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Digimon: Unholy Crusade

TheSequelReturns

Faithful Crusader
< Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon) >
Highton, Valeron


Yes, there it was. All the problems, laid bare. Svarog acting like a spoiled child. Michael cleverly dodging questions without providing any actual answers. Thor, so quick to judge and lecture but so unwilling to step up himself. And, of course, himself. Svarog was actually right about one thing. Henry had no business leading this group. The others yes. He could lead a rag-tag group of adventurers any day. The problem was with the three standing in front of him now.

"If you can't, we'll find another way," Thor said. "But this isn't something you're doing for me, or Michael, or Svarog. You're doing this for them." He glanced over to the rest of the Guardians, most of whom were desperately trying to look busy.

"If you want to give orders, do so. I will speak up if I disagree," Thor said. "But don't hold your tongue and then complain that no one gave you the chance to speak."

Or, in other words, Thor wanted to backseat drive. To avoid the burden of making the wrong call while still judging the calls made. To avoid the pressure of deciding while maintaining the right to throw his weight around.

"Yes, I'm sure it would have done wonders to step up in the moment after you three had approached, all but declared yourselves as the leaders, made your demands, and got everyone riled up, including Svarog, without so much as a backwards glance. Maybe I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt or maybe I wanted to spare you the embarrassment of having a runt like me call you out in front of everyone." He waved the thought away dismissively. "Doesn't matter. Its past now."

The pirate let out a long sigh. "Look mate, you and I come from different worlds. You're some kind of god-king, I'm a mortal with a distaste for authority figures. We aren't going to see eye to eye and we aren't going to agree on how to do things. If the three of you," he gestured vaguely to Thor, Michael, and the empty space Svarog had occupied moments ago, "had been normal members of my crew back in the day, I'd have ditched your sorry backsides at the next port and that would have been a mercy. But this isn't a ship and I'm not your captain."

"Svarog was right about one thing. I'm not fit to lead you three. Not here, not like this, not in the way you seem to want to be lead. Them," he waved back towards the other Guardians, "I can handle. And you can bet that fancy sword of yours I'd take a bullet for any of them. Except Samael, but that's beside the point. When I'm faced with a stronger enemy, someone like the Knights who have almost every natural advantage over us, I don't react. Reacting gets you killed. If all we do is move to counter whatever they did last, we will absolutely lose this war. So I prod the map, I look for anything at all that might give us an edge. Any way at all that we might make them react to us for a change. Its messy, its risky, and honestly its not warfare. But that's what I know. If Svarog wants to march to war at the head of an army, if either of you want to meet the knights honorably on the fields of battle and shuffle pieces around the chessboard then I can't help you. I don't play chess, I slip a gun under the table so that the game hardly matters."

"But if neither of you are capable of standing up to look after the rest of the Guardians, then I'm the best you've got. If you're going to reject my way of doing things and insist on making war the way that you know, then there's not much difference between you second guessing my calls and making the calls yourself, if you ask me. And our stakes in this fight are bad enough without the strongest among us pulling us in different directions."

Before anything else could be done or said, some of the tamers approached.

"We're sorry to interrupt," Hoshiko said. "But you need to see this." She held up her Digivice, projecting Shula's message in holographic form for them to read. "Shula's... I don't know what she's thinking, but she's headed to Greystone."

"We don't know how she's travelling, but she's potentially heading right into danger there," James added. "What should we tell her to do? Turn back to Axis Mundi? Or wait for us?"

Henry looked back at Michael and Thor for a moment before turning back to the tamers. "I said we'd be going to Greystone next, and I'm a man of my word. If we're all in agreement, tell them to meet us there."
 

Solsabre

The Reforged Soul
Tessa Tesla (Wisemon)
Tamer Camp



"What is that picture?" A booming voice high above startled Tessa from her thoughts.

The little mage titled her hooded head up to see the massive Boltmon glancing down her with great curiosity. Tessa scratched the back of her head sheepishly. The Wisemon was so absorbed in her books, she hadn’t realized where she’d made herself comfortable.

Tessa glanced back at the book to see which picture the Boltmon was referring to. She placed a hand to her chest where a growing ache of longing resided before delicately touching the photo. The Tesla family was sitting in a grassy glade surrounded by orange and red colored trees. Toddler Tessa sat in an Angewoman’s lap happily munching on food, while an older wisemon in the picture entertained the other two with animated illusions. “My parents took me for a picnic in the forest near my home. They wanted to enjoy the changing colors of the autman leaves while we ate. I was just a wee Gummymon at the time.”

The female mage glanced up at Stein with a sad smile in the depths of her hood. “It’s my last and clearest memory of my mother, before she had to return to Eden.”

Tessa might have said more, but she was at loss. She hadn’t thought about Suriel this much for a long time. The driving need to under the gift she inherited from her mother had dredged up the long held desire to see to the Angewoman again and wish to understand the world her mother came from and return too.

Theo Grayson

Theo had been stunned, when the Omnimon appeared mid clash with Svarog. No wonder the tamers here felt secure and confident in holding their ground. A wave of relief came over the older greymon with this new knowledge. While the tamers overall were young and still new to Saga, some were finally strong enough to stand up for themselves. The Guardians could finally turn their eyes to Greystone now.

However, as it turned out, a few matters needed to be settled first.

Theo crossed his arms as he stood back a short distance behind Henry, listening intently, but otherwise keeping silent. He didn’t want to heedlessly stumbled into the heated argument and make things worst for the pirate. The old soldier offered to help Henry in any way he could. For Odin’s sake, the Guardians needed a few of them to cooperate to function in some sort of fashion.

So, Theo intended to keep that promise.

Hoshiko and James cautiously approached the small cluster of Guardians with concerned looks.

"We're sorry to interrupt," Hoshiko said. "But you need to see this." She held up her Digivice, projecting Shula's message in holographic form for them to read. "Shula's... I don't know what she's thinking, but she's headed to Greystone."

"We don't know how she's travelling, but she's potentially heading right into danger there," James added. "What should we tell her to do? Turn back to Axis Mundi? Or wait for us?"

The pirate looked back at Michael and Thor for a moment before turning back to the tamers. "I said we'd be going to Greystone next, and I'm a man of my word. If we're all in agreement, tell them to meet us there."

Theo took that moment to finally step forward. “Agreed, but I must point out we can’t afford, as a group, to make the same mistake at Greystone as we did here. Not if we wish to convince Greyvald to reconsider his choice. We must agree on a single spokesperson for this purpose.” Theo turned to Thor calmly, hoping to reason with the Odinson. “I don’t believe our trip out here was a wasted effort. We know more than we did before, that there are tamers with the strength to stand up to the Knights on their own, perhaps an ally to call upon later. Plus, there is a secondary location available for refugees.”

“Missions and objectives can and will change as the need arises. Protect the Tamers. Stop the Knights. We cannot bind ourselves strictly to one such objective. The Guardians lack the cohesion to do that effectively. Our best chance to gain ground against the Knight is as Henry said to consider all our options and use every advantage we have. Each Guardian will have to act on their strengths, ” Theo said, as he glanced around, “and be willing to be flexible to do what needs to be done. Perhaps some of us more than others. “ Theo gestured to himself. He could help cover the group’s overall weakness as needed, in battle or otherwise. “We are a team, even if we don’t act like it yet, but somehow we must make it work.”

The BlackWarGreymon sighed, “though I pray we don’t get desperate enough to allow Samael to have his way of doing things.”

It was going to be difficult. Could the Guardian finally succeed and not blunder their way through every struggle? Theo was choosing to hope they could. He didn’t care to think of the alternative.

Greystone. He hadn’t been to the capital city of the greymon in years. Not since the last visit he made there, with Kyle, two summers ago. In a sense, he was going home, though not technically true. His home of Grey Haven rested snug in the hills just shy of two hours west of the Greymon city. Only time would tell how well his presence would be received.
 
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Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Serra Castiel (Beelstarmon) >

Serra raised an eyebrow at the outburst but waved Hoshiko off. "Sure sure, I get it," she said warily. "Danger this-and-that. Fun stuff. But, you know, think about it, cupcake."

She strode past and knocked the back of her hand against Thor's armor. "Let's go, your highness," she said teasingly. "Before your sword starts getting heavy again." She hoped that injection of levity would cut some of the Asgardian prince's "woe-is-me" away. He was holding himself together well enough, but Serra was good at reading his type, and she could tell he was practically seething.

She'd done her best to ignore what was going on between him and Henry in those last few minutes -- hard as that was -- but she had to imagine there were very few Digimon around who could speak to him that way. Casually, scoldingly, in a way that made him feel both brutishly inept and impossibly small all at once.

Way to go, Peg-leg, she thought to herself with a wry smile. He was a bit more stone-faced that she was used to with pirates, but if Thor and Michael were putting him in charge of this mess she couldn't really blame him.

"You're dawdlin'!" she shouted over the growing whine of their ship's engines. She stopped at the threshold, purposefully ignoring Samael's skulking in the far shadows of the dropship's interior, and turned back to the group. She watched all the myriad of emotions flutter across the faces of this crew of "Guardians" -- all at war with one another just as much as they were with the Royal Knights.

God. If they only knew. It'd take just a tiny push to unravel them where they stood. If the Royal Knights ever found how close they were to that, or if someone ever pointed them in the right direction…

"We'd be screwed," she muttered to herself. She turned her back to them once more and settled into her seat, finally deigning to look Samael's way. And for once, she found that he didn't have his eyes on her, but was instead watching the Guardians with a black-eyed intensity. It was the same look she'd seen in his eyes a hundred times before, the look that told her he was figuring out exactly the thoughts that had crossed her mind.

He couldn't help it, of course. It was his very nature to figure out the way things worked and then...break them. Whether that was through force or keen observation. Insight. His keen edge had been what caused her to overlook all his horrible natures all those years earlier when she first…

But she wasn't that same woman anymore. She'd learned from him, yes. But she'd grown beyond him, too. That was his curse, the neverending sameness. Hers was entirely different.

His three eyes met hers and a wicked, knowing grin cut its way across his pale features. Another shared moment between them. Another thing she'd rather forget. Another reason to drink.

By then, the rest of the Guardians had made their way back onto the dropship and settled into their previously-occupied seats. Because of course they would. None of those proud, lofty, idiots would ever do anything to let the others know they'd been bothered by their feather-ruffling.

"Where we headed next, back to Axis Mundi?" the Stingmon captain called down from the cockpit. Henry relayed the plan to move to Greystone, and Serra noticed the almost-audible way Thor and Michael restrained themselves from answering in kind. "Oof. That's 2500 miles away," the Stingmon grimaced. "Gonna be tough to make any decent time. Best I can do is three-and-a-half hours if we really push it. But I dunno what shape she'll be in after that."

With a few more moments of smattering discussion and assurances, the ship lifted into the air and was on its way.

Serra glanced across the assembly of Digimon and humans. Brow-creased Michael, arm-crossed Thor, glowering Svarog, exhaustedly annoyed Henry, and the rest looking like they'd rather be anywhere else but in the middle of it all.

"So do we have a plan this time?" Serra dared to ask, leaning forward. "Or are we gonna do the whole 'shout over each other and then at each other' bit every time we try something?"
 

Solsabre

The Reforged Soul

Theo Grayson (BlackWarGreymon)
Enroute to Greystone



Theo sat in the same seat beside Samael deliberately, ignoring the smoldering eyes burning into his skull. Tensions were running high throughout the ship’s cabin. It was impossible to miss.

"So do we have a plan this time?" Serra dared to ask, leaning forward. "Or are we gonna do the whole 'shout over each other and then at each other' bit every time we try something?"

“Dare I ask what we missed,” Andrea asked, indicating herself, Deneb, and Aria. “I only saw the Omnimon duking it out with Sir Flames-a-lot from a distance,” jerking her thumb in Svarog’s direction.

“Later,” Theo interjected with a wave of his claws. His eyes met Andrea’s with the promise to fill her in private.

“I’ll do it,” the old soldier volunteered, scanning the reactions of the group. “I’ll speak for the group when we get to Greystone.”

He’d spoken up without really thinking about it. Theo knew he’d been dragging his heels from the beginning, agonizing over the impossibility of their chances and even nearly walked out. He’d wanted to make up for that too much.

"Oh? And what will you offer with your dithering ineptitude?" Svarog snarled to Theo.

"Oh, shut up." Aria said. "I've had about as much as I can take of the ego measuring contest. I don't care if you are a god, be helpful or be silent."

Henry sighed. "On that note, before we decide on a speaker, does anyone have any history in Greystone we should know about? Good or otherwise? Particularly if it relates to this Raegin fellow."

“Greysvald was a great warrior in his prime. Very proud.” Theo commented, claws laced together in thought under his chin. “It does not surprise me one bit that he declared for the Royal Knights so quickly. It would be humiliating to a warrior’s pride to end up on the losing side of a conflict. Thor was correct when he stated we must present the greatest of our strengths and convictions before Greysvald to win back his support.” “Attention will be drawn to me simply because I am a fellow greymon and a recognised citizen under the governship of Greystone by virtue of my last name. This is why I volunteered to speak for us before Greysvald.” Theo said, “but it will be the combined merits of us all to sway him.

“Maybe the flower should stick to tending her gardens before speaking of ‘helpful,’” Svarog growled.

“Great. And how are we going to sway old man greymon?” Asked Serra. “Let’s say Theo does talk to this guy? What does he actually say to get this guy back on board?” “Probably something simpering and holding back tears,” Svarog snapped.

“Okay, then what do you say to him?” Serra asked. Then before Svarog even opened his mouth, she added, “And don’t say fight him.”

Henry motioned towards Thor. "I believe you said before that Raegin needed to see strong convictions from those who oppose the Knights. Specifically, the tamers. Do you stand by that?"

“Yes, but that won’t be all he needs,” said Thor. “It’s not just their strength. The Greystone people are straightforward. Uncomplicated. They care more about the ability to win fights and battles than they do the nuances of your arguments. They respect lineage and tradition.”

"That's probably why Lancelot went to Greystone," Svarog grumbled. "No grand gestures, no flowery orating. Just power and an inspiring presence to rouse them and call them to arms."

Henry nodded sternly. "That's going to be the challenge then. How exactly are we supposed to present more power, more pressence, more noble might and winning shine, than Sir Lancelot himself?"

"Should we polish our armor?" Stein asked.

"If you go to Greystone with polished armor you'll be laughed out of the keep," Thor said. "I met Greysvald once, I believe, but that was nearly 50 years ago when he was a child hiding behind his father's armor and playing at sword fights. But Greystone doesn't change. It hasn't changed in nearly 500 years. They still haven't adopted even the base technology of the other kingdoms."

"And you want this morose sonovabitch to speak for us?" Samael waved to Theo. "The dude who's done nothin' but mope and cry into his nonalcoholic beer since we started on this murder-mission? This is the guy that's gonna inspire the Greymon to switch sides?" Samael crossed his arms behind his head and kicked out his feet. "**** you'd have better luck shining your armor."

Theo narrowed his eyes ever so slightly, but the older Greymon kept his emotions in check. He couldn’t deny the demon spawn’s point. His previous actions didn’t back up his current willingness to try. Nadia was right when she said he’d have to let his actions do the talking for him from here on out.

Don’t listen to that idiot. He’s never seen the extent of your strength.

Our strength. Theo corrected Kyle silently.

True. But I know you could make it your own if you wanted to.

"He's got a point." Aria leaned forward in her seat to look down the asile towards Thor. "Do you think Greysvald would remember you? If you made a strong impression on him as a child it might help our case."

Thor furrowed his brow in concentration, then sighed. "I can't say. I'm sure he knows of me," he said with a strange mix of distaste and acceptance. "But I wouldn't have given a child much more than a passing glance if my father hadn't decided to lecture me on my behavior when visiting dignitaries were present."

"Ok, your dad was important, we get it," Samael said, rolling his eyes. "'No' would've been enough there."

“Whoever it is, that speaks for us,” Theo said evenly. “Greysvald is older than me. He has not participated in combat for sometime himself and never on a scale we face. Stir his warrior spirit. Ask him what he wishes his legacy to be. Remind him of what it is like to raise his sword against a worthy foe. To test his strength and that of the Greymon against the known might of the Royal Knights. Challenge him to take up the fight that we -Theo nodded to each of the tamers and their partners-that they have dared to do.” “Sometimes we just have to be reminded.

"Great. Again, who's that gonna be?" Serra asked, clearly agitated. "'sit gonna be you? Because let's start working on that speech of yours now."

"I will do it." Theo said resolutely, even though his own self-doubt lingered at the back of his mind again with the others questioning his commitment.

"I am fine with it." Andrea chimed in. "He represents tamers and their partners, because he is one of us."

“You think Greysvald gives a damn?” Svarog grumbled to Andrea. “Great. Let’s hear it. Convince me,” Serra deadpanned,

"This one couldn't rally a war host if I wrote the speech for him," Svarog snapped.

"Didn't know you could write," Samael drawled. "Good for you."

"I ah..." Theo said somewhat taken back. " Right, well.." he was quiet for a moment as he thought out his words.

A ghostly hand rested on his knee. You can do it…

“Get this puttering out of your system,” Svarog snapped. “If you make these sounds at Greystone, so help me Rod, I’ll break off your horns.”

"I'll be sure to use that as motivation then." Theo said drily. Deneb snickered in the background.

“Is this a task you’re up for, boy?” Svarog asked, his voice lacking any of his typically-derisive tone. “No shame in saying so now, before we get into anything.”

“Eh. Little bitta shame,” Samael sang from the back.

“Tsk,” Svarog clicked his teeth in annoyance. “We can always let gun-leg talk to them.”

Theo was silent for a long minute, his resolve weakening with hearing the doubt from the others and his own troubling memories of his partner stirring. He then reluctantly admited, “Perhaps, not, as much as I would prefer to say otherwise.”

You could have done it. I know you could have. You turned me around and set me straight. Theo risked a glimpse at the ghost figure by his knee out of the corner of his eye, reluctant to acknowledge the data appreciation with so many around him.

You were different. You were my partner. “You were my son.” Theo muttered under his breath, hoping no one heard him.

Watch their backs. Bring them home. An older voice echoed from his memories. The recollection of a strong claw hand, belonging to a WarGreymon X, clasped his shoulder encouragingly.

You’re stronger than you think, Theo. Both voices echoed in harmony. You wouldn’t have endured the darkness for this long if that wasn’t the case.
 

TheSequelReturns

Faithful Crusader
Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon)
Airship Enroute to Greystone


“Great. I’ll talk to them,” said Samael. “And by that, I mean I’ll shoot them if they don’t agree.”

The thought that Samael would make a great pirate sailed across Henry’s mind, and not for the first time.

