RWBY-The Journeys of Lan

Chapter 4

Ch 4, The Wheels of fate begin to turn

2 years later

Lan is now 5 years old and has grown slightly taller and more muscular. The indecisiveness in his voice has vanished and he now has a constant spark of creativity in his eyes. He has also become reasonably adept with many of the martial arts Byakko has taught him and quite proficient in many of the skills the other villagers have taught him. He has however dropped most of them and focused mostly on the skills he learned on his first day as well as survival skills taught to him by Byakko and some basic first aid.

It was a warm summer day in Longa Cinere and Lan was currently out training with Byakko, so the denizens of the village were taking it easy and enjoying the afternoon. In a little Gazebo, a few of the villagers had come together to discuss Lan and his time spent in the village, they were having cups of tea and some of Anna’s special tea cookies.

“It’s been two years since Lan came here” Hiroshi said stroking his goatee, a large smile on his face “and he has made so much progress.”

“I know!” said Rowan enthusiastically “the kid’s already getting the hand of a lot of the engineering techniques and already knows how to slap together some basic vehicles and weaponry. It’s awesome!”

Lan had been progressing at an astonishing rate through all the skills and abilities that had been taught to him. When approached with enthusiasm, any subject can be learned quickly and Lan had been enthusiastically going at every single thing he learned.

“Yes” said Edgar in his over impassioned voice “his skills are indeed becoming quite astonishing. As he begins to master different the different rhythms his understanding of music grows ever stronger. As he plays he begins to capture the spirit of the piece, and we have only just begun! Even now he has picked up many different instruments and is—“

“But the biggest change” said Lief, an expert fisherman and seagull Faunus, quickly cutting in to Edgar’s rant “are his combat skills. He has survived Byakko’s crazy training and has made leaps and bounds in strength and finesse… no pun intended.”

Indeed, over the years Byaako had made the boy go through all kinds of crazy and painful training which includes carrying a stone the size of his body a mile, climbing tall rock faces with his bare hands, and innumerable numbers of practice strikes.

With that all of them laughed and looked into the sky. The boy had become very important to all of them over these past two years; he was kind, passionate, and ever willing to try something new. He was their pride, treasure, and hope.

“But” said Anna, sighing “He has started to pick up bits and pieces of Byakko’s personality quirks.”

Everybody groaned once she said this, all aware of the horrible changes the boy had begun to make.

“I guess he does spend the most time with him” said Gregory “I just wish Lan would have taken Byakko as an example of what not to be.”

Over the past two years Lan had started becoming more impulsive and unpredictable, getting into crazy situations and doing wacky things, many of which included blowing something up or setting something on fire.

“I’ll say” Rowan said sighing “I honestly can’t believe that he made a full automated toilet launcher out of some of the spare parts in my garage. It was both deadly and hilarious.”

To emphasize his point, he lifted up his shirt and showed a small scar where a piece of porcelain had pierced him when Lan had tested the contraption out.

“Where did he get the toilets?” asked Gregory, raising an eyebrow.

“From the dark bottomless abyss know as my trashcan” responded Rowan with a smile.

“He’s still young though” said Hiroshi, sipping his tea and ignoring the two of them “so he will have plenty of time to learn that this behavior will only get him into trouble in the real world.”

“HEY FELLAS, WHAT’S GOING ON!?”

The entire group leapt out of their seats, and turned in the direction of the all too familiar voice. Byakko stood there with his usual massive grin sitting cleanly on his face.

“Oh? Tea and snacks? Count me in guys” with that Byakko darted forward, shoved one hand into the plate of cookies on the table (ignoring everyone’s winces as they noticed his unwashed hands) and removed a large handful. At the same time his tail whipped out, grabbed the tea pot, and poured some into an empty cup.

“What the hell are you doing here!” shouted Greb, “You’re supposed to be training Lan right now!”

“Aw relax” Byakko said with his mouth full “today I’m having him spar with his old friend Ignis, the two of them are about the same size now, and I’m having one of the older wolves watch over them today so they should be fine.”

“You left a young boy with two wild wolves?” Hiroshi shouted, his face flushed with anger and his voice shaking “That’s just… just”

“Calm down you old fart” Byakko said downing his tea in one gulp “The wolves wouldn’t dare touch a hair on his head. They have already accepted him as my cub, so their treating him as the son of their Alpha, and wolves would never do anything to hurt the Alpha’s cub when he’s still young, isn’t that right John?”

