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A Digimon Epic: The Gathering of Heroes (PG-13 Tentative)

Discussion in 'Non-Pokémon Stories' started by Tundra_Wolfmane, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Next one's up.


    Act 2: Between Foolishness and Bravery

    also known as

    It's...a pie.

    The following morning in the town of Bakhu found Tiwaz waking up to the sounds of the hollering of men, shouting for other workers to get up and ready for another day’s work. The grouchy dragon man stretched his muscles, emitting guttural sounds straight from his chest that would cause a lesser man to cringe. He grumbled and glared at the window from whence the shouting that woke him up earlier than he wanted was coming from.

    Next time, I’m getting a bed,’ Tiwaz thought to himself as he stood up, stretching his cramped muscles. The experience of sleeping on a couch that wasn’t quite as long as he was tall was not an entirely enjoyable experience. It didn’t help that he hadn’t really gotten any adequate sleep for the last two nights.

    Before Tiwaz could continue his silent griping, his thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of a pencil scratching on paper furiously. He turned his head to find the source of the sounds, and he was surprised to see Cog bowed over a desk, his hand sweeping over paper faster than the Wisemon could devour a peach slice.

    Just as he was about to call the attention of the cloaked digimon, his own stomach growled loudly, and Cogwej turned to look over his shoulder.

    “Ah! Teewee!” the Wisemon called, standing up and instantly causing the EmperorGreymon to frown. “What a wonderful morning, is it not? You woke up just in time to-“

    “I’m going to get some breakfast,” Tiwaz interrupted, grabbing the Dragon Soul Sword and placing it in its place on his back. He didn’t have it in him to deal with the old man’s craziness so early in the morning. “I’ll be back after lunch,” he said, heading towards the door.

    Cog moaned in what sounded like disappointed. “But I was just about to say that-“

    “Also, tell the mutt that I still think he’s wrong,” the dragon man once again interjected. He was tempted to glance at the seemingly still sleeping Beowolfmon, but he resisted, knowing that it would only get him in a worse mood than he already was in. He quickly headed towards the door before he could succumb to the temptation.

    “Wrong?” Cog repeated in curiosity. “What was he wrong ab-“

    Before the Wisemon could finish, Tiwaz had opened the door, quickly exited the room, and closed the door behind him. The dragon man sighed; if it didn’t involve the ten relics, he didn’t want to know. When it came to Cogwej, ignorance was a preference compared to the hijinks that his actions caused.

    He then started for the stairs, his stomach grumbling once more reminding him that he had failed to partake in dinner the night before. Well, in his defense, he really hadn’t really felt like eating after his…conversation with Fenrir.

    Everyone’s selfish,’ Tiwaz thought in his head, rolling his eyes. ‘The mutt’s a bigger prick than I thought,’ he added to himself.

    Weretaz Koging! I demand that you inform me what you are spouting nonsense about!” Cogwej’s voice suddenly blasted from the room behind him, succeeding in surprising Tiwaz into jumping forward and looking back at the door in shock.

    “Damn, the geezer must not be a morning person,” Tiwaz muttered to himself as he subconsciously climbed down the stairs a bit faster than he would have. He decided that he was just so hungry that he really couldn’t wait to get something to eat. Yeah, that’s it.

    As he reached the base of the stairs, he looked at the receptionist’s desk to see if the lady Drimogemon was there. As he expected, she wasn’t there, but he couldn’t really say that she should be considering their apparent infrequency of customers. But he did smell something good coming from the room across him, and he walked towards it.

    “Ah, you’re up,” someone’s voice called out just before he was about to enter the other room, causing him to look at the entrance, where it came from.

    “Eh…you’re that vendor guy,” Tiwaz started, identifying the Gigasmon that he and Cogwej had met in the town’s plaza. “Uh, Den, right?” he asked.

    The Gigasmon grinned at him and nodded. “Nice to know that not all of you have the bad habit of mutilating names,” he told the EmperorGreymon. “You’d think someone who’s a Wisemon would have enough mental capability of actually remembering someone’s name,” he grumbled as he walked past Tiwaz and into the room the dragon man was about to go in.

    “We didn’t name him Crazy Old Geezer Who Endlessly Jabbers for nothing,” Tiwaz told his host, following him in.

    The room that they went inside was fairly quaint. It had a number of uniformly-sized wooden tables arranged in meticulous order around the room while leaving spaces large enough for walking to one of three entrances including the one that Tiwaz and Den just came from. The only side of the room that didn’t have a door had a horizontally long window that showed the outside of the inn. Tiwaz’s nose was also being assaulted by a scent that caused him to salivate slightly.

    Den looked over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow. “Really? That’s not what he said it meant last night during dinner,” he informed him.

    Tiwaz blinked. “What did he say it meant?” he asked, frowning a bit.

    Den shrugged in response. “Something with Charming or Cool in it or something,” he told the dragon man as he lead Tiwaz to one of the tables at the far end corner of the room.

    The dragon man couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “Should’ve known that Cogwej would change his name when I’m not around.”

    “Strange that he could remember it, though, considering his trouble with names,” Den muttered, scratching the top of his head. “Especially since he said he just got the name yesterday,” he added.

    “Must be ‘cause it’s just a bunch of words using the first letters as the name,” Tiwaz said, although he was mildly surprised that he just noticed Den’s observation right then.

    “I can’t really tell if he’s a genius or a fool,” Den muttered to himself as he stopped in front of a long table that could seat six people on benches on each of its long sides.

    “You know what they say about exceptional people; they always have something about them that-“ Tiwaz stopped what he was saying as his jaw almost dropped to the floor.

    On the table was a small assortment of aromatic food that looked like it was enough to feed a king’s appetite and high-end tastes. Tiwaz would be drooling if he didn’t have any shame in himself, and even then, he was barely keeping himself from doing so. The sight, combined with the fragrant, mouth-watering smell, was enough to make his stomach growl in hunger.

    The mineral Digimon beside him had to give a chuckle at his reaction. “Struck speechless, huh?” he asked, folding his arms and grinning at Tiwaz. “Moe went all out on the food for you and your friends; she loves feeding everyone so much that it’s amazing that I haven’t gotten fat after twelve years of marriage,” the Gigasmon said proudly. He then smiled slyly. “Not to mention that the mayor’ll be spending for it, so everyone’s happy,” he added in a low whisper.

    Tiwaz was too entranced to notice, and he sat down to start eating. Den sat beside him, observing him with a bit of envy as the dragon downed plate after plate of food.

    After a few moments, Den finally couldn’t help but open his mouth. “I didn’t think I’d see someone who could eat as fast as the Wisemon, and here I am, seeing someone doing so just a night after,” he said, staring at Tiwaz and causing him to stop in mid-bite.

    “Yeah, well, it’s been a while since I’ve had food that smelled and tasted this good,” Tiwaz replied, grinning as he turned to him.

    The Gigasmon had to smile at the compliment to his wife’s cooking. “Good to know, though I hope you and the other two don’t plan on eating that much all the time, or we’d be out of food stuffs by tomorrow evening,” he informed the dragon man, making Tiwaz look at him curiously.

    “Wait, you mean you don’t usually have this much to eat?” he questioned.

    Den shook his head. “Remember what I told you about the town having to buy as much food as it can before the next supply caravan comes by?”

    Tiwaz nodded.

    “Well, if we want to survive til that time, sometimes we have to cut back on a few stuff like food or stuff,” the innkeeper told him. “Just because this town finds a lot of metal and jewels for other places doesn’t mean we’re rolling in dough. More like we’re rolling in dirt.”

    “Which reminds me,” Tiwaz then said. “Why aren’t you out there working in the mountain with the other men?” he asked, starting to eat again at a slower pace.

    Den then grumbled and folded his arms. “The missus made me quit after a cave-in that caused me to get stuck in the mines for a few days,” he said. “Not like I didn’t know it could happen; it’s a job hazard. She didn’t have to worry so much ‘bout me,” he added with a grunt.

    Tiwaz couldn’t help but grin at him. “Guess I know who wears the pants in the family,” he couldn’t help but comment.

    “Oh, what do you know?” Den retorted in slight embarrassment and looking away.

    The dragon man let out a bellowing laugh in reply. The two continued their conversation in an amicable atmosphere, something that Tiwaz wasn’t able to experience in a while. He hadn’t realized how much he missed being able to talk with someone that he didn’t want to strangle every other minute.

    “Ahhh, that was good,” the EmperorGreymon declared as he put down the fork and knife and patted his full belly. “There’s nothing like home cooking to turn a hungry stomach into a happy stomach.”

    “Glad to know you enjoyed it. I’ll make sure to tell Moe,” the Gigasmon replied with a small smile. “You going to head back to your room then?”

    Tiwaz frowned. “N…nah, I need to find that blacksmith guy,” he said, standing up.

    “Blacksmith…Pavamana?” Den asked with a frown as he looked up at the dragon man.

    Tiwaz grinned at him. “Yeah, do you know where his shop is?” he asked, unsheathing his sword. “I need to get my blade done. Can’t be at my best if my weapon isn’t,” he informed the innkeeper.

    “Mmm…yeah, it should be a few blocks away. Won’t be too hard to find,” Den said, tilting his head and thinking. “Oh, by the way, if you find my kid, a Grumblemon that goes by the name of Ratchet, can you tell him to come home before nightfall? That kid always gets into so much trouble whenever he’s with his friends,” he asked.

    Tiwaz couldn’t help but grin. “Kids will be kids, but yeah, I can do that. Thanks for the meal again,” Tiwaz said as he turned to go out of the inn.

    -​

    Fenrir’s awakening was a calmer one than that of the dragon that slept on the couch across his bed. He kept his eyes closed for a few more moments, slowly breathing and out, slowing down his rapidly beating heart. He wasn’t quite sure why it was beating so quickly. It was then that he realized that his body also felt cold despite the warmth of the room. He supposed that the possibility of him dreaming was likely, but the way his body reacted, it must’ve been more like a nightmare. In that case, he was glad he couldn’t remember it.

    He pushed himself up and sat on the edge of the bed, opening his eyes slowly and letting it adjust to the light that shone from the window. He could hear people outside, already going about on their normal activities for the day. He could also hear mumbling, too low for even his own enhanced hearing to properly decipher. He did, however, recognize the voice.

    The Beowolfmon turned towards one of the desks of the room to see Cogwej scribbling enthusiastically on a piece of paper. All around his chair seemed to balls of crumpled paper, which Fenrir assumed to be logs or whatever Cog writes down that he deemed not good enough.

    He was a bit surprised, however. While he knew that the Wisemon had the knowledge to surpass that of a scholar, he didn’t peg him to be the kind to make plans so diligently. The old man seemed too scatterbrained and whimsical to do so.

    Fenrir stood up silently just as Cogwej let out a happy cheer, standing up and saying, “I’ve done it!”

    “Done what?” Fenrir asked before he could stop himself.

    The cloaked Digimon turned to Fenrir with gleeful eyes. “Fara! You woke up just in time to witness my masterpiece!” he exclaimed, causing the wolf Digimon to raise an eyebrow skeptically; now he wasn’t only curious but also worried. “Here, here! Observe!” Cogwej told him as he rushed over, placing the piece of paper in front of the wolf man’s face.

    Fenrir took a few seconds to scan it over…and then he blinked in confusion. ‘This…this is…’ he thought in slight shock.

    “Well? Well?” Cogwej asked giddily, looking like he was about to jump up and down like a little school girl about to meet her favorite boy band.

    “It’s…” Fenrir started with a small frown.

    “Wondrous? Magnificent? Breathtaking? Remarkable?” the Wisemon suggested with sparkling eyes.

    “…a pie,” Fenrir deadpanned.

    “The world’s most delectable and amazing peach pie ever created, you mean!” Cog corrected him, happily turning away back to the desk.

    Fenrir turned away, rolling his eyes. He supposed Cogwej really wasn’t doing anything as productive as he suspected. As he did so, he spotted the empty couch. He momentarily wondered where Tiwaz was until he remembered the conversation they had just before bed. He supposed it was a good thing that he wasn’t there; they might have gotten into another argument.

    “Ah, yes, Tawiz informed me that shall be returning to the inn after midday,” Cogwej suddenly said, looking over his shoulder. Fenrir gave a short nod in response. He didn’t particularly care what Tiwaz did. “And he also requested me to tell you that he still considers you mistaken,” Cog then added.

    Fenrir stiffened slightly at his words. Well, it didn’t matter to him what Tiwaz thought. That wouldn’t change his mind. It would take a lot more than a steaming dragon at his throat to make him change a belief formed through a lot of experience and pain. He was simply too proud…too selfish. He sighed.

    “Now, may I curiously inquire as to what he believes you mistaken of?” Cog then asked, suddenly beside Fenrir.

    Damn, crazy, fast geezer,’ Fenrir thought to himself, stepping a bit to the side to make some space between them. The Wisemon could be eerily fast when he wanted to be.

    “Nothing important,” Fenrir told him.

    “Oh, it would not be significant had Tyrwan not mentioned it, would it not?” Cog asked, stepping in front of him with a curious gaze. The Beowolfmon replied with a grimace.

    “It’s not any of your business,” the knight told him with an undertone of a warning.

    Cog then sighed. He knew that Fenrir’s anger, while rarer that Tiwaz’s, was quite much more dangerous, or at the very least, he believed so. It was always hard to read those that tend to be quiet, and those that were unpredictable to him…were always the most dangerous to him. But he couldn’t just let it end with that…

    “Perhaps, unless you’ve already shared your business with me,” the Wisemon replied. “You’re not quite as…sensitive except with the involvement of your quandary.”

    Fenrir grit his teeth. “You vowed not to speak of that,” the Beowolfmon told him.

    “Ah ah,” Cog replied, wagging a finger in front of him. “I vowed never to speak of it to anyone else. I suspect that due to your current knowledge, I am quite able to speak to you about your-“

    Silence, Cogwej!

    Immediately, Cog made the gesture of zipping his mouth. And Fenrir sighed.

    “He asked why I’m helping you,” Fenrir told him.

    Cog blinked. “He does not know?” he asked, receiving a short nod from Fenrir. “I had previously assumed that he was aware of your dilemma, considering that both of you came to me together,” he told the Beowolfmon.

    “He’s just…meddlesome,” Fenrir decided. “Too much for his own good,” he added with a slightly annoyed expression.

    “Officiousness is not an immoral quality, Fey,” the Wisemon told him. “It can be quite a miracle-maker in the right hands.”

    Fenrir shook his head. “This is not one of those times.”

    “We-“

    Their conversation was suddenly interrupted by the abrupt roaring coming from Cogwej’s stomach. Both Digimon blinked, and then Cogwej plopped to the floor on his behind, groaning.

    “Oooooh, I suddenly recall that I haven’t consumed anything since last night’s dinner,” the Wisemon said, looking lightheaded. “Deciding upon a recipe for something as wondrous as the world’s most delectable and amazing peach pie all night has made me a lot more ravenous than usual,” he spouted.

    All night…perhaps he is as diligent as I thought,’ Fenrir thought, sighing and grabbing the Wisemon’s arm, putting it over his shoulder and heading to the door. He should ask the Drimogemon innkeeper to make them brunch before the Wisemon faints. He glanced at the cloaked Digimon. ‘His priorities, however…

    As Cog’s stomach growled, he suddenly said, “Mmm…do you suppose that they can make me the world’s most de-“

    “No.”

    -​

    Metal clanging loudly against metal rang in Tiwaz’s ear. That was what drew his attention to the building and made him deduce that it was probably where the blacksmith called Pavamana was. He let out a small grin as he walked towards the clay building.

    “Hey, blacksmith!” Tiwaz called out, pushing the dual-swinging doors open. “I’ve got job for you!” he declared as he walked into the building.

    The first thing the EmperorGreymon noticed as he walked in was that, while clean, it was severely lacking in weapons. Almost every blacksmith he knew had a rack of weapons on the wall for customers to see; the walls in this smithy were almost bare except for the cabinets with broken glass windows, and the objects inside them looked like rocks and gems rather than weaponry. The PileVolcamon, holding a hammer and looking at him curiously, and the furnace he was in front of came next, and right beside it was the only weapon in the room; Fenrir’s Beo Sabre.

    “You are…” the blacksmith started, standing up.

    The dragon man grinned and walked over, offering a hand. “I was one of the guys you met yesterday back in the mayor’s house, remember? We weren’t properly introduced; the name’s Tiwaz Koenig,” he introduced himself. “You’re, uh, Pav, right?”

    Pavamana looked at him for a bit before taking the EmperorGreymon’s hand with his free one. “Yes. Pavamana Suchi,” he presented himself, giving Tiwaz a firm handshake.

    “Nice to meet you, Pav,” Tiwaz said as he returned with a large grin. “I heard you were doing the weapon job for the mutt, Fenrir.”

    Pavamana lowered down his hand and nodded, gesturing to the weapon beside his work space. “Done.”

    Tiwaz whistled, impressed. “And just one night, too. You really are a top-rate blacksmith, eh?” he asked, folding his arms and giving the PileVolcamon a nod.

    “Special order by Rhodo,” the blacksmith told him as he turned back to the anvil with a heated pickaxe on it. “For those who’ll save our town,” he added with a tiny smile as he went back to work.

    Tiwaz rubbed the back of his neck, feeling a bit sheepish but grinning nonetheless. “Only doing what’s right. I’d do the job even if it wasn’t part our reason for being here in the first place,” Tiwaz told him as he went to stand beside the working Digimon. “I mean, Den told me how hard life can be here for all of you. The least we can do is to get rid of all the earthquakes.”

    “Not all of them,” Pavamana told him as he placed the head of the pickaxe into the furnace using a large pair of tongs.

    “Then most of them then,” Tiwaz said as he glanced over at the broken cases at the other end of the room. “Wish we could, though. Even the occasional tremble must be incredibly dangerous for the miners,” the dragon man noted with a grimace.

    The blacksmith nodded his head solemnly in agreement. “Most deaths here are caused by them,” he informed the out-of-towner.

    “Then why are they still working in the mines if it ends up killing a lot of good men?” Tiwaz asked, folding his arms.

    “Survivability. Stability. Family,” Pavamana answered as he took back the mining instrument and started hammering on it. “The town…we wouldn’t survive otherwise.”

    “Well, find a new source of digits then,” Tiwaz suggested. “You must make a pretty good living being the only capable blacksmith in town, right?” he asked between the loud clangor of Pav’s hammer.

    For a moment, the blacksmith stopped and turned to the EmperorGreymon with a humble gaze. “I don’t get paid. Except from visitors. My work…is for the town. To ask anything in return would be disgraceful,” he said seriously.

    Tiwaz shifted his feet a bit in slight embarrassment. “Sorry. Shouldn’t have assumed that,” he apologized.

    The PileVolcamon shook his head. “It’s fine. You’re just…unaware,” he told Tiwaz, making him grin gladly.

    “I have to wonder though, if you don’t get paid for this, how can afford to eat and sleep?” the EmprorGreymon asked. “Like you said, you don’t get a lot of visitors, so you must not get a lot of profits.”

    Pavamana turned back to his work at hand, the room once again filling with the sound of metal clanks. “Rhodo.”

    Tiwaz blinked for a few seconds. “The mayor?” he asked after a moment. “You mean you live with the guy?”

    Pav gave nod in reply, saying, “For better or worse.”

    The dragon man folded his arms and looked up at the ceiling. “You must be close with him then, right?” he asked after a bit of thinking.

    “I…suppose,” he replied after a few seconds.

    “Known each other long?” Tiwaz pressed a bit more. He was beginning to find out that trying to get the PileVolcamon was a whole lot harder than getting Fenrir to.

    “We were childhood friends,” Pav told him, not even glancing at the dragon man.

    The reptilian Digimon raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Really? I wouldn’t have guessed; I thought you were just some important advisor or something, considering that he wanted to talk to you after we explained the situation,” Tiwaz said.

    “He just wanted my opinion on something,” Pavamana told him shortly.

    Tiwaz frowned a bit and scratched the top of his head. “You two best friends or something?” he then asked.

    Pavamana seemed to stop his work for a moment to think before continuing on. “Perhaps…in the past,” Pav admitted, although his outward appearance would have made someone think that he didn’t particularly mind it.

    “Did you two have a falling out or something?” the EmperorGreymon asked with a raised eyebrow. “Couldn’t be. You two seemed just fine yesterday.”

    The reply was a shake of a head. “No. He’s just very busy, as am I,” Pavamana explained.

    “Ah,” Tiwaz breathed out, nodding in comprehension. “I guess it must be hard to just sit and talk when both of you seem to have really important jobs to do: you supplying the miners with tools, and him making sure the town stays running.”

    The blacksmith nodded as he placed the heated metal into a bucket of water beside him, steam emanating from the container. He pulled out the worked-on object and gave it a thorough look-over for imperfections and slight deformations.

    “Huh. Rhodo has a kid, though, so I assume he also has a wife,” Tiwaz then thought, folding his arms and tilting his head in thought. Pavamana frowned, but didn’t say anything. “How about you? Got a girlfriend or wife too?” the EmperorGreymon asked him with a sly grin.

    Pavamana stopped what he was doing and turned to Tiwaz in slight surprise, wondering where that question seemed to come from. “Uh…” he started, not quite sure what to say.

    “No…I’m single,” the PileVolcamon decided to say as he stood up and walked over to the table in front of the cabinets and placed the mining instrument on it. “Too…occupied,” he told Tiwaz.

    “Too occupied, eh?” Tiwaz wondered, although he had lowered his voice too much for Pavamana to hear. He had a sly smile on his face. “Guess you just need a little help,” the dragon man decided, making a mental note to himself.

    Just as Tiwaz was about to speak again, Pavamana then turned back to him with a curious gaze. “You had a job for me?” he asked in a tone that was a notch louder than what he had used during their conversation.

    Tiwaz blinked. “Oh yeah, I wanted to ask if you could also sharpen my Dragon Soul Sword too,” he said, taking his weapon and pointing it at the wall.

    Pavamana approached the EmperorGreymon to give the weapon a closer look. He leaned closer to the weapon, squinting his eyes and holding his hands under the weapon, palms up. “May I?” he asked, glancing at Tiwaz.

    “Sure,” the EmperorGreymon said as he laid the weapon in the PileVolcamon’s hands.

    The blacksmith weighed it in his hands for a moment before taking hold of the hilt with one hand and letting the other travel along the blade, testing the smoothness of the side and the sharpness of the edge. Then he took the handle with both hands and held it perpendicular to the ground, slowly tilting his hands until the blade was parallel with the ground.

    “Heavy, but incredibly durable, but...its weight…”

    Tiwaz suddenly frowned. He didn’t like the way that sounded. “But what? What about its weight? Is there something wrong with my weapon?”

    Pav turned to him with a curious expression. “It was under extreme heat.” he suddenly told Tiwaz. “It’s heavier at the end, also slightly deformed, almost unnoticeable.”

    The EmperorGreymon then smiled in realization. “Oh, right, that. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “I guess it needs a bit more than a little polishing, eh?” he asked as he gave the weapon in Pavamana’s hand a glance.

    The PileVolcamon gave him an analyzing look for a few seconds before nodding slowly. “I’ll finish by tonight. Tomorrow if necessary,” he informed the knight.

    Tiwaz gave him a large, appreciative grin. “Great! I’ll come back for it tomorrow then,” Tiwaz then told him. He was about to walk back out of the room, but he stopped when the PileVolcamon called out to him.

    “Can you give Fenrir’s sword back?” the blacksmith asked as he went over to the dual-bladed weapon. Tiwaz made a point to make a scowl at the thought since he and the Beowolfmon weren’t on good terms. At all. However…

    I’m not that petty,’ the dragon man thought as he went over and nodded.

    “Sure, I can do that,” he told the blacksmith as he took the weapon, placing it where his Dragon Soul Sword would usually be; it wasn’t a perfect fit, but it would do until he saw the mutt again. He gave him a grin that the PileVolcamon returned with readily with a small smile. Then the EmperorGreymon became a bit thoughtful. “Hey, if me, the mutt and the old geezer come back from the mines early, maybe you, me and Den can hit the local tavern tonight,” Tiwaz suggested with a grin.

    Pavamana blinked at him. “I have work,” he told the dragon man, looking a bit nervous.

    “Come on, I bet you’ve been working all night and day; you could do with a bit of R and R,” the dragon man suggested, the gears in his mind suddenly working faster. “I’ll come pick you up after I meet up with Den. Later, Pav,” he told the blacksmith with an enthusiastic grin before exiting the room before Pavamana could reject the offer. It seems that he can get to work on his plan to get the PileVolcamon a girlfriend sooner than he thought.

    The blacksmith sighed and shook his head, rubbing the back of his neck with a free hand. Despite that, he couldn’t help but give a small smile. It had been way too long since someone asked for his presence just for a simple get together.

    Well, in any case, it was going to be a while before Tiwaz will come and force him to go against his will; he had the feeling that the EmperorGreymon won’t take no for an answer. He had better warn Rhodo and the barkeeper before then, too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  2. (Seventeen minutes earlier…)

    “I really think that this is a bad idea, Camille.”

    The young Armadillomon stopped and looked over her shoulder at the other children behind her. One was a wide-eyed and excited goblin like Digimon. He was a Grumblemon, and he was too entranced by the rocky and stone cavern and the lanterns adorning the walls that they were in to pay attention to what the fidgety Tapirmon beside him was saying. The last of them, a silent humanoid stone Digimon, commonly known as a Gotsumon, followed silently, looking behind them every once in a while.

    “Lighten up, Yaya,” the daughter of the mayor told the Tapirmon. “Just look at Ratch and JJ; they’re perfectly fine,” she said, pointing at the Grumblemon and Gotsumon with her tail before continuing on to lead the four deeper into the miner’s shaft that they were walking through.

    Yaya rubbed her arms nervously nonetheless. “That’s different! Ratchet never cares if he’s in danger or trouble,” she said, glaring at the still distracted Grumblemon. “And Jay’s stronger than all three of us combined; he doesn’t have to worry about a thing,” she then added.

    “Hey!” the hybrid Digimon beside her exclaimed. “Just ‘cause the rock can lift bigger rocks than I can doesn’t mean he’s stronger than me!”

    “Actually, it does,” Cammie interjected.

    “Well, I’m older!” Ratch stated grumpily, folding his arms and looking over his shoulder to give the mineral Digimon the stink eye, and then he proceeded to trip, landing on his larger than average nose.

    “And clumsier,” Yaya teased, rolling her eyes as she simply floated over the many rocks and pebbles that could make someone like Ratchet trip.

    A second later, JJ stood over the Grumblemon, offering his hand. “Here,” he said in a low, steady tone.

    “I can stand by myself!” the goblin Digimon replied huffily as slapped the helping hand away and pushed himself up to a stand. “I don’t need help from some weird, walking boulder,” he added, folding his arms indignantly as the two females in his presence rolled their eyes. The other Digimon simply shrugged.

    “Come on, Camille; let’s just go home,” the Tapirmon said after the short event. “Knowing Ratch, he’ll bump into something important and cause the ceiling to fall on us,” she theorized, shuddering at the idea.”

    “No, I won’t!” Ratchet retorted, glaring at the legless Digimon.

    “Yes, you will! You always get us into trouble!” she replied, glaring back at him.

    “Oh, won’t you two keep quiet already?” Cammie called out behind her as they reached a fork in the path. After a few moments worth of thinking, she decided to go down the left path. “Don’t any of you want to save the town?”

    “Of course!” Ratchet said, grinning. “We’ll be heroes! And being called a hero is so worth getting a scolding from momma! I even bet dad would be too proud to even get angry at me every again!” he fantasized, puffing up his chest.

    “Or we’ll end up lost and end up dying all alone in here,” Yaya muttered to herself in fear, glancing behind her, past Jay, at the entrance that the Gotsumon made for them which was already long gone in the darkness of the tunnel.

    Cammie sighed. “Look, Yaya, I’m one hundred percent positive that the weird old guy that tried to catch you-“

    The Tapirmon shuddered at the memory.

    “-said that the relic thingie was inside the mountain, and the mine shafts can lead all the way down really deep where it’s supposed to be. If we can get it out of here and give it to those travellers, then we’ll save the town and get rid of them,” the Armadillomon told her. “Then you won’t ever have to worry about getting experimented on.”

    The Tapirmon thought for a moment. “Well, if you put it that way…” she trailed off.

    “Ha! If it were me, I would have clobbered that crazy old man and sent him flying, along with those henchmen of his!” Ratchet claimed, glancing at Cogwej’s unfortunate victim. “I bet I could take all three of them at the same time!”

    “Like the time you challenged uncle Pav to an arm wrestling match?” Cammie teased, remembering how the Grumblemon grumbled about having a sore hand for weeks.

    “I’ve told you, it was cuz I didn’t warm up before,” said the Grumblemon, his face tinting red slightly as Yaya snickered.

    “Because of you, he even challenged more people to arm wrestling matches,” Cammie said, laughing in remembrance. “Daddy had to give everyone a break the day after because they all had to help uncle calm down,” she added as Yaya caught her laughter and Ratchet turned even redder.

    Then Yaya turned thoughtful. She looked over her shoulder. “Hey, Jay, you helped them with Pavamana that night, right?” she asked, searching her memory.

    “Yep,” the Gotsumon said, nodding as his stony mouth curving upwards slightly.

    “It must’ve been really hard. We all know how rowdy uncle Pav can get,” she said, more to herself than the other three in the room.

    “Aww, you know that he doesn’t mean most of the things he does when he’s like that,” Cammie defended her pseudo-uncle. The PileVolcamon was like a second-father to her, and he was one of the few people that she had relied on when her mother died.

    “I know but-“ she was suddenly stopped when Jay put a hand on her shoulder. “Jay?” she asked, looking at the Gotsumon, who had a concentrated expression on his face

    “What is it, JJ?” Cammie asked, turning back to them.

    “Yeah, what’s the hold up, Rocky?” Ratchet asked, folding his arms. Jay put a finger on his lips, telling the Grumblemon to stay quiet. That didn’t set well with said Grumblemon. “What? Just cause you don’t like talking much doesn’t mean I can’t,” he told the Gotsumon, glaring.

    A moment later, the tunnel started to shake, and the children sans Jay screamed in terror.

    “Gwaaaaagh!” Ratchet yelled as he fell on his bum, wide eyed as fear started to overtake his body. “Okay, okay, I’ll shut up! Just stop whatever you’re doing!” he pleaded as he tried and failed to get back up.

    “It’s not him, idiot! And stay down!” Cammie yelled, getting down and covering her head with her forepaws. “It’s another quake!

    “Kyaaaaaa! Someone, heeeeeelp!” Yaya screamed, ducking on the ground as JJ stood over her protectively, squinting against the stones from the cieling that began to fall on top of them.

    Ratchet gave out a yell as a piece of debris the size of his head suddenly dropped beside him with a loud thud. “Bwaaaa! The ceiling’s starting to give!” he announced in fright, getting on his hands and knees and crawling his way past Cammie.

    “H-hey, come back here, you fraidy Gatomon!” Cammie ordered, turning over at him. As she did so, however, her foot suddenly lost its balance, causing her to land back on her injured forearm and her chin with a thud. She groaned against the shuddering earth and forced herself to open her eyes, and the sight in front of her caused adrenaline to suddenly rush through her body. “Jay! Above you!” she shouted.

    Without even bothering to look at what Camille shouted about, the Gotsumon wrapped his arms around the screaming Yaya and jumped forward. A second later, as he and the Tapirmon rolled on the shaking ground, a large piece of the ceiling crashed behind them with loud boom, followed by more sizable debris that began to block the way they came from.

    And then, just like that, the shaking ended.

    The first to recover was Camille, who got on her legs shakily, wincing at the jolt of pain running up her reopened wound. She ignored it in favor of trying to find out how her friends were. “H-hey, is e-everyone o-okay?” she asked, unable to keep the remnant of fear in her voice. If anything happened to any of her friends, it would be her fault. She would never forgive herself.

    “I’m f-fine…I-I think…” Ratchet’s voice called out behind her weakly. He was cowering beside a wooden beam that had somehow held its own against the earthquake. “W-what about Y-Yaya a-and Jay?” he asked, unable to get his trembling limbs to stand up.

    The Armadillomon turned to them. “Jay? Y-yaya?” she called out to the two, who were still lying on the ground. “P-please…s-say something,” she begged as she forced herself to walk towards them.

    As she stood over them, relief flooded her whole body. “Jay! Y-you’re awake!” she said, but then she frowned. “What about Yaya?” she asked worriedly.

    “Unconscious,” the Gotsumon answered as he stood up, looking at the Tapirmon over. “But fine,” he deduced, turning back at Cammie with a soft smile.

    “Thank goodness,” the Armadillomon said with her own soft smile. She then turned back to Ratchet. “Hey, Ratch, think you can stand?”

    After a few seconds, the Grumblemon nodded and used the wooden beam to help himself up slowly. Although he was able to stand, his legs were still shaking. “Y-yeah,” he then replied, looking at her.

    “Good,” she commented as she turned back to Jay, who was propping Yaya up to rest on the wall of the mine shaft. “Hey, Jay, do you think you can get some of those smaller rocks out?” she questioned, gesturing to the boulders that was blocking the way to their exit.

    The Gotsumon looked at her curiously. “Yes, but…”

    “Okay then,” she interrupted, the side that made her the leader of her small group coming out. “I need you two to trust me on this, okay? Jay, get as many rocks as you can out from there without causing the thing to cave in again,” she ordered the Gotsumon. Then she turned to Ratchet. “Then you and JJ will have to go and find someone to help me and Yaya out of here, got it?”

    The Grumblemon grimaced. “What? Why can’t you come with us?” he asked as he approached her. “I mean, mister strong guy can carry Yaya, and you can lean on me on the way back, right?”

    Cammie frowned. “Yeah, but the way I am right now, I’ll only be really slowing you down. Plus, Jay may be strong, but he’s not going to be able to make an exit and carry Yaya all the way back. And he might also have to help remove some more debris if more rocks fell down on the path,” she reasoned. “This is the fastest way to get me and Yaya out of here,” she said, looking down and feeling ashamed that she had gotten them in such a situation.

    “I…I guess,” Ratchet relented, rubbing the back of his neck. Then he turned to Jay. “Well, let’s get to it then. I’ll even help you,” he told Jay, who smiled slightly at him and went to work.

    After a moment’s worth of careful and grueling work, the two were finally able to make a hole that was large enough for the Grumblemon and Gotsumon to go through. Jay went through first, looking back at his two friends with determination before going through.

    Ratchet turned to Cammie unsurely. “We’ll…we’ll get you out of here, Cammie. Just stay here, all right?”

    The armadillo Digimon gave him a small, reassuring smile. “I’m not going anywhere. Hurry back, okay?”

    The Grumblemon nodded as he followed Jay through the hole they made, quickly getting into a run. After a few minutes, however, the goblin Digimon started to feel the aftereffects of the adrenaline that had run through his body during the quake. “Hey, Rocky, wait up!” he called out to the other Digimon.

    Jay did as he told, stopping and turning to him with a slight tilt of his head. “Yes?”

    “G-gimme…a minute or two…to get my breathe back,” the Grumblemon grumbled, dragging himself over until he was near the mineral Digimon. “I just…need…a few…seconds,” he told him, putting a hand on a nearby wooden beam.

    As he did so, both of them heard the creaking of wood. The reaction was instantaneous.

    “Ratchet!” Jay yelled, pushing the older Digimon away as the wooden beam beside him and the one across it suddenly gave way falling down on the Gotsumon.

    As the Grumblemon landed on his back after the push, he heard the loud slamming that told of the state of the mine shaft. His eyes widened, seeing the cloud of dust that had been kicked up by the falling of the wooden beams. “Jay!!” he yelled, quickly getting up to his feet and blowing the dust away with his hands. What he saw when the veil of dirt cleared made his jaw drop.

    Holding up the weight of not only the wooden beams but also some of the fallen rocks was Jay. It would not have been as much of a surprise if Jay had digivolved into a Golemon, yet he was still in his rookie form of a Gotsumon. Ratchet knew and grudgingly accepted that the stone Digimon was very strong for his age, but what Jay was doing was unbelievable.

    “J-J-J-Jay…y-y-y-you’re…” the Grumblemon stuttered, stepping backwards in shock.

    Jay, meanwhile, was visibly shaking, looking at the other Digimon with one open eye. “R-Ratchet…go…” he told the Grumblemon.

    “W-what?” Ratchet asked, blinking.

    “Find…help…!” Jay ordered him, gesturing with his head the small opening that was large enough for the Grumblemon to crawl through.

    The goblin Digimon blinked. “B-b-but you-“

    GO!” the Gotsumon commanded, his voice suddenly reaching a tone that Ratchet had never heard him use before.

    Without waiting a further second, Ratchet scrambled to the opening that Jay gave him, quickly crawling through. “Don’t die on me, Rocky! We’ve still got a score to settle!” the Grumblemon declared as he got back on his feet and dashed for the entrance. He could already feel the wind coming from it.

    Jay, meanwhile, was beginning to lose strength. “I…gotta…” he muttered as he tried to concentrate, closing his eyes. “Only…one…try…” Then in one quick motion, he let go and jumped forward, letting the wood and stone fall behind him with a loud boom as he landed on his belly, feeling exhausted. The Gotsumon closed his eyes, feeling relief that he was able to get his friend out. Hopefully, he’ll get help soon.

    Then another thought came to him. He was able to hold up the weight of the wooden beams and part of the ceiling. He shouldn’t have been able to do that even at his strongest. It had been his adrenaline that had kept him from thinking about it when he was doing so, since the only thing he was thinking about was protecting Ratchet and getting help to Cammie and Yaya. Now with a clearer head, he was dumbstruck at his act of strength.

    Now that he thought about it, he remembered feeling a great rush of energy running through his body. It was a feeling like no other, being empowered from the bottom up. He wondered if it was just adrenaline…but it felt so much different than that. He just…couldn’t explain it.

    He opened his eyes, pushing himself up and looking behind him. He wondered if he could somehow make another small opening for him to crawl through, but then he realized how tired his body felt. He had too little energy to even make an attempt at it.

    The Gotsumon stood up, sighing and shaking his head. He supposed he could always go back to the girls. He was sure that at least Camille had heard the boom caused by the falling of part of the mine shaft; he should go and ease their worries.

    As he turned to go back, however, he spotted a new entrance that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. At the very least, he was sure he hadn’t seen it on the way where Cammie and Yaya were. He didn’t even notice it when he and Ratchet were running down the path. He supposed it must have opened up due to the quake.

    Stranger still, he was getting the feeling that something down the new path was calling him. It wasn’t like the way someone would call someone’s name out from across the street. It was much more like some unknown force pulling at him to go down…and for some reason, he answered its call.

    Jay started to walk down the new path, wondering what it was that was summoning his presence.

    -​

    “Damn, that was a strong one,” Tiwaz muttered to himself, pushing himself from the ground. “I’ll be damned if I have to go through a quake a day,” he added as he brushed away the dust and dirt that got on his armor off of him.

    “Teeza!” someone suddenly called. It was a familiar voice, and for some reason, he had a feeling that whoever said it was referring to him. The EmperorGreymon sighed and put a hand in front of his eyes; he had hoped to be have a little more freedom before he’d have to play babysitter again.

    “It’s Tiwaz, you crazy geezer!” the dragon man replied, turning to where the Wisemon’s voice came from.

    Just as he thought, the cloaked Digimon was running towards him with an ecstatic expression on his face. Behind him, Fenrir was walking at his own pace, looking around and observing the damage that the quake had caused.

    “What are both of you doing out? I said I’d be back a little after lunch time, didn’t I?” Tiwaz called out to them as he met them halfway. “Besides, what about all the supplies? Aren’t both of you supposed to wait for it with the mayor?” he asked, standing in front of the duo with his hands on his hips.

    “Done,” Fenrir answered him, gesturing to Cogwej with a turn of his head.

    “All our provisions are within the temporal dimension of my Space-Time Stones,” the Wisemon told him, letting two spheres of red and orange appear from the openings of his sleeves and float around him. “They are much more practical than a bag of leather skin, are they not?” he asked with obvious delight that Tiwaz couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

    “And we decided to head to the mines now,” the Beowolfmon then said. “The sooner we find the Spirit, the better off the town will be,” he added, looking around. “They’ll be safer…”

    The Beowolfmon was looking to where a Protoceratops-like digimon, a Monochromon, had shielded a young Gazimon, a digimon that looked like a mix between a dog and a cat, from a sign that fell during the quake. If the dinosaur Digimon wasn’t there, then the Rookie level would probably have been heavily injured…or worse. The wolf warrior shook his head and turned back to the dragon knight.

    “Are you ready?”

    Tiwaz gave him a resolute look. “Always, mutt,” he replied with a grin. “Speaking of which, I don’t think you will be until you get this,” he added as he unsheathed the Beo Sabre from his back and then tossed it to the Beowolfmon. Unlike any sensible person, Cog looked at in interestedly even as it passed over his head instead of running for cover.

    “My sword,” Fenrir muttered to himself as he sidestepped caught the weapon by the hilt before the blade could embed itself in his shoulder. He frowned but he gave Tiwaz a glance. “My thanks…” he said tentatively.

    Tiwaz gave a shrug to make it look like he didn’t really care. “Don’t think I forgive for what you said, mutt,” he started, looking away.

    “Didn’t expect it to,” Fenrir replied as he sheathed his weapon, getting familiar with the slightly altered weight of his sharpened blades.

    “My, both of you get along really well for people who were just in a barney!” Cogwej suddenly said, causing both Digimon to look at him in disbelief. His spheres seemed to have gone back wherever they were hidden within the Wisemon’s person.

    “A what?” Tiwaz repeated, blinking in confusion.

    “A barney! It means-“

    “We don’t have time for this,” Fenrir suddenly interrupted, not really wanting to know. “We need to get to the mines,” he said as he began walking past them and towards the mountain.

    “Ah, yes,” the Wisemon said, planting a fist into an open palm. “This is the ideal moment to begin our search!” he noted as he followed the Beowolfmon.

    “Why’s that?” Tiwaz asked, quickly getting into step beside the old Digimon.

    “Because at this time, the mineworkers should be withdrawing from the mines on the chance that the tremor we just experienced may be followed by an aftershock,” Cog informed him. “Thus, we will not distract or be hindered by the miners during our exploration.”

    “That sounds good,” the EmperorGreymon said with a grin. And then something the Wisemon said got to him. “Wait a minute, you mean that there’s a chance there’s going to be another quake?” he asked.

    The Wisemon nodded with a carefree expression.

    “…And we’ll be inside the mines during it?” Tiwaz asked, beginning to frown.

    “Of course!” Cog replied, still with his happy-go-lucky tone.

    “Scared?” Fenrir suddenly asked, looking over his shoulder slightly.

    “Me? Scared?” Tiwaz asked as if the mere idea was impossible. “I just don’t want to have to drag your butts out of the mines after a tremor,” he said, folding his arms.

    The Beowolfmon rolled his eyes as the trio reached the part where many Digimon seemed to have gathered right in front of the mines. Amid the ruckus and clamor of men, he could hear Rhodo’s loud voice guiding and supervising the miners’ evacuation.

    “I think I can hear the mayor’s voice; we should get to him and tell him that we’re going in,” Tiwaz said, looking past the mineworkers’ heads to look for the Blastmon and putting a hand over his eyes to shade his eyes from the glare of the sun.

    “Think he’ll let us in?” Fenrir wondered as he did the same.

    “Whether he gives us permission or not is superfluous; as we are not denizens of Baking Town, we are not bound by the mayor’s regulations, and we have already been bidden to search for the Spirit of Earth, but he did not limit us as to when,” Cog said, rubbing his palms together.

    “Bakhu Town,” Fenrir corrected as he turned and gave the Wisemon an analyzing glance. It seems that Cogwej hid a bit more cunning behind his whimsical front.

    “I think I see him,” Tiwaz then said with a grin. “Come on.”

    The dragon knight, wolf warrior and cloaked scholar began to walk through the miners, he and his companions gaining quite a bit of attention as they did so. All three did their best to ignore the looks…or rather, two of them did while the last one waved and greeted each one that caught his eye. Fenrir decided that he would have to teach Cogwej to try to be less noticeable…though he doubted it would be possible considering how conspicuous the Wisemon tended to act.

    “Hey, Rhodo!” their EmperorGreymon called out, putting an arm in the air to wave at the mayor. “How’s the evacuation going?”

    The gem-covered Digimon turned to the trio. “As always. My men have gone through enough drills to know what to do,” he informed them.

    “Any casualties?” Fenrir asked as they stopped in front of the mayor.

    “None, fortunately,” Rhodo replied as he closed his eyes in relief. “But we will have to wait before we can go back into the mines,” he said, turning to the entrance of the metal-rich caverns.

    “Yeah, about that-“

    “We’ll begin our search now,” Cogwej interrupted Tiwaz.

    Rhodo gave them a surprised look. “Are you mad?” he asked, wide eyed.

    “Well, this guy might be,” Tiwaz said, pointing to the Wisemon to his side. “But this means we can search without your guys in the way, or us in getting in their way. Besides, we’re tougher than we look, and some measly tremor isn’t going to scare me.”

    “Yes, but-“ the mayor started with a frown, only to be interrupted by Fenrir.

    “We are aware of the dangers,” the wolfman told him.

    “Very well, but as mayor, I cannot let you do that!” he replied, scowling. “I am putting the lives of you, my guests, in danger, and that would give my town a very bad impression. You will also need a guide, and I am not going to risk the life of one of my miners to do so.”

    “Look, we can handle ourselves just fine; we don’t need someone to show us the way,” Tiwaz replied.

    The Blastmon’s face turned angry. “I told you that I am not-“

    “Let them go,” a voice behind the trio suddenly said, causing them to look over their shoulders.

    “You,” Fenrir muttered, blinking in mild surprise.

    “Hey, Pav!” Tiwaz said, grinning. The PileVolcamon that approached them from the crowd of miners returned his grin with a small smile and a nod. In his hand was Tiwaz’s Dragon Soul Sword.

    “Pavamana…what are you saying?” Rhodo asked with raised eyebrows, his rage turning into surprise.

