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Private Scars and Hearts on Our Sleeves

Discussion in 'Dread Wastes' started by Qrow Branwen, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Qrow Branwen

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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~
    ~October 11th Y108~

    For almost his entire life, Qrow's job had been to gather, protect, and distribute information. Even before he'd aligned with Ozpin, he'd been the primary scout for the bandit tribe. Though of course, it all started as an excuse to make him leave so accidents wouldn't befall the raids or campsite. As he'd learned, information truly was power and it was a careful game to earn it. As a lifelong player, Qrow knew how to navigate both the physical layout of the land and the mental mazes of the people who inhabited it, and he put that knowledge into action in The Dread Wastes. Even though Ozpin was long gone and there was no ultimate force of darkness threatening to overtake the world, he'd found other ways to make his skills useful and found others to attach his loyalty to. Good-intentioned organizations such as The Mages' Guild, The Schola and Merlin Ambrosius which so reminded him of Beacon Academy and Oz, and then his close friends such as Toby and Crowley.

    Qrow had plenty to live for and fight for in Pandora. Even with his niece gone and even with the unpredictable and hellish nature of the Box, the huntsman daily remained grateful for a second chance at this life. But there was little for a huntsman to do in the Dread Wastes. Rather, there was little one could do without risking being condemned as a criminal themself. Instead of focusing on crime-fighting in the cutthroat region, Qrow had built up a small clientele for a traveling weapon repair and maintenance business, using specialized tools that he carried on his leather workbelt and the knowledge he'd mastered over a lifetime of crafting.

    With an array of engineering utensils on his waist and a large red poncho draped across his upper torso and shoulders, there was little of his classic white jacket that remained visible, save for the thin coattails hanging down below his tattered red cape, which blended flawlessly into the fabric of his poncho. The same fabric wound around his neck and lower face in a scarved mask protecting his lungs from the dust-carried wind, but his hair was left exposed and spiked upright like a black torch flame in the wind. Grey streaks in his hairline and on his temples were speckled with rust-colored sand, yet his ruby colored eyes were as bright and sharp as ever.

    Yang's red gem-charmed necklace was hiding in his breast pocket beside his flask, both metals warmed by not only the hot sun but also his own body heat, lying close to his heart. The shade provided by the canopy of his merchant stand covered him, his work table, and his large tattooed customer in a layer of slight darkness as Qrow, known in the region as Corvus, examined and tweaked the levers of a long rifle.
    Corvus was moderately known as a no-nonsense, blunt, and honest weapon smith who was good on his word, which so few people were in The Wastes.

    Making himself out to be someone trustworthy, even to the criminals, had its perks. He had already saved many lives after overhearing of a few raids in his time being a confidant for certain gangs. Acting as a friend to bad people was not difficult for him to do, though there was a sense of immoral guilt behind associating with and helping them with their weaponry. But they were already sentenced. The Dread Wastes were just one large prison playground, and Qrow had no beef with most of the crooks here. They were serving their time, and it was a lifetime. The Undertaker enforced his laws well enough that Qrow often didn't have to. He didn't do much huntsman work here. It was dangerous if a misunderstanding happened between him and the guards. It was no secret that they didn't take well to vigilantism.

    So Corvus repaired the brass on the firearm without comment on his client's offensive and derogatory tattoos, tightening the small bolts and then cocking it while aiming at the ground to test the fluidity of its inner mechanisms. "She's all set." The fair price was paid and the criminal client departed peacefully with his weapon, loading it openly as he made his way to another stand on the hunt for drugs.

    Setting his tools down, Corvus moved to grab another set, but bounced his gaze in a double take as he saw a woman with voluminous blonde hair in the thin crowd. Shock, hope, and fear seized him as he stood frozen at the sight of her. And her missing arm. Yang. She was a different Yang than the one he'd last known in Pandora. Slightly older, clad in a new jacket, longer hair. Missing the arm that Adam took from her at the Fall of Beacon.

    But it
    was her, and he didn't hesitate for more than a moment before tugging his cloth mask down from his face and calling softly with a surprised eagerness, "Yang?" There was a layer of caution in his rasped tone, for he didn't have the best track record lately with meeting familiar faces and having the encounter go well. But seeing her, alive, healthy, not bedridden with depression, after more than a month searching for her and wishing that she was well-- it all was too much to ignore.

    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
    #1 Qrow Branwen, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  2. Yang Xiao Long

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    The people out here reminded Yang a lot of the Branwen tribe. She'd had to bust a few heads to show she wasn't a person to be messed with, and she'd quickly learned to keep the relic wrapped up and out of sight. The golden lamp proved too much of a temptation for the ruffians and raiders that made the Wastes their home. Apparently word traveled, because after the third group she'd left groaning in the dust the robbery attempts had stopped. Almost like there was some kind of organization to the general chaos of the Wastes. Like maybe there was someone behind the scenes that kept the thieves and murderers in line.

    Yeah, it was definitely familiar. And not in a good way.

