A/N: Here's a little fun fact: this entire chapter was originally in the prologue, before I decided that a prologue should be an introductory bit to the story and not the entire first 2 episodes worth of content. So without further adieu, let's light this bonfire and get this show on the road.

Disclaimer: I don't own Dark Souls or RWBY. Dark Souls belongs to From Software and RWBY belongs to RoosterTeeth. I only own my OCs.


The journey had been going on for a while now. In hindsight, perhaps Ruby should've followed Vyliria's lead and trekked to the east coast of Sanus before grabbing a boat-ride to Menagerie, because she hadn't realized just how much more time sailing around a continent added. The wind blew through her hair as she walked along the deck towards the front of the ship, belatedly reminding her that it had grown just a bit longer since their journey started. And that wasn't the only thing about her appearance that had changed. Her entire outfit, and that of her friends' had taken a major overhaul (save Patches, but the ancient undead had been wearing the same outfit for longer than Remnant's moon had been shattered, even if the physical clothes themselves had changed every few years). To start off, she had a white, high-neck décolletage (she was still embarrassed about having to ask Weiss what that word meant) blouse with brown studded wristbands on the arms, and while the black combat skirt with a red tulle beneath had remained roughly the same as her last outfit, her waist cincher had been replaced with an overbust corset with a red strip of leather holding it in place. A black belt, bordered with red at the edges, was wrapped about her waist, the back of which held a magnetic strip for the compact form of her beloved baby, Crescent Rose, and the sides of which held ammunition for said mechashift high-impact sniper rifle/scythe. Some brown straps on her blouse allowed her to clip a small brown backpack behind her, which held some emergency supplies, even more magazines for her weapon, and the neatly folded sheepskin parchment with a crescent moon etched on it that Vyliria had given her the last time she'd seen the unkindled. Below the waist, her black stockings were no longer full, instead they merely reached to her thighs, leaving a few inches of skin visible between their tops and the hem of her skirt. They were decorated by the image of a long-stemmed rose. Her black combat boots bore red soles and each possessed a quartet of straps and buckles. Lastly, the red cloak she wore, modeled after the white one she recalled from the few memories of her mother she had, now only bore a single clip, a silver rose (with black detailing) emblem on the right shoulder, matching her eyes.

As she came up to the very front of the ship, she noted that her teammate, Blake, was already standing there, gazing out at the ocean ahead. She didn't turn around, but judging by the way her second pair of black furred cat ears atop her head twitched, it was clear the faunus had heard her approach, even if her human ears hadn't. Ruby idly wondered how having two pairs of ears worked, especially when one (that much like a feline, would move to match how she felt at a given moment) was superior to the other. Blake's outfit had also undergone an overhaul. To start with, she had a long, white tailcoat, the inner lining of which was a dark purple, over which was a belt of the same color with a brass buckle and buttons, and under which was a black, sleeveless crop-top, with purple-outlined diamond and rectangular shaped cutouts above the neckline. A white belt helped hold up her form-fitting black pants. On the back of the belt on her lower torso was a white pouch, and on the back of the belt on her upper torso was a magnetic strip for Gambol Shroud, Blakes variant ballistic chain-scythe. Or as Ruby recognized it, a pistol, katana, kusarigama (with the aid of a titanium-weave ribbon), and cleaver-sheath all rolled into one (technically 2) weapon. Her thigh-high heeled boots were black, with gold-colored edging around the top, with the left bearing a belt wrapped twice around the thigh. Both pieces of the footwear proudly showed the Belladonna emblem in white on the outer side of the thigh. The part of her midriff that was exposed has a thin, horizontal scar on the left side, starting a few inches from her navel and disappearing under the tailcoat. While healing miracles had removed the most of the hideous markings left behind when Blake had used her own pyromancy flame to cauterize the wound she'd received courtesy of her ex's semblance, Moonslice, the scar from the wound itself stubbornly refused to yield to literally divine magic, and the skin around it was still discolored when compared to the rest of her midriff. Blake didn't particularly mind though, and as Ruby's half-sister Yang put it, "scars added character."

Finally walking up to her sister's partner, Ruby kicked off a conversation. "Sooooo, Blake?"

The ravenette turned her head to her team leader, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah Ruby?"

"I've been meaning to ask; how does having four ears work? Do you hear differently in each pair, or can you only hear from one set of ears at a time, oooooorrr?" she trailed off.

