After a couple of hours Jellal made his way back to the market, towards the spot he instructed Natsu and Gajeel to wait for him. When he arrived he saw the two teens sitting by waiting for him. They seemed to have gotten along quite well, talking about the girls, and what they would do once they found them. Natsu ultimately realizing he did not know where to go even if he did find Lucy, and Gajeel still wondering why he had tagged along with Natsu and Jellal in the first place. He thought that maybe it had to do with them freeing him, at least the second time around, since the first time was technically Natsu's fault. But when they saw Jellal the two of them leapt to their feet to greet him.
"I have good news," Jellal told him as he walked towards them. "A reliable source has confirmed that the girls were taken from the bandits by Magnolian soldiers. So, we don't have to worry too much about them or how to find them when the time comes."
"So it's simple then," Natsu said without hesitation. "We make our way to Magnolia and find them. Simple as that."
"No, not simple as that," Jellal told him. "We need to go to Niviti first."
"What? Why?" Natsu whined in protest. "Lucy is on her way to Magnolia and we need to get there to save her."
Natsu wasn't too happy to hear that they would have to wait to find the girls. He wanted to find Lucy, and he wanted to get to her as quickly as possible. He remembered that Jellal brought up Nivit before, but the pink haired teen was beginning to grow impatient.
"If Lucy and the others are with Magnolian soldiers than they are in safe hands," Jellal said. "Even if they find out Lucy's true identity, Magnolia is a safe place for her; free of slave trade and honorable soldiers that would never touch a girl of noble birth. No harm will befall any of the girls I can assure you. I should know, I've had my fair share of encounters with soldiers from Magnolia in the past, and their leader, Makrov, is a highly respectable man."
"Still, why are we traveling all the way to Nivit when the girls are in Magnolia," Natsu whined. "It's out of our way."
"Have you forgotten that there is a Draconan child, same as you, that resides in Nivit?" Jellal snapped. "We have to go there to warn them of Duke and Ivan's plans. If we don't, than who knows what will happen. We don't have to worry about the girls for now, as long as they're in Magnolia, the part where we insure that they're safe is over. Now, we have to put all our focus on warning Nivit."
"All right," Natsu sighed in distaste. "So when do we leave for Nivit?"
"Tomorrow, at high noon," Jellal told him. "I have arranged for us to take a ship there. And don't worry," Jellal said as he took a step forward and placed a reassuring hand on the boy's shoulder, "sailing is the fastest way to get to Nivit, and the sooner we're done there, the sooner we can head for Magnolia to Lucy and Erza."
"And Levy," Gajeel grumbled biting his fingernails. Both Jellal and Natsu gazed at him quizzically. "What?" he grumbled leering at the two of them. "Have you forgotten that there were three of them when we left Konvern?"
"It's not that," Jellal said shaking his head.
"Yeah, when did you start caring so much for the princess's handmaiden?" Natsu teased.
"I don't," Gajeel scoffed. "She helped me out in the dungeons back in Konvern, and it's because of her I was able to help save your precious princess's life. So maybe you might want to be a bit more considerate of that handmaiden. We all owe her a debt; you, me, Jellal, the princess," Gajeel stood up angrily. "So, maybe we should have as much respect for her as we do the others."
Without uttering another word Gajeel left the two of them behind, frustrated. Both Natsu and Jellal were equally started and confused, as they watched Gajeel walk back to the hotel. Natsu had never seen Gajeel get so frustrated over something before, especially over someone other than himself. He folded his arms across his chest as he wondered what they had said to anger the black haired Draconan so much. Natsu turned to Jellal, his bewildered expression still on his face as the young noble simply shrugged; he was just as confused by the whole scenario as Natsu was.
The next day the three of them made their way to the docks by the harbor. They looked around, seeing nothing more than a crowd of sailors and crewmen bustling around, carrying cargo and traveling to their designated ships. Jellal peered around trying to locate the ship that he was told to meet Cobra at. After a good twenty minutes of wondering they finally managed to spot Cobra standing in front of a small ship at the far end of the docks. It was a weary old vessel that had seen far better days. Jellal looked at it with a bit of disappointment, yet Natsu gazed upon it with splendor. He had never seen a ship before, yet the sight of one made the boy that much more excited to set sail.
