Ch 6 It begins
1 month later.
Sammy was running through the forest, breathing hard. It was on his tail and gaining fast, he could hear its feet stomping on the ground less than a dozen yards away. He began zigzagging around tress and running a confusing pattern, hoping to throw it off of his trail. After a few minutes the stomping disappeared. Sammy continued running for a few more minutes and then stopped once he entered a clearing. He then doubled over, wheezing and trying to catch his breath.
“I finally lost him” he thought “no way he’ll find me no—”
At that moment a dark shape leapt out of the bushes to his right and tackled him. Sammy screamed in fright and brought up his hands to protect his face. But the beast pushed its snout through, brought its mouth close to Sammy…. And began to lick his face.
“Okay, okay” Sammy said laughing “You caught me Ignis, now I’m it.”
The small wolf hound yipped with satisfaction, and then dashed off into the undergrowth once again. Sammy got up shaking his head and smiling, he then proceeded to brush off his bushy tail.
“Hey Sammy!” someone shouted in a mocking voice “over here!”
Sammy jumped in surprise and turned to look up into tree where the voice had come from. Standing there was Lan, with a smug look on his face. The two of them, along with the local wolf pack, were currently playing a game of tag.
Thanks to Dr. Krueger’s ingenious medical techniques, Sammy had fully recovered only two weeks after he was checked in. Afterwards, Rowan had made Sammy a special nerve-linked mechanical arm that was filled with many gadgets and tricks, although not as many as Rowan wanted because the other villagers didn’t want Sammy’s arm to be a ticking time bomb (both literally and metaphorically). Sammy and Lan had become fast friends since they were the only children in the village and now spent many afternoons playing together. Sammy had also become very interested in engineering and had started taking lessons alongside Lan. Much to Lan’s chagrin, Sammy had soon surpassed him in the class prompting Lan too double his effort in it and too poke fun at Sammy on certain occasions. Sammy had a bowl cut haircut, had on an earth-brown t-shirt, a pair of tan shorts with a hole in it for his tail, and orange sandals. Lan had his usual messy and unkempt hairstyle, was wearing a custom dark blue karate gi that looked ripped in a few places and was given to him by Byakko, and as always Lan wore no shoes.
“You really suck at this” Lan said in a teasing manner “Everybody else can outrun Ignis.”
“Shut up!” Sammy yelled back “I may not be as fit as you guys are, but I can more than make up for it with this!”
Pressing a button on his prosthetic arm Sammy fired the hand of his fake arm like a grappling hook, which was connected to the rest of his arm with a thick wire, at the branch Lan was standing on. Lan jumped out of the way as the hand grabbed onto the tree branch, and leapt onto another one. Sammy then pressed another button on his arm, which reeled in the wire and pulled him towards and onto the branch. After he scrambled onto it he stood up and turned to face Lan.
“nah nah nah nah nah” Lan shouted, making a mocking gesture with his hands. He then took off, jumping from tree limb to tree limb faster than a wild monkey. Sammy began chasing after him with his grappling arm. The two of them flew through the forest, zipping by at high speeds. Sammy’s natural squirrel like instincts allowed him to move through the trees with high levels of precision, but no matter how hard he tried, he could never catch up to Lan.
“Come on Sammy” Lan shouted behind him “I thought squirrels were supposed to be masters of the trees.”
“I am” Sammy shouted back “You’re just too fast, I can’t catch a ninja boy like you!”
“Martial artist” Lan corrected, upside in midair and holding his two legs apart in a half-split.
After a few more minutes of trying to catch him, Sammy knew he would never catch up at this rate.
“Try using your brain a little more” Sammy thought to himself, “if you can’t catch him with physical ability try something else.”
Sammy thought for a moment, and then suddenly came up with a plan. He pretended to detect a scent in the air by sniffing.
“Hey Lan” Sammy yelled “It smells like dinner’s ready!”
“Really?” Lan said checking his watch “That was fast, Let’s go.”
Lan jumped down from the tree onto the ground, and began running back towards the village.
Dropping on the ground, Sammy began running after Lan, who was currently traveling slower than how he was when he was zipping through the trees. Once he was close enough, Sammy pressed a button on his arm which activated a propulsion system (Rowan added it in secret and only told Sammy about it) which launched him towards Lan at a tremendous speed.
“Gotcha now” Sammy thought while he stretched out his arm.
Just as Sammy was about to tag him, Lan suddenly jumped to the side. Unable to stop his momentum, Sammy shot past, crashed into a tree, and landed on his back.
“Wow” Lan said “when did you get a rocket booster?”
