That was the feeling that Jaune got when he arrived in front of the next building. The black archway seemingly welcomed them, but as it was later in the day, there were more students about. The upperclassmen wandering near this building, in particular, sent half-hearted glares their way before ignoring them completely.
That was… odd, and despite his lack of experience when it came to schools, he felt that this wasn't normal.
He wasn't sure what his companions felt about that as they had ignored it and hurried inside. However, when they reached their classroom, someone had already beaten all the students there.
A woman, who must have been the instructor of this course, silently leaned back on the teacher's podium. She eyed the students entering, almost like she was a predator sizing them up for a meal. It unnerved him, but Jaune kept a level head and took his seat. Nobody could have faulted him for taking a seat far back, away from the… intense teacher, for lack of a better term.
Unlike the crude-looking Qrow, she was much more well-kept, but she was much more… wild in comparison to the more professional Winter. This woman had her duel disk equipped already, where the previous teachers didn't. It almost looked sort of like a… katana? That was weird, where would she even place the cards? Maybe the card slots popped out of the blade? At least he could see the deck holstered at her wrist.
"Finally," she said. "If there's one thing I hate about this job, it's the students who think they can take their time."
"But we aren't late?"
The one student who said that was met with a glare from bloody red eyes. Jaune recognized her to be the niece from mister Qrow's class, the one in a red hood.
"You aren't, but thank you for volunteering, Rose," she almost sneered. "I can see that your sister has decided to skip this introduction. No matter. If she wants to earn herself detention, that is up to her."
Jaune widened his eyes as he looked around the classroom, finally noticing the missing student. Weird. Was she late? No, that couldn't be it. Her sister was here, so how could she be missing if her sister wasn't?
The uneasy glance he sent his seatmate, Pyrrha, mirrored her own.
"I am Raven Branwen. Instructor of the Xyz course," she curtly introduced. "Here, you will learn the intricacies of summoning monsters without levels. Monsters that do not need spells to summon them, tuners to rely on, or scales to depend on. The only limitation they have is that they need other monsters with matching levels. Levels, that you can easily work around by building your deck so that their levels do not mismatch. Out of all the summoning methods, Xyz Summoning is easily the most independent. Whether you will be able to learn and utilize them to their highest potential remains to be seen."
"So she's the Xyz instructor…" Jaune heard Pyrrha mutter under her breath, followed shortly by a sigh.
"Yes, I am," the teacher instantly replied. "Do not think I am hard of hearing like my brother, who you have all no doubt met already. Do you have any complaints about me, miss Nikos?"
"None ma'am," Pyrrha replied with a perfectly calm smile on her face, despite being caught off guard. "I would be honored, but I notice you haven't said anything about if you are…"
"Qualified?" she snorted dismissively. "Fine, I will humor you, but only because the last two batches of first-years already learned."
The screen behind her came to life and revealed a masked duelist with several medals hanging behind her. Said mask was white with almost tribal red markings on it.
"I am formerly known as–"
Her eyes snapped to the student who whispered. From what Jaune could hear, it was either out of awe or fear.
"Yes… and you have detention for interrupting me," she almost growled as she looked to her SCROLL. "Cardin Winchester. You, at the very least, have some worth. It is unfortunate that I already have a volunteer. Isn't that right, Miss Rose?"
The hooded student nodded meekly.
"Good," she almost smiled, but it died soon after she continued to eye the SCROLL in her hands. "To answer your question, Nikos. I am a former Action duelist. I've made a name for myself as a premier Xyz Specialist. There is no one, and I mean no one, who has reached the limits of this summoning method than I. Does this make me qualified in your eyes, miss Nikos?"
A stiff nod followed her statement, to which she snorted and walked away from her podium. Almost as if on queue, the podium sank into the floor.
"To give a basic summary on Xyz monsters, you require at least two monsters of the same level. Overlaying them atop one of another summons an Xyz Monster, which will have the same rank as the levels used, but it is not a level and certainly not treated as level zero. Make that mistake and I'll see you in my office, with extra study for as long as you can breathe. Continuing on, the materials for the Xyz summon do not go to the graveyard like Synchro Summoning, but remain attached to the monster in the form of overlay units, which an Xyz monster can use to varying degrees," she surmised. "However, I will not explain how varied they are today. Rose, on stage."
"Do I need to repeat myself?"
The meek shaking of her head was followed by leaving her seat and standing on the opposite side of the instructor.
"It is my firm belief that worthless lectures have no place in the minds of students. Dueling is a sport, and as such, is best learned as all other sports are learned, with your body," she said as her duel disk activated. The long blade split from the edge and revealed five slots and sockets. "Prepare yourself, Rose. I will show everyone here exactly what Xyz Summoning is."
An overlay appeared on their screen. It showed the life points of both duelists and the field state, likely just so they can easily follow what was going on.
It also displayed their names. Raven Branwen and Ruby Rose.
"So that's why the lecture rooms look as big as they are…" Ren muttered. "It is because we can duel in them."
"Is this going to be alright?" Jaune couldn't help but question the act. "Isn't this basically bullying?"
"Given how it is just a mere exposition duel, it can't be that bad," Pyrrha reasoned. "However… given what miss Winter said earlier…"
It didn't bode well.
"You will be going first, Rose."
It only occurred to Jaune now, but she was really focusing on that name for some reason. When Raven said it, it was almost as if she was looking at someone else, but that couldn't be, right? Why would she…
Jaune shook the thought away and focused on the duel. He also noted that the girl's duel disk looked like a rose. However, it quickly changed shape as it unfurled, mimicking a scythe-head.
"I Normal Summon White Rose Dragon!"
["White Rose Dragon" L4 DARK - Dragon/Effect - 1200/1000]
It was odd-looking. It looked like what a dragon would look like, but much more majestic, and with a white rose flowering from behind it.
"I activate her effect when she's Normal or Special Summoned, which allows me to Special Summon a Rose Dragon monster from my hand, except another White Rose Dragon! I Special Summon Roxrose Dragon in Defense Position!"
