Knox: ... I'm scared again.
Knox: So... her dad?
Knox: Hmm. And the inspiration?
King: Folklore again. I wanted a reason to bring this up and build my version of the world a bit more. This seemed like a nice way to do that. Now, shall we? As always I hope you all enjoy the chapter.
Inspiration: The Morrigan
Everyone returned to the main theater. The students had smiles and looked to be enjoying life. The Ace Ops… not so much. They all looked like they were chewed up and spit out, which they felt like they had. As they all took their seats, a few of the group had swapped around. Emerald had moved closer to the group she could now call friends. Pyrrha and Velvet were still sitting on either side of Jaune, but Nora and Ren had swapped places to put the bomber closer to the boyfriend she now shared with the other two, and made clear she was going to make up for this distance later.
Knox chuckled and swung his legs over his balcony perch. He knew what happened, and he was more than happy with the results. But now he wondered to play out this time.
The screen opened to show a raven flying across a dim sky. Clouds had been forming and the sun was only just cresting over the horizon. The camera flew off toward the ground before showing the landing form of Raven Branwen. As she stood upright again, she looked toward a forest's edge.
Raven raised an eyebrow seeing herself appear again, particularly because it seemed like it was similar to her rather than a completely different version.
Raven took a step toward the forest before she was stopped.
"I wouldn't go in there if I was you." An old woman was walking along a path nearby. "There are plenty of stories about that forest."
Raven rolled her eyes, "Let me guess, people go in but they come out? Spare me the ghost stories."
"Nobody comes out because nobody's been stupid enough to go in. That place is the Dark Weald, the home of the Witch of the Wild."
Raven paused a moment, looking into the forest, "Witch of the Wild, huh?" A Maiden, perhaps? Whatever it is, it would be better to get rid of it.
Qrow sighed, shaking his head. Typical Raven.
As she entered the forest, the camera hung away to show a bright green ball of fire, seemingly watching her enter the Weald.
Knox dramatically placed the back of his hand on his forehead, leaning away from the screen, "Oh dear! There's another one."
King shook his head, "One is enough, thank you."
This got a few snickers out of Ruby, Yang, and Nora.
The fireball dissipated before the camera moved over the treeline. As it returned to the ground, it showed Raven as she walked through the woods, looking around. It was odd that she hadn't seen a Grimm yet. This was far beyond the kingdoms, supposedly one of the most dangerous regions on Remnant. And yet, there was nothing. It was quiet. Too quiet for a wild forest. She couldn't even hear any creatures around her. It was like it was devoid of all life.
Nora shivered, having spent more days than she'd prefer in similar conditions, "Well that's creepy."
But then she heard something in the distance. It was feint, and familiar. What was it? Why was it familiar? It was here she noticed a fog rolling through the trees. She was instantly on alert, hand ready to draw her blade.
Blake knew horror elements when she saw them, "Well that can't be good."
Then, a hellish chill. A ringing voice, a screech unlike anything she'd ever heard before. Human, but animal. Then came its shadow. It slowly came into view, a man with a long red coat with black feathers along his collar at the base of the coat. Dark gloved, long stained by blood, covered his hands as they held a copy of Raven's blade. His dark hair was feathered and wild. His face was hidden by the face of a mask of Grimm, resembling a Nevermore's.
Yang raised an eyebrow, "Okay… What's this? Guy Raven?"
Raven and Qrow, however, were scared. Actually scared. This was something they hoped to never see again. A horror from their past.
The Raven on screen growled, but took a step away, "What is this?"
The man started to laugh before letting out a screech. It was a mix between a human's roar and the piercing screech of a bird of prey. The fog became thicker before he disappeared.
Raven was still for a bit, making sure he was really gone. After a moment, she let out a sigh and continued to walk. There's definitely something here.
"No shit." Qrow felt that chill up his spine again. Of all things, why him?
Raven continued her trek until she found something… weird. In the middle of a clearing was a rather nice home. Two stories, well kept, and a nice garden off the side. That said, there was also the owner outside, sitting on a lawn chair, just reading a book.
Not what I was expecting when they say 'Witch of the Wild.'
She noticed Raven and placed her book aside. Her long blonde hair certainly fit 'wild' for the Witch. She stood in something akin to a separated black dress that contrasted her pale skin. The upper section covered her bust, but that was it. The lower section went from her waist to her ankles, separating in a way that could show off her leg if she stood right. And that was it, as far as anyone could tell. She was barefoot, had no sleeves, or anything on her legs. It was very 'I live in the woods.' She sighed and stood up, clearly annoyed. "And how can I help you?" With her voice finally out there, she was confirmed as Jeanne.
Yang whistled once she knew who it was, "That's an interesting look."
