Shedding their humanity, a WARRIOR and a BEAST meet. Blazing RED clashes with gleaming SILVER...

In his mind, Shirou understood that Illya was never in any real danger. However surprised her face may have looked or however precarious the situation may have appeared to be, Illya was absolutely safe. The defensive spells woven around her person would have activated with half a thought and the creature attacking her would have been at her mercy.

But when Shirou saw Illya's face was inches away from the jaws of that beast, his body had moved on its own. Just the mere thought of anything happening to her had set Shirou's heart ablaze with fury. He shed whatever hesitation he had against taking a life and let his soul be consumed in the familiar powers of a certain Servant.

His body became a weapon, like a sword released from its sheath. His skin tanned into a hardy brown hue and his hair was bleached white. The golden shimmer of his eyes shifted into gleaming silver. The clothes on his body were cast aside in favor of black body armor and a red coat.

He acted on pure instinct. The experience of an infinite number of battles flooded his mind. He dashed to Illya's side in an instant. He projected a copy of Kanshou and Bakuya in his hands. He squeezed their hilts, altered their shape to extend their reach, and swung them cleanly through the beast's neck.

The monster never saw him coming. With its mouth still hanging open, its head carelessly slid off its neck, falling uselessly onto the floor with a thud. The rest of the creature's body went slack, collapsing to the floor like a puppet whose strings had just been cut.

Shirou stood between Illya and the intruders on the roof. He fixed his steely gaze at his enemies, the people who dared to try to kill his one and only solace in life. "Who the hell do you think you're touching?" he asked as he unleashed a torrent of killing intent in their direction.

The members of the White Fang immediately stiffened up. Their wide eyes darted back and forth between the decapitated corpse lying on the floor and the angry young man wielding two swords who came out of nowhere. It was just too much to process. Suddenly, their leader and comrade, Lyle, had turned into a monster and died.

Torchwick coughed up a fistful of blood. He glared fiercely at the new arrival on the scene. "A huntsman…?" he hazarded a guess, gritting his teeth.

"No," Shirou denied. He returned Kanshou and Bakuya to their original forms, and their blades released electric blue sparks of magical energy in the process. "Right now, I'm just your executioner."

He stepped forward slowly, readying his swords. He leveled a feral glare at all of the trespassers on their roof. "Call yourself thieves or activists, humans or faunus, but you all touched on my last nerve tonight. The police can have your corpses, but your lives are mine now."

Shirou burst forward, appearing before Torchwick in a blink of an eye. He swung Kanshou down before the man could even blink, and Torchwick's arm flew off in an arc.

Torchwick bellowed in pain as fresh blood burst out of his bare left shoulder. He gaped in terror at the young man standing dispassionately in front of him. His face was freezing cold, like that of an executioner straight out of the pits of hell.

"That hurts like hell," he whispered absentmindedly. He was intimately familiar with the pain of losing an arm, but his voice held no warmth, only mockery. "I'll end your pain soon, don't worry."

He raised Bakuya to finish the job, but before he could end Torchwick's miserable life, Illya chimed in from his back, "Stop, Shirou. We need that man alive."

Shirou halted in mid-motion. Bakuya's pristine white blade only an inch away from Torchwick's feeble neck. He threw a side-glance at his sister. "He tried to hurt you," he argued like it was a capital sin.

Illya nodded, obviously in a good mood. "And it's nice to know you care so much, Onii-chan. But that man used magecraft turn that faunus into a Grimm," she said reluctantly, examining the headless corpse beneath her. "I want to find out everything he knows. He's obviously made contact with her."

The gears in Shirou's head turned instantly. He understood the logic, but he didn't like it. "He just needs a working mouth then. He doesn't need arms or legs," he said, narrowing his eyes at the bloody sniveling mess Torchwick had been reduced to.

Illya hummed her agreement as she snapped her finger and redid the restraints around the White Fang members. She didn't think they were of any concern, but she didn't know if any of them had also been augmented with magecraft like the "Lyle" guy had been.

The White Fang were none too happy to be restrained again. But the pressure Shirou exerted was too overwhelming that they frozen in intimidation. They looked at the situation, and their hearts sunk. Once Torchwick had his turn, they would surely be next.

