In the end, much like any demon slayer, Kamado Tanjiro does die. It’s a fact of life, like how the sky is blue and how whatever comes up will come down eventually. It’s just something that happens. So, yes, one day, Kamado Tanjiro does die, whether it be by demon or by disease, by illness or murder, it will happen.
But when it does happen, in a world many, many, many universes away, a little boy with bright red hair, whose mother named “Miklan” and his father gave him “Gautier” wakes up, and there, and there is how it changes.
How much of a story can change if you have a body, that used to be cruel, begins to host a soul has the capacity to be kind?
Miklan is an odd child.
He’ll always help out the servants with chores, doing things you’d only expect a commoner to do. He never asks for anything, never demands, never wastes money. His sense of smell is almost too good, always able to pick out who’s lying and who isn’t. He’s always kind, he’s always patient, he sits and listens to how the world works.
He never gets a good gasp on lances, but swords have always been better for him.
(It is how Tanjiro went through life, and this is the influence, making a boy so helplessly, wonderfully kind.)
When they tell his father that the eldest does not have a crest, that Miklan does not have a crest, his father is angry, is disappointed, and yells at Miklan like it’s his fault, and when his father stops and heaves, he looks at his son and asks him what good he can do?
Miklan smiles, eyes warm (Like the sun, like fire, full of determination and the will to do good) and he says, softly “Then, I’ll just have to work harder.”
When Sylvain is born, Miklan does not resent his younger brother.
(In another timeline, he would have. He would have screamed and yelled, and cause destruction in every place imaginable. But not in this one.)
back into the big brother role, helping out whenever he can. He works harder, and he tries his best to be helpful.
But that’s hard when you have a father that belittles him, and a mother that refuses to even look at him. It’s hard, but
Tanjiro Miklan has gone through worse.
When it’s revealed that Sylvain has a crest, Miklan does not resent him, does not hate him. He just breathes, letting oxygen go to every single cell in his body.
A crest can mean anything, but only if you had the will to change the world around you.
He masters Water Breathing by his 18th birthday, being able to flow like a river as he dances around the training grounds, the single edged Wo Dao a blur in his hands.
(It’s no nichirin blade, but it will have to do.)
Sylvain on the other hand, masters the Lance, because the Lance of Ruin is his to inherit.
Miklan doesn’t care much for the hero relic, seeing the spikes on the side twitch in his father’s hand to be very…disturbing.
(Tanjiro finds the pointed spikes reminding him of not-yet dead demons, as if the weapon it self is alive, writhing to be laid to rest.)
His brother’s friends are weird.
There’s the very angry one from the Fraldarius household, the girl from Galatea and then the Prince of the entire Holy Kingdom of Fearghus.
Miklan isn’t exactly sure how to handle the four kids he’d been tasked with watching, all of them having a crest and the angry one keeps asking for a spar.
He relents after the 3rd time, and readies his practice sword as the Fraldarius kid readies his.
Miklan breathes, and the opening thread is already pulled taught at the kid’s stomach, and so he shifts his stance and breathes.
“Total Concentration, Water Breathing,” he thinks, dashing forward. The kid has barely any time to move, and there’s the sound of rushing water, followed by a single, solitary drop of water hitting the surface of a puddle, and the thought completes with “Seventh Style: Piercing Raindrop.”
Because, the tip of his sword is touching the kid’s stomach, lightly pressing into the flesh and clothing.
“And I think,” Miklan says, standing straight back up, sword lowering to his side, and he smiles, not mockingly or smugly, but just with the warmness of the afternoon sun. “I have won.”
(Tanjiro breathes, and watches as the boy puffs up and yells, and it reminds him too much of Inosuke.)
His father disowns him on a cold winter’s morning, with a harsh yell and a backhand across his face.
Miklan, quietly, very quietly, says “Okay, sir.” And he leaves the Gautier household with nothing but a stolen Wo Dao tied to his belt, leather armour, a small sack of gold and the clothes on his back.
