A high-intensity explosion of light, equivalent to that of the sun. Burns the flesh of undead and magical entities. Momentarily blinds living and non-magical entities. Sudden magical intensity can cause affected to flee regardless of status.
I think the writing portion went pretty well. If you guys have any tips that can help me improve my writing style or ideas to contribute to the development of the story. Please hit me up with a review. This chapter was more setting up the characters and the lore of the world in general. In this fic, I'm not writing Jaune as a moron because I probably couldn't ever make it work.
This chapter is more of a focus on Jaune than the other characters. While Jaune is an aspiring knight, he is still a teenager and with that... comes teenage drama. I've had to pull whatever awkward teenager that remained inside of me out to make this work (not a large pool to pull from). So I modelled the interactions of the characters to how my friends and I acted in high school. Even though we were in the upper echelon of the social hierarchy. We were kind of weird... almost comical sometimes.
My friends and I were huge dicks to each other back in high school now that I think about it.
Edit Note (12/25/19): Second edit is done. I've pretty much rewritten most of this chapter to make it generally better. I've fixed like 99% of the grammar errors, and now this chapter flows like butter. I've also moved 4,000 of the words from the second half of the chapter to the third one, so I could wrap everything up there.
Jaune and Sun were, thankfully, directed to where the Initiates were supposed to store their bags. It felt weird for the Knight to have to leave his stuff behind. It was almost always at an arm's length or stored in a place he trusted. The boy was left without armour and only a pair of blue trousers and a black shirt. He was practically naked.
It didn't help that Bar was on the frontier of the Valish Kingdom. One of the oldest frontier villages and towns that sprung up near mines or fertile plains. Bandits and monsters were two of the main concerns most cities had since the forest allowed most dangers to move around unobstructed. At least the guards protected the most important sites, but the problem in Beacon was that Jaune had no familiarity with the environment. He knew when something was stalking him out in the woods; however, he couldn't be so sure in a densely packed academy.
Jaune was also still processing the very fresh wound on his ego delivered by the girl in the auditorium. The stuttering didn't help him with his cause, of course, but he couldn't help but feel nervous around girls. Sun and Yang knew about it and, praise the gods for whatever they were worth, didn't see fit to bust his balls over bungling what should have been a simple conversation.
He thought that some divine being exchanged his ability to talk to girls for his dumb luck. That would have been a joke for the ages. Jaune knew his confidence wasn't the issue. He could face down a pack of wolves and not feel anything, but when it came to girls, Jaune turned into a bumbling mess.
"Yo, Jaune," Sun drawled, waving his hand in front of Jaune's face. "Are you still alive, or do I need to get a healer?"
Jaune snapped back to reality. "Y-Yeah," he stuttered, before taking a breath to calm himself. "I was just... I was just thinking about that girl from earlier..." The boy sighed loudly. "I don't think I've ever seen someone so... perfect! And I screwed up any chance I had with her!"
"Screwed up," was putting it nicely.
However, Jaune still didn't know why Sun stuck around after the speech. The two really had no business together, and the Knight wasn't pleased by his actions earlier. The incident in the market coming back to bite the faunus was something to laugh about, in retrospect. Yet, Jaune's low opinion of the other boy didn't change due to that fact.
Jaune expected Sun to wander off and go find some friends of his own. But, he seemed to have some sort of inclination to stick around. The reason the Knight confided with the Rogue about his girl troubles was also beyond Jaune.
"Don't feel too bad, Jaune," Sun consoled the Knight, tucking his arms behind his head. "She was already in a bad mood. Nobody saw it until we were too late... but you shouldn't worry about it!"
That only partially helped lift his mood. The circumstances were purely against Jaune. Maybe he would run into her after Initiation?
"Yeah," Jaune agreed begrudgingly. "Unlike how you were worrying about your stolen coin purse..."
The snarky comment came out of nowhere, merely flying from Jaune's lips without thought. He made his stance on what happened earlier but felt the need to reinforce his verdict.
"Ouch," Sun hissed, rubbing his chest. "Low blow dude."
Jaune rolled his eyes at Sun's assertion. It was nowhere near low to criticise someone else for stealing something from another person. Even if the item of value was minimal, Jaune still didn't see it as right. Yet, the Knight couldn't criticise Sun beyond that as he was not the most morally upright person either. Jaune, more or less, found it annoying.
"Not really... You're lucky Ruby didn't get the chance to rip into you," Jaune continued, still holding his neutral tone. "She would have just made you feel bad."
As Jaune knew Ruby now, she seemed to just be a good person. Add what he had already seen onto how the red-head reacted to the white-haired girl, and you would have a lecture that would have made you disappointed in yourself. The same thing coming from somebody like Yang or Jaune wouldn't have the same effect.
