Welcome to Knight of Salem, a much more relaxing read than Null. Hopefully. Some flexible thinking with regard to divine curses may be required here, but then the Brother Gods are so ridiculous anyway that it doesn't really matter.
"You're slipping, old man."
The impossibly pale figure appeared to glide across the room, her blackened and frayed robes touching the floor and trailing behind her like a miasma. Tall and imposing, her ashen-white hair flowed down behind her, pulled back from eyes framed by angry red blood vessels.
Inhuman. That was the only way to describe her. Inhuman, ghost-like, monster. Her cold skin looked as though it hadn't seen blood flow for years, drained of all colour but the burning red and black of her eyes. For Jaune Arc, it would have been terrifying had he met her in a dark alleyway.
Waking up strapped to a wooden X-frame with his hands and legs bound to find this woman smiling darkly up at him made it somewhat worse. Only somewhat. He was proud to say he'd only wet himself the one time. It wasn't much to be proud of but then how much did he have? Here he was on his way to Beacon when he'd decided to go to sleep in a tent – okay, in hindsight he should have kept watch, but he was only one person – and then he woke up here.
"I don't know what you mean," he said. "I'm not an old man. I'm seventeen-"
"I wasn't talking to you!" the woman spat. "I'm talking to the man within your head."
Okay. He'd been kidnapped by someone insane.
Did that make it better or worse? Worse. Definitely worse.
"I know you're there, Ozma. Watching. Listening. Did you really think no one would notice? Really!?" She laughed. "You go missing for two weeks, then this boy is suddenly accepted into Beacon with blatantly forged transcripts, no experience and no background education."
"I… I was accepted…?"
"Really, how desperate were you that you couldn't even concoct a proper set of forged transcripts?" she continued, ignoring him. "Oh, but I see you're wondering how I got hold of them. How I managed to break into your systems and see this paltry attempt for what it was."
Jaune actually hadn't been wondering about the cybersecurity of a school's database and wasn't sure anyone would have wondered about it when they woke up strapped to a sacrificial alter. There were a whole lot of other things he was wondering, like why he'd had such a short life, what was going to happen and exactly how long was it going to take before people figured out he was dead.
He also wondered about the literal Beowolf he could see hunched in the corner of the room, a monster of such evil and mindless fury that he'd been told by his father that all he could do if he ever came across one was run. Run and hope he could run fast enough to escape. For now, it looked docile. Obedient. The similarities between its white-masked face with jagged red lines and the face of the woman before him didn't go unnoticed.
"Leonardo Lionheart betrayed you."
Although Jaune didn't know said person, he immediately disliked them. Unfair? Maybe. Probably not. Fuck you, Leonardo whatever-your-name-was. Fuck you so much.
"Surprised, Ozma?" the woman crowed victoriously. "You shouldn't be. You set him up to be a target and all but abandoned him to his own devices. Not a new decision on your part – you always were one to forget about those who helped you. Poor Leonardo had no hope of surviving on his own, and so turned to someone more prepared to help him. It was he who found this half-hearted attempt of yours, Ozma. You must have been in an awful hurry to return to Beacon after your most recent demise."
Through the sheer terror, Jaune forced out. "I have no idea who Ozma is!"
The woman huffed and planted her hands on her hips. "Do you mind?"
"I'm having a moment here," she said. "I'm basking in my victory, taunting my foe, and I really don't need you chipping in every few seconds with another stupid question or comment."
Jaune looked down at himself and then up at her. "But… But I've been kidnapped!"
"Yes. Yes. It's very traumatic. For what it's worth, my issue isn't with you at all, so if you want to blame anyone for your current predicament then blame Ozma. Or the Gods. Your choice. Or me," she allowed with the most indifferent shrug Jaune had ever seen. "But do so silently, please. The only sounds I want to hear out of your mouth are to be delivered by the parasite living in your head. Understand?"
"Not in the slightest!"
