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Leaving the Spirit World
World of Spirits and Bending
Chapter information
Series

Gate of the Face Stealer

Written by

Bomochu

Release date

5 April, 2015

Word count

5,492

Chronology
Last chapter

The Fairy Tail Guild

Next chapter

Opposite Poles

Winds howled in her ears. Snowflakes like shards of ice scraped against her reddened skin. The cold temperature bit at her body like starving piranhas. But nevertheless, Lucy felt a sense of excitement and anxiety in the pit of her stomach. They had made it to Koh's world.

Lucy tried to push herself up from her bed in the snow, instantly regretting wearing a skirt and sleeveless top in this world. Though her boots did help keep her feet nice and toasty, the rest of her body shivered from the icy winds. There was one other problem, however, and that was that the Celestial Wizard seemed to be all alone.

"Hello?" Lucy uttered at first, but then once she found the energy and tried to resist her shivering she managed to repeat herself, yelling into the wind in an attempt to find her friends. There was no answer. "Hello?!" She tried at a higher volume, and this time, Lucy could have sworn she heard a small whimper or groan of some kind.

Pushing herself onto her feet, Lucy braved the winds which beat against her upper body, trudging towards the source of the sound. Whoever had made it wasn't too far away; she could see their form only an arm's reach away. "Hello?" Lucy repeated, and the figure before her managed to lift herself out of the snow.

The young blue-haired Sky Dragon Slayer stood to her feet, once Lucy's arm reached out to help her. "Lucy..." Wendy managed to mutter as the pair huddled together behind a snow mound. "Where... Where is Carla? And... Natsu and the others?"

"I'm not sure..." Lucy replied, a worried tone to her voice. "I only just woke up myself." She rubbed her hands through her hair, trying to somehow warm her trembling body. Koh had mentioned a few details about this strange world. It was actually a combination of two worlds; the Material World, and Spirit World. He also mentioned a power called 'Bending', where one could manipulate and control the elements. Each element had a season it was associated with, and given that they were in the midst of a snow storm Lucy guessed they were somewhere where waterbenders lived.

The blonde-haired wizard looked down to her companion, "Hey Wendy, do you think your Sky Dragon Slayer Magic could help calm this storm?"

Wendy sunk her head a little, "I would Lucy but we can't use magic here remember. Not without Mystogan's X-Ball Pills."

"Oh, that's right. So even my Gate Keys are useless." Lucy swung Horologium's key around, Gate of the Clock Constellation, as if to double check that she really couldn't use magic in this world. Unfortunately her attempt only confirmed this fact.

"We should look for shelter maybe?" Wendy suggested. She too was wearing hardly anything; a black skirt with a red jacket, and matching red pieces in her hair which somehow managed to hold her pigtails in place. She also had long blue stockings, which were a great blessing at a time like this. Fortunately, she had changed into something a little warmer before returning to the guild, and now with the hindsight that they would be here in weather like this Lucy had wished she had done the same. Though even with all her clothing, Wendy still shook from the ferocious gales which blew their way.

Lucy nodded her head. "But the others might still be out here. We have to be sure they're not. Let's have a look first." It was strange that they had all ended up somewhere different from each other, if they had of course, though it was understandable. Closing Koh's gate was a spell designed to send only the spirit back, and so by sending six other wizards as well it could have perhaps put a strain on the magic used to send them here.

Wendy took the right side given that she was the better dressed of the two, but by no means much warmer, and shielded her eyes from the incoming winds as she scanned the snow around her. She looked near every snow mound, even the few rocks that had somehow managed to not be smothered in snow from the storm, anything that could resemble a person or slumped body. Lucy checked the left of their position, but she too could not find anything.

The Sky Dragon Slayer pointed to a nearby rock, "Perhaps we could take some shelter there?" The one she pointed to did sit a fair level higher than the rest of the snow, and could serve in keeping them out of the winds even a little. Nodding quickly, the pair marched their way over and collapsed onto the ground behind the rock, thankful to at least be a little bit more comfortable.

