|More from Bomochu||Adventure/Comedy||PG-13||None|
|A Turn of Events|
13 March, 2015
"Sure thing! That sounds like lots of fun! I can't wait to beat the crap out of this 'Koh' dude!"
Lucy rolled her eyes at her friend's suggestion, "No Natsu, I never said you would be beating him up, just that if things get out of hand we may need some help, that's all. I can't have you picking fights with Celestial Spirits I haven't even met yet!" Lucy sighed angrily, "What is it with boys and their desire to fight and destroy each other?"
"That's Natsu for you!" The little blue cat next to Natsu, named Happy, chimed in agreement. He wore a green sack over his shoulders, and the fur at the end of his tail and stomach was white.
Natsu was wearing his usual clothing; a black vest with gold trim and white baggy pants ending halfway down his calves. His pink hair blew around in the light breeze, though it was usually untidy anyway. Around his waist hung a sheet-like material of the same colour and trim to his vest, and his feet were adorned in well-worn sandals. And of course, Igneel's white scarf was draped around his neck; the boy never parted with the piece of clothing. "Well, I for one think that fighting a 'Face-Stealer' would be quite fun." The Fire Dragon Slayer of Fairy Tail commented.
"He may not even have those powers Natsu, it could just be part of his name," Wendy suggested, a slightly worried look appearing on the blue-haired girl's face. "I would be rather scared of some spirit with that power."
"Perhaps we should just find out, now that we're all here behind the old Guild Hall." Lucy interrupted. They had thought it a good idea to summon this spirit here, since their old Guild Hall was higher in the hills. After many of their members went missing after the Tenrou Island incident, the remaining Fairy Tail members could not afford to maintain their first Guild Hall and so this one had served their purpose until the other members returned, and their current residence was constructed. Summoning this new spirit here meant that if things did turn sour, there wouldn't be a lot of collateral damage since nobody lived here anymore.
The young Celestial Wizard straightened her body, pointing her new Gate Key ahead of her, "Okay, let's just see what kind of Celestial Spirit you are, Koh." Lucy shut her eyes, and the other four Fairy Tail members took a few more steps backwards as she began. "I call upon thee in the world of the Celestial Spirits, I beckon you to my side at once! Pass through the Gate! Open! Gate of the Face Stealer, Koh!"
Usually a white or golden light would have appeared after Lucy's spell, though this time there was silence. Until Happy spoke up.
"I think Lucy's magic has gone weird."
"Huh?" Lucy spun around, "My magic has not gone 'weird', thank you very much! I performed the spell perfectly! There should have at least been some connection, though I felt nothing. It's like this spirit doesn't even exist." She hung her head slightly, eyes closing a little as she thought through all her options.
"Wait, Lucy," Carla responded, "You said that the 'Gate of the Face Stealer' was not a constellation you were familiar with. Perhaps then it stands to reason that this 'Koh' fellow is not a Celestial Spirit."
"But that's crazy!" Natsu interjected, "If Koh isn't a Celestial Spirit than why would he have a key thingy?"
"Well perhaps there is another spirit world, one which this Gate Key can lead to. A Gate key which summons a spirit from their spirit world." Lucy turned back to her comrades, "I am a Celestial Wizard since I summon spirits from the Celestial Spirit World, but what if... What if there are other worlds which also have spirits living in them? The notion is actually quite plausible if you think about it. And that's why my spell didn't work since there is no Celestial Spirit named Koh, but perhaps this spirit lives somewhere else."
Wendy perked her head up, "But if that's true then what is this 'spirit world' called?"
"Maybe it's just that; the 'Spirit World'," Natsu blurted out.
Lucy let out a cynical laugh, "What kind of name is that? I doubt that will be its name very much. Since there are other worlds which hold spirits it probably has a more specific name."
"Just give it a go Loony."
"Ugh," The blonde-haired wizard spun back around. "Fine, I'll indulge your little stupid idea. And that 'Loony' joke is so old now!" After inhaling deeply, Lucy once again held the mysterious Gate Key out ahead of her, keeping her other arm against her chest. She closed her eyes, waiting a few seconds to calm herself before casting the spell, "I call upon thee in the world of the Spirits, I beckon you to my side at once! Pass through the Gate!" She made sure to omit the word 'Celestial', sticking with Natus's idea. Although she had been sceptical, it seemed the Fire Dragon Slayer may have been right; Lucy could feel the air around her charging with magic energy, and a bright light had appeared underneath her form. Okay, I suppose it's working now. Lucy opened her lips again, finishing casting the spell, "Open! Gate of the Face Stealer, Koh!"
