Ah hahahahaha. I hope I run this for maybe 5 chapters at max.
Chapter 8: (Domremy I) History's Subjective
She winced in pain, a large thwack from a bowstring lashing against her forearm causing a large red welt to form. She flinched when her arrow failed to hit the mark, a makeshift target a few dozen meters away.
Archer stood to the side with a firm look while a few others lazed about, did their own thing, or watched the girl torture herself in her mindscape. Even in her dreams, she no longer had the luxury to relax, or at least get a good night's sleep. Train, train, train, that was what she wanted-no, needed.
They've been at it for what felt like hours, and this was just the second night on the road. The traveling was very peaceful in Amber's opinion; Very few Grimm were on their road thus far, while no types of outlaws lazed around area to ambush unsuspecting travelers. She dispatched the Grimm without any issue compared to before, in fact, that was when she realized the attitude of her traveling companion.
For the past day and night, Alex seemed to become wary of her presence. He seemed fine when they first spoke to each other, and was very chilled in the village. The issue came up when she decided to travel with him to Domremy. His face turned a shade paler, while his attention looked like it was at a knife's tip. The man was constantly checking his surroundings during their trek, thinking she wouldn't notice.
"How bout you skip the archery. Clearly the woman can't teach at all." Lancer snickered off to the side. The faunus soul in question grit her teeth with a frown, and powered towards her. In a flash, the copy of a generic looking bow flashed out of her hands and reappeared in the woman's own.
"Tis not my place to be a crutch for the girl." Archer defended tightly, pointing at her with a firm look. "You fail to even change your stance. Stubborn one, had't ye taken my demonstration to memory?""You went too fast!" Amber protested indignantly, shaking her head with a stomp on the imaginary grass. She was sure if she were awake, the bow would be crushed by now.
Archer sighed, "I shall do it again, slowly."
The faunus held up the bow in her left hand, Amber narrowing her eyes at the stance she adopted. It looked so relaxed, so easy. So why couldn't she get it?
"It isn't a person for ye to strangle, Master. Bend the elbow and use the base of thine thumb as a brace for the handle. Loosen the fingers else when you draw, your aim shakens." Archer answered her unspoken thoughts, once the line was drawn beyond her nose. With a release and a soft thwack the line slammed against the bow once, fully missing her forearm.
The arrow obediently flew a perfect line to a practice dummy, hundreds of meters away. The soul hit the most advanced target as if it was nothing, yet Amber was struggling with the easiest one!
"This is the most basic of forms. Anything else must require the foundations first." A second and then a third arrow were unleashed, each following shit going faster than the last to emphasize her words. Amber watched in a daze to see every arrow land into the previous one, splitting them in half. Galahad certainly looked impressed, applauding while the others chuckled a bit.
Archer stepped back and gestured for her to go ahead. "Again."
The girl sighed and lifted her bow slowly, attempting to copy the soul's moves. She seemed to be doing something right, if none of the souls mentioned anything remiss. With a thwack of the string, the arrow flew to hit the very corner of the closest target she aimed at. This time without the sting in her arm.
"One hundred more."
And just like that, Archer's words tanked her joy. Amber grunted to shoot again, following the same motions as accurately as possible and hiding her disappointment.
Rider snickered off to the side. "You're with me after this. Your hand-to-hand work requires polishing!"
"By the way, who's Asclepius anyway?" Lancer asked with a confused look, butting into the conversation. He raised a brow at her exercise before turning to the faunus. "I get Rider here giving that Magi a pass, but you? What's so special about him that made you let the guy get near Master?"
She paused when she noticed said woman stiffening, her lion ears flicked back in irritation.
"I'm not blind, ya know. Before you found out about that 'rod of Asclepius' or whatever it was, you were fully ready to take over her body like Assassin, and kill him if there was any sudden moves. The moment you saw it?" he shrugged, ignoring Archer's gritted teeth. "Sat down like a stray cat.""A mere guard dog's ignorance." she snapped back.
The man waved it off. "Yeah, yeah. And you're a cat."
"Hahahahaha." Rider laughed with his hands raised, breaking the growing tension between the two souls. He smiled with a thinking posture. "Lancer."
"Yeah?" he replied, leaning back further.
The gigantic man smirked at the other's confused expression. "How does your culture view Snakes?"
"Pretty complicated." Lancer answered, he thought for a moment before continuing. "But I'd have to say mostly good. We had Brigid, a deity that patrons serpents. What about it?"
"What did she represent?" Rider pressed lightly.
"Poetry, Arts and Crafts, Smithing, Livestock, the Season of Spring, Medi-" the blue haired man halted mid sentence, widening his eyes. He glanced between the other souls who likewise jerked upwards in realization. "-cine. Medicine."
Rider nodded. "Asclepius was our god of Healing and Medicine. But I'll leave it to our Archer to tell the rest. She has first hand experience with the man."
Amber halted her exercise at the twentieth shot, curious about all the new information. She'd never heard of an Asclepius, or even a Brigid. If they were really gods, how did Archer actually meet one of hers?
"Ascepius was a demigod at the beginning, and he was a member of the Argonauts for a time."
Lancer leaned forward to listen to the woman's voice, growing soft by remembrance. "Like you right? That's where you met him, the ship called the Argo?"
"...Correct. He was different from the others; When Medea came aboard and traveled with us, she changed from a priestess in the healing arts to a witch." A frown of reminiscence appeared on Archer's face. She stared up into the black sky and continued, "It was thanks to him that Medea's change was benign, at least until he left us."
Amber set her bow down on the grass, slowly walking towards the gathering.
"He also accompanied many on the hunt for a Calydonian beast. He didn't fight himself, merely supporting us when any were injured." A smile appeared on the woman's face, if only a little bit. She was already walking along memory lane since Amber sat down to listen without a word of reprimand. "Kind and open to many of the self proclaimed 'heroes' of the Argo, carrying a rod wreathed with a snake. He always lent an ear to the troubled words of the crew, having time to give words of wisdom despite his young age. The man surpassed even his teacher and father in the healing arts, which Medea was ecstatic to know there was another to speak of their profession."
"You liked the guy." Amber blurted out. The whiplash that happened afterwards could have snapped her own neck if it were the physical world.
"I respected him." Archer growled. "He saw naught of my gender, nor questioned my abilities. We had mutual respect for each other."
"I can appreciate that." Rider noted approvingly.
Archer nodded. "I was raised by Lady Artemis, and he was born from her brother, Apollo. In a way, we were family."
Lancer clearly didn't believe her, drawling, "...Suuure"
A split second later, an arrow lodged itself by Lancer's foot. The man started to move around the area, cursing while he dodged the projectiles being shot from Archer's bow at an astounding pace. A solid minute went by before she sighed, her archery practice halting abruptly. Maybe she could take a seat and rest a bit.
Then a heavy pressure landed on her shoulder. She turned to greet Rider's smiling face, and repressed a groan.
"Don't be like that! You might be able to handle yourself, but if we're going to end up fighting servant level opponents in the future, we'll need you. We have to be prepared."
The two moved to a spot a bit farther away from the others. Sounds of arrows missing their intended shots reverberated in her ears, the image of Lancer dodging each one passing by her eyes. She and Rider stood across from each other by a few feet when she asked, "Hand to hand right?"
