"You told me that the city would be mine for the taking. You promised me that I—"
"I promised nothing Ivan," Ancologia hissed as he sat down upon a leather chair in the middle of a study. "I told you that I would deliver the city to you with little resistance. I held up my end of the bargain."
The two men resided in a study with very little candlelight. Ancologia sat at the head of a table while Ivan stood in front of a fireplace. The logs in the fireplace simmered down to nothing more than a few charcoals of ash. Ivan stared into the few sparkles that remained thinking to himself.
"It was mine. I had everything in my grasp. And in the same moment that I had achieved victory it was all taken away from me," Ivan growled.
"To be fair, it was Jude who suffered the defeat today. Well, since it was his army that was fighting in the war after all," Ancologia chuckled.
"This is funny to you?"
"Uhh . . . yeah," Ancologia snickered. "Don't forget Ivan, I was once the king of that same country that your armies invaded . . . well technically it was Prince Jude's armies, but you understand my point."
"I was the one that found the Book of Zeref for you. You would never have gained any of your magical abilities if it weren't for me. And we had a deal, that I would get you the book and you handed over Draconia and all her wealth to me!" Ivan snapped.
"The deal was that in exchange for the book Konvern would conquer Draconia, which they did," Ancologia said nonchalantly.
"Conquered?" Ivan blurted angrily. "Is that what you call it when half my army is wiped out in a single day?"
"Jude's army," Ancologia corrected. "And yes, you conquered the country, you just didn't hold it for very long."
"Does it matter? You turned them into dragons and completely violated your side of the deal!" Ivan waved his hands as his face turned red with anger. "Now I don't have control over Draconia or her vast amount of wealth. What are we going to do now?"
"The deal was that you would conquer Draconia, and you did. I struck another deal with someone else later on that resulted in the Draconians turning into dragons. That deal is none of your concern. I never said that Konvern would have complete control over Draconia for an extended period of time. Whether it was for a few minutes or a few centuries, you never specified. Also, I never agreed to give you the treasury, you assumed that it was yours once you conquered the country. Sorry Ivan, but if you wanted the money you should have asked for it."
"But why? You didn't have to turn them into dragons! Fuck any other deals you would have made!"
"We both got what we wanted in this deal," Ancologia responded as he stood up and began to walk away. "Summon me again when you need me."
With that he disappeared in a plume of black smoke. Ivan slouched as he sank in one of the chairs. He rubbed his temples as he contemplated what he was going to do next. There was no way for him to acquire the vast amount of wealth as long as the country was being safeguarded by dragons. But perhaps there was another way for him to do so.
He heard the sound of the chamber door opening as a young blonde prince entered. He garnished royal armor with a long purple cape. Following behind him were a group of council members followed behind him. The young prince leered at Ivan with frustrated eyes.
"Iwan? What are you doing in here? We've been looking for you," one of the council members said as everyone filed into the room.
"I've been waiting here for you," Ivan lied. He didn't even have to hesitate; it was almost instinctive for him. He offered them a wry smirk as he stared at the young prince with innocent eyes.
"Let's get this meeting under way," the young prince snarled.
'Yes, your Majesty," Ivan said standing up and bowing his head. "Where shall we begin?"
"How about the travesty that was the invasion!" the prince snapped. He threw back his cloak and planted himself at the head of the table. "What in the seven hells happened out there? We lost over half our forces to dragons? When did dragons even appear? Can someone offer me any kind of explanation?"
No one could give him an answer, since none of them were capable of understanding it themselves. Only Ivan knew, but he bit his tongue. He ran his finger around on the desk before him, drawing random shapes. Just another boring meeting. But then again, maybe he could use something like this to his advantage. He had to do his best to hide his grin.
"One thing is for certain we have to do something about this dragon menace," Ivan muttered. "Otherwise they could destroy our own country. Think about it, we're right there on the border with the. It's only a matter of time before they turn their attention to us. Prince Jude, you have an obligation to protect your country and your people."
