Shout out to THEREADINGADDICT123 for their suggestion on the name for Emerald's weapons!
But don't despair my fellow readers! As the story progresses, I will require your imagination and creativity to name other weapons, guilds, and Jaune's EXP fodders – I uh mean Temporary OCs because calling all foot soldiers "WHITE FANG GRUNT" would be lazy and cruel!
"…After investigations, Atlas' military has confirmed that the terrorist group known as the White Fang was responsible for last week's train heist. No casualties were reported during the attack but officials report that the Schnee dust shipment has been stolen…"
Jaune stopped listening to the nearby radio and focused his attention on the girl who was sitting in from of him.
Or rather – refocused his attention.
It was somewhat hard to pay attention when said girl had been spending the past half hour on her meal. Which, by the way, was paid for by the lien she stole from him. He really should put his money in his inventory from now on.
The noodle restaurant she brought him to was quite spacious considering the fact that it had just opened up. The air was slightly humid with a fishy aroma that clung to it. The circular tables were separated by a big distance from each other, probably for the convenience of private conversations between customers. Although, there wasn't a worry that someone might listen in since the entire restaurant was muted with the chatter around them.
There was just one tiny issue Jaune had. The place was crowded with people – customer and workers alike. Now the problem wasn't the crowd that he was currently a part of. No, the problem was why they weren't kicked out of this place for bringing in weapons! Seriously, why wasn't anyone concerned about this? Jaune was paranoid enough to put his bat under his chair. But Emerald, in all her thief's glory, decided to place her two revolvers in the middle of their table! The worst part was that Jaune couldn't understand why nobody here wasn't paying attention to them!
"Observe." He muttered under his breath.
Lapur Berdea (Revolver Form)
Grimm Kills: 1562
What's better than a deadly, efficient weapon? Two of them. Dust caliber revolvers effective up to high-mid range. Can shift into sickles capable of cleaving steel with a single swing.
'My god that damage…'
"Something bothering you? You've had that annoyed look ever since we've been here." Emerald asked, slurping a spoonful of soup into her mouth.
"Let's start at the part where you promised me that you'd tell me everything you know." He hissed under his breath.
"Wow, impatient much?" she playfully scoffed. "Didn't you ever hear that old saying, 'Patience is as valuable as a pickpocket's…."
He gestured his hand for her to continue. "A thief's what?"
"I don't know, it's surprisingly hard to relate martial arts philosophy to pickpocketing." She shrugged.
"How is that an old saying then?" He sighed.
"It's the principle that counts, ok?" she pouted in return.
'Resist the urge to slam your head on the table Jaune, she's obviously playing you.' He repeated in his thoughts. Emerald was someone you could never underestimate. One minute she'll be ordinary and innocent, then she'll suddenly turn into a killer with a gun held against your throat.
The blond cupped a hand over his mouth as he released a sigh, "Just…Just tell me already Emerald."
"Aw, you're no fun." She grinned. "Fine, if you're that eager to lose your innocence then I'll talk."
They stared into each other's eyes in a lapsed silence.
He gestured with his hand for her to continue. "Are we playing this routine again?"
"You're really impatient, you know that? Here I am trying to create some dramatic build up and then you just decide to ruin everything." Emerald puffed her cheeks. "Welcome to the world of hunters ~yaaaaaay~" She ended that last bit off in a low un-motivated tone and expression. "What? Were you expecting confetti and fireworks? Sorry, maybe next time you'll learn to read into the moment and shut up."
"World of hunters?"
She nodded. "That's right, starting today you're a huntsman – the unsung hero who will spend the rest of their life fighting the evil monsters known as Grimm. Not anyone gets to be a hunter though; you can train all your life but if you don't awaken your semblance – sorry, you're not qualified for the job. Hell, you won't even be able to see a gateway without a semblance."
"Semblance? What's up with that? I remember you laughing at me for 'awakening my semblance this late'" he asked.
Emerald brought a hand under her chin for a moment, thinking of the next words for the blond. She placed her hand on the table before continuing. "It's what makes hunters, you and I included, 'awake'. It allows us to see what the majority of people can't. An example would be gateways – the floating colorful orbs that you'll be seeing until you're dead in your grave. Now -"
"Can you explain more about these gateways?" Jaune had thought that he would get his answers but now he even had more questions popping up in his mind.
She idly tapped over the handle of her gun. "What did I say about interrupting a girl while she's talking?" Jaune zipped his lips in a quick motion. "Where was I again – ah right, the other thing about semblances. Awakening your semblance also means that your soul is able to manifest itself outward from your body. This creates a unique crack in reality which allows you to manipulate it based on your soul. Think of it like a special super power based on a certain characteristic about yourself that only you have."
His shoulders relaxed a bit. Ah, so that explains why his perception of everything around him suddenly turned into a video game.
"Like I said earlier: not anyone can be a hunter. The moment you're born into this world, the supernatural determines if your semblance is awakened or not. That doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a super-powered baby either. The latest age one awakens their semblance is 10. It's a rare scenario, but you can awaken at a later age but your chances of dying by Grimm sky-rocket."