"Both." he replied. Several translucent forms of swords appeared on the ground in front of them, noticing they looked a lot like the blade she carried when she was awake. Rider pulled a sword up with one hand and took a stance. "We have a sword at our disposal, so I'm going to teach you a bit of swordplay first."
Amber watched the man approach her slowly, holding his sword up in one hand while the other rested by his hip. Thanks to her newly attained strength, she followed suit. Their blades clashed slowly, eventually it turned into a set of patterns for her to mimic. Over tine the fight slowly changed, getting faster and faster, before more varied weapons appeared, switching between one handed to two handed postures. He smiled at her growing experience, "I might not be a Saber-class, but I think my skill will serve you well."
Amber awoke to the sounds of a fire being started, just like before. Her companion must have had a habit of waking up early as the sun was just barely over the horizon. She stretched with her arms spread wide followed by a relieved grunt. She was used to traveling the road but that was when she had a horse and her sleeping bag. The grass and rough barks of trees didn't help much with the cold hard ground, putting spikes of pressure on her shoulders and back.
In one motion, the deer pelt which had been treated by the villagers of Hollyhock free of charge landed on the ground beside her. The butcher and tailor didn't have to, but they spent the effort to stitch the thick hide into a cloak, and for that she was grateful.
Her eyes wandered to check the campsite per many of the souls instructions, hunting for any signs of disturbances. Everything was where it should be and she took a whiff of what Alex was working on in his pot, a pheasant that she caught yesterday. She honestly wanted to find out for about him to gauge his demeanor with her.
He was a Magi, and she knew next to nothing about Magi. Did he do magic? Is magic real? Could anyone do it? Why were they so secretive? Because she bet if the people of Remnant knew, they'd rank them higher than Huntsmen. How many were there? Are there Magi schools? And if there were, how come no one noticed?!
A growl came out of her lips accidentally, which she covered up with a hand. Alex smiled just as he handed a bowl and spoon, this time there was an extra portion for both of them. They ate in silence for a few moment until she heard him start. "Go on. You must have something to ask."
Amber sat there, thinking about what she wanted to know. There were a lot of things, but she didn't know what exactly to ask. She certainly wanted to get to the root of the issue however.
What are Maidens, since I am one? She shook her head. Asking something like that from the get go was stupid.
Alex tilted his head with a small frown, she wondered what he could be thinking right now. Especially since she was playing the 'bad at talking quiet girl' thanks to her connection to Berserker. Even then, she would probably be a bit harsh, crazy, overbearing, rude, or just plain ornery if she synced with any of the other souls too. She sighed, her soul being patched up by nothing but the pieces of the other souls in her head was influencing her. Of course things wouldn't fit right. She knew that, they knew that.
Hah, she even thought of themselves as a 'we' instead of 'I' now…
Just ask already! We'll read through him.
She vehemently ignored that thought away from her crosshairs. That was too much to start off right at dawn. Slowly, Amber reached to a book stacked neatly by a log, pulling the hardcover square up to gesture at it first, then to him. "You?"
"You already know that."
Amber frowned, shaking her head; That wasn't what she meant. Her expression worsened after checking the title, not being able to read the foreign language. Setting the book down, she moved to look through the others in hopes of recognizing them. She took heed in being careful with the fragile things, picking up one that held maps of the continents. Again she gestured, opening the pages to reveal a map dotted with marker stains.
The man perked, getting what she was trying to say. She nodded a few times to emphasize it. "You want to know where I've been."
"How long?" Amber asked, staring behind the curtain of hair. He didn't look all that old, probably mid twenties at the latest, but everything he did had the air of someone on the road for years. That heavily clashed with some of his habits and attire, stuff she noticed even with the little amount of time spent traveling with him. She added just as the man was about to reach for his books, "...Where?"
"That would take a long time to answer." She tilted her head at his response. It didn't seem like he was stalling, Alex was genuinely thinking on how to explain it to her. He set his food down and continued. "I've been on the road for about two years, traveling the four continents and stopping at a new village every time. I've been to Mistral, Atlas, Vacuo, old Mantle, and even Menagerie. It's a hard place to get in."
He'd been to Menagerie? Seriously? She always heard it was inhospitable even for the people living there. Most of the land was nothing but desert, with dangerous wildlife crawling everywhere, before the Grimm even. There had been more newly discovered Grimm species as well as different variations of the normal kinds found there than anywhere else. A sand form of Deathstalkers, Vulture looking Nevermores covered with more bone than feathers, and even spotted King Taiju that hid under the sands! And those were just the documented specimens, who knew what else called that land home?
Sounds fun to me!
Yes, Lancer! A perfect place to tame the wilds!
Not to mention the dangerous seas that forced ships to sail during the calmer seasons thanks to the turbulent weathers. Typhoons were yearly events, coupled with a wind-shearing rainstorm nearly every week! It wasn't even mentioning the lack of farmland for food or space to house people. No one else wanted the land before the Faunus Rebellions, for good reason.
I have great hopes a dependable leader is among them.
Then there was the White Fang. They might not be headquartered there anymore, but the majority of their manpower had a presence on the 'homeland' of Faunuskind.
Faunus… Twas another mention of that word. What is… Faunus? How did they come to be?
She didn't have an answer to that… they were just there. She ignored the subject, it wasn't worth getting off topic and she asked, "What's…. Menagerie like?"
"Not much different than the Four Kingdoms or their territories. They make do with what's around them, hardly ever throwing anything away. A lot of their citizens used their knowledge from their old lands' methods of handling themselves for their own home. One example is inheriting architecture techniques from Mistral, while using designs from Vale where they function. They have to rely on the seas for food, but they're slowing getting there with constructing greenhouses. If you look around the towns there, its like someone threw architecture and people from all over the world into a blender."
There was something off about his words. He wasn't lying, Amber knew this for certain. There was just something wrong when he said it. Something was missing.
He was hiding something.
Amber raised an unseen brow; travelers normally kept to their preferred routes, usually not to head for the unknown. Small scale merchants would keep to their prospects and travel with cargo, guarding their wares from man and beast alike. Huntsmen go wherever they were needed, but most if not all, stuck to something like the outer territories. Even she had a reason to travel at the beginning, and this tale sounded like her that he was just wandering, aimlessly. Why just travel all the way to Menagerie and the rest of the world for no reason at all? In fact, in a time where Grimm always lurked around every corner, people were traveling less often than ever.
She had to ask, "For?"
"Would you believe me if I said it was for the adventure?" Alex said with a weak smile, understanding what she was getting at.
Internally many egos snickered or were unfazed at his response, as she shook her head. No way, there had to be more than that. It earned a chuckle from the man as he held a fist to cover it.
She frowned at him. "Not normal."
Alex froze just as he was about to take a scoop from his bowl, but he recovered very quickly. The man smiled in response. "If I had to give you a reason, I guess it's about improvement."
She tilted her head in response, brow raised. What did that mean?
"So, what about you? How did a young lady like yourself end up in Mountain Glenn?" Alex immediately changed the subject. "Didn't have a single thing on you aside from your sword, and you evidently were in poor shape. Why were you there?"
She jumped in her seat, looking up at him before gesturing.
"In fact, I'm curious to know why Tyrian Callows was after you." he probed as he doled out a second helping. He was calm and methodical, unlike her pensive squirming.
Ahh, now the tables turned on her. This time, she was really glad that she was synced with Berserker, giving her a perfect excuse to not talk. All she could do was to wave her arms around until the man sighed at her.
