I KNOW I KNOW IT'S BEEN A WHOLE EIGHT MONTHS SINCE MY LAST UPDATE… I'M SO SORRY… ALTHOUGH IT'S NOT SATISFACTORY, THERE IS AN EXPLANATION AT THE END. T.T
"Welcome to yet another day of THE GRAND COUPLES GAMES!" Ashley yelled out to the eager crowd. "Although this may seem a little bit weird, today, the contestants aren't going to be here with us!" Just as Ashley had anticipated, the crowd hushed at her words, thoroughly confused and a little worried. "In fact… yesterday, when they went back to the castle, a humungous cat crushed them all and that's why the competition is canceled. I'm sorry everyone…" The still silent crowd stared, trying to process what Ashley said. Just as the cries of indignation began to surface, Ashley cracked up, "Ok, ok, fine! They didn't get crushed by a huge cat." Ashley then continued in as suspenseful voice, "But the question is, where are they then?"
With that, four mega screens appeared in the air, making a square so everyone in the arena could see. On the screens, everyone could see the six couples standing together in what looked like an old building on the outskirts of Crocus. With them was Rosalind who apparently led them there. As the audience tuned in, they could tell that the mages had no idea what they were about to do.
"Oi… Lady, where the hell are we going!?" Gajeel asked.
"Gajeel! That's the fourth time you've asked that! Have a little patience!" Levy replied, giving the subject of her reprimand a whack for his rudeness.
"Yeah Gajeel, listen to your girlfriend and stop being so impatient," Gray smirked. "Plus, why does it even matter where we're going? What's more important is, what are we going to do there?"
"Well, Gray, you're about to find out the answer to your question. It's almost time to begin!" Rosalind said, finally turning around to address the mages. "Girls, come with me please."
Rosalind led them through a doorway and out into the open, where six helicopters were waiting. "For this challenge, girls, we're going to be separating everyone. Your helicopter will bring you to your appointed destination where there will be someone waiting for you. Just do whatever the person says and everything will be fine. Probably." Rosalind added the last word with an amused smile.
"Ok, now before you guys go, here, swallow these pills." Rosalind said as she held out six small, round pills to the girls.
"What do they do?" Lucy asked, intrigued.
"They'll take away your magic for a couple hours," Rosalind answered casually.
Hands that were about to take pills halted as they all stared at Rosalind.
"And why do need to take anti-magic pills?" Erza asked cautiously.
"Well, I figured it'll be easier than tying you guys with anti-magic rope…" Rosalind shrugged.
They all blinked in bewilderment, confusion written all over their faces.
"No, I meant, why won't we be able to use magic?" Erza tried again.
"Oh, well, it's for the challenge, just please girls, I promise you'll be fine, we need to hurry or we'll be behind schedule!" Rosalind urged.
It sounded awfully suspicious but the girls trusted Rosalind and slowly they took their pills and swallowed. Or most of them did.
"Erza… swallow." Rosalind said.
"I did," came the reply.
"I can see into your memories, you didn't swallow. Just, oh fine," Rosalind sighed, knowing Erza was not going to give in without an explanation. "Today's challenge involves having the guys rescue you and if you were able to escape yourselves… there would be no point."
Erza's face frowned, "Girls don't need rescuing. We can fight ourselves."
Rosalind sighed, "I know, but it's just for the challenge, ok? PLEASE…"
Erza smiled at her friend's attempts and said, "Fine. I have always thought it would be fun to play a damsel in distress." With that, her eyes glittered and she requiped into a princess' gown.
Everyone around her just sweat dropped as they each headed off into their own helicopters.
As soon as the girls left, Rosalind went back to the guys who were, as usual, fighting. Sighing, she exclaimed, "Hey! Stop fighting, this poor old building can't take it!" After being completely ignored, Rosalind yelled, "I HAVE FOOOD!" That got their attention.
"Where?" Natsu asked, hoping she had brought along the really good castle cookies.
"Back at the castle," Rosalind answered, rolling her eyes. "Anyways, right now, your girlfriends are being held at different locations around Crocus, and today's event involves you rescuing them." As she explained, Rosalind went around handing out maps to the mages.
Glancing at his map, Laxus said, "Mira can handle herself, there's no way anyone would be able to trap her while she's in her demon form."
"That's true… but what if she can't use magic?" Rosalind said slyly.
The boys' eyes widened at the information, wondering just what Rosalind had done.