"Hey, man," Sun held up his hands while trying to explain himself. "I've already paid my dues to society. Besides, I'm from Vacuo, we see things a little differently down there."
Hmm, he seems genuine about it.
"Really," Jaune questioned, raising an eyebrow.
Jaune knew Vacuo was the least organised kingdom out of the big four. They had no centralised government aside from the city-state of Shade. Yet, the entire region was probably the most impoverished and deserted place on the planet apart from the lone seat of power.
"Yeah, to us, an apple doesn't mean anything," Sun explained, pulling out the apple he had stolen earlier and used it as an example. "Most of them are going to go bad anyway. So... vendors in Vacuo will give their leftover food to poor kids. Guys in Vale just feed yesterday's bread to the pigs. You feel me? I only took what was going to be thrown out."
I didn't think about it that way... But, I'm not sure about the logic behind it.
Sun had a point about the food being thrown out. Jaune witnessed bakers and even his own family feeding old fruits and vegetables to the livestock, so they could get something out of the expired food. Yet, Jaune still didn't see stealing as wholly right, but he expected his notions of what was right and wrong to be challenged here in Vale. Especially when there was justification for it. Even if the argument was rather poor.
"I see," Jaune said, rubbing his hand along his jaw.
"Now, you're speaking my lingo," Sun exclaimed, turning to push open the set of doors before them.
Pushing the hatch open, the Knight and Rogue were greeted to a massive room filled with hundreds of other Initiates. Small groups had formed, with many segregating themselves to mono-gender groups. Some groups had separated themselves by class with Rogues, Warriors, and Mages staying as far away from each other as possible. Class and racial rivalries were the prime cause of the strife.
Even if Jaune was in the out-group when it came to his view on Classes; most of Remnant didn't see it the same way. Jaune just didn't give a shit about Class, only character. However, due to stereotypes and preconceived notions of other Class members, heroes and even ordinary villagers would often assume the worst. Not without reason, of course.
Jaune walked past a small group of girls next to the door. When he and his companion passed by, the girls quickly huddled together in hushed conversation. Sun noticed this, shooting a glance and smile to the group only to receive blushes and giggling in response. A bit cliche, but considering Jaune's fellow man was, objectively, quite attractive, there was no point in thinking about it any further.
This room was just a cesspool of teenage hormones, anyway. Quite a few of Jaune's peers may be looking for companionship or perusing the available options.
In realising that, Jaune couldn't help but feel people were watching him from the sidelines. It was enough to give him chills.
Don't think about it too much Jaune. Nobody is going to bother with you...
As both men kept wandering through the crowds looking for a spot to sit down. Jaune noticed the white-haired girl, and she noticed Jaune. The girl was mingling amongst a group of robed figures who Jaune could only assume were mages or... cultists. Jaune was going with the former. The moment the two laid eyes on each other, she began glaring daggers at the boy. He considered going over there to talk to her and apologise for earlier, but getting incinerated by mages was not something he wanted at the moment. He couldn't help but feel she hated his guts right now and the room had grown a few degrees colder.
Ok, don't want to stick my hand into the viper's nest...
Jaune turned away to find Ruby waving like a madwoman from across the room. He waved back, heading over to the girls to join them since they were the only people he knew here. Yang made a crack about something, and Ruby quickly sat down, her face turning bright red. Jaune could only assume it was something outrageously vulgar and embarrassing considering his older sisters made any and every effort to tease him around any female friends he made.
That's what life was like for the middle sibling of the family. His youngest sisters were too young to be interested in boys leaving Jaune to be the one getting harassed by his family members. Jaune's twin, Joan, and younger sister, Cereza, were the least relenting in their quest to embarrass him.
"Hey, Ruby. Hey, Yang," Jaune greeted the sisters. He noticed another girl among the siblings.
This girl was stunningly beautiful, very much like Yang. Both having similar filled-out body types, yet, the new girl's musculature was more prominent. By more prominent, meaning more vividly defined. Deep angular lines crisscrossed her smooth tanned skin, marking where the muscles rose and fell into her figure. With every movement, striations appeared momentarily on her skin, revealing how much she trained and how little body fat this girl had.
However, what first brought Jaune's attention to the girl was her hair. A brilliant scarlet red. Done up into a long wolf tail kept tied high above her head. The long flowing sea of red came down just below her hips. Jaune could only imagine if the girl had untied her locks and let it fall freely.
Sitting just below her hair and weaving through it was a circlet. Gold most likely if Jaune had to make his guess. Two teardrop-shaped emeralds dangled from the circlet, bringing attention to her eyes. Her eyes were probably her most notable feature aside from that scarlet mane. Such a deep emerald ocean that Jaune nearly found himself getting lost inside of.
"Hey, Jaune," Ruby excited chirped. She turned to the other girl, "This is Pyrrha. She's super cool!"
