Fairy Tail. A guild that seemed to be around as long as Earthland was, and seemed just as resilient as Earthland, too. The guild was one shrouded in both light and mystery, wizards from all over gathering together to empower themselves or others in their quest for what seemed to be justice, but many would find that many members in the guild would stray away from that one path, even the previous Guildmaster, Kanix Laspor. Although to Ezra, her face was unknown, her crimes were not. She was undoubtedly known to be a suspect if not the culprit who took part in the massacre of Magnolia Town and disappeared afterwards. The infamous Lucie, who was accused of murder and holding the title of Coming Storm, a title only given to the the worst of them. Nothing like the Eleven Sinners, of course, but they were certainly heading down that path. She too, vanished after the guild allegedly gave her prying eyes. Her face was unknown, but her crimes were not. It was these strayed souls that branded the once glorious guild, Fairy Tail, as an enemy of the Magic Council. And like Lucie and Kanix, Fairy Tail… vanished.
When Ezra thought about the tragedies of betrayal, deceit, and heartbreak, who could barely keep himself together. He wanted to protect this guild. He wanted to protect everyone in it. But holding an A-class title would serve him nothing he if he did act with his power. He was one of the most determined, stubborn men in the guild who was both bark and bite. He wanted to prove useful and loyal to his Guildmaster, and wanted to establish a bond of trust between him and his guildmates.
It was just in the early morning, about a quarter past seven. But despite the hour, the sun was rising and a shroud of warm hues covered the atmosphere. All sorts of blues, oranges and yellows painted it refreshingly. In an open field just in front of the shroud of trees part of the East Forest. It seemed to be the only place of Magnolia that remained untouched, unharmed, and magnificent. It wa tranquille and vast, perfect for a tussles and whatnot. But the forest and field is what he had called home for the last week or so, as he had no problem with living about in nature. But, alas, the inactivity had been eating away at Ezra’s mind and he could no longer remain idle. With the slow, progressive reconstruction of Magnolia Town, there was nothing more to do than to build. But, Ezra was not only a citizen, but a wizard, and he had tasks he must heed to elsewhere in Fiore. And thus, the blazing redhead had taken on an abundance of jobs recently, and he had prepared himself mentally and physically to binge the for the next month or so. He, however, feared that because of his inability to notify his guild, his extensive absence would birth paranoia and great distress. But at the same time, he reckoned he wasn’t so important that someone would lose their head over his absence.
Today, his first location was Rose Garden. He had remembered going there once, and the bitter taste of champagne and alcohol seemed to remain on his tongue since his trip to one of their bars. He feared that he would stray away and find himself in such a place again. Tasted like some of the finest alcohol but he had little tolerance.
That aside, on his way to the train station of Magnolia Town, he realized that it too, had been destroyed and reduced to dust and stone. If the morning grogginess was not enough, he had accepted the fact that he would have to walk to the next town over, get on their train and only then could he resume his quest. But walking, running, or sprinting from town to town required the maximum stamina (physically and mentally) of the person, as he had not anticipated such a struggle. But, him being fit, it was relatively easy to get to the next town, just not quick and timely. He felt a small moment of graciousness because he had headed out so early. Time waits for no one, so best exploit it.
Eventually, Ezra did make it to the train station in the nearest town (which happened to be Hargeon) and boarded seconds before it departed.
With heavy breaths, Ezra slunk back into his seat in a cold sweat. He peered out the window, exhausted with his efforts as his eyes grazed upon the glistening waters of Hargeon Town. It was never really his kind of town, he wasn’t a fisherman nor a water person, and this town seemed to be the embodiment of all those things. The redhead sighed and fiddled with his fingers in his pockets until he grabbed hold of something.
