Picking a new story isn't easy. I've had a lot of idea in my head but if you've read my other fics then you probably know I've been disappointed with my quality of late. I had ideas for this slot ranging from Team STRQ origin story to a Cardin x Jaune romance. Those ideas are still knocking around, along with my SCP/Library of Ruina inspired idea.
In the end, though, and wanting to return a little to my roots and really enjoyable stories like Not this Time, Fate and One Good Turn, I decided to go back and do something I haven't for ages but that I genuinely enjoyed. Seasons 1-3.
I know some people find that boring but I really hated S4 and up from RWBY. All my current fics are basically Jaune (or RWBY) away from Beacon in AU elements or dodging Beacon by being in different groups, so I think one story where Jaune does go into Beacon is fair. I am hoping this will give me the time to develop relationships and plot again like I used to back in One Good Turn and Not this Time Fate, and not have to worry so much about world-building. That said, I also want to set up the AU element beforehand, so it might be several chapters before we even get close to Beacon.
Anyway, here we go.
P.s. This title is almost certainly going to have been used somewhere else. I had real trouble coming up with a title for this. Some titles felt too "rpg" and some felt too abstract or comedic.
Aura, Jaune decided, was amazing.
He couldn't believe how different the world felt since his father unlocked it. It was one of those things you couldn't understand, but that you also weren't sure how you'd ever gotten by without it. Or missed it. There was a whole extra source of energy burning inside him, rushing about his body so visceral and tangible, and he'd spent fifteen years of his life never once knowing it existed.
Opening and closing his hand, he felt the energy rush up his arm to his wrist and then subside again. It didn't flow with muscle movement per se, but his father explained that it sometimes helped early on to think of it that way. Ultimately, the goal was to be able to push and pull it wherever you wanted, to use it as a shield to protect and strengthen the body. Jaune purposefully let a little too much gather in his hand, and the excess caused a thin white film of visible light to form around his fist.
A man cleared his throat. Jaune gasped and cut off the flow of aura, spinning to face his father and hide his hand. Nicholas Arc stood with one hand at his side and the other resting on the hilt of the family blade, Crocea Mors. Over six feet tall, with shoulder-length blond hair and a short beard, Ansel's strongest huntsman wore an amused and vaguely exasperated smile.
"Playing with your aura again?"
"I… uh…" Jaune smiled awkwardly. "No…?"
"You're not in any trouble." Nicholas chuckled and reached out to mess up Jaune's hair. "I told you to practice controlling it. Everyone does what you are. Just mind your reserves; visible aura expends energy as light. Wastes it. You're draining yours that way."
"I still have plenty left! You can check!"
"I think I will."
Nicholas brought out his scroll and held it to Jaune's arm. The material was cold to the touch, but it wasn't that which had his heart wrapped in ice. After a brief pause, the tool beeped. Jaune spied the number – 99% - and whooped happily.
"See! I still have loads left. You can't leave me here."
"So you do, so you do."
It was hard to tell if Nicholas was pleased or not. He hadn't exactly been thrilled with this arrangement, neither the training or today's excursion, but he'd caved a few months ago when it became clear his son would try and become a huntsman with or without training. Faced with that, Nicholas had feared for what might happen to his reckless son and agreed to train him, in exchange for a promise of obedience and adherence to said training. Jaune agreed instantly and hadn't regretted it since.
Aside from growing stronger and more confident in himself, he felt closer to his dad in a way he hadn't realised was absent. Nicholas was a good father – the best in his opinion – but the life of a Huntsman was one of much travelling, of having to save people here, there and everywhere. It was also a reclusive one, and as much as Jaune and his sisters loved to hear stories, it was always clear from the look on Nicholas' face that they didn't truly understand what it was like.
