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Thread: Lost Chronicles I: Lilithmon's Epic

  1. #11
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 7 - Duel in the Diner

    Zelda
    Linnea Village

    Thomas and I followed Statuedramon into the dimly lit, old-fashioned restaurant. The swinging doors creaked softly as the two of us walked through them and into the diner.

    Nothing about this place has changed in the last six years, I see. The entire building, on the outside, stood out from the other houses and buildings in Linnea; it was the only building to be constructed of wood, rather than stone, and it was noticeably shorter than the others, in spite of being two stories tall. It had a run-down look to it, making it appear older even than the stone buildings. The inside of the diner, however, was anything but run-down. Lively and rowdy, there were circular tables packed full of Humans and Digimon on both floors — so much so, that a majority of them were standing up, leaving little room for Thomas and I to walk around and find Statuedramon. We eventually found him at a miraculously empty table, looking around eagerly as a tall Digimon walked up to him at the same time Thomas and I did.

    “Good evening, weary travelers, and welcome to our fine restaurant!” The Digimon, who I instantly recognized as the same Meramon who had once been kind to me all those years ago, walked up to Statuedramon and vigorously shook his hand. Thomas sat down next to Statuedramon, and I next to Thomas, far away from Meramon.

    Hopefully, he won’t recognize me…

    “Is there anything I can do for you today, my fine friends?” Meramon spoke to us in a hearty voice and was grinning widely the entire time he spoke, and I kept my head hung low in hopes that he wouldn’t notice that I was there. Thomas, apparently catching on, removed his coat and placed it over my shoulders, and I pulled the collar up to help shield my face.

    “I’ll take one of everything you’ve got; I don’t care what it is, I just want it!” Statuedramon said. Meramon laughed as he wrote down Statuedramon’s order on a notepad.

    Oh, please don’t let him notice me…Leaning over, I whispered into Thomas’s ear, “Could you please tell Meramon that I’ll have the same?” Thomas nodded. I took a quick glance at Meramon. He was glaring at me.

    “You…I remember you,” Meramon said, his eyes narrowing slightly in anger. “You may hide your face…But you can’t mask your aura.”

    Well, so much for them forgetting about me…

    “What does he mean by that?” Statch asked.

    “Get out!” Meramon said in a harsh tone, completely different from his hearty and friendly voice from a moment ago. The entire diner had gone silent. Every customer was staring at our table. “…You can’t afford to be seen here, or by anyone else in this village. Have you honestly forgotten what they…what we did to you?! You can’t stay here!” To Thomas’s and Statuedramon’s apparent surprise, the other customers had begun to taunt us, supporting Meramon’s words.

    I guess I shouldn’t have expected any of them to forget about me…

    “If you won’t leave, I will be left with no choice but to force you to leave!” Meramon said.

    “Is that a threat?!” Statuedramon yelled; however, the Champion Digimon ignored him. I stared down at my hands, folded neatly in my lap as Meramon engulfed his hands in roaring flames. Statuedramon jumped onto the table and brandished his sword, swinging it at Meramon, who reached out and grabbed it without turning to face Statch. As it looked like the two would fight, the other customers ran out the front doors of the diner, leaving the four of us alone at this table.

    “What’s the matter? Don’t like what I’m doing?”

    “Damn right I don’t! NOBODY threatens my friends and lives!” Statuedramon pulled his blade out of Meramon’s hand.

    “This girl is your friend?!” Meramon sneered. It was evident by the look on his face that he was more confused than disgusted. “But…you’re a Digimon! You should be able to tell; she’s different from the other Humans! Whatever the hell she is, nobody here wants her to stay! Trash like her…doesn’t belong in a nice place like this.”

    “What the hell do you mean by that?!” Thomas shouted. “All we’ve heard is that all of the Digimon here hate her, and they haven’t given us any good reason!” He took a step toward Meramon. “Start talking…or you will be stabbed. Multiple times.”

    “Well…I guess nobody here really knows why, either,” Meramon said. He seemed to have calmed down; he had lowered his voice and the flames on his fists were growing less wild. “All we know is that we can…We can just sense that she’s different, and we don’t know what it means. Her presence is…disquieting, and we don’t like it!” Meramon looked around the restaurant, and was shocked by its sudden emptiness, not having noticed the other customers fleeing when Statuedramon attacked him.

    “Your reasoning isn’t good enough, Meramon,” Statuedramon said angrily.

    “Statuedramon, please, don’t make a big deal out of this; I’m used to being treated this way,” I whispered, still looking down at my hands.

    “I may not have known this girl very long — only a few hours, to be perfectly honest — but she is the kindest person I have ever met, and I’ve lived a hell of a long time, Meramon! So, I know a hell of a lot of people!” Statuedramon said, ignoring me as he aimed his sword at Meramon’s throat.

    “Statuedramon…don’t attack him. Remember what we’re in this village for,” Thomas said. I looked over at him as he spoke, and though his voice was calm, he looked as ready to attack Meramon as Statuedramon did.

    They…care about me this much already? Even though I should be worth nothing to them…?

    “We cannot draw attention to ourselves; this is a job that requires us to be as unnoticeable as possible. Got it?” Thomas asked. Statuedramon lowered his sword with a disappointed look on his face as he jumped off the table. “Let’s just leave before something happens…Something that we might regret…okay?”

    “Yeah…we probably don’t want any of their food, anyway; I’m sure it tastes much worse than the moldy crap Digitamamon gave me,” Statuedramon said as he shoved his way past Meramon.

    “That does it; nobody insults the food at my restaurant! Fireball!” Meramon formed a ball of flames in his hand, but as he prepared to throw it at Statuedramon, a large missile sailed past the open doors of the saloon and struck Meramon in the left leg. The Flame Digimon fell to the ground, clutching his injured leg in pain as three Digimon walked into the diner.

    “Meramon…attacking innocent bystanders again,” the tallest Digimon said. “Whatever are we going to do with him, Giromon? Tankmon?”

    “Volcamon…I do not attack innocent people,” Meramon snarled, picking himself up off the floor. “You of all people ought to know that by now!”

    “You can’t trick us; you were just about to attack these three, weren’t you?!” Giromon asked, waving his chainsaw at Meramon.

    “Well…yeah, but…They deserve it! That girl; she’s—”

    “Don’t waste your time with him, Giromon,” Tankmon said. “We should just destroy him now and get it over with; a violent thug like him has no place in a village like this!”

    I’m not the criminal; you three are!” Meramon shouted.

    “And why, pray tell, would anybody believe you, after seeing you attack these three?” Volcamon asked. “The three of us work for an honest, hard-working Digimon that cares about the safety of all the Humans and Digimon in this village. You…you just tried to attack three innocent people. What have you got to say for yourself?!”

    “…Why did you come here, Volcamon?” Meramon asked.

    “We’ve had enough, Meramon; we came here to blow this place down to put an end to your cruelty,” Tankmon said.

    “However, we’ve decided to give you one more chance,” Giromon said. “If you allow us to take these three off your hands and into our…protective custody, we’ll leave you and this little shack of yours alone for the moment.”

    “However, if we ever hear about you doing something like this ever again, you’re dead!” Volcamon shouted.

    “What in Arcadia’s name would you want with them?!” Meramon glared at the three mechanical Digimon spitefully. “…Fine; take them with you, but don’t you let me see them ever again!”

    “You’re hardly in the position to be making threats, Meramon,” Tankmon laughed.

    “You three,” Volcamon looked over at the three of us. “Please, come with us.”

    “Gladly!” Statuedramon quickly followed the three Digimon out of the saloon. Thomas and I stood up to follow the Digimon out of the diner.

    “Keep your guard up,” Thomas whispered. I looked at him and nodded, though his words weren’t necessary. I was already too familiar with how even the nicest Humans and Digimon could end up hating you…or worse.

    “…Thank you, Thomas,” I whispered back. “I’m used to being treated the way Meramon was treating me…But still, you…” I stopped walking for a moment, and Thomas turned back to look at me. “Nobody’s ever…done something like that for me before…Treating me like a friend…” Thomas smiled at me. The same smile that made me feel shy and self-conscious. Averting my gaze from his, I removed his coat from my shoulders and returned it to him.

    “Meramon was yelling at you for no reason. I couldn’t let that keep happening…not after what you did for me,” he said. “Although…I guess I didn’t really do anything to actually stop him, did I?”

    I shook my head. “No…The fact that you stood up for me like that…It…means a lot to me. Thank you…Thomas.”

    “…You have a story, don’t you?” Thomas asked. “Things have happened to you…Things that shouldn’t have.”

    “…You could tell?”

    “Everyone I know tells me I have a gift for reading people. But you? I can’t even get past the first page,” he continued. “It just seems that…even when you’re smiling, you always seem so…crestfallen. When we’re done here in Linnea Village, would you please tell me your story?”

    “…No…No, I can’t. If I tell you…You’ll hate me, too…I can’t have that.”

    “Very well, then. If you ever feel the need to talk, I’ll be ready to listen.”

    “I know.”

    “Well, now that that’s all out of the way, we should hurry and find Statuedramon before he gets himself lost…again.”

    “This is a small village; there’s only one road. C’mon!” I said. I led Thomas through the village along a dirt road until we finally found Statuedramon sitting at a table just outside a different restaurant. With him were the three Digimon from earlier, and all four looked to be having a pleasant conversation until Volcamon spotted us. The tallest of the four Digimon stood up and walked over to us.

    “Are you both unharmed? Meramon didn’t actually attack you, did he?” Volcamon asked.

    “No; you three came just in time!” Statuedramon said. “Thanks for saving us like that, Tankmon!”

    “Aw, don’t mention it,” Tankmon said.

    “Tell me; what do you know about that Meramon?” Thomas asked.

    “Meramon…he’s one of the worst Digimon out there,” Volcamon said gravely. “He’s really strong, too; the three of us fighting together would have a rough time defeating him. He gets so drunk with his power, it’s like…”

    “I fear he may one day burn down the village,” Giromon said. “I’m sure that Meramon would love to do nothing else, but there’s no way he’d do it right now.”

    “Oh, really? Why not?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Because of our master, Lord Etemon,” Tankmon said. “He’s the strongest Digimon around; the only reason Meramon hasn’t burned this place to the ground is because he fears Etemon’s strength!”

    “If Meramon’s as bad as you say he is, why is he still here?” Thomas asked. “Shouldn’t Etemon have done something about him by now?”

    “Well…it’s shameful for us to admit this,” Volcamon said. “But…Etemon’s power isn’t exactly enough to completely defeat Meramon. However, we all do our best to make sure nobody is hurt by that evil Digimon!”

    “There were a lot of people at his restaurant that seemed to support him when he was…ridiculing our friend,” Thomas said.

    “Yes, unfortunately, a Digimon like that is bound to have a few followers here and there,” Giromon said. “He’s also managed to fool a lot of the people in this village into thinking we’re the bad guys, and he’s the protector of this village!”

    “The nerve of that punk!” Tankmon spat.

    I can’t believe Meramon’s really such a bad Digimon…He was so kind to me five years ago…But the way he acted today…Could he really be the Digimon that Thomas and Statuedramon are after? Every time I thought about Meramon, my thoughts about him would go back and forth, between liking him and fearing him.

    “Never fear, though; a few people in this village know the truth about that monster,” Volcamon said. “Anyway, that’s plenty enough about us; tell us, who are you three? We’ve never seen you around before.”

    “We’re here on business,” Thomas said. “We’ve…been given orders to eliminate a certain person.”

    “…Really? And who might that be?” Volcamon asked. The once-friendly tone of his voice disappeared momentarily as he looked at Thomas.

    “We aren’t sure yet, but by the sound of things, we believe our target is Meramon.”

    “Oh, wonderful!” Volcamon exclaimed. “With your help, we might actually stand a chance against that bastard!”

    “Would you like to come with us to meet our master?” Giromon asked. “I’m sure he’d be quite pleased to become acquainted with you.” Giromon’s eyes were fixated on me as he spoke.

    “Actually, yes; that sounds like a good idea,” Thomas said.

    “Very good; please, follow us,” Volcamon stood up, and Tankmon, Giromon, and he began leading us through the village until a small castle came into view.

    “Is that where he lives?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Indeed it is; you’ll all be granted plenty of food, and rooms to sleep in for the night by our gracious master,” Volcamon said.

    “Awesome; I can’t wait! So, what kind of food does he have?” Statuedramon asked as Volcamon and the others led the three of us through the open doors of the castle.
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  2. #12
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 8 - Assault in the Night

    Thomas Kasuto
    Linnea Village

    By the time we had reached Etemon’s castle, based on the position of the moon, it was midnight, give or take a few minutes to an hour.

    It’s hard for me to tell this far south. It’s not like it is in the West or the East. And, of course, in the North, neither sun nor moon can be seen through the consistent blizzard. I’m sure people living here have no trouble keeping track of what time it is…

    “Is this the castle?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Yes, this is it,” Volcamon said. “This is where our master, Etemon, lives.” Two large doors were swung and held open by the tall Ultimate, allowing Giromon and Tankmon to lead Statuedramon, Zelda, and me through a large hallway. The doors slammed shut behind us, and I could hear Volcamon’s footsteps as he followed us. It was a cloudless night and the moon was full; had the doors remained open, the hallway would have remained sufficiently illuminated. There were, however, lit candelabra securely fastened to the walls, providing enough light for the six of us to see clearly enough.

    “This is a straightforward path, and at the end of it, we’ll find the room where our master waits,” Giromon said. The hallway by itself was large and spacious; the ceiling seemed to be about 30 feet high, and the walls were about 15 feet apart. The floor was made of neatly-paved stone tiles and adorned with a long, red carpet for us to walk on. The end of the hall soon came into sight, with two more large doors coming into sight through the darkness. As we approached them, Volcamon walked past me to join his Digimon allies.

    “Our master awaits your arrival beyond these doors,” Volcamon said as he and Tankmon, with extreme difficulty, shoved the giant doors open, allowing us to walk in. The room looked similar to the hallway but was round and not quite as tall. To our left was a large, circular table surrounded by many empty chairs. Stacked high all across the table were various kinds of meats, cheeses, and pastries, more than I had ever seen in my life at one time, which was definitely saying something, as I’ve been traveling with Statuedramon for over five years. At the opposite end of the room was an average-sized throne, where a Digimon sat observing us.

    “Master Etemon!” Giromon shouted, looking across the room and waving at the Digimon. “We’ve brought guests with us!”

    “Yes…I can see that, Giromon,” Etemon said. His voice sounded dull and uninterested. “Why did you bring them here? Just put them—”

    “They’re bandit hunters, sir,” Volcamon interrupted — rather hastily, I noted. “They’ve promised to lend us their aid in getting rid of that Meramon, sir!”

    “Huh? Oh! Oh, right, Meramon! Yeah…I was…I was just thinking about him,” Etemon said nervously. He stepped down off his throne and walked up to the three of us. “Pleasure to meet you, all of you! The name’s Etemon, and I’m the, uh, protector of this small village!” Etemon took and energetically shook my hand, as well as Statuedramon’s and Zelda’s. His voice sounded much more enthusiastic than it did before. “So…bandit hunters…right?”

    “…Yes, sir,” I said. “Although, to be perfectly clear, the two of us,” I pointed at Statuedramon and myself, “are assassins. Our friend is…not a killer. She is not an assassin. We were sent here to eliminate a bandit leader.”

    “…Meramon…right?” Etemon asked.

    “Well, I don’t know yet. Could be. Or maybe…it’s you.” Etemon’s jaw clenched. “Heh. Or maybe it’s me. Unless you are the killer, one can never know for sure until you’re staring death straight in the eye. And by then…it’s too late.” Etemon was staring at me, completely dumbfounded with his mouth slightly agape. Not quite the reaction I was looking for…Guess I’ll just have to keep trying. “Oh, but why am I boring you like this? The daily life of a professional killer is sure to be of no interest to a peaceful village guardian like you.”

    “No…don’t worry about it,” Etemon said.

    Hmm…Either he really is this village’s guardian…or he’s who I’m looking for…I might have to speak with Meramon before I make up my mind.

    “It’s much too late for you to go out now and do your job,” Etemon continued. “Why don’t you all call it a night and have some dinner, and then you can go straight to bed? You can worry about Meramon in the morning.”

    “But…it would be easier for us to do the job at night, when we won’t be easily spotted,” Statuedramon said.

    “It might not look it, but Linnea Village is a very active village. Even in the middle of the night, the streets are crowded,” Tankmon said.

    “But—”

    “We shall do what was asked of us, Statuedramon,” I said. “As with all of our clients.”

    “…Fine. At least I’ll get to eat…For once!” Statuedramon sulked over to the table and began eating without even bothering to sit down first. Zelda and I joined him, as did the other Digimon, except for Etemon. The Ultimate-level Digimon sat back down on his throne and continued to stare at us.

    “What was all of that about?” Zelda whispered once we sat down. “When you accused Etemon, and then yourself…What were you doing?”

    “…Only a test,” I replied. “I wanted to see if Etemon was telling the truth.”

    “…And?”

    “I can’t tell yet…I’ll have to—”

    “How is the food?” Etemon interrupted. “Is everything to your liking?” I looked carefully across the table. Volcamon, Tankmon, and Giromon were eating as well, so I guessed that the food was at least not poisoned. But Etemon seemed to notice that I wasn’t eating; he asked, “What’s the matter?”

    “Oh, he can’t eat very often…or too much,” Statuedramon said through a mouthful of food.

    “Why not?” Zelda looked up at me with a worried look on her face.

    “About one year ago, while on a job, I was stabbed in the gut by a Stingmon. It messed up all of my organs pretty bad.” Zelda gasped. “You needn’t worry; the wound’s completely closed up and healed—”

    “Which is what you say about the wound you’ve had on your leg for nine years,” Statch interrupted.

    “…But the damage is permanent, so says our groups’ witch,” I finished.

