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A Dragon in Shining Armour [PG-15] (Digimon)

Discussion in 'Non-Pokémon Stories' started by Griff4815, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Nine hours later, UlforceVeedramon strode down one of the castle hallways, looking around intently. The sun had set since set, and torches guided the way through the headquarters. It was about the time that UlforceVeedramon and Magnamon needed to start getting ready to set out.

    “Where is he…?” Ulforce muttered to himself, peering into almost every room and corridor that he passed.

    He speed walked to the end of the passageway before turning around the corner, heading into the staircase that led down to the first floor. “Woah!” he exclaimed, staggering back suddenly.

    Sleipmon instinctively reared back on his four hind legs and trotted backwards before bringing his front legs down. “Sorry, Ulforce. Nearly trampled you there,” he said, smiling sheepishly as he rubbed the nape of his neck.

    “It’s okay,” Ulforce insisted, smiling a little. “Uhh… Have you seen Magnamon? We have to head out soon.”

    “Sorry. I haven’t,” Sleipmon replied. “Do you want help looking for him?”

    “Yeah, sure,” UlforceVeedramon replied.

    Sleipmon turned around on the stairs and began to head back down, UlforceVeedramon following behind him. “I take it you checked his room?” Sleipmon asked, looking over his shoulder.

    “I just came from there,” Ulforce replied, fiddling with the V-Bracelets on his wrists.

    “Oh. Well, he wasn’t in the library. I was just in there,” Sleipmon explained.

    “I checked nearly everywhere,” the cobalt knight said, frowning.

    Sleipmon walked out of the bottom of the staircase and into the castle foyer. “Do you think he’s avoiding you?”

    “Probably…” UlforceVeedramon admitted.

    “Mind if I ask what happened?” the cavalier asked him.

    “It’s a long story,” the dragon replied, walking past him and leaning against one of the pillars. “Just put it down to me having a big mouth.”

    Sleipmon nodded. “Well… why don’t we ask one of the guards? It’s possible that he went outside.”

    UlforceVeedramon nodded. “Good idea,” he said, walking from the foyer into the stone hall that led to the exit.

    Sleipmon walked alongside him, sauntering down the stairs. They reached the end of the hall and Sleipmon pulled the doors open. The Knightmon flanking the door on each side perked up and stood at attention as the two walked out.

    UlforceVeedramon looked at them. “Hey, guys?” he asked.

    “Yes, Sir UlforceVeedramon, Sir Sleipmon?” one of them replied.

    “Did you see Magnamon anywhere?” the blue Royal Knight queried.

    “Yes,” the Knightmon guard replied.

    UlforceVeedramon looked at Sleipmon with a grin before looking back at him. “Great. Where?”

    The Knightmon pointed forwards, into the dark blue of the night. UlforceVeedramon followed his finger and saw that he was pointing to the front gate of the wall. “He left through there. About an hour ago,” the guard explained.

    “When we asked, he said that he was going to do a mission with this really serious voice,” the other guard added.

    UlforceVeedramon’s heart dropped.

    “…Crap.”

    -

    Magnamon walked through the dead of night, backed only by the stars in the sky. He stealthily trekked through a grass field, making use of the few pieces of concealment that he could. He felt the cool, night wind quietly whistle as it blew across the field and swept across his scales. Ahead of him, he could see the moon beaming down on the landscape, making it slightly easier for him to see in the dark. He wasn’t especially partial to night missions, since his armour and attacks were anything but stealthy, but Magnamon was a Royal Knight, so he didn’t let it bother him. There was a job to do and Magnamon was determined to do it.

    I’ll show them…” he thought to himself, frowning as he walked. “I’ll complete this mission alone. I don’t need Ulforce’s or any of their help. I’ll remind them why I was made a Royal Knight…

    A few minutes passed and Magnamon stopped behind a large tree. He could make out something up ahead of him. About forty meters in front of him, he could make out a medium-sized formation of stone. It was a large piece of wall that had collapsed and eroded on each side at the front, making it look more like a precarious stack of stone bricks and mortar than a wall.

    Behind it, Magnamon could see a more identifiable stone structure. The semi-circular ruins of a structure, flanked on each side by stairs that led up to a second level where the ramparts were. The ramparts didn’t go very far, as they were caved in after several meters in each direction too.

    Magnamon smiled to himself. That had to be the ruined keep that Grani mentioned. He recognized the shape from the map. Now that he found it, he had to see if he could find Aquilamon, and possibly the supposed bandits as well.

    The Royal Knight silently traipsed out from behind the tree, going forwards so that he was concealed by the shadow of the destroyed wall, which the moon cast in his direction. He slinked along the wall, making sure that his armour didn’t scrape against the rough rock. When he reached the end of the wall, he slowly peered out, looking through a gap that had been created whenever the stone had given way.

    He looked at what was past the wall and saw grass and shrubs littering the ground between the wall he was at and the more dominant ruins of the keep. The darkness concealed most of what lay beneath the hollowed out guard post, but Magnamon thought that he could make out what looked like an extinguished campfire. He could definitely smell smoke and ashes on the wind.

    Deciding it was safe to be a bit more adventurous, Magnamon looked around the wall further. It was then that he noticed something to the left, on the other side of the wall. He saw a large, bird-like foot, complete with sharp talons. He turned his head, following the foot. It was attached to a leg, which was attached to a large body of red feathers.

    Magnamon’s eyes widened. It was the Aquilamon scout. He looked the bird over and saw that Aquilamon was lying on his side, his body tied up with rope so that he wouldn’t be able to fly away. Tufts of his feathers were ruffled up here and there, and there was more than one cut on his body.

    So, they were right,” Magnamon thought to himself, his eyebrows furrowing.

    The Royal Knight immediately went on the defensive. He shrunk back behind the cover of the wall and looked around cautiously. He knew there were bandits around now, and he wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t ambush him. After looking all around him, he was satisfied that they weren’t nearby.

    Well, I found Aquilamon now…” Magnamon thought to himself. He shook his head and looked up with an air of determination about him. “No… I won’t go back. Not yet. This isn’t a recon mission anymore. Now it’s a rescue mission, and I’ll be the one who rescues him,” he told himself. “I’m the Knight of Miracles, after all.

    With that, Magnamon quickly stepped out from behind the wall and crept behind the bound Aquilamon, so that he was concealed between the ruined wall and the bird’s back. The Aquilamon, who had been unable to sleep given his predicament, glanced behind him when he noticed something moving. His face lit up with surprise and relief when he recognized the Royal Knight. “Wha?” he murmured lowly, “Magnamon, Sir?”

    “Shh,” Magnamon hushed him in a whisper. “Don’t draw attention. I’ll get you out of here.”

    Aquilamon gave him a look of agreement.

    “First, where are the bandits?” Magnamon questioned, getting behind his head and attempting to see over it.

    Aquilamon nodded with his head towards the shadowed semi circle of ruins and the ramparts, which stood about twenty meters away, opposite to them.

    “How many are there?” Magnamon whispered.

    “Six,” Aquilamon whispered in response. “A BanchoLeomon, a Megadramon, a BlackMachGaogamon, a JewelBeemon, a Chimairamon, and an Indaramon. The Chimairamon could be a Mega too; I can’t tell.” He looked at Magnamon out of the corner of his eagle eyes. “Are you alone?”

    “I can handle them,” Magnamon assured him. “Don’t underestimate me.”

    “I wasn’t, sir,” the avian digimon whispered.

    Magnamon gazed towards the ruins. “…I’ll untie you afterwards. It’s important that I can ambush them before they see me. I can’t do that when they see you flying away.”

    Aquilamon nodded. “Don’t worry about me,” he said in assurance.

    Magnamon gave him a comforting pat on the back before walking out from behind the eagle digimon. He treaded through the grass carefully, looking around guardedly but giving special attention to the dark alcove created by the ruins.

    He slowly walked to the left, trying to approach the rubble-lined recess in a way that made his approach more concealed. He didn’t know where the bandits were positioned, so he had to be careful. At the back of his mind he started to think that this would be easier if Ulforce were here, but he quickly discarded that notion. He was a Royal Knight; things were expected to be testing.

    As he grew closer to the ruins, he could begin to hear hushed voices. He slowly took cover behind one of the two stone staircases which led up to the ramparts, the other of which being located symmetrically on the opposite side of the dark recess. It separated him from the alcove, where the voices were coming from.

    “I’m getting tired of looking at that overgrown pigeon over there,” the JewelBeemon said, glancing over at the bound Aquilamon down by the wall.

    “So, go to sleep,” Indaramon said, sitting up. He nodded to the Megadramon. “We’re not tired anyways. We’ll keep an eye on chicken legs.”

    “Whatever,” the JewelBeemon said. “I don’t know why we’re even keeping him anyways.”

    “Duh. As a hostage,” Megadramon responded. “You heard what he said when BanchoLeomon was roughing him up; he’s a scout for the Royal Knights.”

    “So? Does he think the Royal Knights are gonna pay ransom for him? Doubt it. It’s more likely that they’re going to come after us,” JewelBeemon said, frowning.

    “I doubt they’ll send the whole team after us,” Indaramon said. “I’m sure the boss knows what he’s doing.”

    “I sure hope so,” JewelBeemon muttered. “Those other Royal Knights took out AtlurKabuterimon, Woodmon, and Antylamon. I’d rather not end up like them too…”

    “Maybe he’s using the bird as bait,” Megadramon suggested. “They send a Royal Knight or something looking for him and then we all ambush that guy.”

    “If that’s the plan, you’re all doing a terrible job,” a voice said.

    The three bandits all jerked their heads towards the unfamiliar voice. It came from deep into the dark alcove, but as far as they knew, only the other sleeping bandits were in there. Megadramon then looked up and his eyes widened.

    There was a figure standing on top of the ramparts. All they could see of him was a dark silhouette standing against the bright, full moon behind him. The silhouette stood in a heroic, yet intimidating pose, his arms folded and pivoted slightly sideways as he loomed over the bandits below.

    “What the hell?!” Indaramon demanded.

    Megadramon squinted and looked closer. “It’s Magnamon!”

    “That’s right. And nobody captures a member of my Order and gets away with it,” Magnamon said, glaring. The turbines in his shoulder and hip guards began to rev up, sending out golden particles as they turned to their attack function. “Plasma Shoot!”

    A flurry of missiles launched from the missile ports in Magnamon’s shoulder guards and hip guards. They were small in size, but the missiles soared through the air at high speeds, all eight of the missiles descending on the bandits aggregated within the alcove.

    A series of eight explosions bloomed in bursts of fire, torn up grass and gold radiance. He had made sure to aim around the bandits. The blasts rocked the bandits below, knocking them around like ping pong balls before sending them skidding across the grass and dirt. Magnamon jumped backwards onto the rampart as the heat and fire rose and the last vestiges of the keep collapsed in a cloud of smoke and dust.

    Magnamon looked down at smoke-filled alcove. He could hear the yells and growls of the bandits as they struggled to orient themselves. The Royal Knight was about to jump down to use the smoke and confusion to his advantage, but he wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

    A figure lunged through the smoke, all the way up to the top of the fifteen foot wall where Magnamon stood. BanchoLeomon emerged and slashed vertically downwards with his Dankon sword. “Shishi Raouzan!” he roared, swiping down the tanto strongly.

    Magnamon dashed to the side, narrowly avoiding being cleaved. The sword slammed into the stone ramparts and sent large fractures all the way down the wall. The stones below began to burst outwards, the wall beginning to collapse.

    Magnamon sneered and jumped backwards, into the air, as he angled his missile ports. “Plasma Shoot!” he shouted, unleashing a second salvo of missiles, straight into the wall where the BanchoLeomon was standing. Just as the missiles hit their mark, BanchoLeomon leapt away as well. The ordnance exploded, shattering what little left there was of the wall in bursts of stone. Shards and fragments of rock showered the ground and a second dust cloud emerged.

    The Royal Knight landed amidst the fog of dust and sediment, on his guard now more than ever. He could hardly see around him due to the thick haze, but he knew that the bandits wouldn’t be able to see either.

    He dashed through the smoke, his clawed fists raised.

    “Boss!” Megadramon’s voice called out. “BlackMachGaogamon’s unconscious! I can’t find Magnamon or anyone else!”

    “I’m over here!” Indaramon’s voice sounded out. The voice came from somewhere in front of Magnamon, so he began to head towards it.

    “Use your wings to blow away the smoke, idiot!” BanchoLeomon told Megadramon.

    Magnamon scowled a bit. He had been hoping to take advantage of the smoke cover, but it looked like he would have to improvise. He felt a heavy blast of wind as Megadramon beat his wings. The smoke and dust soon wafted away, revealing the land and its occupants once again.

    When the smoke was blown off to the side, Magnamon could see Indaramon standing tall, several meters in front of him. The horse digimon turned around and spotted Magnamon with a look of surprise. “Over here!” he yelled to the others.

    Magnamon made a point to attack before the bandits could come to Indaramon’s assistance.

    “Plasma Shoot!”

    Four missiles whistled as they launched from the ports in Magnamon’s armour. They sailed through the air towards Indaramon.

    The horse bandit seemed fazed only for a second. As the missiles closed in on him, he quickly picked up his giant shell from the ground, pointing the mouth of it towards the oncoming projectiles.

    Magnamon watched curiously as the missiles disappeared inside the shell, not even exploding once inside. Indaramon grinned and aimed the shell back at Magnamon. “Adhomukha!” Indaramon shouted.

    Magnamon’s own missiles launched out of the conch shell back at him. The dragon dove out of the way, narrowly missing getting hit. The missiles exploded behind him and the blast sent him tumbling forwards.

    “Try that again, Royal Numbskull,” Indaramon taunted.

    Magnamon sneered in mild annoyance. He charged at the bandit in a full speed run. Indaramon responded by slipping one of his giant arms into the cloth straps around the Bao Bei shell, intending to use it as a melee weapon, if need be.

    As Magnamon closed in on him, Indaramon raised the shell high above his head, preparing to bring it down with a mighty crash. Once Magnamon was in range, he drove the giant shell down.

    Magnamon lunged into the air, right at the descending shell. While he was airborne, he put all of his momentum into a swinging kick. “Magnum Kick!” As the shell fell on him like a club, Magnamon kicked with every ounce of power that he had. His golden boot slammed into the shell before it could hit him and continued through it. Fractures formed throughout the shell, and, as Magnamon’s foot passed through it, the whole thing shattered.

    “No!” Indaramon shouted with frustration and disbelief.

    Magnamon then charged at Indaramon. “Magnum Punch!” he growled, driving his fist right into Indaramon’s snout.

    The bandit stumbled backwards, nearly knocked off of his feet. Magnamon followed up with a vertical kick to the horse’s chin. Immediately after, he drove his fist into his jaw. He punched and kicked the Indaramon repeatedly, not giving him a chance to right himself or even take a breath.

    “Magnum Punch!” Magnamon reared his arm back and slammed his clawed knuckles across Indaramon’s face a final time. Indaramon’s head jerked with the punch and the bandit slowly came crashing down on his back. He didn’t get back up.

    That’s two down,” Magnamon thought, landing back on the ground. “Four left…

    “Heat Viper!” a voice roared.

    A greenish blast slammed into Magnamon’s back, sending him flying through the air and crashing into a pile of stone rubble. Magnamon growled in pain, feeling the strong burning sensation still clinging his to back. He slowly flipped over and sat up, looking to see who hit him.

    The ground trembled when the huge Chimairamon landed, the chimera’s mouth steaming with power.

    That hurt…” Magnamon thought, wincing a bit. “He’s a Mega level Chimairamon. I can feel it. I’m up against two Mega level digimon.

    BanchoLeomon walked through a cloud of smoke, followed by JewelBeemon. He looked at Magnamon with a grin. “You’re all alone, are you?” he asked, grinning. “Just like I hoped.”

    Magnamon stood to his feet and glared at him. “You’re the leader of this pack of bandits?” he asked. “What do you want?”

    BanchoLeomon smirked. “What does any bandit want? Money! Digits!” he said with a chuckle. His face then grew serious. “A little bit of revenge for what your tin can friends did earlier would be nice too…”

    “What?” Magnamon asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Never you mind, midget,” the BanchoLeomon taunted. “Just know that you may be a Royal Knight, but you’re outnumbered.”

    Magnamon scoffed. “I’ve beaten a lot more than four digimon at once before.”

    BanchoLeomon pointed his sword at Magnamon. “Maybe! But never underestimate three Megas.”

    Magnamon frowned. “Three? Only two of you are Mega level digimon.”

    The lion bandit leader grinned and turned to JewelBeemon. JewelBeemon walked forwards with a smirk, slowly becoming engulfed in the light of evolution. What stepped out of the light was large, four-legged insect digimon who was as black as the night around him. He had four wings sprouting out of his back and two clawed arms. The GranKuwagamon had two long pincers coming out of his jaws. The only things that made him stand out against the darkness were white stripes ornamenting his body and the orange hair coming from his head.

    A GranKuwagamon…” Magnamon thought to himself with growing concern. “Three Megas…” He clenched his fists tightly. “One by one, I would be able to defeat them no problem, but with all of them ganging up on me at once… it’s going to be harder…

    “Genocide Attack!” a voice suddenly screeched from behind him, taking advantage of the situation as he was absorbed in his doubts and what was in front of him.

    Magnamon tensed up and started to swing around, but he was too late to do anything. The maximum salvo of Megadramon’s missiles slammed into him, hitting his armour and the ground around him. Magnamon let out a surprised shout as the explosions blasted him into the air.

    “Now! Attack!” BanchoLeomon shouted, jumping into action.

    Magnamon landed on the ground in a roll, making sure that he would land back on his feet. As soon as he was able to look up, he saw BanchoLeomon descending on him with his sword. Magnamon grunted and sprang to his feet, quickly crossing his arms to block the slash with his gold chrome digizoid arm bracers.

    “Magnum Kick!” he responded as he kept holding against the sword. He drove his foot towards BanchoLeomon, but the lion man pounced in reverse before the kick could connect with his waist.

    “Heat Viper!” Chimairamon roared suddenly.

    The ball of power plummeted onto Magnamon, who couldn’t recover in time to defend himself. The green blast detonated around him, consuming the Royal Knight in the burning energy. Magnamon growled in pain as he was thrown into the air, still swathed in flames.

    Chimairamon wasted no time in following him. The giant chimera digimon swooped over him and raised his Kuwagamon arm. He then slammed the hard, exoskeleton-encased arm down on Magnamon’s body, hammering him painfully to the ground.

    Magnamon let out a gasp of pain as the wind left his lungs. Wincing as he tried to get to his hands and knees in a bid to try and defend himself, he soon felt another blast of Chimairamon’s Heat Viper attack crush him further into the ground. A growl of pain was torn from this throat as the detonation surged against his back. When it faded, he spat the earthy taste of dirt from his mouth and slowly stood to his feet. He was in pain and panting from his exhaustion.

    “Flash Bancho Punch!” BanchoLeomon’s voice resounded from behind him.

    Magnamon turned around, raising his sore arms to defend himself, but his movements were too sluggish in the pained state that he was in. BanchoLeomon’s fist connected with Magnamon’s metal mask, energy exploding outwards from BanchoLeomon’s knuckles upon contact, and sent him skidding across the ground on his back. Luckily his helmet absorbed a lot of the hit, but Magnamon still felt concussed and exhausted from the blow.

    Magnamon grimaced, slowly trying to prop himself up on their elbows. “They’re working so well as a team… They’re not letting me have even a second to breathe. The attacks are relentless,” he thought to himself. “If I could just… have a few seconds to counterattack…

    Before he could even begin to stand, he saw Chimairamon’s SkullGreymon arm swing down and bash him against the ground again. The skeletal arm then collected Magnamon in his grip, the bony fingers curling around his body. Magnamon growled, trying to fight against the hand, attempting to get one or both of his arms out of Chimairamon’s hold. However, Chimairamon gave Magnamon a tight, crushing squeeze, causing the dragon digimon to give a sharp groan of pain.

    Have to… use that attack…” Magnamon thought under a pained grimace. “If I could just--!

    Before he could finish that thought, Chimairamon let go, violently throwing Magnamon through the air. Magnamon felt his back collide with something hard and painful. Before he could turn to see what it was, he felt two long, hard, black things clamp tightly around his biceps. He looked down and saw that they were GranKuwagamon’s pincers binding him like a vice. GranKuwagamon then grabbed Magnamon’s wrists in his claws and pinned them to his sides as well.

    Magnamon grimaced and struggled against the insect desperately. “Damn it…!”

    BanchoLeomon grinned. “Get the rope, Chimairamon,” he told the bandit. “Now we have our real hostage.”

    “What?!” Magnamon demanded, glaring at the lion furiously.

    “Maybe the Royal Knights wouldn’t pay ransom for a scout, but what about for a fellow Royal Knight?” the BanchoLeomon suggested. “That would be a handsome sum of Digits for somebody like you.”

    “You’re even stupider than you look,” Magnamon replied matter-of-factly. “They would never give in to those kinds of underhanded tactics.”

    “No?” BanchoLeomon asked, raising an eyebrow. “Well, too bad. We need something to show for the destruction of our hideout and the deletion of three of our comrades. Maybe we’ll just sell you to the highest bidder. You Royal Knights have made a lot of enemies over the years, haven’t you? Maybe somebody who really hates you will pay a nice amount of money for you.”

    “I haven’t lost yet,” Magnamon retorted, fighting stubbornly against the GranKuwagamon’s hold. “It will take more than this to take down a Royal Knight!”

    “Oh?” GranKuwagamon asked, crushing his arms tighter with his strong pincers. It took everything Magnamon had not to elicit any show of pain.

    “We’ll see,” Chimairamon said, approaching him with rope stretched out in his hands.

    Magnamon clenched his teeth, watching as the bandit grew closer. “Do I have enough energy for that attack?” Magnamon asked himself, feeling a tinge of nervousness in his heart. “If I don’t… that’s it. I’ll have made a complete fool of myself. Worse than that, actually. I’ll be a burden to my friends when they need to come and rescue me. And for what…? To spite UlforceVeedramon? What was I thinking…?

    The Royal Knight gave a soft sigh, watching as Chimairamon closed in and readied the rope. “I just have to time this right…” he thought, trying to stay as calm as possible.

    Magnamon looked up and glared at the Chimairamon. The Chimairamon smirked, unaware that Magnamon was slowly activating the turbines in his armour.

    Suddenly, there was a flash of cobalt blue behind Chimairamon. Chimairamon’s smirk disappeared and his expression turned into one of shock and pain. The rope dropped from his hands.

    BanchoLeomon raised an eyebrow and looked at the stunned chimera digimon. “Chimairamon? What are you waiting for?” he asked him. “Tie him up already.”

    The hybrid creature didn’t reply. It was then that BanchoLeomon noticed a deep gash running through Chimairamon’s back, leaking data into the air. “What?!” he demanded.

    Within moments, Chimairamon burst into data particles.

    Magnamon blinked in shock and confusion. That wasn’t his doing; he was still building up power for his attack, as evident by the gold particles slowly drifting out of his shoulder and hip armour.

    “What the hell was that?!” GranKuwagamon demanded, looking around but not letting go of Magnamon.

    “Oh,” a voice said calmly. “That was me. Sorry.”

    Magnamon’s eyes widened. He knew that voice…

    He turned to look to the left and saw a familiar azure form. UlforceVeedramon turned around, the Ulforce Sabres on his arms activated and glowing. He gave Magnamon a small grin.

    “UlforceVeedramon…” Magnamon said, the surprise obvious in his voice.

    “Another Royal Knight!?” BanchoLeomon roared.

    “Rule Three of the Royal Knights’ Code!” UlforceVeedramon replied with a wry smile. “A Royal Knight never leaves another Royal Knight in his time of need!”

    “Get him!” BanchoLeomon ordered Megadramon, lunging UlforceVeedramon as well. “Aim for his torso! He doesn’t have armour there!”

    “Ultimate Slicer!” Megadramon snarled, diving down to meet UlforceVeedramon, clamping his jagged claws together to use them for cutting.

    UlforceVeedramon grinned calmly and raised his Ulforce Sabres. “Oh, you noticed? All the girls stare at my midriff too.”

    “Ulforce!” Magnamon called out to him. “Get him over here!”

    UlforceVeedramon nodded. Due to his extreme swiftness, he was able to deftly avoid Megadramon’s slash. He darted past him and grabbed Megadramon’s long tail. With a sharp heave, Ulforce yanked him hard towards where Magnamon and GranKuwagamon were, sending him flying back in that direction. When Megadramon attempted to right himself, UlforceVeedramon deactivated one of his swords and slammed his fist into Megadramon’s chest, pushing him harder in that direction.

    Megadramon winced and counterattacked on pure impulse. “Genocide Attack!” he roared, pumping a flurry of bombs from his cannons.

    UlforceVeedramon grimaced and recoiled, quickly bringing up his left arm. “Tensegrity Shield!” he shouted, hastily activating the multidirectional barrier from his left V-Bracelet.

    The hexagonal force field expanded all around the Royal Knight. The barrage of missiles slammed into the barrier and exploded, battering the sturdy barrier and ripping up grass and dirt everywhere outside of it.

    BanchoLeomon lunged out of the way, nearly caught up in one of the explosions. “Watch where you’re shooting, you idiot!” he reprimanded him.

    It was then that GranKuwagamon noticed that there was something going on with his captive. Magnamon was engulfed in a golden aura and it kept on getting thicker. “B-Boss!” GranKuwagamon said loudly, gaining the BanchoLeomon’s attention. “What’s he doing?!”

    “I don’t know, but stop him!” BanchoLeomon commanded, looking between them and UlforceVeedramon.

    GranKuwagamon snarled and started tightening his grip even more, now cutting off the circulation to Magnamon’s arms.

    Although Magnamon grimaced in pain, he refused to cease the emission of the golden aura. The light lit up the darkness around them with a brilliant gold glow. He turned to look at UlforceVeedramon with determination in his eyes. “Ul… force. Now!” he yelled to him.

    “Understood!” UlforceVeedramon replied with a nod. He turned to the Megadramon who was still reeling and trying hard to get his bearings. The V-shaped crest on his blue digizoid armour began gleaming brightly, adding another light to the dark. “The Ray of Victory!”

    A v-shaped ray of intense light surged from the crest on his chest. It slammed into Megadramon, searing him and throwing him the rest of the way towards Magnamon. As soon as he was near, Magnamon snarled and focused, putting much of his energy into what he was about to do next.

    “Extreme Jihad!”

    Magnamon tilted his head back and wrenched his wrists free from GranKuwagamon. The golden aura around his body suddenly burst and swelled outwards in every direction. It swallowed both GranKuwagamon and Megadramon up in the light of Miracles and melted them away.

    BanchoLeomon swung around, shielding his eyes with his arms as the light approached him. “WHAAAT?!” he roared as the golden radiance flooded towards him, lighting up the night with an eerily beautiful glow.

    After a minute, the light began to subside. The conscious bandits were gone and there was nothing left around Magnamon but a crater in the ground. Magnamon hovered in the air for a few moments, before suddenly dropping. He fell towards the ground, completely exhausted from the attack.

    He knew he was going to hit the ground, and it was probably going to hurt. However, to his surprise, he felt himself land softly. UlforceVeedramon had swooped down and caught Magnamon in his arms before he could hit the ground. Magnamon opened his eyes and looked up at him, smiling weakly. UlforceVeedramon gave him an honest smile and flew him back up to completely destroyed ruins.

    He landed on the ground and gently put Magnamon down on the grass.

    “Did we get them all…?” Magnamon asked weakly.

    UlforceVeedramon looked around the area. “I think so…” he replied.

    “Aquilamon’s okay?” Magnamon questioned, trying to get up.

    UlforceVeedramon tried to push him back down. “He’s fine,” he replied, looking over his shoulder to where the bound eagle was trying to blink the spots out of his eyes after the bright attack that Magnamon performed.

    Magnamon nodded silently. He soon found himself grimacing and looking away in shame. “If you want to laugh at me, you can. I deserve it,” he replied guiltily.

    UlforceVeedramon sighed and sat down cross-legged across from him. “I don’t want to laugh at you, Magnamon…” he told him. “I just want to know what’s going on in that head of yours. You were like a different digimon today. I know I’m to blame, but…”

    The Royal Knight looked up at UlforceVeedramon with embarrassment. “It’s more me than you, Ulforce…” he told him. He found himself forced to look away again as he said the words. “I’m… insecure,” he admitted in a sheepish voice.

    “Insecure?” UlforceVeedramon asked.

    Magnamon nodded. “About my height. About my supposed ‘cuteness’,” he explained, giving a bit of an ironic yet sad grin. “About my place as a Royal Knight… All the jokes made me start to question myself. If my friends can’t take me seriously, how will anybody else be able to? How am I worthy to be a Royal Knight if I’m a joke?”

    “Nobody thinks that you’re a joke, Magnamon…” UlforceVeedramon told him honestly.

    “Not even you?” Magnamon asked.

    UlforceVeedramon sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “So that’s what all this was about? You running off to prove yourself?”

    After a moment, Magnamon slowly nodded. “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I’m supposed to be level headed, yet I got myself into that situation,” he said, his embarrassment hidden behind his helmet. “It’s the truth though… I went off alone to prove that I could complete the mission without you.”

    “I see…” the winged knight responded carefully, looking over at Magnamon.

    Magnamon grimaced. “It was so childish and reckless. I don’t know, Ulforce. Maybe it’s today. I suppose the jokes really got under my scales and I somehow got it in my head that I needed to prove that I was worthy to be a Royal Knight or something like that,” he explained.

    UlforceVeedramon gazed at him with a meaningful look in his eyes. “You don’t need to prove yourself to anybody, Magnamon,” he told him. “Everybody respects you.” UlforceVeedramon paused for a minute. “Especially me.”

    “You do?” Magnamon asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Yeah… I know I’m not very good at showing how I really feel,” UlforceVeedramon told him sheepishly. “But to be perfectly honest, you’re the digimon who I respect the most out of the Royal Knights.” When he saw Magnamon’s surprised expression, he smiled a bit. “Yeah, yeah. I know. Anyways, you remember when I first joined the Royal Knights, right? You were the one I had my first practice session with.”

    “I remember…” Magnamon said, wondering where this was going.

    UlforceVeedramon grinned a bit. “I remember when I first saw that you were my opponent. I remember how cocky I was. I thought you were just this short, lanky dragon in pretty armour while I was this big, fast, flying master,” he recalled.

    “…Get to your point,” Magnamon told him with a flat, warning glance.

    Ulforce chuckled. “And then you completely dominated me in that practice fight. I mean, you wiped the floor with me,” UlforceVeedramon said. “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know how someone of your stature could do that so easily. It was then that I realized that there was a lot more to you than meets the eye. You immediately gained my respect that day.”

    “I… never knew that,” Magnamon replied, sounding genuinely surprised.

    UlforceVeedramon nodded, still rubbing the back of his neck. “I owe you an apology, Magnamon. A series of them, it sounds like. I’m sorry if I offended you with any jokes I made. I really didn’t mean to be insulting or condescending,” he told him.

    Magnamon grimaced. “Ulforce. You don’t have to do that…” he answered.

    “Yeah, I do…” Ulforce said, frowning. “I don’t make jokes to make you feel bad about yourself. I tease you because… well, because you’re my friend. I guess it’s my weird way of showing you that I like you. It’s the same reason I tease the others too… I know it’s not the best way of showing my affection. I don’t mean any offence to anyone when I do it, but I guess that’s not always that obvious, is it? …I’ll try to hold back on it,” he offered with a smile.

    “No…” Magnamon replied, smiling a bit. “You wouldn’t be Ulforce if you did that.”

    Ulforce grinned. “Well… just tell me whenever you want me to shut up,” he told him.

    Magnamon’s smile grew wider. “I will hold you to that,” he joked.

    Ulforce gave a soft laugh before quieting down. “…By the way, I know that today is the anniversary of your induction into the Royal Knights,” he told him.

    Blinking with surprise, Magnamon slowly sat up. “You do…?”

    “Yeah…” Ulforce replied. “I suppose today is why you felt so much pressure, isn’t it?”

    Magnamon nodded and sighed. “I’m sure that has something to do with it, yes,” he responded. He then frowned as he remembered their encounter in the morning. “Why did you pretend that you didn’t know today was my induction anniversary?”

    “We were going to have a small celebration for you in the cafeteria this evening. But since you didn’t show up due to coming here early, well…” UlforceVeedramon awkwardly scratched his cheek, grinning a bit. “I guess in retrospect, I should have known today wasn’t a good day to poke fun and play games with you.”

    Magnamon shook his head. “I should be apologizing to you, Ulforce. I’ve been horrible to you all day. I had no right to be,” he told him, looking down in shame. His eyes fell on UlforceVeedramon’s bandaged hand, making him remember accidentally scratching him earlier. He grimaced. “…I’m really sorry,” he said softly.

    UlforceVeedramon grinned. “Hey… Let’s just say we both did stupid things, we both forgive each other, and leave it at that, okay? I’m sure neither of us wants a big, sappy moment, do we?” he said lightheartedly.

    Magnamon chuckled a bit. “Okay, then. That sounds fine to me.” A grimace of pain then grew on his face. “Rrr… “

    “Are you okay?” Ulforce asked with some concern.

    “Yes. I’m fine,” Magnamon insisted. “It’s nothing serious. I’m just sore all over…”

    “Then it looks like you could use some help when we head back to the headquarters,” UlforceVeedramon observed.

    Magnamon opened his mouth to protest, but he thought better of it and nodded. “Very well.”

    UlforceVeedramon stood up and offered his hand. Magnamon took it and was pulled up to his feet. Magnamon looked past UlforceVeedramon to where Aquilamon was still lying. “I guess we had better—“

    “HEY!” a voice called out from behind them.

    As they turned around, a tall figure swooped down from the sky and landed in front of them. The two Royal Knights immediately reacted. UlforceVeedramon activated the Ulforce Sabre on his right V-Bracelet, and Magnamon raised his fists.

    They then stopped and looked in surprise when Ulforce’s beam sword illuminated the figure. It was OuRyuumon.

    “Hey, hey, take it easy!” OuRyuumon said, raising his hands in front of him. “Is that any way to welcome us back?”

    “Ou…Ryuumon?” UlforceVeedramon asked, turning off his sword.

    “What are you doing here…?” Magnamon questioned, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you were with Alphamon and Omegamon.”

    “I am!” OuRyuumon replied. He then took on a wide smirk. “They’re just tying up a loose end…”

    “So you three are coming back?” UlforceVeedramon asked.

    “Yeah,” OuRyuumon said. “We were heading back towards the headquarters when we saw this bright gold light in the distance, so we decided we better check it out. I guess that was you?” he asked, looking at Magnamon.

    “Yeah…” Magnamon responded, glancing up at Ulforce.

    It was then that OuRyuumon looked behind them, noticing something. “…Why is Aquilamon tied up?” he asked, tilting his head.

    “It’s a long story,” Magnamon replied. “Can you go free him, Ulforce?”

    UlforceVeedramon nodded and walked over to the scout, who had been patiently waiting. After cutting him loose, they rejoined Magnamon and OuRyuumon. The four turned towards the destroyed ruins and saw Alphamon and Omegamon walking towards them, dragging the unconscious figure of BanchoLeomon. They dropped him beside the knocked out BlackMachGaogamon and Indaramon before walking over to the gathered group.

    “I didn’t expect we’d catch up with him again so soon,” Alphamon said with a small grin, turning to look at the captured bandit. He then smiled at the group. “Hello, UlforceVeedramon, Magnamon, Aquilamon,” he greeted. “It feels like it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?”

    “Alphamon, Omegamon…” Magnamon greeted with a nod and a smile. “I thought I got him with my Extreme Jihad attack.”

    “I thought that was you,” Omegamon said, looking at Magnamon.

    Alphamon nodded. “That BanchoLeomon is a slippery one. He escaped from us the other day as well. He must have been fleeing when he ran right into us a few minutes ago.”

    “Is that so…?” Magnamon said.

    Alphamon frowned when he noticed the state that Magnamon was in. “You’re hurt. What exactly happened here?”

    UlforceVeedramon spoke up. “Aquilamon got captured when he came across this bandit hideout. Magnamon and I went to rescue him. They were pretty tough though.”

    Magnamon grimaced. “Actually… I went in ahead of Ulforce,” he admitted, not wanting Ulforce to lie for him.

    “I see,” Alphamon responded. “Let’s talk about it on the way back to the castle. Omegamon, OuRyuumon, can you help carry those?” he said, looking at the unconscious bandits.

    Omegamon nodded quietly, walking with OuRyuumon over to them. Before doing the same, Alphamon looked at Aquilamon. “Are you fit to carry Magnamon on your back?”

    “I can manage that, yes,” Aquilamon said with an affirmative nod.

    Alphamon nodded. “Good. Let’s start heading back then.”

    -

    About an hour later, the group of six arrived back at the Royal Knights’ headquarters. They handed the captured bandits over to the jailor for temporary holding at the headquarters until they could transfer them to the main prison in the territory. Despite the late hour, the Royal Knights back at the castle were still up, awaiting Magnamon’s return. They were pleasantly surprised when they saw Alphamon, Omegamon and OuRyuumon with them as well.

    “Alphamon!” Dukemon greeted, walking over with a broad smile.

    Alphamon grinned as he entered the grand hall and walked up to Dukemon, shaking his hand. “Nice to see you again, Dukemon. How have you been holding up?”

    “Fairly good,” Dukemon replied. “With that said, I won’t be sad to hand the leader position back to you.”

    Alphamon chuckled. “It’s harder than it looks, isn’t it?”

    “It’s nice you see you all back,” Duftmon said, though the sentiment hardly showed in his voice. “However, what exactly were you three doing?”

    “I’ll address that in the meeting tomorrow, Duftmon,” Alphamon told him.

    “I hope you will,” Duftmon said, folding his arms.

    Alphamon smiled. “I actually missed your impossibly high standards and your snide comments,” he remarked with a short laugh.

    Duftmon looked away, although glancing at Alphamon for a brief moment. “…Hmph…”

    “He’s so cute when he’s indignant,” Dukemon laughed. He felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders as the mantle of leader was returned to Alphamon. He no longer had to be so professional all the time, and he could act more informal like he preferred. However, Dukemon felt respect for Alphamon for having to assume that role all the time. It was no small task.

    “You should go see Duskmon about those injuries, Magnamon,” Examon advised, noticing the bruises on his arms and chest.

    “Ah ah!” RhodoKnightmon said, stepping forwards. “Not so fast.”

    “What?” Magnamon said, raising an eyebrow.

    “You never showed up in the cafeteria for that celebration we were having for you,” Dynasmon said, folding his arms. “I’m sure all of us feel that our induction anniversaries are special days for us, so we’re not about to let you go without celebrating with us.”

    “And I’m not about to waste all of that delicious food that I made!” RhodoKnightmon insisted.

    Magnamon frowned, thinking it over a little. He didn’t want to be any more trouble today, but it sounded like they went to a lot of effort.

    UlforceVeedramon placed his hand on Magnamon’s shoulder, smiling down at him. “Come on, Magnamon. I bet you’re hungry after all that.”

    Magnamon smiled a bit, prompting Dukemon to take on a pleased expression. It looked like they had patched things up.

    “Well…” Magnamon said, appearing to be tentatively compliant.

    “I think you mean ‘why yes, I would love to!’” RhodoKnightmon insisted. “I won’t take no for an answer, so come along already, you!”

    Magnamon let out a shout of surprise as RhodoKnightmon extended and wrapped one of his long, yellow ribbons around Magnamon’s arms and upper body, impatiently dragging him down the hall towards the cafeteria. Magnamon growled and struggled against him, not liking what was happening one bit.

    “H-Hey! Stop this! I said stop! …RHODOKNIGHTMON!”
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
  2. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Author's Notes: Like the previous few, I split Chapter 11 into two parts. However, like what happened with "Adversary", I'm not finished the second part yet, but hopefully soon. I intend to finish Part II by early January at the latest, so stay tuned.

    Edit: Due to the character limit on Serebii, I have to spit Part I into two posts. It's kind of troublesome. The whole chapter might end up being four posts in total, but it's not as long as it seems.

    Chapter 11: Protocol (Part I)


    Despite the late night prior, which included Magnamon and UlforceVeedramon’s mission, Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon’s arrival home, and a small induction anniversary party for Magnamon, it was an early day for the Royal Knights. Alphamon and Dukemon called for a meeting just after the break of dawn so that they could each explain to the other party what had took place while Alphamon’s group was gone.

    “Why so early?” Dynasmon complained, rubbing a sleep-addled eye with one of his large hands. He sluggishly trudged down the great hall towards the council room, as if he just managed to drag himself out of bed.

    Walking in front of him were RhodoKnightmon and Sleipmon. RhodoKnightmon looked over his shoulder at Dynasmon. “Whining is not an attractive quality, Dynasmon.”

    “That’s a lot coming from you, Rhodo,” Dynasmon grumbled, shooting a tired look at him. “You’re the laziest one out of all of us!”

    “Not first thing in the morning,” RhodoKnightmon chimed in reply, waggling his index finger.

    Sleipmon smiled. “It’s not so bad,” he said to Dynasmon. “We’ve gotten up earlier before.”

    Dynasmon groaned, tiredly skulking after the two. “We went to bed so late though! And I was having such a nice dream…” he said, muttering the last part to himself.

    “Oh?” RhodoKnightmon asked, looking over with interest. “I presume it was about moi.”

    Dynasmon shuddered at the thought. “Only in my nightmares…”

    Still smiling, Sleipmon trotted forwards and entered the council room. There, the rest of the Royal Knights were present and already seated at the white, circular table.

    “Good morning, you three,” Alphamon greeted from the Siege Perilous.

    “Good morning,” Sleipmon replied, walking over and taking his seat next to Examon, who gave a polite nod.

    “Is it even morning yet?” Dynasmon muttered, tiredly dragging his feet over to his seat.

    Dukemon chuckled slightly. “Still not a morning Digimon, Dynasmon?” he asked upon seeing how groggy he was.

    “Ugh. Can I go back to bed and have Wyvern take my place?” Dynasmon asked, referring to the dragon who he summons for his Breath of Wyvern attack.

    “If that weren’t so ridiculous, it would be an intriguing notion,” Duftmon spoke, glancing at the violet dragon man sitting next to him. “At the very least, that beast would be better mannered than you are.”

    “I’ll respond to that after my nap,” Dynasmon murmured, slumping in his chair a bit.

    Alphamon cleared his throat, commanding the knights’ attention back to him. “Wake up, Dynasmon. This is an important meeting. We need to go over our findings over the past week.”

    “There’s a lot here on our end,” Dukemon explained. “We’ve logged our reports on the computer database, but it’s still worth bringing up.”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat nodded at Dukemon. “Okay, then. Why don’t you start and, afterwards, I’ll tell everyone what we were doing.”

    “Okay,” the former acting leader replied. “Well, remember the Anubismon and BlackMetalGarurumon that Examon came across in the United Dramonic Coalition?”

    “When he ran off from his mission,” Duftmon felt the need to add.

    Dukemon chose to ignore the comment. “The day after you three left, they hired a bunch of Mega-level mercenaries and attacked the UDC. We intervened and they were all either captured or killed.”

    Sleipmon grimaced minutely and cast a short glance towards the dragon sitting next to him. Examon didn’t notice.

    “It turned out the two were from Lupolford,” Magnamon added. He tried to avoid the temptation to claw at the bandages that had been applied to his chest several hours ago.

    “Lupolford of the Free Area?” Alphamon asked, raising an eyebrow upon recognizing the name of the town. After a moment’s pause, he frowned. “I vaguely remember Anubismon now. He inherited the title of mayor from his father, didn’t he?”

    “Looks like he did have dealings with mercenaries after all,” Omegamon said lowly.

    “Hmph,” Duftmon grunted, folding his arms. “In any case, all’s well that ends well; Examon killed the two brothers in combat and we installed a new, morally upstanding Digimon as the current mayor of Lupolford.”

    “I suppose that’s for the better,” Alphamon said with a nod. “But why attack the UDC?”

    “We never did figure that out…” Examon spoke up, frowning.

    “Greed, ambition, resentment, restlessness, simply evil. Take your pick of reasons,” Craniamon spoke. “Those are usually why any tin-pot warlord tries to attack another group.”

    “Well,” Dukemon spoke up. “With twelve Megas and the fact that Examon was no longer solely protecting the UDC, they could have hypothetically pulled the attack off, right, Examon?” He turned to Examon for his opinion, given that he was from the UDC.

    Examon nodded. “Hypothetically. There are a lot of Ultimate level Digimon, but there aren’t an abundance of Mega level Digimon in the United Dramonic Coalition. Most Digimon from the UDC who achieve Mega level end up leaving to try and achieve greater things.”

    Craniamon nodded. “When Digimon reach that level of power, they want to try and carve their name into the history of the world…” he said, almost as if he knew first hand.

    “I suppose there’s not as much left for a Mega level Digimon in the UDC,” Alphamon mused. “I guess that goes for the Free Area too, if we’re trying to put meaning to Anubismon’s actions.”

    “That depends on the sort of Digimon they are,” Examon offered.

    “Perhaps,” Alphamon responded.

    “It’s just a shame that it had to end the way it did,” Sleipmon added somberly, recounting the foray’s tragic end.

    Alphamon glanced at Sleipmon and then looked back at Examon. “Yes, well, it’s no use trying to guess these things. What else happened while we were gone, Dukemon?”

    “Yeah, this is the more pressing topic…” Dukemon said, a thoughtful frown growing on his face. “The DADAR system detected a data anomaly up in Dusk Forest. A surge of data, to be exact. We suspected it might have been a bad evolution, so I sent Craniamon and Examon up there to check it out.”

    “We were right, but it was more than we expected,” Craniamon spoke up. “A Tankdramon had some sort of dark evolution and became a Darkdramon.”

    “How was it more than you expected?” Omegamon asked. “Did things not go smoothly?”

    “We subdued him in the end,” Examon explained. “The problem was that he was more than a Digimon going on a mindless rampage. He was completely out of character for the Tankdramon and he was attacking us, but he was conscious enough to set traps and use hit-and-run tactics. He was smart…”

    “He dark digivolved when he ran over this rift in the earth that was pouring out dark data. He said it took him over and he blacked out completely until after we forced him to revert back from his Darkdramon form,” Craniamon added. “It was that rift in the ground – or more correctly – the dark data coming out of it that forced him to have a bad evolution.”

    Alphamon’s eyes widened slightly. “I… see. That’s worrisome... Did you follow up on it?” he asked with concern.

    “We had our guys seal off all of Dusk Forest,” Dukemon explained. “We’re investigating the rift now.”

    “Let me read all of your findings. It’s possible that this could be more severe than it looks,” Alphamon said with a serious look in his red eyes.

    “Uh. Sure…” Dukemon answered, a bit perturbed by the direness in Alphamon’s words.

    After a few moments silence, Alphamon sighed softly. “Is there anything else?”

    “You already know about what happened yesterday night, so nothing else of major consequence,” Dukemon explained, shrugging.

    “You conveniently forgot to mention that you lashed out at me on one occasion,” Duftmon reminded him pointedly.

    Dukemon rolled his eyes. “I did apologise…” he replied. He then added in his mind, “And you did provoke me…

    “Any sane Digimon would lash out at you!” OuRyuumon chimed in. He walked into the council room from the great hall and went over to stand near Alphamon.

    “You could hardly be described as a ‘sane Digimon’,” Duftmon spoke, glancing at OuRyuumon for a single moment before turning his attention elsewhere.

    “Same goes for you, kitty cat,” OuRyuumon shot back with a tightening glare.

    Before the argument could continue, Alphamon looked at OuRyuumon and spoke up. “OuRyuumon, if you’re going to attend these meetings, you could at least come in on time,” he said dryly.

    “Sorry, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon muttered, though he didn’t sound like he meant it.

    Omegamon glanced away during their interaction. “So, I guess it’s our turn… Alphamon?” he said, looking at Alphamon to lead the explanation as for why they left.

    “Right…” Alphamon spoke, nodding slightly and turning to the rest of the Royal Knights. “The night before we left, I was talking to KaiserGreymon over the computer. We were updating each other on recent happenings and such.”

    “Oh, I remember you mentioning that,” RhodoKnightmon spoke up. “Something about a prophetic Baronmon dramatically screaming, ’Beware the black night!’”

    “It wasn’t quite that exaggerated, but yes. KaiserGreymon told me a rumour about a Baronmon in the town of Auguria making such comments,” Alphamon replied. “I had a bad feeling about it, so I decided we should go up and investigate. That night, I left for Auguria with Omegamon and OuRyuumon, as you all know.”

    “Why tell Dukemon to keep it from us?” Duftmon asked, raising an eyebrow and leaning forwards on the table.

    “I promise, I didn’t keep it from you all because I don’t trust you,” Alphamon said reassuringly. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Omegamon folds his arms and close his eyes. He had to pause momentarily before continuing. “It wasn’t a guarded secret or anything. I just didn’t want to distract you all from your duties in case it was nothing. That’s why I brought only myself and these two.”

    “That’s fair enough,” Sleipmon replied. “So, was it nothing?”

    “Yes,” Omegamon succinctly said.

    “Less than nothing,” OuRyuumon added, placing his hands on his hips. “He admitted himself that it was basically just a dream, not a prophecy, and he overreacted.”

    Alphamon frowned and kept quiet. He still had his doubts about what Baronmon insisted, but he didn’t have any actual proof to back up his instinct, so he didn’t feel like they were worth mentioning.

    “Tch,” Duftmon scoffed, shaking his head. “Honestly, I don’t know what you expected. A prophecy… Please…”

    “Some Digimon species do have the power of foresight, Duftmon,” Alphamon told him, looking over at the leopard knight. “’Foolish are those who keep their minds closed.’ I believe one of your favourite strategists said that, didn’t he?” he said with a veiled smirk.

    “Hmph…” Duftmon grunted quietly.

    “I’m sorry you had a wasted trip,” Sleipmon said to him.

    “It wasn’t a complete waste,” OuRyuumon explained, starting to grin. “We got to annihilate some bandits, and the Spring Festival was in Auguria.”

    “The Spring Festival?” Dynasmon asked excitedly, suddenly looking a bit more awake. “I love going to that!”

    “Don’t worry. A larger one is coming to our region in a few weeks,” OuRyuumon said to him, evidently pleased at the idea of going to another one.

    “So,” Dukemon spoke up, changing the topic. “Apart from that, did anything else happen while you three were in Auguria?”

    Alphamon, OuRyuumon, and Omegamon all went quiet. Omegamon looked away from the two lovers with a very subtle wince. OuRyuumon in contrast, not known for being subtle, turned to look at Omegamon to see what his reaction would be and if he’d tell everybody or not.

    Before anybody could begin to pick up on the pause, Alphamon spoke out. “No. Not particularly,” he replied with his usual calm, confident voice.

    “Yeah, what he said,” OuRyuumon confirmed in a cross between his usual voice and a mutter.

    Omegamon nodded silently.

    Alphamon stood up in his seat. “I think that’s everything. UlforceVeedramon, Magnamon, you two need to write up your reports on the mission last night, and Omegamon and I have to write our own reports to write about the Auguria journey, as well as read up on all of the reports we missed from all of you.”

    As the Royal Knights began standing up in their seats, the double doors to the council room opened and the black form of a horse man trotted in.

    “I’m sorry to interrupt, sirs,” the black KnightChessmon said, bowing his head apologetically.

    “We were just finishing anyways,” Alphamon assured him. “Yes, KnightChessmon?”

    “There’s a messenger waiting to see you. He’s here on behalf of the mayor of Mossridge,” KnightChessmon explained.

    “Ah. It must be about our upcoming inspection,” the Lord of the Empty Seat said. “Send him in.”

    As KnightChessmon nodded and left to fetch the messenger, Examon turned to Sleipmon. “Inspection?” he asked curiously.

    “Yeah,” Sleipmon replied. “You must have heard that this is one of our duties.”

    “I have, but what does it involve?” Examon inquired.

    “Essentially, some of us Royal Knights are tasked with going down to the semi-autonomous towns in the Free Area at regular intervals in time. While at the town in question, we do an inspection. During an inspection, we talk to both city officials and Digimon living in the town. This is to make sure that everything is going smoothly. We find out if there are any needs or grievances of the Digimon there, we check for corruption and breaches of the law, and we basically make sure that everything is in order,” Sleipmon explained.

    Alphamon nodded. “That’s part of the agreement for living in the Free Area. The towns abide by our laws and pay us fair taxes so that we can afford to defend and administer the area, and, in exchange, the towns are autonomous without borders and rulers; only municipal governments headed by mayors exist, so they can run things in the towns. Also, they’re in close proximity to us so they can better enjoy the safety and sense of security of our protection, and the towns can trade freely with each other without the extra cost of tariffs. That is the Free Area,” he explained.

    Examon nodded. “So it’s not too different from the United Dramonic Coalition; where it’s a bunch of states that have banded together for safety and security,” he said.

    “Sort of,” Alphamon replied. “Except it’s a bit different since the UDC’s states fused together to form one large federal nation, which has a central government in the capital: Dragon’s Peak.”

    “That’s true…” Examon mused.

    The sound of trotting hooves grew closer once again. The knights turned towards the door and saw KnightChessmon return with a short, red-feathered bird Digimon flying behind him. Once inside the council room, the Hawkmon landed and adjusted the white feathers on his head.

    “Salutations, Royal Knights,” the Hawkmon said, bowing his head slightly.

    “Greetings, Mister Hawkmon,” Alphamon replied. “You are here on behalf of the mayor of Mossridge? Moosemon, isn’t it?”

    “Yes,” Hawkmon responded, looking up at the comparatively tall knight.

    “Is there a problem?” Alphamon asked.

    “No, no problem,” the winged messenger said. “The mayor was just hoping that we could have the inspection sooner than planned.”

    “Sooner? Why sooner?” Duftmon asked suspiciously.

    “Well… the official statement is that he has family coming to visit from out of the region, but, between us, Moosemon gets very stressed and impatient waiting for these inspections. I think he just wants to get it out of the way,” Hawkmon admitted.

    “I see…” Alphamon said with a pensive expression. “Well, I think we can do that. How about later today?”

    “That sounds terrific. You’re very generous, Alphamon,” Hawkmon told him. “I will go and tell him.”

    “Safe travels,” Alphamon told him, nodding as KnightChessmon started leading the messenger out of the room. Once they were gone and the doors were closed behind them, Alphamon turned to the Royal Knights. “Two of you should do. I would go myself, but, like I said, I’m very busy already. Omegamon is as well.”

    Sleipmon raised his hand. “I’ll go,” he offered with a smile. Sleipmon enjoyed inspections more than most of the other Royal Knights did. They were relaxing, low-stress missions. He enjoyed talking to the various Digimon in the towns, and, more importantly, there was never a deletion during an inspection to date.

    “Does anybody else volunteer?” Alphamon asked, looking around the table.

    Dukemon spoke up. “Examon, Craniamon, and I are going to go up to Dusk Forest to see how the investigation there is going.”

    Magnamon was about to offer his hand, but UlforceVeedramon grabbed his wrist. “You need bed rest, remember?” he told the knight of Miracles.

    “Fine…” he muttered reluctantly.

    “Hmm…” Alphamon looked around the table. “…RhodoKnightmon. How about you join Sleipmon?” he suggested.

    RhodoKnightmon turned and pointed at himself. “Me?” he asked, surprised. “…I would rather not, but thank you all the same.”

    Alphamon stared at him flatly. “Can you give me a good reason?” he asked, folding his arms.

    “The potatoes in the pantry are about to go bad?” RhodoKnightmon offered, shrugging sheepishly.

    “You’re going, Rhodo,” Alphamon told him.

    “But Alphamon!” RhodoKnightmon protested, standing up. “Can’t you send somebody else?”

    “Why don’t you want to go with Sleipmon?” the leader of the knights asked matter-of-factly.

    “Hm? It has nothing to do with Sleipmon,” the pink Royal Knight insisted. “He’s quite cute, it’s--”

    “Then you won’t mind going with him,” Alphamon interrupted, smirking a bit. “I know you’re just being lazy, RhodoKnightmon. Treat this with the same respect that you would any high-priority mission.”

    “Oh, fine,” RhodoKnightmon huffed, folding his arms.

    Sleipmon slipped his hand under his purple hair and rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s fine with me. When should we leave, Alphamon?”

    “Let’s say after lunch. Everybody else, do as you please,” Alphamon directed. He turned to Magnamon. “Except you. Duskmon did say that you needed to rest for a day or so.”

    “Remind me to go and get beat up by scruffy bandits too…” RhodoKnightmon muttered, walking away from his seat. “Then perhaps I’ll be able to take it easy as well.”

    Sleipmon started heading out of the council room alongside RhodoKnightmon and the other Royal Knights. “Oh, it’s not so bad, Rhodo,” he insisted. “It’s not like we have to sprint out to save a burning village.”

    “At least in that case the physical labour would be worth it,” RhodoKnightmon responded.

    “I don’t understand you sometimes,” Sleipmon said, smiling and looking at the knight. “You’re lazy, but you would rather go on a physically exhausting mission to defeat bandits than you would to go on a relatively relaxed walk to Mossridge for an inspection.”

    “It’s cost-effectiveness, Sleipmon,” Rhodo replied. “Defeating bandits is more important than a routine inspection. Therefore, the extra effort put towards defeating the bandits is more justified than the effort put towards doing the inspection.”

    “If you say so,” Sleipmon replied. “I look at it as a nice break, personally.”

    “Wonderful. You can do all the work, then,” RhodoKnightmon answered flippantly.

    The horse knight rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You could at least try to enjoy yourself…”

    “Well…” the flamboyant knight mused. “Taking your shirt off might help my outlook.”

    Sleipmon stared at him blandly. “Maybe this will be a long journey after all…”

    -

    It was now the early afternoon and the two Royal Knights had set out on their task. Sleipmon trotted down a dirt path leading south from the castle as the midday sun beat down on him from behind.

    “You know, I don’t think this is what Alphamon meant when he said for you to travel with me,” Sleipmon said, looking over his shoulder with annoyance.

    On top of Sleipmon’s back, RhodoKnightmon was lying down comfortably with his legs crossed and his hands resting behind his head, using the humanoid part of Sleipmon’s back, as well as the long, purple hair covering it, as a pillow. “Oh, that’s quite alright. He doesn’t always expect us to take him literally.”

    Sleipmon frowned at him. Being used as a steed felt degrading to him. “Can’t you walk, Rhodo?” he asked, a touch of irritation in his voice.

    “I’m sure I could if I put my mind to it,” RhodoKnightmon replied facetiously, though he made no evidence that he was going to be moving anytime soon.

    Sleipmon glared at him emphatically. “So, would you please put your mind to it?” he asked.

    “I’m afraid I don’t see what the big deal is,” RhodoKnightmon said, looking up at him. “I’m fairly light and you’re big and strong. I know for a fact how fit you are, actually.”

    “That’s because you check everyone out so much,” Sleipmon answered flatly.

    “I am lucky to be on a team with so many attractive guys, aren’t I?” RhodoKnightmon said dreamily. “Anyways, it’s not as if I’m as heavy as Dynasmon or Craniamon.”

    “You also have legs,” Sleipmon reminded him. “What happens if a Digimon passes us while we’re walking? How would it look? Two Royal Knights: one who’s too lazy to walk, and the other being used as a mode of transportation. We would look ridiculous! That would be a big blow to our public image, not to mention our self-respect.”

    RhodoKnightmon sighed and sat up. “Well, you could always gallop so that nobody sees us and we arrive at Mossridge swiftly. You’re one of the fastest Royal Knights when it comes to ground speed, are you not?”

    “I don’t want to gallop,” Sleipmon mumbled, folding his arms. “I’m not arriving in town with you on my back, Rhodo.”

    “And you call me lazy,” RhodoKnightmon said, smirking. “Come on, Sleipmon! Put those six legs to work! Mush!” With that, RhodoKnightmon brought his hand down and gave Sleipmon a firm, lingering slap on his rear.

    Sleipmon stopped dead in his tracks, a look of violation quickly forming on his face. He slowly turned his head to glare at RhodoKnightmon.

    The next thing RhodoKnightmon knew, he was flying through the air, landing face-first in the grass. The pink knight groaned and pulled his face out of the dirt, a few clumps of earth and plant life falling from his helmet.

    Sleipmon lowered hind legs, having successfully bucked RhodoKnightmon off of his back. He placed his hands on his hips and smirked with satisfaction.

    RhodoKnightmon pushed himself up before standing to his feet and brushing off his armour and sashes. “Well, that was uncalled for…”

    “And that was one grope too many,” Sleipmon replied understatedly. “You’re definitely walking now.”

    The Royal Knight sighed and walked back over to Sleipmon. “Oh, very well. I suppose I don’t have a choice now, do I?”

    “That’s good. Thanks,” Sleipmon said, walking again at a relaxed canter.

    RhodoKnightmon casually walked behind him, shamelessly checking him out as he followed. “Well, at least there’s a nice view, I suppose…

    (Continued in the next post.)]
     
  3. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued...)

    Just under an hour later, the two Royal Knights approached the town of Mossridge.

    It had the better half of five hundred buildings by the look of it. The town stood on the east bank of a river flowing in from the north or north west. The landscape around the town was fairly level, and a slightly deeper shade of green than the grasslands around the Royal Knights’ territory. There were a couple farms here and there for crop production, and a few bridges spanning and a watermill flanking the river.

    As RhodoKnightmon and Sleipmon walked past a chapel dedicated to Yggdrasil on the outskirts of town, they could begin to see Digimon occupying the streets inside of Mossridge.

    Sleipmon smiled as they entered the city. They received surprised and excited looks from the townspeople that they passed. Sleipmon nodded at them politely.

    RhodoKnightmon was less enthusiastic, just walking beside Sleipmon and looking around. “So, we’re heading to the mayor’s office. Let’s not stay here longer than we need to; I need to be home to supervise supper,” he said to Sleipmon.

    “Don’t be impatient, Rhodo,” Sleipmon replied to him, although not turning to the knight as he addressed the slowly building crowd with smiles and waves. “You’ll give a bad impression if you act like you don’t want to be here.”

    The pink armoured knight rolled his eyes behind his helmet. “We’re here to do an inspection, not to get our egos stroked by the townspeople. I know you’ve only been a Royal Knight for around seven months, Sleipmon, but, trust me, it gets old after some time,” he told him.

    Sleipmon kept up a happy appearance for the crowd, but shot an annoyed look to his comrade. “You’re so cynical. It’s called relation-building. These people want protectors who have an interest in them, not aloof, condescending ones. The whole reason we’re here is to talk to the townspeople. Besides, they like this sort of thing.”

    “As do you, as it seems…” RhodoKnightmon muttered, despite giving a few nods and courtesy waves to the crowd.

    Sleipmon ignored him and continued walking up the stone street with an audible clacking from his six hooves hitting the road. The Digimon who came out to greet, praise, and chat with the Royal Knights made sure to only flank them from the sides of the streets so that they wouldn’t obstruct the Knights’ paths. Sleipmon stopped and started talking with a yellow frog Digimon who asked him a specific question.

    “—actually, I come from a small city in the north of the continent,” Sleipmon replied amiably. “Ocean Cove. I’m told I still have a bit of the accent, actually.”

    “Yes. Have a rose,” RhodoKnightmon said somewhat offhandedly to one of the Digimon who started talking to him. He walked over to his fellow Royal Knight. “Sleipmon. We should really be getting to the town hall so that we can begin, no?”

    Sleipmon turned and looked over his shoulder. “Yes, just a minute, Rhodo.”

    As he turned back to the Frogmon, he saw a blue figure trying to make his way through the crowd of now about thirty or forty Digimon. The figure had to weave and muscle his way past some of the Digimon in a desperate effort to get to the front of the crowd. Sleipmon could see the Digimon’s red helmet disappear and reappear from behind bodies, and, every so often, he could see the tips of his blue and white wings.

    Finally, the draconic body of a young Paildramon burst through the front of the crowd, panting, and stumbling unceremoniously. As soon as Sleipmon turned to look at him, he immediately stood up straight and fixed the green armour over his chest.

    “S-Sleipmon, sir! RhodoKnightmon!” the young Paildramon said, trying to look as respectable as he could in front of them.

    “Hello there,” Sleipmon said with a smile. RhodoKnightmon was tapping his foot impatiently.

    The dragon man started beaming as he began to take in that he was in the presence of the Royal Knights and one had just talked to him. “Hi! My name’s Paildramon!” he exclaimed with a look of wonder and admiration in his eyes. “I’m… a really huge fan.”

    Sleipmon chuckled. “Are you?”

    “Yeah! I’ve been a fan of the Royal Knights for years, and I was really excited when you joined their ranks, Sleipmon, sir!” Paildramon gushed. “I have massive respect for you - for all of you!”

    The cavalier grinned and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “Thank you. That’s incredibly flattering, but we’re just doing our jobs,” he responded.

    “You’re all so good at it though!” Paildramon remarked, apparently not aware about how much he was fanboying. “Is it true that through all the missions you’ve done, you never killed a single Digimon?”

    Sleipmon paused. “Yes,” he replied with a smile.

    “That’s amazing! That must have been really hard to do,” Paildramon said.

    “It can be difficult sometimes but… it’s worth it,” Sleipmon replied, smiling at him

    “Is it?” RhodoKnightmon muttered to himself from nearby.

    “That’s really cool…” Paildramon said with a broad smile, looking up at Sleipmon. “I wish I could do that. Grow strong enough to protect people like you, I mean.”

    Sleipmon felt a warm twinge of appreciation in his heart. He smiled and put his hand on Paildramon’s shoulder. “I’m sure you can. I don’t know if you knew this, but the founder of the Order of the Royal Knights was Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. He was a Paildramon just like you, once,” Sleipmon explained. “In fact, maybe in a year, when you’re older, you could apply to join our lower ranks. There’s a lot of mobility in the Order.”

    Paildramon’s grin grew even wider and his eyes grew wide with excitement. “Do you mean it? Do you think I could?!” he asked.

    “Sure, if you work hard enough,” Sleipmon assured him. “You obviously have the motivation.”

    “Sleipmon,” RhodoKnightmon spoke impatiently.

    “Okay. I have to get going now,” Sleipmon told Paildramon, as well as the crowd.

    “W-Wait!” Paildramon spoke up. “P-Please, I mean. Can you please give me your autograph?” He quickly reached into his chest armour to pull a pencil and a scrap of paper from one of the pockets.

    Sleipmon smirked softly and nodded, taking the paper and pencil to Paildramon’s immense pleasure. “’To Paildramon. May your hopes be fulfilled. From Sleipmon of the Royal Knights.’ How’s that?” the Royal Knight asked as he handed the paper and pencil back to Paildramon.

    “That’s amazing! Thank you so much!” Paildramon exclaimed, gingerly taking the piece of paper so as not to crumple it.

    Sleipmon nodded. “My pleasure. Now, RhodoKnightmon and I have to get going to the town hall. It’s right up this road, isn’t it?”

    Paildramon nodded. “It’s the big building about eight blocks down. You can’t miss it!”

    “Thank you.” RhodoKnightmon took Sleipmon by the arm and started pulling him up the road, further into Mossridge. “Now, let’s go before you start signing even more autographs for fanboys.”

    “Wait, RhodoKnightmon! Can I have your autograph too, please?!” Paildramon called after them.

    “I’ll give it to you when him and I are finished!” RhodoKnightmon chimed back.

    Sleipmon rolled his violet eyes. “Alright. Let’s go talk to the mayor.”

    -

    The two Royal Knights stopped in front of a building that stood larger than most of the others in Mossridge. The city hall stood about forty feet high and had a trapezoidal shape. It was made up of polished, grey stone, and sculpted into its sides were grooves for aesthetic purposes. Much more obvious, though, were the vines and ivy that crawled up the sides of the building. They made the building look more natural. In fact most of the town of Mossridge was built in a way so that there was a harmony with the natural surroundings, like the river.

    “This looks like it, doesn’t it?” Sleipmon suggested, beginning to walk up the eight stone steps to a landing.

    “Well, it does have two guards at the entrance,” RhodoKnightmon said, following and eyeing the Stegomon and Gigasmon guards.

    Sleipmon walked up with RhodoKnightmon beside him. “The mayor is expecting us,” he explained. “May we go in?”

    “Please, go right in,” the stegosaurus Digimon replied, using his tail to open the door for them. “Mayor Moosemon is just inside.”

    “Thank you,” Sleipmon spoke, walking through the doorway and onto some marble floor within an expansive lobby. The marble wasn’t on the same level of quality as the flooring in the Royal Knights’ castle. It was done more cheaply, but, left unexamined, it still served its purpose of leaving a good impression of the town hall to those walking in.

    “Sir Sleipmon! Sir RhodoKnightmon!” a voice suddenly called amicably.

    They looked up and saw a white moose Digimon walking over. It was Moosemon, the mayor of Mossridge. He had a pair of thick, branch-like antlers on his head. They were blue, a similar shade to the very finely combed mane around his neck, and the markings on his white fur, which looked like it had been freshly brushed as well. The sound of his hooves clapping against the marble floor was similar to that of Sleipmon, who stepped forwards.

    “Ah, Mayor Moosemon,” Sleipmon greeted, smiling.

    “Greetings,” RhodoKnightmon spoke as well.

    “I’m so glad to see you both!” Moosemon said enthusiastically, gracing them with an overly big smile. “I’ve been anticipating this inspection. I hope you weren’t inconvenienced by my request to make it today. You see, I have family visiting from out of the Free Area in a few days.”

    “It was no inconvenience,” Sleipmon assured him.

    “I’m sure you both must be tired after your journey. Can I interest either of you in something to eat or drink? Wine, perhaps? It’s imported from Riverspring Valley.”

