Heey... it's been a while, huh? This might've been a wee bit less awkward if I'd not said 'next chapter in probably two weeks-ish' or the sorts. Delay doesn't begin to describe it. I'm sorry for that. And I effectively ended up lying, so I'm very sorry for that as well. We're back, however, and, well, One Soul has a release date and it's already running late, so I won't be dropping one here. I'll just try to make the next one come soon. Sooner than a year and a half is at least a promise I feel I can keep this time around. But yes, best not delay anymore then.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT - pardon the bold, but chapters 1-4 have been reworked. My first story and made over my first week of ever writing, there were kinks to work out for sure. I'll leave the important notes below.
Ch 3, the Jaune and Pyrrha prologue was moved to be ch 1, Ruby and Yang's being pushed ahead from ch 1 to 2, Weiss' from 2 to 3 and the other two being in the same order. This doesn't really matter as they're the five prologues and thus chronologically happen at the same time, but yeah.
Ch 1(Jaune and Pyrrha) changes - Massive. From 6k to 23k words, it's had a lot more tossed in, and will be the only chapter at this length. It's gotten a lot of focus on world building and its had conversations added, as well as badly done conversations reworked to be actually realistic and generally good now.
Ch 2(Ruby and Yang) changes - Has had decent bits of world building added, minor changes and kinks worked out. From 3k to 6k words. It's written much more properly now, as the idea of it being narrated mostly by Ruby was no excuse for all the oofs it had. Now it is hopefully good, however.
Ch 3(Weiss) changes - 2.5k to 3.5k, he least changed chapter. Main note is Weiss' mother being made more as in canon since we now know her. All of the references to how their parents treat them are effectively changed to just their father, their mother having more so given up instead. The big conversation at the end between Weiss, Whitley and Winter has been made much better as well, and has has some fair changes done too. Also, I actually wrote Whitley as Whitley, not as Whitney. Don't ask for how long I kept thinking that was his name.
Ch 4(Blake) change - Also rather substantial. 6k to 10k words. Mostly changes in actions, consequences and interactions. I had made Blake's motives in what she did horribly lacking, and had I written 'but she felt no regret' when she'd first killed? Yeah, I'm not sure how I hadn't realized I was writing it so... questionably. Her mother was effectively the background as well, so now she is, while still with a very minor role, actually existent. Her conversations should give proper emotion now and really make sense as a whole. Also, the spell she uses was changed from 'Mirror Entity' to 'Spectral Guise'. It's a Warcraft spell that's effectively exactly the same as Blake's semblance, yet I'd not realized and repurposed 'Mirror Entity' that is far more like Wukong's semblance. That's fixed.
Ch 5(Nora and Ren) changes - Nothing. I changed Nora's outfit a very little bit, so that 30 word description is different. That's it. I actually felt this chapter was fine, despite being tied with One Soul Ch 1 and ch 2 as my oldest, unedited chapter in any story.
So yeah, chapters 1, 2 and 4 really are fundamentally different and reading then again is kind of necessary to grasp the story proper. 5 is the literal same as noted. 3 is kind of iffy in that regard. Rereading the conversation at the end is kind of needed, but otherwise, just remember everything about Weiss' parents, and change that to instead just her father, so more canonesque in short.
This doesn't mean the story changes, it's very much the same direction and everything as before, I've simply grown quite a sum from two years back when I started writing and I can now deliver what I'd envisioned far more properly.
To anyone new, welcome!
And to everyone who's stayed till now despite it being so long, thank you, and I hope that rereading these old, now reformed chapters proves not a hassle but instead feels new with how different and more voluminous they are, and even more fun that the first time around.
And a thank you to my beta reader who came and aided in this story's revival, Areum113, a fellow writer on the site. He has stories on both the Olympians and Fullmetal, so if any of those interest you, I'd recommend checking his stories out.
And as to this chapter, well, it's been long enough already, hasn't it?
Hope you enjoy!
Ye Olde Faithful Advisor - Areum113
Chapter 6 - And so it Begins
Early morning light bathed the lush green forest through cloudless skies.
It was what most would agree to be a lovely day.
The morning sun's rays dropped their brilliance atop the lands as one could hear the playful chirping of birds.
However, east of Stormwind City, within its woods and near Stonecairn lLake, within a clearing beside its riverbed, a different sound reigned.
The clash of steel reverberated and predominated as it made its presence known to all within the vicinity.
Two figures jostled in the clearing, engaging and disengaging as they kept trading blows.
One went by the name of Jaune, the other his current traveling companion, Pyrrha.
Slightly panting, he steadied his stance before then charging at her.
The girl held her ground, spear in a two-handed grip and eyes on him. She seemed far less tired than he, and on her back was a shield left unused.
As he reached her, she took a few small steps, breaking into his guard and aiming for his weapon, knocking it out of his hands and leveling her spear at his chest.
"Good fight." She then said as she lowered her spear.
"Y-Yeah, good fight…"
"Is everything alright, Jaune?"
"Ah, no- I mean, yes." He replied awkwardly. "Like they say, it's good to work up a sweat once in a while, right?" He sat down on the ground, working out some of the kinks in his shoulders after their impromptu spar since earlier this morning.
'Work up a s-sweat?!' "Y-Yes, it is refreshing." 'No, he didn't mean anything by it, just a manner of speech for humans.'
"Hmm, Pyrrha, are you alright? It didn't look like you were too, uh, vexed a second ago, but you're looking a little red now."
"I'm fine. It's probably just the heat of the day." She quickly reassured. "So, what of our route of travel?"
