This article, A Nation On Its' Toes, is property of Zicoihno.

A week has passed as tensions build. News of the war sweeps the Kingdom of Fiore, as people gear up for the worst. Guilds have been calling back members or taking on protection jobs. In this time, Sanjo has made it back to his home to find out what's going on and not alone.

What to Expect

"So that's that then? We're about to go to war?" Sanjo asked, stroking his chin. "Pretty much, bro." Shisuke replied. They were in Sanjo's living room at the moment. Sanjo leaned back in his seat. It was quite alot to take in all at once. The magic council members had refused to tell them the whole story on their way back for reasons unknown to him. Luckily, his adopted brother was awaiting his return at his house.

"Well, damn, alot of crap is happening these days. I guess Dad's been busy, huh?" He asked. Shisuke nodded in agreement. With that, Sanjo jumped out of his seat. "That's one mystery down, now...." Sanjo turned towards the direction of the kitchen. "....why the hell is everyone living in my house!!" At that same moment, Richard had waltzed out of the kitchen towards Sanjo, munching on a pastry.

Sanjo sweat-dropped at the sight of Richard just dodging the question. Richard raised his finger at Sanjo, "Man, you need to eat some of the cheese pastries Lana made. They're great, and even Zeo helped....that was kind of weird for me." He remarked as he got back to his snack. Shisuke chuckled at his brother's confusion. "Well, I'm off, Sanjo-nii." Shisuke took off.

Sanjo turned his attention back to his friend who was stuffing his face. "Enjoying yourself" He asked. Richard sighed, "I know you have a cook, but you gotta get used to her cooking at some point. Hell, she's cooks better then your cook, man." The words earned an arched eyebrow from Sanjo. "Why is that?" Sanjo retorted. His friend rolled his eyes, "Whatever, you're both in denial. Anyway, all this war talk is bothering me, you know?"

Sanjo took a seat once more. "Same. From what I've heard they've yet to explicitly state how Fiore sparked this tension. I figure that's what my dad has in mind as well; isn't buying it.. This kingdom is in a bad situation, the world of magic is at a standstill as a huge war could erupt. As a Wizard Saint, I have the duty to help protect Fiore in times of trouble, and even more so since I'm a Vista and love this land." Sanjo rubbed his temples, as he thought on what to do.

"But I'm sure you'll know when it's time, right?" A female voice said. Sanjo and Richard turned to see Lana walking towards them. She was in casual clothes, with the apron she borrowed still on; a plate in hand. "You seem unnaturally happy today, Ice Princess. " Sanjo taunted. Rolling her eyes, put the plate in front of his face. "What is it?" Sanjo asked. "Zeo helped and liked them, Richard liked them, your butler Jeeves liked them. Now your ass better try them." Lana commanded.

Not exactly how he pictured his first days back in Fiore in a while.

After being force fed Lana's pastries, and having to admit they were good, Sanjo and co took the conversation to his office area. Sanjo office was very large, lined with shelves filled with spell books and history books. The whole back was was one big window that had a door to a balcony. Ironically, he didn't use it that much despite it's impressive design.

Gathered around the desk, it was time to talk about "current events". Lana crossed her arms across her chest, the new outfit she had gotten, while more free in movement, was weird to get used to. But she realized conservative clothing did her no good in combat. She figured she'd start it off with what's on everyone's minds.

"I'm pretty sure all of us aren't finding the cause to all this war tension to be legitimate. But either way, there's a chance bloodshed could begin in a matter of days." Lana said, looking at her comrades' face. Sanjo sighed, "No doubt that's true, and the enemies don't seem to be budging either." Sanjo looked around for a moment. " Well, guys, I'm sure you know what I'm thinking." He finished.

Richard smirked at the statement. He knew Sanjo well and their latest advetures have only strengthened that intuition. " Yea, yea, another task is on our hands." Richard remarked. A slight smile crossed Lana's face. "Does the phrase 'here we go again' ring a bell?" With that, Sanjo turned his attention to Zeo. The latter shrugged in agreement. "Long as I can still look into that, I'm fine, Golden Lion." He replied.

Sanjo smiled and laughed a bit. "That's nice to know and of course," Sanjo stretched his arms for a moment, " I'm just no sure where to start." They were interrupted by the sound of the door opening. Everyone turned to see Jeeves walking towards them. "Actually, sir, I think I know where you should go. The heart of our nation, to your old friend." Jeeves stated, as he laid a map on the desk.

"I can always count on old man Jeeves for advice, but...." Sanjo raised an eyebrow."....heart of the nation? Old friend? " Sanjo was trying to figure out what he meant. Suddenly it clicked in Lana. "He means the capital, but I don't know the other part. " Lana remarked. Sanjo exhaled softly, he got it now, and it made sense. "To the captial and go see Joseph, right? " Sanjo said, raising a hand at Jeeves.

The old butler smiled and nodded in agreement. "Like the prince?" Richard asked. " You know the prince of Fiore, personally, Sanjo? " Sanjo nodded, "I'm a Vista, remember. Joseph and I go way back anyhow. I guess that's that, let's make way to the capital." Sanjo suggested.

All in agreement, they all found their way to the dining room for dinner. But something was bothering Zeo, though he, himself, couldn't put his finger on it.

Things Are About to Get Fun?

Magnolia town had been tense as of late. Not too long ago, dozens of the Council's troops marched in and warned of the war; also brought Makarov and the rest of Fairy Tail up to speed on the situation. Calling all mages back from jobs, Makarov decided that it'd be best for everyone to stay put. With that decided, Gildarts had taken it upon himself to keep everyone in high spirits. But not everyone was happy sitting around.

