Dolls and Puppets
“I see you’ve returned from your first mission in one piece.” Jose commented silently moving a figurine across his desk. They were made of twisted steel, ground out to be patterns of different guild symbols and Kera had no desire at all to know what it mean. Melissade next to her swallowed sharply, she was still in pain from her own near death experience and skin transplant. Her blood had flooded into Kera’s cell and caused her to join Jose’s side out of fear, but neither were really in a position to deny Jose once they were kidnapped.
“Yes sir, we did as we were asked.” Kera said, her voice hoarse from the strain of not talking for a long period of time after Melissade’s initial torture.
“And you left none alive?” Jose asked calmly, moving yet another piece across the board its base making a small clicking noise.
“None that we are aware of.” Melissade answered straightening her back and attempting to look tall, despite the fact her skin was still tight and now permanently two different colors.
“Good, good.” He cooed over them, he pulled open a drawer on his desk and removed something from the inside. Gently reaching out towards them he dropped two pieces of sugary sweets on the edge of the desk. They recognized it as bubblegum, something like this was extremely rare in the guild. “That will be your reward for a job well done, half your earnings will come to me.”
The girls quickly split their earnings in half and left it on the edge of Jose’s desk, which he quickly swept up into a separate jar which he placed inside his cloak. His dark lips stretched into a sinister smile as he stared down at them. Suddenly his face twisted into a screaming golem, tongue extending far beyond human capabilities, and it looked as though another head was attempting to emerge from the pits of Jose’s throat. A hand reached out and grabbed at their clothes, attempting to pull them inside the guild master; Kera jerked awake, cold sweat making her clothes stick uncomfortably to her skin.
“You okay?” Melissade asked, yawning widely as she sat up. Sanmari and Sarai were starting to stir as well and Kera felt bad for allowing her nightmare to slip into this world as well.
“I’m fine, just a dream.” Kera explained pushing the blankets away.
“Jose is a nightmare alright,” Sarai mumbled into her pillow, shifting as though attempting to go back to sleep.
“I’m going to go shower and then we can go to the main hall,” Kera announced standing fully and gathering her meager bath articles to head to the grungy baths a few floors below.
“Hold on, I’ll go with you.” Sanmari said in sudden excitement, her light hazel eyes brightening even further as she grabbed her own articles.
“See you two later,” Melissade groaned throwing herself back into her pillows for another few minutes of hopefully blissful sleep.
Walking down the hall, Kera kept a close eye on Sanmari as she was known for tripping on air and spilling all her stuff across the floor. This would cause a setback in everything and often she wouldn’t be allowed to bathe until she could work up an allotment for Jose to buy her new things. It was especially harsh being a girl in Phantom Lord because of their reproductive capabilities and extra money having to go towards it. Yet Jose seemed willing enough considering he was continuing his tirade of kidnapping young girls and inducting them into his service. Just as they reached the stairs to start heading down, Sanmari’s bare foot caught on a board that was sticking up, making the floor even more so uneven than it was, and she was falling headfirst towards the stairs. Having been prepared, Kera reached out and pulled her back by her shirt.
“Arigatou,” Sanmari said beaming at her best friend.
Kera smiled in reply and they carefully walked down the steps in silence, listening as other girls in the dorms started to wake as well and vote for either baths or food. A couple more flights down they pushed open the sliding door which led to the softly lit bathroom, a large tub full of steaming water was occupied by a few of the female guild members, while others sat in front of the sinks, taking turns to wash each other’s backs.
Just as Sanmari was finding an empty locker she could store her pajamas in and undress, Kera interrupted her.
“Juvia!” Sanmari turned, they were around the same age after all but despite that, they were simply friends from being in the same environment.
“Kera-san, Sanmari-san.” Juvia greeted pulling her towel and clothes closer to her body.
“How are you lately?” Kera asked, her very manner was extremely motherly and it was one of the things Sanmari liked the best about her.
“Juvia is the only female as a part of the Element Four, but Juvia thinks it’s nice having Gajeel-san around. It’s not often Juvia gets to talk to you because Jose considers us to be so high.” She paused looking at her friends and biting her lip. “Juvia wants to protect her friends, even if Juvia must be away from them.”
Kera pulled her into a quick hug, knowing they couldn’t be too open about anything anymore due to Jose’s firm separation policy. The other girls glanced at them, but didn’t say much. They all knew if they said anything then Jose would go after the others and even if they didn’t enjoy each other’s presence, none of them wanted anyone to face Jose. Sanmari quickly clasped a hand around Juvia’s wrist.
“Thank you very much,” she whispered a small smile settling on her lips.
Juvia quickly pressed a warm hand against Sanmari’s shoulder before exiting the bathroom. She undoubtedly had meetings the elemental four and Jose. Sanmari’s mind couldn’t keep track of much, but several things were clear. She was a dangerous killer, she’d killed many people, Jose had liked it, and her friends had pulled her back and were now suffering the repercussions for protecting her. The event already starting to slide from importance in her mind, Sanmari found an empty locker and quickly undressed, wrapping the towel around herself and holding onto her shampoos and soaps.
After both women had claimed a sink as their own, spreading out their toiletries across it, they set their towels aside and stepped into the warm water of the group bath. Some of the others glanced at them, but no one said anything. Sanmari brushed her fingers through her hair, letting the long blonde strands darken with the moisture. Kera leaned back against the side, her large breasts floating upwards slightly as she combed her hair out of the tub as to avoid strands from freeing themselves in the water. They sat for quite a while, enjoying the warmth before stepping out and heading back to their sink area where they took turns washing each other’s hair and backs.