"Ozma," the woman said slowly, as if that would help him understand. "Or what is he going about as nowadays? Right. He may have called himself Ozwald. Ozzy? Ozpin, that's it. Ozpin."
Jaune remained clueless.
"Disembodied voice in your head? In your dreams?"
Dully, he shook his head.
"Face in a mirror?"
"Sudden unconscious desire to go to Beacon Academy that you didn't have two weeks' prior?"
"It's been my dream to go to Beacon for a year and a half."
The Grimm woman peered at him like he'd done something to personally offend her. He might have been more willing to apologise for that if he wasn't strapped to a damn cross and waiting to be killed!
"Salem!" a voice gasped from another room over. "Goddess!"
A man rushed in – a man with a huge black scorpion's stinger behind him. He was tall, thin and wore an open coat, but Jaune's eyes flicked back to the wickedly sharp barb atop his tail long before he could take any real detail in.
At least I have a name for the woman now, he thought distantly. Fat lot of good it'll do me.
"Tyrian," Salem said patiently. "You know you're not to disturb me when I am gloating over my eternal foe. I will give you the benefit of the doubt since you collected him for me so efficiently and assume this is incredibly important."
"It is, my Goddess!" the man said quickly. He shoved a scroll toward her face the next second. "Look!"
Since Salem was stood before Jaune, he had a good view on the screen. On it was a news report, either live or recorded, in which a man in a green suit with white hair stood speaking at a press event.
"Yes, I am here alive and well." he said, chuckling. "Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I was ill. A rather mundane but highly contagious virus. Given how close we are to the start of term, I decided it best to quarantine myself away and put Glynda Goodwitch in charge of Beacon's affairs. I didn't anticipate everyone taking that as a sign of my departure from this mortal coil. I can assure you all there's quite a few years of life left in me yet. Though I have to say, it was quite the surprise to wake up one morning and find my own obituary on the front page of the Daily Vale."
Tyrian slowly lowered his scroll, coughing awkwardly and scratching at his head. Salem was far less quick to accept the truth, staring into the middle distance with a curious twitch in the muscle above her left eye.
Jaune piped up. "Can I go home now…?"
"Tch." Salem tutted loudly. "W-Well, it seems Ozma has pulled a fast one on me."
"Wasn't he just ill?" Jaune asked. "It sounds like you pulled a fast one on yourself."
"But then again!" she interrupted, voice even louder. "He always was a smart man. Well, this is all rather embarrassing but luckily no one ever needs to know this happened." Salem held her hand out. "I'll just kill this boy and move on. Tyrian. Knife."
Panic ripped through him. He strained against the bonds. "You can't kill me!"
Salem looked at him and raised an eyebrow. Her eyes flicked up to the rope holding his wrists in place, then down to the same binding his ankles, and finally to the knife she'd been offered by her loyal servant. A brief calculation took place before she said, "No. I think I can. Rather easily, in fact. I'll admit to not being an expert on human mortality anymore, but I'm fairly sure this will do the job."
"I won't tell anyone what happened!" he screamed.
"You certainly won't," she agreed, coming forward. "When you're dead."
Jaune thrashed and tugged at the ropes, sweat running down his body. This couldn't be happening! He was meant to go to Beacon, make friends, find a girlfriend, become a huntsman and be a hero. He wasn't meant to die in some far flung wasteland, brutally executed by some psycho Grimm woman. He opened his mouth and screamed.
"Don't be such a baby," the woman chided angrily. "You're lucky in a way. Mortality is something to be cherished. A part of me is jealous. This will be far less painful than if I were to feed you to the Grimm. Consider that mercy a small apology on my part. This really is just one big embarrassment."
He barely heard her.
Please, if there's anyone out there – any God listening – I beg you to help me! Help me and I'll do anything. I'll do anything you want! Just don't let me die here!
A small, flickering flame inside him felt like it sparked.
Then, twisted. His eyes snapped open and a raw gasp erupted from him. He looked down, sure the knife was being twisted in his chest, only to see that Salem hadn't even brought the tip to his hoodie. It hurt, though. It hurt so bad. His eyes watered, the entire world becoming hazy as something fundamental inside him was violently manipulated. Jaune heard the single ring of a distant bell, loud and clarion clear, in his skull.
