As Yang Xiao Long walks through the Emerald Forest in search of a partner, she encounters two Ursai. After a short encounter, she destroys one with Ember Celica for cutting off a strand of her hair during the fight. She prepares to fight the other, but Blake Belladonna kills it from behind using Gambol Shroud. They look each other in the eye, cementing their status as partners, as Yang muses she was more than capable of killing the second Ursa.
Meanwhile, Weiss Schnee internally walks herself through the steps of her fencing training, whilst surrounded by Beowolves. She rotates Myrtenaster's revolver and poses to strike. However, just as she begins to attack, Ruby Rose attacks the Beowolf Weiss is aiming for, forcing Weiss to redirect her strike and send fire toward a nearby tree with her attack. Ruby, distracted by the fire, is knocked backward into Weiss by the Beowolf. They contemplate an opportunity to attack, but Weiss forces a retreat, having accidentally started a forest fire.
The two get into an argument, with Ruby protesting that she is capable of fighting the Beowolves alone, and Weiss berating her childlike and impulsive nature, stating that if Ruby had warned her about what she was going to do, they would not be running away from a burning forest. As Weiss stomps off, Ruby takes her anger out on a tree with Crescent Rose and follows her. Behind them, a giant feather slowly drifts to the ground beside the fallen tree.
Elsewhere, Jaune Arc and Pyrrha Nikos are making their way through the forest, and Jaune gets a scratch on his face after Pyrrha accidentally hits him with a branch. Pyrrha asks Jaune why he did not activate his Aura, to which he reveals that he is not familiar with the concept. Pyrrha explains that Aura is the manifestation of one's soul, created from the understanding of both light and darkness in every being, and that it can be used by any living being. The Grimm are the one exception, as they lack souls, and are instead considered beings of darkness and "manifestations of anonymity". With practice, Aura can be utilized as a shield and may even be an efficient fighting tool, with their equipment acting as conduits for it. This concept is displayed when Lie Ren is shown using a combination of his Aura, StormFlower, and martial arts skills to slay a King Taijitu that attacked him.
Pyrrha utilizes her Aura to unlock Jaune's, which immediately heals his cut. She seems somewhat drained by the experience but recovers a few moments later and notes that Jaune has a vast amount of Aura within himself. Meanwhile, after Ren kills the beast, Nora Valkyrie calls out to him using her "sloth call" before swinging upside-down from a nearby tree. Ren comments that he still is not convinced that is what a sloth sounds like. Nora merely replies with "Boop" while touching his nose, earning a smile from Ren. Having made eye contact, the two become partners.
The opening ends to an overhead view of the Emerald Forest as the camera pans down into the misty underbrush, where Yang Xiao Long is walking and looking around.
Yang: (calling out) Helloooooooo? (not seeing a shadow quickly pass by) Is anyone out there? Helloooo? (stops and raises her arms) I'm getting bored here! (hears a rustling in the bushes behind her and turns) Is someone there? (the rustling continues as Yang comes over and peaks inside) Ruby, is that you?
A low, inhuman growl is heard, and Yang's head rises up as she stares at the creature.
Yang quickly rolls to the side as an Ursa charges out of the green. She gets up and activates her Ember Celica, staring at the monster before another Ursa runs out behind her. She leaps over it, and its companion runs at her again, only to get knocked back by a fiery punch. The other Ursa and Yang charge at each other, and Yang manages to get under it and deliver several punches and a kick to send the creature back.
Yang: You guys wouldn't happen to have seen a girl in a red hood, would you? (the Ursai merely growl at her) You could just say "no".
One of the Ursai stands on its legs and swipes at her twice, Yang barely dodging the attacks.
Yang: (laughing) Geeeez, you two couldn't hit the broad side of a ba...
Before she can complete her insult, a single strand of her golden hair falls in front of her face and lands on the forest floor.
Yang: You... (closes her violet eyes, then opens them to reveal red, making the Ursai look at each other confusedly before Yang screams) You monster!!!
An inferno surrounds Yang for a moment, and she rockets forward, unleashing a devastating combo of flaming hits and blows on the offending Ursa, making it fly through several burning trees. The other monster runs over, but stops short at Yang's gaze while a tree falls to the ground behind her.
