Arriving on the shores of the Eastern Kingdom, High Priestess Tyrande & the Warden Maiev soon find their forces beset by unfamiliar beasts of bone and shadow.
Arriving in Mistral, Ruby Rose and her friends soon find themselves roped into investigating strange behavior in the local Creatures of Grimm on behalf of Haven's Headmaster.
Soon, both parties will find themselves staring down unfamiliar threats and alien worlds.
The light of the evening sun shone through the windows of the small hotel room, casting the wooden chamber in a bright shade of orange. In the pair of beds, Nora and Jaune both slept, and more to the point, snored, while between the bed Ren sat, meditating.
For her part, Ruby Rose sat at the small corner desk and tapped her pen against the blank sheet of paper. A hum reverberating in her throat as she tried to think of what to say.
'Just start how you always do and figure it out,' she finally told herself.
Pressing the pen to page she began to write the next sentence like it was an old habit.
Hey sis, I hope my letters have been reaching you and Dad. Hand-written stuff's never been super reliable, but I guess it's all we've got these days.
Anyway, in case you haven't been getting them, I want to say I'm sorry for leaving the way I did. I know you told me it was a reckless idea, and you were probably right but honestly... It's not been that bad.
We've fought a few Grim, got turned away at this one town but then we saved another and finally made it to Oniyuri. They'd been hit by Bandits and then some Grimm but somehow managed to pull through! They hired us to protect their airship to Mistral to call for reinforcements and so uh... Here we are.
I won't act like it was all easy, it's scary not knowing what's going to happen next. Especially now that we're here and beginning our search for the people who attacked Beacon Academy.
Since arriving in Mistral our search hasn't had much luck. I also had a really rough time in this maze garden, but Madam Xahn helped me and I think it was good for me too, put things in perspective. Ren thinks someone is following us as well but we can't ever find them.
It's taken over a week to get an appointment with Professor Lionheart, the Headmaster of Haven Academy. Hopefully he can put us on the right track.
I know you worry but this is what we were training for, Yang, to become Huntresses, to be the ones to stand up and do something about all the bad in the world. I know you need to focus on yourself before I can expect you to come out with me. But it sure would be great to get Team RWBY back together again.
I miss you so much. I miss Weiss and Blake too. But I think you'd all be proud to know that I made it to Mistral.
I'll be sure to give you the address of where we're staying in Mistral! I'd love to hear back from you and Dad, and I can't wait to fill you in on whatever's going to happen next!
Now that we've made it across Anima, I really think things are gonna start going our way.
Between the trees and across the mist-stained grass an army was on the move.
Deadly archers, doughty bears, mighty huntresses and priestesses moved with swift and silent steps. In the air soared birds, hippogriffs, and a pair of purple-scaled chimera.
While marching at the rear, their steps both booming and yet so in tune with the earth they may has well have been silent were the ancients, small mountains of stone and vine.
They marched in packs as part of a greater convoy, unwilling to leave anything but their rear-guard behind lest they be fallen upon by the Undead Scourge.
At the head of their march were two radically distinct figures.
The first rose astride a great white tiger, both it and she were bedecked in shining silvery armor that drank in the light of the moon. With dark purple skin, long flowing hair the color of a dark moonberry whine and holding a war glaive, the High Priestess Tyrande cut an intimidating figure.
At her side and marching on her own two legs was Maiev, leader of the Wardens and bedecked in her dark grey and gold lined armor. Her helmet shaped akin to a bird of prey and obscuring her features, from her hand hung a great Chakram that thrummed with shadowy power.
Maiev Shadowsong scanned the woods, too thin trees with peeling bark only half obscured by a sickly mist bereft of the clean moisture it needed to feel pure and the forest itself was all too silent.
"These woods are too quiet," Tyrande mused, grasping her sabers reigns as if to still the beast but letting the march continue, her dark purple ears twitching.
Loathed to agree with the woman, Maiev remained professional, "Indeed, not a skittering corpse or snake track. Even the insects seem silent."
Tyrande was frowning, "There should be something, these woods are too thin to obscure a large force and our fliers would surely have noticed a large contingent by now."
So far the only thing their fliers ad spotted were overgrown fields and a distant ruined town, seemingly several days dead at best.
