Chapter 1 - A Dragon Named Grigori
Ruby felt sick and not because she took the lunch break in between classes to eat two bags of cookies she took with her. No, that was one bag less than usual! There was something strange and the more she tried to pinpoint just what exactly it was, the dizzier she felt.
She was holding a hand over her mouth, trying to concentrate on the class she was sitting in just a little bit more than hearing every third word coming out of her teacher's mouth. She didn't actually find the topic boring, but Mr. Zaffre just knew how to make listening tedious. They knew the topics well enough already, they had hunted more than enough Beowolves with the more practical teachers.
Her classmates looked a lot more attentive than she was, staring straight ahead and not noticing her discomfort.
"Ruby," Mr. Zaffre said suddenly. "If you would be so kind to tell me at least one fact about Beowolves, I would know you are paying attention."
"Yes!" she said, staring at the projected picture on the wall and saying the first thing that came to her mind. "Beowolves hunt in packs, sir?"
"Going for the low hanging fruit?" He smiled. She shrugged, trying to laugh with the few that started to chuckle. "But it's not wrong. It's incredibly rare to see Grimm alone, but it's rarer still to find a Beowulf without others nearby. Despite their low position on the food chain, they can be dangerous in numbers."
Yes! Class mastered! Not even her teachers could deny her genius!
It didn't take long for the bell to ring, and Ruby was the first one up, jumping out of her seat to hurry before the hallways were filled with students. Quickly gathering up her stuff and turned to leave. She had something to do today, after all, and the fresh air might help giving her some relief from the sickness.
"Don't forget to finish the essay! I'm not going to let you pass unless you can handle a pen as well as a weapon," Mr. Zaffre called, and Ruby looked away when she slung the bag over her shoulder, but she wasn't quick enough, nor subtle. "Yes, Ruby Rose, I can see you're pretending not to see me." He singled her out. "If you had started when I gave you the homework, you would probably have been done by now."
"Rats." She turned back to him, defeated, her shoulders slumping. "Of course, sir. I didn't forget what we were supposed to write about, could you tell me so I know you remember?"
The bookish blue-haired teacher sighed and gave her a strained smile.
"How was the war between the four kingdoms affected by Grimm abusing the spread out defenses of the kingdoms," he said. "That's your task now."
Ruby had the feeling that the actual task wasn't as complicated and he was doing it to spite her. It wasn't her fault she was up all night most of the week talking to Yang, it was the birthday's fault. She should've been two years older so she could be in Beacon with her sister, but noooo.
"Okay." Ruby's shoulders sagged. Uncle Qrow was never this serious about school work. Why can't she have him as a teacher everywhere? "Bye guys!"
Ruby turned around, waving towards her classmates and rushing out of class with a smile rather than the annoyance at being forced to write the essay. She might have used just a little bit of her Semblance used to reach the teacher's lounge more quickly. Only seconds later, which she took to pace up and down the hallway, the door opened and revealed her father.
"Dad! Let's go grab something for dinner!"
"Sorry Ruby," Dad said. "Something came up."
"You promised!" Ruby wailed, going to her knees, looking up at him with wide eyes. On any other day, this sight might have worked to change his mind, but he shook his head. "Pleaaaase. It's so lonely since Yang is gone."
"You can hang out with your friends, can't you?" he said, smiling. "The teachers need to discuss something important, I'll explain later."
He wasn't usually this serious. Ruby knew she couldn't convince him now.
"You owe me cookies," she said.
"Two bags full!"
"Was worth a try." She grinned and so did he. "Bye, Dad."
He waved when she left, walking towards the closest classroom and calling for the teacher. Of course she was curious about whatever was going on, but it's not like she could hide and listen in, right? Right. She tried that once.
Ruby sighed, leaving towards the dorms.
"YAAAAAAAANG!" Ruby shouted at the screen, her sister's face staring back at her, smiling. Ruby noted that there was something strange about that smile, it wasn't quite genuine. Not the usually confident and happy smile that Yang had. "Is… something the matter?"
"Not really," Yang said. "Things around here are a bit hectic lately."
