The Clock Tower Guild: Re-United.
Disclaimer: No monetary gain is made from this.
"We need a plan, Natsu!" Lucy whispered as we neared the vessel that supposedly had the man using illegal charms on women. "We can't just walk in there and start beating people up!"
"But plans are boring!" Natsu protested, Happy whirling about declaring 'aye' above his head. "See! Happy agrees with me!"
"Aye!" The blue, winged cat decided to fly about Lucy, possibly to vex her even further. "Aye!"
"Then what about you, Shirou?" The blonde crossed her arms underneath her bosom, and I had to blink repeatedly as my mind told me to think upon my words carefully. I had the most intense feeling that this situation was common in my life, and I would have been better off without it. "You can see that we need a plan, right?"
Well, maybe it was just time to admit the truth on the matter.
"What's a plan?" I inquired curiously, scratching my nose as I felt my cheeks redden. My two companions somehow tripped while standing still, and clutched their heads as they gaped at my in surprise. "Err… Sorry?"
"Well, obviously I need to enlighten you on this matter-." Lucy began, and I listened with interest. If she argued for something so much, I had a feeling that it was of utmost importance.
"A plan is summarized in three steps!" Natsu declared passionately, drowning out the blonde's explanation. "You run at the enemy! You beat them up, and then you tell them not to do it again!"
"I see." I nodded at the information, immensely grateful for receiving it. "But if that's the case why don't you like it, Natsu?"
"Because they add things onto the plan!" Natsu crossed his own arms, developing a pout. "I'm fine with the first three, but then they put things on like: be quiet, don't blow things up, don't light that on fire… It gets boring."
"So plans beyond the simplest form limit strategic avenues." I summarized, and Natsu looked onto me as if I had just declared my undying love for gravel. "…Big plans make it harder to fight."
"Yeah!" The pinkish-haired boy nodded enthusiastically at my apt summarization. I couldn't help but smile lightly at my own deduction. His enthusiasm was contagious to say the least. "That's right! Plans aren't fun!"
"Or effective." I agree with my new ally. I couldn't see the enjoyment of fighting, but it wasn't my place to question how others decided to approach combat. Natsu could very well be having the time of his life on the battlefield.
"THAT'S NOT A PLAN AT ALL!" Lucy screeched at the absolute top her lungs. Both Natsu and myself had to cover our ears to prevent the onslaught from robbing us of our hearing. "A plan is-."
"Oi!" A man carrying a crate to the ship took notice of us. "What do you lot think you're doing?"
"Remember the plan!" Natsu declared as he took off in a run. The stocky man dropped his box and withdrew the pistol strapped against his chest.
Natsu crossed the distance in a second, and punched the man right into the waters of the dock.
"The plan!" I agreed with my ally and joined him. I realized that in his enthusiasm, my companion forgot to attend to the third part of the plan. I rushed over to the edge of the dock, where the man was thrashing about. "Don't let your boss use illegal charms against ladies!"
"Good job, Shirou!" My pink haired companion was upon the rampart that led up to the ship. He shot me a thumbs up, which I returned from my crouch at the dock's edge.
"Th-this… what is this?" Lucy clutched her head as she babbled. "I don't even.."
"It's a plan." I clarified with a succinct dip of my chin, I reached out for her ahnd and she took it with confusion. "Let's go help Natsu!"
"The bridge to the boat is over there-." Lucy was about to gesture but I yanked her over. I caught her in my arms as she stumbled into me. "What are you doin-."
I leapt up, my legs receiving energy as I willed them to go higher up than they actually can. The sensation of slight burning entered my mind, but I was more than able to accept the pain. The wind against my face, and the elation of weightlessness at the apex of my jump more than made up for the slight pain.
"EEEEEEYYYAAAAHHHHHHHHh!" My passenger, however, didn't seem nearly as pleased by the feeling as I was! "Oh gods we're going to die! We're going to die! I've barely gotten out my house for a month and I'm going to die!"
I would have been slightly miffed at her declaration, if not for the fact that she didn't actually know what I was able to do. I wouldn't have done what I did if there was even the slightest risk of an ally getting harmed, or an innocent.
I was going to just land on the roof of this ship and-.
The wood broke underneath my empowered limbs, and I swiftly moved so that Lucy was shielded by my body completely. The wood was ridiculously soft and light, but that only served to remind me this was a vessel that treaded on water. The boat would most assuredly not be built in mind for a pair of people landing upon its roofing.
So I crashed into the ship's roof. Right into the middle of an entire group of guys.
"What the-." The most ostentatiously dressed man present declared, taking a step back. There were two women, unconscious at his feet.
