Man, born from dust. Strong, wise, resourceful, and the by-product of an unforgiving world. For centuries mankind has roamed the lands and seas of Remnant, a place teeming with dark creatures that seek nothing less than its extinction. There are tales of a time when existence of man, short-lived as it had been, was under threat. The creatures of Grimm, powerful forces that harboured great blood lust, set their sights on man and all he had created; however, what man lacked in strength, it made up for in will. The desire of a dying species to live brought about the discovery of a mysterious source of great power. This power became the re-birth of man, and as man was born from dust, so too should he be re-born from it. Thus, this power was named Dust. The wrath of nature at that hands of mankind presented a light in the darkness; hope. The sparks of hope quickly became flames, and soon man had driven back the darkness. In its absence, mankind formed kingdoms in which survivors could find peace; places where man could thrive without the threat of Grimm. Atlas, Mistral, Vacuo, Vale; the four kingdoms of Remnant. So long as these four stand united, mankind could never fall again; but this unity is plagued by the very thing it vows to protect.
Man is selfish, deceitful and secretive, qualities that don't bode well for unity. In time, kingdom may turn against kingdom, man against man, friend against friend. The nature of man is his own undoing, and so these beacons, these flames of hope, flicker and fault as they threaten to die. Even the greatest of flames has its secrets, and even the brightest of beacons have something to hide. This is what will cause the downfall of man. While that may be a long way yet in the future, the nature of man is seen daily, in every soul, whether man, woman or child. This was something that, for the students of one particular academy, was soon going to become evident. This academy was rightfully named Beacon.
Beacon Academy, one of four such institutions that train the next generation of Huntsmen and Huntresses; the defenders of peace. The noblest warriors in all of Remnant, the art of being a huntsmen has been a tradition held since the formation of the four kingdoms. Each kingdom created a single academy that would act as the final stage of a future Huntsmen's training before he, like his brothers and sisters, would be let free to defend the world. Other, small such places were built as potential starting points for these warriors, though not everyone made their way into the big four academies this way. Some, born outside of the kingdom, have the training and no how to pass the entrance exams due to the skills they required to survive in the unknown. Others simple lucked out; being in the right place at the right time as it were. Though never before had anyone simply lied their way in, until the last intake of students at Beacon Academy. Ironically, the sole person to have ever faked their way in would one day become the brightest beacon of hope of them all (a name that his ancestors would be proud to see him receive).
This boy never thought of himself as the centre of any noteworthy story; more of a side character in the grand scheme of something greater. However, that something greater would need hope that only he could give, but that's for another time. The boy in question? Jaune Arc; resident goofball and proud wearer of a blue bunny-onesie (but only on occasion, at the advice of his teammates). The Arc boy was, to put it lightly, a less than ample fighter when he first arrived at Beacon. He wielded a sword but had no clue how to use it, and carried a shield without the knowledge of how to fully utilise it. This boy was clearly not in his element; however, a select few saw him for his potential and who he could become. These select few were an innocent and headstrong Ruby Rose, the battle ready warrior princess Pyrrha Nikos, and one Headmaster Ozpin, whose madness always had method. These three saw the same thing in the boy; leadership. What he lacked in physical strength, he made up for in mental dexterity. Each knew that he had the capabilities of being an outstanding leader, perhaps one of the best this world had ever seen, if he only grew the confidence in himself. As for fighting? Well, any man could be taught to swing a stick affectively; and, after almost a year of training with Pyrrha, he was well on his way to becoming a renowned fighter.
The boys second semester at Beacon was fast approaching its end, and the events of the weeks prior had sparked an even greater drive in the boy. The 'incident' with the creatures of Grimm at the town square had proven just how far he had truly come. Had the Atlas military or team CFVY not shown up when they did, he surely would have slain another two or three Ursa on his own. While that may not be a great feet to most in his year, for someone like him who had only started learning how to fight in the early weeks of his first semester, it was a greatly noticeable improvement. He owed this to his partner, who asked for nothing in return. Seeing the improvement in himself, knowing that his limits and skills had increased, had made the boy more enthusiastic than he had ever been previously. From this, rooftop training sessions with Pyrrha had doubled in length, with a heavier focus on aura and gymnastic ability. Being able to move with greater fluency, in Jaune's mind, would allow for him to fight with more effect. Learning to control his aura to defend himself with greater directness, as well as understanding how to utilise his shield as both a defence and attack mechanism, would mean he could last longer in a fight. Then there was the mystery of his semblance, something he was truthfully in no hurry to unlock. In his mind, this would be his peak, and while physically he could still develop, mentally he would have reached his highest point.
