Suspenseful, this chapter. Lot of conspiracy type things going on, so it adds to the drama. Anyways, enjoy! The next chapter will be Ryuuzetsu Land, so get ready for some funny, crazy, and fluffy stuff! Thanks for reading!

Chapter 34: The Dark Curtain of Night

"You know what is required of you, yes?"

"Yes sir. We are to retrieve the Celestial Wizard."

"Umm..sir, I also heard..this one in particular is always around, "That" man. What happens if we're found out by him?"

"That's why this is such a risky strategy, but a necessary one. If he finds you, then forget the Celestial Wizard and run. That man…" Arcadios sweated nervously, "He won't stop beating you until you tell him what he wants or you're dead at his feet…And we can afford neither of those options."

/

"What? You felt the magic power?" Erza asked.

Jellal nodded, "And I know it's a person, but I lost them in the crowd. Afterwards, I couldn't track them anymore…"

They had met up again after dark had come over the city. Even though it was still pretty early in the night, Jellal had felt it necessary to speak with her.

Erza frowned, "Do you think Sabertooth is related to this? Or Raven Tail? Both of those guilds have shady characters…"

"…It's not impossible they could be related, I suppose. The God Slayers had me thinking for a bit, but it's most likely because their magic is very old, and therefore more closely related to Zeref's magic. I sometimes get that feel from the Dragon Slayers too, but it's not as strong…" Jellal explained, frowning deeply.

She smiled at him reassuringly, "Well, if the person with the strange magic came back, they'll come back again. We'll get them next time."

He nodded, the frown clearing from his face and morphing into a small smile.

It's uncanny how she can lift my spirits like that.

"You're right, of course. I suppose for now we should just enjoy the festival…" he murmured.

Erza nodded approvingly, "Sounds like a plan. One more thing," She walked up and hugged him, whispering into his ear softly, "Make sure you don't get killed."

With that, Erza let him go and headed away, throwing a few last words over her shoulders, "Goodnight, Jellal."

"Night Erza." he answered, turning and walking off himself.

/

"CHEERS!"

Everyone in Bar Sun tapped their cups again with satisfied yells.

Romeo was partying with Freed and Bixlow, "We were so good today!"

Natsu and Sting were arm wrestling each other on a table while the guild cheered them on. They were really giving it their all, so much so that the table was splintering from the force.

Lucy frowned at that, "Come on guys, this isn't our guild, so don't break anything- EEEK!"

Natsu finally slammed Sting's hand into the table and completely destroyed it with a triumphant shout, "Hell yeah! You owe me 1,000 jewels!"

"Hell no! You can't break the table, that's cheating!" Sting yelled back.

The Salamander grinned, "Pay up, flashlight."

His brother snarled and tossed a sack of coins, which he handed to Happy with a smirk, "Go get some fish, buddy."

"AYE!" The excited blue exceed flew off with Lector and Frosch, as Charle was in Wendy's lap and Lily was sharpening his sword.

Lucy glanced at Erza, who was still bandaged up, but recovering fast from her 100 monster sweep, "With a healing rate that fast, are you even human?"

Erza laughed, "Wendy and Porlysuca are here after all."

Lisanna glanced at her sister, "What about you? How's your back?"

Mira smiled, "Not as bad as I thought. Porlysuca gave me some medicine and told me to take it easy, so I'll be ready to compete again tomorrow."

Gray tch'd, "I can't believe after that badass monster slaying Erza did that I still couldn't beat Lyon."

"Maybe, but that draw still got us some good points. A Team basically doubled their score in a single day. That's definitely improvement." Lucy explained.

/\/\/\/\/\

The bar turned into a mess soon after when Natsu got Gray, Erza, and even Lisanna to start barrel surfing on the menu board, much to Cana's irritation when she wasn't allowed to drink any of the said barrels.

Yukino was sitting a little too close to the action and laughed nervously as she stood up and turned to Rogue, "I think I'm gonna get something to eat. Do you wanna come?"

He smiled and nodded, "Sure. Go on ahead, I'll tell Lily where we're going and catch up with you."

She raised an eyebrow, "Why Lily?"

"Gajeel's too busy yelling at Natsu to remember something like that." Rogue explained, gesturing to his brother as he roared at the Salamander for hitting him while barrel surfing.

Yukino giggled at the sight and walked off calling over her shoulder, "Don't be late!"

/

The streets were getting quiet as the civilians started turning in for the night, though most of the guilds were still up and about.

Yukino leaned her head back as she walked and stared up at the stars, smiling at the sight. What a beautiful city for such a beautiful night…It's so warm and peaceful here…

"Excuse me? You're from Fairy Tail, yes?"

