It's a joke gift, even if unintentional. Something Natsu and Happy had picked up on a quest while she was down with a cold. It’s useless of course. Neither idiot knew a thing about Celestial Spirit Magic and just believed the old man when he told them that it was a powerful key.
Lucy doesn’t mean to use it at first. She didn’t even recognize what it was. Celestial Spirit Magic is one of the few magics with known limitation. There are a set number of Celestial Spirits with a corresponding number of keys, twelve gold and seventy-six silver, each carefully documented and accounted for.
There are no white keys.
But when her opponent manages to steal her keys one by one, leaving her defenceless, and her fingers brush against it she reacts on instinct.
“I’m free!” Black fire bursts forward out and a claw blocks the next attack. His head appears next, a pair of horns atop it, followed by a humanoid body with wings and a tail. “Foolish human, I will grant you one wish for summoning me.”
“Shut up and save me!” Lucy yells slapping the spirit on his unbandage cheek.
The spirit rubs his cheek and stares at her. Then he sits down and pouts. Actually pouts, with puffed cheeks and crossed arms. “I don’t wanna now.”
Lucy gapes at the display. Then she screams as a beam of light hits the floor below him and blows up.
She’s going to die. Her last chance was a dud and there’s no way Natsu can reach her in time. Another beam going streaking towards her and then everything is on fire.
“Oh, those four. They’re all kind of crazy,” Leo laughs later, “but they’re okay for the most part, the monkey’s a bit much.”
“Monkey?” Lucy imagines a small brown monkey, with shiny eyes and a banana in its hand.
“Yeah, attitude like you wouldn’t believe but he can take down at least thirty Vulcans, even with a weak mage.”
The monkey explodes and an angry gorilla takes its place, banana replaced with a mace.
“Sun Wukong, he’s got the most tricks out of all of them. Clones, flight, lighting, and a couple other goodies thrown in for the hell of it. A pain to summon though, he takes a ridiculous amount of mana before he’ll even bother to show up.”
Lucy’s head spins as the gorilla multiples to three and they start flying and throwing lighting around. She feels like that one will be a pain to deal with.
“Out of the four of them Uriel would probably be the easiest for you to manage. All of them have ridiculous terms for their contracts but hers is the one you’d have the least trouble with. You can only summon her to fight evil.”
She wishes all her contracts could be that simple.
“Abyssal’s the most spirit like. He’s just fire and fangs, with a little attitude.”
“Fire and fangs?”
“Well, he is a dragon.”
“HE’S A DRAGON?!” Lucy yells, forgetting all about the fourth spirit.
Lucy finds the second key on accident. She didn’t think that it was another Celestial Key. It was just sitting there, on the alter, unprotected and begging to be taken. But when the dark guild comes crashing in and some crazy hot guy with a scar on his face tries to take it she figures its worth something.
And when the crazy hot guy manages to slam Leo through the ground and down 4 floor without magic, she figures she’s got nothing to lose as she summons Abyssal.
She realizes after that she’s holding the wrong white key.
There’s a buts of light and fire and before her stands an angel. She can feel the righteousness pouring off her as she slowly opens her eyes.
“Who stands before- YOU!”
The guild member freezes for a second. Then he stabs the ground and floor collapses beneath him.
“Oh, you $@#%^#! You aren’t getting away this time! I’m gonna @#^&$# and #%$^#^%$^% and #^$^%@^$ RIGHT UP THE @$$!!!!.”
And once again everything is on fire. Only white this time.
“Ah, yeah,” Leo sighs, pushing his sunglasses up. “Uriel’s got a bit of a grudge against the Secretive Plotter.”
“The fourth white key constellation.”
“That was the fourth white key spirit?” Lucy yells in surprise. “But wait, there weren’t any Celestial Spirit Mages in the guild members we caught, did they get away?”
The light seems to dim as Leo shifts uncomfortably. “Well, he’s like I was, before you saved me.” He takes a deep breath and seems to think it over. “He’s murdered his mage and has been staying in the human realm through his own magic power. It’s actually what inspired me to do it back them.”
“You mean he’s been in the human world for over three years!” Lucy yells.
“… years.” Leo mutters.
“It’s more like 400 years.”
The third key she gets on purpose. Word must have gotten out about them since she’s started using them. A small competition, is being held in Hargeon.
Of course, since Natsu, Happy and her are banned from Hargeon, she has to get a little creative when sneaking in.
“Sonny, why don’t you bring your granny and grampy some popcorn.” Natsu practically drool through his fake beard.
