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Training alone can only take you so far, that was a fact that Weiss was aware of; with that in mind she requested permission to Professor Goodwitch and Headmaster Ozpin to go to the Emerald Forest.
While most of the teams were satisfied to just spar, the Schnee heiress wasn't most, with her desire to lead her team to achieve heights like no other and also to keep nurturing the strength of their weakest member.
Right now, team WIAN was on top of the very same hill they had been thrown in their initiation, just thinking about it made it look like it happened so long ago.
"Remember Jaune, keep your posture." Pyrrha warned her partner who was about to jump from the hill.
Practicing the landing strategy was a must for the blonde, given that in the past he had been saved by the red-haired champion.
"Go for it." Ichigo said.
"Don't bring shame to team WIAN." Weiss ordered in her 'team leader' voice.
The knight took a deep breath to control his nerves, before he ran to the hill and took a high jump.
Gravity took hold of him no long after, he had to resist the reflexive need to shout in horror, before he extended his body horizontally and used his shield to the front, like a missile.
He didn't posses the grace that both Weiss and Pyrrha had, nor the skill of Ichigo but he did have the durability needed to take multiple damage against his shield.
Sadly, his defense only lasted against a few branches before he lost his posture and landed back first to the ground.
"My back!" Jaune groaned in pain, before he was joined by the rest of his team.
Weiss had used her glyphs to descend to the ground safely, Pyrrha had jumped from branch to branch until she got to the ground, while Ichigo simply jumped and landed in a crouch with a hand touching the ground completely unfazed by the jump.
"Are you all right Jaune!?" the red-headed champion asked in worry for her partner, which he responded while getting up.
"Yes, I'm fine, my aura protected me."
Aura was a real life saver, in hindsight he couldn't believe how foolish he had been when he had thought that he could make it into Beacon without at least knowing the basics.
"Don't forget why we are here." Weiss said, while unsheathing her rapier while walking deeper into the forest with her team following her.
Unknown to them however, there was a figure standing over them in the branches of a tree.
The person's attention however was solely on Ichigo, the mysterious figure dug what looked like a silver coin and she crushed it into dust in one move.
It was a Grimm bait, hard to find and even harder to make, luckily the person had connections, soon enough the place would be surrounded by Grimm, giving it the perfect opening to finally find out if he was right about this young man.
The Grimm came out of nowhere, the amount was easily equaling and almost surpassing the amount they faced during the initiation, but this time, they weren't a group of potential huntsmen, this time they were a team.
"Black Steel!" Weiss called the pair maneuver, with Jaune using his shield to stop the attack of a Beowulf and Ichigo taking the opening jumping and slicing the Grimm's head off.
"Ice Spartan!" The next team attack was in the form of the heiress using a dilatation glyph to elevate an Ursa in the air, with Pyrrha thrusting her spear to the monster's chest,
"Snow Blade!" The last pair went with Ichigo attacking a Beowulf from the front, with Weiss attacking it from behind with a thrust, effectively destroying the Grimm.
The team quickly rejoined back to back, the numbers of their opponents was dwindling rapidly, just a three of them were left after almost a whole hour of fighting, but that didn't solved the question as to why so many Grimm attacked them at once.
"I don't get it, so many Grimm's at once, without a clear sign of negative emotions, doesn't make sense." Weiss muttered breathing heavily.
In fact, besides Ichigo -who was only a little winded- both Jaune and Pyrrha were exhausted by the long battle.
Suddenly a new figure appeared landing in front of them, it was a tall woman, dressed in long black hair, her face was covered by a white Grimm-like mask, while wearing a black kimono shirt with a black skirt, black heels with leggings and gloves. On her hip she was carrying a multi dust scabbard with a red nodachi.
The weapon was enough evidence to demonstrate that whoever this was, she was a huntress. In a lightning fast move, the woman unsheathed her sword and immediately destroyed the remaining Grimm with minimal effort, while sheathing her sword.