"If it's not too presumptuous of me," Michael began, glancing at Henry. "Perhaps he should speak on our behalf." He nodded over to James and Artanis.

Henry nodded approvingly and turned to face the tamer.

James nodded. "That makes sense. We're," he gestured to indicate Hoshiko and Andrea, "the reason for all this. And if we just stand behind a Digimon and let them speak, I'm sure Greysvald will notice just like Mimi did." "I suspect he would indeed," Artanis mused. "But we ought to speak together. Though the Akilae left Greystone long ago, we are still fellow Greymon and we bear a proud lineage and tradition."

"I was...Hm," Michael muttered awkwardly. "I was thinking just of Artanis for this, but that might not be entirely the wrong idea..."

"The cause we are arguing for is that of cooperation between humans and Digimon, is it not?" Artanis replied. "One human and one Digimon, Tamer and partner, encapsulates that ideal. If we stand before Greysvald side by side, then it will indicate our conviction to such unity even before words are spoken."

"And then we talk," James continued. "Like Theo said, we stir his warrior spirit. We talk about defiance in the face of an implacable enemy, of fighting to the last breath even though it seems hopeless. Perhaps we ask how he would act if he was in our place? Would that work, do you think, Theo?"

"Hmm," Thor mumbled under his breath before Theo could voice his thoughts. "I'd caution you against appealing to an old Digimon's willingness to change -- we're notoriously stubborn." He was silent for a moment. "But that's as good a plan as we've come up with so far."

"It is a valid concern," Theo conceded, scratching his chin in thought. "We do want to challenge Greysvald's warrior spirit, but we can’t count on that alone. The Council’s original appeal to Greysvald failed, when he changed his mind after the initial round of battles with the Knights. That tells us that His Highness will not put himself in a position of weakness. We must present ourselves as the Guardians’ alone. Digimon and humans from all walks of life.”

“But perhaps, first we demonstrate to him of our conviction. Second, try to have him see it from the tamers and their partners’ perspective, but we do not ask him to ally with us. Not just yet.” Theo paused for a moment. “Rather ask him to wait on committing his forces. To let him see that we can overcome the Knights in our next battle. We’ve already demonstrated the ability to match them in a stalemate or to walk away only to be battle ready short there after again.” “It is a gamble, but it might buy us some time.”

"Or it could only cement him choosing the Knights over us," Hoshiko countered. "Look at it from his perspective. If we walk into his throne room and ask him to sit on the fence a while longer, what does it say about us? That we lack confidence in our ability to face the Knights. That we're stalling for some alternative." She shook her head. "We can't present a front of certainty and conviction just to undermine it by bargaining for more time and come across like we're scrambling to find an out to the situation."

“Agreed.” Henry said. “We can’t take a weak position here.” That would be like walking to parley without a pistol. You’re just asking to be taken advantage of.

“The Council’s appeal failed because Greysvald is a coward,” Svarog said absently. “He turned at the first sign of trouble, yet he venerates the Council enough for their mere presence in Greystone to earn his initial allegiance. This means we need to show him he is a coward. Make him realize that.”

“Or he’s just a liar and tricked the Council,” Serra suggested. “Greymon don’t have the subtlety for deception.”

Svarog waved her off. “I bet it’s been so long since he raised his sword that he forgot what it even felt like in his hands; what it felt like to cleave his enemy from groin to throat; forgot the smell of blood and the taste of ash in the air.”

“Yeah but I don’t think Big Boss Greymon would take a talking down to from Artanis very well,” Serra muttered.

Henry nodded. "If this is going to work at all, we'll need presence and confidence. No one will believe a word we're saying unless we believe it ourselves. And no one sitting on a throne will feel obliged to listen to anyone who can't at least look them in the eyes." He mused over his thoughts for a moment. All these political ramblings were making his head spin. Whatever happened to a clam exchange of terms and occasionally bullets? "What of a biomerge? Would that get the point across or would that only risk his prejudice?"

“You’re getting stuck on the specifics,” Thor said. “Even if they do Biomerge, what does that gain us? Will it solidify any of our positions? Svarog is right.”

“Terrifying ****ing words,” Samael muttered loudly.

Thor gnashes his teeth in irritation but went on. “We need to the tear down Greysvald’s decision as cowardice and counter to the traditions of Greystone, while at the same time inspiring the rest of Greystone’s populace. Greysvald will cave to that pressure.”

"If that's what it boils down to, then maybe Svarog should be the one to talk to him." Aria said. "I don't think any of us could so convincingly call a Greymon king a coward."

"He's also the only one with any claim of authority over them," Thor said. "Even if Greystone doesn't worship the gods of the Council...Svarog is still the son of Iroas Rod. Not an outsider king like me, or a paladin beholden to an unseen god like Michael...Svarog is the one and only son of Iroas, the god who sacrificed his life for the Digimon of our world. A god of honorable combat and war. Svarog's words as his son will carry weight...but...showing them the face of their supposed 'enemy' can do just as much."

Thor mulled this silently for a moment. "Maybe they both speak. Svarog first, then Artanis and James," Thor said. "Svarog speaking only to Greysvald, as if he were a child --"

"He is a child," Svarog grumbled.

"Ignore everyone else there," Thor continued. "Show them you know this was Greysvald's personal decision. They are not at fault for avoiding a larger conflict." He turned to Artanis. "Then you two step in. Soften the blow to the rest of the populace. Speak to them as well as Greysvald. Show them the strength of your bond, and your conviction -- don't over-flower it, they're Greymon, after all. But entreat the part of them that knows right from wrong, that fights for honorable things."

"Oh, Oh!" Tessa suddenly chimed in, waving her hand excitedly. "I've got a few spells that can help amplify their voices- pointing a dainty hand at James and Artanis- to cover a greater area with clarity. We want to make sure as many Greymon get our message, right?"

“Let’s try to avoid too much theatrics,” Henry cautioned. “We’re diplomats, not performers.” He looked at Artanis’s small form for a moment. “But a decibel or two couldn’t hurt I suppose.”

“Are those heavier than dumbbells?” Stein whispered to Tessa.

Aria clapped her hands. “So we actually have a plan to avoid trouble this time?”

Henry crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. “Trouble still has a way of showing up. We should make sure that we’re prepared for anything, including the chance that we end up fighting at Greystone. We may fail to convince them. They might not even give us the chance. We can’t anticipate every possibility, but we should at least all be on the same page in case things go south.”

“If I’m picking up anything from this discussion,” Aria said, “It’s that if we turn tail and run from Greystone we can kiss the greymon goodbye. If we get attacked here, we have to stand and fight or the whole trip over here will have been a waste of time.”

Henry tipped his hat towards Aria and she rolled her eyes at him. “I’m with the lass on this one. Hell or high water, we’re in this one to win it. That said, we have to be smart about it. The last thing we need is to make Greystone another Kaladesh.”
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Michael Ha'Yisrael >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


The Grey Keep of Greystone was hewn from the mountains themselves, carved into the landscape over centuries with nothing more than Greymon claws and grit. It sat upon a high plateau -- an artificial one, created by the Greymon themselves as they cut down four of the highest mountains in the region. The stone was as grey as the name called for, speckled with bits of red and brown from the strange volcanic earth. Roads leading up to the fortress were hard and steep, worn through the centuries rather than purposefully paved.

The castle itself was not an ornate structure. It was a massive, six-sided slab of stone, like an enormous Brave Shield. The walls were imposing and high, bare of any ornamentation save for the roughly-carved effigies of AncientGreymon at the corners where the sides met. The only break in the stone walls came from the giant, angular gateways on each side. A steaming waterfall cascaded down from where the fortress met the unhewn mountainside, bubbling up from a mountainside hotspring.

The land itself was a strange combination of arid and dusty, and swelteringly humid. Most of the volcanoes in the region had long since gone dormant, but pockets of magma heated underground springs and jettisoned steam into fissures that grew lush pockets of foliage.

Their Stingmon pilot touched down on the outskirts of the Keep and the Guardians disembarked. Michael could feel eyes on them from the moment their transport landed. Dozens of Greymon appeared from the parapets and ramparts, watching them curiously as they made their way towards the large gate in front of them.

A pair of MetalGreymon stood guard at the gate and closed ranks as they approached. The Guardians assembled behind Henry as he made their introductions, but Michael could already see the two guards start to consider blocking their way. Henry was a good speaker, but that was the problem; he spoke too well, used too many words, he was every part the slick-talker that Greymon distrusted and thought little of.

"Move aside," said Svarog, pushing his way forward, but he stood next to Henry this time rather than pushing past him. "We're here to see your king. Or are you going to try and stop me?"

Straightforward. Challenge. Violence. All things the Greymon understood. The two guards nodded and stepped to the side before leading their group into the wide courtyard at the center of the fortress. Greymon of all sorts lined the castle and courtyard walls, watching them carefully and glancing frequently to the other side where the castle emerged into the courtyard through a similar large doorway.

There were a few tense minutes of silence.

"Think this idiot is gonna show his face?" Samael murmured (though not particularly quietly). Svarog shot him an loud and obvious scoff of irritation, plain for the entirety of the Greymon to see.

"It makes sense to have us wait," Thor said, glancing around at the other Digimon. "It puts us on edge and at his whim. He's a king after all, and not one to be called upon."

"It looks like we'll be able to do this peacefully," Michael said. He nodded to the Digimon around them. "These are guards and fighters, yes, but not girded for all-out battle. There would be more high-level Greymon if they were looking to fight us. These Digimon would just be collateral damage."

"How pragmatic of you," Serra muttered, fixing him with a sour glare. But Michael chose to ignore her.

The groaning of the massive stone doors leading from the castle put a stop to any growing bickering in their ranks. Raegin Greysvald emerged, flanked on both sides by his guard of Ultimate-Level Greymon. Greysvald was clad in the typical copper-red and gold armor of his EmperorGreymon species, and wore an ornate indigo cape edged in golden and silver thread. His golden-edged sword was held ceremoniously by one of the following guards, who knelt at Raegin's side with the sword presented to him.

"I hear I've been summoned," Greysvald said with obvious disdain. He stood at the top of the courtyard steps and glared down at the Guardians at the center. "You understand why I was surprised. My message to the Council should have made it clear where our allegiances stand."

"Your message made it clear that you are a coward," Svarog snarled. He stepped to the front of the group and fixed Greysvald with a look that could melt steel. "A day? It took you a whole damned day to tuck your scaly tail between your legs and run simpering to the Royal Knights for safety?"

"You dare!" one of the guards shouted.

"I'm not talking to you," Svarog boomed, his voice exploding across the courtyard. He fixed his eyes on Greysvald and pointed. "I'm talking to him. The one that's spitting on everything Greystone ever stood for. Greystone king-chiefs fought against horror after horror for half a millenia, but then you come along, and the moment you're forced to stand on your own and make a decision, you hide under your mother's skirts."

"How dare you speak of Greystone history," Greysvald snapped, he leaped into the courtyard and pointed accusingly at Svarog. The guard that held his sword scrambled after him and bowed deeply again. "What do you know of it? Who are you to--"

"I was there, you simpering child," Svarog said with a snarl. "I am Svarog, the son of Iroas Rod."

"Liar. Iroas died a thousand years ago," Raegin snapped, but his voice was beginning to become brittle. "No demigod son of his would--"

"And what if I am not just a demigod?" Svarog roared. The fires flared to life around him, forcing the Guardians to take a few steps back. Every torch and open flame within Greystone flared brighter, billowing to life and reaching feverishly towards Svarog. "What if I am more? What if I am the one and only full-blooded god born since the dawn of time? What if I am a god of fire and war?"

The fires abated slightly, but still glowed white hot. "Do my words reach you then, little king? Do they reach you as you hide behind your high walls?" Svarog challenged, as he strode forward to stand face-to-face with the Greymon chief. He stood half a head taller, making his display all the more effective. "Your people used to fight. I saw them fight, during all the black nights that fell across this world. But now, you corral them here and keep them from their birthright."

"I have chosen to align with the Royal Knights," Greysvald shot back angrily. "I have chosen the path that will keep our world safe against foreign invaders that--"

"You have chosen a path of cowardice that will keep you safe from ever having to make a difficult decision or face a powerful foe," Svarog snapped, and the fires in the castle burst angrily. "You have chosen to make children your enemies rather than finding the courage to stand against Galahad and his crusade."

"My decision in--"

"In fear!" Svarog interrupted. "In cowardice! Only after the fighting began and you saw that it would be hard. Is that the kind of king you are? Is that the kind of people you want to lead?"

"What? No. I--don't twist my actions and--" Greysvald stammered. He stepped back half a step, and Michael knew it was time. They had him.

"Oh, you twist them well enough," Svarog rumbled.

Michael turned to James and Artanis and nodded. "Now. Go, quickly," he said, urging them forward. "While he's on the back-foot. Ignore him and speak to the rest." Michael's eyes gazed over the assembled citizens of the Grey Keep watching them with rapt attention.
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
James Reeve
The Grey Keep, Greystone

James nodded in answer and took a step forward with Artanis at his side. Eyes snapped to his position, interrogating, challenging. Who is this human, they said. Would he dare to speak. WarGreymon, ShineGreymon, VictoryGreymon, MetalGreymon, RizeGreymon, Greymon, GeoGreymon and more, they all regarded him with fierce glares.

"Greymon of Greystone, I am James Reeve," he spoke as Svarog's rumbling died down. "Will you stand by while innocents suffer? Is that your way now, or is that a command from your king that you grit your teeth and bear? I did not come to this world to cause trouble or do you harm, I was invited here." The message on a computer screen, typed by an unknown hand. "And because I came to Saga, I met my closest friend." He indicated Artanis, who gazed across the ranks of Greymon as though regarding old comrades.

"I do not know you," the Agumon declared. "But I am Artanis Dawnflame of the Akilae." Murmurings and rumblings. "We are kin if distantly, separated by centuries. But I know well the spirit that burns in your breasts. Though I seek glory, I would not blame anyone for being cowed by the thought of fighting the Royal Knights. But as we understand above all, true courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquering of it. Your king has not conquered his fear and so he has led you down a craven path, standing by while injustice is perpetrated before your eyes. In bygone days, our ancestors, they could have chosen such and let countless horrors ravage Saga. But they steeled their hearts and dived into the fray, though they bled and died to see victory done and justice served!" He paused to cast his gaze about, meeting the eyes of each Greymon in turn.

"Even if you continue down this path," James continued, "Artanis and I will be there, fighting to the bitter end. Even if the whole world turns their back on what's right, even if the whole world tells us to move, we'll stand on the shore of the river of truth and we'll say 'no. You move.' Because to me, the bond humans and Digimon share deserves to exist, no matter what the Royal Knights say. I'm willing to lay my life on the line to protect it, me, just a human. All of us are." He indicated Artanis, then Hoshiko and Okatsu, Andrea and Deneb in turn before meeting the stare of a WarGreymon above. "Will you stay behind your walls and be complicit as honor and justice die outside them? Or will you stand to protect what's right, no matter how hard the fight may be?"

He let his challenge ring in the air.

-

Hoshiko Yukimura
The Grey Keep, Greystone

At another time, she might have been more excited to walk through Greystone's halls. The air was thick with history and tradition, honor and pride. The names of the king-chiefs appeared often in accounts of old wars, usually followed by their epic deeds. But now those warriors teetered on the edge of becoming enemies and all she could focus on was whether Svarog, James and Artanis could inspire them to hold firm in the face of fear.

She listened as James and Artanis made their speeches, reading the room with distant eyes. She wanted to say she was inspired, that his words lit a fire in her breast, but he spoke of laying down lives and it only reminded her of the lives she had lost already. Anand, his partner. Many more. Were Marcel and Chiyome gone too? And how many people had James lost along the way only to keep going with that damn smile and those fiery eyes?

Okatsu clung close to her side, offering James support with proud eyes, offering Hoshiko reassurance with her presence. The woman held her Digivice tight, unsure if danger loomed but ready to meet it should it arise.

Together they awaited an answer.
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Michael Ha'Yisrael >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Michael stood perfectly still as James's words echoed around the courtyard of the Grey Keep and then faded away. It was replaced by a deafening silence that lasted several long seconds, before soft murmurs began to rise in an ever-building chorus of discontent. He couldn't make out the words being spoken, or even the full sentiment, but the building noise and increasingly animated hand motions as the Greymon spoke with one another were surely a good sign.

Eventually, specific words became spoken loudly and often enough that Michael was able to make it out over the rest of the din. "Honor." "Justice." "Cowardly." They began to build and echo over the rest of the courtyard, and slowly, one-by-one, the chorus turned to jeers directed at Greysvald.

"No! No, listen to me!" Greysvald shouted, backpedaling a few steps before turning around the courtyard to speak to his people. "Listen! You all know this. We know this. The Royal Knights have told us of the ruination these humans will bring to our world."

"Ruination?" Svarog balked. He gestured towards James and Artanis. "Really? Them? These are the beings that have mighty Greystone quaking in fear and running to the Royal Knights for protection."

More mutterings and discontent.

"Stop!" Greysvald ordered, though only some obeyed. The rest continued talking among themselves, but even as things turned in their favor, Michael couldn't help but feel that something was…off.

"That's enough!" Greysvald shouted. "Remember what we've seen, how the Digimon we saved were corrupted by their humans before we removed them."

"Remove them?" Michael asked. His heart beat faster.

"Yes!" Greysvald declared. "Removed. Greystone is a kingdom free of human influence. We have returned them to their world. All of them. Before they could lead us down the path to ruination!"

"There you go using that word again," Svarog spat angrily. "As if it's been fed to you. As if you can only regurgitate what your Royal Knight masters have told you. As if you're too cowardly to think, or act, or speak for yourself.

"I speak for myself!" Raegin declared, he snatched his blade from his attendant's grasp, and leveled its point towards Svarog and James. He wavered the sword in his grasp, clearly uncertain who was the greater threat.

Michael frowned. That had escalated quickly. He glanced around the courtyard at the surrounding Greymon. They were on their guard; he noticed that now, but there were only a smattering of Mega level Greymon present. He counted -- two...three...that was it. Why was Greysvald so quick to take up arms and threaten them?

Unless…

"There are more of them," Michael muttered to himself. A cold dread settled over him. "It's an ambush."

"What did you say?" Samael asked absently, picking at the dirt under his claws.

"Ambush!" Michael shouted. But it was a moment too late. Two forms exploded from the stone beneath their feet, tornados of gold and black. They drilled into Thor and struck him with a screech of metal on metal. More forms burst from the stone floor beneath them, scattering the Guardians as they did.

There was a scrambling as they recovered and the surrounding Greymon opened fire upon them. Any notion that this was conceived entirely by the Greymon evaporated as the golden form of Sir Percival the Magnamon dropped from the sky and drove Stein into the ground.

