Lucy stood on her porch over looking the city. The ocean looked so peaceful and yet the city itself seemed so empty. The war had not touched Magnolia, yet it still left its mark. It was tranquil for the most part but there was still a sense of worry that emanated through the city.
She stood there alone as the soft autumn breeze blew in the salty scent of the sea air. It was high noon. Her hands ran across the pendant around her neck. The touch of it reminded her of Natsu. She prayed to the gods that he was okay. Deep down in her heart she knew he was, but she still had cause to worry. She had heard about what had happened at the camp, and the only thing she knew was that Natsu was not one of the ones killed at the blast. She hoped more news would arrive soon, but in these trying times the best a girl could do was hope.
She saw some ships out in the distance, wondering if they belonged to some fisherman. But as they drew closer she noticed that the sails were much to large to belong to merchants. There were far too many of them, at least two dozen of them were sailing towards the harbor. Bells from the city guard echoed through the city, catching the blonde off guard. It was in that moment she realized that those ships had to be brigs, warships.
"What's going on?" Wendy asked as she ran up and leapt onto the railing to see. Erza followed her outside as the bells continued to chime.
"I don't know, it looks like there's some brigs approaching the docks," Lucy replied.
"It must be Mila," Erza hissed. "I wouldn't have thought their navy had the capability to journey all the way up here."
"But why would they attack the city?" Wendy asked innocently.
"They probably thought the city would be near defenseless during the war," she answered. "Either way, we have to get you two somewhere safe."
"Erza, do you have a spare sword lying around?" Lucy asked.
"No," she replied. "Swords are a luxury that cost a great deal of money. At least that is if you want a good one. And those are the only ones worth having if you plan on staying alive."
"Fine then where can I get one?" Lucy asked.
"And why do you want a sword?" Erza demanded placing her hands on her hips. She leered at Lucy the way a mother would a disobedient daughter.
"If there's an invasion I want to be able to help," Lucy answered. "I can't just sit back and continue to be useless. Natsu, Jellal, everyone is out there fighting this war right now and we're staying cooped up in here! I'm not interested in being he helpless maiden any more. If we encounter soldiers, I am ready to fight."
"You will do no such thing!" Erza snapped. "I am charged with protecting you. That means I cannot allow you to go off on a tirade and get yourself hurt, or worse killed, just because you suddenly feel the urge to fight. There are things that you are meant to do and there are things that others are meant to do. You are not meant to fight."
"Why? Cause I'm a girl?"
It was Lucy's turn to leer at Erza. Wendy backed away feeling the tension arising between the two of them. The comment struck Erza in a way that she hadn't seen the blonde react so harshly towards her before. She pondered what could have arisen such an outcry from Lucy.
"That's not it at all!"
"Then why won't you let me help? Or at the very least have a sword?" Lucy insisted. "I'm not some poor helpless, sick girl that lies in bed all day waiting for someone else to take care of her."
"You're a princess, and I'm your guard. I'm supposed to take care of you and insure that you stay safe. How is putting you in harm's way protecting you?"
"Then I release you of your charge," Lucy spat.
She was angry. She was angry that she had lain in bed sick for such a long period of time and she wasn't allowed to do anything about it. She was angry that Erza insisted that she continue to stay locked up in the house for her own good so she can "recover." She was sick of being helpless. What use would it be in Mila invaded? Was she expected to just sit there and let them do whatever they wanted to her? What did Erza expect her to do? Run? Where would she run? She had never had a say on what would happen to her since she left Konvern. She had never been the one to make her own decisions. Well now that time had come. It was understandable before, but not now. She was angry that she was useless while Natsu and the others were putting their lives on the line.
She wasn't going to take no for an answer any longer. She wasn't going to allow people to dictate to her what she should do. She was going to be the one making decisions. It was her life; she will do what she wished with it. No more running or hiding.
"That's not going to work with me Princess," Erza growled as she spun around to leave. "Only Jellal can release me from that charge. He was the one that enacted it, and he is the only one that can take it away."
"That is not so!" Lucy fumed. "I don't care what you say. I am going to Makarov's."