A lingering memory resurfaced upon physical contact, and as he shuffled through his pocket to retrieve a crumbled up paper, he realized that this was the job request he had snatched earlier. With nothing better to do, he reread the text:
”To all whom it may concern,
Our peaceful town, Rose Garden, is threatened by a great evil. Lately, suspicious characters have been walking into my bar, always asking questions about how many people lived in this town, and if there were any wizards. Each time, I answered the as accurately as I could but didn’t realize the pattern. Each time they asked, they’d smile a grim smile and leave without paying, never to be seen again. They came one at the time, ordered the same things, and asked the same questions. I suspect that this morbid behavior will be dangerous to ignore…
I grow weary of their eerie comments, and I am requesting a wizard’s assistance in this time of need. Please arrive at “Thorn’s Bar” in Rose Garden as soon as possible to discuss further details.”
Ezra scratched his scalp as he reread the puzzling message. It certainly was an eerie request, knowing that a great evil may befall Rose Garden but a evil so obscure that such little detail was given publicly. But he could not face his guild or his people if he had simply ignored a call of distress. But with a request ranked so high, the blazing redhead feared for the worst.
Ezra sighed and relaxed back into his seat, slipping the request onto his lap as the train slid along the tracks. In the seats on the opposite side of him was a Mother and her daughter, who seemed visually interested in Ezra. She was small, had pigtails and brown hair, wore a frilly pink and white dress and had hazel eyes. She leaned over with a grin and tugged at Ezra’s sleeves.
“Hiya, Mister!” The little girl lilted with her silvery voice. Ezra turned to her, alarmed by the sudden physical contact and welcomed her with a grin just as friendly.
“Why, ‘ello there.” Ezra acknowledged. The girl fell quiet for a few short moments, investigating Ezra with her eyes.
“Are you a wissard, mister?” The little girl spoke softly as she eyeballed him. Ezra laughed awkwardly to her pronunciation mistake, lifting his head to review the Mother, who appeared to be dozing off. The redhead turned back to the girl and nodded.
“Dam-... Darn right I am! The real thing, I tell ya.” Ezra rejoiced. The girl would grin even a wider grin this time around, revealing her missing teeth which only added to her cute charm.
“Are you stronk?!” She egged him on. Ezra’s face went as red as his hair as she spoke, almost breaking out in an innocent laughter at her speech. He pressed his hand against his chest and took a deep breath with a friendly smile before his face reduced back down to his normal complexion.
“Gee, if I ain’t strong, I’ll be damned! Wanna feel my ‘ceps? They pretty impressive if ya ask me, little girl!” Ezra would roll up his sleeve and flex for the girl, who almost had a twinkle of awe in her eyes. She began to grope his muscles, gasping.
“You’re so stronk!” The little girl had both her small hands wrapped tightly around Ezra’s biceps, tugging at his arms. “Hey, mister, where are you going? Are you going to fight monsters?” She asked inquisitively.
Ezra peered upwards in thought, wondering how to explain it to the little girl before he suddenly had a vague idea. The redhead turned back to her and smiled, “Well, ‘somethin like that. You see, there are lots ‘n lots of folks out in the world who are in trouble and need help. Wizards, like me, are the people to call to come to their rescue, ya know?”
The girl’s eyes sparkled in awe and she further shook his arm excitedly, “So you’re a hero? You beat up the bad guys?!”
“Uh-huh. You bet I do. And that’s what I’m going to do now, help people.” Ezra retorted.
“That’s so cool! I want to be a wizard, too, mister!!” At this point, the girl was shouting in the train, but her mother remained undisturbed.
“You do, huh? Ain’t that a nice goal! Maybe in a few years or so you can have all about it, little girl.” Ezra chuckled and ruffled her hair, “I remember when I wanted to become a wizard. I was just like you, I had a hero of my own. You do some hard work ‘n you’ll be a hero in no time, I reckon. Ya get me, little girl?” The redhead raised his hand to the girl, offering a high five which she had joyfully returned.
For the majority of the ride, the two had talked gleefully. The redhead had always enjoyed young children, it was a pleasure to endorse and talk to them.
“I gotta go now, mister!! Mama said so. Bye-bye!” She waved as she would hug the redhead’s leg and skip down the steps with her hand entangled with her Mother’s. The parent would peer over to Ezra with a smile and nodded, as if to say “thank you.” Ezra blushed and twisted and twirled his hair, embarrassed, but eventually nodded back with a thumbs up.
