Chapter 1: Awake
Ruby was somewhere very different than what she was used to. She was resting in a bed, but it was not hers. She looked around at her surroundings, and they were not her dorm’s. She was dressed down, but she was not in her own pajamas. From what she could tell, the article of clothing that was on her person was a nightgown, a fairly flimsy one at that. The fabric brushed softly against her skin as she removed her body from the bed.
The last Ruby could remember was that she and her team were in the school library. Even though they were attending a school that bred Huntsmen and Huntresses, there were still essay assignments. Time that they could use to take down Grimm, and the professors wanted them to flip through old dusty books.
Yang was carrying an especially tall stack of books, until she deposited them carelessly onto their group table, agitating the dust. Both Weiss and Ruby started to cough from accidentally inhaling the fuming particles, Blake’s bow slightly twitched at the mistreatment of such important tomes.
After she recovered, Weiss skeptically picked out one book from the pile in particular. It was fairly old, leather bound, worn, and definitely not the subject they were suppose to be researching.
“Vytal’s Fairy Tales?” Ruby asked while Weiss simply had raised eyebrows. She handed the book to Ruby, who seemed instantly interested in the thick book.
“I just grabbed anything that looked heavy and ancient,” Yang shrugged.
“Half of these books aren’t even related to our topic!” Weiss couldn’t help but hiss at her teammate.
“Then just give them to me and I’ll make another round,” Yang confidently advised.
“It’ll take forever to gather enough information,” Weiss countered.
“You just don’t want to actually start,” Blake pointed out.
Yang gave her a wink and stuck out her tongue, “Guess you found me out! Since it’s already too late to fix my mistake, I might as well go back.”
“This time with books we need?” the snow haired teen reminded the blonde.
“Yes, princess,” Yang rolled her eyes.
“Can we keep this one please? It looks interesting,” Ruby said, jumping up and down in her seat. The book of fiction was raised up above her head, basking in the afternoon light that was seeping through the windows.
“Aren’t you a bit too old for children stories, sis?”
“I don’t mind,” Blake voiced her opinion.
The blonde shrugged, “Suit yourself,” she said before trodding off yet again with an armful of books.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” Weiss asked.
“I can handle it,” the blonde waved as she disappeared around a bookshelf’s corner.
“Ooh, ooh, can we read one while we wait?” Ruby eagerly asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Blake smiled in reply. Weiss was also interested, not that she would admit it. I mean, with that much work put into the binding of the book, it couldn’t be half bad, could it?
“That’s an awfully lot of stories packed in there,” Weiss commented, peering over her leader’s shoulders. They were skimming the table of contents, deciding on which story to read. Something interesting, as well as short so that they would actually be able to finish before the day is over.
“Wow, there’s even more than one volume of these!” Ruby whistled.
“That one looks interesting,” Blake was about to point at the story that captured her interest, when there was a shout from afar that caught their attention.
“You nimwit!” a male voice sounded. Hearing the commotion, the girls looked up, only to see a canister of dust hurtling towards them.
“Save the books!” Blake reacted immediately. She tried to gather as much in her arms as she could while Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose. Not again.
The canister, as expected, exploded on impact. Dust scattered across the entire surface of the table, covering several books in its glory. And to much of Weiss and Blake’s dismay, Ruby’s started to react to the powder that lingered in front of her nose.
“Ahh-,” she began.
“I mean it’s not red dust,” Weiss tried to reason.
“-aah-,” Ruby continued.
“So I mean, we’re not going to explode or anything, right?”
“-ah-.” The snow haired heiress found herself covering Ruby’s mouth. It seemed to calm Ruby’s sensitive nose down a bit. Weiss and Blake both sighed a breath of relief. Weiss slowly took her hand away.
“Right?” she asked her faunus friend one last time before the inevitable happened.
A blinding light followed afterwards. And then a blackout. And now this. Ruby found herself looking for Crescent Rose, only to realize that she didn’t have it with her. It was still in her locker, tucked safely away. The young teen groaned as she slumped back onto the bed, elbows resting on her knees, hands grasping at her hair. Her scroll had no signal, either. Typical.
A muffled sound alerted the RWBY leader to another prescence on the premises. There was no knock on the door, but Ruby instantly shifted into battle mode. Although she was weaponless, Ruby was still a formidable opponent. She was after all, stronger and faster than your average fifteen year old female. The door was opened to reveal a young woman, either in her late 20’s or early 30’s, that entered with a tray of a small water basin and two cotton towels.
“Oh, you’re awake, Red,” the woman greeted Ruby with genuine surprise. The girl in turn slowly lowered her stance back to normal. She looked harmless enough, so far.
“Red?” Ruby asked.
“Oh, you were wearing that red cloak of yours. We couldn’t just call you ‘that girl’ or ‘the unconscious one’,” the woman smiled as she walked over to Ruby’s bedside table. She dipped one of the towels into the basin, reaching out with her other arm as if she was waiting to be given something. The teen withdrew her arms even further away from the woman’s.
“I can wash myself,” Ruby stated, still on high guard.
“Fair enough, we are strangers.”
“Yes, you and I,” the woman replied.
“No. Earlier, what you said before. How ‘we’ couldn’t just call you that girl or whatever. Who’s we?”
“Oh!” the woman’s eyes lit up, as if she just figured out the meaning of life. “Me, my husband. The family next door, the baker down the lane...everyone in town, really.” Now Ruby, as of now, is simply dumbfounded. She’s confused. Weirded out. How could everyone in a town know about her?
“Okay, maybe not the whole town. The neighborhood basically. It’s not everyday that your husband stumbles across a young girl that’s alone and out in the woods in the middle of the night,” the woman continued to talk. Right now, it might as well be considered a ramble, “You were breathing, so we reckoned you weren’t dead. But you didn’t wake up for days. We had a doctor look at you, and he simply stated your body was just resting. That must have been one big...whatever you did out there to get your body in such a state.”
“Days? How many, specifically?” Ruby asked.
“Almost a week, actually. Six. Days, not weeks.” Six days? The essay was due three days ago!
“This can’t be happening,” the teen whispered under her breath. “I need to get back to Beacon soon. I’ll just take my leave now.” Ruby was about to turn and leave for the door when she noticed the sheer look of confusion on the woman’s face. “Beacon Academy?” Ruby tried once again to explain herself. Her only reply was the blank look the woman stared back at her with.
“...Are we still in Vale?”
“Vytal?” panic was starting to set into Ruby’s heart.
“Remnant?” Ruby tried one last time before the woman started to click her tongue.
“Oh you poor thing, you must have hit your head or something. Your mind is still a bit hazy,” the woman worryingly said. She guided Ruby to sit on the bed. Because of the pure panic and fear instilled into her body, Ruby obliged and allowed herself to be guided by the woman. “Now I can’t say if I ever heard of any of those countries, I think it’s best to stay rested until you remember where you are.”
“Hint, please?” Ruby asked meekly.
“Now that would be cheating, would it not?” the woman joked. But Ruby didn’t find it funny. Even if she was in a different region, country or continent, the woman who obviously spoke her language should have at least heard of one of those names! Remnant, especially.
Soon after, about twenty seconds or so later, Ruby’s lost face was enough to bring down the woman’s eagerness to let Ruby remember it by herself.
“You’ll be fine,” the woman tried to reassure Ruby, gripping the teen’s fingers tightly. “What’s your name, love?”
Ruby thought about it for quite a while. Could she trust them? Could she not?
“Red. Just call me Red.”
Weiss awoke in the most horrible way possible. Gasping for air, she found her hair and clothes soaking wet.
“Hey watch it!” she growled at the very rude prison guard that was standing on the other side of the bars. Wait a minute. Prison guard? Bars? She was about to run up to the guard when there was a chain that pulled her back, tripping her in the process. Both her hands were also bound to one another, allowing her for minimal options to cushion the landing. Definitely minor scraps will be present soon after.
“Guess the little witch is finally awake,” the guard sneered. What did he just call her?
“Only because you splashed water on her. That’s cruel,” another guard said. His voice sounded younger than the other one, but both were currently on Weiss’s blacklist. How dare they put her in such a vile location.
“We have a client. She fits the requirements. Now open.”
“Fine,” the other guard said. There was a jingle of keys and the sound of squeaking metal. Weiss felt herself being roughly pulled up. Much to her shock and surprise, her body felt incredibly weak.
“Convenient though, ain’t it. How this one was asleep all week. We didn’t have to give her food or anything. And now one of the richest in the city is going to buy her for a huge profit. You’re just the most wonderful money maker aren’t you?” the older guard cooed. He cupped Weiss’s chin to lift her eyes up to his. It took a while for her eyes to focus, but soon it did. And oh boy was that the first sight Weiss did not want to witness.
The man before her was mustached, covering practically half of his face. She was certain there were even bits of food stuck inside the bird’s nest. His smile was missing teeth here and there, those that were left were a gritty puss colored yellow. His breath smelled like rotten eggs, rotten meat, rotten milk - rotten everything. It didn’t take Weiss that much effort to not gag and throw up right then and there. It was not like she had anything left to throw up anyways.
“Now that all of the soot and grime got washed away, you’re a pretty face, aren’t you. You have an interesting scar there, but no one’s going to be looking at a slave’s face while they work. It’s a pity, how such this face will go to waste...” the guard breathed heavily near Weiss’s ear. If she had anything present in her stomach, it would have been on the floor by now. “Wouldn’t mind bedding a creature like you, what’d you say, girlie?”
Weiss scrunched her face in disgust. There was slight bile in her mouth and a lump in her throat.
“Stop it,” the younger guard replied. He handed the older one a long chain of some sort. Before Weiss could comprehend what the chain was meant to do, it was pulled forward - and so was she.
Great, now she was a dog. This ticked Weiss off. Like really ticked her off. She then bent her legs, lowering herself to the floor quickly.
“What the-” the older guard started, before Weiss had jumped over the head, and kneed him directly into his nose. In his surprise, the guard let go of the chain. Thinking quickly, Weiss took the chain - that would have become an hindrance - into her own hands, and tripped the other guard before she ran. The chains around her feet made it difficult to take large strides, but she made do. The weakness she felt before was momentarily gone, in its place was pure adrenaline.
As expected, the younger guard soon gave chase after her. It didn’t take long for him to call for backup, as soon Weiss found herself in the presence of two more guards - equally menacingly looking as the last ones. Not. She ducked below their swings as quickly as she could, which was pretty damn fast considering her current situation and condition. She decked one of them in the occipital lobe with the handcuffs that bound her. He was quick to fall down. She took her chain to wrap around the ankles of the other guard, tripping him, while he in returned fell upon the other one that had just caught up to them.
Weiss then ran. She passed over several other cells, each of its inhabitants called out for her help. For her own survival, she dashed past them, mentally blocking out their cries. She soon made it outside, but she attracted the attention of those around her. With blood still pumping violently through her body, she ran down the street as quick as she could, eventually stopping to take breath between one of the dark alleyways.
Blake remembered a flash of light, and then she felt the sun’s rays upon her skin. She slightly recalled being carried, and being taken care of. She remembered being fed and washed. But when her ribbon was removed, there was a gasp. She then felt herself being dragged from the bed, her head making contact with the wooden floors.
The raven haired girl tried to scream, stop. But the people dragging her could not hear her. She was then thrown onto the back of some sort of wagon, a whip and the whinny of horses, and she could feel the wagon moving. She faintly recalls the bumps on the road, every rock they ran over, every crack they sunk into. Her body was then roughly carried in the middle of somewhere. Her body felt cold, her lungs felt full. She couldn’t breath. She was drowning.
But then she felt air in her lungs once more and she coughed the rest of the intrusive water out from her body. The air around her was cold, so cold. Blake started to shiver. But then she felt nothing but warmth. She didn’t know how, but now she was dry. Warm and dry. She subconsciously hummed. There was a glimpse of a creature before her, but for some reason it didn’t alarm her. She felt safe. For the first time since that light, the faunus fell to a full sleep.
There was something tickling her face. Blake opened her golden eyes, only to be greeted with another pair of eyes. Actually, scratch that. She was greeted with three pair of eyes. Blake swallowed a scream that had threatened to jump out of her throat. But she recomposed herself as she realized that the beast in front of her was not harming her. The breast didn’t seem like a Grimm, not one that was documented anywhere in Remnant, at least. It affectionately licked her faunus ears, she automatically twitched them in reply, much to the beast’s - or was it beasts’? - amusement as it - they? - started to purr. It started to rub itself against her face, its velvety fur caressing her cheeks. Blake soon found that she too was purring. With a lick from each of the heads, the beast stood up. It was bipedal.
Blake was about to follow it, but before she could stand up, the beast shot out one of its paws and pinned her down. It huffed into her face before it turned around to walk into the only source of light that was emitting into the...cave. Cave. She was inside a goddamn cave, hibernating in it like a goddamn animal. But at least she still had clothes on, she looked at herself. Although it was Beacon’s uniform, it was better than her birthday suit.
The beast soon returned with another animal in its mouth - the middle’s mouth. It was small, but its tongue was hanging out and its body was limp. Dead. The animal was dead. The middle head lowered itself onto the floor to drop the dead animal softly in front on Blake. It was then that Blake realized just how hungry she was.
“I can’t eat it raw, I need to cook it,” Blake told the beast. Can it even understand her? She tried to stand up again, but the beast put one of its giant paws on her shoulder, this time gently pushing her down. The beast then turned around and began to dig a hole in the rock below it. It was strong enough to dig through rock like it was soft dirt. Wow.
With its left head, it breathed fire into the pit. Blake was about to comment on how there was nothing to catch fire, when the flames stayed there, dancing wildly and passionately inside the pit. Stable fire. Wow.
With its right paw claws, the beast skinned off the fur of the dead animal in fluid swipes. With its left paw claws, it cut the animal into strips. Its right head shot sharp sticks that penetrated the rock flooring below it. It can make both fire and arrow like projectiles from simply opening its mouth, Blake thought. Deadly. The breast then stuck the animal strips with the sticks in a way that it was cooking nicely by the flames of the fire.
“You know you could have just used sticks or twigs from outside, right?” Blake asked the beast. All three of its heads looked at her with a knowing smile. “Were you...were you showing off?”
The smiles grew wider. One of the heads lowered itself. She swore it was blushing. What a magnificent and beautiful creature, she thought to herself. She couldn’t help herself from thinking it, and she absolutely couldn’t help herself from saying out loud, “Wow.”
Yang returned to her team’s table to find it empty. She was so shocked that she let go of the books instantly. She probably expected Weiss to ditch her, possibly even Blake. But not Ruby! Her dear little sister wouldn’t have abandoned her so easily.
The blonde was angry. She had to find the RWB in team RWBY and teach them a lesson. She huffed to their dormitory, wondering if the girls had their running shoes on.
Chapter 2: Adapt
Work for the family that she was staying with was simple enough. Nothing a person of her strength couldn’t handle. Even the teenage boys around the village have started to take a liking to her. She was the only girl that could keep up with their races. She was actually the fastest out of all of them, but she usually conserves her semblance to finish at varying places. Placing first all the time would bring too much attention. But unknowingly, she had attracted too much attention as is.
Ruby had tried making friends with the other females, she really did. But all they cared about was making dresses, and cooking supper, and daydreaming about their future husbands. Yikes. It was a strange world she wandered it. The moon wasn't even broken! The first time she saw the full moon she started pointing at it dramatically, there were no fragments whatsoever visible. Mrs. Hudson - the woman that she was living with - just complimented on the beauty of it.
Ruby then realized she was in fact not in the world of Remnant any more. Before, she had an inkling at best. But the moon was just the slap to the face she needed to understand the predicament itself. It just looked so...full. Complete.
She looked down at the parchment Mrs. Hudson had given her. It was a list of the foods that she needed to get for supper that day. She didn’t want to offend anybody, but it was hard to overlook the fact that the technology that was available in the area was very lacking. No one would believe her if she described fridges, or rocket lockers - not like she did so anyway, she was smarter than that. Music was played in place, with no records or players to keep the sound for later playage. They didn’t even have vinyl. What children did for fun was play in the streets, jump rope, tag. Even hacky sacks.
Ruby had little trouble finding the items she needed, and even managed to haggle prices enough that she had a few coins left over. Although it wasn’t enough to buy anything - aside from an apple or two - Ruby decided to give the money back to Mrs. Hudson. It’s not like she needed anything. And it’s not like she was going to have to stay for long, right?
