Titania and The Hunter
Chapter 77: Their Love Carries On
Alright, here we go. Thought about this chapter for a long time…nothing else to do but dive in.
"And you're sure it's her?"
"Positive. I know."
"She might just have a similar name. In a big country in a big world, you can't be surprised that some people share a name."
"But they don't share possessions." The elderly woman said as she pulled out the magazine. The issue of Sorcerer's Weekly Magazine has been gaining a lot of attention recently.
She opened it to a centerfold of a beautiful redhead with a katana and broadsword in her arms.
Naruto's hand slammed into the trunk of the tree and dug his jutsu into the bark. It wildly exploded, releasing a mass of wind and pressure in every direction from his hand that left grooves and trenches in the tree. After his attack had finished, the whiskered man stared at the results of his tireless effort.
The same result that had happened over and over while he had been practicing this move.
"UGH!" He grumbled and moaned into his hands, "Dammit!"
Erza watched her boyfriend stress and angrily stomp around as he worked out his frustration. At her side Koyuki, Wendy, Carla, Lucy, Happy, and Natsu watched him. The blue Exceed tilted his head puzzlingly at the S-Class Mage's irritation, "What's wrong with Naruto? Why is he so angry?"
"He can't get a handle on this technique he's training with."
"It isn't working?" Lucy questioned, sparing a look towards the damaged trees and furrows all his training had caused in the area, "Because it looks like it's got plenty of attack power already."
"But it's supposed to have more." Wendy answered, "From what is illustrated in the scroll, it isn't supposed to be a wild torrent of uncontrollable lashes but a single concentrated orb that can grind and tear through everything in its path."
"And from what Naruto told me he saw when dealing with his other self in Edolas, all that power needs to be contained in a sphere that fits in his hand." Erza continued, "Otherwise it lashes out uncontrollably and won't work properly."
Natsu hummed from the floor where he was leaning back against the log the others sat on, "So just make an orb already. What's the big deal?"
"IT'S A BIG DEAL! A VERY BIG DEAL, NATSU! AND IF I COULD I WOULD HAVE ALREADY!" Some of Naruto's viewers jumped back in surprise when he angrily piped up after hearing them sneakily whisper to each other. The whiskered Mage pulled at his hair in frustration, "BUT THIS SHIT IS RIDICULOUSLY HARD! LIKE LOOKING LEFT AND RIGHT AT THE SAME TIME!"
Natsu shrugged, "Not really." The Dragon Slayer said audaciously as he inadvertently caused Naruto to fume and growl more as his anger boiled over. The pink-haired Mage held up his hand and easily created a ball of fire, "Look, done. That's pretty easy."
"It's not easy with this, Natsu!" Naruto snapped as he held up his hand, "First I have to create a rotation!" His chakra started to spin and rotate quickly in his hand to the point it was becoming visible, "Then I gotta pump up the power!" He covered it with his other hand and added a ton of power to it, causing a flux of wind around him, "Then I need to contain it in a sphere from my chakra! But doing all of that, at the same time, is crazy hard! And then-"
It burst and blew his hands away from each other, "Ah! Shit!"
"Well just make a sphere first and then add the stuff in. Wouldn't that be easier?"
"I can't just make spheres with my chakra! It's super hard!"
Natsu scoffed, "Well if it's so hard then what's the point of doing this? You told me all about this chakra stuff before but it all sounds needlessly complicated. Magic seems way more fun and easy to use. If you can't do it then just ditch it already and - GAH!" Natsu's head snapped back when a piece of earth slammed into his face, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!"
"I DIDN'T ASK YOU TO WATCH AND I DIDN'T ASK FOR YOUR OPINION!" Naruto barked with veins throbbing in his head, "GET OUT OF HERE, YOU PINK-HAIRED BASTARD!"
"SCREW YOU, WHISKER DICK!" Natsu spat fire before he rushed off the ground and jumped at Naruto, "THROW DIRT IN MY FACE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!"
"I JUST DID! IT MADE YOU A LITTLE BITCH!"
The girls watched and sighed in exhaustion as the boys started to brawl with each other. Natsu ignited with flames and tackled Naruto as the blond twisted around and slammed him into the ground. The Dragon Slayer immediately responded by kicking his foot into the blond's chin and picking himself up. They proceeded to exchange blows with each other and vent their frustrations as they did.
Carla sighed, "Well, there goes any hope of keeping this training productive. I'd like to say we got somewhere…but that'd be a lie."
"Still, I think it's impressive that Naruto-San has gotten this far with his training already." Wendy said with admiration in her voice after witnessing each step of the blond's training process for herself, "I'm sure he'll find a way to work through this sphere issue."
"Yeah! Go Onii-chan!" Koyuki cheered, "You can do it!"
Lucy chuckled weakly, "Well, I think he'd have a better time working on it if he wasn't so 'distracted'."
"HOW'D YOU LIKE THAT?!"
"WEAK SHIT MAN!"
Erza sighed and stood up from the log, "Well, it's getting close to sundown. Koyuki, it's almost bedtime."
"Koyuki-chan, you should make sure to get your rest."
"It'll help you grow big and strong."
The little Senju pouted as they encouraged her to go to bed when there were still fun things going on. Erza stepped away and made her way towards the two battling men as she cracked her knuckles.
As the sound of her blows landing against them filled the clearing, Lucy, Wendy, and Carla bid their goodbyes. Happy floated over and carried the unconscious Natsu away. Once they were alone, Naruto and Erza took Koyuki by her hands and made their way back home.
While Naruto was cleaning up the plates from dinner, Erza was putting Koyuki to sleep. The energetic little Senju still wasn't particularly tired as she sat in Erza's lap while she combed her hair, "Do I have to go to bed now?"
"Yes, you do."
"Can't I stay up a little longer?"
"No, you can't."
"I'm not a little girl anymore!"
"Oh yeah?" Erza playfully smiled as she pulled the little Senju in from her lap and started tickling her, "Because you still seem little to me!"
"A-Ahahaha!" Despite her pouting, Koyuki couldn't help but giggle under Erza's speedy hands tickling under her ribs. The little brunette struggled to resist, "O-Onee-chan! S-Stop - hehehe - stop it!"
"Alright, if you say so." Erza pulled her hands back and let her little sister catch her breath. As Koyuki came down from her laughing fit, Erza gently hugged her, "Look, you might not be as little, but you're still growing. And until you are a little bigger, you need to sleep and grow and stay healthy. Then you can stay up later like you want."
Koyuki was still pouting before she leaned back into Erza's chest and looked up at her, "And then can I stay up with you all at Fairy Hills?"
The redhead smiled warmly, "That sounds perfect." Koyuki accepted her big sister's words and hugged her arms around her, "Do you want a story before going to bed?"
"What do you want?"
Koyuki beamed with excitement, "Can you read the journal again?"
"Are you sure?"
"Heh, I'll never get what you find so fascinating about that old book." Erza said as if she hadn't pored through it a hundred times before, "Naruto?"
"Can you grab my father's journal for us?"
"Sure." A moment later he poked his head in and tossed it to the bed, "Here you go."
Erza leaned into the headboard and Koyuki scooted into her side as she started to rummage through her father's old journal, "Let's see~. Which part do you want to hear? My father facing down some traveling thugs for the first time? Meeting my mother?"
"Onee-chan, what's this?" Koyuki reached up before Erza could flip the page too fast, "Why does it look like something's missing?"