["Roxrose Dragon" L3 DARK - Dragon/Tuner/Effect - 1600/1200]
It sort of looked like the other one, but more pinkish in color.
"I now activate the effect of Roxrose Dragon when she's Normal or Special Summoned. This allows me to add a card that lists 'Black Rose Dragon' in its text to my hand!" She explained. "The card I add is Basal Rose Shoot!"
"Now, I tune White Rose Dragon with Roxrose Dragon, to Synchro Summon my special monster!" she declared. Once again, just like with his entrance duel, he saw the monster transform into motes of light, three of them, which transformed into rings. The White dragon leaped through it as a flash occurred. "Come out, my avatar of hope and dreams! Huntress of the Crescent Rose!"
The light faded and rose petals fell from the sky. A giant scythe held by the daintiest hands. It was impossible to tell what it looked like under its hood of petals as the two voids of white that could be seen from underneath it told them nothing. However, it spun its scythe with its root-like limbs before posing with the scythe behind it, or was it a she?
["Huntress of the Crescent Rose" - L7 FIRE - Plant/Synchro/Effect - 2400/1600]
"So she's a Synchro duelist…" Jaune muttered. That was cool. Maybe he could summon like that?
"I activate her effect, which allows me to banish 1 Plant or Dragon in my graveyard, and if I do, I can activate Black Garden directly from my deck or graveyard! I target White Rose Dragon!" she explained. "However, before that, if White Rose Dragon is used as Synchro material, I can send a level-four or lower plant monster from my deck to the graveyard. I send Rose Girl."
"She chained it, which is good. It would have been disheartening if she accidentally fumbled it, especially in front of an audience," Ren noted. Jaune also made a note to look up what 'chained' meant.
The girl, Ruby Rose, grabbed a card that had been pushed out of her deck and placed it on what must've been the field zone of her duel disk. In an instant, the area around them… shifted.
Jaune had studied Hard-Light technology, so he knew that there was more to it than just creating holograms of Duel Monster cards, but once he saw the vines seemingly creep out of every orifice of the room, he quickly realized that there was more it could do.
It was as if they had left the classroom and entered a garden of twisted and malign roses.
"I activate the effect of Rose Girl in my graveyard. If I control a Plant monster, I can add it to my hand," she announced. "There's much more I can do here… but I'm fine with this for now. I set one card and end my turn."
"She's being careful to not overextend," Ren noted. "However, I'm uncertain if that was a wise choice."
"Or the choice of monster," Pyrrha also noted. "I'm certain that the regular Black Rose Dragon would have been better. Do you think this monster of hers has the ability to disrupt on her turn?"
"Since it isn't in the common database, I presume it's because she won a Schnee-sponsored competition," Ren replied.
"What's that?" Jaune found himself asking.
"The only place to get one-of-a-kind, unique cards."
Jaune blinked and looked one row below him. A pair of feline ears twitched as a black-haired individual turned his way. Belladonna, if he recalled correctly. "I overheard and answered. Pay no mind."
Jaune dumbly nodded but quickly turned back to the duel once he heard a card being drawn.
Ruby Rose seemed to wilt at the comment but stayed standing. "What makes you say that?"
"To think that this is the extent of my brother's protege, one he has personally trained," Raven mused with a frown. "Very well. I draw."
Personally trained? Jaune blinked as he eyed his classmate.
"I Normal Summon, Raidraptor - Vanishing Lanius."
["Raidraptor - Vanishing Lanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 1300/1600]
Jaune looked at the strangest thing. It was a bird, yet there were no feathers. It had three robotic eyes staring at the world around it. Its wings were less capable of flapping and more just iron struts sticking out of the creature, with a few more struts sticking out of those. It was also vaguely green, like the color of a bush at night.
"Upon summon, by the effect of Black Garden, your monster halves its attack, then a token is Special Summoned to my side of the field in attack position."
["Raidraptor - Vanishing Lanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 650/1600]
["Rose Token" - L2 DARK - Plant - 800/800]
"I activate the effect of Crescent Rose!" Ruby shouted. "If a monster's attack is changed, I can destroy that monster and Special Summon a Rose token in its place! I can only use this effect of Crescent Rose once per turn, but that's good enough! Flay that turkey!"
The Synchro monster spun its scythe and bolted forward, leaving a trail of petals in its wake. It only came to a stop as it passed through the mechanized bird, cleaving it in two.
Raven did not even bat a glance as her monster was destroyed. As it was shattered into motes of Hard-Light, it slowly reformed into a small Rose token. Although, it grew weaker as another token was summoned to Ruby's side of the field.
["Rose Token" - L2 DARK - Plant - 800/800]
["Rose Token" - L2 DARK - Plant - 400/800]
["Rose Token" - L2 DARK - Plant - 800/800]
"Huh? Why'd another token get summoned? There are three on the field now?" Nora tilted her head.
"The field spell says it activates if a monster is Normal or Special summoned, but it only excludes the tokens it summons by its own effect. The token summoned by the Huntress of the Crescent Rose was not summoned by Black Garden, and thus, was susceptible to its effects," Ren explained for his friend. "Although, I'm starting to see why she chose that monster."
"Why?" Jaune asked, genuinely curious.
"Because it's a disruption," Pyrrha helped out. "That Synchro can, with the aid of Black Garden, choose whatever monster miss Branwen summons to destroy. She chose the monster that is Normal Summoned, which locks miss Branwen from doing anything further… in a regular scenario."
Regular scenario? Jaune raised his brow.
"Unfortunately, that field spell, which she seems to base her strategy around, is going to be her downfall," Ren concluded.
"I control this Rose token, a Dark monster. With this condition cleared, I Special Summon Raidraptor - Strangle Lanius."
A similarly mechanical bird to the last, but this time white with a few golden highlights. It howled as it assembled onto the field.
["Raidraptor - StrangleLanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 1600/1100]
["Raidraptor - StrangleLanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect- 800/1100]
["Rose Token" - L2 DARK - Plant - 800/800]
"As I control another Raidraptor, I can Special Summon Fuzzy Lanius from my hand."
