Disclaimer: RWBY is the property of Rooster Teeth. Guildwars is property of ArenaNet
The Noble Roses: Chapter 10
Pyrrha Nikos had never felt so alone. Floating along in the darkness, she could hear nothing, see nothing, and for the most part even feel nothing external to herself. The effect was almost crushing at first, claustrophobia wasn't something she had experienced much of before but here it was unavoidable. There was also euphoria, the dulling of stimulation causing that which could feel to feel so much more vibrant, including her thoughts. As the minutes passed she grew more relaxed, her mind coming to terms with the lack of stimulation she was experiencing.
As much as she tried to focus on listening for any internal voice, Pyrrha couldn't stop her mind from wandering. She thought of her team, back in the dorm cleaning up after a good days practice and mission, working on their own projects or assignments for class. She herself had a lot to do after her current task was done, though she was confident she could complete it in time for a good night's rest. She started thinking of the next days schedule and what training she wanted to work with Jaune on next, and the bright smile he gained when a move finally clicked before shaking her head, water splashing around and causing her to bump into the capsules sides. She wasn't here to think of such things, she was here to make contact. The water calmed after a minute, and Pyrrha refocused her concentration.
She turned her focus inward, hoping to amplify the voice of whatever was reaching out to her. After a few minutes, Pyrrha at last was able to discern two very faint words.
"Reach out?" Pyrrha thought to herself, "reach with what?".
'Reach out' the voice repeated. Pyrrha contemplated the request. It was unlikely an internal voice would be talking about her hands, she reasoned, which meant it was asking her to reach out with something inside herself.
"Aura is a projection of the soul, maybe that would work?" Pyrrha concentrated, her black tinted aura projecting around her form, not that she could see it in the darkness. This had an effect, the voice was louder, more defined, and clearly that of a woman.
'Excellent. Now focus on your gift.'
"My gift…" Pyrrha had an epiphany. "Of course! This is about my profession, so it stands to reason something about it would be the key." Pyrrha concentrated, remembering the feel of her her new skills effects on her attacks, her movements, and how it felt when she shadowstepped.
Pyrrha's aura subtly shifted, and her awareness expanded. Despite the darkness, Pyrrha found that she could see. It was not just the inside of the isolation tank that was now visible to her, but the room around it as well.
"What….what is this?" Pyrrha marveled at her new awareness, noting it was the same with her eyes open or closed.
"That, young one, is the sight without sight."
"It's…incredible!" She couldn't resist waving her hands around in the dark, her fingers as now visible to her in the dark as they were in bright daylight. It was not the same as seeing her surrounding with her eyes however, this new awareness enveloped in a fog of sorts. Pyrrha could make out a great deal in the room, to various degrees of clarity.
"I is a gift of the mists, but one you are already familiar with in a way. You do not rely solely on your sight to overcome your foes, after all."
"Situational awareness is the key to victory", Pyrrha said, recalling a lesson long ago instilled in her from her time at Sanctum. Every sense added to the picture, and it was follow to ignore them in a fight.
"Your victories are well known, champion, your star burns bright. Is fame what you seek with your skills? Do you wield your power in the pursuit of fortune?"
"No!" Pyrrha shouted, her vision distorting. Quickly she calmed herself, refocusing on the voice one more and reaching out with her new sight. "Sorry, but no."
"Oh? Is not fortune and fame that which many people aspire to?"
"But it comes at too high a price. Sure, it's nice to have money, and fame can be fun at times but you get placed on a pedestal, alienated from others. You find yourself the object of worship for some, while others fear getting too close to you, feeling unworthy. Worse yet, you draw the attention of those that seek to exploit you for their own ends." Pyrrha had run ins with all of those above, for good and ill. Fans weer nice, but not the same as friends. As for the scammers, con artists and related, well, she'd often found herself wishing she was dealing with them in the arena. There at least she could give their offers a proper response.
"So for what end do you hope to wield your power?"
"I seek to wield it in service to others, against the creature of grimm and for justice's sake. To safeguard those who cannot defend themselves." Such was the duty of a huntress, in Pyrrha opinion.