    “That’d be my guess; if even Luna can’t heal it, nobody can,” Statch said.

    “…Indeed.” I looked down, and found Zelda’s hand resting atop my own. She was gazing at me with a sorrowful expression on her face, though when she noticed me, she quickly pulled away and began eating. After watching her eat an amount of food that should have been impossible for a girl of her small stature to consume — roughly the same amount as Statuedramon, which was already more than the average Human could eat — the three of us were led away from the table by Volcamon and up a set of curved stairs to a large room that had several beds spread out in it. On the opposite side of the room’s door was a large circular balcony, with a pair of closed glass doors being the only thing that separated us from it.

    “This castle might look big, but in reality, this is the only other bedroom there is,” Volcamon said. “Is this going to be a problem for the lady? If you’d like, I can see if I can find another room…”

    “No, this isn’t going to be a problem,” Zelda said. “I don’t mind sharing a room with them.”

    “As you wish,” Volcamon said, bowing slightly before leaving the room. Zelda and Statuedramon instantly climbed into a bed; I, however, walked over to the glass doors and looked outside. After a few minutes of standing and waiting, Statuedramon’s loud snoring began to fill the air.
    I guess now’s a good a time as any. I turned and looked back at my friends. I gazed the longest at Zelda. She was on her back, with a small smile across her face, and her hands folded neatly and resting atop her belly. She looks so…peaceful…when she’s asleep…I’d better go. As quietly as I could, I opened the glass doors and stepped onto the balcony. I gave them both one final look before I climbed off the balcony and leapt down onto the ground below. The middle of the night, but it’s almost as bright as day with the full moon…I swear, I’ll never understand the desert province.


    Meramon
    Meramon’s Diner
    Ten Minutes Elapsed

    That damn Etemon, always sticking his nose into my business; who does he think he is, claiming to be Linnea’s guardian?! How could anyone fall for it?! Though, I guess those three are from out of town…I sat in a chair in my diner, looking out a window at the night sky. By now, he’s probably tricked those three into thinking I’M the bad guy… I sighed. It was no use; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking about that girl. Why do I feel so uneasy whenever I’m around her? The same unease, once five or six years ago, when she came here for the first time, and again last night…and not just me; ALL the Digimon around here seem to feel it as well. What’s wrong with us? She’s never done anything to make us think she’d be different, and yet…Maybe it’s our natural instincts?

    “Big brother, are you ok?” The sudden voice startled me, and I turned around to see my twin little brothers, both of them Candlemon, looking up at me. I smiled and stood up.

    “No, little brothers, I am fine; I was just thinking,” I said.

    “Big brother, there’s someone here that says he wants to see you,” the other Candlemon said. At least, I think it was the other one; I had trouble telling the two apart. “He might be a customer.”

    “A customer, this late at night? I hardly ever get anyone after midnight…” Nervously, I walked to the entrance of the diner. It better not be that damn Volcamon again! I opened the doors and was surprised to see saw one of the Humans I had nearly attacked about an hour ago. “…You...were with that...girl, weren’t you? Thomas, isn’t it? What do you want?”

    “I’ve come here to do my job,” Thomas said. “I’ve been ordered to eliminate you, Meramon.”

    “Eliminate me,” I said, looking at him sadly. “…I see…”

    “No! We won’t let anyone hurt our big brother!” Both Candlemon jumped in front of me and glared up at Thomas. “Big brother, what does eliminate mean?”
    “You didn’t let me finish,” Thomas said. “I’ve been ordered to eliminate Meramon…by Etemon. However, my only mission was to come here so I could find and assassinate a leader of a bandit group.”

    “And you…think that’s me, don’t you?” I asked.

    “If I did, we wouldn’t be talking like this. You’d already be dead,” Thomas said coldly. “Although…based on the way you behaved earlier… I’d say you’re a likely candidate. But if it isn’t you…it’s Etemon.”

    “Yeah! It’s Etemon! It’s definitely Etemon!” the Candlemon said in a jumbled unison.

    “Not so fast, you two,” I said. I picked them both up and walked back into the restaurant, placing them on a table. Thomas followed me inside. “I’m definitely no bandit; but then, what right do you have to believe me? We’ve never met, and…after the way I treated your friend…I almost attacked her…for no reason…”

    “I cannot forgive anyone who insults or hurts my friends like that, and if it were up to me, you wouldn’t be standing right now,” Thomas said. “You can consider yourself lucky; my only target of assassination is a bandit leader.”

    “And you think that may be Etemon?” I asked, walking back outside, with Thomas still following me.

    “…I’d say it’s more than likely,” he replied. “I’ll be honest; this is the first job I’ve been on where I didn’t know my target. Boss’s choice, apparently. Anyway, Etemon’s reactions to a few of the things I said to him weren’t exactly what I was expecting, so I decided to drop by and speak with you.” Thomas turned to face me. “When I told you I was here to kill you…the look on your face…it was almost as if you accepted your fate, that you were ready to die.”

    “I’ve done things in my past, things I’m not proud of at all,” I said, shaking my head slowly as I looked up at the starry sky. “It was only for a moment that I, to use your words, accepted my fate, and yet…when those little ones protested, I knew I couldn’t die and leave them all alone.”

    “Is that so…” was all I heard Thomas mutter before he began walking away.

    “Where are you going?” I called after him. He turned around and faced me, a small smile on his face.

    “Someone like you could never be a bandit; you care too much about your little brothers,” Thomas said. He turned around once again and continued walking, his long black coat billowing behind him, but suddenly, he stopped and looked around cautiously.

    “Get down!” Without warning, Thomas ran back over to me and shoved me to the ground just as what appeared to be a missile struck the ground where I was just standing.

    “Thomas…you…you saved my life!” I gasped. “Even though I…didn’t deserve it, least of all from you…you did it anyway…”

    “Big brother, what happened?” the Candlemon asked.

    “You two, get back inside!” I ordered. The two Candlemon hopped quickly back into the restaurant as Thomas and I got back up. “What happened? Who attacked us?!”

    “The attack came from far away,” Thomas said. “It was probably Tankmon…”

    “You sure? How can you tell?” I asked.

    “Didn’t you hear it coming? It came from the direction of that castle Volcamon took me and my friends to!” Thomas said, looking in the direction of Etemon’s castle. “Another one is coming!”

    Thomas and I dove to the ground, but the attack wasn’t aimed at either of us. I turned around and screamed in horror as the attack struck my restaurant, exploding on impact, with my two little brothers in it.

    “No! Candlemon! CANDLEMON!” I helplessly called their names as I ran over to the now burning building, digging through the debris to find them.

    “Meramon…” one of the Candlemon weakly hopped up to me.

    “Candlemon! Candlemon, you’re okay!” I reached down and picked up my younger brother, hugging him tightly. “Where’s your brother?! Is he okay?!”

    “Big brother…our home fell down on him…the other Candlemon got trapped and he couldn’t get out before he…he got…”

    “Candlemon…No…he’s…” I looked down at my younger brother, who was tightly holding onto my arm. “… Don’t worry…I’ll keep you safe, little brother,” I said, hugging my brother’s sobbing body tighter. “Thomas!” I yelled out to the boy, who hadn’t moved since the previous attack. “I expect that bastard to be dead before the sun sets tomorrow, do you hear me?!”
    “I understand,” Thomas said. “Don’t worry; I promise his death will be a slow and painful one.” Thomas turned around and started running back to Etemon’s castle.


    Etemon
    Etemon’s Castle


    “Direct hit!” Tankmon exclaimed from atop one of the castle’s numerous balconies. The Champion Digimon was so large, there wasn’t enough room for anyone else, other than the hovering Giromon, to stand on the balcony next to him.

    “Nice work,” I said. “Did you get him?”

    “Well…I didn’t get Meramon, but I did get his restaurant!”

    “Well, I’m sure you’ll be able to get him next time,” Giromon said.

    “That’s not all,” Tankmon said. “I saw something…interesting while I was open-firing at Meramon.”

    “Well? What did you see?” I asked. Tankmon turned around to face us, a mild look of amusement on his face.

    “I saw…that Human, Thomas, saving Meramon’s life.”

    “What?! No way!” Giromon protested.

    “It is possible,” Volcamon said. “After all, he may not think Meramon is the bandit he’s after.”

    “And that’s not all!” Tankmon chimed in. “They were talking about how they suspected you, Etemon! What’s more, he’s on his way back here at this moment!”

    “What?! How can you know that? They’re almost a mile away!” Giromon said.

    “I can read lips, Giromon!” Tankmon said defensively.

    “Never doubt the eyesight of a sniper like Tankmon,” Volcamon said in a calm voice.

    “So…he suspects me, does he?” I pondered. “Volcamon…the girl and that old lizard. Put them in the dungeon.”

    “Yes, sir,” Volcamon bowed as he left the room.

    That’s what I like about that boy; he never questions me! Not like those other two.

    “Forgive my ignorance, sir, but what good will locking those two up do?” Tankmon asked.

    “Well, when Thomas gets back to his room, and discovers his friends are missing…” I began laughing at the cleverness of my plot. “That is when Volcamon will get him from behind!”

    “Oh, you’re a genius, sir!” Giromon exclaimed.

    “I know!” I said.

    After about five minutes, Volcamon returned. “Mission accomplished, sir,” he said.

    “That was certainly fast,” Giromon said, a small hint of awe in his voice.

    “They didn’t even wake up; made it easier to lock them away and chain them,” Volcamon said. “I also made sure to remove any weapons they may have had.”

    “Excellent…Now, Giromon and Tankmon!” The two Digimon turned to face me. “Go to the dungeon and guard our newest prisoners. Understood?”

    “Yes, sir!” Tankmon and Giromon left the room, leaving me alone with Volcamon.

    “You know your job, right?” I asked.

    “I will succeed, sir.” Volcamon quietly left the room.

    “Idiots,” I said to myself, looking out from the balcony to the small village of Linnea. “Meramon’s not going to burn you to the ground…that’s my job.”
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  3. #13
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 9 - Prison Break

    Thomas
    Etemon’s Castle
    25 Minutes

    By the time I made it back to Etemon’s Castle, the moon had crept slowly down the sky and was almost at the horizon. Stars were beginning to gradually fade away as the sky’s murky blackness began to change to a soft and silky sapphire blue that was not unlike Zelda’s even lovelier eyes.

    Everyone should still be asleep, I thought as I walked into the fortress. I did get lost a few times, trying to make my way back here. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Statch the next time he gets me lost…To my relief, the candelabras in the hallway were still lit, so I could easily find my way through the castle and to the room Volcamon led me to. I slowly opened the door so it would not creak, and when I entered the vaguely illuminated room, I saw that neither Statch nor Zelda were in their beds. Looking at all the beds in the room, I sighed. There weren’t any signs of a struggle, nor was there any blood.

    …I guess I should have expected this. Behind me, I could hear the door open very quietly, along with the familiar metallic clang of a weapon being removed from a holster. “Don’t even think about it.”

    “Heh. Now you’ve gone and ruined my big entrance,” Volcamon said, walking up beside me. “How could you tell?”

    “I’m an assassin; I can tell when someone wants to kill someone else, and right now, there’s so much bloodlust in the air, I can practically taste it,” I said. I turned to face the Ultimate Digimon. “Plus, I heard you remove that hidden knife from your microphone, and the door creaked slightly when you opened it.” Volcamon looked down at the weapon in his hand.

    “You have pretty good hearing, don’t you?” Volcamon asked nervously.

    “I’ll have you know that assassins don’t fuck around,” I said. “Now, where are my friends?”

    “Your friends aren’t here, Thomas,” Volcamon said. I sighed. “Etemon’s heading for Linnea as we speak to deal with that troublesome Meramon, and there’s nothing you can do to stop him!”

    “I don’t have time to waste speaking with you, then,” I said. “You can either tell me where my friends are, or I can stab you in the face. What’ll it be?”

    “…You think you can stop me?” Volcamon asked.

    “Please; I’ve ended the lives of countless stronger Digimon than you. Killing you shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

    “Is that so? Then prove it to me, assassin; prove to me that you’re every bit as capable as you claim to be!”

    “That’s not something you should be wishing for—”

    “Tackle Time!” Volcamon ran past me, and crashed into the brick wall when I stepped out of the way. “Damn it…No fair…moving…”

    “You expected me to just stand there and let you attack me? As if.” Volcamon rushed past me, and once again, he collided headfirst with the wall. Why do I always get the stupid ones? When he turned around to face me again, he had a more dazed look on his face than usual, and several bricks from the wall had become dislodged and fell onto the floor. “You know, this would be a lot easier if you’d just tell me where my friends are.”

    “No…I’m not…about…to do that…” Volcamon was now holding his head, and his eyes were tightly shut.

    “If you tell me, I won’t kill you.”

    “Tackle Time…” I rolled my eyes and stepped aside once more. Volcamon continued running and crashed through the glass doors at the opposite end of the room. The Ultimate tripped over the balcony and fell out of the castle, falling to the ground below. I carefully stepped around the smashed glass and looked down.

    “…Out cold. Great; now I’ll have to try to find them on my own…” I left the room, closing and locking the door behind me in case Volcamon climbed back up the balcony. I looked around the hallway, and noticed a stairway leading down. Removing a lit candelabrum from its place on the wall, I climbed down the darkened stairway. I walked in silence for a few minutes until I heard a few voices conversing.

    “How much longer do we have to stand guard here?”

    “Until Etemon says we can stop, idiot!”

    I froze. Those were…Tankmon’s and Giromon’s voices…As slowly and as quietly as I could, I continued climbing down the paved stone stairs.

    “Man, those Digimon in Linnea weren’t kidding; this girl really does have some kind of a weird presence,” Tankmon said.

    “I know; makes me wanna pop the stupid cunt in the mouth for bein’ so damn irritatin,’” Giromon agreed. “Or, I could just cut off ‘er head.”

    “HEY, SHUT UP!”

    Statuedramon…

    “Say that again to my face!” Statuedramon shouted. “Try threatening her again! Go on; I dare you!”

    “Statuedramon, please, don’t worry about it,” Zelda’s meek voice echoed through the silence that followed Statch’s outburst. “It’s okay…I’ve been treated like this before…”

    “Well, in that case, maybe we should go ahead and kill her,” Giromon said.

    “I dunno…Etemon always says that dead hostages have no value, Giromon,” Tankmon said.

    “It would only be the girl,” Giromon snickered.

    “DAMNIT! YOU—!” Statuedramon began yelling unintelligible threats at the two Digimon.

    “Statuedramon, please, calm down,” Zelda said gently.

    “I can’t…I’m stuck…”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, Statch! I rolled my eyes. At this point, I was now running down the stairs rather noisily, and the end of the stairway soon came into view.
    “Sheesh, couldn’t Volcamon be here instead of us?” Tankmon asked. “That stupid lizard is giving me a headache, and the girl’s no better! And she’s actually quiet!”

    “Shut up, Tankmon! I think I hear someone coming!” Giromon whispered.

    Well, guess there won’t be any use in hiding… I walked into the room, coming face-to-face with the two mechanical Digimon. Separated from me by a row of metal bars that formed a very crudely made prison cell at the opposite end of the room were my two friends. Chains were shackled around their ankles, keeping them both chained to the two back corners of the room.

    “Where the hell have you been, Thomas?!” Statuedramon yelled. He was wedged partially between two of the bars, up to his shoulder, and was frantically moving his arm around in a vain attempt to free himself.

    “Sorry I took so long,” I said. “It would’ve been a shorter trip if Volcamon had just told me were this room was before he knocked himself unconscious. Bloody idiot…”

    “That’s not what I meant, damn it!”

    “Wait a minute…You said Volcamon was unconscious,” Giromon said.

    “So…you were actually able to defeat him? By yourself?!” Tankmon asked.

    “You sound surprised. I have already stated that I was capable of something like this, and much more,” I said.

    “Oh, who the hell cares? All this means is that the two of us will get to have all the fun of doing you in by ourselves!” Giromon said.

    “…Really? Well…if you think you can, why not try and see for yourself?”

    “So…Etemon really was the bandit,” Statuedramon said in a disappointed voice.

    “Of course he was, you idiot! I even told you myself!” Tankmon shouted.

    “And now, you’re all going to die with that information fresh on your mind!” Giromon, holding his chainsaw in one hand and a grenade in the other, flew over to me and vigorously swung his chainsaw at me. “There’s not a Human around who can stand a chance against my chainsaw!” I effortlessly dodged each of Giromon’s attacks until I struck him across the face with my sword with enough force to make him fly through the air and hit a wall. He fell to the ground, unconscious. I then turned my attention to Tankmon, who slowly wheeled over to me.

    “C’mon, Thomas…buddy! We don’t have to do this!” Tankmon said.

    “…I take it you were the one behind the attack on Meramon’s restaurant earlier,” I said.

    “Of course; who else could’ve hit a building from that far a distance? No one else, that’s who!” Tankmon said with pride, failing to notice that I had walked over to Giromon.

    “That’s too bad,” I said, kneeling down next to Giromon to pick up the grenade that had slipped from his limp hand. “I was hoping I would only have to kill the bandit leader that I was ordered to kill today; I hate getting my coat dirty.” Tankmon sneered at me as I ran up to him and shoved Giromon’s grenade down the gun barrel on his head, making him laugh.

    “Thanks for the ammunition, dumbass! Hyper Cannon!” Tankmon aimed his barrel at me, and when he prepared to fire Giromon’s grenade, his entire body became enveloped in the flames of a rather small explosion, creating a thick, black smoke that filled the entire room. When it cleared, neither Tankmon nor Giromon were anywhere to be seen.

    Strange, that explosion shouldn’t have been large enough for Giromon to get caught up in the blast…

    “Thomas!” Statuedramon yelled. “Now that the bad guys are dead, I would be most appreciative if you would be so kind as to GET ME OUT OF THESE BARS!”

