A/N: Thanks guys you've been great as usual!

DISCLAIMER: Not mine...

"Virgo, be careful!" Lucy called to her celestial spirit. He spirit dressed in her usual maid outfit and shackles carried three children piled high up on her back as she lowered herself down a vine that had been cut and braided together into a ropey by Cancer.

"Understood, Princess. Will I be needing punishment later?" Lucy felt her head boiling over.

"Now is not the time for that!"

"Yes, Princess. I shall return quickly." Lucy rubbed her temples with two fingers, staving off the headache that she could feel gnawing at the back of her head. There were only two more children left to help down the steep hill slope. She knew that needed to make this quick. She wasn't sure when those villians would be back to collect these children. As far as she knew, there were still more children hidden in the area, but according to those that she found the others had been rounded up in small numbers and taken away, never to be seen again. It angered Lucy knowing in her deepest gut that those children would not be returning to their families. Tears rimmed at the corners of her eyes, but the wide frightened eyes of the little boy staring up at her kept her from breaking down completely. She had to present a strong front for them. They had been through enough. She smiled at him shakily and extended her hand to him, bringing him into a tight embrace. The poor thing was shaking, probably no more than four years old. Her heart was breaking still as the other little girl around the same age huddled in as well. She was relieved to see Virgo reach the crest of the cave and wait patiently for Lucy to peel the children off of her.

Gently, Virgo tucked the children into her arms and prepared to carry them down to the safety of the ground below.

"The others?" Lucy asked.

"Hidden in the brush, Princess. If it is not to your liking I will move them and prepare for my punishment." Lucy smiled good-naturedly, some of the tension wearing away knowing that they were nearly home free.

"No, you've done a spectacular job Virgo, thank you." Lucy prepared to follow the spirit down the vine, leaving behind the cave when a high pitched whistle found its way into her ears, growing louder and higher with every passing moment. She stopped reaching for the vine to cover her ears. Glancing down, she saw that the children were terrified, screaming and struggling as hard as they could. Fortunately, Virgo's inhuman strength kept them from plummeting to their deaths below.

"Get them out of here!" Lucy screamed.

"But Princess…"

"Go! I'll be fine! Get those children to safety, that's an order!" Lucy shot Virgo a steely look just for extra emphasis. Virgo seemed frozen for a moment, as if computing the dilemma of leaving her master behind before nodding and carrying out her orders. Lucy looked up and saw several smaller specks in the distance approaching fast.

Lucy took several steps back into the cave and took a number of big steadying breaths. She narrowed her eyes as she strengthened her resolve, in her hand she held firmly her whip, always at the ready. Her hand shook slightly before she clenched down on it. She breathed in and out quickly as if preparing to dive into a deep chasm of water. Then she was off running at full speed. She ran with the complete intention of ignoring that heart-stopping drop off of the ledge. Go Lucy Go! Don't stop! Go GO GO! Her voice cheered her on as she took a swan dive out of the cave, arms extended. If her calculations were correct, she just had to make it far enough to reach some of the taller fir trees opposite of the hill. If her calculations were correct. No, they were correct. Just a bit further. They were correct. They had to be correct.

Lucy's eyes watered as the wind swept past her face at a dizzying speed. Her hair whipped around her frantically as if trying to grab ahold of something to keep her from continuing to fall. Her teeth clenched into a grimace. So close! Almost there! The tall fir trees seemed to approach quickly, almost too quickly.

NOW! Her arm wrenched back and then flung itself forward, sending the end of her whip out to wrap around a branch. If her timing had been off by even a millisecond she was certain death would be waiting for her in the form of a tree branch to her midsection. She felt a brief bit of relief as she felt the tug and then the hold. She needed to edge up on the whip a few more inches or else she was going to slam right into the lower branch. Twisting expertly, she found a hole in the branches and used her momentum to rotate high up into the air before coming around full circle. The motion slowed her down just enough for her to let go of the whip and grab a lower branch. She swung around and flipped back as if she had been raised in those branches. Finally, the momentum of her fall was slowed enough for her to gingerly place her feet on a branch below her. With much effort she was able to get the whip to unwind from above her.

Feeling a small smile of pride creep its way across her lips she was immediately presented with her next dilemma. How in all of Earthland was she going to get down from here? Obviously there was only one way down and it was going to be slow and tedious. She'd be lucky if she made it down from here without a broken leg, she though dryly. Her assessment of her situation was interrupted by a shrill shriek of outrage from above. Overhead flew several figures, at least four of them as they flew around in agitation. Their prey were gone! They howled to the skies their indignation.