Shirou raised his swords. There was a small voice at the back of his mind criticizing him for being too aggressive, but he shoved it aside. This man had threatened to kill Illya. He didn't deserve justice.

Torchwick's life flashed before his eyes. He saw a myriad of bitter memories play out in the black and white swords coming down to chop him up into pieces. He saw his squalid upbringing, his torment as the only kid without a semblance in school, his first jobs as a petty thief and as a conman. He saw the scary woman with the fiery eyes giving him the mask, the one he had made Lyle wear. He remembered the words she said.

A special kind of Grimm. Even death has no hold over them. Command them and they will obey.

"Lyle! Kill them all!" Torchwick screamed frantically. His scratchy panicked voice spread to the far corners of the rooftop.

Shirou paused his swords. He scrunched his brows at the hysterical man beneath him. Was it a diversion? No, he smelled something afoul in the air. He looked over his shoulder. Behind him, the decapitated corpse was still on the floor, but it jerked its legs. A haze of black miasma came out of the corpse, and it began to stand up.

"Illya!" Shirou shouted on impulse, throwing Kanshou and Bakuya at the monster who was directly in front his sister.

The married blades pierced the creature's flesh, locking up its joints. But it paid the swords no mind as it stood back up and smashed them to pieces with its contracting muscles. A new head spawned out of its neck, snarling at Illya with its bone white mask.

Illya clicked her tongue as she jumped back, dodging the monster's inky black claws. She wove a giant mallet out of wires and swung at the beast. "Shirou!" she called out as she sent the beast flying his way.

Shirou left Torchwick's side and intercepted the target with a pair of spears he projected. Red and yellow blades pierced through black flesh as he wielded the weapons of a Celtic warrior from legend, Gáe Dearg and Gáe Buidhe.

The spears belonged to Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, the first of the Knights of Fianna. The red one could cut through magical defenses and the yellow one left mortal unhealing wounds on the enemy. Shirou pinned the beast's left leg with the red spear and used the yellow spear to divvy up the beast to bits.

The monster roared in rage as its black blood sprayed over Shirou's person. Its smoldering red eyes glared into Shirou's own silver eyes. The creature's senseless rampage flared up into a frenzied hatred, as if recognizing Shirou to be its mortal enemy.

The composed look on Shirou's face collapsed. This thing was different from other Grimm. It actually had enough strength to shatter Kanshou and Bakuya and it was constantly releasing a strange miasma all over its body.

When the miasma entered Shirou's nose, he felt his mind be polluted with the creature's negative emotions. His heart felt wave after wave of the monster's despair and rage. Its curses screamed in his head, demanding for destruction.

"W-what are you?" Shirou clicked his tongue as his judgement was thrown off. He had to take back control. "I am the-"

Before Shirou could continue, the monster used that opening to chomp down at Shirou's left arm. His arm was reinforced to withstand the attack, but the creature specifically targeted the yellow spear Shirou held, breaking it in two.

Once Gáe Buidhe broke, its curse was broken as well and the monster's body immediately started to heal up. It tore off its own left leg that was still skewered by Gáe Dearg, discarding the leg and freeing itself. The creature then leapt back into the air with the power of its remaining leg. It stopped

"Shirou!" Illya shouted tensely. She sent a string of magical energy to Shirou's arm, healing him up with magecraft. The contract between them as Master and Servant facilitated the transaction well.

With his arm healed and the monster a safe distance away, Shirou recovered his bearings. He gritted his teeth in disbelief that he had let thing get away. He also had to reevaluate the monster's intelligence as it immediately understood the danger Gáe Buidhe posed and targeted it specifically.

"I am the bone of my sword," he whispered under his breath, clearing his looked up to see the monster's jump wasn't just to escape the unfavorable interlock with Shirou but to retreat back to Torchwick and the White Fang's side.

Torchwick smiled through the pain as he wiped the blood off his lips. The woman's words had been true. Even a material death could not destroy the monsters born from that mask. "Do it! Obey my command, you dirty mongrel!"

The White Fang members watched in horror as their vaunted leader, the Red Wolf, Lyle Radolf stood before them as a Grimm. Lyle reached out to the nearest White Fang member still trapped in Illya's restraints.

But instead of freeing the man, he sunk his teeth into the defenseless man's body, destroying his aura in the process. Blood spilled all over the floor as the White Fang faunus writhed in a fit of futile resistance. His mouth was gagged so he couldn't even scream as his leader ate him.