Erza looked down at her father's journal and noticed a missing portion of pages from the spine that left a small, almost imperceptible space between some pages. It was something Erza only noticed after reading the journal time and time again. Something she told Naruto after he had given it over to her. Some of the pages had been ripped out…
Pages between her mother's third trimester and her birth.
Whatever it was, Erza had never been able to glean why those pages were torn from the entries around it. If they had been on her parents' bodies when Naruto had found them, he hadn't been able to find them.
"Onee-chan?" Koyuki curiously looked up, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Erza smiled and flipped the pages over, "Alright, we'll start here." She got comfortable with Koyuki and started reading, "I got word from Mura-San that he wanted to take some maintenance on Kusanagi. I think I should ask him to teach me how to take care of it myself."
Koyuki let out a long breath, "Hehehe!" She giggled before doing it again, watching her breath show in the cold air as they made their way to the guild, "Hehe, it's getting cold."
"Hey Koyuki, watch this." Naruto, wearing the orange fox beanie they had gotten him for his birthday, let out a long, powerful breath that turned white in front of his face. As his little sister giggled, Naruto grinned, "Hey, wanna see who can make the most?"
Erza smiled amusingly as she watched them puff out white clouds of breath in front of them in some crazy competition that didn't have a real result. Even as they started to get wobbly and lightheaded she couldn't help the giggle slipping out, "Okay you two, try not to pass out or anything."
"Got it, Onee-chan~."
The trio finally made the last turn and spotted the guild in sight. They made their way over and walked through the entrance-
"Thank you so much for inviting us in."
"Well, we weren't expecting visitors to be standing outside the entrance when we arrived to open up."
"Again, I'm so sorry for troubling you."
"Do you know how long you two will be staying?"
"Not long. We just need to check something out about one of your members and we'll be on our way."
They entered and spotted an unfamiliar duo seated at the counter with Makarov and Mirajane. It was a couple made of a talkative, personable elderly woman and a grouchy, silent old man nursing his drink. Some of the other guild members were listening to the newcomers talk but everyone else seemed to be going about their business like usual.
"Oh," Makarov perked up when he spotted them at the entrance and waved them over, "Speak of the devil. Just the lady you wanted to see. Erza, Naruto, Koyuki, get over here. You have guests."
As the trio made their way over, the elderly man and woman watched them approach. The lady stood out of her chair, carefully walking over while her eyes were glued to Erza's form. As she stood in front of the young woman, her eyes started to water and she covered her mouth to silence any rogue sob that might come out. As Erza looked at her bewildered, the old man at the counter sipped his drink and asked, "Is it her?"
"Yes." The older woman nodded, "This is Master Kazuya's daughter."
Erza's eyes widened in surprise as she registered what the older woman said, "Kazuya? You knew my father?"
"I did. I did, my dear."
"You were servants for my father's family?"
"Yes, I raised Young Master Kazuya from when he was a boy. I was his caretaker and the head maid of the household." The older pair sat across from Naruto, Erza, and Koyuki as their other friends hovered around to watch the peculiar reunion, "My name is Meredith. It's a pleasure to meet you again, Erza-San. You might not remember but I met you once as a toddler when your mother and father came to visit. You were such a spirited and energetic little girl. I could tell you would grow up to be just like your parents."
"Thank you," Erza smiled warmly before she looked at the taciturn man beside her, "And you are?"
"Muramasa. I was the household forge master and engineer. I was the one who made your father's katana when he was just a boy."
"How did you find Erza?"
"We got word of a famous guild appearing in Sorcerer's Weekly that was the buzz of the town. We decided to pick up a copy for ourselves and see what all the fuss was about."
"Imagine my surprise when I see one of my greatest creations used as a prop for modeling." The old man groused as Erza coughed and looked aside with a sweaty expression, "I hope you're at least maintaining her."
"Of course I am. Kusanagi and Excalibur are my parent's precious blades." Erza held out her hands and immediately summoned her heirlooms from her Requip space. She placed them over the table for them to see, "I run a whetstone of rough and fine grades over both of them until their edges are perfect."
Muramasa quirked an eyebrow before grabbing their hilts and dragging them closer. He started to critically review the swords' blades, running his fingers over the katana's length before gently gripping the broadsword's tip. With a gruff hum, the elderly man nodded, "Rough work, but it's clear you've been doing your best. Still, any more shoddy sharpening and-"
"Mura-San," Meredith sternly spoke the old smithy's name as he went quiet and rolled his eyes, "I know you're an expert, but not everyone will have spent as long as you have perfecting the art. Please stop criticizing them." He sighed and turned his attention back to the swords as she smiled, "I'm glad to know you were the person we were looking for. However there is something I can't quite put my finger on," Meredith tilted her head, "The young girl Master Kazuya showed us had two brown eyes as a girl. But you have brown and blue."
"Oh, yes," Erza gently touched her blue eye, "This is an artificial eye given to me by the guild's physician. Due to events prior to me joining the guild, I needed it to continue work as a Mage."
"I see. That makes sense. So then, if you don't mind me asking," Meredith's expression was pinched as she looked at the redhead, "Master Kazuya and Lady Erika?"
Erza solemnly shook her head in response. Meredith let out a disparaging gasp as Muramasa hung his head and sighed. He pushed the blades back across the table to their owner and nodded, "I'm glad these passed onto you."
"They didn't. They were lost with my parents for a long time." Erza smiled as she sent the blades back into her space. She then motioned to Naruto beside her, "He was the one who found them and brought them back to me."
"Naruto Uzumaki. Nice to meet you."
Meredith and Muramasa shared a look before the older woman smiled knowingly, "Oh, so this is the young gentleman you're engaged with. Very nice to meet you, Naruto-San." She then looked down at the little brunette sitting between them, "And who might this be?"
"I'm Koyuki Senju!" The young Senju gleefully applied while waving to the elderly couple, "I'm their little sister! I live with them while my mommy is busy with work and come to the guild every day!"
"Aww, it's nice to meet you, Koyuki-chan." Meredith said with a delighted smile as she watched the little girl look up at her older siblings with questions as they smiled and spoke with her. She watched the little family with a warm, relieved smile. Happy to know that even though the poor girl had lost her parents, she had found a home and family to call her own here.
"Erza-San," Meredith spoke up, "If it's not too much trouble, can we keep speaking with you for a little longer?"
"I don't mind, but," Erza looked around, "This guild is a place of business. I'd feel bad if we kept up time and space here just to talk about my matters."
Makarov sighed, knowing that he had no problem with family matters being addressed in the guild but also knowing that Erza was too much of a stickler, "Erza!" They looked back at the short Wizard Saint as he waved them off, "You can take the day off to talk with these folks. I know you wanna hold a standard but I can see the eagerness on your face, so you go ahead."
"O-Oh." Erza blushed at being called out so easily but nodded, "Thank you, Master."
"Thank you Jii-chan!"
Erza and the others stood up before regarding the older couple, "Meredith-San, Muramasa-San, would you like to join us on a walk around town?"
"We'd be delighted!"
"I'd prefer just going back-"
"Delighted, as I said!"
"Damn. Alright fine."
"I can't believe you're already an S-Class Mage at such a young age! Your skills must be prodigious!"
"Some of it was skill," Erza humbly said, "But I believe most of my accomplishments come from a mix of perseverance, luck, and help from my friends and guild."
