Ch 7 - Time Ticks on.

A/N: Gonna be bouncing all over the place for this chapter, but I'm hoping that in the next one I can get back to Roman. I'm also gonna experiment with a couple of short POV's mixed in with the 2-4 medium-long ones.

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.


It had been another long week on the farm. That same nightmare cropping up every night certainly hadn't helped. And that feeling of… differentness had only been getting stronger. Oscar placed the pitchfork he'd been using on a wall in the barn, turning on the sink in the corner and splashing his face a few times, hoping that it would get him feeling normal again. He looked at himself in the mirror above the sink once more, and he suddenly felt another presence in the barn with him. He frantically looked around his reflection, trying to find someone in the background, but despite his best efforts, he couldn't.

Oscar swallowed. "Hello?" he asked, hoping that he was just being crazy and that he was the only one here. The feeling didn't abate, but there was no response. He sighed, letting the tension leave his body. Just nerves, he thought.

"Hello, I'm Professor Ozpin," a genial sounding voice spoke with the sound of a gunshot in the relative silence of the barn.

Oscar screamed and fell over.


The wind blew quietly on the cliffside. Blue eyes stared at the small stone marker for the grave of a woman whose body was never found. Summer Rose - Thus Kindly I Scatter. Tiayang Xiao Long took in a breath, resisting the urge to adjust the faded blonde hair atop his head. His facial hair consisted of a soul patch and small stubble along his jawline. Stenciled on his right arm was a tattoo of his emblem, which resembled a heart. On his legs were brown cargo shorts with a dark brown belt. He wore black shoes and a red bandana on his left arm. Above the waist was a brown leather vest over a tan dress shirt with the right sleeve cut off, rounded out by a metal spaulder with leather vambrace and a brown fingerless glove on his right arm.

"Hey Sum," he said to the grave. "It's been a while." He collected himself, wondering how to broach the topic, and if there was anything more he could have done for his daughters. "Yang and Ruby are following in your footsteps, though Ruby already told you about that a while back. But… there was an attack on Beacon. Salem was behind it. I… I didn't want them to get involved with Ozpin's war, but he's dead, they found out about her, and now both of them and their team are off on a trip to Menagerie. One of their friends… I don't even know where to start with Vyliria. She's this… animate corpse, who's so old she makes Salem look like a toddler, with all kinds of magic that aren't tied to Ozpin or the Maidens. She taught them a bunch of it. I'm thankful for that, because I hope it'll let them protect themselves where I can't, and it already saved their lives, but at the same time she was the one who told them about Salem."

The grave didn't respond. He knew it wouldn't, but it still hurt his heart regardless. "I think Yang found a girl she likes. I met her along with the fourth member of their team a while back. She's a faunus girl, and she seems nice enough. She at least tolerates Yang's jokes," he remarked wrly. "Her name is Blake Belladonna. What are the odds of that, Sum? Both our daughters, a Belladonna, and a Schnee, on the same team. Almost sounds like the start of a bad joke. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were purposely trying to one-up how dysfunctional STRQ started out as." The wind picked up for a few seconds, before dying back down. "I wish I could be there for them. I wish that I was like you, and that I could handle the pain and get back out there, and do more than just teach kids at Signal and take missions on Patch."

He took the final few steps to the grave, laying the white rose he'd brought with him on the stone, placing a small rock on the stem to keep it from being taken by the wind. "Please look after them, Summer. They need you more than I do."

Another gust of wind passed, breaking one of the petals on the rose off, which swirled in the wind a few times as his eyes tracked it, before it gently blew towards him and brushed his cheek, swirling once more before being taken off the cliffside and scattering to the distance in the breeze. Taiyang felt tears making their way down his face, and even as he mouthed thank you, he silently wept.


"Soooo… about earlier…" Yang awkwardly broached the subject. "What exactly did that mean?"

Blake looked Yang in the eyes. "It means I don't know if I feel the same way you do. My last relationship didn't exactly end well." Yang cringed, and Blake hastily added, "I'm also not sure I like girls. But, like I said, I'm willing to find out. So… let's just let things go where they will, and see what happens. I like you Yang. I just, I just need some time to figure out if I like you like that."

Yang swallowed. "I, I can work with that. So… what do you wanna do now?"

"We never finished the most recent Ninjas of Love," Blake offered.

"Well, let's get back to our cabin then."

"Yeah," Blake agreed. She hesitated for a second, before offering Yang her hand. Yang blinked, and took it, before the faunus led the way back into the ship. The action wasn't eliciting any particular feeling from Blake, but the contact did feel warm, and she found herself enjoying the sensation. Moreso, she enjoyed the embarrassment it caused Yang. Maybe figuring this out might be easier than she thought.


