AN: Firstly I want to say that this story's first arc is based entirely on whatever facts I could scrounge up about the great war era of RWBY. There's a surprising amount of information if you pay attention. Every single hard fact from the era I've taken and drawn together in what I consider to be a mostly accurate depiction of the world of RWBY slightly before the great war, during it, and later after it disregarding the main character. I'll focus a lot on world building here both directly and indirectly to emphasize this.
This story will focus on an OC but believe me when I say that he's not perfect in any way, shape, or form. He could be considered strong but in practice strength is entirely subjective. All characters in fanfiction are OCs. We can never really make them act exactly the same unless we're just reciting canon. Don't hate on OCs to put it shortly.
This is more of an introductory chapter than an action packed one or an emotional one. It's setting the stage for bigger things too so it's shorter than most chapters in the future will be. My apologies for the info dump in a few places but I hope you understand that I just want to put it out there quickly so we can get to the meat of the story. That should be here next chapter or the one after. Maybe at four. I'm trying to pace myself somewhat though. Please review and tell me what you think I could improve upon. If I like the idea I'll try it out.
Finally here is that I'll be uploading about twice or thrice a week. I've already written up to chapter thirty one prior so you'll have plenty to read soon. Don't worry about this being too short. It's going to be about a hundred fifty words until the first arc is done. I have three planned but I might make a fourth. Well... have fun reading you all. Do be honest in the comments. I'm not planning on blocking anybody unless they're just being plain rude with no helpful advice whatsoever. Well I'll probably not have to do that anyways.
Grimm souls chapter 1
In Remnant there are creature called grimm. They are soulless creatures of unknown origins who strived to destroy humanity. They aren't exactly sentient. More like wildlife with a disposition to hunt humanity, especially those with the power called aura, but that's a different issue. One particular grimm, called Salem, was different though.
Salem was odd for a grimm. Maybe due to her extreme age or her abundance of power but Salem had grown sentience somewhere in her life and took the form of a human. She had skin pale as the moon shattered in the sky and eyes red as blood. Her dress was made of grimm spider silk and flowed well whenever Salem cared to flourish it.
She never mindlessly chased after prey like her subordinates, the aforementioned black creatures, called grimm, but instead she was waiting. For what it was only she knew or would tell. Most assume it is the slaughter of the races of mankind.
In this specific time Salem was playing with a soul rather than devouring it as she often did. It had been brought to her attention that a soul had wandered into the world called Remnant from a void of sorts and practically fallen into her lap briefly after. It was fascinating that such an event could occur and rather frightening as well. If souls could pass the void between worlds then what else could? It was all rather frightening in Salem's private opinion though if some dimensional behemoth decided Remnant would be a tasty treat it wasn't a if she could do anything about it so she left such thoughts alone.
The wandering soul was an odd thing. It sat on a sort of desk Salem had acquired not doing much of anything. That was the problem, actually. Normal souls would be crying and rocketing around after death without a body to contain them. The soul would then decompose into energy to be absorbed into the world as what was called natural energy, which would then turn back into a soul in a child, form into dust, or be consumed for magic by a maiden, used to power the grimm, or the rare practitioner of the art of magic without any special boon like the maidens.
It was a sort of cycle of energy that the odd soul seemed to break. Even with an encouragement of sorts to break down the soul remained perfectly composed not doing anything of note. It was a breaking of the cycle that she did not understand.
The soul was odd and seemingly rather mundane except for the stability of it and that it came from across the void between worlds. If it wasn't for those two factors it wouldn't be of much more use than a lamp.
Giving the soul an exasperated look Salem monitored the world as it was through the use of a peculiar grimm called a seer. Though the events of the outside world were important for Salem's budding plans of world domination Salem couldn't take her mind off of the odd soul. It was simply so queer that it demanded attention from her. And so with a sigh Salem turned to look at the soul once more only to spy a Beowolf appearing at the entrance to the room.
