AN: Yay! Another chapter! We still haven't gotten to the meat of the story. That will be here a few chapters ahead but we're getting there! Really! If you haven't been able to tell already this story isn't an action packed story of a badass on the road to godhood or anything of that sort. I'll be focusing on themes such as exploration and adventure but we'll be moving onto the best parts soon enough. Enjoy! Oh, and please leave any thoughts in the reviews. I read them all I swear!

Also, some of the more astute viewers might notice that I tend to be wishy-washy about what kind of perspective I write in. I try to do 3rd person singular on Dexter but sometimes I dip into the thoughts of others such as Salem. This is intentional most of the time but if I dip into first person for the moment or something of that sort then my apologies. Last chapter was a special case since our MC didn't exist before being eaten by Fluffy the destroyer. I used Salem for a while because it was convenient and necessary for being clear on the story.

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Grimm souls chapter 2

The exploration

The boarbatusk roared in fury as it stampeded towards a tree. It was an old one. A powerful one and a smart one. Before it hit a black blur jumped out of the way and the grimm was stunned. Where was the squish of it's enemies' death? SKRIK - A slick and wet sound of tearing went through the air. The boarbatusk seemed to trip on itself and lose momentum in a stumble but it was too late. It choked for a moment as it fell to the ground. The tree it was about to hit was covered in black now. The boarbatusk sublimated into the ashes its kind always did after death as it scattered into the wind.

Dexter panted heavily after such a fight. It was refreshing to taste the air after so long a the boarbatusk was charging him as he was against the tree was the only real dangerous moment but it was still a fight of sorts. Dexter had to collect aura into his legs and release it all at once in a jump away from the boarbatusk. As he rocketed past the boarbatusk's head he had slashed it's throat with his claws. It wasn't the first time Dexter had done so to finish the fight but it was still a little distastefully painful if the grimm realizes that it's dying. So Dexter generally drew the boarbatusks he fought into a rage first. It was less painful for them then.

It had been about three hundred full moons (25 years roughly) since Dexter's first fight and Dexter had spent most days fighting or training his aura. All the hard work showed greatly. Killing a boarbatusk was easy for Dexter now. It was the few beowolf packs that had gotten tired and even then he could have kept going for hours. Travelling for days had given Dexter plenty of stamina. There had been only one alpha in the pack of grimm but the boarbatusk had been pretty old. Old enough to have grown bone plates on it's sides and a thin sheet over it's stomach. The beowolf packs had worn Dexter down a bit and the boarbatusk had been difficult to bring to a rage. The better part of an hour had been spent avoiding attacks and taunting the boarbatusk with hits to the face. If Dexter had tried the boarbatusk would be dying in minutes but he wasn't willing to inflict pain when he knew he was capable of killing it painlessly.

In the 25 years since Dexter's efforts to grow strong he had focused hard on everything he could. Especially aura size and control. If it wasn't for aura Dexter's claws wouldn't be able to pierce the hide of the boarbatusk or his jaws wouldn't be powerful enough to crunch on an alpha beowolf's neck and break it, and traveling fast would be so much harder without the speed boost provided by aura. If Dexter's aura was full something was terribly wrong.

Aura had been constantly channeled to all parts of Dexter's body every moment of the day to make him stronger and faster than ever before. After years upon years of training Dexter was able to channel aura as such unconsciously and do so forever... Not a lot of it but constantly channeling aura through his body was a pretty big accomplishment for Dexter.

His aura regenerated at a speed faster than he could use it for the channeling! He could use more aura than the minimum required to channel but that would take more aura, which would drain his reserves. He would only do that in battle.

Through constant use of aura Dexter's control had skyrocketed making all the little things he used aura for seamless and easy as well as increasing the amount of aura Dexter had in reserve by 6 times what he had all those years ago. However, his exercises had been forced to stop. Years after the exercises Dexter had found that channeling more aura through his body was harmful. His core of aura continued to grow so long as he channeled aura but his body rejected more aura channeled. Violently. His arms still burned from when he forced a significant amount through the limb.

The progress made may seem crazy but Dexter still had to handle large packs carefully. He was always careful, of course, but extra caution was needed. If Dexter went all out he could take on twice as many enemies as he just did. Even three or four times if he used stealth at first.

Stealth was, besides aura, one of the biggest tools Dexter could use when taking out a group. A group in close combat could use teamwork to overwhelm Dexter but the enemies couldn't defend themselves from what was practically a shadow. Dexter felt himself lucky that he had been so gifted with being subtle and quiet. It was partially due to Dexter's small frame which he could fix and turn larger but he hated to do so.