    “No, thank you,” RhodoKnightmon insisted. “We should just get down to business; I’m sure you want us around for as little as possible.”

    Moosemon laughed nervously and turned around. “Okay. Please, follow me,” he told them, leading them through a door on the left that he opened with his antlers.

    RhodoKnightmon followed him with Sleipmon. He lightly nudged the horseman’s arm with his elbow, ushering him to lean in. “He wants us to inspect Mossridge early, and he’s trying rather too hard with us here. I feel as if he’s hiding something, don’t you?” the pink knight said to his comrade in a murmur.

    “I think it’s just his nerves,” Sleipmon answered. “That’s what that Hawkmon admitted to us. It’s not unusual for people to get nervous about our inspections.”

    “I think Duftmon’s correct; you are rather naïve, Sleipmon,” RhodoKnightmon said to him. “Even if you’re correct and he is nervous, then that means there is something that he is nervous about. Something he doesn’t want us to find, perhaps?”

    “I don’t know why everyone who isn’t cynical suddenly has to be labelled as ‘naïve’,” Sleipmon protested. “Haven’t you ever had a test or an interview before, Rhodo? Even when you’re confident in your abilities and you know you have nothing to hide, you still tend to feel nervous beforehand.” Sleipmon paused. “Don’t overcompensate because you, Duftmon, and Magnamon missed something with Anubismon during your inspection of Lupolford,” he decided to add.

    RhodoKnightmon suddenly stopped and turned to Sleipmon. “I do not overcompensate. I do my jobs thoroughly and professionally,” he told him. He turned and continued walking after Moosemon.

    Sleipmon eyed him for a few moments. “When you feel like it…” he replied in his mind, soon following after him.

    -

    Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon stood in the mayor’s office. They had been standing there for about half an hour as Moosemon went over much of what had happened in Mossridge since the last inspection. He spoke candidly, although with a nervous laugh that cropped up whenever he got into something that he wasn’t comfortable with admitting, such as the less-than-amazing crop yields for example.

    “I see…” RhodoKnightmon replied. He eyed him suspiciously. “And on the subject of corruption?”

    “Corruption?” Moosemon asked, frowning. “Why, no.” He walked over to his desk and pushed a few scrolls forward. “You can check our bookkeeping documents here. You’ll find that all of the taxes are going where they should be going.”

    Sleipmon took one of the scrolls and opened it, reading the Digi-letters and numbers scrawled on the paper. For a moment, he glanced towards the wide door of the office before turning back to the scroll.

    “Only…” Moosemon muttered.

    “Only?” RhodoKnightmon asked, folding his arms.

    “I don’t know if you would call this corruption, but one of my advisors had to be dismissed for drunken and disorderly behaviour while on the job,” Moosemon explained, punctuating it with another chuckle. “He enjoyed Koenigs Bier a little too much. He trashed my office here. We couldn’t have that.”

    “Something like that isn’t our concern,” RhodoKnightmon assured him.

    Moosemon smiled a bit wider and nodded. He turned to Sleipmon. “Is everything in order?” he asked.

    “It seems like it,” Sleipmon replied, rolling up the scroll and handing it back. “Do we have your permission to look at the crime logs at the local police office?”

    “Why, it’s your right to,” Moosemon told them.

    “I will see to that,” RhodoKnightmon explained. He looked his equine partner. “Why don’t you talk to some of the townspeople while I do that?”

    Sleipmon nodded. “We’ll meet up outside here, how about?” he asked, already walking towards the door. “Thank you for your cooperation, Mayor.”

    “Anytime,” Moosemon replied with a look of relief on his face.

    RhodoKnightmon eyed him for a few moments before walking over to Sleipmon.

    “We have an eavesdropper outside,” Sleipmon whispered to him.

    RhodoKnightmon nodded and stepped out with Sleipmon, who closed the door behind them. They saw the big, blue body of a dragon - a Veedramon – who was casually walking away in an attempt to look innocent. The pink-armoured knight looked at Sleipmon for confirmation, who nodded.

    One of RhodoKnightmon’s sashes suddenly whipped through the air and wrapped around the Veedramon’s arm, stopping him from walking any further. The Veedramon tensed up and tried to wrench his arm away on reflex, but the RhodoKnightmon’s sashes were surprisingly durable.

    “Hey!” he exclaimed, spinning around to see what grabbed him. “What is this?!”

    Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon approached him, the latter keeping a hold on the sash. “Eavesdropping, were you?” the horse knight asked, stopping in front of the smaller dragon.

    “No…” Veedramon grunted, trying not to seem defiant, although still resisting against the ribbon. “I was only walking to my office.”

    “I could hear you brushing up against the door while we were talking with the mayor,” Sleipmon remarked, eyeing him suspiciously.

    Veedramon looked away, sneering in defeat. “Yeah… Okay. I admit it. I was eavesdropping, but I was only protecting my interests,” he explained, turning back to look at them. “Can you let go of my arm now?”

    RhodoKnightmon unwound the sash from around Veedramon’s arm. “I’m rather confused,” he stated. “Who are you, exactly?”

    “I’m one of the members of the town council,” Veedramon explained. “We’re sort of like advisors to the mayor.”

    “And what do you mean by ‘protecting your interests’?” the Royal Knight asked, placing his hands on his hips.

    Veedramon huffed and folded his arms. “I was making sure that Moosemon wasn’t throwing me under the Trailmon, so to speak. He’s already told enough lies about my family; I didn’t need him lying to the Royal Knights too.”

    “Oh?” RhodoKnightmon asked.

    “What lies?” Sleipmon inquired.

    “Like that garbage about my brother. Yeah, maybe he smashed up Moosemon’s office, but that guy provoked him!” Veedramon growled.

    “Slow down,” the red knight implored. “Your brother was the one he mentioned? He was a member of the council too?”

    “Yeah. AeroVeedramon was never drunk. Moosemon was just looking for a reason to dismiss him, and when he couldn’t find one, he created one,” Veedramon said.

    “Why would he do that, exactly?” Sleipmon asked.

    “Because Moosemon has it in for our family!” the blue dragon explained angrily.

    “That’s more than enough, Veedramon,” a voice bellowed out from down the hall.

    The Royal Knights looked behind them to see Moosemon walking over, having heard Veedramon’s raised voice. Veedramon glowered at him.

    “The Royal Knights don’t want to hear about your family’s dirty laundry,” Moosemon said with a stern stare, marching over. “I know you think your brother didn’t do anything, but you have a persecution complex the size of a MetalSeadramon. I’m not out to get you. Now, please stop causing problems for our esteemed guests.” Moosemon turned to Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon. “This is very embarrassing. I’m sorry about him.”

    Veedramon turned to Moosemon and glared, but didn’t open his mouth.

    Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon looked at each other, their exasperation beginning to show.

    “We need to be getting on with our inspection now. Thank you for talking with us, both of you. It has been enlightening,” Sleipmon replied. With that, Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon turned and started making their way out of the town hall.

    “So, it seems there is more to this than meets the eye,” RhodoKnightmon said to him.

    “I guess so…” Sleipmon murmured. “I wonder who’s telling the truth.”

    “I’m not sure. You go and talk to the townspeople. Specifically ask about rivalries and corruption. I’ll get the records from the police office and then I’ll come back here to talk to some of the other advisors about this,” RhodoKnightmon explained. “Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, Sleipmon. Don’t let your friendly ways get in the way of doing your job.”

    Sleipmon nodded, although frowning a bit. “I won’t…”

    -

    After about an hour, RhodoKnightmon emerged from the police office. Everything seemed to be in order there, and he had a lengthy chat with the chief constable. It was mid-afternoon by the time that he left the building.

    He made his way back to the town hall, where he saw that the Gigasmon guard was gone and the Stegomon guard was sitting down on the steps, munching on some cabbage.

    Cabbage by itself?” RhodoKnightmon mused to himself. “That’s not a proper meal…

    The Stegomon looked up, some bits of cabbage still dotting his mouth. “Oh, hello again. I’m just on my lunch break,” he greeted the Royal Knight.

    “I see…” RhodoKnightmon said. He eyed the head of cabbage in front of the Stegomon. “Wouldn’t that taste so much better with, perhaps, some cranberry vinaigrette?”

    The Stegomon slowly frowned and tilted his head sideways. “What’s a… vin-eh-gret?” he questioned.

    RhodoKnightmon stared at him, sighed and shook his head. “There is simply no hope for some Digimon…”

    “Huh?”

    “Never you mind,” the Royal Knight replied. “Can you tell me if there are any members of the mayor’s council in the town hall at this moment? Aside from Veedramon, I mean.”

    “Uh, yeah,” the Stegomon answered. “Parrotmon is inside.”

    “Good. Thank you,” RhodoKnightmon answered, walking up the stairs and letting himself into the lobby.

    To his luck, as soon as he entered, he saw the tall, broad form of a green and yellow parrot Digimon. The Parrotmon shifted around his blue talons to turn around and see who had just walked in. “Oh, hello, Sir RhodoKnightmon,” she greeted. “I heard that the inspection was today.”

    “Why, indeed it is,” RhodoKnightmon replied, looking up at the exotically coloured avian Digimon. “That is exactly why I would like to speak with you. Could you please spare a few minutes?”

    “Of course I can,” she said with a smile.

    “And you will answer honestly, won’t you?” Rhodo implored.

    Parrotmon nodded. “Sure. I’d be too nervous to lie to a Royal Knight anyways,” she replied sheepishly.

    “Thank you. Now… You’re one of Moosemon’s advisors, correct?” he asked.

    Parrotmon nodded again. “That’s right.”

    “So, I assume you’re aware of the situation between Veedramon and himself?”

    Her face began to grimace. “Well… yes… We weren’t supposed to bring that up today, but since you already know…” She looked at him uncomfortably.

    “It’s fairly obvious that there’s tension between them, but I’m afraid I don’t know as much as I feel I should,” RhodoKnightmon said, hoping that she would be able to fill him in.

    “Well…” Parrotmon paused. “To put it simply, it’s a family rivalry. No… ‘rivalry’ seems to trivialize it too much. They… can’t forgive each other,” she explained, a touch of sadness in her voice.

    RhodoKnightmon folded his arms. “Can’t forgive each other? What exactly happened?” he asked, more out of curiosity for necessary information than out of emotional investment.

    “It happened over a decade ago,” Parrotmon told him, gazing down at the knight, although her eyes were deep in thought. “Moosemon’s father, and Veedramon’s and AeroVeedramon’s father were the best of friends… They had been for awhile, before they started having families. I remember that us four used to play together while our fathers would talk nearby.”

    “Yes, go on,” RhodoKnightmon spoke, inwardly wishing that she got to the point without the added emotional surplus.

    “Well… Moosemon’s father was a Pegasusmon, and Veedramon’s and AeroVeedramon’s father was a Paildramon,” she explained.

    RhodoKnightmon nodded, although he wondered why she felt it was necessary to tell him that.

    “Like I said, they were best friends…” Parrotmon said. “But one day… Paildramon changed.”

    “Changed…? His personality, you mean?”

    She shook her head. “He digivolved…” she told him ominously. “But… it went badly.”

    RhodoKnightmon thought about it for a moment. “Ah…” he said in revelation. “Imperialdramon Dragon Mode.”

    Parrotmon nodded sadly. “I guess I don’t have to tell you how unstable Imperialdramons are when they first achieve that mode. He couldn’t handle its power. He went wild,” she explained with a sigh.

    The Royal Knight frowned. “A rampant evolution. So, what happened next?”

    “Like I said, he lost control. He destroyed nearly a quarter of Mossridge. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was just attacking every building in sight. Nobody was seriously hurt except…” Parrotmon paused. “Pegasusmon tried to stop him. He tried to talk sense into him at first, but he wasn’t getting through. When he realized that wasn’t working, he tried to incapacitate him himself, but… Imperialdramon killed him.”

    RhodoKnightmon listened quietly, arms folded.

    “After that, Imperialdramon finally settled down and was able to get a hold of himself, I guess. I was young at the time. He hadn’t realized what he had done at first. I guess it was all a blur to him.”

    “Yes, when Digimon go rampant like that, they can’t think clearly. They don’t act rationally and they act purely on instinct and emotion,” RhodoKnightmon explained. “Sometimes they don’t settle down, but sometimes they can either calm down naturally or through a physical, mental, or emotional shock.”

    Parrotmon nodded. “Maybe it was that, then… I remember my dad mentioning that when Imperialdramon settled down, he was crying but he wasn’t sure why…” she said, almost in a mumble. “Anyways… Moosemon’s family didn’t forgive him. They said he was a monster. I think he began to think the same thing; when he found out what he had done, he was devastated. Heartbroken. One day, I guess he couldn’t take the guilt and sadness anymore. He deleted himself.”

    “I see…” RhodoKnightmon said. “So… That’s how it started? Moosemon’s family blamed them for Pegasusmon’s death, and Veedramon’s family blamed Moosemon’s family for Imperialdramon’s death?”

    “More or less…” Parrotmon answered grimly.

    “And yet Veedramon and AeroVeedramon are Moosemon’s advisors?” RhodoKnightmon asked curiously.

    “It’s complicated… Each of them were striving to become the mayor of Mossridge. Competing, almost. Once the Royal Knights appointed Moosemon as mayor, they had to take what they could get, and there was an uneasy truce between them, for the sake of the town. That said, the Veedramon brothers still want to become mayor themselves someday.”

    “Ah, I see. So… back to the present. AeroVeedramon’s dismissal. Who was in the right?” the pink-armoured knight asked. “It sounds like either story is possible now.”

    “I’m afraid I don’t know,” she admitted. “Both sides are sticking to their stories.”

    RhodoKnightmon sighed. “Great… Faction struggles,” he muttered. “As troublesome as this is, it will have to be sorted. If this in-fighting ends up escalating, it could end up going in an unfortunate direction. Factional in-fighting can sometimes lead to corruption, assassinations, coup d’états, and even civil wars. Nothing even close to that will be tolerated under our watch.”

    “I completely agree,” Parrotmon agreed. “I’d like nothing more than for them to make up.”

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “Well, thank you for your help. I need to go inform my comrade.”

    “Alright… Please, sort something out between them,” she pleaded to him.

    “I’ll see what I can do,” he answered, turning and heading out to look for Sleipmon.

    -

    “So everything has been going well? That’s good to hear. Thank you for your time.”

    Sleipmon turned away from the small, purple Penguinmon he had been talking to and started trotting past him. He made his way down a stone street that ran parallel to the river. On the left hand side was the flowing water of the river and on the right hand side were a row of shops that were beginning to close for the day.

    He had thoroughly talked with the residents of Mossridge and there didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary. Sleipmon wondered if the rivalry between Moosemon and Veedramon was even worth following up on. From what he gathered from the townspeople, neither of them were bad Digimon, they just didn’t like each other. It did pique his interest that they used to be friends, though.

    The cavalier continued walking as stone road turned into a dirt path as he began to reach the edge of the town. Sleipmon was about to turn to go back, but something ahead of him caught his eye. He saw the Paildramon who he had met earlier.

    Paildramon was outside a large house, presumably his. He had one arm stretched out in front of him, and he lifted one leg slowly up before moving it behind him, as if taking a battle stance. He then extended the long spikes in his gauntlets and began stabbing the air.

    Sleipmon raised an eyebrow and began to make his way over. Paildramon was facing to the side and had a look of serious concentration on his face, so he didn’t notice Sleipmon approach.

    “That’s not bad, but you should pivot your feet more,” Sleipmon remarked with a light smile.

    The teenage dragon jumped up and swerved towards the voice, completely startled. His red eyes widened like moons when he saw who the voice belonged to. “Guh! S-Sleipmon!” he sputtered, his face turning the same red colour as his helmet when he realized he must have been making a fool of himself. He started rubbing the back of his head, looking away since he couldn’t bring himself to look him in the eyes. “I… didn’t see you there.”

    “It’s not bad, Paildramon,” he assured him, sensing the dragon’s embarrassment. “Where did you pick up stances like that?”

    Paildramon finally allowed himself to look at the Royal Knight. “Uh… W-Well… My uncle’s been teaching me, actually,” he explained sheepishly. “He has a lot of time on his claws, since he got dismissed from his job recently.”

    Sleipmon looked at him curiously. “He was dismissed? Is your uncle AeroVeedramon, by any chance?” he asked. Upon seeing Paildramon nod, he continued. “So, that makes you Veedramon’s son?”

    “Yeah,” Paildramon replied, a little surprised. “You met them?”

    “I met your father,” Sleipmon explained.

    The dragon Digimon smiled and nodded. “Uh, do you mind if I keep training?” he asked. “We can still talk; I just don’t want to break my rhythm.”

    “Of course.”

    Paildramon smiled more broadly. “And if you have any more tips, I’d love to have them,” he mentioned, going back to the attack stance that he was in before, although feeling a bit self-conscious with Sleipmon watching.

    Sleipmon grinned. “Sure,” he answered. “So, do you know why your uncle was fired?”

    Paildramon shrugged and started stabbing the air. He then recoiled a step and crossed his arm blades in front of him in a defensive stance before going back to various stabs and thrusts. “Uh… Apparently he was… drinking on the job, but… him and Dad say that… Mayor Moosemon did it out of spite,” he replied between grunts of effort.

    Sleipmon nodded, watching as Paildramon performed a roundhouse kick in the air before following up with a whip from his tail. It was obvious that Paildramon was showing off his best moves for Sleipmon. “I see…”

    “It’s too bad… Apparently they used to be friends,” Paildramon replied, thrusting his arm forwards before ejecting his wire-guided claws twenty meters down the yard.

    “They did?” Sleipmon asked, although already knowing that fact. “What happened?”

    Paildramon’s speed started to increase noticeably with every new punch and movement. “I think… it had to do… with Granddad…” he answered. As he trained, he started panting and sweating. His scales began paling behind his helmet.

    “Your grandfather?” Sleipmon asked.

    Paildramon nodded and, after a moment, suddenly stopped his actions. He brought his hand to his head, closing his eyes tightly. “Guh…” he groaned.

    The Royal Knight frowned. “Paildramon? What’s wrong?” he asked.

    “N-Nothing…” he tried to reassure Sleipmon. “I just feel kinda weird for some reason.”

    “Weird? How so?” Sleipmon asked, walking towards him with some concern.

    “I… I dunno…” Paildramon grunted, stepping backwards. “I feel tingly all over… and kinda light-headed…”

    “What…?” Sleipmon asked, suddenly frowning. He could hear the dragon’s heavy breathing from there.

    Paildramon gripped his forehead, grimacing tightly, almost as if in pain. “I… AH!” he suddenly cried out.

    Sleipmon rushed forwards, but stopped when Paildramon’s body became encased in a grey aura. Suddenly his whole body shone brightly and data exploded outwards as his body began to change shape.

    The Royal Knight took several steps backwards in the grass, watching as Paildramon’s form began to grow and grow and grow… Sleipmon had to shield his eyes from the light with the red Niflheimr shield he wore on his right arm. A terrible roar accompanied the sudden digivolution.

    Sleipmon moved his shield to look as the light began to die down. He had to crane his neck to look up at the huge Digimon. In Paildramon’s place was a giant blue dragon standing all fours. He now wore black armour over his back and his four legs. Instead of his hands, he had formidable, golden claws and a long, sharp sickle on each foreleg. A warm wind blew through his white hair, which stuck out from beneath his red and black helmet. The helmet was reminiscent of the one he had as a Paildramon, except this one had a white crown over it, and it rested on top of a fearsome, snarling face.

    Sleipmon suddenly felt uneasy. He watched as the dragon’s new, red wings suddenly spread out from beside the huge positron cannon that was built into the armour on his back.

    “Paildramon… You evolved…” he said cautiously. He offered a small smile. “Congratulations.”

    The Imperialdramon Dragon Mode let out an earth-shaking roar and staggered towards Sleipmon on shaky limbs, his tail swishing wildly behind him. Sleipmon backed up a bit more. “Take it easy, Paildramon,” he told him. “You’re not used to the form yet.”

    Imperialdramon merely roared again and stopped. He stood up straight and energy began to accumulate within his Positron Cannon. Not even calling his attack, Imperialdramon simply snarled loudly and fired a blue blast of energy circled by purple helices from his cannon aimlessly into the air.

    Sleipmon’s eyes widened. “Paildramon! Be careful!” he told him harshly. “You could hurt…” Sleipmon watched as Imperialdramon turned his attention towards him, welcoming him with another savage roar. “somebody…” he finished in a distraught mumble.

    Imperialdramon leaned the front of his body close to the ground, angling his body so that the Positron Cannon aimed down at Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon grimaced, gazing up at Imperialdramon and his cannon. Power began to be drawn into the cannon from the nearby air; the positrons were growing inside the mouth of the cannon. “Paildramon… Imperialdramon… What are you doing? It’s Sleipmon. I’m a Royal Knight. What’s wrong?” he asked, backing up a couple more steps.

    A soft growl rumbled within Imperialdramon’s throat before it turned into a full on throat-tearing roar. The cannon brimmed with power. Imperialdramon looked at Sleipmon with wild red eyes, and, suddenly, the cannon erupted. A massive laser ripped from the cannon and surged towards Sleipmon, tearing up the ground as it closed in on him……
     
  4. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 11: Protocol (Part II)

    The white and blue form of a winged dragon Digimon dashed out of the house at the sudden sound of roaring. The AeroVeedramon darted around the corner of his brother’s house and into the yard, where the noises were coming from. He skidded to a stop and his toe claws dug into the grass as soon as he took notice of the scene before him.

    Imperialdramon’s tall, massive draconic body lurched forwards unevenly, still shaky on his own feet. He bent his bulky body down and zeroed his giant, dorsal cannon in on the Royal Knight standing in front of him. Sleipmon took a few steps back cautiously.

    “Paildramon… Imperialdramon… What are you doing? It’s Sleipmon. I’m a Royal Knight. What’s wrong?” the horseman asked, although he had a sinking feeling that he already knew the answer.

    Imperialdramon didn’t reply. He merely roared hot breath at him and launched a torrent of positrons from his cannon. A beam of swirling, purple and blue power burst from the muzzle and descended on Sleipmon. The recoil of the blast was enough even to push the colossal body of Imperialdramon back a several feet.

    Sleipmon’s eyes widened as the beam closed in. He grunted and raised his long, red shield, the Niflheimr, in front of him. He dug his six hooves into the ground and braced himself for the immanent impact.

    A strained growl escaped his mouth as the attack slammed into his shield. Sleipmon winced in pain and effort at the enormous amount of pressure hitting the Niflheimr. The strength of the blast as well as the continuous nature of it forced Sleipmon to have to press his left hand against the inside of the shield as a buffer.

    The Positron Laser fought against the great shield and the attack branched off in strands of power around Sleipmon. Several miniature threads of positrons splaying off the shield hit the ground and ripped up the grass and earth in large clumps. Sleipmon’s features were lit up with a bright blue and purple gleam as he continued holding against the beam, which was slowly driving him back in the grass. He let out a soft sigh of relief when the attack finally began to die down.

    The beam dissipated inside Imperialdramon’s cannon and the smoke and dust began to clear. There was a long, shallow trench running down the yard from Imperialdramon to Sleipmon where the blast burned into the ground, as well as a mess of dirt and grass surrounding Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon glanced down at the outer edge of the Niflheimr. Smoke rose up from the red metal, but otherwise it didn’t have a single dent or blemish. “Thank Yggdrasil for red digizoid,” he thought to himself. To his surprise he heard a voice shout out behind him.

    “No… No!” AeroVeedramon shouted, looking up at Imperialdramon with a mortified expression.

    Sleipmon turned his head, but made sure not to let the wild dragon out of his peripheral vision. “AeroVeedramon?” he asked in slight surprise, realizing who he must be.

    “You said Paildramon…” he said with a shaky voice. “That’s… That’s my nephew! This… can’t be! Not again!”

    “Again?” Sleipmon asked. Before he could get an answer, he could see Imperialdramon begin to move, prompting him to swing around.

    Imperialdramon roared and started flapping his wings violently, pulling himself into the air. Sleipmon sneered. “I can’t let him into the city…” he muttered. He quickly looked at AeroVeedramon. “Find RhodoKnightmon! He should be around the town hall! Hurry!”

    AeroVeedramon looked on helplessly at his nephew. “But…”

    “Go!” Sleipmon commanded. “It’s not safe here! I need RhodoKnightmon’s help to contain him.”

    AeroVeedramon took on a torn expression, wondering whether he should or not. “Don’t… Don’t delete him! You won’t, right?!”

    “I won’t delete him! I promise,” Sleipmon reassured him. The horse knight frowned and stared at Imperialdramon. “I won’t delete him no matter what.

    AeroVeedramon nodded, finding assurance into Sleipmon’s word. He flapped his wings and raced into Mossridge as fast as he could.

    With him gone, Sleipmon cautiously approached Imperialdramon. “Imperialdramon…” he said in a calm, soothing tone. “You remember me, don’t you? I’m Sleipmon… I’m one of the Royal Knights… You said you really admired me, remember?”

    Imperialdramon roared and took a mindless swipe at him with his sharp, gold claws.

    Sleipmon leapt away and circled back around to try again. “Imperialdramon! Stop this! You know me!” he shouted in distraught frustration. “You wanted to join our Order, remember?!”

    Another savage growl ripped from Imperialdramon’s throat. He tilted his head back and began gathering dark matter inside his mouth.

    Sleipmon sneered and decided to keep on the move, galloping around Imperialdramon, but not letting him get too far from him. “I know this new evolution is hard to handle! You have to focus! You’re letting its power take control of you!” he told him. “Just listen to my voice and try to relax! I know you’re in there!”

    Imperialdramon roared and fired his Mega Death attack. The ball of dark matter sailed over Sleipmon’s head and burst through the wall of his house. A black and white blast blossomed from inside the house, completely annihilating all of the walls and furniture. The house detonated in a massive explosion that forced Sleipmon to stop and brace himself from the blast. The blast ripped through the ground and air, sending debris and fractured data particles flying everywhere. Sleipmon let out a breathy grunt; he struggled to remain on his hooves as the detonation rocked his form.

    When the explosion died down, the Royal Knight lowered his shield and observed the damage with a look of shock. Where Imperialdramon’s house once stood, there was a massive, smoking crater, and all the grass surrounding the impact point was completely gone. Sleipmon could hear shouts of fear and confusion from inside Mossridge.

    He turned back to Imperialdramon with a look of anxiety. The dragon flailed his tail wildly and he wrenched his head around, growling and flapping his wings, although luckily staying in place.

    Sleipmon grimaced. “What do I do…? He can destroy Mossridge in a matter of ten minutes…” he thought to himself with worry. “Hurry up, Rhodo. I’ll need your help…

    -

    RhodoKnightmon walked out of the town hall, looking around curiously. “What in Yggdrasil’s name was that noise?” he wondered aloud as he made his way down the steps.

    “RhodoKnightmon!” a voice called out to him from behind.

    “Hm?” RhodoKnightmon hummed, turning around at the base of the steps.

    Mayor Moosemon came out of the town hall and walked down the steps. He stepped up beside Rhodo and looked at him with a big smile. “Hello! How’s the inspection going?” he asked. “Are you just about done?”

    “Oh, nearly, yes,” RhodoKnightmon replied. Sleipmon and I were just following up on something that we heard happened over a decade ago.

    Moosemon’s smile faltered. “Oh…” he said with a suddenly heavy voice. “Why look into something that happened over a decade ago? The Free Area didn’t even exist when that happened.”

    “So, you know what I’m talking about, then?” the Royal Knight asked him.

    Moosemon grimaced and finally nodded after a few moments. “It’s… not exactly something I can forget,” he spoke, without his usual laugh.

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “I wanted to know why your family and Veedramon’s family were at odds. And it is our business because you’re both part of the municipal government, and we have to ensure that there’s no foul play going on, you see.”

    “I know,” he replied with a sigh. “But I ensure you that I didn’t dismiss AeroVeedramon for personal reasons. He was undermining me at every step just for the sake of it! It was getting impossible to get any work done! And I didn’t invent what he did to my offi--”

    “RhodoKnightmon!” another voice rang out, this one more desperate and frantic.

    RhodoKnightmon turned and saw AeroVeedramon descending through the air towards them. “Hmm, perhaps we can have both sides of the story,” he mused. Moosemon had an annoyed expression on his face at the dragon’s appearance.

    AeroVeedramon landed and looked at the Royal Knight with a look of terror in his eyes. “RhodoKni--“

    His voice was interrupted by a massive booming coming from the direction that AeroVeedramon flew from. The ground beneath them shook, and a bright blast erupted into the sky from the northern outskirts of town.

    AeroVeedramon flinched. Moosemon staggered on his legs slightly and looked over in panic and surprise.

    “What was that?!” RhodoKnightmon demanded, looking at the huge blast in the distance.

    Grimacing, AeroVeedramon looked up. “It was Paildramon. My nephew…” he replied with guilt in his voice. “He… He evolved.”

    Again, they were interrupted when a screech rang through the air and a beam of positrons streaked through the sky.

    Moosemon tensed up, his eyes widening. “No…”

    RhodoKnightmon sneered behind his helmet. “You’re joking…” he spoke, noting the coincidental irony of the situation. “You mean he’s gone rampant…?”

    AeroVeedramon nodded with a pained grimace.

    “You fool!” Moosemon shouted, glaring at AeroVeedramon. “I knew you were a family of monsters! Who else needs to die before you realize that?!”

    AeroVeedramon scowled and turned to him. “Shut your mouth, Moosemon! It’s not his fault! H-He’s young! He doesn’t know what he’s doing!”

    “Just like your father didn’t when he killed my dad?!” Moosemon shot back.

    AeroVeedramon snarled and grabbed him by the neck. “Don’t you dare bring my father into this!” he warned him.

    “Or what?! You’ll kill me?” Moosemon countered, narrowing his gaze. “I don’t care. It’s better than being toasted by your psychotic nephew! The whole town is doomed now! Everything that we’ve worked for!”

    RhodoKnightmon got between the two Digimon and pushed them apart. “Enough!” he ordered. “Do you really think that fighting amongst yourselves is going to solve anything? If this is the way you two always act, it’s no wonder that things have been going badly.”

    AeroVeedramon let go of Moosemon and folded his arms, frowning deeply. Moosemon grimaced and looked away.

    “That’s better,” RhodoKnightmon said. “Now, I’m not going to let anything happen to this town. I’m going to take care of this situation.”

    “Th-Thank you,” Moosemon murmured, tensing up as another explosion shook the ground.

    RhodoKnightmon looked at both of them. “Where is Sleipmon?” he asked them.

    “He’s with Paildramon!” AeroVeedramon told him hurriedly, remembering why he was there. “He sent me to come get you!”

    The Royal Knight nodded. “I understand. Now, don’t you two have jobs to do?” he asked.

    AeroVeedramon nodded, looking at Moosemon. “We have to start an evacuation.”

    “…Yeah, we do,” he agreed.

    “I hope you two can manage that without any problems,” RhodoKnightmon said to them, giving them a lingering look.

    They nodded.

    “I need to tell my brother!” AeroVeedramon remembered. “That’s his son.”

    “No, don’t tell him,” the pink Royal Knight said to him. “He’ll get in our way and end up putting himself in danger. Just get him to evacuate with the rest of you.”

    AeroVeedramon grimaced. “Rgh… I’ll try.”

    “I must assist Sleipmon now. I’m leaving everything to you two,” RhodoKnightmon told them. With that, he started dashing north, up one of the streets, against the crowd of fleeing Digimon.

    Hang in there, Sleipmon,” he thought, frowning. “Do not let your heart get in the way of what you need to do.

    -

    Sleipmon backed towards the crater as he pushed his hands against the top and bottom jaws of Imperialdramon’s snout, trying to keep the massive dragon from biting him.

    “Imperial… dramon…” he grunted, struggling to keep the wild beast at bay. “I know… that you don’t want to hurt anybody… You said that you… wanted to protect people… like the Royal Knights do…”

    Imperialdramon dug his claws deeper into the earth, pushing forwards and roaring, some of his saliva splattering onto Sleipmon’s armour.

    Sleipmon sneered and dug deep. He knew the crater was right behind him; he was at risk of losing his foothold, and that would leave him vulnerable to attack. “Listen to me, Imperialdramon! You need to focus! Your mind’s unstable!” He saw that he wasn’t getting through to him, and he began to glower when he saw more dark matter building up in Imperialdramon’s mouth for his Mega Death attack. “Imperialdramon! I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m going to need to incapacitate you if you don’t calm down! You’ll hurt people! I know you don’t want that!”

    He saw the dark matter rising in Imperialdramon’s mouth and it began to brim. “Tch,” Sleipmon grunted. He was forced to let go and dash to the side, sending Imperialdramon staggering at the sudden release. As Imperialdramon tripped into the crater, he managed to jerk his body to the side in a desperate attempt to fire the Mega Death attack at Sleipmon. He spat the sphere of dark matter but it missed him by a couple of feet and soared into the air. It travelled on, eventually exploded in a terrifying blast of black energy and lightning.

    Sleipmon turned back towards the crater as the attack exploded harmlessly, sending a blast of wind through his hair. He heard the sound of Imperialdramon crashing at the bottom of the crater.

    “Now’s my chance,” he murmured to himself. He dashed towards the edge of the crater and raised the Niflheimr in front of him. “Odin’s Breath!”

    Sleipmon’s shield began to glow blue as it started to radiate freezing temperatures. He wanted to use the Niflheimr to lower the temperature inside the crater to make Imperialdramon sluggish, and perhaps freeze his limbs to the ground if necessary.

    The blast of cold swept into the crater, but, to Sleipmon’s surprise, Imperialdramon had already recovered from falling. Imperialdramon shot up into the air, flying out of the crater and roaring at the cold against his lower body.

    Sleipmon grunted in annoyance and tried to raise his blizzard-producing shield up to follow Imperialdramon and at least stop him from getting airborne. To his dismay, he couldn’t angle himself properly because the dragon was already flying over his head.

    The cavalier started galloping to try to turn and face Imperialdramon, but he already heard the rampant Mega level land behind him with a crash. The first thing he saw of Imperialdramon was his large foreclaw as it slammed into him and sent him crashing on his side.

    His groan of pain was drowned out by another of Imperialdramon’s roars. He tried to position his six legs to try to stand himself up again, but he could see the giant dragon already looming over him. Sleipmon grimaced as Imperialdramon raised his claws, either attempting to stomp on him or stab him. For a moment, the Royal Knight contemplated the Muspellsheimr crossbow on his left arm.

    Imperialdramon thrust his foreleg forwards, the gold claws glinting in the late afternoon sun as they drove towards Sleipmon. Sleipmon was about to react, but stopped himself when he noticed something come into his field of view.

    “Spiral Masquerade!” a familiar voice shouted. Two long, yellow sashes whipped through the air and wrapped around Imperialdramon’s leg and claws, stopping it from getting any closer to Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon turned and saw his pink companion standing to the side. “RhodoKnightmon!” he said with a bit of relief.

    Still keeping the metal sashes taut, RhodoKnightmon dashed forwards and jumped into the air, raising the gold Pile Bunker in his right hand. “Urgent Fear!” he called out, slamming his Pile Bunker into Imperialdramon’s side. The tip of the Pile Bunker erupted with light, and the pressure from the blow sent Imperialdramon careening across the grassy field.

    Sleipmon took the opportunity to get himself back to his feet. When RhodoKnightmon landed, Sleipmon looked at him. “Thank you. Came right in the nick of time.”

    “Don’t mention it,” RhodoKnightmon replied, turning to him, but still keeping an eye on Imperialdramon, who was reeling from the blast. “What are you doing, Sleipmon? You’re not having trouble with a young, freshly Digivolved Mega level, surely.”

    “It’s not that simple. I’m trying to talk to him to bring him to his senses,” Sleipmon answered, dusting dirt off of his still-cold Niflheimr.

    “Sleipmon, dear, I believe that you’ve taken a leave of your senses if you think that that’s going to work,” RhodoKnightmon told him.

    “I can do it, Rhodo,” Sleipmon said with determination.

    “No, you can’t,” RhodoKnightmon replied, looking over at Imperialdramon.

    Sleipmon sneered with annoyance. “And what makes you so sure?”

    “Because it didn’t help with his grandfather,” RhodoKnightmon said pointedly.

    “What? His grandfather?” he asked, remembering Paildramon mentioning something about him before he evolved.

    “Yes. This very exact same situation happened to his grandfather over a decade ago. He evolved from Paildramon to that…” RhodoKnightmon beckoned at the frenzied dragon, who was scrambling to get up. He fired another aimless Positron Laser from his back as he did so. “And went rampant. His best friend, Moosemon’s father, tried to do what you’re doing, and he ended up dead. In fact, that’s why the two families dislike each other so much.”

    “What…?” Sleipmon asked in surprise. He turned to look at Imperialdramon.

    “Paildramons very often go rampant when they first evolve into Imperialdramon Dragon Mode. They can’t handle all that power,” RhodoKnightmon explained.

    “I know that,” Sleipmon retorted as he watched Imperialdramon stand to his feet and turn to them. “I think we should try to incapacitate him.”

    RhodoKnightmon frowned. “I--“

    “He’s coming,” Sleipmon interrupted. He nodded towards Imperialdramon as the dragon flapped his wings and charged at them.

    RhodoKnightmon looked and saw the unruly dragon charging towards them, with an ear-piercing screech. Imperialdramon hurled himself at them.

    Sleipmon quickly dashed to the side and RhodoKnightmon nimbly jumped away to avoid being rammed by the beast. Imperialdramon swung around, whipping his tail at Sleipmon and firing a Mega Death blast at RhodoKnightmon. The horse knight skidded to a stop and turned so that he could block the tail lash with his shield. RhodoKnightmon did a backwards somersault in the air to avoid being struck by the attack, instead, only being grazed by a bit of dark matter.

    “He’s getting more used to his new body. He still can’t control himself though,” Sleipmon said, sneering as he started circling clockwise around Imperialdramon.

    RhodoKnightmon glowered as he landed. “That’s exactly why—Look out!” he suddenly said, watching as Imperialdramon turned towards Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon looked up and saw Imperialdramon turn to him, taking aim with an already prepared Positron Laser blast. He narrowed his eyes and bolted into a full gallop, just as Imperialdramon fired.

    He heard the beam screech as it passed behind him, and he felt the end of his white tail get singed by the hot blast. Sleipmon slowed down before reaching the bank of the river and he looked over his shoulder to see the beam plow through the row of closed shops that he passed earlier, decimating them in a horrible explosion. Sleipmon grimaced and hurried over to RhodoKnightmon. He hoped that the shops had been unoccupied.

    “Can you get him with your sashes?” Sleipmon asked RhodoKnightmon. “If you can hold him in place, I can neutralize him with Odin’s Breath.”

    “Can you, though?” RhodoKnightmon responded, glancing over at Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon eyed him. “What do you mean?”

    “I mean I think that we need to delete him,” RhodoKnightmon replied coolly.

    As his eyes widened in shock, Sleipmon jerked his head to look at his fellow Royal Knight. “What?!” he demanded. “Delete him?!”

    “He’s out of control, Sleipmon! Can’t you see that?!” RhodoKnightmon protested. “He’s rampant. He’s not going to stop no matter how much we restrain him!”

    “So you want us to kill him?!” Sleipmon retorted with a look of repulsion and dismay on his face. “He’s only a kid! I knew you could be ruthless on missions, RhodoKnightmon, but I never thought you’d suggest something like that.”

    “Get off your moral high horse, Sleipmon,” RhodoKnightmon shot back icily. “You’re truly naïve if you think that we have any viable alternatives.”

    Sleipmon was about to reply, but Imperialdramon was on the move again. The frenzied Digimon launched another Mega Death attack from his mouth at them. The two Royal Knights were fortunately fast enough to dodge it, both breaking off in opposite directions.

    The swirling orb of compressed dark matter ripped by them and slammed into the river. When it exploded, there was a gigantic eruption of water that went as high as fifty meters into the air. The flow of the river stalled as water started pooling in the large impact crater in the middle of the river, and cascades of water fell over the field and the three Digimon.

    Imperialdramon then turned away from the two Royal Knights. He flapped his wings strongly and took flight, rising into the air and heading towards the town of Mossridge.

    “Sleipmon!” RhodoKnightmon called out, ignoring the water droplets pelting his armour. “He’s heading for the town! Stop him!”

    Sleipmon grimaced. “Damn it… Damn it!” He reluctantly raised his Muspellsheimr crossbow, drew an arrow from inside the Niflheimr and aimed it precisely at Imperialdramon. “Bifröst!”

    An incandescent bolt fired from the Muspellsheimr. The arrow tore through the air and pierced one of Imperialdramon’s wings. The dragon let out a roar of pain and fell to the grass with a crash before he could get too high.

    Sleipmon grunted and loaded another bolt into his crossbow. “See? We can incapacitate him!” he insisted. “He can’t fly now!”

    “The rest of his body still works,” RhodoKnightmon countered. “How do you plan on disabling his cannon? And did you happen to bring a muzzle big enough to keep him from blasting away with his mouth?”

    The cavalier hissed with annoyance. “I’m telling you, I just need to freeze him to incapacitate him!” he shot back in frustration.

    “A giant Digimon like him, Sleipmon?” RhodoKnightmon said, glaring. “You know far better than I do that your Odin’s Breath attack isn’t instantaneous. With smaller Digimon it’s a different story, but I would guess it would take at least two minutes for it to work on him. And do you think he would just patiently sit by and let you?”

    “That’s why I want you to hold him,” Sleipmon said in an icy cold voice.

    “My sashes would hold, but I wouldn’t be able to. Not for long against somebody of his size and strength. Certainly not for as long as you need.”

    “It won’t take that long.”

    “I’m not willing to take that chance,” the pink-armoured knight insisted sternly.

    Sleipmon grunted. “At this rate, he’ll tire himself out anyways!” he protested.

    “And, until then, we let him go wild and destroy Mossridge and its inhabitants?”

    “Did I say that?!” Sleipmon asked, growing more annoyed with his companion.

    “That’s what will happen if we leave him as he is,” RhodoKnightmon said coldly. “We need to kill him, Sleipmon.”

    Sleipmon glared at him. “You callous… There has to be a better way than to kill him. I know there is,” he insisted, trying to retain his composure.

    “It seems like the best and only option to me,” RhodoKnightmon said, hardening his gaze.

    Sleipmon returned the hard stare with one of his own. “You’re conveniently forgetting about protocol, RhodoKnightmon,” he told him. “The protocol for dealing with rampant Digimon is to incapacitate them.”

    “It seems you’re also conveniently forgetting about protocol,” RhodoKnightmon countered. “It’s to incapacitate them unless absolutely necessary to kill them. It is absolutely necessary, in my opinion.”

    “Well, it’s not necessary, in my opinion,” Sleipmon answered, glancing at Imperialdramon, who was still recovering from the fall he took.

    “That’s because you’re letting your heart rule your brain again, Sleipmon,” RhodoKnightmon said. “You grew attached to him when we came here. As a result, you’re not thinking rationally.”

    “It’s not his fault. We can’t punish him for this,” the red digizoid clad knight told him.

    “It’s not about punishment. He’s a danger to the Digimon of Mossridge,” the pink knight replied. “It’s a sad situation but we simply need to do away with him.”

    “It’s against protocol…”

    “It’s not, because Imperialdramon is an immediate threat and he cannot be contained.”

    “No… No, I won’t allow it,” Sleipmon spoke lowly. He slowly turned to leer at RhodoKnightmon. “I remember that I don’t like this side of you, Rhodo… You have no compassion,” he said to him with a cold stare, letting his eyes linger before looking away.

    RhodoKnightmon was silent for a few moments. He finally replied, “There’s no room for compassion when it comes to the defence of the Digital World.”

    Sleipmon turned to him with a new passion in his eyes. “Yes, there is!” he answered ardently. “There always is! It’s in our job, duty, and code, as Royal Knights, to have compassion!”

    “Not to evil Digimon,” RhodoKnightmon argued.

    “He’s not evil!” Sleipmon countered.

    “He’s destructive! He’ll tear this place apart, you naïve fool!” RhodoKnightmon shouted, losing his patience with Sleipmon. “This isn’t altruism on your part; this is you being selfish! You’re willing to endanger the lives of all these other Digimon all so that you won’t have to deal with the guilt of killing somebody!”

    Sleipmon’s eyes widened with sudden anger. “What?! Me being selfish?! You’re the selfish one! You’re just looking for a quick solution because taking the time to incapacitate him would be too difficult and you’re too lazy for something like that! Unlike you, I actually care about all Digimon. And unlike you, I know the value of a life, because I actually have killed somebody once before! I guess Digimon like you get desensitized to it after a while, do you?”

    RhodoKnightmon stared at him quietly. Suddenly, RhodoKnightmon’s four sashes whipped forwards and wrapped around Sleipmon’s arms and upper body.

    Sleipmon tensed up, beginning to struggle. “Wh-Hey!” he protested in shock and confusion. He knew that their argument was getting heated, but he didn’t think it was so bad that RhodoKnightmon would grab him out of anger. He almost worried that a punch from the Pile Bunker would be next.

    “Get out of the way!” RhodoKnightmon shouted abruptly.

    “What?!” Sleipmon responded in surprise.

    Before he could say anything else, RhodoKnightmon spun around, yanking on the four metal sashes hard enough to jerk Sleipmon to the side and send him stumbling. With Sleipmon being too heavy to be able to lift up, it was the best he could do to keep him from getting hit by the oncoming dragon.

    Sleipmon stumbled and tried to catch himself from the sudden pull, but all he could do was keep up the running canter or else end up tripping. He looked over his shoulder and his gold wing to see what was going on. To his surprise, Imperialdramon was bursting towards them, dashing at a frightening speed and swiftly closing in. Thanks to RhodoKnightmon, Sleipmon was able to avoid getting hit by the careening dragon, but RhodoKnightmon took the full brunt of the painful collision.

    RhodoKnightmon grunted in pain as Imperialdramon slammed into his side and sent him flying through the air. He hit the ground hard and rolled over the grass a couple of times before stabbing his sash-blades into the earth to stop himself.

    “Rhodo!” Sleipmon called out, turning towards him in shock and worry.

    Before he could react, Imperialdramon descended on his fellow knight with his large feet and talons. RhodoKnightmon reacted quickly, shoving his Pile Bunker up towards the dragon Digimon’s descending claws.

    “Urgent Fear!” he announced.

    The Pile Bunker’s tip exploded with compressed power upon contact with the sole of Imperialdramon’s foot, sending a massive shock all the way up his leg and making the whole thing jerk up towards his body. Imperialdramon roared out in pain, but RhodoKnightmon’s attack couldn’t stop gravity from pulling Imperialdramon’s body down towards him.

    Imperialdramon used that to his advantage and sent his other set of claws crashing down on RhodoKnightmon’s armoured body. RhodoKnightmon grunted with effort upon catching the dragon’s foot in his hands. He sneered and pushed back against it with all of his might to keep it from crushing him.

    “Rhodo! Are you alright?!” Sleipmon called out, rushing over.

    Imperialdramon continued pushing down and swept his long tail out, hoping to catch Sleipmon with it. The horse knight darted to the right to avoid the swing but had to retreat slightly when Imperialdramon stabbed at him with the long blade on his free foreleg.

    “A little help would be lovely!” RhodoKnightmon responded, grunting as he pushed the dragon’s claws back inches only for him to lose the progress that he made.

    Sleipmon grimaced and circled around to face them, standing about ten meters away. “I can’t use Odin’s Breath. I’d end up freezing you both!” he told him.

    “That means you have to shoot him!” RhodoKnightmon called over to him. He had to focus all of his attention on pushing with his arms to keep himself from getting stepped on and stabbed, leaving him unable to use his sashes to assist him.

    The six-legged Royal Knight glanced down at his Muspellsheimr crossbow. “There… has to be another way,” he replied, more to himself than to RhodoKnightmon.

    “There isn’t!” RhodoKnightmon shouted to him. “Call me selfish if you want, but I don’t exactly want to end up being crushed or frozen!”

    “Give me time to think!” Sleipmon said, more in a begging tone than a commanding one. He grimaced, his eyes running side to side as he tried to think of a way that he could both save RhodoKnightmon and spare Imperialdramon.

    “I don’t have a whole lot of time to give, I’m afraid!” RhodoKnightmon retorted, grunting as he gave another burst of effort to push Imperialdramon’s foot back.

    Sleipmon frowned deeper and tried to think as quickly as he could. He couldn’t shoot Imperialdramon’s leg because it was too heavily armoured. The only parts of Imperialdramon’s body that weren’t protected by armour were his neck and tail. Firing at his neck would be lethal, and hitting his tail would just prove to be a source of anger. He supposed there was a slight gap around Imperialdramon’s shoulders, but he wasn’t comfortable that he could make that shot; Imperialdramon was moving around way too erratically, and there was a high chance he could hit his armour or neck instead. He didn’t want to shoot him in the neck or head, but…

    The Royal Knight could see that RhodoKnightmon’s arms were trembling. He knew that pure force of strength wasn’t RhodoKnightmon’s greatest skill. He didn’t know how much longer Rhodo would be able to hold against the dragon.

    As the seconds went on, Sleipmon was beginning to feel even more torn. He didn’t want to hurt Imperialdramon for something that wasn’t his fault, but he didn’t want his friend or the citizens of Mossridge to get hurt because he wouldn’t do anything.

    “Do something, Sleipmon!” RhodoKnightmon yelled out. “I can’t hold out much longer! You have to shoot him!”

    “I can’t!” Sleipmon said in response.

    “Please, Sleipmon! If not for me, than for the Digimon of Mossridge!” RhodoKnightmon insisted.

    Sleipmon grimaced down at the arrow that was loaded in the Muspellsheimr.

    “I… don’t know…” he murmured in a low, grave voice.

    Imperialdramon growled down at RhodoKnightmon, getting frustrated at his slow progress. He raised his free foreleg up and aimed the long, jagged blade at RhodoKnightmon. With a roar, he stabbed it downwards.

    RhodoKnightmon grunted and swerved his body to the side just in time to avoid being skewered.

    Unable to see what happened from that angle, Sleipmon grew worried. “Rhodo! Are you alright?!” he called out.

    “I won’t be for much longer!” RhodoKnightmon replied in annoyance and desperation. “Stop dithering, Sleipmon! You need to kill him! You know it’s the only option, but you won’t admit it to yourself!”

    “There has to be another way!” Sleipmon protested.

    “You keep saying that but you still haven’t thought of one!” RhodoKnightmon said as Imperialdramon withdrew his spike from the ground.

    Imperialdramon growled and roared down at RhodoKnightmon. His gaping maw began to fill with black, crackling energy. The dark matter gathered in his mouth, and it became painfully clear to RhodoKnightmon that Imperialdramon was preparing a Mega Death attack.

    “You don’t have time anymore, Sleipmon!” RhodoKnightmon called to him. “He’s going to use Mega Death at point blank range! He has no sense of self-preservation right now; he could kill all three of us if he fires it like this!”

    Sleipmon grimaced and looked around in desperation in a last ditch hope to find something that he could use. He couldn’t find anything, and he looked down at his crossbow grimly. He slowly raised his arm, and the arm-mounted crossbow along with it. With a truly pained expression on his face, he circled in front of Imperialdramon to get a clearer shot.

    Once he felt satisfied with the position he was in, he stopped. Sleipmon raised the Muspellsheimr and took aim at Sleipmon’s head, aiming precisely.

    “I’m so sorry, Paildramon…” he whispered, preparing to fire…

    In that moment, a gust of wind swept from in front of him, blowing through his face. Sleipmon was a skilled enough archer that he could ignore the wind and adjust accordingly. However, he noticed something…

    What looked like a white leaf suddenly blew out of Imperialdramon’s chest armour. The leafy object floated and danced on the blast of wind. As it blew, it travelled towards Sleipmon, blocking his field of vision.

    Sleipmon grunted in mild annoyance, lowering his crossbow slightly. “What?” he asked, annoyed by the interruption, reluctantly acknowledging that he only had so much time until Imperialdramon fired his attack. The white thing flew over to him and got caught on the back of the Muspellsheimr, rustling in the wind.

    He sneered and raised his right hand to pick the thing off of his bow so that it didn’t tamper with his shot. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a piece of paper. The Royal Knight raised an eyebrow and turned it over to see if there was anything written on the other side.

    ’To Paildramon. May your hopes be fulfilled. From Sleipmon of the Royal Knights.’

    Sleipmon stared down at the piece of paper in his hand, stricken into silence. In that moment, he remembered Paildramon’s hopes and aspirations. He remembered the young dragon’s admiration for him. He remembered his own personal code, and why he joined the Royal Knights in the first place. He remembered how much he wanted to protect Digimon from harm...

    As he studied the note, a newfound determination swelled behind his steely, violet eyes.

    “Sleipmon! Hurry! He’s about to attack!” RhodoKnightmon called out to him, withdrawing his sashes from the ground, ready to act if Sleipmon wouldn’t.

    “I have an idea!” Sleipmon suddenly said.

    Sleipmon lowered his crossbow and placed his left hand on the edge of the Niflheimr shield. He pulled the Niflheimr off his arm, releasing his right arm from the inside straps of the shield. Then, he gripped the Niflheimr in his right hand and began to charge towards Imperialdramon and RhodoKnightmon. Imperialdramon’s mouth was brimming with dark matter and he reared his head back, about to fire it down on RhodoKnightmon.

    “What are you doing?!” RhodoKnightmon asked, looking behind him at Sleipmon.

    “Trust me!” Sleipmon fired back, drawing his arm back.

    With a sharp grunt and a mighty throw, he hurled the Niflheimr shield through the air. The heavy, red digizoid shield sailed into the air and slammed into Imperialdramon’s chin, jerking his head backwards and forcing him to redirect and fire his attack harmlessly upwards, into the sky.

    As the shield fell to the ground with a thud and as Imperialdramon released a roar, Sleipmon galloped across the grass field around Imperialdramon’s side. He circled around the dragon and started coming at him from behind. Sleipmon leapt into the air, pressed one hoof on Imperialdramon’s tail and propelled himself further onto the large dragon’s back.

    Sleipmon ran up Imperialdramon’s back at a full speed gallop. He took note of the giant cannon ahead of him, and how it could blast him at point blank range as soon as he got in front of it. He knew that he had to make this quick.

    The horse knight leapt over Imperialdramon’s cannon, his yellow wing features helping him to glide for a short time. He looked down and saw himself over Imperialdramon’s helmeted head.

    “Tactic Smear!” Sleipmon shouted out, just as he heard Imperialdramon beginning to build a Positron Laser blast below him. He shot his two front hooves down and slammed his solid heels onto Imperialdramon’s head. He pushed down and propelled himself off of it, slamming his middle pair of feet down, and finally kicking his skull with his hind hooves for good measure.

    Sleipmon bounded off Imperialdramon’s head and landed in the grass close to RhodoKnightmon. He turned around to look at Imperialdramon, inwardly praying that his plan to concuss him worked.

    Imperialdramon shook his head, dazed by the three mighty blows, and slowly turned his head to glare at Sleipmon. The Royal Knight’s heart sunk.

    The dragon’s two crimson eyes then dulled and his head began to tilt forwards. Imperialdramon lurched forwards unevenly, giving out a low, growling rumble. He moved his foot off of RhodoKnightmon and lost balance, falling to the left and collapsing on his side with a thunderous, earth-trembling crash. Imperialdramon didn’t get back up. He was unconscious.

    Sleipmon released a long, relieved sigh that he felt like he had been holding since Paildramon evolved. He turned to RhodoKnightmon, who slowly pulled himself to his feet.

    RhodoKnightmon looked over at Imperialdramon steadily. He then turned and gazed at Sleipmon. “You… managed to do it,” he said, panting slightly.

    “Somehow…” he uttered softly.

    “Paildramon! Paildramon!” a voice shouted out.

    The two Royal Knights turned to find the owner of the voice. They saw Veedramon dashing over from what was left of the riverside road. Moosemon was running behind him, and AeroVeedramon followed by wing.

    “Oh, Yggdrasil,” Veedramon said, running up to Imperialdramon with obvious worry in his eyes. “Paildramon!”

    “Stay away from him,” RhodoKnightmon commanded, walking over. “Please.”

    “He’s just unconscious,” Sleipmon added, going over as well. “We don’t know if he’s still unstable.”

    “Is he okay? At least tell me that much!” Veedramon pleaded. AeroVeedramon landed and put a hand on his brother’s shoulder.

    “Just a few bumps on the head,” Sleipmon assured him. “I knew his helmet would help cushion the impact. I’m hoping it’s enough to bring him to his senses.”

    “It will be very annoying if it’s not,” RhodoKnightmon muttered. He frowned and turned to AeroVeedramon. “So, you told your brother about this?” he asked him, a bit annoyed that Veedramon’s appearance could have caused a lot of trouble for them had he showed up a few minutes earlier.

    “What?” AeroVeedramon asked.

    “I did,” Moosemon told him, stepping forwards.

    “You?” RhodoKnightmon asked, surprised.

    Moosemon nodded, grimacing a bit. “I felt he had a right to know.”

    “Pardon me for saying so, but I thought you didn’t care,” RhodoKnightmon said, putting his hands on his hips.

    “I guess this situation made me think clearer, somehow…” the Mayor answered. “When I saw Veedramon as we were evacuating, I couldn’t help but feel bad for him. I mean, Paildramon is his son… I know… No, all three of us know the type of bond a father and son can have. We each lost ours, after all…”

    “Life’s too precious to waste time on blaming others,” AeroVeedramon concurred, glancing at Moosemon.

    Veedramon slowly nodded, squatting down and gently rubbing Imperialdramon’s claws.

    “I’m glad you think so,” RhodoKnightmon said to them.

    Sleipmon nodded and looked at Imperialdramon thoughtfully.

    Imperialdramon’s eyelids flickered and tensed, and a soft breath escaped his nostrils.

    “He’s waking up,” Sleipmon cautioned everybody, a little bit concerned that he was unconscious only for a minute.

    “Get back!” RhodoKnightmon ordered Veedramon, who promptly did so.

    Sleipmon readied his crossbow and shield, while RhodoKnightmon gripped his sash-blades like swords.

    Imperialdramon’s eyes slowly opened, the crimson orbs grimacing as the light of the bright sunset suddenly hit them. He slowly turned his gaze up to stare at Sleipmon.

    “…Sleip…mon…?” he asked in a tired, befuddled voice.

    Sleipmon’s mouth curved into a broad, relieved smile and he let out a short laugh. “You’re back…”

    Veedramon’s eyes widened. “Does that mean… he’s okay?” he asked, looking to the Royal Knights.

    “I believe that’s the case…” RhodoKnightmon answered, looking at Imperialdramon.

    “What… What happened…?” Imperialdramon asked. He cringed in pain and let out a deep groan. “I feel weird… and I have a huge headache… and my wing hurts a lot…”

    “That’s because you evolved…” Sleipmon explained, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t try to get up. You might get dizzy or trip.”

    Imperialdramon blinked and slowly turned his head down to look at himself. “I… evolved…?” he asked in a groggy voice. “I don’t remember… I never blacked out the other times I digivolved.”

    “Digimon typically black out when they go rampant,” RhodoKnightmon informed him, folding his arms. “You caused an awful lot of trouble, you know…”

    “You lost control,” Sleipmon said, rubbing his shoulder. “You couldn’t handle the power of this form. It’s common for Digimon when they first become Imperialdramon.”

    “It can sometimes be avoided depending on the Digimon’s willpower or if there’s another Imperialdramon there to help them through it,” RhodoKnightmon explained.

    Imperialdramon shut his eyes tightly, grunting sharply. “I… lost control…?” he asked, a sharp note of guilt touching his voice. “Just like Granddad…?”

    “It’s alright, Pail—“ Veedramon stopped himself as he went back to holding his claws. “Imperialdramon…” he corrected reassuringly.

    Imperialdramon kept his eyes firmly shut. “…Did I hurt anybody?” he whispered, the shame obvious in his words. He slowly curled his wings down around his body.

    “No…” Sleipmon assured him. “You just destroyed several buildings.”

    “Oh…” he responded in a deep, growly, broken voice. The Royal Knights noticed a tear forming in his large, closed eye. His eyelid tensed and the tear trickled down his snout. “I’m so ashamed…” he whimpered.

    Moosemon frowned and stepped forwards. “…Don’t be,” he said to the young dragon. “It’s not your fault. Something like this… is just a terrible accident. We can repair the damage… I’m sure you’d like to help us, wouldn’t you?” He offered a small smile.

    Imperialdramon nodded and opened his red, wet eyes. “Please… I’ll do anything…” he replied. He sniffed and looked at Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon. “I’m so sorry… You guys stopped me, didn’t you?”

    “Sleipmon did most of the work,” RhodoKnightmon said to him, glancing over at the horseman.

    “That’s not true,” Sleipmon insisted, looking back at RhodoKnightmon. He looked at Imperialdramon. “Don’t worry about it… By the way, hold out your claws. I have something for you.” He smiled warmly at the dragon.

    Imperialdramon slowly held out his palm, in which Sleipmon placed the piece of paper that had flown out of the dragon’s armour. “Huh…?” he asked, looking closer at the piece of paper.

    “It’s the autograph I gave you earlier,” Sleipmon replied. “You dropped it after you digivolved.”

    “Th… Thank you…” he responded, looking up at the Royal Knight he admired.

    “By the way, the offer is still open… The one about you applying for the Order when you’re older,” Sleipmon said.

    Imperialdramon looked at him with shock and gratitude. “Even after all this?” he asked tearfully. “I… I don’t know what to say… You’re too nice.”

    “You should be grateful that he is,” RhodoKnightmon told him, though he was sure Imperialdramon wouldn’t pick up the implications of what he meant.

    “I am…” Imperialdramon murmured.

    Moosemon turned to the Royal Knights and chuckled. “I suppose this will go into your report,” he said uncomfortably.

    “You can bet on it,” RhodoKnightmon replied. “However, how will you deal with what happened?”

    Moosemon frowned. “Well… I’ll need to give AeroVeedramon his job back, for starters,” he explained, looking over at the winged dragon man nearby.

    AeroVeedramon looked at him with surprise. “Are you sure, Moosemon?”

    “I’ll need the help,” he told him with a small smile. “I want to rebuild what was destroyed in the town, and I’d like to rebuild something else as well.”

    AeroVeedramon smiled. “That’s big of you.”

    “I’m only doing what Dad would have done,” he replied.

    “Aww. That’s rather cute,” RhodoKnightmon spoke, smiling a bit. “I’m beginning to pair you two.”

    They both looked at him with confusion. “Pardon?”

    Sleipmon grinned and raised his hand. “Never mind,” he told them, turning to Imperialdramon. “So, how are you feeling? In complete control now?”

    Imperialdramon nodded weakly. “Just sore and dizzy… and really, really tired…” he responded.

    Veedramon grinned and patted his arm. “Your wing will heal. We’ll get you home,” he told him. He looked up to where their home used to be and saw only a massive, smoking crater surrounded by unearthed dirt. “…Oh right.”

    “We’ll sort something out, right, Moosemon?” AeroVeedramon said, looking over.

    Moosemon looked back at him and smiled. “Yeah, we will.”

    RhodoKnightmon glanced at them and placed his hands on his hips. “Mhm. Mhm. Totally a cute couple,” he said. “Anyways, I suppose that means you three can handle things here?”

    “I believe so,” Moosemon replied. He looked at Imperialdramon. “Well… Will he be fine now?”

    “Yes. If Imperialdramons can get over that first bout of instability, they are usually completely fine from then on. A few rare cases aside, that is,” RhodoKnightmon replied.

    “We’ll keep in touch to see how things are getting on,” Sleipmon said to them. “If there’s anything any of you need, just send a messenger or a letter.”

    “Thank you,” Veedramon said to them with a heartfelt expression.

    Imperialdramon looked over at them. “Yeah… For everything,” he added. He managed a small, toothy smile in Sleipmon’s direction.

    Sleipmon smiled back at him. “We’re just doing our jobs,” he insisted. “Well, we should be off now. It’s sunset.”

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “I suppose they’ll have started cooking without me,” he mused aloud, sighing.

    “Again, thanks for everything,” the mayor said to them. “I hope our next inspection goes better.”

    “We’re expecting great things,” RhodoKnightmon chimed, turning and beginning to walk east towards the road that led away from Mossridge.

    Sleipmon nodded and smiled, casting one more look to Imperialdramon. “I hope to see you in a year or so,” he told him. A wry grin formed on his face. “Don’t train too hard though.”

    Imperialdramon chuckled sheepishly. “I’ll try not to…” he responded. “…Bye, Sleipmon.”

    “Goodbye,” Sleipmon told him, turning away and trotting after RhodoKnightmon.

    -

    (Continued on the next page)
     
  5. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued)

    The two Royal Knights walked side-by-side up a dirt path leading north, towards the Royal Knights’ territory. Dusk was setting in and the sky was a dark blue except for the soft glow of red on the horizon. A crisp wind blew across the grassy fields surrounding them.

    RhodoKnightmon looked over at Sleipmon. “So… throwing your shield…” he said, looking at his fellow knight with amusement.

    Sleipmon grinned sheepishly and scratched his cheek with his index finger. “I started thinking about the Royal Knights and I got a bit of inspiration from Dukemon,” he admitted.

    “Unconventional and reckless?” RhodoKnightmon asked with a light chuckle. “Yes, I can see the relation now.”

    There was a short pause between them.

    “You know…” Rhodo spoke, “That won’t work every single time…”

    Sleipmon frowned a bit. He knew that his comrade was talking about his attempts to incapacitate Digimon. “I know…” he replied. “That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try, though.”

    “I know…” RhodoKnightmon said in response, looking forwards. He was quiet for a few moments before deciding to speak up again. “…I also know that I can get very… intense during missions,” he explained. “All that said, I am happy that you were able to stop Imperialdramon without deleting him. I didn’t want to kill him, I hope you know.”

    Sleipmon sighed a bit. “Yes… I know. You were just looking out for the other Digimon,” he said.

    “We have different ways of doing things, I suppose…” RhodoKnightmon guessed. He looked over at Sleipmon. “It really wasn’t because I’m lazy and wanted a quick fix that I suggested deletion, you know…”

    Sleipmon nodded. He grimaced and looked down at RhodoKnightmon apologetically. “I’m sorry, Rhodo. I said some mean things back there,” he confessed. “You’re not heartless; you did save me from getting hit, after all.”

    RhodoKnightmon looked up at him. “…Aw, I can’t stay mad at those sad, adorable eyes,” he answered, grinning behind his helmet. “Although… I owe you a few apologies as well. You were right about Imperialdramon, and I was wrong to call you selfish. In fact, you’re probably the most selfless Digimon that I have the pleasure of knowing.”

    The large cavalier smiled slowly. “I appreciate that…” Sleipmon paused and looked over at him. “I still can’t say I agree with you though…”

    “I disagree with you as well, I’m afraid,” RhodoKnightmon told him. “I do understand you though.”

    Sleipmon nodded in agreement. “I understand your point of view too…” he responded. “If we can do that, I’m sure we’ll be fine in the future…”

    A calm silence ensued as the last bit of sun disappeared over the grassy horizon.

    “So… How about it?” RhodoKnightmon suddenly asked him as they walked onto the familiar road in their territory.

    Sleipmon raised an eyebrow and looked down at his fellow Royal Knight. “How about what?” he asked.

    RhodoKnightmon turned his head towards Sleipmon while he walked, looking the knight’s big body up and down.

    “Would you like to have make up sex?”

    Sleipmon sighed.

    “No... No, I wouldn’t.”
     
  6. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Author's Notes: Another two parter... that won't fit in Serebii's character limits. That's an annoyance. I'm trying to make the chapters after this shorter. Let's hope it works.)

    Chapter 12: Like Night and Day (Part I)​


    The morning sun beamed through the windows of the Royal Knights’ headquarters, lighting up the walls of the stone hallways. Dynasmon walked down a corridor, the rays of light gleaming off of his freshly polished, white armour and his glossy, red eyes.

    “I think I can guess where he is…” he muttered to himself, taking a large, thick bite of the apple in his hand immediately after speaking.

    Dynasmon tucked his violet wings back as he turned a corner and walked down a flight of stairs, into the underground level of the castle. Upon reaching the bottom level, he kept heading down the hallway, continuing to munch on his apple as he did. He stopped in front of a large set of wooden doors in an alcove. Pinned on the door was a long list titled ‘Rules and Etiquette of the Royal Knight’s Library’ in neat, eloquent DigiLetters.

    “Oh, great. He made a new one,” Dynasmon muttered, rolling his eyes and noting the new rule on the bottom saying, ‘Do not remove this list.’ It was written just below a subsection rule that read: ‘If bringing new literature into the library, smutty material is strictly forbidden. You know who you are, Dynasmon.

    “If I know Duftmon, he’ll probably be in here,” he remarked, pushing the doors open with his big claws.

    As he pushed the thick, intricately designed slabs of wood open, he was met with a gust of warm air and the stuffy scent of old paper. Dynasmon stepped into the castle library: a fairly large-sized room with multiple long rows of bookshelves towering at fourteen feet high and stretching two thirds of the length of the library. The shelves were loaded with literature, although not all of the shelves were totally filled. The library was finely organized into sections based on genre, such as differing types of fiction – adventure stories, historical fiction, romance, poems, mystery, etc. – and non-fiction – literature on science, history, military strategy, Digimon, among various other things. The non-fiction greatly outweighed the fiction in number. These sections were consequently grouped into tomes, books, compendiums, novels, and scrolls, and then alphabetized for maximum order and ease of access.

    To the left of Dynasmon was a perfectly arranged desk with a notebook on top, opened up. When checking out a book, one would write down their name, the title of the book, the date it was checked out, and the date it was expected to be returned.

