Children of the Dragon Wars

Chapter 56

"I need you to watch over someone," Ivan said as he slouched down onto a chair opposite the side of an elderly gentleman.

The old man had long gray hair, and a silver beard. His skin was wrinkled and leathery and he had dull eyes. He had a gentle smile about him. There was a subtle friendliness as he peered into the black abyss that was the cloak figure of Ivan. The two of them sat in a small room, surrounded by flaming torches that hung upon the walls. In the middle of the room was a circular table to which Ivan and the old man sat across from one another.

"Is that why you brought me here?" the old man asked with a slight chuckle. "Because you need me to watch over someone? I thought that you were so powerful that you could see all? Isn't that why you have your scots scouring the countryside and the kingdom?"

"Theatrics my old friend, theatrics," Ivan answered. "Though I wouldn't have to if you hadn't decided to abandon your practice."

"I had my phase with magic, but that was long ago," the old man replied. "I abandoned the practice to prevent myself from becoming just like you and Ancologia. I have escaped with my sanity still enacted. It's not too late for you either Ivan, you could turn back."

"You don't understand, it is far too late for me now old friend," Ivan said. There was a hint of sorrow in his voice. "Now I have to follow through with my plans. I will become king not only of Konvern, but of all of Fiore. And that boy is going to help me get there."

"And pray tell, what are your plan to accomplish this Ivan?" the old man asked. "How will you turn the boy against his masters to your side?"

"Oh, I can't tell you that, Rob" Ivan laughed. "Otherwise you could tell the boy and everything would be ruined. I just need you to look after him and make sure he is well taken care of. I have use for him in the future."

"So do you fear this child or you wish to use him as you are currently doing to me?" Rob said leaning forward with a sly grin. "Now you have my interest."

"That depends on whether or not Ancologia's plans go as intended. Though I have admit that I doubt that very much. He is far too greedy to take what he can get; he stole the Draconian treasure that he promised me. I fear that his lust for more power will lead to his downfall."

"And what about you?" Rob asked. "What will be your downfall?"

"Easy there Rob, you're treading into some dangerous territory."

"I'm already in dangerous territory, just being here," Rob sighed. "You know when I left the Tower of Heaven I never had any intention of returning. I am no longer a mage, and I left this place along with anyone who was still sane. Not that Hades was sane, but still it was better than losing our minds to the madness. Zeref led us on the path to utter destruction. If we don't allow magic to die or to start over again, then the results will be devastating."

"Then let what happens happen," Ivan replied. "But that boy could play a huge role in the outcome of magic's future. So, that's why I want you to go in and watch the boy. Help raise and take care of him. Nurture him and make him strong. Make sure that he doesn't become a pawn of his masters."

"How exactly will I do that?" Rob asked.

Ivan responded by reaching down beneath the table and pulling out slave rags. Rob looked at the rags with a displeased glower before looking back up at Ivan.

"You're kidding me," Rob sighed annoyed, half expecting for it to be a joke. He hoped that this was some cruel prank that Ivan was putting him through.

"Nope," Ivan said standing up. "Now, do me this favor and I promise to repay you for it. You won't actually be a slave, but I can't have anyone going around suspecting that you're anything but. Make sure you take care of the boy Rob."

Ivan turned and began to walk away.

"I never should never have allowed you to have the Book of Zeref," Rob sighed. "Looks like I have no choice in the matter. And by the way, what is the boy's name?"

"Natsu," Ivan replied just as black smoke loomed around him. "Natsu Dragoneel." With that Ivan left the room, closing the door behind him.

"Natsu Dragoneel eh?" Rob said rubbing his chin. "The son of Igneel. Poor boy, he doesn't deserve this." He grabbed the slave rags and began to dress.

Natsu sprinted down the hall wondering just how long the hallway was. Each second felt like hours and the window didn't seem to get any closer. He began to wonder if perhaps this was some trick used by Ancologia to keep him from actually reaching his destination. He closed his eyes and with a loud scream he burst forth as he could feel his body collide with some hard substance. He heard the shattering of glass as he toppled out of a window. When he opened his eyes he realized that he was in fact out of the tower plummeting to the ocean below.

What dismayed him the most was that he could see Arcadios falling not towards the ocean, but rather the jagged rocks of the island. There was no way that the knight could survive either, but the rocks were just a bit more gruesome.

Natsu could feel the harsh flurry of the wind as he fell towards Arcadios. To his dismay, the knight had already descended several stories and was falling faster and faster by the second. There was no possible way Natsu could catch up to him, except for one. Natsu closed his eyes as he felt the metamorphosis surge through him. His eyes flared and his bones cracked. He let out a howl of pain that turned into a roar. He could feel his scarf sliding from his neck as he quickly reached out and clamped onto it with talons.

