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This article, The Bird and the Beast, is property of DazzlingEmerald.

This article, The Bird and the Beast, is property of Highestbounty123.

Quite Before the Storm

The night was young, the world was still. A page was turned, a grin was forged. In roost upon this throne was the nobleman --the one commended as The Prince; a drink in his offhand, he held with his other an adult magazine, one flustered with photos of lush women. His leg crossed over the other, he brought his cup towards his lip to have some more of the cherry liquor, a most suited color, almost as a tribute to the girl in the image. A tingling sensation took over him next, and an all too familiar smug expression appeared across his face. Setting the fine text upon his lap, he ran a single stroke through his hair, before reaching in through his shirt collar to tickle his chest hairs. More or less, this was a casual evening for Cuda. Time to himself was scarce, so he often made the best of it, by doing what he enjoyed most --peering at naked women. It seemed as though those fairies were as scrumptious as ever; oh how he contemplated transferring guilds so as to be with them! The room in which he was situated was scorched with intricate designs. The walls filled with his shirtless portraits, each individual piece of furniture adorned with ancient ornaments, and yet, this was only a spare room, one he had created merely out of boredom only a week prior. His entire mansion may very well have covered a total of five acres, though it was meaningless, seeing as though he lived alone, without the assistance of a butler or any such attendant to maintain it. As the grandfather clock beside him ticked away, Cuda yawned. Perhaps it would be time for bed soon enough. Perhaps.

"Right, you remember the plan?" A young man, practically a child, hid among the bushes on top of a hill, watching over the mansion from his hidey hole, his brown coat's hood shadowing his face, with a wooden staff on his back. Next to him stood a tall, muscular and heavily bandaged man with black hair. He was practically a mummy, if it weren't for his lower half being the body and legs of a giraffe, if one were to judge the color and pattern.

The man, King Chiron, sighed "You're just going to storm in? Really? You're not exactly the most strategic man alive, but still." Chiron berated his friend's "plan", his target was a Saint after all. "I mean, you've seen his popularity. Popular Saints are like Gods. The more fans means more power. Like prayers to a God.".

"Yeah, sure, great." Lancelot stood up, cracking his neck "On the count of three, I'll storm in, you seal the area, and we'll get one million Jewels before tomorrow's sale.".

"You are so cheap." Chiron snarked, crossing his arms.

"Can't hear you." Suddenly, a small burst of electric aura surrounded Lancelot's being, as his hair turned white and longer, his hands became claws, and he grew a tail. He clenched his staff inbetween his teeth, the wooden visage vanishing and revealing a metal staff instead "Lancelot Rocket 2.0 is a-go!".

Chiron grunted, being so close to striking Lancelot on the upside of his head "It'll take approximately 10 to 20 seconds to form the arena, I hope you don't let him escape.".

"I won't." Bending his knees and lowering his body, Lancelot shoot forth like a bullet at the speed of light towards the mansion. Before five seconds would pass, Lancelot already broke through the window, crashing into Cuda's room, scorching the very nice carpet he had, leaving a hole where his feet struck. He stood up, grabbing his staff from his mouth, pointing it at Cuda, as tremors surrounded the area "Hi." Lancelot casually said to his target.

Without looking up from the magazine, Cuda offered his guest a subtle greeting. "Oi." It was truly strange; the man appeared to be unfazed by the fact that Lancelot had just now broken into his house. He appeared calm, even relaxed, as if nothing strange had occurred to begin with. Cradling his glass of cherry liquor, he brought it toward his lips for a series of small sips, all the while keeping his eyes fixated upon Erza's lush rear end.

"...Alrighty then." Lancelot calmly set his staff on his shoulder, looking outside the window, seeing and hearing the servants and other employers of the area abandoning the mansion and running away.

"You owe me 55% for this." Chiron said to himself, raising his arms up, commanding the earth to rise, as four large walls of stone rose up, completely blocking anyone from going in or out, unless they could fly. "Right...time to play the waiting game." Chiron crossed his arms, observing from his spot.

"So...kinda got your mansion surrounded by four giant walls of stone." Lancelot said to Cuda, coughing to clear his throat, and pointing his staff at the man "You uhh...wanna do somethin' 'bout that?".

Interrupted, Cuda was forced to look up from the magazine once more. "Stone walls? What in the world are you talking about?" Rising from his chair, he walked some few steps until he reached a window. He looked around, turning toward Lancelot after doing so. "I don't see any stone walls," he said, moving aside to allow Lancelot some space to look through the very same window. Upon doing so, Lancelot would have been exposed to the truth; that the walls were no longer there! But how? He could have sworn he had seen them with his own two eyes; no, he was more than merely certain. This "Cuda" must have done something about them, and was now behaving in an aloof manner.

"Sheesh, kids these days. They'll say anything to get a grown-up's attention." Cuda was, of course, referencing Lancelot's small stature, and the fact that his physical appearance was reminiscent of that of a little boy. Walking back to his seat, Cuda groaned, "what a waste of time." Regaining his previous posture, he shook his head, before looking back up toward his visitor. "Hey, kid, I have some toys you could play with in the room next door. Do me a favor and leave me to this, alright? It's not exactly suited for minors, and you're guilting me by just being in here." He shielded the magazine filled with naked women from Lancelot's eyes with his own body, turning slightly in his seat.