"But why is that? I mean, I'm still alive and breathing." He mentioned.
"That's because you only awakened your semblance yesterday, you idiot." She rolled her eyes. "The mind of children are flexible. They can adapt and comprehend much more easily compared to the adult mind. Honestly, I'm surprised your mind didn't lock up at the sight of your first grimm. That's usually what happens to people your age or higher. So forgive me for laughing earlier, but you're actually the first person I've met to awaken this late and survive." She took a sip from her cup.
If Jaune was completely honest, he was bloody terrified when he first encountered that Beowulf. If it wasn't for that warm feeling he'd been experiencing ever since he awakened his semblance Jaune would have been dead for sure.
"Ok, so I understand how I got these powers, but why exactly do we have to risk our lives killing Grimm? They're not exactly endangering the majority of Remnant." It made sense the more he thought about it. You needed to be awake in order to see gateways. If that's the case, then why bother engaging in combat?
She scoffed at Jaune's logic. "What? Did you actually think you can live an ordinary life and avoid gateways and Grimm? That's what every hunter thinks when they're just starting out. Jaune, let me be blunt here" – Emerald suddenly stared at him with the same look she had when she held her gun to his neck – "In this world, it's kill or be killed."
All he could do was gulp as he continued to listen to her.
"The moment your semblance is awakened; your soul becomes a lighthouse to the gateways. In other words, you're a walking magnet. So you can run all you want, but sooner or later you're going to get cornered by one of those things. Plus, even if you did manage to avoid the gateways, there's no way in hell you're going to avoid getting caught in a gateway's Void radius if another hunter decides to engage it. It's just like you said earlier, one minute you're waiting by an intersection then all of a sudden you end up in the Void since a hunter – which was me by the way – opened up a gateway.
"So how exactly big is the radius?" he inquired.
She shrugged. "Don't know. Sometimes it can be as small as a building or it can be as big as the entire city. It all depends on how strong the Grimm in that gateway are."
"You've been talking about this 'Void' place for awhile now. So far all I know about it is it's where the grimm are and that we have to kill all of them in order to escape it. Not only that but when we did leave the Void, not a single minute passed and no one seemed to care that we appeared out of thin air." Jaune pointed out.
Emerald pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a sigh. "Alright, this part is always the hardest to explain. Give me a second, I'm going to try and regurgitate what my mentor told me when I asked about the Void."
And so they sat there in silence. Emerald had the appearance of some wise person lost in thought with the way her arms were crossed and her eyes were scrunched up tightly. Jaune was drumming his fingers on the table to pass the time.
"Ok, I think I got it." She said. "But keep in mind – if you want to understand what I'm about to say, you must not think about it. Just accept it for what it is, otherwise, you're going to suffer a massive headache."
Jaune nodded his head in agreement.
"Good." She said. "Now the Void is a complicated place but at the same time, it's the simplest. It's real but at the same time, it's not real. Everything in the Void exists but at the same time, it doesn't exist. Time there is infinite but at the same time, it's zero. It's a par-"
"Huh…" Jaune muttered with a dumbfounded look on his face. His mouth was hanging open and his eyes seemed to forget what they were seeing in front of him. He was about to enter an inner dialogue with himself until he felt a sharp pain erupt from his cheek.
"Oum, you have the same look I had when she told me for the first time." She huffed, smacking him on the cheek again to get his attention. "Just *SMACK* Accept *SMACK* IT *SMACK*. It'll be easier for both of us this way."
"It's kinda hard to accept something when you keep contradicting yourself!" he retorted while rubbing his hand on his cheek.
"Idiot, that's what I'm trying to tell you. The Void is just one big paradox – something that's not even possible becoming possible! That's the reason why not even a single second passes when a hunter returns from the Void. The moment we enter the Void, our existence becomes null. At that very moment, we don't exist in our reality anymore. That's why nobody gives a shit if we suddenly appear in front of their faces. The moment we leave the Void, our existence becomes whole again. Reality becomes warped and the perception of any civilian around us is altered in order to fill the missing gap of our existence." She inhaled a large amount of air when she finished her explanation.
"So what you're saying is that when we return to our reality, it would be as if we were standing there the whole time?" he came to the realization.
"Huh, would you look at that." She sighed in relief. "Second day on the job and you're already getting a hang of the ropes. Well if you understand that much then I guess I'll be returning to my guild then-"
"W-Wait!" he brought a hand up.
"What? I'm sure I've covered everything you need to know about this new world." She raised an eyebrow.
"What about guilds? O-Or whatever you were talking about earlier. I think you called it the System?" Now Jaune wasn't an idiot. After playing more than enough video games he knew what the concept of what a guild was. But he wasn't sure if the information he had could actually be applied to this new "world".
"Oh yeah, I thought I was forgetting something." She realized. "Well, think of the System as a set of laws that Hunters have to follow if we want to have an easier time surviving." Emerald paused for a moment. "Actually, let me rephrase that. Laws would imply strict order; the System is more like… a set of optional guidelines."
