Chapter 96:

Natsu pulled his book out of Zeraf's lost hand, wandering for a brief second if he could just destroy it. It didn't seem like a good idea. Zeref didn't really let him think about it for long, rushing at him with a swirl of black tendrils around him. The dragon prince dodged the first two and twisted out of the way of Zeref's fist. In one fluid motion, he was jumping away and sent a blast of Chaos energy at the Black Wizard. Zeref turned towards him, red eyes flashing madly in rage as he reached for the book and Natsu's grip on it tightened, magic sparking around the worn cowers.

With his eyes trained on Zeref, it wasn't hard to see the way he flinched at it and Natsu paused, curious.

"What would happen if I destroyed this book?"

Zeref stopped moving completely and opened his mouth to reply but Natsu spoke before he had a chance, "Something of consequence for you would be my guess"

"Don't even think about it," Zeref growled, "You'd kill yourself"

Natsu raised an eyebrow at him, "Wouldn't my death make your life easier? And besides, you do realize I'm immortal now?"

"You don't even know what that book does. Are you willing to take that risk?"

Quite frankly, Natsu thought the answer was a resounding 'no'. Death didn't really hold the same meaning as it did before to him. Having died once already (or twice if he was being honest with himself) changes things for a person. But be that as it may and his own personal feelings about his death didn't change the fact that Fairy Tail needed him. Now more than ever. His eyes briefly flickered to the sky and to the dark hole.

Just in time to see a humanoid shape barreling towards him, too fast even for him to dodge and he was picked clean off his feet, flying back.

Zeref blinked, shocked at the speed of the collision and he looked up, red eyes narrowing in disgust as Ankhseram floated to a stop a few feet away.

The god smiled at the dark mage. "Zeref"

"Ankhseram," the black wizard said, not even trying to hide his displeasure.

"Damn, brat. You look like shit," Acnologia grounded out as he pushed himself off of his son who sat up with a grimace, ignoring the hand the dragon king offered him as he pulled his legs underneath him and stood up. Acnologia's eyes stayed on Natsu, taking in the obvious lack of skin and muscle on several areas, the still exposed parts of his skull, the book coated in crimson blood gripped in Natsu's hands.

"I've been worse," Natsu finally said, happy to note that the impact only broke a rib. Acnologia seemed to flinch at his words but the movement was so small and fast he thought he might've imagined it. He looked over Acnologia, at the bloodstains on the king's skin and the already forming bruises and bleeding gashes, "You look like shit, too"

Acnologia seemed to contemplate whether to deign that with an answer before ultimately ignoring it and turning to look at Ankhseram and Zeref. He fought back a grimace. Great. Both of them in the same spot. Just what they needed.

"Natsu! It's good to see you again"

"Fuck off"

Ankhseram frowned, the reason he didn't expect such an answer beyond Natsu. The shadowy face of the god darkened as he sent the dragon prince a glare before he looked at Acnologia, "My initial goal was not to interfere with this fight but I can't say that killing you in front of Natsu doesn't make my rotting insides all giddy"

Acnologia rolled his eyes, leaning forward slightly and getting ready to continue the fight. "Bring it on"

Ankhseram smirked, raising a hand towards the dragon king, "Gladly"

Natsu watched as his father sprung into action and as if that was a sign Zeref waited for the black wizard appeared in front of him, fist already moving towards Natsu's head. The dragon prince ducked and brought his hand around Zeref's middle, pivoting on the spot and slamming Zeref into the floor only to be forced to jump back as black energy erupted around the Black Wizard. A flash of blue above them made Natsu's eyes flicker up, watching for not even a moment as Acnologia sent a roar at Ankhseram who flicked his hand through the air, splitting the roar in two. And sending half of it at Natsu and Zeref. His attention already away from Zeref, the mage was inches away from punching Natsu when the dragon prince spread his wings and pushed out of the way of the wayward attack with all his might, managing to avoid most of it but involuntarily ending up in the path of the vengeful god.

Ankhseram grinned widely, black balls of energy erupting around Natsu and exploding in a second before he could react and Acnologia cursed, sending another blast of chaos magic at the god just as Zeref emerged from the dust of the roar and was sent flying away after Acnologia's attack clipped him.

