Chapter 17: Great Tree Collapsed
Len and the others ran across the wet and muddy ground, the rain pouring down at their faces like needles pricking their faces. He felt the energies released from all over, most likely from the other battles all around the island. "Let's hurry!" He called out to them.
"We know!" Natsu shouted back.
It was in that moment that he saw the giant tree came toppling down at them, "T-The tree!" Len cried.
"What the heck is going on?-!" Natsu cried.
"Who cares?-! Just run for it!" Len shouted as they try to run faster to get away from the tree toppling on them. But then, Len felt magic being drained from him, his feet buckled and he falls on the ground panting, "W-Wha…?" He pants as the others too falls onto the ground one by one, "My magic… is being drained…?"
"Because the great tree is toppled."
He looked over to the tree, sensing two magic powers at the bottom of the tree. One of them is very familiar, Titania Erza, "Titania…" He muttered before falling unconscious.
"Nii-san!" Lucy cried, "Nii-san! Oh no, he's out cold…" 'Someone who has as little magic energy as nii-san is drained much faster than any of us… If this keeps up…'
Len's consciousness is falling out of his body, as if his very soul is being transported somewhere else, 'What on earth…' He feel his body slowly falling in an infinite dark space, with nothing but darkness all around and not even a single shed of light, 'It's so dark… I'm so sleepy…'
"Terra Chyrmal (Cry of the Earth)!"
Len's eyes widen as he heard a familiar shriek, turning around to find an image of Erza getting blown up by a huge flaming ball. The heavily bruised mage falls onto a few branches, seemly defeated, "Titania…"
He heard another familiar voice; another image appears with the imprisoned Jellal in a cell, "Jellal…?"
One of the frog-like wardens that are guarding the cell seem to heard him mumbling something, "Did you say something, Siegrein-sama?" He asked.
"You idiot! That's Jellal!" The other warden shouted, "He disguised as the Councilor Siegrein to infiltrate the Magic Council!"
"S-Sorry… Old habits…"
"That guy destroyed our council!" He carried on angrily, "He's responsible for that atrocity that shattered everyone's trust on us!"
"More like they deserve it, frog face." Len said.
Back in the cell, Jellal is still muttering something, but they can't make out what it was, "H-Hey, did he mutter some kind of incantation or something?" The guard asked.
"This prison is made with magic cancelling stone; there is no way he can use magic there." He holds out his staff into the cell, "Want to test it out?"
"Test what out?"
The staff fires an electric spell right at the prisoner, shocking him with thousands volts of electricity, not enough to kill but strong enough to cause pain.
"Check it out, the Jellal is completely useless." The frog warden chuckled.
"S-Stop it, Nadaru…"
Nadaru ignored his friend and keeps on shocking Jellal, "What were you mumbling about just now, hm?" The spell stopped and Jellal falls onto the cold prison floor smoking with bruises from the lightning spell, "Oh, yeah… since you've been here, you haven't eaten yet… You're hungry aren't you?"
Jellal kept on panting from the torture he has withstood.
"Okay then; just say 'Please feed me, Nadaru-sama…', and I might let you have a meal."
"That bastard!" Len grunted angrily.
Jellal still kept on panting.
"If you don't, I won't feed you for a week!"
"Erza…" He muttered, completely shocking them, "Don't…lose…"
"Even in this state, he still concerns about her…" Len muttered, looking down with a sad smile, "He's really his counterpart after all…" He looks over to the image showing Erza, the knight mage getting back up in a red hakama and bandages around her chest and a sword in her hands, "Still… why am I seeing these images…?"
"Because they are the people with the strongest bonds with you."
Len heard a familiar voice, behind him stood a red spiky haired man with similar red eyes in a blue vest and black pants with a red sash around his waist and black boots, "Diablo…?"
"To a Demon Slayer, bonds with other people are important." Diablo explained, "They are what keeps them attached to the mortal world, and not end up like Zeref-sama."
"Where is this place?" Len asked the demon.
"A place you mortals call Limbo." He explained, "The world between life and death. You're dead, but still alive at the same time. The drain on your magic energy, your life force has brought you here. Demon Slayers can't die by wounds or curses, you see. Only by aging and passing away peacefully."
"So I'm practically immortal?"
