Disclaimer: I do not own Bloodborne nor do I own RWBY.
The End of a Dream…
On the hill of spectral flowers, within the confines of the Hunter's Dream, there was a dance.
A dance of conflict, a dance for dominance… a dance 'til death. The two participants, a wizened old man and a young woman, moved with extraordinary grace, their macabre movements carving the surroundings without resistance. Arced siderite clashed against threaded steel, swift force was repaid with nimble momentum, and aged blood was exchanged for new blood. Two beings fought to the death, humanity notwithstanding, with monstrous skills that put to shame the most legendary of warriors.
And surrounding them aside from the flowers were weapons and firearms long abandoned by previous dreamers. Weapons upon weapons of all kinds plagued the battleground of flowers. These Trick Weapons serve as memorials to their wielders, who have found their worth in the waking world. Whether it was of their free will matters not anymore.
For the caretaker of this Dream killed them all himself.
He wore the ancient uniform of an Old Hunter, heavily tattered by the time, but instead of a wide-brimmed cap, he wore the feathered, tricorned hat of the standard Hunter set. Blood long dried covered their entirety, turning them into the pitch black that is most favorable during the night hunt. A dirty, frayed scarf covered his lower face, obscuring the wrinkles that have grown upon his countenance. Hanging from his neck was his mentor's badge, a fang-shaped artifact that had no purpose other than to romanticize the past, and honor the will of the Old Hunters.
Despite his age, he fought and acted with a savagery that can only be found in beings that have ascended beyond their origins. He swung an antiquated scythe, his late mentor's personal Trick Weapon, at his adversary. Hazy, pale blue eyes traced the girl's dodges and pivots, his timeworn mind already creating new tactics with incomprehensible speed. At the same time, just as she did, he shifted his body alongside hers, swinging the scythe behind and breaking it apart in a fluid motion, one hand quickly reaching behind for Evelyn and firing without preamble. The discharge from Cainhurst's adored firearm was met with the girl's own shot, a barrage from a Repeating Pistol. One bullet met Evelyn's and disintegrated it upon contact. The other traveled towards the man, who brought his blade up and split it vertically into perfect halves, the divided projectiles flying past him.
He slammed his weapon back onto its long handle, transforming it back into a scythe. His opponent triggered her threaded weapon back into a cane, stepping back in hesitation. In trepidation.
He frowned and leapt into the air. The Old Hunter's scythe is filled to the brim with arcane power, which the old man discharged with a powerful swing. Wind explosions rang across the field, the petals from the flowers surprisingly still intact. She dodged and weaved through the destruction and weapons stabbed into the ground, her faded cloak fluttering from the displaced air as she does so. Her Threaded Cane shifted back into tendrils and was swung at subsonic speed towards him midair. He shifted his scythe to the side, blocking the whip-like motion that ripped through the air from scourging him. Then, using the space between the many small blades to grip against the shaft, he pulled, using his falling weight as an anchor.
Her grip failed, and the Cane dropped into a mess on the ground, lost amongst the littered memorials of weapons. Evelyn was drawn once more and aimed at her head. They stood still in silence as the gun cocked unflinchingly.
"It is over yet again, Young Hunter," the man rasped out again, having had this conversation already. "For your sake, just accept my mercy. You can finally end this Dream and return to the Waking World."
"I don't want to," was her stubborn reply. Just like the last… how many times.
"Is that truly your decision, or is it obligation that tells you to refuse?" He growled. "What is it that makes you want to resist, to continue fighting? Do you want freedom? If you simply give up in this ordeal, you can have it." She shook her head. "If not freedom, then peace of mind? There is no peace in resisting me and seeing what I have seen. Perhaps it is truth? You have already seen it all, the truth of this nightmare."
He scoffed when she shook her once more.
"Then why do you persist? Is it love?"
A blush appeared underneath her hood, but just like before, she shook her head.
At last, he snapped, "Then why?! I do not understand!" The ornate pistol trembled in confusion in his hand. "There is no meaning or purpose in winning this battle. I know you are insightful enough to see that! Your eyes have long opened to the truth, that to gain any more power is to abandon everything you cherish! So why do you continue this charade!?"
There was not a moment of hesitation in her reply. She stared back at him with determination.
"Because I choose to."
