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Fanfic / Destinies of Remnant

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Destinies of Remnant is a RWBY fanfic by SolidSocialistShiba, a member of the duo TeaWithNyarlathotep. The premise is a set of eight What If? stories, each completely confined to their chapter.

The first chapter, The Wolves and the Soulless, has the deviation occur in "Heroes And Monsters," in which Roman Torchwick survives the Battle of Beacon, changing the course of Remnant history.

The second chapter, It's Your Blood That's Red Like Roses, has the deviation occur in "Tipping Point," where Ruby Rose and Tyrian Callows both die in the fight between the two factions, leaving Jaune Arc to pick up the pieces while Cinder Fall hunts the late Ruby's teammates.


The third chapter, I'm Not Your Sacrifice, has the deviation occur at an unspecified point in Volume 3, focusing on Pyrrha Nikos after she ran away from her duty of being the Fall Maiden and settled in a small town being harassed by the SDC.

The fourth chapter, Be Glad You Existed, is merely summarized with the words "It's time." The deviation is that Rhodes saved Cinder as a child, leading to her becoming a skilled Huntress and one of Ozpin's inner circle.

The fifth chapter, Exposed to the Sun, focuses on a rule change in PVP, preventing Pyrrha from fighting Penny at all, leaving things ambiguous as to what exactly happened to cause this deviation. It turns out that Mercury and Emerald pulled a Heel–Face Turn after feeling Cinder had gone too far.

The sixth chapter, This World Will Have No Peace features a version of Adam Taurus who missed one of the humans back in his character short, letting Ghira Belladonna die and putting Adam on a very different path to vengeance.


The seventh chapter, They'll Eat Each Other Whole, is the fic's Halloween Episode, focused on a version of Remnant where vampires are the main threat rather than Grimm, and the protagonists having to deal with a mysterious special vampire calling themself "Count Crimson."

The eighth and final chapter, You Will (Not) Prevail, has its summary simply open with lyrics from the show's "Divide." The deviation is that, in this timeline, Salem was the one who died; the end result is Ozma turning into the greatest villain Remnant ever came to know.

In January 2022, the first chapter of a sequel anthology, Paths of Remnant, was published. Chapter One, "Even Brilliant Lights," centers its scenario on the idea of speculating what would happen if Glynda never came to save Ruby in the show's first episode. This leads to Ruby being recruited by Roman. Its second chapter, "What A Sweet Release," focuses on the scenario of Neopolitan killing Cinder Fall and making a Heel–Face Turn. Its third chapter, "Born Indicted," is a Spared by the Adaptation story focused around Sienna Khan surviving Adam's attempted coup. Its fourth and final chapter focuses on Ruby being hunted by Tyrian Callows.


In February 2022, the first chapter of a spinoff entitled The Black Knight was posted. This spinoff is a prequel set before the events of "I'm Not Your Sacrifice," focusing on the chapter's Arc Villain. Tropes for The Black Knight can go in its own folder. Due to its premise being a Late-Arrival Spoiler, spoilers for "I'm Not Your Sacrifice" will be unmarked.

In March 2022, the first chapter of another spinoff, Winter Vacation, was published. This spinoff focuses on the Adam Taurus from "This World Will Have No Peace" as Team RWBY takes a vacation in the Schnee family mansion. Similarly to The Black Knight, spoilers for its preceding chapter will go unmarked.

Tropes in Destinies of Remnant and its spinoffs include:

     Main Series 
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In Chapter Four, all of Cinder's team is this— especially Adam, who underwent a Heel–Faith Turn. While the others were retconned into good guys by Cinder not being evil, Adam genuinely deals with his own issues and becomes a hero.
    • In Chapter Five, Emerald and Mercury decide they Know When to Fold 'Em with Cinder's ambition and decide to perform a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Chapter Six is based around this premise. While a Villain Protagonist, the version of Adam presented became The Chessmaster instead of a creepy stalker, showing ten times more class and politeness than his canon counterpart ever did.
    • Chapter One of Paths has Roman Torchwick in the role of an Adaptational Nice Guy, having a fair set of standards and a genuine conscience compared to his canon self, not to mention being a somewhat kindly, if unscrupulous, mentor toward Ruby.
  • Adaptational Sympathy:
    • Adam Taurus is consistently presented in a far more tragic and sympathetic light than in canon, even while not whitewashing his villainy:
      • In chapter five, he's presented with a greater emphasis on his nature as He Who Fights Monsters, with him even contemplating his actions and violent ways and concluding that he is perhaps a monster. In fact, he gets a pointedly tragic scene in which he sheds a single bloody tear while preparing to attack Beacon. Not that it impeded his willingness to commit awful crimes.
      • Chapter six, while still showing him as a monstrous Psychopathic Manchild, is far more intelligent and slightly more well-intentioned, and when the person he's going against is Jacques, it's simultaneously a good and bad thing when he inevitably comes out on top and takes the SDC for himself.
      • In chapter two of Paths, while it's made clear that Adam's backstory can only justify so many of his acts, the point is made that at his core, he's really a traumatized child lashing out at the world that hurt him so severely. He gave up all his chances at redemption, but he also didn't have that many to begin with.
    • Chapter Five provides us with a more sympathetic take on Cinder, who's grown disillusioned with Hunters as a whole and turned against them due to her tragic past with them. While she's still spiteful and cruel, more emphasis is placed on her sympathetic traits than in canon.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Chapter Three's Jaune Arc is evil in sharp contrast to his heroic canon counterpart, albeit implicitly not entirely of his own free will.
    • Chapter Six's Jacques Schnee, unlike the simple Corrupt Corporate Executive of canon, is Remnant's biggest crime kingpin under the table. Not only does he practice slavery using prison labor, he also backs terrorist organizations and is even implied to engage in Faunus trafficking and eventually murders a man himself. It's only fitting that a chapter that makes Adam an Adaptational Nice Guy would depict Jacques in such a negative light.
    • Chapter Seven treats Jaune as the main villain, this time entirely of his own free will. While he has redeeming qualities, he's a murderous vampire who killed Cardin, fights Pyrrha, and would have killed more people had Pyrrha not stopped him.
    • In possibly the biggest case yet, Chapter One of Paths hands the Villain Protagonist role to Ruby Rose herself, who is shady from the start but only gets worse as the story goes on, culminating in murdering two innocent people to secure her own escape from Cinder.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Characters are hit with The Worf Effect in various ways throughout the fic, but Aura in general is much weaker than in canon. More fights in the fic end with Aura broken than in any other fashion, with Yang in particular able to take out multiple characters Auras (Blake and Adam, specifically) with a single punch. The Black Knight indirectly justifies this by suggesting that each person's Aura has specific weak spots that drains them faster, indicating that characters were hitting each other in said weak spots.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • In "I'm Not Your Sacrifice," Pyrrha is heartbroken over the fact that she has to kill the corrupted Jaune, and is noticeably somber when talking about it the next day.
    • In "Even Brilliant Lights," Roman and Ruby end up showing down, and when Ruby scores a lethal blow, Roman hugs her and tells her to survive.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Adam isn't just vengeful in Chapter Six. He's dangerously ambitious, and manages to weave said ambition into his planned revenge with disturbing smoothness. Part of his revenge is stealing the SDC out from under Jacques Schnee.
  • An Arm and a Leg: A recurring theme with Cinder's Grimm arm in Chapter Two. Both Qrow and Jaune cut it off at points.
  • Anyone Can Die: Thanks to the alternate timeline, readers can't expect everyone to make it out of any given story. So far, between the first two timelines presented, casualties include Ruby herself, Tyrian, Cinder, Watts, Sienna Khan, Adam, and Qrow.
  • Arc Villain: Every one of the first five chapters has a main antagonist.
    • In Chapter One, Adam serves the role of The Heavy, but Torchwick is the proper main villain of the chapter, and gets away with arranging the White Fang's destruction along with Ironwood taking Menagerie.
    • In Chapter Two, Cinder is dispatched to hunt down the remains of Ruby's team. The Apathy also plays a role in this.
    • In Chapter Three, the Arc Villain initially seems to be the "Schnee Mob," but it's in reality a corrupted Jaune who's been stalking Pyrrha with intent to kill her.
    • In Chapter Four, the main villain is Arthur Watts, who plans to invade Beacon via a CCT tower.
    • Chapter Five has Adam Taurus and Cinder Fall as its main villains, attacking Beacon after Cinder's plans go wrong.
    • Chapter Six's Arc Villain is Jacques Schnee, the Corrupt Corporate Executive Adam desperately wants vengeance upon.
    • Chapter Seven's Arc Villain is the vampiric Jaune Arc, "Count Crimson," a murderous vampire the teams have been pursuing.
    • Chapter Eight has the Gods themselves, though Ozma never fights them properly, instead ending up reincarnating as in canon.
    • "Even Brilliant Lights" has Roman Torchwick in an Evil Mentor role, though Ruby herself turns out to be a Villain Protagonist.
    • "What A Sweet Release" repeats Adam Taurus's nature as the main villain from previous chapters, albeit he serves as one that's decidedly not very threatening— he struggles to even fight on even footing with the redeemed Neo and has to resort to dirty tricks every time to stand a chance.
    • "Born Indicted" is unique in that it technically has No Antagonist, as Sienna's plan goes off without a hitch halfway through the chapter after she posed as an ally to the heroes the entire time, killing her and all her targets. By the time the heroes find the truth, the only conflict is the moral dilemma of if they should reveal the truth about her actions.
    • "Small And Helpless" has Tyrian Callows, Salem's resident Ax-Crazy murderer who stalks Ruby across Remnant.
  • The Atoner: Chapter Four gives us Adam Taurus, who has undergone a Heel–Faith Turn and fights alongside the heroes as part of "Team MECA".
  • Author Appeal: There are recurring elements throughout the story, clearly added due to the creator's preference toward them.
    • The Bad Guy Wins crops up fairly often. It's rare to see a story in the collection without a villain winning somehow, though they do exist.
    • Of the villains throughout canon, easily the most prominent is Adam Taurus, who is also given a large dose of Adaptational Sympathy. Adam is a recurring presence, although this also means he's hit with The Worf Effect somewhat regularly, between being killed multiple times and effortlessly trounced by Neo.
    • The Chessmaster is a very common villain archetype, especially common to stories with a Villain Protagonist in the fic.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • In Chapter Six, Adam is more than capable of pinpointing social weaknesses in mere conversation, spotting cracks in everyone's personality. This helps him mask his own multitude of psychological issues and secure himself victories. His analysis of Jacques Schnee's paranoia wins him the world.
    • In Chapter One of Paths, both Ruby and Roman are explicitly shown using analytical skills to defeat opponents, with it being outright stated Roman passed it down to Ruby. Roman manages to terrorize Adam by deducing that he's weak without his sword, a feat Ruby repeats by defeating Weiss, Blake and Yang with her own analytical skills. Combining her knowledge of their personalities with her knowledge of their skills and powers leads to her swiftly forcing Yang to hit Blake, taking Yang out seconds after, and disarming and defeating Weiss. It seems she learned well from her Evil Mentor.
  • Badass Normal: In a world of Semblances, Watts in Chapter Four manages to take down twenty security guards with nothing but his gun, a grenade, careful exploitation of his surroundings, and brutal pragmatism.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • In Chapter One, Roman earns leave from Ironwood to live in a seaside mansion, killing countless White Fang members alongside Sienna and Adam, and gives Ironwood a perfect excuse to occupy Menagerie. The only consolation is that he's living in Mantle, which means his happy ending won't last forever.
    • In Chapter Six, Adam steals Jacques's company, takes his revenge, has Weiss and Winter disinherited (Though Weiss herself renounces her family name and inheritance afterward) and fortunately enough happens to save Atlas in the process. That's a lot of power to give to someone like him, and the story makes it very clear that it's not necessarily a good thing.
    • Chapter One of Paths once again features Roman winning, albeit at the cost of his own life. He goads Ruby into killing him, turning her to the side of evil not unlike him. Similarly, Ruby herself wins at the chapter's end, sacrificing two innocent lives to secure her own escape and declaring her intent to follow in Roman's footsteps.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • The Apathy, a seemingly unstoppable killing machine from canon? Cinder tames it in Chapter Two, and isn't even affected by its presence. This doesn't last at all, but it's impressive enough for the length of time it lasted.
