A/N: This little piggy got married. This little piggy can't find a job. This little piggy has no motivation to do anything. Explains why it took so long to finish this pilot chapter. I've been on a Bloodborne streak lately, and this happened to be the first of many story ideas I've come up with. I know, I know, ALL RWBY/Bloodborne stories are the same right? Random Hunter goes *POOF* into Remnant, and then yada yada yada...
Well, I've taken that into consideration and obviously if you know me and my other works, this won't be like that. At least, not explicitly like that. Oh, fear not good friends! I have a rough story line planned out from which to work with.
I'm also aware that there are other stories of mine that are in dire need of my attention, and I promise you I am working on them as well; several are almost finished actually!
Legacy Eternal, Ch. 3 is about half way done.
Fate: Beyond, Ch. 2 is nearing my self-imposed word-quota, but I feel it still has a few more scenes to go before it's complete. But I may cut down to one more final scene before calling it done.
Like a Fairy Tail, Ch. 2 is in the works; I know many of you have been looking forward to that, so that will also be coming in due time.
My Destiny/Mass Effect story (as yet unreleased) is in minor limbo while I consider the validity of it, a Destiny/Star Wars crossover, and a Bloodborne/Berserk crossover. So many stories, no time to write them!
Also I've been doing a lot with my YouTube as well, doing some Let's Plays and some Destiny and Destiny 2 lore content. Head on over and give it a look if you're interested! Just search for "Black Lister Destiny" and I'll be the first one up there!
And without further ado, I present this 'ere pilot for Not What Was, But Will Be.
Dust. All he could see was dust, for miles. Wind whipped at his cloak, his hat tipping down to shield his eyes from the storm. His feet sank with every step, the loose sand flowing like water about his ankles. He didn't know how long he'd out there; if he had any concept of time, he'd long since cast it aside. Time existed for those bound by death, a final limitation that consumed too much of humanity's attention. He had only one focus; a singular determination.
His eyes focused on his shadow, long and dark, and getting more so in both forms. He turned from the sand and to the sky. The beating sun was setting. The air would soon cool, shadows fall, and moon rise.
Already he could see its light reflected in the blue evening sky, the cloudless ocean of air revealing its elusive host. It was something he was still not used to… the broken moon. He knew not the cause, only that it hurt to behold it. He'd wandered for so long, he sometimes fancied he'd been born of the sand. He was the desert that surrounded him, consuming all life which wandered too brazenly into his course clutches.
A shadow covered his empty gaze, drawing him back to himself. But it was not the setting sun that left him in darkness, but the large, feathered form of the masked beast which haunted his steps. Finally it crept from its timidity and faced him directly.
He did not smile; to revel in the face of confrontation would be madness.
He did not frown; to dismay in the face of confrontation would be apostasy to himself.
He did the only thing that came naturally.
He flexed his right hand. A heavy, rusty clunk as the blade of the saw swung out, locking into place as it became a cleaver.
He flexed his left hand. The action of a small canon the size of his forearm clicked into position.
They weren't really hands anymore. They were whatever weapons he chose. He was a weapon. With a mind as vast as the cosmos.
He was a Hunter. The world was consumed by beasts. He could cleanse it; by fire, by blade, by all the arcane powers of the universe entire. By the blood in his veins and the eyes in his brain.
Yes, that which came naturally.
He laughed. A mirthless, uncontrollable, wretched laugh.
The beast screamed and surged toward him.
He raised his weapon, its rustic red glint flashing in the gleam of the dying sun; the crystallized life-blood of the many thousands felled by it.
He brought it down.
The laughter didn't stop.
Voices. Hushed. Dim. Heard, but not understood. The blood in his vision slowly began to drain. He brought himself up, his body lifting at his whim, even as his limbs remained motionless. Back on his feet, he raised his head and regarded those before him.
Three of them. Dressed in an odd assortment of clothes. He met their gazes evenly. Their eyes belied their curiosity and distrust.
They spoke, but the blood still sung in his ears. They were loud… forceful. He lowered himself dangerously, his cleaver dragging in the sand as he approached.
Weapons appeared in their hands.
Ah, so that was how it was.
The red haze returned in his vision.
Ozpin slid the report across back across the table, letting the auto-streaming program drag data from it and project it into the air in front of him. Quietly, he leaned back in his chair, clutching his coffee mug in both hands, his legs crossing comfortably at the knees. His bespectacled eyes slowly, diligently scanned the information, taking in every word and committing them to memory. He took a sip.
Under ordinary circumstances, he wouldn't have paid it much mind, at least beyond keeping it in mind for some future necessity. But it was the individual who sent it to him that had him so carefully pouring over the contents. After all it wasn't often someone like him got a direct line from the Head of the Vacuo Regional Defense.
Beside him stood old friend and fellow Beacon Academy staff member Glynda Goodwitch. Though to call her "staff member" might be putting it a bit too mildly. Without her, the school would be a mad house. More so than usual anyway. Add to it, she was privy to nearly all information in the school, including some of his own personal secrets. Actually, she was more like a secretary and confidant than teacher. For that reason, she examined the scroll's contents alongside him.
Her eyes turned to him with irritation. Not at the broken silence, but that the slight smile he had on his face as he settled back into his chair.
"And what exactly do you find so amusing?" she questioned with ice in her voice. He didn't take any offense at it; that was her normal tone. Passive-oppressive. "You get a call from the Head of Vacuo's Region Defense, and the first thing you do after reading it is to smile. If I didn't know you better I'd say you're as crazy as Qrow."
Ozpin's smile widened slightly as he took another sip, gently leaning forward to set it on his desk. "Come now Miss Goodwitch. Admittedly, I'd be lying if I said the man's personality didn't rub a little off on me… But don't confuse my humor with indifference. I'm well aware of the gravity of the situation."
The woman returned her gaze before her, favoring the hand-held scroll over the extra-large hologram in the middle of the room. "An unidentified combatant crossed the border from Vacuo into Vale, injuring half a dozen border patrols in the process." She waved the scroll beside him. "I should hope you're not 'indifferent.' This unprovoked, violent behavior will no doubt find its way here soon. The question is what we should do with the information. Double our own patrols? Close down potential border crossings?"
Ozpin was silent for several seconds before pointed to the map in the middle of the room. "A good start, but you're missing the important point, Miss Goodwitch."
The woman raised an eyebrow at her friend and allowed him to continue. "Notice how the target is coming out of Vacuo and into Vale. Next, notice the location of the various incidents. Three scuffles over a week's time in these areas." The map placed targets along the border of Vacuo where the border patrols had made contact with the stranger. Numbers floated beside the pointers, indicating the sequence in which the meetings took place.
Glynda narrowed her eyes and turned to the large hologram, trying to divine what Ozpin was inferring. After several seconds, silent seconds, she gave up. "I'm… not seeing it."
Ozpin simply gave a nod. It was one of those nods of his; the kind that made you feel like he was about to reveal a super simple secret to a complicated equation. The kind that made you feel like an idiot for not seeing it sooner, but also made you admire his ability to come up with it on his own. "Perhaps if we have the map show local areas of interest."
He tapped a few buttons on his console and allowed the map to add more detail to itself. Names appeared next to areas of the map, indicating city regions and points of intrigue.
It took a few seconds before Miss Goodwitch caught scent of Ozpin's point. Her eyes narrowed incredulously. "The Aureum Desertum?" she questioned disbelievingly.
Ozpin gave a simple nod. "There's nothing for two hundred miles from the first point of contact. The pattern of conflict indicates this individual came out of the Aureum."
Glynda returned her gaze to the hologram with a breath. The Aureum Desertum was an old name for the large stretch of sand that extended over most of the Vacuo-Vale border. Named for the golden color the sands took in the midday sun, the desert was known to claim at least a dozen lives every year. Mostly adventurers and extreme outdoors-men who liked to test their limits and set records. But even then, numerous individuals had been confirmed to have crossed it on foot in the past. It shouldn't be that surprising…
But as she continued to read on, she found herself furrowing her brow more and more. The description of the interloper didn't seem to match up with a traveler. From how he was described, he didn't seem to be prepared for desert travel, nor were there any way-stations even remotely close to his first sighting.
"So where did he come from then?" she questioned.
Ozpin's response only asked more questions. "They're not sure, and neither am I. According to reports, he was wearing dark, drab leather. Not exactly something you don under the blazing Vacuo sun."
There were several pictures attached to the report, most of the various wounds of Vucuan soldiers in medical facilities. Ozpin had no doubt the Vacuo Regional Defense wanted to push this issue onto him, selling it with a wrapping made of "complete assistance." But of the many photos, only one depicted the stranger. It was blurred, distorted, no doubt taken in the heat of battle by a personal surveillance device. In fact, the way the picture turned out seemed to exaggerate the culprit even more than he likely was. In the picture, he was swinging his weapon, described as a cleaver, at someone on the photographer's right, the shutter speed causing the swinging motion to blur the image.
"That's the only picture of him," Ozpin informed with a finger. "Not much to go on, is it?"
Glynda shook her head. "No, it isn't." She fell silent for several seconds. "What should we do if he comes here?"
Ozpin straightened himself and rose to his feet, snatching his familiar cane from its resting place against the lip of his desk. "As you suggested, we'll increase our patrols. But Vacuo's border guard is no joke. If this man could get through them, we'll need to do even better."
"You have something in mind?"
Ozpin smirked and nodded. "I was thinking that this could be valuable training for our students."
The woman simply stared at him in disbelief. "You just said that we need to do better, and that somehow means sending children into harm's way?"
Ozpin held out a placating hand to calm his friend. "I hardly implied they'd be on the front. But I do believe if they sit back, away from most of the danger, they might learn something. Besides, it's possible this incident will blow over and never amount to anything. The man may be just trying to disappear. Who knows?"
Goodwitch sighed and relinquished a nod. "I suppose that's fair. Some of the students are already on a field trip within the area. I suppose reassigning them would be easier than recalling them" She pulled out her scroll again and began tapping away at it.