After dropping off the groceries back at the Hudson homes, she had a bit of time to play before supper was ready. And that meant spying on the men that were hunting. It was easy enough to sneak around the forest. Her semblance made sure that she was never seen. Ruby was safely hidden in the trees at all times. Once a stray bullet almost hit her, as her hood was mistaken for a small animal. She learned to keep it in her room whenever she did sneak out like this. Time and time again she had asked the men to take her along. They refused. “It’s not a ladies’ sport.”
But that had just made even more curious. The guns they had, although primitive, required no dust to use. Instead, they needed gunpowder. And they were made to kill. Not just maim, not to just hurt. Actually killing their target. She had killed many Grimms in her lifetime, but never had she ever thought of killing game with souls for fun and food.
It was beautiful, how the men are able to locate animals in no time at all. The precise positions they take, and they were always on target. Although it was sad to see the animals drop, the men had mercy. The first shot was always fatal. Even if they missed the first time around, the second would always make up for it. Seeing critters in pain was heartbreaking, and at least the men thought so too.
Ruby heard rustling behind her, which was very nerve wracking for the fact that she was suspended fifty feet in the air from a tree. Putting herself in a sitting position on the branch she was on, Ruby scanned the horizon behind her for any suspicious activity. Nothing. She sat there for a good five minutes or so before she was taken slightly aback by the sound of a gunshot. It was probably nothing.
“Out of the way, peasant,” a young woman scoffed as she pushed past Ruby in the bookstore. Ruby almost dropped the atlas that she was holding, but the teen managed to catch it in time. Her time studying the new geography of the land she was transported to gave her little information. She had hoped that perhaps there was an area on the maps would look familiar to her. They did not. Ruby was about to find lore and history as well as books of the supernatural, anything that would provide useful in aiding Ruby go home.
It was useless however, when Ruby realized she couldn’t read a single word in the village’s native tongue. Speaking and listening was fine, she could understand all that. But the literary characters on paper was foreign to Ruby. Well at least she can write things in practical code, with only she being the one who can read it. Not like it helped her much.
“The picture books are over there, illiterate,” the girl pointed to the far section. Ruby looked at her questioningly. She was sure she never met this rude person before. Ruby looked to her right, and then to her left. She then looked back at the young woman and pointed to herself. Was she talking to me?
“Yeah, you. God, you’re such an idiot.”
“You’re wondering why I assume you’re illiterate, aren’t you? All you peasants look the same, I know illiterate scum when I see one.”
Ruby continued to look at the girl with bitterness in her eyes.
“Do you want to prove me wrong?”
Ruby shook her head. Oh, if only they were in Vytal. She’d wipe that smirk of her little porcelain doll face.
“At least you know when to back down, you miserable wretch. Maybe you plebeians aren’t that stupid after all. Now where is that new novella? Ah, there it is.”
“Red, be a dear and sew the hole in these breeches for me,” Mr. Hudson told Ruby as he handed her his pants.
“I don’t know how to sew,” Ruby said. He looked at her skeptically.
“Now, Red. How do you expect to find a husband if you don’t know how to sew for him?”
“Why would I want a husband? I’m only fifteen,” she countered. And for him? He can patch up his own damn clothes!
“Only fifteen?” Mr. Hudson roared merrily. He even slapped his knee as if Ruby had just told the most hilarious joke in the world. “A lot of men out there would think otherwise. You’re the perfect age, right you are. I heard George Bucheli is thinking about proposing to ya. Never mind that you currently have no family or status, he thinks you’re perfect for him.”
“Isn’t he like twenty or something?” Ruby asked.
“Twenty-six,” Mr. Hudson corrected, stroking his beard. Ruby’s face contorted even more. He was more than a decade older than she is! All she could do was laugh nervously. “I can see you’re disappointed. He’s only the second son after all. Narissa Swan, she’s the same age as you, married George’s older brother, Zachary Bucheli! Did so just a few days before you showed up. A sweet kid she was.”
Ruby dreaded to ask her next question, “How old is...Zachary Bucheli?”
“He’s my age, actually! Thirty-two, went to school together we did.”
Ruby felt like she was going to hurl.
“Mrs. Hudson doesn’t look that much different from you, sir. Age-wise that is,” Ruby realized. The reason why the young teen didn’t notice the horrendously large age gap between husband and wife of the villagers was all the fault of the Hudsons. They looked. Normal.
“Ah yes,” he said dreamily, staring off into the distance as if in a trance. “We were special alright. Although it is much more common now to marry or be engaged to those of your own age, in my time it was a rarity. My Helena was actually suppose to marry an aristocrat. He just had the largest head of hair ever, and all those frills! A miracle he could even walk with all those layers. Ye can just imagine how much of a fit her family threw when she called off the engagement. We were just so in love. She was hiding from her family one day you see...”
“Are you telling Red that embarrassing story, my dear?” Mrs. Hudson said, poking her head into the kitchen. She had with her a laundry basket full of newly washed clothes.
“Embarrassing? It’s beautiful, that’s what it is!” her husband huffed.
“I want to know,” Ruby said, inching closer now that her interest had been piqued. Mr. Hudson roared in approval while the missus just shook her head as she walked off the fold the laundry.
“Hey, Red!” one of the village boys called for her attention. His name was Thomas, a freckled lad with a thirst for adventure. He dreams of becoming a member of the navy, always on the sea and possibly encountering new islands to explore.
She skipped over to him, balancing from her heel to her toes in a teeter-totter like manner, she awaited for what the young man has to say.
“Whatcha doing, Tommy?” Ruby asked.
“Russell fell down the well, help me pull him up,” Thomas gestured. The sleeves of his shirt and the legs of his trousers were rolled up, both of his hands were occupied with a rope that was led into the well. He even had a firm foot pressed against the side of the well to position himself in a stable manner.
“And why do you think little old me can help you?” Ruby asked with a smile.
“Please, Red. Both you and I know that you’re stronger that most of these sore losers. And do you really expect anyone else to help me pull Russell up?” Thomas managed to explain. The rope pulled a bit, making Thomas lose his grip momentarily before he quickly regained the balance. Ruby rolled her eyes while she too rolled up her sleeves. The two heaved and ho’ed until a wet hand managed to wrap itself around the outer wall of the well. A stickly figure emerged as he gasped for hair, rolling out of the well in the most inelegant way possible before collapsing on the ground.
“Thanks, guys,” Russell said before he went into a fit of coughing, throwing up water.
“Gee, Russell, who did this to you?” Ruby asked, hands on her hips in a disapproving manner.
“Who do you think,” the victim said, wiping traces of drool that had bit spat out along with the well water.
“Benedict,” Ruby growled.
“What’d you do this time, Russ? Pointed out his stupidity again? Corrected a spelling or grammar mistake?” Thomas joked.
“Miss Elizabeth was there,” Russell shrugged. But Ruby and Thomas groaned. Miss Elizabeth Anderson. Daughter of the richest family in the village. Along with Benedict Roberts, son of the second richest family. Totally meant for each other. Dick and dickess, bratty, spoiled, bigoted, engaged. The worse part of this whole situation is that Russell’s family works for the Andersons. So even if he didn’t want to, he’s stuck addressing her as Miss Elizabeth!
But here’s the catch. Elizabeth actually enjoys Russell’s company. They’ve been together since they were born, or they might as well have been. And Benedict. Oh boy, is Benedict the jealous type.
“Russ, you have got to ditch her,” Thomas said, rolling his eyes. He extended a hand to Russell, who was still recovering on the ground.
“Miss Elizabeth isn’t that bad,” Russell said, he grabbed a hold of his friend’s hand to stand up. There was now mud all over his trousers, to which he frowned in disgust by.
“I have a list of the names she called me when we first met,” Ruby scowled. Elizabeth was the least to say...unpleasant.
“You have to get to know her first.” the boy defended.
“I’ve known her for thirteen years, and trust me. I know her,” Thomas said, waving his hands around in complete tandem to his words.
“Not how I know her,” Russell said quietly, looking down.
“You have to tell her,” Ruby whispered just as quiet. Russell looked up immediately, horrified.
“No! I mean, she’s engaged. Engaged to Benedict,” he flustered.
“I heard eloping is in this year,” Thomas said off handedly, causing the shorter boy to start glowing red.
“She wouldn’t be happy with me. She’s meant for guys like Benedict. Besides, I don’t even think she likes me back in that way,” Russell continued. He started to ramble. Wow, did they hit a nerve. He talked about how she, even though she had countless of servants tending to her every whim, Elizabeth chooses to go pick up her book orders by herself. Especially if it was a new novel that she had wanted to read. She wanted to feel the pages of the books as she flipped through them, she wanted to hear the spine as she opened it for the first time.
Reading was her passion, and although it was more common for a lady of her age and status to be interested in poems, Elizabeth was simply infatuated with the fiction. The adventure and the thrill, the suspense and drama. Ruby remembered that. When Elizabeth had bumped into her in the store, the young lady had picked up a book of a ship on the cover. Ruby looked at it with interest. “What are you looking at, brat?” Elizabeth had said before sauntering over to the counter to pay. Her nose was buried deep in the book on her way out the door. In the middle of it all, Russell started another coughing fit, despite already clearing his lung of the water from before.
“You okay, Russ?”
“Nothing really, Miss Amelia has been coughing recently. I think I must have caught it from her.” Amelia. Elizabeth’s younger sister. Twice as bratty. Twice as spoiled. Too young to be a dickess, though. And a seven year old can’t really be bigoted. But it doesn’t stop her from trying to sound like it.
“Ew, rich people cooties,” Thomas scrunched his face and took a step back. With a feigning distraught face, he wiped a bit of the imaginary germs onto Ruby, who played along.
“Nasty, Thomas. Don’t get me sick, too!”
“Very mature, folks,” Russell said, rolling his eyes.
“No, I’m serious. I’ll be very angry with you if I get sick,” Thomas said.
“My head hurts,” Thomas said two days later. His muscles were too sore to move, he had a severe case of violent coughing. He also had an intense migraine, so strong that even opening his eyes caused him pain. “I’m going to kill Russell,” he groaned.
“Now, dear. This sickness has been going around all over town. I’m sure Russell didn’t mean to,” Mrs. Hudson assured her son. She was wringing a towel to replace the one on his forehead. She began to cough into the inside of her elbow.
“Mom, you’re getting sick, too,” Thomas said worriedly.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Mrs. Hudson lied to herself. From the window of her Thomas’s bed, she could see a little girl clad in red entering the front gate of their home. Red must be hungry. After she had finished washing and feeding her son, she walked steadily out of the door, only to collapse the moment she set foot down the hallway. Luckily, Ruby was there, using her semblance she was able to quickly get to the housewife before she hit the floor. The basin of water had rolled down the stairs, leaving trails of water all over the house, but that was the least of the girl’s worries.
“Mrs. Hudson, are you okay?” Ruby asked. The sickness was spreading rapidly, and even a strong woman like Mrs. Hudson had become a victim.
“I’m fine, Red dear,” she rasped. Ruby rested the back of her hand on top of Mrs. Hudson’s temples. Burning. “I need to prepare supper, I bet you’re hungry.”
“No, no. I’m fine. Really,” Ruby positioned Mrs. Hudson in a way that she was partially using Ruby as a support. When she was in bed next to her also ailing husband, the wife apologized that supper was going to be late. Ruby told her that it was okay, and that she should focus more on getting better. Ruby then gathered more water to wash off the Hudsons, afterwards the girl had to clean the water that had been spilled. It was then that she finally had time to put away the branches, logs and twigs that she had just returned from gathering in the woods.
There were less children on the streets today, and even less people in the markets and shops. Ruby was worried, very worried. Yesterday, Russell became bedridden and Thomas had started coughing. Today, Thomas couldn’t move from his bed and Ruby...Ruby was perfectly fine. Not that she wanted to get sick as well, but the fact that Ruby had no difference in her health made her wonder what she had and the villagers didn’t.
Ruby forced herself into the bed the Hudsons prepared for her. She screamed into the pillow until her throat was hoarse. This life. It was all too mundane. She missed Yang. She missed Blake and Weiss too. She missed, Jaune and Pyrrha. She missed Nora and even Ren - as quiet as he was. She wanted to wake up and go home. To Beacon, where she belonged. But then she wondered if she would miss Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson. She wonder if she would miss Thomas. If she left now, would she be too cruel?
Who was she kidding. She would miss everyone.
Chapter 3: Ascend
Weiss was cold, hungry, and miserable. She had miraculously gotten enough energy in the last few days to use her glyphs to glide around the town, seeking information. Despite her pride, she used them to perform street shows. From what she could tell, the people of this town had no dust and no knowledge of dust. Her glyphs were seen as tricks of the light something the young children enjoyed very much. But just a little while ago after having finished her last show for the day before the light grew dim and the folks starting to shuffle back into their homes, she spied a little girl on the street corner.
Curious, she cautiously approached the child. What was she doing all alone by herself? Where were her parents? Upon seeing Weiss coming towards her, the girl’s face lit up. She started to run towards Weiss, who in return halted to a stop at the sudden change of direction.
“Would you like to buy a match, miss?” she asked, holding up a bundle of long vertical matches. As the small girl held up the matches, the sleeve of her dress fell down, revealing bruises on her wrists. When Weiss took a closer look, there were also bruises on the girl’s cheeks, and a cut on her lips.
“Despicable,” Weiss muttered under her breath.
“What did you say, miss?” the girl wondered, staring at Weiss with her huge doe eyes.
“I’ll...buy...however much this gets me,” the snow teen revealed her handful of coins. She even closed her eyes, not wanting to know how much of her money would actually be taken. Hey, the girl might need it more than her, but she can still be wary of her own fortune and well being.
“Oh, thank you, miss. This is enough to buy the rest of today’s matches! Papa will let me eat potatoes, tonight!” Weiss had to force herself to swallow down the lump of rage in her throat. The girl excitedly took the rest of the matches and wrapped them in tissue paper, tied with twine.
Broke with nothing in her possession but a tattered dress and a handful of matches, Weiss would be sleeping on the streets the second time since she arrived in such a wretched place. At least it looks like it won’t be raining tonight, Weiss thought to herself as she looked up at the night sky.
It was clear for the first time since she got to this abnormal place, and so the site that she saw above her almost made her drop the matches into a nearby puddle. Weiss’s mouth dropped open, and she couldn’t close it for the sheer force of her shock held it open.
The moon was different. It held the only similar trait of color from what she was to, but the shape was different. It looked...whole. The cycle tonight should have revealed some fragments of the broken moon.
It all made sense. Even though she studied maps as a young girl, she never heard of the town’s name she was in. There was no way to confirm her doubts however, as only the rich and finely dressed were allowed into the library archives. In her old life, Weiss could have easily gotten access to such a place, with her elegance and title. She wouldn’t even had to lift a finger.
But in this strange world, her stuff was taken from her, and in place of her uniform, was a flimsy prison dress, so thin that it wouldn’t even be able to protect her against a summer’s night. She wasn’t even wearing shoes. She missed shoes.
A crash sounded, making her flinch. Alerted to the noise, she turned to find a figure sprawled across the cobbled floor. He had on a long coat, dark breeches, and heeled boots. This man had some kind of power, from the way that he dressed. And from the looks of it, there was a coin pouch as well as a crested handkerchief that was hanging precariously out of his pocket.
Weiss shook her head. No. No stealing. She made it this far without pickpocketing or other forms of petty thief. And she wasn’t going to start now. But a handkerchief with the family crest of a local nobleman can get her access to countless of resources. No. But Weiss did however, walk up to the fallen man.
“Sir. Sir, are you okay?” she lowered herself down closer to the street, resting the matches on her lap. Weiss tried waking up the man by shaking his shoulder, “Sir. Sir?” The man groaned as he shifted ever so slightly to a more comfortable position. Weiss actually slapped him across the face. He was drunk, he wasn’t going to remember this. “Sir,” she said with more authority in her voice. Man, did she miss using that voice.
“Bring me home, chauffeur,” he mumbled.
“I don’t know where you live,” Weiss frowned.
“1037 Everston Street. Third house on the left...” the man said before snoring. Irritated, Weiss actually lit one of the matches, and hovered it close the man’s face. Smelling burning hair, the man woke up spontaneously, “Fire!” he shouted. At least that was enough for Weiss to successfully pull him up as he tried to scramble out of harm’s way. Weiss sighed to herself as she walked half hazardly across the increasingly foggy night. Just what was she even doing with her life anymore.
