Ch 9 Origins
After taking a few minutes to catch his breath, Lan stood up and walked over to check on the old man. The old man was breathing heavily and appeared to be heavily injured. At first Lan though the Grimm was still alive, but he felt no presence of evil so that couldn’t be the case. But soon the bulk of his attention was drawn to the many wounds covering the old man’s frame.
“Can’t just leave him like this” Lan thought “I know! I’ll use medical acupuncture…orrrrr not. My arms are still broken.” He sighed, but then remembered another one of the strange skills Byakko taught him. “Ahah!” Lan said, a sparkle in his eyes “This is a good situation to try out the toe dexterity training I went through!”
Dropping down, Lan reached inside his gi with his right foot and removed a box of needles; he then opened it with a flick of his big toe and withdrew one needle. Turning back to the old man, Lan brought up an acupuncture chart he had seen to mind, and remembered where to start the procedure for stabilization treatment.
“Steady” Lan said, holding the needle over one of the pressure points on the man’s chest “Steady”
Lan dropped his foot down and pierced the man’s skin. The man coughed and spat out a glob of blood, and then returned to his labored breathing.
“Hmmm” Lan said to himself “a little bit off center, but it’ll do.”
Lan continued to treat the old man for the next few minutes, he infused each needle with a minuscule amount of aura to increase the healing rate; he had only recovered a little bit so he had to use it carefully. His rate of progress was slow his use of his feet was still quite amateurish. But after a few mishaps and a few close calls, he managed to stabilize the old man’s condition, if only temporarily.
Sighing, Lan collapsed onto his back and stared up into the sky. Now that the immediate dangers were over with, his mind was drawn back to the village.
“I wonder if everyone back at the village is doing okay” he thought. He then sat up and shook his head to clear his mind of the doubtful thoughts “Of course they are Lan, you got to stay positive. Right now I got to focus on recovering; I won’t be able to get back to the village in the sorry state I’m in now! They’ll probably just be angry that I snuck out! But that will be fine once I show them this g—“
A fit of coughing behind him snapped him out of his thought. He whipped around and stared in the direction of the old man, who was now twitching and choking.
Realizing what was happening; Lan made his way over to the old man and then turned him onto his side. The old sputtered one more time and spat out a fist size glob of mucus that he had been choking on. He then groaned and then slowly opened his eyes. He seemed confused for a few minutes and then lifted up his hand and stared up at it. His eyes widened in surprise and he began moving his body in various positions, patting himself here and there as if he had lost something.
“My body” he whispered, “It’s mine again, Oh after all these years!” he tried to sit up, but cried out in pain and spat out a wad of blood.
“Whoa! Careful old man” Lan said “You’re not in any condition to move.”
The old man slowly turned around and looked at Lan. His eyes widened as he stared at the boy, recognition showing on his face and all of a sudden he started laughing and crying, tears ran down his face like rain and his body twitched in pain with every laugh. Lan stared at the old man, confused.
“Um, are you okay?” Lan inquired.
“Okay!?” the old man said, his eyes filled with half-insanity and hope “I’m better than okay! I’m great! I’m stupendous! Oh I haven’t felt this elated in so long!”
He then turned his head upwards and continued to laugh while Lan sat there feeling awkward. After a few minutes the old man’s jubilation died out and he turned over to look at Lan.
“You’ve grown so much boy.” he said with a smile “just look at the how much you’ve grown. You probably have a name now if you know how to speak. Could I hear it?”
Lan felt electricity run through his spine at these words. The old man knew who he was, but seeing as he didn’t know his name, the old man must not have met him after coming to the village, that means he knew Lan from before Lan arrived at the village. It’s possible that he could have been a member of his biological family.
“It’s L-Lan” answered Lan shakily. “Umm, G-grandpa?” Lan asked in a timid voice “Are you my grandpa?”
The old man laughed weakly and slowly shook his head.
“We’re not family boy, don’t worry.” The old man said with a slight grin. At this comment, Lan’s head drooped slightly. “But I have known you since you came into this world.” The old man responded, seeing Lan’s disappointment.
Lan’s head shot up again. His eyes were wide again and his breath beginning to fluctuate with anticipation.
“Who are you?” Lan asked
“My name is Ansel” the old man replied, “a member of the Order of Dawn.”
“Never heard of it” Lan said nonchalantly, scratching his head with his foot.