Ozpin stared back at the large map, now focusing on the red pip that indicated the location of the aforementioned expedition. If the intruder were to continue on into Vale, from his last known location, it would be within no more than fifty miles of the field trip. Despite the severity of the situation, the headmaster couldn't stop himself from smiling. He had many bright students at Beacon, and he was confident that they would be able to defend themselves. They were huntsmen and huntresses after all. In training or otherwise, they were fully capable of handling this... character. Besides, they were in the perfectly capable hands of-
The, appropriately, portly gentleman in red cringed slightly at the shrill voice of Nora Valkyrie calling out his name. He turned with a raised eyebrow and eyed the orange haired girl, jumping and waving her hands in that excited, bubbly way she so often exhibited. It was endearing of course, to a point, but he did wish she didn't have to do so while they were hunting.
"Yes, Miss Valkyrie?" he finally responded.
The girl was practically jumping up and down on her toes as she turned and began frantically pointing to the side where her team was hiding in the brush, doing what she was supposed to be doing; being quiet and looking for interesting specimens of Grimm and documenting their observations.
"Lookie lookie! C'mon! Check it out!" she rushed off and dove, quiet literally, into the foliage and into spotting position, binoculars already up to her eyes, a silly grin on her face.
Relenting, he followed her over and peeked through the brush, managing to not step on the four prone teens beneath him.
"Sorry, professor, but you know how she is," apologized Ren without taking his eyes from his own binoculars. Jaune raised his hand and offered his pair to his senior. The large man accepted them and brought them to his face, even as the hammer-wielding maniac pointed down towards the clearing below. They were perched atop a large rock formation that had long since grown plant life atop it. The surrounding area was mountainous and rocky, with large banks of mist hovering halfway up the great hills some distance behind them. It was this mountain range, which extended for most of the way across the Vale-Vacuo border, that was the cause of the large rain-shadow which kept the Vacuan desert as dry as a dustpan. However, the desert itself didn't start for many miles, and only existed as a distant horizon, even at their altitude.
The Beacon staff member aimed his sight in the direction the pinkette was pointing, spotting the black mass of a Grimm on the edge of the clearing below. There were various other teams about, including team RWBY and CRDL, all with the same directive, though not so far from himself that he wouldn't be able to help should the need arise. But he was confident that it wouldn't be an issue. They were all capable students in their own right. At the very least they'd be able to hold off any serious threat until he arrived.
"Hmm, yes. I see. It appears to be a Death Stalker. Strangely colored though." Indeed, though all Grimm were black with white armor trimmed in red, this particular Grimm seemed to have unique black patterns adorning it's back all the way up to its stinging tail. Upon closer inspection, it was missing it's left-most hind leg at the knee, and the tip of its right claw was flat, as if it'd been cut off or filed down. More likely the former. "I would wager it's an older Grimm. Probably upwards seventy or eighty years old."
Pyrrha Nikos took her eyes away from their specimen to look quizzically at her professor. "Is that more, like, middle-aged for a Grimm? You said they can live for hundreds of years."
"Indeed they do," he replied, "but Death Stalkers are well known for being aggressive and bold. Most don't live beyond half a century. To find one beyond a hundred years old would be quite the outlier. See the odd black etchings on its back? Those don't usually appear on a young Death Stalker. Be sure to write this down, one of you."
Ren raised the pencil in his right hand. "Got it."
"Why do they call them Death Stalkers?" Juane asked, focusing in on the beasts' appendages. "I mean, there's Ursa, Nevermores, Death Stalkers, Goliaths... Why don't they just call them, "Grimm bears,' or 'Grimm scorpions?' It makes more sense... right?'"
Pyrrha gave a small smile at her teammate's candor, even as she trained the sight of her rifle on the beast. She had no intention of firing it, but the hunter's scope was able to zoom further than a regular pair of binoculars. "I feel like that would be an insult to a normal animal."
"Yeah Jaune, you need to have a flare for the dramatic!" Nora piped up, her excitement at having found a special Grimm showing through her ear-to-ear grin.
"Why? We've got the whole team's worth of 'dramatic' in one person," he replied, not even needing to throw a glance at the orange-head for her to giggle appreciatively.
A muffled beeping from Port's belt drew the four students' attention, even as the man lowered his binoculars and fished out his scroll. Flipping it open he scanned it's contents. Ordinarily professors on field trips weren't contacted unless something important had come up, lest the alert interrupt their work, be it delicate or otherwise.
A few seconds of silence was all he needed to read over it. "Oh dear. It seems we'll need to cut today's lesson a bit short," he announced sadly.
"Really?" Jaune asked before quickly amending, "I mean, what?! Why?"
With a press of a few buttons, a ring went out to all involved groups in the area. "I'll explain in a moment. Attention students," he spoke first to JNPR and then to his scroll, "This is Professor Port. Please respond with your immediate positions. Team JNPR."
"Right here!" Nora said with a raised hand and her trademark unending enthusiasm.
He gave an appreciative nod. "Obviously. Team CRDL."
"This is Cardin. We're about a kilometer south of your position." There was a moment before a ping appeared on his scroll. "Found a lot of minor Nevermore down here. Nothing real interesting."
"Yes, very good," Port said dismissively, knowing now that they were safe. "Team RWBY."
There was silence from the scroll.
"Team RWBY, are you there?"
Still more silence. Peter did his best not to let concern show on his face.
"Team RWBY, please respond."
The silence was followed by a distant boom, deep and explosive in nature. Almost immediately after, the comm filled with static.
"H-Hello?! Professor? This is Ruby! Hey, listen, uh, we... maaaaybe... kinda, disturbed some of the local Grimm wildlife, aaaand... yeah. That's what we're doing. Disturbing the wildlife. Nothing else to report!" Her voice noticeably rose in pitch at the end, her nervous smile audible through the transmission.
Port's eye twitched. "Dist-! Ugh, Ms. Rose, I gave you explicit instructions to stay away from the Grimm and to observe them. Not pet them!"
A crackle of static over the scroll was echoed by another boom in the distance.
"I didn't pet them! Well, I mighthavepickedatinyoneup, but it was so small and cute I thought it was harmless! How was I supposed to know it was a Taijitu's tail with a funny design on it!"
Port didn't realize he had already palmed his face until his hand fell back to his side. "Ms. Rose, listen carefully. Stop... antagonizing them and come back to us, and don't bring the Grimm with you! Is that clear?"
"Um, clear! Yeah! Clear like crystal! Uh-huh! We just, um... might be a little bit!"
Another rumble in the distance.
"...A lot a bit."
Port gave a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose as the sound of additional explosions resounded through the forest. In the distance, a flock of Nevermore rose to the sky, no doubt the same ones that Cardin's team was observing.
"Sounds like Ruby alright," Jaune said with a smirk and a nudge to Pyrrha, who rolled her eyes with the same smile.
"Never mind that, we'll come to you. Just... Just give me your location," Port uttered in exasperation.
Pyrrha eyed the direction of the ensuing combat. "Do they really need our help, Professor?" she asked.
"Yeah! I mean, team RWBY is pretty strong," the youngest of the Arc family affirmed. "They can handle a Taijitu no problem, right?"
"A single Taijitu, or small group of them, I agree. And they're capable huntswomen, no doubt. But, with all the commotion, there's no guarantee that they won't attract something larger, or more numerous."
"I'm betting on both!"
A collective groan exhaled from the four of them. "Nora!"
"What?" she asked innocently. "It's true and you know it; safest bet I've ever made!"
"She's not entirely wrong, you know," Ren commented offhandedly.
"Regardless," Port said, getting back on track. "Even if they can handle it, there's no reason to leave our friends on their own. So! Are you ready to hunt some Grimm?"
"Ready, and willing!" Nora responded, practically (literally) salivating at the opportunity.
Jaune and Pyrrha exchanged resigned smiles and shrugged to each other. "Sure. Why not?"
Port didn't want to concern the students with what might actually be heading this way. No reason to bother until they were all gathered together.
Of course, it would be a whole nest of Taijitu. At least a dozen of the things were now slithering about, snapping and hissing as they encircled the four girls. Pairs by the way. So, twenty-four...ish snakes? Ugh.
And it all started with her touching what she thought was a cute little Grimm hiding beneath a bush.
"Why is it we always get caught up in one of your messes?!" came the irritated voice of the Shnee heiress as she used her glyphs to leap away, out of reach of a black Taijitu.
"I'm sorry~!" the red cloaked huntress whined apologetically. "I just thought it was cute!" she cried as she slashed Crescent Rose at the head of the closest slithering thing to her.
"Grimm are NEVER cute!" the heiress countered.
A loud cry of fury accompanied a smashing explosion between the two, along with the blonde haired beauty that was Ruby's (half) sister, Yang.
"Fight now, argue over what's cute later!" she ordered with a pointed finger, her gauntlets still smoking from her last attack.
Weiss, for her part, didn't argue and leapt away to avoid being snapped up by a lunging snake.
"H-Hey! I'm team leader Yang! You can't tell me what to-EEP! Arguing later!" Ruby squeaked and also leapt away as the previous Taijitu's partner hissed at her dangerously.
In the thick of it, Blake was simply doing her best not to get eaten, her shadows getting devoured almost as fast as she could create them. Not one for talking on a good day, she remained mostly silent as she fought, knowing that, should her semblance fail her, her allies would have her back. Indeed, even as they all swung and sliced, shot and stabbed, they never left the sphere of each other's influence. Ruby's speed kept her well within range of anyone around her for half a mile, while Yang's explosiveness allowed her to throw or punch herself into an intercepting strike, should the need arise. Weiss was perhaps the shortest range fighter of the four, as Blake's Gambol Shroud could easily be swung on a strap like a kusarigama... and also had bullets. But Weiss' rapier, Myrtenaster, had no innate ranged function, special Dust cartridges aside. Her glyphs on the other hand, more than made up for her weapon's short reach. When you factored in her ability to modify her glyphs for almost any situation and use, the woman was a force to be reckoned with, as the miniature Taijitu horde was quickly discovering.
"Woohoo! Go Weiss!" cheered the blonde brawler as she slammed her fist into an armored snake's head. Wielding her glyphs like shields as she was, the Taijitu were, quite literally, beating their heads against a wall and quickly dispatched in their stunned stupor. She kept up the barrage of interchanging Dust attacks, using them to open up the Taijitu for her teammates to take advantage of. The Taijitu were smart, and heavily armored, as all Grimm were, on the head. But they were smart enough to hide themselves away from hunters, and with only Ruby and Yang having enough firepower to punch holes through the Taijitu, Blake was pulling distraction duty, and Weiss was supporting with damage and battlefield manipulation.
