Ch 5 Prelude to the storm
It has been 5 months since Lan’s aura was unlocked by Byakko. Recognizing the potential the boy had, Byakko began teaching Lan many aura based combat techniques, mostly basic techniques, as well as continuing his regular training. Thanks to the use of aura, Lan has advanced tremendously in his combat abilities, now able to take on an ursa with his bare hands. He has also excelled in the other skills he was learning from the villagers, although he had dropped some more classes due to their uselessness in real world settings, and began focusing more time and effort on others. Ignis has also began his growth spurt and is now the size of a golden retriever, he is no longer able spar with Lan any more however due to Lan’s increased abilities (these days Lan does 1v1 spars with the adult wolves.) but the two have them have maintained their strong friendship and continue to interact every day. Lan has also become interested in many kinds of weapons recently and has learned how to make and use some, in fact he has dug through the libraries collections of weapon manufacturing books as well as many old magazines on the topic. He had been living every day growing and learning, but today he will receive a pleasant yet somewhat unnerving surprise.
Lan was standing in the middle of a glade, staring down Ernest the current leader of the wolves. Lan had already challenged and defeated many of the other members of the pack and had decided he was ready to challenge the top. Byakko had decided to arrange a match between the two and now presided over the event as a judge of sorts, he was however taking his post…seriously as he has wearing a large kimono and was holding what appeared to be a large fan. The glade was surrounded by the rest of the pack, howling and growling in anticipation. Byakko raised his right hand and the pack quieted down.
“Are you ready Lan?” Byakko asked Lan
“Yes sir!” Lan replied with great vigor. Byakko then turned to Ernest
“Are you ready Ernest?”
Ernest responded with loud bark.
“Alright then. Fight!” Byakko shouted, dropping his arm.
Ernest shot forwards towards Lan, leaped into the air, and dove at him like a missile. Lan shifted his stance and dodged Ernest’s lunge by a few inches, then before Ernest hit the ground, Lan brought up his fist, infused with aura, and struck the wolf in the stomach with an uppercut. Ernest was blasted backwards by the blast, but before he flew too far away from Lan he brought down one of his claws, aiming at Lan’s face. Lan intercepted this blow with one of his arms, and nullified the blow with a shield of aura. Ernest flew through the air a few feet, quickly orienting himself back into standing position, and then landed on his feet. Taking this time, Lan dashed forward to close the distance. Ernest was angry now, and was beginning to glow a red color. Recognizing this Lan began to proceed more cautiously. He had recently found out Ernest’s breed of wolves are called Rage wolves, and have the ability to use aura whenever they grow angry enough, which increases their strength and speed exponentially. Using his now enhanced power, Ernest bolted forward and smashed into Lan, throwing him off balance. Then using his high speed, Ernest began using a hit and run tactic where he began tackling Lan from all directions.
“Ernest is much faster than the other wolves” Lan thought, hardening his aura struggling to defend himself “No wonder he’s the leader.”
The attacks were starting to affect Lan now, he was starting to get tired from using his aura to reduce the damage.
“Calm down” Lan thought to himself “He’s too fast to follow with your eyes. Sense where he’s going to be next, like grandpa always says: nothing beats instinct.”
There was a pattern in Ernest’s attacks, Lan could sense that. After receiving all the blows that he had, Lan was now able to deduce from where Ernest would attack him. Right as the wolf was about to strike him again, Lan threw a low kick and intercepted one of Ernest’s front legs. This blow threw off Ernest’s balance and sent him flying head over tail onto his back a few meters away. Ernest got up again, slightly disoriented. Using this opportunity Lan dashed forward and began unloading a flurry of punches at Ernest’s face, each strike infused with a measure of aura and aimed mainly at the neck and chest areas since Lan was shorter than Ernest. Lan then slammed his front most foot into the ground and used it as a pivot to throw an explosive uppercut which sent Ernest flying back a good dozen meters. Ernest quickly got up again and turned to face Lan, he was breathing hard now, obviously damaged from the previous volley.
“What do you say we finish this?” Lan said smiling “We don’t have all day.”