"Mystogon," Cobra said as he stepped forward with open arms, "it's good to see you my friend."
"Mystogon?" Natsu asked confusedly as he turned to Jellal.
"It's a fake name I use to hide my identity," Jellal whispered to him. "Believe it or not, as a noble, people tend to remember names, and I didn't feel obliged to give a slave trader mine."
"I see," Natsu said nodding his head. "So then, what's my name?"
"No, what's my fake name?" Natsu whispered.
"You don't have one."
"Why do you need one?"
"Well, if you get one than I want one," Natsu whined.
"Fine then come up with one yourself," Jellal sighed.
After Jellal and Natsu's argument, the three of them made their way up the docks towards Cobra. The young man awaited for them eagerly, and once they were in front of him, Cobra held up his hand for them to stop. Cobra eyed both Gajeel and Natsu carefully, more so with a sinister glare, trying to determine whether or not he could trust the two of them. But after a few moments he looked back up to Jellal, a snide smirk across his lips.
Both Natsu and Gajeel leered back. The black haired Draconan folded his arms across his chest, not allowing himself to be stared down by a complete stranger. Natsu just kept his eyes on the man. There was something about him that he didn't like, but at the same time, there was something about him that seemed familiar. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but the boy had a strange aurora about him that felt similar to Natsu, Gajeels and the other two dragon boys he met in the castle tower.
"So, these two are the companions you were telling me about?" he said as his eyes fell back onto Natsu. "Good to meet ya," he said extending his hand to Natsu, to which the boy took it in his own and shook it.
"That's Natsu, and I'm Gajeel," the black haired Draconan grunted, as he extended his own hand forward.
"Well, good to meet you two," Cobra said placing his hands in his pockets before walking up the boardwalk to the ship. "All right, let's get ready to set sail everyone!" he shouted.
Natsu glared over at Gajeel, a bit annoyed that the black haired boy had ruined his chances of coming up with his own name. Now Cobra knew who he was. Though the black haired Draconan just shrugged it off and followed Cobra up the boardwalk. Natsu was just about to shout at him, but he felt himself being pulled back by Jellal who had an annoyed glare in his eye.
"Could you guys not fight until after we take off?" he sighed irritably. "That way we don't get thrown off before we even have a chance to set sail?"
"Fine," Natsu grumbled.
Both he and Jellal made their way up to the brink of the ship, stepping on board. It was a rather large ship, with two masses with egg white sails that frolicked in the breeze, waiting to be carried out by the brush of the sea air. A top the mass waved a gray flag with the gold embroidery of Oracion Seis. Though other than that, it looked like any other ship.
Natsu took a few steps on board before he felt an overwhelming sense of nausea overtake him as he collapsed to the ground.
"What's wrong with you?" Jellal asked as he peered back at the young man.
"I feel," Natsu gulped, "I feel sick."
"That's just sea sickness," Jellal told him. "You'll get over it soon."
"Oh," Natsu gulped as he fell face first to the floor boards, "kill me now."
Jellal just rolled his eyes as he continued to walk towards the cabins to get situated when he noticed that Gajeel was also lying face down on the deck, sulking in a sickly manner similar to Natsu. Crewmen and sailors walked by laughing at the two of them, shouting taunting insults about how the two of them couldn't even handle their sea legs before the ship set sail. Jellal's eyes darted back and forth between the two of them as he rubbed his forehead irritably.
"You have got to be kidding me," Jellal sighed. "This is going to be a long voyage isn't it?"
"Shut . . . shut up," Gajeel grumbled.
"So, what's wrong them?" Cobra asked through a smirk as he raised an eyebrow at Jellal.
"A lot of things, but this is a first," Jellal sighed folding his arms across his chest.
"Well, if they're going to start getting sick tell them to take it over side of the ship," Cobra grumbled. "I don't want my men to be constantly cleaning vomit off the deck."