So why share all this? Why tell of the fabled history of Remnant? Why elaborate on the kingdoms or combat academies? Why speak of the young Arc child who would supposedly become the brightest beacon known to man?
Because history is important. Because it is important to know ones surroundings. Because it all begins with one such training session on the rooftops of Beacon.
The air whistled as sharp, lustrous metal sliced through it. The dead of the night was disturbed solely by the clashing sounds of sword meeting sword. Two warriors, one more progressed than the other, did battle with one another on a familiar rooftop. These two had faced one another nightly, resulting in a similar scenario each time. The obviously greater skilled fighter smirking victoriously, and the lesser bowing gratefully in defeat. Each night was a step closer to becoming a better fighter, and each battle saw an improvement from the last, however minuscule it may be. This was progress, and progress was good; and, as many a night before, the same result occurred. The lesser bowed in defeated, disarmed by a swift and powerful kick. The victor clapped for her combatant.
"Well done Jaune, this was easily your best performance yet," Pyrrha applauded with a genuine smile of pride. Jaune looked to the red-haired girl and smiled, knowing that her words were truthful and not some white lie aimed at encouraging him. He returned her smile with one of his own; a grateful smile that lit up the night.
"Thanks Pyrrha, couldn't have done it without you," he said as he turned to retrieve the sword that was left protruding from the rooftop. "I managed to avoid your leg sweep tonight too. That was defiantly new," he joked in a friendly manner as he sheathed his blade.
"Indeed. It had been some time now since I've one by disarming you, though this time was greatly more difficult. You've truly come a long way. You may even qualify for the tournament," the Spartan retorted, meaning what she had said. Jaune chuckled, a few nerves acting up at the idea.
"Well, I don't know if I'm quite ready for that; after all, I still have a lot to learn about fighting, especially when disarmed." Pyrrha simply rolled her eyes and giggled. She knew Jaune could hold his own in the tournament at this year's Vytal Festival, if only for a few rounds. Truthfully, he would struggle anywhere after round three. Though, come next festival, the P of JNPR had faith that her partner would be able to pose a challenge to even the highest renowned fighters (she was too modest to simply say herself).
With the physical training done for the night, the two moved on to aura. This training involved a lot of patience, quiet and meditation. The two took their positions opposite each other and began their training. Pyrrha would begin to use her aura to awaken Jaune's, until it had become levelled with her own. After this, Jaune was the only one who could further his control, as his limits far surpassed that of the Spartan's own. It was at this point where Pyrrha would silently observe her leader, though not with her eyes; with her soul. She could feel his soul and the aura it produced. It was an exhilarating feeling, being able to bask in the presence of another's soul. With her eyes closed, she could feel the white glow Jaune's aura produced. It was in these moments when the usually isolated girl felt as though there was still hope for her. She wasn't alone in this world anymore; and because of the boy who sat in front of her, she had been able to make friendships that would last a lifetime, something she used to believe would forever be impossible. While the two trained mentally, the rest of Beacon slept, and the dreams of slumbering students were filled with the warmth of a shining peace that they were blissfully unaware of.
However, while Beacon slept, there was one other student who did not. A fire that light the way in the dark for most, except for herself. Laying one fist into the leathery skin of a newly placed punching bag, a girl who had always felt uncertain wept in pain, both physical and metal. It was both a blessing and a burden, the fire she was; she wanted nothing more than to give others a light in the dark, in order to guide their way, but she knew the she herself was lost. How am I supposed to guide the way if I don't know where I am? She would have this thought time and time again. Another fist met leather while the other pulled away. Another wince of pain resonated in the empty room. She was born as a light who had a mind that was fogged. I live my life not knowing what the next day will bring, and tell myself that it's a good thing. Her mindset had been unmoved since early childhood, though required determination to keep in place. Another fist, another cry. If I live any other way, then… then… She never could finish this thought; it was the hardest on of them all. One final fist smacked against the punching bag, splitting the leather at the impact site. One final wince of pain, accompanied by the first of several tears to come, signalled the end of her training. Yang Xiao Long was now exhausted, and was in need of sleep.
