her focus back to Kurama.
"That's right." The kitsune nodded. "Naruto took the lead to board the airship and I would have gone after him, but I was held back by some unexpected visitors. Tartaros."
"Wait a minute, the Magic Council told us about them since Grimoire Heart were the ones who attacked Clover. They're part of a group called the Ballam Alliance, right? So they are allies with Grimoire Heart, right?"
"Among dark guilds, allies are more akin to tools." Kurama stated. "We don't know why they were there when the Heart Attack happened, but they had been present for the sole purpose of capturing me."
"You?" The three Rune Knights and Sakura asked.
"So you've met Tartaros? You know who they are?" Shikamaru asked.
Kurama shook his head. "Not much. When they captured me, they had used Teleportation Magic to take me to their base after which I had fallen unconscious. When I came to, I was in an underground prison cell that was fashioned specifically to hold me by an earth mage they have in their ranks named Gaia. Ouranos is another one of their members and he uses Sky Magic, utilizing the elements of water, wind and lightning. Both he and Gaia would torture me for their master. If I didn't have a healing factor I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be alive."
A sharp gasp came from both Sakura and Ino. "T-Torture?"
"I could tell you what they did to me, but I don't think you guys could stomach the imagery." The pyrokinetic fox said before turning to Shikamaru. "You care, I know you do, but I've know you long enough to know that analytic look in your eyes. I'm sorry, but that's about as much as I know about Tartaros. I can't say where they are, and while I do know that Gaia and Ouranos are powerful members in their ranks, I do not know the identity of their master. I will admit to say that I saw him, but I'm pretty sure no one knows who he is. I've never seen that face before in my life and I'm sure no one ever has."
Shikamaru sighed, rubbing his temples and mumbled, "Well there goes that option." The Shadow Magic user then focused back on the part of his mind that was more emotional. "Why did they torture you?"
"They wanted to break me." Kurama snarled. "The Master of Tartaros saw me as a valuable weapon."
"But wouldn't have capturing Naruto sufficed as well?" Chouji asked.
"He didn't want a human weapon. He wanted a demon." The kitsune growled at the memory of the grey eyed dark mage. "He wanted me as a pet and he did everything he could to try and make me become one. I never would have succumbed and they never would have broken me, but..."
"But?" Sakura asked.
"Kurama...what did they to you?" Ino whispered gently as she placed a hand against the side of Kurama's face. Kurama sighed as he relished in the comfort that the Yamanaka mage's contact provided before he returned to the story.
"They did what they could, but all their torture methods could not make me bend to their will. So they looked to an external source and they brainwashed me with the Sharingan."
"The Sharingan?" Shikamaru's eyes widened in shock. "But the Uchiha clan was wiped out when Konohagakure no Sato was destroyed twenty years ago by the..." Shikamaru paused and a look of realization and then anger came upon his face. "The Lizardmen."
"That's right. They brought in a Lizardman who was still alive after the fall of Konoha, the village that you all would have grown up in had the Lizardman invasion not happened." The Kyuubi no Yoko clenched his forepaw into a tight fist out of anger. "All it took was one look and I fell prey to the illusions that that damned piece of pink eye. I had never felt so humiliated in my life, knowing that I was not in control of what I was saying or doing, but at the same time, still aware of what was happening around me. After that, Tartaros took me to Era and let me loose as a weapon of mass destruction. Whether it was to make a statement or if they had a plan to accomplish my performing that act of terrorism, I cannot say, but none of what happened was of my own volition. I would have probably remained the pet of that guild too, but Naruto and my siblings intervened and I was rescued."
"And it is because of that, that I will not let Grimoire Heart nor Tartaros have their actions being left unpunished."
The four Clover Town natives looked at the blonde dragonslayer in confusion.
"I am currently in the process of looking for them. Grimoire Heart captured and tortured me just like Tartaros had done to Kurama, they wanted to make an example of me in front of the Magic Council because they know who I am. They know I am the son of the two Wizard Saints who were regarded as the most powerful humans in existence." Naruto's blue eyes were bathed within white ethereal light once more. "They turned my home to rubble. They killed Seiko Oba-san and Teuichi Ji-chan. They hurt Ayame Nee-chan. Trust me, when I find them...they will not escape my wrath."
