This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
In the Kingdom of Fiore holds many powerful mage families. There is the royal Fiore family, of course, then there are the nobles: very high class, rich, and proper families. There were then the families of knights, respected by everyone for their valiant duties, living close by the kingdom’s castle. Finally, there were the villagers that resided near the outskirts of the kingdom where they sold goods to the townspeople and lead an average life. Magic ran throughout the kingdom, powerful mages banded together to form guilds or travelled together. Lastly, there were the paupers or nomads of the kingdom; they were truly treated like the scum of the establishment. They were the lowest of the hierarchy of the kingdom, the higher families ranked in status, the better the life they lead. There wasn’t much a person could do about the type of family they were born into, they just had to survive. The kingdom of Fiore was where a new adventure began and it all started with the noble Heartfilia family, namely focused on their daughter, Lucy Heartfilia.
Lucy was practically gasping for breath as Spetto tightened her corset. The unbearably tight dress that splayed out in a large circle around her drove Lucy made.
“Geez, Mrs. Spetto, I can’t breathe!” Lucy exclaimed and the old, purple haired woman smiled at her apologetically.
“I’m sorry Miss Lucy.” She apologized and loosened the ties slightly. “I must be forgetting my own strength!” The frailer woman joked and Lucy couldn’t help but smile in return.
“It’s okay, I was just fearing that I might not be able to speak at my father’s meeting today.” Lucy’s face turned from cheery to grim. Her father had summoned her to his study the previous night to inform her that she needed to attend a meeting early the next day.
“Now, don’t have such a sad look! A pretty girl like you must always keep her composure.” Spetto advised her and Lucy’s gaze softened.
“If you say so, Mrs. Spetto.” Lucy agreed half heartedly and tested out the new tightness of her dress. “Much better. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Now, remember, you have a lesson with Bero later today after your father’s meeting, don’t forget your keys.” Spetto smiled, her eyes crinkling at the edges as she reminded Lucy.
“I wouldn’t dream of forgetting them.” Lucy smiled and fastened her key belt under the frilly cloth of one of the many colorful dresses her father made her wear. She was supposed to be elegant and poised to represent the Heartfilia Konzern but, it just made Lucy rue the outfits even more.
“Alright, let’s get going, you need to be in your father’s office in five minutes!” Mrs. Spetto worried and Lucy laughed.
“I’m coming, I’m coming…”
Lucy eventually made it to the office that had Jude scribed in gold lettering on the door with Mrs. Spetto scurrying behind her, and giving her one more look over before heading back off to the maid’s corridors. Lucy tentatively knocked, feeling a wave of uneasiness wash over her; she could hear other voices inside the room other than her father’s.
“Father?” Lucy called out softly, her curled hair annoyingly brushing against her face.
“Come in.” Was the only answer and Lucy obediently turned the knob and pushed her way inside the room. Standing at her father’s desk were multiple young men that looked around eighteen, her age.
“W-what can I do for you, Father? What is this meeting?” Lucy asked though she was afraid that she knew the answer.
“Well, Lucy, these are the sons of a few of my business partners. Sons of nobles.” Jude warned discretely and Lucy could feel the anger bubbling in her stomach. “Possible suitors for you.”
“And why wasn’t I informed about this until now?” Lucy challenged, paying no attention to make her anger unknown.
“There would be no point.” Jude dismissed her, his eyes glaring dangerously at her. “Gentlemen, would you please excuse us for a moment?” He gestured to the door and the filed out of the tense room. Lucy was left facing her father’s cold stare, her chest was feeling constricted once more under the weight of the dress.
“Lucy, you are to pick one before the end of the week. You are getting too old for this childish nonsense!” Jude ordered and Lucy flinched at his words.
“Father, I have no desire to marry any of them, I don’t even know them!” Lucy protested, angry tears spiking at the corners of her eyes.
“Lucy!” Just growled. “I told you I don’t want to hear any excuses! The Heartfilia fortune needs to be in safe hands and it isn’t in just yours!”
“Mother wouldn’t have made me do this!” Lucy spat, knowing that her father would be stricken by her words.
“You dare bring up your mother? She isn’t here so you must listen to me!” Jude bellowed and Lucy was hot under his demanding gaze.
“I am tired of this, Father. I do not want to marry any of these men and you can’t force me to do so!” Lucy’s eyes were becoming blurry but she managed to keep her composure. “How can you really do this to me? You’ve already kept me locked away like some animal! I’m not allowed to attend school or make any friends! You expect me to just pick a stranger to marry for the rest of my life, how is any of this fair to me?” Lucy questioned.
“It doesn’t need to be fair, we need financial security and it is your duty to uphold that!” Jude roared from his large, leather chair.
“Well, forget it. I will not do that. All you care about is your money and power, that’s all you want! You don’t care about me!” Lucy shouted back and her father’s gaze turned into pure ferocity.
“Are you defying my word?” Jude’s voice was dangerously quite making Lucy swallow hard.