Byakko’s comment was directed at John, an old zoologist with a long beard.

“Well, actually—“ started John

“You heard the man” Byakko said, quickly cutting him off “So just relax, I’m going to head back to check on him in a little while, and I’m sure the kid will be fine as long as he doesn’t do something too stupid while I’m gone, and considering he’s my grandson what are the odds of that?”

At that comment, everyone at the table groaned, and began a silent prayer; all hoping Lan would be fine.

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Lan peeked out from the corner of his eye at the older wolf; it was fast asleep, snoozing in the morning sun.

“Yes!” Lan thought “Those herbs can really do the trick.”

Right after Byakko had left them, Lan and Ignis caught a rabbit. Using knowledge he had gained about herbs he had gained from a book on herology, Lan had tracked down sleep inducing herbs in the forest a few days before. Lan cooked had cooked the rabbit with the herbs, as well as with some other plants to hide the smell, and had offered it to the older wolf. It had been suspicious at first, but its suspicions were soon dispelled by the odors rising from Lan’s cooking, and it ate the rabbit whole.

Why did Lan do this? Well a few months ago Lan had overheard Byakko and some of the other villagers talking about his training and Lan had learned that Byakko did not plan on unlocking his aura until he had slain his first Grimm.

“I’ll never be able to become a hero without releasing the power within my soul” Lan thought “and I’m more than ready to take down a Grimm.”

For the past two months Lan had been planning how to handle this problem, he believed that Byakko wouldn’t not believe him even if he brought back a dead Grimm because he had become much closer with the wolves recently and was capable of convincing them to take one down for him. So he believed that the best course of action was to trap one, bring it back to the village and slay it in front of everyone. For something like this, proper planning and procedure was necessary.

Whenever Byakko had left him to himself, or had fallen asleep, Lan snuck off into the forest to search for possible targets. A few weeks ago he had found it, an ursa minor that was living alone in a small cave near some usual training sites. He had spent the last two weeks preparing for his excursion by studying the ursa’s behavioral pattern from afar, and preparing the tools and traps he would need. The cave was currently surrounded by a menagerie of traps Lan had made from scrap parts he found in the villages junk heap and things he had found in the forest, all of them nowhere near the areas where the ursa normally traveled.

Lan was planning to lure the ursa into one of them with a special fragrant honey he had “borrowed” form Anna’s cupboard. He kept in a small flask in his jacket. After the ursa was securely in one of the traps, which ranged from pits covered with leaves to steel nets and cages, Lan planned to bombard it with small homemade explosives he had made with dust he had “borrowed” from one of the fireworks experts, scraps he had taken from the junk heap, and detonation equipment taken from Rowan’s workshop. They were percussive explosives that detonate upon impact, and could be switched on and off with a button. They were also rather weak because he didn’t want them to be strong enough to break whatever prison the ursa wound up in, but strong enough, that enough of them could wear the ursa down. Once the ursa was weakened he would take one of the transportation vehicles he had taken from Rowan’s lab, connect it to what the ursa was imprisoned in (he would have to transfer the ursa into a different containment medium if it was trapped in a hole though), then take it back to the village where he would finish it off in front of his grandpa.

“Nothing can possible go wrong” Lan thought to himself, smiling.

Right before heading off, Lan quickly took stock of what he had: 30 of the small explosives, the small flask of fragrant honey, an emergency flare in case something went wrong, two chocolate bars, and a small hunting knife.

“Are you ready Ignis?” Lan said to his now slightly larger friend.

Ignis barked and wagged his tail, conveying the message that he was. Lan and Ignis were at present, the best of friends; they had grown up together and played together frequently. Ignis had helped Lan where he could over the past few months in gathering material and setting up traps, and was now itching to see some action (although he understood less than a fourth of what was actually going on).