    • In "Small And Helpless," Qrow re-routes his Semblance to give Ruby good luck at the last second, allowing her to unlock her own Semblance and kill Tyrian.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The first chapter has Roman outplay Team RWBY, killing Sienna Khan and Adam Taurus, not to mention giving Ironwood reason to occupy Menagerie and making it out unscathed, though the author's notes make a point of noting his happy ending won't last forever; a Foregone Conclusion considering what happens in the show itself. That said, all of Team RWBY escapes unharmed and reunited. It's noted that Blake and Yang are dating, Weiss runs the SDC, and Menagerie will be a foothold against Salem's forces.
    • The second chapter ends with Cinder dying at Jaune's hands, and Jaune realizing he can be a true hero in Ruby and Pyrrha's memory, just as Oscar approaches to join the party. That said, Ruby is still dead, Qrow is dead too, Yang is in mourning, and Emerald is the Fall Maiden, meaning the Fall Maiden is still on Salem's side; not to mention that Leo Lionheart is working for Salem, and Jaune's party is right in his territory.
    • The fourth chapter ends with the heroes winning, as per usual. Watts and his scheme are brought down, the White Fang is captured, and though it cost a reformed Adam's life, the heroes return home alive. Yang and Blake are implied to be dating, the White Fang is reformed by Blake and Sienna, and Beacon is shut down. Worst of all, however, Ruby's betrayal by Cinder to save Beacon from Watts disillusions her with Huntsman, brings out her latent negative feelings toward her mother, and drives her straight into Salem's hands.
    • The fifth chapter ends with the Battle of Beacon being stopped with minimal casualties, with Cinder and Adam defeated and Pyrrha being made the Fall Maiden. Salem's existence is exposed to the world, preventing her forces from acting in secret, and Mercury and Emerald have no regrets over their defection. However, Cinder and Adam both survive the battle and manage to reunite with Tyrian, Watts, and Hazel, with the five of them promising to continue their mission in spite of the loss.
    • The sixth chapter ends with Jacques stopped, thousands of innocents freed from their enslavement under him, and Adam's victory. However, Adam's victory is a key point in all this; now Adam is in control of the SDC, and while he may be an Adaptational Nice Guy compared to canon, that doesn't mean his reign is going to be a happy one. On the bright side, Adam decides to give hope (and by proxy, the world) a chance before he starts using his newfound power for evil. It seems optimistic on the surface, but as the author's notes point out, Adam is still extremely dangerous.
    • Chapter Seven ends with "Count Crimson" defeated, but it turned out that the vampiric leader was Jaune all along, who dies at Pyrrha's hand. Then, despite the heroes claiming victory for the most part, Salem contacts Strahd von Zarovich, which can't mean good things for anyone.
    • Chapter Eight ends with Ozpin resolving that he can't change what he's done, but he can try and fix the world, ending the otherwise dark chapter on a somewhat uplifting note.
    • Chapter One of Paths ends with Ruby killing Roman and becoming completely corrupted, just as Roman planned; however, she escapes Cinder's grasp, doing the thing Roman never could, and it's noted that there will be good, kind people looking for her. Though Ruby might seem to be descending into pure evil now, there's still a chance that she could be saved in the future.
    • "What A Sweet Release" is one of the happier endings, but despite everything the heroes can't help but pity Adam as he screams at Blake to kill him, and though Neo joining them and killing Cinder resolves many of their conflicts, in addition to Adam's defeat also making things easier, they're still on their way to Atlas which entails all the trouble of the show.
    • "Born Indicted" ends with the heroes trapped in a moral dilemma. Sienna's plan was an absolute success and peace between humans and Faunus is beginning to form across Remnant, but she achieved her goals through murder and Blake hasn't decided whether or not to risk said peace by revealing its cause to the world.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality:
    • Chapter One features Sienna Khan and Roman Torchwick versus Adam Taurus; a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Gentleman Thief versus an Ax-Crazy psychopath. As it turns out, Roman instigated the conflict to begin with, knowing Team RWBY could accept it easier if this trope were in play.
    • Chapter Four has Arthur Watts, a homicidally petty and spiteful Mad Scientist, versus Cinder, who remains well-intentioned yet willing to put innocent people like Ruby in danger to achieve her ends.
    • Chapter Six features Adam against Jacques. Adam is a sinister Manipulative Bastard with nothing but selfish intentions at heart, but he does have genuine moments of kindness, doesn't hurt people when it's unnecessary, and draws the line at certain acts. In contrast, Jacques is just a racist Smug Snake with nothing but greed and paranoia in mind when he takes any and all of his actions.
  • Bloodier and Gorier:
    • The vampire-centric seventh chapter is far more abundant on gore than the others, since blood and violence are iconic vampire traits.
    • "Small And Helpless" is extremely violent, being a horror story. While it doesn't revel in gore it showcases multiple instances of utter brutality courtesy of chapter villain Tyrian Callows, who is Ax-Crazy enough to keep the blood showering.
  • Breather Episode:
    • The fourth chapter is far more lighthearted than previous chapters, focusing on heroic versions of villains allying with Team RWBY to end a plot by Arthur Watts. That said, it has a very Bittersweet Ending— while Watts is stopped, Ruby is disillusioned with heroism and is at risk of being corrupted by Salem.
    • If the fourth chapter wasn't it, the fifth absolutely is. The deviation it focuses on is small but essential, with it being a much lighter chapter on the whole. All the good guys come out alive, the villains are defeated, and literally no named characters die in a first for the fic. Even Adam, who was literally cornered by a pack of Grimm and had lost an arm, shows up again afterwards.
    • While Chapter Seven is horror-themed, it's also much, much Denser and Wackier than the typical Destinies story, featuring characters casually offing vampires, the sheer ridiculousness that is Jaune as an evil mastermind and his refusal to take anything especially seriously, and a lot more jokes than usual.
  • The Cavalry: Near the end of the second chapter, the Mistral military saves Jaune, Nora, and Ren from the Apathy.
  • Central Theme: Both Destinies and Paths have one.
    • In Destinies, the Central Theme is fate. It focuses on how one small event can alter entire parts of a story or a person. It also addresses You Can't Fight Fate— while many of the timelines end up with very cynical outcomes (Ozma becoming evil and Pyrrha abandoning Beacon being two prominent examples), there are also many that include small events or decisions that save lives and change fate for the better (The Battle of Beacon being sabotaged by Mercury and Emerald, Cinder becoming a hero, and surprisingly enough, Adam conquering the SDC, which saves a lot of people from their suffering). Overall, the theme is that small things can have massive consequences.
    • Paths has heroes, villains, and those in between. The first chapter is centered around Roman playing the role of Evil Mentor to Ruby, whereas the second focuses on the idea of the murderous Neo seeking redemption. The third, meanwhile, is about the hard nuances and the question of if violence can be justified, placing Sienna firmly in the role of A Lighter Shade of Black. Ultimately, the fourth closes off this theme by featuring Ruby, untrained and sheltered in this timeline, up against Tyrian, a representative of bloodlust, sadism, and violence; essentially, seeing what would happen if Ruby didn't get trained to be a hero.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Some of the What If? scenarios involve characters who never showed down in canon getting to fight. This includes:
    • Roman Torchwick versus Adam Taurus in the first chapter is pointedly an Evil Versus Evil conflict. The battle of Gentleman Thief versus an Ax-Crazy Iaijutsu Practitioner ends with Roman taken out easily, although not dead.
    • "Even Brilliant Lights" sees Ruby taking on her own team in a full-on fight, backed by Awesomeness by Analysis.
    • "What A Sweet Release" has Neopolitan, a master Professional Killer, up against Adam Taurus who has already developed his advanced moveset from Volume 6. It's an effortless victory on Neo's end twice. Adam barely hangs on using cheap tricks.
  • Crossover: The seventh chapter ends with Salem contacting Strahd von Zarovich from across dimensions, and forming an alliance with him.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The first chapter is essentially a fun romp similar to the show's earlier seasons, greatly focused on Roman and his alliance with Team RWBY, with the team banding together. The only named casualties are Sienna Khan and Adam Taurus— both villains, though the former is a more sympathetic villain. The second chapter opens with Ruby herself dying and has a much more brutal and depressing tone, focused on Jaune's internal struggles, and racks up a much higher bodycount of named characters even beyond Ruby, including Tyrian, Watts, Qrow, and Cinder.
    • The third chapter focuses on Pyrrha's Refusal of the Call, and has an almost horror-esque tone in its second half, with Pyrrha showing down against one enemy— a corrupted Jaune Arc, who she kills. Aside from some quick flashes of humor, it's a dark chapter through and through.
    • The sixth chapter, despite not being especially grim in terms of casualties, is also much darker in tone and slower in pace, since it's following a version of Adam Taurus in a revenge quest. It delves into topics of slavery, prejudice, and revenge; not to mention mental illness and trauma are central themes.
    • The eighth chapter is easily the darkest, focusing on Ozpin potentially being Driven to Suicide as its main conflict, examining the dark history of a potentially evil Ozma, and carrying themes of fate, free will, and self-destruction. That said, this chapter has a happier ending compared to many; Ozpin firmly decides to choose the side of good for once, and to try and fix what he's destroyed.
