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Arsenic Arisen

"Another class missed is another opportunity to do something that doesn't bore you."

0 · 280 views · located in Reverie

a character in “RWBY - Keep the Faith”, as played by TheKeeper

Groups

Description

Name: Arsenic Arisen

Meaning: Arsenic is a shade of greyish-blue

Nickname: Prefers to be called Nic, but is sometimes referred to by the less desirable parts of her name, like Arse or “Arsen”

Sex: Female

Age: 17

Height: 6’0

Weight: 149 lbs (about 67.6 kg)

Team: JADE

Hair and Eye Colors: Her hair is the same as her namesake, a shade of greyish-blue that falls just below her shoulders. It is often unkempt, simply held above her eyes by either gel or a headband, but it sometimes ends up in a ponytail for reasons unknown. Her eyes are a pale lavender.

Personality: Nic is a rather optimistic person. She enjoys spending time around others and getting to know them, and tends to host gatherings around the academy grounds, much to the chagrin of her teammates and the staff. She is carefree and lighthearted, and also extremely difficult to take seriously due to her skipping streak. The only reason she is passing her classes is due to her surprising intelligence, which she hides behind a mask of cluelessness.

Physical Appearance: She enjoys her freedom of movement, but this doesn’t stop her from wearing a rather tight and revealing top, colored white, cut off at a reasonable point down her chest and yet still revealing cleavage. Over this she wears a hoodie(colored arsenic), black distressed and ripped jeans, and worn brown leather combat boots. Around her waist she wears a grey flannel with stripes of arsenic and a lighter blue. She has an armored gauntlet on her left forearm that consists of two layered metal plates.
Color Scheme: Arsenic, white, black

Dust Affinity? Y / N

Weapon(s): (Fluid Lethality) With her she carries a long tube containing silvery, metallic liquid(think mercury). This liquid is known as Adaptable Liquid Metal Weaponry, or ALMW. This metal is controlled with the use of her semblance, and can be morphed into nearly any weapon she chooses. Her personal favorites are swords, shields, katar, and spears - although she will use nearly anything she can think of, leading to her very spontaneous and unorthodox style of combat. She does not have to be touching it in order to use the ALMW.

Fighting Style: Quite odd. She seems to have extensive knowledge of the techniques of many weapons, even those that are not well known or rarely used at all. She is able to adapt her style fluidly and easily, making her the most versatile fighter on her team.

Aura Color: A very subtle shade of silver

Semblance: The ability to control(and manipulate) metal with the use of her hands only. She is capable of controlling anything that has a lesser purity than Platinum, but the less pure it is the easier it is for her to manipulate. This ties in directly to her weapon.

Faunus? Y / N

Symbol: Her symbol is a stylized griffin emblazoned on her armguard. she wears a silver necklace with the same symbol, but much smaller.

Image

So begins...

Arsenic Arisen's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Kamar Lucifer
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#, as written by K0VIP3R
Yet Again in the Cafeteria

While the rest of the cafeteria was a humdrum of casual chatter as the new teams were desperately trying to make the most out of their one day of relaxation talking with one another to try and start gelling (With one very clear exception), there was one table that was maybe a little too rambunctious.

"Time to get this party started!" Shouted Jasper as he leaped onto Team JADE's table almost knocking aside their food and began air guitaring as if he were on a live stage, garnering much laughter from the tables around them and from Arsenic who was holding her sides.

"Stop monkeying around," Said Ecru sternly as he pulled Jasper down by his belt onto his chair, ending Jasper's fun as he did so, much to the relief of Damask. Talon then went about resuming eating his meal in what little peace he had managed to make for himself.

"To think we've got you as a team leader," Damask sighed heavily. "At least we'll gel well on the battlefield."

"That we will, Dama." giggled Arsenic, "And we'll have a blast while we do it. Man the parties we could have..."

"I hear you there Sister!" Cried Jasper who quickly shoved a banana in his mouth, wolfing it down with a noticeable lack of manners. "Though I can tell you and me are gonna be the life of the party, Talon isn't exactly what you'd call a party animal." He gestured with his thumb towards the silent young man, who quite blatantly ignored him in favour of the steak laying on his plate.

"He doesn't talk much, does he?" Damask asked Jasper. "I get the feeling he's one of those strong, silent types."

"You're definitely right there Dama!" Jasper laughed, wolfing down another banana as he did so, almost choking on it, making Ecru has to pound his back to stop him choking to death, whereupon, Ecru returned to his food, much to the laughter of Arsenic.

"I never said you could call me that, Jasper!" Damask hissed angrily. "Only Nic gets to call me that."

"Well Talon is one of those guys who only speaks when it's necessary," Explained Jasper, completely blanking Damask to her annoyance. "He's always been this quiet, grouchy guy since I met him back when I was a kid."

"Damn, you two have been together a while, huh?" Arsenic said in awe. There weren't many who attended these schools who had such long standing relationships.

"You both must be pretty close." Damask said expecting a similar response in return.

Talon wiped his mouth with a napkin, folding neatly and placing it on his empty plate. "Not really, he's a pest I haven't had the luxury of shaking off yet." He then presumed to start sipping his tea.

"That was cold Talon!" Jasper cried as Damask and Arsenic start laughing. "If that's the way you feel take this!" He quickly grabbed a pudding from a passing student jumped back from his chair and threw it at Talon, who casually swayed his head out of the way. The pudding carried on soaring past before striking Viridian as she was leaving the cafeteria. She stood stock still, glancing at her now pudding clad shoulder, watching it drip down her arm onto the floor beneath her. The cafeteria began roaring with laughter, although there was a few teams who did not join in down to three very clear factors:

1) The look in Viridian's eyes was anything less than friendly.
2) Those teams had seen her fight and were not too thrilled about pissing her off
3) Those teams also knew of her more than fiery temper, which was quite clearly about to boil over

"Who threw that?" She asked in a tone of controlled rage. The room immediately falling silent as she opened her mouth. With no one being forthcoming with an answer she looked around her and then spotted Jasper, trying to sneak away through the crowd. Even she knew that no one would try and run away unless they were guilty. Almost as quick as lightning she sprung over to JADE's table, and quickly grabbed Jasper by his jacket collar.

"Hey let go you crazy bitch!" Jasper shouted as he struggled to get free of Vi's death grasp on his coat. "I didn't do anything!"


"My shoulder says otherwise, monkey boy!" Vi shouted angrily as she reach over and grasped his shoulder with her left hand, sending waves of pain through Jasper's shoulder as she did so. "You're gonna pay for throwing that at me."

"Ouch, you're crushing my arm!" Jasper cried in pain, he swung out with his leg, bu missed Vi completely as she moved out of the way of the oncoming appendage. "You know guys, this might be a nice time to...."

"Put him down," ordered Talon as he placed the knife he was using against Vi's neck, his cold eyes burrowing into the back of her skull.

"You're Ecru Talon right?" She asked in curiosity as she threw Jasper forward, he landed heavily on the floor and lay groaning from the impact. "Well this is a fight I'd want to have." Vi said in an excited voice.

"If you attack him then you'll have us to deal with too!" Shouted Arsenic as her and Damask stood up from the table and approached her and Talon.

"Works for me." Vi stated bluntly, cracking her knuckles and neck as she did so, causing a few winces from the other people watching the confrontation. At that point a voice sounded from behind Vi.

"Vi what's going on?" Asked Indu as she rushed to her teammate's side.

"I'm about to pound these guys into the earth. And if you try and stop me, I'll do the same to you." Vi said without taking her eyes off of what she considered her foes in front of her. Indu was not too pleased by Vi's comments but then noticed the pudding stain on her left shoulder and then looked down at the now rising Jasper, who had just gotten off his back after Vi had thrown him.

"Did that boy do that to you?" She asked sternly, causing Vi to look at her leader in a confused manner.

"Uh, yeah...why do you care?" Vi asked quizzically.

"Because despite the fact, I don't want to have a fight, I cannot overlook any form of disrespect to my teammates now, can I?" She said flatly.

"Oh so my big bad teammate got disrespected, did she?" Said a male voice from the door. By this point some of the casual chatter had returned to the cafeteria but there was a still a fair few onlookers for the altercation. "I'm unsure whether I should care or not. I mean, I wasn't offended but what I saw, in fact I laughed a bit." Raven stepped out of the crowd, his charismatic demeanor drawing a lot of attention. "I'm more surprised you haven't actually hit anyone yet, Viridian. This isn't exactly a great showing for team IVRY is it?"

"Wait those three are from Team IVRY?!" Said an onlooker.

"Oh god, JADE's dropped themselves in it now." Said another.

"That team is a bunch of jerks right? I heard they weren't exactly the most friendly people in the entrance exams."

"Friendly? They're dicks!"

Raven looked around at the gossiping onlookers and sighed. "I wonder if it's jealousy or what, but we're definitely above them in terms of skill and strength. It might go a long way to remind these peasants who they're dealing with."

"I thought you said we wouldn't get along?" Said Indu with a small smirk on her face.

"Who said I'm doing for you? It's all about reputation. Vi here was disrespected and I'm not having my team's reputation tarnished because of some layabout lowlife." Jasper looked at Raven with a gaze of indignation in his eyes. "And I'm fairly sure that if Mr Yale was here, he'd join in because a Faunus was involved in disrespecting us." Raven gestured smugly at Indu, while Vi smiled simply. "Quite honestly the only one who cares about camaraderie here is you, my fearless leader. The three of us, do not care in the slightest about each other, just our reputations and our standing. As long as we're the strongest, we don't care about each other, or this place."

"Never thought I'd be agreeing with you twice." Laughed Vi.

"God I feel sorry for Indu right now." Arsenic said sadly. "That team is full of jerks from the sound of it."

"BREAK IT UP!" Shouted an authoritative voice from the crowd, who immediately began returning to their seats as quickly as they could, leaving the small group of IVRY and JADE alone. "Ecru drop that knife immediately." Ecru immediately placed his knife down next to his plate and resumed sitting in his chair.

"Well that's put a dampener of things." Sighed Vi. "Although what's to stop me from whacking that Faunus dick over there?"

"Well that would be me, Miss Boudic now wouldn't it?" Said the same voice from beside her. She turned to find Kamar Lucifer standing beside her, causing her to jump back a few feet.

"Jesus teach, don't do that." She said as she tried to regain her composure.

"I think I'm well within my rights, Viridian." Kamar spoke in a very pleasant yet eerily commanding tone. His presence radiated authority and power, much like the headmaster's did. "Now leave the cafeteria if you wouldn't mind? I'm sure you've had enough excitement for today."

"I'm sorry sir, but we can't leave at such a time." Raven proclaimed, his ego dripping from his words. "I'm pretty sure you can, you pompous blowhard." Laughed Jasper, eliciting a ripple of laughter from the tables around them. Raven glared at Jasper, his rage begin to seethe through him. The same could have been said of Vi at the remark as the person who had insulted her was being protected by this figure in front of her. Even Indu was getting irritated by the insults being flung at her teammates.

"That does it! I'm going to knock your teeth down your throat you mealy mouthed whelp!" Screamed Vi as she tried to rush past Kamar to get to Jasper.

"I said stop." Kamar spoke flatly, causing Vi to stop in her tracks. The hair on the nape of her neck began to stand on end. "When I say you should do something, I expect it to be obeyed. Now for the last time, leave the cafeteria and take your teammates with you."

_________________________________________________________________________

Moments Later

Team IVRY had left the cafeteria under escort by Kamar, leaving the rest of the Teams to carry on enjoying themselves in their absence.

"That teacher was scary, wasn't he?" Jasper said as he shook a little from a bit of lingering fear.

"Well he would be. That was Kamar Lucifer, the leader of Team Kuro, one of the strongest teams not just in Reverie but in the entire world. Most of the teachers here were in such powerful teams. I wouldn't really wanna tick off any of them if I could help it." Arsenic explained.

"But to think that IVRY were planning on disobeying him." Damask said in disbelief.

"They were? Wasn't it only Vi who decided to go for me?" Jasper asked with quite blatant curiosity.

"She might have been, but you weren't paying attention to the other two were you?" Damask explained.

"It's all explained by the look on their faces." Talon stated calmly. "Team IVRY would be one of, if not THE, strongest team in our year. You have three people who are very prideful and egocentric who will not have their pride be besmirched or their reputations. And their leader is someone who would do anything for her teammates. While there aren't any ties of friendship, they will fight anyone who disrespects their team. That's the only bit of cohesion they have," Her resumed drinking, allowing Damask to finish off his explanation.

"Basically, by disrespecting Raven and Viridian, you disrespected their team. For such a prideful team, they can't and won't overlook it.