Monday dawned over the horizon, an indication of the beggings of a new week. The school days were numbered, with only a handful of weeks to go. Many students were more than eager to finalize all their work for the year and hand in any assignments that were left. It was an exciting time at Beacon Academy. As the Vytal Festival drew nearer, larger numbers of students started to get into the season. Decorations started to appear down the halls and inside classrooms, and many a diligent students had begun planning activates they and their teams would partake in to celebrate. There was hardly an upset face amongst the school grounds…
"Look, I don't have time for you interrogations right now, just leave me be!"
… Except for one.
The one person, who had just yelled in the midst of her anger, was the yellow fireball of team RWBY. This was an unnatural way for Yang to act, in fact very rarely did she get angry at any of her teammates. The teammate in question who had triggered the… rather explosive reaction, was non-other than the dubbed 'ice queen' of Beacon. The white-clad girl stood stunned, shocked at the level Yang had replied to her. Though Weiss was one to come across as bossy at the best of times, she had hardly done anything to receive such a response to what she had said… this time.
Earlier on this day, team RWBY had awoken in their usual fashion; however the youngest member had noticed something in her older sister. Ruby could tell that Yang was troubled, and so, when the time felt right, asked what seemed to be the matter. Yang had lied with her answer, but did little to hide that fact. Something was most certainly wrong, and this became obvious once pointed out by the leader of RWBY. Next came Blake, asking Yang to confide in her as her assigned partner. This received a more heated response than when Ruby had asked. It wasn't until Weiss decided that the tension had grown too much that she felt the truth had to come out. It was simply a matter of being the third one to ask if Yang was sure nothing was troubling her. This sort of behaviour was not how Yang usually would be, and so, concern had grown in the trio as the yellow-clad girl stormed off.
"All I did was ask if she were okay… I even asked in a delicate voice…" Weiss mumbled to herself, feeling a little crushed that her attempts at being friendly backfired so terribly. Ruby and Blake focused on comforting the heiress, knowing that pursuing Yang would only make things worse at this point in time.
In class, Yang was even less tolerant. She hardly spoke a word to anyone, and for any fool who tried to speak with her, even if only to ask for an answer to question four on page seven, she snapped with such ferocity at them that they felt lucky to still have a head. This behaviour did not go unnoticed, by everyone who knew her of course, but specifically from one fellow blonde. Jaune didn't need it pointed out to him the Yang was in a bad mood. He didn't dare take a guess as to why, in fear that the inferno of a girl, and every other girl in the room for that matter, would beat him senseless. Growing up with seven sisters taught him never to guess that a girl's bad temper was due to that bodily function. However, upon inspecting how Ruby reacted to her sister's mood, it dawned on Jaune that this was defiantly not a regular thing. This left a single thought in Jaune's mind.
What on Remnant is wrong with Yang?
It quickly became his goal to find out. As the class dragged on, the boy found, or more accurately created an opportunity to speak with team RWBY, minus the Y. With what level of stealth he had gained during his time at Beacon (which was still one of his weaker traits), he asked the girls for an answer to his thoughts.
"Isn't that the million lien question," Ruby replied, a little downheartedly.
"We haven't the slightest clue what's gotten into that brawlers head," Weiss added, still hurt after being shutdown in her attempts at being kind.
"All we know is that she's been acting like this since we got back from our mission with Doctor Oobleck. Maybe it has something to do with that," Blake reasoned, hoping to make some kind of connection. The four looked to each other in silence for a moment before Jaune returned to his seat, his expression one of deep thought. He observed the angry girl, with irises of lilac now turned red. She seemed… agitated. Taping her foot, massaging her knuckles through her gloves, scribbling out notes that had the slightest mistakes. A realisation dawned on the boy as he look again at Yang's gloves. The same gloves she wore with her regular outfit.
