There is silence and Qrow takes a swig from his flask. He has a bandage wrapped around his abdomen over his clothing.
Qrow: Really? No questions?
Jaune: Of course we have questions. This is just... a lot to take in.
Qrow: (sighing) Sure, of course.
Ruby: So these... Maidens... They're powerful fighters that don't need Dust to use magic.
Nora: And there are four of them?
Qrow: Yup. Always.
Ren: Which means that, whenever one of them dies, the power transfers to someone - a female - that they cared about?
Qrow: Whoever was in their thoughts last. Important distinction. Best option is someone we can trust. Regardless, their souls become combined, in a way.
Jaune: And that's what you were trying to do to Pyrrha... the night the tower fell. You were trying to turn her into one of them.
Qrow: The previous Fall Maiden, Amber, had been attacked. She was young, inexperienced. And her assailant, who we now know is Cinder, somehow managed to steal some of her power, but not all of it. We were afraid that if we didn't do something, the rest would go to her as well.
Jaune: (looking angry) So you forced it on Pyrrha.
Qrow: We didn't force anything. We explained the situation and gave her the choice, and she chose. You were there, you heard her.
Jaune hangs his head for a brief moment before getting up and walking several feet away from group. Qrow watches him go.
Ruby: That guy, Tyrian - why was he after me?
Qrow: (sighing) Well, you definitely painted a target on your back with what you did at Beacon. I told you having silver eyes is a rare trait. And the fact that you were able to use them seems to have upset some very powerful people. Not many people know about the silver eyes. Those that do aren't very happy that one has surfaced. That's why I've been keeping an eye on you in order to make sure you were safe. All of you.
Ruby: Well, then, why not just travel with us? It seems like that would've been way easier.
Jaune answers her loudly enough to be heard, but with his back still turned to everyone.
Jaune: He was using you as bait.
Qrow: Look, I wouldn't put it like that - it's complicated.
Jaune: (turning back to face him) What is all of this? Ruby's being hunted, the schools are being attacked, all for what?! What is the point of all of this?! Will you just tell us what's going on?!
Qrow stares at him, then slouches over with a sigh.
Qrow: Would you sit down? You're stressin' me out, 'kid.
Jaune sits back down on his log and crosses his arms. Qrow starts to take another swig, but changes his mind before the flask reaches his lips.
Qrow: Not many people are super religious these days.
Qrow caps and sets the flask down.
Qrow: This world's been around for a long time, long enough that people have created dozens of gods. But if you believe Ozpin, two of them are actually real.
Pan over to a nearby large rock, where Qrow's story is illustrated with a display of light and shadows from the campfire.
Qrow: They were two brothers. The older sibling, the god of light, found joy in creating forces of life. Meanwhile, the younger brother, the god of darkness, spent his time creating forces of destruction. As you can imagine, they both had pretty different ideas about how things should go. The older one would spend his days creating water, plants, wildlife. And at night, his brother would wake to see all the things that the elder had made and become disgusted. To counteract his brother's creations, the god of darkness brought drought, fire, famine, all he could do to rid Remnant of life. Life always returned. So one night, the younger brother went and made something - something that shared his innate desire to destroy anything and everything.
Ruby: The creatures of Grimm.
Qrow: You guessed it. The older brother finally had enough. Knowing that their feud couldn't last like this forever, he proposed that they make one final creation... together, something that they could both be proud of, their masterpiece. The younger brother agreed. This last great creation would be given the power to both create and destroy. It would be given the gift of knowledge, so that it could learn about itself and the world around it. And most importantly, it would be given the power to choose, to have free will to take everything it had learned and decide which path to follow - the path of light or the path of darkness. And that is how Humanity came to be.
Ren: But... what does that have to do with us?
Qrow: Well, that's the kicker. See, the four gifts to mankind - knowledge, creation, destruction and choice - aren't just metaphorical. Each of them exists in a physical form, left behind by the gods before they abandoned Remnant, and each of them is extraordinarily powerful. If someone were to collect all four, they'd be able to change the world. That's exactly what the enemy wants. The Huntsman Academies were created to train generations of Humanity's protectors, but they also serve another purpose - guarding the Relics. When Ozpin's predecessor founded the schools, he built them around the Relics to act as a fortress. Not only would they be easier to defend, but they would constantly be surrounded by trained warriors. The hope was that hiding them would keep mankind from using them against itself... and, of course, keeping them out of her reach.