Lan then began channeling most of his aura into his hands, foregoing any form of defense and preparing for a heavy blow. Ernest growled. He wasn’t going to let this pup make fun of him; he would take the challenge head on. Ernest began to gather his aura to the front of his body, his fangs beginning to glow a bright red color. The two stared at each other in silence for two moments. Lan then shifted himself into a punching stance as if about to throw smash. Taking the movement as provocation, Ernest launched himself forward, his aura streaming around him and making him seem almost like a meteorite. If the attack hit, Lan would be more than just hurt. Just as the two were about to collide, instead of throwing a punch, Lan launched his arm backwards in an ark, bringing the tips of his fingers close to the ground, and then he brought up his other arm with an aura enforced palm and struck Ernest from below. This technique struck Ernest’s field of energy and redirected the majority of the force diagonally upwards, throwing Ernest off balance and canceling his attack. Then using the momentum of the blow, Lan stepped in, turned around and placed his back against Ernest’s chest. Lan then channeled all of his aura that was in his hands into his back, and thrust his back forward releasing his aura as well. This produced a massive shockwave which blasted Ernest all the way to the other end of the glade where he crashed into a tree and fell down, completely still.
Byakko leapt from where he was sitting and was by Ernest’s side in less than a second.
“He’s still breathing” Byakko said after a few minutes of diagnosis “But I’ll need to heal him a little bit.”
Byakko then started glowing white and touched Ernest’s hide. The light flowed from the point of contact and spread all over Ernest’s body, healing whatever wounds it encountered. Byakko then turned back to look at Lan.
“Congratulations boy, YOU ARE THE VICTOR!”
“Woohoo” Lan wheezed, extremely tired, he then fell down onto his back, his arms and legs spread far apart.
“I…Think I need to rest a little while” Lan said weakly “That last attack really took a lot out of me.”
“You have to be more careful with how much aura you use” Byakko replied “it is both your shield and your spear. How you ration it could be the key to victory or defeat. Also, don’t get swollen head just cause you beat Ernest one on one. Wolves are a million times stronger when they attack in a pack!”
“But that was an interesting move the kid used” Byakko thought, turning back to Ernest “I never taught him that one, and he seemed to use it so naturally. I guess that’s his natural fighting style then.”
Byakko knew that teaching Lan his fighting style would actually be detrimental to the boy at that moment. He wanted the boy to reach his full potential though, so he started to think about any one of his friends that used that type of style who could possibly teach the boy. After a few minutes, still no one had come to mind though.
“Oh well” Byakko thought, standing up “I’ll think about it later.”
With a happy yipping sound Ignis leapt out of the now dispersing group of wolves and ran over to Lan.
“Hey buddy look I wo--” before Lan could finish Ignis proceeded to cover him in a layer of saliva and then started to hump his leg.
“Agh!” Lan exclaimed, struggling “cut that out boy, I’m tired.”
“Alright Lan” Byakko said chuckling “I think that’s enough manly love time with little Ignis. Time to head back to the village.”
“Alright” Lan said, finally prying Ignis off his leg and standing up “Let’s go”
The two of them then headed back to the village with Ignis barking his goodbyes.
“So how are your cooking skills coming?”
Byakko inquired as the two of them neared the village.
“Pretty good” Lan replied “Grandma says that I’m starting to become as good as a three-star chef now and—”.
Lan fell silent as they entered the village. The villagers were currently crowded in the center square yammering about something. Lan and Byakko dashed over to see what was going on.
“Lan, Byakko!” Anna cried as she saw them “You’re here!”
“What’s going on?” Lan inquired.
“A few hours after you two left for training a young boy wandered into the village” Anna replied “he was bleeding all over, one of his arms was broken, and the other was just a stump. He kept murmuring something about doom, and when one of the villagers went to help him he passed out in his arms.”
“Well, where is he now?” Lan asked.
“He’s in doctor Krueger’s home at the north of the village, but I don’t suggest you go yet, he’s currently in the operating room.”
“Okay” Lan said reluctantly.
“Now don’t you worry” Byakko said, patting Lan on the back, “You know how good of a doctor Krueger is, he’s a miracle worker who can fix almost anything. Now come on, you got lessons now. We’ll tell you as soon as the kid wakes up.”
Lan nodded then headed to Rowan’s for his engineering lesson.
