A.N. (1/15/23) - It's been a while since this was updated.
Chapter 4: No More Magic
Pain rang through his body, but a momentary sense of clarity was enough for him to expel the spirit possessing him. Still, that didn't mean it was a simple process. Wrestling for control while trying to use his magic meant he had to cut corners with his spell. The enormous amount of magic power leaving his body was being stolen by Sitri on his way out, weakening his personal reserves and depriving him of his remaining strength. Even his emergency reserve from his Second Origin was being depleted.
Furthermore, Vale could feel that he was being reconstructed into something different. For wizards, their magic was similar to their source of life. Normally, whenever a wizard was drained of their magical energy, there is a physical reaction that is based on the target wizard's magic power. The higher the magic power taken, the greater the damage dealt. With how much energy he lost, Vale should have already lost consciousness.
And yet, something happened.
Every drop of magic power was being wrung out from his body, but somehow, he felt an unknown energy emerging from somewhere to replenish it. It wasn't his own magic, that much he could figure out. Something was giving him newfound strength to help him recover, and the list of individuals who could do such a thing was a short one.
Could it be you, Mother? Vale wondered. After all these years without contact, why do you only choose now to interfere? What are your intentions?
If he expected a response, it might have been hard to concentrate on it due to what happened next. There was a sense of stunned disbelief as Vale collapsed to the ground exhausted while a malevolent being slowly formed before him. For a few seconds, the shapeless demon lashed out erratically until its body started to settle.
"Don't think I'm done with you!"
Erza showed wisdom by attacking while the demon was vulnerable, but the weapon missed Sitri as it dodged at the last second. His body flickered once more as it finally settled on the form of the Dorma Telum from before, albeit more feral and animalistic in design. Flames covered its entire body as every step it took ignited the grass underneath its feet.
Sitri gave out a loud cry.
Two individuals immediately moved forward to attack him, Erza and Pantherlily. Unable to join them, Vale could only struggle to prop himself up even as Wendy hurried to his side to heal him with her magic. A warm feeling enveloped his body as she knelt next to him, and he caught her making a strange expression from the corner of his eye.
"H-Huh?" Wendy's nose twitched. "Something's different about you. Your smell, it's changed to…"
Her words were interrupted as Carla yelled, "Move it!"
Dirt and grass exploded in the air as a stray attack barely missed them. Carla managed to grab Wendy at the last second, but Vale was forced to dodge himself by rolling out of the way. To his surprise, he found himself full of strength despite his lack of magic power. In fact, he compared his current strength to whenever he used one of his boost enchantments on himself.
Either Wendy's spell had done a lot more than he expected, or something else was at play here.
"From ashes, I rise. With this power, I shall regain my place as a true demon of hell."
Flames blossomed around them as the damage began to spread. The air itself was heating up from the presence of Sitri, not to mention the bursts of magic he threw around in a rampage. He was truly living up to his title as the demon of fire even in his weakened state. Only that wasn't exactly the case either. The only reason he was able to manifest in this form was that he stole most of Vale's magical energy during their separation. Rather than being weakened, the large amount of magic power he took probably raised his current strength to the level he was at his peak.
It was a type of black art that utilized Living Magic to create a new body for himself. Since Sitri was a genuine demon, Vale wasn't surprised that he was capable of such a feat. He was already familiar with the concept since most Etherious were made similarly. Not that the information was any help to them now. Erza and Pantherlily were already doing their best to combat Sitri, yet the demon was fending off all attacks without too much difficulty.
Wendy soon joined the fray with Carla supporting her, and that bumped the number of attackers up. Even so, Sitri managed to hold his own despite being surrounded on all sides. Only Erza seemed to faze him, and that was mostly due to the power of her holy weapon. Without the ability to summon better equipment, Erza was limited to only using the Three Powers to attack. And Vale couldn't remove the enchantment preventing her from doing so either. Not while he was deprived of magic power and still recovering.
"Come on," Vale told himself. "I just need a small amount. If I can't join the battle, at least let me fix my mistakes before it hurts others."
Sadly, there were no miracles to be found. There was nothing left in the container to even cast the simplest of spells. He couldn't even fight without magic since Erza still had his weapon and fighting barehanded against an opponent whose entire body was on fire was obviously a bad idea.
No, there was one avenue he hadn't tried yet.
"Do something, damn it!" He willed for the foreign energy filling his body to act, but nothing happened. "Come on, I can't just stand on the sidelines while everyone else fights!"
Not everyone, he realized. Looking around, he recalled that Edo-Vale was nowhere to be seen. Still, it wasn't like he could hope for anything much from his Edolas self either. Edo-Vale used up quite a large amount of power to subdue the Dorma Telum earlier.
"What the heck?" Vale turned back to the fight at Pantherlily's voice. "What's all this black stuff in the air?"