Blake smiled and snickered, slyly asking, "Really?"

"Come on, I'm curious!"

Blake rolled her eyes, but indulged her, saying, "Well, the human ears don't actually work. They're vestigial. There's no eardrums inside them, and the auditory nerves connect to the ears on top of my head instead. It was harder than you think to find a ribbon thick enough to hide them while being thin enough not to impair my hearing."

"Huh. That's actually really interesting," Ruby commented. "So what'cha doing over here?"

"Thinking, for the most part. About seeing my parents again, after all this time. And about… Beacon. And I just wanna thank you again for showing up when Adam-"

"Say no more, Blake," the red reaper interrupted. "I'm your team leader, it's my job to watch out for you. And you saved me from his semblance too, so we're even. Really Blake, it was no problem. I even managed to figure out that there's more to my semblance than I originally thought!" She paused for a few seconds, internally pondering whether or not to say something that had been nagging at her subconscious, before deciding that it was time to get some good-old-fashioned sibling packback for all the times her sister had embarrassed her. "And besides, I'm pretty sure Yang has a crush on you, so even without everything else, I would've helped you for her sake. I mean, ever since Vyliria pointed it out, I have noticed her staring at you… and your butt... a bunch of times."

Blake flushed, and Ruby internally pumped a fist at her impending victory, before listening to her friend's response. "I… really? I'd thought that it was just Yang being flirty, because she was that way to a lot of people at Beacon. But… a lot of things make more sense now… I… oh boy."

"Take your time if you need to sort out how you feel about it. And… if you don't feel the same way, please let her down gently. I think this is the first time she's actually liked someone further than a school crush."

"I'll take my time thinking on it. Thanks for telling me, Ruby."

"No problem," and Ruby dropped her voice to a whisper, "And just between you and me? If you decide to go for it, I'd totally ship you two."

Blake's jaw dropped, but before Ruby could take any mirth in whatever response the faunus was about to make, a series of thunks on the deck altered them that a third individual was joining them. Neopolitan was… well, Ruby still wasn't sure exactly how she felt about the two-toned girl that was the shortest in their company. Apparently, she'd kept her mouth shut when she found out that they were warning the headmaster about Emerald (though they didn't know it was her at the time), and she'd only been running with Cinder because she was threatening her father figure, the infamous thief Roman Torchwick, with death if he refused to do her bidding. On the other hand, she'd nearly stabbed Yang and killed her, despite having clearly won by knocking her out, and she was responsible for a lot of bad things. All the same, Vyliria had gone off with Neo to save Roman from a nutcase by the name of Tyrian Callows (who was almost certainly serving Salem), and the unkindled trusted both the other heterochromatic and Patches (albeit, she insured to not have any loose belongings when near the latter), and they at least looked like they wanted to be better people, so Ruby was willing to give them that chance.

As for the mute herself, she'd undergone a wardrobe change just before they'd left on this voyage. Her hair still went down to her hips, but the white streaks on the pink half had evidently been dyed, because they were no longer present. Black gloves that ended just before her wrists covered (most of) both hands, and from just below her knees down were clad in white, heeled shoes with black fronts, toes, and heels, and pink soles and laces running from just before the toes back to the tops of the footwear. Rising from there to her hips was a pair of form-fitting white jeans, held in place by a diagonal black belt, over which was a horizontal white belt with a silver buckle. Tucked into the pants was a red, button down shirt with the collar buttons deliberately removed, and over that was a black twin-tailed coat, with silver linings and buttons, and pink on the insides, the sleeves folded back from her wrists to just below her elbows. The collar was also folded outwards, and on the right side at hip-level was a knapsack-style pocket, mostly black, but the part that buttoned it shut on the top was pink.

Neo gave a silent wave, and pulled out her scroll, opening the notepad app. Despite Ruby trying to learn sign-language for the mute's sake, she still had a ways to go (though with over another week on the journey, she was confident she could learn fast, especially since she had nothing better to do), so for now this was the only method of communication they had with the heterochromatic besides playing charades. Hey. Do either of you feel like anything's off? she typed. Because Patches swears he saw a cloaked figure stalking him earlier, but couldn't find anything when he investigated.

Ruby and Blake looked at each other, before they both answered a negative to that question, Ruby herself further articulating her response with, "The only weird thing I've seen on this trip is the crow that's decided to take up residence onboard."

"Yeah, that is kinda weird," Blake remarked. "Crows don't do that."