"I have to say," Nora spoke up, "now that we're dating him, it's weirder to see Jaune as a girl."
Raven stepped forward with a hand placed on her weapon, not ready to fight but clearly as a threat. "So, you're this witch I've heard about."
"I suppose I am. The Witch of the Wild, the Morrigan. You can call me Jeanne." She grinned in a way that said, I'm in control here. "So, what can I call you, hmm?"
Raven adjusted her hand on the hilt of her sword, now it was ready to draw if needed. "I doubt it will matter."
Jeanne laughed to herself, "True. True. Because I already know, Raven Branwen~"
This got under the bandit leader's skin. "So, you've heard of me, huh?" She tried to keep her actual name out of the light as the leader of the Branwen Tribe, but she knew people slipped.
"No not particularly. I just know. In fact, I know everything about you." Jeanne's face turned to a twisted, predatory grin, "I know more than you'd ever want me to~"
Raven felt a shiver run up her spine. What the hell is that supposed to mean?!
The Raven on screen unknowingly agreed with her counterpart, taking a step away in confusion. She was quick to right herself with a tighter grip on her blade.
Jeanne's face softened, but her grin was still present, "Are you scared?"
"I'm not scared of anything. Least of all you."
Jeanne started to laugh once she said that, "Not afraid of anything, eh? Raven, sweet little Raven, you and I both know that's not true."
Raven drew her blade, intent on severing this witch's head from her body, only for Jeanne to stop the blade with her bare hand with no effort.
This scene made many in the audience jump. Both at how sudden it was and for how Jeanne stopped Raven's attack without even really trying.
Raven, now seeing this wasn't about to work, jumped back and gained some distance. As her feet returned to the ground, Jeanne was instantly in her face, that grin still on her face. "Nice try~" Jeanne slashed her hand upward and cut Raven's cheek though her aura. This is the power of the Morrigan.
This just got many of them to shiver again. Was she just that strong, or perhaps magic played a hand. It was hard to tell.
This time when Raven backed away, Jeanne stayed in place. "Impressive. Any slower and I might have left a scar. Wouldn't want to ruin your pretty face~" Her face finally fell to a deadpan, "You obviously don't have anything else going for you."
"Oh shit!" Yang shouted. "Damn that's good!"
Raven growled, knowing her daughter was just overreacting to get under her skin.
Raven felt her eye twitch. She wouldn't let this bitch get to her.
But Jeanne just laughed again. "By the way, someone wanted to see you since you arrived." Jeanne turned back toward the garden, "Oh, Corvus~!"
That was the nail in the coffin. Raven no longer cared about anything her daughter could say to provoke her. This is where a line was shattered.
The fog from before came out from the ground in the garden and the man from before formed within. He walked forward, each step heavy yet lifeless.
Jeanne turned back to a stunned Raven, "He's really missed you."
Raven's attention was instantly on Corvus. Her blade was ready to kill, but her hands shook. This was something she hated more than anything: fear.
This actually got Yang to pause a moment. "Wait, she's afraid of him? Who is he?"
Qrow's head was hanging low, caught up in the past he hoped was long gone. "Corvus Branwen. Former leader of the Tribe. Our father."
"What? What's up with him then? What's going on?"
Raven's hand was so tight on her armrest that her knuckles were turning white from strain.
For the first time since arriving, Corvus spoke, "Too weak." His voice was sunken, very appropriate for a man that was supposed to be dead for 15 years!
To some, that explained her fear. But they still didn't know why she was so afraid.
Raven would normally fly into a rage at those words. Anyone calling her weak would be dead. But this was the one man where those words invoke trauma. When that voice uttered those words, it was before the man would beat her for failing him. This was her father Corvus's voice, her father's voice. The man she murdered in his sleep to take over the Tribe.
Yang finally felt sympathy for Raven. It didn't necessarily last due to years of abandonment and neglect of family, but it still happened.
Corvus swung his blade to the side before bringing both hands to the hilt, ready to fight. "You haven't changed. In all these years, you're still weak. You're still that coward hiding behind something." Corvus laughed, relaxing his stance a bit, "That reminds me, how is the Jinx? He still alive or did his luck finally run out." Another low chuckle made his implications clear.
Qrow hated Corvus, and being called a Jinx again did not help. It was what Corvus would call him as he beat him in what he called 'training.'
Raven bristled in anger. She charged forward only for Corvus to knock her aside with ease.
"You had to kill me in my sleep as I aged. What makes you think you could fight me in my prime?"
Raven growled and returned to her stance. "I'm strong. Stronger than you!"