"Would you seek to beat back the chaos and darkness alone? You could be revered as a legend in your own time"
""I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be known as a great huntress, to be remembered as such once i'm gone." Pyrrha thought about her next words for while. "But I don't think one person alone could achieve such a victory over the foes we face, even the heroes of old had comrades at their side, armies even."
"Are you not powerful though? Is your shield not broad and your spear sharp?"
"No one is an island. A person who is strong alone is stronger together with others." Another lesson the instructors had drilled into her. Sadly, her meteoric rise to fame had caused many to doubt the wisdom of their instructors, attempting to replicate her exploits. More than a few had walked away such folly bruised in both body and ego.
'Will you stand only for a chosen kingdom?"
Pyrrha shook her head, "Mistral may be my homeland, but I will go where I am needed, now and always".
"So which aspect of you is the real one? Your true face?"
Pyrrha thought about it. What made her, what her? She couldn't deny her fame, her skills, her newfound power, her team, everything contributed to what made her, well her.
"They all are. We are a sum of all our parts, for better or worse. I cannot deny any part of myself without denying the whole. No matter how painful some of those parts may be, or how joyous, they are a part of what defines me as an individual"
The voice was silent for a time, but soon spoke again. "You and I have much in common, Herald."
Pyrrha was about to ask for clarification before she was overcome with a vision. Before her was a large, faceted crystal. As Pyrrha gazed at it, she saw in each face an moving image. A young warrior clad in white and gold armor, spear and shield raised, foes laying defeated before her.
"My skills won me renown, praise, and the burden of command. Yet it was not adoration that drove me, but duty"
Another facet showed the woman surrounded by comrades, training them, leading them into battle.
"My comrades were the source of my strength, for a Sunspear does not fight alone."
Another facet, another vision, this time of the woman tormented, her face bandaged and her sight taken from her.
"I was robbed of my vision, but gifted with sight. My body wracked, but given strength. By soul flayed, but given hope. My ego bruised, yet I remained resolute"
Another facet showed her leading comrades though the darkness to face some unseen, but terrible foe.
"The darkness invaded and we invaded it, my comrades and I carried the light with us and brunt it away, and a great gift was realized."
Pyrrha was in awe at what she was seeing. It was like watching a thousand movies playing about a life, all at the same time, and all so clear.
"Just as all these define me, so to do they define you. Our hearts are one in the same."
Suddenly, the woman appeared before Pyrrha. Her armor shone brightly, even in this strange new vision of Pyrrha's. It looked just as it had in the crystal's recollection, covering much of her form save for glimpses of her dark and weathered skin. Her eyes were covered in by her helm, but Pyrrha had no doubt that she could see Pyrrha clear as day. She was stoic, beautiful and radiated strength and awe.
The woman held the crystal in her hands, offering it to Pyrrha. "Take it Herald." With only a moment's hesitation, Pyrrha reached out with her hands, and to her amazement, grasped it.
And in the crystals facets, she beheld a chronicle of her own life, from her first unsteady steps toward becoming a huntress in her youth, to her rise in fame as she skills grew and her victories accumulated. She saw herself chose to leave it behind, to start anew in Beacon. Pyrrha saw her initiation, the meeting with Jaune in the locker room, rescuing him from the tree, their fight alongside the others versus the grimm and their empowerment. These, and a thousand other memories danced before her.
Pyrrha tore her eyes from the crystal and looked at the mysterious woman before hr. "For me?"
"Yes Herald. Take this and walk the path you have chosen for yourself, and do your duty to yourself and your comrades. I ask you now to channel my strength along side your own, now and forever shall we be comrades. Others will join you in time, as your skills grow and your destiny guilds you. Will you enter into this covenant with me?"
Pyrrha spoke without hesitation, "Yes, together may we hold back the darkness with our shields, and burn it away with our weapons."
The woman smiled, "Then so shall it be."
The crystal shattered, the shards absorbing into Pyrrha. Her UI flashed with the acquisition of new skills, at last filling in the blanks she had been so desperate to unlock.
The woman started to fade, before Pyrrha called out.
"Wait! I never introduced myself, where are my manners. My name is Pyrrha Nikos, student huntress of Beacon and member of Team JNPR. It is a pleasure to meet you."
The woman laughed. "And I am Kormir, Spearmashal of the Order of the Sunspears. Ahai, Pyrrha Nikos.