“How did you know what I was going to do?” Sammy shouted from the ground
Lan smiled and tapped his nose.
“Grandpa trains every part of me” Lan said “right now my nose is about as sensitive as the average Faunus, and I didn’t smell any food, so it was pretty obvious you were trying to trick me and I decided to play along a little bit.”
“How do you train your sense of smell?” Sammy said getting up “It’s not a muscle.”
“By smelling lots of different things” Lan responded “Some pleasant…others not so much.”
At that moment they heard a lard clanging sound coming from the direction of the village.
“Now, the food is done” Lan said, smiling and darted off towards the village.
“Hey wait for me!” Sammy yelled, staggering to his feet and taking off after him.
It was dinnertime now, and they had to get there fast before Byakko ate everything there.
Anna’s restaurant was packed. Almost everyone in the village tried to eat at Anna’s house whenever there were seats available, those who weren’t able to get tables either had to slink on home or to another lesser eatery. However, there were always a few seats reserved for her close personal friends, which included Byakko and the two boys. Today, however, one of the seats was empty. Lan had decided to help Anna deal with the dinner rush.
“Order up” Lan shouted, placing two bowls of soba in front of two guests “two venison soba!”
He then darted back into the kitchen with lightning speed to continue helping Anna cook and serve.
“He sure is moving fast” said Sammy, who was sitting next to Rowan and watching the blue blur zip in and out of the kitchen.
“The kids been learning the ins and outs of the kitchen from Anna since the day he got here” said Rowan with a shrug “he’s also got all that physical training adding up too. What’s more surprising is that over there.”
He pointed towards a table in the back of the room. Sitting at it was Byakko….hunched over a book and writing things down.
“In the twelve years that he’s been at this village, I have never once seen him open up a book, let alone write something down” Rowan said, slightly perturbed “Something is wrong, very very wrong.”
At that moment Lan burst out of the kitchen, laden down with over a dozen dishes. He then dashed to various parts of the room, dropping off the plates in front of their respective diners with amazing speed and not dropping even a speck of food. The last person on his route was Byakko, and as soon as he set down Byakko’s whole roast boar he turned to dash back into the kitchen.
“Hold on a sec boy” Byakko said staring at the book in front of him, his hand shooting out and grabbing the back of the scruff of Lan’s neck “I need you to look at something.”
When Lan didn’t respond Byakko looked up from his papers and saw that with the way he had grabbed Lan’s collar, he had begun strangling him.
“Brain…growing…fuzzy” Lan thought as he struggled, trying to get free “Must…have…air!”
“Oops” Byakko said, releasing his grip “Sorry about that, but man your new gi must be made of some strong material. But then again I made it for you so that’s a given.”
Lan dropped to his knees and gasped for breath and then turned to look up at his grandpa.
“What “pant” do you need?” Lan said his voice hoarse.
Byakko took a small piece of paper from his desk and some photos out of his clothes.
“As both of us know” Byakko said in a serious voice “My fighting style isn’t suited to your natural abilities. So I am currently deciding which of my old friends would be the best teacher for you.”
Lan‘s eyes widened in alarm.
“Does this mean you aren’t going to train me anymore grandpa?”
“Of course I am” Byakko shouted back “I’m still going to be in charge of your body strengthening training. It’s just that one of these guys” Byakko said, patting the pictures with the back of his hand “is going to teach you skills and techniques!”
Lan sighed in relief, then looked up with interest at the photos Byakko held in his hand.
“Now I’ve narrowed the group down to these guys, they’re all top grade martial arts masters and were able to give me some difficulty back in the day” Byakko said handing Lan the pictures and note “take your pick.”
Lan read each of the master’s descriptions and fighting styles carefully. But before he had gone through them all, one strange picture caught his eye.
“Hey grandpa what’s thi—”
“Oops, sorry” Byakko said, snatching up the picture “That’s a picture Johnny, the pet hippo of one of my old friends. I don’t know how that got in there.”
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Lan returned to looking at the profiles. After a few minutes he had decided and handed the selected photo to Byakko.
“Ah, good choice boy” Byakko said as he looked at the picture “Meng Zhang is probably the best out of all the guys in that pile and is the one I chose to have teach you. ”
“Chose?” Lan said confused “I thought I was supposed to pick?”
“No” Byakko said with a mischievous smile “I just wanted to see if you knew which kind of teacher was the best for you, and if you had gotten it wrong I would have head-butted you so hard that you wouldn’t even remember this conversation, then I would have repeated the process until you got it right!”
Turning away from Lan, whose mouth was currently hanging open, Byakko scribbled something down on a note next to him. He then turned his attention to the boar and began devouring it.
