It's important not to lose sight of what drives us: Love, justice, reverence... but the moment you put your desires before my own... they will be lost to you. This isn't a threat, this is simply the truth. The path to your desires is only found... through me.

Salem's Inner Circle[1] is a faction that consists of Salem and her subordinates. Their objective is creating a new world order on Remnant through the use of the four Relics and the destruction of the Huntsman Academies. They are also hunting down the Maidens, as their powers are the keys to unlocking the Vaults holding the Relics. The group is closely connected to the Creatures of Grimm, as their headquarters is located in the Land of Darkness.

Apart from Salem herself, known members include Cinder Fall, Tyrian Callows, and Mercury Black. Known associates of the group included Cinder's own subordinates, as well as the White Fang under Adam Taurus. Haven Academy's Headmaster, Leonardo Lionheart, served as an informant in Mistral before Salem killed him for his failure and cowardice. Their opponents include Ozpin's Group as well as the Academies and the Kingdoms.

Hazel Rainart was a member of the group, before defecting once learning of Salem's true goal in "Witch". He later sacrificed himself to allow her prisoners to escape Monstra.

Arthur Watts was also a member of the group, but after being betrayed by Cinder in “The Final Word”, perished when Atlas crashed into Mantle.

Salem has explained that she will help each member of her group achieve their own respective goals, but only after the Relics are collected. She has warned that putting their own ambitions before hers would ensure failure.

Although her followers believe they will be making a new world order, in reality Salem's true goal is to summon The Gods to destroy Remnant in a bid to remove her immortality, which was revealed in "War".



The origins of the group are not clear, but it is shown to have existed for millennia. In the past, Salem had sent a female warrior to kill an incarnation of Ozma known as "The Infinite Man", and later his group The Circle. The warrior, using Gravity and Lightning Dust blades, fought the Infinite Man and eventually killed him when Ozma chose to die in order to prevent collateral damage.

Following this, the warrior and her raiders slaughtered The Circle, leaving only Ozma's most loyal follower alive as a message for him in his next incarnation.[2]

Decades before the start of the series, Salem had taken Tock as a subordinate to hunt down Silver-Eyed Warriors. Salem served as a mentor to Tock, advising her on how to properly use her Semblance despite her follower not taking heed, ultimately leading to her demise at the hands of Maria Calavera.[3]


In recent history, Salem recruited Cinder Fall to be the vessel for the Maiden powers, so she could collect the Relics hidden beneath the academies founded by Ozma. Needing fighters who could kill without qualms, Salem rescued the serial killer Tyrian Callows and later recruited Hazel Rainart following his attempts to kill her, offering him a chance to avenge his dead sister, Gretchen. Finally, she brought on Arthur Watts who wanted revenge on Ironwood for disgracing him.


The activities of Cinder and her group, including the recruitment of Adam Taurus and the White Fang, the theft of the Fall Maiden's powers and the destruction of Beacon Academy, were carried out under Salem's direction. Cinder's status as the Fall Maiden is described by Salem as being "key" to their further moves. However, due to Cinder's new unspecified "weakness", Salem instead opts to keep Cinder close to her.

The actions of the other members are not known in detail. Tyrian has been on the hunt for the Spring Maiden for some time, though at a meeting following the Fall of Beacon, he is reassigned to capture and retrieve Ruby Rose after she defeated Cinder. At the same meeting, Watts is assigned to carry out Cinder's role in meeting with Leonardo Lionheart in Mistral. Hazel is to attend a meeting arranged by Adam with the leader of the White Fang, Sienna Khan, in order to bring her to heel.


Tyrian fails to defeat Ruby due to the intervention of Qrow Branwen and loses his tail in the process, but Watts' meeting with Professor Lionheart goes well and leads to Lionheart's complete obedience with Salem's plans. Additionally, Hazel's meeting with Sienna leads to Adam killing her and taking over the White Fang, much to Hazel's discontent.

Hazel and Tyrian kill a majority of professional Huntsmen in Mistral whose identities were supplied by Lionheart after he allied himself with Salem. Qrow found out after trying to gather allies for their battle against Salem.

Following Beacon, Haven Academy is their next target. Lionheart, Cinder's Faction and Hazel, with aid from Raven Branwen, Vernal and Adam's White Fang troops, plan to enter Haven Academy's Vault to retrieve the Relic of Knowledge and destroy the CCT when they are finished to make their escape.

However, the attack proves to be a failure: Cinder is defeated by Raven in the Vault, while Emerald Sustrai, Mercury Black, and Hazel are forced to retreat, Lionheart flees the battle and is killed shortly after by Salem, and the White Fang are stopped by the combined forces of the Menagerie Faunus and the Mistral Police, with only Adam escaping capture. Ozpin's forces retrieve the Relic and plan to take it to Atlas.


