She found him on the remains of a battlefield. Wrapped in the arms of a red haired woman as she lay on the ground struggling to hold on to the last remains of her life. He looked at her with blue e...
Author's Note: Cana's recollections of the past give no indication that they had teammates for this exam. One of the reasons I think they included it in the first place was so that Happy and Lucy could be there without actually taking part. Sorry for the lack of originality with the character choices, but I honestly didn't know who to use without creating an OC character which is something I wanted to avoid for this. Creating a random OC is okay as long as they're not a member of Fairy Tail, because when that happens you have to remember them later on. Which just complicates things. And now… we finally arrive at the S-Class exams or at least at the beginning. The story is making progress again. Hallelujah!!!
'Fishing' - Normal
'Fishing' - Spells
'Fishing' - Thoughts, Flashbacks and Dreams (Use logic to differentiate!)
Naruto would never admit to stalking. No that was far to disturbing a name and something he'd never confess to. It seemed far to dirty. Spying didn't really sound much better though it was certainly preferable. As it was he'd taken to referring to his activities as recon. Out of all the various terms he'd gone through it seemed the least damaging to his integrity. Research and gathering intelligence were also acceptable terms in his book. Much better then stalking, spying or data theft.
Currently he found himself using his favourite ghostlike technique to hide himself in a tree from where he observed the training of one of his future opponents. He wouldn't have had to stoop to this level if Makarov had some sort of detailed list of everyone's abilities in Fairy Tail, but unfortunately he didn't and Naruto found himself using more underhanded means to get some intel.
If, he was going to be fighting these people then he wanted to know what he was up against. Going in blind was like raising for hands to the heavens and shouting "Please, please, please! I beg of you! Kill me now!" and that was not something he was going to do. He wanted strategies.
Over the last week he'd dedicated his mornings - the torturous time it was - to research his competitors. Personally he thought Makarov had been on a binge when he'd picked his competition for the S-Class exam. Largely because he thought several of them were far to young to compete. One of the reasons he refused to hold one last year was because he said there were too few candidates and he wanted them to mature a bit. Then he went and picked Cana, Mirajane and Erza. All of whom were between a year or two younger then him. It was really a question on his sanity. In fact Laxus was the oldest one competing and he was only seventeen. He found the whole thing absolutely ridiculous.
But, he dared not say that to Makarov's face. Not because he feared what the man would do to him. No, it was rather because he knew that if one of the girls got wind he'd be dodging their attempts to end his life for the rest of his existence. That would be unpleasant.
Currently speaking though he was busy spying on Mirjane. Whom he was aware specialised in Take-Over magic though he lacked details as she'd yet to use her full take-over in the practice he'd seen her do. So, unlike his information on Cana, Erza and Laxus hers was definitely lacking. It didn't help that she was the newest addition to Fairy Tail and he hadn't had too much time to observe her magic. At the moment he could only make guesses as to what she could do, her nickname "Demon Mirajane" being his only clue. Though to be honest he was quite sure he could have guessed that himself given the demonic feeling he got from her magic.
Sighing to himself he held his position crouched inside the tree only his face visible as it peered through a bush. It was mildly uncomfortable and he only kept in the mild range because Margidda had once made him do worse. Holding one position on your toes at the edge of a cliff during a storm for an entire day was not a pleasant experience. Fiddling with his hair out of habit. Today was proving especially boring because all the girl was doing was mediating. He would have questioned the reasons had he not been a take-over mage himself.
She was commentating with her take-over beast. It would have been amazing to watch if he was a mind reader, it would also give him a few tips on what to do. As it was all he got to see was the occasionally flare of demonic magic. Nothing too fascinating except making it clear her take-over was a powerful one, the brief flares giving him a glimpse into vast magical reserves. But still he persisted… he was hoping for a glimpse into something, anything to give him a clue as to what he was up against.
He would be patient even if it killed him or more correctly… gave him some serious muscle cramps.
When he woke up that morning. The day they were to leave and stared at the ceiling. What was he to feel right now? What would be the appropriate feelings to have about the day he was to embark on. If it were a simple answer then he wouldn't be questioning, wouldn't be wondering. But, he felt no overwhelming emotion that dictated to him how he felt. Was nothing and emotion he should be feeling?