Royal Knights.

An explosion ripped through the air, and Michael turned just in time to see Svarog land a crushing blow to Greysvald and send the Greymon king flying. The war god then leaped out of the way of a massive blast of power, James and Artanis tucked safely in his arms. Michael wheeled around to find the source of the blast, and his breath caught in his throat.

It was Lancelot. He strafed his cannon, following Svarog through the air. The war god dipped and wove around the beam with James and Artanis jostling in his grip. He tossed them gracelessly behind a column of stone, changed direction suddenly, and charged towards Lancelot with a roar. The white knight fired his cannon again, but Svarog swerved around and over the beam before igniting himself with fire and driving his body into Lancelot. There was a terrifying moment where it seemed Lancelot would be able to hold him back, but then the floor beneath the knight's feet gave way and Svarog's charge drove them into the castle chambers beneath the Grey Keep and sent fire billowing upwards.

Michael scrambled to make sense of the situation. Thor was at the receiving end of an assault from five Mega Greymon. Stein was nowhere to be seen. Artanis and James were somewhere amidst the smoke. That meant--

The other humans! He glanced around and saw Theo with his shield assembled in front of Andrea and Hoshiko, protecting them from stray fire. They were safe, for the moment -- at least until they could gather their wits about them and join the fighting. But a charging flash of red signaled Sir Bors arrival. His charge broke Theo's guard and sent him tumbling, and Dagonet followed with a strike that knocked him off his feet.

"Samael," Michael called out. He ignited his sword. "We need a way out. Clear a path."

A wicked grin cut its way across the demon's face. "Thought you'd never ask," he said. Then he vanished into the smoke, appearing only as a dark shape silhouetted against the flash of gunfire.

"Serra, help Thor," Michael said. He replayed the strike in his mind. Those were WarGreymon Dramon Killers -- that attack would have bypassed most armor and defenses Thor had even if he'd been given a chance to prepare and protect himself. And there were three other Greymon joining them.

Serra nodded and dashed into the chaos.

Michael slashed his blade against a charging Greymon and readied to attack another when a dark form rolled bodily across his path. Henry scrambled to his feet just as Sir Gawain appeared, and only just barely managed to deflect the thrusting point of the Royal Knight's rapier. Michael shot forward and bodied Gawain with a shoulder tackle, throwing him back.

"This is not good," he said, standing beside Henry as the pirate got to his feet. He brandished his glowing blade. Gawain had twisted through the air with catlike agility and landed in a graceful crouch. "I can't even see how many other Royal Knights are here."
 
Last edited:

TheCharredDragon

FOR THE [Fluffiest Fluff] CLICK HERE!
Kogoro Cadaceus & Morgan Cadaceus
Current Form: BlackGatomon -> DarkKnightmon
Outskirt of Greystone -> The Grey Keep, Greystone


Kogoro had initially occupied himself with asking what he could about the jet he, Morgan and Aunt rode in, but after seeing how the Digimon he was questioning was getting worn down, and that the Guardian, Hernandez, hadn't told them where they were going to specifically in Greystone, he stopped and asked just that. So it came as no surprise that the blonde woman had absolutely no particular destination in mind other than Greystone, which amused his aunt greatly. Because of that, he suggested the city near the Grey Kerp to gather information.

Also because of it being Greystone, he had suggested that Hernandez's partner, Rex, to gather it.

It was optinal after all. With Greystone standing with the Royal Knights, their stance against humans was clear so neither he nor Hernandez could go, especially since the reason they went to Greystone is because the Greymons were sending humans back. Also because of that, though there has been no official statements of isolation or lockdown, there was a good chance tbe citizens would be suspicious of anyone who wasn't a Greymon, especially if they weren't native to Greystone. Aunt could go since Grandmother came from there, but she was also the owner of the reasonably large shoping chain that was pro-human. But Rex wasn't. He was just like any other BlackAgumon in every way. So he had the highest chance of blending in, even as a Virus type. But he was Hernandez's partner, so he had expected to explain to her why he suggested that.

Instead, he only saw a moment of hesitation before she said, "All right."

That had been been thirty seven minutes and seven seconds ago, and still counting.

In that time, Aunt talked with both Hernandez and Snow, while the latter mostly caught up with what the woman has been doing recently. It seemed simple, but Kogoro knew that his aunt did it because, despite her not showing it, Hernandez still had subtle hints that she was worried about her partner. She was silent with a neutral face as opposed to the content and smiling face she had while they were travelling. Her eyes kept scanning the area and her breathing was controlled, lilely so she could hear better and control her heartrate.

Of course his aunt picked up on it as well and spoke to her. Not only did it keep her from going mad from worry, but Kogoro learned more information about the other Guardians. He shouldn't have been surprised that it was quite the varied group, from the Tamers to normal Digimon to even gods, demons and angels, but it still fascinated Kogoro that so many names from what was considered myth in Analog were real in Saga. It was also helpful for possible strategies to work around with when they regrouped with them, even if Hernandez didn't know the full capabilities of all her fellow Guardians.

There conversation stopped when, five minutes and twenty seconds later, Rex returned and reported what he could gather, though it wasn't much. All he could ascertain was that there has been an orderto destroy the Digivices of any and all humans that were within Greystone's juristiction, and there several cases of the Tamers' partners berserking before they were destroyed, which was particularly common if the Tamer was a child. Hernandez tensed at that particular piece of info, as he would suspect. Not that he was any better. That mere thought of being seperated from Morgan and Aunt was terrifying and made him want to fight even harder.

Just as they were about to discuss what to do next, Aunt perked up and looked to the skies and everyone was curious.

"Aunt?" he said.

"Is something wrong, Miss Zaza?" Snow said.

"Look up or you'll miss it," his aunt said.

And they did and they saw yet another Council issued jet fly by, straight for Grey Keep.

"Oh! That must be them!" Hernandez said, standing.

Then Snow said, tapping his chin, "By why are they not coming to meet us?"

"You forgot tell them where specifically we were going in Greystone we would be, didn't you?" Rex said, giving his partner a flat stare.

Hernandez had a shocked expression before turning sheepish. "Eh, whoops?"

Aunt just laughed. "No harm done," she said, grinning. "Let's catch up to them."

Everyone nodded and went back in, telling the pilot to head for Grey Keep. It wasn't too long before the large and, frankly, magnificent keep came into view, a grand building atop a plateau. However, Kogoro frowned.

"No guards?"

And then it happened. A gold blur came diving from the sky and straight into Grey Keep, followed by the sounds of explosions of all kinds.

"I doubt that that was Greymon sparring," Snow said.

Kogoro gritted his teeth.

"Can you airdrop us?!" Hernandez said.

"Uh, yes, but you—"

"Don't worry! Just do it! And as close to the ground as you can without getting hit!"

The pilot hesitated for only a moment before he said, "Roger!"

Hernandez went to the back and he and everyone else followed. As they waited for the door to lower completely, Kogoro said,

"Hernandez, Rex, there's a high chance of many equipped with Dramon Killers so try to stay away from them. Snow should tend to anyone injured. Otherwise, Snow should assist Aunt and I while we focus on Greymons with Dramon Killers and or provide assistance to those who need it." He paused to glance at each and every one of their small group. "Is everyone fine with that?"

As he hoped, everyone nodded immediately.

And he nodded back, pulling out his Digivice.

"Snow, Aunt, hold on to Morgan when he digivolves."

"Right."

"Gotcha."

He focused on his fellow Tamer. "Hernandez?"

She took out her Digivice with a grin. "Got it covered."

One more nod and he looked out their drop.

"Ready..."

There.

"Now!"

With that, Kogoro made Morgan digivolve into his DarkKnightmon form, and held onto him, along with Aunt and Snow. In his periphery, he saw Hernandez and Rex glow. Despite it being life or death, and that he knew they could it, Kogoro couldn't help but widen his eyes and look at the two became indescript form before combining and growing. When the light faded, what took their place was a Machinedramon that had bright blue eyes in its eye sockets. All of that took place in a second. And when that second, he focused on the enemies before him.

He cursed.

It wasn't just Greymons below them. Royal Knights were there. Most notably Gawain. That especially complicated things. But didn't change the plan. Instead, he assessed what he could see, where the enemies were, which allies were in danger, and the state of the terrain. He glanced at the Biomerged Machinedramon and their eyes locked. He nodded and they returned it.

Their group landed and sprang to action.

"Help Thor," Kogoro said, knowing that his power is one of the few that can match the Royal Knight's in sheer force.

"You got it!" Morgan brandished his lance. "Traitor Vortex!"

The large knight twirled his lance and fired at the Greymons attackingthe Imperialdramon, taking care not to aim at the BeelStarmon helping him. Meanwhile, he got off his partner and followed Snow, who was heading toward a Tamer and his Agumon.

"Here, just a little boost so you're at full blast," the Mistymon said as he did his job, healing the two of whatever injuries, however minor, they had.

With that done, Kogoro then said, his back to them as he focused on the surrouding chaos of battle, "We're here with Shula Hernandez."

After all, it was best they confirm it to their allies so that accidental friendly fire didn't happen. With that done, and now on the ground, he reassessed the situation. Hernandez and Rex had went to help Greyson, who seemed to have been protecting a Tamer pair, against Dagonet, having tackled him to, at the very least, stop him from following up on the prone BlackWarGrymon. Meanwhile Aunt had went to help Michael and Vane, absolute fury in her eyes that only abated briefly when she turned to the CaptainHookmon and MagnaAngemon, likely telling them they were here thanks to Hernandez, before going straight back to full alert, caution and rage.

Kogoro could only hope they could pull through this fight.

ooc: hopefully this is okay
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
James Reeve
The Grey Keep, Greystone


"Corrupted?" James echoed, eyes narrowing. He swept his arm to encompass all three present partner Digimon, noticing a cold pain in Hoshiko's eyes but putting it to one side as he turned his gaze back to Greysvald, letting Svarog retort before delivering his own answer. "You know this is-"

His prepared words shattered like the stone underfoot.

Artanis cried in alarm, moving to protect his partner as best he could all while Greymon exploded from beneath the ground. Ambush, Michael cried, but before James could do anything with it Svarog had him and Artanis in a tight grip after punching Greysvald away.

James wished he had the strength to do the same for a fleeting moment.

They weaved around a beam of power and James struggled to track its source, finding white, orange, blue. Lancelot.

Then he was crashing down atop stone, crying out with the force of the impact but mercifully untouched by Digimon attacks. He remained there for a moment, gathering himself as the din of battle drowned his thoughts. Svarog was gone as he wildly looked around, picking out his allies. He grasped for his Digivice, knowing Artanis couldn't contribute much to this chaos, hating it, but they had to do what little they could and he would have to cower. Theo shielded Hoshiko and Andrea for a moment before falling as not one but two Knights chose him as their target, then Hoshiko was gone in a flash of radiance and Okatsu rushed forward transformed.

"We must act," Artanis insisted, rising to his feet.

James nodded and held up his Digivice, but before he could activate it, Digimon were falling from the heavens. A DarkKnightmon moved to assist Thor as a Mistymon approached, a human who was likely his partner tailing just behind. James and Artanis tensed, but the Mistymon merely extended a hand.

"Here, just a little boost so you're at full blast," the Mistymon said as he did his job, healing the two of whatever injuries, however minor, they had.

With that done, Kogoro then said, his back to them as he focused on the surrouding chaos of battle, "We're here with Shula Hernandez."

"Shula?" James echoed, before smiling at the irony. They had come here to rescue her, only to be rescued by her, it seemed. His gaze found a Machinedramon facing Dagonet, making his smile widen, though he wondered where Hoshiko and Okatsu were. "Glad to see you guys."

"Your assistance is welcome, but now we have a battle to win," Artanis nodded, turning to James. The Digivice blazed orange and Artanis transformed in a spiral of code, RizeGreymon emerging with a roar. Even before James could move to ride him, the winged Greymon brought up his arm to aim at the MetalGreymon and RizeGreymon who had taken to the air to rain fire down upon the Guardians and the newcomers.

Even with their help, this wasn't over by any stretch.

-

Hoshiko Yukimura
The Grey Keep, Greystone


"Removed?" Hoshiko whispered, Okatsu's touch firm on her hand but not drowning out the cold anger that welled up. He didn't understand. They didn't understand. Marching in step with whatever nonsense the Royal Knights spoke, jumping at the shadows their words inspired. She shouldn't have been surprised, it only made sense to remove the Tamers if only to cement his course, but the callous way he spoke about it-

"Ambush!"

In an instant, her world turned to fire and conflict. Greymon surged on all sides as Theo threw himself to defend her and Andrea, after all, a stray attack could easily kill them. Shards of stone hailed around them from where the ambushers had exploded up, some falling against her hard enough to bruise. She stared around, picking out the faces. Lancelot falling out of view. Bors and Dagonet battering Theo to the ground. Gawain crossing blades with Michael.

Okatsu looked to her, but Hoshiko already knew and her Digivice was already in hand. Their minds brushed, touched, and the light poured from her hand.

"Biomerge, activate," she whispered.

In an instant the light engulfed them both in its icy glow, data forming the half-images of Garurumon X, then WereGarurumon X, and finally CresGarurumon exploded from the Biomerge with weapon at the ready. They tensed to strike at Bors and Dagonet, but a Machinedramon barrelled into the fray and tackled Dagonet. Something about it seemed familiar, and as Hoshiko glanced through Okatsu's eyes she spotted more Digimon seemingly joining the battle on their side, a Mistymon stood where Artanis took off with James on his back, a DarkKnightmon rushing to Thor.

She didn't have time to fully process them as a shadow emerged from the chaos of war. Barbed, towering, strong. White plate over purple scales, red eyes, fearsome claws. Dynasmon.

Caradoc.

"You were foolish to come here," the Royal Knight spoke to them. "Did you think you would sway Greysvald back when your record is nothing but defeat?"

"A record we will rectify," Okatsu answered, Hoshiko's voice an echo beneath her own. The Dynasmon narrowed his eyes.

"Sickening," he growled, and in an instant his fist flew towards them. Okatsu backpedalled, fast enough to stay a step out of reach, blade slashing at scales between the plates of his armor. She hurled a volley of icicles and he took them head on, letting them shatter on his body. He didn't bleed, didn't show any indication of pain. Caradoc was nothing short of a juggernaut, physical strength unmatched, his endurance epic in itself. "You allow a human to defile your very soul, to infest your very being."

"My partner and I are one," the CresGarurumon answered. "Would you speak thus of a DNA Digivolution?"

Caradoc laughed bitterly as another punch missed its mark by an inch. "Of course not. These things are not one and the same, traitor. One is a unity born of equals, striving together to achieve greater heights. The other is parasitic, a weak, frail human using you as a shield against the world that would otherwise crush it without a thought. Because that is what they do, shackle Digimon to their wills, promising that greater power lies with their influence all while they drag our world toward ruination."

"So we must all leave your world, then," Hoshiko snapped, and now it was her voice that spoke and Okatsu's that echoed.

"So you deign to speak to me, though still you use a Digimon as your puppet to do so," the Dynasmon said. "The world shall truly be better when we are rid of your kind. You belong in your own world, not despoiling Saga with your corruption."

Hoshiko's hands became tight fists as she glared with her partner's eyes. "And what if I don't "belong" in "my" world? What if all that awaits me there is cold and death?!" Her rage spilled over and Okatsu was on the attack, weaving around the Dynasmon's punches, blade a blur as it cut against scales and sparked on plate. Caradoc weathered the storm for a moment, then his claws caught Okatsu's weapon. Before she could react he swung them through the air, smashing them against the stone.

Hoshiko cried out, feeling the impact as keenly as if it was her he had slammed into the ground with that infernal strength.

"Whatever awaits you in your world is not our concern," the Dynasmon retorted. "If death awaits you then it awaits you, but we shall not allow you to ruin our world, whatever it takes to see every last human removed from Saga." The CresGarurumon strained to rise as he stalked forward, using her weapon to pull herself up.

"I won't let that happen," Hoshiko hissed, lingering pain straining her voice.

"You cannot even stop fighting yourselves," Caradoc mocked. "You fight beside murderers and monsters, pirates and outlaws, and you wonder why even now kingdoms across Saga turn their backs on the Council? We should have acted without mercy from the start, put deeds before words in the name of Saga." He shook his head and in a flash he struck. His fist cracked armor and tossed Okatsu across the stone, making them crash down hard once again. "But because we tried to give the world its chance to act righteously, we gave your ilk a chance to dig in their roots and manipulate innocent Digimon like the flesh you wear into misguidedly defending you. The time for mercy is long past, human."

Okatsu stood up, bringing her weapon to bear. She trembled with pain but still stood proud. "I swore the day Hoshiko saved my life to protect her with my own," she said, her voice the stronger once more. "If you would threaten her so, then with my all shall I oppose you. Of my own will, on the oath I swore with my own words."

"Enough words," the Dynasmon retorted. "Our deeds shall speak instead."

And they joined battle once more.


-

James Reeve
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Artanis's shots rang through the air, impacting the flying Greymon and chipping at their armor. They answered with their own volleys, but James's partner spiralled through the barrage and unleashed his Rising Destroyer at a distracted MetalGreymon. The lasers seared through the cyborg's mechanical parts and charred its scales, sending it crashing to earth in a blaze. They swooped through the sky, ducking around return fire as James tried his best to track the battle through the wind.

He wished they could do more as he looked down. The reinforcements had made their presence known in force, but even so he wasn't sure that it was enough. The Royal Knights were out in force, bolstered by Greysvald and his men, Okatsu sparring with Caradoc, Dagonet clashing with the Biomerged Machinedramon.

He'd hoped they'd swayed the Greymon, but had it all been pointless from the start? Why had they jeered at Greysvald if the Royal Knights were already prepared with their ambush? Just to keep up appearances, give them hope only to shatter it when the fighting began?

His fist clenched tight as he clung to Artanis and they soared over the fray, making a contribution that seemed tiny in the face of what was needed.
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Svarog Rodsyn (Apollomon) >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Svarog had the presence of mind to knock Greysvald away just as the Greymon lord was ready to skewer James and Artanis. By Rod, that had felt good. But he hadn't expected the blast of power that followed, the sheer pressure and force that howled towards him, dogged him through the air, and threatened to drop the Grey Keep on all their heads. Svarog had plowed into Lancelot with everything he had.

But it was like crashing into a mountain. The white knight was impossibly strong, and if it weren't for the floor beneath his feet giving way, he would have weathered Svarog's collision and throttled him. The massive slabs of the Grey Keep's floor had given out before Lancelot.