So, Pyrrha is her name...
"Hello~," Pyrrha politely greeted almost in a sing-song tone.
Hearing her voice, only served to draw Jaune in even further. It was such a pleasant sound to hear. Like a chorus of angels emanating from inside of a living person.
Yang looked up as Jaune stood over the group, and her mouth dropped. "Holy shit, Jaune," she exclaimed loud enough to garner attention from a neighbouring group. "When were you going to tell us you were packing."
Without warning, she stood and promptly pulled Jaune's shirt up showcasing his abs causing Ruby and Pyrrha to flush while Yang wolf-whistled. Two scars crossing his abs also were revealed as the girls stared at his abdomen. Another whistle also rang through the air, although nobody could tell where it came from.
And Yang ruined it...
"Hey-hey-hey," Jaune fought, taking his shirt back as his cheeks turned bright red. "I wear a shirt for a reason! Leave it be!" He quickly sat down while the undeniable chuckle from Sun ceased. It was another case of him being nervous around girls and an unusually direct one at that.
"Mama likey," Yang said with a toothy grin, directed at Jaune.
Jaune was in relatively good shape. He may not have been enormous, but he had muscle. Muscle gained from doing farmwork and blacksmithing for the last seven years. Combine that with a proper diet and most kids would become a colossus by the time they reach adulthood. However, Yang diving onto him like a dog would to steak was something he had never experienced.
"I gots to see the goods, Jaune," Yang countered, causing Jaune to imitate Ruby's cloak. She leaned in, facing the boy. "I liked what I saw."
Both of Jaune's cheeks began to resemble Ruby's cloak. Oh, boy... this is not how I expected my day to go. I can't tell if she's teasing me or flirting.
Sun laughed out loud again at the scene playing out before him. "Wow, I'm jealous," he said in a sarcastic tone. "How come I'm not getting all this attention?" His question dragged Yang's focus off of Jaune and over to the faunus.
"Ehh," Yang uttered her opinion, giving a so-so gesture. "You're buff, but you show it off, so the surprise kind of goes out the window. However, Jauney Boy was something unexpected." She turned over to face him again. "I totally took you for being a string bean under that armour. You holding out on us?!"
What is that supposed to mean? A twinge of fear shot through Jaune's very core.
"Yang, will you leave my friend alone; you're going to break him," Ruby barked at her sister, getting a raspberry blown at her in return. The red-head adjusted her posture, sitting between Jaune and Yang. "Besides... are you guys ready for tomorrow!"
Ruby's change of tone from serious to excited seemed to bring everyone back into focus. The others started gathering around in a circle, sitting down with their blankets or sleeping bags. A few other groups in the general area followed suit with their friends.
"I hope I get something fun!" Sun plopped down between Yang and Pyrrha. "A den of monsters or a dungeon run would be cool."
That sounds fun... I haven't really seen any monsters outside of town. But a dungeon? How can I get something like that?
"Yeah, I'm hoping for something interesting too," Jaune agreed, keeping the conversation going. "Maybe some magic or a hunting a chort."
Chort's were large bulky quadrupedal creatures boasting large fore-limbs like an ape. According to Jaune's father's bestiary, they inhabited the woodlands of Vale and Mistral; coming in a variety of colours from light brown to dark grey. These monsters were unstoppable when they got into a charge and would use their horns to demolish buildings or skewer their unfortunate victims.
Pyrrha finally spoke up. "I don't mean to offend, but don't you think a chort is far beyond our level?"
"Only when we fight alone," Jaune retorted, pointing over at the girl. "My dad said the trick to fighting chort's is you need to work in groups. Some of you kiting it and others tanking swipes. Then someone with a silver sword or knife stabs it to slowly bleed it out. You can also go after the eyes and blind it, but you need a marksman that can hit something the size of apple attached to a bucking bull."
Jaune knew this because he made sure to study every available book on monsters. Every diagram of their physiology - fighting strategies - anything that he could find. He would end up becoming the most unconventional knight on Remnant, but he would have quite the repertoire to give to any king or lord he chose to serve. Monsters were quite the problem both in and out of the kingdoms, even within the capital cities you could find some sort of beast stalking the back alleys of docks or the poorer districts. So lords would pay handsomely to remove monsters that threatened their families or property.
"Sounds like fun," Yang hopped on the wagon. "Rubes said you're like a monster hunter or something? Fought a vampire..." A pregnant pause followed. "Now that you mention it. Ruby seemed to overly excited in regaling me with the details of your tale. That seems awfully suspicious after you just met her." Yang looked to her sister and started wiggling her eyebrows. The Reaper tried fixing her older sister with a glare only to find out the Brawler was immune to it. Jaune found another blush creeping up his cheeks.