Lingering in the air was a black miasma that gave the surroundings an ominous feeling. Tracing the source, everyone realized that it was all coming from Sitri's body. Whenever he did something, a black mist would spread out as he continued to move across the entire battlefield.
A choking sound alerted the others to turn in Wendy's direction. "The air… something's wrong with it. It's like the mist is poisoning everything."
"Devil particles." Erza realized it first. "Get away! He's trying to eradicate the ethernano in the area to stop us from using magic."
Everyone immediately moved back as Sitri cackled while releasing even more black mist from his body. "Too late," he cried out. "The fumes of my fire have already been inhaled by you mortals. It is only a matter of time before you succumb to its effects."
True to his word, there was an immediate reaction. Wendy was the first to fall due to her affinity and disposition being heavily tied to the element of air. Carla was the next to collapse, followed by Pantherlily, and even Erza fell to her knees.
Sitri began to laugh hysterically, and everyone assumed it was because they fell for his trickery. Only, they realized that he was pointing at something while doing so. Turning their gaze, they saw that only Vale stood unbothered by the black miasma surrounding them all.
"What?" Pantherlily blinked. "What's going on? Why is Vale unaffected by the devil particles?"
"Is it because he has no magic left?" Carla questioned. "That's the only difference between him and us."
"That can't be," Wendy replied. "Magic power or not, the anti-ethernano pollutants in the air should affect anyone who is a wizard."
Only Erza remained silent, her gaze locking onto Vale with a suspicious look.
Vale didn't know what to say. Before he could give the others a chance to reach whatever conclusion currently forming in their heads, Sitri spoke. "I've seen the truth of your heritage, why not take this chance to embrace your true origin? Consider this a boon for all that you have done. Never claim that I am ungrateful to those that aided me."
"You did something," Vale accused. "When you left my body, something inside of me changed because of you."
"Of course," Sitri replied. "I took every drop of magic power contained within your body, but not because it benefitted me. Have you not realized the truth yet? While we are beings of magic, that is not your true calling. You've locked yourself onto a path that diverged from the one in which you can achieve true greatness. Magic is not something that helps you. Rather, it is a hindrance."
"What do you mean?"
"Do not lie to yourself any longer, you already know what I am talking about." Vale flinched. "Then again, you are an existence that is tied to the 'deception of magic'. To deceive the world itself that you are a creature of magic—that is the greatest lie enacted by yourself. Even now, you are trying to reject my gift by refusing to accept your heritage. Your mother's protection is formidable, I admit. But it is only a matter of time before you accept your true calling."
His mother's protection?
Was Sitri talking about the foreign energy filling him at the moment? No, he also mentioned something earlier about how his mother also left something behind for him inside his body. Now that he was aware of it, he could feel the parts of his body where devil particles interacted with being surrounded by a thin layer of light. The reason he had not fallen like the others was because of that protection, but was something more at play?
Vale shook his head. "Why does it matter to you? What do you have to gain from doing something like this?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Sitri gestured to himself. "I know that I will soon meet my end. You have proven that you are capable of separating me from possessing anything else. Without a host for me to live in, I do not have long before I eventually depart from this world. Only by subsisting on the magic power I stole from you am I still able to maintain my current existence."
"How does that relate to me?"
"You interest me. What I have seen in your memories, I have learned things that no other being will ever have the chance to understand. You have shown me a revelation neither god nor demon can ever comprehend. And yet, you are shackled by your lies and deceptions to the point where you continue to pretend that you can still live amongst these mortals as if you are one of them."
"You expect me to believe that all you want is to help me?"
"Not at all. I hold neither your trust nor your confidence. But in my final moments, I want to witness the birth of a new being that has never walked this world before."
The layer of light covering Vale's body flickered for a second. Even as they talked, more and more devil particles were filling the air. Everyone else was struggling to barely maintain consciousness, and Vale knew that it wouldn't be long before he too succumbed to the devil particle's effects.
"Your mother gave you magic, but you must discard her gift if you wish to understand what I truly mean. If it helps, I will even make it so that nobody else here will remember this conversation."
Sitri's eyes glowed, and Vale watched as his guildmates suddenly collapsed to the ground.
"What did you do?!"
"They are merely asleep. The past few minutes will be a hazy fog when they try to recall this moment. Whatever reservations you have, I will remove any obstacle left keeping you back from reaching your true potential." Sitri's body tensed as he positioned himself forward. "Even if that means forcing you to act with the will to survive."
The demon lunged forward with killing intent, and Vale knew that he was serious. Forcing himself to scramble away, he dodged to the side as one of Sitri's claws slashed through the air where he previously stood. Rolling next to Erza, he picked up the Three Powers that dropped from her hands and brandished it before Sitri.