Len turned to a new image, showing the battle between the people at the camp and Rustyrose, Freed and Bickslow getting the shit beaten out of them. Mei was being grabbed by Rustyrose by her neck.
"Mei!" Len cried, "Oi, Diablo! Can't you do something?-!"
Diablo closed his eyes in thought, "Len, there is a reason that you are brought here."
"Eh? A reason?"
The demon nodded, "During the encounter with Zeref-sama, I accidentally transferred some of the death magic into your right eye to keep you alive."
"It's power to take away people lives is converted to complete nullification of your enemy's magic, and it was stored in that right eye of yours." He explained, "But, it can only be used once, and the magic will fade and your eye will turn back to normal."
"My eye has the power to nullify magic…?" Len muttered, placing his hand on his right eye.
Diablo turned to the Erza's image, "Looks like your knight friend is in trouble."
Len turned to the image showing Erza's fight, the knight mage was blasted in another flaming ball, larger than the previous one. "Titania! Damn it, is there a way to help her?-!"
"I believe there is." Diablo said, "The fire ball is consisting of the magic that are drained from the other Fairy Tail mages, including yours. So if that is true…"
Len then realized, "I got it!"
Back at Erza's fight, she is trapped in the fire ball of magic, 'So… this is the end…' She thought.
"Are you giving up, Titania?"
She hears a voice so warm, Len appearing in front of her, "Len…?"
"You're giving up? That's not the Erza Scarlet I know." Len smiled, "Besides, you're not alone." The images of the other Fairy Tail mages start appearing one by one behind him.
'Everyone…' Erza clenched her fists, 'I see… so that's how it is…' She turned her body and charges straight ahead, 'I'm sorry… Somehow, I have forgotten… Things I hold most important…'
She pushes out of the sphere of magic, the second last remaining of the seven kin, Asuma was shocked of the feat. "W-Wha…?-!"
'It's not that I was protecting everyone…' Erza thought, 'I was the one being protected!' She readies her sword to strike the final blow.
Asuma tries to block her with the large tree roots of the great tree, only to have five swords appearing out of the sphere, the Sky Rider, Earth Breaker, White Day, Inferno and Motor Knight, they all slices through them with ease, 'I should have control of the magic of Tenroujima, and yet it's protecting her?-!' He thought in shock, 'Faith… Their true strength lies not in each [Individual], but their [Sum]… What a guild…'
"Amazing…" Asuma last words were said as Erza strikes at Asuma, slicing a horizontal slash at his chest and the root he was standing on as well. He falls down into the pit, Erza, exhausted and drained, falls after him and lands on the ground below. The five swords vanish as fast as they appear. On the ground, Asuma's body is sprouting trees' saplings.
"It's the side effect from overusing a Lost Magic." He stated, "It seems I overdid the limits too long. Just as I promised, I'll return everyone's magic power to them."
Erza looked down, "Do you know a man named Jellal?"
"Yeah, the man that overthrown the previous Magic Council, a man obsessed with the idea that Zeref's ghost exists and lost all sense and reason, a sad man who walks the path of Nihilism." Asuma said, "Is he important to you?"
Erza looked away, "He is, once."
"I'm sorry." He apologized, "I think this was all Ultear's doing… a plan that would take eight years' time, just to get the council to temporary turn its eyes away from us. A truly frightening person, a person who Master Hades trusts more than any other."
"Why are you after Zeref so badly?" She asked.
"One Magic." He explained, "To get closer to the original source of all magic."
"Source of all magic…?" Asuma's face starts to sprout trees as well, "And what's going to happen if you managed to get your hands on it?-!" She asked.
"Jellal dreamt of a 'Paradise'." He said, "We…" Erza tries to get back up and get to him, but is unable due to exhaustion. He never did told her their true goal, and he turned into a group of trees, "One Magic…" She muttered.
Back with Natsu and the rest, they recovered their lost magic powers, Len too came back to the waking world, "Our magic power… is back…" He muttered.
"I don't get it but we got our strength back!" Natsu cheered.
"What happened just then?" Carla wonders.
"Maybe because we are hungry?" Happy suggested.
"That's very unlikely…" The white cat dead-panned at the happy-go-lucky nature of her fellow Exceed.