"By the way, Jaune, what is your level," Yang asked, out of genuine curiosity and a way to get off topic and spare Ruby. "I'm level twenty!" Yang held her fists out in a boxer's stance. Yang seemed as though she were proud of her level. It was something to be proud of since she was twice his level.
"I'm... level ten," Jaune said hesitantly, wincing in anticipation. His level was something he had been embarrassed about. In comparison to two of his friends so far, Jaune had been wholly eclipsed by them in sheer power. He didn't want to be seen as weak or in need of protection.
"Eh, not that bad," Sun followed up, shrugging his shoulders.
"I agree, actually," Pyrrha, said, gesturing with her hands. "The academies give lots of opportunities for adventurers to level up quickly. I'm sure most of us have been training for several years now?" She looked around at the others, and they gave their confirmation. Jaune did as well, shutting up and hearing what she had to say. "With the higher level enemies we may have to deal with, you could certainly catch up to everyone else in a few months or even a few weeks. However, given that your level is low, you might actually have an advantage over us."
"How," Ruby asked, scooting forward to hear Pyrrha's theory.
I'm curious too...
"You will be used to challenges and not underestimating your opponents," she explained. "In Mistral, we have warriors fight monsters beyond their capabilities to teach discipline. They always have to be careful and never make mistakes, or they die." She glanced around the circle once. "That's how we get young but very experienced warriors. They are usually younger than we are, but most students here won't have the same level of training."
"So, I'll just be used to getting the crap kicked out of me and get stronger because of that," Jaune asked with a slightly rhetorical tone.
"In a manner..."
Yang let out a loud snort. "Well, Jaune..." She smacked the top of his back. "Get through this Initiation with us, and we'll make a man out of you yet!"
"I'm not a man?"
"Eh..." Yang shrugged her shoulders, giving him a so-so answer. "Boyish good looks, but just needs some polishing."
[The next morning]
Jaune couldn't help but feel like shit when he woke up. The floor was not a forgiving being, and it was a far-cry from Jaune's own bed. It could have also been the ale from yesterday coming back to haunt him. However, good ol' feeling of malaise made itself quite known.
Opening his eyes, Jaune was gifted with the startling sight of Yang sleeping about an inch from his face.
Like Jaune, Yang was also sleeping on her side. One of her arms was draped over her head, and the other acted as a pillow. Her expression remained unstirred as Jaune moved to back away. Actually, it was still peaceful and seemingly well-rested. Only a small strand of Yang's hair was out of place, touching the corner of her mouth. The rest spilt out from under her and pretty much went everywhere it wanted to.
Jaune would have been excited about falling asleep next to a girl like Yang. Any guy with half a brain would be. She was a gorgeous young woman who pretty much checked off every possible box. However, Jaune found this to be extremely awkward.
Aside from his own sisters, this was probably the closest he had ever come to cuddling with a girl. So, finding himself in such close proximity to a nonrelated girl was a first. It made Jaune's cheeks flush a deep red, and he almost let out a yelp in surprise as his brain fully caught up.
As Jaune took a second to figure out what happened, he realised it seemed as though Yang had rolled over in her sleep. She and Jaune did have their sleeping bags right next to each other with about a foot separating the two. Tossing and turning was usual in uncomfortable sleeping arrangments after all. Yang had also slept facing away from him.
Ok, time to escape...
He pushed himself off the ground, making sure as to not disturb Yang. Jaune did not want to get clobbered by the blonde if she thought he was trying to make a move on her. It would also make him look bad in front of Ruby and the others, which Jaune preferred not to come about.
He actually liked these people. They were far more interesting than the other kids back in Bar. But for now, he needed to prepare for his day. Jaune could connect with his new friends later.
Looking around, Jaune took a quick scan of the room to see if anybody else had awoken. Most were still asleep with only one or two others sitting up from the floor. It was early, so Jaune expected that not many would be so willing to rise. The Initiation wasn't supposed to start for another hour or two.
"Hey, Jaune," a soft voice spoke up from below him.
Jaune looked down and to his right to find Ruby sitting up in her sleeping bag. The younger girl rubbed her right eye, letting out a yawn telling Jaune of her condition. Her ruffled hair and bags under her eyes, giving credence for Ruby's still sleepy state.
"Did I wake you up," Jaune replied with an answer.
Ruby shook her head. "Nah," she said groggily. "I didn't feel like getting up. I just heard you moving around.
"I see..." Jaune turned to the entrance of the ballroom. Ruby noticed, shooting up onto her feet. "I'm going to get dressed, I'll meet you guys back here in a few minutes. Then we can start looking for a quest!"
"Yeah, I gotta get Yang up," Ruby replied, shedding off the grogginess in favour of some pep. "We'll find you in the courtyard!"
