Heya guys, happy reading!
Chapter 2: A Soul Forever Haunted
That was what she remembered the most. The mass panic that had spread throughout the city as people pushed and shoved each other, in an attempt to reach the docks. She remembered hearing the rapid breaths of her mother as they made their way through the chaos, remembered trying to breathe in the scent of her mother's hair as she clung to her shoulders, attempting to block the smell of smoke and what she later would recognize as blood. She remembered keeping her eyes closed, per her mother's instructions, and how her mind found solace in the white that her family was blessed with as a second vision.
But the screaming broke her makeshift peace. The never ending shouts of terror and overwhelming fear that had chilled her to the bone. Her seven-year-old self not completely understanding what was happening, but knowing that she should be afraid.
A sudden bark had stopped her mother, weapon drawn as she prepared to face the creature of Grimm that had gotten in their way. Ruby remained still, eyes shut tight, but in her mind she was screaming for her mother to keep going, to not stop until they reached the shore. Yet the words refused to leave her mouth, and after the sound of a slight swoosh and a pained yelp, they were on the move again.
Something had changed though. She didn't know at the time, but her mother knew. She saw. The Grimm were all headed to the same place, only stopping long enough to kill anyone unlucky enough to still be nearby. They were going towards Signal Academy.
Her quick paces were slowing down gradually, and Ruby was SCREAMING inside for her to forget it, to keep going and live. But it was no use. Her mother would do as she always did, Ruby's pleas never heard.
They reached an empty street that was temporarily void of the black beasts that were roaming around, and Summer gently lowered herself, silently gesturing for Ruby to get off, before turning around to gently cup her chin, forcing her to look into her eyes.
"I need you to get to the docks now, little Rose. Momma's gotta do her job." She had spoken the words warmly, masking the fear and silent goodbye that weren't as obvious to a seven year old, but were now agonizingly clear.
Ruby nodded her head enthusiastically. "I will mom, I'll make you proud! I'll get to the docks real fast!"
Her hands making a zooming motion in an attempt to reaffirm her declaration.
A quiet laughter escaped her mother's lips as she quickly embraced her daughter in a tight hug. It was over as quickly as it started, leaving Ruby wishing for more, just as it always did. All too soon, her mother was standing up and turning towards the direction the Grimm had gone.
She looked back over her shoulder to see Ruby standing there, watching her leave. "Go on little Rose! See if you can beat your record! You can tell me all about it later."
Ruby smiled, but her insides were all but sobbing in desperation, trying to let loose the words she knew would save her mother from her fate. It would not happen. It never happened. She would turn and run as fast as she could. Just as she always did.
Then she would hear the growls coming from all around her. Beowolves trying to catch up to her as she ran. The demonic snarling beasts that stared at her with blood red eyes, boring into her with such hate that she didn't look where she was going and tripped.
They had descended on her immediately, slowly circling her, stopping her from continuing down the road. The screaming was still present, and at the time, she hadn't known it was her own screams that she heard.
But then there was the door, the open door to the home she had been cornered by. She hadn't even given it a second thought. Hadn't noticed its weak support beams, or the fire that was steadily growing on the second levels. She hadn't cared. It was away from the monsters, and it was safe. In an instant she was inside, the sound of wolves tearing down the home, trying to get in, following her as she slowly backed away from the door.
The last thing she remembered was the audible crack as the house collapsed, and the screaming that continued to ring in her ears as the world went dark.
Ruby woke with a start to the sound of a ringing alarm. Jolting upwards, she tried to catch her breath, which was coming in gasps as her mind slowly became clear. The bindings around her eyes noticeably damp from crying.
"Just a memory, Ruby," she whispered to herself, the last of the fog in her mind slowly dissipating, until it was only a comforting white that remained. "Just a memory."
Even after three years of being off that Oumforsaken island, Ruby still had the nightmares. She was honestly starting to think they'd never go away.
She couldn't complain though. On the island, she would wake up cold and alone, with nothing to comfort her but the white that never changed. Here she was warm. Here she had constant noise of the city outside to calm her down on particularly rough nights. But most of all, there was her family. Her father, who was the largest man she had ever seen, and probably the most gentle. Then there was her sister. The fiery pun-loving girl who never failed to make her smile. The heat that radiated off her, constantly reminding Ruby that she was never truly alone. Not anymore.
