. . . .Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Yeah, so. . .Wass up?
Please, for the love of god, put down the wide variety of blunt and sharp weapons you've conveniently found laying around! I-I can explain why I've been absent for two long years! It's simple, really.
Life's a real bitch.
Its been far too long since I've said this; NeoShadows here and back after far too long with a long awaited chapter! And explanation.
Like I said; Life's a bitch. To make a very long story short-trust me, I've cut off plenty from this; I was fighting to keep the lease to my house, and lost said lease and had to find a new home because a property management company bought the property I was renting; Said new property management allowed us to stay for half a year more while we looked for a new place which took us until the last two weeks to find before we were evicted; I was promoted at work and had to work 9-10 hours a day, leaving me drained when I got home; Unsettling family secrets were revealed that put a heavy strain on everyone; Add all that together along with other unsaid events in the span of two years and ya got a nice heavy mixture of stress, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, irritability, and you pretty much got a guy who doesn't really feel like cracking open his laptop to write a thing.
Seriously, I had an emotional breakdown because of all that crap. Ya don't really feel like a man when you can't even keep a nice, warm roof over a small dog the size of a football. It was a very dark time for me.
Thankfully though, that's all over with. Despite our bad credit, we found an even bigger house to rent; I got my own room too! Finally settled into my new position at work, the family resolved that nasty matter, I ain't too worried about being poor as dirt anymore, working to getting my driver's license, and feel the long forgotten writer's juice flowing back into my weary veins again. I still feel tired from the long hours of work, but that's simply a part of life that I'm getting use to. That's why god invented coffee.
There's more to the tale, but I've bored you long enough with the details. I know what you want.
Multiplayer V2! Its been a long ass hiatus but I've finally come back. Let me tell ya, this chapter's been gathering dust for the past two years now. I had it nearly completed a year ago when all that crap brought me to my knees. Got it finished, patched up the grammar and got to editing, and got to working on the other projects I had in the back burner. I got a lot to make up for, so hopefully some of you stuck around with baited breath.
I may be tired, but I haven't given up on anymore stories. I mean, the day may come where my real life may have me hang up thee old fanfiction cap because of my responsibilities, but that ain't coming anytime soon. I still love writing and reading all these fics. Thee old noggin is still churning with ideas too, so I got to leak all those out onto the screen. And as long as nothing major comes around to disrupt this new ease in my life, I'll be delivering whatever stories I can!
No reviews this time; Next time. We've all waited long enough, haven't we? Let's just get to it! Scroll away!
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to RWBY. All rights are reserved to RoosterTeeth and Monty Oum; I got nothing.
Now that I've settled into my new home, and my own room, I can finally relax. No more sharing space with the little brother anymore; Nope! Got this space all to myself to do whatever I want in privacy. And no, that doesn't mean I'm going to get up to anything lewd.
[Swiftly hides away cellphone with various anime girls in revealing costumes and elemental puzzles amid sensual moans]
Project QT? Wha? No! Never heard of it. The fuck do I look like?! Some common degenerate?
. . .Lucy best waifu; All I'm saying.
Chapter 37: Children at Play.
It had been two days since the three man team that was composed of Lavender, Weiss, and Jaune had arrived to the camp of Camp Cambell, and in Weiss's honest opinion-
It had been nothing but hell.
Twitch growing on her finely shaped brows, Weiss gestured her hand to summon a dark colored glyph at a high angle above herself. Something flew by at alarming speeds, ready to fall to the earth like a comet if it wasn't for her gravity glyph catching the gleeful fishbowl in time. Her icy blue eyes glared at the small boy, dressed in some make ship astronaut's suit with a literal fishbowl over his face. The boy's big round nose was pressed against the glass as he grinned at Weiss.
"AGAIN! AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN!"
"Damn it, Neil! Stop shooting Space Kid off into orbit! You know he'll never even break the atmosphere!" Weiss snapped with a growing throbbing vein on her temple.
Behind the oddest machine she had ever seen built from random hardware, the local science expert and camper, Neil, poked his head out with slanted eyes aimed at the heiress.
"Not with that attitude he won't! Besides, I don't see what the big deal is. You guys are the ones that told me I should be nicer to Space Kid and hang out with him. How's helping him reach max velocity to break the earthly bonds into the vast unknown reaches of space wrong?"
With a flick of her wrist, Weiss set down the giggling wannabe astronaut with her semblance before flatly glaring at the smart boy.
"For One; No one on Remnant has ever been able to reach space! If a conference room full of grown adults and scientists can't make their way past the atmosphere than how on Remnant are two kids going to? And that will be a long time coming. The concept of an 'Astronaut' was only recently created a decade ago. Two; Getting along with Space Kid does not warrant continually sling firing him into the sky! And Three; You obviously know all this. You simply are using this as a cover to get rid of him!" Weiss lectured in frustration.
Neil shrugged at the accusations. Judging by his facial expression, he cared less of the accusations that were spot on, "You call it getting rid of him, I call it helping him reach for the skies."
"More like crash to the earth!"
Weiss was doing everything in her power not to fire a blast of fire at the smart ass little scientist. Intelligence clearly did not equate to good thinking. Or responsibility. Pinching her brow in frustration, she counted to ten before pointing at the odd contraption with a stern glare.
"I want that thing taken apart and its parts returned back to their proper places and functions. I know for a fact that the staff microwave has been on the fritz due to a few pieces being butchered." she ordered with no room for argument.
Neil gulped under the cold gaze and nodded swiftly. He knew by now when he had pushed the white themed huntresses far enough.
Seeing the brown haired nerd move hastily to put everything away, Weiss turned her cold gaze back down to Space Kid. Unlike Neil though, the space seeker looked up to her with a big old grin. It seemed special nutcases like him were immune to her frigid gaze.
"And you. . .stick to the ground; okay?" she said tiredly.
Space Kid nodded with a hearty salute to his glass head, "Yes, Commander Weiss!"
"Good boy. . .your helmet's cracked by the way." Weiss said dully, leading to a panicked cry from the boy.
Weiss chuckled at the sight of the little boy running off to tape off the small crack to his fishbowl. Space Kid really did take his dream seriously, entirely dedicated to becoming an Astronaut; a position in Remnant that had only recently been born out of mankind's desire to seek past the confines of Remnant's old body to new worlds.. She knew his name was really Neil, but like everyone else she had gotten use to addressing him as Space Kid. And it had only been two days. She was starting to think the camps madness was infecting her.
In those two days since Weiss had agreed to the weeping pleas of her senior in Beacon, she had found that for all her training in both the Huntsman arts, and the training in the upper class of society, she was sorely lacking in a matter that even the poorest individual could handle; caring for children. None of the classes in Beacon taught her how to handle a large group of rowdy children. Her father's lessons that she was sure cost more than the annual budget of this small camp by several figures did nothing to aid her in how to properly discipline a child who was causing trouble with no malice in their actions; discounting Max. When it came to caring for a crying girl or boy who was upset for some menial matter that didn't deserve a single tear, she couldn't recall a single lesson that would help her to calm the child down or soothe their worries.
A Huntress was a warrior, a protector, a shield that's radiance batted away the living embodiment of darkness; They were not trained to deal with children, let alone watch after those softy, vulnerable and highly emotional beings.
Adorning the handed down camp uniform provided by David, Weiss turned her head to the big old camp grounds that hosted to multiple outdoor activities with a worn out sigh. She could see the other campers going about their own hobbies with intensive fever that still shocked her. Each one of the kids really did have a passion for their own little dream. Unlike other children who would normally dream of becoming glorified Huntsman or Huntresses, these campers were entirely enthralled by other artistic passions. She could see Erid performing tricks on her skate board on the shoddily made half pike; Preston was shouting orders to his crew of stage hands, being which were stuffed animals, with a red face about lighting; Space Kid went back to his little cardboard spacecraft and pretended to fly through asteroid fields; and Harrison was defying simple physics by pulling a Beowolf's snarling head out of a hat-
Weiss blinked slowly, her face muscles twitching as she watched the young master of illusions scratch his chin with his free hand while staring at the creature of darkness he had pulled out of his favorite hat instead of a rabbit.
"Hmm, that's certainly never happened before." Harrison muttered in face of the snapping teeth of a Beowolf.
Weiss was quick to move. Unsheathing her rapier with a graceful flourish, its Dust chamber spun to an icy blue to dye the thin blade with a chilling frost. A click later and a knife pointed icicle was fired with bullet procession into the skull of the hungry Grimm. The head-shot rendered it to dark embers of nothing. Harrison smiled in thanks.
"Thank you, Ms. Schnee!"
Weiss's right eye twitched like no tomorrow.
'Semblance, it has to be a semblance! How else could some ten-year old pull a Grimm of all things from a hat! There's no other sensible explanation for that, or the countless weird things he does on a regular basis!'
But the brunette magician in training had no sign of his aura being unlocked. Harrison's explanation for his tricks was that it was part of his illusions, thanks in part to his magic. Except Magic was nothing but fables and make believe.
"I CAST REFLECT!"
"HA! The odds of you rolling an odd number in this situation for that spell to work are-"
". . .NO! MY HEALTH POINTS!"
Speaking of magic. Turning her head around, Weiss was quick to find one of her temporary teammates engaged in a game of something called LARP. She knew that Beacon had something similar to train on strategy and tactics, but she had never seen it played by people who were unable to use Dust or actual weapons. She couldn't help but roll her cold blue eyes at the sight of Jaune rolling around the dirt to put out the imaginary flames threatening to cook him alive. Nerris; a geeky dark freckle skinned girl wearing fake pointed ears and a cape; gloated beside the burning knight, cheering on about Stats and EXP with a bright grin on her face.
'Seriously, could he be even more than a dork?' Despite herself with an amused smile played on her lips at the fantasy role playing antics. At least Jaune was proving himself useful entertaining the kids. Weiss herself wasn't exactly well versed in interacting with children, not when her own childhood had been strict and disciplined. One could not do onto others that they themselves had never be subject to after all.
Entertaining the campers wasn't so easy for Weiss to handle. She prided herself on perfection, but this was a task that she wasn't sure she had much hope of easily adapting to. To those fun having campers, she appeared cold and strict; she lacked any creative idea on how to let loose and have innocent fun. Lavender was fairing much better off than the icy heiress despite their similar upbringing; the purple haired artist was bubbly and fit in very will with the children since she herself had small fits of acting out as a child. Jaune though? He fit right in like some missing piece to some chaotic puzzle. He could reign in a child like Nikki who was practically a mini clone of Nora; that alone made him far more qualified for this small role in their mission.
