Thursday, November 30, 2017

RWBY Volume 2: The Novelization: Dance, Dance Infiltration

RWBY: The Novelization is not endorsed by Rooster Teeth in any way. Views, opinions, and thoughts are all my own. Rooster Teeth and RWBY are trade names or registered trademarks of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. © Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC.


The night of Beacon’s dance finally arrived. The hall was decorated, the DJ was pumping out the jams, and people were making their way in, sometimes in teams, sometimes in couples, and sometimes completely stag. That was the way Ruby went after managing to trip her away across campus in her new high heels. Upon entering, Yang, who was working as the hostess, couldn’t stop from exclaiming, “You look beautiful!”
Ruby’s legs shook. “Can we have a serious talk about how Weiss fights in these?”
Yang laughed as Ruby tried to catch her balance.
Ruby wasn’t the only one not enjoying the change of wardrobe. As Sun made his way across campus, he kept scratching at his abs, itchy from wearing his shirt closed. He also complained about another wardrobe change. “Stupid, dumb neck trap!” he said, pulling on his tie which had been incorrectly placed around his neck instead of his collar. But someone else had a different opinion.
“I knew you’d look better in a tie.”
Sun turned. Standing behind him was Blake in a lavender dress and teal bow. She looked up demurely and Sun felt his heart skip a beat.
Blake walked up to him and grabbed his arm.
“So… does this mean we’re going together?”
“Technically. But my first dance is spoken for.”
“Huh?”
Sun’s question was answered when upon arriving Yang fulfilled her promise and danced with Blake. It was short, but the dance meant a lot to both girls. It marked a new depth and dimension in their friendship. Blake knew that she would be able to trust Yang more deeply, and Yang knew that she could rely more on Blake.
Once finished, Yang graciously surrendered Blake to Sun. She then joined Weiss and Ruby on the sidelines where they could hear Blake laughing and having a good time. “I told you she would come,” said Yang.
“Mission accomplished,” added Weiss.
Ruby looked at them both. “So, what do we do now?”
“Just have fun!” replied Yang as she and Weiss walked off.
“Does that mean I can change out of these stupid things and into my hood now?” But she received no answer. “Stupid, lady stilts.”
“Not enjoying yourself?” asked Ozpin, walking up.
“Uh, no. Everything’s fine. I’m just not much of a fancy… pantsy… dancey girl.”
“Well, you can’t spend your entire life out on the battlefield. Even if you may want to.”
Ruby crossed her arms. “Yeah, that lesson’s been floating around a lot lately.”
“If you think about it, fighting and dancing aren’t so different. Two partners interlocked. Although, one wrong move on the ballroom merely leads to a swollen foot.”
“Or a twisted ankle.”
“It’s not every day that friends are able to come together like this. Time has a way of testing our bonds. But it’s nights like these that can help keep them stronger than ever. Nights like these are ones we’ll never forget.”
Just then, Ruby heard the hall doors open and saw Mercury and Emerald saunter in.
 “You guys are just in time,” said Yang.
Mercury replied, “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
***
As the evening wore on with more and more students arriving and even most of the professors, Ruby decided to camp somewhere out of the way. It turned out to be a legitimate strategy as it kept her from moving which kept her from tripping over her shoes.
Someone slid up to her. “I see you’re hiding out by the punch bowl, too,” said Jaune.
“Yep.”
“To the socially awkward,” toasted Jaune.
Ruby snickered and clinked her glass against Jaune’s. “Sorry things didn’t work out with Weiss.”
“Meh. It’s… fine! Neptune’s pretty cool. I get why she went with him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, come on, not many people can pull off blue hair.”
“No, I mean, Weiss came to the dance alone.”
Jaune choked on his punch. “What?!” he sputtered.
“Yeah. She said she had too much to focus on to worry about boys.”
Jaune looked around, not believing Ruby. He saw Weiss by herself trying desperately to fix a white rose that would not stand up straight like the others in a vase. It fell over and Weiss tensed.
Both Jaune and Weiss heard laughing. They looked and saw Neptune with Blake and Sun, making them laugh. Jaune looked back at Weiss, the pain and longing plain on her face.
Jaune suddenly became very angry. He didn’t know why, but Neptune had turned down a girl that he would’ve gladly gone to the dance with. What could have possibly been his reason? Jaune didn’t know, but he was going to find out. And if necessary, he was going to fix Neptune’s wagon.
“Hold my punch,” he said to Ruby as he walked off.
Ruby did so. But after seeing Jaune leave, her mind returned to the sweet, hospitable boredom that it had been engrossed with before he showed up. So engrossed was Ruby that she didn’t notice when she took a sip from Jaune’s glass.
Jaune moved through the thick crowd of students like an assassin. He gently pushed people away and kept his eyes solely on his target, but then a crimson angel crossed his view. It was Pyrrha, and for a second, Jaune couldn’t believe what he was feeling. He had never seen Pyrrha look so beautiful before. She was wearing a backless, crimson gown. His heart beat quickly.
Jaune noticed something else: Pyrrha was alone and she looked sad. Her expression clashed with her ravishing appearance, and it didn’t seem right to Jaune to see her be so sad as if a fundamental rule of the universe was being broken. Jaune regarded Neptune one more time before deciding to follow Pyrrha up and out onto the balcony. For a second, Jaune thought that maybe she was meeting someone up there, but there was no one around.
“Hey, Pyrrha,” he said unsteadily. What was wrong with him? Why was he so nervous?
“Hello, Jaune,” said Pyrrha in a tone he didn’t recognize.
“You okay?” he asked, crossing to her. “I haven’t seen you tonight.”
“Arrived late I’m afraid.”
“Well… you look really… You look real lovely.”
“Thank you,” she said with a slight blush.
“Your date isn’t going to beat me up for saying that, is he?”
“I think you’re safe for tonight.”
“So, where is the guy?” said Jaune, trying to sound casual.
Pyrrha paused. “There is no guy.”
“Heh—what?”
“Nobody asked me.”
“But… you’re Pyrrha Nikos. How could nobody—”
 Pyrrha turned away. “I’ve been blessed with incredible talents and opportunities. I’m constantly surrounded by love and praise, but when you’re placed on a pedestal like that for so long, you become isolated from the people who put you there in the first place.
“Everyone assumes I’m too good for them. That I’m simply on a level that they can’t attain. It’s become impossible to form any sort of meaningful relationship with people.
“That’s what I like about you, Jaune. When we first met, you didn’t even know my name. You treated me just like anyone else. And thanks to you, I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. I guess what I’m trying to say is… you’re the kind of guy I wish I was here with. Someone who just saw me for me.”
Pyrrha gave Jaune one last doleful look before leaving. She had hoped that after hearing Jaune wouldn’t be attending the dance with Weiss that he might ask her. But that hadn’t happened. She went anyway because she thought she still might be able to have a good time. But so far, seeing Jaune and admitting everything that was bothering her, her night hadn’t been very enjoyable at all.
Jaune turned. “Pyrrha! Wait!” But she was gone and instead Neptune was in her place.
“Hey, Jaune, right?”
Jaune sighed. “Yeah.”
“This party’s pretty lame, huh? I mean, ballroom dancing. Psh! Still, cute girls though, huh?”
Jaune snapped, his former ire rekindled. “Is that all you think about?!”
“Huh?”
“Do you even care about the girls you’re hitting on? Or how they feel about you?”
“Whoa. Where’s this coming from?”
“How could you just turn her down like that?!”
“Who?”
“Weiss!”
Neptune scratched the back of his head. “I, uh… it, uh… it just didn’t work out. You know?”
“What?! You think you’re too cool?! Too many options?! Weiss Schnee asked you to the dance; what in the world could possibly keep you from go—”
“I can’t dance!” said Neptune, looking away.
Jaune paused, bewildered. “Beg your pardon.”
“I can’t dance, man!” he wailed.
“But…” This didn’t make sense to Jaune. “But, you’re so cool.”
“Thank you. I try really, really hard.”
Jaune paused. The logic of the situation was pretty illogical. “You’d rather break a girl’s heart and go to a dance alone than admit to everyone that you can’t move in rhythm to music?”
“That about sums it up, yeah.”
“Well. I certainly feel a lot better about myself.”
“Please don’t tell anybody. Look, if you want Weiss, she’s all yours.”
Jaune sighed uncomfortably. He knew what he had to do, and he’d do it for Weiss. But for some reason, it wasn’t as difficult as he imagined. “Do you like her?”
“Yeah. I mean, I don’t know her too well yet, but she seems pretty cool.”
“Then, just go talk to her. No pickup lines, no suave moves; just be yourself. I’ve heard that’s the way to go.”
“Yeah, but—”
“Hey! You don’t have to look cool all the time. In all honesty, if you could be a little less cool, I’d really appreciate it.”
Now, Neptune paused. Jaune was making a lot of sense. And he supposed he could dial his coolness down a little. “Yeah. Okay.”
“Go talk to her,” said Jaune. “I guarantee it will make her night.”
“Thanks. You’re a really cool guy, Jaune.”
“Alright. Don’t lie to my face.”
After Neptune left, Jaune sighed again. “Alright. Only one thing left to do.”