Now, he did. Or would. He'd only been training for a few months and it was too early to call himself a Huntsman yet, but Nicholas assured him that if he kept up the hard work he could probably make it to an Academy. Maybe not Beacon, but Shade or Haven were more than possible. And if he failed, well, he could apprentice under his father and learn in the field. All that extra time spent together in training and outside it made him feel closer to his hero of a dad than ever before.
"You're fortunate to have such large reserves." Nicholas said and brought his scroll back. "Otherwise, you'd be down ten per cent after a show like that. Good luck and powerful aura alone won't help you out there, though. Do you remember what this is about?"
"Ansel militia with one huntsman to support." Jaune recited dutifully. "Wild animals seen in the woods nearby threatening foresters, we're to find out if it's true and whether we need to set traps. If we see any dens of wolves, we're to scare them off."
Nicholas nodded. "And in the event we meet any Grimm?"
"I'm to stay back with the others while you deal with them. No heroics, no rushing in, no thinking I can handle them. I'm not a huntsman…" The last chafed and Jaune couldn't quite keep it out his voice. Nicholas noticed and crouched down to wrap an arm around his shoulders.
"You've only had your aura unlocked two months, son. No one – not even the strongest heroes of legend – could become a huntsman in just sixty days. Don't take it personally – you're working harder than I did at your age, and I dare say you have a better teacher than I did." He delivered a firm slap to Jaune's back and stood. "The important thing for now is to keep up with your training. And to not stop practicing your aura. Remember-"
"He who defends first attacks last. I know, dad."
"Don't take that tone. If I have to say it a thousand times to drive it into that head of yours, I will. And why is defence the most important thing?"
"Because as long as I'm alive I can still fight." It wasn't like he hadn't heard this enough times, along with examples and stories from his dad's past. One of the first things Nicholas drilled out of him was the concept that the best defence was a good offence.
That worked for people with speed semblances or unnatural agility, he'd explained, but the best offence in the world can still net you a Beowolf claw to the thigh, and if that tore your artery you were a dead man. The best defence was an impenetrable one. Nothing less. People's aura all too often meant that offensive combat wasn't that viable, as you extended energy just to have it bounce off their soul.
It was why he and every other member of the militia had been outfitted with hardened leather armour and large shields. Big, round shields that were wider than he was and almost half as tall. They wouldn't block everything a Grimm threw at them, but they were designed to be hard to get around both for animals and Grimm and buy time and space for others to come help.
Alongside that, the militia carried one spear, a knife designed for skinning, and a few of them had guns. Not Jaune. Guns were fairly rare in Ansel on account of having nowhere to buy weapons-grade dust from. As such, the only firearms in the village were weapons from retired huntsmen and huntresses, which ran on old stores of dust. Those were often granted to their children, even if they didn't want to become huntsmen themselves. Even if you had one, you had to go through extra training to be allowed to bring it out. Not everyone had aura unlocked or experience in using it. Luckily, Ansel was a town full of retired huntsmen and huntresses, and even at their advanced age they were quick to swat heads of step in when kids started playing with weapons.
Idly, Jaune wished he had a sword like his dad. He'd been training to use one, but Nicholas wasn't yet convinced enough to change the rules. Spears were easy, he'd said. That was why people used them for thousands of years. Just poke the thing you don't like and stay out of reach. It would be more than enough to keep wolves and even a small bear at bay.
And Ansel was a peaceful village. Sure, the forests had the occasional bear and wolves and every once in a blue moon there would be rumours of Grimm, but there hadn't been an actual attack on the city as far back as anyone could remember. Not a proper one, anyway. Every now and then a singular Grimm would see the wooden walls and decide to throw its life away on the sharpened, outward-facing stakes around the perimeter. Jaune remembered playing on the walls with his friends when the last appeared. They'd made a game of shouting and drawing its attention, so it'd kill itself trying to get them. It had been fun at the time, though none of their parents had been happy once they found out.
"Oi." Nicholas cuffed his shoulder suddenly. "Stop spacing out. The militia demands complete focus. I'm not going to go easy on you because you're my son."
