A comprehensive RWBY theory on…er…everything:
So, bear with me on this one, for it’s going to be a long one. Get the popcorn ready.
This is a collection of small disjointed theories that I have been thinking about since the very beginning of RWBY. They were all mismatched and initially unconnected but now I compiled them all together and presented them in a coherent fashion.
Right, no further preamble, let’s get straight into it.
Oh, and uh, yes, there will be spoilers. And NO, I'm not saying ANY of this is actually true, I'm just saying this is what I have come up with as an explanation myself.
Mankind is not the first intelligent race to have lived on Remnant:
Well, at least not modern man.
See, in the very beginning of RWBY, the “Mysterious Narrator” as Salem was known back then, opens with these lines:
“Legends. Stories scattered through time. Mankind has grown quite fond of recounting the exploits of heroes and villains, forgetting so easily that we are remnants, byproducts, of a forgotten past”
The way Salem speaks sounds as if she is describing the fact that mankind is the unintentional creation or result of another race, or the remains of a vastly superior version of itself. The modern race of mankind on Remnant grew from what was left of a race that was far superior in nature to humanity now.
Salem speaks as if humanity was not meant to be.
That we were a mistake.
The other interesting word choice is saying “we”.
Now this means one of two things:
One is that Salem is, or once was, human, OR two; that Ozpin, the person to whom she is speaking, is also a remnant of that same “forgotten past”. More on that later.
The rise of modern man on Remnant:
So, this forgotten past is an enigma we can’t tackle right now. But I’ll get to it. First we need to look at what we know of modern man, the current version of humanity that rules Remnant.
We know this about the timeline of Mankind.
Unknown date: Man is “born from dust”
Unknown date, presumably within a relatively short span of human existence: Mankind encounters the Creatures of Grimm for the first time. Mankind is pushed near extinction by these forces.
Unknown date: Mankind finds and weaponizes dust, using it repel the Grimm and turn the tide.
Unknown date, presumably within a relatively short span of humans finding dust: Civilization is founded
Possibly: During this time, around the establishment of the first form of civilization, when history could finally start being recorded, but before the formation of something resembling Kingdoms, Silver Eyed Warriors (SEW) are around and about, and fight Grimm. Qrow tells us that SEW existed “before Kingdoms” in Vol.3 Episode 12. Hence, SEW are older than current human civilization.
Unknown date(s): The earliest form of Kingdoms are founded. Qrow also tells us that in WOR: Vale, the four kingdoms of today are the ones that have stood the test of time and endured the longest, meaning, in likelihood, they’re the oldest.
At least 2000 years ago: The Wizard grants his magical power to the Maidens. This occurs after the founding of Kingdoms because in the WOR short, all characters were depicted wearing a diverse range of clothes and had tools and items that were far to specialised to have come from a civilization that had not yet developed a coherent level of organisation.
80 years ago: The Great War
Two decades ago: The Faunas Revolution
A decade ago: The beginning of the militant White Fang
Half a year ago: The Fall of Beacon
While far from being a comprehensive timeline, the arrangements of events shows us something. Silver eyed warriors have been around for longer than Kingdoms have been, which is interesting. It also shows us that they PREDATE Maiden powers, which is going to be VERY important a little later.
Salem tells us pretty much everything we know about Grimm. We know that they’ve been around for as long as humanity can remember (In other words, as far back as our history goes, which does NOT equal how far back our species goes, remember the point about the “forgotten past”?), they are drawn by negative emotion (Anger, fear, panic, etc), they don’t need to eat, and feed exclusively on humans. They only fight animals over territory. They grow more deadly with age. More seem to be encountered every day. They disintegrate when killed. Etc etc.
However, in Volume 4, Episode 1, we see that Grimm come from strange pools of reddish-blackness in Salem’s land. So, clearly they are not natural creatures.
This leads me to the next point.
Salem seems very knowledgeable. Mysteriously so. Suspiciously so.
Salem knows more about Remnant than anyone else. Except, perhaps Ozpin. During her speeches at the start of Vol.1 and end of Vol.3, she speaks as if everything she says is common knowledge. Is it to the people of Remnant?
Is it to us?
So, that means that the two of them both know this. How?