"If there is an ambush awaiting us, the settlement might provide enough cover," Maiev offered.
Tyrande merely sent her an imperious stare, "Thank you Warden, but I am well aquatinted with warfare." She looked back to one of her lieutenants, "Send word, have the convoy brace for battle, the town is barely eight minutes out at this rate."
Before word could even reach the end of the line a great echoing sound boomed across the sky followed by a huntresses war cry.
"Black beasts approaching!"
Instinctively dismissing her confusion, Maiev braced for combat and scanned the tree line, well used to picking out targets in the shadows she snapped her blade to the ready at a blurring black figure. Its massive frame began ripping through the trees like they were mere twigs.
'Gargantuan!' But she had killed bigger.
"From above, and below!"
In the sky a black dot ripped through one of the druids, his small form not enough to save him from being devoured in one mighty bite by the black and white blur. Demonic roars began to shake the very air, the beastly sound tinged with a deathly sort of scream that was foul as any demons!
As the beast made it into range, Tyrande loosed the opening volley well before it could attack, a blessed arrow wreathed in silver flew accompanied by a dozen of its lesser kin. Each one struck with lightning speed but even the touch of their goddesses' magic did not still or even pain the beast!
"Defensive formations!" Tyrande bellowed.
The monster pounced, ripping through all that stood between it and crashing to the earth. Its landing shook the ground and crushed beneath its paws two huntresses, while a mighty swing of its tail snapped the neck of a lunging Druid.
Maiev had barely blinked out of its striking range before she shot forward, dragging her blade across its side.
'Tougher than leather!' she thought, even as her blade cut deep.
A bone white tail, bursting with barbed spikes surged down towards her, forcing Maiev to vanish into the shadows again. Its striking blow formed a crater in the earth as the monster bore another wave of arrows without a care. Though several bolts of moonlight did at least scorch its frame.
'Its angry,' she realized, as its maw began to burn, rippling flames tearing from its throat in a massive ball of seething red fury.
The order came in time, but the defensive barriers of the priestess didn't hold up, she, her archers and their Druid were engulfed in flames. From the sky fell a similarly scorched hippogriff and rider.
Tyrande roared, "Face Elune's wrath!" From her hands the High Priestess launched her glaive.
Sensing the danger the beast leapt, a deafening screech escaping its throat as its tail was cut.
'What is wrong with its body!?' Maiev could see naught but red inside the blackened fur and a dark miasma leaked off its body as it began to shatter.
It fell into place immediately, "They are magical constructs!"
From the crowd, she saw several bolts of what she recognized as disjunction spells flying loose, but while they struck the beast its form did not waver or fade. Instead it merely loosed another ball of fire, though this time the shield wall of the huntresses was tight and a silver barrier rose up dispersing the flames.
From the sky a chimera fell, one of the draconic beasts heads was missing and its guts were spilling across the woods.
"Enough of this," Tyrande seethed, her glaive already back in hand.
"Leave this one to me!" Maiev snapped, letting her rage and guilt bleed through the black crystal suffusing her blade she blessed the shadows with a prayer and from it came the dead. Shadowed specters of vengeance bursting from the bodies off the fallen, armed and blessed with a divine fury.
The monster's burning red eyes locked onto her, and then her creations, as if for a moment it was unsure who to attack. Finally, it lunged at her summons, each of whom swarmed it with gibbering, screaming fury, knives, arrows, and claws of shadow ripping into its skin.
Maiev saw the beast thrashing and worse, saw fire gathering in its maw and blinked below its bone white armored mane. Weaving around the sharp protrusions and with divine strength and enchanted armor she struck without reservation or restraint.
Maiev gouged a mighty wound in the monster's neck! Its flames, broken and stifled exploded in its head, sending bone fragments flying as it collapsed to the ground.
Not wasting a moment Maiev looked to the skies in time to see a star burst impact the flying beast, its body ripped to shred in a near instant by the silvery, divine light.
All forces stayed on guard, looking to the woods an across the sky for another attacker, but when none manifested a low key chatter began to emanate from the army. Healers raced forward to tend to the wounded as best they could and to prepare the dead for last rites if nothing could be done.
