Disclaimer: Fairy Tail and all associated content belongs to Hiro Mashima.
[Types of Magic]
*Note: See end of chapter concerning future updates.
Chapter 5: Clash of The Dragons
After allowing them a few moments of hype, Natsu quickly took control of the situation.
"All right, listen up!" He called out in an authoritative voice, immediately stopping their cheers and focusing their attention on him. "There's still work to be done, so save your cheers for later. The Element Four and Black Steel are still in there. Gray, Elfman, Titania. You guys are with me. We're breaking in and taking them out. The rest of you stay back and defend Magnolia." He ordered. He got nods from Gray, who looked torn between being annoyed at being ordered around by Natsu as well as excited for a good fight, and Elfman, who was shouting about how manly it was to charge the enemy base. Erza's left eyebrow was twitching violently at not only being ordered around by her, according to Erza at least, nemesis but also due to the fact that he still refused to address her by her name. At this point she knew that he was doing it on purpose but it didn't stop her from being mightily annoyed at him for it. "Cana, can I trust you to hold the fort?" Natsu questioned the resident lush.
"Fufufu…leave it to me, Natsu!" She answered with a confident grin as she brandished her trademark cards. Natsu smirk imperceptibly before nodding.
"All right, let's go!" He ordered before activating his Red Carpet and taking to the skies.
"Ice Make: Stairs"
Gray activated his spell before forming a solid looking set of stairs that connected to the entrance of the [Jupiter] cannon for the three of them. Erza, Gray and Elfman all took off, charging up the stairs and into the mobile Guild.
"You heard the man! Let's make sure Jose regrets ever stepping foot in our town." Cana declared confidently, getting raucous cheers from her Guild mates who were inspired by her confidence and her assurance.
Macao and Wakaba looking on in amazement. For them, who had known Cana the longest, and arguably the best, to see her stand tall and proud in the face of a dangerous opponent was truly a revelatory moment. No longer was she the cute little girl who loved to hear stories of their crazy adventures, nor was she the lazy drunk that she seemed to be turning into a few years ago. Now, she was a woman. A strong, confident and self-assured woman. She no longer looked as lost or uncertain as she used to. Her eyes were now clear and she looked like she knew what she wanted. They had noticed a few changes in her ever since the last S-Class exams, such as her cleaning up her act a bit as well as taking her work and training more seriously. She still loved to drink though, except now she did it in moderation, which was why they probably didn't notice how much she's grown up until now. The two old guard looked at each other before smiling slightly, happy to be able to see this moment, not just for Cana but for the rest of the youngsters of the Guild that they had seen grow up. They wondered if this was what Master Makarov felt when he looked at them when they had reached adulthood. Deciding to dwell on it later, they both activated their magic before jumping into the fray.
Erza, Gray and Elfman landed heavily inside the chamber that apparently housed the power source of the [Jupiter] cannon. They made no effort to be discreet whatsoever, it simply wasn't the Fairy Tail way.
As she looked about the room, Erza spotted a giant lacrima, which she assumed was [Jupiter's] power source, along with a tough looking mage who was dressed as a shinobi of old.
"Welcome, Fairy Tail. I commend you for making it this far. Unfortunately for you though, this is where your journey ends for I, Totomaru of the Element Four, shall not let you pass!" Totomaru declared strongly.
Erza raised her sword to remove the obstacle that stood in their way when Gray put a hand on her shoulder, causing her to look at him with a raised eyebrow.
"I got this one, Erza. We need you to save your strength for later. There's no need for you to waste your time with these small fries." Gray spoke up as he stepped toward an annoyed looking Totomaru, who didn't take kindly to Gray's remark about him being small fry.
"I'm going to make you regret underestimating me, boy." Totomaru said hatefully as an orb of reddish fire appeared above him palm.
In response, Gray got into his signature stance, with his fist pressed against his open palm as a frosty aura surrounded him. Erza, trusting Gray to take care of Totomaru, quietly led Elfman away as they searched for the other members of the Element Four.
Gray Vs Totomaru
A redish orb of fire and a bluish lance made of ice crashed into each other having being released by Totomaru and Gray respectively. The two attacks seemingly cancelled each other out as Gray's ice sizzled from the heat of Totomaru's fire causing a large amount of steam to obscure the vision of the both of them.
Wasting no time, they both sprang into action, charging forward to the last location that their opponent was in before they could make a move.
"DIE!" Totomaru yelled as he brought his katana down in a slicing motion towards where he perceived Gray was.
Luckily for Gray, his instincts were enough to prevent him from receiving a wound that would no doubt be debilitating. Being on the receiving end of Erza's wrath for much of his childhood, he developed some weird sixth sense when it came to swords that were trying to slice him up.
He swiftly created a broadsword made of ice and intercepted Totomaru's attack. Both mages weapons struggled for dominance as their wielders glared at each other. Totomaru was the first to break the stalemate.
Gray was forced to disengage as he hastily backpedalled to avoid the blue orb of fire. Thea was enough to give Totomaru the opening he was hoping for as he used his impressive speed to get within Gray's guard and delivered a crushing punch to his solar plexus. Gray staggered from the pain of the sudden blow but didn't allow himself to stand on ceremony as he lunged forward and struck Totomaru with a solid head-butt to the face that caused the [Fire Mage] to cry out in pain and clutch his broken nose in an attempt to stem the flow of blood.
Both mages took a few seconds to regain their bearings after their short clash. Gray was sure that he had at least one rib broken from the force of Totomaru's punch, proving that the man wasn't an S-Class Mage for nothing. Totomaru on the other hand was annoyed at himself for allowing Gray, who he perceived as inferior, injure him in such a way.
Gray was the first to catch his second wind as he launched his next attack at his opponent, who was still in a bit of a daze.
"Ice Make: Arrows"
A barrage of arrows darted toward Totomaru, who finally snapped out of his pain induced daze and hurriedly jumped into the air to avoid the arrows. That was a mistake on his part, one that Gray was waiting for and wasted no time in capitalizing on.
"Ice Make: Cannon"
Gray held a large bazooka on his shoulder and directed it at the giant lacrima in the middle of the room. Totomaru cursed himself for getting so caught up in the fight that he forgot the real objective of his mission. He tried to conjure up his fire to deal with whatever Gray planned on doing, but it was too late. A large cylindrical block of ice was shot out of the bazooka and accelerated powerfully towards the lacrima. The power of the attack along with the velocity of it caused it to punch cleanly through the lacrima. The lacrima sparked for a few seconds before a large explosion engulfed the chamber. Gray had enough wherewithal to put up an ice shield, Totomaru on the other hand didn't have the luxury of a defence and caught the full brunt of the explosion.
As the smoke cleared, Gray dropped his shield and tentatively looked around, anticipating an attack from Totomaru. He was sorely disappointed though when he saw the aforementioned mage passed out, buried underneath some rubble. The [Ice Make] wizard looked on with a deadpan expression.
"This is supposed to be an S-Class Mage?" He questioned himself incredulously, unable to believe how weak Totomaru was. Gray was expecting a battle where his life was on the line against a vastly superior mage, but all he got was this joker. It just proved to him that Fairy Tail was on a whole other level than Phantom Lord. Gray was man enough to admit that he was an A-Class mage at best, yet he defeated a member of the vaunted Element Four with relative ease. He could only imagine what Erza would do to them, or god forbid, Natsu. He felt a chill run down his spine as he sent a silent prayer to the poor bastards who got in the way of those two monsters.