Thankfully Alex didn't prod any further, and in return she didn't try to dig up on what he was doing. She probably had ideas on how to approach this matter, but that was when she forgot to add the title of Magi on him. The woman shrugged after a few moments and just took in the scene.
They've been on the road for since breakfast, and she still had yet to see a wink of the village. The bright sunshine peered across one of the nearby hilltops, making the pine forest to her right vibrant with morning dew sparkling in her eyes. If this was the outskirts, then what was Domremy supposed to be? Trails of chimney smoke were nowhere to be found, and the sight of pastures were replaced by unwelcoming woodlands. Amber suspected they were lost.
"Where?" She asked, needing to know if they were on the right track. Her pack weighed heavily on her, the sword's strap especially digging into her shoulder.
"Don't worry, The road snakes around this hill. We'll see it soon." he announced from a couple paces in front of her, toting an even greater burden with zero sign of strain.
From his words, she guessed it'd take an hour at their pace. While the current silence was welcome, Amber couldn't help but have some curiosity. That, and it was a bit awkward constantly glancing at his back to check his attitude and habits.
While Alex was probably skilled in the deception act, spotting changes in body language was easy for her now, thanks to the egos in her mind. Right now he looked worn despite his brisk pace; Whatever it was ate at him since their departure back at Hollyhock, the look starting after he checked their traveling progress. So far he did a good job of hiding his thoughts, but she could see his concern as clear as the sun.
Was it about us, she wondered. Galahad nodded in her mind, the picture of many other egos thinking about it following just as the pair crossed a wooden bridge over a narrow river. Hearing the sloshing waves under the wooden surface, she decided now would be good to get him to think about something else.
"Who are…. Arcs?" Amber suddenly asked, allowing her companion to perk up. He slowed to her side, raising a brow at her before smiling.
The look of suspicion went away just as he met her gaze rather than glance the surrounding area. "Historically, The Arcs were once a minor noble family comprised primarily of knights under the King of Vale."
Galahad visibly perked up at Alex's words. The man started upbeat and continued on in that fashion.
"Before the Kingdoms moved to a council based administration, Vale was held under the King's rule for around three hundred years or so until the advent of the Great War. Regardless of the supposed event that started the war, it was then that during the war the Arc family gained its fame." he practically beamed while he spoke.
"Did what?" Amber asked.
Alex grinned in delight. "They were the first to advance the front-lines towards the east coasts of Sanus, starting at the heart of Vacuo's main city. Didn't take long for the Arcs to become vanguards who went in before the rest of the armies, securing bases and patrolling for Grimm when they appeared to watch the battles. The most pivotal battle the Arcs partook in was with the forces of Mistral and Mantle, which lasted a single month. There, a small army of two thousand Valiens outlasted and defeated an opposing force four times its size, having neither reinforcements or rations thanks to a naval blockade at the between seas of Vacuo and Vale."
Alex took a breath before he continued with an excited expression, hands waving a bit to explain the intricacies of the war.
"The eastern deserts was where the rest of the war took place. The sand plains held many secrets that only few knew, which turned the fighting into a war of attrition. At least until Vacuo finally decided to open its gates to aid Vale." he shook his head in cheer. "When Vale's King personally arrived to disrupt the forces of Mantle from taking Vacuo's Dust mines, his royal guards were comprised primarily of Arc blood. It was said that no arrow or bullet reached a hundred meters of the king when an Arc was at his side."
Amber had to restrain in nodding with Galahad's expression of respect and admiration. That however was the start of Alex becoming somber.
"This was also the war that lead to the Arc family's fall into obscurity." his voice dropped in tone, along with his smile.
She had to tilt her head with the support of Galahad and now Lancer's look of surprise. "Why?"
Alex chuckled wryly. "Of course, many people don't realize a lot of Arcs didn't come back from the War. Since they as a family opted out of having their Auras unlocked."
"Dangerous." Amber said. Not everyone chose to activate their Auras, but very few hunters went without. When she tried imagining fighting Tyrian Auraless, Lancer shut down the thought for her own sake.
"An old bygone tradition." Alex sighed. "Anyways, then came the fall of the Arcs. I did say the Arcs were a minor noble family. Since the advent of the council ruling system however, nobility and royalty became obsolete. The King himself became nothing more than a symbol of days gone by. These days, the royal family no longer exists. This also applied to the old nobility of Vale and the rest of the Four Kingdoms."
Her reverie was shattered by an explosion, rocketing them both out of their chat. The echo of a second one appeared just as Amber's gaze landed on a fireball rising above the trees, shaped as a Bullhead spinning in the air. Already streaming fire from the hatch and engines, the craft was struck by a tiny object which blossomed into a fresh boom. Debris pattered off the trees, a couple even kicking up puffs of dirt disturbingly close to where she watched awestruck.
The red embroidered mantle was thrown to the growing wind, Alex's sudden sprint with Aura infused legs leading him to assumed crash zone. Amber quickly gave chase after him, with a cracked imprint of her heels digging into the dirt being the only sign of her passage.
Clearing a tree, she jerked to a halt by his side to gape. What greeted them was a scene coming from the Atlas military show reels: the Bullhead belly flopped off the ground and landed once on the spine, cracked in half from the middle to create an uneven triangle. Fires streamed from the totaled engines, slowly whirring to a stop. The duo glanced to each other, and nodded.
Alex rushed to the front of the machine without any hesitation. She stayed back a couple paces, at least a few meters to the side as Alex pulled out his sword; a faint hum rang from the blade, the edges turning a slight red. With a few careful swipes the metallic glass cockpit landed with a thud a body's length from her. The sounds of mechanical servos hitching together followed the sight of a box he yanked from the cockpit, the object unfolding then flattening out into a table, hooks lodging into the metal edge just outside the Bullhead to steady itself. Despite the fires licking dangerously close, he reached inside and dragged a limp form out.
The sight that met Amber's eyes was the pilot landing on the flattened metal, just as the words 'Bullhead-EM2286' appeared on a small display to the side, revealing his prize to be a first aid station. Helpless to act, Amber watched the Magi check the pilot (a young man in an Atlas uniform) over for injuries. With a nod, Alex quickly attached an IV and monitor device connected to the stretcher. The pilot was still awake surprisingly, thanks to a healthy gauge of Aura. It didn't stop him from stifling a cry of pain when he tried to move.
"Grimm will be attracted to the crash. Could you-"
She nodded before he finished. In a swift move her blade was drawn and she took a position within a short distance from the destroyed vehicle.
"I'm going to shut off the fuel. Hopefully this thing won't explode." Alex explained to the pilot just as the passenger hatch swung open. The pilot tried to voice his warning through a broken jaw, but was stopped by a hand resting on his shoulder. "Don't worry, I know my way around."
Alex disappeared in the Bullhead's yawning hatch, and the pilot struggle to speak came out as pained groaning. Amber tore her eyes off them when she heard howls of Grimm, jerking to the sound's general direction. Like clockwork, the first were a group of beowolves with an alpha leading the pack.
This… This is going to be fun! Lancer said in her mind, knuckles cracking.
They look to be fast, but weak. Use the lessons I taught you and focus on strength.
Fight defensively, Master. You have an innocent to protect.
Amber nodded, followed by an audible growl from Berserker in her lips. Glowing red eyes raced in circles as they moved in a hypnotic dance before they struck.