Lan and Ignis dashed away from the clearing they were currently in and headed in the direction of the ursa’s cave. They kept running until they reached a cliff, overlooking a small valley where the cave was located in. From Lan’s previous reconnaissance trips, he knew that the ursa would be in its cave right now and wouldn’t come out for another hour or two. Taking another minute to scout the situation, Lan took note of all the surrounding traps he had laid, and decided that the pit nearest to the cave’s entrance would be the ideal place to trap the ursa. Lan and Ignis then carefully made their way down the side of the cliff, hopping from ledge to ledge until they reached the forest floor. Then, moving quietly, they moved through the forest, weaving among the trees and shrubberies until they were about ten meters from the entrance of the cave. Lan and Ignis quickly hid behind a tree, and then Lan slowly stuck his head out to get a good look at the inside of the cave. The ursa was inside, seemingly asleep.

“Okay” Lan thought, pulling out the flask of honey “now for the hard part”

He had to create a small trail with the honey, leading to the pit. He had enough in the flask, but the honey’s powerful smell would without a doubt rouse the ursa in a matter of minutes. So he had to create the trail, place the bottle on the leaves covering up the pit, and then hide in the bushes close to it all before the ursa caught up. Lan took a deep breath and placed his hand on the stopper.

“Let’s rock” he thought, and with that pulled out the stopper and began trickling the honey onto the ground.

He then took off running in the direction of the pit, Ignis close behind him. A few minutes later he heard a roaring sound and knew the ursa had awakened.

“Come on” Lan thought panting, “Just a few hundred more meters”.

After another minute of running, he broke through the tree line and came into the clearing with the pit. The pit was located right in the center and would be quite obvious to any intelligent observer, covered with leaves of all different kinds of colors, but would easily fool a brutish Grimm.

The flask still had a good deal of honey in it and would easily attract the ursa, so Lan placed the flask on top of the leaves above the pit, putting it as far as his arm would allow him, and then quickly dashed into some nearby bushes, crouched down and began waiting. A few seconds later he felt a cold wet nose touch his back and knew that Ignis had joined him. Now they just had to wait for the ursa to arrive. Minutes crept by slowly, Lan had begun to sweat and Ignis was crunching on a random object he had found.

“Why the heck isn’t that ursa here yet?!” Lan thought after a few more minutes “he should have had plenty of time to--”

Suddenly there was a shaking in the undergrowth on the left side of the clearing, and the ursa appeared, licking the honey that was drizzled on the grass.

“Alright big guy” Lan thought “just a few more steps until you get the final prize….Doom! hehehe.”

The ursa continued to walk toward the pit licking up the honey, then suddenly stopped right in front of the pit, started sniffing, and then turned in Lan’s direction.

“What the?” Lan thought,” Why isn’t it going for the flask of….”

It was then that he noticed that the flask wasn’t on the leaves.

“Where the heck did….” he then realized with a sinking feeling in his stomach what it was that Ignis had found, he looked down at Ignis.

The young wolf looked up at him wagging its tail… the flask broken into pieces in his paws.

“Oh you little piece of--”, Lan was cut off by the roaring that erupted from the ursa as it charged in his direction, noticing the two in the bushes.

Lan and Ignis quickly darted in opposite directions, avoiding the charging Grimm by a hair.

“No use blaming the little guy now” Lan thought, regaining his posture and turning to face the Grimm “I got to think of a plan.”

The Grimm roared and charged at the boy, its red eyes fixed on its prey. Lan quickly pulled out two of the explosives, activated them and chucked them at the Grimm. The explosives flew at them Grimm, connected with its face, and burst into two small explosions. The Grimm jumped back a short distance shaking its head, slightly dazed. Taking the opportunity, Lan ran a bit farther ahead and hid behind a tree. The Grimm had now recovered and began prowling the area in search of its quarry.

“Alright” Lan thought “what can I do now?”

Quickly assessing the situation, Lan remembered that there were many smaller traps set around this area, they were crude traps that were only designed to deal a small bit of damage, but were good at stalling for time. He had set them up in case anything unexpected happened

“Always have a contingency plan” Lan thought “Now I just need to plan the route and--”

A yipping sound suddenly interrupted his train of thought. He peeked out from behind the tree and was greeted by the sight of the Ignis cornered by the ursa.

“He’s covered in the honey!” Lan realized “the ursa would’ve been able to find him easily!”