As soon as she had uttered those final words, a great beam of green energy shot down from the sky right in front of the spell-caster. Lucy flinched once she had opened her eyes, the unexpected appearance of this light making her nervous yet in awe at the same time. Swirls of yellow descended in a heavenly manner, accompanied by a sudden 'whoosh' sound as a glowing being began to take form. The glowing creature had a long body, and as the light began to fade it seemed to be some kind of centipede or insect.
"Is that... Koh?" Lucy mumbled, still inspired by this great light and energy coming from the portal.
The being before them said nothing, though his body began to wriggle slowly. Soon after, the light surrounding the centipede and the beam of energy burst into tiny specks of golden and green glitter, each speck fading after a few seconds. Without the light, the five Fairy Tail wizards could see the spirit's true form; it certainly was a centipede of some kind, and had many brownish-red legs with upper leg segments coated in a fur or hair. Two menacing dark reddish brown pincers announced the end of the beast, and each of the segments leading to the other end being dark greyish purple with a lighter variant of the colour on the ventral side. The presumed head was an almost oval shape head-on, with a fleshy red oval in the middle and eight sandy brown front legs with extended tibias clearly used for something deadly. As the spirit moved about slowly as if to gather its bearings, an eye-like slit opened up in the middle of the red oval on the head, and some kind of white face popped out. As Lucy staggered closer, she noticed that the white face was actually a Noh mask, a rather freakishly looking female face replica, with grey ovals around the eyes and bright red lips.
A deep throaty hum left the centipede's mouth as it crawled near Lucy. In a matter of seconds its eyelids burst open, revealing a pair of dead dull blue eyes. The front legs of the beast twitched as its body moved closer to the Celestial Wizard.
"My my, what strange but beautiful faces you all have," Koh uttered in a deep voice, yet his tone had a sly or smooth quality to it. His eyes rested again on Lucy's, "I might just take one for my collection!"
In a flash Koh had all eight of his front legs digging into Lucy's forehead, cheeks, and chin. A bloodcurdling scream forced its way from her lungs as she writhed about, but her face was held firmly in Koh's grasp. The Noh mask simply snickered, its dull eyes watching with a hunger and deep desire. "I've never seen a human spirit with such... blonde hair. It is rather intriguing and I must have your face!"
Suddenly Koh's body flew into the nearby tree, his front legs losing their grip of Lucy's face. A screech left the centipede's mouth as he was struck by a flame-coated fist. Natsu's fist.
The pink-haired wizard narrowed his eyes at Koh, his raw power and fury even hotter than his flames. "So, you do have the power to steal faces you creep." Natsu continued to glare his way. In an instant, a wild grin formed on Natsu's face, "Oh man this is going to be so much fun! Right Happy?!"
"Aye aye sir!" The little blue cat leapt into the air.
"We could so steal Lucy's face and sell it for lots of money!"
"Or better yet," Happy began, "We could steal her face, replace it with a gorilla's, and then stick her real face to her butt!"
A horrified Lucy soon spun around to face the cackling duo, "How can you two morons be joking at a time like this?!" Lucy bellowed at them, "I nearly had my face stolen! Ahhhhh!" The poor blonde-haired wizard burst into a flood of tears.
"Aw, cheer up Lucy, we're just messing with you. Besides, I doubt that oversized roach can really do anything," Natsu reassured. He began walking over to the recovering spirit. "Listen Koh dude, I don't know what kind of spirit you are, but you should know that all of Lucy's spirits have her back. They don't try and harm her, nor do they try to steal her face. If they do a guy with a big moustache shows up and kicks their butt!"
Lucy rolled her eyes, "Well, that's not entirely accurate."
"The point is," the fire mage continued as Koh stood back up on his legs to face him, "You are not allowed to harm Lucy in any way or we'll smack you up, ya hear?" As if to appear more threatening, Natsu ignited his fist in orange flames, holding it up so the centipede could surely see.