"Fuck," Acnologia cursed under his breath, staring at the smoking area where Natsu had been only to see the dragon prince exit a void behind Ankhseram, wicked grin on the bloody face. "Chaos dragon's iron FIST"

Ankhseram was already moving when Natsu appeared behind him but the blow still glanced his shoulder, making him move several feet across the sky where he flew. Acnologia rushed over, knowing full well that the god wouldn't even be fazed only for Zeref to reach the fighting pair before him, pale fingers reaching for the book in Natsu's grip and Acnologia finally managed to see the lettering on the worn leather.

He felt himself grew paler, barely keeping himself from freezing in the spot. That had no right to be there. Why hasn't Natsu already gotten rid of it? "Natsu! Get rid of that thing!"

The dragon prince didn't turn around to talk back, thankfully, as he pushed Zeref back and then flew up to avoid Ankhseram, the god missing the dragon prince only thanks to Acnologia who had sent another blast of magic at him.

"What exactly do you want me to do with it?!"

"Destroy it!"

Zeref's red eyes flashed and he appeared behind Acnologia in a flash, jumping onto his back and wrapping his arms around the dragon king's throat before the other could react. "NO!"

Acnologia cursed, digging his fingers deep into Zeref's arms before he tore him off and sent him flying through the sky with a blast of chaos magic. He hissed suddenly, pain blossoming over his back and neck and fingers and he looked down at the blackened, purplish skin on his fingers and grimaced.

"I'd do it already but Zeref said it would kill me"

"And you believe him?!"

They shouldn't be arguing right now. Not when Ankhseram didn't let Natsu stay in the same spot for more than a second and Zeref was actively trying to turn him into a rotting corpse with blasts of black energy.

"I don't," Natsu bit back through clenched teeth, landing on the ground not far from Acnologia for a second before he sprang back into the sky. "But I can't really risk it right now!"

"Then throw it into the void!"

Natsu blinked as if that never occurred to him, the sudden hitch in his step enough to let Ankhseram land a solid hit in his side and make a deep gash in his stomach.


The dragon prince coughed, blood spurting from his mouth as his lips twisted into a scowl. "I'm fine, old man," he flexed his fingers, both hands now empty and Acnologia paused, staring in question and Natsu quickly supplied the answer. "But that could be a problem"

Ankhseram followed the pointing hand to the book that Zeref once again clutched in a white-knuckled grip and the god scowled. He knew what the book is. What he didn't know was what would happen. And to Ankhseram, not knowing something was a completely foreign concept. And he didn't like it. Not one bit.

"You idiot! Why didn't you do something about it before?! Do I have to spell it out to you all the time?" Acnologia couldn't help but yell out as he sent an icy glare at Natsu who shot his father a glare of his own. "I was a bit preoccupied," the dragon prince bit out. "And besides, who's to say Zeref couldn't just -"

"Shut up, both of you," Zeref spoke up, almost casual in the way he dragged the edge of his clothes over the covers of the book. And he would probably say more if the sound of wings on the wind like thunder and the roars that vibrated through everything didn't nearly deafen them all.

The four paused looking up to the sky as shadows flew around them in the distance. Natsu and Acnologia shared a quick look, grin working its way on their lips. With this, he dared to hope that there might be someone left alive by the end of this nightmare. He wasn't really sure why it surprised him so much, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.

He had already accepted the fact that he was about to die. He didn't like it. But he accepted it. Because the number of ugly black things that were ready to riddle him with holes was far too large. He already lost too much blood. The missing hand, the hole in his stomach. He regrated not saying some things. A lot of things. He regrated not saving Annie. But at least he and Annie would be together soon.

But it didn't really bring much comfort. Because he knew by the end of the day a lot of people would join them on the other side. And none of them deserved it.

Arthur felt a tear slide down his cheek but he didn't even have enough strength to lift his arm to do anything about it. He looked at Gajeel, the dragon slayer sat a few feet away. He looked oddly frozen in his spot and Arthur wondered if he was already dead. A flash of lightning above him let him know at least Laxus was alive but he couldn't bring himself to even twist his neck up.

He didn't want to die.

He looked at the black creature, its numerous eyes mere inches from his face, droll falling from its jaw onto Arthur's chest and face and if he had enough strength in him, he would've gagged. As it was all that escaped was a soft grunt.