***
Inside, Yang was on the second floor of the hall, overlooking the dance as it progressed. She felt very relaxed and content in the moment. She was soon joined by Ruby. “Y’know,” Yang began, “I think we really needed this.”
Ruby looked down at the dance floor. She saw Nora and Ren dancing, Blake and Sun dancing, and even Penny managed to show up. She was being protected by the two Atlesian guards from the other day, but that didn’t prevent her from busting a move solo between them.
“Yeah,” said Ruby, at last. “And you did a great job planning it, too.”
“Aw! Thanks!” said Yang, crushing Ruby in a one armed hug. “It wasn’t all me though. Weiss did a lot, too.”
Ruby had forgotten about Weiss. She stopped struggling long enough to look for her. Ruby saw her sitting along the far wall where all the single girls sat, perched on the edges of their seats, desperate for anyone to ask them to dance when suddenly, Neptune approached. He seemed nervous at first, but Weiss offered the seat next to her and he took it.
Yang sighed. “Tomorrow it’s back to work.”
“Well,” said Ruby with a shrug, “I’m sure we can handle whatever gets thrown at us.”
Then there was a rising chorus of laughter. It turned into outrageous guffaws shortly after.
Ruby looked down. “Except for that.”
Another person who had taken note of the strange change in the dance atmosphere was Pyrrha. For some reason, as the laughter got louder, it got closer to her from behind. She turned and couldn’t believe her eyes. “Jaune…?” she said with a slight smile.
Jaune was standing there wearing a prom dress. It didn’t flatter him, and what musculature he had clashed with the dress’ inherent beauty. It amazed Pyrrha that he had found one that fit him. It was even more amazing that he got it on such short notice. The only thing missing was a good set of heels; Jaune had opted for his regular sneakers instead probably because he couldn’t find a set of heels to match his eyes.
Jaune shrugged. “A promise is a promise.”
Pyrrha couldn’t stop herself. Her lilting laughter joined the chorus. “Jaune! You didn’t have to!”
“Hey. An Arc never goes back on his word. Now, do you wanna stand there and laugh at me, or do you wanna dance?” He offered her his hand.
Pyrrha took it. “I would love to dance.”
Jaune grabbed Pyrrha and pulled her in. She let out an excited squeal, and when Jaune took the lead and swept her away, Pyrrha felt herself swoon.
Somewhere in the background, Nora said, “Ren! This! Is! Happening!”
“Wait. What is happening?”
Nora didn’t explain as she grabbed his hand and led him after Jaune and Pyrrha who had joined the latest dance craze called the Monty. It was a type of line dance composed of sharp kicks, body rolls, and fancy arm flourishes. Everyone in the school was sufficiently impressed with JNPR’s skill—it was almost like they had practiced earlier. Eventually, Jaune spun Pyrrha away from the line to dance with her by himself.
“I had no idea you could dance,” said Pyrrha. Although she did suspect something when Jaune’s footwork improved by leaps and bounds when his cuts hadn’t.
“Yeah, well, these things tend to happen when you grow up with seven sisters,” he explained before dipping her.
Not too far away enjoying the spectacle that Jaune had made of himself was Weiss and Neptune. They kept one eye on each other and the other on Jaune. They were both too embarrassed to admit that they’d rather watch him dance in his dress than talk. But Weiss had a question burning in her mind. “So, what made you change your mind?”
“Huh?”
“You said you were embarrassed before. What made you come talk to me?”
“You’re looking at him,” said Neptune as Jaune pranced around Pyrrha. “You’ve got some good friends looking out for ya.”
Weiss had never considered Jaune a friend. Just that one-guy-who-would-not-stop-with-the-advances-all-due-to-a-silly-misunderstanding. But maybe he had her best interests in mind after all. Seeing her happy was more important to him than having her for himself. No. Not only that, Weiss admitted. He was also making Pyrrha happy; happier than she had been in a while. Her crush on Jaune didn’t get past Weiss. So perhaps Jaune was looking out for everyone and didn’t actually care about the perks of her last name. She may have misjudged him.
On the second floor of the hall also enjoying the show was Emerald and Mercury. Emerald said to the air, “It seems like all the dancers have partners.”
“How long do I have?” came Cinder’s voice, technologically modified.
“We should probably be home by midnight just to be safe,” replied Mercury.
“I’ll keep my eye on the clock.”
At about the same time, Ruby had decided that it was mission accomplished on all fronts. There was no need for her to be there any longer. She bid the hall a bow and turned to leave, unnoticed by Mercury and Emerald. But as she exited, she saw someone running along the dorm building roofs dressed in all black. That didn’t seem right to Ruby as everyone should have been at the dance. Her eyes narrowed and she decided to follow the figure.
Ruby trailed the mysterious stranger all the way to Beacon’s CCT. The trail seemed to have gone cold there, but then Ruby noticed the Atlesian guard, knocked unconscious and lying in the bushes.
Ruby knew then that something was definitely wrong. She pulled out her scroll and entered in her locker’s code. Within seconds, the locker crashed into the ground near her, revealing her scythe. Ruby grabbed it and proceeded inside. There she found four more Atlesian guards all knocked unconscious and one of them was bleeding.
Ruby looked around the atrium trying to discern where the assailant had gone. Unfortunately, there was no sign of him. The only place he could have gone was up.
Ruby called the elevator down where she found two more guards. One of them was still conscious. “Who did this?!”
“I don’t know,” the guard groaned. “But she’s upstairs. In the Communications room.”
Ruby boarded the elevator and prepared herself for battle.
Meanwhile, up in the communications room, Cinder was fast at work at one of the terminals. She inserted her scroll and downloaded the files that had been specially prepared for Beacon’s mainframe. Despite the quick and dirty hack, Cinder’s infiltration didn’t raise any alarms which was fortunate for her as Emerald re-opened communications. “A party guest is leaving.”
Cinder sighed. “Which one?”
“Ironwood.”
“I guess the general’s had enough fun for one night,” quipped Mercury. “Should we intercept?”
A queen Chess piece appeared on the monitor in front of Cinder before it spread to all of the others in the room. “No. We’re done here.” Cinder went to leave when she heard the elevator arrive. She quickly ducked behind the desk.
Ruby stepped out slowly, looking around. “Hello? Is anyone there? Hello?” Suddenly, she stumbled. She looked down at her shoes and cursed them.
A smile spread on Cinder’s face. What a coincidence. Cinder very vividly remembered how Ruby and Glynda had deterred Torchwick several months ago and she remembered the fight they put up. But with Ruby alone, and in shoes she obviously had no idea how to move in, this was going to be sweet—a chance to settle the score.
Cinder stepped out from behind the desk.
“Excuse me,” said Ruby. “It’s not a masquerade party. So why don’t you take off the mask?”
Cinder paused for a second. That was the first thing out of Ruby’s mouth? No challenge? No how dare you? No mention of all the wounded guards? What a strange girl.
“Well?!” said Ruby.
Cinder grabbed one of the Dust canisters on her and spread the Dust out in front of her. Glass shards formed in mid-air, and Cinder launched them.
Ruby spun her scythe, deflecting them. She then open-fired, but just as Cinder did when they first fought, she blocked each individual shot, her clothes glowing every time she did. Ruby flourished her scythe and leapt at Cinder.
Cinder jumped back, dodging the attack. She summoned two glass swords made from Dust, connected their ends to make a bow, and fired three newly minted Dust arrows.
Ruby jumped back to avoid the explosion and tripped over her heels again. She suddenly had the feeling that she might be in over her head.
Cinder had the same feeling, but found it a pleasure. That was until the elevator dinged again with a new arrival.
Ruby looked back and recognized the grizzled visage of General Ironwood. Ruby smiled, knowing the odds had been tipped in her favor. But when she went to face the mystery attacker, she was gone.
Cinder got down to Beacon’s main hall as fast as she could. She was still breathing a little hard as she transformed her spy clothes into a magnificent black dress. She came in through the back entrance and disappeared into the crowd of students just in time as a couple of guards barged in and lost sight of her.
On the dance floor, Mercury and Emerald were managing their way through a waltz. “So, what do you think?” asked Mercury.
“I think Cinder had better hurry. I’m a little worried.”
“I meant, what do you think of my dancing?”
“Why would I care about your dancing?”
“C’mon. Don’t deny that you’re enjoying yourself.”
Emerald scowled.
“Whatever. You want me.”
Suddenly, Emerald felt a tap on her shoulder. Cinder, as innocent as a virgin, said, “Excuse me. May I cut in?”
“Of course,” said Emerald, missing the context.
Cinder gave her a slight critical look, but didn’t hesitate to wrap her arms around Mercury.
He smiled; this was truly his lucky night. “And how’s your night been?”
“Hmm, a little more… exciting than expected.”
“Should we be worried?”
“Hardly,” said Cinder with a half laugh. “They’ll be scratching their heads long after we finished what we came here for.”
“So then, what now?”
“Enjoy the rest of the night. After all, it is a party.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Mercury, smiling.