It hadn't become apparent to Jaune until now that, as of this semester, Yang had started wearing her gloves with her school uniform. That may not seem too out of place, merely a simple change in fashion; however, recently he had caught the girl wearing them with her brightly colour pyjamas. He couldn't even recall the last time he had seen her without those black, fingerless gloves on. While it didn't answer why Yang was so feisty today, it did make Jaune suspicious. Any other person would have made no connections from the gloves, but Jaune's mind worked differently. The constant massaging of her knuckles only furthered his suspicions. This was something he had to confront Yang about, and quick.
"Dammit, where is she? It's not like her to skip lunch," Jaune mumbled to himself as he walked the halls of Beacon. Lunch had come and the Arc boy had joined his teammates, along with their friends in team RWBY, at their usual table; however something, or someone, was missing. The brightest coloured member of RWBY was no were to be seen, having stormed out of class the second it was dismissed. This re-occurred around dinner. Whatever was bothering her, Yang was adamant on keeping it private. She was hiding something, a secret, and it was causing an unbalance in the force that was team RWBY. If left unattended, it could cause the team to crumble, and Jaune was not about to let that happen. Without any more warning then a simple, "I'll be back, just wait for me," Jaune had fled from the cafeteria.
Now, he was on the hunt, searching for the suddenly elusive Yang Xiao Long. With most other students back in the cafeteria, Jaune had a chance to test one of his newly acquired skills. Closing his eyes, Jaune began to focus. Using his training with Pyrrha, he began to awaken his aura. It glowed, both physically around him and mentally in his blocked vision. The soothing nature of his aura could be felt over the school, and many people felt a sense of peace flow over them in this instance. Using his large reserve of aura, he focused on the replies of the auras around him. As suspected, only a few could be found away from the cafeteria. It didn't pose a challenge to find Yang; she too had a powerfully large aura, and it had a very unique feel to it. Using the replies form the aura of others like a sixth sense, Jaune was able to locate his target. She wasn't far from Jaune, and he could see that her aura was flaring up. One of the gyms, performing some form of activity, that's where I'll find her. Remaining unshaken in his mission, the Arc child sprinted for his destination. It would only take a minute to reach at his pace. What he found was a sight he did not expect.
Quietly entering the gym, he was greeted with an unforgettable sight. A revelation was surely in reach. In the centre of the room hung one of the many leather punching bags that Beacon owned, and like its comrades, it was coloured red with the Beacon logo printed onto it. The bag was split, around midway down, for only a dozen centimetres. Beneath it, kneeling with her head down in her training-attire and her hair covering her face, was Yang. Her hands disappeared behind her hair as they extended towards her face, and her back arched up and down with her every heart-crushing sound. Yang Xiao Long, the bright spark and ray of sun from team RWBY, was weeping. This sight tugged something fierce in Jaune's heart. He hated to see anyone cry, especially girls, and more so ones that he called friend. It was not in his nature to let something like this happen. He hated others pain.
Weeping as she was, Yang hadn't noticed the concerned boy who had entered the room. Her world was a mess, and nothing seemed to make sense. She knew why she was crying, and at the same time felt clueless. She was mad, not at others, but at herself for snapping at those closest to her. She was sad because she was hopelessly lost.
She was hurting mentally, and she hardly understood why.
She was hurting physically, and knew exactly why.
In a moment of disarray, she failed to hear the footsteps that came closer. In this moment, she could not feel the presence of another behind her. In this moment, she stopped her weeping. A single hand, rested atop her right shoulder, brought her back to reality. The room reformed in front of her eyes. She stayed like this, in silence with her apparent company, letting her breath calm. After what felt like an eternity, but was likely only a few minutes, she turned, tentatively, and looked to the figure that gripped her. She was both surprised and mortified that it was Jaune who had caught her in her moment of weakness. She had let her image falter in front of someone who knew her, in front of a friend.
"J-Jaune," she said, weakly. She dare not say any more as tears threatened to flow once more. Jaune didn't say a word, but instead took to a tactic he had learned long ago when comforting his own sisters. He pulled her in close, turning her body a little as to face him. The curve of her nose rested in the crook of Jaune's neck as the boy sat with his legs crossed. His arms wrapped around the brawlers back, holding her gently as his right hand began to soothing brush through her hair. The movement had caused Yang's legs to slide out from under her, bending out in front of her for comfort as her torso slightly twisted towards Jaune. Yang was shocked by the boy's boldness, but soon found herself weeping once more. With little hushing noises and a lightly hummed, soothing tune, Jaune comforted the blonde girl.