Side step right, left arm down and swing! Rider's command didn't need to calm her, as if it were routine in her movements. While her body didn't remember the specific actions, her brain did when she recalled those same movements fighting the gigantic man. In a few seconds, a trio of Grimm were bisected thanks to the sheer length of the weapon in her hands. She came to a halt at the same time as they collapsed into ash.
Her sword stopped mid flight by her strength, and with a quick step to bring herself closer to the blade, she turned the facing to her back before striking again in a wide motion. The best way to handle packs is to control the distance, and here it was proven true; A few more Grimm were killed off as easily as practice.
The alpha proved to be more capable, yet it fell as easily as the rest with a stab from her blade. Breathing slowly, Amber set her weapon down with the tip sinking into the ground.
Good work, Master.
These are Grimm? Lancer asked in disappointment. Sure they got numbers on em, but that's all I see. I could handle that back there even when I was a kid!
As if on cue, another pack of Beowolves appeared, this time without preamble they lunged at her. A sight of another group of Grimm advanced the moment she finished side-stepping, charging with a total absence of fear.
Boars….. I'm remembering something unpleasant.
Is that a giant scorpion? Heh~ Maybe that'll be worth more of a challenge
Amber rolled her eyes at all the souls, even to the point of letting the growl come out in hopes to intimidate the Grimm. Something along the lines of the older they were, the more intelligent they became. Maybe that intelligence would have them cut their losses and run off.
Sadly it wasn't the case. Only the Alpha reacted to her challenge, via a snarl of its own.
Oyy! Switch grips, stab back and vault with it!
Amber did just that per Lancer's instructions, a momentary clear view of the battle leading her to an idea. With a twist of her wrist, she pulled her blade up with her body before putting her weight into a fist, punching the Deathstalker. It's stinger scrapped across her blade until it was lopped off without a roar, Amber crashing her weapon into head.
Her ears twitched at a change in the wind. She raised her weapon arm to impale a Boarbatusk, using it's dissolving corpse as a projectile on a few Grimm of its size. Just then, the sounds of fluttering wings revealed a uncommon sight in Vale.
These things were usually found around Atlas. She didn't know if Grimm had something like migrating seasons, but the colder climate up in northern Sanus could attest to Manticores. Either way, this was bad news. She and Berserker growled at the enemy before them.
I recognize them. Manticore you said?
I as well, Shielder. I recall fighting something like this during my campaigns.
Lancer's hope was dashed yet again; a black spot in the distance gradually sharpened into the blurry image of a woman raising her foot up. With an explosive axe kick, the Manticore crash landed to the ground on all fours, just a bit away from her dispatching another Alpha Beowolf.
Landing on top of the beast, Amber was surprised to find out the attacker was a blonde woman, clad in a Mistralian combat robe with a traditional cloth belt that left a slit to the side of her legs. Her fist glowed into a fiery haze, just before landing on the Grimm's spine.
The ground shook in the beast's death throes, one that would normally take full teams of Huntsmen to kill. Though she didn't finish it off, leaving the Manticore to weakly squirm in clear agony. Amber realized the Grimm surrounding her looked between each other, before backing off for one reason or another. That was until an intricate spear pierced through their exposed backs, revealing a second blonde with a similar robed attire.
A few souls whistled in appreciation.
Nice movement. They're experienced!
"Sister, I don't recall them having backup." The spearwoman uttered.
The 'sister' scoffed. "Nah, Probably reinforcements who laid low."
"I don't think we should bite off more we can chew. What if we're wrong?"
Indeed. I agree with this woman. I'd be best if we keep the situation from escalating.
How do we do that eh? They're the ones pickin a fight.
"Don't worry" The first waved her off with clawed gauntlets, smirking at Amber. "Probably dumb as bricks. Did they even know who they were pissing off?"
Oh she did NOT like barb, and neither did Berserker. Amber stabbed her blade on the ground with a bit of gravitas, growled lowly with the help of her fused ego. The woman cracked her neck with a frown, eyes glinting with a bit of excitement.
"Better knock that off, or else I'll do it for ya." she challenged with a wide smirk.
Well justified by their abilities.
"I really don't think we should do this. The others will be here soon so we can-" Just as the spear holder started, her feet moving slowly in case of a reaction. The other woman cut her off while the first trod to Amber's left. With a silent look at each other, both women took a step forward, with their bodies perpendicular to her.
"We're looking for something. And the guys in there has em." the fist fighter snapped rudely. "Can ya even see through those curtains of yours?"
All it needs is some treatment and it'll look wonderful. But I'd guess that wedge cut of hers is all she has in hair knowledge. But she is… pretty.
Hehehehe~ Who knows what these girls are after. By the looks of it, they're the ones who blew up this Bullhead. Am I right Master?
Regardless of the situation, we don't know the context of this event! I recommend we find common ground.
"Now if you ain't letting us by, well..."her fist crashed into the head of the Manticore and tore it free from the neck, tossing the dissolving mass to land with a dull thud over by a tree. Amber frowned at her silent threat. "You get the idea."
Common ground is they want to bother the people inside the Bullhead. We don't want anyone to bother Alex yeah? So they stay and wait, or move on along.
They could just be scavengers.
Do they look like Scavengers to you?
"Please, sis." The other sister's hands waved up to show less aggression, but Amber was perceptive enough to see the truth; the woman set her spear's dial a bit, turned to reveal a new dust crystal connecting to it's blade. Preparation if anything went south no doubt. "My name's Cassia. How about we all just-"
Whom is to say Shielder? Tis not uncommon to see wolves in sheep's clothing.
Archer's right ya know!? A scammer hiding under the smile of a businessman. A killer under the name of a respected baker. Thieves with a taste of the finer arts. Like that Roman fella! He's not your typical thief!
Caster, stop making sense!
I'm bored, and everyone walking around in circles aren't gonna get us anywhere.
There are innocents, and if they aren't innocents, they're unarmed and unprepared to face these women on fair grounds.
So how bout this: we don't make the first move. If a fight starts, we end it.
We can deliberate this out, Lancer. There are wounded! At least we take the fight away from collateral damage.
That's what he means, Shielder.
"Grrrrr." The two sisters visibly tensed at her growl. Amber's head played back and forth, a dull ache growing large enough to make her annoyed at the pain.
Which the best course of action is no action on both sides. We simply need to wait for people from Domremy to appear. The smoke coming from the fire is a clear sign of danger and the explosion would have created a cause of concern. If they attack, we should and will defend ourselves and those under our charge.
What? You think I'm so callous to kill these girls in a fight? I don't kill women.
What did you imply, Lancer?
Just a code I had when alive. Won't kill if I don't have to.
Unnn, unnnnn. Ugh!
"RAH!" Berserker roared through her lips instinctively the moment the women nudged themselves a few steps closer.
Despite all the noise in her head, Amber bent a knee up before stomping on the ground with her metal heel. Berserker's added strength and her own conscious thought of letting loose caused the ground around her to crack. A crater formed for at least five meters out, pieces of dirt and rock upturned into slight spikes outwards, while she held her blade in one hand. A twist turned the sharp edge towards the duo.
"Don't..." she gritted out, teeth bared. "Come."