Is this unease? he wondered as he rolled over and stared at the wall. Is this what I'm feeling? Unease. He reached up a hand to fiddle with his hair, twirling the piece between his fingers. It did not feel like unease, though perhaps it was nervousness. It would be natural after all to feel nervous before such a day and yet he wasn't sure if that was what he was feeling at all. He supposed it could be excitement. Excitement though was something he was familiar with. It was a part of how he felt in battle. At least a battle that tested him, though that was perhaps more of a battle lust then excitement.
He sighed once again and returned to the position on his back. Is it determination then that I am feeling, that I should be feeling. Is it determination that this time drives me forward. Determination to win everything. To fight till I have nothing left. It felt more appropriate then anything else, so perhaps it's what he should take to battle with him. Determination. It had taken him through hell and back before. Perhaps that is what he should were as shield today.
He pushed himself into a sitting position and looked out at the window across the room. It may be that all I am is confused at this point.
In the end though he supposed feelings weren't something he'd ever be good at dealing with. He'd rather flush them down into the sewer and never see them again. That was, unfortunately not an option. Instead he took some advice Margidda had given him growing up. "Feel emotion. Never stop feeling it, but do not let it control you." The words she'd spoken to him the day he'd learned of his mothers death and her role in it. So, he would take that to heart. He would let whatever emotion he felt be there, but he would not bend to its will. Not today. It simply wasn't something he could afford to do.
Sighing to himself he ran a hand roughly through his hair before forcing himself out of bed. It was time to face the day and whatever it may hold. Be it failure or success he would give it everything he had. He would show them the strength of a dragon.
Laxus watched. He looked, he searched and he payed attention to the gathering of his opposition. Guild members they may be, but for now this exam had marked them as his enemies - even Naruto, especially Naruto. This morning when Naruto had joined him at the docks he'd been astonished by the serious look on his face. He'd never seen his face so cold and blank before. The uneasiness it caused was tempered only by his knowledge that it was still the same sleepy Naruto underneath. Though really he wondered why that reassured him at all. Out of all his competitors he knew Naruto was the only one who stood on equal footing with him. He was his true competition for the exam.
While he acknowledge the other girls skills and thought that would make it to S-Class one day he doubted that this was the exam to do it. They just weren't ready yet. He wondered if Makarov had allowed them to compete for the experience it would give them. It would certainly give them a leg up on future competition in the next exams.
He shook his head ruefully.
Look at me, already expecting them to fail, he thought. It didn't change his opinion though, even if it did make him seem more cocky then he'd like. He could even tell they were nervous. Oh, sure Mirajane and Erza hid it well. Their bickering certainly a good way to get over any sort of nervous feeling. Cana too seemed to have a look on her face he'd never seen before, but the nerves were there too. And Naruto… his hand was twitching.
Laxus raised a brow.
Why's his hand twitching? A new nervous tick perhaps? he wondered. Curiosity filling him he kept his gaze on his younger friend out the corner of his eye watching the twitching grow more frantic. A frown was growing on his face and Laxus could see the muscles along his jaw line clenching. What the hell is wrong with him? he thought with complete wonderment. Suddenly his whole body seemed to still. Not a movement to be seen before his shoulders slumped and in a quick shock of movement a book almost seemed to just appear in his hand - Laxus suspected some sort of requip though the speed was impressive.
He almost seemed to sigh in relief as he gazed upon the pages. The odd way he'd been acting fading beneath a completely calm surface. He wondered what kind of powers that book had to calm him so completely.
Wanting to get a better look he shifted slightly and quietly snuck up behind Naruto surprised he hadn't noticed him yet.
"Laxus," Naruto said, not looking up from his book as he turned the page.
"Er… hai," he replied still trying to get a look at the book from his frozen position.
"Why are you trying to sneak up on me?"
"Well I-" his voice caught as he finally managed to read a line of the page Naruto was avidly focused on. "Naruto?"
"Hhhmmm," he hummed in acknowledgement.
"Are you reading porn?" he asked in shock.
There was a sudden silence and Laxus realised how quiet it had been when he'd asked that question. It was then he felt a wave of killing intent focused on both of them. Blasting down upon them from the three girls on their left. How had he underestimated them? This power, this pressure. It was so strong he feared for his life, and he wasn't even on the receiving end of it. Oh, Naruto my friend. I'm so sorry to have betrayed you like this, but I cannot take this powerful wrath, he thought as he slowly started moving away from them.
Naruto's voice froze him, "You just had to say that out loud, didn't you?"
He gave him a pleading look.
"If these girls kill me then make no mistake, I will come back and haunt you," Naruto whispered menacingly.