They were actually a well-oiled machine; it assured Ruby of what she, ultimately, already knew. They were good. And she knew that one day, they would be more than just 'good.' They would be unstoppable!
But the Taijitu certainly weren't going in guns blazing... or, rather, teeth flaring; they ducked, dodged and weaved, doing their damnedest to be an annoyance to the four huntresses. They'd only managed to actually kill three of them, and they were surrounded by all sides.
In any other situation, they'd be scared out of their wits, but they had the confidence bolster by allies, who were on their way. All the four had to do was survive until then. Still, it was strange the way the Taijitu didn't snake-pile on them. With their size and numbers, they could have easily overwhelmed the four teens, yet they didn't. Not to give themselves too little credit, but what exactly were they waiting for? If they tried their hardest right now, team RWBY wouldn't stand a chance. So what were they waiting for?
Ruby yelled as she swung her scythe upwards, attempting to decapitate one of the beasts that had its head raised, neck exposed. Her strike was intercepted by its mate's powerful jaws clamping down on the weapon. Her surprised stunned her for a moment, but that moment was all she needed for her original target to slither around and snap it's jaws at her. Using her semblance, she quickly flipped around the handle of Crescent Rose, out of harm's way, and pulled the trigger on the weapon, the force of which sent the blade deep in to the roof of its captor's mouth. She fired again, this time cleaving through half its skull. She fired a fourth time, bringing the blade near to freedom.
"Let... go... stupid... snake!" she grumbled between each shot.
But before she could fire a fourth, the Taijitu she'd evaded returned with a vengeance. While her impromptu Grimm steed reeled in pain, lifting itself higher into the air, the other surged from beneath, it's jaws wide open and venom dripping from its fangs.
Ruby paled. "Uh oh, not good!"
With a roar and flash of gold, an armored gauntlet smashed into the head of her enemy, driving it fully down onto and through Crescent Rose's sharpened blade. With a flip, Ruby narrowly escaped being Grimm food. "Thanks Yang!" Ruby said with a smile, even as the mild panic of her possible, potential, maybe near-death experience faded in her chest. But hey, that was basically every other Tuesday, right?
"There's too many of them!" Weiss complained as she evaded three Taijitu using her glyphs to step into the air.
"We have to hold out for Professor Port and the others," Blake reaffirmed as the group came together backs to backs.
The hissing around them increased in intensity as a dark shadow emerged from the treeline around them. Their eyes widened fearfully; it was another Taijitu, but this one was a mix of both white and black, the two colors twisting around its body in a spiral.
Unlike it's brethren, its mask was far more intricate, not to mention expansive. instead of just the top of the snake's face, it also grew down and covered the lower jaw. A second pair of fangs, like bones, protruded from the mask's lips. And when it opened its mouth, it's true fangs were bared, deadly poison sliding like thin mucous down its teeth.
The heat of its breath nearly made Weiss double over from nausea, but she held firm, readying her glyphs and reloading Myrtenaster with a new cartridge of assorted Dust. Yang brushed a phantom bruise from her mouth, an energetic, determined smile gracing her lips, even as she bounced on the balls of her feet. Blake checked her scroll, making sure her aura hadn't taken too much damage.
Ruby held Crescent Rose tight in her hands. This was going to be a close one.
A sudden flash of light and ringing of steel snapped all four to attention. The Taijitu recoiled sharply, hissing and coiling into itself in pain. Ruby blinked as the other Taijitu seemed to suddenly back away, their aggression turning to skittishness. The large one thrashed its head vigorously, hissing in anger as it did. Ruby then saw the reason why. Embedded in its skull was a large black slab of jagged metal, one side sharp, the other serrated and sinister.
Before Ruby could utter a word of confusion, the shadow of a form stood atop the beasts' crown, gripping the offending object with a single hand. With a single move, it ripped the weapon free. Though to call it such certainly triggered Ruby's OCD; the thing could barely be called sensible, let alone a weapon. Ruby wasn't the smartest, nor the quickest witted girl in Beacon, nor even on her own team, but when it came to weapons old or (especially) new, her analytical skills were second to very few. From what she could tell, it was a simple device; just a hunk of metal. One side had a curved, sharpened edge, while the other side was serrated. This was attached and held by way of a curved handle that was longer than her arm. Though, it had just killed a Taijitu... But as her attention turn from the weapon to its wielder, she felt her breath slow in her chest.
Tall, clad in a black, ashen coat, with long sleeves and thick gloves. On his head was a folded cap, like an old sailor's tricorn, with feathery wings arcing back, a dark cloth wrapped over his face. He rose from his crouch, slower than seemed sensible, being surrounded by Taijitu as they were, but yet the Grimm didn't take advantage. Quite the opposite actually, their hissing of panic had turned to a quiet hunger; the entire knot of nightmarish reptiles circled. The newcomer's gaze was low, hidden by the bill of his cap, but the way his head lazily cocked left and right belied his awareness.
Ruby noticed now how he held the... "weapon" in his right hand, and in his left he held a firearm. It wasn't a gun, at least not any kind she'd seen before. Actually that wasn't entirely true; if she recalled, professor Port had one quite similar. Oh, what were they called again...? It was the size of a common rifle, though it looked like it weighed three times as much, and the way he hefted it in a single-handed grip hinted at his raw physical strength.
And speaking of the absent faculty member... 'Man, I hope professor Port gets here soon...!' she thought worriedly.
But in the blink of an eye; the passage of an instant in time, her body reacted before she could think, Crescent Rose ringing painfully from the impact of their weapons. 'Wha-?'
She spun, whirling her scythe instinctively. Her blade caught his, even as he slung his firearm on his shoulder, over his neck, and pointed at eyes met.
Silver eyes, like the pale moonlight echoing off the surface of the water gazed into crimson. Like the red of the sun as it dips deep into the horizon, but clouded like moonlit fog. She saw then something she'd never seen before. Of all the times she'd observed people, she'd never really noticed their eyes as anything other than interesting. But this person... his eyes were so much more than that; there was a depth therein... A strange sensation. She couldn't quite place it exactly, but for the brief instant that their gazes met, she felt as if she were staring into an abyss so deep, her mind couldn't fully fathom it.
And then their fingers, poised as they were against their respective triggers, pulled. Hammers met shells and the barrels lit with fire.
It was an eerie moment. Ruby had heard of moments when during a fight, time might appear to stand still. A result of your brain suddenly doping on adrenaline, and the stretching of one's perception to its limits. The ripples of air as the projectiles tore through the space between them. The crumpling of metal as both impacted each other; bullet to bullet.
Then time rapidly accelerated, their weapons clashing with a violent clang. Both whirled away from each other, and Ruby managed to put some distance between the man and herself. It as only a few seconds' reprieve as her team came to her aid, lining up beside her in confusion and concern. The Grimm seemed to be warily giving them space, though the girls kept sharp eyes on them regardless.
"What the in the world?" Weiss exclaimed as she directed her attention to the mysterious figure. "Where did he come from? And why is he attacking you?!"
"Looks like he wants a piece of all of us," Yang commented as she settled into her usual stance, weapons ready to launch a barrage of dust at whoever might attack.
Indeed, the man's attention seemed to be focused, not solely, but mostly on them. The way he his eyes flicked from Grimm to human seemed the same as they. Blake, with her previous combat experience had a pretty good idea what he was doing; he was triaging threats, and apparently from the way he seemed to be eyeing them, they were the pretty high on his list.
"He's coming...!" the faunus alerted the moment she saw the telltale signs of movement. As well she did; no sooner had the words left her mouth did he attack.
Beasts everywhere. Beasts to his left. Beasts to his right. Misshapen monsters of all sizes on all sides. But he was a Hunter; his was to cut down every beast and rid the place of their filth. And yet... so many of them! Not that he hadn't faced insurmountable odds before and come out the victor, but... By the gods... So many! And yet for every beast he slew, a new one took it's place. First the beasts of the desert, and now the beasts of the forest... Did their numbers know no limit?
And now this thing... this little, red thing. Oh! How the world spun in his vision! The smell of beasts covered the place, and their warped visages surrounded him. And the four beasts before him... the dozens behind them... He would hunt them all to extinction.
But those four... the quartet of creatures... they didn't die as easily as the others. They spun, they whirled, they cut and they crushed. Every narrowly avoided slash, every grazing blow, his eternity of reflexes and instincts serving him well. He could smell their confusion, and it sent thrilling chills down his limbs. He was after all, a Hunter; the predators had turned to prey, and they couldn't understand the why or how of it. The blood... it sang to him. Sickened him with its sweetness.
All the world was dyed in crimson, and yet, a red even more red than blood stood out the most. A blood-red thing spilling red blood... What a curious oddity. The way it twisted and spun, it's singular large claw lashing out at him, and the smaller fangs of it's companions. And yet for every wound he avoided, they too avoided him. They were fast prey, to be sure. But he'd fought faster. Their mouths opened, roars and grunts bellowing dimly in his ears. Their eyes focused solely on him, save that they glanced at their larger fellows behind them. As well they should. He was the greatest of prizes for any would-be rival. They shouldn't let any of the lesser beasts steal him from beneath their noses. Even more so, all predators should be wary of other predators. Those who stand at the top had the farthest for fall after all.
And yet how strange these creatures moved. Like those others he'd encountered in the desert. They stood upright, with two slender arms wielding their various claws. Spurts of light erupted from them, catching him off guard. Two of the lights landed into his left shoulder, snapping him around and forcing him back. So they could spit too? Ah, the red one had done so before, hadn't she? He paid his new wounds no mind. White light nearly blinded him as strange circles appeared around him like snow falling. Did they bring the snow? No, that was absurd. The blackened shadow of a beast was annoying. For every slash or shot he was certain landed true, it seemed to appear elsewhere, unharmed. And the golden one? Like a ferocious lion who tried to bring him into its clutches. He would not let it. And then the red one. Redder than the red that painted the world around him. Its speed worried him. A scything blade-like claw. It was nothing new to him; he'd fought many like it before. But its speed kept him nearly off balance. The way it's reach was longer than the others concerned him the most, and he knew to sidestep it's spitting fire.
