Monday, 7th April 79AGW.
Lecture Hall B6, Beacon.
“Ninety years ago, a small conflict on the east coast of Sanus would ignite the fuse that would lead to the world-spanning event that was the first Great War of Remnant.” Professor Oobleck said quickly, pacing about like a man possessed. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we do not want to start a second any time soon.”
Lima watched the man curiously as he strode about the room; he seemed to have an aversion to standing still for longer than a few seconds. He also spoke so quickly that you had to actively pay attention to follow along, or you risked being left behind with every sentence.
“Mantle and Mistral had already developed a tight-knit alliance of the course of several years, with Mantle having helped the settlers gain a foothold in the harsh environments of northern Anima.” Oobleck said quickly, “That alliance still has strong ties; today, as Atlas now has a military base right outside Argus.”
Sage had told him when they first moved there about that alliance. The heating technology that was embedded all over Argus had originated from Atlas, along with the hard light shields that powered the cities defenses. There was supposedly even a massive robotic defense system located in that military base, although he hadn’t seen it.
“So, Mistral sent forth more settlers to the islands on the east coast of Sanus and found that Vale had begun settling there already, both countries with the very same idea! Most unfortunate, of course.” Oobleck said regretfully, “So they fought over the islands, and soon that simple dispute grew larger.”
It was interesting hearing the war told from the participants of what the older generation of Anima still considered, behind closed doors, ‘the enemy.’ He’d heard Sage, who was outspoken against Mistral's decision to attack, get into countless arguments over the years about it. Many kids at Sanctum had been fed a great deal of that nonsense and too proud of their families' older heritage to see past their biases.
“Mantle quickly came to the defense of Mistral, and together they overwhelmed Vale, at least for the first few years of the ten-year war.” Oobleck spoke excitedly, “Vacuo, of course, wanted to remain neutral to the conflict, as they had no stake in the war, but eventually, Mantle, who had established settlements across their coast, tried to pressgang them into joining forces.”
Which was when Vacuo joined Vale instead, pushing Mantle forces out of Sanus entirely.
“- the battles took place on both Sanus lands, and Anima, with view few actually reaching Solitas.” Oobleck continued speedily, “It came to a violent end after the King of Vale led his army alongside Vacuo’s and decimated the alliance; it’s said that the King himself had laid waste to a large portion of the army by himself; although it’s likely an exaggeration, history is always written by the victors after all.”
They had hunters back then, Lima knew, so he could see a particularly strong hunter, perhaps with a Semblance that brought them to an untouchable level; even if the King had been witnessed fighting even ten men, they would likely be enough for it to bloom into the legend that was the ‘Warrior King.’
“Seventy-nine years ago, the four kingdoms met on neutral grounds; Vytal, and there they decided as one whole, on what would later become known as the ‘Vytal Peace Accords,’” Oobleck pushed his glasses up his nose and glanced around for a moment. “Now that you understand the fundamental structure of the war allow me to touch upon some of the prominent issues that we will be covering later in more depth.”
The man took a sip of his drink for a moment before clearing his throat.
“During the Great War, many things occurred, the most prominent one was that the number of Grimm attacks increased tenfold-I’m sure you can understand why, war begets negativity, which in turn draws forth more Grimm-So, during the many conflicts Grimm were known to attack,” Oobleck said enthusiastically, “I’m sure you’ve all heard the term, ‘The Enemy of my Enemy is my friend?’- this is where it came about, both participants would halt there battles to deal with the threat of the Grimm before returning to battle once it was gone.”
Rather civilized of them, Lima couldn’t help but wonder how many people were killed by surprise attacks during these pauses.
“The Grimm attacks became more frequent when food and dust rations were implemented-feeding an army is never an easy task you see-and the dust mines of Vacuo were at maximum productive capacity for a long time, but the needs of the war machine weren’t being met.” Oobleck explained, “Mantle quickly showed it’s technological superiority within several years as well, as the other lands began a desperate arms race against one another, robotics, new dust weapons, new ships, pilotable mechanized armors-they were all developed during the war.”
He was entranced at the man's rapid movements around the room; it was almost as if he was trying to engage them all individually at once.
“Now, I’m sure that those of you whose grandparents are still alive, perhaps even your parents have shared with you their stories about remnant before the conclusion of the Great Wars,” Oobleck said gravely, “Can anybody guess any of the other topics we will be covering based on that context?”
Lima wasn’t surprised that Teak had his hand raised almost immediately; he’d see him answer several questions in their classes so far, all of which were correct.
“Slavery, forced conscription and… Faunus' rights.” Teak said, almost hesitantly at the end.
“Correct!” Oobleck said the very millisecond he had stopped talking, making the boy jump in his seat. “Well done, Mr. Fawn! All three of those topics will be covered, and it will become quite apparent that they are all very intertwined with one another.”
Lima’s grin slipped when he caught the muttering of a boy several rows above him; the words, ‘Animals,’ and ‘Beast,’ were both decipherable. He turned around to make a note of the person; it was one of the guys from initiation with orange/brown hair, he couldn’t remember his name in particular, but he was the guy who had been carrying a mace back in the test.