Lucy seemed to take initiative and brandished a key with horns upon its body.
A Minotaur appeared, a white spotted with black bull-man, brandishing a very large axe.
Heavy too, if the boat's sudden contact with the wharf's floor was any indication.
"Taurus." The cow seemed ready to say something until he caught sight of the two unconscious and bound ladies at the man's feet. An angry breath of steam came from it's nostrils. "Get Them."
"MOOOOOOOO!" The summoned familiar swumng about its massive axe, and a massive gout of flame opened the door to the large room. Natsu burst in, a wide grin on his face as he ground his knuckles together.
"I knew you'd see my plan!" The pink haired boy declared happily as he charged in, fists flying at the various stunned men within the hold. "Good job, Lucy!"
"Don't act like you planned this!"
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a few of the men draw swords from nowhere. None were special, just forged steel, most not being held for more than minutes at a time.
They deserved better.
I threw my blonde compatriot up, and Happy snatched her up. His small, blue cat was most assuredly much stronger than his body suggested.
The Minotaur took pause when he noticed the sword-wielding fools. His angered charge settling down as he hefted his massive axe. No matter how much strength a person placed behind their axe, a sword will always be faster. A few of the sword-users, as they were most certainly not worthy of the title swordsmen, may be defeated in a single stroke. The rest of the group, however, will be able to attack before he recovered.
I stood at waist-level with the large familiar, but he noticed when I tapped him on the back.
"Go keep your master safe." I jabbed a thumb over at the other group of men, those wielding paltry pistols that didn't even break the monster's hide. "I got this."
I received a snort in response and the monster turned to mind his mistress.
My countenance of my foes brightened considerably, some even began to sport grins as they twisted their weapons in their hands.
"You think you're some sort of, big shot?" One of the men leered, the stench of his breathe wafting from the short distance between me and the group. "We'll be done of you before the minute is over!"
I had answer to that.
I took notice of each weapon they had and the way they held each weapon. The first five used their thin-blades to puncture flesh and inner organs. Three worked with curved blades held their legs farther apart, so their strong swings wouldn't leave them off balance. The last two held their swords slightly forward in a two-handed grip.
I held out my hand as they began to creep forward. They were watching each other more than me until my movement. They didn't want to be the first to assault me.
The blade was thin, having no edge. It was a needle, the hilt made from shaped tin and the handle no more than a larger part of the blade wrapped in horse leather. The man who wielded it fought against his armored foes wearing only the clothes of a farmer and a mask.
I felt compelled by the blade, and I drew a circle upon the wood.
The words of a man long dead passed through my lips. The man who used his intelligence to calculate the ability of the pauper's weapon in my hand, and revolutionize warfare.
"You will not pass this circle." I stood stock straight, my needle-like blade pointed at the ground, one hand behind my back. Experience flowed through me, and I knew that line was no boast.
They charged, in a fashion that they could only hope was as one.
The most vulnerable point of a man were his joints, and those were sorely ever covered by muscle.
The man who first met me wielded a thin blade, but had an actual edge unlike my own. Despite seeming to be smaller, my blade was heavier. The moment his foot stepped into the circle, I struck out. I brought the blade up, and snapped my wrist. The point of the blade hit the man's wrist and buried itself deep, making the man drop his blade.
Two came near simultaneously, I withdrew the needle from where it threaded and held it in level with my chest. Elegance in simplicity, I used the elevation of my blade to make tip pass through their elbows in two strikes. The bones were separated, and ligaments ripped apart, their blades fell flat.
The first man dropped in pain, as five entered my boundary. The situation was no longer within the means of normal men, no matter how much skill was put into play.
But I was no normal man.
My body burned with power. The last of them wielding rapiers, received a strikes against their wrists by the thick metal, breaking the bones. Both of the ones using curved swords held their swords above their heads, my strikes to their shoulders nearly made them drop the heavy blades upon themselves. A man using a broadsword received a slice across his forearms by a single swing of the blade's tip.
The first pair of men collapsed, and the last two paused in their charge against me.
One looked afraid, scared beyond his wits as he looked upon his comrades. Their injuries were easily staunched by their hands alone, but dying from blood loss was still probable should their injuries be left untended.
"Fuck this!" The man with a curved blade reached into his shirt and produced a gun. Displaying startling speed, he shot it in a single movement.
I moved faster.
I vacated my circle in a small leap, my right foot slammed against the wooden flooring and propelled my forward. The needle-blade entered the barrel, and vacated through the back, scratching the man's chin.
The powder then exploded, singing the man's face and knocking him out.