I don't wanna die.

I don't wanna die.

Not now. Not yet.

The demon above him opened its jaws, ready to bite his head.

Horror filled him as he realized what was about to happen. He would be eaten alive. Arthur couldn't think of a worse death. Maybe he'd be lucky enough to bleed out before the thing started tearing him apart.

He blinked, the putrid stench of rot that was coming from the demon in front of him somehow lesser like it was being blown away by the wind and he struggled to figure out what was happening. It took him another moment to force his eyes to open again.

And the demon was nowhere to be seen.

He blinked again, trying to make sense of the silver shape in front of him, of the curved tail and spread wings. But his brain refused to process it. Gajeel suddenly appeared in front of him, tears streaming down the dragon slayer's cheeks and his mouth moving.

Arthur wondered what he was saying.

It made no sense. And he was tired. And he was dying. Being aware that you are dying is terrifying. Arthur wondered if this is how Natsu felt like. He will have to ask him.

Once he wakes up.

And he let his eyes close.

Makarov and Lilith could only stare in shock as the two dragon slayers froze, their whole bodies shaking.

"What did you do?!" Makarov rounded on the demon, enlarged fist crashing into the spot where Lilith stood a brief moment earlier. The demon blinked, not really surprised by the attack but feeling befuddled all the same. "I didn't do anything"

Sting made a sound that went somewhere between a choke and a gasp, his knees buckling and he hit the ground hard with his knees before he fell to his side. Lector shouted in alarm rushing towards him and Rogue only had a moment longer to look at Sting in shock before his eyes rolled back and he fell backward.

"What in the name of the First is going on?!" Makarov couldn't help the growing panic inside him. He had enough to deal with. Lilith thankfully didn't look particularly interested in their fight, her eyes flickering back to the duo on the ground in morbid curiosity. She didn't let him get close enough to check up on them though, pushing him back with a spell or a fist every time he tried to get closer.

The ground trembled bellow their feet suddenly and Makarov nearly lost his footing as a bright white light shot out of Sting and Rogue, the light quickly forming a shape that Makarov could recognize with no trouble.

The clawed feet formed first, one set black, the other white, followed by the rest of the body, the wide wings, and long tails, and finally sharp teeth that stood bared at Lilith who in her shock barely managed to avoid being bit in half by the white dragon.

"Getting slow in your old age, Weisslogia?" the black dragon spoke, voice rasping and Weisslogia turned his bearded head to the side, glancing at the black dragon, "I was just checking its reflexes"

The white dragon grinned, turning his attention to the blond man sitting a foot away from him, staring at him with tears streaming down his face, mouth open in shock. "It's been a while, Sting"

Sting opened his mouth but no sound came out for several seconds before he closed them and then swallowed, still staring unblinkingly at the dragon. He paused, looking to the side to look at Rogue who looked just as shocked, staring at the black dragon with utter amazement on his face.

"I think we broke them," the black dragon noted dryly and that brought out a response from Rogue, his voice small and quiet, "S-Skiadrum?"

"What is going on here?" Lilith asked, red eyes wide, her back tense. No sign was left of the smug, confident smirk or the relaxed tilt of her shoulders. Makarov had no idea what was going on either, but by now he counted any dragon he saw as a good sign, and the fact that Sting and Rogue seemed to know them only helped reinforce that fact.

Skiadrum spared a second longer to look at Rogue, offering the young man a smirk before he turned his attention to Lilith, "You and your master started a war with the dragons by coming here. We're simply… reinforcements"

"Wha-," Sting cleared his throat, pushing himself back onto unsteady feet, "What are you doing here? How are you here?!"