It was such a simple answer that he had forgotten how to react. Even though he expected her to take action once more, even though he anticipated a counterattack that would make him work his body again, he did not, however, expect her to headbutt the barrel of his gun to the side and bite his hand.
Taken by complete surprise by the reckless – nay, suicidal – action, Evelyn dropped from the bitten hand. She quickly grabbed the gun and shot his leg at point-blank range. He dropped to his knees in silent pain, and she dropkicked him away from her. Away from where her Cane lied.
Quickly recovering from the assault, and adjusting to using only one leg, the old hunter grabbed the Burial Blade and transformed it into a scythe once more. Two can play at this game of unexpected tactics. In one smooth motion, the scythe was raised not to strike, but to throw. It homed in towards his target like a boomerang. Her head almost flew off, only scratching her neck as it phased past her. She moved back in a series of handsprings and backflips, away from her weapon. He closed in on her with a burst of speed, one hand clutched into a fist and the other protruded into a claw.
His fist met her head, pushing it back in a violent show of force. His claw was positioned, and then lunged towards her in a visceral attack. At the very last minute, her body twisted. No, not twisted. It was as if her entire body spiraled around his outstretched arm, like a snake would to its prey. The prodigal show of dodging allowed her to strike him, kicking his injured leg with one leg, and the other meeting his head in vengeance for what he did to her head.
But he wasn't done yet. His clawed hand shot out, before she could dodge again, and grabbed her by the collar. He slammed her to the ground and sprinted, dragging her against the ground along the way while being sure to crash her against any debris that happened to be in the way. Then he jumped, spun in the air with her in tow to gain momentum, and threw her like a child would skip a pebble on a lake towards the giant tree and smashed her against it. The Young Hunter slid down like a stringless marionette and then, was still.
The Old Hunter took his time moving to his weapon, taking his eyes off of his pupil. That was a mistake. It would be the last mistake he made. His hands reached out to the Burial Blade to grasp it… and then in a flash, he found his hand wrapped about in tendrils of edged steel. No, not just his hands. The threads were everywhere: his arms, his torso, his legs, nothing was left untouched.
The Young Hunter had retrieved her Threaded Cane beside the tree, which in his trance he had forgotten about. Now he found himself at her mercy, the splintered cane threaded around him like a trapped animal.
But even when death now had him in its grasp, he smiled.
Hesitation… then she pulled. Serrated edges carved deep into his body. Blood spilled onto the ethereal petals. Finally, his ancient body gave out and he fell onto his back. The Burial Blade dropped away from his limp hands, its duty fulfilled. The Old Hunter Badge, once hung like a necklace, flung itself away from him.
Within the span of his fall, his thoughts drifted back into the past. When he succeeded Gehrman as the proprietor of the Hunter's Dream, he knew what he was getting himself into. There will be others who will seek the same cure for the same affliction he had so many years ago... decades ago... centuries ago... the time mattered not anymore. Time continued, and as it passed, others came.
Whatever their reasons, he did not know nor did he bother to find out. The Hunt welcomed all, and it welcomed them most graciously in its own twisted way. And as the Hunt continued, obstacles arose. The beasts grew more restless. They began to learn and adapt. What was better off unknown was dug up and remembered. And by the end of it, many desired to wake up from the accursed Nightmare.
He did not blame them. The horrors witnessed in the Hunt would break the mind of any sane person who was unprepared for what was to come, leaving them more than happy to forget everything when they reached the end of their journey. Others were either sympathetic to his plea or had other plans for themselves and refused his offer of mercy, attempting to take his position instead. Each time they woke up again in the Dream to combat him once more, he showed them no mercy until they tired and ultimately submitted themselves.
And after so many years, one finally succeeded; one who had many titles. The most prominent was the first title he bestowed on her: Young Hunter.
Dressed completely in a faded white-hooded cloak that covered her entire being from head to feet, wielding the bloodied cane that she had slain him with, she stood, her once upright posture replaced with a loom that could only be found in one mourning in grief. The many badges she collected in the Dream hung meaninglessly on her cloak, the very same ones he had once collected in his mission through the Hunt himself. She had bested him in mortal combat. For the first time in so many years, he poured his entire self into this "hunt", and he was bested.
Finally, he had lost.
Still, he had to know.
"Why do you cry, Young Hunter?"