The move shocked everyone on the rooftop, even Shirou and Illya who watched on from a safe distance. They watched as the many wounds on the monster's body heal up after it ate the White Fang member.

"What the hell?" Illya asked incredulously. She pulled her hand back, whisking the White Fang members to safety. She didn't like them, but she didn't want them serving as feed for the monster.

But before they could be taken to safety, two of the White Fang were grabbed by the monster. Its dark claws severed Illya's wire restraints. Without them, the two were left at the monster's side. They quickly begged for their lives.

"STOP! It's me, Captain! It's Finn! We're frie–"

"Captain Radolf! DON'T–"

The monster squeezed its claws and the two were silenced. Their auras crumbled and they stopped struggling, dangling raggedly in the beast's grip. The monster bit their heads off, making another bloody mess. Their bodies quickly disappeared into the inky blots all around the beast's body.

The rest of the White Fang lucky enough to be saved by Illya watched in horror as their comrades were devoured without a trace. They couldn't understand what was happening.

But Shirou and Illya's faces turned grim with recollection. They recalled seeing something incredibly similar back in their home world, a black monster that could swallow people by simply capturing them.

Torchwick grinned wickedly at the bloody mess in front of him. He was already too far gone to care about anything. Worker's rights? Hazard-pay for grunts? Who cares. He just wanted everything to be over with. "Break the barrier!" he commanded.

As strong as his new pet Grimm was, Torchwick still knew that there were two enemies before them. The man with the swords and the little demon girl with the wires. If Lyle was stuck with fighting one of them, then the other would go after him. Torchwick's body was in tatters. He could die at any moment.

All things considered, Torchwick's best move was to escape.

Lyle finished digesting the energy from consuming two of his men. His body had now grown thrice in size and he leaped to the edge of the roof. He rammed his entire body into the invisible walls cordoning the roof deck from the rest of the world.

"Wait!" Shirou yelled as he chucked a dozen swords at Lyle. All the blades connected with the creature's body, but they didn't stop it's charge.

The dark energy wrapped around Lyle pierced through the walls of Illya's bounded field. A large monster size hole was made on the west side of the bounded field.

Illya clicked her tongue. She waved her hands to mend the hole, but contrary to expectations, the boundary field stopped responding to her. Something was interfering with her control over that section of the barrier. Was it the monster's miasma?

"What? That bitch–"

Before Illya could finish her slur, an explosion rocked the roof deck. A cloud of smoke filled the area, concentrated around the hole in the barrier. Illya's skin tingled as she felt more intruders breach her bounded field. The floor shook beneath her as they used a combination of grenades and smoke cannisters to mask their movements.

"How annoying," Illya spat out in displeasure. The dust clouds spreading across the deck only seemed to grow thicker with time as more explosions rang in succession. "You're going to wake up at the neighbors at this rate!" she complained.

Shirou narrowed his eyes. The situation had changed. With the bounded field now compromised, the outside world could now hear everything going on the rooftop, although at a lower volume. He had to put a stop to this farce, quickly and quietly.

He raised his hands to his waist and stuck his right foot forward, assuming a stance. He projected a five-foot-long katana in his hands. Its absurd length would probably better fit a laundry-drying pole, but its length was just about right for Shirou's purpose.

The blade glinted a faint purple light. Shirou narrowed his eyes. He mustered all his strength into one swing powerful enough to distort space.

"That's far enough!" he declared, slicing through the cloud of smoke and dispelling it altogether.

The situation was immediately revealed to them. The monster had disappeared, but Torchwick had left a trail of blood as he was carried away by a woman with brown and pink hair with white streaks. The woman growled in their direction with silent fury.

Around the two were a bunch of shady men with bowler hats and red shades. They fired their weapons at Shirou and Illya. A colorful assortment of dust bullets came flying in their direction but Illya simply erected a wall out of wires to block them all.

Once the initial onslaught of enemy fire was done, Shirou returned the attack in kind with a barrage of swords. The goons clearly didn't expect such a retaliation and took the brunt of the attack. They fell to the ground and their bodies glowed faintly. Only their auras had saved them from becoming human pincushions.

