Synopsis: As Lucy looks over the request board for a good job to take, Mirajane tells her to let her know when she picks out one, as Master is out at a meeting. Lucy asks about the meeting, and Mirajane explains by borrowing a Light Pen (which you can use to write in the air) from another mage - she explains that guild masters from all the different areas come together to report about their guilds. The ten council members, who are connected to the government, are at the top of the food chain. From there, guild masters (like Makarov) are next, and often meet to notify each other about council decisions, and how to express the news to their guilds.
Lucy says that she had no idea that the various guilds were connected like this, but Mirajane says those connections are important, as otherwise - Natsu then pops up behind Lucy and scares her by syaing that 'people from darkness will come for you.' Despite Natsu's teasings, Mirajane confirms that this is true in a way. When a guild doesn't belong to the league and refuses to follow the law, they're deemed a 'Dark Guild'. Natsu insists that Lucy pick out a job already so they can go, but Lucy says they're splitting up, since for the last mission they would have been taken any blonde girl. Natsu doesn't deny this, but says they chose her because she's a nice person, mollifying Lucy slightly. Gray and Loki pop in, the first saying that because she did such a great job last time she should get lots of offers, while the latter asks if she'd join his own team. Gray and Natsu then begin to bicker again - with Gray noticing that he's lost his clothes yet again - and Loki hits on Lucy more until he notices her keys. Realizing that she's a Stellar Spirit Mage, he says they're 'over' and runs off. Mirajane says that Loki isn't very good with Spirit mages, probably due to something in the past with another girl.
Loki runs back immediately, and tells them that Erza is back. Everyone freaks out, and Erza - a tall, red-headed woman in armor - walks in carrying a giant horn like it's nothing. She asks if Makarov is there, and then explains that the horn is a souvenir from a demon that she defeated. Erza then proceeds to chew everyone out for causing trouble for the guild, as Happy explains that Erza is extremely strong.
Erza turns to Natsu and Gray next, who are pretending to be good friends, and Mirajane explains that both of them are scared of Erza, especially Natsu who challenged her a while back and got beaten up. Erza says she's happy to see them however, because she needs their help with something she had wanted to discuss with Makarov. She doesn't take no for an answer, saying they'll leave with her the next day, and Mirajane shockingly hypothesizes that those three together may well be the strongest team in Fairy Tail.
Neither Natsu nor Gray want to go, and in an effort to get out of it, Natsu dresses Lucy in his clothes, saying she can pose as him, but she says that won't work.
At the Eisenwald Mage Guild, a group of mages discuss a gorgeous woman they saw before that they're unsure what guild she was from. Another man holding a large scythe asks if Kageyama is back yet, and another says that it's not an easy task to break "that" thing's seal, so they must be patient. The scythe man (revealed to be named Shinigami Eligor) says that they mustn't hesitate or they'll miss their chance. They must strike while all those 'geezers' are attending the meeting.
Thoughts: For some reason, I feel like there's not a whole lot going on in this chapter, but at the same time there's a lot of setting up for the next arc, which is always intriguing.
The 'Light Pen' that Mirajane uses is pretty cool, and I am enjoying seeing more magic items that I presume anyone can use. Or at least, they seem like something that anyone can buy potentially. It's not said for sure if the magic of the items is actually IN the items, or if it uses magic from within the user to work. Either way though, the pen is pretty cool, but I'd still rather have those speed-reading glasses from before.
I'm not sure I explained the way the Mages and their leagues worked very well before, so I'd like to take another try right here, basing my description more off of a chart on that page than the dialogue. Every guild is headed by a 'Master', and each Master seems to form a 'Province Guild Master League' with about four other Masters. Those Master Leagues discuss what the Mage Council House (which stands above them) decides for all of the guilds, and how they should enforce those rules in their own guilds. Above all of that still is the natural Government of the land. And below, or to the side perhaps, of all of this are the guilds that don't follow the letter of the law, and have been ex-communicated from the official guild listings and are considered 'Dark Guilds' who are ordered to break up - though usually they don't obviously.
So if you didn't understand how that all worked before, hopefully that was a little more clear.
It makes sense too that if these guilds do still exist, they would try to pick up members dropped from other guilds for not following the rules. And Lucy does crack a joke about how they'll come for Natsu eventually, but that just makes me think about Fairy Tail as a whole actually, given how Makarov doesn't seem to want to listen to the council...
Natsu's agreement that any blonde girl would have worked, but he chose Lucy because he likes her, is kind of a nice moment. It shows a lot of how Natsu doesn't really 'think' like normal people do, which would make sense. I mean, he was raised by a dragon after all. It kind of reminds me of Goku from Dragon Ball, though Natsu's not that bad off.
Once Gray and Loki show up though, the rest of the chapter is all about comedy intermixed with a setup for the next arc. I figure Mashima thought we'd need a bit of a break instead of jumping directly into the action again, and it does work pretty nicely. I especially liked getting to see more of Loki, since we probably won't be seeing him again in this arc. Gray however, it seems we'll be seeing a lot more of him in this arc. This should hopefully mean that we're going to see what kind of magic he has.
Speaking of Loki though, I do want to know what happened in the past to make him afraid of Stellar Spirit Mages. I also wonder if this will leave him never hitting on Lucy again, or if he'll constantly forget and try to hit on her anyway.
The main person I'm interested in from this chapter though is our newest character of Erza Scarlet. She's certainly a looker, but apparently you do NOT mess with her either, considering that even Natsu is utterly terrified of her. Having a female character be THAT badass in a shonen is a pretty nice change of pace too. Even in Naruto, Sakura never seems to be much of a contender despite her super strength, so hopefully that doesn't happen later on with Erza - though obviously Natsu will have to surpass her at some point or another.
I don't think anyone in the guilds have official rankings outside of the members all on one level, and then the master, but Erza definitely seems to hold some major sway over the guild when she's there, since she's able to chastise everyone and they can only shiver in fear.
With how much they build her up of course, I'm as excited as Mirajane is to see how strong she, Natsu, and Gray all are together, especially since Erza is the one that needs their help - this should prove incredibly interesting.
On a small note, I wanted to point out that there's a rather curious scar running along the side of Natsu's neck, that we only get to see after he's put his clothes onto Lucy. It doesn't draw any obvious attention to itself, but I did notice it there, so I can't help but think this is a seed of a future story point being laid out.
Finally, the first major hint of the next arc is put down with Shinigami Eligor's appearance, and his mention of something they need to get done while the Masters meeting is going on.
As for my predictions from last time, it seems I was wrong almost all the way across the board, as we didn't really get any more fighting, this isn't a one-and-done story, and while we did get a new mage in Erza, we haven't gotten to see what she can do yet. It's a lot harder to predict where things are going between arcs apparently. That said though, my predictions for the next chapter are pretty minimal. I think we'll get to see what Erza's up to that she needs Natsu and Gray's help. I think Lucy and Happy will tag along as well, just because. I think we'll see this 'Kageyama' guy that Eligor is waiting for. And I also think that we'll find out that this gorgeous woman the other Eisenwald mages are talking about is probably Erza - like I said, she's a looker for sure, and I have a feeling she's already run into these guys, hence her getting Natsu's help.
Oh, and as a teaser - the next chapter is titled 'Natsu Is On The Train'. This can't end well, but it should be hilarious.