Opening the door to his locker, Jaune reached inside, grabbing every piece of his kit. He wasn't sure what sort of adventure he would be in for today, so he was going to take everything with him. Much of it may not have been suited for battle, however, if this adventure took more than a day, his equipment would come in handy.
Jaune slid into his breastplate, buckling the straps connecting the steel to a leather pad on his back. It fit snugly with the little space left filled by his gambeson, acting as a buffer. The other pads and pauldrons were held on by their own buckles, which Jaune fastened appropriately.
Both of his swords, bound together by an improvised harness, were thrown over his shoulder with an additional leather strap connecting them to his belt. They moved around freely, needing to so Jaune could resheathe them without any difficulty. Aside from the position, both would behave like any normal one strapped to man's side.
Ok, I've got everything. Pot. Check. Knives? Jaune reached down to his side, finding his kukri to be there. Another hunting knife sat on the back of his waist. Got em. Blanket, oil, whetstone, potions are all here.
I think I've got everything. Time to find Ruby...
"Arc," a voice spoke up from behind Jaune. Her tone was bitter, holding a biting chill to it that made the boy's skin crawl.
Jaune turned around to find the white-haired girl from yesterday standing behind him. She store wore that same annoyed expression, yet, it remained stifled for the moment. There wasn't any emotion there. Maybe it was her default expression?
What the hell is she doing here?
"Oh... it's you again," Jaune said, unsure of what to say. Actually, he was quite surprised that she sought him out.
The girl's eyes narrowed slightly. "And what's that supposed to mean," she asked, bearing a harsh tone. She obviously took some offence to it.
"Uh... nothing," Jaune explained. "I just didn't think I would run into you again." He rubbed the back of his head, nervously. "You seemed pretty angry with me back in the auditorium."
Jaune wasn't sure why she was angry. However, he had a feeling the girl was going to tell him. Given her temper, Jaune wasn't sure what to expect.
"I see..." The girl took in a deep breath. "...then I should apologise," she confessed forcibly, making it seem like she didn't want to be here. "I let an unrelated matter affect how I behaved. It led me to mistreat you... For that... I am sorry." She turned away from him, looking towards the ground. Both of her cheeks slightly darkened.
Uhhh, she looks adorable with that face... I can't let her take the blame for this. It's my fault too.
"It's cool," Jaune said, bringing a hand up to the back of his neck. The girl glanced up at him with a confused look. "I mean... You looked sad. Kinda lonely... I guess. It was probably a bad time for me to show up. I didn't think it through."
"You did nothing wrong," the girl replied with a little more force. She was beginning to become angry at Jaune. Nearly shouting. "I just apologised and said it had nothing to do with you! I took my anger out on you when I shouldn't have. Don't think you can take any blame in this, Arc!" She walked up to him, poking Jaune in the chest. The girl pronounced every syllable, making sure Jaune understood. "You were trying to be nice! So, accept the apology!"
Jaune held up his hands, showing his surrender. He backed up a step to give some distance between them. Her speech didn't help to make him feel any better, but it was actually becoming funny. She was too cute to be intimidating to Jaune.
"Ok, ok," Jaune broke under the pressure, purposely giving the girl her victory. "I get it... Just couldn't help but blame myself. Thanks for coming to talk to me anyway. It took a weight off my chest."
The girl shifted back a foot from Jaune, crossing her arms. She glanced up at the boy, seemingly inspecting him for some reason. Her expression indicated she was deep in thought.
"It's fine," the girl sighed, turning her gaze away from Jaune and to an adjacent door. She took another deep breath. "However, I have a question for you..."
She's actually talking to me!
Jaune froze up again now that Weiss seemed more open to him. Whatever Ruby said, if she spoke to Weiss, might have changed her mind about Jaune. His hands felt clammy, beginning to sweat a little bit. The mood itself took a more serious turn. Jaune could have cut it with a knife.
"You claim to be a vampire slayer," she asked for clarification.
"Yeah," Jaune answered. "I'm a Knight, but I hunt monsters, and I've killed a vampire too."
"I see," the girl pondered, cupping her chin. She looked back up to Jaune, staring him in the eye. "Then you know how to deal with undead then?" She turned and began walking out of the locker room. Jaune followed behind with his bag in tow.
Jaune wasn't sure if she was talking about a specific type or the garden variety of undead beings. Zombies, mummies, spirits, or anything that crawls out of a crypt usually counts. Bar had plenty because of some of the older settlements that had large graveyards.
"Of course," Jaune replied confidently. "Silver sword, fire, and a good axe are all I needed! Dismembering is usually the easiest way to kill them, though. In my hometown, we burn our dead, so we don't have that problem. But, just taking off the head's usually enough..."
"Silver sword?" The girl stopped, turning around to face Jaune. They ended up in another hallway away from prying eyes.
"Yep... Made it myself!"