One of the final two benefits of aura besides the healing and enhancement had been something rather unexpected. Shapeshifting. Dexter had discovered it when he had been so fed up with not going he turned to the one true solution, aura, and tried to fix it. He commanded his aura with all the pent up annoyance and rage he had over being a juvenile beowolf to change him. He had rapidly grown plates of bone and found he could manipulate his body however he pleased.

With more experimentation Dexter had found that he could become almost whatever he wished at an upkeep cost to his aura. A Deathstalker? Sure. A massive beowolf? Fine. Even a fish was doable. This led to one realization on the new forms. Complicated processes like synthesizing Deathstalker venom or breathing underwater were far beyond Dexter. Body mass and volume were things Dexter could easily change at will without issue so long as he regenerated aura fast enough but changing his body composition was beyond him. So he changed his goals. He made new forms.

Dexter's first form was a nevermoore. His arms became feathers, his snout a beak, and he lowered his body mass. Feathers were harder to make. Dexter had to steal a nevermoore's feather to make one of his own and apply them across his body. With a lot of trial and error Dexter could fly.

Dexter's second form was a larger version of what he called his standard form of a small beowolf. He just made himself bigger and added plates in important places. He became the size of a large alpha beowolf and added extra thick plates of armor over his skin rather than the spikes that normally grew on an alpha. The plates were hard to make but certainly worthwhile. Countless scratches had been avoided because claws weren't very good at slicing bone.

Dexter's third and final form was something he was very happy with. He didn't copy it off of a different creature but made it himself! It was something between a jaguar and a bobcat that was all black. The paws had been made extremely soft to muffle sound and the rest of the body was all muscle and tendons. Flexibility was more important than strength in this form but fine motor control as well as the body type to stay crouched for a long time were essential. One final addition was the tinted black membranes between the eye and eyelids. They were made to dim the light from Dexter's glowing eyes. They worked quite well. This form was specifically made so Dexter could sneak around wherever he pleased. In open combat it would be horrible since it was unarmored and had no capacity for anything other than a lunge or swipe. That was why Dexter would immediately go back to his beowolf form to fight back.

All the forms were hard to acquire except for one detail. It was hard to stay in them. Dexter always felt a sort of itch in the back of his head when he was in a different form that made them uncomfortable and the itch would be distracting in combat. Eventually the itch would fade away and Dexter could become comfortable in his new form but it took a long time to adjust to wearing a different skin. Eventually he got them down and the itch went away but it was a gruelling process because of how slow it was as well as the horrible itch. The itch wouldn't be noticed at first but after an hour it would be a feeling that something was wrong with his body and after a day Dexter could only endure the torment of the itch.

One of the saving graces of the forms was that body mass and composition could be changed at will. It was taxing to stretch that small grace too far but changing from a nevermoore the size of a ball to one the size of a tree was easily done. Too big or small was difficult to do though. A beowolf could only become so large. nevermoore's could get up to giant size without trouble but it soon became difficult after that.

All the gifts had been fantastically useful for Dexter despite the work he had to put into developing them but there had been odd happenings with Dexter's aura as well. Sometimes Dexter had remembered thinks he shouldn't remember. Blurred images of a mother, sister, job, and odd contraptions and grey rectangular buildings. They were memories of being a human.

Dexter had decided to mostly forgo the majority of the memories and continue his training. The memories had only been used to help train harder. Some knowledge had been shed on Dexter's energy and a few small pieces of information about the world of man. Dexter had enjoyed learning about aura and humans but even with the usefulness of the memories and knowledge of the world he resided in the memories unnerved him.

It was creepy to try to fit in the form of a man using the ability to shapeshift. It had felt both right and wrong. Dexter had only stayed in the form long enough to speak the language he learned, English, fluently and he immediately shifted back to his beowolf form and rolled around a bit, relishing his standard form. It was still better than the process of familiarizing himself with the nevermoore form was though. Flying was fantastically fun when the itch was weak enough to be ignored.

Dexter had done all this with no form of contact whatsoever. He had attempted to befriend other beowolves but had found them to be mindless compared to him. All other grimm were even worse. So he had spent 25 years doing nothing but traveling the peninsula around the soothing coastline and practicing aura and combat. It was mind numbing.

But finally! Finally! Dexter could be free! He shifted into his giant nevermoore form, which had roughly the wingspan of what humans called a semi truck and lifted off. A sigh escaped Dexter's beak and he found himself relaxing on the currents of air flying mostly east with a hint of south. It felt so right to finally be moving again. There was always something holding dexter to the dark lands of his birth when he wanted to go. He hadn't been comfortable as a nevermoore mostly but then the air currents had changed to north or south towards Vacuo or Mantle and it had been infuriating to wait when Dexter had seen everything he cared to.