She had better get out of here fast.

One slow inch after another, she eased her way down while keeping a close eye on the flying corpses above her. A branch under her foot gave way in a loud snap. She cursed to look down at an empty void of where her foot was supposed to go. When she looked back up she was confronted immediately with the most horrific sight she had ever seen in her entire life. The man's face was stripped of skin and covered in maggots and this mess of flesh was only mere inches from her own. Her scream was high and could be heard for miles around.

Charle's vision dimmed and then a flash of pain ran its way through to the back of her skull. With a cry, she crumbled to her knees. Wendy was by her side in an instant. It took much doing, but they had managed somehow to bring down that horrific looking wolf. Now they stood debating on their next course of action. Continue on their mission or head back to Fairy Tail to report what they had seen. Charle had found them just as Romeo had delivered the final flaming blow that engulfed the monster.

"Charle! What is it? What's wrong?"

"They found her…" she whispered weakly. For the first time ever, Wendy saw a flash of blue color flit across Charle's pained expression. "They found the Trinity Maiden…" The little Exceed fainted and allowed the pain to sweep her down into a black hole where sleep would not be found.

"Charle… Charle!"

Natsu blinked once groggily, but his eyelids felt as though they were made of lead. He heard muttering in the distance as his body slowly began to come back to its senses. He was lying on something very hard, probably rock. There was little light to intrude on him which he was thankful for. There was a searing pain running all along his abdomen and that is what brought him fully awake. It was a reminder of what had transpired recently, or what he had hoped recently. He had no idea how long he had been out for. His inner questions of time and space were interrupted by the anxious mumbling sound of Happy's voice. Through squinted eyes he could barely make out the outline of the Exceed pacing back and forth across the mouth of what looked to be a cave they were resting in.

With much effort, Natsu pushed himself into a sitting position despite the tearing pain that wracked his body with every pull of muscle.

"Happy?" The little blue cat was instantly at his side.

"Natsu! You're awake!"

"How long have I been out?" Natsu gingerly inspected the wound. He answered his own question just by seeing that the wound was relatively fresh, no more than a day old. It was not healing very quickly either. Far from fatal, but it wasn't going to make the recovery process very easy.

"Happy, where's Lucy?" he finally asked the nagging question. He had not seen her suddenly materialize from the shadows of the cave. It was growing dark out. He stopped examining his surroundings when he did not get an answer. "Happy?" He felt his heart sink a foot into his stomach. "Where's Lucy?" he asked again.

The voice that came out of the Exceed arrived in the form of a very small squeak. Only Natsu's impressive hearing allowed him to make any sense of it.

"She was here when I left…" It took only a brief moment for the reality of the situation came crashing down on him.

"No…" he whispered into the air. Ignoring his injury he jumped to his feet and looked around him frantically. It was a relatively small cave, one that had been vacated recently by a number of people, small people it would seem. Natsu sniffed the air and could practically see the images of the children huddled trembling in the back of the cave. The fear was faint but still there. He could smell her as well, also faint, but he'd have traced her years after she was gone, he was sure of it. Finally, he swung around on the miserable Exceed and picked him high up into the air, something he had never done aggressively before.

"You left her here?!" he hollered at the top of his lungs. It was enough to actually frighten Happy. The sheer anger falling off Natsu in droves was enough to send him trembling.

"I'm sorry," was all Happy could whisper pitifully. Natsu's teeth could be heard grinding throughout the cave as he collapsed into a squat, still holding Happy just a few inches from the ground, his eyes hidden in the shadows. Where could she have gone?! The place had to be crawling with at this point with those undead creatures. She'd never make it out on her own, not in her condition. It sent an extra lance through his heart to think of her condition and out there all alone. He put Happy back down and released him a little roughly.

"It's not your fault Happy," Natsu finally managed to speak. "You were just looking out for me. You're a good friend, but we need to find Lucy and quickly…"

His statement was cut off abruptly as a high shriek cut through the air. It turned rather quickly into a horrid laughter, coming from a shadowed being flying just outside of the cave entrance.

"Oooooooh dragon slayerrrrr…" he chanted at him mockingly. "We have a present for you!" Without another word, he threw into the cave a long object before taking off into the night. Happy and Natsu looked at the prone object and Natsu felt his eyes slide shut as he recognized Lucy's whip at his feet. They had her. Those bastards had Lucy.

A/N: OK! Once again, let me know about that other story and I would really grateful! Please R&R!