Lucy then noticed Len's strained expression, "Is something wrong, Len-niisan?" She asked him.
"Ah! N-No, it's nothing…" Len's mind goes back to Erza's fight, Asuma explains to them about their real reason for finding Zeref, the source of all magic, One Magic. 'One Magic…? It's just like Bluenote stated… But where have I heard that before…?'
"Hey, Len!" Natsu called to him.
"Are you okay? You're spacing out for a moment there." The fire dragon slayer stated.
"N-Nothing, I'm fine, really." He said, "Just thinking about something. Come on, we need to hurry to the camp."
The rest all followed the blonde with the injured Master, the sister kept looking at her twin brother worriedly.
They arrived at the campsite, only to find more injured members, mainly Mirajane, Elfman, Gajeel and Evergreen. Rustyrose lay nearby beaten unconscious courtesy of Freed and Bickslow, "Hey now, you're kidding me, right…?" Natsu said in shock.
"Gajeel… even Mira-san…" Lucy muttered.
"I'll start healing them with my magic immediately!" Wendy said.
"I appreciate that, but it would be impossible to heal this many." Lisanna tells her.
"And besides, I think you've overused your magic today. You should rest for a while." Carla added on.
"I think so too." Happy said.
"So, Master and Cana are injured as well…" Freed muttered.
"Just what is going on here…?" Bickslow muttered.
"I wonder if Erza made it out alright…" Len muttered.
"Eh? Nii-san…?" Lucy said in shock.
"What is it?"
"You called Erza by her name…" She pointed out.
"Now that I think about it, he always refer to her as Titania." Happy said, "Maybe during that trip, they…"
"No, we didn't!" He cried blushing.
"You liiiiiiiiiiike her…" Natsu imitates Happy.
"Shut up!" He shouted, "I just felt we are connected, that's all. Since we have the same pain of losing a loved one…"
They all kept quiet, a bit guilty of pulling out a painful memory for him. Lily decides to change the direction of the conversation, "Grimoire Heart's battleship is currently in the east of us at sea. How about we split into two teams for now?"
"An [Attack] team and a [Defense] team…" Levy stated.
Len looked up into the sky, somehow feeling that something is not right. It's like the rain is trying warn him of an epidemic, "Len-san…" Mei walks to him, "Do you think Vonca-nii is alright?"
"Yeah… I hope so…"
Meanwhile, Vonca is flying in the sky with his lone black wing, "Where are you, Ultear…?" He muttered worriedly. He recalled his conversation with her a few hours before they reach Tenroujiuma:
The man turned around, a black long haired woman with sharp black eyes in a white outfit walks up to him, her name is Ultear, the leader of the Seven Kin, "Ultear." He greeted.
"We're about to reach Tenroujima soon." She tells him.
"I see." He muttered.
The two looked at the clouds moving past them for a while, enjoying each other's presence, "Ultear."
"What is it?"
"What do you plan to do when you capture Zeref?" He asked.
"I guess I can't escape your intuition after all." She chuckled, "Let's see now… I might as well put him as king, and then complete my Time Ark… After that… I'm not sure… What about you? What do you intend to do after getting your sister's revenge?"
"God knows…" Vonca said, "I never thought of it before…"
"Well, I can let you go out with me in the Great Magic World." Ultear joked.
"I'll consider it." Vonca joked. His face then turned serious, "Let's stop joking, Ultear."
"What, too much for you?" Ultear said. At that moment, Vonca pulls her closer and kissed her on the lip. The time mage widen her eyes in shock, before returning the kiss and they even deepened it with their tongues playing around. They separated for air, Ultear blushing red, "Vonca…?"
"Ultear… I know I can't afford much… but after all of this, w-would you… marry me…?"
Ultear blinked for a moment, before bursting out in laughter, "Is this some kind of new joke?"
She stopped laughing, looking at him, "Hm… That depends…"
"Then I'll wait." He said.
"Hahaha, you're a clever little joker." She laughed as she walked away, Vonca staring at the entrance to the balcony.
The fallen angel mage flew above the forest, 'Ultear… I know you only think of getting completing the Arc of Time… but…' He clenched his fists, 'I know deep down, you're a kind person…'
He thought back to the time that he was shown the past of his once dead sister and how she never blamed Len even in death, 'Ultear, I'm going to get you out of that black hole.'
