Cover Art from Dragon Cry
Characters Kidnapped from Hiro Mashima
CHAPTER 1- Red
The first thing she noticed about him was red.
Scales flickered across his coiled muscles, deep as the flames of the hearth. They melted into the golden skin of his bare chest before beginning again across his neck. They crept up to scatter sparsely across his cheeks like ruby freckles, only serving to embellish the sharp angles of his face. One horn twisted from the left of his skull – unbalanced. He wore only a pair of tattered pants, held up by a worn leather belt. A scabbard hung empty on his hip, but that didn't surprise her.
They wouldn't have let him keep his weapons.
His hands were fisted tightly, the tendons protruding against his knuckles. Heavy shackles locked his wrists together, the rusted iron links chaffing again the exposed skin they encircled. Lucy watched in morbid fascination as the men on either side of him shoved him forward, pushing him to his knees on the stone floor of the great hall. There was a cut on his forehead, leaking down his temple and blending into his scales.
His eyes were downcast, hidden behind a fringe of wild locks. Pink she realized, though it was dull under layers of dust and matted blood. It marked him as one of the Others, a sign that he was inhuman – magic manifesting in his odd colouring.
Everything about him screamed preternatural, vibrations of power humming just under the surface. She felt her mouth go dry as one of the guards thrust the end of his staff into the stranger's spine, forcing him further into the ground in some bastardization of a bow.
"Show some respect you piece of filth. You are in the presence of his Majesty, King of Bosco and the Golden Plains."
A low chuckle sounded from the left of her spot on the dais. She fought back a cringe as she saw the figure beside her lean back.
"Now, now. That is no way to treat a guest, Bora. Who have we here?" His voice carried across the hall, silencing the hum of whispers that had begun when the newcomer had been hauled into the grand chamber. Moonlight streamed through the long windows lining the wall, mixing with the haze of torches that had been lit before dinner had commenced.
The captain of the castle defenses bent low at the waist, dark hair neatly combed back.
"I apologize for the interruption, my king. Sentries found him by the mountain pass to the Edge along with a raiding party. He took down seven of our men, allowing the rest of his people to escape." The commander growled. He tugged at the chains binding the man's hands and feet harshly. "We managed to cuff him mid-shift to contain him."
By now, the silverware had been cleared as the court drank idly from their goblets as they waited for the night's amusements to begin. From the hungry glint in their gazes, they were savoring this new interruption. There would be no sympathy for an Other here. They were monsters. Lucy's fingers twisted into the fabric of her skirts as she let that sink in.
Had he really killed seven of their soldiers on his own?
"It isn't often that your kind wanders into our lands. Won't you introduce yourself?" The king asked again, his shoulders thrown back straight. He watched the captive, the quirk of his lips hidden slightly by his well-trimmed beard.
The man on the floor raised his head, craning his neck under the strain of his position. Lucy's breath caught as she saw his eyes for the first time. Midnight swallowed his irises and bled into his sclera, his pupils shining white out of their shadowed depths. He glanced around the room, skimming right over her as he glared at the man seated beside her.
He remained mute, defiance radiating from his features as the king scowled deeply. A shiver of fear crawled down her vertebrae, knowing what Jude Heartfilia was capable of when provoked. He didn't tolerate impertinence.
"Perhaps he's lost his tongue, I'm sure we can help with that." Her father taunted, only to be met with silence. Murmurs broke through the crowds once more. The king raised a hand, indicating to one of the soldiers. Immediately, the guard moved forward – staff arcing through the air before striking the prisoner heavily across his side. He flinched, sagging in the arms that held him, but no sound escaped his cracked lips.
"Speak boy, or are feral beasts incapable of speech?" Jude snarled as the thud of metal against flesh echoed through the room. The crowd tittered, expressions glimmering as the man grunted, the lashes finally provoking a response. He panted heavily, dragging air through his lungs as a ragged cough rung through him.
"The only beast I see is the bitch on the throne." He rasped, black eyes deadly as he spat on the floor, red splattering on the once shining marble tiles.
Chaos erupted around them. The guards hauled the prisoner upwards, bearing his dead-weight.