Cut back to the group sitting around the campfire.
Qrow: So yeah, there's that.
Ruby: Her. You mean Salem?
Qrow: That's right. Not much is known about her. Quite frankly, that's not what matters. What matters right now is that she wants the Relics, and if she gets them, it's not going to end well.
Blake Belladonna stands on a second story deck outside her father's office. The broken moon shines over the house. Blake stares at her father's door, beside which hangs an empty birdcage, when Kali Belladonna speaks, startling her.
Kali: You know, you can always go in and say hi.
Kali is carrying a tray with a tea set on it.
Blake: I don't wanna bother him.
Kali: A father's never too busy for his daughter.
Blake: Not all of my friends would agree with you on that.
Kali kisses her daughter on the cheek and hands her the tray. Blake accepts it, but is a bit taken aback by being handed it.
Blake: What? Where are you going?
Kali: You've never been very talkative, but that boy you brought home loves to run his mouth. I wanna hear more about the adventures of Team RWBY.
Kali walks away, her footsteps audible.
Ghira: (calling out from inside his office) Kali? Is that you, dear?
Blake gives a nervous start of surprise when she hears his voice. The tray shakes in her hands, and she lets out a quiet whine.
Ghira straightens some paperwork on his desk. The porch door slides open and Blake steps inside.
Blake: Uh, hey dad.
Ghira: Blake! Well, this is a pleasant surprise.
Ghira: (standing) Please, come sit.
Father and daughter both move to the oversized coffee table and lounge furniture, and Blake sets the tea set at the end where her father sits.
Ghira: Don't worry, I've got it. Sit down, sit down.
Blake: I don't wanna keep you if you're--
Ghira: (pouring tea) Nonsense, I've been cooped up in here all day.
He puts a cube of sugar in the cup nearest Blake.
Ghira: You still take sugar, right?
Blake: Oh, actually, uh-
Ghira: (pulling back nervously) Oh! Sorry!
Blake: No, no no no, it's fine.
Ghira: Oh, here, take this one.
Blake: (taking her cup) No, really. It's, it's no big deal.
Ghira: You sure?
Ghira: Old habits, I suppose.
Blake takes a sip of her tea and winces with a tiny exclamation of pain.
Ghira: Might wanna let it cool.
Blake: (slight pain in her voice) Right.
She sets the cup down on the table.
Ghira: So... is it... warm... in Vale?
Ghira: It just... seems like your outfit doesn't cover very much.
Blake looks down at herself and crosses her arms.
Blake: It covers plenty.
Ghira: I mean, a little more armor might help. Don't you think?
Blake: I'm fine. I don't need armor. I can look after myself.
Ghira: I... (sighing) I know you can. I'm sorry.
He sets down his own cup. Blake's expression saddens, and she looks away, bowing her head.
Blake: Why would you say that?
Ghira moves to be beside his daughter, going down to one knee and putting a hand on her back.
Ghira: Sweetheart, what's wrong? What did I say?
Blake: How can you still love me after what I did?
He gets up and sits beside her on the couch, putting his arm around her.
Ghira: Your mother and I will always love you.
Blake: (emotional) You were right. I shouted at you and yelled at you. (looking up at him) But you were right. I called you cowards!
Remorsefully, she lowers her head closer to her father. He holds her.
Ghira: It's okay.
Blake: (pulling back) I should have left the White Fang with you and Mom. I should've listened to you, and I'm sorry. (turning away) I'm so, so sorry.
Ghira: (turning her by the chin to look at him and then wiping a tear from her eye with his thumb) Blake, it's fine. We never held anything against you, and I never feared you would fail. The only thing I ever feared was that you would fall down the wrong path, and I am so proud to see you haven't.
Blake: But I did! (sniffles) I was--
She lowers her face again.