“It’s not surprising” he said with a chuckle “Our order withdrew from the public eye long ago…Would you like to hear the story of its creation and your birth?”
“Gladly” Lan said with a smile “I need time to rest anyway.”
Ansel smiled, then he turned his vision towards the sky and his eyes then glazed over as he began to recount the order’s history.
“The order was founded many years ago, by those who had lost their loved ones to the Grimm. It had only one purpose, to exterminate all Grimm in the world, no matter the cost. At that time, the rest of society found the order’s methods a little…extreme, so our founders secluded themselves far away from the rest of mankind so that they could pursue their noble goal without obstruction!”
The fervor in Ansel’s voice was increasing at this point but, unnoticed by him, Lan was beginning to fall asleep. But even half-asleep, Lan was able to pull the key provisions out of the man’s speech. The order was shunned by the rest of society due to its disregard for human life, only focusing on the destruction of Grimm and making hundreds of needless sacrifices in many battles. The order also never had a shortage of new recruits, due to the many people that lost loved ones to the Grimm and were also swallowed by hatred for the beasts. But after many years, the order lost contact with the rest of society and had transformed into a kind of traditionalistic society that lived within an ancient castle far far away from any other human settlement, where warriors were trained generation after generation to battle Grimm, with new members joining every once in while (mostly survivors of Grimm attacks who got lost in the woods near the order’s castle). Of course they did send people out every once in a while to bring back information about the newest technologies and discoveries on the weaknesses of Grimm. But they mostly kept to themselves, always trying to find a way to eliminate the Grimm once and for all.
Realizing how rude it was to be drowsy during a man’s life story, Lan shook himself awake and gave his full attention. By this time, Ansel was beginning to talk about his own past.
“I was once a miner” Ansel said in a nostalgic voice “I was an employee of the Schnee dust company and worked in one of the many dust quarries they owned, one near the sea and surrounded by a forest. Due to the low wages I couldn’t afford a home, so my wife and kids came to live with me at the employee quarters, where our basic needs were provided. While I worked at the quarry, they would take care of everything at home from cleaning our modest living quarters to trapping game in the surrounding wilderness to supplement our meager food supply. It was a hard life, but it was bearable, and even under those conditions, we were able to live a happy life together…That is” Ansel said, his voice hardening “Until the night they came.”
Ansel then turned his head and looked Lan in the eyes.
“The quarry we worked at was far away from any of the kingdoms. So, it was hard to get to or from that area. We had some security personnel there, but there weren’t enough of them…not nearly enough, especially not enough brave ones. One night after everyone had fallen asleep; our camp was attacked by Grimm. The security tried to fight them back, but they were completely overwhelmed. The brave men and women fought back against them to their dying breathes, but the cowards took the only transportation vehicles and fled before any of the noncombatants had a chance to evacuate…Those cowards, left us to die and from what I remember there were still at least 100 empty seats left. So many people died before my eyes that night, so many men and women that I had shared blood sweat and tears with.”
Ansel closed his eyes at this point; tears were welling up in them now and his breathing was growing more labored. Lan sat in awkward silence as he waited for the old man to calm down. After a few minutes Ansel calmed down and turned back to Lan.
“I managed to lead my family away from the quarry” he said with a calm voice “we managed to get as far as the cliffside, but by then we were caught by a group of ursa. I tried to protect them as best I could, but I wasn’t a trained warrior. The ursa tore me apart, breaking my bones and rending my flesh until I could barely move. Once I was down, they turned their attention towards my family and surrounded them.”
Ansel was beginning to hyperventilate now, and Lan was beginning to grow more and more concerned as he felt the old man’s sadness.
“I tried to help them” Ansel said, the memory filling his voice with desperation “I pulled myself up and ran over to help them...but I was too weak and was knocked off the Cliffside by a blow from one of the ursa. The last thing I remembered before the waves took me” Ansel said, tears streaming down his face “was the sound of my family screaming as I fell down into the darkness below.”
Ansel broke down in tears at this point. The wolves looked at each other and shifted around, feeling rather awkward. Lan felt a tear trickle down the side of his face, he had always been a very empathetic boy and could almost feel the emotional pain that came from that experience. After a few minutes Ansel stopped crying and got back control of his breathing. He then continued his story, his eyes now swollen and red.
