"Please take a seat."

The words were spoken rather cordially, but Archer could notice the underlying anticipation in the tone that urged him to hurry.

Archer was currently in Ozpin's office, and across him was Ozpin seated on the headmaster's seat. Files and scroll data were spread out in front of him, but he'd made room to fit in a set of mugs and an activated heating platform for a kettle filled with water.

Across from Ozpin was the seat Archer was gestured into taking.

"Would you like any tea, coffee perhaps?" Ozpin asked after seeing Archer get settled.

By Archer's side was the duffle bag he'd been carrying and set down.

"Coffee," Archer answered.

Ozpin nodded, carefully pouring the coffee into a mug before raising his voice again.

"Milk, sugar, cream, or maybe black? Bart, another Beacon professor, always did like his coffee strong. I'm much the same."

"Black is fine," Archer answered, taking a small sip, and putting the drink back down.

He made better coffee, but that was irrelevant.

Watching the steam waft off from the offered drink, Archer collected his thoughts and considered how he'd go about this meeting. Ozpin was certain to have many questions, and possessed the wisdom to see through deceit from numerous years spent living from host to host.

Ozpin was the one to start the tempo of the meeting.

"To begin, that was quite an informative lecture, was it not?" He spoke.

"I suppose," Archer answered dimly.

"Ah, humility. That's where you're cutting yourself short," Ozpin answered with more enthusiasm than Archer expected. "Moving past pretenses, we should feel free to speak honestly in our capacity as fellow magic practitioners. It's all the more important as this is our first actual meeting. Therefore, introductions should be in order."

"Archer. I'm well known enough to just go by that," Archer said, noting that Ozpin didn't seem to mind. Instead, he looked as if he was about to reveal some stunning secret, like a child who couldn't hold in their excitement.

"I, am Ozma." Ozpin declared solemnly, looking for all the world as a mysterious and all-knowing wizard. How dramatic.

"...I think I'll take my leave." Archer did not hesitate at all, playing hard to get to solidify the act.

Ozpin's features twitched violently. He coughed. "I am not joking. I can prove it."

"How?" Archer entertained.

"Give me my sword."

Ridiculous.

"I'm really leaving." Archer pushed his chair out.

"Wait, wait!" Ozpin lunged over the desk and used the reach of his cane to push Archer back into his seat. "I'm serious!"

Oh, Archer knew that Ozpin was being completely serious, but just believing without a fuss would bring far too much doubt and suspicion.

"And this isn't just some underhanded scheme to get the sword of Ozma in your hands, and then never return it, is it?" Archer snorted; his eyes derisive when Ozpin partially stilled as if he'd hit the hammer on the nail.

"I am not such a crude man." Ozpin coughed between his answer, not giving anything away. "Trust me." 'Though if I prove the sword is mine, then that opens up another avenue for debate…'

Archer eventually relented and gingerly passed over the sword, knowing that he'd made Ozpin sweat enough.

The moment the sword was held in Ozpin's hands, a swell of magic energy that illuminated the entire office in a verdant green shone. A glint of nostalgia flickered in Ozpin's expression before he took a long moment to bask in the feeling. "It's the same," he muttered before swallowing.

In the next moment, Ozpin shut his eyes and channeled his focus into the sword, the entire blade taking on the hue of moonlight before expanding into an energy sword that adjust its length at will.

"Is this not proof enough?" Ozpin asked after opening his eyes.

The sword of Ozma Archer had presented in his class was nothing more than a dormant form. Only upon acknowledging its true wielder would its actual power be revealed. More so when its name is called upon, but Ozpin wouldn't risk blowing up his office for no reason.

Contrary to expectation, Archer's demeanor and stance didn't change at all.

"I can do that too though." He said flatly, stunning Ozpin into an almost childish stupor. "It proves nothing."

"N-No you can't," Ozpin sounded angry.

"Yes, yes I can."

"No. No you can't." Ozpin was firm, showing a side of him only Salem had ever seen. "Only the owner has access to this component of my sword."

"Give it here." Archer beckoned, giving Ozpin an ominous feeling.

