Disclaimer: I do not own RWBY. There is only one creator of this universe, and may he rest in peace. We love you, Monty.
Chapter 1: Byproduct of a Forgotten Past
A vast, blank void that was visible as far as the eye could see. A never ending constant in life that no one ever noticed. It was a color thought by many to be cold and unremarkable, with no redeeming qualities except its lack of visible flaws. It was the color of purity. Though if one looked closely, past the limitations of the physical eye, they would discover a beautiful concoction of color that made up the life and aura of everything in the world around them.
Yet there was one thing that stood out among the rest. A black stain that threatened to corrupt the woven spectrum of light. Something that could not, and would not ever be part of the comforting embrace the ever-present white provided.
The Creatures of Grimm.
Black shadows that tore through the fabric of white, with no aura to help them try and belong to the realm they roamed. Beasts of the dark, whose sole purpose was to purge the world of light.
However, the Grimm were not the only threat to Mankind. And though the stories have long since passed into legend, it could not be denied that Man's greatest enemy was himself. For while most of humanity built their monuments to a so-called "free world" and civilization grew towards a brighter future, there were those who lusted for power. Those who would try to snuff out the spark of life and return mankind to the eternal black that surrounded them. But just as there were those who sought to take the world as their own, so were there those who stood to defend it.
The early autumn breeze that accompanied a steady downpour washed over the island of Patch, doing little to distract Ruby Rose from her current objective. She sat perched on one of the several branches that hung out at the edge of the clearing she'd been patiently observing since sunrise several hours prior. Not that she knew how long that had actually been. The white plain she saw the world through never changed with the position of the sun. She'd been forced to count the days by the singing of birds in the early morning.
When she had risen earlier that morning however, she had been met with a silence that had only been kept at bay by the steadfast pattering of rain that echoed throughout the old hunter outpost she had claimed as her own. And rain on Patch told Ruby everything she needed to know. There would be no songs today. There never was on the day of the rain. Now though, the rain was joined by another group of sounds, the source of which had drawn the young girl to where she was now.
Within the clearing below was a nest of Grimm. The last nest of Grimm, the young girl added. Ruby had been meticulously wiping the entire island of the abominations for the last two years, and finally, finally, she was almost finished. The only thing that stood between her and her goal was a measly three dozen beowolves. The anti-climatic ending to this situation almost made her sad. Almost.
The girl sighed quietly to herself as she got into position. Just beowolves or not, their presence should be taken seriously. They wouldn't hesitate to kill her if given the chance, so she needed to get rid of them with a certain level of tact. With that in mind, she did what came naturally to her. She leapt into the middle of the clearing.
No sooner had she hit the ground than she vanished in a flurry of rose petals, only to reappear beside the two Grimm nearest to her. The beasts had no time to react to the new threat before their heads were relieved from their bodies in a single swing of the hooded girl's scythe. The bodies hadn't hit the ground before she was off to the next group, fluidly moving from one Grimm to another, practicing the dance of death as her blade found its mark with each change in direction. By the time the Grimm had pieced together what was going on, they had lost half of their number.
The ones remaining were quick to jump into action, howling their demonic cries as they charged the reaper that had disturbed their nest. Their howls of anger turned quickly to ones of pain as Ruby, undeterred by the sudden focus of the enemy, descended upon the rallying beasts in an instant.
Limbs were removed, heads detached, torso's split at the waist. Metal met bone in a medley sung by her blade, as it cut down the enemy one by one. The notes rang clearly throughout the clearing as they reached a fever pitch, until finally, the howls ground to a halt, and the blade and its owner ceased their movement.
Ruby stood still has her labored breaths began to even out, the exertion of the fight providing little more than a warm up to the young warrior. She watched as the bodies disintegrated from the world, the clearing being cleansed of the black stains that had been so plentiful moments before, as it returned to the white normally occupied by the space.
Then she heard it. It was quiet, almost imperceptible, but the sound of feet padding along the hard ground was unmistakable. They weren't the heavy footfalls of Grimm that had made up the majority of her small list of sounds she heard on a daily basis, but the graceful movements of a wolf.
She felt its presence before she saw it. The wolf's aura was old and powerful, and its silver glow was almost invisible amongst the white. She knew instinctively that the majestic predator meant her no harm, its aura wrapping around her in an embrace she'd become familiar with over the last five years. It had been there in this very same clearing half a decade before, when Ruby's world was still one of peace and innocence.
The symbolism was not lost on Ruby.