Pain did not enter his aged voice, laden with nothing but curiosity. Like him before, this Hunter did not speak much. Tears trickled down her face, obscured by the hood that she consistently wore over her head. Her lips trembled, silent sniffles came out involuntarily, and her hands on her Threaded Cane slackened as she lost the determination she possessed when they fought.
"You have done nothing wrong to me. If anything, you have freed me, taken the mercy I offered you and graced it on me instead. So why do you cry?" Her whimpers grew in volume as he spoke words of comfort to her, to no avail. He continued, "Is it not an act of kindness to let an old man like me rest in the end? Is it not good? Is it not just? Or is there another reason you have chosen to mourn after this terrible Hunt?"
She collapsed on her knees next to him. The Young Hunter finally allowed her emotions take over, her sobs filling the vast emptiness of the Hunter's Dream. Through it, he did not speak. He had no more words to give, only awaiting the answer to his question. When she finally regained some semblance of composure, she looked at him.
Clouded blue orbs studied the tear-stricken eyes.
"I couldn't save you."
He stared blankly, uncomprehending. Why would she believe that? Was that why she chose to fight?
"I did everything I could. Everything!" she cried. "All I wanted to do was help everyone. Everything I did, it was to save them. But anything I did, it only killed them in the end!"
"You have helped me. You have helped the Doll... gave her a name. You have helped many more." He consoled her. "The Hunt is cruel, Young Hunter. But in the end, death is merciful when compared to the horror the Nightmare shares to us Hunters."
"Not like this…" she shook her head vehemently, "I didn't want it to end like this. I wanted everyone to be happy. I wanted Simon to be the one to survive the Hunter's Nightmare and gain his peace. I wanted Eileen to fulfill her duties as the Hunter of Hunters and retire without remorse. I wanted to get to know Djura more. I wanted Queen Annalise to know what happiness really is. I wanted the poor Chapel Samaritan to make friends. I wanted to console Gascoigne's daughter and make sure she was safe. I wanted… I only wanted…"
Her hood fell back in her rant, reveal medium-length black hair streaked with red. Red… like roses. Once, they had filled his dreams, and they had been meaningless. Now, he understood what they meant.
"I only wanted everyone to be happy."
A utopian ideal. A beautiful wish even… if only it was not so foolish.
"Real life is not like the fairy tales and bedtime stories we were once told." He spoke the harsh truth. "Reality would never allow that. Only a handful of people will ever achieve a happy ending… just not these people. The Great Ones already had their wretched hands grasping onto them before you met them."
"I know!" She shouted with emotion. Once again, more weeping. "Then at the very least, I just wanted one person to make it out of here with a happy ending." Her hands left her weapons to reach for his chest. Despite everything that had happened, he noticed that her hands have no calluses.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
He did not know when it came to him, but it came. Realization finally hit him. His tired eyes widened. At last, he understood.
Of course. He had forgotten this... simplicity.
It had been so long since he... no, this must be the first time he had met such an individual, one who had great wrongs done to her when she had done nothing for them to be her fault. She had fallen to the lowest point many times with nothing and no one to help her get back up. Many times she had 'died' and returned to the Dream, and many times when she tried to do good, she only got hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally as the world spat at her kindness.
Yet, even after everything she had gone through, she did not grow bitter and angry, nor did she lash out at the world like so many of his other previous Hunters had in her place. She would break down and cry from time to time, but soon she wiped her tears and moved ever forward. She may not know it, but that took even more bravery, more strength than he could ever achieve, let alone display. She never allowed what had happened rule and define her, and continued being who she was, while he forced himself to warp, to change and adapt to his surroundings as his insight grew.
She was a simple soul when she first walked into this Dream Refuge, and she was still that same simple soul as she sat by crying for him, for someone who did not deserve it.
"I'll make this all right. I promise…" She bowed her head onto his body, uncaring of the blood that marked her forehead.
"…Hnheheh." It was ironic, really. He remembered now. It was for that very reason that he did not want her to be in his place, why for the first time in a very long while, he placed everything into his resistance.
She deserved more than this… but if this was what she wished, then he can do nothing more than to accept it now.
The night, and the dream, were truly long.
He struggled onto his feet. It was a challenge to even stand, what with the wounds he had accumulated. She saw this and made to support him. She had thought that he was making his way back to the wheelchair, or to reclaim his weapon and continue the bitter confrontation. Then she saw that he was moving towards the place the Old Hunter Badge landed when it disconnected in his fall.