In the end, Ozpin could give no legitimate reason to not give the sword back when Archer's failure to activate it would prove Ozpin's claims true without a shadow of a doubt.

Reluctantly, Ozpin handed the sword of Ozma over.

Archer knew he was going to be cheating, as it was true that only Ozpin should be able to activate the sword, but the whole notion of Tracing sort of circumvented that.

Within seconds, an identical phenomenon occurred, Archer maintains a straight face while Ozpin looks like he'd been sacked and betrayed.

"Well, anything else to say, you con?"

Archer had no intention of giving the sword away. Better to not give Ozpin a chance to realize it might be a fake after all. However, Tracing was not to be underestimated.

Ozpin truly believed that was his fucking sword being stolen right in front of him.

Archer put the sword away, Ozpin eliciting a faint gasp of utter bitterness and stunned confusion. "...No wait, ah-"

It was already too late. The sword was put away and Archer made a 'let's move on' gesture.

Ozpin didn't seem to notice that he was glaring daggers, inwardly vowing that this wasn't over before grudgingly tearing his gaze away from the duffle bag. He still had priorities.

"Now let's get to the point 'Ozma.'" Archer joked, watching a vein pop on Ozpin's temples.

"Yes well, I am He. Doubt all you like, but I am." Ozpin had lost his enthusiasm and huffed. "As for how an ancient Champion of Light like myself is still around to this day, I have my own circumstances. I will stress that I am surely the senior here. While you've dabbled in the history of Remnant's past, I lived it. Though, I will admit…perhaps I did not know everything."

Archer took the intended cue. "You mean the history of the Champions of Light and Dark before the era of Ozma which scattered their artifacts across Remnant?"

"Precisely." Ozpin could only nod. "From your description, I wasn't exactly born then. It is likely an era with magic and mysteries even older than I. The age of my predecessors past."

"Which brings us to the matter of this meeting?"

"Why yes." Ozpin cleared his throat and gave the matter its due importance. "I propose an exchange of information, of course on the friendliest of terms."

Ozpin then began to explain the matters of Remnant's Shadow War, one waged for millennia between the forces of the Grimm and mankind. It wasn't the first Archer had heard of it, making it so that he couldn't help but note the discrepancies.

The way Salem had put it, differed in that Ozpin stressed that everything would end after Salem's defeat. He made no mention of ending the curse plaguing either them, or the words left behind by the original Gods of Remnant, the Brother Gods. It wasn't that he was purposely doing this, but because he likely believed it was impossible to achieve, and had no inclination to bring it up in the first place.

Ozpin then stressed the importance of keeping the power of the Four Relics contained rather than bringing them together. He didn't mention that doing this would bring back the Brother Gods in the same way Salem had, but still, a majority of what he said matched with Salem's own explanation.

It was rather sad, or noble based on how one saw it.

Using Ozpin's goals as a basis, the man sought the safety of the majority. Defeating Salem would not cure the curse plaguing the two. Salem and Ozpin would continue to be immortal, neither finding the absolution of death. It was quite likely that Ozpin would imprison Salem, and the two would be left to their own devices damned for eternity. This also left the return of the Brother Gods buried like some landmine waiting to explode. A blade of Damocles as Salem had described it. The Brother Gods were the true arbitrator and judge in Remnant, and Ozpin would not take that risk.

Sorry.

Archer could only apologize. Risk was not a factor to him. He'd understand and agree with Ozpin's approach if he were EMIYA, but if there was a way to save everyone, and it was in his capacity, then that was the path he was going to take.

Ozpin and Salem were immortals, and Archer certainly did have a way to kill those that couldn't be killed, but he didn't know if doing so would incur the immediate notice of the Brother Gods. Salem had stressed that Ozpin was intimately tied with the God of Light, and she, with the God of Dark for her actions of the past.

Knowing the nature of Gods, it wasn't a risk Archer was just going to take, and that meant playing into the original purpose of the Brother Gods that Salem had told him.

Unity.

The judgment of the Brother Gods was the true doomsday event.

The people of Remnant would have to learn to put aside their differences, and live in a world without prejudice…and there was one such way to catalyze such an outcome.