“After drifting for a while, I ended up on a beach near the order’s headquarters. They found me and treated my wounds, and after I told them my story, I was offered a membership into their ranks. Not having anything else to live for, I accepted. I would have done anything to make those Grimm pay. After going through their training and learning their waves, I eventually became a mid-ranking member. I lived every day by killing Grimm and training new recruits. True, the scars of my past would never leave me, but being there was like living with a new family, especially when I got to teach the young ones. The sad part however was the high mortality rate that came from our constant battles. But” he said with strength “those men and women died for what they believed in and had no regrets.” He smiled again, but suddenly realized that he had gone off topic “Right, and as for you, well… I had been a member for 25 years, and had settled into the lifestyle, living every day of my life following the order’s doctrines and ideals.”
Ansel sighed, and then smiled as he looked up into the sky.
“Of course…I knew that our efforts were in vain. We didn’t have the slightest clue on how to end the Grimm once and for all. If anyone knew the way, they probably would have done it by now. I began living my days out in a daze, doing what the order asked of me and enjoying my life with my new comrades…but that all changed the day we found that place.”
Tension was now creeping into Ansel’s voice as he recounted their discovery.
“Some of the members were digging in the middle of the order’s courtyard; they were planning on building a new storage facility. But while they were digging they unearthed a strange stone, written in an old language. They brought some of our scholar’s to look at it, and the scholars found that the stone mentioned mankind’s origins, of our birth from dust and our emergence into a world filled with Grimm. Our leaders were amazed that there had been such a thing, hidden right under the order’s nose for such a long time…then again construction of the new storage facility only began after some of the older more traditionalistic leaders died. Anyway, the order began excavating immediately, and after digging through piles of dense earth and moving hundreds of stones, they uncovered what appeared to be ruins.”
Ansel’s description of the ruins was garbled, and was filled with ambiguous language and unclear descriptions, but Lan eventually pieced the image together in his head. It apparently consisted of a large stone tablet surrounded by 4 ancient stone pillars with ruts that lead to a stone bowl in the center, the area inside the pillars was around the size of the courtyard and the pillars were cylindrical and around 2 stories high.
“After we had excavated it” Ansel continued “we built a ramshackle building around the site to protect it from the elements, and all the while we researched the writings that were inscribed all around the ruins. From what we could decipher, this temple was a conduit for the dust.”
“You mean like the energy we use today?” Lan asked
“No, not that dust. By dust, I mean the substance that was there in the beginning. The very thing that brought mankind into existence!”
“Ohhhhhhh” Lan said in understanding “But what does all this have to do with me?”
“I’m getting there” Ansel said with a smile “Anyways, after researching the writings in the temple for a while longer, we discovered that the dust interacted with the temple at random intervals of time, each pulse able to create miracles in our world. The reason nothing had happened the entire time our order was there was probably because being underground had disrupted the conduit it some way. Once all of the translations had been finished, it was found that the ruins were a temple of sorts to conduct the dust, and from miniscule energy readings that the ruins were giving off our researchers were able to discover that a pulse would manifest there in a short time.
Our leaders grew excited when they found this out, and began preparations for the event. The ruins were filled with all kinds of sensitive monitoring equipment. They didn’t know what would happen when the dust interacted with the temple, but they weren’t going to let that energy go to waste. Before the estimated day of the pulse arrived, we gathered our finest warriors and most brilliant scientists into the ruins to prepare for whatever might happen. Once we had all gathered, we waited for a few hours in quiet anticipation, but nothing happened initially. Not wanting to miss anything, many of our members set up sleeping arrangements and prepared for a long wait. It actually continued like this for a few days, many of our constituents grew restless during this time and there was a heavy air floating around almost every day. But it was all worth it for that one night.”
Ansel took a deep breath and stared into the sky, once he continued, his voice was filled with awe.
“It was midnight and almost everybody was asleep, there were a few people discussing important matters near all the equipment, but it was mostly quiet. I had just woken up and was uh…relieving myself in some of the bushes nearby, since the bathrooms had broken from overuse, when…Oh don’t give me that look” Ansel said, seeing Lan’s raised eyebrows “I didn’t want to miss anything”
“It’s okay” Lan said, smiling “me and grandpa do it all the time, and as a result I have learned what not to use as toilet paper.”
“Oh well that’s quite uhh inter—“
“And you should smell it when grandpa finishes” interrupted Lan “It smells 100 times worse than on old toilet that’s been unflushed for a week. Yeah that rabbit he used to wipe one time must not have been happy.”
