So, my brother got Ark. That's my only excuse.

We were battling the hellscape known as Abberation. We finally got to the red zone and are trying to snag some rock drake eggs.


"Succubi and their male counterpart, the Incubi, are a relatively harmless species on Remnant. Commonly found in brothels or isolated woods adjacent to villages, they are nearly indistinguishable from humans and only reveal themselves to those sensitive to magic or prey. 'Prey' being a misnomer for an individual who they find carrying a wealth of magical energy in their bodies. They do not prey on a man or woman like a wolf or bandit. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a person who could tell you of a succubus raising a hand to a human or faunus. How they 'hunt' and derive additional sustenance is through the act of sex.

Young men and women may seek out the services of these shapeshifters to play out their fantasies or tend to their needs. Capable of taking on any humanoid form, they can perfectly mimic a person down to their micro-expressions and mannerisms. Through these guises and the help of pheromones, the monster can woo a person into willingly submitting themselves to a night of debauchery where the subject will have a portion of their latent magical energy extracted, much like a vampire feasting on blood. This energy is necessary for their continued health and allows them to take on an everyday life like any other person.

The more active succubi will target young men or women in their early twenties or late teens for their virility, especially if they show magical prowess. With their ability to innately understand the target's desires, the shapeshifters can determine who would be a suitable candidate for a visit.

What comes next is often varied. They're much like humans in that regard. Each is different in their own way. Picking up a person in a bar or visiting them at night to plead their case have been reported in the past." Sun read aloud as he sat on a nearby cobblestone wall.

Jaune and the rest of the party gathered in an adjacent grassy field to train. The Paladin and Pyrrha sparred as the group went over a bestiary detailing what monster visited Jaune a few nights ago. Yang watched the pair fight, refereeing the match and not paying much attention to the reading.

The quick fight ended with Jaune knocking Pyrrha to the floor as he got in close. The boy took advantage of his size and strength to bulldoze the girl before she could leap back into spear range. His thicker armour blocked the few jabs she got in as the boy charged her.

"You're still slow, Pyr," Yang commented as Pyrrha got laid flat on the ground. "So are you, Jaune."

Pyrrha pushed herself off the ground, breathing heavily with a deep rasp in her throat. Her face was bright red and dripping sweat. "I know..." The girl took another breath, leaning on her spear to support her weight. "I still feel so out of it."

Hmmm...

"My leg's pretty bad, too," Jaune added, shaking his wounded thigh. "It's killing me."

The blade had sunk in pretty much entirely through his middle thigh. It wasn't long enough to skewer him completely, but the pain Jaune felt would have been the same. Everyone was forced to hold him down while Harriet and Weiss pulled the knife out with proper potions and a generous serving of whiskey to numb him.

"You took a near-fatal wound, Ms Nikos," Winter chimed in, standing with the party. "Don't feel pressured, and take the time to recover. Soon you should be in shape." She turned to Jaune. "Mr Arc, you, however, do not have that excuse. For a paladin at your level, a knife to the leg should not be of any consequence. I expect one-hundred and fifty per cent from you."

I know... I'm watching your sister's back. I gotta be better than everyone.

"Working through it..."

"I'm still surprised that succubus managed to get past you, Jaune," Blake spoke up, reading a book in the shade. "If those brands can detect a vampire, they should have noticed her."

Not my finest moment...

"Lapse in judgement," Jaune replied in a strained tone, pulling his leg back to stretch. "Plus, I'm a single guy starved for affection. What do you expect when a girl comes up to me and tells me she likes me? I got backed into a corner... Plus, the pheromones probably kept me from noticing."

A beautiful girl comes to him and offers up a gold mine. Jaune liked Weiss, but it would have been enough to pull him in that direction. Especially if they confessed to him.

Yang let out a laugh hearing that. Some of the others giggled or allowed a snort to escape their lips. Unbeknownst to Jaune, Weiss blushed and hid from view.

"Hey, I get it," Sun expressed, coming to Jaune's side. "As someone who's struck out with every girl I've talked to at Beacon, I can sympathise. And I'm sure I can speak for two of the three guys among us." He gestured to himself and Jaune. "When you're on your own out here. Only your right hand to keep you company! Dying of thirst while watching your fellow men drown. A woman-shaped thing coming to you is gonna be pretty attractive. And if she was playing out Jaune's fantasies, which I'm one-hundred per cent convinced of, he stood zero chance..." He whipped around to face his fellow blonde, gesturing with both hands, fingers pointing at the boy. "Which begs the question, who was it?" His lips curled back into a shit-eating grin.

Crap...

"Uhhh, I-I can't say it..." A dark blush became painted on his cheeks, creeping up his ears.

"Is she among us, Jaune," Ren inquired with a raised eyebrow.

He looked away, refusing to meet his fellow man's gaze. It was loud enough to tell everyone what had happened without saying a single word.

Jaune wanted to die. If he had fled, the assumption would have been the same as this truth. Lying about it would have easily been discovered. There was no other option but to die of embarrassment. He could only be vague and shut his mouth to save Pyrrha. Falling on his sword to save a friend.

"WHAT," Weiss shouted, going red in the face.

Only Nora and Yang differed in their reactions. The former collapsed to the ground laughing and crying as she rolled around in the grass. Yang snickered, snorting loudly as she failed to keep any sort of composure. The likelihood of them being the one didn't matter. Blake, Ruby, and Pyrrha each gave Jaune an inquisitive look before hiding their eyes or looking elsewhere. Their faces flushing with blood. Winter only facepalmed, shaking her head in thinly veiled disappointment.

Kill me now...