    • Chapter One of Paths follows these up with what is essentially a darker twist on the opening chapter of Destinies. Once again, it's focused on a Villain Protagonist with Roman in the spotlight; however, unlike the Bittersweet Ending which leaned to the "sweet" side in "The Wolves and the Soulless," "Every Brilliant Light" instead displays corruption of the worst sort, most notably happening to Ruby herself.
    • "Born Indicted" is a frank and often grim take on the question of "Is violence necessary to achieve peace?" It never answers it outright, but the atmosphere is dark and the conflict, even among the protagonists, is heavy. The ending is also the strongest cliffhanger in the fic, as it asks "can peace be successful if it's based on a lie", with Sun and Ilia both arguing different sides and Blake not knowing what to do.
    • "Small And Helpless" proves easily the darkest story in either fic. An outright horror story focusing on Ruby being hunted down by Tyrian, it pulls no punches in its depiction of Tyrian's pure, uncompromising evil, pettiness, and brutality, with every attempt made to make the character and story outright skin-crawling.
  • Dark Is Evil: As per usual, Adam Taurus, Cinder Fall, and Salem are all clearly displaying their characteristic dark color schemes, not to mention the Grimm. However, the fic adds a couple specific examples.
    • The mysterious "Grimm" in Chapter Three is in reality Jaune Arc, darkened and corrupted beyond recognition.
    • While Adam always counted for Dark Is Evil in canon, his depiction in Chapter Six takes the cake. Everything he has is Red and Black and Evil All Over, and when he creates his new world at the end, he carries on with that color scheme.
  • Death by Adaptation: The fic provides a set of deaths, all before the characters die in canon if they do at all.
    • Ruby herself dies to kick off the second chapter, poisoned by Tyrian.
    • Tyrian quickly follows in Ruby's footsteps, killed by Qrow in a blind rage.
    • Qrow is killed by Cinder and the Apathy.
    • Cinder is shot by Crescent Rose, and killed by the Apathy when she loses control of them.
    • Jaune Arc ends up dying to Pyrrha at the end of the third chapter, since he's been corrupted.
    • Tyrian bites it again in Chapter Four, courtesy of Watts taking a "hunting trip" with him.
  • Decapitation Presentation: In "Born Indicted," Sienna asserts dominance over the White Fang by showing them Adam Taurus's severed head as proof that he is dead, and his corrupt goals with him.
  • Denser and Wackier: Chapter Seven is much more laden with jokes than most chapters despite its Gothic Horror setting; it plays on many vampire tropes humorously, has many a Shout-Out, carries an overtly silly tone, and not only does Jaune turn out to be the main villain and an evil mastermind, he cracks jokes pretty much the entire final fight. Oh, and then? Salem contacts Strahd von Zarovich. It's clearly not a very serious chapter.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Sienna and Adam in Chapter One are killed in the White Fang base explosion, rather than via impalement like in canon.
    • Arthur Watts falls to the Apathy in Chapter Two.
    • Chapter Four gives us two examples: Watts is killed by Cinder and turns to ash thanks to a Fire Dust arrow, and Adam is killed by his own Moonslice in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Chapter One of Paths gives us a version of Roman who dies by being killed by Ruby, not by being Eaten Alive as his canon counterpart is.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The third chapter initially seems to have the "Schnee Mob," a set of SDC thugs, as its main villains. Of course, this being a Pyrrha-centric story where the protagonist quickly outclasses them, they're traded at the halfway point for a corrupted Jaune Arc, who takes center stage and nearly kills Pyrrha himself.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "Small and Helpless" has Tyrian Callows stalking a young Ruby Rose, trying to hunt her down for his own interests, and pinning her to a wall and pinching her cheek once he catches her, later even stating his intent to "devour" her. While he just wants to kill her, his interactions with Ruby have something of a predatory undertone.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • In the second chapter, Qrow charges directly into superheated fire to kill his opponent, Cinder. Unfortunately, he fails to land a blow.
    • The death of Adam in Chapter Four. He breaks his vow of peace and unleashes a wave of Moonslice so powerful that it disintegrates everything in the room— himself included. It's the most powerful he's ever seen at.
    • Subverted by Watts, who reaches for a detonator to detonate everyone... and dies before he can hit the button, killing nobody.
    • Sienna closes out a speech in "Born Indicted" with a declaration of defiance, and then explodes alongside the entire room. Doubly impressive once it's revealed that she planned the whole thing, fully knowing she'd die.
    Sienna: I will die for my people.
    • In "Small and Helpless," Taiyang only dies after giving Tyrian the fight of his life, then getting back up from impalement to save his daughter, a Papa Wolf to his last breath.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • In Chapter Five, the heroes finally gain a complete victory. They win the Battle of Beacon without a single named casualty due to Mercury and Emerald's defection, and after a brutal fight, Cinder is driven back. While Salem sends her entire council to compensate, it's a much happier ending than normal.
    • After constant horror and suffering in "Small And Helpless," Ruby kills Tyrian, letting Qrow and herself escape Salem's gaze and letting them make amends and live a normal life, with Ruby finally getting to become a Huntress.
  • Enemy Mine: Team RWBY allies with Roman Torchwick out of convenience in the first chapter. Torchwick uses this opportunity to play things into his hands, perfectly achieving his orders.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • Chapter One has Roman Torchwick and Neopolitan (admittedly alongside the heroes) go up against the White Fang in Chapter One. It's a crime lord versus a terrorist organization. Torchwick wins hard— he erases the White Fang from the map in pretty much one night.
    • Cinder and Watts retain their enmity from canon, which only grows when the two are on a mission together. It isn't long before Cinder offs him in the field.
    • Chapter Six's conflict is between Adam, a backstabbing, vengeance-fueled Manipulative Bastard, and Jacques Schnee, who runs a Mega-Corp that is essentially a criminal empire. Adam is the Villain Protagonist while Jacques is very clearly the main antagonist. Adam tricks Jacques into handing over his company and has him arrested, alongside saving Atlas when Jacques has a Villainous Breakdown.
    • Watts and Tyrian have a brief conflict in "Small And Helpless," which is quickly resolved when Tyrian murders him in cold blood.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The reader knows that, due to the story not diverging too far from canon, Torchwick's happy life in Mantle from the end of Chapter One won't last due to the events of Volume 8.
  • For Want of a Nail: Each chapter has one divergence from canon, which, while seemingly innocuous, has major effects.
    • In the first chapter, Ruby figures out a way to beat Neo and Roman without seemingly killing Neo. Due to this, Roman and Neo survive, Ruby allies with them against Salem's forces, Team RWBY reunites early, and Roman singlehandedly organizes the end of the White Fang and the deaths of Adam Taurus and Sienna Khan, giving way to Ironwood occupying Menagerie.
    • In the second chapter, Qrow arrives seconds too late to keep Ruby from getting poisoned by Tyrian. The end result is Ruby dying, Qrow killing Tyrian, and Team JNR deviating from their course entirely. On the villains' side, Cinder kills Watts far earlier than in canon, before dying herself thanks to Jaune. Emerald becomes the Fall Maiden.
    • In the third chapter, something much less inconspicuous changes. Pyrrha Nikos refuses to become the Fall Maiden, and as such, Jaune Arc ends up corrupted into a brutal Grimm hybrid, Salem fakes her death and continues plotting things out two years later, and the world is none the wiser to her being alive.
    • In the fourth chapter, Rhodes saved Cinder from enslavement years ago and Cinder became a very skilled Huntress and one of Ozpin's inner circle, forcing Watts to work on his own and orchestrate the fall of Beacon, an attempt he fails at... unfortunately, Cinder's morally gray methods disillusion Ruby and it's implied Ruby may join Salem thanks to her. All this change happened because a Huntsman rescued one girl.
    • In the fifth chapter, Mercury and Emerald somehow sabotage the system at the Festival, preventing Pyrrha and Penny from fighting each other. The result is the Battle of Beacon, while still occurring, becoming a complete failure, with Cinder being driven back, the Fall Maiden powers going to Pyrrha, the White Fang being almost disbanded, and Salem's group being exposed.
    • In the sixth chapter, Adam misses a shot and accidentally lets Ghira Belladonna die, causing him to see himself as a failure. The end result is an Adam who is no less vengeful, but slightly less evil and a lot more effective and clever. Among other things, rather than targeting all humans, he aims straight for the top, deciding he will settle things with Jacques Schnee and put himself on top, to boot.
    • In chapter eight, Salem dies instead of Ozma, and he pisses off the Gods while trying to find a way to cure her. The result is him accidentally discovering the multiverse, the Gods cursing him with his reincarnation for a different purpose, and Ozma carving a bloody path through history as humanity's greatest enemy, only with no-one able to stop him.
    • In chapter one of Paths, Glynda doesn't arrive to save Ruby during the Dust heist, so Roman saves her instead. The result is a Ruby who is far more capable and dark than in canon, Roman dying several volumes early at Ruby's hand, Team RWBY breaking apart at the seams, and Ruby and Neo fleeing Cinder to go to Mistral.
    • In chapter two of Paths, "What A Sweet Release," Neo makes the fateful decision to make a Heel–Face Turn and kill Cinder before she can travel alongside her. This results in the heroes having Neo on their side, and she even fights Adam— and twice proves vastly superior in combat.