He looked at Rogue again before looking at the white dragon above him. Weisslogia was the same as he remembered him. White scales gleamed in the red sun, feathered wings curled around his sides, white mane framing his face, and fur coated his chest. The dragon looked back, calm and collected, yellow eyes so kind and Sting felt new tears well up in his own eyes. "I killed you"

Weisslogia offered an apologetic smile to the dragon slayer, "You did not. I am sorry for the illusion, Sting. But I -," he looked at Skiadrum who was keeping a close eye on the demon but he was without a doubt listening, "We believed this would be for your own good"

"Letting us think we killed our own fathers could never be for our own good," Rogue spoke up, eyes rimmed red and eyebrows drawn together. It took Sting a moment to realize the other slayer was angry. And he wondered why he wasn't. "Say what you will but don't pretend it was for our own good"

"It was," Skiadrum cut in sharply, red eyes briefly focused on Rogue before turning back to the demon. "But now is not the time for this conversation. You certainly have questions. Let's deal with the crisis at hand and then we'll have this conversation in peace as it should be"

Weisslogia nodded, yellow eyes moving away from Sting and onto the demon and Sting almost reached out, wanting – needing to touch the dragon to make sure he was real. "There will be a better time for this conversation"

Lilith swallowed, aware that now every eye was once again on her. She didn't know who the two dragons were but she was not stupid. She wouldn't be able to defeat both of them and even if there was any chance of doing that the three humans around would be enough to finish the job.

She should retreat.

She doubted they would let her leave. And really, she couldn't leave even if that was the best course of action. Ankhseram would not be pleased. She shuddered at the thought.

She offered a weak smirk to the dragons that felt more like a grimace on her face, "I don't suppose you'd let me take what I need?"

"No," Makarov answered quickly.

"Don't you fucking dare die now, Junior," Gajeel growled, pressing a hand to the bleeding wound on the teen's stomach. Arthur stared at him blankly, green eyes glassy and unfocused and Gajeel cursed again, his vision getting blurry from the tears and he wasn't even sure if he was crying from frustration, relief, happiness, or anger. Metalicana behind him blasted the snake-like demon into pieces. The cause of these fucking tears was definitely the sudden appearance of his father. The shock too much for their current situation. But now that he started crying, he couldn't stop and he hated it. He cursed again, ripping off what remained of his shirt and tied it around Arthur's stomach. He was not a child, he shouldn't be bawling his eyes out.

'Pull it together, Redfox,' he told himself, biting his lower lip hard enough to draw blood. Arthur's head lolled forward and Gajeel looked up with a curse, "Don't you fall asleep, Arthur! Don't you dare! Keep those eyes open!"

Gajeel got a feeling Arthur didn't even hear him at this point, glassy eyes and a blank stare his only answer. He already looked dead.

"The kid will die soon," the round head of his father appeared in the corner of his vision and Gajeel had to fight back another string of curses as Arthur's eyes closed and he slumped against the wall. The dragon slayer looked at his father completely now, looking over his face, searching for any change in the smooth metallic surface. There was none. Metalicana looked exactly as he did seven years ago – or was it eight? Or fourteen now? Gajeel had no idea anymore.

He wanted to jump to his feet and hug him. Or punch him.

A thought occurred to him.

"Wait! Gray – Laxus -!"

"Fine," came Gray's voice, raspier and more pained that the last time Gajeel heard him and he looked to his other side where Gray was helping Laxus sit down. Both didn't look fine. He told them as much.

"Well better than we would've been had the dragon not shown up," Laxus said and Gajeel barely recognized the voice. Laxus looked at Metalicana, then at Gajeel, and then back at the dragon, a look of realization dawning and he blinked, shocked and dazed. Gray stayed silent, eyes on the still form of Arthur instead of the dragon.

Finally, Gray spoke, nodding his head towards Arthur hesitantly, as if the mere mention might cause further damage to the injured teen. "Is he-?"

Gajeel bit the inside of his cheek, looking from Arthur to Metalicana. "Not yet"

"Soon if he doesn't get any help," Metalicana spoke up again and Gajeel decided he would rather punch him.

"Yea, I heard you the first time, you bastard!" the dragon slayer snapped, turning his red eyes to Metalicana. "And if you haven't noticed we don't really have a healer here"

He slumped against the wall after he said that, the anger leaving him as quickly as it appeared. No, not really leaving… just different. He looked back at Metalicana, noting that Laxus and Gray were silent, both focused on the dragon. Maybe too injured to speak in Laxus' case. He hoped the other dragon slayer wouldn't end up like Annie. Like Arthur. He gritted his teeth. It felt like giving up. He already buried the guy and he wasn't even dead yet.

"Where have you been?"