He kneeled slowly and picked it up. The badge he claimed when he laid his teacher to rest. "My role as the caretaker of this Hunter's Dream…" He slowly spoke, feeling his body fade away into dust. He held out the Badge, "My legacy, passed onto me by my mentor, Gehrman himself… it is yours now."
She stared at the dangling, fang-like emblem in his hand with an expression he cannot decipher with his fading vision.
"Whether you wish to take up this mantle, or destroy it, is all up to you."
Hidden, cracked lips smiled softly into those silver eyes. They would be the last thing he saw in this life. His legs gave away.
"Just be prepared… for what is to come…"
And finally, he breathed his last as his vision turned white.
…He felt coldness.
He had never known what death was like. Many times, he had been snatched away from its embrace and back into the Dream, where he would continue his duties as a Hunter and slay beasts, all while continuing forth to find his way to the Waking World. It was only at the end that he decided against it and chose to take Gehrman's place instead.
So why was it getting colder by the second?
His eyes opened wide. Snow. Snow everywhere. Snow even harsher than the frigid cold that surrounded Cainhurst Castle. So bright, he had to shield his eyes. "Huh? What?" He whispered in a bewildered voice.
"Get up! Do you want to die from the cold?!" The same voice called again, and he felt himself get pulled up. The Burial Blade was pushed into his hands, "Up and at them, lad!"
What… what was going on? Where was he? How did Gehrman's Trick Weapon come into his hands? His eyes wandered to find information. So much snow covering his sight, but he could make out a port. The buildings in his immediate surroundings were of foreign nature and were caked with rime, complimented by the layers upon layers of chilling frost swirled around him like a cloak. It was then he noticed his attire: it was his original Hunter uniform, when he was once known as the Good Hunter, but pristine. Unruffled. Instead of its usual black, it was as white as the snow that was buffeting him. No signs of bloodstain or any proof that it had seen battle with the Scourge. It bothered him to be in such untainted clothes, but this bafflement was interrupted again.
"Are you daft, boy?! Move along, or we will depart without you!"
Boy? He hadn't been called a boy in so many years. What was this rascal talking about? Come to think of it, his body felt lighter. Much lighter than his frail body should be feeling at the moment.
"I don't know what is going on." His voice too. It did not have the rasping tone that had developed with his advanced age. His confusion must have been mistaken for dullness by the man.
"You have a weapon. You came to the docks that will bring you to Vale and assist us in the war effort, and then we found you sleeping nearby. Make the connection, quickly! Now come on, we have war to end!"
He grimaced, but acquiesced to the rude attitude for the moment. He boarded the ship… no, it was too big to simply be called a ship. More like a barge, he corrected. With that out of the way, he intended to find out what was happening to him, as well as what was happening in this world that required his attention.
The man had talked about a war effort. War. Memories of a forgotten war that was his budding time, and the foundation that begun his Hunter training, sprung into his mind. The only glaring difference was the anachronism. The war he had once fought in and emerged a military veteran had long passed and was a blur to him, due to the vast amount of time he spent in the Hunter's Dream. This war… he knew it was something else. "Vale" had no meaning to him, and it also did not register in his mind as the name of any places he could remember.
A horn was sounded, and the ship began to depart. He felt the panic in the air, which was stemmed well, but he predicted that if nothing was done, there will be people jumping ship.
It had been three days since the departure from the frigid lands. The trip had been uneventful if he had anything to say about it, save for the rather impressive speed the ship was traveling at. The most that had happened was an unfortunate fellow who vomited into the ocean when there was a sudden lurch in sea elevation. Otherwise, the Hunter kept to himself and responded minimally when he was spoken to. He did notice that whenever he was spoken to, it was mostly about his opinions on the war.
He had dodged the questions, responding distantly with well-hidden sophistry. He needed to know what was going on first before he could give a proper opinion, and he had the feeling that if he said something wrong, he would be in severe trouble.
…Well, not in as much trouble as now.
The Hunter was greeted with a thunderous explosion.
Along with those distant pastures were big guns. Artilleries that were meant to destroy fortresses were aimed at the carriers and ships that approach the shore. They shook the ship the Hunter was on, along with the multitude of ships that were stationed about the ocean. Cannonballs and shells flew left and right as nearby ships retaliated against the shores with their own sets of heavy metal fragments.