The mages that were on the outside, defending the guild building, cheered loudly when the [Jupiter] cannon exploded. Their cheers didn't last though, as the mobile fortress underwent some kind of crazy transformation sequence before it ended up looking like a giant bi-pedal robot. If that wasn't bad enough, the 'robot' started drawing a large magic circle in the air directed at the Fairy Tail guild, and by extension, Magnolia. Their fear was compounded by Mira, who recognised the magic circle as [Abyss Break], a forbidden spell capable of untold amounts of destruction.
On the inside of the mobile guild, Erza and Elfman split up. Elfman having being intercepted by Sol, another member of the Element Four while Erza encountered Aria, the leader of the Element Four as well as the one responsible for the condition Master Makarov was in. Needless to say, Aria was in for a world of pain.
Meanwhile, we find Natsu taking a casual stroll on top of the Guild, probably around the left shoulder portion of Jose's ridiculous robot. Natsu actually face-palmed when he witnessed the transformation, having come to realise that Jose was probably suffering from a severe case of chuunibyou syndrome. It would make sense given how delusional the man seemed to be. Regardless, he took his time. If this was a few years ago, he would have recklessly stormed into the place and punched anything that moved. He held back a chuckle when he thought about how much fun that sounded. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Natsu wasn't the same brash kid anymore. He had done a lot of growing up and was therefore more aware and mindful of the consequences of his actions. That didn't mean that he didn't sometimes just 'fuck it' and wreck shit. Those were some of the best moments for him.
Despite seeming like he lost himself in his thoughts, Natsu was fully aware of what was happening below him. He was impressed when he sensed Gray defeat Totomaru of the Conflagration. That was no small feat and it seemed that his old rival had come a long way. He was even more impressed when he sensed Elfman of all people take out Sol, though he did frown a little when he sensed Mira's distressed form for a bit, her being way too close than she should have been. While he initially held a bit of hatred for Elfman due to his role in Lisanna and Happy's deaths, he eventually came to the understanding that Elfman didn't have any malicious intentions and merely made a mistake, a costly mistake that was fuelled by his need to boost his ego as well as his inferiority complex towards his sisters, but a mistake nonetheless. Something that all humans do. It was a bitter pill for Natsu to swallow, but he forced himself to as Lisanna loved her brother very much and Natsu would therefore respect that aspect of her. It took him a long time to get there, but he eventually did. Just because he understood though, doesn't mean he's all buddy-buddy with Elfman. For as much as Natsu matured over the years, it was still hard to fully forgive Elfman for robbing him of the two most important people in his life. Things are relatively frosty between them, mostly on Natsu's part. There was an understanding between them though, no matter how tentative. Elfman would stay the fuck out of Natsu's way and Natsu would keep his opinions to himself and not burn the larger man to a crisp. Mira had tried to broker peace between them on a few occasions, but she was on relatively shaky ground with the [Dragon Slayer] herself and therefore usually crumbled when Natsu gave her a cold glare, deciding that it was up to her two favourite boys to sort their own problems out. Regardless, despite his seeming indifference towards the large man, he was still impressed that he was able to defeat an S-Class mage. More so that he was finally able to conquer his demons and correct one of his greatest flaws, not being able to perform a [Full-Body Takeover]. Natsu didn't think he had it in him so it was a happy surprise.
Without warning, the skies above him darkened as thick grey clouds converged. It didn't take long for the rain to come down afterwards. Natsu stared blankly at the sky, which was clear and blue just a few seconds ago. This was by no means natural. Even if he couldn't sense the magic in the rain, common sense would tell him that such an occurrence was an impossibility. His mind went to work as he figured out the likely culprit, which wasn't hard when you consider what was known about Phantom Lord.
"Drip, drip, drop..." The monotone voice of a woman sounded out behind him. Despite the blank nature of the tone, the voice of the woman was smooth and had a pleasant lilt to it. Natsu turned around to face her and closely examined the woman. The first thing that caught his eyes was the amount of blue on display. From the woman's clothes to even her hair. She wore a long navy blue coat that looked almost like a dress as it reached her knees coupled with a fur shawl over her shoulders with a teru-teru bozu doll hanging off the front of the coat just above her cleavage. Her blue hair was curled tightly at the base, coming to a rest on her shoulders paired with a Russian Cossack hat. She also carried a pink umbrella in her left hand which protected her from the rain. From the few instances of skin that she did show, Natsu could see that it was quite pale, but not in an unhealthy way. All in all, she was an extremely beautiful woman and well-endowed woman, one that was guaranteed to catch the eye of any man. Natsu disregarded all of that though as he stared directly into her dark blue eyes which stared back at him blankly. "Juvia is the rain woman of the Element Four, drip, drip, drop…" The two stared at each other a bit longer, seemingly sizing each other up before Natsu took the initiative, the little manners that he did possessed kicking in.
"Natsu Dragneel, S-Class mage of Fairy Tail." He answered courteously. Although she didn't ask, it was polite to introduce yourself when someone had done the same.
"Juvia knows of you. The Crimson Chaos, Natsu Dragneel-sama. Your power and your reputation precedes you. Master Jose told the Element Four to be wary of you." Juvia stated.
"I'm flattered that he thinks so highly of me." Natsu replied with a dry tone of voice, clearly indicating that he didn't give a fuck what Jose thought. "But you guys aren't doing so well. Two of the Element Four are down. Taken out by mages who are A-Class at best. I can't help but be a bit disappointed considering how much you guys were hyped up." He pointed out.
"Juvia never would have thought that two of the Elements would have been defeated. But do not underestimate Juvia and Aria." Juvia replied.
Natsu grinned at the steel he saw in the Juvia's eyes. He could tell that she was powerful, probably around the same level as Erza. Not to mention, she was a [Water] mage, his polar opposite. He could feel his blood boiling in anticipation of a good fight. He saw her body tense in preparation.
Without much of a warning, he was enveloped by a sphere of water. The speed at which she cast the spell as well as its precision was breath-taking. Natsu actually took a few seconds to admire her ability. The sheer skill and grace she displayed were awe-inspiring. He could see now why this woman had such a reputation. She wasn't one to be trifled with. Any lesser mage would have fell quickly to such an attack, rendering them unconscious from a lack of oxygen. Unfortunately for Juvia, Natsu was anything but.
He allowed his magic to flow freely, his body being covered in an orange aura as the water that surrounded him started sizzling. The natural heat of his aura clashed with the water causing it to evaporate. It took less than a minute until all of the [Water Lock] evaporated, leaving Natsu unharmed.
Juvia, still with her palm raised towards Natsu, looked on without surprise. She never expected her [Water Lock] to be able to hold a mage of his calibre. She was merely testing the waters, so to speak.
Natsu grinned at his opponent before kicking off the ground and moving towards her at a blistering pace. He got within her guard and unleashed a devastating flurry of punches at her. To his surprise though, they phased right through her body, which looked to be made entirely of water, leaving absolutely no damage.
Natsu disengaged and retreated back to his original position. He looked at Juvia and couldn't help but scratch his head in confusion.
"Juvia's body is made entirely of water. Physical attacks are useless against Juvia." Juvia answered him, seeing his unasked question.