"Do you think your attempt to wield a weapon that does not rely on your personal magic to use it will stop me? That holy weapon is nothing more than a replica, it will not save you from me."
"Even so, I won't just let you do what you want!" Vale swung the weapon. "Explosion!"
As a weapon made based on the techniques of Edolas, Vale knew that it was capable of working without relying on an external power source. Thus, when he swung the whip, the cord of metal gave out a burst of destructive force that forced Sitri backward.
Because his focus was on the opponent before him, he didn't notice when several tendrils of darkness crept behind him. By the time he realized something was wrong, it was too late. Vale gave out a cry of shock as he was suddenly bound and unable to move. The grip of his hand slackened, and the Three Powers fell to the ground.
"You continue to resist?" Sitri smirked as the tendrils tightened around Vale, causing him to choke. "Maybe you need a bit of desperation to convince you to listen to what I'm saying. I wonder if your friends will act as an incentive to hear me out."
Vale could only watch in horror as his hand lowered to rest above the fallen form of his guildmates.
"Who should I start with first? Could it be the black cat?" His claws lightly scratched Pantherlily's skin. "Or maybe the white one? How about the little girl who is close to her?"
"But if I recall from your memories," Sitri's words trailed off as his hand finally drew closer to Erza. "I believe this one will do nicely."
His struggles escalated as Vale tried to escape his bindings.
"Yes, this will do."
At his cry, an outward force erupted around him as it rippled across the field. The light covering his body broke apart as a wave of light destroyed his bindings, leaving him exposed to the mercy of the devil particles. Despite that, Vale ignored what was happening to his body as he tackled Sitri away right before his claws could graze Erza's face.
There was no conscious thought. All he could do was attack wildly and distract Sitri from focusing on the others. The two tumbled around on the ground as if they were wrestling with one another. Within seconds, Sitri gained the upper hand as his larger body forced Vale to be pinned underneath him.
"What now?" Sitri watched as a pained expression crossed Vale's face. "You feel it, don't you? The devil particles are infecting every part of your body. Unlike the others, you have no choice but to process them if you have any hopes of surviving."
"This shall be my final prayer," Sitri continued. "One last spell that I have taken from your memories. It is a blessing from a true demon of fire. My final hope is that you will eventually grow to accept this gift as a necessity for the future."
As Vale's vision slowly grew dim, he heard Sitri whisper under his breath.
"Demon Factor Release."
Sitri expected something to happen.
When Vale was under demonic possession, Sitri gained access to his innermost thoughts due to his lack of resistance. Through that, he gained knowledge of powerful secrets that he never expected to discover from the boy. However, he assumed that was the extent of his value and that there was nothing else hidden in his mind.
He was wrong.
Despite being separated, Vale's pitiful mental defenses meant that he still maintained a small connection to the other boy. It was only to the extent that he could feel his general emotions and read a few thoughts, but that was enough. After all, this wasn't the first time he encountered someone with exploitable minds.
It was one of the reasons why he attacked the boy's insecurities. Vale wasn't a true demon like he was, but an Etherious created by the Black Wizard Zeref. Prior experiences with his creations taught Sitri that they relied not on magical energy but instead on an alternate power called Curses. Even though it was similar to magic in the fact that they were both linked to the emotional state of the caster, Curses thrived on powerful negative emotions specifically.
But for some reason, there wasn't much he could use against the other boy to raise his ire. Sorting through his mind, Sitri realized that the boy's memories were lacking an emotional component to them. It wasn't like the boy was void of feelings, but rather, the emotions associated with his memories were muted. The only exception to this were the memories of the past five to six years, with every other memory prior to that period dampened. More importantly, the memories of the bonds he made with Fairy Tail stood out compared to everything before it.
That was why he threatened his guildmates and especially his sister. If he could provoke a reaction strong enough for the devil particles to trigger his demonic side, his goal would be complete. The spell he used on Vale was supposed to be the final push to awaken that state. Once he used it, he made sure to monitor the boy's condition through their link to see whether the spell worked or not.
Thus, he immediately noticed the moment it happened.
Suddenly, the existence known as Vale disappeared. A different entity appeared as something was called from far away to take his place. It wasn't born at that moment, but had already existed beforehand and was merely taking control of the wheel now that the owner was otherwise occupied. Since his connection only existed with Vale, Sitri had trouble recognizing the thoughts of the new entity that took over. But a single word echoed through the link until it reached Sitri's mind.
It was not merely a name, but an incantation that carried powerful weight behind it. A title from the language of the dragons bestowed upon a sage of wisdom. And as discomfort began to fill his body, Sitri recalled where he first learned that word.
Several hundred years ago, the Sage Dragon mustered his fellow dragons to restore peace to the land with the aid of humans. But it was an era of dragons and monsters, and humans had yet to forge their path as the dominant species yet. His name soon echoed throughout the lands as his appointed champion founded a new branch of Dragon Slayer magic. But during that development period, it was the dragon Belserion himself who led the charge against other threats to the humans.