"Ah, well," He shuffled through his pack, pulling out a large map. "Since we checked yesterday and you couldn't find anything resembling your home on the map, we'll just keep going east for now, towards the Redridge mountains here." He pointed to a place not far from their location, only a few days out.
"It's near the border, I see."
"Yes, it's usually more… quiet, due to being at the edge of the kingdom. It also has quite a few passes we can hike through to get to other parts of the southern regions, or go further in towards the center of the continent."
"I see, so that's why we're going there first."
"Y-Yeah, I guess. The northern mountain range is too steep, and cold. West is nothing but sea, and we can't take a boat from Stormwind. And as for the south, the kingdom's territories spam a lot further down there. We've also got this smaller region right beside us, Westfall. But it's fully under the kingdom's control too, so it's unlikely we're finding your home anywhere near there."
"Indeed. Perhaps moving north when we reach Redridge would be best then." Pyrrha eyed Jaune concernedly. "I… apologize." She then stated, and reiterated after seeing his confused expression. "To be forcing you to rush out of your own homeland like this, because of myself. I'm sorry."
"N-No, it's not your fault!" He sighed. "If not for me you'd not have been here to begin with."
"True. Still, you chose to follow and aid me, something few if any others would have done in your steed."
"I did, and I'd make the same choice again if I could go back. Even if this is a mistake, I'm glad to have made it, Pyrrha, and glad that you're with me." With his words he radiated a bright smile at her.
'All for me, and he'd do it again?' "...So brazen…" 'Bold… Are all humans this bold or was it just this one? Even with what I've heard tell of them, how can he say such bold things with a straight face?!'
"Hey, Pyrrha?" She was jolted back to reality as she finally heard his words, then she literally jolted back. 'His face is so close. So close!'
"Ah." Her hasty retreat had surprised him as well. "Ah! No, I didn't mean it that way! I mean, I really would gladly follow you all over,"
She felt her cheeks heating. 'Did he have to word it like that?!'
"But I'm sorry I summoned you, pulled you away from your home like that. I promise, we'll find it!"
"Yes," She let out a breath as she finally felt her stirring heart calm. Give her a battlefield over this anyday. "I trust you will, Jaune. Though if I must be honest, this isn't bad. The welcome was a… different kind of grand than I'd expected, and not expected to begin with, but a trip away from home… it's not unwelcome."
"Ah. Did you…" He looked to the distance, but he felt it tug too much. "Was there anything wrong, back at your home?" Damn his curiosity! "E-Er, if it's not too intrusive of me to ask, of course."
"It's fine. I'd have not brought it up had I not desired to speak of it. I don't dislike my home, don't get me wrong. I… do have things I don't quite miss as much about it, however." She closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath, seemingly taking in the world around her - the current world around her. "Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'd never wish to return. But this trip… perhaps it'll be a good change of pace for once. So please don't digress over it so."
"I-I see," He felt taken aback at her words. "And sorry, I shouldn't be acting so somber."
"It's fine, Jaune."
He got up, then walked up before her, to which she could only return a quizzical look.
Then, suddenly, flamboyantly, he bowed, over exaggeration as evident as the daytime around them. "Apologies, milady for bringing such a somber mood. Though worry not as I will ensure the rest of our trip will be a far more exciting one," By this point he couldn't help but break out into his usual goofy grin. "Like our own special adventure."
"A-Ah, I see." She glanced to the side, not quite meeting his gaze as she brought up a hand and coughed meaningfully into it, her eyes scrying anywhere but at his goofy yet hard to look away from smile.
"Pyrrha? Come on, it wasn't that bad, right?"
"It was surprising, I'll give you that. In any case, Jaune, let's keep our focus on what's ahead of us for now. Our…" She trailed off to a mumble. "...own special adventure…"
"Sorry, can you repeat that, Pyrrha? Ah, you seem pretty red, the heat might be getting to you. If you want we can lie down and-"
"Ehem, I mean, no, no, it's fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm grand. Just grand! You know, I'll even go on and scout out ahead! I'll meet up with you in the next clearing."
Ah, Pyrrh- and she's gone." He could only gaze at her quickly retreating form as it swiftly disappeared in the treeline. "...Was it something I said?"
"Ah, and careful with the wolves, they're sometimes in packs!" whether or not she could hear him he wasn't sure. But then again her lack of magic aside, considering her physical abilities, he presumed the wolves would feel more threatened by her instead. He really was no match in their spar earlier, even though she'd handicapped herself.
Thinking of it, his lack of martial talent, Skizzix's own lack of magic, Pyrrha being a magickless succubus he'd sort of not but still kind of summoned. Maybe his sisters were right, demons did match the warlocks. Or was it the other way around?
Shrugging, he began quickly gathering up their provisions, and soon found himself rushing after her trail before he ended up completely losing her. At least if nothing else, it seemed like their travels wouldn't get boring anytime soon.
Southwards, further through the Elwynn forest and across a river began the territory of Duskwood. And if we were to look further within its territories, and were to then look far to the east, we'd find two figures running through its misty woods.
"I told you this was a bad idea!"
"If we had taken the road we'd have run into the Militia instead!"
Behind said two bickering figures several more shadows were taking chase.
Large spiders, matching in size to huskies and other such larger breeds of dogs, skittered after them, managing such speeds that it allowed them to keep pace with their prey.
Duskwood had more reasons to be a land of the hardy other than its very rare instances of ever receiving proper sunlight. It had more reason for its militia being larger than that of any other region considering the mere two settlements it had within it.
