Aurum's first sight was trees. She found herself lying on the ground with an incredible headache. In her arms was baby Cobalt, who was crying softly, obviously suffering from a similar headache. Aurum sat up and coddled him for a moment, taking account of their surroundings as she did so. She was in a clearing of some kind in the middle of a forest, she had no idea exactly where, and there were no signs to be found.
It appeared to be just after midnight, with the shattered moon joined by hundreds of stars smattering the night sky. From there, Aurum gleaned that she was nowhere near any of the four kingdoms, since the light pollution from them would never allow for a view of the stars such as this. No, she was in the wilderness, of that she was certain. Resolute, Aurum got to work.
She fashioned a makeshift baby carrier sash for Cobalt out of the bolt of fabric she had, setting off into the forest around her and gathering supplies along the way. Her time at Beacon, and traveling alongside Ren and Nora, had taught her much about how to live off the land, allowing her to find small bits of food she knew were edible. From the foliage, she figured she was on Anima. As she traveled, she came across several small streams, stopping to take drinks at a few of them before continuing on.
Aurum traveled aimlessly through the forest all night. Any Grimm she came across were quickly dealt with by her silver eyes, and as morning came and the sun began to rise on the horizon, a realization struck her. Those streams were all leading to the same place. Following this, Aurum then backtracked several miles, eventually returning to the last stream she had seen. Once there, she followed it to where it ended, and after three more hours of travel, the sun now shining brightly, Aurum arrived at the edge of a truly massive lake, "Lake Matsu."
By this point, Aurum was well and truly exhausted. She was nearing ready to stop and rest for the day, wilderness and grimm be damned. But as she scanned the horizon, her eyes spotted something. At the edge of her vision, just about as far as she could see down the beach of Lake Matsu, was smoke, rising above the horizon in several thin wispy strands.
Fueled by this, Aurum quickly set off, traveling much quicker now that she was unimpeded by forest and trees. After only a few minutes, she spotted a small village on the horizon, one that seemed… slightly familiar, strangely enough.
As she drew closer, and more of the town came into view, Aurum gasped audibly and proclaimed, "Higanbana!" her pace quickening at the sight of the familiar village. The small stacks of smoke she saw before now clearly came from chimneys on several houses throughout the village. As she neared, a guard called down from the wall, "Hail Traveller! The gate is thataway, you'll find some guards there who'll greet you!"
Aurum called up to the guard with thanks before following his directions, circling the village until she came across the small gate. The guards noticed her fairly quickly, and were fast to open the gate and greet her at the threshold. The first guard, dressed in simple armor with a gun and a spear slung on her back spoke first, "Hello! Welcome to Higanbana. It's rare we have a traveler on foot, let alone one without a weapon. Are you alright?"
Aurum nodded tiredly, "Yeah, I'm… I'm fine physically, a bit tired though, I've been up for a while now, gotta keep an eye out and all… could you direct me to an inn? I-" Aurum yawned loudly, "I-uh… could really use some sleep…"
The guard chuckled lightly and pointed her to a familiar-looking building, so Aurum sleepily made her way to the building, ready to collapse into a room. She got about halfway through asking for a room before realizing though, "Oh… right, uh… I sort of don't have any money?"
The innkeeper gave her a stern look that read 'Really lady?' as Aurum sheepishly scratched the back of her neck, "I can work for it! Just umm, can I please sleep first? I haven't slept in over thirty hours and I really could use it…"
The innkeeper eventually did relent, allowing Aurum and Cobalt a place to sleep, which Aurum wasted no time doing. Aurum woke up in the very early hours of the following morning, approximately 3AM according to the old analog alarm clock in her room. Sighing to herself, she began getting ready for a long day of work to earn her stay. Luckily for her, Cobalt was still asleep by the time she was ready, saving her the fuss of taking care of him while getting herself prepared for the day.
Being careful to not wake him, Aurum once again made a makeshift baby carrier sash and lifted Cobalt into it, holding him close to her chest as he slept peacefully. Aurum once again checked the time. Seeing it was around 3:45, she sighed and left her room, coming down to the lobby of the inn and seeing that the innkeeper was still awake, cleaning various things behind the desk at the front.