On the way there, the man even asked if he could have a light in one of the moments he fazed back to reality. Weiss asked what in the world was she even suppose to light, to which the man simply laughed heartedly and went back to half snoring and half walking.
Weiss managed to successfully carry the drunken man to his house. And what a giant house it was. Although not as big as the one she grew up in, it was of a great height and size, towering over her like a tower.
She knocked on the door firmly. Twice, three times. She had half a mind to drop the booze-reeked man right there on the doorstep. The moment Weiss was about to turn around and leave was the moment the door opened. It was a young man about her age, his hair definitely frazzled from tossing and turning in his sleep.
“Goddamnit father, not again,” the teen sighed. He ushered Weiss to come in before locking the large doors once again. “I’m terribly sorry about him. It’s been hard for him, for all of us since mother died.”
“You guys looked well off though,” Weiss commented without thinking. It was then the teen looked at her up and down. She wished he’d stop. This isn’t what I usually look like! Weiss wanted to scream.
“Well, we’re not. The servants all quit after father lost a fortune last month. They all assume it’s just going to get worse and worse. Here, let me help you carry him to his room.” The teen took the man’s other arm and the two walked through the massive mansion to the master bedroom. On the way there, Weiss learned a lot of things. She learned that the man she was carrying was a rich aristocrat (big shock there) who had recently lost a lot of his money from poor investments.
They were the Ketherson family - not like you haven’t heard of us (she hadn’t). After their mother Margaret had died, their father Duncan had done all he can in an attempt to raise them by himself. The eldest son of the household, the one she was having this one sided conversation with, was named David. Seventeen years of age he was, the same as her. Benjamin and Sebastian were the twins, both fifteen years old. Vladimir was fourteen - he’s a bit emotional these days. Ernest is twelve, trying to be older than he actually is. Christopher is ten, he’s a little shiet. And Walter is five. Innocent, adorable. Spoiled as Hell.
After the unnecessary family history lesson, the two finally made it to Duncan’s chambers. David was the one to put his father in his bed, though. “He gets cranky if he doesn’t wake up the right way,” the eldest son explained. Weiss just stood there awkwardly for a good fifteen seconds holding her matches. When David was done, he half skipped, half walked over to where Weiss was, sticking his hand out.
“David Ketherson, even though you probably know because of my rambling. I ramble a lot you know, I apologize for that-”
“Weiss Schnee,” she said, taking a hold of his hand. There was no harm in telling him her name, she supposed. It’s not like any major consequences will arise, not like she was an heiress of a controversial dust manufacturing family company in this world or anything.
“Huh,” David said quietly.
“What is it?” she asked him.
“Your name translates to white snow,” he smiled. “Are you sure it isn’t Weiß?”
“I know my own name,” Weiss said curtly.
David shrugged in understanding, “So Weiss. Do you have any place to stay for the night?”
She could tell that he was giving her a look over, subconsciously she wrapped her arms around herself. “Why, does it look like I’m homeless?”
“To be honest, yeah you do.”
“Well then Sir David, you are correct. I, Weiss Schnee am a homeless teenage female. Can I take my leave now?” The more she was in the presence of David, the hotter her face got.
“Follow me,” he simply said.
“Are you going to escort me out? How gentlemanly of you,” she sneered. But after they took a different turn than she had expected, they arrived at another set of doors.
“Please, stay for the night. It’s the least we can do for you. Feel free to use the gowns, you look freezing.” Before she could retort or utter a thank you, Weiss was left alone. Did David trust her so much to not like, steal something and run off? But Weiss was too tired to run or anything. She threw the bundle of matches on the nearby vanity and buried herself on the soft mattress. Oh how she missed this. She didn’t even bother with the blankets, the feel of an actual bed was more than enough to lull her to sleep.
“Why is her hair so white? Is she old?” a small child’s voice woke her up. She started to frown. She was not even twenty yet, thank you very much. Realization of where she was hit her as she sat up abruptly.
“You’re awake!” David said, clapping his hands together. Weiss’s attention immediately drew to the young boy that was beside him, looking up at Weiss with eyes full of wonder.
“Is it a common Ketherson tradition to watch a lady while she sleeps?” Weiss muttered.
“No, no. Not at all. Walter here just wanted to wake you up. I’m accompanying him so that he wouldn’t do anything unnecessary,” David explain, holding Walter by the shoulders.
“Right,” Weiss rolled her eyes. She smacked her lips, “My mouth feels like death. Do you guys perchance have a water source I can use to rinse my mouth and wash my face with.” The surprise in David’s face was not subtle in the least. Walter however beamed as he lifted the basin from his tiny hands and dropped it on the bed. A bit of water sloshed around as some got on Weiss. Expecting her to blow a fuse, David held his breath. Instead Weiss just started to wash her face. She even used the towel to dry off her face without uttering a single word to either of the brothers.
She crawled from the bed to look below it. Seeing what she was looking for, Weiss used one of her feet to drag the chamberpot from underneath as she took some water into her mouth.
With precision, she spit the dirty mouth water into the pot without spilling a drop. She looked at the brothers, who stared back at her with bewildered eyes.
“Awesome!” Walter chirped.
“So are you guys going to stay there, or are you going to actually give me a brief moment of privacy?”
Confused at first, until Weiss pointed to the pot itself was when David started to tint redness. He scooted his younger brother out of the room. With a soft click of the door, Weiss finally had the time and place to relieve herself. Although not as ideal as a modern toilet with a flushing mechanic, it was better than pissing on the streets like a stray dog.
After cleaning herself, she poked her head out to inquire David about where to empty and wash the chamberpot. After spending days on the streets and minimal ones in actual inns, Weiss had now develop little qualms about her P’s and Q’s. After completing her first chore for the day, she walked back to her temporary room and returned the pot to its original position. When she exited the room, she saw David with another boy she didn’t recognize fiddling with his tie.
“How are you feeling?” David asked her.
“As fresh as I’ll ever be,” she shrugged.
Weiss followed David and the younger boy - Christopher out to a spacious dining hall. She was greeted by the drunken man from last night. Except now he was less drunken and more proper. Although the bags under his eyes made him look like shit. His mustache was also no longer there. Apparently singing one side of it meant that the only way of fixing it was to shave it all off.
“Weiss, I am terribly sorry for my behavior last night. I hope I wasn’t too much trouble,” he said, sticking out his hand.
The white haired teen grasped at it firmly, “I’m sorry about the mustache. Also, I heard a hot toddy works wonders for hangovers.”
Duncan laughed at that, “Ah, thank you. And no worries, I was planning to take if off sooner or later. I heard it makes the face look younger.”
“You certainly don’t see a lot of adolescents with such facial hair,” Weiss commented. There was a knock on the main doors, making David excuse himself to leave. “I suppose that it is all pretty lonely, in this big house of yours with no servants,” she continued.
“We make do,” Duncan smiled. David soon returned with an envelope in his hand.
“What is it, David?” the father asked his son.
“It’s a royal ball invitation, sir,” the son replied. Weiss blinked. Fancy.
“I guess I’ll be taking my leave now. Thanks for the bed,” Weiss said as she started to head for the door.
“Nonsense!” Duncan declared. “You’re coming with us as our guest.” In that moment Weiss saw an opportunity open its doors. There was no way she was going to let this slide. So many resources she can access, so many people she can question. She knows how to act like a lady. She can charm her way into some important info. It was a ball for goodness sakes. There was bound to be...interesting people there that had...interesting interests. Particularly the conspiracy types. With an emphasis on magical books and dimension jumping.
“You’re wearing mum’s dress,” Christopher said.
“I can go back and change,” Weiss said, pointing back into her room, specifically to the jail clothes that were neatly folded on the side table.
“No, no. It’s fine. Really,” David assured her. “They weren’t going to be worn anytime soon, anyways. It looks good on you.”
“Oh, I just knew that it would fit you,” Duncan said. Weiss’s stomach began to growl. She hadn’t eaten in a day after all.
“Someone’s eager to eat,” Benjamin commented.
“Very eager,” Sebastian joined in.
“I might have lost a bit of money, but I still know how to treat a guest properly,” Duncan said.
“A bit?” Benjamin required.
“I think he meant a lot,” Sebastian corrected.
“No dilly dallying,” Duncan said, ignoring the trouble making twins. They had breakfast to catch. Not in the literal sense. Just that they needed to eat breakfast before it was too late so that it was counted as brunch instead of breakfast. Anyways. Weiss had her fill in what seemed like forever. She was thankfully not uncivilized for so long that she forgot her table manners. Asking where to wash a chamberpot was one thing, but forgetting something that was drilled into her the day she could hold a fork was hard to do.
“You eat like a richman,” Vladimir said. “Christopher can’t even hold a spoon properly.”
“I can too!” the child pouted.
“Who said I wasn’t a richman?” Weiss said, not once did her elbow touch the surface of the table. Ernest noticed this and casually slid his elbows off as subtle as he could, pretending like he wasn’t doing so for the last thirty minutes. Weiss knew that all of them wanted to say things like your clothes, no shoes, your smell. What she wouldn’t give right now to have a running water shower with her favorite rosewater body wash. Don’t tell Ruby that, she’d go ballistic. Thankfully, there was a few chuckles around the table at Weiss’s apparent ‘joke’.
“So, Weiss. What do you think you’re going to wear to the ball tonight? A lady such as yourself has to have the prettiest dress,” Duncan said.
“I’m fine with whatever is left of Mrs. Ketherson’s closet,” Weiss said simply.
“No sir, I insist. I am fine. Unless you do not want me wearing your passed wife’s garments, I am content with doing so.”
And that was that. David refrained from pointing out that Weiss did in fact chose the most expensive dress. It really suit her after all. And even though she had decided to put her hair in the most obscure style, a side ponytail - not one in the back, not two on the side, a single one on the right side of her head, with no curls or ringlets whatsoever - really fit her. It fit her personality, her behavior, her image. David smiled, perhaps tonight’s ball would actually be fun.
“Mirror, mirror, in my hand. Who is the fairest in all the land?” the queen bemused herself as she rested in her oversized throne. It was silly, the fact that she already knew the answer to the question, and yet she asks it daily. Actually, she has been so busy in the last few days with queenly duties that she hasn’t had the time to ask it anything in that time. It was always her, though. That was obvious. The mirror of course had once mistakenly told her of a Margaret Ketherson. But that imposter was taken care of quickly. No need to have individuals to confuse her naive and innocent mirror.
Imagine her surprise when it replied, “Weiss Schnee, is she.” This answer knocked the queen back into an upright position.
“Who?” the queen asked, a vein practically throbbing on her temple.
“I do not wish to repeat myself madam, but Weiss Schnee’s the fairest I fathom,” the mirror replied.
“...Don’t you mean Weiß?”
“Although it is indeed ‘White’ that is her name, she claims it is pronounced under a different frame.”
The queen pinched the bridge of her nose.
Chapter 4: Acolyte
Trying to fit all chapters on one doc is very hectic. It’s actually starting to lag because of all the words on here. Thank you for reviewing, it motivates me to write more! And wow, look at all you silent followers. Also (if you haven't noticed), I whipped up a quick cover image for this fic! You can barely see the details, and I’m not if you can, so here’s a link to a larger file of it.
I am so sorry about the hiatus. High school graduation stuff began to happen, vacation’s shitty wi-fi happened so I couldn't even access Google Docs properly, and then college began to happen.
The beast was very attentive to Blake’s needs. Even though they couldn’t hold a conversation, the beast has its own way of speaking with her. It felt strange for Blake, as she only referred to it by ‘beast’ in her thoughts and ‘you’ when she actually speaks to it. Maybe the beast even had a gender and she was making the situation awkward by calling him/her/them an it.
“Do you have a name?” she asked it one day. The beast stared at her with all three pair of its eyes. She was sure that all three of them had their own individual consciousness and awareness, but the three of them were so in sync with each other for the majority of the time that Blake sometimes misplaces that information. Or maybe they were all one big sentient anomaly of a creature and the the other two heads were accesories, or body part that the main hub can control at will. In the end, Blake couldn’t really tell. “Can I call you Adam?”
Adam replied with three licks - one from each head. Guess that’s a yes. Adam sniffed the flower in her hair playfully. The beast had given it to her just a few hours ago. When she put it in her hair, Adam leapt around in a circle gracefully to express its happiness. It was a beautiful red rose. Blake couldn’t help but notice the large rose bushes that adorned the outside of the cave. The entrance looked like Ruby was misusing her semblance to win a 100 meter dash.
Lately, Blake has been allowed to leave the cave. Although she hated being put on a chain, she knew that it was just Adam being motherly...fatherly...parent-like. She wondered if it had to do with her faunus features. Not to mention she felt threatened by the power of the beast. Sure, she could probably take the beast on for a good long fight. But without her Gambol Shroud, who knows how long she’d last. She even tried using Shadow, only for Adam to find out right away by kicking the fake her right in the kidney.
Perhaps it would be best to wait for the beast to trust her enough for her to venture out alone. She needed a way to find some way to connect with her team, to get back to Beacon. Her scroll was useless and after half a day trying to get it to work, she flat out gave up on reviving the thing.
It was a warm afternoon that the beast was a lot more touchy than usual. The heads kept nipping at her until she gave them attention.
“What is it, Adam?” Blake said the the beast as she softly batted one of the heads away. The beast walked to the mouth of the cavern and sat down, looking like it was waiting for her to do something. “Do you...want me to follow you?” she wondered.
Adam bowed their heads and turned around. Blake jumped at the opportunity to get her legs stretched. She had been feeling a bit sluggish lately from the lack of training.
For what seemed like hours, but was probably around half of an hour or so. Time passed by slowly if you’re simply walking in silence. She felt a small breeze and Blake found herself basking in the cool wind as it flew past her. Instinctively her cat ears twitched, and she found herself blushing. She had grown accustomed to her bow, and now she felt a part of her was missing.
The forest was undeniably pretty. It was almost as red as Forever Fall, but no where near has inhabited. There were no critters in sight, no chirping or cawing of birds, or sounds of violent humming of wasps anywhere. It was odd, and downright creepy. The lack of life juxtaposed with the beauty of the forest made no sense whatsoever. The faunus silently wondered if this had anything to do with Adam.
Blake almost crashed into Adam when the beast abruptly stopped and went down on all fours. The trees were lower in this area, but there was some sort of pathway. The raven haired female had to crouch slightly to be able to walk through the hidden passage. The further they walked, the denser the low hanging branches became. Thank god she was a faunus, for that still enabled her to see clearly where they were headed. Which was still straight on, she had to admit.
They finally met a clearing, and Blake was grateful that she was finally able to straighten her back. Anymore and she would probably have given herself scoliosis, which would have actually be some sort of miracle in itself because then her spine would have been bent sideways. Also, she was pretty sure it is impossible to have scoliosis in another way other than growth.
When she finally stopped worrying about her backpain, Blake realized her surroundings. It was dark, but it had a blue hue to it. There were tiny sources of light, fireflies, she realized. A lake that rested in the center of the domed area had a beautiful effect on the fireflies, reflecting the lights in a glazed manner.
There was another light source, floating above the surface of the water. It was a sort of orb, where a bubble of light was surrounding a singular object. It was a rose, looking like it had seen better days. It still had the thorns on its stem, and the leaves looked a healthy green. She noted how strange it was that there were only three leaves on the stem nestled below the sepals, despite the fact that rose leaves were supposed to alternate. But the rose itself had lost many petals, and it looked like it was still losing more. Blake looked at it strangely, not really getting the symbolism of the flower inside of the orb.
“Is that yours?” Blake asked Adam. One of the beast’s heads lowered itself to nuzzle her cheek. She took it as a yes. “It’s beautiful. This place is wondrous, and it feels magical. It feels safe. But I can’t help but notice the rose is out of place. Shouldn’t you replace it?” Adam’s rose bushes had many possible healthy replacements.
Adam closed all three sets of eyes and shook their heads slowly. Their ears were actually flattened, just to emphasize more on their sadness.
“You mean you can’t replace it?” she asked. The middle head nodded, while the other two looked a bit glum. “Does it represent something?”
The moment the words escaped her lips, a rose petal detached itself from the rose. Adam’s ears flattened once again and Blake noticed a change immediately. The moment the petal reached the edge of the orb, the red petal turned grey as it withered out of existence. Blake gasped as Adam’s body slumped a bit. e beast fell down on all fours as the heads began to groan in sadness and possibly agony.