    She'd given up looking for the door back into Haven Academy when she'd realized she was literally a world away from home. It wasn't that Yang had given up on getting back entirely, just that she knew she'd need to find a different way. She had to get back to Ruby. And the quicker she could hand this relic off to someone better equipped to protect it, the better. Not that Yang doubted her own capabilities, but she'd come to learn a few difficult lessons in the past several months and her own fallibility was one of them.

    The absence of her right arm was a constant reminder of that particular lesson.

    By the time the young Huntress found Trader's Haven, she was covered in a fine layer of dust, her cheeks streaked with dirt and grime. Water wasn't exactly plentiful along this stretch of Anarchy Road, and what she'd been able to find had gone toward keeping her hydrated. She suspected she probably didn't smell all that great but... well, no one in this place really did, so she fit right in. As Yang walked among the many tents and stalls she felt yet another painful flashback to Raven's tribe. Just about everyone here openly wore weapons, and most of the people all had that same hardened, dangerous look about them. She squarely met every gaze that turned her way and walked with her head held high, shoulders back. Yang gave no indication of the fine undercurrent of anxiety that buzzed through her veins. She wasn't afraid, exactly. It was just that bad things had a tendency to happen, lately, and if something bad was going to happen... well, this place would be it, right?

    Wrong.

    Yang?

    She halted mid-stride, violet eyes widening as she turned slowly to the source of that familiar, raspy voice. She'd walked right past him! Hadn't even recognized him under that red hooded shawl, but now that she really looked there was no mistaking the spiky hair and tall, lanky form. Slowly her shock morphed into grin of relief and joy that eventually settled into a smirk as she turned to face him and tilted her head. The relic was slung over her shoulder in the makeshift bag she'd made out of bits of cloth. It looked for all the world like a bunch of dirty clothes rolled up into a ball and slung over her shoulder with a couple of sleeves she'd tied together (no small feat with one hand).

    "Well, it's about time you showed up!" she exclaimed, then frowned with confusion when she noticed that Qrow seemed to be standing at a stall filled with tools and weapons like he owned it. Her eyes followed a big, tattooed thug as he walked by loading a weapon that he'd just taken from Qrow. "So uh... what's all this?" she asked as she turned her gaze back to him and approached. She felt like she was super out of the loop right now. Since when did Qrow sell weapons to big, scary looking dudes? Her eyes flicked around in search of the other familiar faces she expected to see; Jaune, Ren, Weiss, Nora. Ruby. But of course... This wasn't Remnant. Her face fell slightly at that thought.

    This might not even be the Qrow she'd left.
     
    #2 Yang Xiao Long, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  3. Qrow Branwen

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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    As Yang locked gazes with him, Qrow found himself mirroring her smile and exhaling more relief and joy in his breath than he thought was possible. "Hey, firecracker." The last time he'd greeted her in Pandora, she'd been emotional, panicked, afraid. All of which were completely justified, but seeing her so strong this time around--even if she wasn't all in one piece-- it made his heart swell. Every pain within him healed with the light of her smile and suddenly the marketplace didn't seem like such a dangerous or unwelcome place to be.


    She did not look lost, nor in need of any help. Of course, anyone who did look that way in this place drastically stood out and had targets placed on their back, so if she was faking it, she was doing a damn good job and he was proud of her for that. But he didn't doubt that she really did have no fear or uncertainty. She'd always been a tough and respectable young woman, able to conquer anything. Yang had walked through that crowd with a strength and purpose in her stride. Indeed, a very similar one to her mother's, though not as cold. Yang had always been warm-hearted in her strength, like her father.

    She gazed over his tent, and he felt a slight embarrassment at the situation he'd been caught in, knowing it was out of his character, dealing arms to criminals. At least, it was out of the character that the kids had grown up believing him to have. "Uh, this.... is my cover." He tried to nip her confusion (or worse, disappointment) in the bud, answering as if he was playing a spy game while waving her over and then moving to unclip a flap of the canopy, letting it drape down to give them some kind of a wall for privacy. It wasn't a lie. He was undercover. It just wasn't as temporary or as frivolous as the term implied it to be. "Come here, kiddo. How are you?" He opened one arm to offer her a tight but short-lived side hug, turning his attention to her empty sleeve. "How's your arm?"

    Though he'd known her for the entire duration of her life, there was a slight gap in their comfortability with one another that was difficult to ignore, and they both knew that gap was caused by a lack of information. But as important as that gap was to fill, what was more important was if she was alright, no matter where she was from, what she'd done, what she knew. His familial love for her would win over all of those unknowns.

    Only after knowing she was alright, would he address the elephant in the room. Or tent. "This ain't exactly a prime vacation spot. How long have you been here?"

    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  4. Yang Xiao Long

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    For the most part Raven Branwen was everything that Yang didn't want to be, her life and her choices a shining example of what not to do. But that didn't mean that Raven wasn't wise in her own way.