What those in Duskwood feared was not robbers or the like in the night, nay, but instead, they feared the mist.
It did more than just nearly perpetually dim the light of day. It had a certain effect. While none on humanoids such as the humans, gnomes and dwarves that could be found within Duskwood's territories, creatures of lesser intellect often found themselves subject to change.
They tended to grow more viscous, hungering and ravenous. Older wolves would even become more hulking, burly and with bristled fur, hides far thicker and harder than that of any normal fur.
And the giant spiders that could already be found roaming Elwynn grew to even greater sizes in Duskwood's territories, and despite lacking in poison like the rest of their kind, their diseased bites were just as dangerous as any strong toxins.
Those were just some of the mutated beasts that could be found in the territories of Duskwood, all of them constant threats to even those prepared, and the locals were the ones who knew that best, among which were the aforementioned two fleeing figures.
"Should we try to get on a tree, narrow their path of attack so we can take them?" Asked Ruby.
"Too risky, they're too close, no time to climb." Replied Yang. "Wasn't there a lake near here?"
"Nope." Ruby retorted. "You're thinking of the one further West. Like, way further west. Also, it's a pond. Like a really, really small po-"
"Alright, alright, got it." She rolled her eyes.
"Road's off limits too."
"Definitely." Yang couldn't agree more. After all, if they were to run into any of the militia guards, they'd either fight off the spiders with their help and then be forced to go back or forced to abandon them as they and the spiders distract each other, and risk getting their literal neighbours hurt, which definitely wasn't happening.
"Wait, I have an idea!" Ruby exclaimed, as she began shuffling through the pack at her waist.
"Wait," Yang's eyes widened at seeing the object Ruby took out. "Is that- didn't Mom and Dad warn you that they better not see you making any more of those?"
"Haha, well…They technically didn't see me make it, and won't see me use it, right? And it's not like we didn't already break enough rules for them to sick the militia on us like Zwei on a bone anyway~"
"I…" Yang's gaze felt intense and Ruby felt like she'd be awkwardly shuffling her feet if not for the whole running for their lives thing right now. "Am… huh. I didn't think you had it in you, Sis. I'm impressed. I guess this one's on me, but next time you have to tell me before you pull that again."
"Fine…" Ruby pouted, all while lighting the bomb she'd been holding for a minute now.
"Though aren't we a bit too close right now?"
"Yeah, but it's fine. As close, as far. As uncle Finbus puts it."
"Wait, what- and what does that even mean?"
"Duck and cover!" Ruby leapt forward.
"Ruby-" Yang did not.
"Yaaang, we left right after Mom and Dad, a bit after six in the morning, and we've been moving for over six hours straight now! Can we at least have a lunch break? They left to patrol towards Raven HIll, which is exactly opposite of our direction, and won't be home until noon. We should be fine for a lunch break, at least?"
At the lack of a reply, Ruby turned to look at her sister, ready to continue until she complained her into submission. Then whatever words she had died at the tip of her tongue. "Or we can keep going. I think we should reach the river in only two more hours."
Yang simply sighed at her words, taking out another spider bit out of her hair as they walked. Some soot fell from said hair as well, and she visibly shivered as she felt the spider ichor make her hair cling to her hand.
"So… no bombs?"
"... Alright." She looked around, every few moments her eyes going back to Yang before wandering away again. "Well, I did yell duck and co-"
"Sorry… Though I am get- nevermind."
Yang sighed again though stopped. "Someone should've slept last night then."
"I- Sorry. I kind of let the excitement get to me."
"It's fine," She sat down, in turn soot rising up. "Can't blame you there. I'd be lying if I said I managed to stay asleep the whole night myself."
"Yang, we don't have to-"
"It's fine." She grinned. "Does sitting down just for food and then moving again sound good to you?"
"Yeah." She smiled back. "We should still make it to the river in two hours… I think."
Yang then gave a wry smile. "By the way, could your superior lack of sleep have anything to do with not being able to let go of your diary for most of the night?"
"It's not a diary, it's a journal! All great adventurers have them! Recording their deeds and adventures, their stories as a whole." She replied, expression turning to yearning more and more.
"Right…" Was all Yang could say as she gave her an amused huff.
As if to underline her points from moments ago, Ruby had already taken out her journal and was writing her vast legend as she ate.
"You sure we shouldn't have gone south though, Yang? It seems like it might've been faster. Pretty sure we'd have met a lot less Zwei-sized spiders too." Ruby quickly turned back to her journal at Yang's annoyed look. Then she sprung up again. "Ah, you remembered to feed him, right?"
"First, of course. Also, Rubes, you should've seen the ones in that abandoned mine from the time Dad took me along on his patrol."
"The time Mom totally freaked over it, how he took you off course, and sent him to the attic for the night?"
"Yeah, the time he found your hidden cache of explosives."
It was Ruby's turn to put on an annoyed, pouty expression. "All those took so long to make too…"
Yang simply shook her head in amusement. "Anyway, there there were spiders as big as you."
Yang grinned at her sister instantly taking her words for granted. "Well, alright, only one of them. The others were bigger than these six we just had though." Ahh, good times those were. And now she was running away from hordes of overgrown spiders again, except instead with her little sister. Good times.
"Anyway, I told you, that path won't work. There's only a small pass south, and there's a base there at the border. Uncle Qrow should currently be there so that's a no, no. Besides, we haven't really decided where to go anyway, and this puts our direction more towards the middle of the continent."