"Follow your maps carefully, as you can see, a path is already marked for you to follow. You guys have exactly two hours to save your girlfriends before it's too late. In case you haven't noticed, your maps have magical timers on them, so you can keep track of time. You'll all be heading in different directions," Rosalind explained. "Are there any questions?"
"What happens if we aren't able to get to the girls in two hours?" Jellal asked.
"Well it depends where your girlfriend is being held. If your girlfriend is being held on a cliff, she might get thrown off the cliff?" Rosalind suggested.
With that, the guys each searched their maps for their destinations and then stared at her unbelievingly. What kind of crazy challenge was this!?
"That's ridi-!" Gray started.
"Oops, it's time to start! See you guys, and hopefully the girls too, later! Don't just stand there, the clock is ticking! " And just like that, Rosalind ran off, leaving the guys utterly shocked and flustered.
Back at the arena, Ashley watched as the crowd gasped at Rosalind's words. Of course, they weren't really going to hurt the girls, but the risk helped add sparkle to the event. Plus, this way, the guys had more motivation to get to their goals.
Realizing the guys were now splitting up to start their quest, she pressed a button on her remote, causing 11 small screens to surround each of the four huge ones. Currently, the big screen showed Levy as she arrived at her destination while the eleven smaller screens showed the other mages. Depending on what everyone was doing, the screens would shift focus. So for example, after Levy settled down, the big screen went to picture Mira instead and Levy went onto the screen where Mira had previously been.
(A.N: For this next part, I'll be constantly going back and forth between everyone. I don't want to put a line every time I switch so instead I'll use a ~*~. Whenever I switch topics, just think of it as the screens switching. Except, technically, the screens would switch much more frequently since a lot of this is happening at the same time.)
Levy hung tightly onto the helicopter ladder, hoping very much that she would be called back in soon and that they had gotten the location wrong. They were in the middle of a huge swamp! A few moments ago, they had stopped in a meadow where a lady had told her she was going to wait for Gajeel in a boat on a lake. This was NOT what she had expected. She'd pictured sitting on a charming white boat in a pretty blue lake but what was waiting for her now was a creaky little wooden raft in a slimy swamp no doubt filled with frightening horrors of every kind.
Seeing a dark shape lurk near the boat, Levy squeaked in fright. "I can't possibly do down there! I'll get eaten in a second! Somewhere, anywhere else would be better!" Levy pleaded. Instead of getting an answer, she was lifted off the ladder with some magical force field and set on the unstable craft. The helicopter flew away and Levy sat still as a rock, too terrified to even scream.
"Wow…" Mira mumbled. "So if I step outside of that circle, even brush the ground a little, I'll get blown up?"
"Exactly," Jake confirmed. Jake had been here in the field to greet Mira when she got off her helicopter. He had set up the mine according to Rosalind's directions and had just explained the circle business to Mira. "Ok… now I'm going to lower you in slowly and then cover up the entrance. The ceiling is magic, so it won't collapse, but you won't be able to get out by yourself."
Mira nodded and descended into the mine, where she landed in the middle of a glowing blue circle. It was about four feet in diameter so it wasn't too hard to stay inside, but when Jake covered the entrance, she had to crouch to avoid hitting the ceiling. Mira sighed, knowing that at this point all she could do was sitting and wait. But then, the weirdest sensation came over her. She felt as if the walls were closing in on her, and as if the air was becoming thinner with each breath. Is this what they called being claustrophobic? When you were scared of tight spaces? Because if it was, then she was definitely claustrophobic, and extremely so, at that.
"I'm not getting out! I don't care about this stupid event! Without my flying powers I'll fall and die!" Evergreen shrieked. She was currently in the helicopter, hovering above a massive jungle. She was supposed to be sitting at the top of one of the soaring trees but ironically, Evergreen decided she hated trees.
"It's okay… it's okay… Just hug the trunk of the tree real tight and you'll be fine."
"Easy for you to say, you're not the one going down there! And what happens if some bird or monkey comes and attacks me!? Oh my gosh! What the heck is happening to me!?" Evergreen squirmed frantically as the same force field used on Levy lifted her out of the helicopter. The magic worked brilliantly on Levy, who had been completely still, but since Evergreen was moving so much, they accidently dropped her when she was a couple feet above her perch. Her scream was so loud, many animals became deaf that day.
Somehow, Juvia was floating in the dark.
She couldn't really understand how she got there, she only remembered following her guide into a dark tunnel but then the tunnel ended and there she was: just floating. Well not just floating. She was also speeding around rapidly and constantly flipping upside down. Or at least she thought she was, because all around her, she could only see darkness.