"Are you though? Or is this all just more running away? Scared of being weak, lie you should. Or maybe… Maybe you're afraid," He reached up and snapped off his mask, revealing a man that resembled Qrow, only meaner and having a large scar over his face from his upper forehead to his opposite cheek, "of me."
Raven wanted to leave. Wanted to throw something at the screen and make it stop. But she couldn't. It would only prove him right. It would only prove that bastard was right! That she was weak. That she was a coward. That she hadn't changed despite being free from his thumb for fifteen years!
Raven finally hit her limit and lashed out. She swung through Corvus, only for him to dissipate into the fog. His laugh just echoed in the area. Raven looked around, trying to find where he went. Corvus's semblance was called Omen. It allowed him limited power to predict his opponent's actions. It shouldn't allow him to just disappear. He appeared again in front of her with a smirk. "Is that all you can do? You are too weak. You could never kill me. I bet you got the Jinx to do it."
Raven roared out and tried to kill him again, only for him to become fog again.
As he reappeared again, his smirk remained. "And always so proud of it too! You are weak!" He swung his blade at Raven, who was able to block the attack. However, Raven was knocked back from the force. "You're always running instead of facing anything head on!" Another blocked swing kicked Raven aside into the dirt. "You are weak. Weak! WEAK!" Each time he shouted 'weak' he would swing his blade toward Raven. She would duck away and try to escape the assault.
Yang would normally enjoy watching Raven get knocked around, seeing it as karmic justice. But she couldn't feel okay with this. This was just needlessly cruel and painful to watch.
She duked another attack and swung her blade up toward him again. Another fog body fell away. What the hell is this?! She seethed in anger, waiting for him to reappear. Sensing him reforming behind her, she swung her blade back with a downward strike. This time, blood accompanied the motion. She hit him! But then her eyes went wide.
Standing there wasn't Corvus, but Tai. Her attack had torn apart his torso and pushed him back as his blood began to flow.
Tai cringed into his chair. But he admitted it was surprising to see Raven seem to have some level of regret. Maybe.
Tai stepped back before falling to his back, his blood flowing onto the ground.
Raven shook in shock. As another body formed behind her, she swung to strike Corvus ahead of time. This time, however, she ended up tearing through Summer's shoulder and through where her heart would be. Another fog body formed and she swung in fear of Corvus, impaling Qrow through the stomach. This one actually made her step back, losing her sword in his gut. Qrow shook before he fell to his knees.
Raven's breathing was heavier. She was panicking. Corvus can't do this! He can't do this! This isn't real! This can't be real!
"Real is subjective in my world." Corvus had reappeared in front of her, seemingly about to reach out for Raven's neck to finish her off. But his hand faded away like the fog around him to reveal a feminine hand in its place. Soon, he was replaced entirely by Jeanne.
Coco blinked for a bit, "I… actually forgot she was there."
Ren nodded, "I think we all did."
Jeanne's hand traced along Raven's jawline and into place under her chin. She brought the bandit's eyes up to meet her own. "I told you I knew everything. And I hate people like you. Always prancing around like you're so strong, but you seek me out in fear. You wanted to kill me so you would never have to fear me. So afraid of the Witch who never even bothered to leave her homestead. You're all the same. If you're going to stop by again, give me a heads up." She pushed Raven away, leaving her in her stupor, and started to walk back toward her home. "Now, get off my property." She snapped her fingers and forced Raven to turn into her bird form and threw her away with a gust of wind.
Yang blinked, recoiling a bit. "Wait, she actually turns into the bird? I thought that was a thematic thing at the beginning."
Qrow sighed. "That's a long story."
"Wait! She can do that too?!"
Qrow glanced toward Ozpin, who nodded. It was best to get it out of the way now. "Yeah. She and I both can. Magic does exist in Remnant. There's not much of it, but it's there."
"First I'm hearing of this." Tai raised an eyebrow.
Jeanne watched her change and fly off. "I feel plagiarized…" She sighed and returned to her seat and sat back to enjoy the peace and quiet again. She was the Witch of the Wild. If she wanted human interaction, she'd go to them. Not the other way around. Such is the power of the Morrigan. And it was there that the viewing ended.
"That felt more about Raven than Jeanne." Nora complained.
"It's not the first time." Jaune reminded her. "There was that one with the Rinnegan where I didn't really appear until the end."
"Yeah, but you were controlling Neo and the others. So you were always there."
"I'm pretty sure it was implying that she created the illusions of Corvus."
Hearing that name again, Raven slammed her fist onto her armrest. She grit her teeth and growled, wanting nothing more than to be rid of his influence. She had to be stronger to free herself from him.
She was, of course, unaware that was exactly the thing influence he left behind. She would never be strong enough. He would always be there. As long as she stayed this way, she would never be free.