In a moment of epiphany or perhaps recklessness Salem stood still for a moment, eyes locked onto the Beowolf. That Beowolf had become what Salem referred to as a pet. She had seen humans value those animals they called dogs and decided she may as well get one of her own if only to show the humans that she had everything. The fact that only a few humans knew Salem existed was forgotten in the spur of the moment. Even if they knew Salem had a pet dog they really wouldn't care.
Typically when a Beowolf ate a human soul the soul would be repeatedly tested and strained until the soul broke. The soul fragments would endure the same process until the soul was divided so small that the broken soul energy, now natural energy, would leak out of the grimm's body. Some energy would never leave the grimm and make the grimm stronger, which made alpha beowolves and the like. Even so, grimm would slowly absorb ambient natural energy to both fuel them and advance them. The process was terribly slow though. One human soul was several days worth of natural energy. More if the soul was from an awakened human, called huntsmen by the humans.
Acting on a whim of sorts Salem leaned down slightly and offered the grimm the odd soul as a treat of sorts. Maybe the soul simply needed to be broken down and would offer massive amounts of energy? Maybe so or maybe not. The grimm, named Fluffy because of his fur, regarded the soul for a moment as though considering whether it wanted to eat the soul in the first place. With the sort of nonchalance you'd expect of a cat rather than a wolfish looking devourer of human souls the Beowolf casually munched on the soul and sat there staring at Salem as though expectant of more treats.
For just a moment throughout the black castle Salem lived in there was complete and utter silence. Not even the grimm shuffling outside made a noise… but nothing happened.
With a sigh and the smallest of smiles over the fact that nothing had gone horribly wrong Salem strode back to the waiting seer to gaze over the land finally free of the odd soul that had seemed so important just a minute ago. Fluffy, somewhat disappointed at the absence of treats walked to his mistresses' feet and collapsed in a huff, as though what had just happened was incredibly tiring. And so the odd soul was forgotten by everyone. For just the moment that is.
For some time the odd soul sat in the beowolf's stomach to be decomposed into natural energy as all souls did when in the stomach of a grimm. For perhaps months the soul broke down yet it never became the abundant natural energy Salem had hoped for. It remained in many tiny pieces that absolutely refused to break. The broken soul would sink into the grimm rather than convert to natural energy like water would sink into paper.
Soon enough all the soul energy was decomposed into the beowolf as the odd soul reformed. This time, however, the soul didn't reform in the stomach. It latched onto the body of the beowolf. Like it would a human except human souls were simply tied to the body to pass upon death. This time the soul completely merged with the beowolf in a unique way that Salem had only seen in a few other beings before.
And that is how Dexter was brought into the world from his last one. His soul wasn't formed fully in his new form and his body wasn't the same as it used to be but he was the same Dexter he was before he died. There were only a few complications. Due to Dexter's soul being shattered in the beowolf's stomach Dexter's memories were shattered as well. A shame. Given time they might reform if only slightly.
Luckily the general common sense and such had been relatively unscathed and sure, the aura, also called the soul, was fractured and unstable but Dexter would be alright given a few centuries.
The consumption of such a soul and granted sentience had some… unexpected effects. It is unlikely that the true effect could have been predicted. Those effects remained hidden from all though. Unknown to the world. They might reveal themselves in time.
Since his soul was a soupy mess of shards at the moment the body would typically reflect that yet grimm instinctually shy away from becoming soup similarly to humans avoiding liquefying their internal organs. Besides, you can't eat souls if you literally cannot eat. So Dexter's body stayed mostly the same in form even if he could change shape according to his aura. Except for one small detail. Dexter's mask of bone disappeared.
Not that anybody had noticed this of course. Salem had returned to her study most of the time to make new grimm to unleash upon humanity or to brainstorm. There was nobody in the castle to brainstorm with her but Salem preferred to sit on her throne and think there anyways. Practicing to look royal and graceful was also important. It was certainly crucial to her future plans. Adopting the air of royalty would be useful.