With all the monsters gone, she turned her attention towards the team WIAN and slowly unsheathed her blade again in a threatening fashion and pointed the tip at the huntsmen team in a clear hostile fashion.
"Who is this person?" Weiss asked curiously, first the woman helped them and now she was threatening them.
"Guys, stay back." Ichigo said while stepping forward.
"What are you doing? We are a-" The heiress started, but got cut off by her partner.
"You guys are tired, you would only get in the way, let me handle it."
The team leader wanted to argue so badly, but she knew he was right, she still hadn't recovered her breath, the same could be said for her teammates.
The mysterious woman rammed at Ichigo with the swing of her blade which was immediately countered by the teen.
Both fighters immediately began launching numerous attacks that were immediately countered by the other, until the woman landed a kick on Ichigo dropping him to the ground, but he quickly stood back up, not taking his sight of his opponent.
"You can do better than that right, Shinigami?" The woman suddenly spoke tauntingly but her last word, significatively rang in Ichigo's head.
Shinigami? What was that? Why did that sound so familiar to him?
Putting those questions in the back of his mind for the time being, the teen refocused into the battle.
"Getsuga Tensho!" He shouted launching his slashing attack, but the opponent simply sidestepped it.
Whoever it was, she was good: ferocious attacks, and no wasted movements whatsoever.
Ichigo expected the battle to continue but instead the woman turned her back on him, observing the marks caused by his attack, her back was open, but Ichigo wasn't foolish enough to believe that her guard was down.
The scars on the surroundings caused by the Getsuga Tensho were deep and hot, it was clearly dangerous to take the attack head on, but nowhere enough to the level that was needed against her.
"Hey!" Ichigo called angrily. "The fight's not over yet!"
The woman turned to him, but instead of attacking she dug from her skirt a brown book and threw it at him, which he caught by reflex.
"Knowledge is power and you're lacking an awful lot of it." She said, before slashing the air and creating a red portal. "Regain your memories, become stronger and prepare yourself; you, the Quincy and the Fullbringer have the potential to become the mightiest beings in existence and put an end to this never-ending war."
The last statement was said with a little of dark emotion in her tone, before she went through the portal and disappeared.
"What was that about?" Weiss asked after finally regaining her breath and stood next to her partner.
"No idea." He responded, before observing the item that the mysterious woman left him.
It was a brown big hard cover book, with the yellow drawing of a flaming skull.
Hours later both Ichigo and Weiss were back into their dorms, they had alerted the professors about their encounter with the mysterious attacker and for their surprise for once the headmaster Ozpin was surprised as well, to the point were he almost dropped his mug.
They were ordered to remain within the academy for the time being, meanwhile Ichigo decided to take the chance and see what was so special about the book he was given.
A long time ago, existed a king that ruled over with justice and courage alongside his loyal right hand-guard; Until one day his kingdom was threatened to be overrun by the monsters of Grimm, in that desperate moment they beseeched the help of their creators. They knew that the God of light would refuse to involve into the problems of man, so instead they took the choice to seek the God of Darkness.
"Oh, creator of freewill and chaos; I implore thee to lend us the power to protect our people from the monsters of darkness, a power beyond ordinary magic, this is what I, the noble king implore of you."
"I shall only lend power to one of you, decide amongst thou who is more important; thy king or thy warrior?" The god of Darkness questioned.
The question took the king by surprise and doubt, until his loyal comrade stepped forward.
"Then, allow thee to become one with my king, allow thee to be the horse that will carry him to battle, to be the blade that will fight alongside him and to serve him to the very end, allow my king to be both the King and the Warrior. This is what I implore of thee, God of Darkness.
The divine creator of chaos impressed by the devotion of the mortal complied with the request, they became one being, one warrior, one king.
A being beyond any magic; a Shinigami.
That was the end of the first chapter of the book, but it just left him with even more questions.
He couldn't deny the similarities with himself and Engetsu, plus the word truly sounded familiar to him.