    Between the shelves and the entrance, there were several tables and chairs where Digimon could read without having to check out a book, and there were more at the back of the library, as well. Dynasmon couldn’t spot Duftmon among the couple Digimon at the front of the library, so he started making his way down one of the aisles.

    Dynasmon walked down the aisle, flanked by books. He wasn’t sure what section he was in since he didn’t go in the library all that often. He finished the rest of his apple, leaving only the core in his hand as he reached the back of the library where there were lots of tables and chairs neatly arranged. To his satisfaction, Dynasmon noticed the Royal Knight clad in leopard armour sitting at one of the tables, reading a book. The dragon man grinned and walked over to him. “Hey, Duftmon!” he greeted.

    “You have already managed to break two rules,” Duftmon said in a quiet tone, not looking up from his book, which was titled, ‘The History of the Metal Empire by Datamon of Facture’.

    “…Huh?” Dynasmon asked, stopping on the opposite side of the table from Duftmon and eyeing him with confusion.

    “One, you are speaking loudly and disruptively. Two, you are eating in the library,” Duftmon explained, his eyes still scanning the page.

    “I finished eating, you know,” Dynasmon replied dryly, folding his muscular arms.

    Duftmon put his book down and rubbed the bridge of his nose with a slender hand. “Have you gotten lost, Dynasmon?” he asked him, looking over with subdued annoyance. “I cannot think of another reason of why you are here in the library.” He narrowed his green eyes slowly. “You aren’t here to contaminate the library with your disgusting books about scantily clad female Digimon, are you? It clearly states in the rules--”

    Dynasmon raised his hand to stop the leopard knight. “Relax, Duftmon. I only came here to find you.”

    “I am very busy,” Duftmon responded curtly. He looked him over. “Why are you dressed in your armour rather than those tatters you call clothes?”

    He rolled his eyes. “Alphamon is summoning the Royal Knights for a meeting,” Dynasmon told him.

    Duftmon sighed. “Very well,” he replied, standing up and closing the thick book. “Duties before pleasure.”

    Dynasmon eyed the book in Duftmon’s hand. “That’s ‘pleasure’?” he thought to himself with an ironic grin. “Well, this is Duftmon we’re talking about…

    The brown armoured knight stood up and walked past Dynasmon, carrying the book in his hands. Dynasmon placed his apple core on the table that Duftmon was previously at and made to follow him. Duftmon looked over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing?” Duftmon asked. He eyed the apple core. “You aren’t seriously going to leave that trash there.”

    Dynasmon blinked and looked behind him at the remainders of the apple. “Uh… Somebody else will clean it up.”

    “You will clean it up, you irresponsible sloven,” Duftmon told him sternly. “I will not have this place of learning turned into a rubbish deposit.”

    “…From one apple core?” Dynasmon asked, chuckling to himself and going to pick it up. “You really are a neat freak, Duftmon. Emphasis on the ‘freak’.”

    “Laugh if it pleases you, but I’ve seen the inside of your room. Not to mention the smells coming from it,” the strategist countered, making his way down the aisle.

    “That’s the smell of man, Duftmon,” he explained proudly. “Though I don’t expect you to know what that smells like. You spend as much time grooming yourself in the bathroom as RhodoKnightmon. Do you go into Leopard Mode and brush your fur too?”

    “I don’t have to answer that,” Duftmon answered as he walked to the non-fiction history section of the library and very carefully put the book back in its proper alphabetical spot.

    “No, I guess you don’t,” Dynasmon teased, walking past the Royal Knight and out into the alcove.

    Duftmon pushed the book in fully before turning to follow the dragon man. “Do you know what the meeting is about?” he asked him.

    “No, but I’m guessing it’s about some of the things that went on yesterday. Sleipmon and Rhodo came back looking a little worse for wear,” the white-armoured dragon observed.

    “I suppose we shall see,” Duftmon said, walking behind Dynasmon as they made it to the stairs. He tried to pass the large Royal Knight ahead of him but found he wasn’t able to pass him due to his outstretched wingspan. He frowned with mild irritation. “Don’t you know that it is rude not to tuck back your wings while walking?

    Dynasmon glanced over his shoulder. “It’s also rude to call someone an irresponsible sloven, along with many of the other things you do,” he reminded him with a grin.

    “That is beside the point,” Duftmon responded sternly. “Stop being childish and tuck back your wings so that I can pass.

    “Like this?” he asked innocently, sweeping his wings back behind him where Duftmon was so that they lightly whacked the knight and got in his face and personal space.

    “Gah! D-Dynasmon!” he sputtered in surprise and annoyance, raising his hands and angrily pushing the violet wings away from him. “You immature dunderhead!”

    As Dynasmon chuckled at his uptight companion, Duftmon shoved past him in a huff. As the leopard knight sped up, Dynasmon followed him and eyed the two wings sprouting out from the backs of his shoulders. “Don’t forget to tuck your wings back, Duftmon!” he reminded him playfully, causing a growl from the Digimon in question.

    The two Royal Knights made their way down a corridor to the castle foyer, where they turned left into the great hall. Upon entering, they could see that, on the opposite end of the hall, the doors of the council chamber had been propped open until the rest of the Royal Knights arrived. They noticed the familiar red cape of Dukemon among the Digimon’s bodies moving around as they got settled in.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon made it across the great hall and walked into the council room.

    “Dynasmon, close those, please,” Alphamon’s deep, authoritative voice rang out from the Siege Perilous. “Everybody’s here now.”

    Dynasmon closed the two double doors and sat down at his seat at the round, white table. The eleven knights sat in their seats, and OuRyuumon and Zero ARMS: Grani hovered behind Alphamon and Dukemon, respectively.

    Duftmon eyed Alphamon’s friend and the leader of the reconnaissance squadrons, wondering why they were there. “Why are they here as well?” he asked tactlessly.

    “We have just as much right to be here as you do, pussy cat!” OuRyuumon retorted defensively.

    Grani rolled his eyes. “I have relevant information, Duftmon,” he explained.

    Dukemon smirked and nudged Examon’s winged arm with his elbow. “See? It’s not just you he alienates,” he whispered.

    Examon gave a single, light chuckle. “I’m beginning to see that,” he whispered in reply.

    OuRyuumon glared over at Examon, folding his arms. “What are you laughing at, tent wings?” he growled, mistaking Examon’s laugh for a sarcastic response to what he said.

    “’Tent wings’?” UlforceVeedramon asked with a laugh. “Is that the best you can come up with? There are loads of overcompensation jokes you could make about dear, old Ex-sama. I should really take you under my wing, OuRyuumon. Oh, now there’s a good wing joke. The last Digimon who Ex-sama took under his wing got agoraphobia.”

    Alphamon raised his hand and gently palmed his face. “We’re off to a great start,” he muttered in exasperation as the talking started to escalate.

    “So it seems…” Omegamon mumbled beside him.

    Alphamon’s gaze hardened and he stood up, commanding attention. “Enough, everyone!” the Aloof Hermit said sternly, silencing the chatter. “Normally, I have patience for your bickering and jokes, but I’m in short supply of that today.”

    The air of seriousness that the room and statuses commanded swept back over everybody.

    “We’re sorry, Alphamon,” Magnamon apologized.

    “Is something wrong?” UlforceVeedramon asked, the smile gone from his face.

    “Yes…” Alphamon admitted, sitting back down. “But we’ll get to that after. First, Sleipmon, RhodoKnightmon. Tell us what happened at the inspection yesterday.”

    RhodoKnightmon frowned and crossed his arms. “But, Alphamon. We have written everything up in our reports,” he told him. “Why must we explain?”

    “With what’s going on, not everybody may have the time to read over your reports,” Alphamon answered in a weighty, foreboding tone.

    “Ominous…” Dynasmon said aloud, eyeing Alphamon.

    “Yes, it is,” was Alphamon’s reply. “Try to make it quick, please.”

    Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon glanced at one another. “Very well…” Sleipmon said, starting them off. “As you all know, RhodoKnightmon and I went to Mossridge for a routine inspection.”

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “While there, we found that there was a bit of a dispute taking place between two families: Moosemon, the mayor, and Veedramon and AeroVeedramon, two of his advisors,” he explained. “Apparently they couldn’t stand each other due to an incident over a decade ago where a newly digivolved Imperialdramon went rampant in the town.”

    Examon’s eyes narrowed softly at what he heard.

    “Went rampant?” Magnamon asked.

    “Yes. That Imperialdramon was Veedramon and AeroVeedramon’s father,” RhodoKnightmon told them. “He destroyed a quarter of the town, along with his best friend, who had been trying to stop him.”

    Examon’s fists suddenly clenched and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat, repositioning himself as if he had just sat on his tail. He turned his gaze away from the Royal Knights’ eyes and faces, instead finding himself looking over at the stained glass window of Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.

    Dukemon couldn’t help but notice the actions of the dragon sitting beside him, but he thought nothing of it and looked at RhodoKnightmon and Sleipmon. “Go on…”

    “The Digimon that he killed was a Pegasusmon. Moosemon’s father,” Sleipmon explained. “After Imperialdramon calmed down, his friend’s family was understandably furious with him. I’m sure many things were said, and he already felt deep guilt over what happened, so he eventually killed himself. Those events are what started the animosity.”

    “That’s terrible,” Magnamon said sympathetically.

    “Yes…” Sleipmon said softly. “Anyways… The same thing happened to Veedramon’s son, Paildramon, yesterday. He evolved to Imperialdramon and couldn’t handle the evolution. He started to run rampant, so Rhodo and I had to stop him.”

    “How did that end?” Craniamon asked cuirously.

    “After a dangerous amount of time, Sleipmon was able to incapacitate him,” RhodoKnightmon said, glancing at the horse knight. “Though I had initially suggested a quicker method.”

    “I’m just glad nobody was hurt,” Sleipmon said with a small smile.

    Examon’s frowned, looking away from the mosaic and back down at the pristine white table top. “You won’t always be so lucky with tactics like that,” he spoke suddenly and brusquely, surprising several of the Royal Knights.

    Dukemon looked at him with a frown, and the smile vanished from Sleipmon’s face, which turned to silently gaze at Examon.

    “I agree with Examon on this matter,” Duftmon announced, surprising everybody just as much that he didn’t disagree on principle. “Soft, half-hearted approaches like that are doomed to end in disaster. Certainty in battle is a necessity.”

    “Nothing is certain,” Dukemon spoke up in Sleipmon’s defence. “I think that was the right thing to do, Sleipmon.”

    “Thank you,” Sleipmon replied, though still eyeing Examon for a few more seconds. “Well, that’s about it. We contained the situation and the family feud was settled.”

    “I see… Thank you, you two,” Alphamon told them. “I’m glad you sorted things without any fatalities.”

    Sleipmon nodded. He looked at Alphamon a bit nervously. “So… what’s next?”

    “Yeah. What’s making you so serious?” UlforceVeedramon asked. “Well, more serious than usual…”

    Dukemon exchanged looks with Alphamon. “Want me to answer that?” he asked his commander.

    Alphamon shook his head. “It’s fine, Dukemon,” he assured him. The leader of the Royal Knights turned looked around the table. “It’s about what Dukemon, Craniamon, Grani, and Examon found yesterday, when they went to investigate the rift that was found in Dusk Forest.”

    “You’re going to explain why you and Dukemon seemed so tense when we reported back yesterday evening?” Craniamon asked, leering at Alphamon curiously.

    Examon looked at him as well. He, too, was curious. He only knew what he and Craniamon observed, not the larger implications of whatever it meant.

    “I’ll get to that… Let’s start with what you found,” Alphamon told him.

    “The rift that’s releasing dark data?” Craniamon asked, folding his arms. “It grew bigger. Didn’t it, Examon?”

    Examon nodded, remembering that it was much shorter when they first came across it. “Definitely. It’s about a half meter longer and a few centimeters wider across.”

    “It’s releasing more dark data too,” Craniamon added shortly. “Nobody wanted to risk getting close.”

    Dukemon frowned and nodded. He secretly hadn’t wanted to get close himself; for fear that it might react with his Digital Hazard.

    “Dusk Forest is no longer safe,” Grani spoke up. “It’s on complete lockdown. We don’t want more Darkdramon situations happening.”

    “That doesn’t sound good,” Magnamon said, a pensive look in his eyes. “Maybe I should go down there. The holy power of Miracles might be able to counterbalance the dark data,” he suggested.

    “Perhaps,” Alphamon agreed. “We were thinking something like that yesterday, actually. That’s why I contacted the Warrior Ten over the communication program. I wanted to get AncientGarurumon and Anubismon down to Dusk Forest, since they’re the Warrior of Light and the Warrior of Darkness. I hoped they might be able to use their powers to do something about it. Anyways, KaiserGreymon and I talked, and that’s when I found out something.”

    “What might that be?” Duftmon asked.

    “They discovered a dark rift of their own.”

    A brief silence ensued.

    “That’s… not good,” Dynasmon said, wincing.

    “Not at all,” Omegamon agreed.

    Examon frowned. “Sorry, but… am I missing something?” he asked.

    “I think I must be too,” Sleipmon said, rubbing the back of his neck.

    Duftmon looked at Alphamon, wondering what he was getting at, and frustrated that he was one of the ones that wasn’t sure what he was talking about. It further annoyed him that Dynasmon of all Digimon knew what was going on while he didn’t, though he supposed it was because Dynasmon was one of the founding members of the Order.

    “Oh, my apologies,” Alphamon said, looking at the newer members. “I guess we never mentioned it because we thought the situation would never come up. For all intents and purposes, the issue was out of sight and at the very backs of our minds.”

    “What issue?” Craniamon asked.

    “The Dark Area…” Alphamon explained to them with a serious frown. “It’s an area that was created deep below the surface of the Digital World as an inescapable prison. It’s where some of the most dangerous Digimon have been sealed away.”
    “Sealed away?” Duftmon queried. “Why not simply delete them?”

    “It was deemed too dangerous based on the thought that when they were reformatted into a Digi-egg, they might retain some of their old power and evil data,” Alphamon explained.

    “That’s ridiculous,” Duftmon answered haughtily. “It’s called ‘reformatting’ for a reason.”

    “Maybe you think so, but it was the prevailing thought at the time,” Omegamon added in Alphamon’s defence.

    “Besides, it’s not always that simple, trying to delete powerful Digimon,” the Lord of the Empty Seat stated.

    “What sorts of Digimon are sealed down there?” Sleipmon asked, frowning. “Why not put all our prisoners there?”

    “There are several imprisoned there, but not many. Each one is extremely dangerous. And it would be risky trying to overpopulate it, so we try to use the standard prisons unless we absolutely have to put them in the Dark Area,” Alphamon explained. “Some of you may remember the name ‘DarkKnightmon’. Imperialdramon Paladin Mode was the one who sealed him down there.”

    Omegamon and Dukemon narrowed their eyes at the name. Magnamon frowned and OuRyuumon looked away quietly. Dynasmon folded his arms. “There’s a name I never wanted to hear again,” he said.

    “Who is he?” Examon questioned.

    “Let’s just say he’s a dangerous, evil Digimon and leave it at that, for now,” Alphamon responded. “What are important are the rifts.”

    “Ah, you believe that the rifts are related to the Dark Area,” Duftmon deduced.

    “Yeah,” Dukemon answered. “More specifically, we think that the barrier of the Dark Area is weakening somehow.”

    “But it was supposed to be so secure,” Magnamon said with a perturbed frown.

    “Do you think it’s happening from the inside or the outside?” Duftmon asked.

    “We can’t say,” Alphamon answered. “It shouldn’t be possible for anybody in the Dark Area to regain the necessary power to be able to escape.”

    “Perhaps it’s natural deterioration,” Omegamon suggested.

    “That’s not supposed to happen,” the leader of the Royal Knights said.

    “More importantly, what do we do about it?” RhodoKnightmon asked.

    “We must increase our investigations. Once we determine that these rifts are from the Dark Area, then we can figure out what to do,” Alphamon said.

    “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode knows more about this stuff than we do,” Dukemon pointed out. “He was the one who put DarkKnightmon in there.”

    “Yes, but where is he?” Omegamon replied, asking an answerless question.

    Examon looked surprised. He turned to Grani. “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode is still alive?” he asked in a whisper.

    “Yes, but he left after founding the Royal Knights, and they’ve only seen him a couple times since,” Grani explained.

    Alphamon spoke up again. “I mentioned that I sent a communiqué to the Warrior Ten. I want two of you to go the north half of the continent where the Warrior Ten operate. I want you to investigate that rift that they found. AncientGarurumon and Anubismon will be coming down here to look at ours as well. Any volunteers?” he asked, although already looking to see Dynasmon’s response.

    Dynasmon raised his hand up. “I’ll go. I haven’t seen the salamander in awhile,” he offered, grinning.

    “Who?” Examon asked him.

    “KaiserGreymon,” Dynasmon replied, turning to him. “He and I know each other back from before we helped start our teams. We met in our adventurer days.”

    “Dynasmon’s probably the closest of us to the Warrior Ten,” Magnamon added.

    Alphamon nodded. “So, that’s one. Anybody else?”

    Duftmon raised his hand as well. “I will go. I wish to inspect this rift.”

    “You?” Dynasmon asked incredulously, arching his eyebrow in disapproval. “You want to come with me to our allies’ base? No offence, but you’re not exactly the best Digimon for the job.”

    Duftmon narrowed his green eyes, feeling somewhat insulted and confused. “Why am I not?”

    Dynasmon rubbed the back of his horned head. “You’re too...”

    “Arrogant?” Dukemon suggested.

    “Insensitive?” Magnamon offered.

    “Contentious?” Craniamon proposed.

    “Condescending?” UlforceVeedramon put forth.

    “Blunt?” Examon asked.

    “Opinionated?” RhodoKnightmon inquired.

    “Ugly!” OuRyuumon added sharply. Alphamon turned and gave OuRyuumon a stern look. The gold serpent shrugged flippantly. “I thought we were saying stuff we don’t like about him... I’ve got a load more.”

    “Mature,” Alphamon murmured with a roll of his eyes as Duftmon started sneering. “You can go, Duftmon. Despite his faults, he is very intelligent and astute.” He looked at Duftmon specifically. “This isn’t a diplomatic trip, but please try your best not to put your foot in your mouth.”

    Duftmon folded his arms indignantly. “I’m sure I have no idea what any of you are talking about,” he answered. He turned his head sideways and muttered under his breath, “Fools...”

    Dynasmon chuckled. “I’ll keep an eye on him. He can read books and be antisocial with AncientGarurumon and Anubismon.”

    “They’re coming down here, remember?” Craniamon pointed out to him.

    “In that case, he can talk tactics and books with Shurimon, as long as you don’t scare the poor guy again.”

    “Remember that you two are going there to check out that rift, not to socialize,” Alphamon reminded them, but particularly Dynasmon.

    “Exactly, Dynasmon,” the leopard knight said pointedly. “No alcoholic beverages either. Your mind is dull enough without the help of ale.”

    “Do I really have to go with him, Alphamon?” Dynasmon complained, although half-jokingly. “It’s going to be like this for the whole, long journey. You know he doesn’t have a filter. I can’t go through a six hour flight of this.”

    “You aren’t exactly my first choice for company either, Dynasmon,” Duftmon countered.

    “Your first choice for company would be a book,” the dragon man quipped.

    An annoyed, exasperated sigh left Alphamon’s mouth. “Can none of you get along for more than ten minutes?” he asked with an irritable gaze in his red eyes. He abruptly stood to his feet waved his hand impatiently, not in any mood to deal with the usual back-and-forth between certain knights that he often faced. “Go, the both of you. That’s an order. You two may not get along, but I’m sure you’ll manage. You’re Royal Knights. With that title comes responsibilities and maturity that I expect from each and every one of you. If you really find it that difficult, then perhaps it’s time you revaluated whether you have the right to call yourself a Royal Knight,” he reprimanded, no longer speaking to just Duftmon and Dynasmon, but to all of the Royal Knights there.

    Omegamon slowly frowned, watching as Alphamon walked away from the table and left the council hall, wordlessly signalling that the meeting was over. An awkward silence swept over the Royal Knights. A few uncomfortable glances were exchanged and many contemplated Alphamon’s uncharacteristically harsh words.

    Omegamon couldn’t help but notice OuRyuumon follow after Alphamon a couple of moments later. He turned away, back to the Royal Knights. “...Excuse him,” he spoke softly. “This dilemma with the rifts has been troubling him, so he’s a bit... agitated.”

    “Yeah... but he does have a point,” Dukemon said, standing up and putting a hand on his hip. “It’s times like this that we all need to band together like the team that we are.”

    Dynasmon nodded. “Royal Knights need to put their differences aside when there’s work to be done,” he agreed.

    “I suppose I can agree with that,” Duftmon spoke, glancing at Dynasmon.

    “Are you feeling okay, Duftmon?” UlforceVeedramon laughed. “You agreed with both Examon and Dukemon in the span of twenty minutes.”

    Duftmon stared at him wordlessly. He stood to his feet. “I’m going to my room to prepare,” he told them. “I assume the meeting is adjourned with Alphamon’s exit.”

    Dynasmon stood up as well and stretched his arms and wings, groaning. “I’d better get ready too. It’s going to be a long flight.”

    “Especially with him as your company,” UlforceVeedramon joked as Duftmon left the room.

    “Don’t say that, Ulforce,” Magnamon chastised. “Duftmon’s okay. He’s just a bit socially awkward.”

    “Socially oblivious, you mean,” Ulforce responded playfully.

    “Maybe, but still. You heard what Alphamon said. We need to get along,” the Royal Knight of Miracles insisted.

    “I’m all for that, but Duftmon can get the better of even the most thick-skinned Digimon,” the blue dragon man replied. “He can’t help himself. I don’t know why he even uses a sword when his tongue is sharper than any blade I’ve seen.”

    Magnamon rolled his eyes. “You’re one to talk, Ulforce...”

    Dukemon walked over to Dynasmon, with Grani following him. “Don’t weigh yourself down by packing too much,” he advised.

    Dynasmon smirked slightly. “I know.” His smile curled into a light frown. “Dukemon... Do you think all this has anything to do with him?”

    The crimson knight shrugged. “It’s really too soon to make guesses like that. I don’t know why it would,” he responded.

    “I guess so...” he answered. “It’s just that Alphamon seems really bothered. You picked up on that too, right?”

    “You mean when he chewed us out?” Dukemon asked. “Yeah, I noticed. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to do with that though. I mean, I don’t have to explain how it would be a disaster if there was something wrong with the Dark Area’s containment system.”

    “Yeah, you’re probably right,” Dynasmon said in agreement. “Let’s hope it’s not that.” The dragon man nodded at Dukemon and Grani. ‘Well, I’ll see you in a few days.”

    Dukemon waved to him as he walked out into the great hall. Grani turned to Dukemon. “Do you think he’ll be okay with Duftmon?” he asked him.

    Dukemon grinned. “Just him and Duftmon alone? I give it an hour before an argument breaks out.”

    Grani sighed. “I guess they’re just too different...” the Zero ARMS said. “Anyways, I’ll get my reconnaissance squadrons out looking for more rifts.”

    The red knight nodded. “Do that. Hopefully the thing that Duftmon and Dynasmon are going to see isn’t what we think it is...”

    -

    It had been eight hours since Dynasmon and Duftmon had left their castle and started heading north. It was faster than usual since they flew by wing had minimal breaks.

    The two Royal Knights now traipsed through a thick forest, following a dirt path so that they didn’t have to fight through plants and branches. They heard the rough splashing of a nearby river to their right. Although they couldn’t see the river through the trees from where they were, they had passed over it earlier via a small bridge. The stream began at a waterfall located in the mountain range up ahead.

    The path was wide and clear enough that they could see the grassy clearing at the base of the cliffs up ahead. It was there that the waterfall descended from the rocky heights, and it was there that the Warrior Ten’s headquarters was located.

    “We’re almost there,” Dynasmon told his travelling companion excitedly. He was both eager to see the Warrior Ten and get away from Duftmon’s company.

    “Do not let your guard down,” Duftmon replied. “Shurimon’s ninja traps and plant traps are still around.”

    “Relax,” Dynasmon answered, looking down at the map in his claws. “AtlurKabuterimon drew this map of the area for us and labelled all of the traps. With his cartography skills and his photographic memory, I doubt it’s inaccurate at all.”

    “Dynasmon!” Duftmon called out in annoyance, swinging his sabre, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi, out and whacking Dynasmon’s chest with the smooth sides.

    Dynasmon staggered backwards a step, mostly out of surprise since it was a relatively light hit. He turned and glared at Duftmon. “Hey! What was that for?” he asked angrily.

    Duftmon rolled his eyes and pointed down at the ground using the tip of his sabre. Dynasmon lowered his map and looked at what the metal tip was pointed at. Right in front of him, where he was about to step, was a thin tripwire that was presumably rigged to trigger a trap when stepped on.

    “Oh...” he murmured sheepishly. “Yeah, that one’s on the map too.”

    “Use your eyes, Dynasmon,” Duftmon advised him, walking forwards to the grassy clearing.

    Dynasmon followed him, making sure to look out for any more traps.

    The two stepped out onto the clearing. Before them was a large, imposing structure standing at the base of the mountainous cliffs, opposite in the clearing from the forest. The keep had once been abandoned, but it had been restored. Although the outside was constructed of sturdy, high-grade rock, fused together with firm, adhesive mortar, the stony exterior had vines and moss creeping up its sides. Along with the fact that it was built against the mountain side, and the fact that the mountain’s waterfall drained into a river just to the right of the keep, this made it look very much it tune with nature.

    It looked like it could hold steadfast against most attacks, if it needed to. The keep was dwarfed in size when compared to the Royal Knights’ castle, but the Warrior Ten didn’t have a standing garrison to house, only the ten warriors as well as a few friends and allies on occasion. As a result, it was much smaller, though it was large enough to have the essentials for a former-military outpost. It stood at about forty feet high, not counting the single watch tower protruding high into the air. There were three angular bastions fixed to the main building, one at the front and one of the left and right side. With these bastions came ramparts leading around the keep, strategically watching over all of the approaches.

    “It sure is quaint, huh?” Dynasmon asked, walking towards the entrance, which was to the right of the front bastion.

    Duftmon hummed and observed the keep as they approached. “It isn’t what I—“

    He was interrupted when a strong, accented voice called out to them. “Hey, Dynasmon!” the voice snarled amiably from the ramparts.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon looked up to see KaiserGreymon standing on the parapet, waving at them with a large grin. They could see the form of a white wolfman standing beside the dragon.

    AncientGarurumon looked down at them and then turned to KaiserGreymon. “KaiserGreymon, don’t—“

    KaiserGreymon lunged off the two storey rampart and landed on his feet beside the Royal Knights with a large thud.

    “...jump,” AncientGarurumon sighed, finishing his thought too late. He followed KaiserGreymon’s example and nimbly jumped down beside the Warrior of Flame.

    “Kaiser!” Dynasmon greeted with a broad smile, turning and walking over to him. “Still as reckless and impulsive as ever, I see.”

    KaiserGreymon smirked as the two met in a manly hug, patting each others’ backs before pulling away and clasping one another’s wrists firmly. “You can say that again. Though, it’s partly to scare AncientGarurumon,” he told him, grinning over at the Warrior of Light.

    AncientGarurumon rolled his eyes and looked at Duftmon. Duftmon nodded tersely. AncientGarurumon nodded back.

    “Right. Well, pleasantries out of the way, this isn’t a social call,” KaiserGreymon said. “Should we go inside? Some of the others are in, but not everybody.”

    “Yeah, sure,” Dynasmon said, letting KaiserGreymon walk past him and type in the passcode to unlock the sturdy, mechanical door leading into the keep. The entrance opened up with a mechanical droning, allowing them to walk into a stone corridor leading in. Once all four were inside, AncientGarurumon pressed a button that closed the door behind them.

    Once at the end of the corridor, they walked into a foyer, much smaller and less extravagant than the Royal Knights’. Instead of marble, it had grey brick flooring and walls. There were a few couches and chairs, along with a rug, for furniture.

    On one of these couches sat a female figure. She wore a blue suit and rainbow-scaled armour over here humanoid body. Instead of the usual fish-like tail that AncientMermaidmon would sport, she had a pair of slender legs that she would use when on land, reserving her more aquatic body for when she was swimming. AncientMermaidmon stood up and brushed her white hair back with a hand upon seeing the four enter.

    “Look what we have here,” she said playfully, looking at the two Royal Knights.

    Dynasmon grinned when he saw the Warrior of Water. “Heeey, Mer,” he greeted with his own playful tone. “You’re looking as beautiful as ever.”

    “Awww, thanks, Dynie,” AncientMermaidmon replied in a sing song voice, walking over to him. She hugged him and then pulled back to look him over. “And you look... okay,” she teased, poking her tongue out at him.

    “You have some pretty high standards if the most handsome of the Royal Knights is only ‘okay’,” Dynasmon responded grinning and folding his arms after returning the hug.

    “I thought that was Alphamon, followed by Dukemon,” she mused, placing her hands on her hips and mock-thinking.

    KaiserGreymon grinned. “She’s spoiled for choice over here when it comes to handsome men that are nice to look at,” he told Dynasmon. “Especially because of me. Don’t you think so, Garuru?” he asked kiddingly, looking at AncientGarurumon.

    “I wouldn’t know,” he replied uninterestedly, walking into another room to their left before KaiserGreymon could drag him into a conversation he didn’t want to be in.

    “Ick, you?” AncientMermaidmon teased the Warrior of Flames as she followed AncientGarurumon into the living room. “I was thinking more PileVolcamon.”

    “You weren’t saying that back when we were an item!” he called out, following them along with Dynasmon and Duftmon.

    Duftmon glanced at Dynasmon blandly. “I thought the pleasantries were supposed to be over...” he dryly stated.

    “Relax, Duftmon. We haven’t seen each other in ages, it feels like,” Dynasmon told him.

    “Two and a half months?”

    “I did say ‘feels like’,” the dragon man answered. Something then drew his attention. “Hey, Atlur! Have you been working on those jokes?”

    A large, blue bug Digimon stood up from one of the couches in the living room. He had been drawing on a piece of paper on the coffee table in front of him. “Hey, Dynasmon. Long time no see,” he said with a wide grin, referencing the fact that he didn’t have eyes for vision in that form, instead using electroreception.

    “Apparently not,” Dynasmon said, chuckling anyways.

    “Heh. Why work on perfection?” AtlurKabuterimon asked. “So, are we having that meeting now?”

    “Please!” Duftmon said, almost desperately.

    “Alright, alright,” KaiserGreymon said. He nudged Dynasmon and whispered, eyeing Duftmon. “Bloody hell, he’s still as uptight as AncientGarurumon, isn’t he?”

    “Probably more so,” Dynasmon whispered back.

    “I heard that,” AncientGarurumon told them, his canine ear twitching.

    “As did I,” Duftmon announced with a glare.

    Sheepishly, KaiserGreymon scratched the back of his head and grinned, heading towards the door on the far end of the right hand wall, which led out to a hallway. “Er. Right. Let’s gather in the war room, shall we?” he asked.

    The six headed for the door. Dynasmon went ahead and held the door open for AncientMermaidmon, smiling broadly as he did.

    “Such a chivalrous Royal Knight,” she teased, raising her index finger and playfully dragging the soft tip across his chin, winking as she passed him.

    “Only for beautiful women,” he told her, winking back.

    “That, I can believe,” Duftmon muttered.

    AtlurKabuterimon followed AncientMermaidmon through the doorway, allowing Dynasmon to hold the door for him as well. “Why, thank you kind sir,” he told him with a broad smile. His fearsome mouth grinned ironically. “Can I offer you a kiss for your services?”

    Dynasmon laughed. “Try it and I’m calling the Royal Knights for reinforcements; I’ll tell them you’re trying to eat me.”

    The insect Digimon chuckled and passed him. “You really are only chivalrous to the girls,” he replied.

    Dynasmon followed him. “And I here I thought you were saving yourself for –YOW!” the dragon man shouted when a soft current of electricity shot through his hand and travelled up his arm, surprising him for than anything else.

    “Whoops. Sorry!” the Warrior of Thunder apologized insincerely, making a point to grin over his shoulder at Dynasmon.

    The group went into the first door on the left. The war room was not unlike that of the Royal Knights’. It was a bit smaller, but it had the same electronic table in the center. In fact, many of the maps in the table’s databases were based off of the maps that AtlurKabuterimon created, and the table was partially designed by Shurimon, the Warrior of Wood, along with the Royal Knights’ technician, MetallifeKuwagamon, and one or two other collaborators.

    The ninja Digimon in question was already inside the war room when they walked in. Shurimon looked up in surprise. He had been devising mock-tactics on the table, using its three-dimensional feature. “Oh, D-D-D-Duftmon, Dynasmon,” he stammered, taken off guard by their arrival. “Hello.”

    “Hey, Shurimon,” Dynasmon said with a light grin.

    KaiserGreymon stepped forwards to the glowing table. “Right. Shurimon. Do you mind bringing up the map of where we found the rift?” the leader of the Warrior Ten asked his strategist, the strategic table’s blue light casting upon his features.

    “Not at all,” Shurimon said, closing the map that he had been using and getting to work on the table, pressing several buttons in front of him.

    “Now, are you absolutely sure that this is a dark rift?” Duftmon questioned, folding his arms. “The same kind as the one that we found in Dusk Forest?”

    “Small fissure releasing a bunch of dark data?” KaiserGreymon asked with a frown. Duftmon and Dynasmon nodded. “Then yes. I’m pretty bloody sure.”

    “It’s either that or the Digital World sprung a leak,” AtlurKabuterimon suggested with a chuckle.

    “This is serious, AtlurKabuterimon,” AncientGarurumon told the Warrior of Lightning with a serious stare.”

    “Yeah, I’m kinda sensing that,” the insect Digimon replied, scratching the back of his horned head.

    Dynasmon looked around, noting that it was just KaiserGreymon, AncientGarurumon, AncientMermaidmon, AtlurKabuterimon, and Shurimon in the room with them. “Is it just us seven? Not going to call the other five, Kaiser?”

    KaiserGreymon shook his head. “They’re busy doing different things. Besides, this is more for your and Duftmon’s benefit than for ours,” he explained, watching as Shurimon brought up a new map and centered in on a specific location. “We’ve already talked about the rift.”

    “Busy? Alphamon was hoping that Anubismon would come down to look at our rift,” Dynasmon explained.

    “He’s already on his way,” AncientGarurumon answered.

    “PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon are at our rift to make sure that nobody gets corrupted by it,” KaiserGreymon added. “They’ll be there when you two go to check it out.”

    “Has anybody had a dark evolution because of it yet?” Duftmon queried.

    “Luckily not,” AncientMermaidmon said with a shrug. “We heard about what happened with you guys, so everyone knew to be careful.”

    “How’d you guys come across it?” Dynasmon asked their allies.

    “Us!” AtlurKabuterimon cheerfully said, using one of his four arms to point at himself and another to point at AncientMermaidmon.

    “Yeah, we were exploring this deep pit-gorge-thingy. It was full of all these stone pillars. It was pretty cool,” AncientMermaidmon explained. “It was showing on that DADAR thing, so the buggy and I went to look around."

    “Yeah, I marked it down on my map,” AtlurKabuterimon mentioned, pointing over to the map just as Shurimon brought it up.

    Shurimon gestured to the three dimensional representation of the crater-like depression in the ground. It had cliff-like edges all around the perimeter, and was about twenty meters deep. “This is the pit itself,” he explained. He pressed a button and brought up a broader map that was large enough that the deep crater was only an indicated point. “And this is the pit in relation to our headquarters here. You should be able to find it.”

    “Do you have a map that we may take with us?” Duftmon asked. “I fear that Dynasmon need it.”

    “What about you?! Dynasmon shot back defensively.

    Shurimon smiled sheepishly. “Y-Yes, of course. AtlurKabuterimon?”

    “I’ll get ‘em,” the blue bug Digimon responded, walking out of the war room.

    Dynasmon placed his large, clawed hands on his hips and looked over at KaiserGreymon. “So, Kaiser,” he asked. “What do you make of this rift business?”

    “Beyond me, mate,” KaiserGreymon responded. “It doesn’t sound good though. Do you think that—“

    “That it’s the Dark Area?” Dynasmon finished for him. “Maybe... That’s what Alphamon thinks.”

    KaiserGreymon frowned deeply. “Let’s hope not. I’ve had this bad feeling these past few weeks. I wonder if it has to do with my relation to the Digital World’s Dragon Veins...”

    AncientGarurumon was extremely quiet. If one looked really closely, they would be able to tell that the fur on the back of his neck was standing on end.

    “Anyways, if it is the Dark Area, is it the work of someone on the outside, one particular prisoner, or all of the prisoners working together?” KaiserGreymon asked.

    Dynasmon shrugged. “Each of those situations is as unlikely as the others,” he explained. “With the security measures that have been in place for countless years...”

    “Well, maybe it’s not as unlikely as we thought,” the Warrior of Flame replied.

    AncientGarurumon closed his eyes. “I’m going after Anubismon,” he said suddenly.

    Dynasmon looked over. “Oh, okay. So, to the rift in Dusk Forest?”

    KaiserGreymon raised an eyebrow, looking at him with both surprise and intrigue. “But you were just at our rift this morni—“

    “I’m going!” he said sharply, with a touch of anger in his voice. He walked out of the room, not even casting a further glance towards KaiserGreymon.

    KaiserGreymon shrugged and sighed, once again annoyed and mystified by the Warrior of Light.

    “What’s with Garuru?” Dynasmon asked, looking over at KaiserGreymon.

    “Like I’d know,” KaiserGreymon responded. “That mutt’s as moody as women. ...No offence, AncientMermaidmon.”

    “None taken,” she replied in a chipper tone. “I know that guys are as moody as us; you and Garuru are proof of that.”

    “I am not moody!” KaiserGreymon snarled.

    “He said with a growl,” AncientMermaidmon replied, sticking her tongue out at him.

    KaiserGreymon grunted and folded his arms.

    “But seriously, what did you do to your lover this time?” she asked, grinning.

    “FOR THE LAST TIME, WE ARE NOT LOVERS! HIM AND ME?! DISGUSTING!” the dragon shouted heatedly.

    “Then why are you getting so worked up? Hmm?” the Warrior of Water teased.

    “Because you’re talking rubbish, fish brains!” he retorted angrily.

    Dynasmon laughed, but Duftmon merely tapped his foot, annoyed. “May we get going now?” he asked impatiently. “Time is being wasted.”

    “Keep your fur on; I’m back!” AtlurKabuterimon replied, walking in and holding up a map in one of his hands. “Got the map.”

    “Good,” Duftmon spoke, walking over to him.

    “But it’d be faster if I just lead you two there, myself,” AtlurKabuterimon offered, grinning with his broad, fearsome mouth. “With my memory, there’s no chance you two would get lost.”

    Duftmon frowned. He didn’t enjoy the concept of having to put up with AtlurKabuterimon’s jokes and quips for all that time. “I don’t think that’s necessary—“

    “That’s a good idea, Atlur,” Dynasmon interrupted.

    “In that case, I’ll come too,” KaiserGreymon said. “I want to check on PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon.”

    AtlurKabuterimon sighed dreamily. “Yeah... AncientKazemon...”

    KaiserGreymon and AncientMermaidmon rolled their eyes. “Right. Well. Let’s go. Lead the way, Atlur,” the leader of the Warrior Ten said.

    AtlurKabuterimon smiled and nodded, walking out of the war room. KaiserGreymon adjusted the goggles on his head and followed him.

    “Bye, Dynie,” AncientMermaidmon chimed, waving at the winged dragon man. “Get nice and sweaty, okay?”

    Dynasmon grinned and winked at her. “Oh, I’ll try my best, Mer.”

    “No, he won’t,” Duftmon told her shortly, proceeding to usher Dynasmon out of the room after the Warriors of Flame and Thunder. The leopard knight sighed. “Is it really necessary to bring those two?” he said, looking ahead at their two guides.

    “Yeah, it is,” Dynasmon responded with a contentious smirk. “They happen to be my friends, and they know their way around the northern half of the continent a lot better than we do.”

    “They’ll get in the way,” Duftmon replied.

    Dynasmon snorted. “You know, I can’t tell if this is you being arrogant, anti-social, or both.”

    Duftmon responded only with a ‘hmph’. After a few moments of tense silence, he spoke, “Fine. Have it your own way.”

    Dynasmon nodded and sped up his walking pace so he could talk with his friends. Duftmon quietly watched them from behind. As they left the Warrior Ten’s keep and made their way through the nearby forest, he kept the distance up between them and himself.

    Continued in the next post.
     
  7. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post.)

    The four Digimon flew through the sky at a steady pace. The warm, mid-afternoon sun glared down in front of them.

    KaiserGreymon took the form of his aerial AncientGreymon form – a large, red-armoured dragon Digimon - which he didn’t use around the headquarters, obviously due to its sheer size. He wore his pair of goggles, which grew in size along with him, over his blue eyes, helping to keep the intense sunlight and the wind resistance from affecting his vision.

    The two Royal Knights and the two warriors flew over a rocky plain that was covered with dirt the colour of a dark, stony brown.

    AtlurKabuterimon flew up beside AncientGreymon, his insect wings beating rhythmically and creating a low droning sound. “We’re almost there,” he explained to the Royal Knights trailing them. “You can see the pit far up ahead.”

    “It’s pretty big,” Dynasmon observed, cupping his hand over his brow to shield his eyes from the sunlight.

    “Yup. It’s about twenty meters deep, almost a kilometer in diameter, and it’s kinda shaped like the inside of a big pot,” AtlurKabuterimon informed them with a light grin.

    “So, the edges are steep,” Duftmon deduced.

    “Yeah. Too steep to climb unless you’re really good at it,” the insect Digimon said. “Luckily we all have wings.”

    “How did PileVolcamon get down there?” Duftmon asked, remembering that those of his species didn’t have wings.

    “He’s the Legendary Warrior of Earth; he used his earth abilities to make a rock staircase,” AtlurKabuterimon replied matter-of-factly.

    “Yeah. You’re supposed to be the genius, Duftmon,” Dynasmon said with a laugh.

    “Who asked you?” Duftmon countered sharply. He folded his arms and looked away.

    “I’m just joking. Don’t have a hissy fit,” Dynasmon answered smugly.

    AtlurKabuterimon laughed aloud. “Heh heh. ‘Hissy’. Not bad, Dynasmon. You’re the cat’s meow,” he added with a chuckle.

    Dynasmon snickered as well. Duftmon, however, did not. “Feline jokes? How positively creative,” the Royal Knights’ strategist commented irately.

    “I think you mean ‘paws’itively creative,” AtlurKabuterimon joked, laughing.

    AncientGreymon rolled his eyes but smirked. “That’s about enough, Atlur,” he told him. He raised his front leg to push his goggles up to his forehead.

    “Fine, but I’ve got about a billion more cat jokes,” the Warrior of Thunder said.

    “All of them as creative and clever as the last, no doubt,” Duftmon murmured sarcastically.

    “Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, Duftmon. It’s not like you don’t insult people,” Dynasmon pointed out. “At least we’re doing it in good fun.”

    “This mission isn’t supposed to be ‘good fun’. We didn’t come here so that you could joke around foolishly and reminisce with your... chums. You’re almost as immature and unprofessional as UlforceVeedramon,” Duftmon chastised. “We don’t even need these two here. We would have been able to find this place well enough on our own. You just felt more at ease in their company, which is no surprise as all.”

    Dynasmon’s usually relaxed expression turned into a fierce glower as soon as Duftmon started insulting his friends as well. “Yeah, sure, Duftmon,” he answered, his voice becoming harsh and scathing. “If being constantly serious, condescending, vile, and having zero friends makes you ‘professional’, then, yeah, you’re the best Royal Knight out of all eleven of us.”

    An uncomfortable silence fell over the four. Duftmon didn’t reply and Dynasmon had nothing else to add. AncientGreymon glanced over at AtlurKabuterimon. AtlurKabuterimon started twiddling the fingers of his four hands with one another.

    “Uh... heh heh. So. Nice weather, huh?” the Warrior of Lightning offered.

    Duftmon finally turned to Dynasmon, ignoring AtlurKabuterimon’s comment and speaking up. “I have no need for friends,” he told him without any emotion in his voice. “I only put up with you all because it’s an unfortunate necessity of my job. I’m the chief strategist of the Royal Knights, and my duties have nothing to do with making friends. Least of all with somebody like you.”

    With that, Duftmon flew down towards the craterous depression just ahead of them. Dynasmon glared at him as he broke away from the ground and descended.

    “Yeesh. He should really stop smiling so much He might strain himself,” AtlurKabuterimon said as the leopard knight flew down. “What’s with him?”

    Dynasmon grunted. “Duftmon’s just so... Duftmon,” he said with a slight growl. “He gets on my nerves sometimes.”

    “I hear you, mate,” AncientGreymon said sympathetically, watching Duftmon go down. “He reminds me a lot of AncientGarurumon.”

    “Please,” Dynasmon scoffed. “You’d be begging for AncientGarurumon after a month with Duftmon.”

    “I don’t know...” the dragon rumbled. “It sounds like he’s getting under your feet. It happens when Digimon spend too much time together.”

    “It’s not just that,” the violet dragon man replied. “I can stand the obsessive-compulsive control freak stuff. I can stand the condescension and the arrogance. But I can’t stand when he insults people who I consider friends.”

    AtlurKabuterimon grinned and clutched where his heart was. “Awww... I’m getting warm fuzzies, aren’t you, Kaiser?”

    “Sure am,” AncientGreymon said with a sly smirk.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes and managed a smile. “The thing is, I know why he’s worse than usual today,” he explained. “He can’t stand the fact that I knew about the Dark Area and he didn’t. It’s a blow to his ego that someone like me knows more than a genius about some things.”

    “Sounds like he’s more insecure than he lets on,” AncientGreymon reasoned.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I don’t know. ’Insecure’ isn’t a word that I’d ever use to describe Duftmon...”

    “Well. Anyways. We should make our descent now. We’re there,” the Warrior of Flame explained, flapping his broad, fiery wings and gliding downwards.

    “Yeah. Before Duftmon starts scolding one of the pillars for not being straight enough,” AtlurKabuterimon joked, descending as well.

    Dynasmon followed their lead and swooped down.

    Before him was an expansive pit, looking just as deep and wide as AtlurKabuterimon said it was. It was, as he said, the shape of the interior of a pot. Its edges were rocky, vertical cliffs which lead down into the crater. However, the most noticeable feature of the rocky depression were the hundred-odd stone pillars jutting up from the bottom of the pit. They stood between fifteen and twenty meters tall, a few meters wide, and they were dispersed all around the crater. What most interested Dynasmon was that they were naturally formed. The collection of rock columns formed almost a sort of stone labyrinth, or it would have if the pillars had been closer together. As it was, there were about five meters between each column; enough space for Dynasmon to fly down, but not enough space for AncientGreymon to descend in his current form.

    “Looks like I’ll have to take the stairs,” AncientGreymon said, becoming engulfed in light as he turned back to his KaiserGreymon form. He landed at the edge of the crater, in front of a set of finely carved stone steps that PileVolcamon had created using his manipulation of the rocky ground, leading down into the crater.

    Dynasmon and AtlurKabuterimon landed beside Duftmon, who was waiting at the bottom of the staircase. KaiserGreymon walked down the steps and met with them. Once at the bottom of the depression, he looked around.

    “I don’t see them,” he observed.

    “Well, the rift’s at the middle of the crater. We won’t be able to see past all these pillars,” AtlurKabuterimon responded to him.

    “Well then, let’s get moving,” Duftmon replied impatiently, walking towards the aggregation of stone.

    AtlurKabuterimon grinned and looked over at KaiserGreymon. “He’s even more impatient than you,” he teased.

    KaiserGreymon rolled his eyes, reached over to grip the stalk of the bug’s horn, and started pulling the Warrior of Thunder towards the collection of pillars.

    “H-Hey! Easy on the horn, Kaiser!” AtlurKabuterimon complained as he was pulled into the forest-like aggregation of rocks.

    Dynasmon looked over at Duftmon and then followed them. Duftmon walked forwards too, although not saying anything to Dynasmon.

    The Digimon made their way around the pillars, all the while looking around for AncientKazemon and PileVolcamon. A soft wind blew down the hole, and it briefly made AtlurKabuterimon think that it was the Warrior of Wind’s doing, but they still didn’t see them.

    “PileVolcamon!” KaiserGreymon shouted out, announcing himself.

    “Kaaaze!” AtlurKabuterimon called out as well, looking for AncientKazemon eagerly.

    “Is your shell nice and shiny for her?” Dynasmon teased.

    “My shell is always nice and shiny,” he responded, sticking his tongue out although ignoring Dynasmon’s intended teasing.

    “PileVolcamon! AncientKazemon!” KaiserGreymon continued calling. “Call out if you can hear me! It’s KaiserGreymon!”

    “Where are they?” AtlurKabuterimon asked.

    “Maybe they went to that nearby town for food,” Dynasmon suggested, looking around and seeing no trace of either Digimon either. “Rockford, was it?”

    “They wouldn’t have both gone and left the rift unattended,” KaiserGreymon replied.

    “I do not like this,” Duftmon proclaimed, frowning with suspicion.

    “Wait, I see a clearing up ahead,” KaiserGreymon announced, speeding up. “That’s where the rift is, right?”

    “Yeah. The rift was in the clearing near the center of the pit,” he replied, jogging after KaiserGreymon.

    KaiserGreymon walked around a couple stone pillars and stopped abruptly at the edge of the clearing. The dragon man’s blue eyes widened.

    “****! PileVolcamon! AncientKazemon!” he shouted, suddenly breaking into a sprint.

    AtlurKabuterimon grew worried and ran after him, followed by Dynasmon and Duftmon. He darted into the clearing and stopped. The lithe, humanoid body of AncientKazemon was lying on her side in the middle of the clearing, unconscious. There were large, brown, swelling bruises on her skin.

    PileVolcamon was at the left edge of the clearing, in a similar state. He sat upright with his back against one of the stone pillars, blood dripping from his face and his muscular, armoured body bruised and dented in various places. He was barely holding onto consciousness.

    “AncientKazemon!” AtlurKabuterimon shouted in worry, rushing over to her side. He dropped to his knees beside her and checked her vital signs. “I-I think she’s just unconscious,” he said with only mild relief in his otherwise anxious and upset voice. As he did this, KaiserGreymon rushed over to PileVolcamon’s side. “Kaiser! How is he?!”

    “Beaten up,” KaiserGreymon replied shortly, getting down beside the black-armoured figure. “PileVolcamon! It’s me! Kaiser! Are you alright? What the bloody hell happened?!”

    PileVolcamon released a groggy, pained groan. He slowly turned his yellow eyes up towards the dragon man. “I don’t... know...” he responded breathily, the pain obvious in his weary voice. “The... rift... More data... Something came... It happened so fast. Couldn’t... react fast enough...”

    As he spoke, PileVolcamon grimaced with pain. KaiserGreymon put his hand gently on his shoulder. “Don’t strain yourself, mate,” he told the Warrior of Earth. “Something happened with the rift?”

    “The rift...” Duftmon suddenly said, looking around the clearing.

    Dynasmon raised his eyebrow at his comrade’s words and looked around as well.

    The leopard knight observed the scene with a scrutinizing set of eyes. The clearing had numerous stone spikes jutting out from the rocky ground, surrounded by dislodged dirt and rocks, along with some patches of mud here and there. It looked like PileVolcamon was able to get one attack in before he was taken down, but there was no real pattern to the earth manipulation and it extended to outside the clearing for a couple meters as well; it was as if he shot the spikes up randomly and at no specific target.

    “They were ambushed,” Duftmon deduced. “AncientKazemon was taken out first and PileVolcamon shortly after. It happened quickly.”

    “But how?!” KaiserGreymon asked sharply. “They’re members of the Warrior Ten! They’re not taken down so easily!”

    “It was strong... and fast...” PileVolcamon told him weakly. “Couldn’t see it. Only black...”

    “Damn it,” KaiserGreymon snarled. “I knew I had a bad feeling in my gut about something. Something felt off in the dragon veins of the Digital World.”

    “I suppose there is a certain proximate relation between leylines and the Dark Area, however...” Duftmon trailed off, folding his arms as he withdrew into thought.

    Dynasmon frowned. “It must have been damn strong to take them both down. But what did this?”

    “You’re asking the wrong question, Dynasmon,” Duftmon told him, glaring deeply at the middle of the clearing.

    AtlurKabuterimon pulled AncientKazemon into his four arms, gently picking her up. He then started looking around the clearing frantically. “...Where’s the rift?!” he asked.

    “The rift?” Dynasmon asked, blinking and looking around.

    “He said it was in this clearing,” Duftmon replied, having noticed it wasn’t there as well.

    “It’s gone!” AtlurKabuterimon exclaimed, getting to his feet and looking all around. “It was right here where I’m standing!”

    PileVolcamon grimaced and put his large hand on KaiserGreymon’s arm, squeezing tightly. “It came from the rift...” he told him in a pained, husky voice. “Rift disappeared... afterwards...”

    KaiserGreymon’s eyes widened. “It... what?” he asked.

    Dynasmon froze and looked at Duftmon, who began glaring even harder than before. “Something... came from inside the rift?” Duftmon asked.

    “Something escaped from the Dark Area,” Dynasmon answered, sneering with worry.

    “You have got to be joking...” KaiserGreymon said, putting PileVolcamon’s arm around his neck and lugging the heavy warrior to his feet.

    “That would explain why it was powerful enough to do this to your friends,” Duftmon responded, drawing his rapier, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi. “The rift must have closed up again as soon as the prisoner was free.”

    Dynasmon stretched out his claws, and wisps of white energy began to dance on his back, ready to summon Wyvern for his Breath of Wyvern attack if necessary. “KaiserGreymon!” he called out to his friend. “You and Atlur take PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon back to your base! Duftmon and I will look around here!”

    KaiserGreymon frowned, looking at PileVolcamon’s beaten form and then back at Dynasmon uncertainly. “Are you sure? If the prisoner did this to them...”

    “You need to look after your friends,” Dynasmon told him with steely determination. “We’ll be fine. We’ll retreat back to your base if we need to. Gather as many of the Ten of you can. We’re facing a terrible power here.”

    KaiserGreymon paused for a few moments, but soon nodded. “Fine... but if you get hurt, I’m going to kill you, Dynasmon.”

    Dynasmon allowed for a small smirk. “Are you saying I’m reckless? I think that’s the pot call the kettle black, Kaiser.”

    KaiserGreymon grinned a bit, but soon turned to AtlurKabuterimon. “We’ll carry these two to the top of the stairs and then get them on my back so I can fly us home.”

    AtlurKabuterimon nodded, still looking at AncientKazemon with worry. “Let’s get outta here. Good luck, guys.”

    Dynasmon nodded as the two started helping their friends through the crater, back the way they came. As soon as they disappeared behind the rock columns, the dragon man’s face became serious again.

    “This is not good,” he spoke in a growl, his red eyes flashing with nervous anger. “Alphamon needs to hear about this. The world isn’t safe...”
     
  8. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (So close to a single post this time. Sigh.)

    Like Night and Day (Part II)

    A few hours later, Duftmon and Dynasmon returned to the Warrior Ten’s headquarters. Their search around the area proved fruitless, and night was approaching, which would make their job even more difficult. They saw nothing apart from a few footprints, but the trail disappeared quickly thanks to the rocky terrain. The two Royal Knights decided to go back to their allies as evening set in, hoping to get a grasp of the situation.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon stood with the Warrior Ten in their communications room, located in the underground level of their base. With them were four members of the Warrior Ten: KaiserGreymon, Shurimon, AtlurKabuterimon, and Wisemon. AncientMermaidmon was away, in the process of healing AncientKazemon and PileVolcamon’s injuries using her MarineAngemon form. Anubismon and AncientGarurumon were still out, inspecting the dark rift in Dusk Forest, and Korikakumon was on his way back from errands.

    “So, you two came up with nothing?” KaiserGreymon asked.

    “Unfortunately,” Dynasmon replied, sighing and leaning against the wall. “We searched for a few hours and then it started to get dark. Even Duftmon’s leopard eyes wouldn’t have been much help; there just wasn’t a trail to go off of.”

    “You passed by Rockford and Auguria on the way back, right?” AtlurKabuterimon asked.

    “Yeah. They were as normal as ever,” Dynasmon responded.

    “So, I guess it wasn’t one of the super-destructive Digimon that escaped the Dark Area, or we would’ve heard about it by now,” the Warrior of Thunder deduced.

    “Excellent ratiocination, AddledKabuterimon!” Wisemon announced. The robed, humanoid Digimon placing his hands on his hips and his bright, enthusiastic yellow eyes twinkled behind his shadowed visage. “If a brainless, barbarous, cataclysmic creature had escaped his prison, we surely would have heard the sounds of destruction by now!” he said gleefully.

    “...Ratio-what?” Dynasmon asked, looking over at Duftmon.

    “Logic,” he responded shortly.

    “Yes, what Daftmon has said!” the old, yet energetic Wisemon jovially said, once again forgetting one of their names.

    “Duftmon,” the brown-armoured Royal Knight corrected in annoyance. He turned to Shurimon, who was sitting in front of the computer. “Shurimon, have you gotten through to our headquarters yet?”

    “I’m afraid not. There d-d-doesn’t seem to be anybody answering the communication I sent,” he replied sheepishly, glancing up at the opened Spyke program.

    “We can’t just sit around here and do nothing,” KaiserGreymon said restlessly.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I agree, but we have no idea how to find whatever escaped from the rift.”

    Duftmon nodded. “At least if it were a Digimon causing a spree of destruction we would know where to find it.”

    KaiserGreymon gave him a look. “Don’t say that,” he told him.

    “There’s also the fact that we need to tell the other Royal Knights about this,” Dynasmon explained frowning with frustration. “And what about that dark rift in Dusk Forest? Did something come out of there too? Is it even still there?”

    KaiserGreymon gritted his teeth with concern. “AncientGarurumon and Anubismon are there...” he said, using anger to cover his worry.

    “It’s possible that it remained the same or that it simply closed at the same time as the other rift,” Duftmon suggested. “We ought to go back to our headquarters and perhaps check on the way.”

    “And forget about that Digimon?” Dynasmon asked, staring over at Duftmon incredulously.

    “For the time being,” Duftmon replied coolly. “Like you said, we have no idea where it is or where it is going.”

    Wisemon raised his hand to stroke his chin. “If only there were a way to track that fiend...” he mused. After a few moments, his face lit up. “Eureka! Sherbetmon!”

    Shurimon stood up and turned around, an idea forming in his mind as well. “We could use the DADAR system!” he explained.

    “Exactly!” the Warrior of Steel chimed.

    “The thing that detects abnormal data readings?” Dynasmon asked.

    Shurimon nodded. “After nearly overlooking the rift in Dusk Forest, MetallifeKuwagamon has updated the system to be more sensitive to influxes of data,” he explained. “Even though the rift is closed, the Digimon who escaped from the Dark Area should still have vestiges of dark data. Therefore, we should still be able to see where he is. Um, in theory, at least...”

    “Then let’s check,” Duftmon said, walking out of the communications room and walking up the hall to the room on the very left of them.

    They followed him into a room that had a giant computer system inside of it, much like the computer room at the Royal Knights’ headquarters. It was connected to the computer that was in the communications room, powering it, but the two had different functions.

    Shurimon walked in and turned on the computer, going to work at bringing up the DADAR system. Soon, a complicated map of the continent full of coordinates and codes popped up on the large screen. Shurimon pressed several buttons to receive a more specific view of the Data Detection and Ranging system. After about a minute, they were able to see a highlighted wisp on the screen.

    “Is that it?” Dynasmon asked, moving in to get a closer look.

    “I believe so,” Shurimon replied. “It’s moving...”

    “It’s moving south,” AtlurKabuterimon observed.

    “South... Towards our half of the continent,” Dynasmon observed. “Good. Duftmon and I can follow it on our way home.”

    “It has a several hour lead on us,” Duftmon explained sceptically. “And we won’t be able to track it with the DADAR once we leave here.”

    “I know that,” Dynasmon replied sharply. “But this is its first time out of the Dark Area for who knows how many years? It won’t have its bearings. I’m not saying we need to hunt it down on our own, but if we happen to come across it on our way back to the headquarters...”

    “Very well,” Duftmon responded although with his usual tone of indignation.

    “You two be careful,” KaiserGreymon said. “We’ll be vigilant up here. Just call if you need any assistance in taking him down or anything else.”

    “Thanks, Kaiser,” Dynasmon said, reaching over and shaking his hand. “I appreciate it.”

    KaiserGreymon grinned and returned the handshake. “Kick some ***, mate.”

    Dynasmon smirked and let go. “This is me you’re talking to.” He turned to Duftmon. “Are you ready to head home? It’s a long flight.”

    Duftmon gave a short, affirming nod. “I’m ready to go.”

    Dynasmon scratched the back of his head. “Well, okay, but I’m going to take a piss before we leave.”

    The leopard knight stared at him with annoyed exasperation. “That is entirely too much information.”

    KaiserGreymon and AtlurKabuterimon chuckled. “Down the hall, Dynasmon.”

    “Thanks...” he said sheepishly.

    He walked out of the room and began to wander down the hall. “I guess now it would be inappropriate for me to flirt with AncientMermaidmon before I leave,” he thought to himself. He wasn’t really in the mood for flirting anyways with the dark cloud that was hanging over everybody with the realisation that a prisoner of the Dark Area has escaped. “Hopefully when this situation clears up again...

    -

    Dynasmon and Duftmon flew through the air, under the cover of nightfall. The stars twinkled in the dark sky, and the black void sported two full moons.

    The two Royal Knights had been very quiet during their return flight, barely speaking at all to each other. It was a lot different from their journey up, where there were frequent arguments and debates. Now there was just silence... although it was up for debate whether it was due to ill-feelings or due to their discovery of the rift. They had been flying for four and a half hours, and they were now back in the Free Area.

    “Double full moons,” Dynasmon mused, breaking the silence. He was looking up at the sky. “Some Digimon say that it’s bad luck...”

    “If you believe that nonsense...” Duftmon replied dismissively.

    Dynasmon glanced at him with annoyance. “I don’t, actually... but you don’t have to be so haughty all the time. You’re not doing yourself any favours by looking down your nose at everyone,” he told him.

    “Even if they deserve it?” Duftmon asked, leering back at him.

    “Even if they’re dumber than you,” Dynasmon answered. “Besides, a Digimon’s worth isn’t defined by their intelligence.”

    “Then what do you believe they’re defined by?” Duftmon queried.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I do know that you can’t just judge a Digimon based on one aspect alone, like intelligence or appearance or power. There’s all sorts of things that make a Digimon who he or she is. Sleipmon’s more than just a horse, Examon’s more than just a dragon, Rhodo’s more than just gay, Dukemon’s more than just the holder of the Digital Hazard, and I’m more than just a ******* who has trouble getting up in the mornings.”

    “Are you?” Duftmon dryly quipped.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes. “For a genius, you’re sure damn close-minded...” he muttered.

    “Humph,” the tactician merely hummed in indignation.

    With that scoff, a silence overtook them again, and they were once again graced by the sounds of the brisk night breeze and the sounds of their beating wings.

    The stiff quietness continued for several minutes. Dynasmon dwelled on his thoughts, and eventually felt the need to voice them. “Did you really mean what you said?” he asked with a serious voice.

    Duftmon looked over. “I am not telepathic. You’re going to have to specify what you mean, Dynasmon,” he explained, looking over despite a few strands of his blonde hair blowing in his face.

    “That you don’t need friends,” he explained. “And that you don’t even view us fellow Royal Knights as friends.”

    Duftmon paused. “If I’m to be honest... yes. I did mean what I said,” he replied, having never been one to lie.

    Dynasmon clenched his fists a bit, trying not to feel offended. “That’s... sad,” he told his fellow Royal Knight in a voice traced with pity.

    The leopard knight looked over at him with a scrutinizing gaze. “...Why is it sad?” he asked with an honest obliviousness in his tone and eyes. He frowned with peevish vexation. “Are you... pitying me?”

    The dragon knight opened his mouth to say that he wasn’t, but upon thinking about, he stopped. “I guess I am...” he admitted. “The fact that you don’t consider anybody a friend...”

    Duftmon’s green eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at Dynasmon. “...You see, Dynasmon?” he asked, even then, a shade of smugness was mixed in with his dulled, tempered outrage. “You’re a hypocrite. You’re judging me – looking down on me – because of the amount of ‘friends’ that I have. You believe that a Digimon’s worth is measured in the amount of friends that they have. How is that any different from my judgments?”

    Dynasmon sneered. “I never said that,” he protested. “I just think it’s sad.”

    “As I think it’s sad when the name of the Royal Knights – this continent’s prime and exalted deterrent force – is sullied when a six-legged horse or an oversized dragon joins our ranks,” he explained.

    A growl escaped Dynasmon’s mouth. “That’s not the same at all!”

    “Why is it not?” Duftmon asked.

    Dynasmon snarled with frustration as he tried and failed to think of a counter argument. “It... It just isn’t! I can’t explain it; I don’t have the logic and argument skills that you have, Duftmon, but that doesn’t make me wrong and you right either!”

    “If you say so,” Duftmon responded coolly.

    The dragon’s angry red eyes remain firmly planted on Duftmon’s figure, even as the leopard knight turned away. “If we’re not your friends, and you apparently can’t stand the sight of us, then why are you even part of the Royal Knights, Duftmon?” he asked him. “Why not just quit?”

    “Do you want me to quit?” Duftmon asked him inquisitively, looking back over.

    “No, I’m just asking,” Dynasmon replied, although part of him wasn’t sure why he didn’t just say ‘yes’.

    Duftmon folded his arms, thinking for a few moments about his response. “I want to be a part of the Royal Knights. It’s a prestigious order which protects the Digital World using the principles of intervention and deterrence theory. It allows me to actually put into action all of my studies from the esteemed Xuanwumon University instead of simply debating it with mentors and alumni.”

    Dynasmon eyed him carefully. “So, which is it? Being in a prestigious order? Protecting the Digital World? Or your intellectual pursuits?” he asked.

    “All of them, I suppose,” he responded, somewhat defensively. “I know that the common consensus among you all is that I am selfish, but I do happen to care about protecting the Digital World.”

    “I never said you didn’t,” Dynasmon answered. “But it seems strange that you’d stick around if we’re all so... – I don’t know – bothersome. You never socialize with us outside of missions.”

    “On a social level, no, I don’t. I prefer reading a good book than partaking in frivolous group activities. However, I hold you all on a strictly professional level. I do admit that most of you have your uses,” the lithe knight explained. “You are Royal Knights, after all.”

    “Our uses? It’s like you view us as tools,” Dynasmon said, raising an eyebrow.

    “Royal Knights are here to do a job, aren’t we?” Duftmon told him. “We’re not Royal Knights to be part of a social club; we’re here to provide order and stability to the Digital World, and do what it takes to stamp out evil.”

    Dynasmon slowly narrowed his red eyes with a slight grimace. “Somebody else once said that too...” he spoke in a near mutter.

    “Pardon?” Duftmon asked him.

    “Nothing...” he told him.

    “Well, like I said, I’m a tactician. It is my job to see that all of the pieces move in a precise, orderly way to ensure our success on the battlefield,” the leopard knight said.

    “Pieces? We’re not pawns for you to play with like back at your university, Duftmon,” Dynasmon challenged harshly.

    “I’m simply doing my job, Dynasmon,” Duftmon countered. “I’m pragmatic. We all have roles to play in every operation. Our roles are dangerous ones, but we volunteered for the job. All of us did.”

    “I hate when people say ‘pragmatic’ like it’s something to be proud of. It’s just an excuse to do amoral things when it comes down to it,” Dynasmon retorted, leering at him. “And I know it’s dangerous; that’s exactly why you can’t just view us as chess pieces. That’s why holding us at a professional level is dangerous. You may not view the others as friends, but I do, and I don’t want them getting hurt.”

    “In my opinion, Dynasmon, you’re much too fixated on the concept of friendship,” Duftmon told him with a stoic gaze.

    Dynasmon arched an eyebrow. “I am?” he asked.

    “Yes,” the tactician responded. “You’re extremely loyal to them. To a fault. I’ve seen you do foolish, reckless things to protect your friends, even risking your own life to do so. You also lash out at those who mistreat your friends, even when you shouldn’t step in at all.”

    “You’d think that would be a good thing,” Dynasmon countered, frowning again.

    “You burden yourself,” Duftmon explained. “You’re burdened a lot more than I am. What happens if one of the Royal Knights or one of the Warrior Ten dies in the line of duty? It’s entirely possible, given how dangerous our jobs are. It would impact you severely. You could fall into a deep depression, whereas I—“

    “Wouldn’t care?” Dynasmon finished for him, glaring. “So caring is a flaw?”

    “To me, yes. To you, obviously not. To you, pragmatism is a flaw. To me, it isn’t,” Duftmon explained. “I think you’re wrong, but you’re obviously of a different opinion. I doubt anything I can do could change that. So, just don’t let it get in the way of my tactics, understood?”

    Dynasmon scoffed. “Just as long as you don’t get sour at being out of the loop,” he retorted, taking a jab at what he suspected was Duftmon’s reason for his mood recently. “All you had to do was ask me about the Dark Area.”

    Duftmon narrowed his eyes and sped up his flight, ignoring Dynasmon.

    Dynasmon took satisfaction in knowing that he was able to get under his comrade’s skin.

    However, his grin vanished when he looked into the distance. Far off, in the shadowy distance, he could see a faint orange glow lighting up the night. “Hey, Duftmon. What is that?” he asked, quickly forgetting that he was angry at him.