Which was fine, Weiss supposed with a reluctant admittance. One of them had to entertain the kids while someone monitored everyone and laid down the rules. She prided herself in being the responsible one at least. Such came with being in a highly unstable team as Team RWBY. Her eyes did soften as she watched Jaune being tackled from behind by Nikki in her latest attempt to steal his weapon for her own adventures before Nerris began to chant out some lightning spell to get the green haired girl off. A few of the other campers were quick to join the fun, rushing over to the blond knight who grinned at all the excited kids asking him questions and wishing him to join in their camp activities.
'For a dork, he's not so bad with children. He does say he comes from a big family, so he must be use to this kind of attention. Must be nice.'
Unlike herself, who could only supervise and scold them when they were up to no good. Who had one upon a time had only known the cold chill of loneliness. Where family had only brought an absence of warmth. Funny; she was a great huntress in training, but when it came to simple matters like this, she wasn't good at all. Understandable, but shameful. What would she do when she was out in a mission and had to entertain scared children from the threat of Grimm during times of defending? Who would have thought such applications would have their uses outside the field? It seems the title of Huntsman and Huntress carried with much more responsibilities than she had initially expected.
"Ms. Weiss? Uhh, my nose is bleeding."
Snapping out of her thoughts, Weiss glanced down to find Space Kid tugging on her forest green shorts. She then gasped lightly at the small rivet of red sliding down his nose.
"What did you do?! Did someone hit you?" Weiss glowered. Oh, someone was going away to timeout for a long time.
Space Kid shook his head negatively, "No, my rocket had hit a large asteroid and careened off into a planet. I had to use some quick thinking to maneuver it into a landing and suffered the consequences. But at least I discovered a new planet!" he said gleefully as his bloody nose continued to leak.
Not even questioning how the little astronaut had crashed a stationary cardboard ship, Weiss quickly knelt down to his level while reaching for her pouch. Taking out an embroiled handkerchief, she cleaned off the blood and leaned the big nosed child's head back a bit. Pinching his nose, she sighed.
"Just stay like this for ten minutes and the bleeding will stop. I also think it's time you took a break from your exploration into the unknown for a bit. Come on, let's sit down and take that break with a snack until you're all better. Then you can play with the others until the next activities, okay?" she instructed gently.
Space Kid pouted but nodded with a happy smile on his pudgy face. Weiss herself couldn't help but smile back at the innocent youth.
"Okay! We can talk about my latest discovery on Planet Neillion then! Can we?"
Weiss nodded as she lead the little astronaut away with small weary smile.
Children were tiring. They were more of a handful than Grimm; much to her disbelief. But, in some odd way, she found herself kinda enjoying taking the time from her work to put a smile on their faces.
It was something that she herself had wished her own parents had done when she was younger. A trivial lesson that cost her nothing, but one that she would take to heart. In this small regard, she would not fail like they did.
Patrols. They weren't exactly a new concept to Jaune now that he had already performed them in his first life before being resurrected as a Player. There were times his team would go out into the Emerald Forest or Forever Fall for field training as Ren would call them. They would practice foraging, setting a perimeter around the camp, some first aid, and trapping. Ren was the expert out in the field, knowing exactly what to do since he had lived his younger days out on the road with Nora. It also helped that the stoic ninja boy had countless years of experience with his resurrections that came along with his status as a Player. At least Jaune was able to gain some of that experience in his current run.
Fixing the red bandanna over his neck, Jaune continued his walk through the forest around Camp Campbell with an eye on his HUD. It was his turn to take over patrol for the next two hours since Lavender had returned from her shift. After an hour break between each shift, he had gone off to patrol the surrounding woodlands. As much as he would have loved to continue helping with the activities David had set up, Jaune still had a job to do.
Patrolling could be very dull. All they would do was walk through a perimeter they had set up using markers Lavender had created, keep a sharp eye out for any signs of Grimm, alert of any dangers, and take out the stray Grimm that had bypassed their perimeters as quickly as possible. And he did mean quickly as possible.
A rumbling growl caught Jaune's dulling attention along with the pulsing red dot randomly appearing on his map's HUD. His blue eye twitched in annoyance.
"I really do hate my status as a Player sometimes." Jaune muttered to himself like some repeating record. Spinning around with his hand gripping Crocea Mor's hilt, he caught three dark wisps popping out from thin air far ahead.
Setting up security measures, perimeters, and traps meant nothing to someone who's life was turned into a game. Like enemies in any game, the Grimm would spontaneously pop up from nowhere to challenge him. From darkness, three new Grimm he had recently gotten acquainted with stepped out.
At the head of the small pack of Grimm stood a bear sized Beaver covered in ruffled dark fur. It's face was masked with two bone platted buck teeth that pointed out like flat screwdriver heads, it's arms were small but clicked with sharp claws, and its flat paddle tail was hardened by thick bone plates and red markers. On each of its side stood large dog sized foxes. The foxes were dark hide with little platting on their bodies and tails as big as their bodies. What was truly unique about them were the odd Grimm mask that lazily hide one of their eyes while showing off their dark faces. The masks reminded Jaune of something he had seen in one of Blake's books from the east in Anima.
Since arriving in Camp Campbell and patrolling its rather vast forest, Jaune had found himself fighting new Grimm that were unique to the woodland area. They were unlike the common Beowolf or Ursai for sure.
Readying himself, Jaune found something new pop up in his HUD. A timer glared at him in bright green as the world temporarily froze still.
Defeat the Grimm before time runs out! Watch out! Any Grimm that survive the Time Attack will head straight for Camp! Clear within the Time Limit and complete challenges to earn rewards!
1. Clear withing 3 minutes!
2. Survive without taking a Hit!
3. Deal 3 Critical Hits!
Having already set up a set of Abilities and Skills after the first patrol to better suit his fights for speed, Jaune launched himself straight for the biggest Grimm in the bunch.
"ARC IMPACT!" Stopping in the middle of the surprised Grimm from the burst of speed, Jaune stabbed the tip of his sword straight into the ground to unleash a rippling shockwave of pure force to erupt around him. The Grimm were quick to lunge right at him the moment they took notice of him but found themselves being flung back by the explosive force released from the downward stab. The Kitsunes were sent colliding against the treeline around them, slumping over in a daze. Except for the Bjorr Siri that dug its feet against the shock wave. With an odd chatter of its teeth, it spun around to swing its flat tail at the blond knight like a tree trunk thick club.
Timing the heavy blunt swing just right, Jaune went into an unguarded stance with his sword drawn; Crocea Mors hefted over his shoulder and shield down, "Stalwart Blade!" Tanking the heavy hit that rattled his bones, Jaune grit his teeth before retaliating with a counter swing that slammed down across the beaver's chest. Half the damage he suffered was healed in the aftermath as the bear sized beaver stumbled back. Angered, it raised its bone platted tail high up and smacked it into the earth with a echoing boom that shook the forest ground.
The sound of snapping trees alerted Jaune to the immediate danger surrounding him. Whatever trees nearby that felt the quake the Bjorr Siris created would coming crashing down onto him. He could already make out several large shadows slipping over him and several leaves raining down. Seeing the Bjorr Siris safe from the falling lumber, Jaune moved quickly and threw his sword at the teeth chattering monster. Activating Warp Strike, his body warped out of the way from trees crashing down onto his previous spot with a boom of wood colliding against each other.
The Bjorr Siris snorted at the sight of the flying weathered blade. It smacked the deadly needle out of the air before it could stab through its dark hide.
Sword spinning up high in the air, Jaune's body warped a few feet away from the giant rodent. He went back to attacking the moment his hands found the grip of Crocea Mors. Ignis Mors was already deployed, its shield's point facing his knuckles as the sheath roared with ignited flames as he righted himself in the air.
"Point of Impact!" Riding on the jets of Ignis Mor's Ability, Jaune flew right back to the Bjorr Siris with an explosive drilling fist. The giant rodent Grimm wasn't fast enough to counter, suffering the detonating plume of flames attributed with the Ability drilled into its chest. Not stopping there, Jaune planted his feet onto the ground and lashed out with several slashes from Crocea Mor's blade and the edge of Ignis Mors in tandem as the Grimm staggered.
Jaune's attacks were stopped a moment later though by a lashing bushed tail smacking into his ribs from the right. skidding back, he glared at the Kitsune that struck him in his distraction. It growled, snapping its teeth at him before the odd Grimm mask hanging around its face moved on its own and masked its face. The eye holes grew a spectral yellow. Running straight at its prey, its body phased out of existence like a faded picture just as it reached Jaune.
He knew that tactic by now. The fox Grimm were Phasers, granted the ability to pass through solid objects once they donned their masks. They were trickster's through and through.
The Kitsune was clearly aiming for his back. Sword glowing a bright white, he swung Crocea Mors around in a wide flat arc just as the Kitsune cut off its ability and lunged with a set of tearing teeth. The swing batted it away to fall on its side with a whine.
"Burn, Grand Firebolt!" With a quick mental command to pocket his weapons, Jaune fired a stronger and larger version of Firebolt with the aid of a Fire Dust crystal. In a blink of an eye, the horse sized licking ball of flames crashed into the Kitsune as it got back on its four feet. It couldn't even cry in demise of the scathing flames reducing it to burning wisps.
With the loss of its brother, the second Kitsune snarled and ran straight ahead. Seeing this and wanting to finish it off quickly, Jaune brought out another Fire Dust to his hands.
"Burn, Grand Firebolt!"
Performing the powerful spell again, Jaune fired the giant ball straight at the fox themed Grimm. He tsked as the Kitsune flipped its mask on. The Grimm phased through the fire spell just before it could hit. With incredible speed the fox's ghostly body lunged at Jaune with a swing of its bushy tail. Quickly summoning Ignis Mors, Jaune deflected the spinning tail swing. Surprisingly for a bushy tail, it was pretty blunt. A small percentage of HP was depleted from the buffer damage.
The Kitsune was one unique Grimm. Clubbing tails, they could pass through solid objects, had very sharp claws that he had first hand found out could deal Curse, and they were fast. But compared to the many beasts and enemies he had fought, they were still nothing to worry about.