"So what you're saying is?" Jasper asked much to Damask's displeasure, shown quite clearly by her ead dropping to the table with a large sigh.

"Don't be an idiot and we might actually survive this year." Arsenic stated bluntly.

"Ah, why didn't you just say that sooner?!" Jasper said with quite a large laugh following, causing Arsenic and Damask to join in.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Kamar Lucifer Character Portrait: Merkur Quinton Character Portrait: Laurel Epyon Character Portrait: Oxford Legend Character Portrait: Krimm Sohn Character Portrait: Honey Theo
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Somewhere within the cafeteria... (before the time skip)

Team KOHL sat in their table, awkwardly. While most of the new teams were excitedly trying to get to know each other, the four freshmen sat there, eating in silence. Krimm Sohn, the team's unwilling leader, scanned the surroundings, trying to figure out his course of action.

Krimm cleared his throat. "So..." he began, "...uh, anyone..?"

Before Krimm could continue, a fight erupted somewhere near them. Apparently, two members of teams IVRY and JADE crossed paths, and it did not seem to go well. Laurel and Oxford carefully watched the two in their exchange, and decided to intervene. As they stood up, Krimm grabbed them by their wrists.

"Hey!" Oxford yelled, "What gives? Don't you see that that witch is being a bit unreasonable?"

Krimm remained expressionless. "Aren't you a bit unreasonable for drawing your weapon to deal with the situation?" he pointed out, shifting his eyes to Oxford's free, right hand, which was reaching for the short sword. Oxford growled at Krimm, the former's Semblance beginning to manifest. Krimm remained undaunted, simply staring back at him, tightening his grip while he was at it.

Oxford's semblance has emerged only its right arm, which was reaching for Krimm's neck. Krimm let Laurel free of his grasp, but the Faunus did not leave. He, as well as Honey, stared at Krimm and Oxford as they engaged in a stand-off. Krimm pointed the fingers of his left hand at Oxford, whose semblance grabbed Krimm's shirt. The former's fingertips began to glow, and Oxford's semblance began to rise...

"Stop it, both of you!" Honey shouted, standing from her seat. Krimm's fingers stopped glowing, and he let Oxford go. Oxford, in turn, withdrew his Semblance and sat down. Seconds after the latter's Fighting Spirit vanished, Laurel seated. Honey remained standing, looking at the two with clear disappointment.

"Guys, a fight just broke out," she said, "let's not make another one, got it?!"

"Yes, ma'am." Krimm and Oxford replied, as if being spoken to by a teacher.

The four watched on as a teacher escorted the members of Team IVRY out of the cafeteria. Honey then sat down and sighed in relief. Krimm looked at Team JADE, seeing that they have grown closer together, in comparison to his team.

Oxford, however, shook his head. "Well, at least they've been dealt with."

Laurel, seeing Oxford's disappointment, chuckled a little. "Can't believe they even tried to get the joker, especially after he showed up." he said, sipping his drink, "That's Kamar Lucifer for ya. He showed 'em, alright."

"Ka-Kam-Kamar Lucifer?!" Oxford stuttered, "Here?! No way!"

"He just walked outside. If you're lucky, you can get his autograph." Laurel joked.

"Shut up!" Oxford yelled, slumping in his chair, mumbling on about missed opportunities and something about justice.

"If ya wanna beat IVRY..." Krimm started, peeling off the skin of his banana, "...there is one thing you could do, Oxford."

"Yeah? What'd that be?" Oxford asked sarcastically, much to Krimm's annoyance.

"Maybe..." Krimm said, putting down the peeling of his finished banana, "...just maybe, we could defeat them if we start working as a team..."

Oxford looked at Honey, Laurel and, lastly, Krimm. "So...what exactly are we gonna do?"

"Simple." Laurel interrupted, finishing his drink before slamming the glass onto the table. "Be a team."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really." Honey added, "If IVRY is weak as a team, we could at least be better than them with that before we get to anything else!"

"So..." Krimm spoke, resting his chin on his fingers, "...what'd you say?"

Oxford grinned. "Let's get started."

"See?" Laurel chuckled, slapping Krimm and Oxford's backs, "We're startin' to get to like each other a bit more!"
________________________

Meanwhile...

Merkur was walking around the campus, happily humming to himself. "This is it...This is it!" he thought to himself, smiling as he did, "This is his first day! wonder how he..."

He heard some commotion from the cafeteria. Readying Bite the Dust, Merkur rushed to the cafeteria, only to find Kamar and three students. Curious, he went closer to them.

"Yo, Kamar!" he said with much pep, "What's going on here?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Kamar Lucifer Character Portrait: Merkur Quinton Character Portrait: Ebony Azoth Character Portrait: Sienna Seraphim
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In the Mess Hall
----------------------------------------

As Sienna led her companion through the cafeteria, she strode with her arms behind her back. Her sharp features and cold gaze should have been intimidating to the younger teacher, but the auburn-haired woman kept striding forward as though she weren’t in the presence of one of the most dangerous Huntresses in the world. Her black-haired companion trailed a step behind her, allowing herself the space to be able to both listen, and to survey the eating space. Her eyes scanned as a machine would have, taking in the more notable faces of the first years as she passed them. Her heels clicked on the cement floor as the tables around her would whisper of her coming, some of them in awe and others in fear. Sometimes, she couldn’t actually tell the difference. She had often noticed that teenagers were harder to read than most people.

“I’m telling you,” Sienna gushed. “That team is going places.” Her darker haired companion frowned and furrowed her brow a bit.

“I agree,” she stated in a quiet, yet authoritative tone. "Although, you shouldn't play favorites." Sienna looked back at her, a patient smile ever present on her features.

“Team PWTR is a gem,” she repeated, the pride evident in her voice. “They’re a very well coordinated and balanced team, and that is rare among first year students.”

As the two of them continued walking, a commotion drew their attention to the edge of the cafeteria. Both of them looked on, one in slight indifference and the other in irritation, as the members of team IVRY and team JADE faced off in a verbal confrontation. Or, at least what looked like a verbal confrontation that had yet to turn physical.

Of course, Sienna had turned the corner so to speak, her smile and patience both gone in a flash. The older woman at her side couldn’t help but raise a brow slightly as she watched the young teacher fume about in her way. It was then that the two of them noticed Kamar, another colleague, breaking up what would have soon turned into a violent and destructive deathmatch. Sienna was noticeably calmer at the sight of him, and turned on her heel to leave the cafeteria as Kamar escorted team IVRY away, leaving team JADE behind to talk amongst themselves. The older woman stood, looking quite uncomfortable and awkward, her black hair twisted into a tight, braided bun, and her heels suddenly feeling less stable than they had a moment ago. She crossed her arms, her yellow eyes following the six figures that disappeared behind the doors of the mess hall entrance.

She was well aware that the students were watching her. She was tall, very tall with her heels, and quite intimidating with her broad shoulders and hardened muscles. Her jaw clenched as she exhaled sharply through her nostrils, causing a few of the nearer teens to flinch, and she made her way outside and into the hall to find Kamar and Sienna confronted my Merkur, who had idiotically drawn his weapon. She waited for the inevitable, and stifled a quiet snort of irritation when it came.

“How dare you draw your weapon on campus, Mister Quinton,” Sienna scolded. He frowned, looking quite taken aback.

“Wha? I was just-”

“A-bup-bup,” she interrupted sharply, holding a single, accusatory finger inches from his face. “I don’t care what you were doing, Merkur. You know the rules! Teacher nor student is ever allowed to draw their weapon on campus unless in sanctioned areas.” She scowled when he refused to respond, lowering her hand and placing it on her hip. “I think you should come with me,” she said, leading him away by his ear. By this point he had put his weapon away and was complaining that she was pulling too hard. He was hunched over as she led him towards Ijsbrand’s office, making him look rather pathetic.

The three delinquent students of team IVRY stood not far off, two of them watching with amused faces as Sienna and Merkur eventually walked out of sight. It was then that the older woman approached Kamar quietly, his gaze shifting to her as she moved to his line of sight. He smiled to her.

“Ebony, hello,” he greeted with a wave and a forced smile. “I see you’ve returned,” he remarked, gesturing to the small travel pack that hung from her left shoulder. She grunted. “How did everything fare? The job went well, I presume?” She shifted the bag a bit and looked away before answering.

“About as well as it can go when the only thing your patron wants you to do is gather the bone masks of dead Beowolves. It was rather disgusting, actually,” she spat, bile rising in her throat. Kamar gestured to the bag.

“I assume that’s what lies in there?”

“Yes,” she deadpanned, her stare just as blank and expressionless as her words. Kamar laughed before he turned to look through the windows at the clocktower that lay on the other side of the courtyard. “Ah, I should be going. Classes will be starting tomorrow, and lesson plans are always a good thing to have. I’ll see you later, Ebony.” He nodded his farewell to her as he turned, heading to the largest winding staircase a little faster than was necessary.

Ebony turned, catching the eyes of Indu, Viridian, and Raven. She cocked her head at them for a moment, and the largest of them spoke up.

“Ebony? As in, Ebony Azoth?” Viridian asked, almost sounding impressed. Almost.

“Indeed I am. You would do well to remember that while in my class,” she remarked. She shot a look at each of them in turn, her eyes lingering on Viridian before she followed in Kamar’s footsteps, making her way to the central staircase of the Academy.

----------------------------------------
In the Dorms
----------------------------------------

Phen collapsed onto her bed with a heaving sigh, while T’wulf sat by her with a much less audible one. Wynn and Regalia both inspected their side of the room, looking at the knick knacks that had been used to decorate it. There were several writing utensils scattered on dressers and desks, and many packets of unopened paper. Both sides of the room looked as though they had been poorly prepared for their new inhabitants, and it was visibly irritating the four of them. They had all expected a nicely kept room with four beds, not two. Regalia turned to Phen and T’wulf.

“These rooms seem a little small for four people, don’t you think?” she asked earnestly, twirling one of several ownerless pens between her fingers. Phen shrugged.

“I’d say it would be reasonable for two people, maybe three.”

“Four is a stretch, though,” Wynn finished for her. He turned to face them as well, gazing around the room as a whole. “Classes start tomorrow, sure, but how are we supposed to wake up on time if we can’t even sleep?”

“That’s a good question,” Regalia agreed, humoring him. “We can’t share beds can we? It would end up being quite awkward because of the one boy we have on our team,” she said, gesturing passively to Wynn, who nodded his agreement vigorously.

“I’d rather not be bedded on the first night.” He waggled his brows, causing Phen and Regalia to laugh.

“It’d be easier if we had the correct number of beds, too,” T’wulf added, causing another round of laughter. Wynn smiled.

“I’m only hoping that IVRY has accommodations as annoying as ours,” he joked.

“Wynn.” His eyes shot to T’wulf, who had spoken rather quietly.

“Yes?” he questioned, forcing them all to become aware of the deafening moment of silence T’wulf had caused.

“What was with Yale?” She cocked her head to the side curiously, as though she were a dog. “He seemed to be very impatient towards you.”

“I know him. He’s a real prick, that one,” Regalia answered for him. “Like I said, he’s racist. Dislikes Faunus to his very core.” T’wulf frowned, and so did Wynn. “But I’ve never heard of someone getting so irritated by a faunus so quickly, not even Yale.” Phen nodded.

“It seems to me that you in particular are more maddening to him,” the redhead observed. “Maybe he knows you from somewhere?”

“Or maybe he’s just bitter,” T’wulf reasoned quietly, her eyes sliding to the window and drinking in the night sky carefully. Wynn watched her for a moment before looking to Phen quizzically.

All she could do was smile and wave his unspoken question aside.

“I’m sorry, I can be a downer sometimes,” T’wulf apologized, freeing her gaze from the moon. “Just comes with the lack of social skills, I guess.”

“Nah, you’re not as bad as some people I’ve met,” Regalia reassured her. “Despite it being the first day, I’ve noticed a lot of people already talking about you.”

“Who, me?” T’wulf said incredulously, sincerely confused.

“Well, you are a looker, and you seem to have a following already,” Phen answered, nudging her with a playful elbow. Regalia, Wynn, and Phen all laughed at T’wulf’s innocent blush.

“That’s not funny, Phen,” she sighed with a light and exhausted smile, placing her head in her hands. Phen patted her on the back.

“Aw, Cub. Don’t worry about anything. We’re all kinda awkward on the first day.” Phen kept a reassuring hand on her shoulder as T’wulf looked up at each of them in turn.

“No more fanclub jokes,” she insisted, shooting a glare at her longtime friend. Phen laughed.

“Alright, Cub. Alright.”