Juvia tried controlling her body and managed to move her limbs but couldn't stop herself from spinning or flipping. Reaching around for something to grab unto, Juvia found nothing but air. She tried swimming around in the air, exploring for the exit but it seemed that the darkness lasted for miles on end.
Juvia didn't like the darkness.
Without her friends and Gray, the darkness was a black hole of isolation.
"Ok Lucy, we're almost done tying you with this rope…"
"Hey, Diane, Rosalind said the reason we needed to swallow those pills was so she didn't need to tie up with anti-magical rope. Why am I still being tied…?"
"These aren't anti-magic ropes, dear! We're going to tie you to the tower so you won't fall when we throw you out the window!"
"THROW ME OUT THE WINDOW!?"
"Sorry, I meant lower you out the window. There will be no throwing on my watch!"
"Ok, everything's ready!"
And just like the others, Lucy was force-field lifted- out the window and left hanging by a rope.
"Diane, can we wait until Natsu gets here? I feel like I'm going to vomit… Diane? Diane!"
"I want to be trapped in a tower!" Erza complained to her escort. "All the princesses are always trapped in towers, no one is ever underwater!"
"How about The Little Mermaid?"
"Even she went onto land to meet her prince!" Erza huffed. "I wore this dress and everything! Now it's all ruined!"
"Ok… ok... how about, next time I'm told to hold you hostage, I'll make sure it's in a castle."
"Tower, not castle. In all the stories, towers are jails and castles are homes. But, yes, I'd like that."
"Great, now, follow me to the other side of the submarine. We're going to eject you out through this platform and a giant air bubble will surround you on the way out. This way you'll be able to breathe, ok?"
As the crew prepared to leave, Erza made sure to remind them one last time, "Next time, I want to be trapped in a tower!"
Natsu stared inquiringly at his map, totally lost. Natsu never did much of the navigation work on missions and this map was proving to be quite a challenge.
"Why is this thing so confusing?" Natsu muttered, flipping the map over again, hoping that this time it would reveal some sort of previously unseen secret. Ugh… where was Lucy when he needed her? Oh, right.
Lifting his head to the sky, he noticed that if he could actually faintly smell Lucy's scent. It was mixed with some other scents and really faint, but it was still there. Hey, wait a minute, why bother with the stupid map if he could just follow her scent?
With renewed spirits, Natsu ran forward excitedly, barely paying attention to where he was heading. He was making good progress when he decided to stop for a second and look around. Glancing at his surroundings, he figured he was in some sort of mushy, wet area and hey, look, there was a swamp on the map! The tower was near the left bank of the swamp and that was the direction Lucy's smell was leading him so, ha, his method did work!
If he ran he would make it with quite some time to spare, so Natsu folded up his map, found Lucy's scent and prepared to charge. When he tried to lift his feet though, he suddenly found himself stuck knee-deep in muck. Looking around for something to pull himself out with, he saw nothing but more swamp sludge. How did he even get into this patch of slime anyways?
Oh, and great, he was sinking too.
Gray had managed to figure out his map fairly easily and had been going along at a steady pace for quite a while now when suddenly he met a mountain. Or at least it looked like a mountain. A mountain with fur. And a lot of drool.
Gray recoiled at the sight and slowly went up to poke the… thing.
Gray kicked it.
Gray body-slammed it.
"It" grumbled and rolled onto its side, smushing Gray in the process.
With his head pushed into this monster's fur, Gray was able to smell its pungent body odor and nearly passed out from disgust. Squirming out from under "it", Gray put his head into a nearby flower bush to try and get rid of the body odor smell. While he was in the bush, he weighed his options (and gaged). He had a little more than an hour left so he could either try and wake the monster and challenge it or try and find his way around it. Now Gray was never one to run from a fight, but he was sure that if he got one more whiff of that beast's scent he would pass out, permanently.
And so after an ice-make ladder and an ice-make slide, Gray was over the mountain of a beast and faced with…
A real one.
With over two-hundred tunnels.
Any of which could hold Juvia.
That… is… one… big… lake," Jellal said as he gawked at the huge expanse of water before him.
Putting his hand into the lake, he realized his luck was even worse than he thought as the water was freezing cold. Sighing and giving into his fate, Jellal took off his jacket and dived into the icy water.
After a few minutes in the water Jellal became pretty accustomed to the water and was swimming around comfortably when he saw a huge air bubble. He swam towards it to take a close look, and wow, inside the air bubble was Erza, dressed into a princess' gown.