Then the knife touched him. "I haven't even stabbed you yet," Salem muttered. "Talk about dramatic."
She brought the tip of the knife to his chest.
White light exploded out from Jaune's body.
In hindsight, Salem supposed that she ought to have expected a Semblance. Idiot that he apparently was, the boy was on his way to Beacon, so he had to have his aura unlocked. Maybe she hadn't thought of that because it was no threat, because her immortality would protect her from anything he tried. Salem's body slammed back onto the floor and skidded along it. The impact hurt more than she thought it should. Sliding to a stop, she sat up, wincing at the smoke covering her room.
"Goddess!" Tyrian shrieked.
"I'm fine, Tyrian," she replied with a roll of her eyes. Better to nip that in the bud before he started screaming in grief. "I'm – ugh. Open a window or something, will you? There's too much smoke in here."
Listening to Tyrian sprint off to do her bidding, Salem brought her ring hand up to her left shoulder and squeezed the muscle. It was sorer than she could remember it ever being before, a distant memory from thousands of years ago.
Strange. I've not felt the lasting effects of muscle strain like this since I fell into the pools. That child must have hit me harder than I thought.
His problem since she'd been prepared to grant him a quick and merciful death. Now, she wasn't so sure he deserved it. "This is all Ozma's fault somehow."
The window opened and the smoke began to slowly filter out, aided by Salem wafting a hand before her face. As it cleared and her eyes finally stopped stinging, she dared to open them, vision so blurry that her hand was an indistinct blob of pink.
Salem's brain fizzled to a stop.
Her hand froze, slowly turning inward. The palm of her hand was smooth, soft and a strange pinkish colour. Is that blood? her mind asked, except that she knew it wasn't. Blood was red, not the peachy-pink of human skin.
Her other hand came up the same colour, both held before her palms upward as if she were asking for food. Experimentally, she curled her fingers, just to be sure they were her hands at all. Her fingernails were clear and just a little darker pink, her wrists delicate, thin and flushed with colour.
The act of bringing her hands up made the sleeves of her dark dress slide down, revealing forearms free of the dark veins that normally stood out against pure white skin. Instead, her arms were plump, fleshy and disturbingly human coloured.
Mirror. She needed a mirror.
Salem kept none in her tower – why would she want to see what she'd become? – but Tyrian's knife was nearby, and she dove for that, falling onto her side in her haste. Desperately, she angled it before her, tilting the blade to catch the reflection of light in the flat of the blade. It was too small to see her entire face, but her eyes looked back at her. Cyan blue, a colour she could remember Ozma once saying could look blue or green depending on the light. Shaking visibly, she tilted the blade back, sucking in a sharp breath of air as it showed her straw-coloured hair.
Shock. Awe. Sorrow. Anger. Panic.
Lots and lots of panic.
"My Goddess!" he wailed. "Wait for me, I'm com-ing…?" He skidded to a halt before her, eyes wide and mouth dropping open. If her own eyes hadn't confirmed her theory, then his reaction certainly did. "Goddess…?" he asked, just to be sure. "Is that you…?"
"O-Of course it's me, you buffoon! Tell me what you see!"
"Your skin, your hair, your eyes…"
He didn't say any more. Didn't need to. Salem reached back and took hold of some of her hair, for a moment marvelling at how soft it was as she pulled it forward over her shoulder and before her face. Blonde. Not as vibrant or golden as some, but an unmistakable pale blonde.
Am I… human again…?
No. Surely not. She hadn't been human since she threw herself into the pools of darkness. Was this an illusion? That felt like the most obvious answer, and yet the pain in her shoulder – pain she had never felt since the pools – suggested it was more than skin deep. Pushing down with one hand, Salem stood, wobbling for a moment and feeling incredibly fragile.
"Is it still you…?" Tyrian asked quietly.