"Hello!" Pyrrha replied with a smile.
"Till we meet again, Pyrrha."
"I look forward to it, Kormir."
The woman faded into mist, and Pyrrha eyes snapped open to the sound of the capsules light returning, and her preset alarm going off. She opened the tank with a touch and pulled herself into a seating position, reacquainting herself with the feel of gravity and the sensations of the outside world.
With unsteady feet she climbed out of the capsule, brushing some stray hair out of her face. She had came looking for answered, and by the gods did she find them. She examined her UI, noting she had unlocked multiple skills, Facets as they were called. Light, Darkness, Strength, Elements and Chaos, all tied to a new icon, which identified itself as the "Legendary Spearmarshal Stance" and one beside that was labeled as the Facet of Nature.
Pyrrha couldn't stop herself from jumping for joy. She considered writing a guild message to inform them of the good news but decided against it, this was the sort of thing best relayed face to face. She resolved to inform them as soon as possible, she couldn't' wait to see the look on their faces.
Pyrrha was across the room and hand on the doorknob before remembering her current state of affairs, that is nude and dripping wet.
"Well, maybe they can wait a few minutes.." she said to herself with a blush, turning toward the shower and prepared towels. A few minutes later, she was bathed, dried, and and moved to her hanging uniform, and noticed a chest was waiting for her beside them. She opened it, and from within pulled out a set of weapons. The shield was taller than he usual one, elongated like an pointed oval and decorated with iconography Pyrrha recognized from the crystal vision as eight pointed emblem of the Sunspear order. The shield mecha shifted like Jaune's into a smaller, easier to handle version. There was also a sword, which easily and smoothly shifted into a rifle and a spear like her own Miló. It also was adorned with Sunspear iconography and matched the art style of the shield. They were identified by her UI as the "Resolution" and the sword as "Duty."
Pyrrha quickly got dressed, storing her new arms in her pack and raced back to her dorm. Her team needed to hear all about this.
The tree exploded into splinters from the force of the ursa major flying though it, the grimm coming to rest a short distance later in a slide. Any chance of the beast recovering was dashed a second later by means of a yellow and red arcing fireball known to her friends as Yang Xiao Long. Yang smashed into the Ursa's groin with a punch fueled by the full power of her berserk rage, the impact sending shock waves through the ground and annihilating the last bit of the grimms HP and dignity.
Yang casually wiped off her hands and dusted off her jacket. "And that's how it's done, ladies." Ruby clapped at her sisters finisher, while Blake and Weiss deadpanned.
"You're not going to dance now, are you?" Weiss said, clearly looking to move on.
"You're no fun, you know that Weiss?" Yang said, though her tone indicated she was less than serious about the comment.
"I'm plenty fun! It's just we're wasting time if we do it after ever elite kill, we should save it for champions, you know, keep it special." That was Weiss's story and she was sticking to it.
The others considered this. Sure, the fight with the elite ursa majors had been a challenge, but perhaps there was some merit to Weiss's suggestion. Or at least they'd fake it or now, Weiss toe tapping and hurried expression spoiling the mood..
"Alright alright, let's loot and move on. " Ruby said, moving to collect her drops.
Yang rolled her shoulder, "Man these elimination mission are fun, but kind of tiring."
"Technically it's a grimm population survey and reduction mission, but I agree. It's nice to cut loose and not worry about meeting a set objective." Blake said, before taking the time to recite and recharge a few of her mantras.
"Don't the sensors already, you know, do that? Keep track of the grimm I mean."
"They do Yang, but with all the sensor failures and strange readings as of late, proper surveys are needed to confirm sensor readouts. Better safe than sorry."
"Good point Blake."
Weiss, pleased to be moving on, was already marking down the fights grimm casualties and location. "Per the mission parameters, we should start heading in the general direction of the guild meetup now. It's going to take a while to reach, especially if we run into anything else."
"Sounds good to me. Loot and scoot it is, team RWBY!" Ruby threw up a hand as she holstered her weapon. Nods all around, the huntresses collected their loot and resumed formation.
"That was some nice earth magic back there Weiss, grimm never knew what hit it."
"Why thank you Blake, that was some nice...whatever the heck you did. The grimm looked like it was walking through mud in terms of reaction times."