The white knight shrugged him off as they tumbled through the basement floors of the Keep, and Svarog answered with a howling burst of flame. He ignited the air and sent fire spilling up into the sky. The blast forced Lancelot down, deeper into the carved-out mountain, but Svarog could see him through the flames, his cape wrapped tightly around himself, weathering the worst of the inferno with frightening calm. He whipped his sword and cape in a wide circle, dispersing Svarog's flames, and answering with a blast of freezing power from his cannon.

Svarog howled and sent fire upon fire to meet the blast. Any other opponent's attack would have folded, would have evaporated under the force of a sun god's atomic fire, but Svarog could feel his attack cooling on its collision with Lancelot's blast. The war god sent more power into the attack, and their clashing powers detonated. There were a series of horrific cracks as the stone above them shifted and heaved.

Svarog snarled and charged, colliding with the white knight like a comet. This time, the force of his charge sent Lancelot into a backpedal. But no matter how hard he tried he couldn't break the implacable expression on the Royal Knight's face. Every blow he struck, every blow of Lancelot's that he blocked -- Lancelot's grim expression never left him.

Lancelot landed a stiff uppercut that sent Svarog tumbling backwards. He caught himself and sent a volley of flaming arrows towards his opponent, but Lancelot extended his blade and with a dizzying series of slashes, he cut the arrows from the air. Svarog bellowed his rage, swathed his fist in white-hot fire, and drove himself forward. Lancelot flicked his sword and set its edges aglow. Then the two of them collided, with twin cries echoing through the quickly-crumbling foundations of the Grey Keep.

"Transcendent Sword!"

"Phoebus Blow!"

Their clash all but hollowed-out the mountainous underbelly of the Grey Keep, sending huge slabs of granite and volcanic rock flying in all directions.

Svarog took a steadying moment, fighting to catch his breath -- the knight was matching his every move and wasn't even winded. He radiated pure certainty - certainty that he would win regardless of what Svarog brought against him.

Lancelot swept his cape to the side, and the force of that simple motion sent a wave of distortion out from him that pulverized the falling rocks and blew the dust and ash away from him towards Svarog. It was a simple gesture, almost meaningless, but it was a way of asserting dominance.

"You will never match me," it seemed to say. "You will be nothing more than a candle in this dark crypt that I extinguish."

"Extinguish me?" Svarog snarled under his breath. "You think you're up for it!?"

He charged again, and Lancelot answered in kind. They swept upwards, weaving through broken pieces of floor, crumbling columns, and falling debris. Trading blows with dizzying speed and fury. They spiraled higher and higher until they burst through the floor of the Keep's throne room and further still through the roof of the keep and into the sky.
 

storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Hoshiko Yukimura and Okatsu Sekishusai
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Caradoc's blows were so fierce that even his misses made the air itself tremble, Okatsu ducking and weaving with all her speed though that was more than they needed to stay ahead. Hoshiko's mind worked away, seeing his vulnerable angles to let Okatsu exploit that while keeping her own focus on dodging. The CresGarurumon struck again and again, chipping at the Dynasmon's plate, slicing at the little gaps. Blood stained his pristine armor, tiny cuts that on their own would be nothing but together and over time would wear him down.

Ordinarily, a battle of endurance wouldn't be something they aimed for. But Caradoc was too fearsome and his armor too strong for them to aim for any other option.

"Dragon Thrower!" A bolt of draconic might spat from Caradoc's palm, a twirl of Okatsu's weapon sending the energy cascading in all directions but the force of it still sending her skidding. Another followed from the Dynasmon's other palm, this one weaved around as Okatsu surged in.

"Geki Hyougetsuga!" Spears of ice hailed into Caradoc, a sweep of his arm shattering them all into shards around the CresGarurumon. Her weapon lashed out, another line of red opened in its wake, spectral flames burning from Caradoc's pores. Too late Hoshiko realised.

"Breath of Wyvern!" The flames took a dragon's shape and consumed them, smashing them through the rock, eating at the gaps in Okatsu's armor to leave singed fur once they dissipated. She rose shrouded in steam, meeting Caradoc as he surged to follow up. A fist swung and Okatsu ducked, blade striking low at his ankle. Another cut. Caradoc's eyes narrowed and his palm slammed forward. "Dragon Thrower!" The blast smashed into Okatsu's chest, Hoshiko crying out within her at the raw power of Caradoc's attack followed by the feeling of crashing on unforgiving rock.

"Jurou Daikaiten!" As Caradoc advanced, Okatsu pounced to her feet and somersaulted through the air spinning like a buzzsaw. Her swift recovery caught Caradoc off guard and he was slow to parry, her blurred blade scraping sparks on his armor then ripping through to leave a crimson rend in the metal down his chest. Snarling the Dynasmon lashed out and threw him back, pressing his assault despite his injuries. As they tumbled and he advanced, munitions detonated around the CresGarurumon, the Greymon overhead lending their fire in support of the Royal Knight. Okatsu glared up momentarily, seeing Artanis swoop in to intercept them, then she danced back from Caradoc's attack. Draconic blasts smashed the rock around her, his fists dangerously close.

She drew back, hailing icy lances to slow his attack and gain space, but even with Artanis doing his best overhead the Greymon were intent on raining their fire down. The shells and blasts could not do massive harm by themselves, but they were enough to constantly tug at Okatsu's awareness when she needed her focus on Caradoc. The Dynasmon burst into her, a stray shell exploding on him without doing more than singing his plate. A fist hammered at Okatsu's skull, knocking her reeling, Hoshiki stunned by the surge of pain.

"Dragon Thrower!" A burning blast threw them flying, Okatsu recovering in mid air to land on her feet.

"Geki Hyougetsuga!" As she threw herself sideways to dodge another blast, more frozen spears rained on Caradoc, each one shattering on his armor. The Dynasmon roared and the phantasmal fire poured from his body, evaporating the icy shards as it raged toward them.

"Breath of Wyvern!"

Okatsu pounced away, the flames clipping her feet and licking at her ankles. The wyvern pursued them, rapidly burning out but its strength still enough to leave her armor smoking once it dissipated. Caradoc's wings beat and he flew at them like a meteor, another rain of fire from above forcing Okatsu to duck and weave. Explosions clipped her even so, Artanis passing her gaze overhead as he swooped and banked, firing at an enemy out of her vision. Whatever he was achieving, it wasn't enough.

"Dragon Thrower!" Both palms roared with power, Caradoc's blasts finding the CresGarurumon amidst the smoke and blasting her into a crater. Stone shards hailed down around her as she struggled to rise, both Okatsu and Hoshiko stunned with vision shaking. Caradoc stalked forward, red eyes finding them as once again he called forth his draconic power.

-

James Reeve
The Grey Keep, Greystone


"Solid Strike!" A swing of Artanis's revolver arm hit a MetalGreymon with enough force to shake James to the bones, the Tamer clinging to his partner as the other Greymon toppled from the heavens. Shells roared past, clipping Artanis's armor as he spread his wings and soared. Slugs of his own roared back. "Trident Revolver!"

But they could not take down the other Greymon quickly enough and the firepower they added left already close fights tipped in the Royal Knights' favor. Even those MetalGreymon and RizeGreymon they knocked out of the air soon recovered and rose again, or fought on the ground to continue supporting the Royal Knights.

James clenched a fist and watched it shake, fingers aching from how hard he had cling to Artanis. He felt useless, watching the other Guardians struggle from above while he and Artanis could only take potshots and try to thin the fire support. He gazed over the field, eyes stinging from the wind, and found where Okatsu dueled Caradoc. Icy lances met dragonflame, the wyvern's power raging across the fray, then he lost them as Artanis spiraled to dodge a screaming pair of missiles. When he found them once more explosions burst around the CresGarurumon.

"Okatsu needs help!" he called above the wind. Artanis snapped his head to find her, a Rising Destroyer warm on James's back as it was unleashed and hurled at Caradoc. The burning lasers raked over the Dynasmon but were nothing against the fiery aura that emerged in answer. Okatsu lay in a smoking crater, shakily trying to rise, but it was plain to see that she and Hoshiko would not avoid Caradoc's attack, nor those of the Greymon taking aim to finish her.

James's fingers tightened.

"Because surviving - because this - isn't enough."

To dive in was suicide, they both knew it. What chance did Artanis stand against Caradoc? He might weather a few attacks, but the Dynasmon would win.

But deep in their bones, James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame could not stand by idle and let Okatsu and Hoshiko fall. That was not who they were. That was not what they did.

Without a word spoken, Artanis dived. Attacks flew past, some finding their mark, nearly striking James, but desperately they plummeted to do what they could. Take the attack in Okatsu's stead, tackle Caradoc to make him miss, something, anything to save and protect. James's eyes closed against the onrushing wind, so he did not see the sparks that danced across his partner's armor and scales. Two minds joined in unshakable resolution.

"Breath of Wyvern!" Caradoc roared above the din.

They were almost there when the wyvern roared forth. Lightning crackled in their veins, more than anticipation. Two hearts beat as one. Unseen, words burned on the screen of James's Digivice.

Crimson radiance ignited like a star, consuming the pair as they landed right in the path of Caradoc's blazing wyvern. It howled and swept into the new light, but found crackling power in its path too strong to pierce no matter how it raged. Again and again the flames poured against the barrier but again and again it turned them aside, leaving their fury to be spent on the rock and stone instead. As they petered out they left deep furrows in a V shape around the point where Artanis had touched down and the crater from which Okatsu rose behind him, smoke thick but slowly dissipating. Caradoc stared a moment with narrowed eyes.

Golden eyes burned beneath the haze.

"Thunder Vernier!" two voices spoke as one. Twin streams of crackling plasma roared through the air and smashed into Caradoc's chest, the Royal Knight snarling as the attack's force sent him skidding even with wings snapping open to brace him. The streams raged against the Dynasmon, sparks dancing over his armor as he set all his strength against the attack's power. With a howl his arm lashed, finally shattering the beams as they came to an end, red eyes snapping up to find his new adversary.

Crimson armor gleamed on a humanoid body, white hair flowing over the nape of Artanis's neck from beneath his helm. Physically he resembled a WarGreymon, but where that line wielded Dramon Destroyer claws, instead bulky gauntlets ended his arms. Two vernier boosters rested on his shoulders, aimed at Caradoc like cannons before swivelling back down to resemble wings as the BlitzGreymon rose from where he had crouched.

"Artanis?" Okatsu and Hoshiko spoke from behind them. "James?"

"We are as one," Artanis spoke with James's voice beneath. The latter gazed out through his partner's eyes, a sphere of crimson data encircling him.

"Bring as many as you wish," Caradoc growled. "You will not win this battle!"

Artanis shook his head and with a roar his boosters fired, propelling him straight at the Dynasmon with one fist drawn back. "Plasma Stake!" Sheathed in lightning his fist met Caradoc's own and his power raged, Caradoc's armor groaning against the force that surged through his arm. The Dynasmon was still physically stronger, forcing Artanis's arm back, but the BlitzGreymon jumped back and once again swivelled his verniers around. "Thunder Vernier!" Beams of plasma fired at Caradoc near point blank, the force of them smashing his shins down into the rock as well as backward.

"Dragon Thrower!" Burning bolts fired from Caradoc's palms at the two, their onslaught ended early as Artanis brought up a fist.

"Elec Guard!" The blasts stopped short of his armor, their explosions rippling across a spherical barrier around the BlitzGreymon's body. Okatsu came rushing in, joining the evolved Artanis as he dismissed the barrier and struck in tandem with her. "Plasma Stake!"

"Jurou Daikaiten!"
A crackling fist struck at Caradoc from one angle, Okatsu's whirling blade from another. They were out of sync, Artanis meeting the Dynasmon's fist first even as the spectral flames howled from beneath his plate. Okatsu's attack gashed through Caradoc's shoulder plate a moment later, Artanis forcing himself forward as the wyvern howled into being so that he bore the brunt of its unleashed might. The plasma barrier around his body rippled and cracked beneath the flames, holding as it had before but only just. As the Breath of Wyvern finished, the BlitzGreymon's other fist swung.

"Plasma Stake!" Thunder boomed as the punch landed in the gash Okatsu had earlier torn down Caradoc's armor, a snarl of pain leaving his throat when he was propelled back by the force of the augmented strike. Sparks crackled over his plate when he skidded to a halt, fists clenched tight and his eyes blazing.

Artanis took a step forward, his clawed foot leaving its imprint in the rock, Okatsu stalking around with her blade readier. "We will not yield, Sir Caradoc. No matter the might you bring to bear, our unity is unbroken and from our bonds we draw out greater power." His golden eyes narrowed. "Scoff at us if you wish, but you cannot deny the strength the bond between James and I has brought to bear against you. A strength that shall only grow until it surpasses even yours."

Caradoc laughed. "To see one of your proud kind believe such drivel. All your kin stand beside us around you yet you would cling to your human, Greymon?" The Dynasmon strode forward unbowed, even though his wounds bled and his plate lay ripped and cracked. Fearsome as their attacks had been, the damage still seemed largely superficial. "Heroically throwing yourself into the path of my attack to protect her was nothing but suicidal recklessness."

"You have killed enough people," James spoke with Artanis's echo. "I won't let you kill more."

"None would have died had the Council listened from the first," Caradoc snapped. "None would have died had you not resisted. As you resist now, spending Digimon lives for the sake of what, your own wish to make a playground of Saga?" He scoffed and power howled from his hands. "Dragon Thrower!" The one he aimed at Artanis broke upon the Elec Guard once more, the barrier cracking further, while Okatsu flowed around the one shot at her and hailed a volley of icy lances back.

"Enough words," Hoshiko said bitterly, Okatsu beneath. "Let it be finished."

They erupted back into the battle.
 

Solsabre

The Reforged Soul
Grey Keep
Tessa, Aria, Stein

Tessa’s giant tome snapped shut, protecting the small mage within it’s magical pages from explosions and flying debris. Pandemonium broke out as several Royal Knights engaged with various Guardians. The Wisemon whipped her head around after re-emerging from the tome. She’d seen Sir Percival plow into Stein before they both disappeared into smoke and dust.

Tessa summoned her Space/Time Orbs to cast a quick search spell. The orbs hummed with a brief pulse of power. There. Beneath the stone granite floor. With a hand gesture, the tome began descending after them.

A moment or two after the tome had descended into the newly created pit, Tessa was joined by Aria. The Lilamon was hiding her nervousness behind a stern frown but she still managed to nod towards the bottom of the pit with a nervous laugh. “Trying to escape the fight up top?”

“Not really,” Tessa said offhandedly, hands pulling various lines of coding from her book and altering them with her orbs, “but I need space to prep my spells and…” the wisemon blushed under the hood. “...I might be a bit worried about Stein.”

Two lines of code smashed together resulting in a small flash of light that created an after image of Tessa before fading. The lithe Wisemon gave a small tap on her book’s pages giving a solid thump sound. “All set. Almost as good as the real thing for as long as it lasts. I don’t usually get a chance to do this first.”

Aria eyed the fading after image with a curious glance before turning back to the Wisemon who was still present. The more she tried to figure out what was going on when magic and coding and other craziness was happening, the less she was able to focus on the task at hand. “I’m going to assume whatever you just did will help. Who’s down here besi-”

An ear-splitting roar echoed through the partially ruined basement halls of the keep, loud enough to send dust flying and debris tumbling from the already precarious stone around them.

“That can’t be good.” Aria said. She turned towards the direction of the sound, down a battle scarred portion of chambers and ruined walls, and hesitated. “Don’t suppose you can figure out what we’re walking into with that book of yours?”

“Yes,” The tome flipped a flurry of pages back and forth as though it were an online search looking for a match to an audio clip. A 3D image projected itself above the pages. Titamon. Tessa jerked her head back in surprise. “Ahhhh, that can’t be right.”

The tome reran it’s search parameters. Same result.

“That doesn’t look like any of the Knight’s I’m familiar with.” Aria said.

“It isn’t. Legend speaks of a Titamon supposedly swearing revenge on the High Council and seeking their heads.” Tessa rambled unconcerned. Her head poked up with interest. “Oh! Apparently, they can also summon legions of the dead. Fascinating.”

“Then, if that isn’t the Knight, and it's not a Greymon,” Aria said, “Either the old king has been keeping that thing chained up down here or… that’s Stein.” She paused, though the sounds of fighting echoing down the ruined tunnels kept things from going quiet. “Either way, if it's on our side I’m all for it. Let’s go check it out.”

Aria floated into the opening and to the chambers beyond, stopping just long enough to look back and make sure Tessa was following.

They were no sooner within the chamber, when a swarm of missiles flew in their direction. A portal engulfed Aria and Tessa, immediately depositing the pair in another section of the ruined chamber seconds before the volley exploded.

“Stein!” Tessa called out, her Orbs on standby and ready to assist their large teammate...if it were indeed him. Only a second deafening roar met Tessa’s yell and she wasn’t certain if it was directed at her or at the Magnamon that the Titamon fought. Tessa glanced over to Aria, “It’ll be a mess for us to get caught up in their brawl, but I can cast my portals very quickly in a small space like this to evade danger.”

Aria blinked away the lingering disorientation from the sudden teleportation. “Good to know, I’ll try not to lose my lunch.”

The walls shook with a thunderous quake and moments later a gold blur tore through the air past the two floating digimon and slammed into the wall. Aria got a single, brief glimpse of Percival, clad in shining Golden Armor before the Royal Knight launched off of the wall. Another instant later and a massive sword cleaved the wall where the knight had been a millisecond before.

The Titamon, Stein, rose from the depths of the tunnels, clouds of dust and chunks of rubble bigger than Aria herself spilling off his shoulders like grains of sand.

“Stein! Let’s get this guy together okay?” Aria called.

The Titamon looked down at her, but there was no recognition in his eyes. Only anger. Hatred. A lust for blood.

“...Stein? Buddy?” Aria offered.

Stein roared and ripped the sword from the wall without any regard to Aria’s safety. It was only a quick trip through another of Tessa’s portals that saved her from being crushed.

Aria blinked, righting herself in the air and stared after Stein as he ripped at the walls and ceiling, trying to pin down Percival as he darted around the tunnels.

“What happened to him?” Aria asked. “It’s like he didn’t even see me. Are… are we sure that’s Stein?”

“It’s him.” Tessa said, her words very soft as though speaking from a far distance away. Her orbs flashed in confirmation. “Secitons of our base coding never change, no matter our forms...I am worried though about his current state of mind, if he didn’t recognize you...”

Tessa shook her head to focus on the matter at hand, her voice finally sounding stronger and much closer. “Let Stein handle the heavy work, we’ll concentrate on creating diversions and open opportunities for him to hit harder. I’ll keep us out of harm’s way;” The wisemon had grown more determined to help in a way that was beneficial. A boldness that surprised even Tessa herself and back tracked for a moment when talking to Aria. “I, mean, if that sounds like a plan to you.”