["Raidraptor - Fuzzy Lanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 500/1500]
["Raidraptor - Fuzzy Lanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 250/1500]
["Rose Token" - DARK - L2 - 800/800]
"She has a full board of Rose tokens," Nora muttered and frowned. "Yeah, I can see why now. That's rough."
"Why?" Jaune asked. "She has a pretty good defense. If she can deal with it this turn, she as a solid shot next turn."
"Optimistic to assume there'll even be a next turn," Pyrrha sighed.
Was it… was it really going to end in one turn? Like miss Winter mentioned before? Has the game really evolved to the point where games can end in one turn?
"I activate the effect of Pain Lanius in my hand," Raven announced. "I can target a Raidraptor monster that has a level. I take damage equal to its attack or defense, whichever is lowest. I target Fuzzy Lanius and lose two-fifty."
[Ruby Rose: 4000 / Raven Branwen: 3750]
What was summoned was much smaller than the other two birds. It mimicked a canary, but still retained the robotic appearance its peers shared.
["Raidraptor - Pain Lanius" - L1 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 100/100]
["Raidraptor - Pain Lanius" - L1 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 50/100]
"Now that Pain Lanius is summoned, Pain Lanius' level matches the initial target. Fuzzy Lanius was level 4, as such, Pain is also level 4."
["Raidraptor - Pain Lanius" - L1 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 50/100]
["Raidraptor - Pain Lanius" - L4 DARK - Winged Beast/Effect - 50/100]
"I control three level-four Winged-Beast monsters, and with them, I construct the Overlay Network."
There it was again.
In comparison to the beautiful Synchro Summon performed by Ruby Rose, this oppressively ominous Xyz Summon seemed to darken the room, a miniature galaxy formed beneath the three birds as if called by their cries. They shot into the air as golden light before merging with the swirl below.
However… that wasn't all. Something was up.
For some reason, Jaune could feel the difference between this summoning and the one he felt back at the entrance exam. From what before was a presence he quivered against in shock, this he practically cowered from.
Was this why dueling was a career so few went for? Are the summoning mechanics themselves being more than just a mechanic? Did they need to inspire certain feelings? What was it with these summoning mechanics?
Raven's eyes seemed to narrow and dilate. "Appear and besiege your foes, Raidraptor - Rise Falcon!"
The coalition of the three birds finally made itself known. It was almost similar to the first Raidraptor summoned, Vanishing Lanius. However, it was much larger, had more steel rod feathers, and seemed to demand all to gaze upon it in caution.
["Raidraptor - Rise Falcon" - DARK - R4 - 100/2000]
["Raidraptor - Rise Falcon" - DARK - R4 - 50/2000]
A hundred–? No, there must be something more to it. He knew that these Xyz monsters had strong effects by using their overlay units somehow. How would it help here–?
"By detaching one overlay unit, I activate Rise Falcon's effect," Raven declared. "I can target one Special Summoned monster you control – namely your Crescent Rose – and gain attack equal to its own. This raises my monster's own attack by twenty-four-hundred."
["Raidraptor - Rise Falcon" - DARK - R4 - 50/2000]
["Raidraptor - Rise Falcon" - DARK - R4 - 2450/2000]
Jaune winced. Now it was higher–
"I sent Fuzzy Lanius to the graveyard by detaching an overlay unit. I activate its effect and add another Fuzzy Lanius to my hand," Raven notified, but it was dull and unenthusiastic, almost as if she was… bored? "Let the battle commence. Rise Falcon attacks your Rose token with a Feathered Salvo!"
The falcon complied, soaring high into the air and lambasting the poor flower with missiles– miniature explosions that shook the Hard-Light field until nothing of it remained.
[Ruby Rose: 2350 / Raven Branwen: 3750]
"Do you know why you've lost?" Raven asked. "You were your own downfall. This field spell you've seemed to base your strategy on is flawed. Your appalling attempt at weakening my monsters may work against a subpar duelist, but not against my raptors, who have the capacity– the strength to rise above it all."
"Hey, I'm still in this! I still have life points!"
"As if that matters," Raven dismissed. "Rise Falcon can attack all Special Summoned monsters. Care to guess what your tokens are?"
At the paling complexion of his classmate, she did.
Jaune did too. She couldn't have even summoned them in defense position, because the Black Garden card itself wouldn't allow it.
Ah… so that's why everyone said it was over.
"You should have played around this. You were playing first, yet you only managed to set up a single disruption? What point is there in preparing recovery when you will never see the next turn? And to summon your monster in attack position? Foolishness! Once more, Feathered Salvo!"
Jaune winced harder.
[Ruby Rose: 700 / Raven Branwen: 3750]
"Rose Dragons are a versatile archetype, yet you seemed to have failed to grasp how to use them," Raven berated. "A shame. One last Feathered Salvo!"
[Ruby Rose: 0 / Raven Branwen: 3750]
And one last barrage eroded Ruby's life points to zero.
When the smoke cleared, so did the botanical mess of a garden. Ruby Rose stood hunched over. Even from the very back of the classroom, Jaune could tell she was gritting her teeth in frustration.
The frustration she must have felt in that duel, knowing that there must've been more she could do– but also knowing that their professor had held herself back. Raven had two more cards left in hand, and if it was anything like his own game against Goodwitch…
It hadn't even been five minutes.
And she didn't stand a chance.
"Show me your hand," Raven had ordered, suddenly standing in front of the girl. Begrudgingly, Ruby had followed her orders. "… What is this? Rose Archer? Rose Paladin? Did you look up all cards with Rose in their name when you made your deck? By running Paladin and Archer I'd assume you're playing a going-second deck, but from how you're running Black Garden and that Synchro, you seem to want to play a going-first deck and prevent your opponent from establishing a presence."