----------------------------------------
Central Tower
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Ebony looked over her papers, studying the name and face of each first year student. Her eyes scanned their profiles systematically, only shifting from paper to paper every so often, and lingering on those she found intriguing. As she finished, she quietly swiveled in her chair, taking in the night sky through her large office window. She took a deep and calming breath, standing from her chair to move soundlessly closer to the glass, her heels having been long discarded underneath her desk. Her bare feet thanked her every step, and she curled her toes as she stood before the open expanse of the autumn forest. She placed her fingers upon the cool surface, leaving nary a fingerprint behind as she studied the land outside, as she had done thousands of times before, before allowing her eyes to find their favorite sight: the moon.

She contemplated the day to come as the clock struck midnight and let it’s chime ring throughout the campus. It’s melody reminded her of her own first night as a student, feeling both fear and anticipation of what was to pass. Her eyes softened as they found the silvered light washing over her as a cloud moved by. Her heart beat in the rhythm of the clock tower’s song, and her teeth chattered every time a new note was struck. After what seemed a rather enjoyable eternity, it ended. The tune echoed for several seconds afterwards, leaving her with an empty thought of sleep.

She didn’t outwardly react to the shuffling she heard, instead allowing it to continue for a moment longer before acknowledging it. Shaking her head to rid it of tiredness and turning it slightly to see behind her, she regarded Sienna with little more than an exhausted grunt.

“You seem tired,” the younger teacher remarked, stating the obvious as she stepped around Ebony’s desk to join her by the window. Her words were met with silence - an occurrence that was not uncommon when talking to the world-weary huntress. For most, the silence would have been awkward and uncomfortable, but Ebony knew that Sienna didn’t mind it. “I know you turn it down every time, as you have ever since I began working here, but my offer for a neck rub still stands, you know,” she spoke with a noticeable tone of mirth, breaking Ebony’s quiet stupor. The older of the two allowed her eyes to meet Sienna’s for a moment, fully acknowledging her for the first time since she had entered the room.

“When have I ever said yes to your neck rubs, kid?” she replied, demonstrating her rare sense of humor. Sienna laughed.

“I knew you’d say no. Just thought I’d continue my routine of checking on you to make sure you aren’t being all broody.” She turned, her socked feet making hardly a sound against the marble floor of Ebony’s office.

“Those notes you left,” Ebony whispered suddenly, yet quietly. “You want me to use them, correct?”

“Yep,” Sienna affirmed with a nod, not turning to look back as she opened the door with a slight squeak. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Ebony. Or rather, today,” she whispered, throwing her a smile as she shut the door behind her with a soft click.

Ebony looked at the black lacquered door for a moment before she returned her gaze to the vast expanse of dangerous forest and hillside. She listened through the glass to the howls of Beowolves and the screeches of Nevermores.It was shaping up to be an interesting year - in more ways than one.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Rhoswen Lilith Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu
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#, as written by K0VIP3R
The Journey

To say the trip from the Dust Studies classroom was almost like a small expedition was nothing short of an unstatement. The first years literally had 5 minutes to clamber up 4 floors of a steep staircase, leading to many, if not all, of the students panting from exertion on arriving at the classroom door. Not seeing their teacher anywhere and with mere seconds to spare, they all rushed into the classroom and proceeded to make their way to which ever seats they decided they wanted to occupy. As they all sat down, many of the students looked around the classroom, finding their teacher still absent. That was until an authoritative, overly feminine voice came from behind them.

“Would you all please stand? I want you sitting in a specific manner.” As the heads turned to see the voice’s owner, many jaws dropped when the awe inspiring sight of Rhoswen Lilith greeted their eyes. Many male and a few females eyes were roving her constantly, although a few were locked onto a very specific area.

“Oh my god, she’s so hot!” Wynn shouted, without any lack of restraint or embarrassment in doing so. While a few of the other students just nodded, Jasper was still cognitive enough to agree with Wynn.

“You’re telling me..damn girl!” Jasper exclaimed with a wolf whistle afterwards. “Oww...seriously Talon? What’s up with you?” Jasper started clutching the back of his head after Talon had given him a rather sharp punch, before turning his eyes to Rhoswen, being one of the only people in the room not taken in by her appearance.

“Well now that we have the usual gawking out of the way,” Rhoswen began noticing Jasper was still staring at her. “My eyes are up here, Mr McTavish.” Rhoswen said with a cheeky smile adorning her lips, amidst a smattering of giggling at a non-phased Jasper. “Now I want you all to be sitting in your teams. You’ll find that myself and Kamar, Mr Lucifer to you guys, have a very high emphasis on teamwork, so my classes are not just about knowledge. Think of it as a class to team build. Now to your seats please, we are behind by five minutes as it is.”

While the majority of the teams sat together without any problems, one team in particular seemed to do so in a rather disgruntled fashion, trying to ignore one another as they did so.

Rhoswen placed down her notes on the wooden desk situated at the front of the classroom, looking up at her now settled students and began her lecture.

“So to begin with, as you know, this is your history class.” Her sweet voice floated around the room in a soft yet clear way, immediately grabbing the attention of her listeners. “In this classroom, I do not value your individual intellect so much as your team’s collective knowledge. But don’t think for a moment that any of you will get an easy ride in this class. While answering my questions correctly will give your team bonus points in my eyes, if any of you fail to answer a question your team will be punished as a whole. After all, a team is only as strong as its weakest part.” Rhoswen noticed that IVRY and JADE looked towards a single member each, Raven and Yale made glaring looks at Viridian whereas Indu was trying to reassure her now venomous teammate while Arsenic and Damask were staring at Jasper who merely shrugged his shoulders, nonplussed by their lack of faith, Talon blatantly ignored the stares that he was between and remained focus on the front of the classroom, eliciting a small smirk from Rhoswen.

“Eyes forward IVRY and JADE, you’re here to learn not stare at each other.” Their attention was immediately drawn back to the front, not without some disgruntled muttering from IVRY. “Thank you, now to the main lesson. As you know, our country’s origins are known through writings from our ancestors who originally settled here from Vacuo and Vale. The island we call home was originally and for the most part still is infested by a veritable hoard of Grimm. Now how did the original settlers deal with this….. Indu?” She looked to Indu for the answer and smiled as she immediately received the answer.

“They were nomadic tribes to begin with, moving whenever the Grimm hoard got dangerously close. At the time combat was even more important than it is today as every able bodied person was required to be able to kill a Grimm in the event of an attack.” Indu sounded like she was almost reciting this from a book, the answer was perfect.

“Very nice Miss Tzu. You have a fine resource there IVRY, I hope you use it wisely.” Rhoswen commented with a small giggle. “You are absolutely correct Indu, roaming tribes were at the original time of settlement the way our ancestors essentially survived the early years against the Grimm. There were thirteen known clans which later assembled into the main city. There were of course more clans than those thirteen however they remain as nomadic tribes to this day.

“Now on the initial settling of the city there were both Faunus and Humans within the main settlement. Now this might be a little much for the Faunus in the room but … well let’s allow one of you to explain...T’wulf? I did say your name right, didn’t I?” Rhoswen asked as she watched the Faunus female stand to answer.

“Yes you did, ma’am.” T’wulf responded in a kindly tone. “Well while both humans and faunus jointly created the settlement, somewhere along the early years of the settlement, the humans began taking faunus as slaves. The city was basically built out of faunus slave labour, which is one of the main drivers behind the Faunus Liberation Party. It wasn’t until 20 years into the initial founding of the city and city building that the faunus took a stand to fight their captors which resulted in the first civil war of our civilisation.” T’wulf sat down as she finished receiving welcoming pats on the back from her teammates who were in proud admiration of her.

Rhoswen nearly applauded T’wulf. It was more than what she had expected out of her student. “I did not expect that level of knowledge. I’m thoroughly impressed Miss Lupus. You are right on all counts. I’ll elaborate on the last point however as I know it’s a rather sore subject at least where Faunus are concerned.” Rhoswen stepped away from her desk to a map that was the the right of the chalkboard at the front of the classroom. The map displayed the entirety of Reverie.

She pointed to an area just outside of the city border. “This area here is were the Civil War took a dramatic turn..I’ll make this one of the last parts of the lesson so you guys can shoot off to an early lunch, thank Miss Lupus for that.” She gave T’wulf a quick wink before continuing causing the student to blush a little. “The Faunus Resistance movement had been winning battles throughout the city, driving out the majority of humans from the city into the Grimm infested forests. Now as most wars do, the Faunus wanted to put an end to the war so they went in for one final battle to try and put down the humans that were left fighting. That’s the way of the world guys, war sucks.” There was a smattering of laughs around the room from the students but Rhoswen was not smiling, her face was completely devoid of the charm it had earlier held. “That wasn’t a joke. War is not something so easily trifled with or forgotten. There are still places within the city that haven’t fully recovered from the war and that was a long time ago.” She noticed IVRY were taking increased interest in the lecture. Not out of bloodthirst but it seemed to hit closer to home than she had wanted it to. “The battle was the shortest of the war. It was a complete and utter loss for the Faunus. When the Faunus arrived at what they assumed to be where the human army was located they found themselves arriving at an empty clearing in the forest which was full of scraps of meat and that had attracted Grimm.”

“The faunus army lost a considerable number to the Grimm, the humans had outwitted the main army and killed or captured any of those who had managed to escape the massacre. After this the faunus quickly fell and the war went in favour of the humans, ending up with the humans becoming the victors of the war and conditions for faunus becoming much worse.” Rhoswen stopped speaking after that. With a sigh she looked around the class. “Because of the following wars, faunus were eventually considered an equal species when the Equalist party came into power. We have one of the most bloody histories in Remnant. It’s also the reason our school is regarded so highly. Warfare and fighting seems to be in our DNA.” She gave one more cheery smile. “So with that rather depressing note I will let you all go. Enjoy the rest of your day, you shouldn’t have anymore lessons for today as far as I’m aware but I’m sure Sienna will come and correct me if you do.”

With that the teams began dispersing through the doors. Some students walked off immediately while other thanked Rhoswen for the lesson. It was not until the last student left that Rhoswen heard a familiar voice.

“Well that was definitely a cheery lecture. Blood and gore on the first day, aren’t they fortunate?” They was a rather manly chuckle that came after that sentence but there was not much warmth to the sound. Even then, the voice brought a warm sense of happiness to Rhoswen as she looked up at the back of the lecture theatre to see Kamar standing up in one of the corners having gone completely unnoticed by every other person in the room.

“You really need to show me how to do that. I’m sure I could really use that sneakiness of yours when I’m fighting.” Rhoswen chuckled as she quickly gathered her belongings and walked out of the room with Kamar.

“You were the one who taught me how to do it Rhos. I can’t help just being able to do it better than you.” Kamar laughed as he tucked his hands into his trouser pockets, knowing Rhoswen was going to wrap one of her arms around his own. Any ordinary passer by would have thought they were a couple from how they looked, but that is not quite the case.

“So I’m assuming you came to pay attention to your favourites then?” Rhoswen asked with feigned innocence.

“You should know me well enough by now that I don’t play favourites. It’s just…” Kamar did not even need to finish his sentence before Rhoswen finished it for him.

“They remind you a lot of us, don’t they?” She asked while her brain thought back nostalgically to her student life when team KURO was still together. “A bunch of strong individuals with equally strong personalities. Seems too good to be true.” She chuckled again but the sound was empty. Almost false.

“I’m not going to give them an easy time. The sooner those four actually become a team, the better.” Kamar’s face became grim. “While there is no real animosity between Sienna and I now, I still hate the idea that her favourites are actually in a better state as a team than IVRY is. When we were all their age we had two teams of close knit members but who worked under two different philosophies. Instead we have a team who’s teamwork is almost flawless, remarkable for first years and then a team of people who seem like they could implode at any juncture. I will not allow that to happen.”

“Oh so you do care?” Rhoswen laughed before she released hold on Kamar’s arm and started skipping down the stairs in her highheels. “And although I’m pretty sure you’re already aware but the others will be arriving back here within the next month.”

Kamar smiled visibly. “Team KURO together again. Just like old times.”



What a surprise, we’re here again - CAFETERIA TIME!

Due to the students early departure from their lesson, they were amoung the first the reach the cafeteria alongside some of the older students and teachers. Quite quickly the teams grabbed their food and sat down at their usual tables. However, due to some intermingling before and during classes, many friendship circles were developing outside of the teams themselves.

A shining example of this was PWTR and JADE, being drawn together by the joint efforts of both Jasper and Wynn, the most hyperactive of their respective teams. JADE at that point decided to relocate tables to the one next to PWTR and began chatting in earnest, all but Talon opening up to each other, sharing their dreams, past experiences and observations of the two days they had now been a part of the school.