The conscripts panicked. Few managed to keep their fears under control. The others were not as lucky, abandoning any forms of décor and searched hysterically for a way – any way – to leave. Some had even jumped the ship already. He did not blame them… or rather, he did not care for them, because his attention was turned towards one man in particular.
Amidst the chaos, that man stood upright, unflinching.
"ATTENTION!" That same man called out in a fierce voice, quelling the panic instantly. The Hunter finally noticed the uniform that he was wearing: a military uniform of great significance. A white great coat with faded epaulettes draped over his broad shoulders along with complementary combat pants, and a peaked officer's cap was perched upon his shaved head, bearing a motif he was not familiar with; the symbol of a spear protruding through a cog-like orb, which was encircled by sectioned parts to make out another circle.
The emblem that signified his country or kingdom, he surmised.
"You are wondering why I would choose now to address you all. You are wondering why you had been called here when you are only simple laborers. You are wondering why we are not turning to our soldiers instead. You may think that this is not your war, and thus not your concern, so you wonder about this all." The high-ranking officer paced about the boat, spacious as it is. Despite the roar of the distant ordnances, his voice carried through like the guttural growl of a lion. "The short answer: We look out for each other. But I'm sure that's not what you all want to hear."
He immediately stopped and gazed at each and every person, on the ship and in the water.
"I can see the fear in your eyes." The Hunter looked around and confirmed it. He could see the inexperience in their face, the fear in their eyes, the trembling in their legs... the wet stains on their pants only added to it. Some even looked like they were about to faint. Most of them, if not all, were nothing more than pups. "I tell you because I too feel that fear you all feel. Even now, as I speak, I wish nothing more than to step off this boat and wish that this war would end."
There were voices of agreement to the official's admittance, but he quickly quelled them with his next words,
"But I choose to stand my ground. I choose to fight. Which is why I ask of you: what people are we if we cannot fight for those we cherish?"
The fear was gone now. Even those who had jumped ship paid rapt attention to the man. The Hunter was impressed at the show of words that continued,
"Look at the horizon. You are far away from home now, where that town, the infrastructure, the paved roads, and the very ship you stand on came from. The great city that our ancestors built with their hands through sweat, blood, and ice. Stone by stone. Step by step. In the frigid landscape of Solitas, there were no means of sustainability, yet they persevered. Mantle is the magnum opus that our ancestors paved with their hands so many years ago. With Mistral's aid, we had grown from a mere handful of individuals into a nation that could rival the other kingdoms in size within a single generation."
He stared at his captivated audience. His stern visage became a vitriolic snarl as he turned his attention towards the ocean.
"Now look at the land we approach! The continent of Sanus! That is where our enemy kingdoms, Vale and Vacuo, lie! That is where the good men of Mantle have given themselves to protect the kingdoms of Remnant! And if we falter now, the sacrifices they made will all be for nothing!" The fury in his eyes had become physical at this point. "Is that what you wish for? For this kingdom to crumble at the hands of Vale and Vacuo? If not, then to be scourged by the hands of the Grimm?! You would have everything that had stood against all resistances FALL?!"
The anger in his words was infectious, spreading like a virus, like an inkblot on a blank canvas. Yet, for all that anger, it gave the conscripts clarity. A furious kind of clarity. As one, they howled their answer.
"That is right! We are the descendants of heroes who tackled the unknown, and lived! And we will not let their efforts be in vain." The anger vanished and was replaced with solemnity. "Make no mistakes, men and women of Mantle. Lives will be lost. There is no glory in taking another life, in spilling blood for the greater good. But in the face of ignorance, it is our ordained duty to root it out before it devours us all. That is why-"
Once more, the anger returned.
"We will storm the coasts, and we will fight!"
They had nothing to say but were compelled to speak. Thus, they repeated what was most prominent.
"We will fight for the men who lost their lives on foreign soil!"
"FOR OUR MEN!"
"We will fight for the comrades who died by the hands of ignorance!"
"FOR OUR COMRADES!"
"We will fight so that all the fighting that has been done will not be for nothing!"
"ALL OR NOTHING!"
"We will fight... because we must."
This time, there was silence. The solemnity of the last statement silenced the anger. Reigned it in, but it was still palpable, still present. It was merely waiting to be unleashed once more. Like a bottle of wine, as time passed, the intensity grew.
The man turned his back to the soldiers and spread his arms wide to the heavens.
