Chapter 35. Curtain falls

"Cinder Fall?" Ozpin furrowed his brow before glancing down at his scroll and taping it a few times. "Can't say I recognize the name. Glynda? Qrow?"

The aftermentioned people looked at each other and shook their heads. "Nothing," the Branwen said. "How old is she? How does she look? Who knows, maybe she goes under an alias nowadays."

I had to give him that, he was right. With so many changes to the canon, Cinder might as well have chosen a different path. After all, Vale seemed much safer than it did during the beginning of RWBY. So, really, an alias to stay even more hidden wasn't out of the question.

As such, I did my best to describe her appearance and Semblance. It had been a while since I watched the show, so some details escaped me, but overall, I thought I did quite well. However, as I looked at the faces of the others in the room, it appeared like my description didn't help too much.

"Still nothing?" I asked just to make sure. Even Neo shook her head.

"Just how important is she? You asked about her first. Got to have a good reason for that," Qrow said.

I massaged my brow, trying to think of a good way to explain everything. In the end, I decided to just go about it in a somewhat roundabout way. Maybe I could use it to gain more information first and make it all easier for everyone.

Yeah, why not?

"There is a reason, but let's start with something else. Hopefully, it will help explain who Cinder really is and not make it even more confusing," I commented and looked at Ozpin. "Amber, the Fall Maiden. What's her status?"

Everyone eye's widened at that, even Neo's. I quickly raised a hand, stopping all the questions I saw coming from a mile away. "I already told you I know stuff, so just answer. This is important, very important."

Goodwitch shared a look with Ozpin, and when he nodded, the woman spoke up. "She is dead. Has been dead for over two months now. Is this what you wanted to hear?"

Well shit...

"No, no, it wasn't. I feared this would be your answer, but I definitely didn't want it to be true," I sighed, shaking my head. "Just confirm one thing for me, and I'm sorry if it sounds insensible... Are you sure she is dead, or do you just think that she is?"

Almost everyone looked at me like I had just killed their mothers, which I pretty much expected. Only Neo kept her calm, and a moment later, her illusion text appeared in front of me.

"We buried her, Umbra. I was at the funeral. I saw her body," it wrote in a somewhat shaky cursive. "As much as we hate it, Amber is dead. Trust me..."

I turned from the text to the young woman, frowning when I noticed her crestfallen expression. It seemed that Neo made more friends among Ozpin's circle than I expected. Yet another thing to ask about, but not now. I wasn't that heartless.

"Forgive me," I bowed my head a bit. "I really wouldn't have asked if it wasn't necessary. In the memories I received, she was left in a half-dead state after an ambush and losing half of her Maiden powers. You still tried to keep her alive, but in the end, it was all for nothing. She still died, and the Fall Maiden's power fell into Salem's hands. "

"Who?" Glynda whispered. "Who did this to her?"

I grimaced. "The same person I've already asked you about. Cinder Fall, probably the most important minion in Salem's court. To my knowledge, she works on a team with two others, a girl named Emerald and a guy with metal legs... Marcus? Malcolm? Something like that... She also used White Fang and Roman Torchwick, but considering how almost everything is different now, that might not be the case this time around. Doubt it though."

The entire room fell silent once I finished speaking. Qrow and Neo stared at me with eyes wide open as if I had just dropped a bomb on them. And to be fair, I pretty much did just that. On the other hand, Ozpin and Glynda took the news much better, though their current silence was also quite telling.

"She is moving again," the headmaster muttered. "I knew it was only a matter of time, but to go straight for the Maiden under my protection?" He shook his head. "How did I miss the signs?"

I had no answer to that. In canon, Amber was half-saved by Qrow, who obviously had other stuff to do this time around. But how did he know she was ambushed on the show? Did he follow her? Why wasn't there someone else to help her this time?

No fuck that. What's done is done. How it happened isn't really important now. I thought, pushing those questions away. We had much better things to worry about.

I opened my mouth, ready to continue gathering information, but Qrow beat me to it. "We all did, Oz. It's been so quiet for the last few years that I sometimes forget about that bitch. Amber was a wake-up call for us."

"We should have protected her better," Glynda said with her eyes closed.

The Branwen let out a bitter chuckle. "It would never work. She was a free spirit, much like the brat here," he nodded to Neo. "Even if we tied her up and locked her in a cell, Amber would still find a way out..."

"That's... true," Ozpin sighed. "I just wish she hadn't suffered for something out of her control."

"At least she lived her life just like she wanted," Neo added, earning a small smile from the headmaster and Glynda.

Well, this escalated out of nowhere. Now, what the hell do I say? We still have a lot of stuff to discuss. I furrowed my brow.

In the end, Amber was just another character from RWBY for me. I never met her, never spoke to her. It was pretty hard to identify with the pain shared by everyone in the room.

It is what it is. Gotta go with the flow. Give them something to focus on.

And so I spoke up, reminding everyone of my presence. "Amber was just the beginning for Cinder. If her plans are even somewhat similar to what I saw, many more will die. Finding her is the priority. Or rather that and identifying the other Maidens. I doubt anyone here wants to get wiped out by the two dumb idiots who destroyed the moon."

