He would never forget the shocked expression on his twin's face when he casually asked during their morning training...
"So how old did you get before you reincarnated?"
Tang San actually stumbled and tripped on nothing when his twin Fon asked him that question.
"What?" he said shocked.
"I said how old were you before you were reincarnated into this life?" repeated Fon, enjoying the expression on his brother's face just a wee bit too much.
Tang San gave him an odd look.
"How do you know I was reincarnated?"
"Because I was. It's not hard to pick up on the fact we both display an unusual degree of maturity and skill for our age, or the fact that we know training methods that are unheard of in this area," said Fon. "Really, I would have thought you would have picked up on it already that you're not alone."
If there was one thing Tang San could appreciate about his slightly younger twin, it was the fact Fon didn't beat around the bush. He was sometimes too blunt, in all honesty.
"...Twenty-five," he admitted. "I stole a scroll teaching a forbidden technique and completed a weapon that hadn't been seen in centuries that was only available to the inner sect, and decided that rather than suffer disgrace I would cast myself off a mountain. I made sure they got back everything that belonged to the clan though."
"Eighty, and I died in my sleep. I spent over thirty years cursed to the body of a toddler because some demi-god couldn't be bothered to find a better solution once the main crisis was averted and he had centuries to work on it. I did master over a hundred and eight different styles of martial arts before that though," said Fon.
Most people would have stared at the sheer number of styles, but then again Tang San had always known his twin was a genius like him. Considering the sheer number of hidden weapon techniques he had mastered before his death, he had no room to talk.
"So what now?"
"Considering we awaken our 'Martial Souls' in two years, I was hoping we could spar with each other in the mornings once you're done cultivating," admitted Fon. "It would be nice not to have to scramble to get back to what we consider peak form after we get our spirits. Besides, I've been curious to find out if my abilities remain the same or if I have to alter them to fit what I remember."
If Tang San had been anyone else, he might have balked at the idea of harsh training. They were only four at the moment, after all.
But this was someone who understood just as deeply as his twin that if you wanted to get strong, you had to start early. And children were highly adaptable if you started early enough.
Instead a familiar grin came across Tang San's face when he looked at his twin, and an anticipatory smirk came across Fon's.
"We keep this to ourselves. While our father is particularly strong for the area it's clear whatever caused our mother's death hit him very hard. He clearly doesn't want to stir the pot until we're old enough to defend ourselves from whomever killed her," said Fon.
Tang San nodded in agreement. He hadn't picked up on how strong their father was, just that he was broken from whatever happened to their mother.
He slid into a stance.
"Shall we, brother?" he said calmly.
Fon's answering grin was slightly wild. It was rare he showed his eyes properly, but Tang San could tell his brother was really looking forward to this.
If their father noticed the fact that they looked like they had gotten their asses kicked by someone who knew what they were doing, he said nothing.
It didn't hide the fact both brothers were grinning wildly for days.
It was so nice that they didn't have to hide their true selves from each other, and Tang San had been openly pleased that his twin was not only able to keep up with him, but didn't look remotely upset at the fact his slightly older brother had no issues with murdering another.
Then again considering what Fon had done for a living before, he had zero room to talk. He just hoped Tang San wouldn't mind teaching him a bit about hidden weapons, because his limited knowledge of the art was rather rusty. Besides, it was so hard to find a decent weapons-smith.
Two years later...
Tang San and Tang Fon were the most unusual twins in the village, but there was no denying the fact they had a close bond with each other. Both were overly mature for their age, both were morning people and both had a sense of hidden age behind their eyes... Fon more than Tang San.
Where Tang San felt like a grass reed that would bend rather than break, Tang Fon always felt like a storm that was on the verge of hitting. An unstoppable force of devestation where he stood in the center of it, unleashing the wrath of the hurricane.
Both twins were eagerly anticipating today, because they were rather curious to see what they would get.
One by one the children filed up and had their spirits awakened.
Fon allowed his brother to go before him... Tang San had some Blue Silver Grass and a war hammer. He wondered how rare twin spirits were in this world, though he focused more on the fact that Tang San had the peak amount of spiritual energy available almost immediately. It meant their training had paid off.
Then it was his turn...and he nearly gave the poor man a heart attack.