"Should I be concerned about the way you said the last part?" Jaune raised an eyebrow. The girl who sat in front of him was a thief – a dangerous one at that – which meant that laws basically went out of the window for her. So is she saying that he had to follow these laws or are they optional?
"I mean, you don't have to follow them." She rolled her eyes. "You could just spend the rest of your life mindlessly killing Grimm if that's what you want. But that would suggest charity work, as in free beneficial labor in the eyes of the Hunter world." Emerald appeared to be fake gagging at the last part. He wasn't surprised by her demeanor, though; it was expected by the implications of her title.
"But what's wrong with that exactly?"
"What's wrong is that you don't get any benefit in it what so ever." She continued. "You asked what guilds were in this world, right? From a pickpocket's perspective, guilds are like street gangs."
"Street…gangs?" he stared at her with a confused look.
"Yup." She grinned at his reaction. "Guilds are just a bunch of other Hunters that band together under the loyalty of the gang leader – I mean Guild master – and they take jobs from clients in order to earn cash and other things of value. The more jobs that a guild completes, the more its reputation grows which creates even more jobs for the guild to take. Not only that but by being in a guild you get protection."
"Protection?" He said the word aloud, allowing it to sink in.
Emerald's eyes shifted into a dangerous gaze once again. "Like I said already, it's kill or be killed. I can tell from that innocent look in your eyes that you doubt me. I'm just a girl who's good at stealing and kills monsters in her spare time. That doesn't make me sound any trustworthy, am I right? But believe me, that's the philosophy of the world we live in. It's cruel and harsh, but that's the truth. If you're part of a guild, then at least you know that someone's going to protect your pockets if you ever decide to turn a blind eye."
"So what you're saying is … financial security?" he concluded from her speech.
"Exactly – wait wha – no!" she slammed a fist on the table. "That's not what I meant at all! That was a figure of speech, you idiot. I meant that the guild's got your back if you're ever in trouble."
Jaune scratched the back of his head in mild embarrassment.
"That's pretty much what the System is in a nutshell." She got up from her seat and brought her revolvers back into their holsters. "And before you ask – yes, there's a lot more information that I'm not telling you about the world of Hunters. I told you what you needed to know. The rest is just filler crap that can be obtained on your own or from your guild mates if you decide to join a guild."
…Join a guild. Now that he thought about it, the description that Emerald told him practically matched the guild systems he'd been part of in his video games. Guilds provided a source of income and protection. That was the basic concept he got from her. If this was like his video games, logically, he should join the strongest guild for the highest benefits.
But a problem arose from his logic. Jaune had absolutely no idea on how to find a guild. How the heck was he supposed to join a guild when he didn't even know where to start? 'I mean I could try using Google but that sounds like a really stupid idea.' He mentally grimaced at his pathetically few options.
He glanced towards the Grand Pickpocket.
She was powerful and over leveled him by a large amount. Heck, if she was level 32 then what level would her guild master be – an idea suddenly hit him.
'Would that really work? She's been friendly to me so far but this seems a bit too much to-
The Classic Part of Any RPG: Guilds are an important aspect in the world of Hunters. Emerald Sustrai is an example of an individual who belongs to one of the many guilds! Perhaps it would be wise to become her ally? Or would it be better to explore and find another guild? Join a Hunter guild!
Time Limit: Unlimited
Completion Reward: Guild Title, 125 Exp
He instinctively pressed on [Accept]. The Game sure had a way to bribe him with Exp.
She threw lien – most likely his – on the table. "Thanks for the meal but I got to go now. Procrastinated guild responsibilities aren't going to finish themselves you know."
"E-Emerald wait!" he called.
She let out a faint sigh, "What now? I'm sure I covered everything you needed to know. Wait, if this is about your lien then sorry but I stole it fair and square."
"What…" he deadpanned. "Never mind about the lien. Look, you're part of a guild right?"
"Yes?" she answered cautiously, brow slowly rising from the blond's question.
"And your guild is full of strong Hunters like yourself, right?"
"That's…" she paused "... debatable. Jaune I know you're stalling, so I'm going straight to the point – what do you want?"
"I-I'm just saying…" he bit his lip, azure eyes dancing at every corner but the person in front of him. "…um…Can I join your guild?"
"Eh?" she stared directly at him. "You being serious right now?"
"Yes! You're strong, like extremely strong." He forced his eyes on her, determination set within, "And I bet your guild's reputation must be well known if your guildmates are as strong as you are."
"Again, that's debatable." She said with a grimace. "Look, Jaune, you seem like a trustworthy guy. Judging from your facial reactions, I know that you're telling the truth about awakening your semblance yesterday. Which means I don't have to worry about you being a spy if you join my guild."
"Is that a yes then?" The corner of his lips subtly forming a grin.
"But it isn't my choice to make." She sighed. "Only the guild master can accept new members, and sorry to say this but I'm only just a member. Hell, even then my guild master is very picky with who gets to join."
His shoulders suddenly became heavier in slight disappointment. But then again, Jaune Arc, a follower of the glass cannon movement, was hardly one to give up. "E-Even so, I still want to join your guild."