But now with their auras compromised, none of them looked eager to continue the fight. They scrambled back up and quickly ran towards the hole to escape, tailing right after their boss in the lead.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Shirou asked as he launched another serving of swords at their retreating backs.

But Torchwick merely looked back at them with a taunting look.

The swords pierced into Torchwick's chest. But instead of blood coming out of his emaciated body, he and along with all his men shattered into pieces like they were reflections on a mirror. Shards of broken glass littered the floor where Shirou's stood planted.

"A semblance?" Shirou grumbled in annoyance. He fumed in irritation. They were the ones who had barged into their home and they had the audacity to just run away. His nose twitched. Now that the monster and its miasma were gone, his sinuses had cleared and he finally smelled some kind of magical energy in the air.

"Shirou, look up," Illya said as she craned her neck up. Her white hair was blown back from the gust of wind created by a small troop-carrier flying overhead above them.

It was one of Remnant's patented Bulkheads. Its small compact frame was built to let it soar through cramp spaces. It flew off in haste, leaving the busy commercial district and.

"They're leaving? Just like that?" Shirou said with a bitter taste in his mouth. He considered shooting the Bulkhead down with an explosive arrow but decided against it. He'd risk too much collateral damage down below.

"It's amazing they were able to sneak that hunk of metal so close without us noticing. Is that another of this world's semblances? Isn't that just cheating?" Illya complained in a huff.

The two of them watched as the bulkhead vanished into thin air. Like it had never been there at all, they could only see a cloudy night sky above a sleepy row of buildings.

Shirou clicked his tongue. He agreed in his heart that semblances were pesky. They varied from one another so widely that it made planning for them to be incredibly difficult.

"We're not going to let them get away with this, right?" Illya asked. She mended the hole on her bounded field. Now that the thieves had escaped, Illya regained full control of it and she added several more layers of defense into the barrier.

"Yeah," Shirou affirmed with a nod of his head. "They saw too much and they're probably familiar with magecraft," he said gravely. He dispelled all the projections scattered across the rooftop, sighing reluctantly.

"Can your body still keep up?" Illya asked as she looked over her brother's condition.

"I'm fine. My mind's still holding on. I can still continue," Shirou said resolutely. The fighting had only been for a short while. His mind was still his own, however much Archer's influence fought him for control.

Illya still worried, but she knew better than to continue asking. She looked over the six White Fang members still quietly trapped in their restraints on the floor.

They'd been left behind by Torchwick quite easily. And given how three of them had just been eaten by that monster, they were probably expendable.

Illya crouched down to the nearest one. It was a girl with cute rabbit ears on her head. Illya smiled generously.

"Shit. What the hell was that?"

These were the first words out of Torchwick's mouth the moment he reached the safety of their bulkhead. The pilot's semblance masked their get-away vehicle from prying eyes, so they could speed through the tall buildings of Vale City without anyone noticing. The pilot was another new hire introduced by the woman at the top.

Torchwick hissed in pain as he felt his wounds flare up. "Be gentler!" He bared his fangs at Neo who busied herself removing his bloody clothes and bandaging him.

The mute woman could only offer him a worried look. With her quivering lips, she tended to him as best she could. But just staring at his bare chest, she could see the patchwork of holes riddling Torchwick's abdomen.

After a lot of work, Neo somehow managed to stop the bleeding, at least all the external type. She cleaned him up with a first-aid kit they had on board and wrapped him up in bandages.

The rest of the people in the bulkhead watched on in silence. Standing among them was the shadowy form of a Beowolf, though much smaller now. It was the man once known as Lyle Radolf. But now, he was nothing more than Torchwick's loyal dog, waiting on orders.

"G-guard me…" Torchwick muttered with bated breath. He felt a jolt of pain in his ribcage with every breath, but he had to give specific orders if he wanted Lyle to obey. "Kill anyone who attacks me…" he said as his voice weakened to but a quiet whisper.

Only adrenaline had kept Torchwick conscious for so long. And after few minutes into their flight, he finally felt sure his life was safe from the clutches of that demon girl. Torchwick collapsed under his subordinate's care.

The last thing he saw was Neo's worried bicolored eyes staring down at him with pity.

Darkness was no stranger to Torchwick. He lived in its shadow all his life. But after tonight, the torture he survived, he felt his mind recede into a special pit of darkness. He slipped in and out of consciousness, alternating between delirious oblivion and waking agony. His soul walked the thin line between life and death.