"Damn, that's one hax ability you've got there." Natsu whistled appreciatively. Juvia let out a little smirk at his complement, happy to be praised for her skills, even if it was by an enemy. "Wait, does that mean you don't need to bath? Since your body is made up of water...there isn't really anything to wash…unless you have to keep your water clean as well…? Also…how do you use the toilet? Do you like, not have to take a dump since you're all water? Huh, that's pretty confusing ability." He started mumbling to himself, trying to figure out his little conundrum, unaware to the furious blush on Juvia's cheeks at his invasive comments.
"Juvia can turn her body into water at will...Juvia isn't water all the time!" She stuttered out embarrassedly. Natsu hit his palm in realisation.
"Oooh…that makes senses. Still though, that's a pretty amazing ability you have there." He complemented once again, before he gave her a feral grin, one that stirred something within her. "I can tell this is going to be a great fight. Don't hold anything back, Juvia. Let's get fired up!"
Upon seeing the orange fire explode out of Natsu's body along with the challenging grin he had on his face, Juvia couldn't stop the excitement from bubbling within her. She was never one to thirst for battles, like her friend Gajeel, but for some reason she felt her excitement grow at the prospect of fighting the infamous Natsu Dragneel. There was just something about him that drew her into his pace. He had this aura about him, or maybe it was just his natural charisma. She wanted to test her mettle against him. She wanted to let go of her restraints and go to war with this man. In that moment, all thoughts of Lucy Heartfilia, Phantom Lord and Fairy Tail left her mind. The only thought that remained…was to defeat the man before her.
Water started swirling menacingly around her as Juvia's power started rising rapidly, a blue aura surrounding her body. Both combatants stared each other down without flinching. There was a tense silence in the air, apart from the sound of raindrops crashing against the metal surface of the giant robot. A flash of lightning appeared in the sky, serving as the unspoken signal for the start of their fight as Juvia and Natsu charged at each other.
Juvia launched a powerful looking heel kick at Natsu's face which the [Dragon Slayer] dodged by swiftly lowering his body. He continued his motion and transitioned into a sweep kick at Juvia's feet, said [Water Mage] jumped over the attempt before using the momentum of her fall to bring down an axe kick on Natsu's head. He spotted the danger though and quickly backtracked, just enough to see the heel of Juvia's foot leave a large dent in the steel contraption they were standing on.
Natsu whistled quietly to himself at seeing the amazing feat of strength from Juvia. He was seriously impressed by her. It was obvious to see that this woman was no joke. He had to get serious as he couldn't afford to underestimate her. Juvia was wasting no time though as she pressed her attack on.
A thick whip of water came careening at Natsu who rolled to the side to avoid it. He gave a quick glance over his shoulder to see the large whip shaped dent on the surface from the power of the attack. He made a mental note to never get hit with one of those. Not one to be kept on the back foot, Natsu unleashed an attack of his own.
A large vortex of fuchsia coloured fire flew towards Juvia, who wrapped a tendril of water around her waist that she anchored to the ground and used it to launch herself into the air, completely avoiding the large attack.
Two sharpened tendrils of water cut through the air as they sped towards Natsu, who used his superior reflexes to manoeuvre his body in such a way that he dodged them at a hairs breadth. Lucky for him though, as the attack sliced through two of the steel towers behind him like a hot knife through butter.
Back and forth the two of them went, trading magical attacks for quite a while. It was clear to see though, that for all her amazing prowess, Juvia just didn't have the magical capacity to be constantly spamming large magical attacks like Natsu could. Though, to be fair, Natsu was a complete freak of nature in that regard. There were very few people who could hang with him when it came to pure power and stamina. He could see that Juvia had quite a bit of power in her, being at least above the average S-Class wizard, probably on par with Erza in that regard. But she didn't have the kind of fighting experience and situational awareness as the aforementioned sword mage or Natsu himself. It was obvious to see that most of her fights were against small fry that didn't fully challenge her to go all out thereby hampering her ability to grow as a mage. Natsu had no doubt that with a more stringent training regimen, and more exposure to high-class opponents, Juvia would end up being a true force of nature.
The very thought of such a possibility made his blood boil in anticipation. It didn't help that there was something strangely endearing about the rain woman that seemed to call out to him. He didn't know why but his instincts were telling him that Juvia could be someone important to him someday. As that thought permeated through his mind, Natsu ruthlessly crushed it. He made a promise to himself a long time ago that he would never allow anyone to get close to him again. He couldn't have a repeat of what happened two years ago. As such, he made sure to keep everyone at arm's length and limit his interactions with others to the bare minimum. As such, whatever direction his gut was leading him towards was summarily ignored. While he admitted to himself that Juvia could prove to be a pleasant companion, not to mention that she was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Even he could admit as such when he looked at her. But he wouldn't take that risk. Call him a coward if you will, but Natsu honestly stopped caring a long time ago. Cutting himself off from others for so long allowed him to cultivate his veneer of absolute indifference which heled tremendously in times like these.
Deciding that he couldn't draw this out any longer, even though he was really enjoying fighting Juvia, Natsu decided to bring out the big guns. He took a deep exhale. Juvia, recognising what was about to happen from having witnessed it numerous times from Gajeel, erected a dome of water around herself to protect her from the oncoming onslaught.
"Fire Dragons Roar"
The signature attack of all [Dragon Slayers] was unleashed. The blistering hot stream of flames raced through the sky before colliding with Juvia's dome of water. Steam filled the air as Juvia tried her best to pump more power into her spell in the hopes of stopping Natsu's powerful roar. Unfortunately, she could not hold on for long as she was overpowered. She hastily solidified the water beneath her feet, using it as a platform to jump out of the way of the attack. While a good idea on paper as she succeeded in avoiding the full brunt of the Roar, it didn't quite work out the way she had hoped as it left her wide open to the real danger, that being Natsu himself. She barely had time to curse herself for such an amateur mistake before feeling the overwhelming heat of Natsu's [Fire Dragon Slayer] magic.
"Dragon Slayer Secret Art: Crimson Lotus – Fire Dragons Fist"
Numerous fists of fire were mercilessly unleashed upon Juvia's unguarded body. Normally, her natural defence would make her intangible which would render any damage from physical attacks moot. However, the sheer heat and power of Natsu's flames were too much for her to handle, even with her water body, as they started to severely burn her. Juvia let out a scream of anguish, showing just how much pain she was in from being up close and personal with the flames that were meant to kill dragons.
Luckily for her, Natsu felt merciful today as he released the attack early. He would never say it out loud but he had taken a liking strange woman in the short time that he knew her. She was pretty quirky, which is nothing new to him having spent so much time around other Fairy Tail mages. But she had a good heart, Natsu could tell. They were kindred souls in a way. He may have been imagining it but he felt as though she may have understood the feeling of loneliness as well as the feeling of not belonging anywhere. It was a wild conjecture but Natsu trusted his instincts implicitly. That wasn't to say that he was going to go out of his way to bond with her. No, no…those days are long behind him. He was a pretty cold-hearted bastard now, at least that's what he liked to tell himself, and he had no intention of playing nice with anybody. Those were his thoughts as he walked away from Juvia, who was lying flat on her back, most of her clothing having been burnt away as well as her skin being bright red from the heat she was forced to endure.
"Why?" She managed to croak out as she heard Natsu's footsteps moving away from her.
"Hmm?" Natsu, having heard her hoarse voice, stopped and looked at her over his shoulder.
