She stared out at the world that greeted her.
People spoke in a language she could understand, yet had no memory of using before.
They dreamed dreams that had none of the connotations her seedbed had once dreamed.
Monsters were spoken of, ones that were naught but fairytale in her last realities.
Kirakishou was alone.
There were no other Rozen Maiden to poison her, to force her to wilt and wither.
Yet she missed them.
There was no Father to reject her, to deny her a body.
Yet, she had a body of her own.
She was, is, and shall always be a Rozen Maiden, like her sisters. But she had become more, since journeying to this world. Kirakishou had grown… taller.
Or, was she of equal height to her previous world, just all humans and faunus in this world were as small as the Rozen Maiden of her original reality? She had no true way of measuring. This world had a different system of measurement. Even if she did, how could one compare one existence to another? No vines connected them. Everything was in disarray.
Yet all that mattered in the end was that she, an astral entity originally without a body, now possessed a physical medium due to some unknown method. Kirakishou found herself smaller than most of the adults, appearing in similar stature to the teenagers she had once seen through her mirrors, if only a little on the short side. She doubted any would question her age, once she inevitably interacted with others.
Even the thought of being able to speak, let alone hold a conversation with others without the fear of her sisters sent a thrill down her newly-gained body.
Yet her limbs were still ball jointed. The garden still demanded nourishment. Her skin was still the synthetic resin that Father had crafted, merely hidden and disguised beneath her favoured dress and an illusion so simplistic even with her limited flowerbed a petty little blossom like her could still keep retained indefinitely. Yet, she would only ever dream of hiding her doll body when absolutely necessary. Her appearance was the one part of father's development that Kirakishou admired more than any other, yet it was also her biggest flaw. Father had always stressed to his daughters of the dangers regarding humans who did not know of dolls. Yet that same man had ultimately forced her into a situation where her master-to-be had broken her.
Now, she was a lone seed nestled deep within a vast garden of unknowns.
Rozen's Maidens simply did not exist in this world. Jun did not exist. Rozen himself, did not exist. Not here. Even the N-Field, the field of the unconscious, now resided solely within her being. Where once she had possessed a distant flower field ripe with reflections of dreamers, appeared an almost pathetically small garden plot that felt almost barren; devoid of all but a choice few humans to sustain her. What had happened to the vast ocean of masters that she once possessed? Did they fade away, when her master-to-be betrayed her?
She had no way of knowing. All Kirakishou could do, in her pitiful current state, was imagine. It was a maddeningly familiar existence that had once reminded her of her captivity within the N-Field, from where she was first born and had resided for most of her life.
This world, this reality, was truly one that was separate from her own. She was alone. There were no split realities connecting this world to another, nor was this an illusionary world of N-Field creation. It was a simple, other world. One where she, her siblings, her father and her failed hope of a master simply did not exist and likely never would.
Yet, somehow, she existed now, solely. It made no sense to her. By what sorcery had she arrived in this strange, alien place?
Last she could remember, Jun had denied her confession, denied her ring. Suiseiseki had used her sister's ring to destroy the body she had woven so perilously. That she had crafted, lovingly, with her master-to-be. He had poured every ache, every pain of his meagre existence into her creation and she had welcomed him willingly when she birthed the beautiful white rose that is herself into the waking world.
Yet, to her utter disbelief, when the time had come for them to bond, he was repulsed.
That, more than anything, had broken her. When Suiseiseki persuaded Jun into kissing her sister's ring, she had felt Souseiseki pushing forward into consciousness. She could have fought. She could have regained her hold over the body. At that point, she'd been a walking pile of dreams and the energy of thousands of masters born into the world, in a genuine Rozen Maiden body. Severing the connection of her older sister's faded soul should have been a mere thought to a being like her.
But she couldn't do it.
What was the point in such an action, to be born into a world that despises you? That fears you? She had offered to change it all, change everything for Jun, so that the two of them could be happy in a world of their creation. She had split a dimension before, she could do it again. He had denied her, befouled by the lies of her supposedly more noble sister, Shinku. Why had he believed Shinku over her? Why didn't he listen to her?
He'd loved Shinku, that doll. Jun could never love Kirakishou, because he was already with Shinku. It was the only plausible explanation she could come up with, and it killed her inside. All that she had done, had been for nothing. So, she had allowed herself to fall. To pass away and escape the pain of rejection.