Adam’s horns had lost a bit of its sheen. The furs on their body became more coarse in the most subtle of ways. Adam’s claws protracted, and through her faunus eyes, Blake noticed that they were a bit duller. The change was so little, but it gave Blake enough information on why the rose was important. It was Adam’s life source, and it was dying.
After Adam recovered from his...whatever it was, Blake helped the beast to stand. No longer being able to stand on their hind legs alone, Adam’s body was now tetrapod-like, needing to be on all four paws to support the body now. Adam looked older, and less menacing, but now it felt like he needed Blake more so than ever. They made the trek back to the cave in silence. Blake has had enough adventure for one day.
She was rubbing Adam affectionately at the scruff of the neck when she finally heard the sound of people. Humans. On high alert, Adam signaled for Blake to stay.
“Oh, savage one. Please partake in my daughter, pure and innocent from all sins,” a male voice rang out. What in the. Blake snuke closer to the mouth of the cave. There was a group of shrouded people, dressed in grey cloaks aside from the one dressed in white. Like a wedding dress - oh.
There was sobbing coming from the one dressed in white. Oh no. “Adam,” Blake whispered. One of Adam’s ears twitched, but the beast did not move. “Adam.”
“Who goes there!” said one of the cloaked individuals from the back. A strong male voice, holding up a rifle. Blake held up her hands and stepped into the light, much to Adam’s discontent. A head turned around to meet Blake’s eyes. She glared back at Adam, unsure of what to feel about the whole situation.
“It’s the she-demon,” someone hissed.
“I thought you threw it into the river!” another chimed in. One of Blake’s cat ears twitched. It?
“What’s going on?” Blake decided to ask the group of suspicious individuals. To the extent of which they would answer truthfully was unclear - but it was a gamble she was willing to make. At this point, she just wanted answers.
“Offering for the beast!” one of them said.
“Virgin bride!” another declared.
“Prettiest in the village!,” one more chimed in.
“Why would you do such a thing like that?” Blake asked them. She had a small inkling, but it was best to just ask them. She hoped she was wrong.
“Satisfy the beast!”
“Peace for the village!”
“Tradition for pacification!”
Now Blake was really frowning. “Adam, do you really accept such offers?” Adam didn’t look at her. Their heads were facing the crowd instead. Blake stepped forward cautiously. With a swing of its tail, the beast knocks Blake backwards. She felt the air rush out of her lungs in surprise. All three heads gave a giant roar as the group of villagers started to scurry away.
The female dressed in white started to whimper, “Wait, don’t leave me!” But her cries were left ignored as her people continued to abandoned her. The female collapsed as she started to cry. Ignoring a huff from the beast, Blake ran towards the girl to comfort her.
It took a long time for the girl to calm down, but her nose was still red and she refused to move from the deepest, darkest part of the cave. She was rolled up into a ball, staring blankly at the roaring fire that was near the mouth of the grotto. From the fire, Blake could hear the girl’s stomach growl, and she curled into an even smaller ball, hiding her face.
Blake took two of the staked fish from the fire pit. Taking a giant leaf as a plate, she carefully laid the fish upon it. The beast snorted in disapproval, to which she gave him a small frown. Blake walked up to the ball of a girl clad in white, the stranger flinched when when she sat down beside her. The raven haired faunus handed her one of the fish nonchalantly, but the girl tried to ignore it.
“You’re hungry. Eat,” Blake said simply, the sacrifice turned her head into another direction.
“If I eat, I will never be able to leave,” she sniffed.
Blake rolled her eyes, “This is a cave in the middle of the woods, not a demon realm.”
“It might as well be.”
When the girl refused to move a muscle, Blake sighed and started to eat her portion of fish. After finishing about half of her fish, the girl took the remaining stake with trembling hands. Nibbling on it gingerly, it didn’t take long for her to end up scarfing it down like an animal. Despite the speed that she was devouring the fish, Blake was eternally surprised at the fact that she had yet to choke on a fish bone.
“You still hungry?” Blake asked the girl, slightly surprised at the sudden aggressiveness in the girl’s demeanor. The girl - whom Blake was tempted to just call Weiss because of the color of her garments - flinched as she noticed she was being watched. Slowly, she nodded, a hint of redness in her cheeks. Blake walked back to the fire and picked up another stick of impaled fish and brought it to the girl. “Behave yourself,” she scolded Adam in a low whisper.
The beast flicked his tail in a nonchalant manner, You don’t tell me what to do, it seemed to say. Adam then stood up from the fire, stared at the golden eyed girl for a moment, before sashaying its way out of the cave. It was about time it patrolled the forest anyways. Blake walked back to the girl and gave her the stick. “What’s your name? I think it’s rude of me to keep calling you girl.”
“If I give you my name, I might never make it home again,” Weiss Mk. II said quietly as she took the fish from Blake’s hands. Blake sighed. This one was stubborn. What was she, a demon that traps mortal souls if they sign off their name on a contract?
“My name is Blake Belladonna,” the faunus sighed, alerting a look of recognition from the young girl. “Is something the matter?”
“No...no,” the girl said. “It’s...nothing,” the girl returned to gnawing on the fish.
Blake took a deep breath, “I think you should leave.”
“What?” the girl said, almost choking on her food.
“You need to go home,” Blake said. The girl’s eyes grew wide.
“No, no I can’t do that-”
“You’ve been complaining about not being to go home anymore for the past few hours since you’ve been here, and now that I tell you to go, you refuse to?” she couldn’t help but notice that her voice was beginning to rise. This girl was really starting to crawl under her skin. Was there no end to this roundabout way of avoiding sanity and straightforward thinking?
“If I leave...the beast-”
“The beast will have me,” Blake said.
“I know I’m selfish,” the girl admitted. “I want to go home more than anything. But if I leave, then the beast will attack my village. If I am docile and let the beast do whatever it wants, there is a chance I would be spared from a treacherous death. I want to go home. But I can’t. Even if I do as you said, and I take your word that you will be there for the beast, my village will no longer accept me, for I have run away from my duties. I would have no home, I no longer have a home to return to.”
“Then you either have to just go right now, or you stay here and don’t complain. There is no reason why you should starve yourself if you believe what you are doing this for the greater good of your village,” Blake seethed.
In a way, she understood what the girl meant. She too wanted to go home, but she can’t. She was in a safe place, Adam made sure of that. But she just wanted to go home. She just had to trust Adam would soon trust her enough to release her. He was helping her heal steadily. As much of a sloth as she might feel right now, she couldn’t deny that she feel her strength returning to her. If it weren’t for Adam, she would have drowned. Now that she had gotten to know the beast better, even if she had her dear weapon with her, she wouldn’t use it to violently attack Adam to escape.
Adam was a gentle beast. But her primal curiosity gnawed at the back of her mind. What did Adam do to these people to instill such fear in them? “How often does this happen?”
“What do you mean?” the girl looked up to Blake.
“How often does your village ruthlessly abandon one of their kin in the middle of a forest?”
The bride shrugged, “Every three decades or so, or until the beast returns the dress.”
Blake had to do a double take to make sure she had heard the girl right. “What?”
“That’s about how long every offering survives,” the girl explains. “After the beast accepts his bride, she will live with him until her she dies or the beast kills her. In return, the beast protects the village from bandits and evil.”
“The needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. Or in this case, just one,” Blake was beginning to see the reasoning behind this strange ritual. It was ruthless and primitive. The girl nodded. “But what would happen if the beast is dead?”
“That can’t happen, it is immortal.”
“But Ada-the beast, it is dying,” Blake said solemnly.
“How do you know that?” the girl narrowed her eyes skeptically.
“I just know,” the faunus truthfully answered. She had seen the proof before her very eyes. There was a rose in the middle of the forest that is slowly withering away, and with every petal that is dropped, the weaker the beast gets. Blake could only assume that when all petals are gone, that would be the end of the beast.
“You are lying,” the girl confronted Blake. The faunus felt her cat ears flatten against her skull.
“What gain do I get from lying to you?” Blake said through gritted teeth. The girl was really trying her patience. The fire that was left in the pit was not tended to for a long time, so it started to wither away. Blake would usually feed the fire at this time, but she was being distracted. Besides for warmth, she had no need for a fire. The rage bubbling in her veins was enough to keep her warm as of the moment.
“I..don’t know. But creatures like you are bad omens and they tend to lie,” the girl watched the fire die out nervously. The cave was sent into complete darkness as the life of the flames ceased to exist when a strong burst of wind wafted its way into the cave. The girl returned to hugging her knees close to her body, terrified of the darkness.
Blake frowned in disgust, “Creatures like me?”
“Are you not some sort of beast as well?” the girl asked Blake. The faunus glared at the human, slightly angered.
“I’m a faunus,” she replied flatly. She was used to this type of treatment towards her kind. But if she wanted this female to trust her, Blake decided to be least animostic as possible.
“What is a faunus?” despite the darkness of the cave, Blake could see the girl’s genuine curiosity. For once Blake had no words for the girl.
“I...I don’t...” she started to stammer. This was a whole nother loop that she never expected to go through. “It would take a long time to explain.”
“Well, Miss Belladonna. It’s not like I’m going anywhere tonight.”
Chapter 5: Absence
NGL, got a review that kinda made me upset. It was pretty rude, and made me stop writing because of it. But then I thought about the other readers so I will keep writing. I got a beta reader! I was about to hold off updating so soon, but I think it’s something you guys deserve. Most of you guys. It’s an apology for the unplanned hiatus. Remember kids, don’t be a dickweed!
Any previous ill feelings or anger Yang had toward her team was now replaced with fear and worry. They all just...vanished. Team JNPR had no idea where they are, heck even team freaking CRDL couldn’t spill any useful information for the sake of their nutsacks. It was not a surprise that Ozpin and Goodwitch were both concerned for the current state team RWBY was in.
Three young girls couldn’t just disappear into thin air. Well, technically, they probably could if someone’s with such a semblance was inclined to hit them with their power, but it was unlikely. And it was also unlikely for the girls to have run away, without a notice, rhyme or reason. They all wanted to be Huntresses after all. Why give up when they were doing so well?
Yang stared up blankly from her bed. It was too quiet without her other teammates. It was also unbearable to even attend class, with eyes full of pity following her everywhere she went. Even her friends started to treat her differently, gentler, with more caution.
“Augh, screw this,” Yang said as she swung her legs from her bed. She needed to release some steam. After changing to her usual attire, she made her way to the training room, mercilessly beat a bunch of students (within reason) until she started to sweat bullets. That definitely hit the spot.
When news that Glynda Goodwitch was starting to make rounds to the area arrived, Yang made sure to split as soon as possible. She had been skipping classes shortly after her team’s disappearance. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, Yang started a slow walk back to her room. She would never wear her uniform with damp hair - or anything with damp hair, but the young blonde was kinda out of it today.
As she walked, she got lost in her own mind. Her train of thoughts drifted from her sister to Blake. Even Weiss was there, and Yang was worried sick for all of them. When the blonde snapped back into reality, she found herself in front of the school library.
“Where it all began,” she mumbled to herself. Yang flipped her half dried hair from her shoulders before stepping through the doors. She stared at the tall shelves of books, eyeing them with sadness. It was then that she came across the big book that Ruby and Blake were interested it. Tilting her head to the side, she squinted at the fancy script to read the title, “Vytal’s Fairy Tales...”
The curiosity got the better of her, she took the book from the shelf. With ease, she carried the heavy tome to a secluded area of the library, somewhere no one would disturb her. Yang settled quietly into a corner. She didn’t like reading much, but the blonde had to do something to get her mind off of her friends and sister. When she opened the cover, the smell of old paper drifted to her nose, making the bridge scrunch up. Foul.
The letters were dancing, and Yang had to narrow her eyes to make them stop. Slowly, she was able to make out the words. The Table of Contents, a magical place where all the chapters are put together in order for the conveniences and sanity of the readers. For some reason, certain chapters caught her eye, despite them having no connections to one another. Or did they? Little Red-Cap, Schneewittchen, The Beast King.
Those sound vastly different from one another, but the words were drawing Yang in. She felt an odd sensation coming over her to start reading these stories. To complete them. The blonde felt like something incredible would happen if she were to finish these particular works of literature.
So she turned to the first of the three stories. Little Red-Cap. On the title page for the story, there was a small picture. It had an aged style of drawing, dark and brooding lines that made the picture more grim. The colors were muddy, but it didn’t take away the main point of the illustration.
The focus of the picture alone made Yang gasped. It was a picture of a young girl, with a basket in hand. She was surrounded by dense, tall, dead trees that reached far above her. But what Yang noticed the most about the girl was how a red hood was bellowing behind her.
There was no denying the similarity the girl had to Ruby, which made Yang all the more curious. She was about to start her literary adventure when she heard a clearing of a throat behind her. She almost jumped out of her seat as she nervously turned her head behind her. Sure enough, it was a sterned Goodwitch, not at all impressed by Yang’s actions as of late.
“Professor Goodwitch!” Yang said with a wry smile. “How have you been?”
“I should be the one to ask you that question, Miss Xiao Long,” Glynda replied. Her glasses was doing that menacing glare thing, and Yang could only gulp in distress.
After a good tongue lashing and a stinging wrist, Yang was finally able to leave the interrogation room. She had at least three times the homework load as before, but that wasn’t the reason why she felt miserable. Her team was still missing, and now she was sure it had something to do with that book she found in the library. With great strides as fast as her legs could carry her, Yang made her way to the library, only to have the doors locked.
“Crap!” Yang said, pounding a first on the door. This alerted the attention of some of the students that were still sparsely spread throughout the hallway. She ignored them as she angrily stomped back to her dorm room. With her face still fuming, she passive aggressively got into her bed and tried her best to go to sleep. Her face was still scowling until sleep softened her face as she slipped into dreamland.
Yang awoke from a knock on her door. Sleepily, she smacked her lips and scowled. She had forgotten to brush her teeth last night and her mouth tasted like death. Half blind with partially lidded eyes, Yang grasped randomly at the air in front of her as she made her way to the door.
"Jaune," she said with mild surprise. Rubbing her eyes, she gave out a tiny yawn. Jaune suppressed his urge to yawn as well, clearing his throat in the process.
"Hey Yang," he said. Looking past her shoulders, he noticed that the room was still empty. "They're still not back, yet?"
Yang solemnly look back at the empty beds. She sighed, "Looks like it..."
He then noticed that she was dressed in her uniform. A little bit ruffled here and there, like she slept in it. Seeing how groggy she looked, he assumed she probably did. "Are you going to class today?" his voice was hopeful.
"What?" She looked down to see herself in a ragged state of dress. “Oh. No, I’m not.”
Jaune’s face fell, “Yang, we have a midterm today.”
“I don’t care,” she hasn’t been studying lately anyways.
The male clutched at his hair, “It’s worth ten percent of our final grade!”
“How can I care about my grades at a time like this?” Yang’s eyes glowed red, causing Jaune to take a step back. “They haven’t called, I can’t contact them with my scroll, they’ve been gone for a week, no one in the city has seen neither hair nor hide of them. I don’t know where they are or if they’re safe. I don’t even know if they’re alive, so how can I care about my grade right now?”
Jaune’s face became stern, even taking a step forward as a sign of confidence, “Because if you don’t, how do you think they’ll feel when they come back and you’re failing out of Beacon? They’re alive, Yang. I can feel it, and you should be ashamed to assume otherwise. They’re strong girls, you know they are. But like everybody else, they need support, and if you don’t support them as a member of their team, who else will? You’re the only one that’s left, Yang. You need to be well, you need to be the hard worker that you always were. Because they need you.”
It was Yang’s turn to take a step backwards. Her eyes returned to lilac, and she gave him a smile, “Wow, Janue. Didn’t know you had it in you. Thanks.” she reached out to ruffle his hair. She was about to fully shut the door before opening it to peek out to say, “I’ll get ready.”
Jaune scratched the back of his head with a nervous smile, “See you in class, Yang.”
“See you in class, vomit boy,” she replied before closing the door.
“H-hey!” there was a vivid blush on his face. He thought everyone got over that, already.
Oh how Yang regretted not touching a textbook for the last week. She always gets extra time during her exams - especially on a midterm, but extra time isn’t going to help her if she doesn’t remember squat! The brawler was bouncing her leg impatiently like there was no tomorrow. So much so that she was distracting her fellow classmates. Doctor Oobleck noticed this with a frown.
“Miss Xiao Long,” he said, alerting the attention of the blonde. “Please come outside with me, we need to talk.”