Was this what he was, a Shinigami?
Where there more like him, where, and how?
The book was old, there was no doubt about it, it obviously required special care to keep it in one piece, and the pages were in a deep yellow color.
"How was it?" Weiss questioned in her nightgown, and her hair down.
"Just some old story, doesn't tell me much thought, I'm just as lost about myself as I was from the beginning." Ichigo replied with a sigh, while putting the book elsewhere.
The heiress hummed sympathetically at her partner, before speaking again. "Then how about I talk to you about my life, then maybe that can spark something in you?"
Weiss was a little conflicted about this, since she usually was a closed person from the loneliness, she went through most of her life, but she has known her partner long enough to know that she could trust him.
"My mother wasn't really present in my life, a least not after I turned 10, my father has never really been much of a paternal figure, my sister Winter on the other hand she was perfect, she's strong, smart, beautiful, dignified and I just love her, but she left to become part of the Atlesian military, leaving only Withley and me."
"You have a brother?" Ichigo asked curiously since she had never mentioned it before. "Is he a Huntsman student too?"
That question caused a wince that she couldn't quite hide, she looked as if someone had slapped her in the face, a fact that her partner didn't fail to notice.
"If you don't want to talk about it, I-" Ichigo started but the heiress cut him off
"It's fine; Withley, suffers from a disease that makes him uncapable from materializing his Aura, while not life threatening, he can't become a huntsman. 'and he couldn't escape with me either.'
They had truly cared of one another, with their home as cold and lonely as it was, their bond truly made it bearable, but when Weiss left, he was betrayed, she could only hope that one day, they could just make up.
Pyrrha was in the rooftop training Jaune, while the blonde had been doing some progress, he still had a long way to go, but he was still willing to do it.
The champion was proud of her friend, but while she had spoken with her leader in defense of the knight, she also couldn't help but doubt, the opponent that attacked them in Emerald Forest was beyond skilled, to the point where Pyrrha doubted her chances, what about Jaune then? Would he be dragged into a fight he still wasn't completely ready and cost him his-.
"You okay Pyrrha?" The blonde's voice snapped her from her thoughts. "Usually you would have me in the ground by now."
The amazon smiled sheepishly at the assumption, while not incorrect, it was still a little embarrassing.
"You talked about it with Ichigo and Weiss, but you and I haven't." She spoke with her tone turning somber since she was about to go into a subject she didn't want to. "Are you sure you want to stay here? I still believe in you, but with everything we keep encountering, I-"
She would have continued until Jaune cut her off. "I know that, to be honest I don't I will ever be on the same level as you guys."
"Jaune, don't say that!" Pyrrha said, not wanting her partner to be disheartened.
"It's okay." The blonde protested, he didn't look as bothered by it as he would have in the past, it was a clear sign that he was maturing. "Is just like Weiss is always saying, this team will reach heights like no other and I want to be part of that, even if I'm not the strongest or the greatest I want to help this team, because you guys are my first friends!"
The last part was said with a happy smile, causing the red-head's heart to skip a beat and felt heat in her cheeks.
The mysterious woman reappeared right next to a young woman with short brown hair and blue eyes. "How did it go, Raven?"
The woman took of her mask revealing a pale face with black hair and red eyes. "He's raw, but he has potential."
Raven Branwen was once a member of team STRQ of Beacon, but she left years ago when she learned of the real enemy.
Her pupil Vernal simply hummed in thought before she spoke. "The cowardly Lionheart got us a contract to deal with another pack of Grimm near the city, you sure we have to work with him again? I know that as mercenaries we never say no to money, but his weakling stutter gets on my nerves!"
Raven nodded in agreement. "He pays well and is for the best to keep an eye on him, better than Ozpin."
When she left her team, she also changed her bandit tribe into a mercenary group in order to collect information of her enemies, one person she met specifically told her of a group of people that had the potential to end this shadow war for good, but at the moment, they were lacking in power.