Because Salem and Ozpin are both part of the race that previously ruled Remnant.
I know, I know. I can hear your indignant cries from behind my keyboard. Hear me out here though.
It’s a fairly popular theory that Ozpin is the Wizard, or at least related to the Wizard in some manner.
This theory takes it a step further.
Magic wielders are part of a different species. Salem and Ozpin are both ancient magic wielding beings, and that race of ancient magical wielding beings ruled Remnant before humanity existed. How?
Well, they had magic. Powerful magic.
We’ve seen what Maidens can do briefly. That power is one-quarter the level of what the Wizard could’ve done when he had his power with him.
The Wizard was four times stronger than the Maidens.
If Salem is also a magic wielder, and is in some kind of war over Ozpin, (which I’m coming round to soon), she must be equal to or greater than his power to believe she can win. And she does believe that. She is very confident in that fact.
Before anything we know of in the show, in the “Forgotten past” Salem mentions in Vol. 1 episode 1, magic users ruled Remnant. There were no Grimm back then. Just a bunch of people using magic to do everything.
Then a war was started. Why? Well, there doesn’t need to be that much of a reason. Wars start for stupid reasons. They have done all throughout human history. Just because you wield immense power it doesn’t make necessarily make you wise.
The important thing is a war broke out.
One of which was the magic unleashed was so destructive it permanently wrecked the moon. Maybe someone decided that destroying the moon would solve all their problems?
Another was that a lot of people died. So much so that there wasn’t much hope of anything coming out of this war intact even if one side did prevail. So they decided to find ways to increase their population once the war was over.
However, for reasons unknown, one of which most simply would be “It takes a long time to learn magic properly”, these newly created beings were non-magical. Or maybe, as we’ve seen, putting magic into a new person from a living host is hard. The result was that these magical beings created a race of non-magical beings to inherit the world in their stead, or until a point where they could return…
The final thing that happened was that things got to the point that one side was so desperate they resorted to creating magical weapons to fight for them.
These weapons were the Grimm.
Grimm Part 2: A grim mistake:
Drawn to hate, anger, fear, panic, perfect killing machines which hunted humans and humans alone, did not hunger, did not tire. Their populations could not be defeated by biological agents and, presumably, the person/persons who made them made them immune to magic to some degree, they were the perfect weapons of war. They would find the enemy no matter where they were and kill them without remorse. They could outnumber the foe. They came in so many shapes and sizes they could adapt to any situation.
The problem was this.
They were too good.
And they couldn’t be turned off.
Even once the war had pretty much ended and both sides had wiped each other out, the Grimm were still coming at the enemy. Except what was the enemy now?
Humans. Non-magical, unguided, unknowing humans. The Grimm were still going to try to destroy humanity because that’s what they were made for. They had no other purpose. They had only one reason to live, and that was to stop humans living.
Grimm VS Human or Magic VS Magic?
Now let’s get around to the points I have been talking about earlier.
Salem was on the side that created the Grimm, presumably because they were losing. Those confident in victory don’t tend to resort to things like that.
Ozpin was on the side that made humanity. His side was the one that was winning. His side was also probably the one that caused the most harm.
Hence why Salem hates Ozpin, and want’s to destroy humanity bit by bit and make them suffer all whole time while forcing Ozpin to watch. Why?
Because that’s what happened to her. An eye for an eye, as some would say.
Ozpin’s side was the one that pretty much led to all of her own people dying. Everything they built was destroyed. All their achievements destroyed. Everything…gone. Salem never forgave that and wants revenge. She’s going to take everything from Ozpin as he did to her.
Salem’s realm might’ve been where their civilization ruled from. Maybe it was a once prosperous land. After the war, it ended up looking like what it does now.
Ozpin feels guilty about his past. His side did things no one should ever do. Maybe Ozpin even feels that what he did was wrong.
Maybe Ozpin was involved with breaking the moon.
Ozpin, however, sees humanity as a means of redemption. He wants humanity to succeed where his people failed and to not suffer the same mistakes as his own kind. He might even have been involved in their creation.
Salem despises humanity as they are the creation of the enemy. More so, they are lesser beings. Non-magical beings. Perhaps what Salem wants is to destroy humanity and somehow bring back her own people. Perhaps she thinks Ozpin is a traitor to his own race because he chooses humanity over his own kind.