At the time, one of those threats was the Ars Goetia—a gathering of many powerful demons joined together into one organization. To humans, they were also known as the Wanderers of Woe, for one of their core missions was to cause great misery and suffering across the lands. In their final years, the group had set their sights on the Kingdom of Dragnof due to the tensions caused between the humans and dragons.
The tools of demons were myriad, but one of their most impactful methods of harm was the plagues of devil particles that spread all over the kingdom. Because it fed on ethernano itself, there was nothing for the human wizards at the time to counter it. Those that were too weak to endure it perished under its effects, while those who didn't were changed until they converted into lesser demon species that still existed to this very day.
Reacting to this newest threat, the dragons who had sworn to defend the humans sent their most powerful members to face them. A vicious war between dragons and demons began, lasting for six years, six months, and six days. Both sides suffered casualties, but it was soon apparent that the demons would fall before the dragons would.
On the last day, Sitri was one of the few demons remaining who participated in the final assault against the dragons. Even as his comrades fell beside him, Sitri continued his slaughter of the weaker dragons until he made his way to his final opponent.
"By heaven's will, the era of demons shall end with my cry!"
That day, Belserion's roar summoned a hundred meteors to fall to the earth and wipe out the demons. Caught up in that attack, over ninety percent of Sitri's existence was destroyed in order to protect himself. Diminished and weakened, he was one of the few surviving demons to barely escape before the rest of his kind were slain by the other dragons. Belsarion alone managed to destroy most of Ars Goetia using nothing but his overwhelming magic power.
It was no exaggeration to claim that Belserion almost annihilated the demon species, but even he was slain by the Black Dragon Acnologia along with many other dragons. And yet, his name still carries weight to this day among the few survivors of the Ars Goetia.
Why can I sense his power here…?
Sitri knew of Irene Belserion, the human woman taught by the Sage Dragon during his final years. He knew that she succumbed to the effects of dragonization and how she eventually became a dragon herself. He knew that Vale was her son and also that he practiced the same Enchant magic that she did, but not her Dragon Slayer magic that she kept locked away.
Except… he thought to himself. If he is born of her flesh and blood, artificially or otherwise, then that means that he was never human to begin with. In fact, the spawn of a dragon would mean that he too should be one as well.
In fact, Sitri was only half right. Truthfully, Vale was an Etherious before anything else. Due to his lack of knowledge regarding Dragon Slayer magic, he did not understand the effects of dragonization nor did he know of the differences between the generations of dragon slayers.
At the start, the First learned from actual dragons.
Next, the Second was implanted with their cores.
In answer, the Third combined both methods into one.
Later, the Fourth created automatons with their power.
Finally, the Fifth devoured everything that came before it.
These were the categories separating the different types of dragon slayers that existed. The first three methods did not apply to Vale, but a mix of the fourth and fifth was accidentally used in his creation. Made from the flesh of a dragon, but born as a demon. From the very moment he was born, Vale had been a dragon slayer even without him realizing it. Except he was not a human that had Dragon Slayer magic, but an Etherious with Dragon Slayer magic.
Of course, his mother immediately recognized the signs and did something to stop them from developing. Using her magic, she separated his natural magic power from his body and imbued her own into his body as a replacement. With that, she destroyed his potential as a dragon slayer by making sure that he had no way of nurturing it. As a side effect, she also stole his potential to become a demon by separating his curse power along with his magic power.
However, she did not fix the root of his problems.
Inside Vale, two seeds existed—the Dragon Seed and the Demon Seed. But without a means to grow, they were unable to develop. Because of Irene's magic power filling Vale's body, they could not use it to nurture themselves since it was not actually Vale's magic. Worse yet, they could not even enter a dormant state to survive longer since they never had the chance to stockpile any energy. Had they done nothing, the two seeds would have starved to death until they disappeared. So instead, they chose the only option left available to them to ensure their survival.
They cannibalized one another until something new was created.
In a way, the two seeds fused together in a way that did not cause harm to the host. Starvation made it so that neither tried to dominate the other, making the fusion process seamless and quick. The product of this event left a new type of seed that remained dormant until there came a time when it could finally nurture itself with either magic power or curse power.
Now that Sitri had infused Vale's body with devil particles, he was now capable of producing curse power due to his nature as an Etherious. But the moment he did so, the seed immediately began to drink in as much curse power as it could. And now that he has awakened this potential within him, his body could finally gain the capability to exhibit the traits of the seed.
The draconic side, Sage Dragon Belserion.
The demonic side, Etherious Vale Endoyle.
And finally, the fact that his curse power was separate from his Enchantment magic.