As if Jaune expected it. If anything, Nicholas would be harsher on him for it. Only because he was worried. Jaune nodded and followed his father to the northern gate. The walls of Ansel were some six five metres tall with a wooden gatehouse that had seen its fair share of rebuilding over the years, more to repair damage caused by old age, rain and the occasional blizzard than any attacks. The gates were attached by rusty chains, but they spent most of the day open. At night, they were closed, though a smaller man-sized doorway could be opened up to let people in and out.
Ten other people stood chatting and waiting, each armoured and armed the same as him. They paused on spotting Nicholas, breaking off and giving quick salutes. Ansel's militia was not and never would be a disciplined military, but there was respect in it. The village respected them, and they respected the huntsman who took time out his day to train and protect them. Their ages ranged from as young as sixteen to as old as forty, and Jaune knew most of them by name. That was more through having them come to his home to speak with Nicholas than any personal association, but they had all been friendly enough.
"Jaune coming today?" The eldest, Tommen, asked. "Your first hunt, lad. Keep your wits about you. They may only be animals, but wolves are canny, and they can outsmart the unwary."
"If that happens, the last thing he need worry about is wolves." Nicholas warned. "He's going to be centre formation. Tommen, Franklyn, I want you on the flanks." The oldest and the strongest respectively. It made sense. "You all know what we're here for. Wolves have approached the foresters. No attacks yet, but if they're that desperate then it's only a matter of time."
"Been a cold autumn." Franklyn said. "My pa says an early winter is coming."
"I feel that as well." Nicholas said. "We're in for a harsh winter and the animals know it. Lucky all the harvesting was done weeks ago, eh? The last shipment from Vale will be coming in a few weeks too, so make sure to tell your folks to get their shopping lists updated for winter." His words earned a few nods and laughter. Ansel was mostly self-sustaining, but luxury items and rare foods or medicine needed to be shipped in. Luckily, the trails were fairly safe, and the convoys delivering to outpost villages and towns were always well protected. They had one every month, though there was a two-month break around December and January, hence everyone rushing in final shipments. "Now, we just need to make sure our boys in the forests can get us enough firewood."
Firewood. It sounded so mundane, but Jaune knew better. While most homes nowadays had heating systems that ran off dust, it was an expensive commodity and Ansel wasn't the richest of villages. Log fires were therefore the main way to keep warm in the colder months, but the foresters couldn't expend themselves with wolves lurking around ready to pick off the weak. Without the firewood, people might well freeze to death, which was what made the militia's duty so important.
We're making a difference. Jaune thought proudly. We're heroes.
It wasn't slaying an army of Grimm to rescue a princess but driving off wolves to keep an entire village warm through winter was no less important. Plus, it was his first step on the path to becoming a world-renowned huntsman. Jaune hefted his spear, walked to the centre of formation and held his head high as people waved them off out the main gates.
Dried leaves turned red crunched underfoot. The trees had completely shed them, and what remained had long turned yellow and orange, and a thick carpet of dried foliage coated the floor, sometimes deep enough that Jaune's legs kicked through them as he marched in the centre of the column. It was a dry, cold late-autumn day and the world knew it. Squirrels darted along branches, the birds had long since migrated for Vacuo and a lot of the wildlife was getting ready to hibernate through the winter, if they hadn't started already.
"Hey." Tommen's son, Julian, sidled up to Jaune and whispered quietly at him.
"Hey back at you." Jaune returned quietly. They weren't close friends, but they'd practiced together a few times. Julian was two years older than him, so they hadn't had any real interaction at school. "Dad will have my ass if we make too much noise."
"Everyone else is chatting. Just keep it quiet."
Sure enough, the others in the group were conversing in low, quiet voices. Their job was to track down animals that would naturally hide from them and sneaking up on anyone with the leaves underfoot announcing their every step wasn't going to happen. Ahead of the party, Nicholas kept his wits about him, too far away to hear if they kept to whispers.
