Meddling the Middle - Chapter 21 - marisandini (2024)

Chapter Text

“By the way, Lucy.”


“I forgot to mention. This is the first time I use the randomizer, so finger-cross it works.”

Lucy's eyes practically bulged before her face turned into a deep shade of angry red as she snarled, “ROY, YOU—”

The rest of what she had to say was cut by my sharp cackle and the harsh shake of the room as if we were yanked to the side from the force of the momentum and shaking us like a couple of rattle balls.

Look, I know how this looks.

A pair of vulnerable pre-teens (yes, I’m including myself), going to who knows where without adult supervision and proper guidance is the most idiotic and impulsive thing I've ever done in my both lives and could risk the life of me and Lucy if anything goes wrong.

Oddly enough at the moment, I can’t muster myself to care. The urge to run from everything was so strong, that I may be trying to run even from my feelings.

Once the humming and rumbling of the ship had ceased, I double-checked the coordinates and then turned to Lucy to supply where we were...

...only to get kicked in the face.

Damn, Lucy Kick does hurt.

"You Bumbling Maniac, you could have warned me of that first! Or at least check if we're safe riding this stupid ship of yours!"

"Hey! First of all, don't call TORRI stupid, that's uncalled for! Second, of course, I make sure he's safe. I wasn't going to risk both of us getting hurt. Who do you take me for, Lucy?"

She was silent and was looking abashed before deciding to ask, "Then why did you say what you said?"

A blow of the blood that was dripping from my nose and a sheepish grin made their way to my lips, "Honestly, I just want to mess with you."

The second kick she gave didn't hurt any less.

Moving on, I made my way to the door at the same time as Lucy. She was as giddy as me and was almost jumping in excitement.

"Lucy outside this door is a whole new world we have never seen before. Are you ready for this?"

"No," she said grinning.

I matched her grin and pushed the door wide open.

Immediately, what caught our eyes from our spot uphill -- on the far far line on the horizon -- were the famous Towers of Dragnoff. They are said to have been built so high around the country that it could rival mountains. Alas, 4 out of the 5 towers were broken and only half of its height remained. But the one proof of its height still stood strong beyond a giant wall that we couldn’t even see the tip that was hiding within the clouds.

But there were other things to take note of as well.

We looked at the hustle and bustle throughout the boulevard spread before us, not even glancing at a Red Box appearing in the shadows of the alleys where two foreign kids seemingly popped out. The mixed scent of steamed goods and roasted meat made our mouths water.

The cacophony of screaming merchants and intense haggling with customers of local wares and toys. Gaggles of children running through the street from one stall to the other to be the first in line.

Everything looked familiar and foreign at the same time.

"So where to now, Captain?"

I looked at her with a raised eyebrow, "Captain?"

"Y'know, you being the captain of your ship and all… I thought it was a good inside joke."

I ran the title around my head and a sh*t-eating grin split across my face. Since I stole the TARDIS idea, I might as well milk the opportunity to have my own title.

I thought about it a bit more before asking Lucy to wait a bit, ran back inside before reappearing with a headband that ran my bangs aside, showing my awesome scar and a pair of glasses. It was a look I often wore when my past self was in college.

I then used her confusion to pull her ribbon from the bun hair that kept her prim and proper look and instead tied it into a high ponytail.

Not exactly like her canon-hair design, but close enough to put her at ease.

"Since we're here to forget ourselves. Might as well we changed our names and looks." I threw an extra pair of boots to change from her slippers, and a jacket over her regency dress.

Lucy eagerly agreed to change, "Captain and Goldilocks, sounds catchy."

"I knew that you'd get attached to it."

She blushed and lightly punched my arm.

I snickered despite myself and made an open-arm gesture, "I welcome you Goldilocks, to the Pergrande Kingdom's grand capital city, Sula."

Lucy gasped, "You're kidding me!"


"But that's literally on the other side of the continent."