"Wow, aren't you determined?" She noted. "Well if you really insist on joining, I could always try and recommend you."
"Really? You'd do that for me?" his eyes widened.
She smirked. "Not to brag or anything, but I'm actually the first member to join the guild. So I guess you could say me and the guild master have a good relationship. Of course…" she leaned forward, "…you're going to have to do something to impress me if you want that recommendation."
He gulped. "What do you have in mind?"
She placed a finger over her lips and stared aimlessly at the ceiling fan. "Don't know, as long as it's interesting to me I don't really care."
His eye twitched momentarily in response. How exactly was a level 3 supposed to impress someone like her? Perhaps using the Observe skill would give him an advantage over this issue.
"So Emerald, you're going to have to observe whatever I'm doing that's interesting right?" The issue of having voice only controllers was that he had to word his sentences very carefully if he did/didn't want to use his abilities.
"Pickpocketing isn't a crime; it's an art!"
"An experienced huntress with a gift of sleight of hand. Prioritizes lien above many things but always puts her responsibilities towards her…"
And it cuts off from there. Jaune wasn't expecting much, considering his Observe skill was only level 2. Honestly, how difficult was it to level up this skill?
And what the hell was Aura? He'd have to ask her later if he ever got the chance.
The only useful point he got out of that was she was interested in money, which didn't surprise the blond at all considering the fact that she was a thief. He only had one thing going for him right now. If this doesn't interest her, then Jaune wouldn't know what would.
"What are you talking about? Of course I have to observe you." Her eyes narrowed. "How else am I supposed to tell if it's interesting enough for a recommendation?"
He bit down the inside of his cheek to ease his nerves. The warm feeling had sprung up from within again. Jaune could feel his tense mind relaxing. His thought process was straightening itself, his next words slowly becoming clearer.
He innocently raised his hands up. "Sorry, sorry, just making sure is all. Say, you call yourself the Grand Pickpocket, right?"
'First, create the foundation.'
"What about it?" She eyed him suspiciously.
"Well, I was just thinking about how you must be an expert at sleight of hand." He said.
"Oh? Is this your attempt at trying to get a recommendation? Sorry, but flirting with me isn't going to get you into the guild." She playfully jeered at him.
"N-No I'm just saying facts, that's all." he coughed. "Another fact: did you know that pickpocketing is considered stealing in the eyes of the law?"
'Next, build up from the established foundation.'
"So I've heard." Her tone was suddenly cold and empty.
"But in my opinion, I think that your profession is misunderstood." This seemed to make her eyes widen in confusion. "Most people would see pickpocketing as a crime, but to me, I think it's a form of art."
'Next, find an investor who will-
She pulled a chair and quickly sat down again, "Finally, someone who actually gets it! You know, most people I meet usually see me as some street rat who's desperate for some quick cash. But you're the second person so far who shares my vision!"
'Okay, was not expecting this at all. I'm going to have to fire the investor now and continue building.'
"I understand how it feels. To be extremely passionate at something and yet have the majority of the community looking down upon you for following your passion." He looked into the distance, recalling horrible memories.
"Being a glass cannon is bad Jaune… Glass cannons are too squishy; it'll never work WhiteKnight64… Arc117, you should really invest in some defense stats… WHO THE HELL BUILDS 6 BLOOD THIRSTERS ON SORAKA?!
"…Those filthy non-believers." He hissed after a brief moment of silence. He was met with a raised brow from Emerald. "Sorry, bad memories surfaced up. Ah, anyways, I take it that you have an interest in money?"
She leaned closer, her focus fully intent on the blond. "Go on, I'm listening."
He let out a quiet chuckle as Jaune skimmed through a mental list of video game quotes he accumulated over the years. "Well, here's another philosophy that this world follows: 'money is power'. And I might not look like it, but I have a passion for accumulating power. I guess that passion became my semblance."
"Ok, now you've got me interested." Her voice seemed higher than usual as if there was excitement in her tone.
This part was do-or-die now. If she was interested, Jaune would be in the guild. If not, well…Google Search.
'And finally, add a teaspoon of sugar… I honestly had no idea how I went from house building to baking.'
"My semblance," he took a deep breath and gave Emerald the best poker face he could muster, "is that for every Grimm I kill, their corpses will drop lien."
He figured this mechanic out when he recalled Emerald's encounter with the Ursa. Not a single reward gem was dropped, thus Jaune concluded that he had to be the one to kill them for drops to occur.
Jaune was aware that Emerald could tell if he was lying. But they say the best lie was half the truth. He could have told her the truth about his semblance, but then her views on the blond would significantly change. Right now, Emerald assumed that Jaune's heart was aimed towards money. If he were to reveal his passion for video games instead then he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to get the message fully across.
"Seriously? You're not pulling my leg, are you?" she demanded.
"You said that you can tell if I'm lying. Does that mean you doubt your ability to read someone who is as weak as I am?" he asked.
She examined his face for a moment before heaving a sigh. "No, you're definitely not lying. It just sounds too good to be true. So how much lien do you get per kill?"