Ghira: And you pulled yourself out. You came back. There aren't many who possess that kind of strength and even fewer that have the courage to face their demons again. Vale, Mountain Glenn, Beacon - you confronted the White Fang time after time.
Blake: I didn't do it alone.
Ghira: No, you didn't. Which is why I wanted to ask you... why did you leave Vale? Why did you leave your friends behind?
Blake: (sniffing) I...
Behind them, the porch door falls inward, Sun on top of it and yelping. Blake turns around.
Blake: (affronted and standing up) Sun?!
Ghira is also standing while Sun gets himself upright and tries to recover from the situation.
Sun: D'yuh! Whoa! This isn't the bathroom! Uh, I'll just be going! Sorry to interrupt this tender family moment! (awkward giggle)
Blake and Ghira both glare at Sun, Blake's right ear twitching. Ghira takes a breath and closes his eyes for a second.
Ghira: I really don't like you.
Team RNJR still sits talking to Qrow at the campfire.
Jaune: Alright. So, let's say we believe all this. There really is this crazy evil being behind these attacks, not just some thugs trying to become powerful. Why doesn't the world know? Why isn't Atlas going after them? Or Mistral?
Nora: And why aren't we in more of a hurry to get to Haven? Shouldn't we be getting them a message? What if they're next?
Qrow: The headmaster over there saw what happened to Beacon. He's not dumb. He'll be on his guard. Besides, it takes time to mobilize forces like that. Do you really think they planned out that attack on Beacon overnight? (pointing at Jaune) And to answer your question, it's the same reason we keep quiet about the Maidens. If the whole world knew about the Relics, about Salem, there would be chaos. There'd be another Great War on our hands, and this time, you'd have to fight. (pointing at Jaune again)
Jaune turns away.
Qrow: Look, I had the same questions, too. But ol' Ozpin would always put his foot down. "We can't cause a panic." Heh, can't tell you how many times I've heard that. Salem's smart. She works from the shadows, using others to get what she wants, so that when it comes time to place the blame, we can only point at each other. She's trying to divide us - humanity, and so far she's done a pretty damn good job.
Leaning back, Qrow looks up at the broken moon and the visual pans to follow his gaze before returning to him, with an above shot at first, changing to a frontal shot when he looks ahead and sighs.
Ruby: Alright, so what should we do?
Everyone looks to Qrow.
Qrow: (chuckling) I don't really know.
The teens all look at each other, surprised and nervous. They return their gaze to him when he starts speaking again.
Qrow: Ozpin has put a lot of trust in the headmasters. Like I said, the schools are an important part of stopping Salem. Atlas is going to be on high alert after the last attack, and Vacuo is - well, Vacuo. It'll be hard to hire thieves and scoundrels to fight against other thieves and scoundrels. Take that, add in the fact that Cinder and her crew claim to be from Haven, and I think it's likely the next target. So, we're on our way to the headmaster. Haven't heard from him in a while, even before the attack. I'm hoping he has the answers.
Qrow stands, but grabs at where he was cut.
Qrow: (groaning) Alright, I think it's time you kids got some sleep.
Ruby: Uncle Qrow?
Ruby: (standing) This is a lot to take in, and it all sounds crazy, but... I'm willing to do whatever I can to help because I trust you. But why couldn't you trust me? Why couldn't you just travel with us, instead of this secrecy, and, and--
Qrow: Look, this has nothing to do with trust. I-- It's a long story, okay?
Nora: Seriously? Now you're tired of telling us stories?
He stares at the fire in silence before speaking. As he talks he kneels down, picks up a stick and pokes at the fire.
Qrow: Did you know that crows are a sign of bad luck? Old superstition, but it's how I got my name. See, some people can absorb electricity and some people can burst into rose petals and some people are just born unlucky. My Semblance isn't like most - it's not exactly something I do. It's always there, whether I like it or not. I bring misfortune. (chuckles bitterly) I guess you could call me a bad luck charm. Comes in real handy when I'm fighting an enemy, but it makes it a little hard on friends... (looking over at Ruby) and family.
Getting up, he still holds his side.
Jaune: Well, you are just a real bundle of help, aren't you?