"It was a Well of Action, according to my UI. This time magic stuff is quite useful, once you get the hang of it." The horology books she had been reading were giving her some solid ideas on how to work with her new skills.
"I wonder if we could combine chronomancy effects with some of my quickness or perception glyphs, may make some interesting combos." Weiss's mind was already considering the possibilities.
"Worth investigating, we'll see what we can mix up during guild training time." Weiss and Blake motioned the affirmative, and continued scanning for threats.
"This sector, grimm aside, is kind of pretty. Lots of ruins around here, makes me wonder what all this was back in the day." Yang said as the team passed what looked like old, broken foundations.
Blake took a closer look as they passed. "The style is similar to the cliff side ruins, I wonder if they are related."
"Didn't Doctor Oobleck mention something about this the other day? Like it was some sort of abandoned sector of the old Vale kingdom?"
Weiss's ponytail bounced as she nodded, "He did indeed Ruby. In fact, we've a field trip to a related site in the syllabus for later in the semester."
"I'm down for field work, beats sitting in a lecture hall all day." Everyone agreed with Yang on that front.
"Speaking of which, everything set for Forever Fall?"
"Yep! I've got it all sorted out Yang, we should be good to go. Interested to see what drops there." Ruby was always looking to add something new to her collection.
"I wouldn't count on getting anything, after all we're not expecting heavy combat."
"Be optimistic, Blake!"
"Only you would consider the possibility of combat against deadly grimm to be a good thing."
Ruby pouted, "That's so untrue! Yang looks forward to clobbering grimm more than I do."
"She's got a point there, Blake."
The team giggled. Life was quite interesting for a guild huntress it seemed.
Their revelry was interrupted by a new message in guild chat.
[Glynda: This is the regularly scheduled status check.]
[Ruby: RWBY here, no major issues, mission is proceeding normally.]
[Jaune: JNPR here, well, it's proceeding. We did run into something interesting, and then something incredible. We'll give you the full details when we see you, it's something better seen in person than explained via text. On the bright side, we know how Ren's profession works.]
[Glynda: Will there be any problems going forward?]
[Jaune: Depends on how you all react to the mechanic in question.]
[Glynda: Understood, be prepared to explain once you arrive at the rendezvous.]
[Jaune: Roger that.]
Team RWBY stared at each other. "I wonder what he's going on about?"
"Well Yang, it can't be any worse than Ruby's minions, can it?" Blake said to her partner.
Weiss was pale in the face, well, paler than normal. "Oh gods please tell me it can't be."
Ruby patted her partner on the back. "Nah, ain't nothing worse than my babies. Anyways, let's get a move on, I'm dying to see what's got JNPR in a tizzie."
Some time before JNPR's check in, Team JNPR was hard at work on their mission. Or more accurately, Pyrrha and Nora were showing off their new skills and toys, annihilating grimm and taking names while Jaune and Ren did their best to support them.
The current target of the teams gleeful slaughter was a sizeable nevermore. Said nevermore was currently coming at them with barrage of feathers on a low altitude attack run. Rather than the team scattering for cover, Jaune summoned up a large dome shaped magical shield around his team, which destroyed the feathers on contact.
"Now Pyrrha!" Jaune said, leveling his shield above his head as Ren fired a burst at the Nevermore, the grimm reeling back in pain from the barrage.
Pyrrha took a running leap, stepping off Jaune's shield like a launch pad, her sword shifting into javelin mode mid leap. Clearly not expecting it's prey to meet it in the air, the grimm was caught off guard as Pyrrha closed the distance, thrusting her javelin into its chest, the nevermore seizing in midair in pain and dropping to the ground. A scant second before it hit Pyrrha shadowstepped to safety, the nevermore's impact throwing up a plume of dust.
Before the anguished beast could recover, it was intercepted by a small, vaguely fish shaped rotor powered flying robot. The bot deployed razor sharp and dust hardened blades, whirling around in a deadly cyclone which tore into the nevermore in a shower of ichor and feathers. It's job done, the bot whirled one final time to rid itself of any stuck on blood before stowing it's blades and hovering back to Nora's side.
Task completed, the team exchanged a few high fives before going to loot the carcass, or at least what was left of it.