Muramasa spared a look at Naruto and Koyuki as they rapidly shook their heads. Koyuki mimed flexing a pair of giant muscles while Naruto violently swung his fists around like bats. The old man nodded sagely as he got the gist of what they were trying to convey.
"I read from my father's journal that he came from the Sukimina Foundation, correct? But it fell apart while my father was away, didn't it?"
"It did. Shady dealings and poor partner management were the downfall of the business." Meredith sighed, "After that the staff was let go and the old home was sold. Master Kauzya's father fell into a depression and died a few years later. Master Kazuya still reached out to all of us after we were let go and continued to make his way out in the world on his own." She smiled, "That's why later when he met Lady Erika he would bring her around to us for a visit."
"And for maintenance too." Muramasa added, "I couldn't stand the idea of someone else keeping my creation up to snuff so I made the young master bring it over now and again. I also got to toy around with that exquisite Excalibur his lady friend was walking around with."
Erza smiled hearing that her parents' blades were so exceptional and well-maintained, "Mura-San, you said that you were the forge master at my father's home, correct? Did you create other swords like this?"
"I have, but I still think the Kusanagi is my best work. It was the first time I got to test out both my blacksmith skills and my magic application techniques."
That earned a curious look from both Naruto and Erza, "I didn't know you were a Mage, Mura-San."
"Oh yes, Mura-San is especially talented and gifted as a magical blacksmith." Meredith praised the grouchy old man, "After we had to find new jobs, he helped us make quite a comfortable life by offering his services to forge and enhance equipment and armor."
"A magical blacksmith?" Naruto smirked, "Now that sounds like a pretty interesting job."
Koyuki brimmed with excitement, "You get to make all kinds of cool weapons and stuff! That sounds like so much fun, Ojii-San!"
"There's nothing fun about it, child. I work diligently and dutifully to craft my creations and finish the jobs asked of me." Muramasa responded, "The fun comes from a satisfactory job done, and my work can help those who ask me for it. So I don't much appreciate hearing that you're copying my swords and breaking them all the time, you brat!"
Naruto avoided meeting the elderly man's eyes as he frowned. He grumbled to the side, "Sorry, but I was kinda trying to survive back then, so I didn't take into account your professional integrity."
"I probably won't."
"Mura-San," Erza quickly interjected before an argument could rise between the old blacksmith and her boyfriend, "If you're the one who forged my father's blade and maintained my mother's, then were you the one that made them capable-"
"No." The old smithy quickly and resolutely denied her train of thought, "I'd be honored if I was the one that cast their nullification capabilities on them, but sadly I'm not. Kusanagi's original ability was to cut a sharper and larger distance than just what the blade was capable of in the first place. The ability to nullify other magics was something someone else added. I'm not sure who it was, but whoever they were their Enchantment was more brilliant and refined than anything I've seen before or yet."
"I see, so it wasn't you."
"The most I could do was alter it with all the magical techniques I had learned, and the most I could do was refine the Enchantment so that it would only activate for the young master, his wife, and you when you came along." He shook his head, "I've tried for years but I'm still nowhere near the level of those magics."
"Mura-San," Meredith spoke up firmly, "We aren't here for your self-disparaging. Didn't you come here to make an offer to the young lady?"
Muramasa groaned, "Dammit woman, you know nothing of building up suspense or credibility. She just heard I can't replicate the nullification and you want me to make the offer?" The young Fairies shared a look of confusion as the older couple silently bickered. Muramasa finally sighed and turned to Erza, "I was happy to see those blades again, and I'm relieved they're in the hands of someone they deserve to be with. But still, it doesn't sit right with me. Those swords are your inheritance, but you shouldn't be dealing with hand-me-downs."
"What are you saying?"
The old smithy nodded to her, "If you want, I'd be willing to create a new sword for you. One made especially for you."
Naruto and Koyuki gasped and laughed with joy as Erza was still shocked by the offer. Naruto quickly came to her side, "You're getting a new sword! Isn't that awesome?!"
"Onee-chan, congratulations!" Koyuki cheered, "I know if you get another new sword it's gonna work great with your arsenal!"
The redhead seemed flustered but quickly bowed her head, "T-Thank you, Mura-San. If you need a commission for this sword-"
"Oh nonsense," Meredith waved her offer off, "We're not going to charge you for the sword."
"Hold on, I didn't go that far! The materials and process of forging-"
"Are you saying we reach out all the way to find the daughter of the young master just to tell her we'd be willing to charge her for a sword? A sword that would complement and weave together with the heirlooms her beloved parents passed onto her despite their passing? Is that what you're saying?"
"Dammit woman, I don't know why I bothered marrying you."
Meredith smiled victoriously as Muramasa grumbled and cursed under his breath. She faced Erza and the others, "Erza-San, we're staying in the next town for a few days. Come see us in town tomorrow and Mura-San can get started on your sword. And while he's doing that we can talk more about your parents and your adventures in the guild. What do you say?"
Erza was honored by the offer and looked to Naruto and Koyuki for guidance. She shouldn't have been surprised to see looks of excitement and agreement on their faces as they nodded that she should take the offer. The redhead smiled and gently bowed to the older pair, "Yes, I'd be honored if you did that."
"Come by tomorrow," Muramasa said as he and Meredith started making their home, "We can take the necessary measurements and precautions for how you want your sword." The older blacksmith gave her a respectful nod that she returned in kind, "I hope to give you a blade that can match your skill."
"Goodbye, everyone!" Meredith waved them goodbye as they started heading towards the train, "We'll see you tomorrow!"
Erza waved to them with a smile on her face. The idea of a brand new sword forged by the man who made her father's and honed her mother's got her feeling all giddy. And being able to share more stories with the older woman about her parents and her own life left a warm feeling in her stomach.
But most importantly…maybe she could settle this uneasy feeling in her gut. And put to bed the doubts she had when those missing pages from her father's journal came to mind.
"I can't believe you offered her the sword without any payment."
"I can't believe you would want to charge her. After everything she's done and gone through, the least we can do is offer her a powerful weapon." Muramasa sighed but relented that there was a certain feeling of content in being able to give the redhead a masterpiece. Meredith smiled happily while staring up at the sky, "I knew it was her. I'm so glad I was right. It had been so long since we saw that little toddler with Young Master Kazuya and Lady Erika."
"And now she's a grown woman with a new family and a sparkling reputation as one of the strongest Mages in Fiore."
"I'm just glad to see she's taken after her parents." Meredith smiled warmly, "Having Lady Erika's passion and fierceness, while tempered by Young Master's fortitude and clarity. Knowing she's okay…" Her eyes welled up and she quickly dried them, "I'm so happy she's okay."
"Will you tell her tomorrow?" Meredith stilled while Muramasa looked at her. He sighed, "You wanted to let her know, didn't you?"
"I-I did, but now it just seems unnecessary. And cruel. A-After everything she's gone through, there's no need to even bring it up." Meredith made the excuses while sitting across from her partner. Muramasa's expression wasn't judgmental but Meredith still felt guilty as she hung her head, "I can't tell her."
"I understand…but if she ever asks…you have a responsibility to tell her. Or I can if you want."
Meredith sniffled and let out a giggle, "No offense, Mura-San, but you have the grace and social tact of…well a blacksmith's hammer."
"Then it's probably best you be the one that talks with her."