    “Yeah, yeah, I’m on it.” With a few well-aimed strikes of my sword, I cleanly sliced through the bars of the cell, freeing Statuedramon and creating an opening large enough for me to walk through. “Are you two okay?”

    “We’re fine,” Zelda said. “They’ve taken my Talismans and Statuedramon’s weapons, but they didn’t hurt us.”

    “Our stuff is over there.” Statch pointed to a wooden table with Zelda’s satchel and his own sword and shield on it. “But I think Tankmon had the keys when you blew him up…” I gave the Rookie Digimon a blank look. “When you blew him up,” he repeated.

    “Give me a little credit, Statch,” I said. I jammed the tip of my sword into the keyhole of the shackle around his ankle, and it opened immediately, and as I did the same for Zelda, Statuedramon walked out of the cell to the table where his weapons were.

    “Where did you go last night?” Zelda asked.

    “Yeah, what happened?” Statch asked, handing Zelda her satchel. “Why were you the only one lucky enough to not get caught?”

    “I went to pay a visit to Meramon,” I said. “I wasn’t sure if he was the one we were looking for or not, and while I was there, his diner was attacked by Tankmon, and one of his little brothers was killed.”

    “How terrible,” Zelda said breathlessly.

    “Wait, you’re pitying him?!” Statuedramon asked. “After everything he said to you the other day, after he tried to attack you, you still feel bad for him?!”

    “That’s enough, Statuedramon,” I said firmly.

    “Etemon is the bad guy…that’s hard to believe,” Statuedramon said. “He had such good food and everything!”

    “Where is Etemon right now?” Zelda asked as she fastened her satchel around her waist.

    “Volcamon told me he was on his way to Linnea to deal with Meramon,” I said.
    “Come on, we have to go after him!” Statuedramon said.


    Linnea Village
    7 Minutes

    “We should be getting close,” I said. Damn it, where is that restaurant?!

    “Thomas, look out!” Statuedramon shouted just as a small, singe-covered Digimon, carrying a chainsaw, whizzed right past my head. Though he missed my head, Giromon did manage to hit my left shoulder with his chainsaw, and as he saw my blood stain my clothes and run down my arm, he laughed, completely beside himself with glee.

    “That’s what you get for killing my friend Tankmon with one of my weapons!” Giromon said.

    “Yes,” Volcamon said, walking up next to Giromon. “Tankmon must be avenged!”

    “So…you’re still alive,” I said.

    “Yeah, I’m a little surprised myself,” Volcamon said. He rubbed the back of his neck and said, “If I were a Human, that fall would’ve killed me for sure. Still, it really hurt, and I passed out for a little while…”

    “Now there’s no way you’re going to win!” Giromon sneered. “The three of you are no match for Volcamon!”

    “Bring it on!” Statuedramon said, brandishing his sword as Volcamon ran up to him and thrust his knee into the Rookie’s face. Statuedramon nearly fell over, his face a bloody mess, and Volcamon punched him in the face. His weapons flew out of his hands, and he fell over, barely conscious and unarmed.

    “You’re next!” Volcamon pointed at me. “Tackle Time!”

    “Thomas…look out,” Statuedramon said weakly as a small trickle of blood welled from his mouth. I, however, stood my ground. As the Android Digimon got closer and closer to me, I drew my sword and held it up, and as Volcamon prepared to crash into me, I thrust my blade into his stomach. Surprised, Volcamon fell to his back, trying to cover up the bleeding wound on his stomach.

    “What the HELL?! No…no way!” Giromon exclaimed, dropping his chainsaw. “How could anybody defeat Volcamon so quickly?!” Giromon looked over at me, at my blood-drenched sword, and flew away screaming.

    “Giromon…come back,” Volcamon said weakly. “Help…me…”

    “No way! I’m not fighting anyone who can hurt you that badly!” Giromon shouted back, vanishing into the distance.

    “Cowardly…little…bastard…” Volcamon coughed up a large puddle of blood, and then fell silent before his body dissolved into small fragments of data.

    “Come on, we have to hurry,” I said. “Etemon could have already made it to Meramon’s saloon by now!”
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  4. #14
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 10 - Shades of Evil

    Etemon
    Linnea Village

    It had taken me a while, but I finally found the remnants of Meramon’s demolished restaurant. Grinning at the damage I had caused earlier in the night, I turned to glance behind me. The streets were empty. There wasn’t a single Human or Digimon in sight. They had all fled at the first sight of me. Its better this way, I thought. The fewer witnesses there are, the easier it will be for me to get away with murdering him. I looked around. That lowlife Meramon was nowhere to be seen, either. My smile vanished. “Meramon…Where is he? Where are you, Meramon?! Quit hiding, wherever you are, and face me, you coward!”

    “I’m right here,” I heard Meramon’s voice say. I turned around and saw him sitting at an outdoor table of a neighboring diner, one that hadn’t been destroyed last night. Across from him was a small Candlemon. “I’m no coward…unlike you, Etemon.”

    Excuse me?! What the hell did you just called me?!” I shouted. “Go on! Say it again! Say it to my face!”

    “I called you a coward,” Meramon said in a darker, but still unnervingly calm, tone of voice. “Unlike you, I don’t find it necessary to destroy other people’s homes from the safety of my own home. Unlike you, I don’t use whatever power I may have to endanger the lives of others as a means for entertainment. And unlike you, I do not murder innocent children simply because I am able to do so.” The tall Champion level stood up and began walking over to his old saloon, gazing at it in a wistful manner. “You think that, just because you have a lot of power, you and your cronies can bully others into doing whatever the hell it is that you want them to.”

    “So, what? If it's something that can be stopped, then just try to stop it!” I yelled.

    “See, that’s your problem, Etemon,” Meramon said. “Bandits like you don’t know when to talk and when to fight. Now is a good time to talk.” I clenched my fist in anger, observing Meramon as he spoke; not once had he looked over at me. “On the other hand…it’s also a good time to fight. You need to pay for what you did to my little brother, Etemon! Fire Blast!”

    “That’s not going to work, idiot!” As Meramon began running towards me, with his arms spread out and the flames covering his body blazing furiously, I leapt up and punched the Champion level in the face, knocking him down.

    “Big brother!” Candlemon jumped out of his chair and started hopping over to Meramon.

    “No…Candlemon, stay away!” Meramon said. I walked over to the fallen Digimon and bent down.

    “Well? Now who’s the coward here, huh? ‘Cause it sure don’t look like me,” I whispered.

    “Fire Fist!” Without hesitation, Meramon retaliated and hit me in the face.
    “Bastard!” I reached down and grabbed the Champion Digimon by the neck and hoisted him into the air. “You’re dead!”


    Thomas Kasuto

    We’re almost there, Meramon…please; don’t let us be too late! As we neared the end of an alley, Statuedramon unexpectedly stopped and looked around the corner.

    “Thomas, I found him!” Statuedramon whispered, pointing to Etemon. “He’s got Meramon by the neck; should we help him?”

    “If you mean Meramon, the answer is yes,” I said, drawing my sword. “This is how we earn our pay…after…all…” Statuedramon was not there to listen, as usual; he had run yelling out of the alley, holding up his sword.

    “Sword of Dragon’s Soul!” Statuedramon fired a transparent, sword-shaped projection from his sword that, when it hit Etemon’s back, exploded on impact.

    “…So…you managed to escape,” Etemon said, turning around and dropping Meramon to the ground. Gasping for air, he was helped off the ground by his little brother.

    “Meramon, are you okay?” Zelda asked as we caught up with Statch.

    “You…saved me…” Meramon coughed. “Even though I didn’t deserve to be saved…I…I don’t know what to say…”

    “We’ll be fulfilling your request now,” I said. “Etemon will die. That, I promise.”

    “…Thank you,” Meramon said. “I’ll help you in any way I can.”

    “You figured out that I’m a bandit pretty quickly; too quickly. How’d you know?” Etemon asked.

    “You have a terrible poker face, Etemon; I knew as soon as I told you why I was in this village,” I said. “And now…it’s time for you to die.”

    Etemon began to laugh. “Come, now; do you really think you could kill me?!” Etemon asked, laughing harder. “You say you’ve killed many Digimon, but you’re only a Human! You must be joking!”

    “There is no other option; as soon as the order is given, it must be carried out.” I held up my sword and aimed it at Etemon’s chest. “And my orders are to ensure that you die. Nothing more, and nothing less.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous; there isn’t a Human around who’s strong enough to defeat me! Or a Digimon, for that matter! Dark Network!”

    “Statch, get ready!” I shouted as Etemon prepared his attack. Statch nodded and ran in front of me, holding up his shield.

    “Dimensional Shield!” The design resembling a mouth on Statch’s shield opened up just as Etemon’s Dark Network impacted; however, instead of dispersing, the sphere was swallowed by the mouth on his shield until it was completely out of sight. “Sword of Dragon’s Soul!” Statuedramon pointed his sword skyward, and it began to glow black. He then swung his sword at Etemon, firing yet another projectile, this time a black one, at Etemon.

    “Fireball!” Meramon hurled a fireball at Etemon, which struck him in the chest simultaneously with Statuedramon’s attack; the combined strength of the two attacks caused him to fall to the ground on his back.

    “What the hell…was that?” Etemon was breathing heavily, and he tried to pick himself up off the ground.

    “My shield is able to absorb the attack of any Digimon; then, based on the attack I absorbed, I am able to change my sword attack’s element to that of the attack I just absorbed,” Statuedramon swung his sword once more, firing yet another attack at Etemon. However, the Ultimate leaped off the ground and avoided the attack at the last second.

    “Wow, you must be invincible,” Zelda said breathlessly as Meramon threw another fireball at Etemon, knocking him to the ground once again.

    “Yeah, I am pretty amazing,” Statuedramon said.

    “And oh so modest,” I added. Statch laughed sarcastically.

    “Well, I guess there are a few things I can’t deal with; for example, I am unable to absorb any physical or melee attacks, like Giromon’s chainsaw attack. Also, I’m pretty slow with all this armor on, so I have a lot of trouble dealing with enemies that are fast.” I smirked as he said this.

    Good…now, Etemon will probably think…

    “Enemies that are fast, you say? Well, why the hell didn’t you say so earlier?!” Etemon jumped back to his feet and began running toward Statch, his claws extended. In spite of this, Statch closed his eyes.

    That’s my cue! I thought, smiling as I ran up to and stabbed Etemon, thrusting my sword into Etemon’s right arm, which the Ultimate Digimon clutched in pain as blood came gushing from the gaping wound. Immediately, I pulled my sword out and wiped the blood off so as not to stain the blade with that filth’s blood.

    “Fast Digimon usually don’t have the best defense,” Statuedramon explained.

    “How?! How could a Human be strong enough to hurt me?!” Etemon asked as the blood flooded from his arm faster and faster with each passing second.

    “It’s because you’re weak, Etemon,” Meramon scowled at Etemon, standing behind him with his brother, Candlemon. “You’re so weak, you find it necessary to take the lives of those weaker than you in a pitiful and failed attempt to prove that you are strong. You’re pathetic.”

    “How DARE you of all Digimon call me weak?! Dark Network!” Etemon aimed and fired his attack at the two Flame Digimon.

    “Oh, shit, I’m not going to make it in time!” Statuedramon ran frantically over to Candlemon and Meramon, but Etemon had already attacked; there was no way Statch would have made it in time.

    “Come forth, Gallantmon! Cross over from the other realm and protect these innocent souls!” I turned around and saw Zelda holding a Talisman high above her head, and instantly, the form of Gallantmon appeared before Candlemon and Meramon. Etemon’s attack collided with Gallantmon’s shield, and it instantly dissipated. “Are you two okay?” Zelda called out to the two Digimon.

    “You…protected us…” Meramon said, staring at Zelda. “Even after everything I said to you the other day…I didn’t deserve to have my life be saved by you, but you did anyway…”

    “Well, I’m glad the two of you are safe,” Zelda replied, smiling sweetly.

    “What the hell is this…thing?” Gallantmon asked. Etemon’s mouth hung agape as the tall Mega Digimon looked down at him with a disdainful sneer. “You can’t honestly expect me to dirty my beautiful lance with the blood of this garbage!”

    “If you don’t wish to fight, you may return home, if you’d like,” Zelda said, holding up Gallantmon’s Talisman. Without another word, Gallantmon faded away into nothingness. The talisman in Zelda’s hand flashed brightly for a moment. Etemon continued to stare at the spot where Gallantmon had stood, his mouth still agape and his arm still bleeding.

    “You really ARE weak; Fireball!” Meramon hurled a fireball at Etemon, but the Ultimate was able to dodge it at the last second. Meramon threw more fireballs, but Etemon easily dodged all of them.

    “Meramon!” The Champion Digimon glanced over at Statuedramon as the Rookie held up his shield. “Over here!”

    “Fireball!”

    “Dimensional Shield!” Once again, the mouth on Statuedramon’s shield opened up, swallowing Meramon’s flame attack. “Sword of Dragon’s Soul!” This time, his sword began to glow red, and when he swung it, his attack was red and covered in flames as it struck Etemon and engulfed him in flames. Etemon then fell to the ground and began rolling around in a vain attempt to smother the flames. I jumped up and landed on Etemon. Both my feet pinned the Digimon’s arms to the ground.

    “Your end has come,” I said in a calm voice, forcefully thrusting my blade into Etemon’s chest. Etemon briefly raised his arm and wrapped his hand around my blade, and I watched as first his fingers, then his hand, and then the rest of his body, dissolve into small bits of data. His screaming came to an abrupt stop, the flames suddenly subsiding as Etemon died. “Mission accomplished.”

    “Yep; now all we have to worry about is the boss yelling at us for taking too long,” Statuedramon said. Meramon stood, staring blankly at the spot where Etemon had died.

    “I can’t believe it,” he said. “I can’t believe that monster is finally gone…” Meramon turned to look at me. “And you…you kept your promise…”

    “Of course; I was ordered to murder Etemon, anyway,” I shrugged.

    “And you…” Meramon turned to Zelda. “Even after all those things I said to you the other day, you still protected me and my little brother. I don’t know what to say, though I’m sure a simple apology or thanks wouldn’t suffice.”

    “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that; I’m happy I was able to help you,” Zelda said. “And you don’t need to apologize; I was never mad at you.”

    “Well, anyway, thank you; I owe you my life for the kindness you’ve shown to me and Candlemon,” Meramon said. Turning to me, he asked, “What are you going to do now? Now that Etemon’s been defeated…”

    “We’ve no more business here. We need to leave as soon as possible; though he says he doesn’t mind, my superior officer expects the members of our guild to return as soon as they finish a mission,” I said. Turning to look off into the distance, to the North, I said, “If there’s ever any more trouble in this village, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our base of operations is in an old, abandoned fortress in the Province of Celosia, in a forest on the borders of Valencia Territory and Lotisea Province.”

    “Yes…I’ll do that, though I hope I won’t have to,” Meramon said, smiling as the three of us walked off. “Goodbye, and thanks again!”

    “We’re leaving so soon?” Statuedramon asked.

    “It’s still early in the morning. If we hurry, we might be able to reach the Eastern Province by moonrise. We’ll have to travel through the desert at its hottest point, but…”

    “Hmm…I guess that’s preferable to angering the boss,” Statuedramon mused.

    “…What kind of person is your boss?” Zelda asked nervously.

    “Uh…it’s kind of hard to describe him,” Statch said. “He’s a Digimon, though. That’s, uh…about all I know…”

    “It’s very difficult to tell what he’s thinking,” I added. “Nobody’s ever seen him mad, though, except for our lieutenant…She has advised us many times to not do anything that would anger him.”

    “And it’s…okay that I’m going with you, right?” Zelda asked.

    “You need to find your sister, right? Of course it’s okay,” I said, turning around to give her a reassuring smile. She gave me a shy smile back, and the three of us continued on our way.
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  5. #15
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 11 - Red-eyed Glare

    Thomas
    Cyprus Desert

    Several hours had passed since our departure from Linnea. During that time, there was absolutely no change in the scenery—a common occurrence in the desert, from what I have observed. I looked down at Statuedramon, who was holding an upside-down map of the Arcadia continent.

    “Ok…According to this map that I…found…the quickest way to get back to Celosia Province is to cut through this small city up ahead,” Statuedramon said. I took the map from his hands and flipped it around before returning it to him. “Thanks, buddy. The city’s name is Cyclamen, and it’s about half a mile away.” I stopped walking. “What’s up, buddy? Something wrong?”

    “You said the city’s name was…Cyclamen?”

    “Unless the map is wrong, yeah, but I stole — er, found it in a store back in Caladium Village, so I don’t think it would be wrong.”

    “…Is there any other way to quickly return to base?” I asked. “One that doesn’t involve us going through Cyclamen?”

    “Well, if we go around it, either way, we’d have to go through Yew,” Statuedramon said. “We could do that, but it’d take us a lot longer, and I don’t think either of us wants to go there.”

    “…Yeah…” I stared down at the map in the short Digimon’s hands. Even just reading the name of that city made me feel ill. Cyclamen…of all the places…Why’d we have to end up there?

    “Are you okay, Thomas?” Zelda asked.

    “We don’t have to go there if you don’t want to,” Statch said. “I’m just saying if we take any longer, that might make the boss mad…maybe…”

    “…Let’s…go through Cyclamen, but we need to get out of there as soon as possible.” Statch nodded, placing the map inside the separate dimension his shield, and we continued walking.

    “Is there a reason you don’t want to go there? Because we don’t have to go if you really don’t want to,” Zelda whispered to me.

    “…Cyclamen City…was the city where I was born,” I said. “The people who live there…They’re evil.”

    “Evil? But…you aren’t…”

    “The citizens of Cyclamen aren’t bandits themselves,” I continued, staring straight down at my feet as I trudged through the sand. “They’re pretty close, though; they’re the kind of people who would turn in their parents for some paltry sum of florin. They might try to act nice, and friendly, but that’s only because they want something from you, and it’s usually money or…” I glanced at the young woman. She was looking up at me with interest. “…other services.”