"So," Julian said, "I hear you got your aura unlocked. How's it feel?"
"Awesome." Jaune held out his fist, clenched it and showed the other boy the flicker of white light. "It's the most incredible feeling. I feel like I could take on a Beowolf with this."
"Yeah? Big talk. Your pa is training you, right?"
"Yep." Only for two months now, and only after a full year of begging. "I kept badgering him and he finally gave in. I'm going to become a huntsman."
"Isn't it too late to try for an academy?"
"Dad says it's not the only way. Academies train you to be better, but you only need to pass tests to become a huntsman and not every huntsman goes through one of the schools. I can apprentice under him if I get rejected. Get first-hand experience and one-on-one tutoring."
It did. Dad had impressed on him how dangerous it was, but that didn't make it any less exciting in his mind. Instead of four years of schoolwork and lectures, he could get real-life experience and fight monsters. That felt better than schooling to be honest. How could theory and homework match up to real life experience? It couldn't. Still, his father wanted him to try for an Academy first. Safer, more fun and a good way to make friends and a team to travel with after graduation. Jaune hadn't been against the idea.
"Will you be working out of Ansel while you're training for it, then? There's two years left before you can apply. You going to be training here or are you travelling?"
"Bit of both. Dad wants us to stay here until I'm tough enough to take Grimm on my own, then we'll travel. He says I can accompany him on some state-missions from Vale. See how a huntsman does things in the field. Maybe even travel to Mistral if there isn't enough work here."
"Damn. You're gonna be seeing the whole world. Lucky. I'm gonna be stuck here training under dad to become a carpenter. Might try and work outside as well, visit Vale and see the big city. You ever been?"
"No. I want to."
"Me too. I heard stories from some of the others who've been."
"What others?" Jaune had to ask. Ansel was so far out the way that most of the kids who lived there had never known anywhere else. "Who have you been talking to?"
"Merchants' drivers." Julian grinned. "The drivers and pilots that bring the merchants by for the monthly shopping runs. They were drinking in the pub, and I bought them a round for some stories."
"Does your dad know you were drinking in the pub?"
"Course not. And he won't find out, eh?"
Jaune laughed under his breath. "I won't tell him."
"Knew I could trust you. Hey, you got aura, right? That mean you have your Semblance?"
Jaune shook his head. He wanted to unlock his Semblance, but it just didn't work that way. Dad said it had taken him almost five years, while others unlocked it along with their aura, and some never did at all. If aura was a huntsman's main tool, then a Semblance defined them, and dad had ideas about that. Not favourable ones. The almost supernatural abilities tended to pigeonhole you, or so he claimed. They made previously versatile huntsmen change their training up to take advantage of a gimmick and become all the weaker for it.
Honesty, it made sense. Both arguments. He could understand wanting to take advantage of an ability unique to you, but also his dad's idea that being more well-rounded prevented any weaknesses. He'd promised his dad that even if and when he unlocked his, he wouldn't slack on any aspect of his training. That way, his Semblance could be a supplementary tool and not a crutch.
"What kind of Semblance do you want?"
"You don't get to pick," Jaune said with a quiet laugh.
"I know. I mean, if you could, though. What would you go for?"
"I don't know." There were limitless options available, some of the most famous ones being family Semblances that passed down bloodlines. Even simply ones like increased speed, strength or durability could be game changers. "Something unique," Jaune said at last. "Something that makes me stand out."
"Yeah, I get you. What's the point of having some super-hero ability if other people do, too?"
"Exactly. Semblances are a lottery. Kind of defeats the point if you roll the same as someone else." Jaune hummed and said, "Maybe something visible and cool. An attack of some kind."
That didn't sound bad, though hopefully they'd be under control and not firing off whenever he blinked. "I wouldn't say no to flight."
"Who would? Man, do you think it's possible to get an aura and Semblance even if you're not a huntsman?"
