"Hyah!" A small boy, the age of 7, clumsily swung a wooden practice sword around as he trained in a wide-open field.
The kid's footsteps were sloppy, in fact, there were numerous times where he slipped over his own feet; his coordination was a mess, yet he continued with his practice all the same.
Off to his side were five teenagers, nearing the age of adulthood. They sparred together, sharing pointers with one another. Occasionally, one of them - wielding a slim practice sword - would rebuke the child like a master to their disciple.
The others laughed and teased, showing off their own movements which, while not perfect, held their own style of fluidity.
In the distance, an elder stood alongside a couple, watching the child with wide smiles. The elder was an old man, donning a simple light-blue robe. The couple consisted of a handsome man in his mid-thirties, he had a head of light blue hair and blue eyes, and a pretty woman who had short brown hair and steady green eyes, revealing a capable bearing.
The old man spoke, "Hehe. Only three more years before he'll test his bloodline awakening."
"Father, what stage do you think Icrin will be able to awaken his bloodline to?" Questioned the handsome man.
The old man paused, pondering his thoughts before smiling brightly, "I'm not sure, Ced. As he's the grandson of I, Astrona Krose, I'm sure little Icrin will give quite the surprise. Maybe he'll be able to awaken his bloodline to the fourth stage!"
"Eh? Even I only managed to awaken my bloodline to the third stage, awakening the third stage isn't likely, let alone the fourth." Ced shook his head exasperatedly.
The pretty woman immediately refuted Ced, "Hmph, my dear Icrin will easily surpass you, with or without a higher staged bloodline."
Hearing her tone, Ced gave way, raising the white flag of surrender in panic, "Yes, yes, of course my dear, Faline. At the end of the day, he's 'our' dear Icrin, so I naturally hope for his success as well."
"Hmph! However, we need to adjust his training. I don't think his attitude is fit for one who walks the path of the sword." Faline spoke bluntly.
Ced flashed a smile in agreement, "Hmm. Let alone I, even Phu noticed that - you can almost see the frantic tears in Phu's eyes, haha! Anyways, Icrin lacks the steadiness of the blade... So, what do you propose?"
"Naturally, he should adopt my family's technique - walking down the path of the bo staff. My Sil family is small enough as it is. At the least, let me impart a technique unique to my family onto Icrin; he already has your Krose bloodline and techniques engraved in his future after all."
Before Ced could even respond, Astrona's old laughter chimed in, "Haha, Brilliant! With our Krose clan bloodline and techniques, coupled with your Sil family's masterful controlling technique of the bo staff, Icrin will surely have a bright future ahead of him!"
In the distance, Icrin came to a pause as he looked towards his family, before his friends urged him on in laughter; he continued in their direction excitedly, "Mother, Father, Gramps! How'd I do?!"
Astrona erupted into cheers, "Brilliant, my grandson! Absolutely brilliant!"
"You did good, Icrin. Perhaps one day, you'll match me in terms of strength, maybe handsomeness as well. Heh- Ah! " Ced joked before yelping in pain, Faline having stepped on his foot.
Her smile beamed, "As they said, you were brilliant. Keep working hard, and you'll surpass your father easily."
"Really?" Icrin asked, a pair of dark blue eyes lighting up like stars
Faline pressed on mischievously, "Of course! However, what do you say about switching to a different weapon?"
Icrin pouted, "Huh? Am I not good enough to use a sword?"
"Uh? Of course not! But I have a special, unparalleled technique from my family; it's meant for the bo staff, not the sword. Don't worry, the bo staff is a fascinating weapon, and I'm sure you'll love training with it!" Faline spoke, her green eyes blossoming into deep fanaticism.
"Oh, I'll give it a try then...." Icrin nodded his head obediently, a slither of doubt in his mind.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Almost two years passed, the now 9-year-old Icrin was training in the same wide-open field as before. Rather than practicing with a sword, however, he was portraying a nimble technique as he wielded a long, light brown bo staff.
Icrin swung the staff rapidly in a complex manner before slowing down, returning his style to one of simplicity. For almost two years, he placed all of his focus on comprehending the profound meaning behind the Bo-Sil Technique, the special technique from his mother's family, the Sil Family.
He allocated a portion of his time every day to the bo staff, training with all his energy, until one day when he finally felt a trace of the core meaning behind the technique - the idea of being "born of the forest". Immediately, Icrin closed his eyes and kept swinging the bo staff around his body.
There was a special kind of charm as the staff danced around his body, slithering gracefully like a serpent. Sometimes, the staff moved in a speedy, yet steadfast manner before suddenly transitioning to a style that seemed slow and calm - if not for the aura of dominance that emanated from the staff. There was a constant cycle as Icrin smoothly transitioned back and forth between the two styles.
Naturally, time waits for nobody; and so the day and night cycle continued unceasingly.
Astrona, Ced, and Faline watched over Icrin protectively, even forming a type of barrier around the proximity, preventing others from nearing him.
The reason was simple, Icrin was experiencing a special type of epiphany - a sudden enlightenment. He seemed to have merged and become one with the bo staff and vice-versa.
"You see that, Ced?! I told you, my dear Icrin has an absolute affinity with my family's Bo-Sil Technique!" Faline boasted joyfully as she clung tightly onto Ced's arm.
Ced smiled wryly, "Yes, 'our' dear Icrin is very talented and hardworking, but please stop pinching me in excitement."
Aged laughter followed, "Haha. See that? I told you! Any grandson of I, Astrona Krose, isn't ordinary!"
