A/N: As ever, the Embers rule persists. If folks don't like this? Poof! Gone! To the void it goes.

So by all means, speak up! Raise your voice! Make yourself heard! Your reviews matter! Really, they do!

That said, I'm sure this story will surprise you. Decided to try something new and flex my writing chops a bit.

Here we go, getting to work on my request backlog. You can expect "Far From Home" and "A Most Unlikely Card" to be updated next, to say nothing of A Most Unlikely Berserker and I'm Only Human. Possibly in that order.

Stories like those take more time because the chapters NEED to be long. No one likes short chapters these days

I could say...so many things here, but I think I'll let the chapter do the talking for me.

Here we go.

"Take the Girl!"

"Wait, what?! I don't understand!"



Take the Girl

Raven ran.

She ran and ran and ran into the night, clutching a warm bundle tight to her chest. She fled from the burning ruin of her tribe as she'd never fled from anything before. Bare feet slapped against the muddy ground as rain sluiced down from above, soaking her to the bone. Clothes in tatters, right arm a bloody mess, heart hammering in her chest like a frantic colt, still she ran on. She didn't look back; she mustn't look back, for to do so was to be caught, and if they caught her in her current state she was finished. That would be the end of her. The end of everything.

So she ran on.

Across forest and field; over log and bramble. Until her legs screamed, her lungs burned, her eyes were afire; until everything ached.

Yet she did not stop. She didn't dare.

"After her!" a crazed voice called out into the gloom. "For the glory of our goddess!"

Red eyes flashed with fire, smoldering with faint embers of former glory. She reached for her blade, only for her fingers to close around empty air. Omen was gone, left behind in camp, a twisted shattered mess. She had no weapon beyond her own two hands. Nothing to rely on beyond her own strength. Just as it had always been.

Damn him.

Damn this poison.

Damn them all to hell.

Has she been at full strength she'd smite them all. It would have been a trifle to kill that lunatic; scour him from the earth, and all of the Grimm with him. But she wasn't at her peak nwo, was she? The enemy had been clever, their ambush well-timed when she was most vulnerable above all. Now Her aura was gone, her power nearly depleted, her very life slipping away.

An angry Ursa leaped at her from the storm, jaws gaping wide for a debilitating bite.

The bundle in Raven's arm loosed a high-pitched wail of fear.

Defiance sparked in her chest. Not like this.

Red eyes howled back to life and lightning answered, cleaving the ursine creature in half at the waist. Its heavy body crashed down, loosing one last roar in its dying moments. The call was taken up by other Grimm, one after the other. The horde had found her again. There would be no rest. No respite. No time to recharge her aura. No time for anything. Only running.

Raven grit her teeth and limped away, favoring her right leg.

The bundle in her arms warbled softly; causing her to clutch it closer to her chest.

"It'll be alright." she rasped. "We're nearly there now...

It was a lie, and she knew it. There would be no help here. No salvation. No last minute miracle to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat. With each passing moment she grew weaker, slower as the poison crept through her veins. She'd fought it for the better part of a day now, resisted through sheer strength of will. But thought the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. She could feel her muscles melting from within, organs liquefying with each passing minute.

It wouldn't be long now.

"Poor little Branwen...

A dark humanoid shape lunged at her out of the undergrowth, cutting her off.

Her boots bit into the ground and she flung herself aside, only to gasp as a blade raked across her ribs.

"Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide." he began to circle her as she staggered away. "No tribe to save you." golden eyes flashed as lightning crackled above, illuminating a crazed grin. "No one left to protect you." his twin wrist blades flicked out, barrels primped and ready to fire, eager and willing to carve into her flesh. "All your friends so far away...won't you surrender? Its not too late." tittering softly, he offered her a hand. "Join us. Salem is a most merciful mistress...

Once upon a time, Raven would have taken such an offer out of fear, if nothing else. Now?

She drew herself up to her full, towering height. "Take your bloody mercy and shove it up your-

The gun blades barked, aiming for the bundle in her arms. She twisted aside and gasped as a dust round pierced her shoulder...and a lung. Didn't matter. She was already dead. The poison had seen to that. It was too late for an antidote. Much too late. Blood bubbled past her lips. Still, she refused to fall. Pride kept her standing. Hatred gave her strength, if only for a little while.

