A few years later…
They appeared in a blaze of light, two towering figures. One was a radiant, gold, the other a deep purple hue. They were human in shape, their bodies displaying some outline of the musculature a typical human body exhibited. However, the light emanating from their forms obscured most of the details that would be visible otherwise. The golden figure's head was topped by a pair of curving antlers, each one branching off into five points. The purple one's head sported a pair of curling ram's horns.
Light and Darkness, the Brother Gods, had returned.
"The Relics have been assembled," declared the God of Darkness, his voice resonating powerfully. "Called back to the world of man, we shall now pass judgment."
"If humanity have learned to live in harmony, we shall live beside them once more, and grant them the power of magic again," declared the God of Light. "If not…we shall have no choice but to destroy them."
"Sorry, but you're not going to be passing any judgment today."
The gods turned their attention to one of the people who stood before them. She was a young woman, clad in a black and white kimono, decorated with rose-colored armor on her shoulders and hips, a red cloak billowing behind her in the breeze created by the gods' arrival. Her cloak sported a hood, but it was currently pulled back, leaving her shoulder-length hair; black, but gradually fading to red at the tips; to dance in the wind as well. She stared up at the gods with a pair of gleaming silver eyes.
The God of Light moved his gaze down to where he and his brother stood. They were in the center of a circle (or square) inscribed between the four Relics they had left behind. In front of the woman, the Lamp of Knowledge rested, balanced on its base. Behind them, the Crown of Choice rested atop a stone vaguely shaped like a person's head. To either side of them, the Staff of Creation and Sword of Destruction had been driven into the earth.
"So…you are the one who has summoned us," observed the God of Light, returning his attention to the woman, taking note of her eyes. "I see that you are one of the children who received my blessing."
"I guess you could call it that," said the woman. "My name is Ruby Rose and, yes, I am one of the people who summoned you."
"If that is true, then you should have been aware of what was to come," rumbled the God of Darkness. "Assembling the Relics is the call to judgement. If we find humanity wanting, then it shall be wiped from this world."
"You have no right to judge that which you have not even created," said a different voice. A man, somewhat older than Ruby, strode from out of their field of view to stand next to her. Wearing a black kimono, and sporting messy black hair, he looked somewhat familiar. However, what stood out to the gods were the long sword he rested against his right shoulder, and the Crimson Eyes that gleamed out from his face.
"Mibu…" rumbled the God of Darkness, clear anger in his voice.
"That is correct," said Kyo, smiling pleasantly at the two gods. "We know the truth of what you have been doing…Pretenders."
"You returned Ozma to this world in order to subvert humanity back under your control," said Ruby. "But that's not going to happen."
"Is that so?" mused the God of Light. "If you did not wish for humanity to be judged, then why have you called us here?"
"To make you clean up your mess," declared another voice. A young man with tanned skin, his cheeks dusted with freckles, joined Ruby and Kyo. Oscar Pine glared up at the gods with defiant hazel eyes.
"Ozma's new host," observed the God of Light. "And yet, you have not yet merged…no…something is actively preventing your merger." The golden god's hands curled into angry fists. "Who dares interfere with my work?"
"I believe that should be obvious," said Kyo cheerfully.
"And what is it that you seek?" asked the God of Light.
"Just two things," said Ruby. "First, you let Ozma rest. Second…you leave…and never come back."
"It has been quite a long time since I have heard such insolence," said the God of Darkness. "Are you aware of what happened to the last ones who offered such defiance to us?"
"We are," said Kyo. "However, there has been one major thing that has changed between then and now."
"And what is that?"
Kyo's eyes narrowed. "The Intercessor is no more."
Both gods froze, going deathly silent.
"You nearly died, the last time the Mibu opposed you," said Ruby, her hand reaching behind the small of her back. "You would have died, if Kyojiro hadn't been there. But he's finally dead now. He won't be around to stop us…if you want to make a fight of this."
With a whispering sound of grating steel, Ruby drew forth her sword. It was a straight, narrow, double-edged blade, the two edges running perfectly parallel to one another, right up to the sharply angled point. The handle was a rectangle of steel, sporting rounded edges to fit comfortably within her hand, sporting no guard or wrappings. The sword consisted of three separate colors. The handle was a pure ebony color, while the blade's coloration was divided along its centerline, with one half being the same brilliant red as Ruby's cloak, while the other half was the same pure silver as her eyes.
"And can the three of you triumph alone?" challenged the God of Darkness.
"Who said we were alone?" asked Ruby, a smirk appearing on her face.