    Question everything. In some ways Yang had taken that to heart. It wasn't that she trusted her uncle or Ozpin any less. It was more that... well, she knew they were human, that they weren't always honest, that sometimes they didn't make the best choices even when they were trying to do the right thing.

    She couldn't help but think that maybe this wasn't as simple as Uncle Qrow made it out to be. It wasn't a thought that formed with any kind of judgement or disappointment, just an observation that she tucked away for the moment because he was closing the flap of the tent and then turning to hug her. Yang returned the gesture with genuine warmth, though she had to awkwardly shift the relic around to make room for a hug. Her eyes flashed with amusement at his question.

    "I wouldn't know, I haven't seen it in a few months," she joked in reply, a quiet giggle following her words. "It's been a couple weeks. I thought some places in Remnant were bad but this place has some serious issues. I guess that's right in the name, though." She lifted her shoulder in a shrug that said what can ya do?

    Without waiting for more questions, Yang slipped the relic off her shoulder and tossed it to Qrow. She thought better of the motion at the last moment and caught the shoulder strap in her fingers so that the relic wouldn't hit the ground if he missed. Not that she doubted his reflexes and she didn't think the relic was too fragile, but better safe than sorry!

    "You have no idea how stressful it's been carrying that thing around. What's it do, anyway?" He'd have to unwrap it to see what it was, and his reaction would tell her a lot about how much he remembered from their world.

     
    #4 Yang Xiao Long, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  5. Qrow Branwen

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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    Qrow smiled down in her blonde locks as he hugged her, keeping it brief but applying a tightness that proved he really did value seeing her again, and that he not only hadn't seen her in a while but... maybe never expected to see her again.

    But it was over quickly and he was back to his cocky carefree self, laughing with heart at her joke about her arm. Not only was the answer genuinely humorous, but it also told him more about what time period she came from, and it was indeed similar to what he recalled from Remnant. The fall of Beacon and the loss of her arm happened a few months ago. "Yeah, makes Vacuo look like a walk in the park, doesn't it?" He agreed with her description by muttering. Leaning against his workbench, he unlatched his toolbelt and laid it on the surface.

    He didn't expect her to take off the bag and toss it at him, but he flinched to quickly catch it in front of himself with open palms, not knowing what lie hidden in it nor how much it'd weigh. One of his hands caught the base of the strap in case the bulk of it slipped from his other hand, but no such fumble happened and his semblance remained dormant for now.

    He gave her a curious look as she spoke about the mysterious treasure, but turned his attention down as he opened the bag and moved aside the wrappings. It felt like a lantern or globe, and once it was unveiled in his lap, he widened his eyes and drew in a silent breath.

    It was the Relic of Knowledge from Haven Academy. The Relic of Knowledge that Leo was assigned to guard and that Salem's group was hunting down. Snapping his bewildered gave back up to her, he asked without a hint of any playfulness nor emotion besides extreme caution, "How did you get this?" He wasn't going to say what it was, in case she didn't know.

    While he did wholeheartedly trust her good intentions, and he did not see her as a child playing with things she shouldn't be-- he'd also spent decades ensuring that no one laid their hands on this Relic, and to see it show up as if it was mere pirate booty was shocking and alarming. Beyond that, the only way for a Relic to be retreived was by a Maiden, and he now saw her as possibly the Spring Maiden they'd been searching for. But how? And how much did she know? He'd already had to tell Ruby and the others more than he wished to tell around that campfire, but he would kill Taiyang if he'd told her anything.

    All of this only showed that she was from the future in his timeline, and that scared him most of all. Questions of what had happened at Haven, if they were able to find Cinder and prevent her from stealing it, and who hadn't made it through the experience all swarmed his mind, but he kept his head level. Carefully, as if knowing that the answer could very well be something he didn't want to hear, he asked, "...What happened?"

    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  6. Yang Xiao Long

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    The shift in her uncle's demeanor wasn't lost on her. The questions that followed didn't necessarily say much about what he remembered, but his tone did. She reached up to push her thick hair out of her face, feeling suddenly tired and grimy. And exhausted at the thought of going over everything that had happened with her mother. In some ways she felt tired beyond her years. Yang knew she was still pretty much a kid, even if her eighteenth had come and gone, but she didn't feel like one. Not after everything she'd been through.

    "Mom let me take it once she realized having it would make her even more of a target." Her eyes shifted away from Qrow's face as she turned away, ostensibly to get a good look around the tent now that they'd greeted each other. There was a faint echo of bitterness in her tone because, as Yang had learned, Raven Branwen was a coward. The worst kind of coward, in fact. The kind that would shove other people - even her own daughter - between her and Salem.

    After a beat, Yang sighed and turned back, her violet eyes finding their way back to Qrow's face. Yang had all but idolized her uncle for most of her childhood. He'd been this heroic, if slightly mysterious, figure. She didn't see him that way now, but it wasn't a bad thing. Heroes, as she'd come to learn, were just people with an impossible weight on their shoulders. People doing the best they could with what they had. He'd gone to Beacon to learn to kill Hunters and Huntresses only to become one of the best, and not just because of his fighting skill. Qrow was a hero, but he was a person, first.