"Of course it's still me!" she snapped. "This must be the work of that boy!" Her eyes flicked to her captive, groaning and waking up from his own shock. He blinked and shook his head, looking around with clear exhaustion.
He wouldn't be that tired unless he'd done something.
A Semblance. It had to be.
"You!" she snarled, stomping past Tyrian and to the boy strapped to the crossed planks she'd specifically sourced for Ozma. They were ruined now. "What have you done to me? Answer or I'll make you regret it!"
Dimly, he looked at her.
Dimly, he asked. "Weren't you a Grimm…?"
"Yes!" she shrieked. "Yes, I was! Thank you for noticing!" Her voice cracked on the first word, reaching a pitch so high that she choked on it. Retching, she kept her voice quieter. Even her stupid vocal cords had become pathetic. "Turn me back!"
"Turn you what?"
"Back into a Grimm, you insipid moron! Do you think I can take my vengeance on Ozma like this? Look at me!" Salem held her arms out, her human arms. Everything felt so different now. Her feet felt too cold on the floor, her shoulder ached, and she had to shove her hands into her sleeves to keep from shivering. Maybe Watts hadn't been wrong to suggest they install central heating. Brrr. Shivering and sniffling, she glared balefully at the boy, already feeling a little cold and clammy. Her nose was running, too.
Being human sucked.
"Fix this. Fix me!"
"I… I can't…?"
Salem's eye twitched. "Tyrian! Knife!"
"My Goddess," Tyrian said, for once not indulging her. "If he robbed you of your divine form then is it wise to kill him? What if that stops you ever getting it back?"
Erk. Well, now she had to ask if being turned into a human wasn't the second strangest thing to happen today because Tyrian had made an intelligent suggestion.
Angrily, she let her hand drop down, giving up on the knife. There really was no telling if killing the boy would reverse the effects of his Semblance. Torture, then? No, that was just as dangerous. He might expire. Salem's eyes closed, shoulders dropping as she released an explosive sigh.
"What is your name?"
The boy on the planks hesitated. "Me…?"
"Who else would I mean?" she drawled. "The floor, the ceiling, the Grimm-?"
The Beowolf roared suddenly.
Salem flinched and half turned, eyes widening in shock as a black shadow launched itself across the throne room. Though her human instincts did a wonderful job of transmitting the necessity for fear, she was rooted to the spot, caught between the urge to run and to ask the Grimm just what it thought it was doing lunging at its own queen like that!
Except… she wasn't its queen anymore, was she?
If he'd made her human…
Oh. Well. This is inconvenient.
In the back of her head, Salem wished her last words could be a little more of the cursing Ozma unto death variety, but she was too busy staring down the throat of a monster planning to rip her head off.
Tyrian's shout came an instant before he did, leaping across her vision and tackling the beast out of the sky. He bore the Beowolf down, snapping and biting almost more than it was. His hand stabbed down time and time again wielding another blade, while his tail curled up and over his head, puncturing the Grimm's hide and injecting lethal venom. Tyrian kept stabbing long after it was dead, ripping its body apart with his tail.
"Filthy beast!" he roared. "Attacking our Goddess! I'll rip your blasphemous body apart!"
Salem shuddered. That was… That had almost been her death, hadn't it? She'd been returned to human for all of two minutes, and she'd almost died. That was bad. That was very bad. She couldn't very well beat Ozpin if she was dead and gone, could she? The sudden reality of her own mortality – her very frail body – struck her. Without hesitation, she rounded on her captive. "Name!"
"J-Jaune Arc, ma'am."
"You may address me as Salem, Queen of the Grimm. Or you may call me Queen, Goddess, your majesty or your highness."
"Um." He blinked dull-wittedly. "Okay…?"
That was fine. Stupid was something she was used to. She could deal with stupid. He was only a child after all, and probably a peasant as well. She'd be surprised if he knew how to read and write.
"Jaune," she said patiently, as if she were talking to a child with learning difficulties. "Your Semblance has broken a curse placed upon me by two very powerful beings."
