Chapter 1: The Knight Part One
No cost too great...
Weiss Schnee was not prone to anger. Or, at the very least, childish bursts of anger. Yet, if anyone else were to have been in the training room with her, they would've seen Weiss stomping the ground angrily, with only her pride in her weapon preventing her from lobbing it at the wall.
Weiss was a bit of a perfectionist. She knew this, and she didn't consider it a bad thing. If you learnt something, you might as well learn to be the best at it. Which is why the metaphorical wall in front of her irritated her so much. No matter how she tried, how much effort and aura, sweat and tears she put into it-
She still could not summon anything.
The glyphs of the Schnee family, which she was vastly proficient with, refused to yield their final art to her. And she had tried, Oum knew. She had tried everything she could, and still nothing. And she couldn't even ask her team for help - this wasn't a thing she could ask anyone, save Winter.
Gritting her teeth, she stood straight and held Myrtenaster out. The glyphs appeared in seconds, the act having become ingrained into her soul. And yet, no matter how she tried, the icy blue glyphs refusing to turn into pure white - refused to summon forth even a Creep.
She held the glyph for a good seven minutes, pouring her very will into it. And her only reward was the faint hum of her semblance.
With a frustrated cry she let go of the glyph, letting it dissipate into the air, and violently sat down. It was only what was left of her pride at the moment that prevented her from burying her face into her hands.
Why? Why couldn't she do it!?
She was broken out of what might've been the start of a spiral of self loathing by her Scroll's ringtone. Regaining composure and most definitely not rubbing her eyes, she grabbed the Scroll from her bag.
'Hey, Weiss! Where r u? It's almost time for team dinner! U cant miss it, leader's orders!'
She could practically hear Ruby's voice and couldn't help but smile a little.
'I'll be there in a bit'
Sighing, she stood up and shifted into her stance once more.
One last time couldn't hurt, though truth be told she wasn't expecting much…
Weiss shook her head and swiped Myrtenaster through the air, as if slashing through her doubts. She would never be able to unlock the last art of the glyphs with that attitude!
Thrusting Myrtenaster out again, and the glyphs thrummed into existence once more. Gritting her teeth, Weiss poured all her will, and the glyphs began to spin. Yet still, not white but blue. She ignored her fatigue, her doubts, and her slight headache. She ignored everything by the glyphs.
"Come forth!" she cried out, thrusting Myrtenaster again.
Something inside her sank and she grit her teeth, making to dispel the glyphs-
The glyphs changed colour. Not into icy white or even black, but into a strange hue of pink, red, and orange. Her headache, which had been a simple dull ache, turned into a spike of pain. And she would've brought her hands to her face if she could move. Stuck standing, unable to move, and headache robbing her vision she could do nothing as the glyphs spun faster and faster, becoming brighter and brighter, until they were a blinding disk. She could feel heat on her skin, as if she had used fire dust, and she couldn't move.
"THE LIGHT WILL NEVER CEASE!"
The roar deafened her and tears sprung to her eyes as the glyphs violently turned pitch black, small embers of light flying away.
And in front of her own eyes, something slithered out of the now pitch portal. Something huge, with black body and stark white mask.
The Grimm fell onto the ground, motionless and for a moment Weiss thought that was it. And then an arm pressed against the ground and the Grimm slowly stood up, looming over her.
She was going to die.
The hold over her body broke and Weiss fell, too exhausted to continue to stand.
She never hit the ground.
The Grimm lurched forward and Weiss found herself cradled in the crook of a long thin arm. Eyes like bottomless pits stared down at her from a white mask. Even as she slipped into unconsciousness, part of Weiss recognized the absence of blazing red markings and sheer hatred that were synonymous with the Grimm.
"What…?" she managed to croak out, reaching towards the creature, before finally slipping away.
No cost too great...
"Weiss is taking a real long time," Yang said.
This was self evident. Team RWBY, minus the W, were standing outside the lunch hall. A lunch hall filled with food and people and dammit, she shouldn't have skipped lunch-
Next to her, Blake looked up from the book she was reading.
"She said she was going to train, last I saw her."
"Then we'll head to the training rooms!"
Ruby, who had been pacing so much that Yang was fairly certain she had left a little trough in the ground, declared this angrily – or as angrily as Ruby could get – before running off in a flash of rose petals.
