Chapter Eight: The One That Got Away

Jaune had never gone to a costume party before. Never really had the time to, actually. He was either too busy sick or too busy punching Grimm to ever go to one.

So he was pleasantly surprised when the people from the village he currently saved invited him to their annual costume party. Only this time it was in celebration for being saved from the Grimm and he was the guest of honor. It was really fun too! They had all sorts of games, prizes, and they were even selling these really cool flowers that glowed in the dark. He never even knew there could be flowers like that, and spent at least three hours talking to the one to gathered the flowers, asking about where he got them and how to care for them. The guy even handed him a pack of seeds, for free.

He felt a bit out of place at first, since he didn't have a costume like everyone else did. One old woman with flowers in her hair ended up giving him a cloak that she made for her son. The guy was apparently out of town for business so she decided to give it to him instead. Apparently it was made with a special form of dust that would put the wearer's features in constant shadow. It was a bit more intimidating than he would have liked, but he loved the way a shadowy mist seemed to form every time he walked somewhere. He didn't even know clothes could be made like that.

At some point he found himself getting challenged to a drinking contest by some guy with a huge sword on his back and a scruffy beard. The guy said something about testing out the mettle of the "village hero" or something and before Jaune knew it, he was surrounded on all sides by people who were chanting at him to "chug, chug, chug!" He tried to tell the guy that because of his training he couldn't get poisoned or drunk, but he seemed to take that as a challenge or and immediately bought an entire bottle of expensive liquor.

Jaune figured it was only polite that he'd drink since the guy just bought an entire bottle, so he did. The stuff tasted awful and made him wish that he was drinking his mom's lemonade instead. Seriously, why do people even have alcohol?

Three hours later Jaune was still sober and the guy had managed to knock himself out and was currently snoring in a corner. Everyone was cheering and giving him pats on the back. One guy even gave him a hundred lien for helping him win a bet.

The constant partying as getting a bit boring though, so Jaune decided to sneak away for a walk. He planned on staying in the village for a few days to gather some supplies before heading out again. He wasn't sure where to go next though; maybe north towards the Northern-Western lands? At least, that's what they were called. It looked like an exciting place to travel through at the very least; after all, the shape of the continent on the map was a giant dragon! How cool was that?

He was walking through an empty field, just staring at his surroundings, when he caught the sight of something in the distance. A fight. From the looks of it, it seemed like someone was getting ganged up on by three other guys and losing. Badly. Even as he watched, he saw two of the guys holding one person on the ground while the third guy did... something. And from the sound of the screams it wasn't anything good.

So Jaune, being the Hunter he was, ran forwards and broke them up. By punching the woman with the weird glove in the face. To his mild shock, the woman was not sent over the horizon and instead was sent tumbling head over heals some distance away before landing on her feet. She must have been pretty durable.

The other two thugs - a girl with green hair and some guy with metal legs - looked a bit shocked. They dropped the girl and jumped back, and he caught her before she could hit the ground. He examined her and grimaced at what he saw.

Jaune wasn't a doctor, but even he knew that what he was seeing was not good. It looked like the girl had some black sludge on the left side of her face. It was bubbling and pulsing like it was alive and the girl looked as though she would die at any moment. What was worse, the black sludge seemed to be traveling down her neck and towards her arm. Meaning that if he didn't get this girl some help immediately, she would probably end up being corrupted or eaten by the stuff.

A sound made his head shoot up. The three thugs were standing a few feet away and were pointing their weapons at him. The woman, this time sporting a pair of glowing eyes, looked pissed. She didn't look all that injured either, which meant that Jaune would probably have to put a little more effort into beating her into a bloody pulp. Her two minions probably wouldn't need as much effort; all he had to do was get rid of their weapons and rip that guy's metal legs off and he would be able to send them to the authorities where they belonged.

He gently set the girl down then shot forward. He decided to go for the green haired girl first, mainly because her constant staring was getting on his nerves. She actually looked a bit shocked by his approach for some reason, and was unable to protect herself when he punched her in the mouth. The guy tried jumping out of the way, but he was able to snag one of his metal legs and rip it off. Said metal leg he threw at the glowing woman. There was a sound of glass breaking and what looked like a orange force field broke into pieces as the leg hit her square in the chest.

Then Jaune's view was filled with fire and dust as he felt something go off from where he was standing. It didn't do anything more than make him slightly confused and ruffle his clothes a bit, thankfully. He did

not want to be running around naked because his clothes got set on fire. He made a note to thank that old lady whose name he never got. That woman made some really sturdy stuff. Either that, or the dust she made his cloak out of was really powerful. They weren't even singed!

A quick check showed that the girl was alright and that the thugs were trying to run away, albeit pretty slowly. The glowing woman was clutching her stomach and limping, the guy with the metal leg was frantically hopping away, and the green haired girl was clutching her head and stumbling around like that drunk guy at the bar. From the looks of it, it shouldn't take more than a single punch to knock them all out. He wouldn't even need to move from where he was at; the shockwave should take care of it.

Jaune made sure to dial it back a bit just in case; he didn't want to kill them after all.

Drawing his fist back, he was in mid punch when out of NOWHERE that guy at the bar appeared right in front of him and started heading straight for the three thugs. Jaune tried to stop his punch, and was able to veer his aim off a bit so that he wouldn't hit the guy. It had the unfortunate side affect of hitting the ground and sending dust

everywhere, making him unable to see just what the hell was going on. He could hear shots firing and the sound of a giant sword swishing everywhere, but that was it.

When the dust settled the drunk guy with the sword was fine, but the three thugs were gone. Probably escaped into the far off forest in the confusion. Jaune considered going after them, and was about to when a groan made him remember the girl. Looking down showed that the corruption had successfully spread all the way to her arm and was slowly eating away at her. He needed to get her to a doctor right now, or else she wouldn't make it.

Picking her up, he paid no notice to the drunk guy with the sword talking to him and ran as fast as he could back to the village, a shockwave of force left in his wake.