He then turned to the place at the swamps, sensing magic energy that he knows that is her, "Ultear!" He flew down like a bullet, moving past the trees and to a clearing, seeing that Ultear just about strikes at the half-naked Gray with countless metal orbs floating above the ice mage.
"Flash Forward!" She shouted as the hundreds of orbs flashes down at Gray. Vonca manages to make it in time and slices through all the balls with his sword, "V-Vonca…?"
"Who are you?-!" Gray shouted, "Don't get in our way!"
"Enough, Ultear…" Vonca tells her, "Stop this senseless fighting."
"What are you saying, Vonca?-!" She cried, "You know that I can't stop! Especially when I'm this close!"
"Then more the reason for me to stop you." Vonca said, "I have enough… There's no need for revenge. When Zeref became king, there's no guarantee that the Arc of Time would be complete. Besides, time won't rewind for anyone. So please, stop this senseless need for revenge against your mother! Also, I don't think that your mothe-"
"I'm really disappointed, Vonca." Ultear muttered angrily, "You dare to double-cross me?-! Well you can die with the others that stood against me!" She releases more balls around him, "Perish!" The balls all smashes towards Vonca. The fallen angel mage inhales, and within the next second, all the balls are cut right through, his sword still in its sheathe.
"I thought we can talk about this…" Vonca muttered, a small tear flows down his cheek, "No matter… If you won't stop by words, then I'll do it with force!" He dashes towards at Ultear, and slashes his sword against Ultear's own. She easily twists her body and sends him crashing onto the ground.
"What's the matter?" She asked smugly, "I thought you are better than this. After all, you're the one that slaughtered an entire army for the sake of your magic."
'An entire army?-!' Gray thought in shock.
"Even so…" He got up with his sword as support, feeling the spot where Len's attack hits hard, "I…"
"You can get lost…" She ended as she released whole hordes of metal balls flinging straight at him, hitting him in every way possible. He falls down on the ground grunting from the wounds the balls inflicted on him.
"Ultear…" Vonca struggles to get up, "Your…mother… isn't as cruel as she seems… There is no parent in this world that doesn't care for her own child…"
"Shut up!" Ultear strikes more metal balls at him, "Don't sprout more nonsense!"
"I'm telling the truth!" He shouted, back up on his feet, "My parents are divorced, but they still cares for me and my sister. That's why-"
"I said shut up!" Ultear releases even more metal balls at him. Gray was fast enough to stop her at mid chant by striking a fist at her, she easily dodged it and twists her legs around the ice mage and sends him crashing against a wall.
"He's…right, you know…" Gray grunted as he got back up, "Ur… is always thinking about you…"
"Going for a fist fight since your ice magic is useless?" Ultear chuckled.
"You're an ice mage…?" Vonca panted.
"Then you're in a disadvantage here." He tells him, "Ultear's magic, Arc of Time, has the ability to turn time forward or backward, the only problem that it won't work on living things, animals only though. Your ice would only evaporate or melts to her."
"Even so… I believe in Ur's magic." Gray sprung out an ice spike on his right hand.
"You cannot defeat me with ice." Ultear snickered, "Molding Magic will be of no use to you at all."
But to her surprise, he strikes his own side with the spike; the blood leaking out of him is gathered in the ice, "Your darkness…" He muttered, "I will…seal it…"
Without a second word, he dashes forward towards Ultear with the spike, "I told you, ice won't work!" She prepares to speed time, but the ice moved past her magic and slices her shoulder, "Time… won't move…?-!" She was put to the mercy of Gray's constant barging of ice spikes.
"I was told you can't move time of living things, right?"
She then realized, 'Red ice?-! Could it that he… froze his own blood?-!'
"Ice Blade: Seven Slice Dance!"
The final move strikes her down, she tumbling from the sheer strength of his power, 'Despite the torn flesh and broken bones…' She thought in shock, 'What tenacity… Even so…' An image of a young version of her crying behind a tree in a snowy forest, 'Even so, I…' She took a new stance, similar to Gray's when conjuring magic, '…cannot lose!'
"T-That stance!" He cried.
'Not until… I reach the Great World of Magic!'