"We better go after her," Blake sighed, marking her page.
They jogged after her – taking care of Ruby after she had unlocked her Semblance had taught Yang that running would just tire you out before you'd catch her – following the trail of rose petals until they reached the fitness wing of Beacon. Ruby was zipping around, peaking into each room while calling out, "Weiss! Weiss!"
"She does know that she can just search for the rooms with the hazard lights on them, right?" Blake said.
Yang chuckled and walked down the corridor, past her little sister. In fact, only one of the training rooms had their hazard lights on. And three guesses of which room Weiss was probably in?
"Oh Weissy~!" Yang singsonged, banging on the door.
A faint gust of wind and petals told her that Ruby was standing behind her, and she could feel Blake settling beside her.
They waited for a moment, with silence their only response. Yang banged on the door once more, a bit more forcefully.
"Weiss?" she called out.
"Weiss?" Ruby said, concern creeping into her voice.
"Weiss, are you okay in there?"
Still nothing but silence.
Blake shifted beside her, tensing. Yang did the same, tapping into her Aura.
"Weiss, if you don't open the door-"
The door exploded outwards, slamming into Yang and sending a wave of shadows flowing over them.
"Yang!" Ruby cried out, rushing to where her sister was on the ground. Blake, equally concerned, stepped in front of her two teammates, hands held out in what little hand to hand she knew. Under her breath Blake cursed herself for not bringing her weapon, though she knew she had no way of predicting...this…
Yang cracked open her eyes, now fiery red, and sat up with a wince.
"Yang, are you alright!?"
"I'm fine Ruby. What happ..."
The three girls caught sight of the monster that stepped out of the room at the same time. Monster was the only way to describe it. It loomed over all of them, even Yang, and though its body was gangly it did not make it any less intimidating. A long tattered grey cloak was draped over the pitch black body. It's head was a sharp contrast, pure stark white with two elongated horns and eyes like ink.
And in the crook on the monster's spindly arm was Weiss.
Blake leapt herself at the monster, hands shaped like claws while Yang launched herself from the ground, fist cocked back.
"Let go of he-!"
The monster threw it's head back and-
It was a scream. Had to be. But instead of a piercing scream or an sort of sound, what followed was nothing. A nothing so loud it drove away all sound.
In the sudden deafening silence that followed the monster lunged past the stunned Yang and Blake, rushing down the corridor.
After a few tries of speaking and failing, sound returned and Yang found herself yelling to Ruby.
"Go after that thing!"
She didn't have to say it twice. Ruby moved, disappearing in a flash of red as she chased after the monster and Yang scrambled up to her feet, pulling Blake along as they ran after them.
No cost too great...
The Knight ran through the unfamiliar halls. Hallownest had changed while it was sealed – the material under it's feet was strange, and the bugs even stranger. How much time had passed?
The Knight slammed through the first window it saw, curling around the noble as it did. The outside air felt strange too, and the color – the sky was as orange as the Light, the Plague! What had happened!?
The Black Egg Temple was never meant to be opened. Had it failed it's duty, had the Plague been set free?
The Knight hunched down at the sight of it, overwhelmed. And something slammed into its back.
As far as attacks went, it wasn't very strong. All it did was snap the Knight back into the present, and it reacted appropriately, standing to its full height, cradling the noble protectively.
A strange small red and black bug stood in front of them, without weapon or mask. The aggression was clear though, as the bug moved their hands as if to fight it. And the bug's silver eyes gleamed with anger…
"Let go of her, monster!"
The Knight tensed, wondered what to do next. How was it to protect the noble? And what did this red and black bug want? They did not seem to be infected by the Light, though there was a silver light shining in their eyes…
The Knight turned to see the yellow and black bugs running towards them. With a curse it gently placed the noble on the ground and unsheathed it's nail. Though degraded over time, the nail still had an edge and the red bug clearly recognized the weapon, hesitating.
Hesitation. The victims of the Light never hesitated…
But now wasn't the time for it to hesitate either, as other two bugs were about to attack. The Knight held its nail ready and let out another battle cry before swinging the nail in a great arc. The nail almost caught the Yellow bug, only for them to jump back, the nail missing by a hair breadth. Yellow's eyes turned redder than the Light of the plague, and with footwork far too fancy to be that of a normal bug they dashed to the Knight's front.