"Why did you spare Juvia?" The Rain Woman asked, with a few tears flowing down her face. Natsu could tell, despite the heavy rain, that she was crying. It definitely wasn't because he beat her…she wasn't that kind of woman. Natsu could only assume that this was about something else. "Juvia heard that you were merciless against your enemies, leaving most of them crippled. Juvia expected herself to meet the same fate. So why did you spare Juvia? Is it because of pity? Is Juvia not worthy of being seen as a threat by you?" She cried out in frustration.
Natsu didn't respond immediately, taking his time to formulate a response. It was at times like this that he remembered how troublesome woman could be. It was the same with Lisanna. She would get mad at him for things he did, or sometimes didn't do, without any explanation whatsoever. Natsu had no clue how to deal with these situations. He was raised by a fucking dragon for goodness sake. There weren't any lessons on social etiquette. It wouldn't have mattered though as no amount of preparation or knowledge would be enough for him to be able to understand the opposite sex. He gave up trying to understand them a long time ago, having come to realise that it's better to just go with the flow. He let out a tired sigh before responding.
"I'm not sure why you seem to be so quick to want to throw your life away but please don't expect me to help you in your attempts at assisted suicide. If you want to die, then do it yourself." He stated bluntly. It was pretty insensitive thing to say, but then again sensitivity wasn't something Natsu was known for. Juvia smiled slightly at his straightforward words, but it was a lifeless smile accompanied by hollow eyes. "As for why I spared you. It wasn't pity, that was the furthest thing on my mind. It was respect." He informed her. Juvia widened her eyes in surprise at hearing that. "I enjoyed our fight, and I can tell that you have a lot of power within you. But for some reason, it's being hampered. That's understandable though, as we all have our demons to deal with. I can tell from your eyes that you understand the pain of loneliness, the feeling of not belonging and the desire to be accepted. It's okay to feel that way…I did too not too long ago. But let me give you a small piece of advice. There isn't a need for you to try to change yourself to conform to the standards of others. Don't be afraid to be who you want to be, who you were meant to be. Others may shy away from you and you may experience greater loneliness…but you will eventually find that one person who accepts you for who you are. At the end of the day…that's all that matters. Besides, underneath all those layers…I'm sure there a wonderful person waiting to emerge."
Juvia felt even more tears run down her face, only this time, they weren't tears of anguish…they were tears of happiness. His words felt like being bundled in a warm fluffy blanket on a cold winters day. They struck deeply into her soul and unravelled all that which she buried in an attempt to appear more normal. She was desperate for friendship. She yearned to be accepted. To be comforted. The find someone that she could laugh with, cry with and someone who would fully embrace her for who she is, quirks and all. Gajeel was a good person and a good friend, but he wasn't someone that would fully understand her deepest desires. Which is why she was left so vulnerable at Natsu's words. He seemed to have stripped away her armour with nary a glance and laid all her demons to bear. Juvia felt compelled to tell her story. Even if he wasn't interested, even if he may walk away from her…she decided to take the chance.
She started slowly, speaking of her lonely childhood due to her ability to unintentionally call the rain. She spoke of being bullied and ostracized by the other children as well as the adults. Having no parents or guardian meant that she was forced to sleep on the streets as the matron at the orphanage kicked her out when her powers started emerging. She told Natsu of her relationship with Bora and how he used her to further himself. Throughout her speech, bitter tears ran down her face as he recalled the pain and humiliation she was forced to endure, merely for existing.
"There were times Juvia thought of ending it all…" She said with a hollow voice, her eyes blankly staring at the sky. "But Juvia was too much of a coward. Juvia always held on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, things would get better. That Juvia could finally find a place to belong. But that never happened. And here Juvia is, lying defeated with nothing left to live for anymore. It would have been a form of mercy to end my miserable existence, instead of prolonging my torture." She said before letting out a rueful chuckle. "You really are a cruel man, Natsu Dragneel."
Natsu never showed a hint of emotion throughout her monologue, showing that he was unmoved. Well…on the outside at least. But her words affected him, as much as he wanted to deny it. He hated it. He hated the feelings that her speech brought out in him. He promised himself never to feel anything for anyone ever again. He swore that he would stop caring about others and keep to himself. But it was at times like these that he learnt a harsh truth. No matter how much one may try…it's almost impossible to escape who you really are. No matter how much he may say he doesn't care, there will always be a small part of him that does. No matter how cold he tries to be…his warmth will always reach out to others. He let out a bitter smile at that thought. As much as he wanted to walk away from Juvia right now, he knew his conscience would never rest if he didn't set her right. He was man enough to admit that he developed a little soft spot for the rain woman in the short time that he's known her. Besides, she seemed to be a much better person than he was so she deserved a little comfort, even if it was from an asshole like him. With a sigh, he looked at her over his shoulder.
"It wasn't cowardly, Juvia, in fact it was the opposite. Death is the easy way out. It's nice to think that ending it all will allow you to attain some form of happiness on the other side. It's a delusion that we all come to expect. I think it's much harder to live, facing the struggles of everyday life and never giving in to the sweet temptation of death." He said. His voice held wisdom and a sense of longing, that made Juvia think that he was perhaps speaking from experience, that he too once contemplated ending it all. "I'm not sure why I'm doing this as I normally couldn't care less, but…you shouldn't give in, Juvia Lockser. You have an inner strength that is rare in this day and age and I think, no, I know, that with the right stimulus, you will be somebody great. So don't give in, don't give up. Keep fighting for what you desire and I guarantee that you will find that one person who will accept you for who you are, and that place that you belong. I look forward to the day that you are freed from those shackles for I can tell that that Juvia will be one hell of an amazing woman." Natsu said with a grin on his face as he looks at her over his shoulder. "I look forward to having a rematch with that Juvia." He finishes as he walks away while casually waving his arm.
Juvia couldn't describe that unassailable feelings of joy that blossomed in her chest at his words. She felt so much acceptance in his smile. While she has been duped many times in the past by people who wanted to exploit her, Master Jose being one of them, she could tell without a shadow of a doubt that Natsu was being sincere. The fact that they exchanged blows in battle only further solidified this. They say that you can come to understand someone better by exchanging blows with them and Juvia felt that she caught a sneak peek into the motivations of the infamous Crimson Chaos. As her mind cleared and her insecurities were washed away by his parting words, Juvia felt a weight lift off her shoulders. She truly felt like a new person, as Natsu's words struck closer to home that he possibly intended. The sky above parted majestically as the rays of the sun broke through the grey clouds. For the first time in her life, Juvia stared at the gorgeous blue sky above, clear of any clouds. It was a wonderful expanse of azure all around and Juvia's heart soared in happiness at finally witnessing something that she has always desired. She gave off the most beautiful smile as she basked in the warmth of the sunlight, her eyes closed as she pictured the handsome [Dragon Slayer] that opened up her world.
"Truly, what a cruel man you are, Natsu Dragneel." She whispered happily with a newfound sense of purpose blossoming in her chest.
Natsu leisurely walked through the halls of the quickly crumbling mobile guild, discreetly scanning his surroundings as he went. He was still thinking about his fight with Juvia. The buxom [Water Mage] really made an impression on him. He hoped that she would take heart from their fight and use it to grow further as he looked forward to doing battle with her again.
The sounds of fighting weren't as loud as a when he first entered, with Gray, Elfman and Erza having taken care of most of the small fry. He could sense that Gray, Elfman and surprisingly, Mirajane heading towards Erza who had just finished completely crushing Aria, the leader of the Element Four. He knew Jose would probably intercept Erza, perceiving her to be a larger threat than Natsu as well as having confidence that his ace, Gajeel, would be enough to take Natsu out.
