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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.
Powers and Abilities
While the full extent of their abilities is not known, Amber, the previous Fall Maiden, displayed several astounding abilities, including levitation, aerokinesis, telekinetically control leaves and freeze them solid to create deadly projectiles, manipulating 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 gained the same abilities when she became the Fall Maiden but continued to show her preference toward fire. The current Spring Maiden, Raven Branwen, has been shown to be able to summon lightning bolts and create ice.
The Maidens are able to use any elemental power they choose, not being limited to their season.
The power of the Maidens is independent of Dust use and distinct from a Semblance, drawing comparisons to "magic". It is tied to each Maiden's Aura in some way, but they do not need Aura to use their powers.
The Maidens are also each tied to a Relic, designated either through power or design to be the only ones who can open the chambers that the Relic is hidden in. Spring can access Knowledge, Fall: Choice, Summer: Destruction and Winter: Creation.
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.
In "Vault of the Spring Maiden", Cinder attempted to claim the powers of the Spring Maiden as well, showing that Cinder thinks she can claim multiple Maiden powers.
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.
The hermit in the story turns out to be Ozpin. How much of the story is true is unknown.
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, Leonardo Lionheart and presumably the Headmaster of Shade Academy. Raven is also aware of the secret.
Sometime 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.
Ten years prior to the events of the series, a newly minted Spring Maiden abandoned her responsibilities and training, running away and going missing ever since. It was later revealed during "Haven's Fate", that she found herself in the company of Raven. As worded by Raven, the previous Spring Maiden was not able to control her powers due to Raven's training or wasn't ready for the real world. Out of what she deemed mercy, Raven killed the girl and became the next Spring Maiden. Knowing she would be hunted, Raven had one of her tribesmen, Vernal, act as a decoy Spring Maiden. Raven reveals her powers during "Vault of the Spring Maiden" and defeats Cinder in battle.
- Unnamed Maiden - Current Host
- Original Winter Maiden †
- Raven Branwen - Current Host
- Unnamed Predecessor †
- Original Spring Maiden †
- Unnamed Maiden - Current Host
- Original Summer Maiden †
- The idea for the Maidens was thought up by Monty Oum in between Volume 2 and Volume 3 and worked into the story.
- The colors meant to correspond to each Maiden appear to differ between the show proper and RWBY: World of Remnant. Consistently, Winter is light blue and Spring is green. However, in "Fall", Summer was orange and Fall was purple, but in the 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.
- According to Ozpin's Group, Cinder is the first person to have stolen a part of the Maiden's powers.
- The age cutoff has been stated to be unofficially around thirty years old.