"Why? You said everything was alright when I called yesterday," Ruby said. "Did something happen?"
"Not sure how much I can say. You know we don't actually know about all kinds of Grimm at the moment, right?" Yang asked. Ruby nodded. She didn't really know that, but she assumed as much. "We don't exactly know where they come from and all that, but you know the horror story parents told their kids when they wouldn't behave? About the king of all Grimm who would get them in their sleep?"
"Uh… no?" Ruby tried. She couldn't recall anything of the sort.
"I suppose not, you were younger than me, I don't get how information on this keeps getting lost," Yang said. "The people say the king of all Grimm actually exists, and the teachers aren't the kind of people to joke about this."
"What would that mean, exactly?"
"Beacon is temporarily closing," Yang said. "All available hunters and huntresses are going to meet here when they're not patrolling the border."
"Does that mean you're coming home?" Ruby asked, jumping up in her chair like an excited puppy.
"Seems like it."
"Yessssss!" Ruby shouted, jumping around in the room. "We're going to have so much fun together! Do you think they will close Signal too?"
"Most teachers are experienced hunters, right? So it looks like we'll have a week without school," Yang grinned.
The fact that Yang was so serious about the king Grimm was forgotten quickly. Ruby was already working on plans on what to do when Yang is home.
Ruby stood outside with the other students, staring at the large airship that landed in the large open space near the main building. Her father stood there, greeting a man that stepped out before turning towards her.
"I'm sorry for not telling you sooner," he said. "It seems like I'll have to make a short trip to Beacon for a week, but your uncle is going to stay here at take care of the school in the meantime."
"I know," Ruby said, recalling her sister's words. "Yang told me."
"She did?" her Dad's eyes widened. "What exactly did she tell you?"
"Beacon's going to close down for a week like Signal and she's going to come home for that time," Ruby said, bouncing slightly. Taiyang sighed, though she didn't know if it was in relief or annoyance.
"At least you have someone here besides Qrow then." He patted her head. She smiled up at him. "Goodbye, Ruby."
The crowd of students said their goodbyes to the teachers.
Ruby stood there, pacing slightly. It has been a whole day since most of the teachers left, only her uncle Qrow and three others she didn't have any classes with remained. Ms. Russet, Mr. Forrest and Mr. Arbust. She knew they these three were a team with one of the teachers that left, Ms. Myosotis.
So there wasn't any school for a week. Yay!
She didn't know when Yang would arrive though. Not yay.
So she did the mature thing. She paced up and down in her room, looking towards the sky every few seconds to check if any ships were arriving.
No luck. Just like the past sixty attempts to spy her sister.
Regrettably, realizing that the sun has begun to set, Ruby got ready for bed.
Ruby woke up to the sound of engines. Without even thinking, she jumped out of her bed and grabbed her clothes, dressing as quickly as she could before realizing that she really had to take a shower. Hurrying to do that, and definitely not abusing her Semblance to finish quicker, she rushed out to watch the airship land just a second afterwards.
The doors opened, revealing a bunch of people she recognized from years above her before they graduated. No Yang in sight. Ruby lowered her head, staring at the ground.
Her head snapped back up, her eyes starting to shine. "YANG!"
Something tapped her on the shoulder. "Hi Ruby."
She turned around, seeing her sister stand there. "YA-"
"Way too much shouting for the morning," Yang smiled, grabbing her sister in a big hug and lifting her up.
"Sorry," Ruby whispered into her sister's shoulder.
Ruby was all but hanging on the arm of her sister as Yang walked to the dorms, greeting everyone.
"And and and, did'ya miss me? Say you missed me!"
"We talked every day," Yang said. Ruby moaned. "Of course I missed you."
"I missed you too!" Ruby said, squeezing her sister's arm tighter. The dorms weren't really something to note. There wasn't much of a distance between the boys' and girls' dorms, and the teachers trusted the students enough not to do anything stupid. They also trusted the girls' abilities enough to kick out any people sneaking in at night, though during the day, nobody minded people going in and out.