"You insolent little vermin!" Jude's face contorted, the vein at his temple pulsing as his fair skin flushed in anger. Jeers sounded from the noblemen in attendance in defense of their ruler. "Bora!"
The captain wasted no time stepping forward, yanking a whip from his belt and unwinding it.
"I will not let demons overrun our lands and make a mockery of us." The monarch thundered, slashing his hand through the air for the commander to begin.
The first lash screeched through the room, pulling a cry from the offender and forcing him to his knees. Jude continued to speak as the strikes cut through the noise.
"Why did you and that homicidal band of yours cross the Edge? To attack our men?"
The leather whistled as it landed, blood camouflaging between scarlet scales as it sliced into skin.
"Your men were the ones who attacked us!" The man roared, fighting against his manacles – the air around the metal humming. They were magical restraints then. It would explain how they had subdued the Other.
"Lies!" The king brought a fist down against the table, shaking the remaining cups.
"Then ask your soldiers who was with me. Ask them about the youngling they tried to shoot down!" He bit out, sweat slicking his hair to his forehead. His eyes were wild, raw. She drowned in the anguish she saw there – the heat and venom.
"Silence! You abominations have done nothing but prey on our people for centuries."
A lump was forming in the blonde's throat as she watched, the groans pounding in her ears as her pulse increased. She squeezed her eyes shut, ignoring the wetness on her lashes. The cries continued, the whip cracking down again.
She'd had enough. Hands fisted, Lucy reached to grab hold of the embroidered sleeve of the man beside her.
"Father, stop this!" Her voice shook, ringing clearly as the room quieted at her interjection.
The whip paused.
"What did you say?" Dark brown eyes cut down to her own identical ones, promising violence. She pulled back quickly, lowering her gaze to the table as she fumbled for words.
"I only meant… Your Majesty, please. My weak heart can't handle the stress." She murmured, diffident as she rested her hands in her lap. Her fists clenched under the fabric as her nails dug into her palms, hidden from sight. She was willing to play the damsel if it would get him to stop this torture. The quiet stretched out, the only sound coming from the heavy panting of the stranger before them.
"It's only natural, a woman's constitution is frail." A voice drawled from across the dais. She glanced up to see Rufus leaning in his chair as he watched her. His green eyes flashed as a lazy smirk graced his lips. He inclined his head respectfully towards the king before indicating to her once more. "Perhaps to preserve the princess' innocence, and that of the other ladies, it might be time to retire your Majesty?"
Lucy held her tongue, bristling at the insult as Jude considered. Their laws dictated only a male descendant of their bloodline could claim the throne, and without a son, her cousin was the natural successor. It was something her sire never let her forget. Lore's family held considerable sway in Bosco, and her father was nothing if not cunning. He'd find some way to turn it to his advantage.
"Perhaps you're right. It is late." He stated before rising. He glanced at his daughter from the corner of his eye before muttering under his breath so only she could hear. "I'll deal with you later."
She bit her lip, tasting copper.
A clamor of chairs slid across the floor as the court scrambled to their feet as well, bowing low as the King departed abruptly. Conversation buzzed as rumours flew across the room at the events of the evening. In the ensuing disarray, the guards pulled the prisoner from the hall, no doubt taking him to the dungeons where he could be further questioned. She hoped she hadn't made it worse. Lucy trembled on shaky legs as she struggled to keep her breathing calm, excusing herself as politely as she could.
What had she done?
Lucy lay on her stomach, resting her chin on her crossed arms below her. Her golden locks were splayed on the sheets of her bed, pushed away from her shoulders so her back was bare. She shivered as cold hands slid down her spine, wincing when they brushed a rough patch along her ribs.
"I'm sorry, I'm almost done." The woman above her cooed as she rubbed the balm against the bruises adorning the blonde's skin. Lucy just nodded, her eyes closed as she allowed the cream to sooth her aches. Supper had ended long ago, and she'd been dismissed from her father's study an hour prior. Stumbling into the hallway, she had kept her expression stoic as her handmaid had rushed to her side.
Once the young royal was freshly bathed and dressed in her nightgown, Flare had insisted on treating her. The princess didn't bother to fight it. She wouldn't scar, no one would dare mar her complexion – but the contusions still stung. Her mind wandered as she remembered the cuts and scrapes she'd seen on the man from dinner. She worried her lower lip, ignoring the sting from when she'd bit it earlier – there would be no one there treating his wounds.