    “…Oh…”

    “They’ll do anything, no matter how devious or how forceful, in order to get what they want. They are a rude and tactless, mock civilization of thieves and liars. That was why I decided to leave when I was only five years old — not very long after both of my parents were killed in the streets over only a little bit of money. That was when I was found by a woman named Victoria; she took me in and raised me like I was her own child, and she was the woman who taught me how to use a sword. I haven’t been to Cyclamen ever since, and I’m glad I haven’t.”

    “Maybe we shouldn’t go,” Zelda said. “If they’re as bad as you say they are, then—”

    “I’d rather not slow us down because of something I’d rather not do,” I said. “If anybody recognizes me, we might be kept there longer than I’d like.”

    “I don’t understand…”
    “You will. Unfortunately, I’m almost certain you will.”


    Cyclamen City

    It had taken us over an hour to reach Cyclamen City — Statuedramon had misjudged our distance from the city, having read the map upside down — and by that time, it was getting close to sundown. To my displeasure, the streets were packed with Humans and Digimon. In that regard, the city hasn’t changed. We had unfortunately found our way in a rather large crowd; not large enough for us to get lost, though just small enough for someone to notice us.

    “Let’s make this quick,” I said. “The street we’re on should lead us straight out of this city.”

    “Thomas, can we stop and eat?” Statuedramon asked. “We haven’t eaten all day…”

    “No. We continue onwards. If we keep going, we’ll reach a small village called Primrose before midnight. We can eat there.”

    “I’m kind of hungry, too,” Zelda said quietly.

    “…Well…I guess if we had to…we could…find a place to eat here,” I said.

    “Oh, sure! When your best friend in the whole wide world suggests it, it’s a big fat ‘no,’” Statch grumbled. “But when the cute girl mentions it, he’s all fucking over the idea…”

    “I—I don’t want to be an inconvenience to you, though!” Zelda added, looking and sounding flustered. “I’ve gone for several days in a row without eating, so…so I can keep going if you don’t want to stop…”

    “Days, huh?” I looked back at her. I guess that explains why she looks so…so gaunt! “…Listen, Zelda. I don’t know what kind of life you’ve had before you decided to join our guild, but when you’re working with us, you eat whenever you get hungry. Okay?” Behind me, I could hear Statuedramon repeating my every word in a mocking tone of voice, though I did my best to ignore him.

    “…Thank you, Thomas. I really appreciate that,” Zelda smiled.

    “How come I don’t get to eat whenever I want?!” Statch asked.

    “Because if you did, the entire continent would run out of food.”

    “…Yeah, you’re probably right…”

    “Now, let’s keep moving before anyone here notices—”

    “Well, what do we have here?” My heart sank upon hearing a new voice from behind me, and I quickly grabbed Zelda’s and Statch’s hands when I saw that a middle-aged man had approached us.

    “C’mon, let’s go.”

    “Yeah, I thought I recognized you!” the man said. “Yer that kid who left us ‘bout ten years ago, right? What’re you doing back here? Decided you wanted to come back to us?” I glared at the man. I recognized him instantly, and his appearance sent a chill down my spine. I could not recall his name, or if I ever knew it in the first place. Not that I cared, and I was certain I never even bothered to learn it, not after what he did. But that was not why I was surprised. His eyes were red. Not red with exhaustion, but red irises. Yes, red was a common eye color, as I’ve noticed in my travels, but his eyes…it could’ve just been my imagination, but they almost looked as though they were glowing. “Well?”

    “…I do not wish to speak to you,” I replied. The memory of what he did was playing vividly over and over again in my mind. What he had done did not surprise me; it was to be expected of the people who lived in this city.

    “Look, kid, if this is about what I did to yer parents all those years ago, I told you before; I’m not sorry,” the man said. “They owed me money. Money they didn’t have, clearly.”

    “The fact that you murdered them means nothing to me,” I said. I heard Zelda gasp my name in surprise. “They were just like you. They only cared for themselves…not even their own child.”

    “Dude…you never told me about that,” Statuedramon said quietly.

    “If you ain’t pissed about yer parents gettin’ killed, then why’d you leave?” the man asked. I turned away from the man, joining my friends.

    “…My job.”

    “A job? You?! What could a little puss like you do?!” the man began laughing, as did a few passersby who had happened to hear our conversation.

    “Please, don’t any of you recognize him?” a woman’s voice asked, sounding somewhat annoyed and amused at the same time. I turned to see who had spoken, seeing a young woman with long, blonde hair. “Thomas Kasuto is a professional assassin; you idiots would all do well to remember that he isn’t exactly the kind of person you’d want...displeased with you.”

    “Abigail,” the woman’s name instantly popped into my head. Abigail…that was her! But how could she have known about my work…wait, where did she go? I looked around the crowd, which increased in size by the minute, in search of Abigail, but she was nowhere to be seen. Abigail...I still need to apologize to you, don’t I...It's been about thirteen years since I left—

    “Ooh, pardon me, Mr. Killer,” a stranger said sarcastically, laughing. “You here to kill us?”

    I wish…

    “Nah, I’d bet he’s too much of a puss to touch a weapon,” another person said.

    “So, what are you doing here? Come here for old times’ sake?”

    “Why did you even leave in the first place?” the first man asked. I looked around at the other nameless individuals who had decided to join him. Like him, their eyes were red.

    “Surely you know,” I said.

    “No, I don’t,” the man said. “But then, I don’t care. Why did you come back?”

    “…Everyone here…they…”

    “They aren’t as evil as you might think them to be, my child,” said a voice from behind me.

    “Father Sephyrus,” the man said.

    “You lead a busy life, don’t you? Here one minute, there the next,” the man called Sephyrus said to me. His raven hair was long, falling past his shoulders, and he was dressed in black priest’s robes. He had a serene and delicate appearance, and I almost mistook him for a woman. His voice had a similar serenity and calmness to it. “If it is your wish, I could escort you to the edge of town so you can continue on your way.”

    “…I would appreciate that, sir,” I said.

    “Jeez, you’re so much nicer than those guys back there,” Statch said.

    “And you don’t smell like beer,” Zelda whispered. Father Sephyrus laughed, and looked at me.

    “Is there a problem, my child?” he asked.

    “Oh…forgive me, sir, but I… I don’t recall there being a church of any kind when I was here last,” I said.

    “You’ve been gone for thirteen years, Thomas; our church, run by Father MagnaAngemon, was built roughly six years ago,” Sephyrus replied. “Change is like that; it can happen in the blink of an eye…or over the course of a lifetime.”

    “Why would there be a church in a town of thieves and murderers?” Statch asked.

    “For precisely that reason,” Sephyrus said. “It has been the mission of Father MagnaAngemon and me to lead these poor souls away from a life of sin. To you, Thomas, they may seem worse than they did thirteen years ago, but the two of us have made a vast improvement on their personalities, not to mention their souls and state of being.”

    “Wow, they must’ve been terrible before, then,” Statuedramon said.

    “Yes; though the results are always worth it, it hasn’t exactly been easy working with them,” Sephyrus said, laughing. As we walked past a large and ornate building, much finer in appearance than the other run-down houses in the city, Sephyrus stopped walking, and looked up at it with a smile on his face. “But at the end of the day…there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. This church may have taken many years to complete, but it was worth it.”

    “…Father Sephyrus. Is Father MagnaAngemon still here? There’s something I’d like to ask him,” I said.

    “Certainly, my child. MagnaAngemon’s doors are always open, so that he may aid any in need,” Sephyrus said. The priest opened the large front doors of the church, and followed us in. The doors slammed shut with a loud, ancient creak afterwards. We were directed by him through a short hallway into the nave of the church, were dozens of rows of cushioned pews filled the room and lined the walls. “Larraine? Where are you, child?” A young girl’s head popped up from the middle of the pews. When she saw Sephyrus, her face brightened, and she ran up to him. She appeared to be no older than ten, with hair as blue as the sky running down to her shoulders. She wore a small and simple white dress, patched-together and worn out. Sephyrus knelt down before her, and placed a hand over her small shoulder. “Sweet child, could I ask you to find Father MagnaAngemon for me?” The girl nodded and ran off, smiling happily all the way.

    “She’s so cute!” Zelda said.

    “I’m afraid that poor child is an orphan, my dear,” Sephyrus said, standing back up. “Her father walked out on her before her mother even knew she was pregnant, and just a few months ago, her poor ailing mother passed. This church is home to many who have been placed in a similar predicament.”

    “What?! Well, where the hell is her stupid father?! I’m gonna kick his stupid bitch ass!” Statuedramon yelled. His booming voice echoed through the entire room.

    "…We do not know where he might be right now,” Sephyrus said. His indifference to Statch’s outburst caught my immediate attention. “You may rest here if you’d like. I will try to find Father MagnaAngemon for you.” The priest bowed politely to us, and left the nave.

    MagnaAngemon

    “…and that’s all I have to report,” the Vilemon standing before me said. As I sat at the desk in my office, I looked up at the small Digimon. Accompanying him were three DemiDevimon.

    “That’s all you have to report?!” I asked. “What good does the presence of a boy who hasn’t been here for thirteen years do for me?!”

    “We’re sorry, boss; but that’s all we were able to discover,” one of the DemiDevimon said. “We thought he might have a lot of that stuff you told us about; you know, the stuff with the name that’s hard to pronounce!”

    “Oh, shut up!” I drew my sword, Excalibur, and stabbed it into the middle of the DemiDevimon’s forehead, instantly killing the small Rookie. The three other Evil Digimon gave me a frightened look as I wiped their friend’s blood off my sword. “I decide who we gather it from, because I am the one in charge; not you, not Sephyrus, but ME. Got that?!” The three Digimon, though trembling with fear, nodded quickly. “Now, get out of my sight!” Vilemon and the DemiDevimon jumped when I screamed, and flew out through an open window just as I heard a small knock on my door. “Yes, who is it?” I asked, hoping I sounded calm. I opened the door and saw Larraine standing. I smiled. “Larraine…what can I do for you?”

    “Mr. Sephyrus is back, and he told me that he wants to talk to you,” Larraine said.

    “Does he, now? Well, I’ll go see what he wants, then. Thank you, Larraine,” I said. The child beamed at me as I left my room and walked down a hallway. Damn it, why did I design this place with so many hallways and rooms?! I can never remember where Sephyrus’s office is!

    “I’m right here, MagnaAngemon.” Sephyrus’s voice came from behind me, and I turned around to see him walking out of one of the many rooms lining the hallway.

    “What do you want, Sephyrus?” I asked. “I told you earlier this morning; I don’t have time to waste on these useless idiots—”

    “He’s here,” Sephyrus interrupted.

    “Who?”

    “The boy we’ve been following. His name is Thomas Kasuto.”

    “The boy who hasn’t been here in thirteen years?” Sephyrus nodded. “My Vilemon and DemiDevimon already told me about him; what good does his presence do for us?”

    “Our lady believes he has grown quite powerful in the short time he’s been with that mercenary guild,” Sephyrus said. “If he grows any stronger, the lady fears it will be nigh impossible to defeat him and his friends.”

    “So, that’s where I come in, right?” I asked. Sephyrus nodded.

    “Go, now; they await your arrival in the nave,” Sephyrus said. “Go on, now; do your job.”

    “All right, listen up; just because she likes you more does not mean you get to boss me around!” I shouted. “While we are in this city, I am in charge; got it?! I give the orders, not you!”

    Sephyrus stared at me, neither angry nor surprised. The look in his eyes made me angrier; it was almost as if he were mocking me! “I understand,” Sephyrus said. If anything, his tone of voice was even more mocking than the look in his eyes. It was infuriating! “So, what will we do?”
    “…They…requested to see me, correct?” I asked. “I will…speak with them. But not because you told me to; because our lady wishes for it to be done; got it?!” I turned away from Sephyrus and began walking toward the nave, with Sephyrus following me.


    Thomas Kasuto

    We had been waiting for several minutes inside the church in the large, vacant nave Sephyrus had left us in. Zelda and I sat next to each other on the pews, while Statch lay on his back several feet from us, looking up at the undecorated ceiling. A small breeze from an open window wafted indoors, taking the notice away from the leathery smell of old books and the scent of a freshly burnt out set of candles.

    “Thomas, what made you decide to visit this church?” Statuedramon asked, breaking the silence.

    “I’m not sure, really; did either of you notice something…odd about the eyes of the people here?” I asked, but both Zelda and Statch shook their heads. “Their eyes…they looked like they were shining…and deep crimson. It was probably just my imagination, but…”

    “What’s wrong with that?” Statch asked. “Red is a normal eye color; hell, I’ve got red eyes — or, a red eye, at least — but I’ve never heard you complaining.”

    “…I’ve heard legends of an evil Digimon, one that had once been an angel before falling to darkness. It is said that Digimon is able to completely mind control anyone who stares into his deep crimson eyes, and the eyes of his victims take on a similar glow.”

    “If he’s only spoken of in legends, then he isn’t real, is he?” Statch asked.

    “Not necessarily; the two of us have seen plenty of Digimon that were supposed to be only a legend,” I said. “Remember when we found that Deckerdramon in Lotisea Province?”

    “So, what kind of Digimon do you think we’re dealing with?” Zelda asked.

    “I think his name was—” Before I could finish, a large pair of ornately decorated doors swung open.

    “Thomas, Father MagnaAngemon is here,” Sephyrus said as a tall Digimon approached the three of us. Sephyrus then left the room, closing the doors behind him.

    “So, you’re the lad who left this city thirteen years ago,” MagnaAngemon said, smiling gently. “It’s wonderful to finally meet you. Is there anything I might be able to do for you?”

    “Yes, actually, there is,” I said, eyeing MagnaAngemon’s right wrist. The tip of the sword equipped to his right arm was stained with fresh blood, but something else caught my eye. “Why don’t you tell us who you really are?” MagnaAngemon tilted his head slightly in confusion.

    “I don’t understand what you mean; my name is MagnaAngemon, and I—”

    “No, you aren’t,” I interrupted quickly. “A real MagnaAngemon…wears a Holy Ring on his right wrist.” MagnaAngemon bit his lower lip, clenching his fist in anger, but he soon began to laugh.

    “I’ve been here for six years and six months, and not one person in this damned town was smart enough to notice that one simple detail; two seconds after talking to you, and you can already tell!” MagnaAngemon laughed louder and more maniacally. It reminded me of Gallantmon when he was attacking the Minotarumon.

    “I’ll only ask one more time; who are you?!” I asked as I removed my sword from its scabbard.

    “Thomas, calm down! So what if he doesn’t have a ring? What difference does it make?” Statuedramon asked.

    “A Digimon that normally wears a Holy Ring is able to do so because they themselves are holy,” I said. “A Digimon that has lost its ring has — more often than not — fallen from grace and descended into darkness.”

    “Yes, that’s a fairly accurate explanation of what happened to me!” MagnaAngemon said as he became enveloped in shadows. “Well, since you know my secret, Thomas, I can’t allow you to leave this city alive, but at least allow me to show you something interesting before I kill you! MagnaAngemon, Slide Evolution, Devimon!”

    “That…That’s him!” I said. “Devimon is the Digimon I was telling you about!”

    “What’s Slide Evolution? I’ve never heard of that!” Statuedramon exclaimed.

    “Oh, you won’t need to worry about the details of it,” Devimon said, towering over all of us, being much taller than he was when he was MagnaAngemon. “I’ll be sending you all to a much nicer place than this city! You should really be thanking me for that!”

    “So, you’re the reason everyone in this city has glowing red eyes; as I’ve said, those who stare into the eyes of a Devimon are mind-controlled and completely dominated by them,” I said. Devimon grinned, baring his sharp fangs. “But why are you here? What purpose does mind-controlling the people in this city serve for you? Certainly, there are cities with more…tolerable people.”

    “You don’t need to know; after all, soon, you shall all be—” as he was talking, Devimon failed to notice me as I ran up to him and pierced his shoulder with my blade. Devimon screamed in pain as he tried, in vain, to shake me off.

    “Tell me what I want to know,” I said calmly, twisting the blade inside the gristle of his shoulder. “Tell me, and the pain ends.”

    “I—I’m only working for someone,” Devimon said quickly, struggling to breathe as he attempted to pull my sword out of his bleeding shoulder. “I…I don’t even know her name…she just told me to find something called ‘quintessence’ from strong Humans and Digimon for her! I just took control of all the Humans and Digimon here to help me search for some of that quintessence stuff! I don’t know anything about it!” After a moment, I quickly pulled my sword from Devimon’s shoulder and neatly wiped the blood off. Devimon tightly gripped his shoulder as he looked around the room, hoping to find something to stop the bleeding.

    “Come on, Statch; let’s go,” I said.

    “Where are we going?” Statuedramon asked as he and Zelda ran after me.

    “Back to Celosia Province; there’s no point in staying here anymore.” I slid my sword back into its scabbard.

    “Is that a good idea? What about—”
    “Let’s go. The boss is waiting.”


    Devimon

    “Damn that…bastard…” My breathing was starting to grow more and more labored, and my head was getting dizzy from all the blood I had lost, so I sat down to rest on one of the pews. “I can’t…die here…” With a tremendous effort, I forced myself to stand back up. “Need to…finish the job…”

    “Oh, that won’t be necessary,” a woman’s voice came from a far corner of the room I was in, though the owner of the voice was hidden amongst the shadows.

    “Who are…you?” I asked.

    “I’m just here to let you know that the Lady doesn’t have any more use for you,” she said.

    “WHAT?! How can…that be? I’ve been here for…six years…for…”

    “Yes, yes, six years, six months, and six days; I’m well aware of that,” the woman’s voice grew more impatient. I staggered over to the shadow where the voice came from to see if I could tell who was talking, but the shadow was too dark for me to see through.

    “Who are you?!” I asked again.