"What he means is," Lucy finally found the courage to step closer to her new spirit, "Is that now that we have a contract – which we still need to finalize the details of – You cannot kill or harm me in any way, well, at least that's how it works with Celestial Spirits so I assume that's how it will work with you. If you do then you will be stuck in our world until your life force finally runs out," Her thoughts quickly shifted to Loki, who had been in a similar situation at one point with the wizard he had a contract with before Lucy. "But I also promise as your wizard to never harm you either, Koh. Me and you have a contract now so we'd best be working together, I suppose. And the guy with the big moustache who Natsu mentioned is the Celestial Spirit King, though I suppose you must have your own king in your Spirit World."
The Face Stealer glanced first at Natsu, and then at Lucy, trying to make sense of what was happening. "Young man, young woman, do you both know who I am?" He began crawling in in a circle around them, slowly watching them with his dead eyes, "I am Koh, the Face Stealer. I am a powerful spirit, and I make no contracts with lesser spirits whom I have never even seen before, like you." Suddenly the eye-like slit opened once again, and out popped another face, this one a golden brown owl.
"He changed his face!" Wendy remarked from where the others stood, looking like she would hurl at any moment.
"In fact, I don't normally make contracts with any spirit at all," Koh continued, crawling closer to Wendy and the others. "My allegiance is to myself, my purpose to collect rare and beautiful faces, like the one you have little pretty one." The owl quickly changed to a face of an older man, bald with long wispy eyebrows and a white moustache. His blue eyes drilled into Wendy's terrified and fearful brown ones.
The Sky Dragon Slayer panicked, "Lucy, he's staring at me!"
"And so, I will not agree to make a contract with you, nor agree to your terms of not stealing your beautiful faces," The Face Stealer interrupted Lucy. "The truth of the matter is that I actually cannot use my powers here for some strange reason."
"You can't use your powers here at all?" Lucy questioned.
"I should have had your precious face within seconds of my grasp, or at least seen the first stages of my powers working in the time I held you in my pincers," Lucy shuddered after the centipede mentioned this, "But alas, I cannot seem to rip your face from your body to add to my collection." Koh then reared up on his hind legs, leaving his front ones and the ones with elongated tibia around his face dangling in the air, occasionally wriggling slowly. His eyes darted over the cityscape, noticing the tall Cardia Cathedral and the other tall buildings in this city of Magnolia. "So tell me, spirit man and spirit woman, where in the Spirit World have you taken me? Do you possess the power to teleport spirits from one place to another? How have you stripped me of my powers here? Hmmm?"
The Celestial wizard wore a confused look upon her face, "Um... We're not spirits, Koh. You've got it all wrong. You're a spirit, and I'm a Celestial wizard. I'm a human. I summoned you here."
"Hmmm, a wizard? I've never heard of that kind of human before," The Face Stealer placed his upper body back on the ground, circling the pair of wizards once again. "How did you summon me when I did not agree to your contract? What kind of bending do you use, young girl?"
"Bending? I... Don't know what that is," Lucy shrugged while pulling out Koh's Gate Key. "I summoned you with this Gate Key. I'm a Celestial wizard, so I can summon Celestial Spirits using Gate Keys, and once summoned we make a contract. Part of the contract is already established when I summon a spirit, though the details such as when the contracted spirit is available to be summoned and all that are worked out the first time I meet a spirit."
Koh grasped the black Gate Key with his pointy front legs, the face of a mandrill with a bright blue and red nose squinting as if to study the key's form easier. "I have never seen this strange object before. How does it open a portal for me to come to this part of the Spirit World?"
Lucy rolled her eyes, "We're not in the 'Spirit World', I take it that's where you are from?" The mandrill nodded before swapping out for the female Noh face again. "And it works because it uses my magic energy to open a gate for you to cross; your gate is the 'Gate of the Face Stealer'." Lucy informed the spirit.
"Ahahaha, do you take me for a fool?" Koh chuckled cynically, "I have been around for a long time young one, and there is no such power as 'magic energy', even though many naïve and foolish humans have believed so."
The Celestial Wizard and the Fire Dragon Slayer exchanged puzzled looks. "Wait, you don't know what magic is?" Lucy questioned.