Looking at Blake and Ruby, the faunus hid behind her book. Ruby had pulled her cloak over her head. Pyrrha found a section of grass fascinating. Weiss was marching up to him now, preparing to say something. Likely to chastise the boy.

"Okay-Okay, that's enough torture for now," Yang spoke up, stepping in between the Mage and Jaune. "It totally wasn't Jaune's crush, by the way; I saw her. So, three of you girls can rest easy..." She looked at Pyrrha and gave her a wink.

Weiss and Pyrrha had been entirely disabled right there and then. No words could escape them as Jaune was quickly fleeing the group. The traitors among them were too numerous for him to overcome.

"It was me," Pyrrha nearly shrieked, turning a shade of red Jaune didn't think was possible. "I-Uh-Ugghh" Her speech devolved into an embarrassed stutter as she looked at her friends.

Ren and Sun were crying from laughing so hard. Nora was nearly comatose, forced to cease her laughter to choke down a few breaths. Winter broke down entirely, clasping a hand over her mouth to muffle her laughter.

"Nope-Nope, I'm going into Vale," Jaune shouted, pressing his hands over his ears to block out their voices. "I didn't have any control over it! Not my fault!"

...

Buncha Iscariots!

Jaune grabbed the enchantments and donned his armour. He moved as quickly as he could, saddling Dodo and starting the ride into Vale. He barely got out of sight from the manor when Yang rode up with Weiss in tow on Midnight. His fellow blonde stared at him with her signature Chesire grin.

"You mad, Jaune?"

"Nope," Jaune hissed through his teeth. "I think some cosmic force hates me..."

It would have been funny had it not been Jaune. If it was Sun or Ren, he would be rolling in the grass with Nora. But it gets tiring when these things repeatedly happen to him. Like that one instance with Eleonore. Or the times Weiss became curled up next to him.

Something was messing with him, and was using his fellow blondes to push the joke farther.

"Eh, you keep getting yourself into these things," Yang expressed. "You're easy."

"Easy?"

"Dense and keep wandering into a joke without even knowing it," Yang replied. "It's a hilarious combination. Naive in some cases would be the better term."

"Yeah-Yeah-Yeah, country boy doesn't get it," Jaune grumbled. "First time a girl comes to me and ends up being a succubus..."

"I guess it almost worked in her favour," Weiss added, composing herself from earlier. "If she knew you would fall for it, that would make you an easier target. And you have a deep well of magicka, so it's a perfect storm."

Fun...

"Great, so I can expect another visit, then..."

"Wouldn't worry about it too much," Yang replied. "Other succubi are probably gonna stay away after that. My uncle told me that they could feel this stuff in the air. It'll scare the shit out of them."

Or they can smell the vampire hanging out on the property and won't go anywhere near it.

"But, moving on from that, who should we talk to about the enchantments," Weiss asked, trying to transition to another topic. "I think Dr Oobleck or Professor Ozpin might have an idea."

"What about the magic shop in town," Yang suggested. "I don't want to rope anyone from Beacon into it because they'll probably ask us to do a quest or something in return."

Why there?

Yang had a point, but it didn't have to require them to go to Theresia to make it happen. Jaune for damn sure didn't want to confront her barely two days after them nearly having sex and the Paladin slugging her in the mouth. Yet, he couldn't suggest anything different. Doing so would give her up to Weiss. He needed a legitimate reason to deny that lead, which he did not possess.

Imma kill you, Yang... Strangle you with my bare hands when this is done.

"I guess..."

"Cool, you think of what you're gonna say to Pyrrha when we get back," Yang chirped, spurring her horse into a slow trot. "Don't worry, she's not mad at you! Girl's super shy about that kind of attention, so her brain's scrambled."

"Can we lock her in the basement, Weiss," Jaune proposed to the Mage. "Maybe we'll finally get some peace around here..."

"And let her get out of our sight," Weiss replied, implying even worse things that could happen. "I think it's safer with Yang where we can see her."

"Hey-Hey-Hey, someone's gotta keep an eye on you unruly children," Yang jested in reply. "If I leave you guys alone for a moment, Jaune might finally get up the balls to talk to his crush. I need to be around to see it!" She bore her teeth, seeing Jaune go red at the insinuation. "By the way, who is it? I was totally bullshitting earlier."

Horseshit! You told Blake you knew!

"I'm not gonna tell you," Jaune expressed with a laugh, finding the notion of saying it aloud ridiculous. "I'm never gonna live down the succubus! That's gonna hang over my head until the grave!"

"Just in luck, I'm a mind reader," Yang said in faux jest. "It's definitely Weiss, right?"

"Hey, don't say that," Weiss hissed, smacking Yang on the shoulder. Her face lit up brightly.

Yang!

"Ow, okay," Yang whined, rubbing the burning skin patch. "I'm gonna get it out of you both eventually..."

[Vale]

Many marketgoers were taken aback by the boy riding in on a massive lizard. The children were dazzled by the creature, running up to inspect the exotic reptile. Everyone else merely stared like Jaune had grown a third arm. Weiss and Yang were only given passing glances by the crowds.

It felt like a typical day in Vale. Jaune could only see people going to and from their jobs or perusing the market for deals. The locale had an entirely different atmosphere than the distant manor he came to inhabit. Though, he liked how out of the way the house was. It meant he could escape to Vale to avoid the teasing of Yang every once in a while.

"I think it might be a good idea to use one of the rooms as an infirmary," Weiss proposed, calming down to her usual self from Yang's earlier jokes. "Given that bed is already covered in 'someone's' blood, it would be safe to utilise it for that end."

"I'm not disagreeing with you on that one," Yang expressed. "I've seen my dad put stitches in my uncle way too often in the kitchen. Shit's gross."