As she approached him, the innkeeper looked up and let out a chuckle, "Heh, finally awake, I see? 'Guess you weren't kidding about being exhausted. Now, normally a room like that would set you back thirty Lien, but seeming as you've got your kiddo there, and you really were just completely wiped out, I'll give it to you for twenty five. I reckon that's about three or four hours of work as a janitor around here, unless you got any other skills?"
Aurum lit up slightly, and answered, "Um… I'm really good at killing Grimm? Does that count?"
The innkeeper's eyes widened, and he looked her over again, "Uh… do you have a weapon or something miss? Or am I just missing something? Also, how you gonna fight beasts with a baby wrapped up on you like that?"
Aurum smiled warmly, replying, "It's a… Semblance thing I guess you'd call it; I can kill loads of Grimm with pretty much nothing but my eyeballs and some evasion. It is a bit tiring, though."
The innkeeper whistled, "Well then, If you're sure of that, I reckon the guards wouldn't mind someone to deal with this group of Ursa that have been harassin the village for these past few weeks-" and gestured to the door, "-they'd probably pay, oh, maybe two hundred lien for it? I'm not too sure though, go talk to the guard captain in the hut by the gate come dawn, but 'till then… I guess you could get a meal if you don't mind paying for it later."
Aurum thanked the man and sat down to eat, feeding a slowly stirring Cobalt as well. She then idled about for a few hours until just before six, when the sun began to peek over the horizon. Leaving the inn and thanking the man as she left, she headed for the guard post.
The walk wasn't long, and soon Aurum found herself entering a small wooden hut near the gate, finding a few guards milling about and one guard sitting at a desk wearing a fancier outfit than the others.
The guard in question looked up as she entered the room, setting down his pen and smiling lightly, "Morning Ma'am, you're the one who came in yesterday with no weapon, correct?"
Aurum sighed and nodded her head, and the man responded, "Ah, thought so. The innkeeper tells me you have no lien, so I'll ask. Have you come here for work?"
Aurum nodded and spoke in response, "Ahm, eh, yeah, I was told you guys had an issue with a pack of Ursa around here?"
The guard's eyes widened slightly, "I was under the impression you had no weapon? Do you have a semblance that can kill two or three dozen Ursai?"
Aurum nodded once again, "Yep! I can probably kill just about three hundred small Grimm with a single glare, though I'd be out like a light if I did that…"
Understanding, the guard stood up quickly and grabbed a sword that was resting across the room, "We'll head out now then, 'cause this Ursa pack has been bugging us for weeks. They show up, attack our plants and kill our farmers' livestock and herding dogs, then retreat and attack a different part of the village, be it our walls, our caravans, or our hunting parties. It'll be a load off my back if we can get 'em squared away."
Aurum nodded and followed the man out and to the gate to the village, where the two met up with another guard, the lady guard who had greeted her the previous morning. Aurum waved hello as they approached, and they soon set off towards where the Ursa pack liked to roam.
Luckily, the pack only took roughly a half hour to find, and pretty much as soon as the whole of the pack was in sight, Aurum let out a light sigh and focused on her desire to preserve life, letting the magic flow from her eyes and petrify the thirty or so Grimm before her; her face perked up with a faint smile as she heard Cobalt giggle at the light show.
Afterwards, Aurum looked to her left and right to see gobsmacked looks on both the guards' faces. The head guard turned to her and managed to speak, "Wh-What the… how in the hell?"
The other guard was similarly curious, "W-was that how you made it through the wilderness with no weapon? Just laser beaming Grimm with your eyeballs?"
Aurum let out a chuckle, saying, "Heh, yeah, sort of. I mean, that's not really how it works, because it's not a weapon, but a shield? It works on the desire to protect. It's weird like that."
The guards both had confused looks, but didn't pry further, accepting Aurum's semblance for what she said it was. After making the short trek back to town, Aurum was paid a hefty sum of seven hundred lien for her trouble.