Her heart panged with guilt.
His midnight eyes had been tumultuous and storming, but there was no doubt in her heart that he had been telling the truth. Hatred for his kind ran deep on this side of the mountains. She had been hearing the legends since she was a youngling herself – the Edge was dangerous, the Others wicked and cruel. Their honeyed words weren't to be trusted, and yet…
Lucy sighed as a hand tapped at her shoulder. Pushing up on her palms, she righted her shift as she looked over to her friend. Her handmaid's red locks were tied down in two long pleats, swaying as she cleared the bed. They had met when a young Lucy had accompanied her father to the border city of Raven Tail. Flare had worked in the duke's home and there had been an air about her that reminded the blonde of a cornered animal.
When she'd seen the burn marks under the girl's sleeves, the royal had seethed in anger. There was no way Lucy could abandon her in a place like that. After a few attempts at conversation, the women had become fast friends and the blonde had asked for the maid to join her back in the capital. Ivan had been furious, but it would have been too grave an insult to deny the princess, especially under the watchful eyes of her father. Whatever else he might be, Jude had raised her to befit her station. To the public, he was the image of a doting, if strict, parent.
Flare was one of the few who knew the truth. The salve was her creation and worked wonders in the ways of healing. Lucy wondered not for the first time, if her friend from the borderlands had a drop of magic in her veins.
Slipping under the covers, Lucy buried her head into the pillows, peaking an eye out when she heard a chuckle.
"Are you feeling any better?" The other girl asked. Lucy nodded, sitting up so she was leaning against the headboard. She carded her fingers through her hair, pushing her bangs from her caramel eyes. She chewed the inside of her cheek absently.
"Flare? When you lived in Raven Tail, did you ever come across Others by the Edge?" She asked, watching the shock play on her friend's face before she managed to school her features.
"You're asking because of what happened at dinner?"
Lucy nodded as she stared up at the maroon canopy above her, "You heard?"
Flare snorted at that, blowing out the candles before sitting on the large bed so that she could rest beside her lady. "I think the whole palace has at this point. I can't believe you stepped in to stop it."
The blonde shuffled over, hoisting up the sheets so her handmaid could slip in beside her. Flare did so easily, taking her normal spot closest to the door so that her mistress would be sheltered from unwanted intrusion.
"You didn't see him Flare, they were trying to break him." Her voice cracked without her consent as she fought the tightness in her throat. It took a few moments before she got an answer, soft but firm.
"They say he killed seven soldiers by himself."
"He contended that they were attacked first; he was protecting his friends." She argued, remembering his haunted voice as he'd bellowed across the chamber.
"And you believe him?"
"I looked into his eyes, and I don't think it could be anything but the truth." Lucy confessed, blinking up in the darkness, watching the clouds as they passed before the moon. It was peaceful in the bedroom, high up and secluded in the royal residence of the palace. The other girl hummed, drumming her fingers against the covers before reciting an old nursery rhyme.
"Beware their voice and silvered tongues,
Their words deceive both old and young.
Seek not the shadows in their gaze,
True danger hides within their haze."
Flare turned, just visible in the soft moonlight as she looked over to Lucy. "In my village, they always told us to run the other way if we met one of the Others. They trick you into following them to the Edge on your own."
She hesitated before continuing, her russet eyes hard. "If you ask me, we're better off with him locked up, Princess."
It was not yet dawn when the world began to burn.
Lucy woke drenched in sweat, her white chemise sticking to her skin as she shot up from the mattress. She pushed her hair away from her face, eyes widening in horror as a screech tore through the stillness of the small hours of the night. The sky beyond her window glowed ember, as if the sun was searing its way above the horizon.
Turning, she breathed a sigh of relief to see her friend lying beside her, blinking sleep from her eyes as she tried to sit. Lucy scrambled from under the blankets, sprinting to the window clumsily as sluggishness addled her brain. A moment later though, and her mind sharpened as her heartbeat grew erratic.