    “These people are…strong, Rhodo. Far stronger than you realize,” he said as he glanced at the weapon in his hand before looking at Tiwaz. “I believe that they can take whatever dangers come their way,” he said, offering them a wider smile. Tiwaz gave him an appreciative nod.

    “I…see,” Rhodo said, propping one of his elbows on an arm against his chest, his chin on his fist. A moment of silence, and then he turned to them. “Very well, you have my permission to enter the caverns, but I implore you to take care.”

    Fenrir gave him a nod. “We will,” he said as he turned to the entrance of the mines.

    “Oooh, I can’t wait to see what the Spirit of Earth looks like!” Cogwej said giddily.

    “Yeah, yeah. Just remember not to touch it,” Tiwaz told him before he turned to Pavamana. “So, what’s up with my sword? You done with it already?” he asked as he looked at his weapon.

    “Tiwaz,” Pavamana started, looking at him in the eye as he handed back the weapon to the confused dragon man. “There’s something I need to-“

    Before the blacksmith could finish his sentence, a shrill voice caught their attention.

    SOMEONE! HEEEEEEELP!

    Immediately, all the people in front of the mines turned to the direction it came from, which was to one side of the mine entrance. A figure, somewhat small, was dashing towards them at harried speeds. Almost instantly, both Tiwaz and Fenrir knew something was wrong. Before any of them could say anything, Rhodo walked past them.

    “Ratch!” he called out to his daughter’s friend. “What did you do n-!”

    The Blastmon stopped once he noticed how battered the Grumblemon looked. “Ratchet! You’re injured!” he said as he quickened his pace into a run.

    The miners then began a clamor as they also began to rush towards he innkeeper’s son, but they were stopped by an arm. “Stop!” Pavamana commanded. No one dared to make another step, and Tiwaz and Fenrir looked at the blacksmith, the latter wondering just who the PileVolcamon was to the town. It seemed like he was no ordinary blacksmith.

    “Someone, call a doctor,” he ordered before he too went over to the injured Rookie Digimon. Fenrir and Tiwaz gave each other a look before nodding to each other and doing the same, Cogwej wondering what they were nodding about but following them anyway.

    “Come on, little one, tell me what happened,” Rhodo said softly, kneeling over the exhausted Ratchet, whose hands were propped on his knees as he panted heavily.

    “The others…Jay…Cammie and Yaya,” the Grumblemon said between pants.

    At the sound of his daughter’s name, Rhodo grabbed the child’s shoulders in terror. “Camille!? Tell me, boy! What happened!?” he asked, fear suddenly clutching at his heart.

    “Gwah!” Ratchet yelled in surprise.

    “Rhodo, calm down,” Pavamana said behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Your panicking is not helping.”

    “…R-right…I apologize, Ratchet,” the Blastmon said, letting the Grumblemon go. “Please continue,” he requested softly despite the dread that was filling him. If something happened to his daughter, he didn’t know what he would do.

    “Th-they’re…trapped in…the caves,” Ratchet said, falling into a sitting position, looking at the ground sadly. “A-and…I just…left them,” he added shamefully, grimacing.

    “No, young one,” Fenrir then said as he appeared. “What you did is a brave thing,” he informed the goblin Digimon.

    “Who else would have come for help then?” Tiwaz added as he too appeared within the Grumblemon’s vision.

    “B-but I still…”

    “You did good, Ratchet,” Rhodo told him, rubbing Ratchet’s shoulder affectionately. “But how did you get in the mines in the first place. The entrance is always guarded by two of the townsmen,” he asked, frowning. If the children got through, then either he would have to tighten security…or someone was going to suffer his wrath. He put them on watch for a reason.

    “Jay…made us…an entrance,” Ratchet answered, looking behind him.

    “Jay?” Pavamana repeated. “Jameson? He did…” he trailed off.

    “I see…is he with the girls right now?” Rhodo asked, knowing just how capable the mineral Digimon was. The Gotsumon child was quite a peculiar one in the town. Quiet, but always the first one to help others when it was needed even if it wasn’t asked for. Jay also lived with his only brother since his parents died during a strong earthquake… He can’t imagine how what must be going on within the Gotsumon’s mind. While he was worried, he could at least put some of his worries to rest knowing that Jay would make sure that Camille and Yaya would stay safe

    “I-I-I d-don’t know,” Ratchet said, looking away nervously, causing Rhodo to narrow his eyes in worry.

    “Pavamana, marshal the men. We’re going to find them,” the mayor said, standing up and turning to them.

    “Don’t,” Tiwaz suddenly interrupted. “We’ll go find them,” he said, folding his arms and giving the Blastmon an look that said that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

    The Blastmon turned to him with an angry sneer. “You cannot stop me!” he growled. “My daughter is in there!”

    “And you are the mayor of this town,” Fenrir told him calmly. “If something happens to you, this town is going to be in danger.”

    “Not to mention the hazards you will expose your men into,” Cog added. “Your home would be in quite a lot of danger if they were to lose a few good men,” he said, turning to the crowd behind them.

    Rhodo grit his teeth, knowing that that they were right. “But still…my daughter!” he pleaded. “At the very least, let me go with you. I have to make sure she’s safe!”

    “No,” Pavamana told him, putting a reassuring and warm hand on his shoulder. “Bakhu town needs you,” he informed the Blastmon.

    “But-“

    I will go,” his best friend said with a small smile.

    “You?” Rhodo asked, his eyes widening. “No! I won’t allow i-“

    “Let me do this, Rhodo.” The PileVolcamon gave his friend a beseeching look. “Please. I will bring back your daughter. It’s the least I can do after-“

    “Stop, Pav,” the Blastmon said, his expression turning morose. “You know it wasn’t your fault,” he said in a soft voice.

    “Still,” the PileVolcamon said. “Trust in me.”

    The Blastmon frowned, and for that moment, he and Pavamana locked eyes, having a conversation that only the two of them could hear. And finally…

    “Very well. I trust you,” the mayor said, sighing and shaking his head. “Please…make sure she’s safe,” he said with sorrowful eyes.

    Pavamana gave him a small smile before turning to Tiwaz, Fenrir and Cogwej. “I hope you don’t mind,” he told them.

    “We’re not going to convince you otherwise?” Tiwaz asked with a raised eyebrow. Unlike the mayor, they didn’t have anything to persuade the blacksmith to change his mind. “Aren’t you the only blacksmith here?” he inquired with folded arms.

    “I am not,” Pavamana replied. “I have two apprentices; one has learned enough to become a capable smith without my help,” he told them as Rhodo gave him a peculiar look.

    “Well then, let’s get going!” Cogwej declared.

    After a moment, Fenrir nodded and turned to Ratchet. “Is the entrance in the direction you came from?”

    The Grumblemon shook his head a bit unsteadily. “Y-yeah, you can’t miss it,” he told them as he stood back on trembling legs. “You’re g-gonna save my friends, r-right?”

    Tiwaz put a hand on the Grumblemon’s head. “You bet we are, kid,” he said with certainty. “Now you should get back home to your mom and dad; they must be worried about you,” he told the Grumblemon, making him wince.

    “Don’t worry,” Rhodo said as he put his arm around the child. “I’ll personally bring him home to his parents myself,” he told them.

    “Uh…m-maybe I should g-go to the doc’s instead,” Ratchet muttered as the mayor brought him back to town, not feeling good with the idea of meeting his parents. He was positive he was in for a scolding combined with a grounding.

    “Well then, we’ve got no time to waste. Let’s go!” Tiwaz said as he hastily started for the entrance of the mines, Fenrir, Cogwej and Pavamana running after him him.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  3. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    "You awoke"

    "tiny smile"

    "partly"?

    "legless", I think

    "when her"

    "back, okay?"

    This was an good chapter. You're getting better at handling Pav, I noticed. The description was good and the kids had believable personalities. I like how Bakhu really feels like a real town with real people. It's reeeaaal!

    Hmm, the humour was good, but there wasn't so much that it overshadowed the dramatic parts. I'm curious as to what Fenrir and Cog talked about. And I also want to know what Pav was going to tell Tiwaz along with what the Spirit of Earth does aside from cause earthquakes. I'm pretty excited for the next chapter.

    I feel like there's more I wanted to say, but I'm blanking right now. It was well done though.
     
  4. Yeah, after a while, you get used to writing various personalities of different degrees after a while. You'll find out sooner or later. And that's what I try to do; try to make everything believable...I hope... >.<

    One, humor is still not my forte, so I guess that's good.

    Two, you'll have to wait with everyone else.

    Three, you'll find out in the next act (which will be up within the next week; thank goodness for no more midterms).

    ...okay.
     
  5. Not dead yet! I'm almost done with the next act; I'll post it within the next 24 hours if it's the last thing I'll do!

    PS: Don't hold me up to the "last thing I do" thing. >.<
     
  6. Act 3: Depths of the Earth

    Also Known As

    "How am I supposed to make you look substandard if you keep on making astonishing feats?"


    “Is this it?”

    Tiwaz’s voice rebounded against stone walls, echoing down the dirt and stone path where he and his companions would soon go down to rescue the three trapped children before another earthquake would hit. The path was poorly lit, lightened only by the oil lamps that dotted the walls every few meters. Debris of stone and wood littered the floor, but fortunately, none were too large that it obstructed their path.

    Beside him, Pavamana nodded, glancing at the two paths that lay before them. Jay had apparently broken down a wall that belonged to one of the mine’s main pathways.

    “Where do you think they went?” Tiwaz wondered as he went in. “The kid forgot to tell us which way to go,” he muttered, looking down one path that seemed endless.

    Behind him, Cogwej looked down at the ground before them. “It seems that we can’t follow any footsteps,” the Wisemon observed. Too many Digimon had passed through, creating too many trails that cross other trails. It was nearly impossible to follow one trail without getting lost in the others.

    “We need to hurry,” Pavamana told them, a strong sense of urgency in his voice.

    “This way.”

    The three looked to their last companion. Fenrir was facing down one path, his eyes closed and his nose in the air. He may not have been a Garurumon, but he had senses that rivaled one. “It’s faint, but fresh,” he told them, opening his eyes and turning to them.

    Tiwaz grinned at him. “Looks like you’re more of a mutt than I thought,” he said as he jogged past the Beowolfmon, causing the white knight to scowl at the dragon man. “Let’s go!”

    Fenrir sighed and kept his temper in check as Pavamana and Cogwej followed the EmperorGreymon. He raised an eyebrow when he spotted the Wisemon taking out one of his Space-Time Stones, and then a familiar runic bag from it. He quickly caught up with them, turning to the cloaked Digimon with a questioning look.

    “Would it not be serendipitous were we to find the Spirit of Earth during out search?” Cogwej asked with his carefree expression.

    “We prioritize the children,” Pavamana said before Fenrir could reply. His gaze was ever forward, searching for the children of his friends. Glancing at him, the Beowolfmon nodded in agreement.

    “Of course,” Cogwej said, suddenly sounding indignant. It was strange; Fenrir thought he would care more about the ancient relics. “What uses will my discoveries and breakthroughs be if I just let my future clientele expire?” he asked. Fenrir had to roll his eyes, but he decided that, at the very least, the Wisemon wouldn’t let innocent lives go to waste.

    “Dammit!” Tiwaz’s suddenly said, his curse rebounding off the walls in an echo.

    Fenrir furrowed his eyes; the EmperorGreymon had turned to a corner to part of the pathway where they couldn’t see. He was about to ask what was wrong, but the moment they turned, he didn’t need an answer from the dragon man; it was right in front of him.

    Fenrir gritted his teeth, looking at the wall of fallen boulders right in front of them. It was difficult to tell how thick it was from one side to the other, but it would take them hours to get through it by manual labor.

    “Hm…should we take the alternate route?” Cogwej suggested, turning back behind them.

    “We don’t know if it leads back to this path,” Fenrir told him, looking around.

    “And it may take too long,” Pavamana added, walking to the point where the boulders met the wall, looking for a crevice that he could use to look through.

    “I could probably blast through it,” Tiwaz suggested, putting a hand against one of the boulders that blocked their path.

    “Too dangerous,” Fenrir told him.

    Cogwej nodded. “Your haphazard attacks may very well cause the ceiling to fall upon us and the children; why, you’d be doing the aftershock’s job for it!” he said, looking at Tiwaz as if he were the most ignorant Digimon in the world. Said Digimon glared at him.

    “Just because I don’t hold back my blows doesn’t mean I can’t control my attacks,” Tiwaz said, growling.

    “Then it denotes a lack of discipline!” Cog told him, folding his arms.

    “No, it does not. Not holding back means I’m respecting my opponent’s ability!” the dragon defended himself, folding his own arms.

    “Not holding back means you’re aiming to annihilate your opponent, leaving nothing but ashes behind.”

    “I’m teaching them a lesson!”

    Fenrir growled, annoyed that their argument seems to be getting magnified by the echoes in the cavern. Between them and the tapping sound, he could barely think.

    ‘…tapping sound?’ Fenrir thought, blinking. He looked around, trying to detect it.

    Pavamana seemed to notice his sudden movement. “What is it?”

    “I can hear…something,” he replied with a focused expression. After a few seconds, he frowned and turned to the arguing Wisemon and EmperorGreymon. “Shut up already!” he ordered, snarling.

    At his sudden outburst, the duo stopped their argument. Cogwej blinked, while Tiwaz frowned at him. “What’s the big deal?” Tiwaz grumbled at him.

    “He’s hearing something,” Pavamana answered for the Beowolfmon.

    Cogwej tilted his head curiously. “Hearing…something?” he repeated before a captivated look encompassed his face. “You mean you’re hearing spirits of the dead!?” he asked in sudden glee. “You have to tell me what they’re saying! Are they here to help us? Or maybe they’re here to shower me with praises for my pie!” he rambled on, walking quickly towards the Beowolfmon.

    Tiwaz raised an eyebrow. “So what they say about dogs seeing spirits is true?” he asked, his hands on his hips.

    Cogwej turned to him. “Not seeing, hearing! There is an obvious difference, my ignorant friend.”

    “I am not ignorant!”

    Fenrir ignored them and walked closer to the boulders, placing a hand on them.

    “Well?” Pavamana asked him, walking beside him. It seemed that little could stop the two behind from arguing until the world ended.

    “Someone’s…behind this,” Fenrir told him, pressing his forehead against the cold stone. The vibrations were giving him a better idea of what was happening behind the boulders, but it was still generally vague.

    “Is it them?” the PileVolcamon asked with a concerned tone.

    “I’m not sure…but there’s definitely someone there,” Fenrir replied, stepping back.

    The PileVolcamon seemed to regard his words with a troubled silence, causing the Beowolfmon to turn to him with a curious gaze.

    “Stand back,” Pav then ordered calmly as he stepped backwards. Fenrir raised an eyebrow but did so.

    “Eh?” Tiwaz suddenly said as he noticed the PileVolcamon suddenly crouching on one knee. “What are you doing, Pav?” he asked, distracted from his argument with the Wisemon.

    “He’s crouching on the ground, of course,” Cogwej answered. “Tweezers, I thought you were sharper than that,” he said with a disappointed shake of his head.

    “What is it with you and getting on my case!?”

    “Shush,” Fenrir told them as smoke started to pour out of the PileVolcamon’s shoulder-mounted mini-volcanoes. Reluctantly, Tiwaz did so, but not before grabbing the old man beside him and covering his mouth with a metal hand to force him to stay quiet. At least he knew one way to shut the Wisemon up.

    As the drills on his shoulder-pads suddenly began to spin rapidly, the blacksmith then shouted, “Cammie! If you can hear me, get away from the wall!”

    He then pressed his arms against his chest and ducked his head, yelling, “Volcanic Driver!

    In one quick and fluid motion, he jumped forward and curled into a ball. Like a giant, spinning wrecking ball, he crashed into the boulder wall, digging right into it, causing stones and dust to get blasted behind him where the trio of Digimon waited. Both Tiwaz and Fenrir had been quick enough to raise their defenses just in time to stop from getting hit too badly by the pieces of stones that were being thrown at them. Cogwej, meanwhile, had hidden behind Tiwaz, who was closest to him at the time.

    Despite the cloud of dirt, sand and stone that floated in the air, Fenrir’s eyes were glued on Pavamana’s rolling form. He was particularly amazed. The PileVolcamon was spinning at just the right rate and exerting the right amount of pressure to drill a perfectly straight and smooth path forward, enough power to get through while keeping the ceiling from falling on him due to the force of his act. He wondered…was there more than meets the eye to Pavaman Suchi?

    In had only taken a minute or so for Pav to bore a hole right through the boulders. The loud sound of the PileVolcamon’s spinning form and drills ceased…followed by sudden cheerful squealing of the PileVolcamon’s name.

    “Is that them?” Tiwaz asked as he walked towards the path Pav created.

    “One way to find out,” Fenrir told him as she entered the hole and exited the other way, followed by Tiwaz and Cog.

    The trio found themselves looking at a rather heartwarming scene of a relieved Pavamana hugging a Tapirmon, who looked she was so relieved that she could cry.

    “Pav! It’s you! It’s you! I’m so glad it’s you!” the Tapirmon cried as the PileVolcamon spun her around.

    “And I’m glad you’re safe, Yaya,” Pav replied, pulling her away from him with a smile.

    “Ah! It’s the dream eater!” Cogwej suddenly announced happily! “Quickly, give her to me!” he said as he approached the Pav and Yaya. The Tapirmon froze at the sound of his voice before slowly turning her head at the Wisemon. Then she screamed.

    “Get away!” she yelled, rushing behind the large blacksmith, turning him into a wall that kept the crazy old geezer from capturing her.

    Tiwaz slapped his forehead, and Fenrir rolled his eyes. From a uplifting familial moment, the situation had turned into an ironically strange and comedic one that involved one freaked-out Tapirmon being chased by a science-driven maniac of a scientist around a confused blacksmith who was wondering if he missed something.

    “Okay, let’s stop this comedy skit,” Tiwaz said, going over and stepping on the Wisemon’s cloak, causing the brown-clothed Digimon to trip and fall on his face with a large thump. “Weren’t there supposed to be three kids in here?” he asked the Tapirmon hiding behind Pavamana.

    Yaya glanced at Pav real quick. The blacksmith gave her a tiny smile and nodded for her to answer. “Camille’s down that way,” the dream-eater Digimon said, pointing down a lit path. “She’s kind of, um…stuck,” she said with a sheepish smile.

    “Stuck?” Pavamana replied with a raised eyebrow.

    “Yeah…well, she kind of- um…you’ll see.” The Tapirmon then floated away with a worried expression. “I don’t know where Jay went, though,” she said, rubbing her hooves together nervously.

    “What about this path?” Fenrir’s voice interrupted. They turned to him to see that he was standing in front of an entrance that seemed to lead to a rather darkened path. There were no lights or posts. That meant one thing: it was a natural cave that had went undiscovered in the mines. Pavamana frowned; it must’ve been formed in the recent quakes.

    “Well, it’s very probable that the child went entered that path. If he hadn’t been crushed by falling debris,” Cogwej noted, folding his arms and causing Tiwaz to glare at his tactlessness.

    “He’s not dead,” Pavamana said with certainty. He just…knew it. Jay was alive.

    “Well then, we have only one option,” Tiwaz said, turning to the rest. “We split up. Two of us go with the Tapimon and get Cammie unstuck, while the me and the someone else go find the other kid,” he said. “The place is dark as hell, and I can light the way with my fire,” he said, conjuring a fireball in his hand and causing Yaya to cringe in surprise.

    Yaya was staring at the dragon man wide eyed. Pavamana himself was looking at him curiously, though he kept silent. And then he stepped forward. “I’m going with you,” he stated.

    “What? But Pav-“

    The PileVolcamon interrupted her with a look. “Jay doesn’t know them. He knows me. He trusts me. I have to find him,” he told her softly, patting her head gently.

    “But…Cammie…”

    “Oh, I’m certain she’ll recognize us,” Cogwej said with a carefree expression. “She had seen us the day before, I believe.”

    The Tapirmon looked at him in mild despair. She did not want to be in the Wisemon’s presence. She looked to her side when a hand was placed on her head…Fenrir’s.

    He gave her a reassuring look and a nod. “I’ll keep them safe,” he said, turning to Pavamana. The blacksmith gave him a tiny grateful smile.

    “It’s decided then?” Tiwaz said, looking at each them. “Then let’s go! We’re wasting time standing around here.”

    -​

    “C’mon, hurry!” Yaya called out to the Cogwej and Fenrir behind her, feeling not at all comfortable that the Wisemone was one of the two. She could have lived her life quite happily if she were never to see him again, but if he could help her get her friends out of the mines safely, then she could endure his presence for a little longer…as long as he didn’t bring out the giant glass jar again.

    “Are we close?” Fenrir asked, running and jumping over pieces of debris with the ease of an experienced warrior.

    “Shouldn’t be that much farther. I think I can hear Cammie singing,” the Tapirmonmon told him, tilting her head as she floated over that which Fenrir and Cogwej had to dodge.

    “I simply cannot fathom why your Armazillamon friend would sing in such a portentous situation,” Cogwej said out loud as he kept up with the two.

    “She’s an Armadillomon!” Yaya told him with a frown. She had already noticed that the Wisemon had an unusual knack or butchering names. Well, it was a good thing to her; that meant he’d never find her using her name. She shuddered at the possibility.

    “And she’s singing because she’s bored,” she answered him, turning back to where it was coming from. “She…she does it to calm herself down. You know, like when someone counts from one to ten while taking deep breaths,” she added a bit hesitantly.

    Fenrir had already found that out a few minutes ago the moment he detected the young Digimon’s singing voice.

    “There would have been no need to calm herself down had she been a good little girl and stayed home in the benign domicile of her home,” Cogwej noted with a nod of his head. “Why, if I were in her place, I would never leave home!” Fenrir kept his thoughts to himself when those words were said. He could honestly believe that if the Wisemon were, it would have only been because of the food that seemed endless.

    “Ugh, I wouldn’t expect a perverted old man to understand,” Yaya said, pouting.

    “Perverted old man!?” the perverted old man said, not making any effort to disguise his indignation.

    Fenrir rolled his eyes as the Wisemon started to rant, using words far too long and too complex for both he and the child beside him to understand. If Cogwej took offense to everyone that insulted or upset him, then they would spend too much time in too many towns…and would probably gain unwanted attention that would delay them even longer. The Beowolfmon sighed and shook his head.

    He slowed his pace down as soon as the singing voice grew louder. He turned at one last corner before finding himself face to face with a tired looking front half of an Armadillomon. She was definitely stuck between the stones and boulders; the same one that Jay and Ratchet must have gone through, though it seemed to have gotten smaller if it couldn’t fit the Armadillomon anymore.

    “Ah…someone’s here,” the quadruped Digimon noted as she flailed her front legs at them with a sheepish expression.

    “Camille! Are you doing okay?” Yaya asked in concern as she floated over to press a hoof against one of Cammie’s front feet.

    “Nah…you know me…I’m peachy keen…no matter what situation I’m in,” she replied in a not-so-convincing voice. In fact, by the suppressed strained tone, Fenrir suspected that she was slowly getting crushed by the boulder on top of her…which meant her life was in bigger danger than they previously thought.

    “Camille,” he called out to her in a calm voice as he approached her.

    “Ah…you’re Uncle Pav’s friend,” she noted, turning to him. The closer that Fenrir got, the more he could hear her slightly labored breathing. Despite that, he kept himself cool and placed a hand against the boulder on top of her.

    “He was there too,” Yaya told her, rubbing her hooves together. “But he went with another guy to go find Jay. He didn’t make it out with Ratchet,” she said with a worried grimace.

    “…That’s bad.” The armadillo Digimon frowned, concerned for her friend and feeling guilty for having put him in the situation in the first place.

    “Fret not, young lady!” Cog’s voice called out from the side where he was meticulously picking at small rocks and loose stones that caused some of the larger boulders to fall away to the side, away from where she was.

    “Our dear friend Waraz and your uncle Lavamagma will indubitably find your companion safe and sound!” he told her in a confident voice. “Now if you please, Fallwear, I require you to detach this rather heavy piece of fallen earth so as to liberate the young Cameron,” he told the Beowolfmon, patting a large rock.

    The trio looked at him strangely. Yaya because she didn’t expect something like that to come from his mouth. Cammie because she was surprised to hear that from a complete stranger. And Fenrir for the reason that Cogwej was somehow able to lessen the pressure that was on Camille through analysis of the placing of the boulders; he could hear it in her less strained voice.

    Seeing as Cog seemed to have the right idea, he did so, walking over and giving Cogwej a quick glance, who pointed to more boulders that needed to be pulled out in a specific order.

    “I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson today, young lady,” the old man then said, turning to the two children. “Playing around in a dark and dreary grotto such as this is very dangerous. You have caused your parents quite a sizable amount of anxiety,” he said, folding his arms and nodding. Fenrir kept himself from rolling his eyes; he suspected that it would have been quite like Cogwej to ‘play’ in such a place were it something he needed or wanted to do.

    Camille couldn’t help but wince and look down at the ground. “Sorry…”

    “It’s not her fault!” Yaya said, coming between them. “Cammie- no, all of us just wanted to help!”

    Cogwej blinked. “Help?”

    Camille looked at her friend in surprise. “Yaya…”

    “We only wanted the earthquakes to stop! We didn’t want anyone else to get hurt anymore! Or- or- or worse!” the Tapirmon told him with a serious expression.

    Cogwej tilted his head. Fenrir, however, spoke up. “You heard what we were talking about yesterday,” he said, glancing at Camille, who nodded a bit contritely.

    “It’s not like you were talking about anything secret. I mean, you all were just talking right in front of me,” she said slowly. “I just…didn’t want my dad to feel so bad anymore…”

    “Your father?” Cogwej asked.

    “…Momma died in an earthquake. Every time one happens, daddy gets so…so agitated…and so sad,” Cammie revealed, rubbing her paws together. “Uncle Pav, too…he was really close with her and daddy…”

    “Oooooh, I see,” Cogwej said, nodding. As he did so, the boulders beside Cammie suddenly started rumbling before harmlessly falling over to one side, none hitting her or crushing her at all.

    “I-I’m free!” the Armadillomon exclaimed in relief, although not standing.

    “You would have caused them much more pain if you got hurt here,” Fenrir’s voice called out, having taken out the last boulder. “Would you have wanted that?” he asked, turning to her with a serious expression.

    Cammie bit her lips nervously. “No, but…”

    “Whether you have a reason or otherwise, you still put yourself in danger,” the Beowolfmon said, taking her under his arm.

    “…I’m sorry,” the Armadillomon muttered.

    “Me too,” Yaya voiced out, floating close to them. “I should have tried to stop them harder.”

    “It’s not me you should be apologizing,” Fenrir told them as he started to walk back.

    “I know,” Cammie said, thinking about her father. “But…at least let me say thank you,” she said, turning up at him. “I don’t know how long I would have been stuck down there if you and him didn’t come around.”

    “Personally, I could have dealt without the crazy person,” Yaya whispered, making sure to look behind her to where Cogwej was so as to confirm that he wasn’t trying to capture her now that her friend was safe and sound.

    “Perhaps, but this would not gone so smoothly had he not been here,” Fenrir told them.

    “…I’m sorry, but I can’t take you seriously when the person you’re talking about is walking so strangely while carrying a glowing sack,” the Tapirmon said, sighing.

    “He’s…what?” Fenrir asked, turning over his shoulder to confirm what she said. And just as she stated, the Wisemon was wagging in a zigzag pattern, carrying the runic bag that carried the spirits in front of him with the opening slightly gaping. “Cogwej…”

    The Wisemon turned to him, his eyes gleaming in excitement. “It’s close! The Spirit of Earth is close!” he said eagerly. “Perhaps within a mile!”

    “A…mile?” Fenrir repeated, wondering what Cogwej considered far.

    “This is /the/ closest I have ever been to the Spirit of Earth in three months! It is simply exhilarating!”

    The Beowolfmon blinked. At the very least, a thousand meters wasn’t that long. They could probably find it within a few hours, but they needed to bring the children to safety first. “The children come first, Cogwej.”

    “I am aware. Just give me a few seconds to take note of out-“

    “Cogwej!” Fenrir suddenly cut him off, turning his head around. There was a slight shaking.

    “W-what’s up?” Cammie asked, turning to him and pouting when he shushed her. She didn’t notice the pebbles underneath begin to tremble.

    “Do you feel that…?” Fenrir asked, glancing at Cogwej. The Wisemon tilted his head and closed his eyes, making an audible humming sound. His humming was soon getting drowned out by the sound of shaking earth.

    “O-oh no!” Yaya commented, fluttering about nervously. “This is bad!” she exclaimed just as the shaking reached great intensity. “Another earthquake!”

    Fenrir’s eyes darted for a place to cover. Grimacing when he could find none, he quickly crouched, protecting Camille with his armored body from the pieces of stone that began to fall on their heads. He gritted his teeth and raised his head, calling out the Tapirmon’s name.

    “O-over here!” her voice called out.

    The wolf warrior looked behind him, and to his surprise, she saw her hovering beside Cogwej, who had taken out his book and expanded it to the size of an umbrella. He suspended the book over them, effectively protecting them from falling debris, although it didn’t seem like it could defend them from anything bigger than the grimoire.

    “Rerfen!” Cogwej called out. “This is not usual seismic activity!” he called out as pieces of rock disappeared inside his book.

    Fenrir frowned. “Then what is it!?”

    “Something may be-“

    His voice was cut off by the sudden breaking of the stone wall behind him, followed by a large, black foot that thundered and caused the ground to shake. The four turned behind them to see what it was before Cogwej turned back, seemingly unperturbed.

    “As I was saying, something gargantuan and formidable may have been digging a hole through the granite rock, such as the creature behind me,” he finished, nodding to himself.

    “No kidding!” Yaya interrupted him as she stared at the large, black body and arms that followed the leg. She proceeded to scream when the three-clawed, two-horned, iron-helmeted, red-winged and one-eyed Ghoulmon turned to her.

    “I…found…you…!” the beastly Digimon bellowed monstrously, pointing an open palm at Cogwej and Yaya, letting them see the yellow eye embedded in its palm.

    Gross!” the Tapirmon exclaimed, cringing back and unaware of the malevolent red light that began to gather in front of the eye.

    Death Arrow!” On command, the bright red light was absorbed into the eye before it was shot towards them, turning into a red arrow that sparked and pulsed with raw power.

    “Cogwej!” Fenrir called out, unable to get in front of it in time with Cammie still in his arms.

    To his surprise, however, Cogwej summoned his Time-Space Stones in front of him, the red sphere intercepting the arrow. Instead of an explosion was bright, white light that lit up the whole cavern for one second. “Pandora Dialogue,” Cogwej’s voice said through the light as it died down.

    Then the orange Time-Space Stone flashed, albeit not as bright as the first one, and the red arrow shot out of it…right between the heads of Cogwej and Yaya, embedding itself in the ground behind them before creating a small explosion that caused dust to fly in all directions.

    The Tapirmon trembled before turning to the Wisemon. “You almost killed us, you crazily old man!

    Cogwej, however, simply took out his notebook. “It seems that the entry and exit points of the Time-Space Stones have shifted in the last three months. Between a hundred fifty and two hundred degrees in direction, distance has lengthened by-“

    “Cog! Get out of there!”

    The Wisemon blinked and turned to the Beowolfmon, noticing that the Tapirmon that had been beside him was now beside the wolf man.

    Behind you!

    Death Arrow!

    The cloaked Digimon needed no more coaxing; he immediately started to run in their direction just as the red arrow stabbed the ground a few feet away, subsequently exploding. The Wisemon was close enough for the resulting shockwave to blow him forward before getting skidding to a stop in front of Fenrir’s feet. “We should flee, yes?” he then said, glancing up at him.

    “Yes.” Fenrir grabbed him the back of his hood and pulled him to his feet before proceeding to do just that, grabbing Yaya with his other arm to have both children with him.

    “Get…back…here…Wisemon!” the Ghoulmon commanded as he stomped over them, impeded by the small cavern. He pointed his palm at them again, shooting a rain of his death arrows at their trail. Whether it was pure luck or by skill, the four continued to evade getting seriously struck by the arrows or their explosions.

    As they got closer and closer to the point where he and Cog split up with Tiwaz and Pav, it was getting much clearer to Fenrir that the Ghoulmon was aiming only at Wisemon, which meant it was a Digimon that either wanted to capture him for the Spirits or wanted him dead. Neither options were good, but he couldn’t protect Cogwej and the children at the same time, especially in such a cramped space.

    “We’re getting close to the town!” Yaya noted, happiness and relief in her voice.

    “No!” Cammie then said, her own voice filled with worry and fear. “We can’t let it into the town! It’ll destroy everything!” The Tapirmon turned to her with realization, her facial expression turning into one of great fear. She didn’t want her home to be destroyed. “Wh-what can we do?”

    “Elementary. I lead this monstrous brute away whilst our dear Viowolfmon friend brings both of you back to safety. After all, it does not take someone of high intellect such as I to comprehend what this Ghastmon is after,” Cogwej told them in a voice that spoke as if he were telling them he was going out to go buy milk in a nearby convenience store.

    “What!?” Fenrir turned to him in shock.

    “The children come first, correct?” the Wisemon told him with an innocent expression. “Then I shall locate Tipaz and Wavamana. I should hope that you return momentarily. Til’ we meet again!” Cogwej exclaimed before taking a sharp turn at the corner and scuttling to where their EmperorGreymon and PileVolcamon companions went.

    Then the Ghoulmon behind them roared in anger. “Where…are you…going!?” it bellowed, turning to follow the Wisemon.

    Fenrir turned back to them, gritting his teeth. “Damn,” he cursed once more before retreating to the town.

    -​

    “Jameson!”

    After a moment of silence, Tiwaz gave an audible sound of annoyance, a sphere of fire in his hand flaring slightly in sync with his irritation. “I’m starting to think the kid didn’t go down this way,” he said as he led them deeper into the newly uncovered path, lighting up the way with his fire.

    “He’s here,” Pavaman told him resolutely. “He has to be.”

    “Just how deep does this trail go?” Tiwaz muttered, glancing at the walls every now and then to see if there were any more new paths to inspect.

    The blacksmith sighed and shook his head. Tiwaz wasn’t the only one who was getting affected by the seemingly endless path before them. He turned the dragon man, glancing at the fireball over his palm. “You’re…not an ordinary Digimon, are you?” he asked.

    “Huh? Me?” Tiwaz repeated, blinking. “I guess you could say that,” he replied, looking back at his front.

    “…I couldn’t smith your sword,” Pavamana revealed, following him.

    “…What?” The EmperorGreymon stopped in his tracks to look at the PileVolcamon. “What do you mean you couldn’t smith my sword? And what does me being not being ordinary have to do with it.”

    “My…my furnace isn’t enough. Your weapon was engulfed in incredible heat,” he explained. “Too hot for normal beings. That too,” he added, glancing at the flame in his hand.

    “…Oh,” Tiwaz replied, scratching the back of his head with his free hand. “Well, it’s not like I’m keeping it a secret. Do you know about gods, Pav?” he asked.

    Pavamana regarded him with short silence. “A little bit. Digimon with inconceivable power.”

    “Would you believe I’m one of them?” Tiwaz asked, looking at him closely.

    For a moment, Pavamana stayed silent. “Of fire,” Pavamana clarified.

    “I guess that was obvious, eh?” the dragon man said, flaring up the sphere for a few seconds, causing the shadows of stones and crags to dance around them. “Hope this doesn’t mean you’ll start looking at me like I’m some freak.”

    The PileVolcamon shook his head and gave him a slight smile. “No. It’s…reassuring to know I have a god on my side,” he told his current companion. “And I will need your help to fix your sword.”

    “That’s great! Well then, now that that’s settled, let’s get going,” Tiwaz said, turning back to their path and walking forward, a lighter spring in his step and a grin. Pavamana gave him a slightly wider smile and followed him.

    “So, this Jay kid,” Tiwaz then said. “What is he to you?” he asked.

    “My…apprentices,” Pav answered.

    “Oh, right. You said you had a couple of them. Who are the rest?”

    The blacksmith nodded. “Jay’s older brother. Kayle.”

    “I’m guessing he’s the capable one. Does he know that his brother’s in here?”

    A shake of the head. “Not in town.”

    “Where is he?”

    “Another town. I needed new materials. And a new hammer.”

    “What’s wrong with that one?” Tiwaz asked, looking at at the blacksmith’s hammer suspended by a wire around his waist. It didn’t look like it was any worse for wear. In fact, to him, it looked many times better than the usual that he’s seen.

    “Nothing.”

    Tiwaz furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “Then why do you need a new hammer?”

    Pavamana smiled. “It’s not for me.”

    “Oh, I see. Making your apprentice choose the hammer that he thinks for you, and then tell him it’s actually his,” Tiwaz said, grinning. “Clever.”

    Pavamana returned the grin with a soft smile. “And just in time, as well.”

    “Just in time for wha-“

    Tiwaz stopped what he was about to say the moment he turned at the corner where the path was suddenly filled with light. “What in the-“

    “Jameson!” Pavamana called out, rushing past the EmperorGreymon towards a short, humanoid figure many meters in front of them.

    The figure turned and looked back at them. “Chief…?” he asked, recognizing the familiar voice. He had barely said the word before he was suddenly swept into the arms of his mentor.

    “You’re all right…thank goodness,” Pavamana muttered, holding the Gotsumon close.

    “Chief…you’re here,” Jay noted after being put back down.

    “We were worried,” Pav told him, putting a warm hand on top of the rock Digimon’s head.

    Tiwaz walked over to them. “And now that we found you, that means all the children have been found,” he said, a large grin painted on his face.

    “Cammie and Yaya?” Jay asked with a small tilt of the head. Pavamana nodded with a small smile, prompting the Gotsumon to give his own tiny smile. Tiwaz looked between them.

    “He really is your apprentice. Both of you are so quiet,” Tiwaz noted, folding his arms. “So how about we go back and bring the kid home?”

    Pavamana nodded, but then both he and Tiwaz heard a rather loud, “No!” They turned to the Gotsumon.

    “Jay?” Pavamana asked with a small frown.

    “Something…is here,” he told them with a rather reluctant expression. “It’s…calling me… I need to…find it,” he said, looking to where the light was coming from, prompting the other two to look as well. Now that Tiwaz had a better and closer look, the light was coming from another part of the cavern at the end of the path. It looked like it had a lot more space than a pathway.

    “That light,” Pav muttered, his eyebrows furrowing.

    “What about it?” Tiwaz asked, turning to him.

    “It’s not sunlight…we’re too deep,” the blacksmith said, folding his arms and feeling a bit unnerved. Tiwaz, however, had his curiosity piqued.

    “Then let’s go check it out!” the dragon man said a bit excitedly, walking over to the entrance and quickly followed by Jay. Pavamana frowned; he wondered if it was only him feeling the strange pit in his stomach. He sighed and hoped that it was only him, and then he followed the two into the bigger chamber.

    Tiwaz stopped the moment he stepped out of the path and into the new room. His eyes went wide as feeling shock enter his system. Jay, meanwhile, let out an unrestrained woah sound.

    The EmperorGreymon didn’t have to be an expert in caves to know that the room he was in was abnormal. The chamber was definitely spacious, about the size of the plaza in Bakhu Town. The stone floor was even and level without any sign of a mound of stone, fallen debris or stalagmites. They stretched out towards the sides of the chamber, curving to form eerily smooth, concave walls, the only forms of disproportion being the large orifices that provided entrance and exit to the chamber, just like the one that he and the other two came from. The ceiling itself formed a dome over their heads. The clincher was the cylinder platform that curved upwards at the center of the room, evening out to a parallel surface to the floor. On it was a figurine that Tiwaz was certain he was looking for.

    “Well, by Buri, what are the chances?” he muttered, a grin slowly forming on his face. He was feeling pretty lucky that moment.

    “Tiwaz?”

    The dragon man turned to look behind him, his grin reaching its full-blown state. “Got good news for ya, Pav. It looks like me, the dog and the old man won’t have to freeload any longer. We just found your problem.”

    The PileVolcamon blinked and turned to what had previously held his attention. “It’s here…”

    Tiwaz nodded, folding his arms. “The Spirit of Earth,” he said, turning back to it just in time to see that Jay had walked over and was reaching for it. The EmperorGreymon’s eyes widened, and he shouted, “Kid! Don’t touch it!”

    Jay turned his head just as his fingers wrapped themselves around the artifact. He gave a blink just as Tiwaz ran for him and shouted a resounding, “No!”

    The EmperorGreymon slowed down as he got closer, his expression turning from one of desperation turning into one of confusion. “You…you’re not…”

    “Not…what?” Jay asked, tilting his head in confusion.

    “Not…bursting into flames? Or getting attacked by floating rocks? Or something?” Tiwaz tried, frowning and folding his arms, a bit put off. Maybe he wasn’t so lucky after all.

    Pavamana grimaced. “What?” he asked, beside Tiwaz.

    “These things are supposed to have a defense mechanism or something. The last time I tried holding one of those, I was almost burnt to a crisp, which is saying something considering what I am,” he said, causing Pavamana to turn to Jay. “Couldn’t even let it go.”

    “Jay! Put that down now!” he ordered, his eyebrows furrowed in worry. Jay, however, frowned.

    “I’m fine,” he told them. He even let go of the relic and showed them his hands in emphasis. “See?” Despite that, his blacksmith mentor still pulled him close

    “Hm. Guess this one doesn’t have one,” Tiwaz noted as he turned back to the relic, getting a better look at it.

    It had eight sided platform looked like rough concrete, complete with the occasional embedded multi-colored gem on the visible surface. The gems could be seen glowing faintly, one occasionally flashing a bit brighter than the rest. Situated on the platform’s center and taking up most of the space was a brick-red spherical comet-like object that had craters all around it. On the top of it was a cone shaped protrusion with a crater on its highest point. Each crater had a glowing rim, accompanied by glowing, erratic lines that connected each crater to each other, giving the impression of an active volcano that was about to erupt any minute. On each side of the comet were bulky arms bend forwards as if to fold them. Each arm had a number of ash-colored bands around them, and they ended with large, stony fists. Finally, at the front of a comet was a spherical projection with two gold gems for eyes and a pair of amber horns akin to those of a bull.

    “In any case, it definitely looks like one,” the dragon man noted, debating whether to reach out and grab it so that he didn’t have to bring Cogwej all the way back in. Or…

    “Hey, Jay, right?” he asked, turning to the young child that seemed to be immune to the relic’s dangerous defense mechanism. “Think you can hold onto that thing until we find a fr- er, acquaintance of mine?” he asked, rubbing the back of his neck.

    The Gotsumon answered with a grin and a nod of his head. Pavamana, however, frowned. If it was as dangerous as he thought, he didn’t want his apprentice holding it. Before he could voice out his worries, however, there was a sudden tremble that struck the room.

    “What the?” Tiwaz wondered, looking around.

    “That…does not sound good,” Pavamana muttered, the pit in his stomach growing deeper. “Stay close, Jay.”

    The Gotsumon didn’t hesitate to follow orders, holding onto a handful of the PileVolcamon’s pants as another tremble shook the room.

    (next post)
     
  7. Tiwaz then frowned. “Does anyone else hear something other than the shaking?”

    “Ha! In such a restricted space, I highly doubt your inferior and horribly dreadful aim in this dim light can ever aspire to hit m- by the mercy of the Akashic Records, did you just burn a hole through my cloak!?” The voice was then followed by an explosion that once again rocked the room, causing a bit of the roof to break away.

    “…of all the people, did it have to be him!?” Tiwaz growled, reaching for his Dragon Soul Sword. “Protect the kid, Pav. Looks like something’s big coming out way.”

    Just as he finished his sentence, a familiar, harried-looking Wisemon shot out of the entrance they came through, looking like he hadn’t seen them, and then turned back. “Ha! With your grotesquely gargantuan size, I doubt that you can fit through-“

    The entrance suddenly fell apart, being made larger by the very Digimon that Tiwaz recognized as the one that destroyed the Wisemon’s former cabin.

    “Oh dear,” Cogwej said, folding his arms and tilting his head. “How am I supposed to make you look substandard if you keep on making astonishing feats?”

    “Stupid…hermit!” the Ghoulmon growled, pointing his palm at him.

    “Cogwej, get down! Dragonfire Crossbow!

    “Teepaz? Is that- gaaaah!”

    The Crazy Old Geezer promptly dropped to the ground just as a blazing lance suddenly shot past him, slamming into the Ghoulmon before bursting into large flames and causing the black Digimon to flinch backwards, roaring in pain. This gave Tiwaz enough time to rush over and grab Cogwej and drag him far enough that he wouldn’t get hit in the crossfire.

    “What did you do, Cog!?” Tiwaz yelled in frustration.

    “I did nothing whatsoever!” Cogwej replied indignantly, folding his arms. He didn’t quite look so dignified, however, being dragged along the ground.

    Wisemon!” the Ghoulmon roared, smashing the wall behind him as he recovered from Tiwaz’s attack.

    “Then why is that monster after you!?”

    “I can’t comprehend ever doing anything to it! I can’t even remember ever meeting such a monstrous mongrel!”

    “You can’t even remember your own name!”

    Their argument was cut short by a sudden explosion behind them, causing both to fly forwards and roll on the ground.

    “Damn it…gotta get rid of the nuisance first,” Tiwaz grumbled as he stood back up, brandishing his broadsword. He charged at the Ghoulmon, flames gathering around the Dragon Soul Sword.

    Cogwej, meanwhile, had landed in front of Pavamana and Jay, the latter of the two poking him with a stone finger. “Cogwej, are you well?” the blacksmith asked, pulling him to his feet.

    “Hmm…” The Wisemon took his time to look himself over. “Well, my cloak is quite dusty now, and all that running has made me rather peckish, but I believe I am quite unharmed,” he then said, looking at Pavamana with a wide smile.

    “That’s good…?” Pavamana replied, unsure how to properly react at the Wisemon’s merry tone and expression in their current situation.

    With Cogwej standing, he could finally see the artifact behind the PileVolcamon and the Gotsumon. His eyes widened in excitement. “That’s it!

    Before Pavamana could even blink, Cog had already dashed past him and was in front of the relic, admiring it with his hands hovering over it. “How incredibly fortuitous!” he said, his fingers twitching, wanting to grab onto it. “I wonder what kind of protective measure it has.”