After giving the innkeep his money, Aurum had six hundred and sixty five Lien to burn getting herself to Vacuo, with her first expense being a ride by boat to Mistral, setting her back one hundred Lien. After arriving in Mistral, she purchased contacts that would change her eye color to a dark blue, hiding her unique eyes.
Next, she took a long-distance flight, connecting through Vale to Vacuo, leaving her with only fifty Lien to her name, with the majority of that money going towards caring for herself and Cobalt for the week it took to get there. Luckily, getting to Shade Academy from there was relatively simple, and soon Aurum found herself walking into the foyer of Shade Academy only a week after being sent back.
Entering the foyer, she was greeted by what appeared to be an ancient (compared to her standards) model of holo-helper. The hologram was angular and lacked any definition or features, and its movements were jerky and unnatural. Still, the helper looked at her and greeted her with a cheery masculine voice by saying, "Welcome to Shade! How may I assist you, Ma'am?"
Aurum blinked away her confusion and responded, "I'd like a meeting with Headmaster Theodore please."
The AI assistant froze for a few seconds before gesturing behind himself towards a hallway, "Headmaster Theodore will see you now, please go down the hall, right at the second fork, and up the elevator to the top floor, then the Headmaster's office is to the right directly out of the elevator. Have a wonderful day!"
Aurum gave the AI a curious look before walking away, hearing the hologram turn off as she passed it and followed its instructions. Before long she found herself at the door to Theodore's office. Taking a deep breath, Aurum breathed out and pushed through the door.
As she entered the room, she saw a young Theodore, obviously in his mid to late twenties; he was looking down at some papers on his desk, idly fiddling with something with his off-hand while the other one wrote and erased words occasionally. As Aurum walked in, he set his pen down and looked up to greet her, "Ah, hello, miss. I'm told you wanted a meeting?"
Aurum nodded slowly. Her focus not really on Theodore, but rather on the object in his offhand. She felt oddly compelled to try to take it, like it was calling to her, but once Theodore spoke again, "Well then, take a seat. I'm sure we can get whatever it is you wanted to speak about squared away," her attention was drawn back to him.
Snapped out of whatever was drawing her focus away, she sat in one of the chairs opposite Theodore, but as she sat down she noticed something resting on Theodore's desk, a small golden earring with a blue gem, the gem softly pulsing a light turquoise blue. Aurum spoke for the first time upon entering the room, "I.. I'm sorry uh… that earring there, may I see it?"
Theodore started, slightly confused for a second before turning his gaze to the earring resting on his desk, "oh, erm… sure. These just appeared on my desk about a week ago, and I haven't the slightest clue where they came from. Do you?" Theodore turned his hand to show that the thing he had been fiddling with was the other earring.
Aurum picked the earring up, gasping as the turquoise color stopped pulsing and began to glow slightly. The room became eerily quiet, the noises of the building and the world outside coming to a halt, and Theodore himself became still. Slowly, smoke began to pour from the earrings, the one on the desk floating through the air to join the one Aurum had picked up as it floated out of her grasp and towards the space behind her.
She stood up and watched as the smoke billowing out from the pair of earrings began to coalesce into a humanoid shape, taking the familiar form of Rose with her hands up in celebration. She spoke in a cheery tone as she formed, "Hello timeline twelve, and hello Aurum! How have you been this last week?"
Aurum blinked confusedly, "Wait… the earrings are? But… isn't it supposed to be Crescent Rose?"
Rose giggled lightly, "I mean, yeah, when I made it, I imagined it as 'The Perfect Weapon' which I later found out apparently means the perfect weapon for the bonded user. So, for you, that's Crescent. For someone else… Well, there's this adorable kiddo in one of the timelines that has wings, and the Relic turned into some type of mechashift armor that could split off into swords. Kind of like Penny's Floating Array? They shot bullets too, it's really cool! I imagine it would do something different for literally everyone. Maybe Gambol for Blake? Ember Celica for Yang? I dunno. But here!"
A flash of light appeared in front of her, and floating in midair was the compact form of Crescent Rose, though not the red version Aurum remembered. Instead, this Crescent resembled the gargantuan city sized scythe that she saw in the inbetween, with a relic gold body and glowing godly turquoise outlines and accents.
