Chapter 10: The Last Pendant
24 hours before
The path ahead was narrow with dense forest at all sides. Only the headlight of Qrow's bike to light the way through the darkest of night. Pyrrha leaned over as she looked back the way they had came. But there was only darkness now. She could hardly see the flames of Arthamore in the distance. Nor the Grimm battle cruiser which hovered above the now flaming ruins of her home town.
She hoped that her mother and father had escaped Arthamore. If father would be able to find them. She glanced up at Qrow, who stared froward down what the light revealed of the path. Never once did he look back at the destruction they had left behind.
Pyrrha stood up in front of him.
"Where are we going?" she asked, curiously.
"Shouldn't we wait for Father?"
Qrow shook his head.
"No can do, kid," Qrow insisted.
"The Grimm will sending fighters to scout the mountains for survivors. Not to mention, we need to be out of range before we jump."
"Jump?" Pyrrha asked, curiously.
Qrow took one hand off the bike handle, reaching down to the pouch of his bike as he pulled out a relic the size of his palm. It was a circular shaped with several small hieroglyph along the edges with a small black circle at the very center.
"What's that?" Pyrrha asked, curiously.
"You ever hear of the Pendants?" Qrow asked, curiously.
Pyrrha gasped in realization of the artifact. All the stories which she had grown up reading, she remembered in 'The sage of the First Knight' the mages forged several artifacts that would allow one to travel to different realms without the use of the realms gateways.
"The Pendants?" She said.
"But I though they were all destroyed."
"Not all of them." Qrow insisted, holding up the pendant.
"Queen Maria been saving this one for a special occasion. Plus we're going to need it if we're going to make it to the Twelfth Realm."
Pyrrha glanced up to him.
"Twelfths Realm?" Pyrrha asked, curiously.
"Yeah." He answered.
"I've never been to the Twelfths Realm," she said turning forward, shaking her head.
"Is it safe?"
There was a sound of a fighter engine back from behind. Faint at first but was getting louder by each second. Qrow glanced back, knowing what it was.
"We've got company," he said, glancing down at her.
Qrow placed the Pendant in his right pocket. He then turn the bike and drover into a nearby ditch. He came into the behind the brush of ferns.
"Stay down." he whispered down to Pyrrha.
Qrow quickly switched off the bike's headlight and engine. Pyrrha glanced back and saw flashes of light above, beaming down over the path. She then gasped. The aircraft hovered over the trees, it's search light beaming down over the narrow opening above. Shining along the other side of the path before it glanced over in their direction.
Pyrrha gasped before hiding down behind the brush. Qrowo narrowed down next to the bike, avoiding the beaming light,
The Grimm pilot gazed down at his monitor, seeing the clutter of bushes over the screen. No sign of any of civilians or Troopers from Arthamore. He then turned and pressed the com link next to him.
"(Sector 8 is clear,)" The Pilot reported.
"(Returning to the Leviathan)"
The Fighter's light went out as the Fighter lifted up and turned around, flying back the way it had came. Qrow then stood up from behind the brush, looking back toward the fighter.
"Is it gone?" Pyrrha asked, curiously.
"Yeah, for now," he said.
"But there ma be other fighters on the way. We shouldn't stick around here for long."
Pyrrha breathed a sigh of relief. Qrow stood up, taking the handles of his bike as he pulled it out of the bushes. He then climbed onto the bike before starting the engines.
"Hang on." He said, before turning and continuing on down the path.
Several Grimm fighters flew from the mountains from the east. They then came under the Leviathan, which still hovered over the burning ruins of Arthamore. They came up to one one of the openings, where they folded their wings upward as they were pulled up into one of the hangers.
Admiral Syrus nodded his head to one of his officers delivering them the pilots scouting reports. He then heard the door of the command balcony opening above. He turned back and saw Cinder had returned from battle. He came up the steps of the balcony.
"Our fighters have returned from reconnaissance," He said.
"There are no sign of any survivors in the mountains. She must have escaped in the transports."
Cinder frowned, narrowing her head. She walked over to the edge of the balcony, pondering. If the prodigy had escaped on one of those transports, she would be halfway to Beacon by now. Word of their attack would have spread throughout the realm and defenses around the kingdom would be doubled. Making an assault against the Kingdom far more difficult. Even for the a ship as large and powerful as the Leviathan.
"If I may, my lady," Syrus then said.
"I must insist that we return to Xoria. The Beacon fleet will soon be on their way if they aren't already."
Cinder scoffed at the notion of leaving before ever seeing what the fate of the Prodigy was to be. Whether or not she lived was vital to the survival of their Empire. And this was but their one and only chance to ensure it. To leave before ever knowing was unacceptable.
The doors behind them then opened. Syrus glanced back and saw a Seer. A small spherical body with a single eyes, covered with bone-like plates with red tentacles ending with with bony spikes. The Seer hovered over the balcony and came up to Cinder and Syrus.
