Chronicles of Juan: the sleeping dragon of Budehuc

Chapter 1: The challenge

Disclaimer: I don't own anyone, or anything, from the Suikoden universe, except for the people I made up. Those belonging to Konami has signed a contract with me in order to get more than just 15 minutes of fame. Well, most of them anyway. The rest were threatened into signing.

The fight for Grassland has ended. The grasslanders had returned to rebuild their damaged villages and tribes, and the Zexens had returned to their castles, not to close their doors on Grasslands once again, but to try to open it further. The Harmonian army had, likewise, returned to their posts, determined never to let such a disaster happen again. At least, not by their hands. Aside from them, there is another small group that, while not constituting an army, played a pivotal role in averting the destruction of the continent. A small castle town by the name of Budehuc.

It was a peaceful day, like most others after the war ended. Birds were perched on the branches of trees, singing the songs of summer. The men and women were walking around the town square, with its small, but beautiful fountain. The men, strangely similar to each other, and women, also strangely similar to each other, carried on their daily chores, thankful for the peace that reigned in the castle. It is the perfect picture of a rural paradise…

"JUUAANNN!"

…OK…maybe not so perfect. A red haired girl wearing an oriental leotard was running around the castle grounds, shouting at the top of her lungs.

"JUAN! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?!", on and on she screamed as she ran towards the stables, then into the castle basement, the food storage, the bath and ship, the storeroom, and so on until she finally crashed into something or someone and fell backwards. The person she crashed into didn't fare any better. As the redhead got up, she looked at the person, or thing, that she crashed into. It was a barrel with wheels and limbs. And it talks.

"BzztWatch where you are going, lady Emily! My body's only made of wood!", the barrel said with a metallic twang. Emily smiled sheepishly and scratched her head.

"Sorry about that, Gadget Z, but I am trying to find Juan. That idiot overslept and forgot his training again! That's the 3rd time this week!", she said. The barrel raised an arm to signify 'apology accepted'.

"Actually, I saw him going towards the gate just a few minutes ago. You might have missed each other", the barrel said as it stood up.

"Thanks! Just you wait, goldbrick gang boss…", Emily said as she dusted herself. Once that's done, she ran full tilt towards the gate. She managed to brake in time this time before she rammed into what looked like a small tin man with a skirt.

"Hey, Cecile, where's Juan?!", Emily asked the tin man, who turned with a lot of clanking to reveal that the tin man was actually a young girl with a suit of armor that's several times her size.

"Oh, if you're looking for him, I just saw him going back to the dojo. He said he wanted to get in some practice", she said in a strangely cute voice.

"Heh, that's a first", Emily muttered. "That slacker never comes into the dojo before noon. Wonder if it's going to rain", she continued as she walked back towards the dojo, not bothering to thank Cecile for that little bit of information. True enough, as soon as she stepped into the dojo, she could see the blonde bujutsu master clad in blue kimono striking at a wooden dummy set up at the back of the place.

She watched as he first threw a fast left palm to the face, which was swiftly followed with an elbow to the arm, done with the same arm. At the same time the elbow landed, his right hand shot out a spear-hand towards the neck, followed quickly with an advancing elbow towards the chest with the same arm. At the same time the elbow landed, his left palm struck the stomach of the dummy. He finished with a powerful right front thrust kick, making the dummy, and the dojo, shake.

It has been many months since she first trained with him, and it still surprises her how much power he could generate within his barrage of strikes. A normal person would have died by the second hit. An armored man, perhaps by the 3rd. A monster, well, it's almost surely dead by the last blow. She had the same kind of striking power. In fact, she can hit harder than him. She doesn't have the ability to chain as much as 10 strikes together, however. Juan told her it's because she's too 'rough' with her strikes. Whatever that means.

Juan noticed her looking at him and stopped his training sequence. He quickly turned and walked towards her. His steps were brisk, full of purpose. She had never seen him move like that outside of battles.

"Wh, what?", she said once Juan was standing right in front of her.

"I need to ask you a favor", he said as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.

"If this is about helping teach your students while you're slacking off somewhere, forget it", she replied quickly, waving her left arm to emphasize the point. Juan waved his right in response.