They were all camped for the night. And it was a very large camp, considering it housed several hundred people. The aftermath of the raid on Shion had been a new experience in a lot of ways for Penny, and for once, she found it an experience she'd have been fine without. Azul had them all run a sweep of the town, looking for any more civilians that may have hid. They found about a dozen, and when Penny had returned, any subdued bandits that may have been alive when she left were no longer so. Azul had brought up a very logical argument for his execution of the bandits, in that they had no reasonable way to incarcerate the bandits, and that letting them go would mean they'd go straight back to what they'd been doing. Still, it didn't sit right with Penny.

The villagers had been profusely thanking VAAPPR for their timely assistance, but Vyliria, in her characteristically blunt fashion, had pointed out that just because the bandits were driven off, didn't mean that they wouldn't come back at a later date, nor that Grimm wouldn't be attracted by the haze of negative emotions resulting from the raid. It hadn't been easy, but Azul backing the Irithyllian up (along with Pyrrha, because while it was an isolated village, it was one in Mistral, and her fame meant some of the villagers were willing to take her word at face-value) had convinced them that staying in Shion would be untenable. So it was that they'd packed what essentials they could, and some two-hundred people ended up in a caravan making their way towards Mistral. Vyliria and her had gone ahead of the townspeople, clearing any Grimm in their path, whereupon the Irithyllian had admitted that despite the century plus she'd spent in the Age of Fire, that this was a first for her. The people of Higibana, the next village over, had been incredibly sympathetic, offering what aid they could, and roughly three dozen of the former residents of Shion had stayed behind with relatives who had opened their doors, but that had been two days ago. Honestly, the only reason they hadn't been assaulted by Grimm several times over was because the gynoid and the unkindled had barely required rest, repeatedly splitting off from the group to slay any of the nearby monsters. And the entire time, Penny had been dealing with her memory constantly replaying the faces of the bandits she'd killed. She still saw the agonized, masked visage of Banesaw in his final moments. This was one instance where the perfect recollection afforded by her synthetic nature was working against her.

The pair were currently at a fire (of the mundane variety) at the edge of the encampment. Jaune, Pyrrha, Ren, and Azul were taking the first watch, while Nora remained in the camp proper, because Vyliria still required some form of rest every now and then to stay at peak performance. The crickets chirped in the night, as the broken moon hung over the forest.

"Vyliria?" Penny asked the woman sitting by the fire. She turned her head towards the gynoid, hood down at night, and looked her in the eyes. "How… how do you… you've killed bad people before, right?"

"I have. Many times," she replied in an even, weary tone. "And I'm fairly certain I know what you really want to ask me."

Penny closed her eyes, flinching when the dead face of the bandit who'd attacked the mother replayed in her mind yet again, before opening them and staring at the flames. "How do you deal with killing people?" she asked in a low voice. "I keep seeing their faces, and I don't want to anymore."

Grass and leaves crunched as Vyliria stood, walking over to Penny, sitting next to the gynoid and placing a hand on her shoulder. "I don't remember my first kill. Or my second. Those memories were lost to my curse. I think the earliest kill I remember was my sixth, but I can't be sure if there weren't any others before it that I also can't recall." She briefly broke her somber tone to make an aside, "Seriously, I have no idea if my sixth kill was actually my sixth, my sixteenth, or my sixtieth. I have about three and a half months as a complete blank in my memory from that time, and I can't even be sure that that's the exact amount of time I've lost from back then. Damn curse can be annoying like that." She huffed, visibly annoyed, and then became serious again. "It never got easier to end a life, though. I just began to stop thinking of it in the moment. Especially since my darksign will take the souls of those I slay, unless I make a conscious effort not to."

Penny's eyes widened, as she realized an implication of that. "So when you killed Cinder-"

"Yes," the Irithyllian tapped a finger on her right shoulder, "her soul is in there with the rest." She preempted Penny's next question. "I don't exactly feel it. You don't feel a particular soul out of all the ones you've absorbed. I could probably single it out and draw it forth from my darksign, but I don't particularly see a good reason to do so. Worst case scenario, I can hold it hostage against Emerald, I suppose. But I'm digressing." She took a breath. "Taking a life is no small matter. There's a difference between putting down a mindless animal, some nightmarish monster, a feral Grimm, or even a hollow, versus killing a person. A hollow may have been a person once, but they aren't anymore, so one only really puts their body to rest. But a person… A person has feelings. Hopes. Dreams. Fears. And in many cases, other people that care for them, or that they care for. And when you end their life, that's all gone. Forever… Unless they're an undead, but that's a whole different cache of humanity. Back to my point, though; when that person has made it clear they won't repent for their sins, when their wants in life are only to make the innocent suffer, you are faced with a choice: To let them live, and always leave the potential that they can continue to harm others, even kill others… or to make sure they can never cause harm again. And that's when you are faced with the task to kill another person. When you must perform that vile act so that others may sleep soundly each night." Vyliria closed her eyes. "You still see their faces. That's good. That means you regret doing it."