"Heh, twist my arm more why don't you?" The train dinged as they arrived at their stop. The elderly couple got out of their seats and made for the car exit, "Tomorrow when Erza-San comes over, I'll speak with her. And if she-"
The doors opened, shadows towered over the pair, and they were grabbed before they had a chance to react.
Koyuki looked away from the window while watching the landscape rush by to turn to her older sister, "You want to ask her about the missing pages?"
"That's right." Erza nodded, "I thought if anyone knew what my father wrote in those pages, it would be people that knew him."
Naruto looked apprehensive, "Still, there's a chance they might not. So temper your expectations."
"Don't worry, I'm not going to go in there expecting the world. Honestly, I'll just be happy to talk with Meredith-San some more." Her eyes sparkled like diamonds, "And I want to see what kind of sword Mura-San makes for me."
"Me too!" Koyuki grinned, "I hope it's pretty and strong! I hope it works well with all of your inventory, Onee-chan!"
Naruto was also giddy with anticipation, "Hey, you think if I show him my black blade, he can forge something similar?"
Erza giggled, "I doubt it. That thing completely nullifies magic even without pumping in magical power like my parent's blades. That thing is one of a kind made from dragon scales."
"Yeah, guess you're right. The sheath on it is the only reason I can even get it in the Requip space." The blond sighed before his enthusiasm pulsed again, "Oh, maybe it could be like a mega huge sword! Like one you have to use your giant armor to even wield!"
Koyuki laughed, "That'd be so cool!"
"I know, right!"
As she listened to the two of them keep workshopping ideas, Erza couldn't help but be glad that they had accompanied her on this trip. Having Naruto and Koyuki around always did leave her more at ease, and considering how anxious this meeting had made her all last night, that relief was needed.
The train came to a slow and steady stop as it arrived at the station. Koyuki immediately jumped out of her seat and ran for the exits with a bright smile as Naruto and Erza got up to follow her. The whiskered blond stopped for a moment and held Erza's shoulder, "Hey, are you gonna be okay?"
"What's with you? Didn't you just tell me to temper my expectations?"
"Yeah, I did," The blond man spoke softly, "But if she does tell you what the missing pages are about and it's something important, will you be okay?"
Erza stood still for a moment before closing her eyes to steel herself, "I'm not sure. I suppose I'll find out after I ask." She felt the hair on her head shift around and looked up in surprise when Naruto laid a kiss on her forehead. When he looked down at her with a smile, a faint pink dusting covered her cheeks at the idea that he found something amusing about what she said, "W-What is it?"
"Nothing. Just letting you know we're here if you need us." With a chuckle, he smiled at her childish pout and made his way out of the car, "C'mon, no reason to leave them waiting. Koyuki! Wait for us-"
"Um, I think something happened here."
Naruto and Erza quickly rushed to the exit and found Koyuki standing just outside the train car's door. And they quickly saw what the young Senju was referring to when they spotted the damages and subsequent cleaning that was going on in the town square.
They quickly made their way to see the extent of the damage. Naruto spotted someone helping out and spoke up, "Hey, excuse me! What happened here?"
"Oh, you lot tourists or something?" The tired man cracked his back and sighed, "Sorry but I don't think you're gonna get much out of the town today. Yesterday we were raided by the Armed Legion."
"Yeah, some new gang filled with people obsessed with weapons and armor to make themselves stronger. They charged into the town yesterday wrecking up the streets and stores. Kept demanding us to tell them where they could find the skilled blacksmith staying here. I didn't know what they were talking about but I hear they took some people with them when they finally decided to leave."
Naruto looked back at Erza as her brow furrowed in frustration. She clicked her teeth and scowled, "How dare they."
"I won't do it."
"I'm not giving you a choice! Do what we tell you to do! Now!"
"Yeah, tell him, Boss!"
"Get it through his thick skull!"
"You can do it, ma'am!"
Meredith and Muramasa were tied up in a small camp made by the Armed Legion after their capture last night. Once the sun had risen and morning had come, the gang members had surrounded the elderly couple with requests and demands for weapons and armor fitting his renowned status. His responses to this tense and terrifying situation were-
"I told you no!"
"Dammit, old man!" A scowling woman with white hair cursed the old blacksmith while standing over him threateningly. She gripped the hilt of the sword attached to her hip and snarled, "You are going to do what we asked of you! This isn't a negotiation!"
"I know it's not! And my answer will always be no!"
Meredith sighed beside her captured husband, "Dearie, there's no point arguing with Mura-San like this. Once he's dug his feet in on something like this, there's no convincing him."
The criminal leader started grinding her teeth in frustration. Her eyes started to twitch, "W-We're holding them hostage. Holding them hostage and they still say no. I-I can't believe-"
"Boss," Her second-in-command came to her side and whispered, "I know we were looking for this guy, but it kinda feels like we're beating our heads against a brick wall. There are bound to be other blacksmiths with magical abilities like his."
"But none of them are as good!" She snapped, forcing him to back away for safety as she gritted her teeth, "Dammit old man if you're not going to cooperate-"
The criminal leader grabbed Meredith and pulled her up before grabbing the hilt of her sword. Muramasa froze at the implication as the swordswoman barked, "I'm not going to ask you again! I want you to enhance our inventory and forge new weapons for us! And I want you to modify the suit of armor we showed you!"
"And I told you no!" Muramasa grumbled as he shook his head, "First, I won't willingly supply your gang when I know you'll just turn around and use them to hurt and rob innocent people! And second, I can't do what you ask of me!" He looked back at the wagon carrying the extraordinary armor the gang had recovered and shook his head, "That piece of armor is too powerful and remarkable for me to fiddle with it! Making the magical requirements to wield it lower would just ruin or destroy the armor completely! It's pointless!"
"Then you're gonna need to make it work, old man," The leader said threateningly while she pulled Meredith in closer and started drawing out her sword, "Otherwise…"
"Don't do it!"
"Yeah, can you stop?"
"We don't appreciate that."
Everyone in the Armed Legion looked back in shock when they found a red-haired woman, blond man, and brunette child now standing in their crowd. They jumped away from the sudden arrivals, "W-What the-"
"Who the hell are they?!"
"Ah! Erza-San! Naruto-San!" Meredith called out in relief when she saw the two Mages, 'You came!"
"Erza? And Naruto?" The criminal leader repeated before looking at the couple one more time. Her eyes widened in shock, "Oh my god."
"A-And the Hunter!"
"The S-Class Mages of Fairy Tail!"
"I saw them all over that issue of Sorcerer's Weekly!"
"They're so strong!"
"And that redhead is crazy hot!"
"The blond guy does it for me more honestly."
As Erza and Naruto blushed at the bits and pieces of compliments they were picking up from the crowd of criminals, the swordswoman couldn't help the nervous but excited smile that appeared on her face, "I-I can't believe it. They sent two of the strongest S-Class Mages in the country to find us! A-Ahaha! Boys," She announced across the crowd, "We're moving up in the world! We're famous enough to be chased by big names like this!"
"Not sure if this is something we should celebrate but fuck it I'm happy!"
"Finally! People around Fiore are going to start recognizing us! They'll start to fear and respect the Armed Legion, and they'll tremble when they hear the name of its leader! The illustrious-"
"We aren't here for a request."
"This ain't a job." Naruto pointed over to the old couple, "Those are our friends and you kidnapped them. We're here to get them back."
"Yeah!" Koyuki exclaimed, "Surrender the hostages and you'll only receive a minor butt-whopping!"