“So me and Talon were trapped in this corner with no escape and these guys surrounding us…” Jasper was relating one story from his past exploits with Talon. Jasper while not an eloquent wordsmith was still a great story teller as both teams listened intently while Talon sat with his eyes closed and arms folded, his hidden face giving little away as he listened to the account.

“How many guys was it?” Wynn asked excitedly, completely enraptured by the slightly false tale.

Jasper rubbed his nose in a confident smile. “I’d say about eight in total. All of them big muscle bound clods like Miss Bitch over there.” He laughed as he pointed a thumb in the direction of Viridian as she sat eating her rather large meal of steak and other assorted meat and vegetables. She completly ignored the jibe, as did the rest of IVRY, all except one pair of ears.

“Anyway, where was I? Ah yes so these eight guys were all holding these metal bars, knives, you know the usual thug crap. So Talon just stands there watching these guys all calm like which somehow pissed them off and I just charged forward and knocked the first guy clean out with a right hook and took the second down with a swift kick to the balls.” While the girls laughed at this statement, Wynn winced in moderate sympathy with the man.

“And then what happened?” Regalia asked in a slightly disconcerting manner throwing Jasper off a little.

“What do you mean what happened? I kicked the crap outta them!” Jasper exclaimed jumping up from his seat in indignation.

Regalia turned her eyes to Talon. “What really happened?” She asked with a slight smirk on her face.

“Yeah come on Ecru, he’s gotta be joking right?” T’wulf asked in a laugh.

“There’s no way he took down eight guys without your help, Talon.” Arsenic said with a snicker which Damask joined in with.

“Talon back a guy up here.” Jasper implored his friend however…

“He knocked out the first guy and then got jumped by the others. Had I not stepped in he would have been in the hospital.” Talon responded without a shred of emotion escaping his lips.

The others immediately began to laugh and a crest fallen Jasper slumped back in his chair and then proceeded to grab Talon’s desert away from him.

“Screw you Talon!” Jasper shouted as he threw the desert, plate and all. Unfortunately as luck would have it. The same events recurred as they had done the previous day. The desert plate was easily dodged by Talon and both teams watched as the plate not only struck Vi clean on the back of the head, but the plate fragments and splattering desert also covered the rest of team IVRY in an assortment of ceramic chips and cheesecake.

“Oh shit…” Jasper said in exasperation before he leapt up from his chair and cannoned through the cafeteria door. As PWTR and the remaining members of JADE stood up to follow, they watched the members of IVRY rise from their seats. While they seemed non-plussed excluding Viridian who was shaking in rage, the atmosphere that came from their table was nothing short of terrifying.

“That little cunt! He’s done it this time! I’m gonna kill the fucker!” Viridian then stormed out of the cafeteria.

“She doesn’t even know which way he went, does she?” Raven asked as he wiped food from his front.

“No she doesn’t.” Indu responded with a sigh. “Okay we’re going to find her and then find that little pest and settle this disrespect.”

“You know what? I agree.” Raven said with a grim smile. “I’m going to help her murder that little bastard and then go back to hating her guts.”

They all left the cafeteria together, even Yale following along, angrier than the rest of his team would have imagined.

“This is bad isn’t it?” Wynn said as both teams ran to the door.

“Bad? You kidding? This is a disaster!” Regalia said as they quickly followed in hot pursuit, Talon outstripping the rest, his cold eyes hiding the concern he really felt.

Dueling Arena, First Year Tower

Jasper sat down on one of the seats in the viewing area, panting heavily.

“Damn I need to exercise more. Phew!” He tried to calm his breathing down. “At least those clowns can’t have followed me, there’s no way they could have…”

“Clowns eh?” A voice came from behind him. A voice he did not want to hear. “So apparently throwing food at me isn’t just what he does to disrespect me. Clowns?! I think the only one here who’s a clown is you!” Viridian’s increasingly rage filled voice shot alarm bells of in Jasper’s head and he leapt over the seat in front of him, narrowly dodging a right hook as he did. Upon turning around, he was met with the furious faces of team IVRY. Each one of them glaring daggers at him.

“Hey, this is just all…” He took another leap back balancing neatly on a chair top as Yale lunged towards him with a swift kick. “Hey can’t I at least…” Again he dodged another blow as Raven threw himself at Jasper, his body colliding with the open air where Jasper had been a moment ago.

“You just keep your mouth shut and take your beating like a man.” Raven spat venomously.

“OI! ASSHOLES!!!” Came a shout from the doorway as PWTR and JADE erupted through the door attracting the attention of IVRY and Jasper, except from one individual.

“You let your guard down…” Jasper found himself in a painful hold, his arm pinned behind him and his knee gave way as a foot struck it powerfully with surgical precision as Indu grabbed him in that second of lost concentration.

“JASPER!” Regalia shouted.

“If you move I’ll break each one of his ribs one by one.” Vi shouted back angrily. The threat worked however that did not stop Vi from clenching her fist and striking Jasper hard across his left cheek, leaving a large red mark and a small cut where her glove had caught him. His neck had spun, jarring the joint and he cried out in pain.

“Now I’m going to break all of your ribs in one go!” She clenched her fist a second time.

“Viridian look out!” Indu shouted but it was too late. Raven and Yale turned to find Vi in a very dangerous position, much like that of Jasper. Talon had surged towards the group and yanked back Vi’s arm, hyper extending the shoulder painfully, locking it in place and held a small hunting knife to her throat. His eyes appeared calm, but his covered face again gave nothing away.

“Release Jasper.” He asked in a cold monotone. Indu however tightened her grasp, fury starting to bubble beneath her skin.

“Release Vi first!” She said with authority.

“Release Jasper.” Talon repeated in the same calm voice but pressed his knife against Vi’s neck hard enough to draw blood.

“I think he’s serious Indu.” Raven said in urgency.

“I said release VI!” Indu said again in an authoritative and slightly angrier voice. Tightening her grip enough to hear Jasper’s joints creak.

“Argh this hurts bad Talon!” Jasper cried as tears of pain sprung into his eyes.

“Release Jasper or I will break this woman.” Talon responded again coldly. Extremely coldly. He tightened his grip on Vi’s shoulder causing the same creaking that Jasper experienced and similar pain along with it.

“Shit this hurts!” Vi shouted but she didn’t struggle being in the more dangerous position than Jasper. “Indu seriously, let him go. This guy isn’t bluffing, trust me!” Vi said urgently.

Indu released Jasper there and then. Jasper quickly ran to the teams waiting for him, clutching his arm painfully. Talon then removed the blade from Vi’s neck and span her around by her arm, kicking her square in the chest. She went sailing into Raven and lay groaning in pain on top of him.

Talon turned to return to his teammates but found his path blocked by Indu who was glaring daggers at Talon. Talon coolly returned the stare.

“I cannot allow you to leave unpunished, Ecru Talon. No one gets away with treating my teammate like that.” Indu said in controlled rage. “I challenge you to a duel. The arena is just there so we can start immediately.”

Talon just kept on staring at her which started to unnerve her slightly. His stare was so cold and emotionless, like the eyes of a killer. “Don’t waste my time.” He said flatly, trying to walk past her. She however carried on blocking his path.

“I will not accept your declination, Ecru Talon. Fight me you coward!” She shouted. And she swear she saw a glimmer of anger pop into his eyes but that inquisitive thought vanished with his answer.

“I accept.” He stated the two words in cold authority. He kept his gaze with her. His eyes offering his next question without even having to speak.

"Why are you just staring at me, shouldn't we proceed to the arena?" Indu asked in a state of mild confusion.

"I...honestly wonder how you...got picked to be our leader sometimes, Indu?" Vi groaned. She stood up, casually stamping on Raven's leg as she did. Ignoring his cursing and shouting, she continued to speak. "You didn't come from where we grew up. A spoiled rich kid like yourself wouldn't have a clue how fights work down in the slums."

"What do you mean, Viridian?" Indu asked, the insults while hurtful, did not show on her face.

"I mean we fight for something. Pride and honour? Ha, what use do people like us have for that?" Vi spat in contempt. "He wants to hear what you get for winning and what he gets if he wins. Simple as that."

"So a wager?" Indu said in thought.

"Well because you're fighting for me, for whatever reason. I think I should decide don't you?" Vi eyed Indu who just bowed humbly. "How about, I get Jasper as a slave for a month if she wins." Raven almost broke out in laughter hearing that, whereas Indu looked at Vi in disbelief.

"You what..." Indu started.

"What d'ya say Talon?" Vi smirked.

Talon just eyed her before shaking his head.

"No? You refuse?" Vi asked critically, quite unsure what was running through Talon's mind.

"I'm not refusing." Talon said as he approached Vi until they were face to face (Or face to hood and scarf) "I'll take Jasper's place."

"Wait Talon..." Jasper shouted but he was thoroughly ignored by the group.

"I'll take that. Now what do you..."

“You never touch Jasper again.” Talon interrupted her in the same cold monotone.

Vi offered out her hand and Talon gave a curt, powerful handshake; sealing the bargain. Indu looked out of her depth.

"I don't like the idea of this." Indu complained. Her upbringing and nature was fighting against the idea of almost owning someone.

"Well just shut up and get on with it Indu. He's in full agreement. Backing out now would be disrespectful." Vi said in an almost commanding tone. Indu again bowed her head and walked onto the dueling arena with talon following silently behind her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Sherry Azade Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Slate Quatermain Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Lavender Dantes Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Hart Harker Character Portrait: Merkur Quinton Character Portrait: Laurel Epyon Character Portrait: Oxford Legend Character Portrait: Krimm Sohn Character Portrait: Honey Theo
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Cafeteria, a few moments ago...

Team KOHL gathered at a table, eating lunch. Well...most of them were.

"Hey, Krimm," Laurel said with a mouthful of steak, "you ought to eat, pal."

Krimm said nothing. Everyone else noticed that he had been a bit dreary since their Dust Studies class, and it seemed to have gotten worse during History. "I'm not hungry." he finally said.

Laurel shook his head. He hurriedly sliced what was left of his steak and impaled the larger cut with a fork. "Here." he said, offering the piece of steak to Krimm.

Krimm stared at the piece of steak for a while then, in one swift motion, took the fork from Laurel's hand and tore the meat off of it with his mouth. He then chewed on the meat, though still looked a bit sad.

It took a while before Krimm finished the steak, then it appeared that only Honey had not finished eating. She seemed to be entranced by the flavor of the soup she ordered, and Oxford and Laurel were getting impatient. The two were about to (jokingly) fall asleep when-

"Come on, not again!" Oxford whined as it appeared Teams JADE and IVRY were going to fight, "Geez, this is making me feel like I'm in some poorly-written, modern shonen manga..." He was a bit disappointed when Jasper ran out of the cafeteria, but was surprised when all of IVRY followed in hot pursuit. Oxford turned to Laurel and the two nodded in agreement, rushing out of the cafeteria after PWTR and the rest of JADE.

Krimm thought for a minute, blocking out Honey's slurps, then ran after his teammates. Honey, caught by surprised, stood up as well, hesitated, then ran too. "Wait for meeee!" she said as she hurried after Krimm whilst holding her bowl of soup. She almost rammed herself into a table occupied by another team with one member having large horns on his head. "Sorry..." she said, nervously backing away then running to the exit, avoiding everyone in her way.

Some time before that, in the hallways

Merkur was taking another leisurely stroll around Faith Academy. "Lunch..." he hummed to himself, looking at his wristwatch. He quickly paced towards the cafeteria, hoping he could bump into Krimm and his team. Oh how he would embarrass his "nephew".

"Merkur!" Merkur turned and saw Phlox.

"Ah...it's...Cherubim, right?" he replied, struggling to remember the man's first name.

"Cherubim. Phlox Cherubim."

"Oh, Phlox? I...yeah, er...hi." Merkur said, scratching his head.

"Where're you off to? I'm headed for lunch. Sweeping up Dust residue is exhausting." Phlox jokingly said.

"I'm getting myself some lunch, too." Merkur said. The two started walking towards the cafeteria. "I'm also hoping on seeing my nephew before his break ends." he snickered.

"Oh..." Phlox said, "...Krimm, was it?"

"Yep, saw that he was in your class. How'd he do?"

Phlox scratched is head and thought for a while. "Well, he..."

"...did he blow something up? Darn kid! Oh-hoh, he's gonna get-"

"No, no, no..." Phlox interrupted, "He didn't. He couldn't even make it glow."

Merkur seemed to be surprised. He nodded then went silent for a while. He then looked at Phlox, who looked back at him with a puzzled look.