The faces in the room went pale including the young prince. All eyes turned towards Jude with eager to how he will respond.
"What do you propose we do?" Jude asked.
"There is no possible way we can handle the ordeal of dragons on our own," Ivan replied. "Perhaps it would be better if we asked for assistance from the other countries. After all, it everyone is in danger if dragons are flying about the continent. It would be better for everyone."
"Very well," Jude sighed. "Have them send messages to every country, informing them of the dilemma."
"You think other countries will believe us when we tell them that dragons attacked us?" one of the council members asked.
"It does seem rather farfetched your majesty," replied another.
"I don't care, there is no way we can handle this situation on our own. We've already suffered major loses in the first day alone. There's no way we'll be able to handle them on our own."
"We have to do something," Ivan said. "This is an issue that must be dealt with."
"Very well, do as Ivan instructs," Jude ordered. "Have it done. We may be at peace now, but who knows how long that will last?"
Every man stood up and bowed their heads. Ivan was a bit relieved himself. He liked short meetings, they were usually the best. Then again the prince was stern and wanted matters to be resolved as soon as they could.
As they began to file out a young woman entered the room. Her long, wavy blonde hair fluttered around her shoulder. She had soft, pale skin and a gentle smile. She wore a white laced dress with silver trimmings that glittered vibrantly in the sunlight that seeped in through the windows.
"Layla what are you doing here?" Jude asked as the girl stepped to the side to let the council members pass by. He approached her, she smile lightly as each man left the room. They returned her smile and nodded their heads subtly as they walked on by her.
"I'm sorry," she said sweetly, "I was looking for you."
He loved that about her. He thanked the gods that he was able to convince her father to allow them to marry. There was no other princess, or girl for that matter that he would rather have for his wife. He loved the way she smiled at him, the way she looked at him with gleaming eyes that made him feel a certain warmth in the base of his heart.
"I was concerned something happened to you during the war," she replied. "I thought you were hurt. I heard there were dragons! Is everything alright?"
"Everything is fine my love," Jude sighed as he rubbed his hand on her cheek. "There were dragons but I made it out unscathed."
The princess's eyes changed from one of concerned to something more serious. He had never seen that gaze in her eyes before and it troubled him deeply. He never wanted her to be worried or to stare at him with anger.
"You never answered my question before you left," she sneered tearing her hands away and folding them across her chest. "Why did you invade Draconia? They were our friends and they never did any harm to you or my country."
"Ivan told me they were amassing a large army to attack us, and that was confirmed by the deposed king Ancologia himself," Jude answered. "I'm sorry, I would rather have peace but it seems that our troubles have only become that much more grave. I wish I could live out the rest of my life beside you, but I have my own duties to attend to."
She was the reason he told his armies to flee the moment they saw the dragons. Most, actually he had to admit that all the men in the city were eradicated by the dragons. He chose not to fight. He wanted to return home to her, safe and unspoiled. He wanted to be with her more than anything. She was his reason for returning home.
"Promise me this," she said returning to that sweet innocent look that he loved. "Promise me that you will return home safely."
Weeks had passed and many of the nearby countries had already assembled their armies as they prepared to move towards Draconia. Jude led his armies near the rear, as tens of thousands of soldiers stood arranged into their battalions. Jude met with several of the other kings that were prepared for war. Though not every major city or nation chose to participate. Jude had received word from Lord Makarov, Steward of Magnolia that his forces will not be participating in the war against the dragons. He reasoning was that there was no justification.
With Magnolia refusing to participate, other countries followed. Even Junelle did not wish to partake in the war. They reasoned the same rationale that Magnolia did. They were chastised by the other countries around Fiore, but Jude had assembled over a hundred thousand soldiers. All of them carried bows to fire at the dragons. Catapults with netting to bring the beast down were also arranged near the back. They were ready as they would ever be, and Jude hoped it would be enough.
Igneel watched from afar as the vast force drew nearer to their country.
"What is your plan, Igneel?" Metalicana asked as the chrome dragon squatted next to the red one.