Lan darted out from behind the tree, heading toward the ursa, that now had its back to him. The ursa stood up on its hind legs and raised one of its paws, ready to cut the young wolf down. Putting on an extra burst of speed, Lan leapt forward and slip between the ursa’s legs, striking its knees with his elbows to throw it slightly off balance. Then, once he saw the creature’s face, he threw up bomb that he had in his hand, which made contact with the ursa’s chin. In mid-swing and completely off guard, the ursa was knocked off balance by the explosion and fell onto its back.

“Come on little buddy” Lan said to Ignis “We’ve got to run, and this time make sure you follow my instructions.”

Ignis barked in understanding, then the two of them took off in the direction of the first trap, Lan explaining the strategy to Ignis, and the little puppy amazingly seemed to understand. The ursa was now back on its feet and began chasing after them, now completely enraged.

“Alright” Lan said after a little while “get ready to split!”

The ursa was now gaining on them, much faster than the two young beings that it chased.

“Now!” Lan yelled.

The two of them then ran in opposite directions to the left and right of their previous course. This tactic confused the ursa for a few seconds, and in that time it ran past where the two friends had split up and with a click stepped onto a pressure pad. This triggered the release of a swinging log which came down directly in front of the ursa and caught it in the face. The ursa was thrown back several meters and collapsed on its back groaning.

“Yes!” Lan exclaimed, several yards from the site of collision “Success!”

But the ursa was quickly back on its feet again and turned towards Lan, its eyes glowing red with anger.

“Uh Oh” Lan said, noting the short distance the ursa was from his current position.

The ursa made a move to rush in Lan’s direction, but suddenly yelped and turned to look behind it. Ignis had snuck up behind it and had sunk his fangs into the Grimm’s posterior. The young wolf was now growling and shaking its head as his fangs pierced the ursa’s gluteus Maximus. The ursa turned and raised its arm to swat the little puppy. Lan quickly pulled out another explosive and hucked it at the ursa. The explosive came into contact with the ursa’s face seconds before it could brought its arm down. The blast once again disoriented the beast, and using that time Ignis detached his jaws and ran towards Lan.

“Come on little buddy, more traps ahead” the two of them then took off running through the forest once again.

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A half hour, a couple dozen traps, many wolf bites, and many explosives later, the two of them came back to the clearing where they the pit was located, the ursa had slowed considerably now due to the many wounds it had received from the many traps Lan had set. The two of them could hear it roaring some distance behind them, trying in vain to keep up.

“Alright” Lan said panting, almost out of breath from all the running he had been doing “time for the coup de grace.”

Taking out his last few explosives, Lan activated them and buried them under a pile of leaves near the pit. Lan and Ignis then ran around to the other side of the pit and sat down to wait and recover. They didn’t have to wait long before they heard a crashing snapping noise which accompanied the ursa’s plodding into the clearing. By now it was covered in burn marks from Lan’s explosives, torn up from some lacerating traps, and covered in bruises from the blunt force ones. After shaking its head to clear away its exhaustion, it noticed Lan standing on the other side of the clearing and growled.

“Come on you big teddy bear” Lan said in a mocking tone “Come and get us!”

Lan then turned around, dropped his pants and spanked his ass in the direction of the ursa. Enraged, the bear dashed forward roaring, determined to tear the boy apart… and stepped right onto the pile of leaves that concealed the bombs. The combined force of the explosives detonating all at once blasted the ursa a few feet into the air and, carried forward by its running momentum, the ursa sailed onto the leaves covering the hole and fell deep down into the maw of the pit. A few seconds later there was a resounding crash, accompanied by a grunt, and then the only noise audible from the pit was a shallow breathing noise.

“Yahoo” Lan said, pulling his pants back on “It’s in!”

Lan and Ignis then began dancing around the pit, celebrating their victory.

“I was a little worried when you screwed up back there you little glutton” Lan finally said after a few minutes, patting Ignis on the head “But everything turned out A-Okay, now let’s get this ursa back to the village and…”

Lan suddenly heard a growling noise coming from right behind him, he whipped round and found himself staring face to face with an ursa major.

“I thought it was unusual that nothing came after all the ruckus we made” Lan said, gulping “are you that guy’s mommy?”

The ursa roared and Lan turned around and tryied to sprint away before his was mauled, but then a large slamming noise erupted behind him along with a burst of wind. Lan turned around, and was greeted with a welcoming sight. Byakko stood there, on top of the crushed ursa with a big grin on his face.

