Disclaimer: I do not own Bloodborne nor do I own RWBY.
"Wha… what is this?"
A rush of voices cleared the surroundings of what was once the location of the Talavera tribe. Soldiers not of Mistral surveyed the area in shock at the utter brutality they were witnessing. The bodies had been dead for days and were in varying states of decomposition, the scent of decay assaulting their olfactories relentlessly. Flies were everywhere, marking the entire area as their territory with maggots and only fleeing when disturbed. Combined with the cadavers baking in the sun, it looked more like the aftermath of a battlefield than a destroyed bandit encampment.
"How the fuck…? What the hell is this?" One of them could not hold back their disbelief. Another could not stand the sight and rushed somewhere to vomit, despite this being a familiar scene.
"Either a really nasty Grimm got in here, or a tornado of blades came whizzing by." A grizzled, gaunt-faced soldier, the apparent leader of the group, made his conclusion. From his reaction, he had seen too much to be bothered, become too desensitized to be surprised. Among the list of atrocities he had witnessed thus far, this would rank rather low.
"Or it's that Hitokiri guy coming and going as he pleases again." Another answered the question.
"Not Hitokiri. Da man's wurk iz cleaner." A heavily accented voice brushed away the theory. The person stared pointedly at a bandit whose head was impaled through with his own arm, jagged arm bone protruding out the dead's head. "Dis… dis iz jus' brutal."
"Either way, there's no helping these poor bastards. Are they here?"
By 'they', the apparent leader meant people that had been captured by the Talavera. They had set out to free and exfiltrate captives that had recently gone missing from a number of surrounding villages. At the mention, the group split up to find their objective.
"…One o' 'ems still kickin'." The heavily accented voice called out. The one in question had lost nearly the entire right side of his body and had a punctured diaphragm that spilled out. It was a miracle that he was still alive, if only just. The gaunt leader knelt down to the pale, dying bandit.
"Where are the people you captured?" The question did not even spark a reaction in the dying man. "…Who did this?"
A reaction. The man stared straight into the soldier's eyes. For some reason, the bandit did not even look in pain. He appeared far too peaceful for a man who was bleeding out profusely with maggots around his exposed flesh.
And then nothing. The bandit had used his last breath on one word.
"…Shite." A low chuckle that bordered between horror and delight echoed. "Ah'll be damned. Ah'll be damned from hell 'n' back. Iz him… fuck."
"What's wrong, Ahab? You know something?"
"Ah hawp Gedou ain't busy wif his erran'." The named Ahab shook his head and looked at the atrocity in a different light. "We ah… we moight hae a fightin' chance af'er all. Ah ne'er wudda thought iz gun' be 'im. Ozzy knows how ta chooz 'em."
"Ozpin? So he's an ally? How can we identify him?"
"Yu'll kno' wen yeh see 'im, Percy. Ain't exahc'ly da mos' subtle, wat wif 'is all black claes."
"In that case, Gedou is not our concern at the moment," the leader stated with some hesitation. "Gedou" was not a friendly title, from what Ahab inferred. Not much of an inference when he was surrounded by the corpses left behind by said person. "…Neither are the bandits. The people enslaved, on the other hand, are." He pushed away the conversation about the grisly aftermath in favor of the original objective. "Are they here?"
An indication from one of the gathered soldiers called for them. They gathered to an area that would have been missed easily if one did not look carefully and… a startled gasp was an appropriate response to what they witnessed.
The slaves that the Talavera "acquired", all of them were in confinement. Some were in large cages, others isolated in smaller ones. Their eyes were dull, the fire beaten out of them. Their breathing were labored, as though confronted by the unknown and unable to understand what was happening. Some were not moving, simply gazing at nothing with sunken eyes.
Some were gaunt, others were far out of their mind with sporadic twitches. The ones with sunken eyes, laying about without a single reaction… they were dead. Of what, they had yet to determine. The multiple minuscule holes on their arms and the sickly yellow substances laying about in small bottles did not paint a good story.
"Gods above… someone get them some clothes and food! I believe I'm having second thoughts now. These bastards got what they deserve."
Soon enough, the consensus towards what happened was a combination between Grimm attack and Gedou's ambush. Perhaps they had bitten more than they can chew. Perhaps they had let greed blind them and rallied far too many "goods". Perhaps they had relied too much on Mistral's repression law to ensure that they would not be attacked. Regardless, they had been attacked from all sides. The cave through which they entered their refuge had evidently been swarmed by Creeps, preventing escape. The numerous traps the soldiers had disabled to reach this point would have placed a damper on the number the could have escaped.