She shuffled the cards and handed them back to Ruby. "Decide for yourself what you want your deck to be. As it is now, it's nothing more than a glorified mess of cards. An amalgam with few coherencies, not enough to even be considered second-rate. A deck that has no idea what it wants to be… and perhaps the duelist reflects this. Return to your seat, now."
Still gritting her teeth, the young Rose returned to her seat further away.
This was… yeah.
Miss Winter did say that it was humiliating. Extremely so, especially when you could barely refute what was being said in the end. Jaune felt every word as if it was he himself who was being lambasted.
It just hurt to watch.
"Pyr-Pyr," Nora whispered, "You're an Xyz duelist, right?"
"Yes, I am."
"You sure you don't want to switch?"
The slow shake of her head was all she could offer.
Jaune supposed that it was too late to do so. She had won championships, three amateur circuits– which Jaune somewhat realized was similar to Goodwitch's own three world champion streak, so it meant she was set in her deck and style. Switching now would do more harm than good.
It was still frustrating to know one of his companions– or were they friends already? – would be studying in a course under… under… this person.
"As you can see, Xyz monsters generally require no spells to be summoned with, no Tuners to act as a crutch, and especially no Scales to over-commit with. Instant and overwhelmingly strong effects. That is what I will teach you to master in this course, should you prove worthy enough to attend it," she snorted. "Although, I already know most of you aren't going to. If you want to be babied by the other instructors, fine. Do as you wish, but know that obtaining true strength, real power, and overwhelming victory, starts here, in this course. Dismissed."
Without even waiting for them to leave, Raven had already left. Without an instructor, many of the students did the same.
And Jaune… he eagerly followed.
One thing was for certain.
He was not picking this course.
"Well, you all look like you just died," a relatively laidback man said as he stood aside from his podium. "Let me guess, you were in Raven's class, weren't you?"
"Can I say something, sir?"
"Sure. Let's see here… Nora, right?"
"Yeah. She's a bitch–"
"Nora!" Ren hastily covered her mouth and pulled her down.
For such a breach in conduct, the older man just laughed at it. "Yeah, she totally is! Don't worry, everyone thinks that, even her coworkers. It's charming though. At least she's true to herself."
"Yeah, a true bitch."
He sighed. "Miss Xiaolong. I've heard you skipped a course introduction, care to explain why?"
"Why? The bitch is why."
So the Xiaolong girl already knew who the instructor for the Xyz course was? Jaune was just a little bit surprised to learn that, but only a little. He was still very much… whelmed, by that situation.
"And because of that, you've left your sister to handle her," he berated with a sigh. "Damn it, Yang. Okay, enough doom and gloom everyone. Take a deep breath, and think about something that makes you happy. Are you good? Great, breath out, and let's get this orientation going."
He coughed and readied his laser pointer. From the corner of Jaune's eye, he could see the two… sisters? Yeah, sisters. They were talking to each other, but they seemed to be okay. You'd think that after practically abandoning one to the wolves they'd be just a little bit bitter.
Maybe there was more history there, especially since the teacher here also seemed to know. Again, none of his business– just like with the Schnee pair from earlier, so he focused on the lecture at hand.
"My name is Taiyang Xiaolong, the teacher for the Pendulum Course, and a former Fusion Duelist," he said. "Now to explain why I'm a former Fusion Duelist. I'm sure you all realize how recent Pendulum Summoning is and how few cards there are currently to use. This means not many people play it, and there are a rare few in Vale that do, which means I had to swap over and learn it, all so that I can teach it. I know this makes me seem like a newbie to Pendulums, but many people are. I also know that not many of you are going to pick this course, but I'm still going to try to sell you on it anyway."
The screen behind him disappeared and revealed the monster zone, but there were two extra zones to the side of it.
"Those are Pendulum Zones, and they are where you place your Scales," he started. "Now, I'm sure you're wondering. What's a Scale? Well, let me tell you. Here is a Pendulum card."
An image was displayed, showing something called Amorphage Goliath. It was essentially a giant purple dragon.
"As you can see, it's got the same color as a monster and a spell card, and that's because they're both. You can Normal Summon and Special Summon these boys from your hand, graveyard, and deck like you would regular monsters. However, as you can see, they have a second text box above the normal one. This is their pendulum effect."
Jaune paused as he took down notes. Another effect?
"You see, you can place these guys in the Pendulum Zone. They'll be treated as spell cards, and thus, will be susceptible to cards like Twin Twister, so be careful about those," he warned with a smile, a much more carefree and laid-back smile. A complete one-eighty to their previous class. "Now that we've explained what the cards look like, let's get onto the summoning itself. Do you see the numbers on the side of the upper text box? That's the Pendulum Scale of the card, which is what we need to Pendulum Summon."
Another card was shown. It was called Amorphage Pride. It was also a dragon… maybe? It had both a dragon head and a griffin head, almost as if the dragon was growing from the griffin, like a tumor.
"Goliath has a Scale of five and Pride has a scale of three. Does anyone know what this means?" He asked, to which he pointed at Weiss Schnee with her hand raised. Jaune was glad he was starting to remember these people's names. "Yes, Schnee?"
"It allows you to Special Summon level-four monsters from your hand or face-up in the Extra Deck unless the Pendulum Effect states otherwise."
"Correct, especially the latter part," Taiyang smiled– oh wow, he really was a breath of fresh air from Raven. Jaune dreaded the poor souls who were attending her lecture right now. "Some Pendulum monsters won't let you Pendulum Summon monsters outside of their archetype. Note that she said level-four monsters, plural. As long as the monster's level, or rank, is within the scales, you can Special Summon it. When they inevitably get destroyed or leave the field, they don't go to the graveyard, but atop the Extra Deck face-up."
Jaune noticed something and raised his hand.
"You said rank, what do you mean by that? I thought they weren't treated as levels?" It was one of the things that stuck from Raven's introduction.