“Do you think you’ll enjoy being twenty-four?” Sanmari asked, she had turned Seventeen just months before, during the sign of Leo on August Eleventh.
“Why do you ask that?” Kera asked in surprise.
“Well it’s just, you keep having nightmares about the guild master and I’m worried.” Sanmari stated honestly, rubbing a sweet smelling conditioner into her own hair, they were both sitting on separate stools.
“That doesn’t really say I’m not qualified to be twenty-four,” Kera replied, amused.
“I just sort of wonder when we’re all going to be free from this mess.” Sanmari whispered quietly.
“That’s what we’re discussing after we finish up here.” Kera explained rinsing her hair clean or all extra products. “Come on, let’s finish getting cleaned up.”
It was another long while before the girls emerged, Sanmari wearing a very form fitting shirt. They walked back up to their room, which was vacant of Melissade and Sarai who were surely already enjoying something of a breakfast downstairs. Having put their things away, Sanmari grabbed her notebook, a coping mechanism for her, she would write all important things down inside so she never forgot. They stepped quickly, wanting to get to the guild hall before breakfast was over, but when they stepped out a large fight was underway. Magic circles were breaking hard and fast above them and it was obvious Fairy Tail had started on their backlash against the guild. Absolutely terrified, Sanmari ducked a table that went flying and tried to figure out what was going on by jumping into the fray. Several people screamed when they emerged, quickly running back for cover.
Kera lost track of Sanmari in the crowd and as she came face to face with one of the opposing guild members, she stood in absolute terror. His hair was cut in a very strange fashion, but his dark eyes seemed extremely familiar. His jaw was firm and sharp and paired with his stiff hair gave him the feeling of a wild animal. They were staring at each other for quite a long time, allowing one of Sanmari’s guild mates to get the better of him and send him tumbling several feet away. She raised a hand as though to stop her guild from attacking him, but quickly lowered it, befuddled as to why she would make such a choice. Blood rushed into her ears as the smell of blood reached her nose and it was bringing back memories of herself as the victor, she liked the taste of winning. Slowly, she raised a hand and prepared to launch her own attack when Kera appeared in front of her screaming something about numbers.
There was a loud thud as Gajeel landed on the floor in the middle of the mess, ready to face off against the loud, pink haired mage. Slowly starting to register what was going on, Sanmari focused on what Kera was asking of her.
“What’s your code?! Dammit Sanmari, what are your numbers?”
“Seven, two,” she paused Gajeel was in trouble, she had to help, no… she was reciting numbers. “Six, six, two,”
“Good, good,” Kera encouraged, Fairy Tail’s guild master had just crashed through the back of their building, working his way up looking for Jose. Sanmari knew Jose wouldn’t actually be there.
“One more time Sanmari, just one more time.” Kera pleaded and she could suddenly see the worried faces of Sarai and Melissade next to Kera. In the back she saw Gajeel watching her, despite fighting his own troublesome battle.
“Seven, two, six, six, two, seven, four.”
“She’s still here,” Melissade breathed quietly and suddenly Gajeel sent a hard hit at the mage he’d been battling, filled with power and relief.
“Aria got him,” Sarai breathed quietly announcing the poisoning of Makarov Dreyar.
“Is he the only one to engage?” Kera asked turning.
“Yes, Jose wasn’t there of course it was a holographic image. Fairy Tail will be retreating shortly.”
“We need to finish our escape plan, now.” Melissade told them quietly as the guild began to separate once more. Wounded and dead being cared for by friend’s now mourning the loss or rushing them to the infirmary.
“First, let’s take Sanmari upstairs. We can talk there,” Kera gently pushed her taller friend towards the door leading up to the dorm rooms. If Jose was mad they would just have to face his wrath, but they had no business sitting inside the guild hall now.
Bickslow could still remember when Porlyuscia had given him his first real assignment as a mage, helping him to become the man he was now. It was a crude, worn box at first, just a little hollow wooden cube and he’d been so happy to find it fit in his pocket. He shook it a few times when he first got it and for a moment thought he heard something rattle, but he never heard it again, so played it off as a trick of sound in his young ears. His Seith magic was still so knew, he hadn’t realized the soul had been trying to speak to him at first, picking up on his own words and imitating them.
“Now, do you know what this is?”
“No ma’am,” Bickslow replied looking up at the medicine mage. His hands were clutching the box, afraid she might take it back from him.
“That is a doll which has a human soul trapped within it. I trust you to take care of it and become a master of Seith Magic.”
“Whose soul is inside the doll?” Bickslow asked, looking down an examining the box. Surely it could have been put in something nicer?
“The soul of Mimei Dreyar, she will become your first weapon. For the sake of your comrade you must take care of that box with your own life.” Porlyuscia demanded and Bickslow curled his fingers around it, pulling it towards him. He did not want to turn his second mother into a weapon, nor did he fully understand what it meant, but he did not want to give the doll up if it really was Mimei. “Eventually, you’ll be able to give that soul a new house, but for now it will remain there.”
“How will I learn to control the magic and give it a new house?” Bickslow asked, loosening his hold just enough to inspect the box, wondering if it was the simple concept of breaking it open.
“Train to move it, train it to respond to your thoughts. This is not simply a form of magic, it’s a constant mind game in which you must become the master of everything you control. Eventually you will learn stronger stages and forms of Seith Magic, but for now this will be your start.”
“I will train every day,” Bickslow told her with a big smile. She turned away, preferring not to say anything. Laxus was laying on the bed in the infirmary still unconscious, Bickslow couldn’t wait to tell his friend about the doll which contained his mother’s soul.