Yang: What! You want some, too?!
The Ursa rears up and prepares to strike... right when a whirling noise is heard and the monster makes a befuddled noise, falling down a second later to reveal Blake Belladonna with her Gambol Shroud in the beast's back.
Yang pants in exhaustion while Blake recalls the weapon back to her hand, sheathing it on her back and smiling to the side (or the audience, if she broke the fourth wall). Yang, now purple-eyed again, speaks to her new partner over the smoking remains of the monster.
Yang: I could've taken him.
The scene suddenly changes to Weiss Schnee's predicament from the end of "The First Step, Pt.2", deflecting the swipe from a Beowolf with her Myrtenaster and getting pushed back into the middle of the beastly circle. She holds out her sword as she goes through her dueling motions and practices.
Weiss: (in her head) Remember your training, Weiss. Head up, shoulders back, right foot forward — not that forward! — slow your breathing, wait for the right time to strike, and... (brings her rapier up, the revolver spinning) Now!
Weiss dashes forward with her loaded weapon at the Beowolf in front of her, just when Ruby suddenly appears between the two in a blur of rose petals and a swipe of her Crescent Rose scythe, landing a hit on the monster.
Weiss widens her eyes and screams as she quickly has to stop, swinging the sword in a random direction and creating a line of fire that sets a nearby tree ablaze, followed quickly by the rest of the forest around the clearing.
Ruby, distracted by Weiss' mess-up, is barely defended when the same Beowolf scratches at her weapon, knocking the younger girl into the heiress.
Ruby: Hey, watch it!
Weiss: Excuse me! You attacked out of turn! I could have killed you!
Ruby: You'll have to try a lot harder than that...
The duo wield their arms as the pack of Beowolves whine and growl around them. Ruby reloads her scythe just as a flaming tree falls near them.
Weiss: (grabbing Ruby's arm) We have to go!
She leads Ruby out of the blaze as it engulfs the grass and sets the Grimm to running back the way they came or suffering in the fire.
Ruby and Weiss stop a safe ways from the smoke and flames. Weiss leans over and pants as Ruby looks behind her.
Ruby: What was that?! That should've been easy!
Weiss: Well perhaps if you had exercised even the slightest amount of caution with the placement of your strikes, I wouldn't have set the forest on fire!
Ruby: (scoffs) What's that supposed to mean?
Weiss: I'm just surprised someone who talks so much would communicate so little during an encounter!
Ruby: Well, I'm sorry you need my help to win a fight. I'm just fine on my own!
Weiss: Well, congratulations on being the strongest child to sneak your way into Beacon. Bravo!
Weiss begins to walk off on her partner yet again. Ruby, with an agitated shriek, unfolds Crescent Rose, slices a tree down to the stump, refolds it back, and follows her partner as the tree crashes behind her. Neither notice the large dark feather floating onto the fallen trunk behind them.
Meanwhile across the Forest, Pyrrha Nikos, armed with Miló and Akoúo̱, and Jaune Arc are making their way through the bushes. Jaune hears a noise far away and turns his head.
Jaune: Did you hear that?
Pyrrha: Gunfire. It seems some of our comrades have encountered the enemy.
They keep moving forward, Jaune still staring in the sound's direction as Pyrrha raises a branch to pass by and accidentally releases it right at Jaune's face, flooring him instantly.
Pyrrha: (looking back behind her) Jaune! I'm sorry!
Jaune: (laughs, lowering his hand from his cheek to reveal a gash from the wooden recoil) It's okay. Just a scratch! (gets back up when Pyrrha approaches him)
Pyrrha: Why didn't you activate your Aura?
Pyrrha: Your Aura.
Pyrrha: Jaune, do you... know what Aura is?
Jaune: (waves the question off, avoiding eye contact) Psch! Of course I do! Do you know what Aura is?
Pyrrha smiles at him and gets ready to explain as the scene changes to Lie Ren's trek through the forest's tall grass.
Pyrrha (off-screen): Aura is the manifestation of our soul. It bears our burdens and shields our hearts. Have you ever felt you were being watched without knowing that someone was there?
