Chapter 15

Lucy spent the rest of her day in the library reading books related to her magic. It turned out that the Royal Library lived up to its reputation of having all the information on rare types of magic gathered in one place. All you had to do was know what you were looking for. The library had some kind of magical seal on it which Lucy was proud to have noticed as soon as she entered the room. She felt the magic probe at her and she felt in her gut that allowing this was the right thing to do. But it didn't mean that she couldn't try to probe back. It seemed that, once again, her magic had a mind of its own and was already probing back.

Strange, it seems like the library magic and my magic are... talking?

Lucy focused on practicing what she had learned about visualizing the magical auras around her. She could see her own magic clearly now as a golden light. The library's magic seemed like a dark brown and almost seemed thicker in texture. Finished with her inspection, Lucy began to browse the aisles of bookshelves, looking for anything on celestial magic. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, she felt a push on her magic; focusing on the aura again, she realized that the brown magic of the library was guiding her.

Since the magic hadn't felt malicious or done anything untoward, Lucy decided to trust the magic; this decision led to her finding a section of the library dedicated to celestial magic and any magic having to do with the heavens. There were several high level spells that Lucy committed to memory even though she was not nearly at the level to perform them. Otherwise, she learned as much as she could about each of the spirits she already had contracts with.

As a result of all her study, Lucy did not go to bed until it was very late and thus was very tired the following morning. Covering a yawn behind her hand, Lucy allowed Wendy to help her into a formal gown for her presentation to Princess Hisui. Apparently, the princess was eager to meet Lucy and had requested that once she had finished breakfast, she come to the Princess' parlor. Knowing this, and coupled with how tired Lucy still was, she made sure to take her time enjoying her breakfast.

Wendy also ate her breakfast with Lucy since Lucy had insisted on it. "I don't want to eat alone; I've had enough of that from growing up in the manor. My father was often too busy to take meals with me and the servants were to intimidated by him to break the rule," she explained when Wendy hesitated.

Hearing that, Wendy sat down and dished out some food for herself. "I never had company at my meals until I started working here either," she admitted.

"You seem rather young; where were you before you started working for the castle?"

"Actually, I'm a member of FairyTail. Working in the castle is part of a long term mission to keep an eye on the movements of the upper class. My parents... well, my birth parents aren't known to me. I was raised by a woman named Grandine; she left me when I was just 5 years old and I wandered around until Master Makarov found me and took me in." Wendy seemed sad when talking about Grandine but perked up a bit when she mentioned Makarov.

"How long have you been stationed here?" Lucy asked.

"I was stationed here when I was fourteen years old. I've only been here one year so far. I know most of the members of FairyTail that work out of Mercurius but some of the members that are outside the castle, I don't know as well."

Lucy nodded. "So then do you know Mirajane and Laxus?"

Wendy's face lit up at the mention of Mira. "Yes! Lady Mira invites me over for tea a lot even though I'm a maid. She also makes sure to have me spend Christmas with her because she says she does not want me to be alone. Lord Laxus doesn't ever stop her so I think he is alright with it and he does get me a Christmas present. Also, I am the Sky Dragon Slayer, though I don't have much experience since I didn't get to spend much time with my mother, and sometimes he will train with me since he is also a dragon slayer."

Lucy smiled, "Sky Dragon Slayer? I would love to see your magic in action some time. Lady Mira was my first friend outside of Natsu. She welcomed me and actually helped me find my place outside of my little town."

A look of awe came over Wendy's face, "You know Lord Dragneel?"

Lucy giggled, "He would hate it if you called him Lord Dragneel. But yes, Natsu has been my friend since he and his father started visiting my town in the summers. I'm assuming you never met him?"

Wendy shook her head, "No but I would love to meet him. He is the only other Dragon Slayer like me that I know. I mean, Laxus is a Lightning Dragon Slayer but he is what is considered second generation. He wasn't raised by a dragon, he had a lacrima implanted inside of him that contained a piece of a dragon's soul which is what allowed him to have those powers. Natsu and I were given our powers by our dragon parents. Lord Laxus trains with me when he and Lady Mira are here for the Season but I would also love to work with Lord Dragneel."

"I'm sure that Natsu will come to visit me; he did promise to make some time even though he hates the Season and parties among nobility in general but he promised me. When he comes, I am sure that he will be happy to meet you and work with you."

Wendy grinned at that and the two finished their breakfast happily.

...

Lucy wrung her hands nervously as she stood at the entrance to Hisui's garden. The Princess had a personal garden and when the weather was nice she did most of her business among the flowers Mercurius was famous for. In fact, as the sun was shining and warming the garden around them, Hisui was currently seated at her little tea table reading the morning news with a stack of letters resting in front of her. Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Lucy stepped onto the large stone path that led to Princess Hisui's "office." "Good morning Your Highness. I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you; I was instructed to meet you as soon as I finished my breakfast." Lucy spoke rather hesitantly, unsure of what kind of princess she was dealing with.

Hisui turned her head and a smile lit up her features. "Lady Heartfilia! It is so wonderful to finally meet you! Please, sit; there is much we need to talk about."

Lucy took the seat across from Hisui and smoothed her skirts. "This is about my position as the next Summoner, is it not," she inquired.