"Jellal!" Erza exclaimed from within the bubble and waved frantically. Jellal waved back and just as he was about to reach her, a monstrous squid came and crashed into the poor fellow. Startled, it sprayed ink all over Jellal and then darted off.
Jellal frantically swam to the surface and took a breath while trying to scrub the ink out of his face. Blinking his eyes open, Jellal realized he couldn't see. Everything was dark and hazy. No matter how many times Jellal scrubbed his eyes, nothing changed.
"Oh… great," Jellal muttered. "Just my luck…"
"A minefield?" Laxus muttered as glanced down at his map to make sure he was in the right place. His map had marked the area just as a plain old field, but when he got there, the caution signs told him otherwise. As far as he could see, Mira wasn't even on the field… so… what was he supposed to do?
Laxus took off his jacket and after taking a step back, threw it onto the field. He had no idea what he was trying to achieve by blowing up his jacket, but he was at a loss for what to do so he tried it anyways. To his surprise, nothing happened to his jacket. It landed on the ground and stayed there. Maybe it wasn't enough weight, so Laxus took off his shoes and threw them onto his jacket. Still nothing happened so Laxus carefully put his foot on the field. Nothing. He took a step. Nothing. He walked around. Still nothing. Then what was all this mine-field bullshit?
"Mira?" Laxus called out.
"L-lax-us?" Mira squeaked back.
"What…" Laxus started, completely confused. "Where are you?"
"Undernea-" Laxus bent down and knocked on the ground. It was hollow! Oh! Laxus understood it now, Mira was trapped on a minefield but they had built another magical floor above it. Now, how was he going to get her out? Hm… slowly, a plan formulated in his head and Laxus called out, "Mira, I have a plan to get you out! I'm going to need your help though!"
"Sure-re, La-laxus! But-but, can we hurry? I-I, I th-think I'm go-going to-to faint…", Mira cried, inhaling frantically as she squeezed her eyes shut in fear.
Elfman looked at the huge expanse of forest before him and gasped. He was supposed to look for Evergreen in this huge forest? His path ended at the forest so he had expected her to be in front of it, not IN it. This was going to be impossible!
Sighing, Elfman used his Beast Soul: Lizardman takeover and dived into the forest, his scales preventing his from feeling the thorns and vines of the jungle. He called out Evergreen's name as he went and surprisingly, it only took him about fifteen minutes before he found her.
"ELFMAN!" Evergreen had yelled and through back and forth calls, Elfman managed to locate her.
"Okay, just wait up there, Ever! I'm coming to get you!"
"It's not like I have a choice!" Evergreen yelled back.
Elfman carefully worked his way up the tree and within minutes he was at the top. "Ok, Ever, grab my hand and I'll pull you closer. Then you can get on my back and hang on while I climb down. Just don't look down!"
And of course, Evergreen involuntarily looked down, and what did she see? A huge black insect with hundreds of leg crawling towards her. So, she screamed. She screamed and because of it, Elfman fell out of the tree. He fell, landed back on the ground, and in the process knocked down another tree, which fell straight towards Evergreen.
Gajeel carefully poked his iron pole arm into the damp ground in front of him, sighing in relief as it held. He had already stepped into two mud pools and was now taking extra precautions to keep from sinking.
Suddenly, he heard a shout from somewhere to his left. Looking at his map, Levy was supposed to be ahead of him, not to his left, but hey, this entire swamp kinda looked the same so he decided to go check it out. Running towards the shouts he saw someone stuck waist deep in mud. Squinting as he got closer, Gajeel realized that this person was definitely NOT Levy.
"Oi, Salamander, what the hell are you doing here!?"
Natsu face lit up as he saw Gajeel, "Awesome, Gajeel you can help me get out! Hey, are you lost? We're not supposed to meet you know."
"You're the one who's lost!"
"Tch… I don't think so…" Natsu answered back. "Hey, get me out of here, will you?"
"I'm here to get Levy out of this swamp, not you, you bastard!"
"Fine. Just stay still for a second and I'll pull myself up."
Natsu used his magic to create a fire hand and reached for Gajeel. Not expecting this, Gajeel didn't hold himself in place and so with a plop, Gajeel was pulled into the sinking pool of mud.
"Oh, now you've done it, I'm going to kill you Salamander!"