It took Gajeel a moment to realize he was the one that asked the question. Metalicana looked at him, expression closed off. It didn't really surprise the dragon slayer. Metalicana was always an asshole. He started to think the dragon would ignore him with how long it took before he finally opened his mouth, "It… that is complicated. I see no issue in telling you but -"

"But now is not the time," Gajeel grounded out, glaring at him, "I don't fucking care. You disappeared without a word. I knew you were a selfish bastard but a 'goodbye' would've been nice"

If Gajeel didn't know any better he'd say Metalicana looked almost apologetic as he spoke, "Don't be a brat. I told you I'll tell you when -"

"When? When Ankhseram kills us all?"

Metalicana's odd – apologetic? – expression disappeared and Gajeel didn't have any problem with recognizing the one that appeared now – annoyance. "Stop interrupting me"

"I learned my manners from you, so you only have yourself to blame"

Gray and Laxus watched the two going back and forth, not really saying anything that would explain what was going on. The ice user sighed heavily, regretting it immediately when his broken ribs protested and turned to look at Arthur. "Natsu will kill us if Arthur dies"

Laxus snorted derisively and it surprised the ice mage that the dragon slayer was still awake, "If we survive long enough for Natsu to kill us, I'll count that as a win"

Gray couldn't help but agree.

She thought she had blinked but she must've passed out because the creatures were running away and above her stood the white, feathered form of her mother, one clawed foot wrapped protectively around Wendy. The blue-haired girl stared, tears already welling up in her eyes.

Grandeeney roared and it was the most beautiful sound Wendy ever heard.

For a brief moment, she thought everything was fixed. She believed the world was whole again and she sat up with some difficulty, staring at the white dragon in pure amazement only to catch the sight of the still open black hole and it was all it took for the reality to come crashing down.

It wasn't over yet. But Grandeeney was here. And at least something finally felt right.

"G-Grandeeney?" the hoarseness of her voice took her by surprise. The dragon didn't look at her though, opening her jaw and sending a roar that obliterated dozens of the demons. Wendy blinked, wondering briefly if she was seeing things and she looked around. Jellal and Erza were still fighting off some demons but their numbers were now quickly dwindling and the two kept casting the dragon that suddenly appeared uneasy glances mixed with worry and relief. Ultear kept looking at Grandeeney as well, between her own spells, and Wendy decided that she wasn't imagining things.

An explosion of spells, from the dragon and the three Fairy Tail mages and quickly, suddenly, the surrounding area fell silent. It felt surreal. They were about to die. All of them were prepared for it. And now, suddenly, they were alive.

Grandeeney straightened her long neck, moving carefully so that she didn't step on Wendy before she lowered the feathered body down to the ground and looked at the four humans. The five stared at each other, none breaking the silence. The four humans didn't seem to dare breath and the dragon seemed content to just watch them for a moment. Finally, the dragon's blue eyes focused on the blue-haired dragon slayer.

"Wendy," the gentle voice of her mother broke the silence and Wendy heard Jellal take in a sharp breath as if he remembered that he should breathe.

Wendy blinked, wiping the tears out of her eyes with the back of her dirty hand, smearing dirt and blood over her face. But her lips parted in a grin, and she tried to stand legs shaking and Happy appeared lifting her up and carrying her to Grandeeney who took her from the cat's grasp with a gentle claw and Wendy collapsed in the soft grip, sobbing.

"I thought I'd never see you again," Wendy hiccupped, trying and failing to wipe the tears out of her eyes before finally just burying her face into the feathers. Grandeeney stayed silent for a moment longer, gentle blue eyes on Wendy, "I am sorry I left without a warning, Wendy. But I am here now"

Soft blue light covered Wendy's skin and the dragon slayer gasped in shock, feeling as her wounds closed, skin knitting together and all that was left of her injuries in a moment was the half-dried blood. Wendy smiled opening her mouth as she took in a deep breath, her mother coaxing the regeneration of her magic in her core.

She was still exhausted; no amount of magic will replace sleep but she could fight again. And right now, that was enough.

Soon – too soon – Grandeeney was putting her down to the ground and the dragon once again looked at the humans who still stood shell-shocked a distance away. "Your friends, I assume?"