"...Alrighty then." Lancelot concentrated his magic onto his body, as his stature and body began to grow. Within seconds, his body became that of a young adult "Eon Trace." Lancelot said, as he used his other magic, Changing Magic, to change his attire to a chinese-style battle attire "If you won't take me seriously then. I'll start things up." Lancelot gathered lightning in his arm, before extending it forth, sending a bolt of lightning at Cuda "And I'm older than you, by the way.".

The lightning struck quicker than Cuda had anticipated. Within the blink of an eye, his beloved magazine had been caught within the crossfire, and as he leapt to move out of the way, lay in a pile of incinerated dust over the marble floor. He got down onto his knees, clenching his eyes. Gathering whatever was left of the magazine into his hands, he faced the ceiling and weeped out loud. "Erza-chan, no!!"

Manly tears rolled down his cheeks, and he brought the black powder closer to his chest. "Speak to me, Erza-chan! Can you hear me?" There was, of course, no answer. It was quite apparent by now that this man was delusional... at the very least. Sniffing hard, he wiped at his tears and arose gently from his grief. He blinked hard at the now fully grown adult standing some few feet before him. "Where did that little kid go?"

"...Riiiiiight." Lancelot coughed, clearing his throat, and pointed his staff at Cuda "Gonna try this again. Hi. I'm Lancelot Verne. Nice to meet you, Cuda, Mr. Saintly Saint of McSaint St. Street. Long story short; if I get you, dead or alive, either or, I get one million Jewels as reward. So...yeah." Lancelot finished his explanation.

Chiron, in the meantime, calmly sat and read a random book he picked up earlier "I never knew the human body was so versatile in the art of flexibility." He didn't even bother checking on Lance.

"Only one million?" Cuda frowned. He remembered another Mage in the past having a bounty at least twice that of his. "That's quite disappointing." He presented an open hand forward, and within the blink of an eye, a valuable antique was forged from thin air. "Even this is much more than a million jewels!" Clenching the hand into a fist, he smashed the ornament into several pieces, causing bits of glass to spill over the marble floor.

"If it was the money you were after, all you had to do was simply ask me, really. But now, I'm feeling very disrespected. Please, do tell me the name of the organization that assigned this reward to you in return for my head; I'd like to give them a piece of my mind --after I've given you your share, for having agreed to such a preposterous assignment, that is." He snapped his fingers, and in the next instant, every inch of the mansion was covered with armed explosives, set to detonate within the next passing second; just one of these possessed enough power to decimate an entire village, so there was really no telling what sort of effect thousands of them were going to have now.

Touching the base of his thumb to his index finger, Cuda prepared to snap his fingers. "I will give you this one final opportunity to forfeit now and return to wherever it is you came from. Tell your people you failed, and most importantly, have them reassess my bounty. If not," he nodded, showing his finger tips were at the ready, "then it's lights out for you."

"Hmm..." Lancelot looked around, seeing the explosives "I don't recall a magic creating bombs that way...Requip doesn't quite fit the bill either, since they perfectly materialized on the walls...Hmm...There are only two other options, either he has a specific magic made for blowing things up, or..." Lancelot coughed, putting a big shit eating grin "Well, to be honest, the guy who issued this had some friends, all hooded. They showed me the money just so I'd know I'm not being fooled. Buuut...Yeah. Actually, screw that, I'm not telling." Lancelot bent his knees, as if he's ready to sprint at Cuda "I always wanted to see if a Saint lives up to his title. In all the 100 years I've lived, I've never once had the chance, or reason, to fight one." With that said, Lancelot's aura sparked, lightning enveloping him even more, as if he was charging himself with power, ready for his next move.

"Suit yourself." Cuda snapped his fingers, causing the entire mansion to erupt into a massive torrent of detonations, all triggered at the very same time. He himself appeared to have been caught within the vicinity of the blast --all that was left thereafter was a gargantuan crater that sat in place of his beloved home-- until he safely appeared some distance away from it all, hardly scathed. Relaying the last sequence in his mind, he had escaped the blast radius by "freezing" time, which had allowed him to move about within the blink of an eye. However, whether or not his opponent had survived was yet to be seen; looking over some the side of a cliff over a mile into the distance, Cuda lit himself a thick cigar, before taking his first puff.

At the sky, however, a light twinkled, like a star. And soon came charging back down. It was Lancelot, rocketing towards Cuda like a missile. The moment Cuda's fingers connecting, moments before snapping, he bolted, using his lightning speed given to him by his Thunder Devil Slayer Magic, and being in the minor Devil Sync state only augmented that power. Within seconds, he was high in the sky, avoiding the explosion's completely, with the price of burning some magic for the escape, as well as crashing through four ceiling replaced with explosives, causing most of his upper body to be damaged by the explosion he forced. His entire upperbody was battered and burnt from the explosion, but it's nothing to hinder him too much. The lightning stimulant going through his body is what kept him going.

With another burst of magic power, he flew right at Cuda, coated in lightning, with his staff pointed forth, functioning as the tip for his "Lancelot Rocket". At the speed he was travelling, he would reach Cuda in a matter of 5 seconds or so, but the impact is what matters, initiating a wave of lightning tearing apart anything in close vicinity. Lancelot was basically a leginimate missile about to explode.

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