Glancing to where she'd felled her foe Maiev grimaced at the fading sight of black miasma, 'Nothing, no body to inspect, no knowledge to gather, worse than slaying a demon.'
Tyrande's voice rose above the din, "Call in our fliers, have each among them blessed with the mightiest shields and wards we can muster. What's more if they see another such creature, they are to focus on distracting it and not engaging the beast. Sentinels," She added with an authoritative call, "Form defensive war bands, and preference your protective spells first and foremost, finally, bring the giants to the front of the line!"
As the Sentinels hastened to obey, Maiev's own followers looked to her for permission to which she gave a simple nod. With that the two Priestesses turned to one another, Tyrande spoke first.
"Those were not any undead or demon I have ever known even if they fade from our world like the latter. Their speed was especially terrible, and did you see, they felt no pain or fear?"
Maiev nodded, "A mane of bone, horns of a Tauren, the maw of a Southern lion with the spiked tail of some great Terrorsaur and the magic to spill fire. I can say for certain I have never seen a creature quite like it in the shadows beneath the earth or a hunt."
"And worse still," Tyrande muttered, "I doubt it was only them."
Maiev grimaced and ducked her head, "Scouts perhaps, meant to assess our strength?" They had seemed to originate from the distant village.
The air quaked, as a deeper, yet more sibilant, screeching roar boomed across the skies. All eyes turned to the town as a monstrous creature nearly thrice the size of its lesser kin rose into the sky.
A body that was too long and too slender to be truly feline, bedecked in black feathered wings and a white snake head sprouting from its over-long tail roared. Its skull like face splitting open, too round, too short, and narrow to be anything familiar even as its skull evoked death. As its side rose several more flying lions and tearing out from the village came at least half a dozen of their ground bound companions.
Tyrande's voice. blessed with divine might echoed and boomed, "Sentinels, slay them all!"
In the nearby hills, a dark-skinned woman, with tiger stripes and matching ears pulled away her binoculars and called to her forces.
"White Fang, we are on the move."
Sienna Khan had been having a... trying few months.
The daughter of Kali & Chieftain Belladonna vanishing without a trace, a prime outpost in Vale obliterated, a litany of minor fires she needed to put out across Anima. All capped off with one of her highest lieutenants, Adam Taurus, unleashing a horde of Grimm on civilians across the kingdom of Vale!
Part of her still regretted not following her first instinct to execute the man when he swaggered back into Fort Castle with his wet behind the ears Valian recruits. She regretted it more when he simply began petitioning her to destroy Mistrals capital!
Madness, madness and stupidity and she had no idea of how to make him see it, maybe he never had?
But then, before it could come to ahead, she had Grimm trouble, the forest beneath her mountainous fort were swarming with disorganized mobs of the monsters. Not unusual save for the sheer excess of the beasts and the variety. Something was calling them and given the actions of Adam's human allies, the tiger Faunus could not take any chances.
Isolating Adam she'd summoned some trusted and professional soldiers, several platoons of elite scouts and a strong lieutenant. She was intent on clearing out the Grimm and above all finding the source on her own terms, it would hardly hurt to remind all who still led the White Fang.
She'd equipped her black, white-lined, combat kilt and Kevlar vest and red cape. With Cerberus's Whip wrapped around her armored black wrist bands, and adorning herself in reinforced grey leggings, laden with hidden Dust Blades, Sienna led the charge.
Those weeks ago felt like near an eternity as Sienna led her troops and their volunteers in another bloody charge against the Grimm. Her roared commands a match for any baleful cry of the Grimm.
"Gunners lay down covering fire, Skirmishers guard the gunners, Honor Guard reinforce their archers and Commander Crim!" Her gaze snapped to the sky where a Faunus with eagle wings, close cropped hair and wild eyebrows flew with three other wing mates, all bearing great spears. "Ground that Sphinx!"
"Hail High Leader!"
With that, the battle was joined.
Tyrande had turned her attention to the leader of the pack, leaving the groundlings to her subordinates and Maiev.
'To the pit with subtly,' she decided, reaching out to the sky, spectral hands and voice growing beyond her mortal shell. "Oh goddess, I beg of thee, call upon the stars to cast down our foes!"