Ruby and Nora turn to glare at Jaune.
He walks away from the campfire, slowly.
Ren: Where are you going?
Qrow: Taking a walk.
Ruby: There's nothing else you want to tell us?
A red-eyed raven lands on a tree branch with a quiet caw. Qrow looks at it, and it cocks its head, looking at him.
Qrow: Not tonight.
He continues his slow walk away, leaving the four teenagers to themselves for a bit. The log he had prodded earlier rolls out of the campfire. Ruby watches Qrow, concerned.
With a groan of frustration, Blake slaps Sun. They are on the porch outside Ghira's office.
Blake: Ugh! No concept of privacy, (slaps him again) no respect for personal space!
His hand goes to his face where she made contact the second time.
Sun: I'm sorry, okay?! Ow, I'm sorry!
Angrily, she turns her back on him and marches a few steps away.
Sun: Look, I promise it was important! I needed to find you to talk to you!
Blake: (turning back, exasperated) What, Sun? What could be so important?!
Sun: I was talking to your mom and she said something weird about the White Fang!
Blake: (holding a finger up and striding forward) I'm stopping you right there.
Blake: I told you, I'm not here to fight the White Fang, I'm not here to fight anyone. I'm here to rest, to figure things out, and to see my family.
Sun: Your mom said White Fang members don't wear masks in Menagerie. But I saw one at the market yesterday! I even have a picture!
He pulls his Scroll out of his back pocket.
Sun: (bringing up the image) Look, I'm trying to help!
Blake pulls his Scroll out of his hands and tosses it out into the trees.
Blake: I don't want your help!
Sun stares at his Scroll and turns to Blake, growling. The sound of the Scroll landing, followed by a feminine, gasping sound is heard from the trees where Blake had just tossed the device. Both Sun and Blake's eyes go wide for a second and they slowly turn, eyes narrowing.
The visual becomes a wide shot of the two of them on the porch that is slowly pulling back. It cuts to the dark trees, moving in slowly. A dark humanoid shape with a white mask can just be made out, perched atop a palm tree. The visual cuts to Blake as she gasps and cuts back to the figure, a female Faunus with thin, curved, dark gray horns and black, spotty skin. She is wearing a black, sleeveless stealth suit with a gold zipper and slightly lighter-black straps with gold buckles on it. On her face is a large, white Grimm Mask with elegant, curvy red markings.
The woman leaps into the air, giving a better view of her. The legs of her stealth outfit are short, and she wears high-top boots. Her black hair is pulled back in a ponytail that curls up at the end. The Faunus soon disappears. On the porch, Blake steps forward with a determined look in her eye while Sun throws out his arms.
Sun: A freakin' ninja?!
Blake: A spy!
Sun: But why would—
He cuts off as Blake jumps onto the railing and then off into the trees.
Sun: Hey wait!
Kali comes out from around the corner and inside the house.
Kali: What's happened?
Sun: (backing up toward where Blake leapt from as he speaks) The White Fang is evil, I totally called it, and I'm bringing your daughter back!
He leaps down off the second story deck. Kali's mouth drops open for a moment before she brings up her hand, worried.
It is morning time at the campsite, and the birds are a-tweeting. All four teenagers are in their sleeping bags, the campfire burned out in the middle. Qrow sits up against the base of a tree, facing the group. Ren sits up with a sigh.
Ren: We should probably get moving.
Jaune: (sitting up) Yeah, yeah.
Both turn at the sound of Qrow coughing, which grows louder and sounds worse with each cough. Nora and Ruby sit up, and Ruby quickly goes to her uncle's side.
Purple staining is visible on Qrow's bandage, which he is holding his right hand over. He lifts his left hand to his mouth as he continues to cough. A cuckoo bird joins its call to the rest of the morning birds. Qrow pulls his hand away with a groan, and the whole palm, including up over the wrist and his fingers, is covered in the purple stain.
Ruby's eyes grow wide, and she gasps. Qrow looks at his hand.
He looks up at Ruby.
Qrow: That's unfortunate.
With a groan, he lowers his hand and head before going still. The cuckoo finally stops and the screen cuts to black.