In the small town of Maria, the citizens could all be seen walking around, enjoying their day as many could be seen doing their normal routines. Near the entrance of the city came a young purple haired girl with her hair down and no make-up on stopped as she looked at the piece of paper in her hand before looking back at the buildings.
"That package must be in the mayor's office, that's what the master told me..." She said to herself before stuffing the paper away and walking into the city.
As the young woman strolled through town, trying as best she could not to be noticed, a young man was running down the same sidewalk as she was. As he rounded the corner, not looking where he was going, he and the young woman collided. He stood up, rubbing his head, and extended his free hand to the woman, "Uh, sorry about that, lady," he said, half smiling.
The woman grabbed the guy's hand and was helped upward as she dusted herself off, "It's quite alright, thank you for the..." She was shocked to recognize the face of her old former guild-mate, Sting.
"Huh? Is there something wrong?" Sting asked, trying to get a better look at the woman as she pulled her hood lower, covering her face. As he drew closer so he could see her face, he detected a familiar smell and he realized just who he'd bumped in to. "M-Minerva?!" He asked in disbelief. This woman looked nothing like the boa-wearing, extravagantly dressed woman that used to be one of Sabertooth's strongest mages.
Minvera sighed as she put down her hood, looking over to Sting, "Hello there Sting, it's been some time hasn't it?" She said soflty looking at him.
Sting was speechless, except for the occasional "uh" or "um". He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Right when it seemed he'd gathered his thoughts however, a pink haired girl in a red cloak rounded the corner. "Aha! There you are!" she said to Sting, who tried to run passed Minerva and escape the girl, but before he couldn't get very far as he found himself on the ground with his head sandwiched between the sidewalk and the girl's foot.
"Sting! Are you okay?" Minerva said looking down at Sting as she helped him off the ground, "Do you know each other?".
"Yes, unfortunately," said Sting, as he got up, using the side of a building to support himself. "Minerva, this is our newest member, Patty Oscuro."
"Minerva?" Patty asked in confusion. She looked around, and finally locked on to the woman Sting had ran in to. "Her?!"
"I see my reputation still holds even after I left" She replied chuckling which made both of them look at her with shock.
"Y-you just laughed, without someone suffering. Who are you and what have you done with the real Minerva?!" said Sting as he pointed a confused finger at his former guild-mate.
"I hope you're not here to start trouble either, we have enough of that," warned Patty.
"Believe me, I'm just as surprised as you are to find that the guild was relocated here, but believe me, I'm not here to cause any sort of trouble, just here to pick up a package for my guild" She said as looking at them with an honest look, which made Sting look even more shocked, not only was this Minerva normal, but she actually seemed more friendly.
"Well, we should really be on our way. Nice meeting you and all, see ya," said Patty hastily as she pushed Sting toward the guild hall.
"W-wait Patty," said Sting, a bit confused. He formed a small huddle with Patty, with their backs turned to Minerva. Minerva couldn't hear most of it, but she caught a "Are you crazy?!" followed by a "Oh, come on." and finalized with "I'm Master, get over it." The two broke their huddle and quickly tip-toed back to Minerva. "After some consulting with my advisor," began Sting, "We've decided that if you want to come to our guild hall for a time, you may." Patty made a tiny snorting sound from hearing Sting talk like he was so important, which earned her an annoyed glare.
"Haha, I wouldn't want to impose, and I'm sure the guild doesn't want to see me at this moment" Minerva said as she looked at Patty who glared at her.
"Well, actually, there won't be that many people there to see you anyway," said Sting a bit solemnly as he rubbed the back of his head, putting on a fake smile.
Minerva could tell that Sting was lying, even if she hadn't seen him in years, she was still sharp as ever, and knew that something had happened since her departure from the guild, but decided against saying anything to make sure that nothing would cause any bad blood between them. "I see, well still, I don't want to impose".
Patty resumed her haste to get her Master away from this woman, "Yep, wouldn't wanna do that. I'm sure you have some important activities to do as well so we'll be going, bye." Then she proceeded to push Sting around the corner and toward the guild again. "what's the matter with you?!" she asked in a rage.
"I was just trying to help an old friend out!" said Sting angrily.
"Yeah, friend," Patty replied sarcastically.