“Some of the other topics will be; the history of Dust, the history of Grimm, the suppression of Art, the origin of naming conventions, the politics of the Great War, the creation of the Hunter Academies, how the Vytal Festival came about, the redistribution of territories, settlements that were lost during the war, Menagerie, and some of the surviving myths from our lost past.” Oobleck said happily, “Although if there is anything that is not covered in here, be aware that I am available outside of class hours for any questions or assistance, you need only ask.”
Monday, 7th April 79AGW.
Lux was practically vibrating as the four of them found seats in the ringed seats that sat above the Amphitheatre. Lima couldn’t really share her excitement; his mind felt like mush after trying to focus on Oobleck for the last hour and a half. That man spoke way too quickly, which was a shame because nearly everything the man said was interesting.
“Why are you so excited, huh?” Lima groaned, “You look like you’re ready to jump down and start fighting already.”
“This is great; it's our first combat lesson!” Lux said excitedly, “I can’t wait to fight someone.”
Teak certainly didn’t look very excited; actually, he looked a bit sick.
“Don’t worry so much, buddy,” Lima mumbled. “It’s only the first day; what's the chance you’ll have to do anything but listen to another lecture?”
“Ah-you’re right,” Teak said, surprised and relieved, “I’m getting worked up over nothing.”
“You looked pretty worked up back in History,” Claire snickered, “I’ve never seen you so confident.”
“I wasn’t!” Teak squeaked, growing red. “I’m just more comfortable with things like that-that’s all.”
Lima watched as Goodwitch stepped up onto the platform and smiled at them.
“Welcome; I trust you’ve had an engaging day so far?” Goodwitch said rhetorically, “I hope you’ve still got some energy to spare- if you’re chosen today, you’re going to need it.”
Teak looked worried again.
“Every day from three to five, you will be undergoing various forms of sparring, combat, obstacle courses, and other forms of physical training to get you in the best possible form.” Goodwitch said firmly, “This week will be sparring-but it won’t always be-now; please connect your scrolls to the network.”
Lima pulled his own out and found the network she was talking about; it was tied to a performance ranking application, along with an Aura tracker that seemed to be connected to the hard light monitor above the Amphitheatre. There was a profile page that had his name, age, year, ranking, and win/loss status.
“We do not have unlimited time, and there are quite a few of you to get through, so not all of you will be fighting today,” Goodwitch said easily, “You will be randomly selected to fight one another; the matches are universal, twenty percent Aura or lower is a loss, standard rules apply.”
His ranking currently said ‘N/A,’ and his Win/loss was sitting at 0/0; he was guessing that this was all to encourage competition and grant the motivation to train more.
“When this room is not in use, it is available for all matches; depending on your current rank and ratio of wins and losses, you will be matched against another student. This is not limited to only this class; you are able to challenge individuals from other classes, other years.” Goodwitch said calmly, “You’ll soon find that this room is quite busy on weekends, as all those who tick the active participant box will be routinely matched against an opponent and scheduled to fight; if you do not arrive here in time for a fight, it will be classed as a forfeit. It will affect your score; any questions?”
Lux immediately raised her hand.
“Ms. Fulbright?” Goodwitch said, pleased.
“Is there a limit to how many fights we can participate in a day?” Lux said intently, drawing a few worried gazes from nearby.
“No, you can set the frequency in the menu, choose however many you think you can handle,” Goodwitch said evenly, “If you run out of Aura just before a scheduled fight, you will obviously not be able to participate.”
Lux sat back, looking pleased with herself.
“Very well, any further questions?” Goodwitch queried once more, “No? Very well, while in this class, you will be entered into the pool automatically, please come down when your name is called.”
The two monitors above the theatre flashed into existence, and silhouetted faces flickered randomly one after another before suddenly stopping. Two portraits stared out from the screen; one was nervous, the other smirking.
“Mr. Fawn and Mr. Winchester,” Goodwitch said, taking her place in the stands.
“Wow, Teak,” Claire said incredulously, “The first fight?”
“No fair,” Lux pouted.
Teak looked horrified as he slowly stood up; the guy with the mace stood up and quickly made his way down to the pit.
“-Lima..” Teak mumbled.
What were the chances that he would end up fighting in the first round?
“Go on, buddy; give it your best,” Lima said reassuringly. “Gameplan, his weapon is built for striking strength, so evasion is key here, don’t get into any locks, and avoid trying to block his strikes; the mace will go straight through them. Tire him out and chip away at his extended limbs after he misses.”
Teak listened quietly before slowing moving towards the stairs, looking worried.
“Kick his ass, Cardin!” One of the other boys called.
Cardin Winchester, huh? It was the same guy from history. Teak stepped onto the arena floor like a man walking to his execution, and Cardin, with his mace, looked like the executioner. Lima felt bad for his friend; he wished he could have taken his place.
The monitors showed their Aura as bars underneath their names, and a countdown timer between the two portraits ticked down from ten.