"I... I don't know where we should go now." Lucy mumbled. Hopelessness was beginning to creep into her thoughts. They were stuck in this strange world, unable to even use their magic, and their friends were nowhere to be found. "At least I'm not alone though," Lucy managed to pull out a smile and face Wendy, even if the cold forced her to grimace soon afterwards.

"Yeah... I know what you mean," Wendy too beamed back, "But I just hope the others are okay. I hope they're not caught in this storm."


"I told you, if you want a fight then bring it." Lisanna stared down her opponent. She didn't have her magic with her, since Happy had been the one to carry Mystogan's pills which could allow them to use magic in this world, but Lisanna had trained her body in order to help her with her magic. She did use a type of Take-Over magic after all, which allowed her body to take on the characteristics of whatever she could control, and so her physical capabilities were just as important as her magical ones.

The centipede in front of her however, didn't even move an inch. It was surreal when Lisanna had awoken here. The swampy waters and giant roots around were not exactly pleasant to wake up to, though this whole world had a sort of 'mystical' energy to it. The strangest thing however was that this spirit who was contracted to Lucy, Koh was his name, had just out of nowhere started attacking her. Lisanna had even felt a strange energy take hold of her when she had been stuck in his grasp, almost like... Her face and consciousness was being pulled away from her. He was called the 'Face-Stealer' after all, but to think that he would attack a friend of the wizard he had a contract with was something the Take-Over Wizard had not considered.

However, as Lisanna continued to watch Koh before her she could see his face growing rather anxious, and his front legs twitching ever so slightly. But after another few moments, the Noh mask let out a sigh and looked up, "Young Wizard, I will not fight you. I apologise for my actions seconds ago."

Lisanna relaxed her body, slowly lowering her fists. "Wait... What do you mean? You tried to steal my face!"

"I was testing to see whether I was still under an illusion or not; my abilities didn't seem to work in your world, though I had thought it was because I was under an illusion. But the fact that I nearly stole your beautiful face suggests that in fact, your strange world of magic is... Real."

"Well, of course it is! I'm from there and I know my home is real!" Lisanna yelled, still keeping her distance. The spirit could be lying for all she knew, and secretly planning to attack her again. Koh however, didn't reply. Instead, the centipede spirit scanned the surrounding swampy waters and trees, not really focusing on anything in particular but letting his mind go blank. It was Lisanna's next question that brought him back to reality, "So... What should we do now? I... Can't seem to see anyone else." She glanced to her sides.

In an instant Koh slithered around to face the white-haired wizard, "What should we do now?! I'm going to find whoever made that infernal key and steal their face, and afterwards sever the rest of their head from their shoulders!" His voice bellowed from the female Noh mask, causing Lisanna to cower and take a few steps back. "I went and made a contract with that lowly human Lucy! Now I can't steal faces without her permission or display my collection at all! I don't understand the strange powers of your world, but if they are indeed real I dare not test the contract I unwillingly made."

"Well, if you want to find me you won't need to go far," A voice echoed from the pair's left. Koh immediately spun his head to the source, his ferocious eyes darting from tree to tree. "I had thought I would find you here Koh, but it seems you've made my job a little easier by bringing her along with you as well." Her voice was definitely female, and it carried a superior and sinister tone to it. Before long, the faint sounds of sloshing water and footsteps upon the mucky ground and tree roots could be heard, and a figure draped in a dark red hooded cloak appeared from the treeline.

His eyes squinting with fury, Koh arched his upper body back as if he were about to lunge at the newcomer, "You?! Was it you who made that key?!"

Her mouth being the only part of her face visible from under her hood, Koh and Lisanna saw her red lips turn upwards into a smirk. "I suppose that's not entirely true; I did not make the Gate Key myself, though I know who did."

"Then tell me you inferior human!" Koh bellowed in reply.

"Not without a trade. You have two things I want; firstly, the wizard standing behind you. Secondly, I also want the location to a place in the Spirit World called the 'Fog of Lost Souls'. If you give me both I can assure you that the Gate Key will not be a problem for you anymore, Face Stealer."

Koh grunted, "That trade will not suffice. How about I simply end things and take your face from you? I have other means to find out what I need and I'll be adding to my collection at the same time!"

