Disclaimer: I do not own Yuffie and Godo Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine, AVALANCHE, all characters and concepts related to AVALANCHE, or, in fact, anything that is from Final Fantasy VII (that honour goes to the wonderful bunch at Square-Enix).
Claimer: I DO, however, own the concept of this story, the name Phe Tsen Shu, the rest of the Shu family, the concept of North Wutai and South Wutai being separate countries, the city of Le Phe Tan, the bastardization of the name Leviathan into Le Phe Tan, and other things not found in FF7. I also own the concept of Heavenly City Da Cha O, the bastardization of the name Da Chao into Da Cha O, and the concept of the Wild Ace's Deuce's Wild Casino. Feel free to use my ideas and original characters, but please give me credit. If you don't give me credit, Tsen Li will turn into a Gary Stu, ruin your story, and then eat your liver.
Notes: Yes, I'm replacing the major chapters with the sections I broke them into. That's the main cause for the ridiculously unreadable length of half my chapters and the extremely slow update speed. It also has enabled me to get the first bit of what SHOULD have been chapter five out for you guys. Also, I screwed up with my numbering system. This is my vague attempt at correcting things.
And When that Day Comes
Dig my head down deep so I can't hear the cars
Outside on the street, and the stars are laughing
They get a kick out of my misery.
I've tried everything short of Aristotle,
Dramamine, and the whiskey bottle,
I pray for the day when my ship comes in
And I can sleep the sleep of the just again
—Insomniac, Straight No Chaser
Winter, Year of Leviathan's Twentieth Scale
Island of Wu Tai --- City of Le Phe Tan
Phe Tsen Shu does not fear. The city is ancient, the city is beautiful, the city is safe. He does not fear. There is nothing to fear.
He does not look around him. He is not wary, he is not anxious. He looks up at the sky, from which snowflakes fall. His father, Nao Hei, claims that snowflakes are the way Leviathan brushes sleep from his eyes. Therefore, each day of snowfall brings them that much closer to winter's end. When his father tells him this legend, his uncle, Mao Li Shu, merely laughs and says that Leviathan does not sleep.
Phe Tsen does not wonder which he should believe. He believes both. For a non-Wutaian, this would be impossible. But he understands the truth of life. Even if two statements seem to conflict, they can both be true. This is the truth of life.
It is this truth, this understanding that the world is infinite, that anything and everything is possible, that he trusts in most. He does not question why it is that he thinks no harm will come to him, if anything is possible.
Le Phe Tan is an awesome god. Surely Le Phe Tan will allow no harm to be done in the city devoted to him? This ancient city, this beautiful city, is safe. He is of the House of Shu, and he is safe. Always.
The House of Shu is an ancient House; it is the Great House of Le Phe Tan. This is the House that staged the Secession twenty years ago; this is the House that convinced House Kisaragi not to go to war. This is the House that has always gotten its way, because to anger the House of Shu is a dangerous thing indeed.
This trust, this confidence, is his greatest failure. It is also his greatest virtue.
When a stranger beckons him from the shadows, he goes. He goes happily, he goes willingly. He is a polite boy, a helpful boy. He is a respectful boy. He aids his elders without pause, without second thought, without regret.
The House of Shu has always been polite. When people naturally go out of their way to make you happy, why not be polite?
The thought of ignoring the stranger does not occur to Phe Tsen. Many days from now, his father will wish that it had.
Phe Tsen does not hesitate when he enters the alley. He bows lower than he should to the stranger, but that is just his way. Most elders accept this embarrassment graciously. He greets the stranger politely, even kindly.
The stranger does not bow back. The stranger does not return his greeting. Instead, the stranger gestures at him with a dark-coloured object. The stranger speaks a harsh tongue, with gutteral-sounding syllables.
Phe Tsen does not return home that night. He does not return home two weeks later. In fact, Phe Tseng will never return to the quaint tiered house he likes to call home.