"Ah, haven't encountered Xyz Pendulum monsters, have you?" He smiled. "No worries. I have an example right here," the screen behind him shifted and showed an Xyz monster, but with the same additional text box, scales, and a spell card colored bottom. "Lo and behold, the rank four monster, Hope magician. As you can see, it's an Xyz Pendulum monster. Notice the first part of its main text, under the summoning condition. If you can Pendulum Summon four, you can Pendulum Summon this face-up card from your Extra Deck. Note, face-up card, which means you have to Xyz Summon it first with level-four monsters and have it leave the field so that it can return to the Extra Deck this way. The same applies for Fusion Pendulums and Synchro Pendulums– and yes, those varieties do exist. Now, why is this notable?"
"It enables you to recycle them."
"Didn't raise your hand, but I'm okay with that," Taiyang nodded as he looked at his SCROLL. "Lie Ren, correct? It says here that you're a former Synchro Duelist, only recently shifting over to Pendulums. I trust this is why?"
At his nod, Taiyang also nodded.
"Yeah, I thought so. Though, that isn't a bad thing. The ability to recycle your materials– the resources to create strong plays, every turn with Pendulum Summoning, is inherently a pretty busted mechanic," he explained. "This means, unlike other summoning mechanics that lose steam over time, a Pendulum duelist can keep going or extend their plays, provided they have the Scales to summon them. This is also their weakness. Destroy their Scales and you ensure they can't Pendulum Summon, maybe with something similar to Anti-Spell Fragrance, and you have them on the ropes. Any more questions? Yes, Cardin Winchester?"
"You said you were a former Fusion duelist, so what did you play?"
"A little more personal, but alright," he snickered. "It's nothing to write home about. I used to play Invoked and just Normal Summon Aleister."
Jaune just blinked as some people around him snickered and laughed.
"Anyway, this class isn't about me. It's about you seeing if you want to join me in learning about Pendulum monsters. It's new, young, and probably going to be a wild ride. Make sure you make the right decision. Because you aren't going to be able to swap into another course until the year is over. I think that covers everything, so you're free to go. Don't be late to Goodwitch's lesson though, even though lunch break is right around the corner. Take care!"
And just like that, the fourth meeting of the day was over.
"Well, that was much more pleasant," Pyrrha noted. "I suppose we should all rest for today?"
"Yes, I think heading back to the dorms, or the cafeteria even, is a worthwhile endeavor," Ren nodded. "Nora?"
He sighed. "Of course."
Despite his sigh, Jaune found himself smiling.
"You two are real friends, aren't you?" He said. "I've never seen such a close friendship, not even in the books back home."
"Is not-burglar trying to butter us up?" Nora accused before she smiled. "It's working. Nora will deign you worthy to ascend."
"Is Nora referring to herself in the third person now?" Jaune smiled.
"Nora is attempting something new. Nora finds she does not like it. Hey, Renny, I heard the third cafeteria has ice cream! Let's go!"
Without even waiting for his reply, she dragged him off into the crowd, fading into obscurity. Unfortunately, this left both of their roommates standing before the pendulum building's red archway, alone.
"There they go," Jaune sighed. "Do you want to follow? I'm not really feeling ice cream today… and I think I need lunch. What time is it again?"
"It's twelve," Pyrrha answered a she looked at her wrist. "It checks out. Our classes started at eight and each was around an hour long. As for lunch… If you want to find something to eat, I'll be more than happy to help you look for something."
"That'll be fun," Jaune nodded before he looked at a nearby campus map. "Ah, the second-year cafeteria is this way… Hmm."
Should he go and meet them again? They did help him out a lot. The least he could do is say hi.
"Jaune? Something wrong?"
"No, just thinking about meeting some upperclassmen. Two of them helped me yesterday, so I want to at least say hi again."
"That's admirable. Do you mind if I join you? I'd like to meet more than just my roommate's friend and his roommate."
"Sure. I think this path will take us there," Jaune nodded. "A red-bricked road leading out of the pendulum building. Just follow it for a bit and take a right. It shouldn't be too hard!"
It had taken quite a while, close to ten minutes, to even reach the second-year cafeteria. Luckily, due to the campus being so large, there were actually moving walkways, or whatever those sideways moving escalators were in airports. This made moving around campus much easier for them.
Although, Jaune started to wonder how everything on Beacon was getting funded. There was no way everything here was cheap, in fact, it should be astronomically expensive! Custom Deck scanners, high-tech identification cards – for both students and staff, he had realized – and even all the facilities for various dueling types.
Jaune never really thought about the logistics to professional dueling too hard, mostly just wanting to duel for a living regardless if he managed to hit it big or not, but after experiencing what the premier dueling school had to offer… it really got him to sit down and think.
Was it really that people liked to watch dueling, or was there something more to it?
Jaune honestly wanted to actually abandon his current goal of thanking his upperclassmen, but a sense of obligation kept him on his path. He'd have time after classes to look into it further, he supposed.
"So this is the second-year cafeteria…?" his roommate muttered. "It's not too different from ours."
"You've seen the first-year cafeteria?"
"Yeah! Yesterday after orientation! Right, Renny!?" Ow, my poor ears. How did Ren not notice at all? Was he just used to it? "We also explored the dueling arenas! Did ya know that EVERY room can become a dueling room!? Wowzers!"
"It certainly is astounding to know they've installed Hard-Light projector in each building," Pyrrha noted. "I'm quite certain that no other duel academy has done anything similar. Perhaps rumors of Headmaster Ozpin's philanthropy haven't been for nothing?"
"It's really something, huh," Jaune agreed.
From his brief talks with Saphron, Jaune knew that Hard-Light technology was really expensive.
Considered a breakthrough of the modern era, Hard-Light technology offered all that regular technology would be capable of but with the added bonus of no computation limitations. A box inches wide had the same capability of a standard laptop. Such a fantastical piece of technology was thought to only exist in fiction, yet here they were enjoying its benefits.
To put things into perspective, you could fully render a CGI movie in under an hour where it would take movie companies of the past two or three years to render. It honestly boggled the mind at how it revolutionized the entertainment industry.
And he threw it away just to duel a card game.
Jaune shook his head and held back a sigh. Regardless if it was objectively the worse path to embark on, Jaune knew what he wanted. That's what mattered the most.