She was actually really warm at the moment, though sweltering might have been a more appropriate term.
Speak of the Devil and she shall appear, I guess.
Releasing an audible, tired sigh, Ruby sluggishly turned her head towards the obnoxiously bright aura of gold that was glowing from behind her door.
"Yang. Even if the miniature sun you call an aura wasn't enough to give you away, the fact that I haven't moved yet and I already smell like I just ran a marathon was more than enough indication."
A muffled laugh was accompanied by a large crashing sound that shook the entire house, signifying that one, Yang had entered her room and two, she would have to let Dad know that the door probably needed fixing.
"Please, Ruby, you hurt my feelings," her sister replied with mock hurt lacing her voice. "The sun doesn't even hold a candle against me."
Ruby sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose through her blindfold, trying to come to terms with the fact that she wasn't even five minutes into the new day and already she was being subjected to her sister's awful puns.
"A candle doesn't even hold a candle to you, Yang," she said with slight exasperation. "We tried, remember? There was a giant wax puddle in the middle of the living room. Dad was furious!"
"Heh, yeah," Yang agreed. "That was funny. I've never heard a more unique string of PG swear words in my entire life! Kinda made me proud."
The girls shared a laugh at the memory before falling silent. A comfortable quiet filling the room as both sisters enjoyed each other's company.
"I'm gonna miss this the most, ya know?" Yang said finally, the sadness easily identifiable in her voice. The day's planned events clicked within the younger girl's head, and she replied with quiet "Yeah" as she fiddled with her sheets.
Beacon's Entrance Exam was today.
Both girls had aspirations to become huntresses. Their entire family had been in the profession for as long as the family line could be dated back to. The problem was that Yang was two years her senior, and thus would be halfway done with her Beacon career before Ruby even entered the Academy.
What made it worse was that Ruby would crush the exam, if she were able to take it. She was the best fighter in her grade, and for good reason. No one else had the same level of experience fighting the creatures of Grimm that she did, and her use of aura was far more advanced than what was even taught at Vigil Academy. It was safe to say that she was academically the perfect candidate for becoming a Huntress in training. She was just "too young", as the Vale committee had declared when she had sought entry earlier that year.
Seven had been too young. Twelve had been too young. Fifteen? Well, eight years had done nothing but hone her considerable skill. Her weapon's design was tribute to that fact in and of itself.
But what was done was done. Ruby saw no need to fill their last day together with bitterness and sadness. So with a determined smile on her face, Ruby finally got up to stretch her limbs, an impressive symphony of cracks and pops accenting her movements.
Yang's golden silhouette visibly shuddered.
"Yeesh, Rubes, you sure you're not like, a hundred or something? You really should stretch before going to bed. You might not sound like crinkled paper in the morning if you did."
Ruby shrugged in an attempt to be non-committal. The dual pops that followed did little to reassure her sister. "I'm just too tired when I get to bed, Yang. I don't sleep much as it is, I'd rather not waste any more time trying to get ready to not do anything."
"The nightmares aren't getting any worse, are they?"
The concern in Yang's voice made Ruby cringe, internally cursing her inability to set her sister at ease, when it was something the older girl had little trouble doing in return.
Choosing her next words carefully, she replied. "Not worse, just more frequent, is all. And I don't seem to be having them until it's time to get up anyway. No need to worry yourself, sis." Ruby shot what she hoped was a convincing smile to her sister before putting her cloak on, fastening it around her shoulders and clinging to it as if it were a protective shield from the dark thoughts. It was a mechanical motion that told the tale of the action being a practiced routine.
Her sister sighed, though whether or not it was out of worry or acceptance, Ruby couldn't tell. Maybe a little of both.
"Well whatever the case, we should hurry downstairs. Dad's making pancakes before we head off to my entrance exam," Yang said, her normal chipper tone returning to her voice.
Ruby's face snapped towards the direction of her sister's, fast enough that pedals flew from her hair.
"Pancakes?!" She squeaked. Immediately she was up and attempting to push her sister down the hall towards the direction of the kitchen. "What are we doing up here still?! Let's goooooooooo!"
Yang picked up the younger girl and ran off towards the delicious aroma wafting from the floor below.
"Gah- Yang, put me down!"