"...is there something on my face?" Phlox nervously asked, pointing around his cheek.

Merkur shook his head. "Your...your hair..."

"...what about it?" Phlox said. He was surprised when Merkur touched his hair, playing around with it for a few seconds.

"It's so...magical..." Merkur said with a soft voice, his eyes twinkling with wonder. He reached into his pockets and took out his scroll. "Hey, you mind if I took a video?"

Phlox looked puzzled. Merkur had been working at Faith Academy for at least two years by now, and only then did he have any interest in his hair. The man shrugged.

"Okay, just do this sort of rocking motion..." Merkur continued. He then told Phlox that he thought of making a short video, and all Phlox had to do was bend backwards a bit, go back upright, and repeat a few times. When they were done recording, Merkur laughed to himself and made sure he saved the video. "I'll show ya the finished product."

"Sure..." Phlox smiled, as if he knew what Merkur was making. They continued their way towards the cafeteria, until they saw Honey rushing out of it with a bowl of soup. The two, puzzled, watched her run off until she was out of sight. "What was that about?"

"Beats me." Merkur said, smacking his lips at the smell of food that crept from the cafeteria, "But boy, am I hungry..."


Dueling Arena, First Year Tower. Sort-of present.


"What's going on?" Krimm asked Oxford and Laurel.

"Seems Talon of JADE and Indu of IVRY are gonna have a duel." Oxford replied, sounding mildly interested.

"They've got some stakes on the line." Laurel said, " Indu wins, Talon's their slave for a month. Talon wins, IVRY doesn't touch the monkey kid again. Even if the guy wins, I doubt IVRY's gonna comply..."

Krimm looked at the two combatants, their teams, and the arena. He smiled inside. Honey, who had just arrived, bumped into Krimm, exhausted.

"Wha's...happn'n?" she said, collapsing onto the floor but keeping her bowl safe. After the rest of her team filled her in, she suddenly jumped into the air and went infront of PWTR, who were watching Indu and Talon. Honey seemed to be energetic, reaching into her bag for a bag of potato chips, which she tore open and spilled the contents into the bowl that was once filled with soup. Her teammates, puzzled, assembled near her.

Krimm sighed. "Stay here. You three keep your eyes on JADE, IVRY and PWTR. I'm getting a closer look." he then proceeded to look for higher ground. He found it at the large screen that displayed Aura levels. He then worked his way through hallways, staircases and ledges before standing on top of the board, watching Indu and Talon from above.

"So we're just gonna sit back and watch?!" Oxford said, "Augh...you gotta be kidding me, Krimm!"

"He's crazy..." Laurel said, staring at his team's leader standing on the board. He took out his scroll and huddled with Oxford and Honey. Krimm appeared on the screen.

"Keep a close eye on the spectators. If they try to interfere, stop them." Krimm said.

"What're you gonna do? Honey said, munching on potato chips.

"If the fight gets out of hand, I'll intervene..." Krimm said, "Stay there, got it?"

The three nodded. "Over and out." Krimm said. He turned his attention to the two fighters. "Now...what do you have to show us?" he thought to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Laurel Epyon Character Portrait: Oxford Legend Character Portrait: Krimm Sohn Character Portrait: Honey Theo
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#, as written by Senato
Dueling Area atop the South Tower

The two combatants stepped into the arena, the participants screen quickly buzzing to life revealing the names Ecru Talon and Indu Tzu, along with a portrait photo of each and a bar showing their respective aura levels.

Indu brought her weapon hilt into her right hand, the center of the device opened, giving her space to insert a small dust clip. Upon closing the weapon came to life as an ornately carved, partially ethereal - light blue blade sprung to life from the hilt. A chain of the same ethereal - light blue nature sprung from the back of the hilt, and created a second sword, connected to the first through the chain.

Talon too equipped his weapon, bringing his arms up in a street-fighting pose with both blades pointing towards his enemy. The two stared at one another, neither moving a single step.

Jasper sat slightly separated from the others, watching them intently, a scowl upon his face.
Damask looked at him worriedly before turning to Regalia, “You know her, right?” She said pointing to Indu, “Just how dangerous is she?”

Regalia sighed in response, “Well… she almost never loses a one on one fight.” She saw Damask become noticeably demoralised “Though,” She quickly continued in an attempt to bring back hope, “I don’t know what Talon is capable of, so he could still stand a chance…” She turned her head, internally scolding herself for her failed attempt at comforting Damask, “I mean…”

The conversation ended abruptly as their attention was drawn by the loud clashing of blades, Indu was attempting to overpower Talon by using both her blades in a single full powered strike. Through a swift motion, Talon sidestepped to the right and directed Indu’s weight downwards to his left, being able to pull his left arm back as a result, he then quickly followed through with a strike in the direction of her skull. Indu twirled under Talon’s strike, which glanced just above her face, as she allowed her body to drop with gravity she made a swipe with her right blade, forcing Talon to dodge away, giving her the a chance to flip back into an upright position.

This time, Talon charged at Indu, who threw her offhand blade in his direction. Deflecting the blade with his left gauntlet, Talon then grabbed the hilt of the blade, bringing it with him as he charged at Indu, raising his right blade in preparation to strike. Noticing Indu’s calm stance, Talon’s eyes drifted to her weapon, which revealed to him that the chain no longer connected the blade he held, to her weapon. He dropped the blade and dodged away as the weapon exploded into hundreds of shards of ice a few of which were still able to strike him because of his late reaction. His teammates watched in worry as the bar representing his aura barrier went down slightly.

Indu charged, spinning her blade into reversed grip before it clashed against Talon’s crossed gauntlets. Shifting his weight forwards, Talon attempted a roundhouse kick to Indu’s left leg, which she avoided by flipping over him. He turned to face her and quickly followed through with two swift strikes, both of which were blocked by Indu, who then flipped her blade into normal grip before performing a downwards strike, which Talon avoided. Using her momentum, Indu quickly followed through with a second upwards strike, however as she swung, the blade turned into a bladed whip. Quickly noting the new weapon’s extended range, Talon swiftly dodged backwards, quickly increasing the distance between himself and Indu.

“He seems to be using a less refined street style,” Indu thought to herself, “He is well equipped to deal with close range combat, however increased reach should give me the advantage I need.” She followed her initial strike with three more, all of which Talon skillfully dodged.
Talon began charging forward to close this distance, ducking under a horizontal strike from Indu, Talon readied himself as he neared striking distance, however, Indu pulled back on her whip which then wrapped itself in a circle-like formation with the blades pointing outwards at her opponent. In response Talon quickly switched the shotguns of his gauntlets to their forward facing position and fired off multiple shots to help him reduce his momentum. With a slight jab, Indu’s whip rushed forwards at him, though Talon had luckily sidestepped it just in time.

Seeing that Indu was wide open, Talon fired off a shot with his right gauntlet, however, to his surprise, Indu had defended herself with a shield which had formed on her left arm. “So that’s her semblance.” Talon thought to himself as he quickly dodged backwards avoiding Indu’s counter attack.

With a sigh, Indu relaxed her posture, both her shield and bladed whip disappeared. “Mid-range only gives me a defensive advantage, so I’ll have to keep close if I want to actually hit him, in which case this would be a good weapon for wearing him down.” She thought to herself.


Talon watched wearily as two chain-blades manifested in Indu’s hands, the one originating from her hilt had a slight blue tint whereas the one in her off-hand had a soft ethereal ivory colour.

“Eh!” Phen said in surprise as she turned to Regalia, “aren’t those your weapons?”

“Yes.” Regalia calmly answered, “That’s her semblance; she can create any weapon she knows the construction of.”

“So… Why is she using your weapons?” Oxford asked

“Well,” Regalia began, “As she fights, Indu tests her opponent’s capabilities, and then alters her choice of weapon and/or fighting style to give her the best advantage, and it seems that my weapons give her an advantage”

Immediately, Indu charged forward firing multiple shots at Talon, who dodged or deflected them as he prepared for her to enter striking distance, however at about two meters distance Indu jumped, flipping over him extending both chain-blades to strike against his raised gauntlets, constantly keeping sight of him as she did so. Estimating her landing location, Talon began preparing to counter-attack, until he noticed her pulling down on the trigger. He allowed his body to drop, and then kicked himself off the ground, dodging most of the shots, however he still took two more chips to his aura barrier.

“She’s completely dominating him!” Honey said in surprise before covering her mouth when she realised the rest of Talon’s team could hear her, “Uh, sorry…”

“I wouldn’t say that.” Wynn stated calmly, not drawing his eyes away from the fight

“Eh?” Most of the others questioned in disbelief

Phen sighed, “Look Wynn, I know you’re the optimistic type, but are you even paying attention?”

“Of course.” He quickly responded, “Are you?” his response caused Phen to look at him in disbelief. “It’s all in their body language.” He continued, “Even though she’s almost always being on the offensive and has hit him a few times without even getting touched, Indu’s posture has slowly gotten more and more defensive and cautious, meaning there’s obviously something dangerous in him that she’s noticed and unsure about.” At this point, almost everyone was staring at Wynn in disbelief, “On the other hand, Ecru ain’t showing any of the fear or worry that you’d expect in someone who’s getting beaten this hard, meaning he’s still mentally in control and has a definite strategy for winning that doesn’t come down to ‘I hope this works’ or anything like that.”

Arsenic stepped a little closer to him, changing her view from the fight to Wynn and back multiple times, “How did you even…”

“Body language.” He cut her off, “It's the one thing no one can hide, not even Ecru.” He turned and winked at them before directing his attention back to the ongoing duel, his teammates still looking at him in disbelief.

“Just you wait Wynn,” Jasper muttered quietly enough that no one could hear, “You’ll see what’s so dangerous about him."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Laurel Epyon Character Portrait: Oxford Legend Character Portrait: Krimm Sohn Character Portrait: Honey Theo
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#, as written by K0VIP3R
Back on the Arena Floor

Wynn was definitely correct in that logical assumption. Talon had a plan of attack, but he was not in a position to execute it yet. Indu’s range and skill were making that far too hard for him to even get near her, let alone attack her.

Talon again went through the same motions, he dropped his weight and began surging forward towards Indu in an attempt to get within striking range. However Indu yet again leaped over him in a flourish of steel sending her flailing weapons down at Talon with deadly precision. Talon managed to skirt by one of the blades with a small shift of his body weight but had to leap back at the sight of the second one bearing down on him. Indu landed gracefully, her eyes never leaving her foe, watching him carefully as his cold eyes bored into her, laden with an ever present sense of burning frustration.

This time Talon decided to change tack. One of the gauntlet mechanisms turned, exposing the shotgun barrel on his right arm. Again Talon surged toward Indu, this time with a little more urgency, closing the distance faster than he had been. Indu calmly whipped one of the blades towards Talon in an arc, coming at him just out of his sightline. Talon however in full expectation of this span into the oncoming blade and unleashed a shotgun round into it, keeping the blade from striking him. The momentum of the shotgun spun him back towards Indu who began almost dancing with the blades as they almost instinctively blocked the next round loosed off by Talon, who had decided that one shotgun was not enough for his current plan of attack and quickly made his left gauntlet switch to its shotgun mode. Indu continued to flay the weapons skillfully, unleashing rounds at odd junctures. The constant attacking was forcing Talon to burn up more energy than he liked and his aura shield was getting chipped slowly by the attacks that he could not evade.

Suddenly Indu swung one of the blades out towards Talon’s face who instinctively and narrowly evaded it by slightly moving to the left, unfortunately that moved him into the path of the other oncoming blade. The blade hit him with considerable force directly in the chest, flinging him backwards onto his back in the direction of the spectators. The onlookers audibly gasped as a small chunk of his aura shield disappeared, leaving him with just above half of his aura shield remaining. Talon quickly got to his feet and immediately readied a defensive stance.

“So Wynn, you sure he’s got something up his sleeve?” Regalia asked apprehensively. “Once Indu gets control of a fight, she normally stays in control. Talon might appear strong, but he’s definitely not on her level.” It pained her to say that knowing that Jasper was within hearing range but she could not overlook what she was bearing witness to.

“As I said he’s definitely…” Wynn began however was interrupted by the school’s number one annoyance.

“Watch what you say about Talon. He’s much stronger than Indu, just wait and see!” Jasper shouted in absolute confidence.

“I’m sure you have every faith in him Jasper but Indu is...just in another league.” T’wulf said softly, in awe of Indu. She was almost bewitched by how beautifully she was moving.

“Don’t get the wrong idea Jasper.” Arsenic said to her slowly angering teammate. “We all want Talon to win. We really do. It’d be nice to get a win over those pompous assholes. But I just can’t say that Talon has what it takes to do anything about it.”