Sanmari sat on the railing overlooking the main area of the guild. She had just come back from completing yet another mission for Jose and he had been quite pleased with her swiftly improving work. Snapping the bubblegum he had rewarded her with on a personal level, she stroked the leather coverings of her brand new swords. She’d purchased them with the money she’d earned from the job, they would be useful in further missions for Jose, someone she dared not disobey. Running her tongue over the front of her upper jaw, moving the gum into her cheek, she saw Kera watching her closely from her place at one of the tables. Rubbing her nose, Sanmari slid her hands along the swords before attaching them to her back and jumping down from the high railing, landing on the bar in a catlike manner. The guild member who had been tending the nearly empty bar started yelling at her, but after she turned and her darkened hazel eyes hit his, the barman quickly went quiet.
“Tell Jose, I’m going out on a mission.” Sanmari announced, raising a hand and walking past her friend’s as though their table didn’t even exist.
“Didn’t you just get back from one?” Kera asked quietly, not scared to approach the girl who was quickly gaining a name as a fearsome mass murderer.
“Tch,” Sanmari replied and stepped out into the sunshine, the handles of her new swords glinting in the bright light.
Kera released the breath she’d been unconsciously holding and looked to the rest of their group. Melissade had her teeth dug into her lip as she stared at the door, if this didn’t stop soon they were really going to have to start taking drastic measures.
Sanmari’s footsteps were quiet as she slid across the hardwood floors of the house she was in. She had been asked to annihilate the entire family and to show no mercy. It was the same instructions as always and Sanmari always scoffed when someone seemed to press it fully upon her each time. She was a hunter that could smell out fear. Any prizes worth anything would be brought back to Master Jose. Stealing herself, she took the steps two at a time, jumping lightly to avoid creaks in the weakening wood.
Slowly, Sanmari drew the swords which lay against her back as she reached the first door. Pushing it open, she could make out a desk with various paperwork scattered across it. She stepped in and quietly shut the door so it wouldn’t click. Making sure the room was vacant she pulled a lighter from her pocket and ran her thumb along the mechanism, not flinching at the sudden but dim light near her hair. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she slowly held the light ever closer to the papers and stared down.
Council’s Forbidden R-System Continues Construction
Future X-System Possibilities
Several open books accompanies the files, along with a lot of hand written notes. Flipping the books over to read their covers, she attempted to process the implications of what she was reading and why Jose wanted this person dead. A Study into the Principles of Ethernano by Z. D., Architecture for the Dim Witted, The Flow of Magic in Everyday Life. Picking up the first book, she pushed it into the black bag tied around her waist. She grabbed a couple of the other paper work and placed it in her pocket for further personal study. She hoped Jose would not ask her too much if she were to take on a little light reading.
Pulling her hair over her right shoulder so her pony tail wasn’t brushing her back, Sanmari turned and looked over her left shoulder at the door, silhouette illuminated by the full moon outside. She gently pulled the door back open and moved onto the next door which was simply a linen closet with a small child at the bottom. The blue haired girl was especially short for her age, but appeared to be around the same age as Sanmari. Dark hazel eyes met scared almond. They both blinked for a moment in surprise at seeing the other, and in a moment of weakness and a break in sanity Sanmari managed to utter one word to the girl.
Run, the child did. She pushed past the attacker and was out of the front door before Sanmari could really realize what she’d done. Cursing herself for the break in Jose’s orders she moved through the house with more vengeance. From the hiding child it was obvious the family knew she was there. Sanmari slid her sword along the base of the wall, while she walked leaving a very thin slice line in her wake. Hearing a shuffling behind one of the doors she grinned and turned. Slowly she reached down and removed her shoes, tucking them into the pouch with the book, then removing her socks as well.
Grinning she crouched low using the wood to connect her to the underground heating system of the house. Locating, in a bout of fortune, a propane line her smile grew more and more feral. Displacing the land and shooting it upward into one of the lower rooms, she ruptured the propane line so the gas would slowly seep into the air. Picking up her swords and holding them momentarily in one hand, she turned the nob and let it fall open very slowly revealing her form lit up by the big bay window. A couple stood huddled together near a house plant in the corner and Sanmari understood they were her target.
Flipping a sword to her vacant hand she took a step into the room and the husband bravely took a stand in front of his wife and Sanmari snorted. Moving in a flash of light reflected off the edge of her sword, she moved like a lightning bolt, swords cutting through him before he realized what had happened. Sanmari frowned at the small amount of blood which had made its way onto her blades as his limp body fell to the floor. The woman screamed and Sanmari looked at her, a completely blank expression taking over. The scream slowly died away into whimpers and Sanmari smirked, sticking out her tongue and running it along the edge of the sword which was stained with the blood of her first victim. Tears spilled down the wife’s cheeks as she stared at Sanmari.
“Please, just kill me quickly.” She begged quietly and Sanmari thrust the blade into her chest, twisting slightly before pulling back, the mother’s body falling still.
Frowning at her inability to care for the sword blades at that moment due to the seeping gas, she sheathed them quickly and pulled a mask from her bag, sliding it over her mouth and hooking it on her ears. She moved with a purpose and the minute her bare toes hit the front door her left hand whipped the lighter out of her pocket again and she thrust it behind her. The explosion hissed in the night air alerting the neighbors to something much bigger happening on their street. She stepped out onto the dirt and forced it to collapse in on the leak in the propane line effectively shutting off the flow of gas, slowly killing the explosion. The small girl from before was standing in the street, two boys a couple years older than her stood guard, but Sanmari took one step towards them and they started running. Laughing to herself she disappeared into the night and away from her crime.
“Spoils?” Was the first thing Jose asked Sanmari upon her return to the guild. She held out the book, withholding the documents as she couldn’t figure out whether they really had a purpose.