"And we were at my mansion 10 seconds ago."


Lucy squealed as she hugged me, and I wrapped my arm around her in response as we laughed silly after doing something that was considered by common magical standards to be impossible or unthinkable. Not for one person at least.

Lucy suddenly gasped and pointed at the tower. “Wait a second, does that mean that’s—”

“The Dragnoff Tower. Legends say it holds secrets of long Lost Magic still being discovered today along with records of forgotten history.”

“I can’t believe… I’ve heard of it in stories but I never imagined we could get far to see it firsthand,” Lucy breathed out in awe before turning her gaze back to me. "Where do we go from here?"

"Becoming one with the people I guess. Wear their clothes, learn their livelihood, try out their foods, haggling some stuff, y’know… explore the culture together." I wiggled my arm in invitation and she promptly accepted my offer.

Hand in hand, we rushed through the streets like a pair of normal kids. Feeling like the world is larger than we believe, ready to explore the unknown as we set foot on our adventure.

It’s a first experience for me to go off without so much of a tour guide or a tourist pamphlet. No outline of where we’ll go outside of what’s in front of us. No internet to tell you the best spot to visit or the hidden gem shops that sell five-star gourmet.

All we have is ourselves to trial and error our surroundings.

Not caring at the repeatedly butchered words as we failed to grasp their language when asking for directions.

Trying out Feather Roast, which is as much a delicacy as it is a game of Russian Roulette (plucked from a peaco*ck-looking bird called Maerfowl where each feather can taste different).

Ignorant of the local fauna, which almost got us pickpocketed by monkeys. Like those pesky pests are everywhere. You know how there are wild cats you tolerate because they’re cute? Well, that’s what the monkeys are to the locals here, only they’re as greedy as crows that prey on shiny things.

Not to be confused with the Monkey-Man who’s manning the cloud-candy shop along the street.

Getting looked and whispered at as we tried out all the rare clothing that would have cost a fortune if bought anywhere else in Fiore. All of the meticulously dyed as if it was embroidered in a flowery pattern. Much different from the solid coloring of most Fiore’s fashion...

Of course, being an obviously couple of foreign people. Some tried to either trick us or mug us. But they quickly learned just because we’re kids, we aren’t to be messed with.

Overall it was a blast. The laughter we shared was everything I needed after the harrowing day we both had.

“Okay,” Lucy started, “What are the chances we get to visit the Tower?”

I paused from licking the Hotcream (it’s hot but refreshing, don’t ask how) and stared, “Okay, one; pretty sure that it's on the other side of the Wall, and two; we’ll definitely get in trouble if we brute force our way in.”

“Not even with TORRI?

“Err, not with those crazy protection spells layered beyond that wall. We’ll get gunned down before we even step out.”

Lucy raised a skeptical eyebrow, “Aren’t you exaggerating?”

“Goldie,” I deadpanned, “Pendragon is a Magitocracy. They hoard magic here like a dragon hoarding their wealth, and there’s nothing more magical than a sitting pile of spells and items from a long-lost civilization.”

“Not even a peek?” She asked, her tone hopeful.

I began to squint suspiciously from Lucy’s insistence, she’s usually not one to gamble needlessly, unless… “Don’t tell me you’re only after some old books there?”

“What? Me?” Lucy’s tone took a higher pitch as she tried to brush me off. “Why… I would never… risking our life just for a teensy peak at old literature… haha… shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“I admit the prospect of looking at what could be considered a ruin from the Lost Age is of high interest to a sophisticated man such as myself.” I pretended not to notice Lucy mouthing my smartass words with an obnoxious look on her face. “After all, this is where the tales of dragons originated from.”

Indeed, while Dragons are widely known as tall tales after their disappearance centuries ago. But those in the magic community never denied their existence. Or more specifically, anyone from Pendragon would confirm they’ve always existed.