“Match Start.” A mechanized female voice spoke, starting the match.
“Stick his mace when the sun doesn’t shine, Teak!” Lux said gleefully.
Claire started laughing, and Lima glanced at his violent teammate, incredulous.
Cardin said something quietly that they couldn’t make out from the stands, but Teak flinched, and the timer hit zero. He immediately stalked towards the shorter boy confidently with his mace resting on his shoulder. Teak held his sword up in front of him and stood his ground. Cardin dragged the mace up over his head and smashed it down towards him, and Teak dove to the side to avoid it.
The mace landed with a crack, and then both of the boys were moving. Teak was surprisingly fast given his lack of physical training and did his best to keep some space between them. The next swipe of Cardin’s mace, Teak ducked into range and swiped at the boy's ankle before throwing himself out of the way of the heavy weapon again. It barely missed him on the return swing, but Cardin’s Aura dropped the smallest amount.
He looked furious.
“Go, Teak!” Lux cheered, “Cut his feet off!”
Lima gave her another unsettled glance before glancing back at the fight. Teak tried the same maneuver again, this time at Cardin’s wrist, and received a kick to the chest instead, sending him bouncing across the arena, Aura dropping by a third. That was a pretty heavy kick; Cardin was definitely a strength-based fighter.
Teak didn’t attempt to engage again, and the rest of the match was a one-sided beating that ended with the shorter boy outside the arena limits, with about thirty percent of his Aura left.
“Winner, Cardin; Ring out.” The same female voice spoke.
Goodwitch spoke up from the stands immediately, loud enough to be heard by everyone.
“Mr. Winchester, you’ve got a lot of strength behind your hits, but you overcommit too often; you don’t need to put the full force you possess behind every hit.” Goodwitch said evenly, “Otherwise, you need to work on your footwork.”
Cardin looked displeased at the criticism but nodded in understanding before returning to the stands. Teak finally managed to stand up.
“Mr. Fawn, you’re clearly unfamiliar with combat, you’re quite agile, and despite the gap in combat experience, you managed to land the first strike,” Goodwitch said curiously, “I suggest you take as many matches as you can to try and build up some experience.”
Teak just nodded weakly, staring at the ground as he exited the arena.
“Very well, “Goodwitch said easily, “Next match.”
The monitors flickered back into randomized choosing before stopping. Sky Lark and Blake Belladonna. Lux let out a disgruntled noise as she was once again passed over in favor of another. Teak arrived just as the two vanished down the stairs; he sat down, refusing to look at anyone.
“Good fight, Teak!” Claire said, smiling.
Teak mumbled out a reply, completely inaudible, and Lima rolled his eyes at the guy before dragging him into a headlock.
“Stop sulking, you little rapscallion; that first hit was perfect,” Lima grinned, knuckling his hair, making sure to avoid his ears. “You should have stabbed him in the dick, though.”
“H-hey!” Teak squawked, embarrassed. “I wouldn’t do that!”
“That second counter was a little bit late though, and he was expecting it, so that’s why it didn’t land,” Lima said easily, “That dude wasn’t weak, so you did pretty good, man, don’t beat yourself up over a single loss.”
Teak stopped struggling when he let him loose and huffed.
“You messed up my hair.” Teak mumbled, looking thoroughly distracted. “Idiot.”
“Idiot?!” Lima cried at the top of his lungs, causing the boy the jump. “Does our friendship mean nothing to you?!”
“S-stop it! Everyones looking,” Teak squeaked, trying to muffle him with his hand.
Lima had to lean back over the armrest to avoid the hands, bumping into Lux in the attempt, who immediately yanked on the back of his hair.
“Ow!” Lima complained, “Stop it, you sadist.”
Lux smirked at his now upside-down face.
“Get him Teak!” Claire egged him on, much to his embarrassment. “Give him the old dick stab!”
Teak groaned embarrassedly before he folded his arms and sat back pouting.
Blake and Sky appeared in the pit below, climbing up onto the arena and facing each other, and drawing everyone's attention to them. He fought his way back up to a sitting position, and Lux finally let her tight grip on his hair go.
He gave her the evil eye for a moment before leaning back over to the shorter boy.
“Teak,” Lima mumbled, just loud enough for him to hear.
“Yeah?” Teak said just as quietly.
“What did he say to you down there?” Lima said seriously.
Teak was quiet for a few moments as the timer ticked down.
“He said that he couldn’t believe Beacon would let in beasts like me.” Teak said softly.
Lima glanced over the boy's head at where Cardin had rejoined his team on the other side of the stands. The tall boy wasn’t looking their way, so he couldn’t catch the guy's eye; he’d take some time to speak to him later. He reached out and tossed his arm around his teammate's shoulder and gave him a big smile.
“Don’t worry about it, man,” Lima said, grinning, “Hey Claire, remember when he punched you in the tit? Good times.”
Teak went bright red.
“He was so rough,” Claire said coyly, catching on. “He doesn’t seem the type, does he?”
“Lima!” Teak cried, “Stop bringing it up!”
The timer hit zero.
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.