The goddess answered as she always did and from the sky blistering balls of burning silver light burst to life and rained down. Each with enough force to incinerate an armored elf and all fell by the hundreds.
But though she could see the Starfall slowing and distracting the beasts, it was not tearing through them as hoped. Despite their great size they flew through the sky with a terrible speed and deadly elegance; the greatest among them was far too nimble and quick witted to be an simple animal. Each blow that landed on its lesser kin she could feel, the burning of black fur and seared bone, but it was not enough.
Cries in the ancient song of war rang out as spells and blessed arrows flew, the roar of the beasts, even divided as they were like a force unto itself when-
Dozens of figures raced down from the hills, most were adorned in black leggings and boots, and were in either white or more ornate red vests. They brandished scimitar, black spears with red indent that glowed with elemental power and many more carried what looked akin to Dwarven rifles! They all also appeared strangely inhuman, horns and tails jutting from their bodies as if they were master druids.
The figure at the front was a blur, practically materializing before one of the beasts and landing a kick to its head with such force the air cracked. Its open skull fractured and though it built fire up in its maw the dark skinned woman merely grabbed its horn and violently yanked downward, hurling the giant over her shoulder and cratering it into the ground before twisting its head off.
'They are on our side, everything else can come later,' she thought, shouting, "Join hands with them and drive off the beasts!"
Turning her attention back to the skies, Tyrande bit back a curse. The greater beast could spit flames as well and even with her Starfall it was landing blows on the convoy. Smoke filled the air and its roared with a sort of vicious glee.
But even as she tried to focus her goddesses ire on the greatest threat, her hands straining against space itself as she pulled at the cosmic tapestry she was failing to land a blow!
Just as it seemed a star was about to strike, one of the lesser lions flung itself between the star and its master, their body incinerated in an instant.
'No fear of death or pain, but they will die for each other, a dreadful combination,' she thought as the monster began to rise higher, its screeching bellows echoing.
She did not understand the roar, but she could recognize its urgency. Tyrande's eagle-like eyes zeroed in on a silvery blur and she smirked as winged warriors weaved around the monsters' strike and loosed a spear that sang with ice and cold. The blow struck and in the skies the monster finally shuttered, a spasm ripped across its frame as the base of its wing froze and it began a violent surge downwards.
"I have you!"
She knew exactly where it was falling and Tyrande guided the flow of the heavens as a river led water to the sea, her firsts closing as hundreds of burning silver lights converged and crashed against the black beast.
One final roar escaped its maw and with it a burst of fire dwarfing any she'd seen that day, surging towards her.
'Oh goddess,' She intoned with reverence and slashed her arm through the air. A silvery owl's wing shone and dispersed the flames, leaving naught to wash over her but warm air.
"They are retreating!" Maiev proclaimed.
Tyrande turned to see indeed, the last few beasts surviving now fled into the woods in a chaotic sprawl. 'Cut off the head and the body will flounder,' she mused. The huntress in her pleased to see these new threats weakness. A small smirk lit up her face as a great boulder launched by an ancient struck true, crushing an injured beast.
"Tend to the wounded, Maiev, with me," She barked out, hopping off her mount, Ash'alah and rubbing the mighty sabers ears affectionately as she looked across the battlefield to see her newest focus.
Dark brown skin marked by black stripes and matching charcoal hair, the warrior had a chain wrapped around one arm and met Tyrande's silver eyes with piercing gold. 'They do not glow, but they share an intensity,' she thought, thinking to the golden-eyed elves she knew even as she forcefully shook off the comparison.
Instead, she turned her attention to the figure's head, namely the two dark tiger striped ears adorning them, though the shift in shades was subtle it was present. Unlike the golden hoop earrings that hung from all four of the warriors' ears.
'Such a strange creature, some mage's experiment perhaps?'
Just as Tyrande did with Maiev, the leader brought only one escort, the winged warrior who had landed the icy blow, spear having been reclaimed and resting comfortably in its holders. Their uniforms design was similar to the white garbed skirmishers but it hugged the body more tightly.
As those cool eyes drew across her frame Tyrande repressed an amused smirk, 'She's used to being the tallest in the room,' she realized.