She turned around to see a man standing a few meters behind her.

Yukino nodded, "Yes, I am."

"Could you tell me where they are? I have business with the Master." he explained.

She nodded again, "Well, he should be at Bar Sun with the others…"

The man nodded slightly, "Thank you. If they're that far off…"

Yukino froze at his tone. She didn't like the way he said that and instinctively dropped her hand to her Gate Keys, "I beg your pardon?"

"I'm sorry for lying. It's true my business is with Fairy Tail, but it's really just you specifically, young miss."

At this point Yukino had Scorpio and Pisces in her fingers, but then someone came up from behind her and grabbed her hand, swiftly removing the keys and clapping another hand over her mouth as she tried to scream.

The man in front of her rushed forward and grabbed her legs as she tried to kick him, tying her up in a matter of seconds. They gagged her so she couldn't cry for help and then slung her over the first man's shoulders, quietly sneaking through dark alleyways towards the center of the city.

/

Rogue followed Yukino's scent up to the restaurant, but frowned when he didn't see her inside. Her scent was mixed with various other people's, so it was hard to track. Where did she go? Her scent stops here, so-

"ROGUE!"

He froze as his keen hearing picked up a shriek in the night, unmistakably Yukino's.

Rogue was in the shadows faster than a person could blink, moving like lightning through the city towards the source of the cry. What the hell's going on?!

/

"Idiot! You didn't gag her tight enough!"

"Shit, if that guy heard us…"

"Don't think about it, just run faster! We have to get her to the castle, now!"

Yukino tried to move the gag with her mouth again, but this time they had it so tight her cheeks hurt. She was crying from pain and fear, praying Rogue had been close enough to hear her scream.

One of the men spoke again, sounding more confident and at ease, "Yes, just a little more."

"But nowhere near enough!"

The men froze as a figure erupted from the shadows in front of them with a terrifying roar, targeting the man with Yukino and breaking his nose with a vicious punch.

Rogue caught her and set her down quickly, then lunged for the other man before he even registered that his partner was down and grabbed him by the throat, slamming him into the brick wall of the alley behind him.

He was well past furious, crimson eyes blazing with rage as he hissed at the man, "Who the hell is behind this?!"

The man gulped, "O-orders are orders! I-it's nothing personal, just- GAH!"

Rogue rammed his knee hard into the man's ribs and cracked several of them, not giving a damn if it made it harder for him to talk. His cohort was out cold and bleeding on the street, so he was the only one who could give the Shadow Dragon information.

"You don't seem to get it. If you don't give me information, then you're nothing to me. By rights, I should kill you here. Now," Rogue looked him straight in the eye and made the man cringe from the enraged red boring into him, "Who the hell is behind this?!"

"R-r-ra-rav-AGH!" The man was knocked unconscious and crumpled to the ground as the Shadow Dragon lost patience with his stuttering and bashed him over the head.

Rogue strode over to Yukino and ripped the bindings from her hands and feet, then took off the gag.

She threw her arms around him, sobbing hysterically, "That was so scary…"

"It's fine. It's fine, shh…" he soothed her as best he could, still burning with rage from the attempted kidnapping. After a while, she settled down and wiped her eyes, but wouldn't remove herself from his grasp.

Not that Rogue was about to let her go, anyways.

Yukino sniffed and took a shaky breath, "Th-they were taking me to the castle…"

He glanced down at her in surprise, "The castle? Are you sure?"

"That's what they said…" she murmured.

Rogue narrowed his eyes at that, thinking about what the man had said in his terrified state. Rav..raven? Raven Tail?! They had a shot at Lucy before, so…

"…A rendezvous point?" he wondered aloud.

Yukino shook her head, "I don't care, just…Can we get away from here?"

The Shadow Dragon was tempted to drag the men back and question them, but decided it better to take her away from the dark alley. He lifted her up and held her close, letting Yukino rest her head on his shoulder.

Rogue kissed her forehead to soothe her more, "I'm going to do something first. It'll just take a moment."

She nodded and closed her eyes, breathing easier in his grasp. The Shadow Dragon turned to the men and both started sinking into shadow at his silent command, never to see the light of day again. Rogue walked off with Yukino, holding her tight against his chest.

Not once did he even think of looking back.

/

Arcadios waited several minutes past the expected return time, then retreated to the castle when it became clear his men wouldn't be returning and feared they would be traced back to him. They were to use Raven Tail as an excuse, but against that man…They could've spilled the information anyways. That's what Arcadios and the castle files classified him as.

Utterly terrifying.