“Just this sir, I didn’t have much time as they apparently knew I was coming. I was wondering if you might acquiesce me to keep the book for light reading.” She was polite and her eyes quiet, revealing nothing.
“There will be a price, he probably destroyed his own documents after all.”
“Three-quarters of my pay.” Sanmari said immediately in response and Jose smiled.
“Just enough to cover the small blunder, and the book is yours.” She watched as Jose counted out the mission money and handed her her very small portion. She took the money with reverence.
“Anything you will be need of supplying before your next mission?”
“Just a new lighter sir,”
“Good, no loss of any real weapon.” Jose purred. “You’ll go and buy one tomorrow and be back to work in two days’ time.”
“Yes Master,” Sanmari replied, then she shut his office door behind her and headed to the female dorms. This pay would go towards supplies and food only and she had a single day in which to buy it. Sighing, Sanmari rubbed her weary eyes and clutched the book tighter to her chest.
Sometimes Bickslow would spot Laxus trying to coax the little wooden box away from him after he’d figured out how to control the Seith Magic. He would watch as the little blond haired boy would use all sorts of methods, his favorite being small sweets, to try and get the box to come and play with him. One thing Bickslow knew he could never tell his friend, was that souls were different than their human counterparts. While the soul may have belonged to his mother, it was now magically bound to Bickslow and everyday its human memories were fading and one day it wouldn’t remember Laxus at all; at least in regards to him being the son of the human Mimei had once been. Bickslow sighed and looked over to the table where two new guild members were sitting, giggling with each other over the newest issue of Sorcerer Weekly. The cover featured a very handsome, but short, red haired man with an ugly cleft chin which really marred his appearance. “Blue Pegasus’ One and Only Ichiya!” it boasted, Bickslow snorted. He could think of several people much more attractive than the cover feature for this month. Glancing over at Laxus still trying to coax the doll with sugar, it was floating hesitantly back towards Bickslow, he decided it was safe to try and make friends with the two girls.
The one had glasses and light purple hair, she had a large book in front of her, but Bickslow struggled to read it, as it was upside down and the title on the front appeared to be another language altogether. He sat down at the table and they looked up at him in surprise. The girl with purple hair shut the magazine and quickly slid it under the table as though she were ashamed of what they were looking at, letting the book fall to the table. The other decided to look him dead in the eyes as though expecting him to question their literary choices. She had pale blonde hair and a rather large nose which offset her face in a misshapen fashion. Bickslow smiled at them.
“Danira,” the blonde greeted with a smile, sticking out an even paler hand. Bickslow took it gingerly, she looked sickly and he wanted to ask if she was, but knew it would be rude to ask such a personal question to someone he just met. Porlyuscia had yelled at him when Levy, Jet, and Droy had first ended up at their guild covered in dirt and blood.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Bickslow gave her a toothy grin which was missing about three of the front teeth. He looked over at the other one sitting at the table.
“I like your box friend.” Laki told him pointing to the wooden square.
“Oh it’s nothing special,” Bickslow blushed and looked down.
“What kind of magic is it?” Laki looked extremely interested as she watched the wooden block hesitate before soaring away from Laxus who cried out after it.
“Seith magic, Laxus’ mother’s soul is trapped in it.” Bickslow explained, but he could see that Laki and Danira were confused. “Seith magic is a branch of magic which allows me to trap the soul of someone who has recently died into an object and if that object is destroyed, or for battle purposes, I can move the soul to another object. While the soul still retains part of its personality for the first little while, after it has been trapped for so long it will forget who it was and merely become a soul under my control.”
”That’s interesting,” Laki was back to looking at the little wooden block. She hummed lightly and then stood. “I want to talk to you more later about the housing for them, that block seems so dull. Danira and I are going to do an easy mission in town.”
“Er, see you later.” Bickslow was confused by their sudden departure but figured he should go and rescue Mimei from her son. Standing Bickslow wandered back over to where his friend Laxus, the dragon slayer immediately pretended like he hadn’t been trying to coax the block to play with him. Rolling his eyes Bickslow turned with a wide grin to the blond and pretended like he hadn’t seen anything, something the boy was very grateful for.
Before Fairy Tail’s Rebuttal in x784
Gajeel walked slowly back to the guild doors, his right arm was still covered in the black paint he’d used to mar the little bluenette’s stomach. He felt sick, he couldn’t believe he’d let himself slip that far into Jose’s words and will. Staggering from exhaustion, not that attacking them had really weakened him, but rather from the tiredness in his mind from living in a place such as this for so long; he took a moment to rest on a nearby boulder. The spirals of the guild’s towers rising in front of him, but he didn’t want to go back quite yet. Once he started to get slightly chill from the quickly cooling night air, he stood and continued on his journey. When Gajeel arrived at the guild hall door, a figure was waiting for him, leaning up against the corner.
“Tch,” Gajeel greeted making to step past them.
“What’s your number?” The soft voice replied and Gajeel stopped. It was a long moment before he spoke.
“Four, two, five, three, three, five.” His shoulders slumped as his mind seemed to fully hit reality and he quickly bit back the hot tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.
“I’m okay, it’s okay, we’ll figure this out.” He whispered placing his non-painted hand on her head.
“Juvia does not want to participate in what’s coming,” the female admitted quietly as they moved through the empty hall.
“What’s your number Juvia?”
“Five, eight, eight, four, two. Why?”
“Just keep thinking those numbers, okay? Then at least you’ll stay a little sane during the coming days.”
“Juvia will only promise if Gajeel-san promises too.”