    “To use your words; you don’t need to know the details. I’ll be sending you to a much nicer place than this city. You should really be thanking me!”

    “Shut up! Nobody tells me what to do!” As I thrust my claw towards the shadow, a long black spear emerged from the darkness and stabbed me in the chest. Then all went dark around me.
    “All those who are useless to the Lady…they will share your fate.”

    Her voice was the last thing I heard.


    Thomas Kasuto
    Cyprus Desert
    10 Minutes

    “Thomas…what should we do about Devimon?” Zelda asked. “Is it really okay that we left him alone like that? What if he does something?”

    “…I don’t know what quintessence is,” I said. “I need to ask my superior officer about it before I decide what to do. If I learn it’s something…dangerous, I will return.”

    “We should get to sleep,” Statuedramon said. “Our base of operations is about ten hours away from where we are now, so by the time we get there, it’ll be close to sundown if we leave here in the morning.”
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  6. #16
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 12 - Lachesis

    Thomas Kasuto
    Valencia Territory, Celosia Province
    Towards the End of the Following Day

    It had been a long journey, one that had taken longer than anticipated, due to our delay in Cyclamen City and the large distance between that city and our destination, but we were finally almost home. Fortunately, the sun was still out, so finding our way to the base wouldn’t be too difficult.

    “We’re almost there,” I said, looking over at Zelda. “Our base lies in a clearing in the middle of this forest.” She hadn’t said much since we left Cyprus Province, though now that we were getting closer and closer to our base, she looked very happy. She hadn’t been able to stop smiling all day…not that I was complaining; she had a very lovely smile.

    “Are we there yet?” Statuedramon asked for about the fifth time that minute. I smiled.

    “Yes, we’re here.” I said. The three of us found a large opening in the trees, through which we left the forest to find a rather old-looking brick fortress, three stories tall and covered in ivy and other kinds of plants that I did not know the name for. The fortress stood in the middle of a large clearing in the forest, completely devoid of trees, as I said. “This is it, Zelda; welcome to Lachesis. It’s not much to look at, but it is home to every one of us.”

    “I think it looks wonderful,” Zelda said, gazing at the fortress with a smile on her face. “I can’t wait to meet everybody!”

    “There are only twelve of us here now,” Statuedramon said. “Well, thirteen, if we include you, Zelda; seven humans and six Digimon.”

    “…Unlucky thirteen,” Zelda said. She laughed quietly to herself, though for the first time today, she almost looked sad.

    “You okay?” I asked.

    “I’m fine…Just a little nervous about meeting the others, now that I’m actually here.”

    “You’ll be fine; you’re with us!” Statch said.

    “…Is this about what the Digimon in Linnea said to you?” I whispered.

    “It’s nothing…I’m okay,” Zelda said quietly. “Let’s just go in and meet everyone, okay? I’m really excited!”

    “Well, come on in, then! There’s nothing to be afraid of!” Statuedramon said, running into the old fort. Hesitantly, Zelda followed, and I went in last. It took us all only a few seconds to reach the large, central room of the fort. It was filled with tables, chairs, and couches, a few of which were occupied. The walls, like the fort’s exterior, were brick, but the floor was wood, as were the tables and chairs.

    “This is Lachesis’s lounge room; this is where everyone eats and relaxes while they’re not on a mission,” I said.

    “And that’s the kitchen, way in the back!” Statch exclaimed. “Our boss cooks some of the best food I’ve ever eaten! It’s even better than the stuff we had at Etemon’s castle!”

    “So, you’ve both returned. Welcome back.” I looked to my left and saw a woman, elegant and incredibly beautiful, sitting at a table while gazing at us with eyes of shimmering gold. Her black robes, outlined in a deep violet that matched her hair, contrasted well with her pale and fair complexion, and though they were rather loose, they did well in showing her curvaceous and well-endowed figure. “You certainly took a lot longer to finish that job than even I thought you would.”

    “We had to go all the way to the desert,” Statch said. “Those rumors we heard about our target being in Paeonia were false, but we were able to find him in Linnea Village. To save time, we had to cut through Cyclamen City so we wouldn’t have to go through Yew.”

    “Then that’s twice the incentive to celebrate your return, having visited the so-called desert of death,” the woman said. “Oh, and what’s this? You’ve brought such a cute guest with you. What’s your name, dear?”

    “Oh, I’m Zelda, ma’am.”

    “Zelda, this is Bellaluna Rosalina,” I said. “She’s our, uh…potion brewer.”

    “You can say it, Thomas. I’m the ‘Witch,’” Bellaluna whispered seductively. “I make potions; I cast spells…that sort of thing. Also, call me Luna. I insist.

    “Yeah, she insists,” Statuedramon said. “She turned me into a Numemon once for calling her by her full name.”

    “Don’t frighten the poor girl, Statuedramon; I’m not a monster!” Luna said, turning to look at Zelda. “Goodness, dear! You look so…so skinny! Are you okay? You’re not sick, are you? Haven’t you been feeding her, Thomas?! She’s practically skin and bones!”

    “No, I’m fine,” Zelda whispered, blushing slightly. “I’m fine…really…”

    “Well, if you say so, dear. What brings you here?”

    “Um…Thomas and Statuedramon told me…” She looked down at the ground and mumbled a few words quietly.

    “She wants to join us,” Statch said. The blush in Zelda’s face reddened.

    “Oh, that’s wonderful!” Luna exclaimed. “We’re always happy to get new members, dear, so you don’t need to be so nervous!”

    “Yes ma’am. I’ll…try,” Zelda said.

    “So, why’d you decide to join us? Did Thomas knock you up or something?” Luna asked. “No, your belly isn’t round…Did he maybe—”

    “Luna, please; I am not Garret,” I said before Luna could finish her sentence.

    “Aw, I know you would never do anything so naughty, handsome,” Luna giggled. “Garret, maybe, but definitely not you.”

    “And just what the hell ’s that supposed to mean, witch?!” a gruff, angry voice shouted from the lounge area of the room. A large man, blond and beady-eyed, got off a couch, followed by a Digimon, and walked over to Luna, giving her a spiteful glare. His large arms were crossed over his burly chest.

    “Nothing much, really; it just means that Thomas is a perfect gentleman, while you, Garret, are a perfect example of someone nobody should ever idolize,” Luna said, laughing coyly.

    “Meaning you’re a complete ass, Garret,” Statch added.

    “Yeah, yeah, I gots it; I’s a total jackass; try tellin’ me something I don’t know,” Garret said.

    “Oh, come now, everyone; there isn’t any need to be so hard on Master Garret,” a Digimon standing next to Garret said. The way he spoke made him sound almost like he was Garret’s butler.

    “MetalEtemon, why do you kiss up to that ass?” Statuedramon asked. “You’re a nice guy; you should have a better ‘master’ than Garret!”

    “I’ll say nothing on your choice of Human partners, and I’d like it if you’d say nothing on mine,” MetalEtemon said sternly.

    “And just what the hell does that mean?!” Statuedramon yelled angrily. “I’ll have you know that Thomas is the best Human partner a Digimon could ask for, and is far superior to that pale bastard in every possible way!”

    “Statuedramon!” Zelda exclaimed.

    “No, dat’s me nickname,” Garret said, ignoring the fight between our Digimon. “‘That pale bastard’ is my nickname.”

    “…Oh.”

    “So, ‘re you a new recruit, Zelda?”

    “Yes; it’s a pleasure to meet all of you,” Zelda said politely.

    “Really? Wow…never heard that from a broad before,” Garret said. “So…anyway, I’m the ‘Pillager,’ and this is my partner, MetalEtemon, the ‘Butler.’”

    “What do you two do?” Zelda asked. Garret grinned, and glanced behind at MetalEtemon.

    “I looks like a bandit. I talks like a bandit. And I fights like one. But here’s the thing; I’m not a bandit,” Garret explained. “See, whenever our group goes and fights bandits, when we’s part of a big group, I go to the bandits, and they thinks I’m one of them. Then, when they ain’t lookin,’ I swipes whatever dey gots to swipe; weapons, treasure, bystanders, you name it. I pillage from pillagers. That’s my game. Clever, huh?”

    “For you, yeah,” Statuedramon agreed. MetalEtemon clenched his fist, but Garret shook his head. Shaking his head, the Mega level Digimon walked away.

    “Well, I gots to go; MetalEtemon and me’ve gots a job to do,” Garret said, beginning to walk away. “Have fun killin’ people. I always do.”

    “You don’t have to worry about that,” Luna said as she noticed a worried look on Zelda’s face. “If killing isn’t what you want to do, then nobody here will force you to.” Zelda sighed with relief as Luna turned to look at me; more specifically, at my right arm, still covered in bandages from when Sealsdramon attacked me a few days ago. “So, what happened to you, handsome?”

    “Oh, this? I was attacked from behind by a Sealsdramon,” I said. “He didn’t hit me very hard, but it’s still kind of hard for me to move my arm a lot,” I looked at my shoulder, at the blood-stained bandages wrapped around my arm. “I almost forgot I still had these bandages on.”

    “Is that why you’ve been wielding your sword left-handed?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Well, I’m left-handed anyway, but my right arm is stronger,” I said.

    “Your blood…it is such a beautiful color…” Luna whispered seductively. To my surprise, she had managed to lift up my sleeve without my notice, and was staring intently at the bandages. She then reached over and grabbed my chin with her right hand, moving my head so that I was looking her right in the eyes. They were an eerie shade of gold, and yet they were extremely beautiful. “Your blood is precisely 1.5 shades lighter than average; a beautiful color,” Luna whispered, her tongue slowly moving across her cherry-red lips. “I'm looking forward to the next time I'm fortunate enough to see such an exquisite color again...” Without warning, Luna bent over and kissed me on the lips. In all honesty, it was a very pleasant experience, and it seemed to finish as soon as it began. “Do be a dear and show me soon. You wouldn't want to keep me waiting; you should know that I hate being...dissatisfied...” Luna finally let go of me before walking off. “I hate to leave, but I also have a job to get ready for…” I dared not look over at Statuedramon, as I knew I was blushing profusely, and I knew he would comment on it.

    “I had…no idea it was possible to like blood that much,” Zelda said.

    “It’s kind of a fetish,” Statuedramon said.

    “Yeah, Luna’s kind of weird like that,” a small young girl standing beside me, donned in an overly large witch’s hat, suddenly chimed in.

    “Oh, hello, Chrysania; how long have you been standing there?” I asked, looking down at the shorter girl.

    “Not very long,” Chrysania said, smiling as wide as ever. “Are you the girl Chrissy heard everyone talking about? You’re joining Lachesis, aren’t you?”

    “I certainly hope I’m allowed to; I don’t exactly have a home to return to,” Zelda said.

    “Oh, wow, just like Chrissy!” Chrysania exclaimed. “It’ll be nice to have a girl close to Chrissy’s age for her to talk to; well, there’s also Irene, but she’s really shy, so she doesn’t talk to Chrissy or anyone else very much.” Zelda smiled as Chrysania spoke. “It’s been a long time since anyone’s joined Lachesis; who joined last?”

    “That would have been Irene, a little over three years ago,” I said.

    “So, what do you do?” Zelda asked.

    “Oh, Chrissy is a witch, like Luna! Chrissy is the ‘Apprentice,’ and she’s also the youngest member of Lachesis!” Chrysania exclaimed. “Chrissy isn’t very good at being a witch yet, but Luna’s helping her get better so she can help out all her good friends at Lachesis more! Chrissy is always making mistakes and dropping things and falling over, but Luna never gets mad at her for it! She’s a great magic teacher, but she’s an even better mommy!”

    “Luna’s your…mother?” Zelda asked. “She doesn’t look old enough to have a daughter your age…”

    “Oh, Luna isn’t Chrissy’s REAL mommy, but Chrissy doesn’t have a real mommy, so Luna’s pretending to be Chrissy’s mommy instead!”

    The expression on Zelda’s face grew somewhat sadder upon hearing Chrysania’s answer, but the small witch didn’t seem to notice as she looked up at her.

    “I hope you join; this is a great place to be!” Chrysania smiled at Zelda one last time before merrily skipping off after Luna.

    “You don’t need to be worried about whether the boss will accept you or not,” I said, walking up to Zelda. “It’s true, we don’t have very many members here, but that’s only because not many out there have heard of us, or are brave enough to do what we do. I’m sure you’ll be accepted.” As I spoke to her, a large, dark-skinned man walked up to us. He carried a huge axe single-handedly, and he was accompanied by a Digimon, like Garret.

    “Yes, dare is no need to be concerned,” the man said, speaking with a noticeably thick accent; however, in spite of this, he spoke clearly enough so we could all understand what he was saying. He held out a large hand, which Zelda shook as she introduced herself. “I am Pheragas Danved, de ‘Rook’; I hope you find your time ‘ere to be enjoyabull.”

    “And I’m Pheragas’s partner Digimon, BlackGaomon the ‘Fist!’” the small Digimon standing next to Pheragas said, also shaking Zelda’s hand. “The two of us fight bandits head on, like Garret and MetalEtemon.”

    “Ve are too big to be sneaking around in dahkness like Thomas,” Pheragas said. “Dare vould be not much difficulty finding me trying to sneak around, no?”

    “Not really, no,” Statuedramon laughed with the large man.

    The three of us could probably fit in that giant’s hands…maybe just one…I thought as Pheragas walked off. “That man…he’s easily the strongest Human here,” I said.

    “I’ve seen him uproot a tree and snap it in half before,” Statuedramon said. “With his bare hands; he didn’t use that gigantic axe of his or anything!”

    “Okay, I seriously doubt that he’s ever done that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d be able to…” I turned my head, seeing two more members of Lachesis in a conversation on one of the couches. “Hey, SlashAngemon!” I called, and the two turned, smiling when they saw the three of us walk over to them.

    “Welcome back, Thomas,” SlashAngemon said. He and the girl he sat with stood up. “I take it your mission was successful?”

    “Yeah, we killed that Etemon bandit leader, no problem!” Statuedramon boasted.

    “Who might this be?” SlashAngemon asked.

    “My name is Zelda; if I’m lucky, I’ll be joining Lachesis…”

    “I see; graciously do I welcome you here, Milady,” SlashAngemon bowed at the waist. “I am SlashAngemon the ‘Knight,’ and this young lady is…” SlashAngemon looked beside him to see that the girl he had been speaking to was no longer there. He then looked behind himself and said, “There isn’t any need to be shy, Irene; come greet our new friend.” A petite girl, barely shorter than Zelda, with long, ebony hair that reached the middle of her back, came out slowly from behind SlashAngemon. “This here is Irene the ‘Scout.’”

    “…Nice to…meet you…” Irene said, speaking nervously and quietly. She was looking steadily down at the floor, and her hair obscured her face, though I was certain that she was blushing in embarrassment.

    “Irene and I serve as scouts for Lachesis,” SlashAngemon went on to say. “She’s rather quick on her feet, and her natural quietness is quite helpful to the job. The two of us often go to the city of Yew, which is where we find job requests for all our members to do, in addition to food and groceries.” Irene blushed while trying to hide her face in her long hair. “So, have you spoken to the boss yet?”

    “Yeah, we were just about to go there,” I said.

    “Very well; I wish you luck,” SlashAngemon said cryptically as we walked off. We walked out of the lounge room past the kitchen and entered a hallway with a rather large door at the end of the hall. Next to the door were two sets of stairways that led to the upper levels of the fort.

    “Beyond that big door up ahead is the room where our leader usually stays,” I said just as the door opened, and out walked a tall Digimon covered in white armor.

    “Hello, Dianamon,” Statch said.

    “Thomas, welcome back,” the tall Digimon said. “I’m happy to see you made it back in one piece.”

    “Hey, what about me?!” Statch yelled.

    “Yes, you too, Statuedramon,” Dianamon sighed, and then turned to Zelda. “And who might this young lady be?”

    “Oh, this is Zelda,” I said. “We were about to speak with the boss about letting her join us.”

    “Well, I hope all goes smoothly,” Dianamon said. “All should go well in there. If there’s anything you happen to need after being admitted, just come to me. I am Dianamon, the ‘Queen.’” Zelda thanked Dianamon as the Mega Digimon walked off.

    “Well, are you ready to meet him?” I asked. Zelda nodded slowly as I opened the door to our boss’s room.
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  7. #17
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 13 - The Knights Have Arrived

    Zelda
    Lachesis HQ

    None of the Digimon here seem to have…noticed. This was the thought that barged its way into my mind every time I had gotten rid of it. Or maybe they do? Or maybe their boss will notice, and he won’t let me join…Damn it, Zelda, you shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up! Stupid, stupid, stupid—

    Thomas opened the large door and held it for me and Statuedramon to enter the headquarters. In spite of the withered and ancient appearance of the fortress, the door closed shut with a smooth but loud thud. The room was much smaller than the lounge area of the fortress, but still rather spacious, and nearly empty, save for a single bookcase crammed full of books, a desk, and a large bed lining the room’s left wall where a tall Digimon I could only assume was their boss sat, looking at the three of us with interest. Directly across from the door was a large, closed window with a pair of ornately decorated curtains.

    “We’re back, boss,” Statuedramon said.

    “Statch, Statch, Statch! Where is your sense of adventure?!” the Digimon asked. “You call me boss all the time! Try calling me—”

    “I refuse to address you as ‘Your Majesty,’” Statuedramon said dryly.

    “Aww…”

    Or ‘You Highness!’”

    “…Glad to see you both made it back,” the large Digimon smiled at Thomas and Statuedramon. “Now, what took so long?”

    “I apologize, sir; the rumors we heard about the bandit leader’s whereabouts proved to be false,” Thomas said. “We were able to find him, though; he had taken up residence in Linnea Village.”

    “It’s all thanks to this young lady that we were able to do it,” Statuedramon looked over at me as he spoke.

    “A pleasure to meet you, Milady,” the Digimon said, standing up. “I am Apollomon the ‘King.’”