But the evidence was said to only be found on the other side of the Great Alexander Wall. A mighty wall that separated us from the tower and where the actual capital of the city is — where the wealthy and privileged live and rule over the largest kingdom in Ishgar.

“With all that said, I figured you’d be more interested in checking out some classic Bridgerton knock-off—”

SSSSSSHHHHHH!!!” Lucy crammed my Hotcream down my throat and almost choked me to death. Her face is the reddest I’ve ever seen. “ShutupShutupShutupShutup!”

“I’m shutting up! I’m shutting up! Get off before you kill me!” I garbled out as I was tapping her arm for mercy.

“Not until you swear!”

“Not with that attitude, I won’t!” And just to further be a little sh*t, I had my Gravity Boots activated and had her dangling in the air upside down. It made her choke me further so she could hold on to me for dear life, but at least she’s suffering with me now. The litany of cuss words she pointed at me was not something a lady like her should know, making me laugh between my wheezes.

“—and I swear you’ll be sorry you hagardhagbootlicking—” But Lucy cut herself at the sudden chill that swept both of us as the loud bustle of the market suddenly vanished.

We didn’t need to look as the heavy stares pierced us in infallible depths. Some looked at us with gaping disbelief, some saw us like we were a pair of eldritch horror, another pair of eyes gleamed in a familiar ‘Ooooh, you’re in trouble~’ vibe passed their face — as they not-so-subtly await for a giant mess to come upon us.

I cut off my magic immediately, returning us both to our feet and looking nervously around.

“Err, Captain, what’s going on?”

I opened my mouth. There was no answer I could give to her, but I was compelled to give her an answer — any answer — if it meant I could reassure her.

An old woman suddenly came and scolded us in a foreign language. She made a few sounds that sounded like she was scolding us. Giving me an out from spouting whatever bullcrap at the top of my head.

“You don’t happen to have a Translation Spell, do you?” Lucy whispered to me.

“I do, but it’s as accurate as Google Translate singing ‘Let it Go’.” But it was better than nothing, and the situation may warrant some context rather than not and subtly cast it on us.

“Captain, I swear to all the stars in heaven, you don’t make sense sometimes,” Lucy muttered irritably. Which is a fair reaction from her.

“Silence, children!” She hissed, “Where are your parents? Do not use your magic in grandiosity! Are you trying to get taken?”

““Taken?”” Both me and Lucy looked at each other, briefly wondering if there was a mistranslation.

Seeing our confusion, the woman seemed to reassess the situation. “Wait, are you two from the Innerside?”


“Of course we are!” I quickly just go with it, thinking it’d be less trouble. “Why did you think otherwise?”

“Are you not seeing yourself, young man? Did no one tell you how to dress yourself outside of the Innerside?”

I heard Lucy snort beside me from hearing this old woman dress me down. I had to double-take on myself just to see if I looked funny.

“What’s wrong with the way I look?”

“But more importantly, why did you mean ‘taken’?”

I gawked at her, ‘more importantly?’ — her audacity!

The grandma seemed to agree with her as she turned to Lucy. “I suppose you may be too young to know what goes on around here, it’s—” but then came the sound of wind chime from a distance, and she immediately went still from the sound.

“—I suppose showing it to you would be a better learn.” Then she swiped us both to the side of the street and had us watch a finely decorated rickshaw being pulled by what I believe was a gold-scaled wyvern.

Our eyes widened, we knew wyverns existed but it was also known that they are a pretty rare breed, and more so those with a beautiful color sheen such as gold. Though they looked like a dragon-adjacent dinosaur more than anything. I bet they can’t even fly with those wings. Like chickens.

Heh… chicken dinosaur.

Everyone in the street began to move with an eerie sync. Then, they all kneel on the spot, head bowed low enough that none could make eye contact. Me and Lucy hadn’t expected that and panicked, not thinking twice before following suit to blend with the crowd.

“Err, miss—”

“Oh, how polite, no need to call me miss anything. Just Sylvia is fine, child.”