Torchwick knew if he just gave in right now, then there would be no going back. He would simply die a meaningless death in the company of his men and Neo.

Without making anything of his life, without accomplishing anything, he could die just like that.

But Torchwick refused to simply go quietly into the night. He persisted, sweating bullets as he opened his eyes. He saw Neo's worried face, and then felt his body's weight press himself down, and his eyes closed back into darkness.

It was in that precarious state that Torchwick eventually returned to their base of operations. They had arrived at the old, abandoned warehouse they had commandeered. Neo and one of his men carried him to rest on his bed in his personal room on the third floor.

Torchwick stirred when he felt the familiar comfort of his own bed. His consciousness returned to the realm of the living. He cast a weary look at Neo at his side. "W-were we followed…?"

Neo hastily shook her head. She motioned to the door where Torchwick saw Lyle waited in silence.

Torchwick nodded, putting his mind at ease thanks to Lyle's continued presence. "Heh, he's a lot more useful this way," he whispered, snickering.

"How long was I out?" Torchwick asked weakly.

It had felt like an eternity had passed to Torchwick, but Neo just raised two fingers to show how many hours had passed. Though if this much time had passed and they hadn't been attacked, Torchwick assumed they were safe.

He set his head back on his pillow. He could hardly move an inch of his body. Powerless, he could only stare up at the ceiling, counting the number of stains.

"Another botched gig, huh. The boss-woman's not gonna like this…" Torchwick muttered in self-derision, sighing painfully.

"No, she would most certainly not."

The voice came out of nowhere, startling Torchwick and Neo. The two of them were the only people in the room and Lyle didn't speak unless spoken to. Torchwick craned his head back up with great difficulty. He surveyed his room, stopping at one corner of the wall.

A small butterfly hid in the shadows. Its black and red wings contrasted vividly in the darkness. It looked out of place in Torchwick's room. Another person would have assumed it was just a lost butterfly that stumbled in through the window.

But Torchwick knew better. Upon closer inspection, the butterfly had speck of white on its head. The insect wore a small bone-white mask like a Grimm. Its beady red eyes burned menacingly at Torchwick and Neo.

It was a new breed of Grimm recently found in the northern regions of Remnant. The folks in charge of naming Grimm called it a "Psyche". But Roman Torchwick recognized the creature as his new boss' personal choice of communication, a special kind of Grimm that allowed for long-distance communication like a scroll.

"You… were watching all that?" Torchwick asked, grunting wryly.

"Not all of it," the voice answered. It was an exceedingly cold voice, the kind that belonged to a woman who had the hobby of devouring men. "Just the part when you ran with your tail between your legs."

Torchwick looked away from the butterfly, closing his eyes as he remembered what hell he'd just survived. "It's not my fault. No one said the shop would have freaks for owners! I lost my arm to those bastards!"

But his suffering earned him no pity, only indifference. The butterfly just flapped its wings once. "You were given one of the new masks, and yet still failed. There shouldn't be anything in this world with the power to stop the new Grimm so easily…" the voice sounded curious about this turn of events.

Torchwick felt a lump of discomfort stuck in his throat. He couldn't see the expression of the person on the other end, but his heart stopped when he saw the butterfly left the wall and flew towards him. With each flap of its blood red wings, crimson dust fluttered in the air ominously.

Neo kept her umbrella ready, pointing the tip at the butterfly. But Lyle just stood motionlessly, as if it didn't dare challenge the little insect.

The butterfly stopped in midair above Torchwick's face.

"I will hear your excuses in person," the voice said dangerously. Torchwick swore there almost a hint of excitement in the woman's voice. "As we speak, my team is on its own way to your location. I'll wring out all the details of your report myself."

"Ugh, that sounds great," Torchwick scrambled to say something.

The woman's voice on the other end laughed scornfully. "Just wait there quietly, human," she said that last part like it was an insult.

Torchwick sighed exasperatedly. He watched on as the butterfly flew out of the room, probably to spy some more somewhere else.

He looked to his side. Neo frowned in displeasure, lowering her umbrella at the butterfly reluctantly. Torchwick smirked weakly, appreciating his partner's care. "N-neo–" he grunted, coughing a bit. "Have our people pack all our stuff. We're leaving this dump in a while."