"War this, war that!" Natsu muttered to himself, trudging through town back to the guild. "Goddamit, the old man just had to shut all the jobs down. Boring!" True is, ever since the Olympic Code incident, Natsu and the rest hadn't done anything interesting in a while. "Natsu, war isn't simple. Remember what Master said." Happy interrupted. They walked past the many people moving packages here and there. Seems people were stalking up for this impending war.

"Happy, you're just as nervous as the rest. I'm telling you, the old man didn't have to call us all back...." Natsu trailed off as he entered the guild. Vijeeter was trying out a new dance, and it wasn't really going well. Shaking his head, Natsu made his way over to Lucy and Siata-- who were currently going over the latest Sorcerer Magazine.

Lucy looked up to see the approaching dragon slayer. "Oh, Natsu...." Lucy took a good look at him for a moment." alright?" She asked. Natsu sighed, " I am so bored, we shouldn't cooped up here. I mean, everyone is all serious. Erza won't even fight me." He moaned in annoyance. Happy landed on the table, "Natsu's just being a sour piece." Happy said, paw up in emphasis. "You mean sour puss, Happy." Siata corrected him, chuckling.

Siata pointed at Natsu. "You gotta learn how to control your boredom though, Natsu. This is good for you." Suddenly Gajeel and Levy passed by. "You're one to talk about that." Gajeel said in a snarky manner. Siata whipped around to unleash a counter but Gajeel and Levy just kept walking. Siata rolled her eyes, "He'll be sorry when I tell Levy what he said....oh I can't wait." Siata remarked deviously.

"Whatever!" Natsu exclaimed, stretching. He figured he might as well deal with it and relax. Turning his attention back to the group, he figured he'd have some funny with Lucy, Happy, and Siata.

Makarov exhaled softly, He was at his usual spot on the bar, a half-full drink next to him. "Looks like that will have to wait...again." He thought. The Master's mind was on the piece of info Sanjo gave him on Ivan some months ago. Though with recent events over that time. he hasn't gotten a real chance to look into things. His son was an issue, a deadly one, but there were other things to focus on.

Lucy and Siata strummed through the magazine. They passed by a double page interview with Laxus, but skipped it on request of Natsu. Just news on popular mages here and there, good and sometimes bad. Siata wondered what it would be like to be featured in a magazine; on the front cover. The thought just made her day dream.

Erza walked up from behind and tapped Natsu and Lucy on shoulders. "Eh, Erza? What is it?" Natsu complained. Erza sighed and let the rude reaction go, "Master wants to talk to us," She pointed over to Makarov, Gray was already standing near him. They shrugged and followed Erza over to Makarov.

He cleared his throat. "Alright, now that you're all here, we can get to business. Even though Fiore is in a war situation, I have mission for you. It's my own request, might I add." Makarov's words shocked the 4 mages and Happy. Erza was about to speak up, but Makarov motioned her to stay silent for a moment. "Things about to get fun." Natsu remarked with a smirk on his face.

"There is somewhere I need you all to go."

Setting Out

If there was one thing more annoying then walking for hours, it was that same act under the blazing sun at noon. As a result, Xena would hear no end to Alia's whining. But who could blame her? It was hot as hell outside, and neither the young Commander or Captain could stand it. But orders were orders, and Raimo had told them to get their location without an airship.

"Damn, just damn.....what's wrong with that old man?!" Alia cried. Having sensitive skin and no sunscreen in this weather was a horrible idea now that she thought about it. And what made it worse was the small fact that she had no idea where they were headed. "Xena, where the hell are we even heading for?" She asked, groaning in agony. The woman shook her head. "Raimo told me not to disclose that to you, actually."

Xena swore she could hear the vein pop on Alia's forehead. "Are you kidding me? Sweet mother of....." She stopped her self there. "You know what, no, I'll stop before I get even more mad. " Xena smirked, whenever Alia was severely pissed she turned into a different person almost-- it was hilarious, at least to Xena. The latter was keeping ahead of Alia, her senses on high alert.

"The old man said this was a damned important mission, so no funny business, Alia." Xena remarked, peering over her shoulder towards a still pissed Alia. "Humph." Alia crossed her arms across her chest as they continued on their way. Alia was still a bit confused on how this situation was playing out. Their enemies wouldn't even consider the messengers sent. But they had got word that a meeting was set up between the rulers of each country....about damn time in Alia's honest opinion.

Similar thoughts in mind, Xena was wondering how the situation on the frontlines were. Had she still been at HQ, she maybe could of pestered Raimo to letting her join up with Giotto. She chuckled at the thought, she probably wouldn't get to with how stubborn he could be. She looked over at Alia who had calmed down. "Do you know where Milena was off to?"

Alia shrugged at the question. "Don't look at me, " she replied, outstretching her arms, " she didn't say. But she was in a hurry, so it must of been urgent." Alia added. They were approaching a cliff. Alia looked around, "Eh, what the hell route did we take?" As they reached the end of it, it all made sense to Alia suddenly.

"OH! So that's where we're going. Makes sense." She said to herself. Alia turned back to Xena, "Doesn't mean you had to keep it a secret. Order or not." She remarked. Xena laughed. "Meh, Raimo never said to. I just did it for funsies, kid." She continued to laugh. Alia let it go, it seems things were coming to together now.

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