"Great job everyone, I think that's the last of them." Jaune said, scanning the nearby woods for any additional threats, and nodding satisfactory at the lack thereof..
"Your gyros are really something Nora." Ren said, observing the aforementioned gryo as it mecha shifted back into storage mod, Nora stowing it in a holster attached the inside of her overcoat. Nora's Gyros were a wonder of craftsmanship and utility. Deployed, they resembled rotor equip puffer fish, each designed with a different core function or weapon. They could also shift into a form that was easy to store for later use. Nora had certainly made great use of the parts Ozpin had acquired for her, or so Ren believed. He'd get no arguments from the rest of the guild on that matter.
"Thanks Ren! This field test is going a lot smoother than expected. So far, the blast and shredder gyros have performed beyond my expectations. Than again, I am awesome, so maybe they are at expectations? What do you think Ren?" Nora rambled, turning to her partner for his judgement.
"Be proud, they and you are indeed awesome."
"Speaking of awesome, Looks like your new skills are working out as well Pyrrha."
Pyrrha nodded, checking her drops and quickly stowing them in her pack. "Thank you! I'm still getting the hang of them, they seem to have passive and active effects. Learning which to use when will take some time. It's like I'm channeling the Spearmarshel's powers, it's an interesting feeling. They are both my skills, and hers."
Jaune patted his partner on the back, earning a smile from Pyrrha. "I'm sure you'll have it mastered in no time." Jaune said, as the party resumed their east ward journey. "How close would you say we are to this calling of your Ren?"
"Very. Probably less than a hundred meters to where it's coming from, I think." It was hard to accurately judge the distance to gut feeling after all.
"Alright, everyone be on your guard, we don't know what to expect and the grimm presence around here has been strangely high."
Agreement all around, they readied their weapons as they covered the last bit of ground, Ren leading the way with Pyrrha close behind, Jaune and Nora taking the rear.
"Right around here...quick, take cover!" Ren said, the team quickly obeying. He looked around the tree him and Pyrrha had covered behind and into the clearing ahead, which was surrounding some old ruins.
"What is it?" Nora said, unable to get a solid look herself from her own vantage point.
"Looks like more nevermore, juvenile ones, maybe a meter to meter and a half wingspan." Pyrrha said, shifting her weapon to rifle mode. She was confident she could pick a few of them off before they raised an alarm..
"Wait...something is different with these. Their nameplates are green...not red like normal." Ren said, rubbing his eyes.
Jaune was confused, " Is that possible? I mean, normally we only see that with people, and non hostile ones at that."
Pyrrha confirmed, "I see the same. I'm not sure what to make of this."
"You sure this is the place Ren?" Nora said, grenade launcher at the read and a Blast gyro hovering nearby, ready to attack a target once designated with it's internally stowed cache of bomblets.
"I'm sure of it." Ren took a solid look around, checking for other threats. "I think I know what to do. Get ready to cover me if i'm wrong, but hold fire until I give the signal"
"What's the plan?" Jaune said, mentally preparing an offensive mantra.
"This." Ren said, as he slowly broke cover and walked toward the closest Nevermore, weapons ready but not firing, semblance notably inactive. .
Pyrrha, Jaune and Nora changed positions, fingers on triggers and spells, in disbelief at the audacity of Ren's action.
Ren slowly approached his target, which turned to face him in curiosity, but otherwise made no movements indicating hostility. Ren was well aware of how dangerous even a small grimm could be, but trusted his instincts here. He holstered one of his weapons, and reached out toward the grimm with one of his hands, the other firmly gripping a readied machine pistol.
Every heart on team JNPR skipped a beat as Ren's hand came into contact, Ren himself freezing. For a moment the team was unsure what to do, their stomachs in ropes and beads of sweat on their brows.
The nevermore's eyes changed, going from haunting red to emerald green, and it perched itself on Ren's shoulder. Ren walked backward toward his team, careful to keep an eye on the nevermore still perched on the ruins.
At last he entered the treeline, and allowed himself to take a breath. "Well, glad to see that decision panned out."
Nora was at his side in an instant. "Ren, what were you thinking?" She pointed to the grimm, still perched on Ren's shoulder, it's eyes darting around at his team with curious glances. "And what's with that?"