'Speech' level has gone up by 1!
He shrugged, ignoring the screen in front of him. "So far I only got 20 off of one Grimm. I'm not entirely sure how it works. I could either get 20 for all my kills or it could increase based off of how strong my opponent is."
"Want to test it out?" she asked with an eager grin.
"Uh, I'm pretty sure I've said this already but just so we're clear, I almost died." He deadpanned.
"Pft," she scoffed, "There's a huge difference between almost and completely."
"I have no combat experience what so ever." He continued with a dead stare.
"It's fine, I could always cover for you. Hell, I'll even kill all of them except for one if it bothers you that much. It's a pretty good deal." She added an icy feeling in her voice. "A deal that I recommend you take if you want to join the guild."
Wow, she's using that card against him? He figured as much.
He groaned in defeat. "Fine, I'll take you up on your offer."
Her face lit up. "Great! Well c'mon I think I know the perfect gateway around this area for you."
"~Yaaaaaaay~" he cheered sarcastically.
After aimlessly walking around the streets of Vale, the two ended up in a parking lot. There, floating behind the back of a parked truck was a floating orb emitting a blue hue.
"Well, here we are. This Gateway should be weak enough for a newbie like you to handle." Emerald said. "I'll give you the honors."
"Entering the void of course. I'm standing beside you so I'm definitely going to be tagging along too. Just touch the orb and we'll be on our merry way." She explained.
When he touched the Gateway, Jaune was met with the same disorientating flashbang effect like the previous times. He rubbed his eyes vigorously to recover his senses.
By the time his senses did recover, his eyes were now staring at Emerald who was giving him a confused look. "Huh, I thought you'd be used to that by now." She said, appearing to be unfazed from the effects of entering the Void.
"What? Being flashbanged before having to fight demons?" he glared. He soon noticed black smoke materializing out of the ground in front of them. Just like before, the mist expanded and took form into shadow-like werewolves. There were four of them in total.
Before Jaune could even get into a fighting stance, three sounds of gunfire erupted beside him. He blinked a couple to times as three headless Beowulves collapsed onto the floor as smoke sizzled out of their corpses. He turned his head to the girl beside him and noticed that she let out a yawn while idly spinning her gun with her index finger.
"What? I told you that I'd leave one just for you." She put her gun away. "Well, have fun with the last Beowulf then." She cheerfully winked at the blond before taking a couple steps back away from the last enemy. "Try not to die, ok?"
He had no idea how to react to that. Should he be annoyed about the last bit or encouraged that she cared for his well being?
It was probably the latter. He looked over again and saw her playing a game on her scroll. Scratch that, it's definitely the first.
He tightened the grip on his weapon as azure eyes locked onto bloody red. He was terrified alright. But the thought that he wasn't alone this time or that he already killed one of these things slightly eased his worries. The fight should be fine. Even if the Beowulf was a higher level than the previous one, it still followed the same attack pattern. Jaune's main focus should be to wait for an opening and then aim for a crippling blow.
The Beowulf let out a scream filled with killing intent before it charged at Jaune. Anticipating that the monster was going to pounce on him, he jumped to the left to dodge. He blindly swung at the beast. The Beowulf howled in pain, but the damage wasn't enough to cripple it. Just his luck.
The Beowulf swung its left claw at his head. He quickly brought up his weapon to block the decapitating swing. Though, Jaune immediately regretted his decision as the force upon impact had sent the boy flying a couple feet in the air before crashing onto the asphalt. A couple of scrapes and possibly a bruise but as long as nothing broke he didn't mind. Thankfully, he could still feel his grip on the baseball bat when he landed.
"C'mon get up!" he heard Emerald call out in the distance. Jaune's heart sank in mild despair when he glanced over to see that Emerald wasn't even looking at him, but rather the screen on her scroll. "God damn Meta Knight and his down tilt lock..." she grumbled through gritted teeth while mashing her finger against the screen.
"Glad to know you got my ba– OH SHII-" If he rolled away any second later Jaune would have felt the discomfort of getting a claw impaled into his chest. He stood back up and readied himself. A bead of sweat trickled down his face when he noted the small crater that the Beowulf had created.
It charged at him once more, its neck extended and ready to sink its fangs into him. He put himself into a batter's position. With a mighty battle cry, the blond swung with all his might against the creature's lower jaw once it was close enough. The Grimm crashed against the door of a nearby car, the sound of glass shattering becoming muted under the beast's growls. Pressing the advantage, Jaune advanced forward. He swung again at the fallen Beowulf, sending its body against the damaged car once more.
It was just like before: sending the Beowulf into a state of helplessness while Jaune would continue to swing until the creature died. After five attacks from Jaune's bat, the monster's body became limp and a quiet snarl was released before the blood light in its eyes became dormant.
You leveled up!
Would you like to edit your stats now?
"Later…" he looked at the dead Beowulf.
He hadn't realized it while he was busy killing the Beowulf but Jaune was exhausted. If the heavy breathing or sweat drenched face wasn't any indication of his fatigue, then it was sudden desire to collapse under the feeling of increased gravity that made him realize that training and fighting on the same day was a horrible idea. Jaune felt a pang of guilt as he inspected the ruined car behind the decaying monster. It looked as if a Schnee transport truck had crashed into the rear.