(Insert Music: Naruto Shippuden- Decision)
"Are you...Are you going to kill them?" Sakura bit her lip as Naruto's glowing eyes met her emerald coloured ones.
"NARUTO!" A storm of retorts came from the mouths of the Clover Town natives. Rejections against his words and ideals met his ears and his body shook with restrained rage. His fists tightened, his teeth ground against each other and his eyes glowed even brighter until he could not withhold it any longer.
"NO! ENOUGH!" The blonde fired back. "YOU MAY NOT AGREE WITH MY METHODS, BUT PEOPLE LIKE THEM DO NOT DESERVE TO LIVE! THEY TOOK MORE LIVES THAN I EVER HAVE! I WILL NOT GIVE THEM THE SATISFACTION OF BEING ABLE TO CONTINUE BREATHING!"
"Naruto, this isn't the right way! The reason we have the law, the reason killing criminals isn't a legal act is because if mages were given the liberty to do so, then normal people who aren't mages, a whole ninety percent of Fiore's population would be left at the mercy of people with superpowers!"
Chouji jumped in this time. "We need to show that the system works and your actions have not been helping with that! People heard of how Oracion Siete was killed when we sent in the Light Guild Alliance and they took it in stride! The public opinion is leaning towards killing by mage guilds to be an acceptable outcome and it's not something our society needs!"
"What the people of the kingdom think is not of our concern." Naruto said as he rose up from his seat. Kurama reverted back to his Exceed form and took his seat atop Naruto's head as the blonde headed for the door.
"You think that what you're doing is good? That what you're doing is heroic? Well it's not!" Naruto's body shook as he and Kurama released snorts of amusement at Ino's words, but they couldn't hold it in for very long as he began to laugh out loud.
"Heroics?! You think we do what do for glory and wanting to be seen as heroes?! Hahahaha!" Kurama couldn't continue as he fought to stop laughing.
"We don't care if it was meant to be heroic or not!" Naruto's tone of amusement immediately shifted to one of anger as he directed a harsh glare at the Rune Knight trio. "We are not heroes. We do not want to be heroes and we will never be heroes. All that matters to us is that Grimoire Heart and Tartaros pay for what they've done one hundred times over. Vengeance is all that matters."
The silencing seal was undone and he moved to open the door, but he only managed to open it half way as Sakura rose up from her own chair and ran towards the duo. The pink haired woman paused a few feet away from their location though as she froze from the intensity of their gazes when they met her own. She gulped down the lump in her throat.
"Y-Y-You don't have to go this far. I understand that you're angry and you're hurting, and we all are...but you don't have to stain your hands with so much blood anymore." Sakura offered the dragonslayer and Exceed a shaky smile. "C-Can't we just go back to the same things like how it was back when you visited Clover Town for my birthday? Can't we just go back to the way things were when we were kids?"
"I'm not doing this just for my own sense of fulfillment, Sakura. I'm doing this for you all."
"For us?" The pink haired woman questioned, her eyes widening along with the Rune Knight trio behind her. "But...why? Why would you go so far for us?"
Naruto's gaze softened as the wind began to pick up as he walked outside of the door. "Because...I'm your friend."
Those were the last words they heard before Naruto vanished into the wind.
(A/N: And that's it for this chapter. I'll admit, trying to get the emotion of the speech into the writing was a bit difficult for me in this part, but I think I managed to work in the conflicts in morality between Naruto and Kurama's 'I will do what want' versus Ino-Shika-Cho's 'The law is the right way to go' ideologies. I was inspired a bit by Naruto's speech to bring Sasuke back at the VotE for this last bit of dialogue. Looking back at it, I realize just how impactful those words were, that Naruto would go so far for Sasuke simply because he's his friend and someone he sees as a brother. Dragonslayer Naruto is just as loyal, but he takes it to the ultimate degree where he literally will kill for those he cares about.
Well hope you enjoyed this chapter guys. Remember to Review, Review, Review!)