"Hear my words, gods! I am Jason Ironwood, Commander of Mantle! And as long as I live, Mantle – nay, Remnant shall not fall!" The man drew a pistol and fired it into the air. A flare flew. Not one person flinched at the thunder it created. As if in response, another thunder resounded from the horizon, and a speeding object flew at the ship. Its target: the Commander himself.
The commander, now named Ironwood, lowered into a stance, feet grounded against the ship's deck, and then punched. In a moment of extraordinary feat, he predicted the trajectory of the deadly projectile, and made contact with the ball of reinforced steel with nary but his fist. The nearby water imploded in a great geyser of mist, for all to witness. It reinforced their will and steeled their determination, for they realize that they are in the capable hands of a great leader.
Morale was at an all-time high. Glory was within reach, and none shall deter them from claiming it.
"THE TORCHES HAVE BEEN LIT! MISTRAL CALLED FOR AID, and MANTLE – SHALL – ANSWER!"
The following roar was deafening. Bloodlust. Pride. Wrath. Resolve. Powerful emotions of all kinds gathered under the banner of nationalism. Once, the crowd was composed of mere pups, but in a matter of minutes, they had grown into raging dogs of war. Not a bad speech at all. If anything, the general had a flair for the theatrics and knew his words.
The Hunter couldn't help but feel wholly impressed with this moment of glory. A good leader was one who inspired those under him to surpass their limits. A showcase of power was a demonstration that all of them would have to undergo, for physical strength went hand in hand with the power of the voice. But what really stood out to him was the physical endeavor the commander had displayed to him and everyone around him.
The man had punched a flying cannonball. All senses and experiences screamed at the physical impossibility he had just witnessed. The man's hand should have turned into paste, or at least be crushed into a mess of broken bone and sizzled flesh. Instead, in that split second the commander punched the mass of iron, he swore there was a shimmer of white between the ball and the fist. And yet, none of them were shocked; rather, it served to empower them.
Nevertheless, he could respect that ability – to be able to rally men and send them onto a warpath with nothing but words.
The overpowering charisma of the speech aside, there are some terms that he needs to concern himself with: Vale, Mantle, Vacuo, Mistral, Remnant... Grimm. None of them had any meaning to him, nor was he aware of their purpose.
The ship made contact with the land, and as if to rush into battle, everyone charged off with a roar, a forgotten fury resonating in their soul. Those who had jumped ship swum and emerged from the ocean like fallen warriors of the past. Amidst the bloodlust, the Hunter charged alongside them until he was sure that he can slip away from the blitz.
The forest these… Manteleans had charged into, it served as a good camouflage to flee into. He had no obligation to fight with them, or anyone, as of yet. He was not as easily roused as they were onto a warpath by mere words. Once the cries were no more than a whisper to his ears, he relaxed and began his plans for what to do during this event.
This war, he amended. This Great War.
In his time alone in the Hunter's Dream, with no one but the Doll to keep him company and all the knowledge he had come across in the time he traversed the dilapidated ruins of Byrgenwerth, he studied and pondered the nature of man, and came to many conclusions. What connected all of these conclusions together was the concept that no matter how long time has passed, life will always find a way to create frictions between one another.
For all that it was worth; mankind was a force of conflict. No amount of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom will ever change that.
…Plus, this was not his war, he must repeat to himself. Not his battle to fight. His time had already passed. His story was already told. Yet, for reasons he had yet to decipher, he had returned to the mortal coil. Now he must know why that had come to be.
The Hunter continued to make plans. The most obvious thing to do first was to find out where exactly he was. He knew that he was on this "Remnant", and that days ago, he had just left a place called Mantle. Now, he was on the continent known as Sanus. The distant flicker of a lost memory told him that it resembled what used to be, or resembled, his home before he left it. The lush forest, the thriving wildlife, and the vegetations that spread across his view; life was abundant and fresh.
It almost brought a sense of fond nostalgia before it was squashed away.
Next was… his name. He had no memory of his name. Perhaps once upon a time, he could recite his name as if he was taking a breath of air. Time had eroded that memory into nothing more than a stray whisper that would never come to him.
But still, he needed something to call himself by. The sight of snow when he first opened his eyes came into mind. The unrelenting chill that threatened to freeze his blood. The nevermelting rime that clung to the buildings and the clothes of the people about. The frost that rivaled the blizzard that surrounded Cainhurst. Frost…
Frost. That shall be his name for now. One problem solved.