"Why are you going to Makarov's Lucy?" Wendy asked confused.
"If anyone has a weapon and armor I can use, it would be him," she answered.
"What you think that Makarov is just going to give a princess a sword and some armor and let her go off to fight in a war? I highly doubt that," Erza interrupted.
"It's worth a try, better than doing nothing, which we've been doing," Lucy interjected.
Lucy pushed past Erza as she headed for the door.
"Oh no you don't!" Erza said grabbing Lucy from behind. "I told you that I'm supposed to protect you. I'm not letting you go anywhere."
"Get off of me!" Lucy ordered as she twirled around and kicked Erza in the shin. The redhead yelled in pain while Wendy stared at Lucy in shock.
Without wasting another moment Lucy fled to the door and rushed outside.
"Oh no you don't," Erza hissed as she limped to the front door. She stopped and rubbed the spot where Lucy had struck her. She didn't realize the princess could hit so hard. She had hit the bone and Erza couldn't walk let alone chase after the blonde. She seethed as she waited a couple moments to let the pain die out a bit. She could chase after Lucy later, she knew exactly where she was going after all.
"Are you okay Erza?" Wendy asked.
"Yeah," Erza said smiling at the little one. "She managed to get a good kick in on me."
At that moment Levy walked in from the outside. She was panting, but she still held onto some groceries. The sound of the bells had caused her to rush home more quickly than she had intended to convene with the others. She looked at the open door before looking over at Erza and Wendy.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"Lucy decided she wants to participate in the fight," Erza said through a wince. "She kicked me, right in the shin. I didn't think she had it in her. I have to admit, I'm a bit proud. Never thought the princess had that sort of fight in her."
"You let her go?" Levy said mortified.
"Did any part of what I just said remotely sound like I willingly let her go?" Erza asked. "She kicked me in the shin. I don't think that constitutes a goodbye that friends exchange with one another. Unless you have some sort of weird practice back home in Konvern."
"We have to go after her," Levy said ignoring Erza. She looked out the door in both directions.
"Yeah, no shit," Erza said with a wince as she stood up. "She went to Makarov's to go get a sword and some armor."
"That girl," Levy sighed. "Come on, we got to go stop her."
"Don't worry I'm coming," Erza sighed as she limped after the other girl.
Lucy hurried to the barracks where she saw some men assembled. Many of them rushed armed to the harbor. She spotted Makarov at the front as guards passed out weapons to the available soldiers. There was so few of them, but that wasn't surprising seeing as how most of the men in the city were sent off to the war. Those that remained were young teens and squires who's job it was to protect the city in case of emergency. However, they couldn't have predicted an invasion of this magnitude.
"Lord Makarov," Lucy shouted as she approached the short old man. He stood near the entrance of the armory garnering full armor. "Lord Makarov," she called again.
He heard her the second time as he peered up.
"Princess Lucy?" he gasped. "What in the seven hells are you doing here? This is no place for you. We're about to be invaded. You need to get somewhere safe."
"I came to help."
"Help? My lady I appreciate your concern but the battlefield is no place for a princess, let alone a woman."
"I am sorry," he interrupted shaking his head. "But I cannot permit you to endanger yourself. Listen, it's noble that you want to help, it really is. Most of the boys our there fighting would rather run away and cower, but they're fighting because they have to. You're willingness is commendable and I respect that, but I would feel much more comfortable if you were somewhere safe."
Lucy couldn't speak another word before Makarov dashed down the road towards the harbor after the other soldiers. Lucy watched him go as she sighed to herself. That was when she noticed that Makaorv had left the armory door a jar. She looked back down the road to see that Makarov had disappeared. She looked around the barracks to make sure nobody was looking before she walked through the door.
Her gaze drifted through the armory to empty shelf after empty shelf. She began to worry that they had removed any weapons possible. She walked all the way to the back where she found a barrel of swords. She pulled one out and examined it. It appeared dull with some jagged edges, but as she ran it across the tip of the barrel it made its cut. It wasn't extravagant, but it would do the job. She looked around some more until she found some armor.