    “It doesn’t.”

    Cogwej turned back to him. “Come again?”

    “I touched it. Nothing happened,” Jay told the Wisemon, blinking when the hermit turned to him with a great amount of surprise.

    “Are you extremely, positively certain!?”

    Jay nodded quickly in reply, shocked at Cog’s excitement.

    “Oh goodie! That means I can-“ His word were interrupted just as he was about to place his hands on the artifact.

    Explosion Eye!

    Without even thinking about it, Pavamana grabbed Jay and Cogwej and jumped out of the way. Cogwej let out a wail when, a few moments later, the pedestal that the relic was blasted into smithereens by a stray, deep crimson beam of destruction, causing the Spirit of Earth to get covered in black smoke. The strong explosion also caused debris to fall around them, much to Cogwej’s dismay.

    “The artifact!” Cogwej moaned as he scrambled to his feet.

    “You’ll find it again,” Pavamana told him as he did the same, pulling Jay up. “Find a place to hide,” he told the Gotsumon as he clenched his fists. It looked like Tiwaz couldn’t handle the large creature alone. “We need to get rid of that first.”

    “But the artifact!”

    “Later,” Pavamana told him as he went to Tiwaz’s aid.

    “Wish it wasn’t so hard trying to make something as big and ugly as you fall,” Tiwaz growled, barely standing his own using the broad side of his sword against a clawed hand that was trying to smash him into the ground. And then the center palm of the claw hand started to glow bright red. “Oh shit.”

    Diamond Fist!

    The call was accompanied by Pavamana’s form making an upper cut with a glowing arm on the Ghoulmon’s wrist, making the ghoul Digimon cry out in pain as his hand was directed upwards to the ceiling just as its Death Arrow was fired, causing the room to shake once more.

    “Are you okay?” Pavamana asked, jumped away from black Digimon to beside Tiwaz, who was panting.

    “I’m good; thanks for the support,” the EmperorGreymon replied.

    He then dashed towards the Ghoulmon. He jumped from boulder to boulder that fell from the ceiling and obstructed his path, and then he leaped into the air just as it swung its claws at him. “See if you like it! Take this, ugly!”

    His sword ablaze with godly fire, Tiwaz crashed down on the Ghoulmon’s helmeted head. The impact created a small-scale explosion that blew the dragon man back to the ground.

    “Let’s see how you stood against that!” he demanded, landing on his feet and skidding backwards.

    The smoke created from his attack soon dissipated enough for Tiwaz to see just how much damage he did to the much larger Digimon. He gave out a loud curse in disbelief, finding that his attack had only succeeded in denting the Ghoulmon’s helmet.

    “You made it angry,” Pavamana noted beside him, his shoulder drills spinning rapidly as the Ghoulmon roared.

    “Bah! The geezer already made it angry,” the EmperorGreymon told him, glancing around for something that would give him a better advantage. Before he could find one, their enemy gave out a louder, enraged roar and charged at them.

    Tiwaz snarled, about to charge right back, but Pavamana stopped him him. “Allow me,” he told the fire god before he took a crouching position. He looked like a linebacker about to charge headlong into opponent lines, and in a way, he was.

    Volcanic Driver!

    In a span of a second, the PileVolcamon had stepped forward and used the momentum to curl into a ball, rolling with incredible speed towards the charging Ghoulmon. Unlike the last time Tiwaz saw the technique in action, there was an aura or sense of unrestrained power that emanated from the rolling body. It made him sure of one thing; he was glad that he wasn’t at the receiving end of that attack.

    The demon Digimon was unable to react in time to avoid or defend against the attack, and it struck him right below its center. Perhaps what surprised both Tiwaz and the Ghoulmon the most was the sheer strength of the attack that caused the latter to fall forward, its lower body getting blown off ground for a few, incredible seconds.

    Tiwaz had to retreat back to avoid getting crushed underneath the large Digimon. Pav, meanwhile, had rolled safely behind his foe, unrolling himself and looking none the worse for wear.

    The EmperorGreymon gave him a wide, impressed grin. “You’re a lot stronger than you make yourself look, blacksmith!”

    Pav returned it with an acknowledging nod, narrowing his eyes when he spotted movement. “It’s not over yet!” he yelled at Tiwaz.

    The Ghoulmon, although having taken some damage from the attack and its fall, had enough time to leave one arm facing its front, tight towards the EmperorGreymon.

    Death Arrow!

    The attack was too close for Tiwaz to dodge, and the dragon man was sent flying backwards by the blast. Amazingly, the dragon man was still able to hold onto his large weapon by sheer willpower.

    He collided painfully with a stone wall, leaving his draconic imprint on it before falling down on the ground…in front of Cogwej.

    “Have you decided to assist me in searching for the Spirit of Earth?”

    Tiwaz couldn’t help but let out a growl. “I’ve got bigger problems right n-!”

    “Bigger problems?” What could be bigger than the possible unrestrained release of power made by- gwa!”

    Before he could finish his sentence, the EmperorGreymon grabbed the smaller Digimon by the waist, sprinting to the side just as the Ghoulmon, who had stood back up, let out a monstrous roar. “Destruction Eye!

    The scarlet ray blasted the stone wall behind them, completely obliterating it and causing rubble to fall precariously over the smaller occupants’ heads.

    “Ah! Look at what you did!” Cogwej ranted, turning his head to the demon Digimon and pointing at it accusingly. “Now I have to search all over again!”

    Death Arrow!

    Amidst the explosions that occurred around him and thankfully not on him, Tiwaz let out a curse. He was finding his concentration at its limit, having to hold onto Cogwej and his weapon, to see where he was going, to avoid attacks and falling debris, all at the same time. He didn’t even have enough time to think of a plan of attack.

    “Tiwaz, watch out!” Pavamana’s loud voice suddenly called out, making the dragon man turn his head just in time to see one of the Death Arrows shooting straight at him.

    “Shit!”

    Tiwaz threw Cogwej away from him and brought his sword to block against the attack. Despite Tiwaz’s efforts, the arrow detonated upon impact, the ensuing blast closing the short distance between Tiwaz and the wall. With a grunt of pain, Tiwaz let go of his weapon and fell back on the ground.

    “Ti- graaah!”

    Just as Pavamana was about to come to the EmprorGreymon’s aid, the Ghoulmon did a swift turn, slamming its tail on the PileVolcamon’s back and sending him in the air before crashing back into the ground, a few feet away from Tiwaz.

    “Such brutish actions,” Cogwej muttered as he stood up from where Tiwaz threw him, dusting himself off. “I should really teach that KingGreymon some manners; doesn’t he know it’s rude to lob someone in his arms without warning?”

    Wise…mon…!” the Ghoulmon’s groaning voice called out, causing the only Wisemon in the room to turn to it.

    “Oh? Have you decided to negotiate?” Cogwej said hopefully, putting his hands together. The Ghoulmon let out a hostile growl, stomping towards him slowly. “I will assume that is a negative response,” the Wisemon noted, folding his arms.

    Explosion E-

    “Hey, ugly!”

    The Ghoulmon and the Wisemon turned to face the voice. The former let out a growl of anger, while the latter let out a cry of extreme happiness. In front of their eyes was Jay the Gotsumon, raising the Spirit of Earth in the air for both of them to see.

    “Wonder of wonders! You found it!” Cogwej exclaimed happily, scampering towards the mineral Digimon. However, just as he did so, so did the Ghoulmon, turning a palm at the Gotsumon.

    Death Arrow!

    Jay let out a gasp, pulling the artifact close to him and wincing tightly as a flash of bright red shot towards him. He waited for the incoming attack. And waited. And waited. But it didn’t come. He opened his eyes tentatively, and he blinked when he saw a red sphere in front of him.

    Pandora Dialogue,” Cog’s voice said calmly.

    Another bright flash filled the room, and then the scarlet arrow that had been trapped inside the red Time-Sphere Stone shot outside its orange counterpart, which was right in front of Cogwej, right towards the Ghoulmon’s back. The Ghoulmon wailed in pain from its own attack.

    “I am quite sorry, but I simply cannot allow you to harm the child or the object in his hands,” he told the Ghoulmon, nodding to himself.

    Instead of replying, the Ghoulmon roared and pointed one palm to each of them, causing the Wisemon to frown a bit. His Pandora Dialogue technique could only capture and redirect one attack at a time. He wouldn’t be able to protect both himself and Jay at the same time. But before the Ghoulmon could fire off its attacks, two voices resounded in the room.

    Cleansing Light!

    Diamond Machine Gun!

    Letting out a wail of pain, rays, missiles and extremely hard gems collided with its back, the large Ghoulmon fell forwards once more, crashing onto the ground in a large heap.

    “What…the?” Tiwaz muttered as he pushed himself up, using his weapon to support himself.

    “Rhodo…Fenrir,” Pavamana said with a tiny smile as he did the same.

    Standing at the entrance were the two whose names were said, one pointing a large rocket launcher and the other pointing his fists at the Ghoulmon. The latter let down one of his hands, letting the his other hand point a finger at the Ghoulmon.

    “If you dare try to hurt any one of my civilians ever again, I will personally make sure that you will be punished!” the Blastmon threatened, glaring at the black Digimon.

    Instead of saying anything, Fenrir dashed over to Tiwaz and Pavamana, looking to see if they were seriously injured. Nodding to himself when he noted that the two were only bruised, albeit all over, he turned back to the enemy at hand, swinging his Beo Saber in front of him.

    “Not even an ‘Are you hurt?’,” Tiwaz said as he brandished his weapon.

    “Not enough to stop you from complaining, unfortunately,” Fenrir replied, not looking at him.

    “I oughta-“

    “Freewilly!” Cogwej’s voice suddenly cut in as he ran towards them and making Fenrir look at him incredulously. That was probably one of the most ridiculous names that the old man has called him yet.

    “Chief!” Jay called out as ran over to them, Rhodo right behind him. The PileVolcamon smiled gratefully at the two of them.

    “You came,” he told the Blastmon, offering his hand.

    “Of course, I did. I lost my wife and almost lost my child to Death; I don’t plan on losing you to him yet, Pav,” the mayor told him with a smile, taking his outstretched hand and pulling him to a stand.

    And then a loud, rage-filled roar filled the room. The group turned their eyes to the Ghoulmon that was pushing itself back up, glaring at them with its large eye that seemed to be turning red, its anger rising higher and higher with every passing second it wasn’t able to destroy those in its path, including the group in front of it. “Just…die!” it growled, malignant energies gathering inside its eye and palms.

    “Scatter!” Tiwaz and Fenrir both said at the same time, both glancing at each other in surprise before the group spread out.

    Death Wave!

    The Ghoulmon’s body glowed red before the aura was absorbed into its eyes. It let out a roar as thick beams shot out from each eye, slamming into the walls and not stopping, allowing the Ghoulmon to sweep its scarlet rays across the room.

    The whole chamber rocked and shook under the sheer force of the demon’s attack, and the runners not only had to try and keep themselves from tripping but also from getting conked on the head by falling debris, which were growing larger and larger with each passing second of the Ghoulmon’s seemingly unrelenting attack.

    “Gwaaagh!” one of the occupants yelled, no longer able to keep himself from tripping.

    “Jay!” Pavamana called, seeing him on the ground first. “I’m coming!” he yelled, about to run over. His heart felt like it was about to stop when he spotted a piece of the ceiling about to fall on him.

    “I’ve got him!”

    Mere seconds before the boulder fell onto the Gotsumon, the mayor had jumped over, grabbing the child as he passed him in the air. As he landed on the ground, he rolled onto a crouching position, the smaller mineral Digimon clutched close against his chest.

    “It…dropped,” Jay yelled, looking over to where he had fallen and lost the relic that had still been in his hands.

    And then all of a sudden, the attack stopped, causing everyone to look at the Ghoulmon. “Finally…” the Ghoulmon bellowed, looking frighteningly confident and victorious. “One…step…closer!” it roared, taking a step forward towards something.

    The closest at the time, Fenrir, felt a chill run up his spine when he saw what the Ghoulmon was going close: the Spirit of the Earth.

    “He’s after the artifact!” Fenrir yelled, pointing his rocket launcher at the demon.

    “Don’t!” Cogwej’s loud voice stopped him. “You might obliterate the artifact!”

    “Who cares?” Tiwaz’s own voice roaring from the other side. “Who knows what that bastard’ll do if it gets that power!? Blast it!”

    The Beowolfmon growled, feeling divided. He couldn’t risk destroying that which they were trying to find, but it would probably the worst case scenario to have the enemy have it in its possession.

    Before he could decide however, the Ghoulmon began glowing white brightly. A feeling of surprise went through Tiwaz and Fenrir as the figure shrunk to a familiar floating, scythe-wielding figure. Then a loud cackle resounded throughout the room.

    “Hahaha!” the figure laughed, the light melting away to reveal a MetalPhantomon.

    “It’s you!” Tiwaz growled, brandishing his weapon.

    “Yes, it’s me, you brutish lizard!” the screechy voiced skeleton exclaimed, swinging his scythe in front of him, embedding the blade in the ground. “First, I’m going to make all of you pay!” he snarled, grinning sinisterly. “And then everyone else!” he roared, thinking of those that had taken his brother.

    “Fat chance; you couldn’t even beat us with those henchmen of yours!” Tiwaz replied, about to charge.

    The MetalPhantomon grinned. “With this!” he announced, reaching out and grabbing the Spirit of Earth. He raised it into the air. “If this thing is as strong as everyone says, then nothing can stop me! Not you, not the mutt, not the old geezer, and not that miserable Pharoahmon!” he announced, his eyes wide. “And then…”

    I can save Heinrich,’ he thought, his anger rising at the thought of his captive brother. To Dietrich, he was going to be the next priority.

    The room was quiet except for Dietrich’s loud declarations, and he grinned. “Ha! I bet all of you are scared speechless! I’m not as merciful as you; I’m going to make sure that none of you are going to live to see the next dawn!” he announced, bringing his hand down. And he suddenly found out the real reason for their silence. “My hand!

    Right in front of his eyes, his hand was turning into stone. It had already reached his wrist by the time he saw it, and not even the electrical currents that connected his hand to his shoulder were spared, turning tangible and hard with each passing second.

    “Cog! What the hell is happening!?” Tiwaz roared to the Wisemon.

    “It’s the defensive mechanism!” Cogwej replied, looking on in surprise. “It’s the same situation as when you held the Spirit of Fire!”

    “But why is it working now!? The kid was able to hold it without getting petrified like Skelly over there!” The EmperorGreymon was positive that he had seen Jay hold it in his hands without getting harmed at all.

    “Graaaaaah!” said skeleton screamed, his scythe falling down to the floor as he attempted to shake the Spirit of Earth off. When that didn’t work, he tried to forcefully pull it off of his hand using his other. His lack of foresight caught up with him too late, and soon he found his other hand slowly petrifying. “No! No! This can’t be happening!”

    Tiwaz grit his teeth, turning to the MetalPhantomon. “Damn it…we got to help him!” he roared running over to the metallic phantom monster. He skidded to a stop when Fenrir appeared in front of him. “Get out of the way, dog!”

    Fenrir narrowed his eyes at him. “No,” he said shortly.

    “That guy needs our help!” the dragon man said, trying to step aside.

    Fenrir blocked his way with his sword. “He tried to kill us.”

    Tiwaz growled, glaring at the Beowolfmon. “That doesn’t matter right now!”

    “He tried to kill a child!” Fenrir glowered at him, returning his glare with his own. “Scum like him don’t deserve to live!”

    “Then what!? Do just want us to watch him fossilize right in front of us!?”

    “If that’s what it takes to stop him,” Fenrir said coldly.

    Tiwaz snarled and pushed Fenrir to the side. “Well, I’m not going to listen to some antisocial bastard!” Tiwaz declared, rushing over to the MetalPhantomon. He cursed when he noticed that the petrification process had already reached his chest, already creeping down to his orb and his head.

    “Help! Someone stop this thing!” Dietrich said in a panic, looking at himself and finding his movement slowing down.

    “Damn it, what to do?” Tiwaz muttered, trying to figure out what to do. Touching the MetalPhantomon would also cause him to get caught in the curse-like action, and he wouldn’t be of any use that way. He then stopped a few feet from the metallic Digimon. “Calm down a second!” he demanded, frowning.

    “Calm down? Calm down!? How can I calm down when I’m turning to stone!?” Dietrich retorted, his voice slowly getting raspy as his neck started to turn to stone.

    “Panicking won’t help either!” Tiwaz growled, wracking his brains.

    “You want to help, dragon?” the MetalPhantomon snarled as intimidatingly as he could, the stoning process slowly crawling to his chin. “Then help someone who actually needs it!”

    “What do you think I’m trying to do!?” Tiwaz snapped back, glaring at him.

    “I don’t want your help!” Dietrich roared, deciding something that was very unlike him. He guessed the inevitably of coming death was like that, he supposed. “But Heinrich does!”

    “Heinrich? Who the hell is-“

    “My brother, idiot! The Phantomon !” the MetalPhantomon yelled, his body floating lower as the petrification reached his sphere. He loathed asking Tiwaz for help, but in his state, he realized with full certainty that he at least wanted his brother free from the clutches of his captors.

    “That stupid bro…ther of mine…got cap…tured and…!” To both Dietrich’s and Tiwaz’s dismay, the former’s chin was getting turned to stone. “Damn…it…find…him…!” the MetalPhantomon said. He couldn’t say anything else, his lower head succumbing to the artifact’s effects. He stared into Tiwaz’s eyes, conveying the seriousness of his request. And just before his head was finally overtaken by the stone, he showed his fear of death, eternally freezing it in time.

    The EmperorGreymon grit his teeth, dropping his Dragon Soul Sword with a loud clang, cursing his own helplessness. He clenched his fists, his arms shaking.

    “Is it over?” Rhodo asked, walking over, Jay and Pavamana beside him.

    “…yeah,” Tiwaz growled.

    “…then I suppose that means we can go home now,” the mayor said, turning back to the entrance.

    Jay, however, gave a curious poke to Dietrich’s statue. And then right before his and Tiwaz’s eyes, the body started to fall apart, the hands falling down to the ground with a thud before slowly turning into dust.

    “Ah!” Jay screamed, falling backwards in surprise and shock.

    “No!” Tiwaz yelled, not knowing what to do.

    “I-I-I didn’t mean to!” Jay said, crawling backwards.

    “Jay,” Rhodo muttered, bringing the child to his arms. “It’s okay. You did nothing wrong,” he told the Gotsumon.

    “Damn it,” Tiwaz cursed, clenching his fists around the dust that was once the MetalPhantomon once known as Dietrich.

    “Hm,” Cogweh muttered as he walked over, a familiar runed cloth in his hands. He leaned down and took the Spirit of Earth in it, taking extra care not to physically touch it. “These artifacts are so peculiar,” he noted, looking the relic over.

    “You actually plan on taking that thing after seeing what it did!?” Tiwaz said in disbelief, turning to the Wisemon.

    “I believe I told you that these artifacts are dangerous,” Cogwej said, sounding rather apathetic. “That unfortunate soul was simply another one of those that succumbed to the curse of the Spirits,” he told Tiwaz.

    The dragon man snarled. “Well if those things are so dangerous, then maybe we should just destroy them!”

    Cogwej raised an eyebrow at him. “The Spirits are containers for an incredible amount of energy. Suppose you did destroy them, what’s to stop their unrestrained power from running wild? I believe you are aware of what the leaking of the Spirit of Earth’s power had done to Baking Town; are you ready to take the chance of causing the possible apocalyptic age of the Digital World?” the Wisemon asked, sounding much more dire than he usually does.

    “W-well,” Tiwaz replied, unsure how to reply.

    “Think of it this way,” Fenrir suddenly cut in. “The faster we collect them, the less sacrifices have to be made,” he said.

    Tiwaz grit his teeth and growled. “…Fine! But I’m not liking this one bit!” he snarled, folding his arms.

    “Very well! Now what say everyone that we return and find something delicious to nibble on before the damage done to this room causes it to fall on our heads?” Cogwej asked, pocketing the Spirit of Earth in a familiar bag.

    The next second, the whole room started shaking.

    Cogwej!” the voices of Tiwaz, Fenrir and Rhodo admonished.

    “We need to get out, now!” Pavamana said, turning back and grabbing ahold of Jay.

    “Follow me!” the Blastmon ordered, running for the exit.

    “Right behind you!” Tiwaz said, turning to him.

    The mayor exited the room quickly, followed by the others that rushed to catch up with him. About to follow him out, Pavamana’s eyes widened. A large piece of the ceiling was about to crash down on him if he followed through with his steps. Before a second could pass, he made his decision.

    “Rhodo! Catch!” he yelled, stopping and throwing Jay from his arms with all his might towards the mayor that turned to him at the sound of his voice.

    “What’re you-“ the Blastmon yelled just as the Gotsumon crashed into him, followed by the crashing of the boulder, effectively blocking Pav, Tiwaz, Fenrir and Cog’s path. “Pav!” he yelled.

    “I’ll be fine! Go!” Pavamana’s voice yelled, somehow still audible through the boulder.

    “But-“

    “I’ll do it, Rhodo!” the PileVolcamon announced. “For the town! For everyone’s sakes! I’ll do it!”

    “Pavamana…” the diamond-bodied Digimon muttered, staring at the boulder.

    “Chief?” Jay muttered in the Blastmon’s chest.

    The Blastmon grimaced. “You better come back, Pavamana!”

    Behind the boulder, Pavamana smiled. “Of course,” he said, no longer shouting. He knew that with that, Rhodo would then escape back to Bakhu Town, Jay in his arms and with an announcement to tell to the whole community. It seemed that he had a whole journey ahead of him.

    “Hey, Pav! Over here!” he heard Tiwaz’s voice call him.

    The PileVolcamon turned to them and saw, though the falling debris, that they had found another way out of the room. He didn’t know if it would lead them, but from the looks of it, they didn’t have any other choice. He ran toward them. Then Tiwaz’s eyes widened at him.

    “Look out!”

    The next thing that Pavamana knew, he felt a strong pain in his head, and he was seeing darkness.

    -​

    Pavamana blinked.

    He suddenly found himself standing in front of a rather impressive looking room. It also struck a chord to him as being familiar, although at that moment, he couldn’t place where he saw it before. It had regal blue colored walls, one of which was completely covered by shelves that were filled with books. On the opposite wall was long window that gave a panoramic view to a beautiful garden. The floor was covered from edge to edge with a beautiful, soft carpet, and at the center of the room was an oval desk with piles of paper on it. A nameplate on the table finally reminded him where he saw the room before.

    And then a door behind him opened, and he turned back. He saw a familiar figure opening a door.

    “Rhodo,” he muttered with a small smile.

    “You…wanted to talk?” his voice said, only it didn’t come from his own mouth. Pavamana blinked.

    “I…need your help,” Rhodo said as he went inside the room. To Pavamana’s intense shock, he then saw himself walking into the room. He then found Rhodo about to crash into him, and he was about to sidestep, only to witness the Blastmon walking through him and sit on a chair in front of the table as if nothing were wrong.

    “What the…?” the PileVolcamon wondered, blinking as his other self also passed through him. He turned to follow them. This scene was getting more and more familiar.

    “With what?” the other Pavamana asked, looking at Rhodo seriously.

    “I’m sure you are aware of the situation of the town, Pav,” the Blastmon said. He continued when the blacksmith nodded. “I’ll cut straight to the point, then. We’re no longer gaining enough profits to keep the town running. Within the next ten to fifteen years, this town will probably stop functioning completely.”

    “What…?” the second Pavamana whispered, his eyes furrowing. And suddenly, the real one realized what it was.

    It was a memory. He was seeing what he and the Blastmon had talked about after the mayor had asked Tiwaz and company to look for the Spirit of Earth to save the town…only, it would take more to completely keep the town safe.

    “I know it’s hard to believe, Pav, but it’s true. The annual profits have been falling by significant amounts after every yearly check.” The mayor sighed and bowed his head. “I don’t know how I can tell the town about it.”

    “You have to,” the PileVolcamon said, stepping forward. “Maybe we can increase our output-“

    “What do you think I’ve been trying to do these past few months, Pav?” Rhodo replied, although he had no malice in his voice. He sounded more defeated than anything else. “I’ve been trying to look for ways ever since the first significant drop, and I’ve made some changes to the town. You know that. But it’s simply not enough.”

    “Then…what do we do?” Pavamana asked softly.

    “The appearance of these adventurers have given me an idea,” the Blastmon said, sitting up straight and looking like he has a bit of hope in his eyes.

    “They’re going to be traveling far and wide, Pav. That means they’re going to find a lot of new discoveries and breakthroughs. Maybe…just maybe, if we can be able to send someone along with them to see and learn all about those new ideas and bring them back here…”

    “…then the town might have a better chance,” Pavamana finished for him, understanding where he’s going. “I can find someone.”

    Rhodo gave him a smile. “That’s good. I knew I could count on you. You practically know everyone in town, after all.”

    The PileVolcamon returned his small smile and nodded.

    “We need someone who they won’t mind bringing along with them. That means they would most accept someone that can aid them in their quest. Someone that’s strong enough to handle him or herself and the long journey ahead, and maybe even give them an advantage when they need it,” the Blastmon said, closing his eyes. “Please keep those in mind.”

    Pavamana nodded. “Is that all?”

    After a moment of silence, Rhodo opened his eyes. “One more thing,” he told him. “Find someone that loves this town.”

    Pavamana blinked and tilted his head a bit.

    “That way, that person will do the best that he or she can for the town and always keep it in his or her heart. The new and more modern world of the outside may be too enticing,” he said, turning to a picture frame on his table. “She made it sound that way, at least…”

    Pavamana nodded slowly. “But…she loved this town too much…”

    “Yes, she did. She chose our little town over the much more exciting and grander world,” Rhodo said, taking the picture frame in a hand and looking at it a bit closer. It was a picture Pavamana himself knew very well. It was of a female Shakkoumon wearing an apron. It was also the picture of Rhodo’s wife and Cammie’s mother. “I can remember saying that I would, someday, leave this town of ours to see it, and maybe never come back, but I never did. It’s because of her…because of Holly that I myself grew to love this town. It’s our home, Pav. It’s her home… I don’t want to see it disappear.”

    The PileVolcamon closed his eyes and nodded in understanding. “Don’t worry…you won’t,” he told the Blastmon with a wider smile.

    The mayor grinned at him. “For your sake, I hope so. You can leave now,” he told the blacksmith.

    Pavamana watched his other self nod and turn back to the door.

    “Pavamana,” Rhodo then said, causing the dreaming PileVolcamon to frown. He didn’t remember this part. What was stranger was that this time, he was looking straight at him. “Pavamana!” he said again, this time louder. Much louder.

    The PileVolcamon frowned, wincing a bit.

    “Pavamana!”

    The room actually shook at the loudness of the voice, and the PileVolcamon pressed his hands against the sides of his head, wincing.

    Pavamana!

    What!?” he shouted.

    “You don’t have to shout.”

    Pavamana opened his eyes, the voice no longer Rhodo’s. In fact, it sounded much more like an EmperorGreymon by the name of Tiwaz. Also, he was no longer in his friend’s study or even in Bakhu Town.

    After a moment’s worth of contemplation, he finally decided that he had woken up from his dream. He was leaning against a wall that felt like stone, and he was looking at a vast, grassy plain with a stream cutting right through it. Clumps of trees dotted the plain, giving it a much more natural and pleasing look.

    “Where…?”

    “We got out of the caves,” Tiwaz’s voice told him, and he looked up. He found himself facing a grinning EmperorGreymon offering him a hand. The PileVolcamon took his hand, getting pulled to his feet. “We got lucky. The path we took ends up outside, although we’re kind of at the other side of the mountain now,” he told the blacksmith, pointing behind him.

    Pav turned to look over his shoulder, and just as Tiwaz said, Mt. Bakhu was there, towering over him as it always did. “I see,” he said shortly. He turned back to Tiwaz. “Where are…?”

    The EmperorGreymon folded his arms. “The mutt went to the stream to get some fresh water. The old geezer’s looking at his notebook or something. Apparently, he has the general locations of all the spirits, so we need to find out which one’s closest so that we know which one to look for next,” he told the blacksmith.

    Pavamana nodded, looking over to the side to see Cogwej bowed over a timeworn book, muttering and flipping pages every so often.

    “In the meantime, I can probably help you find some way to get back home. You got people waiting for you, don’t you?” Tiwaz asked, looking at him closely.

    The blacksmith turned to him. Out of the three, Tiwaz was probably the most likely to let him join…

    “Actually, Tiwaz, I have a request…”
     
  8. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Belated reply. That was a good chapter. I definately didn't expect Dietrich to die. That was a good scene and it helped to grow the tension and rivalry between Tiwaz and Fenrir, which is good. it's too bad there'll be a timeskip so we won't be able to see the ramifications of it though. Also, I feel kinda bad for Dietrich even though he was an antagonist.

    I like Pav, but I might be biased since I helped create him. xD It's too bad we didn't get to see that bar scene. You know why. Anyways, I'm happy that he joined the trio and I'm looking forward to seeing the chemistry between him and the others. Well, it's not confirmed he joined them yet, but I would be very surprised if he didn't.

    Also, I just noticed this.
    Should be Cogwej.

    I think that's all for me for now. Looking forward to the next one.
     
  9. I'm procrastinating again. >.< I'll try to get it done before the middle of the month!
     
  10. Chapter II: Secrets of the Forest

    Act 1: Explorer Exploring


    Also known as

    “So who are you and how did you get stuck with crazy over here?”


    One day and three months.

    I cannot believe it’s been a day and three months since I have left Bakhu. It feels like it’s been years, but I can still remember everyone’s happy and carefree smiles as if it were only yesterday. I still wonder how everyone and the town are doing in my absence.

    I hope they are doing well.

    I have faith in Rhodo. I know that he will serve the town well enough without me, but I hope he remembers that he has people to count on. I’m sure Camille, young as she is, will be able to help him through it. She acts just like he did when he and I, as well as Holly, were children and explored and played in the town plazas. I believe that she will become a strong woman like her parents before her. I only hope that she is not too harsh on herself.

    I hope that Kayle and Jameson have lived well off without my guidance. They can do what I have down for the town just as well as I can. I had nothing left to teach Kayle, and I’m sure he is capable enough to teach his younger sibling. But he and his brother still have much to learn that which I have learned only though my experiences. Nonetheless, I hope that the knowledge I have passed onto them will serve them well.

    Well then. I suppose it’s time for me to finish reminiscing then.

    According to Cogwej, we are nearing our destination and the next place where we can find another of the ancient relics. I’m disappointed that I learned little about the outside world in the past three months on our way here. The towns were few and far in between, and their states were almost exactly the same as Bakhu, and there was little in those towns that could help a mountain town like mine. I hope that I can find something of importance to bring back to Bakhu soon, although I have little confidence that I will find them in the location we are now.

    As I write this down, my group and I are at the outskirts of a forest called the Enigmatic Woods. I have never heard of it before, but Tiwaz and Fenrir seem to know of its reputation. Apparently, it’s a very difficult place to traverse through, and it’s been said that travelers that go in always come out in the same place they entered. Thick trees and canopies also make it nearly impossible to enter from above. It is as if the forest itself is sentient and making sure that no one stays inside to learn its secrets. That means that no one has ever been able to cross right through the forest or knows what kind of place it is inside, thus giving it its name.

    Tiwaz and Fenrir are both arguing about our next course of action, which I have learned is a fairly common occurrence. Fenrir wants us to wait here and think of how to enter while keeping us from being forced out, while Tiwaz simply wants to go in and plow right through until we find something. Cogwej does not seem to be leaning towards either choice, although he’s making it obvious that he wants to explore the Enigmatic Woods as soon as possible. I am not sure whether if it is because he wants to find the relic quickly, to study how the woods seem to work, or both, but it is taking most of Fenrir’s time trying to keep him from going in without us.

    I have learned over the past few weeks that the old Wisemon lives up to his name in every meaning. Tiwaz, Fenrir and I have decided to take turns making sure he does not cause any commotion or trouble each time we enter a town, and it is a trying task to do. For someone who claims to be older than a hundred, Cogwej is surprisingly quick on his feet and energetic as a Terriermon who has drunk five mugs of coffee. His curiosity rivals only his ability to stay alive despite the danger he attracts with it.

    Which reminds me; it is my turn after Fenrir’s, which is soon judging by the distance of the moon from the horizon. I am not looking forward to keeping watch over him; it’s much harder than it sounds. He’s almost impossible to deal with. It’s going to be a very long night.

    At the very least, I’m glad that he suggested me to create a journal for my thoughts.

    Pavamana Suchi
    14th Day, 5th Month, year XX11

    -​

    “Pavamana!” Tiwaz called out to the PileVolcamon. “Cogwej!” he yelled, his hands around his mouth. He looked around for the PileVolcamon and the Wisemon from where he stood, in front of the campfire that Fenrir was cleaning up.

    He let out an audible sound of annoyance and turned to the Beowolfmon behind him. Ever since the incident three months ago, he seldom exchanged words with the wolf knight unless they were arguing. Their plans and actions were always on opposite sides of the spectrum; when Tiwaz wanted to do something, Fenrir suggested to do the opposite more often than not. He half suspected that Fenrir was doing it on purpose just to get on his nerves.

    “Tch…hey, mutt,” he said, turning behind him. “Why don’t you make yourself useful for once and sniff them out?” Fenrir gave him a glare that told him of his answer, causing Tiwaz to roll his eyes.

    “I thought you dogs were supposed to be obedient,” he grumbled to himself. If Fenrir heard him, he didn’t give Tiwaz any indictation of it. “Fine, I’ll look for them myself!” he announced, walking towards the forest. If they were anywhere, it was there, especially since Cogwej had been so excited to go in the woods that he could barely control his curiosity.

    “Pav! Cog!” Tiwaz once again called out into the forest. After a moment of silence, Tiwaz let out a sigh of exasperation. He wished Cogwej would listen to them and stay put for once. He started walking across the edge of the forest, looking between the trees every once in a while. A couple of minutes later, he found one of the two he wanted to find.

    The blacksmith was leaning against one of the trees of the Enigmatic Woods, a leg propped up and his arms folded. His head was bowed, his face hidden by his scarf, and light snoring could be heard from his form. He was, for all intents and purposes, asleep.

    Tiwaz grunted and knelt forward in front of him. “Hey, Pav, wake up. It’s morning,” he said, shaking him up.

    With a small grunt of resistance, slightly unwilling to push away the veil of sleep, Pavamana opened a single eye to the dragon man. “Rm…Tiwaz…?”

    The EmperorGreymon stood straight and folded his arms. “Great, you got one eye open. You’re halfway there, you big lug,” he said with a small smile.

    “Is it morning already?” the PileVolcamon asked as he stood up and stretched his aching limbs. He still wasn’t quite used to sleep against hard surfaces, or even upright for that matter. He would’ve rather stay up the night, which he has actually done many times already, but that was becoming to frequent to become a viable option for consecutive nights.

    “The sun’s been up for a couple of hours already, so yeah, it is. A better question is where our resident scientist is,” he said with a raised eyebrow. “Though I think I already know at least know the partial answer,” he added, folding his arms as he took a quick glance around.

    A moment of silence that came from the blacksmith, and that was all that Tiwaz needed to make him give a sigh. “Great. We have a crazy old geezer with no inhibition, a dangerously obsessive curiosity, and a warped sense of self-preservation on the loose. We should really find that codger a leash,” the dragon man muttered, half-serious.

    “I’m sorry,” Pavamana said as he started to look around as well. “I was only planning to just close my eyes for a few minutes,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

    “Don’t worry about it so much. It’s a thankless and near impossible task to keep your eye on Cogwej; we wouldn’t have to if Fenrir wasn’t such being a hardass about it,” Tiwaz said as he walked to face the woods.

    “But if there are people after him and the relics, then we can’t afford to be lenient,” Pavamana said, frowning as he stood beside him.

    Tiwaz sighed. “Yeah, I guess,” the EmperorGreymon said with a huff. “Our best bet is that Cog’s inside there.”

    Pavamana nodded in agreement. “Which means he should be brought outside by the so-called mysterious force within the day,” he theorized, thinking.

    “Force shmorce, I say we go in and find him,” the dragon man replied with a grin and a daring twinkle in his eye.

    “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

    “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

    “Fenrir won’t approve.”

    “The mutt’s a killjoy.”

    “We’ll get lost.”

    “Cog already is.”

    “That doesn’t mean we-“

    Tiwaz interrupted him with a loud sigh and a roll of his eyes. “Look, if you’re so worried about getting lost, go and get the wolf and get him to help you find me and Cog. His nose has got to be useful for something. Maybe me and the geezer might even get a lead on the next spirit before you find us,” he told the blacksmith as he took a step forward. “We’re wasting daylight by just standing here. I’ll see you inside the woods!”

    Before Pavamana could stop him, the EmperorGreymon ran inside the woods, grinning and expanding his nostrils, using his own sense of smell to try and find Cog.

    The PileVolcamon couldn’t help but sigh. “He’s…going to get us in bigger trouble than Cog one of these days,” he said to himself before turning to go find Fenrir.

    It didn’t take him long to find the Beowolfmon, who was slinging a bag that contained the sleeping bags and their basic necessities over his shoulder.

    The white knight turned to the blacksmith. “Pav. Where are Tiwaz and Cogwej?” he asked, particularly looking for the latter. Cog usually kept their belongings in his dimension-travelling book.

    “They’re in the woods.”

    Fenrir stared at Pavamana for a few seconds. “They’re…in the woods,” the Beowolfmon repeated, frowning. The PileVolcamon nodded, looking slighty ashamed at not being able to convince Tiwaz to go inside, as well as not keeping his eye on Cog.

    The wolf man sighed and rubbed the bridge of his snout. “We need to find them now, don’t we?”

    “I don’t know how we’ll meet up with them otherwise,” Pavamana said.

    Fenrir adjusted the sling over his shoulder before walking towards the forest. “Do you know where they entered?” he asked, turning towards him.

    “Tiwaz went inside somewhere close by. I’ll show you where.”

    The PileVolcamon proceeded to lead to lead Fenrir towards where he saw Tiwaz last. It wasn’t that difficult to find, especially since the grass he slept on was still pressed against the ground. He pressed a hand against the tree he slept against, turning to the forest beyond it. “Tiwaz entered through here.”

    Fenrir nodded and took a step forward, closing his eyes and taking a deep sniff. Then he opened his eyes and frowned in confusion. He turned back to the PileVolcamon. “Are you positive this is where he went in?” he asked, his eyebrows furrowed under his helmet.

    Pavamana nodded. “Completely,” he commented before frowning himself. “Is there something wrong?”

    “I can’t detect Tiwaz’s scent,” the Beowolfmon said, folding his arms as he turned to the PileVolcamon. “And I can’t detect yours, either.”

    “That’s…impossible,” the blacksmith said, wide-eyed.

    Fenrir stared at the inside of the woods, his eyes searching and scrutinizing the trees, shrubs and even the stones and grass on the ground. There was something strange going on. “The Enigmatic Woods…huh…?”

    -​

    I am not lost. I am not lost. I am not lost!’ Tiwaz thought as he walked through the bushes and dirt paths and shrubs. ‘Tiwaz Koenig does not get lost!’ he added in his head as he looked around, wondering at the back of his mind if he had seen that same tree, rock and bush before.

    The dragon man had slowed to a walk a few minutes before, and he couldn’t exactly remember how long he had been running before then. He had simply assumed that he would eventually find something that would lead him to the missing scientist, and then they could start their search for the relic. He didn’t really think that ‘getting lost’ was a really likely option.

    “Why do trees and plants have to look so similar?” the EmperorGreymon grumbled as he passed yet another tree that looked familiar. He then sighed and slowed to a stop, folding his arms and thinking. “If I were a crazy, senile scientist that loved getting into trouble, where would I go?” he wondered out loud, as he looked down.

    And he blinked.

    “Hello,” he said with a grin, getting on one knee. On the ground in front of him, there was a large three-toed footprint that looked like it belonged to a bird. It was also quite large, and as he started to look forward, he saw that they were large and spaced well enough that he could follow them quite easily. “Well, well, well! Looks like I’m not lost yet!” he decided as he stood up and started to follow it.

    “Hm…I wonder if these belong to Cog. They look too big, though,” the EmperorGreymon muttered to himself. “Then again, who knows what’s under all that brown cloth? The old codger doesn’t ever let me, the mutt or Pav see what’s under that cloak… I’m going to remedy that as soon as I see that troublesome Wisemon,” he decided as he started to walk faster.

    To Tiwaz’s surprise, instead of getting clearer and deeper, the footprints got vaguer and harder to see the more he followed them. He slightly wondered if he was following it wrong, like maybe it belonged to some backward-legged Digimon that he had never heard or seen before. As he looked up, however, he saw signs – broken branches and pushed away shrubs – that told him that he was walking in the right direction.

    “Okay…so maybe there’s some truth to this mythical force,” he said as his eyes tried to find some more clues as to what was going on around him. Before he could find anything, however, he began to hear voices.

    “C-come on, guys! We’re all fellow insects here!” the nervous-sounding voice said. “C-can’t we talk this out? Pretty please?”

    What followed was a series of chattering, hissing and clicks that the EmperorGreymon didn’t know what to make of.

    “How intriguing! These natives seem to exhibit their own vernacular!”

    Tiwaz couldn’t help but grimace. That voice belonged to Cogwej, which meant he would have to go in and help the Wisemon and the other one that was with him. He crept closer, hiding behind a large shrub to see what was going on.

    The first thing he noticed that there were one big bug. An MegaKabuterimon, the blue kind, was back to back against a rather large tree with his four hands in the air.

    Tiwaz immediately assumed that he was the owner of the first voice. In front of him was the familiar sight of Cogwej with a book and a pencil in hand, apparently unperturbed about the situation he was in.

    Said situation involved being surrounded by what looked to be around ten insect type Digimon, give or take a couple. He couldn’t really count properly since some of them were flying about above the surrounded duo. At the very least, they looked like a group he could take on easily enough.

    “Can you please repeat that for me?” Cog asked as he turned his head to the one Tiwaz assumed to have created the sounds from before.

    “You shouldn’t bug the nice bugs, old guy,” the MegaKabuterimon said with a slight grin, apparently pleased with his pun.

    One of their captors, however, was not, made obvious by a JewelBeemon – a bipedal, emerald green insectoid Digimon – thrusting his spear at them in what looked like agitation. Then came the chittering from a half-spider-half-woman digimon, an Arukenimon, and the JewelBeemon immediately retreated. Tiwaz decided that the Arukenimon was the leader of the group.

    “Marvelous! Now if you can please translate that for me?” Cogwej requested, unfazed.

    Tiwaz rolled his eyes. ‘I better step in and help before Cog gets them into more trouble!’ he thought as he reached over behind him to grab the hilt of his blade.

    The EmperorGreymon rushed out of the underbrush. “Hey, let them go- woah!” Tiwaz yelled after taking a few steps. He found himself falling hard on the ground, feeling his feet suddenly get tangled. He looked behind him to see that his ankles had been struck by what looked to be white web. “The hell!?”

    From the shrub he came from then came a spider-like Digimon with a two-horned helmet with a skull insignia on its back, a Dokugumon. It chittered, and unlike the complicated series that the Arukenimon used, this one sounded more like laughter rather than a language. “Why I oughta-“

    Before Tiwaz could finish what he was going to say, he found the back of his neck suddenly pressing against something cold and decidedly sharp. He glanced upwards to see that the JewelBeemon that tried to stab Cogwej had the blade-end of his spear against his neck. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get that away from my neck!” he snarled, growling despite the apparent danger.

    “Ah, Teeway!” Cogwej called out in a rather pleased voice. “Look at what I have discovered! These woods are actually inhabited!”

    “I got that part already,” the dragon said with gritted teeth as he glared at the spider woman that suddenly stood over him. “Let me go, ugly, or I’ll make you and all your bug friends regret it!”

    “You…” the female spider Digimon started, ignoring Tiwaz’s threat. Her voice was raspy and brusque, obvious unused to the tongue that Tiwaz was familiar with. “…and them will come with us,” she finished, looking at Cog and his new friend before turning to back to the Dokugumon, once again returning to her native tongue.

    The EmperorGreymon growled as he felt his wrists suddenly get wrapped in the same cocoon of web his feet were caught in, although those were subsequently cut so that he could walk by himself. He saw that the same were happening to Cog’s and the MegaKabuterimon’s wrists. The JewelBeemon then pulled him up roughly, making sure to keep his spear at neck-point as he pushed him to where the other two were.

    “Well, I never,” Cogwej complained as he tried to free his bound wrists. “And here I thought they had such sophisticated manners!”

    “What gave you that idea?” the insect behind him asked.

    “Why, just look at the colors of the entourage and welcoming committee!”

    “Cog, we need to get your head checked,” Tiwaz muttered as he looked around to see that they had been surrounded and lead towards somewhere. The spear at the back of his neck and his bound wrists were the only reasons why he complied.

    “My head needs not be checked! Why, there is no such tool of caliber that can handle the vast amount of wonder and knowledge that can be found within in the confines of my cranium!” Cogwej spouted, looking appalled.

    Tiwaz rolled his eyes as the Wisemon continued his tirade of self-praise, while the insect Digimon turned to appraise his new fellow-captive. “We’ve got ourselves in a rather sticky situation, huh?” he said, raising his wrists wrapped in cobwebs.

    “If that was supposed to be funny, I’m not laughing,” Tiwaz grunted back, too annoyed at what happened to him to be in a good mood. “So who are you and how did you get stuck with crazy over here?” he asked.

    “Taranis Valthor,” the blue insect introduced himself with a sheepish expression. “Do you really think this is the right time to, uh, talk?” he asked, looking at the warrior insects around them.

    “Eh, not like they’re going to stop us. If they’re letting Cog rant his big head off, then they won’t care if we talk. I don’t think that most of them can understand us, anyway,” the EmperorGreymon replied, glancing at the JewelBeemon close by. The spear on his neck had lowered slightly, but he got the feeling that any sudden move on his part would get him stabbed faster than he could say ‘ouch’. “I’m called Tiwaz. Tiwaz Koenig.”