******************
 Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
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RWBY Volume 5 Chapter 6 Critique and Review


Hey, everyone.

Before I get into my critique and review, I have a special announcement regarding my RWBY posts. After December, I'm going to take a break from writing about RWBY. I've ridden the show hard the past five or six months, and it's given as good as it's gotten. As a result, I need a break from it. Seriously, I bleed red, white, black, and yellow. I feel like I live the show. I don't know how long my break will be, but I may still sporadically post RWBY Speculations here or there, they just won't be regular. However, before I go on my break, I will finish writing my critique and review series for Volume 5 including a full review of Volume 5 in general. I'm also going to finish uploading the edited chapters for RWBY: The Novelization from Volume 2, and I will finish A RWBY Christmas Carol as well. Then, there will be my break. But do not weep. I will have a special gift for all you alls come Christmas. Now, the critique.

Critique

Scene 1: Recruiting

What I Liked: Alright, so not much happens in this episode, and we're left with more questions than answers, which is all right because I'm in a rush, and I've got a bum finger this week. But there was only thing to like about this scene and that was that Lanipator, a member of Team Four Star, the VA for Dragon Ball Z Abridged's Vegeta and Piccolo, voiced a character this episode. At first, I thought it was Jack, don't ask me why, but I'm glad to see it was actually Lanipator. I wonder if he's a RWBY fan and how he got on the show. Plus, his character looks a little like Piccolo.


What Could've Been Better: So, I didn't really understand the significance behind Qrow paying Shiro's debt. Was it because of his debt that he was doing a job and that's why he was away, or was he simply away to escape his debt? And is that the reason why he wasn't around/taking his time with a job? It could've been explained better.

Questions/Insights: Now, this scene leaves us with three questions. 1. How much is a lien? Shiro's debt sounded exorbitant, but Qrow was able to pay it off with a single card, so how much lien comes to a card? This is one of those world building elements that the show has never really fleshed out, and it really is sort of a bummer because I do feel like we're missing something. 2. Were all those huntsmen really out on jobs? One said the job was terminated a week ago, whatever that means. That could mean the huntsman is dead, the job is over, or the job was deleted, but most likely it means the huntsman is dead. And I have to wonder, are all those hunstmen really out on jobs, or has something more sinister happened to them? 3. And finally, with Shiro's name cleared, will we be seeing him again? Will he show up at the end of the volume and save Qrow's bacon along with Piccolo? It seems that way.

Scene 2: The "Truth"

What I Liked: So, this was the bulkiest scene in the episode, and probably the least satisfying, for me anyways. But there were still some good stuff about it such as when Weiss told Raven that she's really annoying or when Yang defended her father and Qrow. But, one of the really good things about this scene is that Raven didn't lie to Weiss and Yang; she told them exactly what we know. And she didn't even put a spin on it. Another thing I liked was we got to find out that Raven can also transform herself, her and Qrow's abilities are magic, and we got to find out why Raven and Qrow joined Beacon. All pretty good reveals, but they weren't the orgasmic revelations I was hoping for. But there was one last great thing about this scene and that was when Raven made the Terminator reference when she said of Salem, "she can't be stopped, she can't be reasoned with, and she will never rest until humanity crumbles at her feet."

What Could've Been Better: Now, this scene has a lot of problems, or at least it's the scene with the most problems starting with the table on which they're served their tea. It is far too high off the ground for people sitting on the floor. And why was Raven pushing the tea so hard to begin with? Don't get me wrong, I love tea, but what was her deal? Was it drugged? And I don't recall team RWBY ever getting into trouble and Oz turning a blind eye. The only time that really happened was the food fight. Other than that though, team RWBY has cleaned up every other mess that they either started or fell in to. So Raven can cram it.


 

But there are two big problems with this scene: 1. Predictably, Raven's attitude to the situation of the Grimm and Salem is one of despair rather than one of fighting back like Qrow's. Which of course begs the question, why does Qrow fight and she doesn't? Does he know something she doesn't, or is he just more hopeful? 2. Yang and Weiss didn't ask the real relevant question to Raven's revelation. Yang did want to ask how and why, but the really important question is so what? Why does it matter? Why does it matter that Ozpin manipulated the system to put himself in charge? If Ozpin is a good man and has never led Yang or Weiss astray, why would they side with Raven over Qrow? Besides which, by being reunited with Qrow, they can hear another version of the story that likely isn't as bitter as Raven's version and ergo, will have more truth in it. But I will let Yang and Weiss off the hook for not catching this because they are only 18. I wouldn't have caught on to that when I was 18.

Questions/Insights: So, thanks to the reveal that Yang has seen Raven in bird form elsewhere, we now have to ask ourselves, where else has Yang seen Raven? Where and when? And why was Raven there? We also have to deal with the tricky question of, is there a noticeable difference in forms between Qrow's and Raven's because that will make it much easier to spot her. Also, is Qrow's crow form how he was able to spy on Salem? Because I don't know about you, but there's not much around Salem's Evil Castle to hide behind if you're a spy. But, the real question we have to ask is what will Yang and Weiss do once they find out that Raven was telling truth when they talk to Oz/Oscar? I don't think they'll leave, but Yang could be awfully confused and the next time she meets her mother, she might be quite hesitant to fight her.

Scene 3: Sisters

What I Liked: Ah! At last, another reunion. Actually, I was surprised it happened so soon. I didn't think Yang and Weiss were going to get out of that bandit camp. I thought they were going to be prisoners or forced to help them until they ran into Qrow, Oscar, and RNJR down the line. But it's all good.

What Could've Been Better: There are two things that bothered me about this scene. The first is the joke about Ruby overcooking the meat. Why was this joke in there? I thought it pointless, especially if it was only there to build tension. And secondly, I am bothered that Weiss needed an invite to join the hug. It bothers me how long that hug went on between Ruby and Yang before Weiss joined. And it does bother me a little that Weiss hugged them both rather than just Ruby. I wanted Weiss to give Ruby a hug like she gave Yang, but 10x more forceful. They were partners after all.

Questions/Insights: There's only question that I have about this scene: who's going to clean up all that broken tea ware? Was it necessary for Ruby to drop it in the first place? First they cook all the food and now they can't drink tea. What a waste.