Arcadios could see the boy above him slowly turning into a dragon. It was slow, and he was already nearing the half way point. He was quickly getting away from the youth, but he knew that with the power of a dragon Natsu would have be able to save him. It was only a matter of time, and though he didn't have a lot of it, there was still enough for Natsu to do his thing.

A small tear trickled down the side of Arcadios' cheek. Despite everything, Natsu was still coming to save him.

Thank you boy," he sighed as he watched the dragon outstretch its wings. "Thank you."

He would have to remember his debt to the youth. He already owed him one life, but now it was two. When they returned home, he would serve the Princess and the boy loyally. It would be nice to serve with pride for once in his life.

Natsu let out one last bellow that shook the very tower itself as his enormous wings jutted outwards. With one fell swoop, the dragon brushed through the air and glided towards the knight. Perhaps it was not the best idea since the gust of the flapping wings pushed Aracdios that much further away. Arcadios had only just passed the half way point of the tower, granted he was falling at such a rapid speed he felt like his armor was about to be ripped off his body, but Natsu was in hot pursuit.

Natsu was nearing closer to the knight, plenty of time to catch him. The dragon smiled to himself as he opened the foot that was not carrying his scarf. Aracdios reached forward, Natsu was just above him, only a few meters from the knight now. There was plenty of time for Natsu to catch him. He began to grow calm, knowing that there was nothing left for him to fear.

Natsu peered down ready to snatch Arcadios when suddenly he saw something that utterly horrified him. He could sense something eject from the side of the tower. What it was, he did not know. It was something hard and durable. The calm had vanished, replaced by panic and hurry as Natsu sensed that there wasn't much time. He was going to have to grab Arcadios and he was going to have to grab him quick. Natsu quickly tried to pluck Arcadios out of the air and he could feel the knight in his palm.

'Gotcha!' Natsu exclaimed. But just as his talons were about to curl around Arcadios' body, he felt as though he had crashed into a hard surface, shattering it.

Natsu let out a cry of pain as he found his entire body flinging in the air, colliding with the side of the tower. Pieces of brick ejected forward and slide down. Natsu could feel them falling on him like heavy pieces of hail. He flapped his wings, but he had no idea what direction he was arching towards. Hopefully it was up. But pieces of debris from the tower and whatever surface he went barreling through were striking him from every direction.

His eyes were darting all across the plane. One moment he could see the ocean, and the very next he was looking back up at the sky. But his eyes caught something, something

He continued to be flung around as he managed to flap just a few more times to regain himself. He looked down and let out a sigh of relief. He was no more than a few stories from colliding onto those jagged island rocks. He hovered just a bit but a large piece of debris came barreling down, striking hard in the back and impelling down upon the rocks anyways.

If not for the iron strength of his scales Natsu was certain he would have perished. His body had shattered one of the jagged pieces laying even more debris at his base. The only fortunate thing was that it created a smooth patch for him to lay on.

Natsu could feel blood coursing its way along his side, as some of the blood seeped through his armor. There were a few cuts that were created by the rocks and bricks that he crashed into. Dragon scales were tough, that much was certain but they weren't completely invulnerable. Every orifice of his body ached, and he could feel his bones had cracked during the fall. How many bones he had shattered, he could not guess. He did not want to guess. He let go of Arcadios as he tumbled over to the side and with a couple deep breaths he reverted to his human state.

Panting heavily Natsu laid there, staring out into the harsh afternoon sun as it slowly crept below the horizon. Natsu groaned as slid over to his side, clamping down on the gash on his left hip. He tried to sit up, but winced and fell back down in pain as he realized that he might have just broken a few of his ribs. Maybe he wasn't ready for this? Perhaps he did rush into this. He wanted this to be over, more than anything he did. And now he was at the cusp of it all and all he could do was lie there in pain as the enemy that he had only just discovered stood at the top of that massive tower waiting for him.

Natsu looked around him, debris was scattered everywhere, from chunks of the tower wall to the rocks of the island. Even pieces of the armor he had worn to the tower lay shredded. 'So much for that,' he thought rolling his eyes. He took in a deep breath as the salty sea air filled his lungs. Then he spotted his scarf lying only a few meters away, snagged on the tip of one of the jagged rocks. Natsu rolled over and slowly crawled towards it. He reached up and removed it before slouching his back against the rock.

"Hell of a fall wasn't it Arcadios?" Natsu gasp through his wheeze. He sniffed hard and coughed lightly. "Arcadios?"