The other members of the Armed Legion looked over in fright as they saw their leader stumble on her feet and hang her head in defeat, "Oh crap! The boss received mental damage again!"
"It's okay, Boss! Push on!"
"We'll gain infamy someday soon!"
"Ugh, dammit!" She spat and straightened back up again, drawing her sword and holding it out in front of Meredith as the former servant let out a frightful gasp, "Hold them back!" She started retreating with Meredith in tow, "Put them down and grab the blacksmith!"
As the other gang members started to collect their weapons and armor, Erza sent Naruto a look, "You'll be fine here?"
"Go," He smirked while cracking his knuckles, "Catch her."
Erza rushed forward without another second wasted, weaving through the grasping hands and swinging weapons trying to stop her. The redhead emerged from the other side and chased after the swordswoman and her hostage.
Naruto grinned as he rushed into the crowd of criminals with his fists chambered at his side. He spotted the man who had been most closely working with the leader and slid in, chambering his punch before throwing it and nearly doubling the man over with his fist in his stomach.
But he was surprised when he heard a cocky chuckle come out of the thug he attacked.
"A punch like that - JUST ISN'T ENOUGH!"
A shockwave burst off his body and Naruto was forced to flip back until he was steady on his feet. The blond Fairy spotted the magnificent armor the right-hand man was wearing now revealed through the torn clothes. And after a moment he looked around and spotted similar styles of armor and weapons now worn by every member of the Armed Legion.
"Face it, S-Class, you're outmatched."
"Kid," Muramasa called out while Koyuki helped him cut his restraints, "Their armors make them resistant to hits!"
"Onii-chan, be careful!" Koyuki called out in worry.
Surrounded by a gang of 20 or 30 criminals all armed with weapons and armor to protect themselves. And his standard punches didn't seem like they were gonna break through. He could pull out his sword and cut them down? Or maybe add a little more power to his strike to see if the armor could crack?
An excited smirk stretched across his face as he was surrounded by the Armed Legion, "If my usual attacks don't work…" He held up his hand as a rotation started forming in his palm, "I guess I'm gonna have to finally make this damn jutsu work for me. And what better training than live combat?"
Erza rushed down the road and banked into the forest where she saw the criminal drag Meredith along with her. She chased after them through the trees, her visibility shot as the thicket and bushes made it impossible to see. Even so, the Fairy Queen rushed forward to try and find her friend-
Only for a sword to suddenly jute out at eye-level to cut her.
Erza barely leaned back, a few strands of her scarlet hair getting cut along the blade before she dug her feet in and slid to a stop.
"Erza-San!" Meredith cried out, "Be careful!"
Erza's eyes narrowed in focus as the leader smirked and turned her long sword in her hand. The knight quickly whipped her hand out and summoned a blade from her Requip to meet the criminal in combat. The red-haired and white-haired sword-wielders faced each other down with their blades at the ready. A steady wind rustles the trees and leaves around them.
They rushed in at each other, Erza taking the first strike as a blinding swing aimed at the criminal's chest. But the leader jumped back to avoid her, stepping in and aiming a thrust for the redhead's face. Erza slipped aside again and started rapidly swinging, forcing the criminal to retreat and step back to avoid being slashed to ribbons. The white-haired woman retaliated and stepped forward with a swing as Erza blocked-
Only for her weapon to burst into pieces the instant their blades touched.
Erza's eyes shot open in surprise as the broken pieces of her sword flew up by her face. And Meredith gasped in horror as the leader's sword turned and swiped back for Erza's head. The redhead immediately raised her armored arm to block the sword, her vambrace, and gauntlet instantly shattering to pieces as well. She had to desperately lean aside as the tip of the sword cut along her cheek.
With a small line of blood running down under her eyes, Erza narrowed her gaze at the white-haired criminal. She hefted up her sword with a smirk as a glow settled over the length of it, "This sword shatters other weapons and armor. So, Titania, got anything else to show me?"
These guys had numbers and coordination working for them. If they had been facing anyone else, they probably would have already overwhelmed them with numbers and attacks.
But Naruto was swift. He had faced greater numbers and far stronger opponents from his years in the guild. His skills and experience were already figuring out the best ways to handle the horde of armored men and women that he faced. However, the problem was not that he couldn't handle the people he was facing…
"C'mon! C'MON!" Naruto viciously barked, a small trail of blood running from the corner of his lip along with a severely bruised cheek. He raised his hand, his fingers tensing up around his palm as a powerful rotation started to form. He concentrated and concentrated to make it take form before he rushed to the closest criminal and attacked, "RASENGAN!"
Again his jutsu slammed into the breastplate of the Armed Legion, the grating sound of rapidly spinning chakra crashing against sturdy metal nearly deafening everyone that could hear it. Yet again the jutsu could not take form, the chakra exploding in tendrils and waves to only minimal damage to the armor.
"Oh fuck me - UGH!"
Again, another armored fist dug into his cheek and knocked Naruto back a few feet. The whiskered blond hissed and spat out a drop of blood as the rest of the Armed Legion heckled and laughed at him.
Muramasa growled from his and Koyuki's hiding spot, "Okay, I don't know what you are doing, but it isn't working! I don't want to tell you how to fight but this might be the point where you need to try! Something! DIFFERENT!"
"He's right!" Naruto's head sunk deeper as even Koyuki agreed with the old smithy, "Onii-chan, I know you wanna make this technique work as best you can, but this is a serious situation and we need you to take it seriously!"
"If this is all an S-Class has to offer, I think the boss will be glad to know we can handle them no problem!"
"You got that right!"
"We'll have control of Fiore by the end of the month!"
Naruto gritted his teeth and grumbled in frustration. Not because of the armored thugs that surrounded him. Not because of the pain in his cheek from the repeated hits. Not even because of the danger this situation might pose.
But because he still hadn't figured out this fucking jutsu!
This was his thing! Whenever he was pressed into the corner or pushed to the wall, he figured out how to overcome the situation! He thought if he did that now he could finally make a breakthrough in solidifying the Rasengan and completing the technique! But instead - like usual - THE DAMN THING WOULDN'T STAY CONTAINED!
He would admit he wasn't the smartest guy in the guild. Hell, he might have been one of the dumbest - which was a very low bar for his guildmates - but he refused to believe this was that hard of a technique to figure out! Was the three-year expectancy for completing this jutsu just based on making a goddamn sphere in his hand?!
He could just see his other self laughing condescendingly at him and mocking his failure! Along with Laxus and Jellal who were just so much better and so much more competent! And Erza would say she wasn't mad at him for failing, just disappointed! And even Natsu was haunting his thoughts, picking his nose and telling him how much easier it was just to wield magic!
Yeah, he knew that! In the first few months of learning magic, he could already-
"Oh," Naruto groaned and palmed his face as he muffled his moaning, "Dammit. Goddamn - shit - dammit. J-Just dammit all!"
"Dammit, kid, keep your head!"
"Alright, enough of this." The right-hand man stepped up, rotating his shoulder as the pieces of his armor clicked together with each move, "We should settle this already and get on with it! We still need to alter that super armor we found!" He rushed into the distracted blond's side, "This is the-"
Naruto's hand effortlessly whipped up and caught the punch before it had any chance of touching him. Everyone stared at the sudden catch with shocked blank faces. The right-hand man looked bewildered for a moment before trying to yank his fist out of Naruto's grip. After a moment of failed attempts, he growled and yanked, "H-Hey, let go! W-Why can't I get out?! How-"
"I was just trying to learn the damn jutsu." They went quiet as they heard Naruto mumble to himself, "I mean it's important to me. It's part of my legacy. My dad made the damn thing after all. And can't you just imagine my other self pointing and laughing at me for failing to learn the jutsu he perfected?"
