Changelogs, because why the hell not.
2/4/16: This is a re-upload of the prologue. I apparently made the mistake of uploading parts of chapter one in the prologue chapter. That explains why some of the reviews mentioned things that shouldn't be in the prologue.
2/11/16: Recognized the errors of my ways. Edited the Prologue's formatting to improve reader experience. It's now easier to tell who's talking. Added Rin hesitation during initial meeting with teams RWBY and JNPR.
Emiya Shirou stared at the book in his hands, his eyes glossing over the words. He laid back on the bed, the sound of a distant shower the only noise in the room. Shirou never had a habit of reading, but with life at the clock tower moving at a steady pace, he figured that it wouldn't hurt to pick up a new hobby.
The book in his hand was fiction, written by one J.K. Rowling. A woman, who, according to Rin, was a magus herself.
The room's door swung open and the familiar scent of soap and shampoo met Shirou's nostrils. Tohsaka Rin, in all her grace and beauty, walked inside wearing nothing but a small towel.
Shirou ignored her completely.
Sitting down on a study desk across from the bed, Rin glanced over her shoulder at Shirou. "Oh? What's this? You're already on the second book?"
Shirou simply nodded in response.
"Well that's good. It's nice that you're picking up a new hobby." a smile formed on Rin's lips.
Ever since the events of the Holy Grail War, Rin has taken it upon herself to, in her own words, 'make Shirou into a man.' And while the extent of their relationship warranted certain manly responsibilities from him, her actual objective of 'making him into a man' was never as clear-cut. For the most part, she seemed to be more focused on trying to get him to act more normal than anything else. And that meant finding him other things to do aside from pursuing his dream of becoming a Hero of Justice.
Because, for a time, that was all Shirou Emiya wanted.
With Rin around, distractions were abound. And in a way, even Shirou admitted that was a good thing. The Fuyuki Fire consumed his memories. He forgot who he was before the flames engulfed the city. He forgot the faces of his parents, the looks his friends once gave him. The identity he once carried. And for a time, he became nothing more but the vessel of Emiya Kiritsugu's will.
Rin walked toward him, now dressed in her signature cat pajamas, and hopped on the bed. She landed face-first on the mattress to Shirou's right, before snuggling up to his shoulder.
Nothing happened tonight. London was quiet outside, as quiet as a major city in the modern world could be. They slumbered peacefully, bathing in each other's warmth.
The two young magi awoke in an evergreen forest.
Shirou was the first to rise, his eyes struggling to adjust to the sudden light. He glanced around, watching the surroundings, feeling the chill of the wind on the bare skin of his arms.
Is this a dream?
He wondered. But everything felt too real. The cold, the trees swooshing in the distance, the empty morning sky. Their entire bedroom has disappeared, with nothing but the bed and bits and pieces of wood from the floor surrounding them. Shirou's eyes wandered to his arm, where a still slumbering Rin was busy drooling on it.
He sighed, wondering what kind of nonsense they've gotten themselves into again, when a sound from the forest caught his attention.
Shirou moved by instinct, pushing himself off the bed and standing beside it.
Rin does an excellent job of not waking up.
"Rin. Get up."
The prodigy grumbled something about asking for 'five more minutes'. Shirou narrowed his eyes in annoyance and instead reached out to poke her on the cheek.
"Wha—What?" she sprung up, half open eyes darting left and right. "Re—Reality marble!?"
She gargled out, for no discernible reason. Shirou stared at her blankly, completely forgetting about this particularly weird quirk of hers. However eventually, she manages to shake away her drowsiness and a look of clarity crosses her eyes. Cautiously, the shorter girl removes herself from the bed and observes her surroundings.
"Where are we?"
"I'm not sure, but it doesn't look like any kind of forest I've been in before."
Rin instinctively reached for her pockets, but grunts in frustration when she realized that she was only in her pajamas. "I don't have my jewels."
She stepped closer to Shirou, rolling her sleeves, her eyes continuing to watch the silent forest around them.
"How did we get here?" she asked.
"I don't know. I just woke up and here we are." Shirou sighed and triggered his magic circuits, sending magical energy coursing through his body. A pair of twin swords materialized into his hands, one black and one white. His body is used to Tracing now. Gone were the stress he once felt in his heart and arms.