"Ahab. Tell us more about Gedou while we get these people out." The sailor nodded as he observed the captives being released from their confines. The leader looked at his troops, feeling a sliver of hope despite the macabre scene around him.
"We can finally count our blessings. The gods still smile upon us, men. Let us pray they continue to do so."
Three days. The moon's shattered side shone down on him as he exited the library.
It took him three days to search for answers, to skim through the entirety of the library at record speed, and they had bore no good results. He came with questions, and while he had some of them answered directly and indirectly, he now had more questions than he did answers. Most were insignificant or curiosities, such as legends and stories of the past that pertained to Remnant rather than his own home. The important ones…
What exactly were the Grimm? Answered loosely.
Was this even his world? None.
Did Yharnam ever exist in this world? None.
Was he in another universe? None.
And the most disturbing one was, "Is this the work of a Great One?"
And some more. But if there were any certainties, it was this:
This is not your world.
That feminine voice spoke for him. He had not forgotten about the lantern that hung at his hip, having shrunken in size when he placed it on his belt. Ever since he touched the lantern, a mysterious voice had taken residence inside his head. A normal person would have at worst been unsettled at a voice out of their control talking to them, or at best find a way to compromise with its existence. For him, this was not the first time his mind was not his own. He would have to perform an exorcism before something drastic happened.
Frost held the lantern up to study it. Dangled it. Then without warning, he threw it high up into the air. It dropped. Fell right past his face. Just before it crashed to the ground, it was hoisted back up like a worthless trinket that caught the passing fancy of a bystander.
He could feel the relic… sulking?
That was simply mean, Diogenes.
…Alright, so perhaps the new voice was not in his head but rather, using his head as a medium to communicate with him, he remedied. He would still have to address it.
"Why do you call me that?"
It did not reply. It never did to questions directed at it. It would simply speak when it wanted to, then go quiet. Irritating, that was what it was. Somehow, it knew that "Frost" was not his name, but an eponym that was used in its place. Thus, it began calling him that name.
It did not ring any bells, but it was not a completely strange set of syllables. Instead, it hummed familiarly like a secret long forgotten. But there was no doubt in his mind that it was not his name. It was like "Frost". Simply there to refer to himself.
He had no reason to interfere with this world. Or anyone at all. So that meant… he did not know what to do now. He had already made a mark on this world by helping that town, Fort, form a pseudo-Hunter group. Now he was here to fulfill his end of a bargain with Ozpin by coming to Anima, and that had been out of necessity to get to where he was at now.
And that was when he felt it.
There was no desire to return back to the past. No… there was no desire to return home. Even if this was not his world, he felt nothing about his home.
He had long accepted that this was the world he would be living in.
Was this why he returned?
How could he live with what he knew?
'Why am I here?'
…Perhaps these were questions that did not need answers immediately. Perhaps they would come when the time came for them to come. And so, he focused on the present. He still did not know what to do. But if there were those that wanted something of him, he would respond accordingly.
The sound of galloping horseshoes made its appearance. More enemies to confront. Soon enough, a squadron of officials in uniforms resembling a soldier's had surrounded him. Judging by their clothes, they seemed to be some sort of elite guards. Either that, or a task force dedicated to hunting down enemies of the state.
So many sent out just for him. He felt slightly honored.
"Surrender," the supposed leader spoke coldly. Listlessly, he amended. "The Emperor demands it."
He knew his answer before he thought about it.
He had an idea how this Emperor knew about him but he did not think it would reach the ruler's ears already. Tsushima was far enough from the main capital of Mistral, was it not? Unless that was only what was said officially and the misrepresentation was an intentional action by the Emperor…
Once more, he prepared for combat. The distant sound of trotting, not of the horses in front of him, told him no, he would not fight this time around. He obeyed that thought.
"You are not a native. You are not Atlesian. You are an enemy of Mistral. You will surrender."
"Is that what you believe?" Frost scoffed at the logic displayed… no, he amended himself. Even logic contained an ounce of autonomy in it. This was a brainwashed ideologue. "Then tell me, what is an enemy? Is it someone that violates everything you believe in? Is it someone that you disagree with? Or is it someone that others tell you is?"
"You dare to question the tenets set by our holy Emperor."
