I'm SpiritOfErebus here, and I'm posting my first story on here!
For you all who may or may not have followed me here from Ao3, just know that the RWBY series is actually a pretty decent anime, with good fight scenes and decent character development, despite not being classed as an anime by some people. (Personally, I was very skeptical of this series until I watched the Qrow vs Winter clip.)
Feel free to comment or report any issues with formatting or other things! I'm not exactly the most experienced person at writing various things and posting them.
In case it was unclear, two rows of dots means that I'm probably exiting a memory excerpt and entering the actual story.
Edit 11/9/2020: Also, if a perspective change gets really weird, just tell me about it in a PM. I'm working on the issue with the future chapters by keeping the view consistently in first person (most of the time), and it really would take too much time that I don't have to rewrite all of these chapters. If you don't want to read all of the pre-canon stuff, skip to Act 3. I'll include a brief summary of what you all missed.
Excerpt: Old Memories #17
The world was dark.
Figuratively and literally, in my case.
It laughed in my face, shunned me, pushed me around.
All because I was blind. And trying for an engineering degree. My village could not understand my pursuits. I should be tending to the crops by digging irrigation ditches(the crudest task that my lack of vision allowed me to do).
"You'll never be able to make it to the city on your own." They said when I was a child.
Stumbling, I ran blindly into the forest when the bullies taunted and jeered, pushing me from all directions. There was so much sound in the air. So many vibrations for my oversensitive ears to hear. I whimpered and trembled on the ground as they tripped me and then-
I wished with all my heart to see. To be able to interpret colors. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Purple. All foreign terms I was depraved of. Maybe then people would stop casting me off.
To escape that little place, I honed my memory to perfection. I memorized everything I could, from the little songs on television to the feeling of grass and the position of the apple trees bordering the rice farms, and how many paces they were from each other tree. Spending hours in the grove, I tried to use various techniques of navigation to hide the fact that I was blind. Seismic, sound, and vibration sensing were very useful. My footsteps would echo off my surroundings, giving me a feel of where things are, as natural wind curved around obstacles in my way. Seismic sensing allowed me to detect animals coming my way, their light paws making the earth shake slightly.
Now, walking in the city a year into engineering school, I walked at night across a bridge. The water flowed beneath me, the gurgling as the flow of the smooth liquid passed over pebbles reaching my ears. I reviewed today's lecture from school. Mechanical principles were a hassle to utilize, and the only way I could practice them was think of different cases in which they were applied.
Interrupted from my thoughts by a sudden influx of vibrations, I stopped and concentrated. Behind me, two people approached. They walked quickly, sending sudden vibrations through the earth. I walked on and turned slightly to the left to give those people a birth and let them go wherever they wanted urgently.
The vibrations headed towards me instead, growing stronger steadily.
I realized the malicious intent. I began running, years of being chased coming to mind. I listened to the sound of my own footsteps and heard them echo off walls of the apartments.
I did not detect a rogue stick in the middle of the road.
Stepping on the stick, I tripped. I held out my arm in front of my face to avoid my nose being crushed. Scrambling to my feet, I turned to receive a fist to the face. I tripped backwards, but thrust my left leg behind me and steadied myself in the horse stance, holding out my fists.
Another punch came, but I was prepared this time. The wind whistled as the blow approached my torso, but I located it and caught the fist. Pulling it, I sidestepped as I guided the attacker's body to fall face first. When the thump of a fall was heard, I kicked the man and he wheezed, coughing violently.
It was during this period of obliviousness to my surroundings that the second man struck. Distracted by the vibrations of a convulsing body on the bridge, I noticed an object being swung at the back of my head too late for my reaction to matter.
I was hit. The world became hazy in my mind. My senses died. My heart thumped in my head, sending waves through my mindscape and disrupting information flow. I stumbled from the blow and gripped the first solid object that I could find to reorient myself: the railings of the bridge.
I felt my pockets being rustled and my wallet falling out. Trying to get the attacker away, I kicked at the thief, who was not struck by the desperate blow and whacked me once more in the back of the head.
Ringing sounded in my head as I fell, off balance, into the river below. My sensed dulled as I felt my body being swept away by the currents and dragged over pebbles and rocks.
And then the person known as Mei ZhiLing was no more.
An infant opened his eyes and revealed his location to be in a basket.
He opened his eyes? And saw things? Impossible.
He blinked, and looked at his surroundings. Blobs of color were slowly coming into focus, the ambient yellow and green of dried bamboo coming into view. Not that he knew what those colors were, anyways.
The last thing he could remember was his sensed fading away as he drowned, incapable of moving due to a heavy blow to the back of the head. This whole experience was new. Colors, information flooded his mind as he clumsily pinched his own arms.