"Fair point. You know, considering how long we prepared for this, you'd expect us to have at least some idea of what we're gonna do."
"Rubes, we spent about a week planning this. Besides, most of Dad's adventures and travels went by improvisation."
"Yang, even Dad kept telling us that it wasn't as good an idea when he looked back on it."
"Oh hush now, it'll be fine. Besides since when were you the responsible one?"
"I don't really think either of us counts as that, Yang, but if you had to pick, it'd probably be me." She stuck out her tongue. "After all, I'm an assistant to three different craftsmen. I've even sold some of my own things, so I practically have a business of my own. So I'm the more responsible one, duh."
"I guess you're right. I wish I was special enough to get a title too."
"Hey, I'm a normal girl, not special in any way! And we agreed, that title does not exist!"
"Aww, and here I thought we'd use it as your diary's literal title too."
"Alright, alright, sorry. And I'm glad you're not letting your business of enabling pyromania get to your head."
"Still mad about the hair?"
"Well, I haven't even sold any explosives, only weapons."
"Cause Mom and Dad confiscated them all?"
"Cause Mom and Dad confiscated them all…"
"Well, good thing now's your best chance to get your black market going, right?" Her grin was shiteating
"Yaang!" And she barely evaded the tackle from Ruby, and having just finished her food and repacking what they'd taken out, dashed away.
"Get back here, you!" Having mostly done so as well, Ruby turned and grabbed her journal, rushing in toe after her sister.
She'd catch up, head start or not she was faster than her. Also, all that whatnot in her hair would slow her down, and Ruby now felt like reminding her of it a few more times before they reached the river.
Weiss clicked her tongue as she inspected her boots.
They were no longer their old, pristine white color; rather, they were now matching of a camouflage uniform.
She had arrived by boat yesterday night to Menethil Harbor, situated in the Wetlands.
She had spent the night in the only inn there was and had set off early this morning.
She had also had the chance to find out that matching of their name; the Wetlands were but a vast expanse of swamplands.
She had mostly followed the roads, though in a few rare cases had to traverse it off them. Still, it was thanks to keeping mostly to said roads that her white dress was currently not matching with her boots.
She had lived on Kul'Tiras, it being an island. She was used to frigid seaside weather and cold climates. Her upbringing, if nothing else, had prepared her to be exactly that, prepared for most situations.
However, she had never had the pleasure, or rather, displeasure of dealing with nothing but marshes and boglands. Why did these people want to live in this overgrown morass? Were they in their right minds?
She sighed. It had barely been a day, and she was already complaining at the lack of her… slightly more generous former lifestyle.
If for no other reason than to try and make up for the suffocating restraints that were raised all around her, Weiss' old lifestyle did indeed offer quite a few luxuries in exchange.
Her thoughts may have been getting slightly… pampered… or even spoiled.
She sighed again, waving it all off.
There was road to cover and work to be done. Planning too.
For now, she intended to go to the dwarven city of Ironforge, if for no other reason than her lack of a plan on such short notice.
It was a calculated decision though.
Ironforge was on more than amicable terms with the rest of the human nations, but it was not part of their coalition.
Add that to how it lied buried deep in the far southern mountains and how it was far off from anyone her parents might've tried to send after her if they got any such idea, as well as notion as to where she was to begin with.
It was a frigid cold land, though it was not something she wasn't mostly used to. There was also the added bonus of it having a mage quarter with portals leading to places such as Stormwind if she found the need.
The fees for that tended to be quite high, but they were nothing she couldn't rather easily afford at current. Still, she shouldn't be too lenient with her now very limited funds. She'd have to think it over again next opportunity she had to sit down.
Speaking of, she almost did so as she felt the ground shift beneath her just as she'd carefully attempted to tip toe over a sizable puddle in the middle of the mire that was this road she was taking.
It had semblances of once having a small, likely only few meter long bridge, but no more than semblances indeed remained.
There had been some kind of mound of sorts, however, and she'd moved to use it as footing, before the heel of her boot had dug into the far softer than it looked ground, forcing her to retreat back as she barely held her footing as she dislodged her boot.
Correction, she noted, as she realized the humid land left the ground perpetually slick, as well as that there was a lovely cloudless sky out this morning.
Mumbling annoyances under her nose she got up, not needing to see as she rather felt how bad a state her dress was in. And her hair!
She didn't have quite too much time to lament, however, as she noticed someone else rose aside from here. Or rather something.
Now stood before her was a creature of roots and brambles. It towered at twice her height and more than thrice her girth, its hostility quickly becoming known as it made its march towards her.
A bog beast, she recalled. Though past memory of something with such visage, little else came to her mind.
She retreated back a few steps, unsheathing her rapier and taking her practiced stance.
The beast stood still at that, and for a moment, Weiss was confused, until she saw the slight green glow around one of its hands, not a moment after feeling the ground beneath her feet shift again.
Leaping back, she felt her foot get caught by one of the roots that had erupted beneath her, though luckily, a quick stab from her enchanted blade severed it and allowed her to gain some more distance before it could completely destroy her balance.
Not wasting any time, she then dashed in, taking quick and precise stabs at its elbow and knee, and then at what she presumed to be the heel of its trunk-like leg as she got behind it. Seconds later she jumped back, rolling through the morass, but not quite as caring of the dirt and mud after barely dodging its wildly flailing, also trunk-like arms.
The living vegetation before her let out an unbeastly roar, not unlike a wooden house creaking under the might of a massive earthquake. She could swear she indeed felt tremors as it charged at her anew, slow and lumbering, but no less fierce with its massive visage.
