Chapter 8: The First Meeting

We are the guardians of our people. We stand strong against all invaders. Duty is our shield, order: our weapon. When we defend the weak, we are immortal.

⁃The Iron Legion Oath

"Week two, Day Three, a day had passed since we found civilization. Except the people we encountered were more interesting then we thought. The people, or should I say Faunus, that inhabit this piece of land were able to explain to us where exactly we are. Little did we know we were in fact on a large continent called Menagerie, in the small town of Kuo Kuana, not the land of Anima like we were supposed to go towards.

There was one thing I noticed about Kuo Kuana, as I led one of our ships to their docks not once were we fired at, no barriers, borders or water traps to destroy our boats were there. At first I thought they were not sprung, but later on I found that was bit the case.

When we landed the people did nothing but stare in curiousness, no armed guards were there ready for a fight, all there was from what I seen were traders, civilians both young, old, and in between.

It's was only because a misunderstanding of crushing a mans arm through a handshake did a guard come and ask what's wrong. After the situation was sorted out, the guard asked who I was and why I was here in menagerie.

I explained of what happened the night before, of how we tried to make camp across the continent, how we were looking for Anima, the mission. The Menagerie Guard heard us out and I wished to speak to the leader of the land which they led me to one Ghira Belladonna and his wife, where we made an interesting discovery.

Hours Prior*

Knock! Knock! Knock!* A Female Menagerie Guard was knocking on the door to the Belladonna household, right behind her are Mercy, Agusto, and Stone hoping for a meeting.

Moments pass and the door opens revealing a cat Faunus with black hair and yellow eyes, this was Kali Belladonna, wife to Ghira Belladonna and she curiously looks over her new guests.

"Hello, may I help you?" Kali addresses the Menagerie Guard. "Evening Ma'am, I'm sorry for coming on short notice but is the Chieftain free at the moment? He has visitors and it's really important."

Kali looks behind the Guard and takes notice of the three Knights with a confused look. "I assume you're the "Guests" in question?"

"That we are, General Stone of the Iron Legion, and these are my colleagues, Mercy, General of the Iron Legion like myself, and Agusto, a Champion Lawbringer of the Iron Legion."

"A pleasure." Mercy had said, "Hmph", Agusto grunted with a head nod, acknowledging her. "Please the pleasures all mine, come in, come in, I'll get a pot of tea ready."

As Kali led the way to a common room with the Knights in tow, the Harmonians found the room familiar, as if what one could find in homes of the Myre and the Dawn Empire.

As they sit down on cushions around the table they made small talk as Kali was gone. "So what's our next plan of action?" Agusto had suddenly spoke out.

"For starters we have to get a meeting with the Chieftan, with his help we should be able to negotiate a temporary base of operations for our men."

"When we do, we need to find out where we are and where we need to go. It's obvious right now we are not where we need to be."

"That's a whole new situation in of itself Stone, we are the first people to find this, "New World" and what do we find? Animal people." Mercy mentions.

"Men with horns, women and children with fox ears. Not to mention the women allowing us into her home, what type of animal she is supposed to be mixed with? We don't know."

"You're forgetting this place houses Grimm as it's main predator as seen from last night. How these people lived for so long where we barely survived a night is...Unnatural." Agusto looks around the empty and spacious room not trusting it.

"Now hold that thought, the wife of the Chieftain allowed us into her home, no guards were seen, no traps were sprung in fact, she is making tea for us right now, have some respect."

"Would you drink it?" Mercy challenges "No but that's besides the point, if they had wanted us dead then we would've been attack when the ship started sailing to their docks."

"Even so, we must not let our guard drop for even a second, something I'm sure you'll have trouble with."

"You think so little of me Mercy, I didn't just become a General of the Iron Legion for no reason, just the same as you. Even with your constant overuse of that, bleeding jab attack you have."

"Just because you can't counter it doesn't mean I shouldn't use it." Mercy counters, "Agusto, you know what I mean right?"

When looking at the Lawbringer, Agusto was using a whetstone, sharpening his weapon, not looking at the two he gives his answer.

"I'd rather not pick a fight with Mercy if that's alright with you Captain." Stone sighed at the statement while Mercy chuckled at it.