Yang got up from her seat to follow the Professor - ahem, Doctor. She shot Jaune a nervous look, the boy could do nothing but give her a good luck gesture and a shrug. Outside of the class, Oobleck was stationed near the door so that he could still keep an eye on the remaining students.
“Miss Xiao Long,” he repeated her name. “Perhaps you already know why I have asked for your presence outside of the classroom ,whereas you are suppose to be inside, taking the midterm along with the other students.” He abruptly opened the door and rushed inside, “Mr. Winchester, if you so look at anyone’s papers again, I will not hesitate to take the test back and - although with the deepest regrets I assure you - fail you on this exam.” He zoomed back outside of the classroom to shut the door. “Please excuse the interruption.”
“Yes, of course,” she said. There was an awkward pause as they both waited for the other to talk.
“I know it is difficult” Doctor Oobleck started.
“I can explain-” Yang began. The two had noticed their overlapping words, and both stopped at the same time to not interrupt the other.
Doctor Oobleck lifted his palm in a polite manner, “You first, Miss Xiao Long.”
Yang took a deep breath, “I am sorry. I have been slacking on my academics, spending most of my time in the city. I have not been in class at all lately, and then I showed up nonchalantly on the day of the midterm, only to be a distraction.” The Hunter noticed the bags underneath the youth’s eyes.
“You are correct, you have been lax lately. And I must sympathize with you. It must have been a significant struggle for you to deal with the status of your team and balance that as well with your studies. But Miss Xiao Long, if you had bothered to speak with me during this duration, I would have gladly given you an extension.”
Her eyes widened, “You really mean it.”
“Yes. But I’ll have you know that you and your team will have a different exam, as you have already seen the questions.”
Damnit, was what Yang would have normally though, but this was more than she could have ever imagined.
“Thank you, Doctor Oobleck!” she was pumped. Yang was given another chance. She would have hugged the good Doctor, if it wasn’t socially awkward to do so. So she instead gave a bow before rushing off. She was still within hearing range to hear the Doctor return the class.
“Mr. Winchester! You papers, please.”
In hindsight, she should have really talked to her Professors before playing detective in finding her teammates. But she just got off scott-free in the only midterm she had today. Now she was following her gut feeling as she headed to the direction of the library.
Her search for the giant book failed, resulting in her asking the student librarian. She was a cute freckled faunus girl with tall horns sticking out of her head. She seemed indifferent when Yang asked her for the book. The gazelle faunus pointed to the cart of books that students were suppose to return the books to after they have finished reading them or had forgotten where the books belonged. The blonde chucked nervously. She basically already had two strikes on that department. She tried her best as she could to ignore the daggers the girl was boring into her back with her eyes.
“I’ll return it this time, I promise,” Yang said. Miss gazelle seemed satisfied with that answer, and returned to checking back in returned books. The blonde stopped in her tracks as she noticed how crowded the library was. It was midterm week, and everyone in every grade was cramming as much as they could.
On second thought, Yang walked over to the self checkout station. There was a line, and technically she could have saved time just asking the assistant to check it out for her, but Yang didn’t feel like being judged checking out a fictional book during this time of the year. You know, when she’s suppose to be studying.
When it was her turn, Yang took out her scroll and placed it on the checkout machine. After entering her pin, she rested the book below the scanner of the machine. A green light beeped and after Yang pressed the Finished button, the machine asked if she wanted a receipt. For some odd reason, Yang had anticipated something to go horribly gone, but she was grateful that this was going without a hitch. On reflex, she printed out a receipt, even though she wasn’t going to forget what she had just checked out anytime soon.
She locked the door on her dorm room and nestled in a comfortable of a position as she could with the giant tome. Yang flipped to the Little Red-Cap story and began to read.
Once upon a time, there was a dear little girl that showed up to a welcoming village. The girl showed up with a red cape, and strange tales from a world unknown to the villagers. But she was kind and exuberant, so she made friends with everyone who gave her a listen. She was loved by everyone who met her, and she too came to love them. Because of the red hood she always wore, the people of the village called her Red.
Kind of like Ruby, Yang thought. But the only people that called her Red was Roman.
One day, a sickness struck the town. And because Red was not of the village, she was not inflicted with the disease. The most wicked and the most elderly of the village had lived in the deepness of the forest, and she was far too powerful and far too malicious for the people of the village. Envious of their happiness, she put a spell that would teach them a lesson.
Come, young Red, a sickly man said to her. Please take this to the elder and appease her, he instructed. He handed her a basket of wine, bread, cakes, fresh fruit and cheese. They were the best of the best the village can offer the witch. The woods are treacherous, he informed her. Stick close to the path, do not let anything lead you astray.
I won’t, Red told the man. Putting her red hood over her head, she started her way to the the village witch. She took an axe along on her journey, wary of the man’s words.
After several minutes she had entered the woods, a wolf met her. Red was not at all afraid of him.
Yang didn’t trust this sly bastard at all.
Good-day, little Red, said he.
How do you know my name, she questioned.
No matter, the wolf replied. Cooly, the wolf asked, Whither you are going, little Red?
It is of no concern to you, strange wolf, said she. Red held up her weapon.
The wolf slinked back, for he was a smart wolf. With the village dying and the basket with the most delectable of scents in her hand, the wolf quickly concluded that little Red was to make an offering to his Master. Surely his Master would reward him if he were to warn his Master of this young girl. Without a word to little Red, the wolf retreated.
The wolf thought to himself, How long has it been since I’ve had human?
There was a knock on her door the second time that day. Yang huffed angrily as she laid the book aside to answer it.
“What?” she said rudely as she opened the door, only to regret it a heartbeat later. It was just team JNPR at the door, visiting to wonder if she was okay. These visits were frequent, and only has become a nuisance fairly recently. But they are only worried about her, and she was grateful for that. “Oh sorry. How can I help you?”
Pyrrha was the first to speak, “You were called out during the exam. Is something the matter, Yang?”
“Nothing. Doctor Oobleck gave me more time to prepare. He says I can have a redo with my team when the others come back.” Although this probably meant the second version would be even harder.
“Thank goodness,” Nora perked up. “We don’t have to break his legs, now!”
“We weren’t even going to in the first place,” Ren muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, and attacking a staff member outside of training purposes would certainly lead to expulsion,” Jaune commented. This made Nora pout.
“Aaw,” she complained.
Yang couldn’t help but smile, “Don’t worry guys. I can take care of myself - for now. If I need help, I’ll ask, okay?”
“Whatever you need,” Jaune supplied. Normally, Yang would ask how the other team did on the exam, and possible even try to pry sample questions from them. But Little Red-Cap’s story wasn’t going to finish by itself.
Elizabeth and Amelia passed away, along with a third of the town. It was then that Ruby heard of Her. She was a witch, and She was the cause of this. At first, town folk were skeptical, but soon the fear set in as more and more deaths occurred. Thomas could barely drink water now - let alone eat gruel, and the Hudsons’ fevers were getting worse. But Ruby was still fine. Still healthy. So the hooded girl was not surprised when some of the sick knocked at the door.
“Mr. Jetsons, you shouldn’t be up!” Ruby exclaimed when she saw the pale man before the doorstep. He hacked into his handkerchief, and Ruby swore she saw red.
“Red, Red. Please, only you can help,” he coughed. “They’re coming for you, too...”
The man staggered a bit before Ruby caught him, guiding him indoors. Jetsons was the book store owner. He was kind to her, and let her loiter in his store for as long as she needed. Despite the fact that Ruby couldn’t read, he was happy to see such a youth be interested in knowledge and books. He had even started to teach her how to read the words, and when he saw Ruby writing her own notes in a strange script, he knew she was more than meets the eye.
“Please, my dear girl,” Mr. Jetsons said, being as cryptic as ever.
“How, how can I help?” Ruby asked eagerly.
“It seems you are the only one of us unaffected by the Elder's spell. It is dangerous...but I implore you. Please, you’re the only one that is healthy enough to give the offering.”
“Who?” Ruby asked. She thought village elders were suppose to be wise old people that gave advice to those that need it. The villagers would seek them out for aid and guidance in dark times. She didn’t think village elders would be evil pricks that made their people die from a magical disease.
“If you come to my house, my wife has prepared a basket. She too is sick, so please do not bother her too much. I am dreadfully sorry that I couldn't bring it with me. For I feared that in my state, a tragedy would undoubtedly befall upon the offering."
"Yes. I mean no, I mean it's okay, Mr. Jetsons. I will get the basket and deliver it to the Elder," Ruby did her best to get the old man into her cot. He needed the bed more than she did. After tucking him in, feeding him water, and checking on the Hudsons, Ruby was confident they would survive until she returned. Just to be sure, she checked in on Mr. Jetsons one more time.
It was then that she realized she had no idea where the Elder lived. As she changed his already heated towel, the old man seemed to have read her mind as he started to rasp, "Her house is in the deepest part of the woods, Red. The path will lead straight to her house. About a league is the distance, if you meet a golden valley you have gone too far."
Ruby nodded as she soaked in this information. How long was a league?
The Jetsons household front door was unlocked. Ruby carefully entered the darkened house. The atmosphere was stifling and melancholic.
“Sorry for the intrusion,” Ruby called out to no one in particular. Just as Mr. Jetsons had said, a beautifully woven basket was resting atop a large wooden table. It was covered with a dark cloth, and Ruby could see from far away that its content filled the basket to the brim. Using both of her hands on the handle of the basket, Ruby lifted the basket up. It was heavier than it looked, and Ruby was thankful that Mr. Jetsons hadn’t tried to carry it in his condition. She could carry it on one hand with no problem, however. “Thank you,” Ruby said to no one again. She was about to say, Things will get better, I promise, but now she was not so sure anymore. There was a pit in the bottom of her stomach that made her incredibly worried.
On the way to the entrance of the forest, Ruby walked past the home that didn’t even have time to tidy their front yard when the disease hit their home. At the angle that she was approaching the small house, Ruby can see a stack of firewood. An idea sparked in her head when she decided to trespass into the area near the back of the house. Sure enough and as predicted, a member of the family was in the middle of the process of chopping the logs. But they had stopped mid choir, and the axe was still lodged between a fallen oak log.
Putting the basket down temporarily, Ruby exerted enough strength to remove the ace from its bindings. She gave it a couple of swings to analyze its attributes. It wasn’t Crescent Rose, but it was good enough. This world was devoid of Grimm. A traditional axe was more than enough to execute any ill will individuals. She hoped it didn’t come to that.
The forest was dark, it was creepy, and it was downright grim. Ruby heard a rustle from a nearby bush, making her turn in the general direction of the noise. A wolf stepped out from the darkness, with grey fur and yellow glowing eyes. Gleaming fangs, and menacingly sharp claws were displayed in a fashion meant to intimidate the young girl. But Ruby was not scared in the least bit.
“How are you, Little Red?” the wolf sneered. Ruby can practically see the carnivore salivating a river.
“How do you know my name?” Ruby wondered. It was not her real name of course, but the villagers didn’t know that. And this wolf shouldn’t have known that at all.
“It doesn’t matter,” the wolf replied. It was eyeing her basket. “What is in that?”
Ruby held the basket closer to her body. She narrowed her eyes. Something was fishy, and it wasn’t the basket. There probably wasn’t even any fish in the basket - to her knowledge that is. Most likely not. Fish would be a horrible bargaining chip.
“It doesn’t concern you,” Ruby said. To make an emphasis of her point, she held up the axe in the direction of the wolf. The creature growled loudly in this throat, displease.
“It is best for you to watch you back, Little Red. Young girls shouldn’t be playing with big toys.”
“I think it’s best for you to leave,” with a flick of her hand, she made the axe twitch, as if she was planning to attack. The wolf flinched in surprise. Did-did the girl just tried to intimidate me? The wolf continued to growl, but it stepped backwards into the bushed. Most notably it stepped back into safety. Ruby lowered the axe and continued to walk down the path. She would use her semblence to get there much quicker, but the contents of the basket would probably not make it.
When she arrived at the elder’s home, Ruby couldn’t help but notice how...homely the small cottage looked. It was nestled comfortably under three large oaks, providing shade for the cozy looking abode. She knocked against the wooden door, surprised at how hollow it sounded.
The door opened by itself, the inside of the house was shrouded in complete darkness. Slowly, Ruby put a foot inside.
“Hello? Village Elder?” Ruby called out.
“You make me sound so old, dear,” a soft voice replied. Once Ruby had placed her other foot inside as well, the door closed abruptly behind her. She attempted to twist the knob open to no avail. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“That’s a bit creepy,” Ruby muttered automatically. She bit down on her tongue, hopefully her words didn’t just cause the whole village their lives. The witch didn’t seem to hear her though, thankfully.
“Come closer, dear,” the Elder ordered Ruby. The young girl cautiously stepped forward. When her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Ruby could finally make out lines and objects in the dim lighting. She could faintly see the owner of the mysterious voice, who was seated on her bed, wrapped in at least three blankets and a comforter.
Ruby couldn’t help but let out a tiny gasp of cuteness. The Elder was a small frail lady, with spectacles so large and thick that it made her eyes as large as an owl’s.
“Oh, Village Elder, what big eyes you have,” she giggled into her hood.
“All the better to see you with, Little Red.”
This made her stopped smiling. Just how many people knew her pseudonym? And she wasn’t little at all. Okay, maybe she was little, but she’s still a growing girl. She drinks her milk.
“I am here for the village,” Ruby said, holding up the basket.
“And I assume that they think that a few expensive cheeses and a good bottle of wine was going to butter me enough to remove the spell.”
Ruby lowered the basket as her face darkened, “It’s not, isn’t it?”
“But I will accept your offer under one condition.”
“What is it?” Ruby’s heart thumped. She would do anything for the village. They have done so much for her. With a shaking finger, the Elder pointed at Ruby. The young girl was immediately confused. “My hood?”
“No, Little Red.” Ruby heard a gruff voice answered her. From underneath the multiple blankets, a head popped out from the foot of the bed. The eyes were as bright as the moon, and in an instant they were gone. With great agility, the wolf leapt into the air with his jaw extended. “She wants you.”
Ruby was too surprised to even scream. But insensitively, she dropped the basket. Putting both hands on the axe, she automatically swung. She felt the warm liquid splatter against her face. The smell of blood filled the air as Ruby felt the familiar weight of cutting through a body.
But this body had a soul, and Ruby just took it away. As the head rolled off to the side, Ruby stared in shock as she tried to back up from the pool of blood slowly coming her way. She was stopped by a table, blocking her path from escaping this nightmare. This can’t be happening.
“I’m...I’m..” Ruby stammered. She dropped the axe. Bad move. The Village Elder screamed in distraught as the whole cottage began to shake. The girl had tears in her eyes, never had she killed a legitimate living being before. From her bed, the village Elder shot out a blast of magic. Snapping out of her haze, Ruby ducked and rolled out of the projectile's aim just in time. “I’m sorry,” she cried out.
The Village Elder was no longer paying attention to the young girl’s words. The old woman was infuriated, blinded by her rage. How dare the girl killed her beloved pet! Another shot of magic was released. Instinctively, Ruby grabbed an object that was near her fingers and held it up. Through mere coincidence, the magical bullet hit the head of the axe. Seeing that she had missed again, an even more angry Elder stood up to ready an incantation that would put the murderess in her place. Little Red couldn’t escape from this one even if she tried.
What she never accounted for was the missile ricocheting itself back to her. Like a ping pong on a paddle, the axe’s head deflected her magic like it was a game. With a pained gasped, she dropped to her knees, clutching at her abdomen. Slowly removing her hand from the wound, and all she could see was red. There was a smell of burning wood, feeling the warmth behind her the Elder could only conclude that the magical attack went clean through her and hit the head of the bed.
“Are you okay?” Ruby stepped toward the bed, dropping the axe again.
“Stay back,” the Elder hissed. The cottage began to shake more violently, the sound of teacups and plates starting to crash and break. From the remaining ashes of the Elder’s offensive magic, they began to glow green. “Stay back, you wretched beast. You murderer!”
“No...” Ruby sobbed as she began tearing up. She wasn’t a murderer. She wasn’t. The green residue were vibrant in color now, soon igniting into a fast spreading fire.
It surrounded Ruby, making it impossible for her to see anything before her but flames of green. Her lungs were filling up with smoke, making it hard for the young girl to breath. Without thinking, she rushed out of the cottage using her semblance. She broke the door in the process, but the pain was almost nonexistent. The rose petals fluttered in the air silently, leaving them behind to be eaten up by the fire. Soon after, the only sound was coming from the cottage now was the heavy breathing of the dying woman.