She could still see their faces, staring at her as she died. Suigintou, who had grinned at the hopes of seeing her beloved dead master torn away from her Palace of Beginnings. Shinku, who had frowned a frown she doubted she would ever truly unravel. Suiseiseki, who yearned for her sister to return.
And Jun, who stood by and did nothing to alleviate her tears. He had frowned and appeared conflicted, possibly, hopefully, yet had ultimately done nothing.
So she had died.
Yet now she lived.
Indeed, the youngest of the Rozen Maiden had awoken in this world some two days ago, in a shipping container currently being transported across a vast sea of some kind. With her power to glimpse through reflective surfaces as limited as it may be in the waking world, Kirakishou had only been able to scope out the ship itself through lenses and the occasional moment of still water, whether it be seawater, spilled fluids or a mere bottle of water sitting in a fridge.
Yet the ability to see was pointless without the ability to influence others; a lesson that father's choosing had so deeply taught the doll. Yet how could a pale white rose influence the world, when it is starved of the very resource that all life craves?
Kirakishou was so, utterly, hungry. To possess only a mere fragment of her seedbed was killing her inside. She needed more, or else she would wither and become…
Junk, a pitiful illusion. The blonde doll gave a hollow, pathetic laugh as the memory of her eldest sister's words came flooding back to her. Suigintou… Why did you say such hurtful words to me?
Yet, try as she might to reach out, there was nobody around who was close to their final rest, none whom she could free from their pain and lull into a peaceful dream, so that she may become as strong as her big sisters were. So that she, beautiful pale rose as she was, may be eternal. The perfect girl.
This existence felt none too dissimilar to her life in the N-Field, to a point where the doll found herself comparing the two. Trapped in a world, yet able to glimpse outside only barely, to see the world she was denied. A world of many colours, separated from her by a barrier.
Yet this barrier was only steel, it was not a border between dimensions. It was such a minor, insignificant thing in comparison to the toils she had faced beforehand. Yet, somehow, for such a thing to impede her existence frustrated her far more than the N-Field ever had. Sure, she could use what small fragment of her power that her meagre seedbed had produced to summon vines and tear through this shell of metal, but what would await her on the other side? Kirakishou wasn't sure if she could handle seeing humans wearing the final expression that Jun had shown her.
No. All she could do is wait.
So, she allowed herself to fade into silence, into a sort of trance. One would almost call such a state to be sleeping, were she capable of experiencing dreams of her own. No. Kirakishou would only enter the dreams of others as she slept, as was Father's curse. The N-Field was a part of her, nay, it was her. Yet, trapped as she was without any reflective surfaces to enter as a bridge to the dimension of dreams, even that was too far for her to reach, such was apparently life as a physical manifestation.
Kirakishou didn't know whether to laugh at her freedom in defiance of Father's will, or cry her lone amber eye out.
"Hey- What?! What in the-? You there! Get out of there this instant!"
She was awoken by a man grabbing at her limbs, pulling her away. A human man, wearing one of the uniforms of naval officers she had glimpsed beforehand. He soon flinched back upon contact with her porcelain skin, likely surprised at the texture it possessed despite her visual illusion of humanity.
"...I'm sorry." Kirakishou mumbled lowly, looking down and wringing her hands. She didn't know what to say, what to do. Everything was new to her.
The light that had crawled into her dwelling strained her one, visible eye. Yet there was no constant movement that rocked her limbs, no idle smashing of waves against steel. They had docked. A choice few minds entered her pitiful impression of a dreamland, dreaming faded, drunken impressions. She welcomed their brief connections with open arms.
"W-Well, you should be sorry, miss!" the man stammered and drew her attention back to his form, puffing his chest out in a way that she had been led to believe was intimidating. "Do you have any idea what you've done?! You've-"
She interrupted his tirade with a simple, "No." and a shake of her head, blonde locks flowing either side of her and spilling all over the floor. She hated it when people yelled at her. It was a sudden discovery, yet one she believed she knew how to act upon. "What action has this rose committed to anger you, sir?" she inquired, curious, tilting her head to the side.
Just like that, all of the feigned confidence that had been wafting from the man's emotions simmered to a still. "...What do you mean, girl? Is this some kind of trick? Is that it?"
