The day had finally come as Ivan made his way swiftly down one of the dark stone corridors before entering King Duke's personal chambers. When he opened the doors he found the young lord sitting in his chair, staring out the window lost in thought.
"What is it Ivan?" Duke mumbled through shallow breath as he kept his eyes a gaze out into the forested wilderness below.
"Your Grace," Ivan said in a tone of splendor. "Your army has just arrived outside the city and they are ready to greet you at your command."
"Finally, a bit of good news," Duke sighed as he stood upright from his seat. His eyes lingered on Ivan for a bit, as the older noble could see that the gray dullness that had filled the young king's eyes. He was not the same as he had been before, something was changing him, like he appeared more hollow and empty. In a quick pace he glided past Ivan as he made his way down the hallway. "Sound the guards and prepare the men, we ride out immediately. I can't stand another minute in this shit hole."
It didn't take more than a couple of hours, King Duke was dressed in his own kingly armor, including the insignia of his home country inscribed on his breastplate. A green cap dangled off of his shoulders, as well as green ribbons and braids along his gauntlets. A helmet fashioned to look like a stag's head with iron antlers was placed upon his crown.
Ivan sat on a horse adjacent to the young king. However, he did not wear any armor, or any battle gear. Instead he wore his same purple noble robes as he had always done. He was not a soldier, nor did he plan on engaging in any of the military conflict that he knew was going to arise. Instead, he would continue to serve as advisor to the king, and only as an advisor.
When Duke was finally dressed he rode out to area in which his army was waiting for him. He came upon a hill and looked down into the once barren grassy basin to see ten thousand, armed and ready soldiers standing in the field awaiting his command. The banners of the Junelle kingdom hung and blew in the wind as far as the eye could see, until they appeared to be nothing more than green stick in the distance. Rows of men stood in companies of twenty at attention.
"Your army, your Grace," Ivan said as he waved his hand in admiration at the sight of such a mass group of men.
"How many do you plan on using to invade Nirvit?" Duke asked in a monotone voice.
The young king peered out, never realizing just how vast his army was. He had heard, but this is the first time he had seen such a surplus amount of men. They were lined up as far as the eye could see. Ivan frowned a bit as he could see the nonchalant glimmer in the young king's eye. He didn't understand why the king didn't seem as enthusiastic as himself.
"Over ten thousand, your Grace," Ivan told him. "The others I have ordered to be stationed around the country to guard it from any potential attacks from outside forces, while also wrangling in whatever other Konvern soldiers we can find."
"Very good," Duke said grimly. "Well Lord Ivan, high ho, high ho, it's off to war we go." He sang before he kicked his horse and began to gallop west raising his banner as the thousands of lined men began to follow him forward. Ivan followed right behind him until the two of them were out in front with the soldiers marching behind.
After his long talk with Robaul Jellal set out to find Natsu. He made his way out to the courtyard and garden area near the back of the fortress where he figured he would find the teenaged Draconan along with the young girl as well. Sure enough, as he exited the building and walked out into the sweltering sun of the summer, he spotted Natsu with Wendy out in the middle of the grass as the young girl handed the boy a bundle of flowers.
The courtyard was decorated with flagstone tiles that encircled a large grass center that contained the fortress's garden. A variety of flowers ranging from tulips, to roses, to sunflowers grew at the heart, while bushes and trees were used to outline pathways for people to walk through and admire. Near the center is where Natsu and Wendy stood as Jellel promptly made his way over towards them.
"Natsu!" Jellal called out as soon as he stepped onto the dirt pathway.
The pink haired boy looked up as he heard his name called seeing Jellal swiftly approaching him. The smile that was once beaming on the young Draconan's face had dwindled away as he could see a depressed and sorrowful glare in Jellal's eyes. He knew something had to be wrong as he let his arms sag down.
Wendy was just as curious and worried as she too wondered what the young noble wanted. But she did not say a word, as Jellal's eyes were fixated on the pink haired teen in front of her.
"Jellal?" Natsu said as Jellal glided towards him.
"Natsu we need to talk," Jellal told him before his eyes fell on the young Wendy. He could see the look of worry in the child's eyes as he offered her a friendly smile to calm her. "In private please Wendy?"