“Lan!” Anna called from the kitchen “where are you?”
Snapping out of his shock, Lan ran back to the kitchen and shouted “Sorry grandma” as he burst through the door.
¾ done with his boar, Byakko began to make travel plans. Now that Lan’s new teacher was settled, he would have to go and convince the old coot to come train the boy. Byakko began planning for the supplies he would need to bring and the route he would take. Meng Zhang lived in an ancient monastery far far away; it would take a while to get there even with his speed and possibly even longer to convince the man. Byakko looked down, and noticed that his plate was already empty. He then got up and headed for the kitchen too place some more orders, he (as always) would need his strength for the days ahead.
Three days later
Byakko was standing at the exit of the village with an enormous backpack slung over his shoulders, as well as a black travel cloak. The other villagers had gathered to wish him a safe journey, Lan was standing at the head of the group, his face scrunched up and trying not to cry.
“Alright guys” Byakko yelled “I’ll probably be gone a week or two, and in that time you’ll need to keep the village safe. I’ve gathered tons of dust from natural deposits in the area and piled them by the force field generator. There should be enough to keep you all safe for months.”
Anna walked over and handed Byakko a jar of seasoning.
“I know you’ll be missing my cooking while you’re gone” Anna said with a smile “so just sprinkle a little of this onto any meat that you roast and you’ll have something worthy of a 5-star meal.”
“Awww, Thanks” Byakko said, stuffing it into his pocket and scratching his head.
Byakko then knelt down and stared Lan in the eyes.
“Don’t’ give me that look boy” Byakko said, noting Lan’s scrunched up face “Tears just make goodbye’s painful, and also, I’ll only be gone a few weeks at the most. I’ll be back before you know it, so suck those tears back into the ducts and give your grandpa a big goodbye hug!”
Lan nodded and, with notable effort and amazing bodily control, sucked his tears back into his ducts like he had been instructed to. He then leapt off the ground and wrapped his arms around Byakko’s neck. Byakko smiled and returned the gesture.
“Make sure you keep up your training while I’m gone” he said “I’ve written it all down in that scroll I gave you.”
“You mean those bunches of scribbles?” Lan said giggling.
“Wha-What” Byakko said with indignation “that is perfectly legible handwriting.”
“It’s okay” Lan said, releasing his grip “I’ve already learned how to read that foreign language.”
Everyone laughed at this comment, except Byakko who was giving his grandson the one-eyed death glare.
“Alright everyone, it’s time for me to get going” Byakko said, getting up “anything anyone else want to say before I go?”
“Remember to shower regularly” said Anna
“And don’t get wasted in any taverns!” shouted Gregory
“All right, that’s enough” Byakko said, brushing off the rest of the comments “See ya.”
With that he turned around and began marching away from the village.
“Fare thee well” Lan yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth “Come back soon.”
He then waved his arm in farewell.
Within a few minutes, Byakko was just a speck in the distance and the crowd at the front gate began to disperse.
“Alright Lan” Anna said taking him by the hand “Your music lesson with Edgar is about to begin.”
Lan nodded and began to follow her back to the village, but stopped when he noticed Sammy was still standing by the front gate.
“Sammy!” he called out “Time to head back.”
When the boy failed to move, Lan ran over and began tapping him on the shoulder. Sammy yelped, shook his head, and turned to look at Lan.
“Whuh-What is it.” said Sammy in a sluggish voice
“You okay buddy?” Lan asked, slightly concerned
“Ye-Yeah” Sammy said “just spaced out for sec.”
“Well, come on, we got to turn on the force-field generator soon” Lan said
Lan turned around and dashed into the village. Sammy began to follow him, but turned his head to look behind him at the nearby mountain range. He had felt familiar presence in that direction, but he couldn’t remember what it was.
“It’s probably nothing” he thought, shrugging his shoulders “It’s probably my scrambled brain messing with me again.” He then ran after Lan into the village, to watch as they turned the generator on.
Two dark shadows lie asleep at the top of the mountain. All of a sudden one of them shot up, and stared in the direction of the village. It gave the other shadow a kick to wake it, and then leapt into the valley below to rouse the rest of the Grimm. Their time had come sooner than expected, the powerful white being was now leaving, and the village was left vulnerable. But they couldn’t make any rash moves; anything too flashy could cause the being to come running back. The dark creature decided it would lead a small strike force of around 100 Grimm through the nearby woods to attack the seaside village in 10 days time. After they finished off the boy they would continue with their previous plan, the original reason all of them had gathered together: to attack one of the kingdoms of man, the city of Vale.