/

"You think Raven Tail was behind this?" Makarov asked.

When Rogue had gotten to the bar with Yukino, he had pulled the Master and a few of the guild's primary members aside to an private corner of the room: Mavis, Ur, Laxus, Natsu, Sting, Gajeel, Erza, and Mira.

Yukino hadn't let him go, sitting beside him and clutching his arm tightly. She was scared out of her mind. No one blamed her for that.

Rogue nodded at Makarov's question, "That's what it sounded like. As far as I could tell, anyways."

"The bastard was probably shaking in his boots. You're a scary person to piss off. Gee-hee." Gajeel chuckled.

Ur glanced at him, "This isn't something we can take lightly. That's twice now they've aimed for us outside the tournament, so what's their goal?"

Erza closed her eyes in thought, "Considering they tried to take Lucy last time…I wonder if they're just targeting Celestial Mages?"

Sting narrowed his eyes, "So when they failed to capture Lucy, they went after Yukino instead?"

"No, that wouldn't make sense…" Mavis interrupted, tapping her chin with a finger, "Raven Tail has that Obra man who can drain magic power to zero in an instant. When they tried to capture Lucy, he wasn't there because he had to be with his team. However, this time Yukino was taken after the tournament was shut down for the day. He could've been sent out this time, but he wasn't. No, someone's just using the tension between Fairy Tail and Raven Tail as a cover up."

Mira shifted uneasily, "So, someone else is targeting Celestial Mages? Like who?"

"…I wonder if the ones who went after Lucy really were Raven Tail." Laxus murmured.

All eyes moved towards him as the Lightning Mage went on, "With that incident, we can't be sure it was or wasn't Raven Tail, because that Obra guy had to be with his team. This new incident…It's for certain someone else was behind it and used Raven Tail as a coverup. And I think I have an idea who."

Makarov raised an eyebrow, "You do? Tell us."

Laxus frowned, "Have you ever seen Yukino and Lisanna side by side? If you didn't know any better, they could be twins. And there was someone who threatened Lisanna today, wasn't there?"

Dead silence met his words, broken by a hiss from Natsu, "Sabertooth…"

"You think they mistook Yukino for their real target?" Rogue questioned.

Laxus shrugged, "Hell if I know, but it would make sense after what happened today. And that Minerva chick would be smart enough to use Raven Tail as a coverup. Call me crazy, but…It seems like a possibility."

Makarov crossed his arms and sighed heavily, "So, our enemies are still the same. As for their purposes…I don't believe we need to breach that topic."

No one argued with that statement.

Mavis suddenly smiled, "Well, this was an unfortunate incident, but we can't stay stuck in this dark mood. Let's find something to make everyone cheer up!"

Gajeel grinned, "Straight from cloak and dagger to having a party? First Master, you speak my language better than any of these suckers! Gee-hee!"

That seemed to lighten the mood, though Makarov sent them off with a final order, "I doubt I need to tell you this, but just for now, Natsu, Sting, and Rogue. These kidnappers are clearly not powerful without the element of surprise, so I urge you to stay with Lisanna, Lucy, and Yukino when you can. No one would dare make a move at them with you nearby. That was proven when these men waited for Yukino to separate from Rogue, tonight. Understood?"

Natsu growled, "Like you have to ask."

"No one's getting near Lucy." Sting promised, nodding agreement.

Rogue just kept Yukino close, his answer being a silent, dark glare.

They were moving back to their friends when Levy burst in the door, gasping and looking excited, "Guys! I found out something good!"

/

Jellal, dressed as Mystogan, walked through the city quietly, pondering the day's events through his head. The magic power from earlier had been fleeting, but he was certain he'd caught a glimpse of a hooded figure slinking away from the arena. To where, he didn't know, but that was irrelevant. Now he knew they were here and could track their magic power once he got close enough to sense it.

The city at this time was quiet, full of a peace he had started to relish. The life of an outlaw, constantly moving from place to place made times like staying in Crocas all the more enjoyable because he could settle down for a while. Jellal stopped in the middle of the street and closed his eyes, just standing there as the summer night breeze rushed by.

But with it came something dark. Something familiar.

His eyes flew open as he felt the mysterious magic power again and raced towards the source. I've got you, this time!

/

The figure glided silently down the darkened streets, it's stride slow from being deep in thought. Eventually, it came to a stop and glanced up at the moon, still for a time before it murmured softly, "Four more days before the Eclipse…"

It glanced to the ground at it's sandals, then continued on, whispering to itself with a voice so quiet that even the gentle summer wind couldn't carry, "Maybe I should go see them…Just to remind myself…"