Tyrande's grasp of common was functional if not elegant, "Greetings, Lordani?" Just then a familiar, divine voice whispered in her ear, 'Not born under this moon.'
The smaller, though by no means short given she towered over her companion, woman repressed a frown and answered in stilted common, "Foreign, from another place."
'Akin to the orcs then, what could his mean for the state of the world?' she wondered even as she offered the saber-ess her hands. There was a moment of contemplation before she reached out and Tyrande offered a prayer.
A cool tingling sensation ran through her skin and into the other figures making her almost jerk but back on instinct, but she held firm.
Then, Tyrande spoke.
"I am High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, leader of the Kal'dorei, and my ally, chief of the Wardens, Maiev Shadowsong."
There was a moment of surprise, but the woman rallied admirably, "I am Sienna Khan, High Leader of the White Fang, those who defend the Faunus, and this is my lieutenant, Sky Commander Krim."
"An honor to be sure, you have my forces gratitude for aiding us against those beasts," Tyrande's eyes locked onto Sienna, "They hail from the same 'place' as your people I take it?"
To her credit, Sienna showed no shock, merely nodding, "The Creatures of Grimm, they have tormented the world of Remnant since time immemorial. We know not their source or means of survival, merely that they seek to destroy all thinking beings and their works." She motioned to where the greater beast had fallen, "The elders among them can commander their lesser kin, but without such guidance they are usually a rabble."
'Even the lone ones were dangerous,' Tyrande mused.
The Faunus arched a sharp eyebrow and said, "Might I ask what brings your people to this land? None amongst the natives we have met seem to know you from spirits in the trees."
"How fitting given it is within the trees we dwell," Tyrande mused.
Maiev stepped closer, "We could ask your people the same question, High Leader. We travelled here in ships to hunt a demon, but what of you and your, White Fang?"
Tyrande loathed the reminder of their purpose and welcomed Sienna's explanation as a distraction.
"Something has been disrupting the behavior of Grimm in my territories. I went to investigate and found the beasts streaming through a dark rift in the world."
"You followed it?" Tyrande damn near scoffed.
Sienna's frown was bitter, "There is a known bandit with a similar... Power who operates outside my territory, I thought it her doing, that she was unleashing Grimm on settlements." Shaking her head the Faunus turned back to her soldiers, "We pursued and found ourselves under an alien sky. A man in shadowy robes with a golden four-point helm seemed shocked to see us but was spooked and fled before we could speak."
"And now you're stranded here," Tyrande said mournfully, to be away from Ashenvale was already a pain, to be a world away... She shook her head, "I assume you seek the man who summoned you?"
Sienna nodded, "Indeed, we must return soon, if nothing else, it is my duty to get my soldiers home." She rolled her shoulders and motioned to the motley gathering of people behind her, many of whom looked to be native, be they human, elf or even Gnoll! "Though as you can see we have picked up some stragglers, survivors from settlements fallen to this 'Scourge' and the Grimm."
Maiev's stern tone rose again, "Of course it would be a mage, but why summon these accursed Grimm? They hardly seem tamable."
The winged warrior scoffed, "Trust us madam, they cannot be."
Sienna merely cast a glance over her shoulder, "Grimm seek to kill all thinking beings, but they are drawn to those who are experiencing rage, or grief or terror."
The pieces fell into place with startling clarity, "This sorcerer, he summons the Grimm to fight the Scourge?"
"All we have seen and heard has it ring true," Sienna said, "But he does not understand the Grimm. Several Alpha have come through his rifts and unlike their lesser kin, they know how to wait in ambush, to strategize, even lying in wait for years. They will not simply be a weapon, though," She scoffed, "I can hardly fault his idea."
"It's madness, he endangers the world," Maiev seethed, "Not just from these Grim, but the very magic itself!"
"I'm no sorcerer, but I don't doubt this would affect my home as well, what is he doing to our planets?"
Tyrande quickly took over, "To use magic like this, that reaches beyond the skein of the material realm, to reach across such vast distances, the sorcerer does damage to the very fabric of the universe. If it is not stopped soon enough, or the rifts begin to compound, they may grow permanent, or allow other... Unseemly forces access, and I confess, that is a far cry from the worst case scenario where they destabilize and devour the world."