Miklan knows his brother is watching from the windows, knowing that he’ll never come back, but what’s done is done, and there is no escaping this fate.
(Or the next one, or the next one, or the next one, as Tanjiro realises.)
He travels, exploring the entirety of Fodlan, from the very north all the way to the south, and back up. He goes with the sun, traveling east to west and back again.
And wherever he travels, he helps. He assists in the rebuilding of villages and towns after attacks, defends merchants from bandits and helps with the weeding and harvesting of farms if they need an extra set of hands.
(People always need help. Tanjiro had always believed this, and this belief had passed onto Miklan.)
It takes several years of waiting, but yet, it’ll come, when he has to return home.
It starts with a letter, and a summons to Garreg Mach Monastery.
Miklan walks through the gates, and he’s not even a few steps in when an orange-haired blur tackles him in the entrance hall, yelling about how he’s never going to forgive him ever and that he’s disowned as an older brother.
“Hello Sylvain,” Miklan says, patting Sylvain on the head. “Sorry for not visiting.”
Sylvain sniffles and says “I thought you died.”
“I did not. Takes more than our father to kill me, I’ll have you know.”
(Tanjiro laughs, and oh this reminds of his own family. Memories made bittersweet.)
He helps his brother’s class retrieve the Lance of Ruin stolen by a former servant of the household, who had locked themselves in a tower that scrapes the sky, as rain begins to pour from the heavens and Miklan is twisting like the tide, striking those who come to close.
Then there is a hit from an armoured foe as he is knocked into a wall, there’s a cry of alarm, and all he can see is black.
“Please!” someone yells, and he cannot recognise the voice. “Wake up, big brother!”
(Tanjiro can recognise it though, and he is wading through the inky blackness to find Miklan and pull him back out.)
“Wake up!” The voice repeats, and Miklan can hear desperation, but he just cannot place a name to the voice.
“Wake up.” Says someone else, gentler, quieter, and there is a boy with red eyes and hair, the hanafuda earrings (He’s never learnt the term but somehow he knew) and the boy is reaching a hand out, and he’s smiling, warm like the sun, and then Miklan knows.
“I’m not meant to survive past this battle, am I?” He asks, and the silence that greets him is absolute, and Miklan knows what will happen.
The boy with the red hair and the red eyes smiles and grasps Miklan’s hand and he says “My name is Kamado Tanjiro” and Miklan smiles and then the world, suddenly, turns white.
Miklan wastes no time, rushing to the black beast that has formed from the Lance of Ruin having no crest to draw power from and he sees the opening thread.
He knows that he’ll die if he takes the opportunity, but there is no other option, nor is there any other way.
He can hear Sylvain screaming at him to stop, but Miklan knows what fate has in store for him.
(It’s the truth of every single timeline, from the original to the slightly altered, that Miklan must die by the fifth act.
It does not matter how, but he must. It’s a fundamental truth of the world, like how the sky is blue and how fire is hot. So yes, by the fifth act, Miklan must die, but there’s no say in how.)
He leaps, and a claw skewers his gut and he chokes out blood, but still he is able to do one last thing.
He thinks “Total Concentration”, as he raises his sword up. “Water Breathing” comes next, as water coats his blade, hearing his intent, and granting him power. “Eighth Style: Waterfall Jar.”
And the sword swings down, and severs the monster’s head from it’s shoulders, and then Miklan dies as he falls, the last thing he sees being Sylvain’s shocked and horror filled face, and his last words being so, so simple and easy to say, knowing that at least in this timeline, he can choose his own fate.
(Tanjiro breathes. This cycle has ended and it’s time to move on. But before he can, Miklan smiles and thanks Tanjiro for his kindness, and then just like that, two souls move on at their own separate speeds, and at their own pace.)
Miklan’s last words, whispered softly but Sylvain could hear them as clear as day as his older brother gives one last, rattling breath is a simple “I’m so sorry.”