"Well, turns out my instincts were right. Let me explain…"
The guild had assembled at a small ruined town square a short distance from Team JNPR's last position. The guild stood and sat in a semi circle, both keeping watch for any unwanted guests of the grimm variety, as well as keeping a sharp eye on Team JNPR's newest member, also known as a nevermore.
Despite their keen focus on the nevermore, there was little in the way of freaking out or controversy. Instead the assembled students and teacher were exhibiting more a cautious curiosity to the matter.
"I have to admit, I expected this to go a bit...well...worse." Ren said, nevermore still perched on his shoulder. "Especially given Weiss's reaction to Ruby's minions."
Weiss sighed, "While I've not seen a situation exactly like this, I'm not unfamiliar with grimm that have been in some way tamed. My family's semblance allows us to summon defeated adversaries as minions, including grimm. I regularly fought against said summoned grimm while training as a huntress student." Winter had summoned up everything under the sun during their training sessions, though real grimm were far more vicious and didn't stop when commanded.
"What? That's awesome! I've never seen you use that though, you holding back on me partner?" Ruby said, suddenly in Weiss's personal space.
Weiss gently pushed Ruby back a bit, gaining room to breath. "Sadly, my skill at such summoning is currently inadequate. I'm working on it, though training in my Weaving has been cutting into said practice." Weiss redirected the focus back onto Ren, "But enough about me, how exactly did you pull this off?"
"It would seem to be a profession function of the Soulbeast." Ren began, removing the grimm from his shoulder and placing it on the broken wall next to him. "Our UI flagged a group of them as non hostile, and I felt this urge from within to reach out and touch one. Once I touched it, it was flagged as friendly, and all sorts of new skills related to the direction and use of the grimm appeared. I've not had a chance to experiment or try most of it out yet, however, but I suspect as the bond between it and I grows, I'll have access to even more related skills pertaining to its use."
"Use of the grimm? Like you can command it?" Yang said, eyebrow raised.
"Indeed I can, observe." Ren pointed to a nearby rock, and the nevermore immediately flew off, pelting the rock with a barrage of feathers before returning to Ren's side. It looked to Ren for praise, and received a pat on the head for it's demonstration.
"Oh my gods sis, do you know what this means?" Ruby said, jumping up and down. "It means Ren is a.."
"He's a pet class. In other words, one that uses the abilities of a command-able minion to supplement their offensive and defensive abilities."
Everyone turned to Glynda, who was still rubbing her temples at the implication of this newest addition.
Ruby's mouth was open, words taking a minute to return to her. "That's...that's right! Do you play role playing video games, Glynda?"
Glynda ignored Ruby's minor breach of decorum by referring to her by her first name and replied, "I've not the time for such things in quite some time, but in my youth, I did partake in certain activities that familiarized me with the terminology and use."
"Wait, you were a pen and paper gamer? No wonder you've been able to adapt to all functions of your profession so quickly. We are so joining your next campaign." Yang said matter of factually. Yang wasn't much for that sort of game, but this was a possibility too good to pass up.
Glynda sighed, "I'll not be running one anytime soon, if ever Ms. Xiao Long. And as Ms. Schnee said, let's keep our focus on the matter at hand." Glynda turned to Ren, "While your new 'pet' will most certainly add to your utility if our theory is correct, it does create one obvious problem."
Ren nodded, seeing where this was going, "I can't exactly walk around Beacon with it, not without inviting a great many questions i've not got answers to. However, I think I have a solution."
"There is a section of my ui that deals with pet organization and storage. Here, i'll show you"
The guild watched as the grimm faded into nothingness with a shimmer of green light. A few seconds later it reappeared in a identical shimmer.
"It would appear that it can be dismissed and resummoned at will. I suspect that if I obtain others, I can cycle through them at will. I've no idea where it actually goes when dismissed, however."
Nora spoke up "Hey Ruby, maybe it goes to the same place as your horrible thingies do?"
"I don't think grimm come from the underworld...or do they?" Ruby turned to Glynda seeking confirmation. Glynda shrugged.
"Though grimm have been observed spawning from blackish pools, it's not known where they are before that, if they exist at all. Few who have investigated the pools have lived to tell the tale, and no one has survived entering one."