'So. This is where I die. I didn't want to go out like this...

Laughter tumbled past bruised lips.

"What's so funny?!"

"You!" Pivoting on one heel, she sucked in a ragged breath. "Your goddess...makes me...puke!"

Sure enough, her killer bridled. Fool of a Faunus. He really was too easy to read. Insult his precious "Salem" and he'd fly into a frothing red rage. Any moment now.

Raven shifted the bundle to her good arm and planted her feet.

The madman lunged.

"Then die!"

She wasn't quite fast enough to stop the first strike; it raked across her left eye and obliterated it. Pain snarled through her as half her vision darkened forevermore, but she didn't fall. She slapped the blade away, then caught it with her left hand, only to cry out as the lunatic hacked it away at the elbow. It was pain unlike any other

Agony eternal.

Then that wretched stinger stabbed out at her once again; seeking her vitals just as it had before. With a snarl born from fury as much as desperation, the Spring Maiden stepped into death's embrace, hooked an arm around that ghastly chitinous appendage and reeled him in. It bit deep into her side, but she didn't flinch. Didn't back down even as yet more poison pumped into her veins. Did not hesitate, even for a moment. She yanked him closer, smashing their skulls together.


Firm fingers closed about his face.

...but I'm taking you with me, CALLOWS!"

Yellow eyes widened to gargantuan proportions.

Raven smiled; grinning from ear to ear. And so the bird caught the scorpion.

Azure flames leaped from her palm and burst into the air, followed by an agonizing yowl that had no business coming from a human throat. Tyrian crashed backward to the forest floor, stinger ripping itself from her hip as he went. The wretched smell of burnt flesh filled the night. Quivering hands clutched at the ruin of his face, leaving him to shriek as the balefire continued to eat away at him. Heh. His screams gave her more relief than a thousand climaxes.

Raven limped after him and conjured a sword of pure ice to her hand. Snatched it up in a reverse grasp. It began to crack and crumble within her grasp almost immediately; a sure sign of her exhaustion. Didn't matter. It would last long enough. When her prey tried to rise she stomped down with her left leg, pinning him in place.

Thunder ripped through the clouds overhead as Raven raised the blade high.

"And this," she rasped, "Is checkmate."

Her weapon stabbed down, piercing his chest. Tyrian Callows expired with a croaking gurgle.

"I'm coming...goddess...

Raven wrenched the blade in the wound, just to be sure. That icy katana shattered a moments later, leaving her clasping ruined shards of hoarfrost. She cast them aside and left the broken blade embedded in her killer's hideous body. Whether he survived or not, he was no longer her concern. She scarcely had the strength left to move now, let alone breathe.

The bundle in her arms shifted anew.

A lone hazy eye swept down to regard her pride and joy.

Little lilac orbs gazed up at her, all of three months old, framed by a dusting of golden hair.

"I'm sorry." Raven croaked out an apology. "I never should've taken you from Tai. I thought you'd do well in the Tribe...

Yang would have, too. She would have been strong. So strong. All of Mistral would have quailed before her might. Now she would be dead. She would die out her in the wilderness, mere moments after her mother. Raven was prepared to pay for her folly with her life. She deserved as much for meddling with fate and was prepared to meet her end.

But Yang...sweet Yang...little innocent Yang...! She didn't deserve this.

Bitter tears stung at the edges of her eyes, turning to so much steam beneath the might of her Maiden powers. Where would the Power go when she expired? Raven had an awful sinking suspicion. She didn't want to think about it, but reality wouldn't let her be. To Yang? Surely not. She was much too young. Wasn't she?

Raven took another step. Her legs faltered, sending her tumbling to her knees.

She tried to move. Tried to rise. To do something. Anything at all. But she couldn't. Here at last her body betrayed her. She felt her head bow, and her vision dim. Yang stirred in her arms, whimpering softly. Poor girl. She didn't understand. She might never understand. To live alone in a world without parents was a terrible thing indeed...

'Please, someone, anyone, let the burden fall on my shoulders." she cast a desperate gaze at the stormy sky above. "Don't let the sins of the mother fall on her daughter. I'll do anything. If its my life you want, then take it! Go ahead! I offer it freely! Just...someone...take the girl!"