There was a large common room, if you could call it that, while the rooms were further up. Yang, with Ruby on her, were almost at the stairs before someone called.
"Hey Yang! Cian said he could take you on now!" the voice shouted. It was a boy from Ruby's class, though she couldn't quite place a name to his face.
"He can try!" Yang said, spinning around on her heels. Ruby let go, walking with her sister towards a blue-haired guy, a year older than Ruby. "Hey, little boy, still picking fights with the big leagues?"
"Shut up, I trained the entire time while you were sitting on your ass in Beacon," Cian grinned confidently. "Don't go home crying when you lose, eh?"
"You're on," she said, sitting down near a table.
"Arm-wrestling?" Ruby asked. Yang was more the kind of person to solve things with fists, but the boy didn't hesitate, sitting across her and taking her hand in his, the elbow on the table. "This is what you were doing when you were out at night?"
"Not always," Yang grinned. The boy immediately started, but Yang didn't budge. "You think I wasn't training too, hm?"
Yang didn't even make another sound before smashing Cian's hand in the table, smashing it apart.
"And the champion remains, Yang!" Yang shouted while Cian was nursing his arm, a high-pitched sound escaping his throat.
Ruby took the seat when Cian left.
"Hey," she began, looking at her older sister. "Are you sure everything's okay?"
Ruby might not be the smartest student, but she didn't need to be smart to understand that her sister was not feeling well.
Yang leaned into the chair, sagging into it slightly. "I'm… worried."
"The Grigori," Yang explained. "You remember what I told you? The king of all Grimm?"
"You mean like that fairy tale they told kids?" someone nearby chimed in. "The king of all Grimm will take the kids that wander in the forest?"
"Or if they didn't behave, or if they didn't do this and that, yeah," Yang confirmed. "It's real, apparently. And it's been sighted."
The guy who called her before, the one whose name Ruby couldn't remember, laughed.
"Really? Why isn't it all over the news then?"
"Because it would cause fear, and fear…"
"Draws the Grimm," Ruby finished. "The hunters are gathering in Beacon to talk about this, right?"
"You also believe that story?" the guy said. "Really?"
"I believe my sister," Ruby told him. "And she heard it at Beacon. I don't think it's a lie."
"Yeah, right," he shrugged. "What's it gonna do? Swoop in and eat us for not brushing our teeth?"
"First of all, ew," Yang said. "Teeth decay, serious issue. Second of all, no. It doesn't eat you, it… uh, eats your heart, or something."
The guy laughed again, but others joined him.
"Yeah yeah, you don't need to believe me, just don't blame me if…"
The earth shook violently making students scream and scramble across the ground under tables. Yang wasn't, though. She immediately rushed outside, ignoring the shaking earth as much as she was possible, and Ruby followed.
Ash was raining down from the sky, and there was a large fire a considerable distance away from Signal.
The shaking of the earth stopped, and returned, softer, rhythmic.
Like steps. Her Uncle Qrow and the other three teachers appeared outside too, staring towards the fire before rushing into its direction, Qrow pulling out a phone. Yang apparently didn't want to wait and followed too.
"Yang, wait!" Ruby said, running after her. She could see other students with their weapons drawn, following after the teachers as well.
"Come on!" Yang shouted. "No need to be worried, right? We got everyone together."
Ruby couldn't disagree. Also, she could finally use her scythe on some Grimm for the first time in forever! The question how anything so dangerous to create such an earthquake could even arrive here without any prior alarm or it being stopped by the defenses was on her mind, but she didn't voice it.
The shaking of the earth got louder, stronger.
And then there was a scream. Loud, violent, like the scream of an animal in pain. And then fire.
Qrow and two other teachers dodged out of the way, while Ms. Russet created a barrier, large and adorned with plants of all kinds, blocking most of the flames that flickered above their heads, burning trees.
Ruby felt cold sweat go down her neck. She could feel it now, as could everyone else. Whatever this was, it was big, and it had an aura.
It didn't quite make sense.
Why. Why does this have an aura? It shouldn't!
The scream came back, but not accompanied by flames this time. The brown haired teacher turned around, shouting at her students.