He wasn't sure whether to feel insulted about that or not. Considering that Jose put Erza above him in his pecking order, Natsu decided that Jose was obviously severely retarded. He made a note to smack the guy around a bit if he had the time, but for now he was of no consequence as Natsu had a reunion to attend to. A reunion he was sure that only he would be aware of.
Over the years, Gajeel gave no indication of remembering their time together as children. Especially considering the emotional pain that he has joyfully been inflicting upon Anna's descendent, Lucy, for these last few days. That alone made Natsu sure that Gajeel didn't remember as he would never do something like that. He may have been an unpleasant bastard, but he was never the type to gleefully harm the innocent.
Natsu decided that his old pal needed a serious reality check, which Natsu was happy to provide in the form of a brutal ass-kicking. Not just because Gajeel has been messing with his guild, but also for hurting Lucy. It was no secret among the young [Dragon Slayers] during their time together that Natsu was majorly crushing on Anna, much to his consternation as that bastard Igneel teased him about it to no end. Thankfully, Anna, being the refined and elegant woman that she was, took it in her stride and thought it was adorable of him. It was pretty much accepted by the other 4 that he was her favourite, considering how much she doted upon him. Which was why Gajeel was in for a serious beat down.
He didn't know Lucy personally, but she was a part of Fairy Tail which, was much as he loathed to admit it, was his home. Add on that she was the splitting image of Anna, not only in looks but in kindness as well, although she had none of the sophisticated elegance that Anna exuded which was weird considering that she came from a wealthy family. That was more than enough for Natsu to involve himself in this little affair. He normally wouldn't have bothered much, as he was sure that Makarov would be able to deal with Jose and his hissy fits. But the old man went and got himself taken out by a weakling like Aria. It was majorly embarrassing and Natsu planned to hold it over the old midget for a long time.
He came to a stop in front of a large iron door. He was about to open it when he heard a piercing scream. It was filled with pain and despair and Natsu easily recognised it as Lucy's voice. His blood started boiling in rage at the picture that was being painted in his mind. He was already angry with Gajeel for tormenting Lucy from afar, but now that he was physically harming her, Natsu was fucking furious.
She was supposed to be kept safely at the Guild being protected by its members but Natsu remembered that he had put his trust in a bunch of lazy bastards who spent most of their time getting drunk all day. He chastised himself for that and made a note to never do something that dumb again.
Veins started appearing on Natsu's forehead as an orange aura surrounded him. His magic started rapidly rising and his face was a mask of fury. He was planning on playing around a bit and taunting Gajeel, knowing that that guy had a huge amount of pride and an even shorter fuse than he did. Now though, all bets were off.
With a mighty swing of his fist, the iron door flew off its hinges and into the far wall of the room from the power behind Natsu's punch.
Gajeel didn't flinch as the heavy door flew past him at high velocity and crashed into the wall behind him. He still stood there with his arms crossed and a sickening smirk on his face. Lucy was chained up to the wall on his right, clearly having been worked over from the amount of blood that was pooled around her feet as well as the numerous cuts and bruises marring her once beautifully pristine skin. She was clearly unconscious though, the last attack on her person probably too much for her mind to handle. There was a slight pulse before the air became heavy and clearly palpable with power.
The cold look in Natsu's eyes coupled with the intense killing intent that he was releasing had the few Phantom Lord grunts quivering in fear. Gajeel still had that insufferable smirk on his face, but if you looked close enough you would see the slight strain on his face coupled with the nervous bead of sweat rolling down the side of his face.
It was far too late for any regrets at this point and Gajeel was never one to have many. He was as straightforward as Natsu in his way of life and he would face whatever came at him head on. He would admit that the display of power from his self-proclaimed rival was a bit unnerving. He had assumed that they were at similar levels of power, considering that they were both somewhat aces of their respective guilds. But he clearly didn't expect his power to feel this intense. Gajeel refused to back down though, it just wasn't his style.
"Gihihi…I've been expecting you Crimson Chaos. I could smell you coming!" Gajeel exclaimed before leaning forward to stare at Natsu. "Huh? What's the matter? Are you mad that I messed up the blonde bimbo?" Gajeel taunted with a leer in Lucy's direction. Natsu's eyes narrowed further, pleasing Gajeel who took it as a personal victory that he was able to affect Natsu with his words.
"I was planning on playing around with you a bit, but you've gone and seriously pissed me off Gajeel." Natsu replied, causing an ugly scowl to come upon Gajeel's face.
"Don't speak as if you're better than me fairy trash!" He roared in response. "I'm tired of hearing about your damn exploits and us being compared to each other. This fight was inevitable. There can be room for only one dragon in these skies, and it's about time we figure out once and for all who's the rightful ruler of these skies!" After his proclamation, he too started releasing his not so inconsiderable power.
Natsu would be lying if he said he wasn't impressed. Gajeel certainly had power in spades and had no doubt earned his status as the ace of Phantom Lord. He was certainly more powerful than Juvia, and definitely above Erza and Mira, if she were still an active mage.
Along with the large amount of rage that Natsu was feeling, which contributed nicely to amplifying his power as most negative emotions tended to do, Natsu's thirst for battle was also coming to the fore as this fight promised to be one more intense and ferocious than the one he just had with Juvia. While he tried to come off as cool and indifferent in most cases, Natsu was very much the same battle-freak he's always been. That was something he doubted would ever change and it was something that he wouldn't change about himself. He absolutely loved the thrill of battle and testing his prowess against powerful opponents. It was one of the few releases he had in his life and he was going to make sure he savoured the battle that was to come. Not to say that he was going to unnecessarily draw it out as Gajeel had more than earned a thorough beating for his actions. Once Natsu was done kicking the shit out of the metal-head, he would be sure to have a nice little chat with him and his behaviour.
"'Ruling the skies'. Pfft, what kind of melodramatic bullshit is that? Sounds to me like someone was reading far too many fantasy novels for their own good. Next thing you know you're going to end up giving a monologue about you being the strongest [Dragon Slayer] around." Natsu snorted in contempt at Gajeel's posturing. Said [Iron Dragon Slayer] clearly didn't take to kindly to those words if the menacing scowl on his face was anything to go by. Seeing this, Natsu couldn't stop the almost imperceptive smirk that bloomed on his face at the chance to mess with his old friend/rival. "Ha! As always, you've got that vulgar look in your eye."
Gajeel's eyes widened in shock and his body stiffened upon hearing those words. Those very familiar and bittersweet words. He saw flashes of a giant silver dragon in his mind. His brain was working a mile a minute trying to figure out what was happening and why Natsu knew those words. But he didn't get long to consider it, a second or two at best before Natsu exploded from his position and delivered a meaty looking left hook at Gajeel's face, causing it to ripple grotesquely around Natsu's fist before his body was sent flying into the back wall. Natsu didn't give him time to get his wits about him though as he pressed on his attack with an axe kick aimed at his head.
Gajeel though, snapped out of his funk, deciding to put whatever questions he had to the back of his mind and focus solely on this fight. The transformed his right forearm into an iron club and held it up to block Natsu's kick. Gajeel had to admit that he was impressed, he could feel the power behind the kick as his iron club started to creak from the pressure being exerted upon it. He wasted no time in forcing Natsu to disengage though as he swung his arm, forcing Natsu to backflip out of the way, however Gajeel took the split second opening that he was provided and launched his attack as Natsu was mid-flip.