"We're never doing that in the kitchen," Weiss decreed with unanimous consent by her comrades. "That oak bed is ruined by now; we only need to put some spare sheets on it and store mine and Ren's tools in an armoire. If we keep it clean, it should be ready for the next person who needs it."

It was a nice bed, too...

The idea was better than what they had in Bar. Most surgeries were done on a ramshackle wooden table soaked in hundreds of other people's blood. The clerics usually covered it in an old sheet and washed everything down with strong spirits to disinfect it when they were done. While clean, it appeared like an axe murderer's lair all too often. At least, this infirmary would be comfortable to sleep in while someone recovered.

"You want to bet on who's gonna need it first," Yang expressed. "Someone's gonna have to break it in."

"I'll pass on those odds," Jaune replied. "It's probably gonna be me somehow."

"Chicken..."

Making their way to the magic shop, the trio passed through most of the city. There had been much progress on the festival grounds and decorations around town in the last few weeks. It looked as though it would kick off soon.

I can't wait for it...

Passing by the Von Kanitz manor, he was also receiving deliveries for the festival. Crates of wines and liquors were shipped in by the wagon load. Cooks and artists worked tirelessly to prepare for whatever gathering he was planning. They were decorating the manor with all sorts of floral wreaths and lining the paths of his garden with arbours.

As they neared the front gate, Sir Kanitz noticed them and waved at the trio.

"Ah, I heard from Carnelian," he began with a polite and upbeat tone. "Things appear to be looking up for you."

"They are; however, repairs are coming on slowly," Weiss confirmed, nodding to the man. "Are you preparing for a gala?"

"Nope, I'm throwing a bit of coin around to open the place up for the Spring Festival," he explained, gesturing to his manor. "Nothing makes me happier than throwing a party, so I try to make it happen every year. Everyone in Vale is welcome to drink as friends."

"Awesome," Yang exclaimed. "I wanted to do something at our place like that. If we can clean it up before the festival, we can do it as an appetiser." She then looked to Jaune and Weiss for approval.

"If you want to christen the old Torchwick Manor, I'll be up for a bit of fun," he expressed with a smile. "Give me a date, and I'll bring the best beer I got in my cellar."

Sounds fun.

"We'll find you when we're ready to go," Jaune agreed, moving to shake Grimwald's hand. "I think everyone's gonna love it."

"They will," Grimwald asserted, looking to Yang. "Tell Taiyang I plan to outdrink him finally. He better prepare his liver."

"Heh, he'll be the first to know," Yang replied with a snort.

With a final nod, Grimwald turned back to his staff. The man wandered back into the courtyard, disappearing among the workers going to and from the manor.

"I don't think Winter and my mother will turn down the opportunity," Weiss stated as they resumed their journey. "They haven't had a chance to relax since they arrived."

"I wanna see your sister get drunk," Yang cheerily expressed. "If she's about as lightweight as you, it's gonna be hilarious."

"Then I should forewarn her..."

...

Seeing the magic shop made Jaune shake in his boots. It wasn't the terror of confronting the succubus. He was filled with that stupid teenage fear of talking to a girl. Theresia wasn't a monster in his eyes. She was a girl who worked the desk at a store.

"So, how do we want to play this," Yang said to herself. She then looked to Weiss and spoke aloud. "Hey, Weiss, chill out here for a sec. I wanna work my magic."

"Magic?"

"Charisma stat," Yang tersely explained. "Let me see what I can squeeze out of them."

"I guess I'll wait out here too..."

"Nope, I need some backup in here, so no slacking off for you," Yang insisted, grabbing Jaune by the collar and dragging him to the door.

Agghhh...

Throwing open the door, the front counter wasn't immediately in view. Rounding the first set of shelves on their left, Theresia was standing at the desk. The moment she locked eyes with Yang, she froze in place, wearing a fearful expression of a child confronted with a wolf.

Yang's own expression turned cold and serious. She slowly marched up to the counter, looking at the items scattered around the store and allowing Theresia to marinate in fear. By now, the succubus had turned her gaze downwards in the hope of avoiding Yang's eyes, shaking as the Brawler approached. Her footsteps sounded like the distant thunder of a storm in this otherwise silent room.

As she reached the desk, Yang pulled the enchantments out and set them on the table. Slamming her hand flat as she placed them before the succubus, the girl nearly leapt out of her skin. She then instinctively reflexed as if Yang was about to hit her.

"Theresia, right," Yang began coldly, opening the scroll. "You know how to read these?"

Looking out from behind the arm shielding her face, Theresia glanced down at the scroll. Taking a visual cue from Yang, the girl grabbed the parchment and pulled it closer to read.

"U-Umm, i-it's not in the standard magic language," Theresia nervously stuttered. "I-I've o-only seen this in ancient Valean texts." She took a breath to compose herself. "It's older than magic speak... You would need someone who could understand it."

"Got anyone in mind?"

"Lime Krupin," Theresia swiftly answered. "Most people who know him call him Lime the Elder. He owns a warehouse on the north side of the port. It has his last name written on the side in white."

"Good, I'll take it to him," Yang replied, rolling up the scroll and immediately departing from the shop. The door closing loudly behind her signalled her disappearance.

As Yang left, Theresia nearly collapsed, falling forward onto the desk. She buried her face in her arms and remained there for an eternity. From where Jaune stood, he could still see her shaking. The girl's succubus senses must have picked up something Jaune couldn't.

"I'm sorry," Theresia spoke from within her arms. "I panicked and hit you..." She looked up at him with tears welling in her eyes.

She feels terrible about it.