Neo just shrugged, before typing, So has Blake figured out that Yang wants in her pants yet?

Ruby burst out laughing even as Blake spluttered in response.


Being the world's best stowaway (even when you actually paid for your trip for once) could actually be really boring, Sun concluded. Sure, some of the people he was following in his epic sneaking cloak were on to him, and he effortlessly evaded them, but when you were this good, things just lost the thrill they used to have when the possibility of being caught was a concern. He idly thumbed the medallion with his monkey emblem before readjusting his cloak to hide his unbuttoned shirt (because how else would Remnant be able to gaze upon his abs?), his jeans, and sneakers from the world. He heard the footsteps of people approaching down the hallway he was in and ducked behind some crates. Good thing this storage room belowdecks had so many crates that were person-high. Sun wasn't really sure why there were so many crates on a ship that was only bringing like fifty people, tops, to Menagerie, but he wasn't gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. With his excellent vantage point, he clandestinely observed the people passing through, even as their voices finally became audible.

He pegged the first voice he heard as belonging to Weiss Schnee soon enough. "I mean, I understand why we can't practice magic on board the ship, especially pyromancy, but it's still just frustrating," the ex-heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, Remnant's largest energy provider, lamented.

"Yeah, it sucks, but even I can see why casting fireballs on a ship with a lot of wood in it is a bad idea," replied Yang Xiao Long.

They finally came around the corner, and Sun gave a quick glance to check which direction they were headed. Yang's mane of blonde hair was as chaotic as ever, framing her lilac eyes as she spoke to her teammate. She was wearing a tan jacket with a thick collar around her neck, whose torso didn't reach her hips, and whose dark brown sleeves were rolled up above the elbows. The jacket was gold-edged and orange-lined, and was partly unzipped, revealing the orange crop-top that covered her chest beneath. Additionally, the coat also bore two gold-trimmed rectangular tails that looked to be detachable. On her legs was a pair of ordinary black pants, over which was a brown belt, attached to which were two pieces of dark brown material trimmed in gold. The first covered all the way from her left hip to the back of the belt and was folded over the belt, whilst the second was attached from the right hip and almost around to the other piece of material. Her knee high boots had gold caps on the heels and toes, with the heel caps attaching to gold straps across the front of her ankles, and both boots had gold zippers on the upper halves of their fronts. The last elements of the footwear were a pair of small buckled straps on their upper surfaces. A purple bandanna was tied around her left knee, and finishing off her clothing was a pair of black fingerless gloves with long brown cuffs that ended at the middle of her forearms.

"You know, I'm still kind of amazed that Vyliria said you could go teach someone else pyromancy now," Weiss continued the conversation, her gray-blue combat boots thunking on the deck. They were styled like wedge heels, though Sun knew they were still boots after the near fiasco Weiss had in the aborted (due to terrorism and Grimm-invasion) Vytal Festival Tournament, where her previous footwear had snapped and nearly threw her off-balance in the middle of her doubles round. Her dress glittered, and faded from gray-blue at the top to a pale blue at the hem, and had a sweetheart neckline along with a white, tulle petticoat. Wrapped about her waist (multiple times) was a white sash, which was tied at the front, and over everything was a slightly sheer long sleeved gray-blue bolero. It was fastened at the collar by a sapphire brooch (the rumor mill before he'd left Beacon had her elder sister Winter slip in and drain several of Weiss' accounts to give to her before her father could freeze them) that had three pendants hanging from it, and conspicuously absent on the back of her shrug was her family's snowflake crest… which kinda made sense, since she was no longer the heiress to the SDC, all but disowned, trying to distance herself from her father, and since it would be a really bad idea to wear something with the Schnee snowflake while visiting Menagerie. Rounding everything off was jewelry in the form of a pair of sapphire drop earrings.

Yang clasped her hands behind her head as they unwittingly passed by Sun, and boasted, "Hey, I can't help that my blazin is amazin!"

"Was that supposed to be a pun? Because that felt like a stretch, even for you," the blanchette shot back as they left the room on their way to their destination.

Sun slipped out of his hiding spot once he was sure they were gone, and took a quick stretch, before scratching an itch on his golden-furred monkey tail. The faunus gazed in the direction they left, and muttered, somewhat regretfully, "Man, I wish I could do magic. I mean, they're complaining about not being allowed to break the laws of physics for a while, when the rest of Remnant can't do it to begin with!" He blinked. "I should stop talking to myself." A beat, then, "Starting now."