The woman placed a hand behind her back, a short chuckle left her mouth as she did so, "I thought I would need this, though I had hoped we could have done things differently," For a brief second the rest of her face could be seen. She had amber coloured eyes, and thin dark eyebrows which turned downwards to form a prideful expression on her face. Soon however, it disappeared behind a strange looking mask she pulled out from behind her. It was white in colour, and covered her face entirely. In an instant, the woman thrust her arm forwards, releasing a powerful stream of orange flames in their direction, forcing Lisanna and Koh to leap out of the way.

The Take-Over Wizard picked herself up from the murky waters, her eyes wide at the display. "Woah... What kind of power is that?"

"What an advantage it is to use a means other than meditation to enter this place; one can use their bending that way, and carry items with them like this mask when their physical body is in this realm." The woman's hood still covered the mask slightly, so it was hard to get a good glimpse at it from where Lisanna stood now. Perhaps if she could she would know exactly who it was behind this whole situation.

Koh straightened his long body, eyeing his opponent from where he was, "And how do you know such things about the Spirit World? How did you enter this place when the Spirit Portals are closed?"

"Let's just say that I have had a great teacher who knows much about this place," She lowered her arms again, "But as enlightening as this chat has been, I must say that I am a very busy woman. Koh, hand this wizard over and tell me the location of the Fog of Lost Souls. I promise that the Gate Key will never bother you again."

Footsteps sloshing through the shallow water to the left drew the woman's attention. She leant her upper body back as a fist nearly collided with her jaw, and then stepped back on her right foot to give her some distance from the white-haired attacker.

Lisanna tried to swing again but the woman was fast, twirling her body around to dodge the next attack as well. "If you want me then come and get me."

"How brave of you, wizard, but you do not have your magic here. I however, can use my bending, and so I have the upper hand. Do not test me; simply comply with my demands, and you will not be harmed further."

The white haired wizard however did not listen to the masked woman's words, and kicked her leg out to collide with her shoulder. A small cry leaving her lips, the woman straightened herself and pointed two fingers of each hand out and kept the rest tucked away. In several quick movements, the masked woman swung her arms around, generating blue arcs of lightning around her body, and then pointed two fingers in Lisanna's direction. Although the Take-Over Wizard had managed to duck away from the main bolt of lightning, a side fork managed to connect with her thigh, sending her crashing into the murky waters.

Lisanna clutched her thigh, the searing pain causing her to shriek in agony. She had been very lucky not to have been hit directly with the attack, though this alone was bad enough. She could hear the attacker approach from behind, the gentle splash of each footstep through the water coming closer and closer. After Lisanna had pulled herself up into a crawling position, she briefly turned her head back to see how far away the masked woman was, and when satisfied, turned her whole body around to strike the woman's shin with her uninjured leg. The attacker cried out a muffled scream under her mask, and Lisanna took the opportunity to slide her leg under the masked woman's other leg, tripping her. Once she was on the ground, the white-haired wizard wasted no moment in getting away. Even though her thigh burned with pain, Lisanna limped her way into the misty trees.

The masked woman cursed before quickly getting to her feet. Although the attack had taken her by surprise it hadn't injured her much at all. Though before she could give chase, the masked woman heard another approaching being to her right. Koh had crawled up a nearby tree, his upper body clutching trunk and his lower swinging towards her, the spirit's threatening red pincers skimming the waters only slightly. Although he was fast the masked woman rolled out the way, and while still crouched in the mud sent both fists forward to produce bright jets of flames. But the Face Stealer was also quick, and climbed higher up the tree to escape the inferno.

Taking this as a chance to catch the wizard who had escaped, the masked woman sprinted in the direction Lisanna had fled to. Within seconds however she felt a collection of sharp limbs clutch onto her head in their grasp. It seemed Koh had been unaffected by her attacks after all. Although she kicked about, Koh kept a firm grip on her face. "Now, I know you are most likely part of the Royal Family since you were able to generate lightning, though you are most definitely not the former Crown Princess Azula. So ... Just who are you?"

"I would let her go if you don't want to break your contract with Lucy."