The only downside to Hard-Light, if it could be called such, was the odd power source. Jaune didn't know what fueled it as of yet, as he had not looked too far into it. It's kind of a childish reason. He just didn't want to look into it, because that'd give his father incentive to push for a Hard-Light education.
"There it is!" Nora shouted as she bolted down the – sidescalator? Bah, he'll just call it a moving walkway. "Behold, the second-year cafeteria!"
"It's quite quaint, isn't it?" Pyrrha said to her roommate. "Although, it doesn't look too different to the first-year cafeteria."
"You guys have seen the other cafeterias?" Jaune raised a brow.
"After orientation, we were allowed to explore on our own time," Ren informed him. "Although, Nora and I mostly used that time to locate the Tag Duel arena."
Jaune took a look at the cafeteria and noted the bustling number of students. There were steel chairs surrounding metallic tables, but surrounding them were stands in which he could see people selling. Though, he was pretty sure he recognized for than a few brands from his time shopping with his sisters.
"It kind of looks like a festival," Jaune noted.
"I think that those are franchises that paid Beacon for the ability to sell to the students here," Pyrrha supplied.
"A stable income and creating potential brand recognition," Ren nodded. "A worthwhile deal."
"Renny, there's pancakes!" Nora shouted. "Come on! We need to see if it's better than yours!"
"But weren't we here to–? Pyrrha tried asking, but her roommate grabbed her wrist alongside Ren's and bolted down the cafeteria.
Of course, that left him alone.
"Hey, it's the freshy!" he heard a familiar voice call from to the side. A quick glance revealed it to be Fox, but he was holding an ice-cream cone. Strawberry from the looks of it. "What're you doing here? The first-year cafeteria was a couple of turns back?"
"I just wanted to come along and say hi, and maybe introduce you to my roommate…" Jaune started as he looked towards the pancake stand. "Although, it looks like he's a bit preoccupied."
"Who?" he asked before he looked. "Oh, damn. Already nagged two? What a player."
"One seems to be his friend and the other his friend's roommate," Jaune supplied. "Want to go say hi?"
"Sure," Fox snickered. "Might as well grace some freshies with my glorious presence!"
Jaune was about to laugh but noticed something odd.
"Oh yeah. Where's Velvet? I thought she'd be with you?"
"Bun's somewhere around here. Question is, who are you."
A quick turn to look behind him revealed sunglasses dangerously close to his own face.
"Nice job. You scared him."
"Nice to meet you, Wah," she laughed. "The name's Coco Adel. What do you want with my roommate?"
"You're Velvet's roommate?" Jaune muttered once he got over the surprise. "Oh uh, it's nice to meet you. The name's Jaune Arc."
"Short, sweet, rolls off the tongue– and the ladies love it," Fox snickered. "Did I remember that right? You told Vel something along those lines."
"Oh, so we've got ourselves a little flirt?" Coco laughed. "Looks like I'll have to warn her about getting too close to boys!"
"You heard that part?" Jaune groaned. "Look, that was a one-time thing. I didn't mean to make it sound like… that."
Oh, ye, regrets of youth.
"So Bunbun's a one-time fling? What a dangerous little playboy we've got ourselves here, Fox."
"I know, right? Poor Vel."
"You guys are being mean," Jaune did not pout. He made them realize how irritated he was by crossing his arms like his father always did.
"Sorry! Sorry!" Coco continued to laugh. "This guy's one of a kind. Good job, Bun! Already breaking off your shell, huh?"
"Coco!" Velvet's sudden voice called from behind her. She was holding two crepes, and it didn't take long to realize that Coco had ditched her as a little prank. "Stop! I was just helping him!"
"And I'm really thankful for it," Jaune smiled.
"See? He's thankful? I bet he'd be willing to do anything to pay you back."
"I guess. I don't think I'd be here if it weren't for Velvet. I owe her a lot." Jaune shrugged. However, he perked up and turned to Fox. "Oh, you too! I'm seriously thankful!"
"Gee, lay on the sappy happy stuff why don't you?" Fox snorted before he also realized something. "Did you manage to get a disk– and I mean a Duel Disk?"
"My sister said she'd get one built for me," Jaune replied. "Until then, I'll keep using the rental. Is that a problem?"
"As long as you get one, not really," Fox shrugged. "I'd hate to see you get kicked out after all that effort I put into keeping you here."
"Your sister's building one, eh?" Coco… leered? It was hard to tell with those sunglasses. "What, is she some tech-wiz? Beacon doesn't allow half-assed disks. I had a classmate get kicked because his malfunctioned mid-duel."
"Nah, professor Branwen was just feeling trigger-happy at that time," Fox said. "Point is, as long as your disk works – preferably without malfunctioning, it should be fine."
"You better pay us back for helping you though," Coco smiled. "Extending the rental period indefinitely is not cheap. Do you understand, playboy?"
Playboy–? No, more importantly…
"How much?" Jaune frowned. "I'd hate to inconvenience. The soonest I can get my disk is in a week."
"It's not that much. Coco's just being over-dramatic," Velvet rolled her eyes as she handed the crepe back to its owner, who took an enthusiastic bite out of it. "And what do you mean by 'us'? It was Fox and I who did everything."
"Your accomplishments are the accomplishments of the team~" Coco singed. "Don't worry though, I'll make sure your boy-toy doesn't scam you."
Jaune blinked as Velvet… assaulted, for lack of a better word, her roommate. What was a boy-toy? And what was a playboy, for that matter?
"Not-burglar is being bullied! Nora Assault, GO!"
Reacting faster than he thought he could, Jaune raised his hands and managed to catch his roommate's friend before she could cause a scene. "Wait, Nora! I'm not being bullied!"
"Renny! Poor Jaune's being manipulated into saying he isn't bullied!"
"I actually doubt that, Nora."
"And this is?" Coco tilted her sunglasses down and raised a brow.