"Well, would you look at that." Emerald whistled as she came up from behind. "You sure you almost had a near death experience against your first encounter with a Grimm? Aside from your poor stamina, I think that you handled the situation kind of well. No offense, but I expected the situation to burn up in disappointment considering the fact that 'you have no combat experience' what so ever."
Jaune shrugged, too tired to even care if Emerald had faith in him or not. "I guess my first encounter with the Grimm yesterday counts as combat experience. Actually, the first Grimm that I encountered was just like this one. To be honest, I thought that I was going to be in trouble, but I calmed down a bit when I realized their similar attack pattern. After that, it became a game of prediction. Heck, even if their attack patterns were unique, I could have just crippled it so it becomes docile and then proceed to do the same thing just now."
She slack-jawed. "Seriously? You were able to pick up on all that after just one fight against a Beowulf?"
He gave her a smug smile. "I play a lot of video games. Analysing enemy attack patterns became second nature to me after a couple of years."
"You don't say…"
Years of studying enemy mobs from video games had finally paid off. Although Jaune had suspected that a clear and organized mind from the warm feeling was the main factor for his victory. He wasn't as scared when he was fighting this time. More like anxious really. Replaying boss fights became easier once you beat them the first time after all.
The color of the night sky flickered a series of dark and light tones until the disoriented shade ceased to exist.
All enemies eliminated! Gateway cleared!
"…Emerald?" Jaune called out, staring at the car in front of him.
"Why is the destroyed car not destroyed anymore?" he inspected the parked vehicle. It was as if Jaune had never fought a Beowulf at all.
"Void." She answered with closed eyes.
"Void." She sighed.
"So I could set off a bomb in the middle of this city in the Void and nothing will happen once I return to my dimension?"
"…Void." She let out an annoyed sigh from Jaune's questions. "Don't try and change the subject. Don't think for a second that I haven't forgotten the whole reason we're here. So where is it? I don't see any lien from where the Beowulf died." She pulled his wallet out of her hoodie pocket. Jaune crinkled his nose in disbelief at her pickpocketing skills. "And your wallet doesn't feel any heavier."
Azure eyes glanced over and noticed a familiar gem lying on the floor. He turned to the girl. "You don't see that?"
She raised a brow. "See what?"
"Guess I'm the only one who can see it then," he noted, "Well, keep count on how much lien is in my wallet. And don't steal anything." His eye twitched when the girl returned an innocent smile at his request.
He reached out for the reward gem.
Reward Gem acquired! +40 lien added!
"Alright, check my wallet again."
Emerald opened up the contents of his wallet before she suddenly fixed a gaze unto it. "40 extra lien…Monty Oum… you can make a living with this kind of semblance."
He scratched the back of his head, "Really? I always thought tha- Hey what are you doing?!" he demanded as Emerald pulled the 40 lien out of his wallet.
She grinned. "Think of this like ah compensation for all the help I've done for you."
"C'mon Jaune," she cut him off, walking in another direction, "I have a guild to introduce you to."
"You've been staring at my guild with that ridiculous look on your face for the past minute now." She pointed out.
To say that Jaune wasn't surprised would be a complete lie. It's just that out of all buildings, it had to be this one? It was a dark building that stood in-between a small dust shop and an apartment-style café. While the other two buildings were quite plain with their chestnut walls and bright logos, Emerald's guild was the complete opposite. Its walls were painted black and above the entrance was a massive electronic display screen that presented the title of this building in large white text.
Grimm Eclipse. A well-known arcade in the city of Vale and a place where Jaune could relax and find some private time for himself. He found it very hard to believe that an arcade where he'd been going to since high school was actually a Hunter's guild in disguise.
"Are you kidding me? This place?" he gestured at the building with exaggerated hand motions. "You're telling me that an arcade is your guild? This isn't one of those things where there's a secret entrance that leads to an underground facility is it?"
"Do you have any idea how much that would cost us?" she scoffed. "Please, there's no need to make the guild hidden. The best place to hide is out in the open. Nobody ever thinks to look there."
"What are you hiding from?"
"If you manage to join the guild, I'll tell you about it."
He nodded in agreement.
"So…Grimm Eclipse…" he left the name out in the open. Jaune hadn't realized it until now. He always thought that the arcade's name was done intentionally for legal reasons or something. But after getting involved in this mess of a new world, it seemed appropriate for a guild to have this kind of name.
"… Isn't the name of our guild, no." She chuckled lightly. "Naming a building, a popular one as well, with our guild's name wouldn't exactly keep us hidden."
"So are we going inside to meet the guild master?" he asked.
"Woah there newbie, you can't just barge in there and expect the master to automatically accept you." She put a hand over his shoulder, preventing him from entering the arcade. "I said that I would introduce you to the guild, not recruit you."
"I thought you were going to recommend me?" he asked.
