He had come a long way, as they all had. From every four corners of the earth they had been called from their respective schools and it had been a long time coming. He traveled all the way from Germany to this island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to finally come to the main branch of Soul Academy. After working six long, hard years he had finally gained recognition, and with him being the top of the class by a virtual landslide, he was the only one to be called from Berlin in the past ten years to meet the Headmaster of all the schools worldwide. Even more so, he would be the first Meister of German decent in over two hundred years. Ludwig sighed heavily and ran a hand through his blonde, slicked hair. After all the years of hard work, training, and dedication, he was finally selected to serve the Keeper of Souls with a weapon partner. He felt the butterflies tickling his insides in anticipation as he thought about his new partner. He didn't even know who it would be just yet. Apparently they were to be united under the blessings of the Headmaster before being sent on various missions.

Two bodies flying past him almost caused him to fall down the two hundred and forty-seven stairs he had just climbed, barely grabbing a rail just in time. "Alfred! Slow down! You're going to kill someone if you keep this up!" a soft voice called. Ludwig looked up to see two boys who looked closely related dashing up the stairs. Or rather, one was rushing up the remaining steps with the other practically flying by his arm. They were both dressed in the blue suits of the school uniform, matching the one Ludwig himself wore, but they seemed more at home in the city-like academy. The main difference between the German and the two other boys hiking their way up the stairs were the bands of cloth that encased their upper arms. The black cross of blades under the physical embodiment of souls signaled their position as weapons, which explained everything. Weapons were trained by the personal weapons of the Keeper of Souls, also known as The Guardians or Protectors.

The one in the lead had brilliant golden hair with a stubborn cowlick standing erect from his bangs. From what the German had caught of the other's appearance, he had deep, ocean blue eyes framed by glasses. The other had longer hair and a stray curl that made him look all the more innocent with eyes that were much paler in comparison to the others, making it look more lavender than blue. "If we're late to the opening ceremony, we're gonna be dead! He'll kill us!" They took the steps two at a time until they crossed over the top and disappeared through the entrance arch of the school. Ludwig raised a questioning brow at such peculiar antics. There was still ten minutes left before the opening ceremony and he began to wonder if they had the right time. The more he thought about it as he trudged up the stairs, the more he questioned. Did those boys have it right? Did he have it right? Had he left room for those unforeseen "Just-in-Case" scenarios? He began to doubt himself and his own understanding of facts and directions until he was almost running up the stairs at a breakneck speed and through the arch.

Trees were in bloom during the chilly months of not-quite-Spring, and the long lonely nights of the not-quite-Winter. The flowers that flitted lightly down from the branches shed light pink petals to the gentle wind that caressed the leaves, causing them to dance on their stems. A path cut between the columns of trees, leading deeper into the school and into his future, casting him farther from who he used to be. Ludwig felt a great pride swelling in his chest as he made his way through the rain of velvet petals. While there was that nagging fear that clung to him, despite his most valiant of efforts, he also felt a growing calm fill him as he continued on his way. The buildings on either side of him were constructed of old bricks and completed with high, stained-glass windows.

There was no mistake; this was the most peaceful place on earth. With the high-peaked rooftops and the sweet scent of cherry-blossoms, Ludwig could not imagine a more calming scenery than this. He took a deep breath, savoring the taste of the fresh and clean air. To live here, it was surly a dream come true. A smile tugged at his lips, despite the seriousness of the situation he was entering.

"Ve~, they're very pretty, aren't they?" a voice, bubbling with energy commented off to his left. Ludwig turned to be met with a shorter boy, perhaps a year or two younger than himself, looking up at the falling petals with large brown eyes. His brown hair blew in the breeze, a stray curl of hair protruded oddly at an angle. His uniform was slightly different than Ludwig's, having the blue plaid pants and white uniform shirt with the black tie, but he wore only the beige, sweater instead of the light blue school jacket. It was a fashionable choice; Ludwig had to admit. The light tan colour really set off his eyes, making the bronze gaze alluring and hard to pull away from. The brunette smiled sweetly, his hands clasped placidly behind his back as he turned his attention to the German in the path. "You're one of the new Meisters, si? I'm Feliciano Vargas." The armband gave away his position of weapon.

"Ja, I am Ludwig Beilschmidt."

The bright eyes grew wider as the smiling lips turned into a small 'O', which was something he had expected to happen among those who heard his name. Beilschmidt was a name that anyone in the Soul Academies would recognize, especially in the main branch since it was the name of one of the instructors. Ten years ago, to the day, the Keeper of Souls had hand selected a student who had never attended his schools; who had never even shown up on the map. Ten years ago to the day, to perhaps the very hour, the weapon known as Gilbert Beilschmidt walked over this path, having been called away from his family and younger brother in Berlin.

Feliciano's smile returned, brighter than ever as he ran, or rather, pranced to Ludwig and took the taller boy's hand, catching the German off guard. He may have been mistaken, but there was a moment of a feeling that was much like being electrocuted, but not as painful. If he had to explain it, he would use the analogy of the click of two puzzle pieces coming together.