While the original plan was for the group to tackle Vacuo, word of Ozpin's reincarnation prompts Salem to send Tyrian and Watts to Atlas instead. Cinder, surviving her defeat allies herself with Neopolitan with the promise of revenge against Ruby and travels to Atlas herself. Tyrian kills off people opposing James Ironwood while Watts allied himself with Jacques Schnee to gain access to Mantle. During the attack on Mantle, Watts is arrested, Tyrian escapes, and Neo acquires the Relic of Knowledge which she gives to Cinder.

Salem herself personally leads an army of Grimm towards Atlas, using Monstra as her base of operations. Cinder and Neo arrive at Monstra where Cinder gives the Relic of Knowledge to Salem, taking credit for it. After everyone else arrives at the throne room, Cinder declared to the other members that she would go after the new Winter Maiden Penny Polendina. However, Salem put her in her place as she did not order that plan.

Later, Salem had The Hound search for Oscar Pine in order to learn how to use the Relic. The Grimm succeeds in its goal, and brings him to her. After Oscar refuses to give any information, Salem has Hazel beat the boy. In the hallways of Monstra, Cinder again asks for permission to go after Winter Maiden, only for Salem to refuse. This causes Cinder to go behind Salem's back to the Amity Communications Tower along with Neo and Emerald.

Cinder, Neo and Emerald fight against Maria and Penny. Unfortunately, they are defeated by Penny and are forced to return to Monstra. Emerald tries tending to Cinder only to be interrupted by Mercury, who announces he will no longer be taking orders from her and explains Salem wants them at the bridge. Meanwhile, Oscar and Ozpin form a plan to turn Salem's pawns against her, starting with Hazel.

On the bridge, Salem tells her underlings that Watts has gained some control over Penny, and briefly tortures Cinder for her disobedience. She then decides to have Cinder find Watts, who can then lead her to Penny while The Hound conducts its own search. Ozpin tries to warn everyone that Salem will destroy the world, but is silenced by Hazel.

After Salem's assault on Atlas begins, Mercury and Tyrian were ordered by her to head to Vacuo, presumably to begin preparation for her eventual arrival to the Kingdom. Cinder locates Watts and frees him. Meanwhile, The Hound is killed during its search for Penny. Upon seeing Jinn, Hazel decides to let Oscar go free and had Emerald assist him. He later sacrifices himself to help Yang's Group and Emerald Escape while Oscar destroys Salem temporary.

After the destruction of Monstra, Cinder attempts to convince Watts to go after Penny so she can get the Winter Maiden's power. However, Watts refused and explain what his virus actually does. Cinder then attempts to kill him but relents after Watts calls her out on why she fails. The duo later gets a message from Neo, who reveled she stole the Relic of Knowledge as blackmail to get Cinder back on track on killing Ruby.

After meeting and apologizing to Neo, Cinder summons Jinn in order to figure out what Ruby's Group is up to. Later, the trio proceed. to massacre everyone in the Atlas Command Center. Watts stays behind to cause problems for Qrow, Robyn Hill, and the remaining Ace Operatives by hacking the ship with the bomb. Meanwhile, Salem fully reforms and flies to the Vault. In the central location, Cinder obtains the Relic of Creation after defeating Team RWBY, Jaune Arc, and mortally wounding Penny, though fails to gain the Maiden powers. Escaping, she uses the Staff to trap Watts in the burning Command Center. Upon exiting the portal, she presents both Relics to Salem while lying and covering her tracks. The duo proceed to leave Atlas as it comes crashing down on Mantle.


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Other notable associates of the group included Cinder Fall's underlings, Emerald Sustrai and Neopolitan. Although, Emerald left the group after learning of Salem's true goal, while Neo stole the Relic of Knowledge to get Cinder to honor their original deal of killing Ruby. Adam Taurus was an ally as well, but after his defeat at Haven and expulsion from the White Fang, the group no longer regarded him. He was later killed by Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long. Mercury Black was originally Cinder's underling, but was later promoted by Salem and no longer takes orders from Cinder.

They also had an informant in Mistral, who is revealed to be Professor Lionheart, the Headmaster of Haven Academy, but Salem kills him during the Battle of Haven as he was no longer of use. Though briefly, Raven Branwen also assisted the group to insure her own survival.


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Image Gallery


  • Although not an official name, composer Alex Abraham named the theme that plays when Salem walks into the meeting room in "The Next Step", "A Dark Cabal", most likely referring to Salem's Inner Circle. The group has also been referred to as Salem's Court and Team WTCH (Witch).[5]
  • The allusion theme of Salem's followers takes well-known "hero" characters and changes their stories to make them turn into villains.[6]
    • Watts alludes to John Watson, from the Sherlock Holmes stories, if he had connected with James Moriarty instead of Sherlock Holmes.[7]
    • Cinder alludes to Cinderella, seemingly if she never had met her Fairy Godmother, or a good-influenced Fairy Godmother, or possibly the Prince in the classical fairy tale.
    • Hazel alludes to Hansel from Hansel & Gretel[8] if he had lost Gretel in the story.
    • Tyrian is based on the Scorpion from the fable The Scorpion and the Frog[9] if the Frog had died but the Scorpion survived.