And we made it. The final chapter to this three part story. I hope you all enjoy. There will definitely be an epilogue. I already wrote it.
The two girls were starting to get nervous. They had just passed a sign for Saishu Kioku. The town was getting closer and they still had not seen Yang. Worse, they were almost out of time. They would reach the town in a few days, meaning that Yang could be there sooner. Their pace increased. They began leaving behind the non-essentials in order to lighten their loads. They rose long before the sun did and stopped long after it set. The began to split up more, relying on their scrolls to keep in contact. Any path that might lead to Yang, they tried.
The two grew more and more tense. It wasn't just Yang's life at risk, but those of countless more innocent people. People that they had saved only a few months before. If Yang destroyed it, she would not only be destroying the lives of many people, but the last place Ruby saved a life. The place where she gave her own to save them. To become the first person in history to kill a Cryptic. They would not allow Yang to ruin Ruby's last memory. They could not.
And so, they sped up. Their eyelids became filled with bags and their bodies sore from the breakneck pace and lack of sleep. They grew thinner as they ate and drank less. But still, they pushed on.
Weiss smelled fire. It was the middle of the night and she woke from her fitful slumber to the smell of smoke and fire. Quickly, she shook Blake. "Blake, Blake!" She whispered hurriedly.
"What is it?"
"How far are we from Saishu Kioku?"
"Still a few days. We won't be able to even see the town for another two."
"I smell smoke."
Blake shot up immediately, taking in a deep breath to confirm the smell for herself. It was definitely smoke.
"Yang couldn't have reached the town yet. Even if she did, the smoke wouldn't be able to reach us."
"Then what's burning?"
Weiss's eyes widened as her own thoughts answered her question. Blake's answer soon followed.
"Yang!" She spoke as one, leaving their sleeping bags where they lay and grabbed their weapons.
They saw her flames before they saw her body. No wonder the villages had burned down so quickly, her flames rose higher than they had ever seen. They began to feel the heat, but pressed forward, now running and shouting out Yang's name.
Finally, they saw her. Her clothes were in tatters and her hair unkempt. There was soot on her cheeks and scrapes and cuts across her entire body. Around her bicep was a thin strand of red fabric. The same material that made up the strands around Weiss's and Blake's own biceps. Ruby's hood had been split between her family and closest friends. Tai said it was what she would have wanted.
Yang walked forward at a very slow pace, screaming in rage without breath. Her moans filled the air and struck fear into the girls.
"Yang!" Blake shouted.
Yang froze, her shouts silenced by the mention of her name. She turned to face them. Her eyes blood red and crossed into a look of shear torture.
"Yang?" Blake tried.
Yang screamed wildly, charging at the monochrome pair with fury, her hands balled into fists and locked behind her in a wind-up strike. Blake jumped away as Yang threw her first attack, striking Blake's shadow clone, disintegrating it immediately.
"Yang it's us! Your friends!" Weiss called out, diving for cover as Yang struck at her.
This did not stop the enraged blonde, who fought on. Throwing punches and kicks wildly at the two. Weapons drawn, Blake and Weiss charged in, hoping to land even a single strike that could break Yang's aura and stop her everlasting semblance.
Yang was strong. Immeasurably so. Blake retreated, leaving another shadow-clone made from stone in her wake, only to have it demolished with a headbutt. Yang spun with an open-handed strike, hitting Blake in the shoulder, sending her spirally to the ground.
"No!" Weiss shouted, diving for her friend and unleashing a flurry of white dust. Ice filled the space between them and the blonde. A glacier of frost and ice forcing Yang to take a step back from her one-time allies and friends. It was melting quickly.
"Come on Blake. Get up. Get up Blake!" She shouted, pushing hard on her shoulders and more gently on her cheeks.
"Ugh, she's stronger than I remember." Blake groaned, rolling onto her side.
"We can't stop her like this. There's no way to talk with her. No way to reason with her or calm her down. She's all anger." Weiss was frightened, the fear clear in her eyes.
Yang screams continued.
"Those screams don't sound angry to me." Blake whispered.
They didn't. They didn't have the same ferocity that came from Yang's hard temper. This was something different, something more emotional than rage or anger. These were moans of pain and anguish. The ice wall continued to melt, leaving glaring holes inside which only grew as Yang continued to punch it. The two team members could gaze onto Yang's fiery face. Her eyes were red, but they were also bloodshot. Her scowl was less so, one of hostility, but one of complete and utter sorrow. There were no tears, but it was clear the girl was crying. Her flames were evaporating the liquid.
Yang's semblance. It did not gain strength from just physical pain. Any pain worked. Emotional pain worked well. There was no stopping Yang's semblance, because there was no stopping Yang's grief. The two looked at each other, knowing what must be done. Their expressions were grim, but they nodded to each other in confirmation. It was something they must do. Something to save not only Saishu Kioku, but the memories of both Ruby and who Yang had once been.
The ice wall collapsed. Blake and Weiss sprang into action. Weiss sent a torrent of dust at Yang, while Blake struck from behind. Gambol Shroud struck hard into Yang's back, slicing at her shoulder blades. Blake grit her teeth against the immense heat, which was digging into her own aura. Still, she pressed on, leaping back as Yang twisted to strike.
The blonde had no time to consider Blake, as Weiss darted forward quickly with the aid of her glyphs to land a blow on her chest. Myrtenaster dug deep, then was pulled out, striking again and again. Yang howled in pain, but continued her own onslaught, striking the two girls with powerful blows.
Yet Weiss and Blake fought on. Even as their aura decreased, they fought. There was nothing else they could do. Blades against fists. Drawing blood as often as possible to slow down the blonde's tortured fury.
They struck. Hammering into her. Not resting, even as they grew more tired. Panting from exertion and stress. They knew what was coming.
Weiss struck first.
Blake followed soon after.
Yang's flames died down. She looked up at her two teammates. Her red eyes flickered, then filled with lilac. Her clenched jaw relaxed and her hard expression softened. She looked to Weiss first, then to Blake. There was no malice in her. No disappointment and no confusion. Her shirt was soaked with blood and it continued to seep through.
"Weiss. Blake." Yang said.
Their eyes filled with tears.
"Thank you. Thank you so much."
Her eyes stilled and she slumped forwards. Her last words having been spoken. Weiss sheathed her blade and Blake followed suite.
"Say hello to Ruby for us." Weiss whispered.
She spun around, hugging Blake tightly, her forehead resting in the crux of Blake's neck. The two girls held each other as the blood of their friend pooled at their feet.