"Oh, okay," the girl said softly as she ran away. She sprinted behind one of the numerous pillars and hid behind it hoping to eavesdrop on the conversation.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Natsu asked.
"As King Robaul and I were talking we overheard news that King Duke's army just set out from Konvern and are on their way here now," Jellal told him. "And unfortunately nobody planned on this happening so fast. Robaul had already sent word to his allies asking for help, but none of them will be able to make it in time before the ensuing invasion."
"So what does that mean?" Natsu asked, vexed as he heard the news. "Are you saying that Nirvit will have to face Duke's armies alone?"
"No," Jellal said shaking his head. "Robaul plan's on surrendering Nirvit, when they arrive if he doesn't receive any help."
"So what about Wendy?" Natsu exclaimed. "Will she be all right, or does Robaul plan on handing her over to Duke as well? Cause if they need us to stay behind, I'm more than itching for a fight," Natsu said cracking his knuckles as a delighted grin unfolded across his lips.
"Nothing like that," Jellal said waving the suggestion off. "He wants to send Wendy away to somewhere she'll be safe. I suggested Magnolia, and ultimately Robaul agreed." Jellal bit his lip before he continued speaking. "The condition is we have to take her their ourselves."
"Okay, when?" Natsu asked folding his arms across his chest.
"What?" Natsu cried. "Why so early? We never spent more than a day in any of the town we visited and all we've done is travel. Can't we just take a couple of days to rest first?"
"We don't' have time," Jellal snapped. "Every day we waste Duke draws closer to Nirvit and who knows if they've already sent someone to scout and find the girl. The best thing for us to do is to move out as soon as possible and insure that she is kept safe."
"All right," Natsu sighed in defeat. "But I don't like." He said as his same old, wide toothy grin sprouted from his lips. "So, what are we going to be traveling with some of her personal guards?"
"No," Jellal said shaking his head. "No, we don't want to look suspicious, there are plenty of spies running around out there in the wilderness, as well as bandits. And besides Robaul knows of the rumors that have been going around about you, and I think you, me and Gajeel are more than capable of protecting her on our own anyways."
"Makes sense," Natsu exhaled through a deep breath. "Well, I'm hungry," he said as though he had completely forgotten about their entire conversation, "let's go find Gajeel and grab something to eat."
Wendy continued to watch on as she tried to hear what the two men were talking about. Unfortunately, she couldn't hear them all that much, except that her name was mentioned. She began to worry, and grow more and more concerned about what was going to happen to her. She liked Natsu having spent a few hours with him, he appeared to be kind enough, and though it was many years ago, she remembered the kind deeds that Jellal had done for her when she was very young.
The next morning Natsu, Jellal and Gajeel met Robaul and Wendy at Robaul's private stable near the center of Nirvit. Someplace isolated from the rest of the streets, located near the military barracks where civilians were not allowed to wonder through. However, the old man and young girl were not alone. Behind them stood a unit of guards each of them holding three suits of chain mail and other supplies. Wendy herself was dressed in a gray cloak, the hood of which was already draped over her small head, with strands of her dark blue hair crawling it's way along her shoulders.
Though her eyes were veiled by the top part of her cloak, he could see the troubled look on the girl's face. He could tell she was scared, not so much them, but of the unknown. She remained quiet as Robaul stepped forward with the guards behind him
"It's going to dangerous out there, young lord," he said as he beckoned his guard forward. "I know it's not much, but please take this chainmail with some new garments for your journey. I know they're not much but they're the least I could do for you troubles."
Three of the guards stepped forward, each of them handing over chainmail folded with the boy's new outfits. Natsu removed his rags, standing stark naked. Gajeel and Jellal did the same, stripping the clothes they had been wearing ever since they left Mila. Jellal had completely forgotten that he had not changed his clothes since Gajeel 'acquired' them back in the slave market. He hadn't realized just how filthy he appeared. He even wondered how Robaul was able to notice him when they first met.
Natsu had never put on chainmail before and eyed it skeptically before another guard walked over and helped him. They fastened them, and tightened them around the boy's frame. After they had done that, they then placed a red brigandines over him, along with polished greaves, gauntlets and gorgets. On his hip, a sword was tied to the brigandines with a red belt..