But there was more. Fire and light, flashing weapons and spurting blood. All around him the serpents began to die, courtesy of even more bipedal creatures. He felt his blood surge through his veins. Let the beasts kill each other, and the survivors will be prey worthy of his attention. These two legged shadows were something to behold, even as prey. The way they dispatched the surprised snakes with ease, and the way they moved... like birds flitting to and fro, from monster to monster.
Monsters fighting monsters.
He let loose a hail of buckshot with his gun, catching the beasts in its barrage. The moment they staggered, he rushed in for the kill. But these prey, they fought for each other. Two intercepted him and threw him back. Ah, a pack, eh? Then they would die like dogs.
But more and more joined the fray, the larger beasts' numbers dwindling. And with their inclusion, came less room for him to maneuver. Less time was spent attacking, and more time spent avoiding.
But it was very... unsettling. Though phantasmic shadows, the way they moved, the way they struck seemed familiar, and not in the way it should have been. Beasts had no patterns. Only instincts. They had no form. Only passion. Yet these things... he beheld a methodology that didn't exist in any beast he'd encountered before. No, even then, he'd fought semi-intelligent opponents before. These didn't fight like them either. If anything, it was less like fighting beasts and more like...
A strange sensation roiled over him. A creeping blindness replaced by sight; the red mist, that blood-induced toxicity that haunted the darkest recesses all Hunters' thoughts, retreated from his mind. For the first time since he couldn't remember when, his eyes, his true eyes, opened, and he knew the world around him. The clarity was instant. 'How... could I not know my own eyes were closed...?' he wondered only for a moment before reality set in.
These were not beasts he was fighting. They were people.
In the passing of a moment, he took in the scene; ten, no... a dozen men and women danced around him, weapons of varying sizes and shapes held in their hands. Some familiar, most not. All of them poised and pointed at him.
Momentum lost to his revelation, he backpedaled. There would be little point in asking them to hold. He knew first hand how dangerous and intimidating blood addled Hunters could seem, and be. He could only imagine their trepidation. Their very faces betrayed them; fear. Yet, determination remained. Good for them; that would serve them well.
However, he needed to find a lull long enough to plead cessation.
A new scent. A sweetness, like... sugar?
His head whirled, gaze meeting the business end of a great, steel mallet.
The words, uttered by one of the others, were followed by an overly eager grin from the young woman, her peachy-orange hair flowing in the wind.
The weapon eclipsed his vision.
Ozpin sipped his hot beverage contentedly, a pleasant smile on his lips as he watched the students in his office relax as they gave their report.
"I think that went rather well, actually," the headmaster commented happily, eyeing the young men and women.
"I assure you headmaster, I rushed to help them as soon as I understood the situation!" Port said, concern in his voice as he tried to assure him of his actions.
Ozpin waved off the man's concern. "It's quite alright, Peter. I'm sure you did," he said with full honesty. "Tell me," he turned, addressing the twelve students before him. "How did it end exactly?"
The three teams, CRDL, JNPR, and RWBY, all stood side by side, their abridged reports having already been given just moments earlier.
Jaune Arc, the de-facto leader of team JNPR, spoke up. "Well, Nora-"
"I hit him with my hammer!"
Ozpin gave the excited girl a raised eyebrow. He'd been exposed once or twice to Nora Valkyrie's peculiar temperament, though he couldn't say he disliked it. If anything, although it made her a handful to deal with, her rambunctiousness made her a refreshing breath of air to the normally nervous and reserved student body. At least in his presence.
"You don't say?" he replied with an amused smile.
"What was that you said when you hit him anyway? I didn't catch it," the Arc boy asked, shrugging his shoulder curiously.
"Hammer down," she quoted simply. "It's a line from a game I've gotten into recently."
"Ooh ohh! I know that game! I so want to play it but I never have time!" Ruby cried eagerly, her face brightening into blissful daydreams. "Reaper is my favorite~!"
Yang fixed her sister with a skeptical look and planted a hand on her hip. "You just like the name, don't you?"
"Nuh-uh!" Ruby defended, even while she pantomimed firing a pair of guns in her hands. "He's got two shot guns too!"
"Ladies." They girls blinked back to the headmaster as he gestured to the aggregate of students and faculty members before them, silently asking, with some measure of bemusement, whether they might continue.
Nora looked away and scratched the back of her head while Ruby had the sense to shuffle her feet apologetically. "Oh, right. Sorry."
"So where is the culprit now?" Ozpin prodded, turning back to Goodwitch, his hands folded beneath his chin.
"He's currently in the infirmary recovering. I've already taken precautions to have him restrained and guarded. These are his effects." The woman turned and lifted a... rather sizable crate with her wand, plopping it on the headmaster's desk, an action that caused Jaune to raise an eyebrow suspiciously.
"What, you just took his stuff? Isn't that basically stealing?"
Ozpin gave a nod. "Regrettable as it is, the... patient, is a suspected criminal. We believe he is behind the attack on several Vacuo patrols in the past week."
"Besides, it's not really theft," spoke the blonde female in their midst. "I'm sure the headmaster is just... holding onto them. For safekeeping." Of course, the obligatory wink implied to true nature of the situation prompting a sagacious look from the man in green.
Nora brought her hands together and cracked her knuckles, wiggling them suspiciously as she approached the case. "Well, so long as no one's around to complain..."
A swift snap made the teen recoil, the whip of Goodwitch smacking her across the wrist. "As a suspected criminal, all of these items are to be thoroughly examined as part of the investigation."
"Oh it's quite alright, Miss Goodwitch," Ozpin assured as he stood from his chair, coming around to the forefront of his desk. "A young one's curiosity is a thing to be admired. If they wish to see them, then they shall.."
The excitement lit up the many faces in the room.
"...After the investigation." The emotional one-eighty their expressions made brought a humored smile to his lips as he planted his hands on his cane before him. "Now then... I'd advise all of you to head back to your rooms for a well deserved rest."
The dismayed faces brightened at the idea of a break and they nodded their heads respectfully towards the headmaster, even as Port heckled them to complete their reports before the end of the week as they filed out the door.
However one lone, little girl remained, turning back to her elders with some measure of uncertainty.
"A question, Miss Rose?" Ozpin prodded with an inviting smile, the kind he hoped he'd be remembered for. The girl, uncharacteristically hesitant, took her time answering. "Headmaster, I... uh..." The man waited patiently, a talent he had learned long ago that had done him well in his teaching career. Sometimes silently allowing one to sort through their thoughts did more good than pestering them to spit it out.
"I don't think he's a bad guy."
Ozpin's surprised expression must have been more evident than he expected, but he wasn't alone. Evidently his peers shared his feelings quite accurately. They each shared a look, prompting the grey haired man to beg the question. "And... why do you think that, Miss Rose?"
The girl was silent, her silver eyes flitting back and forth in their sockets, as if she herself were searching for a reason, or perhaps just a way to explain it. "Just... a feeling." The look she gave Ozpin was so innocent and pure, it nearly made the grown man cry.
He let out a short laugh and gave the girl a proud look. "I hope you're right, Miss Rose; I hope you're right."
The girl gave a short smile and turned around, leaving the three alone in the room.
"Children truly are inspirational, aren't they?" The portly professor said, a smile hidden beneath his mustache.
Ozpin couldn't help but nod his head in agreement. "They never cease to surprise me either, Port."
Their proud rumination was cut short by a tone from Ozpin's desk. Reaching over with his cane, the headmaster tapped the com-key and spoke. "Yes?"
The voice that came through was gruff and serious, and yet suspiciously apologetic. "We have a problem, headmaster."
Ozpin's eyes narrowed unpleasantly. "What kind of problem?"
The first thing he noticed was the light. The room was very bright, synthetic bulbs in the ceiling burned down on him, offset by the natural sunlight pouring in from several windows spotting the walls. On either side of him was a dividing sheet, bluish-white in color, and a blue, course sheet lay over his body. A faint pressure on his limbs revealed themselves to be restraints that wrapped around his wrists and ankles. An understandable, if now necessary precaution. A wave of nausea hit him like a hammer to the cranium, as an intense, pounding pain echoed back and forth in his skull. He blinked slowly, his bearing slowly gathering to himself. He'd have brought a hand up to massage his temples, had he the unrestrained mobility to do so.
As it was, he recalled the massive great-hammer he'd been struck with, and found it no wonder he felt as aching as he did. And yet, though pain often brought great frustration or anger to most who suffered it, he could not bring himself to blame them for bringing it upon him.
'Them...' Now there was a sudden, insightful question. Who were they? Of how he got here, he had no memory, and yet, he knew he was not where he was from. He was... elsewhere. 'Elsewhere. Methinks... a fitting name.' The hows and the whys would come to him in time, he was confident, but for the moment, he was as clueless as an amnesiac. Sadly, it seemed in this case he was an amnesiac. Thankfully only short-term; he knew himself, who he was supposed to be.
He glanced about the room, his attention now acutely sharpening as drowsiness faded away. There were no doctors talking in their unique medicinal linguistics, nor nurses shuffling about doing their busywork. But he was admittedly more astonished by the cleanliness of the room around him. The stark white, tiled floors were featureless, and yet he beheld no marring upon them; no stains or scuffs, no scraps of paper or plastic. He'd seldom been in a room so curiously well-kept.
And yet he beheld a strange anomaly to the abnormally opaque white-wash room. A strange sound trickled into his ears. Was that... laughter?
Looking over to the closest window, he supposed he might have heard it from through there. Flexing his limbs he tested the strength of the metal links that connected to his cuffs. They were thin; thinner than he might have expected, or rather, than he was used to. With a grunting strain, he pulled his arms against the frame of his bed, hearing the aching squeal of ending metal as he finally pulled the restraints apart with a muted clang. He frowned as he rubbed his wrists, now aching from the cuffs that had dug into them, and still clung to them yet. His ankles, thankfully, had only been bound with leather wraps, which he unbuckled swiftly.
Swinging the covers off himself, he found he'd been redressed in a simple hospital gown, tied together behind his back. He frowned, finding the invasion of privacy only minutely forgivable, given the circumstances. Regardless, he'd do his best to pay it no mind as he placed his bare feet on the cold floor. It wasn't the creaking wood or rough stone he was used to, but it wasn't... unpleasant. It's smooth texture felt clean and sanitary; a word not often used to describe clinics he'd been in. He pushed himself up, testing his balance, only to find himself not unsure in the slightest, despite, or perhaps because of the now subsiding pounding in his head.