Qrow Branwen was well aware of the irony of his name, considering that Ozpin had gifted him magic that could let him turn into a crow. He was also aware of the irony of being a crow perching on the highest point of the ship. Thirdly, he was aware that he should have probably been in Mistral looking for Ozpin's next incarnation or something like that, but he'd passed off the late (or technically not if he already had a new body) wizard's cane to Avalon, and she could sense souls apparently, so he was sure she had it in hand. Though maybe he should have told her what she should be looking for. Meh, too late now. And who knows, Oz had just said it was likely the next person whose soul his own would merge with would be in Mistral. It wasn't guaranteed. For all he knew, maybe one of the faunus in Menagerie now had Ozpin sharing room in his head.

But his nieces weren't gonna protect themselves, and he was well aware that there might be White Fang members on the island of the faunus who'd want an opportunity to kill a Schnee, and anyone associated with her. Which would include his nieces. Family came before business, and he'd be damned if he was a continent away when they needed protecting, semblance or no. And speaking of Misfortune, having to be a crow for the entire voyage sucked, and so would having to be sober for that same timeframe. And it was gonna be an absolute pain in the ass to have to sneak around Menagerie for the foreseeable future once they did get there. If only there was a better way he could have-

Wait a minute, he thought. I could have avoided all of this if I had decided to chaperone their team. I even knew they were leaving before that Patches guy did! Damnit!

The crow on the ship blinked, and reflected on the terrible luck that ensured that the idea didn't occur to him. He mentally cursed again.

Bah, I'll just go vent by crapping on that prick who decided to throw peanuts at me earlier. I am a bird, after all…


The pool of black liquid rippled, and the sound of liquid burbling echoed across the Land of Darkness as a beowolf emerged, sloughing the substance that the beast spawned from off of it as the lupine Grimm took its first steps on Remnant. It was an inhospitable environment, devoid of any life besides the microscopic and the Grimm themselves (if Grimm could even be considered as living things), with dry, red rock making up the parts of the ground that were level, even as jagged cliffs and hills dotted the landscape frequently. Menacing purple crystals jutted from the ground, ranging from the size of a hand to larger than buildings. It was here, the one continent devoid of human or faunus life that the home of Salem, Queen of the Grimm, stood; Evernight Castle rising menacingly above the surrounding hellscape.

Emerald Sustrai, despite having spent a good deal of time training both conventionally with Mercury and arcanely in mastering the powers of the Fall Maiden under Salem's tutelage, was still unnerved as she watched the creatures claw their way into the world from the windows of the room they were in. She was vaguely aware of the mercury-haired son of an assassin standing next to her, a scowl on his own face as he watched the spectacle as well. Neither of them had sought a wardrobe change since their time in Vale, and even if they wanted one, Evernight didn't exactly have a department store selling new outfits. She and Mercury both were shocked from their observation as someone hummed next to them. Emerald's head twisted to the right, as she met the abdomen of the figure responsible for the vocalization. She looked further up, eventually meeting the eyes of their newest "ally."

Sulyvahn stood serenely in his robes that bore a religious connotation Emerald couldn't identify. Yet, he still managed to give off a presence that induced a primal terror in the recesses of her mind, having silently walked up to the window and not drawing notice until he had hummed. When he gazed down at Emerald, he merely raised an eyebrow, before speaking in that melodic voice that the Fall Maiden almost felt compelled to trust. "Indeed girl, watching these Grimm spawn is mildly interesting to bear witness to. Though, decidedly… different to how I bring forth pawns and allies." He resumed staring at the pools below. At least until a clearing throat drew his attention.

Mercury grunted, and Sulyvahn glanced over to him next. "Yes?" he asked, in a bored voice.

"I don't like being ignored," he stated.

"Well, if you were worth my attention, then maybe I would bother acknowledging you, boy," the man responded in an apathetic manner.

Mercury's annoyance descended to an outright glare. "More often than not the person you don't look at is the one who puts a knife in your throat. And the last person to call me boy is dead." Emerald's eyes widened, and she took a few steps back as the room seemed to get colder.

"Was that a threat?" Sulyvahn asked, the first hints of annoyance creeping into his tone.

Mercury narrowed his eyes, and despite the terrifying presence the enigmatic man exuded, maintained eye-contact. "No, just a statement of a fact."