There was still something he needed to confirm. Back when he appeared in this world, it was a concern he did not address.
Slowly, Frost took one of his gloves off to look at his bare skin. It was free of wrinkles. Just as slowly, he lifted the glove-free hand to feel his facial features. It felt just as young as the look of his hand. It couldn't be…
He quickly made his way to a stream and glanced down. His hair was still as white as the time he resided in the Refuge, but he was young again. Not a wrinkle can be seen upon his countenance. That explained why he felt so rejuvenated.
He let out a sigh he did not know he was holding. What an ordeal.
A day had passed since Frost left the forest, and it was nighttime once more. There was a village ahead, but instead of relief from the journey, it brought back memories of the Hunt that alerted him.
There was no life. Bodies littered the road. Some were too mangled to make out any defining features. Some had markings upon them that couldn't have been made with human hands or weapons. No, this was an attack brought forth by beasts… but there was also evidence of human activity that spurred the beasts into attacking as well. After all, fire was man's invention, and could not be imitated by beasts. And fire was prevalent among the ruins.
The fire must have caused a panic, and in that very panic, these beasts took that opportunity. Slowly, Frost walked into the village. Then he was no longer in the village.
He was in the sewers of Yharnam again. Vermin hid in the shadows, but their rotten stench permeated the air. He blinked, and he was back in the village. Its smell could never compare to the sewers, but it was enough to trigger that memory. And his next sight only made it worse.
He knelt down to the corpse of a little girl who could not be any more than seven. The image of Gascoigne's daughter superimposed itself onto the body.
He remembered accepting that little girl's music box to give to her mother.
He remembered returning her the red brooch that belonged to her deceased mother.
He remembered hearing out her older sister's panicked request to find her.
…He remembered seeing the girl's torn body beside that giant pig.
That defiled swine.
As if to confirm that statement, beasts began to leap into his view. They broke through the burning huts, dug out of the bloodied soil, and jumped from the dense foliage of the forest. Blackened animals roared, hissed, growled to gain his attention.
Soulless red eyes, burning with abyssal hatred for mankind, met aquiline orbs, cold and otherworldly. The forms of masked wolves, bears, boars, and other wildlife animals prowled about and around him as if to make him panic. To make him fear them. To make him do something idiotic.
He did none of the above.
Rage lit up in his mind. It shot its murderous impulses through his nerves, screaming at him to slay the beasts that dare pollute this world. It was a living thing, this agonizing emotion. But still, he quelled it. He reined it in and controlled it like an expert wrangler on a wild horse. He accepted the miasmic intent, enhancing it. Taming it. Rage was harnessed with purpose, and with it came strength. His hands reached for their respective weapons, the Burial Blade and Evelyn primed and ready to kill, and took a neutral stance, legs shoulder-length apart and arms wide open.
As if accepting the beasts with open arms. As if mocking them.
The first was a group of wolf-like animals, too bipedal to be a wolf and more along the lines of a werewolf. Two of them charged at him from the front and behind. A third and fourth one sprinted towards him at the flanks, and the last leaped into the air. He was effectively surrounded, waiting to get shredded on all sides.
His right arm bent back and swung with extreme prejudice at the beast in front of him. The prized weapon cleaved through its victim like a knife through butter, and using the momentum of the swing, he turned his entire body like a whirlwind and hacked at all of his targets and with expert, both on ground and midair. Their deathly wails only served to empower him.
Evelyn was aimed under his right arm after butchering a reptilian-like beast and fired into the head of a towering bear, its carcass collapsing after a moment of slow, instinctive steps. A larger, more horned variant of the bear howled gutturally and stood upon its hind legs to slam the earth, intent to disorient Frost's steps. The ground shook, but the Hunter didn't. He had leapt towards the ursine beast before its paws met the dirt, and in a fitting scene of violence, the blade was slammed forcefully into its cranium, its head splitting apart gruesomely.
Rolling sounds alerted him to three black balls bowling towards him. He wrenched his weapon out of the beast's head and flipped over one of them. In midair, he fired Evelyn point-blank. It continued rolling until it stopped and died, revealing its form as a boar with large tusks. The other two boars squealed in anger and attempted to gut him down in a reckless charge–
From the skies, a giant crow – larger than the carrion crows that populated Yharnam – rained down feathers like a gatling gun spray, attempting to mow him down with rapid pseudo-firepower. Frost maneuvered through the shower and watched the two boars get killed by the offending projectiles, now becoming wary of the attack happening again. That simply will not do. The bird must die, but he has no way of attacking it. Evelyn was capable of killing at long range, but the bird would dodge before the bullet could reach it.