Qrow chuckled. "I'm gonna pass. I didn't waste ten years learning how to control my Semblance just to pop like a balloon. So what else do you have for us, Mr. Know-it-all?"

Good, we're back on the track. I nodded. "The other Maidens. Any idea where they are? Especially the Spring one. I doubt what I know about her applies to this timeline. Not with what you've already told me."

"Then I fear it's still more than what we have, Umbra," Ozpin said. "The Spring Maiden hadn't been seen for almost twenty years now. The last one died due to an illness, and unfortunately, the switch didn't go as planned."

"Shit," I muttered. "Raven then. She somehow became the Spring Maiden in the original timeline. That's my only lead."

"My sister?!" Qrow almost fell off his chair. "How did she even manage that? And why? Barely a decade ago, she hated the idea of having anything to do with this mess."

I shook my head. "I have no clue. I only know what she became, not what was going on in her head."

Of course, that wasn't the entire truth. I remembered well that Raven apparently found the girl with Spring Maiden's powers and tried to train her. It didn't go well, and stuff happened. To my knowledge, it was never stated outright, but it wasn't hard to assume what Raven did.

"Qrow," Ozpin said. "Please try calling your sister again."

The Brawnen looked at the headmaster in disbelief. "Oz, tell me you don't think she..."

The other man shook his head. "No, but if she knows anything and didn't tell us... Just please call her and ask her to come."

"Fine," Qrow grunted as he stood up and walked towards a far-off corner. "Just don't expect much. I'm not sure if she will even pick up. I've been trying to contact her ever since Summer came back."

Huh, I thought they had already spoken to her, and she just didn't want to be here. I shrugged and addressed the remaining group. "What about the other Maidens? I can easily admit I have no idea where they are."

"Both Winter and Summer are accounted for and safe," Ozpin answered without hesitation. "I get a report about their status almost daily. If anything were to happen to them, I would know."

Alright, so it ain't so bad after all. I should be able to deal with two Maidens once I get a few more levels and evolve again.

"So that leaves only the Spring Maiden," I quirked an eyebrow at the headmaster. "You sure you have no way of finding her? It's your power, after all."

Ozpin sighed. "No, it isn't. Not any longer. I gave it up willingly, and now nature dictates its course. If Spring used her powers somewhere close to Vale, maybe I could feel it, but it never happened in the last twenty years."

"So Qrow's sister is all we have," I grumbled. "Just great..."

"Indeed," the headmaster smiled slightly as his gaze looked at something behind me. "Speaking of, Raven, it's wonderful to see you."

Wait what? I turned around instantly, watching as a colorful portal closed behind a woman with dark red eyes and long black hair. Holy shit, I was right; she looks like a mother fucking female Madara Uchiha.

When I first saw Raven in RWBY, this was my first thought, and even after all this time, my opinion didn't change at all. Maybe there was just something wrong with me, but my mind couldn't help but make this comparison. Hell, it even fit as she was dressed in some kind of a battle kimono and used a sword of Japanese origin.

It definitely fits her. Now hopefully, her personality is better than in canon, cuz holy fuck, this woman was a bloody coward and idiot...

"Can't say the same Ozpin... Blondie, brat," Raven said, her eyes cold as steel. She nodded to all of them before turning to face me. "You, I don't know. Name?"

I narrowed my eyes and was ready to return the rather rude greeting, but once more, Qrow was faster. "This is Umbra. Yes, the same one that disappeared ten years ago with Summer."

Just like that, the coldness vanished from Raven's eyes as she rounded on her brother. "D-does that mean?"

Qrow grinned. "Yep. She is safe and sound. Resting with the girls. Sit down, sis. I will explain everything."

As the woman did that without a single question, I groaned internally. There was a reason I wanted everyone here from the beginning. Now, I would have to sit here even longer.

I swear, it's all Summer's fault...

As I expected, it took quite some time to explain everything that had happened in the last two days. Qrow and Ozpin did most of the talking, and I only had to speak up a few times. This was fine with me; it gave me more time to study everyone in the room and check some stuff with the System.

Raven Branwen, The Smarter Twin
Threat level: Mild
Status: Healthy
Additional Info: The older of the Branwen twins and definitely the smarter one. Despite that, Raven made many mistakes during her life and had to fight for years to win against her own cowardice. The death of the father of her child and Summer's disappearance forced her to adapt faster. Due to that, she abandoned the life of a bandit and once more became a Huntress. She still hates anything to do with Salem but is willing to help out every now and then.

That's new, System. Why the change? I asked, only half listening to the ongoing conversation. Where's the tier and HP with MP?

[I'm working on some improvements, mostly to notifications. This is a part of them. I like it much better now.]

I hummed. I guess so. But what exactly does the threat level mean?

[How strong someone is in comparison to you. With Raven, the threat is mild, meaning you shouldn't have too much of an issue fighting her. Sounds simple, no?]