    “Really? Cog – that’s what you called him, right? – called you, uh, Teeway, didn’t he?” Taranis asked with a slight frown.

    “Yeah, it’s short for Cogwej, which means Crazy Old Geezer Who Endlessly Jabbers. And trust me, when he tells you the name of something, don’t trust him. He’s been getting my name wrong for the last three months I’ve known him, and I don’t expect him to get it right anytime soon.”

    “Well, at least the name fits.” Taranis chuckled at the apparent display of proof that Cogwej was currently doing, and then he let out a small yelp of pain when he suddenly felt something poke at his back. “Watch it!” he called out to a second JewelBeemon behind him.

    Tiwaz grimaced. He couldn’t use his abilities as a fire god to its full potential in a forest; he would end up causing a forest fire. Everything around him was too flammable, and he wasn’t sure he could control a full-blown forest of flames. God or otherwise, he wasn’t exactly a master of pyrokinesis.

    He hated to admit it – and he probably never would – but they might need Fenrir’s and Pavamana’s help to get out of their problem.

    -​

    Silently and cautiously, the Beowolfmon and the PileVolcamon walked through the shrubs and bushes, looked through the woods and scrutinized every branch and rock for any clue, hair or torn cloth of their two missing companions.

    “Still nothing?” Pavamana asked, looking around and behind.

    Fenrir shook his head. He still hadn’t scented either Tiwaz or Cogwej. What made things even more mysterious was the fact that he couldn’t smell anything else other than trees and soil. He couldn’t sense any other Digimon in the woods, and that, itself, was peculiar. The woods would not be able to live as abundantly and effectively if it didn’t. This either meant that there was more to the mystery of the Enigmatic Woods, or there were Digimons good at keeping secrets.

    Of course, there was also that other thing that he hadn’t yet told Pavamana about…

    The blacksmith sighed and turned to him. “Forgive me, but…it’s becoming more unlikely that we’re going to find them,” he told the Beowolfmon.

    “They can handle themselves,” Fenrir replied simply.

    “Perhaps, but that does not mean we’ll find them.”

    “We’ll find them.”

    Pavamana looked at him curiously. Fenrir sounded all too certain of his words, and he couldn’t help but ask, “How?”

    Before answering, Fenrir lead them to a clearing in the forest. It wasn’t all that large, but it was spacious enough for Fenrir to hear and see better without the trees being in the way. He turned to Pav as the PileVolcamon moved to stand beside him. “Pavamana, stay here,” he said shortly.

    The PileVolcamon furrowed his brows and frowned. “Pardon?”

    “I’ll be able to find you again easier if you don’t move from this spot,” Fenrir told him, suddenly about-facing.

    “Find me? Why would you need to-“

    Fenrir interrupted him with a suddenly rough voice, although it wasn’t being directed at him. “Come out now!” he barked in a loud and clear voice.

    In that instant, the two suddenly heard the rushed rustling of a bush. Then Fenrir cursed. Before Pavamana could even think of what to make of the sudden movement, Fenrir dashed into the woods. “Fenrir! Wait!”

    The Beowolfmon didn’t wait. If he did, he would lose whoever he was following, and at that moment, when they badly needed a lead to something, anything, be it to their lost companions or the relic, he couldn’t afford to.

    He weaved expertly past trees, over fallen logs and through bushes. To his chagrin, however, he found that his quarry was faster than he was! He quickly unsheathed his sword.

    “Zweihander!”

    With a flick of his wrist and the quick swing of his blade, a wolf of blue energy formed in front of him and dashed towards his prey, far faster than Fenrir himself was. The wolf howled as it rushed unhindered by its surroundings, actually leaving patches of frozen grass.

    “Ulysses! Watch out!” a voice, another one that Fenrir had not detected, suddenly called out.

    The pursued one turned his head, allowing Fenrir to see the face of his prey. He was a bird, made obvious by the beak, with a purple headband and a head full of fiery red hair.

    “Cra- gwaaah!” the avian Digimon yelled as the frozen wolf reached him and burst with blue energy, sending ice shards around and freezing a portion of his back and legs, causing him to fall forward and roll rather painfully into a tree.

    Fenrir sprinted over, looking around for the owner of the hidden one. He took a second to glance at the bird. He had large feet, complete with sharp edged talons, a long, yellow scarf and a purple suit that would have belonged to a ninja. It didn’t take long for Fenrir to conclude that he was a Peckmon. The other one, however…

    He narrowed his eyes and took a deep smell; he couldn’t detect the other one. In fact, despite being close to the one he pursued, he still had a hard time scenting him. It was faint and vague, too much like the forest around him to be useful.

    “Come out, and I won’t hurt your friend,” Fenrir reassured, looking around.

    “Hurt me? Hah! Just because you got a lucky shot doesn’t mean you can hurt me! Kunai Wing!” the Peckmon yelled, swinging a yellow wing at Fenrir, sending sharp-edged feathers at the Beowolfmon.

    Without even looking, Fenrir raised his weapon and blocked each one from hitting him. He turned his head slightly to the ninja bird and glared. “Do not test me.

    The Peckmon involuntarily cringed at the look. “Y-you don’t scare me!” he exclaimed even with his reaction. He began to force himself to stand on his legs, despite one of them being frozen.

    “W-wait, Ulysses! Stop! I’m coming out!”

    “What? No! Odie, go back and- ah crap,” the named Peckmon cursed, grimacing as his companion appeared.

    Fenrir scrutinized the white-garbed, spring-limbed and shuriken-wielding Digimon that suddenly dropped in front of him. A Shurimon. Then he dropped his shurikens, raising his hands in the air. “Just…d-don’t hurt him…please,” the ninja Digimon pleaded.

    For a moment of silence, Fenrir didn’t do anything other than look at the two. Then Beowolfmon made a slight nod, moving away to allow the garbed Digimon to join his avian friend.

    “On my word,” Fenrir finally said, turning to the Shurimon. “I only want answers. Starting with who both of you are.”

    The ninja Digimon sighed in relief while his avian companion grunted and folded his wings. “Mind unfreezing my leg first? It’s too cold,” the Peckmon muttered.

    “Not until you answer my questions,” Fenrir said without hesitation. He couldn’t risk the chance that they would run away again.

    “M-my name’s Odysseus, or Odie if you prefer, and this is Ulysses,” the Shurimon introduced, glancing at the avian. He then turned back to the Beowolfmon. “And…you are?”

    “Fenrir Weissritter,” he replied, sheathing his blade. “Other than he and I, did you follow an EmperorGreymon and a Wisemon?”

    “There are more of you!?” the Peckmon asked in what looked like anger.

    “No…we’ve only noticed you and the PileVolcamon,” Odie said with a frown.

    “I see,” Fenrir said, frowning as well. It looked like they were nowhere near getting closer to finding Tiwaz or Cogwej. “Why were you following my friend and I?” he then asked.

    “Well…” Odie started.

    “Duh! You’re trespassing!” Ulysses cut in with a scowl, causing Fenrir to raise an eyebrow.

    “I never heard about Enigmatic Forest being owned property,” he stated, folding his arms.

    The Peckmon responded by rolling his eyes. “So? Would you take a cart lying on the path just because no one’s around to say that it belongs to him?” he asked rhetorically.

    “Calm down, Uly,” Odie said, turning to his friend. He then turned back to Fenrir. “We’re just doing our job, mister Weissritter.”

    “What job?”

    “We don’t have to tell you!”

    “Uly, I said to calm down,” the Shurimon implored with a pleading expression, causing the Peckmon to turn away and grumble. “I-I’m sorry, but…I’m not sure if I should tell you,” he then said, turning to Fenrir.

    “What can you tell me?”

    “We’re…protecting something here. Something very important,” Odie told him hesitantly.

    Fenrir narrowed his eyes. That might be the lead he was looking for. “Tell me more.”

    “Like hell we will!” Uly interrupted, stomping of his unfrozen foot.

    “Please. It is of utmost importance,” Fenrir beseeched, bowing his head slightly and causing the Peckmon to blink in mild surprise.

    “I…don’t think we can,” Odysseus then said, rubbing the back of his head.

    “Then who can?” The Shurimon and the Peckmon looked at each other for a moment.

    “Aggie?” Uly asked.

    “Aggie,” Odie said with a nod.

    Fenrir raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

    “Well…if it’s that important …you’ll have to come with us,” the Shurimon told him.

    “You sure about this, Odie?” Uly asked, turning to him.

    “I…think we can trust him,” Odysseus replied, giving Fenrir a slight, nervous smile.

    “Okay, but if we get in trouble, it’s all on you.”

    “Follow you…where?” Fenrir then asked, walking towards them.

    “To our home. To the village of ninjas.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  11. Act 2: Feud of the Forest

    Also known as

    “Are all aged Digimon crazy or am I really that unlucky?"

    Fenrir didn’t know how long he had been walking.

    He looked at the two so-called ninjas leading him to their home. At the very least, they looked the part; the Shurimon named Odysseus, however, had told them they were at a level called genins, which was supposed to be the lowest rank and also meant that they were still very much in training. The one way Fenrir could make an equivalent was a page or squire to a knight. Then the Peckmon named Ulysses commented that they weren’t going to be genins for long.

    As much as the Peckmon grated his nerves, although not as much as Tiwaz did on a daily basis, he couldn’t say that it wasn’t unlikely. The speed that the Peckmon was, in short, exemplary, and Odysseus showed a very level head about him. They made a good pair, the two of them. Unless he would be able to test their abilities, however, he couldn’t be sure.

    “How much further?” he asked, turning his gaze to Odie.

    “Not that far,” he replied, looking over his shoulder to give a small, reassuring smile. “We just have to take a specific route to avoid setting off any of the traps.”

    Fenrir returned it with a nod. It was only due to the Shurimon’s honest-to-goodness sincerity that he allowed himself to be lead and to trust the two forest goers at all. It was all too rare to find someone like him at his age; most would have already become too jaded towards the realities of the world they lived in.

    He knew that he did.

    “Or, you know, you could just stop following us and get out of our forest,” Ulysses suggested, sounding at least half-serious.

    “We already agreed, Uly. We gave our word…or at least, I did,” Odie told the Peckmon.

    “But-“

    “And a ninja never goes back on his word, right?”

    “Yeah, yeah, I know,” Uly relented with a huff. “Why have you got to go and use my own words against me?”

    Odysseus replied with a slight, soft smile before turning back to Fenrir. “Um, we’re close to the village, but there’s sort of a catch,” he said, slightly embarrassed at having not told the Beowolfmon beforehand.

    “Catch?” he repeated, raising an eyebrow.

    “Our village is situated on a really high place. Look, over there,” the avian ninja told him. He pointed a wing towards what looked to be a vine-covered wall that they began to walk towards. “There are only two easy ways to get up there. You either climb up the tree and then jump to the edge, like Odie here, or fly up with the use of wings, like me. Or you can climb, but that’s one of the harder ways to get up there.”

    Fenrir furrowed his eyebrows a bit as they stopped in front of the stony wall that seemed to span many meters above him. “And those that cannot get up through those ways?” he asked, eyeing for footholds and the like.

    “Well, most aren’t allowed to leave the village if they can’t get up either of those ways,” the Shurimon said. “I was only allowed out a year ago,” he said sheepishly.

    “There’s another way where you can walk, but there are a lot of traps that are set up in there. Those that try to go through there don’t get out unharmed.” The Peckmon then grinned widely. “We’ll prepare some bandages and gauze for when you get out of there!” he said, sounding a little too smug.

    “Ulysses!” Odie reprimanded with a frown before turning back to Fenrir, who was looking back at the trees right across from the wall. “We’ll get someone from our village to fly you up.”

    “Come on, Odie! He has to prove himself first!” Uly replied, folding his wings and frowning. “So what’s it gonna be, dogman? You going to climb and take all day, or are you going to risk getting killed by our superior traps?”

    “Neither,” Fenrir replied simply, turning to back to the wall and putting a foot behind him, looking ready to dash.

    “What?” Ulysses looked at him curiously. “Are you hiding wings under all that shiny armor?"

    Deciding not to grace that question with an answer, the Beowolf sprinted towards the wall and then jumped forward, landing both feet on the wall and crouching on it. Then in one fluid motion, he pumped his legs and pushed away from the wall, turning in midair to land once more on a tree that was right across from the wall and then repeated his actions, effectively pushing and jumping upwards higher and higher, occasionally resting on a branch that could support his weight.

    Uly’s lower beak dropped in surprise. “He- he just-“

    “Fenrir…seems to have a lot of surprises,” Odysseus finished for him. “And with that heavy armor, too,” he noted, feeling slightly eclipsed by the Beowolfmon’s ability.

    “He’s just lucky that the tree was close enough,” the Peckmon muttered as he flapped his wings, ready to take off. “Come on, Odie, we can’t let him outdo us!”

    Without waiting for the Shurimon, the avian ninja took off into the air, quickly gaining on the Beowolfmon. Odysseus, looked down.

    “Didn’t he already…?” he muttered to himself before shaking his head and looking back up, stretching his spring-like arm behind. He then sprung his arm forward towards a tree branch, using his shuriken and hand as a grappling hook to pull himself up on a branch.

    “One down, twenty-seven more to go,” he said to himself, readying his other arm and wondering if he could beat his old record. His arms could stretch so far, but he was always testing himself to get them to stretch farther.

    Many meters above him, Fenrir rested on a large tree branch, standing and looking down at the ground below. Ulysses had already surpassed him and was already waiting at the edge of the cliff. Judging from the height, he was at least halfway up.

    “You’re so high up, Remus!”

    The Beowolfmon’s spine stiffened, his blood feeling it had gone cold. He closed his eyes tightly, whispering harshly to himself, “Get a hold of yourself, Fenrir!”

    He kept his eyes closed for a moment, but when he opened his eyes, he suddenly found himself looking at a WereGarurumon who was climbing up the tree “You’re cheating! You have to teach me how to do that!” he said, although his face was painted with a large, playful grin.

    Fenrir froze, unsure of how to react.

    “Fenrir?”

    In one quick motion, Fenrir unsheathed his blade and pointed straight at the owner of the voice, who suddenly yelped in surprise and fell backwards off the branch that they were standing on.

    A split was all it took for the Beowolfmon to regain his senses and he quickly resheathed his Beo-Saber. “Odysseus!” he called out, only to find that the Shurimon was holding onto the branch that he was standing on.

    “I-I’m okay!” the ninja called back, pulling himself up with Fenrir’s help, although looking shaken.

    “I’m…sorry,” Fenrir apologized with a frown.

    “N-n-n-n-no, I sh-should have known better than to disturb someone s-so deep in th-th-thought,” the Shurimon replied, looking very sheepish.

    “Hey, you two! Get up here before I start molting feathers from old age! We don’t have all century!” Uly’s voice called from up above them. Despite the distance, the Peckmon still sounded loud and clear.

    “W-w-we should get g-going before Uly s-s-s-starts to worry,” Odie then said, slowly regaining back his composure as he swiftly resumed his ascent to the village. Despite that, he still looked a bit nervous. After what Fenrir just did, he couldn’t really blame the Shurimon.

    Fenrir shook his head and lightly slapped the sides of his face. ‘Get it together, Weissritter,’ he thought to himself. He then positioned his legs and jumped towards the wall, returning to his own style of ascension.

    Although impressive, Fenrir’s rise to the top was still slower than Odysseus, and he found himself panting slightly as he finally reached the top with a final jump. He quickly covered it up as he glanced at his two guides, both of whom look none the worse for wear.

    ‘I…still have more training to do,’ he thought as he straightened himself up.

    “Where to next?” he asked, turning to Odysseus.

    “Hey, mutt,” Uly called out, causing Fenrir to glare in him in reflex due to the name that Tiwaz always called him by. This caused the Peckmon to glower at the sudden show of anger from the supposedly aloof Beowolfmon. “U-uh…just…just look over there,” he said quickly, his nerves getting the better of him, and pointed towards the horizon.

    Fenrir closed his eyes to calm himself down before doing so, and the sight astounded him.

    He found himself gazing down at large crater, and within the crater was a village with a muted sound – he could only barely hear what was happening down below him – that belied the numerous activities that bustled within it. There were many Digimon out and about, most of whom were either farming crops or doing strange activities such as jumping from tree to tree or walk on water using a peculiar contraption. He assumed that the latter was considered as ninja training. The buildings that composed it were a combination of tall stories and short, flat houses, and they all seemed to have been made in a way to give the impression of a part of the forest. In fact, if he weren’t so close, he might have assumed that it really was. At the center of the crater was the largest of all the buildings. It seemed to have been built around a large tree, the crown of which was used as the roof of the structure.

    “Welcome to the ninja village, Fenrir,” Odysseus hailed him with a smile, walking to his side.

    “It’s…quiet,” he noted as he furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

    “Pretty cool, huh?” Uly noted, grinning. “The way our village is allows us to be as loud as we want without anyone from the outside hearing us. I don’t really get it, but Odie can fill you in. He’s better at that stuff than I am.”

    “It’s the way and how our buildings are made and placed,” the Shurimon continued, pointing to each of the houses with a shuriken edge before turning to the walls of the crater. “Our ancestors also did something to the walls that absorbs any of the sound that comes from the village. I haven’t exactly figured it out yet, but I hope to be able to someday.”

    Fenrir nodded as he took a step forward. The walls and the buildings didn’t look any way suspicious to him. “We can walk the rest of the way?”

    “Not unless the climb pooped you out,” Uly teased with a smirk.

    “I’m fine,” Fenrir found himself retorting as he started to walk forward.

    And then he unsheathed his sword once more and swung it forward, surprising both Odie and Uly when a short sword, which Fenrir noted was a weapon usually carried by ninjas, wielded by black-suited man suddenly struck Fenrir’s Beo Saber.

    The ambusher quickly jumped backwards when he realized that he had lost the element of surprise, narrowing his eyes. As he did so, Fenrir quickly took note of his opponent. He had a red bird-like mask and silver shoulder pads. The right shoulder pad sprouted a raven black wing, while the left one seemed to have a more artificial, metal wing that ran along the length of the left arm, which ended with a red-tipped clawed hand.

    ‘Ravemon, Fenrir thought to himself, readying his battle position. He ignored Odysseus and Uly when they suddenly called out to his new opponent with the names of Master and Falcion respectively. He couldn’t allow himself to get distracted.

    “Ulysses. Odysseus… I will deal with both of you later,” the Ravemon said with a steely, strict voice.

    “Wait, Master!” Odie tried to call, but he was left disregarded as the winged Digimon dashed at the wolfman, sword swinging.

    Fenrir dashed forward, locking blades for a split-second before the Ravemon’s weapon was forced back by the superior force behind Fenrir’s attack, which allowed the Beowolfmon a second chance to land a slash on his foe. The Ravemon was too quick, and he jumped into the air and over Fenrir, effectively dodging the attack and catching the Beowolfmon from behind in the process.

    Blast Wing,” the Ravemon stated as he suddenly spun with his left arm outstretched, creating a small whirlwind of deadly metal blades that struck Fenrir on the back, managing to pierce his armor.

    The Beowolfmon was knocked forward, and it was only through his excellent reflexes that he was able to use the momentum to roll back to his feet in time to raise the Beo Saber above his head horizontally, barely stopping the Ravemon’s weapon from cutting his head in half.

    Zweihander!” Fenrir snarled as his weapon flashed blue before creating his wolf spirit that crashed right onto the Ravemon’s chest, sending him back a few meters before bursting and further blowing him away, as well as freezing a good portion of his chest plate armor. Fenrir only seemed to have suffered minimal damage from the attack despite it being so close to him.

    Fenrir then stood up and turned around quickly, noticing that his Ravemon opponent had only to somersault in the air to land back on his feet, looking like he had barely taken the hit at all.

    The Beowolfmon cursed as he readied his stance; he was at a disadvantage against his opponent. While he was the stronger of the two, the Ravemon was more agile, and considering that their surroundings only consisted of flat ground, that meant he could freely move and reposition himself to his heart’s content.

    “Wait, Master Falcion! Please, listen!” Odie pleaded from the sidelines, too cautious to try and stand between the two fighters.

    “I said I’ll deal with both of you later,” the Ravemon named Falcion stated as he held out his right arm. “Shadow Pierce.”

    With a quick swing of his arm, he sent black feathers dashing towards Fenrir, who evaded to the side, seeing as some of the feathers embed themselves on the ground deeply. He did not want to get hit by any of those.

    However, as soon as Fenrir landed back on his feet, Falcion had already reached him, his sword ready to slash down. Fenrir quickly raised his weapon to block it the same way he did last time, but he did not notice the slight flash of victory in the Ravemon’s eyes as he slammed his sword against Fenrir’s.

    Ame-no-Ohabari!

    And then quick as its namesake, lightning of bright purple crackled from the Ravemon’s blade, running through Fenrir’s weapon and to his metal gloved-hand. And Fenrir yelled as electricity suddenly ran throughout his body. It only lasted for a mere second, but that was a second of great pain for the Beowolfmon, and when it finally ended, he stayed in his position as if having been paralyzed. Or dead.

    Falcion then pulled away from the Beowolfmon, taking careful steps backwards away from him.

    “F-Fenrir,” Odie stuttered, staring at the white wolf knight.

    “Damn,” Uly muttered. “He seemed stronger than that,” he added, frowning.

    “Odysseus. Ulysses.” Falcion turned to the two genins. “As punishment for breaking a rule, clean this up. I expect him to be nothing but data in the air before the sun peaks,” he commanded.

    “B-but…M-m-m-m-master, he was only looking f-f-for information,” Odysseus said weakly. “He…he s-s-said it was important…”

    “Yeah. You know Odie, Falcion. He doesn’t break a rule without a good reason,” the Peckmons said with a frown, although he looked away when the Ravemon fixed his steely gaze towards him. “Y-you should have at least heard him out before you made him kick the bucket…at least then we didn’t have to go through the trouble of bringing him here for nothing.”

    “As per according to our law, any outsider that has not been deemed worthy to enter the village will be disposed of in due haste.” the Ravemon said almost robotically. “Neither you nor Odysseus have earned the right to decide whether someone can or cannot come into our village.”

    Then he sighed. “We only do this to protect our village. We can only imagine if someone unworthy were to enter and leave, only to share the secret that is our home to the whole world,” he said, sounding less harsh.

    “Then why didn’t you try to evaluate him?” Ulysses asked with a frown. “I mean, you are the village’s current Silver Crow…”

    “And I have evaluated him,” Falcion stated simply. “And he has failed.”

    Odysseus frowned, not understanding. “He…he did…? B-but you didn’t even talk with him…”

    “He could not best me in battle,” the Ravemon then said, sheathing his blade.

    “But…barely anyone in the village can beat you,” Uly said, his frown growing deeper.

    “Which is how I have kept the village safe,” was his reply.

    “So…I…only…have to…beat you…?”

    In surprise, the three ninjas turned to where Fenrir’s paralyzed body was supposed to be, except it looked alive, although looking halfway from death’s door. He had somehow forced his body to once more take his position of battle, and he glared at the Ravemon.

    “You are…still alive…?” Falcion wondered, shock painted on his usually calm face and his hand reaching for the hilt of his weapon.

    “Ha! I knew he was stronger than that!” Uly cheered, forgetting that he wasn’t supposed to like the Beowolfmon. Odysseus merely smiled in relief.

    “If…I am to die…it will not…be because of you,” Fenrir said, narrowing his eyes.

    For a moment, the Ravemon regarded him in silence, scrutinizing him. And then he spoke. “Odie, Uly, I retract my orders. Instead, collect this outsider and bring him in for treatment, and then bring him to High Master Agamemnon,” he said, releasing the hilt of his weapon and started to walk towards Fenrir.

    Fenrir didn’t lower his guard, but he raised an eyebrow at the Ravemon, who suddenly stopped in front of him.

    “You survived my Ame-no-Ohabari…not many can say they have done so and lived to tell the tale,” Falcion told him.

    The Beowolfmon stayed silent for a moment before replying, “I’ve…experienced…far worse.”

    The Ravemon absorbed those words in his mind, awestruck and slightly frightened at the idea of such attacks that were more dreadful and agonizing than his own. “I see…very well, then. I hope that I get to fight with you again…Fenrir, was it that Odie called you?”

    The knight didn’t give him any form of confirmation, but the Ravemon continued on despite so. “Until your wounds heal, then, wolf.”

    Falcion then started to walk past him, only barely hearing Fenrir’s parting words.

    “It will be my victory next time.”

    The Ravemon didn’t say anything back and only thought within the confines of his own mind, ‘Only if you can take it from me, outsider.

    Only when the black suited Digimon was at a distance did Fenrir allow himself to lower his weapon, sheathing it back despite the ache of his muscles. He stood as straight as he could before turning to Odysseus and Ulysses, the latter of which was grinning widely at him.

    “After that, man, you got my respect. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone still conscious after big brother’s strongest attack,” he said with a large grin.

    “You can praise him later, Uly,” Odie said as he gave Fenrir a weak smile. “We should get you to our village doctor. He’s a bit eccentric, but he’s one of the best healer’s around.” Fenrir doubted the former statement; after Cogwej, no one else could possible seem eccentric to him anymore.

    “Pav,” he then said.

    “Uh…gesundheit?” Uly replied.

    “No…my companion,” Fenrir restated as he turned back to the forest. “He’s still…back in the clearing.”

    “Oh, the big one,” the Peckmon realized, blinking.

    “I’ll go get him,” he said with a nod as he started to turn back, only to stop mid-turn. “Uh, he won’t attack me on sight, right?”

    Fenrir gave him a slight smile. “Probably not…”

    “You don’t sound so sure,” Uly said with a frown.

    “Well, I can do it,” Odie offered, only for the Peckmon to shake his head.

    “Nah, if he does start attacking, I’m faster than you are. He doesn’t seem that fast; I’ll just tire him out before talking to him. I’m the fastest genin around, remember?” he asked with a large grin before turning back to the cliff edge, spreading his wings before jumping back down.

    The Shurimon then turned back to Fenrir. “I’ll help you to the treatment hut then,” he said with a small smile. “It’s not that far from the edge of the village.”

    The Beowolfmon nodded and turned towards the village, starting to walk towards it at a staggered pace. Turing his back towards Odie allowed the young ninja to see initial damage that had been done to him: four cuts that pierced his armor and skin, along with a number of scratches of varying depths. He couldn’t help but admire the Beowolfmon for not cringing at the pain it must obviously cause him.

    “W-wait for me!” he then called out, running to catch up to the Beowolfmon.

    -​

    “Spectacular!” Cogwej exclaimed in wonder and awe.

    “So we’re in a giant tree that houses a bunch of bugs. What’s so amazing about that?” Tiwaz muttered as he, Cogwej and their new companion Taranis were lead, only partially as astonished at their current location. In fact, it only made he feel more irritable; he definitely wouldn’t be able to use his godly fire in here.

    Just as the EmperorGreymon said, the trio was only occupying an extremely miniscule amount of space inside what seemed to them as the largest tree of the whole forest. It was gigantic from the outside, and from the inside, it felt larger than that. The fact that there seemed to be hundreds of insect Digimon of all shapes and sizes buzzing, crawling and fluttering about all around them only reinforced the idea.

    “To be able to witness the sight of a genuine insect hive of such a caliber is simply astounding! Why, if only I were not bound by the adhesive secretions of the abominable, atrocious arachnid, I would fancy conducting research here!” the Wisemon stated as his head swiveled from side to side, determined to see and examine as much as he could.

    “You could say that again! I’ve seen some real impressive hives before, but this place is crawling with bugs!” Taranis said with a large grin.

    Tiwaz rolled his eyes. He didn’t understand what was so amazing about it. As far as he could remember, a lot of insect Digimon still lived in homes such as these, although he didn’t quite understand how they were able to make rooms and bridges and the like in the tree without harming it. Now that he was in one, he noted that he didn’t see anything that could have been made by hand. Must be a bug thing.

    He turned to the JewelBeemon that kept on poking his back with his spear. “Hey, bug man, how much longer are you going to make us walk?” he asked grumpily.

    The reply he got was only a series of chattering and hissing that he couldn’t make heads or tails out of.

    “Oh, right, you have a speaking disability,” he grunted as he turned away. He looked at Taranis. “Can’t you translate or something?”

    The MegaKabuterimon shrugged his large shoulders. “Sorry, can’t say I know this dialect,” he said with a tone of humor. Tiwaz grunted in reply.

    “You will not wait longer, captive,” a familiar, raspy female voice called from out front, causing both Tiwaz and Taranis turned their heads to the Arukenimon at the front. “We are almost to the High King-“

    What followed was a sequence of chirps and sounds that once again Tiwaz didn’t understand. He was beginning to get annoyed by it, actually.

    “Oh! I understood that!” Taranis exclaimed with surprise. “Every insect Digimon does. It’s the insect equivalent of royalty!”

    “In other words, the boss,” Tiwaz simplified with a frown. “Good, I have a few words for how he treats his visitors,” he growled, causing the JewelBeemon to once again poke him. “Will you f*cking stop that!?” he snarled, only to be prodded once more.

    “I swear, if you do that once more, you will regret it,” he threatened in a low, dangerous voice that instantly stopped their convoy’s movements and made all the armed Digimon point their weapons at him.

    “Hey, Tiwaz, calm down,” the MegaKabuterimon said with a slightly nervous expression. “We’re in a web that’s tangled enough as it is, after all. See?” he said as he raised his cobweb bound wrists.

    A sudden screech, that which made the trio of captives as well as a few of insect captors cringe or cover their ears in pain. As soon as it ended, they all turned to the source of the terrible sound: the Arukenimon.

    “Silence, prisoners!” And then she turned to the guards and spouted off some words in their language in an irritated manner, causing most of them to suddenly look embarrassed and Taranis to chuckle.

    “What is so humorous?” Cogwej asked him curiously.

    “Looks like we weren’t the only ones bugging the spider lady,” he replied to the Wisemon.

    “I said silence!” the Arukenimon commanded, turning to the two of them. “You will all be on best behavior in front of the High King!” she instructed, giving each one of them a glare, one which at least Tiwaz returned.

    Despite the act of defiance from the dragon man, the spider lady seemed satisfied, and she turned to show them to a rather large opening that was covered with vines. As she did so, someone unseen from the inside move the vines away, allowing the Arukenimon and the rest of the convoy in.

    As Tiwaz and his companions were led in, they noted the rather large room, the walls of which were coated in various kinds of vines, molds, and fungi. There were many tiny holes where light peeked through the walls, and they were adequate enough to light the room at a degree at which Tiwaz and Cog could see clearly. The floor was uneven, made only by the wood of the tree they lived in and looked very much like intertwining roots.

    For the all the size of the room, its only occupants were the new convoy and scant four others, although one of the four seemed to tower many sizes over all of the others. It was an insect-type Digimon with similar features to Taranis himself, although there were slight differences, the main ones being the impressive set of horns, the size and the gleaming color, for this other arthropod had a golden exoskeleton from eyeless head to sharp-clawed toe.

    “W-wow!” Taranis muttered in awe. “A HerculesKabuterimon! I’ve heard that only one in a million insect Digimon ever become one! They’re like celebrities of the bug world!” he said, amazed at his situation. Beside him, Cogwej was just as enthralled.

    “Incredible! I simply need to interview him! Can he really fly at supersonic speed? And do they have the same ant-like ability to carry over two fifty times their weight?” he spouted off enthusiastically, desperately trying to get his hands unbound so that he can write down his notes.

    Tiwaz, on the other hand, used his time to look at the rest of the room’s occupants. The one that had moved the vines away was a more humanoid Digimon, although she too was an insect-type Digimon. She had a green exoskeleton and two pairs of wings as well as black, clawed gloves and black feet. She had two red-green alternating antennae and two large red eyes and a bright orange Y shaped mark between them. He quietly noted that she was a Stingmon.

    The next one he spotted was just as gold and shiny as the large HerculesKabuterimon, although he looked to be the shortest of the four. He was also more beetle-like, despite standing on two legs. He had three arms on each side of his body, and each one ended with a hand that held a short rod with a three-pronged blade on each end. Around his waist was a twined cloth that contained a gold-threaded loincloth with symbols on it. Around his neck was a necklace of monk beads. From the top of his head, he could remember that the name of his species was Kongoumon.

    The last one looked to be the most terrifying of all them, despite being smaller than the largest of all the occupants in the room. He had a skeleton body that resembled that of a scorpion. His poisonous tail tip was comprised of a sharp-pointed blade protruding from a bony tail, and from what was supposed to be his ribcage jutted four red, pointy ribs. He only had two arms unlike most of the other insect Digimon, but they ended with large pincers that looked like they could snap Tiwaz’s head off with a flick of the wrist. Finally, he had a bony head with three, yellow eyes and a large, gaping mouth full of sharp teeth. A SkullScorpiomon, and a dangerous looking one at that.

    Then the Arukenimon started chirping in front of them, addressing the large HerculesKabuterimon in front of them. Tiwaz assumed that he was the so-called High King. And then he turned the three of them.

    “So…you are the three to have somehow outsmarted our ways of keeping people out,” the large insect Digimon rumbled.

    To their surprise, his voice was nothing like the spider Digimon’s. It was deep and clear, not at all sounding unused to their native tongue. It was loud, but not at all threatening. If anything, it was fatherly and wise, although by the way he slowly said his words and carried himself, Tiwaz got the feeling that this was one Digimon that he would not want to mess with.

    “Well, I don’t think we were really outsmarting anyone,” Taranis cut in with a sheepish look. “Or at least I wasn’t.”

    “Quite so. As astute as I usually am-“

    “Yeah right,” Tiwaz muttered.

    “-I did not notice at all that someone was attempting to lead me astray,” Cogwej said, looking thoughtful.

    “Oh?” the HerculesKabuterimon wondered as he looked at the other insect Digimon in the room. He then started with the series of chitters and clicks, somehow managing to sound very wizened and dignified in Tiwaz’s ears. When the EmperorGreymon bothered to look at the Digimon he was speaking to, he was surprised to see that they all looked rather humiliated in one form or another.

    And then he found the Arukenimon chattering and pointing at him and then Cogwej accusingly, glaring at them.

    “What? Got a problem with me?” Tiwaz said with a frown. “I dare you to take these bindings off and then say that!” he challenged despite not understanding a word she said.

    “Uh, she wasn’t insulting you, Tiwaz,” the MegaKabuterimon beside him cleared up for him. “It’s actually Cog that she’s angry with.”

    “Me? What did I do!?” Cogwej queried indignantly.

    “You distracted my child and her team long enough for your friend to enter the forest unhindered,” the HerculesKabuterimon answered him.

    “Your child?” Cogwej repeated, blinking.

    The golden insect Digimon nodded. “Yes, Lucara is my child, as are Yz’ra, Karas and Zeriz,” the large insect Digimon said as he pointed to the Stingmon, Kongoumon and SkullScorpiomon. “Although I consider all of people my children,” he said, nodding to the other Digimon that led the trio to the room.

    “Your children have such peculiar names. Do they have any special meaning?” Cogwej asked as he tried to get his notebook out despite his bindings.

    “They are not their true names. They are simply…pseudonyms for their real names, which I am quite certain that neither you nor your dragon friend can pronounce,” the large Digimon explained. “Ah, where are my manners? As my true name is difficult to pronounce, you may call me Thundarul.”

    “Speaking of manners, isn’t it rude to keep your guests tied against their will?” Tiwaz spoke out loud, causing the Arukenimon named Lucara and the Kongoumon named Karas to glare at him, the former of the two chattering at him in the language he was slowly growing to hate.

    “You will not speak to father that way!” the Kongoumon translated, or so Tiwaz assumed. His own voice was still croaky and harsh, although it was far better and clearer than that of the Arukenimon’s.

    “No, no, the dragon man is correct. Let them go,” Thundarul ordered, relaying the command in his language after and causing the two, as well as those that had lead the trio, to stare at their father incredulously. And when they did nothing, his voice suddenly rumbled intimidatingly in their language, causing everyone in the room to wince or cringe, and the nearby JewelBeemon that had been poking Tiwaz so frequently quickly cut the cobwebs, freeing the EmperorGreymon as others did the same for his comrades.

    “Finally!” Tiwaz grinned and flexed his wrists and hands, enjoying the feeling of freedom. And he wasn’t the only one.

    With his hands free, Cogwej swiftly took out his notebook and pen and wrote down as much as he could remember off the top of his head, which thankfully meant that he would at least be quiet for a moment.

    “Please forgive my children,” Thundaril requested with a bow of his head. “They had not yet been born since the last time we have had visitors, both hostile and friendly, in the Enigmatic Woods, although I have yet to decide which of the two you three are.”

    ’Which means that he’s sure enough that they, or at least he, can handle all three of us if we were enemies,’ Tiwaz thought to himself. He wasn’t sure if the HerculesKabuterimon was wrong in his assumption either.

    “You should know, you guys are the ones that have been keeping them out,” Tiwaz commented as he folded his arms. The HerculesKabuterimon raised a hand before his children could say that Tiwaz was once again overstepping his bounds.

    “As we have done so for many ages, as my father has done before me, as his father has done before him, and so on,” the High King said in a slightly tired voice.

    “Why did they have to do that?” Taranis cut in, rubbing his head in slight confusion. He then pointed to the group that had kept them captive. “I mean, just look at these guys. If you guys were attacked, I think they’re very capable in defending the whole place. You guys even got the home advantage!”

    “Because within the boundary of this forest is a secret we have been keeping for-“

    He was interrupted again, but this time, by all four of his children. The sudden outburst of tuts, chatter, hisses and screeches was beginning to cause Tiwaz a headache, but at least then he could bring his palms to his ears. “By Buri, make them stop!” he growled in annoyance.

    Unfortunately for him, the cacophony of buzzing was drowned out by a louder and sufficiently more terrifying sound of the HerculesKabuterimon’s screech. “Gah! Bring back the last one; this one’s worse!” Taranis called out, pressing his four hands against the sides of his head.

    And then as suddenly as it started, it stopped, only to be followed by the HerculesKabuterimon’s booming voice speaking in a language that Tiwaz, Cog and Taranis could understand. “Are there any in this room that doubt my authority? That believe me to have become so old that I cannot wisely choose what to say and what to keep to myself?” he asked, sounding not at all old. “Well?”

    For a long moment, the room was pregnant with silence. Even those outside the room had heard the High King’s loud screech and were dumbfounded into silence.

    “N-no, father,” the Stingmon, Yz’ra, finally said, breaking the silence. Her voice was like her father’s: clear and devoid of the coarseness of her siblings’ voices. “We just…do not trust these strangers,” she said, turning to Tiwaz, Cog and Taranis.

    “Hmm…but I do, young one,” Thundarul said in a softer and kinder tone, turning to them.

    “Is it your sight, father?” she asked in a slightly curious tone.

    “They do not give off the aura of malice, my daughter.”

    “Excuse me?” Cog suddenly interrupted. “What is this about sight? Are you clairvoyant perhaps? If so, I would very much like to know what is in my future and whether this journey of mine will end fortuitously!” he exclaimed in eagerness.

    “Not quite,” the large insect Digimon said as he stepped closer to them and lowered his head. “Take a close look at my face, although I apologize for how ferocious I must look to you. What do you observe?”

    “Let’s see now…you seem to be made of a tough, golden material, and you’re horns are quite sizable; I theorize that you may be able to carry many times your weight using them!” the Wisemon remarked, writing down notes on his notebook.

    He stopped when the HerculesKabuterimon chuckled, a strange sound coming from one so large and intimidating. “Something more apparent than that,” he said.

    “You don’t have eyes,” Tiwaz said, doing his own observing.

    “What’s wrong with not having eyes?” Taranis complained, turning to him with his own eye-less head.

    “I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. I’m just saying,” the dragon man replied, folding his arms.

    “Well, you sounded insulting!”

    “I wasn’t insulting him!”

    “Well, maybe we just don’t see eye to eye about it!”

    Tiwaz’s eye twitched. He suddenly got the feeling that Taranis started the argument just to say those words.

    “Nonetheless, the dragon is correct,” Thundarul said as he stood back up straight. “Digimon such as I and your MegaKabuterimon friend have either impaired eyesight or none at all,” he told them. “Although unclear, there are miniscule openings on my helmet that I can use to discern vague shapes and colors, but nothing so detailed. For that, I have something of a special ability, which your friend may also have: electroreception.”

    “Electro-whatnow?” Tiwaz asked, frowning.

    “Electroreception, Twihard, is the biological ability to naturally perceive electrical energy, such as the electricity that we living beings emit. It can be used to locate other creatures, as well as their surroundings, especially when sight is impossible or vestigial,” he explained, although the dragon man only barely understood his explanation.

    “It means we can ‘see’ the electricity others emit. We can also see where the weak electricity we emit bounces off of. It actually gives a pretty detailed picture with it. I can probably see better with my Beetlemon form, but I like having it. It’s like having echolocation, but cooler,” Taranis simplified for him with a grin.

    Thundarul nodded in agreement. “My electroreception, however, has an added feature of allowing me to see a form of aura around living creatures that allows me to determine whether one is of good character,” he told the trio.

    “So just because of what you see around us, you think we’re good Digimon?” Tiwaz asked, slightly skeptical but not looking the metaphorical gift Unimon in the mouth.

    “Perhaps I do, perhaps I don’t. It has not always been one hundred percent correct,” the HerculesKabuterimon said. “However, it has been quite some time since you have all been released, and none of you have shown any signs of aggression, have you?”

    “Well, no,” Tiwaz muttered, rubbing the back of his neck.

    “Then I believe I have made the right choice,” the High King replied with his own version of a grin.

    “Right, well, I have a question for you,” Tiwaz then said. He waited for the reprimand from the Arukenimon and the Kongoumon, but they didn’t come. A quick glance told him that they wanted to, but their father’s outburst probably made them rethink their decision to open their mouths. “What’s this about a secret?”

    At his words, there was a sudden shift in the ambience of the room. The tension was noticeable thicker, and a number of the bug Digimon around them were suddenly looking nervous.

    “This…secret…involves a powerful entity in this forest,” Thundarul told them. “A powerful entity that, in the wrong hands, has the power to change the world…and may even destroy it.”

    “Oh my glorious peaches, it’s the relic!” Cogwej suddenly exclaimed in excitement, causing everyone to look at him.

    “Re…lic?” Yz’ra repeated, not familiar with the word.

    “Objects of old, my daughter. It is what our secret is,” he enlightened her, as well as the rest of his children.

    “There! That is proof enough that we should capture them!” Karas exclaimed, pointing one of his six gold arms at Cogwej. “They are trying to find and steal it!” he accused.

    Tiwaz turned to him and growled despite the Kongoumon being somewhat right. “Hey, you don’t even know what we’re here for, so don’t go pointing fingers!” he growled back, to which Karas sneered back.

    Thundarul turned to his golden son, speaking once more in their native tongue, and then he addressed the rest of the room’s occupants that could understand him. The expression of surprise and indignation that suddenly appeared on Karas’ face was enough to bring a smug smile on Tiwaz’s own. Whatever Thundarul said, it meant that he was on their side, or at least not on the Kongoumon’s.

    The beetle Digimon then turned around, giving Tiwaz one last loathing look before marching out of the room, followed by the rest of the insect Digimon. Yz’ra and Zeriz the SkullScorpiomon, however, seemed to have been told to stay.

    “Now then,” Thundarul said as he turned back to Cogwej, Tiwaz and Taranis. “Before anything else, I need to know your names, adventurers,” he asked of them with a slight nod.

    “Of course. I am called-“

    I’ll be doing the introductions here,” Tiwaz suddenly cut Cogwej off with a meaningful look. “The last thing we want is for you to screw up our names again,” he mutters as he turned to the High King.

    “My name’s Tiwaz Koenig. I’m a knight-errant but I’m currently his bodyguard,” he introduced himself with a slight bow. He then pointed to Cogwej. “My employer’s not very good with names. He forgot his own name – trust me, he really did – so we just call him Cogwej. You don’t want to know what it means,” he said simply, causing Cogwej to fold his arms and turn away from the EmperorGreymon with an audible humph.

    “And I’m Taranis Valthor,” the MegaKabuterimon greeted with a wave of his hand. “I’m just a cartographer slash explorer,” he explained.

    “Ah…Well then. Tiwaz, Cogwej, Taranis, you seem to be aware of what we have tried to keep hidden in our home… As one of the lords of this forest, I need to know why,” he told them.

    Before Tiwaz could ask what he meant by ‘one of the lords’, and before Taranis could say that he just recently met his two new friends, Cogwej opened his mouth to answer.

    “I have been searching for the relics, the Spirits of Elements, for many years! They are increasingly significant for my research, and I firmly believe that I will eventually find a way to harness their incredible power to further improve our world!” the cloaked scientist said. There was no tone of malice in his voice or even the smugness that he usually had. It was the sincerest and most honest Tiwaz had ever heard him.

    “Hmm…please correct me if I am wrong, but am I right in saying that you have already obtained a few of these relics?” he asked, surprising Tiwaz and even Cogwej.

    “Why, yes, we do! How do you know?” the latter asked in surprise before his eyes glittered in excitement. “No, wait, let me guess! You really are clairvoyant!” he said enthusiastically.

    To his disappointment, Thundarul shook his head. “No…no, I am not. But one of my great forefathers before me knew of one. He came to this forest and hid one of such relics, asking him and two others to guard it with utmost urgency. He then left, leaving them a prophecy that someone who had already collected a few of the other relics would come to get it. And I believe he was talking about you,” the HerculesKabuterimon told them.

    Cogwej blinked. “Well, what do you think of that? I’m already famous, and I have yet to release any of my discoveries or inventions!” he exclaimed happily.

    “Geeze, Cogwej, you really believe him?” Tiwaz asked as he folded his arms, cynical about what they were told. “Come on, prophecy? Clairvoyance…that’s seeing the future, right? How the hell am I supposed to believe in that?” he asked rhetorically.

    The HerculesKabuterimon shook his head head. “I am afraid I have nothing to prove it other than my word and the words of my forefathers. However, I am able to tell you a name,” he offered. “A Baronmon by the name of Brahm Trimurti.”

    Tiwaz frowned and tilted his head, trying to remember if he had ever heard of the name before. “Sorry, I don’t know him,” he then said after a while.

    “But I do!” Cogwej suddenly spoke up as he procured his book from somewhere on his body.