"Y-Your other self?" The right-hand man tilted his head, "I-I feel like there's some context here I might be missing-"
"But now I've got an idea! An idea to get around the wall I'm hitting!" Naruto grits his teeth in frustration, "But I just know it's gonna be considered cheating! And not the real way to do it! But I can't just wait years to figure this out! So until I can do that jutsu properly…"
His other hand whipped down at his side, "I JUST GOTTA MAKE DUE!"
His rotation and power started to form in his palm. And after they did, the magical glow of his Armor started appearing over his arm. His magic shifted up his arm and formed an orb over his hand that contained the spiraling chakra inside it.
Naruto stomped his foot down, twisted his body, and slammed the ball of magic and chakra into the criminal's breastplate, "ARMORED-"
The thug gasped in pain as he felt the ball of hardened, concentrated magic dent and break through his armor. And when the ball of magic started to open up-
The wildly spinning chakra burst out of its magical confines and swallowed up the armored thug for a moment. Everyone could only watch in shock before the jutsu burst open and sent the right-hand man flying into the crowd of his subordinates. His flying unconscious form blasted through the crowd and knocked out more than half of the Armed Legion before he finally came to a stop.
Everyone stared at the path of destruction in utter disbelief. And their gazes slowly turned back to the whiskered blond that caused all the mayhem.
With a sigh of relief Naruto lowered his hand and stared at his palm, "Okay, I guess that works for now. Someday I'll get it right but this can do me. Although…I guess if I want to make sure…"
Naruto created another orb of magic and chakra in his hand that caused the surrounding criminals to pale and cry in fear. The blond only smirked in response, "I should practice some more, right?"
Erza kept on her toes and jumped back, another broken hilt in her hand and the crumbled pieces of her sword littering the grass by her feet. More pieces of her armor had been slashed and burst open. She was left in just her black undershirt and with a shoulder pauldron left on her left arm. The cut on her cheek had since stopped bleeding, but with her opponent's weapon able to shatter weapons and armor on contact, the S-Class redhead didn't have many other moves to pull in this confrontation.
"Hehehe. Ahahahaha!" The leader cackled victoriously as she looked down at the Fairy Queen forced on the back foot during their battle. She reveled at the sight of the pieces of broken metal that littered the ground, "I guess even the great Titania isn't enough to handle the leader of the Armed Legion! Soon my name will spread far and wide as the vanquisher of Fairies! The great-"
"Erza-San, please just run!" Meredith interrupted, a desperate look on her face as she pleaded to the fighting redhead, "Don't risk your life for me!"
"H-Hey, don't interrupt my speech again!"
Erza looked down at the broken weapon in her hand before sparing a look at the sword in her opponent's grasp. It seemed like using weapons was just going to be a waste of resources at this rate. They'd just keep shattering against the mystic blade. Perhaps she could blindside her opponent with a speedy armor? Or overwhelm her with an onslaught of swords sent in her direction?
Then again, the simplest choice might be the most effective.
Erza summoned another blade from her Requip space, "Prepare yourself!" She stood up and took a stance with her sword, "I'll end this with the next move! A move I learned from my parent!"
"Oho," The Armed Legion leader smirked and took her stance as well, "If you want to keep throwing your swords against me, I'll be more than happy to answer you!"
Meredith watched with bated breath as the two swordswomen stood across from each other with their bodies tensed. A move she learned from her parent? Was it some kind of sword technique passed down to her from Young Master Kazuya? How was it going to help against a weapon that destroyed other weapons?
The two women rushed at each other and swung their swords. Erza's blade clashed with the leader's and again shattered to pieces. The white-haired criminal smirked and knew she had won-
Only to look over in time to see Erza slip in by her flank with a glowing fist chambered at her side.
Meredith bonked herself on the head. Of course! The other parent.
Erza buried her Armor fist into the woman's cheek and sent her flying into a tree. The trunk of the tree exploded with her impact and toppled over along with the sword that was cracked under the weight of her punch and the tree. As the dust started to settle the Armed Legion leader was laid out across the ground unconscious.
Erza rubbed her wrist, "Well, honestly, that feels more like a move my boyfriend would do, but he got the idea from my mother so it still counts."
Meredith blinked in surprise as the result of the fight still ran through her mind. Once the reality of their victory was clear, she smiled and sat up in relief, "I didn't know you learned your mother's magic."
"I read that journal more times than I can count. Father's recounting of the Armor magic Mother used was simple to follow." Erza responded with a small smile as she walked over and cut Meredith's restraints, "I even learned his Copy magic too, but I can't use it as well as Naruto does. I prefer durable blades in a fight, and he's built a fighting style around expendable weapons to open up combat. But still, I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to learn their magic."
A warm and grateful smile appeared on Meredith's face. And yet for a moment, Erza spotted something else mixed in her features that was quickly hidden. It seemed like…reluctance.
Erza pushed the observation aside and picked up the rope to bind the Armed Legion leader before she woke up.
Muramasa whistled as he inspected the black blade Naruto had given him. The expert craftsman gave it a once over and nodded, "This might be one of the finest swords I've ever seen forged."
"So do you think-"
"There's no way I'll be able to copy it."
"Told you, Onii-chan."
Muramasa handed the blade back to Naruto, "Not only is it made of some material I've never seen, but it used some strange type of forging method along the way." The old smithy took his spot next to Koyuki on some supply boxes the Armed Legion had carried with them while on the run, "Something ancient and peculiar. Maybe a specific kind of magic style, or Lost Magic, or even alchemy."
"Story goes that it was forged from a dragon scale, used lava from a volcano, and several blacksmiths died in the process."
"Then yeah, I can't do it."
Koyuki sighed and got up from her seat, "See, I told you it was too much to ask." The little Senju walked to the back of the wagon and tilted her head curiously. Taking a page out of her older brother's book, she didn't hesitate to stick her head inside and take a gander at what was in there, "Whoa!" The two men looked over as the young girl pulled her head out with a wide smile, "I found something super cool!"
"Oh right, that thing." Muramasa picked himself up and made his way over to the back of the wagon, "That's the whole reason they kidnapped me in the first place. They wanted me to modify that armor so it could be more easily used by them. I wasn't about to deface a glorious piece of work like that."
Naruto followed behind and pulled the flap back to look inside. He got a look at it and whistled, "Uh, Erza's more of an armored person than I am, but that thing is pretty awesome, right?"
"Yes, it is."
"Does it have a name?"
"The Nakagami armor."
"Hmm…" Naruto hummed before smirking, "A new sword and a new set of armor? Oh, I bet that would make this quite a trip~."
"Thank you so much for coming for us!"
Erza smiled and tried to ease the older woman bowing her head so deeply, "It's no trouble, Meredith-San. Of course, we were going to come and help you both. I'm just glad we got here before you two were hurt." The Fairy Mage easily hefted the unconscious criminal over her shoulder and nodded in the direction they came from, "Let's go. We should go meet with the others."