"That's it, let it out," Jaune whispered, knowing that this would help calm her down. For the first time that day, Yang's eyes returned to their usual lilac. In his head, Jaune thanked having seven sister who he had to comfort from time to time. The two stayed like this for another eternity, however this time had lasted a good fifteen minutes at the least. With no more tears left to cry, and her breath finally calm, Yang reluctantly pulled away from the embrace. Silence… and then, "Yang, let me see your hands."
The girl blinked in surprise; after the long moment the two shared, this was not what she had expected the young knight to say. He said it with a stern, yet caring seriousness too. Taking a moment to process this request, she sighed. She knew why Jaune would want to inspect her hands, though was unsure as to how he found out. Removing her gloves, she presented her hands to the Arc child. His expression turned to from one of seriousness to worry. It was as he thought it would be; Yang's knuckles were a light shade of purple and red. Bruising. Yang's knuckles were lightly bruising. It wasn't anything to be seriously worried about at this point, though if it were to worsen… Jaune daren't think of the implications. Instead he helped yang up from the floor, and without a word brought her to a first aid kit. Keeping the same worried expression on his face, Jaune turned to the girl, who harboured a sad look on her face, and grab her by one of her hands.
"How did this happen?" he asked, already having a vague idea of what caused the bruising as he brought a roll of bandage to her left hand. He began to slowly, firmly bandage her knuckles, moving up toward her hand and arm. Yang didn't respond in words, just a look of guilt. Jaune gave another concerned look. "Is it because of your fighting style?" he asked softly. Yang nodded lightly. Jaune sighed in revelation. It was as he had thought.
Yang fought like a boxer, throwing hard punches at her enemies; however, unlike a boxer, she did not wear boxing gloves. Instead, she wore shotgun gauntlets that left her knuckles unprotected. Having to hit things up close would mean she'd have to physically punch her target, and with enough force to fire her gauntlet. That force undoubtedly was the cause of this. Yang was smart, and knew how to fight in such a way as to avoid this from happening. This is what had Jaune the most concerned; Yang was fighting recklessly, for reasons he was uncertain of. Something was wrong with her, but for now it would have to wait. It didn't take long before Jaune had bandaged down Yang's right arm. He held her hand up as he brought the bandage back up, making sure the bandaging would stay in place. In less than a minute more, he was done. He kept a hold of Yang's hand as he gave another worried look.
"There… please be more careful. Everyone is worried about you, myself included," he said reassuringly. Whatever was eating away at Yang mentally indeed had everyone worried, but Jaune intended to try and play it off that it was just her knuckles, for now. He'd find out what was really wrong soon, but he knew he couldn't rush for an answer. After a moment of silence, Yang replied.
"…Okay." It was a rare sight to see Yang act so passive, so shy. She hadn't been on the receiving end of care for a very long time; since Summer Rose died. To receive it again, from Jaune of all people, left the girl speechless. At this point in time, Yang was a mixed bag of emotion; but in Jaune's presence, she had begun to feel calm once more.
"Come on, everyone's waiting for us to have dinner," Jaune said as he lead the speechless girl out of the darkened gym and into the light of the halls.
"Nora! I told you to wait for me to come back!"
"Sorry Jaune, but I was sooooo hungry! And you were taking too long, the food was going cold!"
Yang giggled at the antics of Jaune and his team as she took her place with the rest of her own. She'd have to explain the bandages to them, but she didn't mind all too much right now. She had finally calmed down.
Jaune knows, I'm sure he knows. I could tell by the way he look at me; he knows I'm hiding what's really wrong. I'll have to tell him… he'll make me, in the supportive way he does. I suppose I have no choice, but for now… it can wait.
Hello Jellybeans, I'm back (again)! It's been a considerable amount of time since I've posted anything and I am deeply sorry for that. School exams are now over in Australia (YAY!) which means I finally have time to get back to writing. This means more 'The Shining Knight,' more 'The Bond We Share,' and more of this new story! So let me know what you think of Chapter 1 by reading and reviewing. If you like it, hit that follow and/or favourite, and I look forward to writing for you all once more.