Gajeel and Jellal were dressed in the same outfit, only Gajeel's brigandines was black and Jellal's white. However, the rest of Jellal's armor was not steel in color like his counterparts, but instead they were a cobalt blue. The two of them were given swords as well, only Gajeel's was silver and Jellal's gold.
"Thank you Lord Robaul," Jellal said bowing his head once he was dressed. "How can we ever repay you for such armor?"
"Do not worry young lord," Robaul said waving the gratitude off. "Your protection of my child is all that I need. And besides, those were just some spare armor we had lying around so think nothing of it."
Though Natsu couldn't help but admire himself. Of course there had to be some adjusting, but the size was still incredibly close to his own body frame. He wondered how they managed to size him up so well, but that was nothing. He had never worn armor before, and for the first time in his life he felt a bit distinguished. Was this what knights and soldiers felt all the time? All he knew was that he liked it.
"Pretty good fit," Gajeel said flexing his arm as he peered down at his gauntlet.
"Yes, well I am a good judge when it comes to sizing people up," Robaul laughed. Natsu had just noticed that Robaul was holding the small girl in his arms as he spoke. He could see a single tear fall down the girls cheek as she buried her head into the old man's chest. "Well, we shouldn't waste anymore time," he sighed as he finally separated from the girl. He knelt down so that he was eye level with her. "Wendy, these men will protect you, but I promise you, you will be safe."
"I don't want to go though," the girl cried in protest. "Master, I want to stay here with you, in Nirvit. This is my home."
"Wendy," the old man sighed as he whipped away a tear from cheek, "you are the most precious thing in my life. You are more important to me than all the gold and treasure in the world. None of that could ever be worth more than the smile on your face. Not a day goes by where I don't thank the gods for bringing you into my life. Each day, watching you grow up has been a blessing to me. That is why you must go, so that I know that you will be safe. If not for you, for me, please my child I must know that no harm will befall you."
"O-okay," the girl sobbed as she chocked back some more tears. "I'll go for you, Master."
Without another word she was lifted up onto a horse by one of the guards, as Natsu and the others were given their own steeds. A couple of guards got on their own horses, just to follow them out of the city before they went off on their journey. Robaul waved his had to them as he watched them exit through the stable doors and out onto the cobble stone streets of Nirvit.
Meanwhile in Magnolia, Lucy and the girls were just getting used to the town. For the young princess, it almost felt like she had lived there her entire life, and Konvern was nothing more than a hallow memory in the dark recesses of her mind, like a nightmare that had long since past, yet stays etched in the memory. She had new, and more exciting friends to enjoy her time with. Though she could not forget Natsu, as the necklace around her neck constantly reminded her of the boy she loved, but had not seen in a couple of weeks.
She had grown bored over the past couple of days, though she did enjoy spending her time wondering the city, visiting new shops, even though she couldn't afford to buy anything anymore, and visiting the beach. She didn't know what else to do with her time. The other night she brought her dilemma with Mira who suggested the girl get a hobby. But she wondered what she could do, though Mira suggested she write down the things that interested her, which turned out to be something she rather enjoyed. Writing.
So now she spent some of her free time in front of her desk, writing out stories. She wrote about her childhood with Natsu and Gildarts, but she made sure to change the names of the characters so as not to arouse suspicion from anybody. Though she didn't really need to, since she didn't expect anyone apart from her to ever read these stories. But what was great was how they brought back fond memories, back to times when things were simpler and she hadn't lost her home and family.
It was still in the middle of the afternoon. She had grown bored with wondering around the town, and it was still too early to visit all her friends at the pub. It was during this time that she enjoyed just sitting back, relaxing and writing at her desk with the door open, allowing the fresh breeze of the cold sea air to drift in from the outside. It was nice to just sit in her room by herself sometimes, and she never got tired of the view from her bedroom.
She continued to write, hearing a commotion of the front door opening and being slammed shut. She figured it must have been Erza or Levy returning from doing some errands, so she paid it no mind. Instead she continued her own story, writing about her childhood when she could her the footsteps of someone approaching her room. The footstep drew near, as who ever was behind her staggered forward.
A loud bang of a hand smashing against the hard wood nearly made the young princess leap from her seat, as she peered up at her visitor with a frightened gaze.