She remembered feeling fear when the then young wolf had come sneaking up behind her seven year old self. But it hadn't bared its teeth, or growled menacingly at her like she thought it would. It only stared at her, its pale blue orbs boring into her own as if trying to convey some hidden message, when she was suddenly engulfed in fear once again. But it wasn't her own fear she was feeling; it was the wolf's. She'd later realize the significance of the bond they'd briefly shared, but at that point she only knew that something was amiss, and she wanted her mother. The rest was nothing but a faint recollection of large black beasts she knew were Grimm tearing into people as they tried to flee the overrun island, and the screams of terror when they realized the action was pointless.
Ruby shook the memory away, not wanting to dwell on the source of her nightmares, lest it visit her later in her dreams.
The wolf seemed to understand her predicament as it pushed its aura into hers again, as if to ask her to pay attention. She wasn't going to try and believe that at some point she would be able to talk to her unofficial companion, but basic emotions could be discerned from its aura when it was directed at her. Most times, when she felt the beast's presence, it was just a reminder she was never truly alone on this island of purgatory. Now though, the emotion was different. Something so foreign to her she had nearly forgotten what it felt like.
She felt peace.
An elated laugh escaped her lips, her throat already protesting the over-usage of the neglected vocal cords after so long of remaining silent. But Ruby didn't care, her home was safe. Patch was clean. As far as she knew, it could very well be the only landmass on Remnant that was completely void of any Grimm.
An earsplitting howl erupted from beside her, as her only companion raised its head to add its own voice in celebration. The declaration was met with distant howls from all around, as the wildlife that had been subdued for near half a decade, let loose their respective victorious calls.
Ruby listened to the forest come alive with a content smile on her face. She was finally able to let her guard down, finally able to enjoy the white she'd been so steadfastly defending for as long as she could remember. So at rest was she that she never noticed the wolf trotting away, it's own mission having been accomplished as well.
She didn't know how long she stayed in that clearing, but as she began her walk back to her home, she knew the sunset was growing nearer. The white that made up everything in her environment was steadily becoming more and more colorful. It was a beauty she could only compare to the fabled Northern Lights that were seen in Atlas, but this was different. These lights were made up of aura, and as far as she knew, only showed themselves once a year.
Every year, on the day of the rain, Ruby would watch in awe as the white would explode into a kaleidoscope of color. It would only last a matter of hours, but she lived for those precious moments where she felt more connected to the life outside of her island. She longed to join the colors she eventually realized were coming from Vale, to embrace the life that had all but abandoned Patch exactly five years prior. Her body physically ached to be closer, as if a higher power was telling her she needed to with the lights. And every year, she would release a pulse of sheer energy, trying to extend her own aura across the water to merge with the thus far unreachable stream of hues that seemed to beckon to her. Try as she might however, she was simply too far away for the people to feel her call.
This year was different though. This year she had nothing holding her back. The safety of her island had forever been on the forefront of her mind. She'd been thorough in dealing with the Grimm, and even more-so with those that brought them here in the first place. Even now, she still felt the lingering presence of those monsters who had wrought this once thriving community into a grave. Grimm Masks that were piled high in the town square and set on fire, still left a stain on the island Ruby wasn't certain would ever wash away.
Now though, that threat was gone. But they hadn't just disappeared. They'd moved. Ruby knew Vale, like Patch, had grown complacent to the threat of destruction. She knew those who had destroyed all that she held dear wouldn't stop at Patch. So she wouldn't stop either. It was time to leave.
The thought pushed her to action immediately. She began collecting things she knew she'd want later, which wasn't much. The scythe she carried would remain behind. It had served her well, but it was not hers, and she felt it necessary to keep it close to its previous master. Her cloak and blindfold were already on her person, and she took the time to tie spare strips of cloth to one of her biceps in case she misplaced one, as unlikely as that was.
When she was finished, Ruby took the time to take in her surroundings. Every shade of color, every edge in the room was a memory to her. This hovel near the coast had been her home for three years. What was once a Hunter Outpost, had quickly become a base of operations for the young girl, and she was quite fond of it. What she lacked in material possessions she had made up for in memories that surrounded this place. Learning how to fight from her Uncle Qrow, and later how to see when her eyesight was taken were just two of the many things that had happened within the confines of the structure.
But she could not remain. Already the colors that lined the coast of Vale were at their climax, and she feared if she stalled any longer, people would not notice her when she reached their shore. Thoughts of seeing her sister and father again fueled her desire to get moving.
The wind had died down by the time Ruby reached the edge of the island. The quiet crashing of the waves told her it was most likely low tide, which she was totally fine with. She had never tried to run on the ocean, but she assumed jumping over incoming waves would not help her reach her objective.
Ruby took one final look at the familiar shades of aura that made up the island she had lived on her entire life. The feeling of sand beneath her feet reminded her of her origins, almost begging her to stay. But stay, she could not. She could not stop the fall of Patch, but she'd be damned if she let the same fate happen to her remaining family. She was leaving. Now.