Cinder turned back at the Seer. It's only eye then formed into an image of Empress Salem.
"Cinder." He voice spoke through the Seer.
"My Empress." Syrus greeted, nodding his head to her.
"Has the girl been dealt with?" she asked.
Cinder hesitated for a moment, narrowing her eyes as she built up the courage to speak.
"I-I'm not sure." she then claimed.
"What do you mean your not sure?" She asked.
"We have yet to discover the fate of the Prodigy," she reported.
"Several transports had escaped during the attack. We believed she might have escaped during the assault."
Salem expressed a look of disapproval to her apprentices's failure.
"This is most disappointing, Cinder," she then said.
"She's a single child. And you couldn't even dispose of her. And now the future of out Empire may be at stake."
"Your majesty..." she said.
"Silence!" Salem commanded
Cinder fell silent to the word of her master.
"Return to Xoria at once," she then ordered.
"We shall discuss your failure."
Cinder attempted to speak up but withdrawn her words. Instead nodding in acknowledgement to her Empress.
"Yes, my Empress." she then said.
The projection then faded from the eye of the Seer. After of which, Cinder stood up, frowning. She glanced to Syrus.
"Set course for Xaria." she ordered.
"Yes, my lady." he said.
Coming out of the cover of the forest, Qrow came out over path along the top of the hills along the mountains. Qrow glanced back toward the forest behind them. They had to be miles away from Arthamore and from the sensors of the Leviathan. Nor had they seen any Grimm fighters in the past while.
Now seemed to be a good time for them to use the pendant.
"Looks like we're in the clear." Qrow claimed, turning back down the path.
Pyrrha glanced up to him.
"So what now?" Pyrrha asked, curiously.
Qrow pulled on the brakes as the bikes slid to a stop. Reaching down into his shirt pocket, he pulled out the Pendant. He reached down, pressing the hieroglyph at the bottom right. The hieroglyph lit up a bright light blue before the very center ignited. Qrow held up the Pendant, aiming it ahead.
A sudden beam of blue light then shot out from the center The Beam then disbursed several feet away from then opening a wide portal of light. Pyrrha of which gazed in awe at the sight of the portal. It was just as the stories had told. And now it laid bear to her young eyes.
Qrow placed the amulet back into his pocket, taking the handles of his bike. Revving the engines, he then drove forward into the portal.
A path of bright light with no horizon in sight. The sea of stars all around them with the beams of light shooting by at all sides. The stories spoke true to the very sight of Realm Crossing. Pyrrha gazed to the stars above. Countless small white lights atop a sky of darkness.
Pyrrha glanced down as she saw a singular star along their path. She held up her and took the star into her hands. She pulled down the star, staring down at it in awe. The star twinkled in her hands. Pyrrha gasped, smiling. It was just as mother said. The time she and Father voyaged the sea of stars.
She saw she plucked one of the stars from the blacken sky and it twinkled. It's been said whenever a star twinkled in one's hands, then ones wish would come true. Mother's wish was for her and her father to be blessed with a daughter. Which was often why father referred to her as their little star.
And now it was her turn to make a wish.
Pyrrha bowed her head before making a wish.
"I wish for mother and father and Juane to be safe." she said.
Pyrrha then lifted up her hands, letting the star drift away like a flower in the wind. She gazed up at the star before turning forward. It was there that she saw another bright light portal ahead.
Qrow leaned forward, peering ahead at the portal. Revving the engines, he drove forward toward the void of light, crossing over into world which lied on the other side.
They came out onto a highway with open farm land and grass plains at both sides. The sky was filled with light grey clouds. Judging by the amount of light, it looked to be mid day. Each realm had different times of days depending on whether they were North, East, West, south or even if they were the center realms on the map of the Realm of stars.
They had just crossed into the Twelveth realm, one of the far eastern worlds. And given they had came from the third realm so late at night, which usually meant it was mid day in the Eastern realms. Which meant they still had several hours of day light to reach the next town. Although that time proved to be more then enough.
In the distance, Pyrrha noticed a city with several tall structures below a large hill covered with dense forest. Surrounded by walls half the size of Arthamore's.
"There's a city over there." She said, glancing up at Qrow.
Qrow glanced to the city ahead, smirking.
"Lothadare." he then said.
"Lothadare?" Pyrrha asked, the name of which quite familiar to her.
Qrow glanced down to her. nodding his head.
"That's right, kid," He insisted to her.
"The kingdom where Akara trained to be a Knight of the Realms."
Pyrrha gasped with anticipation, glancing back over the city ahead. She couldn't believe it. They were here in Lothadare. The very Kingdom that was home to the household of Landora, Akara's family and their allies, the Household of Flamen.
