NOTE ABOUT CHAPTER TWO - You may be seeing this because you are trying to get to chapter 2, and for some reason it is not showing. This is a bug with the site, that is happening to various authors. There is nothing I can about it, but it is uploaded. All I can advise is that you check back every now and then - because it seems to be visible then not visible at the drop of a hat. Some people can see it, some cannot - but then can again in an hour... Sorry for the trouble, but until the site fixes it, this will continue.
Welcome one and all to Forged Destiny, the fic that is set to replace One Good Turn Deserves Another. As with my last, this story will be another adventure / romance, and with a fresh new pairing – one that I think is criminally underrepresented in the fandom. Lancaster, or Ruby x Jaune for those who weren't aware.
This chapter is realistically speaking, a prologue – future chapters will be much longer.
I am also going to try something completely new… and write it in first person. I've never done this before, but I'm determined to give it a go. Oh, and for any who wonder, this is another fic inspired by The Writer Games, since College Fool prompted me with "The World of Remnant is an RPG" - At the time I think he expected I would come up with a WoW or SAO game-playing idea, or VR. Instead I went with this. CF then liked it so much he suggested I do it in full.
And College Fool has helped me since, mostly with muse, inspiration and coming up with RPG mechanics to effect this world!
Beta: College Fool
What was it that made a Hero?
It was a question I'd always asked myself, something that had taunted me from when I was younger, it continued to do so even now. Was it their arms and armour, the trappings of what made up those who would stand against the darkness?
If so, then the shimmering form of Crocea Mors, which lay against the mattress, should have been enough. The straight-edged blade gleamed, fresh from the forge with not a kill to its name. I'd forged it myself. In the Arc Family shop, under the careful scrutiny of my father, though I doubt he had expected me to use it like this. To my eyes it was a good blade… the Quality ranked as such, with a Keen Edge modifier that meant it had extra cutting power. It was perhaps the best I could have ever forged… I was only level twelve at the time, after all. I still was level twelve... it had been less than a week ago.
Atop the ruffled bed sheets lay the blade's companions. A silver breastplate and interlocking steel tassets, small wisps of blue cloth drifting from the cold metal. Those had been a chore themselves, the steel difficult to work with… many had come out flawed, but I'd pushed on until Lady Luck smiled. I'd even gained some good Experience from it all, though not enough to push me any further. Routine tasks, and to a Blacksmith the act of crafting with common materials was just that, didn't give much in the way of Exp.
Wearing them, it was easy to forget who I was. It was easy to put aside the name of Jaune the Blacksmith, and fall into the new name I had given myself. Jaune of Arc, or Jaune Arc for short. It was a name more befitting a Hero.
But the forged blade and armour did not make me a Hero, nor did the name. Anyone could have put them on, anybody could pretend to be a different person in the comfort and sanctity of their own home, to be something more than they actually were.
Was a Hero someone who was willing to stand up for what they believed in, against all convention or risk to themselves? Had I not done that in coming to Vale, in leaving behind my family and the promise of an easy life? My hands shook, as they had for the last week. The world was new and exciting, but also filled with danger. I wasn't ready, I knew that to be true, but time waited for no one. If a Hero was someone who was unafraid to make decisions in the face of danger, then surely that was myself… for death was all that awaited me should I fail. Blue eyes caught mine in the mirror. The figure there pale and afraid. I wanted to ask him what was wrong, but for the knowledge that he – that I – had no answer.
Those were not the eyes of a Hero. They were the eyes of a man in over his head, of someone who knew the folly of their actions but was now locked unto that path. Did that make that man brave, for risking his life on something that was not only foolish but also highly illegal? Did that make him heroic, or simply stupid?
Either way, that didn't make him a Hero. It didn't make me a Hero.
The chair creaked beneath me, bare feet padded across the cool wooden floor of the inn's bedroom. Cheap, linen curtains brushed aside – sharp rays of morning light caressing skin as my eyes looked out over the waking city of Vale. From the third floor of the shady inn it was possible to see the transformation that took place. The change from squat, ugly, wooden houses to taller red-roofed residential districts crafted from stone and marble. In the distance, towering above them all, the conical spires and towers of the Beacon Academy for Heroes. My destination.
Those who graduated had the right to truly call themselves Heroes, protectors of the people, the land and the Kingdom of Vale. All tales began somewhere… and for many, Beacon was that location.
Perhaps one day they would tell a tale about Jaune Arc? It would remain to be seen whether that would be a rousing ballad of courage and audacity or a cautionary warning for those who dared reach too far. Once more the bile rose up, once more I forced it down. Fear was good, or so my father always said. It told you when you were about to do something stupid, when you needed to stop and think things through. I didn't need the emotion to tell me this was a bad idea. This was against the law, it was against custom – it was against the natural order, for crying out loud. People did not do this.
It just wasn't done.
The linen fell back across the cracked window, doing little to diffuse the sunlight that streamed into the cramped room. The mattress gave way, sending up a cloud of dust as I tugged one boot on and then the other. The normality of it allowed me some distraction, as I focused on the simple task of lacing the leather straps shut. But it couldn't last for long. The day had already begun, and I had a destiny to reach. The armour - my armour - called to me.