"You're Luddy! Gilby talks about you all the time! He can't wait to see you; it's been a long time since you ever heard from him, hasn't it? He has been acting funny ever since he heard that you had been chosen to come here!"

Ludwig's face flushed at the endearing name, no one ever shortened his name before. Especially since he wasn't very fond of pet names, but before he could say anything the boy turned behind him with a look of curious surprise. "Feli!" a voice called. The two boys from earlier on the stairs were down a side road calling for the brunette. The one with blue eyes was walking with his hands in his jacket pockets, the buttons undone making him look a little sloppy in appearance. The other wore their clothing properly, not really standing out much if he had been near any other students.

"Alfred! Mattie!" Feliciano called, turning his back on Ludwig to wave the attention of the other weapons, "Over here! You won't believe who I have with me!"

The two blondes looked up in surprise before the one with the open jacket jogged up the stairs and threw an amicable arm over the brunette's shoulders, "Who is this? Come on Feli, I'm ready to be amazed." In reality he sounded quite the opposite, looking rather suspicious and dull. The blue eyed one spoke with a strange accent Ludwig had never heard before in his entire life.

"Alfred," the other boy, through the process of elimination that made this one Mattie, sighed, "you don't need to put up an attitude with the new boy. I know you don't like Meisters but you can't very well wield yourself." The violet eyed boy smiled and held a hand out to shake with the German, "I'm Matthew Williams. This is my brother Alfred Jones. He's from America, I was raised in Canada."

Ludwig shook his hand stiffly, feeling quite out of place with the trio before him, "How can you be brothers when you were both raised so very far from each other."

"Well, we're half-brothers. I'm the older one and I stayed with my father while my mother went off to America. What was your name again?"

"Beilschmidt." There was a brief silence before that was shattered by the rather rude language of the American as he scowled and looked away.

Feliciano smiled sweetly and pat Alfred on the shoulder, "We should be going, the opening ceremony is starting soon and the other Meisters are already at the courtyard. They'll be wondering where the weapons are." Without waiting, he took Ludwig's hand again (and there was that connection again) and ran down the stairs with the two brothers following behind.

"No one would be looking for you Feli," Alfred laughed as they ran through the side streets towards the heart of the city. Wonder what that comment was for.

What Ludwig noted was that all the students lived on their own, virtually adults in their own right. The buildings were like a combination of dorms and apartments, towering high in the tight confines of the school grounds which sprawled out to its limits on the four-by-three mile island. From the training Ludwig had put himself under before arriving, he could run the entire perimeter, twice, and still not break a sweat. As they continued, he could see the front gates of the school, which took up at least forty percent of the surface area. By this time, other students were coming into view, even some persons of whom he guessed was the staff.

"The bloody hell have you gits been!" a student ahead shouted, he was also a weapon, and with the growing members in their group, Ludwig was feeling more and more out of place.

Feli leaned over to Ludwig and whispered, "Arthur Kirkland, Alfred and Mattie's cousin from Britain. He's really funny, but gets mad easy, and when he's mad he's scary!"

"The entire purpose of whispering is so the object of the conversation cannot hear you Feliciano," a short, rather angry looking young man with the same sunny blonde hair as the two brothers growled. That didn't catch his attention however. No, it was the terrifyingly thick, creepy-crawler, bushy eyebrows. The German almost slapped the newcomer across the face to rid him of the hairy caterpillars that had somehow crawled just above the poor boy's eyes. It took him a few seconds to realize those were the boy's eyebrows, though he couldn't believe eyebrows could be like, well, THAT!

Feli jumped and cried, clinging onto Ludwig tightly, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please don't hurt me! I surrender!" The German winced at how loud the Italian's screams were. Hopefully he wouldn't have to get used to this touchy-feely stuff. He wasn't really one for so much physical contact.

"Yes, yes, I know you surrender! That's all you're really good for," the British boy barked, older than the other three, he carried the air of an adult. It actually made him appear pompous and arrogant to Ludwig, even though he himself had that same disposition. The green eyes met the sky blue as Arthur looked the German up and down, "You're a new face; if you're looking for the other Meisters they're over there." He threw his thumb over his shoulder to another group of students, all wearing armbands similar to his own.

"Yes, thank you. I will see you all at the ceremony shortly I guess." Ludwig pried Feliciano loose from his shirt and started toward the other group.

Feli waved him off, "See you soon!"

That boy was so peculiar, but maybe it was just because he was an Italian. He had heard that Italians were stereotypically like that, though that may be unfair to any Italians . . . In the Meister group there were two other boys that stood out the most to him, despite the crowds, or perhaps it was because the others in the crowd were relatively normal compare to these ones. The first he noticed was really because he was tall, very tall for someone with such a young face. And this being an island in the southern Pacific, the scarf draped snuggly about his neck was so out of place it was wrong. His nose was a little bigger than average, but everything was a little bigger than average about the young man. Everything from his height to his round, plump cheeks that carried a healthy flush and even the large violet eyes that made it seem as though a child was decapitated and their head placed on this man's shoulders. The thought was rather disturbing.