There were so many options now that Dexter could fly. Sure he mostly would travel on the ground but if he wanted to travel to Vacuo he could do so in days. Atlas was cold and bad for flying but he could probably visit in the summer. Storms could be avoided too since having wet fur was just horrible. Wet feathers were far worse though.

A contented sigh escaped Dexter again. He couldn't help but do it for that second time. It was just that good! He even had a tailwind helping him out! With the warm sun on him, the feeling of freedom, and just everything in general being pretty great at the moment Dexter began feeling a bit drowsy. He rode that feeling and fell into a sort of trance while he trusted his instincts to guide him to Sanus.

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Two days later Dexter finally sighted land. It was a nice green color or healthy grass. It looked far nicer than the dark lands Dexter had been not long ago. In the distance there were mountains that rose quite high. On the right too there was a range of mountains blocking my view. Gazing around from up above there was a lake, some plains, a few ponds, and a few other things. Mostly there were trees EVERYWHERE! As far as the eye can see up until the mountains. There were also some grimm here and there. If I was in beowolf form it would take me days to move from one landmark to another.

Dexter broke his viewing for a moment. CRACK! A sound like thunder boomed with a flash below the trees. Out of curiosity Dexter lowered himself a bit and circled where the flash had taken place. Looking closely there was a discoloration behind the treetops but the leaves blocked the view.

Compressing himself to a smaller nevermoore about the size of a crow Dexter landed himself on a branch and looked towards the origin of the flash. Then he heard a sound…

"Damnit Rodney! The hell do you think you're doing!"

"I can't help it! The beowolf startled me! I didn't mean to!"

"Humans!" Dexter thought with his mind racing. His queen had often complained about how difficult humans were to deal with. They were the killers of grimm and had aura like Dexter did but theirs was apparently different than his.

Taking a closer look towards the humans Dexter noted their looks. One of them was young and carried a long tube. "A rifle" Dexter recognized. He was dressed in dark green to blend in with the forest along with an orange undershirt.

The older one was a little taller with slightly faded brown and a dark blue vest. He carried a short sword, knife, and a crossbow. Dexter could tell this man was the more experienced of the two from just a glance. It was in the way he carried himself. His legs were slightly bent, his arms strayed a comfortable distance from his weapons and his eyes were alert. The younger one had a looser stance with his focus fully on the older man rather than his surroundings. It would be childs play to catch him unaware.

"That beowolf wouldn't have noticed if you'd just learned the technique I've been trying to teach you. And if you hadn't been flirting with that girl you've been eyeing than you would have learned it too."

"You're the one that called me a lonely geek with no girl."

"And now you're a lonely geek with no girl and no skill. Pretty soon you won't have a master either."

"That's an empty threat and you know it. What would you do all day if you didn't have me around to make your life hard?"

Were those two bickering? They did realize that that gunshot probably attracted a lot of attention, right? It hadn't even been a minute around humans and Dexter already thought them odd.

"Won't that shot attract the grimm?"

Exactly!

"Yes. And that's why we're canceling the hunt for today. There's not going to be any deer around with that noise and I don't want to fight any grimm either. Now come on. I want my dinner."

There it was! Humans weren't stupid at least. It was also good that the humans were heading back so soon after Dexter had found them. Finding a human settlement had been an objective of Dexter's and finishing it so quickly would have brought a smile to his face had he had a mouth and not a beak.

Without a word the humans went off at a jog with Dexter lazily flying above them. Taking a closer look at the ground they were running on it was clearly well tread. The ground was flattened to the point that it was practically a dirt road.

It wasn't long before the two hunters arrived at their settlement. Seeing it past the treeline Dexter gained some altitude and flew a little faster. Looking down on the village he could see that it was pretty small. Maybe forty houses at most with a few other buildings that were nicer and probably meant as a public space. There was a wall of stone brick around the village with a few watchtowers as well.

Most of the houses were small. Maybe two to four rooms and a sparse few with a second floor. Most of them were made of wood. The wall was pretty small and thin too. If a man jumped he could probably scale it easily. All in all, the village was poor and probably worked to collect lumber, herbs, and venison. That was more of an educated guess on Dexter's part, however.