"Now you are really trying my patience!" Koh hissed angrily at the pair, causing Lucy to cower a little and take a step back. "Do not pretend like I am a fool; I have been to many places both in the Spirit World and here in the Material World, and there is no such power as 'magic'. It is nothing but human legend. Now how about I ask you petty humans a question? By what means have you brought me here and stripped me of my powers?! Hmmm?"
"W...We... We're not in the 'Material World' either, Koh," Lucy managed to say in between her cowering. She quickly stood up straight, remembering that Koh could not harm her. "We're in a worls called 'Earthland'. I summoned you while you were in your world, I take it it's actually a combination of two worlds, the Spirit World and Material World?"
"Lucy, I'm not sure if Koh knows that he is a spirit who can be summoned," Carla let her wings out using her Aera Magic and made her way over to the pair of wizards. "He doesn't think magic is real, and has never seen his own Gate Key before. So maybe he doesn't realise that he is a spirit who can be summoned?"
Lucy placed a hand on her chin, "A Celestial spirit who doesn't know that he is a Celestial spirit. Well, in his case, a spirit who doesn't know he is a spirit. I think it's more than that Carla, since Koh does seem to remember details about his world and did believe we were spirits at first, but you're on the right track." The blonde-haired wizard straightened her body, "I think that Koh's world is like Edolas; there is no magic there."
"Like Edolas?" Wendy echoed. None of them would forget the alternate world they had once visited, the one where alternate versions of themselves lived. Edolas had indeed once had magic, that was before Mystogan had used a reverse Anima spell to rid their world of magic, but it had been a different kind to the magic they were used to here.
A moment of silence passed before Koh spoke again. Though he didn't just speak; he laughed instead. A quiet and modest chuckle soon transformed into a roaring fit of laughter, and the Face Stealer needed a moment to catch his breath before addressing the Fairy Tail wizards, "I finally see what this is now. I can't believe that it took me this long to realise," Koh let out another wheeze of laughter, all the while the confused wizards watched and listened. "Irutzi, the Spirit of Illusions, this is your doing right? You're taking revenge since I stole your beautiful wife's face, didn't I?" The centipede swapped his Noh face for a grey-skinned humanoid one, though this face had seaweed green hair which flowed down the sides. With this new face, Koh looked around the sky as if he were speaking to someone in the air, "I will tell you now, your illusion will not hold. I am an old and powerful spirit, and I will get my revenge for this. I will take your face as well as punishment!" The Face Stealer laughed with excitement, relishing in his planned vengeance.
"Now listen here you oversized slime-bag!" Natsu pointed a fiery fist at Koh, "We are not illusions! We're just as real as you are. So don't go saying that we don't exist, alright?!"
"Ugh, this spirit is infuriating," Lucy held her thumb and forefinger over the bridge of her nose, a look of frustration appearing as she closed her eyes. "There's no getting through to this spirit. Look Koh," The Celestial wizard addressed her spirit, "I'll prove to you that we're not illusions. I can close your gate with the same key that brought you here, sending you back to your world," Lucy dangled the black object in front of the centipede, "And then I'll open it again, bringing you here. How does that sound?"
Koh simply laughed again in reply, "Ahaha, I knew your powers would wear out eventually, Irutzi!" The face of the supposed wife of the 'Spirit of Illusions' disappeared in favour of another male face, this one a lot younger than the old bald man but still had a long moustache and also a black beard. "Your human illusions are now going to send me back to reality. You're losing your hold over them!" Another glee laugh left the man's mouth.
"Yeah, maybe it is a good idea to send this nut-job back Lucy. He's crazy." Natsu suggested.
Wendy still shivered with the others a few metres back from Lucy and Natsu, "And he's rather creepy..."
"Okay, have it your way Koh. Close! Gate of the Face Stealer!" Lucy waved the black key in the air, expecting a similar greenish gold light to appear around the centipede and send him to his home. But no such light appeared. "Close! Gate of the Face Stealer!" She repeated, though still nothing happened. "Close! Close! Close!" Lucy chanted, each time with a little more frustration than the first. Though the insane centipede still stood where he was, laughing the whole time. Lucy looked back to the strange Gate Key in her hands, "Why, why won't it work?"
Koh's laughter began to settle down, "And here I thought you had no strength left, Irutzi. I thought that your illusion spirit would send me back to reality, but it seems you pulled through at the last minute," Again, Koh spoke to the mysterious non-existent being in the air. "But you will not be able to hold out for much longer, since I am now aware of what you are doing."