In an instant, gauntlet wielder lunged towards her. Claws glowed red and metal met dust when she pulled back to block, the clash of metal ringing out like a loud bell. Amber tilted her head on it's side to dodge an incoming kick from an equally intricate set of heeled boots, taking a hand off her sword to snatch the limb.
Drop the sword, spin and throw!
The woman flew across field and tumbled back on the ground. Just as her feet touched the surface, a shimmer of golden aura surrounded her frame, and the foliage behind her burst into crackling debris.
Upper E in Agility.
This is what I'm talking about!
Lancer's excited howl was accompanied with the flawless thrusts from Cassia, the spear user. With the two women on opposite sides, Amber twisted her frame with barely an inch of free space, Berserker roaring in tandem to the breaking ground beneath her.
In a practiced motion, Amber set herself to a hand to hand stance taught by Rider, parrying a glowing claw. She allowed Lancer to force his way into 'guiding' her leg up, locking the spear on the ground, and gave Cassia a triple kick, ending with a swinging roundhouse.
Mechanical gears whirred, the spear forcing itself short to cause Amber to fumble.
Roll side, then back! Use your center of gravity to get back on your feet.
Archer's crisp bark had the girl following without question. Rider's nudge to kick at her sword caused it to spin in the air, before she caught it to block a slash to her midsection.
Twist! Kick the blade!
Cassia jumped back, narrowly avoiding a messy bisection. The sword's size was both a blessing and a curse (even if it's weight was light to her) as Amber had to let go of the blade from a swipe of claws. Just as it flew into the air, she traded blows with the martial artist. Berserker hissed when the claws grated on her skin, sparks flying on contact as if her Aura was made of steel. A right hand locked the woman's own in place, but instead of hitting her in the chest, she was the one that got knocked back thanks to a sudden and very powerful kick. The fading glow surrounding the woman's frame was all that she was able to catch a glimpse of.
Amber felt a tree or two hit her back, the sounds of crashing trunks reverberated in her ears followed by bird cries and a yell, "What's going on out there?!"
"Grrrrah!" with Berserker's quick thinking, Amber lifted the fallen tree with an arm and swung it wide.
"Wha-" The charging gauntlet user smashed herself into her tree, swatting her into a couple more shattering trunks. Amber charged to tackle the second sister, but instead of making contact a glow came off Cassia's spear, an intense white light nearly blinding her before the woman swung. An energy blade burst forth at the edges of the spear, cutting though both her trees like paper before the sound of a dial chimed. A blue light swiftly appeared, creating a miniature pool of water that swirled into a micro tornado.
I want that.
Amber dodged the incoming torrents of water, only to greet the shimmering form of the martial artist. The woman locked her hand in a steel grip, before landing a few earth pounding strikes on her body. With a spinning throw, the woman flung her away from the spear user.
Mid D in Agility.
"Trident Harpoon." she barked while bringing her fists up.
Cassia nodded. "Gotcha, Anise"
Spiderwebbed cracks formed on the dirt, and Anise, now that she got a name for the fist fighter, dashed towards her in the blink of an eye. With no time to grab her weapon, Amber gritted her teeth when she blocked a string of attacks, somehow more powerful than before. Bones creaked and joints locked as they traded blows. The ground beneath their feet reverberated throughout the area, wind crackling like explosive rounds right by their ears.
The sight of Cassia's spear caught Amber's eye, glinting yellowish-gold off to her side. The tip of the spear opened up to show three separate prongs, each shining with deadly promise. Gritting her teeth, the woman levitated just a few inches off the ground as lightning crackled around her. Yet Anise managed to trip her via a glowing Dust infused kick, darting away in an instant to avoid a comeback. The next thing Amber saw was a bright light that quickly and steadily reached for her.
"Amber!" Alex appeared to her side with ragged breath, the pendulum on his left wrist spinning in a circle. The smell of Dust lingered in her nose just as a glowing barrier covered both their forms.
The attack split apart on impact with Alex's shield. Dirt and rubble shattered from residual impacts of Cassia's attack, stripping away the topsoil from the backlash alone. Nearby trees split in two as if lightning struck them, fires sprouting to life to reach for anything to burn, until they were blown out from the following gale force wind gusts.
An strong but elderly voice called out through the destruction, "What're you two doing?!"
In seconds the light died off, revealing the image of an elderly man with fading blonde hair swept back swiftly matching towards the conflagration. A trimmed beard covered his stern and reprimanding face as his bright blue eyes glinted. Despite his age, the man was well in shape, wearing a fully black set of armor, and a blue and white furred cape. The moment he stopped a couple body's length away, the blonde fighters immediately stopped to gawk at his presence.
He reminds me a bit of an older blonde Agravain.
"Cassia! Anise!" he barked in a mixture of surprise and anger, sounding so much like an angry parent.
"Gramps!" the girls chorused, immediately shrinking back with their weapons lowered. If not for the lingering glows (and the trashed area around them), Amber would hardly have known they were fighting.
Without warning the glowing barrier vanished with a pop and Alex staggering forward a pace wearing an expression of raw surprise.
"Ciaran?! Ciaran Arc?!"
He even pronounced it right!
The old man snapped his head to the Magi. "Alex! That you?"
"Hahahahahahaha!" The old man laughed boisterously, a hand smacking the wheel of an old Dust powered truck they were riding in. She and Alex shared the back seat, while one of the girls watched the wounded pilot in the bed of the truck. The other huffed with her arms crossed at the front passenger seat. How they transitioned from fighting to getting free transportation was something Amber was still trying to figure out.
Eh, I'll take it.
But must we ride in this old trash heap? A woman of my stature deserves no less than a formal carriage, this...thing is an affront to any dignified noble.
Shaking his head again, Ciaran glanced over his shoulder. "Boy, what a misunderstanding, ehh?"
Alex put on a wry smile. "You do understand we could have died, Ciaran."
"I don't believe that for a second." The girl in the front seat growled out. The old man driving sent her a frown, and the girl lowered herself deeper in her seat.
"Girls, let bygones be bygones." he said simply. His tone shifted to that of a teacher lecturing a squabbling pupil.
Alex nodded and leaned in a little to speak. He hoped it would help in them giving them a chance. "It was a misunderstanding. I apologize on behalf of Amber."
"Tch. Whatever." the first girl dismissed, crossing her arms to hunch poutingly.
The other sister from the back called out through the open window. "C'mon sis!"
"We restrained ourselves!" Anise snapped over her shoulder. "It not like she'd go down from a hit like that or anything."
Ciaran sighed; at least it was something, Amber wagered. Better than yet another foe she needed to ki-face, she mentally insisted. There was no way she was going to take their lives over something this petty, no matter what her new instincts compelled her to do.
The ride took a few hours through uneven paths, with the suspension of the truck bouncing up and down from the frequent potholes. She knew she'd feel that when they'd get out. Fortunately after another bend or two, the village he Domremy appeared in her eyes. A few souls whistled in appreciation. She agreed.
The first thing to stand out was the extremely intricate and expansive port covering the majority of the coast. Wooden ships the size of military airships were docked by the many enormous piers as a massive bell tolled for something of importance. Although they obviously were some distance from the bell, the chimes were still amazingly loud over the truck's engine. The second was now clear over what everything was made of.
The walls were the only thing made out of stone and metal, as if it were from chiseled rock, which probably stood there for hundreds of years and held a silent vigil around a village filled with wooden houses and villas. Smoke stacks rose up into the sky to show how many families lived here, contrasted to the various man made rivers going in and out of the village, like another set of roads aside from the ones laid with brick.
