Forever Fall"You think that you have won? Think again huntsman!" The pale skinned witch spat as she bled profusely.
The red veins on her face slowly faded as she nears the end of her twisted existence. Her right hand clutched her side in a futile attempt to stop her life essence from being drained out. A figure clad in full white armor with golden linings merged with the armor of his sister in arms merely looked at the being with contempt.
"The mechanism has been activated. There will be no sa-" A large explosion abruptly ended her sentence.
The tower where they were on shook as its weakened foundation absorbed the shockwave of the explosion. The contents of the room they were on fell from its mounts, the large stone chandelier that hanged from the ceiling crashed onto the carpeted floor. Through the broken windows, a large mushroom cloud could be seen, its smoke melded with the surrounding landscape of red. Hazy orange sifted through the cracked glass illuminating the darkened interiors of the witch's study. The large oak shelves held various texts and literature, all were trophies of her past life.
"No! Impossible! How di-" The witch was again unable to finish her protests as she went into a fit of cough.
As she removed her free hand from her mouth, the look of terror could be seen in her eyes as she stared at her own blood. The scene gave the figure a wicked smile as he watched the witch suffer. He gave a low chuckle as his efforts had finally paid off. The witch looked at him, her eyes literally burned with rage as she raised her bloodied hand in front of the figure that stood before her.
She began to summon the last of her aura only to find herself screaming in pain as her hand flew across the room. A gleaming sword of vengeance flawlessly sliced through her flesh as crimson splattered everywhere. The figure's armor was tarnished with the wretched being's essence as she clutched where her hand was once connected.
"Curse you! Curse you huntsman! You-ghk!" The witch, for the third time was unable to finish as a heavy grip took hold of her fragile neck.
"You started this war witch! You took many and still took more! We only wished to live in peace and yet you took everything that is important from us!" The figure screamed as he tightened his hold upon the abomination.
In one fluid motion, he threw the witch across the room. Her body slammed hard upon contact with the black stones that the tower was built with. The witch began to laugh with despite her bloodied mouth and aching insides.
"Still mourning the loss of your Spartan eh? I believe that my young Cinder took much of her time when she ended her." The comment rekindled the raging fire that burned within him as he purposefully strode towards her.
"You are a failed knight! Your actions here will not bring her back or everyone that have been lost." She continued as she was forcefully lifted to eyelevel.
Her feet dangled lazily as she lost the ability to walk when her back connected with the hard material. The broken knight merely looked at her as he thought what might be the best course of action. His hands gripped her by the hair. The witch's own weight coupled with the pull of the earth caused her forehead to rupture with thin rivers of red. After what seemed to be ages, the knight smiled as he decided on what terrible act he shall inflict upon the cruel being. Her slender right arm raised up high as she clutched his gloved hand that held her.
With the witch on his left and his sword on his right, he prepared to plunge the blade deep into her as slowly as possible. Just as he was about to raise his sword, the wooden door that he had blocked earlier exploded to oblivion. A red cloak appeared in his peripheral vision and instantly he knew who it was.
"Jaune, please don't do this!" The familiar intruder begged at him as she saw what he was about to do.
He merely smiled sadly at her, not even caring to reply to his friend's pleas. He returned his attention to the cursed being that he held. Her black eyes openly showed fear as she stared right back at the twisted knight. Jaune relished the look as he gently pressed his blade upon her throat, another stream of blood erupted with the contact. He heard the distinct sound of a rifle being cocked and readied to release its projectile. Jaune sighed, he had wished that it did not have to come to this but now he had no choice.
With his eyes still locked at his quarry he shouted to his once true friend.
"Why Ruby!? Why go to such lengths to prevent me from exacting revenge? Why must you stop me from erasing this witch that had caused so much death and despair from this world?" He asked as he released the being from his hold.
Her head collided on the debris that fell on the floor during their earlier confrontation thus effectively rendering her unconscious. Jaune nodded satisfied that he won't find himself facing two fronts at once. He pointed the battered Crocea Mors towards Ruby as she pointed her weapon set in sniper rifle configuration at him. He had never thought that he would do such an act towards the woman that had always understood him.
"Because Pyrrha wouldn't like it to watch her team leader to follow the same bloodied path that Salem and her minions took. Because she wouldn't want to see the kind and clumsy Jaune disappear, eaten and corrupted by his thirst for revenge!"
Jaune laughed at her explanation to the point that he had to lower his blade. As he recomposed himself, he found worry and fear painted across her features. Her silver eyes twinkled as her grip on her Crescent Rose loosened. Jaune looked at her, it pained him what he was about to do but it had to be done.