“Then Sylvia… who are they supposed to be?”

Sylvia had been questioning our presence from the start and now looked at us in suspicion. But even then, she answered, “You’re about to witness one of the Chosen Ones to grace us with their presence.”

We looked at each other, the same questions crossed both our minds. “Chosen Ones?”

“Do you think she meant the Council of Chosens?” I whispered. Why would one of the parliament members be coming down here?


The rickshaw decked in elegantly colored patterns and glimmering opals. Wide width that could carry four people with extra room with levels to them. Each level had one person in them; one was a figure in white priestly clothing that covered everything except her face, which was already covered with a fully blank black mask, and the other was wearing a gold furry robe over his azure hanfu-like clothing.

If that wasn’t enough to point out his importance, the four bodyguards decked in full armor encircling the rickshaw would have been an obvious clue.

The rickshaw stopped perfectly before use. The two figures began making their way off the vehicle and came striding elegantly toward… us? Wait, what? Why? Don’t tell me they found out we're illegal aliens! I am not prepared for breaking us out of jail!

“We’ve come for you,” One of the couples said, and immediately my heart jumped to my throat and my lips trembled from the nerves, thinking fast on what to say “Maya and Maqi Frostine.”


Subtly as I could, I looked up from my bow to examine the figure I assumed was a man only because his voice was in a lower register. Otherwise, his face covered in thick white makeup except along the jawline that was painted in gray, and blue eyeliner outlining his eyes as well as shaping a sharp eye drop that stretched a blue line down his cheeks.

Basically, he has a Clown Face.

The Gaudy Ass Clown then continued to address a group of family beside me. “We’ve been informed that you’ve been touched by the Gift of Ether. We from the Council deeply apologize for neglecting you for so long.” He apologized with great regret in his voice, I was sure he was genuine in his sentiment. He smiled warmly before continuing, “We’ve come to take you home.”

He was talking to a pair of twins, more or less our age, dark-skinned and wearing a shawl over their braided raven hair. They both had identical stricken faces of someone who was caught with a cookie jar behind their hands.

The mother kneeling behind them looked even more telling, shocked, and dismayed as she looked between her two kids and the official person standing before her.

“Your– your grace, you must be mistaken.” The older woman stuttered to say, “My girls are simply humble weavers. I’ve watched over them their whole lives. There– there’s no possible way they could be blessed with the gift. I would have known–”

"Who allowed you to talk?" The man's sharp gaze cut through her rambling as he spoke.

The mother seemed to realize what she had done and immediately apologized, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was just explaining to these children of our ways they seemed oblivious about and—"

However, her response only made things worse as the man became even more livid, his lips curled in disgust and his face flushed from anger despite the clown make-up he had on himself.

The Freaking Clown simply made a gesture as if ready to flick, and when he did, the mother’s head whipped to the side as if she’s been struck, falling to the ground with a bleeding head.

“Mom!” “Mami!” The two girls leaped to their mother’s side.

Watching this, I was too shell-shocked and confused from the development that made me speechless, I looked back at Mr. Clown Face and he looked like he had only just swatted a disgusting fly off his hand.

"How DARE you talk back! Know your place, Woman. You have no say in this.”

"Stop that!”

His head swiveled, teeth barred like he was ready to lash the person who raised her voice among the crowd.


“She hasn't done anything wrong to anyone!" Lucy stood up among the kneeled crowd, like Katniss Evergarde who rose to the occasion, as she loudly protested. “She doesn’t deserve to get hurt for what she did, least of all from a jerk like you!”

I looked at her in both awe and fear. Not just because she was standing up against someone not just above her status, but also waaaaay above her grade.

Like no joke, the simmering magic underneath that man’s fingertip would have rivaled any S-class mage back home. He is not to be trifled with despite his stupid-ass face.

He took one glance before scoffing, “I will allow this transgression only once, Little Girl… Challenge us again and you’ll wish someone had taught you manners.”

