As promised, with the 1st of a new month, comes a new chapter. Enjoy!
Chapter 30. Through time
"Straight to the business, eh?" I sighed, plopping down onto my draconic ass a few feet away from the injured woman. "I would ask how you feel, but I think we both know how useless that would be... So yeah, all I can say is I'm sorry for your loss."
Summer flinched, hugging her legs to her chest tightly. "Umbra... please. I need to know what happened."
I nodded, expecting as much. Still, first I motioned to the small pile of food next to Summer. "Eat up. Can't have you dying on me. I will explain everything in the meantime, or at least I will try to..."
Summer frowned as she hesitantly reached for the food bag. "Try?"
"I know a lot, but far from everything we need," I shrugged and looked at the woman's bloodshot eyes. "Now... what do you remember from before... well this."
Wincing, Summer quickly wiped the lone tear that escaped from her eye. "I-I thought we killed it... It should have been dead, but then... Tai, dear gods, Tai..." She choked on her words, but I waited, letting the woman get it out of her system. "I felt so much when I saw him... him fall. My eyes activated on their own, and then... nothing..."
So pretty much what I expected her to remember. I ran a hand over my snout, gathering my thoughts. "That's as good a point as any to begin, I guess."
Yet, before I could begin with my explanation, Summer cut in, her eyes drifting to my petrified body. "Did I do this to you? I'm really sorry..."
"Don't worry," I offered her the gentlest smile my current form allowed. "It might be a bit annoying, but I should be fine in a few hours... At least now I know that being a Grimm with a soul isn't enough protection against those eyes of yours."
Summer's gaze dropped to the piece of dried meat in her hand. "I'm glad..."
Seeing as the woman had nothing else to say, I started with my own explanation.
"I wasn't awake much longer than you, so I didn't see what exactly happened, but I know that your eyes weren't the only thing that activated... Somehow, you also added your Semblance into the mix and promptly threw us into the timestream."
Summer stilled mid bite. "W-what? B-but I could never! My Semblance, at best, can affect objects, not living things. I would know it; I had tried many times before to do just that, after all."
I nodded once more. "You're probably right, but now there are two factors that you have never considered before. One, your Semblance mixing with the power of your eyes. And two, outside interference."
Summer furrowed her brow, the piece of meat forgotten. "Outside interference? You?"
"Fuck no," I snorted. "Don't get me wrong, I'm strong but nowhere near enough to power a trip through time. For that, you can thank one of the gods Ozpin most likely already mentioned to you."
Summer stiffened, the blank, almost emotionless look disappearing from her eyes for a moment. "You know about them? How?"
No point in hiding everything after all that happened. After all, I feel like we will be working together for the foreseeable future. Besides, it's not like I'm gonna tell her about the System. This secret I'm taking to the grave.
And so, not even batting an eye, I answered, "About them, about Salem, the relics, the four Maidens, and so much more... As for how? You can say I saw a few visions of some interesting things when I arrived in Remnant, and let's leave it at that. Maybe in the future, I can tell you more."
Summer blinked. "Visions? That doesn't explain anything!"
Maybe it doesn't, but at least it got your mind off Taiyang. I call it a success. I chuckled. "Happens, so deal with it. Like I said, I ain't telling you more for now."
"Fine," Summer scowled before slumping once more. "Assuming you're not lying... What did the god do? Why?"
"Your brother gods don't like me and tried to use your eyes to exterminate me without interfering too much," I grumbled, raising my partially petrified arm. "It didn't work, of course, but the light god's power was enough to boost your Semblance and send us through time. Exciting, ain't it?"
"Yes, exciting..." Summer mumbled, her mood collapsing like a house of cards. "Even with a bit of god's power, we couldn't have traveled far, right? When did we land?"
I grinned as if the same question wasn't bugging me out. "No idea! However, we most likely went forward in time. And don't ask how I know that."
Summer's eye twitched slightly. "Qrow must have loved you..."
Not gracing the woman's murmur with an answer, I summoned a Scroll out of my inventory. "Those also don't work anymore for some reason, so we will need to find civilization if you want to know the date. Overall, our situation definitely could have been better..."