Theresia sounded sincere. It was a split-second decision in her mind. One out of fear for the guy with the giant knife in his hand. Jaune understood it.

He wasn't angry with her.

So, Jaune reached out and flicked her on the forehead. The sudden tap was enough to startle Theresia, causing her to jump and stare at the boy. Jaune's lips curled back into a slight smile.

"That was for my leg," Jaune stated. "We're even now?"

Theresia nodded her head, reaching up to wipe her eyes. "T-Thank you," she quavered. "I was scared you were going to come after me..."

"It's fine; it was just a dumb mistake," Jaune expressed. "Yang's probably not as forgiving... I also don't exactly see a lot of women shapeshift in front of me, so I guess I panicked too." He took a deep breath, allowing it to escape as a long sigh. "You just wanna keep going as friends? Without the whole succubus and sneaking through my house thing?"

Succubi weren't dangerous. It wasn't like a random vampire trying to tear his throat out. Yang was an exception to the rule, but he knew the girl wouldn't try to hurt him if she could help it. However, living as a monster meant the girl was isolated. Having a friend who knew of her plight would just be a way to help Theresia.

It's what Ruby would do...

"Mhmm," Theresia agreed, nodding her head fervently. "I think I'd like that..." She stood up and looked around her desk, unable to locate what she had sought. "Ummm, I can help you examine any magic items you need help with. Just to pay you back for keeping this a secret."

"I'll let you know if I find anything," Jaune gave his reply, nodding once to the girl before turning on his heel. Before he opened the door, he looked back at Theresia. "Also, if you want to hang out, just come by the manor."

"I-I'll try to make it out there..."

Walking back outside the magic shop, Yang and Weiss mounted Midnight. Jaune did the same with Dodo, snapping his reins to urge the lizard towards the port.

"Did you find what you were looking for," Weiss asked with a curious expression.

"Nah, Theresia said the golem heart needed an expert in golemcraft to make it work," he lied. "Didn't know anyone off the top of her head..."

"We should just sell it and be done with it," Yang suggested, having calmed down from her encounter with Theresia. "Or turn it into some magic gear. Maybe we can make it into some armour or a sword?"

Infuse it into something?

...

Travelling West, they neared the port in the upper-class district. Just at the most western peninsula of Vale sat many of the galleys or schooners owned by the city's nobles. All along the water were the warehouses or docks broken only by sandy beaches dotted throughout.

Goods flowed in and out of here like Poncier, only much less depressing. It didn't have such a dystopian feel to it. Men and women worked with mules or horses to pull wagons around, but everyone appeared to be another hand at the docks earning their pay. The most notable thing Jaune found was the quality of goods had gone up. Fine silks and meats were aplenty here.

"We should snag some of these rugs while we're at it," Yang expressed as she eyed a merchant stacking them along the docks. "Add some colour to the house."

The rugs she spoke of were brightly coloured hand-woven works of art. Many appeared to be from Anima or Vacuo, originating from the oriental clans or the desert dwellers. They were geometric, featured animals, or all sorts of various designs. The kind of commodity that a single man would make a fortune off of if they arrived in a city with a ship filled with them.

They were beautiful pieces.

"I think it would be a good idea," Weiss agreed, studying the rugs as the trio rode past. "Good rugs should keep the floors somewhat warm come winter. Heating the entire house is going to be a nightmare anyway. If we can use them as insulation for the floor, some of us won't be confined to a bed for warmth."

Oh yeah...

Even though Jaune lived in a house nowhere nearly as nice as the one he dwelled in now, it was smaller. Thus, it only needed a single fire to provide warmth if everyone gathered in the living room. A house as large as the manor would require a genuine feat of mechanical prowess to fight back any icy chill outside of the fireplace.

And these colourful rugs would help spice up the house. If Jaune and the party continued adding friends to their group, he wanted the place to look nice. Keeping the rooms bland and undecorated would make it seem like the place was a barracks.

Crossing through another set of buildings, the trio reached an intersection. There, Blake became visible beyond the travelling wagons or groups of passersby. She leaned against a street sign, seemingly awaiting their arrival as she stood upright upon seeing them.

"Were you following us," Weiss questioned in an annoyed tone. "Don't you have anything better to do?"

Not now...

"I do," Blake answered, giving Weiss a dry look. "But, let's just say I'm invested in those enchantments too. We're wandering into a guy's place who none of us knows, so we need to make sure he's going to think twice about stealing the scroll."

Not a bad idea. Show him strength going in, and he'll probably just try to cut a deal.

"You scout the place out, yet," Yang inquired, jumping off her horse. She then tied Midnight to a post, securing him away from the warehouse.

"No, I've seen the warehouse, though; it's over here," Blake replied, waving the trio to follow her.

Following her lead, Jaune took up a position just behind her. Yang made up the back of the pack with Weiss in the middle. In this formation, they cut through a few side streets until they reached another dock further west.

Here, there was primarily the headquarters of several shipping companies. The warehouse Theresia described was nestled on the edge closest to the party. 'Krupin's Shipping Co.' and Vale's Royal Company were the most prominent brands among the near dozen structures.

The Krupin warehouse was guarded by a few men dotted here and there. They mostly wore cheap armour, with one guy donning half-plate who appeared to be the one in charge. Nothing seemed to be a threat from where they stood. With Blake's signal, the party moved in, walking right up to the front gate of the warehouse.

"Oi, whatchu want," one of the guards shouted as he noticed the party's approach. "This here's private property. So, state yer business or begone!"

Looking closer at the man, Jaune realised something about him. His eyes were a deep red. The man's lips revealed a set of fangs every time he spoke. All were telltale signs of a vampire. Likely, a fully blooded one, but a nobody compared to his master.