To Sitri, who could feel both the presence of a demon and Belserion coming from Vale, it was like a nightmare being formed right in front of him.
From his hand, a sphere of darkness formed before a hail of bullets shot toward Vale's direction. The high-speed projectiles were infused with large amounts of magic power and were supposed to pierce through the boy upon impact. Vale would not even be able to defend himself, his body still in the middle of transforming.
At least, that was what was supposed to happen.
Sitri couldn't believe his eyes. The boy didn't do anything to block the attack, letting his body meet it directly instead. Not even he could claim to have been able to withstand that much force, let alone a mortal child of flesh and blood.
If that's not enough…
He poured every drop of magic into his next attack. Golden flames began to spread along his arm until they gathered before his palms. It was a fire made entirely out of sin, using his history as a cruel demon to power the spell. Once he launched this attack, he would be depleted of virtually all of his magic power, leaving him with nothing left to survive afterward. But in exchange, he would be able to temporarily gain the power to burn anything to its smallest components.
"Take this!" He screamed as he threw the flames toward Vale. "Flames of Rebuke!"
The trail of golden flames that followed the attack caught up to Vale in an instant.
"Enhance Type - Defense Amplification."
And yet, the boy only smiled before he brought up a hand to knock the attack aside like a common object. Upon impacting the ground, the heat caused by the explosion instantly melted its surroundings while destroying anything in its path.
Taking a step back, Sitri could only stare in disbelief.
"W-Wha… That wasn't Enchant magic. Your Curse… it's the same as…!"
The next thing he knew, the boy was right in front of him.
"You're done," he said. No, there was no way Sitri could claim that it was a boy any longer. The thing stared at him like Sitri was an interesting specimen. "Without your magic, you'll soon fade in the next few seconds. You can't even absorb the devil particles to recover anymore, can you?"
It stared at him without a hint of remorse, and Sitri couldn't help but overlap another figure on top of the child. Instead of a small boy, what he saw was a giant reptilian creature with horns and scales running along its body.
His mind broke apart as the sheer overwhelming presence of the monster before him weighed upon Sitri.
In that instant...
"No, you're not even the real Sitri are you? The real Sitri died centuries ago during the first Ragnarok." It saw the truth in his eyes and looked disappointed. "To think that my namesake was that capable, how annoying. I suppose all I can do is follow his example and finish you off the same way he did."
Suddenly, the two were elsewhere.
It wasn't teleportation, but simply high-speed movement that took them away from their previous potion to one above the sea. Waves crashed underneath their feet as Sitri felt fear at the thought of being dropped into the water without magic.
Sitri was confused at first until he followed its command. Floating in the sky were seven symbols that shone brilliantly despite being miles above them. He recognized a few of them as runes from Stellar magic, but never has he seen them used in this manner before.
"Consider this a gift for all that you have done. A final memory before I send you off to the afterlife."
The seven astronomical symbols formed a pattern as they glowed in the sky. Clouds began swirling around as the magic circle glowed with power, preluding to the full might of the spell. Thunder rumbled in the background, and the temperature dropped several degrees. Sitri's eyes widened as he recognized this magic. It was similar to the one used that day centuries ago when he fled as his comrades were slain.
No, it can't be…
"Wisdom that transcends the heavens can greatly increase one's power." The boy raised an arm. "Bear witness to the power that destroyed Ars Goetia. Display your providence, O' Wandering Stars!"
He wasn't Belserion. There was no way that dragon could still be alive. But if a demon inherited his power and used curses to follow the same path he did…
What have I created?
"Shine for all time." His hand dropped. "Seven Luminaries!"
The earth shook as several large beams of light descended from above, causing destruction as it swallowed the water below. Saltwater evaporated as chaos descended upon their location, creating a chasm in the middle of the ocean. Sitri didn't even notice the moment when the boy disappeared, his eyes locked on the final beam of light descending upon him.
"Ah, I see." He didn't move. "So this was what Zeref intended all along…"
The next instant, Sitri was engulfed in light until his body completely disappeared.
Touching down back where the battlefield was, he found that someone was waiting for him.
"The others are fine," Edo-Vale said. For some reason, he was piloting the Dorma Telum and staring at him with a suspicious look. "I had a few people I know take them back to the village to get treated. The devil particles contaminating this area make it so that nobody else can stay here without being affected."
"So since there isn't anyone else around, it should be safe for us to talk. To begin with, I have to ask who it is that I am addressing. Because it's obvious that you're not Vale."
The reason Edo-Vale said that had to do with his current appearance. Because of the devil particles from before, his body had reincarnated into that of a demon. Two curled horns poked out of his head while his hair color returned to its original shade of red. Not only that, but even his presence emitted an aura of negativity and unease, something that Edo-Vale no doubt picked up on from the moment he landed.