"Lucy?" the blonde heard Levy say from outside the door. The small handmaiden's eyes darted frantically each and every direction. "Lucy!" she called out once more.
"Lucy!" Erza shouted more agitated than concerned.
"Lucy!" Wendy called along with them.
"Wendy?" Erza gasped. "Wendy what are you doing here? It's not safe for you out here. You need to go some place safe."
"But I want to help," the young girl whined.
"I know, but you're too young. I don't want anything to happen to you," Erza replied.
"Fine," the girl sighed despairingly. She then noticed that the door to the armory was a jar and decided to investigate it.
"What do you think you're doing in here?" a feminine voice asked from the armory doorway.
"Juvia?" Lucy gasped as she saw the blue haired girl standing in the doorway.
What surprised Lucy most was that Juvia was wearing her own armor. Similar to Erza's, this was a breastplate with a chainmail skirt. Embroidered on her breastplate a rose surrounded by a raincloud and two bolts of lighting. Her hair was tied back in a knot. On her side was a blue tined sheath with swirls of raindrops and a blue gem that gleamed at the end of the handle.
"What are you doing here?" the blonde asked.
"I could ask you the same thing," she answered raising an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to get this breastplate on," Lucy sighed annoyed. She attempted to tighten the straps but the metal armor sagged on her body. Her chainmail wasn't doing much better. She looked like a little girl trying on her mother's dress. "With little luck."
"Come here," Juvia grumbled. She walked over to the blonde and examined the armor she was attempting to put on. "Here's your problem, you're trying to put on armor that's way too big for you," Juvia replied. "I know you're no soldier but even you should know when armor is too big. Take it off."
Lucy did as she was told. She stripped herself of the armor and chainmail until she stood there in her undergarments. Juvia looked disapprovingly at the blonde but continued to say nothing. She examined Lucy's body running her hands up and down the other girl's legs. Lucy was curious as to what she was doing, but Juvia hushed her before she had a chance to speak. The girl stood back and bit her lips before finally turning to rummage through the stockpiles of potential armor.
"I usually had servants put it on for me," Lucy said as Juvia shuffled through the different shelves. "By the way, I thought you returned home."
"Juvia was about to," Juvia said as she retrieved what she was looking for. She held it in her hands. "But the armies of Junelle invaded Juvia's home and burned most of it to the ground. Now, Juvia is like you," she turned and stared at Lucy with a tearful eye. She walked over and placed the chainmail around her. This one felt a bit tight but it certainly fit her better than the one she had on.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Lucy said as Juvia went back to acquire some fitting armor. "I know I've lost my home as well. It's not easy, but my friends have helped me through it."
"Must be nice, to have such loyal and devoted friends," Juvia said smiling sweetly at the blonde. She grabbed some squire armor and walked over to Lucy. "This war has created too many orphans and left many without homes." She helped Lucy with the armor. It fit well enough, but Juvia tighten the grips on the side causing Lucy to grunt.
Lucy grabbed the pendant around her neck and tucked it in behind the chainmail. Juvia noticed but paid no mind to it.
"May I ask why you're wearing armor?" Lucy said.
"Juvia plans on fighting in this war as well," Juvia replied. "Same as you. From the looks of it."
"Why do you want to fight?"
"Juvia just told you," Juvia sighed. "They took away my home."
"Did you lose any family?"
"Juvia didn't really have a family," Juvia told her. "My father was involved in the government before he died. With no immediate family I was taken into the state to serve as a delegate. That's why they sent Juvia here originally, they thought Juvia would have more sway when it came to helping. Most men won't take a woman seriously when it comes to politics, but if she's pretty enough they're usually coerced into helping in some way."
"And the armor?"
"What about it?"
"Erza has something similar, but nothing as extravagant as yours. Were you trained in combat?"
"It's mainly for show," Juvia replied. She finished tightening the armor. "It was a gift," she smirked. "Juvia had a scheduled appointment with a visiting diplomat two years back. Apparently, he believed that he was going to negotiate with a man, and thought that he would extend a hand of friendship by providing his fellow diplomat, whom he expected to be a man, with a plate of armor. You could imagine his surprise when he finally met me."