It was why Archer had already made up his mind.

"You're being quite forthcoming," Archer said after Ozpin paused and took a drink from his coffee. It was no longer hot, but now, lukewarm.

Ozpin didn't seem to notice, and blew on his coffee as if it was still hot. The man likely had a lot on his mind, the most of which was whatever goal he had in sharing all this information with Archer.

Recruitment, likely. Unfortunately, Ozpin wasn't the first.

"Take my willingness to share as a show of sincerity in hopes that you would do the same," Ozpin expressed before putting away his coffee and steepling his fingers. "About what you said in today's lecture…"

"The Champions of Light and Dark and the artifacts they left behind?" Archer recalled, watching as a light flickered across Ozpin's eyes.

"Yes. To be more specific, where did you go about finding these artifacts and how did you get to know the history of their wielders?" This was what made Ozpin the most curious. Moreover, he'd yet to call Archer out on the lie of the projection he used in hopes that Archer would come clean now rather than be put on the spot later.

However, Archer never really played to convention.

"Can I choose not to answer?"

Ozpin's lip twitched. "Is that an invitation for me to freely guess or probe?"

"Is it really?" Archer leaned forward. "As one magic user to another, don't you think that's an invasion of privacy?"

As if, Ozpin's expression practically screamed. "Believe me, having lived in an era filled with magic users, the fact that I'm asking is already rather polite. Don't you think my sincerity is at least worth this much?"

"Then I'll give you a proposal."

"Hmm?"

Archer readied himself to throw out the lure.

"The information you want, or information I currently have on an ancient ruin holding an artifact that can kill an immortal?"

"..."


Ruby had a lot on her mental plate…and they weren't anything like cookies. Instead, they may as well have been brussels sprouts, broccoli, or carrots, hard to chew and process.

She groaned, but knew that her troubles weren't anything as easy to handle like food preferences, but rather, were heavy subjects. Considering that she was just starting her first year in Beacon Academy, the troubles plaguing her weren't what someone her age should be shouldering. With how Yang put it, she should be thinking about school, the next valve comics, and well…boys.

Ruby shook her head, feeling the heat rising over her cheeks, but refusing to get distracted by Yang's influence. However, it wasn't long before she was brooding, her fears turning into worries.

Far from the naive girl others could view her as, she was already capable enough to be enrolled into Beacon Academy early. This primarily had to do with her combat skills rather than her interpersonal abilities, but the point stood that her combat skills encompassed astute observation.

Ruby's Semblance primarily had to do with speed, making it such that her spatial perception was far above normal. Time slows in bursts of speed, and her ability to see clearly in this blurred kind of perspective allowed her to freely navigate while using her Semblance.

Factored into everyday life, she could see things and notice details that others couldn't.

Whenever Shirou killed Grimm, parts of his body would blacken. At times just the finger tips would blacken, but at others, she'd see his whole hand get enveloped before he concealed it behind his red cloth.

She'd never asked nor worried before since Shirou had always seemed fine afterwards, but after today's lecture, she was no longer so sure.

Shirou had never gone into specifics of his summoning ever since he found out that he wasn't in some sort of competition. Instead, he'd just stayed by her side and watched out for her.

Going back to today's lecture, Ruby frowned.

Champions of Light, and Champions of Dark, through Archer's own accounts, existed.

Then the stories Ruby had grown up listening to from Shirou were most definitely about these Champions.

They existed.

From the expressions Shirou made, and the clarity of his words, they had to have been real. The stories were real.

The only discrepancy Ruby found odd was that Shirou had referred to himself as a Heroic Spirit before. Then again, he'd also said that Heroic Spirits are Champions of humanity spread across history, so they were basically the same thing. Did these Champions also have Masters then?

Archer also didn't say anything about Command Seals…

Ruby pursed her lips, her fingers drumming nervously over her legs.

She didn't have enough information, but what information she did have, she'd rather not have been introduced to.

"Corruption," Ruby muttered to herself dimly.

Was that what the black coloration was whenever Shirou killed Grimm?

It was quite likely.