The train began to move again. At this rate, I reckon I’ll arrive earlier than anticipated. Always a good time to investigate, though… He pondered. But during this period of being, he felt many prying eyes lay upon him, and obscure gossiping.
Ezra realized this and peered behind his seat to find a group of middle aged women who gossiped, though Ezra couldn’t hear it quite as well as he wanted to. When the middle aged women caught him eavesdropping, they scowled at him and quieted down even more. At this point, Ezra decided to mind his own business and turn back around before one woman had stood from her seat and tapped his shoulder.
“Sir, you’re a wizard, are you not?” The woman with curly blonde hair had asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
Ezra would nod his head quietly, “Well, gee, yes I am.” He retorted before easing back into his seat, now aware of her presence. “What’s it to ‘ya?”
“In a guild, by chance? Which?” The concern in the woman’s voice only continued to grow, leaving Ezra feeling like he was being interrogated.
“You sure ask an awful lot of questions, Miss… but yes, I am in a guild. Fairy Tail.” Ezra smiled an awkward smile.
The woman’s face morphed into a scowl as she would quickly return to her group to whisper and gossip again before she stood up again. This time, her girl friends stood with her and all four of them walked over to his seat.
“So you’re with the outlaws who destroyed Magnolia Town, are you?!” The previous woman had accused him, the other women soon joined in.
“You’d ought to be arrested for your crimes! A lot of people lost their family, friends, and homes in that massacre!”
“Do you even feel sorry for what you’ve done?”
Their accusations continued, leaving Ezra thoroughly confused and speechless. But he could tell what was going on. The redhead, who was a wizard under the Fairy name, had been subjected to prejudice for a crime he did not commit. Ezra concluded that not only were these women not Magnolians, they clearly were ignorant, as Ezra had not even been in Fairy Tail during the incident. Realizing this, Ezra quickly became more infuriated by their accusations. He let them continue, as he did not want to cause a scene.
“Why are you silent? Have nothing to say? It’s as good as admitting to it, you know!” The first woman had topped it off, not noticing the popping veins of anger on his body.
Ezra finally responded. “You ladies are all fine and dandy, but you clearly aren’t informed, are ya?” The redhead shot piercing eyes back to the group, whom all flinched. “The real culprits behind such a terrible thing are shrouded in darkness and mystery. As if Fairy Tail would do such a thing. But ‘course, y’all had to fix the blame onto someone, and ‘suppose you thought it well be Fairy Tail, huh? I got a thing ‘r two to say, ladies. Ain’t no one gonna shame my guild like that, ya hear? I ain’t gonna hurt you, and I won’t raise my voice. I won’t talk down to you like you do me. Ain’t nobody got time for that, ya see. Hate my guys, ain’t none of my shits will be granted to you. But I’ll be here to help and protect you when you need me. That was Fairy Tail’s purpose years ago and it still is.” He turned back to the window. “Now how bout y’all sit’on down? You’ll fall… or worse, the conductor will start fussin.” Ezra grinned a friendly grin as the women would silently return to the seat behind them, no longer gossiping.
It was an interesting morning, Ezra was sure about that as he would get off the train and to his destination, Rose Garden. He expected company, as this was not a “one man’s job.” It required a diverse skillset and group of wizards, according to the request. It was labeled as an S-class job, which shocked Ezra. He wondered if the class was decided based on paranoia, the client having only seeing the suspected characters only once, not once coming across their names or seeing them being belligerent. Their questions did pique some suspicious, and he feared that this job was really worthy of S-class ranking, he knew better. He knew these people would rather be safe than sorry.
Ezra asked around for the quiet “Thorn’s Bar” to meet his client and to meet with the other wizards. As he was directed by many people, he made way to the alleyway that harbored the bar. It was rather dark and discomforting, not a place he’d expect a bar to be. But regardless, he walked around until he came across an entrance.