Looking at his hands, the unnamed infant realized that they were a size too small compared to what he used to have. It should be about the same size as a book, not four times smaller than the one beside him!
"What the hell is happening right now?"
The infant's brain whirled in confusion.
Outside of his realm of confusion, a man whirled around a weapon at dark wolves, a staff in hand and basket behind his back. He wore a conical hat and dark robes, along with a wide leather waistband that bound his entire girth, giving him a lithe look. A scrap of black silk was tied around his eyes as he sprinted in the bamboo forest.
From his left, a variant of the dark beasts sprang. The creature itself was an odd sight, boasting a pitch-black hide with a bone mask and beady red eyes, along with several bone spikes protruding from its back. The shady mockery of a bear roared and swiped its claws at the back of the basket, the hulking creature intending on smacking the child and the man into the dirt.
One would think this was the end of the brief life of the infant and the relatively longer life of the man.
However, the man, though blindfolded by the silk, jumped in the air and flipped backwards. The passenger in the basket almost vomited at the sudden influx of centrifugal force. The flip carried the man over the strike. What was crazier was that mid-flip, the man stabbed the beast at the side of the neck with the keen point of his staff in one fluid motion. Upon landing, the cloaked man stabbed an approaching wolf without turning back, kicked off the wolf's dying body, and continued sprinting.
Another pack of wolves came out of the forest and surrounded the two. With abnormally long limbs and the same bone masks and beady red eyes, they resembled an assembly of demons. Surrounded, the man spun slowly on the spot as the wolves formed a ring formation around the two humans in the crowd.
One wolf sprung, apparently eager for the gore. The man swung his staff in an arc and scored the jumping beast across the stomach. Black fluid sprayed from the gut of the monster as the man reversed his grip and stabbed a wolf in the mouth that was approaching him from behind. The beast wilted on the spot, muscles relaxing and body slowly disintegrating. Spin kicking two wolves away, the man freed the staff and hit another wolf in the gut with the handle.
As this dance of death was going on, the child danced with motion sickness. As the man fighting the beasts twirled and stabbed elegantly and as fluently as the wind, the child was tossed and turned in a duel with the urge to vomit. How he managed not to fall out of the flimsily closed basket was a mystery.
While all this was going on, black blood kept oozing into the basket. The child flailed at it, unfamiliar with the creepy substance. There was no black blood where the child's soul used to reside! It couldn't even see the color black before he came into this accursed basket.
"What is going on out there?" he thought, as his head almost hit the lid of the basket again due to a flying leap done by the man. A spin-kick followed the move, and the child's face was slammed hard into the side of the basket.
The crowd of wolves thinned out after five minutes of slaughter. The man ran up a tree and began leaping from branch to branch. The infant fainted, its body too weak to take the continued stress of being flung about. Th darkness was familiar to him, merciful as it bought the lost soul into its depths, promising tranquility and life after this torment.
As more shadow creatures flooded the area and began trampling the trees (courtesy of the resident bears), the man found himself on the edge of a cliff.
He looked(?) behind him, turning his head arbitrarily, almost as if out of habit. His blindfolded eyes were pointed at the black wave that was about to corner him. Without sparing another glance, he jumped off the cliff, robes billowing out and catching the wind as he sailed off the edge towards the river down below.
The infant woke up from a very pleasant nap. The lost soul within dreamt of being in a basket and being able to see. Yawning, he opened his eyes to reveal that once again, he could see.
Looking around the basket in awe, he maneuvered his hands (with quite some difficulty, considering his age and the novelty of sight itself) to grasp the fibers of the basket. Peering out, however, he was greeted by the sight of the approaching river.
The new feeling of vertigo and fear of heights were instilled into the infant's mind as he became a pile of unresponsive limbs once more.
Ozpin stepped out from the airship with a heavy heart.
The last of his previous incarnation's descendants were most likely wiped out in this attack. The offspring he once had lived in this rural farming village, outside of the world's stage, and stayed there for many centuries. He could still remember them, two innocent girls living peacefully, silver eyes twinkling in the candlelight as their mother told them embarrassing stories about how her and Ozpin's previous incarnation met.
Ever since the tenth incarnation, things began to blur together. Now, on his fiftieth, Ozpin no longer remember all his incarnation's names. Years of sorrow, loss, sacrifice, and more loss weighed on his mind. Memories of dead agents and the cries of their families echoed throughout the centuries of war he fought. From the early agrarian settlements to today's kingdoms, the histories of the four modern kingdoms were but a blink of an eye to Ozpin.