“Grandpa!” Lan said, relief filling his voice “you made it just in time!” Ignis yipped in approval that ran over and started licking Byakko’s legs.

“Not really” Byakko said shrugging “I’ve been watching you for a few minutes now.”

“What?” Lan said, his smile disappearing and being replaced by a look of perplexity “you mean you were watching all those times me and Ignis were about to get mauled?”

“Yep!” Byakko said with his usual grating voice. “Was quite the show!”

Ignis made a confused sound and turned to look and Lan. Lan simply stared at his grandfather for a minute and then shrugged; things like this had become normal to him by now.

“But this was quite devious of you” Byakko said “preparing all of this in secret without telling any of us? For shame little man.”

Lan looked down, embarrassed, then suddenly remembering his accomplishment, broke into a huge smile and looked up at Byakko.

“So” Lan said in a nonchalant tone “I guess that means you saw the whole ordeal I went through to catch that ursa?”

“Yeah” Byakko replied “and I must say that was really messy, I saw you make tons of mistakes, you were lucky that ursa didn’t tear you apart.”

“But still” Lan said smiling “I caught it, and now I can finish it off at any time.”

Byakko looked over at the pit then back at Lan, then reached up and started scratching his head

“I guess so.” Byakko said grinning, “So what now?”

“I think you already know” Lan said, obviously excited “It’s aura time!”

“Alright” Byakko said chuckling and shaking his head “Just finish off that ursa in the pit and we’ll head back to the village and tell everyone. I’m sure they’ll all be impressed, Heck they may even throw you a party!” Byakko said holding his chin between his thumb and forefinger “and after all the fun is done, then I’ll unlock your aura.”

“Deal!” Lan exclaimed, jumping up and down “now I just gotta…” Lan reached into his pouch and found that he had ran out of explosives, “One sec” Lan said to Byakko, and took off into the forest.

He came back later holding lots of little sacs of dust, pieces of string, what appeared to be many thin strips of plant substance, and a jar full of a sticky liquid. While Lan had been setting up the other traps, he had set up small supply caches throughout the area in case he needed them to enhance some of the current traps.

“You better give back everything you borrowed after we’re done” Byakko said “a lot of the villagers have been missing things they needed.”

“Right after my aura is unlocked” Lan said, placing everything down on the floor “I’ll be able to gather them up more easily that way.”

He then set about putting together a large explosive from the materials, cutting strips of cloth with his knife, lashing them around the sacks of dust, gluing everything together with the paste, and putting in the fuse. Amazingly he finished it after just a few minutes.

“Will you hurry it up?” Byakko said, now laying down and propping his head up with his hand “We got a celebration to plan”

“One moment” Lan said hefting up the large bomb “I just need to light it”

Lan then walked over to the bomb, picked it up, and carried it over to the pit. He dropped the bomb right at the edge, pulled out a pair of spark rocks from his pouch, and then began striking them together near the fuse. After a few tries the fuse ignited, lighting up like a holiday sparkler.

“Bombs Away!” Lan cried, giving the bomb a good kick.

The explosive fell over the edge, and a few seconds later there was a grunt as it landed on the ursa. Preparing himself for the explosion soon to come, Lan took off running away from the pit as fast as his legs could carry him and hid behind the largest most solid object he could find… his grandpa’s back. A minute passed and everything remained quiet. Lan peeked out from behind Byakko and stared at the pit.

“Hmmm…I guess I made a mistake with wrapping the--” he was cut off mid-sentence as a huge blast burst from the pit, breaking the ground around it and sending a column of flame and dust up into the air. The soot shot out in all directions and covered everything surround the hole, including Byakko, and the parts of Lan that were peeking out from behind him. Byakko, with the front part of his body completely black, got up walked over to the pit and stared down into it. He then whipped around and stuck out both his thumbs in Lan’s direction.

“It’s GOOD!” he said with a big grin on his face.

“Woohoo!” Lan responded, jumping up and down.

“Time to head back now” Byakko said, picking Lan and Ignis up and setting them on his shoulder “we’ve got to show everyone the new hero!”

Then with speed much faster than the eye could detect, Byakko dashed out of the clearing and headed back towards the village, making sure to drop off Ignis at the tree cave on the way.