"Wait for all of them to cross our borders. Fly around the mountain, draw them in as far as you can. Once their in, we'll fly around and ambush them from all sides. I'll go out first and you have everyone follow me. Is that understood?"
"Yes," Metalicana said as he flew off.
Igneel continued to watch and once he had seen the armies march in to the point that they had fully crossed in. Igneel licked his chops as he hovered into the air and soared down towards his assailants.
Jude spotted the red dragon spiraling towards them. Shouts echoed through the ranks as the commanders gave their separate orders to have their soldiers ready themselves. But what Jude saw next is what sent a icy chill down his spin as his heart sank. As the red dragon drew closer, hundreds of others suddenly flew out of the trees and behind the city walls. Hundreds of dragons suddenly appeared, all of them soaring straight towards the large amass of men.
When the dragons were within range the catapults unleashed their nets. Igneel bobbed and weaved, dodging them with ease. He began is decent upon his enemies as he opened his mouth to let a storm of flames rain down up them. Men cried in horror and agony, as Igneel flew threw them, scorching every man unfortunate enough to be below his blaze.
The catapults launched their nets, most of them missing, but a few found their marks. Most of the men fired arrows, but all they did was ricochet off the beast's hide. Some dragons collided onto the ground, roaring in fury as they seared through with their own flames. Regardless, the arrows and nets continued to soar through the air.
Igneel circled behind the armies lines, there were still dozens of arrows being shot at him, but he blew them aside with the flap of a wing. He opened his mouth and set the grass behind the men a lit with fire. He didn't have enough to cover the mile long rows of soldiers, but it would keep a good many of them from retreating. They were the dragons to kill.
When the dragons reached their marks, they bombarded the soldiers with rivers of flames that incinerated everything they touched. Hundreds of agonizing screams echoed through the countryside. Large, blazing fires engulfed most of the fields as men ran around in panic and disarray. The frantically shot lines of arrows only to watch them helpless bounce off the scales. It hadn't even been more than five minutes before half of the large force had been either roasted or gnashed by dragon talons and teeth.
Metalicana swooped down behind a row of archers that readied their arrows to shoot at a group of dragons that flew to passed them. He hovered in closely as he picked up two handfuls of the men and launched himself high in the air. He could feel them struggle in his grip as he soared straight up. He could hear their screams and pleas. He looked down, now the armies below him were like little black dots that lined the green landscape. It was then that he opened his talons up and let loose the men as the howled, falling towards their deaths.
Jude watched as the slaughter continued. It was completely futile. Their weapons were useless, and their men were nothing more than sheep to the slaughter.
"Tell the men to fall back!" Jude ordered.
"Fall back! Fall back!"
It didn't take any more convincing as the soldiers immediately fled. The dragons continued to soar down and torch everything in their path. Igneel saw the soldiers flee as he landed amidst the carnage. He bellowed out a fierce roar as half the dragons ceased their assault. The other half continued their onslaught. Igneel roared again, but still many of the dragons did not heed him. They slashed and burned every man they could reach.
Frustrated Igneel flew up and chased after them, blocking them from any further attacks. Metalicana and the other dragons followed Igneel's lead. The dragons that wanted to continue their attack but Igneel and his followers continued to impede them.
Igneel hovered in front of another dragon, one with saphire like scales. His black eyes leered at him frustrated.
"Stand aside Igneel," he hissed.
"This fight is over," he retorted, "let them run. The message has been sent. They will no longer bother us now."
"You are a fool, we will never be safe as long they still live!"
"How are they even a threat to us?" Igneel retorted. "All of you, stand down and let them go. The war is over now!"
"I said stand aside!" The sapphire roared as it lifted its talons slashed at Igneel's throat. Igneel flew backwards avoiding the slash as he lifted his own talons up and pounced on the blue dragon. He drove the dragon down to the ground, grasping it by the neck with his teeth.