It was possible, sure, but unlikely. Jaune said as much, reciting his dad's lessons. Aura needed to be trained to be used effectively, and Semblances tended to come in response to danger. While it wasn't technically impossible for Julian to have both and unlock a Semblance as a carpenter's son, it was unlikely he'd do so, or have the fine control to use it on command.
Nicholas threw his hand up suddenly and Jaune elbowed Julian in the side, bringing him to silence around the same time as the rest of the group. Previously grinning and laughing members of the militia tensed and readied their shields. The air was cold, still, but no one doubted Nicholas' instincts.
Sure enough, bushes rustled ahead. A snout appeared first, followed by the haunches of a wolf, then a second and a third. Grey and shaggy, skinny and rough-furred where their coats were growing out, a pack of wolves slowly emerged from the underbrush, snarling and snapping at their party. Jaune licked his lips, heart humping sharply in his chest and aura swimming to his front and sides.
He wasn't afraid. No. If anything, he was excited.
His dad had told him and the militia about wolves all the time, their strengths and their weaknesses, behaviour and things to look out for. At the end of the day, dangerous or not, they were still animals, and so Nicholas strode boldly and fearlessly toward them. The growling intensified, but the tall huntsman took step after predatory step, and some of the wolves on the flanks began to shy back, bringing their heads low and snarling louder.
Animals that wanted to attack you didn't make such noise. It was a threat display most of the time, intimidation to make you back away, and a sign that they were themselves frightened. Nicholas played on that, striding up to them and shouting "Yahhh!" in a powerful battle cry.
The central wolf flinched back. Tommen echoed their leader, slapping his spear against his shield and shouting out. Jaune followed suit along with the others, the militia acting as Nicholas' own pack and clamouring and making noise. In pack vs pack intimidation, they faced the wolves down, and the animals began to slink backwards, hackles raised, teeth bared, but clearly not looking for a fight.
Which was why it was so sudden when the wolves leapt for them!
"SHIELDS!" Nicholas roared, almost as surprised as they. Wolves didn't attack dangerous prey even when starving. They'd never go for armed and ready humans outnumbering them. Jaune felt himself be pinned in on all sides as everyone's bodies linked, shields coming up to create a nigh-impenetrable phalanx.
Nicholas swung Crocea Mors and killed the lead wolf, but the others charged – and charged past him. They raced and darted at the militia, jaws snapping. Jaune jabbed his spear out and missed as the animal slunk beneath. Then, to his shock, the beast darted past him entirely, so close it could have bit his leg, and shot by.
"Wait!" Tommen shouted. "They're not attacking us. Hold!"
Spears were raised and shields lowered. One or two of the wolves had been hit, with one dying and the other limping away after the rest of the pack. Jaune averted his eyes as Tommen stepped up and put the hurt wolf out its misery with a single well-aimed stab.
"Well, that was a bit anti-climactic." Julian whispered.
"Odd behaviour." Nicholas agreed, having overheard him. "Keep your guards up! Unusual behaviour from them and I don't like it. Wolves would never charge a group like ours, especially not just to run past us."
"Was like they were running away from something." Franklyn said. "Something bigger and scarier than us."
Nicholas' eyes widened. He swore. "Fuck! Back to Ansel!" he shouted. "Get back to-"
Too late. Jaune saw the hulking shape emerge from the trees behind his father with unnatural grace. A Grimm – a Beowolf – powerful black muscle and white bone lined with red. It didn't make a sound as it lunged at Nicholas' back. Jaune tried to cry a warning. "Da-"
Crocea Mors twisted and spun, cutting through a limb and then stabbing into a chink between bone armour under the chin and near the neck. The Beowolf continued its dive, crashed to the dirt and twitched on the floor. Nicholas looked none the worse for having slain it. "Back!" he ordered. "I'll hold the retreat. Tommen, Franklyn, lead them back home and close the gates!"