"But look, Mercy, you have to trust me on this, I'm tired, you're tired, our men on the boats ordered to stay on there are tired as well. We've been at sea for about a week now. We need the place to rest, and this settlement has not been destroyed by the Grimm so far, what better place to be!."

The Peacekeeper of the group thinks on stones words, "Yes the pros outweighed the cons in this situation, maybe it is for the best" Mercy thinks, she sighs before relenting.

"Fine, I'll let you have this..."Captain", make sure you know what you're doing. For all of us..."

"Mercy, it's like I said, trust me on this."

As the tone of the conversation finally died down the door to the room finally opened with Kali walking in with a tray of refreshments, The Chieftain Ghira Belladonna not far behind.

"Forgive me for the long wait, I had a moment to talk with Ghira about you three wanting to meet with him. He was caught in some important paperwork so it took some time for him to part with it for a bit."

"Yes, when I heard we had guests such as you I thought it wouldn't hurt much to hear you all out."

"Forgive us for coming without warning, if the situation wasn't so dire we would've let you know later." Mercy explains, taking charge as Stone and Agusto watch on.

"Nonsense, whether it's now or later Ghira would be willing to hear you out whether you be Faunus or Human."

"Of course, what kind of person would I be if I ignored someone who needed help." Ghira had said with conviction looking to the three knights, before Mercy could say anything Stone had a question to ask.

"A quick question Mr. and Mrs. Belladonna, when you mean by "Faunus", do you mean people like...you?" Stone had suddenly asked.

"Excuse me?" Kali says taken aback as Ghira only looked with a glare at The Conqueror. "What he is Trying! To say is whether or not you are both a Faunus." Agusto explained throwing a small glare at Stone who shrugged.

"Just Kali is fine Mr. Agusto, but yes, I and my husband are both Faunus, I am a cat Faunus. While my husband here is a Panther like Faunus."

"May I be so bold as to ask why?" Ghira strongly asks, wary of the three Knights he and his wife were hosting.

And so Mercy explained to The Belladonna's that while yes, they are humans. They nor anybody that they knew had seen a Faunus at all. No fairytale or story told of a person with animal ears or tails. The people they had seen was a mystery in of itself which Stone had decided to ask about.

"Chieftan, if I may, where exactly are we? You see on our expedition we were only given a small and old map, tattered and nearly gone which brought us here."

"Where were you and your crew looking to go?" Kali had asked pouring herself and Ghira a cup of tea. "We were supposed to look for a land called "Anima". We assumed this was the place until...well until we saw the Faunus."

"Anima? Forgive me but yes you would be wrong to assume this was it, right now we are in the Capital Settlement, Kuo Kuana on the continent of Menagerie. Home to the Faunus as one would say." Ghira had explained.

"What exactly could you tell us about, Menagerie?" Mercy had asked. "Well that requires a bit of context I suppose, I sure hope you have the time." Ghira said, grabbing his cup as Kali started to fill cups of tea to the three Knights.

"To learn of a new land we thought was undiscovered, please tell us of what you can." And so Ghira had gotten to tell the story of Menagerie, and how it came to be. What was of note to the Iron Legion Knights was that fact it came to existence after The Great War.

"The Great War?" Stone had asked. "Of course, it was given as an award of sorts for the Faunus when they participated in it. The humans saw fit for it to be a fair reward, when it actually was nothing of the sort later on." Kali looks to her empty cup sadly.

"So this "Great War" helped with the creation of Menagerie right? What of the Faunus who live here?"

Kali could only chuckle. "As a whole you may have to look into a couple fairytales for that, for Menagerie it came to be when two-thirds of the country were found to be uninhabitable. So many settlements chose to live where they could, although it's a little crowded it's a safe haven to many. Especially here in Kuo Kuana."

To hear the creation of Menagerie was a joy for the Knights, but to hear it was made because of this Great War intrigued the three more.

"This Great War you speak of, I assume it ended not long ago no?" Stone asks. "What do you mean?" Ghira asks confused.

"You see, where we come from, we had recently been through a Great War of our own, now peaceful with the help of The Lord Warden, the first Vanguard Class Iron Legion Knight."

"Since it was only recent we still wear our armor and weapons in case a battle starts up once more, many of our own people are warriors with the civilians fearful of their lives everyday, the Grimm only makes it worse."