"What's a Semblance?"
Salem's teeth gritted so hard they almost cracked.
"I am going to assume," she ground out, "That you have no idea what a Semblance is and had no idea prior to today as to what your Semblance did. Am I correct in this?"
The boy, to his credit, appeared to notice her anger. "Um. Yes, your majesty."
Most people unlocked their Semblance over time, like aura, learning how to use it through trial and error. Most, but not all. Even Salem knew that some people could unlock both in times of extreme peril, and that they tended to unlock with abilities to save you from said peril.
At least, that was the believed notion. The reality was that aura and semblances could unlock when you were on the verge of death, but they weren't specifically designed to save you. It was just that you only heard the tales of those cases where it did.
For obvious reasons.
As such, people assumed Semblances came out to save you when those people had just been luckier than they had any right to be. This brat was among that number. Calm, she told herself. You need to stay calm. Frightening him will only make it worse and killing him could leave this irreversible!
"Alright Jaune," she said kindly. Forcefully. Bitingly. Her smile was a little too strained and the muscles in her face were twitching like Ozma's last host in his death throes. "It seems like you've unlocked a very annoying – I mean powerful - semblance. Now, I need you to think carefully on what it felt like when you were using it on me, and then try to reverse that process."
Outside, she heard Grimm start to howl and screech.
"Quickly if possible. Before we all die."
"I don't know how I did it…"
As she'd feared. It wasn't uncommon for people to not know how to use a freshly unlocked Semblance. In fact, it was the opposite, and schools existed for a reason. I don't have time for him to train himself on how to use it, but I can't stay here if the Grimm are no longer following my orders, either. Salem bit her lip, annoyed at how even that small action was painful.
"My Goddess," Tyrian snarled. "We must leave. These blasphemous Grimm have betrayed you. I would rip them all apart, but if you are vulnerable like this…"
Then she might die.
In her own tower.
Ozma would laugh himself to death!
"Jaune Arc!" she snapped. "You did this to me, you made me like this, and you shall take responsibility!"
"Don't kill m-! Wait…" He cracked one eye open. "What did you say?"
"Take responsibility for your actions. You've put me in this state. I had plans, ambitions and more, all ruined now." Her finger stabbed into his chest like she'd wanted to with the knife before. Salem hated that her face flushed with blood, or how embarrassed it made her sound. "You. Will. Take. Responsibility!"
Jaune's mouth fell open.
"This isn't… huff… what I thought you meant… by taking responsibility…"
Jaune panted and gasped, struggling to run down the corridor with the added weight of a grown woman on his back. Her legs were sticking through his arms while her arms wrapped around his neck. Her body was laid on his back, and while he'd occasionally dreamed at home of moments like this, it was neither as romantic nor as sexy as he wished it would be.
Might have had something to do with the Grimm chasing them.
"What else did you expect?" Salem asked imperiously. "You've robbed me of my powers and my goals, the very means by which I would finally have my vengeance. You'd have also left me defenceless in a tower surrounded by Grimm. Clearly, you have to deal with the mess you have made."
"I… I get that… puff… but why am I carrying you!?"
"Do you expect a Queen such as I to walk?"
Jaune groaned and embraced his fourth wind, reserves of stamina he hadn't known existed within himself until his life was in danger. He tightened his arms behind her hips, tried to ignore where he was touching her, and dragged his sorry carcass onward, turning left around a corner when she told him to. The fact she'd tried to kill him before really didn't matter now, did it? They just had to get out alive.
A Beowolf skidded around the corner ahead of them and Jaune yelped. His fear was short-lived, however. Tyrian snarled and leapt forward, brutally savaging the Grimm before it could even think of lunging for them. He stabbed it twice in the neck with his strange gun-knives, and once in the left eye with his stinger, then wrenched its body back into the pack chasing them.
"Ungrateful wretches!" Salem snapped. "To turn on their Queen, their creator. I'll purge them all once my powers are returned. Start afresh and make sure the next batch are more loyal."