“You betcha, kid.” Juvia puffed out her cheeks in response and Gajeel chuckled before turning off to the door for the boy’s dorm. “G’night,”
When Danira passed away from her illness Bickslow focused his magic and with Laki’s permission, entrapped her soul inside of his second doll. It took nearly all of his magic power out of him, but the resulting floating box which joined Mimei made it all worth it. For a while, Laki acted as Laxus had, always watching the box, talking to it, and coaxing it to play. When she recalled Bickslow’s words about how the souls would eventually forget their human memories she wasn’t seen for days. Bickslow had tried to go check on her, but found himself blocked by the Fairy Tail girls at Fairy Hills dorm. When she finally returned she was holding two handcrafted totem like boxes. They had little eyes and mouths, wings sticking out on the side.
“I made these for Mimei and Danira.” Laki told Bickslow when she presented the boxes. “I’m a wood mage so it wasn’t hard.”
“Thank you, these are perfect for them.” He took the empty dolls and placed them on the table. Calling Mimei and Danira over he, settled them down on top of the new dolls and worked on transitioning the souls. He was working on getting it to work more long range, but it took a lot of effort and magic power. Once the transfer had been complete the boxes slid away and the new totems flew upward making noises of delight. Suddenly, the one which was hosting the soul of Danira, flew at Laki and tapped her on the cheek before flying away. Laki giggled, it was the final goodbye.
“They’re perfect,” Laki breathed looking up at the totems which were now dashing around the guild roof in delight.
“Thank you Laki,” Bickslow told her, a sincere smile spreading across his face. A faint blush adorned her cheeks as she looked down at the ground, avoiding his startling green eyes.
Jose stared down at his work and study. He’d heard of it being done, Makarov had allowed such a thing to happen to his own grandchild after all. Though, Jose did consider himself very lucky to have stumbled across these papers from a renowned child prodigy who had disappeared mysteriously after the academy for magic was destroyed. The papers were heavily damaged, but he had managed to make out most of the words and with other source materials he had started building test magic circles. Many of his experiments had gone awry and he’d sadly been forced to kill many a small child in the very base of the guild; then stash their bodies in the mountains under the dark spiraling turrets that were slowly turning into the new guild hall. Growling under the pressure of figuring this out quickly, he flipped open yet another text with the initials Z.D. on the front. He stared down in surprise at information which had been hidden in a mess of unimportant text which he had originally skimmed over. His dark fingers zoomed across the page, outlining the secret to creating what he wanted. Grinning his notes became complete, and he started to prepare the names of his next victims.
They would do nicely, he thought. They had fallen into his hands at such an opportune moment after all. It was like the ancestors of magic in Fiore had wanted him to do this, to create the ultimate weapons. First he would have to rely on an old friend, however, because there was only one place he knew he could get the materials needed. Yes, he would have to visit Precht Gaebolg, he only hoped Precht’s own darling experiments would be willing to help him achieve his means.
Jose and Precht were the death match stare down of the century, many a man probably would have paid to see them just watching the other. It was a battle of wit and will and it was impossible to say who would truly win the fight. Precht snorted, but didn’t look away like any normal person was. His dark eyes were slowly starting to drive Jose insane, but he was on a mission to finish his research and create something even Zeref may fear. He wanted to create his own demons.
“You want me to give you part of the ethernano going into building the R-System?” Precht asked suddenly, confirming what had been said over an hour ago before this mental chess match had begun.
“I thought I made that quite clear already, I would like two, two centimeter wide pieces that are about six centimeters long.”
“That will take three years or more to rebuild Jose, I simply cannot allow it.”
“You have more than enough man power to rebuild the lost portion in six months. I would give you fair payment for it, and it’d be simple enough to have one of your small ones slip in unnoticed.” Jose argued and the staring match resumed. They sat in silence, staring, for another few minutes before Precht finally decided to ask.
“What price are you willing to pay for your little experiment?”
“How many children would you like?” Jose’s lips curled upward in a smile, revealing his slightly yellow straight teeth. His mustache crinkled with the crack of dry skin and Precht narrowed his eyes. Now the bartering would begin.
Jose was now tasked with his final piece, growling he had no clue how to even go about getting his hands on something as sacred as a Dragon Slaying lacrima. It was such an old form of magic, he wondered how Ivan had managed to find one. They surely had to be extremely dangerous, but the thought only made his fingers twitch in anticipation over managing to collect such a thing. He needed it, he could taste it, something like this was never a want, it was a need to progress himself further in becoming the strongest mage in Fiore. He needed to surpass the four kings of Ishval, and surely this would put him at the cusp of their seats. Placing his thumb in his mouth and biting down hard as he thought, he had no idea. There was no way he would ever go near Ivan Dreyar, however. Precht was a very close second on the list, but he had bent his own will in the case of earning his first pieces of solving the perfect riddle. Growling, he flicked his cloak and started on his way to return the guild. The lacrima would have to take even more neck straining research.
“I’m a… I’m a what?” Kera stared up at Jose in shock.
Under close scrutiny, Jose had ordered for Kera to undergo some tests about magic as it was evident she wasn’t showing much ability. Worried, despite having encultured her into a number of missions where she fared well, he wanted to see the results of his experiment. He wanted to know about his success transplantation after having actively sought for a lacrima. Jose’s hands came up in a prayer position and he laid his lips against the sides of his index fingers, watching her quietly. Kera was extremely unnerved, she wasn’t completely sure she had heard the guild master correctly after all. Melissade’s magic was very obvious and the tests for her abilities had proven she hosted a single ethernano crystal which she could utilize and rebuild.