"Aye, Nicholas!" Tommen shouted. "You heard him – get back. There's Grimm afoot."
"Is one of the best Huntsmen around." Tommen said, grabbing Jaune's arm and yanking him along. "He eats shit like this for breakfast. Come on!"
They fled back through the forests of Ansel in as orderly a fashion as they could, Tommen in the lead and Franklyn bringing up the rear. There was an undercurrent of fear now, a visible shaken quality to the once-confident militia. They knew how to fight Grimm, but they had never had to do it on account of the huntsmen in Ansel. They were meant to deal with wild animals, help rescue kids lost in the woods and the like.
If it wasn't for the more experienced members of the militia, they might have broken already. Tommen kept up an audible string of commands to keep moving, stay tight and not to stray off. Franklyn sounded the all-clear every ten seconds from behind, assuring them of their safety.
"It'll be fine, you'll see!" Tommen said. "Not the first time we've had to back off and let Nicholas handle this. Won't be the last either. Grimm are a part of life, boys and girls. Best get used to it!"
His easy confidence, even if feigned, felt so real that Jaune and the others laughed in return. Grimm were a part of living outside a city, but Ansel had lasted forever and would keep lasting.
"This'll be a story to tell your mates," he went on. "Maybe embellish a little if you like, tell them you got a stab in or held the line. Not like anyone will say any differen-"
Tommen's face twisted to look back at them, still smiling, even as blood ran down his nose. The fact that his body was facing the other way, and that his head had twisted a full one-hundred-and-eighty degrees was what stopped them. The man, so calm and confident, toppled like a puppet with his strings cut, and the Ursa that had leapt out in front of him and swiped once at his head barked an angry cry.
No angrier than Julian's scream of "DAD!" as he ran forward.
"No!" Franklyn shouted from the back. The boy didn't listen, filled with grief and rage, he stabbed at the Ursa's face and managed to drive his spear tip into its eye. The monster roared in pain, reared up and swiped its claws from left ton right, catching Julian in the stomach and launching him into the closest tree. He struck with a painfully loud crack, bent unnaturally around the trunk and collapsed to the floor. Dead.
Franklyn roared and barged his way past Jaune and the other, stunned, militia, took the attention of the wounded Ursa and ducked its claw. He stabbed and drove it back, avoided another strike by a mere inch and drove his spear into its neck. Letting go of it, he drew his handgun, passed down from his huntsman grandpa, and unloaded at the beast. "For Tommen, you fucker!"
The ursa stumbled and fell, but no sooner had it done so than a Beowolf and another Ursa burst from the trees, drawn either by the gunshots or the negativity. The Beowolf launched itself as Franklyn and bore him to the ground even as it took three dust rounds to the chest. Jaune didn't see the man's fate, but the blood that rose up in a fine mist as the monster rent and tore downward was all too clear. The Ursa, meanwhile, barrelled into them, disembowelling a man to Jaune's left and knocking him back with the man's body.
Jaune flew away and landed under the man. "Are you okay!?" he asked, terrified. The man stared back with open eyes, his stomach drenched red and his intestines hanging out. Jaune gagged and threw up on the dead man's chest. He rolled over and squirmed out, looking back in time to see the Ursa bring both hands down on a young man blocking with his shield. The strike tore through it and the man's chest in one go, sending him back in a cloud of gore.
Primal fear and outright terror cut through them all. The militia broke and fled, some in the direction of Ansel, some just in the opposite path to the Grimm. One of those ran straight into a third coming out the trees, screamed and died screaming with a claw through his stomach.
Not like this, Jaune thought, eyes watering and heart racing. I can't die like this. Dad, please. Da-
"Rarghhhh!" Nicholas Arc flew from the trees, stabbed the Beowolf, twirled, wrenched his sword free and cut its head off in one move. Still screaming, he launched himself at the Ursa and lopped one of its tree-trunk arms free, saving a woman's life and knocking her away. "Run!" he screamed. "Run for your lives! Jaune! Jaune, where are you!?"