"To see the people of Menagerie going about their days like this, it's unnatural to us. Your warriors don armor unlike ours, and though are unnerved by us, they don't immediately seek to fight. In fact your guards only approached me when it seemed there was trouble, your people became weak. So you have to tell us, how long ago was this war to turn the people to what they are now." Stone finally finishes, with Mercy and Agusto agreeing throughout his explanation of the question itself.

The people of Harmony were tense as one could say, even with the Victory at Unity people were still afraid of the Three Great Factions going to war once more. A millennia of pain doesn't just go away with the snap of a finger as one could say. A long-term solution was needed, the leaders of Harmony just don't know what.

Kali seemed worried about Stone's explanation of his homeland, but still thinks on it. Ghira on the other hand looked to the table with a frown, holding his chin in thought.

"If I remember correctly The War was...Eighty years ago, only lasting ten. Forgive me I could be wrong, it's been awhile since I've touched on Remnant's history, I know only so much since Kali's Grandfather fought during the War itself."

The knights go silent as a solution to their tense situation went out the window faster then one could parry a light attack.

"I see...it seems our home is more troubling then we expected." Stone says with a dreadful acceptance. "Yeah, it is..."Agusto remarks.

Mercy looks towards the two Remnantians. "Forgive us, as you may know we have been at war, a very long and costly war. To summarize we, The Iron Legion was made under the banner of The Lord Warden to combat the Blackstone Legion. At that moment it was Knights against Knights, which would be us. The leader of the Blackstones Apollyon, wanted war, conflict unlike any other to bring out the "Wolf" in all of us, and thus The Blackstone Conflict began."

"If it wasn't for our Vanguard Leaders, I'm sure she would've got it. War. Who knows for how long it would've gone on for, Days, Weeks, Maybe even years, all we know is that we avoided war for now." Mercy explains.

"Please listen to us Chieftain, we, The Iron Legion were sent here for a reason. Tensions are high back in Harmony and that's not to mention the Grimm at our doorstep. Just recently we lived in a world where the Grimm never existed, we need help and right now Menagerie is our only shot at fighting against these beasts as a United Front."

The three knights looks to Ghira with an expression he couldn't really understand. Mercy, the small hooded one said Menagerie is a chance for them, he has a chance to help not just the Faunus but for the humans Ghira never seen before.

In fact, the Chieftain of Menagerie has to look at this logically, he can't trust these people mainly because they are built and ready for war at a given movement. He is only one man, how can he really help these Iron Legion Knights.

Yet no matter how he looks at it Ghira Belladonna sees the bigger picture, these men are tired as said before when they listened in quietly. If what they are saying is true then the Grimm are something new to them, they have no experience in fighting them like other Huntsman but they are fighters.

While he had no doubt in his mind that The Iron Legion and their Vanguard can learn to adapt, it's the end result that matters. If handle incorrectly War could break out for them again, if what he remembers through Remnants history is true then it's only a matter of time.

The Chieftain of Menagerie, Ghira Belladonna makes a decision.

"Look, I'll be frank with you, I am only one Faunus here. I don't know exactly how I can help you, I don't know how you see me and this country as a chance to fight the Grimm, but it's obvious you and your crew need help."

The three Harmonians smile under their helmets.

"Since you are traveling I assume you have the materials needed to set up camp for your men."

"Yes, yes we do. We just need a place to start camp at and the time to transport our stuff." Stone says realizing that this could be their chance.

"That's fine with me, please, shall we take this to my office?" Ghira says standing up from his seat, looking to Stone for an answer.

Before Stone can say anything Mercy quickly makes her presence known by standing up faster than anyone could see. "If it's alright with you Chieftain, I would rather be the one to discuss such matters."

"Wha-? Mercy what-?"

"Sorry Stone but this requires tact, and a more reasonable voice in deciding an important matter like this. Something I'm definitely sure you don't have."

"Mercy!" Stone tries to object, except Agusto speaks his mind finally, "She's right you know, if I'm letting someone do politics for us, I trust Mercy more for this Captain."

"Agusto! I-...I...Oh fine! Alright I get it. Mercy, General of the Iron Legion, just find us a good spot, Understand?" Stone says finally giving up knowing a losing battle when he sees one.

"Hmph, Understood." Mercy bows following Ghira to his office, leaving Kali with Agusto and Stone.