Aurum took a tentative step towards it, picking the floating weapon out of the air and feeling its heft and balance… the same as the original. Aurum's focus was pulled while she caressed the familiar, yet starkly different form of the weapon as Rose once again spoke, this time softly and with warmth, "Each one of us is different. The various timelines all subtly alter everyone in them, the choices they make. Some Aurums go right for it, extending it out and performing katas, some look at it like a weapon not their own, inspecting it like they're at a weapon store looking to buy… and some of us have a gentler touch, testing to see if she really is the same weapon we hold so dear."
Aurum looked up upon hearing that, meeting Rose's gaze. She could see some slight mirth in her face, but her eyes betrayed a small sadness that Aurum didn't see. Rose continued speaking, "I can tell this time around is going to be interesting… Don't disappoint me, me. 'Kay?"
Rose then began to dissolve into smoke, letting time slowly resume as she faded into thin air, leaving behind the weapon in Aurum's hands, and a somewhat confused Theodore who had just witnessed Aurum seemingly teleport out of her chair.
Turning around, Aurum inhaled deeply, letting out a long, drawn out sigh while closing her eyes. Upon opening them, she met Theodore's confused gaze and spoke questioningly, "Do I look familiar to you?"
Theodore leaned back slightly, his eyes narrowing, "Hmmm… not… particularly? You do bear some small resemblance to another woman I know, but she wears a white cloak, not red, and she has a unique silver eye color."
Aurum let out a small sigh of relief, letting some tension fall from her shoulders, "Summer Rose. Wields an axe that turns into a rifle? Wears… this rose emblem-" Aurum reached for her waistline under her cloak, grabbing the small metal emblem from her belt, "-on her chest?"
Theodore leaned closer now, inspecting the small metal object, "...Yes, that would be her… whe-"
"I'm her daughter. From the future. From a timeline that… in nineteen years from now is destroyed completely. The whole planet turned to space dust at the hands of the brother gods… because Salem got every relic."
Theodore blinked, then spoke up again, "...erm, that's… a rather large claim to make."
Aurum smiled awkwardly, internally panicking, 'Damnit… I sort of expected that to work… wait, what if!'
"Wait wait, I think I can prove it… you remember those earrings, and how I picked them up?" Aurum asked, leading Theodore to nod, "Well, those earrings were a fifth relic, named The Relic of Hope… and uhm, okay, taking a step back, when I time traveled, I got split up a bunch because reasons that I'm not gonna get into, and one of those splits became a spirit… Do you know about the relic spirits?"
Theodore shook his head, confusion compounding. Aurum continued, "Okay, so there's a spirit that controls every relic and shows up when you want to use it, like the one in knowledge is named Jinn and is like a genie, and the one in Creation is a super buff guy named Ambrosius. Anyways, the spirit in the Relic of Hope is one of the splits of me. Her name is Rose, and she looks just like me. She has silver eyes too, like mom."
Theodore stared at her, confused and unimpressed. Out of desperation, Aurum looked down to the weapon in her hands, staring at it for a few seconds before a lightbulb went off in her head, "Rose!"
Once again, time slowed to a stop, and smoke wafted out from the cracks in Crescent Rose, though this time, Theodore was unfrozen, allowed to witness as the smoke coalesced into the now floating form of Rose, who seemed larger and more passive than she did previously.
After fully forming, Rose swung her arms out and stretched, sighing softly before speaking, "Ahh, That always hits the spot… Greetings, I am Rose, a being blessed by the God of Light to aid humanity in its quest to unite itself. I may be used by my bonded at their leisure to fulfill their hopes." Rose opened her eyes and met the incredibly confused gaze of Theodore, "Or I can help her explain and convince others of her goals and origins… hmm, odd choice. Honestly Aurum, I would have summoned me solo before doing it with Theodore… but I guess this works."
As she spoke, Rose stopped floating, shrinking in size to stand just a few inches taller than Aurum, her cloak and body slowly billowing smoke as she walked up and took a seat at the desk, beckoning Aurum to sit in the chair beside her, which she quickly did.