Another stream of missiles crossed the underground chamber, Tessa ducked way from the flightpath of the explosive payload, extending a palm out. “Eternal Nirvana!” A handful of the missiles flicked irregularly for a mere second before fading from existence. The remaining missiles sailed in the titanmon’s direction but would hamper him less so.

“Okay then, let’s go.” Aria said. A burst of light washed over her as she digivolved into her Rosemon form, but before the light had even faded Aria found herself being slammed into the wall, a single draconic foot buried in her stomach.

She saw Percival just long enough to see the look of contempt in the Knight’s eyes before he sped off again to pummel Stein and Aria fell to the ground and struggled to catch her breath.

Already, her Rosemon form was starting to glitch out. A single hit and she was losing her hold. She slammed her fist on the ground and pulled herself to her feet. “Damn it, I can do this.”

“Pandora Dialogue!” The words echoed throughout the chamber as if enhanced somehow. A new stream of missiles materialized from a dark corner of the room. Sir Percival barely flinched from the impact and quickly engaged once again with Stein. Tessa hovered quietly on the opposite end of the room than where she’d been previously.

For a moment, Aria hesitated. She looked down at her hand, at the data bits that flaked off of her imperfect mega form, before shaking her head. Even if she wanted to run, she suspected she wouldn’t make it far. She had to get control of this power here and now or there wouldn’t be a tomorrow for her to try again.

Ahead of them, Stein roared and drove his blade into the floor. The stone cracked and buckled as dozens of skeletal Greymon pulled themselves from the earth and moved to attack Percival from all sides.

“Rose Velvet!” Aria called as she did the same. Thorny vines sprang up around the Royal Knight’s feet, trying to hold him in place for as long as she could manage. A single portal materialized beneath Sir Pervical’s right foot to swallow it and reinforce Aria’s efforts.

If Percival was bothered by any of this, he certainly didn’t look it. In fact, Aria was almost convinced that he looked bored. The royal Knight curled up, building power as his armor shone brightly like a star, before a dazzling blast of energy erupted through the cavern, incinerating Aria’s vines and blasting the skeletal Greymon back into dust.

“Traps, tricks, and cannon fodder.” Percival said, “If you expect to best me with such amateurish tactics, think again.”

“Is that a challenge?” Tessa’s giggles could be heard echoing throughout the chamber.. Her image was no longer visible, only one of her orbs shone in the dim light. “Tell me, what opponent would be worth your time, then?”

“Someone who isn’t afraid to show themselves, for one.” Percival said, dodging a swipe from Stein like it was a second thought. “Why don’t you come on out and let me see your pretty face?”

“Okay!” Tessa said sweetly. A clap of her hands resounded from all directions. Multiple plumes of smoke burst everywhere, forming tiers of a young wisemon perched upon her books in all directions and obscuring the little light filtering through cracks in the ceiling. “How’s this?” Echoes of Tessa spoke and not all at once, but rather out of sync to create further discord. The Tessas pull down their hoods together…

A bright yellow spherical smiley face stuck a tongue out at Sir Percival. Smoke from their appearances continued to linger in the chamber. “Oh, fun fact! Imperaldramon Dragon Mode are super territorial when you disturb their nesting sites.”

Two Imperiadragmon: Dragon Mode flashed into existence, rapidly filling in the remaining space of the chamber. However, their massive wings just clipped through the walls and ceiling as if they weren’t real. However, the positron laser attacks forming in their mouths were real enough. The dragons roared. The joint attack slammed into Sir Percival.

“Forbidden Temptation!” Aria called as several large roses bloomed into life around Percival and released a cloud of noxious, shimmering pollen as the lasers collided. The whole cloud burst into flame sending a blast of hot air through the tunnels. Without missing a beat, Stein dove forward and crashed his full weight into the still burning cloud of smoke in an effort to crush the Royal Knight.

“You’re doing better.” Percival laughed as he slammed into the back of Stein’s head and drove him into the ground.

Aria blinked. When had he escaped the attacks? How was anything that fast?

Stein’s only response was a roar as he clawed at Percival who was still perched on the back of his head. The Magnamon knocked his fist on Stein's head. “Is anyone home in here? It's like fighting a mindless beast.”

“He’s not mindless.” Tessa spoke evenly, hovering at the other end of the room. Teasing gone, only the narrow slits of her eyes peered through the shadow of her hood. “He might not be himself right, but he’s the most thoughtful digimon I’ve met and he’s my friend.”

“That’s real cute,” Percival said, “But I’m not here to play house.” The Magnamon burst forward and drove a knee into the Tessa that spoke. It melted away into bits of data as the illusion shattered. “Tsk.” Percival hit two more, a golden afterimage tracing his path through the room as he broke several more illusions.

“It wasn’t for your ears to hear.” The multitude of Tessas echoed.

An ear-splitting roar shook the room as Stein thundered towards Percival. The anger rolling off of the Titamon was so thick and powerful that it was visible as a cloud of dark miasma that poured from the skulls on his armor. The Royal Knight pivoted and turned to counter as the giant closed the gap. Something in Stein’s eyes must have changed his mind because the Magnamon dashed to the side instead, trying to dodge, only for Stein to snatch him out of the air by the leg and smash him into the ground.

Stein dropped his sword, opting instead to pummel the ground with both fits, pounding the foundations of the castle with his fury. Through the dust and debris, Aria got a single glimpse of Percival, wrapped in a slowly cracking barrier of golden light, bloodied and bruised but still somehow standing and weathering the mighty blows.

Aria smiled. “Nowhere to run now.” She said. “Ivy Hug!”

Thick vines erupted from the ground under Percival’s feet trying to ensnare him, grasping at his arms and legs and neck. Anything to make him lose focus and weaken that barrier.

“MAGNA BLAST!”

The entire room exploded with golden energy that felt like it was burning her from the inside out it was so hot. The force of the blast tossed Aria into the wall and as the smoke cleared she heard Percival laughing.

“Now this is a fight! Come on, let’s see what you “Guardians” are really made of!”

As Aria tried to pull herself to her feet, her form glitched again. She fell to a knee as the sickly sweet taste of sap filled her mouth. That was never good, her insides must be taking as much of a beating as her outside. That, or forcing herself to fight this hard through these glitches was wreaking havoc on her code. Possibly both.

Stein was clawing himself out of the ruined floor of the chamber, still smoldering from Percival’s last attack. The Royal Knight had rebounded off of the Titamon’s chest and landed next to Aria before she had gotten tabs on him.

“You look like you’re falling apart at the seams.” Percival said. “Why don’t you take five while I deal with the big guy?”

Aria lashed out with her whip but Percival sidestepped it with ease. “I can still fight.” She attacked again as she rose to her feet, striking with her whip and her sword in tandem but not landing a single one of her blows. Percival was just too fast, and she really was falling apart.

“I admire your fighting spirit.” Percival said with a laugh. “But I think it's time you pack it up.”

“I refuse.” Aria said. She pulled back her whip, ready to try a technique. She never got the chance. Percival closed the distance in less than the blink of an eye.

“I wasn’t asking.” he said. His fist blazed with golden light as he drove it into Aria’s gut.

Her entire body screamed as her Rosemon form erupted into data and a battered and bruised Lilamon tumbled out and rolled to a stop several feet away.

She wasn’t done. Not yet. But it was taking everything she had to stay conscious through the pain. To catch her breath. To keep her eyes open and on her opponent.

Percival brushed the dust and sap off of his hands and turned to face the other two. “Now, where were we?”

A large boulder hurtled past Percival, missing him by a hair as he sidestepped. Stein was ripping up pieces of the floor and hurtling them at the Royal Knight like a living catapult.

Meanwhile, a portal swallowed Aria whole...


****

...and gently spat the injured Lilamon out on the very real pages of Tessa’s ancient tome.

Tessa’s hands shook, panting hard from the sheer effort of maintaining the dyson sphere-like structure that surrounded them. Her own miniature version of Paradise Eden, altering the flow of time to allow a caster the opportunity to work their ‘magic’ uninterrupted.

“Give me a moment, Aria,” Tessa said, her voice strained with effort as more coding aligned into a given sequence. “I can heal your wounds once I get this Working finished to help Stein.”

Tessa paid no attention to the way her body swayed. This playback was proving to be particularly difficult to recreate. It would be more illusion than real, but she believed she could put some physical impact behind it.

Despite every fiber in her arm yelling at her not to, Aria pushed herself upright and looked up at the Wisemon as she worked her magic.

“How do you do it?” Aria asked. “Where do you get all that strength from?”

“Do you want the sagely wisemon wisedom or my own experience?” Tessa called out over her shoulder, accustomed to multi-tasking.

The Lilamon laughed and winced at the spike of pain in her chest. “Whichever one’s more honest.”

Tessa chuckled despite her own struggle, “I am a child of two worlds. The offspring of a demon man and an angel. Eden would probably reject me and my own Wisemon Council already labeled me as a lesser mage due to my mixed heritage.”

“But it is a narrow way of thinking: to be one or the other, implying a limit to what one can be or become. A mixture of both? That’s a recipe for something new yet unexplored.”

Tessa looked over her shoulder at Aria with a smile in her eyes, “I am my father’s greatest creation and know my mother’s love. Honestly, that’s enough for me to know myself, trust my abilities, and recognize my limits in order to surpass them.”

Tessa grunted and dropped to her knees, the great Working completed and set into motion.
“Like right now.”

The time altering sphere popped, returning the pair to the normal time flow. “Drat.” Tessa muttered, not concerned so much about the time flow spell, but rather as she’d struggled to build up the blue glow of her healing aura on her hands. “Come on…”

Instead of getting frustrated like last time, however, Tessa closed her eyes and relaxed. The blue light of her hands intensified, but it didn’t stop there. The wisemon’s entire form shone in a bright light. Tessa opened her eyes, a warmth shining from them as well. She crawled over to Aria, placing a glowing hand on the Lilamon’s arms and immediately erased her wounds.

“Let’s go help Stein.”

******


Percival darted around Stein like a gnat pestering a bull. Every dash ended in a punch or a kick or a blast of energy but no matter how many times the Magnamon hit him Stein wouldn’t go down. If anything, it was only making him angrier. Fiercer. More committed to crushing Percival into paste on the walls of the cavern no matter the cost to his own body.

“You make a decent punching bag.” Percival said through heavy breaths. “I may need to keep you around after this.”

Stein’s response was to catch Percival in a mighty clap of his hands. The Magnamon strained with all his might against Stein’s raw power, holding back the titans hands from crushing him. A burst of light flashed as Percival activated his barrier for a split second, just long enough for him to slip between Stein’s hands before they clapped together. The shockwave sent Percival slamming into the ground where several Greymon skeletons were laying in wait to attack.

Percival activated his light barrier again as the Greymon skeletons swarmed him. Tessa popped into thin air, floating on her book, and snapped her fingers. A portal appeared within Sir Percival’s shield, allowing the skeleton greymon to invade it. “Plasma Shoot!” A barrage of missiles shot out from his armored body, causing the skeletal Greymon and the light barrier to disintegrate into digital fragments. The Royal Knight rose into the air, dodging a swipe from the raging Titamon.

Tessa waved her hand at him with a cheeky smile.

The Magnamon scoffed, “As if I’d fall for your tricks anymore.”

The glowing mage cocked her head to the side, ignoring the Royal Knight’s sneer, “Oh hey, Thor!” She called out.

Sir Percival whipped his head around alarmed. “Omni Sword!”

The words were spoken with an odd inflection. The Magnamon crossed his vambraces to brace for impact. Light and force clashed against his arms, but the impact barely forced him back. Surprised, Percival really looked at the White Sword and the Imperialdramon: Paladin Mode holding it.

The illusion -Tessa’s playback recording from when Thor was fighting Sir Lamorack- was vaguely see-through if one looked hard enough. Incomplete the illusion may have been, but Tessa had figured it was the one thing or person that coulddistracted Sir Percval just long enough.

Tessa finally allowed her building light to engulf her, whispering words that were hers alone.

Bells toll and spirits whisper.
The Four Elements I summon hither.
At my word, join the terrible fray!
Heal the land and stop Judgement Day!
Enchantress Evolution! Sakuyamon!


“Spirit Strike!” Four elemental foxes emerged from the pipes resting securely on the newly formed Sakuyamon’s waist Streams of fire, water, wind, and lightning shot from the mouths of each fox in tandem. Water and fire surrounded him to hinder the Royal Knight’s movement, while wind and lightning battered Sir Percival’s golden form.

Stein brought down his sword with a crash, cleaving the entire room in two and blasting Percival, and the foxes, into the far wall. The ceiling cracked and crumbled, whole pieces cracking off and falling into the room as whatever stone separated them from the air above threatened to give way.

“Plasma Shoot!” A barrage of missiles tore through the air and blasted into the ceiling above Stein, crumbling the rock to its breaking point and sending a huge slab of stone crashing down towards Stein. The Titamon caught it on his shoulders, struggling to push the slab back into position, or at least to keep it from crushing him into the ground.

Aria watched the display with awe. Such power from all sides. Percival, a Royal Knight, unleashing his full abilities. Stein transformed into a huge titan overflowing with strength. And even Tessa, digivolving and hitting Percival with everything she could muster.

She couldn’t stand to watch it anymore. She couldn’t take another second of feeling useless, of sitting on the sidelines because she was too afraid to pitch in lest she get herself hurt. She had to do something, anything, to help. Not because they needed her, but because she needed to know she could.

The Lilamon rose to her feet and tried to summon the strength to digivolve into Rosemon, but she wasn’t able to. It didn’t matter. She was already moving forward, mega level or not. The fear she had carried for so long was melting away. Coalescing into anger. Not anger like Stein was feeling, red hot rage and fury. Not anger at Percival, the embodiment of the challenge they had to overcome. Anger at herself for being so afraid of doing what she was doing now. Putting her life on the line, for real. No games. No shying away.

Percival erupted from the wall in a cloud of dust, pulling a spirit fox from his leg and tossing it to the side as he charged towards Stein. He pushed past Tessa, sidestepping whatever she threw his way. This was his shot to take Stein out of the fight and he was going to take it.

But Aria wasn’t going to let him.

“Magna Punch!”

“Lila Needle!”

Aria slipped between Percival and Stein and blasted every ounce of energy she could muster into a beam of energy directed at the incoming attack.

Percival’s glowing fist cut through her energy beam like a hot knife through butter, slowing down but not stopping as it connected. But Aria didn’t go down. Even she blinked in surprise as Percival’s fist hit her own and stopped as light began to envelop Aria’s form.

There was power surging up in Aria like she had never felt before. No, not just power. A burning desire to see Percival on his knees. To prove herself his better. There was not a single ounce of fear left in her heart as her form erupted in light and data as she digivolved.

“Absolute Territory!” Percival reeled back as a flurry of lightning fast attacks pummeled him from all angles, striking where his armor didn’t cover and forcing him to relent and backstep.

Aria, now a Bancho Lilimon, stepped forward as the light faded.

Percival huffed, clearly getting tired but still keeping up the appearance that he was no worse for wear. “Oh? Finally found your fighting spirit? I had already counted you out.”

“So had I.” Aria said, recalling her spiked yo-yo with a flourish. “But not anymore.”

The ground shook with a rumble. Tessa’s element foxes eased the weight of the slab off of Stein’s back just enough to allow him to throw it off. The titamon roared in anger, swiping a massive fist through the air, and slamming the water kuda-gitsune into the crumbling walls.

An increasingly worried look crossed Tessa’s face, the Sakuyamon wisely keeping her distance and calling her foxes back to her side. Though practical and perfectly rational, a part of her hurt inside at having to treat the normal friendly Stein with such wariness. Did this have something to do with that ‘loose bolt’ Stein had complained about back in Glen Elendra? She’d have to give it deeper consideration later to figure out what he meant at the time.

“Hang in there just a bit longer, Stein,” Tessa whispered, allowing her words to carry on the wind of her fox spirit for the Titamon’s ears alone.

Titamon raged on, rushing Sir Percival and locking arms once more. “Fox Drive!” Tessa called out, thrusting her Kongou Shakujou forward. Blue fire bursted free from her staff and collided with Sir Percival’s backside, superheating his armor. The Royal Knight hissed and jumped back to escape Stein’s grip and put out the blue fire with his swift movements.

“Enough of this!” Percival shouted. The Knight spun around, sending a blast of energy spiraling around him and forcing the three Guardians back. Percival smirked as he raised his eyes to stare down his opponents. “You three want to get serious? Let’s get serious.”
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Thor Odinson >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Thor had been completely unprepared for the sudden attack from the pair of Greymon, nevermind the sheer savagery of it. Dramon Killer claws sliced through his armor like tissue paper, and only a thousand years of training and fighting gave him the presence of mind to protect himself once the attacks struck home. He pushed himself back with a violent flap of his wings, retreating out of their reach.

The two WarGreymon, black and gold, stood their ground and raised their gauntlets again, but before Thor could meet them, they dove to the side. A lone ShineGreymon burst through between them and struck Thor across the jaw with a vicious haymaker. Thor flew back, this time not of his own volition, and skidded to a stop only to find the pair of WarGreymon upon him once more.

They struck, and Thor managed to wedge the claws of his gauntlets against their own. They dropped from their flight and dug their thick clawed toes into the huge slabs of stone, alternating steps, pushing Thor back bit by bit. He was losing ground quickly, despite his superior strength, when they suddenly dove away once more.

"Hyper Launcher!" a gravelly voice shouted. Before Thor could regain his footing, he was floored by a heavy blast of power and thrown through the air. He could only just make out the golden visage of a ZekeGreymon and the smoking railgun on its arm.

Thor tried to right himself only for a bright red form to slam into him in mid flight and drive him into the thick stone parapets of the Grey Keep. The BlitzGreymon ducked his wild attempt at a backhand and struck him twice across the face with its empowered gauntlets. It flared with crackling green light, then drilled into Thor with a vicious drop-kick that knocked him through the stone parapet walk and back into the courtyard floor.

But before he could steady himself on his feet, the ShineGreymon knocked his legs out from underneath him and the BlitzGreymon drove another heavy punch into his face. The two attacked again, but Thor lashed out with a kick that struck the BlitzGreymon in the chest and then caught the incoming punch from the ShineGreymon.

They strained against one another, fingers interlaced. Odin's blood, this one was strong. Thor still hadn't caught his breath from the first volley of attacks. He hurt everywhere.

A flash of light appeared in the corner of his eye. Thor glanced to the side just as the ZekeGreymon engaged his Final Trident Strike and slammed into him. It was like being hit by a meteor, he felt the strike crack through the entire left side of his body. Energy seared over him and sent him pummelling into the ground.