"Done!" Laxus said triumphantly, admiring his handiwork. In front of him was a circle drawn by scorching the ground with lightning magic. He had asked Mira to tap the ceiling, tracing the safe area she was crouching in and using his dragons senses had managed to follow her tracing above ground.
Now just to get her out.
"Mira can you move to one side of the circle?" Laxus asked.
"Su-sure," Mira replied, hastily moving over to the right. Within moments, the left side of the ceiling collapsed and Laxus' head popped through the hole.
"Hey," Laxus said with a cheeky smile.
"Hey," Mira grinned back, relief washing over her face as she saw light.
Laxus extended his hand and Mira walked over. He pulled her out of the hole and once out, Mira dusted herself off. Unknown to them, as they got up, they managed to dislodge a small rock which bounced into the hole. That tiny disturbance on the mine field was enough to set off the bombs and a huge explosion occurred, singeing both mages. The first blast triggered the chain of explosives and within a second, the ground beneath the two started giving way.
Quick to react, Laxus picked Mira up bridal style and ran for the gate of the minefield, barely making it before the entire place blew up.
"Wow… that was close. Thanks Laxus," Mira breathed. Looking up at him, she suddenly had the urge to add, "You, know, I'm really glad you're back."
Gajeel stared at Natsu. And glared.
"Dude, you were supposed to stay there so I could get out! Why'd you jump in the mud?" Natsu asked.
"I. WILL. KILL. YOU."
"As if," Natsu snorted. "And anyways, I can't die because I still have to go save Lucy."
At Natsu's words, Gajeel halted and suddenly remembered Levy. "Shit! Natsu, didn't you freakin' hear Rosalind? We have to get out of here! NOW!"
"I know, Gajeel! That's what I've been telling you," Natsu said.
Gajeel stared unbelievingly at Natsu. Deciding to ignore him for the time being (for Levy's sake), Gajeel looked around hurriedly for a way to get out of the mud. The bank was too far for him to reach… but hey, wait a minute…
"Salamander, why can't you just use your stupid fire hand to reach for the bank and pull us out?"
Natsu's radiated confusion but then cleared up after a second. "Oh hey! That's actually a good idea, Gajeel!" With that, Natsu pulled himself up.
"What the heck!? You really didn't think of doing that before?" Gajeel yelled.
"Hey, I'll just leave you here," Natsu warned.
Gajeel glared, "You wouldn't dare."
"Yeah I would! Just you watch Gajeel, next time you get stuck in a giant mud pool, I won't pull you up!"
As Gajeel was being pulled up, he retorted, "Next time? The only reason I got stuck in here for a first time was because of your stupidity!"
"Sure Gajeel…. Sure… think what you want…" Natsu replied as he hauled Gajeel back onto dry land.
Gajeel glared at Natsu, "We'll settle this later; right now I have to go get Levy and you have to go get bunny girl."
Natsu agreed, "Your right, we can't have them get hurt because of your stupidity Gajeel."
"WHAT THE HELL? YOU'RE THE STUPID ONE!"
Elfman quickly used his Beast Take over and dived to catch the tree before it could hit. Struggling to keep it upright, Elfman pushed it as hard as he could in the other direction. The tree toppled over with a deafening thud and a couple birds squawked and flew upwards in fright.
Panting, Elfman called upwards to Evergreen, "You ok?"
Evergreen answered him with a squeak, indicating that she was terrified, but not hurt.
Elfman sighed and muttered 'man' under his breath before climbing up for a second time. Spotting Evergreen just a few branched away from him he told her to scoot closer. Since he needed both arms to climb, he faced his back to Evergreen and told her to hop on. Wordlessly, Evergreen wrapped her arms around Elfman's neck and prepared to be brought back unto the ground.
It was harder to climb with the extra weight, but Elfman managed pretty well. It only took a few minutes before he was almost down. The real challenge though was to climb when Evergreen was constantly choking him whenever a branch cracked or a creepy bug came along. He didn't tell her though, because as a man, it was his duty to bear it. Just as he thought he was about to die, his feet finally hit the dirt and Evergreen let go.
Evergreen had never been so glad to be on the ground again. Without thinking, she went and gave Elfman a huge hug and then afterwards, embarrassed, mumbled, "Thanks…"
Looking for someone underwater is already very hard. Searching without eyesight is nearly impossible.
Not knowing what else to do, Jellal yelled while treading water, "Erza! Erza, if you can hear me, I can't see so this might take a while!" Steeling himself, Jellal sucked in his breath and dived down once more. Jellal shuddered, feeling like he was in a massive, never ending black hole. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he touched a slimy clump of seaweed.