"I'm not," he confirmed. "At least, I am not the Vale you're familiar with. Sitri's possession has allowed me an opportunity to take control for a brief moment. You may call me Arius."
"What are you?"
"A pseudo-intelligence." Arius pressed a palm against his chest. "An enchanted personality built into this body to monitor any irregularities that occur. I am a failsafe that was created to only act in the event of an emergency. Until the replenishment of magic power and stabilization of this body are confirmed, I will maintain authority."
"And how long will that take?"
"Too long. This body has been infected with large doses of devil particles, and the nature of an Etherious means that removal will be more difficult compared to humans. As a side effect, this body has regained its ability to utilize curse power in response to the loss of magic. Even after the devil particles are removed, it seems that my host will be able to utilize both magic and curse power once recovery is complete."
Arius continued to converse with Edo-Vale, but he also paid attention to his surroundings. He could sense three presences hiding in the nearby trees, but there was no ill will coming from them, so he decided to ignore it for now. Instead, he observed the condition of the mechanical armor that Edo-Vale was wearing and came to a realization.
"You left the battlefield earlier to reclaim the Dorma Telum."
Edo-Vale nodded. "Its seeker protocols activated, and I followed it to the recovery site to restore its controls. Since I'm piloting it directly, a core is not required for now."
"I see." Arius began to laugh. "You did not seem surprised by my appearance. Were you expecting my arrival? Or rather, I should ask how much of all this have you predicted?"
Although he already suspected it, Arius was taken aback by the blunt delivery of Edo-Vale's response.
"Was the Dorma Telum ever out of your control?"
"You pitted Sitri against the members of Fairy Tail on purpose?"
"This entire situation was created to draw me out then?"
Arius was confused. "But why? What made you go through all the effort to have me appear?"
"Because I can see the future." Edo-Vale kept his guard up while facing Arius. "Or rather, I see multiple possibilities that may become our future. In one of them, I saw you awaken during a dark timeline where Fairy Tail was defeated. Ten thousand dragons assaulted the land and the war between the Alakitasian and Ishgarian dragons that occurred four hundred years ago began anew. A second Dragon King Festival that caused the invasion force of Alverez to appear one year early and conquer Fiore. In the end, you were instated as the designated ruler of Ishgar after the royal family was slain."
"Prince Arius Belserion, son of the Queen of Dragons. Otherwise known as the Dragon Prince, you are the head of the Alakitasian conservative faction of dragons that will one day appear in the future."
He blinked in surprise.
"And so, we have devised a plan to prevent that future from coming to pass. Thus, it was necessary to draw you out first so that we can stop that from happening."
Honestly, Arius had so many things he wanted to say at that moment. He had no idea what in the world Edo-Vale was talking about or why the future he saw could come to pass. Since Arius also shared his knowledge with Vale, he also knew of the storyline of Fairy Tail and how things could happen. What deviation did his actions cause to form that kind of prediction?
It took him a moment longer until the Exceed's words finally registered in his head.
Blinding light suddenly erupted underneath their feet as seven seals appeared on the ground. Caught off guard, Arius roused his magic to escape the area before the spell could be completed.
But it was too late.
A voice spoke in the treeline, and the entire region was bombarded with large pillars of light descending from the sky. The earth broke underneath him as Arius endured the attack, causing him to let out a cry of pain. If he didn't act soon, then he was going to be defeated.
"Enhance Type - Per Second Enhance!"
Despite having never used his Curse before, Arius was able to instinctively understand how to use it. Put simply, it was the power of strength enhancement. Although similar to Enchant magic, it was an incremental type of power instead of a multiplicative one. Though, unlike Enchant magic, enhancement trumped over it due to one single detail.
It had the power to increase without limits.
"So this was your plan." Arius emerged from the dust and stared at his opponents. "Setting up an ambush to take me out before I grow into a threat."
Standing before him, three people stood beside Edo-Vale with magic power emitting from them in waves.
"Give it up." Jellal took a step forward. "Our goal is not to defeat you. All we want is to seal you away. If you surrender peacefully, then we will not be forced to harm your host."
Arius did not respond. Instead, he immediately acted by charging forward to attack the nearest person.
Glowing blades flew from Meredy's direction toward him, and pain assaulted his body whenever he was unable to dodge. Still, he endured the attacks long enough to reach where Ultear stood.
Her figure faded as it was revealed to be a body double using a Thought Projection, and instead, he was met with a dozen orbs hurling at his body at extreme speeds.
Meanwhile, several beams of light shot from the armor of the Dorma Telum toward him. Arius was unable to block both the orbs and the lasers at once, causing him to gain even more injuries.
Still, his enhancement was working. Even now, he could feel his power growing in response to the danger. If he could hold out long enough until his strength overpowered theirs, then he could take them out and escape before they could catch up to him.
A figure appeared before him.
"Sorry, but we have no other choice."