This time it was Ansel’s turn to stare at Lan, and after shaking his head and grumbling about interruptions, he returned to his story.
“I heard yelling coming from back inside the ruins, so I hurried up and headed back in. When I entered I saw that the tops of the pillars were glowing with a blinding light, and energy was leading down the ruts in the ground toward the bowl in the center. Machines were being switched on left and right to analyze the energy, but as soon as a single mote of that energy entered one of the machines they malfunctioned and exploded, so we were forced to just watch. The light began collecting in the bowl at the center, after a while an orb of energy formed and the light coming from the pillars dimmed. One of the researchers tried to retrieve it and analyze it, but all of a sudden the orb started to suck material towards it, this scared the poor fellow behind one of the broken machines. The suction wasn’t that strong, so no one got pulled in, but more energy from the pillars as well as random bits of matter were getting sucked into the orb. The temple was beginning to shake at this point, then all of a sudden the orb released a pillar of energy that blew the roof off of the makeshift building we had constructed and reached into the sky. Once the energy reached a certain height, it began sucking in the heavens around it. I could have sworn that I saw clouds and stars being pulled into the pillar and sent to the orb at the bottom, including what appeared to be a strange blue meteorite. The energy was so fierce that no one was able to go near the orb until a little while later when the pillar began to disappear and the force faded away. Eventually all that was left was the orb, just floating there in mid-air above the bowl. One of the other researchers then walked towards the sphere again, he should have learned from the previous fella. At that moment the sphere exploded, releasing a shockwave that blasted all of us, as well as our equipment, outside the ruins and destroyed the building we had erected. I remember crashing to the ground and feeling sick, but after a little while I got my bearings together, got back up, and assessed the situation. Many of our members were scattered all about the area, some were up like I was, but most of them were still lying on the ground. A few seconds later there was a cracking noise and the 4 pillars collapsed, sending stone and dust in all directions. I believed that this event had been a failure and was beginning to call to have the place cleaned up. But then I heard people shouting and saw a crowd gathering around the stone bowl. I ran over and muscled my way through the crowd, but once I got through I was struck dumb by what I saw lying there in the now cracked bowl.”
Ansel then paused for dramatic effect, and stared at Lan with a smile.
“It was me wasn’t it?” Lan said with awe in his voice.
“That it was my friend” Ansel said beaming and chuckling “that it was! When the leaders saw you, they began to contemplate what this could possibly mean, but soon after a band of Grimm attacked our order, they were led by the humanoid Grimm. They probably felt the creation of some new entity and came do destroy it. I was ordered to get you to safety by the leaders, so I grabbed some necessities, my weapon, and fled the order through an underground route.”
Ansel then began to describe his flight through the woods with Lan in his arms, his run ins with Grimm, and Lan’s mysterious power. He then described the time he had spent, trapped as the Grimm’s vessel. After he finished his story, he turned to Lan, his eyes bright.
“All that time I spent trapped gave me a lot of time to think about things, even if my thoughts were garbled by darkness, and I think I have understood some things about you boy.”
“What?” Lan asked with an interested smile.
“Long ago, all of mankind was born form the dust. It could have happened just like it did with you. But this time instead of creating a whole new race, only you were created! And most importantly, while inside the Grimm I discovered that they believed you to be a threat to them. Do you know what this means?!”
Ansel was hyperventilating now, no longer able to contain his excitement. Lan was leaning forward in anticipation, eager to hear Ansel’s revelation.
“It means that you might have the potential of an entire civilization! You who are human but at the same time vastly different, can bring about phenomenal changes in this world, perhaps even the end of the Grimm! Ha Ha. And with what I just saw you do to the Grimm that possessed me, I am even further convinced of the possibilities you could bring about! Tell me, how old you are right now boy, while I was ensnared by that foul creature I lost track of time.”
“Five and a half” Lan said, still soaking in the information he had just heard “At least that’s what doctor Krueger said my biological age was.”
“Five” Ansel said amazed “Just 5 years old and able to defeat a creature most adults wouldn’t stand a chance against!”
“I never would have gotten this strong without grandpa though” said Lan, blusing.
Ansel burst out in laughter, his joy lightening up the glade. “I really have to thank that man then” he said
“So does this mean I’m a legendary hero brought to this land by fate?” Lan said, his eyes sparkling and his voice filled with childhood innocence.