Going back to the surface for air, Jellal realized that he could be wandering farther and farther from Erza since he had no idea where he was. Desperately trying to make something of his surroundings, Jellal rubbed at his eyes again. As he did that, he heard the flutter of a bird's wings as it dived down for a fish. By the sound, Jellal could tell the bird was a little way from him, to the left.
"Stupid bird, with perfect vision," Jellal mumbled. "Seriously, how do blind people manage? This is so frustrating!"
Suddenly, Jellal's mind took him back to his childhood, to the Tower of Heaven where his young self cautiously approached a middle-aged man sitting by their cell.
"Sir, are you blind?" the young Jellal asked curiously.
"Hm?" the man said turning his head to look straight at Jellal. "Oh, yeah, I'm blind. Those murderers took out my eyes when they ransacked my village," he spat.
Jellal blinked, and then waved his hand in front of the man's face. "But, but, then how do you know where I am? And how do you not crash into everything?"
The man chuckled, "Son, just 'cause I can't see you doesn't mean I sense where you are. Close your eyes, you'll see what I mean."
Jellal did as he was told and obediently close his eyes.
The man spun Jellal around until he became dizzy and then asked, "Listen to my voice, can you tell where I am?"
Jellal thought for a moment and then said, "Slightly behind me, to my right?"
"Right you are! See, it's hard to tell, but not impossible. Now, when you're walking around objects that can't talk, well, let's just say, you learn to be careful."
Gajeel cursed as he stared at the huge, murky swamp. It would be impossible to cross that thing and look for Levy. Walking as close as he dared, Gajeel bellowed, "LEVY!"
From in the middle of the swamp, Levy heard Gajeel and finally stopped shaking.
"GAJEEL!" Levy cried, eyes widening in relief.
Gajeel cupped his hands together and yelled, "Are you ok? Why are you crying?"
Smiling at his concern, Levy hiccupped and replied, "Yeah, it's fine, I'm ok, I was just a little scared…"
Gajeel gave a quick breath of relief before realizing he still didn't have a plan to get the Shrimp out. But wait a minute… thinking wasn't his thing, it was Levy's! "Ok, listen, Shrimp! I don't know how to get you out! You got any ideas?"
Surprised, Levy blinked, "Uh… you could use…" Oh, gosh, there was nothing in this swamp! What could Gajeel possibly use to get her out? Then she saw it, close to the place where she had heard Gajeel's voice come from, there was a tower. "Gajeel! Gajeel! Do you have any rope?"
Levy pouted, well that ruined her plan. But… well… since she didn't have another one, they might as well try it. "Ok, well, Gajeel, look around you. Do you see a tower?"
"Ok, you're going to have to get to the top of the tower to throw me a rope and pull me to the bank."
Confused, Gajeel said, "But I told you… I don't have any rope!"
Slapping the raft in exasperation Levy yelled, "I know! But I don't have another plan, ok? Just, just go and see if you find any on the way!" Oh jeez, Levy thought, please please please someone just give Gajeel some rope.
Gray had lost count a while ago. But if he had to guess, he would probably say this was the 400th cave he had checked. It was actually the 83rd , but still, that was a lot of caves. None of which had held Juvia. Peering into this one, Gray recoiled. This one was dark, like really dark, and even though he was standing right at the entrance, he couldn't see much. After 162 caves, Gray was practically an expert and he knew there was something wrong with this one.
"JUVIA!" Gray screamed from outside the cave.
From within the cave, Juvia's eyes popped open in shock and she quickly reached to wipe off the tears streaming her face. "GRAY-SAMA! JUVIA IS HERE!" she screamed. But then, she remembered her surroundings and quickly added, "GRAY-SAMA! Don't come in! There's no way to get out! It's all darkness and spinning and…", her voice broke, the tears threatening to resurface in her helplessness.
"Like hell I'd leave you there alone! I'm coming in Juvia!" Gray yelled, concern for Juvia overwhelming everything. At this, Juvia did tear up, not out of fright, but out of happiness that Gray was willing to put aside his own safety to come save her. But of course, Fairy Tail as a guild was just like that. And she knew that, but somehow, it managed to touch her heart every time.
Jellal paddled, keeping his head above water as he yelled out, "ERZAAA! CAN YOU HEAR ME?" There was no response. "Shit…" Jellal murmured, wondering if the bubble was sound proof. "ERZAAA!", he tried again.