"I am." She replied. "But I can't be like: "hey guild master, I'd like to recommend some scrawny blond guy who just awakened his semblance yesterday to join our guild and don't be surprised at me but he's standing behind me as we speak." It doesn't work like that, sorry. I'm going in to give my recommendation; explain my case with the master first."
"And what about me?" he frowned.
"I don't know, go home or get lost. I don't care."She tapped her foot with impatience. "Look, the guild master is a quick thinker. So just come here tomorrow after school or something and we'll start from there. Good night, Jaune."
As Emerald casually walked into the building, a sudden realization hit him.
'She didn't even return my wallet!'
"Hey! Come back here!"
The moment school finished Jaune bolted straight to Grimm Eclipse. The airship ride was uneventful considering that the blond had lost his lunch and breakfast during the trip there. But for once, it might be worth the upset stomach.
By the time he reached the arcade building he noticed Emerald waiting in front of the entrance. Her face lit up when she noticed him. "Oh thank god you showed up! I was ordered to stand here the whole day until you arrived."
"Did you wait long?" he joked.
She puffed her cheeks. "Yes, you made me wait for a good 20 minutes! Do you know how many wallets I could've borrowed with that much time?"
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that." He said. "So what did your guild master say? Since you were ordered to wait for me, I can guess that I'm in the guild now, right?"
"Sorry, you're not in the guild." She sniggered at the disappointment on his face when he heard her words. "…Not yet anyways."
"She was interested in you if that's any consolation. I thought that she would outright laugh when I asked her that I wanted a scrawny kid like you to join." She pointed her head towards the door. "Come inside with me. You're going to have a…" she paused and bit her lip, "I guess job interview would be the best way to describe it."
It was just how he remembered it. Music from the stereos above made the cheers of children and teenagers in the room barely audible. You had to be up close to the various game machines if you wanted to hear the 8-bit soundtracks. The arcade interior lacked windows and the multi-colour lights were dimmed, creating a replication of either a horror-film setting or a shut-in's room (not that Jaune had experience of course).
He welcomed the nostalgic odor of pizza stains on carpet when he stepped foot inside. Emerald seemed to have an irritated expression on her face. Guess she wasn't much of an arcade person.
They walked in silence for the trip. Emerald led Jaune through an 'Employee's only' door which led to a flight of stairs and eventually into a narrow hallway.
"You nervous for your job interview?" she chimed, stopping at the door at the end of the hallway. The sign on the door read MANAGER/ OWNER. Huh, so the leader of the guild owned the arcade, makes sense now that he thought about it.
"I don't know. Should I be nervous?" he half-joked/ half asked. It shouldn't be that bad. Emerald did say that the guild master found him interesting enough to meet in person. It'll probably be just a couple of questions and he'll be in.
"Potential guildmate first," she opened the door and gestured the blond to come in.
The room looked like a generic office you'd find in a video game. White walls with bookshelves on one end and massive windows accompanied with a potted plant on the other. In the center of the room were a desk and two chairs positioned in front of it. Sitting behind the desk was the person which Jaune could assume to be the guild master.
She was a beauty if Jaune could find a single word to describe her. She wore a black blazer with a white dress shirt underneath. With ashen-black hair tied up in a ponytail and bright amber eyes that radiated an untouchable flame, Jaune had momentarily forgotten how to breathe when her lips arched into a smile.
She was the woman who would be his future guild master. And to be honest, he was seriously fine with that.
Cinder rested her chin above her hands. "You must be that scrawny boy Emerald was talking about the other day. Jaune Arc was it?" Jaune gave the thief a quick glare which was responded with an innocent stare. "You may address me as Ms. Fall for the time being. Come, have a seat and we'll begin the process to see if you're fit to join."
He silently nodded before making his way towards the chair.
Just as he sat down Jaune heard a faint click of the door locking behind him. "Emerald?"
She gave no response to him. With a blank expression, she made her way over to him. Weird. Emerald usually had something to say whenever the blond opened his mouth. What did he do to get the silent treatment?
"Was locking the door really… neces-" Jaune forgot what he was going to say next when he suddenly found himself face to face with the end of Emerald's Lapur Berdea.
"Guild master's orders." She said with an empty tone. "Turn around and face the guild master."
Cinder leaned forward, the smile still plastered on her face. "Now, now, Jaune. There's no need to feel discomfort about the current situation you're in. This is quite the common scenario Hunters face on a daily basis. I can assure you that this process will quick…or possibly painless if you choose to do or say anything unsatisfactory."
Jaune took it back. He took it all back. He was definitely NOT OKAY with this. Not at all!
"Now before we begin, tell me – what do you know about guilds so far?" she asked.
"W-Well, they're a source of income and protection for Hunters?" he mumbled. The room was painfully silent and he could feel his heart racing under the pressure he was in.
"Is that all?"
"Y-Yes that's all that Emerald told me." He stuttered.
She hummed. "Indeed, Emerald has explained to you the basics of how this secondary world works. Do you know why Hunters get involved with Gateways? Why we were chosen to slay the monsters known as Grimm?"
"Because…it's kill or be killed?" he recalled his conversation from yesterday.