This bug was a warrior.
With a loud cry Yellow charged without weapons and the Knight readied its nail again.
Something kicked the inside of the Knight's leg, sending it off balance and allowing Yellow to attack. With punches that felt like a Moss Charger, the Knight lurched back. This was the first flashes pain it had felt in a long time. In the corner of its vision, it saw the Black Bug grab at the noble.
If the Knight had any voice, it would've snarled. Instead it acted, slamming the base of the nail into Yellow, sending them flying back. Before Black could react, the Knight slashed through them. The nail passed through them like they were a simple Aspid. It wasn't until the body dissolved into nothing did the Knight suspect something was wrong.
Black appeared next to Yellow, both of them shifting so they were back to back. It couldn't be clearer that they were partners. The Knight watched them carefully, not forgetting about Red, who was still watching carefully with those eyes of theirs.
The Knight was outnumbered. Not only that, but its time spent sealed had taken its toll. Once, it could've held its own against any of the Five Knights. And now, it was already tiring. The Knight couldn't handle a prolonged battle, not in the state it was currently in.
It had to end this in one attack.
The Knight tapped into its meager reserves of Soul. Only enough for one spell, but one spell was all that it needed.
"Yang, Blake, I think it's about to do something!"
The Knight leapt high into the air, glaring down at its enemies. In that split second, it watched as Yellow and Black tracked its movements, and watched as Red dashed towards the noble. Then the second ended, and the Knight plummeted towards the ground, Void and Soul sparking at the edge of the nail. Red was right beside the noble when the nail slammed into the ground, releasing the spell.
Tendrils of Void and Soul exploded from the ground, all around them. In the pandemonium, the Knight grabbed the noble and made to dash away. Before it could though something landed on it and wrapped around its neck.
"Let go of her!"
It was Red. And without its other arm, all the Knight could do was thrash around. Yet no matter how it thrashed, Red didn't let go. And the Knight couldn't teleport, not with the noble-
The Knight tried to shake the bug off, trying to focus its soul enough for another spell. Red refused to budge, Yellow and Black were beginning to rally-
The battle cry, so very much like Sir Ogrim's, was from a portly bug charging at the Knight with astonishing speed. There was only a second to react. The Knight dropped the noble, tossed aside the Red Bug, whipped out it's nail and braced itself.
Later, it would've remembered that the nail had suffered the toll of time as well. A once pure weapon, now brittle.
The portly bug's weapon sliced right through the Knight's nail, and still preparing for a counter the Knight could not react in time for the blade to slam into its body with a sick crunch.
For most beings, that would've been the end. Either dying on the spot or succumbing to pain and becoming an easy target. The Hollow Knight was not most beings. Ignoring the pain screaming across its whole being, the Knight took what remained of its nail and stabbed it into the portly bug's face.
The moment the bug flinched back, ripping its weapon out of the Knight's body, the Knight fell to the ground, black blood oozing from the wound. It's body refused to obey.
Was this the end?
No cost too great...
Ruby watched as the strange Grimm disappeared in a flash of darkness. Despite how strange that was, she couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief. She'd seen the wound Professor Port had inflicted. There was no way that it could've survived that. And crises out of the way-
Ruby rushed towards her partner, cradling the unconscious girl and scanning her for any wounds. There were no external wounds in sight, but her aura was practically gone and she might've been breathing but it was shallow breaths and-
"Professor!" Ruby called out.
Professor Port, who had been staring at the black blood dripping from his weapon, snapped his attention towards her.
"We need to get her to the infirmary!"
"Hmph, right you are Miss Rose! Come along now!"
'Don't worry Weiss, you'll be okay! Team Leader's promise.'
No cost to great...
Weiss was trapped in the dark. It was a darkness that had never known light. A deep darkness, without sense, time or feeling. Weiss didn't know how long she was stuck in it, but then there was light. A bright, pure white light-
No cost too great.
In the shadows, shapes began to form.
Born of God and Void.
The pure light seeped into the shadows, wrapping around their forms. Wrapped around her.
Blinding darkness was replaced by equally blinding light. When the light dimmed, she saw small masked figures, all around her. Like the Grimm, but not.
You shall seal the blinding light that plagues their dreams.
All the masked figures were staring at her with blank black eyes, and she didn't know why. Starting to feel self conscious, she resisted the urge to fidget-
You are the Vessel.