The moment I said that, my eyes fell on the arm I bandaged when Summer was out cold. Ah shit... Forgot about that little nuisance. Grimacing, I nodded towards the limb. "You might want to have a look at your arm before we move on."
Frowning, Summer looked down at her bandaged limb, her eyes narrowing. Slowly, she unwrapped the dirty material, gasping when the first black veins showed themselves.
"Wha..." She stuttered wide-eyed. "What is this?"
I sighed, knowing well this would happen. There was a reason why I covered her arm in the first place. "A parting gift from the Grimm we fought. Some kind of parasite. No clue what it does though, sorry."
"I... I..." She shook her head, her hand still touching one of the dark veins. "I can barely feel it now... It's trying to consume my Aura but something is mostly stopping it."
I raised a non-existent eyebrow. She gathered that much in just a few seconds? I suppose that's a few years of experience as a Huntress for you.
"Maybe the nature of your eyes? They are anti-Grimm, after all." I suggested.
Summer nodded as she rewrapped the bandages. "Could be that, but I can't say for sure. Healing was never my strong suite. I need to get back home, fast. With this and my little girls waiting, I can't stay here."
As the woman moved to stand up on her wobbly feet, I also rose, calling out. "Hold up now! You don't even fucking know where and when we are. Besides look at you! A breeze will sweep you off your feet."
"I'm fine," she gritted out, sweeping her gaze over the area around them. "I'm a Huntress."
Stubborn and thickheaded. Just like her daughter. I sighed. "A Huntress without a weapon and almost no Aura. You will get torn to shreds by some random Grimm before you make it to the nearest village. So sit down and rest. Or do you want your daughters to lose their only parent?"
As Summer winced hard and dropped to the ground again, I knew it was a low blow. Unfortunately, it was also a necessary one. I encountered enough people full of grief to know how dumb they could act when they reached their breaking point.
Summer was not there yet, but pretty damn close. And so, as an old fan of RWBY's first few volumes, I wouldn't let Ruby and Yang lose another parent. Not when Taiyang's death was already partially my fault...
"So what now?" Summer growled suddenly. "Are we going to wait here like sitting ducks?"
Whoever is listening, please give me strength. I prayed, looking at the sky for a second. "I need a bit more time to recover." I raised my draconic arm before Summer could interrupt. "After that, you will hop on my back, and I will fly us to Mistral or some village on the way. There, we will figure out the date and decide what to do next. Understood?"
Maybe I was going a bit too far talking to her like she was a small child, but quite frankly, I didn't care. Currently, Summer was in no way qualified to make any important decisions.
Yet, it would have been far too easy if the woman had just agreed from the get-go. "Why Mistral? If you can fly us that far, why not just go straight to Vale. Or better, Patch?"
"I get you want to go back to your family, but please, show some patience," I said, keeping the growing annoyance from entering my voice. "Mistral is closer than Vale, and we can easily find everything we need there."
"And," I cut her off. "I'm not carrying you over the ocean in this condition. We need a doctor to look at you. Gods know what else might be wrong with you thanks to our time trip."
The last reason I mostly pulled out of my ass, but Summer didn't need to know that. There was just no fucking way in hell I would let this woman return straight to Vale or Patch only to realize that she missed a few years or more of her daughters' life. If she wanted to cause another disaster, better do it in a place nobody really cared about.
Like Mistral or some random village in Anima.
[You are aware that people would indeed care if Miss Rose did something outrageous in Mistral, right? Those are not NPCs.]
I mentally waved the system off. Yeah, yeah, whatever. I never liked that place anyway. I swear the show's plot in Mistral was the dumbest shit I have ever seen. And I barely even remember it at this point!
[Why do I even try...]
Love ya too. I quickly sent back and looked down at the sitting woman. "So what will it be, Summer? I promise that if we can get a doctor to confirm you are OK even with that parasite, then I will fly you back to Vale or Patch instantly. And trust me, I am faster than a Bullhead."
"Fine," she scowled. "How long do you need?"