Thor struggled to one knee and glanced up only to see the WarGreymon and BlackWarGreymon ripping towards him, swathed in whirling tornados. Their claws shred through his armor and ripped a scream from his throat. A pair of kicks slammed into his rib cage and knocked him back into a wall.

"Now, Gunnar," the WarGreymon said.

The ShineGreymon nodded grimly. He drove his hands into the cracked and ruined floor of the Grey Keep. "GeoGrey...Sword!" he called out. He brought his hand up, withdrawing the telltale double-bladed sword. He whirled it once in his grip and then charged towards the injured Thor. There was a shout on his lips, a grim determination in his face…

Only to have Serra drop-kick him in said face.

She whirled in place, almost like a dance, and fired off a volley of bullets that struck home on all five of the Greymon soldiers and sent them jumping back for cover.

"Get up, your highness," she urged him teasingly. "We don't have time for you to fart around."

"Look out!" Thor shouted.

Serra turned just in time to catch Gunnar as he slashed downward with his double-bladed sword. She crossed her pistols in front of her and extended a pair of blades hidden in the barrel of the guns. She parried his slash, forcing his blade to embed in the ground, then slipped into his guard, pivoted, drove her heel into his chin, and fired with the gun hidden in her stilettos.

Gunnar tumbled back, but the shot had only grazed the side of his face. "Corona Splash!" he shouted, and sent a dozen beams of sunlight arcing from his wings.

"Fly Bullet!" Serra countered, firing wildly. A dozen shots cracked from her pistol within a span of a blink, and met Gunnar's attack head on. Gunnar charged her again, but she ducked his charge nimbly and fired a bullet into the wrist of his hand that held the GeoGrey Sword.

He was forced to drop it, and she landed another kick to his chest, punctuating it with a shot from the gun in her heel. Gunnar stumbled back and Serra dashed towards him, but the BlitzGreymon blindsided her and tackled her to the floor.

"Starkad!" Gunnar shouted in surprise.

"Gunnar, get to Thor, I'll handle this one!" the BlitzGreymon said.

Thor would have gone to her aid, but the WarGreymon and BlackWarGreymon were back on their feet and charging towards him. He managed to hold his own for a few quick exchanges, and sent a blast of power spiralling into the BlackWarGreymon's chest. But before he could regain his footing, Gunnar was on him. A kick to the jaw sent him spinning in place. He barely had the presence of mind to grab the WarGreymon's wrists as its Dramon Killers dove towards him, and he flared his power to keep Gunnar at bay.

A few yards away, Serra dodged Starkad's attacks, stepping nimbly over and around heavy blows and dense bursts of plasma, but her bullets were having little luck penetrating his thick armor and shimmering plasma field. Starkad flared his power to throw her back, and she recovered in just enough time to dodge a strike from the massive ZekeGreymon by a hair's breadth, but Starkad followed up and caught her in the stomach with a hard kick to send her flying.

A DarkKnightmon appeared from the smoke and gloom and joined Serra in combat against the two Greymon. A human Thor didn't recognize sprinted across the ruined floor of the courtyard, and Thor felt a spiteful satisfaction knowing the Greymon were wrong that all of them had been cast out of Saga.

Thor snapped out a kick that knocked the WarGreymon back, but Gunnar wove past him and locked him in a full-nelson. Thor struggled against his grip, but he was injured, he was tired, and his head was still spinning. He had barely a moment's breath to get his feet beneath him, and the Greymon were always on top of him.

"Hrothgar, go!" Gunnar shouted behind him. The WarGreymon scrambled to his feet and shot through the air. He drew back the Dramon Killer, aiming clearly for a killing stroke.

Thor struggled in vain for a half-heartbeat, then in desperation he stretched out with his hand, feeling for the presence clawing at his mind, just out of reach. His fingers closed upon the ethereal hilt of the White Sword and the world exploded with light.

His ascent in the Paladin Mode hurled Gunnar from him...or was it the simple flexing of his wing muscles? There was so much power in the form, still threatening to overwhelm him, but he paid it little mind. The danger and struggle to survive hung over his ascent this time, and he brought up the sword to halt Hrothgar's charge. The collision of a WarGreymon hurtling full-speed towards him should have rattled his bones, but it was barely a dull vibration in his fingers.

For Hrothgar, however, it was like running into a mountain. His armor cracked and fractured against the wall of Thor's power and he spiraled off to the side before landing in a crumpled heap.

Thor breathed deep from the White Sword's power, letting it fill him now that he had a moment to gather himself. The digivolution had knit his body together from the wounds he'd received and restored his strength, but the ever-present feeling of losing himself to the White Sword's mind-breaking power still loomed. The desperate grasp for survival had passed, and he tried to be calm in the face of the sword's power.

But it was so difficult.

Serra tumbled across the stone floor and deftly dodged a barrage of plasma from Starkad's blasters. She spun to a stop by Thor's side with her weapons drawn and aimed at the Greymon. The five of them had smartly gathered themselves back together in the face of his evolution. It was brave of them -- though they had long since left any sort of "admirable" behind when they attacked -- but ultimately irrelevant. The power humming through his body gave Thor an overwhelming certainty.

They could not stand against him.

But that left the others. They were struggling against the Royal Knights. Lancelot was powerful, and even with help from the others he was more than Svarog could handle. The other Royal Knights...Thor knew the Guardians were closing the gap between them with each confrontation, but they were still so far behind.

"Go help the others," Thor said to Serra. He locked his eyes on the five Greymon. He couldn't afford to think of anything else; couldn't afford to let the power go to his head and overwhelm his senses. They were all that mattered right now. "I'll handle this."

"C'mon, I'm still in this," she objected with a hiss.

"I know, but they need you more than I do right now," Thor said. "You've saved my life. Again."

"Well, who's counting?" she said. Thor smiled at that. "Can you handle this after the beating you took?"

Thor's smile turned grim, turned to a frown, and he nodded again. "Last night you told me to stop trying to be worthy as Odin. You told me to be worthy as Thor. You told me to remember that Thor was worthy from the moment he lifted the sword," Thor said. He felt the power boil inside him, vibrating, rumbling like summer thunder on the horizon. "It's time I stop pretending. It's time I show them what that means."

His power rumbled out of him and vibrated the stones beneath their feet. Serra took a cautious look around, then nodded quickly and sprinted off.

"And you!" Thor shouted, his voice exploding from his chest. Power rippled off of him in waves, sending the five Greymon scurrying back into a defensive formation. And for the first time since picking up the sword, Thor felt oddly whole and at ease with the power he held. "I came to you with my hand outstretched to ask for peace. And you tried to kill me?" He tightened his grip on the sword. "This will not go unanswered!"
 
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TheCharredDragon

FOR THE [Fluffiest Fluff] CLICK HERE!
OOC: excuse the highjacking of greysvald. i just had the post in mind once kamotz mentioned him to me

The Gray Keep

Shula Hernandez & Tyfrigo "Frost" Rex
Current Form: Machinedramon


To say the least, Shula wasn't sure what to..."do", for a lack of a better word, as she kept in synch with Frost, having him take the lead in the fight against Dagonet after she had initially tackled him as soon as they landed. Oh they could fight, and certainly had the energy and strength to hold their ground, but they were facing off against not only someone with way more experience than them, but also who, for lack of a better description, matched them in their strengths.

Shula didn't see this going well.

But as soon as she thought that, Frost's attempt at blocking a blow from the knight's dual bladed lance didn't hold fast and made them stagger, which led to the Craniummon following it up and outright sending them backwards. They clenched their jaw as they put all they had into stopping themselves from going more than a couple of feet before Frost asked her within their shared mind,

"Shula! What's wrong?!"

Shula frowned with that mind.

"I..." she said.

But before she could say more, they blocked another attack from the stalwart knight. This time, it was more successful, but their opponent looked at them with disdain and scoffed.

"Do you truly think you can stand against us with that kind of conviction?" he said, his tone matching his expression. "It's a wonder you haven't fallen yet."

Shula flinched.

"I..."

It was true. It was a wonder they hadn't been struck down before. The knights had way too many advantages over them. Strength, experience, numbers, camaraderie... It was so much it was overwhelming, a true testament to their legacy. And what did the Guardians have? Just a bunch of hastily joined together people and Digimon that don't even get along together, let alone fight well together. At the rate they were going they...

"That may be true," Frost said, only a hint of her voice mixed in. "But humans, especially my human, get stronger from that, overcoming their faults. They are incredibly stubborn after all, much like us."

The blue shield knight scoffed once again. "We are nothing like them," he said. "Their stubbornness and faults are exactly what will lead our world to to its downfall."

"No, we are like them," Frost said, standing tall and standing proud. "And that will be your downfall."

And then to her, he said, "Now will you stand with me, like always...my love?"

Shula could only mentally shake her head and laugh at herself. How could she forget? Even if their teammates still weren't a cohesive bunch, even if it was just her, even whole world was against her, she would always have Frost by her side, ever since the beginning. And she wasn't the only one with a bond like that, even if the exact nature was different for each person and Digimon. So she set her imaginary jaw and shoulders, cast all doubts for the fights and said, grinning within their mind,

"Course I will! Who the hell do you think I am?!"

"Good."


And they were at the knight again, taking each and every hit they took with as much fortitude and courage as they could. All she needed to do now was trust that her teammates around her had a plan...because she certainly didn't have one, and Frost was trying his best to come up with one while fighting the knight in synch with her spirit.


Zainab "Zaza" Cadaceus (MagnaKidmon)


There were at least five knights in this fight. Percival, who had crashed into the keep and was probably below where an Apollomon she assumed was Svarog had crashed Lancelot into, two Tamer pairs facing off Caradoc, Dagonet and Bors trying to pick off another Tamer who had a BlackWargreymon defend her, and, last but not least, Gawain after a CaptainHookmon and MagnaAngemon, who she assumed to be Henry and Michael respectively.

With Morgan off to help Thor and Shula and Frost tackling Dagonet and that BlackWargreymon there to posdibly deal with Bors, Zaza picked her target...

...and shot at Gawain just as he was about close in on Henry and Michael again.

As she expected, he dodged out of the way, jumping back from where the bullet pierced the ground. Thus Zaza took the chance to stand between the knight and the two Guardians. Before any friendly fire could be done, she glanced over her shoulder with a toothy grin and said, pointing a thumb at the nearby Biomerged Machinedramon,

"We're here with Shula."

In her periphiral, she saw the Leopardmon narrow his eyes as he said,

"Hmm, reinforcements. Sooner than I expected but within my calculations."

Zaza returned her attention to the Knight, still smiling even as her eyes bore through him.

"I'd expect nothin' less from the smartest mind of the the knights. Wouldn't be a challenge otherwise," she said, her hands at the ready and wondering if her words would work.

The Leopardmon huffed and got into a stance. "Don't speak as if we are equals, 'Guardian'," he said.

Well it seemed to half work, not quite angering him, but certainly annoying him a little. She would have to either make sure to be more subtle if she keeps trying this way or find a more sore spot of the little leopard knight.

So she said, "Oh I could tell. It's very obvious you think you're above humans from your actions."

Zaza let loose a rain of bullets, aiming to hit him, but she knew all of them would miss as the knight easily used his speed to dodge them as he went backwards. And, as she also expected, he used the "chance" of her "recklessness" to close in, his sword ready to pierce her, only to be met with her two wing-guns to intercept it. Zaza followed it up with a hand gunshot, but, of course, Gawain broke out of the lock and, as she hoped, put distance between him and herself. The Leopardmon narrowed his eyes once again, obviously sizing her up now he figured out that she had faked recklessness and was deliberate with her words.

Then he said, "You expect me to fall for such paltry mind games and tactics, Guardian?"

Zaza smirked. Good.

"What makes you so sure that's all to my plan with them?" she said, a drip of her resentment tainting her tone.

It was subtle, almost unnoticeable, but Zaza saw his narrowed eyes and furrowed brow shift just the slightest for just a moment as he hummed in thought.

"I see," he said, taking a stance once again. "Let us dance then."

And so they did, her bullets, for the time being, the only reason she was on "even" ground with him as, even with his speed, she still had more range than him. She could only hope that that would be enough for her to be able to get a good read on his way of fighting and thinking, come up with a plan against him and somehow include the two Guardians nearest to her in said plan, before Gawain did the same with her but sooner and much more brutally.


Kogoro Cadaceus & Morgan Cadaceus
Current Form: DarkKnightmon


Morgan would admit, if only to himself, that he was a bit disappointed that not long after he had come to assist Thor against the Mega leveled Greymons that assailed him, a BeelStarmon coming to help as well, the Imperialdramon unleased the true power of the White Sword, now clad in the pure power of the blade. He now could stand toe-to-toe with several Greymons. And so he asked the BeelStarmon to go and assist the others. But he wouldn't let such a feeling stop him from nodding in agreement.

So he too left the god to his opponents and turned to try and find another...which was an easy choice.

"Treason Vortex!"

The swirl of darkness made his intended target, Bors the Sleipmon, stop in his tracks and take the hit. As Morgan knew, it did almost no damage, if not absolutely, but it gave him the chance to stand between him and the Tamer girl and her partner who the equine knight had been aiming for.

"A shame that the knights have to resort to these tactics," he said. "As sound as they are, they are not even close to chivalrous, let alone gentlemanly."

"Oh great, you remind me of Dagonet...." the red horse said under his breath. "It ain't our fault that the humans are being stubborn about—"

"I could say the same of the knights," he said, uncaring that he had just interrupted a Royal Knight.

The Sleipmom huffed and glared at him. "We are doing our duty and keeping our world safe."

"By breaking families and friendships apart?" Morgan said, glaring back at him.

"If it means our kind and world will be safe, then of course. As we Royal Knights have done for generations."

It was his turn to huff at the other's words as he brandished his twin spears. "If it means being torn from my brother, then I will fight that duty with my own."

This time the Sleipmon scoffed and said, "Then bring it."

And the two began their clash, with Morgan hoping that the female Tamer and her partner would be able to assist him soon.


Dinadan Snow (Mistymon)


It had been a long time since Dinadan had been part of a large fight, though that last time certainly wasn't quite as earth shaking and life threatening as this was. But it was familiar, the habits of a warrior still ingrained in him despite his profession, years of training and still sparring with his family keeping them from dulling. He observed his surroundings, kept his senses open and eased his muscles to be ready for anything. Which was a good thing as, before he could decide where to go that most needed his healing, he brandished his sword, turned and deflected another blade that had been aimed at Kogoro, who he had been standing nearby.

And before him stood the ruler of Greystone himself.

"Tch. I hadn't expected you to br able to do that," the EmperorGreymon as he put some distance but was still obviously ready to strike.

Dinadan first glanced at Kogoro, signalling him to be ready to escape, and, as he knew the boy would do, he nodded minutely before focusing on the Greymon. With that out of the way, he too did the same and said,

"Of course you wouldn't. We only just met."

The Greymom growled. "I don't need to know you to know your prowess," he said.

Dinadan couldn't help but frown behind his mask. "I had thought a warrior of your caliber would know not to underestimate his opponent, Greysvald."

The ruler of Greystone scoffed. "I don't need a lecture on battle from you, nameless warrior."

Well... "True," he said, because it was. "But that's all the more reason why I wonder you think of humans such a blight. Humans aren't nearly as terrifying as you seem to think they are."

Now the EmperorGreymon properly snarled. "Do not twist my words as well, boy. You will not be as lucky as that human and that Apollomon."

"And as I said before, do not underestimate an opponent," he said.

Then he moved, attacking in a way so that when their swords met, he put so little force in his own that it slid off and allowed him to follow up on it. As he hoped, the EmperorGreymon, focusing solely on that swing, did not notice that he had called out his orb and surrounded it flames.

"Core Dart!"

The orb hit from his head from his blind spot just as the warrior locked blades with Dinadan's sword. Because of that, his was dazed for a moment long enough that Dinadan broke out of it and struck him against his chest. As expected, the Greymon used the force to put distance between them and so Dinadan took the chance to see that, yes, Kogoro had left the two of them in that short bout. Which was good since now he could focus solely on dealing with the enraged EmperorGreymon.

"I should've know you would use a cheap trick," he said.

"Which wouldn't work if you were more focused, Greysvald," Dinadan pointed out. "After all, you are much more experienced than me. I had thought you would intercept even that."

The ruler of Greystone glared harder. "Enough of this talk, boy!" he said. "I have made my choice clear and I will not let you or you insane Guardians ruin our world!"

The EmperorGreymon attacked and Dinadan parried. Well, it seems like he truly will be occupied with him. But he can't face alone for long. Experience he has in training, but that is all. Dinadan had been truthful about the difference between them, even more so with their forms. So as Dinadan fought, he made sure to move in such a way that he was closer to a group of Guardians who didn't have an opponent to deal with. Or at least he hoped they didn't.

Otherwise he would have to improvise some plan to stop Greysvald by himself.
 

Solsabre

The Reforged Soul
Andrea Mercer & Deneb Odebu (Hawkmon) → Ceresmon
VS Sir Bors (Sleipmon)


“Theo!” Andrea called out, as Sir Bors and Sir Dagnet tagteamed to knock the older Greymon away from them. Deneb grabbed the back of Andrea’s jacket with his talons to hurry the female along the ground faster. They ran for cover behind a pillar, taking a precious moment to collect their breath.

Andrea peeked out from their cover at the growing mayhem as a DarkKnightmon faced off against Sir Bors.

“Deneb, you with me?” the female tamer asked, extending an arm out behind her.

The Hawkmon sighed, taking one more collective breath, and took his tamer’s outreached hand. “Always, my dear.”

Andrea’s digivice erupted with green and white, swallowing the pair. A moment later. A slender figure with trunk-like feet, shovel-like gauntlets, pink hair, and purple flowers flowing from the figure’s shoulders.

The Medium strolled forward to meet their foe with eerie silence, watching and observing the Warhorse and Dark Knight exchanging blows. The Dark Knight helped and protected their seedling forms just moments ago. The Medium would return the cooperation.

There was however a problem. The Medium wouldn’t be able to do as they did in Glen Elendra. Greystone was barren rock, devoid of plant life. There was no foliage for them to connect too. At least not yet.

The Medium woulld adapt to their environment and adapt the environment to their needs.

Vitality of a weed.

A round robust fruit grew rapidly from the vines twined in their hair. The Medium plucked the red fruit and lobbed high into the air above, growing rapidly in massive size.

Fruit Flechette.” The Medium spoke finally, their tone even and ambiguous. The fruit reached its peak, when it burst like a balloon and rained down dozens of sharpnel flechette seeds. Many of the flechettes simply bounced off of Sir Bor’s red armor and onto the ground, a fewer number found their way into the gaps of the Sleipmon’s armor. The irritation served only to anger Sir Bors further.