Despite the rather exceptional weather Vale had been graced with for the day, Ozpin found himself surrounded by an air of melancholy, standing alone atop Vigil Academy's tallest tower. The island of Patch could be seen far off in the distance, and it was in these rare moments where the sun had not yet quite risen over the horizon, that he couldn't help but feel the island looked at peace. The silhouette of Signal Academy stood proudly, and even from afar it demanded respect and gave off the impression of a monument that would withstand the test of time.
But the moment was all too brief, and just as quickly as the serene image came to life, the first rays of light crept over the ruined tower, identical to the one he stood on now, and the semblance of peace shattered. Craters and depressions that weren't visible before became easily discernible under the harsh light of the sun. The school's once sturdy and dependable walls now lay in a pile of rubble, it's white color, that had countless of times inspired those who saw it, now stained by smoke that had long dissipated.
He remembered when he had commissioned the construction of the academy's of Remnant, centuries before. How each academy was named in accordance to their role in the fate of Remnant. Signal was supposed to represent the starting point to something, a new beginning. Yet when he had seen the flames climb high into the sky on that tragic day, he feared that it hadn't been a signal at all, but a funeral pyre.
Ozpin had made a vow that day eight years ago, to never let what had come to pass ever repeat itself. He had stepped down as the Headmaster at Beacon the next day, so he could be out in the field himself. The assignment he had bestowed upon himself and few others had kept them busy ever since, and it wasn't until recently that the mission was completed. After eight years of doing everything within his power to stop past events from happening again, he had realized he wasn't doing any good by chasing the shadows of the enemy. It was the future he had to prepare, not the past he had to prevent. It was this realization that led him to pick up his old post as Headmaster of Beacon.
He sipped his coffee with a slight smirk as he recalled the bewildered expression of Madam Goodwitch when he had walked into his old office a few months earlier. The nonchalant greeting he had given her, could quite possibly be the only time he had ever seen her so flustered she couldn't even form a stern expression, let alone coherent sentences. It was a feat he was quite proud of.
Ozpin winced at the memory of the tongue-lashing he had received after she had recovered. Goodwitch had quite the colorful vocabulary when she wanted to. Taiyang would probably have had a run for his money.
The sound of heels clicking across the stone floor had him turning around, the source of his thoughts walking towards him with an unamused expression.
"Ozpin, you need to be down in the stadium. Observing the entrance exams is a little hard when you aren't present for them." Irritation was evident on the face of Glynda Goodwitch, and the arched eyebrow that was accompanied by a perfected glare left Ozpin impressed every time he saw it. He decided it wouldn't help her in her current state to tell her he wasn't affected by it in any way.
"Fair enough, Glynda. I was just touring the school. These walls are still new to me after all."
It was a lie, and they both knew it. But Glynda, fortunately or unfortunately, didn't respond. She merely rolled her eyes and let out a huff, before turning back around the way she came.
Ozpin decided to remain silent as well, sipping his coffee with an amused smile on his face as he followed his friend to their destination.
"And that concludes the exam. Miss Xiao Long, you are dismissed. Your score and our decision on your admittance will be posted on the academy announcement board within the hour," Glynda stated, turning off the combat simulator as the lights around the room came back on.
The blonde brawler threw a casual wave before walking out the door, headed to where the rest of her classmates had gone. The door closed with a resounding bang before plummeting the room into silence.
"I think that went well," Ozpin said, finally breaking the quiet atmosphere.
Glynda was looking over her scroll, nodding absentmindedly at the comment. "Very well. Extremely well, actually. Nearly all students scored a near perfect score, with Yang Xiao Long scoring the highest at a ninety eight point eight percent. These numbers are astronomically high, and it would have been a pleasant surprise if even just one student scored in this range. To have an average in that range is completely unheard of."
Glynda glanced up from the charts she was studying to talk to him more directly. "In fact, Vigil Academy has had an exponential increase in its students pass rates in the last two years. The average exam score has jumped seventeen points, Ozpin. If they hadn't maintained that level of excellence during their stay at Beacon, I'd assume they were somehow cheating on the simulation."
Ozpin hummed in acknowledgement, though his gaze remained fixed in the direction that the last student had gone. As far as he knew, there wasn't an exit in that area of the school, and he knew for a fact that the announcement board was in the academy dining hall.
So where were all the students going?