Patience, it is then. He decided to use the bird's ranged attack to his advantage. Noting how it neglected its kin and targeted them as well, he continued to dodge and swerve amongst them, the crow providing overhead munitions unintentionally for him. The following howls of pain delighted him to the core. Their emasculated and pierced forms gave him a reason to continue. Their tainted blood spilt onto him drove him into near ecstasy as it rejuvenated him.
But that was only a small part of his mind. Anger and wrath towards the beasts reigned supreme above them all.
Soon, the bird learned that shooting sharp feathers at its target was a waste of resources and allies, and dived down to pierce him with its beak, soaked with the blood of its previous preys. Frost was prepared. There were fewer ground enemies to take note of, by the ordeal of feathers, so he slammed the blade into the shaft behind him and transformed it into its scythe form. He crouched into a high stance and took in a deep breath. At the near moment the crow's beak would make contact with his torso, he released his breath in a burst and bent entirely backward.
The beak brushed the tip of his nose and his goal was revealed: the underside.
The Burial Blade entered its sternum and was immediately slammed upwards into the crow's body. Momentum would kill the bird for him, as it kept its vast bulk moving. His grip was strong and steady, harder than the iron that was eviscerating the crow like a surgeon's razor through skin. The laceration opened further and further, blackened ichor spilling out like a fountain onto the ground. At last, the scythe left its prey, and the bird's organs spilled out in a gory fashion.
The crow screamed in agony and tumbled briefly on the ground before fleeing haphazardly. Seven wing beats. Seven tormented flaps and it fell from the sky in the distant trees ahead, black smoke releasing a few seconds later to announce its death.
Frost stood up and walked towards his remaining targets, a hardened killer's cold visage encroached upon his face. The beasts responded in kind and charged once more. They did not know when to quit… or rather, they did not how to run away. Dodge to the left. Turn around and use the built-up momentum to reap the monsters like wheat. Duck under the swipe of a large paw. Fire Evelyn under the chin and out the head.
Dodge. Swing. Reap. Transform. Duck. Fire. Sway. Leap. Lunge. Reload. Kick. Thrust.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
As he continued this wholesale butchery, he faintly noted many key facts… few, he amended, since they were more or less along the lines of the beasts he knew. They bled like the others, but upon death, their corpses disappear as if they were mere shadows. He knew that because the pile was simply not building up.
Soon, it occurred to him that there were no more of these beasts. Still, he kept the Burial Blade out, ready to kill any more that dared to attack him. Evelyn was cocked and ready to fire if needed.
No more came.
Slowly, with practiced ease, he sheathed Evelyn back in its scabbard and hanged the Burial Blade on his belt latch next to the firearm. The folded shaft hung onto his back once more. He looked up at the night sky and felt his breath hitch.
Another anachronism, and a very serious one. What on earth happened?
The beautiful moon was in pieces.
His bloodlust ebbed away at the sight. Lowering his head, he gazed coldly at the fading forms of these damned beasts, and then sorrowfully at the people they murdered. Too many graves to dig, too many people who could have done more. He picked up his tricorned hat from the ground, which had flown off sometime during the battle.
"…No matter the ages passed, nor how long time marches, the night brims with defiled scum…"
No rest for the wicked. Yet, another Hunt begins anew.
Already, everything has changed.
Initial conditions have been altered by minuscule additions to the world. Just one little change, and like a double pendulum rod, everything has been thrown into utter chaos.
The incoming cascade of possible and impossible actions and reactions will be beyond the scope of even the most gifted of minds on Remnant. Nothing can ever tell them of what is to come. But perhaps it is only because they mistake it for a complex equation to solve, an intricate mind game to play, an esoteric duel of fate to win, when the solution is actually quite simple.
They say a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. If so, then the traits of a single person are enough to derail countless numbers of grand, far-reaching schemes.
The will of a single man is enough to dictate the course of history.
And when hope is lost to all…
Perhaps all that is needed is a simple soul to give it back.
-DarkAkatsuk1, starting a new story