    “You do!?” Tiwaz asked in shock.

    “Of course! He may very well be the reason why I am on this journey in the first place!” the Wisemon said as he opened the book and suddenly thrust his arm through the pages, which caused everyone but Tiwaz to stare in amazement.

    Taranis opened his mouth to speak. “D-did he just-“

    “Yes. Don’t ask how. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Just be happy you didn’t find out about it the way I did,” Tiwaz told him, shuddering.

    “Aha! Here it is!” Cogwej exclaimed as he pulled another book out of his larger one. He held it in front of him reverently, carefully sweeping away the dust that had collected on its cover. “The Ten Spirits, written by one that’s named Brom Trinity.”

    Tiwaz slapped his forehead. “Are you really sure it’s the same person?”

    “Absolutely,” the Wisemon replied as he opened the book. “This piece of ancient literature has told me everything that I need to know about the ten spirits, as well as their general locations,” he told the EmperorGreymon.

    “You know, Cog, it really would have been useful if you had told me and Fen about that book three months ago,” he replied with a disbelieving look.

    “Hmm…so I believe this means I am correct?” Thundarul then said. “That you and your friends are the ones who will finally take this secret from our hands and allow us to finally show ourselves to our world, to allow my people and children to finally be free?” he asked in a voice that told of his great love for his subjects.

    “Well, if you put it that way,” Tiwaz started, finding that the tone of Thundarul’s voice striking a chord in his helpful and sympathetic nature.

    “Very well…then allow my children, Yz’ra and Zeriz, to be your guides to the temple where it is hidden,” the HerculesKabuterimon offered.

    Cog nodded as he returned his book inside his other book. “Of course! If it means we’ll get to the Spirit of Wood much faster, then we would love to have them!” he said, eager to finally collect the next relic.

    Thundarul nodded. “They will also help you avoid the ninjas and the birds,” he told them.

    “The ninjas and the birds?” Taranis repeated on confusion.

    “Do they have anything to do with the other lords of the forest you were talking about?” Tiwaz asked with a serious expression.

    “Yes. Agamemnon and Menelaus. A Jijimon and a Phoenixmon pair that lead the village of ninjas opposite from us,” the golden insect informed them. “Our villages protect the secret of the Enigmatic Forest together, however…”

    “However, the ninjas have suddenly become secretive and guarded. They will not allow anyone from our village into the temple,” Yz’ra said, sounding resentful.

    “But we have sources that say that the relic is still within the temple…although we do not know where exactly it is,” Thundarul’s last offspring, Zeriz the SkullScorpiomon, finally spoke. His voice was the next clearest following Yz’ra and their father. “We have some of our people inside trying to find it and why the ninja’s have become reticent, but we have yet to find a lead.”

    “Then maybe we can find out for you. We’re going inside the temple anyway,” Tiwaz said with a confident grin.

    “We are settled, then?” Thundarul asked, to which he was answered with nods of confirmation except from one. “When shall you leave?”

    “Immediately!” Cogwej and Tiwaz answered simultaneously.

    And all the while, Taranis was wondering what kind of mess he had got himself caught up in by offering the seemingly harmless Wisemon food.
     
  12. Fenrir looked at his unarmored self in the makeshift mirror that was a water basin. He noted the peculiar material that made up the bandage around his chest and torso, and the smell of the medicinal salve that radiated from his back beneath it. It wasn’t wrapped too tightly around his body that he couldn’t move properly, and the medicine felt good on his newly made injuries and had enough of an anesthetic effect that he barely felt the pain.

    With a quick and grateful nod to the physician and doctor of the village, a Digimon whose whole body composed of a large tree trunk with long wide branches for arms and various twigs and branches stemming from the top of his head where pouches of herbs were hung from, he quickly donned back his armor and sheathed his weapon.

    “Are you done, Fenrir?” Odie’s voice called out from the entrance of the room.

    “Yes,” Fenrir replied as he turned to the door. “Thank you, once more,” he told the Woodmon doctor.

    “Oh, don’t worry, it’s our job,” the Woodmon replied. “Juniper enjoyed your quiet company, didn’t you, Juniper?” the doctor said as he glanced at a purple pouch hung over his right eye. And then he got a sheepish expression.

    “Yes, yes, Aloe, you were very helpful,” he then said, turning to a green, striped pouch that hung from a twig on the right side of his head.

    Then the doctor gasped, turning to a brown pouch near his left eye. “Feverfew, watch your language! Just because you were not needed for this procedure does not mean you should want someone to come back sick!” the Woodmon doctor exclaimed before turning back to Fenrir. “Please excuse Feverfew, he is a bit short tempered when he sits still for too long,” he apologized to the Beowolfmon.

    Fenrir nodded without reply, quickly exiting the room. So perhaps there really were people that could out-weird Cogwej. While he was grateful for the help the doctor gave him, he was quite relieved to be able to leave the treatment hut behind.

    The moment he exited, he was treated to the sight of a familiar PileVolcamon carrying the camp bag he left in the clearing and standing between Odysseus and Ulysses.

    “Pavamana, you made it,” Fenrir said, walking over with a slight smile to greet his companion. Upon closer look, he noticed that the blacksmith’s armor was dented and scratched and many places, while his clothes seemed to have gained a few new tears.

    “Yes, I have, thanks to young Ulysses,” he replied with his own tiny smile, turning to the Peckmon.

    “Thanks to me?” the ninja bird repeated in surprise. “Hello? You just bulldozered right through the trap tunnel without getting a single real wound without any of my help! You’re already on whole new levels of awesome!”

    Pavaman simply shrugged, causing Fenrir to raise an eyebrow at him.

    “Volcanic Driver through the tunnel that they laid traps in. I did not realize that it would make me fast enough to push through ‘til the end,” he explained with a small, sheepish smile.

    “Ah.” Fenrir nodded, although he knew that Pavamana’s technique was far stronger and more capable than the PileVolcamon realized it was. He did, after all, see the attack at work first hand.

    “Shall I bring you two to the masters now?” Odie asked.

    “Masters?” Fenrir asked, raising an eyebrow. He had only heard Falcion mention one High Master by the name of Agamemnon.

    Both Uly and Odie nodded at the same time. “Along with High Master Agamemnon is Sky Master Menelaus. They both lead the village together and reside at Gaia Temple,” Odie told them, pointing to the large building built around the tree.

    “Aggie usually keeps the ninjas in line, while Sky Master Menelaus watches the birds and avians,” Uly explained as he folded his arms grumpily. “That means I’ve got two masters looking over my shoulder since I’m both.”

    Odie gave him a sympathetic look. “The masters are the ones who decide whether we ninjas are ready to rank up from genin to chuunin, or in the case of avians, from sparrows to crows,” the Shurimon told them.

    “Well…shall we go then?” Pavamana suggested.

    “O-oh! Yes, of course!” Odysseus said as he started to walk towards the large building, although not using the dirt path that lead to it.

    “Me and Odie here agreed to take a less public route since you two would probably grab too much attention,” Uly told the two guests as they followed the Shurimon. “I mean, all Pavamana did was get through the trap tunnel unharmed – still awesome, by the way – and he’s already got a good portion of the village talking about him,” he informed them.

    Pavamana nodded in agreement, remembering the crowd that had gathered around him as soon as he exited the tunnel.

    “We haven’t had any visitors in a long time, after all,” Odysseus commented as he made sure that the routes they were taking didn’t have any people.

    “Hm…the forest isn’t magic. You’re leading people back out,” Fenrir said, realizing what the two had been trying to do to him and to Pavamana.

    “Yep!” Uly confirmed proudly. “Been doing it for years! Well, at least the village has. Me and Odie just started a month ago, and we’ve already turned around at least thirteen people who thought they could solve the ‘mystery’ of the forest,” he boasted as he raised his chest smugly…before realizing that the two people who were able to get through their tricks were right beside him. “And well…you two are the first people to actually get in without a hitch.”

    “I’m not that easy to fool,” Fenrir told them simply.

    “If it isn’t too much trouble, how do you make people leave?” Pavamana inquired with a curious tone. He wondered if it could somehow be useful to bring back such information to his hometown.

    “Oh, you need a lot of training!” Uly bragged, looking at his feather tips nonchalantly.

    “Not really,” Odie commented with a slight smile at Ulysses direction, who stuck his tongue out at him. “We just try to change a few things to make people believe their walking in the same direction when we’re actually influencing them to change course. Maybe an illusion of a tree or a branch in the way or using sounds and scents,” he noted.

    “Ah…and your scents?” Fenrir asked, trying to find out how they were able to hide their smile, as well as Tiwaz’s and Cog’s.

    “It’s a mixture that our medicine man makes for us,” Uly said. “It’s supposed to smell really strongly of the forest. We’re kind of low on stock of it, though, since we haven’t got a new batch of the stuff that’s supposed to make it really effective.”

    “Oh? Why is that?” Pavamana asked.

    Odie smiled slightly. “There’s another village on the other side of the forest composed completely of insect-type Digimon that supplies it for us. They also help in keeping people out of the forest, although…for some reason, we haven’t been allowed to interact with them,” the Shurimon noted with a slight tone of deflation.

    “Oh, right, you’re friends with that Stingmon girl,” Uly commented with a roll of his eyes.

    “It’s not like they did anything…Master Falcion just told us that we weren’t allowed to talk with them for a while,” Odysseus muttered with a slight frown.

    “Three months is way longer than ‘just a while’. Don’t you think it’s gotta be a big thing if this is going that long?” Uly asked him, attempting to sound logical.

    “Excuse me, but what are you talking about?” Pavamana suddenly interrupted the two of them, a visible frown on his face.

    “W-well…it’s just that whenever we see anyone else from the other village while we’re out in the forest, they look hostile or angry at us. We used to have a lot of Digimon from the other village visiting, but as of late, relations have been…strained,” Odie said, sounding forlorn about the situation.

    “And no one knows the reason why?” Pav asked.

    “Only the masters know. And probably Scimitar and my brother, Falcion, but they’d never tell anyone,” Uly complained with a slight frown.

    “Scimitar?” Fenrir repeated.

    Odie nodded. “He’s a Karatenmon, and he’s the Golden Crow to Master Falcion’s Silver. If ever the high masters are unavailable, then they’re going to take command. But…”

    “But?” Fenrir pressed, somehow feeling that this was important.

    “But we haven’t seen Scimitar since the order to stay away from the bugs. He’s supposed to be on some sort of top-secret, high priority mission, but what kind of mission keeps you away that long when you’re confined to the forest?” Uly asked rhetorically.

    Before anyone else could reply, Odie spoke up. “We’re here,” he said, turning to Fenrir and Pavamana. “Give me a moment to tell the guards who you are,” he asked as he walked over to a pair of short, dumpling-shaped Digimon with purple ninja suits. A pair of Kougamon.

    “Should we be aware of any customs?” Pavamana then asked Uly with a raised eyebrow. Being best friends with a mayor of a town, he was aware that there were some traditions and etiquette that needed to be observed when in the presence of people of high rank.

    “Uh…check all of your belongings before, then make sure you still have everything after,” Uly replied with a sheepish look. Fenrir raised an eyebrow and looked at Pavamana the same time the PileVolcamon turned to him.

    “We can go in now!” Odie called out to the trio.

    Ulysses nodded with a grin. “Come on, you two. We can’t keep them waiting!” he said as he walked inside, followed by the Beowolfmon and the PileVolcamon.

    Fenrir looked around to observe the design of the building they were in. It was simple and practical, mostly made of wood and paper walls. There was the occasional ornament that held a weapon of a ninja or a tapestry that seemed to depict a story or a ninja of sorts, but other than that, it seemed to him that the building was bare except for the essentials. And when he turned back to the front, he saw that they were in front of the tree that had composed the center of the building. And what surprised him about it was that there was a hole on the tree that lead to its inside, which looked rather spacious from where he was standing. And standing right outside to welcome them was a familiar Ravemon.

    “Thank you, Uly, Odie,” Falcion thanked as he turned to Fenrir and Pavamana. “Fenrir…and Pavamana, correct? I have informed the master of your presence. He is waiting for you.”

    “And what about Menelaus?” Fenrir asked bluntly, causing the Ravemon to raise an eyebrow.

    “You know of Sky Master Menelaus?” Falcion asked, raising an eyebrow. And then he turned to Odysseus and Ulysses. “Have neither of you learned to keep our secrets at all?” he asked, sounding slightly exasperated.

    “I th-thought that I should t-tell them,” Odie said a bit weakly.

    “Come on, bro. It’s not like they weren’t going to find out sooner or later,” Uly defended Odie, stepping forward slightly despite the look his brother gave him.

    “Let all of them in, Silver Crow,” a melodious voice from the inside called.

    “Yes, master!” the Ravemon answered immediately, stepping out of the way. “Please, come in.”

    Without further prompting, Fenrir started to walk past Odie and Uly, followed by Pavamana. He wanted to get this over quickly.

    The moment he came in, Fenrir noticed one thing. It was a really big room, and the ceiling was composed only of the branches of the tree, letting a lot of sunlight in. At the center was a large opening where he assumed the Sky Master used as an entrance.

    Speaking of the Sky Master, Fenrir immediately assumed that he was the large bird – although he was more akin to a phoenix than a simple bird – settled on one of the tree’s large branches. He looked to be twice Fenrir’s size, and he had bright yellow-fold feathers that covered most of his body. He had two pairs of large wings and tail feathers that looked like they were emitting flames. His head had a helmet that seemed to help form the top part of his beak, and under it were head feathers that protruded from behind and looked like real fire. He also had engraved, golden rings around his talons. He was definitely the most magnificent looking Phoenixmon that Fenrir had ever seen.

    ‘So…where is the High Master,’ he thought, trying to detect the other leader of the village. And then he heard Pavamana yelp in surprise behind him, and he turned to look over his shoulder.

    It was only through his long habit of keeping himself from reacting to trivial matters that kept him from jumping backwards at the sight of a short, old man whose facial hair covered his whole face standing on the paw-shaped end of a staff. He was dressed in an old, leather rag that looked like it had seen better days. He was, at least by visual identification, a Jijimon.

    “Ohohoho,” the old Digimon laughed in his strange way. “So you have indeed survived not only the Silver Crow’s Ame-no-Ohabari, but also his Shadow Pierce!”

    “And…you are…?” Fenrir forced himself to ask.

    “Agamemon, boyo, but you can call me Aggie, all the hip kids do!” the Jijimon exclaimed as he somersaulted off the staff, flipping it in the air with his feet, grabbing it in midair, and then landing in front of Pavamana, showing exemplary skill despite his apparent age.

    “And you must be the talk of the town!” he guessed, giving him the same look over he did to Fenrir. “My, my, my, unlike your friend here, you really don’t have a single injury on you!” he observed with a tilt of his head. Before Pav could even think of replying, the Jijimon disappeared before his eyes.

    “W-what?” he managed to say, about to look around for the old Digimon.

    “Maaaaaaannyyyyyyy!” Agamemnon’s voice suddenly appeared in front of them once more, and they turned to where the Phoenixmon was sitting. To their surprise, the Jijimon had traveled from between them to the top of the head of the Phoenixmon right across the room in a span of a few seconds. “I told you we should have changed those traps! I told you that someone was going to get through it like it was easy-peasy! I told you, I told you!” he exclaimed, managing to sound both accusing and smug at the same time as he repeatedly tapped the end of his staff on the bird Digimon’s helmet.

    Are all aged Digimon crazy or am I really that unlucky?’ Fenrir wondered as he watched the display, although he kept the thought to himself.

    “Agamemnon,” the Phoenixmon said in the same melodious voice they had initially heard. He sighed as shook his head, forcing the Jijimon to jump off and land beside him on the branch, proceeding to poke the other digimon’s nearby wing instead. “How many times have I told you to not call me that?”

    “I lost count after a hundred…or a two hundred and seventy…or a thousand and five…I forget,” the Jijimon answered, stopping for a moment to use the paw end of his staff to scratch the top of his head. “Hmm…perhaps four hundred and thirty nine?”

    With that, the Sky Master turned to Fenrir and Pavamana. “That should keep Agamemnon occupied for a while. Please excuse him, my guests,” Menelaus said, sounding satisfied.

    “Is he always…?” Pavamana asked, trying to find a proper word.

    “Odd? Childish? Exasperating?” he offered, glancing at the Jijimon was too concentrated on trying to remember.

    “Ah…any of the three,” the blacksmith decided, not really quite sure.

    “Yes, he is,” the phoenix replied with a shake of his head. “But despite so, he is remarkably skilled in the ways of the ninja, and while his unconventional mannerisms make him quite unpredictable, they also allow him to see situations and people in a certain vision that others cannot. He is a valuable asset to this village, both as a High Master and as a teacher to our people,” he said, nodding to Falcion, Ulysses and Odysseus behind them.

    “Now onto important matters,” the Sky Master started off, straightening his body and swooping down to their level, unnoticed by the still preoccupied Agamemnon. “What kind of important matters have brought you and your friend to our forest?”

    “We’re looking for an artifact,” Fenrir told him. “We were told that it’s located somewhere in this forest.”

    Upon his words, the Phoenixmon began to scrutinize Fenrir. “What kind of artifact do you speak of?”

    “Judging by your tone of voice, you know what I’m talking about,” the Beowolfmon replied, narrowing his eyes. “I’m tired of being played with, so if you would please tell us the location of the spirit-“

    “Watch your words, wolf,” Falcion suddenly said from behind him, his sword pointed at Fenrir’s neck. “You will show respect to Sky Master Menelaus.”

    “Stand down, Silver Crow,” Menelaus commanded, and the Ravemon retreated back to where Odysseus and Ulysses were standing. “Fenrir…yes, I suspect that the artifact you have in mind is within our forest. However, until we find out your true intentions, I cannot inform of you of its whereabouts.”

    “Oh, just tell them, Manny!” Agamemnon’s voice suddenly called out, landing in front of the phoenix.

    “…What?” The Sky Master blinked in confusion.

    “Well, they’ve obviously been this far, and one of them may be the prophesied man!” the High Master said, turning to look at the duo.

    “But we cannot be sure-“

    “Have I ever been wrong in my assumptions, Menelaus?” the High Master asked, sounding strangely serious. “There is simply something about these two that makes me think so.”

    “Excuse me, but what about this prophesied man?” Pavamana asked.

    With a sigh, Menelaus turned to him. “It is a legend in our forest about the one who will come to take the artifact from our protection,” he answered.

    “So if one of us is that man, you will tell us where the artifact is?” Fenrir asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Yes…but I need proof before I will agree to it.”

    “Didn’t I just tell you that I think that one of them is him? What more proof do you need?” Agamemnon complained, waving his stick at the Phoenixmon, who ignored him.

    “In our legend, it was said that the man already had number of the artifacts in his possession. Can you show them to me?” the Sky Master requested, looking at Fenrir and Pavamana closely.

    Fenrir grit his teeth. All the artifacts were with Cogwej. “We…cannot,” he answered.

    Menelaus nodded. “And I have rested my case.”

    “But it is with Cogwej!” Pavamana tried to explain, making the masters to turn to him. “H-he’s one of our friends…he’s also in the forest along with another of our companions, Tiwaz.”

    “There are more of you?” Falcion asked from behind them. He turned to Odysseus and Ulysses. “You told me they were the only ones you found.”

    “Th-they are,” Odie defended himself. “W-we didn’t notice anyone else come in.”

    “Maybe the bugs got to them before we did?” Ulysses suggested.

    “Then they should already be out of the forest,” Falcion said.

    “Actually, they went into the forest before we did,” Pav informed them. “And one of them has been inside since last night. They may already have come into contact with the other village and have explained our purpose here as well.”

    “Hmm…if what you are saying is true,” Menelaus started, looking thoughtful.

    “Then Thun-thun might already be helping them look for the artifact!” Agamemnon finished for him. “We can’t let them get to it first, Manny! Not until we tell them about what happened!”

    At the sudden urgency in the High Master’s voice, the genins behind the group turned to each other in confusion. They had never heard the Jijimon sound like that before.

    “We cannot afford to let them enter the forest without knowing the situation,” Menelaus said, more to himself than anyone else.

    “Thun…thun?” Fenrir repeated, glancing at Falcion who was nearby.

    “High King Thundarul of the insect village,” he enlightened the wolf knight. “He, along with High Master Agamemnon and Sky Master Menelaus comprise the three lords of the forest.”

    “Silver Crow Falcion!” Menelaus suddenly called. “You are to bring Fenrir and Pavamana to the temple at once. Once there, locate Golden Crow Scimitar immediately and inform him of the situation. If worse comes to come, then you are to find their companions and cooperate with them and Thundarul’s men to control the situation,” he ordered the Ravemon.

    “Yes, Sky Master,” the Ravemon complied, nodding and turning to the duo. “I will be with you shortly; I must collect my supplies. Odysseus and Ulysses shall show you to the entrance. I will meet you there,” he told them before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

    “Agamemnon and I will pay a visit to Thundarul’s abode and explain what had happened,” the Phoenixmon said, sounding slightly morose. “Which is what we should have done many weeks ago.”

    “Can you explain to us what happened?” Fenrir asked.

    “I would, but time is of the essence; Silver Crow will disclose to you what happened three months ago,” the Sky Master said as he took off. “Hurry, High Master Agamemnon,” he told the old Digimon, who was busy appearing and disappearing all over the room.

    “Wait, wait, wait! I need to find my apology gift to Thun-thun! And my favorite riding hat; I never go flying with you without it!” the Jijimon exclaimed as he began to gather various materials from the room.

    “And return to our guests what you took from them!” Menelaus ordered.

    “What!?” both guests exclaimed, looking at their bodies for any lost belongings. And to their great surprise, Pavamana had somehow been pilfered of the Champion’s Belt around his waist, and Fenrir no longer had his Beo-Saber within its sheathe.

    “Oh bother! I only wanted something to remember them by!” Agamemnon complained, suddenly on top of the Phoenixmon’s head as their stolen belongings suddenly dropped in front of them. He also had a peculiarly shaped helmet on his head. “Well then, let’s go! Thun-thun must be worried sick about me!”

    Menelaus let out a great, big sigh as he exited the room through the large cavity in the tree’s crown.

    “And we just brought you in the village, too,” Uly complained as he and Odie walked towards them.

    “If the situation is as dire as they make it seem, then they have very good reason to,” Pavamana replied as he buckled his belt around his waist once more.

    “And it means we will finish our job here faster,” Fenrir added, sheathing his sword after making sure it was genuine and unaltered.

    “Then if you will please follow us,” Odysseus asked as they started to walk out of the building. In his mind, however, he was very much curious about what happened that had caused the two masters so much worry. A glance at Ulysses told him that the Peckmon felt the same way.

    -​

    “Is this the temple?”

    Tiwaz had to crane his neck up to see the top of the ancient structure. It looked like a pyramid with leveled sides, much like how a Mayan temple looked like, although this one was covered in vines and plants of all shapes and sizes. He could barely see the top.

    Zeriz, who was beside him, nodded in confirmation before pointing upwards where the tip of the temple was. “The artifact was supposed to be placed at the top, but many years ago, our ancestors decided to transfer it deeper into the temple where it could stay hidden and out of sight,” he told him.

    “Fascinating!” Cogwej said, his notebook out. “But how did you move it? So far, all the artifacts that I have collected always contained defensive features that would have made it impossible to be in contact with.”

    As the SkullScorpiomon began to tell the Wisemon of a special material the Baronmon Brahm had left them that could allow them to hold the artifact, Tiwaz turned to Taranis and Yz’ra who were both talking in front of a small swarm of tiny spiders reminded him of the one that first ambushed him that morning. KoDokugumon, he remembered the Stingmon girl call them. Along with them were yellow bee-like Digimon of roughly the same size, and he could recognize them as FanBeemon. The sound of their language’s chirping and buzzing was low between them, and Taranis looked like he was struggling to understand.

    He walked over to Taranis and tapped on his shoulder. “Well? What’s going on?”

    The MegaKabuterimon turned to look at him. “Uh, as far as I can follow, these little guys have been their eyes and ears in the temple. They say that the thingie you and Cog are looking for is too deep into the temple where a lot of the ninjas are scouring, so they can’t get any deeper without getting caught,” he explained, and then he looked thoughtful. “Or they’re revolting and won’t work until they each get a satchel of honey and grub each,” he said with a sheepish grin.

    Tiwaz looked at him silently before answer. “Let’s go with the first one,” he decided, folding his arms and resisting the urge to hit the insect Digimon on the head.

    “We are,” the Stingmon interrupted them, turning to the two as the swarm behind her dispersed back into the forest.

    “They’ve told me that the ninjas are in front, guarding the entrance. It is only through careful planning that none of their, ah, patrols are here right now. We do not have a lot of time; we need to enter before someone comes by,” she said urgently, moving to place a hand against the wall of the temple.

    “What’re you doing?” Tiwaz asked as he followed her.

    “This temple is old. Older than the prophecy, even. No one knows all of its secrets, but each village is privy to a set of them. One of ours is another entrance from the back that we only discovered a few weeks before,” she informed them, walking along the wall’s perimeter slowly. “We have been using it to enter the temple under the ninja’s noses.”

    “And this entrance will be able to bring us down to wherever the Spirit is?” Tiwaz asked, taking a closer look at the wall and trying to see if he could find the entrance himself.

    “We believe so,” Yz’ra said, and then she stopped, making a clicking sound that Taranis told him was like a sound of victory or other. “Here it is,” she said, pressing a hidden button and stepping back as a part of the wall began to sink into itself before moving to the side.

    “Oooh, I am so excited!” Cogwej said giddily, looking like he was about to start jumping up and down.

    “Try not to get overexcited and start going off on your own again, you old codger” Tiwaz told him with a glare. “I don’t want to have to go looking for you again if you get lost.”

    “Maybe you should keep him on a leash,” Taranis suggested jokingly.

    “We’ve tried,” Tiwaz said seriously. “He wouldn’t shut up at all, so we had to let him go,” the EmperorGreymon said, grunting as he turned back to Yz’ra and Zeriz. “Speaking of which, how hard is it going to get down there? From past experiences, temples and ruins usually have traps.”

    “Most of the traps that we’ll have to face are from the ninjas,” Zeriz said informatively. “Yz’ra should know how most of them work.”

    The Stingmon nodded, frowning. “One of the ninja pupils taught me how to avoid most of them on the off case I find myself on the wrong end of one,” she said, looking a bit bitter. “I tried to contact him once to try and find out what was going on, but I suspect he’s been avoiding me or been made to, probably by that troublesome friend of his.”

    Tiwaz blinked once the Stingmon started to trail off to a topic he no longer understood. “Uh…right, anyway, back to the situation. We should get going before someone finds us,” he said quickly.

    “Ah, right, I’m sorry,” the Stingmon apologized, her face tinting slightly red. Tiwaz had to admit, he didn’t know insect Digimon could blush with their exoskeletons.

    “Well then, let’s go,” Zeriz suggested, going into the temple first, followed by Tiwaz, Cog and Taranis. As Yz’ra took her turn to enter, she threw dust on the ground behind them and felt the sides of the entrance, pressing yet another hidden button. And as she entered, the entrance behind her began to close once more, and the dust that she threw began to act out its effects, coating the ground with the strong scent of the forest.

    And with that, it was as if they were never there at all.
     
  13. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Okay! Long overdue review for the last two chapters... acts... whatevers.

    Act I:

    I like how you started off the chapter with a journal entry of Pav's. It helped see deeper into his character that we may not have been able to see as much previously.

    "have done"

    Also, continue working on making sure that Pav's voice doesn't sound too much like Fenrir's.

    "suggested they"

    It's good to see that Tiwaz and Fenrir's rivalry is still going strong after what happened in the mines previously. It's easy to forget continuity, especially after a time skip. Still, I would have see what it was like for Pav when he first joined the group, but it can't be helped, I guess.

    "The old codger doesn’t ever let me, the mutt or Pav see what’s under that cloak… I’m going to remedy that as soon as I see that troublesome Wisemon,”

    This could easily be taken the wrong way. xD

    Speaking of ways, that wasn't the way I was expecting them to meet Taranis. xD I'm sure Taranis has a great time embarrassing Tiwaz with the story.

    Is scented a word?

    That was a fun chapter, if not making me want to find out what would happen next. The description was good. Not too much going on character-wise, but that's kind of to be expected in an introductary portion of an arc.

    Act II:

    This act, on the otherhand, showed us a few peeks into Fenrir's character. Another thing I like is the thought put into the ninja village.

    xD

    I hope the malapropped names keep escalating in their ridiculousness. xD I have a few good ones stored up.

    Also, I see that we're starting to see hints of clues about the Spirits' origins.

    And there's a Woodmon who talks to medicinal herbs... And also Agamemnon, who rivals Cog in terms of lunacy. You certainly have a penchant for making zany characters. xD

    "smell" I think.

    Hmm, I also wonder where Scimitar is... <suspicious look>

    "of a"

    There's definately a lot of intrigue and mystery behind these villages and "the situation" that they're trying to control. They seem to be on the same side yet they're going behind each other's backs and worried about being seen by one another.

    Also, Zeriz seems cool. Then again, I have a penchant for getting attached to supporting characters who end up dying, so maybe I shouldn't get too attached.

    "answering"

    Also, I think I ship Odie X Yz'ra. xD

    Anyways, that was a good act. Descriptive, intriguing and entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next one. And I'm going to keep bugging you on msn until you finish. =P
     
  14. On my side, long overdue chapter. I need to find a way to brainstorm better.

    I'm glad you do and it is another way for me to portray the different characters easily. Helps me 'get into character', so to speak. Also, this is going to happen a few more times.

    I'm sure he will. >w>

    Gimme the names, and I'll incorporate them. owo

    Well, it's not like I'm pulling some stuff out of random. I want to have some information to hang onto.

    What can I say? It takes one to make one. >w>

    I make no promises on what will happen. xD

    ...I see... You make me wonder how many more potential shippings you'd ship on the course of the making of this story.

    Good luck. Both of us need it. -.-
     
  15. Act 3: Terror of the Relic

    Also known as

    “I did nothing! Ask the flying book!"


    “So how far deep does this temple go?”

    Tiwaz’s question echoed through the tunnel they walked through. It was surprisingly brighter than he expected. Batches of glowing moss were scattered along the surfaces of the tunnel, providing enough light for the group to see. However, there wasn’t much to actually look at other than the glowing flora and the dusty, cracked stone that constituted the old structure’s foundation and walls.

    “Not that deep,” Zeriz replied as he scuttled in front of them silently despite his size. “But the lower levels are mazes with various traps, and not all of them are from the ninja village. It would only take a blink of an eye for you to get lost or killed,” he informed them, sounding not at all disturbed at the idea.

    “How exhilarating!” Cogwej exclaimed eagerly. “It’s been years since my last excursion to a labyrinth crammed with a profusion of deceptive devices!”

    “Don’t you mean a-maze-ing?” Taranis told him, his large jaw closed into a toothy grin.

    “It’s a wonder how either of you survived this long,” Tiwaz muttered, glancing at the Wisemon and MegaKabuterimon. Then he turned back to the insect in front of them. “You sure we’re not going to get lost?” he asked with a slight frown.

    “We do not have to worry about getting lost as long as Zeriz is with us,” Yz’ra told him from behind him. “He’s been in the temple the most out of everyone in the swarm. He knows the labyrinth like the back of his hand.”

    “It must not be much of a maze if he can get around without getting lost.”

    “If you’re that worried about getting lost, I bet I can help lessen your worry,” Taranis said with a grin.

    “How? By saying that you have a map in your head?” Tiwaz asked as he rolled his eyes.

    “Actually-“

    “Don’t even say it, bug. It’s not going to work,” the dragonman interrupted him before turning to SkullScorpiomon. “If you know so much about this place, how about telling us about the kinds of traps in here?”

    “The old ones are simple. Snares. Trapdoors leading to spikes. Closing walls. Arrow’s shooting from the ceiling. Rolling boulders that lead careless wanderers to dead ends,” he replied calmly.

    “The ninjas’ traps are a bit more complex,” Yz’ra cut in, having more experience with them. “They have traps triggered by noise. They have poison gases that can do a lot of damage, and they’ve even altered some of the already present traps. As far as I can remember, the most annoying one is the paralyzing darts that shoot from the floor. I also remember about some almost invisible nets that triggers even more traps when you get caught in them.”

    “I suddenly remembered that I still have a job to do,” Taranis said as he was about to stop and take a step backwards, only to get pushed forward by Tiwaz.

    “Too late to back out now, Taranis,” Tiwaz told him. “You’re staying with us until we get this over with.”

    “How about I walk forward to the exit then?” Taranis tried.

    “Not happening.”

    “Oh pish posh!” Cogwej spoke, spreading his arms around him. “No trap has stopped me yet, and they will not do so now! Just remain at my side, Tartarus, and I guarantee your wellbeing!” he exclaimed, his voice drowning out Zeriz’s as he told them to watch out for the switch that Cogwej then coincidentally stepped on.

    Before anyone could even curse at his bumble, arrows suddenly rained above them, causing all of them to crouch and cover their heads. It only lasted for three seconds before the last arrow finally embedded itself on the ground.

    “Is everyone okay?” Tiwaz said as he stood back up, thankful for the tempering that Pavamana had done to his armor over the past months they’ve been travelling together. His breastplate and helmet were both scratched, but they showed no other sign of having been affected by the arrows.

    “I guess having to lug a heavy exoskeleton around has its benefits,” Taranis piped as he stood back up with Zeriz, showing that he and Zeriz were also both unharmed.

    “What about crazy?”

    Taranis turned to the Wisemon crouched in front of him. If he had eyes, he would have blinked in surprise. “There isn’t a single arrow on him,” he told Tiwaz after a moment of silence.

    “There isn’t?” Cogwej repeated as he opened his eyes and looked himself over. “See? Now do you have faith in me? I am entirely trap-proof!”

    “I c-can’t say the s-same,” Yz’ra’s weakened voice said from behind them.

    In sudden surpise, Zeriz started to speak quickly with clicks and buzzes. Tiwaz also turned back to see that the Stingmon had one arrow embedded on her torso and another on her left arm. In her native language, she replied to her brother, wincing at the pain.

    “Don’t try talking,” Tiwaz said as he knelt beside her and grimaced. He didn’t have anything to help stop the bleeding, so he couldn’t take the arrows out. Hell, trying to do anything for the wounds inside the dirty and decrepit tunnel they were in would only make Yz’ra end up dead faster. At the very least, it didn’t look like they were bleeding all that bad, but trying to remove the arrows out could change that. “Damn it…we’ll have to go back,” he decided, looking over his shoulder.

    “N-no. I can still-“

    “You’re going back,” Tiwaz interrupted her with a stubborn glare at her direction. “We have your brother to help us get to the relic; it would be useless for you to die here, so just get out and get some medical care.”

    “Actually, I can bring her back myself,” Taranis announced. “I remember how we got in and where to turn,” he said with a large grin.

    Tiwaz raised an eyerbrow. “You do, huh?”

    “I’m not a cartographer for nothing,” the insect Digimon replied, folding all four of his arms smugly.

    “It’s decided then!” Cog exclaimed, rubbing his palms together. “Tarpitis shall carry young lady Easter out, whilst Zero escorts Twizz and I to the Spirit!”

    Ignoring the debauchery done to their names, Tiwaz turned to Zeriz. “Do you think you can stop worrying about your sister long enough for us to retrieve the artifact?”

    With a worried nod, Zeriz nodded.

    “B-but the ninj-jas’ traps-“

    “Are useless as long as Zeriz here can keep us from triggering another one,” Tiwaz interrupted Yz’ra once more, giving Cogwej a meaningful glare. The Wisemon folded his arms and humphed, turning away from him.

    With a sigh, Yz’ra nodded in defeat. “J-just…be c-careful…”

    “Nah, they probably don’t need to be,” Taranis mentioned as Tiwaz allowed him to walk over and carefully take the Stingmon in his arms.

    “It’s hard enough keeping the crazy old man away from the things he’s only slightly interested in,” the EmperorGreymon had to admit with a reassuring grin, pointing over his shoulder at the Wisemon. “It would be impossible to keep him away from things like the relics.”

    “I s-see,” Yz’ra replied, forcing a smile on her face. She turned to her brother and started speaking in their language. Although the other three could not understand her words, they understood her expression: I will be fine. Do not worry about me. Do your best.

    Zeriz nodded in silent acknowledgment of her words. He turned to Cog. “It would be best if you get on my back to avoid stepping on any more traps.”

    “An indubitably thought out idea!” Cogwej replied, only to eager to get on the SkullScorpiomon’s back despite the sharp edges. He then sat comfortably on the SkullScopriomon’s back ribs and took out a notebook and pen. “This allows me a greater amount of time to record the ideas that I have collected over the conversation with you and Thundering!” the Wisemon announced.

    Zeriz did not bother to correct the cloaked Digimon on his father’s name and only nodded at Tiwaz. “Let’s go. Before the ninjas start noticing that something’s amiss,” he said as he started scuttling down.

    Tiwaz grinned and nodded. He turned to Taranis. “Get back here as soon as you can,” he told the MegaKabuterimon.

    “Uh…I don’t think I should. I mean, how would I find you guys?” Taranis asked, reluctant to follow those orders.

    Tiwaz grinned and placed a glowing red hand against the wall. A few seconds later, he removed it, and on the wall was the glowing red outline of his hand. “Can you see that?”

    Taranis looked at the wall, seeing the energy that the outline radiated. “Uh…yeah, why?”

    The EmperorGreymon grinned. “Just follow those, and you’ll find us easily. Get her back to the village, and then come back here quickly.” Before Taranis could even try to make another excuse, the fire god went and jogged to catch up with Zeriz and Cog.

    “B-but…” Taranis started, his shoulders slacking slightly. He turned back to Yz’ra. “I…guess I should get you back now,” he said with a small, resigned grin. The Stingmon nodded, wincing slightly as she tried to make herself more comfortable in the other insect’s arms.

    Making sure not to jostle the Stingmon too much, he started walking towards the exit at a brisk pace. As he did so, he glanced at the insect Digimon in his arms, noticing her weakening breathing and tired posture. She looked like she was going to pass out. “Um, hey, I don’t think you should go to sleep or something. With my current luck, you might end up not waking up,” he said with a slightly worried tone.

    “Ve…very w-well,” the Stingmon mustered. “What…do you suggest…?”

    Taranis grimaced a bit, trying to think of a way to keep her from closing her eyes and going to sleep. And then he decided that talking was a good way. “Maybe we could talk a bit? Well, not so much for you. Just, uh, try to answer back at me.”

    Ya’ra nodded in reply.

    “Speaking of talking…you know, you and your brother can talk a lot better than your other siblings,” the MegaKabuterimon started after a bit of thought.

    Yz’ra nodded. “We are…ambassadors…of our people,” she replied as she laid her head on Taranis’ chest, making the larger bug Digimon blush under his exoskeleton. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t visible.

    “Ambassadors, huh?” Taranis repeated, trying to think of something funny that might take his mind off the intimacy of the act. And then he realized that all he had to do was remember the state of the female in his arms. “Well, what’s there to, uh, be ambassador of? There’s only you guys and the ninjas that you keep talking about. And it doesn’t look like you guys are on good terms right now.”

    “It’s…still an…important…job for…our people,” Yz’ra replied as she closed her eyes. “In order t…to protect…the forest…and relic,” she said, wincing when Taranis’ foot landed on a small pit that caused him to jostle the Stingmon.

    “Sorry!” the insect Digimon said quickly as he pulled his foot out of the hole and stepped over it. “I’ll try to avoid those next time,” he said as he made sure to pay more attention to the floor as he started walking once more. Yz’ra nodded as she pressed her hand against her wound to keep too much blood from bleeding out of her body.

    And then without warning, the tunnel around them rumbled.

    “Ah!” Taranis yelled as he knelt and shielded Yz’ra’s body from the rocks that started to fall on them. And as soon as it came, the tremor ended. What followed, however, was loud and deep roar that resonated in the tunnel they were in.

    “W-what was that?” Taranis asked as he looked around in mild fright.

    “I-I d-don’t know,” Yz’ra replied uncertainly, looking up at Taranis. Then as the MegaKabuterimon looked down at her, he noticed how close their faces were since he had pulled their bodies closer in order to protect her from the falling debris.

    “Ah!” he gasped as he pulled his face away, his blush strong enough to cause his blue exoskeleton to turn slightly purple.

    Fortunately for him, Yz’ra’s concentration was too broken for her to notice it. Instead, she looked at him in worry and asked, “What…is it? D-did you s-see…something?”

    “No, no!” Taranis said hurriedly. “I just…thought I saw something,” he fibbed, going back to a normal position.

    “A-ah…i-in any c-case…it is…not s-safe to…stay here,” Yz’ra muttered, wincing a bit.

    “Right, I’ll get you out of this place in a jiffy!” the larger insect Digimon proclaimed as he started walking again, albeit at a faster pace. He didn’t want to be around when whatever caused the shake and made the roar decided to make an appearance.

    -​

    “What was that?”

    Fenrir looked around, his senses at all-time peak. He hadn’t felt anything like the quake since he, Tiwaz and Cogwej had first met Pavamana and found the Earth relic. He had a feeling that the occurrence wasn’t as coincidental with the fact that they were so close to getting another relic.

    “An earthquake…but it doesn’t feel normal,” Pavamana said as he knelt and touched the ground.

    “Definitely not normal,” Ulysses said as he tried to steady his legs. He looked up at the trees where Odysseus was waiting. “Hey, Odie, you okay up there!?” he called out to the Shurimon.

    The other ninja dropped down from the trees looking unnerved. “Y-y-y-yes, I’m fine,” he replied breathily. “How about you th-three?”

    “We’re okay here,” the Peckmon told his friend as he glanced at the Beowolfmon and the PileVolcamon.

    “Thank goodness,” Odie said as he sighed in mild relief. “I was worried; we don’t usually get earthquakes,” he told the two guests.

    “And it was never that strong,” Uly noted as he looked back at the village entrance behind them. “I hope the village is okay. Almost half of the buildings are even older than Aggie.”

    Odie grimaced at the thought. “Maybe we should-“

    “You know what? They’ll be fine,” Uly interrupted him. “They’re ninjas or ninjas-in-training, so no stupid earthquake can bother them, I’m sure.”

    “I’m glad to know that you think so much of our home, Ulysses,” a voice behind him said.

    In surprise, the Peckmon jumped over to Odie’s side and let out a yell. He turned his head towards the voice, and he scowled at its owner. “Falcion, stop doing that! Odie already does that enough!” he complained, stamping a large foot into the ground.

    “You need more training, Ulysses,” the Ravemon said simply. He turned to their other companions. “The village is still standing, and none of the occupants are injured. We must head to the temple posthaste; that earthquake is far from a natural occurrence, although I am sure that all of you have also come to the same conclusion.”

    “There’s something in the temple other than the relic,” Fenrir concluded with a frown. There was something else with the earthquake. It was something muffled that he couldn’t quite make out, but he was as certain as the sun was hot that ‘that something’ had caused the earthquake.

    At Fenrir’s accusation, Falcion turned away.

    “W-wait, you mean…?” Odie asked in clarification, turning to his master.

    “What are you hiding, Falcion?” Uly asked with a frown.

    The Ravemon closed his eyes. “That…is something I cannot tell both of you. Yet. For now, both of you need to return to the village; I will take Fenrir and Pavamana to the temple.”

    Ulysses gave his older brother an incredulous look. “What!? But-“

    “That is an order from your master and senior sibling, Ulysses. I suggest you follow orders unless you want to be scrubbing the floor of the genins’ washroom again,” he said seriously.

    “But that’s so unfair!” Ulysses complained, turning to Odie. “Right? We have have just as much right as those two outsiders to know what’s going on! No, wait, we have more right than-“

    Silence, Ulysses!” Falcion said with a loud, irritated voice. In an instant, the Peckmon shut his beak. “You will follow my orders. You will return to the village. And you will not follow us. Understand?

    “U…understood,” Uly replied with an grudging tone. He turned to Odysseus. “C’mon, Odie. Let’s get out of here; we’ve got much better stuff to do,” he said, not even waiting for the other ninja before he started to flap towards the ninja village.

    “U-u-u-uly! B-but…” Odie sighed and turned to Falcion.

    “I am sorry, Odyssues, but this is too dangerous for both of you,” he said with a slight tone of sympathy. He had known how Ulysses would react to his orders.

    “I know,” the Shurimon replied with a tiny smile.

    “Take care of him for me,” Falcion replied before turning back to Fenrir and Pavamana. “Let us go.”

    Both of them nodded in reply and followed as the Ravemon went and ran into the forest. As he did so, Pavamana looked over his shoulder just to make sure that they wouldn’t follow them. Uly’s temper reminded him a bit of Cammie’s, and the Armadillomon was never one to follow orders. He did, however, note that he would not have been able to see the ninjas if they did decide to follow them.

    “Falcion,” Fenrir called out to the Ravemon as they ran deeper into the forest. The Beowolfmon was noting that it was getting darker as they got closer to the temple; that was not usually a good sign when it came to situations that they usually got in.

    “I should tell you what I know, yes?” Falcion asked without looking back, jumping many strides ahead in order to trigger the traps that would have otherwise hindered both Fenrir and Pavamana, who did not know about them. The latter was especially relieved about that; he did not want to end up like the skewered trees and the flattened shrubs that were the unfortunate recipients of the traps.

    “The cause of the tremor would be preferable at the moment,” Fenrir said. He wanted to know what they were going to be up against. He supposed it was paranoid of him to assume that a battle was inevitable, but he was not usually wrong.

    “That…I assume, is Scimitar.”

    Pavamana blinked as he listened. “The Golden Crow?” he asked. “Aren’t supposed to meet with him?”

    “We are.”

    “There’s a catch,” Fenrir said with a small frown.

    “We will not be informing him of what transpired.”

    “Why not?” Pavamana asked with a frown. “Didn’t they tell us to?”

    “Only to keep the truth we have withheld for three months away from my apprentices’ ears.”

    “And what truth is that?” Fenrir asked seriously.

    “He…has broken one of the greatest rules of our village,” the Ravemon said, his speed declining slightly.

    “He touched the relic with his bare hands.”