    “I’m not sure,” Duftmon answered. He squinted his eyes and gazed into the distance, trying to make out the eerie glow within the darkness. “Could it be... fire?”

    “Yeah, that’s exactly what it looks like,” Dynasmon said with a serious expression. He turned to Duftmon. “Let’s go.”

    He beat his large, purple wings powerfully and flew towards the fiery glow at a faster speed.

    Duftmon nodded and started to fly closer to the ground. His body became encased with light. “Mode Change! Duftmon: Leopard Mode!” he announced.

    From the flash of light burst a brown-armoured leopard, dashing across the grasslands on four strong legs. His blonde mane soared behind him as he took on impressive speeds. He flapped the two large, white, feathery wings on the hips of his hind legs which propelled him back into the air at a velocity that surpassed Dynasmon.

    “Don’t rush in, Dynasmon,” Duftmon: Leopard Mode told him as he passed the dragon. “I’m going ahead to survey the situation. I’ll have a plan ready by the time you get there.”

    “Fine,” Dynasmon begrudgingly agreed. He was still peeved with the leopard Digimon, but he knew it would be stupid and petty not to listen to his tactics. He didn’t always approve of Duftmon, but he knew that his tactics were some of the best.

    Dynasmon watched as Duftmon: Leopard Mode rushed ahead of him. As he disappeared into the darkness, Dynasmon couldn’t help but mutter to himself with a chuckle, “I still don’t know how you looked down at Sleipmon for being a beast Digimon when you have your Leopard Mode stashed away.” The dragon’s expression soon grew serious again. “I just hope that it isn’t that escaped prisoner that caused that fire...”

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode flew swiftly through the air. As he soared across the night sky, he carefully scanned the area with his keen, red, feline eyes. He saw nothing out of the ordinary apart from the fire ahead of him.

    As he drew closer, he could see that the fire wasn’t isolated; a quarter of a town was ablaze. Duftmon hissed a bit and swooped down the top of a small, grassy hill, landing on his four paws. He had to squint at the bright flames as he inspected the burning village. Even though the town was still about fifty meters away, he could still smell the pungent aroma of smoke and feel the heat of the flames warming him underneath his fur.

    Amidst the villagers’ shouts and screams of terror, he could hear loud, aggressive, raucous voices behind the flames.

    Raiders...” he thought to himself, sneering.

    He scanned the town and its surrounding terrain, thinking carefully about what to do. Due to the flames and the buildings blocking his vision, he was unable to see the raiders, or the villagers, for that matter. “I’ll need an aerial view to understand the situation,” Duftmon thought to himself. “They won’t be able to spot me against the night sky with the intensity of the flames on the ground.

    Duftmon bounded from the crest of the hill with feline grace, and flapped his wings to fly higher into the sky. He glided over the scorching town, surveying it with a scrutinizing gaze. He ignored the stinging sensation in his eyes as he flew through a pillar of smoke, focusing intensely on what was below. From what he could see, the fire was primarily around the east edge of the town. That’s where the small bandit force was. There were nine, from what he could tell. Duftmon could see them pillaging the town and destroying buildings in search of loot. As a result, the civilian Digimon were all fleeing to the west. He looked behind him. He knew that Dynasmon would be coming from the north any minute now, so he decided to circle around and head back to the hill.

    The leopard flapped his wings and flew back. He could see Dynasmon by the fiery reflection in his white armour as he closed in on him. Dynasmon flew down and landed beside the feline.

    “The town...” Dynasmon said concernedly, looking past Duftmon as the blaze. “What did you find out?”

    “It’s a raid by bandits,” Duftmon explained. He turned around and pointed with his paw to the left. “The raiders are over there on the east end of the village. The civilians are heading west in retreat.”

    “So, I guess it doesn’t have anything to do with our fugitive?” the dragon asked.

    “I highly doubt it,” Duftmon told him. “It seems implausible that the first thing he would do upon coming out is convince a bunch of bandits to attack a strategically insignificant town.”

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon said. “Do you have a plan?” He looked at the feline Digimon, his body language indicating that he was ready to go into action.

    “Yes. I’m going to use Wolkenkratzer to seal off their exit from the east. I’ll then jump down to deal with them. Naturally, they will head westward to retreat or use the civilians as hostages. That’s why I want you to move in from the west side of the village. You can cover the villagers and advance eastward to cut off the raiders’ retreat. We’ll surround them,” Duftmon explained, detailing his tactics to him. “You can use Breath of Wyvern to finish them off and suffocate the fires.”

    “Okay,” Dynasmon agreed.

    “And don’t take too long,” Duftmon said. “There are about nine of them. I may be stronger than them, but when there’s nine Digimon of any level swarming you alone, it’s hard to think properly and react efficiently.”

    “I got it,” the dragon man said. “Just say when to start.”

    Duftmon turned around and gazed at the burning village. “Three. Two. One. Commence the attack.”

    Dynasmon and Duftmon: Leopard Mode were off in a flash. Duftmon raced to the left, dashing down the hill, while Dynasmon started circling around the right end of the village by air.

    Duftmon reached the edge of town as the soft breeze blew smoke and glowing cinders in his path. He pounced into the air. “Wolkenkratzer!” he called out confidently.

    The ground began to tremble and tremor, enough to cause one of the burning buildings to collapse in a burst of embers. The bandits and town Digimon alike looked around with surprise and fear. Suddenly, a tower of stone exploded from the ground, much like the ones from the crater they visited earlier, except this one was created by Duftmon. It rose ten feet into the air before another rock column just beside it burst from the ground and rose up even higher.

    The process continued; Duftmon continued creating a rock staircase, high into the air. The stone pillars were rough, jagged, and thick. They burst from the ground and rose up vertically, going as high as nine meters. Bits of grass, earth, and rock fell from the columns as they shot up from below. The towers of bedrock were locked close together so that not even skinny humanoid Digimon could pass by them. They formed a full semi circle around the eastern edge of the town.

    Duftmon stopped at the middle of the semicircular wall, at its highest point, and gazed down. The bandits turned around with shock, trying to see where the huge wall suddenly came from.

    The large, green, reptilian body of a Tuskmon turned around. “What the hell is going on?!” he demanded, craning his head to look up at the wall that suddenly appeared behind he and his raiders.

    “Who’s up there?!” another of the raiders asked, trying to see past the bright flames to identify the shadowy figure at the top of the barrier.

    “I am Duftmon of the Royal Knights!” he announced, glaring down at them with shining feline eyes. “It is my duty to punish you for breaching our laws and attacking innocent Digimon.” He turned fully on the rocky column to face them, digging his crimson claws into the rock. “Now you shall suffer the consequences.”

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode leapt off of the pillar and descended on them, hurdling through the smoke. “Blockade!”

    A Fangmon bandit’s eyes widened as Duftmon lunged upon them at high velocity. “It’s a Royal Knigh-YAHH!” he screamed in pain as Duftmon ran by him, ripping across his wolf-like form with the jagged, blue spikes that protruded from his neck and forelegs.

    Duftmon continued past the raider as he burst into data, speeding down the orange-hued, stone street to put himself between most of the bandits and the rest of the village and its villagers. “Eroberung!” he announced. He skidded to a stop, turning around mid-slide, and lashed his tail out. The yellow, spherical tip of his tail glowed and released several gleaming globes of swirling, compressed energy. The spheres flowed out across the street behind him, putting another set of obstacles between the bandits and their way out.

    Tuskmon quickly turned around to face him in a lumbering fashion. He gritted his teeth with anxiety, and looked over his horned shoulder at the wall behind them. He knew that they were trapped and they would have to get past Duftmon to escape. He didn’t fancy their chances in battle with him, but they didn’t have a choice.

    “They’re the ones that took down that BanchoLeomon!” one of the raiders announced in fear.

    “Attack!” the Tuskmon leader yelled. “There’s only one of him! Pin that kitty down and he’ll be helpless before us! Everyone at once!”

    To make a point of solidarity, he charged Duftmon first. He didn’t want his fellow bandits trying to flee and leaving him the only one against Duftmon.

    “Wait, what are those yellow things behind him?!” the pink, scythe-armed form of a Kyuukimon asked his boss, reluctantly rushing towards Duftmon as well.

    “Here’s a tip!” Tuskmon told him sarcastically. “Don’t touch them!”

    Duftmon watched as they began to charge him. “Fools,” he muttered. The armoured leopard narrowed his eyes and bolted into action as the six bandits closed in on him.

    -

    Dynasmon hovered over a busy street, coordinating the safe evacuation of the scared civilians.

    “This way! This way!” he told the hundred or so Digimon before him. “Get to safety this way in an orderly manner! Don’t rush and be mindful of the Digimon around you. You’re under the Royal Knights’ protection.”

    “There are two bandits still behind us!” a Digimon yelled to him in worry.

    Dynasmon flew forwards promptly getting behind the last of the civilians protectively. He looked down the street, towards the distant flames, and saw a Vamdemon and a MachGaogamon rushing towards him.

    “With a Royal Knight here, it’s every ‘mon for themselves,” the MachGaogamon told the other raider. “The others are on their own.”

    “I don’t care,” the Vamdemon replied. “Just as long as I can kill some Digimon before I’m taken down too.”

    “Oh, I wouldn’t do that, guys,” Dynasmon explained, dropping down in front of them and landing on the street.

    “Crap! Another!” MachGaogamon exclaimed, wide eyed and skidding to a halt. His face scrunched with anger. “Howling Cannon!”

    He opened his maw and let loose an ear piercing howl from his mouth. Hypersonic waves blasted towards Dynasmon, ripping up the street. Dynasmon sneered and was suddenly very wary of the villagers escaping behind him; if he moved to avoid the attack, they might be in danger.

    Instead, he crossed his arms in front of him and took the blast. Despite being a Mega level in chrome digizoid armour, it still hurt. The sonic attack bombarded his eardrums and the shock wave itself pounded into him. It felt like flying into a brick wall. Dynasmon staggered backwards, grunting, but he managed to keep himself from falling.

    Next, Vamdemon rushed forwards for an attack. “Bloody Stream!” he called out, summoning a long, crimson whip in his hand that he brought down towards Dynasmon.

    Dynasmon raised his left arm to block the attack. The burning, crimson energy whip wrapped around Dynasmon’s forearm a couple of times. The dragon knight sneered and held against the pulling. “You two are getting on my nerves,” he told them.

    With a mighty pull of his arm, he yanked Vamdemon towards him by the whip, strongly and sharply enough to pull him off his feet. Dynasmon wound back his arm and thrust his fist into the vampire’s face, ending him flying back and extinguishing the whip around Dynasmon’s arm.

    Dynasmon then raised his hands and outstretched his palms, pointing the red lenses in his hands at the two raiders.

    “Dragon Thrower!” he called out with a firm, clear voice. The gems in his palms glowed and suddenly exploded with energy. A stream of blazing energy ripped from his left hand and consumed the MachGaogamon, destroying him. At the same time, from his right hand pulsed a torrent of light, which pierced through the Vamdemon’s body and burnt him to data from the inside out.

    With the two bandits gone, Dynasmon was free to go down the long street to back up Duftmon. He started to flap his wings, but a voice called out from behind him.

    “Dynasmon! Dynasmon! Please, help!” the frantic voice of a Snimon shouted out.

    Dynasmon turned around questioningly. He saw the Snimon looking between the Royal Knight and a burning building with a look of terror on his face. He didn’t seem to be harmed, but the dragon could tell that something was definitely wrong. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

    “It’s my son! He’s trapped inside the house! Please, help him!” he begged, pointing with one of his scythed arms to burning house he was facing.

    The Royal Knight rushed over, pushing the Snimon away as the blaze suddenly came pouring out the window at him. “Are you sure?!” he demanded, looking at the fiery house.

    “Positive! A stray attack hit the house and we got separated!” he told him desperately.

    Dynasmon frowned with concern. He listened and could hear a young voice coughing from inside, confirming to him that there was someone inside. “Duftmon can wait,| he thought to himself. “I need to save that little guy.

    With a powerful swipe he crushed the burning door with his fist and made his way inside. Fire coated the walls of the large house and the top half of the room was filled with smoke. Dynasmon trudged deeper into wide room and saw a terrified Kunemon hugging the ground tightly.

    “D-Daddy?” the young Digimon asked in a trembling voice, looking over at the approaching figure, having trouble making out who it was.

    “No, it’s Dynasmon. I’m a Royal Knight,” he reassured him. He reached out his large hand to him. “Your dad is safe outside. Do you want to come with me?”

    The Kunemon looked uncertain. However, he heard the popping and crackling of fire, as well as the sound of wood beginning to break, and quickly jumped into Dynasmon’s hand, hugging his thumb tightly.

    Dynasmon smiled slightly and raced out of the house to where the Snimon was waiting anxiously. “Here he is,” Dynasmon said to him, offering his hand out.

    “Kunemon!” Snimon exclaimed with relief. He rushed over to Dynasmon.

    “Daddy!” the Kunemon replied, leaping from Dynasmon’s hand and onto the mantis’ chest.

    “Thank you so much, Dynas-!” the Snimon was cut off by the sound of the interior of the house collapsing in on itself, causing even more flames and smoke to flow into the air.

    “You two need to get to safety. It’s still dangerous here,” Dynasmon told them.

    “R-Right,” the Snimon said, quickly flying off after the rest of the civilians.

    Dynasmon eyed them for a few moments before he turned to the opposite direction. He frowned and flapped his wings mightily, flying into the air. “Now to back up Duftmon. That didn’t take too long, right?

    -

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode was glaring furiously. “Where in the hell is that horn-brained moron?!” Duftmon internally demanded while nimbly but gracelessly ducking under a might swipe of the Tuskmon’s claws.

    Without getting a chance to breathe, he then scampered away just in time to avoid being crushed by a Zudomon raider’s descending Chrondigizoit hammer. The mallet collided with the stone street and erupted with sparks, narrowing missing his tail. Duftmon dashed forwards but suddenly bolted awkwardly to the left to avoid being grabbed by a MasterTyrannomon.

    “Wolkenkratzer!” he shouted, raising a rocky pillar to separate himself from his opponents. He needed to get his bearings; acting purely on impulse in battle was something that Duftmon absolutely abhorred.

    He panted slightly and looked around impatiently. “Where is he?” he whispered under his breath. “Even with those two bandits who were closer to the west side of the village, it shouldn’t take him this long.

    Duftmon circled around in a cat-like fashion to put more distance between himself and his foes. He had taken out three of the seven, but four still remained, and they weren’t giving him a chance to breathe. It angered him to admit that they weren’t terrible tactics on the part of the bandits. He had underestimated their response; however, that part he didn’t admit.

    What angered Duftmon even more was the fact that they had gotten a hit in on him. There was a deep slash in his armour at the shoulder of his left foreleg. The Kyuukimon managed to get in a good hit right before Duftmon killed him. Duftmon shoulder’s stung with pain, and he could feel the warm trickle of blood inside his armour. Although he didn’t think that the cut was very deep, it did affect his agility.

    “That idiot dragon,” he hissed to himself.

    No more than a second later, the Zudomon smashed through the pillar of rock with his giant hammer.

    “Found you, kit-“

    “Wolkenkratzer!” Duftmon spoke, summoning another pillar of rock in the place of the one that was just destroyer. The thick, stone column shot upwards and slugged the Zudomon in the chin, also shattering his long tusks in the process. He cried out in agony and clutched his face, staggering backwards and dropping his hammer.

    Duftmon then charged him, pouncing on the Zudomon’s chest and sending him stumbling into one of the glowing spheres he placed with his Eroberung attack. The globe, in fact, was a mine, which detonated as soon as the Zudomon made contact with it. The mine detonated in a blast of energy which shattered the Zudomon’s shell and tore through his form until only scattered data remained.

    “Damnit! Get him!” Tuskmon ordered the MasterTyrannomon and WereGarurumon bandits.

    The two bandits began to charge forwards, but they stopped in their tracks when a strong voice entered their ears.

    “You might want to reconsider that!”

    The three bandits turned around. Duftmon looked as well, although scowling that he had the nerve to show up like that when he was late.

    Dynasmon flew down the street, smirking at the bandits. “The cavalry is here! Dragon Thrower!”

    He aimed his palms at the three bandits and power pulsed out from within them. The attack flew in a double helix spiral towards the three and blasted into the ground before them in a blast of energy, throwing all three of them off of their feet.

    “Duftmon!” he called out.

    Duftmon complied, darting down the street and getting behind Dynasmon, who stopped and landed on the ground.

    The pupils of Dynasmon’s red eyes shrunk and his back became swathed in a fearsome white aura that lit up the dark, fiery street. “Breath of Wyvern!” he roared.

    The white power that flickered and danced around Dynasmon’s back suddenly grew into a massive, fearsome dragon that rose up from his body. The energy dragon had arms, legs, and wings. Wyvern snarled and looked around with his three, dark blue eyes. His gaze landed on the recovering bandits, who gazed up at the dragon with shock.

    “Kill it!” Tuskmon demanded. “Bayonet Lancer!”

    The energy javelins that burst from Tuskmon’s horns sailed towards Wyvern and passed harmlessly through his body, which was made completely of Dynasmon’s energy.

    Wyvern roared savagely and descended on them on his own accord. The dragon tore through Duftmon’s Eroberung mines, detonating them behind him, and sweeping across the three remaining raiders. As he carried them through the air, he spread out his wings, which passed through the burning houses, destroying them and snuffing the flames with his own. Wyvern blasted through the bandits and continued through the rock blockade around the edge of town that Duftmon created. The bandits crashed through the rock and flew out into the grassy exterior, their data breaking apart before they could hit the ground.

    The rocky pillars crashed down noisily, creating a cloud of dirt and dust. The bandits were gone, and the flames were extinguished. When the dirt cleared, Wyvern turned around and looked at Dynasmon, giving him a thumbs up with his fiery claws. Dynasmon grinned and nodded, and Wyvern disappeared in a large wisp of white energy that travelled back to Dynasmon’s body once again.

    “Well, that’s done with,” Dynasmon said aloud. He turned to Duftmon, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry I took a bit longer, I--“

    “You thick dunderhead!” Duftmon shouted, walking up to him. “Where were you?!”

    Dynasmon frowned, annoyed at his tone. “Look, I was saving a kid from a burning building. Plus, I had to get through two bandits. I wasn’t that late.”

    “Oh, really?!” Duftmon replied crossly. He turned to Dynasmon in a way that revealed the deep cut in his armour. Although it was dark, he could see that there was blood beneath the hacked armour thanks to the shimmer of the moonlight in the red liquid. “Late enough for me to get injured.”

    Dynasmon grimaced a bit, feeling somewhat bad. However, he wasn’t going to let Duftmon place all of the blame on him. For all he knew, it was an error on Duftmon’s part. “Maybe you should have been more aware of your surroundings,” Dynasmon suggested, folding his arms in indignation.

    “You’re not seriously blaming me when you’re in the wrong, are you?!” Duftmon asked, scowling.

    “You’re the one who’s the first to blame everybody else,” Dynasmon countered.

    Duftmon glared at him with his cat like eyes. “Mode change!” he said crisply. Dynasmon: Leopard mode shifted back into his humanoid knight form. Upon taking the form, he winced and held his left shoulder with his hand, feeling the wound in this form as well. “I told you not to take too long. I was against seven of them. With all of them attacking me at once, there’s no wonder that they landed a fortunate hit on me. Fortunately for you, I was able to defend myself, so things were not as bad as they could have been.”

    “Look, I’m sorry I was late, but I had to rescue that kid,” Dynasmon told him, glancing over at him. “I assumed you’d be fine for an extra minute or two.”

    You screwed up my tactics, and chaos was the result,” the leopard knight said to him coldly. “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be sporting this gash.”

    “It’s just a cut, Duftmon,” Dynasmon assured him in a mix of annoyance and exasperation.

    Duftmon merely scowled and began walking down the street towards where the civilians were evacuating. Dynasmon rolled his eyes and followed him.

    They could see several of the villagers already remerging once they saw that the fires were gone and the sounds of battle had died off.

    The fox-like form of a Kyuubimon ran over to the two knights. “Thank you so much for saving our village,” he said to them.

    “Yes, of course,” Duftmon said somewhat dismissively, still thoroughly annoyed with Dynasmon.

    “It’s no problem,” Dynasmon replied. “You guys were lucky that we happened to be passing by.”

    “Extremely lucky,” Kyuubimon responded, sighing with relief. He then looked past them at the destruction on the east side of town. “For the most part.”

    A female Allomon walked over to them as well. “If there’s anything we can do for you, just tell us,” she told the knights. She managed to spot the blood trickling from under Duftmon’s shoulder around. “Can we get the doctor to fix up that wound, Sir Duftmon?”

    Duftmon shook his head. “No need. It is just a flesh wound,” he assured her.

    “That’s not what he was saying a minute ago,” Dynasmon muttered under his breath.

    “If you’re sure...” she said uncertainly, although deferred to his will.

    “It’s just a shame everyone couldn’t have been as charitable as you,” the Kyuubimon said. “Maybe our village would have suffered less destruction.”

    “What do you mean?” Dynasmon asked, suddenly curious at his choice of words. “Are you referring to the bandits?”

    “Well, no...” he replied. The fox Digimon once again looked past them, down the street to the eastern side of town. “Several minutes after the bandits started attacking us, I could see a figure travelling south down the path outside of town.”

    “A figure?” Duftmon asked, now curious as well.

    Kyuubimon nodded, thinking back to earlier. “Yes. A strong looking Digimon. Humanoid. He - or I think it was a he – was walking along the path. At first I thought he was one of the bandits, but when I heard that it was Tuskmon’s gang, I knew that it wasn’t. I was going to call out for help, but I remember he stopped and looked towards the village. I thought he was going to come and help on his own accord, but then he just continued walking south, down the path,” the Kyuubimon mused. “It was like he was dragging himself, actually. Maybe he was so tired he didn’t feel like helping.” The fox digimon shrugged dismissively.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon both looked at each other.

    The dragon knight spoke first. “Do you think it’s...?”

    “It could be who we’re looking for,” Duftmon conjectured.

    “Pardon?” Kyuubimon asked.

    “Nothing,” Duftmon replied. “How long ago was this?”

    “I don’t know. An hour? Two? Everything’s been so hectic...”

    “Did you see what he looked like?” Dynasmon asked.

    “Not really,” Kyuubimon admitted. “It was dark. I just know that he was bipedal and had a humanoid silhouette. It was too brawny to be a female Digimon. Then again, I could be wrong...”

    The blonde haired knight nodded. “I see. We’ll be leaving now.”

    “Are you sure?” the Kyuubimon asked, seeming to be in a position of power in the village. “You both must be tired, and it’s really late. You could stay at the inn on the west edge of town – for free, of course.”

    “No, but thank you,” Dynasmon said to him. “We’re on urgent business. We need to get back to our headquarters. We’ll send up some of our soldiers to help your town with reconstruction in the morning.”

    “Thank you. I mean it,” Kyuubimon replied.

    Dynasmon nodded politely and started walking alongside Duftmon down the street, heading east, to the path that the Digimon Kyuubimon mentioned went south on. They walked out of the partially burnt and destroyed village, over the rocky remnants of the wall that Duftmon had made. There was still an air of tension between them, but they were united in their concern over the fugitive.

    “Can you still fly with that cut?” Dynasmon asked, glancing at him

    “Yes,” was Duftmon’s answer.

    “Good. We still have a few hours to go. Maybe we’ll be able to catch him,” he said. “We should skip checking on Dusk Forest.”

    “I suppose,” Duftmon said in a cold huff.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes and took to the night sky, leaving the village which still smelled of smoke and glowed with small cinders. He heard the flapping of Duftmon’s wings behind him. He knew that the knight was furious at him. He assumed Duftmon would go into one of his moods and cold shoulder him. Dynasmon sighed and prepared himself for what would be a long, tense fly home.

    -

    Two hours later, the Royal Knight had reached their territory. Even with the light of the dual full moons guiding their way, they were unable to find the fugitive on their return journey.

    They walked along the dirt road that lead to their castle. Upon reaching their territory, they had decided to go by foot to give their sore wings a rest. Ahead of them, they could see the Royal Knights’ headquarters standing proudly against the backdrop of the large moon.

    “It’s good to be home,” Dynasmon said aloud, hoping to break the silence that had pervaded for over two hours.

    Duftmon didn’t reply. He walked off of the road and strode over the grass to take a shortcut to the front gate of the castle.

    Dynasmon followed him, trying not to let Duftmon’s temperament get under his scales. “...How’s the shoulder?” he asked.

    “Painful,” Duftmon answered matter-of-factly. He gave an aloof glance over his shoulder. “And we know whose fault it is, don’t we?”

    “I said I was sorry,” Dynasmon muttered. “Can’t you just accept apologies like a normal Digimon. Do you always have to sulk and go on and on about how you were right and they were wrong?”

    “If you’re going to insult me, this conversation is over,” Duftmon told him.

    Dynasmon groaned with frustration. “Why are we even fighting?” he asked.

    “You know why.”

    Dynasmon shot him a glare. “I mean why are we squabbling over petty things? Did we both forget what Alphamon said to us earlier?” he asked, frowning in contemplation. “Shouldn’t we be able to work together without getting into big arguments like we did throughout today?”

    Duftmon was quiet for a few moments. He reflected on Dynasmon words carefully. “We are very different...” he reasoned.

    “Examon and Craniamon managed to get past their differences, for the most part. I know that everybody argues sometimes, but we should be able to look past those differences, especially today of all days, when we know that a fugitive from the Dark Area has escaped,” Dynasmon countered. “Alphamon’s right. If we’re supposed to be Royal Knights, then we need to act like Royal Knights. It’s our job not to get distracted by petty differences.”

    “I know!” Duftmon conceded in annoyance, suddenly glaring at the grass in front of him. “It can’t be helped sometimes, however...”

    “I know,” Dynasmon replied with a sigh. “But can we put aside out differences now?”

    Duftmon grunted and folded his arms. “Very well...”

    “Good...” the dragon man said. He glanced at Duftmon. “You know... I know you don’t consider any of us your friends, and Yggdrasil knows that you get on my nerves sometimes...”

    Duftmon glanced over at him with a flat gaze.

    “But I do consider you one of my friends,” Dynasmon told him.

    The leopard knight blinked with surprise.

    “...What?” Dynasmon asked, looking at him out of the corners of his eyes as he walked up beside him.

    “I see...” Duftmon replied in an uncertain tone. He looked over at Dynasmon. “Am I supposed to respond with something similar as well?”

    Dynasmon couldn’t help but chuckle. “If you want to. Don’t strain yourself though.”

    “On second thought, I think I will decline,” Duftmon replied, suddenly speeding up and refusing to look at Dynasmon.

    “Oh, good. I was getting worried there for a second,” Dynasmon said with a laugh.

    The two walked in silence, travelling near the tranquil moat surrounding the castle. Dynasmon looked up at the stone parapets as he walked. Duftmon concentrated on picking at some of the long-dried blood on his arm.

    “Halt! Who goes there?!” a voice called out from the ramparts of the castle wall.

    Dynasmon’s eyes fixed on a Knightmon who was on night watch duty. “It’s Dynasmon and Duftmon!” he called out, waving his arm.

    “Alright,” the Knightmon replied upon recognizing their figures and Dynasmon’s voice. “Carry on to the front gate. I’ll inform the gate-master.”

    Dynasmon nodded and headed to the front gate as directed, walking beside Duftmon. They continued along the edge of the deep moat.

    “Dynasmon,” Duftmon suddenly said.

    “Huh?” The violet Royal Knight looked over.

    “Why did you join the Royal Knights when it was first founded,” he asked inquisitively. He continued walking. “I told you my reasons.”

    Dynasmon smirked at him. “Do you really need to ask that?” he asked him.

    Duftmon thought for a moment. “...No. I suppose I don’t. You joined because you like to help people.”

    “Yeah. That’s pretty much it,” the dragon man replied as they approached the gate and waited for the chrome digizoid portcullis to be lifted.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “You’re not totally unsuitable for the position,” he told him. Before Dynasmon could respond, he walked through the gate, as the portcullis was lifted.

    Dynasmon stood there for a few moments and scratched his cheek, looking at Duftmon with surprise. “I can’t tell... was that a compliment...?” He shrugged and walked inside the castle grounds as well. Now they had to report to Alphamon and the others what they had discovered...

    -

    Continued in the next post.
     
  9. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the last post)

    Dynasmon and Duftmon sat in their seats in the council room. An emergency meeting had been called when they reported that their findings were urgent. All eleven of the Royal Knights, plus OuRyuumon and Grani, were there as well.

    “This had better be urgent,” RhodoKnightmon said tiredly. “I need my beauty sleep.”

    “It is...” Dynasmon explained, looking over at Alphamon.

    Alphamon stared back at him with a strong, unreadable expression. “Tell us.”

    “Duftmon, KaiserGreymon, AtlurKabuterimon and I went to the rift up where they specified,” Dynasmon explained, grimacing. “PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon were unconscious when we arrived. The rift was gone. PileVolcamon said that something escaped.”

    “What?!” Alphamon demanded, standing to his feet and glaring with clenched fists.

    Omegamon’s eyes widened, Dukemon glowered angrily, and Magnamon grimaced.

    “He was heading south, towards our territory” Duftmon explained calmly. His wounded shoulder had been cleaned and bandaged by Duskmon. “We attempted to follow him, but we had no real trail to go on, except when we checked the DADAR at the Warrior Ten’s headquarters.”

    “Him? Do you know who it is?”Alphamon asked, sitting back down after regaining his composure.

    “No. He attacked too quickly for PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon to even see him,” Dynasmon explained. A Kyuubimon from a village that we came across just said that he was male in build.”

    “A Kyuubimon? How do you even know it’s the same guy then?” OuRyuumon challenged.

    “I think it was the fugitive that he saw,” Dynasmon said firmly. “Apparently the guy looked fatigued. Whoever escaped from the Dark Area would be pretty weak as well. He also looked strong, according to the Kyuubimon.”

    “What else did the Kyuubimon say?” Alphamon asked.

    “He had a brawny, humanoid body,” Dynasmon replied.

    “That doesn’t tell us much,” Dukemon said. “Though all this does explain why our rift suddenly closed...”

    “What?” Dynasmon looked over at the crimson knight. “The rift in Dusk Forest closed?”

    Dukemon nodded. “While Anubismon and I were there. It closed right in front of us for no reason.”

    “Nothing came out?” Duftmon inquired.

    “Not a thing,” Dukemon answered. “I guess it was at the same time that the one the Ten were guarding closed.”

    “That would make sense...” Omegamon supposed.

    “But why didn’t the rifts just stay open?” Magnamon asked.

    “I guess whoever opened them could only keep them open long enough for the fugitive to escape,” UlforceVeedramon said. “It’s probably good that that was the case or else we’d have a load of evil, powerful Digimon set free.”

    “Nothing about this is good,” Alphamon said grimly. “We need to find this fugitive and fast.”

    “Why don’t we use the DADAR system again?” Dynasmon asked.

    “The excess data would have likely worn off by now,” Grani replied.

    “Then what do we do?” Examon questioned.

    “...Rest,” Omegamon proposed, looking around the table. “For now. It’s very late and we’ll be able to think more clearly after some sleep.”

    “Yes...” Alphamon concurred, although reluctantly. He stood to his feet and looked at Dynasmon and Duftmon. “Thank you for your effort, the both of you. You could use the sleep.”

    “I wouldn’t say no to some rest,” Dynasmon admitted, feeling very tired after a busy day. He didn’t even want to shower, he was that tired.

    “Then let’s adjourn this meeting,” Alphamon said to the knights. He began to head for the great hall but then he thought to stop and turned around. “By the way... I apologize for my impatience, earlier. This business with the rifts has been getting to me.”

    Dukemon grinned. “I’d say you’re allowed to get angry every once in awhile, Alphamon. I’m sure we give you enough cause,” he told him.

    Alphamon offered him a short but fleeting smile and turned to exit into the great hall. OuRyuumon followed behind him. They turned into the right door on the near end of the great hall and went into the stone corridor.

    “It’s still getting you to you, isn’t it?” OuRyuumon asked him, eyeing him suspiciously.

    “Yes,” Alphamon responded.

    “And you’re still worrying about Omegamon, aren’t you?” the serpent dragon questioned.

    “...Yes,” the black knight admitted.

    “You’re the leader of the Royal Knights, right? Where’s that calm demeanour you’re famous for?” OuRyuumon demanded, folding his arms.

    “I’m too tired for a pep talk, OuRyuumon. Just let me sleep, alright?” He looked over his shoulder at the dragon. “Please?”

    OuRyuumon sighed. “Fine...” he reluctantly conceded.

    Alphamon gave him a grateful look and headed towards the stairs so that he could go up to his room.

    OuRyuumon watched as the Lord of the Empty Seat disappeared down the dark corridor. The drake thought to himself, heading down the hallway as well. “I just hope it’s not him you’re worried about...
     
  10. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Urgh. These character limits are awful. This wasn't even that long.

    Chapter 13: Beware the Black Night​


    A billiard stick struck a white cue ball firmly, sending it crashing into a black ball. The ebony sphere rolled across the felt surface of the pool table, ricocheted off the edge, and sunk into one of the corner pockets.

    “Nice shot, Examon,” Dukemon said to him, putting his hand on the dragon’s spiked shoulder. “I was going to make that same shot if you scratched it.”

    Examon gave him a small, light grin. “Then it’s good that I didn’t scratch it.”

    UlforceVeedramon, Magnamon, and Craniamon stood in the recreation room as well. UlforceVeedramon was watching the pool game play out, while Magnamon and Craniamon were playing darts. They were dressed in their casual attire, indicating that they didn’t have any duties to perform at the moment.

    “Hah!” Craniamon announced triumphantly after throwing a dart. “I win.”

    UlforceVeedramon looked over his shoulder with a grin. “Are you sure Magnamon didn’t just let you win so that you wouldn’t go into a losing sulk?”

    “I wish that was the case, Ulforce...” Magnamon assured him, going to collect the darts from the board and sighing a bit.

    Craniamon looked at Magnamon. “Don’t you start blaming that bruised arm. It’s long healed by now,” he told him, although with a hint of playfulness in his normally stern tone.

    Examon put the pool stick away and leaned on the table. He looked over at the other Royal Knights. “So, Dukemon, Magnamon... What do the two of you make of what happened with the rifts?” he asked them.

    “What about Ulforce and I?” Craniamon asked indignantly.

    “Yeah, Ex-sama,” UlforceVeedramon teased, placing his hands on his hips.

    “No offence intended... They’re part of the founding knights, so I assumed they know the most about what’s going on,” Examon sheepishly responded.

    Dukemon grinned a bit. “Well... what’s there to make? We know what happened.”

    “How did the fugitive escape? And who is he?” the red dragon asked.

    “We can really only guess at this point,” Magnamon said as he went to sit down on one of the couches.

    “However, there aren’t that many prisoners in the Dark Area, from what Alphamon said,” Examon explained. “Couldn’t we do a process of elimination from what we do know about the fugitive?”

    “There’s between thirteen to seventeen prisoners there. A strong, brawny, bipedal guy isn’t really enough to go on. There’s a few of those,” Dukemon said, sitting down next to Magnamon.

    Examon nodded. “Alphamon seems to be bothered by it,” he remarked, noting their leader’s change in behaviour recently.

    “We all are, at least a little,” Dukemon explained with a lowered brow. “I think Alphamon feels responsible to some degree, like he should have done something to stop it.”

    “What could he do?” Craniamon said with a dismissive shrug. “It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to prevent.”

    “Is there anything we can do?” UlforceVeedramon asked. “I feel weird about just sitting around like we have been for the past week.”

    “Not really,” Dukemon admitted. “It’s up to Grani and his Recon Squadron to keep searching.” He managed a grin. “That oversized bird’s been working hard these past several days.”

    “I can empathize, Ulforce,” Craniamon said. “But Dukemon’s right. It would be impractical for us to go wandering the Free Area in search of him. Leave that to the experts; we have other jobs to do.”

    “Not much recently,” UlforceVeedramon pointed out, leaning over the back of the couch that Dukemon and Magnamon were on. “If a fugitive did escape, wouldn’t he have done something by now?”

    “Not if he was smart,” Dukemon reasoned, scratching at his white shirt. “He’d be pretty weak and disoriented upon escaping, especially if he used a load of energy in opening those rifts. Also, since he came into contact with the Warrior Ten, he’d have probably gone into hiding until he regained some strength.”

    “I guess you have a point,” Ulforce replied. “Still, it’s weird seeing Alphamon so uptight. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him nervous.”

    “That’s why we should use this down time to keep his mind off it!” a voice declared.

    The five Royal Knights turned their gazes towards the doorway, where the voice was coming from. They saw OuRyuumon standing in the door with a grin plastered on his draconic face. “Hey, guys,” he greeted.

    “OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked. “Did you have something in mind?”

    “Like setting him up on a date?” UlforceVeedramon asked, smirking at the idea.

    OuRyuumon suddenly glared. “LIKE HELL!” he snapped at Ulforce fiercely. He then settled down and fingered at his collar with embarrassment. “I meant like- Well, look! The Spring Festival is nearby! I say we should all go there. It’s not like we can do anything about the fugitive right now.”

    “The Spring Festival, huh?” Dukemon asked, looking up as if in thought.

    “Hey, that’s not a bad idea,” UlforceVeedramon remarked. “Hey, OuRyuumon had a good idea!”

    “Funny,” he muttered with an annoyed expression.

    “The Spring Festival...?” Examon asked, looking at them curiously.

    “Seriously, lizard? You don’t know?” OuRyuumon asked, looking over at him. “Did you live in a cave or something? I thought they had the Spring Festival all over the continent, even in the UDC.”

    “No, they had it. I just never attended, so I’m not really sure what it’s about,” Examon responded, somewhat sheepishly.

    “Big surprise,” OuRyuumon said, rolling his eyes.

    “There’s games, competitions, contests, food, a whole lot of stuff,” UlforceVeedramon explained. “Traditionally, it has to do with Qinglongmon, since the Spring is his season, but, these days, Digimon of other beliefs - or no beliefs, like OuRyuumon here - celebrate it too.”

    “Yeah. There was one going on, back when me, Alphamon, and Omegamon were visiting Auguria, but the one that takes place in the Free Area is on a much bigger scale,” OuRyuumon added, smiling at the idea.

    “I see,” Examon said. He frowned sceptically. “And you think that Alphamon would be up for that?”

    OuRyuumon folded his arms indignantly. “He will if we all go.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t mind,” Dukemon admitted. “And I agree that Alphamon could use a distraction.”

    “I’m in,” UlforceVeedramon said with an excited grin.

    “Me too,” Craniamon spoke, grinning at the idea of all the contests.

    “If Alphamon agrees, I’m up for it,” Magnamon told them.

    Examon also nodded, somewhat curious to see what the Spring Festival was like.

    “Great,” OuRyuumon said, smirking. “Then let’s go put it to the others.”

    The five Royal Knights stood up and followed OuRyuumon out of the room to find the other knights downstairs.

    -

    “No, that’s a horrible idea,” Alphamon said firmly.

    He stood in the marble foyer, looking OuRyuumon square in the face. They were surrounded by the other ten Royal Knights. Alphamon was the only one of the knights who was in his armour. The rest wore their casual clothes as a result of the lack of activity lately.

    “What?! It is not!” OuRyuumon protested.

    “Come on, Alphamon,” Dukemon implored. “I think we could all use a stress reliever. All we’ve been doing these past few days has been sitting on our hands while Grani and his scouts search the area.”

    “There’s a fugitive from the Dark Area on the loose, Dukemon,” Alphamon told him. “There are more productive things that we should be doing than having our whole team go out to a festival. We could be honing our skills, at least.”

    “Our skills are pretty honed,” Dukemon countered. “A few hours away at the Spring Festival isn’t going to make a difference to that.”

    “We could call it a public relations mission,” UlforceVeedramon suggested, smiling.

    “I’m with Alphamon,” Duftmon spoke up. “I also think it is a waste of time.”

    “You’re just anti-social,” OuRyuumon told him flippantly. “And you have zero concept of fun.”

    “And you have zero concept of common sense,” the leopard knight retorted. “What if something happens while we’re gone?”

    “We’ll get a messenger to send for us,” Craniamon said.

    “If anything were to happen today, it might be most likely to happen at the crowded festival,” Examon reasoned.

    “He has a point. We could call our presence there security too,” UlforceVeedramon added.

    Alphamon frowned. He wasn’t convinced.

    “Why don’t we put it to a vote?” Omegamon asked him.

    “Fine...” the leader of the Royal Knights said, although reluctantly. He looked around. “All those against?”

    Alphamon raised his hand, as did Duftmon. He inwardly cursed at the result. “All those abstaining?” he asked again.

    Omegamon raised his hand.

    “...All those in favour?” Alphamon asked in a defeated voice.

    Dukemon, Magnamon, UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon, Examon, RhodoKnightmon, Dynasmon, Sleipmon, and OuRyuumon all raised their hands.

    “Very well...” Alphamon told them, suppressing his annoyance. “Can I at least stay here?”

    “Not a chance,” OuRyuumon told him, smirking.

    Alphamon brought his hand to his face and sighed. He knew that OuRyuumon would literally drag him if he needed to. “Rrgh...” was his only sound of reluctant submission.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “Very well. It will constitute my exercise for the day. Just as long as I’m under no obligation to do anything,” he responded.

    “Oh, yeah. Sure!” UlforceVeedramon assured him, although crossing his fingers behind his back.

    “Then let’s go in, say, half an hour?” OuRyuumon suggested.

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “That should be enough time for me to get something ready for the food tables,” he replied, beginning to think about what he could make.

    “Yeah, the rest of us will get ready,” Dukemon said.

    Alphamon grunted. “Alright,” he muttered, walking to the left set of stairs and heading up to his room on the second floor.

    OuRyuumon noticed him leave and decided to follow him. “Hey, Alphamon,” he said, tucking his wings back to avoid hitting the walls of the corridor as he climbed the stone steps.

    Alphamon reached the hallway on the second floor and turned around to look at OuRyuumon as the dragon emerged from the stairwell. “What are you thinking, OuRyuumon? What’s this about?” he asked shortly.

    The taller dragon raised an eyebrow and looked down at Alphamon. “Huh?” he asked. “I just think that you need a break. You’ve been stressed out ever since you found out the rift had been getting bigger.”

    “Of course I have,” Alphamon retaliated. “And with good reason. There’s a highly dangerous Digimon roaming around the Digital World and you want to go to a festival.”

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but sneer, feeling affronted. “Yeah, I do,” he replied defensively. “We can’t do anything right now, so I want to help take your mind off it.”

    “I don’t need my mind taken off it,” Alphamon explained, leering up at the dragon. “The fugitive is exactly what we all should be focusing on.”

    The gold serpent rolled his eyes. “And until then, you’re going to keep snapping at me and the other Royal Knights?” he asked.

    Alphamon paused, thinking to himself. “Have I really been that bad?” he asked.

    OuRyuumon nodded with a serious look. “I thought being into guys would save me from having to deal with moody significant others,” he mentioned.

    “You’re a fine one to talk,” Alphamon contended. The black knight grimaced almost immediately upon hearing the words leave his mouth. He brought his hand to his face and rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry, OuRyuumon… You’re right; I have been short lately due to the circumstances. And I know you’re only trying to help.”

    “Yeah, well... I’ll forgive you if you come with me to the Festival,” OuRyuumon told him, offering him a half-smile. “And I don’t want you to be making a face the whole time either.”

    Alphamon gave him a small grin. “Alright… Fine. We have a deal.”

    “Good.” OuRyuumon smirked and walked forwards to hug Alphamon.

    Alphamon began to return the hug, but his eyes suddenly widened and he sharply pushed OuRyuumon back. OuRyuumon looked at Alphamon in surprise and was about to say something in annoyance, but then he noticed that Alphamon was looking past him. This prompted OuRyuumon’s heart to drop and look behind himself nervously.

    Omegamon stood at the top of the stairs, behind the gold dragon. “...Sorry. Don’t mind me,” the white knight told them quickly, averting his gaze. He turned right, down the hall, and walked past them hurriedly and awkwardly.

    The two watched with bated breath as Omegamon walked down the hall and disappeared inside his room. When the door closed, they sighed.

    “Great...” Alphamon muttered, grimacing and rubbing the back of his head. “This is why we don’t have intimate moments in public.”

    OuRyuumon winced a bit. “Yeah... Got carried away,” he mumbled. “At least it was someone who already knows.”

    “’At least’,” the knight echoed ironically. He looked down the hall again. “I’m surprised he agreed to go to this festival, considering what happened at the Festival in Auguria.”

    “You need to talk to him, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him. “Every time he’s around I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. There’s a tense atmosphere all the time. I think you’ve waited long enough, don’t you?”

    “I don’t know,” Alphamon responded, sighing lightly. He didn’t want to admit it, but part of him was stalling. “Maybe. I’m just trying to figure out... the right words.”

    “Yeah, well, the longer you leave it, the worse it’s gonna get,” OuRyuumon explained. “Talk to him soon. Letting stuff like this boil up will only make it harder.”

    “Yes. Okay,” Alphamon told OuRyuumon. “Just... not today.”

    “Fine, but soon,” the tall, gold serpent told him. “Then that’ll be one problem out of the way.”

    Alphamon nodded and looked down towards Omegamon’s room. “I hope so...”

    -

    After a forty five minute walk through their territory, the twelve members of the Order arrived at the Spring Festival, just inside the neighbouring state of Aurum. Aurum was named partially for the river, the Aurum Magnus, which ran directly through the state. The river had a mysterious yet beautiful gold hue to its water. There were many myths as to why the water was coloured as it was. Some thought it was blessed by Fanglongmon. Others thought that an Olegmon hid his hoard of pirate treasure at the start of the river.

    The Royal Knights and OuRyuumon walked on a wide, sturdy, stone footbridge that spanned the width of the broad river. They enjoyed the scenic sight of the Aurum Magnus. The gold water glistened brilliantly from the warm sunlight above.

    UlforceVeedramon and Magnamon peered over the edge of the arching bridge, down at the water.

    “Rumour has it that Magnamon here stashed the Digi-egg of Miracles down there,” UlforceVeedramon teased.

    “That’s just stupid,” Magnamon responded, glancing up at him blandly.

    “There’s a scientific explanation, surely,” Duftmon mentioned self-assuredly as he walked past them on the bridge. “It likely has to do with the data.”

    “If there is, I don’t want to know, Duftmon,” Sleipmon told him, following behind him and looking around at the river. “Half of the beauty of it is not knowing.”

    Duftmon rolled his eyes. “Romantics...” he muttered disdainfully.

    “I think it’s quite beautiful as well,” RhodoKnightmon remarked, observing the bright water, as he carried a large, covered platter of food in his arms.

    “Meh. It’s just some stupid water,” OuRyuumon said dismissively from beside Alphamon. “The real action is up there.”

    He pointed his index claw at the other side of the bridge. The path leading away from the bridge led to the main city in Aurum, Gold Keep. It was a fairly large city, and one of the larger ones in the Free Area. Outside the gates of Gold Keep was the Spring Festival, as evidenced by the collection of hundreds of tents, stalls, and other such things. It was like the Spring Festival that was at Auguria except multiplied by ten.

    There were all sorts of various games, contests, food stalls, and even rides on large Digimon on the outskirts of the festival, where there was more room.

    “The community spirit sure is nice,” Dukemon mused, smiling as he walked off the bridge.

    “Get ready to be swarmed, everybody,” Dynasmon joked, walking beside the crimson knight.

    Omegamon winced and began to lag to the back of the group so that he could avoid being part of the center of attention.

    UlforceVeedramon got behind Omegamon, placed his hands on his back and ushered him forwards. “Come on now, don’t be shy, Omegamon,” UlforceVeedramon said with a broad grin. “You’re something of a heartthrob, you know.”

    “Ulforce!” Omegamon said in protest, getting pushed alongside the Royal Knights as they entered the festival.

    It wasn’t long until the large amount of Digimon there began to recognize them. Excited voices began to ring out and spread among the crowds, at the fact that not just one, but the whole team of Royal Knights were there. The Royal Knights soon found themselves surrounded by excited fans.

    Omegamon became flushed. He really hoped that this would mean getting mostly all of the recognition over with. “Thank you for your kind words,” he sheepishly told some of the Digimon that started fanboying at him.

    Dukemon and Sleipmon, on the other hand, happily took to signing autographs, using some pencils that they brought.

    Examon was adapting to swarm of Digimon around them. He was used to getting some crowds back at the UDC, particularly after he helped fend off bandits, but this felt much different from that. He looked over at Magnamon. “How long does this usually last for?” he asked him.

    Magnamon chuckled. “We’ll be free after a few minutes or so,” he assured the dragon.

    After a couple minutes, the crowd started to thin and most Digimon, except for the hardcore Royal Knights fans, remained.

    A VictoryGreymon stood in front of Alphamon with wide, awestruck, green eyes. “And I really like your armour and your fighting style, and it was so cool the way that you took down that Armageddemon that time! I didn’t see it myself but I heard about it and I’m a really big fan of all of you and it’s socoolthatyou’reallhereattheSpringFestivalI’mnotfromheremyselfIcomefromavillagenorthoftheFreeArea,” the VictoryGreymon, who was talking so excitedly that he began to string his words together, was forced to stop and take a breath. “And then-!”

    A hand reached out and grabbed the VictoryGreymon’s shoulder, pulling him back. The Alphamon, who had a dry expression on his face, but maintained his politeness, looked over to see a ShineGreymon pulling the VictoryGreymon a bit.

    “Sorry, Alphamon, sir,” the ShineGreymon told him in a cool, laid back voice, although he had an excited twinkle in his blue eyes as well. “My friend’s a bit excited. He’s a really big fan. Well, we both are.” He pulled his friend back and whispered to him. “I said to play it cool in front of them. You’ll embarrass us, dude,” he told him.

    “But it’s the Royal Knights!” VictoryGreymon whispered back.

    OuRyuumon looked over at Alphamon. “Come on, Alphamon,” he said. “Let’s look around.”

    “Yeah, let’s all split up,” Dynasmon said, beginning to walk down the path. “It looks weird if we’re all together.”

    “Sounds good to me,” Dukemon said, walking in a different direction.

    “Wait!” Duftmon said with some distress. “We haven’t assigned a meeting place! Or meeting time!” he called after them.

    “We’re big boys,” Craniamon said to him, walking past the leopard knight. “We’re not going to get lost.”

    Duftmon frowned. “But it’s essential to have an organized schedu--“

    “Duftmon, sir!” a voice said from beside him. The voice belonged to the VictoryGreymon Royal Knight fan again. “Can I please have your autograph?”

    “Hm. Very well,” Duftmon obliged, taking the pencil and scribbling down the autograph. “There you are.”

    “Thank you!” the young adult dragon man said, gleefully running off back to his group of Greymon friends.

    When Duftmon looked up again, the rest of the Royal Knights were already out of sight. “Blast it!” he proclaimed.

    -

    Alphamon and OuRyuumon walked through the festival area. OuRyuumon lead the way and Alphamon followed him, both looking around with varying degrees of excitement. They walked past various tents, both big and small, as well as countless stands. Around the fringes of the festival area were open spaces designated for things like Digimon rides, and competitions, like for archery, sword fighting, and wrestling. There were many decorations all around, styled after blue, serpentine dragons, bearing a resemblance to Qinglongmon.

    OuRyuumon had a stick of pink cotton candy in his hand that he munched down on. He pulled a piece of the sugary textile away with his teeth and happily swallowed it. “You should have gotten some, Alphamon,” he said. “This stuff is great!”

    “No, thank you,” Alphamon replied, looking around the area. “I’m not hungry.”

    The dragon rolled his violet eyes and turned around to look at him. “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself,” he reminded him.

    “I’ll try,” Alphamon responded half-heartedly.

    “What are you so worried about, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked him through a mouthful of cotton candy.

    Alphamon stalled for a few moments before he decided to look over at OuRyuumon. “That it’s him...” he explained.

    OuRyuumon suddenly slowed down. He walked beside Alphamon. “I thought so...” he muttered heavily. “So you’re worried that that bastard is the fugitive?”

    “I know it sounds ridiculous. Any one of the prisoners in the Dark Area is cause for great concern. It’s just, with our history... I don’t know, it somehow seems worse when I think it could be him,” Alphamon told him.

    “There’s no proof that it’s him. Besides, there’re a lot worse guys that could come out of the Dark Area than him,” OuRyuumon explained.

    Alphamon looked at him dryly. “That doesn’t make me feel any better, you know...” he mentioned. He looked ahead thoughtfully. “Well, at least that I confirmed that the Dark Area is firmly sealed again. I just need to make sure that I can reinforce it. I don’t want this situation to be repeated.”

    “Don’t worry about it right now,” OuRyuumon said to him. “Besides, for you, I’ll gut whoever it was that escaped.”

    Alphamon smiled a bit. “That’s sweet...” On further reflection, he raised an eyebrow and frowned. “I think...”

    “Cotton candy?” the dragon offered, holding the stick in front of Alphamon’s face.

    “...No, thank you.”

    -

    Dynasmon walked down a pathway, with stalls and stands set up on both sides. In one hand he carried a sausage on a stick, the type of sausage apparently being a regional specialty from the northern half of the continent. In the other, he held a full box of DigiNoir.

    “The food here sure is good,” he muttered to himself through a mouthful of food.

    As he walked down the path, he noticed that one of the stalls was empty and had a ‘closed’ sign on it. Dynasmon could see the yellow, insect-like form of a Digmon anxiously pacing behind the stall. Dynasmon walked over to the stall curiously and looked at the other sign. “A kissing booth?” he asked.

    The Digmon looked over at him. “Dynasmon, sir!” he exclaimed with surprise. “Uh... Well, not any more. The guy who was supposed to be the kisser came down sick, and I can’t have him spreading his germs around.” The Digmon sighed. “I should just take the booth down; I look ridiculous standing here.”

    “That’s hard luck,” Dynasmon observed.

    The Digmon looked over at him, his eyes suddenly flashing excitedly. “Hey... You’re an attractive man...” he pointed out.

    “Uh, thanks. I’m only interested in women though,” Dynasmon responded, smiling uncomfortably.

    “Great! Then how about you substitute for my guy here at the kissing booth? It would be a massive favour to me. And being able to kiss a Royal Knight... the line would be huge!” the Digmon said with enthusiasm.

    Dynasmon frowned. “Uh... I don’t know...” he said uncertainly.

    “Well, how about for half an hour?” the Digmon proposed. “So I can find a replacement.”

    Dynasmon folded his arms. “Well...okay. But only if the profits can go to a charity,” he said.

    “All of the profits made during the Spring Festival go towards the infrastructure of the town,” the Digmon explained.

    “Alright, then,” Dynasmon said, smiling a bit to himself. He walked behind the booth and sat down.

    “Uh... Have one of those first,” the Digmon said, pointing with his drill at a bowl of mint leaves on the shelf of the stand.

    Dynasmon finished his sausage, put his box of DigiNoir down, a put one of the leaves in his mouth for his breath.

    The Digmon smiled gratefully. “Okay. Thanks a bunch! Enjoy!” he told him, jogging off to find a replacement.

    Dynasmon shrugged and waited patiently. It wasn’t long until he heard a girlish squeal of excitement. An Angewomon raced over to the booth to be his first customer. The line behind her started to swiftly grow.

    “Just put the money there, my lady,” he told her with a small, debonair grin.

    “O-Okay, Dynasmon,” she told him, blushing although looking excited as well.

    After putting her money in the box, she leaned over the booth, and Dynasmon planted a soft, courteous kiss on her lips. After a second, they pulled away. The Angewomon was red faced; she whispered a thank you and ran back to her friend.

    “He is a good kisser!” she told her.

    Dynasmon smiled. He could get used to doing this. “Next!” he announced.

    Next in line was a female AeroVeedramon, who approached the booth. Dynasmon smiled at her. “Whenever you’re ready, Miss.”

    The process continued and the line grew longer and longer as time passed.

    “Next,” Dynasmon said, after dabbing his lips with a napkin.

    An Airdramon approached next, looking a bit timid. “Um, hi, Mister Dynasmon,” she greeted awkwardly. “I’m a big fan of yours.”

    Dynasmon smiled graciously. “You are? I hope I don’t disappoint you then,” he said with a grin, leaning on the stall with his arms and bending over the table.

    The Airdramon blushed and leaned in to kiss him. He pressed his lips against hers and gave her a soft gaze before pulling away again. “Th-Thanks,” she told him shyly, quickly turning and flying off.

    Dynasmon smiled at the next customer. His smile vanished immediately.

    RhodoKnightmon stepped forwards and leaned on the stall. Before Dynasmon could protest, he put his money down. He brought his hand up and teasingly scratched Dynasmon’s chin with his index finger. “I’m waiting for my kiss, handsome...” he told him in a seductive tone.

    Dynasmon’s eye twitched and he took on an expression of repulsion. “I want to go home now...”

    -

    Meanwhile, Examon, Sleipmon, Craniamon, and Magnamon walked around the competition area of the festival. Magnamon looked over at them, noting that each of them had a medal and a prize.

    “So... each of you won something?” he asked.

    “Naturally,” Craniamon answered.

    “It looks that way,” Sleipmon humbly replied in contrast to Craniamon’s self-assuredness. “I won the archery competition, Examon won the air rifle one, and Craniamon won the wrestling competition just now.”

    “Lucky,” Magnamon responded, folding his arms. He secretly wished he had won something too.

    “There was no luck involved,” Craniamon told him with a small, yet confident smirk.

    “Lucky for us, I meant. I didn’t want to have to put up with you when you’re in one of your moods,” Magnamon responded jokingly.

    “I feel a bit bad about competing,” Sleipmon said. “It’s not exactly fair for the other contestants. We are the Royal Knights, after all.”

    “We weren’t born Royal Knights,” Craniamon countered. “We became them through hard work. It’s not unfair. However, I can agree that the level of competition was a little disappointing.”

    “Why not challenge OuRyuumon?” Examon suggested. “I saw him watching you during one of your wrestling matches. I’m sure he’d be up for going up against you in the sword fighting competition.”

    “You have a point,” Craniamon said, enjoying the idea of competing against him.

    “I see him and Alphamon up there,” Magnamon said, pointing down the path to where he can see the familiar tall dragon talking animatedly with Alphamon.

    “I was not!” OuRyuumon protested.

    “Oh, really?” Alphamon responded, his arms folded, although he seemed to be enjoying himself. “I don’t believe you.”

    “What did you do this time, OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked, walking over.

    “Gah!” the serpent exclaimed, tensing up upon noticing them arrive. “Nothing!”

    Alphamon looked at Craniamon. “We were just discussing whether OuRyuumon was watching your wrestling match instead of getting me a drink, like he said he was going to do,” he responded deadpan.

    OuRyuumon flushed. What they were really debating was whether OuRyuumon was checking out Craniamon during the wrestling match or not. He was thankful Alphamon came up with an excuse, and decided to go with it. “Y-Yeah. Fine, I did. I was just hoping I could get in on a wrestling match with him,” he explained. His purple eyes widened and he began to internally curse himself out as his unfortunate choice of words.

    “Oh. Is that so?” Alphamon asked with a disapproving tone, although he was really just having some fun at OuRyuumon’s expense.

    “Uh, I m-mean. Like, any match!” OuRyuumon said hastily.

    “Good. I was hoping you would accept my challenge in the sword fighting competition,” Craniamon said, looking at him with a competitive gaze.

    OuRyuumon blinked and eyed him. A large, toothy smirk grew on his face. “Your funeral, Craniamon,” he told him. The dragon looked over at Alphamon. “You don’t mind—“

    “Go,” Alphamon said with a light chuckle, letting him know that he wasn’t actually upset. “I know how competitive you can be. Just don’t hurt each other too much, even if they are just wooden swords.”

    “Great,” OuRyuumon said, smirking at Craniamon. “You won’t be so good without your shield.”

    “That’s what you think, dragon,” Craniamon answered, walking with him towards the competition grounds where a bunch of Digimon were gathered.

    “I sure hope they come to a draw,” Magnamon said, watching as the two departed. “Neither of them are good losers.”

    “That’s true…” Alphamon replied pensively. “What are the others doing? Have you seen them?”

    “I saw Duftmon playing a lot of chess,” Sleipmon explained. “And I last saw Dukemon and Ulforce at the game where you try to strike the bell with the hammer. I’m not sure about the others though.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Do you three fancy getting something to eat?” he asked.

    “I wouldn’t mind,” Examon replied.

    “Me neither,” Magnamon said. “There are all sorts of interesting foods around here from other places.”

    “Alright, but nothing with horseradish,” Sleipmon agreed.

    Alphamon observed Sleipmon with a grin. “You know, horseradish is a plant often used in sauces; it’s not a meat,” he told him with amusement.

    “I know, but it still makes me uncomfortable,” Sleipmon answered decidedly.

    Alphamon chuckled and walked with the three away from the competition area and towards the food stands further in the festival grounds. They left Craniamon and OuRyuumon to their competition, which would last over forty minutes.

    -

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon were bent over a large pond in the ground. There were a few other Digimon beside them, doing the same. They each had tiny nets in their hands, and there were many multi-coloured fish swimming around the water. The Digimon were attempting to catch the fish in the small nets.

    “You were close, that time,” the long, blue, serpentine form of a Seadramon said, watching the players try to catch the fish. “Remember, if you can catch the crimson firebrand, you win the grand prize.”

    “It won’t be easy though!” a white, furry Gomamon said from atop the Seadramon’s helmeted head.

    “Why is this so hard?” Dukemon asked in frustration, sweeping his tiny net through the pond and catching nothing.

    “I think the Royal Knights’ crimson firebrand has met his match,” UlforceVeedramon joked, watching as the long, red fish darted around the pond vigorously.

    “Funny,” Dukemon blandly replied. “I can’t even catch the easy fishes, though.”

    “You’re moving your net too quickly,” the blue knight explained. “The netting’s sensitive and breaks easily. Do it like me.”

    “I am doing it like you; you’ve gone through the same amount of nets that I have,” Dukemon answered, glancing over with a grin.

    “Hey, I’m a naturally fast Digimon,” UlforceVeedramon told him.

    The crimson knight rolled his eyes. “I’m not giving up until I get one,” Dukemon said with stubborn determination, slowly trailing his net through the water.

    “Looks like we’re going to be here awhile,” Ulforce muttered.

    Dukemon’s eyes lit up as his net began to creep up on a fat, gold fish – the easiest type of fish in the pond to catch. He carefully moved his net closer and his concentration intensified. “Just a little...” Dukemon glared and gave a powerful sweep of his net towards the fish at the very last second. “MORE!”

    The fish passed through the net as Dukemon swung, breaking the netting due to the speed of the swing. It continued swimming obliviously.

    Dukemon’s eye twitched. “WHY ISN’T THIS WORKING?!” he demanded in frustration, beginning to hack at the water repeatedly with his broken net, scaring all of the fish away.

    UlforceVeedramon cringed as he and Dukemon started to get splashed by water. They got wetter and wetter the more Dukemon raged. “I don’t know this guy...” he muttered miserably.

    -

    “Checkmate,” Duftmon smugly said.

    He sat at a chess board, opposite to the large, azure form of a metal dragon – a MailBirdramon. He moved his black knight and gently took his opponent’s white knight away. This put the white king in inescapable jeopardy.

    The MailBirdramon calmly scanned the board for alternate moves. “...Well played,” he replied in defeat. “I didn’t notice that move.”

    “Naturally,” Duftmon spoke, “or else you would have been more aggressive with your knight two moves ago.”

    The MailBirdramon nodded. “I admit, I didn’t expect you to sacrifice your queen.”

    “Sometimes sacrifices are necessary in the grand scheme of things,” Duftmon replied, standing up.

    “Even if they’re important?” the steel bird asked, stepping away from the table as well. He looked down at Duftmon with a small grin. “Anyways, good game. It was an honour to test my wits against that of someone of your ability.”

    “I admit, you put up a valiant resistance,” Duftmon told him.

    The leopard knight gave him a terse nod and started to walk away, but he was nearly knocked down by a muscular figure. He winced and glared at whoever brushed past him so wantonly. “Be careful, you – Dynasmon?” he asked, recognizing the Digimon.

    Dynasmon stopped and turned, looking over his shoulder with a distraught face. “Oh, it’s you. I’m not feeling well; I’m going home,” he told him shortly, starting to walk away again.

    “It will have been all of that food that you shoveled down your gullet,” Duftmon blamed, following him. “You probably have indigestion. Or perhaps food poisoning. You should go and speak to Duskmon at once. I don’t want you getting sick in one of the corridors again.”

    Dynasmon grunted with annoyance. “I was drunk that time,” he said with a dismissive wave.

    “More fool you,” Duftmon told him.

    “Gruh. Look, leave me alone, Duftmon,” he told him with irritation. “I don’t need your ‘I told you so’s right now.” Without another word, he flapped his wings and started flying back home.

    Duftmon huffed and folded his arms, stopping. “Well, I never...” he uttered in indignation.

    “Duftmon!” a voice called out from behind him.

    The Digimon in question turned around and saw RhodoKnightmon make his way over. “RhodoKnightmon?” he asked curiously.

    “Have you seen Dynasmon anywhere?” he asked. “He’s been avoiding me for the past hour.”

    “I just saw him. He said that he was feeling ill, so he is flying back to the castle,” Duftmon explained. “Why?”

    “That- ugh,” RhodoKnightmon groaned. “I paid for a proper kiss so I am definitely getting a proper kiss!”

    “...I’m sure I don’t want to know,” Duftmon responded, looking exasperated.

    RhodoKnightmon looked at Duftmon and grinned. “However, if you-“

    “Don’t be disgusting,” Duftmon pre-emptively said, brushing past him and walking further into the festival.

    “You’re not my type anyways,” RhodoKnightmon replied huffily. He turned and began to walk out of the festival, after Dynasmon. “He sure flies quickly for somebody who is supposed to be sick.”

    -

    Omegamon walked down a makeshift pathway near the very edge of the festival, making his way around several different Digimon as he did. He muttered a few quiet ‘excuse me’s and tried not to bring too much attention to himself.

    The white Royal Knight looked around cautiously. He had become very wary ever since he saw that this festival also had a dunk tank; he was sure that OuRyuumon would drag him over to it as soon as he saw them both in his field of vision. He didn’t think his nerves could stand being made a spectacle of, so he did his very best to avoid them both.

    Up ahead of him, Omegamon noticed a small, young, Digimon standing on the counter of a booth. He was a rookie Digimon with purple and white fur all over him. Above his concentrated eyes was a red gem on his forehead. The DORUmon stood firmly on the mantle with a ball in his hand. The object of the game at the booth was to throw a ball at a bunch of stacked blocks and knock them all down in order to win a prize. The most noticeable prizes were the plush toys hanging sitting at the back of the stall. There appeared to be plush toys of the Digimon Sovereigns, the Warrior Ten, and the Royal Knights.

    The DORUmon threw the ball across the stall at the blocks, but the ball sailed past them and missed. He cringed with frustration.

    “Hey, almost got it that time,” the drum-like figure of a Dondokomon said. “You’ve got one more chance to knock ‘em down.”

    Omegamon watched curiously as the young Dorumon picked up the final ball and drew his tiny arm back. The beast Digimon threw the ball and it soared towards the stacked blocks. However, it hit only the top block of the stack, which weakly fell to the ground while the other blocks stayed almost completely still.

    The DORUmon looked down with disappointment. Omegamon’s gaze softened and he walked over to the stand.

    “Tough luck, kiddo. Want to buy another three balls and try again?” the Dondokomon asked.

    “No, thanks...” the DORUmon said with disappointment clear in his voice. He turned around and hopped down from the counter to the ground.

    He then saw a shadow pass over him and he looked up to see the comparatively tall form of Omegamon beside him. The DORUmon’s eyes widened with both awe and surprise. “You’re...”

    Omegamon gave him a small smile and turned to the vendor. “I’d like to try, please,” he told him.

    “Sure! That’ll be five bits for three balls,” the Dondokomon told him, taking a basket in his drumstick hands and raising it up to the counter.

    Omegamon paid and took a ball in his hand. He looked at the blocks quietly for a few moments. Both the DORUmon and the Dondokomon watched with anticipation. Omegamon’s gaze hardened and he reeled his arm, winding it up, and hurled the ball at incredible speeds. The ball not only tore through the blocks, knocking them all down, but it ripped through the back of the stall and sailed onto the grass a ways behind it.

    “W-Woah,” the DORUmon couldn’t help but say.

    The Dondokomon stared at Omegamon blankly. “...W-W-We have a winner!” he exclaimed nervously. “Please! Take any prize you like!”

    Omegamon turned and looked down at the DORUmon. “What prize would you like?” he asked the young beast type Digimon.

    The DORUmon’s eyes widened with shock. “M-Me?!” he asked him. “A-Are you sure, Mister Omegamon?”

    Omegamon smiled at him and nodded reassuringly.

    “Thank you... Um...” the DORUmon frowned in thought. Then, his eyes lit up. “Um... The Omegamon one!”

    The white knight couldn’t help but humbly blush. He turned to the Dondokomon and nodded. “That one, please.”

    The vendor hobbled over and collected the plush toy and handed it up to Omegamon, who passed it down to the DORUmon with a small smile.

    “Thank you so much!” the DORUmon told him, smiling broadly and squeezing the large toy as he gathered it in his small arms. “You’re really cool, Omegamon.”

    Omegamon felt embarrassed but he smiled anyways. “You’re very welcome,” he told him.

    He watched as the DORUmon sauntered off with a spring in his step. He grinned until he heard the voice of the Dondokomon from behind.

    “Um, you paid for two more balls,” the Dondokomon reminded him.

    “That’s alright,” Omegamon said, nodding at the vendor and walking off down a path that led deeper into the festival.