In her dying moments, Raven gathered up the last dregs of her life and screamed.

She broke her soul, broke her Semblance, and still she pushed.

Incredibly, the heavens answered her.

Something fell -crashed really!- through the clouds, hit the treeline, and slammed through it. They struck the ground at speed, spraying water and mud in every direction. The impact nearly ripped Raven from her knees and sent her sprawling; even then it was all she could do to focus her fading vision.

She saw a figure. Humanoid. Not Callows. Not Grimm, either.

A voice came to her on the rain. "Where the hell am I...?"

And in that moment? Raven Branwen finally broke.

Her arm stretched toward him.

"Take the girl...!"


Sometimes, Naruto's bad luck amazed even him.

For better or worse, for good or ill, he just couldn't seem to catch a break.

He hadn't asked to fall into that portal after finishing of Kaguya. Hadn't expected her to act in one last petty act of defiance; much less for a crimson portal to open up under his feet and simply rip him away from his word. How had this happened? He didn't know. None of this made sense. Not a lick of it. He was tired, sore, and now soaking wet thanks to all this rain.

But he remembered a voice. "Take the girl."

Which girl? What girl? Why did someone want him to take them?

Blue eyes blinked.

Narrowed, now.


A quick checklist allayed his worst fears. Arms? Check. Legs? Check. Body? Mostly intact. Kurama?

"Urk. Gonna be sick...!"


Well, that was good, wasn't it? Everything was intact. His legs ached abominably from that improvised landing, his head was on fire and he was fairly certain he was going to be sore come morning, but all's well that ends well, right? Any landing you could walk away from was a good one in his book.

Then he saw her.

A young woman lay on her knees before him, reaching out imploringly.

"Take the girl!"

She was clearly dying; her body savaged in such a way that nothing short of a miracle could save her. An decent medical attention would only prolong her agony. Her left was just...gone; her right arm a tattered mess, complete severed well above the elbow, hacked into shoulder below her collarbone. To say nothing of her leg; one could see the bone in her thigh. There was a child in her arm, mere months old at a guess.

And yet for all her wounds the woman's faintly glowing eye regarded him intently.

"Take her...!" she all but shoved the babe at him.

Like any sane man, Naruto balked at her.

"Wait, what?! I don't understand!"


She thrust the bundle into his chest and he stumbled, narrowly catching the infant, who in turn began to wail.

"I...who is...?"

"Yang." the word escaped the woman on a thread of breath over her cries. "Her name is...Yang. You have to take her...to...take her to...

"To who?!"

But the woman didn't answer. Her eyes had gone glassy, vacant and dim. As he looked on she slumped over and struck the earth, gazing blankly into the distance. A chill shot down his spine, and for a moment he thought he felt ghostly fingers touch his shoulder. No. No way. Not a chance.

"The hell you don't!"

He burst forward, slapped his marked palm against her shoulder and pushed. Chakra burst from him and into her; causing her to jump. Once. Twice. Thrice. Her body convulsed where it lay, but still it didn't draw breath. Her wounds slid shut. And yet she still didn't breath. Her ruined eye did not regrow; nor did the stump of her arm regenerate.

"C'mon, c'mon!" he rasped! "Don't go dying on me now! I don't even know who you are...!"

And as he did, he looked down at the girl who'd been foisted off on him. Blue eyes met violet. The latter were...glowing. Burning with living lilac flames.

"Ohhh, that can't be good...

He turned his gaze back to the woman, still as a grave.

"Don't die," he muttered, feeding her yet more chakra. "C'mon, don't die, please don't die...


Remember! Embers Rule! If folks don't like this, it'll be deleted and consigned to the plot bin.

So by all means, speak up! Raise your voice! Make yourself heard! Your reviews matter!

Time, and of course, the reviews, will tell if Raven lives.

So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Review Would You Kindly?

And enjoy the previews!

Potential ones at that.


Naruto didn't know the first thing about raising a child.

Of course, he didn't give up. That simply wasn't his way. Not now, not ever.

He was going to give it his best shot, consquences be damned.

Raising a super-powered daughter in Remnant. What could possibly go wrong?

A fist slammed into his shoulder. "Don't jinx it, you ass!"


By the sage, he was weak to that word...