And as she took off streaking across the waters, the lone howl of farewell was lost among the roar of the sea, and the thoughts of reaching her family. For the first time in five years, Ruby was going home.
The atmosphere in Vale was the same as it was every year. Somber people who were trying to hold on to the last inch of strength they had to keep from crying. Blank expressions coming from the men who stood still, foolishly deciding to keep strong for their family, and widowed mothers and wives who felt no such sense of restraint, openly weeping for the lives of the lost.
Yang Xiao Long was one of the few who didn't shed a tear during the Vigil. The loss of her sister and step-mother had long since drawn all the moisture from her body, leaving only a hardened little girl who had grown up too fast.
Not that she didn't still miss her family. She did. Sometimes it would physically hurt to go through the day as if she wasn't missing two of the people she loved the most. But she didn't see the sense in crying over what was lost. She wanted to honor her sister. And her sister always thought of her as the strongest person she knew.
So Yang stood with the huntsmen and huntresses who kept a year-long vigil over the island, instead of standing with the crowds. Silently standing for three hundred and seventeen minutes a day, along the ramparts of Vigil Academy that mirrored its sister school on the island of Patch.
The only thing she hated about the Annual Vigil, was the damn rain. Without fail, for the past five years, it had rained on the day of the fall. Pouring relentlessly, as if the very land sought to punish them for their inability to stop the horrors that had befallen her home. It reminded her of her own failure to protect her sister, something she had taken seriously even as a child.
The Vigil always seemed to enhance her guilt too. Every year, she couldn't help but notice particularly strong gusts of wind from the island would often leave her wondering if the scent of roses that wafted around her was real, or a trick her mind played on her to depress her further.
This very same thought was going through her mind at that very moment, when something caught her eye. Yang watched with rapt attention as a single red rose petal floated across her field of vision, turning her head to follow its path as it drifted along with the wind, before finally disintegrating. Yang blinked hard.
What the hell?
A collective gasp rippled from the crowds below, and she felt it before she saw anything. Massive waves of aura washed over her, and the previously imagined scent of roses became decidedly stronger and more importantly real.
Before she even knew what she was doing, she was up and over the rampart wall, free falling towards the crowds that had gathered below. She didn't notice the awed looks people were casting towards the beach, or the gaping mouths that looked up towards the now drier sky. She was focused on the rain of petals showering from above and the scent of roses that was growing increasingly strong as she landed and made her way to the front of the crowd.
THAT was when she saw it. A red blur barreling towards the coast at unimaginable speeds, and the flurry of roses that followed in its wake. The sheer force of the object was enough to have people backing away from the beach, but Yang would not be so easily discouraged. Just as she reached the beach, the object skidded to a stop in the oceans surf. What she saw made her breath get caught in her throat.
Bent forward on her knees, panting from over-exertion, was a girl. Her clothes were in pieces, looking as if they had been the only clothes the girl had worn for years. A black shirt that had once been long sleeved had been cut from the shoulders down, revealing two lithe arms that were corded with muscle and littered with rough scars that that told the tale of a long, hard life. What was left of her pants had been expertly tied at the knees, leaving her calves and feet bare for the world to see. But none of this was what had stolen the air from Yang's lungs. It was the red cloak that had haunted her dreams for half a decade, wrapped around the girl and shrouding her identity from those around her
The newcomer still had a hood up, but she finally rose from her kneeled position, wobbling ever so slightly as her legs regained feeling. Yang took a step forward to help her steady herself, but she didn't get a chance before the girl's head snapped towards her, hood falling back from the sudden movement. Yang's blood ran cold as she saw the girls face.
Raven black hair that was roughly cut short, did little to hide the bloodied rag that covered her eyes, or the scar that ran diagonally from her left eyebrow to the right side of her chin. But Yang knew this girl.
She'd known her for her entire life.
Releasing a shuddering breath, and oblivious to the tears that were freely falling from her eyes, she spoke in a rough voice she barely recognized as her own. "R-Ruby?"
Chapter One, everybody :D It's been a long time coming. Literally. About 5 months in the waiting. And HUGE shout out to BurningPeace for being a great guy to talk to. Seriously, go read his story. Fang's Embrace is awesome.
Vigilance will be a long commitment. One that I hope will become easier to write as time goes on. But with School starting in a few weeks, do not be surprised if updates aren't a week apart all the time.
Please, drop a review. A writer only improves after harsh criticism. I will not get upset if you tell me you hated this chapter, so long as you point out valid reasons as to why it was poor.
Alright, this AN is long enough, Until next time,
-A Simple Cup (of Joe)