"But I don't want to! They were bad people!"

"If you regret killing them, that means you wish you could have done something different. That means that you're a good person, Penny. That despite taking their lives, despite the fact that if you have to, you would do it again, that you're still the same Penny before you killed them. The Penny that wants to protect people. The Penny that wants to save the world. The Penny that's my friend."

Penny closed her eyes once more. She saw the face of one of the bandits she'd slain. This time, she didn't shirk from the image from her memory banks. She took it in, every detail. She regretted it. She hated that she had to do it. She knew that feeling of self-loathing and guilt wouldn't go away, and that it would come back any time she did it again in the future. But suddenly… it no longer haunted her. Penny wasn't putting herself past what she had done, by any definition, but suddenly, there was peace of mind. She would always feel terrible for each life she took, but that meant that she would also always look for a way to avoid having to take more, unless there truly was no alternative. That guilt would come back with a vengeance any time she took a life in the future, but she would use that guilt to act as an anchor to make sure she'd never become like the people who would force her hand. And if there wasn't a different path to stop someone, she wouldn't hesitate to do what needed to be done.

Even though there was no need to, she took a breath. "Thank you Vyl."

"It wasn't a problem. Though, it's still a bit weird to get used to that nickname," she responded, eyes flicking over to meet hers with a small grin, before it faded and she looked back into the flames. "Penny?" She watched Vyliria swallow. "I… I don't feel anything when I kill people anymore. Not even afterwards. No regret, no pleasure beyond the satisfaction of besting a foe, just… nothing. And I fear what that means for me."

Penny hugged her, feeling the Irithyllian suddenly go rigid at the contact, before relaxing a handful of seconds later. Penny hated that even after all this time, the events of her childhood meant that a simple embrace brought discomfort to her best friend, but held on nonetheless. "Then I'll watch out for you, like you watch out for all of us. Like you watch out for me. And I'll make sure you stay a good person."

Vyliria slowly returned the embrace. "Thank you, Penny. That… that means a lot to me."

"You're my best friend. You mean a lot to me."

"I couldn't have said that better myself. Though, ah… you can let go now."

"One more minute, Vyl?" Penny pleaded.

She felt the Irithyllian sigh. "One more minute. But only because I know how much you like how warm hugs feel."

Penny just let her grin widen.


Nora was currently regaling the children of Shion with (an almost certainly overembellished) tale from Beacon at the moment, in a strange effort at a bedtime story, so for once, Ren found himself apart from his partner as he did his rounds at the perimeter with Azul. Jaune and Pyrrha were patrolling the opposite side, while Vyliria and Penny were nearing the end of the few hours of rest they'd requested after literal days of hunting any Grimm that so much as looked in the general direction of the caravan.

"So, kid," the huntsman began.

"Yes?" Ren acknowledged.

"Your partner has a semblance that lets her absorb electricity. Nikos has magnetism. That Jaune kid just unlocked a semblance that lets him boost the auras and semblances of others, and neither the, ah, synthetic girl or the undead girl have unlocked theirs. What's your's?"

"Tranquility," Ren replied without missing a beat. "I can mask my own emotions, or the emotions of those I'm in contact with, effectively becoming invisible to any Grimm not looking directly at me." He paused for a moment, as an idea came to him. "In a worst case scenario, it might be possible that Jaune's semblance could allow me to cover the entire caravan, if they all bunched together, though only for a few minutes at best."

Azul hummed an acknowledgement. "All the kids nowadays only care about who's semblance lets them kill the most Grimm. But yours has utility. And I'm glad to have it with us."

"Thank you," Ren offered tersely.

"I take it that there's an unpleasant story behind how you unlocked it?"