"I understand," Jellal said as he watched Cobra turned to leave. The young man appeared to be aggravated, but ultimately he was being lenient.
Jellal thought about it for a moment, but reluctantly, he walked over to Gajeel and helped carry the young Draconan down to a cabin to sleep it off. After he had settled Gajeel down, he did the same for Natsu. Both of them were in terrible shape, the worse seasickness Jellal had ever seen, but then again he didn't take too many trips out to sea. But the boys were a pale white, their cheeks flushing a shade of green as they struggled just to breath
Jellal sat there with the two of them, as both of them whined about wanting to be taken off the ship and returning back to land, but Jellal rejected the idea. After all, the ship had set sail and it was only a few day's ride before they got to Nivit. It was more important to insure the safety of the Draconan child than it was for the two of them to not feel sick, at least that's what Jellal told them. He knew they couldn't allow Duke and Ivan to get their hands on the young boy or girl, otherwise who knows what could happen.
Lucy had to admit, she was having the most fun she had in a long time. She couldn't remember the last time she was surrounded by so many friendly faces and welcoming people, not since she was just a small girl visting the lake with Natsu and Gildarts. The last place she visiting was where Mira decided to leave her and Levy. She sat at a booth with a large, muscular, grizzly man with long white hair that turned out to be Mira's brother, Elfman. Next to him sat a young girl around Lucy's age that had short white hair that turned out to be Mira's younger sister, Lisanna. On the other side of Elfman was a woman with long amber hair, green eyes and glasses named Evergreen. It wasn't until they were ten minutes into their conversation that she soon discovered that Elfman and Evergreen were married.
Even Levy and Erza were getting in on the fun. Erza spent her time conversing with the soldiers that drank at the bar, while Levy sat next to Lucy. The group talked about the city, Lucy wanting to learn everything about Magnolia. She asked about what sites she should visit, whether she and Levy should visit the beach, and everything. They talked for hours, and even Gray was there drinking at the bar, but mostly kept to himself.
Gildarts watched from his seat as he noticed his daughter was drinking heavily again. No big surprise really. By now the young girl could probably out drink her father. In a way he was proud of her, though he knew that perhaps he should be conscious about her habit. But, as long as she wasn't doing anything rash or embarrassing, he would just let her be herself. But now, it was getting late, as he watched the sun set through the windows from above, while Kinana walked about the pub lighting torches and candles that laid throughout the room.
Cana managed to slip away from her father, and sluggishly made her way over to the table where Lucy and the others were sitting. She grabbed a bottle of wine that was sitting on counter before she slugged her way over. Gildarts hadn't noticed her as his attention was focused on watching the young Kinana. When he finally turned back around, he noticed that Cana was gone, but by then it was too late.
"Hey, so you're Lucy right?" Cana said as she slammed her hand on the table, startling everyone. "My father's told me so much about you," she said with a drunken smile. Lucy was a bit nervous around this girl, but she was more curious as to who this new girl was. "It's nice to finally meet you."
"Uhm, who are you are?" Lucy asked as she stared at Cana with a blank stare. Cana gazed at her with a wide smirk, giggling to herself as she took a swig of wine from the bottle.
"The names Cana," she laughed. "I'm Gildart's daughter."
"Daughter?!" Lucy gasped perplexed as her eyes went wide. Everyone else at the table just chuckled to themselves. "I didn't know that Gildart's had a daughter."
"Yeah, well," she said sliding into the seat next to the blonde, shoving Levy over; the small girl scowling at her as she did so, "it was kind of a recent thing. But I've heard so much about you and your friend Natsu. And speaking of the Natsu, where is he?" Her eyes peering around the pub half expecting to spot a new face belonging to a young man she hadn't met before. Though she grew disappointed when she couldn't find a man fitting that description.
"Natsu isn't with us," Lucy sighed.
"We got split up in Konvern," Levy continued for the blonde, seeing how distraught Lucy had become. "Unfortunately, we don't know what happened to the others. There was also another member of our group, Gajeel, who captured and taken away by the same slave traders Gray saved us from.