Perhaps that’s the entire reason for the Grimm hunting humanity? Because Ozpin places them above his own people.
Whatever it may be, the war that ended the “Forgotten Past” and brought Remnant to where it is now did not end. It carries on in secret with Ozpin and Salem, the last two of their kind fighting over which one was right.
However, there is something that has yet to be discussed.
Dust and Aura:
What the hell is Dust then?
Dust is not magic. Monty wanted that to be a clear distinction. Miles and Kerry make that distinction as well.
So, what is Dust?
Well, this is how I see it.
Dust is not a naturally occurring element. Not naturally occurring in that it isn’t an element on the periodic table.
No, dust is something else.
Before I go ahead and say what it is, let me just jog your memory about something Pyrrha said in Volume 1 about Aura.
She said that all living things have it, even animals.
All living things.
So, humans, plants, animals all have Aura?
Which means that means that Aura is something that comes from the world itself? Life on Remnant has evolved to have Aura in its genetics.
Now what happens when a living thing dies? It decomposes. What happens to the Aura-producing cells in its bodies? Well, it goes straight into the ground.
Where, after a long period of time, it becomes Dust.
Dust is fossilized Aura. Dust is the fossil fuel version of Aura. Dust is the Aura of dead things returned to the earth.
Basically, dust is the “souls” of living things that have died.
That is why Dust is found in relatively simple forms. Its untapped, uncontrolled Aura. It’s pure energy. It’s the same thing that fuels Semblances. Destructive power.
That’s why Dust can be combined into newer forms. Different forms of energy can be made be made by combining the different varieties of powers left behind. Its why Dust can be triggered by the Aura of Humans and Faunas. It’s us simply activating a fossilized version of the same power in our own veins.
That’s why Vacuo had such a huge amount of Dust beneath its Oasis. It was described to be a jungle. Jungles produce lots of coal and fossil fuels from all the decaying plant and animal matter in them. Over time this would gather and become huge reserves of Dust. The immense ecosystem produced an immense amount of Dust.
Same reason why Atlas had a lot of dust. Places that have ice covering tend to have a lot of fossil fuels locked away from everything that once lived there before the environment changed or the continent moved or whatnot. Much like our own world. Except we don’t have the Aura gene on our own world.
It’s also why there is such large amounts of Dust in Salem’s land. It was once rich with life, but, well, as I said earlier, not anymore!
To summarise; when a living thing dies, its Aura becomes fossilized in the form of Dust.
Which brings us to one final point:
The Natural Order of things:
So if life evolved the Aura gene, than that is the first thing on Remnant that granted spectacular powers. Dust only came after sufficiently large amounts of things had died and become fossilized, which takes millions of years. And magic fitted in who knows where.
But magic was not something that was meant to be messed with.
Magic upset the natural balance of things. Magic ruined everything.
Hence why a natural anti-magic counter evolved. A magical foil.
A power that stopped ANY form of magic in its tracks.
Be it the power imbued in a Maiden or the magic behind Grimm, Silver Eye powers stops it. It does not discriminate because magic in ANY form is wrong. Magic disrupts the world and sets things into chaos. Magic nearly destroyed the world and thus there needs to be a way to control it.
Silver eyes is that way. People born with Silver eyes are destined to be warriors, but not Grimm hunting warriors. Grimm are just a part of that.
Silver eyed warriors were meant to hunt mages, and are a part of the natural order in the same way Aura and Dust is but magic isn’t.
This is why Ruby can see silver motes of light in the air when she wakes up from her dream in Vol 4. Episode 2.
What she is seeing is the souls, voices, consciousness, whatever you want to call it, of the living things all around her. She is becoming increasingly sensitive to these things now that her power has been activated and can begin to see the world for what it truly is…
This is basically everything I have ever theorized about for RWBY, barring character related issues. It was a long read, I know, and a lot of it is crack-pot potato sort of stuff, but I feel that some of that might end up being correct. Or at least partially correct. The Aura/Dust thing particularly.
Thank you for reading this long-winded explanation on pretty much everything ever in RWBY, and I look forward to your thoughts and opinions. Please don’t try to reply to everything, just small points that stood out.