She started retreating backwards, and for a moment, she contemplated running, especially at the sight of it seemingly not caring of what blows she had inflicted upon it.
She did not.
A Schnee did not fear, would not run away. Her sister would not run away.
She halted her steps and readied her stance anew. If the vitals she'd struck were to no avail, then she'd strike at others until she found its weak point.
She moved at it again. It was large and powerful, but slow. She was small and weaker, but far quicker and more nimble.
It didn't take long as she, for a few moments, danced around it, dodging its mad flailing, until she found her chance, a quick jab at one of its eyes.
The strike had not fully penetrated before she let go of her rapier with a pained yelp, jumping back as the beast let out another roar, her blade tossed to the side. Where the beast's eye was, was now not but a flame, frost gathering around it due to her sword's twin enchantments.
Weiss looked at her hand, it dripping blood. Not the green, sap-like ichor of the beast, but her own.
She then saw the flailing beast, still disoriented, and noticed the yellow aura that seemed to glow around it.
She remembered the stories her sister would tell her and Whitley, those of her fights. She had talked about the savage bog beasts that populated the marshlands of the Wetlands as well. She had spoken of magical thorns that it used, but Weiss hadn't thought of that, nor expected anything of the sort.
There hadn't even been any tangible thorns, just the feeling of her hand shredded the moment her rapier had touched the beast. Was it similar to an enchantment, an aura cast on oneself?
She looked at her hand again, while small, many holes dotted it, the palm, fingers and back of it. What if this had reached her entire body? She shivered at the thought.
She took a calming breath. She quickly made her way and recovered her rapier, the bog beast seemingly still distracted. However, it's damp skin had already shooed away the flames, the ice also having been cracked off, though one of its eyes was now nowhere to be found.
It started lumbering its way towards her again, letting out a deep growl with every step.
Weiss wasn't ambidextrous, but she didn't have the luxury to choose, so instead she simply did her best to mirror her usual stance.
She then leapt back, gazing as its skin had once again gained that brownish yellow glow. There were no visible changes past that to be seen, but she had already felt the results. She couldn't take it down, not like this.
She sheathed back her rapier and raised her hand, it wasn't her dominant one, but it mattered little as to which she used in this case, and thus she began to chant. A blue glow emanated from her hand, along with a slightly frigid feeling, and then she released it.
Ice erupted from her palm, along with another yelp. It startled the beast, though it didn't do much more than her blade had, despite how far superior a spell in itself could be - in this case the frost bolt she had sent its way should have been.
She gazed down at her hand, it shivering as bits of frost still stood stuck to it. Still, it was a lighter backlash than in most cases when a spell would fizzle and fail, the frost bolt having even been shot out, even if severely weakened.
It was an average outcome, an expected one. She had always been lacking in magic, despite her work, her dedication, her talent was never there. The Scnhee family prided themselves on their magic, their augmentation of arcane elements such as crystal and dust, one of the few things she'd managed and that gave her solace.
She fell back, back to the road, though the beast stayed in pursuit. She definitely had no right to leave it now that she'd lured it here, she'd not allow herself to be the reason for some hapless traveler's end.
Now, with solid stone beneath her, she searched her pocket, taking out a piece of chalk.
It may have not been arcane dust, or raw magical essences, which were far better conduits to facilitate what she needed, but it was a quick reserve method that was far easier to set up than channeling your magic into an arcane conduit, and far less expensive.
She was always lacking in magic, thus, she needed help. It was why she was able to manage her enchanting. If she didn't have the ability to properly cast her spells, then she'd channel them through runes, glyphs and seals, her spell formations, exactly like when she would enchant. It was an inefficient and slower method meant for larger scale magic, wasted on trivial low tier spells, but it had been all she'd ever had.
She got on the ground and quickly began making the glyph, deciding the spell as she went. She was slower, being forced to use her non-dominant hand once again, it was all she could do, the choice was none.
The creature was slow, but several meters took little time regardless, and it was closing in on her.
Quiet words were mumbled, in between self-notes to practice until she became ambidextrous in the future.
As the bog beast encroached upon her, she leapt back one final time as she finished her chant, several fragments of the glyph's pattern that it had stepped in now turning a shade of crimson, it was engulfed in flames.
Immediately after, before even its roars could reach her, the remaining parts of the formation turned an icy blue and the beast was frozen in place.
It roared amidst the blaze, its struggle chipping away at the ice, the flames melting away at it, though neither enough to instantly release it.
Taking this chance, Weiss unsheathed her rapier and lunged, aiming for where she could only assume its heart, its core were, praying her blow would pierce through it.
It did, the long blade reaching deep, to its hilt, spells of fire and ice both being released inside of the raging beast.
She kicked back, not leaving her blade this time as she retreated back, a sigh of relief at the lack of that thorn aura, followed by another at the crashing thump of the beast as it seemed to finally yield to all of her attacks.
Taking a few moments to inspect it, and a few extra stabs to be sure, she stepped back
Then she brought up her hand. It wasn't caked in blood, at least. Only a few of the holes actually bled slightly. Holes while they were, they were all needle sized as well. A hindrance to be sure, but nothing too lethal that wouldn't be fine soon enough.
She tested it, moved it around, gripped it, the last of which was rather hindersome, but not too burdening.
She turned and walked up to the bag she'd tossed aside as her confrontation had started. It was hardly in its most presentable form and then looking down at her dress she noted it was much the same state.
She was off to a great start.