    "A lot happened," she went on. She got a little dizzy sometimes when she thought about everything she'd been through since her first day at Beacon. "What's the last thing you remember?"

     
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  7. Qrow Branwen

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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    Qrow narrowed his eyes as Raven was brought into the picture, and he grew more nervous and disappointed. He'd learned through his scouting that Raven had the Spring Maiden, but he never thought that she'd use her to go fetch the relic herself, and it sounded like that was what happened. Spring had been with the tribe for a decade, hidden and protected from Salem for all that time. He supposed he could somewhat thank his sister for that. It seemed that after the fall of Beacon, Raven had become scared enough to use the asset she had and take matters into her own hands when it came to 'protecting' (or more appropriately, controlling) the relic, no doubt believing that none of Ozpin's group could be trusted with the task any longer.

    He glared down at the lantern after Yang broke eye contact with him, recalling his last conversation with his sister at the inn. If Raven would just join forces with them again, she could help them protect the relics from Salem. Being split up like this was only helping the Grimm witch, and it would have put a large target on the tribe leader's back to have both the maiden and the relic. Giving the lantern to Yang was placing that target on the girl's back. The fact that Raven was willing to play hot potato with a ticking bomb and toss it over to her own daughter made him angry. Especially since she'd been the one to light the explosive to begin with.

    Qrow had thought that Raven was better than that. But he quelled his disdain for his sister, knowing he didn't have all the information, though he still had little faith in her intentions. The huntsman was hesitant about telling Yang what he last remembered. He didn't enjoy being the one who was in the dark. It was a first, especially when compared to the kids' knowledge. He also didn't know how far in the future she was from, and he was nervous to know. It revealed so much that was out of his control, and he didn't have much faith in himself either.

    "You were at home." He began, wrapping the lantern back up tightly so he wouldn't have to look at it and wonder, or feel responsible for the journey it'd taken away from its place of security. It was an omen that he had failed. "I was following Ruby and her friends, and joined up with them after one of Salem's people attacked." Yang didn't need to know the details about Tyrian or Qrow's near-death experience with his poison. "We made it to Mystral and spoke with Haven's headmaster, Professor Lionheart." It wasn't a very uplifting conversation, and Qrow suspected that Leo's carelessness with his duty was also at fault for the fact that the relic was here now. "Then I found Oscar and brought him back to the house we rented."

    And then he'd passed out because he was completely wasted, only to wake up in the Box. His niece didn't need to know that either. "That's the last thing I remember." Indeed, he was trying to be as vague as possible in this discussion, speaking only of the bare necessities. He didn't know how much she knew, and the information pertinent to the situation had been top secret for centuries. But did any of it really matter now, in another world?

    Sighing, he set the lantern, which was now wrapped up once more, on the table beside him. "I've been in Pandora for a year, Yang." All of these concerns that had resurfaced with her return had been concerns he'd been free from for so long. The weight of Remnant's fate was not one he had missed, but he felt it's ghost settle on his shoulders again. It felt as if someone else had stolen if from him, and he didn't trust that person. He'd encountered a copy of himself in Pandora before, and that was all he could think about when imagining what else had happened in Remnant after he'd left. Qrow could only hope that he would have made better decisions than the impostor who had taken over that weight. But there was nothing he could do about it.

    He brought his gaze back to her, a fresh layer of tiredness coating it. "Care to fill me in on what happened after all that?"


    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
    #7 Qrow Branwen, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  8. Yang Xiao Long

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    As Qrow spoke, Yang found a table to lean back against. He didn't remember... Anything from Haven Academy. He didn't know that Leo had betrayed Ozpin - had been betraying him for... years, it had sounded like. She didn't fail to notice how much he left out, but Yang was coming to realize that the adults had left them in the dark about a lot of things. Things that could have saved them some grief if they'd been prepared, if they'd known what they were up against.

    Question everything.

    She was silent for a few moments after Qrow finishing speaking, looking down to tug at a bit of thread that was fraying from her coat. She could relate to the weariness she heard in Qrow's voice. She was tired, too. Tired of fighting, of losing people she cared about. Tired of being treated with kid gloves when she'd stopped being a kid since the Vytal Festival. Since she'd lost her arm. Since they'd lost Pyrrha.

    "I'm going to tell you everything," she finally said, her eyes lifting to meet Qrow's again. "Because I trust you, even though there's a lot you never told me and there's a lot you're not saying now. Because secrets just bring pain, Uncle Qrow." Her expression was earnest, open. She just... wanted him to understand that he didn't have to keep things from her. That a lot of people had kept a lot of things from her and team RWBY and they'd suffered for it. How could they go up against an enemy they didn't understand? How could they protect themselves or other people if they didn't know exactly what they were supposed to be fighting?