Having overseen the tests, Jose knew exactly what the council members would find, but didn’t say anything allowed. His experiments were not run of the mill, in fact, the council stood for no magical experiments as the subjects could turn rogue so quickly. Sneering at their inability to see genius in cases like Melissade and Kera, he had grinned when they announced she would be able to access the dragon slaying lacrimas with practice. He could only see sense in her training with one person, he was in need of fire power to fight against Fairy Tail in the coming years and he had lost the palpable mind of Sanmari. A dramatic loss to his S-Class wizards, especially since she would’ve constituted well to becoming a part of the elemental four over Sol, but it was not to be so. Sending a short burst of air from his nose, he watched as Kera seemed to mull over the news, not wanting to repeat himself.
One of the most interesting things, Jose considered, was that Kera had risen to the level of S-Class without seemingly relying on her dragon slaying lacrima. A bit of trivia which still pestered his mind as he could not figure out how she’d done it. Even Gajeel had not been able to only use brute force in the last couple of years to rise the rank he was now. He wanted to see Kera rise further, for she was extremely powerful having relied only on Fortune Telling thus far. He had the information already jotted down in his notes, but he wondered if they would truly be of any use to anyone later on as the information was so scrambled. Surely this girl had not thought Gajeel might be the only dragon slayer Jose would obtain, however. He strived after power and the nineteen year-old girl in front of him knew it well.
Due to the unusual circumstances he had called for someone official from the Magic Council, having cleaned up the guild and hidden the more nasty parts of his work, from the representative. The council member would’ve been extremely attractive, and in danger of many unspeakable things, having worn the outfit she chose in front of any other man. Jose, however, had only one love for his work and for power, so her blatant and almost begging sexual appeal went unnoticed. Kera had been thoroughly examined under the watchful eye of Jose. The council member had found it unnerving how he watched her in anticipation of the results, but it didn’t faze the mage who was used to being treated like a slice of well cooked meat. Once the full examination had been complete, the findings were well recorded in a notebook, which disappeared in a flash of light, before the council member would inform them of the results on Kera’s extraordinary magic. Jose had asked Kera to leave the room at this point, claiming he wanted to tell her the news, though the council member had felt extremely uneasy, they watched as the almost-not teen exited the room swiftly and obediently. Her limbs twitched in anticipation, but the movement made her move more spider-like, as though she were tied strictly to a set of strings.
“Fourth generation, they found a dragon slaying lacrima crystal you were born with, one which was implanted in you, as well as an Ethernano crystal inside you which powers only your body unlike Melissade.”
“So,” her eyebrows furrowed together. “What kind of dragon slayer am I?”
“I would suppose you are an imitation dragon slayer, you can imitate any kind of magic but become most powerful when you imitate a dragon slayer.” Jose grinned. “To cultivate your power I’ll be pairing you on missions with Gajeel for a while, when your power has grown I will ask you to join the elite of the guild. Think about your answer.”
Kera stood and walked out the door of Jose’s office. In the main hall she found her friends waiting for her, they were laughing about something which had just happened.
“I won’t be able to go on missions with you for a while,” Kera told them.
“What?” Sanmari looked at her friend in surprise. “Why not?”
“Jose is pairing me with Gajeel, the council magic tests came in. They revealed something new and a bit strange to be honest. Jose told me they’ve found I contain an ethernano crystal like Melissade, but I also host two dragon slaying lacrima’s. From what they can tell, I can imitate any kind of magic, but Jose believes it’s most powerful with another Dragon Slayer since our magic origins are the same. He says I’m considered a fourth generation dragon slayer.”
“How did we get all the way to fourth from Gajeel being a first?” Sanmari asked curiously.
Kera reached down and grabbed Sanmari’s light pen from her bag, so she could draw on the table in front of them. “We know there are first dragon slayers like Gajeel who were born with a dragon slaying lacrima inside them, along with the fact they had a dragon for a parent.”
Kera wrote out the characteristics of the first generation on the table, even drawing an image of a small chibi dragon. Melissade grinned at the picture and poked it.
“Then there comes the second generation, these aren’t as common but one of those Fairy Tail members is supposed to be one.” Kera continued drawing out the second generation. “They had no dragon parent and have had a dragon slaying lacrima surgically implanted inside them.”
“Who would do that to their own child?” Sarai asked staring at the words, surgically implanted.
“Someone seeking to make a powerful child. I hear the process is painful and doesn’t always go well. The Fairy Tail wizard is the only one that they’re sure was a successful implantation.” Kera moved her pen farther down the table. “Then there are rumors of what a third dragon slayer is like, the only two anyone is sure they’ve found are very little, around eight or so. They’ve apparently joined a relatively new guild so no one knows much about them. Third generation are supposed to have had a dragon parent, been born with a lacrima, and had one implanted as well.
According to Jose the tests show me as a fourth dragon slayer. I was born with the needed lacrima, but I never had a dragon parent. The lacrima festered and apparently, from a time I can’t remember, I’ve had a second crystal added as well as an ethernano crystal like Melissade added. Both crystals and the ethernano allow me to imitate magic around me, but I can’t give off ethernano like Melissade can.”
“So he wants you to train with a first generation dragon slayer?” Sarai questioned, searching for confirmation.
“He thinks pairing us together will make me stronger, which it just might. If I am a dragon slayer then I can learn some attacks and find a way to perhaps enhance my own imitation and fortune telling magic. Maybe I have some dragon slaying attacks pertaining to imitation and I do want to unlock them.”
“But if you do this then you’re going to have to decide whether or not to join Jose’s elite team.” Sarai stated reading Kayla’s thoughts and anticipating her next words.
“What are you going to do?” Sanmari asked standing, she didn’t want to lose her best friend to Jose and his ever darkening team.