Part of him wanted to shrug it off as kids wanting to hang out together somewhere, but he didn't think that was all this was. He hadn't really been paying attention to their mannerisms after the exam before, but now that he thought back, there had been a certain level of anticipation that all the students had shown after they had finished.
"-ven listening to me? Ozpin?" Glynda asked with more than a hint of annoyance.
Ozpin blinked, briefly glancing at Glynda before looking back. He didn't respond to her, just kept staring at the door. Glynda opened her mouth to speak when an enormous pulse of aura blasted through the walls, getting both of the professor's attention immediately. Glynda looked alarmed, but Ozpin wasn't outwardly fazed. He just calmly started walking towards the exit, intent on following the path the blonde had taken ten minutes prior, and finding the source of the aura.
"Come along, Glynda. I think we're about to see where those extra seventeen points came from."
As it turned out, the students had congregated in one of the academy's larger practice rooms. A crowd of about three dozen students had gathered around the stage floor, cheering on whoever was fighting on the other side. Shouts of "Knock 'em out!" and "End it now, Red!" could be heard intermittently throughout the crowd as people rallied to an obvious fan favorite.
Ozpin watched the spectacle with a certain level of amusement, but Glynda looked to be half way to having a hernia. She already had her weapon in hand, prepared to end the fight when Ozpin raised a hand to stop her.
"Now now, Glynda. This is their school after all, not ours. Sparring with each other after taking an exam is likely to be some sort of stress reliever," he said, just as another blast of aura went out, managing to actually propel the body of a familiar blonde into the ground at their feet.
A heavy groan came from underneath the mass of hair currently covering the entirety of the girls face. The clearing of a throat had a pair of blood red eyes glaring up at whoever made the noise, but a single glance at the faces of a rather pissed off looking Glynda Goodwtich and an intrigued looking Headmaster had her blinking hard, red changing to lilac as realization hit as to just who these people were.
A startled "meep!" was hear before the blonde jumped to her feet, her face fully visible, along with winning smile.
"Helloo!" came the sing-song voice of one Yang Xiao Long. "Come to see the fight, Professors?"
Yang had an innocent, curious smile on her face, as if this was an everyday event that often gathered an audience. Ozpin guessed it probably was.
Glynda seemed to be of a similar mind. "Miss Xiao Long, I'm more concerned as to how you think it's okay to allow this kind of behavior to continue."
Confusion replaced the merriment on the young girls face. "Huh? What behavior? This isn't a game. We're in the middle of our last tutoring session. Ruby is being nice today, letting us try to all take her at once since a lot of us won't be here next year," she rolled her eyes. "Not that it really matters. Even if we were on her level, that damn aura blast could stop a goliath."
"Oh? I wasn't aware that Vigil Academy had teachers that were fluent in aura projection," said a surprised Ozpin.
Yang looked at him funny, before she burst out laughing. "Sorry, my mistake. Ruby isn't a teacher. She's my sister, Ruby Rose! She'll be going into her third year here as a student next week."
A quiet "oh!" was heard from Glynda, and Ozpin turned to find her rapidly searching in her Scroll for something.
"Ruby Rose, age fifteen. Valedictorian of her class."
Ozpin looked at her questionably. "Why does this make you know her? She isn't even on Beacon's radar at her age."
Yang stared at him with her mouth agape. "Wha- have you been living under a rock?! Everyone in Vale knows my sister."
Glynda cleared her throat again, and threw a pointed glare at Yang who promptly looked away before turning to address him. "She's not exactly far off the mark on that, Ozpin. Ruby Rose is a little bit of a legend in Vale. She's the only survivor of Patch," she stated, handing him her scroll to read her file.
Ozpin's eyebrows steadily climbed higher as the girls record flashed on screen.
Name: Ruby Rose
Eye Color: Blind
Semblance: Speed Based
Weapon of Choice: Scythe
Medical History: Before being found on the coast of Vale, it appears that the patient experienced multiple hardships during a five year period of isolation. Thirty percent of her body is covered in scar tissue, and at some point in her earlier years, she received scarring around the eyes that resulted in the loss of her vision.
Patient appears to have a genetic anomaly that allows her to see the word through the presence of aura. She refers to it as "White Vision" and has demonstrated its capability to the extent that she is not considered to have a disability.
The extent of psychological damage is unclear. Patient seems to be resilient in that regard, though it is unsure if any lasting damage has been done, due to the patients lack of details given about her experiences on the island.