“But…” Jasper began, wanting to argue his friends case.

“But nothing!” Raven shouted across to him. Vi and Yale were both keeping a weather eye on the fight, knowing better than to miss this opportunity to see their leader fight and also gather as much information as possible on this seemingly growing thorn in their side in Talon.

Raven’s shout drew the attention of the rest of the onlookers. “It’s clear who the more skilled here. No amounts of pouting, moaning and whining will change what you’re watching. Just accept what you’re seeing; that Indu is the better fighter of the two and in a straight up match she will win. Now shut up so I can watch in peace.” Raven turned back to the fighting, watching Talon almost dance to evade Indu’s onslaught with a smug grin on his face.

Talon kept his back to the onlookers, his plan was now in effect. Indu carried barraging him with sharp slashes of the whirling blades. Talon carried on deflecting and dodging but rigidly maintained his position in front of the spectators. Indu realised too late that she had fallen for a very deceptive trap.

To the immediate surprise of everyone, Indu started randomly pawing at her face, almost as if she was trying to avoid looking at something. The more eagle eyed would have noticed the patch of light shining in her eyes. Many of the spectators immediately turned to the source of where the light was coming from, quite rightly suspecting who was behind what they all considered to be a very disgraceful thing to do in the middle of a fight. They found Jasper, holding a small compact mirror in his hand and had angled the mirror perfectly to shine the Sun’s rays into the eyes of Indu.

The members of PWTR, KOHL and JADE were furious with Jasper. Raven having seen them start to collapse in on to him made a move to stand but was held in place by Yale who motioned him to carry on watching. Raven was at a loss for words at what he saw.

Honey and Oxford moved faster than the others surrounding Jasper and quickly pinioned his arms to his sides and quickly tripped him, dropping him heavily to the floor. The mirror spilled in front of Regalia who in utter contempt smashed it with her right boot, grinding the fragments of glass and plastic into the ground.

“Well that’s spoiled a good show.” Honey commented with a sigh as she held a fairly calm Jasper. “I was honestly enjoying watching that Talon kid getting stomped.”

“I don’t really think that was the pressing issue Honey.” Laurel groaned.

Suddenly a hand whipped down bodily lifting Jasper out of the grasp of the two would be captors. They both looked up, ready to fight at a moment's notice but stayed their hands immediately after seeing the look on the hand’s owner.

“What were you thinking Jasper?!” Regalia shouted angrily to Jasper’s rather unnervingly deadpan face. “You should know better than to interfere in a fight. Cheating is just despicable.” She wanted to say more, she wanted to scream at him, but she could not bring herself to do it, mainly because of how much Jasper’s face seemed to remind her of how Talon usually looks. Cold eyes. Brutally cold eyes.

“I should know better?” Jasper said coldly, his eyes boring a hole into Regalia. “You have no idea how childish you sound right now.” Regalia was honestly surprised at his choice of words.

“Childish?” Arsenic commented in a confused voice.

“Seriously Jasper, I think the only childish one right here is you, that you would think that something like this is alright.” T’wulf growled angrily.

“Yeah how would you think Talon would feel that you inter…” Regalia began but was immediately silenced by an angry Faunus.

“YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW ME AND TALON FEEL!!!” Regalia dropped him, taken aback by that outburst. “YOU ARE ALL SO CLUELESS IT’S AMAZING YOU GOT INTO THIS SCHOOL!!”

Krimm and Wynn turned to the source of the shouting, honestly surprised by Jasper’s anger.

“DO YOU, ANY OF YOU, UNDERSTAND HOW A FIGHT FUCKING WORKS?! RULES?! DON’T MAKE ME GAG!! THERE ARE NO. SUCH. THING!” Jasper was shaking. To him they had all crossed a line that he would never want anyone to cross. “THE MINUTE YOU LEAVE THIS SCHOOL, YOU WILL BE PUT INTO SITUATIONS THAT REQUIRE SHIT LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN ON A DAILY BASIS!!! THIS WAS HOW TALON AND I FUCKING LIVED OUR LIVES AS KIDS!!! WE FOUGHT TO WIN! FIGHTING FAIR GETS YOU KILLED, NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS!!” Jasper finally breathed and looked noticeably calmer for doing so.

“Where the hell did that come from?” Oxford breathed in a slight amount of shock. Jasper fixed him with a gaze of cold lethality.

“You are all childish for that specific reason. None of you understand how a fight works. The only ones who I can even tell understand what I’m on about is Neanderthal over there, Miss Prissy Britches out there on the field and that dude up there who’s been planning on jumping in at a moment's notice.” Jasper sighed again.

“WHAT THE HELL?!” Raven shouted at the top of his voice bringing attention back to the field and the screen and that was when they noticed what Jasper had done.

On the field, before the commotion.

As soon as the light stopped glaring in Indu’s eyes, she noticed one very key issue with what she was seeing or really a lack of. Talon was gone.

“Where is he?” Indu muttered as she swung her head around in order to try and locate him. It’s like he just vanished into the air itself. What did he do? Did he activate his semblance? That’s the only logical thing, but then what is it.

It was at that moment that a burst of shock hit all the onlookers and an overwhelming sense of danger overcame Krimm, Indu and Wynn. In one shotgun blast, Indu’s aura shield dropped hard, the first hit that Talon made any real form of contact with Indu, her shield dropped by just shy of a quarter. The impact of the unseen blow sent Indu cannoning forward off of her feet, landing square on her front, her weapon spiraling away from her, just a bit shy of the outer wall of the fighting grounds.

“What happened?” Was the single thought that was going through most of the crowd at that moment. A stunned silence seemed to engulf the whole field as Indu hit the floor.

There were however two people who were wondering why everyone was so confused. To Viridian and Yale, they honestly could not understand the shock of what happened. They had watched Talon silently creep up behind Indu and strike her with both his fist and a shotgun blast simultaneously. However the two of them, not having any prior knowledge of Talon’s semblance could not understand why Indu could not see him. Yale was subconsciously trying to figure out how his semblance worked but was having trouble in doing so since he could not pinpoint the cause of activation since it happened so quickly. Vi however was studying Talon’s movements trying to memorise attack patterns which was difficult to do.

As Indu tried to rise she found herself thrown into the floor again with another shotgun blast, taking another large chunk of her shield away and making her crash back into the floor. Indu groaned from the hit but did not fail to notice the dust clouds kicked up by Talon’s footsteps. It was a brief glance that she caught but it was enough to clock onto the one small hope she had to put an end to his semblance really realising the true danger she was in.

“That coward hot her while she was down?!” Raven exclaimed, with many mutters of agreement from the group. “Does he have no honour?!”

“According to Jasper, no!” Regalia shouted in equal amounts of rage. “To think I was willing to befriend people like you!” While she did not mean the words, the way Jasper and Talon think of fighting just did not mesh with her own honourable spirit. They were a completely different animal to her.

Indu rose and rolled forward, knowing Talon would aim for her back again. She knew that the only thing that would aid her would be to stay on the move, but the problem was that she would not be able to tell whether she was running towards Talon or away from him. The only clue she had was the small dust clouds created by his movement.

She took her chance and darted across the field at a speed that was almost unbelievable to watch after having taken such heavy hits. She kept a keen eye for Talon’s movements, noticing small dust clouds being kicked up as he ran to intercept her. She suddenly hopped back and darted in another direction again following the movements in the dust. Which were getting closer to her by the moment. It was then she decided to pull out one of her trump cards. She began manifesting a weapon as Talon’s dust clouds came closer. Whatever happened, the onlookers knew, the next attack would be the one that decided the match.

As Indu’s weapon manifested, Talon’s noticable movements disappeared. In that brief moment, Indu span elegantly with a severe amount of speed, swinging her blade. At that moment a hand shot out and caught her hand. The owner’s other hand shot out catching something out of the air, dragging Talon’s arm and then him back into focus.

The person who had interrupted this duel, doing something both fighters found unbelievable was none other than Krimm. However this disbelief was instantly replaced with a major amount of bloodlust directed not only at Krimm, but at each other too. Both combatants knew however the fight was now over.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Yale Khamun Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Raven Coeur de Lion Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Laurel Epyon Character Portrait: Oxford Legend Character Portrait: Krimm Sohn Character Portrait: Honey Theo
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The Dueling Area On top of the South Tower

A short span of time ago…

“Wait for it…”

Patiently, Krimm observed the battle between Indu and Ecru. With sly calculation, he formulated maneuvers and countermeasures for him to use, should he face either of them in battle. He paid little attention to the crowd that gathered to watch the fight, the same crowd he separated from. After all, he had what he believed as the best seat in the arena, his view unhindered by someone else’s head.

Little did he know of what role they shall play in the duel…

Krimm’s otherwise cold surveillance was disrupted by an illogical change in performance, specifically on Indu’s part. For most of the battle, until that point, Indu displayed grace, intellect and ferocity Krimm found notable. Now, she was clawing something on her face, dropping her guard entirely. It was no surprise for Ecru to take advantage of this momentary weakness, but to Krimm it was all too convenient. Was it his Semblance? Was it some sort of freak phenomenon in nature? Or was it…something else?

”Intriguing…”

Krimm would not admit it to anyone, but he was surprised of Ecru’s and Jasper’s dishonest means of “leveling the playing field”, so to speak. He never thought Ecru was the kind who would cheat, but upon hearing Jasper’s testimony, and rapidly reviewing their student profiles, Krimm took it as second nature for them to do so. Now, he knows, he has to be careful in dealing with them. Very careful.

Seeing that Indu has managed to recover, Krimm was about to calmly return to his observational mood when he noticed something odd: Indu did not appear to see Ecru, even though he had passed easily within her range of vision. This greatly puzzled Krimm, though he knew it had to wait. The fighters’ Aura levels were at critical condition, and they already went much below the minimum allowed by dueling regulations. He had to take action…now.

Swiftly, he requested clearance from Merkur, which he received shortly after he sent his request. He then jumped off the scoreboard, landing near Indu. Krimm then activated his Semblance, redirecting Indu’s strike towards himself. Smoothly, he caught her arm and, after detecting Ecru, managed to catch him by his arm, as well.

The participants screen buzzed. Ecru’s and Indu’s portraits and aura level indicators were covered by a text box that read “Duel Aborted”. The crowd’s expressions were a mix of surprise and anger, nothing new to Krimm. Slowly, he lifted his head before glaring at everyone around him with his cold, gray eyes. He held a tight grip on the fighters, just enough to keep them in place. Silence fell upon the arena.

“Before I let you go,” Krimm said, breaking the silence, “I’d like you two to think about yourselves for a while.

“Would victory over your opponent truly satisfy yourselves? Your aura levels, as I recall, are already below the minimum allowed by duel regulations. You not only experience a drop in combat performance, you would also have lower resistance to attacks. Have this not occurred as it had, both of you would probably be in critical condition. And for what?”

Krimm paused, letting the words sink in. He waited for words from Indu or Ecru, but received none. It was a relief that their aggression levels have lowered, but he had to seal the deal. “Please…just stop this right now. You’re both better than this, remember that. There’s something out there...something we can only defeat together. So, I implore you, please stop.” He added, his voice suddenly sounding genuinely concerned.

If anyone bothered to look at the rest of Team KOHL, they would see three puzzled, if not surprised, faces. For the very few days they spent with him prior to this moment, Krimm spoke with cold, robotic monotony. Now he just said three sentences with a hint of emotion.

Slowly, Krimm loosened his grip on the two and then…nothing.

Indu and Ecru looked at each other, then to the crowd, then to each other again. They wanted to keep fighting. They had to keep fighting. Indu, secretly, wanted to prove herself to her team. Ecru simply wanted to help out a friend. Their goals were tied to one thing and one thing only: victory in this duel. But even then, they somewhat knew that it had to stop.

The two fighters stood up straight, withdrawing their weapons and stood there, panting and looking at each other. The fight was long and exhausting for the both of them, but it was going nowhere. After some time, they went to their respective teams conveniently positioned on opposite sides of the crowd.

Krimm smiled inside. Not only had he been able to keep his fighting prowess a mystery to them, he has also successfully utilized peaceful means to resolve a conflict. He looked at the crowd, studying the teams, then went to his own team.