    “Oh, no; I—I didn’t really do that much,” I said, nervously shaking the large Digimon’s hand. I could feel myself blushing, which made me feel even more nervous.

    “It might not seem that way to you, but really, you did a lot,” Thomas said. “If you hadn’t found us, we would have been killed by that Minotarumon for certain.”

    “And don’t forget about Candlemon and Meramon,” Statuedramon added. “If you hadn’t summoned Gallantmon, Etemon would’ve killed them for sure!”

    “Summoned?” Apollomon looked at me curiously. “Are you perchance…a Summoner?”

    “Yes, sir,” I said shyly. Maybe…maybe he doesn’t notice, after all… “And if it isn’t a problem, Mr. Apollomon, sir, I would like to join your guild.”

    “…Tell me; why is it you wish to join us?” Apollomon asked.

    “I’m looking for my sister,” I replied. “We’ve been separated for over five years, and after traveling nearly all over Arcadia, I haven’t found any sign of her. I thought maybe if I joined a guild like this one, where its members travel around a lot, I might be able to find her easier…”

    “Sounds like you’ve been through a lot,” Apollomon said.

    “I…don’t have any way of knowing if she’s still alive or not,” I said. “Please, sir…let me join your guild...”

    “Okay.” I looked up at the Mega Digimon, startled by his quick response. “You need help; it would be remiss of me to deny you that much, especially after all you’ve done to help out those two, and it’s always nice to have someone like you, who unquestionably cares for her allies, join us.”

    “Th—Thank you, sir,” I politely bowed toward Apollomon. “I promise; I’ll do everything I can to be useful to you and your honorable guild!”

    “Think nothing of it,” the Mega Digimon said casually. “The reason our group exists is to help out others in need; now, get that memorized.” I nodded. “Take that to heart, and never back down from a challenge, no matter how tough it may be to overcome. Always remember that real power comes from your heart, and is backed by an unwavering courage.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Now, is there anything you’d like me to do for you? Anything you need?” Apollomon asked.

    “…No, sir. Not at the moment, sir.”

    “Very well, then. But don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, okay?” Zelda nodded. “My dear…I bid you welcome to Lachesis. Welcome, Zelda…the ‘Bishop.’”

    “Thank you very much, sir.”

    “It’s not a problem at all,” Apollomon smiled. “Statuedramon!”

    “Yeah, what is it?” the Rookie asked.

    “If you’d be so kind, could you escort this young lady to a suitable lodging?”
    “Yes, sir,” Statuedramon gave the larger Digimon a rather lazy salute.


    Thomas Kasuto

    Statuedramon led Zelda out of the room and up one of the flights of stairs nearby as Apollomon got up off his bed and walked over to the window.

    “Aren’t you going with them, Thomas?” he asked me.

    “…Under no circumstances is she to be ordered to harm another living being,” I said. “Do I make myself clear?”

    “…Are you giving me an order? That’s rich,” Apollomon snorted. When I didn’t say anything, Apollomon turned around. “I never had any intention of turning her into a murderer…like I did with you.”

    “With all due respect, sir, it was another who turned me into a killer,” I said. “At the very least, she gave me the ability and the nerve to kill someone, and the weapon to do it with.”

    “Fair enough,” Apollomon laughed to himself. “Was that all? Or…was there something else you wished to discuss?”

    “Sir…what can you tell me about quintessence?”

    Apollomon turned to face me. “And just why would you want to know about something like that?!”

    “While we were on our way back from Linnea, we stopped in Cyclamen City. There, we fought a Digimon called Devimon,” I said.

    “Devimon? I thought he was just a legend,” Apollomon mused.

    “Well, that’s what we all thought about Deckerdramon, but he turned out to be real,” I replied. “The Devimon…he told me he was in Cyclamen to gather quintessence, although he didn’t have the slightest idea what it was, or why he was even gathering it in the stead of another.”

    “To be perfectly honest…I don’t know too much about it myself,” Apollomon said. “The only thing my friend told me about it…long ago, he warned me to stay far away from it. Now, the only information I can offer you is the same warning he gave to me all those years ago; Thomas, stay away from quintessence, and anything relating to it. It will only lead to a ruinous end.”

    “Understood, sir,” I said. “That is all; if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be retiring to my room with Statuedramon for the night.”
    “You are dismissed,” Apollomon said. I bowed to the Mega Digimon before leaving the room. I made my way up the winding, musty staircase of the old fortress and to my bedroom.


    Apollomon

    That girl…something about her…reminds me of that child I was unable to save. “It’s been 20 years,” I whispered to myself. I stared out my window, stared at the sky, at the slowly setting sun, and the shadows the trees cast on our fortress. “That boy…what was his name again?”

    “John.” Somewhat surprised, I turned around and saw Pheragas and BlackGaomon standing in the doorway of my room. “You noticed too, didn’t you?” BlackGaomon asked.

    “Vut ah you talking about, BlackGaomon?” Pheragas asked.

    “A few years before we met, back when Apollomon, Dianamon, SlashAngemon, and I were the only members of Lachesis, we were tasked with protecting a young child,” BlackGaomon answered.

    “The boy was originally from Iris Village, down in Cyprus Wasteland,” I said. “However, a few circumstances led him to Cyclamen City, as he had been run out of his village.”

    “He vas run out? Vhy, vut did he do?” Pheragas asked.

    “Well…see, the thing is…he didn’t really do anything,” BlackGaomon said. “I don’t really know how to explain it…”

    “There is no real or logical way to explain why he was run out; the Digimon of Iris, and later of Cyclamen, just kept saying he was different from the other Humans who lived with them, that…they just sensed something was different about him,” I said. “To be perfectly fair, the four of us all felt somewhat troubled by his presence; we knew he was Human, but…all of our natural Digimon instincts were saying otherwise, that he was Human, and not Human at the same time. In spite of this, we all did our best to protect him…but we failed. We failed to protect that boy, and he was killed; killed for some reason nobody understands…”

    “That new girl,” BlackGaomon looked up at me. “She gives off the same kind of…aura that kid did twenty years ago.” I nodded slowly.

    “Vut does it mean?” Pheragas asked.

    “In all honesty, I don’t have the slightest idea,” I admitted. “From what I’ve seen, though, other Digimon are extremely agitated by the presence of someone like that, and they’re able to convince Humans of the same thing.”

    “I wasn’t disturbed,” BlackGaomon said. “I mean, I noticed, but it doesn’t bother me. SlashAngemon and Dianamon also don’t seem to mind her.”

    “Do you tink she knows?” Pheragas asked. “Do you tink she knows dat she makes you veel dis vay?”

    “…The way she acted when we spoke; she was very timid and quiet. She kept her distance from me, almost as though she were afraid I would attack her,” I said. “Yes…I believe she knows.”

    “If she was afraid you would’ve hurt her, then she must’ve really wanted to join us,” BlackGaomon said.

    “She wants to find her sister,” I said. “When she was telling me about her situation, she had this look in her eyes…It was the most intense look of determination I had ever seen; I just couldn’t say no to that.”

    “If people like dat ah as mistreated as you say day ah…” Pheragas sighed. “She must ‘ave ‘ad a rough childhood…”

    “As disturbed as those Digimon were twenty years ago, I can’t imagine them acting differently with her,” I said. “Based on her attire, she seems to be from the desert region…like John was. She must have had to deal with a lot…”

    “We can’t allow history to repeat itself,” BlackGaomon said. “Nobody should have to experience what John did…”

    “We’ll keep her safe,” I said firmly. “We cannot allow the fate that befell John to happen to Zelda. We will protect her.”

    “Understood,” BlackGaomon and Pheragas said. The pair turned to leave just as Dianamon came running into the room, out of breath.

    “What’s the matter, Dianamon?” I asked.

    “We have…visitors…” she said between breaths. “They…they’re knights.” A dead, awkward silence filled the room.

    “Vut do dey vant?” Pheragas asked, his tone dark and serious.

    “If they’ve come to pick a fight, then they’ve—”

    “Peace, BlackGaomon,” I interrupted. “Let’s go see what they want.” The four of us left my room and headed for the lounge, where we found two knights standing, waiting patiently near the front entrance of the fortress. As we approached them, I noticed the other members of Lachesis sitting in the lounge as far away from them as possible from the entrance; Pheragas, BlackGaomon, and Dianamon had gone to join them. “The two of you wanted to see me?” I asked, trying my best to sound calm and unaggressive.

    “Yes; please, forgive us for interrupting you from you busy schedule,” the younger of the two knights said. He had bright blond hair, was donned in golden armor with a blue cape, and armed with a giant, two-handed sword. His sharp eyes were a piercing green. The man next to him was taller, and dressed in a heavy, black armor. His hair was dark brown, as were his eyes, and he was armed with a thick, but rather short, lance.

    “You two…are Valencian Knights, aren’t you?” I asked. The man nodded. “What are your names?”

    “Oh, please forgive my rudeness; my name is Saias, and I’m a Knight Commander in the Valencian Military, and this is my subordinate, Lector.” The older-looking man bowed slightly. “I understand…us knights aren’t exactly welcome here at Lachesis, Sir Apollomon, so please forgive me for—”
    “No need to apologize,” I said quickly. “If you’d like, you may come in and sit down while you tell us what it is you want.” I led the two knights into the lounge, ignoring the glares I received from the other members of Lachesis as the two knights sat on a couch facing me.


    Thomas Kasuto

    “So…what should we do tomorrow?” Statuedramon asked. The two of us had been lying on our backs, staring up at the ceiling of my bedroom for the past few minutes and trying to get to sleep, to no avail.

    “I don’t know,” I said. “Let’s just see what happens tomorrow, and we can decide from there…” I sat up and looked around my room; as with nearly every part of the castle, the room was gray and made of stone and brick. For a bedroom, it was surprisingly large, and quite spacious. There wasn’t much furniture in the room, with the bed I lay on and the armchair Statch sat in being the only pieces. In the corner of the room was a tall lamp that served as the room’s only source of light, and across from the bed I sat on was a window.

    “Think we should go do another job right away?” As I was about to answer, there came a knock on my door.

    “Come in!” The large wooden door, worn out with age, creaked open, allowing Zelda to enter my room. “Oh, hello…is there anything I can help you with?”

    “Thomas…I just wanted to thank you both again for letting me come with you, and for letting me join your guild,” Zelda said. “It…means a lot to me, having friends like the two of you.”

    “Think nothing of it; you helped us, so we helped you,” Statuedramon said. “That’s what friends are for, right?”

    “…Yes,” Zelda smiled, and as she reached into her satchel, she pulled something out. “I’d like you to have this necklace, Thomas; it was given to me by my sister, Hannah. All this time I’ve spent away from her, I've let myself believe that it protected me from harm, just as she used to do. Now, I would like to believe that it could protect you, too.”

    “Zelda…” I held out my hand and took the necklace; it had a small blue pendant, lined with gold, and was attached to a leather string, thin but sturdy. “Are you certain?”

    “I insist.”

    “…Thank you. I promise I’ll take really good care of it.” I looked at the clear, crystalline gem at its center, which was glossy and polished enough to reflect my brown eyes. She’s giving me something this…this important to her…She must really trust me to give me something like this…I securely clasped the pendant in my hand as I continued looking into its center.

    “How are you enjoying your stay here so far?” Statch asked.

    “Oh, it’s wonderful! It’s like I finally have a home!” Zelda exclaimed. “Say…everyone here seems to have a nickname. What are the two of yours?”

    “I’m the ‘Assassin,’” I replied. “I sneak up and slit the enemy’s throats from behind. Of course, sometimes, that won’t always work, so I have to fight head on like we did with Etemon.”

    “I’m the…the…” Statuedramon hesitated, and muttered something under his breath.

    “What was that?”

    “I’m the ‘Fool,’ okay?! There, I said it!” The dragon’s face flushed an enraged crimson. “Shut up, Thomas!”

    “I didn’t say anything…”

    “You were thinking it!”

    “…You know me too well, Statuedramon.” I smirked. “The ‘Fool.’”

    “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGH HH! HOW DID I EVEN GET THAT NAME IN THE FIRST PLACE?! HOW DOES IT EVEN RELATE TO WHAT I DO?! DO I LOOK LIKE A FUCKING JESTER?! DO I?!”

    “It’s a mystery to me,” I said in a sarcastic tone of voice that made Zelda giggle. “So, Zelda, what does your sister look like?”

    “My sister? Oh…”

    “I’d like to help you look for her, if I can. It’s the least I could do for you.”

    “Oh…well…when we were growing up in Adonis Village…people would often say that we looked a lot alike,” Zelda said. “She’s so much prettier than I am, but I guess that isn’t saying very much, is it…”

    “What do you mean?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Well, I…I’m not very pretty…” She spoke quietly, but I was able to understand what she said.

    “What are you talking about? Zelda, you’re beautiful,” I said. Instantly, her cheeks flushed deep scarlet.

    “W—What? N—No, I…I’m not!” She placed her hands over her cheeks, and nervously looked at the two of us. “I…I’m ugly…”

    “No you’re not,” I said.

    “N—No…Really, I…I’m the farthest thing from being beautiful,” Zelda whimpered. “That’s what my mother always used to tell me, anyway, before she was—”

    “Well, your mom was wrong,” I interrupted.

    “Thomas, ah you in your room?” Pheragas’s loud, booming voice echoed from behind my closed door. The door to my room swung open even further as the large man walked in, accompanied by BlackGaomon.

    “Pheragas, why can’t you ever knock?” Statuedramon asked.

    “De last time I knocked on a door, I broke it,” Pheragas said. “You all need to come down.”

    “Why? What’s going on?” I asked.

    “We have company,” BlackGaomon said, cracking his knuckles. “Very…unwelcome company.”

    “You mean—”

    “The knights have come,” I said, finishing Statuedramon’s thought. Pheragas nodded. The large man had a dark look in his eyes.

    “Please, come vith me.” The large man and his Digimon left my room.

    Came on a little too strong back there, pal,” Statch whispered as soon as Zelda left my room.

    Give me a break, that was my first time,” I replied. The Rookie laughed, and slapped my back as we both left my room, where we found Zelda waiting for us outside. As we went downstairs, I carefully place the necklace Zelda gave me into my coat pocket.

    “What’s going on?” Zelda whispered to me.

    “I don’t really know, but stay close,” I answered. “I don’t know why the knights have come here, but if my theory is right…Just stay close. Please.” The three of us walked into the lounge room, where we joined every other member of the guild in the kitchen, save for Apollomon. “Dianamon, what’s going on?”

    “Those two are knights,” Dianamon said, carefully observing the two men Apollomon spoke to. “The smaller one is Saias, a Knight Commander in the Valencian Military, and the other one is his subordinate, Lector. That’s about all I know…”

    “Can you believe these two?!” Garret scoffed when he noticed us. Jerking his thumb over to the couches where Apollomon and two other men sat, he muttered, “That damn knight; who the hell does that bastard think he is, waltzing in here with his crony like he owns everything in Arcadia? I’d like to shove my axes right up his—”

    “Please, do us all a vavor and do not attack dem,” Pheragas sighed. “Dese two knights…dey are quite different from de oder knights ‘oo ve have previously encountered.”

    “—and then, when it turns purple, I’d tear it right off!” Garret finished, completely ignoring Pheragas. “Wait…what? What do you mean, different?! ALL of those bastards are the same; no matter what, they can’t be trusted!”

    “Yeah, I’m sorry, Pheragas, but afraid I’m going to have to agree with Garret on this,” BlackGaomon said. “I won’t lose my temper and attack them or anything, but…I just can’t agree with you on that.” Pheragas stared down at his Digimon, neither angry nor annoyed.

    “Chrissy will never forgive the Valencian Knights; not after what they did to Adrian…” I looked over and saw Chrysania’s small body trembling as Luna walked up behind her and placed a comforting hand on her tiny shoulder.

    Five years I’ve known her, and not once have I ever seen her not smiling…

    “Yeah, that’s another reason we ought to beat the living hell out of them; they need to answer for what they did to Adrian!” Garret said, raising his voice.

    “Ve’ve no proof dat ‘e’s dead, just dat dey took ‘im avay,” Pheragas said.

    “Well, even still, they took one of our members, so I say we take one of theirs!” Statuedramon said.

    “If we did that, then we’d be no better than them,” I said.

    “Thomas, how can you—”

    “Will you all shut up so I can hear what they’re saying?!” SlashAngemon asked, carefully observing Apollomon and the two knights. Standing behind him was Irene, hiding her face in between his wings while trying to make herself look as small and unnoticeable as possible, though every now and then, I would see her poke her head around SlashAngemon’s arm to see what was happening.

    “So, the only reason you two were sent was because it was your turn?” Apollomon asked. Grinning, he asked, “Is our guild really so troublesome that you need to strategize over who gets to slap us on the wrist next?”

    “No, nothing like that at all,” Saias said, sounding as if he were trying not to laugh. “If it were up to Lector and me, no harm would come to you or your group, Sir Apollomon. The two of us have no problem with what you do here, and we in no way support the previous and future actions of our comrades towards you.”

    “We understand that you have no reason to either trust or believe us, but it is the truth,” Lector said.

    “I…believe what you say,” Apollomon said.

    “Damn it, what the hell is the old bastard thinking?! We can’t trust those two!” Garret whispered.

    “You have my gratitude, sir,” Saias said. “Now, about that matter we discussed earlier…”

    “Oh, yes; Thomas, Statuedramon, get over here!” Apollomon hollered. “Oh, and…you as well, Zelda!” The three of us were given looks of concern by our fellow members as we walked over to Apollomon in the lounge room.