Ozpin raised his head to look at those around him. Both Glynda and Yang seemed to be waiting for him to speak, but he never got the chance.
A red blur and a flurry of petal erupted nearby, and Yang was suddenly tackled by a smaller girl in a red cloak.
"Heya Yang! How did the exam go? Do you think you did well? Sorry I didn't ask earlier, Audrey and Greene wanted to get one last lesson in. Was the simulation cool? Did you meet the professors? Were they badass looking? Is Goodwitch's weapon really a riding crop? That's kinda kinky, don't you think?"
Her head than swiveled to look at the other two people in the area, her blindfold and scar doing nothing to prevent the smile from showing brightly on her otherwise weathered face.
"Hi there, I don't believe I've seen your aura's before. My names Ruby! Nice to meet you!"
A hand was presented towards Ozpin, and he instinctively took it. The small hands were appropriately soft for a fifteen year-old girl, but that was where the similarities ended. The grip was akin to that of iron.
"The pleasure is mine, Miss Rose. I am Professor Ozpin, headmaster at Beacon Academy. My associate here is Glynda Goodwitch," he replied, gesturing to the beet red woman standing next to him.
Ruby chuckled nervously, scratching the back of her neck as her face slowly became the color of her cloak. "I uh, heh, don't suppose we could look past those last couple of questions, could we ma'am?"
Ozpin cut off any response Glynda would have said, trying instead to figure out the enigma that was standing in front of him."I'm sure she can see the humor behind the situation, Miss Rose. I am curious about one thing though. Your file showed several videos exemplifying your skill with the use of a scythe, Where did you learn to use it?"
The smile dropped from Ruby's face, and Ozpin was sure he had hit nerve. "S-Signal Academy..."
Ozpin raised a brow at the statement. "They taught a seven year-old girl how to use one of the most dangerous weapons ever designed?"
Ruby seemed to turn into herself, trying to bring the cloak impossibly closer. "My Uncle Qrow taught me, before he died." Her voice was quiet, and small.
Ah, so the dusty old crow is dead then. I can mark him off the Vigilante list.
Ozpin decided to change the subject before the holes Yang was staring into him actually caught fire.
"So what's an adorable girl such as yourself doing in a school to train warriors?"
He hit another nerve, though this one seemed to be more of annoyance than grief. Ruby rolled her eyes before responding. "I'm here to fight monsters, professor. I've unfortunately got two more years left before I can apply to Beacon."
The irritation was rather palpable on the young girls face, and he assumed that waiting two years was not something she was looking forward to doing.
"So you want to go to my school, now?"
The frown and anger slowly faded as his words sank in, and Ruby unconsciously straightened her posture. Both sisters looked at each other, serious looks adorning their faces.
They seemed to hold a silent conversation with each other, before they both nodded and turned to face him. When she opened her mouth, Ozpin knew whatever she was about to say would be the absolute truth.
"More than Anything."
Ozpin studied her for another moment, taking in the set jaw, and the furrowed brow that accompanied what he could only imagine was a look of pure determination hidden behind the stained rag covering her eyes. He glanced at Glynda to see if she was seeing what he was. The eye roll he got told him exactly what she thought about the situation. It made what he was going to say a little more fun.
Looking at Ruby again, he leaned back and sipped his cup of coffee.
Sighing as the caffeine went down his throat, he shrugged.
A collection of woops and cheers were heard throughout the hall, signifying that their conversation hadn't been all that private. Commands to calm down from Glynda were lost among the enthusiasm radiating from the students.
And as all that was going on, Ruby and Ozpin were the only ones that remained silent. Looking at the girl who held a certain air of command without even noticing it stand proudly as her sister shrieked with happiness beside her, he couldn't help but think that maybe he was wrong. Maybe Signal's demise hadn't been a funeral pyre after all.
Maybe all was not lost.
Yikes, I selected the wrong chapter iteration. There we go xD
Yes. Ozpin is really, really old. Though we'll get a lot more detail about his role in all this as time goes on, so don't worry if there are any lingering questions. On that note, it's Surprisingly hard to write from Ozpin's point of view. I just hope it wasn't too bad xD Chapter two everybody! I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly had a fun time writing it.
Anyway, leave a review! Tell me what you felt needed improvement, or what you liked :D
Until next time,
-A Simple Cup (of Joe)