The gods suddenly became aware that they were surrounded, several figures appearing around them. Besides Ruby, Kyo, and Oscar; there were Team RASP and RYNB, as well as the other three members of MNPS. They were joined by the Goyosei and the Taishiro of the Mibu. Ironwood and Winter stood behind Team CPPR; while Qrow, Glynda, Yukimura, and Taiyang formed a group of their own. Kyoichiro stood beside Sora, amongst the Taishiro, as well as Amber.
"We haven't been sitting on our butts the past few years," declared Ruby. "We've been getting ready for the day you two came back, so that we can make you answer for what you've done."
"Brother…" rumbled the God of Darkness, sweeping his gaze across the force assembled against them.
"This is not a repeat of Salem's rebellion," said Kyo. "Amongst the people who now stand against you, there are many who have obtained god-slaying techniques. Those who can are capable of delivering a fatal blow all on their own. If you wish to try your luck against all of us, I can say that the odds are…very much against you."
The two gods shared a look. Anger and indignation practically radiated from the God of Darkness. However, the God of Light seemed more pensive. Finally, he turned his gaze back to Ruby. "Are you truly certain that this is what you desire? If we leave, then humanity will forever lose the power of magic, along with their chance to be whole once more."
"We don't need magic," declared Ruby. "And we were whole to begin with."
"I see…" said the God of Light.
"Brother…" the God of Darkness rumbled.
"We have lost," was all that the God of Light could say. Then he turned back to Ruby. "What are your terms?"
"Like I said, let Ozma return to the afterlife," said Ruby. "He's earned his rest."
"And shall we undo the changes we have made to this world?"
"No," said Ruby firmly. "No more changes, no more interference. Just take your power and leave."
"What of the magic that Ozma has shared out to others in this world?" asked the God of Light.
"If you can take it without harming them, that's fine," said Ruby. "Otherwise, just make it so that it disappears when they pass on."
"So be it? And what of the Grimm?"
"Leave them," said Ruby without the slightest bit of hesitation.
"Even though they are my brother's creation?" inquired the God of Light.
"The Grimm are a part of this world now," said Ruby. "In some ways, you could say they're what holds this world together. I guess your brother has you beat in at least one department."
That statement actually drew the faintest of laughs from the God of Darkness. However upset he was that the people assembled before them were behaving so defiantly, he couldn't help but take pleasure in the idea that, even though humanity had rejected them, they had chosen his creation over one of his brother's.
The God of Light slumped in defeat. "So be it…" His gaze turned to Oscar. "Ozma…if you have any last words, before you depart this world, now is the time to share them."
Oscar turned to Ruby. There was a flicker of green across his body, and he was suddenly speaking with Ozpin's voice. "Ms. Rose, I cannot thank you enough for this."
Ruby reached out, resting a hand on Oscar/Ozpin's shoulder. "You've fought for a long time, Professor." She sniffled. "I…I'm going to miss you."
Ozpin gave her a warm, indulgent smile. "You shall see me again someday. That much I know. However, I hope it will be sometime yet, before you join me on the other side."
"Of course it will," declared Ruby. "I'm going to live a full, rich life, and then I'm going to meet you again and share a ton of stories with you."
"I look forward to it," declared Ozpin. He turned his gaze to take in the rest of his former students. "You've all made me more proud than I have any right to be. I feel so very much at ease, leaving the world in your hands."
Qrow smirked, taking a swig from his flask. "Safe travels, Oz."
Ozpin nodded to him, then turned towards the gods. "Brothers…I am ready."
"So be it," said the God of Light. He turned his gaze towards Ruby once more. "We shall now take our leave of this world. Are you absolutely certain that this is what you wish?"
Ruby nodded. "We'll be just fine, with or without magic, with or without gods. The people of this world belong to themselves...not you. No matter what…we'll keep moving forward."
"Very well," said the God of Light.
"Just remember one thing," said Kyo firmly, his Crimson Eyes glittering. "If you ever get the notion to return…just remember that we will be waiting for you. Should you trespass upon this world once more, you will get no more second chances."
"Very well," said the God of Light, speaking quickly to preempt his brother's angry outburst. "You have our word that we shall not return." He turned to the God of Darkness. "Let us go, Brother."
The God of Darkness huffed softly. Abruptly, his body transfigured into a beam of dark-purple energy, shooting up into the sky, departing with a violence that nearly blew those around him off their feet. The God of Light vanished where he stood. The two gods had departed in almost exactly the same manner that they had in Jinn's story.
I guess we should be glad that the God of Darkness didn't break the moon anymore than he already did, thought Ruby, looking up at the crumbling orb that hung in the sky. Relieved, she sheathed her sword behind her once more.