"We're here to see Mr Krupin," Weiss began, stepping forth. "Is he in?"

"Yeah, but I don't know you," the guard replied. "The master never said he was expectin' anyone..."

"Listen, your boss has something we need," Weiss continued. "We were told he could translate a document for us, and we're willing to pay him generously. So, do you want to explain to him that you sent away potential clients, or would you allow us to speak with Mr Krupin?"

Before he could answer, the captain of the guard walked into view. The man also possessed the same signs of vampirism that his underling showed. A more powerful vampire from the feeling Jaune's brands gave him. He was about half of Yang's strength from the energy he put off.

"Sammy, open yer eyes, man," the captain barked. "These kids got coin from the looks of them. Lime's gonna whip yer arse if he finds out about this, you blockhead!" He grabbed the man by a pauldron and tugged him to the side. "Go on in; the boss is upstairs. Just don't touch nothing."

Walking through the front door, the group found themselves in a dimly lit warehouse. Smoke hung throughout the building, obscuring the view beyond torchlight for anyone without darkvision. Jaune could see only rows of crates stacked in the centre of the holding area. It appeared that they weren't hiding anything for all intents and purposes.

"You saw those guys, right," Blake asked as they shut the door behind them. "They were vampires..."

"Yeah, I noticed," Jaune said.

"Probably a clan or something," Yang guessed, looking around the narrow corridor they stood in. "I'm gonna say Lime's their leader."

"We should be careful then," Weiss concluded, applying her dragon's hide spell as a precaution. "Lime might be on another level compared to his underlings."

He was likely the master of their clan, but not a 'master' vampire like Professor Port described. If they were as rare as the Chevalier said, the group would probably never encounter one. It would be just bad dumb luck otherwise.

"Hiding themselves behind a shipping company," Blake muttered, moving to climb the stairs leading to Lime's office. "Smart move."

"No one would question what they were doing inside the warehouse if they covered their tracks," Weiss added, feeling for magic traps or wards. "Without any evidence, they could just gather wealth and kill people for years without anyone calling them out."

Guess that's the advantage of immortality...

Jaune likely had a good sixty to maybe a hundred years to do what a vampire could over centuries. The advantage of their extra time meant they wouldn't need to make risky moves to gather coin. A slow and steady flow of money over the years and the proper documents meant a single man or woman could build a company to withstand anything.

"Let's see what they've got going on in here," Yang expressed while subtly sniffing the air for signs of their activity. "If we think they're up to something, we can find Professor Ozpin and get his help."

Yeah... Maybe they only feed on animals.

We can just let them go if they're not hurting anyone.

Arriving at the top of the stairs, this side of the warehouse was nicely decorated. The dark wooden panels lining the walls had a professional feel to them. Several couches and chairs were lit up in this waiting area with a softly glowing lamp on a table. This vampire's lair possessed a more corporate face than Jaune had previously encountered.

In an adjacent room, several men were speaking. Jaune couldn't tell what they were talking about, but another vampire wearing a fine doublet and boots stepped out. When he noticed the group, he nodded and opened the door for them to enter.

"Lime, you got some Beacon students here," he announced, stepping to the side for the group to file inside.

Seeing Lime for the first time, Jaune could instantly tell he was also a vampire. He appeared as an older man in his late forties. Long black hair tucked behind his ears. A square jaw covered in a five o'clock shadow. His handsome face didn't betray any sign of vampirism aside from the fangs and eyes.

"So, all of you guys are vampires," Jaune expressed as he stood to the left of the door.

Five guys in here... Lime and one at the desk. Two on mine and Yang's left. A guy to Blake's right.

"Yes," Lime replied in a gravelly voice. "Not many of you Beacon students can figure that out at first glance. I should applaud you... However, I would ask what you're doing here first."

"We heard you can translate ancient Valean magic speak," Weiss answered, grabbing the scroll and presenting it. "We came across this scroll in some ruins and need it deciphered for us. I'm sure we can work out a deal."

"I know a thing or two," he replied, sitting up in his chair. "Allow me to see the scroll, and I'll tell you what I require."

Weiss handed it over, and Lime began reading through it. Without speaking a word, one of his minions brought a book to him, laying it on the table open to a passage. He began writing down his translation on another parchment, finishing the first two glyphs of the three or so dozen on the scroll.

"Hmmm, this appears to be a rather simple task," Lime said aloud. "I won't ask for much in this case. My only demand is from the princess."

He knows.

Weiss was thrown for a loop, gritting her teeth and steeling herself at the declaration. Fighting her temper, she spoke, "What do you want?"

"I don't think you knew, but we vampires have our own delicacies," Lime began, tapping his fingers on the desk. "Blood of virgins, mages, or specific individuals is among the most desired. The rarer the stock, the better." He leaned back into his chair and stared at Weiss with eyes filled with hunger. "And princess blood from a virgin mage is a drink few have ever savoured. I don't think I've had the blood of a princess since the murder of King Reinhard's daughter sixty years ago."

Jaune's lips curled back as he was about to yell at the vampire, but Weiss raised a hand, stopping him in his tracks.

"If that's all you require, then so be it," Weiss glowered, pulling a knife from her belt.

One of Lime's men grabbed a goblet from his desk and brought it to Weiss. The Princess used the knife to slice across her palm, opening a deep laceration. Squeezing her palm, she drained it into the cup, filling the base with nearly an ounce of blood.

Around them, the other vampires were beginning to lick their lips. It was like blood to sharks. Yang was trying her hardest to bury the thirst, digging her nails into her palm enough to draw blood. Jaune had to resist his own urge to draw his sword and end this.