Relief, raw and pure, had Jaune crying out, "I'm here!"
Nicholas kicked the dying Ursa back and rushed over, grabbed Jaune's arm and hauled him up. "You're alive!" he rasped emotionally. "I thought- No. We need to go. Ansel must be warned. Stay with me. I'll get you out."
Stay. Yes. Anything. Tears running down his face, Jaune nodded. As more Grimm came from the trees, however, he whimpered. Nicholas saw and turned, pushing Jaune behind him.
"I'll handle them! Stay out the way! Anyone else alive, get over here. I'll protect you!"
Only the one woman answered, limping over to Jaune with naked terror on her face, along with a streak of blood. The others were either dead or had fled, leaving the tree of them – or just Nicholas, realistically – to hold the line against four Grimm at once.
Four Grimm that would have proven no challenge for him normally. He attacked as such, driving two back and killing one in the opening exchange. He was a whirlwind of steel, slapping claws aside with his shield and driving Crocea Mors home with unerring force and accuracy. As one Grimm fell, he was onto the next, everywhere at once, slaughtering the monsters with the same ease they had the militia.
"We're going to be okay!" Jaune told the woman. Or himself. He needed to hear the words just as badly. "My dad can kill them all. You'll see. We're going to be okay!"
"Look out!" Nicholas roared. A Grimm rose behind them, hiding in the noise of combat and their terrified focus on Nicholas. Jaune turned, eyes bulging, as the Beowolf raised its claw high.
Aura! Aura now!
It rushed forward, just as he'd been trained to use it. He brought his hands up anyway, more instinct to catch the blow than anything else. Maybe he'd be able to save this woman's life along with his own.
He never got the chance. Nicholas slammed between them and brought his shield up the block it, knocking both Jaune and the woman aside. The ear-shattering ring of the impact was followed with a snarl from the Beowolf whose attack had been halted. Nicholas grunted and stabbed Crocea Mors under the shield, up and into its chest.
Right as the Grimm he had been forced to disengage with slammed into his back, driving its claw through armour, skin and bone in a single aura-shattering blow. The sound was not unlike glass breaking, followed by a pained gasp as Nicholas Arc was mortally wounded.
"D… Dad…?" Jaune stammered from his place on the floor.
His father looked back, caught between two Grimm, one dying and one snarling in victory. His lips bubbled with blood, but even in his dying breath he forced himself to mouth "run" to his son. He then drew the sword from his defeated foe, reversed it and stabbed it back under his armpit, locking him to the Grimm that had killed him.
No, no, no. Jaune trembled and shook his head, denying the reality of it. This couldn't be real – it just couldn't be! His dad was the best, a huntsman. He couldn't just die to Grimm. Not like this. Not to protect him.
I became a huntsman to save other people. Not to have them save me. I… This… This is a nightmare. It's a dream. It must be!
There was no way this was real. That he, at fifteen-years of age, would be stood shaking among the bodies of the fallen, among all these people he'd known and grown up with, including his own father. There was no way that all these people that had been laughing and boasting not two minutes ago could be… dead. Just like that.
It couldn't be real.
Nicholas and the Grimm fell, tangled together. Another came from the trees, perhaps the last of them. He could maybe take one – it was possible. But even as his brain told him that and bade him pick up his spear and try, he couldn't. His body was frozen, eyes wide and filled with tears, breath heaving out in gasps so loud they drained every drop of air from his lungs. Run, his father's last words had been, and yet he couldn't make his legs move at all.
"This isn't real…" he whispered. Stammered. The Grimm snarled and strode forward, feeding off the negativity rolling off Jaune in waves. "This isn't real!" he said, louder. "They're not dead! They're not! He isn't dead! Dad can't be dead! This isn't real!"