This time, Jellal heard a faint, "JELLAL!" and grinned before continuing on. "Ok! Listen! I can't see so I'm going to need you to keep yelling out so I can find you!" In response, there was a "OK! JELLLLLLALLLLL!"
Swimming with renewed energy, Jellal swam towards then sound and within a few minutes, he could hear Erza loud and clear. "JELLAL! JELLAL! I SEE YOUR FEET! DIVE UNDERWATER!" Jellal did as he was told and felt his arm brush a bubble before it popped and he felt Erza brush past him and swim towards the surface. As his head broke the surface, he turned and felt Erza treading water next to him.
"Hey, weren't you wearing a huge dress before?" Jellal asked, curious as to how Erza was managing to stay afloat.
"Oh, yeah, I took it off. I had a swimsuit underneath."
Jellal blushed, remembering the last time he had seen her in a swimsuit. Darn it, why'd he have to be blind right now? Ah, it was probably for the best, this wasn't a good time to lose consciousness. "Ok, let's go, which way to the shore?" Jellal asked.
"Just follow the sound of my voice," Erza called as she swam. Jellal did just that and as he swam, he suddenly thought about how Erza's voice was probably the most beautiful thing he would ever hear.
It's not easy to run through a swamp.
By the time Gajeel got to the tower, he was breathing heavily and covered in slime. To him though, all that mattered was that he had gotten there. And that he was going to save Levy.
Kicking open the door, he coughed as a storm of dust rained down. As the debris settled though, he could just make out a dingy space with a single window at the top, facing the swamp and Levy. He decided to climb up to that window and see if he could spot Levy.
He took a couple steps and then BAM- his feet were pulled from under him and he landed face flat on the floor. "THE FU-", Gajeel began before looking backwards at his feet. It was rope. He was been snarled by a huge coil of rope. Rope that was going to save Levy.
Gajeel's eyes widened and he quickly pushed himself up. Gathering the rope, he ran to the window and jumped onto the ledge. "LEVY! LEVY!" he screamed, "I GOT THE ROPE! I'M GOING TO REEL YOU IN!" In his hand, he quickly crafted a small kunai and attached one end of the rope to the end of the knife. Looking back out at the swamp, he yelled, "LEVY MOVE TO ONE SIDE OF THE RAFT!" He saw he shift her position and he held the knife, ready to throw. He knew that if he missed, the consequences would be dire and so his concentration was at a maximum. In one fluid motion, he threw and the knife landed right on target. He saw Levy flinch a little in shock, but she quickly recovered and moved to fasten the string to the raft. After a minute or so, she waved her arms to signal she was ready. Gajeel took his end and pulled, reeling Levy in at a moderate pace.
"GAJEEL, GAJEEL, GAJEEL! I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!" Levy cheered when she was close enough to see her savior. Gajeel grinned and jumped onto the bank to help her off the raft.
"Tsk, this was nothing," Gajeel scoffed as he pulled the raft out of the murky waters.
Levy smiled, of course he would say something like that. "Well, thanks anyways I really appreciate it," she replied and jumped off to give Gajeel a cute little huge.
Stunned, Gajeel stared blankly. He hadn't been lying, this hadn't been that much… So why did he feel like he was on top of the world? It couldn't just be her, right? Right?
Gray was stunned. The floor was gone. He had been walking, walking, and now he was floating. What? How was that possible? And where was Juvia?
"JUVIA! WHERE ARE YOU?"
"HERE! GRAY-SAMA! JUVIA IS HERE!"
"Where the hell is 'here'?" Gray mumbled, thoroughly lost as for what he was supposed to do. He couldn't see anything and he couldn't do much either. He hated feeling this helpless.
The sound of Juvia's voice interrupted Gray's thoughts, "Gray! Gray! Do you still have your magic?"
"Yeah," Gray responded.
"Can you make something to get us out?"
"Um, like… like… an owl! I don't know, Lyon made one before and owls are supposed to be able to see in the dark right? Maybe it could fly us out?"
Gray furrowed his eyebrows, could a creature made of his magic see? He didn't know, but it was worth a try. "ICE-MAKE OWL!" he chanted, a magic seal appearing under his palm. An owl's shape emerged but faded into nothingness a second later. "Dammit," Gray cursed. Even after all these years, he couldn't quite master animate things. And Lyon could. Lyon could save Juvia. Just thinking about it made him pissed. It also made him feel even more helpless.
There wasn't time for this though; he had to get Juvia and himself out. Soon. Concentrating to the fullest, Gray tried again. Still nothing.