Can't argue with that. Just... just please let me know about any other changes you make, okay?

[I will think about that.]

Of course...

I sighed. Why did I even expect a different answer? As long as my life wasn't at risk, the System lived to annoy me. Although I often paid it back twice as much, so it wasn't all bad.

[You should focus on the humans. They are done.]

True to the entity's words, Qrow just managed to finish the long explanation and asked his sister about the Maiden. Now, everyone was waiting for the woman to speak.

"The Spring?" She furrowed her brow. "I was the Spring Maiden in this other timeline."

With the question directed right at me, I nodded. "Yeah, and you had it for quite some time. You even defeated Cinder after you opened the Mitral Vault together."

"I did what?!" Raven hissed. "Why in the world would I do something so stupid? How did I become a bigger moron than my brother?"

I snorted as Qrow snapped towards his sister. "Wait, what? What the hell did I do now?"

"Nothing Qrow, nothing at all," the female Branwen pinched her nose. "I have no idea where the Spring Maiden is. But this Cinder... I could swear I saw someone like the person you described in Mistral not that long ago."

"Mistral... Of course, she would be there," I muttered with a grimace. "How are the Huntsmen doing there? Any problems?"

Both Raven and Ozpin frowned at that. "Now that you mention it, it's been hard to find anyone who wasn't busy there," the woman said. "There have been quite a few deaths on missions lately, so people are getting run into the ground."

"Fuck!" I cursed, alarming everybody.

"What the hell, Umbra?" Qrow spoke first.

"She started with Mistral this time," I elaborated with a scowl permanently etched on my face. "Last time, Salem did something similar and slowly killed off most Huntsman there. What's worse, if they somehow already got the power of Spring Maiden, the relic is long gone."

"Impossible," Ozpin raised his hand. "Leonadro would have reported something already if the numbers grew alarming."

"No, he wouldn't," I growled. "He is a fucking turncoat. Just like he was in the original timeline. He sold the locations of Mistral's Huntsman to Salem so her agents could kill them. She wants to slowly weaken the Kingdoms, and Lionheart is helping her hide it from everyone."

"Leonardo betrayed us?" Goodwitch muttered before shaking her head in denial. "No, it can't be. We worked together for years; he wouldn't do it. There must be another explanation."

"There isn't," I shot the woman a hard look. "That man is a coward. Only his own life matters to him. It doesn't matter how many have died for it."

"No," she glared back at me. "You must be mis-"

"Glynda, that's enough," Ozpin's voice filled the entire room. "We can't be sure that Leonardo turned on us; that's true. However, after everything Umbra has told us, we cannot ignore his words either."

Raven snorted. "I never liked that guy anyway."

"Of course you didn't," Qrow sighed.

Yet, Goodwitch wasn't done yet. "This is no joking matter. We're talking about someone who knew about Salem for years, knew our secrets. Ozpin, how can you be so calm?!"

"Glynda..." The headmaster said, his voice tired and heavy. "I have lived for centuries, saw and witnessed things you can only dream of. Betrayal... it was just another part of my way too long life. It hurts like it always did, but I have learned how to accept this pain."

With that, the blond woman fell back into her chair, her expression unreadable. Qrow, evidently reading the room, spoke up. "So what now? How do we deal with this?"

"Quickly and without anyone noticing," answered Ozpin. "Qrow, Raven, and Umbra, if you all wish to be a part of this. I will have a Bullhead ready to fly you out close to Mistral. You will walk the rest of the way, infiltrate Heaven Academy, and interrogate Leonardo. Remember, this has to be done quietly. Find out what you must and get out."

"And if he is indeed a turncoat?" Qrow said.

"That's why I'm asking you, Raven, to go too," the headmaster elaborated. "If Umbra's words ring true, then you will transfer Leonardo to me with your Semblance. I will deal with him."

"Fine," Raven scowled. "I will go, but first, I want to see Summer." She then turned to me. "What about you newbie? Coming with us?"

I shrugged. Even if I had a bit different plans, this was an opportunity to maybe even find Cinder. "Sure, why not? Neo, you don't mind me going, right?"

The grownup woman huffed but shook her head. "I will be checking on you regularly, though."

"Excellent," Ozpin said. "I will have the Bullhead ready for tomorrow morning then. That should give you all enough time to prepare. Just remember not to mention it to anyone, not even Ruby and Yang."

For some reason, the last part was directed at Raven. It looked like she really had a good relationship with the duo from the main cast of the show. How surprising...

"I'm not stupid, you old coot," the female Branwen rolled her eyes. "Now, is that all? I still haven't seen Summer."

At that, the headmaster looked at me. "Umbra?"

"Only one more thing," I said.

"The Vytal Festival."

And that's it for today.

Thank you all for reading. Some reveals here as well as plans for the future. One thing's for sure, quite a lot of canon went into the trash and we are going in almost blind. Will it work? Maybe, we will see.

Have a good day/night.

Also if you are searching for another Gamer story in RWBY go check out Grimm Souls by Raven991