Hisui nodded, "You are correct Lady Heartfilia. I am aware of the history behind your magic and also the tragedy. Makarov informed me that you were only recently introduced to magic and you are still honing your skills. I want you to know that any resources here at Mercurius are open for your use. And in that vein of information, I have some additional history that you ought to know."

Lucy leaned forward slightly, "Please, just call me Lucy. I am not used to the whole 'Lady Heartfilia' thing yet. I have already been to your library and it has helped immensly with my magic. I found a book on the various kinds of Celestial magic and the book mentioned that there were several 'founding families' who are considered the first to practice that magic. Do you happen to know who they are? I was hoping I could meet some of the descendants and learn more about their magic right from the source."

Hisui's smile grew. "I'm glad you are enjoying the library. I do know of some of the ancient families and their descendants. In fact, I, myself, am one." The Princess giggled when Lucy's jaw dropped before she could control it. "I know, it comes as a bit of a shock to many people which does not surprise me because my family magic is often lost in the whole founding Fiore business."

"So then what magic does your family use Your Highness?"

"Oh, please call me Hisui. Our families have always been close. I am glad I finally get to meet you; had your parents not been forced on the run, we would have likely been raised together as your mother and my father were. As for my magic, I am responsible for creating gate keys."

Lucy's brow furrowed in thought, "Create the gate keys? I thought the Spirit King was responsible for their creation..."

"Oh he is; however, he handles more of the... well it can be rather difficult to explain but I'll do my best. Gate keys themselves may seem like a physical object and in one sense, they are. They are a physical manifestation of the Spirit King's intention to allow a spirit access to our plane. The Spirit King decides which spirits are going to be given access and he generally sends a Nikola to inform me of the need for a new key. I and the other members of my family with my power have the ability to channel our power into the creation of a unique key for each spirit." Hisui pulled out a box from beneath her chair. "These are the latest prototype keys. I make them to practice my magic and usually they are used for Nikola or other duplicate spirits that are born."

Hisui opened the case and turned it towards Lucy so that the young mage could inspect the keys. Lucy reached her hand out and let it hover over the keys, pushing her magic into them. She could feel how much magic was stored inside of them. "Wow. How do you concentrate your magic like that," she asked.

"I keep my hands close together and I've learned how to channel my magic into small streams. I build the keys layer by layer; maybe I can show you sometime?"

"That would be wonderful!"

Suddenly, Lucy gasped as she felt some of her magic, which she was still using to analyse the keys, burst forth from her and into the key. The key began to glow and floated up into the air. It spun around, picking up speed with each revolution until both women had to look away or risk blinding themselves. Finally with a POP the light faded and a silver key gently settled itself into Lucy's palm. "That's a Nikola! I've never seen a key form that way! Usually, the extras just turn silver when they are linked to a spirit and if I have the occasion to make a gold key I'm told that the spirit who will link with it will appear to form the bond. I've never actually made a golden key before; that hasn't been done in my lifetime actually."

A few moments of stunned silence followed the Princess' statement before she finally insisted, "Let's meet the little guy!"

Lucy shook herself out of her shock and curled her fingers around the new silver key. Rising, she held the key in front of her at waist height, "I am the link between the Earth and the Stars. I command thee to pass through the Gate! Open, Gate of the Little Dog! Nikola!" Pushing the key forward, she inserted it into the lock which appeared in her magical vision and turned the key. The sound of a doorbell rang through the air before a puff of smoke appeared and revealed a shivering white...creature. It reminded Lucy of the snowmen that she used to make in the winter with her mother. Kneeling down, Lucy put herself on its height and introduced herself, "My name is Lucy and I'd like to make a contract with you; is that alright?"

The little spirit shivered and nodded its head. "Pun pun!"

"You should give it a name. Nikola are the most common silver spirit and most use them as a companion. Everyone gives them a name though since 'Nikola' is a bit too general," Hisui suggested.

Lucy worked out her contract with the little spirit who agreed to be called Plue. As it turned out, the little dog spirit loved cuddles and candy; it was content to sit on Lucy's lap and eat some of the little pastries that one of the maids brought for the ladies to snack on while they talked. The ladies discussed the history of Celestial magic and Hisui tried to fill Lucy in on all of the missing pieces in her knowledge. It was only when Lucy began to get hungry that she realized how much time had passed. "I'm so sorry Hisui! I've probably taken way too much of your time," she exclaimed.

"Don't worry Lucy. I enjoyed our discussion. I hope you and I will become good friends during your stay here. Let me know if you ever need a partner for training your magic."

With that, her morning with the princess ended. Lucy headed back to her quarters to rest and write a letter to Natsu. She had learned so much from the Princess but she could not help but miss her best friend. Maybe writing to him would ease the ache.

You guys! I got to go to New Orleans for my first ever conference! I've only been working in my new lab for 6 months or so and already I gathered enough data for a poster presentation. People were interested in my work and that included some really high up people! I know many of you may have no clue what I'm talking about but this is a big deal for me. It's also why I haven't had time for writing recently but I finished up this chapter for you all. I hope those of you who celebrate it had a happy thanksgiving. And a happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate that! I'm pretty sure that starts soon.

CC22