With its failed attack, the Kitsune began to dash around the knight while constantly phasing to confuse him. Jaune carefully watched the vanishing fox, waiting for the right time to hit it hard.
Coming to a stop, the Kitsune leaned down, growling with narrowed eyes before barking. Its body phased out as it ran, fading as it constantly flipped its mask on and off to confuse its prey like some blinking bullet. Jaune smirked at the tactic. It was smart too. But he had a counter for that. Raising Crocea Mors tip into the air, he waited for the Kitsune to lunge right at him before making his next move.
From the sky above, a single bolt of lightning shot down onto the old war born blade with a flash. Sword pulsing with lightning, Jaune slammed the blade point down into the ground just as the Kitsune's teeth fell onto his shoulder. A dome of sparking magic protected his body from harm, shocking the Grimm and leaving it Paralyzed. It was wide open for an attack.
Jaune decided to save up his MP this time. A flurry of stabs was all that was needed. While it had impressive abilities, it lacked a strong Defense. It was quickly reduced to dark vanishing wisps amid the rapid jabs of sharp steel.
All that was left was the big guy. Where the hell did something that big and buck toothed go in all the action? Hard to believe it may have had a talent in stealth.
As if to answer him, the earth trembled with enough force to nearly stumble Jaune back. Cursing himself for ignoring the stronger enemy, Jaune turned back to find the Bjorr Siris crouching low to the ground. He blinked dumbly, taking notice of an abnormal amount of slender and tall trees caging them in. Well, that was new. Did that mean that giant rat could summon trees too?
Clicking its teeth in a frenzy, the Bjorr Siris began to drum its tail against the ground with a rhythmic beat. The trees shuddered audibly. Slowly one by one, the towering lumber snapped and fell overhead of the blond knight. Jaune grimaced as he kept his eyes on the long shadows crossing the dirt, timing his dodging to the sight of a tree shadow growing larger than the rest. Each tree crashing onto the ground released a boom, clouding the area in a dirt could that grew bigger with each crash.
'Okay, I think I've taken long enough with this challenge.' Skipping to the far right, Jaune evaded another towering tree that would have squashed him like a pancake. Another shadow grew larger, swallowing his own in warning. He wouldn't be able dodge fast enough. Time to improvise.
In a single slash, the thick lumber ready to crush him into paste was cut in two by a whistling pale crescent blade of magic. The two chopped pieces fell past Jaune with quaking thuds. But while he was safe from one tree, he was still in danger of the several shadows looming to squash him like tomato paste. Improving with the window he was granted with the tree he had chopped, Jaune rode on the roar of Ignis Mor's Point of Impact to fly up high into the air. He narrowly escaped the last of the falling tree trunks as he found himself airborne above the treeline. He glared down at the chattering Grimm as he reversed the grip of Crocea Mors.
Morphing the long sword to a rose themed short blade, he lashed the rose thorn coiling along the blade to strike around the Grimm's neck. Like a lasso the vine tugged on the Grimm's neck. Giving it a tug he shot back at the Bjorr Siris like a bungee cord. He took it by surprise with a stab digging deep into its masked face. Bits of bone and blood exploded.
Flipping off the howling monster, Jaune landed back on the ground in a crouch as he prepared to finish off the Grimm. He eyed its HP, happy to see that the Bleed Status was already chipping a bit of its HP. He breathed deeply, muscles tightening before he exploded from the spot in a blur of speed.
The Bjorr Siris blinked in stupor as it slowly bleed. The blond knight was right in front of it only moments ago. And then he was gone. It's head swiveled to find its prey. Than it saw it.
A single flashing line crossed in front of it. As quick as it came, it disappeared. Just like the human. Than another flashing line popped up around its arm. And than another. And another.
A flurry of wild flashes painted over the Grimm's body, countless and sporadic. Each one was a like a harmless blade passing by with every millisecond until the Bjorr Siris grew deathly still.
In a fading blur, Jaune reappeared behind the large Grimm with his short blade dripping with red. With a spinning flourish of the short sword, he sheathed the rose themed weapon back into Ignis Mors.
It was taking all of his pride and self worth not to gush about how cool he might have looked at the moment.
The click of the steel signaled the end of the Bjorr Siris as the countless scarlet blades flashes scarred its body with in-numerous slices, gushing petal like spurts of blood. This attack was unlocked as he gained more experience with Teres Mors; an attack that unleashed a speed blistering raid of slashes that deal heavy damage onto enemies inflicted with a Status Ailment. And would even go as far as causing SVER Bleed onto in already Bleeding target, if they survived. The Abilities name-
"Myriad of Thorns!"
Time Attack, Complete!
1/3 Challenges Complete!
Time Attack Reward: 4,500L!
Challenge 1 Reward: Etherx3!
You're Level has Risen! A New Skill has been Unlocked! Aura Blade, Unlocked!
Aura Blade[Skill]: By Sacrificing 15% of the Player's Aura, they're able to increase the damage of sword attacks for 2 Minutes. Damage increases by Aura amount.
The victory ding signaled the end of the challenge, allowing Jaune to give out a sigh of relief. All the damage created by the fight miraculously repaired itself a moment later as he fixed Crocea Mor's back to Ignis.
These Time Attacks were a new trouble popped alongside his mission. And he had a feeling he would be dealing with them every time he would end with a Patrol Mission in the future. He had to give The Will credit, it knew how to make something as simple as patrolling a challenging feature. If he failed to complete the small fight on time, then the Grimm would cause panic in camp, attracting more of the monsters to attack. Not knowing that the first time he had been ambushed by one of the TA's(Time Attack's), he was forced to run as fast as he could to intercept the suddenly speedy Kitsune that had remained. At least if he did fail, he had a small window of time to chase the Grimm down and take it out before reaching the perimeter of the camp.
After his first failure, Jaune made sure to end the fights as quickly as possible with an Ability and Skill set based on Speed and Heavy damage. Since than, he had been getting better and better at dealing with the new Grimm with each challenge. He even gone up a Level! It was about time. Since he had reached the mid-twenties in his Level, it had been a grind to raise his level again. Even when he defeated two Bosses in a week, the Grimm Hyperion and Grimm Malice/Vanity, he hadn't gone up a level. It had risen after the first patrol, so that was good. But he had to grind for the past few days and take on every TA that popped up on his HUD once he completed his first patrol to get it raised again.
It was worth it though. Right now, he was LvL-29! Hopefully by the end of the mission, if he continued grinding with every patrol, he would be in the early thirties when he returned to Beacon. He would be at the same Level as the rest of the Huntsman and Huntresses that entered Beacon with qualification and years of training.
Finally, after so long, he really would be an actual Huntsman; In training. Jaune still had a long way to go after this.
'You need to get better. You need be stronger. Or you'll fall behind before the real show again. And we both know how that turned out last time.'
With firm determination, Jaune continued his patrol with his path set on the Time Attack Marker's pinned to his Map HUD. All while he replayed his conversation with a certain bagged headed Admin from day one of his patrol mission.
"SO! Let's get some small bits out of the way first, Jauney-boy!"
Happily raising his finger up to gain his attention, Husk began his explanation. As much as Jaune didn't want to deal with the Admin, he knew better to ignore him. At least he was better than The Will.
"As you might know by now, you just passed the First Act! In case you didn't know though, The Will has separated your little Game in sections. You passed the First Act, but two more await before you reach The End of this Volume, which I so lovingly love to call Beacon Days! Catchy, don't you think!" Husk winked.
Jaune was confused. Both at the information of Volumes, and how Husk was able to make his expressions with a drawn on smiley face. It must have been his godly powers at play.
"So, I'm only 1/3rd ways finished with this Volume? How many Volumes are there?" Jaune asked before a sudden thought hit him, "What about the other's? I know we all have different Reset Points that differ in years. Do we play different Volumes?"
Husk wagged his finger in negative, "Good question, Little Heart! See, the real Game doesn't begin until the first Volume, which is Beacon Days, begins. Funny thing is Volume 1 only begins when your little friend Ruby Rose steps foot onto the Event that leads to her acceptance into Beacon. In the time before that, the time the other Player's find themselves Resurrected, they play Prologue Volumes. Each Player that's Reset Point begins before the Main Story get rolling plays a specially made Volume that stretches until Volume 1 begins. It has it's benefits and drawbacks to it. For example, Roman is the earliest Player to be resurrected while you're the latest. Roman has the chance to develop his Abilities and Skills before everyone else, becoming stronger than the others by the time the Main Story begins, but he does hit a Level Cap to ensure he's not completely overpowered, not to mention Leveling up becomes more of a pain to achieve."
And how was that somehow fair or balanced? Judging by the pout on Husk's face, the godly administrator must have realized Jaune didn't see the fairness.
"How about I make it much more simpler for a boy who actually does play video games; think of it like some MMORPG upon first release. You play through the game, beat the main story quest, raise your level until you hit the level cap, and quest to get new rewards. But what happens when you're done with all the meat the game has to offer, and left with the bone? You're pretty much just entertaining yourself with small activities or fights until the game gets updated with new content. They're basically gnawing on bare bone out of boredom. That's what it's like for the rest, only their stuck in Prologues-kinda like DLC-that serve to set up the real story."
At that, Jaune realized he may have been better off as he was. He had an idea to what Husk was referring to. When he was younger he use to play a fun MMOARPG(Multiplayer Online Anima Role Playing Game) that him fighting demons and Grimm as a holy knight. He had been addicted to the game for months, holing himself up in his own room to spend morning to night on quests and joining in on raids for rare loot. It had been fun until he reached the Level Cap. Fighting enemies no longer gained him EXP, he had already gained some of the rarest weapons, items, and equipment the game had to offer, and he had already finished the first season's story. All he had left to do was complete the boring quests he had left behind and explore until the next update that would offer him more to do.
The wait had been boring. As a young teenager, Jaune had quickly abandoned the game to move onto the next exciting adventure to live out his dreams of being some hero. If he had to suffer the wait to do more fun and exciting missions in real life, than he would have died of boredom. He did not envy the other three Players in that regard.
Still, "And me?" Jaune had to ask dryly.