With a sigh, she latched it over her shoulder as she continued walking past the felled beast and down the road, all while shuffling through her bag with her good hand. She had something to clean her wound with in here, she was sure.
"Ren. This. Is. Awesome!"
Her reply was but a simple smile, yet it was all she needed.
"Look at these figurines. And those wooden carvings. So many different animals! Oh," She then turned from all the stalls to him and he could swear it looked like her eyes were about to begin to sparkle. "You think they can make sloths?"
He contemplated for a moment. "Possibly. Then again, there aren't really any around these parts, so they may likely have not seen any before."
"Aww… well, maybe they can just go off my descriptions. Anyway, you did not tell me this place would have so many amazing things to see!"
"I hadn't known either. Though I guess this village does get a lot of travelers. Now that I Think about it, it makes sense having so many vanity stores and stalls around."
"Aww, you're putting it in such a boring way. Now come on, let's go get us some souvenirs!" Not giving him a chance to protest, she was already pulling him away to the next stall's front.
Riverdale, it went by. The name might've not seemed too fitting, with how the closest river to it was a ways away and not by any similar name.
However, with how mountains stretched to both its sides, through the village was the only proper pass for hundreds of miles that didn't involve any shortcuts through perilous mountains.
Thus, while there were far more paths to the far, far west, within the eastern half of the continent, this village was the only simple path for traveling between the middle and the upper reaches of said continent. And so, while still positioned within Lordaeron's borders, if its very most south-eastern ones, through it all sorts of people flowed like a river, from many, many different origins.
Thus it was littered with stalls and even many stores selling more unique goods among its fairly large cultural mix as there were always travelers from different reaches who could find something new within it.
"Oh, oh, oh, I know, we should sooo totally make a stall of our own here!"
"Oh?" He gave her an amused smile. "And what will it be about?"
"I'm not sure yet. I mean, I was going to say sloths, obviously. We can't have people not knowing what those are. But then I thought - there are gryphons, like, right next door."
"The Wildhammers aren't quite as close, Nora, not to mention their settlements are supposedly within the mountains."
"That's why we need to bring some here!"
"Mister, Mister!" Before he could reply Ren felt a tug on his sleeve. Turning, he saw a child that couldn't have been much bigger than eight or so of age, bundle of flowers in hand. "Would you like to buy a rose for your fiance?"
He did, giving the kid a few copper coins, more than was asked for as he received a smile in return as it left and bid them goodbye, likely off to the next pair of travelers it'd notice.
Then he turned to Nora, noticing how she'd gone unusually silent. Then he looked at the rose in his hand. "Sorry, I know some send their children to play on heart strings, but I couldn't help myself when I thought of someone so young working, and it was only a few copper." he gave her an awkward smile."
"No, not that.." She mumbled, far too quiet for him to hear. "It.. It-" Then she nearly jumped back at the rose waved before her eyes.
"Might as well, right?" He nonchalantly asked, as if the gesture of him handing her said rose meant nothing.
"Yeah, yeah, thanks." She simply took it, a slight pout on her face.
A few moments after she turned to look back though. That kid, she could remember how they sold flowers like that too. She could only hope the circumstances were nothing alike theirs.
Moments turned into minutes, and at one point she couldn't quite tell if it had already been an hour or not, though what she knew was that they were finally running out of new places to check out.
A fairly large village it was, but still a village nonetheless.
She twirled and played around with the rose in her hand for a few moments, taking a moment how Ren was meanwhile still simply enjoying the scenery.
"Ah, come, come!" The both of them turned at the beckoning voice. "I know a couple when I see one."
"Ah, no, no, we're not together- well, we are together, but not together-together!" She quickly protested, then looked at the rose in her hand before she hid it behind her back with an awkward smile.
"Is that so?" The man asked with an amused smile. "Well, friends, lovers, family and relatives, all alike, everyone can enjoy a good memory, no?" He waved one hand over his merchandise as he said so, and it was then that Nora saw.
"So many paintings…" She looked over them in awe, from scenery to scenes of people in a plethora of different manners, all drawn beautifully if she did say so herself.
"If not love, then a memory of friendship why not? A portrait to last the ages, all for forty copper."
Ren simply stood quiet at that, turning to instead look at Nora, seemingly letting her have the final say on it.
She jostled the thought for a moment. They weren't short on money at the moment, having mostly saved what they've had for some months now as they were camping most of the time. A hundred copper coins were as much as one silver, and they currently had several dozens of silver coins.
Then again, forty copper was as good as eight loafs of bread…
She turned to Ren. "You're fine with this?"
"I can't say I'm not at all interested in the prospect."
Closing her eyes as she seemed to ponder for a moment more, she then cracked a smile as her eyes snapped open. "Sold!"
The elderly man gave his own smile at that before he began going over the details on poses and whatever other specifications they may have had.
She felt herself hiss as she felt herself creak yet again.
People seemed merry, boisterous as many more than what you'd expect traversed the streets of the relatively large village she herself was moving through right now.
She wouldn't consider herself the one to disperse a celebration at a tavern, but she couldn't deny the annoyance at how loudly happy everyone around her was.
There was definitely much to see, but she didn't pay anything much mind as she kept working out the kinks in her shoulders. No tent or any proper equipment or pleasantries for a few weeks did that to you really. No coin to afford an inn either, something she should've expected in retrospect.
Had she not thought this through? No, no, she really hadn't thought this through. There hadn't even been any village along her way where she could sell or barter her meats and hides.
At least here that was a more likely thing to manage, even if the competition all around meant she'd be trading for lower rates than she'd have liked.
