For the briefest of moments, the lecture space fell silent, many shifting their gazes from Ozpin's eyes, then to Blake's, but the action turned moot when Blake buried her face in her books. Then only Ozpin's indignant expression was all that was left to look at, causing many with more tact to stop staring, but Yang wasn't one of those. She continued standing, her arms crossed, using Ozpin's stiff expression and Blake tapping out to really prove her point.
"Xiaolong. Detention after class."
Glynda tired sighed, shaking her head while using a hand to rub at her temples. She was busy enough keeping Jaune suspended in the air away from those who'd use relations with him for their benefit, that she really didn't want to add onto her plate.
"On what grounds?!" Yang hollered, petulance lacing her features. Confidence always swelled when one convinced themselves they stood on the correct side.
"Defamation of character and harassment."
"But it's the truth!"
Blake finally had enough and glanced up at Yang, her features practically screaming vengeance. And this was more so, since Blake's grand plan was to announce her affiliation to Vermillion in the Vytal festival to elevate its standing. Therefore, a clean reputation and record of achievements was a must. Being slandered as a thief now before she'd even stolen anything was practically a stain on a white shirt. The stink eye Blake was giving Yang might as well have been the equivalent of a hissing cat.
"Sit down, or risk eviction of this lecture hall," Glynda was having none of it. This wasn't her first time dealing with rowdy students. Though, it was the first time she'd found herself partially inclined to agree with what was said. Ozpin's silence on his own defence was somewhat concerning. Did he actually plan to steal?
Ozpin's features flickered to Yang in genuine annoyance when Archer ultimately kept the sword and laid it down over the lecturer's podium.
No way, right? Glynda frowned, but she certainly wouldn't allow Ozpin to air dirty laundry out in public.
Yang wasn't so quick to appease.
Yang's mouth locked shut, finally persuaded when Ruby began tugging harder and harder on the skirt of her uniform. The strength was pitiful, far from enough to budge Yang into compliance, however, the same couldn't be said for her skirt. Ruby was directly putting it at risk of being tugged off by grabbing at the hem from beneath the desk. Talk about choosing the wrong side and playing innocent! Yang gave Ruby a betrayed scoff, but Ruby was just relieved that the matter could be tided over. She was utterly embarrassed.
"Moving on," Archer blinked and pretended the entire exchange didn't happen, much to Blake's relief and Ozpin's disquiet.
Archer was intent to just carry on with the lecture. This was important as it would set the stage for every future event that could make a connection with this first lecture's revelations.
The strength of Noble Phantasms, and even Heroic Spirits was directly tied to their legends. Each Noble Phantasm and Heroic Spirit possessed their own base parameters, but just as Heroic Spirits gain strength for fighting in their home countries, knowledge and belief of the legends augment those parameters.
Considering that Archer and Shirou were practically the only Heroic Spirits in Remnant, their parameters were set when first summoned. It was only through garnering renown as the Huntsman of Red and the Mercenary 'Archer,' that their parameters could see a noticeable increase.
What he was trying to convey here, was the need to propagate the legends of bygone heroes, and the 'magic artifacts' they left behind. The more people he convinced; the stronger an introduced Noble Phantasm's parameters could be. This was the primary reason why Noble Phantasms grow stronger with time, and not less.
More importantly, was the concept of True Names. Only by invoking a Noble Phantasm's True Name could its full capabilities be unleashed.
Here, Archer's stare practically leveled itself on an oblivious Jaune.
He needed to hammer in this concept lest people like Jaune get it into their heads to favour a watered-down version of a Noble Phantasm than the real thing. There would be no Arc Field, no Arc Lights, and certainly no more Jaune Zones.
"I'm sure that many of you have questions in regards to magic artifacts, but for this first introductory lecture, we will delve into their mechanics, as well the background of their owners that made these artifacts what they are. All magic artifacts, including the ones I've shown you, and the one in Mr. Arc's possession, have unique abilities imbued within them. You've all seen first hand through the news, or by example in Beacon's initiation when Mr. Arc acted as a field medic to treat any injured. The banner in his hands is rather famous now, but what if I said that it wasn't even half of its real capabilities?"
Jaune perked up the most.
At Archer's questioning, murmurs began to rise in the lecture hall, but no one raised a hand to interrupt or ask a question. They knew that Archer had asked an open-ended question, and that he'd probably extrapolate further on the topic.
They would be right.
"In the ruins I've stumbled into, I've found various magic artifacts. Something I learned in the hieroglyphs and ancient Remnant text left behind, is that to truly activate their unique abilities, one must call their true name. Names play a key role in the activation of a magic artifact," Archer solemnly stated.