The redhead twisted and turned the knob, but to no avail. It appeared to be locked. Puzzled, he knocked and waited. No answer. So, he knocked and knocked until someone finally answered. A man with a thick beard, short black hair, a bulky face, and a suit with a red tie cracked the door open to peer out of it.
“Who are you? We’re closed.” He gruffed.
Ezra smiled, “I’m a wizard checking in for a request sent by a guy who said to meet at this bar. I’m from Fairy Tail. Is that guy here? Is anyone here, for that matter?” He could tell that the place was as empty as a bottle.
The man investigated the redhead from head to toe, before closing the door and unlocking what seemed to be dozens of locks. “Come in, have a drink while we wait for the others.”
Awkwardly, Ezra opened the door and made himself at home. “Sorry ‘fer intruding…” He whispered as he crept inside, sat down at the counter as the man would shine his glasses.
“Like some vodka? Or are you a wine guy?” The man with a gravelly voice spoke calmly.
“Uh, neither, sir. I don’t drink my booze until late at night. Too damn early for that luxury, heh.” Ezra tapped the counter delicately.
“My kind of guy.” The man chuckled. “You can call me Mr. Thorn, sir.” Mr. Thorn offered. Ezra was thoroughly satisfied with his name. It was only fitting that a bar in Rose Garden was called Thorn's Bar, with the bartender being a man named Mr. Thorn. How delightful!
Ezra snickered gleefully, “Ah, what the hell? I'll have a shot of vodka, if you don't mind. I've been having a glum morning, anyway.”
“Coming right up, sir.” Mr. Thorn would go to quickly prepare the drink, leaving Ezra to his own devices as he waited.
The redhead noticed the unique atmosphere of the bar, a sweet smell of flowers and delightful portraits and paintings of landscapes hung on the walls. The tables were made of a crisp mahogany, and the only light source were scented wax candles. Ezra whistled as if cat calling a woman, attracted to the bar's attractiveness. “Well ain't this just the prettiest bar I've been to. I should come here more often.”
A small shot glass slid over to Ezra, filled with his requested vodka. Ezra lifted his head only to find Mr. Thorn with his back still turned, shining his glasses again. “Is that so? What a compliment.”
Ezra would whiff the vodka before drinking it all in one go. “Damn right. The bars in Magnolia ‘n stuff only know how to make their men drunk. The place is a dump, otherwise. Has no class.” The redhead blushed as the alcohol flushed his system, tapping the table for another.
Mr. Thorn headed over to the shot cup where he refilled it, looking down at Ezra. “That should be enough. But yes, Rose Garden is known for it's class… our aged wine, hard vodka, and tasty booze is famous for it's rich components.”
By the time Mr. Thorn was done speaking, Ezra had already finished his vodka, raising his hand to decline Mr. Thorn's offer for another.
“Yeah, sure right about that. And you say men have been wandering here for more than booze?” Ezra lazily retorted.
Mr. Thorn found himself pausing his cleaning, a dark shadow casting over his eyes. “Indeed. They're very shady characters, and I fear the worst for this town if I didn't call in some wizards or skilled Rune Knights. Of course, the Rune Knights thought nothing of it. They called me paranoid and crazy since being cooped up in this bar all the time. They're too lax, you know.”
Ezra would lean onto the counter, fiddling with his glass. “You really think it's worthy of being S-class, though? Could just be a couple of scandalous robbers, ya know. I'm not saying it's not, but ‘er request seemed so vague…” Ezra would ask in a quiet voice.
“It was more than that. I felt it in my gut. They were not ordinary thieves, there was bloodlust in their eyes. I could hardly stand to watch then drink my wine without kicking them out. I felt like…” Mr. Thorn paused and peered back to Ezra, “like they could kill me.”
Ezra swallowed his saliva, looking down at the wood counter. “I see. Well, always trust ‘er gut is what I always say. Rather be safe than sorry.” Ezra chuckled. “We can continue this when the others come. I'm curious to meet’em myself.”