The benches scattered around were more so than she'd have expected, though it made sense with all the commerce. So she decided to hijack one herself. It was getting later into the day, though there was still fair enough amounts of light out.
Still, she'd have to sell soon lest she have to camp out another night.
She looked around, not that many other people really sitting down, the village was still boisterous instead. Obnoxiously loud as it was it still brought a smile to her face.
She unlatched the makeshift sheath at her waist, slowly pulling out the sword within it as she inspected it with a fond expression. Longing even.
It was short, unnaturally so for a katana. Interestingly enough made for a one-handed grip where most to all katana blades would be two-handed. It was shadowy-gray, fully made of the same material, both hilt and blade, though it had leather padding added onto said hilt.
Dark iron was what it was made of, why it had a more coal-like color. Found only in the depths of certain mountains, this metal could only be forged at the highest of temperatures. Sensitive to magic while in its ore state, it needed to not be disrupted by any magic during the forging process lest it crumbled, but once complete, it was among the toughest of metals, substantially heavier than mithril but tougher too.
Because of its unique interactions with magic, it could only be properly enchanted during a short key period of its crafting, namely at a certain point during its cooling, right after its forging. Anytime after would simply have it reject any enchantments, wasting the ingredients used.
This one held no form of enchantment, only memories. After all, this was passed down to him from who knows how far back, and he'd trusted it to her.
The blade she'd use every time they trained, yet it didn't even have a name, now that she thought about it.
With a sigh, she returned it to the makeshift sheath she'd made for it and latched it back onto her person.
She then counted through how many arrows she had left on hand - 18 to be precise - made sure her dagger was sharpened enough and that her bowstring was not loose.
She looked through what she had in stock then, enough meat leftover from the morning's hunt to have a proper, if completely lacking in variety meal, and plenty of hides she'd at least gathered up over the weeks. She could work with those, she supposed.
Getting up, she began thinking as to how best to sell them, and to who, prioritize time or price, before she heard a sound that momentarily rattled her.
She wasn't the only one, as most to all who traversed the streets turned to look at the sound's direction.
It left her with a feeling of foreboding.
She looked around again, this time taking particular notice of the guards, or lack thereof.
It had its guards, true enough, and even now after that she could see more gathering around in confusion and suspense. Still, for a place as big as this, at least twice her own village's size, and one so heavily populated so often, they were far too little.
Whatever the sound was, however, it didn't seem to come to the fore again, and eventually the commotion dispersed and people carried on with their days. It seemed a few more guards lingered around here now. 'Good'.
Then again, could this be a distraction? She was overthinking it.
Several hours later she found herself lighter on her feet, plenty of fur down and several silver up. She could've gotten better value, she supposed, but for the pace at which she'd sold out she couldn't complain.
An inn wouldn't be an issue today, it seemed, and she'd finally get a chance to refamiliarize herself with a proper bed.
Her attention couldn't help but wander though, as her long ears were not for show, managing to pick up farther and clearer sounds than what your average human would.
It was still quiet as the man was a ways away, but by what she'd gathered the guard had just waved off a man over the vagueness of his complaint. She took more interest in it, however.
Some strange large silhouette in the bushes, he had said? Vague indeed. She wasn't as quick to wave it off though.
Several minutes after she found herself on the opposite side of the village. The opposite side of that commotion from earlier, she recalled.
The moon now threatened to come out and dance its dance in the skies as the sun was already disappearing in the distance. The light was already scarce.
She shuffled through one of her two pouches again, pushing aside the single book she had on her person with sigh, recalling how many were left forsaken. She instead pulled out a rope.
Over the next half an hour darkness encroached, and with it she rose up to admire her handiwork.
Paranoid? Considering a few weeks back, she decided to give herself that right. And thus before her now laid several poorly - due to how rushed they were, not her lack of skill - constructed but at least fairly well hidden traps.
She just needed to make sure no hapless traveler ended up in one of them but instead whatever was stalking this area.
If there was anything such, she reminded herself. She shouldn't let her nerves get the best of her, even though she technically already had.
A short while after she'd already concealed herself among some bushes as she kept watch.
Ten minutes passed. Twenty. Thirty. At Forty minutes she felt like the only thing that matched her built up fatigue over the day was her currently growing annoyance.
Well, better safe and wrong she supposed. Wait a bit more and then go and disarm the traps, she decided. Uneventful meant safe and she couldn't complain to that.
However, then she heard it. Heavy. That was the only way she could describe the sound.
On one end, it sounded like footsteps, yet on the other it felt like what was making them was not your average sized man.
Then she saw it, bushes breaking a part, some of them it outright tearing aside. Large, more so than the burliest warrior she'd seen. More so than the largest of bears too. A yeti.
Looking at it, its fur was frayed all around, there where the patches were thinner or there was none she could even see cuts and bruises. It looked to be in a less than favorable state to put it lightly.
Its steps clumsy, it seemed to visibly stalk, keeping as quiet as a thing of its size could, and that's when she realized that it had been on the other side of the village, hadn't it?
She'd heard of them, that they made up for the intelligence they lacked in cunning. It had waited for nightfall, it had lured more of the guards on the opposite end.
It was not quite that night, not like back then, yet it was the same all over she realized as she grimaced.
It stepped into one of her makeshift traps - useless.
Well, it did give a startled yelp, but that rope trap was never meant for anything more than human-sized, it didn't even manage to tie around its foot as it just slid over its side and flew past its face.
She made use of the distraction, however, moving fast and as quiet as she could. She could see it, a nasty wound on its back, that's where she could go for.