"Iron Dragons Club"
His forearm extended as it raced towards Natsu at high velocity, smashing into the [Fire Mage], who had no choice but to put his forearms up in defence as he couldn't dodge fast enough. He was launched backwards and into a wall from the brute power of Gajeel's attack. He didn't waste any time dwelling on it though and immediately kicked off the wall and met the charging Gajeel in the centre of the room, sparks flying from their fists clashing against one and other.
Both disengaged and jumped back before flowing into another attack. Gajeel going in with a full body charge with his entire weight behind it, which was quite a bit a Gajeel was a big dude. Natsu though, never one to back down met him head on once again, both clashing heads as they tried to over-power the other. Both gritted their teeth in both anger, further fuelling their desire to win.
Gajeel was the first to break the stalemate as he swung his arm up towards Natsu.
"Iron Dragons Sword"
His forearm transformed once again into a wicked looking sword that would no doubt cut Natsu in half if it connected. Natsu, sensing the immense amount of danger his was in, immediately disengage and lean back as quickly as possible. The tip of the sword just barely scraping the tip of his nose on its ascent. Once the danger of being bisected had passed, he quickly backtracked, which was wise because Gajeel turned his sword to the side and swiped horizontally this time. Luckily, Natsu had already anticipated such an attack and moved as well as setting himself up for his own offensive.
"Fire Dragons Wing Attack"
Two thick whips of orange fire lashed out at Gajeel, scorching his forearms as he turned them into iron, along with the rest of his body, and held them up to protect himself. Normally, Natsu liked to use his regular [Fire Magic] and eventually build up to his [Dragon Slayer] magic if it was ever needed. But this fight was not only one for the Guild and for Natsu's loyalty to Anna, but also a fight of pride between the two premier [Dragon Slayers] in the world. It was for this reason that Natsu consciously chose not to use any of his other magic, his [Purgatory Flames] included. He was sure he would have a much easier time if he used his entire arsenal, but his pride wouldn't allow him to.
Nevertheless, it was quite impressive to Natsu when he saw that Gajeel was largely unaffected by his attack which was a bit of a surprise as he had seen this same attack carve off limbs as though they were paper. While there were scorch marks on Gajeel's arms, the immense defence provided by not only his element but also his natural constitution was remarkable. Natsu knew beforehand that this fight would in no way be easy, he was glad to see that Gajeel wasn't all talk. The guy was an absolute juggernaut which was further proven when he barely paid attention to his burns and instead attacked. Swinging both arms, which were once again turned into clubs, at Natsu who jumped back before landing with both feet planted firmly on the wall before using it to kick off and direct a full charge at Gajeel.
"Fire Dragons Battering Ram"
Natsu's entire body was engulfed in flames as he looked to deliver a full charged head-butt to Gajeel's sternum. Gajeel though, was smart enough to see through it and ducked low with his back on the ground before launching both clubs at Natsu's unprotected underbelly as he passed over him. The power behind it had Natsu coughing up a little saliva as he was thrown into the ceiling of the room, breaking through it and landing harshly on the roof. Gajeel wasn't far behind as he followed, showing his inhuman strength as he jumped through the Natsu shaped hole and landing safely on the roof.
Natsu wiped away the trail of blood from the corner of his mouth as he gave Gajeel a vicious smirk of approval. Gajeel answered him with a smirk of his own as a dark green aura surrounded him, answering Natsu's own crimson aura as both men released their power.
Down below, the mages of Fairy Tail almost stopped what they were doing when they felt the oppressive amount of power being released from the top of the Phantom Lord guild. They could see the towering crimson and dark green aura's that reached into the sky and gave a silent good luck to their resident [Dragon Slayer], knowing that things were about to heat up.
Inside the Guild we can find Erza and Jose clashing in a rather one sided fight. They were both rather annoyed at this point. Being the high level mages they were, they could both feel the monstrous amount of power being released by both Natsu and Gajeel. Erza was annoyed as she was once again made aware of the enormous gulf in power between herself and Natsu, and she didn't like it one bit. Jose, while not too intimidated by the amount of power, with him being a Wizard Saint and all, was more annoyed at the fact that his ace managed to hide this much power from him. He seemed to have severely underestimated Gajeel's power. Jose made it so that while he recruited powerful mages for his guild, he ensured that they weren't anywhere near his level so that they weren't a threat to his position. However, from what he could feel of Gajeel's power, he was sure that in a few years, the [Iron Dragon Slayer] would no doubt surpass him. That didn't sit well with Jose at all and he made a note to properly punish his pet [Dragon Slayer] once this was over.
The air was tense and the silence was deafening as the two juggernauts stared each other down. They were taking each other's measure and trying to find any gaps to exploit.
"Heh…you're stronger than I gave you credit for, Crimson Chaos." Gajeel stated with a smirk on his face. He could feel his blood excitedly singing the longer this clash went on. This was what he lived for. He was never one for aesthetics in the way he lived his life. Having spent most of his time on the streets after being abandoned by Metalicana, he learned the importance of survival. He didn't care if he had to crawl through the dirt to do it, he would win. That was what his instincts told him and that was what he was all about.
"You aren't too shabby yourself, Black Steel." Natsu replied with an answering smirk. Natsu felt a lot of his anger cool the longer this fight went on. While he was still pissed at Gajeel's treatment of Lucy, he couldn't deny that he was enjoying himself. He knew that Gajeel was one of the few people in the world who could take him to the limit. While he still had plenty of ways to overcome the guy, in terms of pure [Dragon Slayer] ability, it wouldn't be remiss to call Gajeel his equal. However, Natsu still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve and was ready to show why pure power wouldn't be enough to overcome him. Similar to Juvia, Gajeel was still not ready to step onto Natsu's level in terms of experience. Phantom Lord was holding him back and the longer this fight went on the more Gajeel would see that.
As a fierce wind blew past them, a stray piece of rubble from one of the destroyed towers fell to the ground with a loud plonk. That was the unofficial start as both men kicked off the ground, Gajeel with both arms turned into iron clubs and Natsu with both fist covered in a condensed layer of fire.
Punch. Swipe. Dodge.
It was a fierce brawl that both men put their all into. Both enjoying the thrill of the battle with wide smiles on their faces. Their guild matters were put on the back burner as both fought solely for their own pride and thirst for battle. Their dragon instincts were screaming for more s both sought to prove their dominance.
"Fire Dragons Scales"
"Iron Dragons Spears"
Two magic circles appeared before both men, matching the colour of their aura's. Crescents of orange fire started rapidly firing from Natsu's magic circle while sharp spears shot out of Gajeel's. Both attacks continued for about a minute, effectively cancelling each other out. Both men were content with that though, using the time to catch their breath before the next exchange.
As soon as both attacks died down, they launched themselves at each other again.
"Fire Dragons Demolition Fist"
"Iron Dragons Hard Fist"
Both of their fists collided, sending a massive shockwave to ripple out from the epicentre.
Natsu was the first to make a move as he lessened the pressure of his punch, causing Gajeel's to stumble forward from the force of his own punch before Natsu lashed at him with a flaming kick.
"Fire Dragons Tail Whip"
Gajeel, seeing that he couldn't dodge, took advantage of his elements most prevailing trait, defence.