    If Yang had known the truth about her mother from the start... Okay, she'd have still gone looking for Raven. But she could have had closure much earlier in her life if she'd understood what her mother was.

    "You're not going to like any of it-" she started, and then moved into the tale of what had happened since Qrow found Oscar. True to her word, Yang didn't leave anything out. She told him how Raven sent her and Weiss to Mystral. She told him about the ambush and Leo's part in it. The battle with Mercury, Emerald, Hazel, Raven, and Vernal. How they'd thought that Vernal was the Spring Maiden but Yang discovered that it was her mother all this time.

    "She... she killed the Spring Maiden," Yang said, her left hand curling into a tight fist on the table. "She gained her trust, got close to her, and then she murdered her. In cold blood. She didn't even try to deny it." It was in that moment that Yang had seen Raven for what she truly was. Selfish, a coward. Concerned only with her own survival no matter who she hurt in the meantime. Yang let out a shaky breath and took a moment to swipe the wetness from her eyes before continuing.

    She finished her tale with how she'd convinced Raven to let Yang take the relic, how she'd appealed to her mother's sense of self-preservation. "That's when I ended up here. In the middle of a desert fighting sandworms with a giant, talking beetle." A faint smirk found its way to her lips then as she remembered how she'd initially thought Quirrel was a Grimm only to realize he was... something else.

    She shifted her weight and leveled her gaze on her uncle, frowning. Now that she had finished her story she could circle back around to something that had been bugging her through it all. "A whole year? Does that mean there's no way back?" Did that mean she might never see her sister again? Or Weiss or... Blake?

     
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  9. Qrow Branwen

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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    He could tell that she was tired too, but beyond that, she was hesitant, and it caused him a little concern. He listened to her promise and her contingencies with an innocently accused look. The fact that she knew there was a lot he'd never told her was enough for him to know that a substantial amount of things had been revealed to her. His secrecy had disappointed her, and he felt bad for that, but he was not regretful.

    Knowledge also brought pain. He knew that an overwhelming amount of knowledge had been the main catalyst of Raven's betrayal. Knowledge caused fear, and that was also why the truth of the Relics, Maidens, and even the source of the Grimm had been left to a handful of trusted people for ages. If everyone knew how fragile the balance was and how great the darkness was that they were up against, the world would already be lost, for fear bred and strengthened the Grimm.

    Ozpin had told them that these wouldn't be comfortable secrets to bear. Qrow and the rest of their family knew that they'd have to keep much hidden from their children, and they'd accepted that. They'd done their best to shield them from too much knowledge. Maybe one day Yang and Ruby would understand that they'd lied only to protect them, and that their intentions had been good.

    But Qrow had always known that one day the girls would figure it all out, and known that day would be difficult, and they'd feel hurt. Apparently, that day had happened.

    Raven had learned enough knowledge that she became scared, and ran. He didn't want Yang or even Ruby to follow suit. Indeed, many times he'd nearly been driven that far as well, overwhelmed and afraid. He'd come pretty close. But he knew the crisis that Remnant was facing wasn't one that could be escaped. They had to fight, or they'd all lose. Unlike his sister, he cared about his family enough not to run away, instead staying and fighting for them. That was what heroes did, and he'd decided to be a hero a long time ago.

    But here, things were different. Here, they had escaped Salem. Even though the end of the world did happen, here, Pandora had recovered in its own strange and complicated way. It caused a mess of emotions to sort out, but in a way, he was far less afraid of the apocalypse, and even of death. Reincarnation existed in some form or other no matter where one found themselves, and life would always go on, one way or another. Somehow, that eased his worries about Remnant and those he loved who were still stuck there.

    Qrow's calm poker face cracked as she caught him up with what he'd missed in Mystral. With each point in her story, he tightened his expression and his fists, until the table's edge behind him warped slightly under his grip. He wanted to snap it in two, but he remained still and closed his eyes, keeping his anger at his sister and Leo brewing deep within.

    As Yang's voice began waver with emotion, explaining how Raven had become the Spring Maiden, Qrow pushed off from the table and moved away, cursing under his breath and running his hands through his hair before his fingers became stuck clenched shut. Folding his arms tightly, he faced away from her and glowered at the wall of the tent.

    He was enraged at his sister. Surely if she were here in this moment he'd murder her with his bare hands. But he held himself together for Yang, knowing that the trees surrounding his cabin were going to suffer a good culling later that day when he let off some steam and gave Harbinger a workout. But for now, he kept himself together and calmed his anger with the meditative breathing Taiyang had taught him.

    He wanted to tell his niece that he was surprised Raven was that cruel and selfish. But he wasn't surprised. That did sound like something in the realm of possibility for her to do, if she was driven mad enough. Cowardly enough.