Ozpin himself nodded in agreement. Just as complex magics had spell words to invoke their use, most magic users in his era had signature names for their weapon arts and spells. Even he was no differ- oh dear.
"Even the sword of the hero Ozma has a signature name for its skills, one of which may come in handy for certain situat-"
"A-Ahem." Ozpin refused outright, beads of sweat forming over his brow. "We get it. Move. On."
Archer raised a brow, and shrugged. Oh, he knew why Ozpin was sweating, and he specifically mentioned this to add further credibility to his words. Salem, bless her, had provided a fragment of Ozpin's original sword which allowed Archer to delve into its history. Archer knew a lot about Ozpin…far more than he probably should, but since it could be used, he'd use it. Archer had certainly inherited Kiritsugu's pragmatism.
"Uhm, then what's this banner's true name?" Jaune couldn't help himself and spoke up in the awkwardness Ozpin had caused.
Jaune offered the saint's banner forward for Archer to inspect, but Archer had no need to inspect something he already knew.
Instead, Jaune's actions only furthered Archer's plans to instill a 'forgotten' history of Remnant to those currently in attendance. Ruby should know of the stories Archer was going to share about various heroes as she grew up listening to them, but the plan was to build on and propagate it to everyone else as well. He'd need it as a future cover both for what he was, and what he intended to do.
Setting up the groundwork was already half the execution, explaining the nature of a 'magic artifact's' wielder, was the next.
"Rather than tell you, it's probably better to show you. Furthermore, what you should all understand is that it's not the magic artifact that makes the wielder, but the wielder which makes the magic artifact. Ancient text in ruins state that these heroes who wield magic weapons or artifacts correlate to existences known as 'Champions,' aligned either to light or dark."
Saying this, Archer glanced in Ozpin's direction and noticed the man absently humming in thought. Ozpin himself must be considering if he fit into this terminology. He should have been able to make the connection since this was the desired outcome. In Salem's own words, Ozpin himself was a 'Champion' of Remnant's God of Light. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine that he wasn't the first of his kind.
"What do you mean by show?" Pyrrha asked, unsure of how the lecture was to proceed.
In front of Pyrrha was her notebook, revealing that she was being just as studious as Blake. On her notes, she'd written the word 'Champion' and circled it for later reference.
From what could be inferred, perhaps the Champion imbued their magic into the magic artifact?
"I mean exactly what I said," Archer answered, moving back to his packed bags, rummaging through them, and producing a spherical item which he placed at the center of the lecture hall.
Ozpin's expression widened in recognition. Of course, he'd recognize it. It was a device made in Ozpin's era that Salem had provided to Archer. It was primarily used as evidence in trial cases with a jury to test the authenticity of a witness.
By relying on the memory of the witness, projected images can be formed with magic. The degree of clarity would reveal truth from lies, since if one was making something up or had trouble recollecting something, it meant that the witness's credibility could be questioned.
In Archer's case, this point was moot due to his Tracing craft.
"This is an artifact that can provide a visual of the life of a weapon's owner," Archer said, gesturing for Jaune to place the Saint's banner near it.
Only Ozpin knew that Archer was lying, but he said nothing and decided to continue observing.
Glynda gently lowered Jaune to the ground, where Jaune tentatively did as instructed and placed the Saint's banner near the magic device.
As Ozpin had expected, nothing happened. Instead, what he felt was that Archer released a thread of magic energy, revealing two things to Ozpin. One, Archer was a magic user like himself, and two, the depicted image would be in Archer's recollection and not the banner's.
In a deluge of golden light, the figure of a humble armoured woman appeared with pure amethyst eyes and brilliant blond hair.
"I don't know how to be a knight, but I do know how to be a flag bearer. So, follow my lead."
A gentle voice spoke softly, inspiring faith and reassurance to all those who heard it. A metal forehead protector was worn over her face, a battle dress worn over her entire figure woven from magic threads over a full-body steel plate. She possessed a wondrous beauty that scarcely felt real if at all. Light itself seemed to bend and shroud her in its warm glow, her features stalwart and resolute.
It was breathtaking. And then there was the scene of the background behind her. Rows and rows of knights wearing billowing mantles stood at the ready, blowing on horns and thumping on shields as if signaling the arrival of a great enemy they would face with unwavering devotion.
She looked like a female version of Jaune, but Jaune hardly even reacted. Instead, his eyes were glued to the sword and sheath strapped around Jeanne's waist, the very same pair in Jaune's possession that Archer purposely projected there.
The Arc family sword and sheath. Jaune had never imagined it was so ancient.