She turned around and came face to face with the light. Their body, towering over them, was like a mirror. And she saw herself reflected, with shadowy body and stark white mask.
You are the Hollow Knight.
She couldn't stare at herself, nor at the light for long, so she turned away-
And in the sky, another light exploded into existence. This light was blinding too, but not pure white.
This light was red orange, and searing and harsh. And silly as it sounded, the light seemed enraged.
"I WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!"
The harsh light grew stronger, causing the shadows to bubble around her. The white light was nowhere to be found, and the other shadows charged at the radiant light. She watched in horror as they were smote with beams of light. More and more shadows charged, but more and more died. Until only she was left. The light was massive now, hovering over her and fixing its baleful glare on her.
"THE LIGHT WILL NOT BE CONSUMED!"
The light blazed, and Weiss couldn't scream, though she tried. And then something stood in front of her. The creature from before, garbed in thick white armor. Armor that, with a shrug from the creature, shattered. The freed creature let loose a piercing silence, nail in hand. The enraged light let loose its own scream, raw and unearthly.
And Weiss found herself falling. The orange light soon became a distant speck. Weiss's voice still refused to work, even as she free fell. It wasn't until she abruptly hit something very soft that something finally escaped her throat.
It was 'oof'.
Dazed and bewildered, Weiss laid still for a moment until humming caught her attention. Cautiously sitting up and brushing away a soft purple cushion, she searched for the humming.
It was a moth. If moths were the size of people. And despite how horrifying that should've been, there was no visceral disgust at the sight of the human sized bug. Though it was a big moth, it was also a humming moth, with a back so hunched and eyes so cloudy that the first thought that came into Weiss's mind was – old. The fact that the moth looked like it was wrapped in a very fluffy coat didn't help. It looked like a little old woman.
And how silly was that? Bugs didn't grow old the same way people did. Then again, they weren't supposed to be the same size as people…
Weiss was wrenched away from that trail of thought when the purple moth spoke.
"Ahhh," the moth sighed with the voice of an old woman, "I see a most strange bug has come to visit my den."
Weiss flinched back as the moth raised an appendage towards her.
"Ahhhh, forgive me. I do not mean to frighten."
Some scraps of Weiss's pride remained intact and Weiss sniffed as she shifted into Proper Lady posture.
"I am not frightened."
"Meelemoo, perhaps not of me. But the Old Light frightens you, yes. I may not see much these days, but my hearing has not abandoned me."
Weiss flushed and tried to calm her still beating heart. Old Light…
"W-Where am I?" Weiss finally asked. Summoning that creature, and then that furious light. It was all almost too much. Almost.
She and the moth were in a small room, if it could even be called that. Weiss doubted she could stand to full height. For all that it lacked in proper space, it was at least cozy. There were cushions everywhere, and a rug covered the hard floor. Cozy light filled the room in the form of lanterns that hung from the ceiling. Lanterns that, on closer inspection, had glowing butterfly like creatures inside of them.
"You are in my den," said the moth cheerfully, and Weiss forced down a growl.
"And where might that be?" a thought popped into existence and Weiss swallowed, throat suddenly dry.
"Where is Beacon?"
"Ahhh, I do not know of any Beacon. We are in the Resting Grounds. Where old dreams still haunt the world."
Weiss suppressed the shiver that threatened to travel down her spine. Fanciful words, that was all that sentence was, nothing more. And the feeling of multiple eyes on her was also nothing!
"And where in Vale might that be?" Weiss asked, impatient.
"Ahhh, you are not that dumb, little one," Weiss wanted to get angry at that but the moth continued before she could, "You are not in your Beacon. Or rather, you are. I do not know what your body might be doing, but you are currently dreaming."
"If so then this is the most bizarre dream I've ever had," Weiss muttered. A dream, of course. It was all making sense. This was just some strangely lucid dream.
"Meleemoo, I see that you do not quite understand. Tell me, do you know what dreams are?"
"Of course I know. How could anyone not?" Weiss scoffed, feeling more comfortable. What a bizarre dream she was having…
"Ahhh, then you know that the world of dreams is the space between body and soul. Where what was, what is, what will be, and what never was all exist together."
There was a moment of silence and Weiss cleared her throat.
"O-Of course. Obviously."