She closed in on it, managing a slash where it already seemed wounded. It gave a cry as it turned to strike at her, though what it carved up was an already dissipating shadowy apparition as she was behind it yet again, not relenting as she struck the same spot.
She halted, however, after her second blow, despite the ample window for a third and possibly forth.
Its cry… just like the one after her arrow flew…
She hardly managed to recompose herself as she jumped back, a moment later its claw rending the air where she stood.
She felt her grip on the katana still strong, yet her hand, it refused to stop trembling.
It didn't wait for her inner contemplations, however, as it rushed at her.
Its steps now unrestrained echoed like thunder and its flailing arms each promised death if she dared meet them.
She felt herself losing ground to it again and again, only finding solace in how she had plenty to give.
She was tired though. The camping was fine, but those cries... they'd kept her awake most of how many nights? And she didn't mean this creature's. It seemed tired too, but she didn't feel confident pitting her failing stamina to its failing stamina.
Then she heard a commotion to the side, worry filling her at the thought of villagers coming here.
Then she felt her feet jostle as she stepped within one of her own traps, realization kicking in exactly as she stepped upon it being the only reason she wasn't fully caught in it. Avoid it as she did, she felt her feet give way under due to the pull.
Then came the cry, not of the beast, however.
"Get do-oh," Whoever was speaking stopped themselves as they saw her impact the ground. "Okay then." And then took a few steps forward, already almost beside her and the beast, swinging what seemed to be a warhammer far too massive for the small frame that held it, pushing the beast back and forcing out another roar from it, this one far more feral.
"It followed us, all the way to here?" A second figure stated, this one a young man, what looked to be daggers in each hand, one a plain one and the other one mithril. She then took note of the other figure as well while scrambling back to her feet. A girl with a way too big hammer for even someone the size of her father, really. How was she swinging that thing?
"I didn't expect this. It seems we have to end it here, otherwise someone might get hurt." The young man said.
"Yeah!" The girl simply replied.
Or someone 'might' get hurt? Was the moonlight too obstructing for her tango with said creature to be on display? What was she, chop liver?
Putting aside needless things, she got up, turning to them. Then she realized she didn't really have much to say. And then she realized she did. "Careful, there are traps hidden about in the area."
"It set traps?" Exclaimed the girl.
"..." And she was not quite sure what to answer to a question like that. "...Yes."
"Ren, it's learning!"
"Perhaps, Nora. However, we have something more imminent right now."
"Really? You- I was being sarcas- you know, nevermind." She sighed, then leapt back as another claw came her way, this time also taking note of the trap near her. "Can you give me an opening?" She then yelled out to them.
"We can distract it." The boy answered as the girl was already taking its attention away from her. "Do you think you can finish it?"
She looked down at her hand. It was still trembling. She closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep, raspy breath. Then another, and another, until it finally steadied. Her hand still shook lightly.
She then looked to the yeti, closed her eyes one last time and opened them a moment later, turning to the boy.
He held her gaze for a moment, his eyes seemingly contemplating questions. He didn't ask any, instead nodding at her as he chased after his partner.
Then she gazed at them, waited, like a hunter. It took her but a moment to weigh her choices and lean on to her blade. An arrow wouldn't do it in this case.
She went on the move, tired or not, she had enough adrenaline coursing through her right now, she had a few more moments of vigor in her.
The two of them took note of where she was, did their best to have its back facing her. It was more than enough.
One slash, one cry of agony, her hand felt like letting go of the blade. A second slash, before it could turn, before it could strike, before she could let go. A claw met her right after.
It meant little. The one thing she'd exhausted very little of was her mana. She didn't have much of it, but one use of Spectral Guise wasn't going to burn through all of her mana pool.
The shadow dissipated as her form once again came into shape, a two-handed grip on it as she felt the third slash strike a bone. She hesitated for a moment, but only a moment as she gritted her teeth. Tears spilled as bone cracked, she retreated back before it could strike at her, wiping away tears none should see.
It seemed it was reaching its end, however, the beast now visibly at a breaking point. The guards had come too, it seemed, as she noticed them in the not at all far distance.
It seemingly turned to flee, but it was too late. With the guards here, it was eventually felled in another few minutes.
A few minutes in which she just stood there, no longer wishing to hold her blade, regardless of the value it held to her. Its cries, despite everything she saw, those cries of its, among the feral ones, some were so… human-like, elf-like...
Deep breath. Once. Twice. She lifted her hand before her face, almost steady. Good enough.
She needed sleep.
"Heeey~ Oh!" Came a startled yelp as she saw the girl get caught in one of her traps. "Hey this is fun-" Her vigorous reaction was interrupted by the coughing fit due to all the dust and sand that had risen as her hammer had fallen to and impacted the ground.
The boy raised a brow at her.
"I said there were traps."
He simply shrugged in response to her own response, moving to get his friend down.
"Hey, I'm Nora! What's your name? You fight really well! We should spar sometimes!" Came her completely unflustered tone as she was making the boy's job of getting her down quite a bit harder than it should be, with how she was using her trap as an impromptu swing.
She could only raise a brow at that. "Blake." She couldn't deny the silliness was a welcome distraction.
Still, she really needed some rest, both mentally and physically. And she still had to disarm all the traps before that.
"Ren, look, look! Her ears, they're so long and pointy! They're adorable!"
"I think that comes about as a bit more insensitive than you may realize, Nora."
She was not getting a peaceful night tonight either, was she?
Hope you enjoyed!