The Village Elder never anticipated she would ever get shot by her own magic. She never held back in her attacks, and because of that she knew that her time was up. She didn’t even have enough strength for one last spell. A curse, really. To torment the girl for all eternity. To make the girl remember in her every waking moment what she had done. What the Elder didn’t know was that Ruby Rose was already haunted. The Rose child would never forget this moment for as long as she lived.
Ruby ran for a long time on her semblance. Eventually, she was finally out of breath and overworked her Aura. She collapsed the moment she saw the entrance of the village, where she saw Tommy running towards her. He was yelling something to her, but Ruby couldn’t hear him. Her vision dimmed to black and her hearing muted to a dull buzz.
When little Red came to the elder woman’s cottage, she knocked on the door. Good morning! she said, but there was no reply. She found to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlor, and everything was dark. The old woman was resting in her bed, staring at the girl.
Little Red saw the appearance of she, and thinking that the woman was reminiscent of a baby owl, she giggled into her red cap. What big eyes you have, she told the elderly woman.
The woman enjoyed the humour of the young girl. All the better to see you with, she replied. The girl attempted to give the offering to the elder, only to be refused. It’s not enough, the woman explained.
Oh, but Madame, then what is it that you want?
She wants you! the wolf said as he appeared from under the elder’s blankets. With great instincts, little Red held up her axe. The elder smiled. Her wolf was right in choosing this girl. After she is worked to the bone, she would be strong enough to provide enough nutrients to her little pet. But little Red was faster and stronger than the wolf had anticipated, and with a clear swing, his life ended. The elder stopped smiling.
Little Red was a threat. And with vengeance in her mind, the elder attempted to attack little Red. But the elder was too frail and weak, and little Red was strong and young. With a swift motion and quick thinking, little Red outwitted the old woman.
And because the caster of the spell had been defeated, all the joy was brought back to the village, little Red included.
Ruby woke up in a familiar bed, She awoke to a familiar surrounding. What she didn’t expect was waking up in her Beacon dorm room. She was back. She was still in the dress Mrs. Hudson had made for her, and she still smelled of blood and smoke. There were green ashes all over her body, and her mouth was dry and parched. Her throat felt like it was going to be ripped out.
Ruby carefully slipped out of her bed, landing safely on the wooden flooring. She wanted to shower, she wanted to hug her team, she wanted to clean Crescent Rose, she wanted to drink a cup of water. But the first thing that she did instead was drop herself on Weiss’s bed and started to cry.
Almost immediately, the door burst open, a head of blonde hair rushing to her immediately. There were four heads that tried to sneak a peek too, but through her words and glare, Yang shooed them off.
“Yang, it was an accident,” Ruby sniffled.
“I know it was, but you’re back now,” Yang held her younger sister close. The blonde looked at the book on her bed nervously. It wasn’t glowing like it was a few minutes ago.
“I didn’t mean to,” her eyes were teary. The young Rose felt vile, like she just committed a sin. How could she protect the people from Remnant if her hands were bloodied? “It all happened so fast.”
Cupping her sister’s face, Yang rested her forehead against Ruby’s, “Sis, you need to breath.”
Ruby tried, but it was so hard to try to take deep breaths when you’re gasping for air between your hiccups of tears. Ruby felt Yang’s thumb brushing against her cheek. The blonde frowned. Underneath the layer of smoke was an evident amount of blood. Dried, yes. But it was still blood. The older sister’s heart skipped a beat.
“Are you hurt anywhere?” Yang said as calm as she could.
Unexpectedly, this caused Ruby to sob even more hysterically. “No...” Ruby’s following words were jumbled as she tried to explain herself. But her story was incoherent, and Yang could do nothing but hold her sister until Ruby stopped crying. The older teen could hear bits and pieces, wolf, axe, murder. Yang bit her lip. Just what did her little sister go through? But none of that mattered, because Ruby was back. And Yang knew a way to get the rest of the team back as well.
Ruby fell asleep after she cried herself out. She didn’t want to ruin her slumber, but Yang wanted Ruby to wake up as soon as possible. Ruby needed to get out of those clothes, and the younger girl could read faster than she could. Yang also wanted an explanation of what happened to the girl, what caused her to be in such a state?
Yang hovered over to the book, briefly turning it to the beginning to analyze the Table of Contents. With great care, she opened the tome to the next story. Schneewittchen. Just one look at the picture and Yang could tell who the protagonist of this certain tale was. She had half a mind to skip to Blake’s story, but in this situation, Yang didn’t have the choice to pick and choose.
The only problem I have with AO3 is italicized words not being translated for some reason when copied & pasted into the rich text. *shrugs*
Chapter 7: Arrival
I couldn't figure out how I wanted to end this chapter, so I put it off until I completely forgot about it. Then Volume 3 happened. This came out a lot longer than anticipated. Aren't you guys lucky?
I'm so sorry. I'm really bad at this.
The dance was going perfectly. It was actually a pretty cunning plan, actually. All the maidens would come to such a social occasion, and she would be able to deal with those that surpass her swiftly and perfectly. Surpass? She actually meant 'become a threat the throne', of course. It was her duty, and she always completed her duties. The queen held up her mirror, pretending to fix her hair.
"Mirror, mirror in my hand. Is the fairest here as planned?" she secretly consulted her mirror.
"With skin of porcelain and locks of snow, her current presence proceeds to grow," the hand mirror replied. The queen's nostrils flared. Did that mean she was getting more popular? Wait a minute, locks of snow? She abruptly scanned the crowd to see the girl with the obscure hairstyle. So that was Weiss Schnee.
Her majesty had no idea why the Weiss girl was considered the fairest. It looked obvious to her that she was a small child playing dress up (the corset strings weren't even properly tied - it was way too loose). And that dress. The familiarity of it tugged at her mind. She was sure she had seen it somewhere before. It was a beautiful ice blue, adorned with frost colored crystals and lined with intricately placed laced. What probably surprised the queen was the little tramp's ability to properly dance. She had some form of training, either that or she had been spying on social gatherings for the entirety of her life.
The queen knew what she had to do. Her majesty was the most talented of the land, with no one close to near her abilities. She knew how to humiliate this girl, and when she is at her weakest, the queen would strike. With grace, the queen stood up. All eyes and attention turned to her. The queen smirked. She loved it when people did that.
"I declare, a competition," the queen said. Noises rippled through the crowd. "This competition, will be legible to all the maidens in the room." Some groans were emitted from the crowd, mostly from the males. "The winner of this competition will receive one wish from me." The queen placed a hand against her chest. She empathized on the wish part. Surely a tramp such as this Weiss girl would truly want something so much to enter a contest for it. The queen knew she herself would if given the chance - and you know, if she was in such a less fortunate position of status in the first place. "Whoever can surpass me in the theme of my choosing will be declared the winner."
She had everyone's interest piqued now. Her smirk turned into a wide smile. "May the singing competition begin!"
As expected, the Weiss girl was also in the line to go. But not before the queen had her turn, first impressions are crucial for any type of social interaction - and competitions for that matter. After the queen finished her piece, the crowd applauded enthusiastically. Seeing her majesty perform was a treat in itself.
To amuse herself, the queen looked at the contestants. A few absolutely looked like they were about to faint. But that frost-like girl had her eyes closed. For some reason, this made the queen unbearably irritated. One after another the girls that lined up sang and failed. It was finally the Weiss girl's turn. Some disapproving whispers developed the crowd.
But the girl ignored all these comments, as if she was used to such words. She probably has, considering she most likely grew up on the streets. The girl took in a deep breath before beginning to sing.
"Mirror, tell me something..."
The queen's jaw dropped.
"I'm the loneliest of...all..." Weiss finished. She took a curtsey and soon the ballroom erupted into an applause. People started to chant her name. Almost her name.
"Schneewittchen! Schneewittchen!" she was about to be swarmed by the crowd of people when a hand suddenly grabbed at hers and pulled her to safety.
"David!" Weiss gasped when she saw the face of her captor. But David didn't stop and they continued to run. He didn't slow down until they reached an opened balcony, where they could hide behind some pillars away from the frantic crowd that was looking for the winning girl. The night air bit at her skin, and Weiss couldn't help but noticed that this was probably the first time she was not in the prison garb on such a night as this one.
"You didn't tell me you can sing, Schneewittchen," he said with a crooked smile.
Weiss frowned, "Why are people calling me that?"
"Well, considering your name literally translates to 'white snow', people probably reiterated it into a name befitting of that voice of yours."
This sagged Weiss's frown even more, "I don't see what is wrong with my name."
David lost his grin, "Nothing is wrong with it. Folks around here like to spontaneously make up nicknames for talents." David let go of his grip on Weiss's hand when he noticed he was still doing so. If Weiss could see in the dark, she would have seen a visible blush on his face. "It means that they like you."
"Oh," Weiss said. She was about to say something else when a guard appeared next to them, scaring the lights out of the two teens.
"Miss Schneewittchen, the queen would like your attendance," he said.
"Of course, I will be right over," Weiss said. She couldn't help but notice her new nickname sounded more like White Witch than anything else.
Her wish was simple, and the heiress didn't feel intimidated by the queen at all. When asked, Weiss simply said, "Access to all the knowledge of the kingdom."
What a strange wish, everyone thought at once. The queen automatically frowned. She couldn't be a spy, could she? A thought struck her, it was possible. She was not detected by her mirror until recently. The queen gave a coy smile. Now she knew what this little wench was after.
"Very well, but it will take several hours to give you proper documentation to access...these very crucial documents. I assure you that if you return this afternoon, everything will be set for you."
Weiss gave the queen a curtsy. This was going off without a hitch. Which meant something was going to go very wrong.
"Mother!" prince Terrence practically crawled back to the smaller throne beside the queen's.
"Yes, what is it, darling?" the queen replied. She had completely forgotten about her darling boy. That Weiss girl was way too distracting.
"Mother, I know who I want to marry," he said. Marry? The prince had hardly ever taken a liking to a lady. The queen was sure whoever it was, she would give her blessing to the couple.
"Who is it, my dear?" she cooed to her son. Not like she would allow her son to marry so soon. The queen had all intentions to reign far past her prime. Prince Terrence eagerly pointed to the girl with porcelain skin and locks of snow. The queen' jaw dropped for the second time that night.
When Weiss woke up the next morning, she felt a lot better. She had to admit that she was well rest and well fed. She wished she could say the same to her hair. Weiss debated on asking the Kethersons for a bath. If she were to guess she would have assumed baths were not commonplace in this world, evident by the frequent bodily odor masked with intense perfume that made Weiss gag if she got too close to someone. She was even told to air the ball gown in the closet instead of washing it. But a girl can only deal with an itchy scalp and oily hair for so long before she goes bonkers.
"Sure, you can even to be the first one in if you want," David told her when she asked.
Weiss's face paled at the implication, "Does that mean...you reuse the bath water?"
David looked at her oddly, as if she just questioned something so obvious and logical. Well, that certainly made her cautious of her actions. It probably meant she couldn't be too excessive with her time in the bath. Pity, it was a long time since she had a good soak and a read. She couldn't even read the words in this world.
With a cleanly body along with finally washed hair, Weiss exited the bath with content. It felt weird not draining the water, but the rest of the family had to reuse it at least for the next two persons to not waste water. It was a strange ritual, but it was probably a traditional custom and courtesy.
In the dining room, she noticed how all the brothers had this look their face. This I-know-something-that-you-don't smile. Except for David, who looked horrendously nervous. But Weiss did not notice much, thinking it must have been an inside joke within the family.
"Don't mess it up, brother dearest. She's the first girl that actually liked your presence since cousin Susan," Sebastian giggled into his hand.
"Yeah, you wouldn't want her to hate you because you can't properly speak to a girl," Benjamin snickered. David wanted to kick the twins so badly, but that would have only provoked them even more. Even from the head of the table, Duncan could be seen smiling into his tea cup.
As delicious as the meal might have been, Weiss's mind was preoccupied somewhere else. The queen had ordered Weiss to not come until the afternoon to retrieve her license or documentation that allowed her to research and find a way home. As much as nice the Kethersons were, this was not her home. It was not her world, she did not belong here. She was an outsider. Would it even succeed? How would she depart? What was she going to tell them when the time comes?
When breakfast was over, David Ketherson invited Weiss on a garden promenade, and since she had nothing to do for the time being, she accepted. The garden was beautiful, with bushes of roses and arcs formed with the budding flowers. They were tended with the utmost care, in varying shades of pink and red. Even oranges and yellows. Weiss quietly wondered who was taking care of them now, if the staff had quitted the family. Who the heck was making them food?
They eventually stop to sit down at a bench, comfortably in the shade out of the sun. David was fidgeting, but this time Weiss did notice.
"David? Is something wrong?" she asked with genuine worry.
"Nothing, Weiss," he said unconvincingly. "It's just...there is something I want to give you."
A present? David took out a velvet box. Oh god, please no. He opened it up, but Weiss closed her eyes. This is not happening, could it? They've only known each other for a day.
"Um...Weiss?" David's voice made Weiss open one eye. She sighed a giant breath with relief. It was just a necklace. It was gorgeous, though. The gem was brighter than anything she's ever seen. It was in a shape of a snowflake, looking actually like a preserved version of the real thing.
"It's gorgeous," Weiss admired. She wanted to reach out to feel the stone in her fingers.
"It's a moissanite," David explained. "Clearer and prettier than any diamond out there." He put the box in a more comfortable position in his palm to take the necklace out. The small interlocking links of silver trailing to the centerpiece completed the gemstone immensely. If they were in direct sunlight, Weiss was sure it would be sparkling. Holding it by the ends, David looked at Weiss with bright eyes, seeming to silently expect something.
Weiss shifted in her seat so that her back was facing David. She moved her hair out of the way to expose her neck, soon feeling the cold metal against her skin.
"How does it look?" she smiled as she turned to face David once again.
"Beautiful," David said before clearing his throat. "It looks great. Great look on you-for you...It...it looks great on you."
Weiss massaged the moissanite between her fingers, admiring the simplicity and beauty of such a gem. She flushed a little, recalling her initial foolish thought of what was happening before. But another thought lingered in her brain.
"Why are you giving me this?"
David shrugged, "It felt so right for you. I mean, I designed it with snowflakes in mind, but since I met you, I feel like I created it for you. Even though it was made before we've met. What I mean is, that it felt so right to give it to you. As if it was made for you."
"You made this?" Weiss gaped in awe.
"I designed it," David corrected. "I would be a poor heir to the Ketherson name if I can't properly contribute to the jewelry side of the family business. Although this necklace is one of kind."
"Right," she nodded, pretending to understand what he was saying. She knew nothing about him, or his family. Weiss clasped on the gem, well that would have to change, doesn't it? "Do you always give girls pieces of jewelry like this?"
"No," David admitted. "You're actually the first person I've given a gift like this to."
"Well, that makes me certainly feel special," she laughed.
"I'm glad you like it," David smiled back. There was a chime from a giant clock tower, indicating an hour has gone by. "Goodness, it looks it's time for you to meet the queen." He stood up and held out his hand.
"How lucky of me," Weiss said sarcastically. She accepted David's hand into hers. The eldest Ketherson son escorted her to the front of the mansion, where the carriage was waiting. Because only Weiss's presence was welcomed back to the castle, they had to part ways at the entrance of the Ketherson front gates. The carriage ride was stifling, unlike what it was like on the night before.
What Weiss didn't expect when they said she were to receive proper documentation, was being given a royal rapier. They were one of a kind and all guardians of the kingdom's deepest darkest secrets were trained to determine a real one from a fake one. Each one was intricately and individually crafted, so that one couldn't access information they weren't suppose to access without proper identification. So not only were they impossible to plagiarize, no one could pretend to be her either. It was a needlessly complicated procedure. Weiss didn't realize how much she missed Myrtenaster until she felt the hilt on her fingers.
From the corner of her eye, she saw a presence of a feeling all too familiar. There was a boy, similar in age to hers. With royal garb and a cheesy smile, the young man waved at her as she gave him a glance. If she recalled, it was the crowned prince, Teddy or something of that variation.
The queen noticed how careful she was in handling the weapon. This Weiss girl was getting more and more suspicious. She was obviously dangerous and needed to be taken care of. When Weiss was dismissed, the girl practically bounded in the direction of the library.