Sulyvhan narrowed his gaze, and the room was as silent as a grave for a few agonizing seconds. Mercury refused to back down. The taller man finally hummed once more. "I can respect a person with a spine, however foolish they may be. When the council Salem has called has ended, seek the part of Evernight that I and my followers have taken residence in. If any challenge your entry or presence, tell them I have sent you. There is a man there, called Dunnell. You will tell him I have instructed him to impart his knowledge of pyromancy unto you. I do not tolerate allies without utility, and without arcane abilities of your own you are outclassed by the greatest of our foes."

Mercury still maintained eye contact for a few more moments, before giving a single nod, and turned, moving to the spot at the table next to Emerald's chair. Though before he got there, Sulyvahn spoke once again. "Mercury." It wasn't a request for attention; it was a demand. Mercury turned back to him. "Do not draw my ire again," he stated evenly. "I do not abide insubordination." With that, he turned his gaze back out the window, and Emerald quietly walked to her seat at the table.

The chair next to hers was reserved for Sulyvhan (Mercury still had to stand, despite the fact that Emerald roughly considered him her equal, if very annoying at times), though the one past that was currently occupied, as well as two of the three chairs on the opposing side of the furniture piece. Tyrian Callows was dressed as he had been the last time Emerald had seen him in Vale, although his biological scorpion stinger, the end of which had been severed in an altercation involving Avalon, had been replaced with a mechanical prosthetic designed (and fitted with poison created by) Doctor Arthur Watts, who sat opposite of Emerald herself. The deranged serial killer was bouncing in his seat like a child, gleefully awaiting the arrival of his "goddess," Salem.

Speaking of the disgraced Atlesian scientist, Watts was currently pouring over some coding details on a scroll, his face backlit by the screen of the device. His gray-streaked hair was black, as were his eyebrows and mustache, and his eyes were a dull green. His skin was slightly tanned, and he was tall and thin, clothed in gray pants, with an overcoat of the same color, albeit with yellow lining, and a yellow dress shirt with a black necktie beneath. His fingerless gloves, shoes, and yellow-buttoned undercoat were all cordovan, and one could see yellow socks beneath the shoes.

Next to him sat Hazel Rainart, who (when standing) towered over all beside him (save their newest ally) at a staggering eight feet. His massive, muscular, broad figure only further bolstered his large stature, and his complexion was dark, similar to, but not the same as, that of Watts. His arms had hair and scars along them in equal measure, though the latter were confined to the skin above his elbows, his eyes were the same color as his first name, and his beard and short hair were brown. A large brown belt was wrapped around his waist, holding the lower half of a two-toned olive/green coat, which in turn sat over a 3/4 shirt that was a uniform black. His legs were clothed by a pair of black pants, with a pouch strapped to both legs, and his boots were brown, with a splash of white on their fronts.

Watts let out a long, exaggerated sigh, a cruel smirk on his face as he looked at Emerald before speaking. "Ah, do you hear that? The sound of silence. Why, I have half a mind to thank the woman who bested Cinder." Emerald saw red, and felt her Maiden powers boiling forth, but before she could offer any response (which would have likely involved an extreme amount of fire), Sulyvahn beat her to it.

"You will do no such thing," he said, having returned to his normal tone of voice. "The only thing you will do to Avalon is bring me her head on a platter... Though I may feel more rewarding were you to bring her to me alive," he finished, the briefest of terrifying smirks gracing his face. Watts leaned back from the ancient being, and kept his mouth shut, which placated Emerald enough to keep her peace.

"You, know, if I were you, I'd hunt her down," Tyrian suddenly cut in. "Find her," he gave a pair of laughs, "and… well," another snort of amusement, "she burnt Cinder from the inside-out, didn't she? Can't you cast fire as well?" The psychopathic scorpion faunus began laughing to himself so hard he was shaking, and Emerald looked down at one of her hands, briefly flaring the fires the Maiden powers had given her, before narrowing her gaze.

"Cease your squabbles," Sulyvahn suddenly spoke, walking as silent as a grave to his seat, reaching it not half a second before the wooden doors to the room creaked open and Salem, still clad as the first time Emerald had seen the Queen of the Grimm, silently swept into the room, the only sound interrupting the silence being the slight tingling of the ornaments on her hair. She strolled past the table as they all stood at attention, though Sulyvhan still maintained his air of indifference. She reached the windows past her own seat at the head of the furniture centerpiece, gazing out for a few seconds before turning around. "Watts," she began, her voice as dry as her terrifying male counterpart, "do you find such malignance necessary?" She paused for a trio of seconds, before waving a hand, and all gathered (save Mercury) were seated.