The warning edge in his tone charged the air with a dangerous tension, like a sizzling fuse everyone kept watching without trying to stop it from blowing up.

But Lucy was not the least bit deterred, “I’ll challenge anyone who thinks they can strike a defenseless woman, no matter who you think you are.”

There were louder gasps from the crowd as Lucy kept standing her ground. Though I’m proud of witnessing her guts, I’m literally sweating bullets in how we’re gonna avoid any violent blows.

But in hindsight, avoiding violence might have been wishful thinking. This is my life we’re talking about after all. It's chock full of trouble or else I wouldn't bother telling any of it.

The gray eyes of the supposed Chosens began to glow red and spell ready at the tip of his lips. I was ready to intervene when the Black Mask Lady came and touched his shoulder. She whispered something in his ear, which caused the most rapid 180 shift I’ve ever witnessed as the Clown looked positively joyous at Lucy.

“My, what a bless bless day this has been. Not only have we found two, but four Children of Ether,” he said as he smiled warmly at both Lucy and… me? “Please, young man, lift your head, you are certainly exceptional enough to rise with us.”

I couldn’t help but shudder at the way those words were said as calmly as someone pointing out that the sun rises in the west.

You know it’s wrong, but the sheer confidence of how he says things made it all the more concerning.

Like having met an Earth-flatter and you so badly want to correct them but think twice because you don’t want to waste your time fixing stupidity.

So having met with that sort of vibe from the dude, I got up with a pinched smile on my face. Desperately withholding the last shred of composure as I faced His Clowness– oh wow, he looked even more ridiculous up close.

The man then continued, oblivious to most of the mood he incited, “This is no place for esteemed people. Come, come, we mustn't stay long to bring you to the True Capital.”

“NO!!!” The twins cried as they held onto their injured mother. One of them in panic had her arm outstretched and bursting out of her fingertips were sharp white bones, risking going straight into the guy’s very stabbable face.

Or it would have if the sharp bones immediately hadn’t been met with the metal shield of one of the knights, at a speed you wouldn’t think someone in full metal plate would be capable of blocking the attack.

But the twin’s bone magic is damn hard because not only did it manage to dent the steel shield, it push the knight like it was a doll.

Unfortunately, the Noble Clown saw through this and calmly side-stepped away from being thrown back along with the poor bodyguard.

The sight of raw power stunned a lot of the already quiet spectator, the only thing breaking it was the slow clap of the peculiar citizen from the Innerside.

“My, what a beautiful magic you have.” He practically gushed out his admiration.

“Don’t take us away!” The twin insisted still. “We’re sorry. We didn’t mean to do magic. We don’t know it’s so bad—”

The man glided closer and crouched down toward the scared girls, his arms outstretched gently before pulling them into a hug. Firm and nothing sinister in the way he held them like they were precious.

Yet, their faces are still stricken with fear and do not elevate the tension.

“It’s okay. You will be okay. We’re going to take care of you. There’s no need to fear the gift bestowed upon the Chosens. It is an honor to have you destined to be above others. And we shall guide to that in Innerside.”

As much as the man said it with kind sincerity, the air around seemed to envelop them in safety as he promised protection.

However, his words did not suggest they had any other choice, and those girls knew it.

And so does Lucy, seeing as I’m in the middle of physically restraining her from kicking a noble in the head with the way she’s ready to whoop some butt.




“Goldie, calm down.” Sheesh, younger Lucy is almost as impulsive as Natsu. No wonder they get along. “At least not here, and not now.”

I kept an eye out for the black-masked woman. Her blank mask had no eye holes that could hint she made eye contact with me.

But she might not have a need for it. Not when she’s most likely like me.

Then, Mr. Clown’s soft eyes turned sharp at the mother once more, before slapping across the cheek hard enough that she practically rolled back.

“Tch, how much have you neglected teaching these children? Despicable.” He clicked his fingers, and one of the guards stood in attention. “Arrest her.”