The girl took a deep breath. "Then I suppose I can use you," she concluded. "So, bring whatever people you like. I will be waiting in the main hall." Without giving Jaune the time to reply, she walked off, heading towards another hallway.
"Wait, for the Task," Jaune shouted to the fleeting image of the girl.
"Yes, you dunce," she shouted back. "What else would I be talking about?!"
Heading back into the ballroom, Jaune found what could only be described as chaos. Hundreds of students were walking about, attempting to gather their sleeping mats or were just sitting around and talking. Jaune didn't know how he was going to find Ruby and the others in this mess.
The girl coming to find him was an excellent way to start his day. Jaune was relieved he hadn't done anything to anger her. Having a Task for him to bring all of his friends along was even better. Although he didn't get her name.
Dammit... That's the one thing I forgot! Why didn't I ask?
"Yo, Jaune," a voice called out to him from behind. Jaune turned to find that Sun was making his way through the crowd. "There you are, dude. Ruby asked me to go find you."
Sun kept walking past, going out the door. Jaune followed behind, getting to an area with less noise. Some other students were out in the hallway, but they were trying to find their lockers or running to grab food.
"Some girl grabbed everybody for a Task," he explained. "Gathering stuff or something like that. Literally, it is the easiest thing we could do to get into Beacon."
It sounded very tempting. However, Jaune wasn't all for abandoning the girl after she recruited him. Blowing her off would be a great way to ensure she never wanted to speak with him again.
"Yeah..." Jaune said, rubbing the back of his head. "That girl from yesterday came to talk to me. She wants me to help her with a Task. Something dealing with the undead."
"Damn, that sounds like way more fun," Sun declared cheerfully. "Count me in! I've already got my stuff, so when are we leaving?"
"Now." Jaune turned and began heading off to the main hall. "We'll tell Ruby on the way out."
"After you, then..."
The great hall of Beacon academy was a massive open structure. The ceiling was at least one hundred feet high, held up by arches. Over a dozen created this large rib vault, holding up the roof. Between each arch was a large stained glass window, depicting a battle or another historical even. It resembled any Gothic-style building, only on a larger scale than the rest of the cities' buildings.
Holy shit, this place is huge!
Jaune had not had the chance to take in this sight before now. He had been dragged inside the auditorium by Yang, so this went unnoticed. However, now without any distractions, he found this room to be very interesting. Almost inspiring in a way. Jaune was in the footsteps of probably thousands of other adventurers who came before him.
"Hello," another voice called out to Jaune impatiently.
Jaune looked down to see the girl standing a few feet from him. A haughty expression on her face. She waved once more, realising that Jaune was now paying attention to her.
"Are you two done gawking," the girl asked again. Jaune's posture stiffened unconsciously. "We have a Task to attend to, and I would like to begin as soon as possible."
"Jeez, this girl is really pushy," Sun whispered under his breath. It was loud enough for Jaune to hear, and he agreed. "Kind of acts like a princess..."
"Yeah..." Jaune turned to Sun, ignoring what he said, but realised he didn't know the girl's name. He couldn't possibly introduce the two without it. "Um... I never got your name."
"Weiss," she said, lacking any enthusiasm whatsoever. "Weiss Schnee."
"Yeah, Weiss," Jaune turned back to Sun. "Sun Wukong. Met him yesterday. Decided to join our merry band when he heard about the undead."
"I see," Weiss replied, looking rather unenthused. "What about the rest of your group? The bimbo and her little sister?"
Jaune had to hold his tongue at that. He may have only known Yang for a day, but it still irked him to have one of his friends called such a derogatory term. However, Jaune wasn't sure of Weiss' background, so she may not have meant it in such a way. So, he would bite his tongue for now.
"Yang and Ruby," Jaune corrected, emphasising their names and not the labels Weiss had given them. "Those two and Pyrrha got recruited to another Task, so we're all you've got..."
Weiss let out a stiff breath of air. "Fine then," she acquiesced, looking back up to Sun and Jaune. "You two..." She pointed towards the boys. "...will be escorting me through some ruins. We will be making some rubbings from deep within the structure, so expect-"
"Your majesty, if I may interrupt," Sun began in a patronising tone. Without seeking permission, he just continued. "If we join you. What's in it for us? For me? And for my comrade? I hear we're going to be looking through some ruins, so I'm expecting some treasure."
Jaune would have stopped Sun from interrupting, but it was already done. He and Weiss already had an uneasy relationship going, so Jaune didn't want to hurt it.
However, the mission being set inside of some ruins made things interesting. Jaune did expect there to be treasure too, especially if the ruins were untouched. It also depended on what the ruins were initially intended to be. So, they could be walking into a goldmine.
A soft grunt came from within her throat. "You two may have whatever you want from within the crypt," Weiss conceded. "If you find anything that contains magic, please let me see it."