He placed one foot in front of the other as he exited his curtained little alcove. Noticing a stack of surgical needles, wrapped as they were in a thin, clear material he'd not seen before, he plucked one from it's resting place and tore the bag open, retrieving the needle within. He turned it on his handcuffs absently, even as he followed his curiosity towards the window. By time he'd gotten his first cuff off, he was face-to-windowpane. And what he saw, he was not ready for.
It was children. Young men and women both, walking and talking in a great courtyard below, their colorful outfits, and indeed the colorful grounds seemed to strike him in the face with their brazenness. The brightly lit blue sky, the golden sun, the verdant lawn, and steely stone pathways... the happy, careless expressions on the every student's face...
He felt his heart beat hard in his chest as it fought against his forgetfulness to breathe, which he now realized and resumed. He imagined his expression must have been quite the sight to see, for if any of the shock he was feeling made it onto his face, he must have been an absurd thing to behold indeed.
Surely, Elsewhere was a fitting moniker for this place, for nothing seemed to remind him of where he was from, with it's dingy macabre and dank and dark and dirty and dismal streets.
Young though he might be, he was surely older than these young men and women. More to the point, he'd never seen so many at once, and certainly never so brazenly, standing carefree in the sunlight. How he wished he knew where he was... and why he was here.
A sudden feeling of nakedness brought him back to himself, reminding him that his possessions were no longer in his possession. A quiet clicking of his tongue showed his displeasure as he looked around the room. It seemed there was a single door that led in or out, and no doubt it was guarded against his escape. And no sooner had he considered it did the door slide open with a startling hiss. In walked a physician with white overcoat, dark hair and glasses pushed up to the brim of his nose. In his hands he held a tray full of items he could not identify.
However, all the doctor saw was an empty room, devoid of life or movement, save the fluttering of curtains that framed an open window.
He landed with a audible thump, and he could have sworn he heard a crack in there somewhere. His grimaced as his ankles ached in protest. It seemed that, to his benefit, there was a long stretch of hedges that ran along the length of the clinical building, incredibly massive as he now beheld its outside. He ignored the pain in his feet and hurried along it, staying within the shadow of the foliage long enough to get away from any elevated prying eyes.
Unfamiliar though he was with the grounds he found himself on, he knew that he would stand out like a sore thumb if he went around in only his medical gown. First thing was first, and that was to obtain sufficient clothing. But seeing as he hadn't a clue where his own clothes were, he would likely have to... procure some from an unwitting individual. Fortunately for him, there was an abundance of unwitting men and women, just his size, all around him.
Deeming his current hiding place sufficient for the time being, he crawled into the underbrush and did was he did best; he waited. On the other side of the brush was a bench which sat beneath a leafy orange tree. As expected, it wasn't long before one such unsuspecting student came to sit beneath the shade of the leaves, cracking open a book and turning their attention to their studies.
Imagine their surprise.
A coy ruffling of the bushes drew their attention, luring them closer until they were within reach. A short headlock later and the boy was passed out flat on his back, hidden carefully beneath the brush. He bore the boy no ill will, nor any desire for harm, and so left him be, against his better judgement. At the very least he supposed he'd have enough time to find his things and be on his way as speedily as possible, before the boy recovered and an alarm was called.
When he finally emerged from his hiding nook, he examined the other students around him, searching for any sign that he appeared out of place. Thankfully, he noticed none. It seemed, although many of those around him wore outfits of a unique and colorful nature, there were others who wore uniforms, likely pertaining to the facility that seemed to span for as far as he could see. Was this perhaps an academy for young scholars? Perhaps it was safe to assume so. He'd play it by ear and see how far he could get. With a quick adjustment of his tie, he gave a wary glance around and started toward the largest building. If his instincts were right, anyone of particular import would be there, and if they were as startled by him as he was by them, they likely had his things impounded somewhere inside. Granted, it wasn't a surefire thing, but it was a place to start.
Ruby let out a sizable yawn as she pleasantly strolled down one of the many courtyards of Beacon Academy. The school's ground truly were massive, including even a sky dock for large airborne vessels of staggering magnitude. Truthfully, the amount of time it took going from one class to another was only as short as it was because all classes were held in relative proximity to the main building. Any other facilities were some ways away, assuring that if one woke up late for class, they'd likely miss half of it before they actually arrived. Yang, Blake and Weiss walked beside her, taking in the familiar sights and sounds as they rested their minds from the day's weary debacles. After all, they did fight a horde of Grimm serpents for the better part of an hour before assistance came. Granted, the strict and punishing Huntsman training regiment imposed by their professors meant they were in tip top physical shape, they're endurance was considerably inhuman. They had their aura to thank for that. But after that came the time to replenish one's aura, and that was where the tired came in.
"Man, I'm beat," the midget expressed with a pleasant smile, her thoughts dwelling on the work she would shirk off and the bed she would plop on.
"We all are," Blake agreed with a similarly satisfied grin; the grin of a hard day's work come to a end.
Yang combed her fingers through her long golden locks as she stretched her hands into the sky and letting them rest behind her head. "Well, we did fight a metric ton of Grimm after all. It's to be expected."
"And that lunatic, don't forget him," the white clothed, and haired added.
"Oh, how could we?" Yang questioned with obvious sarcasm as she rolled her eyes.
"At least it ended quickly," Blake said with joyous pride "His aura must have been severely depleted before Nora hit him. And none of us were hurt in the process."
"Which makes him an idiot in addition to a lunatic for fighting us while that exhausted."
Ruby gave a short sigh as her thoughts drifted to the stranger they'd subdued in the forest. The single hit from Nora's hammer had made such a resounding crack that she'd felt a shiver run up her spin at the sound of it. Nora certainly was strong; she'd briefly worried they'd killed the man. A quick pulse-check had confirmed he was indeed alive, though to what extent his injuries extended, they had no way of knowing. "I sure hope he's OK..." she mumbled audibly, neither to herself nor specifically to the others.
But they put their two cents in anyway.
"How can you worry about a guy like that?" Yang questioned her younger sister. "I mean, he attacked us out of nowhere!"
"But he was also fighting the Grimm!" Ruby was quick to counter. "I wonder if he was just so tired he couldn't tell friend from foe..."
"His aura was incredibly low," Blake conceded with a noncommittal shrug. Yang rolled her eyes again as Weiss folded her arms, shaking her head, neither wanting to argue for or against the point. Their work was done for the day. Comments and/or questions could be continued tomorrow after a loooong night's sleep.
The resounding crack! was followed by a pregnant, surreal silence as every Huntsman and Huntress waited with baited breath for the conclusion to their brawl. The man, head eclipsed by Nora's giant steel hammer, stood stock still for a moment, frozen in place. Then, slowly, as if time had been paused and resumed, he tumbled to the ground, flat on his back.
"YEAHHH! Now that's what I call a hammer-head!" the orangette celebrated in delight as she stood over the victim like a "proper" victor. The various teams let out a cumulative sigh of relief that the fight was over, if not a little surprise, and stepped closer. Professor Port was the first to the limp body, fingers to the man's neck. After an assuring nod to the children, he pulled out a pair of cuffs from... Hmm, where had he puled those cuffs from?
Ruby would probably wonder that for a while.
Clicking them over the man's wrists, the portly gentleman called out to team CRDL to signal for a bullhead to come pick them up for emergency extraction. Even if the tide of Grimm had abated for now, they were still in enemy territory, and it wouldn't do to continue on after having caused such a ruckus. With an "oomph!" the large man lifted the body over his shoulder, holding him there with a single hand, mumbling something about not being young and spry anymore, to which Pyrrha and Yang giggled under their breath at.
Ruby held a hand over her chest and breathed a sigh of relief. When the strange adversary stood himself before them, she'd half expected him to be the stereotypical surprise hero, come to save the day with a chauvinistic sense of honor and pride! But those expectations seemed to slide away the moment he ripped his weapon, strange and clunky as it appeared, from the head of the mortally wounded King Taijitu. She couldn't quite place why it had unnerved her. She'd sliced and diced numerous Grimm more times than she could count, and she may have admittedly enjoyed a lot of it. But the way he did so made it seem like, and maybe this was just her imagination talking, but... It seemed like he was... savoring? Savoring the sensation of his weapon being freed from the monster's flesh. It didn't really make sense to her how or why she felt compelled to believe that, but she did. She was probably wrong, of course, but uncle Qrow had always said to follow her gut instincts...
She stood over the man, as did they all once the area was secure. The feathered tricorn that had covered the brim of his eyes now lay discarded beside him, blood streaming slowly from his head wound. She knelt down, plucking the hat from the verdant grass, examining it as she turned it this way and that. She noticed how it was caked with a flaking red-
She blinked, shaking her head. The rest of his attire was splashed with the same color, and she didn't need to be a genius to know it wasn't fresh and it likely wasn't his. But say what you might about her, Ruby Rose wasn't someone who assumed the worst about anything or anyone. It might have been a friend's, or it might have been Grimm blood; though their bodies decayed like rising ash, Grimm blood often stained many a Huntsman's clothes. At the very least, there was no reason to assume he was a killer on that alone; even with his unwarranted aggression not minutes earlier.
She folded the article in her hands down the middle, it already having long since been creased by wear and tear, and tucked into her back pocket.
She reached behind and pulled it out, examining the hat with mild curiosity. She wondered why she hadn't handed it over when they'd confiscated the man's things... Sure, of all things his hat probably wouldn't be missed, and probably wouldn't be of any significant importance... But those were just excuses, and she didn't know why she was even making them. Still, she found herself drawn to the article of clothing with an unnatural, though not oppressive intrigue. Perhaps it was the nature of the color; the grime, burgundy stains on olive green so drab it might have been grey. Perhaps it was the design of the structure; the way its point dipped low over the man's eyes when he wore it, and the way that point swooped back into two feathery tufts. It was a question she didn't have an answer to.
Maybe that was the real question; the question of why she questioned herself.
"Wait, isn't that the crazy-man's hat?"
Yang's voice broke her from her inner musings, drawing her back to the world around her. The spoken question drew the attention of both Blake and Weiss as they looked over at the cap in the girl's hands.
"It is," Blake affirmed, leaving no room for doubt, even if Ruby wanted to cast any. "I remember him wearing it."
Weiss simply crossed her arms, shifted her hips, and arced an eyebrow in a way only she could; a very Weiss way.