When Weiss pulled her hand away, the vampire brought the goblet to Lime. While Weiss wrapped her hand in a bandage, he took a sip from the golden cup. That single taste made him scream out in near orgasmic exaltation.

"C'EST MAGNIFIQUE," Lime cried out, falling back into his chair. "Such a tender and mellow harmony!" His cheeks flushed with blood, and he began to sweat profusely. "Where was this all my life!" Tears began streaming down his eyes as she reached for the goblet. Nearly crushing the cup in his hands, he brought it back to his lips and slurped every drop. When he had finally emptied it, he dropped the cup to his side, allowing it to roll away from him in a clatter.

While Lime ranted about the taste, a door behind him opened. A girl carrying a platter of glasses walked in. Her movements were unsteady, befitting the state of someone suffering from exhaustion. She struggled to keep the tray from toppling over or to stop herself from collapsing right there.

When Jaune got a look at her face, it was one he recognised. Despite her gaunt cheeks, sunken eyes, and nearly ghost-white skin, he knew this girl. The burnt-orange hair, freckles, and fox ears belonged to a young girl he'd encountered. Since their last meeting, she appeared to be more of a walking corpse than that cheery barmaid in Whiteshale.

Lara?

Lara stumbled to Lime's desk, nearly dropping the platter as she reached for one of the glasses. She stabilised the tray on her forearm, but the girl began to quake when she looked up at Lime's guests. Lara recognised Jaune and Weiss. The sight of those two caused the girl to tear up for reasons unknown to Jaune.

She was terrified.

Her shaking, paired with the weakness in her arms, resulted in Lara dropping the platter. The glass she held in her hand spilt out onto Lime's book, staining it in what looked to be blood. It then rolled off the desk and onto the floor, shattering with the rest of the wine glasses.

Interrupted from his rapture, Lime's face contorted into pure rage. He stood up and delivered a vicious backhand to Lara, knocking her to the floor. She shouted as she crashed to the ground, landing in the broken glass and cutting her arms.

"You stupid bitch," Lime screamed, standing and kicking the girl in the side. "Do you have any idea what I've just discovered!? I've touched on a gourmet trea-"

Blake reacted as if by instinct. She turned to the vampire standing at her side and unsheathed a dagger, holding it in a reverse grip. Before he could realise it, the Assassin buried the knife into his throat, tearing it across his neck to sever his trachea and arteries. Blood sprayed out in a geyser, coating everyone within range in a thick layer of ichor.

Jaune and the others followed suit in less than a blink.

Jaune tore Ira Rubrum from its sheath and whipped it at a vampire leaning against a wall. Unprepared, he became impaled on the blade, stuck to the wall as it sunk into the wood panelling behind him. The silver coating of the sword burned him, causing him to cry in pain as he attempted to wrench it from within his chest.

Yang rocketed forth, smashing her hand into the fourth vampire's face. The sudden blow knocked him to the floor, flipping his body over in a single flip from the force applied to his jaw. Yang, not allowing him to recover, raised her boot high and brought it down hard. The vampire's skull cracked like a watermelon, spraying bone and grey matter all over the room.

Weiss raised her sword and cast a spell. From the tip of Myrtenaster, a dozen ice shards appeared. The vampire standing next to Lime eye's opened wide as she realised what was coming. He tried to dive behind a pillar, but Weiss loosed her icicles. They soared across the room faster than any could react, finding their target and skewering him alive. Blood gushing from a dozen wounds, he tried to limp to the door, but Weiss stopped him with another shard crashing through the back of his neck. The tip of the icy spear burst from his mouth in a fountain of blood.

Longinuslanze Testament

With a thought, Jaune summoned his lance. The radiant shard of light flashed brilliantly, blinding those who cast their gaze in his direction. Its power overflowed as it materialised in Jaune's hands, booming loudly like the heavens cast thunder down to their level. The threat of this weapon in possession of the Paladin was the only thing which directed Lime's attention away from Lara.

You're dead!

Jaune did not allow Lime the dignity of defending himself. Pushing off his toes, he shot forth in a blur of light and steel, mimicking the path his spear would make if thrown. True to the weapon's description, Jaune's body orienteered to find Lime's own as if guided by a spirit. As the two chased down their prey, anything in his path was blown to the side.

Lime backed into the pillar behind his desk as Jaune sunk the spear into his abdomen. The radiant light emanating from the weapon seared the vampire's flesh, causing him to roar in pain. Impaled on the spearhead, Lime tried to tear himself from it, but Jaune only lifted the man upwards, standing him on the pike so he would be confronted with his own mortality.

When Lime coughed up a torrent of blood, Jaune wrenched the spear from his body, twirling around to catch the vampire in the side with the blade. It cut through him and the wooden pillar, slicing cleanly like neither was there. The two halves of Lime's body fell to the ground, splattering blood all over the place as he let out a final exhale.

"Yang, help me get her up," Blake shouted, directing everyone's attention to the girl.

Turning around, Jaune found Blake struggling to lift Lara. She did not have the strength to support herself even to walk out of here. The girl would have to be carried if she were to escape here alive. Yang immediately moved to take the girl into her arms, not caring about being covered in their blood.

As Jaune went to follow the girls, he felt something grab his foot. Lime had wrapped a hand around his ankle, trying to hold onto the boy and continue their fight. His two halves appeared to be pulling themselves back together as Jaune watched the gasping vampire. The expression of rage was still painted on his face as he reached out to bite the boy.

"Shit, he's a regenerator," Yang shouted. "We're not gonna be able to kill him! Let's get out of here before he gets back up!"