Ren stopped walking, and Azul picked up on that immediately. Memories of that night, of the Nuckelavee, flashed through his mind, and to ensure he didn't attract any Grimm that could have possibly gotten past his friends, he started using his semblance to repress them, the very colors on him seeming to dim as he did so. "When I was a boy, my village was attacked by a Grimm. One Grimm. It killed everyone. Everyone except me, who had just unlocked my semblance as I cried and hid from the monster, clinging to an equally terrified Nora and having no idea my semblance was protecting her as well. And I don't think we've spent longer than a day apart since."

"You know," the huntsman began, "You can't use your semblance to block every negative emotion you feel. Even though now is definitely a bad time considering the circumstances, at some point you're gonna need to let it all out." Ren looked him in the eyes, but said nothing. "And you need to tell that Nora girl how you feel. It took me the whole of ten minutes to figure out she likes you, and I'm fairly certain you feel the same, if you've stuck with her for all those years."

Ren checked his scroll for the time. "We've patrolled for long enough. Vyliria told us to get her and Penny after four hours." Azul sighed and shook his head, though he followed Ren back to the camp nonetheless. But semblance or not, Ren now found himself with much more on his mind than there was a few minutes ago.


Adam wore a high collar now. The rest of his outfit remained the same, and he'd been given a replacement mask for the one he'd lost, but the collar had been a necessity. How else would he hide the burning circle with a pitch black inside on his lower neck? At the very least, whatever had been in that black sprite had made it so that he looked alive after he'd followed the instructions on the note.

He was currently sitting cross legged on the floor. Thankfully, the Fennec brothers had been aligned with his way of thinking, and had taken him in and kept him hidden when he approached them, praising his return from death instead of questioning how it had occurred. The door behind him was shut, and for the moment he was alone. He no longer suffered from hunger or thirst, so that wouldn't interrupt his solitude. Yet another thing he could blame upon the woman who had killed him, who couldn't even be bothered to face him as she did so. He grit his teeth, his anger welling forth, his fists clenching, and then...

Then he stopped. What had his rage accomplished? What had his desire for revenge against humanity done for him? It had only resulted in his death. And that was the goliath in the room. Adam Taurus had died. But he was here, now, not quite alive, but here nonetheless. He looked back on what he had done. He looked back at what drove him. Blake. His desire to return the hurt she had dealt to him had led him to follow Cinder without question as to what she had wanted out of their deal. It had led to unprecedented losses in the Vale cell of the White Fang, a loss of global communications, and the deaths of countless faunus in Vale itself. All he'd accomplished in his "revolution" was to make the White Fang a pariah, to make the faunus of Vale put their trust in Susan Allard over the ones who should have been fighting for them.

Adam realized he had obsessed over Blake far too much. And looking back, he cringed, because with the lens of bias shattered by a greatarrow through his heart, he also realized that she had a valid reason to do what she'd done. Even setting aside clashing beliefs, he'd been a terrible partner, manipulating her and outright abusing her, his only saving grace being that he hadn't sunk so low as to abuse her sexually. He had obsessed over revenge against humanity even more, letting both those hates blind him to why he had been fighting. By no means did he forgive Blake's betrayal, but he could forget it, and leave it locked away until an opportunity presented itself to properly air his grievances… and perhaps to even air them via (very heated) words instead of Wilt. But the worst part of what she did to him was that some of what she had claimed was right. He only realized it now, with hindsight and the sobering experience of death to have it register, but she was right: The White Fang in Vale, under his leadership, and as a whole, under Sienna Khan, had become terrorists: not just labeled as so by the oppressors in Atlas and the other kingdoms, but by the very definition of the word. How many civilians had he killed? How many of those deaths actually caused humans to change from fear, and how many had been him and so many others lashing out against those who had wronged them? How many of those deaths had actually changed anything for the better for the faunus of Remnant? Killing all, or even most of humanity couldn't be the answer. To butcher an entire race, however much his hatred had once demanded it, would make Adam no better than the Schnees. It would make the faunus the oppressors rather than the victims. The Rose girl, who had fought and defeated him, proved that not every human was a bigot, not every one of them was just like the SDC. And again, with the benefit of hindsight, he now realized that not every human actively oppressed faunus. Not every human deserves to suffer for the actions of the oppressors. Some just kept their heads down and tried to get by, like many faunus, too scared to challenge the system, and just hoping they could live under it without issue. And again, like the Rose girl, some even stood against their own institutions and their bigotry.