"My roommate," Pyrrha arrived. She held a pancake held as a crepe would be– actually that might just be a crepe. "I'm sorry. She must have thought our friend here was being accosted. I assume you were the upperclassmen he wanted to meet? The two that helped him yesterday?"
"Already making a name for yourself with the freshies, Vel," Fox snorted. "The name's Fox Alistair. A second-Year enrolled in the Pendulum Course. Nice to meet you."
"Velvet Scarlatina, also of the Pendulum Course," Velvet introduced herself with a sigh. "I hope you enjoy your time at Beacon."
"Coco Adel. Short, sweet, and rolls of the tongue. I've yet to learn if the ladies love it," Coco snickered. Oh, come on! That's just being unfair! "I'm in the Synchro Course, so if I see any of you birdies in the drunkard's class, we can hang."
"I was under the impression that classes were separate across year levels?" Pyrrha questioned before introducing herself. "Pyrrha Nikos, an Xyz Duelist."
"Unlike Velvet and Fox here, I've swapped course to Synchro. This means I have to start at the same place as you, but I get to skip a few classes," she explained. "Also, Xyz? That's rough. I used to be in that course so let me tell you, you do not want to get on her bad side."
"I think we've already learned to not do so," Ren sighed.
"Yikes, she's already humiliated a student?" Fox frowned. "How long did it take?"
"One turn," Pyrrha sighed. "It was quite a… saddening display."
"That's one way to explain it," Jaune also sighed.
"Uh… is this normal for her?" Velvet asked. She had been sitting to the side, calmly listening to the conversation, but now she leaned away as Nora stared her down. "She's… a little close."
"You… you were the one to help not-burglar?"
"She means me," Jaune waved. "Long story."
"I see…" Velvet gulped. "Um, can I help you?"
"Not really, no," Nora suddenly leaned away and took a seat next to her. "Quick question, do you tag duel?"
"Uh, not really? I'm more of an Action duelist–"
"Hey, Ren! Look! That stand has fries!" She said as she got onto her feet and drag her friend away. "I bet we can get them with cheese!"
"She must've lost interest," Pyrrha concluded with a somewhat tired smile. "I'm sorry, my roommate is a little off, but I'm sure she means well!"
"I don't think those two introduced themselves at all," Coco frowned, but likely realized it couldn't be helped. Nora was Nora. That was the best way Jaune could describe her. "So, who were they?"
"Lie Ren. He's my roommate," Jaune explained. "He's a good guy- if a little bit silent at times. I think he's joining the Pendulum Course?"
"And the chick?" Fox raised a brow. "Is she also in the Pendulum Course?"
"My roommate – Nora Valkyrie. She says she's more of a Synchro duelist," Pyrrha supplemented. "But she seems open-minded to try the other courses."
"–and speaking of courses," the tanned Alistair smiled. "Got one you're aiming for?"
Jaune blinked. "Who, me?"
"Duh you," Coco rolled her eyes. "I noticed you didn't really mention any. Got anything specific in mind?"
"I…" Jaune frowned. "I was mostly just going to wait until I learned what all the courses were. There's still one more I haven't gotten to see yet."
"Goodwitch's course?" Coco raised her shades above her head. Oh, so she had brown eyes. "Are you sure about that? I doubt you'd like it. Not many do."
Really? "And why's that?"
Coco and Fox shared a look.
"… You'll see," she said. "Not to rip on Goodwitch, but I think they did her dirty by making her teach that class."
Jaune narrowed his eyes.
It couldn't be that bad, could it?
A blue archway led them to into the building. Compared to the other courses, Jaune noted that it was slightly… deserted. There were hardly any students on his way to the class. In fact, the only people he saw around were his fellow first years and a couple of technicians.
The sheer scarcity of people… rubbed him oddly.
"Greetings," the familiar voice of his evaluator greeted. "My name is Glynda Goodwitch, but I request that you call me by my title, professor Goodwitch."
Jaune blinked at the classroom around him.
Were they… ignoring her? Why? And why didn't she care? She was clearly annoyed, so why not reprimand them?
"I'm certain that you do not need me to recount my accolades to determine if I am fit to teach this class," she continued. "So I shall be direct. This course will go over Ritual summonings and their applications. I will not fault you for thinking the mechanic is dated, which it is. However, I will request that you at least pay attention to the words leaving my mouth."
Okay, she might be a bit more peeved than he first thought…
The whiteboard behind her flickered as the projector showed a blue monster card going by the name of Impcantation Chalislime. Just like Fusion and Pendulum, he had no idea this existed before. He'd have to rectify this hole in his knowledge.
"Ritual Summoning operates through the use of a Ritual Spell, which enables you to Ritual Summon a monster from your hand by offering tribute from your hand or field unless specified otherwise, usually monsters whose total levels equal or exceed the Ritual monster's level. For example, a level ten Ritual monster would require either two level-five monsters, a single level ten monster, or even a level twelve monster."
As Jaune began to take his notes, he also noticed the distinct lack of others doing the same.
"I suppose that it is not dissimilar to Fusion Summoning in that it can let you Ritual Summon from varied areas through the use of a spell card. However, it is limited due to not being within the Extra Deck. This means that, should you choose this course, you will have to deal with Ritual Monsters showing in your hand, utterly without use until you pull a Ritual Spell.
"The same can occur vice-versa, a useless Ritual Spell in your hand until you can draw the monster. Although some modern Ritual Spells allow you to Ritual Summon using tributes from the deck, those are far and few between. Early iterations of the summoning mechanic were incredibly limiting. Unable to search Ritual Monsters, unable to search Ritual Spells, and requiring the tributes from your hand or field. The entire mechanic is quite a negative in card economy."
Jaune nodded as he did the mental math. One Ritual Spell and Monster, plus at least one tribute. That was three cards minimum to summon even the weakest Ritual Monster; in other words a neg-two. Although, compared to Fusion, not much was different. There were two monsters and a spell, so it was still a neg-two to summon one Fusion monster–
"However, since other mechanics also end up with a negative card economy by virtue of using more than two or three cards, this is not the primary reason that most consider Ritual Summoning dated," Goodwitch sighed. "The primary reason is that the Ritual Monsters themselves are required to be in your Main Deck, and not your Extra Deck. This means that you are more likely to open a brick– a dead hand in which cards cannot do anything, in more literal terms. In the current meta environment, I trust you understand why this is a problem."