Neo rolled her eyes and made a testy gesture with her hands. Torchwick understood that mean she'd already arranged for all that while he was out cold.

Torchwick coughed lightly. "Then, be a dear and get me another hat from the closet," he said, smiling weakly.

He may be missing an arm and covered in bandages like a mummy, but Torchwick still felt naked without a bowler hat on his head. It was his whole identity.

Neo happily complied with the request. She pulled out a spare hat and gently set it down on Torchwick's head of messy orange hair.

"Much better…" Torchwick sighed tiredly. "Now, if only we could find someone with a semblance to heal me up…"

Torchwick didn't bother worrying about the woman behind the butterfly coming to pick him up. He first had to survive long enough to meet her. He couldn't exactly check-in to a hospital as a wanted criminal. His best hope was probably the shady doctors in the underground.

As he pondered about his chances for living through the night, Torchwick remembered how the little girl called "Illya" had promised to heal him up after she was done torturing him.

"Like that crazy bitch could even do it," Torchwick mumbled, doubting how a girl obsessed with inflicting pain on others could be able to save lives. He hoped he wouldn't have to see her face for a long time.

But alas his hopes were dashed.

Torchwick's musings were rudely interrupted by the sound of an explosion rocking the walls. Lyle at the door immediately growled. An eerily familiar voice broadcasted itself across the entire warehouse, reaching even Torchwick's room.

"Knock, knock! We've come to play! Are you still kicking, Mr. Criminal?"

Torchwick felt his ribs creak in fear. His heart sunk at the sound of the little girl's voice. He cursed his dumb luck.

Illya smiled broadly as she blasted a wall to smithereens. She watched the debris crash into the warehouse floor, catching the men unaware. They screamed in a panic as they were dragged along by the wind pressure of the Illya's attack. In an instant, the group of fashionably dressed men were buried under an avalanche of rubble.

"Knock, knock!" Illya called out excitedly, as she hopped over the crumbled bits of concrete. "We've come to play!"

She waved her hand, and a tangle of wires shot out of her sleeves. They rushed forward with enough force to pierce through flesh and stone, wrapping around the toppled bodies of Torchwick's henchmen. The men yelped like cornered rats as Illya's wires tightly wound around them like snakes.

"Are you still kicking, Mr. Criminal?" Illya asked aloud, her voice light and giddy. She felt her spirits soar as she relished in the sheer destruction of it all. Like a child that found joy in toppling over blocks, Illya crushed everything in sight with a carefree smile.

The men under Torchwick's employ tried to break themselves free but panicked when the bindings tightened severely. Their bodies emitted faint colors of light as their auras cracked under the stress.

Illya waver her hand, and the wires disconnected from her sleeves. Now, untethered, she walked among the captured men, admiring her handiwork. She laughed at their sorry states.

"If you struggle too much, those wires will squeeze the life right out of you, y'know," she warned them in an off-hand manner. Walking past their petrified faces, she headed deeper into the warehouse.

The central floor of the warehouse had been a communal space with furniture scattered about stacks of crates. It was already a cluttered mess, but Illya's entrance had reduced it to an indistinguishable pile of rubble.

Illya scanned the area. Her red eyes stopped at the staircase at the far corner of the room that led to an office space on the third floor. The corner of her lips tugged upward.

"Right, there," she yelled as she threw out a bunch of red and green dust crystals. A flock of wire-construct birds formed around the crystals. They flew at breakneck speeds, pulling along a trail of rubble, as they sped towards the office on the third floor.

The birds crashed into the concrete wall and exploded in a burst of bright green light. The entire floor came crashing down and a cloud of dust spread across the room.

Illya's eyes shone with amazement at the sight. Her heart raced. The thrill of destruction and vengeance danced in tandem in her mind.

The dust cloud over the area gradually thinned away to reveal three silhouettes standing atop the rubble. Roman Torchwick glared at Illya fiercely. His heavily bandaged body was supported by the woman with odd hair holding an umbrella. Behind the two of them was the much larger figure of the monster from the rooftop, the Beowolf Grimm thing.

The monster must have shielded them from Illya's attack as its body was releasing a thick layer of miasma that acted like a barrier. It glared at Illya's direction. The miasma around it dissipated and it shrunk back to human form, bending its head down, as if waiting for instructions from Torchwick.