“Enough of this, your resistance is pointless.” Sir Bors sneered, charging forward in attack. The Medium rammed their shoveled guantlets into the rocky ground, causing a casade of vines to shoot up from the ground and wrap themselves around the warhorse’s armored legs.

Sir Bors burned through rising vines clinging to his hooves with his fiery red bolts and towards Ceresmon. The red bolts burned through the protective wall of vines, turning them to a crisp. One bolt struck the Medium in the arm.

Burning. Searing. Agonizing.

The Medium remembered burning fire from the human half of their soul. They pushed through the pain, rising to their feet to run, attempting to dodge further blows. It pained them greatly, it did, but new growth of purple flowers extended down their arm to cover and repair the damaged limb . They were not enough as they were.

Adapt. Change. Survive.

“Fruit Flechette!” Another fruit bomb burst apart high in the air, raining down more shrapnel seeds.

“Odin’s Breath.”

Ice formed along the ground in a wide circle surrounding the Royal Knight and super cooling the air. A majority of the shrapnel seeds froze and shattered into tiny crystals. The remaining fell harmlessly to the ground. Sir Bors redirected his icy attack towards Ceresmon with a mere shift of his shield. Better prepared this time, Ceresmon’s skin morphed into a thick durable bark and conifer needles replaced the tropical flowers and vines for added protection from the freezing cold.

“Fruit Flechette.” Again exploding fruit burst high into the air to spray down on its target below. Some of the pointy seeds frozed and shattered. Some burned to a crisp. Others found their way into the cracks of the earth.

“Give up.” Sir Bors yelled, not letting up on his attacks and overwhelming the courtyard with his full arsenal of fire and ice. “You are doomed to fail.”

“We will find a way,” They said eerily soft, not giving into the Sleipmon’s taunts. Tendrils of awareness stretched at the edge of their mind. The seeds that had been planted were beginning to awaken. They slammed their plant-like palm once more into the rocky, creating a wall of thick vines with large rubbery leaves. These burned much slower against Sir Bors’s fire bolts with their resistance to flame.

Fire and Ice.

Warmth to melt the ice into water. Water to seep in the cracks of the busted pavement and dirt.

The Medium dodged and endured Sir Bor’s onslaught of attacks, utilizing different adaptive measures to survive. Resting and regenerating new growth to repair the injuries, when the DarkKnightmon drew the Royal Knight’s attention away from them for a brief moment. But surviving wasn’t enough. They would need to become more in order to overcome.

The Medium touched a hand to the bare earth. She could sense the roots of her seedlings reaching deeper into the earth; her soul stretching further. Soon. Just a bit more.


Theo Grayson (BlackWarGreymon)
VS Greysvald


Greysvald lunged at the Mistymon, his broadsword descending from high above his head. A dark figure jumped in front to intervene. The sword stopped in its fall.

A dirty and scuffed Theo caught Greysvald’s broadsword between the claws of his Dramon Breakers above his head. The old soldier twisted the sword sideways forcibly, causing the Greymon King to stagger back.

“You lie.” Theo snarled angrily at the older greymon, not wanting to accept the truth. “What did you do with the human tamers?”

“Exactly as I said,” Greysvald spat with disgust, “removed them from our world, before they could further corrupt those digimon enslaved.”

Theo’s body shook with a simmering rage. “You have no idea the pain you’ve caused those digimon.” His tone had a dangerous edge that was barely restrained. The black dragon lunged forward with his Dragon Breakers, slashing at the War Chief.

“Pain?” Greysvald sneered. “We have ensured they are liberated from the influences of Dark Evolutions.”

The War Chief met Theo’s Dramon Tackle with a Flaming Edge of his burning Ryugonken. Theo sidestepped and deflected the flaming broadsword to the side with the dramon breaker’s protective gauntlet. The pair broke apart several meters.

“Liberated! You’ve only made it worse!” Theo roared. .“Black Tornado!” Dark swirling winds surrounded Theo, like a wrapped mummy, obscuring him within it and rising into the air.

“I think not,” Greysvald grumbled, “humans are the cause for digimon going on rampages and so they must be banished.”

“Soaring Nine-headed Dragon Force!” Greysvald leapt into the air, his sword ablaze, to bisect the rotating vortex. He cuts through the tornado, dispersing the attack, but the BlackWarGreymon isn’t to be seen.

“War Blaster!” A barrage of red hot fire balls rain down from above. Greysvald raised his broadsword to shield himself from the bombardment.

“If you are so concerned with Dark Evolutions that go berserk, than allow me to show you one that is in full control.” Anger thundered through Theo’s mind. Yes, dark evolutions caused by emotional upheavals of their human counterpart did unfortunately happen. But the partners could overcome it together, learn from their mistakes, and come out strong for it. Dark evolution that developed from a severed bond...Theo knew all too well how difficult it was to recover from that alone.

Theo charged Greyvald with a roar, blade and claws clashing. The fire and wind from their attacks feed off each other so that the very air distorted from the building heat. The old soldier did not let up in his assault, relentless in his strikes, seizing every opening. Theo ignored the burns and the cuts that accumulated on his body. He continued attacking with a determined furor, no longer second guessing himself. Greysvald was still older and more experienced than Theo, but further past his prime and slower to react. Where as Theo’s still maintained some, if not, most of the physical strength and stamina of his prime, a lingering effect, or gift, from his former partnership with Kyle.

Finally, Greysvald managed to break away, landing on the ground. The War Chief’s chest heaved from the effort. His armor singed and shredded in places with three diagonal marks.

“Enough of this,” Greysvald bellowed. “Nine-headed Dragon Formation!”

Nine fire dragons rose from the scorched earth, rising through the air in a tight spiral.

Theo didn’t respond, rather he reached deep within himself. To that broken pace. To the void. To the bottomless abyss of his grief and pain.

“Dark Gaia Force!” A black sphere of negative energy enlarged to four times his size between his clawed hands and heaved it to the earth below.
****

The scorched earth rumbled as Sir Bors stampeded forward to up on his hind legs to crush the cornered Medium. But that had part of the plan. Like a pitcher plant that lured unsuspecting bugs with a sweet aroma, so too, did the Medium act as the bait.

The ground shifted beneath Sir Bors.

A mountain of rock and earth, held together by vines and roots, rose and screamed to life with a terrible cry. The massive soul bird of Ceresmon tossed Sir Bors into the air as its great head emerged from the ground.

Sir Bors staggered to his feet after his crash landing. His nostrils flared in anger and charged Ceresmon with a warcry. The Massive Ceresmon snaked its head from side to side agressively. The two clashed. The trees on Ceresmon’s wings and legs burned or frozen. Chunks of rock fell off it back. Ceresmon roared in fury, swinging it’s club like tail in Sir Bors’s side, battering him hard and scoffing his red armor. The pair brawled in primal fury. New growth quickly regenerated to replace the destroyed vegetation and reinforcing Ceresmon’s rock body.

Ceresmon Medium ducked behind cover, waiting for an opportunity to rejoin her other soul and combine their strength together. Until then, she would take the burden of Ceresmon’s pain that echoed across their connection, so the great bird could keep fighting.
 

Kamotz

God of Monsters
< Thor Odinson >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


He charged. Starkad's desperate blast of plasma fractured against his shining armor. The ZekeGreymon charged to meet him like a bolt of lightning, but Thor extended his hand and caught the Greymon's charge in his open palm. With a flick of his wrist he tossed the giant golden dragon away and continued unhindered.

Hrothgar and the BlackWarGreymon surged towards him once again, claws drawn back, but Thor made three quick slashes with his sword and shattered their Dramon-killing weapons to pieces before hurling them away in a wash of power. As he turned back Starkad shot towards him and landed a heavy blow to his chin, but he barely felt it. It was the barest pressure against him.

Thor struck back with a punch of his own, and despite the BlitzGreymon's best efforts, his protective plasma field crumpled under Thor's strength and collapsed upon him like it was made of paper.

And then it was just Thor and the ShineGreymon. Thor and Gunnar.

Thor had to give Gunnar credit. He was brave. He had watched the tide turn so suddenly, but there was no fear in his eyes; just a grim determination, as if he finally realized the mountain he had to climb to claim victory.

But Gunnar didn't understand, not truly. Thor was not the mountain, he was the sky above it. And no matter how high on that mountain Gunnar climbed, he would never reach Thor.

They struck, weapons clanging together, flashing like lightning and sunlight. Gunnar fought valiantly, but Thor could feel it, could see it in the air -- the shards of metal flickering in the sparks of their collision. And with one final stroke, Thor shattered the GeoGrey Sword like glass. The edge of the White Sword remained as it had for thousands of years. Perfectly unblemished.

"You may yield now," Thor said, with a voice that rumbled with the White Sword's power. He barely recognized it himself. The sword in his grip crackled with the same power, thrumming low and audibly beneath the roar of the battle around them. Even in the feeling of that power, Thor knew to keep his mind focused, to remember that his was not the only battle, and that others would need him. There was more than just his fight going on.

"You sanctimonious prick!" Gunnar snarled, clawing his way to his feet. "That's what you don't get. That's why we chose the Royal Knights. I don't give up. I don't just let someone take my world. I'm a Greymon. We. Don't. Yield!"

Gunnar exploded with light. It ignited his armor, glowing red-hot with its fiery power. His radiant wings dissolved into the fire and flared angrily behind him.

A Burst Mode.

==\=/==

< Michael Ha'Yisrael >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Michael knew they were at a disadvantage. Gawain was simply too strong to be outmatched or overcome through haphazard tactics. They were too uncoordinated, too eager to jump into the fray. And Gawain knew this, knew how to leverage them against each other. He knew how to cut them off before they could begin to develop a rhythm. It was maddening: Gawain could see the patterns in their uncoordinated movements better than they could.

As soon as they began to get a feel for one another, Gawain was there to cut them off, to break their stride and send them scurrying back into their sloppy, slapdash, and haphazard tripping over one another. Despite their chaos and disorganization, Gawain could still read them like a book, play the battlefield like a chess board.

Gawain wove through the MagnaKidmon's attacks, using the distance to his advantage. He was quick enough on his feet and in the air to avoid the majority of the shots and deflect what he couldn't dodge. He was a master of positioning himself, reading the angle of the MagnaKidmon's weaponry, calculating bullet velocity, and timing fire. Even with Henry joining in the barrage, It looked so effortless.

Michael was jealous.

For his part, Michael held back, focusing instead on putting some sort of cohesive plan together, but so far his only semi-realistic strategy was to tire out Gawain and hope he slipped. It wasn't a good plan. Gawain was completely dictating the pace and positioning of the fight. It may have felt like the MagnaKidmon and Henry were keeping him at bay, but he was exactly where he wanted to be; far enough to keep them ineffective and Michael entirely out of the fighting. He couldn't engage without being in their line of fire, and he couldn't stand up to Gawain on his own, not without Digivolving.

And even if he did, would that be enough? Gawain surely would have already accounted or such a possibility. The increased power and speed might allow him to engage on more even footing, but that would force the fighting into closer distance where both Michael's and Gawain's ranged attacks would be more effective, while also cutting off Michael's allies from their most effective measures.

By dictating the pace, all Gawain had to do was look for an opening and exploit it. They were going to make a mistake sooner than later, and then it would be over.

They had to make a mistake that they could control...on purpose...in a way that Gawain wouldn't anticipate or expect.

It had to be him.

Michael threw his shield over his shoulder and charged, he felt the MagnaKidmon's shots impact against the shield briefly before she cut off her attack. Michael registered the briefest moment of hesitation and surprise in Gawain's movements, but it was fleeting. The Royal Knight regained his footing within a step. He repositioned himself so that Michael was between him and the shooters, and met Michael's charge.

The exchange was quick. Michael had years of experience, had seen more combat than almost any other angel. But he had never faced anyone like Gawain. Gawain had coordinated his steps and movements perfectly; utilized the momentum of his charge, timed it with the thrust of his sword, and outpaced Michael with a sudden burst of footwork, to put Michael on the defensive within two strokes.

He'd acted later, taken fewer steps, moved less, and had the advantage in momentum and positioning, all within two strokes of a sword.

A precise punch to the side of the head sent stars dancing across Michael's vision. Even floating in the air, his equilibrium faltered and he lost his balance. Searing pain erupted in his chest as Gawain drove his rapier home. And with a savage kick he knocked Michael off the blade and sent him careening into the ever-growing rubble of Greystone.

Michael could only hope that he'd bought Henry and the MagnaKidmon enough time to reposition themselves and engage.

==\=/==

< Serra Castiel >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Serra sprinted over the ruins of the Grey Keep, dodging stray blasts while avoiding craters and quickly-widening cracks in the ground, striking down the odd Greymon that was unfortunate to get in her way. She was screaming at herself all the while, furious. They'd tried to kill her, kill all of them, kill Thor -- and she'd had to save him again. If they kept that up someone was going to get ideas about the two of them.

But despite all of that, she held herself in check, held back every instinct that Samael had drilled into her over...God...how long had they ridden together? Five years? A decade? She'd lost track. The quick kill; the slow kill; the painful kill; the kill that scared the living; the kill that scarred the living; the kill that scarred the dead. Samael had drilled those urges into her, twisted her very core around them until she'd become almost as warped as him.

It had taken a long time to break free of that, to recondition herself, to become more than just his little monster. Her loathing of that, was stronger than her anger at the Greymon, and she refused to give into it.

A spinning backhand cracked the carapaced skull of a Greymon that snapped its jaws too close. It dropped like a stone, but it'd live. A heel-kick accentuated with gunfire drilled into the chest of a MetalGreymon and crumpled its chest armor, but her zipping bullet cut its flight and dropped away before puncturing into the deeper, more fragile layers of flesh and circuitry. A RizeGreymon fired a blast from its revolver arm, but Serra caught the blast and hurled it back down the barrel in one smooth motion. It exploded at the cylinder and sent twisted metal shrapnel pelting a half-dozen of the surrounding Greymon.

She had to be more. She had to do more. The Greymon were an annoyance, but they could be handled. Thor was about to wipe the floor with those five idiots. The Royal Knights, on the other hand…

She spotted one amidst the smoke, clashing against a Machinedramon. The metal dragon was putting up a fight, but even though it towered over the Royal Knight it was on the back foot. The Craniamon's double-bladed spear scored deep gashes in the Machinedramon's metal hide while blocking the dragon's attempted counterattacks with strong sweeping motions. The knight never stopped whirling that spear, and it was obvious to anyone (nevermind someone with three eyes) that the Machinedramon didn't have a great handle on the fight. Each exchange: a pair of swipes from the Machinedramon and a series of sweeping movements from Dagonet, forced the dragon back another few steps.

Serra darted forward, half-scrabbling over the ground, keeping herself hidden in the dust and smoke until the last moment. Dagonet dropped the spear to his left, knocking back the Machinedramon's trident arm, and switched directions and readied the right-sweep. She watched the arc of the knight's weapon and made her move. Before he could pivot his wrist, Serra leaped forward, drove both her heels, and fired her stiletto guns onto the flat of the blade.

The blast stopped Dagonet's swing in its tracks and caught the Royal Knight off guard. His footing faltered. He fumbled with the spear. He turned his eyes away from the Machinedramon and moved to face Serra, only to realize too late what he'd done.

The Machinedramon drilled him with its booster claw and sent him crashing into the ground.

"What's up?" Serra asked the Machinedramon, learning from Dagonet's folly and not taking her eyes from the fallen knight. "I'm Serra. Hope you don't mind me cutting in. I haven't shot this one yet."

==\=/==

< Samael Cain >
The Grey Keep, Greystone


The dragons fought with all the blusting noise typical of their kind. All bellowing passions and heartaches and woe-is-me. All insulted and hurt and...boring. No one here had the decency to just die screaming already.

Still, it did present some rather interesting opportunities. All that impassioned bellowing...he'd heard it all before; heard the sudden wet gurgle that followed as soon as he cut it off. And that -- that was a beautiful sound. All that blustering potential just...silenced, and drowning in its own blood. And it had been so long since he'd indulged.

So the dragons clashed, tearing at one another, roaring insults and indignities and all that bullshit, and Samael made his way through the mess of battle. His claws cut ribbons through the mass of Greymon soldiers. He cut through scale and flesh and bone. He let that copper smell fill the air, a red haze in his wake. They'd live…probably. His…mandate from the Host had been one of restraint. To preserve life and prevent the loss of life...except, of course, when absolutely necessary.

The judgment of which, naturally, they left up to him.

Samael understood, of course, that he was on proverbially thin ice with the so-called Guardians and Michael. After the fiasco with the wolf-girls they were all so…sensitive. And if he wanted to remain in the Host's employ, he knew he needed to conserve his more violent impulses.

The world between them exploded in a wash of dragonfire and Samael felt his skin blister and char under the heat. He gasped in excitement as his skin stitched back together. They clashed again, sword and claw. More roaring indigities. More hurt feelings. Then the big one with the sword hurled the other one back and battered down some sort of...wimpy magician with a pointy hat and a cape.

And Samael saw his opening

The other dragon charged again, but Samael slipped from the dust and darkness like an aneurism, he outpaced the dragon, knocked him out of his way with a spinning kick, and with that same fluid motion, buried his left hand to the wrist in the big dragon's chest.

"Gggluuu…" Yes. There it was. That sound. The gurgle. He looked the other Digimon in the eyes and savored that wrenching moment of realization. The slow drain of life and strength and will that preceded one's inevitable failure.

"Speak up," Samael whispered in the EmperorGreymon's ear. The Warchief spasmed defiantly around his hand, but a savage twist of claws-in-body-cavity violently bled what little strength Greysvald had remaining. His sword dropped to the ground and he pawed hopelessly at Samael's wrist. "I think you were saying some sanctimonious bravado bullshit, weren't you?"

Greysvald's knees sagged and he dropped, held up only by Samael's claws in his chest. He was already beginning to fade away, leaking data in torrents from the wound on his chest, and dissolving at the edges.

"Ya had such swag just a minute ago. What happened?" Samael taunted, his face cutting a wicked grin. He twisted again, and Greysvald's eyes widened. He let out a strangled gasp, and then lost the strength to even hold his arms up from his sides.

"I'm sorry to cut this short, pal, but you're…boring," Samael continued. He nodded to Theo, who had scrambled to his feet after being gracelessly knocked away. "And this guy had left such nice big gashes in that armor. Felt like such a shame to let them go to waste, ya know?" He gave Theo an exaggerated thumbs-up. "You're welcome, numb-nuts."