"My apologies ma'am. I am not particularly fond of failure," the Atlesian replied.

Salem sat herself before responding with, "Then I see no reason for your cruelty towards young Emerald. It is true that the loss of Cinder harms our goals, but she passed onto Emerald the powers of the Fall Maiden, grievously damaged Beacon Tower, and most importantly, killed dear Ozpin." She leaned forwards slightly, "So I'm curious: to what failures are you referring?"

Watts took a moment to form an answer, half raising a hand to gesture as he spoke. "Well, the unkindled." Emerald grit her teeth, both at Watts, and the reminder of Avalon. She noted the scowl that graced Sulyvahn's features for a scant second.

"Yes," Hazel finally spoke, "but she was a relic of the past at best, and a mere nuisance of needing more than one death forced upon her at worst. How was she able to best one of us?"

"My thoughts exactly," Watts echoed. "Even without her full power, it should have been effortless."

"It is because of what she is," Sulyvahn interjected, surprising the room when Salem didn't react to him speaking out of turn. "The powers of my age that she can draw from, her unwavering resolve that let her push past thousands of deaths in the past, and even now could let her endure thousands more."

"Yes," Salem returned to heading the conversation, "even the best-laid plans can be undone by a single unanticipated variable. But make no mistake, Emerald. You hold the key to our victory, which is why you will remain by my side as we continue your training." Emerald wanted so desperately to argue, but held her tongue. "Watts, you are to take her place, and meet our informant in Mistral."

"Very good," he replied with a solitary nod.

"Tyrian," the deranged man turned his head to his goddess, "I want you to continue your hunt for the Spring Maiden."

Tyrian chuckled darkly. "Gladly."

"And Hazel? I would have sent you to meet Sienna Khan, but Adam Taurus' death has eliminated the White Fang as a tool for our use for the time being. Instead, you will look into the potential use of Mistral's criminal underground to further our goals."

"As you wish," he rumbled out.

Emerald steeled herself, shoved a lid on her emotions, and sucked in a breath. "Your Grace?" Salem raised an eyebrow, but still motioned with one hand that she could speak. "What about Avalon? She's clearly opposed to us, and now that she's had contact with Pacthes," another man she dearly wanted to murder for good, "she knows about us as well."

Salem hummed, genuinely appearing to consider Emerald's argument. "Tyrian?"

Callows grinned, twisting his head to the side. "Yes, my Lady?"

"Spring can wait. Find the girl who killed Cinder, and kill her however many times it takes for her to stay that way." Tyrian rubbed his hands together, giggling madly.

"If I may?" Sulyvahn actually asked for permission to speak this time, and Salem gave it with a nod. He procured two ornate rings crafted from an unidentifiable metal, with onyx gems set in them such that they resembled eyes. "Take these," he said, "The rings will increase your strength and durability, and I have taken the liberty of removing the curses I normally place upon such trinkets, as your loyalty is without question." Tyrian was literally bouncing in his seat, before Sulyvahn added, "All I ask, is that you acquire someone else. Alive." Tyrian deflated, mulling things over in his head, before adopting a less enthusiastic, but still clearly insane, grin. "It has come to my attention that Avalon is traveling with a synthetic construct that bears a soul of equal potency to normal humans… and faunus," he added as an afterthought. "I would be quite interested in learning what I could of her. And I'm sure the good Doctor Watts would also enjoy the opportunity when his own business concludes." The man in question gave a silent nod with a predatory grin at the statement. "Though while I would much prefer that you do so, if it interferes with your primary task, you need not complete this… additional goal."

"Because of your efforts," Salem addressed the room, "Beacon has all but fallen, and Haven will be next."

Those gathered rose from their seats, but before Emerald could do the same, Tyrian addressed her. Even as Sulyvahn strode from the room, Mercury first to follow to the destination the man had given him, Callows spoke. "Remember, burn her right back." He started madly cackling to himself, throwing himself back against his chair as his manic mirth only grew deeper, the sound still following her as Emerald sharply rose from her seat and made a swift exit from the room.