Adam recalled older days, when the White Fang would attack SDC mining camps, and the looks on the faces of the faunus they liberated. When they fought off racist militias that lynched faunus. When they would be the ones to defend a faunus village that human huntsmen had left to the nonexistent mercies of the Grimm. When they threatened establishments that wouldn't serve faunus, but only damaged the property rather than took lives. Vengeance had blinded him, and notoriety had goaded him further and further, eventually becoming a feedback loop, making him into the monster the world had painted him as. He had to take a step back. Killing random humans would accomplish nothing beyond making them seem like the animals the oppressors branded the faunus as. He needed to go after them, specifically. The SDC. Racist politicians. And even those within the White Fang, who let the violence be indiscriminate rather than targeted against those who deserved it. He would need to step up the violence, but only against those who had earned it through their bigoted actions. Otherwise, he would need to limit casualties by as much as physically possible. Indiscriminate murder would only bring about a second war with humanity, and it wouldn't be one the White Fang could win, not with the way affairs currently stood. But if I want to accomplish this, and not start a war with humanity, then I can't do it from my current position. I need to take charge. And the current leader of the White Fang won't give up peacefully.

Adam came to a conclusion. His thoughts were finally ordered again. However it had occurred, he'd been given a second chance, and this time, he would take the right path forwards. In order to kill the oppressors holding the world back, and to fight for a future where faunus could be the equals of a humanity purged of bigotry, Sienna Khan needed to die. Adam opened his eyes, speaking aloud for the first time in days. "I have a goal… Now I just need a plan to reach it."


A/N: Poor Oscar. Someone really should have given him a brochure to prep him for this.

Tai got left behind in this timeline. I figured that I'd at least take the time to mention him. I don't think I'll be using his perspective again for a looooong time, but the idea for his scene popped into my head, so I wrote it down. It was legit sad for me to write, so I hope it also hits you all in the feels.

Bumblebee is getting off to a bit of an awkward start, but now it's going. Hopefully Ghira approves of Yang, because otherwise she's gonna have a very rough time on Kuo Kuanna.

Ye gods, writing Penny and Vyliria always brings a smile to my face, regardless of what they're doing. They just make such a dynamic duo. So Vyl's helping Penny with coming to terms with the fact that she'll have to kill bad guys in this line of work, but at the same time, Penny states she'll be there to pull Vyliria back from the (metaphorical) abyss should she ever look like she's going to fall in. BFF's all around, especially considering neither of them can die from natural causes.

Ren, Ren, Ren. Poor dude. Burying all your emotions never ends well. (Looks at mirror and pointedly ignores my own blatant hypocrisy) Hopefully Azul's words will cause him to reevaluate a lot of things about himself.

Speaking of dying, it appears that dying has knocked some sense into Adam. Though of course, he's still Adam, so sense is a relative term. The good news, unless Blake ends up right in front of him, she's no longer in his crosshairs, and even then, if he's in a good mood, he might not even try to stab her! The bad news, Blake is on a collision course to be right in front of him, and doesn't know it. Also, Sienna is now his target, and he's undead. So it sucks to be her.

And while we're on Adam, I would like to briefly remind people that according to Blake, Adam was a good (relatively speaking) person in the past. So I'm not pulling him having done good stuff in his past out of my ass.

As a little side note, to refer back to the Vyliria/Penny bit:

I feel like that conversation would have been very fun to write from Vyliria's POV as well, because from the lens of Penny's thoughts, you can't see what's going on in Vyliria's head. And Vyliria doesn't really do envy, either. She honestly pities herself rather than covets the fact that Penny is such a good person despite the way she was created (to basically be a war machine for Atlas).

One of my favorite parts about the dynamic between the two is that one is an animate corpse and the other is a gynoid. Despite the artificial nature of Penny, she often acts more "human" than Vyliria, who was (was being the key word) human. Penny looks to the Irithyllian as a role model in a lot of ways, and she's a big influence on the gynoid's life, but at the same time Vyliria isn't particularly proud of herself (she'll boast about her accomplishments, but doesn't enjoy all the pain caused by getting there, and would rather have never have done them if there was literally any other reasonable choice), and wants to do her best to protect the naive optimism her friend has, because she sees Penny as a better person than she'll ever be.

Not only is Vyliria's lack of emotion at murder a concern just for her own mental state (which to be described as fragile would be generous), but it's also a product of the curse. She's died so many times, seen so much death all around her, not all of which were permanent, that she's just become desensitized to it, and that's before you factor in how much of her has been lost to her darksign. Circumstance has given her sociopathic tendencies, and that honestly scares her. Nevermind some of the flashbacks she's had, and even on top of that, she also displays a rather reckless disregard for her own wellbeing, generally accepting grievous harm without any thought as to if it could be avoided (she'll try if its convenient), because she knows that as long as it's not an instantly fatal blow, she can tank it.