Perhaps she should have read the job description a little better when Jet and Droy had showed her the listing. Or, maybe she should have taken Mira's advice when she'd warned caution. Then maybe she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. Of course, that was her own fault, really.
Stupid Levy, she thought, you need to pay better attention next time.
Of course, that self-criticism was quickly pushed to the back of her mind as another hail of seeker-magic-tipped arrows came whizzing towards them through the trees of the forest, courtesy of the rogue mage intent on halting their efforts to take care of the bandits terrorizing a local village.
Despite Jet and Droy's best efforts to stop the mage's attacks, they had proved fruitless: he'd simply sent dozens of arrows aimed their way, cutting through Droy's plants and tracking Jet even while using his High Speed magic. The arrows flew unpredictable paths, causing more than a few problems for them. The Solid Script mage already had a few arrow wounds. One had grazed her torso, and another had impaled itself in her leg, but she'd had to rip it out to continue running, and blood seeped from the injury down her limb.
Levy furiously scribbled in the air with her light pen, trying to put up a magic guard to protect the three of them as they ran from the incoming volley of projectiles. It was cutting it close, but in just the nick of time, she completed writing the word 'Guard,' and a transparent blue film surrounded the members of Shadow Gear, the arrows sticking fast into the barrier with loud thunks. It dissolved after a few moments, the arrows dropping harmlessly to the ground, but it had done it's job, and already Levy was beginning to write 'Bullet,' to try to go on the offensive for once.
"I'll try to flank around the side and catch him by surprise!" Jet told her. She nodded without a word, too intent on finishing her magic spell to say much at all. Jet sped away, leaving her and Droy, who was growing winded at a rapid pace, to run through the trees away from the rogue mage.
"Can't you do something with the trees around us?" Levy questioned harshly, speaking to her other partner, but still focused on her own magic. The word 'Bullet' materialized in the air and began to shoot projectiles back towards the mage in pursuit of them. Most of them hit the tree trunks nearby, like Levy knew it would, but it did it's job in forcing the mage to hesitate and duck behind a tree. The arrows stopped for a moment, just a moment, but it was enough for Droy, who finally seemed to realize that being surrounded by plant life worked to his advantage.
"I have an idea." He called, pulling out a handful of seeds and tossing them to the ground further back. The seeds sunk into the earth, but nothing happened in the spot they landed.
They heard the rustling of leaves, and the rogue mage stepped out into the open, a longbow knocked with another seeking arrow and aimed at them. Immediately the Solid Script mage began writing up a protective barrier again, but the mage laughed.
"More of those fragile barriers? I wonder how long your word magic will hold up, little girl." He taunted. Levy frowned for a moment but cocked an eyebrow as she heard a low rumbling sound coming from the mage's direction. The man seemed equally confused, and paused in drawing back his arm. Levy finished working the barrier around them, and the blue film separated the bowman from them. The rumbling continued, then became a cracking sound as the earth beneath the man's feet.
"Wha-?" He started. Thick roots began to wrap around the man's legs, and his eye's widened, turning to look at them. Although he was in a precarious situation, the mage fired off his arrow, piercing the barrier and shattering it. Levy brought up her light pen to erect another one, but saw the man had already knocked another arrow. This one wouldn't be fast enough, she realized with a sinking heart.
"Enough!" The man shouted, raising the bow to aim at them. Something flashed from the trees, zooming across the open space. Jet, using his High Speed magic, snatched the bow from the man's hands, avoiding the quickly-growing tree roots that were now up to the mage's waist. Jet stopped a few feet away, tossing the weapon to the ground in triumphant, a pleased grin on his face.
"Don't even think about hurting my team mates." He said, speeding over to join Levy and Droy at their side.
"Gah! The rest of the group will stop you for sure!" He called, struggling against the binding force of the tree roots Droy had summoned from beneath the earth. He pushed and pulled at the roots, but they simply wrapped around him tighter and higher, until he had to raise up his chin to see them. "They'll ransack that village and slaughter all the-!"
His voice was cut off the roots, and all Team Shadow Gear could hear after that was a bunch of muffled cursing.