The Noh mask swiftly turned to the new arrival. Just like the woman he held in his pincers, this figure was also draped in a hooded cloak, though this one a reddish-purple. He also wore the strange white mask that the firebender did, and at his side hung a sheathed katana. Despite the fact that this sword-carrier could only be trying to save his comrade instead of stopping Koh from breaking his contract, the Face Stealer released the woman from his pincers. She landed in the murky waters with a splash, though quickly scrambled to her feet to set off in the direction Lisanna escaped.

The swordsman took a few steps forward, "Do not follow her Akane; Lisanna cannot use her magic yet anyway until it is activated one way or another. She will find her way to her friends and we can collect them when they are altogether. In this state, she is worthless."

The masked woman, who Koh now knew was named Akane, bowed slightly and began walking over to the other cloaked figure. Koh watched her return to his side before questioning them, "How do you know about the contract I made?"

"We had been watching you the whole time since you and Lisanna reappeared," The man answered. "So we know that stealing the face of someone without your wizard's approval may result in a broken contract. But if you tell us what we need to know – the location of the Fog of Lost Souls – then we will ensure that the Gate Key and your contract will not be a problem for you any longer."

The Face Stealer paused a moment, as if to appear that he was pondering their suggestion. "Do tell me, since I am not familiar with the ways of the Celestial Wizard's world, if one holds the 'Gate Key', then they are able to summon the spirit?"

The swordsman nodded, "Indeed."

"And they are the one who has made the contract, are they not?"

A moment of silence passed before the swordsman answered the question, as if he could now see where the Face Stealer was heading with his questioning. "They are, Koh, but--"

"Then how in Raava's name do you expect to help me then?!" Koh interrupted, his booming voice echoing amongst the trees.

"I can assure you, great spirit, that when we have Lucy we will force her to terminate your contract." The swordsman tried to reassure Koh.

A cynical laugh burst from the Noh mask's lips, "You think flattery will get you anywhere with me?" His grin soon disappeared in favour of a grave frown, and piercing eyes which shook every fibre of the pair's bodies, "That will not do. I will find a way to get myself out of this situation. You had just better stay out of my way."

Without giving them another glance, Koh spun around and crawled towards the treeline where the wizard had run off to. "Wait...What...What about the Fog of Lost Souls? Koh?" The swordsman swore, clutching the handle of his blade, "It seems Akane that our work is not yet done. Not until we get the information we need."

Akane turned to her comrade, "Are there no other spirits we could ask? Why waste time on him when we could get what we need from someone else?"

"As I am told, there are not many spirits as old as the Face Stealer, and even fewer who would aid a human and wizard in their quest. The whole point of this was to use Koh since he has a drive, a reason to cooperate with us. Hmph. Yet the insane fool thinks he can solve this himself? His ignorance of magic will be his downfall. Now, let's stop wasting time and catch this monster!" The cloaked pair charged further into the swamp, weapons ready for when they would meet up with their target.


After taking another step Lisanna had to lean against the nearest tree for support. Her breaths were short, her body working harder than usual given the fact that her thigh was in agony. She glanced down at it, seeing the red scarring of the wound and singed edges of her shorts where the lightning had hit. Fortunately it hadn't been the leg which her guild mark was tattooed on, though it would still leave a nasty mark if not tended to soon.

Lisanna turned back to the trees ahead of her, only to see Koh's form appear from the fog. The young wizard put her hands up as if to beg Koh for mercy, though the Face Stealer interrupted her, "Young wizard, I won't harm you. But we need to move quickly."

Slightly shocked at his words, Lisanna stuttered before replying, "I... I thought you would have taken them up on their offer?"

"They cannot promise me anything, given that Lucy is the one who made the contract with me, something which I'll need your help to undo."

"Undo?"

Koh made his way over to the injured girl and picked her up with his front pincers. Although fear had gotten the better of Lisanna and she kicked about, Koh kept a firm grasp on her body. Though this time, the wizard's face and front of her body was pointed forwards, and the centipede spirit began crawling through the swampy floor. Lisanna breathed a sigh of relief when she realised that Koh was simply carrying her to their destination since her leg was badly injured.

This new knowledge however, didn't make her cringe any less when the Face Stealer began to speak to her, his deep tones creeping into her ears from behind, "There is a portal up ahead which may be of use. Avatar Aang used it recently to transport his spirit back to his body in the Material World after coming to see me, so I do not know if it can transport your physical body and spirit to the Material World, but I will see what I can do."