"Oh, well sorry to hear that," she hiccupped before taking another chug of wine. "I heard that you and Natsu were really close. And I mean really close." A sly smirk slid across her lips as she winked at Lucy.
Elfman just shook his head, as did Evergreen, neither of them approving. The two of them knew that Cana enjoyed teasing and picking on people at the pub, usually when she's drunk, and right now they could see that Lucy was getting a bit embarrassed by it all. Though they knew she meant no harm by it, they could see that Lucy was starting to get a bit nervous. Lisana wanted to say something to stop Cana, but she was enjoying watching Lucy get all flustered too much.
"Yeah, we were good friends," Lucy said shyly, as a light blush crossed her cheeks. She bit her lip as she turned her eyes away from the drunk brunette.
"Just friends eh?" Cana teased, leaning so close to Lucy that Levy was being squished into the seat cushion behind her. Cana was only inches away from Lucy's face as she took another swig of her bottle. "That's not what I heard. I heard you two were closer than just friends. Like," she began to kiss the top of the bottle, a gesture that utterly humiliated the blonde. Cana couldn't help but laugh at herself as she choked down another mouthful of wine.
"So, who's Natsu?" Lisanna said slyly as she leaned forward towards Lucy. She had the same expression as Cana in her eyes that made Lucy get a bit more flustered.
"Her lover apparently," Cana said as she fell back to her own seat. Levy gasped for a breath of air as she was finally freed.
"What?! No, it's nothing like that!" Lucy said trying to wave it off.
"What are you talking about Miss Lucy?" Levy teased as she too garnered a sinister smirk. "I caught you and Natsu exchanging kisses back in Konvern."
"Levy!" Lucy yelped in embarrassment, but that only made the young handmaiden's smirk grow even wider.
Lucy could feel her face flushing to a deep crimson red as she buried herself in her hands. She knew that they were right, but the mere fact they were teasing her was too much for her to bear. She could hear everyone around the table giggling, that was all except Elfman who just watched in amusement. She could see Levy laughing out of the corner of her eye, and though she wanted to be upset, she couldn't help but laugh herself.
"So, kissing," Lisanna chuckled as she rested her cheek on the palm of her hand. "You two must be serious. Was he the one that gave you that dragon pennant around your neck as well?"
Lucy looked down, realizing that she was clutching onto the necklace Natsu had given her when they were younger. It always brought her comfort, and she hadn't even noticed that she was caressing it in her palm. At this point it was just a force of habit, yet it still brought a certain amount of solace to the young girl.
"Yes he did," she said smiling at Lisanna. "It was a gift from a very long time ago."
"Ah," Lisanna moaned, "how cute."
Lucy blushed a bit more as she watched the white haired girl giggling at her. She smiled to herself as she let the pennant drop back into her bosom. Levy could see Lucy becoming a bit more comfortable as she nudged her friend with her elbow, grinning widely at her.
"So, have you two sealed the deal yet?" Cana asked.
"What?" Lucy asked confused by the question.
"Have the two of you slept together yet?" Cana muttered as the sly smirk returned to her lips.
Lucy felt her heart stop beating in her chest as her face returned to the same crimson red even darker than it was before. She didn't know how to answer that question, though the more accurate thing to say was that she didn't know if she wanted to respond to that question at all. She stuttered nervously, darting her eyes away from everyone while Levy scowled at Cana knowing that such a question was inappropriate to be asking the blonde. Though she had to admit, she was kind of curious herself. Even Lisanna and the others at the table stared at Lucy with earnest interest. Lucy could see everyone staring at her from the corner of her eye, the sight of which just made the girl that much more uncomfortable.
"Cana, what did I tell you about being nice?" Gildarts said as he folded his arms across his chest leering down at his daughter with an annoyed glare. She smiled at him awkwardly, pretending to be innocent. She was far to drunk to even sit up right and had to catch herself from tumbling over in her seat.
"I'm being nice," Cana pouted.