The prince followed the girl like a lost puppy. The queen ordered one of her guards to keep a close eye on the girl, to make sure she was not doing anything...suspicious. She also didn't want that wretched girl to harm a hair on her darling boy. The girl would be dealt with soon enough, and her son would be set free from whatever enchantments the girl held on him. No prince of this kingdom would fall in love with a temptress such as her on his own accord, the queen was sure of it.
Weiss felt like she was being watched. Sure enough, the prince was staring at her with half lidded smile a goofy grin.
"Do you mind?" she asked him.
"Sorry, Lady Schneewittchen," he coughed awkwardly. "I did not mind to stare. I am just curious on what you're reading about."
To be honest, Weiss did not really know. It was a language she could not recognize. "I'm unsure," she told him the truth. "For the moment I am trying to decipher your scripture into my own."
The prince's eyes and smile widened. "May I be of assistance in this endeavor?"
Weiss gave the suggestion a thought. It would surely be faster if she had help. And he was the prince of the country, so he must be educated and perhaps even competent to teach her the basics. She gave him a smile, "I would be honored."
They finally properly introduced themselves to each other. Terrence was his name, Weiss found out. And she told him that she would preferred to be called Weiss Schnee instead of...whatever they called her. After some time of rigorous tutoring, Weiss was able to decode some root words that were similar to her own language, much to her enjoyment. Terrence fortunately was not the prying type, happy to only answer questions and tell Weiss about the basic history of the kingdom instead of interrogating her despite her obvious foreign origins.
It was obvious that Prince Terrence was becoming tired, so Weiss suggested a break.
"What a brilliant idea," the prince practically lit up. "I must ask Miss Schnee, do you like animals?
Yes. "I do find them charming." And super freaking adorable!
"Oh! Wait right here, please," the prince said as he rushed into a corner of the library. A minute later he returned with a large book in hand.
"I thought you wanted to take a brief moment of leisure," she asked with a small upturn of her lips.
"This is our break! It's my favorite tome in our collection," he hoisted the large book down. Various beasts that Weiss had never seen before were drawn on the cover underneath a heavy but elegant script of the title. "It's an encyclopedia," he explained. "It includes all known creatures of our realm."
The prince opened the book to a random creature that started at Weiss. The amount of detail that was put into the illustration was extraordinary. There were some writing on the pages, but they were in simple words in comparisons to the other textbooks she and the prince and been poring over.
Weiss found herself flipping through the pages, becoming more and more engrossed in the beasts with each turn of the leathery paper. One caught her attention however as she studied it. It was not like the others, for one most of its body was hidden in a cloud of red smoke. From what she could tell, the body was red too, camouflaging itself within the page. Its blank white eyes glared at Weiss, and something black dripped from its snarling maw.
"The Beast of Red Smoke," the prince interrupted her thoughts.
"That's it? No official name?"
Terrence shook his head, "To give it a name would suggest we respect the beast to some extent. It is simply a monster that takes what it wants and vanishes like a coward." His eyes gave the impression of yearning as he stared at the creature. " It's the beast that slayed my father."
"You have my condolences, Prince Terrence," she said softly to the prince. He returned her smile and gave her his thanks.
A few agonizingly long hours later, the guard that had looked over the two retreated back into the throne room, despite the queen's lack of orders to do so. The queen dismissed a citizen that was currently pleading her to punish a neighbor that kept releasing his animals into his backyard. 'It smells like a zoo back there!'
"Guard! You better have a good reason for leaving your post," the queen demanded. The guard's initial reaction was Ma'am, my name is Richard and I've been working next to you for ten years, at least learn my name, but Richard gave it a second thought, and decided it was a much wiser option to not speak his initial thoughts. He instead stated why he had left Weiss alone with the documents, "Your majesty, Miss Schneewittchen is simply looking through the books, scrolls, and papers. Works on witchcraft, myths, legends and history. She has yet to touch anything that is a danger to the throne. But..."
The queen noticed the guard's hesitation, "But, what?"
"She's been...writing," Richard answered, "Notes, if I were to gather. In a script similar to our own, but obviously a different language."
The queen stood up with a tightened grasp on her hand mirror. I knew it! The Weiss girl must have been a spy for those good for nothing-
The queen heard approaching footsteps, two sets. The Weiss girl soon appeared back into the throne room, with ink stains all over her face and dress. Her majesty inwardly smiled at this, for this meant that the girl had some evidential flaws after all. A girl who can not hold a pen as good as a sword is no match for the queen.
"Are you done with your research?" the queen asked as sweetly as she could.
Weis in turn inwardly grimaced, knowing all too well what that overly tender voice is a mask for something sinister. "No, your majesty. I am simply taking a break to stretch my muscles. I am also here to procure a reading lamp for when the sun comes down."
The queen eyes the girl's arm that was close to her chest. It was clutching a notebook, most likely including documents that would aid in the invasion of her kingdom. "If you wish to have a stretch, perhaps you would like to have a small fencing battle with my son?"
Prince Terrence's eyes widened at this, "Mother!" He was a great fencer and all, having been trained under the greatest masters in the country. But she was a guest, not a challenger. Terrence was about to deny such a ridiculous suggestion when his snow angel replied before him.
"It would be an honor," Weiss curtsied.
"Point!" the referee declared. "The winner of the match is Schneewittchen." Prince Terrence was on his posterior on the floor, having fallen moments before being utterly defeated. Although the prince had lost the battle, his heart was still aflutter. The beauty before him was beautiful, graceful, vocally talented, and powerful. His heart was beating rapidly, but not because of the lingering excitement of the match, but the definite signs of true love.
Weiss took off her mask, feeling the cooler air on her face with relief. She hasn't trained in actual fencing for a while, let alone in the training garb. She wanted to change out of it as soon as possible. With her helmet and rapier in one hand, she held out the other to help the prince up. He smiled as he accepted the aid as he regained his footing from the ground. His grasp against her hand stayed for far too much for her liking, and Weiss had to clear her throat for the prince to release her hand.
"Never in my life have I met a creature as talented as you," he smiled.
"Why thank you," Weiss said with a hint of questioning. A creature? It's a compliment, right?
Deeming that it was time to return to her research, Weiss thanked the prince for the match and returned to the library. A servant of the castle gave her an oil lamp as she had requested. As she was working, Weiss soon noticed a sweet aroma wafting through the library. The source was from the oil lamp, Weiss figured as she spent an ungodly amount of time sniffing around. Although as sweet as the scent was, it was too distracting. She didn't need to relax right now, but to kick her brain into gear. And the smell coming from the oil lamp was making her dreadfully sleepy. Weiss called for a servant to exchange the lamps. When given the news, the queen cursed under her breath. The toxins from the oil would have lulled the girl into a comatose-like sleep, making it easy for quick execution.
Soon, a tray of apple slices were given to Weiss to feed her as she researched. Weiss admitted that she was more than hungry, so she gladly accepted the fruit. This was when prince Terrence had finished his evening studies that he decided to pay his future wife a visit. Seeing that the few slices of apples in the tray - which were his favorite fruit, prince Terrence asked if he could have a slice. Weiss allowed him the piece, content with the slice she had in her hand. Unfortunately for the prince, the piece got stuck on his throat, making him gag. Weiss immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving the prince from an embarrassing death. The queen almost cracked her hand mirror, as that piece was meant for the girl! It had a fast acting poison that would have made her death seem like an untimely accident. Who knew the girl had such a strange technique to deal with choking. Desperate times call for desperate measures, the queen scowled as she began to write an angry letter.
Weiss was scuffling through parchments she couldn't read until there was an emblem that caught her eye. looking closely, she recognized it as the Ketherson's family crest. Hey, she might not have stole the handkerchief, but she got a good look at the crest itself. Curious, she got out her notebook where she had columns of words she had deciphered. The language was very similar to her own, but there was still some grey areas. There were some keywords like 'gems' and 'mining' that caught her ears, making Weiss smiled. The Kethersons were also a mining company? No wonder why she liked them so much, they basically had the same background! Except her company wasn't losing a whole bunch of money. There were documents of the current living members, as well as a few for the deceased ancestors. One member was marked with a red script, and after a few moments, Weiss deciphered the label as 'EXECUTED'. Strange.
She called for the tomekeeper, who was a wrinkly old man that had been helping Weiss translate the documents she needed or the last few hours.
"Why, that is the late Lady Margaret Ketherson," the tomekeeper said sagely. "A nice beautiful lady she was, the personal seamstress for the queen. Her dresses were as beautiful as sunsets and oceans."
"What happened to her?" Weiss wondered. What did the good lady do to deserve execution?
The tomekeeper looked nervous, looking back and forth before whispering, "The queen is the jealous type. Anyone that's better than her in anyway, shape or form. well," he mimed a knife cutting through his throat. Weiss gulped, her mind was flashing back to all the moments she had just escaped death.
Richard didn't know why he was listening to such an insane order, but the queen had threatened to quarter him, and honestly that was not the best way to go. So there he was, scaling the vines of the Ketherson family mansion into the room of a seventeen year old maiden. Previously, he attempted to climb the tree, but soon the branches couldn't handle his weight, making him fall unceremoniously. Which hurt. Rose bushes were not comfortable to land on. In the least. Richard the guard made it to the small balcony, where he rolled over the ledge as gracefully as a platypus, almost falling face first on the floor.
There was nothing but the sound of his harsh breathing for a good 72 seconds as he caught his breath. Slowly and painfully, he got up, only to rest again against the balcony ledge as the rush of oxygen made him woozy. He made his way to the doors, surprised to find that it was unlocked. Opening it cautiously, he was grateful that the hinges weren't squeaky.
Taking out a dagger, he stepped lightly to the bed of the girl's. This was so wrong, and everything in his body was yelling at him to turn back and give a rude gesture to the queen and take his family and leave. By the time he snapped back to reality, his hand was already on the blanket of the bed. With trembling hands, he knew how long it would take for the next steps to happen. Around one second to rip off the covers, and around two to aim for the neck and steal her life. Around ten to open up her skin, around five seconds for each rib so to avoid the sternum. Around four to completely remove the still beating heart.
And with that last though, Richard sheathed the dagger and walked away.
"Seems like you have a conscience" a figure before him noted, making the guard take out his dagger again. His eyes adjusted to the moonlight shrouded person, only to realize it was Schneewittchen herself. He turn around to rip the covers of her bed, in the place of where the girl was suppose to be were pillows.
"How did you-" he squinted, doing an otherwise comical double take to the girl and the empty bed.
"You were not as stealthy as you thought you were," Weiss hummed. One hand was behind her back, probably holding onto her rapier. And then the unexpected happened. Richard the guard dropped his dagger and fell to his knees.
Richard the guard appeared before the queen, in his hand a bag that was dabbled with a red liquid. The queen smiled. The high collared cape she had adorned for this very moment outlined her sharp smale, sending a shiver down Richard's spine. It looked like she didn't have to quarter another guard this week after all. She gestured for the guard to bring the heart to the kitchens, where it would be prepared for her consumption. She didn't care that it was past midnight, she could wake up the whole damn kingdom at this hour if she so chooses. She could have all the human hearts she wants at any given time of day. The heart is where the power comes from, and the more hearts she consumed from her enemies, the more powerful she became. The power of Lady Ketherson's heart was already starting to wither away inside her, and it was as if the Gods had sent her this Weiss spy/girl as a gift to keep up her health.
It took all of the queen's resistance to not jump in glee as the heart was served to her on a silver platter. When she gorged herself with the delicacy, her smile faltered. The heart was not at all powerful as the queen expected. It was nothing compared to Margaret Ketherson's. Perhaps the girl wasn't that much of a threat after all. The whole illusion of triumph was shattered instantly when her son showed up with his new bride to be. Or so he claimed.
In the darkness of the room, the light of the lamp prince Terrence was holding was all that was needed for the queen to notice the white hair.
"You're alive," the queen said automatically in surprise. She didn't realize her mistake until it was too late, hardening her son's expression.
"You were trying to kill her!" the prince exclaimed. The queen refused to reply, too shocked to even move. The prince took this silence as confirmation. "Mother! You can't just go around killing people you don't like!"
The queen simply sniffed, as if she wasn't being berated by her beloved darling son. Then she began to laugh, "Sweetie, you're not actually going to marry that creature, are you?"
The prince sighed, "She made it clear that she has no intention of wedding me. However, she also made it clear that she would gladly do so if it meant for you to step down from your throne! She wishes for us to only be wed in the diplomatic sense, a wish that I will gladly grant her. After all, my own mother tried to kill her."
"You can't just do that," the queen hissed. She stood up from her chair, knocking some of the silverware around. The glass of wine fell over, staining the white table a dark mauve color.
Before the prince could counter her words, Weiss stepped in, "How about a duel then, your majesty?"
"I beg your pardon?" the queen asked.
"A duel. And since you are obviously so interested in the dark arts, I'll even let you use your powers."
"Lady Schnee! You can't, mother is a terribly powerful-" the prince tried to convince the white haired heiress into taking back her invitation, but Wess's resolve only hardened. The witchy queen wasn't the only one that had tricks up her sleeves.
"Why would I even want to duel with you?" the queen keenly smiled. If they were to go through with this, her majesty would have a terrible advantage. One she doesn't mind stooping too low to take.
"Well, for one, we'll put a wager on the duel. My banishment for your resignation."
The queen thought about it, cupping her chin with her pointer finger. "How about...your heart?"
Weiss didn't even flinch, "That is hardly fair."
"How about leaving it up to the townspeople?" the prince interjected. Both the queen and Weiss turned to him, equally as shocked as the other. Terrance was looking down, obviously shocked at his sudden outburst as well. "Mother, if you really are as benevolent and kind of a queen as you believe to be, I'm sure that you have nothing to worry about. If you truly are a heartless monster...I'm sure the townsfolk will bring a swift justice."
"T-terrance!" the queen gasped. Her son would never say this to her. Her real son. She turned her head to glare at the Weiss girl. Of course! She was putting her dear sweet boy under some sort of charming spell. One that would make him disobedient towards his mother! "Fine, state your time and place."
"Right now," Weiss declared, her shoulders straight and chest puffed out. "In the throne room."
"My dear, I hope you will be more humble after your defeat. Arrogance is such a poor color on you," the queen smirked at the teen."
"If you're lucky, maybe you'll learn a lesson or two about manners," Weiss said, tightening her grip on the royal rapier. Was she always gripping her weapon since the very beginning? She couldn't be nervous, could she? Weiss put the thought into the back of her mind, there was no time to doubt herself now, "Because the last time I checked, abusing your position of power is pretty damn rude." The queen's eyes narrowed as she glared daggers at Weiss, to which the snow heiress ignored with ease.
The female combatants positioned themselves in their proper dueling posts. The queen finally took off the gaudy oversized cape, revealing a low cut dark silk dress, exposing her shoulders and the top of her breasts. The sleeves covered her arms elegantly in a transparent black fabric that cascaded softly to the helm of the dress. In a fluid motion of her arms, all the candles in the room became aflamed, basking the room in its soft orange glow.
Weiss took out her rapier from its holster. She didn't have a cape to tear off dramatically before the battle, not like she wanted one. Mostly. Okay, she really thought the cape looked cool as heck but she wasn't going to tell the queen that! Especially since she was going to beat her majesty to the ground.
The match began with the referee's command (who was forcibly summoned from his slumber, evident by the nightgown he still sported). Weiss started the match by gliding straight towards the queen, using her glyphs to increase her velocity. The queen's eyes widened in surprise at her display of "magic".
In an attempt to subdue her adversary, the queen casted a spell that formed a wall from the stone floor below them. This should have blocked Weiss's way and made her crash into the wall like a fool, but the young heiress reacted calmly, jumping gracefully above the blockade.
Weiss held the rapier professionally, aiming at the queen dead on as she started to land. Her majesty summoned the help of nearby vines that scaled the outside castle walls. The plants crashed into the room through the windows, shattering glass that frightened the few spectators watching the match. The vines wrapped themselves around Weiss, constricting her limbs.
With a wave of the queen's hands, the vines grew thorns, piercing Weiss through her clothing and into her skin. The pain riddled her entire body, like a hundred tiny needles pricking her at once. Weiss lets out a small gasp, but her grip on the royal rapier remains tight. With careful concentration, Weiss managed to form a glyph right under the queen.
The queen noticed the glyph, and unable to decipher the nature of the attack was thrown off guard as she moved away from the symbol in an attempt to avoid any damage - but as a result ends up releasing her hold on the vines. Weiss used this opportunity to free herself, taking quick, careful and precise slices with the rapier. Hey, the weapon was used for thrusting, not slashing.
