For a while, it took me a bit to come up with a solid theory on Ironwood that didn’t sound like a crack theory, but I think I have come up with a solid one. Well, about as solid as my theory of Atlas crashing down on the people in the crater. I believe that not only will Salem win this volume, but Ironwood will die seeing it fall before him.
Bit of an odd and dark claim, but here is a thought. Think about that has been prominate in RWBY. Since Volume 1 there have been references the Chess. From the team forming, the Black Queen virus, and even now in the Volume 8 intro. In the Volume 8 intro, there is a nice transition of Salem to Ironwood starting with Salem landing on a chessboard, her pieces turning into Grimm, and them charging forward as Ironwood’s pieces fade. If this was any other show, I’d probably ignore it. However, with RWBY the devil is always in the details. One piece of Ironwood’s has a cross on the top. In chess only one piece has a cross, the King. In chess, if your King is taken, you lose.
Before I looked carefully, I assumed that Ironwood WAS the King piece. However, thanks to me looking carefully, he isn’t. The King gets destroyed before it is Ironwood standing by himself. Here’s my thought: Ironwood will witness the Fall of Atlas, and then die facing a foe when he has no allies around him. In Chess, you have to make sacrifices to protect your King. Some Pawns, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, and maybe even the Queen, must be used for both offense and defense. With all his pieces gone, including the the King, Ironwood has nothing to defend and has already lost.