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“You Idjit!” Gregory yelled at the top of his lungs “What the hell did we say!? Don’t leave the boy alone and for heaven’s sake—”

“Oh will you shut already” Byakko yelled back cleaning one of his ears with a pinky finger “He’s fine isn’t he?”

Byakko and Lan had just arrived back at the village half an hour ago, and after they finished filling everybody in on the details, Gregory began yelling at the two of them about how insensitive and stupid they both were. While Gregory and Byakko had begun the usual routine of Gregory yelling his ass off and Byakko not listening to a single word, Anna had taken Lan aside and talked to him about his irresponsible actions. At first Lan had tried to justify his actions, but Anna’s calm yet sad gaze and the worry in her voice eventually broke through his indignation and brought his remorse to the surface.

“Don’t ever do something so reckless again” Anna said “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something had happened to you.”

“I’m sorry” Lan said, a tear trickling down the side of his face “I’ll make sure to act more responsibly from now on.”

Anna smiled and brought Lan into a loving embrace.

“I know you will” she said with smile.

While the two of them had been talking Byakko had grabbed Gregory and was presently wrestling with him, much to Gregory’s ire.

“But it is truly astounding that such a young child was able to best a creature of Grimm” Hiroshi said, stroking his chin “It truly is a miracle, and I believe the boy should be rewarded for such an accomplishment.”

“Yeah!” Byakko said, currently holding Gregory in a headlock “Let’s have a party!”

“I don’t like rewarding such reckless behavior” Anna said hesitation in her voice “But it is true that it was quite the accomplishment….Alright then! I’ll head to the kitchen and whip up some of my specials.”

“WHOOHOO!” Byakko yelled, bending his back and shooting his right index finger into the air.

“Will you let go of me already you overgrown hairball” said Gregory, struggling to be released from the headlock “Your pits smell worse than a sick goat’s ass!”

A few minutes later Hiroshi had gathered the rest of the village, and they all began preparing for the festivities. The more able bodied began putting up decorations, and the more mentally focused began planning for the party. The whole village was in fervor; it wasn’t often that they had something to celebrate. Old men and women of all backgrounds and were ethnicities running throughout the village working hard on what they needed to do. Lan looked over everybody and smiled. He was confident that nowhere else in the world was as cooperative and friendly as the little town here. Byakko was running into and out of the village constantly, bringing the ingredients Anna needed, Hiroshi was directing all the other villagers on what they should work on, Gregory was nagging the crap out of anyone who got a bit lazy, and everybody else was working hard together. Lan had noticed something over the years he had been in the village. There weren’t any signs of racism or any other kinds of discrimination. The village had old people of every race and ethnicity from all over Remnant, including many different Faunus but not once did a fight break out over racial issues. He had read many books over the 2 years about the many conflicts that happened in the world on a daily basis, especially the extreme hatred that many humans held toward the Faunus. He had never really understood why they held such animosity towards each other because here in this village humans and Faunus lived together in harmony, albeit they were all old people who were less inclined to judge. In the village, the Faunus were able to handle the more physically demanding tasks more easily than their human counterparts, and the humans provided intellectual expertise in many matters, due to them having more access to education during their younger years.

“But I guess how a person is raised has a big impact on how they see things.”

With that thought finished, Lan ran off to help an old ferret Faunus put up decorations around the village square and help with anything else that he could.

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A few hours later the preparations were finished, and everyone had gathered in the square. Hiroshi walked up to a podium and began addressing everyone.

“It is my great pleasure to hold the position of master of ceremonies this fine day. Our young ward Lan has successfully defeated his first Grimm!” This announcement was greeted with a huge cheer from the crowd, Lan being patted on the back and congratulated by anyone in arms reach. “And as promised” Hiroshi continued “Later this evening Byakko will be unlocking his aura and begin training him in its use!” another round of cheering.

“Lan please come up to the stage” Hiroshi called, beckoning to Lan.

Lan quickly disengaged himself from the crowd and ran up to the stage. Hiroshi walked over to Lan, placed both hands on his shoulders, and stared him straight in the eyes. “After tonight, you will begin to walk down the path of a warrior and by walking down this path you must dedicate yourself to the great virtues that have defined the greatest heroes.”

Lan nodded his head, and continued staring into Hiroshi’s eyes, with a big grin on his face.