    The Ravemon looked over his shoulder in mild surprise. “We’ve always been told that the object should never be touched without a special cloth we acquired, but we have no records or knowledge of what happens when it is held without it. Are you aware of what had happened?”

    “The relics…are unpredictable.” Fenrir mentally noted that it might have been the effect of the relic that changed the Golden Crow, but he would have to tell what he knew to Cogwej in order to be sure. He looked at the Ravemon. “Like your villages, my companions and I each carry a cloth that allows us to touch the relics unharmed. However, I need to know what this relic can do if we handle it carelessly.”

    “I…I don’t know…” Falcion frowned. “He just…changed.”

    “Everyone changes,” Fenrir replied blandly. “It’s a question of whether the change is beneficial or detrimental.”

    “That…I cannot answer,” the Ravemon replied, for once sounding unsure of his words. “He always had the welfare of the village as his top priority, to the point of breaking far more rules than should be forgiven.”

    “Yet he achieved the same rank as you did,” Fenrir said after a moment of silence. He wondered if that caused a rivalry between them.

    The Silver Crow looked over his shoulder and saw the expression on the wolf knight’s face and said, “Whatever you are thinking, I suggest you banish it from your thoughts. Scimitar and I may have had a number of arguments and fights, but neither him nor I would ever think of hurting each other.”

    “Until three months ago, you mean,” Fenrir said realistically.

    At that accusation, Falcion stayed silent. Fenrir assumed that he had struck a nerve.

    “He only wanted us – wanted everyone to be free from it. To be able to walk freely and not be restricted to the forest as we have been for months, but the Masters would not hear it. He…he made a drastic decision. He did not hurt anyone on the way down, but after he held it in his hands…”

    “What happened to him?” Pav asked in curiosity. He wondered if it was anything like what happened to Dietrich. Then he remembered that while Dietrich was, for all purposes, dead, Scimitar seemed to be alive and roaring.

    “At first…nothing,” Falcion replied.

    Fenrir raised an eyebrow. “You were with him?” he asked.

    The Ravemon had enough shame to look sheepish. “I wanted to convince him not to go through with it.”

    “You failed.”

    Falcion nodded. “When we came out of the temple, Masters Menelaus and Agamemnon were waiting for us,” he narrated.

    “Because you told them.”

    The Ravemon gave him a shrewd look. “You are far more cunning than I give you credit for, Fenrir, but yes, I did. This was one line that I did not want Scimitar to cross,” he said before sighing. “Perhaps had I not done so, he would not be forced to stay trapped in the temple.”

    “What happened when you guys came out?” Pavamana asked.

    “The Masters tried to make him leave the relic, and…he did not. He attacked them.”

    “I’m surprised that he wasn’t beaten,” Fenrir said, remembering the level of skill and stealth that Agamemnon had shown them. He couldn’t forget the power that Menelaus was suppressing either.

    “He wasn’t, but neither were the masters,” the Ravemon answered the hidden question.

    “Was he always that strong?” Pavamana couldn’t help but ask. Falcion shook his head.

    “No. I…I believe the relic gave him the strength to match them. Both of them at the same time. It was…”

    “Frightening,” Fenrir finished his sentence.

    “Frightening?” Pavamana repeated.

    “The image of someone that you held so high in regard that you never thought it possible that he would be defeated or felled by anyone, especially someone that you thought you knew like the back of your hand,” Fenrir explained slowly, choosing his words carefully.

    “You speak as if you’ve experienced it,” Falcion noted.

    “I’ve lived a long life, ninja,” Fenrir replied, not giving anything away.

    “That much is clear,” the Ravemon replied, unfazed. “And yes. I never thought it possible that anyone but High King Thundarul of the insects could ever seriously trade blows with my Masters, both of them at the same time, and live to tell the tale. Apparently, I was wrong,” he said, the last part was only a little more than a whispers, as if he still couldn’t really believe it despite having witnessed it himself.

    “He escaped back into the temple, then?” Pavamana asked.

    The Ravemon nodded. “He was able to control the vines that surrounded the temple. He sealed off the entrance, and it took us two weeks to remove them without damaging the temple” he told the duo.

    “The Spirit of Wood,” Fenrir muttered to himself; he remembered Cogwej telling him and Tiwaz the names of the other relics.

    Falcion frowned. “Who knows how much stronger he has become by then?” he had to wonder.

    “Strong enough to cause an earthquake,” Fenrir replied simply. The thought would have frightened a lesser Digimon. He was not a lesser Digimon, but he would have been foolish to underestimate Scimitar. He saw how the effects of the relic, but he did not know how strong it was or could be on the defected ninja.

    “Was that the first time it happened?” Pavamana asked the Ravemon.

    Falcion nodded with a frown. “Yes, it was. It means he’s still getting stronger,” the Silver Crow said, an undertone of dread in his voice.

    “Which makes it imperative that we get the relic before he gets too strong,” Fenrir concluded, grimacing. He glances at the Ravemon. “We need to find our allies.”

    Pavamana nodded in agreement. “We can’t touch the relic without Cogwej, either,” he muttered.

    “Duly noted,” Falcion said as he started speeding up, gesturing that they were getting closer. “However, I have received permission to procure this from our village vault,” the Ravemon said, taking out a pair of gloves covered in runes that Fenrir found himself familiar with. “With this, we can touch the relic without worry of any…adverse effects.”

    The Beowolfmon couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “Where did you…?”

    “It is a long, old story that is intertwined closely with the relic, and I assume it involves you and your friends,” Falcion told them shortly. “Which I will inform both of you once we enter the temple,” he said as the old structure appeared in his view.

    The trio slowed down to a halt as the temple appeared before them in all its ancient glory. As they entered, Fenrir tensed up; he couldn’t help but get the greatest feeling that he was watched from every direction.

    “We’re surrounded, aren’t we?” Pavamana asked with a whisper, looking around. Fenrir only gave a simple nod as an answer.

    “Where is the lead Jonin?” Falcion called out.

    “Silver Crow!” A Ninjamon dropped right in front of them, his head bowed down, a fist and a knee on the ground. “I am at your service!”

    “Report.”

    “Our sources say that the Golden Crow has not been seen in any of the upper or center floors,” the Ninjamon replied, not moving from his situation. “We gave detected signs of life, however.”

    Falcion raised an eyebrow. “The insects?”

    “Possible, but whoever they belong to, they have evaded our patrols in and outside the temple.”

    “Very well. Strengthen the patrols around the temple. The Sky and High Masters may come here after some time, as well as the High King Thundarul.”

    At the sound of the name of the head of the other village, Fenrir could hear some of the hidden ninjas slip up. Some were gasping in surprise, and at least one fell from a tree. He wondered whether it might have been due to a lack of training or because the High King was that intimidating.

    “Finally, my companions and I are going to enter the temple. Let no one else follow us,” Falcion said finally.

    “Affirmative, Silver Crow!” the Ninjamon replied, jumping backwards beside the temple’s entrance. It was composed of an old, vine-entangled archway with two broken walls running down the path. It led to the dark and dusty opening of the temple.

    Fenrir and Pavamana followed Falcion as the Ravemon walked towards it. “I suggest you follow my path precisely,” he warned the two behind him. He looked over his shoulder at Pavamana. “The traps you’ve survived are child’s play compared to what we’ve placed here.”

    “That…is not reassuring,” Pavama replied as they walked into the darkness.

    -​

    Meters away from the temple, two genins were standing in thought.

    “I c-c-c-can’t believe it,” Odysseus muttered, crouching on the ground and tracing shapes on the ground with a shuriken tip. “Scimitar w-w-would never do th-th-th-that…right?”

    “Falcion wouldn’t lie about something this big, Odie,” Uly replied, pacing on the ground. “Besides, it would explain why no one has seen him in three months. And he was acting strangely before then,” the Peckmon remembered, frowning.

    Odie didn’t reply; he kept his silence and stared on the ground.

    “We should go in and find him,” Uly suddenly said.

    “W-w-w-what?” Odie looked up at his friend in surprise. “No, w-w-w-we can’t!”

    “Who says we can’t?”

    “F-F-Falcion! P-p-p-p-plus, it’s against the rules!”

    “Come on, Odie! Following the rules won’t help anyone right now! Falcion will need our help! Fenrir and Pavamana might be pretty good, but they’re trap bait in there! Plus, we know Scimitar better than they do!”

    “You’re just b-b-b-being stubborn again, Uly!” Odie accused exasperatedly.

    “And you’re just scared as always,” the Peckmon replied, sighing. “Come on, Odie. Didn’t Scimitar teach us that sometimes we have to break the rules in order to do what’s right?”

    “And look where he is n-n-n-n-now!”

    “That doesn’t mean that what he taught us was wrong. Besides, between the two of us, you’ve always been the one that wanted to explore the world outside this forest; he was only doing it because he felt the same way as you. You absorbed all of his stories about the possibilities of life outside like a sponge in water!”

    “I…I know, but…”

    “But nothing, Odie. If not for Falcion, we have to do this for Scimitar. You know how Falcion can be; he won’t give Scimitar a chance, but maybe we can get him to think things through!”

    “It’s b-b-b-been three months, Uly.”

    “Then maybe we have a better chance!”

    The Shurimon stared at his best friend. “O…okay,” the Shurimon finally relented. “F-f-for Scimitar.”

    The ninja bird grinned widely at his companion. “I knew you’d see things my way eventually. Now come on, we need to find a way in without getting seen,” he said, already thinking about their next move.

    “Th-th-that will be hard,” Odie noted, closing his eyes. “E-everyone patrolling is a-a-a-at least Jonin level,” the Shurimon said, envisioning the various ninjas he had sensed.

    “But there’s gotta be some place where they wouldn’t bother patrolling, some place where there isn’t any real tactical advantage being in or an entrance,” Uly said, thinking of such a place in or around the temple. He had been around the general area before, but never inside the old piece of architecture himself. Odie, on the other hand…

    “The back of the temple,” the spring-armed ninja finally said. “There isn’t anything w-w-w-w-we can use there, but we can s-s-s-scope around with the l-l-l-least amount risk of getting caught,” he enlightened his friend as he readied himself to jump in the trees. He was less likely to be seen up there than walking on the ground.

    As Ulysses flew up to follow the Shurimon, he looked up at the trees, looking through the gaps to view the altar at the top where the relic used to be. “Hey, maybe we can try going through the top?” he asked as they started to go around the perimeter.

    “The top?” Odie repeated, looking at the same area as he started to jump from tree to tree. “I d-d-d-d-don’t know,” he admitted. “I’ve never been u-u-up there.”

    “Well, it’s worth a shot, right?” the Peckmon said with a large smile on his beak.

    “P-p-perhaps,” the other ninja said as they closed on the back part of the temple. He landed on a tall and sturdy branch and placed himself near the trunk to survey his surroundings, making sure that there were no patrolling ninjas.

    “Come on, Odie, a little bit more enthusiasm would make this so much-“

    He stopped when Odysseus gave him a sudden gesture to keep quiet, making him raise an eyebrow and comply. He knew better than to do otherwise when Odie was in mission mode; it was usually for a good reason, too. Then the Shurimon pointed downwards towards the temple with a shuriken tip.

    To Ulysses’ surprise, a discrete part of the back temple wall was suddenly moving. What surprised him more was it was as silent as night; he was sure that Odysseus was eager to get down there and see what made it move, as well as made it move so silently as it did. And then something else surprised him: someone, a large, blue MegaKabuterimon, coming out with something in his arms.

    And then he realized he knew what was in his arms.

    “That’s-“

    “Yz’ra!” Odie finished for him, his voice worried. “And she’s hurt!” he said, about to jump down. Then he stopped, remembering that he wasn’t supposed to go into contact with the insects. He was torn between going to see how his friend was and between following orders.

    “Well? What are we waiting for? Come on!” Uly said, making the decision for him as he swooped down.

    “W-w-w-w-wait, Uly! Wait for me!” Odie called out, jumping down after him. He landed in front of the MegaKabuterimon, cautious of what their sudden appearance would make him do.

    The big blue bug blinked. “Uh…hi?” the MegaKabuterimon said with a sheepish voice.

    “O-odie…?” the Stingmon in his arms rasped out, looking to the side. “Is…that you?”

    The Shurimon nodded once and walked over, cautiously looking at the MegaKabuterimon. “C-c-c-can I come close?”

    “Uh, sure, but I don’t know what you’re asking me for,” the large insect replied with a large grin.

    “Hey, you can talk!” Uly suddenly said, staring at him.

    “Yep! And I even tell jokes!” the blue bug replied. “I’m Taranis, by the way.”

    “I wasn’t asking.”

    “Uly…” Odie said with a shake of his head. “I’m Odysseus, a-a-a-a-and he’s Ulysses,” he said before turning to Yz’ra. “W-w-w-w-w-what happened?”

    “Better question: what were you guys doing inside the temple, and how did you even find that entrance?” Uly intervened, glancing behind Taranis and at the hidden door into the darkness.

    “Uly!”

    “We have the right to know, Odie! They’re not supposed to be here!”

    “Yz’ra’s injured, and you c-c-c-c-can only think about-“

    Odysseus was suddenly interrupted by Yz’ra’s sudden groaning. “This…isn’t time…for f-fighting,” she forced herself to say.

    “She’s right, you know,” Taranis said. “I don’t know how much longer Yz’ra here can last, plus out friends are still down there going against who knows what!”

    “There are more of you?” Uly asked in surprise. “How? We have ninjas everywhere!”

    “A-a-a-actually…how come you can talk s-s-s-s-so well?” Odie asked, and then he blushed a bit. “If you d-d-d-d-don’t mind me asking,” he said after a while.

    “Oh, uh, I’m sort of not from here,” Taranis informed them sheepishly.

    “So you’re friends with Fenrir and Pavamana?” Uly asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Who?”

    “Guess not.”

    “Well, they might be friends with Tiwaz and Cogwej,” Taranis noted.

    “Are they the ones w-w-w-w-who are still inside? Are they l-l-l-l-looking for the relic?”

    Taranis was about to answer his question when Yz’ra put a hand on his chest meaningfully. “W-what are you planning…Odie?” the injured Stingmon asked.

    “We…w-w-want to help, Yz’ra. We f-f-f-found others who are looking for the r-r-r-r-relic, too,” Odie said slowly. “And w-w-w-we want to help.”

    “W-we…don’t need your he-“

    “Lookie here, Yz’ra, yes, you do,” Uly interrupted her. “Right now, this situation is just as much our business as it is yours. We can’t explain right now-“

    “Actually, y-y-y-you can,” Odysseus suddenly said. “Y-y-you’re the fastest person I know other than Master Agamemnon and Falcion; you c-c-c-can bring Yz’ra home for medical care and tell her what’s going on, and Taranis and I will go f-f-f-find Falcion’s group or the others.”

    “What!?” Uly exclaimed. “No! I can’t leave you with this big brute of a bug!”

    “Hey!” Taranis said, insulted. “When adventuring creepy temples, it’s helpful to have a guy with brute force!”

    “I know y-y-y-you want to help too, but Yz’ra…”

    The Peckmon turned to the Stingmon in Taranis’ arms. He could see her hiding her obvious pain; arrows like that didn’t just pierce through someone without pain. He grimaced when he finally noticed the blood tricking down her side. “Damn it…sometimes I hate it when you’re right, Odie,” he muttered to himself. “Fine, I’ll go bring her back to their village, but on one condition!”

    Odie gave him a smile, although it wasn’t visible beneath his mask. “What is it?”

    “That you won’t go in until I come back; I’m not letting you go inside without me.”

    The Shurimon kept silent for a moment before making a nod. “O-o-o-o-okay,” Odysseus replied. “I’ll wait for you.” He then turned to Taranis. “Can you please p-p-p-p-place Yz’ra gently on Uly’s back?”

    As Odie said those words, Ulysses walked over to the MegaKabuterimon, looking at him and waiting for him to put the injured Stingmon on his back. Taranis, with a look at Yz’ra, proceeded to do so, only to get stopped when the Stingmon started to struggle a bit.

    “N-no, I will not be-“

    “Come on, Yz’ra, this is safer. Plus, the sooner we get you to safe place, the sooner we can get this thing over with,” he tried, trying to smile reassuringly as he placed her on the Peckmon’s back gently. Unable to do anything about it, Yz’ra found herself on Uly’s back, her arms being manipulated by Taranis to wrap around the Peckmon’s long neck.

    “Hey, not so tight, Yzzie,” Uly said, wincing a bit. “Any tighter and I might begin thinking that you have a crush on me.”

    “I-in…your dreams…birdie,” the Stingmon replied as the Peckmon readied to sprint into the forest.

    “I have better things to dream about than you, bugsy,” Ulysses retorted as he disappeared into the woods.

    Odie made a little smile as he watched the two bicker; if Yz’ra could still argue with Ulysses, that meant that she was far from being in danger, and that fact relieved him far more than he would admit. He then turned to Taranis. “We should go in b-b-b-before Ulysses comes back.”

    The MegaKabuterimon blinked. “Didn’t you say you’d wait for your friend?”

    “Yes,” Odie replied with an ashamed look. “B-b-b-but I know Ulysses really well, and if Yz’ra g-g-g-got hurt, then Ulysses is even m-m-m-more likely to get hurt, too. And…I don’t want him to get hurt,” the Shurimon admitted. “Please…if you would be so c-c-c-considerate as to guide me to where you l-l-l-l-last saw them,” he asked the large blue insect.

    Taranis rubbed the back of his neck with one of his four large arms, uncertain of what to do. And then he looked at the Shurimon’s sincere eyes, which were practically begging him. He didn’t even last two seconds.

    “Okay, okay, I’ll bring you to them! Just stop with the puppy dog eyes!” Taranis yelled out, shielding his face from the sincere gaze.

    Odysseus smiled at him. “Thank you…a-a-a-and maybe you can tell me what caused Yz’ra and you a-a-a-a-all to enter the temple.”

    -​

    Deep inside the temple, Tiwaz made another glowing hand print for once Taranis was done and returned to us. He had wondered if any wandering ninja patrols would see it, but Zeriz told him that very few ninjas were aware the layout of the temple, and that he made sure to use paths that at least would not have known about unless they explored the temple extensively.

    “And this is the twenty third one,” the EmperorGreymon said as he turned to Zeriz and Cogwej. “We’re pretty deep in the temple by now; are you sure that the relic is in this direction?” he asked the SkullScorpiomon.

    Zeriz nodded resolutely. “Positive,” he replied shortly.

    “Not to mention the increased density of vines and the amount of flora compared to approximately twelve point three meters have drastically ballooned,” Cogwej added, scribbling religiously on his notes. “Which coincides with the fact that we have the Spirit of Wood in our midst!”

    “Spirit of Wood, huh?” Tiwaz replied as he approached the two. Strangely, the amount of traps decreased the closer they got to the relic, which was particularly strange to him. “So, any reason why there aren’t as many traps down here compared to upstairs? I don’t doubt the effectiveness of the traps upstairs, but considering that we were able to get through them…”

    “That’s because of the wildlife here,” Zeriz told him. “Whatever traps that are laid down get covered up by the growth. Until three months ago, the ninjas and the insects send groups every week in order to limit the plant life.”

    “Why? Would it have been better to let the plants overgrow and block the pathways?” Tiwaz asked as Zeriz started walking once more.

    “It would have obstructed the chosen one,” Zeriz said simply.

    “Me,” Cogwej said with an obvious tone of narcissism, causing Tiwaz to roll his eyes. “Of course, I highly question the ability of such flora to deter my journey towards the relics.”

    “You’d probably be skewered, burnt, and asphyxiated a hundred times before you reached this place, geezer,” his dragon bodyguard said bluntly.

    “Ha! How do you think I gathered the first three relics by myself!?”

    “Sheer luck,” Tiwaz said, although he wouldn’t admit that he was curious as to how the Wisemon did it. True, the old scientist could be capable at times, but his nature tended to override that capability.

    “Hmph! You just can’t comprehend my ingenuity!”

    Tiwaz ignored that comment and looked behind them. “Say, if no one’s supposedly been here for the past three months, why isn’t this tunnel completely overrun by giant vines yet?” he asked.

    Zeriz himself had been wondering that same question, although he had kept silent. “Perhaps the ninjas,” he thought out loud, although he wasn’t quite sure about that. It seemed that he wasn’t the only one.

    “For a group that’s supposed to leave nothing behind, they’re really messy,” Tiwaz observed, looking around. The way the plants were cut and pulled was not normal. It was if something just came through and started ripping everything into shreds.

    “Perhaps it was the creature that created the loud bellow that generated the seismic vibrations?” Cogwej noted, his pen against the bottom of his hood.

    “I would not want to meet that creature,” Zeriz said honestly.

    “Heh, I wouldn’t sweat it if I were you,” Tiwaz said with a grin. “If it ever comes our way, then leave it to me. I’m not the Cog’s bodyguard for nothing,” he told the SkullScorpiomon as they started to get close to the end of the hallway. Tiwaz could see that it led to a rather large room, well lit room. When they entered it, the EmperorGreymon’s jaw almost dropped.

    The whole room was as large as the room they had met the High King Thundarul in. What was more amazing was that it felt like he had gone through a portal and ended up back in the forest. There were large trees with thick trunks that reached up to the ceiling, which couldn’t be seen anymore due to the thick leaves and branches. Bushes and shrubs were all around, and some were even growing fruits of various colors and shapes. All the trees had vine growing around them, and they climbed up only to fall back to the ground like thick, green ropes. There various flowers of all sizes – there were even flowers larger than Tiwaz himself! - all around that grew from the trees themselves to the grassy ground that they were walking on. It was then that the EmperorGreymon noticed that most of the flowers were glowing different, radiant colors, much to their fortune, for if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have been able to see such a wonderful if not awe-striking sight.

    “This place is...” Tiwaz started.

    “Inexplicably remarkable! Staggeringly mind-boggling! Incredibly miraculous!” Cogwej said loudly as he jumped off of Zeriz’ back and ran around, grabbing a leaf here, a fruit there, a flower petal on the side and stuffing them all in bottles and testtubes that suddenly appeared in his hands. Tiwaz assumed that he had acquired them from under his cloak or from the spheres; he had stopped wondering a long time ago.

    “Yeah, what he said,” Tiwaz said. “How is this place possible?”

    “The relic! It’s power manifested itself in this one-of-a-kind forest! It’s astonishing!” Cog said loudly as he pocketed

    “This is where the artifact is located,” Zeriz said, and with those words, the attentions of the other two were completely redirected.

    “Where is it!?” Cog asked, jumping in front of the SkullScorpiomon. Tiwaz walked over, listening intently.

    “At the center of the room,” the insect replied, pointing behind the cloaked Digimon.

    Following his claw, Tiwaz could see, through the trees, a vine-matted pedestal with an altar at the center. He grinned wildly. “Let’s go then!” the EmperorGreymon said excitedly. So far, he had only seen the bad side of the relics; this was the first time he witnessed such a wondrous thing from one of them.

    In the same eager state, Cogwej quickly led the way. His enthusiasm, however, was short-lived.

    “It’s not there!” he yelled out loud.

    Tiwaz’s large grin fell when they got close, and true to his word, where the relic was supposed to be was nothing but air. “The hell!?” he growled, turning to Zeriz. He was about to give the SkullScorpiomon a few words when he noticed the insect’s own shocked expression.

    “It’s…it’s supposed to be right there,” the skeleton-like insect said, his voice slightly raspy, making it obvious how much the disappearance of the relic affected him.

    “Well, it’s not now!” Cogwej complained, turning to him with an expression that looked broken. “We were so close!” he whined, stamping his foot on the ground.

    “Moaning about it won’t make it appear, Cogwej,” Tiwaz told the scientist. He then looked at the SkullScorpiomon. “Do you have any idea where it could be?”

    “N-no,” Zeriz replied, blinking. And his eyes widened in realization. “This…this is why the ninjas kept us out…”

    Tiwaz raised an eyebrow, listening. Cogwej, however, continued his wailing scampering around the altar and pedestal on the hopes that perhaps there was some secret to it.

    “They…they did something to the relic,” Zeriz said, his raspy voice sounding hard, his pincers clenched tightly. “They…went against our highest law above all,” he growled.

    “Hey there, Zerry, calm down,” Tiwaz started, approaching the SkullScorpiomon.

    “Calm down!?” the skeletal scorpion repeated, his voice loud and rash. “They broke the ancient law! They took the relic! Who knows what they’re going to do with it!?” he yelled out, swinging his arms. And then from there, he changed into his native screechy insect language, making Tiwaz cover his ears.

    “H-hey, Zeriz!” Tiwaz tried to say. “I can’t understand you anymore! Look, let’s just go back to your dad!”

    Zeriz continued his rant, not hearing Tiwaz anymore. He probably would have continued a long time until Cogwej’s elated voice cut in loudly.

    I found it!

    Shocked, both Tiwaz and Zeriz turned to the Wisemon, who had travelled behind them in his frantic searching. “You what!?” Tiwaz yelled, eyes wide.

    Their eyes trained on the Wisemon’s finger, which was pointing at the entrance of the room. They followed it and saw a figure standing. Tiwaz blinked.

    (next post)
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  16. It was another Digimon with a black, crow-like head and large black wings. It had purple armor, white pants and a gray loincloth around its waist. It also had feet that ended with large, yellow talons. By that, Tiwaz thought he was a Karatenmon. However, unlike the normal Karatenmon, it had vines around its arms and upper body, which increased in density as they climbed up to his right shoulder and neck. And then situated on his right shoulder was a small statue-like object that seemed to be where the vines were coming from. As far as Tiwaz could tell, that was probably the artifact they were looking for. He narrowed his eyes, trying to get a better look at it.

    Much like the other artifacts, the Spirit of Wood had a base and a figure sitting on top of it. The base of the relic, which was situated right against the top of the Karatenmon’s shoulder, was in the shape of a flower with six, pointed petals and looked to be made of green marble. The petals seems to rise as they got halfway to the center before falling, as well having ridges that helped differentiated one petal from another. The center of the flower had formations that looked like shrubs and bushes, covering the center completely and branching out to fill parts of the ridges. They, too, looked like they were made of the same material as the base. Coming out of the bushes was a figure that looked like the front half of a horse, albeit one that looked more artificial than a real one. Unlike the base and the shrub-like formations, it was darker and full of lines, making it seem like it was made of emerald-colored wood. Its body was polygonal and had various gears and hinges, along with holes and compartments that held what looked like miniature cannons. And speaking of cannons, there were two large ones that could be seen on it. The first one was on the front side of its body, surrounded by four more tiny ones. The second one was what composed the horse’s muzzle. All over the relic were vine-like lines, running randomly all over the artifact. They shone with a bright green glow, brightening intensely at certain spots and reminding Tiwaz of flowers that were about to bloom.

    “Y-you’re Scimitar!” Zeriz called out in shock.

    “Who the hell is Scimitar?” Tiwaz asked, blinking.

    “A…high ranking ninja,” Zeriz replied, his shock slowly turning into anger.

    “Who cares!? He has the relic, and I demand that he offer it to me this instant!” Cogwej huffed, holding out an open palm.

    “Ze…riz…” the avian Digimon said with a deep voice that one wouldn’t expect from him.

    “Scimitar…what have you done?” Zeriz asked in a calm voice that barely veiled the fury in his raspy voice.

    “How…typical,” Scimitar replied, ignoring the question as he walked forward, slumping a bit, as if the relic on his shoulder weighed far more than it looked. “You…never did…like me…”

    “And I was right!” Zeriz replied with a hiss. “You broke the highest law of both villages! You are not worthy of the title Golden Claw!”

    “That title…is meaningless…to me…now,” the Karatenmon replied, walking closer. “What…means something…to me…is to free…the people…from this relic…once…and for all…”

    “Free the people?” Tiwaz repeated in confusion, raising an eyebrow.

    “What are you talking about?” Zeriz asked, narrowing his eyes as he slowly scuttled closer.

    “For days…upon weeks…upon years…we’ve been trapped…in this…stupid forest…protecting this stupid…prophecy…about this stupid…relic,” Scimitar said slowly as the relic pulsed on his shoulder, causing the vines to grow more around him.

    “That is not a stupid relic! That is the Spirit of Wood that you have on your person; someone who does not recognize its significance does not deserve to hold it!” Cogwej yelled, pointing at the Karatenmon accusingly.

    Scimitar ignored him. “I must…free the ninjas…free everyone…let them…leave this forest…as they wish…”

    “So you decided to take it for yourself!?” the SkullScorpiomon yelled.

    “Shut it, you two!” Tiwaz suddenly yelled. He turned to the Karatenmon. “Look here, whoever you are, we’re here to take that thing off of your, and both of the villages’, hands once and for all; you don’t have to worry about that anymore!”

    Suddenly the Karatenmon narrowed his eyes. “You…want it…?”

    “Do we have to repeat it for you!?” Cogwej said, folding his arms. “Hand it over this instant!”

    Instead of doing what they asked, the ninja bird merely looked at them, scrutinizing them silently.

    “Ugh, for Buri’s sakez,” Tiwaz grumbled and turned to Zeriz. “Hey, I know you aren’t on good terms right now, but the sooner we can convince him to give it to us, the better. Everyone’s happy; you’ll have done your job, and this guy won’t have to worry about the relic anymore.”

    The SkullScorpiomon grunted. Then he made a clicking sound which Tiwaz assumed meant “Okay” or something along those lines because the insect took a deep breath and started to look calmer.

    “Listen to me, Scimitar, just give them the relic, and this whole predicament will end. We will talk with the masters about what will happen next. You certainly won’t come out unpunished, but at least it will be lightened. Don’t let what our ancestors have done for centuries be vain,” Zeriz said diplomatically, no longer showing any anger, either vocally or physically. Tiwaz had to hand it to the scorpion: he was pretty convincing.

    “You…too…Zeriz…?” Scimitar suddenly said, his voice hard.

    “What do you mean him too?” Tiwaz asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “I…won’t be tricked…again,” the Karatenmon said, suddenly unsheathing two scarlet red swords.

    Zeriz frowned. “We’re not trying to trick you, Scimitar.”

    “What do you mean again, anyway?” Tiwaz asked, raising an eyebrow as he tensed up, a hand on the hilt of his weapon just in case.

    Scimitar simply stared at them as he raised his swords. “Do not…act like…you do not know,” he said simply as he sudden started to radiate a green aura. As if on command, the plant life around them suddenly started to move. “Tell your…friends…to stop…coming…after me!”

    Then without warning, vines all around them shot towards them.

    Having prepared for it, Tiwaz quickly drew his sword and hacked them away with a roar. In front of him, he saw that Cogwej was able to dodge and avoid them, albeit with a lot of flailing that should have gotten him caught; the Wisemon’s luck amazed him sometimes. He turned to Zeriz instead; he didn’t know how the insect would fare in a fight. Seeing as the SkullScorpiomon was struggling against vines around his claws, tail and torso, Tiwaz assumed that he wasn’t quite so experienced. Either that, or he was shocked by Scimitar’s apparent ability to control plant life.

    “Hey, geezer, distract the bird man while I help Zeriz!” he called out, running over to hack away the first few vines.

    “Look out!” Zeriz suddenly called out, using a freed pincer to free the rest of his body.

    “Huh?” Tiwaz turned to his side just in time to have Cogwej slamming right into him. Both fell on their backs a distance away while Scimitar, whose body was slowly getting more entangled with vines, approached dangerously.

    “Remarkable!” Cogwej exclaimed as he sat up. “He has attained a modicum amount of control over the relic! This is simply astonishing!”

    “Astonishing!? That just means it’s going to get harder not to get our butts kicked!” Tiwaz growled as he stood back up. “Zeriz! Try to talk to him or something!”

    “Look at him, Tiwaz!” Zeriz yelled as he lowered his body and snapped his fingers. “He’s beyond talking; we have to take the artifact back through force!” Then with a hiss, the scorpion Digimon jumped faster than his body would have made one believe.

    “No! Zeriz!” the dragonman replied as he dashed towards them.

    Scimitar was not given the title Golden Claw for nothing, and even when he was weighed down by a large amount of vines, he proved superior in speed compared with the SkullScorpiomon. He was able to evade the pounce, and he didn’t miss a beat as he spread his wigs towards Zeriz. “Shougekiha!

    Feathery blades shot towards the skeletal Digimon at incredible speed, only to get knocked away when Zeriz swung his armor-covered pincers. Not one blade managed to pierce the insect’s armor, giving testament to the reliability of his exoskeleton. However, he was too distracted to realize that once more, vines had wrapped around his legs, and they suddenly shot up, bringing Zeriz with them and suspending him in the air. He was about to snip the vines away, but before he could, more vines enclosed his pincers and pulled them away.

    “I’m…sorry it had…to come to this,” Scimitar said suddenly. “Goodbye…Zeriz!” With a quick swing, he sent one of his swords towards Zeriz head.

    “No!”

    Before the gold blade could connect, a dragon of fire suddenly appeared in its way, knocking the weapon away. The enflamed, sentient pillar of fire then proceeded to pivot around straight towards Zeriz, rising just in time to burn away only the vines.

    The SkullScorpiomon let out a short yell as gravity pulled him down, but he regained his focus long enough to land on his feet with a loud boom. He looked in front of him to see Tiwaz standing, covered in a large red flame from which the dragon of fire came from.

    “I am seriously getting tired of those stupid vines!” the EmperorGreymon growled. Then with a roar, he thrust his arm at the Karatenmon, sending the dragon towards him.

    The avian ninja didn’t move. When the pillar of fire suddenly swept into him, Tiwaz let out a surprised yell. He had expected him to at least try to defend or evade it, considering how his fire made plants shrivel up due to the extreme heat. He then let the flames around him die, as well as letting the fire dragon disappear. “Uh…did I do it?” he asked, looking at a pile of ashes where the Karatenmon was standing.

    “No,” Zeriz said from behind him. The SkullScorpiomon looked around tensely. “Someone of Scimitar’s caliber would not be easily defeated like that.”

    “Guess that explains why nothing, not even armor, was left behind,” Tiwaz noted, glancing at the pile before turning to look around. He turned back to the skeletal insect. “You calmed down yet?”

    The scorpion Digimon nodded, looking slightly ashamed at himself. “I have.”

    “Good,” Tiwaz said as he turned his head to the Wisemon. “Cogwej, do you see anything over there!?”

    The Wisemon was at the pedestal, taking out object after object from his inter-dimensional sphere. “I see absolutely nothing, Typer!”

    “It’s Tiwaz, dammit!” the EmperorGreymon snarled, his temper getting the best of him. It didn’t help that the whole situation was getting him stressed. “Where the hell could he go?”

    “This place…we’re at a disadvantage,” Zeriz said with narrowed, searching eyes.

    “You got that right,” Tiwaz muttered as he looked around as well. “The guy can control plants and has a tone of hiding places. We don’t even know how to get the relic off of him.”

    “If we can hold him long enough to do that, you mean,” the SkullScorpiomon supplied as he placed his back towards Tiwaz.

    The dragonman, instead of replying, turned back to Cogwej. “Hey, Cog, get over here before he decides to go after you!”

    “In a mere moment, Treegas!”

    Tiwaz’s eye twitched.

    “I believe I found the perfect solution to our problems! In order to find one relic,” the Wisemon said with a large grin. “We simply use another relic!” he replied as he pulled out a shining, rune-covered bag and raised in the air for Tiwaz to see, the light from the bag’s opening shining bright enough to illuminate a good portion of the room.

    Tiwaz was about to grin in triumph. And then he realized the flaw in the plan. “Cog, you idiot! You’re parading the relics around for the bastard to see!”

    “I’m what?” Cogwej repeated. And then before he even got a reply, the bag suddenly disappeared from his hands. Then Cogwej began to panic once more.

    “Dammit, Cogwej!” the EmperorGreymon growled, turning around. “Come out, you damned ninja, and face me like a man!”

    “A man…you say?” Scimitar’s voice called out from the entrance.

    The three Digimon turned their heads to see the Karatenmon standing with an arm outstretched, a hand holding the very bag that was formerly in Cogwej’s hand. “Despicable,” he said, his voice hard and strained. “You…dare call…yourself a man…when your friends…can so easily…trick…and deceive…for your own gain?” he said as the relic on his shoulder pulsed.

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about! Now stop talking rubbish and let the bag go!” Tiwaz roared at the ninja, stepping forward and swinging his blade in an intimidating manner.

    “Lies…will get you…nowhere,” the bird man said. “I…cannot let…fiends such as you…to hold onto…such things…with so much power,” he said, glancing at the bag. It was only a feeling, a sense that was given to him by the relic upon his shoulder, but he could feel similar objects inside it, just radiating with raw, unrestrained power. “Once…I have dealt…with you…I shall…make sure…these things…never see the light…of day once more…”

    “Oh no, you will not!” Cogwej’s loud voice yelled from across the room. Tiwaz turned to see the Wisemon dashing right towards them, his two spheres following after him. To the surprise of the dragonman, Cogwej’s eyes were serious and hard. They were eyes that he had never seen the Wisemon wear.

    “I have existed far too long, labored far too hard, and formulated far too much to let an overzealous, self-righteous, narcissistic birdman stand between my goals and I!” Cogwej said as he ran past Tiwaz and Zeriz. “I will not let my sacrifices be in vain! Pandora Dialogue!” he yelled out as he sent his spheres shooting right towards the Karatenmon.

    To the ninja’s surprise, coming right out of the spheres were swords, protruding just enough to let the full body of the blade appear. And Tiwaz let out a cry of surprise.

    “That’s my sword!” the EmperorGreymon said, recognizing the blade that came from one of the spheres. “Or at least…it looks like mine,” he said, looking down at the weapon in his hand. When he turned again, he noticed that from the other sphere, a copy of Fenrir’s Beo Saber had also appeared.

    Scimitar, however, was too busy to care. He jumped away in time to avoid a horizontal slash from the sword that looked like Tiwaz’s, the red sphere’s forceful slash enough to embed the blade-edge deep into the ground. However, the Karatenmon had to draw his other gold sword with his free hand in order to parry the yellow sphere’s sword. He grunted and was forced backwards a few inches, the sphere pushing against him.

    It was only then that the ninja noticed that Cogwej was dangerously close. “Relinquish the relics this instant!” the Wisemon commanded, a hand reaching out for the bag.

    “No!” Scimitar yelled, forcing the sphere and the Beo Saber it had away from him with a forceful push. With a roar, thick, thorny vines from the tree branches above him shot towards the Wisemon.

    Pandora Dialogue!” Cogwej called. Then the red sphere that had previously contained Tiwaz’s sword was in front of him, no longer bearing the blade and instead had an orange glowing tip. “Dragonfire Crossbow!

    Tiwaz stared in shock as his own attack was copied by the Wisemon, a fiery red beam shooting right towards the Karatenmon, burning the vines away into ashes. It then slammed into the entrance wall as Scimitar evaded, causing a large explosion and the whole room to rock with it.

    “Gah! Watch it, Cogwej! You’ll make the whole building fall on top of us!” Tiwaz roared.

    “Where is he!?” Zeriz asked right after, looking at where the Karatenmon had been standing. In his place was the runed bag.

    “Oh, thank the heavens, the relics have returned to me!” Cogwej said happily as he scooped the bag in hurry, noticing a particularly new feature on it. As he raised himself up, a tear showed itself, and one of the relics feel from the bag through it.

    The relic landed on the ground with a loud clang, and red light suddenly filled the room. Having been accustomed to dim lighting caused by the moss, everyone in the room were blinded by its bright shine. And along with that was a yell from Scimitar himself, although whether it was a yell that meant good for Tiwaz and his allies was something they didn’t know.

    “No! The Fire Spirit!” Cogwej called, trying to block the light with the bag and making sure to hold it in a way that kept the other relics from falling.

    Tiwaz growled and reached to grab Zeriz’s wrist – or whatever the junction between his claw and arm was – with his free hand and pulled towards the Wisemon. “Come on! We need to keep the bastard from getting his hands on a second relic!” he said as he dashed towards the relic, placing his sword in its sheathe and forcing his eyes to stay open so that he could focus on the relic despite the pain it caused his eyes.

    “Where is that…aha!” Tiwaz said with triumph, procuring a rune-covered cloth as his eyes slowly got adjusted to the light. He would never admit it, but Fenrir’s suggestion of each of them having something that would protect them from the effects of the relic without touching it was a really good idea. He let go of Zeriz and reached down to lay the cloth on the relic quickly before picking it up. “Got it!” he said as he stood back up, panting.

    “Perfect! Now if you’ll just return it in the bag-“ Cogwej was about to say, but a loud roar interrupted him.

    “No!”

    Once more, they turned to face Scimitar. The Karatenmon looked even more strained and haggard than before, yet the relic on his shoulder shined brightly and looked like it was surging with more power. “I…cannot let you…do as you wish so freely!” he yelled, and then he dashed right towards them, his whole body covered in glowing, green energy.

    Tiwaz growled. He didn’t want to admit it, but he would be too slow to grab his sword or gather enough concentration to summon fire to defend them. And since Cogwej didn’t look like he was in serious mode anymore, he doubted he’d have the chance to either. That wouldn’t stop the dragonman from trying. “Crap, I need to-“

    “Get down!”

    “Wha- gah!”

    Zeriz suddenly pulled Tiwaz and Cogwej down to the ground with his claws, flattening his own body against the floor. No longer enthused with anger, he was a fortunately better listener than the other two.

    Mega Blaster!

    Blue lightning blasted over their heads, slamming right into the glowing Scimitar and sending him flying into the pedestal. Dust was sent flying, and Scimitar was laid on the ground, rubble remains of the stone pedestal scattered all around him. However, that didn’t stop him from slowly getting back on his feet.

    “Who!?” Tiwaz said out loud as he stood back up, looking at the source of the lightning. He then grinned widely. “Took you long enough, bug!”

    “My name’s Taranis, remember?” the MegaKabuterimon asked as he jogged over to them. “Didn’t mean to shock you, by the way,” he couldn’t help but add.

    “I-i-i-is everyone all right?” a person beside him, a Shurimon that the EmperorGreymon didn’t recognize, asked, looking over them worriedly.

    “Odysseus?” Zeriz asked in surprise, walking over. “What are you doing here?” he asked, eyes narrowing a bit at the Shurimon.

    “It’s, um, a long s-s-story,” Odie replied, rubbing his arm. “I just w-w-w-want to help,” he said as he looked over to the one that tried to attack Tiwaz and company. He hadn’t gotten a good look when he saw him charging towards the three, but now that he did, he found himself surprised. “I…is that…Scimitar?”

    “Yes,” Zeriz replied, glaring at the Karatenmon.

    “But…I…n-n-n-n-no…I didn’t…want to believe it,” the Shurimon muttered to himself.

    “M…more of you…?” Scimitar said, his voice suddenly different from before. It was harder and deeper…much more intimidating. He looked at them, his eyes glowing with a green glow that hadn’t been there before.

    “S-scimitar…? It’s me, Odysseus,” the Shurimon said, walking forward.

    “Careful, kid,” Tiwaz said, putting a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t like the eerie glowing in the Karatenmon’s eyes, nor did he like the way the relic was suddenly acting. It was fortunate that he was able to give the relic back to Cogwej.

    “B-b-b-but he knows me,” Odie tried, not looking away.

    “He knows me too,” Zeriz told the Shurimon, snapping his claws.

    “I…have to…stop you,” Scimitar said as he outstretched his arms. Then from his aura, blades similar to the ones he had used formed in his hands. They started off as pure, emerald energy, and then they slowly turned into what seemed to be wood. It wasn’t that intimidating until the Karatenmon swung his arms quickly cut the altar where the relic had been sitting – one of the few parts of the pedestal that remained – in half.

    “Er, I don’t think things made of wood are supposed to do that,” Taranis said, stepping backwards back into the hallway.

    “It’s the Spirit of Wood!” Cogwej informed enthusiastically. “Exposure to one of the relics’ power must have given stimulated it into giving Scarmitir more power, thusly increasing his overall combat ability. As such, he is, without a doubt, a much more difficult opponent to defeat,” the Wisemon told them.

    “And you are happy about this why!?” Tiwaz asked incredulously.

    “Why, this is an ideal situation to gather rare data on effects of the relics on subjects that they do not exterminate!” Cog replied.

    “What!? Even now you’re still-“

    “Hello, other problems right now!” Taranis said as he pointed at Scimitar.

    Shougekiha!

    “Oh no, you don’t!” Tiwaz roared and stepped forward, gathering flames in his hands. Then he thrust his hands in front of him, sending flames to meet with the feathery blades that the Karatenmon sent towards him. To his shock, his flames did nothing, the feathers passing through and shooting toward them.

    “Scatter!” Zeriz called out, doing his best to evade the feathers.

    Tiwaz had to grab Cogwej and jump out of the way, Odysseus doing the same as he jumped into the trees. Not having the same agility as the others, Taranis had to run back into the hallway.

    “Scimitar! It’s m-m-me! I’m your friend!” Odie shouted as he landed back on the ground. “Don’t you recognize me?”

    Instead of a reply, the Karatenmon roared and charged, his blades ready to cut the Shurimon in half. And too shocked at the Golden Crow’s answer to his question, Odysseus only stood there. He would have received the same fate that the alter did if not for Tiwaz intercepting Scimitar, using the Dragon Soul Sword to parry both of the Karatenmon swords.

    Tiwaz grunted as the force Scimitar’s charge caused him to move a few inches backwards, his feet digging into the ground. Nevertheless, the EmperorGreymon stood his ground and kept his opponent’s swords from reaching the shocked genin behind him. And then he blinked; he was eye to eye with Scimitar.

    “Hey…weren’t…you shorter…?” Tiwaz grunted as he tried to push back.

    Scimitar’s only reply was to growl back at him. “I…will…stop you!” he said with such resolve that Tiwaz had to give him grudging respect. However, he didn’t like the sudden shockwave that suddenly spread out from the Karatenmon, sending him and Odie flying into the wall behind them.

    “That glowing does not look good!” Taranis shouted from the entrance, holding onto the corner of the door to keep from getting blown away. Zeriz and Cogwej themselves were pressed against some form of surface due to the sheer force of the shockwave.

    “Is…is he digivolving!?” Zeriz shouted in shock, noticing that along with the increasingly brightening glowing, the Karatenmon’s body was growing and slowly altering itself.