And that was all that she saw from her viewpoint, thanks to Archer's eyes. This wasn't even mentioning how many herds of cattle, the farms of vegetables and wheat covering the land, all of it patrolled by conservatively armored guards. Some looked like huntsmen and huntresses to her eye.
"Alright, home sweet home." The girl in the back announced, driving past the gates of the village and closed in to a wide three story house. She assumed this was their destination, which was confirmed when the truck lurched to a stop?
As they all got off the vehicle, another car prowled up with an emblem of Vale. Two men exited to dart towards the truck's bed, swiftly picking up the wounded pilot from earlier with a blend of haste and care, and slowly carried him into the bed of the emergency vehicle.
"Get him to a medical center would you?" the blonde beside him called out, tracking the old man as he strode towards the back. Both paramedics sent him a look, but he didn't try to interfere with their work.
The pilot groaned while he was manhandled onto a gurney. "Oh man. That hurts."
"Are you alright my boy? I'm sorry for the event that you had to experience." Contrary to what Ciaran expected, the pilot looked at him angrily.
"My bullhead's gone! I spent my entire savings on that!" the pilot wailed. Tears formed as they ran down his face. "I just got my pilot's license too…."
The old man smiled at him sadly. "I'm sorry, We were looking for a thief who stole various sensitive materials from the Council Huntsman. We traced the man's lien trail to you."
The wounded man scoffed. "Well sad to say, but he paid for a trip to Vale but never showed up. My bullhead had a shipment of construction tools and mail. Not even a suitcase or whatever it was you'd be looking for."
"I know. We found it at the edge of town by the gates. It was empty and the perpetrator vanished." Ciaran reported.
The pilot spat, mockingly. "Wonderful."
"The Arc family will compensate you. We'll get you a new bullhead." he offered instead. The two men finished tending to the pilot, one staying to hop in beside the man, while the other returned to the cab.
"Yeah, and what am I gonna do then?!" The man hissed from all the muscle ache and bruises. "I'm not gonna get any work after that fiasco."
"Could be worse." the old man shrugged.
"Tch. Look, I should be glad I'm alive. So thanks." The young man admitted, clicking his tongue. "But what am I gonna do now when no ones gonna give me any work? The news is probably spreading on the grapevine to the other settlements by now. Peter crashed on his first official flight! Wasn't even Grimm or a bunch of bandits, and Peter got himself into a criminal muck on his first day! He might be transporting drugs for the Wild Bears or weapons for the White Fang!"
"That won't happen!" Ciaran unexpectedly snapped.
"Che. Yeah right. You might be the Mayor or whatever the Council says you are, but you aren't the Lord anymore. You can't just fix everything with the snap of yer fingers and say, 'all wells that ends well'. This ain't the King's reign; It's Atlas and the Academies!" At the sight of everyone going deathly silent with the old man with a sad expression, Peter quickly looked remorseful after realizing what he said. "S-Sorry… I didn't mean it like that."
Ciaran shook his head as Peter was attached to some medical equipment and a new IV bag. "I understand, my boy. You had your whole life ahead of you."
The man sighed, turning back to Amber and Alex, standing side by side with worry. They weren't the only ones; a group of people came out from the house because of all the commotion. Ciaran smiled, "Now enough of that."
The paramedic promptly waved them off, leaving him to tend to the man's injuries. With that done, the old man waved for the duo to follow him towards the group, while the two blondes left the truck to join them.
"Let me introduce you." the old man walked over to the oldest pair in the group. "This is my son, Veilantif Arc, and Myra, my daughter in law."
The woman was very pretty in Amber's opinion; quite tall at six feet, with platinum blonde hair in a layered hairstyle. She wore a jacket and corset combo with tight fitting pants and heeled boots. The man however...
He looks a bit like Bedivere…. Now that is a weird picture to think about.
"These are all going to be twins now." Myra informed her as the old man, Ciaran nodded alongside a gesture to the next pair of blondes.
"Cassia and Anise. You've already met them."
The two girls she fought stood next to each other, each one acting completely different from the other.
"Pleased to meet you." Cassia waved with a smile, exuding friendliness.
Anise put a hand on her hip, a smirk grew as she spoke. "Yo. Yer the folk Gramps was waiting for eh? Too bad ya came along for nothing."
"Ariele and Evony." Ciaran went on as if nothing happened.
This next pair was weird, if Amber had to put a word to them. Sure the others were a bit quirky, but this?
"Yar! The captain of the Sea Wolf tips her hat to you landlubbers!" Ariele wore a one piece dark blue and black jumpsuit normally seen with engineers under a short grey and white mistralian robe. A brown leather trench coat was the final layer which contrasted with her bright messy hair. She didn't look like she had a weapon on her person but the girl had a wide smile instead.
The twin called Evony groaned tiredly. "Please sis, speak normally. They're not tourists."
This girl evidently preferred something a lot more heavier and armored. Especially when her outfit looked like some science expo armor. A really tight bodysuit covered from the neck down with white segmented pieces of armor lined her limbs. Latched onto her shoulder plate was a bright navy scarf or cape, and golden ribbons wrapped around a few places to give the whole ensemble color. She looked tired for whatever was going to happen later.
Nodding, Ciaran went on. Internally Amber wondered why he was going through all this trouble, though she reasoned it was to make up for the poor first introduction. "Stella and Lucine."
The youngest pair looked as if they didn't want to be there. The leftmost one in particular; despite having a blocky case with the barrel of a rifle or something poking out from her back, she held a portable game console in her hands instead. She wore lighter armor than her older sisters: knee pads over skintight pants, with heeled boots to her thighs dotted with segmented armor, pauldrons on top of a sleeveless Mistralian robe, followed by separated arm sleeves with various armor padding in certain areas.
"Yeah, How's it going?" Stella asked distantly, her eyes glued to the screen of whatever game she was playing. At least until she registered the shadow of a weapon looming over the girl, turning up to gawk at Amber's blade. "Woah, that's a big sword you got there."
The other, Lucine, likewise wore a Mistralian robe, but hers possessed long sleeves without an ounce of armor on her aside from a pair of long black socks followed by heeled greaves. A sheathed katana was by her side with the blade never under a belt but in her hand; Her mouth opened with an 'ahh'.
She bowed slowly in greeting. "Hello."
"So… many..." Amber turned to face yet another pair of women, one looking very surprised while holding a baby in her arms. The one beside her looked a lot like another Arc, so she could hazard some kind of guess.
"And that is Saffron and her wife, Terra." Ciaran finished, unmistakable pride in his tone.
Terra had a growing look on horror on her face while the wife started to smirk. "I know I met you all one by one but now? All of you in one place….Please tell me that's everyone."
"You haven't met the cousins yet." the wife's response earned a playful smack on her shoulder and a groan of despair. Alex figured it was a good time to stop everyone from rushing up to give the newcomers a hug, coughing into his fist to get attention.
"It's a pleasure to meet you all." he bowed in a Mantlese fashion, before gesturing to her for an introduction. "My name is Iskandar Waver Velvet, and this is my companion-"
"Amber." she said quickly, mustering a nervous smile in greeting.
"And this… is Adrian" Terra smiled back, raising her hands to show them the baby. Everyone started to crowd around the women to get a good look, Amber included; his cheeks and head were rubbed while a lot of them cooed at his reactions. Galahad smiled in her mind just as Archer aw'd.