A sword was drawn. Tens of many more followed suit. Frost saw a group behind them light something on fire and throw it. Molotovs soared through the air at him. He rolled out of the way for it to soar past him… right into the library's entrance. The gathered fine dust served as a wonderful spark to a fire that would soon lead to a dust explosion if it was left unattended. Frost scowled at the fire – at the lack of discretion for the knowledge underneath – and back at the presumed leader who gave him a facsimile of a smile.
"Heresy has been established. For the destruction of Rashomon, you will be terminated by the will of His Grace. Rejoice!"
He had hoped that any of them, even a single person, would have a sliver of consideration in them. Reality was often cruel, unforgiving, and disappointing. Puppets. That was all there were in front of him. He had wasted his own time, as well as thrown himself into the limelight.
Without warning, Acha dashed out of the thickets with a whinny, breaking the formation the knights had set themselves in to trap him. She rushed past Frost, who deftly jumped onto her saddle and made away from the group.
Wordlessly, they chased after him, intent on obeying the order of their Holy Emperor.
By the time he felt that he lost the hunting group, it was daytime. Frost had ridden Acha for the past hours nonstop, sometimes jumping off cliffs and away from paths that he had not traversed. Valean horses were strong, he observed. Or perhaps Acha was an outlier. The pale horse had yet to show signs of fatigue after galloping for such a long time. Actually, where had Acha been for the past days? Had the horse followed him all the way up to Rashomon? That was impressive.
"Thank you, Acha." He brushed a hand through her mane.
One problem ran away from, and another to contend.
He pulled the reins up, signaling Acha to slow down to a slow pace and to a stop, then dismounted her. It was daytime now, and even if Acha was not tired, she would run out of energy eventually. Thankfully, water was abundant in the area but he would still have to find food, oats and hay and whatnot, for her. As for himself, well. Hunger had never been his enemy. Not since–
"Oh shit. Is that him?"
He heard voices from a nearby shrubbery and trained Evelyn at it. It rustled quickly and stilled.
"…I think he spotted us."
"No, really? I was gonna say he's just admiring the scenery- yes! He spotted us! He's looking right at us!" Whisper-shouts echoed.
Panicked whispering continued as he stared at the bush. He debated whether or not to confront the talking bush, but it made up its mind before he did.
"We need to stall him. I have a plan."
The foliage rustled again but this time, a person popped out from the top of it. What caught his attention first was the shocking blue hair. The person in question was in plainclothes, but it was worn and torn to the point that it made him out to look like a beggar. It had to be a disguise of some kind. It looked too… natural, he would say.
By his side, a little under his right, was blonde hair on top of an androgynous face. Same kind of plainclothes, but it was much neater and less torn up than the blue-hair one's, hiding the person's entire frame with barely any skin shown.
'Strange duo', he concluded.
"So! Gedou approaches us!"
Frost did not feel inclined to attack anymore, for some reason. It must be because of how theatrical the blue-haired one was acting. His pause seemed to have been interpreted as confusion and gave the man more incentive to continue.
"I could not help but notice that you cower in fear of us. Best that you continue to do so, for we are a legion and you are but one man! If you continue your evil ways, your deliverance shall be at hand. Your death will serve as a reminder to those who dare to stand against us! This day will be your reckoning-"
Blue Hair was a jester. Or a hall monitor. There was no possible way that this was a soldier. At best, he was a scout and nothing more. Something was not right. He began sniffing. Something smelled, and it was not coming from Acha. It was coming from-
"-and if you wish to live, you had best surrender yourself to us, murderer! Or better yet, you can kill yourse-"
"Sorry for interrupting but… did you just poop?" The Hunter could not hold back his disbelief.
The speech came to an immature end.
Your reputation precedes you, Diogenes.
The lamp giggled. He had to repeat that to himself to make sure he was thinking that correctly.
"Wait, really? Did you seriously just-?" The blonde began inching away with a hand up to his… her… their nose.
"I-I thought I was just ripping ass!" The blue-haired one quickly made excuses.
"…" The Hunter did not have any honest reaction to give, so he decided to stride forward. The two tensed themselves, but there was no aggression from them. Odd.
"OK, so what's Plan B, Vasilias?"
"Xiao Long. Gedou is marching towards us, I have blue hair, and I just shit myself. Do you really think I have a Plan B?"
"…We are just comprised to fail, aren't we?"