Fluffy, still an adolescent, was woefully ignorant that it's primal mind was being erased to make way for the rational thought and empathy that arrived with a soul. The process was subtle as well and would take a few months. Months that nobody was paying much attention to Fluffy.
Normally grimm are black in body with white and red bone masks adorning them. Older variants used bone as armor. Dexter was still young so he had few bones at all. Now, however, Dexter was almost entirely black barring his eyes...
The phrase "eyes are the window to the soul" was shown in many cases from the grimm to the maidens of the seasons and to the grimm themselves. In Dexter's case his eyes grew more receptive to the souls around him. This is due to a very different reason than something as simple as being closer to his aura.
Dexter was a grimm and grimm are not creatures who have souls of bubbly happiness like humans and certain animals do. Calling grimm demons would not be too far from correct. And so Dexter did not have the happy and bubbly feeling that human aura had.
His aura functioned the same way as most souls but it was still different. It was akin to a different variant of aura. Dexter's aura was a dark indigo with hints of black in it due to the body and soul merging and you can see it in Dexter's eyes. They were unmistakably heterochromic. One eye was Indigo and one was the standard red of the grimm. A strange conflict of colors.
Looks aside Dexter was somewhat together again with his broken soul and Salem could see so. It was curious to her that the mask fell off as well as the change in eye color but there was really no other explanation than that the odd soul changed her pet for better or worse.
Of course, despite Salem's rash move in feeding her Beowolf an odd soul she was by no means stupid. She could tell that the beowolf, even if it was changed, was still hers to command. This put Salem in an odd position as for how to deal with the beowolf. She disliked the idea of having an unknown grimm around her yet killing the grimm would be a tragic waste of potential. So she came to the conclusion that she will send the grimm to do what grimm did best. Kill humans.
The next day Salem sent her poor possesed pet Fluffy off of her continent with the philosophy of 'out of sight out of mind' with a vague command of "Wander the world. Return should you become strong. Return if I order you to do so."
It was a rather confusing command with no real objective other than to wander. Growing strong was optional as shown by Salem's wording and could only be achieved with time or combat. To provide power and experience. Having a weapon and knowing how to use it were both important after all and the same could be said of having strength and knowing how best to use it.
Dexter sat at Salem's feet for a moment before deciding to go away from the sunset. East. From the vague maps in Salem's rooms Dexter knew of a peninsula from the dark continent that neared Sanus. So he departed.
Moments after Salem watched her odd beowolf depart she walked back to her castle as she spawned another Beowolf to act as her pet.
"Come along Fluffy" She said without minding her new pet.
The Beowolf happily trotted alongside her already knowing it's purpose in life and Dexter the odd Beowolf was promptly put out of Salem's mind as she returned to plotting. Plotting and waiting.
If she just knew what she had done she might have clung to her old pet like a scared mother. Or she might have simply let it go. Maybe even killed it. Whatever it is she would have done is inconsequential. She let it go and continued as she was. And thus the being called Dexter left the being he called mother to fulfill her wishes.
It would be a long time before he returned. A long time indeed.
Dexter found quickly that he enjoyed traveling. Seeing new ground was fascinating for him. While walking for a few days had been somewhat tiring it really wasn't all that bad. He had passed by rolling hills, a few rocky cliffs, and a sparse forest so far. Dexter's favorite sighting had been an old grimm dragon that was sleeping in a cave. Dexter considered fighting it for a moment since he was in need of fighting experience but decided that he wouldn't be fighting if he attacked it. He'd simply be killing himself. A smart decision, he later decided.
It didn't occur to Dexter that he wasn't supposed to fight the grimm but rather fight the humans (Salem wouldn't mind even if she did know). Dexter had been told to be strong and fighting is how he will become so. It didn't matter whether Dexter fought grimm, humans, cats, bears, sharks, or anything really. So long as they helped Dexter to improve. For the moment Dexter was traveling though. Wandering.