To her credit, the little girl had the decency to look sheepish at being caught. "I, ah, well... I thought it looked... neat?" She shrugged her shoulders, her eyes begging for some sort of sympathy from her squad-mates. Even if she didn't get it, it wasn't likely they'd rat her out for it.
Fortunately, JNPR and CRDL had separated on their way out of Ozpin's office, off to do their own thing, which since they weren't heading back to the dorms, was likely eating or training. Hell, they might even go to a movie. Oh man, movie theater popcorn sounded really good right about now...
"That's your excuse?" Weiss asked incredulously, though why she was surprised at this point in their relationship, she didn't know.
"Well...!" Ruby opened her mouth to speak up but no excuse come out. "...I don't know... I just... I just kind of... did it."
The concerned looks from Weiss and Blake were eclipsed by the jacketed sideboob of her elder sister as she pulled her under her arm and ruffled her hair vigorously. "Awwww! My little sister's first kleptomaniac compulsion! I'm so proud of you, Ruby!"
Narrowing her eyes irritably, the pale eyed girl wriggled her way out of her sister's grip, puffing her cheeks out in "kawaii" frustration. "Yaaang! I am not a kelpto! I just grabbed it and forgot I had it! And what do you think your doing, trying to suffocate me with your..." She struggled to think of a public-appropriate idiom. "...Marshmallows?!"
Yang glanced down and patted herself approvingly. "Pretty damn big marshmallows if I say so myself." The rolling of eyes was audible, though Ruby knew that none of them bought her explanation one bit, which was fine; she didn't really have a reason she could give them. Maybe if she let them keep pestering her she'd find one?
So focused was she on her friends that she didn't pay any mind to her feet as they walked her right into something, or rather, someone bigger than her. Newton's third law was a harsh mistress. Or was it the first law? Whichever one it was, it knocked her clean to the ground, a black-clad young man falling right along with her.
She landed with a resounding oomph! When she managed to sit up enough to see what had sent her sprawling in the first place, she was met by the concerned gaze of her team and a boy. He had a fair complexion (or what Yang might call a "pretty face"), and vibrantly bright orange eyes that stood out from his pale skin and silver hair. She blinked stupidly at him for several seconds before she realized he was talking to her.
"My apologies miss Rose, I'm afraid I wasn't watching where I was going!" He was on his feet in an instant, his hand extended down toward the pancaked Huntress. "Are you alright?"
Shaking her head, Ruby gave him a reassuring smile and waved off his concern as she accepted his hand up. With an effortless heave, she was back on her feet, a motion she noticed drew the attention of her elder sister. "Pshh, don't worry about it. Its not a normal day if I don't run into someone."
The boy's face softened in relief, his stern shoulders relaxing as he looked down at her. He was a good foot taller than her, putting him at a little over six feet tall. He was dressed in the standard Beacon uniform, which accented his features nicely; black was a wonderful color in fashion. The boy looked as if he wanted to speak more, but his eyes flitted from hers to the central building beyond. "Forgive me, I'd apologize further but I'm in a rush for meeting with my instructor."
"Oh! No, yeah! Sure! I know the feeling. Don't let us hold you up!" She shooed him away, not wanting to take up any more of his time, lest his instructor (whoever they may be) decide to give him an extra assignment or two. She'd been on the receiving end of that particular hell more than once.
The boy seemed to hastily bow at the waist, even as he backpedaled, turned about, and continued his run towards the central building.
Yang raised her eyebrows provocatively. "Wow... Anyone get the number on that hunk?"
"Wish I had," Blake teased competitively as they turned back on their way.
Weiss however was decidedly less chipper. "Does anyone else think that was really weird? I mean, he knew your name."
Yang shrugged her shoulders unconcernedly. "U~uh. We are pretty famous 'round here. Is it really that surprising we'd get recognized?"
The white haired girl considered it for a moment before shaking her head negatively. "No, I guess not..."
"I mean," the blonde continued undeterred as she counted on her fingers, "we have the heiress to the biggest Dust company on the planet, a former member of the White Fang (obviously on the down-low), the brightest rising star in Beacon," she ruffled Ruby's hair again, "and me." She planted her fists on her hips heroically. "No explanation needed."
Ruby reset her hair, giggling at her sister's self-confidence. Still, it had been a little strange that someone she'd never seen before in her life might know who she was. Maybe that was just part of being a celebrity (if she did say so herself).
A strange feeling washed over her, causing her steps to slow. 'Wait,' she thought suddenly. Had she seen him before? He looked vaguely familiar... But what was it? Was it his hair? His height? His eyes? Actually, now that she thought about it, there was something about him that seemed unsettlingly familiar-
"Hey Ruby," Yang called, her faux bravado abandoned in genuine curiosity, "where's that hat you had?"
Ruby went stock-still, her hands patting her body down with lightning's speed. "W-wha-? Where'd it go?! I just had it!"
The other three looked about them, eyeing the ground for where she might have dropped-
Ruby's eyes widened. The boy! He must have grabbed it by accident when he ran into her. She turned, jumping, feebly trying to see above or around the crowd that now stood between them and the central tower. "Ohh, fffffudge! I'm gonna be in so much trouble if it goes missing." With a sudden urgency, she started running.
"Hey, Ruby! Where are you going?!"
She slowed, pointing to the structure looming over the campus' heights. "That guy must have grabbed it accidentally when we ran into each other. I have to get it back!"
Weiss sighed, palming her forehead with her fingertips. "Well, while you do that, I'm going to go take a shower."
In an instant, the little firecracker was in her face, a threatening finger pointed at the heiress' head. "Weiss Schnee, I swear on all that is holy - if you don't help me get that hat back, I'll stick chewing gum in your hair while you sleep!"
The audible squeak of terror accompanied an involuntary recoil as the prissy one cradled her snowy locks protectively. "Don't even joke about that!"
"Then. Help. Me. Find. That. Hat!" Ruby stomped, poking her finger into Weiss' shoulder with each word.
The heiress relented, following after as Ruby led the troupe in the direction the young man had gone.
He smiled, allowing his satisfaction to simmer as he tucked the familiar article of clothing into his suit jacket, though he'd much rather wear it than hide it. What luck that he'd found four of the many who'd stopped his blood addled rampage. Though that begged the question; if one of them had his cap, where were the rest of his things? Were they strewn about the campus, taken like trophies by the victors? No, these didn't seem the type to be so barbaric. But then, he had little room to talk. No, he had a feeling they would be elsewhere; the separation of his hat from the rest of his things was likely an outlier.
The halls of the building were spacious; massively so. He hadn't expected such a grand architecture, but he did his best to hide his wonder. He was playing the part of a student after all; no doubt regular students found such a place very common on this campus, if the surrounding campus were anything to go by. He walked on, head angled down slightly, arms clasped behind his back, his eyes shifting observantly as he bypassed numerous students (and who he assumed must have been faculty) along his route. But in this place where he knew nothing, he had no choice but to use every tool he had at his disposal; chief of those being his eyes and ears. His arsenal was gone but his body remained, and so long as he had his hands and mind, he could do anything.
And it seemed the talk of the town was about an upcoming festival. A "vital festival" they called it. Perhaps the times were dark indeed if a festival was considered a societal vitality. Students from all the many academies and schools around the world would be attending to compete in some sort of tournament. He grinned pleasantly; such a crowd would work to his advantage. Speaking of crowds though, it seemed his was thinning out, the many students becoming more and more sparse as he continued on towards what the directions on the walls indicated was the college's headmaster's office. He doubted if he were to surrender himself that they'd treat him with anything but hostility. After all, his actions, whether conscious or not had warranted nothing else. So long as he had his weapons, he might stand a chance should he need to fight it out of this place. Besides, the tools of his trade should not be left in the hands of outsiders.
Soon, the only footsteps he could hear were his own, thudding mutely against the rugged hall's floor, his breathing becoming louder and louder in his ears as the deafening silence downed out all else. The hall was empty now, suspiciously so…
He stopped. Someone... or something was there. Watching him.
"As it happens," a knowing voice echoed politely from behind him. "I make it a personal goal of mine to memorize the faces and names of all my students."
His head turned, eyeing the man from over his shoulder, his gaze hard and calculating. The man's expression was equally as serious, though in his voice and stance he detected some measure of flippancy. More interestingly however were the words that came from his mouth. His students? So then this must be a faculty member, or perhaps even the headmaster himself. He certainly carried himself authoritatively.
"However, your name and face, I do not know." The man stepped forward, a thin cane in his hand. He wore a black overcoat above a green shirt, with bronze buttons adorning his chest and cuffs. The shirt itself was ordinary, save that it had a thick collar that reached near up to the man's chin. On his nose was a pair of shaded glasses no bigger than the man's brown eyes. His silver hair was wild, though not unkempt.
He watched the man carefully. If perhaps there was a measure of doubt in the man's mind, he might have been able to talk his way out of it. Perhaps he could have been a transfer student or the uniform was a hand-me-down. But of course lies inspire more lies, and the more elaborate the web, the harder it is to back up your facts. And regardless, it didn't seem the man's furrowed eyebrows indicated he'd believe anything of the sort. This man already knew otherwise.
With a sigh, he reached into his suit and withdrew his reclaimed cap, flipping it out and setting it on his head, bringing the brim down to cover his eyes. "It seems there's no point in lying," he said softly. "And you knew right where to find me."
With an idle hand, the man motioned toward the ceiling. "Cameras. Once I learned of your absence in the medical wing, I had my entire security staff looking for you. Discreetly of course. No need to cause a panic."
Ah, so that was why the hall he found himself in was empty; the man must have coordinated a clandestine evacuation of the building. Just in case he were some murderous creature of harm and hate. Clever man… And wise.
The sound of tapping shoes sounded from behind him, from the direction he'd been heading prior to his determent. He returned his gaze forward, down the hall. It was a woman. Heir pale golden head of hair was braided on one side, framing her mesmerizing emerald green eyes. She wore a white blouse the ran down into a black skirt with a black cape, the inside of which was a vibrant violet. Her legs were covered by black hosiery and high rimmed, high-heeled shoes.
She stood a dozen feet from him, placing him directly between herself and the silver haired man. Anyone else might have passed her off as a non-factor, but his eyes saw more than most. Her stern complexion wasn't just for show; she was dangerous. As was, for that matter, the silver haired gentleman. And he was pinned dead center between the both of them.