Sting grew more solemn, "Patty, I'm just trying to run the guild as best I can. There are... certain members that just aren't ever gonna be around anymore, but Minerva was right there." Patty realized who he was talking about, his former partner, Lector, who'd been killed on a job recently. They walked the rest of the way to the guild in silence.
As they entered the guild, a man with a mask was reading looked up to see both the Guild-Master and Patty walking on, "Welcome back, I see from your expressions that something or someone has rubbed you the wrong way, the last memory I can recall that happening is...." He was about to say, but was stopped by Patty who threw a book on his head.
"Can it Rufupedia," she said rather shortly. She looked around at the empty guild hall. No one was there except herself, Rufus, and Sting. It was a bit sad really. Sting walked over to the round marble bar at the back wall of the building and sat down without a word. "We ran into an old... um, acquaintance while we were out," Patty explained.
"Hey, don't get mad at me, all I did was ask" He said getting up and rubbing his nose from the impact of the book as he looked over to Sting, who was at the bar grabbing a drink. "Which old acquaintance would that be? I have many on memory, which one did you encounter?" He asked while taking a sip from his drink to wait for Sting's answer.
"It was the Lady," was all that Sting gave as a reply.
"I see.... Tis such a twist of faith, did she attempt to make you bow down to her like before?" He replied scoffing as he took another sip of his drink.
"Actually, she seemed... changed. You wouldn't even recognize her if you had seen her. She acted so down to Earth and polite, like an entirely different person," said Sting, still amazed with his former guild-mate.
"Polite or not, I'm still not entirely sure bringing her here of all places would've been a good idea. We may be short on members, but I don't think she's the kind of member we need, even if she has changed," Patty grumbled.
"What did she say that she was here for exactly?" He said putting his book down and looking over to Patty.
"Well, at first she didn't want me to see her face," began Sting.
"Then she said she was in town on a mission," said Patty.
"So we can assume she's in some kind of guild," continued Sting.
"Maybe a Dark Guild," guessed Patty.
"Then, when I invited her here, she said she didn't want to impose, even when I said she wouldn't," said Sting.
"And then we all went on our marry ways," finished Patty. Rufus blinked, trying to process all the "memories" he'd just heard.
"It sounds to me like she doesn't want to bring up any bad blood, and if she was in a dark guild, I doubt she wouldn't have changed in anyway, there must be more to this" He said with a wondering tone, trying to figure out how exactly this would be.
"Well, either way, it's to late now," said Sting, finishing his drink, then he put on a jubilant grin, "Well, no use moping around, we might as well get back to work," he said encouragingly.
"Right!" replied Patty and Rufus in unison, happy to see their Guild Master feeling better.
The group had asked all over town, hoping that someone would've seen her, and after a while they were told that Minerva was heading to the revine to check out some strange disturbance. When they made their way there, the sounds of eruption could be felt, making them run as they looked down to see Minerva, in her normal attire, fighting against several bandit's while behind her were two kids, both of them hiding behind a sphere of energy that she made to protect them.
Patty floated down with her employment of Magnetism Magic, leaving Rufus and Sting to clumsily hop from ledge to ledge in an effort to get to the bottom... alive. As she was floating down, Patty noticed three bandits brandishing swords launch themselves at Minerva. "Not today!" cried Patty, and with a swift, mid-air, round-house kick a bolt of blue lighting shot from her foot and zapped down the three villains.
Minerva looked over as they saw that one eye was slashed on, dripping down onto the floor, "What are you three doing here?!" She said breathing heavily as she was only fighting with one arm to keep herself safe while she used the other to make sure the children were safe.
"Helping you, duh," said Patty as she came to the ground. Sting and Rufus must've said, "Screw it," as they had jumped off the cliff and landed clumsily next to the two girls and the children.
Minerva winced in pain as the left side of her face was bleeding, but she looked over to find the others standing right in front of her as the bandits roared out, asking why they had to interfere with this.
"Because we're your friends," replied Sting silently, without looking at her, and with that, the three Sabertooth mages surged forward. "Holy Blast," cried Sting as he threw a ball of white energy at the bandits.
"Memory-Make: Shrine of Turbulent Fang," said Rufus, and three powerful tempests were hurled at the Dark Mages.
"Thunder Fang," said Patty, as she launched a dozen lightning-imbued kunai knives at her opponents.