"If you're not going to fight, then will you move aside?" Frost asked kindly. As kindly as a gravelly voice that had not spoken for days could be, anyway. "I have a group to escape from."
"N-n-not yet, Gedou, sir! W-we were tasked to m-make sure you come wi-with us!" The guy, who was now named Vasilias, who soiled himself managed to stand his ground.
A sudden thought crossed him. He reached to the satchel Ozpin gave him days prior and picked out an emblem that he showed to the two. The blonde, Xiao Long, looked at it in confusion, but Vasilias widened his eyes, apparently recognizing it.
"How do you have that?"
Frost sucked in a breath. Valean soldiers. That made what was going to happen next easier.
"By the decree set by Ozpin of Arceah, His Majesty in Vale, I have come – as per our oath exchanged – to Mistral."
It was time to fulfill his end of the bargain.
A man knelt down to the ground and scooped up the bloodstained dirt, bringing it close to the openings of his komuso that obscured his entire head. Eyes that had long been awakened from madness studied the soil then to the various graves erected only recently. Even though he was not there to bear witness to what had happened, the death wails left behind a residual echo that could only be sensed by those who had once bathed in the blood of beasts.
The deaths here did not reek of vermin nor of impurity, but it was indeed the work of a Fiend. Not a beast… a Hunter.
The man stood back up slowly and brushed the dirt off his hand with his hakama, feeling excitement well up inside his being… before it was quelled by long-practiced Rationality and Moksha, the core concepts that unshackled him from his madness. It would not do to seek out this worthy adversary, for it was this drive for honor that led him to madness in the first place. Instead, he would do what he had done since his inception into this world.
Perhaps one day, he would meet the one responsible for this massacre and test his blade against him.
But until then… just like the past, the present, and the foreseeable future.
Up to this point and from now on too.
This Old Hunter will wander.
As it always had been. As it always would be.
On that day, it had been just a normal day. The people outside kept up appearances to make Vale look as bustling as it had been before the War. The actual civilians who did not know any better followed the shepherds' mindset and were just as happy. Those who knew better… kept to themselves, for the most part. I was part of the latter. In fact, I was in charge of making sure that the morale within Vale was kept at an acceptable level.
His Majesty Arceah, or Ozpin as he wished to be called, had yet to return, and by the time that he did, he had brought back a man. An outsider. Naturally, as bodyguards of the King himself, we shadowed him into the shop he would frequent at whenever he went to inspect the Kingdom for himself.
What followed was something I could never imagine.
I had never seen nor hear such an intricate duel of the mind play in front of me. His Majesty and the man had used both the information of the past ten years regarding the Great War as smokescreen to obfuscate each other's movements and plans, and yet it felt like the both of them were always one to two steps ahead of each other.
It was that same day that changed everything.
I did not know how to describe it. To the others, it was a gentlemen's duel that would likely be recorded as a famous pastime that set a precedent to an informal agreement. But to me, it felt like I was watching a game played by immortals.
An Immortal Game, so to speak.
So I studied the man who His Majesty had brought back with him… and found myself uneasy.
My Semblance follows a hereditary accordance, which allows those of the Arc lineage to commune directly with Aura itself. Mother's is the transference of Aura, Father's is the projection of Aura, and mine is the detection of Aura. With continued practice, we master our Semblance to the point that it becomes second nature, that we do not need to consciously use it.
But when I looked at that man… I felt nothing. It was absolutely impossible. Even those who had yet to unlock their Aura still had a sliver of it within their soul to be used to activate the reservoir. But him… nothing. It was like I was watching a soulless husk walk and breath like a normal person, but that was it. So I began to use my Semblance consciously, in earnest and looked at him directly.
It felt like I was staring straight into the abyss.
and it stared back
and pushed me away
It shook me. I almost collapsed when I managed to wring control back to my body. I don't know how to describe it. He was just unnatural. Like a Grimm… no. Not like a Grimm. He was something. But he was undoubtedly human… wasn't he? I did not know what else to think of him and decided that whatever His Majesty had in mind for him, I would follow.
I should have found peace in His Majesty's decision to simply send him away. I should have… but I find myself fearing for what his presence will do for Mistral.
I pray that whatever happens, it will not be any darker than the times now.
– An entry recorded in the log of Vale's Last Dame Commander, Minet Arc
A/N: A short chapter this time around, sadly. No action, since that's reserved for what's to come.