"AH! Father, my wife pinching me in excitement is one thing, but damn! Why are you doing the same exact thing? And you're using so much more strength! Agh! The two of you are just like ticks! Ai. You and Faline are more similar to each other, than you are to me, and I'm your own son!" Ced expressed a soliloquy in indignation, his existence disregarded by those around him.
Astrona shook his head begrudgingly, his eyes looking towards the distant future, "Stop whining, especially on such a joyous occasion! And don't forget, Icrin is nearing the time for his bloodline awakening. Only one more year...."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Astrona sighed nostalgically as he looked at the sleeping boy, "Ai. He's 10-years-old already, where has all the time gone? A child's world of simplicity and purity... it only lasts so long, huh?"
"The world isn't so bad, father. Your outlook is just far too negative." Ced shook his head with a smile.
Astrona's eyes held back a sadness, "I hope so, Ced. I truly do."
Faline impeded, "Ced! Did you invite Icrin's friends over? It's his 10th birthday after all, I'm sure he's looking forward to Haz, Tsyun, and the others coming over, no?"
Ced whispered to Astrona, "Such simplicity and purity... after meeting Faline, I'm afraid you might be right about that." Ced then yelled out quickly, "Of course, dear, I'll be right back."
Astrona chuckled softly as Ced hurried off in mock-fright, closing his eyes as time continued to pass.
An hour had passed by, Ced had returned alongside a retinue of young adults, among which were the quintet of Haz's group. Their faces were still immature and clean - yet to be marked by the flames of battle and the scars of life.
"Hey, Ced, where's Icrin at?" Haz asked.
"Sleeping right now. And watch your way of speaking to me, Haz. Pretty soon, you'll be calling me elder. Hmm, why not start calling me Elder Brother for that matter, huh?" Ced placed his hand on his chin thoughtfully.
Haz smiled darkly as he pushed up his glasses, "Hmph. In your dreams, Ced. I'll definitely catch up to you. Maybe I'll even be a grand elder, huh?"
Ichi questioned, "Hoy! Icrin's really sleeping? At a time like this? It's his tenth birthday, there's no way he could be that calm, right?"
"Uh-hm. I still need to check out how far he has developed his bo staff technique. Even if he has relinquished the sword, I will make sure to help him hone his ability. Shin, wake him up, wont you?" Phu instigated.
Shin smiled obnoxiously, "Hehe. Just leave it to me, will you?" He entered the house, approaching the door to Icrin's room. Grabbing the handle, the door creaked open with a small turn.
"Wakey-wakey!" He laughed sheepishly, approaching the bed. Covering the bed was a blanket, under which clearly lie a moderate-sized figure. "Still asleep?" Shin smiled, yanking the blanket from the bed.
Silence. Absolute silence.
Everyone was in shock, their gazes blank - under the blanket were nothing more than two pillows, making up the size of Icrin's body.
While they were shocked, no one expressed any sort of panic. After all, Icrin was quite the trickster himself; not to mention, the village itself was safe.
In their shock, no one had noticed Tsyun slip away from the group. He left the house, cross the pavement towards the far end of the village, more specifically - the five statues and Ancestral Hall.
Tsyun thought to himself, 'Hmph. That rascal! It took Ichi's speculation for me to understand the situation. After all, how could Icrin sleep in on such an occasion? He's probably been eagerly awaiting his bloodline awakening the entire night, huh?' Amidst his train of thoughts, he couldn't help but ponder over giving him a good whooping.
For Tsyun to figure it out, it was only natural the others would come to realize it as well. After all, considering Icrin was a child, it wasn't all that difficult to realize what had happened. As for why they hadn't realized it sooner, much had to do with the factor of surprise and calmness.
The village hadn't encountered many disturbances since its creation, their lives dedicated to simple tranquility. The sole source of action for the village was generally hunting, and so, the village was lax in terms of regulations. Furthermore, there was the stone wall and reinforced gates which served as security for the village.
"Truly your child, Ced." Astrona held his head tiredly.
"Your grandson!" He refuted.
Faline sighed, "Ai. Truly your child."
Ced could almost cough blood, "Oh? You say he's my child, now? Any other time you say: 'my child.' Hah. Never mind that, let's get going. I'd hate for Icrin to awaken his bloodline while we're not there to see it."
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Together the group set out towards the statues and Ancestral Hall.
Six statues entered their view. The bird, fox, snake, wolf, bear - and Icrin?
At this moment, Icrin stood still, his face so pale that he looked lifeless. Considering how life-like the statues were, and how lifeless Icrin looked, one couldn't help but question which was the actual statue.
Behind him stood Tsyun, a ghastly gaze in his eyes, "Icrin, do you enjoy causing unnecessary trouble?"
Icrin yelped in fright, laughing nervously, "N-n-no! Of course not, elder brother Tsyun. He... hehe...." As the group came into view, his eyes lit up, it was as if his saviors had arrived.
His parents and grandfather's gazes held a sense of malevolence, and so, Icrin decided the only logical thing to do was, "Eldest brother Haz! Help! Please! Phu, your sword techniques, I wish to see them before I am to die! Please! Ichi, your cooking, one last taste, I beg! And Shin! Your muscles, I wish to see what they can do in battle! Just once, just once!" He cried out desperately, appealing to each of them individually.
The four of them weren't fools, they knew what he was doing. But, that didn't matter. There was a certain satisfaction that insured they'd act, and so, they prepared to take action against Tsyun, who seemed not like a demon, but a devil from the depths of Hell.
"Settle down now, children." An old man in a flashy black and white robe spoke up, only blissfulness present in his voice.
Behind him was another man donning the same colored robe, smiling ear-to-ear from all the lively activity.
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