"Well, you're growth rate for one is much more higher than the rest. I mean, you're only a single level up away from reaching thirty in four months." Husk grinned, "Normal NPC's would never be able to do that, let alone the other Player's. You also don't have to wait so long for the fun to begin too. But the negatives would be of course you're low level and resources compared to the other Players. If they weren't so merciful they could kill you at any point once you've passed Initiation!" he said brightly.
'Merciful? Ren killed me the second he confirmed I was a Player.' Jaune thought in annoyance. He might have been a nice guy, but Jaune was actually still actually touchy about that. If they weren't friends, he wouldn't have been so forgiving. The less said about Adam and Roman the better.
"So, how many Volume's are there?"
Husk hummed in thought as he pinched his chin, "Hard to really confirm. See, The Game can be completed by completing a series of Special Events that force a Final Boss to pop up for The Finale. If you were to play The Game traditionally, I'd say there are about 12 Volumes."
Jaune sputtered, "T-Twelve?!"
"Yup! Traditionally speaking. But the other Players have of course steered the Main Events to their favor after playing for so long, and understanding what to do. If I remember right, Adam had once reached The Finale at Volume 8. Man, was that a war!" Husk chuckled fondly.
Seeing Jaune open his mouth again, Husk beat him to the punch with a playful tsk.
"Of course, I can't tell you about these Special Events to help you reach The Finale sooner. I will tell you that The Finale can not be reached during Volume 1, that would be no fun for us." Husk shrugged casually.
The news wasn't what Jaune wanted to hear. He cursed silently under his breath. He wanted nothing more than to reach The End of The Game as quickly as possible. It would be even better if he could reach the True End, but after learning of his mistakes in Act 1, he knew it would be impossible. He didn't have enough knowledge of the world or The Story spun by The Will to do such a thing. He still had hope, sure, but he had decided that he would do his best to complete his first playthrough first.
After facing all three Players, he realized how insulting it was to say he would reach the True End on is first run. No wonder Ren had been so hostile towards him in the beginning. And killed him. Three times; the bastard.
"I see that frown." Husk chided with a grin, "I know you by now, Heart! Fresh off your first few bosses, finally a real huntsman in training, and even got your buddy Ren to finally participate in The Game again. You've come a long way indeed." Husk praised with a nod.
Jaune actually smiled, feeling pride from the comment from one of the powerful beings that controlled the world around him. As of late, he been getting a lot of that. Finally some recognition that he could believe.
"But even you must realize that not everything is going to be easy. This was just the first Act. You made it through the beginner's round and with the scars to prove it." Husk jabbed his finger at the biggest scar that proved his point. Jaune's pride wilted at the filthy bandaged finger poking at his almost fatal head-shot. It was almost unnoticeable thanks to his blond bangs, but just standing close to him, you could catch eye of his first real battle.
"Act 2 will be more challenging compared to the last, as will every other Act. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up dying in the coming months."
"And there goes the last of the confidence you gave me." Jaune slumped.
"Aww, don't be like that. I'm just keeping you humble! You should thank me for being so kind."
Kind? That wasn't exactly a word he would associate with an Admin. They were the reason for the scars on his body, for the nightmares that would plague him every once in a while, the pain his friends and even family had suffered, and his own deaths. They truly were the bane of his existence. Though, when Jaune thought about it, Husk was different when compared to The Will. The Will was childish, manipulative, cruel, selfish, and spiteful. Behind that bright smile hid a monster.
Husk though was an oddity of the three. Jaune hadn't me the third of the Admin trio, Remnant, yet, but he had no doubt that they were just as a bad as the others if they enjoyed watching all the Players kill another. Husk acted the same, he enjoyed watching the conflict and drama with glee too. Only he was always there to help whenever he could, offering him new powers, restocking his potions, even giving up a hint or two when he was up against a challenge. The bag wearing merchant was just as much responsible for all the suffering plaguing Jaune, but he was also cheering and encouraging him on through it all.
When compared to the other Admins, Jaune felt that if he had to trust one, it would be Husk.
Getting back on topic, Husk went on to continue with his explanation.
"Now, when compared to Act 1, you will be seeing even more Missions/Quests pop up since you're a full fledged Huntsman in Training. These will range between simple tasks with friends, people of the town of Vale, and the villagers of towns you'll be protecting in the future. You know, your typical RPG missions you'd find in your games that are a dime a dozen. And once you've survived Act 2, the world will open up a bit more for ya, giving you more freedom. Which also means the enemies you'll be facing will be stronger than before and continue to grow in scale the further you go!"
"Tell me something I don't know."
All Jaune was hearing were the basics concerning a game, things he already knew as an avid gamer. Or at least once since he didn't have as much time to play video games since he entered Beacon. And died. And became an actual Gamer. Life was weird like that. Hearing all this information wasn't exactly important to him either way. He was sure he would learn all this as he continued playing. Made him wonder why Husk would bother to talk to him about all this in the first place.
Husk seemed to read Jaune's mind, noticing the growing irritation on the boy's face.
"I guess you pretty much know your stuff by now. All that I explain can be discovered as you play along. In actuality, that wasn't what I came to discuss." Husk said sternly, "I'm guessing by now, you've come across a certain 'bug' in the game?"
"You know? A certain cloaked stranger busting into the middle of one of your fights alongside The Will? Boss fight with giant of fire ring any bells?"
Jaune was confused until he thought back to his fight in Helios's Core. He snapped his finger with a scowl. He did remember the world inside the rocker's heart freezing and an odd enemy jumping in with a sword aimed for a killing blow.
'SAY GOODBYE, YOU FAKE!'
"You mean that weirdo that was ready to kill me?" Jaune asked.
Husk nodded, not at all amused as Jaune would have expected.
"That's the bugger. It's the same one I thought I got rid of when you made your first Dive. Let's just say that we now have a Bug in the system that wants nothing more than to hunt you down and kill you. All so it can take your place as a Player."
"Take my place as Player?" Jaune didn't like the sound of that. As much as he didn't want the Title, he couldn't just give it up now. Not after all that's he's gone through. He was in this to win it. "I didn't even know we could lose our positions as Players to others? Wait, this 'enemy' knows about the The Game!?"
"Blame The Will." Husk answered simply as if that was the only answer, "The ball of flames thought it would be amusing, add more of a kick to the current Game. Trust me, Remnant and I aren't happy about it either. But The Will has more authority over how things work than we do, even combined. After all, it's the one who controls the remaining Spark of Oum, seeing as it is the damn spark." he said completely frustrated.
"And you came to warn me of the Bug?" Now that didn't make any sense at all. Husk was an Administrator, one of the three gods who got a kick out of seeing the Players suffer against the odds and come through. Wouldn't it have been better to keep him out of the loop and see how he fared?
"Like I said, Remnant and I aren't happy about allowing a Bug of all things to enter The Game. It ain't exactly an official Player, but it damn well does have the capabilities of one. Plus, I actually like ya, kiddo! It's been some time since I picked out a favorite. Which isn't easy when the only other Players are a lazy ninja who rather play a Side Character, a self-centered greedy thief, and a righteous swordsman hellbent on genocide. Pretty slim pickings there."
Jaune nodded with a grimace. Guess he was the most favorable out of the four. Ren may have gotten better and strove to do more, but he was still lazy and uncaring.
"Just watch your back, Jaune. This bug will stop at nothing to take your place. Now that it's out into the world, it will hunt you down relentlessly. If you lose to it even once, it's all over for you. Not even your Soul will be safe from it's hands."
With his ominous words, Husk's body began to disperse into flames. Leaving Jaune with one more question to ask.
"Why? Why is the bug so hellbent on me?" Jaune asked in frustration. He already had more than enough on his plate! Why was he the one who had to deal with a murderous bug? Why did everything always come back to him?
Husk chuckled darkly, only putting Jaune further on edge.
"The Bug simply wants what it lost is all. You ain't exactly innocent yourself. You need to get better. You need be stronger. Or you'll fall behind before the real show again. And we both know how that turned out last time."
With the parting warning, Jaune was left alone again in the world of solace. Left to his own thoughts and the journey ahead. Jaune couldn't help but grumble as he scratched the back of his head tiredly.
"Nothings ever easy for me, is it?"
Reaching the came grounds after his last Time Attack, Jaune stretched his back a he thought back to the Merchant God's warnings.
'Basically it all comes down to, Get Good?' This really was a video game if that was his advice.
Grumbling to himself, Jaune headed for the staff cabin to relax for a bit. It wouldn't be long until he had to take over Weiss's spot as co-counselor. Lavender already went out on her patrol earlier, so all that was left was Weiss's shift before they could all remain in camp to watch over the kids. A few more activities later, and they would be given a break from their work to do whatever they pleased. Normally those on patrol rarely found themselves with free time since they were constantly on the look out for danger, but thanks to Lavender's semblance, they could have some time to themselves.
Lavender's Semblance was an odd one. Soul Dye, she called it. The ability born from her soul allowed her to grant something akin to a conscious to the objects she created from Hard Light Dust crossed with various Elemental Dust. The Hard Light Dust would work similar to Velvet's weapon to give shape to whatever Lavender desired with her skills as an artist, allowing her to create even Grimm like projections that followed her orders. Having a creative mind had certainly helped to make such a simple super power a real deadly skill. Jaune himself had been at the mercy of her explosive Ursa. He knew for a fact that they were effective. With such a power, it was no wonder Weiss and her got along. Both came from rich and famous families, went against the wishes of their fathers, relied heavily on Dust in their combat, and had complex semblances. You couldn't exactly call giving Dust projections souls simple.
Using her semblance, Lavender would create Dust drones to roam around the perimeter they had set up around camp. If they exploded, she would know as their consciousnesses were connected to her own. She had once said that the lose of her creations was akin to a warm buzz in the back of her head. It would serve as an alarm that a Grimm was straying far too close to camp. And with just a single order, they would jump into action, no matter what they were doing, and deal with any Grimm that came by.
Of course using her Soul Dye ability could be draining when kept running. The longest Lavender could hold up to five of her more simple drones was an hour. And that was without any complex commands added on. After that, they would stop patrolling. Huntsman they may be-in training-but they were still human. They couldn't patrol the entire day. Around 8 o'clock they would sleep for about four hours in their lodgings before one of them would take the first night patrol. They would rotate every two hours until six in the morning came, rest for another two hours, and continue their duties.
