The fictional world of Earth-land (アースランド Āsu Rando?) is populated by wizards who coalesce into guilds to hone their magical abilities and apply them to paid job requests. Seventeen-year-old wizard Lucy Heartfilia runs away from home to join Fairy Tail, a wizards’ guild famous for its members’ overly destructive antics. She is invited into the guild by Natsu Dragneel, a wizard with dragon-like abilities who travels the kingdom of Fiore (フィオーレ王国 Fiōre Ōkoku) in search of his missing foster father, the dragon Igneel. Lucy forms a team with Natsu and his cat-like companion Happy, later to be joined by ice wizard Gray Fullbuster and armored wizard Erza Scarlet. The five embark on numerous guild missions, which include subjugating criminals, illegal dark guilds, and ancient Etherious (エーテリアス Ēteriasu) demons created by the dark wizard Zeref.
Several of Fairy Tail’s members encounter the immortal Zeref on the guild’s sacred ground of Sirius Island (天狼島 Tenrō-jima). A conflict between Fairy Tail and the dark guild Grimoire Heart ensues over Zeref, which draws the attention of the evil black dragon Acnologia. The Fairy Tail wizards survive Acnologia’s assault when the spirit of Mavis Vermillion puts them into seven years of suspended animation with her defensive spell. Deciding to eradicate humanity for summoning Acnologia, Zeref organizes a battle between Fairy Tail and Tartaros, a dark guild of Etherious demons who aim to unseal Zeref’s ultimate demon, E.N.D. Acnologia returns to annihilate both guilds, but is stopped when Igneel emerges to battle him, revealed to have sealed himself within Natsu. The wizards defeat Tartaros while Igneel is killed by Acnologia, whom Natsu vows to defeat and avenge Igneel’s death.
Natsu returns from a year-long training journey to find that Fairy Tail’s master Makarov Dreyar has been staving off an invasion by the Albareth Empire, a military nation ruled by Zeref. During their battle with Zeref’s army, Natsu discovers his origins as Zeref’s deceased younger brother, whom the dark wizard reincarnated as E.N.D. out of a desire to end his own cursed immortality.