Sighing to himself Naruto muttered just loud enough for them to hear, "This is what I get for trying to calm my nerves."
The killing intent focused upon him seemed to waver slightly as the girls looked at him in confusion.
"You're feeling nervous?" Cana whispered.
Seeing his opportunity to escape punishment Naruto put on his saddest face, "It's just that today is such a big day and I- no I shouldn't be telling you this. I'm supposed to look brave and set a good example. I don't want to trouble you with my feelings, especially when you yourselves must be going through such a tough time. It would just be cruel of me."
Watching on in shock Laxus gaped as their expressions seemed to shift from completely and utterly pissed, to slightly confused, to… endeared. It can't be possible? There's no way he can escape punishment for committing the ultimate sin in a woman's eyes!? And yet it seemed he was.
The girls suddenly converged upon him. There voices all kind and helpful. Hands rubbing his shoulders tenderly as they tried to comfort the boy who was attempted to 'hide' his 'nerves' for 'their sake'. Giving him hugs and patting him gently as if afraid his would break into tears at any moment. Laxus couldn't comprehend what he was seeing, until he heard Naruto speak the words that doomed him. "I really can't believe Laxus would try and hurt me this way. I thought we were friends and suddenly he just turns on me like this," he mourned with fake tears in his eyes.
That's when he felt it their dark looks focused upon him. Stalking in front of Naruto protectively, cracking their knuckles as they glared it him with auras of darkness surrounding them. How could he have so woefully underestimated their power? The power of righteous feminine fury.
Naruto gave him a cheeky smile behind their backs and a sarcastic wave to top off his actions. And the book, the godforsaken book… was nowhere to be seen. Vanished from whence it came. It didn't, unfortunately, take his troubles with it.
Standing next to Laxus Naruto couldn't resist the smirk that rose to his lips when Makarov took in the boy slightly dirty beat up appearance.
"Do I want to know what happened here?" he asked with a cheeky sparkle in his eyes.
"No," said Laxus with a downcast look.
"Actually you probably do, but given the time constraints and your age I wouldn't want you to risk a heart attack from laughing to hard if I told you. If your desperate to hear I'll tell you later," Naruto interjected earning a dirty look from both Dreyar men. One for saying he would tell Makarov and the other for the poke at his age.
"I could still kick your ass you know!" shouted the short man pointing a finger a Naruto's face.
"I'm well aware of that, but it doesn't change the lack of any blonde left in your hair," Naruto pointed out.
Makarov growled, physically restraining himself from crushing the boy under a giant fist. Normally he wouldn't bother to, but with the exam now he couldn't damage the competitors unfairly. He had a feeling Naruto knew that. Almost pouting in defeat the old man sighing before seeming to get his spark back, giving them a grin as he hoped onto a crate.
"Today as you know we'll be travelling to an island-"
"Actually, we didn't, but carry on anyway," Laxus interjected,
"Is it Tenrou Jima?" asked Erza in excitement, "I've always wanted to go. I already have an amazing bikini picked out and everything."
Everyone seemed to stare at her in shock for several moments - even Mirajane - the surprisingly girly comment catching them off guard. Finally Makarov broke the silence, "No we will not be going to Tenrou Island. This is exam isn't a particularly large one and the island is generally saved for that."
"Oh," Erza sighed in disappointment, unaware of the shock she'd recently invoked.
"And I didn't tell you until now because I assumed you'd figured it out when I said we were meeting at the harbour," Makarov stated.
"In his defence we could have just been travelling really far down the coast. That's what I guessed anyway."
Makarov glared, "Who told you!?"
"I was right?" Naruto asked in shock. "So, before that. The whole island thing, it was just a bluff?"
He sighed, "Hai, it was supposed to be part of your test. Now I'll just have to think of something else."
"Are you allowed to do that?" Mirjane asked in surprise.
"Don't question the Master," Erza glared at her.
"You did earlier!"
"I can't believe they've fallen to this level," Naruto mumbled to Laxus as he rubbed his forehead.
He received no reply in return.
Naruto frowned, "Are you still mad about that?"
Laxus kept his jaw squared.
"Oh, come on! It happened ages ago!"
"It was five minutes!" Laxus shouted.
Naruto snickered, "Got you."
"Argh!" Laxus yelled to the air as he stalked off.
"You're acting like a five year old!" he shouted at the boys back.
The older blonde continued to walk off. Sighing to himself Naruto turned and faced Cana with a raised brow. "Can you believe that guy."