And yeah, there was that. The fact that the woman he was carrying was apparently responsible for all the Grimm in the world. If we died here, would I technically be saving Remnant?
Maybe, but he wasn't about to test it.
"Take the left turn ahead!" she barked. "Watts always keeps a Bullhead prepared to fly."
Jaune had no idea what a `Watts` was but recognised a Bullhead. He hitched the possibly genocidal woman up his back and ducked around the corner, listening to Tyrian cover their retreat with a burst of gunfire. Almost immediately, they crested out into an open platform, the cold air washing over them. There was a Bullhead ahead, an oasis in the middle of a desert.
"Don't stop!" Salem berated, slapping her hand into the back of his head. "Keep running!"
"Right, my queen!" he groaned.
Nevermore circled overhead, driven into a frenzy and diving down before a hail of gunfire interrupted their attack. They screeched and wheeled back, giving Jaune just enough time to reach the Bullhead and fall to his knees. Salem stepped off daintily like collapsible men was her primary method of transformation and pulled the door to the Bullhead open.
"Get it started," she ordered. "Fly us – I have no idea where, just fly us away from here. Goodness, am I going to have to live among humans until you learn how to utilise your Semblance? Imagine it! Me, the Queen of the Grimm, living among human riffraff." Her eyes narrowed. "What's taking you?" she demanded, looking at Jaune's nervous expression. "Get us out of here."
"I don't know how to fly a Bullhead."
"Does your uselessness know no bounds!? What can you do?"
Jaune blurted out the first thing to come to mind. "My mom says I'm a good dancer."
Salem looked at him like he was the most repulsive creature in existence.
Tyrian burst into the cockpit a second later, slamming the door shut in the face of a Beowolf. It smashed and clawed at the window until Tyrian wound it down and shot it in the face. Meanwhile, a Nevermore was desperately trying to make love to the windscreen. Or kill it, but the humping and thrusting motion wasn't very clear.
"You may want to strap in tight, my goddess!" Tyrian warned, igniting the engine and causing the propellors to whir angrily. "I don't want you to fall and hurt yourself."
"Strap into what?" Salem demanded like royalty. "I-oof! Unhand me, you knave!"
Jaune refused, pushing her back into one of the seats and forcing her down. He pulled the black harness down over her dress, clicking it in the middle, securing her to the seat. He could feel Tyrian watching him and he sure as hell didn't dare to try and hurt her. Jaune then threw himself into the seat beside her, tying himself in while she angrily beat on his shoulder with her fists, chastising him for daring to assault her person.
"We're good!" Jaune yelled. "Go, go, go!"
Most Bullheads went up.
Theirs went sideways.
Jaune wasn't sure how it did, but the aircraft shot left – or was that port? – smashing into several Grimm and less taking off as hurling itself off the landing pad. Gravity took hold and Jaune screamed, pressing back into the seat with Salem beside him, rolling her eyes without an ounce of fear.
"UP!" Jaune screamed. "UP!"
"I'm trying!" Tyrian yelled back. "Down wasn't a conscious decision on my part!"
"You need to learn to fly a Bullhead, Tyrian," Salem said with remarkable poise.
"Yes, my Goddess! I will become a master pilot for you!"
"HOW ARE YOU SO CALM!? WE'RE GOING TO DIE!"
The woman tutted. "A fall like this cannot kill me-" Her green-blue eyes widened slightly. "Wait, do normal humans die to falls like this?" His expression of pure terror appeared to be answer enough. "Tyrian! Up! Up! Up!" Salem shouted shrilly.
"I don't know how, Goddess!"
"Pull back on the reins! Pull back on the reins!"
"WHAT REINS!?" Jaune howled. "IT'S A BULLHEAD!"
Tyrian had no better idea, but he grabbed the stick in the centre and yanked it back. Almost immediately, the aircraft's thrusters angled themselves backwards, as did the lower end of the Bullhead, causing them to lurch suddenly in a trajectory that was, while not exactly higher, more up than down. Less likely to get them killed. They buzzed away from the tower, splatting their way through a murder of small Nevermore and chewing them up in the engines.