Laying on the ground again, I slowly activated Meditation. "An hour at best. Eat up and get some rest in the meantime. Flying on my back isn't the nicest thing."
Not waiting for an answer, I let Meditation consume my mind and body. The Light God had its chance to stop me; now, the high time had come to be free once more. Crush the shackles of the divine and show the world that Umbra never died.
Thanks to meditating for an hour, Light God's Curse is weakening. Timer reduced to zero hours.
Congratulations! Light God's Curse broken. Your body has recovered. Human form is available again. Good luck.
Finally, I grinned, opening my eyes.
The grey scales and skin disappeared like the curse was never there. I flexed my limbs, their movement as quick as the lightning I wielded as my element.
[You're acting like you defeated those two idiots and not some weak Curse.]
Way to ruin the mood. I grumbled, my posture slumping a bit. It is not every day you recover from something that should have killed you. Let me have this moment.
[Do I need to remind you why did you even survive in the first place?]
Screw you. I huffed and promptly ignored the System's next attempt at communication. I was about to open my status when a voice reached my ears.
"Are you finally done?" Summer called out, the woman already on her feet. She didn't wobble anymore, and even her eyes didn't look like they cried a river anymore.
Guess she took my tip to the heart.
Summer Rose, Tainted Light
Better, much better. Even her title changed. Maybe the parasite really won't become a problem. I mused, stretching my body. Finally, I gave Summer a break and answered, "Yeah, all good now. Hop on and hold on tightly. If you fall, I probably will catch you, but better not to test it."
With a deep frown, Summer wrapped the remnants of her cloak around her body and squinted at me. "Just jump on you? Nothing more specific? Like how to sit properly and what to hold?"
Quirking an eyebrow, I chuckled. "Do I look like I know how to ride dragons? No, I'm the ride. Now stop delaying and hop on already. You were so set on running away just an hour before."
Summer huffed and buckled her knees. With a single jump, she rose high into the air, only to drop right in the middle of my back. She then slowly approached my neck and settled down behind it, holding onto my spikes for dear life.
"I'm ready," she swallowed, her eyes almost closed.
Is she afraid of flying? I paused, averting my gaze from the woman. Nah, no way. She would have told me.
With that thought in mind, I took a deep breath and spread my wings. My limbs tensed, claws digging into the ground. At the same time, Summer yelped, but I ignored her, and with a mighty flap of my wings, I jumped, soaring toward the blue sky.
Summer screamed right away, her shrill voice waking all the birds all around them as they also took flight like one unit. Chuckling in the safety of my mind, I roared in the real world, the thunderous flaps of my wings answering my call.
Not even a day has passed since I last flew, but man... I missed this.
My blood raged, begging me to speed up, to unleash the power my body held. However, I had a very noisy passenger on my back that probably wouldn't enjoy my tricks...
Roaring one last time, I stabilized my flight, spreading my wings as far as possible. With the trees below barely visible now, I should be able to glide for a bit and maybe calm down Summer before she fell.
"Don't tell me you're scared of heights or flying," I joked, craning my neck to glance at the woman, who was currently trying to become one with my back. "Comfy?"
"I hate you!" Summer screamed, never opening her eyes. "And I'm not scared, you dumbass! Just a bad memory. I will be fine in a moment."
I would love to hear about that. I snorted but didn't ask. Further reminding her of a possible trauma was a great way to make this situation even worse.
"Calm down," I called through the constant whistling of the air around us. "Take deep breaths, hold tight, and you will be fine. I never had anybody falling off me before. I swear!"
"That's because I am your first passenger!"
"Blasphemy!" I shouted back. "I will have you know that Neo loved flying with me! She definitely never complained like you!"
A complete lie, but Summer didn't need to know that. I had achieved my goal of distracting her. Maybe now she won't attract too many Grimm to us... Though I can still feel the sadness and anger lurking within her. It is only a matter of time before it all surges back. She needs time to grieve properly...
Shaking my head, I dismissed these thoughts. I could worry about Summer possibly falling into depression later.
Just please let Ruby and Yang be fine. I don't want to deal with aftermatch if they aren't. I'm not suited for this kind of job...
