After the events of Mt. Glenn, almost three years had passed with little to no activity from the Grimm, leaving Remnant's Kingdoms to flourish in the meantime.

Mt. Glenn, as the first successful attempt at recolonizing land outside the known Kingdoms became a catalyst for further expansionary projects. After the Grimm had been driven out in the siege of Mt. Glenn, the walls were refortified and new measures were undertaken to fortify the area. No Grimm attacks proved successful thereafter, and this was more so due to the fact that almost the entirely of Mt. Glenn's remaining population had their Aura's unlocked in the siege.

Many capable fighters were born from there, and those that came from Mt. Glenn ended up making names for themselves.

For example, Ectoras Verdant, one of only two remaining members, had survived Mt. Glenn's siege and moved to Mistral with his accomplished grandmother. There, he participated in Mistralean tournaments where he gained recognition for his prowess in fighting the Invincible Girl, Pyrrha Nikos to a stand still. They were rivals in the ring; however, they apparently weren't on the best of terms due to family issues that the public wasn't made privy to.

Another example is one of the Prides of Vale, Jaune Arc. However, his situation was self explanatory, and to protect him from the vested interests of all Kingdoms and affluent business and political figures, his family shielded him away from the public eye. Of course, this didn't stop representatives from trying to make visits to the Arc Family home, and there was even news that the councils of the Kingdoms were getting on board, arguing from the standpoint that Jaune Arc should be treated as a rare commodity of humankind.

Jaune Arc's mother only had a single response, and that was to shut her door and threaten her husband to kick every representative out of their family's house and property.

Meanwhile, the Rose Mercenaries became a household name throughout Remnant over the years, completing miscellaneous tasks and dangerous missions left and right no matter the difficulty.

Shirou didn't envy Archer's situation.

The fame of the Rose Mercenaries was resounding, and this was primarily due to Archer himself and the events at Mt. Glenn. Archer was getting offers from everywhere even outside of Vale, but it didn't help that the headquarters of the Rose Mercenaries was so elusive that no one knew where it was due to a certain savvy member with shady connections.

Speaking of which, there was also Vermillion.

As an official settlement founded by Faunus, and protected by the Sword of the Sun, Vermillion had seen further development to rival the weight of a Kingdom. It was Remnant's unofficial Fifth Kingdom by this point. Members of the Faunus movement had flocked to Vermillion and become its citizens, making the ratio of Faunus to humans skewed in the Faunus's favour. This made Vermillion a prime example of the White Fang's ideals of peaceful cohabitation.

Ghira Belladonna, former leader of the White Fang, and now new Mayor of Vermillion as a whole was deeply moved at this development, and practically felt as if he were on clouds. The Schnee companies relying on cheap labour were the opposite, but that was none of Ghira's concern. All of this was thanks to Vermillion's national hero in which its flag derived its symbols: the Huntsman of Red…a Faunus. All Faunus in Remnant were convinced of this.

Well, actually, there was much arguing on this point which gave Shirou a headache in every occasion, but there was nothing he could do about it.

Some Faunus supporters believing that the Huntsman of Red was a Faunus were so ardent on the issue that they nearly came to blows with other humans who insisted that the Huntsman of Red was human. Needless to say, but this involved people from Mt. Glenn who had personal accounts of seeing the Huntsman of Red. Unfortunately, due to the faith energy Shirou had assimilated, he appeared to others as they preferred him to appear. Therefore, both perspectives could be considered true.

'What a headache.'

Shirou nursed his temples while at his Master's side in her quaint home in Patch. The recap of the past three years largely had nothing to do with him, as he hadn't gotten involved in anything during this timeframe. Instead, he'd been watching out for Ruby and Yang while Archer did his thing with whatever he and Summer were up to.

Now, with the new year and Beacon's enrolment ceremony just around the corner a week from now, things were somewhat hectic in the Xiaolong house.

Shirou looked at Ruby and Yang squabbling, the very image of bickering sisters.

"I thought you wanted to be a badass Huntress?" Ruby grumbled while Yang tried to leave the house now that Tai had left for a teacher's meeting in Signal Academy.

Yang had no real reply to Ruby's statement, as it was true. She still did want to be a Huntress. This hadn't changed, but she also wanted to join the Rose Mercenaries ever since she realized that Archer was a part of it. Yet her attempts to enlist had been foiled each and every time she tried to sneak out of the house to join, and at this point she suspected it was because of Ruby.

Yang narrowed her eyes on Ruby's innocent act. How else did she get caught each and every time?

"Being a Huntress is cool and all, but I-I, I ugh, well a mercenary doesn't sound bad either, right?" Yang explained before her features darkened into something almost jealous. "…And Ms. Blondkickass has been under the scene for too long that some green-haired skank is trying to replace her."

Strands of Yang's blond hair shifted into locks of crimson as she pursed her lips.

"Ms. Blondkickass is a wanted criminal!" Ruby reasoned, much to Yang's chagrin.