Loud roars bellowed throughout Draconia as the two sides began to clash. Dragons collided in the air, throwing one another down to the ground, knowing and gnashing at each other. Igneel pinned his opponent to the ground as he looked up to see the dragons had turned on one another. Fortunately, it allowed for what soldiers remained alive to escape.
"Enough!" Igneel roared, but the fighting would not cease. The dragon he had pinned down beneath him threw him off and flew away.
Igneel bellowed once more as the fighting stopped as the dragons flew of in different directions. Metalicana swooped down and landed next to Igneel.
"Is seems that the war is over for now," Metalicana sighed.
"For now," Igneel reiterated.
When Jude returned to Konvern with the rest of his army returned home, though there were only enough to form a single regiment. Jude himself was slouched over in defeat. He felt humiliated. All the other forces chose to return home after the battle. They had fled but they noticed that the dragons had not followed them. There was no use, if the dragons chose to attack they could not repel them. But after hours of discussion, they concluded that it seemed like the dragons did not follow them. Whether it was because they did not want to, or because they couldn't didn't make a difference. They were safe as long as they weren't in Draconian land.
Once Jude was safely within his own city's walls he returned to the castle. As his horse rode up to the castle gate, Layla sprinted out and leapt into his arms crying. Jude embraced her and drew her in close. He breathed a sigh of relief, and in that moment all his troubles disappeared.
"You came home," she sobbed happily.
"I promised you that I would," Jude sighed breaking away from his wife.
"Jude," she said quietly, almost like a whisper. "There's something else I need to tell you."
Jude looked at cautiously as he saw a twinkle in the blonde queen's eyes. "Jude, I'm pregnant!" More tears of joy busted forth as she choked out a nervous laugh.
"What?" Jude gasped. "Are you serious?"
Layla nodded before looking down and patting her stomach. "Yes."
"Oh, glorious day!" Jude shouted as he lifted her up and spun her in the air.
Finally, some good news; after a day like this, this was something Jude needed. The stress of the battle melted away as he was suddenly filled with joy and happiness.
Ivan watched from the monarchs from the tower window with a stern glower upon his brow. He had heard of the news earlier and, unlike the other council members, he was not happy to hear the news of the queen's pregnancy. As he watched them he soon felt a cold ambiance in the air.
"I'm surprised you're willing to show yourself after what you've done," he grunted.
"Easy there Ivan, don't forget whom it is you are speaking to," Ancologia said as he walked up beside the nobleman. He took a deep breath. "So, the queen is pregnant. That should put a damper into your plans."
"Only if it's a boy," Ivan retorted.
"Regardless, the queen can always have another child. Then there's the option that Jude marries his daughter off and gives the throne to a son-in-law."
"Well then I just have to make sure that does not happen."
"I don't know if that's for you to decide Ivan," Ancologia replied. "Then again, I'm here if you ever want to make a deal."
"After what happened last time?" Ivan scoffed. "No thanks."
"Fair enough, but there is something else that might intrigue you."
"And what would that be?"
"Back in Draconia, there are dragons that are about to or have just recently given birth. I might interest you to get your hands on a couple. They could prove to be very valuable assets to the man who raises them."
"Really?" Ivan said musing it over. "Interesting." A wide smirk crossed his lips.
"That's one hell of a story," Natsu exhaled as he slumped down and folded his arms across his chest.
"After the end of the war the dragons were split amongst one another. Fortunately, it did not lead to any further violence between our peoples. The border spell may have kept us from leaving, but it also prevented the revenge that so many of us so desperately want."
"And where can I find this Ancologia?" Natsu asked. "I will rip his head off!"
"Easy now boy," Igneel replied. "Ancologia is a man of the dark arts, and not someone to be trifled with. Back when I knew him as a younger man he was skilled in the martial arts. Though that was many, many years ago. I don't know if he still has his skills that he once did. You cannot underestimate him or else he will kill you my son."
"I like to see him try," Natsu grinned.
Igneel admired his son's spirit but he was still rather worried about him. He was a stubborn knucklehead, but still admirable. That confidence was something he hadn't seen before. If he didn't know what it was his son he would have undoubtedly thought that his son was arrogant. But his son didn't seem to have that.