A few hours later, Lan was reading in the library when he heard that the boy had come to. He quickly headed for doctor Krueger’s home. Dr. Krueger’s home was a medium-sized gothic style building. Lan knocked on the door and after hearing a quiet “Come in” entered Dr. Krueger’s home. The inside of Krueger’s home was a mixture of a medical center and a normal home, with one half of the house containing his living quarters and the other half containing medical rooms and storage chambers. Lan walked into the living quarters and headed upstairs to the recovery room. When he entered the room, he saw Krueger sleeping in a chair at one end of the room and the boy in bed at the other end. The boy appeared to be a squirrel Faunus, due to his large front teeth, oddly shaped eyebrows, brown hair, and a large poofy tail that was poking out of the sheets. He was currently wearing a white patient’s shirt, had a pair of large pair spectacles sitting on his face, was bandaged in many places, and had his remaining arm fit in a cast. He also appeared to be around Lan’s age. He was currently being fed pasta made with a special nut sauce, by Anna who was also asking him various questions.
“How’s the patient doing?” Lan asked, stepping into the room.
“He’s seems to be doing well now” Anna replied, turning to face Lan.
“He’s got his appetite back and can start talking again.”
The boy turned to look at Lan and gave him a weak smile.
“How’s it going” Lan said “What’s your name?”
The boy’s smile vanished and a confused, desperate look took its place.
“The boy doesn’t seem to remember anything” Anna said sighing “It seems the shock of whatever happened to him has given him amnesia. We can only hope his memory comes back soon.”
Lan walked over to the boy, looked him in the eyes and smiled.
“Take all the time you need buddy” he said “we’ve got all the time in the world.”
The boy gave a tentative nod; he then gave a big yawn and snuggled into the blankets.
“It seems the boy needs more rest” Anna said, wiping the boy’s face with a napkin and getting up “come on Lan let’s not—”.
A banging, crashing sound came from the front door, and was followed by a loud stomping noise. The door to the room flew open and slammed onto the wall with a loud crash. Byakko stood there, his usual giant grin situated on his face.
“Hey!” he yelled out “I heard the kid woke up. How’s the little guy doing?”
Not yet mentally stable, the boy was in no way prepared for the giant muscular man’s barging into the room.
“Ahhhhhhhhh!” the boy screamed. He then burrowed deeper into the covers where he continued screaming and began crying.
“Oh, now look what you’ve done you brute!” Anna said angrily “You’ve gone and scared the boy!”
“What?” Byakko said indignantly “That’s nonsense, how am I scary?”
Lan could have pointed out many scary things about his grandfather including his scars, intense face, and harsh voice. But contented himself with giving his grandfather an uncomfortable blank stare. Ignoring it, Byakko walked over to the bed, whipped off the blanket, and picked up the sobbing boy.
“Quit crying already!” Byakko yelled, which only triggered the boy to cry even louder.
“Put him down Byakko!” Anna yelled “You’re not calming him down; you’re just making it worse!” Ignoring her Byakko began bombarding the boy with questions, all of which triggered the boy to cry even more.
“Oh for the love of, you can’t even remember you’re damn na—”.
Byakko was cut off as Anna struck him over the head with a steel washbasin she had found nearby. The impact made a large dent in the basin and finally shut Byakko up.
“Agh” Byakko said, rubbing his head with his free hand “What the heck did you do that f—” he was interrupted as Anna began bashing him over and over again, the sound resonating through the room like a percussion ensemble.
“Gah, alright alright, I’ll leave!”
Byakko then put the boy down and dashed out of the room, leaving the house with a slam of the door. Anna sighed, and then turned to comfort the boy who was now whimpering and curled into a fetal position.
“Lan, dear, wake up doctor Krueger, we may need him to dispense some calming medicine” She said, petting the young boy.
Lan walked over to him and was amazed that to find that Dr. Krueger had been able to sleep through all that ruckus, but on closer inspection Lan discovered that the old man had earplugs on. Lan then proceeded to gently shake the doctor awake.
“Huh? Wha?” Doctor Kruger said, pulling the earplugs out and opening his eyes “What’s going on?”
“Anna needs your help calming the kid down” Lan replied “Byakko just came in and riled him all up.”
“Ah” Dr. Krueger said, awareness returning to his eyes “Give me a minute while I go grab some tranquilizer”
Dr. Krueger walked over to a cabinet, rummaged around for a few minutes, and came back holding a small green pill. By this time the boy had calmed slightly, but was still slightly shaky and was cuddling Anna while she patted his head and hummed.
“Here boy” Dr. Krueger said, holding out the pill “This will help you calm down.”
The boy eyed the pill for a few seconds, then slowly reached out a trembling hand, grabbed it, brought it up to his mouth, and swallowed it. After a few minutes his trembling stopped, and the fear disappeared from his eyes.
He then looked up at Anna and said with a timid voice “I th-think I re-membered my na-me”.