The girls immediately went to leave, but Jaune stayed behind momentarily. He raised the lance above his head and drove the spear straight through Lime's skull. It stopped him for just this moment, but Jaune could see his body continuing to move even without a conscious brain.

[Several Hours Later]

Tai held a pair of forceps in his hand, picking pieces of glass out of Lara's arms. Slowly, he pulled the shards from her flesh and dropped them into a dish filled with water. Ren worked alongside him, applying healing pastes and bandaging the fresh wounds as the two moved up her arms. The girl's lips curled into a wince with every touch and sting of their tools and hands.

"Sssss," Lara hissed as a large piece of glass was pulled from her bicep.

"Sorry," Tai apologised sincerely. "It's gonna pinch, but we need to get everything out before it festers."

They can handle her...

Jaune backed out and shut the door behind him, leaving the duo to finish cleaning Lara's wounds. Most of the party was waiting outside the room, including Willow, her knights, and Cinder, who arrived before Jaune. Blake watched out a window for anyone riding up to the property, but none had appeared.

"How is she," Cinder asked, leaning back in a chair. "And where did you find her?"

"She's anaemic but should be fine," Jaune replied. "Physically, at least. I haven't talked to her yet."

No one knows how bad she's fucked up mentally...

"She was vampire cattle," Weiss explained the situation.

"Cattle," Cinder asked before suddenly realising the implication. "Oh..."

I guess she doesn't remember it either?

"That's really bad," Nora added. "They're basically helpless unless someone finds the vampire den."

Imagine a farm girl getting snatched up by a vampire. Someone who was extremely vulnerable, being taken by humanity's natural predators, had little chance of surviving. Goblins would make it agonising, but at least it would be over fast. Vampires taking cattle would toy with their pets. They had the creativity of a human or faunus to make life hell for their captives. Their longevity also meant they would likely have more experience preventing escapes.

"We have to watch her," Ruby expressed, looking at the door with a longing expression. "Is there anything we can give her to help?"

"Aside from rest and a friendly face, I doubt we can just give her anything," Winter replied to Ruby. "Dr Oobleck may know of something, but we can consult with him later."

"What if there are more girls," Pyrrha spoke up. "If it's a vampire clan we're talking about, they won't be able to support themselves with one person. They'll have to keep more around."

"I didn't see anywhere they would keep them at the warehouse," Yang said, shaking her head. "Maybe at another location. But they weren't too concerned with securing the place. They probably weren't going to let us leave."

And they misjudged who they were dealing with...

A few regular Beacon students between levels fifteen to twenty would have fallen into the trap. The benefit Jaune and his friends had was the experience and overwhelming force their prior encounters gave them. If they couldn't tell there were vampires, it could have quickly gone the other way.

"Hmmm," Willow hummed, cupping her chin. "Winter." The Queen looked at her daughter with a stern expression. "Take Elm and Harriet with you, slay any vampires you come across, and tear that warehouse apart." She turned to the rest of the party. "If you want to stop this, I would ask you joined them."

"We will," Blake confirmed with a nod to the Queen.

"Pyrrha and I will watch the house with Ren and Dad," Ruby declared, grabbing her scythe.

"Good," Winter said, donning her sabre. "Cinder, could you teleport us near that warehouse?"

"I can get you close if I haven't been there before," the Witch replied.

"That's good enough," Weiss responded. "We won't teleport into an ambush then."

Everyone scrambled to find their weapons and armour. When they were geared up, Cinder had everyone gather around her. With a wave of her hands, she tore open a portal in front of the party, ensnaring the edges of the passage with magical tethers tied to her body. Using her hands, she pulled it apart to create ample space for everyone to pass through.

On her signal, they walked through to the other side.

...

Returning to where they met Blake earlier, Jaune realised how the sun had since gone down. The streets were now vacant despite how young the night was. No semblance of nightlife could be discerned. There should have been revellers or a few children playing.

"Watch your backs, guys," Sun warned, pulling out his bo staff. "They're gonna be expecting trouble."

Yeah...

Looking to the rooves, there was no sign of anyone watching them. Even as the party moved, there should have been something darting from cover to cover if there was a tail. With how many faunus or vampires were in their party, someone should have seen them.

"I smell smoke," Elm whispered, sniffing the air.

"I can, too," Blake agreed. "Something's burning. We need to get to the warehouse now."

Dashing, the party booked it as fast as they could. The concern for someone following them was gone now. They needed to reach the warehouse before the fire grew too large or consumed wherever the rest of the cattle were located.

Breaking through the cluster of buildings, their worst fear seemingly came to light. The warehouse was set ablaze, roaring like a massive inferno enough to make standing here uncomfortable. Anyone left inside the building could not survive this blaze. It was impossible.

However, there was a gathering outside the walls of the compound. Huddling away from the blaze was a group of shrouded figures surrounded by men in hoods, donning swords. Closest to the warehouse was a woman in full plate standing above a man on his knees.

Moving closer, Jaune recognised the woman. It was Eleonore, the King's bodyguard. The hooded figures were unrecognisable to Jaune, but he could only see Vale's royal crest pinned to their chests.

"That's close enough," a man above the party shouted.

Jaune turned and found one of those hooded men holding a bow, drawing it to his chest with an arrow nocked. Suddenly, more of those men appeared seemingly out of nowhere, bearing swords or clubs toward the students. They had Jaune and his friends completely surrounded.

Jaune watched as Eleonore picked up the man kneeling before her by the face. She lifted him with one arm, activating something that caused her armour to glow brightly along the runes engraved into the metal. Her hand shone brilliantly, spouting flames hot enough to melt steel.

