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Strength, To Protect What Matters.

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On one of the many beaches of the island of Patch, a pair of young girls played together in the sand. The younger, a girl of only five with hair of darkest red and eyes of shining silver, raced across the dunes without a care, a crimson cloak that was far too large for her trailing in the breeze behind her as she ran. Chasing after her, two years older with lilac eyes and brilliant golden hair, was her older sister, who let loose a playful roar as she bore down on the younger girl.

“Rawr! I’m gonna get you Ruby Rose! No one can escape the great dragon Yang!”

With a shout, she pounced upon the younger girl, wrapping her up in her arms as they rolled across the sand. The younger girl let out a squeal as she spun, her cloak wrapping around the pair. As they slowed to a stop, the sisters let out a series of giggles. Slowly, they managed to get themselves untangled, rising to their feet and shaking sand out of their clothes. Smiling, the pair looked out across the ocean towards the setting sun as it painted the sky in shades of yellow and orange. The smaller girl looked up at her sister.

“Today was so much fun, Yang. Do we haveta go home?”

Bending down, the older girl playfully tussled her sister’s hair with a chuckle.

“Sorry Rubes, but it’s getting dark, and it’s just not safe out here at night. Now come on, Dad’s waiting. Tell you what, beat me back to the house and I’ll read you an extra story before bed.”

Ruby’s eyes went wide, and before Yang could react she was already racing off towards the path leading back to their house. Yang just looked after her with a smile, shaking her head at her sister’s energy. As she did, however, she noticed a man standing near the pier. Curious, and knowing Ruby was safe with their Dad waiting on the forest path, she went over to him. He was tall, with the tan skin of someone used to the sun. His brown hair was swept back in large spikes, messy bangs framing his face. He wore a grey muscle shirt with a pair of red straps crossing his chest in an x shape. His legs were covered by loose brown pants, hakama, she thought they were called, and his left arm was covered in armor, a thick gauntlet connected to an ornate pauldron. What had to be his emblem hung on his belt, a gold shape, kind of like a pointy heart with a pair of spikes coming off the center. He was staring out at the ocean, seemingly lost in thought.

“Hey,” she called out to him, causing him to turn around and face her. “Are you a Huntsman?”

He looked down at her, confused, his dark blue eyes sparkling in the fading light.

“Huh? Now what makes you think that?”

Yang grinned. “Because you’ve got that awesome armor, and are totally buff! And the only people who come here are either locals, or Huntsmen on assignment!”

The man smiled as she finished explaining. “Smart kid. I guess you could call me that. What about you?”

Yang blushed slightly. “I’m a local, but I’m gonna be a Huntress someday! I’ll be super strong, and go to all kinds of awesome places, and help people everywhere!”

“Is that right? Any particular reason you want to be one so badly?”

Yang looked down at the ground, hiding her face as a memory from the year before flashed in her mind.

“I messed up pretty badly a while ago, and nearly got me and my little sister hurt. So I’m gonna train, and get strong, and make sure nothing bad ever happens to her again!”

Her face rose to meet the stranger’s, determination burning in her eyes. He smiled down at her.

“You want strength. To protect what matters.”

Yang nodded. “Yeah.”

“I think I can help you with that.”

The man stepped closer to her, and held out his right hand with the palm facing downwards. There was a brilliant flash of circling light and sharp whistling sound, and a massive sword appeared in his grasp. The blade was dark brown, edged in bronze, and the end was shaped funny, more like a pair of axes than a proper point. The guard was a dark blueish color, all blocky and angular. A thick steel chain hung from the pommel, ending in a dark brown stone. Yang’s eyes went wide in amazement as she watched it appear. Was that this guy’s Semblance? The man knelt down before her, extending the sword’s handle out to her, and started to speak, his voice warm but with a weight to his words.

“In your hand, take this key. So long as you have the making, then through this simple act of taking, its wielder you shall one day be. And you will find me, friend. Never will your adventures end. No boundaries around, or below, or above, so long as you champion the ones that you love.”