"Mission Accomplished." he whispered before disconnecting from Merkur.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: T'wulf Lupus Character Portrait: Viridian Boudic Character Portrait: Wynn 'Leo' Leon Character Portrait: Phenix Sovereign Character Portrait: Indu Tzu Character Portrait: Ecru Talon Character Portrait: Jasper McTavish Character Portrait: Arsenic Arisen Character Portrait: Damask Cruci Character Portrait: Regalia Kitsu Character Portrait: Ebony Azoth Character Portrait: Sienna Seraphim
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JADE had exited the classroom with no enthusiasm, walking in twos down the hall as they talked. Arsenic and Damask walked ahead of Jasper and Talon, speaking quietly to one another as their steps fell in time to the quiet music being played over the speakers. For whatever reason, Nic had chosen to wear her hair up, a detail that hadn’t gone unnoticed by her team.

“You sat quietly and listened to the lecture today,” Dama remarked in her usual quiet fashion. She quirked a brow at Nic. “I’m impressed.” Nic scoffed playfully, placing a hand over her chest in mock offense.

“You wound me, Dama,” she exaggerated. “I have the capacity to sit still and be a good student like you.”

“But only when you want to,” Talon commented.

“Oh hush,” Nic retorted, turning to shush him in one fluid movement. She turned again and continued walking along.

“Seriously, though, Nic. You’re kinda weird,” Jasper observed nonchalantly. Nic winced a bit at the comment before recovering swiftly.

“Weird how?” she questioned, shooting him an unreadable look.

“You always do something different,” he answered instantly. “It’s like your personality is changing all the time.”

“You know me,” she responded with a loud huff of laughter, “I’m just oh so very adaptable.” The two of them laughed while Dama and Talon rolled their eyes at the pair.

As they continued to walk along, other students passed them by with nary a glance. Of course there had been talk of Talon’s duel with Indu, and of course JADE as a whole had received a bad reputation for it. The rest of the school didn’t see eye to eye with Jasper and Talon - and truthfully neither did Nic or Dama. Nic herself had agreed that it was cheating, based upon the rules agreed upon by Talon and Indu, but Jasper had a point. That’s how life is, out in the wilds. Especially in Reverie. She frowned - The other teams could do well to teach themselves that, Nic thought to herself. Dama herself had voiced her distaste of the situation after the fact, with a stern, “I understand your feelings, but there were terms for that duel and you broke them. It wasn’t necessarily an ‘anything goes’ type of match.”

As they arrived back at their dorm, schedules devoid of classes for the rest of the day, Jasper and Talon broke off from Dama and Nic, continuing down the hall towards the courtyard.

The two girls entered their room quietly, the door clicking shut softly behind them. Dama stood by the bunk they shared as Nic flopped down on the mattress with a squeak. She sat with her head resting in her hands for quite some time before she raised her gaze to Dama. The latter watched her patiently, attempting to read the distraught look on her face. Eventually Dama ended up sitting next to her, a hand placed tentatively on Nic’s shoulder.

“I’m not that weird, am I, Dama?”

There it was.

“No,” she answered softly, voice unusually laden with emotion. “You’re not.”

“Then why do I feel so out of place here?” Nic pleaded. “This school is supposed to be for the best of the best in Empyrean, and everyone just thinks of me as a slacker with no real talents.”

“They have no idea who you really are under that facade you wear,” Dama asserted, taking Nic off guard. The blue-haired teen stared at her, eyes confused.

“They’ve never seen you fight,” Dama insisted. “We’ve only been here a few weeks and classes only started recently, Nic.”

“There’s more to being a Huntress than fighting,” Nic bit back with a humorless laugh. She shrugged Dama’s hand from her shoulder, turning her face to the wall. “I want to prove to them that I deserve to be here. To show them that my teammates aren’t burdens to me.”

For a moment, Dama was quiet. Nic thought she had simply decided to let the conversation end there - and wished that she would have. Instead, after an uncomfortable shuffle, she spoke.

“Is that all we are?”

Nic tensed, realizing what she had implied far too late. Her throat closed up and her eyes stung with bitter, unshed tears. Dama seemed to take her silence as affirmation, and rose from the bed in a hurry. Nic reached after her, but found that she was already gone, the door closing solidly behind her. Nic’s outstretched hand fell limply into her lap, and all she could do was stare at the door. Frustration boiled to the surface and Nic flopped backwards onto the mattress, flinging her fist into the sheets with a grunt. She’d said the wrong thing as always. She lay an arm over her eyes.

Great.

*****

Sometime after class, team PWTR had separated to spend time relaxing. T’wulf had insisted on being with Phen at first, but Wynn had convinced her to go with him to the courtyard to do something that Phen hadn’t been able to hear. The redhead in question sat against the headboard of her shared bed with a folded book in her hand. Her eyes skipped over the words as she munched wordlessly on a chip from the near empty bowl at her side. Regalia sat at one of the only desks in their room working diligently on an assignment. She would pause occasionally to adjust her posture, and then continue on quietly. The only sounds heard in the room were the flipping of pages and the tick of a pencil writing rather aggressively. Phen’s eyes shifted from her book to her teammate, whose shoulders were raised with tension and fists balled unconsciously. She sighed softly and raised herself from the mattress.

“You won’t get anywhere if you study while your mind is preoccupied,” Phen noted, leaning on the back of Regalia’s chair. Regalia sat back, huffing.

“That isn’t going to stop me from trying,” she grumbled, clearly irritated. Phen frowned at this.

“I can tell something’s bothering you,” Phen stated as though it were a fact. Regalia laughed once and lolled her head to look her leader in the eye.

“I must be an open book,” she joked.

“Well, I do love reading,” Phen retorted without missing a beat. Regalia groaned at the joke, but smiled regardless. “Maybe we should do something to take your mind off of whatever it is?”

“Like what?” Regalia asked, stretching her arms over her head with a slight pop of her back. Phen thought for a moment before her eyes drifted to a board that lay atop their table.

“Chess?” she suggested. A devilish smile split Regalia’s face from ear to ear.

“Oh, you’re on.”

---

Within minutes the board had been set up and the two were after each other’s kings. Each move was planned and served a tactical purpose. As the two of them played together, Regalia felt the rest of the world melt away - only the two of them remained in their quiet dorm room, and the soft clicks of the pieces on the board were all that could be heard. For awhile, they played in silence. Neither one spoke until what was well over halfway through the game, when Phen groaned.

“Really? A King’s Gambit?”

“It’s a good strategy,” Regalia declared proudly, watching as Phen removed her sacrificed pawn from the board. “You could have denied it, you know.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Phen questioned as she looked over her own pieces, a hand over her mouth in concentration. Regalia looked on in amusement as Phen scanned the board as only a true tactician could.

Regalia continued to watch Phen as she pondered her next move, finding herself much more relaxed than she had previously been. Resting one elbow on her raised knee and her other hand against the floor, Regalia leaned back and observed her leader’s expression. She almost laughed at how childish and innocent Phen looked as she weighed her options, taking chess as seriously as she would have taken a life-or-death battle. It was quite endearing, really. Her gaze shifted to the window, and she watched the evening light fade below the horizon. With each moment the sun sank lower and the sky burned a brighter shade of orange until it almost matched Phen’s fiery locks. She let out a puff of laughter, and Phen looked up.

“Is something funny?” she asked, her piece - a Rook, Regalia noted - gripped between her thumb and forefinger.

“Thanks for this,” Regalia said suddenly, and a startled Phen dropped her piece with a loud clatter. She fumbled for a moment, trying her best to catch it before it eventually rolled off the table and onto the floor. Regalia burst into a fit of laughter as Phen reached all the way across the floor to grab the rook with a groan of embarrassment that she hardly stifled. Sitting back up, she slammed the piece into place and glared at Regalia who was still laughing quite hard.

“It’s not funny.”

“You looked like a scared toddler, oh my god!” Regalia sputtered through her fits of earnest laughter. Phen’s brows only furrowed further and she crossed her arms over her chest with an indignant grumble.

“You did that on purpose,” Phen accused her. Regalia sat up again, wiping tears from her eyes as she continued to giggle.

“Did what?” she questioned innocently.

“Scared me!” Phen whined, sounding very much like a child and not the grown woman that she was.

“Phen, I said thank you,” she pointed out as she reached for a bishop and moved it across the board. Her red-haired companion sneered.

“You said it really loudly,” she pouted, eyes once again looking over the board thoroughly before she grabbed at her knight and blocked the path of Regalia’s pawn.

“I wanted you to hear me,” Regalia answered truthfully. “You get really lost in thought when you play chess.” She moved her queen in to take care of the knight Phen had placed a moment ago, opening the way for her pawn and a rook she had been saving.

Phen only grunted in response, throwing another bishop in her queen’s path. Regalia smiled and took the bishop, placing Phen’s king in check.

“You actually get lost in thought a lot,” she noted as Phen moved to counter. She winced when her leader took the queen with a second well-placed knight. “What’s that about?”

Phen looked up at her quizzically, eyes searching for any reason or meaning behind the question. All she found was genuine curiosity. She sighed as she placed a pawn in the path of one of Regalia’s own. “That’s just how I am.”

“I know that,” Regalia drawled. “But why are you like that?” Phen recoiled a bit at the phrasing of the question, but answered nonetheless.

“I can’t really be as forthcoming with my emotions as others because of my semblance,” Phen admitted, her eyes focused hard on something that was beyond the board or the girl across from her. Regalia sympathized with her. “I have to be rational and calculative with everything I do, so I think about everything.” She shrugged after she finished speaking.

“I see,” Regalia mumbled as she moved to complete her strategy and place Phen’s king in check for the second time. The redhead moved the king one space to the left in response, placing it behind three pawns. She once again put Phen’s king in check by taking the right-most pawn.

“What did you thank me for?” Phen asked. Regalia looked up from the board and then back down again, watching the leader’s moves.

“For taking my mind off of it,” she uttered almost lamely. Phen laughed.

“Right; it. What was it, again?” Phen grinned when Regalia shot her a look.

“Shut it,” she warned, her tone laced with mirth. Phen grinned, moving to rise from her spot on the floor.

“Yeah, okay,” she drawled as she rose to her full height. “As much fun as this has been, I have to return a few books to the library before it gets too late.”

Regalia simply hummed in acknowledgement as she, too, rose to return to her studies. Phen gathered a book bag that looked entirely too heavy, and made her way to the door as Regalia stretched. Just as she swung it open, the hinges creaking loudly and causing both of them to flinch, Phen turned back to her with a sly grin.

“By the way - checkmate.”

She shut the door behind her just as Regalia noticed the rogue knight that had cornered her king.

*****

Damask sat, sipping water with a towel slung around her neck and her big-ass cross taking up several feet of the bench next to her. She surveyed the shooting range with a twinge of satisfaction. Seeing shattered targets had always calmed her nerves when she found herself in a mood. Taking another swig from her bottle, she capped it and set it by her feet, hanging her head between her knees as she cooled off from her workout.

It was late, as it often was when she came here. Dama found she could work much better when she was alone and it was dark. She thrived in the dimly lit training center, though now that she was still, her bitterness overcame her.

She knew that Arsenic hadn’t meant it that way, but from the start she had known that the blue-haired girl didn’t trust Talon or Jasper. After all, she had brought it to Dama’s attention multiple times after their team had been formed. It had been so unlike Nic to show that much distrust of others, especially people she was supposed to be working with. She scoffed at the thought.

She should have known that distrust would eventually extend to herself. Nic had always felt inadequate compared to others, and Dama was no exception. Arsenic was often scolded for her laid-back attitude towards everything, while Dama was praised for being quiet and doing well in her studies. But Damask knew how smart Nic was. She knew how capable she was.

What she hadn’t known was that she could be so spiteful. Her face soured at the thought of Arsenic acting even remotely as such, but the seed had been planted. She mentally kicked herself for thinking so negatively of her best friend.

Dama knew she didn’t mean it that way. But it still stung, and she was still irritated.

She reached for her crucifix again, hoisting it over her shoulders with ease and walking sluggishly towards the center of the training facility as it whirred to life around her.

*****

T’wulf still had trouble remembering why she had agreed to climb into the tree with him. Had it been his constant and unwavering insistence? Had it been his kitten eyes that he used on anyone he wanted something from? Had it been that she was simply annoyed and wanted him to be quiet for five minutes? All three?

“Why is everyone looking at us so funnily? All we did is climb a tree,” he spoke, his voice unusually shrill.

It was the last one, mostly.

T’wulf sighed, a sound muffled by the crook of her elbow that her face was currently resting in. “Wynn, we’re in the only tree in the courtyard,” she quipped, quirking a brow at him when he pouted. “You also yelled something about wanting to build a treehouse here, and I’m pretty sure everyone else thinks you actually plan to go through with that treason.” Wynn shrugged and held his hands up defensively.