 
Review:

Well, this episode wasn't terrible like Chapter 5, but it wasn't super great either. I would say it was full of schmaltz and confusion. It kind of felt like another transition episode like we got last week, but at the least something definitive happened this week. And there were warm feels, but still... meh.

It's actually quite strange now that I think about how strongly this volume started and how it seems to be losing steam now in the middle of the season. Part of me wants to say the volume isn't paced right, but another part of me wants to say, hang on a second mate, you can't say that until you see where this is heading. That's one of the biggest problems with episodic releases of a story; you're never sure about pacing until you can see the whole thing altogether. But the good news is that we haven't gotten a World of Remnant episode yet, and we probably won't, which is exciting because if they continue pumping out Volume 5 like they are, the season will be over before the end of December. And that's great. But, that's it for now.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Flash Stories & Poetry Day 25: Legend "The Author"

 
Hey, everyone.

I don't have anything clever to say today other than I hope I get legend or something unique when I spin the wheel as I can't imagine writing a legitimate short story about how important it is to write earnestly. Right.

Wheel of Genres, turn, turn, turn! Tell me the genre I will discern!





Today's topic is... Legend!

Hey! Look at that! What do you know? No, I didn't get legend. I got drama. But I'm going to choose to ignore that and write a legend anyway. I'm also starting to think that maybe weekly themes is a bad idea if they cause me to just ignore the decision of the wheel, unless the weekly theme is sort of generic. But anyway, a legend about writing.

Thirty minutes on the clock: 30:00. And... go!

When the universe was young and the planet still fresh, long before the time of man, the Creator made a being called the Author. The Author was charged with the responsibility of writing the fates of men, empires, and the path of history. Any time someone was born, died, went to war, rose to greatness, or fell, it was because the Author had written it to be so. Everyday, all day, he wrote in a castle on an island far out in the ocean so no one could interfere with the proper course of events.

One day, there was a farmer who had a son. According to the farmer, it was his son's duty to grow up and inherit the farm, but the son didn't want to inherit the farm. He wanted to be a hero. The farmer told his son that he couldn't be a hero, that every man was predestined to a fate by the Author. The son listened to his father when he was young, but as he grew, so too did his determination.

When he was still a young man and working out in the fields, he left his home without saying a word to his parents and began travelling. He came across a town where he found a mystic and demanded to know where he might find the Author. The mystic told him of a ship in the harbor that was headed out to sea, and that if the young man climbed aboard the ship and survived the storm it would pass through, he would find his way to the Author.

The young man went off and found the ship. He joined its crew and it carried him across the great sea. One night, the sailors were telling lies and talking about their broken dreams. When it came time for the young man to speak, he said he was on a journey to find the Author so he might become a hero. Some of the sailors laughed, others shouted at him, but they all told him the same thing: no man could change his fate. The young man persisted in his desire, and some of the men became angry. Some said they were now cursed for the young man had deserted his fate and had now put them all on a dangerous path from which there was no escape. They planned to throw him overboard to appease the gods, but a storm was suddenly upon them.

The sailors did what they could to control the ship and keep it together, but the men were thrown overboard. When things looked their most dire, the young man hid himself below deck and waited out the storm. When it came to an end, the young man came back up to the deck to find he was the only one aboard, and that the sails and wheel were irrevocably damaged. He had no way of fixing them and so he found himself at the mercy of the currents.

For five days and five nights he drifted out to sea. Several times he renounced his desire and prayed for death, prayed to be released from the curse he had cast upon himself. But after the five days and five nights, on the sixth morning, the ship ran aground on an island where a huge castle stood. The young man left the ship and entered the castle. He searched its great cavernous halls, but found no one there. He searched the rooms and still no one was there. He sat on the throne and thought himself a fool along with the whole world for believing in the legend of the Author. But as he quieted his mind, he faintly heard a scratching.

The young man followed the sound deep into the bowels of the castle. At the end of a hall, he found a small room where upon a desk was an old man, hunched over a scroll that was as long as time. The young man approached and said, "Are you the Author?" But the old man didn't respond. The young man asked his question again, but again there came no answer. The young man stepped closer to the scroll and suddenly saw the old man's hand change from writing action to dialogue.

"I am the Author," he said as he wrote. "I am the one who writes the fates of men."

"I want to change my fate," said the young man as he saw the Author scribble those words.

"I know," said the Author. "I'm the one who has made it so that you may change your fate by writing your path here."

"I wouldn't have made it here if you hadn't written it?" asked the young man.

"That's correct."

"But why did you allow me to make it here? Why do you allow me to choose my fate rather than write it yourself? Why did you kill those on the ship?"

"I have sympathy for all the characters in life, but some are foolish. Some I choose to let die for they are mundane, but for those in whom I see true greatness, I let them write their own story. It only seems right; your life, your story. Your story, your life."

"I can become a hero because I have chosen it?"

"And because I allow it. But, you won't be the hero you think you will be. You will go out from here and tell the people what I have told you. Some of them will choose to live as heroes and as great men, and some will continue to follow the path set before them. But better it is that some should have what they want than none of them."

"What sort of hero is that?" asked the young man.

"The sort of hero that allows for the birth of other heroes. The hero that sets the path for those to follow. You are the first cause in a great movement. Now, go. You and I both have work to do."

And so, the young man left the castle and boarded the ship. The current took him back to land and he told his tale about what the Author. Some people listened, others did not. But for those who did, they found their paths cleared and they became the heroes they longed to be.

***
 
Stop the clock! A minute twenty left. That took longer than I thought it would. I also didn't have the clearest idea about where this story was headed, but I think I made my point. I'm sure many other writers will be able to see the parallel between this legend and the way they write themselves occasionally. And hopefully the lesson of this legend isn't lost those writers who can't see the parallel.
 
But anyway, that's it for today. If you want to use the wheel I made, you should be able to access it here. And if you have the time, please check out my books for sale on Amazon which you can find through my author page. The link is below. Also, I reworked my Patreon page, so why not give it a look and consider becoming my patron. I would appreciate it.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Flash Stories & Poetry Day 24: Creative Non-fiction "How I Became A Writer"

 
Hey, everyone.

I'm still writing about the importance of writing earnestly and for whatever reason, I'm still procrastinating. Oh, boy. Anyway, today will be a creative non-fiction day where I shall regale you of stories from my creative past and what experiences led to me becoming a writer. So...

Today's topic is... Creative Non-Fiction.

Thirty minutes on the clock: 30:00. And... go!

I don't remember entirely how it happened, but I do know that there were a few experiences that led to me becoming serious as a writer. There are events and stories going back to my grade school and middle school days, but those are paltry compared to what happened when I made it into high school. Now, when I was in high school, I was still under the impression I would become an engineer like my Old Man. Not because that's what I wanted to do, but because I was good in science and math. My future looked bright in both subjects. But then, something happened my Sophomore year.

In my second year of high school, which was much easier than my first, I took Honors Literature. The funny thing about this class was that the two main things we learned about were short stories and poetry. One of our big assignments for the first semester was to write a short story about something that happened to us but from the perspective of somebody other than ourselves. I wrote about the time I thought I was being clever and told my parents that my grandparents had agreed to take me to the church festival when actually they hadn't. See, the church festival was just down the street, but my parents wouldn't let me go alone. They eventually found out about my little lie when they thought it was getting late and called my grandparents. I was grounded for a month. Anyway, I also want to say that there was another short story I wrote then, but I don't remember what it was about. All I remember is that it had to be less than 750 words which was difficult for me at the time.

Later that year, we had to write poetry and I came up with some banging pieces and put it together in a volume called Poetry that Rocks!!!!! I was getting big into Rock and Heavy Metal at the time. Anyway, the experience showed me how good of a writer I could be, and I learned to love literature. This was also the year I started to really get into history. I was still good in math and science, but now I was equally competent in English and history.

Come Junior year, I found myself at Bishop Foley because Notre Dame was closed. One of the big differences between the two schools was that Foley was more difficult academically. I actually slipped a little in my science courses, that year I took Chemistry, and I almost failed my math class, Honors Geometry and Trig II; that was the first and last honors math course I ever took. Unfortunately, I only did marginally better in my AP Euro History course and Honors Brit. Lit, but I had fun in those classes versus Chemistry and Honors Geometry where I didn't. Chemistry eventually levelled out, but Honors Geometry continued to plague me. I have no idea why I struggled so much in that class, but I did. I took regular Pre-Calc. the next year and was the second best in all classes across the board. I was almost the best in fact, but that's a different story.