    • In chapter three of Paths, "Born Indicted," Sienna Khan is Spared by the Adaptation by virtue of Hazel's intervention. As a result, she pulls a gambit that trades her own life, and many others, for peace between Faunus and humans.
    • In chapter four of Paths, "Small And Helpless," Salem discovers Ruby's Silver Eyes. The result is a brutal chapter in which Tyrian murders Ruby's father and hunts her to the ends of Remnant out of spite.
  • Freudian Excuse: Discussed Trope in multiple chapters, with conclusions ranging from Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse to genuine sympathy.
    • In "The Wolves and the Soulless," Blake calls out directly that Adam has become He Who Fights Monsters, noting that his aspirations to enslave humanity are exactly what humanity would have done to him.
    • In "Exposed to the Sun," Blake makes it very clear that she does not care about how badly she hurt Adam by leaving him, because, as painful as it was, he was an abusive psychopath and his response of trying to murder her and everyone she loves is completely unjustified. However, attention is paid to Adam's emotions in this scenario— while Blake rightly has no sympathy, Adam's pitiable nature is clearly on full display even as he's shut up by a pack of Grimm.
    • In "This World Will Have No Peace," Adam is called out multiple times on the lack of justification his backstory has. Multiple characters, from Sienna to Willow, point out that he doesn't actually care about the cause, only giving a damn about his own revenge and lust for power. Adam in turn rebukes this, but by the end has come to recognize that he's acting solely out of spite, and channels that spite to good deeds in freeing the SDC's slaves.
    • In "They'll Eat Each Other Whole," Pyrrha calls Jaune out on their otherwise sympathetic motives, noting that, no matter how inferior they may have felt, their response of murdering a person and intending to murder others for disrespecting them is completely unjustified.
    • Zig-Zagged between Freudian Excuse and Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse with "You Will (Not) Prevail." On the one hand, Ozma is a Tragic Villain whose suffering comes about due to repeated instances of violence in his past, often out of his hands. On the other, the God of Light takes him to task for not accepting fate, while giving him a chance for redemption. However, Ozma ultimately subverts the hell out of Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse and viciously calls the Gods out on their misdeeds and mistreatment of humanity, noting that for all they try to treat the problems like they're his fault, they're the ones with the power to fix it.
    • Roman plays Freudian Excuse fully straight in "Even Brilliant Lights," noting to Ruby that his mother's abandonment of him led to much of his cynical worldview. Ruby expresses sympathy, as, after all, she's dealt with something similar.
    • In "What A Sweet Release," a fair amount of the chapter is spent discussing whether the trope applies to Adam. Multiple characters debate whether the horrible suffering he's endured justifies his descent into being a narcissistic Psychopathic Manchild. Ultimately, they conclude that it doesn't matter, as it's not their job to fix him. While sympathetic, Blake points out that she did nothing to hurt him and that his blame of her is just an excuse to hurt someone weaker than himself, telling him outright that she's tired of dealing with the consequences of evil humans' actions.
    • In "Born Indicted," Sienna discusses the fact that Adam, while he had to die, was ultimately a tragedy in her eyes. After all, while he chose to be an ambitious monster in the end, that choice was heavily influenced by what he'd endured at humanity's hands.
    "Yes, he was rabid, but it wasn’t from nothing. Someone has to infect an animal with rabies. I didn’t forget that. I won’t forget that. Adam is what he is because someone gave him a reason to be. Because they gave him a reason to be."
  • Genre Shift:
    • The third chapter is a Pyrrha-focused chapter that initially plays out more like an old-school Shane-style western (with elements of horror) than a typical RWBY-style story. Then it transitions into straight horror as the corrupted Jaune hunts her down and fights her.
    • The sixth chapter is very much an intense drama or revenge thriller moreso than a fantasy story. While it still focuses on Remnant and still features its fantastical elements, the adventures are eschewed in favor of a focus on Adam's vendetta against Jacques, his way of handling it, and the consequences.
    • "Small And Helpless" is a horror chapter in an otherwise action-laden dramatic collection (Paths). In it, Ruby is an untrained teenage girl running from the Ax-Crazy Tyrian Callows, who pursues her everywhere she goes in the aim of killing her. Many of the situations trap her Alone with the Psycho, and any character who gets in Tyrian's path soon finds themselves in grave danger.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The fact he's reformed in Chapter Four doesn't stop Adam from holding some ill will toward humans. Not too much, but he outright states he still hates them even if he's just fine collaborating with them.
    • A huge theme in Chapter Six. Jacques thinks of Faunus as less than human; of course, this isn't saying much, since Jacques doesn't seem to see other humans as people anyways.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Adam Taurus of all people experiences one prior to the events of Chapter Four, all thanks to the intervention of Cinder.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Despite both thinking they could control it in Chapter Two, Cinder and Watts both end up put down by the Apathy. Especially notable with Cinder, who outright had it under her command... until she lost control when Jaune shot her.
  • Hope Springs Eternal:
    • The main theme of Chapter Two. Even though Ruby and later Qrow die in the fight against evil, other heroes live on— most notably Jaune, who takes up Ruby's weapon and becomes her successor in all but name.
    • The ending of Chapter Eight has Ozpin concluding that hope does, in fact, exist and converting to the side of good.
  • Hunting "Accident": Watts mentions offhand in Chapter Five that the mission fell to him after Tyrian "fell" in a "hunting" trip with him.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Small and Helpless" gives Tyrian multiple lines alluding to possibly being a cannibal. Notably, he also compares himself to a dragon when fighting Ruby and states his intention to "devour" her.
    Now, Humans, they squeal like pigs, but they’re so much more satisfying. So much more tender, and the way they run is so much more natural, you know? The hunt. The thrill of the chase. Not necessary, but akin to appetizers on a wondrous meal. Granted, pigs make better meals than men, but...
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Sienna Khan and Adam still die in Chapter One, and the White Fang still falls. It's just quicker this time around.
    • Also in Chapter One, Ironwood occupies Menagerie under false pretenses, having sent Roman out to provide reason for it— a signal that he's starting his descent into evil from canon.
    • Even though everything's changed, in Chapter Two, Oscar still manages to meet the heroes, and implicitly Ozpin with him.
  • Light Is Not Good: In Chapter Six, Jacques Schnee always wears white. Tellingly, he's somehow even more despicable than Adam by a wide margin, being more vicious, prejudiced, and actively vile with his operations.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Chapter Two. As Jaune notes, if Qrow hadn't arrived mere seconds too late, Ruby would have survived— she would've been taken by Tyrian, which wouldn't be nice unto itself, but Qrow killing Tyrian in a rage was what sealed Ruby's fate.
  • No Antagonist: "Born Indicted" ends up without a main antagonist when Sienna dies in a bombing, forcing the heroes to investigate a mystery to which the only solution is that their victim planned their own death.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • In Chapter One, Ruby and Yang take out multiple mooks offscreen, with the story returning to them once the fight is done.
    • Prior to Chapter Four, Cinder apparently captured and talked down none other than Adam Taurus himself!
    • In Chapter Four, Yang and Mercury taking on a group of machine gun turrets is completely offscreen, with it picking up again after they're done. In the same chapter, it's implied that Watts somehow managed to kill Tyrian offscreen.
    • In Chapter Five, Cinder takes on a veritable gauntlet of foes. While part of the fight is onscreen, Cinder defeats multiple named characters without much as to how it happened during the cuts away from her action.
    • In Chapter Five, Adam, despite losing an arm, apparently manages to take out an entire room full of Grimm, since he has no interest in running away, no viable escape route, and shows up with a robotic arm later on in the chapter.
    • In Chapter Six, the city of Atlas saves itself from Jacques Schnee's Villainous Breakdown, with some help from the White Fang.
    • In "Small And Helpless," Tyrian ends up against sixty police officers, opening by brutally killing two. Cut to Ruby's perspective? Tyrian's annihilated the entire building with no sweat.
  • One-Man Army: It's a What If? of RWBY. This trope is natural considering the World of Badass the source material takes place in.
    • Sun in Chapter One is described as wiping out White Fang mooks "like a machine."
    • In Chapter Four, Arthur Watts takes out a total of twenty men in a lengthy action sequence, equipped with only a revolver, a couple grenades, and his wits.
    • Chapter Five has a brutal example in the form of Cinder Fall, who fights Jaune, Nora, Ren, Weiss, Ruby, Penny, Emerald, and Mercury in a row— and wins, only to get humiliatingly defeated by Pyrrha.
    • An offscreen example in Chapter Five, due to Adam taking on an entire room full of Grimm, one-armed, and winning.
    • Tyrian Callows in "Small And Helpless" wipes out an entire sixty-person police unit in pursuing Ruby.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The third chapter's ending is quite dark. Salem is alive, Pyrrha fights and kills a corrupted Jaune, and has to leave her life behind. That said, there is a small victory— Pyrrha gains the information that Salem is alive and starts traveling the world to reveal the truth.
  • Refusal of the Call: The cause of the third chapter's timeline. Pyrrha Nikos runs away from Beacon after being offered the opportunity to be the Fall Maiden.