"Musphelheim Laevatienn," Eleonore whispered in a supernaturally resonating voice.

The man she clasped her hand around began to scream into her palm. Though muffled, the pain and anguish this person had were palpable. He tried to strike Eleonore, but his blows had no effect. When his screams and thrashing stopped, the Knight clenched her fist and the man's entire body set alight. Soon, nothing was left but ash drifting away in the wind.

"The situation's been taken care of," one of the hooded men said to the party in a gruff voice. "Ye don't need to be here anymore."

"What about the vampire cattle," Blake demanded, pushing to the front of the party. "We just walked out of there with one of them. Are there any more?"

"They're safe," Eleonore hoarsely replied, walking to the party. "The King's spies noticed a group of adventurers drag a girl out of a suspected vampire den. So, I dealt with the infestation."

"Ye nearly broke up an operation we've been planning for the last few months," the spy grumbled.

"Did you get Lime, too," Weiss asked. "He was the head of the clan."

"No sign of any Lime," the spy replied. "Krupin probably booked it 'fore we could grab him."

Shit, he got back up...

"Anywhere else he could be hiding," Harriet wondered. "Someone needs to bring him in."

"Yeah, we wanna help," Sun pleaded.

Eleonore glanced at the spy and gestured towards the party. Complying with her, he pulled a note from his pocket and handed it over to Winter.

"That's the list of suspected dens," the spy explained. "All we got is that last one, so if ye want to help, clear it out, and we'll clean up behind ye."

"I think I know where that is," Cinder said, looking over Winter's shoulder. "Stand back, and I'll open a portal there."

...

Leaping from the portal, Cinder shut it behind the party. The group had ended up in a more familiar district of Vale. Above them was Beacon and the marketplace everyone walked through to get to the Academy. A vampire den was a stone's throw from the school all this time.

"This is the place," Yang said, pointing to a house nestled among a row of buildings.

It was a typical Alstadt house like many others in Vale. There was nothing that betrayed its identity. No lights were on, and it was in good condition.

"Nora, you and I break down the door," Elm dictated, pointing to the house. "Everyone else comes in after us."

Nora nodded to her fellow barbarian and moved to the house just behind her. On her signal, Elm raised her hammer and smashed a hole through the door. Nora charged in through the weakened entrance and busted it down. Quickly, everyone else dashed inside and began searching for vampires.

Yet, there was nothing. It appeared as though someone had left hurry, though. Furniture was tossed over and broken. Papers were scattered around, and fresh embers seemed to be in the fireplace.

Winter walked over to the fireplace and pulled out a scrap. Examining it, she tossed it aside. "They burned most of it," she concluded, leaning down to sift through what remained. "Maybe there's something that can tell us more."

"Really kicked the hornet's nest on this one," Sun expressed in disappointment. "They realised what was happening and ran off."

"Looks like it," Jaune agreed, biting his lip. "Just check out the house and see if there's a spot they were keeping anyone."

"Don't bother; I already found it," Blake spoke up from the next room. "Behind a bookcase..." She pulled the heavy piece away to reveal a staircase leading down.

"A bookcase, really," Yang said with a sigh.

Everyone immediately filed in to follow Blake down. Slowly descending the stairs, they came to a basement that had been recently dug out. Whoever was using this house had already begun finishing the addition with cobbled stone and abandoned it before completion.

"Hey, is anyone down here," Yang shouted into the cellar.

Around the corner, they could hear faint whispering. Acknowledging the sound, they crept just to the corner, and Blake peered into the adjacent chamber. What she saw immediately caused her to drop any semblance of stealth.

Blake sprinted around the corner and vanished deeper into the basement. Following her, everyone was greeted with a barred door. It was a cell dug out of the wall. Inside were two girls.

The elder held what Jaune guessed was her younger sister in her lap. Both were tanned and skinny women wearing dirty rags that couldn't be considered clothing by anyone with a heart. Each had white hair of differing lengths, with the younger girl allowed to have free-flowing locks while the older had hers tied back on either side of her head with red tassels.

"W-Who are you," the girl whispered. She looked up at the adventurers with a puzzled expression, scanning them with her amber eyes.

"Doesn't matter; we're here to get you out," Sun replied, dropping to his knees to pick the lock. "Is she okay?"

"N-No, she's sick," the girl replied. "I can't get her fever down!"

"We have a place she can rest," Blake explained. "Trust us."

Sun unlocked the gate and threw it open. He moved in first to grab the little girl, carrying on his back, while her sister took Blake's hand. When they emerged from the cell, Cinder already had a portal prepared to take everyone to the manor.

[Sun]

Carrying the girl upstairs, Tai greeted the rescued girls with a finger pressed to his lips.

"We got another one; she's asleep right now," he whispered, pushing open the door to the infirmary. "You two can take the other side of the bed."

In the spare room, Lara had passed out long before their arrival. Ren was the only other occupant of the room, sitting in the corner reading a book. The boy nodded to the trio and gestured to some blankets he stacked near the door.

"Hey, we can talk tomorrow morning, okay," Sun whispered to the older sister. The Rogue then lowered the little sister onto the mattress when he reached the side of the bed. "Ren will watch out for you. He's cool, so ask him if you need anything."

"Thank you..." The older sister climbed onto the bed and held her sibling's head in her lap.

"Don't sweat it, just take a load off."


So, picture the two new girls as something similar to Okita Souji Alter from the fate series.

But there are good monsters and bad monsters like there are good humans and bad humans. Yang is pretty much the only cool vampire thus far. Though, the new boy Lime Krupin is about to Shuu Tsukiyama this story up.

Now, I'm gonna go tame some rock drakes. See you next week.