I do not own TYPE-MOON, Fate/Zero, Fairy Tail, or anything to do with any of the fields.
"So these... Gate keys... they summon creatures to help you fight?" I asked, eying the golden key that Lucy held in her hand, shaped like an axe and engraved with the symbol for Taurus on it.
She nodded from where she sat beside me on the bench of the train station, "yep. The spirits summoned by these keys are called Celestial spirits. The silver ones are more numerous, and summon the more base constellations. The golden ones, though? Those are super rare, and summon the most powerful spirits from the constellations of the Zodiac," she shifted her gaze to the key in her hand, "this one summons Taurus the Golden Bull, a heavily combat-based spirit."
I nodded, scratching at my chin. These Celestial spirits sounded eerily similar to Servants in terms of how the whole "contract" and "summoning" thing worked...
It was then that a certain fire mage decided to let out a scream of frustration.
"I hate this! Teaming up with you is the worst idea ever!"
"I agree! Erza made a huge mistake asking a loser like you to come along!"
I spared a bored look at Natsu and Gray as they began to argue once again, drawing the attention of almost everyone in the train station.
"Well fine! Why don't you just go by yourself!? I don't want to go anyways!"
"Sounds good to me! Then I get to watch Erza beat you senseless!"
"... Let's just pretend we don't know them," Lucy muttered, hanging her head as their argument once again became a torrent of pointless and random insults.
"Didn't Mira send you along to keep them from fighting?" Happy asked as he chewed on a piece of raw fish.
"Yeah. But there's no real point in trying. They're hopeless," she huffed.
I chuckled, then fell into a brief coughing fit, though it failed to ruin my mood, "watch and learn, Lucy. Watch and learn."
I stood, taking my crutch up once again and awkwardly hobbling in the direction of the arguing wizards. I waved my good arm wildly to grab their attention, "alright, you two. That's enough. Break it up."
Gray turned to glare at me, decked out in a long white leather trenchcoat and a pair of black pants (which quite frankly I am amazed that he hasn't lost yet), "who the hell asked you!?"
Natsu opened his mouth to shout, then stopped, raising an eyebrow at me as he noticed my presence for the first time, "Kariya? What are you doing here?"
I glanced at the fire mage, smirking, "just tagging along for the ride, Natsu. And Gray, that's not important. What is important is the fact that if you two fight here, you have a good chance of blowing up the entire station. You know what happens if you do?"
They glanced at each other, then gave me a quizzical look; and somehow, I was not surprised at their utter lack of both common sense and an answer.
I shook my head, sighing, "if you blow up this station, you make Erza mad. If Erza gets mad, you get beaten up," at this, both their faces blanched, and I smirked. In terms of thought process, I had them right where I wanted them, "given the looks on your faces, I don't think that's something either of you want. Now... do you know what the best way to avoid being beaten up is?"
They looked at each other once again, then began grumbling under their breaths. I turned my head, cupping my ear with one hand, "I'm sorry, I couldn't quite hear you. What was that?"
They glared at me, then began grumbling again, a little louder this time. I leaned in further, my grin nearly splitting my head in two, "I still can't hear you."
"... Getting along as best we can," they finally managed.
I nodded, returning to as normal of a standing position I could manage, "very good. Now, I'm not expecting you to be friends or anything, but could you at least play nicely for as long as we're away from the guild? When we get back, you can beat the crap out of each other as much as you two want."
They glared at each other one last time before turning to look at me. Finally, Gray sighed, crossing his arms, "fine."
Natsu did the same, snorting, "but we don't have to like it."
"Like I said, you don't have to," I huffed, coughing slightly, "just don't fight while we're out of town or around stuff that's important. That'll make more than just Erza mad."
With that, I slowly managed to turn around, and walk back to the bench, unable to repress an amused smirk at the looks on Lucy and Happy's faces.
"Y... You got them to stop fighting," Lucy managed.
"Yep," I set the crutch against the bench before slowly sitting down, leaning against the back and rolling my shoulders slightly.
"You didn't even throw a single punch! And it was your first try!" Happy gaped, his fish forgotten on the ground as he waved his... arms? Forelegs? Ah, forget it. As he waved his paws about frantically.
"No one's ever been able to do that before!" Happy shouted.
I raised an eyebrow, "really?"
"Even Erza and Mirajane and Laxus had to punch them both at least once before they stopped fighting the first time they tried!" the cat hopped in place, clearly still disbelieving of what he'd seen.
I chuckled, my mind wandering to Sakura and Rin, "what can I say? I'm good with kids."