After watching the entire affair, Theodore sat confused and concerned, speechless as to what was happening in front of him. A few seconds of awkward silence passed, broken when Theodore spoke slowly, "so… you're… a magical spirit?"
Rose immediately burst out laughing, doubling over in her mirth as the other two watched in confused silence, "PFFFFF, HA-hahahahaha… oohh crap, U-uhh Yeah dude, s-sorta? Hahahaa, just… the way you said it! Like I'm some kind of mythical beast! Oh my gods! Ahh, that was great, but yeah, I'm magic. I'm a spirit and all that. If you want, I can cast spells and junk to prove it, but honestly it shouldn't be necessary. I'm blue and I was flying a minute ago, not like it's subtle."
Theodore stared as Rose laughed and explained herself, internally questioning his own sanity. Taking the blue skinned woman at face value, Theodore turned to Aurum, "Okay, erm, ignoring the absurd blue woman, you're from the future, miss…" Aurum interjected with her last name, "Lazuli. Aurum Lazuli. Technically a cover name for bureaucratic soul reasons."
"Right… Miss Lazuli, you're from the future, nineteen years?"
Aurum nodded affirmatively, "Mmhm! Technically just about eighteen and a month or two, though I didn't time travel until nineteen due to uh… Reasons."
Theodore just stared.
Aurum sighed, "I'm gonna have to go from the start aren't I… Well, it's like this; a long time ago, and also about 16 years from now, a girl named Ruby Rose stopped a robbery-"
"-And after making a plea to the God of Light, I woke up in a void, spoke to her-" Aurum leaned her head towards Rose, who had been interjecting every so often to add or correct details, "-and she told me to go to you, which I did almost immediately, and now we're here."
Theodore nodded head as she spoke, responding shortly after she finished, "I see. Well, that's quite a tale… hmmm, considering the likelihood that Ozpin would accept your tale, and the consequences it would have if he didn't, I'm glad you came to me rather than to him."
Rose butted in quickly with, "So far only three Aurums have told Ozpin first instead… two were institutionalized for being crazy… the third was killed by Salem's minions shortly after Ozpin told Leonardo of his suspicions that Leo had betrayed him. She was killed in her sleep by Tyrian, right in Beacon Tower. She never even got the Relic of Hope…"
Theodore grimaced, "Yes… Leonardo's betrayal… so even now he has fallen?"
Rose shrugged, "No clue, every timeline is different after all. I've only been around an extra thirty or so years, my relic doesn't even exist in half of the timelines yet. Who knows if Leo has betrayed you guys yet? He probably will though, all things considered."
"What's important now is that we get plans made," Aurum spoke up as well, "start preparing for what we know, and keep Oz out of the loop. As much as he means well, he has a habit of taking matters into his own hands, and honestly, I'd rather I run the ship for now…"
Theodore nodded and took a brief moment to think, "Well, I'm sure we can think of some things. First off, you don't have anywhere to live, do you? No money to speak of?"
Aurum shook her head, "Nah, I did an odd job using my silver eyes in Higanbana shortly after arriving, that bought me enough money to get here. I was sort of banking on Rose's words."
Theodore rubbed his chin, thinking aloud, "Well, if you're as competent a Huntress as you say, I'm sure we can work out an agreement. I'll allow you an apartment in the employee accommodations, and we'll set you up as campus security, get you paid, and I'll backdate a Huntress license for you. If you can prove your worth on the mission boards and perhaps get some high profile jobs on your records, I'll see about hiring you full time as a teacher. As for your son, we have daycares for our employees, so that shouldn't be an issue. Sound good?"
Aurum nodded, a weight falling off her shoulders. With the first and most harrowing part of her new life seemingly behind her, she smiled and shook Theodore's hand, "Sounds good, thank you sir. Truly. Honestly if this didn't go this way, I have no idea what I would have done."
"You would have found a day job, taken the license exam, trained like hell, and drawn his attention through sheer skill and willpower," Rose interjected with a deadpan voice.
"Ugh," Aurum rolled her eyes, "is that necessary? The butting in about other timelines?"