"How's it going Lucy?" Cana said as she grinned widely as she leaned over the other girl's shoulder. "What'd you writing there?" Without asking permission Cana yanked the paper from the desk
"Hey!" Lucy shouted in protest as she reached for the paper, only to have her face held back by Cana's hand. The older girl began to read it, giggling to herself as her eyes wondered through the page. Lucy could feel her face flush as she grew ever more embarrassed by Cana's persistence.
"Ah how cute," Cana snickered, "is this about you and Natsu?"
"No," Lucy said, finally managing to snatch the paper from Cana's hand. Her face lit up a deep crimson red. "It's just a story I was writing. It has nothing to do with Natsu."
"Oh, don't think I'm a fool princess," Cana said leaning closer into Lucy, causing the young blonde to become even more uncomfortable. "I had my father tell me all about you and little Natsu," she said poking Lucy's nose. "I know everything about you two."
"Fine," Lucy snapped as she turned back to her desk feverishly, "it's about Natsu. Back when we were kids living in Konvern."
"So, you really do love him don't you," Cana teased.
"Y-yeah," she sighed admittedly. She hoped that it would be enough to suffice the girl's curiosity. "I guess you can say that," Lucy said blushing slightly as a small smile crept across her lips.
"So, you never answered my question from before," Cana sighed as she stood back up. "Have you and him ever, you know, done the dirty deed?"
Lucy could feel her face blush to a deeper shade of red as she tried to ignore the question. Though her hand became too jittery for her to continue writing. However, Cana was not about to give up her pursuit on the matter, a gesture which boggled Lucy's mind. She didn't understand why the other girl was so persistent to pry the information from her.
"Come on, you love him don't you," Cana said.
"Yes," Lucy grumbled as she felt Cana pressing up against her.
"Then," she said emphasizing the length of the word, much to Lucy's annoyance, "why haven't you two been together?"
"Because we couldn't be together," Lucy finally snapped. "He and I . . . were from two different worlds. Even if I wanted to, and I'm not saying that I do, but if I wanted to, I couldn't."
"Well, now there's nothing stopping you when you see him again," Cana chuckled. Lucy peered up at her with a distasteful glare, but not before the older girl grabbed her hand and pulled her from her seat.
"Cana!" Lucy shouted as the brunette threw the blonde onto her bed nearby. "Cana?" the girl cried again, only to have her arms pinned down as Cana sat on top of her. Lucy's face flushed a deep crimson as Cana leered down at her with a sinister smirk. "What are you doing?" Lucy gasped.
"You are way too stern for your own good princess," Cana said, frowning at the blonde. "If you want to learn how to make love, I'll teach you."
"What?" Lucy squeaked. "Teach me to make love? What are you—"
Lucy was unable to finish her statement as Cana placed a finger over the girls lips, shushing her.
"You want to learn how to please the man you love don't you?" Cana asked, staring into Lucy's dark eyes.
Again she was cut off by Cana's finger as the brunette hushed her quiet.
"You really don't know a thing about men do you?" Cana sighed as she leered into Lucy's chocolate colored eyes. "They're actually very simple to understand once you know what you're doing." The blonde turned away embarrassed as Cana broke her grip and used one of her hands to push Lucy's cheek so the girl was looking right back at the brunette. "First rule, never break eye contact, unless you are either kissing or one of you erupts from pleasure. Women might think that the one thing that turns men on the most has something to do with her body, but that's a lie. It all comes from the eyes."
"How do my eyes turn a man on?" she asked, now intrigued by Cana's words.
"Men are selfless lovers," Cana wooed through pursed lips. "But there is a major difference between sex and making love. When a man makes love, nothing arouses him more than bringing pleasure to his woman," she said as she began to gyrate her own hips on top of Lucy's. The blonde blushed feverishly as she attempted to look away, only to have Cana grab her by the chin and force her eyes to lock back onto hers. "He doesn't care about his own needs, because all of his needs are satisfied by the touch of your skin," she said rubbing Lucy's cheek with her finger, "and the sounds of pleasure that erupt from a woman as she is overwhelmed with passion."
"Cana what are you—" Lucy tried to cry out as she felt Cana's hips pressing up against hers. Once again she was hushed by Cana's finger as the girl kept her movements going.