"I hope they aren't in the underworld, we have enough of them to deal with while living, I don't want to deal with them while I'm dead as well." Everyone nodded in agreement with Yang.
"I wonder if you could tame and store other things, like animals. Not sure how useful most of them would be in our line of work though."
"I suppose that's worth investigating Blake, though I'm not sure we're allowed animal pets at Beacon."
Jaune laughed, "i'm pretty sure were are even less allowed to have grimm in beacon. It's kind of the opposite of what we are going for at least." The joke earned a laugh from the rest of the guild.
Ren smiled, observing his new 'pet', "though it does present an interesting academic situation. A controllable grimm who doesn't suffer from the normal effects of grimm captivity would allow for up close and detailed study of grimm physiology, attacks, maneuverability and agility, and related".
Glynda's interest was peaked by that idea, "That's an intriguing point Mr. Ren, and one that deserves more investigation. I'd like you and team JNPR to carefully monitor and record any data you glean from your new pet, for the lack of a better term. I'll speak with the headmaster about this, perhaps we can find a plausible cover to disseminate anything you learn. Do you feel a 'calling' anywhere else? It could lead to another group of passive grimm."
Ren shook his head, "Sadly no. This may be a one time helping hand from whatever designed this system, a way of moving my profession along. I suspect any additional groups may have to be located the old fashioned way."
"So if anyone finds one, speak up in guild chat so Ren here can head that way and tame it." The guild affirmed Ruby's order. There was no telling when or if they would come across any more, but it was worth keeping an eye out for.
"Anyone else have a question or concern?" Ren said, eager to get on with practice.
"Just one, " Blake said, "What are you going to name it?"
The guild oohed at the question.
"Hey, that's a good point Blake!" Nora turned to her partner, "So Ren, what's that terrible critters name?"
Ren thought for a moment, before coming up with something he thought would be fitting. "Xianniang, or Xian for short. After someone I knew growing up."
"I suppose there is a story behind that one."
"There is Blake, but that's for another time." Ren stood up, Xian taking its place on his shoulder once again. "But I'm sure most of you are looking forward to practice, so let's not delay. I know Pyrrha and Nora are also looking forward to showing off their new skills."
That earned nods of agreement all around, and soon the guild organized up into various practice groups. Ruby tapped Jaune's shoulder for attention, and with a promise to Pyrrha to catch up with her in a minute, he turned to face Ruby.
"Well Jaune, I owe you an apology."
Jaune was confused, "I can't imagine what for, Ruby."
"Remember back in Ozpin's office when we first pitched all this" Ruby said, motioning around with a hand. Jaune nodded.
"You asked if our practice are could have passive grimm, which I told you didn't exist. As of today, I stand corrected."
Jaune raised his hands in mock cheer, "Sweet, sweet vindication! Though I wish more were like Xian over there, and less like, you know, every other grimm on Remnant."
Ruby laughed, "We'll take what we can get. Though speaking of the headmaster, you still on the hook for being his goofer?"
"Don't remind me, I'm headed there after the mission in fact."
"Well, I'll not keep you then Jaune. Plus, I think Pyrrha is starting to give me strange look" Said huntress was smiling at Ruby and waving. Well, at least that's how Jaune saw it, Ruby noted Pyrrha's eyes were a bit too sharp, and her smile a bit too wide. 'Maybe it's just the lighting'? Ruby thought.
Jaune waved back to his partner, "She looks normal to me. Reminds me though, you can probably expect a sparring request today. Pyrrha's keen to see how her new skills work in a spar, and well, you are the strongest of us in terms of profession.."
A bit of color drained from Ruby's face at the thought. 'This is going to hurt'.
Ozpin's personal study was a mixture of library, office, workshop and everything in between. Few students ever visited the place, and fewer still would recognize the wealth of artifacts, knowledge, and relics it contained. Shelves of books sat next to modern computers and displays. Machinery and devices both ancient and state of the art sat on workbenches and tables, while several works of art hung on the walls, many by revered masters.
There was also a multitude of storage drawers, filled with specimens, ingredients, and all manner of other items, ripe for study or stored for later use. Many were locked to prevent access to anyone who happened to steal into Ozpin's sanctum with nefarious intent.