    He walked through the crowd of Digimon, deftly avoiding big and small Digimon alike. After a few minutes, Omegamon found himself at a collection of tables surrounded by food stands. Most of the tables were filled up by hungry Digimon. At one of the tables, he noticed Alphamon, Magnamon, Sleipmon, and Examon.

    Omegamon made his way over to them.

    Examon looked over from eating a barbequed leg of meat. He swallowed his mouthful of food and spoke. “Omegamon,” he greeted.

    Alphamon looked over as well. “Oh... Hello,” he said with a tiny smile.

    “Enjoying yourself, Omegamon?” Sleipmon asked him.

    “It’s not bad,” Omegamon replied. “Yourselves?”

    “Yeah, the games and things have been fun,” Magnamon said, grinning.

    “The food is delicious too,” Examon remarked. “I’ve never eaten some of these things before.”

    “Is that Dukemon and Ulforce?” Alphamon asked, looking behind Omegamon.

    The others looked over and indeed saw the two Royal Knights approaching. They were soaking wet, but Dukemon was holding something under his arm.

    “What happened to you two?” Sleipmon asked, grinning to himself.

    “Did you guys offer to go in the dunk tank?” Magnamon questioned, chuckling.

    “Don’t ask,” UlforceVeedramon deadpanned, leering over at Dukemon.

    “Look what we won!” Dukemon announced with a triumphant smirk. He held up a cute, stuffed Magnamon toy. “It’s a perfect likeness, don’t you think, Magna?”

    Magnamon suddenly took on a dangerous glare. “Pardon me?” he asked.

    “Woah... Which one of you said that?” UlforceVeedramon asked, getting in on the joke, looking between both Magnamon and the toy. “I can’t tell who’s who anymore.”

    Magnamon glared at them. “You won’t be able to tell who’s who once I find that mallet.”

    The two knights laughed. “Oh, relax. The Sleipmon toy is just as cute,” Dukemon told him.

    “Is it?” Sleipmon asked, not minding the idea, himself.

    “That and the Duftmon one,” Ulforce said with a smirk.

    “Pardon?” a voice asked from behind them.

    They turned around to see Duftmon walking over. “Oh, hey, Duftmon,” UlforceVeedramon greeted. “We were just saying that the plush toy version of you was cute. Especially the poofy tail.”

    Dukemon nodded and grinned. “They really captured your tail’s poofiness,” he explained, looking over at Duftmon’s tail.

    “Silence!” Duftmon snapped, suddenly glaring at them. “We are in a public venue! My tail will not be ridiculed!”

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon both burst into laughter. “I think we struck a nerve, don’t you, Dukemon?” the cobalt knight asked.

    “There must be a lot of nerves in that tail,” Dukemon answered, snickering.

    Alphamon rolled his eyes. “That’s enough teasing,” he told them. “Have any of you seen Dynasmon or RhodoKnightmon?”

    Duftmon folded his arms and looked away with indignation. “They both left to go home. I cannot say that I blame them.”

    “Oh, don’t be like that, Dufty,” UlforceVeedramon said with a broad smile.

    “They went home?” Examon asked.

    Magnamon frowned. “Did- oh, hey, Craniamon,” he interrupted himself upon seeing the Royal Knight storm over to them. “How was the—“

    It was Craniamon who interrupted that time. “I’m leaving,” he announced in a familiar, cold, brusque tone which left no room for argument.

    Alphamon looked at Craniamon blandly, already knowing what was bothering him. “OuRyuumon beat you,” he said.

    Craniamon glowered. “That slimy little lindworm cheated!” he declared angrily. “He tripped me with his tail! If it weren’t for that...”

    “You would have beaten him,” Alphamon dryly said.

    “And then the snake had the nerve to gloat afterwards,” Craniamon growled, crossing his arms.

    “Hey, at least it wasn’t your fault,” Sleipmon said to him. “So, there’s no need to train until sunset.”

    Craniamon shrugged and continued muttering foul words under his breath.

    “Anyways...” Dukemon said. He looked down at his soaked t-shirt. “We’ve been here for a few hours, and this water is starting to get cold.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Are all of you fine with heading back to the castle?” he asked.

    Examon nodded. “It’s been fun, but I wouldn’t mind heading back.”

    “Me neither,” Omegamon said.

    The rest of the Royal Knights nodded as well.

    “Alright then,” Alphamon replied, smiling a bit. “You all can go on ahead; I’ll go collect OuRyuumon and we’ll catch up.”

    Omegamon paused for a few moments but nodded. “Of course,” he told him. He turned to the other knights. “Whenever all of you are ready.”

    “Fine,” Craniamon said, tersely grabbing some food from Magnamon’s plate and beginning to walk.

    “Hey!” Magnamon protested, frowning as he stood up.

    “Don’t catch up too quickly, Alphamon,” Dukemon told the dark knight with a calm smirk. “Craniamon and OuRyuumon will be at each other’s throats at this rate.”

    “I know,” Alphamon responded, already having had factored that into his decision. He stood up and brought the remains of his food to the trash bin. “I’ll see you all in awhile.”

    “Bye, Alphamon,” Sleipmon told him, beginning to walk with the group.

    “Come on, Duftmon! There’s still time for you to volunteer for the dunk tank!” UlforceVeedramon teased.

    “Don’t you dare!”

    Alphamon grinned and nodded at the eight knights as they departed. He turned and began to walk to the competition area of the festival, where he felt that OuRyuumon would still be.

    He looked around the hordes of Digimon who were walking about, having fun, and talking with one another. Everybody was in the spirit of the festival. However, the Lord of the Empty Seat kept vigilant as he tried to spot the dragon Digimon.

    After a few minutes of walking and searching, Alphamon spotted a familiar head of purple hair among the crowd that had been previously hidden by the taller body of a DinoRexmon. He made his way over to what he was sure was OuRyuumon. Alphamon approached the tall, gold dragon and reached up to tap his shoulder.

    OuRyuumon turned around, a yellow popsicle half in his mouth. “Ulphamoaw,” he exclaimed through the mouthful of frozen treat. He took it out of his mouth and licked his lips. “Whatever that tin can’s saying, I won fair and square! He’s just being a sore loser.”

    “What? Oh, Craniamon?” Alphamon asked. “Never mind about that. We’re leaving now.”

    “What?! Already?” OuRyuumon complained.

    “Yes. Everybody else has already left. Besides, is there anything left to see after several hours?”

    “I didn’t get a snow cone yet,” OuRyuumon replied.

    “You’re eating a popsicle,” Alphamon pointed out, dryly. He saw OuRyuumon looking annoyed. He rolled his eyes. “Fine. One snow cone, but then we’re leaving.”

    “Deal,” OuRyuumon said, heading over to the snow cone stand occupied by the snowman Digimon Frigimon. “One black snow cone.”

    “A duskberry snow cone coming up,” she said, filling up a cup full of shaved ice and dripping a black, fruit syrup over it. She handed it to him and he took it before paying.

    “Don’t want one, Alphamon?” he asked him.

    “No, thank you,” he replied. “Can we go now?”

    OuRyuumon shrugged. “Yeah, sure,” he said, beginning to walk alongside him. They walked side by side through the river of Digimon. “What’s the hurry?”

    “No hurry,” Alphamon told him.

    The gold dragon looked at him suspiciously. “So, you’re not still on pins and needles, wanting to get back to the castle in case we miss something?” he asked him.

    Alphamon paused for a brief moment of contemplation. “Actually... No,” he responded.

    “No?”

    The knight shook his head. “To be honest, I’m glad that you made me come,” he told him, looking over with a smile. “Being here helped me to take my mind off of everything that’s been going on back home.”

    As OuRyuumon walked, he grew smug and placed his arms back behind his head as if it were no big deal. “You see? I knew that would happen,” he said with a confident grin.

    “OuRyuumon?”

    OuRyuumon opened an eye and looked over. “Yup?”

    “Your popsicle is dripping all over your back,” Alphamon deadpanned.

    OuRyuumon tensed up and abruptly moved his hands back in front of him. “****!” he yawped, quickly looking over his shoulder.

    Alphamon laughed and patted his wing.

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but smirk as well. “Sure, laugh. I try to do a nice thing for ya and this is what I get...”

    “Sorry,” Alphamon apologized, although still grinning. “Seriously, thank you. I know I wasn’t keen on the idea, but you turned out to be right.”

    “Hey, I am your advisor for a reason,” OuRyuumon told him.

    “I suppose so,” the leader of the Royal Knights replied. The two began to head to the festival’s exit, towards the bridge that they crossed to get there.

    Continued next post
     
  11. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Continued from previous post

    Alphamon and OuRyuumon walked back towards their territory, with Gold Keep and the Spring Festival at their backs. The mid-afternoon sun rested low in the sky and made for a relaxing, warm day. They strode down a dirt path that separated the grassy plains.

    On their right were flat, grassy fields, which were fairly commonplace for the Free Area. Over to their left was a lengthy hill that was kind of like a down land; its apex continued down on a flat incline for a good distance before sloping down back to ground level. Beyond the crest of that hill was more hilly terrain that went on for about two kilometers before becoming grassland again.

    The sun wasn’t so low that the two Digimon were shielded from it by the hill. In fact, only the very bottom of the sun started to dip behind the grassy summit.

    The two walked, taking their time. Alphamon wasn’t in a particular hurry to catch up with the rest of the Royal Knights, who, by now, had a large lead on them.

    “So, I guess you won’t mind going to the Summer Festival, huh?” OuRyuumon asked, looking over at Alphamon.

    “I could be convinced...” Alphamon answered with a vague grin.

    “Okay. Looks like I’ll have to convince you, then,” OuRyuumon said to him with a wink.

    “I suppose you will.”

    “Oh, I will.” OuRyuumon idly flicked his tail behind him. “Hey, did I tell you? This VictoryGreymon guy asked for my autograph. He knew a lot about me too. I guess I don’t have to be a Royal Knight to be famous, huh?”

    Alphamon looked over with a smirk. “Does that mean you’re satisfied being my advisor?” he teased.

    “Hell no!” OuRyuumon looked down and to his right, at the Digimon walking beside him. Alphamon looked back at him but he was distracted when something caught his eye. “By the way,” the dragon started, grabbing Alphamon’s gaze only for a split second. “Did you happen to talk to--“

    Alphamon suddenly grabbed OuRyuumon’s shoulder and stopped him in his tracks. OuRyuumon opened his mouth to ask what’s gotten into him but he swiftly noticed that Alphamon was looking past him. OuRyuumon didn’t like seeing that look in Alphamon’s eyes again. He slowly turned and looked over his shoulder.

    Standing at the top of the hill was a figure.

    OuRyuumon squinted his eyes, his view slightly obstructed by the sunlight. The silhouette was bipedal, humanoid, and dark in shape. The sun behind the male figure caused his features to be cloaked with dusky shadows, and it also caused him to cast one long shadow down the face of the hill. OuRyuumon couldn’t make out the Digimon, but he saw that he had a long, black and dark blue cape on his mantle, which fluttered to the side with every gust of air.

    “Who is that...?” OuRyuumon asked.

    Alphamon was silent. Instead of replying, he brushed past OuRyuumon and began climbing the hill.

    “Alphamon?” OuRyuumon questioned, perplexed. He started mounting the hill, following after Alphamon. “What are you doing?”

    Alphamon took no notice of OuRyuumon’s words. He just kept scaling the grassy hill with silent, intense determination. He looked up. The shadowy figure didn’t move a muscle. It was as if he was waiting for him.

    The higher Alphamon walked, the faster he went. He breathed heavily as he grew nearer and nearer to the top of the hill. His heart beat faster as more and more of the silhouette became revealed.

    He made out armour that was as black as the night, much like Alphamon’s own armour. His body was covered with metal plate mail. His chest was silver. Although the edges shimmered against the sunlight, the chest armour was the fearsome face of a darkened skull. The skull was crowned with a jagged gold crest, just below his metal collar. It matched the gold of his spiked knees and boots, his horned helmet, and the blades on the massive sickle like feature that adorned his left shoulder went all the way down his arm. On his opposite shoulder was a spaulder shaped like a visor-clad helm.

    However, the part of the body that Alphamon looked at was his face. The face looked down the hill at Alphamon, who stopped just below him.

    Alphamon stopped in his tracks, staring up at him with wide, red eyes. His heart pumped what felt like a million beats a minute. A shaky, distraught breath escaped his mouth as he gazed up the hill with horror and disbelief.

    The metal-covered face continued leering down at Alphamon. Shadows loomed over his facial features, and his steely yellow eyes just kept staring.

    “Alphamon...” DarkKnightmon calmly greeted him. “How nice to see you again.”

    With gaping eyes, Alphamon whispered under his breath to himself.

    “’Beware the Black Knight.’”
     
  12. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 14: Spectres of the Past​


    An eerie wind blew down across the crest of the hill. DarkKnightmon’s dark cape shuddered in the breeze as he gazed down at Alphamon. Both bodies remained still, almost as if entranced by the other’s presence. However, in Alphamon’s case, he was stalled by the sense of dread. In DarkKnightmon’s case, he was awaiting Alphamon’s reaction.

    OuRyuumon stood below Alphamon, further down the hill, gazing at the Digimon in shock. His face soon morphed into a savage, draconic glower, and he flapped his wings, ripping up the hill and getting beside Alphamon.

    “You!” he demanded in agitation. “What the hell are you doing here, you bastard?!”

    DarkKnightmon slowly turned his head towards OuRyuumon in recognition, unfazed by his aggressive, confrontational manner. “OuRyuumon... I suppose this is the second time that you didn’t expect to see me again, isn’t it?” he remarked to the dragon with a twinkle in his eye.

    OuRyuumon clenched his teeth and glared deeply. A sharp hiss escaped his throat.

    “You’re... the fugitive...” Alphamon finally said, composing himself. “You escaped the Dark Area... How...?”

    “I suppose it wasn’t as impervious as Imperialdramon Paladin Mode intended,” DarkKnightmon answered cryptically.

    “You suppose a lot, skull face,” OuRyuumon snarled scathingly.

    “I suppose I do,” the dark knight dryly said. He turned to Alphamon. “How is the Order doing? The other Royal Knights?” he asked.

    “That is not any of your business, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon firmly told him, taking a step forwards.

    “You wound me, Alphamon,” the fugitive replied, although he didn’t sound wounded at all.

    “That’s the plan!” OuRyuumon shouted. Suddenly, the dragon dashed forwards, summoning the twin Gairyu scimitars in his hands.

    A shroud of darkness surrounded DarkKnightmon’s right hand, and in a sharp burst of shadows, he summoned a huge, double-ended, blood red lance. He swung the mighty Twin Spear in front of him and blocked the descending swords, resulting in a flurry of sparks from the impact. His gold eyes narrowed and he drove his foot into OuRyuumon’s long body, sending him careening back into Alphamon.

    Alphamon let out a grunt of pressure as he caught OuRyuumon with one hand and stepped back to keep himself from losing balance on the hill. The Lord of the Empty Seat raised his hand in front of him, reaching past OuRyuumon. Emerald particles quickly gathered in the palm of his hand and glowed intensely. “Digitalize of Soul!” he shouted. A green beam blasted mightily from his palm towards DarkKnightmon, singing the tips of the grass below.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes flashed and he swung his dual lance in front of him, slamming it into the blast. He just barely managed to deflect the beam, but it sent his spear jerking back in his hand. DarkKnightmon used the momentum to swing the Twin Spear up and he began to swing it around rapidly. Shade began to emanate from the spear and spiral around his body.

    “No!” Alphamon cried out, pushing OuRyuumon to the side and dashing up the hill towards DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon rotated the spear faster and faster. Darkness bled from the Twin Spear and revolved around him, the shadows of murk and gloom crackling and whirring violently. The shadowy tornado consumed DarkKnightmon and began to tear up the grass around him, preventing Alphamon from getting close to him.

    “Treason Vortex!” DarkKnightmon exclaimed.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon called out in frustration as he tried to make his way towards the powerful, gyrating darkness.

    “We will meet again, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon said to him, staring at the black knight through the shadows. His eyes flashed red. “I promise.” His face was then concealed by a tendril of shade.

    “No!” the knight protested. He got ready to summon his Seiken Gradalpha to hack through the tornado, but the shadows suddenly expanded and amplified.

    The black, deadly whirlwind consumed both Alphamon and OuRyuumon and threw them into the air. The two crashed into the ground and they rolled and tumbled violently down the hill until they hit the very bottom.

    Alphamon winced but wasted no time in getting to his feet. He was about to dash back up the hill when he saw that the dark funnel of power had vanished.

    OuRyuumon spat and scrambled to his feet. He flapped his bladed wings and raced to the top of the hill, Alphamon right behind him. “He’s gone!”

    “What?!” Alphamon demanded, reaching the crest of the hill in record time. He looked around. The only trace of DarkKnightmon was the spiral pattern of ripped up dirt in the grass below. “Where is he?!”

    OuRyuumon flew up high into the air for a better vantage point, looking around in all directions. “Not a frigging trace!” he told Alphamon.

    “No...” Alphamon clenched his fists and shut his eyes. “How could we let him escape...?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced and flew back down, landing beside him. “We’ll get him... Did you notice? He was weaker than usual. He still hasn’t recovered all of his energy from when he escaped.”

    “Then we can’t let him recover,” Alphamon responded firmly, he looked around the landscape in agitation and concern. “We need to look for him.”

    “He’s not anywhere in sight, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him. “These eyes don’t miss much. He must have whisked himself away in that Treason Vortex.” The dragon spat in disgust. “Tch. Fitting name, isn’t it?”

    “We can’t leave him unchecked. He must be somewhere nearby,” Alphamon stubbornly insisted.

    “The best thing we can do is go home and tell the others about this,” OuRyuumon explained. “I want to beat him senseless as much as you do, but... we should go back.”

    The Aloof Hermit grimaced. He reluctantly gave a nod. “Fine... You’re right. We’ll go back,” he tersely announced. He turned and started speed walking down the hill, back to the path. “Let’s go.”

    OuRyuumon watched Alphamon walk away with pensive, worried eyes. He sighed, spread his Gaiba Daimeijin wings, and glided down the hill after him. The two hastily made their way back towards the Royal Knight Headquarters to announce the bad news.

    -

    Examon sat in his seat in the council room. All of the Royal Knights had been summoned suddenly and asked to convene there. Nobody was really sure why Alphamon asked them to gather, but it was clear that he was very flustered about something.

    The red dragon eyed Alphamon calculatingly from across the table, watching him as he sat and tried to maintain a calm facade. The rest of the Royal Knights looked at him as well, waiting for whatever he was going to say. An air of tension loomed heavily over the room.

    “OuRyuumon and I saw the fugitive,” Alphamon spoke up. Sounds of surprise filled the room. “On our way back here.”

    “What happened?” Dynasmon asked him fervently.

    “He escaped,” Alphamon replied, stifling a cringe. “Furthermore, the fugitive is DarkKnightmon...” He stopped and allowed some of the Royal Knights to absorb the information.

    There was a tense pause that was quickly broken by Dukemon.

    “What?!” Dukemon shouted, abruptly standing to his feet and accidentally bumping Grani in the process. “DarkKnightmon?!”

    “Are you positive?!” Dynasmon also demanded.

    Alphamon nodded grimly.

    “Him of all Digimon...” Magnamon said bitterly.

    Omegamon simply grimaced and looked over at Alphamon.

    Examon frowned. He still wasn’t sure who this DarkKnightmon was. The knights who knew who he was were all very vague when talking about him, and the logs on the computer weren’t much better. They went into detail on all the other Dark Area prisoners, but not him. It left Examon and the other non-founder knights in the dark.

    “Is this supposed to be a big deal?” Duftmon asked. “Many of us don’t know what to expect from this ‘DarkKnightmon’ due to the sloppy, haphazard reports that are on him in the database.”

    “Is he the one who tried to kill you, Alphamon?” RhodoKnightmon asked, tapping his chin and thinking back.

    “Haven’t they all tried to kill him?” UlforceVeedramon pointed them out.

    Alphamon rubbed his temples with his fingers. “I will brief you all on him tomorrow,” he replied slowly, as if trying to suppress his exasperation.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “And you let him escape?” he asked, looking at Alphamon.

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes and stepped forwards to retort, but Alphamon raised a hand to stop him. The Lord of the Empty Seat took a deep breath and gazed at Duftmon. “...Unfortunately, yes, I did,” the Royal Knight answered.

    “Hmph. Then perhaps you should have finished him off to begin with instead of simply banishing him to the Dark Area,” Duftmon told him.

    “Duftmon?” Alphamon irately asked.

    “Yes?”

    “Silence yourself, for once,” he ordered the tactician. “This is one time that I don’t need your snide comments and smug, hindsight opinions on matters that you know nothing about.” Before Duftmon could begin to react to the chastisement, Alphamon turned to Dukemon and Grani. “Grani. Intensify your reconnaissance efforts. Increase the scout presence in Aurum, but don`t limit patrols to that province; he may have relocated after we spotted him. At the very least, we know who we’re looking for now.”

    “Understood,” the Zero ARMS answered obediently.

    Duftmon crossed his arms and flicked his blonde hair back irritably. “And the rest of us, leader?” he asked, although he made no effort to hide resentment in his voice.

    “Stand by until further notice,” Alphamon said, ignoring the sarcasm this time. “Get your weapons and armour touched up and get some rest. I doubt he’ll show his face again today. As I said earlier, you’ll be briefed on DarkKnightmon tomorrow morning. Understood?”

    “Very well,” Duftmon answered. He stood up from his seat. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have things that I would rather do.”

    Alphamon watched as Duftmon exited the council room. The sound of his metal boots walking across the marble floor was the only sound that could he heard. It slowly grew softer as he went further away. The black knight turned back to the Royal Knights. “That was about all I had to say anyways,” he told them. “I apologize that I had to ruin your day with this news.”

    “Don’t worry about it, Alphamon,” Magnamon assured him, standing up as well.

    Alphamon nodded. He turned towards the open set of double doors leading into the great hall with a dour frown. “I have... some business that I must take care of too,” he said to the other Royal Knights. “This meeting is adjourned.”

    He walked out of the council room, his blue and white mantle flowing behind him. He didn’t wait for OuRyuumon or any of the other Royal Knights.

    Dukemon and Grani exchanged looks. “I guess that’s it,” the crimson knight said, standing up.

    “I’m going to wash up and then see how dinner is coming along,” RhodoKnightmon mentioned, standing as well.

    The Royal Knights left their seats and exited the council room. When they entered the great hall, they began to break off in different directions with different people.

    Craniamon disappeared out the nearest door, followed by Dynasmon and OuRyuumon. Omegamon, RhodoKnightmon, and Magnamon went through the opposite door, into a corridor. Examon walked with Dukemon, Grani, Sleipmon, and UlforceVeedramon down the great hall towards the foyer.

    “I’m guessing this isn’t good news,” UlforceVeedramon said with a serious look in his eyes.

    “You guessed right,” Dukemon answered him. His tone was also dire.

    UlforceVeedramon sighed. “Well, I’m going to have a shower. I’ll talk to you guys later,” he told them, walking ahead of the group with the speed that he was known for. He looked over his shoulder with a small grin. “If we’re going to end up bloodied and beaten, I at least want to smell nice.”

    Dukemon managed a fleeting smirk as UlforceVeedramon disappeared within the foyer. Grani looked over at his friend. “How are you, Dukemon?” he asked, speaking specifically with regards to what Alphamon revealed.

    “I’m a Royal Knight, Grani; I’ll manage,” Dukemon assured him. He grinned at the dragon. “Don’t you have some work to do other than worrying over me?”

    “I was trying to procrastinate just now,” Grani joked in a deadpan voice, turning his azure eyes back forwards. “Fine, if you want me out of your hair, I have plenty that I need to do.”

    Dukemon playfully pushed him. “Better get going then,” he advised the Zero ARMS.

    “Very well,” Grani said, although giving Dukemon a lingering glance.

    “Go. Stop fretting,” the red and white knight told him, compounding his words with a reassuring smile.

    Grani muttered something about stubbornness and began flying ahead of the three, into the foyer.

    Examon couldn’t help but frown. He didn’t understand the situation at all, and he was consternated by everybody’s sudden change of mood caused by this mystery Digimon. “Is this ‘DarkKnightmon’ really that... fearsome?” he asked Dukemon.

    “It’s not really that...” Dukemon admitted, looking back at him. “Don’t get me wrong, the guy’s really strong. It’s just... there’s a lot of history surrounding that guy. You’ll find out tomorrow, Examon. You too, Sleipmon.”

    Examon nodded. “This is kind of disconcerting, seeing you all so distraught.”

    “He has a point, Dukemon,” Sleipmon agreed, as the three walked into the marble foyer.

    “It’s probably just the shock of old scars,” Dukemon told them. “None of us expected to see DarkKnightmon again.”

    “I’m guessing you guys wished you had reformatted him when you had the chance,” Examon remarked.

    Sleipmon slowed down his gait and stopped in the middle of the octagonal room. Dukemon halted by one of the pillars and turned around to see why Sleipmon had stopped.

    Soon after, Examon came to a halt, wondering why he was the only one still walking. He turned around and was surprised to see Sleipmon glaring at him.

    “Is that your answer to everything, Examon?” Sleipmon asked, his voice controlled yet radiating anger and disappointment.

    “Sleipmon?” the dragon asked in confusion. He wasn’t sure what the horse Digimon was talking about or what set off this sudden change in mood.

    Dukemon frowned and stood between the two. He doubted anything drastic would develop, but he felt compelled to anyways. “I don’t think he knows what you’re talking about, Sleipmon,” Dukemon said, looking from Examon to Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon’s brows furrowed. “That’s the problem. You don’t seem to grasp the idea that killing Digimon is wrong.”

    “Of course I do,” Examon replied coolly. “How can you think that I don’t know that killing innocent Digimon is wrong?”

    “Innocent?” the large horse man asked. “What makes a Digimon ‘innocent’? Who decides that? Do you?”

    “What are you talking about, Sleipmon?” Examon replied calmly, although he was feeling confused and somewhat annoyed by Sleipmon’s accusatory tone. “Does this have to do with what I said about DarkKnightmon?”

    “This isn’t just about that,” Sleipmon insisted, his gaze level with Examon’s. “You also said that about Imperialdramon...”

    Examon’s gaze suddenly narrowed. “He was wreaking havoc on that town, wasn’t he?” he debated sharply..

    “He’s just a kid,” Sleipmon argued. “People like you, Rhodo and Duftmon... You seem to think that ‘reformatting’ is an acceptable solution because it’s easy or practical.”

    “Isn’t it?” Examon retorted. “They typically aren’t permanently deleted. They’re reborn as Digi-eggs, you know.”

    Sleipmon grimaced and tore his gaze away from him. “You just don’t understand...”

    Examon frowned deeper at the six-legged Digimon. “No. I don’t... Are you saying they should have kept DarkKnightmon alive? You know as much as I do about that situation, don’t you? It’s obvious that he is highly dangerous.”

    “I’m saying that killing should only be used as an absolute last resort,” Sleipmon passionately contended.

    “Even if that endangered innocent Digimon?” Examon countered.

    “I’m not getting into that argument again,” Sleipmon answered irritably.

    “You were the one that started this debate,” Examon calmly reminded him, folding his winged arms.

    Sleipmon grimaced. The anger on his face vanished and he looked at Examon with a beseeching gaze. “Examon... I know that when fighting Digimon, it’s easy to forget... but they’re just like you and I. It’s not alright to just delete them, even if they are fighting against us. They have families and memories... Even if they’re reborn, people will still have memories of them, and they’ll still be heartbroken when they die. You use the term reformatting, and I suppose it’s accurate; they become a completely new Digimon. They lose all their memories. The Digimon that they used to be is essentially dead.”

    The dragon’s gaze softened a bit. “Sleipmon...” he said. “I see what you’re saying, but those Digimon are willfully--“

    “Nevermind, Examon...” Sleipmon interrupted, shaking his head and bringing a hand up to his face to rub the top of his muzzle. “Forget it. I’m sorry for preaching my beliefs to you. I think I’m just stressed out...”

    “Sleipmon, you don’t have to...” Examon trailed off and sighed a bit.

    The cavalier Digimon smiled at him a bit. “I’m going to go rest. We’ll speak later, Examon,” he told him diplomatically, trying to show him that he had no ill-will. He then looked at Dukemon. “You too, Dukemon.”

    “Yeah... See ya, Sleipmon,” Dukemon said to him, nodding.

    Sleipmon nodded and headed to the left staircase to head up to the wing on the second floor where their quarters were. Examon watched as the horse Digimon’s equine body disappeared up the stairs. He fidgeted with the wing on his right arm and turned to Dukemon. “What do you think, Dukemon...?”

    “I think Sleipmon feels very strongly about that particular issue,” Dukemon told him, smiling a bit. “I do happen to agree with him, though...”

    “So... you disapprove?”

    Dukemon folded his arms and leaned back against the pillar behind him. “One of the great things about the Royal Knights is that we all have different opinions from each other, even though we all have the same desires in the end. It lets us see things from different perspectives. That said, it’s also the reason why we argue from time to time. Each Knight as their own different code of ethics; I doubt I could change yours any more than you could change mine, not that I would try to,” he explained.

    Examon nodded. “However...”

    “However, I do agree with Sleipmon that killing should be used only as an absolute last resort.” Dukemon smiled a bit sadly and scratched the Digital Hazard symbol emblazoned on his t-shirt. “That said, I do see your point about Digimon going on a rampage... If I ever...” He trailed off and winced. He left the words unsaid, not wanting to get into that topic, even though he was sure that Examon knew what he was talking about.

    “Dukemon...” Examon said sympathetically. The dragon knight closed his eyes for a moment, quietly thinking to himself. After several pensive seconds, he opened his green eyes and looked at Dukemon. “Dukemon, you confided in me about the Digital Hazard... There’s something I want to confide in you about.”

    Dukemon looked at him in surprise. “Oh, uh... Sure, Examon... Should we go somewhere more private?” he asked.

    Upon seeing the red dragon confirm, Dukemon started heading to the set of stairs that Sleipmon had travelled up. He walked into the enclosed staircase and headed up to the second floor of the building. Examon tucked his large wings back and followed him up. By now, he was used to keeping his wings and tail in check in the sometimes narrow corridors of the castle.

    Dukemon reached the top of the stairs and turned into the hallway where their living quarters were. He headed over to his bedroom. Examon followed him and entered the room after Dukemon. He closed the door behind him.

    Dukemon walked over to a chair and spun it around so that it faced the double bed. He said down and gestured with his arm to sit on the crimson blanket on his bed. Examon obliged and did so. He felt sheepish all of a sudden. Talking to somebody about himself – especially very personal things - was a new experience to Examon, and he wasn’t sure what to say. He began to question why he was even doing it at all.

    However, he remembered that, awhile ago, he was in this exact same situation, except Dukemon was the one opening up to him. Dukemon trusted him enough to unload a secret that he was obviously ashamed of, so Examon felt that he should return the action, even if it was uncomfortable to do so. He did trust Dukemon, after all...

    He could see that Dukemon was looking at him expectantly. The dragon supposed he should start, somehow. “Uh... You can probably guess that I’m from the United Dramonic Coalition... though, as you know, it was just a collection of Dramon-inhabited provinces when I first hatched...

    Examon contemplated what he was going to say next and then continued. “I come from a town in the north west of the United Dramonic Coalition. It was called Wyrm’s Edge. It was just east of the top most part of the Dragon Mountains. It was a calm, quiet place.”

    Dukemon nodded. “Sounds nice. Scenic.”

    “It was,” Examon replied. He smiled a bit. “As you can guess, I’m from the Dracomon evolution route. I was a blue Coredramon Do you know about the species? They’re somewhat rarer than other dragon Digimon.”

    “I know a bit about them.”

    “Do you know about the gekirin?” Examon asked him.

    Dukemon looked confused all of a sudden. “Gekirin?” he asked.

    “More commonly known as the ‘reverse scale’,” he explained. “Anyways... it wasn’t a bad childhood or anything. My parents were good, although my father was in the military and my mother was an adventurer, so I spent a lot of time on my own. Because of that, I’m self-taught in a lot of things. However, I had a friend... My best friend, I guess.”

    The crimson knight nodded. He allowed Examon to continue and tell his story at his own pace.

    “He was a Strikedramon. We spent a lot of our time together,” Examon explained. He didn’t realize it, but he was nearly wincing as this memories. “One day... We were fighting. Not ‘fighting’, but play-wrestling, as young Digimon do. He had me in a headlock... that’s when it happened. He accidentally touched my reverse scale. It was small, so I usually didn’t have a problem with it, but it was located in the groove under my lower jaw.” Examon used his claw to point to the left side of his neck, showing Dukemon where the scale would be if he was in his Coredramon or Dracomon form.

    “This gekerin...” Dukemon said broodingly, wondering what exactly a small scale could do.

    “Up until that point, I didn’t even realize I had one. That was the first time it had ever been touched,” Examon explained, his draconic features tightening into a grimace. “When the gekerin is touched, it makes the dragon go wild. I don’t remember anything of the attack, only a sharp, sensitive pain, and a sudden, overwhelming flood of rage.” Examon looked away from Dukemon in shame. “I... went berserk. I fired off my G-Shurunen II attack mindlessly. I couldn’t... control myself at all. It was this sickening, primal feeling inside me... This massive flood of draconic power and rage poured out. The next thing I remember is being completely exhausted and seeing Strikedramon lying in front of me. He was burned and bleeding all over his chest and arms. He wasn’t moving.”

    Examon had to go quiet. It pained him to recount the burden of guilt he had been shouldering. Dukemon looked at him sympathetically. “Did he...?” he asked uncertainly.

    “I don’t know,” Examon answered, composing himself once again. Upon seeing Dukemon’s confused look, he elaborated. “The ground around me was torn up, a few huts and houses were damaged, and Strikedramon was badly wounded. My first instinct was to call for help. I tried but my throat was raw and dry, so no words came out. In hindsight, I think it must have been from roaring too much during the frenzy...” The dragon knight paused. “Then it dawned on me... It was me who caused all of that damage, who hurt Strikedramon... I panicked. I was horrified at what I had done, and I was worried that I would be blamed for what happened. I didn’t know what they’d do to me. Most of all... I couldn’t bear watching Strikedramon die. The guilt was so intense, so I... I ran.”

    Dukemon was silent. He waited for Examon to continue.

    Examon sighed. “I’m not proud of it at all... but I flew away to the Dragon Mountains... It seemed like the only option at the time. I flew up, made a home for myself there, and lived off of the land. I remember I found a low peak above a forest with fresh water and cliffs that were filled with a beautiful collection of blue diamante and green malachite. So, I stayed there and trained.”

    “Trained?” Dukemon asked him.

    Examon nodded. “Both physically and mentally. Most of all, I would agitate my reverse scale over and over. Because it was such a remote place, it was safe for me to go wild.”

    “But why do that?” the crimson knight questioned.

    “Because I was trying to train myself to resist it,” he explained, narrowing his eyes as he looked down at his claws. “I wore myself out and scratched myself up repeatedly, fighting to control the primal, draconic rage and instincts that took control whenever that scale was touched. I wanted to make sure that I would never lose myself in those destructive emotions ever again. I already hurt one Digimon that I cared about... and that was one too many.”

    Dukemon grimaced and nodded. “I can understand...”

    “It took almost a year, but I finally managed to curb my impulses... Around the same time, I digivolved to Wingdramon,” he told Dukemon. “I figured that it was time I rejoined the world, but I still couldn’t bring myself to go back to Wyrm’s Edge.”

    “What did you do?”

    “I flew to another province. On the way to the capital, I came across a riverside village under attack by bandits, so I intervened. I defeated the attackers, and I guess the ruler of the area was impressed with my fighting skills. He said that they would support me if I continued to defend their territory from attackers. I didn’t have any other way to support myself, so I agreed. After several years of doing that, I evolved to Slayerdramon. It was said that I was the best fighter in all of the Dramon provinces, but I’m not sure how true that was.”

    “Is that around the time that the provinces formed the United Dramonic Coalition and you became its protector?” Dukemon asked.

    “No. That wasn’t until after I became Examon. That happened a few years later, during a particularly devastating attack on the capital. I guess I evolved in part due to the high exposure to the blue diamante and green malachite in the Dragon Mountains. There was a lot of discussion about me and the UDC afterwards, and I decided to accept their offer and move to the capital of Dragon’s Peak,” he explained. Examon sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck when he realized that he’d been babbling on. “Sorry. I got carried away telling my life story, I think. The point was the part about the Gekerin.”

    Dukemon grinned. “I don’t mind...” he reassured him. “So... I guess that explains why you’re always so calm...”

    Examon raised an eyebrow. “Does it?”

    “I’d say so... You hate losing control of your emotions,” Dukemon observed. He then chuckled a bit. “Unlike me, apparently. That’s something that I always noticed about you.”

    “I suppose so...” Examon admitted. “If there’s one thing that I learned from that experience, it’s that I didn’t want to be a destroyer. There are too many of those in the Digital World already... What I want is to be able to create something. I want to create a lasting peace in the world, like I helped to do in the United Dramonic Coalition.” He looked over at Dukemon and smiled. “That’s ultimately why I accepted the offer to join the Royal Knights when you came to me that day.”

    “Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?” Dukemon said to him, smirking.

    “Yeah...” Examon said reminiscently.

    “Well, what happened between you and your friend was ages ago too. You shouldn’t worry about it,” he told the dragon.

    “I still can’t help but wonder what happened to him...” Examon replied with sad introspection. “I hope he recovered.”

    The handle of Dukemon’s door rotated with an audible click, prompting the two Royal Knights to look over, surprised. The door opened and the large form of Sleipmon stood in the doorway.

    “Sleipmon?” Examon asked uncertainly. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’m sorry for having listened in,” Sleipmon said, bowing his head slightly. “I was walking past in the hall and...”

    Examon became uncomfortable at the fact that Sleipmon had overheard his secrets. However, he supposed there were worse Digimon who could have overheard. “...It’s alright. You’re a trustworthy Digimon...” he said to Sleipmon, giving him a small smile.

    Sleipmon nodded in thanks. Nevertheless, his expression remained serious. “Examon... Do you wish you had been killed? For what happened to your friend?” he asked him.

    The dragon was taken aback by the question. He frowned and stalled, looking at Sleipmon steely. “I...” Examon broke his gaze with Sleipmon. “I did wish that. Back when I was a Coredramon,” he told him calmly, although his green eyes showed hidden sadness behind them. “But now... No, I don’t. While I’m still here, I can defend Digimon and the Digital World.”

    Sleipmon offered him a smile. “I’m glad you don’t feel that way anymore. But, you know... Imperialdramon likely feels shades of what you felt,” he told him. “The guilt of having... well, lost control.”

    “I know...” Examon admitted. “I realize that I’m likely biased. I’m not sure that I really meant that you should have killed him when he went out of control.”

    “Still, I was a bit harsh.”

    Dukemon rolled his eyes but grinned. “Oh, yeah. You used words that would make Ulforce blush,” he said sarcastically, winking at the horse man.

    Examon smiled at Sleipmon. “It’s forgotten,” he assured him. “I’ll try to take what you said into account in the future.”

    Sleipmon returned the smile. “Well, I’ll get out of your ways. I need to take a shower,” he told them.

    “We’re done here anyways,” Examon told him, standing up from Dukemon’s bed. “I could use a shower too.”

    “Yeah, ditto,” Dukemon agreed, getting to his feet as well. “I think I got cotton candy in my hair.”

    Sleipmon chuckled. “Let’s go down, then.”

    Examon looked at Dukemon and began following Sleipmon out of the room.

    Dukemon watched the two cross the corridor and head down the staircase. “Losing control, huh?” he mumbled to himself. He scratched the emblem on his t-shirt and made his way after them.

    -

    Hours later, night loomed over the castle and the surrounding landscape. The round moon was partially shrouded by a thin veil of clouds. Its bright silhouette still managed to shine through a little bit, creating an eerie panorama of the dark landscape.

    The crisp, spring breeze blew across Alphamon’s skin as he walked across one of the stone bridges that connected the main building to the castle wall. A Mystimon night-watchman, who was crossing the bridge in the opposite direction, respectfully greeted Alphamon as they passed by one another. Alphamon returned it and walked over to the ramparts.

    He sighed and placed his hands on the coarse, stone parapet. The rough, gritty bumps felt cool beneath his fingers as he leaned forwards on his arms. Alphamon looked out across the tranquil night landscape. Nothing moved but the spectres of clouds overhead. However, given the present circumstances, the peacefulness was replaced with uneasiness. He half expected to see DarkKnightmon lurking in the dusk’s shadows.

    Alphamon’s eyelids closed over his red irises and he took to his thoughts.

    “I thought you might be out here,” a voice said.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat opened his eyes and turned around. Omegamon was making his way across the same stone bridge that he had come from. The white knight walked up to Alphamon’s side and turned to look at him.

    “Omegamon...” Alphamon said with a trace of apprehension. He turned back to the landscape.

    “You often come out to the wall at night when you want to think,” Omegamon told him, turning and leaning forwards onto the parapet as well.

    Alphamon paused. “It’s peaceful out here,” he answered. “Usually.”

    “You’re thinking about DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon assumed.

    “You don’t have to be a fortune-teller to guess that,” Alphamon quipped.

    Omegamon was silent.

    Alphamon glanced over to see the white knight grimacing somewhat. He suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. “I’m sorry, Omegamon,” he told him earnestly. “I have no right to take that mordant tone with you.”

    Omegamon shook his head. “No, it’s... You were right about the seer in Auguria,” he said regretfully. “OuRyuumon and I should have listened.”

    Alphamon stood up straight and turned fully to Omegamon, frowning at him with surprise and compassion. “Don’t be ridiculous. There was no way that we would have been able to prevent his escape even if we did go on that Baronmon’s hunch. Even I doubted myself,” he reassured him.

    “I suppose...” Omegamon conceded.

    He chose not to bring up anything else relating to that trip to Auguria. Neither did Alphamon. A painful silence ensued... Uncomfortably, Alphamon turned away again to look out over the wall. It frustrated him that he had trouble just being around Omegamon now. The two of them used to be able to comfortably share these silences with one another, but now, the unspoken words became unbearable.

    “I--“ they both begun, cutting the other off. They stopped sheepishly. Omegamon rubbed the back of his head and looked out at the sky. “Go ahead,” he told Alphamon.

    “Please,” Alphamon insisted for him to speak, as he didn’t really have anything to say anyways.

    Omegamon nodded quietly. He slowly turned his blue eyes in Alphamon’s direction. “...The rest of us are troubled too. About DarkKnightmon, I mean... Magnamon, Dukemon, Dynasmon and I have the same worries that you do. And the others are tense because they don’t know what’s going on,” he explained.

    “Is this your way of telling me that I should stop feeling sorry for myself?” Alphamon asked, glancing over at his comrade.

    “I wouldn’t say that, exactly...” Omegamon told him, smiling slightly. “Is that what you’re doing...?”

    Alphamon managed a smirk. “A little bit, I suppose...” he admitted. The smirk vanished and he sighed. “I know that I have to be strong for the rest of the order. Everything has just been... getting on top of me lately.”

    “That’s because you always take it upon yourself to shoulder the burden, even when you have others who are willing to help lift the weight from your shoulders,” Omegamon said heedfully.

    Alphamon leaned forwards on the wall and looked up at the sky. After a few seconds, he turned his gaze back to Omegamon. “Isn’t that what it means to be the Lord of the Empty Seat?” he asked him rhetorically, his voice slow and heavy.

    Omegamon looked at him. “No... The Royal Knights are equal, Alphamon. That means we’re here to support you. You aren’t so high above us that you’re isolated. You always speak about how you’re on the same level as us – that your position is no more than being a first among equals - which means that you should be able to unburden yourself on us. We want to help, you know...” he explained to him

    The black armoured knight looked away from his friend, cringing with guilt. It pained him that, even after the pain that he had inflicted on Omegamon, that the knight was still this supportive of him. He answered only with a nod, although he didn’t directly look at Omegamon as he moved his head.

    “Alphamon...” Omegamon started ominously.

    Alphamon looked over, sensing the hesitation in his voice.

    Omegamon’s face was tinted pink and he had an uncomfortable look in his eyes. “I...” he began with the staggered, uncertain tone that Alphamon recognized from whenever Omegamon was put in a distressing situation such as public speaking.

    The knight winced and looked down at the face of the stone block that his hand rested on. “I... don’t want what happened in Auguria make you feel that you have to be scared of me,” he said to him.

    Alphamon’s eyes widened with surprise and, suddenly, he felt completely unsure of what to say.

    Omegamon finally turned his blue eyes up to look at Alphamon. “I promised that I wouldn’t tell anybody. And I support you no matter what happens,” he reassured him.

    “Omegamon, I—“ Alphamon moved his hand from the wall, closing his fist, and looking at Omegamon with eyes of protest and passion. He opened his mouth to say what he wished he was able to say back at Auguria, but he grimaced and turned to face the castle, closing his mouth. “...I know... Thank you...”

    Omegamon nodded, seeming satisfied with the answer. “We should get some rest. It’s getting late...” he said, looking up at the night sky.

    “Y...Yes. You’re right,” Alphamon concurred. He looked at his friend and allowed him to lead the way as they headed back over the bridge to the main building.

    Alphamon’s hand brushed along the coping of the bridge’s stone railing. He winced and inwardly cursed at himself. He followed Omegamon and looked at the knight’s back as he followed him over the arch.

    Damn it... Why is it so hard for me to explain to him? Am I too afraid that I’ll make it worse?

    Alphamon sighed to himself and walked inside. He said goodnight to Omegamon and walked into his room. He decided that he needed a good rest desperately.

    -

    Meanwhile, in the town of Lupolford, a dark figure passed down the main street. Phantom-like clouds passed over the buildings around him, and the shadow made his way through a light mist that rolled across the paved cobbles. He was the only one out walking at that time of night; the street was deserted apart from him.

    DarkKnightmon stopped in front of the most pronounced building in the large town. The town hall stood at the end of the main street, its stony architecture ornate and important. Just outside the entrance was a detailed sculpture of the mechanical MetalGarurumon X, one of the former mayors of the town. As he passed the ostentatious piece of art, DarkKnightmon offhandedly noted how hard it must have been to sculpt.

    The dark knight made his way to the foot of the steps but stopped abruptly when the doors of the town hall slowly opened. He looked forwards and saw only a two-legged silhouette standing in the door, the side of its form vaguely highlighted by the orange glow of a torch inside.

    “What are you waiting for?” a voice said to him. “Come in.”

    “Very well,” DarkKnightmon spoke, making his way up the steps with soft, metal footsteps. A gust of wind blew against him and caused his cape to flap in the wind. The knight passed the threshold and disappeared into the dimly lit foyer of the town hall.

    “Continue on through,” the voice said in a harsh, growling tone. “If you don’t mind.”

    DarkKnightmon complied and headed through the foyer to a set of double doors. With a light shove, he pushed them open and walked into a great hall. The hall was large and empty, and two-thirds of the way down the hall was a small set of steps leading up a couple of feet. On this raised area was an ornate chair. Behind it, on the far wall, were two doors leading elsewhere in the town hall. The floor of the great hall was coated in black marble, which made the sound of his boots hitting the hard surface echo around the expansive hall with every step.

    DarkKnightmon walked forwards in the darkness. “Extravagant for a town hall, isn’t it?” he mused aloud.

    “The former mayor had an inflated perception of himself,” his host told him, taking the single torch in the foyer and walking into the hall himself. “It got him killed, apparently.”

    “And the current mayor?” DarkKnightmon asked turning around.

    The dancing flames of the torch illuminated the body of the other Digimon. A dark red dragon man stepped forwards. The crimson armour that he wore all over his body shimmered as it reflected the flames. His arms and legs were covered with hard bumps and spikes. The most noticeable of the bony spikes were the ones protruding from his shoulders, the collar of his breastplate, his waist, and his wrists. On his back he wore an immobile, metal mantle, from which three giant, black horns protruded, looming over his shoulders and head. The flames revealed his face to be equally jagged. He had sharp facial features and horns all over his jaw and forehead, not to mention one large, black nose horn. The only part of his crimson scales that were exposed were the heels of his feet, his biceps, and his waist.

    The Dorbickmon grinned at DarkKnightmon, revealing rows of sharp, savage teeth. “The current mayor isn’t a problem. He agreed to do anything I tell him, including handing this building over to me.”

    “Can you trust him?” DarkKnightmon asked, his yellow eyes carefully inspecting Dorbickmon’s violet ones.

    “I trust him to put the safety of the town above all else. He won’t go running to the Royal Knights. He can probably guess what the consequences of that would be,” Dorbickmon explained. “I made myself pretty clear.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “So, Lupolford...?”

    “It’s right under the Royal Knights’ nose. They’ll never guess that you’re hiding in plain sight. The town hall of one of their territories...” Dorbickmon explained.

    “Won’t they?”

    The dragon shook his head. “They did an inspection shortly after installing the new mayor. I doubt they’ll be back for awhile, especially when they know that you’re on the loose.”

    “Perhaps...” DarkKnightmon mused.

    The dark knight turned around and walked further down the great hall. He walked up the five steps, but suddenly stopped when something caught his eye. At the back of the hall, there was a crack in the marble floor. The tiny fissure seeped dark data into the air. He turned around to Dorbickmon. “Is that a rift connected to the Dark Area?” he asked him.

    “It is,” Dorbickmon explained, walking up beside him. “Don’t worry; nobody else will be escaping aside from you. It’s just a tiny one that I’m having trouble closing.”

    “Good,” DarkKnightmon replied. “I don’t need those bastards down there getting out and causing havoc. To think that I had to spend the past how many years down there with them... It sickens me.”

    DarkKnightmon’s eerie, yellow eyes narrowed and he turned to Dorbickmon. “By the way... I suppose I owe you my thanks,” he said to him. “For helping to free me.” He extended his hand to him.

    Dorbickmon grinned and reached forwards to clasp DarkKnightmon’s hand and shake it powerfully. “You’re making me blush.”

    “I can’t help but wonder your motivations for doing so, however,” DarkKnightmon explained. “It was a huge risk.”

    “High risk, high reward,” Dorbickmon answered, pulling his hand away. “I have to admit, it took a lot of effort altering the Digital World’s dragon’s veins to corrupt the integrity of the Dark Area like that. It wasn’t easy keeping the whole thing stable. Like you said, there are a lot of destructive Digimon in there that we don’t want getting out. That said, I only weakened the barriers for you. You used your Choujigen Axe technique to make the rift just wide enough for you.”

    “Thanks to your advice. Which leads us back to the question...” the shadowy knight said, his words lingering. “Why help me escape?”

    “We have common enemies,” Dorbickmon replied. His eyes narrowed bitterly.

    “How do you know that?” DarkKnightmon questioned.

    “I’ve read up on you,” the dragon man said, turning to him. “Your past. Except I’m wondering what your intentions are now.”

    “I suppose they’re no different from what they were before I was locked away,” DarkKnightmon responded. “I’m going to dismantle the Royal Knights... and, on a pettier note, get a bit of retribution to ease the betrayal that I still feel.” The knight calmly turned to Dorbickmon. “And yourself? How do I fit into your plans?”

    Dorbickmon’s gaze hardened. “Like I said, we have common goals...” he responded gruffly. “You were betrayed.” He paused and clenched his teeth. “I was betrayed... You want vengeance on the Royal Knights... I want vengeance on one particular Royal Knight...”

    “I see... Then I think you and I can work together, Dorbickmon,” DarkKnightmon told him.

    “Good,” Dorbickmon quickly answered.

    “Purely out of curiosity, which Royal Knight is it that you despise so much?” the knight asked.

    The dragon narrowed his eyes with dark anger, the flames of the torch reflecting in his yellow sclera, but he managed a small smile. “Oh, an old friend of mine,” he told him. “The newest member of the Royal Knights...

    “Examon...”
     
  13. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Author's Note: I'm done my school year, so I should have way more time to write now! Also, this next chapter is going to be divided into three different parts, which I'll post in intervals of three days. I didn't want to have another two-parter, let alone a three-parter, but it happened out of necessity. It's going to be a bit different from the other chapters.)

    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part I)​


    A Digimon stood on the crest of a small hill, surrounded by eight others. That Digimon was a blue dragon man, humanoid in form, with a long azure tail and a pair of cloudy-white wings. He stood tall and proud before them.

    The bright sunlight shone down and reflected off of his pristine, white armour that he wore over most of his body. The white metal was trimmed with gold in various places, matching the colour of his short, blonde hair, which flowed out from the back of his helmet. He gripped the hilt of his sword with his blue scaled hand and planted the blade in the ground. It stood nearly as tall as he did and had the word “Initialize” inscribed on the side in digi-letters.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s red eyes glistened in the light. He turned to observe the eight Digimon around him. He smiled warmly as his eyes first landed on a knight clad in black armour. “Alphamon,” he said first.

    Next, he turned to the Digimon beside him, wearing white armour. “Omegamon.”

    His eyes then shifted to a knight wearing white and red armour and a flowing crimson cape. “Dukemon.”

    His gaze dipped to a Digimon of the same Veemon-based species as him, clad in shimmering golden armour. “Magnamon.”

    “Dynasmon,” he spoke, his eyes acknowledging the tall, white-plated, periwinkle-hued dragon man.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode then turned to one more humanoid Digimon, coated in black, silver, and gold plate. “And DarkKnightmon...”

    Each of the six Digimon acknowledged the sword-wielding dragon with a nod. OuRyuumon and Grani lingered behind the group, watching.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode smiled at them. “I have fought alongside each and every one of you, time and again. And you have all fought alongside each other. I believe in your bonds, and I also believe that now is the time that we ought to make a change,” he explained, his voice strong and noble.

    “Is this about what we all discussed, Imperialdramon?” Alphamon asked him.

    “Yes...” he replied. He looked around at all of them. “You six are officially the founding members of the Order of the Royal Knights as of now. As members of the Order, it is your job to safeguard Digimon from harm and defeat evil wherever it arises. You all have good hearts... now, combine the wills of your hearts together and become unstoppable. You will be a beacon of light and goodness in this world.”

    “We will do our very best,” Omegamon reassured him.

    “I have no doubt in my mind you all will,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode answered. He turned his gaze to Alphamon. “And you shall be the leader, Alphamon. The Lord of the Empty Seat.”

    Alphamon frowned with uncertainty. “What about you, Imperialdramon? I know we discussed this, however...”

    “My calling is elsewhere, Alphamon,” the dragon man told him with a smile. “You have the leadership abilities necessary for the responsibility. Do not doubt yourself.”

    DarkKnightmon walked over and placed his hand on Alphamon’s shoulder. “Imperialdramon is correct. Besides, we are all behind you,” he reassured him.

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes a bit and began to walk to the crest of the hill.

    “He’s right, Alphamon,” Dukemon said, grinning. “We can pull it off.”

    Omegamon looked at Alphamon and nodded, quietly expressing his support.

    “But we don’t have a base of operations,” Magnamon pointed out.

    “Don’t you?” Imperialdramon asked with a sly grin on his face.

    Dynasmon turned to Imperialdramon Paladin Mode curiously. “Do we?” he asked.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode gestured down the small hill to the stone castle in the distance. The six knights turned, looking past the approaching OuRyuumon.

    “...Your castle?” Alphamon asked. He turned to Imperialdramon in disbelief. “You don’t mean to say that you want to give that to us.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode folded his arms, looking taken aback and somewhat offended. “Hey, now. It isn’t that bad. If you really don’t want it though...” he muttered, scratching the metal dragon head on his chest armour.

    “I mean, you can’t give a gift so big,” Alphamon explained. “It’s too much.”

    “That is for me to decide, Alphamon,” Imperialdramon told him with a light smile. “It’s rude to reject a gift. Now, you’ll likely need to make several additions to the castle to truly make it the Order’s headquarters and spacious enough for a standing army, but I’m sure you’ll all be able to figure it out.”

    “Where will you be going, Imperialdramon?” Omegamon asked him.

    Still wearing a wry smirk, the dragon knight responded. “’Where?’ indeed.” He clasped his hands together. “Now, you six, gather in a circle and put your hand on one another’s.”

    Alphamon, Omegamon, Dukemon, Magnamon, Dynasmon, and DarkKnightmon all gathered in a circle. Before they could move their hands, a voice called out.

    “Wait a second, damnit!” OuRyuumon protested, storming over. “What about me?! Why aren’t I a part of this again?!”

    “It might have something to do with the fact that you enjoy shouting your mouth off… like you’re doing now,” DarkKnightmon dryly informed him, glancing over his shoulder at the gold dragon.

    “Who asked you?” OuRyuumon snarled at the black knight Digimon.

    “OuRyuumon...” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said to him warmly. “Alphamon will need you as his trusted friend and advisor.”

    “Yeah, and why can’t I do that as a Royal Knight?” the gold dragon contended, folding his arms.

    Magnamon and Omegamon exchanged uncomfortable glances. DarkKnightmon rolled his eyes and raised an index finger, making to speak, but Imperialdramon Paladin Mode decided to respond before DarkKnightmon could be too harsh. He knew that the two had a propensity to bicker at times.

    “Maybe Alphamon will invite you to join as an official Royal Knight after you’ve... grown a bit,” he suggested.

    OuRyuumon cocked his eyebrow up at Imperialdramon’s words and sneered. “Grown? What’s that mean?” he challenged. “I’m one of the best fighters here.”

    “That may be, but there’s more to being a Royal Knight than just fighting,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode explained to him. “However, that’s not to say that you won’t be needed. Those fighting skills will surely be required, and, like I said, Alphamon will be able to benefit from your advice.” Imperialdramon turned to look at Grani, who hovered further back. “And Grani. You said that you’re prepared to act as a scout?”

    “I can manage that, yes,” Grani replied, glancing from OuRyuumon to Imperialdramon. “I’m content with that role.”

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes and folded his arms, reluctantly dropping his protests with an indignant grunt. “Whatever.”

    Alphamon sighed but smirked at his friend and turned to Imperialdramon. “So, our hands on one another’s, yes?” he asked him, extending his hand to the middle of the circle.

    Imperialdramon nodded, and watched Omegamon place his hand on top of Alphamon’s, which was followed by Dukemon’s hand, Dynasmon’s, Magnamon’s, and DarkKnightmon’s. “Now, repeat this pledge,” he told them.

    “I pledge my blood, my data, my heart, and my soul to the betterment of the Digital World and those who reside in it, to Yggdrasil, and, most of all, to each other. I am a Royal Knight, and this is my oath.”

    As each Royal Knight finished, they pressed their extended hands down and lifted up them up symbolically.

    OuRyuumon whispered the oath under his breath, watching as the six Digimon officially became the Royal Knights.

    “Is that it?” Dynasmon asked, grinning as he retracted his large hand.

    “That’s it,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said, smiling. “Congratulations, Royal Knights.”

    The six Royal Knights looked at each other with smiles as well.

    “What say we celebrate with ale?” Dynasmon suggested, grinning broadly.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode chuckled. “That sounds like a good plan. You all could use some relaxation time,” he said. He flashed the group a smile. “Especially since you’ll all be so busy shortly.”

    “You really know how to put a damper on things, Imperialdramon,” Dukemon laughed, walking over to Grani.

    “We’ll have to enjoy ourselves while we still can,” Magnamon said, following him.

    DarkKnightmon walked alongside Alphamon and Omegamon, following the others as they made their way down the hill.

    “So, ‘the Royal Knights’...” Omegamon said to them, smiling a little.

    “It definitely sounds prestigious,” Alphamon responded, smirking as well. “However, I think that we’ll be able to do a lot of good once we get set up and running.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “I agree. This might just be what this world needs...”

    -

    Around a month later, things were already progressing in full swing. The castle that Imperialdramon Paladin Mode had given to them was extremely busy. Digimon were coming and going, many coming from parts all over the continent. The Royal Knights were renovating the castle and making many additions to it. At Imperialdramon’s approval, they made changes to much of the interior of the castle, along with made many additions here and there. They had hired carpenters, stone masons, sculptors, architects, and heavy lifters for the various jobs that needed doing.

    On top of that, they were hiring Digimon to be members of the Order itself. They wanted strong, professional, loyal, and good-hearted Digimon for members of their forces. It was a time-consuming ordeal, going through the applicants, sorting out the worthy from the unworthy, and the noble from the opportunists. Each of the six Royal Knights were still finding their feet in the new environment. There were many administrative things that they weren’t used to, and they had to adapt to the learning curve.

    DarkKnightmon marched along the castle grounds within the walls. Dynasmon strode beside him at a leisurely pace. Around them were Digimon, busy at work. Up ahead of them was a stone building under construction; a Golemon was lifting heavy bricks as directed by a Gazimon foreman. The building was to serve as a barracks.

    Even the nearby walls were under construction. There were large ditches being dug by Digmons and Drimogemons at the base of the wall, allowing Digimon to build the wall further underground to protect against burrowing Digimon.

    DarkKnightmon and Dynasmon looked around them at all the Digimon moving around busily.

    “I wonder when things are going to calm down,” Dynasmon asked his fellow Royal Knight.

    DarkKnightmon shrugged. “Another month, perhaps? A few weeks at the earliest,” he replied offhandedly.

    “Hopefully sooner,” Dynasmon said. “I keep getting woken up early in the morning.”

    The tall knight nodded, glancing at the dragon man. “I’m getting weary of waiting as well. I want us to get settled into our roles.”

    “Settled in...” Dynasmon mused. “That’s going to take some getting used to too.”

    “I suppose adventurers like you aren’t exactly the type to settle down, are you?” DarkKnightmon asked.

    “I guess not but, then again, hey! I’m a Royal Knight now!” he replied with a smile.

    “Excuse me!” a voice beckoned to them.

    The two Royal Knights looked over and saw a tall, dark Digimon approaching them as he walked away from the main building. They couldn’t help but stare for a moment at the Digimon’s nine eyes on his body.

    “Greetings,” DarkKnightmon said, examining him without giving a visual reaction to his unique form.

    “My name’s Duskmon,” Duskmon said to them. The eyes on the various parts of his body looked between the two Digimon. “You’re both Royal Knights, right?”

    “Correct,” DarkKnightmon answered.

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon uncomfortably replied, seeming to be unnerved by all of the Duskmon’s eyes that were staring at him widely.

    “Alphamon just hired me as the resident physician, so I thought I’d introduce myself,” he said, smiling a bit, a gleeful look emerging in his nine eyes.

    “Congratulations,” DarkKnightmon told him. He extended his arm and shook his hand. “I’m DarkKnightmon. And this is Dynasmon.”

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon repeated, continuing to stare at the giant eye on his chest. DarkKnightmon elbowed him sharply to keep him from staring.

    “I’m sure we’ll get along well,” Duskmon said to them. “That said, I hope we don’t see each other much while I’m on duty.”

    DarkKnightmon released a short chuckle. He turned to Dynasmon. “It sounds like you’ll be seeing a lot of Dynasmon.”

    Duskmon grinned, all of his eyes once again turning to Dynasmon. “Is that so? Well, don’t worry. I’ll be able to fix almost anything you come in with.”

    Dynasmon tried his best to hide his unnerved wince. “Great... Nice meeting ya, Duskmon...” he told him.

    Duskmon nodded and the eye on his right shoulder suddenly moved independently to look behind him, to where a Digimon shouted in pain and clutched his head. “I spy a concussion. I’ll be seeing you both,” he said to them, turning around and making his way over to the injured Digimon.

    Dynasmon shuddered and sighed with relief. “That was unsettling... He’s going to take some getting used to too.”

    “I didn’t mind,” DarkKnightmon said, starting to walk again.

    “You think Bommons are cute,” Dynasmon pointed out, walking after him. “You’re not the best judge.”

    “At any rate, I wonder who else Alphamon has decided to hire,” the dusky knight mused.

    “Maybe that guy,” Dynasmon said, pointing to the entrance that Duskmon had exited from.

    DarkKnightmon looked over and saw a tall, sapphire-armoured wolf striding out of the building. His red cape flowed behind him as he passed the doorway. The MirageGaogamon wore ornate armour that included a metal wolf head on his chest. As he made his way away from the double doors, he looked rather pleased with himself.

    Dynasmon cut in front of DarkKnightmon as he suddenly turned to walk over to the lupine Digimon. “Hey!” Dynasmon greeted.

    DarkKnightmon stopped, turned, and walked over to him as well.

    “Dynasmon, Sir. DarkKnightmon, Sir,” MirageGaogamon said, smiling. “Hello.”

    “What’s your name?” Dynasmon asked, looking him over. “A MirageGaogamon, right?”

    He nodded. “MirageGaogamon. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you both,” he said. He took off one of his large, bladed gauntlets that were styled like claws, and offered his hand.

    The two knights shook his hand. “Were you just hired?” Dynasmon asked. “I know Alphamon started making appointments for the applicants as of yesterday.”

    MirageGaogamon smiled and slipped his gauntlet back on his arm. “I was, actually,” he told them proudly. “I’m the Captain of the Defence Forces.”

    “Hey, congratulations!” Dynasmon remarked, grinning and slapping his shoulder with his claws, taking the wolf Digimon off guard and causing him to stumble. The dragon man laughed. “For the Captain of the Defence Forces, I sure hope you can take a hit better than that,” he teased.

    MirageGaogamon flushed and stood up perfectly straight, readjusting his armour. He cleared his throat. “Y-Yes, well...”

    “Ignore him,” DarkKnightmon told the new captain. “Dynasmon’s a nuisance at the best of times.”

    Dynasmon chuckled and folded his arms, looking over at his fellow Royal Knight. “You mean that with love, don’t you, DarkKnightmon?”

    “See what I mean?”

    MirageGaogamon smiled a bit. “It’s still an honour to work alongside you both. I’ve heard about both of your exploits,” he complimented. “And I’m fortunate that I’m now able to help your cause to purge the Digital World of evil and to help protect the Digimon who can’t defend themselves. I hope that we can strike fear into the destruction-filled hearts of evil Digimon everywhere.”

    “Is that so?” DarkKnightmon asked him. “You sound dedicated. I’m glad to hear that. This order needs Digimon with that resolute mindset.”

    “I am dedicated, Sir. I hope that my skills will come in use to you all,” MirageGaogamon told them.

    DarkKnightmon gave him a half smile and a nod. “Alphamon wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t,” he reassured him.

    The beast knight nodded. “Thank you. I’ll be on my way now. I look forward to working with you both,” he told them.

    “Likewise,” DarkKnightmon responded.

    “See ya,” Dynasmon said as the blue-armoured Digimon walked off. The winged dragon Digimon turned to DarkKnightmon. “He seems nice. Kind of formal, though.”

    “And eager. He’s likely capable too. I hear MirageGaogamons have remarkable speed,” the dark knight observed.

    “If that’s the case, I’m surprised he was assigned to be Captain of the Defensive Forces instead of the Strike Forces,” the violet dragon mused.

    “I think it makes sense, actually,” DarkKnightmon observed. “Stereotypically, defensive Digimon are slow, so having a swift captain makes a good change and adds balance. Additionally, his speed will be an asset when organising the defences of the castle, as he’ll need to be in several places in a short amount of time.”

    Dynasmon grinned. “Okay. I defer to your strategic knowledge, oh wise DarkKnightmon,” he said, ribbing him.

    “Maybe if you did that more, you’d get hurt less,” DarkKnightmon retorted, eyeing the Royal Knight calmly. “Anyways, I’m going to find Omegamon. I want to speak with him about something.”

    “Sure. In that case, I’m going to find a bite to eat,” Dynasmon replied.

    DarkKnightmon nodded and bid Dynasmon farewell as his comrade went off in search of sustenance. He readjusted his shadowy cape and headed inside the main building.

    He walked down the entrance hall, passing a few Digimon as they headed for the exit. The whole building still had an earthy smell to him, probably from all the stonework going on. He walked up a few steps and went through a doorway into the foyer. The octagonal room was large and vacant, filled with nothing but stone flooring and walls.

    DarkKnightmon noticed that the double doors on the opposite side of the room were open, so he continued to head towards him. He knew that Omegamon had been with Alphamon during the last time that he saw him, so he assumed he was helping with the interviews. It didn’t seem like there was an interview in progress, so DarkKnightmon entered the vast great hall. The hall’s floor and walls were coated in a swirled, white and gold marble, left over from when it was Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s castle.

    At the very end of the room was a circular table of smooth, grey stone. Standing up from the table were the contrasting forms of Alphamon and Omegamon. It was when they turned and started walking away from the table that they noticed DarkKnightmon’s presence.

    “Oh, DarkKnightmon,” greeted Alphamon with a smile.

    “Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon responded with an acknowledging nod. “How are the interviews going?”

    “Slowly. Omegamon and I are just taking a break for lunch,” he explained. He observed DarkKnightmon curiously. “Did you want to see us?”

    “I was hoping I could borrow Omegamon for a few minutes,” DarkKnightmon told him, turning to the white knight.

    Omegamon looked at Alphamon. “Do you mind waiting for me?” he asked him.

    Alphamon shook his head. “You’re free to join us after you two are done talking, DarkKnightmon,” he told him, patting the other dark knight on the shoulder as he passed by him.

    DarkKnightmon looked over his shoulder at Alphamon as he passed. “Thank you,” he said before walking over to Omegamon.

    “Yes, DarkKnightmon?” Omegamon asked him curiously.

    After he was sure that Alphamon was out of the great hall, DarkKnightmon walked up beside Omegamon and leaned back against the table, holding onto the edges with his black hands. He turned his horned head to look at his comrade. “I was just wondering, Omegamon. How is Alphamon managing?” he asked him.

    “Alphamon?” Omegamon asked, blinking in surprise. “Why do you ask that? Is he not feeling well?”