“Aye!” Happy almost vibrates out of his little dress.
“Sure grandpa!” She says, ignoring the twitch developing above her left eye. “I’ll be right back with it.” Not.
Lucy runs out of the stand and into the green room.
“Cutting it a little close, aren’t you?” one of the contestant comments.
“I had to make sure my grandparents didn’t cause a fuss.” Not that it was doing any good if the sudden lack of abundance of seats next to them was any indicator.
“They look… nice” he says as Natsu breathes literal fire at someone trying to sit in front of Happy.
“Right. Good luck.”
They all fall silent as the lights dim and a drum roll starts. One by one the spot lights light up and zero in on the announcer.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and girls of all ages! Are you ready for the competition!”
There’s a cheer from the crowd at his question, a few sparks are even thrown by some enthusiastic mages.
“Then let’s not keep you waiting! The secret competition we’ve organized here. The competition for a fabled white key! The Key to The Most Ancient Liberator!"
The cheering increases and more than a few of the mages around her push forward. Lucy pushes forward as well, trying to get closer to the stage to try and get a good look at the prize.
"And here to tell you what the competition is, the spirit himself!"
The curtain finally rises and she see's him. Lounging on a pile of pillows and covered in armour. He's like something out of an eastern tale. His eyes flicker over the assembly of mages before settling on the audience. There's a sudden flash and a golden tail whips around to toss the key up into the air. The crowd falls silent and he lifts himself up and leans forward.
"I want," he says slowly, "a story. Make it a good one."
Lucy doesn’t know whether to cheer or cry when she wins.
“They’re all mediocre, but 5/10 might get better with some practice. I guess I’ll go with her.”
“Why are they all so weird?!” She cries later.
“Of course, you don’t really need them when you can just summon me, Lucy.”
“C’mon, Lucy!” Natsu whines shaking her. “Just summon him! I wanna talk!”
How did he find out? Lucy wants to cry as she’s swung back and forth, steadily picking up speed. Who told him? Her head is going to fly off soon if he doesn’t stop. “I can’t, no way!”
“He might know about Igneel!”
“That’s right!” Happy agrees.
“I can’t break my contract and just summon him like that! It would go against my pride as a Celestial Spirit Mage.” Lucy crosses her arms in front of herself in an X and turns her head. “Besides, he’s a Celestial Spirit that’s themed like a dragon, not an actual dragon, he won’t know more than any other Celestial Spirit.”
Natsu lets go and he and Happy tilt their heads. “There’s a difference?”
“Of course there is! You didn’t think it was weird he wasn’t a giant lizard?!”
They both gasp as if struck by lightning.
The door to her apartment slams open and two more bodies pile in.
“Tell me where Metalicana is!”
“Lucy, does he know about Grandeeney?!”
“I was Maknae-yah’s favorite!”
“I was Dokja-yah’s favorite!”
“Fools, the Demon King of Salvation obviously new I was his greatest supporter.”
Lucy’s attention is pulled to the corner where the white keys are gathered. All three of them wear serious faces as they loudly argue about who is the best. Best what, Lucy isn’t sure, but she finds herself enthralled by the yelling.
“He returned your coins when you tried to pay him to beat up that dokkaebi!”
“Haaah?! He returned your coins way more times than he did mine!”
“He never returned any of mine!”
“Shut up chunni!” They both yell.
Abyssal sulks as the two blonds continue to argue above him. Lucy feels sorry for the spirit. It must be tough, being one of the youngest spirits in the Celestial Plane.
“Here,” she says, passing her drink. “It sucks to be the youngest, doesn’t it?”
“Ha!” Sun Wukong laughs, slapping his thigh. “Youngest she says. Don’t let his baby face fool you, he isn’t actually-” He chokes as Abyssal punches him in the gut.
“I’m an eternal fifteen year old, you old geezer!”
Sun Wukong flips back up and swings his staff at Abyssal’s head. “Lie to yourself as much as you want, but you can’t fool me!”
“Don’t bully our dongsaeng!”
“He’s older than SP!”
“We’re all older than SP.” Abyssal mutters.
Sun Wukong smirks and flicks his hair. “But we don’t look it. I’m telling you, I saw gray hairs last time I saw the bastard.”
“Stupid.” Abyssal yells. “We don’t age dumbass, he doesn’t got any grey hair. But you are going bald with all that pulling.”
“What was that!”
“Baldy, baldy, baldy!”