Going back to Honors Brit Lit, I had a little meeting with my teacher Ms. Welicko after our first little writing homework assignment. She told me I was a strong writer and had a talent for the "craft." I was also one of the few boys from ND that she liked. Apparently, the rest of them pissed her off. Anyway, Ms. Welicko was the moderator for an after school club called Rhapsody which was the school's literary/art/photography publication. We would collect people's works as well as add our own, and then make a magazine of sorts out of it and sell it at the end of the year, sort of like the school's paper, but we only came out with a single issue every year. I wrote a few pieces for that and that gave me more of a taste for writing, not to mention all the good Brit lit I read in class.

Senior year I took AP English and in my second semester, I took Creative Writing where I really got to cut my teeth on writing. My teacher, whose name I can't spell so I'll just call her Mrs. S., was really impressed with my writing. Like, really, really impressed. One of the best compliments I've ever gotten on my writing came from her, "If I had known a student of your skill was in the school, I would've hunted you down and made you join the paper." Mrs. S. was the moderator for our school's paper. But I mean, talk about a feather in your cap. I didn't win "Best Writer" award in the Senior elections, but recognition from Mrs. S. is probably better. I even won an award, which surprised me, for my creative writing. There was an awards/honors dinner at the end of the year, and I was named the winner for my work. Suck on that, Pat Higgins. (No, but Pat was a cool guy.)

Skipping ahead into college, I took the Fall semester off so I could try to sell Cutco professionally--didn't work out, but I was back in school my Winter semester. Unfortunately, I hadn't been to see my counselor and didn't know what classes I needed to take, so I registered for them all blindly on the spot. One of the classes was a Creative Writing class. My professor, Dr. Brooks, was my first encounter with a real writer in the wide open world. She was a bit weird, but I enjoyed the hell out of her class. She loved my writing, especially the creative non-fiction I wrote talking about my high school crush. I hadn't re-read it before I submitted it and I thought it sounded whiny. I thought my classmates were going to tear me a new one when my piece was workshopped. They didn't; they thought it was hilarious, and my professor admitted that I had a unique perspective that lends itself well to writing: the perspective of being on the outside and looking in.

When the class came to a close, Dr. Brooks gave us all feedback on our writing over the semester and one of her pieces to me was she said she wouldn't be surprised if I ended up being published some day. That made me feel really good. And while it is true that I am published today, that is self-publishing which doesn't quite have the prestige of traditional which is probably what she was talking about. But regardless, because of that class, because of the three previous years I had in high school, I was "ruined." I was on the path to become a writer. Engineering and reliable careers be damned! So, what's all this got to do with you, dear reader?

I didn't write this piece to relive my glory days, but to impart a bit of advice. I graduated in 2007 and I took that creative writing class in '08. I only recently self-published my own books and I only recently started keeping a blog. I wasted 9 to 10 years of my life doing the easy thing rather than working on my talent and skill. Just think of how far I would be if I had given myself the beans and started writing as if it were a career and not just some thing that I'm going to do somewhere in the foggy future. And that's the point of this story: don't rest, don't sit, don't do the easy thing; for the love of God, write. Write, damn you! Everyday is an opportunity for greatness; use it!

***
 
Stop the clock. Little less than a minute left. I must admit, that isn't the glorious ending I wanted, but it does get my point across. Hopefully, you've learned something from my story.
 
But anyway, that's it for today. If you have the time, please check out my books for sale on Amazon which you can find through my author page. The link is below. Also, I reworked my Patreon page, so why not give it a look and consider becoming my patron. I would appreciate it.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

INTJs and Politics II: An Insight into Lenin's Mind


Hi, everyone.

I'm sorry about writing about INTJs and politics again rather than doing something developmental like I said I would, but I only just started writing such a post yesterday and I was pretty groggy as I did so, so it wasn't very good, plus I can make the scope of it much bigger. This post however, my ass was on fire when I wrote it, so I think it's better. So what is this post?

Well, on Thanksgiving we had my uncle over and he's always talking politics. Always has some idea on how to make the current situation better; don't we all? Anyway, one of the systems of government he disparaged was theocracy which led to an argument between my Old Man and I because don't disparage theocracies and I don't think they're such a bad idea so long as the right religion is in power. In fact, as I see it, religion already is in power. Let me explain.

See, I don't believe in separation of church and state. Now, when I say that, what I mean is I don't believe in the existence of separation of church and state. Why not? Because if a person votes along the lines of their conscience, and their conscience is based off a particular morality, then the church, by proxy of the power of the people, is involved in the affairs of the state, and ergo, they are not separate. And ergo, we have a theocracy. The church doesn't need to be in "official" control for a theocracy to exist; they only need to "possess" power over the hearts and minds of the people.

This is one of the reasons why I never want to hold public office, and not because of the power of the church, but because all the power of the state is actually in the hands of the people and not in elected office. Some may say that the power of the people, by a majority, put me in office, but that same power can take me out. Presidents, senators, representatives, etc. are a reflection of the attitudes, beliefs, and will of the people; not the power itself. Trump is president because we allow him to be. But no one has to acknowledge him as president. He's only president so long as we say he is.





This reminds me of an argument I had with a friend of mine before the 2008 election. He wanted me to vote for Obama, and I wasn't going to. Nothing could make me. He felt so strongly that voting for Obama was the right thing to do, he pestered and pestered and pestered. And I begged him to stop, to which he said, "No, I beg you to vote for Obama!" That straw broke the camel's back and I unfriended (< autocorrect had nothing to say about that) him from Facebook. He just couldn't get it through his head that I wasn't going to vote along political lines that are contrary to my core beliefs. Thus, so long as theology, of any sort, is the guiding philosophy behind people's voting and political stances, I'll never believe in the existence of separation of church and state. And to ask people to do so is asinine to the highest extent because you're asking people to act contrarily to their consciences, and that's not something people just do.

Getting back to my father and what this has to do with Lenin, my father kept making the argument that all theocracies have failed because corruption eventually seeps in, to which I argued that it wouldn't if you put the right zealots in power and had huge punishments for those who were corrupt. Makes sense to me. To which my Old Man said to me, "Well, in theory, yes. But in theory, communism works." And then I had my ah-ha moment.

Some of you may remember that I wrote a post about INTJs and politics, about how INTJs identify: conservative, liberal, or independent. And for the life of me, I could not fathom how any INTJ can identify as liberal. I still can't. But by looking at the ideals of theocracy and communism, and seeing that in a perfect world, they would both work, I was able to get an insight into Lenin's mind. See, he commented on politics from a perfectionistic ideology, and I've said somewhere, if not on this blog then in my head, that the reason why communism doesn't work is because it doesn't take into account the human element, that is to say that humans are imperfect; they are weak, lazy, tempted, greedy, etc. But the reason why Lenin continued on with his philosophy, and the reason why I maintain mine, is because we're both looking at both forms of government from a perfectionistic angle, which is a very INTJ thing to do--we're obsessed with perfection! If you're not perfect, or you're not striving to be perfect, you're trash! (You may remove yourself from my sight.)





The other force at play here is "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander." If it works for me, there's no reason why it shouldn't work for you. And that's the philosophy that hilariously and sadly drives all sides of the political spectrum: "If you stubborn assh*les just did things our way, there'd be no problems whatsoever!" That's basically the philosophy that my Obama thumping friend believed in. And this is one of the reasons why subjectivity is such a dangerous concept. The idea that you can't judge someone because they're doing what's right by them. No! Of course you can! I don't know if it's because I'm an INTJ or a Catholic, probably both, but I believe in objectivity; I believe in a single, absolute, all-encompassing (catholic) truth that everyone can live by. The scary thing is that someone's right. And we better hope it's someone who is merciful and understanding, otherwise most of us are f*cked.