    After carefully measuring how evenly he could speak, he asked, "So you don't know who made it out of that battle alive?" If she'd been taken out of Remnant while in the vault, there was no telling what the rest of that story was. If Ruby or the other kids were alright. If Oscar-- with no combat training beside what Ozpin might have been able to transfer to him-- was safe. If that son of a bitch Leo was dead. if Qrow himself had been able to keep them all safe against someone like Hazel, or if he'd failed. Qrow didn't want to know the answer to those questions. With the entire White Fang clan outside, Emerald's illusions, and Hazel's regeneration, pain tolerance, and strength... no, that was not a fight they could win.

    His tight glare lessened as he glanced back to her with a guarded sorrow, answering her question hesitantly. "...Some say death is the only way back." Unfolding his arms, he dropped the tension in his muscles and attempted to gently relay the truth to her about Pandora. "But... I know for a fact that isn't always true, Yang."

    He did not want her to think of death as a solution, though he knew she'd be stronger than any urges of suicide that might try to creep up. It wasn't in her blood to give into that cop out, on either side of her lineage. "Many people are removed the same way they were planted here." He sighed, supposing that the black vines were the most consistent way, but even then, they'd been proven only to move one person to another location or time in Pandora. "Pandora works in inexplicable ways, and it also has been known to happen where two of the same soul exist here at once. And, obviously, time is as malleable as anything else."

    Rolling his head to gather one last piece of theory, he huffed, "If people are ever taken back to their world, it is widely believed that they have no memory of Pandora, since no one has ever heard of this place, even those from worlds that are used to this sort of magic and inter-dimensional travel."


    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  10. Yang Xiao Long

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    His question was met with a mute shake of her head because Yang didn't quite trust her voice in that moment. Her eyes had widened with fear for her sister and friends. She didn't know what had happened. But then she remembered Jaune healing Weiss and that brief glimpse of Blake, and how Ruby and Ren and Nora were all still standing and ready to fight when she'd run after Raven and Vernal. The fear faded and was replaced with the fierce certainty that everyone was okay. They had to be.

    Qrow's explanation of this world was rather... overwhelming. Yang could feel her head starting to hurt before he'd even finished talking and she flopped back onto the table she'd been leaning against with a dramatic groan, her arm slung across her eyes as if she was trying to block everything out.

    "Just once I want things to be simple," she complained with a sigh. Of course if everything could actually be fixed by complaining... after a moment she pulled her arm away from her eyes and turned her head to look at her uncle, though she made no move to sit up again. Now that she'd laid down she realized how exhausted she was. Even the hard surface of the table wasn't uncomfortable enough to make her want to get up... Although she had laid her head dangerously close to a wicked-looking knife. She couldn't help but smile as she thought about the total geek-out Ruby would be having if she were here. That girl was seriously obsessed with weapons.

    "How'd all this happen?" Yang asked, waving her hand in a gesture that indicated the whole tent. "Why are you undercover?"

     
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  11. Qrow Branwen

    Posts:
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    Professor at Schola Praeditos
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    Human
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    37
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    Neutral Good
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    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    Qrow watched her exasperation with a empathetic smile, refraining from taking the opportunity to point out that this was why some things were better kept secret. But the Grimm were not incredibly prominent here, strangely enough, and he'd only ever seen a couple in Pandora. At least, that weren't illusions or nightmares or tangible fears, that is. Their widespread nonexistence comforted him. It meant Salem was not here. Even if she were, he had a twisted faith that there were worse things out there that could defeat her with ease. Like Crowley. It was a strange belief to find comfort in.

    These were also not things he could keep hidden from Yang. She was here, and she would have to adapt sooner or later to the oddities of the world. With another sigh, he stepped over to her with a look. "That's a long story, kid." Brushing aside some tools and weaponry, he turned and sat beside where she lay. It was a story that involved her. But she didn't need to know that she'd had a double. Not yet. He didn't want to scare or confuse her, as the knowledge of his doppelganger had scared and confused him. And his doppelganger. Bad things had happened because of that. It was unnerving, how much neither of himself had trusted the other.

    "There aren't many huntsmen in Pandora." He started off by explaining that much. "Just two." He smirked at her playfully, glad that the number was no longer one. Less playfully, he smiled and clarified, "We're the only ones from Remnant that I know of. But there are heroes around, and 'bad guys' too. Even super heroes and villains from comic books." Ruby would be thrilled to hear that. He hummed in fond humor.

    He played with the knife in his hands as he spoke, looking over the grain of its blade and the tiny imperfections in its serration. "The Dread Wastes are unique in their form of government, and The Undertaker is very strict about his laws. Though most people here are criminals, he keeps them in line with a system of glorified shock collars. And he doesn't much like others taking disciplinary action into their own hands, even if it's in good intentions."

    Looking over at her, he spoke more gravely. "So it's best to lie low and not stir up any trouble. You won't always be seen as a hero if you step in to stop an altercation here." While it was very similar in composition of citizens and criminals, this place was not nearly as forgiving as Vacuo was, and his niece needed to know that. If she'd only ever been out in the desert by herself with no threat of the Undertaker, she had a few hard lessons coming her way, and he wanted to prepare her for them.