"You!" Torchwick gnashed his teeth at Illya. His face covered in sweat and dirt gleamed.

"Me!" Illya waved her hand at the three of them. She didn't seem to mind angry glares they were sending her way. On the contrary, she smiled even brighter the angrier they got.

"Mr. Criminal, you ran away so quickly that you forgot a lot of things at our store. Luckily for you, our lost and found policy is quite strict," Illya muttered, fiddling with the navy-blue purse she wore over her shoulder.

She had come out dressed in a thick purple coat over her usual dress. From out of her purse, she pulled out a severed human arm, still bloody and covered in a white coat sleeve. She waved it in the air for Torchwick to see. "You forgot something so important," Illya said, laughing.

Torchwick choked at the graphic image of his arm in the little girl's hands. He watched her wave it at him like it was saying "hello", like it was a toy. He felt Neo at his side, shaking with unspeakable fury.

"You should take better care of your things!" Illya sighed in a huff, shaking her head at Torchwick and Neo. "Thankfully, you guys also left behind a bunch of your friends who were more than happy to help us give it back to you."

Torchwick remembered the White Fang members he had to abandon at that girl's store. He knew they were a liability but had made a snap decision to prioritize his survival at that moment. Still, he had hoped they would've lasted at least a day under the little girl's questioning.

"Here," Illya said, lobbing the severed arm to the floor space a few feet in front of Torchwick. "Don't forget it this time."

This was some kind of game for the girl. Even now, Torchwick felt trapped in her web of wires. If her goal for showing him his lost arm like this was to rattle him, then it was working.

In a pinch, Torchwick thought quickly. He didn't stand a chance of winning against this faunus girl, not before and especially not now in his current state. He also didn't like Neo's chances of beating her. Lyle was his trump card, but he could only keep her busy, but then that would leave the girl's companion free to...

Torchwick narrowed his eyes.

If the bitch is here, then that self-proclaimed executioner should be…

Another explosion rocked the building. Torchwick grunted in pain as his wounds threatened to reopen. He looked at the direction where the commotion came from. It was the space behind the warehouse, the place where they had parked the bulkhead, filled to the brim with all of their highly volatile dust cargo.

"There's no running away this time," Illya declared with a smug smile. "I've already built a bounded field around this whole warehouse so we can blow it to hell, and no one would notice a thing."

"You little shit," Torchwick cursed. His escape path had been cut off.

Then to hell with it all.

In all his endeavors, Torchwick's priority had never strayed. He had always looked out for number one, himself. He needed to get out of this alive. If the bulkhead was gone, then they would have to stall until his boss showed up with her team.

"Lyle! Thrash her!" Torchwick commanded and the markings on the Lyle's mask glowed red.

"Shirou! Get him!" Illya ordered and red markings blazed to life on her face.

The black monster threw away its human shape and grew into a monstrous Beowolf Grimm, three times its original size. The beast roared, charging at the little girl.

But Illya had stopped fearing wolves long ago. Before the monster even had the chance, a man in red came crashing down from above, burying a pair of black and white swords deep into the creature's neck. Black blood came bursting out of its body, staining his tan skin.

"As you wish, Master," Shirou said gravely. He locked his silver eyes with the monster's own fiery red eyes. "Round two, beast."

This time, he wouldn't falter.

Author's Note:

Yay. Chapter 10. Double digits. That should be a milestone. It's just a shame it took so long to get here though, lol.

I honestly wanted to get right down to the Shirou vs Lyle fight. But there were so many factors that got in the way. This venue change from UBW to enemy territory allows for Shirou and Illya to really let loose. Shirou will fight Lyle, while Illya fights Neo.

Also, the butterfly lady. Lost butterfly. That's an HF reference. Who do you think will be the woman who shows up to save Torchwick's ass from Illya?

This chapter felt too long, so I added two line breaks in the first scene. I don't know if that's good thing or not.

Edit: I added some more details to better justify some stuff. But so far, this is probably how things will still turn out. That might change if I can find a better way to write this chapter.

Edit: I added a new poll on my profile: "In Promise of Winter, do you want Torchwick to die?" Please answer?

If you're feeling generous and can afford the trouble, would you buy me a coffee please? (ko-fi dot com slash dhaturas).

Thank you for reading.