Most would have found this travelling boring but as the days passed Dexter wondered at the scenery. He had never truly seen outside the castle before. There was so much green in the world. He felt no happiness but through the eyes of one like a child in mind it was incredible and beautiful. Never mind that the vegetation on his mother's continent was sparse and half dead it was no leff wonderous to Dexter. Boredom was a fiction.
While traveling Dexter noticed that he had a sort of some sort of malleable energy in him that he could use. He'd first noticed the energy when he'd been tired and laid down. Dexter didn't sleep because he was a grimm and grimm don't need to sleep and because if a beowolf pack passed by Dexter wanted to fight a few to learn more combat experience. Dexter had not thought about anything on his guard and had accidentally fallen into meditation. A lack of the mental maturity to be bored worked in his favor for the moment. And so he found the energy of his soul. Aura.
With focus Dexter tried pulling the energy out of him and found that his claws could be sharper, his muscles could be more powerful, and he could even quickly heal injuries with it so long as he channeled it to the proper location. The discovery of how to heal injury certainly did not come from running into a tree because he was so excited over running faster.
All great things must come to an end, though, and as such Dexter's energy ran out. Dexter might have imagined it but did it seem just slightly easier to control? And it was definitely bigger now even if by the smallest of amounts. To help make the reserves of Dexter's energy bigger Dexter resolved to deplete the reserves of energy whenever possible and learn to control it better. Being fast and strong was very important in a fight after all. Besides, using the energy could help Dexter travel faster as well. The more he had the better.
It was only a few hours after the discovery of Dexter's aura that he ran into his first pack of beowolves. It was only a group of four and they were all quite young. Dexter was smaller than the size of your average Beowolf even if he was faster and stronger due to aura. He was fully matured physically yet the boney spikes and plates of an alpha Beowolf would never grow in due to an effect of Dexter's aura melding somewhat with his body but he didn't know that.
These less matured beowolves were slightly larger than Dexter with one of them being at it's full natural size, the size of a horse roughly. So they wouldn't be much of a match for Dexter who was smarter and stronger than them.
Dexter started off the fight with a bite to the throat for one of the younger beowolves. The young one's eyes widened in surprise, not expecting an attack from it's own kin, and was killed quickly. It took a moment for the other three to ready themselves for this unexpected fight. Dexter had moved on from his first kill already and was darting to the left of another small Beowolf with a boost of speed from his aura. The Beowolf wasn't able to react in time and could only try to raise a paw to block the incoming blow. Dexter was already mauling the mask his brethren, however, and this Beowolf died like the other one.
The remaining two beowolves hadn't been idle as their pack was killed and the mature Beowolf was jumping towards Dexter with it's powerful hind legs. Dexter, barely noticing in time, rolled onto his back and locked his paws with that of the Beowolf. His hind legs were free and so Dexter clawed the stomach of the attacker while keeping it at bay. The Beowolf cried out and collapsed to the side in pain. The final Beowolf approached Dexter on his back and locked it's jaws onto Dexter's shoulder.
With a roar Dexter tried to dislodge the young Beowolf but it was in vain. So dexter leapt to the side and rammed the Beowolf into a tree. This shocked the Beowolf enough to let Dexter dislodge his shoulder and bite into the Beowolf. This attack wasn't a targeted strike like the one before. This was a raw primal fury that could be called nothing more than a mauling. The flailing Beowolf only managed to get a weak scratch on Dexter before dying.
Dexter calmed himself down somewhat before turning to the mature Beowolf that was injured but still alive. The Beowolf seemed to know that it had lost but it kept itself in the fetal position due to the pain. Dexter felt an odd emotion in him. Pity. The Beowolf hadn't known that Dexter would attack and it had been happily exploring the dark land like Dexter. With a sad look Dexter stomped on the beowolf's mask twice before the mask broke and the grimm finally died.