Rose blinked, "That wasn't me talking about other timelines… oooooohhh, wait, I never explained my power to you…"
Aurum and Theodore shared a look before staring at Rose with confused and curious stares, waiting for the woman to continue.
"The Relic of Hope allows the bonded user to hope for something to occur. When they do so, the relic wills that outcome significantly closer to reality, increasing the odds of said event occurring exponentially. Unfortunately though, I can't make the impossible possible, zero times anything is still zero. It's a bit like altering probability. I've really gotten into card games over the last three decades, so I've taken to explaining the odds in game terms."
Rose attentively laid her hands atop each other."Go ahead. Ask for something Aurum. Just start your statement with 'I hope' and then whatever you wish," Rose explained, her voice becoming divine once again as she said the words that would activate her relic.
"Uh… o-okay," Aurum spoke tentatively, "hmmm… Alright… I got it. I hope that when the next Maiden to die does so, she isn't thinking of anyone, and the powers 'randomly' go to me."
Rose blinked, clearly surprised, "Wow girl, going for broke! Alrighty then… Woah! That's a crazy increase! Listen to these odds! *Ahem* What are the odds of winning with four aces in Vacuo Hold 'Em…" Rose then began to fade into smoke once more, leaving behind the Relic-ified Crescent rose resting in the chair.
Aurum and Theodore were both slightly startled as the ambient noises of the city returned, the sounds of the city outside returning being eerily loud compared to the absolute silence of the last few hours.
Aurum thanked Theodore again and traded scroll numbers before she retreated to the apartment he had allowed her to stay in. She took care of Cobalt for a while before receiving a text from Theodore. In it was a document detailing the credentials to an employee bank account, complete with two months of advance pay.
Aurum smiled at her scroll, taking Cobalt down to the daycare while she left into Vacuo proper, intending on rectifying her unfitting appearance and ill-preparedness for taking care of her son.
Aurum had received a hefty sum of two months pay. For a simple security guard, that was a significant amount, totalling just over seventy two hundred lien. Aurum quickly burned through just over two thousand of that getting outfits commissioned at a local vendor that came highly recommended by Rose for he was apparently capable of matching the quality of some of the most expensive tailors in the world.
Aurum got five sets of her primary outfit, though she only got one cloak, using the bolt of enchanted fabric she had been carrying Cobalt in thus far.
The outfit she got was simple, yet unique compared to her previous attire. Gone was her corset, combat skirt, and leggings. Instead she wore brown combat pants with detailed designs woven into them; on her left leg was a design of green branches littered with thorns, dotting the branches were roses, the only homage she left to her old name and outfit.
She had contemplated getting a skirt, but the prospect of living in Vacuo, with all of the sand about, had convinced her otherwise, not to mention she still felt slightly pudgy since having Cobalt and felt self conscious of her thighs.
On her right leg was a fractal snowflake pattern in an ice colored baby blue, her legs representing her old partnership with her late best friend.
Instead of a corset, she wore a simple short sleeve blouse, short-sleeved to better show off the designs on her arms, on which she wore a form fitting long sleeve silk undershirt that clung to her skin, both wicking away sweat and holding the patterns that represented her other two fallen teammates.
On her right was a design of a leafy vine that wrapped around and traveled up and down her arms. Said vine was dotted with belladonnas, representing the faunus member of her old team. On her left, the leafy vine was instead dotted with sunflowers, representing her dear sister, the fourth member of team RWBY.
For her signature cloak, Aurum decided to match her mother in a sense, making the outside a gold eerily similar to the relic gold that made her weapon, and the undercolor a godly turquoise blue, once again similar to her weapon, actually showing the vendor her weapon to get the colors done right.
Finally, she completed the outfit with a few pairs of long topped brown combat boots, and a hair dye job, replacing her natural black to red fade with a black to blue. She spent another few hundred lien on supplies for Cobalt, food to stock her new apartment, and other various amenities like bedding and toiletries.
After a long day out, she returned to Shade and collected Cobalt from the daycare, thanking the staff for watching him. She then put him to sleep in her newly acquired crib, and promptly made her own bed, afterwards passing out, exhausted from her ordeal of a day.