"We did it!" Jet and Droy high-fived, celebrating their victory against their opponent. Levy let out a long sigh, her breath coming out in heavy pants, falling onto her butt in exhaustion. She winced, once again feeling the pain of her leg wound. The adrenaline was beginning to wear out and she was being unhelpfully reminded that she had sustained a few injuries to the mage earlier in the fight.
"Levy! Are you alright?" Jet asked, kneeling beside her in worry. Droy kept a watch on the rogue mage trapped in his magic, glancing with concern at their team leader.
At Jet's question, she waved them off. "It's fine…let me rest a moment and then we can go take out the rest of the bandits." She squinted, trying to focus on Jet's face. Everything was blurry, and her head pounded something fierce. Was the sun always that bright? A wave of fuzziness swept over her limbs, the ends of her fingers and toes tingling. Her sensation of touch seemed hypersensitive.
"A-alright. Here, I'll help you up." Jet offered her his hand, and she gratefully took it, hoisting her to her feet. Levy took off the yellow ribbon holding her hair in place, and leaned down to tie it around the bleeding arrow wound. The pain intensified when she tightened it, but at least she'd stop losing so much blood.
Levy nodded and the three of them began walking back towards where the bandits were supposed to be located. They still had another mile or so to go. The bluenette tried hiding her weakened state, but after awhile of walking, the dots began to return to her eyes and she was feeling light headed. Without even realizing it, she'd stumbled to her knees, holding her head in her hands.
"Levy…hey, look at me." Her orange-haired friend called, kneeling beside her and placing his hands on her cheeks. He saw her eyes were unfocused, shifting back and forth as she tried making out shapes and figures. Everything appear to be a blur.
Her exhaustion seemed to worsen, and black dots began to appear at the edge of her vision, before clouding her sight completely, and she went limp in Jet's arms. The speedster panicked, holding her up in a sitting position.
"Oi! Levy! Wake up!" He shouted, gently shaking her in an attempt to bring back her consciousness. "Levy!" Droy knelt beside them then, taking her wrist and checking her pulse.
"We should get her back to the nearest village. She needs a doctor. I think she used too much magic against that guy, plus she's lost a lot of blood from her leg." He admitted, noticed the red streaks down her pale legs. The wound was covered by the yellow ribbon, which was quickly sporting an ever-growing red stain from her blood.
"Come on, help me carry her!" Jet said, standing and lifting her limp body.
To say that Gajeel Redfox was bored was a complete understatement.
Somehow, even while sitting in the corner of the guildhall, he was bored out of his mind. It was surprisingly quiet. The flame brain and his bunny girl had gone on a mission together, taking that blue exceed with them. Juvia had managed to convince her 'one true love, ' that ice stripper Gray, to accompany her on a mission. Even Erza was away from Magnolia, requested by some faraway city to take care of a monster problem.
That left him in the company of Cana, who was busy talking with Gildarts and trying to outmatch him in perhaps the fourth drinking contest that morning. He had arrived back in town a few days ago, and decided to stay, if only to catch up with his daughter. Mira was behind the bar, as usual, but even her sadistic attempts at gossiping and teasing her fellow guild mates seemed subdued. The others, even though they were all still family to him, he didn't really associate with unless absolutely necessary. Gajeel wasn't a blatantly friendly guy to begin with, and even less of a social butterfly.
The iron dragon slayer sighed deeply, holding his head in his hand, leaning against the counter. Panther Lily nibbled at a few kiwis, sitting on the bar beside him. In response to Gajeel's audible boredom, Lily finished eating one of the fruits. "You know, we could always take a mission." the exceed supplied.
"We ain't in need of money or anything. Besides, they all look just as boring." Gajeel bemoaned, staring grumpily into the wood of the counter. His hunger for iron wasn't helping his mood any, but that would mean having to go search some out. Or start eating the nails holding the support beams together, but he doubted he would survive Erza punishing him once she eventually found out.
"Just because a mission's main objective isn't defeating some monster doesn't mean it's boring." Lily began eating at his second kiwi, quite content to simply talk to his partner. For once the guild had a reasonable atmosphere, and he enjoyed it whilst he could, since before too long it would be thrown into violence and destruction once more.
"Hmm…" Gajeel hummed, neither agreeing nor denying his exceed's statement. As bored as he was, the pleasant summer afternoon had put him in a sort of lull. That drowsy feeling wouldn't go away, but he was aching for something to do. What a predicament.