"What, you don't trust us with magic," Sun retorted, to Weiss' growing annoyance.
Sun... Shut the fuck up!
"No... because I'm a mage and would prefer that my escorts didn't kill themselves," Wess explained, kneading the bridge of her nose. "Magic is a fickle thing and should only be handled by mages."
"Oh, she does care about you, Jaune," Sun quipped, padding the top of Jaune's shoulder. Weiss' cheeks became dusted with a light red coating. "You can carry the Lady Mage's bags!" The faunus walked off, heading towards the front door.
A Knight, Mage, and a Rogue made an interesting party composition. Mages are almost useless in close quarters, relying on a substantial distance between them and their targets to effectively cast spells. If a swordsman or assassin were to close the space, they would have no way to defend themselves unless trained as a spellsword. Thus most mages employ an escort, or a melee fighter would make a deal and work together with a mage. Sun and Jaune would be perfect for both offence and defence in this case. The former could move around the battlefield freely, and Jaune could sit by Weiss' side as she used her magic to tear apart their enemies.
"I don't need someone to carry my bags," Weiss grumbled. "I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself!"
"Your majesty," Sun began, walking back over to Jaune's side. He placed a hand on his counterpart's shoulder. "My friend here is, 'Strong like bull.' And let's be honest here, Mages are not strong, like at all. Weak Strength Stats and all that good stuff. So, let us do the heavy lifting because we'll need you to be well-rested if we get into a fight."
"I got it, Weiss," Jaune agreed, lifting both his and Weiss' bags over his shoulder.
Sun went outside, leaving Weiss and Jaune alone among the hundreds of other students. It left the two in an awkward silence over what to say next; Jaune too nervous to say anything. Not that he could start a conversation with the girl at all. He barely knew what Weiss could be interested in aside from maybe something dealing with magic.
"Is your friend always like this," Weiss asked, annoyance still permeating her voice.
"He's very straightforward," Jaune said with a nervous laugh. "Y-You'll get used to it. Sun kind of grows on you." He looked around for a way out of the conversation. "We should go find him before he gets bored and looks for another group. I also got to go find Ruby and tell her where we're going..."
"They passed by a few minutes ago," Weiss explained.
Jaune followed Weiss out of the main hall and into the courtyard. Sun had actually been waiting just outside the door as if he had left the two alone purposely. Which, Jaune didn't know if he was happy about it or terrified at the prospect of being abandoned. However, looking around, Jaune could not see Ruby or any other member of their group.
Damn... Must have missed them.
"So Weiss, what are we looking for in this crypt," Sun asked, pushing himself off the wall he had been leaning against. "I know you said we are making rubbings, but I want more details."
Good, this is something I can get behind. I can actually talk about something serious with her. No small talk at all.
"The name of the ruins is unknown, but the glyphs we are looking for are in the deepest chamber." Weiss pulled a scroll from her satchel and presented it to Sun. "The ruins are old enough that we might run into draugr."
"Draugr," Sun repeated, looking at Weiss and then Jaune. "Never heard of them..."
"Undead warriors," Jaune explained. " They're not like normal undead that just comes back to life from disease or having been wronged in this life. Nobody knows why they come back to life. Some think it's magic or they never really died in the first place."
Draugr were some of the most dangerous creatures Jaune's dad encountered. The bestiaries described them as undead humans with no connection to the living except for pseudo-sapient intelligence. All of the oldest Valish ruins are filled with several dozens to hundreds of Draugr.
"I don't care about what they are," Sun scoffed, rolling his eyes. "I want to know how to kill them."
"You really are a brute aren't you," Weiss seethed as she took the scroll away from Sun. "Knowing what a monster is, happens to be just as important as killing it." She turned to Jaune, giving him an approving nod.
"They can be killed by normal means," Jaune continued. "However, draugr are extremely dangerous. They can coordinate attacks, play dead, and can use magic. The best way to kill Draugr is by using silver or fire magic."
"Oooooo, I can do that very well," Sun excitedly proclaimed, grabbing his bo staff with both hands. He added a little bit of pressure and the stick snapped in half at one of the metal bands wrapped around the shaft. The two new sections broke apart into two solid cylinders held together by chains made from an orange light. This magic hissed like a piece of metal being cooled by water. The final result of the new weapon was two separate nunchucks. "Ruyi Bang, and Jingu Bang. Both enchanted with fire magic. Runes on the ends make sure I don't have to replenish the enchantments. So, I think we've got this covered..."
"Good," Jaune pulled his silver sword out and showed it to Weiss. She glanced at the sword but didn't seem as interested in it as Ruby. "I can use my ability and Ira Rubrum to hold a line. If you guys want to use magic to control the flow of battle-we can sail through this ruin. Most passages in ruins are only two people wide, and I can stuff myself in the middle."