I stared up at the ceiling, my smile slipping slightly as Aoi came to mind along with her children.
Would I ever see any of them again?
Were any of them even still alive?
I pursed my lips slightly, only to be broken free of my train of thought by a new voice, "sorry I'm late. Did I keep you waiting?"
I felt my smile return as I recognized Erza's voice. I turned towards her, giving a slight wave, then blinked.
It took me all of five seconds for the fact that the gargantuan multicoloured wall behind her was just a gigantic caravan of suitcases.
"ALL THOSE BELONG TO YOU!?" Lucy nearly shrieked.
"It's time to go, good buddy!" Gray shouted, having thrown his arm over Natsu's shoulder.
"Aye, haha!" Natsu called.
I felt my eye twitch as Lucy shouted, "listen, Natsu! One Happy is enough!"
As Erza turned her attention to Lucy, I kept my eyes focused on Natsu and Gray; every time Erza looked away, they returned to glaring at one another, their teeth grated, set against each other like slats in a fence.
I sighed, scratching at the back of my head.
Maybe keeping those two in line was going to be tougher than I thought.
"And you are?" Erza's voice once again broke into my thoughts, drawing my attention from the mages. I met her gaze, which was a clear look that was surprisingly... chilling in comparison with her voice. Her face betrayed no emotions, but there was an undercurrent of something else beneath both her expression and her words.
What scared me, though, was that I couldn't place what it was.
I shuddered slightly, then shrugged it off, extending a hand forwards, "Kariya Matou."
She nodded, extending a hand in turn, clasping my hand with a surprisingly strong grip, "Erza Scarlet. Mirajane says you're not a part of the guild?"
I shook my head, "nope. Natsu, Lucy and Happy just found me in the middle of nowhere a few days ago. I know it sounds weird, but Natsu actually threatened to knock me out and drag me back to the guild because... well... look at me. I'm not in the best shape."
She nodded again, though it was considerably slower this time, her eyes narrowed slightly, "I see. Will you be staying long?"
I gave a slight chuckle, "that depends on whether or not I like the guild. So far, the impression has been positive for the most part, but I wanted to see what the whole 'wizard job' thing entailed," I shifted slightly on the crutch, "that's why I'm coming along for the ride. To get some firsthand experience of what being a Fairy Tail wizard involves."
She smirked slightly, most of the tension in the conversation and the air around her dissipating, "considering joining so soon, are we?"
I shrugged, "well, I don't really have many other choices at the moment. I literally have no idea how I wound up in the forest Natsu and Lucy found me in to begin with. A lot of this is new to me; if I do anything else at this moment in time, I'll be walking in blind. I'm not sold yet, but I have a feeling that what I see on this mission of yours is what's going to be a main factor in my final decision."
She gave a chuckle of her own, giving a slight bow, "well, when Mirajane talked to me about it, she seemed rather protective of you. So regardless of whether you become a member or not, you may as well know that until you give us a reason to change our decision, you are always welcome at Fairy Tail."
I bowed as best I could, though it still looked like an awkward stumble at best, "thank you. It's good to know you guys are on my side."
"Hey Erza," Natsu's voice drew everyone's attention as he suddenly piped up. His eyes hardened into a surprisingly strong mask that hid whatever fear he might have had as he spoke, "I'll go with you, but I have one condition."
I blinked, caught off guard by his sudden declaration. Where'd his sudden backbone come from?
Erza nodded towards him to show that he had her attention, "very well. Name it."
"Alright," Natsu's face suddenly split into a savage grin, his green eyes seeming to glint slightly as he clenched his fists, "I want a rematch when we get back to Fairy Tail."
Everyone except Erza herself was taken aback at that, Gray and Lucy going so far as to take a step or two back from the pink haired mage and the wizard in armour. The black haired wizard hissed beneath his breath, "what the hell is wrong with you, Natsu?! You got some kind of death wish!?"
Heedless of his rival's warning, Natsu continued, "I'm a lot stronger than what I was last time," his eye started twitching slightly, and I smirked, knowing he was running out of bravado quickly in spite of the sheer confidence his voice continued to give off, "this time will be different. 'Cause I'm gonna beat you."
Erza's smirk widened slightly as she closed her eyes, "I'll admit that you have gotten stronger since our last fight, Natsu. But as to whether or not you can beat me... I suppose we'll have to wait and see," she opened her eyes again, "I accept your challenge."
Flames began to dance around Natsu's body as his grin grew to maniacal proportions, "oh, yeah!" fire then outright exploded outwards from his body, "I'M ALL FIRED UP!"