Flames scored the grounds below, creeping up the sides of the palace and the city streets. Men and women ran amok, scrambling away from the ever-growing blaze. Yet that wasn't what caught her attention first. Instead, it was the serpentine tail curling through the sky, glinting sapphire in the fire light. Two long wings blocked out the moon as the creature arched into a turn, diving for the western battlements. The southern wall was already a crumbled heap, a gaping hole in the castle's lowest levels. A shadow shot past her, and Lucy whipped her neck in the opposite direction. A larger beast barreled towards the ramparts, its hide a dark steel that disappeared among the smoke billowing in the wind.
Her legs gave out as she sunk to the floorboards below her, in awe of the vicious grace on display. Flare was beside her in an instant, gathering her under her arms to pull her away from the glass and to the relative safety of the bed. Hearing shouts from outside the door, they both immediately tensed. No guards came rushing in, but the familiar ring of metal being unsheathed purred from the corridor beyond.
The screaming started shortly after.
Wrenching herself from the redhead's grip, Lucy shoved her way past the doors and into the hallway. Soldiers flooded the space, their swords drawn on someone past her vision. Still, she could see the flames licking at the walls as they engulfed the tapestries that recorded her family's history. She choked back a whimper as the fine woven threads turned to ash. She looked beyond as the corridor branched in two directions. One led to a series of living spaces and the other led to her father's chambers: closest to the marble staircase that led from the royal residence.
Her mind spun as she realized the assailant had blocked their only escape, trapping them four stories up. Smoke began filling into the hall, stinging her eyes. Then suddenly, a hand encircled her wrist and yanked her in the opposite direction of the flames – her frantic handmaid leading her towards the lounges. Before she could question it, she was lurched forward as Flare hurried to the dead-end, pushing against the panel on the far right. Lucy's pupils blew wide as it creaked inward, revealing a servant's stairway leading into the darkness.
"Come on, Princess! Before he finds you!" Her friend urged, panic etched into the lines of her face, seeming every bit the cornered animal she had been when they first met. The blonde nodded, an icy grip surrounding her heart as she realized exactly who was at the other end of the hall.
Flare had been right, he couldn't be trusted after all.
In one fell swoop, he and his kind had destroyed the only life she had ever known. Her home was crashing down around her. These halls where she'd run as a child, the library where she'd write, and her late mother would tell her fairy tales—
Lucy had made it down six steps before she dug her heels into the wood, forcing Flare to pause alongside her. The princess' hands fluttered against the rail as she glanced back, her hand fisting against her chest.
"I have to go back."
"What! No, we have to go before it's too late!" The taller girl tried to grab the blonde once more, only for Lucy to move away, shaking her head.
"Mama's diary, it's still upstairs. I can't leave without it." She beseeched, already climbing backwards – her heart cracking at the fear she saw in her handmaid's face. She could just make out the old burn scars that littered the other woman's skin. Lucy winced, understanding her panic as the stairwell grew warmer from the encroaching flames. "You go on without me. I'll be right behind you!"
Flare cringed, indecision warring on her pale face before nodding quickly. "Don't take too long."
Lucy waited long enough to see the maid retreat before taking off.
She sighed as she skid around the corner, turning quickly into the small library that had been her haven. The blaze had not yet reached the old parchment tombs, but smoke curled through the air – thick and unyielding. Bringing her collar up to her nose, she breathed raggedly as she bolted to the desk in the center of the room. She immediately began digging through the drawers of the beautiful cherry wood antique, squealing in relief as she grasped the leather volume of her mother's journal.
So distracted was she, that she hadn't noticed the hall fall silent – the shouts and scratches of steel absent from the air. She didn't have a chance to react before she found herself being propelled backwards, her spine slamming into the bookshelves. She gasped, her ribs pounding from where they had already been badly bruised.
Her knees gave way at the pain but strong hands moved to hold her up by her arms, pinning her against a warm chest. Staring into midnight eyes, the sclera swallowed in the shadows, Lucy forgot to breathe.
He was scanning her over, his head canting to the side in a predatory motion.
Up close, she could see that the ruby scales on his face were much lighter than the ones slated on his arm and shoulder. His hair was wild, and that undercurrent she'd felt earlier in the great hall was unleashed as power vibrated freely from him – threatening to overpower her.