    Well, this certainly bodes ill…

    “These two have a job for us,” Apollomon said.
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  8. #18
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 14 - Their Request

    Statuedramon
    Lachesis Fortress

    “These two have a job for us.” Apollomon’s words echoed softly through the large room and were followed by an unsettling silence. We sat on the couch, next to Apollomon, while the two knights sat across from us. For what felt like the longest time, nobody said anything, and during that time, Apollomon stared firmly at the three of us, though in a way that made it seem like he was staring only at me, as if waiting for me to snap, to say something wrong, or simply mess up in any way possible…which was, unfortunately, something I had a tendency to do. Meanwhile, the two knights, Saias and Lector, were sitting on the couch across from us, waiting patiently; they did not fidget, nor did they even glance up at us expectantly for our reply. “Is there a problem?” The question caught me by surprise and shattered the awkward silence of the room.

    Great…just fucking great! I thought. Boss is probably going to force us to do this job…

    “No, sir, there is no problem,” Thomas said. “It’s just…well, given the circumstances, I was caught off guard by their…sudden visit.”

    “Yes, well, one thing has nothing to do with the other,” Apollomon said.

    It has everything to do with it! I thought. It took nearly every ounce of self-control to keep myself from screaming the thought at Apollomon. He can’t honestly expect us to help a few knights out after everything they’ve done to us…does he? No…at the very least, there’s no way Thomas would even consider helping these people out…

    “…They came here, fully armed, and covered head to toe in armor,” Thomas said. “I believe I at least have the right to question that much, Apollomon.”

    “We are currently on duty, good sir,” Saias said calmly. “Our visit is not one that was an order to us, meaning we are not allowed to be here presently. If our commanding officers found out about this, we could very well be executed for treason.”

    “Simply for disobeying orders?” Thomas asked. “That’s a little extreme, wouldn’t you say?”

    This coming from the ‘Assassin?’” Apollomon laughed.

    “Sadly, yes…but, this is the way of the knight,” Saias smiled sadly.

    “…So, what job do they have for us?” Thomas asked, looking directly at Apollomon.

    “They want you to find someone for them,” Apollomon said. “Do you…wish to accept this job?” Thomas sat, staring at Apollomon, and then at the two knights.
    He’s not going to…I mean, there’s no way that he’d actually want to help these people…right?

    “We understand that you and everyone else here have had a troubling history with knights like us, and if you don’t feel comfortable taking a job request from us, we will not force you to,” Saias said calmly. “We can always go somewhere else if we are being an inconvenience—”

    “No, that will not be necessary.” Apollomon turned to look at us, though it seemed he was staring most intently at me once more. “Thomas will do it…I chose him because I know he would not ever bias a client.” I looked up at Thomas, whose face was without any emotion, as was to be expected of him.

    “If we are to do this job,” Thomas began, taking a deep breath. “I will need to know more about it.”

    “Yes, of course, Sir,” Saias said. “We will tell you all we know about where we think—”

    “Not that,” Thomas interrupted. “Why are we searching for this person? Why do you need him or her to be found?”

    “Wait, you’re not actually going to do it, are you?!” I blurted out unintentionally. I jumped off the couch and looked Apollomon straight in the eyes. “What if this is some kind of a trap?! These two are knights, in case you’ve forgotten! There’s no way we can trust them!”

    “You needn’t worry. They know what would happen to them if this was a trap,” Apollomon said, speaking calmly. “They know full well that if anything happens to the three of you on this job because of them, they would spend each day trembling in the shadow of our guild for the rest of their lives.” As Apollomon spoke, I looked at the expressions on the faces of the knights and saw not the smallest sign of fear, anger, or worry.

    They don’t seem to be concerned. Either they are telling the truth and this really is a job for us, or they aren’t afraid of us…Arrogant bastards probably think they can take us all on with just the two of them. Well, I won’t let that—

    “I apologize for the interruption. Now, what are you able to tell us about this person?” Apollomon asked.

    “The person we need you to find is a man named Ienzo; he has short brown hair, he’s slightly shorter than me, and he’s a rather thin man, being a non-combatant,” Saias said. “He used to be a scientist working for the military, but he left about four years ago, without any warning; and now, one of our commanding officers wants him to be found.”

    “We’d go ourselves, but the two of us specifically weren’t given any orders to find him,” Lector continued. “We don’t have any idea what he worked on before he left, but we can only assume that whatever it was caused him to leave. The higher ups all seem to be pretty angry that he left, so I can only imagine what the knights they’ve deployed to find him have been ordered to do to him once they’ve found him.”

    “So, you need us to find him before the other knights do,” Thomas said.

    “Correct; and, if possible, bring him back with you,” Saias said. “If he refuses to come back with you, do not force him to do so.”

    “So, what do you think?” Apollomon asked. “You will do it…won’t you?”

    “…I’ll do it,” Thomas said. He looked over his shoulder at Zelda and me. “What about you? Will you go with me?”

    “Of course I’ll go with you,” Zelda smiled. The two turned to look at me expectantly.

    Great; if I say no, I’ll look like an even bigger jackass than Garret… “I’ll…go with you,” I said reluctantly. “But only so I can bail you two out when you finally figure out it’s a trap! It’s not like I believe what these knights have to say or anything!”

    “Well, whatever the reason, we appreciate your cooperation,” Saias said. “Now, we’ve heard a few rumors saying that Ienzo is living somewhere in Lotisea, presumably in an old or abandoned house; Ienzo wasn’t exactly the kind of person to enjoy the company of others, save for the most beautiful of women. In fact, for the first few months he was gone, there were rumors that he left us solely because there was nobody who fit his standards where he worked.”

    “I’ve heard him ramble on and on for hours one time about this one girl he saw just passing by on his way to work,” Lector said.

    “He’s been gone for four years, right?” Zelda asked.

    “Well, give or take a few months, that’s about how long he’s been gone,” Lector said.

    “If he’s been gone for that long, then why have you all been ordered to look for him all of a sudden?” Zelda asked.

    “It has recently come to light that he made off with some…rather important information,” Saias said. “Whether it was something he simply knows or something that was written down on paper has still not been made clear to us. The only order that was given was for the deployed knights to find him as soon as possible. I’ve tried asking my superiors more about the situation, but they refuse to speak on the matter.”

    “Where’s he supposedly hiding?” Thomas asked. “Surely, they’ve given a more specific area to search than just the entire province of Lotisea.”

    “Lector, hand me the map, please,” Saias said. The older knight obeyed, reaching into a small bag at his side and pulling out a small map, which he handed to his superior.

    “Let’s see…this fortress is about right here,” Saias gently lay the old map onto the floor, and placed his finger on the point on the map where Lachesis stood. “The rumors we heard said he lives slightly to the east of here, but past the border of Lotisea, and near Ambrosia River.”

    “Looks like he’s about an hour away,” Apollomon said.

    “Good; this shouldn’t take too long, then,” Thomas said as he and Zelda stood up, and I, reluctantly, began following them toward the fort’s entrance.

    “Wait, you’re leaving already?” Saias asked.

    “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can place that man into your protective custody,” Thomas said. “Was there…anything else you needed to tell us?”

    “Well…in a manner of speaking,” Saias said nervously. “In addition to the rumors we heard about Ienzo, we also heard a few other unsettling rumors of an incredibly powerful and vicious Digimon nearby.”

    “A powerful Digimon? How strong is it?” Thomas smirked.

    …I know that look in his eyes. I’ve seen Thomas come out on top in fights with some really strong Digimon before, other than Apollomon and Dianamon. He wants to find that Digimon…

    “Like Saias said, this is all rumors, so there’s no way of telling for sure if he’s real or not. All the same, he’s a Digimon you want to be on the lookout for,” Lector said.

    “We have no name for him, nor do we even know what he looks like,” Saias said. “All we know is that he uses fire attacks far too powerful for his level, and he’s capable of killing Mega Digimon in only a few attacks at most. This Digimon…he is an enemy to Humans and Digimon alike.”

    “Well…Just another reason we need to finish this job as soon as possible,” Thomas said. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”
    I hope I don’t regret this… I sighed wearily as I followed Thomas and Zelda out of the fort. Both those knights, and a deadly, killer Digimon on the loose…how could life get any worse than this?!


    Apollomon

    “Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do for you two?” I asked. The entire thirty minutes Thomas, Zelda, and Statuedramon had been gone, the two knights and I hadn’t done so much as speak; rather, we sat facing each other, doing little more than breathe.

    “You have been most generous by allowing us to remain here while those three search for Ienzo; it would be remiss of us to impose further upon you,” Saias said. I sighed and looked over my shoulder to my left. The other members of Lachesis were standing as far away as possible from us, though each and every one of them was glaring at the two knights.

    “You don’t need to stand so far away,” I said. “They aren’t going to hurt you. Come on; join us!” My comrades gave each other nervous glances, but finally, they relented. Dianamon, Pheragas and BlackGaomon were the first to approach us, though they stopped and sat down at a table about ten feet away from us.

    “If our presence is troubling to you, you needn’t come closer if you do not wish to do so,” Saias said. Pheragas didn’t answer him and continued carefully observing the two knights with BlackGaomon. Gradually, with my encouragement, the other members inched their way closer and closer to us when the sound of a person falling and landing on the stone floor caught their attention.

    “Did you fall again, Chrysania?” I asked.

    “No! I mean, yes! I mean...” Chrysania picked herself up off the ground, brushing the dust off her clothes as she did so.

    “Are you okay, sweetie?” Luna asked.

    “Chrissy’s okay…she falls all the time, so she’s used to it…” Chrysania tightly grabbed on to Luna’s hand, placing her foster mother between her and the two knights.

    “Don’t worry, Chrissy,” Luna said in a barely audible whisper. She pulled Chrysania into a tight hug and began gently stroking the back of the young girl’s hair. “Mommy’s not going to let those two come anywhere near mommy’s little angel.” After a few moments, I glanced back at everyone, seeing that, while they had gotten closer, they all crowded behind Pheragas and Dianamon, both of whom still sat at the table. In fact, the only two who didn’t come any closer were Garret and MetalEtemon. I sighed and looked over at the two knights.

    “Please, excuse me for a moment.” I stood up and walked over to Garret. “Is there a problem?”

    “Yeah, actually, there is a problem,” Garret said. “I don’t like knights.”

    “Yes, I know, nobody here likes Valencian Knights. Everyone here has a reason to hate them,” I sighed. “These two are different, though; can’t you tell?”

    “I’m sorry, sir, but I cannot agree with you,” Garret said. “In my book, all knights are the same!”

    “I’m surprised you can read that book.”

    “…In all honesty, I believe you’ve made a terrible decision, letting those kids go alone to do that so-called ‘job’ of theirs.”

    “I know, Garret, but I—”

    “You weren’t there!” Garret yelled. “You weren’t there when Adrian was taken away! You didn’t see those knights drag his body away! I was the only one who was there! Not you, not even MetalEtemon! I’m the only one who has to live with the guilt of not having been able to do anything to save him, so don’t tell me how I ought to feel about those two! Come on, MetalEtemon; let’s go!” Garret stormed out of the room in a huff, walking towards the fort’s entrance.

    “Apologies, Sir Apollomon,” MetalEtemon said before following after his Human partner.

    The Valencian Knights…I know our actions towards them is unjust, but their retribution is worse still. And our group would not even need to do what it does if they would all simply do their job right! I walked back to the lounge, rejoining Saias and Lector. And these two…why are they so different from the other knights we’ve seen? They’re so earnest and intelligent, and they don’t reek of alcohol…
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  9. #19
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 15 - The Man in the Forest

    Thomas Kasuto
    Lotisea Province
    30 Minutes

    The forest of Lotisea Province was nothing more than a sea of trees so vast and so deep, it is said that one would have to spend over a thousand lifetimes trying to find one specific tree within the entire forest…which, of course, was the only thing Lotisea consisted of. Just a forest. No cities, no roads, nothing. It is because of this that few Humans have set foot in Lotisea, or even considered doing so. Add to that the unbearable humidity and a certain rumor that claimed that, should anyone, good, evil, or indifferent, enter the wrong part of the forest, they would be doomed to wander the forest forever until death’s sweet embrace relieves them of their weariness. This was, however, only what the average citizen was aware of. At the farthest corner of the forest was an old city, one that Statuedramon and I visited nearly two years ago, with a temple that worshiped an ancient Digimon known as Deckerdramon.

    “It’s getting dark,” I said. “If we don’t hurry, it’ll be difficult for us to find our way back to the fort.”

    “We’ve been walking the same direction; we haven’t turned or anything,” Zelda said. “It shouldn’t be too difficult to find the fort; the only thing we’ll have to watch out for is the roots of these trees.”

    “Do either of you think the rumor about this place is true?” Statuedramon asked. “You know…the one about how if we get lost, we’ll be here forever? And how the trees move around to make it impossible to escape this place?”

    “Statch, we’ve been to this forest dozens of times, and nothing has happened to us. So, nothing will happen to us,” I replied.

    “Yeah, but we’ve never been here at night,” Statuedramon said. “What if all those things happen at night?”

    “You have never been here at night because every time we’ve been here, you’ve fallen asleep before sundown, forcing me to carry you to wherever it is we’re going.”

    “But…couldn’t we have done this tomorrow?” Statuedramon griped. “It’s getting cold, I’m getting hungry again, and I can barely see my hand in front of my face!”

    “Well, Statuedramon, maybe you should try raising your arm so that your hand actually is in front of your face before you say that,” I suggested.

    “…Oh, that’s better.”

    “And there isn’t any way we could’ve waited until tomorrow to find him,” I added. “This man’s life is potentially in danger, and it’s our job to ensure he stays alive.”

    “Well, yeah, but…he’s a knight!”

    “Not anymore; he left them, remember? And that’s why they all want him dead,” I said. “Well, everyone except for Saias and Lector.”

    “Well, even if he isn’t one anymore, he still used to be one, so I don’t think he deserves our protection!” Statch insisted. “He deserves to have his life at risk!”

    “It doesn’t matter if he deserves our protection or not; it is our job to do so,” I said. “Such is the life of a mercenary.”

    “Um…Thomas? Could you tell me why our guild doesn’t like knights?” Zelda asked.

    “…Yeah. I guess you deserve to know, since you’re new,” I replied. “It isn’t just knights hailing from Valencia. Our grudge extends to knights from all five of Celosia’s territories; Valencia, Shendu, Elphierr, Valneva, and Cherifia. Surely, Zelda, you are at least aware of the pompous, lazy, and arrogant behavior of knights from these territories.”

    “I am. It is common knowledge, even in the desert,” Zelda said sadly. “I experienced it first-hand during my travels, long before I met the two of you.”

    “Because they’re so lazy, it makes it easier for the bandits to run amok in poor, unsuspecting villages,” Statuedramon said. “Because the people have no way of defending themselves, they send in help or job requests for the knights to do. But, of course, they only take the high-paying ones, and when they actually go and do their damn job like they’re supposed to, they make an even bigger mess of things, killing even more people than the bandits have!”

    “And…that’s why they hate your group?” Zelda asked. “I don’t understand…”

    “We steal the jobs of the knights from the Valencian capital city of Yew. That’s why Statch and I were hesitant about going through that city on our way back from Linnea,” I replied. “We take their jobs…their source of income. And then, we do a good job of fixing things, leaving the citizens we protect feeling indebted to us. Not only does this take away the knights’ money, but it also takes away their reputation as being the only source of protection these people have.”

    “…I have never heard such a well-justified reason for stealing in my entire life,” Zelda giggled.

    “Yeah, our group’s awesome like that,” Statch agreed.

    “We are all constantly aware that they could retaliate at any moment, and with their larger numbers, they could easily defeat us. If that were to ever happen…I have no doubts about…about some of the things they would do to Irene, Luna, and Chrysania…or you.” I found that the last two words were choked out with some slight difficulty. I wasn’t quite sure why, though.

    “…Don’t worry, buddy. There’s no way we’d lose with Apollomon and Dianamon on our side,” Statuedramon said quietly. “And also, the two of us! And Pheragas could just tear a tree out of the ground and kill, like, thirty of them at a time!”

    “The only reason we have yet to directly confront the knights…well, I suppose there are several reasons…They have us outnumbered quite severely,” I said. “But the main reason…the knights are working directly for the royalty of each of the five territories; the king of Cherifia, the empresses of Shendu and Elphierr, the queen of Valencia, and the Tsar of Valneva, all of whom seem to be unaware of the incompetency of their knights. If we were to make any of them truly angry…it could very well be the end. Not just for our guild, but…”

    “…For the rest of Arcadia,” Zelda finished, speaking quietly.

    “We are always especially careful not to provoke any of them too much,” I said. “That means no murdering, Statch.”

    “What’re you lookin’ at me for?!”

    “That’s what you’re thinking about right now, isn’t it?”

    “Nu-uh!”

    “Then tell me what you are thinking about!”

    “…Uh…Sandwiches?”

    “Nice try.”

    “Pizza?”

    “You had your chance.”

    “Thomas! C’mon! Just let me kill them a little bit! They’ll be fine in the morning!”

    “Thomas, I think I see something,” Zelda said, pointing off into the distance. It was difficult to see, but I could barely make out the form of what seemed to be a small cottage built in between two large and sturdy trees.

    “Well, this had better be his house!” Statuedramon said, walking up to the house and slamming his fist on the door angrily. To his surprise, the door opened as soon as he touched it.

    “Please, come in…” A voice from behind the door said.

    I walked into the house first, my hand wrapped tightly around the hilt of my blade. The inside of the house was almost completely dark, and what little of the house’s floor I could see was covered with papers and books that appeared to have been unceremoniously tossed there.

    “Tell me…who are you?” the voice asked.

    “If you don’t know, why’d you tell us to come in?!” Statuedramon asked.

    “Are you Ienzo?” I asked.

    “If you’re here to take me with you, then you should just turn back now, because I will not go back there…”

    “We aren’t with the military, Ienzo, but we were sent by two knights named Saias and Lector.” For a few moments, there was no sound except for the breathing of the man I spoke to.

    “So…Saias wants to find me, huh?”