Lisanna listened to Koh's plan, taking note but also slightly in awe of this strange world. She knew very little about it since they hadn't exactly had much time to talk about this place. The mention of another 'world' coexisting with this one, the strange fire magic that woman before had used, and the person named 'Avatar Aang', were all things Lisanna knew nothing about. Still, she had managed to survive in Edolas for some time, and although this was more difficult Lisanna knew she would manage.

Before long, the pair arrived at an archway, and behind tall reeds of bamboo rose from the shallow water. But they weren't alone; a small baboon of some kind sat with his legs crossed on a nearby rock, dressed in orange robes, his form shadowed slightly by a rock archway he sat beneath. A long an irritated sigh left his lips as he heard the wizard and spirit approach, and his eyes slowly slid open, "What is it now?" But as soon as he recognised who Koh was, the baboon clambered up the nearest tree while screaming, griping whatever branch or vine root would carry him until he was no longer in sight.

The Noh mask narrowed his eyes, "I should have had that baboon's face long ago," Koh muttered to himself. He placed Lisanna back onto a lily pad which floated on the shallow waters.

The white-haired wizard took a moment to stand, clutching her leg which still burned with pain. She wondered what kind of reputation Koh had here that would cause everything to run away at a mere glance, but then remembered he was called the 'Face Stealer' after all. Using every ounce of energy she had to spare, Lisanna hoped along the lily pads until she was directly under the archway.

Koh stayed where he was, quickly glancing around before speaking, "We don't have much time. This portal should take you to a place called the Northern Water Tribe. From there you will have to find a way to the city of Ba Sing Se, as was mentioned in the letter. If all of you are separated in this world then it makes sense that everyone would be trying to make it there."

"Right, Ba Sing Se." Lisanna reminded herself. "But Koh, I... I don't know much about this world. What was that power the woman used before? Who is this 'Avatar Aang'? Who are the Water Tribe?"

Their conversation was briefly interrupted by voices behind them in the distance, unmistakably the attackers from before. "We don't have time. Just make sure you find Lucy and get her to use that key of hers."

"Why don't you come with me? You know this world better than I do?"

Koh shook his head, almost smirking at Lisanna's suggestion, "Did you see how this one spirit reacted when he saw me? If Lucy can find an isolated area to summon me then we won't have to worry about hiding. Also, we don't know where she is, but if that key can take me to her exact location there won't be a need for me to be in the Material World for long."

"Right, I get it." Lisanna nodded her head, "And you can count on me to find Lucy and the others. But are you going to be alright dealing with those guys?" She motioned into the distance where they had last heard the attackers.

"Those foolish humans do not know who they are dealing with," Koh answered, the anger slowly rising in his voice. "Just make sure you find Lucy."

A small thankful smile crept onto the wizard's face, "Thank you Koh, for helping me."

"Do not think me an ally, young wizard. I am only doing this for my sake." Koh replied. In mere seconds, blue light shot forth from the centipede's mouth and surrounded Lisanna's form. She could feel herself slipping away, almost like the gate that brought her to this world in the first place. Once the light had dissipated, the white-haired wizard was gone and Koh was left alone. That was, until the cloaked figures finally arrived seconds after.

"Foolish humans?" The swordsman questioned Koh when he arrived. "Who said anything about being human?" After saying this, the figure pulled pack his hood, and although the white mask was still covering his face Koh could see brown fur coating the swordsman's body, and long ears dangling to the sides. From this close the Face Stealer could also make out what sort of mask he wore; there were no obvious holes of any kind, and two red streaks in the shape of a heart ran down from the top to the bottom. With a swift movement the figure had unsheathed his sword, now aiming it in front of his body, "Tell us what we want to know, or prepare yourself for a swift death."


The pair of wizards had sat behind the rock shelter for what seemed like hours. The snow storm had calmed down quite a lot since then, though the winds still blew around snowflakes like small insects sailing through the sky.

Lucy was the first to get up, peering around the edge of their rocky shelter to access how bad the storm was. "I think... I think we should continue on."