"Iron Dragons Aegis"
A large circular shield appeared on his forearm with the head of a dragon that was similar to the design of his personal magic circle, blocking Natsu's kick, though the strain of Gajeel's arm was noticeable but he held on before pushing forward and using the shield as a battering ram to smash into Natsu who used the momentum of the charge to launch himself backward to put some distance between them.
As Natsu crouched upon landing, he immediately shot back up before taking a huge breath. Gajeel's eye's widened upon seeing what he was doing, knowing what was about to come next. He too inhaled deeply to prepare his counter.
"Fire Dragon's Roar"
"Iron Dragon's Roar"
A large maelstrom of fire and a vortex of sharp winds and iron fragments tore the ground up as they flew toward each other, meeting in a titanic explosion that rocked the entire mobile guild, kicking up a large dust cloud.
Natsu was the one to take advantage of it though, having expected such an outcome. He was already on the move as soon as his attack finished and closed the distance between the two before Gajeel had a chance to react.
"Fire Dragons Demolition Fist"
He roared as he caught Gajeel in the chest with a bone crunching punch that launched him into the air. Natsu wasn't through though as he followed up while Gajeel was still pondering what hit him.
"Fire Dragons Crushing Fang"
A devastating axe kick connected with the airborne Gajeel as he crashed violently into the ground, gasping painfully.
Natsu used the momentum from the axe kick to propel himself further into the air, just above Gajeel where he started gathering his fire into the shape of a sphere. While it started out as a large, barely stable sphere, Natsu compressed the fire at a rapid rate until it was about the size of a tennis ball. It looked a lot more stable as well as dangerous considering the way it was pulsating with power.
"Fire Dragons Pulse Bomb"
He threw the sphere at Gajeel, who barely had any time to move. The sphere crashed down and unleashed an enormous fire storm that tore through the spot it landed, continuously pulsing outwards from its epicentre as it expanded. The results were devastating as all eyes were drawn to the colossal sphere of fire.
Natsu landed on the ground with nary a sound, keeping a watchful eye on the spot that Gajeel once occupied. He refused to believe that the guy was taken out by that last attack and was proven right as a large vortex of metal shards came racing at him.
"Fire Dragons Whirling Embrace"
A dome of fire sprung up around him that was constantly rotating, arresting the momentum of Gajeel's roar and dispersing it.
As Natsu's dome dropped, he caught sight of Gajeel's condition. While there were quite a few bruises and a hell of a lot more burns, he seemed okay for the most part. His clothes were singed though and he was breathing quite heavily. Natsu caught sight of the large shields on both forearms.
'So that's how he minimised the damage from my Pulse Bomb. I believe he called it Aegis. Not a bad move to have up his sleeve.'. Natsu thought, impressed at Gajeel's sturdy defence.
Gajeel on the other hand, didn't have the luxury of analysing his opponents move as he heaved in an attempt to catch his breath. The air was dry from the intense heat and he was finding it difficult to maintain his regular breathing pattern. Add to that, his arms were still trembling from the scorching heat of Natsu's attack. Gajeel was considered a proud man and he would never admit defeat until the very end. However, even he could tell that things weren't looking too good for him. He thought that they were pretty much even in terms of power, but the small glimpse that Natsu gave him with that last attack proved that the [Fire Dragon Slayer] was far ahead of him in that respect. But that wasn't the main issue as even the most powerful could be defeated with the right tactics. No, the problem was Natsu's inhuman stamina and endurance. Gajeel, as one of the premier [Dragon Slayers] in the world had an inhuman constitution that allowed him to perform feats that ordinary humans, both magical and non-magical, couldn't even come close to matching. Therefore, he never had a problem with issues such as fatigue in battle…until now that is.
He just knew that if this went on any longer, he would lose by default as he would no doubt collapse from exhaustion, of his stamina and magic. Although his pride would never allow him to admit it out loud, he had formed a grudging respect for his fellow [Dragon Slayer]. He could tell from the look in Natsu's eyes that he had formed a similar opinion about him as well.
It was strange for Gajeel. Despite his blunt, tactless personality, he never expected to feel this way in the face of imminent defeat. He fought, scratched and clawed for everything in his life. He trained himself to the point of exhaustion to be the very best that he could be. To prove to himself that he was worth something. That he wasn't a reject. That he wasn't a failure. To show Metalicana that he had been wrong to abandon him, not that he would ever admit that part out loud. He put up a tough front all the time, but Gajeel was hurt deeply by his dragon parent's abandonment. He felt lost and betrayed. Those feelings quickly turned to anger and hatred which drove him to the torturous training sessions he put himself through. He had something to prove.
But again, strangely enough, as he stared at Natsu, who looked slightly better off, Gajeel felt an odd sense of contentment wash over him. He didn't particularly like the Crimson Chaos, but there was an odd camaraderie between them. He could tell just from looking that Natsu had gone through similar ordeals and used them to drive himself forward. Gajeel couldn't help but wonder though, why it was that Natsu was able to surpass him when, by all intents and purposes, there shouldn't have been that big of a gap between them.
As he gazed into the resolute eyes of his opponent, he felt an odd sense of enlightenment. Those eyes were filled with resolve and determination. But more importantly to Gajeel…they were filled with purpose. Something that Gajeel has sorely lacked in his life. All he lived for was fighting and proving his strength. He was strangely curious as to what happened to motivate his fellow [Dragon Slayer] to reach the levels that he did. A fleeting smile crossed his face as he wondered if would ever be able to ask.
He put that out of his mind though as he knew that the battle was at its climax. He couldn't go on much longer and he knew his opponent realised that as well. Gajeel decided to put his all into this next attack. It was do or die for him at this point and he refused to throw in the towel.
Both men locked eyes, the intensity in their gazes palpable. They knew that the finish line was in sight.
"Heh, you are one tough son of bitch Black Steel." Natsu commented with a grin on his face, one that was answered by Gajeel.
"You ain't too bad yourself Crimson Chaos." Gajeel shot back.
The pure fighting spirit being exhibited by both men could be felt thrumming in the air as they both prepared to finish this fight.
""Dragon Slayer Secret Art!""
Natsu spread his arms to the side, vicious flames gathering in his hands.
Gajeel on the other hand, reared back with his arm in the air, magic gathering at the point forming a long, sharp construct.
An enormous spear of iron was conjured above Gajeel's head. It was at least 5 meters long and quite thick as well. There were little spikes protruding off the body of the spear with a wickedly sharp tip at its head that spoke of easily goring through flesh if necessary. The scariest part though, was that the entire spear started to rapidly rotate, giving off a high pitched screeching noise. Gajeel panted heavily from the strain it took to bring out this attack. He normally kept it in his back pocket, but something about Natsu made him want to go all out and lay all his cards on the table. If he was going down, he was sure as hell going down with a fight.
Natsu on the other hand, had his entire body covered in volatile flames that looked eager to be unleashed. He grinned at the sight of Gajeel's attack. He had to admit, it was a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight. It looked much cooler than any of his attacks. But that wouldn't deter Natsu, he would hold nothing back.
Natsu swiped his arms in a circular motion, unlashing the deadly and explosive flames that took the shape of a roaring Phoenix.
Natsu's powerful flaming Phoenix collided with the brutal spear that Gajeel hurled forward with all his might.
"Crimson Lotus: Exploding Flame Blade!"
"Karma Demon: Spiralling Spear!"
Both attacks met in a vicious collision, causing the entire Guild to tremble at the combined might of the attacks. Debris went flying from the epicentre as both attacks battled for dominance.