"Gray? Gray? Are you ok? What's happening? I'm scared Gray, I hate the darkness…" Juvia cried.
Clenching his fists in frustration, Gray thought about his guild, how they were able to overcome virtually anything. He thought about his friends. And he thought about Juvia. How much she had changed and how she had gotten rid of her darkness. He couldn't let the darkness consume her again. No, he just couldn't.
Pouring every last bit of his magic into his hands, Gray yelled, "ICE-MAKE OWL!" and this time, a magnificent bird soared outwards. It was huge, about five times Gray's size and it flew with Gray on its back! With a mind of its own, it flapped its wings, turning and diving until suddenly, Gray felt a body plop down behind him.
"Gray-sama!" Juvia cried.
"Hey," Gray replied, turning his head to face Juvia. "You were right. It knows where it's going."
Too exhausted for words, Juvia grinned and hugged Gray from behind. Before she fell asleep though, she heard him mutter, "And don't be scared of the dark. You know I'll always be there to help you find light." Yes, she did know, and she loved him very dearly for it.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PLACE!?" Natsu screamed as he felt his foot sink into yet another pool of slime. Smelling the air, Natsu relaxed a bit. At least he was getting closer to Lucy, her scent was strong in the air, and she couldn't be that far away.
Looking ahead in the distance, Natsu spotted a tower. Bingo! On the map, it said Lucy was in a tower, so that had to be the one! With renewed energy, Natsu began charging forward, eager to get to Lucy.
When he was about a couple hundred feet away, the map he had shoved in his pocket suddenly beeped. Pulling it out, Natsu saw the map glowing red in countdown. 30 SECONDS… 29 SECONDS… 28 SECONDS…
"SHIT!" Natsu cursed as he ran, his eyes wide in fear. Lucy was in the tower. What had Rosalind said? Something about being thrown out of a tower? No, no, that wasn't going to happen. It couldn't, not to Lucy. He wouldn't let it happen.
Back in the arena, 50,000 pairs of eyes were glued to the video lacrimas in the center of the stadium. The five pairs already safe were watching too as their maps had transformed into screens. As the final moments passed by, each second felt like an hour. No one breathed as Natsu ran, racing against the beeping timer.
"LUCCYY!" Natsu yelled as he caught sight of his girlfriend hanging out of the massive stone tower.
"NATSU!" Lucy yelled back, her eyes wide open in fear. Rosalind had promised nothing would happen but looking around, there wasn't anyone stepping up to save her. It looked like it was all up to Natsu.
"Lucy-san…" Levy whimpered, leaning close to Gajeel for support.
"Dammit, Natsu, I'll never forgive you if you let her fall," Gray muttered.
6 seconds. 5 seconds. 4 seconds. 3 seconds.
"He's not going to make it…" someone in the crowd cried.
"He's going to make it, Fairy Tail always makes it."
Natsu leaped, soaring with the boost of his fire magic. Lucy wasn't far, but she wasn't close either.
With that, the rope around Lucy disappeared and she dropped, plummeting towards the ground. She didn't scream though, she didn't scream because she believed in Natsu. He had been there to save her before. He had saved her countless times and there was no way he was going to fail this time.
And he didn't. With just a meter between Lucy and the floor, Natsu wrapped his arms around her and rolled, breaking their fall and keeping his promise to protect all his nakama.
Looking at the smiling girl in his arms though, Natsu felt that she wasn't just his nakama. He wasn't sure what she was, but for some reason, his urge to protect her was double what he usually felt. This second had caused him to realize that.
Also, in that second, Crocus went from being dead silent to the loudest place on Earthland.
._. So… how was the chapter?
I know it doesn't make up for eight months of not updating… but… it was REALLY long (almost 7,000 words). I was actually working on it since the last time I updated and had like 3/4ths of it done by the end of summer. But it was taking FOREVER and thenn… the anime stopped and then I stopped getting FanFiction emails so I kinda forgot about FanFiction for a long time… heh heh… It was actually when my friends started writing FanFictions and talking about them that I remembered this.
ANYWAYS, I promise I'll update soon, and just spam my PM box and the reviews if I don't. I have so many more plans for this and I'm definitely going to be using some of the ideas you guys have been sending me, so keep sending if you have one! ^.^
After eight months, I have so much more to tell you guys, but this Author's note is getting long so I'll just leave it at this. OH, BTW, I'm going to try and connect to you readers more! If you have any questions or anything to say to me, leave it in the reviews! 3