"Ice Make: Rosen Corone (Crown of Roses)!" She releases a series of ice roses and vines that sends Gray flying; Vonca is caught in the cross-fire and sent backwards onto the wall hard, 'This is… Ur's magic…!' He cried.
Gray collapsed on the ground hard, just as the ice rose garden slowly disappears, "I never thought that I'll be seeing it again…Ur's magic…" He muttered as he got up. That sentence seems to get on Ultear's nerves, "I should have expected it… After all, you share the same blood as her…"
"SHUT UP!" Ultear fires another rose garden at him; Gray leaped off one of the vine and tackles her head on, the two tumbling down the slope, "What happened to you that made you this way?-!" He shouted, "Why are you doing this?-!"
"I said shut up!" She shouted back, "As if someone like you would understand!-!"
The two splashes into the ocean below them, as Ultear remember the time that she was brought to the facility that runs illegal experiments on her. After she managed to escape her prison, she ran back to find her mother, only to find that she has forsaken her for Lyon and Gray. That leads to her hatred for her mother that caused her to go back to the facility to gain power in order to kill her mother, and one thing leads to another and she eventually ended on the Gimoire Heart as the wielder of the Arc of Time, which Hades explained that is incomplete currently and if it is complete, can go back time to recover what she have lost.
'I did this…So that I could fix everything.' She mentally shouted, 'To change my cursed existence into a life where I can find happiness…' She and Gray fires their ice magic at each other, 'I will complete the Great Magic World!-!'
Ultear's eye widen in shock, 'What was that voice…?' She turned around, and Gray took that chance to kick her in the head.
"Please, help me!"
'There it is again…!'
"This child is born with far too much magical power!"
'What is this…? Memories of my mother…?'
"All that magical power is too much for her little body, she's burning up with a fever!" Ur cried.
"We have a special facility for cases like this. She can get treated there." The doctor tells her.
'Why am I seeing this now…?' Ultear thought, 'Ur melted away at Galuna Island and was washed away into the ocean…' she then realized, 'The ocean… am I… inside my mother…?'
"She died?-!" Ur cried, "What do you mean she died?-!"
"I'm sorry, but we did the best we could." The surgeons there tell her, "You best be not looking at the corpse. It's really bad."
"That's impossible…" Tears flow down her cheeks, "Give her back! Give me back Ultear!-!"
'It's different what I remembered…'
She then noticed Gray charging up from an attack, "Ice Make: Gungnir!" He encased her in the tip of a large spear and launching her up above the sea surface, leaving only her head and limps exposed. Gray too floats up to the surface, "Ur once told me a story about you… she only ever told it one time, but I remember it."
"When that girl was born… I felt a light shining into my heart. And I dreamed of the bright hopeful future ahead of her. I was so happy then. In her tiny body, holds the future of infinite possibilities. The power of 'Life'… I couldn't stop my tears from overflowing… This child is proof that I lived… My beloved Ultear…"
'I wanted to go to the Great Magic World… and return myself to the time before I hated my mother…' Ultear sobbed as she fell out of the ice spear, 'What I really wanted… is to be with my mother one more time… And… to fall in love another time…' She dropped into the hands of the one winged mage, the black wing flaps on to keep the two airborne.
"Ultear…" Vonca muttered.
"Vonca…" Ultear turned away, "I'm sorry… You were right all along…" She touched his face tenderly, "Does it still hurt…?"
"I'll be fine." He assures her.
She looked down, her face with a small blush, "Vonca… about that proposal…" She muttered.
"What about it?"
"D-Do you think… that Meredy would mind you as a father…?"
He blushed redly at that comment. "Hahaha… who knows…?" He laughed slightly, "But… I'm glad that I'll spend my life with you in the end…"
"Me too…" She smiled.
"Oi oi, can you two stop with the love-love atmosphere?" Gray groaned.
They got to shore, where Gray is wrapping his shirt around his wound, "My fight is over…" Ultear said.
"But mine is far from over…" Gray muttered as he walked away.
"You can't win against Hades in that state." Vonca tells him.
"I know." Gray said, "It'd be impossible for me alone."
The lightning strikes across the air, thunder boomed signaling the arrival of the final battle against Grimoire Heart.