Enthralled, Yang reached out to grasp the handle, gripping it firmly as the stranger’s words echoed in her mind. She stood there, lost in thought, until her sister’s voice rang out across the beach, calling for her by name. She and the stranger turned towards the sound, spotting Ruby by the edge of the woods, waving to her.

“Hurry up Yang! You promised me an extra story, remember!”

Yang heard the whistling sound again, and when she turned around the sword had vanished. The man smiled at her.

“You’ve gotta keep this a secret, okay? Otherwise all the magic will wear off.”

Yang looked up at him wide-eyed. “Magic?”

He nodded. “Yep. But you can’t tell anyone, got it?”

She nodded in turn, and the man smiled and ruffled her hair. For some reason, Yang didn’t mind when he did it. Turning, she ran off to meet her sister, who looked at her in confusion.

“Yang, who was that guy?”

The blonde girl looked back at the beach, but the stranger had seemingly vanished. Turning back to her sister, she grinned.

“Just some random Huntsman on patrol.”

Ruby’s eyes went wide.

“Aw, I missed out on meeting a Huntsman? Dang it!”

Yang chuckled as she tousled her sister’s hair once more.

“Don't worry sis. There’ll always be other Huntsmen. Now come on. I owe you some stories.”

Smiling, the sisters made the walk back home.

- |VV| - |VV| - |VV| -

Years later, Yang dreamed. Of sinking into the ocean, and stained glass platforms in the dark. Of taking up a shield, and casting aside a rod. Of fighting creatures of shadow and darkness. Of being questioned by images of her friends, and told her adventure would begin at midday. Of facing a shadow that towered over her, fighting it and winning, only to be dragged down into a pool of darkness. She woke up covered in sweat, and, for the first time in years, her thoughts drifted to that meeting on the beach. The memory faded quickly, and she got up and went on with her day.

- |VV| - |VV| - |VV| -

In a small clearing on the island of Patch, a pair of girls were sparring. The younger, a girl of fifteen, with hair of darkest red and eyes of shining silver, fell to the ground, her fall cushioned slightly by a crimson cloak that fit her perfectly. Standing over her, two years older with lilac eyes and brilliant golden hair, was her older sister, who smiled down at her.

“Come on. You totally could have dodged that.”

She extended her hand down to her sister, helping her to her feet.

“Yang! I already told you! I’m just not cut out for hand to hand.” The younger girl pressed her hands to her chin, eyes closing and smile beaming. “Why can’t I just use my beautiful Crescent Rose?”

The older girl scoffed. “That’s exactly why I didn’t let you bring it.” Ruby turned and glared at her sister, who placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“I’m going to be leaving for Beacon soon. I want to make sure my little sis can hold her own while I’m gone.”

She patted Ruby’s arm, then stepped back and took up a sparring stance once more. The younger girl rolled her eyes with a muttered “Fine.” Taking that as a signal, the older girl lunged forward, a pair of jabs flying out. Her sister managed to get her arms up to block, then shifted to the side, leaving the blonde overextended as she threw a straight with her right. The younger girl attempted to punch her sister in the head, but the blow went wide, instead flying over her shoulder. With a grin, Yang swept out with her foot, catching Ruby’s and sending her stumbling forward. She brought her fist down in a wild haymaker, only for the younger girl to dissolve into a blur of red petals and fly off into the brush. With a chuckle, the blonde put her hands behind her head.

“Nice one sis! You’re not always gonna be able to run away from your problems though! Sometimes you just have to stand your ground and fight, no matter what!”

Stretching her arms, she continued, turning to face a rustling set of leaves.

“Alright, that’s enough rest, get back out here!”

The rustling continued, and there was a sound of a branch snapping. Yang peered into the brush, calling her sister’s name with slight concern. A harsh growl sounded, and a pair of piercing yellow eyes stared out of the foliage. Yang called out her sister’s name, this time in panic, and a monster leapt out from the undergrowth. 