Jaune yawned again, something he found himself doing a lot since the first day their patrol schedule had been implemented. Having to wake up for patrol in at midnight was doing a number on him. As the gentleman his mother had raised him to be, Jaune had elected that he would be the first one on night patrol duty. It allowed the girls to have a good six hours of sleep that he was sure they were thankful for. It was only fair seeing as Weiss and Lavender were the ones to spend so much time creating the patrol schedule. And doing so did result in a thankful kiss on the cheek from the purple haired artist that strayed dangerously close to his lips.
And a fireball courtesy of a ticked off Weiss.
'Call me crazy, but I think Weiss might have been jealous.' Jaune couldn't help but think to himself. With his mind growing with his Intelligence, he was now able to begin connecting the dots in front of him. Such knowledge would be a god send to a dense boy like himself. But no amount of increased insight or intellect would stop him from scoffing at the very thought, 'Nah, I'm must be overthinking it. No way the girl I've been pinning after for so long is just now starting to have feelings for me when I'm finally starting to move on.'
It would be criminally ironic!
Knowing that the kids were still doing their usual activities, Jaune headed straight for the counselors cabins. Not to put away his gear but to relax a moment. He also needed to go over his current Abilities and Skills. All the Time Attacks he had been encountering had him messing around with his powers to form blitz tactics. His current set of Abilities and Skills revolved around resolving his fights as quickly as possible, focused on Speed and high Attack. After the last Time Attack, he had a new set in mind that he wanted to set up for his next patrol at night.
Night patrols were the more difficult challenge. The night was when the more deadly Grimm stalked out to play.
Pushing open the door, Jaune was more than ready and deserving of sitting back on the lumpy couch with a cold grape soda in hand. But what greeted him made him scowl in annoyance.
Max, the bane of every adults life, the hellspawn of Camp Campbell, could be seen rummaging through one of the drawers in the cabin. The ten year old's back was facing him as he dove into a the drawer full of clothes. In his right hand, Jaune could see some odd jar of white powder. All of the blond knight's instincts yelled at him to stop the snickering troublemaker from doing whatever he was doing.
With a tired sigh dragging out of his lips, Jaune spoke.
"Max, what do you think you're doing?"
Max's back grew stiff. Slowly, the dark tanned camper turned his head around to find the stern blue eyes of the blond huntsman in training standing at the cabin's entrance. Max's normally sharp green eyes flitted to the jar of powder in hand, caught in the act red handed. He grinned in vain.
"Oh! This isn't Space Kids cabin! Silly me. Well, since I've accidentally stumbled into the counselor's cabin, I should be on my merry little way! Sorry again for intruding, Counselor!"
Just as Max reached the doorway, he was stopped by Jaune's strong hand on his shoulder. Innocently, he looked back to the unamused knight who held a pensive stare.
"And what is that jar you're hiding in your jacket's pocket?"
"It's itching powder, isn't it?"
"Shit." Max knew when he was caught. With a grunt, he handed the jar of top quality itching powder Neil had made into Jaune's beckoning hands. "Should have known better that I couldn't pull one over the oh so dashing huntsman! What? You sniffed it out with that bloodhound nose of yours?" Max said sarcastically with a roll of his eyes.
"As a guy who's very familiar with the pranks of guys like you, I can see past the bullshit."
"Makes sense. I always pegged you as a dork. What else would you call a guy who breaks off into a fucking camp song with that loser, David?"
Jaune's jaw clenched as he looked down the frequent troublemaker of the nice little camp. Max was the poster child of a troubled kid. Disrespectful, rude, self-centered, scheming, foul mouthed, and real ass all around. It still stumped Jaune that such a young child could be so down right pessimistic. The cynical camper always found something wrong with whatever they were doing, mocking other peoples ideas of fun, and picked on the counselors of all people with devious pranks that would make Cardin in his heyday stop to take notes. It was like it was Max's life goal to ruin the experience of camp for everyone.
Out of the three of the team sent to aid the counselors, Jaune considered himself the most adept at handling children. After all, he had seven other sisters with about half of them being younger than himself. Back home, he would also hang around with the younger kids, playing with them while also watching out for them. He may not have been the oldest of his siblings, but he was still considered the oldest son and brother of the Arc family to all the people of his home. So, he knew how to deal with kids when they misbehaved or acted out for attention.
All that experience meant nothing when faced with the terror that was Max. The first day Jaune had met the dark puff haired boy, he didn't find any problems with him. Despite Gwen's warnings concerning Max, the kid didn't cause any troubles at all. If anything he was oddly silent. Almost like he was shell shocked. In Jaune's eyes, Max was just a quiet kid who might have a bit of a wild streak from what he heard from Gwen. David had nothing bad to say about the kid either. Max could be a bit to handle, but he has a good heart! That was what David had happily proclaimed to the three co-counselors in the cabin.
Second day at camp rolled in. Max could only stay silent for so long before he showed his true colors. From camp fires gone wrong, food fights that had come close to RWBY vs. JNPR level chaotic, vandalism of camp property, pranks on other campers, disobeying whatever he was told, and insulting everyone in sight; he was proving to be storm of trouble that enjoyed ruining whatever was in his sights. Jaune wasn't sure how Max did it, but on the second day, the kid had already stolen several Schnee branded Dust from their cabin to improvise his own fireworks show.
A fireworks show. With Dust. Without Aura, the kid had found a way to set them all off as if the crystals had been charged with aura. Jaune had a sinking feeling that Max had most likely dragged Neil to help along with that. It was lucky stroke that the camp hadn't burned down. A few Water Dust spells later and the smoking camp was brought back to proper order.
It was the first time the three co-counselor's had dealt with Max alongside Gwen and David. Reprimanding Max hadn't done a thing but cause the kid to roll his eyes. Even when they took away his deserts for the new two weeks, he didn't seem effected. All he had done was complain about the shitty excuse for treats they called desert. Growing fed up, Gwen had sent Max back to his cabin with a tired sigh. Jaune, Weiss, and Lavender both watched the cynical boy swear dismissively at the five of them. All while catching the look in his young eyes.
A dark, fed up, uncaring glint in those green eyes that worried Jaune. The look of someone who had given up on the world; on hoping for anything better to ever find him. Such an expression should have never crossed a child as young as Max.
Jaune scratched the back of his head, at loss of what he could do. Having the body of a Gamer didn't seem like it would be of much help when faced with such a troubled child. Sighing, he knelt down to Max's level to try and talk to the cynic.
"Max, why can't you just behave and have fun? This is camp! The whole point is for you to enjoy the outdoors, make new friends, learn some new tricks, and make memories. It's what you signed up for, isn't it?" Jaune asked softly.
The reaction Jaune had been hoping for was completely the opposite. Max's eyes narrowed, growing dark as he sneered at the huntsman's words.
"Maybe for the others, but not me. Why would I want to be sent away into the middle of buttfuck nowhere, surrounded by dirt and trees at the drooling maws of Grimm? In case you fucking forgot, we're caged in by the Grimm. All it takes is one slip up from a couple of teenagers going off to screw another in the bathroom and we'll have those monsters slaughtering us all."
Jaune frowned in displeasure at the Max's words. The kid didn't have a lot of faith in Huntsman at all.
"I promise, nothing bad is going to happen to any of you. We're here to protect you guys! So, just relax and enjoy the fun with everyone else. It wouldn't kill you to be a little positive."
"Positive? About what? Being abandoned in this stupid ass low funded camp with two incompetent counselors, an owner who wouldn't give a shit if anyone of his campers was mauled by a Beowolf, with a bunch of fucked up sheep who don't know any better about the monsters hungrily waiting for them to step out into the forest, alongside three green horned teenagers who like to play hero and are most likely fucking another's brains out in their cabin. There's not a single god damn thing to be positive about that!"
Rudely bumping into Jaune's shoulder's as he left the counselors cabin, he muttered one last scathing remark to the stunned blond.
"Get real already. If you're really a Huntsman, than stop acting as if the world isn't fucked up. Maybe than you won't die like a dumb ass with the rest of your friends."
A sad scowl came onto Jaune's face. Moving back on his feet, his eyes lingered at Max's slumped form going back to his cabin. A flicker came over the knight's eyes, an Ability he had picked up after fighting his best friend to reach the maturity of his Status as a Player.
Max hadn't unlocked his aura just like the other kids. But in full view of Jaune's eyes, he could make out the violent, malicious, thrashing aura of darkness pouring out of Max's little soul.
A beacon of negativity. It was no wonder the camp was seeing a growing rise in Grimm.
Only Jaune could see the negativity in Max's soul. It was in thanks to his powers as The Heart. No one but him would know that the reason the Grimm were sniffing out the camp was in due to Max's own negativity being so strong that it was baiting the creatures of darkness. Normally, a person's negativity did draw the Grimm. But in such numbers by a single person? A child no less? It showed just how powerful and dense the beacon was. And it hadn't even grown to full maturity.
Feeling even more exhausted, Jaune shut the door behind him. The jar of itching powder vanished into his Inventory, safe from releasing its purpose onto others. Sensing his intent, the counselors cabin was replaced by The Game's room of solace for Players. It wasn't long until Jaune met's Husk's eyes as he walked up to the merchant. A teasing grin was drawn onto the god's paper face.
"So? What do ya need from your favorite merchant?"
Thoughts about the Grimm baiting boy would have to be put on hold. Jaune had some preparations for his next venture out into the forest to think of. If he was to keep his word, he needed to be stronger. Relaxing wasn't an option.
"Any new Abilities and Skills up for sale?"
"You call that holding her close to her breast with tender love and care!? I've seen a monkey hold shit with more care than you!? Now, hold her close like you love her more than life itself, or so help me Christ, I will find some other dull faced blond to replace you!"
After prepping himself for the next patrol in the night, Jaune had returned to watch over the camper's alongside Lavender. Weiss had shortly gone off to circle the perimeter. And as part of their duties as co-counselors, the two huntsman in training had joined in the activities. What better way to watch out for the kids than joining them? And it was fun.
"You call that puckering up!? It looks like you're about to kiss your wrinkly, cat urine odored grandmother! And you call yourself a professional!"
"WHEN THE HELL DID I EVER SAY THAT!? BESIDES, SHE THIRTEEN! ISN'T THIS A CRIME!?"
"I ain't complaining."