Jaune slumped in relief, idly noting that he'd probably peed himself a second time. Honestly, two times didn't seem all that bad considering the absolute disaster his day had been.
"See, Tyrian." Salem said proudly. "I told you to pull back on the reins. All mounts are the same, you just need to show them that you're the one in control."
"Yes, my Goddess. Ah, I'm so lucky to be blessed with your wisdom."
"You are," she confirmed.
"I'm not sure it works like that anymore," Jaune moaned. He received a weak slap on the arm and muttered out a `your highness` reluctantly. "How long ago did you stop being human again?"
"I think it was about three and a half thousand years."
"C-Can I have some context on how long that is?"
"We had just developed a way to grind flour using water and something called a `mill`, and there were even plans to extend that further." Salem smiled proudly. "Our Kingdom was set to be the most technologically advanced on Remnant. To be honest, that `wheel` thing really helped."
Jaune stared at her.
"I'm kind of interested to see how much things have changed. Did that silly `medicine` idea take off? Ozma kept harping on about it, but I didn't rate it. I mean, really, everyone knows sickness is caused by an imbalance in your humours. Nothing a few leeches or a bloodletting can't fix. What? Why are you giving me that kind of expression? Are you mocking me?" Her lips pulled down. "Stop that immediately! I demand you answer me!"
Jaune covered his face with both hands. "I'm going to die."
"Not until you master your Semblance and find a way to turn me back to normal, you're not!" Salem told him, poking a finger into his shoulder. Her face was set into what might have been an intimidating snarl before but was now closer to a petulant pout. "You will take responsibility for my condition and fix what you have broken."
"But I was on my way to Vale…"
"Then we will be travelling to Vale together. I'm sure I can fit in with the humans easily enough. I'll have you know I was a master of diplomacy and court in my time. Men would come from far and wide just for the chance to hear my voice."
"I can fully believe it, my Goddess!" Tyrian chimed in.
"-and I could bring armies to their knees with the bat of an eyelash. There won't be a person on Remnant capable of seeing through my ruse. The only thing I'm lacking is a little up-to-date information. That's where you come in," she said, gripping Jaune's arm. "Rejoice, Jaune Arc. You will have the pleasure of serving a true queen, and of taking care of her every want and need until such a time as you master your Semblance."
Jaune considered that for a brief second.
"Is being stabbed in the chest still an option?"
Salem's eyes narrowed. "No."
Is it a Semblance? Is it Divine Providence? Is it the God of Light deciding that Ozma is taking so damned long to fix things that he's taking Jaune up on the offer to try sorting this Salem business out?
Who knows!? It kind of doesn't matter.
As for why Salem needs Jaune to teach her how to be human when she has Tyrian… well, do you really need me to explain that?
"Welcome to the Tyrian Callows School of Humanity," the faunus suddenly wearing a pair of glasses he'd probably robbed off some poor man said. "The first part of being human is fitting in with humans." He noted a pale hand raised. "Yes, my most glorious and effervescent goddess?"
Salem nodded. "How do I do that?"
"A wonderful question, oh great and powerful Salem. My favourite method is just to kill one, sneak into his home and assume his life," Tyrian said. Jaune choked on his water, almost suffocating. "It doesn't always work – I got found out last time when the girl coming to visit pointed out what big pecs and a tail I had, grandmother, but the theory is sound."
"Your acting must have been off," Salem said, nodding. "Very well. Jaune, find us some locals to kill and assume the lives of."
"No, no, no. There's a better way to do this."
"There is?" Salem asked, surprised.
"There is!?" Tyrian asked, appalled.
"Yes. We will just say that we are travellers in need of food."
Tyrian bounced on his log. "And then when they open their doors, we gut them like fish! Yes! I like this plan!"
Jaune's face fell into his hands.
Next Chapter: 11th January
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