Meredith sighed in relief as they made their way through the forest and back to their loved ones. The former servant clapped her hands and smiled, "Well, now that this whole matter has been settled, we can finally head back to the town and relax. I'm sure Mura-San has been coming up with forging methods to make your new sword. After getting barked at by all these young hooligans I'll bet he'll be looking forward to making a weapon he'll be proud of. And while he's doing that we can have some dessert and go around the-"
"Meredith-San," The older woman paused as Erza's voice spoke quietly but with firmness, "There's a portion of my father's journal that is missing. Several pages. Pages that I think go through the range of my birth. Do you know what that is about?"
Erza immediately noticed the tense look on the older woman's face when she made that inquiry. The greying woman looked aside, casting her gaze away from the redhead to avoid her eyes. As the older woman seemed to wrestle with what to say, if anything at all, Erza spoke up, "Meredith-San, if you know something please tell me."
"I-I…" She stammered, "I don't know if that will be for the best. If I told you - if you knew…t-then-"
"Please," She looked up and saw Erza's complicated expression, "Even if it's something that would hurt…I have to know."
"Young Master Kazuya and Lady Erika told us they were going to stop by a small town as they waited for the arrival day to approach. We waited with bated breath for news for days. Then we got word and…" Meredith paused, covering her mouth to stifle a quiet sob as she turned away, "Your parents…t-they…I-I can't-"
"They're not my parents, are they? At least…I'm not their biological daughter."
Meredith turned and looked at Erza in shock as the young redhead looked at her with a reserved measured silence. She looked at Erza in disbelief, "Y-You knew?"
"No…but I always felt like there was something off that I couldn't explain. Something I couldn't figure out. Then one day when I was looking at a picture I found of them with me as a baby…I couldn't help but notice…" Erza touched her face, "The older I got…the more I didn't look like either of them."
"It was a tragedy. A tragedy that just happens sometimes. One no one could do anything about." Meredith sobbed as she dried her eyes, "There were complications in the birth, a-and the baby they had been waiting for…she never came." She caught her breath and looked up at Erza with watery eyes, "We tried to reach out to them. Speak with them. But for weeks they went missing. We didn't know what happened to them. No one did. We thought the worst. And there was nothing we could do."
"But then one day they came back. They finally answered our letters and told us there wasn't anything to worry about. When we saw them again…" Erza swallowed the lump in her throat, "They had a baby in their arms. A beautiful little girl with wonderful red hair. So bright and happy, already giggling and crying like a healthy baby should. And her name…was the name they had wanted to give the daughter they never got to meet."
"Where…where did I come from?"
"They never told us. All we could glean from our conversation with them was that you had been left behind, and they picked you up to take you in. I-I think that secret disappeared with them. And wherever those missing pages are I don't know either." Meredith rubbed her eyes, now puffy and red as she looked at Erza, "I didn't want to tell you this. I was scared that if you learned the truth about this, then you might think badly of them. That your thoughts of them might turn knowing they weren't your original parents. All I know is that after they took you in…I had never seen a family so happy and content. They loved you as much as any parent could love their child. Erza-San…please never question that."
Erza stood silently, still contemplating everything she had been told. The thoughts and feelings she had about her parents were being put into question by the idea that they were never originally her parents. Erza closed her eyes…
And turned to make her way back to the camp.
Meredith sniffled and dried her face as she worriedly followed after the S-Class Mage.
When they all reunited, they carried the unconscious Armed Legion back into town and handed them over to the authorities. After that, they relaxed and got some food to ease the tension of the evening. Erza had been surprised to find not only was Muramasa still offering to create a blade for her, but that they had found a remarkable armor that she could take if she felt so inclined.
One look at the thing and she knew she found a match.
She spoke with the old blacksmith and they came to a consensus about what the new sword would entail. And so he started to hammer and work away on it until it was finished.
Meanwhile, the moment they reunited, Naruto and Koyuki could tell something had happened to Erza. If not simply because they knew the redhead so intimately that they could tell something was wrong then by the fact that Meredith's eyes were still quite puffy when they returned.
Erza had told them that she just needed some time to get her thoughts in order. And then when she was ready she would tell them.
It only took a day for her to get around to it. While Muramasa was working at the forge and Meredith was preparing dinner for the night, Erza sat with Naruto and Koyuki and told them what she had learned.
They looked stunned by the information Erza had dropped on them. Naruto's eyes were wide in shock, trying to find something to say but unable to form any words at the moment.
Erza noticed his struggle, "It's okay."
"I-I just don't know what to say." Naruto shook his head, "I had no idea. And you expected it?"
"I didn't expect it. I just…had a feeling something was wrong." Erza tightly hugged Koyuki in her lap, resting her chin in the younger girl's hair as she squeezed Erza's arms in return, "Those pages that were ripped out had to be about something important. And I kept wracking my brain trying to figure out what they were about. I started coming up with ideas of what it could be, and this was one of them."
Naruto looked at his girlfriend sadly. He remembered back in their days in the Tower of Heaven, the only thing she wanted to do was find her parents and understand where she came from. Seeing her have a goal and dream, even in that terrible and desolate place put some hope in their hearts that someday they might find a way out.
When Naruto finally found the bodies of her parents and discovered their identities, he dreaded the idea of telling her the truth. And when he saw the heartbreak on her face when she learned of her parent's fate, he had to console her as one of her dearest dreams crumbled away before she ever had a chance to follow it.
But to now find out the parents she had longed for her whole life weren't her biological set…must have left her reeling. He could understand why she had wanted a day to try and sort through everything she had experienced. Naruto hesitated, not sure how to bring up-
"Onee-chan," Koyuki leaned back into Erza's body and looked up at her older sister, "Are you okay?" The little Senju asked sincerely while looking saddened by the story they had just been told, "Hearing about your mommy and daddy like this probably makes you sad, right?"
Erza looked between her two loved ones with a quiet, pensive expression. But it slowly morphed into a warm, fond smile as she patted Koyuki on the head, "Actually, Koyuki, after thinking about it for a while, I realized…it doesn't matter."
Naruto's eyes widened as Koyuki innocently tilted her head, "It doesn't?"
"Nope. Not at all." The armored Mage shook her head, "You see when I was your age all I wanted was to find my parents. To discover where I came from and who I was. It was the only thing I focused on for years. And when I arrived at Fairy Tail, I wanted to keep aspiring to find them. But when Naruto brought me the journal and told me what happened to them, I was sad. I would never get to find them and meet them. I thought all I would have of them was that journal and their story. But the older I got…the more I realized it wasn't just the journal. Or the blades they left behind. It was…so much more than that."
"They showed me what it was like to feel loved. To feel protected. To feel wanted and adored. They might not have been my blood parents, but looking back I couldn't imagine what else could be expected from your family than what they gave me." Erza smiled warmly, "They're the ones that gave me a name and took me in. That loved me unconditionally. When I thought I was passing from the world, they were the ones that appeared before me. Embraced me and told me I still had a long life of living and loving to look forward to before I could move on. That they wanted children and grandchildren to meet one day."
"And that love they gave me was as genuine as possible. And I know that because I feel it even to this day." Erza leaned back, closing her eyes contently and letting the wind start to pick up and billow her hair, "Master is like a father to me now, guiding me and giving me a home. Mahiro is like a mother to me too, watching over me and helping me when I'm lost or confused. I have a whole guild of people I can trust. I have a best friend who I can love." She poked the cheeks of the girl in her lap to make her giggle, "And I have a little sister I get to see every day."