Then-

The scene of Atalanta and Jeanne d'Arc succumbing to darkness came back to Ruby's mind. Said scenes were already shared by the scrolls of several students, so it shouldn't be long before they begin to spread into Vale.

Ruby then pictured Shirou going through the same process, and what she'd have to do if it happened.

In both cases, the only cure Arche revealed was…death.

M-Maybe she should order Shirou to stop killing Grimm. You know, leave all the finishing blows to her, and all that.

She shook her head.

It was unreasonable. There was no way for her to do that even if she wanted to. Moreover, this topic eventually shifted itself not only on Shirou, but on her mother.

The memory of what had happened in Mt. Glenn would never leave Ruby's mind.

The stark change to her mother's features: the pale pallor, pulsating red veins, and unadulterated negativity surrounding her-

"Something wrong, Rubes? You look like you're about to cry. Which bastard was it?"

Ruby blinked in confusion, realizing that Yang was towering over her in team PRWN's dorm. Confusion didn't last long though when she noticed the fury lacing Yang's features.

Ruby panicked, and hurriedly wiped her eyes before plastering a nervous smile on her face. "No. Nothing at all. No one did anything either. Why? Why would you even think that? I'm perfectly normal right now-"

"You're blathering." Yang narrowed her eyes and chided, stepping closer to her little sibling. "You only do that when you're nervous or caught. If it's not someone else, then listen, if you're still embarrassed from today's class, I'll apologize, okay?"

Ruby gave Yang a look at the reminder which made Yang snort.

"Guess it wasn't that then," Yang crossed her arms and shrugged. She then suddenly pinched the sides of Ruby's cheeks and began to mercilessly pull on them, making her squirm.

"Y-Yang stop!" Ruby squawked.

Yang would not listen.

"Tell me what's wrong, the pain stops."

Ruby's eyes rolled left then right, looking for an escape before realizing there was none, and groaning in dismay.

Still, Ruby promised Summer she'd keep her existence a secret for now, and Ruby wasn't going to break it let alone mention the thing with Shirou. It wasn't as if Yang would believe her anyway.

Eventually, Yang huffed at not getting what she wanted and relented, not knowing Ruby to be this stubborn on something. She at least had to respect that.

Ruby would tell Yang if she really needed help, and Yang would be there for it.

"How did you even get in?" Ruby whined, rubbing the numbness out of her cheeks. "You're not even part of my team!"

Yang didn't bat an eye and gave the perpetrator away.

"Thank her for that," she pointed at the entrance where Neopolitan waved smilingly with Weiss huffing in her corner of the room, trying to study in peace. "She opened the door for me."

Ruby opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water.

Neo! Traitor!

More importantly...

"Hey-" Ruby narrowed her eyes, surveying the room now that she was no longer lost in thought. "Where's Pyrrha?"


"So, ugh, Jaune," Pyrrha tried to make herself as natural as possible while feeling as if she was standing on the balls of her feet. "Fancy seeing you here."

They were at the intersection of a dormitory hallway just around the bend of team BAYN's room.

Jaune had just walked out, only to run into Pyrrha on the way to get some fresh air. Unfortunately, he wasn't alone.

"Right." Blake made eye contact with a red-faced Pyrrha. "A coincidence surely."

Blake eyed Pyrrha up and down, making her feel utterly exposed. Still, Pyrrha had always been good under pressure and was able to compose herself. "W-Why yes, those do happen," she reasoned.

"Oh, is that so?" Blake snorted, looking from Pyrrha, then to the bend around the corner. It was close enough that one would be able to hear team BAYN's door open. "I guess I'll just have to believe you."

"Y-yeah," Pyrrha was all too willing to close the subject, and Blake wasn't one not to know what was going on.

She stepped closer as if to move around Pyrrha, but paused mid-step and whispered discreetly into Pyrrha's ear.

"Since when did Pyrrha Nikos learn how to wear makeup? How long did it take you? An hour? Two? Is that eyeshadow?"

Pyrrha stiffened with a mini panic attack, but managed to stifle her outburst.

Blake smiled before patting Pyrrha on the shoulder, acting as if she was just wiping off dust. "Also, you weren't as quiet around the corner as you thought. Heels aren't the best for being stealthy. Oh, and heels? Dare I ask the occasion?"