"My, its so nice to meet someone who still knows the old ways."
Weiss wasn't sure if the moth was making fun of her or was genuinely happy. She decided not to comment on it to save face. There was still a good chance this entire thing was a bizarre dream caused by over exerting herself during her summoning training. But, on that off chance it wasn't-
"How would I wake up then?" Weiss asked.
The moth's voice up to this point had been cheerful. The sort of voice one Ruby Rose might have had when she'd grown old. But now, the moth's voice had taken a sorrowful turn, and the hair on the back of Weiss's neck rose.
"What?" Weiss asked, keeping her voice even.
"I'm afraid that the Dream has been closed off."
"What? What does that mean?" Weiss immediately schooled herself. This was not how a Schnee composed themselves!
"The veil between the Dream and the waking realm has been closed off. Unless it is cleft in two, the realms will stay separate still," the moth said softly.
The silence of the den, that had once been calming, was now stifling.
"Am I...trapped here?"
Weiss tried to tell herself that it was just a dream. But now she wasn't as sure.
"Ahhh, do not be despondent, little one. You are not trapped here. There is a way to escape. But it comes with a cost."
"What cost?" Weiss asked, voice hushed.
"If you were to cut through the veil, some dreams might invade the mortal realm. And not everything in the Dream is as nice as I am, hah hah!"
Weiss chewed her bottom lip – a bad habit she mostly had a handle on – as the moth began to hum again. She turned the moth's warning in her head over and over again, before finally coming to a conclusion. She had to wake up. This was a dream, and the moth was just a figment of her imagination.
Weiss ignored the little voice inside her that whispered 'what if'. Holding her head up high, she nodded.
"Please, tell me how to leave."
"Ahhh," the moth's voice was neither cheerful nor sad. It just was.
"To cut through the veil, you must wield this."
The moth held out her hands and Weiss stared at the glyph shining on top of sleek black skin. It wasn't a Schnee glyph, but it was a glyph nonetheless, resembling a flower embedded into a wheel. It glowed with a strange pinkish light, and when Weiss gingerly reached out to take it it felt warm.
The moment she gabbed the glyph, power thrummed and the glyph blossomed into a thin blade. She recognized the shape immediately. How could she not recognize her own weapon?
"Ahhh, what a graceful shape the Dream Nail has taken," the moth wondered. Weiss held the weightless copy of her blade in hand, power still thrumming under her hand.
"Now what do I do?" Weiss breathed.
"Wielder, you already know," the moth hummed, "Raise the Dream Nail, and cut the veil between Dream and mortal realm clear!"
Bolstered by the moth's words, Weiss raised the rapier. The power thrumming under her hands began to grow and pulse until Weiss's hands were shaking and the rapier less resembled Myrtenaster and more resembled a plume of flame.
With a cry Weiss brought the weapon down. Glyphs exploded everywhere from the cut Weiss had created in thin air. Pink light flooded out of the cut, blinding her, Weiss shook and almost let go of the strange weapon.
And the moth spoke as Weiss faded away.
"For your sake, I hope we do not meet again Wielder. Yet I fear..."
And then nothing.
No cost too great...
Weiss Schnee woke up with a start. It took her a moment to shrug off the panic of the strange dream, and recognize that she was in the infirmary. A heart monitor beeped steadily, there was an IV in her arm, and all was pitch black.
All the better to see the pink light of the Dream Nail. Weiss stared at the weapon, not believing her eyes. The strange weapon dimmed before disappearing, and for a moment Weiss was content to leave it as a hallucination undoubtedly caused by stress.
Throat dry, Weiss lifted a hand and activated her semblance, thinking about the strange weapon. What had the moth called her? Wielder-?
The Dream Nail appeared in her hand once more, a pink ghost of Myrtenaster.
And Weiss grew queasy as she realized it hadn't been a dream.
No cost to great...
Underneath the shattered moon, in the midnight hour, shadows stretched and writhed across Beacon.
In the halls, shrieks and buzzes echoed.
Underneath the various trophies of Peter Port's class, a mighty presence stirred.
In front of the Statue, a lost being cried out into the night.
In the forest of Forever Fall, many eyes stared up at the broken moon.
All across Beacon, various Dreams escaped. And the students and professors of Beacon slept on. All except for one Weiss Schnee. And the Knight of Hollownest.
No cost too great.