    “It must be the effect of the relic!” Cogwej said, having put the bag and the relics back in one of his spheres, both of which were safely back inside his cloak. “It must be supplying him so much energy that it’s forcing his body to digivolve!”

    “In that case, maybe it’s a better idea to get out of here?” Taranis suggested, reaching to pull Odysseus still body into the hallway with him.

    Tiwaz narrowed his eyes, brandishing his sword and stepping forward. “No, we have to stop him-“

    “Not here,” Zeriz said, scuttling backwards to the hallway. “He can control wood and plantlife. This room is covered in it.”

    Tiwaz grunted, turning to them. “I’m a fire god! I can match him blow for blow and then some!”

    “Not quite, Tweegee,” Cogwej interrupted, scampering over and hiding behind Tiwaz. “Considering the large amounts of power he has suddenly acquired, it would be difficult to defeat him in his own field.”

    “So what do we do, we run out where he has a whole forest to control!?” Tiwaz retorted, growling.

    “How about we run because the strange, glowing bird person is suddenly as tall as the ceiling and growing bigger?” Taranis suggested.

    “He’s what!?” Tiwaz asked in shock, turning back to Scimitar.

    True to Taranis’ word, the Karatenmon was suddenly larger than Tiwaz himself, his whole body practically covered in vines and plantlife, glowing splotches all over him, and his shape contorting into a different shape. Even his face was changing into something more frightening.

    “D-damn,” the EmperorGreymon cursed, stepping back. Suddenly, he felt like what Cogwej said was becoming a lot more likely. “Fine! But I don’t like it, and I’m guarding the back!” Tiwaz decided. At the very least, he would try to keep the Karatenmon from getting to the relics again.

    “Then let’s hurry then!” Taranis said as he quickly exited the room, dragging Odie with him.

    “He…he didn’t recognize me…” the Shurimon muttered as he was forced to follow the big blue insect. Behind him, Cogwej and Zeriz followed, with Tiwaz taking the back and sending a blast of flames at the entrance as Scimitar slammed against the wall to try and follow them.

    “It might be due to the same reason he’s digivolving!” Cogwej told him, apparently unconcerned about the fact that the ceiling was sending small pieces of debris on their heads. “Perhaps it is not only his body, but also his mind that cannot take the uncontrollable amount of power!”

    “S-s-s-s-so…that’s why he didn’t recognize me?” Odie asked, looking behind at the Wisemon. He didn’t know who he was, nor was he familiar with the cloaked Digimon, but the confidence in his words and the apparent knowledge of the relics helped him believe in the older Digimon.

    “Well, it is possible,” Cogwej theorized, putting his palms together. He was only too happy to formulate more and more hypotheses in their situation.

    “Less talking, more running!” Taranis called out as he proceeded to run up a flight of stairs, still pulling Odysseus along. He was very grateful for his new ninja friend disarming the traps along the way.

    “Do you know where you’re going?” Zeriz couldn’t help but ask the other insect that was leading the way.

    “Just trust me! I’ll get us out the same way we got-”

    The sentence was left unfinished, and it was followed by a yell of surprise and the sound of crashing as Taranis turned at a corner.

    “Bug, what’s happening over there!?” Tiwaz called out from behind. He was busy trying to fend off the weird glowing creature that was currently dismantling the hallway as he tried to get to them. To his chagrin, his flames and attacks weren’t doing much good, however.

    “I should have known this is your fault,” a familiar voice called out to the dragonman.

    “Fenrir!?” Tiwaz called out, turning his head to look in front of them.

    The Beowolfmon stepped out from the corner, looking back at him with irritated eyes. “What did you and Cogwej do now!?”

    “Feldeer, guess what! Guess what!” Cogwej said, running in front of him. Before Fenrir could even think of answer, Cogwej supplied it for him. “We found the Spirit of Wood!”

    Fenrir raised an eyebrow. “You’ve acquired it already?”

    “Not quite,” Cogwej told him.

    “The guy that has it is over there, and I bet he wants nothing better than to crush our heads with his suddenly gigantic foot,” Tiwaz said, turning back to Scimitar.

    “That’s…Scimitar?” yet another familiar voice said.

    “Looks like you brought Pav with you!” Tiwaz said with a grin. This at least meant he had the Beowolfmon and the PileVolcamon to back him up when they had to fight.

    “Scimitar…what happened to you?”

    This time, Tiwaz didn’t know who the voice belonged to. He didn’t have to turn his head, however, since a Ravemon suddenly appeared beside him.

    “M-master Falcion,” Odysseus said, sounding very embarrassed.

    “We will speak of this later, Odysseus. For now, I need to know what is going on,” the Ravemon said calmly. Tiwaz only had to glance at the newcomer to realize that the Digimon was not calm.

    The EmperorGreymon was about to say something when Scimitar roared and the hallways rumbled, causing a good portion of the ceiling to suddenly fall as the growing, glowing Digimon grew even more.

    “We can do that later; we need to get out before the whole temple falls on our heads!” Fenrir decided.

    “I d-d-d-don’t think we have that much time,” Odie replied. “It took Taranis and I half an hour to get here,” he said, closing his eyes.

    “I can lead us out in ten!” Taranis suddenly supplied.

    “I don’t think my handprints are going to help; they’ll have died down by now,” Tiwaz pointed out as he backed up and sent more flames down the hallway.

    “I don’t mean that! Just trust me!”

    “With a group this big? We’re gonna lose someone if we rush!”

    “W-well, I don’t hear any better ideas!”

    Fenrir furrowed his eyebrows. Then he turned to Cogwej. “I have an idea,” he said, and he glanced at Tiwaz. “But you’re not going to like it.”

    “As long as it doesn’t involve dying in this tunnel!” Tiwaz replied.

    -​

    Above the temple, the earth was rumbling and shaking madly. All around the architecture, trees and branches were falling and the ground was cracking. Pieces of the building were falling and causing more destruction around them. Ninjas all around were jumping around, avoiding from getting crushed and falling into the fissures.

    “Someone find the masters!” one of the ninjas called out as they scrambled for safety.

    “We’ve sent a squad already; they haven’t come back yet!”

    “The village! It’s in danger!”

    “Mountain and Earth Groups, return at once! Verify the safety of the villagers!”

    “The entrance has caved in, sir! The Silver Crow and his companions cannot exit through!”

    “Tornado Group, fly in and try to remove the debris! We cannot allow the Silver Crow and the chosen one to be trapped inside!”

    “Sir! A solitary figure is coming out of the temple! It’s an entrance we’ve never seen before!”

    “Is it the Silver Crow!?”

    “Negative, sir!”

    “What!? Then who!?”

    “Out of the way! Big blue bug coming through!”

    Taranis rushed out of the entrance that he had gone through, his large body covered in dust and dents all over his exoskeleton armor. He looked behind him, surprised that the entrance that he had gone through was still standing, let alone still functioning. He couldn’t say the same for the temple itself; it was beginning to fall down on itself. And then when he turned back to his front, he found himself confronted by a group of ninja Digimon pointing their weapons in them.

    “Uh…”

    “Who are you!?” a Ninjamon said, glaring at the MegaKabuterimon.

    “Hello!? Temple getting destroyed?! Worse problems than me!?” Taranis said, raising all four hands into the air. Particularly, in one of his hands held a leather book. Then without warning, the leather book started to pulled itself from his hand and rose in the air in front of them.

    “What are you doing!?” the Ninjamon asked loudly, jumping backwards along with his companions.

    “I did nothing! Ask the flying book!” Taranis replied, his hands still in the air as the book started to enlarge itself by many times. Within seconds, the leather-bound object was twice the size of Taranis. And then it opened itself, its pages facing the ground.

    Before the Ninjamon could command his team to attack the book with their techniques, the pages rippled as if like water, and one after another, Taranis’ companions fell through, making a large pile of Digimon with Odysseus falling last.

    From under the pile, Tiwaz’s voice rumbled. “Ge’ uffa me!”

    “M-master Falcion!” the Ninjamon said in shock as the pile pulled themselves up. Despite the shaking ground, he knelt on the ground, prompting the rest to follow suit.

    “What’s the situation up here?” Falcion asked, although he assumed he didn’t really have to ask considering that he was present himself.

    “We’ve sent groups back at base for damage control on the village,” the Ninjamon informed him. “The temple seems to be crumbling and unnatural quaking has caused a good portion of the forest trees to uproot and fall.”

    The Ninjamon was about to continue, but Tiwaz interrupted. “Okay, now that we’ve settled that, how about we get onto bigger problems like the growing monstrosity that’s trying to get out!?” he said, his voice growing louder with every word.

    “Scimitar isn’t a monstrosity!” Odie said. He didn’t want to believe that Scimitar tried to kill them. The Golden Crow was better than that in his mind.

    “That isn’t Scimitar anymore,” Zeriz told the Shurimon, glancing back at the temple.

    “It is highly likely that being without friendly contact from the outside world for three months, along with having to endure the surge of power from the relic on his body, has caused his mind to slowly deteriorate,” Cogwej added, taking out his notebook. “It would explain his particularly slow and strained speech patterns, as well as the deterioration of his good judgment, and perhaps his memory.”

    “W-w-what?”

    “Remember, he tried attacking us,” Zeriz said. During the time they were…confined within the strange room in the book, they had exchanged stories of what happened to them.

    “But…it’s Scimitar…”

    “He’s lucky that he’s still even alive after getting his hands on the relic,” Tiwaz grumbled, folding his arms and remembering the two times he witnessed someone holding a relic: himself with the Fire Spirit and Dietrich with the Earth Spirit.

    “C-c-can we save him?”

    “We don’t know, but we’re sure as hell going to try!” Tiwaz said resolutely. And just as he said so, the top of the temple suddenly burst, a huge creature suddenly shooting out of it as pieces of the temple flew everywhere. One large piece landed at the center of their group, sending them flying in different directions as they tried to avoid getting crushed.

    “The hell!?” Tiwaz turned his head up as he got on his feet.

    “That…does not look like Scimitar at all,” Falcion noted, grimacing.

    “He finished digivolving,” Zeriz muttered, observing the giant that Scimitar had digivolved into.

    “I…don’t recognize it,” Fenrir said, narrowing his eyes. He had travelled for a very long time, read many books on different species that he might meet during his journey, and the one that the former Karatenmon digivolved into was one that he had never encountered.

    Scimitar’s new form was colossal. He had an avian body that was covered in fur, scales and feathers. He had large violet-scaled wings with a wingspan that was as long as the temple was tall. At the edges of his wings were purple feathers on blue-green ones, and along the front of the wings were three black claws each, large enough that they looked like they could create fissures large enough for Cogwej to sleep in. He had a long, thick tail that was outlined with the same pink feathers, and along his back was blue-green fur that reached all the way to a avian-reptilian head. His beak looked hard and strong, turning into a mask-like helmet that had horns and holes for his sharp, red eyes.

    “My peaches,” Cogwej said in awe. “It’s Ornismon!”

    “Ornis…mon?” Pavamana repeated, turning to Cogwej. “You know what he is?”

    “You sure you got the name right, there, Cog?” Tiwaz muttered, turning back to the bird.

    “Of course. This is incredible!” Cogwej said, taking out his signature notebook and pencil. “Ornismon were said to have disappeared along with the proemial gods!”

    “Well, he said the same name twice…I guess he knows what he’s talking about,” Tiwaz muttered, although he wasn’t quite convinced.

    Apparently not hearing him, Cogwej continued. “They had incredible amounts of power that allowed them to fight on even grounds with the gods! Of course, this one seems smaller than the books say, but to find one in this day and age is nothing short but a miracle!”

    “You mean tragedy,” Fenrir said, narrowing his eyes. “We have to defeat him.”

    The Ornismon let out a loud shriek, swooping down and firing bright, dazzling beams from his mouth. They crashed onto the ground, exploding and causing the forest to go ablaze with fire.

    “W-w-we have to fight that!?” Taranis said in shock.

    “We have to try! Or else this forest is gone, along with the relic!” Tiwaz growled, brandishing his sword.

    “Hello! We can’t even get it to fight down to our level and defeat it!” Taranis said, raising all four hands in the air with exasperation.

    “Maybe we don’t have to?” Falcion asked, looking up.

    “What do you mean?” Pavamana asked, turning to the Ravemon.

    “The cause of all of this is the relic. What happens if we take it away?”

    “Ooooh, that’s a good idea!” Cogwej said, writing down more notes. “If we take away his source of power, then without the vast amounts of energy, his body may be forced to revert back to its former state!”

    “D-d-d-does that mean Scimitar will g-g-go back to normal?” Odie asked hopefully as he turned to the cloaked and erudite Digimon.

    “Well, that’s a possibility,” the Wisemon replied, placing the eraser end of his pencil against his chin.

    “Then l-l-l-let’s do it!” Odie said, turning to everyone.

    “How? We don’t even know where the relic is anymore, let alone can we get to it,” Zeriz said, trying to look for the telltale shine of the relic. He couldn’t see it at all. In fact, there weren’t any vines on the Ornismon, but the relic had to be somewhere on his body.

    “Er…it’s between his right wing and body, on the top side, exactly where it turns from his body to the wing,” Taranis then said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Uh…his shoulder, I guess.”

    Everyone turned to him in surprise. “How do you know that?”

    “Well, I only sort of saw it for a few seconds when he came out of the temple – luckily, I looked up long enough to get the image stuck in my head – and there was a different kind of light on his shoulder that was different from his body,” the MegaKabuterimon told them.

    “Few…seconds? How could you even spot it on something so large?” Pavamana asked in shock.

    “Uh…well…I, uh, kind of have this eclectic memory…or something,” he explained a bit sheepishly. “It’s how I remembered the way out and stuff.”

    “You do!?” Cogwej suddenly appeared in front of him, eyes wide and eagerly jumping in front of him. “Amazing! How do you remember everything? Is it true that you never forget anything?” the Wisemon asking, not stopping his questions.

    “Um, well, you see, I,” Taranis replied, not sure where to start. He was thankful when Fenrir pulled the Wisemon away from him.

    “That’s one problem solved. Now we simply need to get the relic,” Fenrir said, nodding at Pavamana to keep Cogwej in line.

    “Simply?” Taranis repeated exasperatedly.

    “Well, we won’t know until we try,” Tiwaz said, grinning as he turned to the Ornismon, who continued to send more and more beams onto the forest.

    “Er, is it only me, or is he just attacking randomly?” Pavamana asked. He had thought that Scimitar would try attacking them as soon as he saw them, but he noticed that the giant Digimon pass over them many times only to ignore them and continue ravaging the forest.

    “It’s not only you,” Zeriz said, wondering the same thing. He had done nothing but observe the Ornismon in case it tried to attack them, but so far, it had done nothing of the sort.

    “Then perhaps his mind is no longer present?” Cogwej conjectured.

    “No!” Odie shouted in worry. “He…he has to come back!”

    “We’ll try, kid,” Tiwaz said, narrowing his eyes. It was going to be a bit harder; it meant that they couldn’t afford to hurt the Ornismon too much. That is, if they could hurt him at all.

    Odysseus bit his lip behind his cloth mask. He didn’t want to lose one of his closest friends; Scimitar had always been there for him, encouraging him and fostering his imagination of the outside world. He couldn’t afford to lose his friend. He started looking around on hopes of finding a way to help them save Scimitar rather than destroy him.

    “Silver Crow!” the Jonin called once more. “The Masters! They’re here! Along with High King Thundarul!”

    The Ravemon turned to the Jonin. “Good timing, we will need all the help we can get,” he said, turning to the skies. With a good number of trees around the temple no longer standing tall, he could see two large, shining figures flying towards them and the Ornismon.

    “They’re…really bright,” Pavamana said, being forced to squint his eyes just to see them.

    The Phoenixmon and the HerculesKabuterimon were indeed quite dazzling, golden feathers and armor glinting and glaring under the light of the sun. They were definitely eye catching. It was even enough to draw the attention of Scimitar.

    The Ornismon spread open his mouth and sent a beam shooting right towards them. Instead of evading, the sacred bird and the golden insect fired their own charged attacks. Beams of light and streams of lightning met the thick ray. The attacks exploded as they met, sending a strong wave of air to pass over those on the ground, forcing them to hang on lest they be sent flying.

    “W-wow,” Odie muttered.

    “They’re strong,” Tiwaz muttered.

    “They’re not masters only in name,” Falcion said, despite having the same awestruck expression on his face.

    The Ornismon swooped over them, shrieking loudly, reminding them that alone, he was able to match the two masters. “We need to get him down,” Fenrir yelled over the shriek.

    “We need to speak with the masters!” Falcion replied.

    “Taranis!” Tiwaz called, turning to the MegaKabuterimon. “Get their attention; we need to form a plan of attack!”

    “R-right!” the blue insect said as he took off in the air, making sure to stay close to the trees so as not to garner the Ornismon’s attention. He didn’t want to end up as ancient bird food, after all.

    “In the meantime, we get the giant bird’s attention,” Tiwaz said, raising his sword in the air, aiming for the Ornismon.

    “And then what? Try not to get killed?” Fenrir asked him rhetorically, pulling Tiwaz’s Dragon Soul Sword down. “Not all of us will be able to avoid his laser attack.”

    “So what!? We just let them do the work for us!?” Tiwaz retorted, growling. He was not going to just stand there and let Menelaus and Thundarul do the work for them.

    “A-a-a-a-actually,” Odie’s voice cut in. “I think…I have a plan.”

    Everyone turned to the Shurimon, who was suddenly holding vines in his hands. Vines that had come from the room that Tiwaz had been in.

    (next post)
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  17. “That might just work!” Agamemnon the Jijimon High Master said, swinging his paw stick in the air. Menelaus and Thundarul were keeping Scimitar busy in the air, trading beams and blows and keeping the forest from having to deal with most of the Ornismon’s attack, as well as in hopes of tiring the ancient bird Digimon out, if even just a little bit.

    “I h-h-h-h-hope so,” Odysseus replied to the high ranked ninja.

    “It has to.”

    Odie turned to the owner of the voice. It was a blue wolf-like humanoid with red eyes. He was heavily armed with artillery, a large missile launcher on one arm and a gatling gun in the other. Both armaments were blue, and they were both connected to a compact piece of armor similar to the nose of a plane on the wolfman’s chest. On his back were wing-like protrusions, along with boosters and a pair of golden belts that swung freely behind him. He was a MagnaGarurumon.

    “Fenrir,” Odysseus called out to him, giving him a book – the very same one that they had been confined in a few moments before. “You need to get to a high enough altitude or else you might not have enough force to bring Scimitar down.”

    Fenrir nodded, taking the book with his only free hand, the one that had the gatling gun mounted on it. “Is everyone else ready?” he asked the Shurimon.

    “I th-th-th-think,” Odie muttered, turning to the Jijimon beside him.

    “Oh, don’t you worry, Odie-dilly!” Aggie said, patting the Shurimon on the shoulder with his paw stick. “I’ll make sure that everyone’s at tip top shape and ready as rain!” he said, planting the end of his stick into the ground before jumping on top, balancing himself easily on the paw end and cupping his hands around his mouth.

    “And if anyone is just a second late when Odie-dilly says go, then that person is going to clean Manny’s nest for the next month!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, which was quite loud for someone so old. For some reason, Fenrir suddenly sensed a lot of anxiety and unease around him. He supposed that cleaning the nest of a bird Menelaus’ size was not an enjoyable task at all.

    Fenrir then nodded at the Jijimon in gratitude. He turned to the side. “Cogwej, what about you?” he asked the Wisemon, who was busy with his spheres.

    “But of course! The sooner we obtain the Spirit of Wood, the faster our journey will finish!” he replied, rubbing his palms together.

    “Uh…you’re sure this is safe, right?” Taranis, behind Cogwej and with all four hands covered in makeshift gloves that was made from the runed cloths that Tiwaz, Pavamana, Cog and Fenrir had, said unsurely. Around his body were also vines that had a very long tail. “I mean, I’m not gonna turn into some freak ancient bug monster, right?”

    “Oh pish posh, you don’t have to worry a thing!” Cogwej said enthusiastically. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm wasn’t making the MegaKabuterimon any less worried.

    “We can only rely on you for this,” Fenrir told the insect.

    “Y-y-y-you’re the only one who knows where e-e-e-exactly the artifact is,” Odysseus told him. “You have the most important p-p-p-part.”

    “That’s why I don’t like my part,” Taranis replied, not looking confident at all.

    “You should g-g-g-go,” Odie then said, turning back to Fenrir.

    The MagnaGarurumon nodded and jumped, activating the boosters on his armor and shooting upwards. As he did so, he had to avoid stray beams and lightning. He was very aware that he was in the middle of a battle between giants. One wrong move, and he would end up getting fried, blasted, and forced to fall back down to the earth. Even if it didn’t kill him, it would burn up the book in his hand and ruin their whole plan.

    “Young one, watch out!” a deep, base voice suddenly called.

    Without warning, Fenrir was suddenly swept and pulled by a large golden hand. His breath was literally taken away, unprepared for the incredible speed that pulled him from him spot. He couldn’t complain, however, since a thick, dazzling beam suddenly shot past the space that he had previously been in. If he hadn’t been pulled away, he would have been right in the middle of it.

    “Pay attention, young one,” the voice said. It came from someone above him, and Fenrir looked up.

    “You are…”

    “Thundarul,” the HerculesKabuterimon said as he let go of the MagnaGarurumon. “Quickly now. Menelaus and I cannot keep this up much longer,” he told the wolfman.

    Fenrir would have raised an eyebrow. The golden insect looked anything but exhausted. Then he realized: the insect was a leader as well as a king. Showing weakness would make those below them to lose morale, and would probably risk the success of their plan. Glancing at Menelaus, he deduced that the Phoenixmon must be doing the same.

    “You won’t have to wait much longer,” Fenrir said as he dashed upwards, making sure to pay more attention.

    He shot high up to the sky, looking down at the Ornismon. It was fortunate that he was still very much smaller than the Ornismon. It meant he wouldn’t draw himself attention while he tried to place himself over it. He had to time it just right and wait for Menelaus and Thundarul to draw it in the ideal position.

    “Three…two…”

    And then he was right on top of the Ornismon as it began charging its attack.

    “Now!” he shouted, throwing the book over him and shooting a bright missile in the air – the signal. The book enlarged itself once more, opening as its pages rippled. Then Tiwaz and Pavamana dropped from the book, followed by Falcion.

    “Haha!” Tiwaz yelled, his sword pointing at the sky as he began to fall. “Ready guys!?” he yelled excitedly.

    Pavamana nodded and curled into a ball. Falcion repeated the gesture and unsheathed his sword, pointing it down unlike Tiwaz.

    “We have only one chance!” Fenrir yelled as his armor suddenly dismantled itself from his body. He tilted his body down as it got surrounded by bright light. In a flash, he suddenly shot down towards the Ornismon.

    Dragonfire Crossbow! / Starlight Velocity! / Volcanic Driver! / Ame-no-Ohabari!

    One after another, the four Digimon crashed into the stunned Ornismon.

    On Scimitar’s left wing was Tiwaz, who used the blast from his Dragonfire Crossbow attack to jet him faster along with the force of gravity. Midway, he was able to force his sword to face downward, stabbing the Ornismon thick and scale-reinforced wing right through with his Dragon Soul Sword.

    On the right wing, Falcion stabbed his sword into his former fellow ninja, landing hard and piercing just enough to let half of his sword inside the wing, along with sending a good amount of lighting through the Ornismon’s body.

    Pavamana and Fenrir both struck the Ornismon’s body, the PileVolcamon slamming onto the Ornismon’s back while the MagnaGarurumon crashed into his neck.

    The ancient bird Digimon let out a shriek, startled and unprepared for the unexpected combined strikes of the four Digimon. It also took away from him the use of his wings, letting gravity take its toll on the huge Digimon’s body and send it falling down to the ground, bringing its attackers with him.

    And then he crashed into the ground loudly, Tiwaz and the rest sent flying due to the sheer force of the body hitting the ground. Fortunately for them, a pair of ninjas and/or insects were ready to catch them. A moment later, more ninjas and insects quickly appeared from all around, carrying vines and ropes that they used to try and hold Scimitar down. In less than half a minute, more than half of the Ornismon’s body was already held down by cords of all kinds. Despite that, the ancient bird Digimon struggled to get back in the air, stopped only barely by the sheer numbers of the Digimon that held him down.

    “These…ninjas work fast,” Tiwaz grunted, chuckling despite the pain that wracked his body. Apparently, even though he and the others were only on top of the ancient bird, they weren’t spared some of the force of hitting the ground from a high altitude.

    At the side of his vision, he spotted Taranis rushing over to the fallen Ornismon, running right towards something that only he remembered seeing. Unfortunately for Tiwaz, it was on the other side of the Ornismon’s head, so he didn’t see what the MegaKabuterimon saw when he yelled, “I got it! Now pull before this bird gets loose!”

    At his announcement, the vine that was connected to the one around Taranis’ waist was grabbed by other ninjas and insects. Then as one, they all pulled. As they did so, Scimitar screeched. Whether it was in pain or in rage, it had the same effect: they pulled harder.

    “Cogwej! Anytime now!” Taranis yelled from his position, waiting for the Wisemon to appear and help. The MegaKabuterimon didn’t dare look for him; he had to keep his hands on the relic and concentrate on getting it free from the Ornismon’s body. It was stuck to the crevice between the wing and the body, and it seemed like it had grown roots that dig into the scales of the ancient Digimon.

    The Ornismon started thrashing, and a few of the Digimon that held him down couldn’t hold on any longer.

    “COGWEJ!”

    “I’ve arrived!” the Wisemon yelled from somewhere to his side. “Prepare yourself, beetle, and be amazed for the most remarkable and mind-boggling show of runic magic and-“

    “I don’t care! Just do something!”

    “Oh, fine!” Cogwej said with a roll of his eyes. “No appreciation for the flair of libretti,” the Wisemon said as he brought his two spheres out of his cloaks. On the spheres were different runes of various kinds, glowing and pulsing with energy that was not unlike those on Taranis’ current handwear.

    Cogwej then caused the spheres to shine brightly. As if connected, Taranis’ gloves also flashed as well. The runes on it, as if alive, separated from the glove and surrounded the relic. They spun and moved around before planting themselves on the artifact itself, getting over and under it. And a moment later, the artifact unglued itself from the Ornismon’s body.

    And Taranis, along with the artifact in his hands, was left to get pulled roughly away from the Ornismon due to the pulling of the ninjas and insects behind him.

    Then Scimitar let a bloodcurdling shriek, as if a part of him had been torn away. It was all anyone could to do just to cover their ears and hope that he’d stop soon. If anyone had been able to keep their eyes open, they would have seen the Ornismon suddenly begin to shrink under the vines. Slowly but surely, Scimitar began to revert back to his Karatenmon form, and his cry soon transformed into a lowly groan.

    The first one to react was none other than Odysseus. “Master Scimitar!”

    That was all it took for the ninjas to act, quickly pulling away the mounds of vines that the former ancient bird that had begun to get covered in from head to toe. Odie himself was at the center of the mound where he thought he saw the Karatenmon, hacking at the vines to get to the former ninja. Moments later, the Shurimon was holding Scimitar in his arms.

    “Scimitar! Master Scimitar! It’s me! Odysseus!” the Shurimon said, shaking the Golden Crow in his arms. No longer was he enveloped by a green glow, nor were there vines covering his body. He was a normal Karatenmon once more.

    “O…die? Is…that you…?” the Karatenmon managed to say, one of his eyes weakly opening.

    “Well, look who decided to rejoin the land of the sane,” Falcion said as he walked over, Agamemnon bounding beside him.

    “Simi! How are you? No more bad birdie urges?” the Jijimon said, poking the Karatenmon with his paw stick.

    “M-m-m-master, I don’t think you should be doing that,” Odie said, trying to get the eccentric old Digimon to stop.

    “F-falcion…High Master,” Scimitar rasped, turning his head to look at the two. Two suddenly turned to four, and four to eight, and soon, more and more Digimon gathered around them.

    “You’ve caused quite a problem for us, Golden Crow Scimitar,” Menelaus voice bellowed as the Phoenixmon landed nearby and prompting Agamemnon to skip over. Beside him, High King Thundarul settled as well.

    “What…happened?”

    “You tried to kill us,” Zeriz said, appearing beside Odysseus.

    “Zeriz,” Thundarul’s booming voice called out.

    “No, father, he has to know. I will not allow him to forget how he transformed into a monstrous creature that tried to destroy the very forest and the people that he had sworn to protect long ago,” the SkullScorpiomon said in the language that everyone could understand.

    “I…did what…?” the Karatenmon asked, shock clear in his voice despite his ragged tone.

    “You heard me, Golden Crow,” Zeriz said calmly.

    “Z-Zeriz, please,” Odie tried to say, but he was silenced by the look Zeriz gave him.

    Scimitar closed his eye. “I…I see…”

    “Do you remember?” the scorpion Digimon asked.

    “N-no…I do not,” the Karatenmon admitted as a lone tear appeared at the edge of his eye. “But…for some reason…I know…that I did many…unforgivable things,” he said as he opened both of his eyes.

    “Yes. And according to the rules of the villages, you should be punished,” the skeletal Digimon said, turning to the trio of masters.

    “Hmm…I know! We’ll give him a time out!” Agamemnon decided.

    The phoenix Digimon that towered over him sighed and shook his head. “No, not this time, my old friend,” Menelaus said. “As by ancient law…”

    “He is to be exiled,” Thundarul finished for him. “And he must swear, by his name and by his soul, never to speak of or return to this forest.”

    “What!? N-no!” Odysseus spoke up, looking up at them. “Scimitar l-l-l-loves the forest!”

    “Yet he wanted everyone to leave it,” Zeriz said, remembering what he had been told while he was confined inside the book by Falcion.

    “No,” the Ravemon interrupted. “He wanted to give the people the choice to travel and explore the world,” he explained, walking over. “Isn’t that right, Scimitar?”

    The Karatenmon nodded despite the obvious pain that he was experiencing. “Looks like…I just…made a mess…again…didn’t I?”

    “Yes…but you got your wish,” Falcion told him. He turned to the outsiders – Tiwaz, a reverted Fenrir, Pavamana, Cogwej and Taranis – who stayed away from the crowd of the forest natives, probably out of respect. “Our ancient duty…the ones we’ve been waiting for have arrived to free us of our obligation. Am I wrong, masters?” he asked, turning to the three lords of the forest.

    “Hmm,” Thudarul murred, folding his arms in thought. “I…don’t believe he is wrong, is he?” he asked, turning to the Phoenixmon and the Jijimon beside him.

    “No…no, he is not,” Menelaus answered, nodding. “And we are…far too old to not learn from this incident, no?”

    “I’m not old!” Aggie called out, poking the giant bird with his stick repeatedly.

    Ignoring him, Thundarul nodded. “I am sure that Scimitar is not the only one who wants to see what is beyond the forest outskirts,” he added.

    Odie smiled at Scimitar. “Did you hear th-th-th-that, Master Scimitar?” he asked. “We…we can finally go out of the f-f-forest.”

    Scimitar returned the smile weakly. “That…sounds…wonderful,” he replied, closing his eyes. And as he did so, particles suddenly started to come from his body.

    “W-w-w-what?” Odie muttered, blinking. “What’s going on?”

    Falcion frowned and rushed over. “No…no!”

    Menelaus grimaced and walked over. “It…seems as if it is Scimitar’s time,” he said as calmly as he could.

    “But w-w-w-we saved him!” Odie said in desperation despite the green particles that began to float all around him. He didn’t notice that the Karatenmon wasn’t only disintegrating but also glowing. “Wake up, Master Scimitar! You c-c-c-c-c-c-can’t die yet! We still have to s-s-s-see the rest of the world!”

    “Hmm…how peculiar,” Cogwej said, being held by Pav so that he wouldn’t go and start testing on Scimitar.

    “What is?” Pavamana, the closest one, asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “When a Digimon dies, the particles that he disperses into are usually the color of white or yellow, or in special cases, black. But I’ve never heard of Digimon that disperse into green particles,” the Wisemon noted, scribbling down on the notes. “Why, if I’m not wrong, they’re very similar to the green light that had once enveloped the recipient during his rather slow ascension into Ornismon,” he noted.

    Fenrir narrowed his eyes. “His legs…”

    “Huh…a leg guy, huh? I always suspected that you batted for the other team,” Tiwaz said with a grin.

    “No, you idiot!” Fenrir growled. “His legs are growing again!” he said, running over to them.

    “What!? Don’t tell me he’s turning back into the giant bird!” Tiwaz said as he followed.

    “Falcion! Get Odysseus away from him!” Fenrir called out.

    “W-w-what?” Odie muttered, turning to the voice. Falcion, however, decided to follow the command, knowing that Fenrir would not have told him to do so unless something was happening. The Ravemon immediately grabbed the Shurimon and pulled him away, everyone else following suit. Forced away, Odysseus could only let go of the glowing bird Digimon.

    A few moments later, the green glow intensified and once more, the Karatenmon transformed. All of them expected for the ancient bird Digimon to return, unsheathing and brandishing their weapons and readying their attakcs. He was becoming taller and thicker. His legs began to fuse together and dig into the ground as his body and arms lengthened. It was few moments later that a number of them realized that Scimitar was turning into.

    “He’s…becoming a tree,” Taranis muttered, one of the few that recognized the form first.

    “N-n-no…Scimitar…” Odysseus, still held by his master, whispered, staring at the great tree that the Golden Crow had become as a tear fell from his eye.

    “H-how?” Pavamana asked in shock.

    Cogwej, still being held by the PileVolcamon, looked up. “Perhaps it was a backlash of the excess power? The relic most likely acted both as a supplier and regulator of the massive amounts of energy that was being sent throughout Skillimi’s body,” he noted. “Without it, his body would either have to release all that energy or transform into one that could contain it.”

    “So…a tree?” Taranis muttered, walking over.

    “Well, it would be fitting, considering that the energy comes from the Spirit of Wood,” Cogwej said as more and more people found the courage to walk close to the tree.

    Falcion and Odysseus were two of them. The latter placed a hand against the tree’s bark. His face was a mixture of anguish and helplessness. “Why…why d-d-d-d-did this have to happen?” he asked forlornly.

    “Dammit,” Tiwaz muttered a few feet away. “I…I thought we…”

    Beside him, Fenrir looked on with a frown. This was not the same situation as before when they acquitted the Spirit of Earth. This time, the victim was not someone who deserved his fate. “We should go,” he told the EmperorGreymon. “The sooner we collect the rest of the relics, the sooner we can stop situations such as this from happening again.”

    “Yeah…we shou-“

    “Oh no, you’re not!”

    The two looked behind them to see that Agamemnon was behind them and standing on his paw stick. When he got there, neither of them knew. But they did realize that their swords were in his hands,

    “How did you!?” Tiwaz yelled, reaching to grab his weapon back from the Jijimon. He didn’t even get close.

    The Jijimon jumped away, kicking his paw stick in a way that caused it to flip along beside him. Fenrir didn’t know what surprised him more, that the Jijimon was able to steal his weapon from under his nose a second time, or that he was able to carry both his Beo Saber and Tiwaz’s undoubtedly heavy Dragon Soul Sword in his hands as easily as if he were carrying a pair of twigs.

    “If either of you want your swordies back, you’re going to stay for at least one more night! We need to hold a ceremony for poor Simi, as well as celebrate the reunion of villages and the fulfillment of the prophecy!” Aggie said enthusiastically.

    Tiwaz’s eye twitched.

    -​

    At the outskirts of the forest, as the people of the forest recovered and prepared for the upcoming ceremonies that were yet to come, a tall figure observed. The figure was standing on the branch of a tree, hidden in the shadows, accompanied by another.

    The other Digimon was smaller and white, made much more visible under the light of the setting sun. He was either made completely out of a tattered white cloth or covered in it. He had large, black eyes and a mouth full of sharp, white teeth. He was a spitting image of a Bakemon.

    “And then tell everyone I will be back soon,” the figure told the Bakemon with a definitely female voice.

    The Bakemon nodded once before floating off quickly.

    “Ugh,” the figure said, folding her arms and leaning against the tree trunk. Giselhir’s never going to let me live this down. I can’t believe that idiot birdman actually broke my illusions. I was so close to getting the stupid relic, too.”

    The figure then jumped down, putting her hands on her hips. “Oh well. I’ll keep watch a little longer. I’ll see if I can find out where that crazy old man is going now,” she said as she walked back into the forest, casting her spells around herself to hide her presence once more.

    -​

    Taranis sighed. All around him, Digimon were either celebrating or mourning. He could understand the feelings of both, but he didn’t really feel like joining in with any of them…especially since he’s already botched up his latest job after being held inside the forest for the last twenty four hours.

    “Hey, Taranis!” a voice called from his side. The MegaKabuterimon turned his head and saw Tiwaz running over to him. “What are you doing all the way here? The party’s over in the big house, remember?” the dragonman said with a large grin, patting the insect Digimon on one of his shoulders.

    “I, uh, don’t really feel like partying,” Taranis tried to say, rubbing the back of his neck.

    “Don’t be like that! At times like these, everyone needs to party!” Tiwaz said, laughing.

    “Uh…not that Fenrir guy.”

    “He’s different. He’s like the anti-fun; anything that’s supposed to be fun isn’t for him,” Tiwaz said with a large grin.

    Taranis laughed in reply. “I could tell,” he said after a moment. And then he fell silent, looking a bit down. It was something that even Tiwaz could tell.

    “What’s wrong?” the dragonman asked, walking so that he faced the big blue beetle directly.

    “Uh, nothing’s wrong,” the insect Digimon said, trying to sound cheery.

    “Sorry, but I’m not convinced.” Tiwaz folded his arms in emphasis.

    Taranis sighed and wringed his fingers together. “Okay, you got me. It’s just that I probably failed my last commission on the map I was supposed to bring today,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “I never got the time to look around the forest, and I pretty much lost all of my mapping and graphing materials when we got caught.”

    “Oh, uh, sorry about that,” the EmperorGreymon told him. He had been hoping he could help the insect Digimon somehow.

    “Nah, it’s not your fault,” Taranis replied sheepishly. “I’ll just have to find another way to get paid and make maps of the world, right?”

    Tiwaz had to blink at the latter. “Maps of the world?”

    “Uh…yeah,” Taranis replied, realizing what he said. If he had been anything but an insect, Tiwaz would have seen the blush on his face. “I’ve been trying to make maps so that I could make a complete one of the whole world,” he admitted.

    “That sounds, uh, pretty cool,” the dragonman replied with a grin.

    “Well, it’s not that big of a deal, really. Every cartographer wants to do it, but it’s a pretty big job. Plus, to be able to make and sell a map of the world could probably set me for life,” Taranis told him. “I can’t do that without the proper materials and the money to support myself, though,” he said, sighing.

    “Huh, I guess it isn’t easy being a mapmaker,” Tiwaz noted, closing his eyes. And then he opened them. “I know!” he said with a large grin.

    “Uh…know what?”

    “You can come with us instead!” Tiwaz told him. “You’ve probably been to a lot of places by now, right? And you’ve got that cool memory thing, too. You’ll probably loads of help during our journey!” he informed the MegaKabuterimon.

    “Er, go with you?” Taranis repeated. “I don’t know. I’m not that much of a fighter, and from the sounds of it, you guys do a lot of that.”

    Not to mention that almost getting killed by one giant bird monster is already one too many in my lifetime,’ Taranis thought in his head.

    “Come on, me and Pav’ll help you!” Tiwaz urged, putting an arm over the insect’s shoulders. “Yeah, we do a little mercenary work so that we won’t starve, but with me around, you won’t have to lift a single finger, and you’ll be able to travel the world with us! You get fed, you help us with your maps and memory, and you get to make that world map of yours! Everyone’s happy!” Tiwaz told him with a grin.

    “Well, that does sound pretty nice,” Taranis admitted with his own toothy grin.

    “It’s settled then!” Tiwaz said with a whoop. “Now let’s get to the party!” he added, pulling the insect Digimon towards the sounds of festivities.

    “Uh, wait, I didn’t agree to go the party!”

    -​

    The morning found the crazy old man in the ninjas’ Masters Area. The group that occupied the room was not that many. Cogwej was sitting on the ground, his face buried in a book. Over his shoulder, Tiwaz was trying to decipher the letters that he was unfamiliar with. A few feet away, Fenrir and Pavamana spoke with Taranis, who had asked of how they had come into the forest and sympathizing about having to deal with both Tiwaz and Cogwej at the same time.

    A few paces away were the solemn ninjas. Falcion stood silently in front of his two charges. Odysseus was quieter than ever, looking down and still feeling the sting of having lost one of his friends. Ulysses was trying his best to cheer his best friend up. Aggie was doing so as well, with just as much success. At the very least, they got the Shurimon to smile weakly.

    And then the Jijimon stopped. He grinned widely. “Manny’s hooooome!” the High Master said in a sing song voice. Everyone looked up at his words.

    As he said, the Phoenixmon came swooping into the room, followed by the High King Thundarul himself. On their backs, they could see more Digimon.

    “Hey, I see Yz’ra!” Uly said, nudging Odie. “Say hi, Odie!”

    The Shurimon smiled a bit at his friend’s attempt to raise his spirits, and he raised a hand to wave at the Stingmon on her father’s back.

    When the two large Digimon landed, Thundarul’s children quickly got off and Agamemnon hopped over to take their place on Menelaus’ back. Yz’ra walked over to Odysseus and Ulysses, her torso covered in bandages. Zeriz followed her soon after, nodding at the two ninja genins, while their other two siblings simply stayed by their father.

    “Good morn’, my friends,” Menelaus started off, nodding to those that did not live in the forest. “I hope you had a restful night,” the Phoenixmon said.

    “Not really,” Tiwaz replied with a large grin. “The party pretty much kept me up all night.”

    “You should have just retired early,” Fenrir told him, folding his arms.

    “Like you, mister party pooper?” Tiwaz replied, doing the same action and rolling his eyes. “I bet Pav agrees with me! I saw you with that really nice Parrotmon girl,” the EmperorGreymon said to the PileVolcemon with a wide grin.

    “Um,” Pavamana said with a small blush. “We…should see what the masters want with us,” he said, turning to the High Master, Sky Master and High King.

    “Now that we’ve all gathered,” Menelaus started off, turning to Tiwaz and company with a smile on his beak. “It is time to realize the last part of our prophecy,” he said.

    “There’s more!?” Cogwej piped up enthusiastically, looking like he was about to jump out of his skin in joy.

    “Quite,” Thundarul answered as he nodded. “It was said in the prophecy that before you will leave us, one of our people will join you in your journey.”

    “Join us?” Pavaman repeated, blinking. “Who?”

    “That is a question we ourselves have been asking,” Menelaus told them. “In the end, we have decided that perhaps we shall leave the choice to you.”

    “And what if we decide not to pick anyone?” Fenrir asked, although there was no malice in his voice. He simply didn’t want to involve any more people than necessary.

    “Don’t be a spoilsport, Fenny,” Tiwaz interceded with a grin. “The more the merrier!”

    “And we could use all the help we can acquire,” Pavamana added. “We would not have been able to retrieve the Spirit of Wood were it not for everyone’s help.” Fenrir couldn’t argue with that.

    “Very well. Who are we to choose from?” the Beowolfmon asked, folding his arms. He was wondering if they could attain support from one of the Masters. They’re help would undoubtedly make their adventure many times easier.

    ““As lords of this forest, we are unfortunately unable to help you any more than we can. Our duties are to this forest and its people,” Thundarul said, answering Fenrir’s unspoken question. He stepped forward and urged his children to come to his side. “However, my offspring are willing to join your cause,” he said.

    Yz’ra and Zeriz nodded at them with smiles on their faces, something that Tiwaz readily returned. He liked them a lot more than the Arukenimon, Lucara, and the Kongoumon, Karas. As a matter of fact, when he turned to them, they looked like they were trying not to be noticeable so as not to be chosen. Not like he was going to suggest anyway.

    “Hey, Thun-thun!” Agamemnon called out as he jumped over to the HerculesKabuterimon’s side and started poking his leg rapidly with his stick. “You forgot to say Fallie’s name too!” The Jijimon’s actions prompted Karas to try and make him stop, although a look from his father made him rethink his actions.

    “Of course…Silver Crow, Falcion, please step forward as well,” the High King requested.

    “Odysseus Hayashi and Ulysses Sengoku, please join your master as well,” Menelaus called out.

    The Peckmon blinked and turned to his friend. “Us too?” he whispered.

    “I…s-suppose so,” Odie whispered back, hesitantly walking to stand beside his master with Ulysses. It was an unusual feeling to be, in a manner of speaking, put on the same pedestal as his master. It would be the first time that he would be compared to him on the same ground. For some reason, it lightened his heart a bit.

    “Well, we’ve got a line up here, don’t we?” Tiwaz said, grinning as he looked them all over. “How about Zeriz? He was a lot of help back in the temple.” Zeriz nodded at him.

    “Falcion,” Fenrir then said, turning to the Ravemon, causing the Silver Crow to raise an eyebrow. “He’s a capable fighter, and hardy enough for long trips,” he said.

    When Falcion caught Fenrir’s eye, he also understood the unsaid part: He wanted a rematch.

    “That makes sense, I guess,” Tiwaz noted, remembering how the ninja helped them bring the Ornismon down on the ground.

    “I agree, actually,” Pavamana said with a smile.

    “I am honored,” Falcion said, bowing. “But I have to decline.”

    “Falcion?” Menelaus asked from behind with a curious gaze. The same expression was painted on the other Digimon’s faces, wondering what was going on in the Ravemon’s head.

    “I…want to stay here. There is still much for me left to do. I have people relying on me now that Scimitar is…unable to attend to his duties,” he said not without a tone of mourning. “I cannot let them down when they need someone to look up to, not to say that the presences of my masters are unneeded, of course. I simply wish to continue my duties here, where I feel I am most needed,” he explained.

    “I see,” Menelaus said, sighing.

    “You should have told us sooner, Fallie!” Agamemnon said, folding his arms and tapping his foot repeatedly. “Now our friends are disappointed.”

    “No, it’s fine,” Fenrir replied, although he was a bit disappointed. It looked like their rematch would have to wait. “Although that begs the question of whom to accompany us now.”

    “Actually, I have a request,” Falcion then said. “Please allow Odysseus to join you in my place.”