Beyond the awe and wonderment of the artifact's use, the mystery Ozpin immediately focused on was how the presenter himself could so vividly project the image? Ozpin was no stranger to the artifact being used, but the projected scenes were a different story. It was on the level of personally knowing the memory, or being the host of the memory itself.
The questions and intrigue surrounding Archer only continued to grow.
"Jeanne d'Arc, the original owner of the banner in Mr. Arc's hands, and a staunch Champion of Light. Her calling came when her country was on the brink of being overrun, and all that was left was despair. However, it's said that the voice of God beckoned her, an ordinary farmer's girl, to take action."
Ozpin digested the info.
A descendant of the Arc family was a former champion of the God of Light? Her demeanor and compassionate gaze did not detract from the statement at all. If ever Ozpin would question a fellow Champion of Light, he'd never question this one. Her entire disposition exuded a holy aura.
"If we cannot move forward without a fight, so be it!"
The image of Jeanne stepped forward into battle, the roars of the knights behind her uplifting her spirit.
Different from Jaune, Jeanne was steadfast in her actions and words. She knew what needed to be done, and what was expected of her, and she followed through for the people who believed in her.
"Here I come. May the blessing of our Lord's light be upon us!"
Jeanne raised the Saint's banner high, its light shining with a radiance far beyond the degree of Jaune's incantation.
"Oh, flag of mine, protect our comrades!"
It was almost like she was praying to ward off harm.
"Defend my brethren, my banner!"
The flag upon the banner billowed and flapped, the clouds up high parting to shine down with the resplendence of dawn.
"God is here with me...Luminosité Eternelle!"
Ozpin had no words. This light, this purity, it was undoubtedly the work of the God of Light's domain.
"Luminosité Eternelle." Archer intoned solemnly, watching as everyone paid rapt attention to the protective light shining down upon Jeanne and her allies. "That is the true name that invokes the banner's full capabilities."
Jaune couldn't take his eyes off of it, and neither could anyone else. The woman before him was likely his great great great or more, ancestor, a model to strive after. He balled his hands into fists, and barely contained his excitement. In contrast, what everyone else was seeing was a depiction of what 'Jaune' could be in the coming years. His worth in Remnant would be indispensable.
Many had already taken out their scrolls to record the scene to share.
Archer noticed, but didn't mind in the least. It wasn't as if he was done.
Sifting through his belongings, he pulled out another Noble Phantasm that could relegate the attention of Remnant's Faunus onto it, and placed it next to Jeanne's banner.
Blake and Yang were the first to take notice of Archer's actions, and then came the rest when Archer spoke.
"This bow belongs to a hero of the Faunus, the Huntress Atalanta."
"Atalanta?" Blake murmured, an unseen glint of anticipation welling within her.
She wasn't the only one. Other Faunus in attendance perked up with interest. It was one thing to see a human hero, but it was another to know that Faunus heroes or Champions also existed.
"There is nothing my arrows can't take down."
This time, a cool and aloof voice echoed as Jeanne's image faded into the background. In its place came a dense forest where a pair of cat ears perked up in the direction of a sound; an arrow notched and shot in the same instance, piercing into the hide of a boar.
A woman stepped out of the foliage and came within view, her distinctly feline features unmistakable as she sized up her hunt. Blake preened, wondering if Atalanta enjoyed tuna as much as she did.
"Atalanta was a famed Huntress and Champion that slew many beasts, and cared greatly for only a single earnest desire." Archer narrated, despite knowing that Blake and other Faunus were too preoccupied with Atalanta's image to really listen.
"I am fond of children. Their smiles bring joy."
Atalanta could be seen giving her hunts to impoverished youth, not asking for anything in return. It really showed the type of personality she possessed. Dressed in green, and blending into nature itself, her swaying tails when in a happy mood was her fondest trait.
"Unlike Jeanne, Atalanta's magic artifact isn't focused on support." Archer forwarded the scenes to that of a battlefield.
"This is an offering to the two Gods."
Atalanta could be seen notching two arrows upon her bow, aiming it towards the distant sky before firing and revealing the horde before her.
The twin arrows sailed high, piercing through the clouds and revealing the shimmering of numerous stars. Then came chaos.
Bolts of magic energy in the form of green arrows pelted down unceasingly until everything was decimated. The ground was mottled with holes, low ground and yelps echoing through ash and dust wafting into the air.
"As you can see, by calling out the True Name of the magic artifacts, their real worth can be actualized through the actions of their wielders."
One use of her bow's true name, and Atalanta had crushed an entire tide of demonic beasts Shirou had no trouble altering into Grimm. It heavily reminded all of the feats they'd seen in Vermillion and even Mt. Glenn. Still, it didn't mean the more logical students didn't notice a key point.