Qrow peered ahead at the city. It was a relief to see it was not under Grimm occupation. Just as Queen Maria said it would be. Salem forces had yet to reach Lothadora. Where Akara had trained to be a Knight at Lothadare Academy. It was far from the where the war was and her forces were more focused on the core and Northern worlds.
He hoped that Headmaster Katsura had gotten Queen Maria's message and would be meeting them at the gates of the Academy. All of what remained of the teaching of the Knights of Opara were hidden there by the Realm's rulers. All in hopes to protect them from Salem's purge all the Realm's memories of the Knights and bring a new world order.
The Leviathan hovered over the dark, barren lands of Xoria, cruising toward Salem's castle. The hanger doors the ship open below as a shuttle accompanied by fighters flew ahead toward the castle.
Salem sat speechless at the head of the table, bowing her head with both eyes shut. Her silence of which felt by the several high ranking officers and her inner circle sitting presently at each side. And by Cinder who stood on the far end of the table. She stared to her master, trying hard not to show the fear she desperately tried to hide away.
Finally, the moment of mercy came as Salem then spoke.
"I give you our best armies," she said.
"You reduce Arthamore to ashes. And yet you can't tell me if the girl is alive or not."
Cinder bowed her head.
"She... she might have escaped someway," Cinder insisted to her master.
"But our fighters had destroyed most of their transports. She could have been..."
Cinder suddenly felt a firm grip over her body, dragging her down to her knees. She glanced up to Salem, holding out her hand in a demonstration of her power. The reaction from Salem's officers stared in awe at both Cinder and Salem, intimidated. Though her followers looked upon the sight of Cinder's bearing her mistress's wraith in pleasure.
"I did not ask for excuses," Salem declared.
"I asked of you to tell me if the girl is dead or not."
Salem tightened her grip over her Cinder, causing her to gasp. Desperate she tried to speak to end her suffering.
"Th- they must have known!" she then said.
Salem the paused, coming to a realization from the words of her apprentice. She then released her hold over her apprentice, causing Cinder to gasp at the relief of her now earned freedom from her master's wraith. She glanced up at Salem, who narrowed her head, pondering. Cinder stood up from the floor, facing her mistress.
"Impossible," Arthur Watts proclaimed.
"How could they have known?"
"No." Salem the stated, raising her hand.
Her officers and inner circle glanced to Cinder, curiously.
"Cinder speaks the truth." she insisted.
"You majesty?" Arthur asked, curiously.
Salem narrowed her head. The only possible explanation to this was that Queen Maria had warned them before the attack. Cleaver of her to say the least. Though having to known the queen for some time, Salem had leaned that she was cunning and strategic. Much of it was evident from the years battling against the forces of Ataria.
And even in death, Queen Maria continues to be a step ahead of her.
"Queen Maria would not have been so careless," Salem insisted to her inner circle.
"She must have warned them before the assault."
"With all due respect, your majesty," Admiral Syrus said, stepping forward.
"Arthmore wasn't aware of our presence before our infiltrators disrupted their communications."
"And even still, the prodigy managed to slip through your grasp." Arthur proclaimed.
"And with after such an attack, Lukas and the Alliance will no doubt be weary and will be prepared for our next more."
"Lukas will no longer be of any concern." Cinder said.
Salem glanced to her apprentice, squinting her eyes curiously.
"Whats that suppose to mean?" Arthur asked, curiously.
"Lukas is dead." she proclaimed.
"I saw to the matter myself."
It was a shock to hear the death of one of Akara's disciples. And by Cinder herself. Many of the officers chattered among each other of the very possibility. Hazel and Arthur glanced to her in awe.
"Lukas... is Dead?" Tyrian chucked, before bursting into a laughter of insanity.
Salem narrowed her gaze, expressing a grin of satisfactory.
"Then perhaps this day is not a total loss." She then said.
"But your grace, what does it matter?" Arthur questioned.
"Ozpin will only chose another to take his place. And the Alliance still poses a threat to our plans."
"The Alliance grows weaker with every loss they take," One of the high ranking officers insisted.
"And now that we were able to divide them, their cause will falter."
"But if the Prodigy has escaped Arthamore, the Alliance is not the only threat we face." Hazel proclaimed.
"Enough!" Salem demanded.
The room fell to silence upon the Empresses word. Once she had been given the attention of her subjects, Salem then spoke her will.
"The Alliance is the least of my concern," Salem claimed.
"And it is something I leave it to my Generals to handle. For now, we must find the prodigy and any that will train her."
"My Empress." Cinder said as Salem glanced to her.
"I will find the Prodigy."
"You?" Arthur said in disbelief.
Salem raised her hand to Arthur, silencing him. She then turned back to her apprentice.
"Cinder, I offer you the chance of redemption for your failure," she said.
"Find the Prodigy and bring her before me."
Cinder bowed to her Empress, accepting the task she had been given.
"As you wish, my Empress." she said.