“Ah” Lan thought “The shock Byakko gave him must have triggered some memory recovery.”
“Well” Lan said approaching the boy “What is it?”
“S-Sammy” the boy said timidly.
“Hmm, Sammy the squirrel boy, that’s got a nice ring to it” Lan said jokingly.
Sammy blushed, and then proceeded to crawl under his blankets.
“Now, Lan” Anna said with a huff “Don’t tease the boy”.
Dr. Krueger approached Sammy lifted up the quilt and looked him in the eye.
“Do you remember anything else about what happened to you?” he said with an intense stare “The kinds of injuries you sustained only happen in the worst of situations.”
“N-no” Sammy said looking down “I-I d-don’t r-remember anything else …except…except.”
The boy began trembling again, his calm fading away like mist in the hot sun “Shadow” he whimpered “monster….. Monster!” he screamed, he then began thrashing around and screaming more. Anna rushed over to try and comfort him, but he knocked her hand away and continued to scream.
With a deft movement, Krueger pulled out a needle and stuck it into the side of the boy’s neck. The boy instantly relaxed and fell onto the bed.
“Krueger!” Anna said, appalled, “How could you do that to such a young boy?”
“Relax Anna” Kruger said, removing the needle “He’s just asleep, I just hit an acupuncture point that causes the brain to mass produce melatonin and—”
Ignoring him Anna knelt down beside the boy and began checking him, after a few minutes she stood up with a relieved look on her face.
“Let’s be going now Lan” she said turning to face him “before something else crazy happens.”
She then tucked Sammy in and walked out of the room. Lan turned to follow, but paused and turned around.
“Hey Dr. Krueger?” Lan asked “Can you teach me that acupuncture stuff in our next first aid lesson?”
Dr. Krueger smiled and nodded. With that, Lan skipped out of the room and headed back towards the library. Once he was alone Dr. Krueger began analyzing the boy’s words, monster and doom. There was only one thing that was generically related to those words.
“The boy must have had a run in with the creatures of Grimm,” He thought, stroking his white goatee “but for him to have made it here he must have been attacked nearby.”
The nearest settlement was a Faunus village more than 30 miles away, the boy could have come from there. But the village had capable warriors who had been able to keep the village safe for years.
“Something must be different about the Grimm that attacked them” Dr. Krueger thought, “I just hope we don’t have run in with them.”
Dr. Krueger, then stood up, checked to make sure that Sammy was okay, and then left the room.
“It’ll be fine as long as Byakko is here” he thought “nothing can take that old coot down”
Feeling reassured, Dr. Krueger headed to his bedroom for a nice long nap.
The two dark shadows stood at the top of a mountain staring down at the village of Longa Cinere, their army was in a low valley behind them, awaiting their orders. It had been a long six month trek to get to this location, and along the way they had erased any signs of man that they came across, from convoys, to small villages. Their most recent raid had been on a Faunus village, the warriors there had put up a decent fight when they fought against the normal Grimm, but once the humanoid Grimm joined the fray they were defeated in seconds. Afterwards, the Grimm had destroyed the village and killed every Faunus they could find; only one had escaped, a young boy who had been escorted by one of the warriors. The Grimm found them of course, wounded the child, and killed the warrior who held the Grimm back long enough for the boy to escape. And now they had found him again, together with their quarry. The Grimm with the single spike in its chest turned to rally the other Grimm, but was suddenly stopped by the other humanoid Grimm. The Grimm felt great power emanating from the village, power that gave the impression of a brilliant white beast, power that felt as ancient as the ground they stood upon. If they attacked now they would easily be defeated by that being. But they had time to spare, the being would have to leave the boy eventually, and at that point they would strike. They had plenty of time to spare as well; after all, they were beings of darkness whose only purpose was to return mankind to the dust. For that purpose, they had to get rid of that boy no matter what, and would wait for their chance, no matter how long it would take.
Back in the village Byakko sneezed, and gazed over his shoulder at the nearby mountains, feeling as though something was amiss, but quickly brushed it off as pickled fish he ate this morning. He was starting to understand Lan’s fighting style and natural talents better and knew that his fighting style wasn’t right for the boy. He was currently going through a list of his old friends, trying to find the perfect teacher for Lan. After he decided on who it would be, he planned to leave the village for a short time and convince him to teach the boy.
“I’ve got to make sure the kid’s got a bright future” Byakko mumbled, and continued going down the list of names, clueless as to what his leaving would bring.