More of Dexter's interest were the lights around the village. The guards around the wall and a man in one of the nicer houses had a sort of glowy light surrounding them. It came in different colors of indigo, blue, yellow, white, red, green, and everything in between. At least, from what Dexter could see. There weren't any mixed heterogeneous colors like blue and yellow around. Most of the lights were bright but a few were faded. The faded ones were all tired looking guardsmen in a sparring yard at what looked to be a barracks judging by the guards and training yard.

The people in the town weren't as well dressed as the hunters seen previously. Perhaps the hunters needed specific clothing for carrying traps and ammunition? It seemed likely to Dexter. They hadn't been carrying backpacks except for a quiver. The townspeople wore tanned leather and threadbare cotton. A few men didn't even bother wearing a shirt but they were cutting lumber and looked very sweaty, or boody in the case of the butcher, so it was understandable. If Dexter owned any clothes he wouldn't want them getting so dirty either. Then again, Dexter didn't sweat in the first place so he would be fine.

Looking just a little harder Dexter could see two of the guardsmen sparring. One of them landed a hit and the light of the other diminished significantly. The hit guardsman didn't seem to be hurt despite the sword slash. It seemed that the attack was blocked by the glowy light. Come to think of it, the glowy stuff seemed a lot like aura-wait a minute…

Grimm couldn't see aura normally except for some of the more powerful ones. That took a hundred years at least and Dexter had only lived for about twenty eight in all. Discounting that Dexter had reached the peak of his physical growth even if he was far too young for it. Grimm didn't have any sort of growth peak actually. They were considered fully grown after their first few years because after that growth decreased exponentially.

Dexter had only been two when he had had his soul absorbed with him. That was when his growth stopped. After that he'd only developed his soul and skills. So, logically speaking, Dexter's power was proportionate to his soul. Not his age. This probably led to his ability to see souls and was perhaps the reason for his shapeshifting or at least a part of it.

On one hand this was a good thing. Having the ability to shapeshift was a fantastic ability that others would certainly envy had they known of it. The physical enhancement was also quite useful.

On the other hand Dexter had to actively train his soul unlike most grimm. After a certain point grimm would stop all activity and hibernate. There were only a few cases of this happening since grim often died so Dexter only knew of them because of his queen talking to herself and the instinctual knowledge all grimm had. Other than the hibernation Dexter knew that he was the first of his kind. Grimm didn't have souls. Dexter wasn't even born with his soul. Or, more specifically, Dexter's body wasn't his own. Dexter had long known his body wasn't his first. He'd also realized that he was once a human and he was alright with that.

With the newfound knowledge of aura Dexter was faced with an old problem. What to do. The village seemed interesting enough but Dexter already knew a fair bit about humans from his past life. Also, there was no reason to fight the guards here. All of them were absolutely horrible at swordsmanship or spearsmanship or whatever you cared to name. The colorful looking guard seemed to be a good fight but Dexter was in no mood to fight a dozen guardsmen no matter how weak they were. The real reason was the older man with aura.

The older fellow had a bright and large light surrounding him. This meant he had a potent aura and a lot of it. It wouldn't be a big leap to say he's the local huntsman or a retired one. Even with his hair turned grey the man looked great. He was muscular and broad shouldered with a greatsword on his back. It was odd and somewhat comical to see him buying groceries and carry around a sword of that size. Maybe the youthful appearance was a side effect of aura?

Dexter wouldn't mind fighting a huntsman but the fellow was old and that was scary. Old meant that he had seen action and a lot of it. Besides that there was an instinct in Dexter that said

"STAY THE HELL AWAY! RUN! RUN! RUN! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!"

And Dexter ignored it. The man hadn't seen Dexter flying around and nobody who looked at him thought much of it.

So because of the old huntsman and the multitude of guardsmen Dexter would not be attacking the village.

But now that Dexter had decided what not to do he had to think of what TO do…

Head east a bit more? It was that or Vacuo and Dexter was sure as hell not going to sneak around the village to look for a map. Even if the humans mistake dexter for a weird looking bobcat or dog because of his heterochromia there was no reason to risk it.

So Dexter headed east once more with knowledge gained and none the worse for wear.

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Traveling east was peaceful. Rather than flying Dexter was walking in beowolf form. If there were any grimm native to only the area around northern Vale Dexter wanted to meet them and fight them. Normal Beowolves and boarbatusks and Giant nevermoores were boring now. nevermoores weren't viably killable since Dexter had no ranged attack to speak of so Dexter had to fly up to them as a little nevermoore and shift into a beowolf and tear it's throat out from behind. Deathstalkers were somewhat tough but their stings hurt badly and they were pretty rare. Everything else was too strong for Dexter. So he held out hope for something on his level. Something he could kill somewhat quickly.