"Leave! Go back to the school!"
"Why, Ms. Russet?" a student shouted back.
"You can't help here, you will be in the way!"
The shaking got stronger and it appeared, rushing through the trees and ripping them out.
Twice as large as a Nevermore. It was a dragon. A feeling of dread washed over everyone, up to their throats, making it hard to breathe. The dragon's eyes were blank and white, while its upper face was enclosed in a dark mask with red symbols. The scales were red, and on its chest there was a dark mark.
It reared its back, about to spit fire again as sparks gathered on its tongue, the mouth opening wide to reveal a large set of incredibly spiky teeth.
But Qrow appeared, his own weapon, a scythe not unlike Ruby's, grabbing onto the beast's neck and spinning around, forcing its aim far above the students. Most of them didn't hesitate, listening to the teacher and running.
Not Yang, though. She wasn't quite shaking, but her fists clenched and glaring at the dragon. And Ruby wouldn't leave without her sister.
The dragon lifted a hand, more human than she would have expected, and a light gathered. It reminded her of Dust. Then he crushed it.
A tornado appeared, right where they stood, sending Yang and Ruby into the sky. It was dark, ripping out trees as well and forcing them to dodge. "Ruby!"
Ruby glanced at her sister, and reached out with Crescent Rose. Yang grabbed it, spinning around and sending Ruby away from the tornado.
"Wheeee-" Ruby's descent was cut short as Qrow appeared, grabbing her and dragging her away. The tornado left after a while, and Yang landed next to them.
"Leave. Now." Qrow said through clenched teeth. He had a large gash on his arm, though it wasn't really bleeding.
"No, we can fight, you taught us to-"
"I didn't teach you to fight where you can't win!"
The dragon's roar stopped the discussion and Yang caught a glimpse of one of her former teachers flying through the air as if swathed like a fly, smashing against a tree and lying limply on the ground after landing.
Qrow didn't discuss further. With a leap, he landed on the dragon, trying to ram his scythe into its eye in between the slits of the mask. It didn't work, the tip of the weapon reflecting off a soft white shield.
Instead, the dragon attempted to grab him, but Qrow dodged. A large movement of the gigantic wings. Wind sent him flying backwards, and he jumped off a tree towards the dragon again.
"This… this is Grigori?" Yang asked. "This…"
She was shaking now. Quite clearly. The longer the sight of the dragon was, the more Ruby could feel her confidence draining.
The dragon concentrated on them now. Ruby immediately jumped backwards, but Yang didn't, frozen where she stood. Its hand came down, its claws about to rip into Yang.
Ruby and Qrow shouted at the same time, their uncle blocking the attack and ending up on the ground, crushed under the weight of the dragon.
"Uncle Qrow!" Yang shouted. Sparks flickered on the dragon's tongue again, about to burn Qrow to ashes. This time she wasn't hesitating, rearing her fist back and jumping forward, punching the dragon's mask.
The sparks stopped, and Yang was now under the dragon's other hand, grabbed out of the air and smashed into the ground.
The two teachers that were still conscious attacked, but it was futile. Their attacks couldn't pierce its hide.
Ignoring them, it lifted its hand off the now unconscious Yang and made a… not a fist. It was lifting up its index finger, slowly bringing down the claw towards Yang.
Ruby reacted faster as the dragon was saying something in a tongue couldn't understand. Using her Semblance, she sped up, and kicked Yang out of the way, apologizing silently as the claw touched her chest after taking her older sister's place.
The world turned red. The sky above her was blocked out for seconds as she could see the dragon lifting up something at the tip of its claws.
"Ah," it said. "So it is like this."
The red curtain came down, splattering on her. She could hear her uncle Qrow, quite a distance away, but the dragon's voice, now understable, drowned him out.
"Take up arms, falsely Arisen, for my kind do not heed the toothless. I shall await you."
The fluttering of wings was growing weaker.
William (Bill) Arbust - Dark Green
Fiore Myosotis - Blue
Brecht Forrest - Bright Green
Narra Russet - Brown