  • Ruder and Cruder:
    • The language in Chapter Six is harsher than the rest of the fic. This is first indicated by Adam saying "Fuck the White Fang" at its start. Other characters follow suit, with curses being tossed around much more liberally.
    • None of Paths of Remnant holds back with the language, with characters more than happy to curse compared to the original.
  • Sadist: The defining trait of one Tyrian Callows. He could achieve his goals efficiently and simply, but in none of the stories is he depicted as anything but a soulless murderer who takes absolute pleasure in causing others discomfort and pain, only opting for quick kills when it's necessary to get to his real goal.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • In "This World Will Have No Peace," Adam responds to Jacques' ranting with four simple words and one simple action: Using Moonslice to brand the bastard like he himself had been branded.
    Adam: There. Now we match.
    • In "What A Sweet Release," Adam is going on an infuriated speech about how humanity hurt him, once again trying to draw pity. Oscar, who he's taken hostage, has none of it and, while showing sympathy for his pain, rebukes him.
    Oscar: I don't blame you for being damaged, but you were the one who decided you weren't worth fixing!
    • In "Small and Helpless," when Tyrian is giving one of his dramatic monologues about how viciously he's going to kill Ruby, comparing them to a fairy tale, Ruby activates her Semblance and begins to attack him, before finally declaring "You're the big bad wolf? I'm a huntress." She then decapitates him, finally ending his danger.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Willow Schnee in Chapter Six. The one conversation she has with Adam finally lets him release his years of pent-up trauma and express his hatred, which leads him to a more hopeful conclusion.
    • In "Born Indicted," Hazel only appears a few times and has little to say but saved Sienna, and Adam died before the story yet proves a talking point for multiple characters' philosophies, with his sword even being the key to Sienna's secret chamber.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Chapter One has this as the entire premise; Roman survives the Battle of Beacon where he died in the main series, and proceeds about his usual antics.
    • Chapter Four spares Rhodes due to him saving Cinder and getting out of dodge.
    • Chapter Five spares Roman again due to him never getting released during the improvised Battle of Beacon, which is lampshaded as he sits in his prison cell.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Of the show's villains, Adam Taurus shows up very prominently among the villains. He's mentioned often and is a major character in the first, fourth, and fifth chapters of Destinies, discounting its sixth chapter where he is the Villain Protagonist in his own right, and shows up as a major figure in Paths' "What A Sweet Release," even being featured (albeit as a severed head) in "Born Indicted," with his legacy and death looming over the story's events.
  • Take Up My Sword: Jaune uses Crescent Rose to shoot Cinder near the end of the second chapter. He then has it reforged into a greatsword.
  • Take That!:
    • In Chapter Five, Roman is left sitting in his prison cell during the improvised Battle of Beacon, noting that he feels like "something really terrible and contrived was supposed to happen to me right about now".
    • In "Small And Helpless," Tyrian delivers a crack that keeping secrets is called "pulling an Ozpin" under Salem, no doubt alluding to Ozpin's infamous and divisive habit of concealing important information in the canon of the show.
  • Taking You with Me: Watts attempts this when cornered in Chapter Four. Thanks to Cinder's timely intervention, he fails completely.
    I suppose... better to burn out than...
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • In Chapter One, Roman points out that Huntsmen are essentially legalized criminals, with licenses to commit vigilantism. Then he points out that he himself was released due to being useful, so the heroes can't judge him. Team RWBY end up conceding the point.
    • In Chapter Five, Watts states outright that Cinder is only in it for herself. While he's a Smug Snake, Cinder ends up confirming that she went off-book to recruit Ruby to achieve her goals.
    • In Chapter Six, Sienna and Adam directly trade examples. Sienna calls out Adam for being a narcissistic "child," which Adam impotently refutes, only to follow up by laying out that the White Fang is backed by Jacques Schnee under a shell company. The following speech breaks Sienna's will.
    "Yes," Adam responded. "Backing every single attack the White Fang has perpetrated. Every weapon or bit of Dust we’ve bought legitimately. The SDC, under different names. Jacques Schnee has funded every one of our attacks. Every casualty. Every death. All of it, on his hands. He played us for fools, Sienna, just like he’s been doing from the start. Even those supremacists, the ones who killed Ghira? He hired them to catch us. He knew their views. We fell right into his hands, time and time again, as he drove us to further violence. He even has all his shipments insured. Every blow we thought we were striking against him was just more money in his pocket. The White Fang isn’t rebelling against the SDC, it’s a goddamn subsidiary! Everything you ever fought for was a lie!"
    • In Chapter Six, Adam points out that Weiss can't just go and tell the public about the truth; they have to know the truth, at least many of them, and if she tries to tell them the only one who will suffer is her. He does end up caving to her as part of his plan, having her expose Jacques's crimes in a video once Adam's released the evidence to the world.
    • Chapter Six delivers Adam unleashing a broken rant to Willow, where he rails against humanity for leaving him (Though he notably doesn't mention his fellow Faunus at all) to suffer. Ultimately a Downplayed Trope though, as while Willow doesn't refute his claims or try to downplay his pain, she does call out the fact he just wants power and point out that he's lashing out due to his trauma.
    "Where?" Adam asked. "That’s always what people say. There are good humans. Where were they? Where were the good humans when I was in the mines? Where were the good humans when I was starving? When my body was falling apart? Where were the good humans when I was running away? Where were they when I walked the streets, branded, my very face proof of Jacques Schnee’s crimes? The same place they always were. Right there. They could see it. They just didn’t care! I don’t hate humans. I hate humanity. That apathy. That sick feeling that there’s nothing we can do. I hate it because I know it’s right."
    • Sienna Khan is ultimately proven right that killing a select few people in a single strike can create some level of peace and unity as opposed to the mindless violence the White Fang practiced under Adam.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • Chapter One prominently features Roman among the heroes, performing an Enemy Mine despite still being unrepentantly evil.
    • Chapter Six is focused entirely on Adam, who while not as bad as in canon, is a ruthless and treacherous schemer who's just fine with destroying lives in order to claim his vengeance.
    • Chapter Eight focuses on an evil version of Ozma/Ozpin, who descended into immorality thanks to Salem's death.
    • Chapter One of Paths focuses on Ruby, who goes from somewhat morally dubious at its start to taking down her own team, albeit non-lethally, killing Roman, and sacrificing innocent lives to save her own. While not as evil as some of the previous ones, Ruby definitely proves that Roman's teachings got to her.
  • Wham Line:
    • The end of the first fight scene in Chapter Four serves as an indication of exactly what the chapter's premise is, and who Ruby's rescuer is.
    "I'm a Huntress," she said. "My name is Cinder Fall."
    • When the heroes arrive at the monastery in Chapter Four, they meet Cinder's fourth team member: Adam Taurus.
    From behind the tree emerged a man in a blue robe, the same as all the others. It clashed with his wild, long red hair and horns; it matched perfectly his left eye, yet his right remained scarred and crimson. Across his face ran a thick, red brand which read SDC.
    • Chapter Six gives us the line that reveals exactly who has been backing the White Fang, a horrific truth that breaks Sienna Khan into allying with Adam.
    Adam: "Backing every single attack the White Fang has perpetrated. Every weapon or bit of Dust we've bought legitimately. The SDC, under different names. Jacques Schnee has funded every one of our attacks."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Out of all of Cinder's team seen in Chapter Five, Neopolitan remains completely unaccounted for by the end of the chapter.
  • White and Gray Morality: This is where "Born Indicted" falls compared to the Black-and-Gray Morality of many previous chapters. Blake and Sun remain outright heroic, while Sienna and Ilia are clearly in a gray area; after eliminating Adam and his views in an attempt to end the White Fang's corruption, Sienna engages Blake as to why these issues exist, and notes that "white" morality isn't always an option; sometimes, Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work and violence is necessary to get things done. While Sienna is proven right as to the efficiency of her plan, whether it was worth it or necessary is left up in the air.
  • The Worf Effect: Certain characters are more easily defeated to give others a chance to shine. Note that this remains inconsistent; characters don't completely fluctuate in power levels, but they do often take hasty defeats for plot purposes. Adam Taurus tends to receive this the worst, being a highly recurring villain.
    • In Chapter One alone, Adam goes down from one punch from Yang, though he'd been fighting for a bit by that point.
    • In Chapter Four, Watts mentions killing Tyrian offscreen in the narration. In "Small And Helpless," Tyrian pays him back by murdering him in turn.
    • In Chapter Seven, Roman Torchwick is killed effortlessly despite being a formidable combatant in canon.
    • In "What A Sweet Release," Neo shows Adam what exactly a real assassin can do by destroying him in fights multiple times, even toying with him the second time around.
    • In "Born Indicted," Hazel defeats Adam offscreen and Sienna presents his head at a White Fang rally to assert her dominance.