His bravado immediately disappeared into nothingness as I smacked him upside the back of the head, causing him to stumble and the flames to dissipate. He shot a glare at me, "what the hell was that for?"
"For using magic in the station. Using magic in the station is far more likely to blow it up than arguing with Gray in the station, and that's saying a lot, Natsu," I scolded, crossing my arms as best I could "you really do have the mentality of a six year old, you know that?"
Natsu opened his mouth to argue when Erza cut in, "while I normally wouldn't approve of your attack on a member of the guild, Kariya, I do recognize your point. Natsu's magic is quite destructive at the best of times," she crossed her arms, giving Natsu an expectant look, "I expect you to be more mindful of where and when you use your magic in the future, Natsu."
"A-aye..." Natsu murmured weakly, evidently cowed by Erza's words.
As the wizards took what little (or in Erza's case, the convoy) they had onto the train, Happy spoke up, "I think Kariya would be an amazing addition to the guild, Erza!"
She raised an eyebrow, "what makes you say that, Happy?"
He pointed at me, "he got Natsu and Gray to stop fighting on his first try! And he didn't even have to throw a single punch!" he returned his gaze to Erza, "even if he isn't all that strong, you have to have some kind of special talent in order to do that!"
She blinked, staring at me with what looked like open shock as I gave a nervous chuckle, waving my arm in denial, "no, not really," I scratched at the back of my head, "I'm just good with kids."
She continued to give me that dumbfounded look for a long few seconds before finally composing herself, giving me a look of curiosity, "so then how did you do it?"
I tapped the side of my head, "logic. Kids are afraid of one specific thing and always want another. Punishment and reward, respectively. Against most people their age, those aren't much of a motivator unless each is severe, but, well... Natsu and Gray aren't exactly your average teenagers," I began hobbling forwards onto the train, Erza falling into step beside me, "I just said that fighting in the train station isn't like fighting in the guild. The station can't take anywhere near as much abuse, so it would probably fall apart. Which in turn would make you mad, and prompt you to beat the crap out of them. On the other hand, if they wait until they get back to the guild, they can beat the crap out of each other with relatively minimal consequences."
She brought her hand to her chin, scratching at it slightly as she thought my reasoning over before finally nodding, smiling, "that makes sense," she turned her gaze to me, "it's good to know that I'm not the only one on this trip who can keep those two under control. Honestly... they're so frustrating sometimes."
I chuckled again, "it's good to know that I'll be of some use on this little adventure."
It wasn't long before I was sitting down again by the window of the train, the beauty of the landscape beside me almost enough to ratchet my interest away from the clearly miserable Natsu.
The boy was slumped where he sat, his face pale and his eyes opened wide, a slight amount of drool dripping down from his lip, sounds akin to the gags of a choking rat escaping his throat every few seconds.
"Idiot," Gray snorted from his place beside me, "you go around picking a fight, and now this? You really are pathetic."
I gave him a warning look, then turned my attention back to the pained fire mage, "is he gonna be alright?"
"Don't worry about Natsu," Happy stated, "he's always like this with vehicles."
"So he's got... motion sickness issues?" I blinked, "isn't there magic to deal with that? I mean, that sounds like a pretty minor problem."
Erza shook her head from where she sat beside Natsu, her legs crossed, "unfortunately, nothing we've tried so far has worked. He will never use vehicles to get from place to place unless absolutely forced to do so."
I felt my eye twitch slightly, "and yet you're making him take the train? I'm not sure how urgent your business is, Erza, but that seems a bit extreme."
She nodded sagely, then proceeded to ram her armoured fist full-tilt into the side of Natsu's stomach, much to everyone else's shock. The boy choked, then fell to the side limply, his head resting on the armoured mage's lap. She patted his head, smiling, "there. That should make the trip a bit easier on him."
I felt my eye twitch again as my gaze went from the unconscious Natsu to the woman who now had him in her grasp.
I was suddenly no longer sure that she was the best baby sitter for Natsu or Gray. Let alone anyone else.
"So... miss Erza..." Lucy started, clearly eager to change the subject.
The redheaded wizard waved her hand dismissively, "just call me Erza."
At this, the blond celestial mage visibly brightened, "alright then. I was just wondering... what kind of magic do you use?"
I gave a slight flinch as Lucy brought up the topic, shifting my gaze to the rapidly passing landscape in hopes that the others wouldn't notice.
Erza gave a knowing smile as Happy cut in, "Erza's magic is really pretty," he stood up, throwing his paws in the air, "she makes people bleed all over the place!"