They weren't alone. He knew that much. He could feel a presence in the woods. Creatures that moved the grass beneath their feet, beings that blended with the shadow. Eventually he saw them, a pair of blood-red eyes gazing from the darkness.
The beast emerged from the shadows slowly. Its form was massive. It resembled a hybrid between a wolf and a man. Its face was covered with white bone, dirtied with crimson lines.
It didn't look like a familiar— that much was obvious. Its intention was clear.
With a surge of energy, the beast rushed forward, heading straight for Shirou.
The magus prepared for the assault, lowering himself into a stance, when Rin's arm shot forward beside him. The familiar red of a Gandr spell sent small ripples in the air, as the magically-charged projectiles slammed into the beast. To Shirou's surprise however, Rin's attack only managed to make the beast angrier. It continued its charge, unhindered.
Shirou moved to intercept, Kanshou and Bakuya at the ready.
The monster struck downward with its massive claws, an attack that Shirou easily managed to dodge. He rolled out of the way and slashed its belly, rending flesh and bone. He spun on his knee as the monster reacted to the blow, its claw crushing the earth as it swung.
Shirou fell on one knee, swords still tight in his hands.
The monster was about to rush forward when another blast of red exploded from Rin's hand, this one brighter and larger than the last. The empowered Gandr shot tore through the monster's shoulder like a bullet through paper, sending blood spraying everywhere. In that exact moment, Shirou surged forward, blades moving at inhuman speeds, striking at the monster's throat.
The wolf's head fell to the ground as its body collapsed. Shirou watched it disappear before making his way to Rin in a jog.
"Are you okay?"
"Of course, I'm okay! What were you thinking, just rushing in like that?" it was always like Rin to be angry for no reason.
"Well, what did you expect me to do? It was coming right for you." Shirou replied simply.
Rin frowned in frustration, but her expression turned serious when she heard the tell-tale signs of more movement in the woods. "I swear! If this is some kind of messed up clock tower initiation ritual—"
"But we joined a year ago, I think an initiation is long overdue."
Rin's eyes narrowed.
"It's probably Luvia then. That bitch. Or Zelretch. ZELRETCHHH!"
The trials have finished, with the soon-to-be-dubbed teams RWBY and JNPR both successfully retrieving the chess pieces they set to collect. Cardin Winchester and his group were the first to return to their waiting teachers. Two more teams followed, before the fifteen-year-old girl and her seven compatriots arrived. Some of the students were battered and tired, and three were visibly injured. But as harsh as their challenge was, no lives were lost.
Headmaster Ozpin and Professor Goodwitch were both appreciating their trainees' efforts when a noise caught their attention.
Or rather, everyone's attention.
"What was that?" Glynda asked, turning to the direction of the noise.
"Oooh, sounds like someone's in trouble?" Nora Valkyrie said aloud, standing on her toes and gazing toward the vast expanse that was the Emerald Forest.
"You don't have to sound so excited." her childhood friend, Ren Lie said blankly beside her.
Glynda turned to the spectacled headmaster. "Ozpin, everyone is accounted for. Whoever that was, it isn't one of our trainees."
"That person didn't sound particularly in distress." Ozpin considered, as calm as always. "But her noise could attract Grimm to her location."
The professor slammed his cane to the ground, instantly commanding everyone's attention.
"Students. Someone in these woods might be in need of assistance. I am authorizing an emergency search-and-rescue operation." he glanced to Glynda, who already stood at attention. "Glynda, go with them. They'll need all the help they can get."
Glynda simply nodded as she turned and began organizing the operation. The various trainees reacted in different ways. Most were thrilled to return to the Grimm-infested forest, but others were much more cautious.
Weiss Schnee, heiress and Dust extraordinaire, threw her hands in the air almost immediately after the announcement was made.
"This is ridiculous, where are we even supposed to start? The Emerald Forest is huge!"
"If we spread out in a wide area, finding the girl shouldn't be that hard." Blake Belladonna proposed, her hands fidgeting with her weapon.
However, the group's youngest member, the excitable Ruby Rose, was too busy jumping around.