"Oh he's so cute!"
"It was a full term wasn't it?"
"Atlas technology is amazing nowadays. I'm so proud."
Amber didn't join them, contenting herself with watching from the back row. Even so, she let out a soft "Aw." at the adorable child.
From the back, Alex sighed regretfully. He reached for Ciaran, confusion showing on his face.
"I'm sorry if I spoil the mood, but where's the boy?" The collective blank looks which swiveled to him made Alex groan, pinching his nose. "I've been told I'm supposed to evaluate him? A Jaune Arc?"
"Hey, wait wait. Did you say Jaune Arc?" The paramedics hadn't left yet, with Peter waving his free hand to get everyone's attention, hopping off to approach the group despite the doctor's protest. His odd move earned a raised brow from the father, Veilantif.
"You know him?" he stepped forward to face him, waving down Ciaran.
"I'm Peter Gale." he introduced, his face growing aggravated at the older man's blank stare. "You know, I played with Jaune when we were younger?"
"Your father used to work the post office." one of the Arc girls said, connecting whatever dots there were. Amber wasn't sure who the speaker was, having not memorized all their names yet.
Peter nodded, rolling his eyes. "Yeah. Anyways, A week ago, Jaune found me when I just bought the Bullhead. He asked for a favor and I gave him a lift."
"Where?" The heavily armored sister rushed forward with a glare, followed by Anise cracking her knuckles. Myra grabbed them both by their collars to roughly tug, giving the wounded man some space.
"One full trip, no stops. He said he was going to Beacon. The guy barely kept his dinner in that stomach of his." he tried a tittering laugh, which died as quickly as it formed under Veilantif's strict gaze.
Every one of the Arcs calmed down after the pilot explanation, their worry swiftly replaced by quiet cursing. Anise scowled with a fist shaken to the sky. "That kid! Ooooh when I get my hands on him!"
"Thank you Peter. We've been worried about him for some time now. Cassia and Anise scoured the wilds, and Saffron looked around Argos to see if he took a boat to Atlas." The Arc father thanked the young man with a smile. Nodded stiffly, the young pilot was gently dragged back to the truck to get stuffed inside, and with a slammed door the car drove out into the village roads.
After a moment of silence, Alex cleared his throat.
"Does this mean I will not be his teacher? You went through a lot of hoops to find me, Ciaran." he turned towards the grandfather.
The elderly man in question pointed back at him with an accusatory finger. "And you were just going to send a courier with those things to me instead of coming in person if I hadn't asked for you!"
"Who or what are these people anyway dad?" Veilantif stepped forward, planting a gauntlet on his hip.
Ciaran snapped his finger. "Veil! I've been meaning to get you up to speed! I'd been searching for this guy ever since I heard of them by way of my own grandfather. I'd just about given up until he sent a letter about these." The man continued with gestured to the wrapped up bundles in Alex's possession.
After a few minutes to getting to know everyone personally, Amber was given the chance to hold the baby Adrian. The boy was really calm and mature for a baby; laughing and responding to things children his age wouldn't. But to remind her that he was still a baby, Adrian kept a hand on her a lock of her hair, pulling a few times.
She wasn't bothered while all the other Arc girls winced every time he pulled. Thankfully, the souls enhancements on her covered the hair part, no matter how hard his remarkably strong grip yanked. After a few long minutes of consistent tugging, Terra thought it'd be best to take Adrian back, apologizing about the baby's rough behavior.
The group followed the Grandfather into the home's den, which was right in front of the two piece dining room and kitchen. Off to the side of the room were glass enclosures on the wall with stands inside of them. She spotted two of them, although one was covered up in cloth. With some help from the elderly man, Alex set down the bundles onto a table and cleared his throat.
"A bit of a history lesson then." he announced.
"Oh goody." Anise muttered, earning a sock to her shoulder from Ariele. "A nerd."
"From the Arc's historical record, only a few survived over the ages. One spoke of a legendary figure that is thought to be the origin of the Arcs, at least on one side of the family." Alex explained, pointedly ignoring the scuffle. "One of these items is confirmed to belong to the Arc family in blood, and another is believed to be by name. The first belonged to a man known as Gaius."
The Arc family oohed in interest when he unwrapped the unassuming protective cloth to reveal two items: an highly ornate red and gold bow, and next to it a grey and black spear. Both were perfectly clean, untarnished with age or battle as if they were fresh from the smithy. Their edges looked as if they could cut just about anything, and the engravings looked like the life's work of a master artisan.
Amber froze at the sight, the souls in her mind exploding in amazement.
Glancing up, Alex flourished towards the weapons. "Rubrem Mors, the Red Bow of Death and Griseo Mors, the Grey Spear of Command. These paired up with Crocea Mors are the weapons owned by Gaius, your ancestor."
…So some lived to even this era…
"This is presumed to belong to the Arc family. I use the word 'presumed' because there was no records of the original holder ever having children. The most reliable sources only mention a lady by the name of Laeticia. Whom looks nearly if not identical to the original holder of this 'weapon,' although I use that term loosely." he went on.
Alex gingerly unwrapped the next bundle, and this one took everyone's breath away. Ciaran almost had tears in his eyes, wiping an arm across his vision. "Jaune's namesake"
In his hands was something unusually simple: a wood and steel supported flag with a small spear tip at the end. The cloth looked extremely clean, almost freshly woven in fact, possessing a giant fleur-de-lis icon embroidered in the center, and yet despite its appearance, an almost glowing light and warmth radiated from the flag like a fire.
Why would a Magi, any Magi let these out of their possession. Willingly?!
Propping to the side to show the family, Alex unexpectedly started to beam. "Luminosité Eternelle, the great flag which bore the battle standard of an ancient kingdom, its existence known only by its long forgotten name, France. It is said that La Pucelle d'Orléans Jeanne d'Arc, a great leader of this ancient era lead a nearly defeated army to a victory that saved their kingdom, during what is only known as The Hundred Year War."
"Like the Great War?" Saffron piped up, earning a few glances for the interruption, including from a softly cooing Adrian.
"If even part of this mythology is true, it was worse. Although I've only been paraphrasing." Alex reluctantly admitted. With a spring in his step, he set the flag down and reached over to the covered display case. "Now, to get these relics right next to their siblings. I haven't ever gotten my eyes on the last of the trio."
"Alex-" Ciaran started alarmingly, raising a hand to stop him.
When he pulled the cloth away, the only thing to happen next was a sharp intake of breath. This was the first time Amber had thought the man could hit such a high octave with his voice.
"Where's Crocea Mors?!"
"Atchoo!" Ruby turned around, watching Pyrrha quickly offer Jaune a handkerchief. She smiled with a bit confusion at the redhead's expression when she pulled him down to her eye level.
"You okay best buddy?" she checked in worry. The guy nodded, sniffing a few times.
They were already in Vale after a long Bullhead ride from the academy. Being the good friend that she was, Ruby patted the guy's back when he was struggling with airsickness. Her sister however sat far away in case he shot another icky bit of puke. Not that she was the only one.
Ruby thought it was kinda weird though, since Pyrrha had been staring at her since she walked into JNPR's dorm room this morning. She just wanted them to go with her to Vale, go hang with her team, see more of Vale. She was even able to get Weiss to leave after all that studying.