Pyrrha's mouth opened and closed, her words failing her before she managed a tiny whisper. "How did you-"

Blake's smile widened before pointing at her cat features, and then sauntering off, leaving Pyrrha mortified at being seen through, yet thankful Blake didn't openly call her out.

To have such detailed observation skills…

"The eyes of a thief," Pyrrha muttered.

Yang hadn't been lying during today's lecture.

Blake stumbled just as she rounded the corner, having heard Pyrrha through her heightened sense of hearing. It was now her turn to be speechless, but unlike Pyrrha, Blake knew exactly who to blame for this misunderstanding and began cursing Yang's name under her breath.

Left alone, Pyrrha gathered her courage and returned her attention to Jaune. However, the guy himself didn't seem to be present even if he was standing there. He was too lost in his thoughts to the point his features were somewhat drooped.

"Jaune?" Pyrrha called out, only then snapping Jaune out of it when she tentatively tapped him on the shoulder.

"Sorry, Pyrrha." Jaune balked before understanding that he'd been ignoring Pyrrha. "Did you say something?"

Pyrrha sighed, putting aside her motives in order to properly assess Jaune's current condition.

"Are you alright Jaune?" She probed, thinking about what could be affecting him and coming to a single conclusion. "Is it because of Magic Artifact class?"

"Yeah." Jaune admitted, staring absently at his hands. "I just saw my ancestor today."

Pyrrha recalled the exact image, and couldn't help but nod to herself. "She resembles you. One day, I believe you'll be just as accomplished if not more," she encouraged.

"And then get burned on the stake for it?" Jaune whispered, shaking his head in disbelief at what had transpired.

"..." Pyrrha winced, shifting her weight from leg to leg.

"How could they do that to her, Pyrrha? What did she do wrong?"

'What did Cardin do wrong?' Pyrrha didn't voice the question, only the truth. Many, many more eyes would be on Cardin after the presentation in class, but Pyrrha was getting carried away in her pity.

Jaune was just as affected by the scene, if not more than Winchester...and she cared more about Jaune than Cardin anyway.

"I'm sorry. I don't know," Pyrrha answered, knowing that sometimes, silence was golden, but pausing in thought. There was some advice she could give. "That's why we have to work hard so that the mistakes of the past don't happen again," she reasoned.

Jaune listened and recalled the stalwart figure of his ancestor before she was burned at the stake and corrupted.

"I'm going to be a hero Pyrrha." He declared, hands balling into fists. "Someone who can stop these sorts of tragedies and honor the legacy of my ancestor. I want to be a Champion of Light, like she was before me."

The resolve Pyrrha could see in Jaune was heartening, the subtle glow of his aura around him quite pleasing to the eyes. She coughed, hiding a blush.

"I believe that if it's you, Jaune," she wet her dry lips. "Then you can do it."

"Pyrrha, you…?"

Jaune suddenly paused after looking up at Pyrrha and then promptly over her shoulder.

"What?" Pyrrha knitted her brows in consternation, stamping out the butterflies in her stomach when Jaune had looked at her so intently and then stopped.

The mood seemed to have been killed.

"Is that Ruby?"

'Every time…'

"Tch."


A central clock tower existed in Beacon that acted as the Head Master's building, but beneath it was a hidden chamber that few if any were aware of.

Archer was one such person, and his visit today wasn't without its purpose. However, he found someone here that he hadn't accounted for. Based on his observations, Summer shouldn't have been here ever since Beacon's classes had ended for the day unless she was on an overtime shift, which she wasn't.

Seated with her head pressed over a table, Summer kept muttering to herself, such that a dark cloud was hanging over her head. The rest of the room was sparsely decorated, leaving nothing of note except for the desk Summer was sitting in. On the side wall were a set of card keys that matched the pair Summer was wearing. Behind her was a locked room with a turn-bolt lock.

"Something on your mind, Summer?" Archer called out to the woman who glanced up in surprise at his arrival, but didn't think much of it and planted her face back on the desk.