    “I mean with the responsibility,” DarkKnightmon explained. “It hasn’t been easy setting up this order, and Alphamon has been doing the most work out of any of us. I’m concerned that it’s too overwhelming for him.”

    Omegamon turned to face him, folding his arms and thinking. “I wouldn’t necessarily say he is overwhelmed...” he answered. “He’s been very busy, but so have we all. I’m confident that he’ll be okay.”

    “As long as you’re sure,” DarkKnightmon spoke, standing up straight. “I’m not doubting him; I just don’t want him to overwork himself. You know how he is.”

    Omegamon smiled at his friend. “Yes, I suppose you’re right,” he conceded. “It’s nice that you’re worried about him.”

    DarkKnightmon shrugged dismissively and began to walk. “He would do the same for us,” he replied simply. He stopped in front of Omegamon and looked at him. “Now, shall we join him for lunch?”

    The white-armoured knight complied and began to walk with him out of the great hall in order to meet up with Alphamon in the makeshift cafeteria.

    -

    Almost a year later, the Order of the Royal Knights was firmly established. They had performed several forays into the areas that surrounded Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s former territory. Sometimes they intervened in and mediated conflicts, but, mostly, they arrested or destroyed bands of bandits, brigands, and mercenaries. In one instance, they stopped an evil king from invading his neighbours.

    The Royal Knights were comfortable in their new role as regional protectors. As their size, prestige and experience grew, they slowly expanded their sphere of influence. There were currently talks between the Royal Knights and many of the surrounding states of combining under the Royal Knights’ protection. It was known as the ‘Free Area Plan’.

    That was what the six Royal Knights were discussing in their meeting.

    The six sat around the grey, circular table in the great hall. Alphamon was seated with a large, open scroll in front of him. OuRyuumon, who stood behind him, decided to attend the meeting as well, not wanting to be left out of their discussions.

    “These are the list of territories that give their consent to be a part of this project,” he explained, rolling up the scroll and handing it to Omegamon for it to be passed around the table.

    Magnamon opened up the scroll once it got to him. “It’s almost all of them,” he said with surprise, looking at all of the names and territories signed in digi-letters.

    “They want the protection and the trading benefits,” Omegamon said.

    “They know about the conditions, right?” Dukemon asked. “Taxes, ruling under our laws, et cetera.”

    “Yes, it was made clear to them,” Alphamon responded. “They still seem enthusiastic about the idea.”

    “Well, these lands were pretty dangerous before we officially banded together and formed the Order,” Dynasmon pointed out.

    DarkKnightmon sat quietly as the others talked. He just thought with a veiled frown on his face.

    “They’d be idiots not to sign it,” OuRyuumon remarked proudly, crossing his arms. “Who wouldn’t want our protection?”

    Alphamon regarded the question silently as he looked across the table at DarkKnightmon. He couldn’t help but notice the look on his face. “DarkKnightmon…” he said. “You’ve been quiet during this meeting. Is there something you disagree with?”

    DarkKnightmon looked up at Alphamon. “Well, actually…” he put forth, although with hesitation.

    “What is it?” Omegamon asked, looking over at him curiously.

    DarkKnightmon stalled, mulling over his thoughts a little longer. “It’s nothing,” he insisted dismissively.

    “If there’s a problem, DarkKnightmon, please, voice your opinion,” Alphamon told him. “That’s what these meetings are for.”

    Omegamon nodded. “What’s bothering you?” he questioned.

    “Well…” DarkKnightmon began, sitting upright and frowning. He looked straight across the table at Alphamon. “Don’t you think these measures are a bit… generous, Alphamon?”

    “Generous? How so?” Alphamon asked, arching his eyebrow.

    “The Digimon of this potential ‘Free Area’ will pay a tax and supposedly adhere to our laws, and we’re supposed to protect them while they still retain their autonomies,” DarkKnightmon said. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but it seems a little naïve.”

    Alphamon frowned at the last comment. “I don’t understand how…”

    “Will it really change anything within these territories?” DarkKnightmon asked him. “I understand that we need the tax to finance ourselves for this service we’re providing, and, therefore, we need to give something in return, but I don’t think that this idea is strong enough.”

    “What’s wrong with it, in your opinion?” Alphamon questioned, willing to hear the knight out.

    “I just think it needs a complete overhaul,” DarkKnightmon explained. “Evil Digimon work outside of the law, so it wouldn’t make a difference if the Free Area existed or not.”

    “We could keep a closer eye on the Digimon in these territories this way,” Alphamon contested.

    “Perhaps, but I think that it’s too contingent on the Digimon being good. There’s too much room for exploitation. What if we end up defending a mayor who’s treating the citizens horribly?” DarkKnightmon argued, although in a polite manner.

    “We wouldn’t let it get to that point,” Alphamon responded. “We’ll have inspections.”

    “And if the mayor and his advisors are corrupt and all of the civilians have been scared into silence?” DarkKnightmon contended.

    “We will appoint the mayors,” the Lord of the Empty Seat told him.

    DarkKnightmon frowned. “Why these weak measures?” he inquired. “All of your answers have been to have somewhat higher controls on the states. We should just go all the way and exercise a stronger amount of control over all of them. Allowing them their independence will just result in abuses of power and a higher rate of crime. If we’re going to create a Free Area at all, then we need to go further to exert our control over the territories in order to eradicate evil.”

    Alphamon frowned deeper at these words. “The Digimon in charge of the territories would never agree to those terms. This agreement hinges on the states retaining a fair amount of independence.”

    “That would just be selfishness on their part,” DarkKnightmon insisted, looking at Alphamon intensely. “They want to hold onto their own power, of course. They don’t care about evil Digimon unless they’re affected directly by them.”

    Alphamon returned the silent stare. “That’s a very cynical outlook you have, DarkKnightmon,” he responded. “I don’t believe Digimon are that selfish.”

    DarkKnightmon glanced away and quietly sat back in his seat. “Well… You wanted to hear my opinion…” he told them, somewhat regretful that he had voiced it at all.

    “I can understand what you’re saying, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon reassured him. “A greater degree of centralisation would theoretically crack down on crime, war, and brigandage, however…”

    “However, we can’t take away Digimons’ freedoms,” Dukemon added, looking over at DarkKnightmon.

    “I wasn’t suggesting that we become their overseers,” DarkKnightmon replied, glancing at Dukemon.

    “It’s a slippery slope,” the crimson knight chimed back.

    “Yes,” Alphamon agreed. “And there’s the practical aspect of it. We don’t have the resources to do something like that. We’re but six Digimon and our whole order is just less than two hundred fifty Digimon. We don’t have the means to preside over all of those territories, not that they would ever agree to that. And if they resisted, what would we do? Force our rule upon them? Then we would be as bad as the Digimon who you seek to root out, DarkKnightmon.”

    “I never said we should do that,” DarkKnightmon replied defensively.

    “I didn’t say you did either,” Alphamon explained. “I’m just making a point. Anyways, even if we did have the resources, I wouldn’t want to rule over those Digimon. I can agree to stronger checks on the states of the Free Area in order to reduce potential abuses, but nothing more.”

    “I agree with that,” Dukemon said.

    “Me too,” Magnamon followed up.

    “Yeah,” Dynasmon added.

    OuRyuumon grinned across the table at DarkKnightmon, enjoying seeing the Digimon put in his place. “I agree too.”

    “Nobody asked you, serpent,” DarkKnightmon said to OuRyuumon. OuRyuumon glared at him. The dark knight turned to the Royal Knight who hadn’t spoken: Omegamon. “Omegamon? What’s your opinion?”

    Omegamon frowned and stalled. His blue eyes went from DarkKnightmon to Alphamon, and then back to DarkKnightmon. After thinking about it, he spoke. “I can understand your points, DarkKnightmon, and they make sense, however… I have to agree with Alphamon. I think the best option is the one before us now.”

    There was a pause, and all eyes were on DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon looked around the table with his usual expressionless face. After a few, tense moments, he sighed. “Very well,” he conceded. “I still have my reservations, but… the majority has spoken…”

    Alphamon nodded. He then offered DarkKnightmon a warm, conciliatory smile. “Don’t think they have gone unnoticed. We just… disagree on this, it seems, old friend.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “…So begins the Free Area,” he said diplomatically, although somewhat half-heartedly.

    “This calls for a celebration,” Dynasmon said, leaning back in his chair and stretching out. He placed his hands behind his horned head. With one eye open, he looked at Dukemon. “Right, Dukemon?”

    “I think I can be convinced,” Dukemon responded, looking over at him with a smirk.

    “Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” Magnamon told them.

    DarkKnightmon placed his hands on top of the table and pushed himself to his feet. “Are we finished then?” he said, a hint of exasperation lacing his words. “There are some things I’d like to attend to.”

    “Yes, I suppose we are,” Alphamon said, standing to his feet as well.

    “Good night, then” DarkKnightmon bid them. He nodded at the Royal Knights and turned around. With his cape flowing behind him, he briskly started making his way out of the great hall.

    Alphamon’s eyes narrowed with concern. “…Do you think he’s upset?” he asked. “Maybe I should go after him…”

    “He’s a big boy,” Dukemon reassured Alphamon, as he stood from his chair. “He certainly doesn’t need to be babied.”

    “I suppose you’re right,” Alphamon conceded.

    OuRyuumon shrugged dismissively. “He sure acts like an overgrown Baby Digimon sometimes.”

    “Don’t be like that, OuRyuumon,” Magnamon said, beginning to head down the great hall.

    “Like what?” OuRyuumon asked, following him alongside Dukemon and Dynasmon.

    “Your usual jerky self?” Dynasmon joked, slapping his back firmly.

    OuRyuumon stumbled forwards, nearly tripping over his own stubby legs. “Damnit! Hey!” he growled.

    Omegamon watched as the four departed. He turned to Alphamon. “Do you want me to check on DarkKnightmon?” he asked him.

    After a moment of thought, Alphamon shook his head. “No. Dukemon’s right. I’m sure he’s fine. Apart from the bickering with OuRyuumon, he’s almost as mature as you are.”

    Omegamon smirked. “Do you think so?”

    Alphamon grinned and put his hand on Omegamon’s shoulder, beginning to lead him towards the foyer after the others. “Without a doubt,” he dryly said, heading with the others to the cafeteria in order to get some drinks.

    Meanwhile, DarkKnightmon stood at the balcony outside of his room, leaning forwards on the railing as he looked out at the peaceful night. “Could it be that I’m just being too cynical…?” he asked himself. He closed his eyes and calmly inhaled, taking in the warm, summer air. “That must be it. I’m sure it will work out like Alphamon hopes. I just need to trust him…

    -

    A few months later…

    “Twin Spear!”

    DarkKnightmon’s blood red lance ripped through the bandaged body of a Mummymon, tearing him to shreds. As the scraps of bandages fizzled into fragments of data, the dark knight burst through the cloud with silent anger.

    “Hellfire!” an Astamon shouted. The well-dressed demon cocked his weapon and unloaded a fountain of bullets from his sub machine gun. The bullets whipped through the air and slammed into DarkKnightmon’s armour as he ran.

    DarkKnightmon was unaffected. Sparks flew off from all over his body but his armour was thick enough to deflect the bullets. He charged forwards and plunged one side of the Twin Spear deep into the Astamon’s chest, enough that it burst out the other side. The Astamon’s arms suddenly went slack and he continued firing his gun aimlessly into the ground until it fell from his grasp and burst into data. The demon Digimon was the next to disintegrate.

    The Royal Knight swung his spear to the side, flicking the traces of blood from its metal. He let out a breath and took the moment of peace to look around. The other five Royal Knights and OuRyuumon were in combat against a band of raiders. They had been fighting for the past half hour, and the raiders’ numbers were dwindling. Each knight faced only one or two Digimon now. They knew that the battle was almost won.

    DarkKnightmon turned to the nearest Royal Knight. Dukemon was locked in combat with the tall, skeletal, red form of a SkullSatamon. He blocked the swift, powerful swing of its staff with the Aegis.

    “Just drop your weapon and leave!” Dukemon warned him. “This battle’s over!”

    “Eat crap, tin can!” the SkullSatamon screeched. The SkullSatamon raised his staff up over his head and the yellow orb on its end began to grow brightly. “Nail Bone!”

    “Lightning Joust!” Energy swirled around the Gram in Dukemon’s right hand like a vortex that culminated in an orb at the tip of the lance. With a fiery yell, he thrust the pike forwards and power exploded through the SkullSatamon’s core, reducing him to ashes just as he was about to fire.

    Meanwhile, Alphamon and Omegamon stood side by side as three Digimon charged them in a frantic fury. Omegamon raised his Garuru Cannon and Alphamon raised his two palms towards the ExVeemon, the Asuramon, and the Cerberumon charge them.

    “It seems like they won’t stand down,” Alphamon said as he gathered emerald energy inside of his palms.

    “I agree,” Omegamon answered, the mouth of the cannon on his right arm brimming with icy blue power.

    “Fire?” Alphamon asked, taking aim.

    “Fire,” Omegamon confirmed.

    “Digitalize of Soul!”

    “Garuru Cannon!”

    Green and azure beams burst from their hands and soared across the ground like a gushing torrent. The blasts enveloped the three Digimon and easily reduced them to data particles. Omegamon’s cannon leaked cold breath as he lowered it and surveyed the damage in front of them. He confirmed that they were destroyed.

    “Stubborn fools… I hate it when they don’t surrender,” Alphamon said, his hands smoking with green steam.

    “OuRyuumon doesn’t,” Omegamon said, nodding towards the gold dragon in question.

    OuRyuumon smirked widely as he clashed swords with a Piedmon. He deftly swung the Gairyu swords, blocking every slash that the clown Digimon tried to make. “Not – rrgh – bad, clown – guhr – face!” he shouted between parries. For somebody who was staving off deadly attacks, he was enjoying himself far too much.

    The gold dragon suddenly swerved his long, flexible body to avoid a precise stab. He then lunged off the ground, flying in an unpredictable, circular fashion that suited his body. OuRyuumon circled around the Piedmon and slashed his back with his bladed Gaiba Daimeijin wings. He let out a triumphant laugh and suddenly spun around to cleave his two swords through the demon clown’s lanky body.

    OuRyuumon gave a wild grin and flew up into the air. “Who’s next?!” he demanded excitedly, looking around for his next opponent.

    “Nobody,” Magnamon called up to him, having just finished Magnum Punch-ing a Volcamon into a tree.

    “Yeah, we’re all done here,” Dynasmon agreed, nudging an unconscious Vikemon with his foot.

    OuRyuumon released a disappointed growl and flew down. “And it was just getting good!” he complained upon landing in the dirt. He gathered his swords in one hand and bent down, plucking an oversized leaf from a plant in front of him. He used the leaf like a cloth, wiping the blood from his blades.

    The Royal Knights began to gather around his general vicinity. “We didn’t come out here for you to entertain yourself, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon said with a hint of irritation at the dragon Digimon.

    “Yeah, I know that,” OuRyuumon retorted, looking over at him. “I can’t help it if I like fighting.”

    “Just so long as you realise that this isn’t a game,” DarkKnightmon told him, narrowing his enigmatic, gold eyes.

    “Hey, I don’t need a lecture from you,” OuRyuumon replied fierily.

    “OuRyuumon, don’t start,” Alphamon told him firmly. He glanced over at the nearby town. “That was the last of the raiders?”

    “I’m pretty sure,” Dynasmon said.

    “Magnamon and I will go check on the townspeople,” Dukemon said, nodding to Magnamon and heading towards the town.

    “We should start restraining the unconscious ones,” Alphamon told the others.

    “Omegamon and I can do that,” Dynasmon said. Omegamon nodded and took off this Garuru Cannon and Grey Sword.

    A troubled, annoyed look grew on DarkKnightmon’s face. “This was the third raid in the past two weeks…” he remarked lowly, turning to Alphamon.

    Alphamon turned his crimson gaze towards DarkKnightmon. “I suppose you’re right.”

    “Since we created the Free Area, there have been fourteen raids, attacks or invasions that we’ve had to intervene in,” DarkKnightmon continued.

    “What’s your point?” OuRyuumon asked, walking over and flicking the edge of the metal crest on DarkKnightmon’s armour, to create a twanging sound when his claw struck it.

    DarkKnightmon ignored the action and turned back to Alphamon. “Evil Digimon are still active. Creating the Free Area has barely made a difference at all. They’re just as active as they were before we did that.”

    “We’ve defeated every one of them, with the consent of the Free Area’s states, and we have the funds to improve our order,” Alphamon responded calmly.

    “We’re just stopping these attacks as they happen,” DarkKnightmon argued. “You’re not looking at the bigger picture. All we’re doing is quelling attacks day-by-day. What we should be doing is looking into the future.”

    “Looking into the future…” Alphamon mused. “And what do you suggest?”

    “We should be stopping evil Digimon before they can even act,” the shadowy knight explained.

    Omegamon looked over as he tied up the Vikemon raider. “That would be ideal, but it’s not so simple in practice.”

    Alphamon nodded. “He’s right. How could we do that?” he asked DarkKnightmon.

    “By ruling over the Free Area,” DarkKnightmon replied. “If we make it a tightly ordered society, we could stop Digimon before they even act, and discourage future crime and brigandage.”

    Alphamon frowned deeply as his friend’s words. “Ruling…?” he asked. “No, DarkKnightmon. We’re the benevolent protectors of this part of the continent. Our job is to root out evil and have only limited control over the Free Area. Nothing more.”

    “Don’t you see, Alphamon?” DarkKnightmon said, more animatedly than usual. “It isn’t enough. That strategy isn’t working. What we need to be are benevolent rulers. This continent needs strong, centralized control. The Royal Knights need supreme authority over the Free Area. We need to rule with an iron fist to stop more of these raids. It takes shows of strength to dissuade Digimon like these.”

    “DarkKnightmon, your words are unsettling,” Alphamon told him, maintaining a concerned frown. “The Royal Knights are a deterrent force, not tyrants.”

    “For a deterrent force, we haven’t been doing very much deterring,” DarkKnightmon quipped, folding his arms.

    “Don’t be a smartass,” OuRyuumon said to him. “Alphamon’s right. We’re doing fine.”

    “What do you know about these matters?” DarkKnightmon snapped at him. “All you care about is satiating your bloodlust. It’s no wonder you like things as they are; there will be more Digimon for you to kill.”

    Before OuRyuumon could heatedly respond, Alphamon took DarkKnightmon by the arm and led him away several paces. “DarkKnightmon…” he said with a concerned tone. “What’s come over you?”

    “I’m frustrated, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him with irritation. “We’re not making any progress and you won’t heed my words. Aren’t you supposed to listen to the advice of your friends?”

    Alphamon sighed and let go of DarkKnightmon’s arm, walking in front of him so that he could look at him directly. “DarkKnightmon, I’ve taken your words to heart,” he assured him. “However, you can’t expect me to go along with what you’re proposing. I can’t just name myself the king of the Free Area. We would lose the good will of the Digimon that we’re protecting. In fact, they could even revolt.”

    “They wouldn’t revolt. We’re too strong,” DarkKnightmon countered.

    “So we would be ruling through fear,” Alphamon argued. “Is that what you want?”

    DarkKnightmon frowned and was silent.

    Alphamon’s gaze softened and he raised his hand to place it on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder, squeezing the armour there. “Look, DarkKnightmon… I understand that it’s frustrating. However, I’m sure that what we’re doing is the right thing. I’m also sure that it will be effective if we give it some time. This is just a bad patch.”

    “You can’t know that for sure…” DarkKnightmon pensively said, although raising his hand and placing it on top of Alphamon’s extended arm.

    “No, I can’t,” Alphamon admitted. “But I believe that I’m right. Don’t lose hope, DarkKnightmon.”

    DarkKnightmon hesitated. After a couple moments, he frowned and nodded uncertainly. “I… hope you’re right, Alphamon. But it’s hard… I’m struggling to remain optimistic.”

    “It’s not always easy for me, you know,” Alphamon reassured him. “That’s why it’s good to have friends to talk to. OuRyuumon, Omegamon, you… If you still have doubts, rest assured that you can talk to me about them.”

    “Right…” DarkKnightmon replied apprehensively. He removed his hand from Alphamon’s arm and frowned, looking away slightly. “I’ll… be fine,” he said, although he didn’t sound too sure. “Don’t worry.”

    Alphamon smiled and squeezed his shoulder before letting go. “Good,” he told him. He gave DarkKnightmon a nod and began to head back to the others.

    DarkKnightmon turned, and saw that Dukemon and Magnamon had returned too. He sighed and started following Alphamon back.

    OuRyuumon watched as the two returned. He had his arms folded and wore a sour look on his face. The gold dragon looked at Alphamon with an irritated leer. “That looked like a cozy chat…” he said bitterly.

    “He just needed some reassurance,” Alphamon replied, walking past OuRyuumon and over to the others.

    OuRyuumon scoffed and turned his glare towards DarkKnightmon. “Hey, you!” he snarled at him, still angry about what DarkKnightmon had said to him before.

    “My apologies, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon said to him. “I didn’t mean to bite your head off; I was just agitated from the excitement of the battle.”

    OuRyuumon opened his mouth hastily to retort, but he stopped and blinked in response to the unexpected apology. “O-Oh… Well, don’t let it happen again…” he said sheepishly, turning and picking up the Gairyu swords from where he stabbed them into the ground.

    Omegamon observed DarkKnightmon carefully. “Is everything alright between you two?” he asked him.

    “Yes…” DarkKnightmon answered. “I suppose so.”

    Omegamon nodded, although he still had his doubts.

    Dynasmon grabbed the bicep of the restrained Vikemon and hauled the woolly mammal up. “Let’s start hauling these Digimon back to the dungeons before they wake up.”

    “You can take the light one, Magnamon,” Dukemon told him with a playful grin.

    “Thanks…”

    DarkKnightmon stood there, thinking to himself and staring into space. He reflected on Alphamon’s words quietly.

    “Hey, DarkKnightmon!” Dynasmon called out to him.

    The voice brought DarkKnightmon out of his thoughts and back into awareness. “Yes, Dynasmon?” he asked, looking over at the dragon man.

    “Want to help me with this guy?” he asked, gesturing to the Vikemon. “I may be strong, but he weighs a tonne!”

    “Oh… Sure,” he responded uncertainly. He walked over and helped Dynasmon, and the group of knights began to head back to their castle.
     
  14. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part II)

    Another month passed…

    DarkKnightmon strode through the castle grounds in the late evening. The sky overhead was a deep blue colour thanks to the night beginning to set in. Most of the Digimon around the headquarters ended their duties and enjoyed their free time, unless they were unlucky enough to have the night shift.

    He was in his free time as well. However, DarkKnightmon didn’t feel like spending it with his fellow Royal Knights right at that moment. Instead, he walked through the spacious training ground within the castle walls. It was largely deserted aside from a few members of the Order who were out practicing their attacks or working out.

    One of these Digimon was MirageGaogamon. DarkKnightmon recognized the Captain of the Defence Forces in the center of the grounds. He seemed to be practicing one of his attacks, judging by the glowing yellow particles that lighted up the darkening area as they accumulated around his chest.

    “Full Moon Blaster!” he howled. The wolf head that was a part of his chest armour snapped open and fired a brilliant beam from its maw. The light streaked through the air like a comet and annihilated a target dummy before fading away shortly after. When the beam faded, the target was badly scorched and its digital integrity was badly compromised, causing it to burst into data.

    DarkKnightmon was intrigued, seeing him out here that late. He made his way over. “MirageGaogamon,” he spoke from a distance, announcing his presence as per the safety rules of the training grounds.

    MirageGaogamon looked over his shoulder curiously. Some steam still wafted up from his chest cannon, but he closed the ‘mouth’ on his chest and signalled that it was clear for DarkKnightmon to come over. As the Royal Knight approached, MirageGaogamon looked at him sheepishly. “I apologize, Sir,” he told him. “I know the training grounds close at sundown, but I hoped I could get in some precision training before it got dark.”

    DarkKnightmon approached him and dismissively waved his hand. “No, I’m not here about that. I’m just surprised to see you here. That’s all.”

    “Oh…” MirageGaogamon said, lowering his guard in a wave of relief. “I see. Still, the safety precautions…”

    “I’m sure you would have stopped soon,” DarkKnightmon answered. He observed the wolf warrior with a raised brow. “You’re awfully dedicated, Captain.”

    “I try to be,” MirageGaogamon replied with a slight smile. He removed his claw gauntlets and tucked them under his arm. “I believe in what this Order aims to achieve, so I want to be at my very best, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon stopped to contemplate his words. “…Commendable,” DarkKnightmon spoke. “You’re a regular crusader, aren’t you?”

    MirageGaogamon released a small, embarrassed smile. “I don’t know about that…” he humbly replied. “I’m just following what my heart tells me is right and just.”

    “And… what happens when your heart conflicts with your head?” DarkKnightmon cryptically questioned, eyeing the blue, wolf knight curiously.

    MirageGaogamon frowned and looked at him for clarification. “Sir…?” he asked, confused at what exactly he meant.

    The black knight caught himself and shook his head. “Forget about it…” he told him dismissively. DarkKnightmon placed his hand on MirageGaogamon’s multi-plated shoulder. “Care to walk with me? I was on my way to the ramparts to enjoy the sunset.”

    “Sure,” the captain agreed.

    He walked alongside DarkKnightmon as they made their way from the training grounds over to the thick wall. They approached some stairs built beside the wall, behind the forge, where all the weapons were serviced. DarkKnightmon ascended the stone staircase up to the top of the wall, and MirageGaogamon followed after him.

    Once on the top of the battlements, DarkKnightmon walked to the parapets and leaned forwards on one of the sturdy blocks. He gazed out onto the dark landscape, and he could just see a trace of the sun on the distant horizon. It made the sky appear slightly bluer in contrast to the black behind him. MirageGaogamon came up beside him and looked up at the partial moon above them.

    “It’s nice,” MirageGaogamon commented to him, glancing over.

    “Indeed. Alphamon and I used to come out here to talk,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    MirageGaogamon couldn’t help but notice the past tense. “You don’t anymore?” he asked. He then felt somewhat apprehensive, as if he had just spoken out of turn for asking too personal of a question. He was about to apologize but DarkKnightmon spoke first.

    “No, we don’t,” he admitted. “I find myself disagreeing with him a lot, these days. I feel that it’s better if I keep my distance.”

    “Why is that, if you don’t mind my asking?” the caped canine Digimon inquired.

    DarkKnightmon stalled on answering. “…Can I ask you a question instead, Captain?” he wondered, turning away from the disappearing sun to look at MirageGaogamon.

    “Of course, Sir.”

    “Why exactly did you join the Order?” the Royal Knight questioned, his curious gaze fixed on the lupine Digimon’s face.

    MirageGaogamon’s face seemed to tense. He hesitated and tore his gaze away from DarkKnightmon to look back up at the moon. “Do you want to know the honest answer…?” he asked, his voice sounding suddenly more dark and solemn.

    “If you don’t mind telling me, that is,” DarkKnightmon replied.

    The wolf Digimon’s eyes glistened in the moonlight before he shut them. “Half of my family were killed by marauders,” he told DarkKnightmon. He raised his free hand and clenched it after placing it on the stone parapet. “What I want is to purge the world of evil Digimon so that tragedies like that won’t take place again.”

    “I see…” DarkKnightmon said calmly. “I understand your feelings. I want to eradicate evil Digimon from this world as well.”

    MirageGaogamon opened his eyes and looked at DarkKnightmon with a grateful smile. “I’m glad to hear that, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon turned away from the sun and stood under the shroud of the night and the soft rays of the moon. “However, I find myself faced with countless doubts.” With a steely gaze, he looked back towards the castle. “I doubt our capabilities… I doubt my friends… and I doubt myself.”

    “Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked with concern.

    “I feel like we’re headed in the wrong direction,” DarkKnightmon explained. “Alphamon’s too soft; he’s afraid of doing something that Digimon won’t like. He’s always been too concerned about his public image…”

    “Is that so?” the captain asked.

    “In my opinion, yes…” DarkKnightmon said. “He disagrees with my approach on how the Order should operate. I believe that the Royal Knights should go as far as to be the rulers of the Free Area. That way we could use our tightened sphere of influence to root out evil Digimon before they can even act. The way we function now, we’re just knocking them down as soon as they attack. More innocent lives are risked that way.”

    “I agree with you, DarkKnightmon, Sir,” MirageGaogamon said. “However, I can see how Alphamon would be cautious about that. It’s an ambitious step and it goes against the agreement.”

    “I know,” DarkKnightmon answered deeply. “But what’s that expression? ‘In order to free yourself from your Digiegg, you must first shatter the shell’?”

    “I suppose there’s that argument,” the beast knight submitted. He turned around and leaned back against the parapet. “I do agree that a greater amount of control is necessary. However…”

    “However the majority agrees with Alphamon?” DarkKnightmon suggested. He frowned and turned around as well so that he could glance up at the moon. “Yes, I know… I understand why, too. Nevertheless, it feels like the path we’re on is doomed to lead us to failure. They don’t understand that! Why don’t they understand? Are they blinded by their idealism?”

    “Do you think the situation is that dire, Sir?” MirageGaogamon questioned.

    “Now? Maybe not. However, I’m looking into the future. How long until another Lucemon emerges? Or something even worse?” he mused, his calm voice masking the intensity behind it.

    “Hopefully never…” MirageGaogamon replied with a wince.

    “Yes, hopefully. However, the Royal Knights are a security force. We need to prepare for the worst case scenario. If we want to prevent something like that from happening, we need to drastically increase our control in the Free Area. Then, as the Order grows larger, we can expand to other parts of the continent,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    “I agree with that, Sir,” the azure wolf knight spoke. “However, I’m not sure that Alphamon and the other Royal Knights would.”

    DarkKnightmon sighed. “There lies the problem…” he said softly, with an air of frustration. “Alphamon is stubborn. Omegamon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon are all loyal to him. Dukemon is his own Digimon, but I don’t think he would agree with me; he’s soft too.”

    “I see…” MirageGaogamon said thoughtfully.

    “However, I believe that Omegamon is sympathetic to my ideas,” DarkKnightmon said. “Perhaps the others could be convinced if somebody else was the Lord of the Empty Seat instead of Alphamon.”

    “Like yourself,” the captain suggested, feeling at ease with DarkKnightmon. “I have nothing against Alphamon, but I believe that your ideals are more in line with what this Order needs. I support you, DarkKnightmon.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded gratefully at him. “I appreciate that, Captain.”

    “Are there provisions for removing the Lord of the Empty Seat?” MirageGaogamon asked.

    “No. There’s nothing official,” the shadowy knight replied. “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode trusts Alphamon fully. It would have looked bad if he made provisions for unseating him.”

    “I see…” MirageGaogamon spoke, frowning deeply. “What… do you suggest?” he asked apprehensively.

    “I’m not suggesting anything,” DarkKnightmon answered. “Not yet. I certainly don’t want to hurt him or anything like that, but I don’t think that he should remain in power. I’ll have to consider all of my options.”

    “I understand, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “I’ll try talking to the other knights. I want to be able to have their support.”

    “They won’t tell Alphamon?” MirageGaogamon asked.

    “I’m hoping things will play out in a way that they won’t want to tell Alphamon… or at least feel that they don’t need to,” he explained. DarkKnightmon looked over at MirageGaogamon with calm, gold eyes. “Needless to say, it’s probably best if you and I keep this conversation a secret…”

    “Understood,” the MirageGaogamon captain said, tapping the side of his snout with his index finger.

    “Hey!” a familiar voice called out over to DarkKnightmon’s side.

    DarkKnightmon swung around with surprise and saw OuRyuumon descend through the night sky towards them, blotting out the moon from their vision as he passed in front of it. He felt himself tense up as the dragon Captain of the Strike Forces closed in on them.

    OuRyuumon landed on the wall and stumbled slightly on his short legs, but he quickly moved his tail to balance himself. The long, gold dragon walked towards them unevenly. “I thought I’d find you here…” he said, his words somewhat slurred.

    “OuRyuumon?” DarkKnightmon asked, trying to remain calm. “What can I do for you?”

    MirageGaogamon looked at OuRyuumon carefully and took a few sniffs with his sensitive nose. “…Are you drunk, OuRyuumon?” MirageGaogamon asked, frowning. “You shouldn’t be flying while intoxicated.”

    “This is between me an’ him MirageGaomon…” OuRyuumon said, swinging his hand out.

    DarkKnightmon looked over at MirageGaogamon, who turned to him in concern. “It’s alright, Captain. I’ll talk to him and make sure that he gets to his room,” he reassured him.

    “Very well, Sir…” MirageGaogamon apprehensive replied. He nodded at DarkKnightmon and jumped off the wall to fly towards the castle.

    DarkKnightmon stepped towards OuRyuumon. As he approached, he could smell the pungent scent of ale on his breath. “You’re drunk, OuRyuumon…”

    “So what if I am?” OuRyuumon retorted. “Can’t the Captain of the Strike Force get drunk in his free time?”

    “I suppose, but--“

    “It’s my turn to ask the questions!” OuRyuumon announced sharply, looking down at DarkKnightmon and poking his broad chest with his clawed finger.

    “Very well,” DarkKnightmon answered, keeping his cool, although inwardly he was rather nervous. He knew that his and OuRyuumon’s relationship had some definite tension, and he didn’t want to get on the dragon’s bad side without finding out what he might have heard, so he figured he’d humour him. “Ask away.”

    “I know what you’re up to…” OuRyuumon hissed, narrowing his sharp, violet eyes into slits.

    The nervousness that DarkKnightmon felt began to amplify. Did OuRyuumon really hear the whole conversation? He knew that if OuRyuumon knew, he would tell Alphamon without any hesitation. He already began to think of how he could use OuRyuumon’s inebriated condition to discredit him. “I don’t know what you mean,” DarkKnightmon insisted.

    “Like hell ya don’t!” OuRyuumon slurred angrily. “You’re tryin’ to take Alphamon away!”

    DarkKnightmon froze. All of his muscles tensed up, with the exception of his heart, which felt like it suddenly dropped in his chest. “What…?” he asked, in a last ditch effort to maintain his innocence. “I would never do something like that. He’s my friend!”

    “Only yer friend? Really?” OuRyuumon interrogated indignantly, glaring at him even harder. “I’ve seen th’way you look at ‘im… He can do better than you and you know it, so back off! You’re just a conde… condescending tin can!”

    Now DarkKnightmon was just confused. His fear quickly turned into pure bewilderment at the dragon’s drunken words. “…Pardon?”

    OuRyuumon growled and raised his hand to rub the bridge of his snout, suddenly grimacing. “Nevermind… Jus’ forget it,” he told him. “What were you talking to th’wolf about?” he questioned more calmly, hoping to change the subject.

    “He… was wondering if there was merit to the rumour that Magnamon can’t swim,” DarkKnightmon replied, saying the first viable thing that came to mind. On second and third thoughts, he decided it wasn’t all that viable, but he hoped OuRyuumon was too intoxicated to question it. He was just relieved that OuRyuumon hadn’t been listening in on them like he initially thought.

    “Gossips…” OuRyuumon said resentfully, moving his hand and placing it on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. “Y’know, it’s totally true. He never goes in the ocean.”

    DarkKnightmon took OuRyuumon’s wrist and gently slung his arm over DarkKnightmon’s back. He kept a hold on OuRyuumon’s wrist and began to usher him towards one of the stone bridges that led from the wall into the main building. “Come on. Let’s get you to your room,” the armoured Digimon told him while leading him along.

    “Fine…” OuRyuumon mumbled, too out of it to bother protesting. He lazily hobbled beside DarkKnightmon, letting himself be taken by the knight. “Grugh… DarkKnightmon…?” he asked, looking over at the Royal Knight.

    “Yes, OuRyuumon?” DarkKnightmon asked superficially, keeping a tight hold on him as they crossed the bridge so that OuRyuumon wouldn’t end up accidentally falling.

    “You’re my best friend…” OuRyuumon drunkenly said, his smile toothy and lopsided.

    “I thought Alphamon was your best friend,” DarkKnightmon responded, bringing him indoors to a torch-lit hallway.

    OuRyuumon suddenly groaned dramatically. “Ugh… He wouldn’t be if he knew…” he said miserably, breaking away from DarkKnightmon and walking ahead.

    “Knew what?” DarkKnightmon asked out of passing curiosity.

    “Can’t tell… It’d ruin ev’rything…” OuRyuumon replied in a maudlin voice.

    The Royal Knight sighed and shook his head. He didn’t know what to make of the dragon’s drunken ramblings. He wasn’t overly concerned about them anyways; he was just happy that OuRyuumon was blissfully ignorant of his conspiracy to create a peaceful change of leaders. Things would have gotten extremely difficult for him if he had found out.

    “Come on. Your room is here,” DarkKnightmon said, pointing to the door in front of him.

    OuRyuumon staggered over to him. “Mrm. Thanks, buddy,” he said to him, patting DarkKnightmon’s face with his claws. “I know you and I and you don’t always get along, but you’re okay when you wanta be…”

    “Err…” DarkKnightmon hesitated. He took OuRyuumon’s wrist and removed his hand from his face. “Thank you… Now, go and rest, OuRyuumon.”

    “Alright…” OuRyuumon responded, making his way into his room so that he could plop down on his bed. “Night, night, Knight…”

    “Goodnight, Captain,” DarkKnightmon said to him, closing OuRyuumon’s door for him. He let out a sigh and began walking down the corridor to his own room.

    That was unnerving…” he thought to himself as he entered his room.

    He began to unfasten his chest armour. Once it was removed, DarkKnightmon walked over to his balcony window and stared out. He looked up at the moon and watched as a cloud finished passing over it. He frowned and leaned against the stone window sill.

    I have much that I need to do…” he quietly mused. “I need to steer this Order in the right direction for the good of the Digital World. If it means hurting a friend… well… I suppose it has to be done. I hope you won’t take it personally, Alphamon…

    -

    About a week later, DarkKnightmon went to work on trying to convince the other Royal Knights to unseat Alphamon. He had planned his arguments meticulously, and he hoped that they would be enough to convince his comrades to accept the drastic change of command. He knew it wouldn’t be an easy battle, aware of how loyal the Royal Knights were, however, he was confident in himself.

    It was a cloudy evening out. There were two full moons out in the starry sky. However, multiple clouds passed over them intermittently, causing their reflected light to beam down irregularly. It created a mix of dim, blue light interspersed with dark shadows over the castle grounds.

    DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon walked outside, passing underneath one of the watch towers. Barely any Digimon were out on the grounds that night, with the exception of the guards manning the walls, gate, and towers.

    “So, you’re going to start talking to them tonight, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked him, feeling very comfortable that they could talk freely without being overheard.

    “Yes,” DarkKnightmon replied with a soft frown. “There’s no point in waiting any longer. I’ve put up with this for long enough. This Order needs a change.”

    “I agree,” MirageGaogamon answered. “You think you can convince the other Royal Knights to turn against Alphamon?”

    “I believe it’s possible,” the dark knight said to his cohort with a faint smile behind his helmet.

    MirageGaogamon thought quietly for a few moments. The only sound that could be heard was the rattling of their armour. “For the sake of argument… What happens if you can’t?”

    “Then we’ll have entertain other options,” DarkKnightmon cryptically replied.

    “I see,” MirageGaogamon spoke, continuing to walk beside him. He looked over at the Royal Knight. “I’m going to take my claws to the forge to be serviced. Please let me know how things go. Good luck, Sir.”

    “Thank you,” DarkKnightmon told him with a nod.

    The two Digimon went their separate ways. MirageGaogamon crossed the road to the forge by the wall, and DarkKnightmon continued heading down the path to the main building’s entrance. He assumed most of the Royal Knights were inside, but he hoped that they weren’t all together. He thought it would be better if he talked to them individually.

    DarkKnightmon approached the entrance and placed his hand on the door, pushing it open. He hoped that everything would go as planned. He needed it to…

    -

    After a few minutes of searching, DarkKnightmon found Dukemon in the gym. The shirtless Royal Knight was on the floor, doing push ups. Much to DarkKnightmon’s annoyance, Zero ARMS: Grani was with him, spotting him. He supposed he should have expected it, given how close the two were, but it still caused problems because it’s easier for somebody to stand their ground when with a group of friends.

    On the other hand, DarkKnightmon also saw an opportunity. Grani was more rational while Dukemon was more emotional. He thought it might be easier to use his rational arguments to convince Grani than it would be to convince Dukemon, and Grani could, in turn, convince Dukemon. He figured it was worth a try.

    “Hello, Dukemon, Grani,” DarkKnightmon greeted as he stepped into the marble-floored gym.

    “ Ninety six, ninety seve-- DarkKnightmon,” Grani said, looking over at him to acknowledge him.

    Dukemon pushed himself up a final time and got to his knees so that he could begin to stand up. Once up, he grabbed a towel and draped it over his sweaty neck. “Hey,” Dukemon greeted with a grin, panting a bit. “Here for a work out?”

    “I was looking for you, actually,” the dark Royal Knight explained.

    “Oh, sure,” Dukemon said, walking over to the bench nearby to sit down. “What’s up?”

    “Well… I was wondering…” he began tactfully. “How do you both feel about Alphamon?”

    “Alphamon…?” Grani asked. The large, metal dragon eyed him carefully.

    “Feel about Alphamon?” Dukemon questioned, somewhat puzzled by the question as well. “He’s great. Why do you ask?”

    “You don’t feel that he’s lacking in certain areas…?” DarkKnightmon asked.

    “Lacking…? Not really,” Dukemon responded, frowning. He raised an eyebrow at DarkKnightmon. “Do you?”

    DarkKnightmon sidestepped the question and turned to Grani. “I’m just a bit worried about the Order. It feels like we haven’t been making any progress. There are still plenty of attacks and raids on this half of the continent.”

    “And you’re saying that’s Alphamon’s fault?” Dukemon directly challenged.

    “Of course not. I’m just thinking that what the Order needs is to go in a… different direction,” he explained.

    “What direction might that be?” Grani asked him suspiciously.

    “I think that we need to have greater control over the Free Area. We’ll be able to prevent more Digimon from getting hurt that way,” he calmly responded.

    “So, talk to Alphamon about it,” Dukemon said to him.

    “I’ve tried. He won’t listen,” DarkKnightmon told the holy knight Digimon.

    Dukemon folded his arms across his scaled chest. “Because he knows it’s a bad idea,” the crimson knight told him sharply.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed. He could already tell that Dukemon was beginning to turn away from him. He turned to Grani. “I believe that I can run the Royal Knights more efficiently than Alphamon can. We’ll be able to do our jobs better and help more innocent Digimon. Is that not why we agreed to found this Order together?” he asked them both.

    Grani frowned and glanced over at Dukemon. “It is, however…”

    “However,” Dukemon interrupted. “Alphamon’s a good leader. You just don’t like the way that he’s doing things. Don’t mince words, DarkKnightmon. What are you here to say?” The red Royal Knight narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “That you want to take over Alphamon’s position?”

    DarkKnightmon stalled. After a few seconds of thought, he nodded. “I do… I know he’s a good leader, but he’s too soft. He’s lacking certain qualities that make him a great leader.”

    “It’s that ‘softness’ that makes him a great leader,” Dukemon insisted, frowning deeply. “I’m not about to raise a single finger against him.”

    “I don’t plan to dismiss him from the order or anything, Dukemon,” DarkKnightmon assured him, frowning as well. “I simply think that I’m better suited to being Lord of the Empty Seat. I still count him as a friend and a comrade.”

    “If you were his friend, you wouldn’t be conspiring to unseat him,” Dukemon fierily answered.

    DarkKnightmon’s gaze became steely. “Sometimes, Dukemon, you have to look past friendship for the sake of the world,” he explained.

    “So, I guess I know where you’d stand if the Digital Hazard ever got the better of me,” the crimson knight spoke, a twinge of melancholy mixed in with his outrage.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced and looked away. “Don’t make this personal, Dukemon. And don’t put words in my mouth,” he told him. “It’s because you’re my friend that I’m coming here to ask this of you. Support me, Dukemon. Stand beside me, like the many times that we’ve fought together in battle.”

    Dukemon frowned and looked down. “I… can’t, DarkKnightmon,” he said apologetically. “Alphamon’s my friend too. This is one battle I can’t fight with you.”

    DarkKnightmon gritted his teeth. “Very well…” he replied, only barely covering his anger and disappointment. He turned to Grani next. “Grani…? What’s your opinion?” he asked.

    “…My apologies, DarkKnightmon,” Grani told him tranquilly. “I believe that a radical change like the one you’re suggesting would be detrimental to the Royal Knights. And, on a personal note, Alphamon has been good to me. Perhaps talking to Alphamon about your grievances would be a more productive course of action.”

    The shadowy Royal Knight’s gaze became hard. He spun around, his dark cape twisting slightly as he turned. “Forget it,” he said lowly.

    Without another word, DarkKnightmon left the gym in a foul temperament.

    -

    (Continued)
     
  15. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued... pesky character limit.)

    -

    DarkKnightmon stormed through the castle grounds with a severe sneer on his face. Not only had Dukemon and Grani denied him, but Magnamon and Dynasmon refused to support him as well. He had tried to talk to the two Royal Knights, but they wouldn’t even consider the idea.

    Magnamon had diplomatically said, “I’m really sorry, DarkKnightmon, but I can’t get behind you on that. I’m sure you would be a good leader as well, but Imperialdramon Paladin Mode entrusted the Seat to Alphamon, and I believe in his decision.”

    Dynasmon, on the other hand, was far blunter. “Are you insane?! Do you really think I’d betray Alphamon like that?! Where the hell did this come from, DarkKnightmon? What happened to you?” he had responded.

    He appreciated that they agreed not to tell Alphamon about what he proposed, but that did little to console the shadowy Royal Knight. He felt betrayed and ignored. Three of the five Royal Knights wouldn’t support him. That meant he lost the majority he was hoping on getting. On retrospection, he was hardly surprised. Magnamon and Dynasmon had always been extremely loyal to Alphamon. He also knew that Dukemon was a heavy advocate of free will. He felt like those battles had been decided before they ever begun.

    His only chance left was finding an ally in Omegamon. Omegamon had always been sympathetic to his ideas. He said that he understood DarkKnightmon’s point of view where none of the others had. DarkKnightmon held onto that white hope. If he could get Omegamon on his side, then it wouldn’t just be a lone, dissenting voice against all of the others. It would give his argument legitimacy, and it might even sway the other Royal Knights. He hoped that it might even make Alphamon step down on his own, seeing two of his friends speaking out against him.

    DarkKnightmon clenched his fists as he walked through the dark towards the castle gardens. He marched with resentful determination to find the white knight. The gardens were where he was told Omegamon was.

    He walked down a path surrounded by green grass that was barely visible in the darkness of the night. Only when one of the moons reappeared from behind the clouds did he see the dull shimmer of the blades of grass. That same moonlight cast an eerie sheen on his features. It made the skull on his chest armour shimmer fearsomely.

    The Royal Knight saw Omegamon in the distance, walking down the path in the opposite direction. He was flanked by patches of red and blue flowers. As soon as DarkKnightmon saw him, he increased his pace, heading towards him.

    “Omegamon,” he hailed, putting a damper on his agitated emotions in anticipation for their talk.

    “DarkKnightmon?” Omegamon curiously said, walking up to him. “What brings you here?”

    “I was looking for you,” DarkKnightmon explained, stopping in front of him.

    “Oh. I was just stretching my legs,” Omegamon answered. “What can I do for you?”

    “You value our bond as Royal Knights, do you not?” the black armoured knight asked him, looking right into Omegamon’s eyes.

    The Royal Knight was taken aback and surprised. He blinked, confused, and wondered what this was about. “Yes…? Of course. DarkKnightmon?” he questioned, trying to deduce what would make him ask something like that.

    “And you agree with me that the Free Area requires the control of the Royal Knights in order to prosper?” DarkKnightmon followed up. “You have agreed that greater security would better reduce crime.”

    Omegamon slowly began to frown. He started to realize where this was going. “DarkKnightmon… What are you trying to say…?” he asked him apprehensively.

    “I want your help, Omegamon. I need it,” DarkKnightmon explained, his voice laced with fervour. “No… Not just me. The Digital World needs your help.”

    “What is it that you need help with?” the white knight inquired, frowning suspiciously.

    “I… believe that Alphamon is unfit for the role of Lord of the Empty Seat,” DarkKnightmon told him.

    Omegamon quietly stared at him. DarkKnightmon went silent, seeing if Omegamon would respond. For awhile, the two just stared at each other.

    “And you want to take over,” Omegamon deduced, breaking the tense silence.

    “Only because I recognize the potential of the Royal Knights. What we could do if we weren’t so concerned about how everybody would react….” DarkKnightmon explained with a calm zeal, his eyes staring into Omegamon’s. “Alphamon’s weak, Omegamon. Don’t you see that? He doesn’t have what it takes to take this Order to its full potential.”

    “That is your opinion, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon responded. He reached out and placed his hand on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. “I said that I understood your ideals…” he squeezed his shoulder and then slid his hand off. “However, I didn’t say that I supported them…”

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes slowly narrowed into an incredulous glare. “What…?”

    “I’m sorry, DarkKnightmon. I respect your opinion, but I won’t support you if you hope to unseat Alphamon. There are no grounds for it,” Omegamon told him. “If you want, I can tell him about your grievances, but--”

    “I don’t want your blasted pity!” DarkKnightmon snapped, reaching out suddenly and grabbing Omegamon by the collar. Omegamon reacted in surprise and grabbed DarkKnightmon’s wrist. The shadowy Royal Knight glared at his comrade darkly. “You’re all blinded by him! What is it about Alphamon that deceives you so much?!” DarkKnightmon let go of Omegamon and sharply withdrew his hand. “You’re willing to let the evil Digimon of the world run rampant all for the sake of your pathetic friendship?”

    “D-DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon stammered in shock at his uncharacteristic outburst. “What’s gotten into you…?”

    DarkKnightmon glared at him. “I’ve had enough, Omegamon. Enough waiting… enough hoping… I kept fooling myself into thinking things would change… or that my opinions would actually be noticed. but those hopes have been stomped down again and again. None of you are willing to change.” He turned around. “I will have to change things for you all.”

    “DarkKnightmon… What are you talking about?” Omegamon asked, watching as DarkKnightmon started to head out of the castle gardens. Omegamon frowned and made sure to follow him. “Wait for a moment!”

    DarkKnightmon ignored the white knight’s plea. He stormed out of the garden and walked down the cobbled road towards the main building of the headquarters. His eyes were locked in an irritated glare.

    Underneath the surface, DarkKnightmon was seething. Even Omegamon refused him. Was what he was saying so unreasonable? Or was it that they viewed him as lesser than Alphamon? Was their bonds with him worth less than their bonds with Alphamon? Why was he constantly being refused?

    These thoughts swirled around in his head, making him grow more and more angry. He was frustrated at them for not seeing sense, and he was frustrated at himself for not being able to convince them. His impatience and dissatisfaction was at a breaking point. He knew what he had to do if he wanted to see through his goals.

    DarkKnightmon burst through the front entrance, nearly knocking the doors off their hinges. He steamed up the hallway and across the foyer. As the Royal Knight entered the great hall, he saw Alphamon, Dukemon, Dynasmon, Magnamon, OuRyuumon and Grani all standing behind the round council table, talking.

    OuRyuumon was the first to notice DarkKnightmon striding down the hall. The gold dragon sneered and glared the very sight of him. “There’s the two-faced, little traitor…” he hissed.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed. He looked around at the Royal Knights. “It didn’t take you three long, did it? Who was the first to come crawling here with what I told you?” he asked darkly.

    Dukemon’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forwards. “I did,” he told him defiantly. “The other two only spoke up because I mentioned it first.”

    “So principled, Dukemon,” DarkKnightmon sarcastically declared as he made his way halfway down the hall. “It couldn’t be that you’re overcompensating in case, one day, you accidentally run amok thanks to the Digital Hazard.”

    “What?!” Dukemon demanded incredulously, he made a move towards DarkKnightmon with anger.

    Alphamon placed a hand on Dukemon’s shoulder, holding him back. The Lord of the Empty Seat walked forwards instead. “Enough, DarkKnightmon…”

    “You don’t get to say that, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him, narrowing his eyes. He reached into the air, and, in a burst of darkness, summoned the Twin Spear in his right hand. “I’ve had enough.”

    Upon seeing the drawn weapon, OuRyuumon immediately drew his scimitars. Although surprised, Alphamon outstretched his arm in front of OuRyuumon to keep him from acting.

    “DarkKnightmon, what is this?” Alphamon asked, frowning deeply at the Royal Knight.

    “Fight me,” DarkKnightmon demanded in a tranquil, yet unwavering voice.

    “What are you talking about, DarkKnightmon?” Magnamon asked.

    “None of you need concern yourselves,” DarkKnightmon told them firmly. “This is between Alphamon and myself.” His eyes remained fixed on Alphamon. “Fight me, for the leadership of the Royal Knights.”

    Alphamon’s gaze softened. “DarkKnightmon… Go get some rest. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

    The knight’s gold eyes narrowed. “Do not treat me like a child.”

    “Then stop throwing a tantrum like one,” OuRyuumon growled at him, gripping the hilts of the Gairyu swords tightly.

    “Hold that forked tongue of yours for once in your life,” DarkKnightmon snapped at him impatiently. He continued looking at the leader of the Royal Knights. “Fight me, and hold back at your own peril.”

    “I am not going to fight you, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon told him diplomatically.

    Omegamon walked into the great hall to see DarkKnightmon standing with his Twin Spear drawn. “DarkKnightmon, stop this!”

    “I’ll stop when one of us is underneath the other’s boot,” DarkKnightmon forcefully insisted. He glared at Alphamon. “Fight. Me.”

    Alphamon sighed and looked at DarkKnightmon with a sad but stubborn stare. “No… I refuse to fight you.”

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but smirk. “Just like usual… You don’t have the courage to act when it matters.”

    DarkKnightmon suddenly gripped the middle of his lance and broke into a full sprint. He jumped onto the table, planted his metal boot into the stone, and bounded off it. He lunged towards Alphamon and brought his Twin Spear down towards him in a vertical slash. “On your guard!”

    Alphamon’s eyes widened and he recoiled. An intense, radiant light swelled in his hand and grew into the shape of a sword. On instinct, Alphamon raised his holy sword, the Seiken Gradalpha, and blocked DarkKnightmon’s Twin Spear with it.

    “DarkKnightmon!” he protested, shocked by the obdurate attack.

    “Alphamon!” OuRyuumon shouted, gripping his swords and making to intervene. He growled with anger when Dynasmon grabbed his shoulders and stopped him from attacking DarkKnightmon.

    “Don’t get involved, OuRyuumon,” Dynasmon told him, although watching with a restless glare. “They need to sort this out. I think DarkKnightmon needs to get this out of his system.”

    “Yeah…” Magnamon said, although uncertain and worried. “I doubt DarkKnightmon really plans to hurt him…”

    “He’s attacking him with a weapon, moron!” OuRyuumon barked, struggling against Dynasmon’s hold.

    “Alphamon can handle himself,” Dukemon said, backing away as the two knight clashed swords. “And if they get too carried away, we’ll jump in.”

    OuRyuumon reluctantly settled down, slackening his muscles and struggling less. “Fine… but DarkKnightmon already looks pretty carried away to me.”

    Omegamon jogged over to the other Royal Knights and watched the fight nervously. It disturbed him to see the two fighting as they were. He wondered if it would just be better to restrain DarkKnightmon and wait for him to cool down. However, then he wondered if it would be that easy; these feelings seemed to have been brewing for awhile.

    DarkKnightmon broke his clash with Alphamon, withdrawing the Twin Spear and spinning it around in his hand so he could thrust the opposite point towards the knight’s armour.

    Alphamon nimbly pivoted so that the edge of the lance merely slid against his armour. He rushed forwards and slammed his shoulder into DarkKnightmon. The ramming movement was strong enough to force DarkKnightmon back several steps, but he quickly recovered and crossed his Twin Spear in front of him.

    “I don’t want to fight you!” Alphamon shouted in agitation.

    “Then forfeit your seat,” DarkKnightmon told him, levelling his gaze with the black knight.

    Alphamon winced, already knowing what his answer would have to be. “I can’t do that. Imperialdramon Paladin Mode entrusted the Siege Perilous to me.”

    “Then there’s nothing left to say,” the knight replied. He placed both of his hands on the shaft of the Twin Spear and released a sharp breath. He glared at Alphamon and readied himself for combat after having been spurned again. “We duel for the title. Zero attacks. The first one to neutralize the other wins the Seat.”

    Alphamon glowered with frustration at the situation. His large, black fingers curled around the hilt of his sword of light. “Very well,” he reluctantly complied. He placed his free hand on top of his other one, gripping the Seiken Gradalpha firmly and holding it out in front of him. “But remember, I didn’t want this.”

    “Confident, aren’t you?” DarkKnightmon asked, keeping his eyes on Alphamon’s sword so that he could get used to its bright glow. He repositioned his feet to take on a more effective fighting stance.

    “Kick his ***, Alphamon!” OuRyuumon called out from the side.

    Alphamon didn’t acknowledge the cheer. Instead, he was focused on DarkKnightmon. He took a step forwards, making to move.

    As soon as he moved, DarkKnightmon charged him. He bounded across the marble floor and swung his spear horizontally towards Alphamon. Alphamon saw this and swung the Seiken Gradalpha to block it. However, DarkKnightmon expected this. He suddenly flipped his hand over, spinning the lance in a half rotation, and darted to the left. He stabbed the other end of the Twin Spear forwards, evading Alphamon’s block.

    Alphamon saw the feint and tried to move to avoid it, but there was too little distance between them. The tip of the spear collided with Alphamon’s chest armour and tore across it with an awful, metal screech. The force of the blow sent the Lord of the Empty Seat staggering back, but he ignored the throbbing pressure on his skin and counterattacked.

    While DarkKnightmon’s spear was still extended, Alphamon twirled his holy sword in his hand and held it out horizontally. He ran forwards and passed by DarkKnightmon, slamming the side of his sword into DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon felt the Seiken Gradalpha’s hot pressure pound his upper body and send him stumbling in reverse. Grunting in pain, DarkKnightmon swung his arm out in a wide arc and he bashed the thick, metal side of the Twin Spear across Alphamon’s face.

    The other Royal Knights watched tensely as the fight took place. OuRyuumon viewed the duel with a savage scowl on his face.

    MirageGaogamon made his way into the great hall, having heard the sounds of grunts and clashing metal when he came in. He was dumbfounded to see that DarkKnightmon was fighting Alphamon. He wondered what happened to the diplomatic talks with the other Royal Knights, and what happened to make their plans escalate this far. “DarkKnightmon…” he said to himself, watching from the far end of the great hall.

    Alphamon raised his hand to his face, rubbing his helmet which covered his sore and tender cheek underneath. He glowered at DarkKnightmon dangerously, his crimson eyes narrow and irritated. “I’ve had enough of this ridiculousness. I’m not indulging you in this any longer!” he shouted at him.

    DarkKnightmon sneered and swung his spear in front of him, pointing one of the tips at Alphamon. “If you think you can end it, then end it,” DarkKnightmon challenged.

    “Alright…” Alphamon replied. He rushed forwards and swung the raised Seiken Gradalpha down powerfully. DarkKnightmon blocked the attack. Light burst out at the contact and rebounded the spear, but DarkKnightmon kept a strong hold on it. With his other hand, the shadowy knight drove his fist into Alphamon’s exposed gut.

    Alphamon grunted at the blow to his chest, but that was all. He slashed the holy sword down diagonally, only to have it blocked, and swiped it down at a drastically different angle, but DarkKnightmon blocked that with his spear as well. DarkKnightmon held the Twin Spear in front of him, using both ends defensively against the Aloof Hermit.

    DarkKnightmon rushed forwards and raised his left arm which had the crescent blade attached to his arm and shoulder, ramming Alphamon with it. Instead of using the blades, DarkKnightmon hooked Alphamon inside the crescent, inhibiting the use of his arms.

    Alphamon growled as he was pushed back, pressed further into the metal groove. He saw DarkKnightmon raise the Twin Spear to strike him, planning to take advantage of his compromised position. Alphamon suddenly caught himself, planting his feet on the ground, and backpedalled rapidly to put a bit of distance between DarkKnightmon and himself. As he did this, he outstretched his wings and flew upwards into the air. Alphamon flew over DarkKnightmon and slammed his heel into the back of DarkKnightmon’s head.

    The blow sent DarkKnightmon stumbling a bit, but he regained his composure quickly and turned around while skidding to a stop. Just as Alphamon was landing near the center of the hall, DarkKnightmon was upon him again. He slashed at Alphamon again, aiming for the armour at his collar. Alphamon swiftly bent back to avoid the swipe.

    DarkKnightmon followed up the attack with an aggressive stab of the spear. Alphamon swerved to the side to avoid it, letting DarkKnightmon pass him. He brought his sword down on the exposed Royal Knight, but DarkKnightmon was savvy enough to spin around and block the oncoming attack with the blade on his left arm.

    Just as he thrust his lance forwards, Alphamon brought his leg up and drove his foot into DarkKnightmon’s chest at the same time. The lance sent sparks flying from Alphamon’s armour and forced him back, and Alphamon’s foot struck DarkKnightmon’s breastplate and sent him reeling as well.

    The space between the two increased as they recoiled, but it took less than a second for them to recover. Alphamon swung the Seiken Gradalpha in front of him. The sword of light made no sound as it passed through the air.

    DarkKnightmon took a few steps towards Alphamon, winding his arm back. Once it was as far back as it could stretch, DarkKnightmon swept the Twin Spear out in front of him, using his weapon’s superior range to his advantage.

    Alphamon sneered when he saw the lance sweep towards him at a low angle. “This is it,” he thought.

    As the Twin Spear swiftly approached him, Alphamon suddenly jumped with both feet into the air. DarkKnightmon observed with surprise and annoyance as the Twin Spear passed just under Alphamon’s boots and his tucked legs, but the spear had too much momentum for him to stop it immediately.

    Alphamon landed while DarkKnightmon was in mid-swing, and he wasted no time in rushing DarkKnightmon. He flipped the Seiken Gradalpha in his hand so that the blade faced towards the floor. As he closed in on Alphamon, he whipped the fulgent, holy blade upwards. The sword of light tore upwards, slamming DarkKnightmon’s chest and buffeting his arm with enough power to make the knight lose his grip on the Twin Spear.

    The Seiken Gradalpha knocked DarkKnightmon off of his feet and sent him flying onto his back with a metallic crash. The Twin Spear rolled along the marble floor, far out of DarkKnightmon’s reach.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced with pain and concern, and began to prop himself up on his elbows so that he could stand, but he felt a sudden pressure on the golden crest of his chest. He looked up and saw Alphamon looming over him, his black and gold boot on his chest, pushing him back down to the ground. DarkKnightmon grimaced when he saw the glowing, ethereal Seiken Gradalpha poised and pointed at his neck.

    Alphamon kept the sword in front of DarkKnightmon’s neck and face, and his foot remained steadfast on top of the defeated Royal Knight’s chest. “I win… You’re neutralized,” Alphamon told him, drawing heavy breaths as he leered down at him.

    DarkKnightmon panted and shut his eyes, leaning his head back against the hard floor. The Royal Knights sighed with relief that the fight was finally over. OuRyuumon had a smug, victorious grin plastered on his face.

    Alphamon sighed as he looked down at the humbled knight. He vanquished his sword in a wisp of light and removed his foot from on top of him. “Now, can you and I talk about this reasonably?” he asked him. Alphamon stepped beside DarkKnightmon’s body and offered his hand to him as a sign of peace.

    The shadowy Royal Knight ignored the hand, rolling onto his front and standing up on his own. “I’d rather not,” DarkKnightmon brusquely replied.

    Alphamon frowned. “We have to talk about this, DarkKnightmon. I understand if you don’t want to tonight, but definitely tomorrow,” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon gave a noncommittal shrug and slowly walked over to his Twin Spear. He bent down to pick it up.

    OuRyuumon eyed him suspiciously. He kept his Gairyu scimitars ready just in case DarkKnightmon tried anything underhanded.

    However, DarkKnightmon merely picked the spear up and began to head back down the great hall, towards the exit. Alphamon watched him walk away, regretful and saddened by DarkKnightmon’s actions. He felt guilty that his friend felt the way that he did. He hadn’t noticed that DarkKnightmon felt so strongly that he would go to such lengths. It made him feel like a failure as the Lord of the Empty Seat.

    DarkKnightmon silently passed by MirageGaogamon and walked out into the foyer. MirageGaogamon gave the Royal Knights a courteous nod and followed after him.

    “Nice going, Alphamon!” OuRyuumon congratulated, grinning. “You really put that cocky, two-faced bastard in his place.”

    “I took him for granted,” Alphamon said, grimacing as he watched the two Digimon disappear as they turned down one of the corridors. “I didn’t realize that he felt so… dissatisfied. Yet, it was my job to.”

    “It’s not your fault, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him, frowning at him. “That guy was conspiring you remove you from your rightful position. He started all this.”

    “Did he?” Alphamon asked. “Maybe if I gave him more notice in the past. I know we disagreed, but maybe I could have conceded a few things here and there…”

    “He wasn’t going to be satisfied until he had things his way,” Dukemon reassured him. “DarkKnightmon isn’t the type of guy to do things by half.”

    “Maybe he’ll be fine tomorrow,” Magnamon suggested with a shrug. “He’ll probably feel sheepish after a good sleep, now that he’s gotten that out of his system.

    Dynasmon rubbed the back of his head, scratching at one of his horns. “I don’t know… I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigned after that.”

    Omegamon frowned. “He said the same thing to all of you? About wanting to remove Alphamon from his position?”

    “To Magnamon, Dynasmon, and I,” Dukemon replied. “We all turned him down.”

    “Me too,” Omegamon said. “Maybe that’s why he acted so rashly.”

    “Well, now you know who your friends are, hey, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon said, folding his arms and looking at the Lord of the Empty Seat.

    Alphamon shrugged dismissively. “I thank you all for your support,” he told them, although with a soft frown on his face. “It didn’t go unnoticed.”

    “If this is going to get all sappy, I’m going to go take a leak,” OuRyuumon said, beginning to walk down the great hall.

    Alphamon managed a small smile at his words and nodded.

    OuRyuumon glimpsed over his shoulder at Alphamon for a moment before turning forward and heading to the exit of the hall. He walked into the foyer and turned right, heading down the torch-lit corridor connected to it.

    He turned down another corridor to where one of the headquarters’ lavatories was located. Upon reaching the washroom, he disappeared inside. When OuRyuumon came back out after a minute, he suddenly stopped in the hallway.

    The Captain of the Strike Forces thought he heard voices coming from further down the dark corridor. The muffled voices definitely sounded familiar in their tone, level, and cadence. This piqued his curiosity. He frowned as he tried to make out what they were saying and who they belonged to.

    OuRyuumon decided to investigate. The gold dragon walked further down the hall, passing by a dwindling torch that was about to go out. He felt the heat against his scales, but the gust that his wing caused by passing the torch caused the flame to be extinguished, forcing him to walk in the dark.

    Despite this, he could still see fairly well in the dark. This was partially due to his eyesight and partially due to the flame that he could see fulgurating down a side corridor that branched off from the corridor he was in. He walked quietly down the hallway, his bladed tail flicking back and forth behind him. It was down the upcoming side corridor on the left that he heard the voices from. Upon reaching the corner, OuRyuumon stopped and listened, fidgeting with one of the purple, fingerless gloves on his claws as he did.

    “Sir, you don’t want to go to Duskmon?” a voice asked.

    “No,” a deeper voice answered in a hushed tone. “It’s just a few bruises. Back to my question: how many of your troops can you rally? And how quickly?”

    OuRyuumon frowned. He recognized the voices for sure. It was MirageGaogamon and DarkKnightmon talking. To confirm it, he peeked around the corner. Indeed, he saw the large, umbrous Royal Knight facing the azure-clad, wolf captain. Both of their backs were turned just slightly towards OuRyuumon as they talked beneath the torch sconce, so they didn’t notice him peering out at them.

    The gold dragon withdrew to remain hidden. “Troops? What are they talking about troops for?” he wondered, finding their topic of conversation unusual. He wasn’t aware of anything happening lately that required the mobilization of the Defence Forces.

    “I can’t be sure, DarkKnightmon,” MirageGaogamon answered. “I’ll need to talk to my leftenants. It depends on whether they’re more loyal to me or to the Royal Knights. It may take some convincing.”

    “I hope you’ll have better luck than I did,” DarkKnightmon said to him bitterly.

    OuRyuumon’s eyes began to widen as he realized what was going on. They were conspiring.

    “Are you sure that it’s come to this?” MirageGaogamon asked with a voice full of apprehension. “Aren’t there any other options?”

    “It’s the only way, Captain,” spoke DarkKnightmon resolutely. “We’ve exhausted all other options. If we want this Order to change, then we’ll need to take it over by force.”

    OuRyuumon glowered furiously as his words of treachery. It took all of the dragon’s willpower not to fly into that hallway and challenge them. Instead, he balled up his clawed fists and remained quiet, listening in vigilantly.

    “It won’t be easy, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him. “Even with us, and even if I get my Defence troops on our side and get them to persuade their friends from other branches of the Order, there are still five Royal Knights and OuRyuumon to consider.”

    “I know…” DarkKnightmon responded, slow and calculating. “Give it time. I know people… There are powerful mercenary teams and freelancers that I can hire. If we pale in quality, we’ll make up for it in quantity.”

    “It will be a civil war among the Order,” MirageGaogamon said with a frown.

    “It has to be done,” DarkKnightmon said. “They brought it upon themselves when they refused to listen. I wish it hadn’t come to this, but there are no alternatives. That’s why I need you to get as many Digimon on our side as possible, but be discreet; we can’t let this get out to the wrong ears.”