"I don't know where I came from…but I know where I am now. And the people who helped me get there. All of them. My mother and father were the parents who set me on this path…and I love them every day for it."
Koyuki smiled brightly and Naruto felt a warm lightness in his chest watching the woman he loved smile with such certainty. The unease and worry that had settled in his chest had steadily evaporated as he listened to her assure them that her feelings never wavered.
The loud sound of sniffling drew their attention to the door to find Meredith coming outside to find them, snot threatening to come out of her nose as happy tears welled up in her eyes. The older woman kept as much composure as she could before smiling, "M-Mura-San is at a critical part of the forging process and would like you to be present."
The trio made their way in, immediately noting the intense heat of the room as the forge blazed. Muramasa had a bandana wrapped around his head to soak up the sweat coming from his forehead. He beckoned Erza over and pointed down to the blazing hot metal sitting between a batch of coals, "I'm going to quench the blade in a moment, so there's a process to this that I would like your help in. I learned that a few drops of blood can integrate with the metal during the process and can give it a boost in power if the person is strong enough. If you ain't squeamish, a few drops could go a long way."
Erza showed no hesitation as she took a sterilized knife and poked her finger until it started to draw blood. She felt a tap on her shoulder and found Naruto and Koyuki eager to join in the process. Erza smiled and nodded, all three of them poking their fingers to draw blood before they started applying pressure to their fingers and letting the drops of blood fizzle atop the blazing hot steel.
Hours of more work took place. Koyuki started nodding off while Naruto stayed up with Erza to watch the blade refining process take place. However, the time came when the process was finished and the sword was ready.
A beautiful katana with a wave finish, straight edge, and a pinkish red hue to the steel from the mix of blood Muramasa had added.
Erza stepped out into the windy outdoors and held her new blade in its sheath. As the cold front rushed over them, Muramasa called out, "That blade has an extremely high upper limit for magic. The more you channel into it, the stronger its cutting and destructive force. It should become your greatest offensive weapon."
Erza stood outside and let the powerful wind rush over her. She gripped the handle of her katana, pushing her magic into it to become stronger and fiercer. With a single calm exhale-
She slashed upward before sheathing her sword again.
Everyone stared at the redhead in shock before they felt the wind start to slowly subside. A calm serenity filled the cold air as Erza slowly turned to face them with a joyous smile. They cheered and clapped seeing the wonderful new creation in the hands of someone who could wield it properly.
"Thank you," Erza bowed her head deeply, "All of you. For everything."
Erza exchanged information with Meredith-San and Mura-San so that they could keep communicating in the future. Mura-San immediately smacked my hands when I reached out to touch Erza's new sword and told me I wasn't allowed to make a copy of it. I wasn't even gonna try!
I might do it now but it'll probably take some time to convince Erza to let me.
I was surprised to learn that Erza's parents weren't the ones that gave birth to her. But I'm happy to know she still loves them and considers them the parents she always knew.
It also helped me put into perspective some of the things that have been on my mind recently.
Since I finally found out who my parents were, trying to figure out the kind of people they may have been has lingered in my mind. How they thought of me. What could have happened to them? Why Kurama was sealed inside my body? These were all questions I had no answers to, and trying to figure out if these things were done out of love or malice kept pricking me in the brain. After all, Lily said that families differ from person to person.
But Erza reminded me that sometimes even though we don't know where we might begin, that doesn't deter us from what we have around us now. I'm surrounded by my friends and loved ones. I have a life I can be thankful for and proud of. According to my other self, my parents were kind, loving, and remarkable people that anyone would strive to be like.
I won't keep dwelling on that which I might never know. Instead, I'll be thankful for everything I have around me, and make sure to always live the best life I can for all of them.
Naruto smiled and closed his journal. After reading Kazuya's journal for so many years, Naruto had been inspired to jot down all the important things and days he spent in his life for anyone who might find it. A journal of his days with Fairy Tail, his friends, his family, and the woman he loved.
His eyes widened before he opened the journal and continued on the same page.
P.S. I figured out how to work with that jutsu and I'm better than Namikaze is at doing it now! I kick ass!
He closed his journal and created a Rasengan with his Armor surrounding it to keep it sealed in. A triumphant chortle echoed in his living room-
"Naruto," Erza called out, "I told you not to laugh like a manic and use your jutsu in the house! Stop it now!"
########Omake: On The Outside 4########
The young rookie caught her breath as she tightly gripped the handle of Archenemy. Her arms were heavy and her breathing was shallow from the hours she had spent training. Even so, she was not ready to stop for anything.
The memories of her brother being snatched from their village as she hid in the shadows continued to live fresh in her mind and motivated her to do more. Become stronger. Become fiercer. Until she was strong enough to reclaim that which had been taken from her.
With a deep breath, she prepared to-
Her eyes narrowed when she heard something at her flank and immediately rushed in. A shadow appeared from behind the tree and before it had a chance to move, she shoved her blade and sheath up by their neck and knocked them off their feet. She slammed them into the ground before turning to strike again-
"Kagura, hold on!"
The black-haired girl stopped moments before reaching for her sword and looked up at her senior Mermaid Heel member, "Alaña? What are you doing here?"
"Well, I was showing our guests around. Before you came in and knocked them around."
Kagura blinked and then looked around at the people she had laid out along the ground. A blond boy and an oddly square man along with a girl who looked like she dressed like a cat, "Owie, that hurt."
"Oh, my apologies." Kagura quickly bowed her head, "I was training and thought you were intruding." She looked to Alaña, "So who are these people? And why-"
The young swordswoman looked over at the last person standing from the new group. And when she saw his eyes peeking out from the wrappings and headgear he wore, her heart nearly jumped out of her chest. The last time she had seen those eyes was when they told her to hide while he led the raiders in a different direction. Someone she never thought she'd see again.
Kagura dropped her sword and rushed into the hug her brother.
Milliana and the others were awed at the sweet reunion and groaned in unison as they still reeled from the pain of their beating.
########Omake 2: Longing For Reunion########
The days were getting longer.
It felt so torturous and unfair to wait day in and day out in a world that never changed. One he couldn't touch or interact with unless he was prepared for the dire consequences that followed.
He just wanted it to stop. He wanted it to end.
Someday…someday it all had to stop.
Amidst a field of dead grass and trees, the young man buried his head in his knees and sobbed…
"Natsu…please…just end me…"
Okay, so in defense of myself and the me that wrote this all those years ago…I had no idea Erza's parents were going to play such a major role in the story proper.
Like, who would've guessed that not only would these anime parents show up but that they'd be important?! Like, okay, it'd be one thing if they were both dipshit scumbags like her biological dad! If they were both like him then I could write them out and happily replace them with Kazuya and Erika. But unfortunately the truth is that there's a very important character that would be lost to the world if I did that. And I can't do that without losing a lot of juicy story to explore.
So I came up with this. I know it can be considered a retcon, but I see those things in two different ways; one that can contextualizes earlier story beats with more information, or a straight middle finger that says 'it's this way now, get used to it!' I'm very much hoping this came across the former and not the latter. I mean I looked back and I don't think I was spitting in the face of anything I wrote before…but hey, I'm just writing this. You're the people taking your time to read it. Please tell me what you think.
Anyway, nothing more I can do about that! Let's move on to another favorite arc after this! See you guys soon!
Thank You and Bye