"Since I'm sure you don't wanna leave your friend here, would you care for a tour of my home?" Kali offers.

As both knights look to each other and back to the lone cat Faunus, the conqueror gives his answer as Agusto nods.

"Sure, nothing better to do anyway." Kali smiles and soon after let's the knights pass her, looking over the table she looks at the untouched tea and let's out a small frown.

"Such a waste of good tea, one day they'll like it." Kali leaves with a small smile and the room of the first semi-meeting had ended.

As Ghira and Mercy walk off into the Chieftains office to discuss a placement for the Harmonians. Agusto and Stone walk throughout the house with Kali showing her home to her guests as well as answering questions should they arise.

"And this room over here is if not one of my favorites of the house."

Opening two double doors the three walk into a large and spacious room, with the knights amazed by the size of it.

"Amazing, what is this area used for?" Stone asks Kali, with Agusto walking to the middle of the room and looking around.

"This place is mainly used for meetings, either they be important or small." Looking ahead Kali sees the big Lawbringer simply standing, looking ahead.

"You're awfully quiet, something on your mind?" Stone asks crossing his arms. Looking behind him Agusto glances at Stone and looks back in front.

"It's quite hot in here isn't it?" Agusto says. While Stone tilted his head in confusion, Kali moves forward and taps his shoulder. "I'll turn down the thermostat later, there's still something I want to show you two." The Faunus of the group starts to walk out with Stone following.

Begrudgingly Agusto leaves as well, not before looking back and blinking, seeing the dark room on fire and two people engaged in combat for a brief second before the area turned back to what he sees now.

The room unburnt and undisturbed, with the room illuminated by the evening sun. Shaking his head he quickly catches up to the two as the door rooms close.

"The visions become more frequent, so far I understood what they meant, but that was too quick, what did that mean?" Agusto worriedly thinks, now unsure of what the future holds, and what would come of it.

"Now that we have that settled, it will be a pleasure working with you." Ghira stands from his desk and goes for a handshake.

Mercy obliques but grabs his wrist instead, then shakes. Which the Faunus was more confused about then what the Peacekeeper offers in exchange for the Iron Legions housing.

"We the Iron Legion thank you for this more, we will not forget this."

"I have no doubt that you will, but forgive when I say that your Iron Coins won't hold much currency around here."

"It is alright, we have been through worst situations before. Just let us know where your Blacksmith is and we'll work from there.

Ghira sitting back on his desk looks over to a set of papers and reads them.

"So you say. All right then, today I'll get you settled not far from Kuo, I'll have some of the Guard help you out. I'll let you know where the Blacksmith is by tomorrow, and I'll officially allow you and a couple of your men tour Kuo Kuana to learn more about it."

"That is correct, and when we make our return, one of our leaders would like to meet with you and form an alliance."

Ghira puts down the papers and ask a question that has been bothering him.

"General, if I may, you've been throwing around the word "Alliance" quite a lot throughout the talk. But...To the Iron Legion what does it really mean?"

Mercy gave no indication that she was offended, but gave her response none the less.

"It is just that, an alliance. For giving the remaining Iron Legion knights asylum here, Menagerie shall be deemed Knight friendly territory. When our Vanguard Leader comes to discuss business what I assume will happen is trade routes mainly, should it be discussed a safe Haven for The Iron Legion and its citizens should they wish to move here."

"Move here? As in the people of Harmony coming to Kuo Kuana and living here?"

"Should you so wish, the people of Harmony are refugees, have been for as long as the War has been going on, isn't it only right for a Leader to look for the best interests of its people."

Ghira nods and leans back in his chair. "Yes, that I fully understand." The Faunus Chieftain looks to the Peacekeeper sadly. "But I'm afraid that's one of the reason I'll decline such an offer."

Mercy showed no sense of sadness, or hatred, all she did was ask a simple cold question. "Why would that be Chieftain?"

Ghira could only sigh, "Although I would not nothing more to help people, there's many things to consider on my side."

"For as long as I can Menagerie has only housed Faunus, Faunus people, Faunus Children and everybody in between. The people of Harmony have not encountered a Faunus in their lives as seen by you and your companions."