Buckles snapped, leather creaked. First the breastplate as it locked over my shoulders with a simple click, then the tassets, which connected onto the bottom half of the armour. The metal clinked gently against my thighs. A blue tabard flowed down between my legs, a faint crescent moon emblazoned upon the bottom in rich, golden weave. It felt pretentious, even now. There was no House Arc, no family which bore than name, and thus no emblem to represent them. Why I'd settled on the shattered moon, I had no idea. Some grain of truth, a hint, or just the first thing I'd thought of while staring into the night sky?
Leather flexed as I pushed my hands into the vambraces, wriggling fingers to test the interlocking pieces of metal. It felt awkward, heavy… but not dangerously so. It was something I'd have to get used to, if I wanted to make this work.
It was Crocea Mors herself that felt the heaviest, though. The leather handle was hard and unrelenting, the blade even more so. My face reflected in the steel as it was held up before me. That face still looked afraid, but there was also a certain rigidness to the jaw… was I really gritting my teeth that hard? The pain in my gums as I forced myself to relax said I was. This couldn't continue… I was to be a Hero. I couldn't look like I was ready to flee at the first opportunity.
But I wasn't a Hero. I knew that.
And it wasn't because of the armour, nor any bravery, courage, history or motives. It wasn't because I was a liar, because I wasn't strong enough – nor because I was only level twelve. The simple fact was; I wasn't a Hero because the words that floated above my head said I wasn't.
Jaune, they read. And beneath that a single word… Blacksmith.
It was the Class I'd been born with, and it was the Class that I'd carry into my grave. I was a Blacksmith, as my father's was – and his father before him. There was no changing that irredeemable fact of life… some were born Warriors, others Mages, Archers or Paladins. Some were born Shopkeepers, Farmers or Blacksmiths. There was no use railing against it. The world was neither cruel nor kind, it simply was.
But as the unusual medallion I'd purchased slipped over my neck, coming to hide behind the steel of my breastplate, the words began to shimmer and change. I'd seen it before of course… with how much was relying on it, I'd tested it a thousand times. Yet each and every time it left my throat dry, as I waited for it to fail and expose me as the fraud I was. The words were different now… my Class wasn't different, I could still feel the skills and stats of the Blacksmith I was. But to the world outside, I was no longer that person.
To the world outside; I was a Knight.
The simple word mocked me. As though it existed to taunt me with the truth of what I could never become… of what I was about to try and pretend to be. Crocea Mors rasped as it slid into the dark scabbard that hung from my hip. The kite shield clipped onto the leather straps across my back, it weighed down on me – or was it just that the enormity of what I was about to do that was so heavy on my shoulders?
For the sake of curiosity my eyes closed, breath evening as my statistics came into my mind.
If anyone else could see those, then it would have been indication enough that I wasn't the Knight my title made me out to be. The distribution was all wrong, even I could tell that – limited as my knowledge was. I had the statistics of someone born to sit at an anvil and strike metal all day. Intelligent enough to know the composite breakdown of ores, but what use was Dexterity for striking something that didn't dodge? Even my Skills and my Passive, the one true ability I could call my own, only served the role of a Blacksmith. Not to mention that Charisma… no doubt this was why dad had gone and married mum, who was of the Shopkeeper Class. Her Charisma was through the roof… she kept the family fed, selling the wares dad made for good profit. A match made in heaven. I could just as easily have been a Shopkeeper as a Blacksmith. Neither had appealed to me. I wanted to be something more, I wanted to go on adventures and Quests.
I wanted to be a Hero.
Heh, it was almost funny. I still didn't know what made a Hero. Which meant I had no idea how I was supposed to act come Beacon Academy. Perhaps that was something that could be discovered, however. Hopefully before some great mistake revealed me.
"It's time to become a Hero," the words were weak, whispered and hoarse. "It's time to become a Hero," I tried again. Stronger this time, still afraid – but not quite so brittle. I'd have to learn fast. Because as the great bell tolled out over the city, I realised there was no time left. Jaune Arc would become a Hero… or he'd die trying.
That I accepted the fact… did that make me a Hero?
Or just a fool?
I'd like to have a quick mention here that this fic is not, and has never been intended as, a crossover with The Gamer, TGWP, or any other fics like that. Nor is it a crossover with SAO or whatever else, which I'm sure some may comment at in coming chapters. Similarly, lore, rules and exposition will be explained through dialogue and interactions, and I will not be info-dumping things in author's notes or dedicated explanation chapters.
The entire world here is an RPG-based Remnant. But they are not "playing" it, they are living in it.
So in some ways you won't have the full picture of how things work initially, but will come to learn them along with Jaune. That said, much of it is an original concept, so it's not worth listing similarities to things like Gamer, WoW, Sao or other things. Remnant here works on other rules. Which will be covered in time. Similarly at this point, the stats what they all mean might not make sense (though obviously they will likely be recognised).
As for chapter length, as a prologue this one is incredibly short – but average chapter length should be more along the lines of 5,000-7,000 words. I don't want to make any promises, but that's what I am aiming for. Btw, some words start oddly with a capital letter - that is because they are "big things" in this world, and thus are given them in their culture. It's not just me spelling badly. ;) I.e. Dexterity, Quest, Skills, etc... it differentiates between skills (Jaunes' skill at stuff) and Skills (Jaune's actual RPG active abilities).
Next Chapter: 25th July (Updates every second Monday)
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