Wendy nodded quickly, gesturing to the mages to come closer. They did not move. Wendy suddenly wondered if she had any right to call them her friends anymore. "Erza, Jellal, Ultear and Happy," she pointed at each and all the response the dragon got was a single nod from Erza.

The dragon didn't show any sign of annoyance or indignation at the lack of response. If anything, she looked understanding. "Have no fear children. My name is Grandeeney. My only intention here is to help you in this dire situation"

Erza spoke first, nodding haltingly again, "As Wendy said, I am Erza Scarlet. We thank you for your assistance but if you do not mind, we have more pressing matters to attend to than to stand here"

Grandeeney hummed in agreement, standing up and spreading her wings. "You are injured. Let me heal you and then we can continue unimpaired"

"Gray and Laxus a-and –!" Happy suddenly cried out, the blue cat frantic, and Wendy's own eyes widened. She felt more than saw Erza and the other two tense as well and knew they recognized the problem immediately. "Grandeeney! -"

Natsu cursed, spitting out more blood, and glanced down at the deep gash in his side left by Ankhseram's attack. He pressed a hand to the bleeding wound, his vision swimming and a part of him could feel the panic that started clawing at the back of his mind. Acnologia eyed him from where he stood and Natsu knew from the narrowing in his eyes that the king knew something was wrong. Ankhseram seemed amused by the whole ordeal, by the looks of him. Zeref looked crazed and ready to snap at the slightest provocation, his fingers white as he gripped the book, not daring to take his eyes off of the three in order to actually do something with it.

Something snapped in him and his demon form fell apart, the sudden lack of the tail and wings destroying his balance and he stumbled a step forward. He blinked, shocked and dazed, and looked back at the bleeding hole. Acnologia moved to take a step towards him but the second he took his eyes away from Zeref the Black Wizard started to raise the book and the king froze, turning to the mage who froze in turn.

"Natsu," the dragon king finally spoke, the sharp tone of his voice betrayed no emotion, "What's going on?"

Natsu wasn't sure. The wound was not healing, not as quickly as it should and the blood loss was making him dizzy. "I don't know," the dragon prince grounded out, turning to glare at Ankhseram who grinned at him.

"As you have so nicely put it yourself, nothing is immortal," Ankhseram spoke and Natsu clenched his teeth, not really surprised by the answer, "Even if I wanted to I could not make you any more immortal than a god"

Ankhseram's grin widened, and he spoke again, something in his tone suggesting it was a great joke, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away"

Acnologia cursed and looked at Natsu again, worry now shining in blue eyes, and Natsu had to fight back the urge to roll his own. "I'm not dying yet, old man. I just have to be more careful with him," he eyed Ankhseram who hummed in apparent agreement. Zeref, not appreciating the lack of attention apparently opened the book in his hands with a wet snap as the blood on the covers was sent flying through the air and in an instant, every eye was back on him.

Natsu wasn't sure what to expect. Even so, 'nothing' was not it. He wondered if he should feel differently. Part of him expected he would be forced into some kind of a frenzied killing spree. Acnologia shared his sentiments apparently because the dragon king kept looking between the two brothers, a mixture of worry and anger present in his eyes as a bead of sweat traveled down the side of his temple. Zeref, looking at Natsu for several long moments, frowned in confusion and looked down at the book for the first time. His fingers shook and Natsu felt the beginnings of a smirk form in the corner of his lips even as blood trickled down his chin.

"It's empty," the words were so quiet Natsu barely heard them even with his own heightened senses. Zeref, glanced back at Natsu in disbelief and the flicker of hopehateconfusion that flashed through Zeref's eyes made him tense, the smile disappearing in an instant. Zeref chuckled, closing the book with a snap and tossing it away like it was garbage and not something the two had tried to kill each other over for the last who knows how long. The chuckling grew louder and Natsu dared a look at Acnologia. The dragon king looked back and gave a shrug, the complete incredulity on his face showing just how much the whole situation confused the dragon king. Natsu thought his own expression probably mirrored his. Ankhseram's grin was at least gone, replaced by something darker, and while it worried Natsu another part of him was just glad that the smug grin was gone. The chuckling turned into full-blown laughter and Zeref bent down slightly, holding his stomach.

