Chapter 9 - The Dark Castle
"Carou, do you know what magic is?" Baroul asked, her dark hair falling in front of her face hiding her expression.
The two sat on Carou's bed, cross legged, facing each other. Carou was letting Baroul talk as much as she wanted, knowing it made her feel better letting the feelings out. Carou ran her hand through her short pink hair like Natsu and smiled.
"Yeah, my whole family can use it!" She exclaimed, jumping up and down a bit.
Baroul smiled and lifted her head, letting Carou see her tear stricken face. "That's good. I can use it too. My family, however, can't use a lot. At least, not as much as me..." She said, lifting her hand and creating a fire ball in her hand, then letting it disappear.
"My daddy can do that!" Carou stated, her eyes wide and full of wonder.
"Baroul ran her hand through her hair and smiled, "My father couldn't do anything. He was just considered a normal commoner here. My mother had used Never Empty Barrel. She learned it from one of the lady's at her work. I remember when I first showed my mother and father my power..." Baroul choked out as her head lifted and was pulled into a flashback.
-Baroul's house when she was around the age of 2-
Baroul's long black hair was pulled back by a red ribbon her father had given her, she was making fire with her hand and tossing it into the hearth while no one was around. When she heard the door opening she stopped and ran towards it.
"Alli!" Baroul's father exclaimed as she ran into him, wrapping her arms around his long slender legs. He laughed and lifted the young child to his hip.
"Alli, what are you doing, aren't you supposed to be at the orphanage with your mother?" His dark eyes didn't resemble hers in the least, it was his shoulder length black hair that was identical. The little child named Alli Baroul giggled, and rubbed her head to his chest, hiding her face.
"Is your mother home? Rose?" He called, carrying Alli into the kitchen where he found his wife cooking.
"Welcome home, Shade." She greeted, kissing his cheek and grabbing the bag from his hand and setting it on the kitchen table. Her bright yellow eyes resembled Allis immensely. Her white hair was what was different. Alli couldn't deny either of her parents, and yet she could all the same. Her hair and eyes were the only thing she had inherited. She hadn't gotten looks or build from either. Her father had a tall frail frame, where her mother had a short plump frame. She had turned out average height and busty. Nothing like either parents.
"Aren't you supposed to be at the orphanage?" Shade asked, bouncing Alli on his hip.
"I was sent home. Elli was making a fuss about Alli and the two wouldn't leave each other alone. I got fed up and put both in time out and they continued making faces at each other. Miss Linguren finally let me go home so I wouldn't have to deal with the two anymore. Alli's been in time out since." She explained, her hands on her hips as she made a face at Alli who once again hid her face.
"Alli, how many times have we told you to be nice to Elli? She's had it a lot rougher than you could believe." Shade said, setting his child on her chair.
"But, she's mean to me too! She makes fun of my eyes so I make fun of her hair." Alli complained, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting.
"Neither of you should be making fun of each other!" Rose exclaimed, turning back to the stove where she was cooking a stew.
"Oh! Father, want to see something new I learned today?" Alli asked excitedly, bouncing up and down.
"Sure." Shade replied, smiling and lifting Alli back up.
"Mother, you come too!" Alli called, watching her mother follow as Shade carried her to the living room.
Shade set Alli down and sat on the couch, Rose joining him a few seconds later.
"Ok, focus on my hand." She said holding her hand out, palm facing upwards. She closed her eyes and concentrated and then her hand lit, a small flame rose from her palm causing both her parents to jump from their seats.
Shade quickly scooped Alli up and brought her to the kitchen to run water over her hand. Once the flame was gone he hugged Alli close to his body.
"W-what's w-wrong?" Alli asked quietly, tears falling down her cheeks.
"Alli, you must never do that. Ever." Shade explained slowly.
"What's wrong with you?!" Her mother erupted, grabbing Alli by the arm, yanking her towards her. "You can't do that! Do you know how much of a panic that would cause?!" Rose had tears forming in her eyes, her face full of shock and surprise.
Alli didn't know how to react so she just cried. Even as Shade lifted her in his arms, bouncing her around, singing lullabies, Alli continued to cry.
-Carou and Baroul-
"Baroul? Are you ok?" Carou asked quietly. Baroul had sat there quietly for a couple minutes just staring at the ceiling, not moving.
"Huh? Oh, yes. I'm fine. Just some bad memories..." She said slowly, wiping a tear from her eye before it fell.
"My mommy said that memories are really precious. Whether they're good or bad. They shape a person to make them the way they are. They way they react, Baroul's hand.
"You know, you're really smart for a 2 year old." Baroul said, laughing.
"My family says that too!" Carou exclaimed, grinning.
-Elli and the others-
"The Dark Castle?" Mira questioned, tilting her head to the side. The name itself sounded like something they shouldn't be getting themselves into.
"Yes, it's an abandoned castle in the mountains that surround our town. It was used over 400 years ago by the same man that has Carou, Bralto." Elli said, standing and getting her stuff together.