(A Like-Minded Soul)

Oscar Pine jolted up in his bed with a scream, frantically drawing breaths in. The details of the nightmare that had been repeating the past few days were fading yet again, and once more, all he could recall were an underground vault, a good deal of green light, and a ridiculous amount of fire. Something felt… different, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. With a sigh, he pushed the nightmare to the back of his mind, quickly getting dressed, before heading to the sink in the barn he slept in and taking a look at himself in the mirror. Still the same short farmboy with tanned skin, still the same freckles, and still the same annoying, faint, perpetual blush on his cheeks. Same messy short black hair, and just like the last time he checked, his eyes were still hazel, and the irises were still forest green with accents of burnt orange and yellow around his pupils. His dirty, scuffed white shirt had a pocket on the left side of the chest and the left tricep, laces across the middle, and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Orange suspenders held up his old pair of olive pants, patched with darker cloth over both knees, that tucked into his worn brown boots. A quilted cloth hung from his left pocket, and his hands were covered by orange gloves, with green straps crossing in an X-shape on the backs of his hands, and around his wrists. And still the same bandage wrapped about his neck, not to mask a wound, but merely to protect from sunburn during long days in the fields.

He blinked a few times at his reflection, but nothing had changed, he shrugged the strange feeling off, and moved to get on with his day. After all, the farm chores ain't gonna do themselves, he thought. Though at least he could deal with the drudgery by daydreaming about going on some fantastical adventure.


The majority of the island of Menagerie was an inhospitable wasteland, either because it was a thick jungle full of dangerous animals of the ordinary variety, a thick jungle filled with Grimm, or an empty, inhospitable desert… which was also filled with Grimm. However, the immediate environs of Kuo Kuanna, the city the faunus of Remnant had built on the landmass, was relatively free of Grimm thanks to natural barriers, and action on the part of faunus huntsmen and huntresses living there. The jungles were also notably less choked with vegetation, and had very few venomous animals of a nature dangerous to the island's inhabitants, who were still reeling from the news of the attack on Vale, and the role the White Fang had played in it.

It was in this jungle roughly a dozen miles from the city, in which sat a clearing. The land of the clearing itself was perfectly capable of housing more vegetation, but none larger than grass grew in a radius around the center of it. The object preventing larger forms of vegetation in question was a strange one, that didn't belong in the current era, yet much like other entities and objects from the past, had the curious trait of a tenacious stubbornness that allowed so many artifacts of that time to endure to the present in the forgotten corners of the world. Even now, a gentle flame burned at the base of a coiled sword, thrust into a pile of ash, with a few human bones sticking out. Whatever structure that may have housed the bonfire had long since lost the battle against time, yet despite the Flame it was connected to going out an epoch ago, it still burned.

And then those flames suddenly grew, burning brighter, and exponentially increasing in size. A hand clawed its way out of the fire, and a body was ejected, clutching a katana that it had dropped when it had first been severed from the mortal coil. A male voice, dry and rasping, cried out in agony, as the figure convulsed for a few moments, before lying on the ground as he gathered his bearings, and reconciled his continued existence with the memory of electricity and a sharp pain in his heart, before a loss of consciousness. The man put his arms underneath himself, pushing up and bringing his knees under him, before staggering to his feet. When he felt the wind on a part of his face that shouldn't be feeling it, he removed the crimson katana from its sheath, and gazed at his reflection in the blade. What he saw was enough to completely overshadow the fact that he could once again see out of his scarred eye.

Adam Taurus stared at his desiccated, blackened flesh, and the two red dots inside empty eye sockets that were barely visible in the reflection on the blade, and he screamed. And because he took the time to scream, to attempt to realize what had befell him, it would be a few minutes before he would notice the black sprite with two white eyes serenely floating above a small slip of paper near the coiled sword a few steps away. Though if one looked at the note, one could see the cursive writing that had a distinct feel of aristocracy to it, that simply read:

Crush the humanity in your hands. Kneel before the coiled sword, and offer the Dark to the Fire.

~ L


So Ruby's carrying around the Way of the Blue parchment. Can't forget that Vyliria passed that off to her.