"Tch. It's a misunderstanding!" Yang didn't beat around the bush. "Now, let go, Ruby. Today's the day I find the Rose Mercenary Headquarters."

Ruby's eyes dilated as her mouth made an 'o' or uhoh shape. She was currently hanging off Yang's waist as Yang dragged her step by step towards the house's front door, Ruby's weight accomplishing nothing to slow Yang.

In truth, Yang was right to assume that it had been Ruby who had been tattling her out to her dad each and every time Yang tried to leave.

Ruby furrowed her brows. W-Was it bad of her that she felt weird or unwilling when she knew that Yang had a crush on Archer? Well, it wasn't Archer per say that Ruby was concerned about, but Archer was practically Shirou…and that meant Yang was crushing on her crush, and she couldn't have that. That's a taboo. Yang was breaking the sister code.

"Dad'll take your hair again!" Ruby protested vehemently.

It had taken years for Yang to grow her hair back to a long and full mane.

"Over my dead body!" Yang was ready to throw up hands to even her father if he tried to take her hair again. "Now let go Ruby!"

"Nooooo, you can't!" Ruby wailed.

"Look, Zwei's eating your cookies!"

"H-He wouldn't. He's a good boy!" Ruby gasped and turned to the kitchen, her focus breaking only for a moment before Yang used the opportunity to break Ruby's grip and slip out of the house.

"See ya, little sis!" Yang waved as her figure disappeared from the house's window, a raven following her almost dutifully to make up for a past mistake that would never be easily fixed.

"Shirou, stop her! She's getting away!" Ruby called, glancing at thin air.

"No," was the curt response, cutting Ruby's sails before SHirou shrugged in spirt form. "Is Yang really your greatest concern? Didn't you have that limited edition Valve comic coming out tod-"

"OH MY GODS!" Ruby shot up into a sprint out the door, barely remembering to grab her wallet in the meantime while Crescent Rose was strapped on her back.

With Ruby's Semblance, she was practically a blur of roses heading to Patch's nearest transport service to hitch the quickest ride to Vale's comic book store.

While on a civilian bullhead, Ruby glanced at her scroll, eagerly waiting for her mother's daily text. It was one of the smaller things that gave her happiness during the days since it made her feel closer with her mom. She wanted to tell her dad or Yang, but feared that she may lose contact with Summer if she did.

Humming to herself, she beamed when she read the text addressed to 'little Rose,' and eagerly replied back.

It was only when the bullhead landed in Vale that Ruby became a blur again, rushing towards the comic book store. The thing about limited editions was that they were always sold out almost instantly. She had to hurry and the first there before any prospective buyers.

With her current speed, Ruby had no trouble reaching the shop and directly entering through the door.

"Limited edition, I Ruby, want!" She muttered between pants of breath, not caring if her sentence sounded right or not. The important point was to get the message across, and knowing the clerk since she always shops for comics here, the clerk should understand her.

The moment said limited edition was placed in front of her, she beamed before grabbing it and shoving her money on the counter in exchange. However, the clerk who wrang up her order seemed to be different from usual. At the very least, she knew enough to say that the clerk she normally had wasn't some old guy with a scruffily beard and swept back grey hair in a black tuxedo.

Recalling her earlier behaviour, she blushed as she realized how she had acted before a total stranger. "S-Sorry if I was a little excited," she apologized.

"Think nothing of it, child. That kind of energy is pleasing to the eyes," the old man had a grandfather's smile, but there was the blatant hint of playfulness in his tone. "Would you care to peruse a recommendation?" The old man suddenly offered.

Before Ruby could refuse or accept, the old man was already opening the lapel of his formal wear to produce an old and faded looking book. On the side of the book was a symbol of a hovering butterfly, and on the left of the book were oddly familiar rose petal drawings.

The old man presented the book and deposited it into Ruby's hands.

"The Sword of Remnant?" Ruby skimmed over the title, before seeing a twinkle in the old man's eyes.

"It's a gift," the old man explained.

"From a stranger?" Ruby grew somewhat guarded, recalling all the things her dad told her to be wary of.

"No," the old man shook his head ruefully, gaining a more mature air. "It's more of a request of me to deliver this from a person who likely knows you better than you know yourself, but ended up with an ending she couldn't accept. This is a very important book, something filled with regrets, mistakes, and a history that you'll surely be able to relate with. My, you might even consider it magic." The old man didn't elaborate any further.

"Uhm, okaaay?" Ruby just felt as if she was in one of those swindler scenarios and shifted her gaze away in order to think on how to politely decline. "You might mean well, but I can't just accept it, I still have to finish my limited Valve com-"

Ruby blinked and rubbed her eyes in confusion. She'd only shifted her gaze away for a moment and the old man was gone as if he were never there. Was it a Semblance, or was someone playing a trick on her?

Frowning, she walked out of the store with the 'Sword of Remnant' still in hand and curiously took a peek of its contents. A hum quickly escaped her lips.

Strange, the way this book was formatted was like one of her diaries at home. It had dates and everything- wait.

Ruby quickly flipped to the first entry, her eyes widening in alarm.