    “Odie!?” Uly asked in shock, turning to his older brother. The Shurimon looked back at his master as well, his eyes wide.

    Fenrir raised an eyebrow at him. Tiwaz blinked, and Pavamana frowned. “He’s only a little more than a child,” the latter said, looking at the Shurimon.

    “But he’s capable,” Falcion replied without pause. “What he lacks in experience, he makes up with ingenuity and intelligence. He is curious and attentive, as well as talented enough to garner the attention to become one of my apprentices.”

    Odie blushed at the great praise that he was getting from his master. He could only look down on the ground, unable to meet anyone’s eye due to his discomfort.

    “And…out of everyone, I am sure that he is the one that wants to see what the world can offer him. I do not want his gifts to go to waste by staying here, learning only from me. I want him to explore the lands and learn from people such as you as well as those he will meet along the way. That is my greatest wish as his mentor…and I am sure that Scimitar would have felt the same way,” the Ravemon said, turning to the Shurimon.

    “Hm…he did make the plan that got us the artifact,” Tiwaz noted as he grinned at the young ninja.

    “Well,” Pavamana started, turning to the Shurimon. He wasn’t sure at all if he was okay with allowing him to join them. He didn’t want Odie to carry the burden of a journey as difficult as theirs.

    “Please let me g-g-g-go,” Odie finally said, the first words he said loud enough for others to hear clearly. “I…I want to go. I…want to make M-m-m-m-master Falcion proud. And…I want to live out Master Scimitar’s dream,” he told them. He didn’t know where those words came from, but he didn’t have to think twice about the truth in them.

    “Odie,” Uly muttered, turning to his friend.

    “Well, guys?” Tiwaz asked, turning to his companions. “I say we let him come with us if he’s that determined.”

    Pavamana looked at the Shurimon closely. “If…he really wants to.”

    Fenrir simply nodded. He was satisfied, and he knew that the ninja’s ability to quickly make sound and clever plans would come in handy.

    “Rightie ho!” Cogwej said enthusiastically, the first words he had spoken since they were told to pick a new member for their group. “I pick him!” he said, pointing to Thundarul. And was thusly ignored.

    “Okay then!” Tiwaz said, turning to the Shurimon. “Welcome to the team, Odie!”

    Odysseus returned it with a smile.
     
  18. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Whoohoo! A new chapter, err, act, finally! Loooong one too. xD

    And I have to say, this was my favourite act so far. Even while betaing I was really invested in the story and the characters, particularly Odie. The stuff about him and Scimitar was quite emotional, especially at the end. xD

    The description was pretty good, as per, and your characterization of Taranis and Odie continued to be consistant with mine, so that's good. Huh, for some reason, the relationship that Odie has are my favourite. I really liked his interactions between him and Uly, him and Scimitar, him and Falcion, and him and Yz'ra (who, yes, I still sort of ship a little).

    I've mentioned the good dramatic moments, and there were plenty of funny moments in the chapter too. Of course Tiwaz thought Fen was batting for the other team. xD

    Hmm... Right. I really liked the whole storyline of this arc, particularly in this act.

    Really enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to the next one. Hopefully I'll be able to fit more Taranisisms in the next chapter. Which should come quicker now that you're on vacation. And don't think I won't remind you. =P

    Good way to spend my whole morning. xD
     
  19. It's good to know that you like your characters even if I made the history myself. ^.^ And I hope that will continue with the rest of the characters that I'm going to be introducing. I just hope I'm not piling too many supporting characters on everyone.

    I know you will in the next chapter. =P Also, I'll bring out the next chapter within the week. To anyone that still reads this anyway.
     
  20. ~Side Chapter~

    Mapping Out The Journey

    Also known as

    “What is this offending ball of wool!?"


    To my dear friend, Uly,

    I know it’s only been a little over a week since we’ve last seen each other, but I really miss you and everyone else back home. I know it’s strange to send you a letter only after this time, but I remember you telling me to tell you all about the new things I would find and experience along in my adventure. You were right, it seems, when you told me that I’d have an interesting trip. Cogwej – that is, the Wisemon that was captured by the insects – has already caused us to get followed by a group of raiders. I don’t know all the details, but it apparently involved a few pieces of fruits that got stolen from them.

    Fortunately for us, we arrived into town a little after, so we are in no threat of being attacked by them, or at least, that’s what Pavamana told me.

    I guess I should tell you more about my new friends, starting with the written one. Pavamana’s really friendly and nice to me now that I’ve gotten to know him. He’s like a kind older brother. He always asks me if I’m having trouble or if I want us to go slower or to rest. The pace we progress is a bit tiresome, but I don’t want to be a burden, so I usually tell him that I’m fine. Besides, I won’t go anywhere if I don’t push myself like you always tell me to. I think that Pavamana used to live with a lot of children; I know he sees me as one, so he’s always asking for my opinion and takes me into consideration whenever Tiwaz and Fenrir ask us what we’re going to do next.

    Speaking of them, well, it seems that the Fenrir we first met is already a good impression of how he really is. He’s always serious and contemplates about his every move. He’s not unkind, but he’s a bit aloof, perhaps? After a week with him, I do know that he is a good person at heart. He’s even offered to help me better myself combat-wise, and I have accepted it. I have no doubt that by the next time I see you, my fighting skills will have been refined and improved in ways that it would never have had I stayed in the village. I mean no disrespect to Master Falcion, of course.

    And then there is Tiwaz. He is Fenrir’s complete opposite in every way. He’s like you, actually. Where Fenrir would want us to stop and think, he wants to act right away with the best, most obvious way. He’s never afraid to speak his mind, which usually gets him in an argument with Fenrir. Pavamana tells me that they usually have at least one a day, and to this day, it doesn’t seem like an exaggeration. I don’t know if I could handle having a verbal bout with someone I travel with every single day, but they seem to be doing just fine. I realize, however, that his fiery personality is attributed to a fiery heart. He’s always cheerful and ready to smile, and it is hard not to be infected by his optimistic mood. I think that’s why Fenrir tolerates having to fight with him; I think this journey would not be as easy if Tiwaz were not around to help everyone look in the brighter side.

    Cogwej is next. His name means Crazy Old Geezer Who Endlessly Jabbers, apparently. And yes, I am blushing while I write it down (I will make sure not to call him any of such things while I am in his presence). He’s quite elderly, which is probably the reason why he has forgotten his own name. He reminds me very much of High Master Agamemnon, and I am positive that they would enjoy each other’s company very much. For his age, he is very active, and he is very intelligent and has a large well of curiosity. And though he always seems to get my name wrong, he is always willing to give an answer to my questions. I still have a lot to learn about the outside world, and I hope that I can learn much from him.

    The last one from our group is Taranis, and it seems that he’s also new to the party. They also met him in the forest, and like Tiwaz, he always seems to have a happy disposition. He also likes to make jokes and what he calls “puns”. Also, he has what Cogwej calls eclectic or eidetic memory, meaning he can remember the exact details of everything he has experienced in the past. He’s told me a lot of stories from his past in extreme detail, and he was even able to describe to me the exact features of High King Thundarul in abundant detail, so I think it might be true. It’s also useful ability in his profession as a mapmaker. Isn’t that amazing? He has a few in his possession, and I have seen some of them.

    Our world is enormous, Ulysses. I have so much to learn about it, and I have the whole journey ahead of me to try and absorb as much as I can. I want to see everything and experience what the world can offer me. Please, when you get this, give my utmost and greatest thanks to Master Falcion for giving me the chance to go on this journey.

    In fact, there is something I’ve already learned something even more amazing! Do you remember the lanterns and candles that we use for lighting during the night? There are very few here; what they do use is electricity! They have lamps and light bulbs that act like fire that don’t actually burn. They are all powered by electric currents created by running water. It’s a complicated process that I hope to learn much more about. They also have machines and tools that are as complex as they are fascinating. I cannot wait to learn much more about them!

    I miss you all, my friend. I hope you are doing well.

    Your sincere friend,
    Odysseus Hayashi​


    -​

    Odysseus the Shurimon smiled as he signed the letter. He reread it once before folding it up neatly and placing it inside the letter that Fenrir gave him. “These are much more convenient than using scrolls,” Odie said to himself as he stood up. “Now…to find this ‘messenger service’ that Pavamana told me about… I really hope that I can find it,” he said to himself.

    He let out a small sigh, looking at the quaint bedroom that he, Pavamana and Fenrir used. The walls were wooden and unpainted, and the room only had two separate windows on one wall. Under each window was a single bed that Fenrir and Odysseus himself slept in. On another wall was a large blue couch that Pavamana slept on. There was green carpeting, along with the desk and chair that he used while writing down his letter. But the most interesting thing to him was the lamp on it.

    “Electricity,” the Shurimon muttered to himself as he walked out of the room. “A new concept to me, but the possibilities are almost infinite,” he mused.

    He walked out into a hallway that had many doors. He looked across from him to see the door that led to the room that Tiwaz, Cogwej and Taranis shared. He knew that none of the three were inside, but it was reassuring to know where they were if something problematic were to arise. He turned to go down the hallway and down the stairs, following the sounds of people talking and cheering.

    As soon as he reached the bottom, he turned to look at the bar area of the inn. It was too early for them to start serving beer and other alcoholic beverages, but it doubled as a small restaurant during the mornings. And true to his intuition, he found Pavamana there, talking with the large, yellow and plush-bear shaped innkeeper. Pavamana had told him that he was a Monzaemon. The ursine Digimon was also the inn’s cook and barkeeper, so Odie assumed that he was the one that cooked the food that was once on the plates that were in front of Pavamana.

    The Shurimon walked over, listening to the conversation between the two of them.

    “So it’s possible to make a watermill with the use of a nearby river?” the PileVolcamon asked, sitting across from the other Digimon.

    “I think so. As long as the river has the strength to move the mill, then I don’t see the problem,” the innkeeper replied. “Just remember, the machinery isn’t going to be easy to make. All the components have to be in just the right proportions and shapes.”

    “You don’t need to worry about the metalworks,” Pav replied with a small grin. “Bakhu is a mining town. Even the children know enough metal crafting to make the simpler parts.”

    The Monzaemon replied by nodding with approval. “You’ll also need to make the machine to make the wires and the cords,” he told the PileVolcamon. “Not to mention the posts to bring the wires to the town, since you told me that the river is some distance away.

    “That won’t be a problem,” Pav replied. “My people are resilient and hardworking; if it’s a way to help the town, then we’re going to do as much as we can.”

    “That’s what I want to hear!” the Monzaeon replied with a large grin. “Since you’re near a lot of metals, then it won’t be hard to make the machinery. The wires, however, need a coating that’s durable enough to handle pressure, but flexible and elastic enough to tie them easily. And that’s only the beginning!”

    “Hm…we will think of something,” the former blacksmith replied, folding his arms in thought.

    “I c-c-c-can help,” Odysseus interrupted, walking over, his letter in hand.

    “Odysseus.” Pavamana turned, already having familiarized himself with the Shurimon’s voice. “Good morning,” he said with a gentle smile.

    “As to you as well, mister Suchi and mister Uren,” the young teenager greeted, rubbing the back of his neck.

    “Just Pav, remember?” the former replied, chuckling a bit as the ninja sat down beside him.

    “P-p-p-perhaps when you will call me Odie?”

    His reply caused the bear Digimon to guffaw in cheer. “Only known each other for a week? It seems like you’ve only known each other for a day!” he said, folding his arms. “I am interested, however, about this idea you have, young boy.”

    Odie smiled, the Monzaemon’s joy infecting him. “Well…if it’s a covering, maybe tree resin? It’s r-r-resilient and compliant once it’s hardened,” he replied. “We, um, use it on s-s-s-s-some of our tools and houses. Maybe you can use it for the wires?”

    “But…we don’t have a lot of trees,” Pavamana replied.

    “O-oh,” the young boy said, rubbing the back of his neck in mild embarrassment.

    “That would not be a problem,” the innkeeper Uren then interjected with a grin. “We have a lot of trees here; if this young boy can teach us how to get this tree resin before you leave, then we can just transport it to your town! After all, if you’re going to begin sending us more metals, you might as well take some in return!”

    “Isn’t mister Suchi’s home f-f-f-far?” Odie asked with a slight tilt of his head. He remembered Pavamana pointing it out to him when he was looking at one of Taranis’ maps.

    “We took an indirect route here due to Cogwej’s and Tiwaz’s detours,” Pav informed the ninja. “If we had gone directly here, it would have taken only a month.”

    “I see. That is still quite a distance,” the Shurimon noted.

    “But it is quite an investment,” the Monzaemon told him. “With this possible collaboration, we can create more machines. We are, after all, a town with a lot of craftsmen, and we can never have too much metal to work with!” he said with a large grin.

    “I really hope that w-w-w-we can stay here a little longer,” Odysseus said with a smile. “I…think that I can l-l-l-l-learn a lot here.”

    “You and I both, Odysseus,” Pavamana said, standing up and nodding at the ninja. “Now, let’s deliver that letter.”

    The Shurimon smiled at him and nodded back. He stood up and bowed at the innkeeper. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

    “Think nothing of it, young’un! A friend of Taranis is a friend of mine,” Uren said, standing up and gathering the plates on the table.

    Odie smiled and nodded as he and Pavamana exited the building. As they did so, the Shurimon took the chance to look around. They were within the inner circle of the city, which was composed mostly of residential houses, inns, and various eating places. Apparently, the house of the town leader was also located within the circle. He and his PileVolcamon friend would have to travel towards the outer circle in order to find the post service that he had been told about.

    “Come, Odysseus,” Pavamana said as he started walking down a brick road. Odie followed, looking at all the light lamps that ran along the road, all of them connected by a long black wire that he was told had an electric current running through it at nights so that the lamps would light up.

    “Pavamana?” Odyssues suddenly asked, turning to the PileVolcamon.

    “Yes, Odysseus?” Pavamana asked with a small smile. He enjoyed the young Shurimon’s company. He was often shy and silent, but not the aloof kind that Fenrir had to a tee. He also wasn’t loud and rambunctious, both of which Tiwaz and Cogwej had in pounds.

    “No, it’s just...d-d-d-do you really think it was fine for u-u-us to come here with the bandits following us?” he asked.

    The PileVolcamon raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you worried?”

    “W-w-w-well…yes,” the young ninja replied, playing with the letter in his hand. “I don’t w-w-w-want the nice people here to get hurt.”

    “Don’t worry, Odysseus,” Pavamana replied with a reassuring smile. “We camped outside for two nights without a problem. They would have attacked then, right?”

    “I suppose so,” Odie replied. Maybe it was just his nerves at being some place very foreign to him, but he couldn’t shake his uneasy feeling. “Is the letter office far from the inn?”

    The shook his head. “Just a thirty minute walk. We’ll have to go to the outer city,” he said as he looked at the path before them, making sure to take note of the signs on the corners that led to different places. “However, this is the biggest town I’ve ever been in. It would be easy to get lost. Luckily, we have Uren’s guidance.”

    “So n-n-not all outside towns are like this,” Odie asked, a tone of relief in his voice. “Thank goodness. I w-w-w-would get lost if they were all this b-b-big,” he admitted to Pavamana, putting a hand on his chest. His admission, however, caused his much larger and bulkier companion to look at him curiously.

    “You could always climb to the top of a building and see where you are,” the PileVolcamon said with a soft smile. Odysseus blinked and blushed a bit, realizing that Pavamana was right.

    “W-w-w-well,” Odie started, rubbing the back of his neck. “I suppose if th-th-they weren’t too tall,” he finished with a mutter.

    “Too tall?” Pavamana repeated, thinking back to the tall walls that led up to the village.

    “Well, yes,” the Shurimon replied. “If every building w-w-w-were of a really tall height, then I doubt I would be able to s-s-s-see the whole city.”

    The PileVolcamon blinked and nodded. He hadn’t thought of it that way. The young ninja seems to have a mind that’s capable of thinking far beyond the initial idea. He then smiled, realizing that the ninja really had a lot of latent potential that was waiting to be summoned. Maybe that was why Falcion had requested for his young apprentice to be brought along instead. “You have a bright mind, Odie,” he said without noticing.

    The younger Digimon turned to him, wide-eyed and blushing. “I-I-I do?” he asked in surprise.

    Pavamana nodded in reply. “I’m beginning to see how you were able to create the plan that helped us before in the forest,” he told him.

    Odie couldn’t help but rub the back of his head, embarrassed by Pav’s words. “I d-d-d-d-d-didn’t do much,” he tried to say. “I m-m-m-m-mean, I just made the p-p-p-plan. I didn’t e-e-e-e-execute it myself,” he stuttered, looking down at the ground shyly.

    “But we wouldn’t have brought down Scimitar if you hadn’t,” the other Digimon replied.

    The Shurimon winced at the sound of his late friend’s name. Could he even call the way Scimitar went ‘dying’? Even though the form that the former Karatenmon had taken was still alive in a sense, it felt had felt like it.

    “I’m sorry,” Pavamana suddenly said, sounding sheepish. “I shouldn’t have mentioned his name.”

    Odie closed his eyes for a moment before turning back to him with a gentle smile. “No, it’s okay,” he said softly. “What Mr. Cogwej told me g-g-g-gives me a bit of hope.”

    The PileVolcamon blinked. He hadn’t known that the old Digimon had spoken with the ninja. Also, it was a very peculiar thing to hear Cogwej being called mister. “What did he tell you?”

    The Shurimon turned away, looking at the sky as if remembering something precious. “He told me that there is a ch-ch-ch-chance that Scimitar could be reverted back t-t-to his old form if the power of the artifacts could be h-h-h-h-harnessed,” he informed his companion. “I mean, it’s what he aims t-t-t-t-to do, isn’t it? I know they’re very strong, so m-m-maybe I…I will be able to s-s-s-s-say hi to him again.”

    Pavamana listened to his friend intently, hearing the hope and relief in his voice. It was refreshing, actually, to see him looking very happy about something.

    “And I am sure that he would return it gladly,” Pavamana replied, putting a large hand on top of Odie’s head.

    “If he would still r-r-r-remember me. I might be as old as C-C-Cog by then,” Odie stuttered, blushing at being treated like a child…even though he technically was still one by normal standards at the age of seventeen.

    Pavamana couldn’t help but chuckle. So his young friend was capable of more lighthearted conversations and jokes. Taranis would be very happy.

    “I highly doubt that we would be able to live as long as he has; sometimes it feels like he’s from another era,” Pavamana had to say. “But I don’t doubt in his ability. If anyone can find a way to master the relics, it would be Cogwej.”

    Odysseus smiled at Pavamana, silently thanking him for the encouragement. “We should hurry, yes?” he suddenly asked, turning back to their path. “Fenrir said that we might l-l-l-l-leave tomorrow morning, and I have more questions f-f-for mister Uren.” With an understanding smile, Pavamana nodded and allowed himself to quicken his pace slightly, Odie quickly getting into step beside him.

    And so they continued on their way, unaware of the shadow with sharp and glaring blue eyes, staring at them like a predator stalking its prey.

    -​

    “Oooooh, and I want that, and maybe a few pieces of that, oh, and a pound – no, two pounds of that, and maybe-“

    Fenrir’s eye twitched as he listened to Cogwej’s insistent demands, pointing and grabbing pieces from the various carts and stalls that were situated in the city’s marketplace and putting them in a rucksack in his hand. He constantly had to apologize and pay the irritated and angry vendors for the Wisemon’s behavior, and to his chagrin, they had already passed the budget for what could be used to pay for that day’s spending. This was why he didn’t want Cogwej following him for that day.

    Of course, he didn’t really have a choice. It was supposed to be Tiwaz’s turn to watch over the insufferable and eccentric Digimon, but the EmperorGreymon had sneaked away early in the morning to accompany Taranis to settle his dealings with the guild that he belonged to. And since Pavamana’s shift had already passed, and Odie still wasn’t quite used to Cogwej’s antics, it had fallen to Fenrir to watch over him.

    Fenrir let out a small mental sigh of relieve when the Wisemon stopped his erratic walking to take out his notebook and quickly jot something out, apparently having a spark of inspiration.

    “Cogwej, for the very last time, do not run off-“

    “Not now, Funbear, I have ingredients to procure!” Cog suddenly said, doing the exact opposite of what wolf warrior told him.

    Fenrir growled, both at Cog’s actions and nickname, and was about to run after him only to be stopped by the sound of a grunt from a vendor, from whose stall Cogwej had apparently taken two pounds of dried meat jerky. Fenrir looked at him, obviously irritated. “What?” he growled.

    The vendor, apparently undeterred by the wolf man’s gruff response, held out his hand expectantly. “That’s thirty six digits for two pounds of meat.”

    For a moment, Fenrir stared at him incredulously before swiftly taking out a pouch that jingled with coins. He grabbed four silver ones and tossed it to the vendor’s desk, the coins rattling as they landed.

    “Keep the change,” Fenrir grunted as he immediately ran for the Wisemon. It was either that, or spend time waiting for change while Cogwej grabbed more things for them to spend on.

    He narrowed his eyes, realizing that he had lost the Wisemon in the crowd. Again. He growled and stopped before taking a deep breath, inhaling the scents around him and searching for the robed Digimon’s scent of musty old books and peaches. It took him a while to identify Cog’s scent among the multitude in the market street, but the moment he found it, he took off following it.

    “Damned geezer. He never listens,” Fenrir grunted as his eyes scanned the busy stalls as he darted down the street. “I told him to stick close!”

    He grew slightly concerned when the scent trail began to lead him to a significantly noisier and thicker crowd which was encircling what seemed to be an uncommon occurrence. ‘What did he do now!?

    “I said unhand me, you cretin of cretins!” Cogwej’s voice shouted above the clamor of the crowd.

    “Hey, don’t call me that. You’re the cretin here,” an unfamiliar voice replied.

    Fenrir narrowed his eyes and pushed his way through the crowd. As soon as he traversed through the crowd, he was met with the sight of Cogwej getting raised by the neck of his hooded cloak by a large, imposing Digimon.

    He was decked in full head-to-toe armor that reminded Fenrir of medieval knights. Greaves, shoulder pads, gauntlets, breastplate, helmet: the Digimon had it all. On the chest of his breastplate was a red figure that vaguely looked like a bird. Even the purple cloth that swayed between his legs displayed a similar but different bird-like symbol. On his back were two things. The first and most obvious was a large shield with yellow rims and a sun-and-cape symbol on it. The second was a similarly large broadsword which could only be identified by the hilt that protruded between the shield and the Digimon’s back. As if that weren’t enough, he also had another sword sheathed on his hip. A generic Knightmon, if Fenrir had ever seen one.

    “Who are you calling a cretin, you moronic nincompoop!?” Cogwej retorted, swinging his limbs wildly, knocking his fists and legs against the Knightmon’s armor.

    “I have a name, you know. It’s Kaleth Sigismund,” the Knightmon said, ignoring the physically weak blows of the Wisemon.

    “Your name is of no concern to me! Now bring me back to the solid earth this instant!” Cogwej yelled in his tantrum.

    “Look, I can’t do that,” the armored Digimon said with a frown behind his helmet. “I mean, you stole…some stuff, and you also tried to, uh…what was it called? Resist errest, I think…well, either way, I still have to bring you back to the guild or I’m not doing my job.”

    Guild?’ Fenrir thought, remembering that Taranis was also from a guild. ‘Are they one and the same?’ he wondered.

    “Guild shmuild! I have more vital matters to attend to rather than concern myself with your occupational duties!” Cog said, folding his arms and turning his head away.

    The Knightmon’s eye sighed and shook his head. Fenrir knew that Cogwej wasn’t going to get out of this unpunished, and he actually had half a mind to let the Wisemon get what was coming to him, but that would delay their journey for far too long, and he knew without a doubt that he wouldn’t learn a single thing from the experience.

    “Excuse me,” Fenrir called out, walking over. He mentally cursed as attention was also drawn to himself. The Knightmon turned to him, his eyes reflecting his relief.

    “Oh, thank goodness!” Kaleth said as he pointed Cogwej towards Fenrir. “You must be one of the new guys in the guild and wanted to help, right? I mean, yeah, I forget a lot, but I think I remember a white guy with a sword.”

    “Er, no,” the Beowolfmon replied, unsure of how to reply to that. “Actually, I’m with him,” Fenrir said, pointing to Cogwej.

    “Ah, Furor! Praise the spirits!” Cog said, trying to reach over to the Beowolfmon, who stepped back to keep out of the Wisemon’s reach.

    “Oh,” the Knightmon said in a deflated manner. “I’m sorry, but I still have to bring him in,” he told Fenrir, sounding like he didn’t want to hurt Fenrir’s feelings, which was a rather different experience for the wolf warrior.

    “Unfortunately, while he’s annoyingly spontaneous and acts without thinking about the welfare of others, I still need him. I have money; I’ll pay for whatever he stole,” Fenrir told him, taking out the pouch of coins again.

    Kaleth visibly brightened at that. “Really? That’s great! Hear that everyone? The nice person is going to pay for all the stolen stuff!” he announced to the crowd, which proceeded to cheer.

    Fenrir’s eye twitched. He was getting a feeling that this was going to be painful for their budget. And after many agonizing minutes of trying to figure out what Cogwej had stolen and the prices he had to pay, he realized that he was right. Thankfully, while he was doing so, Kaleth was keeping Cogwej in place. Quite obviously, the Wisemon didn’t enjoy one bit, and he made sure that Fenrir and Kaleth knew it by complaining incessantly. Of course, they ignored him.

    The Beowolfmon turned back to the Knightmon and Wisemon with a scowl, upset about the loss of digits due to the Wisemon’s antics. “May I have him now?” Fenrir asked the Knightmon, who looked a bit frightened of Fenrir’s expression.

    “Um, w-well,” Kaleth started, rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand. “I actually still need to bring him to the guild to, uh, record some stuff, so, um,” he said, trailing off and slowly lowering his voice at Fenrir’s darkening look.

    “We don’t have time for that,” Fenrir muttered, glaring at the Wisemon.

    “It won’t take long, really,” the Knightmon said quickly. “You just have to find someone from either the, uh, bookman branch of the guild, I think,” Kaleth said uncertainly.

    Fenrir’s fist clenched and unclenched. This was an unlikely predicament that they landed themselves in, but he couldn’t afford to make it any worse. If he tried anything, he might just end up making them take even longer than they need to. And then he remembered: he might already know someone from one of those branches.

    “What if I already have someone in mind?” Fenrir asked. “I don’t know if you know him, but his name is Taranis Valthor. Can he do it for us?”

    The Knightmon blinked at him. “Taranis? You’re friends with Taranis?” Kaleth asked in surprise. Fenrir nodded, sighing in relief. “Why, of course he can!” the Knightmon said with a grin. “If you know him, then I’m sure you guys aren’t bad.”

    The last comment made Fenrir raise an eyebrow. “Why’s that?”

    “Well, we’re best buddies after all,” Kaleth said, finally putting Cogwej down, to the Wisemon’s satisfaction. Before the cloaked Digimon could run off, however, he was grabbed by Fenrir, and he returned to complaining and being ignored. “I know that he wouldn’t be friends with bad or evil people.”

    Fenrir finally gave his first smile of the day at that, though small as it was that Kaleth wouldn’t have been able to see it grace his lips.

    “I guess the rest’ll just be, uh, the formal stuff and logging. It wouldn’t take longer than hour now that we know someone who can help you guys,” the Knightmon said, putting his hands on his hips. “Come on! I’ll show you guys to the guild! It’s not that far, fifteen minutes max,” he told them as he turned away and started walking.

    Fenrir nodded and followed the heavily armored Digimon, a still complaining Cogwej in tow. At the edge of his hearing, he could make out, “Poor fellows. They don’t know what they got themselves into.”

    Should he suddenly be worried?

    -​

    Tiwaz whistled, impressed at the large building in front of him.

    The piece of architecture was made of a mix of stone and steel, made obvious by the contrasting black, gray and silver materials on the outside surface of the building walls. It was many meters wide, at least twice the length of the Ornismon they had fought a bare week ago. It was also three stories tall, maybe even taller; Tiwaz couldn’t really tell since parts of the roof projected further upwards into rectangular towers. The building itself had a lot of differently shaped windows on various spots, which made it difficult for the dragonman to discern how many floors there were and how the floors were spaced. At the center of the building was a large sign that had letters outlined with light bulbs, probably to bring more notice to the words “Traveller’s Guild.” Right below it was a large door that looked like it could fit even the size of a Digimon five times Tiwaz’s height.

    “I know, right?” Taranis said beside him, a bag over his shoulder. He had taken on a form that he used the instant they had entered the town.

    He had dark blue and yellow armor with a brown jumpsuit underneath. He had a blue helmet that was slightly reminiscent to his MegaKabuterimon form due to the large two-pronged horn on the apex of his forehead. He also had huge, spiked shoulder pads and a pair of large, blue gauntlets that looked like they packed quite a punch. Side by side with Tiwaz, he was only barely as tall. The dragon man recognized him as a Beetlemon.

    Apparently, Taranis liked using the form whenever he was in a town or a city since his other form seemed to scare some people and children whenever he came lumbering down. He hadn’t used it in the village of ninjas or insects since he was always on his guard. Back in the town he considered his base, he felt safe enough to use a form that wasn’t as strong as MegeKabuterimon.

    “And you work here?” Tiwaz asked, looking between the insect Digimon and the building.

    “Yep!” Taranis replied cheerily as he started to walk inside. “You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get the guild to let me in.”

    “Really?” Tiwaz asked, more for the policy that they don’t just allow anyone to join rather than Taranis having a hard time joining. He followed the insect Digimon after giving the building one more look. The inside of the building was a lot cleaner than Tiwaz expected. The main lobby was also quite large, which he assumed was because of the occasional large patron.

    “Uh huh, there’s a test and everything,” Taranis said as he turned to the EmperorGreymon. “There are different tests depending on which branch or sub-branch that you’re joining though.”

    “Huh…do you guys have a mercenary branch?” the dragon man asked, thinking about the possibilities of joining the guild once his job with Cogwej and Fenrir was over.

    “Yeah, but it’s called the adventurer branch. I’ve had to work with a few of them before,” Taranis said thoughtfully. As he turned his head, he grinned behind his helmet. “In fact, you can meet two of them now. Hey, Ashe, Rickey!”

    Tiwaz raised an eyebrow and looked where his friend was. He spotted a pair of Digimon that turned their heads towards him.

    One of the two was short and stout with a green-furred head and a white-furred body, which didn’t seem to look like it had a visible neck. He had a rabbit-like face, a single green horn on the top of his forehead and two large, wing-like ears that turned white midway and had three points at the ends. Under his horn was a red diamond marking, and on his cheeks were three-red lines. He had a pair of blue jeans, and around his chest was a belt of bullets, which were probably for the gatling guns that composed the Digimon’s hands. It didn’t take a second for Tiwaz to think, ‘Gargomon’.

    Unlike the first one, the second Digimon was tall and slender, although she had a similar color scheme with light purple instead of green and lacked the markings. She also had three horns instead of the Gargomon’s one. She had a yellow ninja suit that had a pair of characters on the left side of her chest and a belt around her waist. She also had a blue scarf around her neck and a pair of black shoes on her feet. On her hands, she wore a pair of dark red gloves, which she used to hold a pair of claws. A Turuiemon, Tiwaz recognized.

    “Heeeeey, is that big, blue, lug of a bug Taranis I see?” the purple bunny Digimon called out, grinning as she jogged on over.

    “Gah! W-wait, we’re not done talking yet!” the smaller and green rabbit called out, running to follow her.

    “Yeesh, whatever you were going to tell me, I’ve heard already,” the Turuiemon said, waving her hand at him dismissingly.

    “I wouldn’t have to keep telling you if you actually pay more attention,” the Gargomon complained as he caught up with her.

    “Aww, stop paying attention to me and start giving it to the blue man!” The Turuiemon grinned as she turned back to Taranis. “I mean, look at you! You don’t look mangled, dismembered, experimented on or all those other stuff that I thought would happen to you in that weird forest place!”

    If he could, Taranis would have done a face drop. “Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said blandly.

    “Forgive her, Taranis, you know how she can be,” the smaller rabbit said with a resigned tone. “Still, it is good to see you doing well. How did the job go?” he asked with a hopeful smile.

    “Er, well, about that,” Taranis started, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

    “Awww, you messed up again?” the Gargomon said with a sad frown.

    “Again?” Tiwaz repeated, raising an eyebrow and having wrenched himself from staring at the two bunny Digimon and finally stopped himself from thinking about how cute they looked. “What do you mean again?”

    “Oh, Taranis gets himself into all sorts of hijinx!” the Turuiemon said with a mischievous grin. “Bandits, pirates, angry natives, amazons, and I think he got chased by huge herd of noble ladies once,” she enumerated, counting with her fingers.

    “I’m not that bad!” the Beetlemon interjected, folding his arms. “It’s not my fault a lot of people don’t have a good sense of humor!”

    The green rabbit shook his head exasperatedly. “You need to control that tongue of yours, Taranis. Not everyone can appreciate your jokes without getting insulted.”

    “Yeah, Taranis, what the bunny said!” Tiwaz said, folding his arms and turning to the Gargomon. “By the way, I’m Tiwaz, knight-errant and muscle for hire. You must be Rickey, right?” he asked, offering his hand to the much shorter Digimon.

    “Er, no, I’m Ashe, pronounced ‘Ah-shee’, not ‘Ash’,” the Gargomon replied, shaking Tiwaz’s hand anyway.

    “Uh, bit isn’t that a-“

    Don’t say a girl’s name!’ the dragon man immediately thought.

    “-adorable?” Tiwaz said. Then he winced, letting go of the green rabbit’s hand. “Er, I didn’t mean that!” he said, folding his arms and hoping that his helmet was blush-proof.

    “Yes, yes, it is!” the Turuiemon answered for her green counterpart. “It’s short for Ashemon, and I’m Rickshana, but you can call me Rickey!” she introduced herself, patting Tiwaz on the shoulder.

    “Er, right,” Tiwaz replied, his mind once more going back to thinking about how cute the rabbit Digimon were and trying to get himself to stop before he embarrassed himself further. “So are you two…?”

    “Us two are what? Siblings? Partners? Childhood friends? Two people who look extremely close but actually just met a few weeks ago?” Rickey spouted off with a large grin.

    “Please stop playing around, Rickey,” Ashe pleaded, looking like he was beginning to get a headache.

    “Fine, fine,” the Turuiemon said with a roll of her eyes. “We’re actually husband and wife.”

    “I s-“ Tiwaz was about to say, but got interrupted.

    “What!?” Ashe said with a loud voice that Tiwaz didn’t know he had. It looked like his headache had turned into a migraine. “I told you to stop telling people that!” Beside him, Taranis was chuckling.

    “So you’re not married?” the confused EmperorGreymon asked.

    “Nah, they’re actually related in a strange way. They’re pretty much the same age, but Ashe is Rickey’s uncle,” Taranis explained with a large grin. “You know what they say about rabbits. Seems like it’s true even when they’re grandparents,” he said with a wink.

    Tiwaz couldn’t help but chuckle in return. “Seems so,” he said, folding his arms, although he was trying to wrap his mind around the supposed generation gap between the two lepin Digimon before him.

    “Ugh, not you too, Taranis!” the uncle said with a grimace.

    “Oh, lighten up, Ashe,” the niece said, patting the top of his head. “I mean, Uncle Ashe.”

    “See? Now you got her started!” Ashe complained, pushing the taller rabbit’s hand off his head.

    “Sorry,” Taranis apologized with a large grin behind his helmet.

    “I’m touched by your sincerity,” the Gargomon deadpanned, once again causing Rickey and Taranis to chuckle at him, while Tiwaz desperately tried to rein himself from going over and giving the green rabbit a comforting hug.

    “Well, anyway, can you guys give Tiwaz here a tour of the guild house? I’m going to head over and give my logs to Rise, then I’m going to talk with the ole guild master,” Taranis told his friends, his voice distinctly less chipper the moment he said the last two words.

    “You’re going to talk with the Big G?” the Turuiemon suddenly said with surprise. “But it hasn’t even been a month yet!”

    “I know,” the insect Digimon said, sounding pained and frightened at the prospect.

    Tiwaz frowned and folded his arms. “Maybe I should go with you, Taranis,” he said, not liking how Taranis was acting. If this guild master was a bully, then he was going to have a heart to heart with this ‘Big G’.

    “No, please, don’t,” Taranis pleaded with a sheepish look. He could tell by Tiwaz’s voice that he assumed that the guild leader was mean. “He’s really busy, and he’s not really bad, he’s just really, uh, strict,” the insect Digimon told Tiwaz.

    “And loud,” Rickey added.

    “Yeah, that too,” Taranis said with a grimace.

    “Well, then you just need someone louder!” Tiwaz said with a low growl.

    “Just trust me, Tiwaz. I can handle myself,” the Beetlemon said with a small smile, putting a hand on Tiwaz’s armored shoulder. “I need to see him alone, or I’m not worthy of being part of this guild.”

    “Well, if you’re sure,” Tiwaz replied uncertainly.

    “Yeah, I am. Now go with bunnies; they’ll show you around,” Taranis said pushing him towards the two rabbit Digimon. “Hop to it!” he added with a chuckle.

    “Very funny, Taranis,” Ashe said as Tiwaz walked over.

    “No wonder you bug everyone so much, beetle!” Rickey said with a snicker.

    “That’s going to get old, Rickey,” Taranis said, although he was chuckling.

    “Hey, you’re still laughing, aren’t you?” the purple rabbit said with a large Chesire cat grin.

    “We’ll see, Rickey!” Taranis replied as he turned away, giving them a short wave. “I’ll meet you all in the lobby in an hour or two.”

    “Take your time, Taranis. You know how big the guild house is,” Ashe said, giving him a reassuring thumbs-up. Then he turned to Tiwaz. “So what do you want to see first?”

    “Come on, Ashe, you don’t have to ask! Let’s show him the adventurer branch first! We can show him the merchant and craftsman branches after! Scholar branch should be last since it’s not that interesting,” Rickey said, grabbing her uncle by his ear and dragging towards one of the many doors.

    “Guwah! Not the ear! Lemme go, Rickey! Lemme go, lemme go, lemme gooooo!” Ashe demanded, getting pulled sideways as he swung his arms around comically. It was uncharacteristically childish of the Gargomon.

    Meanwhile, Tiwaz stared, hoping to every god that he could think off the top of his head that his willpower could take being around not one but two rabbits at the same time.

    -​

    “Well, you see, logging helps us keep track of who has gone where and what has happened in what place and what time,” Kaleth told Cogwej, answering his question about their archives and the members of the guild making logs. “I mean, it’s a guild rule that every member submits his logs after every job done for the guild. It keeps us updated.”

    “Fascinating!” Cogwej said, palming his hands together. “Just imagine all the information I could gather in such a concentrated place of knowledge!” he said, eager to find the logs. Knowledge was knowledge, and his thirst for it was second to none.

    He had been let go by Fenrir as soon as the Beowolfmon realized that the Wisemon had become engrossed in his conversation with Kaleth about the guild and its different aspects. The part that intrigued the cloaked Digimon was, of course, the archived journals - termed ‘Logs’ by the guild members - that the guild kept.

    “Well, you’d need permission from the bookman leader first. And anything that might be top secret, you’d have to go through the guild master,” Kaleth told the Wisemon, although it looked like Cogwej was no longer listening and was daydreaming about being surrounded by so much informative documents.

    Following behind them, Fenrir glowered at the back of their heads. He had lost his good mood after walking for about thirty minutes, even though the Knightmon had said it would have taken only half that time. By that time, it had already been an hour and a half of endless walking and listening to the two Digimon in front of him chatter with no care in the world.

    “How much farther?” Fenrir asked as calmly as possible.

    “Uh, not much,” Kaleth replied, which had been the same response he gave the Beowolfmon ten minutes ago to the same question.

    “Are you positive?” Fenrir asked, a slight hint of his irritation in his voice.

    “Yeah, I think,” the Knightmon replied, stopping in front of a sign. When Fenrir raised his head to look at it – and it looked like every other sign he had seen so far – the Beowolfmon’s eye twitched. He was definitely sure that he had seen the sign before thirty minutes ago. Does that mean that the Knightmon had only brought them into one big circle?

    “May I ask another question?” Fenrir asked, glancing at the back of Knightmon’s head. “Do you get lost easily?”

    “No, of course not!” Kaleth replied, turning to Fenrir and folding his arms. Fenrir stared at him silently and unerringly. Not even a minute later, the Knightmon’s disposition became subdued under the Beowolfmon’s serious gaze. “Er, maybe once or twice…”

    Fenrir didn’t let his glower weaken.

    “…a day,” Kaleth added, obviously ashamed at his admission. “I know it is shameful-“

    “That’s not shameful at all, my young knightly companion!” Cogwej interrupted. “Why, I get lost much many more times than that!”

    “That’s not something to be proud of, Cog,” Fenrir told the Wisemon, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

    Great!’ he thought frustratedly. ‘We just wasted almost two hours following this directionless pile of armor!

    “Kale, dear? Is that you?” an old but distinctly feminine voice called?

    Fenrir and his other two companions turned their heads to see a short Digimon walking towards them. She had pale skin and gray hair that was tied up into a bun. She had long bangs that covered her eyes, pointed ears with gold hoop earrings, and a mouth that looked like it was stitched together. Like Cogwej, she had a cloak, although hers was green and had a much more colorful design. Around her neck were pink beads that were threaded together with one large pink sphere with a flower-like icon on it. In her hand was a broom that was longer than the Babamon’s height. She was the female counterpart of a Jijimon, a Babamon.

    Wonderful, another old Digimon,’ Fenrir thought with a grimace. So far, his run-ins with any Digimon that seemed aged seemed like it meant more weirdness was coming.

    “Granny Cher!” Kaleth said happily as he turned to her. “Boy, am I glad to- OW!”

    “What did I tell you about calling me ‘Granny’?” the Babamon named Cher told the Knightmon after whacking him with the straw-end of her broom. Fenrir couldn’t help but notice how the stitches on her mouth stretched as she talked; it just looked so…eye-twitchingly morbid.

    “Er, not to?” the Knightmon tried, rubbing his face and pulling straw that got stuck to his helmet.

    “Good boy,” Cher said before turning to Cogwej and Fenrir. Then she walked over and pulled him down by his hand, whispering in his ear. “Now introduce me to that strapping young hunk over there!” she whispered, giggling slightly.

    Fenrir’s eye twitching, having heard her. This day was getting worse already.

    “Who, Fenrir?” Kale whispered back, turning his head to Fenrir, only to get his head jerked back towards her. “Gah!”

    “No, not the grumpy looking one, the mysterious one in the cloak!” the Babamon said, whispering harshly.

    Kaleth blinked. “Cogwej?” he asked, glancing the other way at the Wisemon. Once again, Fenrir twitched his eye. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.

    “Cogwej,” Cher repeated with a swoon, turning to him and giggling girlishly as she waved at him shyly. Unaware of his new admirer, Cogwej waved back with a carefree gaze.

    “Um…yeah, they’re friends with Taranis,” Kaleth then told her, rubbing the back of his neck.

    “Oh? You’re friends with my little Taranis?” the Babamon said interestedly, walking over to them. “That’s good. That boy needs nicer friends, ones that have better sense of direction and aren’t hyper and compulsive brats!”

    “That’s not nice, gra- I mean, mistress Cher,” Kaleth said, twiddling his fingers when the Babamon raised her broom in the air again.

    “I didn’t get into my position for being nice, sonny!” Cher said, putting her hands on her hips and giving a haughty laugh.

    “Position?” Fenrir asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Oh, um, yeah, mistress Cher is the head of the crafts maker branch,” Kale informed them with a small smile.

    “Craftsman branch, Kale. Didn’t your superior teach you properly?” the Babamon said, turning to him with a shake of her head. She turned back to the two of them. “Now, what are you two doing with this big lump of iron?” she asked, looking at them.

    Twiddling his fingers once more, Kaleth answered for them. “I was bringing them to the guild house,” he told her.

    “Oh, you poor dears,” Cher suddenly said, looking at Fenrir and Cogwej pitifully. “How much of your time has he taken?”

    “An hour and a half,” Fenrir answered, a little relieved to find someone capable at least.

    “And he did not waste time!” Cogwej said, folding his arms at her. “Why, I have learned much about his guild from this learned young man in a short span of time!”

    “Oh, of course!” the Babamon said, her tone suddenly changing. “Why, Kaleth here is one of our best guides!” she said, walking over to the Knightmon and patting his arm.

    “I am?” Kale asked, blinking down at her.

    “He is?” Fenrir couldn’t help but ask as well.

    “Well, I’m a far better guide than he is. If you stick with me, Coggie, and I’ll teach you even more about the guild!” she said, sidling closer to him with another girly giggle.

    Fenrir turned to Kaleth and mouthed ‘Coggie’ to him. The Knightmon only shrugged. He had never been close with the Babamon, and this was pretty much a very new thing to him.

    “Why, that would be ideal!” Cogwej said, his response prompted at the prospect of learning more rather than getting the company of the craftsman branch head.

    “Ugh, this is giving me a headache,” Fenrir muttered, lowering his head and pressing his palm against the forehead of his helmet.

    “Maybe someone from the adventurer branch can help you with that,” Kale said with a small smile. “Well, not me, but I know a lot of people who are good with medicines and stuff. With all the fighting we have to do, it’s pretty much normal for us,” he told the Beowolfmon.

    “We have to get to the guild first,” Fenrir replied blandly.

    “Uh, I guess granny can get us there,” the Knightmon said. Before he realized what he had said, he already got a faceful of broom once more. “Gah!”

    “Do we have to go through this again and again?” Cher said with a sigh and shake of her head. “And as much as I would love to, I have to go see what’s going on in the north eastern section of the outer ring. Someone is slacking off; I didn’t get my daily report!” she said, stamping the end of her broom against the ground. “I can’t let them off so easily after that!”

    “Oh…well, I guess I’ll just show them-“

    “Oh no, you don’t!” Cher said, stopping him before he could finish his sentence. “You three are coming with me.”

    “We are?” Fenrir asked with a frown.

    “Of course! If I let this one bring you back to the guild, then I wouldn’t see any of you again for weeks!”

    (next post)
     

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