Ah… now he saw why it was generally bad. A whole mechanic neutered by the inability to use the Extra Deck. That was saddening. It'd likely do just as good as Fusion too if Ritual Monsters were allowed to be in the Extra Deck.
"So why even teach it in the first place?" a familiar blonde from the Synchro class asked. "If nobody wants to use it and everybody agrees it's a dated mechanic, why use it?"
"A valid question, I suppose, but please be mindful to raise your hand miss Xiaolong," Goodwitch sighed once more. "The main reason is that, because Duel Monsters is a game in which every card since its inception can be played, it is necessary to teach every mechanic since its inception as well. Beacon Duel Academy offers to teach every student every possible summoning mechanic through its courses. If we do not include a course on Ritual Summoning, then we go back on our promise. It's a matter of image, I suppose."
"Eh, I guess I can get behind that," Xiaolong shrugged.
"Although I will admit, there have been efforts to make the mechanic work in tournament play," Goodwitch explained. "Archetypes such as Nekroz and Heralds have proven to be capable and steal a win or two… However, compared to other summoning mechanics, the viable archetypes for Ritual Summoning are quite low, far lower than even the recently released Pendulum, which has received more support in comparison to Ritual; a fledgling with potential being given more than an old hawk past its prime, as it were. It is often that the best Ritual Decks are ones that find a way to bypass the Ritual Summoning mechanic's limitations."
She sat on the podium and crossed her legs.
"To sum Ritual Summoning in a short, concise manner," she said. "Ritual Summoning is like Fusion Summoning, but far more prone to bricking. It uses levels like the other mechanics – such as Synchro, Xyz, and Pendulum – but it does so as if an afterthought, out of the need to have a cost for it to summon potentially powerful monsters. Assembling the necessary pieces for a Ritual Summon is, for an extreme comparison, akin to drawing pieces of Exodia.
"I will not lie to you all. If you wish to succeed as a professional duelist, choose another course. The Ritual Course is a relic of a bygone era, and even during the said era, it was scarcely used. The only reasonable reason you should have to join this course is to learn about it in a purely academic manner. Practically, this mechanic has no merit," she paused. Her eyes flickered across the room before landing on him momentarily. "However, should you choose this course, I shall personally help you learn every facet of the mechanic. That is all. I hope you make the right choice for your course. After all, this is your future as duelists on the line. Do not make a mistake."
Why did it feel like she was sending him a look? Was he sitting weird?
And just like that, miss Goodwitch left the room. The students pretty much did the same.
"That was a little disparaging," Ren mused. "Though, I supposed it cannot be helped. There hasn't been a Ritual-focused deck that even reached the semi-finals of a tournament in years. She's wise to let potential learners know of the risks."
"At the cost of ruining the course's enrollment rate," Pyrrha frowned. "I suppose it is unfortunate. To keep such a well-renowned duelist here, confined to teach a course that nobody is willing to enroll in…"
"It's likely that she's the only one willing to teach it," Ren sighed. "You'd think that Ritual Summoning would get better as time went on, but… when compared to the newest mechanic of Pendulum, it doesn't match up."
"Hey, Renny, I'm bored," Nora whined, likely having fallen drowsy at the previous course introduction. "Can we go try out the Tag duel arena!? I think they're open today!"
"I suppose," he nodded. "I have to get used to my new deck, after all. Will you two be joining us?"
"I would be delighted," Pyrrha smiled. "Jaune? What about you?"
"Huh, me?" Jaune blinked. "Sorry, I blanked out. What did you say?"
"Will you join us for a Tag Duel?" Ren raised a brow. "Or perhaps you are tired and wish to retire to our dorm?"
"I think… I need to look into the summoning mechanics a little more," Jaune said. "Miss Goodwitch is right that the course we pick can determine our career. I don't want to make the wrong choice. My own deck doesn't really use any of these mechanics."
"I suppose so," Ren smiled. "But do not worry. Even if you do not own an Extra Deck monster for the respective summoning type, the school is more than willing to offer some generic staples so that you can get used to it quicker."
"That's good to know!" Jaune said with a smile. "You guys have fun. I'll be in our room… or the library. There might be something useful there."
"Take care," Ren nodded. "I'll see you shortly."
"Don't over-stress yourself, alright?" Pyrrha reminded.
"See ya later not-burglar-but-maybe-a-nerd!" Nora… upgraded his nickname. Cool.
As they left, Jaune also rose to leave.
Her eyes flickered across the room before landing on him momentarily.
… He'd have to do a lot of thinking.
Next Chapter: 2021-2022 (KEKW)
A/N: I got lazy, but found time to write the last 2 scenes for this fic. The scenes prior to the last 2 were written months ago. Time be a bitch with how it can't give you any, but she do be lookin' fine tho.
Idk. I think you have a solid idea of what I want to do with this fic. Hopefully. Just in case you didn't realize it; I wanted to write an underdog duelist story. Do NOT expect that Jaune's ass deck (so far) to win him every game. He's going to lose his fair share of duels. That's just how Yugioh works as a game. You get luck-sacked or play suboptimally.
Also, I realized I didn't provide what Decks the characters will be playing... and now I don't want to. Get cucked OMEGALUL.
But, I'll let you know what the course instructors use as decks as compensation.
-Qrow Branwen: Blackwing
-Raven Branwen: Raidraptors
-Winter Schnee: Cyberdragons OR Gemknights (still undecided tbh. Both sound good)
-Taiyang Xialong: Amorphage
-Glynda Goodwitch: Dark Magicians
That's that, but if you think you have better ideas for what deck they'd use (keep in mind the course they teach) then shoot.
Until next time (maybe KEKW),