"What did you do?" Acnologia finally asked and Zeref's crazed laughter died down and he gestured towards Ankhseram and Natsu in one motion, trying to form words only to laugh again. "I did nothing," he finally said and straightened, "Ankhseram did all the work for me"

Ankhseram didn't appreciate being mocked. He sent a solid pillar of black energy at Zeref and the crazed mage flashed his red eyes at the god and disappeared in the void to avoid the attack, reappearing few feet away. Natsu and Acnologia exchanged another bewildered look, both completely and utterly confused. Acnologia blinked, paused, looked as Ankhseram sent another blast of curse at the still cackling mage and then turned to Natsu, "Do you –?"

Do you have any idea what's going on?

Natsu shrugged as best as he could, turning his focus back on the fight in time to see Ankhseram stop and huff, glaring at Zeref.

"Stop your insolent behavior this instant," Ankhseram didn't sound happy, in fact, he sounded furious and Natsu realized with a frown that during that short fight the god must've read straight out of Zeref's head what was going on. Zeref did stop, any trace of mirth gone and the mage glared at the god with a disgusted look. "Brother," Zeref spoke and Natsu snarled at the title before he could stop himself, not that he wanted to. Acnologia swallowed, a look of distaste on his face. "When Ankhseram and other gods turned you into a demon," the black-haired mage smiled pleasantly, ignoring the warning growl that left Ankhseram's throat, "they unknowingly merged E.N.D with you"

Natsu started, mouth falling open. Acnologia's nostrils flared, a sharp intake of breath. His red eyes slid to his fingers and he stared at his hands in shock. And suddenly it all made sense. All the little oddities that no one could explain. The way he could force someone to answer. The way he could redirect others' attacks. The way he could control Chaos. The anger he had felt when he first woke up in Hell that never felt truly his. The doors in his mind that were open. The reason his transformations were no longer painful. The reason his magic was starting to lose the black in its color. The reason his magic was no longer a burning cold but a scorching hot. The reason his dragon form was different. The way he seemed to lose control in a fight. The… there was so much.

He suddenly wondered why he didn't realize that earlier.

Natsu blinked, perplexed and unsure and he looked at Acnologia, trying to find some sort of explanation that was definitely not there. He half-expected some sort of betrayed or hurt or maybe even angry look on Acnologia's face. But there was none and in the next second, he wondered why he expected anything else but the surprise at the news. Nothing else. Just surprise. Acnologia… His father didn't look at him any differently. Something of his feelings must've shown on his face because Acnologia offered a smirk and said his name with a nod, "Natsu"

You're still you.

And it was more than enough.

Ankhseram's white eyes flashed furiously and he raised his hand towards Zeref, black energy gathering in his palm and Zeref blinked in shock, staring in surprise at the gathering energy in the palm of the god as it was pointed to his head. A smile appeared on Zeref's face and he looked at Natsu. "I'm glad we met Natsu, despite the circumstances"

He looked relieved, relaxed and his eyes were black, almost joyful.

Natsu blinked and before he could respond to the odd picture Ankhseram released the ball of black energy and it shot from his palm in a pillar of pure black that shot through Zeref's head like a bullet. The black wizard stumbled a step back from the force, his knees buckled under him and he fell backward, a dull thud as his body hit the floor. A smile was still on his face, a round hole on his forehead, and blood pooled around his head like a halo.

And just like that Zeref was dead.

End of chapter 96.

I hope you enjoyed this. I'm not gonna lie, half of this chapter was decided as I wrote it. And I don't particularly regret it. If anything, I'm glad I waited this long to write it because my previous ideas weren't nearly as good. Damn, I really proud of this one. Hope I'm not the only one. I seriously hope the next one will be out sooner than this was. I already have ideas. But I won't promise anything other than I'll try my best.

In any case, thank you all who reviewed, for every fav and follow. This story wouldn't be anything without its readers.

Please review and thanks for reading :)


Oh and for any Spanish readers, a person going by the name of Pendejo-kun requested permission to translate this story to Spanish on Wattpad so if you want you can go and check it out. As someone who knows how to say 'Thank you' on Spanish and nothing else I didn't actually read it but I thought I'd mention it if anyone is interested considering that they are putting in a lot of work to translate this :D