    “Understood, Sir.”

    OuRyuumon bit his tongue to keep himself from hissing. The flickering, orange torchlight reflected in his savage, baleful eyes. He took deep breaths to center himself as he eavesdropped on the two conspirators. “They dare to betray us… to betray Alphamon… after everything we’ve worked for?

    “I’ll start making contact with some Digimon tomorrow,” DarkKnightmon replied. “You should get to work tomorrow as well.”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “Also, you and I should meet less frequently. It may arouse suspicion.”

    “Understood,” MirageGaogamon replied with a nod. “I’ll be off now.”

    “Very well. Good luck,” DarkKnightmon said.

    OuRyuumon heard MirageGaogamon say farewell. He heard the wolf Digimon’s footsteps growing louder as he walked away. MirageGaogamon was coming in his direction.

    The dragon Digimon knew that he couldn’t get out of there without being seen, and if they saw him trying to escape, they’d know he was onto them. Instead, OuRyuumon backed up several steps and removed his look of fury and disgust the best that he could. He knew he would have to put on his best performance. He already had practice hiding certain aspects of himself, so he worked off that.

    Now several paces behind the corner, OuRyuumon began to casually walk down the hallway towards it to make it seem like he was just arriving. Just as he did, MirageGaogamon turned the corner and stopped in his tracks when he saw OuRyuumon.

    “…Captain OuRyuumon,” MirageGaogamon said to him, his eyes widening ever-so-slightly. “What are you doing here?”

    OuRyuumon flashed him a casual grin. “Hey, MirageGaogamon…” he greeted him calmly. The grin on his face was disturbingly serene, somehow. “Washroom. …And you? Where are you off to?”

    MirageGaogamon stalled for half a moment as his mind worked like a supercomputer to try and decide if OuRyuumon had heard anything. Ultimately, he decided that it wasn’t in OuRyuumon’s nature to remain calm if he saw or heard something that angered him, and he didn’t want to act suspicious by being overcautious.

    “I’m heading to the forge to pick up my gauntlets,” MirageGaogamon answered stoically. “I brought them in to be serviced over half an hour ago.”

    “Oh, those claws? Good…” OuRyuumon responded, still smirking at him, wide enough that MirageGaogamon could see the rows of jagged teeth in his mouth. He could see that MirageGaogamon was beginning to grow unsettled. OuRyuumon couldn’t help but smile wider. “You never know when you might need to use them, right?”

    MirageGaogamon nodded slightly, looking away from him. “Goodnight, Captain,” he muttered, walking past him at a somewhat increased pace. Now he was rather worried that OuRyuumon did overhear after all. He glanced over his shoulder to see OuRyuumon giving him a final stare before the dragon turned the corner to where DarkKnightmon was. He contemplated going after him, but that would only arouse suspicion if OuRyuumon didn’t hear, and incriminate himself more if OuRyuumon did hear. He released a calming breath and continued walking, hoping that DarkKnightmon would deal with it.

    OuRyuumon turned the corner and his form became completely illuminated by the torchlight. He saw DarkKnightmon walking down the corridor, further into the darkness of the unlit section of hallway. His back was to the dragon and his dark mantle flowed behind him with every step.

    The gold dragon walked into the middle of the hallway and he levelled his gaze with DarkKnightmon’s back. His hand brushed across the hilt of one of the scimitars hanging from his belt, but he moved his claws up to his snout and cupped them around the sides of his mouth to amplify his voice.

    “Hey!” he called down the stone corridor. His high, snarly voice echoed off the walls of the confined space as he shouted.

    Upon hearing the familiar voice, DarkKnightmon stopped mid-stride. He lowered his extended foot and unclenched his muscles. Wordlessly, he looked over his shoulder, acknowledging OuRyuumon with nothing but a gaze from his yellow eye.

    OuRyuumon began to grin again as he walked down the corridor towards him. For a few seconds, there was no sound between them aside from the whirring of the torch and the clacking noise of OuRyuumon’s claws tapping the floor.

    DarkKnightmon watched as he drew near. Between OuRyuumon’s loyalty towards Alphamon and his contentious relationship with DarkKnightmon, he already expected animosity from the dragon. He expected that it would range from smug taunting to outright aggression. He tried to retain his composure, especially after it sounded like he had heard OuRyuumon speaking to MirageGaogamon.

    OuRyuumon walked up beside him and folded his arms, smirking smugly at him. “Alphamon sure kicked your ***, didn’t he?” he said to him.

    Bristling, DarkKnightmon turned and looked at him. “What do you want, OuRyuumon?”

    “I wanna talk with you,” the Captain of the Strike Forces replied.

    “Fine. Say what you have to say,” DarkKnightmon curtly said.

    “In private,” OuRyuumon insisted. He glanced around. “I don’t want anyone to hear this…”

    DarkKnightmon arched his eyebrow curiously, but nodded. OuRyuumon walked past him and lead the way down the hallway. Once at the end of the corridor, they turned left down another hall. At the very end of that was a stone, circular alcove in the corner that held a tight, spiral staircase inside. OuRyuumon began climbing the stairs, followed by DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but frown at the distance they were going. OuRyuumon led him further up the flights of stairs, going past the second level and the third level. Once past the third floor, DarkKnightmon knew that OuRyuumon was heading up to one of the watch towers.

    “Why are we going to the watchtower?” DarkKnightmon asked him, looking up at the dragon above him.

    “Privacy,” OuRyuumon told him, looking over his shoulder. “Besides, I need some air.”

    “If you’re going to mouth off to me, this is a good a place as anywhere,” he dryly said.

    “It’s not about that,” OuRyuumon answered. For the sake of keeping up appearances, he added with a wry grin, “Entirely.”

    DarkKnightmon rolled his eyes and continued following him up the stairs. OuRyuumon reached the top of the stairs and emerged on the flat, open roof of a tower. It was about ten feet in diameter, and the tower parapets were made of large, stone bricks and were about three feet high. DarkKnightmon came up behind OuRyuumon and looked around.

    The night was still dark and gloomy. The double full moons shone brightly, and small wisps of grey clouds floated along on the sky.

    OuRyuumon stopped in the middle of the keep, looking westwards. The night breeze felt soothing to the touch, and all was quiet except for the sound of guards’ talking amongst themselves far below in the courtyard.

    DarkKnightmon walked past OuRyuumon and stood near the edge of the tower so that he could face OuRyuumon. He folded his arms and observed the dragon Digimon with cold, yellow eyes. “You wished to speak with me…” DarkKnightmon said matter-of-factly. “I think I know what you want to speak about.”

    “Do you?” OuRyuumon asked, his smile beginning to fade as he leered at the knight.

    “Yes…” DarkKnightmon responded. As OuRyuumon’s smirk disappeared, a small one grew on DarkKnightmon’s face behind his metal mask. “My… tantrum several minutes ago, when I challenged Alphamon for the Empty Seat. That’s what you want to talk about, isn’t it?”

    “…Yeah…” OuRyuumon replied uncertainly, looking down at him.

    “I know you’re mad at me… You have every right to be,” the dark knight conceded diplomatically. “I just lost a hold of my temper, if you can believe it.”

    OuRyuumon gave him a ghost of a smile. He was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up his façade any longer, not when DarkKnightmon was standing right in front of him, feeding him fake apologies and weaving a fake tale. Inside, his blood was boiling…

    “Funny, that…” he breathed.

    “I know how it looked… Believe me; I’m mortified at what I ended up doing,” DarkKnightmon explained to him. “I was just really frustrated and I’ve had a horrible day. I plan to apologize to Alphamon in the morning.”

    OuRyuumon exhaled through his nostrils sharply. “Yeah…? And what about you said to Dukemon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon? About you wanting to take over,” he asked, playing along for the moment.

    “I admit, I was venting my frustrations in their company… I asked each of them if they would be behind me, just because I needed to be validated,” DarkKnightmon explained calmly. “I never meant to suggest that I wanted their help in unseating Alphamon. That’s partially why I was so agitated when I came in back there.”

    “Oh, I get it…” OuRyuumon replied.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but feel surprised. He didn’t expect OuRyuumon to be quite so understanding. It didn’t feel right. “You do…?” he asked.

    “Yeah…” the serpent Digimon assured him. His bright, violet eyes observed DarkKnightmon closely. “There’s no way you’d ever do something as treasonous as trying to unseat Alphamon, right?”

    “That’s correct,” DarkKnightmon answered, although unease grew within him at the question. “How could I do something to such a dear friend?”

    “…Enough, DarkKnightmon,” his voice whispered in a scathing growl.

    DarkKnightmon looked at OuRyuumon curiously. “I beg your pardon…?”

    “No more lies…”

    DarkKnightmon slowly unfolded his arms, letting them hang at his sides. Without revealing any strong or incriminating emotions, he stared up at OuRyuumon. “What lies?”

    OuRyuumon’s eyes turned hard and savage. The moonlight above beamed down on them both.

    “I know, DarkKnightmon…”

    Behind OuRyuumon, a massive cloud passed over the two moons, blocking them and blotting out their light. The dim, blue glow that tried to illuminate the castle disappeared, and the whole area went dark. As the clouds covered the moons behind him, OuRyuumon’s face became clouded with shadows. He glowered at DarkKnightmon with fiery, baleful eyes.

    Just as DarkKnightmon opened his mouth to protest, OuRyuumon spoke again.

    “I know your plans. You brought this on yourself,” he told him with a vicious glower. He then said one last thing.

    “This is for Alphamon.”

    OuRyuumon burst forwards and rammed his body into DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon let out a grunt and staggered back from the violent shove. He reversed only two steps before the back of his leg collided with the battlements of the wall. They stood shorter than his legs, causing him to lose his balance when he hit them. He began to fall back and he grasped at air to try and catch himself. He looked up at OuRyuumon with utter confusion and shock in his wide eyes.

    “O-OuRyuumon!” he sputtered.

    OuRyuumon snarled. With a final, powerful shove, he knocked DarkKnightmon over the edge of the tower.

    DarkKnightmon let out a sharp gasp and he swiped at OuRyuumon desperately before plummeting. OuRyuumon only managed a glance over the side of the parapets, and watched as DarkKnightmon’s body fell into the abyss of the night. After a few seconds, he heard a loud metallic crash on the cobbles of the courtyard path below. After the impact, he heard nothing.

    OuRyuumon managed a small grimace, but he soon went to work. He bent his long body down and grabbed hold of one of the higher blocks of the battlements. With a heave, he used all of his strength to move the brick and cause it to fall off the tower along with DarkKnightmon. The massive, heavy block of stone plummeted into the darkness as well, and the sound of it hitting the ground and shattering echoed almost as much as DarkKnightmon’s fall did.

    As shouts of confusion and alarm sounded out from the guards, OuRyuumon disappeared back down the staircase.
     
  16. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part III)

    DarkKnightmon’s body slammed into the stone cobbles with a violent clamour. His form jerked back erratically as he landed on his back. All of the wind was forced out of his lungs, so he couldn’t even cry out at the intense, blinding pain that coursed through his body, muscles and bones.

    However, his data remained intact. His body didn’t disintegrate like a dying Digimon’s would. He just lay there on his back, staring up at the night sky through a blurry haze that clouded his eyes. The clouds that covered the moons passed, and the bright orbs shone their light back down on the landscape. The next thing he knew, another object was falling to the ground as well. Before he could even register it through his incomprehensible agony, a stone brick crashed into the ground a few meters away from him, shattering on impact and pelting his body with pebbles.

    To his surprise, he didn’t hear the crash. His hearing was muffled and clouded. DarkKnightmon grimaced and turned his head to the side, he saw the round, armoured form of a Gladimon, and the fox-like form of a Reppamon running over to him. DarkKnightmon’s vision was brighter than usual; everything seemed like early evening as opposed to near midnight, the actual time. He felt somewhat lightheaded underneath the throbbing pain in his skull, and he could feel a warm liquid trickling from his ears and nostrils underneath his helmet. When the liquid dripped onto the corner of his mouth, he recognized the metallic taste of blood.

    DarkKnightmon tried to regain his senses. At the back of his mind, he wondered how he was still alive. He quickly figured that the thick armour all over his body must have cushioned him from the fall. The fact that he was at the level of a Mega Digimon certainly must have helped as well. Despite that, his body was wracked with pain.

    He slowly rolled onto his side, releasing a deep groan of torment. There was a sharp pain inside his chest. His ribs were tender and he was fairly sure that he had a concussion. Despite these injuries, and the stabbing pain in his body, he continued to try to get to his knees.

    “You mustn’t move, Sir!” he heard the Gladimon insist anxiously as more guards began to hurry over.

    “I’m… fine,” he insisted weakly, getting to his hands and knees. As he stared at the ground for that moment, it began to register how this had happened. OuRyuumon pushed him.

    OuRyuumon tried to kill him.

    Not only that, but OuRyuumon had said that he did it for Alphamon. At first, he felt stunned. Even though they often fought, he never dreamed that OuRyuumon would do something like that to him. He knew that OuRyuumon had found out about his plans, and he knew that the dragon had always been violent, but to think that he would try to kill him…

    Rage and pain ignited in DarkKnightmon like an inferno. The feelings of betrayal and total fury, mixed with the surge of adrenaline and endorphins, poured through his system like a torrent. His eyes grew wide with rage and he suddenly rose to his feet on trembling legs.

    “S-Sir! You’re hurt!” the Gladimon protested.

    “LEAVE ME!” DarkKnightmon snapped, shoving past all of the gathered Digimon.

    He still felt dazed, but a new found determination overtook him. In an almost dream-like state, DarkKnightmon stormed across the street to a large building that had smoke billowing out of its chimney at the base of the wall. He stormed into the building and was greeted with a blast of heat. He looked around the forge and saw MirageGaogamon talking with the Guardromon blacksmith.

    MirageGaogamon nodded and just finished putting on his claw gauntlets when he noticed DarkKnightmon enter. He immediately noticed DarkKnightmon’s haggard condition and turned to him with shock and concern. “S-Sir! What happened?!”

    DarkKnightmon staggered over to MirageGaogamon and grabbed his shoulder roughly. He glared at the Captain with a frenzied look in his eyes. He wheezed furiously.

    “The time… to act… is now!”

    -

    OuRyuumon swiftly walked down a corridor towards the foyer. He looked around uneasily, paranoid that somebody might have seen him or noticed him coming from the tower stairs. Luckily for him, he didn’t see anybody. Unluckily for him, he didn’t know that DarkKnightmon survived the fall. He had kicked off that stone to make to seem like DarkKnightmon had fallen by accident, by leaning against a loose part of wall; nobody would have believed that DarkKnightmon just fell on his own without something causing it.

    He entered the foyer and turned sharply, walking back into the great hall. All of the other Royal Knights were still there, talking.

    “There you are!” Dynasmon remarked, chuckling. “We were beginning to think you fell in.”

    OuRyuumon didn’t respond. The only part of the sentence that registered was the word ‘fell’. He couldn’t help but look flustered and uneasy. “A-Alphamon!” he called out, looking at the Royal Knights, but finding it impossible to make eye contact with any of them, especially Alphamon.

    Alphamon noticed that there was something wrong with his friend. He could tell by his body language. A frown grew on Alphamon’s face. “…OuRyuumon?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

    “There’s been an accident!” OuRyuumon replied heatedly. “DarkKnightmon fell off one of the castle towers! I think a stone came loose or something…“

    Alphamon stood up from the table in horror. “What?!” he demanded, his eyes wide.

    The rest of the Royal Knights followed suit.

    “When was this?!” Dukemon asked, vaulting over his chair to approach OuRyuumon.

    “Just a few minutes ago,” OuRyuumon answered, grimacing.

    “Is he okay?!” Magnamon asked with concern.

    OuRyuumon stalled. “…No… He’s d--“

    OuRyuumon was interrupted when a massive, yellow beam exploded through the side of the great hall, tearing through the marble wall and ripping shards of rock and gold marble away. The Royal Knights dived to the floor in a kneejerk response to the unexpected blast. It passed over their heads, pelting their bodies with bits of rock and marble, and tore along the opposite wall, sending more chunks of marble crashing to the floor.

    The Royal Knights grunted as the beam diminished but wasted no time in getting back up.
    “What the hell was that?!” Dukemon demanded, scrambling to his feet. He summoned the Aegis shield and the Gram lance in his hands as he turned towards the cloud of dust.

    “Are we under attack?!” Alphamon asked, forming the glowing, white, Seiken Gradalpha in one hand and an aura of green power in the other.

    The rest of the Royal Knights also prepared to defend themselves, turning to the haze of dust and smoke.

    A great shadow emerged in the cloud. The large, dark body stepped into the great hall through the hole made in the wall. He strode in with zealous determination, a double-sided lance in his hand.

    DarkKnightmon emerged from the smoke before the Royal Knights. His gold eyes shone with venomous severity and fierceness, and his dark mantle whipped behind him as he approached.

    Behind him followed MirageGaogamon, who appeared stoically from the smoke, the cannon on his chest leaking yellow breath from the attack.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon demanded, seeing them both. “What’s going on?! I thought you... What was that attack?!”

    OuRyuumon’s heart dropped like a comet when he saw the ‘dead’ black knight emerge, very much alive.

    “Thought I was dead?” DarkKnightmon asked, glaring at him darkly. His pupil-less eyes turned to look at OuRyuumon. Despite the pain that still wracked his body, and the blood trickling down his face behind his mask, he couldn’t help but grin at the expression on OuRyuumon’s face. “I’m sorry to disappoint...”

    OuRyuumon’s eyes were as wide as the full moons outside. His jagged teeth were clenched with bitter fear and shock. The claws on his fingers were gripping the Gairyu scimitars so tightly that they nearly dug into their hilts.

    He had no idea how DarkKnightmon survived that fall. He didn’t understand how he managed it. He felt his heart pounding in his chest. Without realizing it, his astounded, outraged, violet eyes between darting back and forth between Alphamon and DarkKnightmon. If DarkKnightmon told them what happened, he’d be kicked out of the Order. Alphamon might never speak to him again. He knew that what he did was for a good reason, but if DarkKnightmon convinced them that he was the victim, then it would be his word against OuRyuumon’s, and DarkKnightmon had the physical bruises as proof. Then again, they just blasted a hole through the side of the wall, but OuRyuumon was too caught up in his worry to register the implications of that.

    “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon observed, raising his Twin Spear and pointing it at him. “I’m one Digimon who can’t be killed so easily.

    OuRyuumon tensed up at his words, standing straight with his long body. He glared at DarkKnightmon with a rivalrous sneer.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Dukemon shouted, walking ahead with a demanding leer. “What’s the meaning of this? Captain MirageGaogamon, why did you do that to the wall? Somebody could have been hurt!”

    As the crimson knight approached, DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes and stepped towards him. “That was the idea,” he spoke, gripping his spear. “Twin Spear!” DarkKnightmon swung his lance upwards, tearing the tip up Dukemon’s chest.

    The spear slammed into his chest, but his armour withheld the attack. Dukemon released a shout of surprise as he was thrown off his feet from the powerful swing and sent flying onto his back.

    “Dukemon!” Dynasmon yelled, rushing over to him with concern.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon scolded angrily. “Lower your weapon!”

    DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes as he beheld the Lord of the Empty Seat. “You expect me to take any heed of what you have to say, Alphamon?” he asked him frigidly. “After everything that’s happened?”

    “Whatever’s happened doesn’t excuse what you just did!” Alphamon replied firmly. “Lower your weapon before you do something that you can’t take back!”

    “Don’t talk down to me, Alphamon! You’re a hypocrite and you know it,” DarkKnightmon snapped back, seething underneath. “You and your cronies should take a hard look at yourselves before you pass judgment on me. All I wanted was to make a difference in the world and you stifled me at every turn!”

    “That’s not true at all!” Alphamon stormed. “Can you not handle being told, ‘no’?”

    “What I can’t handle is you driving this Order into the ground,” the shadow knight told him. “I’m going to wrestle this Order free from your grasp at any cost! I am finished with waiting. Now we are ready to act!”

    Dynasmon finished helping Dukemon to his feet and he looked over at MirageGaogamon. “MirageGaogamon?” he asked the captain incredulously.

    “It’s nothing personal, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told them, readying his claws and narrowing his gaze. “I just happen to believe in DarkKnightmon more.”

    “Attack!” DarkKnightmon ordered, rushing across the debris-cluttered floor of the great hall. He headed straight for Alphamon, his spear poised behind him and his eyes flashing dangerously. “No restraint this time, Alphamon!”

    Alphamon grimaced and readied the Seiken Gradalpha. “Why is this happening...?” he wondered. His gaze slowly hardened. “Don’t test me, DarkKnightmon...”

    “It won’t be like last time,” DarkKnightmon breathed. He looked over his shoulder at MirageGaogamon.

    MirageGaogamon nodded obediently and the gaping wolf maw on his chest suddenly gleamed brightly. “Full Moon Blaster!”

    A beam ripped from his cannon, headed straight for DarkKnightmon’s back as the knight charged Alphamon. DarkKnightmon lunged up, bounding high into the air so that the blast passed under him. As DarkKnightmon moved, Alphamon saw the blast that was behind him, and it swiftly closed in on him.

    Alphamon grunted and dove out of the way, somersaulting across the floor. The beam passed by him and slammed into the back wall. The section of wall burst with a powerful explosion, rocking the great hall and pelting the area with more marble and rock. Alphamon came to a stop on his knee. He looked up and saw a shadow descending on him.

    DarkKnightmon came down on Alphamon, stabbing down at him with his Twin Spear. Alphamon turned around and raised the Seiken Gradalpha, blocking the tip of the lance from hitting him by catching it on the sturdy, semi-physical light of his sword. Alphamon held against him for a second before narrowing his eyes and sweeping his sword outwards.

    The seditious Royal Knight wasted no time in counterattacking. As Alphamon stood up to face him, DarkKnightmon aimed the tip of his lance at him. The Twin Spear surged with dark energy. A pillar of destructive shadows shot out and descended on Alphamon before he had a chance to defend himself.

    Alphamon shouted with shock and pain as the beam slammed into him. The resulting explosion tore up the floor tiles and threw Alphamon through the air. The black Royal Knight was swept up in the beam and the resulting explosion, and he slammed into the circular council table violently, the impact’s pressure splitting the smooth, stone surface down the middle.

    “Alphamon!” Magnamon yelled out with worry. He ran over to Alphamon to see if he was okay. Upon reaching the broken, shattered table, he saw the Alphamon was already stirring. With a grimace, he turned towards DarkKnightmon, who landed on his feet. “DarkKnightmon! Enough of this! Let’s talk about this reasonably!”

    “We’re beyond that, Magnamon,” DarkKnightmon coolly told him. “Either join me or stay out of my way. Otherwise, I’m going to take you down too.”

    OuRyuumon glowered. “You think you can get away with this?!” he snapped, flying into the air and racing towards DarkKnightmon with his scimitars drawn. “I’m gonna kill you!”

    DarkKnightmon turned towards the approaching dragon with narrowed eyes and he raised his Twin Spear to counter him. “Now, now... Don’t start something you can’t finish, OuRyuumon,” he taunted calmly, his eyes flashing. A torrent of shadows ripped from the Twin Spear towards gold dragon Digimon.

    OuRyuumon hissed as he jerked his serpentine body to the right and flew upwards, narrowly avoiding DarkKnightmon’s umbrous beam. He heard the dark energy crackling below him as it flew across the great hall and went right through the hole in the wall, creating a devastating, unseen explosion in another section of the headquarters. OuRyuumon’s eyes narrowed keenly and he swooped down sharply as the blast subsided. As he descended on him, he slashed one of the Gairyu swords down on DarkKnightmon.

    Sparks exploded out from clashing metal. The dark Royal Knight raised the Twin Spear and blocked the Gairyu Udaijin, holding steady against the strike with his own strength. He then noticed OuRyuumon stab the sword in his left hand, the Gairyu Sadaijin, towards his throat. DarkKnightmon swiftly and smoothly tilted his head to the left, causing the sword to slide against his metal helmet and glance off with the sharp, dragging sound of metal.

    DarkKnightmon drove his metal fist into OuRyuumon’s armoured underbelly, extracting a winded gasp and a few drops of saliva from the dragon’s mouth. He gave a hoarse breath, but kept his hold on the struggle against DarkKnightmon’s spear. DarkKnightmon strongly punched him again, arching OuRyuumon’s back and causing him to stumble backwards a few steps as he tried to regain his breath.

    The dragon felt DarkKnightmon’s boot collide with his lower body, driving him back further. DarkKnightmon then lunged at him, swiping his lance down vertically.

    “Damn you...!” OuRyuumon sputtered, crossing his scimitars to block the giant weapon. The swords held true and DarkKnightmon recoiled the Twin Spear to counterattack. With space now available to him OuRyuumon flapped his Gaiba Daimeijin wings and flew backwards to put distance between himself and DarkKnightmon. He extended his Gairyu swords and levelled them with DarkKnightmon’s body. As they began to glow and spark with luminous power, he spoke in a growl.

    “Eiseiryuoujin!” Two blasts exploded from the swords and collided with DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon grunted and sneered as the power pounded against his armour. He skidded across the floor on his feet, only barely managing to remain standing as he was forced back several meters. Smoke wafted up from his chest and he glared at OuRyuumon with cold, gleaming eyes.

    OuRyuumon smirked and swiped his swords outwards, flicking the lingering energy from the blades. “You’re not as great as you think you are.”

    DarkKnightmon smiled to himself, suddenly looking over at OuRyuumon’s side. MirageGaogamon tackled the dragon in a blur of azure, raking his claws across his chest. OuRyuumon growled with shock and pain, swiftly responding by slashing his sword across MirageGaogamon’s armour as they flew through the air.

    “Thank you for occupying him, Captain,” he said before turning to the Royal Knights.

    Alphamon glared at him. He held his sword in one hand and swept his other hand outwards. “This is your last chance, DarkKnightmon! Cease this at once and we can lessen your punishment!” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes. “Last chances... Bargains...” he said aloud. “That is precisely why you’re weak, Alphamon.” The shadowy knight took off towards them, weapon in hand.

    Alphamon swore under his breath. “Magnamon! Go help OuRyuumon! The rest of you, with me! No using powerful beam attacks; they could hurt other Digimon and destroy the castle!” he ordered the Royal Knights.

    “Got it!” Magnamon told him, dashing for a few moments before jumping into flight. He soared down the long great hall, to where OuRyuumon and MirageGaogamon were fighting on the opposite end.

    “That won’t stop him from using those attacks!” Dukemon protested, raising his lance and shield, looking at the fast approaching DarkKnightmon. “He’s completely discarded his honour and integrity.”

    “We’ll just have to deal with it,” Alphamon responded. “The forces won’t know what’s going on. We could hurt them if we use powerful attacks while they’re unprepared.”

    “That soft thinking is the reason why this Order will never reach its full potential,” DarkKnightmon exclaimed before lunging into the air. He landed in the midst of Alphamon, Omegamon, Dynasmon, and Dukemon, and began spinning the Twin Spear rapidly. “Treason Vortex!”

    Shadows arced out from the twin tips of the lance, swirling around DarkKnightmon’s body. The dark power grew and multiplied with every swing of the spear. Soon, a maelstrom of shadows spiralled around DarkKnightmon’s body. The darkness swept over the four Royal Knights and blasted their bodies. The four knights were thrown away in separate directions.

    DarkKnightmon burst through the dark veil before it even began to disappear. He raced across the floor after Dukemon, who hit the floor and somersaulted backwards to bring himself back to his feet.

    Just as he began to recover, Dukemon saw DarkKnightmon rip across the floor towards him. His eyes narrowed angrily and power spiralled around the Gram lance. “Lightning Jou—“

    DarkKnightmon slammed the Twin Spear into Dukemon’s lance in a sideways slash, pointing it away from him. The spear exploded with holy energy which shot out and stabbed into the floor with a fearsome explosion. Ignoring the blast, DarkKnightmon slashed his spear in the opposite direction this time. The Twin Spear caught the side of the Aegis, getting inside the shield and knocking it, along with Dukemon’s arm, outwards. Dukemon cursed at DarkKnightmon’s fast and deadly precise actions – his body was completely exposed in this crucial moment.

    Dukemon’s eyes locked with DarkKnightmon’s fiercely. “DarkKni—AHH!”

    DarkKnightmon coldly and ruthlessly swept his Twin Spear down Dukemon’s body. The spear punctured the metal and it tore through his armour vertically, leaving a long, serrated gash in the metal in its wake. The spear’s tip slashed through his scales and drew blood.

    When the lance left his armour, Dukemon fell to his knees, clutching his bleeding chest and breathing heavily. Despite the burning pain he felt, he snarled harshly and stabbed the Gram into DarkKnightmon’s side. The tip caught just the edge of it and dug into his armour.

    “Lightning Joust!” he scathed. Power spiraled around his lance in a holy vortex. The burning energy collected at the point of the Gram, which was embedded in DarkKnightmon’s armour. The tip of the Gram exploded with holy power, shattering the part of DarkKnightmon’s armour at his left hip. He let out a sharp grunt of pain as pieces of armour burst outwards and his skin was burned, bruised, and bloodied.

    DarkKnightmon was blasted to the side, staggering on his feet. His already bruised body throbbed with pain, but he would not be deterred. He caught himself and dug his foot into a nearby crater from one of the attacks. He looked down quickly to survey the damage. His left hip was completely exposed and smouldering with smoke and residual energy. He narrowed his eyes indignantly and turned to Dukemon.

    The crimson Royal Knight heaved in pain, but he was now on one knee instead of two, indicating to DarkKnightmon that he hadn’t given up yet. Dukemon looked around. He saw that Alphamon, Omegamon, and Dynasmon were all pretty much recovered from the Treason Vortex attack by now.

    DarkKnightmon walked over to Dukemon and grabbed him by his long, white hair. He pulled Dukemon’s head forwards sharply, just as he brought his knee up, driving the golden spike into Dukemon’s visor. Dukemon cried out and began to fall back from the blow, but DarkKnightmon wasn’t finished. He drove his bladed boot into Dukemon’s chest, sending him sailing onto his caped back.

    Once Dukemon landed with a crash several meters away from him, DarkKnightmon raised the Twin Spear and aimed the point at Dukemon. He fired a massive, black and purple beam from the spear that slammed into Dukemon and crashed him into the damaged marble floor, creating a crater around the knight. Dukemon was able to shield himself with the Aegis, but it only helped so much.

    The dark knight’s spear brimmed with shadows once again and he fired a second blast onto Dukemon, who weakly tried to sit up. Dukemon was crushed against the floor, and pain flooded through his body. The beam diminished and the armour covering Dukemon’s body was fractured and smoking all over. He gasped, panted, and his body trembled with pain and obstinate struggle, but he couldn’t get back up no matter how hard he tried.

    “Dukemon!”

    Dynasmon roared with anger and came up behind DarkKnightmon, wrapping his arms around the knight’s body and crushing his arms to his side in a painful bear hug to keep him from attacking Dukemon and using his spear.

    “DarkKnightmon! How dare you do this! What’s wrong with you?!” he demanded, right beside DarkKnightmon’s ear. He glared at his face with angry, confused, red eyes. “Dukemon’s your friend, damnit! We all are! Doesn’t that mean anything to you anymore?!”

    “At one time, it would have,” DarkKnightmon told him, grimacing and struggling against the tight, painful hold. “Now, you have all freed me from those bonds.”

    DarkKnightmon drove his head back into Dynasmon’s face, momentarily stunning him. He followed up the attack by driving his elbow back into Dynasmon’s gut. Dynasmon staggered back, growling and dragging his claws against DarkKnightmon’s armour as he recoiled.

    With his arms free, DarkKnightmon was able to act. He spun around and drove his fist into Dynasmon’s face, his knuckles colliding painfully with Dynasmon’s mouth and chin. The violet dragon man kept himself from tripping by poising his wings back and grabbing hold of DarkKnightmon’s wrist. DarkKnightmon was pulled forwards along with Dynasmon. He saw the dragon knight steady himself and proceed to drive his mighty fist into DarkKnightmon’s upper body.

    DarkKnightmon grunted at the shockwave of pain, but as he fell back, he stabbed the Twin Spear into the ground to keep himself from falling.

    Dynasmon steadied himself and felt blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth. He raised his hand to wipe the blood away and observed the crimson smear on his finger with anger and frustration. “So, that’s how it’s going to be, DarkKnightmon...?” His blood red eyes hardened and he outstretched his hands. The gems on his palms began to shine with elemental energy. “Then I’ll take you down! Dragon’s Roar!”

    Raw elemental power – fire and light – came shooting from his palms. They spiralled around one another hypnotically and hurled towards DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon saw them approach at a wide arc before slowly converging, making it difficult for him to dodge. He acted quickly and his body suddenly shone brightly. DarkKnightmon’s body suddenly broke into his two component parts: SkullKnightmon, a short, spry knight with DarkKnightmon’s body and both ends of the Twin Spear on his hands, and DeadlyAxemon, an agile, demonic beast whose body consisted of DarkKnightmon’s legs and the axe on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. With DarkKnightmon’s body now split, the two diverged in opposite directions, allowing the Dragon’s Roar attack to pass between them and explode on the opposite wall with a massive detonation.

    SkullKnightmon’s short body ripped across the floor, jumped up, bounded off the nearby back wall with his feet and descended on Dynasmon.

    “What?!” Dynasmon demanded, turning towards SkullKnightmon. Unfortunately, distracted by SkullKnightmon’s speed and aggression, he turned his attention away from the faster of the duo, DeadlyAxemon.

    “Air Slicer!” the beast said in a high pitched roar. DeadlyAxemon flanked Dynasmon from the side, moving so quickly that only his afterimage could be seen. His speed rivalled MirageGaogamon, who combated OuRyuumon and Magnamon at the other end of the battle-torn great hall. DeadlyAxemon passed Dynasmon, his bladed body slicing along his back. DeadlyAxemon hit the wall gracelessly and jumped off, rebounding back, and slicing across Dynasmon’s front.

    Before SkullKnightmon even came close to him, he felt his arms, back and wings, burn with an unbearable, stinging pain. He gave a snarl and faltered in his stance. This offered an opening for SkullKnightmon, who slammed into Dynasmon’s chest and stabbed his dual spears into Dynasmon’s chrome digizoid chest armour. “Spear Needle!”

    Dynasmon was thrown back by the powerful, painful impact, but not before grabbing SkullKnightmon by the head and instinctively blasting him at point blank range, shooting him like a cannon out of his large palm. SkullKnightmon skidded across the floor but quickly righted himself and stood upright.

    Upon standing up, he found himself bombarded by blasts of emerald energy, which exploded around him. He braced himself with his spear arms and saw Alphamon firing on him, taking the opportunity to intervene now that Dynasmon and he were separated.

    “Dynasmon! Your attacks are too powerful!” Alphamon told him as he fired small Digitalize of Soul blasts from his palm.

    Dynasmon grimaced, looking around and noticing that the great hall seemed to be on the verge of collapsing by this point. “R-Right...” he grunted.

    “DeadlyAxemon! To me!” SkullKnightmon commanded.

    “Got it!” DeadlyAxemon replied, ripping across the floor and skidding to a stop at SkullKnightmon’s side.

    “DigiXros!” SkullKnightmon announced. The two partitioned Digimon began to radiate bright white and grey light. Their bodies converged into one another’s and, once again, they formed DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon turned towards Dynasmon and pointed his Twin Spear at the Digimon. A dark aura swirled around the long, conical lance.

    “Plasma Shoot!” a voice called out from the side.

    Four golden missiles streaked through the air towards DarkKnightmon, smoke puffing out from behind them. Just as DarkKnightmon pivoted to see them, the four descended on him, and four explosions blasted him from every angle, swallowing him up in golden fire and smoke.

    As DarkKnightmon let out a reflexive shout, Magnamon dashed over to Dynasmon’s side.

    “Magnamon!” Omegamon proclaimed, surprised to see him back here.

    “What are you doing here?” Alphamon asked, looking at him and then turning back to look down the great hall. MirageGaogamon and OuRyuumon were still clashing.

    “OuRyuumon assured me he could handle MirageGaogamon,” Magnamon replied. “They were too close together for me to do anything anyways, and I thought you could use more help against DarkKnightmon.”

    Dynasmon managed a pained, half-grin. “You’re probably right about that...”

    “Alright,” Alphamon said, watching the cloud of smoke for DarkKnightmon, carefully. He motioned with his hand to Omegamon, telling him to flank DarkKnightmon from behind. “Just watch those explosions.”

    Magnamon nodded and dashed ahead of the dragon, running towards the haze of smoke created by his missiles. Inside the cloud, he saw DarkKnightmon’s shadowy silhouette, using his spear to keep himself standing. Magnamon lunged into the smoky miasma and drew his fist back. “Magnum Punch!”

    His blue, clawed fist, supercharged by the golden energy of Miracles, connected with DarkKnightmon’s face, causing his head to jerk back and force him to stumble. “Magnum Kick!” He followed up with a strong, golden kick into DarkKnightmon’s gut, making the dark knight double over and wheeze.

    As Magnamon landed, DarkKnightmon lashed out with his free hand , driving his palm into Magnamon’s throat and curling his fingers around his neck. DarkKnightmon squeezed tightly, cutting off the golden knight’s oxygen, and lifted him off the ground, holding him at arm’s length so that Magnamon couldn’t reach DarkKnightmon’s body with his punches or kicks.

    Magnamon gasped and choked, struggling to hit DarkKnightmon, one of his claws on DarkKnightmon’s wrist to try and pull his hand off his neck. DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed coldly and he squeezed harder.

    “Magnamon!” Dynasmon shouted. He flapped his large, violet wings strongly and lifted himself off his feet. Despite the stinging he felt in them from DeadlyAxemon’s attack, he flew forwards to help his friend.

    Dynasmon dove towards DarkKnightmon, winding his fist back. DarkKnightmon glanced up at him and, without letting go of Magnamon, raised the Twin Spear in his other hand. The weapon surged with dark, violet power, and a beam launched through the air at Dynasmon, hitting him head on. Dynasmon released a snarl of pain as the beam exploded on contact with him and he was blasted out of the air. Dynasmon crashed to the ground in a heap.

    Magnamon released a muffled, garbled growl and went to work on punching the arm that held him. He was distraught to see that it wasn’t helping his situation very much. DarkKnightmon turned his Twin Spear towards Magnamon, angling one of the sharp tips with his body.

    Magnamon glared defiantly at the fallen knight before him. “Plas...ma... Shoot!” he rasped. His golden shoulder guards suddenly glowed and, from inside of them, two missiles sailed out and crashed downwards, at DarkKnightmon’s feet. The explosions erupted between them, throwing them apart violently. Magnamon slid out of the grip of DarkKnightmon’s fingers and he was blasted away by the explosion, slamming into the debris-littered floor and skidding across it on his back. With a grimace, he stopped near Dynasmon.

    DarkKnightmon was also thrown backwards, but he managed a backwards somersault in mid air so that he could right himself and land on his feet. As soon as he touched down, something caught his eye. He recognized a flash of white over his shoulder, and knew that Omegamon was lurking behind him. DarkKnightmon wasn’t about to be stabbed in the back a second time. The dark paladin raced forwards, away from Omegamon and towards Dynasmon and Magnamon. He ducked and jumped over the small but concentrated Digitalize of Soul blasts that Alphamon fired at him as he ran.

    Alphamon grimaced, starting to run to intervene. “Dynasmon! Magnamon! Look out!” he warned them, still firing green beams from his palms as he moved.

    Dynasmon and Magnamon were helping one another to their feet when they heard Alphamon’s warning. They turned and saw DarkKnightmon closing in on them at incredible speeds.

    Magnamon grimaced and his golden armour began to glow with concentrated energy. “Plasma Shoot!” he called out. However, instead of missiles, it was a variant of the attack; golden power burst from his armour towards DarkKnightmon. Dynasmon raised a hand and scowled, aiming his glowing palm at the fast approaching knight. “Dragon Thrower!”

    Golden and white power blasted from the two knights and flew alongside the other in synchronicity. DarkKnightmon slammed his foot into the ground, creating cracks in the tiles, and bounded high into the air. He narrowly avoided the two attacks. The radiant beams grazed and superheated the soles of his boots, but he jumped high enough to pass over them.

    DarkKnightmon continued to ascend, lunging over the two Royal Knights. Just as he was above them, he aimed the Twin Spear down at them. A pillar of shadows ripped from the spear and descended upon the two Royal Knights, crushing them into the floor.

    Magnamon and Dynasmon’s shouts of pain were drowned out by the sound of dark power all around them. They were forced to their knees, and when the beam subsided, their forms throbbed and smoked with dark power.

    DarkKnightmon landed behind them and immediately turned around. He dashed towards the two Royal Knights, his lance held behind his back in a poised position. However, Dynasmon and Magnamon weren’t finished just yet. They both shot to their feet and spun around, their fists clenched and ready to punch the dark Royal Knight.

    DarkKnightmon swept the Twin Spear out in a smooth, savage arc. The lance ripped across Dynasmon and Magnamon’s bodies before they could get close enough to him to attack. Their stances faltered and their muscles began to give out. DarkKnightmon then levelled the Twin Spear with their pained bodies and released another beam blast at them at point blank range.

    The dark torrent of energy enveloped the two Royal Knights and sent them flying through the air within the shadows’ folds. They tumbled across the floor for several meters before coming to a stop. Neither Magnamon nor Dynasmon moved.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon shouted with anger and a tinge of fear, glaring at him for what he was doing to his friends and comrades.

    “All of this could have been avoided,” DarkKnightmon muttered, ducking under a streak of emerald energy that Alphamon fired at him.

    Alphamon sneered and clenched the Seiken Gradalpha in his right hand, which hummed with holy energy. He charged towards DarkKnightmon.

    However, DarkKnightmon, instead of going to meet Alphamon’s charge, broke off in a different direction. He rushed towards Omegamon.

    Omegamon’s blue eyes calmly narrowed when he realized that DarkKnightmon wanted him to be his next opponent. The white knight accepted his challenge. He dashed across the floor towards DarkKnightmon; he swept out the long Grey Sword from his left arm and aimed the Garuru Cannon on his right in front of him, at DarkKnightmon.

    “You can still stop this, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon told him, rushing to meet the knight head on.

    “You say with a raised sword,” DarkKnightmon responded, continuing to charge him.

    “What do you expect?” Omegamon answered, narrowing his eyes as he swiped the Grey Sword out.

    The sword sang a metal hum as it swept in front of Omegamon at a horizontal arc. DarkKnightmon quickly brought the Twin Spear to block it, and the two collided in a crash of armour. The two knights rebounded off each other, Omegamon slightly further due to DarkKnightmon’s strength advantage.

    Omegamon used his recoil to his advantage. As space grew between them, he aimed the Garuru Cannon and fired a powerful blast of bright, blue energy. “Garuru Cannon!” he shouted as the massive, spherical orb pulsed from his cannon.

    Unable to dodge the attack at such a close distance, DarkKnightmon swung the Twin Spear up to help block the attack, but it could only do so much. The sphere of cold, freezing power slammed into DarkKnightmon’s spear, shoving it back against his chest, before the rest of the blast collided with his upper body too. He grimaced upon feeling the numbing cold coat his spear and his armour. The enormous, concussive blast sent him reeling back and he saw forced to slash out his icicle-dripping spear to keep himself standing as he skidded along the floor.

    Over his shoulder, he noticed Alphamon coming up behind him, slashing horizontally to strike his back with his holy sword. DarkKnightmon exhaled sharply and swiftly pulled the Twin Spear behind his back, using the thick edge of it to block the Seiken Gradalpha from hitting his armour and his tender back. The sword struck his spear, and while it cushioned the worst of the damage, he still felt the enormous momentum of the blow, forcing him to stagger forwards, back towards Omegamon. As DarkKnightmon stumbled, he fired a beam blindly behind him at Alphamon. The dark blast grazed the side of Alphamon’s arm and hit his protrusive shoulder armour, knocking him back.

    DarkKnightmon took advantage of his forward momentum to increase his charge towards Omegamon. He stabbed the Twin Spear towards Omegamon’s chest, but Omegamon swerved to the left and gave a backhanded slash with the Grey Sword towards DarkKnightmon’s chest. DarkKnightmon acted quickly, bringing the Twin Spear up to block it.

    Omegamon swung his right arm and drove the muzzle of the Garuru Cannon into DarkKnightmon’s face. Temporarily stunned, DarkKnightmon reeled back from the blow. Omegamon saw his opportunity. He raised the Grey Sword and swept it down DarkKnightmon’s chest armour.

    The fallen knight sneered with pain and frustration as the metal-on-metal caused sparks to cascade out from his chest. “Omegamon...” he growled, grabbing one of the side horns of the Grey Sword to resist against the slash. He stabbed the Twin Spear against the armour covering Omegamon’s upper body, forcing him back a few steps as the tip scratched the paint and dug into the metal, although not deep enough to breach.

    DarkKnightmon aimed one of the ends of his lance at Omegamon. Omegamon saw the weapon flow with shadows and realized that he was about to fire it. He swiftly aimed the Garuru Cannon and fired a quick but powerful blast from the mouth of the cannon. The strong orb slammed into DarkKnightmon’s hand, exploding mightily on contact, forcing the Twin Spear out of DarkKnightmon’s hand.

    The yellow eyes of DarkKnightmon widened slightly as the spear crashed to the floor out of his reach. Without his primary weapon, DarkKnightmon was left at a disadvantage. This, he wouldn’t tolerate. DarkKnightmon charged at Omegamon and slammed the massive axe of his shoulder into Omegamon’s body cutting against him and ramming him violently. Omegamon let out a grunt as he was sent staggering in reverse. With Omegamon temporarily predisposed, DarkKnightmon lunged after the Twin Spear, which lay on the ground several meters away from him. Omegamon saw DarkKnightmon make for the weapon, and although still unbalanced, he acted. The white knight raised the Garuru Cannon swiftly and fired it with the best aim that he could muster in that moment. A blast of power ripped from the cannon and exploded against DarkKnightmon’s shoulder just as the dark warrior closed in on the weapon.

    DarkKnightmon released a surprised and frustrated shout as the blast sent him flying onto his caped back. Omegamon managed to right himself and he took off after DarkKnightmon before he could recover as well.

    The holy knight flew up and landed with boot on DarkKnightmon’s chest, forcing him down. He placed one foot on DarkKnightmon’s wrist and squatted over DarkKnightmon. The Garuru Cannon hovered over DarkKnightmon, aimed at his face and upper body.

    DarkKnightmon stared down the muzzle of the cannon. He saw bright, azure energy beginning to accumulate within the cannon’s mouth. He grimaced and looked past the weapon, up at Omegamon.

    “Well, old friend...” he said somberly, with the air of defeat heavy in his voice.

    Omegamon glared at him silently, still gathering energy within his cannon.

    DarkKnightmon laid his head back. “Do it, Omegamon...” he softly said, gazing up into Omegamon’s eyes. “You’ve won.”

    The white knight stalled, although power continued to grow in the Garuru Cannon’s muzzle.

    DarkKnightmon continued staring at him. “Do it...” he urged him.

    The white knight’s hard gaze faltered. He stared down at his friend and knew that he couldn’t fire. He grimaced and the energy in the cannon subsided.

    A victorious glint shone in DarkKnightmon’s eyes.

    He drove his knee into Omegamon’s groin, eliciting a sharp yell from the Digimon. Omegamon stood up on reflex, which gave DarkKnightmon more room to manoeuvre. He tucked his leg into his chest and then propelled a painful kick into Omegamon’s stomach, lifting the knight off his feet for a moment. DarkKnightmon then lashed out his other leg to sweep kick Omegamon’s legs.

    Omegamon grunted as he felt his legs be kicked out. He crashed to the floor, landing on his back. At the same time, DarkKnightmon swiftly scrambled to grab the Twin Spear from nearby. Once he felt the hilt of the Twin Spear back in its rightful place in his hand, he raced towards Omegamon.

    The white knight watched as DarkKnightmon approached and he quickly raised his Garuru Cannon to defend himself, aiming to fire at DarkKnightmon. He narrowed his eyes; this time he wouldn’t falter. Energy gathered in his cannon, but DarkKnightmon was too quick.

    DarkKnightmon stuck the Twin Spear right into the muzzle of the Garuru Cannon, fighting against the power that was building up there. The dark knight’s eyes flashed and he suddenly unleashed a massive blast of dark power from the Twin Spear. The shadowy blast ripped through the Garuru Cannon, fracturing the cannon and engulfing Omegamon’s arm with tearing, black power. Omegamon shouted in agony as the energy enveloped his arm.

    DarkKnightmon withdrew the Twin Spear, the lance crackling with shadows and vestiges of icy energy. He calmly spun the Twin Spear around and thrust the opposite end downwards onto Omegamon. The sharp tip dug into Omegamon’s breast plate, embedding in the thick armour and hooking him as DarkKnightmon suddenly brought the spear upwards. With a heave, DarkKnightmon used the spear to raise Omegamon off of the floor, dragging him so that his feet no longer touched the shattered marble. He raised Omegamon high over his head, so that he was stuck on the end of his spear. As soon as Omegamon was immediately above him, a massive beam surged from the end of the Twin Spear, engulfing Omegamon in a pillar of shadows.

    The darkness exploded on contact with Omegamon, fracturing his armour and tearing a yell of pain from his throat. DarkKnightmon then whipped his spear to the side, throwing Omegamon off of the tip. He fired another dark blast from the spear, which slammed into Omegamon and sent him crashing into the wall. The already fractured wall started to collapse around Omegamon and he fell to the floor with a clatter, becoming partially buried by the crumbling wall.

    -

    Continued next post...
     
  17. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Continued from the previous post... Hopefully this is the last of these for awhile.

    -

    When DarkKnightmon was sure that Omegamon wasn’t getting back up any time soon, he sighed and turned to face his next opponent. When he looked, his eyes widened; Alphamon was in front of him with a furious stare, his sword raised.

    Alphamon slashed the Seiken Gradalpha down on DarkKnightmon, who was only just barely able to raise his spear to block the savage swipe.

    “DarkKnightmon! You honourless traitor!” Alphamon growled, his sword crackling with tendrils of light as he pushed against DarkKnightmon’s lance.

    You made me sink to these depths,” DarkKnightmon said calmly, but with no less intensity hidden beneath his words. “It’s the only way I can safeguard this world.”

    “Pure selfishness and rationalizations!” Alphamon retorted, retracting his sword and raising his palm, which radiated green power intensely. “Digitalize of Soul!”

    An emerald beam pulsed out and slammed into DarkKnightmon’s body. Some of the blast hit his exposed skin at his hip where a large chunk of armour was missing, sending pain shooting up his chest. He flew back from the blast but stabbed the back end of his spear into the ground behind him, halting him. At the same time, the front end of the spear was aimed at Alphamon, and he levelled a beam with Alphamon’s body.

    Alphamon’s crimson eyes narrowed at the oncoming beam and he pulled the Seiken Gradalpha back behind his head with both hands, winding the sword up before slashing straight down mightily. The holy sword swept through the black and purple beam, parting it down the middle.

    As soon as the shadows began to dissipate, DarkKnightmon’s Twin Spear suddenly soared through the shadows, thrown by its owner. Like a javelin, the spear flew at Alphamon and collided with his undefended upper chest. He let out a cry of shock as he staggered back.

    Already, DarkKnightmon was upon him, driving his axe into Alphamon’s armoured body, sending him crashing to the ground. DarkKnightmon quickly picked up his spear and lunged at Alphamon, swinging his giant weapon down on him.

    Alphamon grimaced and rolled out of the way as the metal collided with the ground, puncturing the floor. Immediately after the collision, the tip of the spear exploded with power, blasting Alphamon to the side. The Lord of the Empty Seat slid along the ground but fired a Digitalize of Soul blast as he did. The beam cut across DarkKnightmon’s leg, almost causing it to buckle.

    DarkKnightmon hissed with pain but managed to remain standing. He was already in so much pain from the fall and from the previous fights, but he refused to give in. He refused to lose when he was so close.

    “You’re the selfish one, Alphamon!” he shouted across to him. “You’re too concerned about making a stir that you’re afraid to give the Digimon of the Digital World what they need.”

    “I refuse to impose my own will and desires on the Digimon on this land!” Alphamon responded, struggling to his feet. He gripped the Seiken Gradalpha tighter. “You just want to control everybody!”

    “You can’t comprehend me at all,” DarkKnightmon told him emotionlessly. “That’s part of the reason why this coup d’état is necessary.”

    “You won’t be successful,” Alphamon exclaimed, leering at him. “I’m going to defeat you, DarkKnightmon.”

    “Wrong again,” DarkKnightmon answered.

    The two said nothing more. They charged towards each other with determination and resistance.

    The former friends met. Alphamon slashed his sword of light down on DarkKnightmon. The fallen knight pivoted out of the way, causing the Seiken Gradalpha to slam into the floor and send an explosive fissure through the stone for several meters.

    DarkKnightmon swung the Twin Spear in his hand, slamming one edge across Alphamon’s face. He continued spinning the spear, aiming the other end for Alphamon’s chest. The Lord of the Empty Seat used his wings to fly into the air, dodging the blow. As he ascended, he slammed his boot into DarkKnightmon’s face to pay him back. The treacherous knight scowled at the blow and continued spinning his spear, creating a cyclone of shadows around himself.

    “Treason Vortex!” he called out, creating a dark, abyssal maelstrom that engulfed Alphamon.

    Alphamon felt himself being buffeted and beaten by the shadows around him, tossing him around the umbrous tornado. He snarled and swung his holy sword strongly, dragging the blade of light down the shadowy vortex. Despite his pain, Alphamon extinguished the attack, hacking through it with several precise strokes.

    “Digitalize of Soul!” he shouted, firing a strong emerald beam from his palm that slammed into DarkKnightmon’s chest. Alphamon descended on DarkKnightmon, swiping his weapon down on him with a low, whirring sound.

    Although his chest armour smoked, DarkKnightmon darted to the side to avoid the slash. He drove the side of his Twin Spear into Alphamon’s face. The metal crashed against Alphamon’s face mask and caused his head to jerk backwards. DarkKnightmon whipped the spear around again and then thrust the lance forwards, stabbing into Alphamon’s wing, where the golden feathers protrude from. Alphamon let out a roar of pain and drove his palm into DarkKnightmon’s face, releasing a small blast of emerald energy upon contact.

    DarkKnightmon snarled and clutched his face with a hand, pained and blinded for a few seconds. He wildly slashed his spear, dragging the point down Alphamon’s chest armour and blasting him with a powerful discharge of shadows. The beam slammed into Alphamon’s armour and sent him crashing onto his back.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat grimaced, his form battered and wafting with smoke. He slowly started to sit up to see DarkKnightmon charging with, the treasonous knight’s eyes cold and angry.

    DarkKnightmon stabbed his spear down at Alphamon. Alphamon moved out of the way so that only his cape was pierced by the weapon. He knew that DarkKnightmon was now exposed, so he struck. He stabbed the Seiken Gradalpha up into DarkKnightmon’s left shoulder, deliberately missing his chest. A snarl of pain and agony bellowed from DarkKnightmon’s throat as the ethereal sword pierced through DarkKnightmon’s armour and impaled his shoulder.

    DarkKnightmon looked down at Alphamon, his eyes glowing a fearsome red hue. The knight raised his foot and began slamming his boot down on Alphamon’s face repeatedly. As he stomped on Alphamon, DarkKnightmon stabbed the Twin Spear into Alphamon’s arm.

    In utter pain, Alphamon released the Seiken Gradalpha, causing it to evaporate in a flash of light. Released from the sword’s hold, DarkKnightmon withdrew his lance and spun it over his head, one-handed.

    “Treason Vortex!” DarkKnightmon called. He pressed hit foot down on Alphamon’s neck, holding the Royal Knight in place as the dark maelstrom consumed them.

    Pain flooded through Alphamon’s body as the dark power burned at his form, fractured his armour, and crushed him with its pressure. Pieces of the great hall’s ceiling began to crash to the ground and shatter.

    When the vortex subsided, DarkKnightmon aimed the Twin Spear down at Alphamon’s body. With zero range between them, he released a massive beam that blasted Alphamon further into the ground.

    Alphamon groaned and was hardly able to resist as DarkKnightmon picked him up by the collar. DarkKnightmon looked Alphamon in the eyes. He pressed the Twin Spear against Alphamon’s chest and fired a final beam against his body. Alphamon tried to fire two Digitalize of Soul blasts from his hands, but he wasn’t able to launch them until it was too late, causing them to miss DarkKnightmon and rip up the floor on both sides of the dark knight. The Lord of the Empty Seat was thrown through the air by the vicious blast and he crashed to the ground at the base of what was left of the shattered stone table that they used to use.

    This time, Alphamon didn’t get back up.

    He lay on the ground, trying to move, but his muscles protested and refused to comply.

    DarkKnightmon stalled for a few seconds, making sure that what he was seeing was the truth. When those moments passed, DarkKnightmon started to slowly move towards Alphamon. His whole body burned with pain. His left arm trembled from when it had been stabbed, and blood trickled out from the wound on his hips. He felt like one of his ribs may have been broken, and there wasn’t one part of his body that wasn’t bruised.

    However... he won and he knew it.

    Alphamon watched as DarkKnightmon stalked towards him. He seemed barely able to carry himself now that the adrenaline was wearing off.

    DarkKnightmon loomed over Alphamon’s defeated form. He looked Alphamon over carefully. Alphamon merely grimaced and looked up at him.

    Suddenly, DarkKnightmon began to laugh. His eyes gleamed as he chuckled darkly at the situation.

    “I did it... I defeated the Royal Knights on my own...” he proclaimed, calmly laughing to himself. “I didn’t need the mercenaries after all.”

    “D...DarkKnightmon...” Alphamon weakly said between haggard breaths.

    DarkKnightmon looked down at Alphamon with a small smirk behind his scuffed mask. “Don’t you see, Alphamon...? Look at what Digimon can accomplish when they let go of their petty qualms and inhibitions...” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon placed his foot on Alphamon’s chest, pressing down. Alphamon grimaced and gave a grunt of protest, futilely trying to push back.

    “Now all that’s left is to deal with your friend OuRyuumon, but that won’t be a problem,” DarkKnightmon told him calmly, despite the pain that he felt. “You can rest assured, Alphamon. I still have compassion. I won’t kill you and the other knights; you’ll just have to be placed in the dungeons.”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes defiantly. However, something suddenly shone in the corner of his vision.

    “I... wouldn’t be so sure...” a voice boldly said. “Final Elysion!”

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes widened. He turned towards the voice, but it was too late. A beam surged across the great hall and engulfed DarkKnightmon, throwing him off of Alphamon, who was spared the impact of the beam above him.

    The beam subsided slowly, leaving DarkKnightmon on his back several meters away from Alphamon. The Lord of the Empty Seat looked over to see Dukemon sitting in a crater, leaning against the Gram lance which was stabbed into the floor behind him, and holding the Aegis in front of his body. The shield slowly stopped glowing and he offered a faint grin.

    “I’m not going to let DarkKnightmon do what he wants with me,” he said weakly.

    “Me... neither...” Dynasmon said, He lay on his side and weakly aimed one of his large hands at DarkKnightmon.

    “F-Fools,” DarkKnightmon said, getting to a knee and using his spear to hold himself up.

    “Dragon’s Roar,” Dynasmon spoke, firing a single blast of light towards the knight.

    DarkKnightmon dug deep and swiftly stood to his feet. He raised his spear upwards and slashed it down, but the beam broke through his defenses and exploded against his chest. He let out a brief shout of pain and frustration as the explosion quaked through his armour.

    Another bloodied and beaten Royal Knight began to protest as well. Magnamon glared and propped himself up on his left forearm, pressing his other hand against the ground to elevate himself further.

    “Plasma Shoot!” he called out. Four missiles launched from Magnamon’s shoulder armour and steamed through the air towards DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon, who was still trying to recover from Dynasmon’s debilitating attack, had no time to defend himself or escape. The four missiles converged on him and exploded in a large explosion that rocked the weakened foundations of the castle, causing more stone to collapse.

    Omegamon knocked pieces of rubble off of his body and weakly raised his fractured Garuru Cannon, taking aim at DarkKnightmon. “I’m sorry, DarkKnightmon,” he thought to himself. “Garuru Cannon!”

    Omegamon fired a powerful blast from the Garuru Cannon, which shattered around his arm as soon as the blast left the muzzle. The orb sailed into the remnants of the explosion and collided with DarkKnightmon’s chest, creating another explosion.

    DarkKnightmon shouted out and was sent flying through the air, crashing into the base of the dilapidated wall.

    Alphamon grimaced and rolled onto his stomach. His tattered cape hung over his side as he slowly got to his hands and knees, forcing his muscles to obey him. After several difficult seconds of struggle, Alphamon finally stood up. He looked over his shoulder and gave his fellow Royal Knights an appreciative gaze, before turning to DarkKnightmon.

    He walked towards DarkKnightmon, summoning the Seiken Gradalpha in his hand once again.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced and slowly tried to raise himself to his feet. He and Alphamon were both as damaged as one another. With resistance and defiance, DarkKnightmon stood to his feet, his whole body trembling. His pupil-less yellow eyes narrowed and glared at Alphamon. He wouldn’t be defeated... Not when he was so close. He wouldn’t let Alphamon take this victory from him.

    He gripped the Twin Spear and weakly raised it.

    Alphamon charged DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon stabbed the spear towards Alphamon.

    Alphamon swerved out of the way of the Twin Spear, which grazed his side in a flurry of sparks. The Lord of the Empty Seat pressed his hand on the Twin Spear and blasted it away with a Digitalize of Soul blast. The spear went spinning out of DarkKnightmon’s grip. Alphamon unleashed a strained yell as he slashed the Seiken Gradalpha diagonally down DarkKnightmon’s body, tearing through his armour and burning his chest with holy light.

    The sword left DarkKnightmon’s armour and he lurched forwards, falling to his knees. The light in his yellow eyes began to dull and he fell to his side with a crash. The knight fell into unconsciousness.

    Panting with exhaustion, Alphamon withdrew his sword and held it out to the side. He looked down at DarkKnightmon’s unconscious body and his anger and battle-adrenaline began to fade.

    “Is everybody okay?” he called out.

    Dukemon groaned. “I think I’ll live,” he answered, trying to stand to his feet.

    “Me too...” Magnamon said, painfully getting to his hands and knees.

    Omegamon and Dynasmon both nodded and tried to move as well.

    “OuRyuumon?” Alphamon said, remembering that he had been fighting Captain MirageGaogamon. He grew concerned for his friend. In their states, they wouldn’t be able to be much help against the treasonous captain. Moreover, the sounds of fighting coming from the other end of the great hall had stopped.

    “Fine,” a voice rasped.

    The Royal Knights turned to see OuRyuumon walking down the expansive, ruined hall towards them. There were bloody cuts and burns all over his body, and his armour was scratched and fractured in several places. His eyes were bloodshot and wide with rage, and his hair was frazzled and burnt in some places. However, his tail was wrapped tightly around the neck and shoulders of the unconscious body of MirageGaogamon, who he dragged behind him. Behind him, the front wall of the great hall that lead to the foyer was completely gone, and much of the foyer was destroyed by the fighting.

    Alphamon sighed with relief. He seemed like he was okay.

    “I can’t believe they would do this...” Magnamon said, looking at MirageGaogamon and DarkKnightmon.

    “Me neither...” Dynasmon muttered grimly.

    “I can,” OuRyuumon spat, releasing his tail’s grip around MirageGaogamon dropping him near the Royal Knights. He clutched one of the deeper cuts on his arm, glared and looked over at the unconscious knight. “DarkKnightmon anyways... I didn’t know MirageGaogamon was plotting with him.”

    “Do you think there’s anybody else?” Omegamon asked.

    Alphamon shrugged. “They might have approached others, like DarkKnightmon approached most of you, but these two were the only ones that showed up. Still... we’ll need to be cautious...” he told them.

    “I don’t get it,” Dynasmon said, grimacing as he clutched his side with pain. “OuRyuumon said that DarkKnightmon fell off a building, but then he comes in here and starts attacking us? That doesn’t make sense.” He looked over at OuRyuumon.

    OuRyuumon felt his insides churn. He began to wonder if DarkKnightmon would tell them what OuRyuumon had done to him when he woke up. Even if Alphamon was his best friend, he doubted he’d be able to look past an attempted murder, even if it was justified in OuRyuumon’s opinion. His bloodshot, violet eyes shot to the rubble-covered floor as he tried to think of an excuse.

    “Maybe the fall rattled his brain,” Dukemon said with a shrug. “Pain can make you do funny things. Still... MirageGaogamon never would have just followed him if they hadn’t already been planning it. I dunno... It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?”

    “More importantly, what do we do with him now?” Magnamon asked, frowning and looking over at DarkKnightmon. “And MirageGaogamon too...”

    OuRyuumon limped over to Alphamon’s side. He looked at him and then down at DarkKnightmon. “You should delete him,” OuRyuumon told him with a slight grimace. His instincts for self-preservation were in full swing. If DarkKnightmon told them what happened, he was convinced that it would be curtains for him as well. He knew DarkKnightmon would use that as his final blow to the Royal Knights. He might even try to use it as a defence for his actions. Though even if that weren’t the case, he still felt bitter at him for betraying them.

    “OuRyuumon!” Dukemon scolded, although it sent a blast of pain through his body to shout, making him cringe. “I’m... furious at him too, but we can’t just kill him... Until now, he’s been a friend to us.”

    “Trying to wipe you all out? Conspiring against Alphamon? Yeah. He’s been a ****ing great friend,” OuRyuumon retorted.

    “Still. That’s kind of extreme, don’t you think?” Dynasmon said.

    Magnamon placed his palm on a bleeding cut on his arm. “I have to agree...”

    Omegamon nodded as well. He looked over at Alphamon, who was staring at DarkKnightmon as he contemplated their words.

    Grimacing, Alphamon gazed down at his hand to contemplate his sword.

    “Do you?” OuRyuumon insisted, narrowing his eyes at them. “I don’t. If we let him live, he’s just going to conspire with more Digimon and start another coup. He can’t be trusted. He’ll probably say or do anything to get his way. Right, Alphamon?”

    Alphamon didn’t reply. He continued to look at the Seiken Gradalpha in thought.

    “That may be...” Omegamon said. “But there has to be another way.”

    “In some places, treason is an executable offence,” OuRyuumon suggested, although he felt somewhat uncomfortable saying so.

    “We have higher standards here,” Dukemon spoke. “Besides, we can’t kill someone who’s unconscious...”

    “Between his fall and the fight here, he’s probably on the brink of death,” OuRyuumon said, beginning to grasp at straws. “It’d probably be a mercy...”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes fiercely. His sword hovered over DarkKnightmon’s body, his hand trembling...

    “No,” he spoke resolutely. He vanquished the Seiken Gradalpha in a wisp of light. “Who’s the most able to move?”

    “Maybe me...” Dukemon said, although he seemed to have trouble staying on his feet, evidence by the fact that he was using the Gram as a crutch.

    Alphamon began. “Can you find--“

    “No need,” Dukemon interrupted, looking down the destroyed hall at the desolate foyer and pointing weakly.

    The other knights turned to see Zero ARMS: Grani flying in, followed by several Knightmon, a Gladimon, a Gigadramon, and a Tyrannomon.

    Grani sped forwards, stopping in front of the Royal Knights. His eyes widened when he saw Dukemon’s battle-wounded body. “Dukemon!” he exclaimed. “Everyone! What happened here?” he asked with urgency in his normally calm voice.

    “DarkKnightmon happened,” Dynasmon explained, grimacing and pointing over to the dark knight.

    “What...?” Grani asked.

    “He and MirageGaogamon attacked us, trying to take over the Order,” Dukemon said.

    Grani was at a loss for words.

    Alphamon turned to Grani and the Digimon with him. “Restrain DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon and bring them to Duskmon for medical treatment. When they’re treated, lock them in the dungeons,” he commanded.

    “Alphamon...” OuRyuumon pleaded, grimacing. “Think about this...”

    “I have, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon replied firmly. “And I’ve made my decision...”

    OuRyuumon looked away in defeat. He knew that he wasn’t able to convince Alphamon otherwise. He half-wondered if maybe he could convince Alphamon to gag DarkKnightmon so at least he wouldn’t be able to tell Alphamon what had happened on the tower.

    Alphamon looked over DarkKnightmon’s unconscious body, a sad expression growing on his face. He sighed and turned to the Zero ARMS with a serious, commanding gaze.

    “And Grani...” he told him. “Locate Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.”

    -

    A few days had passed since that fateful day. The first level of the castle headquarters was horribly damaged. They were still in the process of cleaning everything up. Large parts of the higher levels had to be removed so that they didn’t end up collapsing. A complete overhaul of much of the main building was required for the eventual repairs.

    In addition, the Order’s morale had taken a huge hit. The fact that one of the Royal Knights and the Captain of the Defence Forces had betrayed Alphamon caused a lot of gossip among the Digimon about what might have happened. They both had been well-respected Digimon, so many of the members or the Order were upset by the revelation. The talk only increased when Imperialdramon Paladin Mode returned after a very lengthy absence.

    The Royal Knights stood outside of the castle walls, in a large, green field. The warm, midday sun loomed over the group.

    Alphamon, Omegamon, Dukemon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon all stood side-by-side. They were clad in their armour, but, under that armour, they still sported bandages and splints over their wounds and injuries. Lingering behind the five were Grani and OuRyuumon. OuRyuumon was hunched somewhat, as if ducking behind Dynasmon and Alphamon’s large bodies.

