I don't own anything. RWBY is not owned by me. It is owned by talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me.
The Great Game
Salem stared out across the endless white sand of her domain. With part of her mind she pondered the rate at which the ichor gathered, and how many of her Grimm were currently spawning. As always dozens of ideas to improve the situation floated through her mind, before being just as swiftly dismissed.
Another part of her attention was busy tracking the actions of her most powerful minions. She could follow the existence of every Grimm on her plane, although she generally ignored the rank and file, only focusing on the powerful and intelligent Alphas, as well as her eyes and ears, the jellyfish-like Seers. One in particular was of interest, as it was watching over Cinder, who was still grievously wounded. It was a shame to have such a valuable pawn be maimed in that fashion, but she would either recover or she could find another.
In some ways Cinder Fall being so badly wounded was an advantage for the Queen of the Grimm. The Sidhe Lord had a genius intellect and centuries of experience in the insidious politics of Faerie, but all of her years were a mere blink in the eye for Salem, who had existed long before the Earth had emerged from its accretion disk, and would exist long after it met its ignominious end. Having Cinder defeated, maimed, and dependent upon her aid would make her pliable, and she had time to turn her into a better tool than before. One who wouldn't lose to humans in what should have been her moment of triumph.
Another fraction of Salem's vast consciousness kept track of Emerald as well. The illusionist was far too weak to be of interest normally, but she did make it easier to take care of Cinder as her Grimm were ill equipped for the role of nursemaid. She was also a little impressed that the human hadn't simply died from being on the plane for so long. Even with binding magic designed to hold back the endless miasma of dark magic that permeated everrything so that she could sleep, most humans would've slipped and exposed themselves to enough demonic energies to have already died. Salem gave her chances of living long enough for Cinder to take her off plane as quite low, but it was entertaining watching her struggle.
The majority of Salem's thoughts were consumed by her most recent meeting, however. Weiss Schnee had apparently summoned more than few demons recently, seeking aid in rescuing her demigod lover. She had finally tracked down the demon aristocrat that the human had sold part of her name to, and while it wasn't enough to actually harm the mage, it had other uses. Most would find it too difficult to do anything with only part of a name and with the Great Barrier restored, but Salem was powerful enough to establish a scrying link from just that, and she was already directing some of her seers to do so. Knowledge was power, and after coming so close this time that she didn't intend to wait a generation before trying to claim the mortal realm.
She was still mulling over her options when she felt a disturbance. Focusing part of her consciousness on the problem, she swiftly realized what it was. Honestly, she had been expecting his arrival for some time, and she quickly issued mental commands to her forces to send only the most expendable Grimm, and those that had recently annoyed her, into the path he was planning to take. There was no point in losing anything valuable, especially with how much energy she was already having to pour into replacing the dragon she lost.
As expected it didn't take him long to arrive, although she didn't move an inch from her position at the window, keeping track of his actions through those he killed along the way. He hovered near the door as always, no doubt checking for the traps she had left and dealing with them. She had long ago learned that they were pointless, but he would be even more annoying to deal with if she didn't follow the forms.
"Your plan failed again," he said.
Salem slowly turned and examined the luminous being. His body was composed of four wheels of constantly spinning fire, and hovering within three of them were large, human-like eyes which boldly locked with her own gaze. The entire being was surrounded by a glowing halo of golden light, and simply its presence was causing any of her ichor in the area to boil away into nothing.
"My plan may have been stopped, but I have suffered few losses, archangel," Salem said. "You have found yourself once again discorporated. It will be years before you are in a position of power once again in the human world."
"Ozpin was old, and it was time for his soul to know peace," the archangel said. "I will find a new host soon enough. You have lost our conflict once again, demon."
Salem chuckled. "You play the losing side. No matter how many pieces you capture, no matter how many times you block my way, my every move puts you in check once more. Someday humanity will fail the test, and even your presence will no longer be enough to change fate. All I need is one victory. You cannot withstand even a single defeat."
"So you have said time and again," he replied. "And yet, here we are once more."
"Yes, here we are," Salem said. She unleashed her full presence, shadowing the room in darkness and making every Grimm on the plane howl in unison as they fell to their knees in supplication to their god-queen. "Unless you intend for our ancient game to end at last, I'd advise that you depart."
The archangel was unaffected by the aura, although it did start to move away. "You will not win, Salem. You cannot while there are still those willing to stand against you."
Salem chuckled as he left. "No, Uriel. I have learned a few things from all of our conflicts; our war cannot be won with force of arms. No, when I am finished humanity will have no interest in standing against me. And when their corruption is complete I will watch you burn."
Salem turned back to the window, her primary attention shifting to her next move. While Cinder had been focused on manifesting her, Salem had also asked her to make contact with certain interesting mortals. For the first time in her existence she had formed a cabal of humans to serve her, and she was looking forward to seeing what they were capable of.
The mortal world would fall, and she would make her next move soon.
That completes this story! While I've obviously left plenty of openings for a sequel, I most likely won't write one. This story took a couple of years of daily effort, and I'm ready to move on to something else. It's possible that I'll write some pieces in the same setting once I've taken a break, but don't wait up for it.
I want to thank all of the people who left me so many reviews. Whenever it became hard to keep writing I'd get a supportive message, and sometimes that was all that kept me going. I still can't believe I managed to finish a story this big, and it was only because of all of you that I did.
I've started planning my next project (more White Rose!) but it'll be a while before it's ready to start posting. Hopefully you'll enjoy that as well! Until then, thank you all for being so supportive, and I hope that everyone has a lovely day!