"It doesn't make sense. Beyond the means of magic artifacts, if Remnant had Champions so strong in the past, why were we pushed away by the Grimm?" Weiss pointed out, her tone snide, but her question was asked in earnest. She leaned forward, evidently drawn in by growing interest.
In contrast, Ozpin grew grim, feeling as if he already knew the answer and dreaded it while Archer let the students discuss among themselves. In the end, the answer was almost exactly what Ozpin had thought.
"It was unfortunate, but they were not united," Archer sighed. "Sometimes the greatest enemy isn't the one you know, but the ones you can't read."
Saying this, the projected images abruptly changed to a different memory.
Jaune was the first to react as the scene came within full view.
"N-No, it can't be!? Why?!"
There before everyone's eyes was Jeanne Arc wearing a dirty white gown, her figure tied to a pyre. Her wrists were restrained with thread, and her limbs bound as she was heckled by a spectating crowd.
"Why?" Jaune stressed, directing the question towards Archer who sighed much like Ozpin.
"She was a Champion of light, a Saint in the eyes of the public, but a thorn in the eyes of the clergy devoted to the same God."
Ozpin gnashed his teeth, knowing this was all too common. Jealousy and greed, what had he not seen in his era and throughout his life?
"Burn the witch Sir Winchester!"
Suddenly, a name was called out towards the man holding the torch that would be thrown to light the pyre. In the image, a familiar looking man could be seen, aged, but wholly recognizable.
Many eyes turned to a suddenly fearful Cardin Winchester. If it could be inferred that Jeanne was Jaune's ancestor, then the same could be said for the Winchester on display.
"Hey, hey that's not me!" Cardin protested the dirty looks directed towards him.
It was apparent that Cardin's ancestor may have really killed Jaune's. It wasn't Cardin's fault, but everyone was looking at him as if he was scum.
Meanwhile, Ozpin's features grew grim, realizing that he was learning things that even he had no knowledge of in an era before he'd even been born.
No one spoke the moment the pyre was lit, and Jeanne quietly shut her eyes as the flames consumed her. Archer tacitly refused to show the full burning. Anymore, and there was a real danger of Cardin getting lynched by an incensed crowd. As for Jaune, he looked horrified.
"I assume that this isn't the end? One Champion's death wouldn't lead to all of their deaths," Ozpin said, knowing that death wasn't always the end considering his own circumstances.
Archer could only nod, causing Ozpin to curse under his breath.
"Remember, there are Champions affiliated to light, and Champions affiliated to dark. In the end, under the influence of the God of Darkness, Champions of Light can be corrupted into Altered forms."
Archer had reached the most crucial moment.
"C-Corrupted?" The one who asked was Ruby who'd never failed to notice the black that always crept up Shirou's body whenever he killed Grimm.
The question was voiced in the silence, and Archer didn't waste the opportunity to direct the scene, inadvertently putting Ruby on edge.
"It's not a mistake... It can't be a mistake! Aaaaaahhh...AAAAAAHHH!"
A shudder traveled down Blake's back, the other Faunus in attendance no different as they recognized the voice hoarse from the strain of screaming.
Atalanta lay writhing in a storm of purple haze, her figure contorting as she shifted from bipedal movement to quadrupedal, her features growing more and more animalistic. Claws sprouted from her nails, blackened fur elongating off of the hide she wore around her shoulders. It almost seemed like she was transforming in a boarbatusk.
Everyone stilled, only the sound of Archer's narrations sounding in the quiet.
"Hatred has consumed her, further drawn out by the inherent madness of her transformation."
She was smothered in malefic dark energy. Everything it touched, eroding away into a fine ash. Under its flickering aura, the paller of her skin rapidly paled, and even the vibrant glow of her eyes faded into a sickly yellow.
"Rip them to pieces! Tear them apart!"
Her canines extended, the bow in her hand flickering with shadows, the green of her arrows tainted in a purple haze. And even that was discarded as she pounced on all fours and leapt through the air.
"The burning shadow, the bow of the far side of the moon...take all of my hatred!"
She charged, the silhouette of a Demonic Boar converging around her in a stifling black aura. It was only then as the scene expanded out that the target of her attack became apparent.
"Tauropolos Skia Thermokrasia!"
A violent impact echoed through the lecture hall, followed only by the scene of a roaring beast with two swaying tails, a pile of torn bodies beneath her feet. All else was submerged in a suffocating dark magic energy.
Archer cut it off at that, noting the expressions flickering across his audience. Atalanta was one thing, but he needed to show that even the purest of 'Champions' can fall to ruin.