“Maybe” Ansel said chuckling “but only after, Arghhh!”
Ansel cried out in pain, his supine form convulsing in pain.
Alarmed Lan ran over to Ansel and began checking him, and to his surprise found a hole in the man’s chest.
“What the” Lan said confused “This wasn’t here earlier.”
“It’s…alright boy” Ansel said with a smile “I actually was supposed to have died years ago, back at the docks. What kept me alive long enough to have that conversation with you was the remnants of the Grimm’s energy that had infected me…It seems that it’s about gone now.”
Ansel coughed and spat out a blob of blood. Lan looked down helplessly at the old man, wondering what he could do.
“You must listen to me now” Ansel said “The Grimm that came after you when you were born into this world is at you village right now, you’ve got to get away from here. Far away, to one of the 4 kingdoms, apply for hunter training and get into one of the legendary combat schools. There I know you can realize your true destiny!”
“I can’t just leave my family behind” Lan said “besides, we’ll be fine, the barriers up and a lot of them are really stro—”
Lan stopped as he saw Ansel shaking his head.
“While I was possessed by that Grimm crystal, I shared a mental link with that original humanoid Grimm which is currently at the village. It has already destroyed the barrier surrounding your village and routed the militia. It won’t be long before it ends everyone in the vicinity.”
Lan’s eyes were wide with shock, the news crashing down on him like an avalanche. But he didn’t even think for a second about what he would do. He got up, told some of the wolves to look after Ansel, and turned in the direction of the village, the few able bodied wolves following him. Ignis bounded over to wanting to help, but Lan’s intense gaze halted his advance.
“What are you doing!?” Ansel yelled out, alarmed “that village is already lost! And besides, what can you possibly do with a few injured wolves and both of your arms broken!? You had a tough battle with the Grimm that possessed me and barely won even though you were in near top condition and had these wolves helping you. The one at the village is far more powerful, you won’t stand a chance!”
Lan turned his head and fixed Ansel with an intense stare.
“That thing came here because of me, and that means I got to fix this…I know it’s stupid, but I’ll never be able to live with myself if I just run away like a coward” he said quietly “Besides, how can I save the world if I can’t even protect the people near me?”
Lan then took off in the direction of the village. Ansel screamed at him to come back, yelling that he was far too important to risk for a few old villagers. Eventually Ansel lost sight of Lan, and he stopped yelling. Almost all his energy was spent at this point. He could feel the Grimm energy that had kept him alive fading. His soul was slowly losing its connection with the physical world and his consciousness was beginning to fade. All his old wounds hap reappeared and his life’s blood had begun leaking out of him. The wolves around him were licking his wounds, trying in vain to save him.
“Please” Ansel whispered with the last of his strength “Someone…save…our hope.”
With that, Ansel breathed his last breath and died, his soul beginning its journey to the next plane.
“How do those chicken wings taste?” Byakko said laughing. He had just pulled a nevermore from the air, tore off its wings and shoved them down its throat. The Nevermore was of course dead at this point, but Byakko could never resist making a bad joke. He had enjoyed the battle with the Grimm, saying weird puns (some clever and some absolutely stupid), while he destroyed them in strange (and somewhat deranged) ways.
Laughing, he dashed away from the Nevermore and grabbed and ursa around the throat. He opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it and touched the tip of his chin with the forefinger of his other hand thinking. His archives of combat puns had been mostly depleted at this point, and he couldn’t think of anything new. He then shrugged his shoulders and threw the ursa into the air.
“I have run out of witty fight puns!” Byakko exclaimed.
He then smashed his aura infused hands together, which created a shockwave that obliterated all the Grimm in a 20m radius surrounding him. Laughing, he prepared to dash into the next group of Grimm. But all of a sudden he felt a chill run down his spine and heard a ghostly whisper.
“Please…Someone…save…him.” The ghostly voice said.
Byakko looked over his shoulder and saw now one. His instincts were now suppressing his adrenaline and bloodlust, and he could feel in the pits of his stomach that something was wrong. Something was going to happen to Lan, he just knew it. He had to get back to the village as soon as possible, but he couldn’t just leave all these Grimm to their own devices.
“Sorry my friends” Byakko said, his voice now serious “Looks like I don’t have time to play around anymore.”
A white energy began to emanate from Byakko’s body, covering his body like a silvery fire. He then roared, charge at the remaining Grimm, and within seconds the massacre began.