This angered the queen, being tricked by a mere child! Before she can act however, she felt her body being pulled backwards. It couldn't be...she glanced behind her.
Sure enough, there was a black glyph, pulsating menacingly at her. In a frantic panic, the queen turned her attention back to Weiss, which only earned her a kick in the gut as she flew backwards. The queen ends up landing on top of her throne, with her back hurt and soon after colorful spots invaded her vision.
The queen slowly stood back up, staggering slightly. This brat was going to die, she would make sure of it. Once she got to the leveled ground at the feet of the throne's staircase, the queen immediately began to form a spell in the palm of her hand. She raised the fireball above her head, prepared to strike at a moment's notice. But there was nothing before her aside from the spectators. The queen's eyes scanned the entire room, but the brat was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, a white blur slips past her, and her poised arm started to sting. This caused her focus to waver and the fireball dispersed, the wisps of fire began to fade away into harmless embers. She looked at the pained area in horror. It was a shallow cut, but it was bleeding.
Another blur slips through her view of vision, resulting in another cut. Another blur. Another cut. The queen cried out in anger as the blows kept raining upon her. She wrapped her arms around her body as if to keep the wounds from bleeding, only to let out a large amount of energy, forming an iridescent dome around her.
The queen's breathing staggered as she struggled to level it back to normal. Nonetheless, she smirked despite the great amount of pain she was in. Trapped in the area of effect, Weiss floats motionless, her body still posed in a manner that was ready to strike another blow. Not anymore, the queen thought to herself. The queen confidently approached the meddling girl, smile broadening.
The queen traced the edge of Weiss's jaw with her finger. She flicked at the skin with her sharp nails, light enough to not nick the skin but enough to instill any fear into Weiss. The queen couldn't tell what emotions Weiss currently felt, but whatever the queen was going to do to her, Weiss would have no choice but to endure it.
Or so she thought.
The queen heard ticking, like the hands of a clock. It seemed to echo throughout the throne room's walls. She was not imagining it, for prince Terrence and the referee also noticed the sound, searching for the source as well. From the corner of the queen's eye, she noticed Weiss started to move.
Impossible, thought the queen as she stepped back, avoiding the slow attack. The dome drained a lot of her power, and required a lot of concentration, so the moment she lowered the dome's effectiveness, Weiss began to move faster. Knowing fully well the spell would be her end if she continued to use it, the queen lowered it completely to focus her energy in more offensive spells.
The ticking grew louder as soon as the dome disappeared. Weiss was faster than before, avoiding the fireballs that came her way without batting an eye. The projectiles kept coming, but Weiss dodged and deflected them with such easiness only fueled the queen's anger. This caused her to not gauge her powers appropriately as she increased the strength of her attacks with wild abandon. Her fireballs became larger, more destructive. The heat from them alone began to melt the candles in the room faster. Tapestries began to lit afire but the queen didn't care. She just wanted to hit the damn girl. But the queen also began to tire out. She was bleeding, out of breath, and out of powers. The queen was losing, and everyone knew it.
"You're going to pass out from exhaustion before you can land another hit on me," Weiss taunted. Another fire attack came her way. Expecting a ball, Weiss flipped aside to dodge, only to feel an intense burning sensation in her lower leg. A fire whip was coiled around her leg, and with a tug by the queen, Weiss's balance is gone as she began to be pulled closer to the queen.
"You will know better than to underestimate me, girlie," The queen hissed. Her power reserves were low, but they were enough to finish the girl. Weiss waited for the perfect opportunity, and once she was close enough to the queen, Weiss used all her strength in sweeping her legs to trip the queen.
It worked as the queen fell over. The last thing she saw was Weiss's face as she knocked the back of head against the stone staircase.. The queen lied there motionless in front of her throne. Weiss breathed cautiously. Was it over?
"Lady Schnee!" the prince called out as he ran towards the girl. Weiss tried to get up but the burn in her leg caused her to sit back down as she hissed in pain.
"Uh! "The winner of the match is Schneewittchen!" the referee awkwardly exclaims. He looked around before excusing himself.
The prince lowered himself to examine the injury his mother caused. He settled the lamp down next to Weiss's leg to further examine the burn in detail. Terrence then hovered his hands above the injury and Weiss was actually afraid he was going to do something insane like actually touching it. Instead, his hands glowed a soothing green as Weiss's skin began to to have a static sensation. Before her very eyes, Weiss's skin began to heal.
"You are also-?" she started.
"Yes, but I've only learned healing and defensive spells," Terrance gave her a shy smile. "And I'm nowhere as powerful as mother."
"Now is that a good or bad thing, I wonder?" Weiss asked the prince. He silently continued to smile in his dorkish manner as he continued to mend Weiss's wound. They remain in silence like that with only a few comments here and there.
"You are the most extraordinary lady I've ever met," the prince told her. Weiss's cheeks started to burn. This again? "I mean it. You fight as beautiful as you sing, and you are as powerful as you are breathtaking."
"Are you going somewhere with this?" Weiss asked. The prince's eyes locked onto hers.
"Will you marry me?" he asked her. "For real this time, even if my mother somehow remains on the throne and we have to run away."
Weiss stared at him in shock. She was only seventeen. He was probably only a few years older than her too. They were young! Way too young to be thinking about marriage. And she barely even knew him. An image of David flashed through her mind and she broke eye contact from Terrance. Absentmindedly, she grasped at the snowflake pendant.
Terrance noticed this and sighed sadly, "I understand."
"No wait, I-" Weiss began to explain herself before she noticed the glint of a dagger. "Watch out!"
Prince Terrence quickly put an arm around Weiss's head and held it protectively against his chest as his other hand stretched outward. A strong gust of wind blows from his hand and knocked the queen backwards.
"Stay away from her, mother. You lost."
The queen regained her balance quickly and started to circle the two. The sleeves of her dressed had burned away, leaving her arms bare to expose the many bloodied cuts Weiss had inflicted upon her.
"Don't you see, Terrence? She's using you."
"She's doing no such thing, mother."
"My poor boy, you just need to trust me. Your mother, like you have been. You need to trust me,"she insisted. Her hair was a mess, which added to the disarray of her wide eyes. They were spastic and wild, darting from place to place but at the same time remaining focused on her son.
"I did trust you," Terrence bit his lip. "And you're scaring me, mother. Back away." He was standing now, blocking Weiss from his mother's view. He hadn't finished healing her yet.
"If you can't trust me on your own will, Terrence. You leave me no choice but to make you trust me again." the queen snarled. Her body lurched forward as an animalistic growl emitted from her throat. Her head stooped low as her body twitched, the veins in her body glowed vibrantly from underneath her skin. Suddenly, her head snapped back up as she gives them a low chuckle, her eyes now stark white. They stare at nothing but at the same time seeming to stare right into the teens' very souls.
The cuts on the queen starts to evaporate from her skin, forming clouds of red smoke. Weiss's eyes widened. Red smoke?
"The Beast," she whispered under her breath. The prince flinched at her words, coming to the same conclusion. It was then that the anger bursts out of the prince all at once.
"You filthy liar!" the prince shouted, sending violent gusts of wind around the throne room. All of the candles are promptly extinguished. The air almost stung Weiss's face, and she can barely open her eyes to see what was going on.
Terrence looked above him and with the palm of his hand, mimed a slicing motion. A few seconds later, the violent sound of a chandelier crashing could be heard. After the wind died down, only silence could be heard.
A puff of red smoke appeared before them as a violent clawed hand takes Terrence by the throat and began to lift him high into the air. The smoke faded away to reveal the creature from the book Weiss had read with the prince.
The Beast was terrifying. It was twice the height of a beowolf and about a five times more menacing. And a hundred times more dangerous. The skin on the back of Weiss's neck stood up as all she could do was watch the prince kick his feet in vain, trying to break free.
The queen Beast was entirely a crimson red, her fur matted in such a way that made it looked like it was soaked in blood. A long tail swished back and forth playfully, as if she was enjoying what was happening. The choking prince was held high above her head as she stood on her hind legs.
Weiss tried to move but her attempted action was quickly noticed by the queen. The queen Beast's toes clawed itself into the half healed injury of her leg, holding Weiss in place. This caused the girl to cry out in pain as her eyes begin to tear up. Blood started to pour from her leg, and she attempted to pry the claws away from her. This was a bad decision as the queen gave her a menacing grin before adding a sudden force to her foot.
The young heiress's vision turned to white as it became hard to breath. The pain was silencing, making it impossible for Weiss to even scream as the bone in her shin broke. All she could do was grab at her leg with her blood soaked hands and level her breathing through silent tears.
The queen's focus returned to her son. She began to speak in an omniscient like voice, her maw unmoving but the words came out all the same. "Listen to me, boy. You will do as I say, and all will return to normal. Forget the girl."
"How can you...believe...that can possibly...ever happen...after all you've done," the prince managed to choke out.
"Because," she purred. "You are my son. And you will be a good little boy and listen to mommy."
"I won't do...what you say...foul creature." He spat in her face, making the queen growl once more.
"Silly boy," she bellowed before she slammed the prince to the ground. The prince coughed up blood on impact. "You are too far gone, the witch has corrupted you beyond redemption. And now you will join her to your graves. You can die a fool, Terrence. Just like your father." In the palm of her hand lit a fire, dancing menacingly.
There was a barely noticeable pain in the queen's thigh. She looked down, taking notice of the royal rapier imbedded into her body. Weiss held the rapier in place with her right hand, despite visibly shaking violently. The queen let out a loud and ugly a free hand, the queen grabbed Weiss's hand as she removed the rapier from her thigh. She removed her the claws she had used to pin Weiss down, causing more blood to flow from the wound.
"You don't get it, do you foolish girl?" the queen asked rhetorically as she lifted Weiss into the air. The heiress let out a small squeak at the strain her arm is suddenly experiencing. The queen cleanly snapped the rapier in two with barely a movement of her claws. "You have already lost. And since you enjoy playing with fire so much, you can be burnt to a crisp first."
"I don't think so," Weiss whispered under her breath. The sound of glass breaking exploded in the queen Beast's ear. The familiar smell of oil filled the Beast's nostrils. The smell of burning hair. The Beast let go of Weiss, who landed painfully on the ground below. All the energy Weiss and the prince had left was to stare at the event unfold before them.
The queen attempted to put out the fire that invaded her face, only to fuel it with the fireball that remained in her paw. She screeched and slammed herself onto the ground. Nothing worked as she continued to flail frantically to get rid of the fire. Her fur had burned away and the flames were eating into her skin. The pain, the unbearable pain.
Suddenly, the queen Beast felt something against her shins and she began to fall. But the floor wasn't below her as she expected. She continued to fall and fall.
The queen Beast had tripped herself out of the window.
"Well, that was a thing," Richard coughed awkwardly as he poked his head from behind the throne. Weiss didn't have time or the strength to retort as her vision faded to black.
Weiss groaned as she came to. She didn't want to get up, however, for the bed she currently was in was quite comfortable. Wait a minute? Bed? What happened to the queen Beast? Terrence! She abruptly sat up, shocking a nearby maid that dropped her tray.
"I'm sorry Lady Schneewittchen," the poor maid curtsied before cleaning up the mess. It was then Weiss recognized the bedroom she was currently in. It was her room in the Ketherson mansion.
"How long have I been out?"
"A little over three months, Lady Schneewittchen," the maid stammered.
"Three mo-. What happened to the prince?" Weiss snapped. She didn't mean to be aggressive, but anything could happen in three months.
"He's the king now, Lady Schneewittchen. After multiple witness accounts of the queen being the Beast of Red Smoke, the new king ordered an extensive research on all his mother did during her reign. He has paid compensation to all the families the former queen had wronged and is building the kingdom anew," the maid blurted. So he's okay. Weiss let out a sigh of relief.
Her legs started to itch. She really needed to go for a walk.
"L-lady Schneewittchen!" the maid gasped. "Please, you need to lay in bed rest until you are fully healed." But it was too late, Weiss was already up and looking through the closet for appropriate clothing to wear on a garden walk.
"As you can see, I'm perfectly fine," Weiss commented. She must admit, it was miraculous that she could even walk at this time. Her bone broke, after all. But then again, a large extent of her aura must have kicked in while she laid unconscious. Or maybe it was this realm's magic that healed her. Maybe both.
"O-of course, Lady Schneewittchen. There is a letter to you from the king that is on the vanity,"
"Thank you," she told the maid, "You are excused,"
Not daring to offend the teen, the maid hurriedly left the room with the tray in tow. After dressing herself in one of Margaret's other dresses, Weiss picked up the letter on her way out the door.
In the gardens of the mansion, Weiss promenaded slowly as she began to read king Terrence's letter. It was written simply enough for Weiss to read, but wasn't offensively juvenile in the least bit.
From what she could tell from the letter, Terrence explained that his mother did a lot of terrible things. That was obvious. But one of the most horrendous of acts was killing the king herself, and lying about it to the court and kingdom for years.
He recounted how lucky they both were Weiss had reacted so quickly with the oil lamp. The irony of the situation was not lost on him. The queen had died from her fall (obviously) which automatically crowned him the king (obviously). His life had gotten a lot more busy ever since his coronation (which was two months ago). He also personally apologized for the grief his mother had caused to the Ketherson household.
It turns out that the source of the Beast's powers lies in the hearts of its enemies. The stronger the foe that was slain, the more power it supplied to the Beast. Like he said, the Beast took what it wanted and ran away like a coward. Or in this case, hid.
Weiss quietly wondered just how powerful of a woman Margaret Ketherson was to invoke the wrath of the queen. There was a postscript saying that he wished that she and David were happy together. Wait, what?
"Weiss!" a panicked David ran towards her. With little warning, he hugged her tightly, "You're alive."
"Yes, I am," her voice was muffled against his chest.
"Weiss, I thought you were never going to wake up," he said quietly as he loosened his grip.
"It was only three months," she nervously played it off.
"It felt like an eternity," David whispered. "Weiss, I want you to know. That I think I developed strong feelings for you."
This can't be happening, Weiss thought. They barely knew each other. She would be lying if she said she wasn't interested. Very interested.
"Weiss, will you grant me permission to give you a kiss?"
David leaned closer to her face. Weiss in turn closed her eyes expectantly, her heart thumping rapidly in her chest. Their lips brushed slightly before David's embrace was suddenly torn from her body as her mind faded to black once more.
If she was conscious, Weiss would surely be cursing like a sailor.
Weiss was falling, surrounded by wisps of color she never knew existed. The colored tendrils were beautiful...and terrifying. What was happening to her? Where was David? The iridescence of the colors slowly became less intricate - less vivid and frequent. Soon, Weiss was falling in a white void before she came to a sudden stop, landing painfully on her posterior.
"You're back!" Weiss heard a familiar voice. It couldn't be...but her thoughts were cut short as she was soon covered with a smaller red figure, having her breath almost manually squeezed out of her lungs in a tight hug. "Weiss," Ruby called out her name again.
Weiss kept blinking periodically as her mind tried to adjust to the situation. What? How? "I'm back," she finally whispered under her breath. She felt her arms returning Ruby's hug. Weiss soon noticed that her shoulder was wet. She stared at the girl embracing her, her voice full of tiny hiccups and whimpers. Ruby was crying?
The snow teen stared around the room, immediately locking eyes with Yang. She gave the blonde a pointed look, as if asking What's going on? Yang in reply shook her head and put her index finger above pursed lips. Ruby eventually stopped sniffling before letting go of the older teenager.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, wiping a tear away with a sleeve. The two sisters began to explain the situation to Weiss, who soaked up the information like a sponge. Yang would often sneak a glance to Ruby at the red hooded girl behind her back when she spoke of her story. There were times Ruby would stop during her explanation during certain topics, to which the other two girls gave her the patience she needed. Weiss absentmindedly grasped at the moissanite snowflake hanging from her neck, mildly surprised it was still there. The teen couldn't help but start to stare off into space, blocking out the sisters' voices. David...
"Weiss, you okay?" Yang interrupted her thoughts.
"I'm fine..." she replied.
"Weiss, your leg! Are you okay?" Ruby asked. Weiss on reflex moved her leg closer, as if she was trying to hide the violent scars.
"I'm fine," she insisted. "I'm healed. See?" As if to prove a point, Weiss jumped from the bed and began to do squats.
"Okay, good," Yang threw the storybook at her. Weiss barely managed to catch it without falling over. "You're a faster reader than the both of us."
"If I must," Weiss sighed, opening the book to the final story.