He looked over to where he had crashed and there he saw the knight lying motionless on the ground. Natsu took in a deep breath and felt his heart fall in his chest. The youth collapsed as he attempted to walk towards his friend. He hit the ground with a hard thud and began to crawl. The man laid perfectly still without even the slightest twitch.

"Arcadios," Natsu mumbled as he continued to crawl towards his old friend.

After scraping through rock and dirt natsu finally managed to drag himself to Arcadios' side. Peering down at his friend he found his fears had been realized. "Arcadios?" Natsu muttered, sliding his hands beneath Arcadios' head and lifting it up.

Blood oozed from the orifices of Arcadios' eyes and nose, leaving little streams of crimson upon his cheeks. He wasn't breathing, and his body was stiff as though frozen. His head was limps and fell to the side as soon as Natsu had picked it up. His eyes were still wide yet there was a distant hollowness about them. There was no life radiating in them anymore.

"Arcadios," Natsu sobbed as he hugged his head against his late friend's chest. He squeezed the body tightly as tears poured from his eyes. He felt nauseated and his heart ached as though there was an invisible hand squeezing it fiercely.

Natsu's gaze went up as he saw the remnants of a wall that was sticking out of the tower. It appeared suddenly as they were falling; Ancologia's hand was in this. That wall was the thing Natsu had crashed into when he attempted to save Arcadios. He had been too late, the crash is what led to Arcadios' demise.

Several minutes had passed as Natsu continued to sob before laying the knight's head upon the ground once more. He wiped away his tears and, with trembling legs, stood back up to his feet. His eyes lifted towards the top of the tower as he slowly limped back towards the entryway. He wanted to fly up there but his body throbbed with such intensity he couldn't bring himself to the task. Regardless, he threw his scarf around his neck and pressed on. He came here for a reason, and he wasn't about to let a few cracked ribs and bruises stop him. He needed to be avenged, his family needed to be avenged, his people and his friend Arcadios. Ancologia was going to pay for this.

Meanwhile Gajeel remained standing near the entryway to the large chamber that both he and Ancologia resided. The dark wizard had his back turned towards the youth, as though Gajeel was not there. Gajeel was a bit offended but at the same time he remained steady. He didn't know what to do, at that point. He expected to tag team this fight with Natsu, and not alone.

"They took quite the tumble," Ancologia said, his back still turned towards the young Draconian. "Don't worry your friend is still alive," Ancologia said finally turning to face Gajeel, "barely. The knight on the other hand, . . . he wasn't so fortunate. Sorry, I wanted to have a more snide remark, but I just couldn't think of one."

Gajeel glared at Arcadios as the man burst into laughter. He slid his foot back and raised his fists. He wasn't going to go out without a fight. Ancologia folded his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow. Ancologia took a step forward as Gajeel hunched down half expecting the wizard to make a move. Once more Ancologia jerked forward causing Gajeel to flinch. The wizard was now flicking his eyebrows.

Gajeel knew the wizard was just toying with him. That sly smirk across his lips aused the young Draconian's blood to boil. His lips trembled as he lunged towards Ancologia as his gut and heart burst as though they were in flames. His skin morphed into scales, his eyes slit forward and his hands morphed into claws. He almost felt the wings spouted from his back when he was abruptly stopped. It was as though he ran into an invisible wall of glue. He could not move his body; his bones and muscles were frozen in place. He was only meters from Ancologia as he growled and desperately tried to move his body.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on there Redfox," Ancologia said smugly. "You think I'm just going to let you come prancing in here, in my tower and turn into a dragon? Nah-ah, that's not happening."

"You're insane!" Gajeel barked. He might not have been able to move his body but at least he could still speak.

"I know, I know, I get that a lot," Ancologia replied. He then threw his hand to the side, hurling Gajeel into one of the pillars, shattering it. Pieces of rubble collapsed on top of him. He grunted, picking himself back up to his knees shaking the debris off his body. "Oh, come on! You have any idea how much that cost? Well to be honest, I don't, but I'm sure it's expensive. It looks expensive. I mean its marble so I would think it's expensive."

Gajeel returned to his feet wiping blood from his forehead. Fortunately, his scales prevented him from sustaining any serious injuries.

"Is that all you got?" Gajeel stammered. He rubbed off the blood that oozed out of the corner of his lips.

"Do you really want to test me?" Ancologia asked.