Samael licked his teeth and leaned in close. "I want you to know, I agree with you," Samael said. "'Bout these humans. There's something not quite right with them." More gasping and gurgling, as blood began leaking from the joints of Greysvald's armor. "There it is," the fallen one sneered. The confusion. "I can f*ckin' taste it. 'Why'd he do this if he agrees?' You ask." Samael laughed. "It's cus I ain't afraid of them."

With a single savage motion, Samael ripped his hand from Greysvald's chest and grabbed him by the face before he even hit the ground. His bloody claws dug into Greysvald's armor, hissing black smoke and leaving it spider-webbed with cracks that bled even more data.

"And ya failed, little dragon," Samael taunted him. "Not just this…dumb mission of yours. But all yer people, living and dead, and whatever's left of the ones I cut through to get here. Ya failed." His grin turned wild and he hoisted Greysvald up by his jaw. "There won't be anything left of this place. Centuries of standing, and you let it crumble in an afternoon."

And then, there it was. The eyes wide and teary. The final moment of life as grim reality took hold. Bloody, black, and burning.

Samael's reality.
 
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storymasterb

Knight of RPGs
Hoshiko Yukimura & Okatsu Sekishusai
The Grey Keep, Greystone


Ice and lightning weaved through the air, uncoordinated, out of synch, yet still Okatsu and Artanis forced Caradoc back with their combined onslaught. The CresGarurumon and BlitzGreymon fought in their own niches, Okatsu dancing in whenever Artanis seemed to falter, Artanis weathering Caradoc's blows with resilience Okatsu simply didn't have. The Royal Knight still bled from the wounds they'd dealt him before and when Hoshiko looked at him with Okatsu's sharp eyes she was sure his movements were slowing, the effort of fighting them both taking its toll.

But beneath satisfaction that their strategy had paid off, a bitter cold stung when she looked at the BlitzGreymon fighting beside them. She'd seen it, dazed as she was, watched the RizeGreymon come barreling in like a madman, seen the pair throw themselves into the way of Caradoc's attack. They should have been killed. Maimed, at absolute best. But instead they had thrown themselves into that draconic fire and emerged stronger than ever, like their recklessness had been rewarded.

Like it always was. James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame, surviving the heart of the battle while everyone else died around them.

Okatsu's mind brushed hers with warmth, troubled thoughts seeping over their mental link. Something Theo had said? But Caradoc's Breath of Wyvern howled and in an instant that memory was gone, replaced by battle instinct. The CresGarurumon danced back and even Artanis ignited his boosters, putting enough distance between himself and the Dynasmon to weather the flames. His Elec Guard had long since burned out from the effort of tanking blow after blow, and however long it took to recharge, he clearly hadn't had long enough.

Flames scorched stone, leaving the ground of the Grey Keep blackened in the wyvern's wake. As soon as the flames turned to embers Okatsu lunged, Artanis too racing back into the fray. Caradoc growled as he met the BlitzGreymon fist-to-fist, Plasma Stake on Dragon Thrower making the air scream an instant. The two brawled, eyes close and glaring, trading punch after punch before Artanis roared "Thunder Vernier!" and Caradoc was knocked skidding over the earth. Okatsu chased him down in a rush, glaive slashing through shattered plate to rip into scales.

"Jurou Daikaiten!" They spun through the air and carved into Caradoc, evading a heavy blow that would have hurled them flying, leaping over him just in time to avoid being snatched from the air and dashed on the ground. Artanis was back in the fray a moment later, rocketing in to land a crackling punch right on the Dynasmon's jaw.

-

James Reeve & Artanis Dawnflame
The Grey Keep, Greystone


James felt the impact of Artanis's punch right up his arm, shaking it to the bone, but he couldn't help but feel triumph as the impact knocked Caradoc reeling.

"Plasma Stake!" the Tamer called in time with Artanis, a second knock forcing Caradoc back another step. The Royal Knight roared, eyes burning with anger now, fist uncurling to reveal his palm ablaze with light.

"Dragon Thrower!" The blast clipped Artanis in the shoulder as he tried to dodge and James winced as he felt it shudder through his own arm, his partner's pain felt like his own. But they powered through it, even without the Elec Guard Artanis's armor held firm and they kept going. Caradoc brought both fists down and Artanis's arms crossed protectively, the Dynamon's hammer-like blows making the crimson Digizoid of the BlitzGreymon's gauntlets ring like a bell before the Royal Knight's raw strength forced Artanis to his knees.

"Geki: Hyougetsuga!"

Icicles rained, some clipping Artanis as they hailed down on Caradoc. They dug into open wounds and found the gaps in sundered armor, enough to distract him a moment. That moment was all Artanis needed, igniting his boosters and shooting upward, Caradoc's faltering arms giving way against the force of his rise. The Dynasmon tumbled back as Okatsu lunged, eyes bright and jaw set, raking her blade into Caradoc again and again in swift slashes as he reeled.

They were winning, James dared to think, watching Caradoc force Okatsu away with a desperate Breath of Wyvern. Flames licked at Artanis's armor and the Tamer felt their heat, gritting his teeth as his partner weathered the inferno. They stalked out of the fire as it died, footfalls heavy on burnt ground as they advanced toward where Caradoc panted and glared. Okatsu stalked closer too, the CresGarurumon giving them an oddly wary nod before focusing back on the stricken Dynasmon.
 

TheSequelReturns

Faithful Crusader
- Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon > AvengeKidmon) -
- Greystone -


His life used to be so simple Henry thought as he took a precious moment to catch his breath. "Who hid the booze?" and "Why did you stab him?" and "Where are my pants?" seemed like such welcome problems to him now. But here he was, leading a group of hare-brained fighters who couldn't teamwork their way out of a wet cardboard box, wondering if he could take a moment to digivolve without getting shanked, and losing a three on one fight with a Knight best known for his brains. Misery, thy name is Vane. Somewhere his old man was probably laughing his rear off, assuming the salty bastard was sober enough to watch from whatever alcohol laden afterlife he'd shambled off to. Probably saving a seat for him too.

But Henry wasn't ready to share a pint with with his old man just yet.

The newcomer, the MagnaKidmon, was certainly skilled enough. And Michael was... Michael. But this Royal Knight wasn't so much fighting them as simply letting the fight happen around him. Gwain moved without wasting any energy. Forcing his opponents to either waste their movements or reconsider their attack. Even with two of his opponents using ranged attacks he still found a way to make them waste movements. Tiring them out little by little and making it look as easy as a ballroom sway.

Michael took a step forward, planning his next move. Gwain watching them like a owl deciding which mouse to dive on. Henry turned to share a look with the MagnaKidmon, see if he could tell what she was thinking, and he almost missed Michael's move.

It was over in a flash. A rush of angelic wings, a glint of blades, a single, metallic impact, and Michael was down. It was only a moment, but it was the moment Henry had needed. The look of determination he had seen in the MagnaKidmon's eyes was all he needed. With a flash, Henry digivolved and rushed in.

If his partner in this tango of gunfire had the fire he thought he'd seen in her eyes, she'd moving with him. If this was part of Michael's plan, he'd not let it go to waste. If the angel was down, Henry would avenge him. Gwain would try to use their opposite positions against them. Make them too scared to hit each other to take the shot. But Henry wasn't a coward and he'd survived more than one brush with death with much less friendly fire. Would his partner do the same? Would she trust him to take the shot anyway? Would she take the shot herself? Only one way to find out.

Henry closed the distance and fired everything he had at the Royal Knight. Firing at his feet, his center of mass, his head. Forcing him to move, to take the side step. And hopefully Zaza's bullets would be there to meet him. He'd let her have the killshot so long as this plan worked.

---

- Aria Morningsong (Bancho Lilimon) -
- Grey Keep Underground -


Sir Perival rushed towards the three Guardians in a charge, “Magna Kick!” Golden energy started pulsating with growing intensity around his outstretched foot at Stein, only to feint at the last second around the Titamon’s counter swipe and pivot to hit Tessa.

“Spirit Strike.” Tessa whispered, her command carried effortlessly on breeze produced by her wind kitsune. The four elemental foxes intervened to protect their master, each wrapping their ghostly bodies around the Magnamon’s limbs to hamper his movements.

“Magna Blast!” light erupted from Percival’s armor in an attempt to blast the foxes away. The light had barely faded when Aria took the opportunity to strike at the Royal Knight herself.

Her weapon slashed at Percival’s weak points from behind, thorns cutting at the scales between the all but indestructible armor that he wore. “You’re strong, but you have some obvious openings.” Aria bragged as her attacks struck home.

Percival spun around with a lightning fast sweeping kick, trying to knock Aria off-balance. She tumbled as her legs were kicked out from under her, rolling to get back to her feet before Percival could attack again. And then the ground erupted into a million fragments of stone as Stein’s massive greatsword hit the spot where Aria had been standing a second before. Was he aiming at her or Percival? Did it matter at all to him in this state?

The Sakuyamon floated through the air, always maintaining her distance in a fight. She glanced at Stein with increasing worry and quickly pondered her and Aria’s dilema. They had to keep Stein’s focus away from them and on the Royal Knight. A thought came to her.

Her water and wind Kitsune buzzed on either side of Stein’s head to distract him from taking another swipe with his greatsword in Aria’s direction. The two nimble spirits dodged away from his razor sharp claws, teasing the Titamon’s skin with their breeze and water, and changed their flight towards Sir Perival, redirecting Stein’s attention to him. The water kitsune spat water in Sir Perival’s face for good measure as the water spirit shot past him.

Sir Percival wiped the water off his face angry, glaring at the Sakuyamon. “Plasma Shoot!” A barrage of missiles sailed in her direction. Her wind and water kitsunes jumped in front of Tessa with their combined elements swirling, feeding off each other, and forming a protective ice barrier to absorb most of the missiles’ blast. However, a stray missile got past and exploded, throwing the Sakuyamon against a shattered wall. “Fox Card!” Tessa shouted, managing to throw a couple paper seals into the air, before she crashed into the wall stunned. Her wind kitsune carried the paper seals in it’s slipstream through the air, attaching the seals to Sir Percival’s left leg. Tessa weakly made a hand gesture from her prone position on the ground. The explosive seals erupted with a fiery explosion.

Percival spun with all the martial grace of a Royal Knight using the explosion’s momentum to launch himself, his own injuries be damned, at Aria. She didn’t have time to dodge and an armored forearm caught her in the chest and sent her tumbling. Percival stood over her for a single moment with that proud, arrogant look in his eyes as he planned his next attack. And then the thorny vine of Aria’s yo-yo pulled tight on his leg and made him lose his footing.

“Is that all you have is tricks?” Percival shouted as he caught himself on his claws and pivoted around.

Aria smirked. “Might want to keep your head up.”

Stein’s fist fell through the air in the wake of one of Tessa’s foxes and bearing down on the Magnamon. He dodged to the side, only to be slammed in the chest by the water spirit fox, and then followed by the electric fox dancing across his water soaked form. His limbs spasmed from the voltage coursing through his body. The Royal Knight stumbles a half step, and ignites his thrusters to get away.

“Spirit Strike!” The Sakuyamon cried out, summoning all four of her foxes together in a combo formation. Water magnifying Electric. Wind feeding Fire. All four elementals drove into Sir Percival’s battered form.

The air around Percival seemed to shimmer for a moment, air and debris and perhaps the space itself pulling towards him before blinding rays of light erupted from his form and swept anything around him to the side. Stein roared a challenge, daring the Royal Knight to face him. His dark miasma was growing so thick and cold that it almost felt like water pressing down on the combatants.

Percival dashed forward, a comet of light diving headfirst into the dark clouds building around Stein. Flashes of light danced across the giant as the Royal Knight began his assault, each hit like a supernova in the dark cloud. The Titamon clawed at his chest, swatting at Percival like he was an annoying insect until;

“Magna Blast!”

Stein stumbled back into the wall, wild roar tearing from his mouth as the giant hit the stone. Tessa’s foxes were on Percival in an instant, nipping and clawing at him. Blasting him with elemental attacks. He dove, his breath ragged and raspy from inhaling Stein’s dark miasma, only to find Aria spinning towards him.

“Twin Petal!” The kicks landed on his forearm, square on the armor, but Aria wasn’t done. Her yo-yo moved to wrap itself around his limbs, stretching eagerly for his neck. “Nightmare A-”

Percival launched his thrusters, cutting off Aria’s word as his fist wrapped around her throat. She wretched herself free before he could tighten his grip but Percival bore down on her and drove his clawed foot into her chest. Aria was stuck against the rock as the Magnamon’s claws dug into her chest but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of crying out in pain.

Aria could feel the heat radiating off of Percival’s armor as he built up energy for another Magna Blast. Of maybe an even stronger attack. He was going to wipe her out here and now.

“Pity.” he said. “I do hate to break pretty things, but you’ve been a serious thorn in my side. Any last words?”

Aria coughed up blood and said, “I told you to watch your head.”

He saw it an instant too late. Stein’s sword cleaved through the air like the blade of a whirlwind, moving faster than any weapon that size had a right to. Aria had a single moment to take in the sight of Percival, armor glowing like a star from the building energy, hands clawing at the smooth uncaring sides of the bone sword for any purchase he could use as Stein slammed the Royal Knight into the upper corner of the room and the entire space exploded with light and dust.

---

The streets of Greystone erupted like a volcano. A shower of superheated stone blasted from the underground chambers with a deafening boom. Somewhere, tumbling through the shower of debris was the battered and beaten body of Sir Percival.

And standing at the epicenter of the blast, his footing turned into so many hundred tons of superheated slag mid charge, was an unfortunate Sir Bors who was sent carening, backside aflame in what was surely his most undignified moment, past Theo and into the upper stories of a guardpost. Followed immediately by several large, smoldering boulders.

The massive Ceresmon bird cocked it’s enormous head sideways in confusion to it’s other half at it’s feet.

Ceresmon Medium just shrugged her shoulders.

_____

“That’s one way to put in a new skylight.” Tessa commented dryly, as she created a healing circle with a tap of her staff, healing her and Aria’s wounds and bruises. Healing this way was so much more effective than doing one person at a time. “How are you feeling?”

Her skin prickled a bit as her fresh wounds closed up. She wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth as she struggled to her feet. Her ears were ringing so bad, so could barely make out what Tessa was saying, but even that was seeming to lessen bit by bit as the magic did its thing. Though, she wasn’t sure even Tessa’s magic could get that terrible, metallic taste out of her mouth. And her arm… was it pink? Like Henry’s? That almost made her shiver, but there would be time to ponder the changes her new form had brought later.

“Like I just fought a Royal Knight.” Aria said, her throat ragged. “And I’m not entirely sure I won.”

“I wouldn’t imagine so…” Tessa said, slightly distracted. Her arms crossed awkward over her chest and then shifted them to her side. A pink blush was visible on her cheeks. The Sakuyamon fidgeted so much like she wanted to fold in on herself and hide. “Sir Percival sure likes to get physical...I mean kicking and punching physical...not…other physical activities I mean...AHH!”

The flustered Sakuyamon paced furiously back and forth, before facing Aria. “How can anyone concentrate in a fight with these things jiggling around so much?!” Tessa said, pointing to her chest.

Aria coughed awkwardly, turning her gaze away for a moment and towards the slowly clearing clouds of dust. “We may have bigger problems than your blooming figure.” she said.

Stein was slowly climbing the wall, bit by bit, clawing for daylight like a demon emerging from the abyss.

Aria turned back to Tessa. Then back to the monster climbing the wall. Then back to the blushing Sakuyamon. “Don’t suppose putting those to use might calm him down a bit?”

Tessa snapped a glare at Aria faster than Sir Percival could turn into a nightlight that said one thing, HELLLLL NOOOOOO!

However, the Sakuyamon’s gaze followed the Titamon’s path to the surface. She sighed, forgetting her own reality-shattering problem, and said, “but we need to do something fast. If Stein gets loose in the city, there might not be anything left to rebuild with. The Stein I know would never forgive himself.”

A huge hand raised itself from the crater, towering out of the billowing dust before falling. Giant fingers found purchase on the streets above and the Titamon let out a beastly roar, a challenge to anything that would dare face it as it pulled itself skyward.

The Bancho Lilimon looked up at the slowly escaping Stein. “Then we’d better get moving. And thinking. Cause he’s not giving us a choice.”

Tessa nodded. Tapping her staff twice, she began to ascend into the air to pursue their wayward Guardian.
 

Solsabre

The Reforged Soul
Ceresmon
GreyKeep Courtyard (What’s left of it anyway…)


The soul bird of Ceresmon circled in a standoff with Sir Bors, keening it’s terrible cry in challenge, the vegetation on it’s back shifting to quickly repair the damage the Royal Knight had inflicted. The moment broke and both charged one another for another clash.

Suddenly the ground turned into molten rock, hot with smoke rising from developing cracks. Ceresmon jumped back into the air in alarm with its great wings, knocking over ancient walls and towers. A brilliant light, in the form of Sir Percival, erupted from the ground like a rocket and launched through the air into nearby buildings. Unfortunately, Sir Bors happened to be in mid-charged right where the Magnamon exited the ground and got knocked into next week as well as a watch tower.

The bird Ceresmon cocked its massive head sideways in confusion at the Medium now standing at it’s talon feet.

Ceresmon Medium just shrugged their shoulders to the bird and the Dark Knightmon fighting alongside them.

However, the trio didn’t have long to ponder the strangeness of the moment, when another monstrous roar bellowed above the ruined city.

Ceresmon responded in kind with it’s own harsh keening of challenge, shifting protectively over it’s Medium and allied DarkKnightmon.

------

Theo Grayson (BlackWarGreymon)

Theo’s chest heaved from the exertion of the fight. Using such powerful attacks so recklessly was always tiring. Generally, he tried to use them sparingly to conserve strength, but Greysvald’s actions..his words...had lit the dormant fire of his species aflamed within Theo, as well as ripped open the wound of his soul he was trying to heal.

"Aww, what's the matter, sad panda?" Samael sneered at Theo. "Did I step on your toes with this one? You were tryin' to prove a point, weren't ya?" He made a mock-wince of regret. "Sorry."

The older Greymon snarled, but before he could retort, the ground spat out an exploding Magnamon through the air and sent a Sir Bors flying over his head as well. Theo ducked on instinct, utterly baffled by the current turn of events. He glanced over his shoulder towards the epic center. A monstrosity emerged from the fractured earth, roaring a challenge. The BlackWarGreymon vaguely recalled the same Titamon from the battle at Glen Elendra, but something was wrong.

Theo gripped the shoulder of the Mistymon that was with him. “Come on, we’re not done here yet.”

He jumped into the air, looking back over his shoulder to make sure the Mistymon followed suit. Deep down, he was thankful for the distraction. He didn’t want to deal with the other monster behind him at the moment.
 
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