"Let me be clear, more people who come to Kuo Kuana as an example, it's possible that even more Grimm will appear, and right now Menagerie does not have the money or the time to cover the cost of more Huntsman to help."

Before the Iron Legion even showed Menagerie had face a Grimm problem unlike before. More deadlier sets of Grimm had shown, to combat it The Chieftain Ghira Belladonna had set to hired Veteran Huntsman to fight. Yes the job was done but it was costly, hurting Menagerie financially, badly.

"I can't let anything bad happen, I hope you understand that-"

"Now wait a second Chieftain." Mercy interjects. "You...You pay your Huntsman?"

"You have Huntsman?"

"Yes, but that's besides the point. Tell me this Chieftain, what situation would bring you to paying your Huntsman, made to protect your people?" Mercy would ask, as if curious.

"Well...that would include another lengthy explanation, but I'm not-"

"It would be in your best interests to tell me Chieftain, because I assure we can both benefit from this."

Due to Mercy's insistence Ghira did tell the Peacekeeper (to the best of his knowledge) about Remnants own Huntsman. About how they are trained at the Huntsman Academies made to help make the next generation of warriors to combat the Grimm.

Thus the first meeting was done and Mercy made a promise to Ghira that the Alliance between Harmony and Menagerie would prove extremely beneficial for both sides.

Back to Kali and the two Iron Legion Knights she brought them to a special family heirloom of hers before she took Belladonna as her last name. The mysterious and illustrious armor of her Grandfather that fought during The Great War with the two knights listening with rapt attention as Kali talked about it.

"My Grandpa Jimmu said that this armor was one of a kind here in Remnant, but was very common when he was a kid.

He was a one of a kind back then, especially when he met my Grandma after the war. He was a human and she was a cat Faunus like myself, despite the world going against such relationships he truly found love with her. He often told me stories about his armor and what it meant to wield it.

To truly become one with the night, where many feared them for their might, they were the Shinobi and they were always ready for a fight." Kali says happily, remembering the quote passed down from generation to generation.

"...Were...Were you a warrior as well? Did you fight with this armor as well?" Stone asks looking to the Samurai armor, as if stunned by the fact it exists.

"For a time yes." Kali sighs sadly, "But times were changing for me and my family, I soon found Ghira and became happily married to him. I had a daughter and well, since there was no need for fighting I decided to finally put the armor to rest right here."

Grabbing one of the Kusarigama that was hanging besides it, she takes a closer look at it.

"Although it went through so much as the years go by, it looks as if it can continue batting for many more years." Now chuckling Kali puts the weapon back with the second Kusarigama as they both are on display in a cross cross shape while next to it was the stand that held up the ninja like outfit.

Looking back to the Knights Kali found the two transfixed as they looked at the Shinobi outfit. As if questioning it and in wonder, but before anything could be said Mercy comes walking to the group with Ghira behind her.

"Mercy! There you are, took you long enough to-Oof!" Stone said as he tried to finish his sentence but Mercy walked pass and grabbed his shirt pulling him away.

"Agusto, we must hurry back to the ships and set up camp. We do not have the time right now." Mercy urgently said as she continues to pull Stone farther away from the Faunus.

"R-right!" The Lawbringer quickly says, waving and saying goodbye with thanks as he jogs to the leaving Knights.

"That...was a thing." Kali says watching the group leave. "Did something happen at the meeting?"

"No, nothing bad I assure you Kali, it's just when I told her about the Huntsman she started to get..."

"Uppity?" "Yes, that, but that's not all either, apparently where she comes from they have Huntsman of their own and well. When I told her of our own Huntsman problem she promised an alliance with Menagerie and Harmony and here we are." Ghira said with confused finality.

"Well...it's nothing bad is it?" Kali worriedly asks. "No...as far as I'm aware." Ghira reassures as the two Faunus head back deeper into their house.

Later that night the Iron Legion found the area where they were to build camp and through the rest of the day a temporary base of operations was made. Mercy informed the leaders of the Iron Legion expedition of what exactly went down during the meeting and a plan was made.

(A/N: Whoo! Now this was a toughy, especially with life breathing down my neck. Glad to finally get this out even if it was rushed a bit. Hope you enjoy it!)

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Guest: With the upload Schedule now that things have calmed down. One chapter upload a month at worst, should I find inspiration and free time, consider it sooner at best.