For just a moment Dexter questioned his orders. Was what he just did really what the strong did? It spread only suffering among those like Dexter and there was no reason to do such a thing. "No," he decided. Dexter simply wasn't strong enough. The first two had died quickly because of speed and surprise. They passed painlessly. But the other two had suffered because Dexter wasn't strong enough.
He couldn't stay in control and that was a weakness. A hindrance to his strength. If he'd been stronger then his kind wouldn't have had to suffer before their death. No matter if his kind had to feel pain or not Dexter would still grow strong through combat because that is what his queen and creator commanded. There was no other way of gaining combat experience than combat.
It was good at least that the grimm hadn't died for nothing. Dexter had learned plenty from the fight. To never expose his stomach, to use both his hind legs as well as his forearms when possible, and to never take your eyes off of any of his enemies. That last one had been learned the hard way.
For a moment Dexter felt his injury itch. It was… Healing? Upon closer inspection it was his energy doing something in that spot that made his flesh regrow itself. How helpful! But… couldn't it shield him rather than heal him? It would be far more convenient that way.
With nothing else to do and all doubts settled Dexter continued his way to Sanus along the peninsula. If he encountered more of his kind he would kill them as well but Dexter hoped they wouldn't feel pain before they died. All he could do was try.
Omake: The succession of Fluffy
The very first Fluffy. He died of getting hugged too hard by Salem. She was very enthusiastic about the first fluffy object she'd ever had.
The second Fluffy. Salem had punted him out the window after he peed on one of her rugs.
This Fluffy was one Salem simply forgot about. She spawned a new Fluffy after forgetting him in a now sectioned off portion of the dungeon. She never gave the okay command and so he shall forever maintain the stay command.
This Fluffy decided climbing walls was fun and that he should try climbing mount Salem. His fate was the same of the second.
This Fluffy was spawned only to be immediately punted out the window as stress relief after the fourth.
This Fluffy saw the death of the fifth and ran into the dungeons to escape his imminent doom. He lives with number three now.
Salem had the bright idea of dressing Fluffy up in tiny clothes. After being forced to dress as a fairy princess and having glitter dumped on him he decided death was preferable. The top of the tower is quite high.
This Fluffy was actually an ursa in an experiment by Salem to see if volume was proportional to Fluffiness. Finding that it was not and that ursas in the castle shed everywhere she made a the world's first ursa skin rug. It really is quite soft.
Continuing the experiment to see if other grimm could be softer than beowolves Salem made this Fluffy a cat grimm. This resulted in the cat and Salem entering a week long cold shoulder war after refusing to give Salem cuddles and emotional support. The cat was replaced by number ten soon after the week was done.
Number ten was a victim of an assassination attempt by number nine in an attempt to regain Salem's affection. It died in a valorous attempt to kill the assassin. It failed.
Eleven was sent to kill number nine after weeks of Salem being unable to find the rogue Fluffy. It succeeded yet it lost an eye in the process. Salem sent it to the human territory with pride in it's skills as a warrior. It lives to this day.
This Fluffy was the victim of an uprising by number three and six. They were tired of the dungeons and had grown quite powerful from age.
This fluffy was fed a bad soul. It was sent to wander the world and it named itself Dexter.
This grimm still lives. It lives in blissful ignorance, believing itself the first of its kind. Fool.
AN: Some of you might be thinking that Salem was really acting off in this chapter and I'll tell you why. Salem doesn't have any subordinates to show a strong front to. There's nobody to show anything to and so Salem can act as she pleases. It's like how you act when you're at work versus how you act at your house. At work you have to act a certain way while at your home you act however you damn well please. Salem is at her home and so she acts the way she pleases. We only ever see her in front of her subordinates in the show so we never see past her tempered and stoic front. Finally, what do you think about the chapter length? I think it's fine as an introductory chapter but later the chapters get to be about six thousand words per chapter. Pretty big for a single chapter. Oh, and the next chapter will be tomorrow just to get the ball rolling on this fic. I'd like to give you all some stuff to puzzle over.