Jellal pressed a palm against his chest, and Arius felt his knees give up as he fell to the ground. A large magic circle suddenly expanded around him and he felt his body heating up in response. Struggling to resist, the others did not wait around for him to escape and immediately acted.
"Ultear, do it now!"
"Meredy, give me a boost!"
"Take as much magic power as you need through our link!"
To his senses, it was as if time was slowing down to a stop. No, it wasn't just his imagination. Time really was warping as Ultear's spell began to affect him. Realization came to him as he understood what they were trying to do, and Arius looked up in alarm.
"You're sealing me in a prison of time?!"
"Only your consciousness." Edo-Vale stepped forward and revealed something in his hand. "With the core of Sitri, we'll seal your mind into this lacrima until you no longer pose a threat. I've already checked the possibilities, the future will continue to head toward its doom as long as you remain free. At the very least, you cannot appear in this world during the next five years. If you are allowed to do as you wish, the future will fall to ruin."
"That doesn't make sense!" Arius continued to struggle. "The future you're talking about cannot happen. I know the reasons why it does, and I know the steps that must be taken in order to prevent that!"
"So do we," Edo-Vale replied. "But you are unaware of something else. Even if you wish to cooperate with us, there is one thing that prevents you from ever becoming an ally."
"You are a creation of Zeref. If he orders you to obey him, you have no means of resisting."
With those final words, the area was illuminated in brilliant light as Arius felt his consciousness leaving Vale's body. As his vision dimmed, he stared hatefully at the four people before him.
"It won't work! My enhancement is still working. One day, I'll overpower this seal and free myself."
"We know. But based on our calculations, the threat will have already passed by the time you escape."
Arius could see in their eyes that they were telling the truth. His thoughts sped up as he desperately tried to think of something until an idea came to him.
There was a time when Vale once allowed someone else to possess him. When that happened, a fragment of himself had accidentally split and joined them. If he could send that fragment a copy of his memories, that fragment can eventually work to break the seal on the outside while he continues to struggle on the inside. With the two of them working together, the two versions of Arius can rejoin once more.
Using the last of his strength, he conveyed a message in his mind.
This is a memory, he transmitted. A memory of Arius Belserion about what is happening. Find me, and do whatever it takes to release the seal keeping me bound. Not only that, but beware the members of Crime Sorcière, because they are not on our side.
His captors made a mistake.
Implanted in Vale's arm was an advanced communication lacrima that allowed him to send messages far away. Normally it could only be sent to a pair that was linked to the magic tool, but it also had a function to store messages for later use. If his fragment ever came into contact with Vale, that fragment could access the message stored inside the lacrima.
His vision faded, and he knew no more.
It was like a fog inside his head had lifted all at once. Slowly, Vale peeled his eyes open to check his surroundings. For a moment, he feared what he would witness upon waking up after what Sitri did to him. But instead, he found himself in what appeared to be a wooden room that was slightly cramped.
Lifting his body, he noted the sheets moving away as he shifted in bed. Somebody had taken him here to recover, although he had no idea who or how long ago that was.
The door clicked.
"Huh, so you're awake."
It was an unfamiliar woman, but that wasn't what caught my attention. For one, she was human and not merely a transformed Exceed. Her face seemed familiar for some reason, although I had trouble recalling exactly where I saw it.
"The others have already woken up. You've been asleep ever since yesterday, probably since you've been more exposed to the particulates compared to your friends."
His thoughts grabbed onto those words, and he relaxed. So everyone else was okay, that was a relief.
"As for me, my name is Ultear. Despite my reputation, I am technically an ally of Fairy Tail."
His eyes widened in shock.
"It seems you recognize me. As I said, I'm not a danger to you or your guild anymore. I've heard about you, of course. It seems that you had a run-in with one of my former guildmates a few years ago. I'd apologize for that, but it looks like you managed to handle things well for yourself."
She was referring to when Vale went on a job with Blue Pegasus and Lamia Scale to investigate the remnants of Grimoire Heart. At the time, Vale thought that they were going after the newly assembled Crime Sorcière, but it was actually Rustyrose pretending that his guild was still active.
Vale shook his head. "Never mind, what happened to Sitri?"
"What is the last thing you remember?"
He tried to think about it. The last thing… Sitri was towering above him after stealing every drop of his magic power. Vale was helpless, and there was nothing to stop the demon from doing something to him.
"He did something to me."
"You're gonna have to brace yourself." From out of nowhere, Ultear produced a small hand mirror and held it in his direction. "So far, it only seems to be some cosmetic changes. The horns stand out a bit, but you can probably hide it under a hat or something."
Staring at his reflection, Vale couldn't help but stroke the horns protruding from the side of his head with morbid curiosity. Apparently, the devil particles had affected his body more than merely his magic. Not only that, but his gaze flickered at the fact that his hair color was different.