"A dragon!" he said with a hiss of shock.
Fon's spirit wasn't as 'passive' as Tang San. He had a vibrant red dragon that curled around his body that was almost identical to the one he used to have tattooed on his left shoulder. With all the fuss over such a powerful and terrifying spirit, the fact he also manifested a war hammer in his left hand like his brother went unnoticed. Fon briefly noted that unlike Tang San, his hammer had curling dragons on it.
He briefly touched the orb and was pleased that he had innate full Spirit Power, just like his brother.
He could only hope that they wouldn't try to seperate the two of them. It was nearly impossible to find a decent sparring partner that could keep up with him. Besides, he was rather fond of his brother.
As they left the hall where the ceremony took place, Fon shared a smile with Tang San.
"Well that was interesting," he said.
Tang San nodded.
"I wish I could say I am surprised that you got a dragon, but it suits you," said Tang San.
"Grass suits you as well, brother. You are the type that bends under adversity, but does not break. Besides, saying a plant has no applications is complete nonsense. I can think off the top of my head several applications for it depending on which path you want to take."
Poison, for instance, or healing herbs. Saying his brother's spirit was useless simply because they had never found it worth studying was a fool's comment. Just because Blue Silver Grass had yet to show it's true power didn't mean it was useless.
Tang San nodded in complete agreement. His mind also went to the fact that several plants that looked innocuous could prove lethal in the right doses and mixtures. Besides, poison complimented his hidden weapon style perfectly.
As they headed home, both twins were eager to see their father's reaction to the news.
Tang San apparently took more after their mother, because he had inherited her spirit. However it was the look on his face when he saw that both of his sons inherited a war hammer that told Fon that it was far more important than words could express at the moment.
The look on his face when he saw the dragon Fon got was hilarious though.
It took several months of arguing, but the Elder finally got permission to extend the invitation to the twins to attend the Academy together. However as a concession he wasn't allowed to send anyone the year after and had to give up the spot to another village for two years.
Considering how rare it was for anyone in their village to have spirit power during the awakening ceremony, it was a price they were willing to pay.
However the real difficulty came with convincing their father to let them attend. Fon wasn't certain what nightmares plagued the man's past, but he was sure it had something to do with what happened to their mother.
He let Tang San work on that aspect, focusing more on his own training and secretly befriending one of the animals in the forest.
He should have known Lichi would find a way to follow him here. He was inordinately pleased by this fact, but the problem was that he heard several rumors that Spirit Masters killed specific animals in order to get over the 'barrier' that prevented them from cultivating from a certain point.
Animals like the new body Lichi now inhabited. He would have to be extra vigilant if he wanted to prevent some fool from killing his monkey simply to obtain power.
During the course of the months before new admissions were accepted, Fon worked diligently on his new power.
He was beyond pleased when he discovered quite by accident that his Flames were still available. Like Tang San, some of his abilities had carried over, but he had to work from scratch to get his body back into the condition he found acceptable. Something that took time and a lot of patience, because it mostly involved ingraving the moves into muscle memory.
Once he had a handle on his Storm Flames (and he felt relieved he wouldn't have to recreate most of his special attacks), he decided to alter their morning training to help Tang San awaken his.
He had no doubt his twin would have them.
Tang San stared at the purple and indigo flame that blazed brightly on his hand. Fon had to snort, because he should have guessed his twin had the same 'types' as Kyouya, just in vastly different proportions.
"You're a Cloud and Mist primary. The purple color allows you to propogate things...like throwing a single needle only to turn into a rain of them or increase the amount of poison on the weapons you use."
Seeing he had his brother's full interest, Fon smiled.
"Imagine a weapon you created in your last life. One that was intimately familiar to you. You know the weight as well as you do the smith's hammer you've been using recently. Every curve, every edge, every part of it...now imagine that you're holding it," said Fon.
Tang San closed his eyes. There were few weapons he was intimately familiar with in the way Fon was describing. He imagined one in particular, a blade he was rather proud of from his days as part of the Tang clan. It was something he was very familiar with and he could almost imagine the familiar weight in his hand. The hand gripped tight in his right palm, over familiar ridges and details.
He almost lost the image when he felt something appear in his hand.
"Now open your eyes."