Jaune thought it was a great idea. An impromptu phalanx with Jaune's high strength with Sun using his bo staff like a spear. Taking advantage of magic and Arclight would leave the draugr helpless for Ira Rubrum to sever limbs.
"We need more people," Weiss advised, cutting into the conversation. "If draugr are as dangerous as Jaune says. The three of us won't be able to-"
"Four now," a young woman from the side chimed in. "I want in too."
She was leaning against one of the pillars in the central courtyard. Half of her face was covered under a black hood. The rest of the outfit was monochromatic with black knee-high boots, trousers, formfitting leather cuirass, and shoulder pads. She carried several weapons. A katana on her back, a bow and quiver, and a belt of throwing knives attached to her chest. "You might want this back."
She threw Sun 's missing coin purse, which he caught in his right hand. The boy's expression shifted to a confused one as he inspected the leather bag. Small clinking sounds emanated from the sack as he felt the weight.
"Might I ask why I am getting this back?"
"I was teaching you a lesson," she explained. "Stealing small stuff like apples makes you look like an amateur. It's also an excellent way to get yourself killed, wasting your talent on marks that are not worth the time." She lifted up her hood to reveal her face. Surprisingly, she was a faunus. Two cat ears jutted out from the top of her black mane. Her hair was like Yang's, yet shorter, falling down halfway on her back. A cold stare from her amber eyes scanned each of the teens before her in stark contrast to her attractiveness, creating an air of mystery oozing with grace.
Jaune looked over to Sun whose cheeks, for the first time that he saw, flushed a dark crimson. Jaune would have busted out laughing if he hadn't been the same around Weiss.
"You cannot be considering letting her come with us," Weiss shouted in outrage at Jaune. "She's a-a-a-a thief! She could backstab us at any moment!" Sun looked as though he would step in and shut Weiss down, but Jaune intervened.
"Breaking into ancient ruins and letting us take treasure makes us thieves, Weiss," Jaune retorted. "She managed to steal lien from Sun! That makes her more than qualified to join us!" Jaune was finding it hard to comprehend a reason why she didn't want a thief on their team. He didn't have any issues with... whatever her name was.
"Yeah," Sun agreed. "My Class might not be 'Thief.' But I am one. There ain't nothing I can't steal. So, why not use two."
"I also read the scroll over your shoulder and know all of the details for the Task," the woman spoke up in a cold, and deadly serious tone. "Whether you like it or not, I'll be joining the three of you." The two women stared at each other for several seconds in suppressed anger. Jaune could have sworn he'd seen lightning bolts shooting between them. "I'm also an assassin, Mage. So, I think you've got bigger things to worry about other than your coin purse."
As those words left the girl's mouth, Weiss' body tensed up. Her expression went from neutral to barely hidden anger. Jaune could see the present fear behind her eyes. He was afraid the girl might go for her sword.
"Fine," Weiss snapped, turning around and stomping out to the middle of the courtyard.
What was that about?
As Weiss reached the centre of the courtyard, she pulled a purple crystal from her bag and fumbled it between her hands. For what seemed like ages, the girl tried to activate the crystal to no avail. With every failed attempt, Weiss seemed to be getting angrier.
"Why isn't this thing working," Weiss shouted at the crystal, seemingly unable to figure it out. Jaune didn't either, so he kept his mouth shut.
"Maybe you should just smash it," Sun suggested in all his glory.
"You dolt, you just don't smash anything like this!"
"Yeah you do," Sun asserted, taking the crystal from Weiss. "It's a teleportation magicon. You break the crystal, and it opens a portal. Like this!" He smashed the crystal on the ground, opening up a swirling vortex. You could not see the other side, there was only a black abyss before them. "My master showed how these things work."
The black-haired girl was the first to step up to the portal. She turned around, glancing at Sun and Jaune. "I'm Blake." Without allowing for a reply, she stepped inside, disappearing into the void.
Weiss followed right after. Jaune was about to step inside but found himself unable to. He wasn't sure why, but every alarm inside his body went off, preventing him from taking that first step.
"Don't tell me you're afraid of portals?!"
"I've never done anything like this before!"
"Just get in there!"
With a hard shove, Jaune was thrown through the void into the other side.
Jaune came out on the other side of the vortex, landing on his stomach. As he lay there on the ground, Jaune felt this sensation of nausea creep upon him. It wasn't too long before he regurgitated the contents of his stomach onto the dirt laying in front of him.
"Ugghhh, why did we have to do that," Jaune groaned after he vomited again. "I think it's official, I hate portals."
"You actually handle portals a lot better than some other people," Weiss complimented. "For your first time, you should have passed out. Vomiting is actually good."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Jaune groaned as he felt another retch coming up.
That's chapter two!