The last one dropped his blade as I withdrew my own from its impromptu scabbard, the tiny lead ball situated at the tip.
I think I handled that fairly well.
"Mistress!" I heard a sudden cry gaining my attention from the prostrated form of the group that attacked me. The reversed-edge Lotus blade appeared over the prostate man, dealing a strike against my last opponent and knocking him out cold. Handy to say the least and I dissipated the needle blade to take stock of the situation.
The best dressed man in the group was holding a pistol against Lucy's head, his other arm holding him in front of her as she struggled in his grip.
"Let her go you bastard!" Natsu growled out, his entire form writhing in flame. The minotaur looked stricken. Judging from the gash on the man's head, he had most probably been decided as unconscious, not biding his time for the opportunity to grab a hostage.
I should have waited and played it out, but my body was having none of that, and neither was I truly. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew for a fact that I wasn't going to let Lucy get hurt.
So instead of staying still and asking for what the man wanted, I charged him with all my might.
My body burned and the wooden flooring became splinters underneath my feet. I felt something pushing me back as my legs strained behind me. It was as though a wall was in front of me, and slowing me down. Slowing me down just enough for the man's finger to press the trigger in shock.
The hammer hit the gun just as I was in front of the man, and the metal ball was about to enter Lucy's skull.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
The muscles in my arms strained against the wall that limited me, but I broke past it with a muted 'pop'. My arm felt as though razor-sharp blades went scored it lengthwise past the invisible barrier. Whips of displaced air ran lengthwise down my coat sleeve, the pain was staggering.
But my hand was right in front of the barrel, just as the ball exited it.
I expected the ball to pierce my flesh, and my bones to stop the shot from harming my companion.
The ball exploded against my hand, turning to dust as though it had hit a solid wall. My hand felt as though it had been through a violent altercation with a door, but not as though a propelled piece of metal just hit it.
Most of the shrapnel that was sent towards me just bounced off my skin, but that was not the case of the man wielding the gun. The bits of the lead ball embedded his fist, and his face. The man screamed as the tiny studs punctured and scored his skin.
I grasped the weapon and it bent underneath the grip of my right arm. I felt blood trailing down in my sleeves, and the ache was nearly unbearable. I had pushed past the limits of my body, but I didn't find anything wrong about it. My pains came from saving a life, nothing wrong could come from that.
My companions looked at me in shock.
Oh yeah, the plan.
"Don't do that again." I told the man clawing metal out of his face.
"I did not agree to this." Lorelei crossed her arms over her coat and pouted. Some part of me wanted to say that the expression was unfair, but another part stated that I must have done something correctly if she was bringing out the big guns. In all honesty, I didn't understand how my mind came up with either conclusion, so I merely let her talk her piece. "There is no point in joining a guild when we're already in one."
I watched the station for a bit, tuning out the gripes of my companion as she vented. My mind told me to nod at every other moment, just so that she thought I was listening. It appeared to be working, so I didn't complain as I silently watched for our companions to arrive.
I gathered sight of Lucy dragging a despondent Natsu to the rail line, followed by Happy. The blue, winged cat carried a paper bag with him. It was probably food, as I had been told the trip to Magnolia was going to take at least four hours.
I opened the window to the room we were in.
"Hey!" I called to gain their attention. Happy homed in immediately, flying through the window and dropping the bag on my lap. The cat took to the racks above with gusto, setting himself down with a lazy sigh. "Get over here already! The train leaves in a minute!"
"Natsu has motion sickness!" Lucy growled as she pulled the now-struggling man. "He doesn't want to come!"
"I'll just run there!" Natsu protested as the girl dragged him by the hem of his black vests. "I'll meet you there tomorrow!"
"As if Fairy Tail would believe I'm good enough for them without someone supporting me!" Lucy pulled the man forward.
"That's kind of mean." I hesitatingly mused aloud, much to the amusement of my compatriot. "I'm pretty sure Natsu doesn't have a problem with telling them you're great anytime."
"Yeah!" Natsu eagerly clambered onto the lifeline. "You don't need to hurry or anything! I'll tell them you're a great mage any day of the week! Everyone will love you anyways!"
The blonde's face lit up a brilliant red in response to the compliments. Natsu straightened his stance and gave the girl a huge grin.
"Any gal who risked themselves to save other people is welcome to Fairy Tail." The Pink-haired boy declared with a large smile. "You don't need me to get accepted into Fairy Tail!"
"H-heh." The blonde scratched the back of her head, focusing intensely upon her shoes. "I guess that I'm just a little nervous…"
"A little?" My companion snarked, and I leveled a glare at her. She snorted and rolled her eyes at my attempt to express my opinion on her statement. "Feh."