This wasn't the first time Archer had appeared in Beacon's clock tower, and it was generally Summer that secretly let him in to 'contain or kill' her if she ever lost control. It was a safety measure she'd rather him do than Qrow or Ozpin, as she was certain that Archer could quickly overpower her before she could do any harm. The same went for Shirou, but Summer would rather always have Shirou guard Ruby than devote his effort here when Archer was already around.

"No thanks to you," Summer chided listlessly, finally pulling herself into a proper seated position.

Archer hummed at Summer's response, before finding an approximate one.

"You were watching my lecture?" He concluded.

"How could I not?" Summer didn't hide it. She'd been in that classroom from the moment Archer's lecture began, only she'd obviously concealed herself. "It was your first lecture and you've never told me the things about magic artifacts and their history. I just didn't expect the…gravity of it."

Summer hissed, taking in a deep breath while resisting the urge to pull at her hair. "W-What's going to happen to me? Is that why I lost control before and tried to kill my own daughter?! I'm cursed, corrupted?!"

Her eyes wavered before she pulled off the mask on her face and stared at Archer.

"Is that what I've become?" She asked slowly, a finger tracing over her pale skin and shuddering. "O-One of those Dark Champions?"

Silence stretched as Archer considered how to answer, but he ultimately chose to be direct if just a tad misleading.

"In a way," Archer paused, knowing his admission would be a blow. "Yes."

Summer looked like she was going to cry.

"However, you're different," Archer was quick to add.

"How?" Summer looked like she was contemplating fleeing Beacon and the kingdoms altogether.

Archer took it upon himself to share some facts he'd learned from Salem. "Silver eyes are said to be the gift of the God of Light to a certain lineage of great warriors," he said.

Summer blinked, perturbed.

"Silver eyes? There was more to them? Ozpin never really-"

"He may just not be fully aware of them. He may actually know more about their reputation than their background. The Silver-Eyed warriors were a rather recluse clan of people, you see."

Doubt flickered in Summer's gaze, an honest reaction really.

"And you know this, how?" She questioned.

Archer already had an answer.

"The same way I learned about magic artifacts. In the depictions and texts of the ruins left behind," he said, ignoring the twitch on Summer's brow. He knew, the excuse was actually quite convenient for everything, but it didn't detract from how authentic it sounded. "It's not important. What is, is that silver eyes are said to carry the gift of the God of Light. They're likely why you're still sane right now because-"

"Light counteracts Dark, and vice versa," Summer finished for him, able to conclude it on her own with an unpleasant twist.

Archer grimaced. Here it was again.

Summer suddenly started mumbling to herself, nodding numerous times as if justified.

"A-All the more reason then," she muttered, losing focus in her gaze.

"Summer."

"If my eyes are overused or overpowered,"

"Summer, dammit, listen."

"…I'll go insane or fully corrupt like that Arc ancestor."

"Summer!" Archer sneered, shaking the desk Summer was leaning on to jolt her until she finally refocused on him. "You're making excuses not to see them again, aren't you?" He skipped formalities, and accused her directly of what she was trying to do.

Summer pursed her lips, her brows knitting together. "It's not an excuse if it's true."

That wasn't the first time Archer had heard that, nor did he expect it to be the last. He snorted. "Then I guess it's not cowardly either if it's to protect them? Raven can make the same excuse based on her perspective of keeping Yang away from the Branwen Tribe's influence. Are you Raven?"

Fury and resentment blended into indignation. It was the first time Summer looked she wanted to wring his neck.

"..."

"Did you say something?"

"I said this again?!" Summer seethed. "That's not fair! Our situations are completely different."

Archer wasn't intimidated. You raised your voice, so what?

"Playing keep away from your daughters?"

"I-I keep in contact."

"And so did Raven in her own way."

"She never spoke a word or sent a message."

"But she was there."

"And so am I! I'm here, I can watch over them."

"From a distance. Raven did that too."

"I never knew you were this insufferable."

"And I never thought a grown huntress could be this indecisive." Archer leveled even with Summer, stooping to her level. "The power of your silver eyes isn't so weak. It's your resolve."