“What’s wrong with wanting to have a treehouse here? I think it would look fine,” he replied, to his credit, with an earnest lilt that T’wulf hadn’t expected. It only made her incredulous expression seem all the more uncalled for as she stared at him. She elected not to bring it up, because she’d already had to suffer through thirty minutes of him talking about how he would create said treehouse, and she would rather not repeat that.

Instead, she shifted her weight and laid back against the trunk of the tree and sprawled her legs haphazardly wherever there was another branch to hold a foot or leg. “So you dragged me here just to talk in a tree?”

“Um, yeah?” he shot back, as though his reason for doing so was obvious and T’wulf was missing the point. She stared at him and blinked twice before she sighed again.

“Why?” she questioned, both genuinely curious and too exasperated to really care.

“Is it so bad that I want to get to know my teammates?” Wynn practically whined.

“But in a tree?”

“Well what do you suggest, Wulfie?” Wynn bit back, the use of her nickname intended as a joke. T’wulf scoffed.

“Uh, the roof, maybe?” Her eyes locked with Wynn’s, and he smiled sheepishly. “And don’t call me Wulfie.”

“Wait, why not?” he asked, his voice raised to a whine for the second time in thirty seconds.

“Only Phen has ever called me that, and that was when we were kids,” she explained without missing a beat. “It makes me sound too soft and… squishy.”

“Pfft!” Wynn was obviously having trouble holding back his laughter. “Squishy?”

T’wulf shook it off, instead looking to the cobblestone below and scanning the throngs of people that had decided to join them in the courtyard that evening. As the sun set, she began her usual habit of turning her ring around her finger over and over again. She watched until the sky was painted unearthly shades of red and violet, and by that point she had half a mind to jump down from the tree. Wynn seemed to notice her sudden silence and was taken aback by it.

“Do you not want to talk?” he asked. “Because we can always do this another time.”

“It’s not that,” T’wulf assured him, making eye contact. “I just don’t understand why you insist on trying to be friends with everyone.” Wynn grinned, the type that would hurt anyone else's face, and let out a laugh.

“I’m not trying to be friends with everyone. I’m just trying to be friendly,” he corrected her as though it was the greatest play on words there had ever been. T’wulf cocked her head, much the same way a confused dog would, and made a noise of amusement.

“Really? Because if that were the case you wouldn’t have half of IVRY after you,” she spoke, throwing him a knowing smirk. Wynn just laughed and looked down at the courtyard, seeming to spot something. T’wulf, curious, followed his gaze and tensed when she saw Talon and Jasper moving toward the tree. It didn’t look as though they were there to seek them out, but T’wulf sat on the branch, bewildered nonetheless.

“What would they be doing out here? I never pegged them to be the courtyard-y type,” Wynn mused with a frown.

“Maybe we should get out of the tree,” T’wulf suggested. “You know, before they decide to double-team one of us.” Wynn cracked a smile before nodding his agreement.

“After you, milady,” he spoke with a courtly tone, gesturing to the ground as though it were the marble floors of a well-kept castle. She decided to play along for once.

“Why thank you, kind sir!” she acknowledged as she dropped from the branch and onto the grass below. Wynn joined her not a second later, and they began their trek back to the dorm in comfortable silence.

At least, until a large group of students who had once been admiring the sunset spotted their favorite underclassmen, and swarmed T’wulf. She stood stock still in the center of the group, sending a pleading look Wynn’s way as he stood outside the circle and laughed.

“Sorry, Wulfie! You’re on your own,” he shouted above the chaos as he turned and made a mad dash for the first year tower. T’wulf simply frowned, slightly angered by his use of her nickname, but then turned to those that surrounded her, shaking her head with a small smile that many girls squealed at. She supposed she would have to get him for this later.

*****

The following day was no less tense among the students. They were, after all, still getting used to one another. Ebony knew she couldn’t expect a high caliber of participation from them, given their awkwardness, but still she tried to facilitate some discussion.

She strode into the classroom, the mere sight of her quieting any chatter. The discomfort was palpable. She sighed, quick and sharp, as she dropped her papers onto her desk with a loud thud. The students visibly jumped, affording her a rather base form of satisfaction.

“I don’t know how many times this has been addressed by my colleagues, but it is mandatory for first year students to sit with their assigned teams.”

Many of the students glared at her.

“I understand that some of you,” she continued, her eyes narrowed at IVRY, “do not mesh well together. That is fine, however in my classroom the rules will be followed regardless of your personal feelings.”

The students shuffled in their seats, their dislike of Ebony already apparent to the raven-haired instructor. She almost smiled in amusement. Almost.

“You may be surprised to hear that I am far more lenient with my fourth year students,” she spoke over the noise of shifting chairs. “Those particular rumors are true.” A collective whispering from the students confirmed her suspicion that her reputation had, indeed, preceded her. As usual. “Do not expect me to treat you as such, however. Both literally and figuratively, you are all still children. I will not baby you, but you will not receive the same freedoms that other instructors may be a bit too willing to hand to you.”

“That’s pretty bitchy of you,” a lone voice sounded from the left side of the room. Ebony quickly pinpointed its source. Front row, sitting just in front of team PWTR, closest to the door, as far away from the team leader as possible - Viridian.

Ebony’s stare seemed to encourage her further, and she sneered.

“So what you’re basically telling us, right off the bat, is that this class isn’t going to be any fun? Good to know - I guess I’ll be skipping it from now on.” She laughed heartily, and a few students hesitantly followed suit.

Ebony simply stared at Vi until the laughter died to just her own. “It seems that your sense of humor is not quite similar to my own, Miss Boudic.” Her tone stung like bitter cold, and all other students visibly tensed - some even bit their lips to keep themselves from gasping. “I will have you know that I also employ a much stricter attendance policy. Any unexcused absences are dealt with accordingly.”

“By doing what?” Vi spat. “Sending me to His-Royal-Ignorance to get a slap on the wrist and a stern talking to?” This elicited more laughter than before.

“Essentially,” Ebony confirmed with a slight nod of her head. “Although multiple absences will be met with confiscation of weapons, and excessive absences will be punished with expulsion.” The students were quiet once again, including Vi.

“I suggest you hold your tongue, Viridian,” Indu hissed above the quiet. Vi opened her mouth to retort, but Ebony beat her to it.

“I quite agree with Miss Tzu.” Both Indu and Viridian looked at her. “You would do well to listen to your leader, girl. She’s got a good head on her shoulders.” Indu visibly straightened at the praise, which Ebony mentally noted. She would need help to keep her team under control, and Ebony would offer that help - at a later time.

“If by a good head, you mean she’s enough of an idiot to fall for the mirror trick JADE used on her, then yeah. I guess,” Viridian spoke coldly, directing a nasty glare at Talon and Jasper. Ebony followed her gaze, noting the other two members of team JADE intentionally looking away.

“I would rather not speak of the display from either team,” Ebony answered. “Both were quite sloppy: forms wrong, stances imperfect, weapons ill-maintained.”

Both IVRY and JADE seemed to bristle at this, one team substantially more than the other, but Ebony lifted a hand to silence any possible reply.

“That is not to speak of the skill the fighters obviously possess. On the battlefield, there is little time to assess one’s own footwork, form, or weapon. From what I happened to witness, both parties are formidable opponents indeed - simply in need of improvement. However, on a true battlefield, unfortunate things can happen at a moment's notice. There are no rules. There are no feelings. There is only you…” Ebony trailed off, running her fingers along the skull of a Tarandrus kept atop a stack of dusty tomes. “... and them.”

With that, Sienna emerged from the hallway. She strode along the tiled floor and stood at Ebony’s side, grinning to those she recognized.

“It seems that Ebony here has done an excellent job of turning a disagreement into a lesson,” she remarked with a pointed look at Viridian. “Now that it’s over, I will be joining you for this first class, demonstrating for all of you along with Ebony.”

As the two women gathered their weapons and began to move into position, a student - Damask, she recalled - spoke up. “Miss Azoth - demonstrating what, exactly?”

“Demonstrating how the proper weapon can aid its owner in battle,” she spoke through her teeth as she prepared further. She shed her blazer and unbuttoned her dress shirt, revealing a black tank top underneath. Many of the students either whispered or whistled quietly at the sight of her well-muscled back and arms. Even Viridian seemed slightly impressed at the sight of her abs beneath the cloth of the top.

“Is it really necessary for you to strip half-heartedly in front of the students?” Sienna joked as she rolled her hair into a bun and fastened it into place.

“No,” Ebony admitted, doing the same with her own hair. “But I rather enjoy the freedom of movement that it offers.” Many of the students laughed at this, save for JADE and IVRY.

Ebony pointed to the hand raised just behind Viridian’s head as she continued doing small stretches.

“Is there anything specific you’ll be showing us?” Phenix questioned. Ebony shook her head.

“Aside from showcasing our own weapons, this is purely for demonstrative purposes. You can take from it what you wish - but ultimately the purpose of this is to show all of you how important it is to have a weapon that balances oneself well.”

Both instructors moved into position, each gripping their swords loosely at their sides.

When it came down to it, not a single student could have really said who made the first move of the two of them.

Sienna was on Ebony in a split second, swinging her sword in a wide arc. Ebony easily blocked the strike and limboed beneath it. She spun to Sienna’s backside, thrusting her jian forward. The younger instructor sidestepped and countered with her own thrust, blade extending far beyond its intended target. Ebony parried, the blade now in her left hand, and slammed her palm to the floor.

Sienna’s balance was thrown as the tiles began to rise in columns. Ebony traversed them as they rose, approaching her counterpart swiftly. As she watched Sienna ready her sword Ebony spun, gaining momentum. Their blades clashed with a shockwave that sent many students to the floor.

Ebony quickly withdrew, juking to Sienna’s right and grabbing her sword arm. She brought it upward and moved to strike with her left hand. Sienna jerked from her grip and ducked, swiping with her leg in retaliation. Ebony grabbed her ankle, pulling her forward as she thrust with her right hand again. Sienna straightened her back and watched the black blade pass before her eyes. She twisted her body in Ebony’s grip, yanking the older instructor with her down the newly formed mountain of tiles. As they fell, each found their balance atop a lone column and stood to catch a breath.

Sienna hadn’t seen when Ebony had inserted a vial of dust into her sword, but could tell from the way the blade was sparking with embers that it was now superheated.

The raven-haired woman leapt toward her opponent, catching her ankle with her own and throwing her off balance. The two of them fell from atop the column, struggling as they went. Sienna managed to kick Ebony away from her and landed on her feet before skidding to a halt some meters from her.

Ebony flew much farther than expected, and Sienna had thought she wouldn’t be able to regain balance before she landed. However, Ebony corrected herself expertly, slamming her jian into the floor to halt herself before she launched herself upward again using the hilt as leverage. As she rose higher, the temperature dropped and spears of ice formed around her. With a simple movement she directed them forward. Sienna moved gracefully as she evaded them, leaping over some and sliding beneath others.

Ebony landed hard, her hand already gripping the hilt of her blade, before she spun on one knee. Her sword erupted in flames, and a wave of fire was sent Sienna’s way. The latter easily flipped over it, following through with another strike carried by her momentum. Ebony rose to her feet before she jumped, placing a hand on the blade as it passed below her and kicking her legs out for balance. As she came down from the maneuver, she crossed her right leg over herself and brought the left down in a drop kick that connected with Sienna’s shoulder. Sienna stood slightly taller, not even flinching at the blow to her shoulder, and spun. Ebony mimicked the move in the opposite direction.

The duel ended with their blades to each other’s neck and resounding applause from the students. The two withdrew from one another and Sienna gave the class a grin. They both bowed simultaneously.

“Settle down,”Sienna spoke above the chaos. “While I’m sure you enjoyed the duel itself, please remember that it was not just for your entertainment. Ebony and I were holding back a great deal of our power, but this should have been enough to illustrate the point of this lesson.”

“The proper weapon in essential to the user,” Ebony continued. “Some may use bludgeons, some may use blades, others firearms. Each offers its own set of pros and cons, and one must be diligent when choosing a weapon for themselves.” The class was now listening intently, staring at the two instructors. “There are even some weapons,” she said, looking to Arsenic and Indu, “that do not fall into one category alone. Dust is one of those weapons.”

“Now that is done, please excuse me,” Sienna said, bowing to the students once again. She exited quietly.

“Our next class will be at the same time next week. We will be talking about the application of dust and semblances to weapons in order to make them more effective.” Ebony slid her arms into the sleeves of her blazer, turning away from the students to face the windows that afforded quite the view. “You may go,” she said, waving her hand dismissively.

If the chatter as the students exited was anything to go by, there would be no skipping classes from any of them. It was a good sign, as far as she was concerned.