He held up his hand one more time as a spiral of black gas enveloped around his palm. He shot at Gajeel as the youth held up his arms to protect himself. Gajeel could sense the magic coming towards him. It moved slowly, as though frozen in time. Despite his keen sense and his quick reflexes, the attack moved so swiftly that he still had no time to react. Nothing more than a desperate attempt to shield his body from the magic was all Gajeel could do. The blast hit him hard, sending him barreling into the wall as before falling back down onto the tile floor.

"See? I have a lot more than that too," Ancologia said snidely. He raised his hands as Gajeel went flying before colliding with the roof and falling down hard upon the floor.

Gajeel grumbled as he slowly crept back up to his knees. Even though the collision wasn't too severe, Gajeel felt like there was a tremendous weight barring down upon him. Before Gajeel could fully rise to his feet Ancologia started to spin his finger around in circles. Gajeel found his body twirling around in place, going dizzy and spiraling in the air. Each movement Ancologia made his finger was a jerking motion that controlled the youth's body.

"What are you doing?" Gajeel roared as he was being spun around.

Ancologia did not answer but continued to twirl his hands in the air. He then brought his hands together while Gajeel continued to spin in the air. Fire erupted from his hands as a river of flames flooded out and engulfed Gajeel. The youth left his hands up in front of him just as soon as the flames surrounded his body. He could feel this armor burning against his chest. When the flames died down Ancologia pulled his hands back revealing a now glowing Gajeel. His armor was as orange as burning cinders and his scales were blackened to ash.

"Dragons are immune to fire," Gajeel jeered. "That attack won't work on me!"

"Really? Well how about this then?"

Gajeel noticed that water began to spurt forth from the cracks in the tile before fully erupting forth surrounding him in a bubble. It was an immediate eruption that consumed the youth in the blink of an eye. The water was cold as ice, and Gajeel felt like the blood in his veins were about to freeze. He let out a deep breath and his keen vision was blurred by bubbles and fragments of frost that appeared before him.

"If heat won't work, maybe the chill will," Ancologia taunted.

Gajeel noticed that the water surrounding him was beginning to freeze itself. Little specs of ice began to spread out through the water. He cold hear the ice cracking before suddenly the entire ball went solid. Ancologia lowered his hands once more to marvel his work. He held his arms out in admiration of the perfect sphere of solid ice that stood hovering before him. He stood smugly for several seconds before he found himself becoming annoyed.

"Well that's nice and all, but when are you going to blow the thing up?" Ancologia sighed placing his hands on his hips. He pursed his lips and let out a disappointed sighed. He was expecting a little more of this fight than what he was receiving. "Come on boy I haven't got all day! Blow the thing up so I can use my next trick on you!"

Just as he had finished his demand the ball of ice shattered, fragments of slush were sent hurling through the corridor before Gajeel landed back on his feet. His scales were now a bluish-white. He stood shivering before he let out a breath of fire at the base of his feet as the flame rose up and melted the remaining frost. Gajeel panted with heavy breaths, wiping his lips

"Now that's better," Ancologia teased holding up his palm. Gajeel struggled to stand on his knees; they wobbled like jelly. Arcadios began to walk around Gajeel in a semi-circle. "So what's next? Lighting?" Little sparks sputtered out of his hand like little firecrackers. "Poison?" A purplish gas smoldered forth before dying down. "Or maybe . . ." he smiled widely. Gajeel didn't like that smile, not so much because of the smugness but because he didn't know what to expect.

A strong wind came roaring forth with an immense furry that Gajeel tried to protect himself but it was useless. The wind went sweeping by, slicing and hacking at him like thousands of tiny daggers. His armor was shredded by the wind as pieces of metal poured down from his body. His skin repelled most of them but some he would not escape completely unscathed. Blood trickled down from the gashes and wounds that did manage to cut through his scales, even if it was only a few.

"You got to love the razor wind spells," Ancologia shouted gleefully. "They may not be the most useful attacks, but they are still pretty cool to use. More fun actually. But so is lightning!" He threw his hands forth as white streaks flew across the room, striking Gajeel in the chest.

He could see it coming, every motion, every jolt through the molecules of air in the room. He could see it coming, but his body ached with such ferocity that even if he was physically capable of dodging the attack he couldn't. The bolts him, flinging him back into the wall as brick and stone toppled down upon him. His vision went dark, and his body stiff. Ancologia had struck him directly in the chest, just above the heart.

Gajeel could feel his body go numb as he reverted back to his human form against his will. His eyes were heavy, and each breath ached his lungs. Each breath was a struggle. It felt like he was inhaling thousands of little pins that pierced through his organs. He could feel his heart beat waning with each passing second. There was no movement left in him any more. Eventually the weight of his eyelids was too much and he drifted off into the blackness.

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