On the forty-first incarnation (or something near it), the two silver eyed children were born. That was a lifetime during which he took a break from the war, Salem delayed by the loss of many pawns. Ozpin remembered taking them out before dying of exhaustion.
Now, he stood at the bank of the river as he watched a black shade throw a metal staff fiercely into the riverbed, using the reaction force from throwing the object to slow his fall. It would be his last mission. After all, this man suffered greatly for the cause and was now almost sixty years old. A casualty in his mission to delay Salem's inevitable rise.
The man came in, born on a stretcher. His right leg shattered and right eye socket oozing what could best be described as melted eyeball and parts of the brain. His blue aura flared uselessly, keeping the man alive but in terrible condition. Cybernetics were necessary if the man even wanted to use his brain. He took an experimental laser blast to the face as he tried to stop-
Deep breath. A sip of coffee. Everything was fine.
The man landed on his staff with his cybernetic right leg absorbing the impact, causing a stiff breeze as the man's baggy robes fell flat against his frame. Jumping once more and somehow pulling the staff with him, the man landed Infront of Ozpin and stood to a dead halt.
Cybernetics had taken a toll on the man. Instead of the lax, cheery ninja that usually greeted everybody with a shock buzzer, he was greeted with a shell of a man. A husk with a purpose. With cybernetic eyes, right leg, amygdala(the emotional part of the brain), and diaphragm, he breathed silently and stood as straight as a soldier, with no personal opinion left to speak of. Ozpin rued the day he sent him to defend a simple village on the frontier. There was an ambush, and a flamethrower-wielding minion of Salem decided to try and torch-
Deep breath. Another sip of coffee. Everything was fine.
Ozpin's calm eyes, completely void of emotion, looked at the silent ninja, and spoke.
"How was the mission?"
"Not very good."
"Were any of them alive? What of the grim? Were any of Salem's henchmen present?"
"Just one. Mostly dead. One was present, but I could not fight them off. He radiated lightning."
Used to the brief and vague mission reports, Ozpin merely sighed.
"Did you bring them with you?"
The man took the basket from his back. It was very small, and almost obscured by the hood of the black cloak that the man wore everywhere, a gift from his late mentor. Ozpin dragged his thoughts out of the past (with a lot of practice) and took the basket with slightly shaking hands. The man noticed this, thanks to his implants, but didn't know how to do anything about it.
Ozpin opened the basket and saw a sleeping child. He looked as if he were sleeping, with the beginnings of white hair. Taking the book that was also in the basket, he thumbed through a book of runes and graphs. He recognized it instantly. It was a transcript version of book he had spent a decade trying to decipher, the book that he had left with his descendants, hoping it could be useful in some way to protect their silver eyes.
The rustling of the pages awoke the child. Instead of typical two-month-old child behavior, he just opened its eyes and looked up at Ozpin with a calm expression, even if one could not really tell with young children.
Ozpin opened his eyes to speak, but his companion beat him to it.
"The child's eyes are indeed silver." The hooded ninja said.
Silver eyes. Another innocent soul dragged into a lifetime of turmoil.
Ozpin put the book and the child back in the basket, and handed it back to the ninja.
"Xin, my old friend, I must request that you take the child with you."
"Why. I am no good with children."
"He is safer with you than with me. You are the one that is supposedly killed in action, after all. Keep him in a secure region. Train him to live and survive, then send him to find me when he is ready."
"True. You should name him, though. After all, with the silver eyes and white hair, he might actually be one of your old incarnation's descendants." Xin said.
Thinking for a moment, Ozpin came up with something.
"Yun. His name is Yun Wu. May he soar above the conflicts of the world like the clouds he is named after."
Emotionlessly, Xin turned and sprinted off into the woods, no doubt taking the child to a safe location like he said.
Ozpin turned back and boarded the sleek, white airship once more. Tightening the grip on his coffee mug, he sighed. His last sentence was nothing but empty words. Summer Rose was already being targeted for being a silver eyed warrior, just like Maria Calavera, the Grimm Reaper, had. He may need another one of them on the field if Salem's recent swell in followers was anything to go by. In recent centuries, she had kept it to one or two followers, infiltrating the kingdoms and trying to keep them unstable. Nowadays, she had four pawns. And those pawns had pawns, as well. Hazel, with his decade old grudge. Tyrian, with his mad devotion. The other two had hidden identities that not even Atlas's databases could cover.
He looked out of the window to see a shadow dart from one tree to the other.
Turning, he sent a scroll message to the operative members of team STRQ to scout out the area around this village for a sign of Hazel.
This deadly game of chess must be played, as it has for five thousand years.
And hiding your emotions was something one excelled at after practicing it for that long, be it sorrow or despair.