    “He wants to place you in protective custody; Lector and Saias both want to protect you from the other knights,” I said. Instantly, the lights in the house came on, revealing that we stood in what seemed to be the only room in the house. All over the rest of the floor were papers, books, and clothes, many of which were covered in a fine layer of dust. The only furniture in sight was a bed with even more clothes on it and wooden table with a single chair in front of it. On the other side of the room was the man I spoke to.

    “Sorry about the mess; I’ve been here ‘bout four years, haven’t cleaned up once…” he said, walking over to us.

    “Are you Ienzo?” Statuedramon asked.

    “I should hope that would be obvious by now, Statuedramon,” I said, though I doubt he heard me.

    “Yes, I—oh, my god!” Ienzo gasped and stared intently at Zelda. “My god, you…you’re so…so beautiful! Oh, it’s been far too long since I’ve seen such exquisite beauty! Please, my angel; tell me your name!”

    “I—my name is Zelda,” she said quietly. Blushing furiously, she lowered her head to the ground. “Really…I’m not that—”

    “Zelda…ah, yes, a beautiful name perfectly befitting the beauty of its owner! Yes, it is truly—”

    “Damn it, are you Ienzo or not?!” Statuedramon shouted.

    “Wha–? Oh, yes, pardon me; I am Ienzo,” Ienzo said.

    “I see you’re exactly as Saias described you,” I said.

    “Oh, really? What did they say? Surely, I must be more ruggedly handsome—”

    “No, not that,” I interrupted. “They told us you degenerate into a blathering idiot whenever you’re around beautiful women.”

    “…B…blathering?”

    “They hit the nail on the head with that description,” Statch added. “Actually, that’s the only description of you they gave us, other than what you look like.”

    “…Alas…my one true weakness has been uncovered,” Ienzo sighed. “Oh, but how could I resist that long golden hair? Or those eyes; those deep oceans of sapphire…Mmm…” Zelda took a step back so that she was hiding behind me. As Ienzo continued rambling, I felt an unfamiliar rage well up inside me.

    “Hey, is it true you stopped being a knight because there weren’t any beautiful women around?” Statch asked, interrupting Ienzo.

    “What?! Who the hell said that?!” Ienzo asked.

    “Nobody really said it; it was just a rumor,” I said.

    “Well, I’ll have you know that is not the case! The reason I left is a lot more complex than that!”

    “Well…I am unfamiliar with the behavior of knights towards their own, though I doubt they would treat you, a deserter, with kindness, considering what they do to our group merely out of envy and greed,” I said. “However, Saias and Lector wish to protect you; now, if you’ll please, come with us so we—”

    “No, thank you.” Ienzo yawned as he walked over to his table. “You’re right; if any other knight found me, it would take a miracle for me to stay alive. However...let’s just say that isn’t a miracle I’m exactly searching for…”

    “What do you mean?” Statuedramon asked.

    “If you’re here for me, then you must know what it was I did when I used to be a knight,” Ienzo sat down backward in the lone chair in the room, facing us.

    “We weren’t told,” I said. “Saias and Lector don’t know, either.”

    “When I used to work for the knights, I was a scientist,” Ienzo said. “To be a researcher like me among a group of battle-ready knights is quite unusual, rare even—among the lower ranking knights who didn’t know who I was, I was often demeaned, told I didn’t belong with them, but those of higher ranks, like Saias and Lector, they valued my skills, saying that combat strength wasn’t everything. That was probably the only thing we can both agree on, me and the higher-ups. Because they valued me so much, I did what they told me, no question. It made me feel as though I had a purpose in life, and because of that, I researched everything they told me to. What I researched claimed the lives of many innocents. Its name…quintessence.”

    “Quintessence?!” I stared at Ienzo; the look on his face told me he expected exactly this kind of surprised reaction.

    “That’s the stuff Devimon was looking for!” Statch said.

    “Sir…is it alright if we ask you what quintessence is?” Zelda peeked at the man around my shoulder.

    “Quintessence…is said to be the element that dwells inside every person, as his or her own life force. The more powerful the Human or Digimon, the more quintessence they have.” Ienzo looked me straight in the eyes. “The only way to harness quintessence, the life force of another living being…is through their death.”

    “Death…You mean you—”

    “When living things die, their quintessence is released and the power can be harnessed. When I was a knight…I did unfathomable experiments on living beings…Digimon, men, women, even children if they were strong enough. I did all of those cruel experiments without a second thought. It took the words of a brave friend of mine — dead now; he was killed trying to help me — to realize what I was doing.” Ienzo looked down at the cluttered floor. “I don’t know who or what wanted all that quintessence, though…you can be sure that, knowing all that I do about quintessence, whoever ordered me to be found wouldn’t want someone like me to leave — it could turn out pretty bad for them if that secret got out, you know?”

    “That’s why you need to come with us,” I said. “Saias and Lector want to protect you, and I’m sure they’d be able to!”

    “I know they could, and I have no doubts of the sincerity of those two,” Ienzo said. “But…to be honest, I’d rather not…the corrupt knights want me dead as much as I do.” All three of us stared at him. “Don’t look so surprised—you heard what I did, right? I’m a murderer; I unhesitatingly killed countless men, women, and children, and even Digimon. I could never ask for forgiveness, and a painful death would be a small gesture at best…I’ve tried many times, but I was too much of a coward to actually do it. I can’t sleep anymore, remembering their screams; I just want it all to end!”

    “…Very well.” I turned away, opening the door to Ienzo’s house to leave.

    “Thomas…we’re not going to leave him behind, are we?” Zelda asked.

    “After all the time we spent looking for him, we’re just going to leave him here?” Statch moaned. “You’re mean!”

    “We don’t have any choice; it’s obvious he doesn’t want the protection he’s been offered,” I said, and then turned back to face Ienzo. “We will be back, Ienzo, if our clients desire it, but for now, we shall leave you be.”
    “…I understand,” Ienzo said, giving a sad smile as the three of us left.

    Lachesis Fortress

    1 Hour
    It was completely pitch-black outside by the time we made it back to the fortress. As we walked into the fort, we found that most of the guild members had already left the fort. Apollomon, Saias, and Lector were sitting in the same spots they were in when we left. Saias stood up as we entered the lounge, looking at us expectantly.

    “We weren’t able to get him to come with us,” I said. “We could have easily forced him to come, though, given that you wished to protect him, I had doubts about hurting him to bring him back with us.”

    “I see,” Saias said. “That is quite unfortunate, though I am glad he is still alive. Thank you for going.”

    “I’m impressed you were actually able to find him in that short amount of time,” Lector said.

    “There is…something else I need to tell you,” I said. “It has to do with what Ienzo was doing. I think it would be best if you knew.”

    “You know, we were never actually told about what he was researching,” Lector said.

    “This is true,” Saias murmured. “Very well; tell us what it is he did.” Saias sat back down, and Zelda and I sat next to Apollomon, while Statuedramon went to the kitchen as Zelda and I proceeded to tell them what we were told about quintessence.

    “…and that’s all Ienzo told us about what he had been doing,” I said. Saias and Lector, even Apollomon, were blankly staring at the two of us.

    “I can’t believe…Ienzo would do something like that,” Lector said after a long silence.

    “You mean to tell me that something like this has been going on for years by the Valencian military, and not one person has noticed?!” Saias asked. I nodded.

    “I feel kind of stupid now…” Lector said.

    “How could…how could something like that be allowed to go on for as long as it has? How could something like that be done by us knights, who are sworn to protect the citizens of Arcadia?!” Saias shouted.

    “You two…really didn’t know anything about this?” Apollomon asked.

    “If we did, you can bet that it wouldn’t be going on anymore!” Lector said.

    “Hmm…I have a feeling that may have been why we were never informed…” Saias said. “We only wanted to find Ienzo because we knew he left with some sort of important information…We knew that, knowing a secret like that, if he didn’t choose to go back, he would most certainly be killed. But we never imagined that the secret would be something so…terrible…”

    “What are you two going to do now?” Apollomon asked.

    “You have been most generous, and we have taken up enough of your time, Sir Apollomon,” Saias said. The two knights stood up and walked toward the exit. “We’ll be heading back to Yew.”

    “If you two ever need to speak with us again, please know that you are always welcome here,” Apollomon said, walking over to the two knights. “Don’t ever hesitate to contact us if you feel the need.”

    “…Thank you, Apollomon.” Saias shook Apollomon’s hand, and after smiling at Apollomon, he and Lector both left the fortress, the echoing sounds of their footsteps gradually decreasing in volume as they both vanished from sight.
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

  10. #20
    Red shirt IamTheSovereign's Avatar
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    Chapter 16 - Another Caller of Spirits

    Thomas Kasuto
    Lachesis Fortress

    It has now been two days since Saias and Lector left, and it was easy to see that most of the other members of Lachesis were relieved that they were no longer in the same building as a knight, even after so much time had passed. Everyone was smiling and seemed more at ease; I even caught Irene smiling once or twice, if only for a brief moment each time.

    “I sure am glad all of that crap is over with,” Statuedramon said. “I never want to see another knight again as long as I live!” The two of us were sitting at a table in the fort’s lounge, eating lunch. Luna, Chrysania, and SlashAngemon, who were sitting at the table with us, nodded their heads in agreement.

    “I still can’t believe the three of you actually did that job,” Luna said.

    “It’s what we do, is it not?” I asked. “Protect the innocent and all that?”

    “It just seems rather…contradictory,” SlashAngemon said. “Our guild exists to correct the mistakes the knights have made, not to help them make a bigger one.”

    “Who says they’re making a mess of things right now? What if they simply wish to protect this man?”

    “Yeah? Well, what if he’s, like, a serial killer or something, and they’re helping him hide?” Statch asked. “If they are helping him hide, then we’d be helping them hide some anthrax-infested serial rapist from the future! Ever think of that?!”

    “…From the future?” SlashAngemon stared at the Rookie Digimon.

    “Quite an imagination you’ve got there, love,” Luna said. The young sorceress slowly moved her tongue across her red lips. “I like!”

    “But it could happen!”

    “Perhaps, but such reasoning is arbitrary; they had a job for us to do, so it was done. Nothing else matters,” I said.

    “Look, Thomas, I understand what you’re saying; really, I do,” SlashAngemon said. “I just don’t think it was a good idea, helping them out. Do you realize the three of you could have potentially been killed that night?”

    “Do you think it was an easy decision for me to help them out? Do you think it was easy for me to help the kind of people who hurt my mother?!”

    “If the knights hurt someone important to you, why did you aid those two?” Luna asked.

    “Because that is what makes us different from them! We help those in need, while the knights laugh in their faces, and condemn the victims of bandit raids for bringing such tragedies upon themselves when they had nothing to do with it! We prevent such tragedies from occurring in the first place. Those two that I helped…they weren’t like the other knights all of us have encountered at some point in our lives. They were honest, hardworking individuals who truly cared about protecting the innocent. Do you think Apollomon would have wanted any of us to help them if they really were like the other knights?!”

    “Thomas is correct.” SlashAngemon looked over his shoulder and saw Pheragas towering over him. “Apollomon vould not ‘ave agreed to ‘elp dem had dey been like oder knights. Or ah you ‘aving doubts toward our leader?”

    “Well…I suppose if you…put it that way…” SlashAngemon nervously looked away from the large man.

    “Thomas, Apollomon vants to speak vith you and Statuedramon,” Pheragas said. “‘e’s in ‘is room.”

    “Very well; thank you, Pheragas.” Statuedramon and I left the table and made our way to Apollomon’s room, where we found him and Zelda waiting patiently for us.

    “I found another job for the three of you while I was in Yew yesterday,” Apollomon said. “It’s from someone who used to live in a small town known as Mandrake.” Apollomon was holding a map of Arcadia for us to look at. “It’s just south of Yew — not even a mile — so in order to get there as fast as possible, you will need to go through that city,” he said. “The Ambrosia River separates our fort from this town, but according to Irene and SlashAngemon, the bridge closest to us has been destroyed — presumably by bandits — leaving the quickest way to be through Yew, unfortunately. It’s somewhat of a trek, but you should all make it back here before sundown.”

    “So, what’s going on there?” I asked.

    “Everyone from the town has been evacuated to Yew on account of a single Human,” Apollomon said. “This man is the only one left in the town, and the people of Mandrake Town wish him gone so they can return to their homes. Now, I don’t know what this Human is capable of, but if he was able to force the entire population of a single town, including all of the Digimon, to leave, then he must be extremely dangerous, so the three of you best be careful, understood? Regardless, do what you must so that he is no longer in Mandrake.”

    “Usual procedure, then?” Statuedramon asked. Apollomon nodded.

    “What’s the usual procedure?” Zelda asked.
    “If we are able to…we sneak up behind and kill him from behind. Just a typical assassination,” I replied.

    Outskirts of Mandrake Town

    Valencia Territory
    4 Hours

    Mandrake Town was an easy find after leaving Yew. As Apollomon said, it was less than a mile away, so it only took a few minutes for us to find it. It was a very small town; the entire settlement could be seen from the hill we stood atop, overlooking the town. The sun had fallen past its highest point in the sky, making several of the houses and buildings of Mandrake Town cast their shadows in our direction.

    How fortunate we are, I thought. These shadows should make it somewhat easier to maneuver. Perhaps we ought to wait a little longer before we advance?

    “Why would anybody want to live in a place like this?!” Statuedramon whispered. “This place is a dump!”

    “It’s pretty close to the Ambrosia River; plenty of fish and fresh water for him or her to live off of,” I said. “I guess whoever’s here just didn’t want to share it; in that regard, they could very well be a bandit.”

    “But there’s only one of him; most bandits are part of a group, not independent,” Zelda said.

    “Well, we’ll all find out when we kick that guy’s ass out of this town!” Statuedramon shouted rather loudly.

    “Wait; we ought to wait just a little bit longer. In about thirty minutes, the shadows cast by these buildings will be large enough for us…to…” Statuedramon, of course, had ignored me, and began running out from the cover provided by the shadows. “He is going to get us killed one of these days, Zelda…”

    Zelda laughed to herself as she and I began to run quietly after Statuedramon. Every now and then, I would see her looking off and away, and I knew that she was looking for her sister. We soon caught up to him, and I reached down and grabbed his arm, halting his run.

    “What the hell did you do that for?!” Statuedramon yelped. “I thought we needed to get rid of this bastard as soon as possible!”

    “Think about the situation, for a moment; we don’t know anything about our target, but it is logical to assume that if he was able to force out an entire town of Humans and Digimon, then he would be incredibly strong.” Statuedramon shut his mouth at this point.

    “So…what do you suggest we do?” he asked.

    “I’m not sure, but…we need to go about this as quietly as possible,” I said. “Since we don’t know how strong he is, we need to avoid separating.” I looked around the town for a moment, thinking. “In towns like these all across Arcadia, the focal point is usually in the center of the area, usually so as to be protected by the rest of the area, and such a focal point is usually where the town’s official or leader’s building can be found; that’s probably where we’ll find him.”

    “Why would he be found there?” Statuedramon asked.

    “Being in a place like a mayor’s office or something would give him a feeling of power, which is — psychologically speaking — what bandits thrive off of. That’s why they do what they do; so they can feel like they’re the ones in charge. It’s no different than being a schoolyard bully — other than the murdering, torching, and raping, of course.”

    “Wow…Thomas, you’re so smart!” Zelda said, eyes shining brightly.

    “Bandits are weird,” Statuedramon muttered as he and Zelda began following me once more, toward the center of Mandrake Town. “So, this guy was strong enough to scare even the Digimon of this town away?”

    “Mandrake isn’t a very large town; I can’t imagine there being too many, if any at all, large, powerful Digimon; probably nothing past the Champion level,” Zelda said.

    “Yeah, you’re probably right…” Statuedramon suddenly stopped walking to read a sign that bore the words “Mayor’s Office” in front of a rather large house. “Okay, I think this might be the Mayor’s Office, guys.”

    “Be on your guard, everyone,” I said, reaching for the doorknob of the house’s front door just as it opened, and out walked a large man. Shirtless and heavily muscular, with spiked-up orange hair, he was quite a daunting sight to behold.

    “…the hell’re you?” the man asked.

    “Are you the one who forced out everyone in this town?!” Statuedramon asked.

    “And what if I am?” the man asked, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “This is a damn good place to live; what the hell is so wrong with wanting it all for myself?! It’s not like I killed anybody to get what I wanted, right?”

    “What a weird bandit,” Statuedramon whispered.

    “…He’s been completely consumed by his own greed…” I said to myself.

    “And just what the hell is so wrong with a lone bandit being so greedy?! I don’t like other people, so I took it upon myself to force everyone else out!”

    “…I don’t suppose there’s any way we could convince you to leave Mandrake Town?” I asked.

    “Oh, please, why the hell would I want to leave?!” the man asked. “Tell me why I should, you little shit!”

    “Forget it; all you need to know is what my blade feels like inside your chest.” The man had begun to walk away, though he stopped as he heard the sound of my sword being removed from its scabbard as Statch removed his from his shield’s dimension.

    “We were ordered to force you out of this town any way possible,” Statuedramon said. “We cannot and will not hesitate to kill you if you refuse to do so.”

    “And how d’you plan on doin’ that, by talkin’ me to death?!”

    “Zelda, you should find somewhere to hide,” I said.

    “…Oh…Well…At least let me help you!” Zelda said timidly. “Come forth, Renamon!” Zelda held one of her talismans up to the sky as the form of Renamon appeared before her.

    “Ooh, you’ve got a Summoner with you, do you? Well, I’ve got a surprise for you.” The man reached into the pockets of his black pants and pulled out what appeared to be a talisman. “Come forth, Vajramon!” The bandit held his talisman up to the sky just as Zelda did, and the form of the Ultimate level Digimon Vajramon appeared before him. “Do be so kind as to eliminate these pests.”
    "Evil can confuse you when you're staring at it straight in the face. You can hope the face of evil will change, but it won't unless you force it to change."

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