[Remnant Calendar, Year XXXX, Patch 1st of May: Yang's a big meanie. She keeps telling me that mom's gone and won't come back]

Wasn't this exactly what she wrote in her own diary years ago? What was going on?

Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, thinking that someone had nerve and the time to enter her home and pilfer one of her diaries just to copy it into some random book.

"Are you alright, Master? You've been staring at nothing for a good minute now," Shirou's voice echoed in Ruby's mind.

"You can't see this?" Ruby gestured to the book in her hand exaggeratedly. "I'm reading, and it's not just a comic anymore. I'm growing up," she puffed up her flat chest which admittedly wasn't the best choice to emphasize her 'maturity.'

Shirou's answer confounded her regardless.

"There's nothing in your hands," he said flatly, obviously not taking things very seriously. Then again, Ruby knew she had a penchant to act silly. Shirou had likely habituated to her behaviours long ago.

"You don't see this?" Ruby tried again.

"No. I don't see anything."

The response was the same.

"T-Then it's probably nothing," Ruby shrugged while secretly glancing at the book.

No way was she going to make herself out to be crazy, but the book still remained in her hands. Just what was it?

The next time she felt as if Shirou wasn't watching her through their connection as Master and Servant, Ruby looked at the 'Sword of Remnant' again. She skimmed through the known dates and chapters and practically verified that this was in fact identical to her diary at home. This also caused a growing sense of befuddlement when she came to a startling discovery.

There were future entries.

[Remnant Calendar, Year XXXX…]

The tone and feel of the entries felt as if they had changed entirely in these sections. They were practically warning filled with bitter lamentation starting with the first.

[Archer should have never gone to the Grimmlands. I should have stopped him]

Ruby slammed the book shut, taking in a deep breath and trying to process everything. I-If this was really real then- slowly Ruby turned the book to its back side and noticed the almost blurred entry of a name marking the author of this book.

[-Ruby Rose]

The name was in bold italics, and beneath it, a note hastily scribbled on that Ruby understood clearly wasn't there before.

[Save him. You have to save him. Please.]

Ripples would form from the machinations of a wizard set in motion from the very beginning.


{Secret location of Rose Mercenaries Headquarters}

Archer stood alone with Summer in a separate meeting room, patiently listening to whatever she had to say. Neither of the two had really aged over the years, aside from the 'official' Rose Mercenary Uniforms that they were wearing. It was the same black trench coats, masks, and buckled belts with the symbol of a blooming rose.

"Will you really not meet up with Ozpin? It's already been years," Summer tried to persuade Archer again. Unlike Shirou, Summer had no reservation divulging information about Remnant's Shadow War with Archer.

As far as Summer was concerned, she was content to just let Shirou ensure Ruby's safety while Archer dealt with external issues. In which case, wouldn't it be better if he had some ties with Ozpin so that they could coordinate their efforts?

"I don't really believe that there's much of a need to yet," Archer once again declined the invitation, but it wasn't as if he didn't have his reasons. "I already get the gist of things from your earlier explanation and feel that it's more productive to get a better understanding of the situation. I'll meet with Ozpin later. Besides, if your situation is anything to go by, then the only thing I'll get by having this meeting is either surveillance or limiting my movements."

"That's, uh," Summer deflated. She had no way to refute, as it was for everyone's safety that Qrow had been tasked to remain near her in case she ever lost control. Even now, he was probably somewhere nearby, but was just being mindful of Archer and was staying away for her sake.

Summer's eyes darted left and right, watching the way Archer was packing his things into a small bag hoisted over one shoulder.

"Are you going somewhere?" She changed the subject.

"Where else?" Archer gave her a look. "I plan to go scouting in the Grimmlands, and be back before the week's over and Beacon officially opens," Archer explained while continuing to pack some belongings. Unlike Shirou who could dematerialize, this wasn't quite the case for Archer, so he still had to pack a few things along. "I'll meet up with Ozpin when I get back, so there's no rush, right?"

Well, it wasn't a rush at all for her, Summer supposed. She was mainly asking again as Ozpin stressed that Archer may play a vital role in the development of Remnant's Shadow War. Still, she got her answer, and Ozpin obviously wouldn't mind waiting another week, and would just be elated that Archer had finally agreed.

She brushed back a lock of her hair and regarded Archer in all seriousness.

"Do you really think it's a good idea to go on your own?" She inquired.

"Do you really I'd be weak enough not to be able to escape if I wanted to?" Archer fired back with a tilt of his head.

Summer thought of what she'd seen in Vermillion and Mt. Glenn and was left speechless.

It was a fair point, and at that Summer conceded, dropping her pointed index finger already in lecturing pose.

"Take care of Emerald for me, and keep Roman out of trouble. The guy can be slippery, and Neo will be no help." Archer reminded as he gathered the last of his belongings that he'd take.

Summer nodded in response, and Archer left thereafter, not knowing the amount of stress he'd just decided to put Ruby under in the following days in his absence.

Thanks for reading!

Next update: Sword Order

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