“If that’s what you want to call me standing up for my rights then, yes, I am.”
“We are not done discussing this.” Jude snarled and Lucy turned, rushing at the door. “You can’t run away from this, Lucy! Be ready to be wed by the end of the week!” Lucy’s tears were now streaming full force down her reddened cheeks. She ignored the boys that had obviously heard their conversation and ran all the way back to her room past a concerned Ribon who was leaving the library for some breakfast.
“Miss Lucy, my, are you alright?” Ribon questioned her and Lucy continued on down the hall.
“Fine, Ribon.” Lucy curtly answered the short man though, feeling bad about being rudeness of her sentence.
“Wait!” Ribon called and scurried along side her. “Is it your Father?” He asked quietly and Lucy kept her face grim in response.
“I’ll be in my room, okay? But not for long. C-can you gather Mrs. Spetto, Bero, Aed, and yourself and meet me in my room in ten minutes?” Lucy pleaded with him with her eyes and Ribon swallowed thickly, nodding. The staff at the Heartfilia Mansion had been more of a family than her father had ever been. It had only gotten worse since her mother passed and Lucy often found herself in a state of turmoil. She longed for the outside world, the last time she had been into town had been years ago, and she had no friends her age. Mrs. Spetto had always talked about the guild, Fairy Tail, in the town of Magnolia. Lucy was a mage, a Celestial Spirit mage, just as her mother, and she figured she could join a wizarding guild or at least travel with other mages. She decided she would focus on just making a better life for herself and if that meant leaving her family’s home then, so be it.
Lucy was quickly shoving her belongings into a few bags when she heard a small knock on her door with a soft, “Miss Lucy?” following it. Opening the door, she was met with Mrs. Spetto, her loving maid, Bero, her teacher, Aed, the amazing cook of the mansion, and Ribon, the librarian who always supplied Lucy with the best literature. She was going to miss them so much.
“Thank you all for coming.” Lucy praised them, she had so much love for every one of them, it just broke her heart to leave.
“Is something happening, Miss Lucy?” Spetto questioned in a small, worried voice. The others mirrored her concern and looked at her with such kind eyes that Lucy almost burst into tears right then.
“Y-yes… Father has decided he wants wants me to choose… A husband by the end of the week… I just, maybe I’m being childish but, I just can’t take it anymore!” Lucy cried out, her emotions finally spilling out. “I-I’m going to be leaving b-but I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to all of you…”
“Oh, Lucy…” Bero murmured sadly, his old eyes shining with grief.
“Oh, heavens!” Mrs. Spetto let out a quiet sob and Bero put a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m so sorry to do this. Believe me, I don’t want to but, I need to make a life for myself. I can’t be trapped by my father any longer.”
“We, unfortunately, figured this day would come but we didn’t think so soon…” Ribon admitted sadly.
“Ah, who will I make rice balls with happy faces on them for now?” Aed said, smiling sadly at her.
“Please, forgive me… I will write to you all when I can.” Lucy promised, tears rolling down her cheeks again. “Whatever you do, do not let my father known that you know about my leaving.” Lucy begged. “I just needed to say goodbye.” The four people in front of her, her family, nodded sorrowfully.
“Miss Lucy?” Mrs. Spetto spoke up softly, wiping away tears that had soaked her eyes. “Please, take this with you.” She scurried over to the corner of Lucy’s room and swung open a painting revealing a safe that Lucy never knew about.
“What is that?” Lucy gasped.
“Forgive me, your father didn’t want you to know about this but, these are mementos from your mother. I want you to take her journal,” Spetto handed her a worn, leather bound notebook with Layla written across the front. “Also, please take the pendant Lady Layla wore, I’m sure she’d want you to have it.” She also handed Lucy a necklace with a small, blue, oval jewel hanging from it. It sparkled in the way of the night sky with specks that caught the light looking like stars. Lucy quickly fastened it around her neck and smiled and Mrs. Spetto.
“Thank you so much. I never knew there was all of this left from my mother, this makes me so happy.”
“There’s also this,” Mrs. Spetto reached into the wall and pulled out a small brown sack with a notecard hanging from it. “This I know is for you. Lady Layla… She made sure to have something for you before…” Spetto trailed off and handed Lucy the bag with tears in her eyes.
“Thank you.” Lucy whispered whole heartedly and squeezed Mrs. Spetto into a tight embrace. She did the same with the other three men in the room, bidding them a tearful goodbye.
“I know I will see you all again. Please don’t be sad, I promise I’ll be back some day.” Lucy then turned and left for the exit. She wouldn’t look back, she couldn’t, she needed to make a better life for herself and she wasn’t going to feel bad for doing so. She needed to make her own way and that’s just what she was going to do.