The bandit's all screamed in fear as they ran away, leaving the group to help Minerva as she let go of the sphere and fell to her knees, breathing heavily as the two kids went to see her.
"Are you okay?" They both asked, hugging Minerva as they were worried to see her in pain.
"I'm quite alright, it's not as bad as you think" She replied chuckiling.
"Minerva, let Rufus heal you," said Sting as the three mages ran to meet their protectees.
Rufus stood over Minerva and pressed his middle and forefingers to his temples, "Memory-Make: Healer's Holy Providence." Minerva began to feel a surge of energy enter her body. Her wounds were closing, even the blood from them was vaporizing.
Minerva attempted to stand up, but still felt weak in her body, despite Rufus's attempts to heal her, "Oh boy.... I think I might have taken a bit more than I originally thought" She said breathing heavily before being helped up by Sting and Rufus.
The two young men stepped back a little to see if she was any steadier. Unfortunately, Minerva wasn't, but before she could fall, Patty was there to support her. She looked at the pink haired girl in surprise. "Don't worry about it," replied Patty, "But I expect 30% of all profit." Minerva looked at her blankly before realizing this was Patty's attempt at being funny, so she smiled.
"Haha, well it's not really a profit pay, but I'm sure me making dinner might make us even" Minerva said with a smile on her face as the others laughed.
"I suppose," replied Patty before walking over to the two kids Minerva had been protecting, "Well kiddies, why don't we go home?" She put her hand on each of the children's heads and as she floated up with Minerva on her shoulder, so did they.
"Hey, what about us?!" Cried Sting and Rufus.
"Sorry boys, you know the rules, woman and children first," said Patty as she stuck her tongue out at her Guild Master and their friend.
Minerva sighed as she felt herself slowly falling asleep from the result of her using much of her own magic as it seemed to go on for months as she woke up to find herself lying in a familiar spot.
"Glad your awake," said Sting as he walked into the Sabertooth infirmary. He put a small cup of tea next to her bed, "It might taste a bit like a week-old-fish-and-dragon-fart smoothie, but Rufus insists it's good for you."
Minerva looked at the cup and drank from it, easily drinking it without a problem as she gave it back to Sting who looked at her with a comedic shock. "Believe me, I've had to take much worse at times, especially with what I do now" She said chuckling.
"Uh, yeah... about that, what is it that you do exactly?" Sting inquired sheepishly, getting a bit red in the face.
Minerve laughed inward as she looked outside the window before lifting her hair to show her new guild mark, "I joined a guild in another region called The Phantom Breakers, I work with the children there...." She said as it caused Sting to become pale as a ghost.
Minerva molding young impressionable minds?! Thought Sting as a wave of panic welled up in him. "And uh, what do these children um... well have you...?" he pulled at his collar, "Are you the disciplinary officer or something?"
Minvera laughed a while as she reached into her bag and grab a picture as she handed it to Sting, he was shocked at what he was looking at. It was Minerva in her normal attire she had when she was part of the guild, only the clothing was more for comfort. She was carrying a young baby as she and some of the other volunteer's were standing as the children were all around them, looking happy as many were hugging Minerva's legs.
"Yes, and I made them all my minions" She said in a joking tone.
"... Rufus, Patty you gotta see this!" said Sting urgently.
In a matter of seconds Rufus was at the door with Patty behind him, breathing heavily, "What happened?!" Sting got up and showed the picture to his friends. Patty's jaw dropped and Rufus' eyes bugged out of his mask when he looked at it.
"Haha, Am I really that different from when I left?" Minerva said chuckiling at their reaction.
"Well, you did hold some cat girl from Mermaid Heel hostage so Kagura and Erza would battle you, just so you could show everyone you were the strongest. Kinda psycho," replied Patty bluntly.
Sting was about to elbow Patty, but stopped when he saw Minerva gripping the photo tightly, "I know.... To be honest, I left the guild because I couldn't bare the shame of losing to anyone ever. I left the region a broken and hateful mess, but after finding the Breakers, I... I realized what Salamander meant, a guild is meant to care for one another, treat and share our feelings with each other in order to get stronger" She said before looking to Patty with a serious face. "You may hate me for what I did in the past, but I have changed for the better".