At the moment, Jaune and Lavender were acting out their roles for a play written by one of the campers, Preston. The boy was drama personified. He absolutely took his role as play writer seriously as if he was one. Everything had to have a hook, something to earn a gasp from the audience, and hold meaning or something. Jaune wasn't sure he could ever understand what Preston talked about, just nodded along and agreed to play a role the kid had written for him for his newest play. Oh, how the blond knight regretted it.
Jaune's face was red with embarrassment as he held the poorly acting swooning girl, Erid, carefully in his arms. Both of them were dressed in poorly made costumes created out of random materials. The play they were acting out was called Romeo and Juliet-3, The Reckoning. Part 2.
Again, Jaune knew little about plays or how they were written. He didn't even know what made up a well written play. He was no critic. But even he knew that this right here was crap. How he wished he had the heart to say it to the hopeful and young play writer/actor.
"Can we take a break? We've been at this for nearly an hour!" Jaune groaned as he felt his arms turn to jelly as he continued to hold Erid at arms length as her head touched the ground.
Preston shot up out of his director's chair with a growl, slamming his screenplay down onto the ground as he pointed his finger at the blond knight, "Break?! BREAK?! We have only until tonight to unveil my latest master piece, and you want to take a break?! Don't you dare play the union card right now! We need to be ready to wow our audience, I want to see tears and have flowers rain down with the thunderous roar of applauding claps! And I don't believe that you love the beautiful and edgy Juliette! I want this to be real, damn it!"
"And I keep telling you; I can't kiss a minor! It's against the law!"
"You are above the law! That's the whole point of this scene! You literally scream 'Fuck the police' after tasting her tonsils in victory!"
"The scene doesn't even make sense! Why is there even a werewolf involved in the next scene!? And where in Romeo and Juliette do they have a talking tree narrating the entire story!" Jaune shouted in frustration as he pointed out the crappy tree in the middle of the set. A familiar dark skinned huntress smiled at him, waving her tree's branch at him.
"I'm just happy to be included. Either this or being the rock. And no one wants to be the rock."
Space Kid groaned sadly as he sat to the side of the stage in his paper mache rock costume. Here he thought he had the best part.
"At least I get one song to myself." Better than nothing.
Preston groaned, dragging his hand down his face. Actors, always the drama queens.
"I suppose we can take a short break. I have recently thought of a new scene to add to the opening act. I am going to need explosives though along with plenty of colorful paint. I'll have to speak to Max for resources again." Preston muttered to himself before turning away from the crappy set in the middle of the field. He waved his hand at Jaune with one last word before going about editing the script. Again. "In the meantime, I want you to practice a sea savy accent, Jaune! And see if you can find an eyepatch! We need you to be the best pirate you can be if you're going to be after that booty!"
"Booty?" Jaune whispered in horror before staring down at a winking Erid.
"Ho, ho, ho!"
"That's Santa Clause." Jaune breathed tiredly before abruptly dropping the girl. He was too tired for this shit. The skater punk girl snickered before flipping back her hair and running off with a wave good bye to her counselor. He smiled at her, leaning back against the scenery as he rolled his shoulders wearily.
"I didn't think acting would be this tiring."
"They do say that acting is one of the most stressful jobs out there." Lavender commented as she shrugged off the leaves and paper wood of her costume. She stretched her arms above her head, accenting her chest in a way Jaune couldn't help but notice.
"Well, I thought it was entertaining. If not a bit. . .strange."
Ripping his eyes off the alluring sight of his upperclassman performing some flattering stretches to her body, Jaune turned his eyes to the lone audience member sitting in the seats set for tonight's play. He found a man wearing a black silk button up shirt, white collar with a red cross pin, and slacks with dress shoes; the clothing reminded Jaune of a priest's casual wear with the exception of white armored pauldrons, vambraces, and sabatons. The man had light blue hair that reminded him of the clear blue sea that was neatly combed with a single stray bang falling between his brow, much to the man's frustration, and rectangular glasses. A red shawl with white lined designs rested over his shoulders.
Jaune scratched his cheek, not sure how to respond to the man's remark, "Really, Father Julian? I mean the whole story falls apart during the first act. The alien princess taking over Juliette's dead body is kinda a bit much. And let's not get started on Romeo actually being some messiah with a split personality of a some purple dinosaur who entertains kids before becoming a werewolf." he said lamely.
He was beginning to suspect Preston was on drugs. The play writer had to be to have thought up such insane and nonsensical ideas.
Father Julian's smile was weak as he nodded. He moved his hand to fix his glasses, showing off the cuffs of his long sleeve shirt. Several different colored Dust crystals were embedded on the bulky steel red steel cuffs. Justin also wore white gauntlets made out of durable yet flexible steel with odd see through circuit like lines running around the fingers.
"I think it's rather creative. You must admit one must have a rather imaginative mind to construct such. . .wild scenarios. Artists are on a whole other level to others and their minds can only be understood by other like minded individuals. And though the material is rather unorthodox, it is neatly written."
"Neatly written? May I remind you that that the two warring families face off in a rap battle while dissing the other's mothers on the second act?"
"I meant the script's format was neatly written. The story itself has no comment from a holy man such as myself." Julian commented weakly.
The light blue haired man seated before the stage was named Julian Czar, a man of the church. With the alarming rise of Grimm activity around the sleepy country side town, a representative of the church had decided to lend their own hand in quelling the negativity. Though those of the church resented acts of violence towards others, it was a whole other matter when Grimm were involved. To the religious groups of Remnant, many saw the creatures of darkness as demons who opposed God. Naturally, they had taken arms to fight back against the monsters.
Of what church the holy man came from, Jaune wasn't sure. Religion wasn't something commonly practiced in a world like Remnant. Even Jaune himself only believed in god, but nothing more such as the teachings of a sacred book. Julian might have mentioned of what church he came from, but it hadn't been important enough for him to remember.
From what Julian had explained to them as he had arrived at their camp yesterday, his church specifically created in mind a division that dealt in combating Grimm while continuing to uphold god's holy words in their travels. He was no Huntsman, but his skill in Grimm extermination were rather close to one.
His presence here in Camb Cambell was originally to protect it in extension to his goal of doing the same with the nearby town while spreading his gospel. How one lone man was meant to act as a protector against hordes of creatures of Grimm, Jaune had no idea. But once Julian had discovered that the camp was already under protection of Huntsman in Training, he had decided to step away and let Jaune and the others continue their work. That didn't mean he wouldn't occasionally stop by to see how things were doing along with a word of advice to the young Huntsman.
Along with words of advice, Julian also relied back any signs of Grimm creeping close by. Not to mention any suspicious activity he would notice in town.
Jaune's life was a game. Which meant this simple camp patrol would be anything but simple.
Jumping down from the hastily made stage of dry wood, Jaune walked over to the blue haired priest with a furrowed brow.
"Did you see anything strange again?"
Julian didn't appear pleased, going through his pocket to produce an odd trinket to Jaune. It was a small dart like needle with an injecting vial with small traces of a dark, ink green liquid. A quick inspection with his ability as a Gamer revealed the foreign object's summary.
An odd dart containing an unknown substance. Trace amounts of the liquid contain an odd scent that lulls the mind. Designed to pierce through human flesh.'
"I found it with the help of the local authorities in town after another person was found to be unresponsive in his sleep. The victim wasn't wounded other than a small puncture from the needle, but he remains asleep with no signs of waking up. At the moment, the man is being monitored in a hospital out of town to study his condition among others like himself." Julian explained sullenly.
Jaune continued to stare at the needle, inwardly frowning at what it meant.
Again, this mission was suppose to be a simple patrol for a couple of students of Beacon Academy. Nothing more, nothing less. But Jaune's life was designed to create Events for his apparent benefit so that he could continue to grow in strength and experience. So, the patrol mission was bound to devolve into something more hazardous in time. He didn't need to be reminded, especially with how a simple mission to return some money to some punk girl had turned out.
Julian wasn't simply visiting the camp to help them with dealing with the rise in Grimm, but to warn them of the sudden attacks around the towns. Apparently some unknown cult like group had begun to assault the towns people with some kind of newly created drug that would trap them in a deep sleep. No attempt to wake those inflicted with the deep sleep would bring them out of their comas, leaving them to rely on life support machines to keep them remaining in the world of the living.
So far, there had been three victims left by the unknown party who's eyes were now set on the town close by to Camp Cambell. Which meant the kids would also be in danger of their attacks.
Grimm and Cultists. Wasn't that a winning combination that spelled fun?
"Any idea why they're doing this?" Jaune couldn't but ask, knowing that somehow, someway, he would be involved in this 'convenient' event.
Pocketing the dart, Julian's face grew crossed, unhappy with what he was going to say.
"I've heard some word from others in the town's I've already stopped by. It's a group of individuals who've gathered together in their attempt to save the world of the nightmare of Grimm. Apparently the cult believes that one can only remain safe in the reaches of their dreams, their emotions safe from luring the Grimm, and wish to save all of humanity by lulling them in a never ending state of dreams. The dart is their latest attempt to achieve their goal."
"It's a drug." Jaune could tell that much from the dart and the dangerous smelling substance it had contained. Just one whiff of what little was left made him yawn for a good ten minutes.
"Correct. I believe several researcher's have already begun to attempt to create a vaccine to rose those afflicted by the endless sleep, but are in need of a more larger sample of the drug. Luckily, the cult isn't large enough to be of any danger to others and only a few dozen have been afflicted. None of the victims have died either, so that's a blessing. Still, I've decided to help the authorities in searching for those cultists."
"Aren't you a priest? Do priests even help police with tracking down criminals? Isn't that against your religion or something?"
Jaune didn't know too much about religion. His family believed the general idea of god, that was for sure. But they weren't overly religious. In fact, no one was. The Creatures of Grimm kinda made people doubtful of the idea of god. One couldn't find too many churches in the major cities, let alone one in the towns and villages outside the kingdoms. But he did know that priests were holy men who preached about god and how to be a better human being.
Julian chuckled in good humor, seeming to see what Jaune alluded to. Resting his right hand over his heart, the dark blue haired priest shut his eyes with a look of serenity on his face.
"Normally? No, priests don't associate themselves with the law so closely during an ongoing crime. But I know that god would be greatly displeased if I were to turn a blind eye to what those lost souls were doing to his people. After all, salvation can not be found in sleep."