Gildarts stared her down, as he could see Lucy was still blushing like mad. He sighed to himself as he scratched the back of his head. He wasn't really sure how to deal with situations like this. Soldiers and combat he could handle, but women were another breed entirely. He guessed there were just some things men were not meant to understand in this world, and teenage girls were one of them.
"You know, it's getting late," Evergreen interjected finally breaking the tension. "Why don't you girls go home? In fact, I think we all should."
"Good idea, come on Lisanna," Elfman said as he followed his wife out of the booth, brushing past Gildarts. Lisanna sighed, she wanted to stay a bit longer, but she sighed as she too left the table, leaving Lucy and Levy alone with Cana. "You guys have a good night."
"See you tomorrow, Cana," Lisanna said, smiling as she followed her brother and sister-in-law. "I hope to see you and Levy around more too, Lucy. It's been fun."
"Yeah, I hope so too," Lucy stuttered nervously. She was still feeling a bit mortified by Cana's question, though her face had regained some of it's normal color by now. "You guys have a good night."
"Well come on then princess," Cana said grabbing Lucy's hand and pulling her out of the booth. "Let's get you home then."
"W-w-wait," Lucy cried as Cana pushed her way pass Gildarts.
"Wait for me," Levy called after them as she rushed up from her seat.
Erza turned around as she heard the sudden commotion arise from behind her. Upon seeing Lucy being dragged away by Cana, and Levy's desperate run after them, she sighed to herself, placed her mug down on the table and followed them as well. She ran after them, making sure that she caught up just as they walked through the pub's door.
Gildarts exhaled a deep breath as he fell down into the booth seat where the girls were sitting. He rubbed his forehead knowing that he should have done something to stop Cana from dragging Lucy away. He shook his head wondering what he was going to do about the trouble his daughter was starting. He knew she didn't do it out of spite, or to be mean spirited. It was just eh way she was, and ultimately he had to admit it was something that he loved about her. Even though it did cause him headaches.
"Is everything all right Gildarts?" he heard Kinana ask as the barmaid walked by holding an empty platter at her waist.
"Not sure," Gildarts groaned, opening an eye to see the purple haired girl standing over him. A look of worry dawned on her face. "
Meanwhile, Konvern was in disarray. Duke dealt with the struggles of trying to maintain control of the kingdom. The people were already plotting against him, and he knew it. If it was not for Ivan's control over the other nobles, chaos would have erupted throughout the land. His numbers from Konvern soldiers were already thin, and many had even decided to desert their post claiming they do not serve him and would never bow to the man that extinguished the true king.
He sat in his chambers pondering what he should do about the whole situation. He thought that maybe once his soldiers arrived he would force the deserters into submission, but Ivan advised against it. According to him, all Duke needed to do was wait for his armies to arrive. There were still a good amount of soldiers that remained, though it was about half the original amount. He could still use them to enlarge his own military units.
He was growing impatient, his army still had not arrived from his home country yet, and he wanted nothing more than to march onto Nivit. It would be a great way for him to release some of the bottle up anger he had stored deep down in his gut. That and he had grown more and more infuriated when he had learned that they had allied with Magnolia, and a couple other nations, during a council meeting. There were even rumors that they were going to strike him first; wipe out his fleet before they even had a chance to get organized, but so far there had not been any hostilities just yet.
His advisors kept pestering him about why he was so eager to invade Nivit, and ultimately he did not have an answer for them. He knew that there was the Draconan child there, one of the dragon children that he could use militarily. Though his council advised him not pursuing going after the girl. They had emphasized that Konvern and Junelle may not be prepared for all out war just yet. And truth be told, he was starting to believe them.
Duke grunted to himself as he collapsed into his council chair that overlooked the forest of the kingdom. He rubbed his temples as he stared out the window. It was in that moment that Ivan entered through the doorway, a large sly grin on his lips as he greeted the young king.
"Your Grace," he said holding his arms up high, "how are you this morning?"
"How do you think I am?" Duke spat as he stood up out of his chair, knocking it over. "I have half the country that wants to oust me, barely any soldiers, and an economy that went down the shitter all in one day because of the damn slave rebellion!"