Uriel tilts her head to the side and blinks. “Wasn’t I the last one to see him though? Back at the temple, he hasn’t really shown up since then and we haven’t been summoned in seven years.”
All three of them pause and think it over. As one, Uriel and Abyssal’s necks snap towards Sun Wukong.
“Did you get another summoner while our Lucy was missing?!”
“When the hell did that happen?!”
“Oh, I think I hear Loki is calling me.”
“Hey, answer us!”
“YOU @#%$^ @#%$%@ on a #@%@$#5 @$#%@ with 2@#545@#$!!!! ANSWER OUR QUESTION IF YOU ARENT A @$%@#$%@ OR @#$%@% YOU #&$^#%*^@&^%&^#&^#$%#&^&#%@^$%&$%E&%^@$%%^*&*&%$#$%^$^@Y#^&&*%$E$%T%#$W^E!!!!!!!”
Uriel and Abyssal abandon Lucy with the King to chase down Sun Wukong.
Lucy blinks rapidly as her ears slowly stop ringing. She watches as the trio bowl over Natsu and Gray. The two take exception and start throwing food, which lands on Erza. Then a full blown food war erupts.
She laughs as she watches the mages and spirits interact. There’s a warmth, starting from her chest and spreading to her toes.
Things are bad out there. She’s missed seven years. Fairy Tail is considered the worst guild in Fiore. And there are two new Dragon Slayers gunning for Natsu.
But here and now, life is good.
“I have a favour to ask of you, old friend.”
Lucy looks up at the Celestial Spirit King. His grin is gone now and he whispers, like he’s afraid to be heard.
“What is it.”
The King stares at her before glancing briefly at the festivities. “The fourth white key constellation, I would like for you to find him.”
It takes her a second to remember who he’s talking about, but it hit her. Ah, crazy hot guy.
“No way!” she yells.
Everyone shuts up and stares at her. Flustered, she shoos them away and tells them its nothing.
“No way.” She whispers. “That guy is scary, he took out Leo with one hand.” She holds up one of her own as if to demonstrate.
“The Plotter is strong,” the King agrees, “but he’s weaker now than he’s ever been. Four hundred and thirty six years is a long time to sustain himself. Any of the other white keys should be able to subdue him if given a chance.”
Lucy thinks back to how he ran, back then, the moment he realized she’d summoned Uriel. “Won’t you have to kill him though?” She remembers how Leo, Loke then, ran away to die alone because he broke the law and the King must hold that law above all else.
“I could no more judge him than I could a human.” He laughs
Lucy makes a noise of confusion. That. Doesn’t seem quite right. “But aren’t you the Celestial Spirit King.”
“Indeed I am.”
“Then aren’t you the King of Celestial Spirits?”
“Then why can’t you judge him?”
“Old friend, I just said, I’m the Celestial Spirit King. I can’t very well judge someone who isn’t a Celestial Spirit.”
“Where is this guy?!” Lucy screams. “It’s been two months and we still haven’t found him.”
“Hey Lucy, look at this weird frog?” Natsu laughs, holding it up. He squeezes its stomach and it farts a little. “Its Wendy, see.”
“Gross!” She slaps it out of his hand.
“Wendy, are you okay!”
“Geeze Lucy, don’t be so mean to Wendy.”
“Don’t you start.” She snaps at Happy. “If we don't find him soon we’ll run out of food. And I’m not eating poisonous frogs.” She points at ‘Wendy’ at the last statement.
“Don’t give up Lucy.” Happy cheers. “I’m sure you’ll survive it.”
“Like hell I will!”
She forces herself to calm down. There’s no point getting upset. The two idiots rolling in the mud won’t understand even if she does blow up at them. Why couldn’t Erza be here? She’d be able to control them.
“Look, we promised the master that we would be back in a month. We’re already over the deadline. I bet he’s sent Erza and Gray to pick us up.”
“Then we just have to find him before they find us!” Happy exclaims, missing the point. “Look, these trees look spooky, I bet we could lose them in there.”
“Maybe he’s like a ghost,” Natsu laughs, “you have to say his name three times fast. Secretive Plotter, Secretive Plotter, Secretive Plotter.”
“Don’t be stupid Natsu, we’ll just have to come back another time.”
And the stars must align, because just as she finishes saying that there’s a loud thud behind them. All three of them slowly turn around and are met with a bloody sword and single blazing eye.
“DAMNIT NATSU YOU JINXED US!”
“SHUT UP AND FIGHT!”