""What?!"" Lucy and I exclaimed. Yet we were ignored as the knight took her hand roughly, the twins’ mother had tears in her eyes, and kept shaking her head, her pleading desperate plea was deaf to him and the people around as they kept their heads down to avoid looking at the heartbreaking scene where the children began to scream for their mother, but had to watch her be taken away in the end.

“Wait a minute!” Lucy screamed again. “Why are you arresting her? She did nothing wrong!”

“She has more than sin after failing to perceive the gift blessed to these two and keeping them from where they truly belong. It’s atrocious.”

“That’s still no reason to imprison her! If you’re so much better than others, why don’t you leave her alone instead of bullying her!”

Mr. Gaudy Clown Face looked to us like we were innocent children who didn't understand what the real world is truly like.

"It needs reminding that we are not their equal, that their place is to serve those who are Chosens.” He finally turned to face, the cold fury on his face turned soft as the warmth in his voice came back. “I know what you must be thinking, but do not worry. You will want for nothing once you step into our world as we teach you what it means to be one of us.”

His voice was compassionate and soothing that if I hadn't seen what he had done I would have no problem taking it and giving him the benefit of the doubt. It gives me goosebumps, thinking how this must be like to have an authoritarian and cult mentality be in a state.

I gulped and finally spoke, “We would be nothing but honored to rise among you."

Lucy gritted her teeth, I could almost hear her grinding, “Captain…”

“I know, Goldie. I know.” I said in a tone that suggested more to my words. “But trust me.”

The rickshaw they guided us toward looked to be a bigger closeup. There were levels to the seats that allowed as much as any standard carriage would allow it to carry. But unlike a carriage, we’re not forced to sit face-to-face with people we can’t stand as we leave the once lively marketplace to a heavy silence.

Lucy elbowed me on the side and whispered as low as she could, “What are we doing, Captain? Are we just going to stand by and follow these weirdos?”

“I mean, we just discussed going to the Innerside. What better way than to have them lead us on a red carpet?”

“But they’re insane, Roy!” She hissed.

“Err,” one of the twins sitting beside me began to say, “Sorry, you two speak strange. What are you talking about?”

Ah, right, we’re talking in common Fiorean with each other. “Just nervous about being taken away from everything we know and love into an unknown place that has people who arrest people for being inconvenient apparently.”

It was a poor attempt at a joke, as the other twin burst into tears, and Lucy smacked me upside the head. Which… deserved.

“I’m sorry about him. He doesn’t know when he’s being a dick sometimes. What’s your name?” Lucy asked the crying girl, her voice gentle.

The distinct difference in her tone from the noble behind us seemed to spur the young girl to answer, “I- I’m Maya. My sister’s Maqi. We, we didn’t mean to get Mami in trouble.”

Maqi nodded along with her and whispered, “We just knew that anyone with magic would be taken away… and we didn’t want to get taken away.”

Maya started to tear up again. “But because of us, Mama is— Mama is—”

“Your Mom will be alright.”

The girls turned to me. Each of them looked taken aback by how resolute I sounded.

“You- you don’t know that. Everybody said that nobody gets out once they’ve taken you.”

“And I assure you she’ll be alright.” I looked them in the eye and promised them. “I’ll take you back to her, I swear.”

While the girls were reasonably skeptical, Lucy asked, “Do you have a plan?”

“Still in progress, gotta need more info, but I will say–” I faced Lucy and I wasn’t sure the sort of expression I had on my face, but what I do know is that it’s been a long time since I felt like myself. “ –wanna know how much trouble we can get up to here?”

Lucy’s brown eyes glimmered with determination and a grin that was borderline manic. Or maybe it’s best to say it’s a smile that wants nothing more than to f*ck around and find out.

Sometimes I forget why she perfectly belongs in Fairy Tail.

Meddling the Middle - Chapter 21 - marisandini (2024)


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