"What are you doing?" Natsu asked, grabbing her arm.
"I'm going with you. Nothing you say will stop me. I'm going." Elli said, standing again. Looking at her, the others could see so much Lucy in her by the way she stood up to Natsu, and so much Natsu in her by the way she wasn't going to change her mind.
"She's your kid..." Natsu grumbled to Lucy. He received a smack on the back of his head from both Lucy and Erza.
"Where is it?" Master asked, getting up also.
Elli led the others outside the bar, and pointed towards the mountain directly in front of where they had landed when thy arrived in Strylou. It was large and looming, dark and barely noticeable against the dark sky.
"H-How are we going t-to get there?" Lucy asked, shaking. Levy and Wendy were also.
"By climbing." Elli said it like she had been doing it all her life. The others stared at her with disbelief and shock on their faces. "What? I always had to go up the mountains to get the wood for building my bar." She once again said something so unbelievable nonchalantly.
"Whatever! Let's just go and get Carou!" Erza said, jogging after Elli, probably just excited to climb, she hadn't done anything that physical in a while.
"Wait, Juvia can't go. Neither can Nagi and I don't want to stay here while you guys have all the fun." Gray said, stopping everyone in their tracks.
"Fine. Lisanna, Elfman, Romeo, Wendy, and I will stay with Juvia and Nagi. Erza, Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Mira, Canna, Levy, and Gajeel will accompany Elli." Master said, waving for the others to leave already.
Halfway up the mountain, Natsu's stomach began to growl.
"Damn it!! I should have eaten something before starting!" He cursed, pushing himself up the mountain farther.
"Natsu! You have to slow down. If you exert yourself too much you'll have nothing to use when we fight!" Lucy yelled, causing Natsu to slow down.
"Wait...Levy!" Natsu called stopping completely. The others passed him until Levy made it next to him.
"Yes?" She asked, lifting her foot and lifting herself to another rock to grab.
"Can't you make fire? Make it now, so I can eat it and be ready!" He said, grinning and licking his lips.
"Why don't we wait until we actually make it up to the castle, that way I don't waste my magic now, just for you to use all your energy climbing just the mountain." Levy said, passing him.
"Fine, I'll just fall off the mountain when I run out of energy." Natsu complained, starting to climb again, slowly.
"How long do you think it'll take Salamander to realize he can use you?" Gajeel asked Happy while being carried up the mountain by Lily.
"I don't know. I've been waiting-"
"HAPPY!" Natsu roared, angry he hadn't thought of it before.
"Aye!" Happy responded, flying to Natsu and carrying him up the rest of the mountain. The four waited for the others to make it.
"You could've bared through that like the rest of us." Gray complained, helping the others up over the ledge.
Lucy was last to make it and as her hand grabbed the ledge it broke off.
"Huh? Huh?! HUH?!!!" She cried as she started to fall from the mountain.
"Lucy!" Natsu yelled, jumping for the ledge and grabbing her hand before she could fall any farther. Half his body was on the mountain, the other half hanging off, holding on to Lucy.
"Thanks..." she said quietly as he lifted her back up, she fell on top of him and stared down at his blushing face.
"Haven't been in this position in a while, have you?" She asked, smiling.
"Can you not?!" Elli complained, turning away pretending to gag.
The two quickly stood, their faces still showing a hint of blush.
"Is that the castle?" Cana asked, tilting her head up to see it all.
It was a huge black looming palace that consisted of dragon decorated marble pillars that reached sky high. The aura surrounding the building was dark and cold. Their eyes landed on a single room that had it's light on.
Natsu's nose twitched. "That's..."
"Carou!" Lucy heaved, a smile playing at her lips.
"Let's not celebrate yet. We have to get in there first." Erza said, making her way towards the entrance.
"Wait, we're just going to walk in?" Lucy questioned, making her way towards the front of the group as they neared the door.
"Not much of a choice." Natsu said, pushing the door open.
It took some strength but after a while, the door opened with a loud creak revealing a long corridor.
"Bralto wants to see you again but again, remember, no attitude, ok?" Baroul questioned Carou. The two standing in front of the large black doors once again.
"That voice... It can't be..." Elli said, stepping towards the two figures at the end of the hall. They couldn't sense their presence at all.
"Yes ma'am." Carou replied and they opened the large door and let it slam close behind them.
"That was Carou!" Lucy exclaimed, starting for the end of the hall. Large arms wrapped around her and held her close. "Why'd you stop me-" Lucy was going to yell at Natsu until he nodded towards Elli who was staring wide eyed towards the spot the two girls once stood. Natsu released Lucy and the others watched Elli.
Small tears poured over her cheeks, "I-I thought you were dead..." She said quietly, stepping towards the end of the corridor also. The others followed until a large man stood a couple inches in front of Elli, scaring her.
"Not so fast..." The voice hissed, reaching for Elli.
Next Chapter- 10~Loosing It All