I let myself out of the train via the opened window, Natsu took immediate notice.
"What are you doing?" The pink haired boy inquired, settling his massive backpack on his shoulders. I could only hazard to what was within, but I hadn't heard a single clattering of metal within its confines
"You have problems with traveling on trains?" I inquired and the pink haired boy rubbed the back of his head, something akin to embarrassment lighting up on his features.
"Eh heh," The young man gave a nervous chuckle. "On anything moving really, my stomach just can't handle it-."
"Well what if you're asleep?" I inquired thoughtfully.
"Well it really hard to sleep…"
"No worries, I got this." I gave him a smile and he took a step back as I summoned the Lotus blade.
I struck, his reflexes were honed well enough that he had the time to lean to the side of my downward slash. Thankfully, the man who first used the blade was well accustomed to such skilled opponents, and the blade willed my hands to move it mid-swing into one towards the side.
Natsu crumpled like a sack of potatoes, drool leaking out of his mouth as his eyes became unfocused.
"Worked out great!" I informed Lucy as I picked Natsu up and threw him over my shoulder. I already had my ticket stub to enter the train, and his was in his pocket. "Looks like our rooms are right next to each other too! Want to stay with us, Lucy?"
Lucy seemed to be shivering, and her skin was unusually pale for some odd reason. The blade in my hands faded as there was no longer use for it, and I placed a hand against her forehead.
"You alright?" I asked, "You look pretty sick…"
"I'm fine!" Lucy backed into the train, holding out her hands and shaking them furiously. I watched the display with a measure of trepidation. Maybe she had some sort of sickness that made her frantic? "No need to knock me out or anything! I'll go ahead and get inside!"
Those words hanging in the air, the blonde hurried into the train. The attendant looked reasonably flustered as I handed her Natsu's ticket and showed my own stub. I had the feeling that Lucy wasn't feeling as well as she let on. Being held up with a gun against one's head was a situation that people did not recover from easily.
It must have been quite traumatizing to see.
I was surprised to find Lucy speaking candidly with Lorelei once I arrived with Natsu in tow.
Truth be told, speaking candidly with Lorelei meant that she gave nods when she thought appropriate. Lorelei accomplished this while making it seem she was ignoring you.
I had a feeling my own methods of dealing with her gripes, stemmed from her own actions. I couldn't help but feel there was a semblance of irony in the situation. Though I didn't know whether to be worried or not about the fact that she was influencing me.
"…and then he caught the bullet with his bare hands!" My blonde companion shook her head in exasperation. Judging from the statement she just uttered, I had very little doubt they were talking about me. Since Lorelei's eyes promised pain and suffering once I entered, I had even less of an inclination that the topic wasn't on myself. "And now he's knocked out Natsu just so that he can join us on the train!"
"Are you telling on me?!" I felt slightly betrayed as I set myself down on the bench opposite. I made sure to law Natsu sideways so that he didn't choke on his on spittle. I was in quite an odd problem until I laid his head on my lap, his spittle dripping onto the floor. "That's not very nice, Lucy."
"People don't just knock people out!" Lucy's hands ruffled through her tied-back hair in a frenzy. The result made her seem very disheveled to say the very least. I truly worried for her mental health after the hostage situation that she had the misfortune of being a victim to. "You're just plain crazy!"
That declaration seemed to take everything out of the blonde, and she sank into the couch languidly.
"…Ok." I decided that it wasn't the best time to question her views on people. Lucy was obviously stressed and maybe even downright manic. "…Errr… So you're joining Natsu's guild?"
A change of topic, yeah that was a good choice.
"Yeah…" The blonde seemed to trail off a second after her affirmation. "I guess you could say that I'm excited…"
I sensed a negative…
"But…" I inquired and the blonde gave a hefty sigh.
"I'm not exactly strong." Lucy seemed pained to admit it, and I leveled a glare at Lorelei before she could comment. The glare I received could have peeled paint, but I didn't want to stress Lucy in further. "All my powers are tied to my familiars, and I can't even summon them all at the same time."
"I'm guessing that you're not nearly as powerful as they are."
"Not at all." Lucy shook her head with a deprecatory smile. I hazarded that she didn't like that particular fact. "My familiars can easily just leave if they wished, its only our contracts that can get them to help me."
"What sort of contract is it?" Lorelei didn't question, she interrogated. The tone was businesslike and almost akin to the crack of a whip. Despite the lack of volume, it dominated the entire conversation.
Very rude to say the least.