"I can," Lucy giggled.
"I have to admit he was a kind man, but he was also kind of a flirt. Let's just say I wasn't interested in a man who had grandchildren that were older than me."
"I wish," she giggled. She grabbed some gauntlets and slid them on. "He did have an exquisite beard though. Anyways, after that I was taught the art of sword fighting. I thought since I had the armor I might as well hire a sell sword that could teach me. For a girl in my position one can never be too careful out there in the dangers of the world."
"A sell sword? You mean like Gildarts."
"Yeah, something like that," Juvia answered. She dropped her hands to her hips. "Well, you're good for now. It's armor meant for a squire, most likely practice armor but it should do the job. Better than going out and fighting in nothing but a dress."
"Thank you," Lucy said with a smile. Juvia turned to leave, but she was stopped when Lucy grabbed her shoulder. "Juvia I know you don't have a family, but . . . you're more than welcome to join our little group as a family." The blue haired girl raised a brow. Lucy blushed, "I mean, Erza, Levy, Wendy and I all live together. I never had sisters, or any siblings for that matter. But I can honestly say that they are closer to me than any person I could possibly share blood with. I love them dearly and they mean the world to me. I don't want you to think that you're alone in this world. I also have Natsu, and Erza has Jellal. Gajeel, well I think Natsu might consider him a brother after everything they've gone through together. Plus the two of them are both Draconians, but I think what I'm trying to say is that, if you want a family, we're more than happy to be yours." She smiled.
"Thank you Lucy," Juvia said taking her hand. "Juvia knows she hasn't been the best of friends with you and the others. But . . . thank you," she didn't know what to say apart from that. "Now, enough of the sentimentalism, we have a battle to fight!"
"Yeah!" Lucy said nodding her head.
Kurohebi laid in his bed. The clamor of the bells outside and the panic rush of the doctors and nurses had caused him to wake. Now things had died down to some peace since everyone had left. He was alone, laying in a bed in his own little wing. He was excited. If there was an invasion he would be free. No more laying down useless while his master probably forgot about him. He closed his eyes dreaming of the chance to go home and to be free of Magnolia. He was almost healed anyways even though it was unlikely that he would ever walk again.
He closed his eyes, but the sound of a scuffing foot caused him to open them again. He groaned annoyed, just when he was about to fall asleep somebody had to wake him up. He turned his head to see a cloaked figure standing before him.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Name's Jackal," the cloaked figure replied. He smiled a wry smirk; one that sent a shiver into the heart of Kurohebi. "I was sent here by Ivan and Master Zero of Mila."
"Oh, finally," Kurohebi practically cheered. "I've been wondering when they were going to send someone for me. It's about time. Come here and get these accursed chains from my wrist. I can't leave this bed until they're removed."
Jackal took a step closer to him. His hands reached for the part of the chains that were latched to Kurohebi's wrist. But instead of unlocking them his hands glided towards Kurohebi's throat.
"What are you doing?" Kurohebi cried just as Jackal's hand clasped around his mouth and throat.
"Tying up loose ends," Kurohebi hissed as he clamped down even harder.
Kurohebi struggled against his assailant's grip. Jackal pinned down his free hand with his own. He desperately tried to tear his hand from their chains, or at the least break the bedpost. He kicked and tossed frantically in his bed, but to no avail. After a good while his movements slowed until they eventually came to a stop all together. Jackal kept his hand pressed against the mouth and nose of Kurohebi long after he had stopped moving just to make sure.
Kurohebi's eyes were still wide with freight even though all the light of life had faded from them. His skin was pale and his chained hand limp. Jackal smiled to himself as he peered around the wing to make sure no one had seen him. He motioned his hand back to Kurohebi's face and closed the dead man's eyelids. Make it look like he died naturally. Men die from wounds that he sustained all the time, even well after they were received. Either way it didn't matter to Jackal if people suspected a murder. Who would care? He fixed his cloak and left.