"Guys, guys, this isn't the time to stand around like this! We gotta go, like— right now— we have to go before the Grimm gets her!"
"Yeah!" an orange-haired blur exclaimed in support, rushing to Ruby's side.
"Nora?" Yang Xiao Long, brawler and master of puns said in surprise, eyeing Nora as she bounced beside her sister.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go!" Nora exclaimed, grinning wide, her transforming grenade-launcher already in her hand. However, before either girl could rush head-long into the forest, Professor Goodwitch approached. Her dire and serious expression was enough to silence everyone.
"Miss Rose, Miss Nikos, I am temporarily placing the two of you in charge. All of you are to scour the north and northeastern areas of the forest."
She gestured with her wand. "If you find our target, report immediately with your Scroll. I've already contacted reinforcements from Beacon, and they should arrive as soon as possible."
Weiss walked forward and spoke up. "Are reinforcements really necessary? We handled the Grimm here easily enough."
"This isn't about how capable you are, Miss Schnee. There are lives involved here beyond your own. Whoever this person is needs to be found immediately. We'll find our mystery person faster with more people looking."
Weiss did not reply and instead managed nothing but a simple nod. "I understand."
Nodding in return, Glynda readied her wand and waved it in a confident gesture.
"Now spread out! A life is at stake! Find this person in distress and bring her back to Beacon Academy!"
"Aaaand it evaporated."
Rin knelt beside an area where a dead Ursa once sat, poking the ground with a stick. Though the creature's body disappeared after it died, Rin continued to be cautious. She had to be. The creature was not something they had ever encountered before.
"Was it a familiar?"
"Didn't look like it. There were no traces of prana in the body, but it didn't look natural. Mutated maybe? A dead apostle's idea of a pet dog?"
"It was flesh and bone. That much was obvious."
Shirou was at least glad that the things could be killed with conventional magecraft. He was happy that they didn't prove too much of a challenge. While they initially seemed to attack with unbridled ferocity, he and Rin were soon able to get into a proper tempo. The creatures attacked more or less mindlessly, driven by instinct instead of any sort of intelligence. Between his Projections and Rin's long-ranged magecraft, the Grimm were practically no match.
"Shirou, did you hear that?"
Rin stood up and placed a hand to his shoulder. She gazed across the forest, her magic circuits flaring and reinforcing her eyes.
Shirou followed her example, his vision immediately growing in clarity, allowing him to see vast distances in an instant.
Eight people were approaching their location, each one dressed in outfits that Shirou would personally describe as 'colorful'. They were running, in a pace in between a jog and full-on sprint. They were moving in teams of two, staggered but close enough for each group to assist those nearby. Whoever these people were, they were fast. And they weren't being subtle.
"Shirou, I don't think we're in England anymore." Rin dryly surmised.
"Let's go meet them."
"What? No! We should stand back and observe them from a distance."
"Rin, they look like they're looking for us. And judging by the fact that they're heading in our direction, it's clear that they'll be here in a few seconds. It'll be easier if we just introduced ourselves."
"Shirou, they are literally running toward us. What if they're hostile? What if they're here to kill us?"
"I don't think they're here to do that. This forest isn't exactly the safest place around." he gestured at the smoking remnants of dead Grimm. "Those beasts attacked us indiscriminately. Shouldn't we consider the possibility that those guys are here to help?"
"I don't like it." she deadpanned.
"We don't have a choice. We don't know where we are and we're not sure what we're dealing with. We're better off looking for help."
He gestured at the approaching group.
"Plus, they don't look that bad."
"Ugh, fine! But I'm setting up traps, just in case."
Ruby and Nora led the party, jogging happily with their folded weapons on their hands. The rest followed close behind, with Pyrrha Nikos and Yang holding up the rear.
"Sooooo, Pyrrha, you're sorta a big deal. I was wondering if I could ask you a question."
"Uh, sure. What is it— Yang, was it?"
"Uh-huh. I always wondered; what does it feel like being a celebrity?"
The redhead only frowned in reply. "It's— not the best thing in the world."
"But it's great, right? Exciting, exhilarating and all that. I mean, you were on a cereal box, at the very least, you're not going to be hungry for the rest of your life!"