"But there is something I have to do first," Natsu continued. "I have to find a way to finish this war once and for all. However, Gajeel and I are running out of time and there's no way we can win without Sting and Rogue's help."
"And why won't they help you?"
"Well I think that they'll help us now, but we don't have time to get back to the front before the war starts. We've wasted too much time here as it is," Natsu said. His eyes went wide as he realized what he had said. He looked up half expecting his father to be offended. "Not that spending time here in the country was a waste of time!"
Igneel chuckled. "I understand and I may have a way to help you. Here, follow me to the keep."
Natsu did as his father instructed and headed towards the keep. Igneel flew over head and landed just in front of the entryway. After receiving instructions on where to go he headed up towards the library that his father had told him about. The hallways were covered in grime and mold, and black water leaked from the crevices above. Mice and bugs scurried about and slid into whatever cracks they could escape to.
When he saw the door that Igneel told him about he noticed that the door was still intact in original state. It was as though it had escaped the test of time. Natsu placed his hand on the handle, a cold sensation radiated through his body. He pushed open the door, revealing the library. Just like the door, everything was clean and tidy. Though the windows that lined the walls were covered in dust that Natsu could not see out of them.
Natsu came to the room that his father had spoke of and entered as well. He could shake the feeling that there was something sinister about it. The room was clean, all apart from the window that was just like in the library. The room was empty for the most part, except for a few books that remained on the shelves and a few on the table. Natsu inspected the entire room until he found what he was looking for. There on the table was a book, and to Natsu's surprise there was no dust on it. That wasn't even the strangest part of it, there was a bookmark in it. Natsu flipped it open to find that the page he had been looking for contained exactly the spell he was looking for.
Natsu heard the sound of grumbling out of the window as he walked over and opened it.
"Did you find it?" Igneel asked as he peered inside.
"Yeah," Natsu replied. "It was even bookmarked."
"Strange," Igneel said. "He either left it because he had used it to memorize it, or he planned on someone finding it eventually. I wasn't even sure that it would be here, lucky us!"
"Yeah!" Natsu said grinning widely. "Now how do I use this thing? I just say the words right?" He peered down and read the words to himself but nothing happened. He mumbled them a little louder, yet still nothing.
"Magic doesn't work that way," Igneel replied. "People have to either be born with it or learn it from some that can already use it. I don't know how Ancologia acquired the ability to use it after his meeting with the one that sold him the book. But then again, he was the descendent of a line of wizards. Though I doubt that he learned it on his own."
"So how am I supposed to learn it?" Natsu asked.
"You're not," Igneel said. "Tell me the words and I will say them."
"You know how to do magic?" Natsu asked eargerly.
"No, but since I have been affected by magic I might be able to do something," he replied.
"Okay the words are, Sic Eritis in Draconem," Natsu said.
Igneel spoke the words but Natsu felt nothing.
"I don't seem to feel any—" Natsu stopped as he felt a burning sensation in his gut.
It was like the transformation that he experienced before but far worse. He lunged over, his skin transformed into scales and his eyes slit. His fingers turned into talons. Igneel was a bit stunned how fast the transformation was taking place, and how much more natural it seemed for Natsu.
The boy let out a cry as he lunged over feeling his bones break as he lunged out of the window. Igneel caught him with his teeth and placed him onto the cobblestone street. He howled as he slowly morphed into a small dragon before rising up and standing before his father.
"Now, tell me what is your name?" Igneel asked.
Natsu was confused but he answered his father's question, "My name is Natsu."
"No, what is your full name?"
Now Natsu was even more curious. What did his father mean by that? He had only one name. There were no slaves that had surnames.
"What do you mean? My only name is Natsu."
"No, it is not. Your name is Natsu Dragoneel! Son of Igneel Dragoneel, descendent of the stewards of Draconia!" Natsu beamed with pride as his father nodded his head. "Now my son, you have your way of returning to the field of battle just in time."