    "Be careful in the Dread Wastes, Yang. Once you're caught, you're not getting out. And it's not worth the consequences to try to enact a little bit of justice."

    That was why he played the part of another lowlife who stayed in line and didn't play hero here. So he could leave and be free to play hero elsewhere. He acted like one of those criminals so that he wouldn't be forced to become one at the slightest misunderstanding with the Guards. He hoped she understood that, and didn't think less of him for it.

    "But Pandora ain't all bad." He nudged her leg, teasing some light into the conversation. "Centria and The Crystal Vales are good places. More akin to Vale." With a lift of his chin, he revealed proudly, "There's even a school that's similar to Beacon. Called Schola Praeditos."


    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  12. Yang Xiao Long

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    It was a lot to take in. Some of it didn't really make sense. How could a character that someone else had made up in their head actually exist? And this Undertaker guy... he didn't sound like anyone that should be in charge. Putting collars on people? That explained the strange 'necklaces' she'd seen people wearing. She'd thought maybe it was just some sort of regional fad but now it made more sense. It wasn't an explanation she liked to hear. No wonder the people out here were so guarded and ruthless. It sounded like they had to be just to survive. That wasn't any kind of way to live.

    Yang sat up again as Qrow went on to describe other areas of Pandora. Her interest was piqued at the mention of a school like Beacon. She wasn't sure there was anything left for a school to teach her, not after everything she'd been through, but it was good to hear that there was a a place like that here. A place teaching other kids how to be heroes in a world full of monsters. Because there were a lot of monsters in Pandora, even if they weren't exactly like the Grimm. It hadn't taken many days for Yang to see that.

    "So... why are you out here?" she asked, looking sideways at Qrow and raising one eyebrow. "Are you working for someone like you worked for Professor Ozpin?" Why else would her uncle choose to travel out to a place like this when there were other, better places to be? Was there some Big Evil to fight in Pandora, too? Was he spying the way he had for Ozpin? There was a part of Yang that felt a thrill of excitement at that thought. But an even bigger part of her was just... tired. Because she'd come to learn that the heroes didn't always win, and that even when they did win, victory came at a price. The kind of price that Yang wasn't willing to pay anymore.

     
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  13. Qrow Branwen

    Posts:
    1,370
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    Male
    Occupation:
    Professor at Schola Praeditos
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    37
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    Qrow did miss Ozpin, especially after having to cope with his death. And having spent so little time with Oscar.... it had been a cruel time to tear him from Remnant. Really, it was a time that he knew the world had needed him the most. That Ozpin and the kids had needed him the most. "Not really. I.... do a lot of freelance huntsman work, in other regions." He rolled his head, his bangs falling from one side of his forehead to the other. "I teach at the Schola, and the headmaster there is pretty similar to Oz. His name's Merlin, heh. Like the great wizard in those old fairy tales." He smirked proudly. That was a man who he was proud to work for.

    "But there's not really a large scale threat hanging over everyone's heads here." Qrow set his hands behind him on the table and leaned back on them, chatting as calmly and elaborately as he usually did when telling the girls stories of his journeys. "Fear isn't a tangible force, and the only thing people generally have to worry about is what crazy thing is gonna happen next, like a new city popping up out of nowhere overnight, or a word-wide curse where everyone's an animal for a day." Not that he'd be incredibly alarmed if that particular curse happened. He was already blessed with a corvid spell, but Yang didn't know that.

    Of course, there was always the spontaneous apocalypse too, but Yang especially didn't need to know or worry about that.

    The possibility of a world-wide animal curse only reminded him further of the headmaster, and his smile wavered as he genuinely asked, "How is Oz? And Oscar?" He hadn't been around the man during a time of his reincarnation, because fortunately he'd never died in Qrow's lifetime, until the fall of Beacon. But Qrow was unfamiliar with Oz's curse of fusing with another soul. He'd only ever heard very vague and brief mentions of it from the old headmaster.

    Honestly, learning of that curse was what had been the last straw for Raven's tolerance, and he was concerned where Yang's opinion on the matter landed. He'd been too hammered, and too drunk on happiness to really talk to the kids about what exactly Ozpin's reincarnation meant in Mystral. He was going to do that in the morning after his hangover, but Pandora didn't give him the chance.


    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  14. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    23

    Pandora sounded like something out of a fairy tale, at least the way Uncle Qrow described it. But then, there were maidens and immortals and all-powerful evil in Remnant so... maybe that was just life. She giggled softly at the thought of Pandora turning everyone into an animal for a day. That was something Ruby would have gotten a kick out of, too.

    Yang really missed her little sister. And the others. She'd caught a glimpse of Blake just before Yang went after her mother. She'd come back. Yang had thought she'd just be angry if she saw Blake again but that hadn't been the case. The anger was still there, but it was driven mainly by hurt. Yangs expression went a little distant as she thought of her friends and it took her a moment to realize Qrow had asked a question. She blinked out of her thoughts and refocused.