At this, my cringe became immediately visible.
Now I was certain I didn't want Erza babysitting my children, if I ever had any. Assuming I ever got the chance.
Erza gave another wave of her hand out of the corner of my eye, "my magic really isn't that special. I personally think that Gray's magic is much prettier than mine."
At this, the ice mage raised an eyebrow, raising his hands before him, closing one into a fist, "you think so?" he put his fist over his outstretched palm.
Immediately, what looked like steam rushed between his fingers, and I could feel the temperature around us decrease before he finally opened his hand... revealing a perfectly sculpted figurine of the Fairy Tail guild symbol, made completely of ice so clear and clean it almost looked like glass.
"Oh, wow!" Lucy breathed, completely entranced by the object that now lay in Gray's palm.
"The magic I use is Ice Make magic," Gray huffed before promptly closing his hand around the symbol again. Steam erupted from his fingers again before he leaned back in his chair, the symbol gone.
Lucy then put a hand to her chin, as though in thought, before a look of realization crossed her face, a mischievous grin reaching across her features, "so that's why you two don't get along!" she pointed at Natsu, "he uses fire," she stated, before quickly turning her attention back to Gray, "and you use ice!"
Erza gave her own smirk, crossing her arms, "I never thought about it that way."
Gray cocked his head, clearly confused, "thought about it how?"
I waved my hand slightly, sighing, "never mind, Gray."
The armoured mage then turned her attention to Lucy, "so, then, Lucy... while we're on the topic of magic, what kind do you use?"
The blonde shifted slightly in her seat, as though nervous, "w-well..." she reached to her hip, then brought her keys into view, "I'm a celestial wizard."
Erza nodded, looking at the keys with clear interest, "fairly self explanatory," she stated. After a few seconds, she raised an eyebrow, "three golden gate keys?" her hands began to twitch, as though she wanted to yank them from their owner's hands to take a better look, "powerful ones, too... wow... most celestial wizards don't even see one for their entire lives," she crossed her arms, smiling, "you must have some luck, Lucy."
Lucy looked away, clearly abashed by the compliment. Then, she looked past Gray to get a better look at me, her face one of curiosity, "what about you, Kariya? Do you know any magic?"
I cringed. That was the one single question I'd been hoping no one would ask.
I opened my mouth to protest when Erza continued, "yes... I am quite curious about your magic, Kariya," she crossed her arms, looking at me expectantly, "you wouldn't even consider joining Fairy Tail if you didn't know any."
Gray raised an eyebrow, clearly expecting me to respond.
I grated my teeth slightly, knowing I'd been boxed in, and likely wouldn't be getting out of this without at least telling them something.
I swallowed harshly, wondering how to go about responding. Finally, I sighed in resignation, "well... I know two main pieces," I ventured, still trying to think my way around the situation, "one I'm not sure still works... if it doesn't, I'll have to preform a ritual to get it back up and running again," I lifted my right hand, the crimson mark on my skin blazing in the light and catching everyone's attention, "luckily, I'm pretty sure that I still have the means to preform that ritual, if worse comes to worst. As for the other..." I swallowed again, "well... it's not something I like using. And it should definitely not be used in public. I can't even control it properly, and using it puts a huge strain on my body."
Erza's and Gray's eyes narrowed, while Lucy's face shifted to one of concern.
Finally, the redhead nodded, "I see," she stated, "and will you be using these magics on this expedition?"
I met her gaze evenly, "only if I absolutely have to. Both of the magics I know are highly risky. Not just to me, either," I leaned back against my chair, staring at the mark on my hand, "believe me... if I could, I'd leave these magics behind in an instant. But it isn't that simple," I pointed at the left side of my face, turning my head to give her a better look. When she saw it, her eyes narrowed further, prompting me to continue, "this is the least of what learning those magics did to me."
"... Then why did you learn them?" Gray ventured, his own eyes narrowed.
I turned my attention to the ice wizard, "put simply? I had no choice. Someone I cared about was threatened. I learned what I had to to save them, and acted accordingly. Simple as that."
At this, the looks both Erza and Gray were giving softened considerably, suspicion changing to understanding within the span of a few seconds.
"Anyways," Gray started, drawing the conversation away from me, "I think it's time you filled us in, Erza. What exactly are we doing? What about this issue of yours could be so dangerous that you would ask Natsu and I of all people for help?"
Erza closed her eyes briefly as everyone's attention turned to her. When she opened them again, her expression had once again reverted to that utterly stoic calm that she normally exuded.
"Very well," she began, "I have reason to believe that the Dark Guild Eisenwald is planning something. Something having to do with a magical item known as 'Lullaby'."