I'm totally making up the ribbon on Gambol Shroud having a titanium weave, but it does make sense for the durability that fabric has no right having. I also am absolutely sure the explanation I came up with for how Blake having 4 ears works in terms of hearing isn't canon, but in the grand scheme of things, it changes nothing. Not sure how well I hinted at it being a thing in FATD (I mean, I did confirm it in review responses, but I'm not counting those as part of the actual story), but I am aiming for Bumblebee to sail, and I'm trying to actually have it make sense rather than appear as fan-pandering (I still ship it regardless). Keep in mind that there's a lot that happens off screen in-universe. I mean, a whole school-year went by at Beacon. There were a lot of little moments that happened that just didn't actually get shown because I didn't want to burn myself out with 50 slice-of-life chapters (and I'm assuming that this is also the case in canon, except they didn't have the budget for the same). I'm still gonna take my time with it, but I figured that the ball needed a bit of a push to actually get rolling. And there's nothing like siblings to muck up romantic pursuits!

Neo was not gonna be redesigned originally, but several months after starting OEAA, I saw an absolutely amazing V4/5 redesign idea on reddit done by ModdedJoker, so I decided to use it and give him credit. And again, for legal reasons so that there's not even a shadow of a doubt, all credit for this Neo redesign goes to ModdedJoker… except I omitted the black tie they had Neo wear. IDK why, but I just feel that even if it goes great with the outfit, Neo just wouldn't be the kind of girl to wear a tie unless she literally had no other choice.

Sun is still in this party. Even if the rest of the members don't know about the additional adventurer. And yes, Weiss isn't picking up the heels again. It's a small detail, but after going out of my way to swap her to more mundane footwear in the prequel (and it feels strange and cool to type prequel and know that this is the second part of a series), but not a detail I'm going to regress on. Pragmatism beats Fashion Souls in this case. Also, she doesn't have her family crest on her outfit, as a form of protest against her father. Again, another small touch, but one that's worth mentioning as a change caused by the altered timeline. And yeah Sun, I'm sure you would love to learn magic… (types words with arcane intent)

Yeah, Sun isn't' really doing much besides hanging about for the moment, but he will have a part to play. A regret with the last book was not including my brother's 2nd favorite character (at the time of typing this part of the A/N in March 2021, my brother has yet to witness his favorite, Roman Torchwick, being swallowed by a gryphon) more often, and I also regret not being confident enough to write his final versus Penny. I fully intend to give him more spotlight moving forwards.

So Qrow's tailing Ruby and co. His semblance certainly isn't letting him have a comfortable journey, but since no one knows that he's a bird, he can crap on people who annoy him with minimal repercussions.

Can't forget about the bad guys and Pontiff Sulyvahn. Nefarious plans aren't gonna concoct themselves. How else will they destroy the heroes in time for Nondescript Winter Holiday? Also, Sulyvahn may be evil, but he isn't racist. Even Evil has Standards. He includes the faunus equally in everything he does. Including genocide.

Things have changed. Not everything, but a good deal of stuff has been altered by the prequel, and the butterfly effect is just getting started.

Yeah, I wasn't forgetting about Oscar. Honestly, I'm kinda looking forward to getting to write him more. He strikes me as a bit of an underexplored character in RWBY fanfics that don't specifically focus on him.

Oh yeah. In the words of Nora, "This. Is. Happening!" Adam's back. With a darksign. I'm not anywhere near done with him. This is step two of my plan on how to shuffle up the antagonists after murdering him and Cinder. And in case anyone was confused, chronologically speaking, Adam's section took place before the sequel, but after chapter 50 of the last book. I'm not too sure on how long I want the time-skip from my volume 3 to volume 4 to be, so in the true Dark Souls fashion, I'll leave when exactly he comes back, along with the length of the time-skip, to be up to the reader to decide. But hey, at least he can see out both eyes again, so he's got that going for him. Yeah, Adam was dangerous before, but now he has depth-perception!

Also, did NO ONE pick up when I mentioned that they never retrieved his body in Ch 48.5 of FATD? Come on, "they aren't dead unless we see a body" is like the number one anime logic rule! And this is DARK SOULS to boot, so that should have been an even more glaring hint!

And geez, I wonder what person who would know about humanity and have some kind of cause that even remotely aligns to Adam's own goals (which as of that exact moment are currently somewhere along the lines of "Kill all of Blake's friends, and once I remember that Vyliria murdered me, make sure to kill her first, and then make Blake suffer," or something like that) has a name that starts with an L. And I'm sure that he's no longer in the general area, either, and even if he was, I'm sure that he'd be alone. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. Shit is going down in Kuo Kuanna. A lot of shit is going down there. The Fennec brothers and Ilia are the least of the problems that will be cropping up for Ruby and friends.