The next scene shifted without pause.
"If there is a God, surely I will be punished."
Jaune flinched, looking at the lifeless eyes of his supposed ancestor that reappeared before everyone. Then there was the pallid skin, the resentful black aura, and even the grief and hate clinging to her very form.
"Jeanne d'Arc, the Witch who raised everything to the ground through the very fires that burned her alive. Her banner and everything she once stood for tossed to the wayside."
"Applause! An applause for the damned! Ahahaha!"
Fires burned throughout, blackened buildings crumbling into pieces of charred wood, fragmented glass, and bent nails that weren't actually nails, but burned bones. In the midst of it all, Jeanne Alter stood cackling.
The sheer difference in personality was readily apparent.
"This is the howl of a soul filled with hatred!"
Glowering eyes leveled on the very knights that had once stood at her side. Black stakes emerged within the fire before impaling them all up from the ground and creating a twisted aesthetic of death.
"La Grondement Du Haine!"
Archer let the scenes play out one by one; the atrocities caused by Jeanne Alter, then the savageness that had become of Atalanta's former grace and temperament. Throughout the entire time, the mood in the room continued to grow heavier and heavier as the implications set in.
"In the end, it was through the efforts and sacrifices of other heroes that the Alters were defeated." Archer narrated, changing the scenes once more.
An impossible blur of speed zipped through the projected image before zooming in on Atalanta Alter being pierced through the chest by a lance. Her opponent fared no better as several black arrows then stabbed into his back.
Mutual death. Everyone could see the outcome.
The scene then shifted again to the picture of Jeanne Alter stumbling back from extensive injuries.
Jeanne Alter lamented until the end, an utter shadow of what she once was before the projections ceased there and then.
"T-That's just too sad," Ruby muttered morosely.
Tentatively, Archer cut off the connection to the artifact Salem had provided. He took back Atalanta's bow and stored it in a duffle bag, before picking up the Saint's banner and placing it in a despondent Jaune's grip.
No one spoke in the heavy silence as Archer fully answered Weiss's prior question.
"The battle between Champions of Light and Dark left many of their weapons scattered throughout Remnant, and directly crippled the strength of both the Faunus and Humans in the era before Dust. Then came the age of the hero Ozma and an apparent decline in magic as written in old text. Magic Artifacts are all that remain of the Champions of the past, and this is what I'll be teaching you all."
"Are there still any such Champions left in Remnant after all these years?" Emerald was as straight to the point as usual.
Ozpin unconsciously straightened his back at the question, his chest puffing up. He was a Champion of the God of Light. Upon realizing what he was doing however, he deflated and continued to remain low key.
"Perhaps. Perhaps not," Archer remained ambiguous.
"Then is the Huntsman of Red one such Champion?" Glynda hazarded a bold guess. Then there was Archer, someone who could use magic artifacts. This, she kept to herself.
That's the question Archer was waiting for. Once spoken, there was no way others wouldn't begin to think.
The lecture bell rang.
"That's a question for another time. In the coming lectures, we will be going over the history of other Champions and the effects of the items they left behind. We will build on what we've just learned, and perhaps these magic artifacts may even choose a new owner? See you all for the next lecture."
When the first lecture ended and the lecture room emptied, Ozpin didn't immediately seek Archer out like he'd originally intended, but stood quietly, making sure that what he was seeing was real. Archer had left a 'gift' behind while the students left with much on their minds. Making sure he was really alone with the forgotten sword; Ozpin strode forward and swiped it into his grasp.
The Sword of Ozma, it was the same down to the finest detail and feel. His sword, thought long since destroyed, but was instead, lost in some ancient ruin.
"-The eyes of a thief!"
Ozpin's brow twitched at the recollection. Archer just forgot it, okay? Ozpin would give it back, like, eventually. Besides, how can you steal what was yours to begin with? If anything, Archer was the thief! Grave robber! Not him!
Making sure that he was truly alone once more, Ozpin could no longer help himself. Besides, he needed something to lift his heavy mood over the revelations he'd just witnessed and heard.
"We meet again, old friend." Ozpin brandished the sword in his grip, a finger running up the fuller as he injected his magic energy into it.
Shining a dull green, the blade of Ozma hummed in waiting.
"Hidden magic," Ozpin intoned after so many years.
The secret technique he'd created to ward away his wife's nagging and the worst of women. Even Glynda would shudder under its name and might.
"Awaken once more…Thoooot Slayeeeer!"
Half the world would shudder in its wake.
Salem paused far into the Grimmlands, feeling a familiar disturbance for the first time in millennia.
She missed her bonk stick.
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