"I don't think anyone can survive with just cereal in their diet…"
"It was a metaphor, hahaha."
"I don't think that was a very good metaphor—"
Ruby and Nora's gasps of surprise caught everyone's attention, as the two girls skidded to a sudden stop.
The group emerged in a small clearing, one that was torn apart from fighting. The grass was burned and the earth was cratered. Trees were broken, collapsed from what seemed like projectile weapons. The eight huntsmen in training readied themselves by instinct, weapons clinking in agreement.
"Uh— guys." Jaune spoke, awkwardly pointing to something peculiar in the distance.
The various teenagers reacted in different ways. But most of the reactions were that of confusion.
Spoke a young lady with a solemn, noble expression, one that would not seem out of place on someone like Weiss. The effect of her demeanor was lessened however because of the outfit she wore. A colorful pair of yellow cat pajamas.
The eight huntsmen in training looked at each for someone to take the lead. Ruby gladly took the reins and strode forward.
"Hello there, friends! Uh, nice place you got here. If it's not too much trouble, do you mind if we ask what you guys are doing here?"
The young lady was accompanied by a boy of equal age. He was dressed in a white shirt and black pants. His smile was disarming and warm, but at the same time, Yang noticed how rigid his posture was. He was prepared to fight, just in case Ruby and her friends made any unexpected moves. The pair of odd strangers were sitting on a bed, with bits and pieces of wood littered on the forest floor.
"I assume that you eight have a lot of questions for us." the girl said, standing up in a slow, non-threatening manner.
Yang glanced toward Pyrrha, and watched her as she pulled out her Scroll, to no doubt contact the Professor Goodwitch.
"To answer the looks of confusion on your faces, I would like to take the initiative and explain ourselves and our situation." the girl raised her index finger daintily. "My name is Rin Tohsaka, and this is my partner, Shirou."
The boy nodded slightly, still smiling.
"We don't know where we are, nor do we know how we came here. We were sleeping, when we woke up in this forest. And soon after we were attacked by… creatures unfamiliar to us."
"Grimm." Ruby replied, on behalf of the team.
"Grimm? Is that what those creatures are called?"
"Yes! Are you two alright?"
The girl, Rin simply nodded.
The girl seemed to wait before continuing her response. She eyed each and every one of the huntsmen in training. With a sigh and visible hesitation, she added, "We were able to dispatch them with our magecraft."
"Our powers." she said almost too quickly. "Regardless, we managed to dispatch the creatures easily enough and are for the time being safe. Unfortunately, we still don't know where we are. And we would prefer it if we didn't have to spend our evening in this forest."
Rin's eloquence surprised all who were present, and for a time, no one was sure how to respond.
Weiss on the other hand was in silent awe at the lady's grace and poise. This Rin girl spoke like someone renowned, someone who mattered. Was she a noble? A princess? A rich CEO's daughter? It didn't matter. She was a stranger in a weird place, and she claimed to be strong enough to survive an onslaught of Grimm. As a representative of the Schnee Company, it was her responsibility to welcome this girl into Vale.
"Ahem, of course, Miss Tohsaka. Your safety is of utmost importance at this moment. Right now you and your friend are in the Emerald Forest, and my… companions and I here have been dispatched to rescue you."
"Ahh. That's good to hear." Rin turned and offered her hand to her friend, which caused the latter to stare at her confused. Eventually, grudgingly, the orange-haired boy took her hand and stood up. "Then let me extend my thanks. Your timely arrival has saved us the effort of finding civilization on our own. May I please know your names?"
"Ruby. Just call me Ruby." Ruby said, smiling and standing on the tips of her toes.
"And Schnee!" Weiss almost blurted out. "Weiss Schnee." she quickly corrected.
Rin tilted her head and smiled.
"Well then, Miss Ruby, Miss Schnee and companions, thank you for coming for us. Now, who can help us transport our bed?"
Ruby raised her hand immediately, a look of determination evident on her young face.
"Oh, Yang can help you guys, she's pretty strong and I'm sure—"
Blake rolled her eyes at the younger girl. "I think she was making a joke, Ruby."