"Jaune, our orders are to capture her alive so that we could enact justice up-"
"This is justice, Ruby!" Janue exclaimed, the brunt of his voice silenced Ruby.
"This is the raw justice that must be enacted upon her much like I did to her minions. Yes I agree with what you just said. That Pyrrha would not want me to follow this path but all is too late now." Jaune tried to reason with her.
"Your brothers at CRDL wouldn't be so happy if they learned you falling like this." She continued but Jaune maintained a stern face.
"Then if not for your mentor, brothers or yourself…"Jaune faltered as he watched a stream form on Ruby's cheeks.
"Do it for me." Her words echoed through his being.
Jaune clenched Croce Mors tighter as his mind became a storm. He could no longer stop. He had long buried his past self in a mountain of corpses. On that night the almost everyone he knew at Beacon fell, Team CRDL that had treated him like their younger brother and his mentor and fellow teammate, Pyrrha amongst many others. The memory of the kiss that he and Pyrrha shared during the fall, the last memory of the woman that had loved him secretly since the beginning echoed within the recesses of his mind. He closed his eyes as he resolved himself for one final push.
"No, Ruby. There's no turning back for me now." Jaune said as he crouched, ready to tackle Ruby.
He focused his aura on the balls of his feet and instantly found himself inches away from his friend's face. Ruby tried to react by retracting Crescent Rose to block the incoming attack. But Jaune's ferocity overwhelmed her as his right fist imbued with his aura connected onto her gut. His left hand made sure to hold the reaper in her place thus maximizing the effect. The sound of Ruby coughing and gasping reached him as she slowly slumped on his shoulders.
"I'm sorry Ruby. I wished that it never had to end like this." He whispered onto her ear as he slowly and gingerly lowered her on the floor.
A weakened grasp took hold of his arm as Ruby attempted to persuade the knight from his destructive ways.
"Jaune…please." Her weakening voice reached him.
He smiled apologetically at his fellow team member and shook his head.
"I can't." Jaune's blue eyes watched as Ruby's silver eyes closed.
Exhausted and drained from her earlier battle in addition to Jaune's one act of betrayal. He slid out of the unconscious reaper's grasp and returned his attention to the task at hand. He found Salem slowly trying to distance herself from him as she crawled towards the opened doorway. His earlier ferocity and enthusiasm at the thought of killing Salem was gone with his act of betrayal at the one true friend that he had.
He planted his foot firmly on Salem's head which earned him a muffled cry. As he hefted her up by the arms and was surprised to see stars falling from her eyes. Suddenly, he felt the old Jaune within him cry out in anguish. The same Jaune who cherished the family name and who his friends had grown to know and love. The same Jaune that was unable to save the very person that had patiently mentored, followed and loved him since day one. The words of a much trusted rose once again resounded within him. He swallowed back the old him along with all of his hesitations and uncertainty as he once again pressed Crocea Mors onto her throat.
"You have threatened my family and all of remnant. You have killed Pyrrha Nikos to whom I owe my life to and team CRDL who had treated me as if I was one of their own." He announced as if he was a magistrate in a courtroom.
"This is for everyone." He simply said as tears continued to flow through Salem's eyes.
"Please wa-" For a fourth and final time that day, she was prohibited from finishing her sentence.
Garbled cries filled Juane's ears as he slowly plunged Crocea Mors onto her throat and into her form. As he freed his now blood stained family heirloom, he watched with satisfaction as the corpse of the witch crumple onto the ground, her throat and chest was open for the whole of Remnant to see. Unwilling to let his friend see his gruesome work, he wiped Crocea Mors clean with a piece of Salem's gown and sheathed it. He then dragged the corpse onto a nearby window and kicked it out of the tower. He looked and watched as the lifeless body tumbled through the air. A satisfying splat was heard throughout the land and as if everyone who was fighting below knew what it was, the battle stopped. A moment of sick silence sprouted then was followed by the sounds of battle.
The sudden change of tide between Salem's minions and Grimm against the combined forces of the four kingdoms resounded as the strengthened battle cries of humanity overwhelmed that of the opposed forces.
"It's finally done." Jaune whispered to himself as he walked towards Ruby.
He cradled her unconscious form along with her Crescent Rose still in its sniper configuration as he began his long descent of the tower. The thought of leaving Ruby where she lay was unacceptable for the ruined knight. She at the very least deserved a safe passage to peace given her immense efforts to save humanity. A plan to disappear from the face of Remnant after he returned Ruby to her father and everyone else formed within his battered and exhausted mind.
"Taiyang and Qrow will kill me for this." He mumbled as he gazed on her pale face.
'Now, Jaune Arc may rest in the depths of hell.' He thought to himself as he formed a perfect alibi for Ruby's unconscious form.