“He said I have time to think about it, for now I’ll train and when the time comes to decide whether or not I will join Jose, I’ll make that decision.” Sanmari opened her mouth to reply to Kera but then decided against it, biting her lip. She knew the decision had to be up to her best friend, but didn’t want her friend to leave.
“Now, this mission I’m about to assign to you is of the highest ranking. You could very possibly find yourself dead rather than returning to here.” Jose warned, his pen was gliding across several pieces of parchment, continuing the work between them as if there wasn’t a separation in their topics. Sanmari stood at attention, her eyes devoid of any emotion and her face blank.
“If I were to fail there sir, then there’d be nothing for me to come back to,” she replied, blinking naturally and Jose had to bend forward more to hide his self-triumphant smirk.
“Then my dear child, I’m sure you know what to do once I have given you a location.” Jose looked up, clasping his hands together in front of his mouth, and resting his lips upon them. He looked as though he were praying, but the obvious darkness in his eyes gave away the vain hope. Sanmari nodded slowly, she’d never simply been given a location before and the thought stirred something in the back of her mind.
“The name of who I will be killing?”
“Oh there won’t be a single name this time,” Jose’s voice filled with mirth, laughter brimming on the edge of his dark lips. Sanmari’s jaw tightened as she realized the entirety of the request they had been given. “To my own surprise, it was the council who requested this from the guild. I figure you should suffice in terms of wiping out an opposing force.”
“The city?” Sanmari prompted, tired of Jose’s long waffle.
“Oh there is no city, you’re so eager this time.” Jose grinned, lowering his hands, his smile no longer surprised her, no matter how leering it became. “I’m glad to see you’re so willing to do the bidding of the council. No, this time the mission is a little more serious than a simple cut of someone running illegal experiments. That Chimera disaster from a couple weeks ago was particularly a graphic cover up for some of the more prominent figures in our country. This time, they summon us, or more specifically you, due to an up rise from a foreign country. They are taking active military force against us, but Era would rather us shut it down quickly than let this become a more disastrous war.”
“I’m going on my own to fight another countries army?” Sanmari asked, her jaw dropping only slightly, the most amount of shock she had showed within the last three years.
“It’ll only be a few hundred, surely something any worthy Phantom Lord S-Class would be able to take care of.” The danger was back in Jose’s voice and Sanmari knew she was in no pace to deny.
“Then give me the direction of their march,” she grinned, her left hand already reaching back for her sword. The feral smile which now came so easily creeping into her features and Jose had to hold back his pleased chuckle.
Sweat was running down Kera’s face, it had been two years since she had started training with Gajeel and they could push each other to their limits without worry now. The first few times Kera had nearly passed out and Jose had yelled at Gajeel for his carelessness. Now Kera had improved the point where she could extend her imitation range and imitate people she knew well without having them in her imitation range.
Sanmari had been working on her own magic as well and befriended the Dragon Slayer by catching him off guard with a style of magic that nearly depleted her reserves over fighting him with simple Solid Script. Melissade and Sarai had even joined in on the training after a while, determined to keep their friend with them. Gajeel had been surprisingly kind as he worked with Sarai when teaching her hand to hand combat without magic, as the only thing she had been able to master was sound magic. Melissade had proven herself very useful as she could create puppets out of anything surrounding her, pulling trees together or rock up from the earth. Eventually, Gajeel was separated from the group in order to full be the leader of the elemental four, though a separate entity from them. Kera continued to train with her friends and when the time came for Kera to make her decision on being a part of Jose’s elite, Gajeel approached her.
“He’s asking me to recommend you of course, he’s given me some time to think about it and I figured I’d come talk to you.” Gajeel looked at her. “Jose is coaxing Fairy Tail in waging war against us, later this week I’m being sent to try and destroy some of their spirit. I don’t know why, but if it’s what the master wishes then I’d better do his bidding, besides it’d be fun to fight some of those fairies.”
“You’re succumbing to the darkness hidden in your heart then.” Kera accused.
“I’m not succumbing to anything, I’m following the masters’ orders in order to keep my life. You saw what he did to those mages who attempted to leave last week. I don’t think any of them are going to make it out of the infirmary.”
“I don’t want to be a part of the destruction of a guild who have done nothing against us.” Kera admitted.
“There’s not really a way out, Jose is coming for you and your power.”
“Can you lie?” Kera placed a hand on his arm, eyes wide, staring him down. “He sees no power in any of my friends which is good considering how strong they’ve become. Talk me down, say I have barely improved and wouldn’t make his team stronger. Leave me in the bottom where I can find a way out through one of the holes. Just please, as my friend, keep me out of that elite team. Tell Jose I’m worthless as a Dragon Slayer and the fourth generation must be extremely weak despite their enhancements. I’m begging you Gajeel.”
“Alright, I’ll see if I can talk you down to Jose. It won’t be an easy task, but I want to protect my friends.”
“Thank you,” Kera smiled up at him giving him a warm hug.
“Take care of Sanmari and Sarai okay? They’re not as strong as you or Melissade, I’d hate to see them hurt.” Gajeel reminded as she made to walk away.
“I promise,” then Kera was gone and Gajeel was left with the mission of destroying himself to save those he cared for.
Sanmari stood at the top of a cliff, staring down at the barren wasteland before her. It was obvious no one had been through the north of Fiore in a very long time. She swung her legs through the open air, shivering from the wind chill. Yawning, her right eye shut unwillingly and that was when she saw them. The army coming from the Alvarez Empire, it was not their first march on Fiore, and she supposed it would not be there last. Standing, she slammed her foot down onto the rock below her and a slide erupted under her feet, rushing to meet the ground. Riding the moving land form, she came to a stumbling stop in front of the army. Everyone halted and stared at each other, it was obvious they were expecting more people to join her.