Anyway, I still maintain that so long as we allow our consciences to guide our voting, we live in a theocracy, regardless of where, how, or by what your conscience was formed. And I still believe that a theocracy, if done right with the right religion in power, is the best form of government. But I will admit that the "done right" condition is a perfect condition and doesn't exist in our world because a lot of people are, unfortunately, inherently flawed and content to be so. "Perfectly imperfect," as the smartasses say. So, there will never be a Catholic theocracy, but we did come close back in Medieval Europe when all the ruling monarchs yielded to the authority of the Pope which, I admit, wasn't always a good thing. (Fun fact: There's a good chance I'm related to Rodrigo Borgia who was pope during the Renaissance and the antagonist of Assassin's Creed II.)

Anyway, that's it for this week. Good news though, I am planning on writing more INTJ posts in the future, probably some time in the new year. I need a break from some of my content, (the RWBY content) which means I'll be able to focus more on other stuff that I think would behoove this blog to focus on (INTJ stuff). And that stuff will help me write more books which puts more of your green in my blue.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Flash Stories & Poetry Day 23: Elegy "Aborted Opera"


Hey, everyone.

Alright, then. I'm continuing with the theme of the importance of writing earnestly. Today is a poetry day and the poetry tends to be rather popular. I may have to make it it's own series, or specialize in poetry which would be frankly awesome. But anyway...

Wheel of Genres, turn, turn, turn! Tell me the genre I will discern!





Today's topic is... Elegy! Huh, that's an interesting one. Aren't elegies usually said in remembrance of something like someone's death? A quick Wikipedia search seems to confirm that, but also admits that elegies aren't really pinned down all that well. Usually their content is just melancholic and reflective, and have only one limit on style: something called an elegiac couplet which I don't think I have the skill to write in. Other than that, everything's free game.

Thirty minutes on the clock: 30:00. And... go.

Nightmares of words' deaths haunt the mind,
And show the dreamers they are blind;
Pieces and poems, harvests of the heart,
Flash behind the eyes and then depart.

Wanton writers waste their gift and commit to doom
Like a child cozened from the womb;
Succumbing to their creator's strife,
Written pieces are cheated a chance at life.

What beauty, what sorrow,
What of the mysteries of tomorrow;
Countless are the losses like sufferings on the Cross,
Words of passion and change become dross.

--Beware apathy's curse and the writer's abyss,
--For our words are meant to herald mankind's bliss.

***
 
Stop the clock. Almost six minutes left. Wow, that took longer that I would've imagined. RhymeZone for some reason gave me a bunch of Protuguese sh*t when I was looking for rhymes for morrow and sorrow. They were a part of one line, but I made them two because I couldn't find a suitable rhyme. And, as you can tell, I didn't stick to a uniform line length; some of the lines wrote themselves, but it's alright, makes the poem more contemporary. Unfortunately, I'm having issues with my Internet so I was in a rush to get the poem done so I just accepted the lines as they came. And I have other stuff I need to do.

So, that's it for today. If you want to use the wheel I made, you should be able to access it here. And if you have the time, please check out my books for sale on Amazon which you can find through my author page. The link is below. Also, I reworked my Patreon page, so why not give it a look and consider becoming my patron. I would appreciate it.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Monday, November 27, 2017

Flash Stories & Poetry Day 22: Suspense/Thriller "Literary Hysteria"


Hey, everyone.

So, I'm one to talk. Here I am saying this week's theme is going to be about the earnest endeavor of writing or whatever and I'm procrastinating till almost four in the afternoon to start. Geez. Well, writing about writing in poetry and non-fiction is easy. Writing about writing in fiction, not as easy. Not to mention, how many of us have written a story where the main character is a frustrated author of some sort? We've all done it. Anyway...

Wheel of Genres, turn, turn, turn! Tell me the genre I will discern!





Today's topic is... Science Fiction! That's a bit of a bust. I was hoping for something like horror or a psychological thriller because I did think of a way to write about writing and make it interesting, but it needs to be a horror story or thriller. Fantasy would work, too. Maybe I should ignore the wheel and run with my idea. Yeah, I think I will. Geez, what a monster I've become. I can't even follow my own rules. Anyway, I'm going to try to make this one actually flash fiction and keep it less than 1000 words, maybe shorter. Get in, get out.

Thirty minutes on the clock: 30:00. And... go!

Darrell had been at it for weeks. He had locked himself in his room and hadn't come out since who knew when. All the words were up there in his mind, but he had trouble getting them out. He would sit at his desk before his typewriter and freeze. His fingers would touch the keys, but he couldn't make them move. In frustration, he's stand up again and start pacing. He had worn a track in his floor from the route he walked.

Darrell then thought that if he could get some of it out, he might be able to make more sense of his problem. Fragments of sentences and images came to him. He jotted them down as he went about his day, but they were barely anything; they were just words strung together. "As immobile as a drunken mist", "given to the placidity of a pale moon", "as passive as a crow's stare". Most of them he barely understood himself.

He soon ran out of paper, but he still had plenty of pens. He started writing things on the walls, on his tables, and on the floor. Once while eating toast, he carved a phrase into his kitchen counter, "April devoured brings May's coward". He stabbed the knife into counter and wandered back to his office. He was careful not to tread on any of the words he scribbled on the floor which outlined a crooked path for him. He turned on the light ever so gently so as not to smear the delicate inscriptions that littered the walls and mocked him with their very presence.

Every sentence tormented him; every image was like slow death. The only place he saw the story clearly was in his dreams which he always forgot upon awakening, and maddened at the incompetence of his own memory, he felt like the story would burst from his own head, ending him rightly.

He felt the madness take hold and soon he only thought and spoke in garbled language which not even the great Bard could have comprehended. He forgot how to keep himself, and would bash his head into the walls, walking around, trying to make his way to his desk. He never tread on his precious words, but he soon realized they didn't belong to him, he belonged to them. He was servant to them. He muddled through nonsensical prayers under his breath begging for release but they never would. They couldn't. He had never been able to release them, so they wouldn't release him.

Months passed and a terrible smell came from Darrell's room. When it reached its climax, they broke in and found him long dead, sitting at his desk in front of his typewriter. Stale blood soaked into the hardwood and left sticky stains on his legs, clothes, and arms. They leaned his body back and found that he had carved more words and phrases into his very flesh and face with a fountain pen. They covered up his ghastly appearance and sent him to the morgue. A great shame it was too, because then the only person who experienced the true rapture of Darrell's magnum opus and understood the mystery of his torture and how his death was the price he paid for his release was the mortician. What would a lord of the dead do with the secret to life?

***
 
Stop the clock. Alright, I have seven-and-a-half minutes left. So, that wasn't as good as I was hoping. When the idea came to me, I thought it was great, but trying to get it out--it just wouldn't come. I felt like Darrell myself toward the end. But as I wrote, I was kind of like, how many other people know exactly what this feels like? I'm betting a lot of us do. As for the length of this piece, about 536. I went back and edited it, so I don't know for sure.

But anyway, that's it for today. If you want to use the wheel I made, you should be able to access it here. And if you have the time, please check out my books for sale on Amazon which you can find through my author page. The link is below. Also, I reworked my Patreon page, so why not give it a look and consider becoming my patron. I would appreciate it.

Keep writing, my friends.

More About Bryan C. Laesch:

My Works:

Amazon: My Author Page, My Influencer Page
Facebook: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar
Patreon: Bryan C. Laesch
Twitter: BryanofallTrade
Youtube: Bryan C. Laesch, Bawdy Scholar

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A RWBY Christmas Carol: Stave I

A RWBY Christmas Carol is not endorsed by Rooster Teeth in any way. Views, opinions, and thoughts are all my own. Rooster Teeth and RWBY are trade names or registered trademarks of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. © Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC.