"Well when you have the keys." Lucy reached to her side and produced a ring of keys, there were four or five upon it. Some looked relatively worn, but one looked varnished and new. "You're allowed to summon the spirits whenever you wish, so long as you're a summoning mage that is."
"A normal mage can't just take one of those keys and summon the familiars themselves?" Lorelei's tone could have been a touch nicer, but I knew better than to actually ask her to do so. There was a certain look in her eyes that made me wary of what she was planning on doing. My compatriot didn't take 'no' for an answer.
"Well Celestial Mages are the only ones who can actually summon Celestial Spirits." Lucy scratched the back of her head, one eyes closing as she was taken by deep thought. "Our magic is only for Celestial Summoning, and not really much else besides some utility spells. Celestial Mages are really born into their magic, not like everyone else…"
"I see." Lorelei concluded her inquisition with a dip of her chin. I had no doubt she had crossed off summoning as a magic that she would endeavor to master… or maybe she just put it off for later. I didn't ponder too far into her thought process in the off chance that she may find it irritating if I questioned her. "That's too bad."
That statement ended her interest in the conversation without another word, she pulled up her hood and leaned against the wall.
"So why are you so worried about Natsu's guild not accepting you?" I inquired after it apparent that my companion no longer held any vested interest in the conversation. Someday, that aloofness of hers was going to get her in some odd situations with people like herself. I could only hope that I would not be present should that ever come to pass. "Your magic sounds as though it's pretty rare, there is surely not any reason for them to object to you."
"Maybe any other guild that would be the case." The tad-underdressed young woman admitted, heaving a slight sigh as she leaned on her hand. Her elbow rested upon the window, and her tied back golden locks began to fly as the train gathered speed. "But Fairy Tail is the very best guild there is in Fiore."
"Well if that's the case, you've most certainly impressed a member of that group already." I gestured to the unconscious male drooling onto the floor with a slight smile. I was sure that he would thank me later. If the abhorrence he had shown was but a small fraction of his hatred for moving vehicles, he would most certainly be grateful for my actions. "I'm quite sure that any group that would have Natsu wouldn't be as terrifying as you might imagine."
"I guess…" The blonde gave a sigh, leaving her position and placing her hands against the leather seats of the carriage. Some part of me felt squeamish at the thought of how many cows went into furnishing the entirety of the train, but I didn't voice it given most of my actions towards most of the wild animals I'd encountered in the world. "I'm really just worried about The Fairy Queen really."
"Queen?" Barthomeloi's tone was like a whip, tearing through the air with an oppressive crack. Had the conversation been glass, her tone would have been a rock that smashed it to pieces. "That's quite the title to wear…"
"W-well she's an S-class mage." Lucy found herself stammering under the full brunt of Lorelei's attention. I'd feel sorry for her if not for the fact she was providing me ample time to distract my companion. Buy me time Lucy! Stammer as though you had never stammered before! "Y-you know what they do right?"
"Enlighten me." The crisp tone she used may have been thought to be general intrigue by some, but it was not the case for her. The tone was the calm before the storm. The literal storm as well, the last she'd used that tone was against an inn-keeper that refused to let us in, due to our mud-tracks. My powerful partner had unleashed nothing short of category three winds upon the inn and left nothing intact.
I'd paid for the damages too, that made quite the blow upon our available currency. The benefits of having so many dangerous animals and lacking in hunters were the only reasons why we weren't on the run from the security of this country. I'd suspected that she may not have been pleased with the prospect of me doing something like cleaning up after her messes, so I didn't say a word about it.
I felt like a janitor sometimes, and a large part of me seemed okay with that. Cleaning up after the messes of extremely powerful beings without their knowledge was a lot better than being held against the wall by one of said beings.
As Lucy began to extrapolate on her statements, I looked onto the verdant greens of the countryside passing by and couldn't help but feel tired.
Traveling from place to place, looking for home, that had been my life since I had awoken in that clearing. I really knew nothing else but that life, and as much as Lorelei wanted to argue that she wanted to continue, my companion was getting tired of it as well. The two of us were alone in the strange world, held together by our clothing and the marks upon our skin.
Meeting Natsu had been refreshing, and the situation I'd encountered was far more likable than the hunts Lorelei and I had worked upon. I felt refreshed after that simple act of helping others, and I could only hope that Lorelei would feel the same.
The two of us, no matter how much Lorelei insisted, couldn't stay our course forever. We were getting worn down, and every effort we made to look up a rumor just felt like another devastating failure after another. Joining a guild, getting allies, widening the search, those were far better goals than just staying alone.
I can only hope that Natsu's guild can help us find the rest of my own, and maybe find our home in the process.