The entire time Minerva was explaining herself, Patty looked at her critically, but when Minerva had finished, Patty did something unexpected, she smiled at Minerva warmly, walked over to her bedside and sat on a stool. Then, she put her hand on the top of Minerva's head and patted it affectionately, "That's all you had to say. Don't think you have to be remembered for a terrible past that you can't change, just try your hardest to make a better future. That's something you can change."
Minerva smiled as she took Patty's hand, holding it with her own, "That's something I do nearly every day with those kids, making sure they have a future."
Sting and Rufus were astounded by this complete change in attitude for Minerva, though they remembered how she was when she first came to the guild. They smiled pleasantly at the two girls from the doorway.
However, the moment suddenly dropped when the sounds of a stomach growling emerged as Minerva looked at them, blushing greatly as she chuckled nervously, "I suppose I did more than just spend a few magic energy on protecting it seems".
Patty, Sting, and Rufus began laughing, until they were interrupted by another growl emanating from Patty's stomach, which made them laugh even harder. "Well, I guess we could all use some food," chuckled Sting. He led everyone downstairs, where a banquet had been prepared. The four mages gathered around the table and began eating. "Better eat fast, Patty'll have it all gone soon," Sting whispered to Minerva, who giggled a little before glancing over to Patty and realizing it was no joke, the petite girl had already finished two plates and was going for a third.
"Trust me, there has been worse where I come from, especially since our guild master is considered to be a glutton" She said eating at her own pace.
"Are you callin' me a glutton?" asked Patty scornfully through a mouthful of fish, potatoes, and carrots.
Minerva handed Patty a napkin as she swallowed and wiped, "Let's just say you and he share a love for food" She said laughing as the others laughed as well. Patty skulked behind her ever-growing mountain of plates in response. Normally she'd flip out on anyone who joked about her appetite, but she was feeling gracious seeing as Minerva was hurt.
"Though the two of you share a kind spirit, one that shows commitment and dedication to the guild, it was because of that spirit that I was able to change for the better" Minerva said as she wiped her mouth and proceeded to grab a drink of water.
Patty didn't seem to hear Minerva however. She was already back to stuffing her face. "Uh, don't let her get to you, she's just a- well she's a loon honestly," said Sting to Minerva, "But she's the best thing that's happened to this guild since the Grand Magic Games."
"I'm glad to hear everything is going great with the group" Minerva said as she finished her food and looked at Sting, "I've noticed some people are missing, What happened to Rogue?" She said with a curious tone.
"After the Grand Magic Games, Rogue thought the best way to stop himself from becoming like his future version was to keep ourselves separate from each other. That way, even if Frosch were to die, we'd be to far apart for him to take any immediate action and try to steal my White Dragon Slayer Magic. He's been with Crime Sorciere ever since, and Orga went with him to keep an eye on him." Replied Sting.
"I see, I have been out of touch for quite some time" She said looking over to Sting, "What about Yukino? I don't remember much about what happened to her."
"Yukino is still loosely affiliated with us, but after the whole dispute about whose guild she would join, she decided to become a messenger and ambassador to all of Fiore's strongest legal guilds, as well as create a task force to take down Legal Guilds that break the rules like Raven Tail and Twilight Ogre."
"Wow, she took the initiative it seems" She said looking out to see that the sun was setting, "In any case, thank you for everything, but I must turn into a hotel for the night, tomorrow I need to take care of the mission I was given" Minerva said standing up, but still feeling the pain from the battle.
"Uh, ya know, you could just stay here the night," offered Sting, "Patty can show you to the girls dorm."
Minerva looked over to see Patty finishing her meal as she nodded and motioned her to follow her to the dorms.
"Are you sure that's safe? Trusting her?" asked Rufus once the two girls were out of earshot.
"I don't know, Minerva may have been terrible in the past, but she seems sincere enough for me. Besides, Patty can take care of herself," replied Sting.
"Patty's not the one I'm worried about." Then the two friends laughed.
Patty lead Minerva to an empty room as she thanked her and entered, going to sit on the bed as she dug through her bag and pulled out the picture frame, putting it on her night stand as she looked out into the night. "This is dangerous, especially since I've caught up with my old guild, I must hurry and find the package..." She said to herself as she took off her clothes before getting into her sleeping atire and lying down to dream....
Next Chapter: Dread Tread: Unknown Affiliation