Kirakishou shook her head once more. "...It is not a trick. I found myself in this container several days ago." she answered simply. "Is it your container? Is that why you are upset? I apologise."
If anything, her prompt response seemed to cause some manner of unease to her conversational partner, though she wasn't sure. She didn't have much in the way of experience talking to humans, especially ones that were from dimensions where Rozen Maiden didn't exist. But in the ones she had witnessed through the field itself, they had wore similar expressions when in a state of distress.
"...Shit. You're not lying, are you?"
Her response was to repeat her motions from before, shaking her head. It was almost tiring to repeat herself. She wondered if this was necessary for all humans. Were the ones with animal traits, those known as faunus, any different? Those that had entered her dream world occasionally thought of them. Some as family, many as outsiders to fear.
The man swore, his colourful language barely understood by the doll. Yet, she was acutely aware they were not words that once such as herself was meant to say, so she ducked her head and glanced away.
"Here, come with me, we'll get this sorted out." he eventually spoke in a kinder, softer tone. "The captain will want to hear about this." the man paused for a second, evidently aware of her continuing silence in the matter. "You'll be alright. Come on."
She followed, curious.
The crewmate led her through various corridors as he spoke about the ship and their purpose as a cargo-freighter delivering supplies for a festival of some kind. She marvelled at the human and his ability to interact with her physically. Yet, as they passed others, they too commented on her appearance. Some gave cries of alarm at the sight of her figure, others whistled and commented phrases she couldn't understand, whilst the rest seemed content to continue with their work after the boy who had found her gave a curt explanation of her status.
Kirakishou found herself on the bridge, where she saw the captain in person for the first time, having only heard his voice on the radio when the crewmate had radioed in and explained what was going on.
"So." the man's voice was gruff, in sharp contrast to his youthful appearance. Hardened, almost. His posture screamed that he was on guard against her. Memories assaulted her of Jun's own body in such a position, whenever she neared him. It killed her inside. "You're the little stowaway that we found, eh?"
Baffled, she could only nod. It had worked so far.
"As I was saying, captain, I found her in one of the food cargo storage crates. Marked to be delivered to Vale."
The captain hummed in interest, "And the status of the cargo?"
"None, sir." was the prompt response. "At first, I'd thought she'd simply ate it all. Long trip from Vacuo, after all. But the thing was spotless. No wrappers, discarded food or any sign it had been used at all. Poor thing was freezing in there. It's a miracle she's alright, to be honest."
The two crewmembers went silent for an instant, staring at her form. The captain grunted.
"And the manifest?"
Here, the younger crewmate paused, "Fink radioed it in before. Manifest came up empty. We're not even supposed to be holding this crate, let alone delivering it halfway across Remnant. Crate I.D places it at Vacuo harbour, fifteen days ago."
The captain turned to her and his hardened expression softened marginally. "...Ah, apologies. We haven't given our names, have we? The gent who found you is Mason Titus." the man in particular nodded awkwardly, to which she repeated in the same manner, staring at him unblinkingly. "You can call me Slate. Captain Slate Cobe. Could you tell us your name, please?"
"Kirakishou." she answered simply.
The two stared at her for a moment, before exchanging looks of some sort.
"That's a very, ah… unique name, miss." the man who had found her in the cargo crate, Mason, stated hesitantly.
Slate nodded along with the boy's words. "He's right. Ain't heard of a name like that before."
In response, her single amber eye narrowed ever so slightly. "...Father gave it to me. My name is beautiful." she answered curtly, agitated at the expressions that had crossed their faces. She tilted her head to the side. "...Do you not like my name?"
"No! No! It's a lovely name, definitely!" Mason answered quickly, waving his hands in the air in an odd fashion she hadn't seen before. "Very nice!"
The captain, Slate, merely nodded whilst taking a step back from her. "...Well. Anyway." he paused a moment to adjust himself. "After hearing what I did, I've opted to hand over this matter to the port authorities in Vale." he paused again, eyeing her form as if gauging her for a reaction. She stared blankly, the words meaningless to her. "...We'll arrive in the hour. For the moment, you may wait on the bridge."
Kirakishou gave a low hum in acceptance as she walked out of the room per their request, drawing on what memories her dreamers possessed of this odd, guttural language.