Opening his eyes, Julian gave Jaune a sincere look of gratitude while passing a friendly glance back Lavender who had been sitting on the edge of the stage, listening intently to the latest piece of information the holy man brought them.
"I'm just relieved to know that you kids are protecting these young lambs in my stead. Now, I can fully focus on helping others with a lighter conscious. I just ask that you all be careful in the meantime. As a man of god, I wish for your safety and salvation." he said sincerely.
"We thank you as well, Julian. It's good to know that the town's people are in safe hands with you around." Lavender complimented.
"Of course. I am after all here to offer salvation. And I intend to do just that." Julian smiled brightly.
Seeing as he had done what he come to do, Julian decided it was time to leave and return to his duties. Before he left though, a thoughtful expression came to his face, seeming to mull something over before speaking.
"That reminds me; Jaune? How goes your dealing with young Max?" Julian asked with concern, his eyes speaking of worry for the troubled youth he had met in his visits, "Does he continue to act out and cause trouble for the rest of you?"
Jaune grimaced at the mention of a certain prankster who openly stated to despise camp.
"It's. . .rough. No matter how I speak to him, he doesn't listen. It's almost as if all he knows is cynicism. A kid like him shouldn't be full of so much. . .negativity."
Lavender added in to Jaune, her face speaking of struggle to deal with one child.
"All the other children are so sweet in their own ways. While they may also show signs of not liking the camp, they've found outlets to express themselves and find happiness. Even Max's two little friends are happy. But that boy, Max, hasn't shown any positive emotion since we've arrived. He seems to only find enjoyment in making others suffer in some way. It makes me wonder how David and Gwen have been able to handle him this far."
"Yes, it sounds as if that boy is special. For a child of all people to have such strong dark feelings gushing out of him like an aura. Very troubling indeed."
Fixing his glasses with a lift of his finger, Julian assured the two troubled Huntsman in training with a kind smile.
"Do not worry, he is just a child learning to cope with the world. A child who is very aware of the state of the world. I promise, when I've dealt with the matters of the troublesome cult, I will offer my own help. After all, I am here to provide salvation to all as a man of god. I'm sure I can help enlighten the boy. Hopefully." he said with a nervous chuckle.
Bidding farewell to them, Jaune and Lavender watched the kind and caring dark blue haired priest return to town. That left the two ponder what to do as they were left alone with the thoughts of one troubled child.
The purpose of this mission was to patrol and protect the camp from Grimm. They had no reason to really interact with the kids at all, let alone help the counselors with their problems. They were there to deal with the Grimm, that's it. Yet they found themselves entangled with the young children who were trying to enjoy a camp that was surrounded by Grimm. They found themselves caring about them and wished to help them not as Huntsman, but as guardians/friends.
Like David and Gwen, though the later wouldn't admit honestly, they had begun to care about them and wished for them to enjoy their time here.
That went for Max as well. Though, the boy had another reason to be wary of.
"He's the source of all the attacks."
Jaune grit his teeth, not turning back to meet Lavender's eyes as the older girl sighed. She was right. But he had hoped no one else would have noticed.
"I'm not that profound in reading others, but even I can see just how much that kid despises this place. The amount of negative emotions he harbors is more than alarming; it's dangerous. He's like an active beacon for the Grimm, luring them in like flailing bait. The only time he doesn't give off an aura of darkness is when he's asleep." Lavender said with a bitter smile, "I don't think I've ever met someone so young who could harbor so much resentment for the world. He makes veteran Huntsman seem innocent."
How that boy hadn't Fallen was an honest to god miracle to them.
"What do we do?"
Lavender hummed in thought. She herself wasn't sure of what do either. Their main mission was to patrol the camp ground, not act as counselors. That was a job for David and Gwen. But it was clear to her now that Max was in some way related to the mission. After all, that boy was the reason they had to patrol the area for the Grimm he was drawing in.
"For now, we continue with keeping the campers safe. Focus on that. As for Max," Lavender shrugged, knowing that she couldn't up with a simple solution to what was most likely a complicated problem, "Well, we can only hope to reign in the boy's antics and try to make him enjoy his stay here. As David said, he simply needs to have fun to break out of his foul mood."
What was the cure to negativity? Professor Port had said to them in class before; Enjoy your days, have fun. There was no such thing as a drug, or technique, that would ever do anything more effective than striving for a happy time.
Yet it was easier said than done in this case.
"Think tonight's play will help to put a smile on his face?" Jaune asked weakly.
Lavender tapped her lips with a thoughtful expression, "That train wreck? In an odd way, maybe? The fact that we have to act out this cringe fist, and knowing that we put up with this, might just bring some joy to him. Kinda peg the kid as a sadist."
"You really shouldn't be saying that about a kid."
Lavender giggled as she jumped off the edge of the stage to make her way next to the blond knight. Someone needed to learn to take a joke.
"We can worry about things like that later! Right now, how 'bout we grab some lunch? All this drama on stage, and on work, is making my stomach rumble!" she grinned as she took Jaune's arm and lead them away from the stage.
"Really? Enough to stomach the cafeteria mush they're serving from that weird old man with the hooked hand?"
"Pfft! No! You're cooking. It's part of the reason why you're so useful for this mission."
Jaune was a full fledged Huntsman in Training now! He wasn't some high class girl's personal cook!
As expected, Preston's personal take on the saga of Juliet and Romeo went as well as it were written by a monkey hoped up on psychedelic drugs. There had been no roses thrown to the hard working actors who had to act out the strange, confusing, brain numbing material; burnt popcorn and flat soda had showered them all for their hard work. Jaune could still feel some kernels rolling around in places that really shouldn't have butter.
Preston hadn't been sadden even the slightest by the boos. Typical of a writer with such pride, he had blamed the audience for not understanding his vision. He threw back the popcorn back at his idiot of an audience with shouts of his own, calling them uncultured TV binging swine. Naturally, it had devolved into a theater food fight that for reasons Jaune couldn't really prove, was most likely Max's fault.
With night now stretching over the sky of the small poorly funded camp, Jaune walked back to his shared cabin with a worn out sigh as he cleaned off the sticky treats from his hair with a cloth. He was starting to debate whether watching over kids was harder than dealing with the Grimm. Both could be complete monsters that sought only destruction.
An odd sound was suddenly picked up to Jaune's ears as he frowned in suspicion. Something clanked. His head swiveled, searching for the cause of the noise. His hand slowly inched to the grip of Crocea Mors, more than ready to free it from its home in Ignis Mors.
Grimm weren't the only thing they were on the watch for anymore. An unknown element was now introduced to the story. A band of cultists that believed that humanity was better off protected within their own dreams.
Again, Jaune picked up on the sound that was now close by. Right behind!
Cold steel began to screech as Jaune spun around, an Ability already on his lips.
A girlish scream was what greeted him.
Crocea Mors paused, returning to Jaune's Inventory a moment later as he noticed the stealthy stranger behind his back, was none other than the eccentric, go lucky, counselor; David. The lanky brunette man with a tuff of hair that reminded him of a leaf, was shaking in his boots from behind the large tower of boxes he was carrying in both arms.
Recognizing the voice, David peeked over the corner of the tower of boxes to notice Jaune. He smiled in relief, happy that it hadn't been anything like a Grimm he was about to walk into.
"Oh, hey there, Jaune! Fancy meeting you out here! I would have thought that you had retired to your cabin for the night with your team by now."
Lavender and Weiss were already done for the night. After the train wreck that was Preston's play, they needed their rest. Unlike him, they weren't accustomed to such chaos born of children.
"The others have, but it's my turn to patrol the area tonight. If anything, I was just going to stop by the cabin to make sure the girls were good and make sure that Lavender was good to take her shift once I was done." Jaune explained before moving to take a few of the boxes off of David's arms.
David appreciated the gesture, allowing Jaune three boxes, making it possible for him to once again see where he was going as they continued on their way.
"Thank you for the help, but shouldn't you be focusing on patrolling the area? I can handle all this just fine, you know?"
Jaune shook his head with a small smile.
In the time that he had been stationed in this odd little camp meant to simulate summer vacation, Jaune had gotten to know the kind hearted man known as David. An outdoors man who loved nature and camping in general who strove to share that joy he himself felt to others. Always smiling with a spring in his step, it seemed nothing could bring him down; not even the unenthusiastic young campers who didn't appreciate everything he did.
He was pure. Something that Jaune had found odd coming from an adult. Compared to the many adults Jaune had met, David was one of the few who didn't seem to have a shred of negativity in his soul. Something Jaune couldn't completely wrap his head around after seeing all the things he had to go through. Max alone would cause any bright eyed adult with any eye for caring for children to drink themselves to the sleep with tears and an empty bottle of pills by their bedside; and that was just to stop them from acting out putting their hands on that boy's neck.
David had become a friend in the short time Jaune had known the grown man. So, of course he wanted to help the guy out. That was the right thing to do after all.
"It's fine. The Grimm don't really act up until the late hours of the night. Besides, none of Lavender's traps have gone off yet, so we're in the clear. Helping you out for a few minutes isn't going to be the end of the camp."
"Well, you and your friends do seem like capable Huntsman despite still being students." David remarked brightly, "You even went as far as to help out with our camp activities! I would have thought that you would have simply kept to yourselves this entire week; color me surprised and ecstatic that you three are willing to help. I'm sure the kids are having an even grander time with your presence!"
"Almost all of them." Jaune muttered under his breath.
The ball of negativity known as Max was still on Jaune's mind. That was a matter he couldn't ignore if they were going to keep this camp safe from creatures that fed off of people like Max.
"Yeah. . .almost all of them."
Jaune winced. He could spot the slight frown marring David's face even in the dark. The man must have had some sharp hearing.
"I didn't mean anything David. I'm sure Max is. . .yeah, I got nothing." Jaune sighed dejectedly.
"It's alright. I know Max isn't exactly normal when compared to the other kids. He's rougher than most his age, not to mention he's swears worst than a grizzly old Huntsman. Every camper who's been dropped off to Camp Campbell can be said of in the same regard; they're all a bunch of misunderstood kids. It's just. . .Max is a bit more. . ."
David shook his head, his usually cheery expression growing a degree more sullen even with his smile still in place.
"I wouldn't say that. After all, not all adults are so jaded."