The creature’s skin was the dark of the void, veins of purple snaking between plates of pale white bone. A mask of solid white covered its face and snout, but instead of the flaming red eyes of a Grimm, instead it had a pair of lifeless yellow spheres. As it rose to its full height, Yang saw upon its chest a strange marking. It was shaped like a heart, but instead of a pointed tip it split into three tails like a fleur de lis. It was solid black, save for a thin red line tracing the edges, and a pair of thorny red lines crossing the center of the main heart. The beast roared at her in challenge, then slammed its front paws into the ground. Yang readied herself for a fight, her bracelets extending into a pair of armored gauntlets, each with a gun barrel extending over the wrist. Ember Celica readied, she launched herself towards the NotUrsa as it charged. Tucking into a roll, she sidestepped the beast’s charge, then slammed her armored fists into its side, the barrels of Ember Celica flashing as the internal shotguns fired. Instead of the expected roar of pain, however, the beast just swung its arm at her, knocking her to the ground. It turned and swatted at her, sending her flying into the trees, carving a furrow into the ground as she went.

Stumbling out of the woods and into the clearing, Ruby cried out in terror as she saw her sister sent flying. She took in the massive ursine monster, so very much like an Ursa Grimm, but fundamentally wrong, even more so than usual. The thing turned to face her, and she started to panic.

“What do I do, what do I do? Gah, if only I had Crescent Rose. Wait, would she even work on that thing? What even is that thing?”

Sensing her panic, the NotUrsa charged at Ruby, causing her to scream.

Yang’s eyes snapped open, no longer lilac but instead a deep crimson red. She launched herself out of the woods, acting on a single instinct. Ruby needed her. As she flew through the air, her hands came together above her head, and there was a brilliant flash of light and a sound like roaring flames. She landed behind the monster that dared to threaten her sister, hands swinging downwards in an overhand strike, and the creature roared in pain as something cut into its back. Yang hopped backwards as the monster turned to face her, massive arms swinging in rage. She brought up her hands into a ready stance, only to stop and stare. Held in her right hand was a massive sword. The blade was shaped like a dragon’s wing, brilliant gold with bright yellow webbing. Trailing off the back edge was a sweep of flame, making the overall shape similar to that of a scimitar. The guard was a sleek framework of dark bronze, and hanging from the pommel was a steel chain, at the end of which hung a yellow charm in the shape of a burning heart. Her burning heart.

The monster roared once more, seemingly enraged by the very sight of the weapon, and Yang focused once more on the battle at hand. She brought the blade down in an overhanded slash, hacking at the monster's head. The weapon was light in her hands, seemingly perfectly balanced just for her. She dodged a swinging claw and slashed upwards, tearing into the arm that had tried to crush her. The beast reared backwards in pain, and Yang took advantage of the opportunity. Her hair blazed with soul fueled flames as she brought every ounce of strength to bear in a massive two-handed swing. It split the bear from shoulder to hip, and as the two halves parted they vanished into puffs of purple black smoke. The threat gone, Yang let her arms fall to her sides, angling the right slightly to get a better look at the mysterious blade. As she did, words came into her mind.

Dragon Heart.

As she pondered what the words meant, she didn’t notice as her sister tackled her in a massive hug.

“Aaaaahh, Yang, I was so worried! That thing set you flying, and it was like a Grimm but not a Grimm, and then you leapt at it and there was this bright light, and now you have a sword! Where the heck did that thing come from!?”

Holding her sister tight for a moment, Yang took a deep breath as she felt her body settle. She shrugged out of Ruby’s grip, raising Dragon Heart between them.

“I have no idea. I just knew that I had to protect you from that thing , and it appeared in my hand. As for that Ursa, whatever it was, my normal shells didn’t seem to do anything to it. Maybe Dad knows something? We should probably head home anyway. Are you okay Ruby?”

The younger girl nodded, eyes wide with wonder and concern.

“I’m fine. But you’re right, we definitely need to get home.”

The two girls didn’t know it yet, but they had just taken their first steps into a larger world.