Silence, the two just staring hard at each other waiting for one side to give. In the end, Summer flinched and turned her gaze to her side.

"I'll think about it, okay?"

"That's what you said last time."

Archer was not impressed.

"I'm obviously still thinking about it."

Was she…was she growing petulant on him?

Summer's similarities with Ruby were uncanny. Therefore, Archer would just deal with her in the same way as her daughter when she refused to socialize.

Utterly corner her.

"I'll arrange a meeting."

Her eyes bugged out immediately.

"Y-You can't!"

He was unphased.

"I'll ask Qrow and Ozpin to stay on standby along with me in case you 'lose control,' which I doubt."

"I don't agree!" Summer stood up, the legs of her pushed chair screeching.

"I'll arrange it for after classes, closer to late afternoon when most of Beacon's students have returned to their dorms."

"I said, NO!"

"Would you like me to invite Tai as well?" Archer raised a brow while Summer made childish choking gestures. "Go ahead, keep protesting, see if I don't. You know he'll come flying on the next bullhead over."

"Y-You're a tyrant!"

Letting Tai see her current state was what Summer dreaded the most. At least with Yang and Ruby she could lord her authority as 'mother' over them to get them to listen to her, but Tai was different. He didn't have to listen to her, and he was as stubborn as a bull. That's where Yang got her obstinance from.

Summer felt that she'd tormented Tai enough with her absence, and then to see her become this monster, this Dark Champion, she'd put enough burdens on him! Knowing him, he'd never give up on her, and refuse to leave her despite not knowing if she'd ever lose control and kill him.

Archer no longer had any mercy.

"Next week at 5pm," Archer set the deadline for Summer's mid-life crisis. "You still have a couple days to prepare yourself. You've put this off for long enough."

"What if I don't show up?" She immediately grew evasive.

Predictable.

"I'll tell on you."

"You blabber! No one likes a blabbermouth, s-so you can't! So there!"

Archer gave her the most unimpressed look he could give, and said two words that sealed the deal. "Try me."

Summer couldn't stand him anymore and dispiritedly slinked out of the room, giving him a long hard stare as if she could guilt him into reconsidering when she reached the exit door.

He smiled at her smilingly.

She slammed the door on his face.

Alone. Finally.

Now then, Archer's attention focused on the door the desk was placed to always have in view. It was a holding cell for a special lady Salem said could still be of use.

Cinder Fall.

It was the woman Archer had captured following the events of Mt. Glenn. A long time had passed in captivity, and it was a testament to her character that she didn't so much as utter a word in confinement. She would glare and growl at Summer, but would grow defensive when Qrow or Ozpin stepped in. The two weren't as reserved as Summer, let alone Qrow who grew up in a bandit tribe.

Archer successfully made his way into the holding cell and made eye contact with the person inside.

Cinder had seen better days. Her hair was dishevelled, and she was firmly secured in a firm straight-jacket tethered to the walls by several chains. All her limbs were bound, meaning she had no choice but to lie on her side. A surveillance camera was placed on the corner of the room, but Archer had already tampered with the live feed to not show any anomalies. For this, Salem had enlisted the help of someone named Watt's to guide Archer through.

"Cinder," Archer greeted.

She didn't speak, only continued to glare.

"Talkative as ever, I see," he snarked.

This time, she snarled, unable to hold it in. It was Archer's fault she was even here, caught and detained.

Archer raised his hands in a universal gesture for peace, but didn't approach. With how much resentment he could see on Cinder's face, he didn't put it past her to try to spit on him with her limbs already restrained.

"Listen, I just need you to hear me out."

No luck.

Cinder rolled her back to him.

Archer sighed before rummaging through his belonging and producing an item given to him by Salem.

"Maybe this will change your mind?" He said, waiting until curiosity eventually got the best of Cinder and she glanced back at him. Her expression suddenly changed upon seeing what was in his hands far more than any verbal confirmation could achieve.

She rolled back to face him.

"Y-You treacherous snake." She abruptly stammered, light returning to her eyes. "All this time you were a sleeper…"

Cinder licked her dry lips before her mouth curved into an expectant grin.

"Very well. Let's hear it then."


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