Laughing nervously Cana began shifting away from him slowly. How did she get stuck with a group of arguing psychopaths as competitors? She looked up at the sky as if questioning the heavens, "What did I do to deserve this?"
"Thank anyone who'll listen that we're finally on the boat," Laxus muttered as leaned on the railing. A sudden wave of nausea ripped through him and it was only with all his willpower he resisted throwing up all over the deck. I take it back! I take it back! he mentally yelled. He'd never been this horribly effected by transportation before. He'd sort of noticed it faintly before, just a slight feeling that could easily be ignored. But, ever since he'd started attempting to use dragon slayer magic it had been much worse. The way he was feeling on the ship right now certainly coming in a whopping first on the nausea scale.
"Feeling a little seasick," Naruto teased.
"Shut up," he muttered as he clenched his jaw.
Naruto smirked, "Let me tell you a little secret that my kaa-san told me."
"What?" he practically growled as his hands gripped the rail till his knuckles shone white.
"It's a problem that all dragon slayers suffer from," he explained.
"It's true. I have no idea why, but we really do suffer from a debilitating motion sickness."
"You look absolutely fine," he pointed out.
"True enough, but that's only because I have certain… ways to avoid it."
Laxus's eyes widened, "Tell me how."
Naruto shrugged with a look of mocking sympathy on his face, "Sorry Laxus, but it's only something I can do. I'm sure you'll eventually find your own way."
Giving him a mock salute Naruto almost seemed to float off as he walked to the other side of the ship. He had to keep a smirk hidden from his face. It really could be fun to mess with Laxus sometimes and it had helped to calm his nerves a bit. He was being honest back there though, he really didn't know a technique to help Laxus. All he did was lighten the gravity on his body so much he was only a step away from floating off the ship. He found when he did that it helped vastly to lessen the effects. So, he truly had been honest.
Reaching up a hand to twirl his hair in his hands Naruto watched from the bow of the ship at the faint line of land that had slowly been drawing nearer. He had been surprised when they hadn't followed the coastline, but had rather headed straight out to sea. He could see why it might have confused them into thinking it was an island they were heading to instead of a different coastline and yet… if they were indeed heading straight out to see then that would mean they would be going to a different country inside Earthland. A place that was not Fiore. He'd originally considered that were heading to the large island that was a part of Fiore, but when they'd passed what he guessed was the island on the right side of the ship he'd assumed he was wrong.
It was his guess then that were heading to either Bosco or Minstrel. There were trade routes he knew, the only thing was, they didn't seem to be following one. Well, they had been until recently, continuing on straight where it would normally turn.
He wondered why. He'd searched through Fairy Tails history records and in all his research he'd learned that the S-Class exam had never been held on a country outside of Fiore. He doubted the rest of them knew, it was doubtful they'd considered looking into it. But, he knew. He knew and he wanted to know now what the Master hoped to gain from it. He'd seen the way Makarov had on occasion looked at the necklace he wore in remembrance for his human kaa-san. He'd always seen it, though he'd found no records of the mark.
As the date for the exams grew closer he'd seen the Master seen more then one furtive glance at the symbol. He wondered why. It seemed to be all he ever did at the moment - wonder. But, he couldn't change that because he didn't have the answers. He wanted to know why Makarov always seemed so weary of the symbol and what it had to do with this exam. He wanted to know why they were heading to a different county when it had never happened before. He wanted to know if the two were connected. He glanced in Makarov's direction. He wanted, no he needed to know what he was hiding from him.
What are you hiding from me old man? And why do you hold such fear in your eyes when you gaze at the necklace round my neck?
Author's Note: So, this chapter sort of started out serious and then just fell out of it near the half way point - hope you found some of that funny - then got a bit more serious again at the end. I hope you get that one of the reasons they were acting in such a volatile manner was because of the nerves they were feeling. It is one of the behaviours people fall back on when nervous. I think it's called Gallows Humour. You know that sort of lighthearted joking in a life or death situation. I also wrote them on different days and while it normally doesn't effect my writing much I was feeling vastly different between the two days. Hope you liked the banter though and the final arrival at the S-Class exams. You haven't got to the main action yet, but their is a mystery brewing and a mystery is always good.
Please read and review! Tell me what liked, what you didn't and what I should do about it. Have any plot ideas then please gimme gimme! Thanks for taking the time to read this story, hope to keep you interested!
Due to problems update on FF.net I had divide my story into a separate part. That means the continuation is called River of the Night Part 2 on here. Just to keep up the consistency between both.