"You're half right, but I won't be slacking off. I have some business to take care of", he said again. The look on her face and her crossed arms told him she didn't believe him. He sighed. "I need to do some intensive training for the next month. I won't have the time to train the students", he continued.

"You really think I'm going to fall for that?", she said slowly. Juan scratched his head and sighed again. After a moment of pondering, he pulled out something from within his robe.

"Read this", he said as he handed the thing to Emily. She took the tattered and somewhat soiled letter. It was brownish and folded in an oriental style. From Dunan, perhaps? She opened the letter after glancing to see where it is from. There was no address or sender identification, just a crimson rope binding the letter. It reads…

You know who I am, master of Budehuc dojo.

Prepare yourself, for I shall come to claim what is rightfully mine in 5 moons.

I sincerely hope you will put up more of a challenge than your father.

Emily read through the 3 lines several times, making sure she didn't misread it. Satisfied, she handed the letter back to Juan. He took it and shoved it back into his robe. She looked into his eyes. She could see an intensity she never sensed before. He never gave much of a damn about pretty much anything. Not even when he's fighting for his life.

"Who was that from?", she asked. He frowned in confusion. 'Didn't she read the letter?', he thought.

"You read it. It was from the guy who killed my old man", he replied. Emily sighed. 'Men can be so dense', she thought, and talking about dense, Juan is right up there on her list.

"I know that. What I want is his name", she said. Juan formed an 'oh' with his mouth and nodded.

"No idea", he replied bluntly.

"What about his occupation?", she asked again.

"Beats me", he shrugged.

"Well, what about his style?", she asked for the 3rd time.

"Can't remember", he said, shrugging again. Emily sighed and slapped her forehead.

"Is there anything that you can tell me about this guy at all?", she asked again. Juan thought for a while, looking at the clouds for hints. After several seconds, he turned to her and shook his head. She sighed. Only Juan can forget all the details about his mortal enemy and not care about it.

"Well, you better train hard and beat him. If you lose, we might lose the dojo", she said. Juan's face fell slightly, just enough to be noticed. Emily wondered what this signifies.

"That's a given. He'll take it, and everything in it", he said. She sighed and shook her head.

"Well, we can always build a new one", she replied. Juan waved his finger in a 'no, no, no' motion, shaking his head while doing so. Emily frowned and looked at him questioningly.

"If it ever comes to that, I will have to rebuild the dojo alone, because when I said everything in the dojo, I meant everything", he said again. His tone of voice never changed, but the news still managed to sound ugly.

"Everything, as in…", Emily began, half-afraid to finish the sentence. Juan nodded.

"Everything, including furniture, food, students, and staff, and that includes you", he finished for her and walked off before she could say anything else.

'This can't be good', she thought, angry and worried.

'Well, as much as I hate to lose the family dojo, and my only staff member, I better prepare for it', he thought, nonchalant.

After leaving Emily to her thoughts, he entered the dojo and walked towards a sealed door. There were paper talismans stuck all over it. He placed his hand on the knob and turned it. The door opened with a rusty creak. The room behind it was full of dust and filled with cobwebs. It had remained untouched for more than 3 years.

It used to be a library of sorts, a place for storing valuable scrolls. They are all still here. Juan had memorized most of them by the time he turned 13, and had practiced and honed his skills using them. He sealed those that he doesn't know so that he could focus on what he already does. Now, as one of the greatest threats await him, he returns to seek knowledge once again.

He went to the back of the room and pulled out a small, dusty, rusty box. The locking mechanism had broken and could not be opened. He had to literally pry the lid off using his fingers. When it did came off, he took out the scroll hidden within and looked at the letters written at the side. 'Sui Lo Han', it said. He smiled and went out of the room. He locked the door again once he was outside.

'This scroll', he thought, 'will be the one thing to lead me to victory….I hope'.

End of Chapter 1

AN: Kinda short…I hope it gets longer. Anyway, for this story, I will be borrowing heavily, or maybe not so heavily, from Chinese martial arts novels and Hong Kong martial arts films. Those of you who are familiar with this genre might know some of the stuff I'll be putting out later on in the story. I expect to borrow a few things from the Condor Heroes series, some from the King of Beggar movie, some from To Liong To(also known as Dragon Sabre and Heaven Sword…or something like that), and others the I can't quite put a name to yet at the moment.

Enjoy!

And review, please!