Ironwood was dead, to begin with. As dead as a doornail. The only person who mourned his passing and succeeded him in his work was his business partner, Ebenezer Ozpin. He and Ironwood had been friends though, in the shallowest of terms, on the basest of levels. Ozpin not being disturbed at Ironwood’s passing was proof of this. He honored him because no one else would. But once the funeral was over, Ozpin went back to his life and forgot Ironwood for he was dead.
Despite his callous response to Ironwood’s death, Ozpin didn’t bother to paint over the sign that stood over the establishment known as Ironwood & Ozpin. He knew that with time, the weather would take it off. That option was cheap, and Ozpin was a patient man except when it came to those who were late paying their commissions. Upon them he exacted no mercy and didn’t care if the Grimm would eventually eat up settlers who couldn’t afford to pay for the huntsmen that Ozpin sourced.
When it came to business, Ozpin was a squeezing, wrenching, clutching, apathetic, old miser. He was hard, and sharp as flint. And not much more could be said for his personal life other than he was secret, self-contained, and as solitary as an oyster. His critics said he could’ve made a summer home of Mantle for his personality was chillier than the tundra and didn’t warm a degree at any time of the year, not even for that jolliest of feasts, Christmas.
Ozpin entered his office, the one thing he kept colder than himself and saw his clerk, Taiyang Cratchit, trying to keep his ink liquid by cupping his hands around his inkwell lest it should freeze. Taiyang was a strapping man of middle age, married with two daughters. He was better suited to work as a huntsman, but for the sake of his family, he had chosen to become Ozpin’s clerk which paid barely better than that as one of the sourced huntsmen, but for the sake of his family, Tai would do anything.
Ozpin didn’t bother to greet Tai or give an explanation of his whereabouts. What Ozpin did when he was away on business was his business, and Tai’s business was to work on the ledgers. Ozpin merely pulled off his great coat and hung it up before going to his desk and beginning his work.
While it was easy to assume Ozpin had no light or warmth in his life, that assumption would be false because there was one source in the form of his nephew Qrow who bounded through the door at that very minute. “Merry Christmas, uncle!” he said in a whisky voice. “Gods save you!”
Ozpin looked up over the rim of his glasses. “Bah! Humbug!”
“Christmas a humbug?” said Qrow. “Surely you don’t mean that, uncle.”
“I’m sure I do. What right do I have to be merry at Christmas? What right do you have? There’s nothing so repulsive in this world as being poor, and yet people fritter their money away on goods they can’t afford every year at this time. And then they complain when they can’t afford to pay the huntsmen I hire out. So, I ask you, nephew, what reason do you have to be merry at Christmas? You’re poor enough.”
“By that logic, uncle, what reason do you have to be miserable? You’re rich enough. Right be damned!”
“Humbug nonetheless!”
“Oh, don’t be cross, uncle. I came to share the spirits of good cheer of the season with you.”
“Good cheer? Humbug! Everyone is in a good cheer at this time of year only to find themselves a year older and not an hour richer. If I could work my will, every idiot that went around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips would be boiled with his pudding and fed to the Grimm!”
“Uncle!” said Qrow, taking a step back.
“You keep Christmas in your way, Qrow, and I’ll keep it in mine.”
“But you don’t keep it.”
“Then let me leave it alone all the same.”
“While it is true that Christmas has never put any spare lien in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, will do me good, and I say, Gods bless it!”
Tai applauded.
“You’re one to speak, Cratchit,” said Ozpin. “With as little as you make, it’s a wonder you’re able to celebrate anything.”
Tai returned to his work.
“You shouldn’t abuse Tai like that, uncle. Please don’t be cross with him for agreeing with me. I know! Why don’t you come and have Christmas dinner with me and Winter tomorrow?”
“Why ever did you get married?”
“Why? Because I fell in love.”
Ozpin cackled. “That’s the only thing sillier than a ‘Merry Christmas.’ Good afternoon.”
Qrow’s face fell. “I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I will keep making the trial for the sake of my Christmas humor. So a Merry Christmas, uncle! And a Happy New Year!”
“Merry Christmas,” said Tai.
“Merry Christmas,” replied Qrow. “And give my best to your wife and daughters,” he said, exiting.
“Humbug,” muttered Ozpin under his breath at his nephew’s departure.
With Qrow and the stench of his whisky gone, Ozpin settled into his bookkeeping as his office door once more opened. In stepped two Faunus; one was a gigantic male, at least twice as tall and wide as the normal man, and the other was a woman much shorter and smaller than he. Both were cats as indicated by his claws and her cat ears.
“Mr. Ironwood, I presume,” said the male Faunus in a deep gruff voice.
“Ironwood is dead,” corrected Ozpin. “He’s been dead these seven Christmas Eves ago.”
“Oh. We’re terribly sad to hear that,” said the woman.
“Why? Are you relatives?”
The two Faunus looked at each other. “No,” said the man.
“Then what’s your business with me?”
“Let me introduce myself. I am Ghira Belladonna. This is my wife Kali. At this festive time of year, it is more than usually desirable that we make some provision for the poor and underprivileged who suffer greatly during this time of year. Many are in want of common necessities.”
“Some of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the poor some meat and drink, and some means of warmth,” explained Kali.
“We choose this time of year because it is often a time when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices.”
“I’m sure Mr. Ironwood’s liberality and charity is well represented in his surviving partner,” prodded Kali with a smile. “What shall we put you down for?”
Ozpin sneered. “Are there no prisons?”
Kali and Ghira exchanged looks. “Plenty of prisons, sir,” replied Ghira.
“And the workhouses? Are they still in operation?”
“They are indeed,” explained Kali grieved. “I wish I could say they were not.”
“Oh, good,” said Ozpin. “I was afraid from what you said something had happened to them to stop them in their useful purpose.”
“If you please, sir,” begged Kali. “They are not fit to furnish cheer of mind or body to the multitude. So, what may we put you down for?”
“Nothing.”
Ghira and Kali’s eyes shifted until Ghira had a thought. “Ah, you wish to remain anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone! I don’t make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I support the establishments I have mentioned through my taxes. Those who are badly off must go there.”
“But many can’t go there,” said Ghira.
“Many would rather die!” said Kali.
“If they would rather die, then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population! Good afternoon!”
Ghira and Kali recoiled; Ghira was in shock, but Kali was wholly offended. “You sir are the most odious person I have ever had the displeasure of meeting! Why, if my own daughter had to live out in this, I would do everything in my power to shield her from it!”
“Thus is your business,” replied Ozpin. “Not mine.”
Seeing that the cause was lost, Ghira and Kali withdrew though Kali’s curses could be heard from outside the office.
Ozpin believed himself rid of all the foolishness of the day for his patience had been worn to its fullest extent. He thought he could finally get some work down when two voices singing a chorus of “Good, Wise King of Vale” reached his ears. “What the devil…?”
Ozpin crossed to his front door and ripped it open. There he found two street urchins. Both were Faunus, a young male with a monkey tail and a young female with cat ears. “What do you want?!” he growled to the two.
“Please, sir,” said the cat Faunus, “Christmas blessings upon you and your business.”
“And all the more blessings for offering us a few lien!” said the monkey-tailed one, holding up his hands.
“Begone!” Ozpin roared, drawing his cane. He swung it with all his might, but the two Faunus managed to dodge it, one leaving behind a shadow copy of herself.
“Whoa!” said the lad. “What a dusty, old miser!”
“We’re just looking for some goodwill!” said the lass.
“Yeah! A pox on you!”
Ozpin growled, “A pox on Christmas!” before closing the door. Ozpin sighed and returned to his desk where for several hours he was able to get some real work done.
Eventually, the hour to close for the night arrived. Ozpin left his chair and opened his safe to move all the lien he had been counting into it. “Cratchit!” he called. “It’s closing time. Come here and get your week’s wages.”
Tai bounded out of his desk, snuffing his candle with his finger and putting his hat on before presenting himself to Ozpin.
As Ozpin counted out his lien, he said with a growl, “I suppose you’ll want all day off tomorrow.”
“If it’s convenient, sir.”
“No, it is not convenient, sir. And it’s not fair, but if I was to stop fifteen hundred lien for it, you’d think yourself abused, wouldn’t you? And yet, you don’t think me abused for paying a day’s wages for no work.”
“It’s only once a day, sir.”
“That’s a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December. Fortunately for you, all other business will be closed and I don’t want to waste the money on coal and candles to open for a day where we won’t get anything done. Take the whole day, but be here all the earlier the next morning!”
“Yes, sir. I will.”
“Good.” Ozpin gave Tai his pay and swept on his overcoat before leaving.