The other Meister he had noted wasn't tall, or out of dress code, or even spectacular to be worthy of noticing. That is, if he wasn't groping a fellow Weapon Meister, and Ludwig also highlighted the fact that it was another male; though by the looks of some of the female onlookers, he had no preference. The boy being molested was a brunette and was obviously not enjoying the brash actions. The tall, scarf-clad young man also seemed interested in the mousy boy caught in the perverted blonde's grasp, but they had a degree of similarities. If it wasn't for obvious genetic differences, they could have been related. Tensions were building in the Meister group; that went without saying. Especially since the taller student looked . . . sadistically angry.

"Ah! I-Ivan, it was just harmless fun! I don't mean anything by it!" the blonde cowered, hiding behind his latest victim who looked like he wanted to tip over and die, poor kid.

The Meister with the beige scarf smiled childishly, a cruel glint in his baby-like violet eyes, "Your fun is illegal in many countries Francis Bonnefoy. If I were you, I'd educate myself of laws regarding sexual harassment."

The way both of them talked, they were defiantly not from the same country, and the names gave everything away. Ludwig wondered how they all knew each other, but they had probably had contact for the past few hours, or more. The German entered the group soundlessly, no one really taking note of him as he watched the events unfolding. Apparently the French boy, Francis, decided to take a break from his hobby. Lucky too, Ludwig arrived at the best possible time.

Ivan was chatting quietly with Toris, his Lithuanian friend from the school situated in the Northern section of Europe. What he wasn't too fond of was that his little sister was with him . . . somewhere. She jumped out at the most random times, terrifying him to tears as she demanded marriage. After their elder sister Katyusha was called away to the SWMA, Ivan had to become the adult at age ten and he just couldn't discipline the small girl. This caused some babying, coddling, favoritism, and . . . one-sided possessive love. Not from him, it was her. All her. And fuck was she scary! She was most likely lost somewhere in the school; Ivan must've given her the slip. And though it was cruel to leave her calling for him and attacking random civilians, he really didn't care for the collateral damage. Better them than him as he would say. And if she found him with little Toris, well, it wouldn't be the first time his hands were made useless. But the Lithuanian always bounced back, much like a Jack-in-a-Box.

"I-I wonder when the Headmaster will arrive," the brunette stuttered. He was no more comfortable standing beside an aggravated Ivan than he was in the grasp of a perverted Frenchman. One could even say that it was a 'From-Bad-to-Worse' situation.

The tall Russian nodded contemplatively, "It is quite rude to keep us waiting such a long time, and the ceremony starts in three minutes. I would think he would have appeared by now."

"Perhaps he is ill?"

Ivan smiled, "Toris, that is a very dumb thought, I find it amusing." Toris' face coloured in shame, why did Ivan always have to be so harsh? It always came down on him of all people!

Ludwig watched the exchanges with a quirked brow. Many were like himself, having just arrived and still carrying suitcases and bags. Others, like Ivan and Toris, had arrived beforehand and were already settled into the homes they would occupy with whoever their Weapons would be. Speaking of Weapons, Ludwig scanned the surrounding area in hopes of finding his brother. The only thing he had of the albino was a ten year old picture of the two of them the day he left. A small little prayer wormed its way into his mind as he sighed in defeat, not finding anyone who looked even remotely like the older Beilschmidt.

'Please let him be here. I have to see him again.'

"There're a lot of them this year, but the weapons still outnumber the Meisters. Some are going to be disappointed. It's a little cruel we round up all the Weapons, but keep a tight funnel on the Meisters coming in, don't you think?" the laid back young man sat on the window sill, watching the groups gather. The Weapons watched the Meisters shyly and the Meisters stood there a bit awkward like. It was cute, sort of like the Basket Boy Auctions in High School. "At least these Meisters have the decency not to look at the weapons like merchandise."

A shorter man with dark brown eyes that reflected years his body did not show stood beside him, looking out to the growing crowds of last minute arrivals. "This year there is only one more Weapon than Meister, but I doubt that will be a problem. I am quite curious about the blonde on the outskirts of the Meister group. He doesn't mingle and stands distant to both groups."

The first speaker snickered, "That was always Ludwig. My baby brother has hardly changed. He's grown into a fine young man."

"What has caught my attention is the fact that he has already found his Weapon."

The red eyes turned to the dark brown with surprise written all over the pale face. The other Meisters would have two weeks to find their Weapons, more than enough time to do so, but Ludwig had only just arrived and he had immediately found the Weapon to complement him! A cocky grin then pulled at the courners of the albino's lips. "Just like his big brother huh? It's because we share that Awesome Gene that runs in the Beilschmidt family."

"And you're not curious to hear who it was?"

"Who? Was it the Brit, if it was the Brit I'm going to laugh my ass off."

"No, it was your student, Feliciano Vargas."

The albino blinked as the information processed before laughing obnoxiously loud, "Oh is that boy in for a surprise!"