Wendy perked her head up at the suggestion, "But... Where would we go? What direction? We don't know where anything is in this place." She could feel her skin going numb, and her very bones felt so fragile from the cold a simply touch would break them. She wanted nothing more than to find a warm city somewhere, but how they could get there seemed like an impossible question.

"I don't know. I don't know where anything is either. But... We have to do something." Lucy mumbled in reply, tears forming in her eyes. This whole situation seemed hopeless.

"But what about the others? Do you think they're still out there?"

The Celestial Wizard shook her head, taking a seat again next to Wendy, "I've thought about it, but I think we're the only ones here. The spell that we cast was meant to only send Koh back here, but by sending the rest of us it might have been too much for the gate to handle. It's just a theory, but I don't think they're out here."

"Then maybe we should go," Wendy answered solemnly. A look of determination forming, she stood up on her feet, "We have to find the others. Maybe they'll be heading to Ba Sing Se as we speak."

"You're right, maybe they are heading there," Lucy chimed, "And we need to be there to meet them. Though the weather is still pretty bad to be travelling in." Both wizards glanced at their surroundings, watching and listening to the ferocious winds all around them. It was possible that these very lands could claim their lives if they weren't careful. "Maybe we could just travel a short stretch to see what's around us in each direction, then return to this shelter. That way if things do turn bad we can always come back here."

The young Sky Dragon Slayer nodded, "That sounds better."

After a few minutes, the pair of wizards were knee-deep in snow, both of them rocking like blades of grass in the wind. The freezing gales scraped against their skin, but the girls didn't look back.

"Maybe just a bit further!" Lucy called out from the front. They had been out here for almost half an hour, but had covered quite a lot of ground. Still, if they didn't reserve some energy for getting back to their shelter they may not make it back if need be. Eyes focussed ahead, Lucy continued to march through the snow, Wendy following in her footsteps.

Out of the corner of her eye, Wendy saw something far in the distance. Nothing more than a blue speck, though it was certainly moving. "Lucy! Over there!"

From her position, Lucy was able to glance to her right, noticing Wendy's arm pointed in that direction. Her eyes widened when the blonde-haired wizard realised that they had found something, or more accurately, someone. "It's a person!" Lucy yelled as she began to jog over to their position, not being able to run as fast since the snow was rather thick. It had only seemed like a blue blur at first, though after examining the shape she could see it definitely a human. Wendy scrambled after her, both of them desperate for some help.

"Hello!" Lucy called through the winds, hoping the figure would hear her. She tried again, and again, but it seemed she was still too far away. Her legs had grown numb, and she could feel the running taking a toll on her body. Her arms and legs ached, and her head a swirling and throbbing pain, but she pressed on. She had to speak to this person. After calling out again however, the figure finally heard them crying out. From this close Lucy could see it was a male, and he was wearing a thick blue hooded cloak over his body and clutching a spear in one of his hands.

Lucy stopped when she was a few metres away, resting her hands on her knees as she panted. Though after no more than a few seconds she began rambling, "We need some help! We have to get to Ba Sing Se. We're wizards from another world who used magic to get here, but we can't use our magic since we don't have--"

"They don't have magic here remember? He won't know what we're talking about," Wendy had caught up now as well, breathing heavily from their run through the snow.

"Oh sorry," Lucy waved her head, "Anyway, have you seen our friends out here? We don't think they are but just in case, one of them has pink hair whose name is Natsu, and the other a girl with white hair named Lisanna."

"Plus there are Happy and Carla. They're two Exceeds though they look like cats. And they had wings to fly with." Wendy added.

"Anyway, since we don't know anything about this place, we were hoping we could find someone who could tell us... how to... get to--" Lucy never managed to finish her question, instead fainting and crashing into the snow below her. A small moan passed her lips as she fell, the cold and using all her energy to run here causing her to lose consciousness.

Wendy reached for her friend on the ground, "Lucy!"

The male they had been talking to, who had remained silent this entire time, blinked a couple times after what he had seen. Then turning back to the other side of the mound of snow he stood on, he called out to whoever was with him, "Uh... Katara, I think you'd better come see this."

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