"Lucy, why didn't your magic work?" Happy now flew over to Lucy's side.
"I... I was naïve to assume that Koh's gate would behave the same way as a normal Gate Key. Perhaps there's a different way to close Koh's gate and send him back."
Wendy also made her way over to the others, the blue-haired girl speaking next, "But how are we going to find out how to close Koh's gate?"
Lucy narrowed her eyes, "There's only one place we can go. Mr Hammelworth was the one who gave us this key after we completed his job request, though he didn't mention anything about it being different from an ordinary Gate Key. But perhaps he knows some more about how to use it." The Celestial Wizard turned back to Koh, "I don't suppose you're up for a walk to a nearby town?"
The Face Stealer chuckled lightly, "Okay then, I'll indulge you Irutzi and follow your illusions to wherever they are going. I'll even play along and make a contract with the Celestial Wizard too. So, Lucy was it? What are the conditions of our contract? Hmmm?"
The blonde-haired wizard rolled her eyes, "Fine, you want conditions? Don't use your powers on anyone unless I say so. You certainly can't use them on my friends or myself."
The male face disappeared, soon replaced by an angry-looking blue one with tusks of some kind, "I agree, Celestial Wizard."
"And don't go swapping your face every few seconds either."
This time, Koh wasn't so quick to agree to Lucy's terms of their supposed contract. "Really? But my faces are my pride and joy, young one. I've collected so many I simply want to... Show them off." After he finished he swapped his blue face for the old man again, grinning wildly from ear to ear.
"No, it's totally creepy. Just pick the face you had when you first appeared and be done with it."
"Hmm. Fine, I believe it was this one," The old man made way for the female Noh mask, its pale sickly white skin giving it an eerie look. "I agree."
Lucy tucked the strange Gate Key away with the rest of her keys. "That's better," She breathed a sigh of relief. "Now, let's get a move on to see Mr Hammelworth."
What followed was certainly a strange sight indeed. Not Lucy, Natsu, Wendy, or their two Exceed companions, Happy and Carla, but the giant centipede like creature which crawled alongside the Fairy Tail wizards stood out like a peacock at a black-and-white-only party. Terrified citizens of this town north of Magnolia cowered upon looking at the insect, some proceeding to sprint into their homes or down alleyways which would take them anywhere but their current street. Koh however, was either oblivious to the frightened people or relished in it, either way not doing anything to make himself less terrifying, if there was even anything to be done.
Lucy placed a palm to her head, an embarrassed but frustrated look in her eyes. "I knew we shouldn't have come down the main street. But, it was the quickest way to get to Hammelworth's house."
Carla nodded her head, "Indeed, according to the map it was."
"So Face Stealing dude," Natsu glanced to his side, "Is there really no magic in your world?"
A cheerful yet mocking laugh emanated from Koh's lips, a sound so peculiar to be coming from such a monstrous looking creature. "Of course not. Magic is not real."
"So you must not have Ethernano in the air or inside you then," Wendy remarked, but when the Noh mask turned to face her she froze. "Uh... Ethernano is like... Where magic power comes from. We... We as wizards can use our own Ethernano, but when we run out wizards here in Earthland can replenish their magic energy from the Ethernano in the air." The blue-haired girl concluded nervously, edging further away from Koh as they all kept walking forwards.
"Though the wizards in Edolas couldn't do that either remember? They had Lacrima-infused weaponry instead of them casting spells from their own energy." Lucy added as she led the way. After a few moments she turned back to her new spirit, "So Koh, you mentioned something earlier that I wanted to ask you about. At first, you asked me what type of 'bending' I was using. What is bending? Is that like, a power people use in your world instead of magic? How does it work?"
"Bending is an ancient art to allow one to control the elements," The spirit answered. "There are four elements, each inspired by the seasons; Fire is the element of Summer, the element of power, given first to the dragons who relished in its raw energy."
Natsu's ears perked up, "Wait, so you have cool fire in your world? I can't wait to eat some!"
The Noh mask shot back a quizzical look towards the pink-haired wizard, "You eat fire?"
"Well yeah, of course I do. I'm a Fire Dragon Slayer. Just like Wendy here eats air, and that metal-head Gajeel eats iron." Natsu folded his arms after his answer.