So far there hadn't been anything worth mention. A few beowolf packs but they weren't even worth fighting.

At least the scenery was nice. There were a few cliffs, a seemingly infinite amount of trees, and a beautiful river. The river had flowed from north to south and peacefully gurgled across the rocks. Dexter had splashed around for a bit and played with some of the fish.

It was an odd sighting, then, to find two humans arguing with each other. Upon finding them Dexter had slid into his cat form, though it was more of a lynx, really, that he had tortured himself into becoming comfortable with, and slinked into the shade of the trees.

"We can't go! Vacuo isn't safe either! Nowhere is safe!" A woman in sparse armor cried. She had on mostly grey with her blonde hair in a ponytail. A sword was at her hip and a shield on her back.

"And why not? Anywhere is better than Vale right now. Vale, Mantle, and Mistral. They're all dangerous. The war will be brutal. Any fool can see that but Vacuo is neutral ground. It's safe. We can still run." The speaker this time was another woman in blue. She had short hair and wore light leather armor. She also had a bow and a few daggers.

"Because it's our responsibility! We swore our lives to the king! If - if we go to the settlements then we'll be heroes! We'll be doing what we've been trained to do for so long… But what if everything we worked for is just left? We can't leave our family. I can't leave my family."

"Sarah…" The blue one didn't seem to know what to say to that. It was understandable. The blonde one, Sarah, had been pretty fired up but had died down pretty quickly.

"I-... look, I… I can't leave my family. My brother depends on me. My father and mother are so proud of me. I couldn't have ever gotten where I am if I was alone. I couldn't have gotten here without you either. Please… don't make me choose."

Dexter was pretty surprised at such a dramatic moment. He had thought for a moment that he would see some blood spilt but it was a heartfelt moment instead.

"Please, Sarah. Jem is going too. Carmen is supposed to be told tonight. We can all go together! You know Carmen would agree if you asked. The eastern islands are going to be a slaughterhouse soon. We can't go. If your family hear you're dead they'll be shattered. If they hear you're only missing they'll be sad but at least they'll know you're alive. Please, if not for yourself then for me. Please." The woman in blue was really speaking from the heart here. From what Dexter could tell these two and two other people were being assigned to a military hotbox that's going to explode into conflict pretty soon. The blue one wanted to flee to Vacuo, which is neutral, and the grey one wanted to stay and fight for loyalty.

"... No. Camilla, we're heroes. Huntresses. We're here to fight for what's right. What they're doing in Mistral and Mantle. Slavery. Oppression. They can't even paint there, Camilla! The poor people can't do anything. We have to fight just to be ourselves and if not for them then for us. We have to fight."

"Please." The blue girl, Camilla said. There were tears in her eyes now. She practically pushed out the words with how thick with sadness they were. How are there no grimm here?

"I'll make you stay. You have to stay. There's so much we have to do here."

The blue one smiled just a little bit. "Oh?" sniffle "How?"

Sarah smiled and said something words couldn't say. She kissed Camilla.

"Okay, WHAT?!" Dexter was not prepared for that. They didn't really come off as that type... The two girls were getting pretty into it. Dexter had been hoping for blood. Not this. He was getting very uncomfortable watching this but maybe the two will get attacked by some grimm? Maybe? Anything besides making himself feel like a creep?

"Camilla." Sarah panted

Camilla was panting too and looked at Sarah. She was still pinned against the tree.

"Say please."

Dexter ran. He ran FAST.

AN: NO! You can't do this to me! It wasn't porn! I swear! Okay, anyways, have you figured out what the first arc is about? You probably have but if you haven't it's going to be about the great war. Also called the color revolution. I'll be explaining it a bit more later on and adding my own details to it but you can read about it on the RWBY wiki. In the show it's pretty much just trivia but here it really matters.

It's just a small thing right now but I haven't mentioned any mechashift weapons. All the swords are swords and the bows are bows. They aren't a toaster, flamethrower, and jet plane too.

You see, the great war sped up technological progress a lot. There isn't any more information on the technological advancement than that but the way I see it guns are a somewhat new thing. Bows and swords are still common. Guns and vehicles are only available in mass to places of technological advancement such as Mantle.

See, Atlas provided a lot of the technology in the show in my opinion. Holograms, bullheads, airships, AI, and such are being attributed to Atlas advancement by me. Aura has also largely negated the need for range. Who needs a rifle when you can deflect bullets with a freaking forcefield? I'll be going into this more later in the story. Maybe.