No, they were not. But Jaune wasn't thinking of a regular adult; Huntsman came to mind.
"Max may not seem to enjoy camp, but I wouldn't say he completely hates it either."
"I could have swore he said he hated it here; least six times today."
"He simply has trouble being honest with himself is all." David said weakly, his smile still refusing to fall, "I know he doesn't it like it here; I'm not a complete idiot. Even I'm not that dense. But that doesn't mean I'm just going to give up on him either. After all, he reminds me of when I was his age."
Jaune fully stopped at that comparison, his face wide eyed with disbelief. He couldn't help it, he spoke his mind.
It seemed David could see the humor, chuckling as he glanced back at slack jaw blond.
"That hard to believe, huh?" he said wistfully.
"I mean, I could understand seeing yourself in one of the other kids here. But comparing yourself to Max?" As mean as that sounded, come on. Max was Max; David was David. That was like Yin and Yang seeing another in the mirror.
"It's true, hard as that may seem. When I was his age I acted out just as he did. I had no respect for others, thought selfishly for myself, never said thanks, even had a foul mouth to match. I was nothing short of a brat that attacked others. And that's why I know that Max isn't as bad as he's constantly making himself out to be. I know that deep inside, there's a good kid that's just waiting to burst out with a gigavolt grin!"
That was some positive thinking if any. Jaune actually felt bad he was more cynical about the matter of bringing Max out of his shell. David really was something. If it had been anyone else in the ever bright counselor's position, they would have completely given up. Gwen had given up. No one could blame them when dealing with a kid that cynical who was constantly working to make everyone feel as shitty as he felt.
Knowing that the kids had were being taken care of by a man like David made Jaune feel better at the fact that both Grimm and possible cultists were swarming the forests. Even if the brunette counselor wasn't a Huntsman, he could at least have faith that David would be there for the kids in case of an attack. Hopefully it would never come to that.
Feeling more positive about his mission, Jaune smiled as he followed behind David. Despite how dark the night was, the threat of Grimm stalking the trees, and a new threat to The Story; things were looking brighter.
Maybe that had to due to the bright aura David seemed to radiate.
"So, once we've assessed the Huntsman in training's routes and abilities, we commence with our attack; Is that clear?"
The campgrounds surroundings both Camp Campbell and the small town nearby was relatively large. There were many corners to the forest that few dared to venture into due to the dens of Grimm that stopped even the bravest of travelers, and Huntsman. Those 'Dark Spots' were territories on most maps that warned of heavy Grimm activity that only veteran Huntsman were safe to venture. Even then, there really was no real reason for one to edge close to those Dark Spots, unless you were vehemently searching for bloodshed and feverish claws.
Such spots though made the perfect hideout for those who weren't necessarily keen on attention from the kingdoms of Remnant.
In the dark of night, several dark navy cloaked individuals stood in the center of a clearing within the deep of the forest, surrounded by numerous trees to hide their activity. A roaring fire burned brightly, illuminating those cloaked figures that circled the only source of light in the dead of the night. Though they were nestled in a Dark Spot that was under the Grimm's territory, those figures didn't so much as twitch as the sounds of howls could be heard close by.
Not even a gasp escaped from one of them as the forest brush behind them rustled violently and two red orbs peeked out. From the dwelling ruled by creatures of darkness, a seven foot Alpha Beowolf leaped out with a howl on its lips as it swung it tree bark shredding claws at the closest prey in sight.
One of those cloaked figures reared their left arm back, the long protruding dagger blade snapping back from the bungee like cord it was attached to from the forehead of the menacing wolf. An odd liquid seeped from the piercing wound to the Alpha Beowolf's forehead that carried a foreboding scent of lavender as it stumbled back. Those tearing claws lost control of their will, falling to clip the ground before it too fell.
It didn't disappear into wisps that put the night's darkness to shame; No, it simply laid there, it's face twitching occasionally along with the quiver of its muscles.
No one regarded the slumbering monstrosity that posed no more of a threat than a fussy pup, their focus set solely on their leader.
At the front of that raging fire that basked them in the warmth of light, stood a tall, lanky cloaked man. The man's attire was hidden by the cloak that hid his figure, the only feature of his that could really be seen was his face. He had the face of a man in his late twenties, pale skinned with sunken cheeks, deep dark circles over his blue eyes that spoke of an inability to sleep properly and shaggy, split end locks of dark hair streaked with gray. The man's posture was slouched and he seemed incapable of keeping still as he continually tapped his right foot.
His entire appearance spoke of exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and dispassion. Yet he remained widely awake and alert as he addressed those gathered around him.
"Sadly, our attempts to free those in the nearby town from the terror of the Grimm have not been seen kindly. I'm afraid that we must abandon them to their living nightmares; though it truly pains me." he spoke sullenly as he scratched his scalp out of habit, "They do not seem to understand that this everlasting wakening will only lead to their demise at those who seek even an inkling of negativity. No matter how we try to explain ourselves, they resist our treatments and label us criminals. They've even gone as far as to come up with ridiculous names for our group."
A round of angry complaints responded back that the leader worked to settle down with a gesture of his left skinny arm. He smiled thinly, bemused yet sadden all the same.
"Don't concern yourselves with them. They are grown adults who are incapable of relishing in the sweet dreams that shield them of the Grimm. But those children in Camp Campbell are different. The young are better safe in their dreams than awake in this world that seeks to corrupt their innocence. It may be too late to save those ignorant men and woman, but it is not too late save their children. And we are selves can not rest until we've brought those young souls into a world devoid of darkness and only sweet, honeyed dreams. Only in their sleep can those children find salvation."
From the confines of his cloak, he revealed his right arm protected by a thin opaque gold gauntlet that resembled the hand of both a knight, and a demon; wicked yet noble. The armor seemed to extend all the way to his shoulder, platted with sharp vent like horns that hissed with an odd ghoulish green vapor. The finger's of the gauntlet were cruel and seeped with a thin coat of liquid.
Notsnitsa; his favored tool/weapon that would lull those innocent souls to a brighter and kinder reality.
The leader gazed at the odd smelling liquid with a disappointed smile as a drop fell to the dirt.
"We are not a terror to the world; We are the much needed Lullaby to cure their insomnia filled with waking nightmares. And we will offer those sweet boys and girls respite and salvation from this cruel, ugly, unforgiving world. No matter what."
The howls of Grimm did little shake their resolve as they all happily followed their leader's words. Though their group was small, they were all passionate about their mission.
Night would turn to day. People would wake to another day full of burdens and fear of Grimm. The waking world was full of struggles for both humans and faunus; poverty, abuse, neglect, disease, hunger, and all things that drove the Grimm mad with hunger.
But that would soon end. For their was no pain, no suffering, no racism, and no despair in your sweetest of dreams.
All one needed was a Lullaby.
All around you, young flickers of youth gather around for fun and excitement in a world that is surrounded by vines of malice that threaten to overgrow and slaughter you all. A Huntsman and Huntress are sworn to protect those innocent bundles of light, to ease their fears and quell whatever negativity is born by FEAR. It is a lesson all true heroes must learn if they are to truly save those growing embers.
"Why can't you fucking wake up, you pathetic excuse of a Huntsman!? No one cares, so just accept this shitty reality and grow up!"
But not all youths are so compassionate. Darkness lurks in the hearts of children far too easily. And it is that sweet brimming malice that monsters truly desire far too gluttonously.
This world knows only living, breathing, physical cruelty. Fear not; a world lays in your hand to free you from such a broken world. Just lay your head to rest. Dream a sweet dream. The darkness can not touch you in your kindest, candied, beloved of thoughts.
Brimming flames of youth dwindle with a fading bark of violence. Whatever may come, remember to leave your mark upon those baleful eyes.
MAN! Does it feel awesome to be back to this! Can't tell ya how much I've missed to hear that beautiful melody of keyboard clicks in the late hours of the night while fully knowing that I have to wake up at three in the morning to get to work. Is this. . .what love feels like?
I'd thought it feel a lot more sexy. And I'd at least be at full mast.
As I said all those months ago, this Arc is suppose to be shorter than the past ones. I'd say about three more chapters? We'll have to consul with thy old fingers on that, but it shouldn't be anymore than five at max. After all, we still have Ren's part in this story to get to soon. Now that one I'm really excited to get into. It will help to explain a lot about Ren's particular play style that relies on Reactions. Plus much more on the lazy ninja boy. And maybe a bit more on a certain stalker-ish bandit girl?
Fun times to be had for sure; I promise. That is if I don't disappear again.
While we're on the subject of updates, I will begin to describe a new style of updates that will be implemented starting today. As I've said before; I'm an incredibly busy man. To allow you all to understand exactly what I do for a living; I'm basically an Assistant Morning Manager working in a unique deli that's themed after dogs. I mean we play with that theme well; to name a few sandwiches, we have the Chihuahua, Jack Russel, and Golden Retriever to name a few. That job requires me to work eleven hours at most a day for five to sometimes six days straight. And let's not forget about caring for the old family.
So, yeah; Busy, busy, busy.
That's why will begin to announce the next story to be updated next within the next week upon release of a new chapter, or at least give you a date within that month. Even if I have several chapters already set up, I will go by a rotation schedule from now on to make it easier on me and help me focus.
Today was Multiplayer. Next week; A Huntsman's Awakening.
And to let you know of what stories I've still got and haven't abandoned; Multiplayer, A Jaune of All Trades, A Huntsman's Awakening, and A Certain Influx of Time Traveling Mishaps. Sorry, but I haven't decided to continue my Fairy Tail fics. Far too much time has passed to get back to that.
I'm not counting any of my working projects in the making; you can learn more of those on my Profile if you're interested. I won't be publishing any of those until I've have about five chapters finished and even than I would hold them off until I believe it's a good time to let them up.
And again, I'm sorry for the long ass wait for any content. Life is life. She a cruel, sadistic, sexy mistress. Yes, I know; I have a problem. I love too much. And no, I am not a masochist. Why? Fuck you, that's why.
If ya haven't noticed, I'm like five drinks in. And I've been eyeing that delightfully fine darkly tanned neck of a certain Blue Moon beauty on my bookcase.
Now, Remember to Read and Review. Be the better gentleman; It's common courtesy.
NeoShadows fading in and out!
Next Up Date: February 21st-A Huntsman's Awakening.