"They're really gone…" breathed Weiss, almost seeming not to believe it herself.
"I was almost certain they'd fight," said Pyrrha.
"Yeah, like they'd be stupid enough to try that with Kyo and Ruby here," declared Yang with a fierce grin, "not to mention the rest of us. We'd hand them their asses, and they knew it."
"Oscar…?" Ruby turned to the young man, who was staring at his hands, a look of disbelief etched across his face.
"He's gone," said Oscar. "Ozpin's gone…"
"How does it feel?" asked Ruby, resting a hand on his shoulder again, as Natsuki came up behind Oscar as well.
"Strange…" admitted Oscar. "I guess I…I just got used to having him there, in the back of my head. Not having him around anymore, knowing that he won't be speaking to me again…it feels…" He swiped at his eyes, from which tears were beginning to spill.
Natsuki draped her arms around his shoulders, hugging him from behind. "You'll be okay," she said, kissing his cheek.
"What about you and Amber, Natsu-chan?" asked Ruby.
Natsuki turned her gaze to Ruby, and violet flames spouted from the outside corners of her eyes. "Looks like the gods couldn't take the magic out of me without hurting me," she said. "It's like Sasame-sama said, it's too tightly meshed to my soul now." Not too far away, Amber nodded her agreement.
"I guess so," said Ruby, looking at the space where the gods once stood, noting that something else had disappeared along with them…the four Relics.
Ironwood strode forward, running a hand through his hair, a look of exasperation on his face. "Did they really have to take the Relics with them?" he asked.
"It's for the best," said Glynda. "Even if the Relics were stripped of the power to summon the gods, when assembled, the fact that they were manifestations of the gods' power means that they might have served as a tool for the gods to continue to attempt to interfere with the world."
"Not to mention that they're plenty dangerous on their own," added Qrow. "It's for the best to have them gone, instead of risking them falling into the wrong hands."
Ironwood sighed. "I suppose that's true," he said. "But…the Council probably won't take it well, now that Atlas won't be rising again."
Ruby winced. Considering all the logistics involved in bringing together the four Relics, the biggest complication came from the fact that the Staff of Creation was what had kept the floating landmass of Atlas aloft. In order for the Staff to be removed, the city had needed to be lowered, lest they simply drop it on Mantle down below. And, of course, now that the Staff was gone, there was no means to lift a landmass of Atlas' size again…not without an unrealistic amount of Dust.
"Eh, a floating city is over the top anyway," said Nora with cheery dismissiveness. "Maybe being forced to live on the ground like regular people will help those Atlesians get those sticks out of their behinds."
"I wouldn't hold out hope," commented Blake wryly, Weiss nodding in solemn agreement.
"I think it'll be fine," said Ruby, smiling brightly.
Jaune came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her front. "So it's finally over," he said.
Ruby giggled, before turning her head around so that she could exchange a quick kiss with him. "Of course it's not, silly," she replied. "We're just getting started." After all, there were still going to be plenty of Grimm to hunt. They'd seen to that.
It might have seemed odd to leave the Creatures of Grimm, which were a scourge upon humans and faunus. However, Ruby realized that a world without Grimm might not be the paradise most might have thought. In many ways, the Grimm were the check that would help keep the Kingdoms from falling back into war with one another. With that universal enemy threatening them all, the leaders of the Kingdoms would think twice, before entering into conflicts. Without Salem directing their actions, the threat of the Grimm was reduced. So the era of people living on a knife's edge, with their lives under constant threat from the monsters was mostly behind.
"I guess that's true," conceded Jaune with a calm smile, hugging Ruby closer to him.
Ruby leaned back against him with a happy sigh. No more Salem, no more Jester, no more gods of Light or Darkness...just herself, her friends, her family, and her loved ones. There was a whole world to see, monsters to fight, and a life to be lived.
They were free now, after all.
A bit brief, but I think it works.
I'd like to thank everyone for sticking with me through this beast of a story. This turned into my most successful piece on this site so far, and i'm deeply grateful for all the people who've stuck with it through all the little complications and mishaps along the way.
And now...I'm taking a break. Not from writing, mind you. But it'll be nice to have at least a brief period where I don't have to go through and proofread chapters to get them ready for posting the next day. My next stories are still a ways away from being at a point where I'd feel comfortable to start posting them, so I don't expect to start posting anything new until well into next year. I also intend to make sure that I am much closer to being finished with those stories, so that I don't wind up in a situation where I get stressed out because my posted chapters are catching up to the ones I actually wrote. Fortunately, I had enough of a buffer this time, but there were moments where it got a little troubling.
Again, thank you all for reading. See you again.