The moment the hatch closed, the two men released the breaths they had been holding.
"...Radio Beacon's Headmaster." the captain eventually spoke, staring at the area that their impromptu passenger had been standing with a curt frown. "I am most certain he will wish to hear about this."
Mason startled at the news. "And say what, captain?" there was a silence, as the captain gave him a significant look. "... You think that girl's a huntress, or at least a student."
"It's the most likely explanation. With the Vytal festival occurring soon, many hunters and huntresses-in-training will flock to Vale, either to partake for their school or to witness the event firsthand. And you saw her reactions, as I did. There's something terribly wrong with that girl. You just don't find that in civilians. She could be a huntress, hell I'm hoping that all she is. If not, the academy headmaster may be the only damn person in the area with a chance of figuring this all out."
The two opted to say nothing about the sensation they had experienced in her presence, when the girl became agitated over her name. It was as if all the intrinsic motions that made her simply ceased momentarily and whatever entity that had stared back at them was a complete unknown. An impossibility.
"...I'll do it immediately, sir."
"Hey! Stop that faunus!"
The abrupt yell from the docks caught their attention as they rushed towards the sound, some more eagerly than others. Ruby was first on the scene, able to see a monkey-tailed blonde faunus boy rushing along the deck of the cargo ship that had pulled up at one of the docks. Various dock workers attempted to intercept him, but the boy was far too nimble, jumping off the boat and onto the port.
"You no-good stowaway!" the dockworkers yelled in outrage, as the two detectives that team RWBY had spoken with before rushed to the scene and attempted to apprehend the faunus, who had secured himself atop a lamp post, hanging off it with his tail.
...Is that monkey-faunus really throwing bananas at people…? Ruby wondered, staring at the spectacle in confusion, privately wondering how her life had gotten so crazy after joining Beacon. Life in Patch wasn't nearly as insane as this.
But there was another who caught her attention. A girl, standing on the cargo ship and looking out into the distance, glancing at the scene of the faunus with a blank expression.
The girl looked like something out of a dream, with vibrant peach blonde hair that flew beautifully in the coastal wind. She wore a pale, ornately ruffled dress and tall laced boots that ran just past her knees and coloured the same fashion as her dress. An eyepatch styled like a white rose covered her right eye, with the strap likely hidden beneath her long hair, where two similar roses were interlaced like makeshift hair-ties that did little to prevent her hair from reaching her ankles.
A single amber eye locked with her own silvers for a single, infinitesimal second that seemed to stretch on for what felt like hours, before the connection was broken when the girl moved to lazily stare at the faunus boy oncemore, her expression as empty and unchanging as ever.
Ruby's breath hitched almost painfully in her throat.
She was beautiful. Ruby simply couldn't resist comparing the sight to when she'd first seen Weiss on Beacon's orientation day. Such an impossibly elegant appearance amidst everything else around her. With such a stark contrast to all of the grizzled dockworkers in the area, there was simply no possible way that Ruby could not notice such a person.
"Hey!" the yell from the faunus who had been fleeing the ship caught her attention, "A 'no-good' stowaway would have been caught, like that other one! I'm a great stowaway." he yelled out, narrowly dodging a rock thrown from one of the detectives in an attempt to make him lose his balance.
And then he fell.
Without hesitation the two detectives dived onto him before he could react, the bearded detective holding him down whilst the other pulled out some handcuffs.
At that moment, however, that didn't matter to Ruby.
What mattered was how he'd fallen.
A thin vine, barely the size of one of her fingers and as pale as the dress that her Schnee teammate proudly wore, had seemingly grown from the lamp post and loosened the grip that the faunus had been holding onto with his tail.
"...Did anyone else just see a vine grow from that light?" Ruby's blonde-haired older sister muttered out in confusion as she eyed a seemingly impossible event, eliciting slow befuddled nods from the other spectators.
The Schnee heiress surveyed the scene with a critical look. "One would assume that it would be the possible work of a semblance. Likely cast by the one person on that boat who may be of some interest to us." Weiss was quick to respond, narrowing her eyes at the girl. "She must be a contender for the tournament… Come on."
Before they could react, Weiss was marching off towards the dock. Ruby barely had a moment to realise this, before she was running after her partner, grumbling that the team leader should be the one to say where they go.