"Who else knows…?"
"It couldn't be helped. Everyone already saw what you look like."
His breath hitched. The devil horns aside, Vale was more worried about what Erza might be thinking after seeing his hair color. If what Sitri said before hasn't already made her suspicious of him, the fact that he shared a similar appearance to her might do so.
No, didn't Sitri say that he messed with their memories earlier?
"It's not so bad." Ultear seemed to misunderstand what he was thinking. "One of your guild members has experience with demons. In fact, she used her magic to turn the power of demons into her strength. If you ask her for help, she can probably give you tips on how to hide those features."
"Oh." He schooled his expression. "That's… Never mind."
"I'll be going. Everyone else is waiting in the main room next door if you want to meet them."
She quickly left after saying that. Testing his body, Vale realized that he was a lot more tired than he thought. Still, he had enough strength to pick himself up and slowly exit the room.
Once he did, he found himself staring at a strange sight.
"So… It seems that you've been well."
"Yes, I have."
Erza and Jellal were staring at each other from across the table. The occupants of the room were split into two sides, with the members of Fairy Tail hanging near Erza and everyone else next to Jellal. Vale recognized Edo-Vale sipping tea right beside Jellal while another person that had to be Meredy moved aside to allow Ultear to sit next to her.
His appearance drew the gaze of everyone, and Vale blinked in surprise.
"Um… What's going on here?"
"It seems that you've recovered." Erza relaxed. "These three are people that we're familiar with. They are an independent guild called Crime Sorcière that Everhart is affiliated with."
Edo-Vale nodded. "To be precise, I am one of their members. I was recruited by them a few years ago, although I was the one to reach out to them first. My curiosity with this world's version of Prince Jellal led me to seek them out, where our relationship soon developed from then on."
"I drew a few stares during my time here," Jellal confessed. "It was interesting to hear about what my Edolas version did. Speaking of which, Wendy…"
"It's fine," she interrupted. "Apparently, the Jellal that I know was someone else."
"I'm glad that we've cleared that misunderstanding. But anyway, the reason we revealed ourselves now is to make contact with Fairy Tail now that their main members have returned. Vale… Everhart has already explained a bit of what we want. To summarize, we want to request that Fairy Tail look into the Grand Magic Games this year."
Jellal began to explain exactly what they meant by that, but Vale tuned him out since it was mostly things he already knew. Instead, he paid attention to the way Erza seemed to keep a facade on while Jellal talked. Glancing at the both of them, he came to a sudden realization.
Oh right, the last time they met was when he lost his memories. And before that, the Tower of Heaven.
There was obviously some tension between them that needs to be resolved.
"However…" Vale's thoughts were interrupted. "The members of Crime Sorcière are still wanted figures that cannot be seen in public. It pains us to admit, but we'll have to take advantage of your generosity for the next few months."
"It's fine." Erza sighed. "Fairy Tail has already made plans to renovate the second headquarters into a living space. We can discuss things with our guild master, but he'll likely give you permission to move into the building."
"Then it is decided." Jellal smiled. "From now on, Crime Sorcière will move their base of operations to Magnolia. As their leader, I speak on behalf of everyone when I saw that we will be glad to work with Fairy Tail."
"I'll pack my things," Edo-Vale said. "Carla. Pantherlily. Can I request the aid of the two of you? There are some parts of the village that only Exceeds are allowed to access, and I wish to speak to the queen about certain matters before my departure."
Dumbfounded, Vale could only watch as things began to spiral out of control. Nothing about this scene made sense to him, and he could only stare at the culprit for why things were changing this much.
Edo-Vale met his eyes and smirked.
"Looks like we'll be seeing more of each other from now on."
I wanted to get back into the spirit of writing things again because it's been about a month since I've written anything (two months for this fic alone). I'm not sure if I'll put much of my focus on this story since I'm also planning to continue another story of mine. So don't expect a bunch of chapters to follow this, but maybe I'll post the occasional update whenever the mood strikes.
So yeah, I added a lot of backstory with Belserion being involved with the war against dragons and demons. All of that is made up to fit the purposes of this story, but there will be other instances where Belserion's name will pop up in future chapters.
I want to clarify that Vale is not a dragon slayer. The Dragon Seed gives him access to Belserion's power, but he supplements that with his Demon Seed to use his Curses to mimic it instead. Just wanted to mention that because I made a promise long ago that I wouldn't write an MC with Dragon Slayer magic, and this kinda toes the line a little bit.
Also, it should be fine to reveal now, but Enhancement is the Curse that Kyoka and (maybe) Bloodman uses. It's pretty much the same thing as Enchantment anyway, so I thought it was fitting.
There's still gonna be one or two chapters to cover the training period before the GMG, but it won't be long until things head in that direction.