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Grand Conspiracy Arc

Let the Games Begin!

Crocus, Fiore, X1000

“Get back here, asshole!”

Two young men raced like dogs down the crowded, cobblestone streets of Crocus, one chasing after the other, shouting and cussing all along the way. Onlookers gasped in both disgust and annoyance, this wasn’t the time for this.

“He stole my ticket!”

The thief did not bother to reply only threw up a middle finger with his free hand as he continued to weave his way through the waves of people. It wasn’t every day he could snatch such a valuable prize. A premium ticket not even an hour before the games began could fetch a lovely price, especially on this very special tournament.

Down the street, police had caught wind with bystanders pointing in the direction of the wild chase and the authorities trailed as best they could. But, the two seemed almost out of sight as they came upon a corner.

“Cya, dumbass,” the thief laughed as he picked up the pace and made his move to spring around the corner. As he turned, the thief saw something coming at his face. In what seemed like the longest of seconds, he realized what was coming at him, but it was too late....

“Ah, shit.”

The man was flung on his back, knocked out cold from the sheer impact of the blow. Bystanders began to crowd around as the man laid, with x’s for eyes and a stream of blood flowing down the side of his mouth, flat out on the ground. His pursuer crouch down to snatch his stolen ticket from the man’s open hand and looked up with a grin.

“Thanks, man,” he said, “but, what’s that arm of yours made of, steel?”

“Next time, watch your belongings more closely.”

Kane Vista sighed; it was always around this time that folks were most vulnerable. Scalpers were always a relentless bunch, but today was an especially good time for their business. That meant he was stuck on constant patrol until the opening ceremony, what a drag. He turned to the sound of boots mashing his way to find the police as they usually were, late.

“We’ll take him,” one of the policeman said, twirling a pair of handcuffs on his finger. “However, next time, sir, something less violent would have been better. We’ll have to take him to be checked by our medical team.”

“Less violent,” Kane rolled his eyes, “You know what, just forget it. I’m with the council and have duties, if that’s all, I’ll be going now.” The crowd began to disperse as Kane turned to be on his way.

“You one of them Rune Knights stationed here for tournament security, kid?”

Kane smirked, “Something like that.”

The two policemen looked at each other with a shrug.

“The festivities should be starting about now,” Kane said to himself, “I’d hate to miss them.”

Clash of the Strongest

“Are you ready to rumble?!”

The crowd roared as excitement flooded the sea of spectators across the colossal arena. What was once an arena of tens of thousands was now filled to the brim with some one hundred thousand men, women, and children. The air was electric as the screams, cheers and hollers bounced about—Fairy Tail, Lamia Scale, Blue Pegasus, Angel Wing, all the greatest guilds’ fans were out in full force lobbying the crowd to cheer on your champions.

Every guild, legendary and upstart, heard their names met with praises as they arrived with their teams in the arena, flags of their guilds hanging high. At the center of the arena’s ground level, at the center of all the action on top of a small, floating stage was the one and only master of ceremonies, the famed announcer, the voice of magic sportsmanship—Buck Daniels. Clad in the finest of black suits with a cordless microphone in hand, he soaked in all the glory. He had become a veteran in these things, a true giant amongst announcers and commentators.

“Welcome one and all to the first Grand Magic Games of the new millennium, to the gathering of the strongest across the continent of Ishgar!” He bellowed, with a thumb up shot up to the sky. Kane smiled as he took it all in seated in the nosebleed section of the arena, the joys of being tasked with security detail. A volley of sounds, of cheers, hollers, horns, and drums rang into his ears and he loved it. There was always a tingle he got through his spine whenever the festivities opened, had been that way since he was little.

“You seem to be enjoying yourself.”

Kane looked up to see a red-headed, young man, complete with a mocking smirk, staring down at him. He nodded at the empty seat next to him, “I saved you a seat, Eden.”

“Much appreciated,” Eden said, flopping down into the arena bench, “You could have picked some better locale though.”

“Sacrifices for the greater good as they say,” Kane laughed, “But, anyway, you know I love these things. It’s probably the only regret I have in joining the council; I don’t get a chance to take part in the biggest tourney on the damn continent.”

Eden ran a hand through his spiky, red hair, “Everyone knows guild mages get all the glory.”

“I’ve wanted to ask you,” Kane said, keeping his eyes on the arena floor as famous and powerful mages soaked in the crowd’s praises, “Wasn’t Jaime supposed to have checked in with us this morning? There’s only about four of us in all of Crocus, and lord knows these entry level rune knights can’t be trusted to handle things without proper guidance.”

“We’re on our own, Jaime was kept at Nova Era, what with all that’s happening in the east,” Eden answered, crossing his arms. “The top brass want as many elites at the headquarters as possible.”

“Oh yeah, that mess over at Altara, that crap almost overshadowed the damn tournament,” Kane said with a frown.

“Indeed, most of the council’s finest are dealing with it head on. With the majority of our primary forces engaged there, having someone of Jaime’s caliber at the HQ is a more of a miracle than anything else,” Eden said with a nod. “It’s a tactical move; one would expect nothing less of that man.”

“Thanks for clearing that up,” Kane replied, grinning.

“That being said, there’s still no word on the disappearances,” Eden said, turning to his partner in crime.

Kane sighed, “Care to think happy thoughts, at least for this?”

“I always do, how else would we have pulled all those pranks back during our academy days?” Eden smirked, drawing an even wider grin from his companion. “But, I don’t do it while ignoring stuff like this, one can do both.”

“Fair enough,” Kane said, glancing towards his friend, “It is something of an anomaly. But, given our line of work, such things still aren’t out of the...."

“It’s not just strange, it’s an obscene rarity. Death would be one thing, but for a handful of rangers over the past year to disappear without a trace is absurd,” Eden said. “Intelligence hasn’t been very public about their probes into this stuff, but it’s just something to stay abreast of in my opinion. These aren’t your average mages; I’m surprised you’re not interested in this at all, you of all people.”

“Altara, missing rangers, things can never not go wrong in this world. Seems like the one guiding, universal principle of life is that things must somehow go to shit,” Kane said, shaking his head.

“Look at you being all philosophical,” Eden said, “We’ll call that one: Kane’s Law.”

Kane laughed, “Not a bad idea.”

As the two carried on, Kane caught a rather odd figure in his field of vision. A few levels down, walking careful down a crowded aisle was a woman in a hooded, navy cloak. Not the most inconspicuous look he had ever seen, the slender figure showing through the cloak as it draped about the wearer's body was seemingly that of a woman. He couldn’t put a finger on it, but something drew him to the figure, a strange aura would be the best way to describe it.

At this point, even Eden was lost in the festivities, but even with all the commotion, the young man’s eyes remained locked what was probably a woman out of place. “I’ll be keeping an eye on you,” Kane pondered.

“Remember that we have rounds to make tonight across the city,” Eden said, snapping his companion out of his train of thought.

Kane nodded, “I intend to.

End.

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