Mira walked over, noticing Gajeel's boredom, and chuckled. "Not interested in any of the missions on the board?" She guessed, placing a can full of screws and nails in front of the dragon slayer. He perked up just a little, reaching for the snack with an appreciative nod.
"Nah, they're all escort missions. Nothing too exciting. I thought I saw a bandit job a few days ago, but it's gone now." He grumped, wishing he had taken it when he'd seen it, but having just come back from another one, all he'd wanted to do was relax for a day or two.
Mira gave her sweet smile as usual, watching the pierced man crunch away at the metal bits. "Oh, that's right. I believe Team Shadow Gear took that one. They should be returning very soon, I would think."
"Eh? The shrimp and those two idiots?" He raised a brow, thinking back to the details of the mission. If he recalled, the village had been attacked several times by a rogue band of thieves and thugs, looking to take over and set up a sort of base of operations. The residents had tried fighting back, but only had a few mages in their community to help.
Mira seemed to note the slight worry in Gajeel's expression, probably thinking about a certain blue-haired mage. She gave a knowing grin, her eyes half-lidded. Leaning closer, she gave a chuckle. "Don't worry, Levy can handle herself."
There was a split second when the dragon slayer's eyes widened, but Gajeel schooled his facial expressions back into indifference, pissed that the barmaid could read him that easily. Was it that obvious? God, he really had to get his act together. He crossed his arms and looked away. "Tch. Why would I be worried?" Then, more as an afterthought, he added under his breath, "As long as those two don't fuck it up, she'll be fine."
Mira only smiled angelically, not even fazed as Gajeel finished the contents of the can and began chomping the edges of the can itself. She'd expected as much.
"I think you give the both of them a harder time than what they deserve."
"Put it this way, I'd rather work alone than with those two." Mira sighed, reaching under the counter to grab a clean mug, and pouring Gajeel a beer, placing it front of him with a soft thud. "Droy and Jet are resourceful when they need to be."
"Yeah, right after they've already let her get hurt." He griped, forgetting that he was trying not to talk about her for the moment. Lily noticed this, and smirked beneath his kiwi. As much as Gajeel wanted to keep up that 'i don't care about anyone' attitude, he wasn't able to stop from keeping Levy in his thoughts.
Mira didn't miss the slip either, but decided that it would be better to leave him in peace for the moment. "They do their best to protect Levy, you know. And she's not a weak person either."
"The shrimp's not weak, but those two can't keep her safe. If that's their best, then they need to train harder."
The barmaid said nothing, opting to leave the man to his thoughts. She wandered off to get something for another guild mate who approached the bar further down.
Gajeel finished eating the can and reached for his beer, resorting to once again brood at the bar. Lily sighed at his attitude.
"You know, you could just ask Levy to go on missions with you. If you want to keep her safe so bad, I'm sure she'd say yes."
"Shut it, cat." He growled, though he couldn't stop the faint blush that touched his cheeks at the mention. It wasn't as if he hadn't thought about doing that very thing before, but he couldn't bring himself to actually do it. What excuse did he have to having her along, other than he just liked her presence?
"Didn't you promise her you'd make her stronger? You could always say you're making good on it." Lily interjected, having an inkling about what the dragon slayer was thinking.
Gajeel paused. He hadn't thought of that. Maybe…
"Mind your own business." He eventually said, not willing to admit that he may just try that.
Lily rolled his eyes but said nothing more. Fine, if the Iron Dragon Slayer wanted to be a brooding grump, that was his choice. Sometimes the man could be too stubborn for his own good.
Gajeel's happiness was something important to the exceed. And he knew that the man wasn't very forthcoming with how he felt. Neither was Levy, for that matter, who thought the dragon slayer held no interest with her. The exceed was quite fond of the bookworm, and he knew that deep down, the Iron Dragon Slayer was as well. Hmm. Perhaps he'd need to step in and lend a hand. That's what friends were for, after all.
Panther Lily glanced down the bar at the white-haired barmaid, who was talking with another of the guild mates. A part of him knew that he wouldn't be the only one trying to push them together, watching Mira laugh at something the guild member said. He smirked. Maybe this wouldn't be as hard as he thought.ns 18.104.22.168da2