Large beads of sweat started rolling down the face of Gajeel as he strained his core to the max, pushing every last drop of magic that he had into the attack.
Natsu grunted as he expended quite a bit of effort to hold his ground. Although he was quite a bit more powerful than Gajeel, he had to admit that the larger man held nothing back and was dead set on pushing him to his limit. Further than he's ever been pushed before.
They both knew the inevitable outcome of this struggle, but neither would back down or hold anything back out of pure determination, some might say stubbornness, and respect for the other.
It only took a few seconds, though it felt like a lifetime to both men, before Natsu's attack overpowered Gajeel's, destroying his spear and colliding with his unprotected body head on. There were a series of explosions as Natsu's attack detonated causing Gajeel to cry out in agony. The large conflagration drew the eyes of the spectators who knew without a shadow of a doubt that the fight was over.
Once the smoke cleared, Gajeel could be seen lying flat on his back, his skin marred with burns and his clothes heavily singed. He looked half dead for all intents and purposes, only the steady rise and fall of his chest indicating that he was still alive.
Natsu, upon seeing his condition and therefore confirming his victory, allowed his body to ungracefully hit the ground, he too lying on his back. His breathing was laboured as he tried to regain his bearing. His head was ringing from the enormous amount of magic expended as well as the physical effort that he was forced to expend. He hasn't had to put this much effort into a fight since the one he had with Erza during his S-Class promotion trial. He's gotten a lot more powerful since then and therefore has hardly come across any worthy opponents. His fight with Juvia counted as one and she would definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Gajeel on the other hand, with respect to Juvia and Erza, was on a whole other level. He certainly earned his reputation as the ace of Phantom Lorde and he has more than eared Natsu's respect as a fellow warrior. More importantly, under that gruff and sadistic exterior, Natsu was able to see that his old friend hadn't really changed that much. Sure, the fact that they were both abandoned by their dragon parents no doubt took its toll on him, as it did to Natsu, and he was a lot more confrontational than before…but Gajeel was still Gajeel and that was enough to put Natsu's mind at ease.
He allowed a small smile on his face as he stared into the azure expanse above him, taking in the beauty of the clear sky. Things weren't as bleak as they were a few years ago. While the wounds still felt fresh, he would admit that he was coping a lot better. He knew that it would take a bit more time and a lot more effort, but he was hoping that he could one day make something of himself. As it stands, he was simply focused on increasing his power. In the short term, that wasn't a bad thing. But power for the sake of power was a worthless ambition, just one look at Laxus was enough to see that.
Natsu wanted something different. He just wasn't sure what. He wanted to do something that would make a difference. He wanted something that would make Lisanna and Happy proud when he saw them again in the afterlife. While he was content to wallow in self-pity these last few years he knew that he couldn't keep it up. He was a powerful being and he felt that he was meant for greater things, regardless of how conceited that may seem.
He would take his time though, for there was no hurry. He would continue his journey, learning new and interesting things along the way. Eventually, something would find him for that is generally how these things go. For now, he would just enjoy the ride.
An image of a smiling Juvia crossed his mind, along with the slyly winking face of Cana. He then looked at the slightly charred body of Gajeel out of the corner of his eyes.
'And if I happen to pick up a few friends along the way…I could live with that.' He thought contentedly.
Suddenly, and enormous burst of golden light flooded the area, originating from inside the Guild. It swept across the immediate vicinity. It filled the members of Fairy Tail with an unimaginable warmth, like a large blanket light that blew away the darkness. As suddenly as it came, it was gone…
Natsu allowed himself his slowly drift off, content that his job was done. He would leave the rest to the others.
It took a long time to finally iron this chapter out…and I'm still not fully happy with it but…oh well. I hope you guys enjoyed it. This is the end of the 'prologue' portion of this story, meaning the parts that were there to build the back story and the settings that will allow me to take things forward in my own direction.
As of now, all of my stories are in the same state, now that I have established the back stories and characters to an agreeable amount, I can let loose on what I wish to incorporate without holding back.
It has occurred to me, as I read through all of my stories recently, that I'm a bit too narrative in my writing style so I'm hoping to incorporate more dialogue in the coming chapters that will hopefully make the stories more engaging and bring out the personality of my characters a bit more and give them some added dimensions.
I made up a few attacks for Gajeel as it annoyed me that he had such little range in canon. If you guys have any suggestions, please feel free to send them in. Regarding Natsu's Pulse Bomb, picture Kuma from One Piece and the compression attack he used on Thriller Bark…I can't remember the name of it…but not on as large of a scale.
Updates: Now, concerning updates, I know it's been almost six months since I've last updated, so let me take the time to address that.
I have had quite a few people sending me inquiries, some polite, some outright hostile. Let me make a few things clear regarding this issue.
Currently, I am a second year university student. I also work part time in order to pay back my student loans. With that being said, I rarely have the time to relax as I have a hefty workload. So when I do get some free time, I prefer to just chill and not have to fully engage my brain. Now, that isn't to say that I don't enjoy writing, as it's something that I take pleasure in, however, as of this point in my life, my education takes priority and therefore I will put all my focus in that direction.
Now, that isn't to say that I will be abandoning my stories as I have already invested quite a bit into them and have already got them mapped out quite a bit. What will happen though is that they will be on the back burner so to speak. I will try to update when I can but they will be sporadic at best until I finish my degree. I understand that some people won't like this but my education takes priority. So I apologise to those who are offended but this is a hobby, not a job and I don't get paid for it.
Regarding the amount of 'hate-mail' that I've been receiving, it's almost admirable in that I can't believe that people have this much free time for something so insignificant. Normally, I won't even address something so petty and I normally completely ignore any flames. But this is to assure my loyal readers, who have written me, pleading not to drop the story because of the derisive comments of a few people.
I don't claim to be a great writer, if anything, I am an amateur in every sense of the word. I don't have a degree in English literature, the best I have is an A+ in high school English. I don't think that fully qualifies me as a writer but I try to get by. Therefore, I'm bound to make mistakes, in grammar, punctuation and spelling. Those are inevitable. I will try my best though to minimise those, but I'm not perfect.
Therefore, when people tell me how much my story sucks and how I should quit writing or how I, as one particularly outspoken fellow stated, should kill myself…I don't feel any anger. If anything, I feel pity. The fact that people can take time out of their days to write such things to a complete stranger never fails to baffle me. I don't take any of them to heart though. If you have criticism for my story, I welcome it. If you are going to criticise though, I except you to tell me what you don't like and how you feel I could improve on it. Basically, if you are going to criticise me, make it constructive so we can both discuss where you think I went wrong and how we can improve it. If you are just going to 'flame' me, I'm going to expertly ignore it. I understand that not everyone will like my story, that much is expected. Just as not all of us like the same food or music or even taste in men/woman, not all of us will like the same kinds of stories. That individuality is what makes us human. So if you don't like my story, I'm not upset as I expect that people preferences are different. If you plan on dropping the story, I don't mind as I know my story isn't for everyone. If just one person out there enjoys my story, I count that as an accomplishment. Which is why I'm happy to see so many people favourite/follow my stories as I never expected it. Therefore, I would like to thank you all for your patience and your understanding during this time. I will try to repay your faith in me as best I can.
In conclusion, if you don't like my story, I apologise that I couldn't peak your interests, and if you do, please rest assured that I will try my best to deliver the best quality chapters that I can when I have the time.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my story.