There was a moment of horrified staring as Tyrande had expected, but Sienna rallied quickly, folding her arms, "Then we need to find him and put a stop to this before it grows further out of hand!"
"Tyrande! We cannot merely ignore Illidan, with the Eye of Sargeras he could do a thousand-fold damage this petty sorcerer does in a fraction of the time!" Maiev exclaimed with a scowl.
She was right and yet... "Sienna Khan, it seems we will likely engage these Grimm again and your people are clearly experienced in fighting them. Would you care to form an accord?"
The Faunus smirked, flashing shining white fangs that would do even a Druid proud, "You want our aid in hunting this demon of yours and in return you help us return home?"
Tyrande crossed a hand over her heart, "I swear on my honor as High Priestess, we shall return your people home and save both our worlds from this sorcerer."
Sienna sucked in a low breath but nodded, "Very well, I will need time to rally my followers. My own soldiers can move easily enough and these 'Alliance' soldiers and Gnoll Warriors we found can do so well enough. But we have civilians from the lost village of Deadhollow with us." She motioned Southward, "We've been camping in Gaval Moch, a decrepit castle by the river."
"We were already expecting to march South," Tyrande mused, "Though with these Grimm lurking about, I'll want someone sent to escort Malfurion. He is powerful, but they are still unknown to him."
Krim flared their wings, "One of my Wing Mates could play the role, if you have someone show them the way."
Tyrande nodded, "Very well, let us make ready and begin marching South with haste."
Even as she said it, Tyrande could not escape the sensation she was running against an hour glass already half empty.
Haven Academy was not as expansive as its counterpart in Beacon but it was certainly more regal. Lush gardens bloomed through the white stone courtyard, while dozens of tall buildings rose around them marking by pure white stucco and dark, ridged tiles, with gold ornamentation everywhere.
Team 'RNJR' strode through the empty courtyard, taking in the sight as a chill wind washed over them.
Ruby self-consciously checked her beloved Crescent Rose, the high impact dual action sniper-rifle Scythe was fastened safely to her back, but just feeling its weight made her feel more confident.
"So," she said slowly, glancing at Ren, "Get any more bad vibes?"
The Mistrali-born martial artist frowned,
"Not since yesterday, though something... Something still feels wrong to me, I just can't place it."
"Maybe it's how creepy empty places are," Nora groused, rms swinging out wide as she howled, "Where is everyone!?"
"Uuh Nora," Jaune murmured, coughing into his armored hand, "Its term break."
Ruby frowned, "There should still be some people, Beacon was never this empty..." Her words trailed off as everyone's tone dipped at the mention of their former home. Forcing cheer into her voice, Ruby said, "Well that's just another thing to ask the headmaster when we speak to him, come on guys, race you to his office!"
She took off running, Nora following loudly if not quickly behind while Jaune and Ren pulled up the rear. With that little distraction in play, they reached his hall in mere moments and Ruby knocked loudly on the ornate oaken doors.
"Please, come in," Echoed a tired, but grandfatherly voice.
Pushing open the doors Ruby was greeted to the sight of a large, ovular office, book shelves and comfortable looking lounge running along the edges. Sunlight spilling out across the room from the back wall and a somewhat haphazardly organized desk. Sitting behind it was a grey haired man with lightly tanned skin, a well-trimmed beard and lion tail.
He smiled fondly, "You four must be the student team who wished to speak with me, a Miss Rose, Arc, Ren and Valkyrie correct?"
"Yes sir, that's us, thank you for seeing us," Ruby said politely.
Resting his hands on his desk, the man nodded, "No trouble at all, now then, what can I do for you all today?"
Swallowing Ruby began her pre-prepared speech, "Well sir, we were hoping you had any information on Cinder Fall, Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai," That last one still stung especially hard.
Even before she'd finished speaking she could see the man's facing falling.
"I had hoped it would not be about them," he flicked some of the paper on his desk. "I can imagine why you're asking of course and if you made it here on foot, you're certainly skilled. But these are dangerous people and in truth, there's not much I can even tell you."
Jaune stepped forward fire on his tongue, "But they came to Beacon as Haven students!"