“I’m sure you already know of them, but to make sure you never forget I shall drill them one last time into your mind.” Hiroshi then took a deep breath and began listing the virtues “Honor, Justice, Compassion, Fortitude, Temperance…” Hiroshi listed off many different virtues, and standing there in the middle of the village with everyone’s attention on him, Lan committed every single one of them to memory.

Never in his life would he ever forget them, and he vowed that he would live by these virtues no matter what he encountered during. Once Hiroshi finished, he patted Lan once more on the shoulders, then returned to the podium.

“Now I believe I have spoken more than enough” Hiroshi shouted “Let the festivities begin!”

This was greeted by a huge cheer from the crowd, and with that everyone headed off to either get food or be entertained by one of the many events that they had set up earlier. Accompanying all of this was Edgar and the members of his various musical groups, playing an assortment of music of many different genres.

Lan walked around with a cup of apple cider in his hand and watched his beloved grandparents going wild with the festivities. Gregory and Anna were dancing together on the lawn, Byakko was gorging himself on the many delicacies that covered the party table, Rowan was operating many of the entertainment devices (went a little too crazy with the fireworks though), and Hiroshi was cracking open a jar of a strange smelling liquid that the villagers said was “To early for you, Lan.” After observing everyone a little bit more, Lan threw all formality to the wind and leapt into the fray. He danced, ate, played, and even performed a few songs with Edgar. The party was marvelous, and would be one Lan remembered for the rest of his life as the start of what would be his long journey.

Things began slowing down after a few hours after the majority of the villagers had drunk many cups of the foul smelling beverages, and were now red in the face and saying many comical things. At that point Lan wandered away from the party and walked over to one of the ledges overlooking the sea. It was night now, and the view from where he stood was beautiful. The moon was full, the sky was full of stars and the sea was calm, reflecting the heavens above perfectly. Lan sat there for a while, enjoying the crisp and clear night air while drinking one of Anna’s homemade sodas, completely content with the world as it was. He then heard a loud thump behind him. He turned around and was greeted by the sight of Byakko taking a long drink out of a large porcelain jar; he was very red in the face and had the strong odor of the strange drink (which Lan later learned to be called alcohol) all over him.

“Ah” Byakko sighed, a large puff of steam expelled from his mouth “Wah a vonderful might”

“Are you okay grandpa?” Lan said, curious about his grandfather’s strange speaking pattern.

“Me? I’m vreat” Byakko replied, swaying slightly “Buh I shink I’m a wittle dwunk, wash shome weally good vine, bwut I bwetter shober up, we gotsh to unlock yer auwa pwetty soon.”

Draining the last of the liquid, Byakko stood up, walked over to the cliff and dove into the sea water below, entering the expanse with a loud splash. Lan gazed over the edge where Byakko had jumped off. He waited for several minutes, but Byakko still didn’t come back up. Worried, Lan got up and was about to run back to the village for help. Suddenly the sea in front of him exploded and a giant pillar of water rose into the air. A few minutes later Byakko landed with a crash back on the cliff, dripping wet and with the remains of fish covering his mouth.

“Brrrrr” he said smiling and shaking himself “just what I needed to clear the head!”

Quickly turning his head to the side, Byakko opened his mouth and ejected a large amount of stomach fluid onto the grass.

“Ahhh!” Lan cried, jumping away to avoid the smelly liquid “What are you doing?”

After ejecting the last drops of the liquid, Byakko wiped his mouth and turned back to Lan.

“Just getting the hangover done with early.” He said with a belch “Come on, let’s get back to the square. It’s time for tonight’s big event.”

The two of them then began walking back to the center of the festival, Lan keeping his distance from Byakko in case anything else disgusting happened.

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Lan and Byakko now stood on a stage with the entire village surrounding them and watching (many through drunken eyes) with anticipation. Byakko’s air of jubilation was gone now and was replaced with a powerful serious atmosphere.

“Aura” Byakko began, the craziness gone his voice and replaced with a powerful calm “is the manifestation of our souls, and, along with dust, allows us to battle the Grimm.”

There were shouts of approval from members of the crowd, and to emphasize his point, the villagers who were able to use aura began glowing different colors, a few of them also raised their arms into the air.

“Even with the power of dust to aid us we would be helpless without the power within us all, the great wellspring within our souls that allows us to become true warriors. And today” Byakko said, spreading out his arm “you join us.”