His sharp features were oddly elegant, the angles cut in inhuman grace. He wet his drying lips with his tongue, revealing the points of elongated canines. The white of his teeth flashed in the dim light, the gleam wolfish. Even after years of maneuvering the cruelty of her father's the court, she had never felt more like prey.
"L-let me go!" She screamed, struggling in his grasp, only for him to frown. His brows scrunched as he observed her. He released his grip on her left arm, the other still holding her securely as he turned slightly, waving to the where she'd been standing moments before. The blonde gasped as she took in the wooden beam that had fallen from the ceiling, crushing her mother's worktable into charcoaled splinters.
Her hand flew to her mouth, desperate to stop the low keen threatening to spill from her lips. Her digits brushed against the spine of the diary she still held tightly for comfort. A closer inspection of the beam proved more disastrous however, as it blocked off the only door to the room. She whimpered, her throat burning as the smoke drowned her senses, the books lining the shelves catching fire like kindling.
Beside her, the stranger was still watching her carefully, scowling as the muscle in his jaw worked. His fingers flexed against her bicep, causing her to glance back up at him.
"You're the one from dinner. The one who made him stop." His voice was low, rough from overuse. Still, there was a silky quality to it that caressed her, calming her despite the adrenaline coursing through her veins. Was this the thrall she'd been warned of?
Light headed and unable to speak through the haze, Lucy nodded.
The stranger hummed to himself as he released her entirely, striding towards the floor to ceiling windows that made up one wall. Without pausing, he lifted a taloned hand and slammed it through the glass – shattering it. Kicking the bottom, he used his fingers to smooth the opening, large enough for a person to slip through easily. When he seemed satisfied, he returned to her – the red scales on his chest gleaming in the light in stark contrast to the drying blood of his wounds.
Pausing a foot away, he held out his hand, his palm facing upward as he extended it to her.
She sobbed, fingers digging into the cotton of her gown, already dirty with soot. "There's nowhere to go!"
He raised a brow, nudging his head in the direction of the hole he'd made without breaking eye contact. She shook her head vehemently.
"We're four stories up, I'd never survive the fall."
"Not if you're with me." From behind him, a loud shriek tore through the air as she saw a shadow fly in the distance, the view blurry through her tearful eyes.
"You're one of...them?" She asked shakily, reaching out to place her hand in his. He took it firmly, leading her backwards as he edged to the glass.
"I'm your last chance." He replied evenly, his eyes flickering to the fire every few seconds as if he were monitoring it. She stepped closer, swallowing thickly as she nodded. Every cell of her body screamed danger, but she knew if she stayed, it would all be over.
The corner of his mouth turned up, revealing a sharp incisor as he pulled on her hand in his, yanking her so that she fell into him. He wrapped his arms around her tightly before she had a chance to argue.
A moment later, they were falling.
They tumbled backwards out the window without warning. She screamed as they spiraled in a free fall, the air stealing oxygen from her lungs as the stranger cackled in laughter.
The last thing she remembered were two scarlet wings expanding from his back.
Long reptilian spindles erupted outwards in a fan, spreading open the thin gold membrane in between. They caught in the wind currents, lurching them backwards until they were gliding through the sky. He re-positioned his hold so that his arms were behind her back and under her knees, cradling her to his chest. She shuddered again him.
Her eyes rolled back.
It was all too much, the stress of it all. Her side hurt agonizingly and even in the fresh air, smoke coated the interior of her lungs – dragging her into unconsciousness.
This is a short fic that I wrote as a birthday present for my friend MorriganFae! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL! She actually wrote me a Fairy Tail Fairy Tale AU as well based off of Cinderella. You've GOT to check it out! It's called "If the Shoe Fits".
Now more about "The Edge" - It's a Nalu fantasy AU based loosely (very loosely) around Beauty and the Beast. It's been super delayed, but I hope you enjoy it and leave me some feedback. I'm always trying to improve and your comments help tremendously. I also always make sure to respond =)
PS: Find me on Tumblr or Twitter for the latest on my stories and spamming reblogs of Fairy Tail content. Same username ^.^
PSS: This is not a spoiler free story. Though it is an AU, this story is references events up to the Alvarez arc, so continue at your own risk!