"My name is Ozpin," the man said, finally revealing his name. "I'm headmaster here at Beacon Academy."
Ah, so he was headmaster after all.
"And I believe I have some things that belong to you." The man gave him a stern look, likely gauging his reaction.
"I wondered where my effects were being kept. I retrieved my cap from one of your students. Ruby... Rose I think her name was?" Now it was his turn to examine Ozpin's reaction. To the man's credit, not a muscle on his face twitched out of place.
"I trust none of my students were harmed in the course of your... retrieval." There was that dangerous tone again, hidden behind a facade of pleasant conversation.
He shrugged. "I doubt a tumble to the ground would qualify as harm, considering her capability as a combatant." He continued on before the headmaster could speak up. "Regardless of that, I mean no harm to anyone here," his eyes burned menacingly under the bill of his cap. "That is... so long as no harm is meant in return."
Ozpin raised a skeptical eyebrow, but maintained his composure. "A curious sentiment coming from one who attacked those same students without provocation."
He brought a hand up to his collar and scratched an idle itch. "Ah, I do apologize about that. I wasn't in my right mind, so to speak. Accidents do happen when one becomes delirious."
Ozpin let a small smile grace his lips. "Hm. I imagine traversing the desert would do that to a person."
Yes, let them believe such. It was a decent excuse; they were certainly more likely to believe that than the truth.
Ozpin approached with carefully measured, though also assured steps. "Perhaps we might discuss this... misunderstanding more... in my office."
The young man eyed the woman behind him carefully. She didn't appear all that dangerous. In fact, her colorful apparel made her seem decidedly harmless. But that hardened look of hers gave him second thoughts. He returned his eyes to the man before him. A small smile crept upon the corners of his mouth.
"It would seem the ball is in your court, headmaster."
The steady hum of the elevator was so dim he hardly even noticed it, though the faint sensation of vertigo remained. Certainly, this was the smoothest elevator ride he'd ever experienced. The two elders stood behind or to the side of him, the woman (who had yet to be introduced) seemed to possess a natural cross-armed stance, and her sharp eyes never left him. Ozpin on the other hand hardly spared him a second glance; the pleasant smile on his face augmented by the rich smelling coffee that he had acquired before their ascent. Either he trusted him more than he ought to, or he was just that confident in his assistant. Either way, he wasn't being dismissed lightly.
The bell dinged softly and the car came to a stop, the two doors in front of them opening to a rather… nostalgic scene.
Evidently the headmaster's office was situated within the inner workings of the academy's clock tower, the green-tinted glass floor, walls, and ceiling revealing the innumerable cogs and gears that ran within it. Center stage was a large white desk, behind which sat a chair, and a large window revealing the expansive grounds of what was apparently the city of Beacon. The two adults entered the room, flanking him as he stepped out with them. But whereas he stopped in the center of the chamber the woman moved aside and allowed Ozpin to walk up to the edge of the desk, where he leaned against it methodically.
"Now then," the man began, "now that we have some privacy…"
Ozpin gestured to him to begin, as if weren't being interrogated. Though realistically, it wasn't far from the case. If security had already been notified, then there were likely to armed guards hidden somewhere in this room, or at the very least within reacting distance. Not to mention the elevator, which was one of a pair that lined one side of the room, was the only way in or out of the atrium.
"Let's start with names." He pointed to himself. "As I already said, my name is Ozpin; senior professor and headmaster here at Beacon Academy." He gestured to the woman beside him with his coffee cup. "And fellow professor and my associate, Glynda Goodwitch."
"Charmed." Though her expression didn't match her words at all, or perhaps that was the point; Sardonicism had never been his strong suit.
He tipped his hat respectfully, though it only seemed to displease the woman more. Maybe she thought it was sarcasm on his part. Maybe it was and he didn't even realize it. Regardless, both had given their names. It was only polite that he reciprocate.
"Very well then," he began as he straightened himself as much as he could, his feet adopting a wide stance and his arms folding behind his back. "My name is Hunter. Beyond that, however, I'm afraid I have as many questions as you do."
His statement was not met with much pleasure. The young man was curious. Strangely compliant, but curious nonetheless. Ozpin took a savory sip from his beverage as he examined the boy. He'd done so from a security screen for the better part of the past few hours. Once he'd learned of his vacation from his hospital bed, he'd had every available surveillance device put to work looking for him. Imagine his surprise when they got a hit in Beacon Tower; right under his nose. Even if he was dressed as a student, Ozpin was luckily able to spot him from the rest of the crowd. He had a very unique air about him, which had caught Oz's attention. Further scrutiny had revealed his hunch confirmed.
"And I'm afraid I stole these clothes from one of your students."
Ozpin nodded, even though the humored smirk on the young man's face was perhaps a tad misplaced. "Ah, Mr. Lark will be pleased to know we've found them." But it was fairly amusing.
Hunter conceded his fault with a tilt of the head. "I did my best not to injure him, I assure you."
"Disregarding the headache he's now being treated for, I'd say you succeeded in your objective." Ozpin reached behind and set his coffee down, activating the room's holographic projector and bringing up the aforementioned map he and Glynda had been discussing earlier that day.
He noticed Hunter's reflexive jerk as the image appeared, keen eyes discerning the subtleties of his face and posture. The map zoomed in from the global scale down to the continental and then the national. From there, the plot points from where the anomalous stranger's incidents had occurred appeared, lines drawn from one point to another until they ended with a red line, projecting his arrival at Vale. At Beacon. "Now, why don't you tell us why you're here?"
Hunter looked at the three-dimensional image for a long moment before turning to Ozpin. He regarded the man carefully, looking between him and Glynda with an all-too-familiar gaze.
He was sizing them up, noting important features, postures, facts and questions that had been answered or had yet to be asked. In his head was a puzzle, and their actions were the pieces, and he was trying to figure out how they all fit together into a discernible image.
The young man's eyes narrowed, his voice deepening ever so slightly, the tone of the conversation fading a shade darker than before. "As a measure of good faith for your… suspiciously unwarranted courtesy, I deduce this trail…" he gestured to the linked plot points floating in the air, "…is my own."
Ozpin didn't let his expression waver; didn't give anything away. Glynda neither. "There were reports of an armed, dangerous aggressor on the loose near the border of Vacuo," he admitted, tapping his desk as a picture superimposed itself upon the map. It was a blurred, distorted image of a vaguely human shadow swinging at the photographer. "I myself don't know what the person looked like, or where exactly they are. We think they were on their way here to Beacon, but we can't be sure. How fortunate that we found you when we did."
For a moment Glynda gave him a questioning look, as if silently wondering what he was thinking, though she did her best to hide it from their guest.
It seemed the young man was also capable of reading between the lines, his chin pushing out as his head tilted back, even as his eyes focused solely on the headmaster suspiciously. Ozpin gave a simple smirk and reached behind his desk, pulling out a large metal case and setting it thereon. Unclasping the two latches that sealed it shut, he stepped aside and gestured for Hunter to approach.
"I believe these are yours."
The young man took cautious steps forward, his eyes presently coming to view his missing belongings. With a steady hand, he reached in and withdrew it.
It was a weapon, or at least Ozpin assumed so. It was so simple in design, and yet so formidable to behold. Colored in rustic, almost gleaming red, the "blade" (if it could be called that) was, simply put, a hunk of iron. Having held it himself only for a short few seconds, he knew there was a trigger on the long handle that allowed the blade to swing out, switching from serrated teeth to uncannily sharp edge.
Ozpin was also no stranger to observation, as if that even need be said; he wasn't a headmaster of a school for nothing. It was one of the few things he allowed himself to feel pride for; the school he ran and the students who grew up in its halls. And it was with that proud talent that he beheld the ease and comfort with which Hunter gripped the seemingly cobbled weapon. Despite his young age, it appeared he was intimately familiar with such a deadly device. Of course, that all but confirmed the nature of the young man as a hunter, as coincidental as that seemed given the boy's name. Not that Oz needed much convincing; he trusted his students unwaveringly, and their account of the young man's skill at killing Grimm (to say nothing of when his attention inexplicably turned toward them) was, at the very least, nothing short of impressive.
Which brought him to the million dollar question. "Why did you attack my students?"
Hunter, who appeared to have fallen into some form of trance as he examined his weapon, was jarred from his inner thoughts, bringing his gaze back to Ozpin, a humorous twinkle in his eyes. He let his blade-wielding arm fall to his side as he turned to regard the headmaster.
"You must not be very familiar with interrogatory techniques," he said his voice shacking between rapid exhalations; a sign of suppressed laughter. "You're supposed to question a person before you give them their weapon," he said with a nudge of his right hand that held said armament.
Ozpin didn't miss a beat, such was his intention after all. "Consider it a token of my trust. I've returned what belongs to you, so I'd say I'm owed a measure of reciprocity." What Ozpin left unsaid was that it was a token of his trust that he wouldn't start swinging the thing around the moment he got it in an attempt to escape. Not that the young man had a chance. Even if by some miracle he got by Glynda, it would take a second miracle to get past him. And in Ozpin's experience, miracles rarely happen twice.
Hunter regarded the man silently for several moment before a humorous breath escaped his mouth, a upturned corner of his mouth emphasizing his amusement at the situation. Ozpin had to admit, for a young man, his nerves were exceptionally steely, even in such a situation.
"Indeed, you have done right by me. Ministered medical aid to me, an enemy by all appearances, returned that which is rightfully mine, and in such a manner befitting a man of your position. Either your courteousness knows no limits, your naiveté extends beyond the bounds of human comprehension, or your confidence in others has so very seldom let you down. Either way, you have my respect, headmaster Ozpin."
With a brow-raising gesture, the young man swung his right arm to his left side, half-bowing at the waist. "The truth is owed to thee." With a flick, his arm came back to his right side, the large hunk of metal swinging out with a resounding, rustic clunk! If Ozpin was intimidated by the move, he didn't let it show, though Glynda was noticeably on edge. But the boy simply let the head of the weapon rest on the floor, his wrists crossing over the pommel of the grip.
"I'll speak plainly. I know not by what circumstances I came to be in the grips of madness, but in such a state I could not differentiate friend or foe. It's… an inevitably common occurrence where I'm from. Which, I might add," his tone lightened as he gestured out the window, "Your students did an excellent job subduing me, given the danger blood-addled hunters pose to those around them."