Levy spotted Lucy running down the streets with another woman. From afar the small girl could not identify who it was, but she wore armor similar to Lucy. That's when the girl came to a startling revelation; Lucy was wearing armor. She meant to fight in the battle. She would be in harm's way, and possibly killed. She couldn't allow that.
"Archers ready to fire!" Makarov ordered as the men lined up on the wall facing the harbor. There were seven ships out in the sea that were ablaze and sinking, or already half sunk. Five of them belonged to the Magnolia Navy. They attempted to stave off the attack, but the sheer size of Mila's Navy was too much. Makarov peered out knowing that it was unlikely that there were any survivors, but now was not the time to mourn.
Three ships touched down as the barges opened up to a flood of men that poured out, waving swords and spears.
A hail of arrows rained down upon the invaders. Some of the arrows hit their marks but it was not that effective. Most were blocked with shields. It slowed down the advancement a bit, but once the arrows had ceased the Mila soldiers began their onslaught once more. Catapults were now cleared to fire, though there were only a few that were operated at the moment. Most of the available men were either lined on the wall or down at the forefront.
There were only a few small columns of young squires and soldiers that stood at the back of the docks ready to receive the bulk of the raiders. After three ships they were already outnumbered. Three ships had unleashed their fury and twenty-one to go. The odds did not bode well for Makarov. He wished that he had more men and more time, but he had to deal with what he had.
"Fire!" he shouted once more as another onslaught of arrows poured down upon the raiders. They were advancing quickly and there were not enough arrows to do significant damage, but it was enough to whittle down the numbers to a much more even match for the men on the line. They held up their shields and kept their lances out front.
One of the catapults managed to strike a ship. The front end of it was splinted as the nose of the barge sank into the water. The men cheered as they watched the vessel go down. But the raiders drew closer. One last call of the arrows was enough to knock the numbers down to an even fight. And then, they collided. The screams and roars of men echoed through the city streets. Blood splattered forward and across the faces of each man like the mist of the sea. The young soldiers lashed out with their lances striking their opponents right when they were in striking distance.
They had successfully repelled the first wave. Another ship landed, and once more Makarov ordered his troops to fire. As soon as the barge doors had opened. The invaders were met with steel and wood. Many collapsed to the ground and trampled beneath the foot of their brethren.
Lucy rushed down the streets, she could hear the echoes and cries of men clashing against one another. The radiating sound of steel on steel and the string of the catapult. But something caught her eye causing her to come to a stop. Juvia ran a few more steps before she stopped and looked at her with a curious gaze. Lucy saw a cloaked figure creep through the along the outline of the wall. He reached into his cloaked and pulled out a little ball that she knew was meant to be dastardly. She immediately ran toward him.
Jackal watched from behind the wall near the alleyway of a nearby building. He watched as the Magnolian forces continued to shoot down and repel the invaders. The ships had to wait to dock giving the Magnolian a fighting chance. As long as the archers were posted on the wall, they had the chance. He reached into his cloak and retrieved a small grenade, similar to the one he used on Gran Doma and the other officers. Just as he was about to throw it he heard the swift footsteps and of clanging racing towards him. Just as he looked up he saw the glimmer of a blade striking towards him. He managed to jump away at the last second before he dropped the grenade.
Lucy saw it and immediately ducked into the doorway of a nearby building as Jackal leapt behind the brick wall of a stairwell. The grenade went off, with a thundering blow that sent chunks of brick and debris into the air. Makarov and everyone else turned their attention to the sound of the blast.
"Forget about it, keep fighting!" he ordered. But his eyes stayed glued to the sound of where the blast had come.
"Ah you stupid little shit," Jackal cursed as he rose to his feet. He walked around the stairwell removing his cloak to reveal his face. "You're going to pay for that."
"Who are you?" Lucy demanded as she stepped out from the doorway with her sword raised. "And what were you planning on doing with that grenade?"
"What does it matter to you?" Jackal asked. "You're going to die anyways." He reached into his cloaked and pulled out another grenade. "This one is meant for you." He tossed it.
"Lucy watch out!" Juvia cried as she tackled the girl back into the house. Jackal dipped behind the stairwell as the grenade went off again.