"Lullaby? Like, the kind of song used to sing children to sleep?" Lucy asked.
Erza allowed herself a brief nod before glancing at me. She then returned her gaze to the rest of the company, "perhaps I should start from the beginning. While I was on my way back to the Guild, I heard a rumor on the road that I find particularly troubling. I had stopped off to get a quick meal at a pub in Onibas, and I overheard a group of wizards talking about something they called 'Lullaby'. At first I'd thought little of it. But when I heard the name 'Erigor', I began paying a bit more attention. Unfortunately, their conversation didn't go much further from there, and they left before I caught onto the significance of either name," her eyes narrowed considerably, "they mentioned that this 'Lullaby' item had been sealed away - that can only mean it involves extremely powerful magic. As for Erigor..." her teeth grated against themselves as she bit out her next words, "I can't believe I was such a fool that day. Erigor was - no, he is Eisenwald's ace wizard - their most powerful member, and if the conversation I'd overheard at the pub was anything to go by, their current leader. The reason he's so infamous is because he only accepts assassination requests - and he's become so adept at killing over the years, that he's earned the name Erigor the Reaper."
At this, Gray's eyes narrowed, and Lucy's expression quickly changed to a look of fear and shock. She opened her mouth to speak when I interjected, my own expression caught between shock and anger, "you mean this guy kills for money!?"
Again, Erza nodded, "yes. When the Magic Council outlawed assassination requests six years ago, Eisenwald continued as though nothing had changed - they decided that money was more important than the Council's laws. As a result, they were kicked out of their Guild League and were ordered to disband. When they did not, they were labeled as a Dark Guild, and they've been in hiding ever since, carrying out their missions in the shadows."
I felt my teeth grate against each other as I slumped back in my seat, my eye twitching, my hand clenching into a fist as images of people began to circulate through my head. Tokiomi. Zouken. Mages I'd come across while traveling, always regarding the "common masses" with a regard similar to that of disgust and disdain.
The more I thought about it, the more I was sickened, and the angrier I became. I felt my nails begin to bite through my skin, my jaw begin to ache from my frustration, and the worms within my body begin to slowly writhe throughout my system...
"Kariya...?" I barely heard Gray's voice through the pounding of my blood vessels as my anger continued to rise.
"These people," I hissed, feeling the worms burrow through my body with greater vigor than they had since I'd arrived in this world, "no... these animals... who the hell do they think they are!?" my hand shot forward, latching itself onto the windowsill as I struggled to stand, "they're no better than Zouken... no better than Tokiomi... no better than that serial killer*!"
"Kariya," Erza's stern voice echoed in my ears, but I ignored her.
I stared at the Command Seal on the back of my hand, my eye still twitching as a sick grin plastered itself on my face, "I'll kill them..." I clenched my fist again, my breaths harsher than ever, my thoughts racing, 'I'll summon Berserker, and have him kill them all... then I'll feed whoever's left to the worms!'
"Kariya," I flinched, my head jerking upwards as I felt someone grab a hold of my arm. Erza now stood, her face and voice calm, but not cold or unkind, "that's enough."
I stood there for a long minute, only maintaining my gaze before she continued, "I realize you're angry, Kariya. I am too. Blood money sickens me as much as it does the next person," she relinquished her grip, motioning for me to sit back down. When I did so, she followed suit, "but we can't afford to lose ourselves in our anger. All that will accomplish is getting more people hurt. We need to remain calm, analyze the situation, and then put an end to this mess when we have a good idea of what we are dealing with."
I sat in silence for a long few moments, absorbing her words and allowing them to bring me back into a state of relative calm. Finally, I nodded, though I remained silent, the worms slowly settling back down as well.
"... It's official," Happy stated, hopping to the chair across from us and sitting down by Natsu's head, "Kariya is the scariest person here when he's angry."
"I won't put him past Erza quite yet, Happy," Gray intoned, staring at me with an expression between pity, suspicion, and some form of sickened intrigue, "but I'll agree... the way your skin was moving just now? That has to be one of the most unnerving things I've ever seen."
Erza also turned her gaze on me, though she said nothing, and Lucy gave me the concerned look that I still wasn't used to seeing on anyone's face.
The rest of the trip to the next town - Onibas, if I remembered correctly - was relatively quiet, the events within those few minutes having been enough to silence everyone for the majority of the trip.
* Those who have seen Fate/Zero know EXACTLY who Kariya is talking about here. Rot in hell, Ryuunoske! Nobody's coming to save you!