"That's the main philosophy, yes. But do you know the reason? Why only a small population in this entire world have the privilege to fight?" They stared at each other in silence as if she was expecting an answer out of him. "… The reason us Hunters risk our lives against these monsters is because of negativity."
"Hatred, anger, depression, discrimination, the list goes on…" she counted out with her fingers. "When mankind was brought into this world, they were pure and clean of sin. The Grimm are what tainted mankind; creating the darkness in our souls. Gateways have two purposes. The first is that it acts as an entrance to the Void. The second is that it promotes negativity. It's like a parasite. It emits radiation which sinks into the host's soul which then influences negative emotion. The Gateways feed off of this negativity and become stronger as a result. Do you understand?"
"…That's why Hunters fight the Grimm." He was beginning to connect the dots. "Hunters go into the Void to clear gateways, which leads to less negativity."
She gave an approving nod to his conclusion. "Without Hunters to eradicate these gateways, Remnant would have fallen. This brings us to the central philosophy of kill or be killed. Hunters slay Grimm in order to protect Remnant, but Grimm slay Hunters in order to destroy Remnant. It's truly an inescapable cycle. And yet, this is what led to the creation of guilds – Huntsmen and Huntresses banding together against a common enemy."
She got up from her seat, revealing a black knee length skirt. The clicking of heels was the only sound in the room as she made her way towards the window. She stared into the horizon. "But the guild system itself is flawed. How could one band together when they were never really united in the first place?"
"…Multiple guilds." He muttered in realization. Jaune could understand what she was getting at but he didn't completely agree with her. Maybe it was video game logic talking to him since more guilds meant more variety in PvP guild wars.
She turned to face him, the sun's rays making her pale skin practically glow. She smiled at him. "Your ability to understand and draw conclusions is quite remarkable."
Did she just compliment him? That was a good thing, right? Lessens the chances of having a bullet flying through his head?
"Care to take a guess as to why these multiple guilds exist?" she asked.
He wanted to respond using his gaming experience but he didn't want to take his chances with Emerald. So, he decided to play it safe and say nothing at all.
"I figured as much." She crossed her arms. "Morality."
"Every guild is formed based on a certain type of morality. Some are similar in comparison but there will never be two guilds that follow an identical morality. The guild that I control is just one example out of the list of guilds around Remnant." She returned to her seat. "You're aware that there are multiple guilds, so why are you so interested in joining my guild that you had to convince one of my members to give me a recommendation?"
He gulped down whatever lump had formed in his throat. "Emerald was the first person I've met in the Void and after seeing her do quick work with those Grimm I knew for a fact that she was strong. Once I learned the basics of the System, I thought it wouldn't be such a bad idea to join her- er your guild. I thought, 'hey if she's powerful then I bet everyone in her guild must be just as strong too'. I-I think my assumption was true since from just uh… looking at you, I can tell that you're a dangerous individual."
He held a shaky breath when he finished.
Was it getting hotter in here or was it just him? Jaune could feel the individual sweat beads trickling down his face. Not to mention his clammy palms either.
There was a tug at the corner of her mouth. "Oh? So it's strength that drives you?"
"Then answer me – what is your opinion on power?"
His eyes widened at the question. Did she just…she did, didn't she? Now this was a question he could answer without fear. He slowly exhaled. "Power is…" Jaune fixed a confident smirk on his face "…everything. That's all you need if you want to achieve your goals. Power is the ability to laugh as you effortlessly rush through your enemies without getting hit at all. There is no limit to how much power one should have. You just need to have enough to strike your enemy down with one blow and then move on to the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, until all enemies are eliminated!"
He let out a quiet chuckle but immediately shut up when he remembered what kind of situation he was in. Jaune hoped that his enthusiasm on glass cannon theory didn't get him killed today.
The room went silent again.
Cinder let out a long sigh, either in relief or disappointment. "Judging from your response I can tell you have quite an adamant view on this subject. Very well then, I believe we're done here."
He straightened his posture, "S-So does this mean I'm in-"
"Emerald, would you kindly pull the trigger on your revolver?"
His blood froze solid and his face paled.
'N-no… oh god please no…'
He sluggishly turned his head over to Emerald. Their eyes met. But while his contained shock and fear, her eyes were distant; unreadable. "H-Hey…" he tried to beg for mercy but the words just wouldn't come out.
"Nothing personal, Jaune." She said before he heard the dreaded click of h-
Time stopped flowing.
Lapur Berdea: Green Bandit
[DISCONTINUED] Sorry guys, I don't have it in me to continue this story anymore. I hope you understand that I – ah, I'm just messing with ya' XD. Anyways, I've been absent for most of the summer. I had planned to end the chapter when Jaune and Emerald left the restaurant but considering that I'm heading off for university in like 3 days, I decided to push it to my limits and create an 8000+ word chapter. Updates will probably slow down, but since I'm planning on quitting LoL, updates might speed up. Who knows what dorm life will give me -_-.
Aaaaaanyways, I do hope you enjoyed the chapter. (Especially the ending :D )