     The Black Knight 
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Cardin Winchester may have been a Huntsman-in-Training, but the only person he ever won a fight against in canon was Jaune very early on in his training. Here, his forces begin the story having managed to take over half of Vale, becoming such a threat that even Salem herself takes notice and Atlas is close to intervening.
    • Dove Bronzewing and Russel Thrush have both unlocked their Semblances and manage to pose a threat to Mercury and Emerald, two experienced killers, in contrast to their canon counterparts who aren't especially impressive in combat.
  • Adaptation Expansion: There's some expansion on how Aura works; namely, it's noted that Aura has "weak points" by Mercury, which can be struck to deal greater damage to Aura. This justifies characters striking significant blows and also explains the faster pace of fights in the Destinies stories.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: You'd never see Hazel in the show winning a Gambit Pileup against the likes of Cinder and Watts, but this story features that plot point, reflecting on his nature as The Chessmaster who's been undermining Salem for quite a while.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In canon and in the other stories, Tyrian's loyalty to Salem begins and ends with her capability for destruction, with "Small and Helpless" in particular having him view her as a worthless hag. Here, he appears to be genuinely loyal to her out of belief that she's a genuine Goddess and is in awe of her power.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: The typical sympathy given to Cinder in the stories is only increased, with her backstory being a major figure in her actions and driving her. While still unrepentantly evil to the core, Cinder is presented as disillusioned with society and desperate for power to cope with her past. Hazel takes some time to examine the glass unicorn she put on the desk and mourn her.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Cardin Winchester was just a bully in canon, hardly a mass murderer like the High Priest.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite being utterly monstrous and unempathetic, Cinder is given a surprisingly somber sendoff, what with their Dying Alone and, worse yet, realizing what they had done to leave themself alone. Even Hazel, who set up their death, feels rather bad for them.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Was Jaune actually tortured and brainwashed into his current role as he believes, or did he join willingly and repressed the memory? Even when Jaune shows his memories in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice," his claim is inconsistent to Cinder's claim that he joined willingly. The situation ceases to be ambiguous when the final chapter explains that Salem actually did brainwash Jaune, not by torture, but by twisting his very soul. Then, however, the question shifts: Salem says that all it does is remove the suppression of his basic instincts. Does this imply that Jaune actually is incapable of controlling himself, or is he just ignoring that side of himself?
  • The Atoner: By the present day, Hazel has realized that Salem is actually the worse side between her and Ozpin, and he is now making up for the crimes he committed in her name by undermining her forces from the inside. He acknowledges that she's going to catch him eventually, but every second he can delay her buys the heroes valuable time.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • Jaune can figure out others' fighting styles and work to counteract them, most notably shown when he holds his own against Mercury by binding his legs.
    • Mercury's assassination expertise lets him deduce others' fighting styles, weak points, and Semblances. Most notably, this is used when he figures out how to kill Dove Bronzewing— Mercury counts exactly the amount of time he can use an ability for, and then deduces how said ability works. Using the gap where Bronzewing can't bring his Semblance's shield down to slip explosives under his feet and reduce him to Ludicrous Gibs.
    • Emerald figures out how the Semblance of her opponent, Russel Thrush, works. She then uses this knowledge to win the fight with them very quickly.
  • Bait the Dog: When Jaune is nude during their meeting, Salem averts her eyes respectfully. Tyrian is absolutely outraged by this, believing that it's a sign of her showing her "Knight" greater respect than the majority of her forces. In the second chapter, Salem's narration reveals that this was to deceive Jaune. She knows he wants respect and craves validation, but in reality, he is nothing more than another of her tools.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Cinder insists, even in her own mind when she has no reason to lie, that she came up with the idea for the attack on Beacon, even though she had Adam killed specifically to cover up the fact that he came up with it.
  • Big Bad: The main villain is the High Priest of the Witch Hunters, a particularly vile and brutal faction that spread violence throughout Vale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: When taken together with its original chapter, this is the way the story ends. On the one hand, Vale has suffered incredible damages thanks to Cinder and the High Priest and it's unlikely that they'll recover any time soon; additionally, thanks to the Silver Eye, Jaune is on his way to fight Pyrrha in a battle that will cost him his life. On the other, Salem's forces are crippled for at least the next few years thanks to Hazel's machinations, Mercury and Emerald are free to live their own lives, and Jaune's battle with Pyrrha convinces her to come back to the fold and defeat Salem for good, so the situation is far from hopeless.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: In particular, its final chapter goes toe-to-toe with "Small and Helpless" for the most gruesome piece of Destinies content published. Most notably the moments in which Jaune kills a soldier with a feather that produces gruesome, explosive boils on his flesh, Dove Bronzewing being reduced to Ludicrous Gibs by Mercury's explosive rounds, and Jaune melting Cardin.
  • Character Development:
    • By the end, Jaune goes from a Psychopathic Manchild to a genuinely helpful person capable of controlling his mood, even unlocking his Aura again in a moment of serious danger. Unfortunately, the curse the Silver Eye inflicts him with causes him Sanity Slippage again and he decides to pull The Last Dance against Pyrrha.
    • Mercury and Emerald decide to find more to life than Cinder's will, and use the job as an opportunity to escape Salem's faction, in addition to reckoning with their actions.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Jaune organizes both a massive and small-scale demolition of the Witch Hunters, and succeeds with flying colors.
    • Cinder arranges for Tyrian and Watts to kill one another, playing to their traits and arranging everything so she can sweep in and kill the victor. She also succeeds.
    • The real chessmaster of the story turns out to be Hazel Rainart of all people, who initiated a brutal Batman Gambit on Cinder, knowing her arrogance would undo her, and set her up to die. Why? All so he could get better people on Salem's council, having been working to slow her down all along.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Cinder's habits of betraying everyone she works with are brought up here as evidence that her arrogance will undo her. In particular, Watts and Tyrian call her out for arranging the deaths of both Adam and Roman as proof why they'll never trust her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Cinder's plans have a tendency to backfire because she doesn't consider their long-term consequences:
    • Cinder's attack on Beacon was a failure in both the long and short term. Not only did it involve stockpiling a bunch of Dust on the basis that it might be useful later (which would've backfired had Roman not kept her on track), and while she took Beacon with the Grimm, they couldn't actually hold it for long enough to find the Relic, meaning that they didn't even accomplish their main goal.
    • In forming the Witch Hunters, Cinder expected an easy-to-control organization who would complete their mission of destroying the White Fang and then be disbanded. Instead, she created a group that spins out of control to the point that Salem's whole group has to step in, especially because she tells them about Salem's existence and allows the news to be spread far and wide.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Roman Torchwick is implied to have been killed via Cinder tricking him into a car accident through Emerald's illusions rather than being eaten by a Grimm.
  • Dirty Coward: Despite putting on the air of Villainous Valor and loving to fight, the High Priest is this at his core. He's constantly guarded, lives in a palace, and only ever seems to attack those weaker than himself. While he's more than willing to get his hands dirty, he rarely if ever personally attacks a solid enemy force, instead using an army of conscripts as meat shields. When Jaune has him cornered, disarmed and beaten down, he starts sobbing and begs for his life. This all makes sense, since he's Cardin Winchester, a schoolyard bully who just ended up with way too much power, and as with any schoolyard bully, he prefers to pick on people who can't defend themselves.
  • Doomed by Canon: By the time of "I'm Not Your Sacrifice", the Witch Hunters have faded enough into obscurity that Pyrrha doesn't even mention them, so it's clear from the beginning that they're going to lose.
  • Fame Through Infamy: The ultimate goal of the High Priest is to achieve fame through his violence. He doesn't care whether he's remembered as a villain, just that he's remembered. Given that he's not even mentioned in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice", it's safe to say that he failed.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Jaune's Aura is gone, but since he uses it in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice," he's going to get it back at some point. In the final chapter, he gets it when fighting Cardin.
  • Foreshadowing: The High Priest's true identity as Cardin Winchester is heavily foreshadowed throughout the story:
    • The story summary states that "Beacon's heroes shall become its scourge." At first, one assumes it's probably talking about Jaune, but it could apply just as easily to the High Priest.
    • His fellow priests are blue, green, and bronze, just like Sky, Russel, and Dove's color schemes in the show. The blue one also wields a halberd just like Sky does.
    • His primary weapon is a mace and Emerald is confident she saw someone with his fighting style during the Battle of Beacon.
    • When he asks for a status report, he refers to the idea of a technician as a "geek", just like a schoolyard bully would.
    • He primarily attacks Faunus before expanding onto other targeted groups; Cardin's defining canon feature is his tendency to attack Faunus students.
