Link to Masterpost
Qrow started to sag,and grunting with pain as he slid off her shoulder toward the ground, and Raven lowered him back to his hands and knees. He was healing, but slowly, and she still had to help him with simple things. Luckily—and undoubtedly due to the fact that his Semblance had no aura to misuse—no one had tried to kill him again.
“I just need a minute,” he panted, shivering.
“It’s fine.” Aura healing was a double-edged sword—it required a ludicrous amount of energy, and when the injuries were as severe as his it took even more of a toll.
Vanta hadn’t said a word to her since the morning after the raid. Finding Qrow breathing and bandaged had done nothing to improve her hangover or her bad temper. Since then they had stayed in their tent as much as possible, avoiding her and the rest of the tribe whenever they could, but they also couldn’t afford to skip out on work around camp. They were resented enough as it was. Raven had been hunting almost every day, and as soon as Qrow’s arms were well enough to hold a needle and thread they’d found a mountain of mending to him to do.
It still wasn’t enough. They’d never been popular before, but Bones had made sure they were at least tolerated.
“Okay, I’m ready to try again,” he groaned, reaching up with his good arm, but she slowly sank to his level instead.
There was no way around it. “We have to kill Vanta,” she breathed, too quiet to overhear even if someone had their ear against the tent.
Qrow stared at her like she’d just suggested teaching a Beowolf to fetch.
“Not now, when you’re well again. But she’s too dangerous for us to keep going like this.”
“Raven, the tribe would never follow us.”
“They don’t have to follow us. We’ll make them fear us.” She’d been thinking about it nonstop for the past weeks—fear of Qrow’s Semblance was the only way they could maintain control, even if it was dangerous. Though, if she was being honest, it wasn’t the risk she was afraid of. He wasn’t magic, couldn’t pull catastrophe out of thin air. She had a lifetime of experience predicting what would go wrong.
Once Qrow realized he could control the tribe on his own, he might decide he didn’t need her any more.
“…What if we took over for Bones?”
She almost laughed. He sounded frightened just suggesting it—the idea was laughable at best. “You really think we have the skill to fight fully-trained Huntsmen?” Vanta had been training with Sanguin and Brandi since it happened, getting ready for the battles to come. Any of the three of them could easily best Qrow or Raven separately. “We have nothing to offer but support.”
It took a Qrow a second to answer. “Not yet. But we could.” He leaned away and fumbled with his pack, pulling out a very rumpled book with more than a few pages missing.
“Kindling?” Raven asked, holding the front cover with two fingers and letting the rest of it dangle. “Or toilet paper, maybe.”
“I can’t exactly get out of camp to find a new one,” he muttered. Raven finally looked down at the cover. Application Guide was printed above the symbols of the four Kingdoms.
“No. No way. Aren’t you forgetting something?” she tossed the book back at him and tapped her wrist on the spot where her vambrace covered the brand. “We’d be found out easily.”
“Only at Haven,” Qrow said quickly. Raven couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Maybe Vacuo, I think they have tribes too. If we went to one of the other two—”
“Are you crazy?” Bones had taken them to see an execution, once. Not in Mistral—no, the great Kingdom was too civilized for that these days—in one of the southern cities where the capital’s control was near nonexistent. She’d been small enough to sit on his shoulders and watch above the crowd as they shot their tribemates one by one and cheered.
This is what happens if you surrender, he’d whispered as he put her down, lifting Qrow up to watch the rest.
“We’d be able to learn how they think, what their weaknesses are, how to fight them. Bones could match them because he knew their tactics. We’ve got plenty of time to scout it out and forge our papers. And no one in the tribe would dare mess with us if we could fight like that.”
Raven paused, a retort halfway to her mouth.
She could lead the tribe if she could fight like that. Bones couldn’t summon portals or cause disasters. All he had was skill and experience. Even Vanta would fall in line behind a bandit Huntress—if they survived the Academy.
“I don’t know what else to do,” Qrow said, staring down at the cover of the recruitment book.
Raven let her breath hiss through her teeth. This was a bad idea. “…I’m willing to hear more.”
He glanced up, meeting her eye for less than a second before flipping through the book again. “W-well, this thing has a couple pages on the different schools. And it says that anyone from any Kingdom can go to any Academy, and a lot of people from Anima end up going to Atlas and Beacon anyway because Haven doesn’t have enough room. We’d blend in, and who’d look for bandit brands at an Academy?”
“We’ve never been to school.”
“We don’t have to. They just want people who are trained to use their auras, especially if they can fight. They’ll happily recruit anyone, you know that.” He spoke more confidently now. “I think Vale is our best bet—Atlas has tighter security, they’re more likely to spot forged papers, but Vale’s tiny and desperate for recruits. And—” he flipped to a dog-eared page, “—they just got a new headmaster last year, the youngest in history. We can use his inexperience to our advantage.”
Raven almost hated to entertain the idea, but it was…compelling. “He wouldn’t be the only teacher, though.”
“No, but if anything went wrong we could portal to Vanta in the blink of an eye and they’d have no way to track us.”
“What about an ambush?”
“They’d have to break your aura with one shot. It’s more of a risk for me, isn’t it? I can’t get away on my own.”
“It’s not hard to grab you quickly if the need arises,” Raven muttered. Was she actually considering this?
When Qrow spoke again it was even quieter than before. “If anyone can teach me to control my Semblance, it’ll be them.”
That was too compelling to ignore. You could only roll the dice so many times before turning up snake eyes—and if his luck had killed before, it would again, and she could be next.
Raven made her decision. “I’ll help you convince Vanta.”