"You need to relax," Ivan told him. "When your armies arrive than you can make your move. Nivit won't be easy to sack, especially not when they have the support of several other kingdoms behind them."
"Yet even with all those other kingdoms supporting them, they won't be able to resist my military advance," Duke chuckled. "But answer me this Ivan. Why are you so focused on taking Nivit? I understand that it is closer, it has good resources and there is a dragon child there, but so what? What difference would it make?"
"Ah, I see," Ivan said with a grin, though deep down he couldn't help but think the young king was just a fool, "well allow me to explain. We had four of the five known dragon children in our hands," he said holding up an open palm to Duke. "Now we have none," he closed it into a ball, letting his hand drop to the side. "You understand the power that a dragon posses? These children are the closest we have to a weapon of similar strength. They could eradicate armies if give the chance, and as long as they're not within our control, they pose a threat. Especially to you and your conquest."
"Well that's a good point," Duke admitted. "Do we know where they are currently?"
"Other than the Nivit child, the two other boys we had locked in the tower have moved out West," Ivan said rubbing his chin. "All I've heard is that two young men have been traveling around ransacking almost every town the go through. Some say they were breathing fire; one with blonde hair, the other black. So, easy to assume it's them. Unfortunately," Ivan grunted, "nobodies been able to follow them, and now I have no idea where they could be. But it seems that they'll stay out of our way if any conflict arises."
"And what of Natsu, Jellal or Lucy?" Duke said, hissing the names as they slid off of his tongue. "Have you heard any word about them?"
"No, no I haven't," Ivan said shaking his head.
"Damn," Duke cursed under his breath as he looked away.
"Well, your Grace, I must be getting back to work, I just came by to inform you that your army is only about a week away at this point; maybe closer. There is no other news other than that to report," Ivan told him.
"Thank you Ivan," Duke said as he stood up and walked over to the window. "If that's everything than you can go. I know you have your own matters dealing with this filth of a country, I don't need to delay you any further."
"Thank you, your Grace," Ivan said bowing his head.
With that he took his leave, exiting out of the chamber. Standing outside near the door, wearing his black cloak was Kurohebi. Ivan said nothing to him as he continued to walk down the stone corridor. Kurohebi sighed as he followed his master.
"What did you tell him?" Kurohebi asked.
"Nothing," Ivan answered, keeping his eyes forward. "At least nothing important."
"Nothing about the princess?" Kurohebi asked.
"No, of course not," Ivan murmured. He stopped for a brief moment, as Kurohebi stopped right behind him. The cloaked man raising an eyebrow as he watched Ivan took in a deep breath. In a startling instant, Ivan wrapped his hand around Kurohebi's neck and pinned him against the wall. "It seems that my friends at Oracion Seis are completely unreliable. I told them precisely where they could pick up the girl and they completely blow it. How could you let this happen?" Ivan growled as he clutched his fingers tightly around his subordinate's neck.
"I'm sorry my Lord," Kurohebi wheezed. "I did precisely as you instructed. It was the Magnolia soldiers. They were the ones that saved the girl. I led them to the spot and they had the girl in hand. I am sorry my Lord."
"You pitiful fool," Ivan snarled as he threw Kurohebi to the ground, releasing his grip. The man wheezed, grasping at his throat as he stared at the enraged Ivan with a pleading gaze. "As long as Lucy is still alive and unsoiled she still posses a threat. The people of Konvern love her, even the dirty peasants. She's the entire reason why the country refuses to bow down to Duke. And that is putting a pretty big damper on our plans."
"I am sorry my Lord," Kurohebit begged. "What do you want me to do?"
Ivan leaned down, glowering at Kurohebi. "I want you to go to Magnolia, I want you to insure that our plans can continue onwards without any problems. Is that clear?"
"Ye- yes, my Lord," Kurohebi squeaked, his eyes still wide with freight.
"Good," Ivan snarled, standing back up to his feet. "Now get going, I have work to do."