"What is going on!" Makarov shouted.
"Thanks Juvia," Lucy grunted as she sat back up. Her eyes went wide as she noticed that there was a large gash in Juvia's ankle. "Juvia! You're hurt."
"Juvia is fine," the girl sighed as Lucy helped picked her up. "It's only a flesh wound."
"Hey, how's it going?" Jackal said with a wry grin on his face. Before he tossed another grenade, Lucy unsheathed her sword and hurtled it at him. He dodged out of the way. "Not smart, now what are you going to fight with?"
"Lucy take this," Juvia said as she handed the blonde her blade. "It's a better blade and it's better than nothing."
"Thanks," Lucy said nodding her head. She dashed for the door.
She collided with Jackal just as he was stepping back into the doorway. The two of them were knocked down, but Lucy quickly rose to her feet, holding Juvia's blade upright. Jackal chuckled, but he pulled his own blade from his side and began to stalk around the young lady.
"Big mistake little lady," he hissed licking the edge of his sword. Lucy peered at him with a look of disgust. "You should have run and hide like a good little girl. Now you and your friend are going to die."
"We'll see about that," Lucy shouted as she swung her blade down upon him. Shocked Jackal managed to block it just in time. The steel slid closer to his face until it was only a few centimeters above his eye. With a heavy thrust he threw her off of him. But not before she swung her sword a second time. He ducked as the top of the blade skimmed across the top of his head.
Jackal staggered back, stunned that Lucy was able to fight. She kicked him in the gut causing him to stumble back. He barely managed to block another swing, but she twirled around closer and slashed down again. He managed to parry this one as well, but she continued to drive him backwards. She brought her blade down as he managed to hold her off. She head butted him, causing him to get disoriented, but she felt the pain in her own cranium.
She grunted, rubbing her forehead. Natsu always made it look so easy. Then again, this was Natsu. She knew he had a thick skull, but damn.
Jackal yelled as he charged at her. She stepped to the side and knocked it away. But Jackal bumped his body into her knocking her down. She lifted her sword up as Jackal's collided with hers. He pressed down upon her, driving the edge of the blade closer and closer to her. She kicked him in the groin as he collapsed to the ground in pain. Lucy took the opportunity to scoot away as she lifted her sword back up.
Jackal swore at her as he clutched his groin.
He swung his sword at her as she knocked it away. She lowered her shoulder and drove him into the wall behind him. She spun around and slashed at his legs, cutting his shins. Jackal yelped in pain as he dropped his sword and bent down to clutch at the wound. Lucy stood over him and rammed her sword into his chest. Jackal went silent, as though he were in a gaze. Lucy bit her lip and pushed the blade in deeper until she felt the hard surface of the stonewall behind him.
She yanked the blade out as the silent and motionless Jackal toppled over onto the street dead. His eyes were hollow and lifeless now as Lucy stood there panting heavily.
"Lucy?" she heard a voice say from around the corner. She looked up to see that the voice belonged to Erza who stood there stunned. "What happened?"
"This jerk . . ." she took a deep breath. "He tried to kill Makarov and the other soldiers secretly."
"I never knew you knew how to fight," Erza replied. Wendy and Levy ran up from behind her.
"I learned a little from Gildarts along with Natsu."
"Lucy are you okay?" Juvia asked as she waddled over. Her leg was still bleeding but the wound wasn't severe.
"Yes I am," she replied. "Are you?" She ran over and helped keep Juvia balanced.
"Juvia? What are you doing here?" Erza demanded.
"Juvia is here for the same reason as Lucy," she answered. "Juvia intends to fight as well."
"You two," Erza sighed annoyed. She folded her arms across her chest but she could see the defiance in their eyes. "Okay fine," since we're all prepared to fight anyways.
"Uhm, I'm not," Levy squeaked.
"Oh, well then you take Wendy and get somewhere safe," Erza told her.
"But I want to help too!" Wendy cried.
"I can't allow that," Erza rebutted. "I'm sorry."
"No," Erza stated. "Now get somewhere safe."
The little girl did as she was told, much to her own displeasure.