Lionheart bore it with calm, "And their papers, their names, their backgrounds were all forgeries. Incredibly well-made forgeries too, no one even noticed until we started plucking at threads we couldn't even see." He rummaged around in his desk and reveal a handful of papers, "This is all we have on them I'm sorry to say."
It was barely three pages and it looked double spaced.
Jaune snatched it up quickly, frantically reading as Nora & Ren crowded around it, Ruby caught a snippet, "His dad was an assassin?" But turned her attention to the headmaster.
"Thank you for that, if it's OK, we'd like to offer our help with the search, well, I mean we're already doing it on our own but maybe we can help in a more official way?"
Lionheart eyed her before smiling, "You're Ruby Rose aren't you? The Huntress who led the team that held the line during the Breach?" At her nod her chuckled fondly, "Well, I can see why Ozpin would trust you with that mission if you made it out here."
"Well it wasn't just me, my team was there, and JNPR, and Doctor Oobleck and so many others helped too!"
"Nevertheless, it's clear you've seen your fair share of hardships. As for the investigation, well I'm sad to say its stalled," He gestured around his office, "You might have noticed that we are not exactly fully staffed right now."
Nora huffed, "Yeah we saw that, is it really just you here alone?"
Lionheart shrugged, "There's some custodial staff? But otherwise, yes." He tapped his desk and a holo map was project showing the continent of Anima and dozens of alerts.
"Of all the four kingdoms, Mistral has by far the largest territorial claims and the largest population. Ever since the Fall of Beacon we've been getting a constant string of emergency alerts, so much so I even had to send out the professors. It's a never-ending battle just to keep the kingdoms head above water and things are only going to get worse."
"Are you expecting an attack sir?" Ruby asked, already priming herself for combat.
"Not... Quite," Lionheart said, glancing away from them, "You see, three days ago word got out that the leader of the White Fang, Sienna Khan is dead. Allegedly murdered by a Mistrali Huntsmen."
Jaune scoffed, "And?"
"While I obviously do not approve of the White Fang's methods what you need to understand is the public perception of them among most Faunus and especially in the South is that Beacon was a radical splinter faction. "
"But why would they think that?" Ren intoned.
"Simple really," the headmaster sighed, "The White Fang did not become popular solely by bombing trains and raiding the SDC. They also provided protection for many Faunus businesses from Mistral's various criminals elements. They have escorted caravans of merchants through the wilderness and protected Faunus settlements."
"But," Jaune muttered, "What about Hunters?"
Lionheart simply shrugged, "Some do their duty, others do so at higher rates, some drag their feet and, well you get the idea. The council certainly has little interest in helping either, I can barely get them to speak to me on a good day. Put simply, many people are in mourning and many more are gleeful and intent on making their misery worse. Just another problem upon an ever-mounting pile I'm afraid."
Ruby bit her tongue but stepped up, "Sir, how can we help?" Then she stopped and rubbed the back of her head, "I mean, I know we aren't official or anything but..."
Nora cut in, "It sounds like you could use all the help you could get."
Lionheart's expression turned wane as he began to tap a pen on the desk, "I do have something, it may well be tied to what you came here for as well." At that Jaune perked up. "Tell me in your travels have you noticed any odd Grimm behavior?"
Ren spoke up, "Yes, in the town of Oniyuri. They were struck by bandits and then Grimm, but apparently the number of Grim was minuscule compared to what they thought they should have faced."
Tapping her chin, Ruby added, "Also, when I was scouting a few weeks back, I remember seeing like, a huge pack of Grimm just come to a screeching halt while running and just sort of...wander off?"
Lionheart nodded with enthusiasm, "Exactly the sort of thing we've been getting reports of for several weeks now. We can't explain it, no disasters luring them in, no ancient Grimm, barely even any settlements caught up in the stamped. I had a team investigating the phenomena and we narrowed the source down to somewhere in the South-East, deep in the Hinoki forest."
Jaune gulped, "Did the team not come back?"
Lionheart waved him off, "They did, but the council felt their skills could be better used elsewhere because, well..." He stammered as if looking for a diplomatic way to phrase the next part.
Nora beat him to it, "They figured if it was someone else's problem it didn't matter, right?"