    • Finally, he has a special hatred for Jaune Arc and believes that anyone could beat him in a fight, just like he always did during sparring classes.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Cardin Winchester was a pointless bully with nothing to his name but being a standard asshole. Then he became the High Priest, a mass murderer who runs an entire organization dedicated to persecuting the vulnerable.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Cinder founded the Witch Hunters so that the White Fang would have a faction to eliminate them. Unfortunately for her, the Witch Hunters turned out to have far more staying power than the White Fang, and have formed into a dangerous faction in their own right. This is only made worse by Cinder's characteristically arrogant decision to tell their leader of the fact that Salem exists.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: What Jaune has become is a half-human, half-Grimm creature not unlike Salem. This gives him a great amount of power, but removes his Aura.
  • Hypocrite: Cardin loves massacring defenseless innocents and says that his former teammates wouldn't have been killed if they were strong enough, but the moment his life is in genuine danger, he begs Jaune not to kill him.
  • I'm Melting!: What Jaune's Semblance, while inverted, is able to achieve. He reverses the target's Aura until it melts them alive.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: When the High Priest ends up cornered, he begs for his life against Jaune. In response, Jaune rejects any pity he might've held for him and invokes the I'm Melting! effect of his Semblance on the surrendered opponent. While an awful fate, the High Priest was a mass murderer and Jaune doesn't spare a second thought over it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Cardin Winchester is killed by the student he used to bully while disgracefully begging for his life in spite of the numerous people he killed despite their pleas. Just to top it off, when he's mentioned in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice", it's only because he used to bully Jaune, not because of his actions in this story.
  • The Last Dance: The end of the story is Jaune resolving to hunt Pyrrha after realizing he's dying.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Bizarrely enough, the premise of the story is that Salem's faction of all people serve as this. While they may be vicious, ambitious, and exceptionally violent, they're organized and have some redeemable members. The Witch Hunters, meanwhile, have carved a bloody swath throughout Vale and just keep going in the interest of slaughtering all their enemies and claiming a power base.
  • Narcissist: Cinder claims full credit for the Fall of Beacon even though she did the bare minimum of the heavy lifting, with Watts pointing out that her plans would've amounted to nothing were it not for Watts providing the virus, Roman recruiting the Fang and stealing the Dust, and Adam actually spearheading the attack.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Jaune's Grimm eliminating the entire power base of the Witch Hunters is quite an impressive feat, but is done in areas where they've already overextended.
    • Emerald and Mercury taking on a massive mech in the final chapter is a simple cutaway. When we cut back, they've finished the task.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The biggest indication that Jaune isn't all gone is his affectionate care for his attack Ursa, Hank.
    • Despite having manipulated him constantly, Salem genuinely tells Jaune he's free once she realizes he's dying, up to and including giving him Pyrrha's location.
  • Plausible Deniability: After killing Cardin, Jaune has a confrontation with Mercury and Emerald, wherein he tells them that it's such a shame that they died in battle and Jaune couldn't even find their bodies. They quickly realize that he's giving them a way to escape Salem's side for good, and they take it, running away into the night to live their own lives.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Jaune is most definitely a Psychopathic Manchild. Prone to swings in mood, extremely delusional, and more than a little insane, Jaune's Half-Human Hybrid nature has clearly had a negative effect as to his sanity, with him descending into a mumbling, regretful wreck one second but being a bold, confident leader the next. Combine this with his intellectual mind, and he's a threat even Emerald admits she wouldn't want to take on.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Sure, Cinder took Beacon, but Salem's forces couldn't hold it, and they never found the Relic. Tellingly, Salem isn't very impressed with Cinder's performance.
  • The Reveal: Jaune was in fact brainwashed through a twisting of his soul at Salem's hand after much mystery built around it.
  • Saved by Canon: Jaune is obviously going to survive to confront Pyrrha in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice", the only question is how, especially when his Aura is gone in the first chapters yet is present in the original story. Additionally, since that story ended with the revelation that Salem is still alive, she's not going anywhere either.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Watts, Tyrian, and Hazel all have their various quirks and eccentricities, but all of them realize that Cinder can't be trusted.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Despite starting the story without his Aura and emotionally unstable, Jaune regains his Aura in the final fight with Cardin. Not only that, he gains an "inverted" Semblance, which allows him to invoke I'm Melting! on anyone he touches. This bumps him up to the status he reaches in "I'm Not Your Sacrifice."
  • Villainous Valor:
    • For all Emerald hates the High Priest, she is forced to acknowledge that he's a brave warrior who shows absolutely no hesitation in trying to personally put down resistance. This is ultimately subverted, as Cardin is still fundamentally a Dirty Coward who has been putting so much emphasis on his own bravery to conceal that side of himself.
    • Emerald and Mercury may be devoted assassins, but the two of them are more than content to fight against much greater forces.
    • When pushed into a corner and seemingly done for, Jaune rallies the strength to regain his Aura and unleashes a vicious Curb-Stomp Battle on the High Priest.
    • Surprisingly, from a Creature of Grimm of all things. Hank, Jaune's attack Ursa, bravely jumps in the way of the Eye of the Summer Rose and saves Jaune's life. For a mindless monster, its utter loyalty is undeniable.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • The story is centered around the corrupted Jaune Arc, who is a murderer on the side of Salem and will eventually go on to stalk Pyrrha and try to murder her.
    • Cinder Fall is the lead character of the other half of the story, trying to turn her allies against one another in hope to gain more power over the council.
  • Wham Line:
    • Chapter 3 ends on a much-foreshadowed revelation about the true nature of the High Priest, delivered by Jaune.
    Isn't that right, Cardin Winchester?
    • Chapter 4 has a couple major ones. It's hard to tell what exactly the Big Bad has brought out until he outright names it: The Eye of the Summer Rose. Yes, that Summer Rose.
    • Chapter 4 has one in its final conversation. When told about the artifact he was struck with, Jaune asks a simple question that Salem has no choice but to grimly confirm the answer to.
    It killed me, didn't it?
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Cinder's plan is that, whether Watts or Tyrian wins their fateful battle, she can kill the victor on the basis that they were trying to kill each other and make it look like self-defense. What she didn't expect was for Hazel to expose her to Salem.
    • Jaune defines his ultimate decision to hunt down Pyrrha as this, noting that since he's already dying, he wins if he wins the fight and gets revenge, and he wins if he loses the fight and Pyrrha puts an end to his Sanity Slippage.
     Winter Vacation 
  • Affably Evil: This is what Adam has more-or-less ascended to as of this story. After "This World Will Have No Peace" characterized him as clever and ruthless, he spends most of this one surprisingly polite and mostly interested in challenging himself to improve his own skills and stave off his increasing anger at the world and desire to hurt people, which is starting to resurface.
  • Beyond the Impossible: In their final fight, Winter and Adam reignite their Auras and go for one last clash, crashing through floors and brutalizing their surroundings while blazing with supercharged Auras despite the fact none of it should be possible.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While still definitely Denser and Wackier and Lighter and Softer than the story it follows, being a dramedy, the arrival of Winter and the revelation of their true motives to the audience, as well as their dispute with Adam, leads the story down a darker and more dramatic path. Generally, when the two are apart the story is comical, but when they share a scene it becomes much more intense.
  • Denser and Wackier: Absolutely. This story is a flat-out comedy in opposition to the cold-blooded (Though occasionally humorous) revenge drama which was the original chapter.
  • Determinator: Both parties in the final duel are this. Adam and Winter both manage to reignite their Auras and go another round, even more powerful than before, on sheer willpower.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The story is named Winter Vacation not only because of the vacation itself taking place during winter, but because of the arrival of Winter Schnee at the first chapter's end.
  • The Dragon: Sienna has ascended to this, having become Adam's top advisor in the Time Skip and now standing at his side. While the two rarely get up to evil, it's made explicit they're as shady as ever.
  • Interface Spoiler: Even though the appearance of Winter at the end of the first chapter is treated as something of a minor twist, their name is not only in the tags, they are the second one.
  • Hero Antagonist: Winter takes this role, being Adam's foil and searching for evidence against him. They kick off the main plot, and while they're not above cheap verbal shots or dirty work, they're also clearly established as having more moral scruples than Adam.
  • Lighter and Softer: Whereas the original chapter was a vicious revenge thriller focused on the manipulation of Jacques Schnee, this story focuses on a low-stakes vacation.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Adam always had trouble controlling his temper, but he's definitely worked on it by the time of the story. That's why it's sudden when he not only prepares his Semblance while ranting about the Schnees' complacency in Jacques' crimes, but when he goes completely into Tranquil Fury the second Winter throws a cheap shot about Ghira's death in an argument, telling them to get out and showing none of the business-like, Faux Affably Evil demeanor and charisma Adam's staked his entire position on.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Sienna, after being rather humiliated in the original chapter and soundly proven wrong by Adam on multiple counts despite getting some solid points in against him, is revealed to have been appointed Adam's head advisor and the leader of his Board of Directors.
  • Time Skip: The story starts some time after the first semester shown in RWBY, during an unseen vacation.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Sienna goes from a deceived victim to Adam's right hand, who's not incapable of scheming herself.
    • Adam himself is explicitly shown as capable of fighting toe-to-toe with Winter. While he was explicitly stated to be a capable fighter beforehand, Winter notes that he's gotten stronger, likely due to consistent training with an equal combatant like Sienna.