"Though we do eat normal food too," Wendy added, "I quite like ice-cream."
"Strange illusions you lot are after all," Koh muttered, eliciting a collective and exasperated sigh from the Fairy Tail wizards. The Face Stealer however took no notice, and continued with his explanation, "Air is the element of Autumn, the element of freedom. The sky bison also use this bending, flying the skies untethered to the earth. Water is the element of Winter, the element of change. The moon is the greatest waterbender of them all, since Tui pushes and pulls the tides under her command. She grants waterbenders great power under her glow. And then there is earth, the element of Spring, the element of substance. It was also gifted to the badgermoles, who are blind but rely solely on their ability to 'see' and dig their tunnel homes. Spirits cannot use this power, and not all humans can. But those who do can train in their art, and become skilled in manipulating their element."
"I see," Lucy remarked, nodding her head slowly. "So bending kind of is like magic, since not everyone can use it. And there are element types of magic too; Natsu and Wendy here both use a fire and air magic, and another wizard in our guild named Juvia uses water magic. And then there's Wizard Saint Jura, who uses earth magic. So I suppose our worlds aren't that different in some ways."
Silence crept into their conversation for the next few minutes. This world where Koh came from sounded so strange, so unreal, yet part of Lucy wanted to see in for herself. She had gone to the Celestial Spirit World a few times right? Perhaps she could also go to this strange world and see 'bending' for herself. But first she had to figure out how to close Koh's gate.
The group of six reached a turn-off from the main road, Lucy pointing in that direction. "Mr Hammelworth's house is this way, we're nearly there."
The group had to walk single file for the most part down this next alley, partly to accommodate for Koh's size since it was a narrow road. But once they had emerged back onto a wider street, the travellers could space themselves out a little more. Lucy spotted their destination only a few steps ahead, and then went to knock on his door.
"Mr Hammelworth? It's Lucy Heartfilia. I'm a Fairy Tail wizard and we just completed a job for you earlier today. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about the Gate Key you gave me?" Lucy announced their arrival when she heard no answer after her knock. Again she tapped the door, "Mr Hammelworth?" The Celestial Wizard shifted her pose a little to a more comfortable position, waiting for an answer that never came. "I suppose he could be out or something, though we did just see him here this morning."
Natsu walked up beside Lucy, "We'll there's more than one way to do this," The pink-haired Dragon Slayer thrust his fiery foot into the door, the wooden boards splitting apart.
"Natsu! You can't just break into people's homes and destroy their property!" Lucy yelled.
"It's an emergency. You smelled it too Wendy?"
The little Sky Dragon Slayer nodded, "Yeah... I think." An anxious frown appearing on her face.
"Smelled what, exactly?" Lucy questioned the two. She had to remember that Dragon Slayers did have other abilities besides their elements, such as a heightened sense of smell.
Natsu charged into the house. It was a rather small and quaint building, fairly tidy as it was when Lucy and the others had gone their earlier today. Though now some crimson red liquid of some kind had stained the rug. Lucy noticed the stain and bent down to examine it.
"It's... I... Don't believe it..." The horrified expression on Lucy's face as she stood up abruptly said everything her trembling lips could not tell. This was blood.
"Natsu! I... I can use Healing Magic if he needs it!" Wendy called out from the door frame. Though the pink-haired Dragon Slayer didn't respond, only stood with downcast eyes at the lifeless form before him. Lucy too made her way over, however instantly regretted ever allowing such a sight to ingrain itself in her eyes.
Mr Hammelworth was dead; a knife driven into his chest, the smears of blood leading from the living room to the kitchen being his own. He had tried to call for help, as his hand rested on a communication Lacrima, though Lucy suspected that the call was never made.
There was only one oddity left on the scene; a piece of parchment of some kind, left on the floor next to the crumpled corpse. Natsu wrapped his scarf around his mouth and nose as he bent down to pick it up, though upon reading who it was addressed to he turned and gave it to a pale-looking Lucy. The Celestial Wizard just stared into Natsu's hazel eyes, seeing how Natsu was also in shock by this murder. Even though her arms had grown heavy and numb from the turn of events, Lucy managed to take hold of the letter, seeing her name written across the top.
For the collective works of the author, go here.