Tai almost jumped for joy. He rarely had any days off, so having one meant the world to him especially when it meant he got to share it with his beautiful wife and daughters. He almost skipped home, but for his cargo shorts, he was forced to run to beat the cold from consuming him.
Ozpin stopped at a dank, old tavern for a dank, old dinner before heading home. His house, inherited from Ironwood, was far and tucked away from the vulgar and common streets of Vale. There was nothing particularly special about the street Ozpin lived on except for the unimaginable darkness of it matched the environment of his heart.
Approaching his home, Ozpin went to the door to unlock it and found his attention drawn to the knocker. There was nothing peculiar about it except its size and the fact that it now resembled Ironwood’s face. The face was not angry or sad, but looked exactly as Ozpin remembered Ironwood: a hard, square face with little blue eyes and stress marks along his cheeks and below his eyes. His hair was dark and combed over on top and grey and short on the sides. Ironwood had had a face more akin to an army general than a businessman and that was the face Ozpin saw. It even had Ironwood’s neurotransmitter above his right eyebrow that helped him to control the cybernetic half of his body, a detail Ozpin often forgot. But besides the unpleasant vision of seeing a face of a man long dead, the face possessed a horrible color that seemed to be in spite of its expression and beyond its control rather than a part of it.
As Ozpin stared, the face disappeared with a faint, “Oz…” in Ironwood’s deep voice. Though Ozpin was not a man of superstitions or of legends, the phenomenon did spook him enough to enter his house as quickly as possible, lock the door, and then proceed to search his rooms. Ozpin looked through every room in the pitch black; darkness was cheap and he liked it. His old huntsman senses were also attuned to the darkness and allowed him to ambush any unsuspecting fellow, but as he crept around, cane raised, he found no sign of anybody having been there. All was well.
Satisfied with his search, Ozpin retired to his quarters where he double bolted the door to arm himself against surprise and changed into his dressing gown and slippers. He sat close to his fireplace so it could warm him without using too much fuel on such a bitter night. Ozpin sank into his chair and drank a mug of hot chocolate, one of the few pleasures in his miserable life.
As Ozpin sat, he heard a faint twinkle. His head went up and his eyes fell upon an old bell hanging in his room for some long-forgotten purpose. Once his gaze fell upon it, it stopped ringing. Ozpin’s eyes narrowed, and he went back to his hot chocolate. But then, the bell started ringing again with more vigor. Ozpin turned his head up and was forced to see it ring without provocation. Once it stopped, he proclaimed “Humbug!” in a louder than needed voice.
He returned to his hot chocolate, but found his hand shaking. He had to use his other hand to hold his first still. But as the mug reached his lips, the bell started ringing again with even more fervor. Ozpin’s color changed and his lip trembled. He didn’t know how long the bell rang for, but he would have traded anything to have it ring rather than have it be succeeded by the sound that came next, that of clinking chains.
Ozpin could hear the chains clatter from his ground floor and move up his stairwell accompanied by a heavy foot and the clanging of metallic objects. The sounds reached his door, and Ozpin stood, drawing his cane. “It’s humbug! I won’t believe it!” But Ozpin had great difficulty convincing himself when without pause a grey shape walked through the door in the visage of Ironwood.
“Ironwood’s ghost?!”
The spectre appeared to Ozpin exactly as he remembered Ironwood. He wore an overcoat, undercoat, sweater, necktie, long pants tucked into his boots and one glove on his right hand. But there were two major differences between this Ironwood and the one Ozpin remembered: this one was a solid grey color, and cinched around his waist, wrapped around him like a tail, was a great chain from which hung lockboxes, keys, padlocks, and ledgers.
Though Ozpin was scared, to now see what haunted him, he couldn’t believe it with his own eyes. He lowered his cane. “What do you want?” he said after a pause.
“Much,” replied the shade.
“Who are you?”
“Ask me who I was, Oz.”
“Who were you then?”
“In life, I was your partner, Jacob Ironwood.”
Ozpin gripped his cane tightly. “Can you sit down?”
“I can.”
“Do it, then!” demanded Ozpin, taking his chair.
The ghost walked to the fire place, making enough noise to wake the dead with every step. He drew a chair next to him, but rather than sit in, he sat beside it in open air. Ozpin stared, but then cleared his throat.
“You don’t believe in me,” said the ghost.
“I don’t.”
“Why do you do doubt your senses?”
“Because,” began Ozpin, “a little thing can affect them—make them cheat. I’ve had a slight stomach disorder of late. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. Aye, there's more of gravy than a grave about you!”
The ghost inhaled sharply and rose into the air. With a great wail it grabbed a part of its chain with each hand and beat the objects together several times.
Ozpin fell upon his knees, holding up his hands, and screaming out of fright.
“Do you believe in me now?!”
“I do, I do. I must, but why do you torment me?!”
“It is required of every man,” explained the shade, “that the spirit within him should walk among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide. And if that spirit doesn’t go forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”
“That terrible chain!” said Ozpin. “Why do you wear it?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” said the ghost. “I made it link by link and yard by yard. I forged it through my choices and it is by my choice that I wore it. You should know of what I speak. You yourself wear a chain so ponderous and mighty that it is as heavy and as long as these seven Christmas Eves ago.”
“Jacob!” said Ozpin, trembling. “Speak comfort to me, Jacob. Speak comfort to me!”
“I have none to give. Comfort comes from others and is conveyed by other ministers to other kinds of men than you. Nor can I tell what I would like. I’m only allowed a little more. All I can say is that I cannot rest in the afterlife as my spirit never walked beyond the narrow limits of our office.
“Oh, captive, bound, and double-ironed not to know that ages of incessant labor that this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible can be developed. Not to know that any spirit working in its little sphere will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Oh, but I was!”
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” said Ozpin. “That must account for something.”
“Business?!” cried the spirit, shaking with fury. “Mankind was my business! The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
The spirit looked at its chains, at the lockboxes and keys, with a great regret.
“At this time of year,” began the spectre, “I suffer the most. Why did I walk through the crowds with my eyes turned down and never raise them to see what was right before me?! What mercy or lecture had I missed to now suffer this?!”
Ozpin began to quake with fear at the spirits lamentations knowing full well his own blindness.
“Hear me!” cried Ironwood. “My time is nearly up. I am here tonight to warn you that you yet have a chance and hope of escaping my fate; a chance and hope of my procuring, Oz.”
“You were always a good friend to me,” said Ozpin.
“You will be haunted by three ghosts!”
Ozpin’s eyebrows rose and the color drained even further from his face. “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned?”
“It is.”
“I-I’d rather not.”
“Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first when the bell tolls one.”
“Couldn’t I take them all at once and be done with it?” begged Ozpin.
“Expect the second when the bell tolls two. The third will arrive in her own time. Look to see me no more, and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”
“There must be another way,” implored Ozpin, raising his arm.
The spirit wrapped its chain around his arm and by some great upheaval, lifted him into the air. The two flew back to the window where it opened itself and allowed them into the chilly night sky as well as some fresh hell. All about Ozpin were phantoms and other shadows wandering hither and thither in useless haste, moaning as they went. All were bound by chains, employed by frightful countenances far worse than any Grimm that walked the face of Remnant. Many of the spectres were known personally to Ozpin. One he saw watched over a wretched woman, sitting in the gutter with a crying infant in her arms. The ghost clung to its safe desperately trying to pry it open but couldn’t.
As Ozpin looked on at the horrible sight, by some strange magic unknown to him, he was able to see across Remnant and see even more shades out in the unsettled territories between kingdoms. These looked more like huntsmen and indeed they were as their weapons were clasped to their bodies, unable to be drawn that the huntsmen may slaughter the Grimm preying on the people.
The misery with them all was that they sought to interfere for goodness’ sake in human matters, but they had lost the power to do so. Their misery ground Ozpin’s mind dull and froze his heart.
Whether these shades faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, Ozpin could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded altogether, and the night became as it had been.
Ozpin found himself, standing next to the window. He quickly shut it. Then he dashed to the door he had seen the ghost enter through; it was whole and unscathed. Ozpin tried to say, “Humbug!” but the word would not come. Thinking it better he should retire to bed, he did so and fell asleep instantly.
 ***
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