Ozpin's curiosity piqued suddenly. "Blood-addled?" he parroted, a growing concern anchoring in the pit of his stomach.
Hunter's eyes narrowed in seriousness. "Yes. Without boring you with the details, I possess a unique blood that, if I am not careful, can cause a bestial hunger for violence and death to blind me. Though I have complete control over myself, my mind identifies friend as foe, and foe as fodder." He let a sigh exit his lips, his eyes closed in remembrance. "Rest assured I've taken precautions against future episodes. Mine is not a unique case. As I said this is a common occurrence where I'm from."
Whether it was the truth or not, every answer the boy offered begged two more, a list formulating in Ozpin's mind of various points to query in due time. But the question that most tugged at his mind most conveniently followed the flow of conversation. "And where is that, exactly?"
Hunter's eyes remained closed, though he took a deep breath. Not of nervousness as Ozpin might have expected, but of strain; like the topic were difficult to address. He wondered if some great tragedy regarding his home weighed on the young man's mind.
"A place far from here… and yet so very close." The cryptic answer was followed by Hunter's eyes snapping open. "Headmaster Ozpin…"
"Ozpin is fine," the man assured.
"Ozpin..." Hunter corrected. "Do you believe in fairy tales?"
It was at that moment that Ozpin couldn't stop a smile from snaking across his face. "Hah, if you only knew."
"Ah, then this should be simple." Hunter tipped his hat respectfully. "I apologize for any ambiguity I have expressed. I promised you the truth, but I must temper it with your capacity."
"Capacity for what?"
Hunter almost jumped with a start. It was the first time since her introduction that she'd spoken. Suspicion dripped from her voice, as if the skepticism on her face wasn't evidence enough of her caginess. Hunter quickly recovered himself, settling into a relaxing forward lean on his weapon.
"Understanding, Miss Goodwitch."
She opened her mouth to speak, likely to beg the man's proverbial pardon, but Ozpin spoke first. "I think you'll find I understand a great deal."
The air turned heavy. The seriousness… the surety which Ozpin looked into Hunter's eyes bespoke volumes of his capability. It wasn't with hubris that Ozpin declared himself; it was the truth.
Hunter seemed surprised by his affirmation, or perhaps it was with the lack of any self-doubt that roused his wonder. But Hunter's expression softened for a moment before hardening. "I've long believed in taking people at their word, often despite my better judgment…" He let his unspoken skepticism hang in the air, a pointed glare being sent towards the headmaster.
But Ozpin did not waver. "Let's prove your better judgment wrong then."
This time Hunter's striking orange orbs burrowed into the silver haired man. For a moment, Ozpin swore he saw a speck of light in his eyes. Not a twinkle of light reflected from elsewhere, but an internal light, an inner glow from deep inside. He didn't know how to describe it. For a long moment Hunter did not speak. When he did, it was with an irrefutable gravity that belied his honesty.
"I'm not from this world."
He'd half expected roaring laughter or disbelief so strong they couldn't even shake their heads at him. What he saw surprised him; not an inordinately difficult task, but not explicitly easy either.
They were listening.
Their skeptic brows raised, to be sure; so would his be, were he in their position. But their disbelief was held in check as they waited. When he'd given them enough time to interrupt him, and subsequently found they were content to allow him to continue, he obliged.
"I suppose, more specifically, I'm from a different plane; a plane parallel to yours, so to speak. Though not wholly identical."
Still they did not stop him. Either they truly believe his words or were at least willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, or they were just gathering evidence with which to lock him up in an asylum. Well, if push came to shove…
But that was a concern for later. He continued. "I grew up in a faraway land, sickly and desperate. To me, and those like me, the city of Yharnam was a paradise. A place where special blood was consumed to heal wounds, cure diseases, and strengthen the body. It's no small wonder then that I made my way to that city as soon as was able."
Ozpin leaned against his desk, mirroring Hunter's pose with his cane, inclining his head as he listened.
"But Yharnam's secret blood was a poison. Certainly, it did all we'd heard and more. But that 'more' was a terrible, terrible curse."
He eyed the two elders. He suspected this, at least, they would believe.
Their eyes indeed registered familiarity. Hunter knew the world was plagued by blackened beasts that hunted humanity for no other reason than that they could. He had no doubt there were large canine-like beasts as well. Scorpions, snakes, great avian monsters of all sorts of unnatural sizes… Dogs surely weren't out of the equation. And by the expressions on their faces, he assumed correctly.
"You mean werewolves? They were turned into werewolves?" Gynda asked.
"The Healing Church hoarded the stuff, but also purified it and made it stronger… More potent. But when the people started turning, the Church claimed the blood was the only cure. Poor fools they were."
He shook his head tragically. "In the early days, hunters were conscripted from the local populous to target the beasts. But as the plague spread wider, and the beasts got bigger, the hunters grew fewer. Pretty soon, workshops cropped up all over the place, each one dedicated to creating weapons dedicated to killing beasts. The remaining hunters who were too brave or stupid to give up the Hunt flocked to these guilds. Even the Church had its own workshop for its duplicitous agents."
"Wait," Glynda held up a hand to stop him, her eyes narrowed in disbelief. "You mean to say you hunted your fellow people?"
Hunter regarded her for a moment before shrugging. "There is no cure for beast-hood. Once you start to turn, the blood only prolongs the process, even as it makes it worse. But how do you convince an entire city to stop consuming a miracle brew that heals you, makes your stronger? The Church would never cut off its own consumer base, lest they lose control of the city itself."
"But they were still human. Even if they were changed."
He turned to Glynda sympathetically. "I once met a hunter who thought the same as you. He guarded Old Yharnam, a burned and abandoned district still yet overrun by beasts, from eager hunters like me who wandered too far below the city. He was convinced they were still people, that we hunters had a duty to protect them."
Glynda frowned and re-crossed her arms, another point in need of clarity on her lips. "What exactly did you mean by 'brew.'"
Hunter opened his mouth to speak but stopped himself, seeming to mull the answer over in his head for several seconds before he found his voice. "Blood was more plentiful than alcohol. And more intoxicating."
The look on Glynda's face showed just what she thought of that. The disgust roiled off of her in waves.
Ozpin on the other hand, even if he didn't believe his story, seemed to focus on the facts, unfazed by the details of that broken city. "This blood that the church cultivated… Where did they get it?"
The scowl on Hunter's face warped into a sneer. "The truth was that the Church didn't make the blood at all. They harvested it." He eyed the two individuals carefully, gauging their reactions and responses. "And that's where my tale becomes a mite more… fantastical."
Ozpin merely nodded, chin resting on his folded hands over his cane. "Please," he said with a look of intense interest flicking through his eyes, "go on."
Ruby must have been cursed. Surely. They'd traced the boy back to Beacon Tower, after which they lost sight of him. Even when they split up to cover more ground, when they reconvened an hour later, they were no closer to finding him than they were before.
"Oh man, Ozpin's gonna kill me…" Ruby freaked as anxious clouds of steam comically vented from her ears.
"Don't worry Rubes," Yang assured with a smile as she slung an arm around her little sister's shoulders. "He'll have to go the me first. Then he'll kill you."
"Rrrr! That doesn't help Yang!" Ruby cried as into her sister's ear, her countenance going all gloomy. "I'm just a slab of meat, aren't I? A dead girl walking…"
"Well… Maybe he won't notice it's missing," Weiss offered.
"Oh please, Ozpin knows everything!" Ruby countered, her gloominess turning to frustration on a dime, as it so often did.
A familiar chime echoed from her scroll and she retrieved it from her pocket,blanching as she looked at the ID plastered on the calling screen.
"Ah man… Here it comes…" Her teammates gave apprehensive looks to each other as they saw the name. Taking a deep breath, Ruby bit the bullet. "OK. Here we go." She tapped receive.
"Heeeey professor! Wazzap? Need something?"
The disembodied voice that came from the device was undoubtedly the headmaster's. "Yes, would you mind coming to my office? I have something I wish to discuss with you."
"Well… It was nice knowing ya Ruby," Yang offered with a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
Blake saluted the red-clad girl, the classical "fallen heroes" theme playing from her own scroll. "It was a pleasure knowing you, team leader."
"Wow, he really does know everything," Weiss marveled in surprise.
"That includes your three as well," Ozpin's voice continued, sending a startling chill through the rest of team RWBY. "At your earliest convenience of course." Of course, the tone in his voice made it clear he expected that their "earliest convenience" was now. There was a collective sigh that resounded through the team as their shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Well... we should probably get this over with..." Ruby muttered, mostly to herself as she shuffled towards the headmaster's office at a sloth's pace; anything to stave off the inevitable punishment she was bound to receive. When at the end of their journey, and the elevator leading up to Ozpin's office came to a full stop, they stepped out to a shock. Ozpin sat behind his desk, a long series of notes strewn about it, most scribbled in his own handwriting. Professor Goodwitch stood slightly off to the side, searching through an unmarked file box. But what brought them to a complete halt was the third individual in the room.
The deranged assailant they'd put into the infirmary not a few hours earlier stood there, his back towards therm, his attention on the faculty before him. He leaned on the very same weapon that had so nearly taken their heads and limbs off, casually. All eyes rose and turned to the quartet of huntresses.
"Ah, Miss Rose... and company," Ozpin addressed as he rose to his feet. "Good of you to come so promptly." Ruby gulped as she beheld a strange, yet familiar twinkle in the man's eyes. "May I introduce Hunter? He's going to be a new student here at Beacon Academy starting tomorrow."
All four girls' mouths hung ajar, stuttering sounds of disbelief barely heard from their silent protests. The young man in question turned to address them, a... somehow cheeky smile gracing his face.
"Hello again, Miss Rose."
A/N: And there you have it! Chapter one done! Let me know what you think about it! This is mostly me just testing the waters and seeing how well I do with accurately capturing the characteristics of our favorite characters. And here's a little spoiler for you all; in most RWBY/Bloodborne stories, the Good Hunter is always alone. This will not be so here.
For as He said when he raised man from the dust, "It is not good for Man to be alone."
I feel the same, and so Hunter will be getting some company... Soon™. Until then, I've been the Black Lis- Wait, ha ha! Too used to YouTube. I've been Konerok Hadorak. I'll see you next time!