    "He's - they're? - good. I... Think. Oscar is learning pretty fast for someone who's been a farm boy all his life." She smiled slightly at the thought of him. He was a good kid. Her expression sobered as she went on. "He was fighting, last I saw. Or maybe it was Professor Ozpin. It's... Hard to tell who you're looking at sometimes. I can't imagine how strange it is for Oscar to suddenly be two people." Yang still wasn't sure how she felt about all of that. She had a lot of respect for Professor Ozpin, but some of his methods seemed... questionable. Not that she'd ever voice that to him or to her uncle because she knew she didn't have the whole story. She suspected that even the things she'd learned recently were only a very small part of the when tale.

    And when the lives of everyone living in Remnant were at stake, the rules were probably a little different, right?

     
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  15. Qrow Branwen

    Posts:
    1,370
    Gender:
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    Occupation:
    Professor at Schola Praeditos
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    37
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]
    ~Your momma didn't know the gift she got when she got you.~
    ~But you know, it's not your fault.~

    Qrow watched her thought process carefully, knowing her nonverbal responses would tell him just as much as her verbal ones. "Yeah." He agreed with a rasped sigh. Oscar (technically Ozpin?) had been the first person Qrow had known who was essentially posessed by a soul that was not their own. Drunk and elated, he'd been too relieved to really think about what it was like for the kid to have that voice in his head. When Ozpin had originally told him about his curse, it had taken Qrow a while to get over how wrong it felt. Raven had never got over it. But then the huntsman had met Crowley in Pandora, whose form of possession was more invasive, violent, and voluntary-- but he'd performed such a miracle on Qrow's soul that he'd gotten over most of his revulsion. Though it was still an uncomfortable concept, seeing the demon use his bodies (which he aptly called meat suits, though that was a horrid name) Qrow had grown slightly more accustomed to it. And much more terrified of it.

    Thinking of Crowley now, despite his dark nature and everything that had happened between them-- especially yesterday-- Qrow only smiled. Like a child, he couldn't wait to call the demon and tell him he'd found his neice. To tell Toby that he'd found his neice. She'd be ecstatic that Yang was alright. They all had been searching for her since the resolution of the Calamity, after all.

    And Qrow had just decided to give up the search the day prior. A heavy pang of guilt seized him for a moment, and he lowered his eyes in brief shame. This Yang had been here for a couple weeks, and he would have given up... He was so incredibly lucky and grateful that their paths had crossed here today.

    Lifting his gaze, a smile drew across his face. "Let's get you outta here, kiddo." Pushing his knees as he got to his feet, he smirked at her and began to pack up his tools. "This is just a side job. Your uncle's got himself an actual house." He chuckled faintly, giving her a lift of his eyebrows in a 'Shocker, I know' expression. When he hadn't been staying in the spare bedroom of Taiyang's house, he'd been off on month-long adventures and missions all throughout the kids' lives.

    He was eager to show her something she'd be proud of him for. How he'd changed for the better, 'grown up,' 'settled down.' Really, he hadn't done much of the latter two at all. But he had adapted to Pandora well, at the very least. Hauling his duffel bag over his shoulder and adjusting it so it didn't disturb Harbinger on his back, he added with no small amount of pride,
    "And, a girlfriend."


    ~I know what it's like staying up all night nursing wounds.~
    ~Picking fights with the past, I always lose.~
    ~That's no way to live.~

    @Yang Xiao Long
     
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  16. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    23

    Yang missed the shift in her uncle's expression because her own thoughts had drifted to Professor Ozpin and everything she'd learned about him recently. It was... a lot. It made her wonder what else there was, what other secrets her uncle and headmaster had kept. Her eyes flicked up briefly to Uncle Qrow. What secrets he was still keeping. Her mother blamed what she'd learned on her actions. She blamed the horror of reality on why she'd deserted her family and her team, why she'd killed innocent people and continued to care only about herself. As far as Yang was concerned, that was a load of Goliath dung. Raven Branwen had always been a coward. She'd always been the kind of person who could turn her back on her family and the people she cared about to save her own hide.

    The world was a scary place. Yang had learned that the hard way. She'd lost friends, lost a literal part of herself, but here she was. Still standing, ready to fight for the people she loved no matter how hopeless it might seem. Adversity didn't make people into cowards, it revealed them for who they truly were.

    'Let's get you outta here, kiddo.' Yang blinked and smiled back at her uncle, then hopped down off of the table. She did a double-take at the mention of a girlfriend. "Why didn't you lead with that?" she asked incredulously, and found herself grinning at the thought of her mysterious Uncle Qrow walking around holding hands with someone. She didn't know anything about this girlfriend of his but Yang decided she already liked her for the simple fact that Qrow was smiling like that when he talked about her. "What's her name? What's she like?" She followed him out of the tent, all but brimming with excitement and curiosity and maybe a little giddy at the thought of going somewhere with a bathtub. She really needed a bath.

    "Tell me everything."
     
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