The four Maidens are the hosts of a vast natural power that has existed in Remnant for thousands of years. They are said to be the physical embodiment of the four seasons.
There are four Maidens in existence at any time, each one corresponding to the four seasons - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
While the full extent of their abilities is not known, Amber, the previous Fall Maiden, displayed several astounding powers, including the ability to levitate, summon enormously powerful gusts of wind, telekinetically control leaves and freeze them solid to create deadly projectiles, manipulate the weather and bring lightning down upon her enemies, as well as shoot deadly fireballs. When she uses her Maiden powers, her eyes appear surrounded by a fiery glow. Cinder Fall presumably also gained the same abilities when she became the Fall Maiden, but she seemed to have a special affinity towards fire.
It is not known if the four different Maidens have different powers, or if they all possess the same powers. When speaking of her power, Cinder also mentions that she could "use it in ways you could never have imagined", suggesting that she has discovered a way to use her power more effectively than other hosts.
Salem states that the reason Ruby Rose's silver eyes were able to defeat Cinder was due to a crippling weakness. It is unknown whether this means that all Maidens are weak to the silver eyed power, or that there is another reason why Cinder in particular was susceptible.
The powers of the Maidens pass from host to host upon the death of the current holder in a process that has been continuing for thousands of years. The exact method through which the power chooses its next host is not fully understood. Under normal circumstances, the next Maiden, who is always a young woman, is the last person that the previous Maiden holds in her thoughts before she passes away. However, if the person in the dying Maiden's thoughts is male, too old, or not eligible to receive the power, the next host is chosen seemingly at random. This system apparently ensures that no one person can hold the power forever.
In "Never Miss a Beat", Ozpin states that "Maidens choose themselves", possibly indicating that the inheritance of these powers is voluntary, but it is unknown how this would fit into the above set of rules. It is possible Ozpin was speaking metaphorically.
In the event that if someone who has stolen part of a Maiden's power kills the woman holding the other half, the power will seek out its other half. However, Amber's last thoughts could have also been a factor for Cinder fully ascending.
The Story of the Seasons, a fairy tale passed down through the cultures of Remnant, purportedly tells of the origins of the Maidens.
The story goes that an old hermit is visited by four sisters, who each in their own unique ways are kind to him; the first (Winter) by encouraging him to meditate and reflect, the second (Spring) by bringing him fruit and flowers and revitalizing his garden, the third (Summer) convincing him to step outside and embrace the world, and the fourth (Fall) by encouraging him to be thankful for what he has. The old man gives the four sisters great powers in return for their kindness, and as the embodiment of the four seasons, they go through Remnant spreading their gifts.
While the existence of the Maidens was initially common knowledge, power-hungry individuals began to hunt them down in the hopes of inheriting their power. Because the consequences of these powers falling into the wrong hands would be potentially disastrous, a group was founded in order to protect both the Maidens and the people of Remnant.
The group decided to keep the Maidens secret from the public and allowed their existence to fade into myth and legend. This secrecy is still upheld by the current members of this group, which includes Ozpin, Qrow Branwen, Glynda Goodwitch, James Ironwood and presumably the Headmasters of Haven Academy and Shade Academy.
Some time around the events of the "Black" Trailer, the previous Fall Maiden, a young woman named Amber, was attacked by Cinder Fall and her allies, Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai. Cinder used a mysterious glove to steal Amber's powers, but was interrupted by Qrow Branwen, who severed the connection before Cinder was able to steal all of Amber's power. Cinder was able to escape, having stolen part of the Fall Maiden's power. Amber was left comatose by the attack and was therefore placed on life support in a vault deep beneath Beacon Academy.
Ozpin feared that if Amber were to die, her powers might pass to her attacker, as she is likely to be the last person in Amber's dying thoughts. Alternatively, upon her death, the power might attempt to seek to reunite with its other half, also currently being held by Cinder. The possibility of a dangerous individual assuming the powers of the Fall Maiden has the potential to threaten the peace that Remnant has been experiencing.
In order to avoid this, Ozpin and his allies elect Pyrrha Nikos to become the next Fall Maiden. As the succession cannot occur by natural means, they plan to use experimental Atlesian technology to artificially transfer Amber's Aura, to which the Maiden's power is tied, to Pyrrha. However, the other consequences of this are unknown and might have unintended effects on Pyrrha.
After Vale comes under attack by Grimm and the White Fang in an attack orchestrated by Cinder and her allies, Pyrrha decides to undergo the transfer. Unfortunately, the procedure is interrupted when Cinder infiltrates the vault and shoots an arrow into Amber's chest, killing her, and causing her power to reunite with its other half, completing Cinder's status as the new Fall Maiden.
Currently the Spring Maiden is also targeted by Salem's Faction. Qrow is also looking for her, believing that everyone will die without her. He tries to obtain the Maiden's location from his sister, Raven, but to no avail.
- Winter - Original Winter Maiden
- Spring - Original Spring Maiden
- Summer - Original Summer Maiden
- Fall - Original Fall Maiden
- Amber † - Former Fall Maiden
- Cinder Fall - Current Fall Maiden
- The colors meant to correspond to each Maiden appear to differ. Consistently, Winter is light blue and Spring is green. However, in "Fall", Summer was orange and Fall was purple, but in the RWBY: World of Remnant episode "The Four Maidens", Summer is purple and Fall is orange. In "Heroes and Monsters", the power of the Fall Maiden appears to be orange when it passes from person to person.
- It is revealed on the Volume 3 DVD Commentaries that the idea for the Maidens was thought up by Monty in between Volume 2 and Volume 3 and worked into the story.
- According to Ozpin's Group, Cinder is the first person to have stolen part of the Maiden's powers.