Lionheart sunk into his chair and sighed, "Indeed, but as you yourselves have seen, people can utilize Grimm, and there are...items in this world that hold terrible power. I likely should not be telling you this, but the pedigree of the Rose family is above reproach and you've all shown valor by coming here."
Ruby felt a little stunned as her friends' eyes turned to her, she knew at least in part what the headmaster was referring to. Her silver eyes, her mother's ties to some secret duties Ozpin and her uncle Qrow were involved in but to know it stretched this far felt... Heavy.
Standing up straighter she said, "Sir, we'd be happy to help, what do you need us to do?"
Lionheart smiled, "You're very kind and as to the mission," He motioned to the map and draw a wide line around an eastern section of the Southern forest. "I want you all to travel down to this region and investigate the area, look for anything strange be it flashes of light, odd structures, unfamiliar technology or suspicious characters. Keep your distance from the Grimm as best you can and simply try to find the source of all this."
He lowered the screen and stared at them grimly, "When you do, investigate only so far as you feel is safe and then return. Once we have proof of potential danger, I can have a larger team assigned to the mission." Easing down into his chair he smiled, "I can also give you all a line of credit for mission gear, including hotels and anything else you might deem 'necessary'."
Ruby wasn't sure she liked the way Nora was smirking at that 'necessary', but then she could already see a multitude of Dust cartridges flowing through her mind so who was she to judge.
Offering a respectful bow, Ruby smiles, "We'll get right on that, thank you for trusting us headmaster Lionheart!"
She didn't see his eyes dim as they left, his words trailing after her "No, thank you miss Rose," They sounded pained.
Leo sank into his chair with an exhausted sigh, only to shoot right back out of it at the sound of several foot falls.
"My, my, a wonder what a bit of preparation can do for a performance, don't you think, Tyrian?" Dr watts strode into the office, his sharp brown and yellow suit ruffled but it only added to the mans overconfident swagger.
At his side was a man in form fitting khaki combat clothes and a brown coat, long brown hair in a braid and a subtly manic look in his eyes as he eyed the door. "Oh, definitely doctor, it seems a true thespian sits before us."
But it's what was between them that truly made his heart quake.
Like a bastardized Jellyfish the Seer floated before him, blood red tendrils tipped with white bone dangling down from its small, black spherical body that shimmered like a smoky crystal ball. The sharp, bone-like plates and spikes only added to the menace, but in truth it was the visage within that chilled his soul.
My queen," He stammered, rising and offering a clumsy bow to the pale-faced, red-eyed mistress of the Grimm, her elegant yet cruel face framed by ornately decorated bone white hair.
"Leo," She said, voice like cracking ice.
He was grateful, so grateful when Watts spoke, tapping the Grimm with a fearless sort of arrogance, "Such a fascinating creation, I would love to know how it works."
Tyrian scowled at the doctor before bowing to Salem, "Your grace, what would you have me do now that the children are on the hunt?"
"For now, leave them to their investigation, follow them with a Seer at a distance and observe their findings and report back to me. If it seems we might lose the Rose girl take her, but otherwise we can remove them from the board at our leisure."
Her expression turned subtly more dower, "Right now, my interest lies in who is disrupting the Grimm. This is not our primary concern however, that remains the Relic of Knowledge beneath your feet, but it would be remiss for us to ignore something like this."
Tyrian bowed grandly and theatrically, "I shall make ready at once, my goddess."
Salem nodded before turning her attention to the doctor, "Arthur, for now you will remain here and support Tyrian and Leo's efforts from afar, but be ready to act should something of note be discovered."
Watts rested a hand over his chest and smiled, "That shouldn't be too difficult ma'am."
"Ye- Yes ma'am!"
A tendrils lashed out and trailed its bladed tip along his neck.
"Keep up the fine work."
And with that, the Seer drifted away, Watts only lingering long enough to enjoy the sight of Leo crumpling back into his seat.
Notes:Thanks to @Iscariotpaladin for editing and offering feedback, your assistance is a huge part of what made this story!
This is an idea I've been toying with in one form or another for ages, and when I finally hit on a mechanic I just had to start writing, 73 thousand words later and here we are, I hope you enjoy this story!