"Everything you feel, everything that swells up inside you are conveyed through your eyes," she moaned. Lucy could see it as Cana smirked slyly at her. She could feel it, a strange warmth overtaking her as she stared deep into Cana's eyes. "You have to take control," Cana told her, "when it comes to making love it's all about you. Trust me, that's all men care about, so as long as you're happy, they are happy."
"So, you're telling me that one of the ways to make him happy, is to take control?" Lucy gasped through heavy breaths. The weight of Cana's hips were pushing the air from her lungs.
This time it was Lucy's turn to smirk as she grabbed Cana by the hips and rolled over so that she was now the one on top. Cana's eyes went wide as she was a bit bewildered by the blonde's sudden actions. Lucy smirked at her as she slid her hands up, causing Cana's body to shiver as she pinned the brunette's hands against the bed. The two of them began to giggle uncontrollably as Lucy leaned in closer to her prey.
"Well look at you princess," Cana said between snickers, "you're finally starting to learn."
"But uhm," Lucy said bitting her lip as a light blush filled her cheeks, "is there anything else you can teach me about making love?"
"Princess?" Cana snickered. "Looks like you are a dirty girl after all."
"Lucy?" a quiet voice peeped from the doorway.
Lucy turned around to see Levy standing at the door, staring at her with wide, bewildered eyes. Without another second wasted, the blonde rolled off of Cana and back onto her feet as she could feel her face blush once more with embarrassment.
"Levy, I . . . we," the blonde stuttered with her words as she tried to come up with an excuse.
"I was teaching Miss Proper how to satisfy a man," Cana blurted out through a fit of laughter as Lucy hid her scarlet red face behind her hands.
"What? Lucy is this true?" she said as she rushed over to the blonde. "You have some nerve," she spat at Cana, "trying to pervert an innocent girl. Have you no shame?"
"Nope," Cana purred as she rested on her stomach, hugging one of Lucy's pillow tightly to her bosom.
Levy leered at the brunette with disgust as she grabbed Lucy's hands. She could see the girl was still beside herself with mortification.
"What's going on in here?" Erza asked as she stepped inside inside the room with a fierce scowl across her lips. Her eyes darted from Cana to Lucy and Levy and back.
She folded her arms across the laced red silk dress that covered her bosom. Though she felt like she should wear her armor, Lucy insisted that she wear something more casual to fit in and draw less attention to them. She had to admit that to some degree she kind of liked wearing nice clothes that bought her feminine features, though she wanted to stay true to her identity as a knight. At least she latched her sword to a girdle she had hidden underneath her dress. That way, she could still appear normal while having the means to protect the princess.
"Cana was trying to do something perverted to Lucy," Levy growled as she held the blonde's hands in her own. Lucy seemed to regain her normal color after awhile, though she still felt a bit flustered.
"What kind of perversion?" Erza demanded.
"The kind that I think you could use as well," Cana said winking at the red head. This time it was Erza who was blushing.
"I don't have any idea what you're talking about," she gawked flabbergasted by the brunette's insinuation.
"Oh, don't you?" Cana said teasingly as she rose to her feet. "I heard all about your boyfriend Jellal."
"Jellal is not my boyfriend!" Erza snapped as her face flushed to a deep shade of crimson. "He's just an old friend who is also the nobleman that I serve. There's nothing between us."
Cana peered down at Erza's chest as she began to pat on Erza's breast with an open palm. The red head's eyes went wide as she clamped her hands down and turned away from Cana.
"What are you doing?" she exclaimed as she glared at the brunette.
"Well, you're not completely wrong when you say that there's nothing between you and Jellal," Cana sighed.
Erza's mouth went agape. "How dare you! I have lovely and exquisite . . ." she stopped herself, as she looked back down at her own breasts, " . . . features . . ." she finally answered. "That any man would love."
"Oh please," Cana sighed rolling her eyes. "You're too rigid. If anyone here needs some help when it comes to behaving like a woman, it's you. I mean, how else do you plan on seducing Jellal?"
"I don't want to seduce Jellal!" Erza cried mortified.
"Not like that you're not," Cana said as she grabbed the red head by the arms, and in a fluid motion of spinning around she hurdled Erza onto the bed. "I think it's time I taught you how to actually behave like a real woman."