“You dare to face us alone?” The commander of the group hissed.
“Only if you dare to face me at five hundred.” Sanmari whispered and as laughter rippled through the crowd of men at the front.
The dying light of the night put Sanmari in the perfect position and she lifted her hands to the swords on her back. With a flash of silver, utilizing the light to momentarily blind them and attack. Cutting through the crowd then backing out again like a spectral being, she watched as they ran in terror, unsure of what to do. Taking out a large portion of the attacking army, she took her place, crouching on a stack of bodies. Blood dripped from her swords and time seemed to freeze as the forces of Alvarez turned to face her in horror.
She slowly brought the dripping blade to her mouth, letting her tongue slide out of its quiet perch, Sanmari ran it up the blade, excess blood dripping down her chin. Wiping it away with the back of her hand, she smeared the darkness over her face watching as the looks of confusion turned to horror. Moving like a lightning bolt, she pushed off the pile of bodies, sending herself flying through row after row. Her small, ten year old frame allowed for her quick movements and easy hiding in the quickly fading light. The moon rose high above them and arcs of blood shot into the air, seeming to stain everything around them. The sand turned dark brown over roasted gold and in the middle of the massacre stood a single girl.
Those still living found their way to their knees, begging and pleading her for mercy as she stepped towards them. Showing no mercy as she had been taught, her eyes turned darker in the night as her body was bathed in blood. Blinking slowly she stared at her victims, not even a glimmer of pity over taking her body. Snorting at the simplicity of the Alvarez Empire, she started her trek back to Phantom Lord where she would be rewarded. Running a stick hand through her long blonde hair, she stained it red, pleased with her work for the night. It was only after she had stepped away from the field when she fell to her knees and vomited.
Sanmari was surprised at her own reaction and she choked down the next wave of nausea. Gripping at her ragged, sweaty, and stained clothes she managed to push herself back to her feet. Images of a smiling blond boy, hair a darker shade than hers, flooded the space between her eyelid and cornea. Gasping, her knees met the quickly cooling sand once more and she pulled herself into the fetal position. It felt like her head would split open, like her body was being ripped apart. Screaming out she clutched at her head, swords falling from her back as the straps tore due to strain. A woman with blonde hair and beautiful brown eyes, a man with brown hair and bright green eyes, both of them smiling and laughing. Her fellow friends at the guild, Kera and Melissade, their constant care towards her despite her broken form. Sarai and her all-knowing mind, looking through her and allowing that small bit of vulnerability.
Gasping for breath, Sanmari watched as she saw her new friends, Gajeel and Juvia, smiling at her with apprehension, scared of the small girl with just a pair of swords. She pulled at the shirt over her heart and groaned, attempting to rip out the horrible feelings. In her pain she pushed herself up, stooping to collect the bloody swords and their worn cases, only to find her hazel eyes filled with regret as she saw the chilling scene of massacre before her. Stumbling back, she pushed at the sand with the heels of her shoes, unable to gain any traction as she shoved herself away. What had she done? Just who had she killed? Swallowing down bile she managed to find her feet once more and she ran, she ran until her legs could carry her no more and then continued on. Finally far away from the scene she had created Sanmari let it all out. Her tears, the bile, the regret. Pounding her fists into the wood of a nearby tree she howled in anguish. It was not all worth it, Jose had tricked her, he had taken everything of meaning and trampled all over it.
Hissing, Sanmari realized she was bleeding on her left side. She ripped the shirt from her back and used it as a bandage to halt the flow for at least a short while. Moaning in pain she laid back, deciding it would be better to carry on when the light hit in the new dawn. Rolling over and tucking herself into a ball in the roots of a tall tree, she cried like a wounded animal and did not stop till it was time to move again. The blood of her victims dried like a caste of horror over her skin, but she did not care. This was her true penance, the cost of destroying something which did not belong to her. Sanmari decided she would carry with her this burden until the day she died, unable to kill anymore. She had stolen too many lives, but perhaps one more wouldn’t hurt her soul anymore. Especially if it were her own.
“So you all made it out okay then,” Gajeel asked, he was sitting in his old home on a heap of scrap metal. To their surprise he wasn’t eating.
“Yeah, just barely.” Sanmari climbed up on the pile to stand next to their friend.
“Fairy Tail came by and offered me a place in their guild.” Gajeel admitted turning to face them all.
“Are you going to take it?” Kera asked.
“I’m thinking about it, isn’t your brother near Fairy Tail?” Gajeel asked looking at Kera.
“He was, twelve years ago. I’ve no idea if he’s still there, I sort of want to find him on my own. I don’t think I’m ready to meet him either.”
“You’re not ready after twelve years?” Melissade looked at her friend in surprise.
“I’ve been a member of Phantom Lord for the time we were separated, I never bothered to look for him so I don’t feel worthy quite yet. If you do happen to meet a Bickslow in Fairy Tail, you will let me know won’t you?” She looked at Gajeel and he nodded. “I think that if I know for sure he’s there I can really work on becoming a sister he can be proud of.”
“We’ll help you along the way, let’s go on an adventure.” Sanmari agreed jumping down to the floor where her friends were waiting.
“Good luck in Fairy Tail Gajeel, we know you’ll be just fine wherever you are.” Sarai waved and the four girls exited, it was the start of an entirely new day for all of them.
“Where are you going Gajeel?” Juvia called after him as he walked down the streets of Magnolia.
“I’m going to join Fairy Tail,” Gajeel told her, the bluenette falling into step beside him.
“Juvia was going to join too, perhaps we can go together?” She asked staring up at him, for once her umbrella was not hovering above her head.“The company would be great,” Gajeel admitted and together the two headed for their new start.