"There it is," I muttered upon passing above yet another mountain.
In the distance, Mistral stretched far and wide, the city's peak reaching towards the clouds. The combination of two mountains where the Haven academy stood and the eastern style of buildings from my old world spread all over the cliffs really painted a wonderful picture. The most beautiful sight in all of Remnant, in my humble opinion.
Such a pity that the show made me hate this place...
"Are you landing soon?" The voice of my passenger interrupted my thoughts.
"Yeah!" I called back. "Just a bit more. Any closer than that, and they will see us approaching. No need to spread panic when we just want information."
"Good," Summer sighed, quite loudly at that. "My legs are killing me."
"See? And you wanted me to fly you back straight to Vale when here you are, complaining even after I stopped three times for a break!"
"Congratulations, you overgrown lizard, you were right. Do you want a snack?" Summer huffed. "I swear, if I knew we were searching for Qrow's other twin, I would have never taken that misso..."
As the Huntress trailed off, I winced. No telepathy was needed to realize where Summer's mind went at that moment. And it has been going so well.
"Umbra..." She muttered just loud enough for me to hear. "Once we ask about the date, I'm going straight to Haven. I know the Headmaster there. He will provide a Bullhead for me to return to Vale if I ask. I'm sure of it."
"No," I stated firmly as my feet touched the hard ground. Instantly, Summer jumped off my back, landing in a crouch right before my head.
"What do you mean no?" The petite woman hissed. "I have listened to you until now, but you are crossing the line. Keeping me safe for a few hours doesn't give you the right to dictate my life."
Dear god. I sighed as my form shrank, mostly human body replacing the Grimm one. She might look like Ruby, but there is definitely more to this woman than I thought...
"Alright, calm down for a moment," I raised my hands. "I might have said to a bit too hastily, so let me ask first. Who is the Headmaster of Haven?"
Summer furrowed her brow. "Leonardo Lionheart."
I nodded. "And thus, my point stands. We're not going to that turncoat for help."
The Huntress blinked. "Wait, what?! Turncoat. You're not making any sense, Umbra!"
"Excuse me? I'm making perfect sense," I turned around and began marching towards Mistral. "Lionheart is a turncoat, a traitor. Or well, he will be one. I'm not too sure about the timeline there..."
"See?!" Summer groaned, matching his pace. "You're not making any sense!"
In the end, it took me most of our trip to Mistral to convince Summer against contacting Lionheart. She still didn't really believe me about the Headmaster turning traitor, but I couldn't do much about that. Hell, I probably wouldn't trust myself too, if I was in her place.
Fucking time travel and shitty canon plot. If the show gave us a time frame of when Lionheart turned traitor, this would have been much easier...
I sighed and leaned harder against the wall of a random building behind me. My eyes tracked the busy street ahead, where Summer stood in the distance, conversing with a random Mistralian.
Come on. What is taking you so long? You were supposed to ask about the date, nothing more.
Just as I was prepared to snatch another person off the street and question them myself, Summer turned away from her conversationalist. The sunny mask disappeared from her face, replaced by an expression so empty that it made my stomach drop.
Summer kept marching right toward me, a glint entering her eyes.
No. Not a glint. Tears...
By the time the Huntress stopped in front of me, her cheeks were completely wet, as if she stepped through a waterfall. For a moment, we just stood there in silence, but then Summer's expression shattered as she muttered two words and nothing else.
And that's it for today!
Now you know where we are in the timeline, or at least that we are somewhere around the canon. More you will find out in the next chapter. Also, I would like to point out that while there will be changes due to Umbra's existence, not everything will be different. Some of that I already showed in the last few chapters, but soon you will see on your own what I mean.
Anyway, like always, thank you all for reading! And if you are searching for something else to read that has a few similar vibes to Grimm's Evolution, then check out my original story on RoyalRoad called "A Universe of Bloody Evolution." It's completely free to read, so no worries about that. Link to that along with discord code below. Have a good day/night.
My Original story: royalroad(.com)/fiction/58667/a-universe-of-bloody-evolution (Delete the brackets)
Discord code: b7JaQcpuc7