Currently the headmaster was hard at work with what appeared to be an elaborate chemistry set, several samples of grimm material before him and a copy of Ruby's note on potion formulation. He was trying to create the same alchemical results that the guild was producing, with various degrees of success. He had turned to the pursuit to take his mind off his search for the huntress Ruby had spoken of, the one who had unlocked her new powers. Said search was not going as well as he had hopped.
Jaune was on a ladder, searching for a particular book ozpin thought would help Ozpin with his latest experiment. "Lets see, Grayson...Grayson..Ah, here it is, Grayson's Alchemy, 6th edition." Jaune retrieved the tome and quickly descended, placing the requested book on Ozpin's workstation.
"Here you go sir, need anything else?"
"Not at the moment, go ahead and take a break. I may need another soon though, depending on the outcome of this formulation."
"Alright, I'll be right over here when you need me."
With a nod from Ozpin Jaune retired to a nearby desk, and resumed his own reading. Ozpin noted the content with a glance.
"Interesting choice of reading materials Mr Arc, I wouldn't have figured you for a art history fan.
Jaune looked at the cover, "It that what this is? I chose it because the cover art looked interesting, and the illustrations inside were pretty cool. It's all in old script though, I can't actually read it."
Ozpin laughed while cross referencing something in the new tome. "There are few who can these days, as Dr. Oobleck would decry. He's pushed to add it to the curriculum, but I doubt the students would have the time to spend a few hundred hours on the pursuit." Ozpin, mixed a vial into another, taking a second to waft the scent. The smell of fresh cinnamon filled his nostrils, and he nodded with satisfaction.
"I dunno, i'm on a bit of a history kick as of late, might be worth looking up the basics. There is a lot of interesting stuff in those old history books." Jaune was thankful however his own summoned tomes were in modern script.
"Beacon's library collection has a few texts that may help you along that route if interested. I'm sure the good doctor would refer you to more still."
"I'll see if I can pencil in the time. Though no promises, it's tight as is." Between schoolwork, practice, and missions, Jaune was rather swamped.
The two entered a comfortable silence as Ozpin worked and Jaune read. This was broken a few minutes later as Jaune shot to his feet in surprise.
"Hey headmaster, you should take a look at this."
"Something catch your eye Mr. Arc?"
"That and more sir, take a look."
Jaune walked over to the headmaster, the art book opened to a particular illustration."
Ozpin spared the page a glance, "Ah yes, I know this story. It tells of a man who was charged with creating votive statues for his faith. You would know his works by sight, they are the winged statues of a woman you see in many temples. Very few are original, most are reproductions or inspired by his original work."
Ozpin resumed his work "If you are interested in learning more, I can loan you a few books written in the modern vernacular on the subject."
"Cool, though that's not what caught interests me so much." Jaune pointed to the next to the sculptor. "Take a close look at her."
Ozpin sighed and took another look. The woman appeared to be a huntress, or was otherwise armed and armored. Tall and slender yet radiating strength, much like many huntresses of the current age. She was exquisitely beautiful as well. "It's not uncommon for an artist to use a physical model as a basis, what of her?"
"She's got the same staff as the woman in Ruby's slides."
Ozpin's heart skipped a beat, and he quickly and carefully set down his work and picked up a magnifying glass, examining the picture closer. "You are absolutely correct, Mr Arc, the staff is identical, it appears Ms Rose's drawing was worth far more than originally thought."
"So who is the woman then? Anyone important?"
Ozpin read the text below. "According to this, she was a huntress who so captivated him with her beauty and sense of purpose that he declared her the very visage of divinity itself, and used her as a model for his famous votive works."
Jaune nodded along, mentally filing away the information. "Does the book record her name?"
Ozpin quickly scanned the next few pages, at last located a reproduction of a charcoal drawing of the model's face in greater detail. To their luck, it was displayed next to a snippet of the artist's personal journal. "Yes, it does. According to his journal entry about his meeting with her, her name was…." Ozpin trailed off in shock.
"Was what, headmaster?" Jaune was on the edge of his seat in anticipation.
Ozpin looked up from the book, locking eyes with Jaune as he spoke. 'At last, a potential lead.' he thought, hiding his elation with trained ease.
"Her name was Dwayna."