Tang San did...and stared in shock at the blade he was holding. There were a few details wrong, but he knew this blade.
"That is the property of the Mist. To create something from nothing and nothing from something. So long as your belief is strong enough, you can make any number of 'creations' reality...or in your case give you access to weapons you once held before you have the material needed to recreate them. Remember, as long as you believe it exists, then it will."
Tang San could already think of a number of applications he could use for such abilities. The smaller weapons were a hassle to recreate, but being able to multiply them from a small number was a devastating ability. And to be able to recreate the weapons he was so familiar with so long as he truly believed they existed in his hand was not something he would idly pass up.
"And what color did you get, brother?" asked Tang San curious.
Fon's smile was wicked.
"Red, the color of the Storm. Basically my flame acts like an acid and disintergrates anything it touches," he said pleased.
Tang San would have shivered if anyone else had that sort of wicked grin on their face while calmly explaining they could literally melt someone to death.
But if anyone had his trust with that sort of terrifying power, it was Fon.
"By the way, where do you go every afternoon while I'm with father?"
Fon grinned and whistled sharply.
A small white body chittered back, and flew out of the trees, before calmly jumping onto Fon's shoulder and staring at Tang San who was gaping.
"Tang San, meet Lichi. Lichi, this is my twin brother Tang San."
The monkey chittered at him, giving a tiny wave.
"...You do realize there's no way father would agree to let you keep a monkey in the house."
"Why do you think I've been keeping him outside?" said Fon amused.
A few days later, Lichi followed Fon home in a fit of boredom. Tang Hao, much to their surprise, barely batted his eye at the fact that his youngest son had managed to tame a monster into his own pet.
Fon was rather happy about that.
Which was why he waited until his twin was out getting food for the day before he asked his father something.
"Father...do you think it would be possible to hide the fact Lichi is actually a monster I befriended and acted as though he was my Martial Spirit?"
"There are spirits that can manifest as actual beasts. So long as you keep quiet about the fact you have a dragon it should be possible," he admitted. "And never, ever show your hammer. Not unless your life or the life of your brother depends on it."
Fon bowed his head in agreement. He had suspected there was something odd about the hammer he and his brother had. It took far to much energy to manifest, which meant it was exceptionally powerful. Too powerful for every day training. Clearly their father wanted them to wait until they were much older before he taught them how to use it, which he could understand completely.
All too soon, the day came that they attend the Academy. Fon managed to bust Tang Hao before he disappeared.
"I don't know what it is you're hiding from, but I'll do my best to insure Xiao San isn't too badly hurt by the fact you plan to disappear for a while," said Fon.
Tang Hao froze. The tone of his youngest son's voice said that he knew far more than he let on. He had always suspected his sons had old souls in young bodies... Fon more than Tang San.
He turned to face his youngest.
"I can't train either of you. Not this early. The most I can do is to let you spread your wings and fly on your own terms until you are ready to learn."
"I know," said Fon. It was the same reason he didn't train his nephew Kyouya too extensively as a child. Just enough to be considered competent. He wanted to see the boy fly on his own terms without having to be constantly reminded of his uncle's accomplishments. "However leaving small reminders that you are still in the background if we need you would at least keep Xiao San from believing you've abandoned us."
Tang Wu nodded silently.
Before he left, he did leave one bit of parting advice.
"Do not trust Spirit Hall. I don't know what they are planning but they are the reason your mother is dead."
Fon silently acknowledged the warning. He would keep that to himself for now, which was likely why Tang Hao told him and not his brother. Tang San was mature yes, but he was also impetuous enough that he might make an enemy of a larger power before he was even remotely ready to tackle them head-on.
Nuoding Spirit Academy
Fon watched with open interest as they walked to the academy. Lichi was on his shoulder, acting as his 'spirit' since he would rather hide the fact he had awakened as a dragon. The Elder hadn't liked it much, but agreed it would be best to keep such things quiet since having such a rare and powerful spirit could inspire jealousy from the more established students.
Jealousy that could lead to all sorts of trouble, for both Fon and Tang San since they were working students.
So the form the Elder sent in was slightly altered to say that Fon had a 'beast spirit' but not which one. All the academy knew was that both twins had awakened with full innate spirit.
He couldn't wait to see what was in store for them for the next few years.