"Yeah, Ruby. I think someone might be talking about me." Jaune said after a moment, blowing his nose once more.
Nora dragged her partner closer and waved her hands with a sinister laugh. "More like someone is putting a cuuuuurse on you, Fearless Leader!"
"Where are you taking us anyway?" Weiss interjected, not wanting the ginger to get too into misinterpreting her words. Ruby thought their dynamic was kinda nice; they figured out their differences about their positions as Leader and Co-Leader of team RWBY, and everything was working…. Okay? Better than usual. Much, much better than before.
The Schnee growled and turned her cheek, when Jaune tried to fix his hair to look better. Okay, so there was still progress to be made.
Nevertheless Ruby giggled. "I'm gonna get you uncle Qrow! He the best of the best of ALL the uncles in the world"
"You said he sees the future!" Nora proclaimed while shoving Jaune's head into his lap. She nodded at her in excitement, finally someone that got it! Her Uncle was really the best!
She whipped around with a bounce to her step, pumping her fists. "Yeah! He knew exactly what was gonna happen at initiation and I wanna let you guys meet him!"
"He probably just got lucky, Rubes." Yang said from her back, just finishing inspecting her nails.
She pouted at her sister. "No way! He knew! He knew everything! I'll show you!"
Jerking herself forward, the red huntress focused on her goal: find uncle Qrow. If she were an uncle Qrow where would she be? Well, that answer was obvious. Either a liquor store, a bar, or at Dad's.
But this…. This was a new Uncle Qrow! He said it himself! He was going straight. He's quitting! No more smelly breath and dirty clothes. No more funny slurs wherever she came over for him to teach her fighting moves. No more messy apartment with bottles of stinky drinks laying all over the floor. And best of all, no daytime naps at random times with a bottle in hand. She tilted her head and frowned, where would a new Uncle Qrow be?
Her quest lasted all of three minutes.
"There he is!" she yelled, pointing excitedly. The others followed her gaze to what looked like a shady man who haunted bars.
The man had a weird stance with his head poking from a nearby corner, looking out to a street somewhere. She ignored all the commotion and dashed straight to give him a big hug, staggering him out of his hidey hole and into the street "Uncle Qrow!"
"Woah there, Little Gem. You off from school today?" he asked back once she let go, wincing as he rubbed his side. She nodded up and down at him, and with an unbreakable grip, she tugged her uncle to the new friends she made at Beacon.
"Yep! Initiation was pretty cool and met a bunch of new friends!" she announced, coming to a halt to beam.
He raised a brow with a smirk. "That so?"
Only Yang knew what to expect from him, everybody else was seeing him for the first time; Blake appeared leery at his very presence for some reason, Nora was wide eyed as she roamed her excited gaze all over him, Jaune and Ren both seemed uncomfortable being nearby him, Pyrrha gathered a friendly look amidst her wrinkling nose, and Weiss... looked like he just made a mess on a carpet.
Qrow cleared his throat awkwardly. "Hey firecracker."
"H-hey Uncle Qrow." Yang looked to her sister weirdly, responding with a forced smile. "You look clean. Like, really clean."
"Well, thanks. Was a bit of a fixer upper but I got it done." he chuckled, scratching his neck (and fighting the impulse to check his armpits). Regardless that was definitely true. New clothes, new hairstyle, shaven face. Everything was so different. She pouted when she discovered Harbinger wasn't on him. Where could his treasured weapon be? "Anyways. This your team?"
Ruby jumped, startled by the question. "Yep! Oh oh, Are you psychic Uncle Qrow?"
"Hmm?" The man chuckled at her question, yet looked confused.
She thought she needed to get the point across. Introductions. That's right. This would jog his memory.
"I mean it! You were one hundred percent right!" Ruby pulled Weiss closer, presenting her stiff form to him. "This is Weiss, My partner."
"Pleased to meet you." the girl curtseyed. Boy, she sure did like to keep everything formal. She noted Weiss was fighting a sneeze, with how her entire face was wrinkling.
"She's the Dust Expert" Ruby proclaimed, clapping her on the back.
Qrow's smile slowly turned into a frown. A sense of foreboding appeared over his head.
"Blake, Yang's Partner. The Ninja!" she introduced next, throwing her arms towards the black haired girl
Blake's ribbon twitched (did it really twitch?) as she bowed politely. The girl frowned with a dusting of red on her cheeks. "Hello. And I want to point out I'm not an actual ninja."
"And Yang, but you already know that." she whooped and made everyone pose together. "We make Team RWBY!"
"Ah ahahahaha." he laughed shakily. Hesitantly he pointed at the last four, and she nodded with a wide smile. His face twisted, like he was eating a lemon.
"Team JNPR. Starting with Nora. The Hyperactive Berserker!" she proclaimed.
The ginger rushed up, punching the man in the ribs hard enough to stagger him. "Hey! You master of all birds and teacher to none!"
"Ren. The Martial Artist!" Her words came out really quickly this time, as the black haired guy was already trying to drag Nora away, from asking every question under the sun. Even if Qrow wasn't gaping for breath, there was no way he could keep up with her rapid fire questions.
Unperturbed, Ruby switched to the next girl. "Pyrrha, The Gladiator!"
The other redhead looked startled, as if this was the first time a friend introduced her to family. That was sad, Ruby thought. Maybe they could hang out a lot more often from hereon. "Ahh, um. Nice to meet you."
But now, it was time for the final nail on the coffin. The last few words to cement Uncle Qrow as Prophet! She pulled Jaune's arm so hard that he tripped over his own two feet, landing face first on the concrete. Everyone winced at the uncomfortable wet smack. Thankfully he chuckled as she pulled him up, with only a bruise to show for his pain.
"And guess what? Jaune. The Best Buddy! The Opposite Wielder!"
Uncle Qrow looked like he was gonna have a baby, or a heart attack. Or he was just really happy she made a lot of friends. Maybe all of them?
"Hnnnnng." he staggered; for a second she though he was drunk again, but his raspy breath told her otherwise. From her back came a series of cleared throats at the unseemly display, with Weiss especially putting distance between them.
Now that she got a better look… Where was the holster for Harbinger? Uncle Qrow would never leave home without it. Her eyes narrowed, scanning the man from top to bottom for any misplaced item. His shoulders were a little stiff for sure, and it sounded like he was struggling with breathing a bit earlier.
She always thought it might've been something to do with Withdrawal though. But now….
"Uncle Qrow." she spoke up, watching the man sweat under her gaze.
She smiled ooh so very sweetly, "What happened to Harbinger?"
And here we are! I'm going to admit something to you. This fic went through alot of planning phases at the beginning. I'm only taking about this now because I've reached to the spot where you notice there was a hint of a different idea in the works in the past.
See. This fic originally wasn't going to have Amber in it. It was going to be about Jaune. I had thought of a plan where Jaune would be taken in to be taught the ways of a Magus. But this was denied after realizing a few key factors. It would go waaaaay too far away from the setting. For instance if Jaune was gonna go to my confirmed locations for the areas of the Mages Association... well what would happen to RWBY and NPR? Nothing. It would be awkward considering I would need to fill a new J in the JNPR. That and JNPR and RWBY wouldn't get enough screen-time. I mean really, the Mages Association in Remnant when they're actually the LITERAL oldest society?
Anyways, Thanks for reading and Enjoy the rest of your day.