    Standing in front of them was DarkKnightmon. His Twin Spear and his shoulder-mounted axe had both been confiscated for safety purposes. His arms were placed in front of him, his wrists bound together by sturdy chains. He stood up straight in a way that retained his honour as a knight, despite the fact that he had officially been dismissed from their ranks. His accomplice, MirageGaogamon, had been transferred to the Royal Knights’ high-security jail: Havelock Prison. It was located away from their headquarters, but within their territory.

    On DarkKnightmon’s other side, opposite to the Royal Knights, stood Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. The founder of the Order, clad in his white armour and donning his massive sword, the Omega Blade, looked at DarkKnightmon with a disappointed look on his face.

    “DarkKnightmon...” he spoke to him, not with malice or anger, but almost as a friend. “Why did you do this?”

    DarkKnightmon turned his head, looking over at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “If I have to repeat myself... it was for the Order that you created, Imperialdramon,” he explained calmly.

    “What you did... you went against your oath,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said to him, frowning. “Royal Knights are supposed to look out for one another...”

    DarkKnightmon looked over at the Royal Knights. He slowly scanned their ranks, examining their faces, as well as trying to spot OuRyuumon behind them. “I thought that as well,” he dryly answered.

    Imperialdramon sighed, raising his free hand and rubbing his face. “DarkKnightmon... It pains me to have to do this... – you have no idea how much... – but I must confine you to the Dark Area. We can’t let you roam free and you can’t be trusted to be safely held in one of our prisons. That said, we value our past bonds with you too much to delete you.”

    “So, instead you’re relegating me to that dark prison along with those despicable Digimon that I helped to put away?” DarkKnightmon sarcastically asked. “Touching...”

    “I’m sorry, but it is the only safe option,” Imperialdramon told him. “You’re very strong and smart. You’ll be able to handle yourself in that plane.”

    “Besides, you have nobody to blame but yourself for this,” Dukemon told him harshly, folding his arms.

    DarkKnightmon turned to the Royal Knights. His eyes stopped on Alphamon as he tried to seek OuRyuumon out. “Is that so...?”

    Alphamon looked down at the ground, finding it hard to hide his feelings of guilt. He wondered if he made more allowances or tried to see DarkKnightmon’s point of view more, then this would have been avoided.

    OuRyuumon, who was standing behind Alphamon, grimaced at DarkKnightmon’s words. For the past few days, DarkKnightmon hadn’t said anything to the Royal Knights about being defenestrated by him. While he was in the dungeon, he had ample opportunity to tell them when he was being questioned about what he did. OuRyuumon wondered if he was keeping quiet to torment him for as long as possible. It was working. He had been on edge ever since.

    “OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon suddenly spoke.

    OuRyuumon’s heart dropped and began to start pumping furiously.

    “Why are you hiding?” he asked him coolly. “Is it that hard for you to watch me being sent away?”

    Some of the Royal Knights glanced over their shoulders at him. OuRyuumon tensed up and slinked over to stand beside Magnamon to prove that he wasn’t afraid to see him. He suddenly felt very vulnerable, standing beside the much shorter Digimon. “No...” he muttered. As he looked at DarkKnightmon, he swiftly tried to get his story straight in his head, in case DarkKnightmon spoke out against him. He knew that DarkKnightmon only had a few minutes to inflict retribution on him, so he was prepared for an imminent accusation.

    DarkKnightmon looked at him with a miniscule smile. His gold, enigmatic eyes lingered on OuRyuumon for a few moments before turning to address the Royal Knights. He turned and looked at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “Can we get this over with? I dislike goodbyes.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode frowned and walked around to DarkKnightmon’s front. “I wish you wouldn’t be flippant. This isn’t easy to do, you know...”

    “I know,” DarkKnightmon replied. He looked at the founder of the Royal Knights. “So... how long should I expect to stay in there? A few years? Until my data corrodes?”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode frowned grimly. “Undetermined...” he told him, apologetic that he couldn’t give him a certain answer. “I’m going to undo the shackles now. Please don’t try anything; I have a sword.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded and watched as Imperialdramon undid the chain shackles on his hands. Once free, he retracted his hands and rolled his stiffed wrists. “Now I can enjoy these last moments of freedom.”

    “On that note... Are there any last things that you’d like to say or have us do?” Imperialdramon asked him

    DarkKnightmon turned to the Royal Knights once again, his eyes ultimately landing on OuRyuumon.

    OuRyuumon’s muscles clenched. Behind his back, he balled his clawed fists up in anticipation. His breaths became a bit more rigorous as he awaited DarkKnightmon’s response.

    The shadowy knight stalled. “No...” he finally said with a calm, confident voice. “All of that can wait for the day that I finally come out.”

    He looked over at Alphamon, gazing into his eyes. “Only... I wish you the best of luck with the Order, Alphamon,” he told him. “I fear you’ll need it.”

    “Thank you, DarkKnightmon...” Alphamon answered quietly.

    “Good luck, DarkKnightmon,” Magnamon spoke up, frowning, a bit sadly.

    “Yeah,” Dukemon and Dynasmon added in one form or another.

    As OuRyuumon looked away, releasing his bated breath through his nostrils through a long, soft, relieved sigh, Omegamon gazed at DarkKnightmon with a regretful frown.

    DarkKnightmon turned to Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “You had better get on with it before they change their minds,” he dryly told him.

    Imperialdramon gave him a small, sad smile and turned his back to him, clutching the Omega Blade and spreading out his broad, white, wings.

    “Initialize!” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode exclaimed.

    He held the blade over his head and then stabbed its point into the ground. The blade drove deep into the ground and a massive fissure, gleaming with light, ripped through the earth. Before him, the ground opened up. The edges of the chasm glowed white, but on the inside, deep within the depths, it was jet black.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode grunted and clutched the Omega Blade with both hands, the sword trembling and revolting as the dragon struggled to keep it in place. This was because the secure walls to the spatial distortion, located deep below the Digital World, somewhat on the same plane as the world, were trying to seal the barrier again, to both keep things in and keep things out.

    Send my regards to Anubimon,” OuRyuumon thought to himself, not willing to speak out and risk angering DarkKnightmon enough to make him change his mind about their secret.

    “A-Alphamon...” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode spoke.

    Alphamon nodded and walked over to DarkKnightmon. He placed his hand on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder and gently led him towards the giant fissure. “I hope you’ll be alright, DarkKnightmon,” he murmured to him.

    “Perhaps I’ll be able to make my ordered society down there,” he told Alphamon ironically.

    Alphamon’s gaze softened and he let go of DarkKnightmon’s shoulder as they approached the fissure. “Goodbye, DarkKnightmon...”

    DarkKnightmon looked at him calmly. “Farewell... We will meet again,” he assured him. For a split second, his gaze hardened and his facial features grew dark and cold. “I promise.”

    With those words, he broke away from Alphamon and walked into the fissure. As soon as his foot passed the thin threshold of light that Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s sword created, his whole body immediately vanished within the darkness.

    Upon seeing DarkKnightmon disappear, Imperialdramon waited a few more seconds before wrenching the Omega Blade from the ground. When the blade left the earth, the fissure closed in on itself, automatically sealing up with a mighty crash. The sides closed in and the fracture disappeared, leaving the grassy field as immaculate as it was before.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode panted and brought the sword up to rest it on his shoulder. He took a few more strong breaths before stopping. Quietly, he turned to the Royal Knights, OuRyuumon and Grani.

    They stood in grim silence. Nobody knew what to say.

    DarkKnightmon was gone...
     
  18. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Author's Notes: This is a mini-chapter/interlude. Basically, these few scenes didn't fit either at the end of Chapter 15 or at the beginning of Chapter 16, so I decided to post them like this. Also this marks the halfway point of the story.)

    Interlude​


    The Royal Knights adjourned their meeting in the council hall. It had been a long, tense, and somewhat earnest discussion. The topic had been DarkKnightmon.

    The founding Royal Knights explained to the others what had happened in their opinions. They talked about DarkKnightmon’s ambition, his conspiring, his challenge to Alphamon for leadership, and his sudden attack awhile later.

    As the Royal Knights walked into the great hall, they began to go their separate ways. A few Royal Knights walked along side Dukemon.

    “So, that is everything?” Duftmon asked, looking over at Dukemon.

    “Pretty much,” the crimson knight responded.

    “I don’t understand why he attacked out of nowhere with just himself and MirageGaogamon,” UlforceVeedramon remarked, frowning. “I thought you said he was smart.”

    “He is,” Dukemon said, “He did almost beat us...”

    “Yeah, but I doubt he could have known that going into it, from the way that you guys told us. Two against six? Those aren’t very good odds,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    “You do have a point...” Examon mused, walking behind them.

    Dukemon shrugged. “If we could read DarkKnightmon’s mind, none of that would have happened. All we can do is guess. I think that fall might have had something to do with it,” he suggested.

    “If he fell from one of the towers, then that’s even less reason to go attack the Royal Knights,” UlforceVeedramon said with a grin.

    OuRyuumon overheard their topic of conversation and tensed up. He quickly walked over to them, pushing through Examon’s wing and striding beside them. “He probably wasn’t thinking straight,” he told them with a frown. “Anyways, there’s no point thinking about ‘why’ now. It happened. What we have to do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

    Dukemon looked over at OuRyuumon.”Yeah... I guess so.”

    “Why keep that incident a secret to begin with?” Duftmon questioned. “It’s important that everything is recorded to expand our database of knowledge, as well as for the posterity of history.”

    “It’s our ghost in the closet,” Dukemon replied. “It’s kind of shameful having one of the founding Royal Knights rebel against the Order. Besides, it upsets everyone to talk about. It was easier to just pretend that it never happened.”

    “The guy’s name was DarkKnightmon; I don’t know what Imperialdramon Paladin Mode expected,” UlforceVeedramon said with a chuckle. Dukemon shot him a stern glare and UlforceVeedramon slowly stopped, growing sheepish.

    “He was a decent guy once...” Dukemon said, frowning. “I dunno what changed.”

    “I never trusted him,” OuRyuumon remarked in a self-congratulatory way.

    Dukemon glanced over at him as they made it to the far end of the great hall. “Hey, that’s great, OuRyuumon!” he sarcastically said. “It’s too bad you didn’t do anything about it before he attacked us.”

    OuRyuumon hastily opened his mouth to retort but he quickly shut it again. He grimaced and looked away, unable to reveal the truth of the matter. “Yeah... too bad...” he muttered.

    “Do you suspect that he’ll try to take over the Order again?” Duftmon asked. “Or is he simply happy to be free?”

    “I don’t know,” Dukemon admitted. “He’s pretty strong-willed. Then again... I can’t be sure. Maybe he’ll settle for a quiet life far away from here, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking...”

    “He’s going to be a pain in our asses for as long as physically possible,” OuRyuumon declared with an irate grunt. “Grani and the scouts better find him quick. Who knows what that guy is getting up to right now?”

    “It’s better not to speculate,” Examon said.

    “I’ll speculate all I want,” OuRyuumon challenged, sneering at him.

    “You’ll just make yourself agitated,” Examon answered, rolling his eyes at the dragon’s hostility.

    “Why don’t you worry about yourself and I’ll worry about myself, Exadork?” the gold dragon told the red one.

    “Fine...” Examon submitted diplomatically, looking over at Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon with a shrug.

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled. “You’ll never get a girlfriend that way, OuRyuumon,” he teased.

    OuRyuumon just growled and broke away from them, speeding up his pace down to the end of the great hall.

    “Is he in one of his moods?” Duftmon asked.

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon both laughed. “He must be if Duftmon’s picking up on it,” UlforceVeedramon declared.

    Duftmon gave them an annoyed, sideways glance and continued walking.

    “Oh, by the way, it’s Dynasmon’s induction anniversary in a week, and he’s dropping pretty big hints about things that he wants,” Dukemon remarked.

    “If it’s those dirty novels that he wants, he can forget it,” Duftmon scoffed.

    “I don’t understand,” Examon said, thinking to himself. “I thought he was one of the founding knights, but Magnamon’s induction anniversary was a few weeks ago, and yours was a few weeks before that, Dukemon. Didn’t you all become Royal Knights at the same time?”

    “Technically, yeah, we did, but when we first made our oaths it was kind of informal. That’s different from the actual ceremony, where Imperialdramon Paladin Mode knighted us with his sword and all that other stuff. You know how the ceremony goes; Alphamon gave you yours a few months ago,” Dukemon explained. “So we each technically became Royal Knights at the same time, but we each had our own individual ceremonies a couple weeks apart from one another.”

    “Do we have to get DarkKnightmon anything for his induction anniversary?” UlforceVeedramon joked.

    “Maybe a solid punch in the face,” Dukemon said, cracking his knuckles. “It’s about two weeks after Dynasmon’s…”

    “Do you think he’ll try anything on that day?” Examon asked.

    “It’s hard to say,” Dukemon answered, frowning. “I’ve never known DarkKnightmon to be sentimental, but then again, he’s pretty good at psychological warfare and mind games. He might to screw with us.”

    “I’m hoping we’ll be able to neutralize him by that point,” Duftmon said.

    “Yeah, well, don’t underestimate him, Duftmon,” the crimson knight told their strategist. “He was one of the smartest in the Order back before he betrayed us.”

    “Oh? Well I am the smartest in the Order,” Duftmon boldly explained. “He can’t be all that clever, attacking you five immediately after being defenestrated.”

    By this point, the group of four had caught up to OuRyuumon, thanks to his short walking stride. OuRyuumon grunted, annoyed that the conversation kept going back to those events. He decided that he needed to stick around before they started speculating again. “Can we stop talking about that b*stard? It’s like he’s all we talk about anymore. Let’s go play darts or spar or something.”

    “Yeah, he’s got a point. Let’s try to unwind a bit,” UlforceVeedramon agreed. “Worrying is useless.”

    Dukemon shrugged. “I guess so… Darts tournament anyone?” he suggested.

    “I’m in,” OuRyuumon piped up, quick to change the topic from DarkKnightmon.

    “Sure,” Examon concurred.

    “I don’t mind winning again,” Ulforce remarked with a smirk.

    Duftmon rolled his eyes. “I think I will pass. I have more productive things to do, such as reading.”

    Dukemon smirked. “Okay, Duftmon. Your loss,” he told him.

    “I’m sure I’ll manage,” Duftmon spoke, heading towards one of the corridors branching away from the foyer.

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled as they began to head left, to one of the stone staircases. “Yeah. Manage to be an antisocial bookworm…”

    “Wouldn’t that be bookpussycat?” OuRyuumon corrected, grinning.

    “Something like that,” said UlforceVeedramon breezily. “The point is, he needs to get a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. You know, whatever it is that he’s into.”

    OuRyuumon tensed up again, once again feeling uncomfortable with the topic at hand. He supposed it was at least better than DarkKnightmon.

    Dukemon laughed. “The trouble is, I think ‘whatever he’s into’ happens to be books.”

    -

    A lupine figure sat on his cot in a small, confined room. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made of meters of cold, sturdy stone. There wasn’t much else in the room aside from a basic wooden chair, a desk, a sink, and a toilet. There was only one window, and it was covered with sturdy, metal bars. On the opposite side of the room were more bars, made from a durable metal that was only surpassed in durability by chrome digizoid.

    MirageGaogamon knew this cell inside and out. Well... perhaps not so much the ‘out’ part, as he had been confined inside for the past several years. His weapons had long since been confiscated and his powers neutralized by a special program installed in him. His armour had also been confiscated, so he wore simple, dirty clothes. He held a book in his hands, his thumb flicking through the pages from one end to the other as he waited for a familiar sound.

    The Digimon’s canine ears perked up suddenly upon hearing the rhythmic clanging of metal coming from down the hall. He stood to his feet and walked to the bars that separated his cell from the hallway. He heard a voice and that of several other prisoners addressing the Digimon as he passed their cells and grew nearer to MirageGaogamon’s.

    The metal boots of a Rapidmon tapped against the stone floor with every step. MirageGaogamon saw the bipedal rabbit Digimon approaching his cell on his hourly round.

    “Excuse me,” MirageGaogamon hailed to him. When the Rapidmon turned to him, he flashed his book.

    The Rapidmon guard walked over. “Yeah? What is it, MirageGaogamon?” he asked him.

    “Can I get a new book?” MirageGaogamon asked him, holding the book up. “One that I haven’t already read?”

    “If you reread it, you might find something you didn’t notice the first time,” the Rapidmon said with a slight grin.

    “Please,” MirageGaogamon said to him, passing the book through the bars.

    The Rapidmon took the book in his cannon arm. “Yeah, okay, okay,” he complied, turning around. “By the way, lunch is coming in an hour.”

    “Thank you,” MirageGaogamon replied, going to sit back down on his bed.

    He lay down and closed his eyes, waiting for the guard to return.

    MirageGaogamon was resigned to his new life now. He was once one of the Captains of the great Royal Knights, up until he rebelled with DarkKnightmon. While he felt some remorse for turning against the order, in principle, he didn’t feel like what he did had been wrong. He had only rebelled so that he could help Digimon more effectively and he maintained that that was all that he wanted to do. It had taken him some time to get over the grim fact that he wouldn’t be able to help Digimon while he was in prison, and that he was essentially being treated the same as the type of Digimon who he wanted to get rid of. The first year had been rough, but he slowly grew to adapt to life in Havelock Prison, the Royal Knights’ high-security jail. However, he still felt a certain longing inside of him...

    MirageGaogamon listened with his acute hearing to the sounds of the prison. There was shuffling and muffled noises coming from the other cells. There was the monotonous dripping of water coming from his sink. They were as normal as the sun and moons now. More prominently was the sound of the Rapidmon’s boots hitting the floor as he walked away.

    Suddenly, the sound of the guard walking stopped.

    “H-Hey!” the Rapidmon’s voice shouted out, a surprised, unsettled tone in his words. “Who are you?! You shouldn’t be in here!”

    There was a brief silence.

    “GUARD- ACK!” the Rapidmon’s voice choked out.

    The sounds of scuffling echoed through the hall followed by the loud clamour of metal. MirageGaogamon opened his eyes and stood to his feet. He walked over to the bars to try and see what the commotion was. He couldn’t see anything; it was too far down the hall. However, he could hear his fellow prisoners cheering.

    Suddenly, the Rapidmon’s body skidded down the hall and stopped near MirageGaogamon’s cell. His book flew from the guard’s unconscious body and landed at the prisoner’s feet.

    MirageGaogamon was shocked. Had one of the prisoners escaped? That was impossible. The prison was far too secure for one of the prisoners to break out. They all had neutralizing programs installed in them, and the bars and walls were sturdy enough to withstand even the toughest Digimon.

    He got right up against the bars and peered down the hallway. He saw a shadowy silhouette stride down the hallway towards him. MirageGaogamon suddenly gripped the bars tightly, his eyes widening as he recognized the Digimon.

    DarkKnightmon stepped over the Rapidmon’s unconscious body and stopped in front of MirageGaogamon’s cell. He turned to face him.

    “Hello, Captain,” DarkKnightmon said to him courteously. “It’s been too long.”

    “D...DarkKnightmon... Sir...” MirageGaogamon breathed, staring at the former-Royal Knight in disbelief. “You’re... free?”

    “Miraculously,” DarkKnightmon answered. “And with help, I admit.”

    “But how...? You were sent to the Dark Area,” MirageGaogamon said, looking him up and down, unable to believe that DarkKnightmon was there.

    “It’s a long story. I’m here to return the good deed,” the warrior said, raising the Twin Spear in his right hand, using it to steady himself as he crouched down beside the guard. He reached his hand and took an encrypted card key from inside the armour around the Rapidmon’s waist.

    “You need three of those to unlock a cell, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him. “Two other guards have the other keys.”

    DarkKnightmon smirked and reached inside his armour. He withdrew his hand and flashed three cards at MirageGaogamon. “I’m aware... I did use to be a Royal Knight, remember,” he explained as he stood back up.

    “Right...” MirageGaogamon sheepishly said, watching as DarkKnightmon approached the cell.

    DarkKnightmon swiped the three keys in a particular order and he heard the loud, victorious sound of the barred doors unlocking.

    “Hey! Us next!” one of the prisoners called to him from another cell.

    DarkKnightmon ignored him and pulled the doors open with a metal sliding sound. He walked into MirageGaogamon’s cell.

    MirageGaogamon was still somewhat dumbfounded. “How did you... get this far into the prison? All of the guards and security...” he said.

    “Like I said, I was a Royal Knight,” DarkKnightmon responded. “I have the strength to defeat most any of the guards here, and I know all of the procedures as well as the layout of the prison.”

    MirageGaogamon nodded. He looked at DarkKnightmon uncertainly. “You plan to free me, Sir?” he asked.

    “My plans are the same as they were all those years ago,” DarkKnightmon replied. “I let my emotions get the best of me after OuRyuumon threw me off that tower. But even then, I almost beat them. I was so close... Think, MirageGaogamon, what we can do if we plan carefully. The Order will be ours.”

    MirageGaogamon grimaced and looked away. “DarkKnightmon... I’m not sure,” he responded. “I’m very grateful that you went to all of this trouble for me, but... maybe they were right to lock me up. I betrayed my oath and attacked fellow members of the Order. I still agree with you, but...”

    “I understand that you’re nervous, MirageGaogamon, but things will be different from last time,” DarkKnightmon assured him.

    “There are eleven Royal Knights now. Not just five,” MirageGaogamon retorted.

    “I’m already in the process of gathering allies,” DarkKnightmon said to him. “That’s why I’m here. We will plan this operation carefully, and we won’t go into it outnumbered like last time. I’ve already contacted a few mercenary teams who are willing to help us.”

    “Sir... Maybe our defeat was a sign from Yggdrasil that what we were doing was wrong. The Royal Knights fight in His name, after all...” the fallen wolf captain said with a grimace.

    “Yggdrasil is irrelevant,” DarkKnightmon replied curtly. “As one of the founding Royal Knights, I once fought in his name, so who is to say that I’m the so-called heretic and it is not the other knights who have lost their way? If you’re inclined to think that Yggdrasil’s guiding hand is in play, you could say that Yggdrasil was testing us.”

    “I suppose...” MirageGaogamon reasoned.

    “Don’t rely on Yggdrasil, but on your own conscience, MirageGaogamon,” the knight explained to him. “You know that what we did was right. It was for the good of the Digital World. ...Didn’t you say that you lost your family to bandits? How would it feel if others lost their family in the same way and you did nothing to stop it because you had some fleeting doubts?”

    MirageGaogamon winced and looked away. “Yes... You’re right...” he responded, although somewhat uncertainly. “But are you sure that we can do this?”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “You’ve trusted in me before, haven’t you?” he asked.

    MirageGaogamon looked at him. “Yes...”

    DarkKnightmon outstretched his hand. “So, trust me, MirageGaogamon.”

    The wolf Digimon looked down at his extended hand, observing it for a moment. He frowned and took it, gripping firmly. “I do.”

    DarkKnightmon smiled and let go, gesturing for him to come out of the cell. MirageGaogamon apprehensively stepped out into the hall. DarkKnightmon followed him. “We need to go to the weapons cache in the basement for your things,” DarkKnightmon told him. “And we also have to neutralize the disabler program in you. It won’t be easy, but it’s achievable.”

    “Just tell me what to do,” MirageGaogamon told him.

    DarkKnightmon nodded and dragged the unconscious Rapidmon into MirageGaogamon’s cell. He placed him on the bed and walked out. The knight closed the barred door and locked the guard in. “Just stay behind me and use your senses to keep a look out. I took out most of the guards, but I may have missed some. There’s still the Overseer to deal with as well.”

    “Understood.”

    “Hey!” a SkullSatamon prisoner from a nearby cell shouted to them. “Aren’t you gonna let us out?!”

    DarkKnightmon let out a single, indignant laugh. “You must be joking... I helped put many of you in here,” he explained to them derisively. “As if I would let scum like you loose...”

    “Why you ugly, f*cking tin can!”

    Ignoring the sudden shift from cheers of excitement to shouts and profanity, DarkKnightmon turned to MirageGaogamon.

    “Let’s go. You’ll be fighting fit in no time at all.”
     
  19. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 16: A Crack in the Armour​


    The morning sky seemed peaceful. It was blue with large clouds interspersed within the light sapphire expanse. The sun shone brightly, its warm rays feeding the plants, flowers and grass of the Digital World in the beautiful spring time. However, not all was as good as the weather made it seem.

    Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon tore through the sunny sky. The Lord of the Empty Seat lead the group, his wings expanded out behind him. OuRyuumon and Omegamon flew slightly behind him on each side. They flew south, past where the Free Area ended. As they travelled, the grass became sand and the air became dryer. The Claw Desert was home to the Mesozoic Kingdom, a kingdom of dinosaur and prehistoric Digimon that had a giant Spinomon as their king.

    OuRyuumon soared using his Gaiba Daimeijin wings and looked down at the rolling, golden sands of the desert. He turned to look at Alphamon, the winds of their flying speed causing his violet hair to flutter behind him. “Are you sure that scout got it right, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked him, speaking loudly over the thundering wind resistance. “What would DarkKnightmon be doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”

    “That’s what I’m worried about,” Alphamon responded, looking over his shoulder.

    Omegamon flew along Alphamon’s left side, his cape fluttering in the breeze. “He wouldn’t be trying to garner support from King Spinomon, would he?” he asked.

    “Doubtful,” Alphamon responded. “King Spinomon would never go along with it. He’s stubborn and doesn’t like to get involved in affairs outside of the Mesozoic Kingdom.”

    “Then what could he be after...?” Omegamon wondered.

    -

    DarkKnightmon stood in the sands of the Claw Desert. Opposite to him was a DinoTigermon, who observed DarkKnightmon keenly. Behind the DinoTigermon were several prehistoric Digimon, among them a MasterTyrannomon, a Pteromon X, a Triceramon, and Vermillimon. They watched DinoTigermon as he talked with DarkKnightmon.

    “So... Whad’ya want our services for exact-ly?” the giant smilodon asked, looking down at the knight who stood several inches shorter than the massive feline. “’DarkKnightmon, wuzzit?”

    “I need your martial skills in order to attack the Royal Knights and take over the Order,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    “Martial skills?” DinoTigermon asked, cocking an eyebrow and looking at DarkKnightmon like he was crazy. “I’m not even wed! Whad’you need martial skills for anyways if you want to take over the Order? Are you plannin’ to marry one of ‘em?!”

    “’Martial’, boss. Not ‘marital’,” the Pteromon X spoke up, trying his best not to snicker with the others. “It means fighting skills.”

    “H-Shut up! I didn’t ask you!” the DinoTigermon snapped, shooting a glare over his shoulder. “Okay, so you want my mer-cenary team to kick their asses. You do know these’re the Royal Knights, right? As in, some of the best fighters on the continent? Me and my co-horts are pretty damn strong, but not enough to take down all of ‘em.”

    “You won’t be alone,” DarkKnightmon assured him. “I have others at my disposal as well. I’ve hired several other mercenary teams as well.”

    “Yeah? What ones?” the mercenary leader asked, narrowing his eyes. “You can forget it if you asked Kowloon Co. We don’t work with scum.”

    “Neither do I,” DarkKnightmon answered. “I haven’t asked them, or other shady groups like Black Pincer Company. On my side, I have elements of the Dune Troopers, the Valancers, the Licht Gruppe, and the Cimmerian Adventurers.”

    “Hm... We can work with those, I guess...” DinoTigermon said, thinking to himself. “And the pay? It better be pretty big for somethin’ like this.”

    “Of course. Provided the job is completed,” DarkKnightmon explained. “If I hire you, don’t feel that you have to kill the Royal Knights. Incapacitating them would be much better, at least for the founding members. It’s better for my image.”

    “Wait wait wait. Hold on. What d’you mean, ‘if I hire you’?” the mercenary leader asked with a sneer.

    “I need to make sure that you and your team are capable first. I’m not hiring a team that doesn’t know left from right. I can’t have my plans screwed up from simple oversights.”

    DinoTigermon let out a huff. “Fine. You can test us. How d’you want to do that?”

    DarkKnightmon’s gaze shifted from DinoTigermon. Instead of looking at him, he was looking past the large feline Digimon. There was something in the sky. Three things, actually... Distant shapes.

    “The Royal Knights are coming,” he explained, still looking past the mercenary.

    “...What?” the DinoTigermon asked, his eyes widening. He spun around and looked to where DarkKnightmon was gazing. In the distance he saw three figures. “That can’t be! Everyone, get ready!”

    “Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon...” DarkKnightmon calmly spoke.

    DinoTigermon snarled and looked over his shoulder at DarkKnightmon. “Was this a set up?!”

    “Don’t be ridiculous,” DarkKnightmon said, summoning his Twin Spear in a blast of darkness. “We must have been spotted by one of their scouts. Just consider this an opportunity to show me what you can do against them. There’s only two plus the dragon.”

    “’Only’ he says!” the Pteromon X said, locking his missiles into place. “Side Winder!”

    Missiles steamed from the mechanical pterodactyl’s wings and screeched through the air towards the three incoming Royal Knights.

    Alphamon looked at Omegamon and OuRyuumon as the barrage of eight missiles flew towards them. “They’re firing at us. Hostiles confirmed,” he told them.

    The three broke off in different directions to avoid the missiles. Alphamon flew down, OuRyuumon shot right, and Omegamon swerved to the left. As the salvo of missiles passed between them, Omegamon spun around and aimed his Garuru Cannon at the ordnance. He fired a blast of blue, freezing energy from his cannon. The shining sphere ripped through the missiles, blowing them up in mid air.

    As eight explosions detonated in the sky, the three flew down in front of the explosions and met again.

    “DarkKnightmon’s definitely there!” OuRyuumon told them, pointing with one of his swords to the black figure behind the mobilizing mercenaries.

    “Then we can’t afford to mess around,” Alphamon decreed. “OuRyuumon, you and I know what to do. Omegamon, can you take out the others and then provide us back up? We’ll take out a few as we go to meet him.”

    “Understood, Alphamon,” Omegamon replied, nodding.

    He broke away from the two and started firing on the mercenary group with his cannon. Icy explosions blossomed up around the Digimon, the odd, unlucky one getting vaporized by a blast.

    “Get ready, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon said, extending his arm out in front of him, his palm open.

    “I am,” OuRyuumon replied, flying in front of Alphamon to face him.

    Alphamon nodded and he began to concentrate. A glowing circle suddenly formed just in front of his palm. The resplendent, blue circle grew wider and orbs and digi-letters formed inside of it. Within those, a second ring grew and they grew as wide as his body. Alphamon looked into OuRyuumon’s eyes.

    OuRyuumon returned the gaze into Alphamon’s eyes and their hearts became in sync with one another’s. OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes and he burst forward, through the rings, and his body became encased in light.

    “Alphamon!”

    “OuRyuumon!”

    “Jogress Shinka!”

    OuRyuumon’s large, shining body swept into Alphamon’s and the black knight became engulfed in the same brilliant light. Alphamon’s wings sprouted rows of long, majestic, golden feathers longer than his arms, much longer than his wings were before. In his right hand, a giant, magnificent pole-arm formed from OuRyuumon’s body. It had a long, black shaft with gold notches and ornamentation along it. On the back end, there was a small, back-facing crescent blade below small, blades jutting out from the main point. On the main end was a massive, double-sided axe made up of OuRyuumon’s Gaiba Daimeijin wings. They formed the giant blade of the gold and black “sword”.

    “Alphamon: Ouryuken!”

    OuRyuumon was gone, completely infused into the sword that Alphamon now held. His form was now completely focused on offence, while Alphamon could make the decisions as he saw fit. On top of that, Alphamon’s power was increased phenomenally.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken burst from the light and flapped his regal wings powerfully. He ripped through the air towards the group of mercenaries.

    For a split second, DarkKnightmon’s eyes widened and he gripped his Twin Spear just a bit harder. He narrowed his gaze and pointed his spear at Alphamon. “Attack!” he commanded, firing a powerful beam of shadows from his spear.

    Just as the mercenaries began to prepare to attack, Omegamon dropped from the sky and cleaved the Pteramon X in two with a vertical slash of his Grey Sword. He swept his cannon through the scattering data and unleashed a blast from his Garuru Cannon, obliterating the MasterTyrannomon beside him.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken flapped his wings, swerving to the side to avoid the blast that DarkKnightmon fired at him by only a foot. He glided alongside the blast as the shadows dissipated and crackled out, continuing his diagonal descent.

    “Wh-What is that?!” DinoTigermon demanded, his eyes wide with terror. “Alphamon can evolve?!”

    “He can jogress with OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon spoke with a dire tone, crossing his spear in front of him. While he kept his gaze primarily on Alphamon, he didn’t let Omegamon out of his vision either. “As far as I know, he’s never been defeated in that form...”

    “And we’re supposed to fight that?!” the mercenary protested.

    “There’s no choice now,” DarkKnightmon spoke, getting ready to defend himself. He dashed to the side when a blast from Omegamon’s Garuru Cannon swallowed up another mercenary and proceeded towards him. He ignored the shower of sand that rained down on him and turned to watch Alphamon: Ouryuken close in on them.

    DinoTigermon hissed and lunged towards Alphamon. “You’re not the only one with a X-Antibody! Highland Fang!” he shouted at the Royal Knight, bearing his massive fangs.

    Alphamon continued soaring, undeterred by the attacking enemy. He suddenly flapped his wings and spun in his flight, crossing in front of DinoTigermon to his right side. His blade, the Kyukyoku Senjin Ouryuken, swung through the air. With a mighty heave, one of a complete control and concentration, as was needed to be able to wield the Ouryuken, Alphamon swung the Ouryuken towards DinoTigermon mightily. The ultra sharp blade connected with DinoTigermon and slashed clean through his cyborg body.

    “WHAAAT?!” was all he could roar before bursting into data.

    As the blade left the mercenary’s fracturing body and emerged out of his data, Alphamon continued ceaselessly towards his opponents. He held the poleaxe behind him as he descended on them, the hyper-offensive weapon poised to strike again in a moment’s notice.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed as the mega level mercenary leader was destroyed in a single swing. The rest of the mercenaries there didn’t stand a chance before the combined strengths of Omegamon and Alphamon: Ouryuken. He wasn’t positive that he could defeat Alphamon while he was in that Mega II level form, especially not with Omegamon there as well. While he was strong, so was Alphamon; Alphamon was arguably the strongest Royal Knight, and DarkKnightmon used to be able to only fight him to a draw on one of his better days. With OuRyuumon as his sword, that gave Alphamon a decisive advantage. However, he knew that Alphamon wouldn’t let him just retreat. He had to think of something...

    However, he had to think on his feet. Alphamon was upon them.

    Alphamon landed on the ground with a crash, sending sand flying up all around him from where his boots connected with the ground. He burst through the wave of sand and cleaved the Ouryuken into a Stegomon, turning another Digimon into data. He spun around and, effortlessly, it seemed, slashed the holy sword through a charging Vermillimon, easily breaking through the Digimon’s armoured body.

    “Kyukyoku Senjin Ouryuken!” Alphamon called out. He slashed the Ouryuken behind him, sending a razor sharp blast of wind through the air from the blade, tearing through the sky.

    The air cut through all but a few of the remaining mercenaries, the rest of whom were beset by Omegamon. They were destroyed by the overwhelming power of the Ouryuken.

    DarkKnightmon glared at Alphamon, gripping the Twin Spear tightly. He inspected the Digimon and silently thought, although ready to act in a moment.

    Meanwhile, Omegamon clashed with a Cannondramon, flying over the mercenary’s expansive back and hacking his Grey Sword through the sauropod’s cannons. The weapons exploded and Omegamon landed on the Cannondramon’s back, ducking under his whipping tail and embedding the Grey Sword in the dinosaur’s armoured back. He then fired a blast from the Garuru Cannon through the Cannondramon, jumped back, and slammed the side of his cannon into the face of a WarGreymon who tried to sneak up on him. He fired the Garuru Cannon into the WarGreymon’s chest and sent him crashing into the sand in a wave, his armour splintered.

    As the Cannondramon’s data became mixed within a gust of sandy wind, Alphamon turned to the remaining four mercenaries. “Get out of here!” he ordered them, narrowing his eyes dangerously. “Before we change our minds.”

    The three mercenaries dropped their weapons and raced to help the wounded WarGreymon mercenary. They retreated without needing to hear another word.

    “Still as soft as ever, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon spoke, eyeing him carefully.

    Alphamon slowly turned around to face him. His long cape and majestic wings sailed in the blustery desert breeze. His red eyes flashed as he observed DarkKnightmon.

    “And you’re still as conniving as ever,” Alphamon told the former Royal Knight.

    “Again, I’m hurt by one of your blows,” DarkKnightmon calmly replied. “I could have been visiting a friend for all you know. You might have just destroyed a bunch of innocent Digimon.”

    “They attacked us first,” Alphamon told him, taking a few steps towards the dark knight.

    “Alright. Fine...” DarkKnightmon responded, shifting his lance slightly in his hand.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken kicked off the sandy ground and flapped his wings, sweeping up the golden sand behind him as he tore towards DarkKnightmon. As he did so, Omegamon darted to the side, his cannon trained on DarkKnightmon and ready to fire in case he got out of Alphamon’s range.

    Alphamon wound his arm back and raised the Ouryuken over his head, bringing the blade down on DarkKnightmon with a swift, powerful blow.

    As the weapon dropped like a hammer, DarkKnightmon raised the Twin Spear and blocked it, both hands on the lance. Sparks exploded out from the clashing weapons like a fountain. The Ouryuken pummelled the Twin Spear violently although he managed to block it. The sheer power from the blow nearly caused DarkKnightmon’s legs to buckle underneath the enormous pressure. His arms nearly gave way as well; strain shot through his body like a lightning bolt. The power of the Ouryuken was greater than he thought.

    DarkKnightmon held against the blade for a couple seconds before giving way and jumping back. Omegamon took this opportunity to fire a frigid sphere from his cannon. DarkKnightmon, prepared for a bilateral assault, swept out his lance and fired a beam of darkness at the incoming azure blast. The two attacks collided and exploded in the air in a purple, blue, and white detonation.

    DarkKnightmon landed on his feet and skidded along the sand in a standing position, coming to a stop in a defensive stance.

    “Surrender, DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon told him sternly.

    “So you can send me back to the Dark Area?” DarkKnightmon asked him, stalling for time as he thought. “I think not. I just wish to live a quiet life.”

    “I wish I could believe you,” Alphamon answered. “But I can’t. However, if you surrender, we’ll go easy on you.”

    “Is that so...?” DarkKnightmon questioned. He carefully examined Alphamon’s form. He thought to himself about what to do about his predicament, pensively going over several options in his mind. “How does one counter a jogress...?” he wondered to himself.

    Then, his gaze landed on the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s right hand. “By severing the bond...” he answered himself with a tiny smile behind his metal mask.

    He took a step forwards and lowered his Twin Spear disarmingly. “It’s been ages since I’ve seen you in your Ouryuken form, Alphamon,” he said collectedly. “Years... as you well know.”

    “I’m aware of that...” Alphamon said, narrowing his eyes. He wasn’t about to let his guard down with DarkKnightmon.

    Omegamon walked towards Alphamon cautiously. He kept the Garuru Cannon pointed at DarkKnightmon.

    “So, OuRyuumon is with you...” DarkKnightmon spoke, eyeing the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s hand.

    “You know he is,” Alphamon said, emphatically raising the blood-laced, sandy pole-weapon in his hand.

    “Has he told you yet?” DarkKnightmon questioned, lowering his weapon fully, to show his diplomatic intentions.

    “Told me...?” the leader of the Royal Knights asked, frowning.

    “His secret...” the fugitive spoke ominously.

    Alphamon’s eyes widened slightly at DarkKnightmon’s words, his interest suddenly piqued. He wondered if DarkKnightmon knew about OuRyuumon’s sexual orientation. However, OuRyuumon had told him that he hadn’t told anybody, and he and OuRyuumon weren’t a couple back before DarkKnightmon’s betrayal, so he couldn’t have found them out by accident. “What are you talking about?” Alphamon found himself asking.

    Omegamon silently glanced between DarkKnightmon and Alphamon, although he remained ready for any trick that their old comrade might pull.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but smirk. “No, I suppose he wouldn’t have...” he said, looking at the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s hand. “Well... now would be the ideal time to tell you, now that he is in the state that he’s in. After all... what cannot speak cannot lie.”

    Alphamon frowned at him. It didn’t register to him at the time, but if he weren’t focused on DarkKnightmon, he would have been able to notice the slight trembling emanating from the shaft of the Ouryuken. “Whichever lies that reach my ears will be coming from you,” the Lord of the Empty Seat retorted. “I have more reason to trust OuRyuumon than I do you.”

    “If that’s what you think, you really are naive and foolish, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon said darkly. His yellow eyes flashed. “At one point, I thought that he was my friend too. You don’t know what he’s capable of...”

    Alphamon suddenly went quiet. What an odd thing for DarkKnightmon to say. It would make sense that DarkKnightmon would feel betrayed by himself and the other Royal Knights, but he didn’t even approach OuRyuumon during that conspiracy back then, nor did he and OuRyuumon physically fight in that battle. Sure, the two always argued from time to time, but it never seemed like they particularly hated each other to Alphamon.

    “...What do you mean?” Alphamon asked against his better judgement.

    Omegamon frowned as well. He suddenly felt an uneasy feeling inside of him. He didn’t like where this was going, but at the same time, he was curious as well.

    “After our fight, all those years ago, when I was being treated by Duskmon while in your captivity...” DarkKnightmon began. “He said that I sustained damage from a fall prior to the fight.”

    “Yes...” Alphamon tentatively affirmed. “A few of the night guards also said that you fell from the tower before heading towards the castle...”

    “...Didn’t you ever wonder about that?” DarkKnightmon queried, his brows furrowed. “It must have seemed odd.”

    “I was told that you fell from the tower accidentally. There was a loose brick on the parapets,” Alphamon told him, frowning suspiciously.

    “Who told you that?” the dark knight asked, eyeing him steadily.

    Alphamon paused. “...OuRyuumon,” he said with a hint of defensiveness in his voice. “The guards corroborated what he told me. What are you getting at, DarkKnightmon?”

    DarkKnightmon ignored the question. “But none of the guards actually saw me fall, correct? They only saw me after I hit the ground.”

    “Well... no...” the Royal Knight admitted. This time, he began to notice a definite trembling in the Ouryuken, as if OuRyuumon was protesting.

    “So, they only went off what OuRyuumon said happened,” DarkKnightmon said, his eyes locked with Alphamon’s. “Let me tell you what really happened.”

    Alphamon was silent. The vibrations in the weapon became more and more apparent. He gripped the hilt tightly. “What?” he asked curtly.

    “That night... before my admittedly impulsive rebellion...” DarkKnightmon calmly spoke, leering into Alphamon’s eyes forcefully. “MirageGaogamon and I were talking. It was right after I challenged you, so I was speaking heatedly... I told him that I didn’t want you as the Royal Knight’s leader.”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes quietly, but listened.

    “When we departed, I began heading down the hallway towards my room to cool off. However, OuRyuumon followed me and asked me to go with him to the tower. He seemed amiable... it surprised me, considering how I just fought you, his closest and probably only friend. I agreed, and he led me up to the tower.”

    Omegamon winced. He definitely didn’t like where this was going. “Alphamon...” he urged him.

    Alphamon ignored Omegamon’s voice of caution. “...Yes?” he asked DarkKnightmon roughly, glaring into his calm but honest yellow eyes.

    “We reached the roof of the tower... OuRyuumon began talking to me. His demeanour became rough and violent. He started accusing me of wanting to kill you so that I could take over the Order. I know we weren’t all that close, but I was shocked that he would say that; I was frustrated at the situation, sure, but something like that had never even crossed my mind. He then started calling me a liar and a traitor. I tried to tell him otherwise, but then he grabbed me by the collar.” DarkKnightmon paused and looked into Alphamon’s eyes. “...He pushed me off that tower, Alphamon. I didn’t fall. He made it look like an accident. That’s what made me do what I did...”

    Alphamon’s eyes grew wider and a tight, sickening feeling began to form in his chest. He had convinced himself that DarkKnightmon would be lying, however... many of the things that DarkKnightmon had said sounded like they could be possible. He remembered, that after DarkKnightmon had challenged him, OuRyuumon said that he was going to use the bathroom. He had been an unusually long time... Alphamon’s gaze hardened. “I don’t believe you...” he said defiantly.

    “I’m telling the truth, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him with an annoyed frown. “Look beyond your feelings for once.”

    “I am doing that!” Alphamon barked at him angrily.

    “Then think,” DarkKnightmon said with a cold glare. “Why would I be up on that tower alone? And do you really think I’m incompetent enough to fall off a building by sitting on a loose stone?”

    Alphamon was silent for a few moments. “Accidents happen,” he replied dismissively, looking away from the knight.

    “That’s what you would like to believe...” DarkKnightmon answered. “Then, tell me... Where was OuRyuumon at the time?”

    “He went to use the washroom,” Alphamon answered. The sick, uneasy feeling lingered in his stomach as he spoke.

    “Then how did he know that I fell off the tower?” the shadowy knight reasoned.

    “I...” Alphamon paused. He didn’t have a good answer for that. He didn’t know how OuRyuumon knew that he had fallen off of the tower; it never crossed his mind until then. “P-Perhaps one of the guards told him?”

    “You’re creating excuses for him, Alphamon. You know, in your heart, I am telling the truth,” DarkKnightmon told him emphatically.

    “I know OuRyuumon better than anybody! He wouldn’t do that!” Alphamon shouted in protest.

    Omegamon was silent.

    “...Wouldn’t he?” DarkKnightmon asked him. He looked at Omegamon. “What’s your opinion, Omegamon? Don’t you think that that’s something OuRyuumon might do?”

    Omegamon grimaced and looked away from both DarkKnightmon and Alphamon. He didn’t confirm DarkKnightmon’s words, but he didn’t deny them either.

    “Omegamon can’t even deny it… If you know OuRyuumon better than anybody, you should know that that is something that he would do...” DarkKnightmon said emphatically. “Are you trying to tell me that OuRyuumon isn’t violent? That he isn’t hotheaded and impulsive? That he isn’t jealous and petty? That he doesn’t take pleasure in fighting and killing?”

    Alphamon shut his eyes and raised his left hand to rub his forehead. “He... He wouldn’t try to murder you...” Alphamon insisted, but without the vigor and confidence that he previously had.

    DarkKnightmon watched Alphamon with calm, composed, fervent eyes. “On my honour, Alphamon... He did.”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat gazed into DarkKnightmon eyes with a grimace. Although he didn’t trust DarkKnightmon, he had an increasingly hard time believing that he was lying. His breathing became heavy and his heart raced. The doubt grew in his mind and in his heart. More and more, he started to consider that OuRyuumon might really have defenestrated DarkKnightmon. These fears and worries were only amplified by the way the Ouryuken seemed to protest in his right hand.

    Suddenly, Alphamon’s form was consumed with light. Alphamon and OuRyuumon separated from each other. The gold dragon flew onto the ground and Alphamon staggered away from him.

    DarkKnightmon watched silently. The jogress was broken.

    “I’ll leave you to discuss your issues,” he told them, aiming the Twin Spear at the ground in front of him. The lance pulsed with shadows and dark energy.

    “Wait!” Alphamon shouted, turning towards him abruptly.

    DarkKnightmon fired a massive beam from his lance into the ground, creating a giant explosion of darkness and sand that spilled into the air. Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon braced themselves as the blast swept over them, the sand stinging them and the concussion from the explosion nearly knocking them off their feet.

    When the explosion faded, all that was left was a smoking crater in the desert. The shadows dissipated and the sand began to be sucked into the crater, filling it much of it back up. DarkKnightmon was nowhere to be seen.

    Omegamon grunted and began to step forwards. “I’ll go after him.”

    “No...” Alphamon said lowly. “Don’t go after him on your own. It’s too dangerous; he could be hoping to split us up.”

    “That’s exactly what he’s doing!” OuRyuumon snarled in a rage, gripping his Gairyu scimitars in his claws. “I’ll kill him for saying all that!”

    “Kill him?”Alphamon asked pointedly. He slowly turned to look at the tall, gold dragon. “Is that what you would do?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced at his poorly chosen words and turned to look at Alphamon. “N-No!” he shouted. “I didn’t mean... You don’t believe him, do you?!”

    Alphamon couldn’t help but wince. He looked OuRyuumon square in the face. “OuRyuumon... Did you push him off that tower?”

    OuRyuumon’s claws trembled. He balled them into airtight fists as he looked down at Alphamon with a hurt glare. “How could you ask me that?! You of all people!”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat looked down, unable to help but feel guilty for asking. However, his gaze then hardened and he looked up at OuRyuumon. He wouldn’t be made to be the one in the wrong. “...I know you, OuRyuumon. Did you push him off of that tower...?”

    OuRyuumon avoided eye contact with Alphamon. He knew that he couldn’t lie to Alphamon while looking him in the eyes. “No...” he muttered, less than convincingly, which was only enforced by his sideways glance to the sand.

    Alphamon clenched his fists. His feelings of fear, apprehension, and uneasiness changed into anger and a grim realization. “OuRyuumon...” he spoke, his voice was low and brimming with fury. “Look me in the eyes... Did you try to murder DarkKnightmon...?”

    OuRyuumon’s violet eyes grimaced as they turned to lock with Alphamon’s. He tried to force himself to lie, but he saw the agonized look in Alphamon’s eyes. That look demanded an honest answer, but at the same time, wanted to be proven wrong despite already knowing what the answer was. It sparked a flurry of guilt inside of OuRyuumon and caused him to give way.

    “...I did it for you, damn it!” OuRyuumon yelled, shutting his eyes. “I overheard him and MirageGaogamon plotting to overthrow you!”

    “So you threw him off of a tower?!” Alphamon thundered, fury in his bellowing voice and his crimson eyes.

    OuRyuumon cringed and shrunk back. Despite being taller, he felt smaller than Alphamon in that moment. “They were probably going to kill you...” he murmured.

    “…How can I believe anything you say now?” Alphamon questioned, doing his best to temper his sheer rage. “I... can’t believe you did that, OuRyuumon. I never thought that you could stoop so low.”

    OuRyuumon growled a bit. “Me?! What about DarkKnightmon!? He was the one plotting against you!” he protested.

    “He was angry. He may have calmed down,” Alphamon said, glaring at him. “You were the one that drove him to attack us when you pushed him off of that tower! But then again, I suppose you hoped that he had been deleted, hadn’t you?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced. “He would have talked his way out of it if I told you...”

    “One thousand excuses won’t change what you did, OuRyuumon!” the Lord of the Empty Seat growled. “He was a Royal Knight and my friend, for that matter!”

    The gold dragon grunted and muttered. “Some friend he is if he decided to--“

    “And some friend you are for lying to me and trying to murder DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon interrupted abruptly. “I suddenly understand why you wanted me to finish him off... Do you think that’s the sort of thing that Royal Knights do?! It’s no wonder I haven’t made you one. I can’t believe that a member of the Order would do something so vile.”

    OuRyuumon went silent. He found himself staring down at the sandy ground, knowing that whatever he had to say would just make things worse.

    Omegamon looked between the two Digimon. He didn’t want to be there at all. He felt incredibly uncomfortable being in between their heated argument. “Alphamon...” he spoke up uncertainly. “I believe it would be best if he returned to the castle. This isn’t helping anybody.”

    “Very well,” Alphamon tersely said, walking straight forwards and passing by OuRyuumon without so much of a glance.

    “Alphamon...” OuRyuumon spoke in a small, pleading voice, looking over his shoulder at him.

    “Don’t,” Alphamon replied sharply, stopping, but not turning to face him. “I don’t even want to look at you, OuRyuumon. Right now... you disgust me.”

    Without another word, Alphamon flapped his wings and soared into the sky.

    Omegamon gave OuRyuumon a swift, sympathetic glance and took off after Alphamon.

    OuRyuumon stood alone in the sand as the two Royal Knights left without him. He watched silently as they flew away. His dejection and sadness soon turned into anger and frustration. A snarl escaped his mouth and he gripped the swords in his hands. OuRyuumon released an angry, sorrowful roar and slashed his swords down into the sand, causing a blast to rip through the grains and send two waves of sand blasting up in front of him.

    OuRyuumon panted and withdrew his swords, gazing into the sky at Alphamon’s receding form. “Why... Why did you have to find out?”

    With a weak grunt of frustration, OuRyuumon flapped his wings and moved to follow them. He made sure to keep a distance between himself and Alphamon. He knew it took a lot to get Alphamon that mad, and when he was that angry, it was better to make himself scarce until he calmed down.

    He just hoped he would calm down...

    -

    Alphamon hailed one of the Royal Knights’ aerial guards as he, Omegamon, and the lagging OuRyuumon entered the Royal Knights’ airspace. When they were recognized by the guard, they were allowed to descend over the castle walls and land inside the castle grounds. It had been a tense few hours of flight. Alphamon hadn’t spoken to OuRyuumon at all, and he hadn’t really said anything to Omegamon either. Neither Omegamon or OuRyuumon spoke as well.

    Alphamon and Omegamon landed in front of the entrance to the main building. As he landed, Alphamon couldn’t help but turn and look up at the tower on the left. His gaze hardened again and he brusquely walked forwards.

    A Knightmon standing on the right side of the door saw Alphamon and Omegamon approach. He promptly saluted and smiled. “Good afternoon, sirs. How did the mission--“

    “Fine, thank you,” Alphamon swiftly responded, pushing the door open and walking into the entrance hall towards the foyer.

    “Go...” the Knightmon finished.

    Omegamon followed him inside. He looked over his shoulder to see OuRyuumon land outside after a few seconds. He turned back to look at Alphamon, who had no intentions of slowing down to wait for the dragon.

    OuRyuumon slunk into the entrance hall and followed at a distance, plodding along dejectedly.

    Alphamon walked into the foyer. There, he saw Magnamon, Craniamon, and Dynasmon standing in the middle of the room, talking. When the door swung open, they turned to look at Alphamon and Omegamon.

    “Oh, hey, guys,” Dynasmon said, somewhat surprised that they were back so soon. “How did it go? Did you find DarkKnightmon?”

    Craniamon looked at the two of them and noticed that they had little to no damage or signs of wear and tear on the armour. “Doesn’t look like it,” he remarked.

    “He escaped again,” Alphamon said, walking straight past them. He walked across the foyer to the left set of stairs.

    “Where’s OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked, looking around.

    Alphamon shrugged and headed up the stairs to head to his room.

    Omegamon internally sighed. “OuRyuumon’s behind us,” he responded, looking over his shoulder.

    He saw OuRyuumon head up the several steps and walk into the foyer. OuRyuumon looked around the room. “Where’s Alphamon?” he asked.

    “I think he went up to his room,” Dynasmon said, frowning curiously. “Did something happen?”

    “No,” OuRyuumon responded, walking past them and going into the same staircase that Alphamon went up.

    Omegamon immediately followed him, walking up the stairs after the gold dragon. Once they were out of the other knights’ ear shot, he spoke up. “Where are you going, OuRyuumon?” he questioned.

    “I need to talk to Alphamon,” OuRyuumon replied, his voice low but full of determination.

    “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Omegamon inquired, frowning.

    “I need to explain, damnit!” OuRyuumon snapped, jerking his head to look over his shoulder.

    “I don’t think he’ll be willing to listen right now, do you?” the white knight asked as they reached the top of the stairs.

    “I don’t care...” the dragon Digimon answered, turning forwards and grimacing. “I’ve gotta try...”

    Omegamon nodded, although he had no expectations that OuRyuumon would succeed. “Good luck, then...”

    OuRyuumon muttered a quick, off-handed ‘thanks’ and turned right, heading down towards the end of the long corridor, where Alphamon’s room was.

    Omegamon followed him, but only to head to his own room which was adjacent to Alphamon’s. He saw OuRyuumon stop in front of Alphamon’s closed door. He glanced at the dragon briefly before heading into his room and closing the door to give them some privacy. Omegamon started taking off his armour and placing the metal segments on the armour rack in the corner of his room. He changed into a white shirt with the horseshoe-shaped symbol of omega on it. He did his best not to listen but he couldn’t help but overhear OuRyuumon outside.

    OuRyuumon rapped his claws strongly against Alphamon’s door, sending the sound of knocking wood echoing down the corridor.

    “Who is it?”Alphamon asked, his voice still carrying a sharp edge to it.

    “...It’s me,” OuRyuumon answered in an uncharacteristically submissive voice.

    Alphamon was silent.

    After waiting a few seconds for him to respond, OuRyuumon persisted. “Alphamon?”

    “Leave me,” Alphamon told him curtly.

    OuRyuumon frowned. “But Alphamon... Let me explain--“

    “I don’t want to hear any more of your lies and rationalizations,” the Lord of the Empty Seat sharply explained.

    “Hear me out, Alphamon!”

    Alphamon sneered. “Leave me, OuRyuumon!” he angrily yelled through the door. He didn’t hear OuRyuumon respond after that. A heavy breath escaped his mouth. “Just... don’t for awhile. You’ll just make things worse.”

    He heard the sound of OuRyuumon’s clawed footsteps tapping against the stone floor weakening as he walked away, defeated.

    Alphamon grunted as he pulled the rest of his clothes on. He wouldn’t allow himself to feel guilty. What OuRyuumon did was unacceptable to him and he wasn’t about to let him off the hook. Friend or not. Lover or not. He was far too angry for that.

    He buttoned up his white, button-up shirt, zipped up his dark blue pants, and walked over to the window in his room, opening it. He placed his arms on the stone sill and leaned forwards, peering out into the fresh air and the sunny afternoon. Alphamon brought his palm to his face and rubbed it.

    He still couldn’t believe it. He knew that OuRyuumon had a tendency to be aggressive and impulsive, and he knew that he enjoyed the art of combat, but he never thought that he could do something like that. Alphamon knew that DarkKnightmon did absolutely nothing that he could condone, but to think that OuRyuumon could resort to such extreme actions to somebody who he was supposed to have cared about... Alphamon thought he knew him. He was in love with OuRyuumon, but now OuRyuumon almost seemed like an entirely different Digimon to him.

    And then there was the other thing that bothered him...

    OuRyuumon had been keeping this secret from Alphamon for all these years. Alphamon had trusted OuRyuumon implicitly. He never would have thought that he could keep something this big from him. He didn’t want to admit it, but he felt hurt. He understood why OuRyuumon kept it from him; he must have known Alphamon would react this way. However, that didn’t stop him from feeling at least somewhat betrayed.

    On further reflection, he imagined that this was how Omegamon must have felt when he found out that Alphamon had been keeping something from him. Alphamon’s feelings of anger and disgust turned into that of guilt. The emotion panged at his heart... He felt somewhat hypocritical. He was mad at OuRyuumon for keeping an important secret from him when he had kept an important secret from someone close to him as well.

    Alphamon grimaced. He stood up straight and closed the window, turning back towards the door. He had put off talking to Omegamon for long enough. Alphamon decided that it was time to explain everything to him once and for all. He was a very important person to Alphamon; he deserved to have his mind put at ease. He wanted things to be back to the way they were between him and Omegamon. He needed that close bond restored.

    The black knight walked out of his room and closed the door behind him. He stepped up to the nearby door on his right and took a deep breath. After a few seconds of composing himself, he knocked on the door.

    Omegamon opened up the door and looked at Alphamon. “Alphamon?”

    “May I come in?” he asked, masking the uncertainty in his voice. “I want to talk to you.”

    “Of course...” Omegamon answered, moving out of the way so that Alphamon could walk in. He closed the door behind them and walked around Alphamon to face him.

    Alphamon observed Omegamon with a faint, quiet grimace. His mind raced as he tried to decide how to start and what to say to him.

    “This is about OuRyuumon, isn’t it?” Omegamon asked.

    Alphamon paused. “...Well, sort of...” he replied.

    “I realize how angry at him you must be, but--“

    “No,” Alphamon interrupted, furrowing his eyebrows. “It’s not about that...”

    “Pardon?” Omegamon asked, confused.

    “To be honest, it’s not even about him, really,” Alphamon told him, still managing to feel twinges of anger as he thought about OuRyuumon. “It’s about you and I...”

    “...What do you mean?” Omegamon questioned, his confusion turning into apprehension.

    “It’s time that I’ve explained myself...” Alphamon said, wincing. “I owe you an explanation.”

    Omegamon closed his eyes. He knew what Alphamon was talking about now. “Alphamon...” he began reassuringly.

    “I do,” Alphamon insisted. “I... I never wanted you to find out about me and OuRyuumon like that.”

    “You never wanted me to find out,” Omegamon corrected, opening his eyes and looking at Alphamon.

    Alphamon paused and grimaced. He looked at Omegamon and walked up to him, closing much of the space between them. “You don’t understand, Omegamon... It’s not like you think.”

    “You don’t have to explain, Alphamon,” Omegamon assured him. “I’ve already forgiven you.”

    “Damn it, Omegamon! Stop being so understanding for a moment! I’m trying to explain myself!” he said in a raised, heated voice. He reached out and grabbed Omegamon’s hand, pulling it up between them. “I care about you!”

    Omegamon’s eyes widened a bit. “Alphamon...”

    Alphamon stared deep into Omegamon’s blue eyes with a resilient gaze. “I do… You’ve been so good to me after all these years… probably better than I deserve,” Alphamon told him, taking a step towards him so that they were inches apart. He held Omegamon’s hand gently in his. “I didn’t mean to hurt you…”

    Omegamon felt himself heating up behind his helmet. He grew uncomfortable by Alphamon’s close proximity and the lingering hold on his hand. “I’m sure you didn’t…” Omegamon replied, beginning to lean back a bit. “That’s just… how things turned out…”

    “I was planning to tell you, Omegamon. Honestly, I was!” Alphamon assured him passionately, reaching out his other hand and placing it on Omegamon’s shoulder, holding him in place. “This has nothing to do with me not trusting you…” Alphamon began to softly caress Omegamon’s palm with his thumb. “Believe me, Omegamon…”

    Omegamon’s eyes widened. “A-Alphamon…!” he exclaimed in shock at the sudden contact. Alphamon was acting differently towards him. He was no longer acting like just a friend. Omegamon wasn’t sure how to react. He flushed but narrowed his eyes. “A-Alphamon… Stop. Y-You’re upset over OuRyuumon…” he told him, trying to remain as calm as possible.

    Alphamon leaned forwards towards Omegamon, his face but an inch away from the white knight’s. He squeezed the knight’s hand and gazed into Omegamon’s eyes, his adrenaline pumping and his emotions running high from the events of the past day. “No… I’m upset over you…” he softly answered, his warm breath blowing across Omegamon’s face.

    Omegamon released a nervous, shaky breath as his wide, blue eyes stared up at Alphamon’s with shock and fear. “Alphamon…” he whispered. Omegamon grimaced and pulled his hand away, placing his hands on Alphamon’s chest and gently pushing him back to put distance between Alphamon and himself. Omegamon panted slightly and stared Alphamon hard in the eyes. “…Don’t, Alphamon,” he said firmly. Omegamon walked past him, towards the door, turning his embarrassed and addled face away from Alphamon as he passed. “Don’t do something else that you’ll regret…”

    Alphamon stared blankly at Omegamon for a few moments. His crimson eyes started to enlarge with horror when he began to realize what he was doing. “O-Omegamon,” he stammered, unable to think of anything else to say. “I…” He was mortified by his actions.

    “You should leave, Alphamon,” Omegamon insisted, facing the door. “Go rest and cool down. You’re in no fit state to be around anybody right now. Not after everything that’s happened today.”

    “But I--“ Alphamon began to protest. He felt the need to explain himself. He needed to apologize for his foolish, impulsive, inappropriate behaviour. He didn’t even get to properly explain to Omegamon about why he kept the secret from him. However… he realized that he couldn’t right now. After what he did, he would only make things worse between him. Thinking rationally again, Alphamon knew that he had to cut his losses before he screwed things up irrevocably between them… if he hadn’t already.

    Alphamon grimaced and nodded, walking towards the door. “Very well…” he muttered. As he passed Omegamon and went out into the hall, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”

    Cringing, Omegamon closed the door behind Alphamon.

    Wordlessly, Alphamon turned and walked into his own room, closing the door behind him. He sat down at his desk and buried his face in his hands, sighing and rubbing his temples in frustration. “Yggdrasil, Alphamon… What the hell were you thinking…?” he asked himself.
     
  20. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Author's Notes: "The text that you have entered is too long (50705 characters). Please shorten it to 50000 characters long." <- The worst.

    So, yes, if you're wondering why one scene is in this post and everything else is in the next post, blame Sppf and its character limits.

    Also, enjoy the chapter.

    Chapter 17: Shifting the Balance

    Dorbickmon sat on the throne in the great hall of the Lupolford town hall. It was dark except for the wall torches that provided light along the stone sides of the long room. He ran his clawed fingers along the detailed ornamentation of the throne, sliding it along its gold facets and a crimson corundum at the end of the chair’s arm.

    I wonder how much this thing would sell for…?” he mused to himself, looking down at the throne he rested on. “That Anubismon must have had a fair amount of money to get this. Pity he squandered it all before he was killed; we could have used it for our own purposes.

    His train of thought was interrupted when the double doors at the end of the hall creaked loudly upon being pushed open. Dorbickmon looked up and stood to his feet. He saw two figures walk in. The first was DarkKnightmon and the one behind him was a Digimon that he didn’t recognize.

    The red dragon man walked down the three steps and made his way across the marble floor towards them. “Is this that friend you mentioned?” Dorbickmon asked DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “This is MirageGaogamon. He’s the former Captain of the Royal Knights’ Defence Forces. He helped me when I rebelled,” he explained.

    “Oh, that’s right…” Dorbickmon spoke, thinking back. “I remember reading that you had an accomplice.”

    “Who is this, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked suspiciously, leering at Dorbickmon.

    “He’s the one I mentioned who freed me from the Dark Area,” DarkKnightmon informed him. “Dorbickmon’s a useful ally.”

    “I hope I can be,” Dorbickmon remarked, reaching out his hand towards MirageGaogamon.

    MirageGaogamon eyed his hand suspiciously, but reached out and clasped it. He looked up at Dorbickmon. “Why do you want to help DarkKnightmon?”

    “I have a score to settle with Examon, one of the new Royal Knights,” Dorbickmon explained, looking him in the eyes as he shook his hand.

    “Not a very noble cause,” MirageGaogamon said, releasing his hand.

    “Yeah, well, I’m not a very noble guy,” Dorbickmon responded. He paused. “Neither is Examon, for that matter. That’s why it makes my blood boil to see him a part of a holy, benevolent group like the Royal Knights. If only they knew the truth…”

    “What exactly did he do to you?” MirageGaogamon asked curiously.

    DarkKnightmon spoke up. “As far as I’m concerned, it matters not why you want to help us, Dorbickmon. I’m already in your debt for helping me to escape.”

    “Good. I’m willing to go along with whatever you want, just as long as you leave Examon to me. A cut of the spoils wouldn’t go amiss either,” Dorbickmon told him, a twinkle in his violet eyes. “I’m a simple guy of simple wants.”

    “I’m glad to hear that. We should be able to work together smoothly,” the dark knight assured him.

    “What’s our first course of action, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked sharply.

    “I have a few things planned,” DarkKnightmon replied. “First and foremost should be intelligence gathering. Since MirageGaogamon and I have been imprisoned for the past several years, I need to know what’s changed and I need to know more about these new Royal Knights.”

    “I’ve got that covered,” Dorbickmon explained. “I know a guy who’s good at gathering information. He’s how I found out about Examon. I did some research on the other knights while I was at it. RhodoKnightmon, UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon, Duftmon, Sleipmon, and Examon are the ones you don’t know, right?”

    “That’s right,” he informed him. “We can focus on that later. What we shouldn’t do is face all eleven Royal Knights head on. That would just be reckless and foolish. I want to split them up into more manageable groups and take them down one by one.”

    “How are you gonna do that? They’re probably planning to send the whole Order after you,” Dorbickmon noted.

    “I’ll get the mercenary teams attack some of the Free Area states at the same time; just to get their attention and scatter as they approach. That will divert and separate the Royal Knights as they go to deal with all of the attacks. That will make the remainder easier to deal with.”

    “What if they’re so focused on finding you that they send the Strike Forces of the Order to deal with them instead?” Dorbickmon asked.

    “Hmm…” DarkKnightmon considered his question pensively. “Shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve dangled a bit of bait.”

    “Yeah?”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “When we were walking away from the prison, MirageGaogamon noticed that a mechanical insect had been following us.”

    “You mean a Digimon?” Dorbickmon asked, arching an eyebrow.

    “No, but it was made by a Digimon. It had some sort of tracking system installed in it,” DarkKnightmon explained. “I destroyed it, and the some of the Royal Knights will naturally come to investigate the area of its destruction. That’s where we’ll make our first offensive.”

    “I’ll leave it to you. Strategy’s not really my thing,” Dorbickmon said with a wave of his hand. “Just as long as we don’t get overwhelmed. Should I go get my notes on the Knights?”

    “Please,” DarkKnightmon said, nodding at Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon nodded. “Okay,” he said. He glanced at MirageGaogamon. “Nice meeting you. By the way, don’t go near the dark rift back there. Still having trouble closing it.”

    MirageGaogamon watched him silently as Dorbickmon walked towards the back of the great hall, disappearing out one of the doors. When he was gone, the former Captain turned to DarkKnightmon.

    “Do you trust him, Sir?” he asked suspiciously.

    “I trust him for as long as our goals go hand-in-hand,” DarkKnightmon replied. “And that’s good enough for me. Loyalty isn’t free, after all.”

    “It is when it comes to me and you, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him, somewhat defensively.

    DarkKnightmon smiled. “It reassures me to hear you say that, Captain. You know you can trust me, as well.”

    “I know.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded and placed his hand on MirageGaogamon’s shoulder. “Let me show you where the war room is. Then we can strategize about how to get the Royal Knights out of their castle.”

    -

    (Continued in the next post.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014

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