Jaune (off-screen): Uh... yeah.
Ren stops and narrows his eyes, looking around him while a huge black Grimm serpent rises up from the grass behind him and quickly surrounds him with its large, hissing body. Ren adopts a fighting stance as the snake coils together in front of him and attacks with its long fangs.
Pyrrha: (back on screen, walking around Jaune) With practice, our Aura can be our shield. Everyone has it, even animals.
Jaune: What about monsters?
Pyrrha: No. (switching back to Ren as he leaps out of the way, the snake's mouth hitting the ground and instantly coming up again to hit a jumping Ren back with its snout) The monsters we fight lack a soul. They are creatures of Grimm, the manifestation of anonymity. (Ren lands in a crouch when the serpent encircles him again, and he unleashes his StormFlower before jumping up and firing at the creature) They are the darkness, and we are the light.
Jaune (off-screen): (as Ren kicks the snake's snout and slashes at its head) Right, that's why we fight them!
Pyrrha (off-screen): It's not about why; it's about knowing. (the snake flows around Ren and tries to bite him again, but he flips over it and drives his weapons into its head, pausing a moment without sensing the serpent's white head behind him) Understanding dark and light helps us manifest our Aura. Everyone has some of both.
Ren turns and looks up at the white head as it launches itself at him, dodging it and landing just in time to see the head slither towards him. As it gets closer, he runs at it and leaps onto the black head, sliding over its body and blasting the other head.
Pyrrha (off-screen): By baring your soul outward as a force, you can deflect harm. All of our tools and equipment are conduits for Aura. You protect yourself and your soul when fighting. (Ren is unprepared for the white half to hit him with its head, knocking him off as he drops his weapons, and leaving him to merely raise his arms and distantly cry "No!" to the mouth of the black head)
Jaune: (opens his eyes with the revelation) It's like a force field!
Pyrrha: Yes, if you want to look at it that way.
Ren is now holding the front fangs of the colossal snake in his hands, glowing a faint, pulsating pink as he grips the teeth and yanks them from the monster's mouth, causing it to flail away. It attempts to bite him again, but Ren spins to the side and stabs a fang into its eye, rotating his arm to deliver a final blow that drives the makeshift weapon into its skull, which ripples, expands, and blows apart in a dark mess as its headless body falls over its fellow creature. Wasting no time, Ren runs right at the white head.
Pyrrha: (walking up to Jaune and touching the side of his head) Now, close your eyes and concentrate.
Jaune: (complying) Uhh... Okay.
Pyrrha smiles and closes her own eyes, opening them as her skin glows and her irises shrink before shutting them again. The two stand there, now with Pyrrha glowing a faint red and Jaune a bright white.
Pyrrha: (mentally speaking) For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all, infinite in distance and unbound by death. (placing a hand on his chest) I release your soul, and by my shoulder protect thee. (Pyrrha stops glowing red and hunches over in tiredness)
Jaune: (still glowing, concerned) Pyrrha?
Pyrrha: (getting back up) It's all right. I used my Aura to unlock yours, but the energy that protects you now is your own. (grins as she watches the scratch close up and vanish) You have a lot of it.
Jaune: (smiling and looking at his hands as the glow stops) Wow...
At the same time, Ren stands atop of the body of his enemy, sliding the weapons into his sleeves and brushing them off before a strange, animal-like noise is heard above him twice. He looks up and meets the upside-down eyes of Nora Valkyrie.
Ren: (chuckles) I still don't think that's what a sloth sounds like.
In response, Nora gives her friend a "Boop!" on the nose, causing him to smile and the scene cuts to black as the credits roll.
- Nora's "sloth call" is a bird call.
- The King Taijitu's color scheme reflects the concept of light and darkness, which coincidentally is the topic Jaune and Pyrrha were discussing during the conversation about Aura.
- This also reflects Yin and Yang, the symbol of Taijitu.
- The events of "The Emerald Forest" are re-told in the first half of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of RWBY: The Official Manga.
- Battle Pages
- Main article: The Emerald Forest/Image Gallery