Lucy had made one stop at her mother’s grave before boarding a train and headed on her way to Magnolia. That was her main destination but, Lucy decided that she would make stops in various different town; she wanted to see everything. She had changed her clothes so that she would fit in better with the townspeople. She wore a simple blue and white top paired with a blue skirt, and wore brown boots with socks up to her thighs. Her keys were strapped to her side along with her handbag that held her mother’s journal and the small sack from the safe. Lucy hadn’t brought much with her besides a few other pairs of clothing and a few nonessential items considering that most of her clothes consisted of large, fancy dresses and she hadn’t gone out enough to have gathered many materialistic items.
The first town that she decided that she’d spend some time in was one called Balsam Village. It was large, flashy, and filled with oriental architecture; it was amazing to Lucy, she had never seen anything like it. Lucy had had some jewel saved up and had brought it all with her so, she was able to afford a small room at the Honseka Inn near the outskirts of the village. It was early afternoon so, Lucy got settled into her room and decided to explore the town. There were so many new sights and sounds, so many faces, no stuffy clothing; everyone looked so happy. It was refreshing, for Lucy, to not be cooped up in a big mansion and not being able to leave the courtyard.
“Everything’s so beautiful here…” Lucy murmured to herself, heading towards the town center.
“Alright, ladies, you’re all invited, let’s go, let’s go!” A man’s voice drifted from a group of girls. As Lucy got closer she saw a tall, dark haired man, ushering the girls to a building across the cobblestoned street.
“It’s our greatest party yet, please come!” He was saying and Lucy suddenly felt a firm grip around her upper arm.
“Hey! What the-?” Lucy exclaimed and looked up to meet the stare of a chucky man guiding her with the rest of the girls.
“C’mon, don’t just stand there starin’! Get a move on or boss’ll get made.” He gruffly ordered her and Lucy tore her arm away from the burly man.
“What are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere! I was just walking through and-” Lucy was cut off by the man shoving her with the other group of girls that seemed to be dazed and following the tall man blindly.
“Get movin’.” The large man ordered her once more and Lucy struggled to get out of the swarm of women but it was difficult with this other man blocking her way.
“Like hell! Let me out!” Lucy tried to squeeze herself past but it was no use. It was then that the man tried to pick her up but was struck down by a quick fist to the face.
“What the hell?” The man that had been blocking her was momentarily stunned and Lucy took the advantage to skip out of the man’s reach, standing safely next to her savior.
“Hands off, buddy.” A raspy voice warned the meaty man who was just getting up from the ground.
“What do we have here? A lowly traveler coming to the rescue? How pathetic!” He spat and Lucy finally got a good look at the person who saved her. He was about a head taller than Lucy, with a dark cloak wrapped around his shoulders that extended to his calves but his arms were bare exposing the lean muscle of his biceps and forearms. He had many bags dangling from his back and belt and was sporting thick wrist bands on both of his wrists. What struck Lucy the most was his cherry blossom pink hair and his kind, boyish features. His sharp green-gray eyes were focusing hard on the man in front of him, his brows creased together scornfully.
“Think of me what ya want but, keep your hands off.” His gruff voice ordered once again and Lucy stood silently next to him.
“And, what are you going to do about it? Filthy nomad.” The man spat and the boy next to her suddenly smirked.
“Do you really want to find out?” He challenged and suddenly his fists were ablaze making Lucy gasp and take a step back. The man’s eyes grew wide and he had a look of sudden realization.
“Y-you’re…!” The man stammered and quickly ran off to catch up with the group of girls.
“Wow…” Lucy whispered in amazement. “Th-thank you!” She turned to the boy who placed a curious gaze down at her.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” He questioned curiously and Lucy shook her head slowly.
“N-no… Today was my first day here.” Lucy admitted.
“Don’t ever go off with those men. I wouldn’t even come to this part of town, it’s bad news. Not unless you have protection.” The boy warned.
“Hey, I’m not totally helpless! I’m a mage too, you know!” Lucy shot back defiantly and the boy smirked.
“You didn’t look like you were winnin’ just now but hey, whatever makes ya happy.” Lucy frowned in annoyance.
“Anyways, thank you so much for getting me out of that mess… I’m Lucy.”
“Natsu. Nice to meet you and no problem.” He gave her a toothy grin.
“Hey, is it true…? Are you a nomad? A traveling mage?” This seemed to make Natsu flinch and Lucy realized that people like him were often scrutinized in the eye of the kingdom. “Oh, no! I-I’m sorry I don’t mean anything bad by that.”
“S’fine. Yeah, I am.” Natsu muttered, a hand moving to the back of his neck nervously.
“Let me make this all up to you, okay?” Lucy promised, her eyes wide in delight and he looked over at her curiously.
“Are you hungry? Let me take you to lunch!” Lucy insisted and their conversation was interrupted by Natsu’s stomach growling loudly making Lucy giggle. “I guess it’s a deal then.”
“Alright, Luigi. I’ll show ya around after so you stay out of trouble.” Natsu grinned at her.
“Hey, the name’s Lucy!”
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Jennifer Sibley Jannise: So, I originally read the book because my daughter asked me to. However, I read it in 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written and thought out. If the author writes and publishes any more books, I would definitely read them.