Byakko then linked his fingers together and extended them out, making a cracking noise, while Lan looked at him excitedly.

“Well then” said Byakko “Let’s rock.”

A brilliant white light began emanating from Byakko’s body, putting the brightest lamps in the area to shame and bathing every person in its brilliant glow. Byakko then extended his index finger and touched Lan’s forehead. The light entered into his, and warmth spread throughout every corner of Lan’s body as the energy flowed through him, unlocking the power hidden within the recesses of his body.

“Hoh!” Byakko said grinning as he sensed some abnormalities in Lan’s aura “It seems your aura is already slightly unlocked, I guess in a few more years you would have unlocked it naturally! Hmmm?”

Byakkko noticed something strange in Lan’s aura, but couldn’t tell what.

At this point Lan’s body was beginning to glow a bluish color, slowly growing brighter, then all of a sudden the light died out. Byakko stared at the boy, his surprise making him forget his previous observation.

“Hey Lan What’s—”, before Byakko finished his comment, a huge wave of energy blasted out of Lan in all directions, sending everyone except Byakko flying away.

The energy formed a kind of bubble around Lan, and the majority of it was shooting into the sky, forming a giant, pulsating, blue pillar of energy.

“Ohoh” Byakko said, planting his feet “that’s some serious aura!”

Clouds began forming where the light met the sky, and the sky began rumbling as rain began to fall, as if to signal the beginning of a storm. Oblivious to the chaos around him, Lan stared straight up into his sky, feeling his whole body changing, the energy pouring out like a damned up river that had just been released. His eyes were glowing with a blue light now, and through them he began seeing visions of many strange things. He saw black shadows flying through the sky, he saw the shapes of animals running about frantically, he saw fire raging through places he never knew, and he saw the faces of people he had never met. Innumerable fantastic sight crossed his eyes, but shining above them all, far away at what he saw to be the top of the pillar were the things that held his mind with the greatest sway.

“It looks like the boy’s aura is fully released” Byakko thought “But I better stop this output now, no telling what could happen if too much gets released!”

Focusing his aura into his fingers Byakko began striking certain points on Lan’s body, stabilizing the raging energy within him. With the energy beginning to settle down, the light that emanated from Lan’s body began to fade and the pillar of light began to disappear. Lan felt exhausted now, every inch of his body numb. He began to tip over, but Byakko quickly dashed forward and caught him in his arms.

“Easy boy, you feeling okay?”

The villagers now came running back, all of them concerned over Lan’s wellbeing, but Lan didn’t hear any of the words that they spoke to him, his eyes were still transfixed far above him. His consciousness began to fade at this point, and his eyelids started growing heavy. He struggled to stay awake, to keep looking at that magical sight above, the majestic vision that entrance the entirety of his being. But it was no use, his eyelids began to droop, and his mind began to lose its grip on reality. Determined to never forget the sight, Lan burned it into his memory before his consciousness grew any duller. It was important, that was all he knew and would be something that he saw in his dreams every night from that day on and would influence his every waking minute. What was the sight that he tried to so hard to keep? It wasn’t particularly amazing compared to the many other marvels that danced across his vision, but Lan felt that it was the most significant, something that he felt intrinsically linked to. Although, he didn’t quite understand how it was important though, after all, it was just a simple set of 4 different colored lights. Red, White, Black, and Yellow. The last of his strength spent, Lan passed out in Byakko’s arms and began too dream.

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Thousands of miles away in a torn dead land a dark army was gathering. Grimm of every kind was coming to this land, ordering themselves into a writhing black sea. The same was happening in the skies as winged shapes flew in tight formations. Standing above them were two dark shadows that seemed to be directing the other Grimm, the shadows were human in shape and were communicating with each other. Suddenly, the shadow with the most spikes on its back twitched and turned and stared far into the distance, sensing a familiar energy. It gave a low angry growl, discovering that its previous mission had not yet been completed. It then turned back towards the seething mass of darkness below it and let out an ear-splitting roar. The Grimm below all turned towards it. The creature then pointed in the direction and hissed. The Grimm below responded by ordering themselves into formations, and stood at attention. The two dark shadows at the top of the hill then began walking in the direction of the village, the malignant army following.

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