Aura swirled chaotically. It burned off his skin, bright white and shining harshly, turning to naught but light and heat as it escaped him. He couldn't stop it and made no effort to. The burning, raw, feeling of it echoed with the pain he felt inside. He closed his eyes, let it all out in one blinding flash of light and screamed at the top of his lungs.
"THEY'RE NOT DEAD!"
The light splashed off the trees and blinded him and the Grimm both, even the last woman, who lay on the floor crying and as broken as he. The Grimm snorted and flinched back, spots no doubt dancing before its vision just as they had Jaune's. It recovered quickly, snorted and loped forward again, baring its inch-long fangs in a sick parody of a smile.
Kill me, then, Jaune thought dully. I've nothing to live for. Kill me.
The beast's claw rose up high.
Steel erupted from its chest.
It froze, as did Jaune, both of them looking down at the foot or more of metal that protruded from its cavernous breast. It twisted violently until it was horizontal, then tipped up and dragged back, pulling the Grimm away from its prey and denying it the last chance to kill him. It fell with a gurgle, the blade wrenching free and slashing down to the grass, scattering blood from its fuller. Behind it, panting, red-faced and hair slick, Nicholas Arc snarled and stabbed down at the monster.
"D… Dad…?" Jaune couldn't believe his eyes, and as the tears clouded his vision it didn't become any easier. Nicholas stood there, hazy and indistinct, but alive and breathing heavily. "D… Dad… Is that…? But I thought you… I thought you died!"
"I thought I did as well." he said, touching his chest. His armour had been rent open and still was, exposing his skin beneath. Whole, unblemished skin. He let his sword dip down and looked past Jaune with haunted eyes. "And I'm pretty sure they were, too."
Groans and uncomfortable sounds echoed in the clearing. Confused, Jaune turned, only to gasp as members of the militia slowly pushed themselves up, dazed and shaken, confused and looking down at themselves. Franklyn, who had been reduced to mist, sat up with a haunted look in his eyes. Tommen shakily stood, his head facing forward as it always had. A second later, Julian slammed into him, weeping fitfully and clinging to his father. Tommen hugged him back, both falling to their knees.
"I was dead." Tommen said. "I saw – I felt it. I died. How-?"
"It was him!" the woman shouted. The only survivor alongside himself, pointing and staring at Jaune with fear, shock and perhaps just a little awe. All eyes turned to him, everyone staring. "I saw it!" she gasped. "He… He resurrected everyone. He brought the dead back to life!"
And there's the first chapter. Just to make it clear, no, this isn't healing – this is literal, honest to goodness, resurrection. Bringing the dead back to life, while reverting their injuries to their pre-death state. Is it OP? Hells yes. Are there limits and caveats? Very much so. Will that matter in determining whether Jaune becomes the kind of commodity people would kill to have? Nope.
This is very much a Jaune with an OP Semblance story, but my goal is not to make Jaune himself OP. His Semblance is insanely useful functionally, but it doesn't help Jaune fight. It makes him the ultimate out-of-combat support but will also have a pretty hectic effect on his mental health. After all, to use it, he has to watch people die. He can bring people back, but only if he fails to save them in the first place. He would still lose to Cinder, Adam or anyone of note if they fought him. Cardin could probably still kick his butt as well.
I wanted to explore a story where Jaune has an OP Semblance, as so many people write them, but where instead of that just letting him be a superhero with a harem and be the best huntsman ever, it actually causes people to act differently around him. To see him differently. A Semblance that becomes almost more important to the people of Remnant than the individual wielding it is. Where his face and name are forgotten in the fact of the incredible power he wields.
In a way, one of my students said the idea is like Null if Null wasn't forced to become a criminal by Chivalric Arms and their horrible human experimentation. It's going to look at what kind of effects an uber-powerful Semblance would have on Remnant in terms of politics, belief, and how people around Jaune will act to it. And yeah, it basically also flies against the very thing the Brother Gods punished Salem and Ozma for.
Next Chapter: 8th March
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur