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Digimon: Unholy Crusade

Discussion in 'Role-Playing Games' started by Kamotz, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    Axis Mundi, the Free City
    Some time ago


    Tamers were mustered in Axis Mundi, warriors garrisoned in a central base from which they could reinforce their comrades across the globe, and refugees coming here to plead before the Council for aid. They were camped together, seeking sanctuary in numbers and comfort with those who shared their plight. Some sat alone in silence, grieving and nursing hearts broken when their partners were cut down by the relentless blades of the Royal Knights. Their worlds had broken like glass.

    He watched and wished he could have saved their partners.

    James Reeve looked down from the balcony which overlooked the camp, taking in the sights. A new group of Tamers had just arrived, scholars, archaeologists and treasure-hunters from the famed Hoshiko Guild near Ama. He couldn't imagine how far they'd marched to get here and how many battles they'd fought along the way. He had only witnessed the last of their battles, and fought there to try and get them that last step of the way. He'd managed that at least, but he picked out how many of their number stood alone with eyes full of grief and again he wished he could have protected them.

    "That Yukimura woman is strong," Artanis Dawnflame commented from his side. "Have you seen her? She's exhausted from the march and yet she hasn't so much as sat down since she got inside the city, she's like a whirlwind, "find me a healer" and "I seek audience with the Council"."

    James nodded idly, scanning the crowd in search of the woman they were discussing. She was nowhere in sight. "I knew she wouldn't go down without a fight. She made her guild a symbol of what Digimon and humans can achieve together, I didn't think she'd just let that go. Not after years of building it."

    The Agumon looked up at his partner. "What do you think she'll do, though? Now that she's in a safe haven."

    "Keep fighting."

    The two turned back to see the topic of discussion emerge from the doorway to their left, her Gabumon X partner at her side. Hoshiko Yukimura cut a demure yet solid figure, dressed for exploration and with eyes both bright and hard. Her expression was one of determination.

    James smiled. "It's good to meet you when we're not trying to avoid being cut in half." He chuckled and she smiled back for just a moment.

    "I wanted to thank you," she said. "If you and your friends hadn't helped our group, I think we'd be mourning many more right now."

    "I don't want to see people die," James said. "We've got to look out for one another, right? I couldn't just leave you to get killed."

    "We appreciate it," the Gabumon said with a bow of her head. "I am Okatsu Sekishusai and I thank you for assisting my partner and those under her protection."

    "Artanis Dawnflame," Artanis replied. "It was our duty to help you."

    "James Reeve," his partner added, offering a hand. Hoshiko shook it and then returned her own hand to her side. "And you're Hoshiko Yukimura, of course."

    Hoshiko laughed. "I see I've made a name for myself in that case. I just wish we were meeting under better circumstances." The atmosphere soured.

    "We all do," James murmured. "But it's still good to meet you. And if you're going to be fighting, then I'm glad to have you on my side."

    "I've heard of you," Okatsu commented. "You're the daredevil who risks his life putting himself between the Royal Knights and Tamer camps they're about to attack to buy time for evacuation. We rescued Tamers on our journey who told us about you around the campfire."

    "Nice to know I'm making an impression," he said, his smile widening. "I'm just fighting the good fight, keeping people safe. It's what I'm here for."

    "That's what I want to do," Hoshiko said softly. "Fight to keep the others safe." He looked into her eyes and saw the grief she was burying, the same grief that he hid behind his smile. The grief of his father's death and now the grief of the friends he had watched the Knights and their servants kill without mercy. Good friends slain, people he had laughed and joked with so many times cut down in an instant by an unstoppable warrior. He knew Hoshiko had seen the same terrible things. She had marched so far across the world that he was sure she had watched her friends die, whether by the swords of the Knights or from the harsh conditions she had marched through. For her to be standing here in Axis Mundi after all that was incredible.

    His Digivice chimed, and he gave Hoshiko an apologetic smile before answering it. "James here."

    "James, it's Alexis. We've got word of a small Tamer group making their way from the south, but they're being chased by a Coredragon and Wingdramon force."

    James nodded, looking at Hoshiko. "On my way. I'll meet you on the way south." He cut off the call. "Duty calls."

    "Go fight the good fight," she replied. "I'd join you, but I have to help my friends settle in and keep trying to get an audience with the Council."

    "Maybe one day," he smiled as he raced away with Artanis in tow, Digivice ready to evolve his partner as soon as they had clear space to take flight.

    ----

    Axis Mundi, the Free City
    Temple of the High Council
    Now


    Hoshiko stood in the chamber, seeing the beaten and wounded all around. The warriors had returned from a battle she had not taken part in, for she had been occupied with new Tamers settling in and those among them who needed to be taken to a healer. The failures across the face of Saga had displaced more Tamers, it seemed, and those allied with the Knights were just as ruthless. A young boy had come in, not older than fourteen, crying about the partner he had seen slain before his eyes. She remembered holding him close and letting him cry into her shoulder and she could still feel the damp where his tears had soaked into her shirt.

    It reminded her of the guild hall burning and the screams she had heard that first day. Of the screams that had continued on the long march from Ama to Axis Mundi. She remembered fighting desperately through mountain passes and forests, Okatsu's glaive tearing through the enemies who threatened them, but some foes slipped past the circle of warriors and innocents were taken. She kept seeing it in her dreams and was reminded whenever new Tamers reached the city, inevitably with the wounded and the grieving among their number.

    James was among the crowd, somehow wearing his brave smile in the face of defeat. She was sure he'd gone out to fight. They'd met in passing once or twice since he had raced off from their talk on the balcony, with him always in a hurry to go somewhere and save someone. That just seemed to be his way of dealing with what was happening, she supposed.

    "Perhaps we should have joined them," Okatsu murmured from her side.

    She wished they had joined the assault. After marching for mile after mile with thoughts of blood and fire and hatred for the Royal Knights searing through her, she might have found fighting them soothing in some strange way. She had come all this way to try and get the Council to help, only to find them doing something on their own initiative, and circumstance had kept her from eagerly joining the fight. But now, perhaps, she was needed.

    An angelic Digimon emerged from the crowd, one she had at least heard of. Michael, the Archangel. A demonic figure leaned on the doorway behind him, one she didn't know. She wondered if the two were on familiar terms by some oddity, or if the crisis of the Knights called for such a desperate alliance. She listened as Michael spoke, curious about what he would propose.

    "Not all the Knights are equipped to handle same types of combat. Assemble a team with varying skillsets, armaments, and abilities. Match them against the Royal Knights in a way that is tactically advantageous--we know their strengths. They do not know ours."

    She exchanged looks with Okatsu, the pair nodding, and then glanced at James to see him smiling wider. She already knew what his answer would be should Michael ask the question she was expecting. She knew he wouldn't be dissuaded because everything she knew about him, about his reputation, said that he wasn't going to let defeat break his spirit and that he'd keep fighting until he won or until the Knights forced him to stop by killing him. If James Reeve had a limit, no one she talked about about him knew what it was.

    He caught her stare and met her gaze, nodding to her as though to confirm that yes, he was going to keep fighting.

    Michael declared his intent to join the group he had proposed, followed by Thor and Svarog. The two gods were familiar in reputation, the former more so, but Hoshiko had never met them. She had visited the realms to which they belonged and to some degree studied their histories, but only for short times before other finds came to her attention.

    "Who else? Who stands with us?" Michael's words echoed around the room, heavy as iron blocks somehow. She had thought for so long about wanting to fight the knights, about wanting to protect others the way James fought to do and those who fought beside him had. But she knew, better than perhaps any other Tamer, what it meant to oppose the Knights. She had read their tales, found shrines dedicated to their heroic deeds and murals depicting their great battles. She had read so many accounts of their glory and heroism. A thousand songs proclaiming their prowess. A thousand tales of grandeur and might. That was what they were fighting. Not simply warriors, but legends, as famed as the Great Ten. For the longest time the Knights had been guardians and protectors, and to oppose them was to face the paragons of martial valor on Saga. Warriors trained day and night in the hopes of becoming even a fraction as glorious as the Knights, she had read about those who sought to join their ranks.

    To face such beings was to face legends themselves.

    "I stand with you," James called, stepping forward with Artanis at his side. "I've seen death and suffering caused by the Knights. I've seen Tamers and partners butchered without hesitation, and I will fight to my last breath to stop any more innocent people from dying at their hands."

    "And you have my aid as well," Artanis declared. "James and I decided the moment this madness began that we would fight. Standing with you is just another step on that path."

    Hoshiko had expected him to step forward immediately. Of course he had. Others were too. And even though she knew so well how fearsome the Knights were as enemies, from both the legends she had spent years studying and from the night her guild was burnt away, she had watched too many of her friends die and seen too many grieving Tamers and Digimon alike to meekly step back now. The fires and the screams were etched in her memory. And the knowledge that if they failed, then all that awaited her was death by the sword or by despair in a world where she had nothing. She couldn't refuse now.

    "I will go to war," she declared. "I marched all the way from Ama to save my friends from the Knights' madness. I will not stand idly by and allow the suffering to continue."

    "And my blade shall join the cause," Okatsu added.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  2. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    "Nine," Michael muttered with a frown. "Twelve if you count the human-"

    "Which you shouldn't!" Samael called out from the back of the room. "Ain't like they can fight."

    "Not nearly enough. Not to confront the Royal Knights," Michael continued, ignoring his demonic counterpart's interruptions. "But it'll have to do for now. We can attempt to add to the ranks once we've established the unit."

    "And you'll lead it?" Phenax asked, his eyes narrowing while his lips curled into a sly smirk.

    "If I must," Michael affirmed with a nod. He glanced across the volunteered warriors. "If none else are up to the task of commanding a force of warriors, I will do it. I have the experience, after all."

    "Experience with armies, perhaps," Svarog glowered, arms crossed. "Not with warriors. Not with gods."

    "It hardly matters," Michael brushed him off and turned back to the Council. "I do not desire the yoke of leadership, but I will bear its burden if no one else will." He sent Svarog a wary glance. "Would you lead, sun god?"

    "Bah," Svarog scoffed. "I have no patience for it. I'm looking for a fight, not a charity."

    "Odinson?" Michael turned to Thor.

    "I'll focus on my battles," the eternal replied hesitantly. "And if I can convince the knights to see reason, I'll need to be without the burden of leadership."

    "Then I'll do it," Samael strode forward.

    "I'll handle it," Michael countered. "Until the time comes when we no longer need stern direction."

    "We'll need to act quickly," said Ephara, moving to the front of the Council to address the assembled warriors. "Kruphix and Karametra will be safe for the time being, but Galahad will only be emboldened to strike the Tamers with renewed fervor."

    "Kaladesh," Thassa muttered. The Venusmon's voice drew all eyes to her. "It is a gathering place for Tamers, a technological paradise that combines the innovation of their world with the splendor of ours."

    Michael frowned and nodded. "If I were to make a statement, a declaration of intent to all the world that none would miss...Galahad will strike at Kaladesh sooner rather than later. We should be ready to stop him."

    "Three hours, Guardians," said Erebos, addressing the new force. "Guardians of the peace and the law and all the lives contained within. Preparations will be made for your journey. You leave in three hours."

     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  3. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon Blue Frog Ninja Gal

    Shula Hernandez & Tyfrigo "Frost" Rex the BlackAgumon
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    Nine fighters, that's all they had. Or rather, that's as far as the Digimon were concerned. It was twelve if they counted the Tamers as they did with their partners but, as the fire lion man pointed out without tact, they couldn't fight Digimon on their own. Not that Shula really blamed them or didn't understand, but still, she gritted in frustration. She had lost track on how many times Digimon have mentioned that humans couldn't fight them on even grounds, that they always had to rely on their partners to do their battles. And so many times had she wished that she could. What kind of partner was she to rely on the other so much? True, they could biomerge, unlike many, but that still wasn't enough, not when she hindered her partner in some ways when doing that.

    Shula blinked when she felt something in her hand and looked down to see Frost looking at her with a knowing, and comforting, smile and his hand in hers. She soon returned it and gave his hand a brief squeeze before letting go. As much as she was glad that Frost noticed her mood and calmed her down, she didn't want to exactly give hints at the status of their relationship, not after last night. That still terrified her and she still didn't know if they really knew she loved Frost that way or that was their drunkedness was talking.

    Their group—after some "discussion" between the archangel, the devil, the fire lion man and the thunder god—was going to be lead by Michael and they were heading for a human settlement. From the sound of it, it seemed like a high tech utopia, or at least a futuristic place like from sci-fi movies. Shula briefly wondered how come she didn't really hear about when she remembrred she did and she just thought it was Frost rambling random stuff that she wouldn't understand again. Plus, they had traveled off the beaten path more often than not. She shouldn't be too surprised there were plenty of things she didn't know about Saga's state right now.

    Meanwhile, they had three hours. Three hours, that's all the time they had to do whatever they needed. For Shula, she couldn't help but grimace. They already had her checked out by a human doctor on their way here as that was the first thing Frost had wanted to do. Though her injuries weren't as bad as they could've been, her arm and leg were bandaged and still needed a day's rest at least. But she wouldn't let that stop her. She could work with that. They said they'll ready what they'll need for their journey, so it was safe to assume they would be flying or riding some sort of vehicle. She would take that opportunity to rest her body.

    Thankfully, she didn't have to worry about Frost's wounds. They were mostly gone thanks to Tessa the Wisemon, who apparently was a part of their group—and had squealed earlier like a fangirl. That reminded her, she should go thank the Digimon for that. And seeing as they didnt have anything they needed to do for the next three hours, except maybe eat but she wasn't too worried about that. Plus, she wanted to talk to the only other Tamers who joined the group, which was a grand total of two.

    First order of business: Tessa. She limped on over to her with a tired smile.

    "Hey," she said. After making sure she didn't put too much pressure on her hurt leg, she continued. "Frost told me you were the one to heal him. Thanks for that, a lot." She held out her hand for a handshake. "Name's Shula, Shula Hernandez, in case you didn't know."

    ...

    After Tessa, and assuming that the two other Tamers weren't too far, she managed to reach them. Or rather, the guy and his Agumon, her tired yet sincere smile still.

    "Hi there, hope I'm not bothering you," she said. "Just wanted to meet the other Tamers in our group." Once again, she offered her hand for a handshake. "Name's Shula Hernandez."

    "And I'm her partner, Tyfrigo Rex."

    She smirked and out her hand back down whether or not the young man received the gesture. "You can call him Frost if you want though."

    He rolled his eyes, though it was obvious to Shula that he was holding back a grin. "Don't ask how I got it. It just came to her when we first met and she's called me that ever since."

    She just chuckled as she knew the real reason. After all, she had explained to him all those years ago and it was personal. He wouldn't just blab it. "Anyways, what were your names? I wasn't able to catch 'em."
     
  4. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson – BlackWarGreyMon

    “Three hours, Guardians,” said Anubis, addressing the new force. “Guardians of the peace and the law and all the lives contained within. Preparations will be made for your journey. You leave in three hours.”

    The old soldier rose from his knelt position. Their situation was grim with so few willing to fight, but he could -would- not turn back now. Theo turned his somber gaze to the place beside his feet. A ghost of a smile and a thumbs up greeted him where only empty space existed. Guardians...the boy would have gladly accepted the task.

    Still...they were already deploying for Kaladesh in a few short hours. A motley crew consisting of two gods, an ageless angel, a demon, two mortals, and three tamers with their partners stood between the Royal Knights and their prey. Theo sighed. None of them were ready. He hadn't been ready to face the knights properly. He couldn't afford to hold back if he hoped to protect his partner's family. Theo stepped forward from his place in the back. The familiar weight of responsibility weighed on his shoulders.

    “Archangel Micheal,” Theo spoke up, duty compelling him and feeling the need to speak on the Tamers' behalf. “The war god, Svarog is correct.” The dragon man nodded with respect to the sun god , setting aside the memory of the god's role in the previous night's 'revelry'. Not that he had much room to speak. “We are hardly an army, much less a cohesive unit at this time. And I highly doubt any of you have worked closely with humans before this.”

    “My suggestion: have the tamers fight together to support one another in the coming battles. They and their partners rely on each other and that is the nature of their bond. Such tendencies will carry over with other pairs and add to their combined strength.” The old dragon swept an armored arm out to include the tamers in the discussion; they had as much of a right to speak. “I'll fight by them as well. I know first hand what they are capable of. I also have a fair understanding of the Royal Knights myself.” Plus I can bear the brunt of the Knight's attacks if need be. At least until they can grow with experience.

    Theo glanced at Tessa, who buried her head in a book writing furiously, remembering the abilities she'd demonstrated at Camolet. Despite the battle's chaoticness, the dragon man noticed her teleportation spells and considered its handiness. He'd speak with the wisemon in private later about aiding any of the human partners unable to biomerge if they ran into trouble. No point in mentioning it aloud and reinforcing the war god's and demon's view of the humans being a burden. What the Odinson and Archangel Micheal thought was beyond him.

    Not much of a plan, but it was a start. Theo simply didn't want another pointless slaughter.

    ______________________________


    Tessa Tesla the Wisemon

    So much happening at once! History in the making! Gods! Angels! Fallen Angels! Tamers and their partners! Mortals, such as herself... the cogs screeched to a halt as she processed that thought. She...was one of these newly declared Guardians. A part of the history to be...leaving her own imprint in the chronicles to be written. Of course, she wouldn't brag about her own part in the coming days in her own chronicle that would leave a biased perception.

    "Hey,"

    Tessa jolted from her frantic writing, looking up from the small book in her hand. Recognizing the human addressing as the BlackAgumon's partner from back on the airship, the wisemon brightened up and audibly snapped the book. The human continued. "Frost told me you were the one to heal him. Thanks for that, a lot."

    The young sage tucked the book under an arm and gripped the offered hand in both of her claws, shaking it energetically. An unseen blush crossed Tessa's face, embarrassed at the thanks, “My pleasure! Real bummer I couldn't do anything for you, but I promised to figure it out! I've already written down 20 pages of notes with observations to study on our way to Kaladesh.” Tessa nodded with evident determination.

    "Name's Shula, Shula Hernandez, in case you didn't know."

    “I do now! And I don't forget a name!” Tessa asserted, still shaking Shula's hand and not realizing she only needed to do it a few times. “I'm Tessa or my friends call me Tes...well actually I don't have any friends that call me that for the matter.” The wisemon paused in thought scratching her chin to recall. Instead she shrugged her shoulder unconcerned by the lack of said 'friends'. “But I'd be happy to call you and Frost friends.”

    “Anyway, I have investigations I must continue while I have an opportunity. Shula, Frost, I'll see you when we get ready to depart.”

    Tessa buried the book into the void of her sleeves. A soft glow of two orbs materializes and following the wisemon obediently as she proceeded to stalk a certain fallen angel that pique her attention after the Archangel Micheal appeared before the council.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  5. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame
    Temple of the High Council, Axis Mundi


    Anticipation and a sense of weight were weighing on him as he reflected past his announcement that he would fight. James had heard Hoshiko and Okatsu joining as well and he gave them a smile from across the room. He was glad to have her with them. She was one of the best, after all, one of the ones who'd blazed a path for Tamers. She made Saga her home in a way few others did and he wondered how she found time to see her family on Analog when she was so busy.

    Pushing the thought away after a second, he turned to Artanis. "Kaladesh, huh. I haven't been before."

    "Me neither," the Agumon noted. "It's not our sort of place. Too peaceful. Not enough fighting." He chuckled a little.

    "I don't know a lot about it," James confessed. "Besides what she just said." What had been said made him understand a little, in particular why Galahad might strike it, but not much more. And the most he was probably going to see of it was fighting to defend it, from the sound of things.

    He turned his attention to those who had stepped forward to fight. Hoshiko and Okatsu, another Tamer he didn't know and a dark Agumon he assumed was her partner, Michael, the demon whose name he hadn't yet heard, Thor, Svarog, a Wisemon, and a BlackWarGreymon. There were others around the room who might have joined, but if they had he had missed them saying so. He saw a Boltmon and Lilamon among others.

    "Not that many of us," Artanis noted, following his gaze. "I hoped, thought more might step forward."

    "People are afraid," James replied quietly. "It's the Royal Knights after all. No one wants to fight them. But we have to. It's all we can do to stop more people, humans and Digimon alike, from dying. I can't just stand by... I won't just stand by." He saw Tamers and Digimon cut down and forced his smile to remain firm. There were people out there depending on him. People in this world he had to fight for.

    He thought of his mum, alone back on Analog. He hadn't been home in a while, too focused on the fight with the Royal Knights and protecting Tamers across the face of Saga. He knew she worried about him when he vanished into this world for so long, but in this instance he didn't feel like he could go back. At any moment Alexis or one of the others might call him to help protect more Tamers. People were dying out there, afraid and outmatched, and he couldn't leave them. Not now.

    He was shaken from his thoughts by the third Tamer in their group. She was older than him, perhaps older than Hoshiko, he didn't know how old Hoshiko was exactly. She was smiling in a familiar way, the smile he wore in the mirror when he was especially weary.

    "Hi there, hope I'm not bothering you," she said, offering a hand, which he shook and smiled a little more. "Just wanted to meet the other Tamers in our group. Name's Shula Hernandez."

    "And I'm her partner, Tyfrigo Rex," the BlackAgumon added, to which his partner smirked.

    "You can call him Frost if you want though," she said, clearly enjoying his reaction. James chuckled a little and even Artanis smiled.

    "Don't ask how I got it. It just came to her when we first met and she's called me that ever since," Tyfrigo commented.

    "Anyways, what were your names? I wasn't able to catch 'em."

    "I'm James Reeve," James said. "It's good to meet you."

    "And my name is Artanis Dawnflame," Artanis added, looking at Tyfrigo. "May we fight well together in the battles to come."

    James didn't let his smile slip. "I hope the same. It's going to be tough, but together, I'm sure we can pull through." He paused. "And we can protect others along the way as well. Guardians. That's what we'll be alright." The two in front of him seemed like they'd been together for some time, probably longer than he'd known Artanis. And with how Tamer and Digimon partnerships worked, that likely meant they were powerful. He could tell from how they talked to one another that they were close and that would hopefully translate into strength. But then that was what they were fighting to protect, what they were to be Guardians of. Those powerful bonds between Digimon and humans, the bonds that let Digimon evolve faster than they would naturally, that even allowed human and Digimon to become one. Biomerge Digivolution. He'd seen it a few times. Tamers and Digimon so close to one another that they could merge together and create a Digimon more powerful than normal. Some called it an abomination and unnatural, but to him it felt exactly right, the highest pinnacle of the connection between Tamer and Digimon. He hadn't yet achieved that with Artanis and from what he'd seen, Hoshiko couldn't Biomerge either. He wondered if Shula and Tyfrigo could, but then he was sure he'd find out soon enough.

    "How long have you been in Saga?" his partner asked. "You seem quite old for a Tamer, no offense intended."

    ----

    Hoshiko Yukimura and Okatsu Sekishusai
    Outside the Temple, Axis Mundi


    Hoshiko had stepped out after Anubis' declaration, smiling at James, who seemed busy talking to another Tamer. She was sure that their group would all get to know another at one point, but she wanted to be alone except for her partner for a moment.

    "Kaladesh," she murmured as she looked out over Axis Mundi. She had been there before, marvelling at the technology created there and the way human and Digimon culture merged. It was a haven and indeed a symbol of cooperation between humans and Digimon. Linvala was right, Galahad would definitely strike there, eventually if not immediately. Such an example had to be made an example in his eyes, she imagined.

    And his example would include dead and grieving by the many.

    "We will protect the city," Okatsu said quietly, reading into her partner's reaction. Okatsu knew her better than anyone, a bond they had formed over the years together. The Gabumon X's keen senses were even sharper when directed at Hoshiko, made sharp by her knowledge of how the young woman reacted to the world around her. "That's what the Council said we are. Guardians."

    There was some poetry to that, she supposed. She wondered if other names had been floated and if so what they had been. Peacemakers, perhaps, that might have been fitting. But Guardians felt right. After all, that was why she was fighting, why James was fighting, why their partners were fighting, and she imagined it was why the others were fighting too. To protect innocents. To stop the slaughter. The blood and flames were in her memories from when she hadn't been able to protect the innocents around her and she felt Okatsu's claws rest gently on her arm in a comforting gesture. No. They would stop it this time. Kaladesh would not share that fate.

    "We have three hours," Okatsu said. "Perhaps we ought to become familiar with the others. We'll be depending on them very soon, and I would prefer to know those who'll be watching my back."

    Hoshiko nodded. "You're right. I just wanted a moment. It's..." She let the sentence trail off into silence before continuing a few seconds later. "It's just the weight of what we're going to do. Fighting the Royal Knights. Does it intimidate you at all?"

    "A little, deep down," the Gabumon replied, looking out to the sky. "But I don't let it rule me. When we face them, it will be as though my fear isn't there. That's the way I am, you know that well. Fear is natural, it is overcoming it which makes us courageous."

    "I'm not afraid," the young woman said softly. "Not for myself. I'm afraid for the people out there who are suffering and dying." She looked into the distance of Axis Mundi, where she knew the Tamer camp was even though she couldn't see it. There were so many there who had lost their partners or who had been brought to the edge of death while fleeing to the city. She knew James and his allies had done all that they could, but they hadn't been able to save everyone. Would the Guardians do any better? They had to. Too many people would die if they failed.

    "We will protect them," Okatsu said, her voice quiet but full of conviction. "I told Archangel Michael that my blade would join his cause. And my blade will be between the Royal Knights and those they attempt to harm. You swore to go to war, Hoshiko. Let us go to war in the name of those in danger and those we have lost."

    To war. She wasn't a warrior. She was a scholar, an explorer, an archaeologist. Fighting wasn't really in her blood, not the way it was for Okatsu and Artanis, for Digimon as a whole really. But she had meant what she said. Even if she wasn't a warrior, she couldn't see more people die knowing she hadn't protected them. Too many had died already, even one would have been too many. So she would be a Guardian as best she could.

    She turned and with Okatsu following she returned to the Council chamber, looking around. She looked around at her teammates, before settling her gaze on James and the unknown Tamer and walking over to join their conversation.
     
  6. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon Blue Frog Ninja Gal

    Shula Hernandez and Tyfrigo "Frost" Rex the BlackAgumon
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    The guy introduced himself as James Reeve in a simple manner, along with his Agumon partner, who said his name was Artanis Dawnflame. The Agumon's name was as fitting as it sounded, considering the usual reputation of the species, but she decided to not let that cloud her judgement and perception of the reptile. After all, Frost was anything but a virus as far as she was concerned. She still thought it was a rather cool name, though...

    "Hmm, Artanis huh? Mind if I call you Artie?"

    Though she didn't see it, she just knew Frost had rolled his eyes again as he mumbled, "See? What did I tell you..."

    "I heard that." Of course, even if she hadn't heard, she knew he'd say that.

    Coincidentally, speaking of names, after the introductions, James made a comment on what they were doing and called themselves guardians. She hadn't really realized the Council had actually given them a name but then again, sometimes she missed some things and this was probably one of them. If it was even possible, her smile broadened at the name. It was a fitting one. She liked that thought. The Guardians...doing the Royal Knights' job when they weren't doing it. She still felt sad about that. As outraged as she was about their killing of Tamers and their Digimon partners, she knew they wouldn't have done it unless they felt it was right. And considering the behavior of some humans, she still couldn't hate them, not really.

    She was returned to the present when James asked her a question. It was a very simple one, but it was his off hand comment that made her blink.

    Then she laughed. It took a bit before she settled down, in which that time Frost had rolled his eyes for the third time in a row. When she did stop, she said, her smile much less tired and lot more brighter,

    "No offense taken. But I guess I must be having some city mileage for you to say that." Another chuckle before she continued. "Either way, yeah, I've been here for a while, almost ten years." Her grin turned warm, and affectionate if one was used to seeing those kinds. "And I've been together with Frost since the first day."

    Frost did an almost imperceptible smile, but Shula noticed as she always did. "And she hasn't changed much since then."

    She just nudged him at that. "Hey, I know what you really mean with that, Frost."

    Though it was true, even though some habits were hard to get rid of, they've been together for so long she hasn't done too many reckless things compared to the first few years. And Frost had gained a much needed sense of humor as he had been a bit too practical and somewhat pessimistic back then.

    "So what about you? How long have you been in Saga? I'm guessing a lot less than me if you're calling me old already."

    Then she noticed the other Tamer walking over to them. That was nice, and convenient. Her grin turned welcoming as the woman and her Gabumon X made their to them.

    "Hi there," she said. "What would be your names? Mine's Shula Hernandez."

    "And I'm her partner, Tyfrigo Rex," he said right after her. "But you can call me Frost since Shula always calls me that."
     
  7. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    "Hmm, Artanis huh? Mind if I call you Artie?" Shula asked upon hearing the Agumon's name, prompting a chuckle from James.

    "I would prefer if you didn't," Artanis said, his tone calm but firm.

    "I like it," James laughed, prompting a glare from his partner. "Maybe I'll start using it." He stretched his arms behind his head and smiled.

    "No, you won't," the Agumon replied. "I will not be mocked like that, not even by you."

    "I'm just teasing you," the young man chuckled, turning his attention back to Shula. "Sorry. Artanis is pretty serious about things like that." He was more light-hearted. He would laugh and joke to reinforce his smile, but Artanis was always the more serious of their pair. It seemed the same with the two opposite them, right down to their dinosaur partners being the same about nicknames. It felt like a common dynamic, perhaps because Digimon were used to a world of battle and killing. He had met fewer Digimon who laughed and joked around than humans who did the same. Just one of the many ways in which Saga was different from Analog. He sometimes found it jarring when he returned home, not just because he was always out of touch with the latest trends and his friends always asked why they hadn't seen him in a while, but simply because Analog didn't have monsters lurking around what felt like every corner. His journey across Saga had taken him to some of the most dangerous places on the face of the world, places where only luck and Artanis had kept him alive. And equally, it was strange to come back to Saga. But lately he hadn't gone back to Analog at all, too focused on fighting the Royal Knights and protecting other Tamers. He wondered how his mother was doing and how his friends were doing, and what band was top of the charts now.

    But all of that didn't matter compared to what he was doing. He was a Guardian now. A shield for the innocent.

    He was snapped from his thoughts by Shula answering Artanis' question.

    "No offense taken. But I guess I must be having some city mileage for you to say that. Either way, yeah, I've been here for a while, almost ten years. And I've been together with Frost since the first day."

    James caught her affectionate grin towards her partner and his smile widened a little in return. This was what kept him coming back even when he narrowly escaped death. The bond between Digimon and human, between Tamer and partner. Not just between himself and Artanis, but all the Tamers around them, Hoshiko and Okatsu, Shula and Tyfrigo, and many more beyond this room. He enjoyed meeting other Tamers and their partners and hearing their stories. They made him proud to be a part of Saga. Even the Royal Knights couldn't change that. No matter how often he went back to Analog, he always looked forward to coming back here and meeting more people like him. He couldn't really talk about his dual life on Analog, but here, every human was the same.

    He listened to the two banter until Shula turned back to him and directed a question his way.

    "So what about you? How long have you been in Saga? I'm guessing a lot less than me if you're calling me old already."

    "Only three years now," he said. "It feels like less, it's gone by so fast and I go back to Analog pretty often. I just... well, you know how it goes. Got that message asking if I wanted to be something more, found myself here. I met Artanis a bit after that."

    "I thought he was a liar and a criminal," Artanis said. "But he proved me wrong."

    James remembered that meeting. Artanis shouting at him, accusing him of having evil intentions. And then the desperate brawl with the Waspmon, his knuckles splitting with a punch to the insect's metallic carapace, the pain burning through him when it struck back. Artanis' mighty roar as the GeoGreymon rose up and blasted the Waspmon away.

    "We've been partners ever since," he continued. "We just wandered, helping people where we could, fighting Digimon who were putting people in danger, meeting up with other Tamers. Then, well, then all of this happened and I've been fighting to protect Tamer camps since." For a second his smile slipped, baring the weight of those failures and the memory of seeing so much death around him. "I was basically fighting the Knights already, so when they asked if I wanted to join this, I didn't have any reason to say no and here I am." For a moment, he was silent, then he noticed Hoshiko returning and turned to her with a renewed smile.

    ----

    Hoshiko Yukimura and Okatsu Sekishusai
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    James smiled at her as she approached and she returned the gesture. In a way, his endless smiles and optimism helped to lift her spirits, which he would probably be glad to know. But that was what he was like, from what she'd seen. Always smiling and bright like the sun, warming everyone around him as best he could. He wasn't a warrior either, but while she was a scholar, he was an orator. He could inspire people and that was his strength. People gathered around him like he was a campfire, a beacon of fire calling the desperate and lost. She didn't know how many Tamers he'd gotten to this city safely since their first meeting and before, but while she dealt with the logistics of their refugee camp, she heard about his exploits from those around him. To many of the others, he was a hero, it seemed.

    She turned her attention to the Tamer he had been speaking too, drawn both by curiosity and by the older woman's question.

    "Hi there, what would be your names? Mine's Shula Hernandez."

    "And I'm her partner, Tyfrigo Rex," the BlackAgumon added. "But you can call me Frost since Shula always calls me that."

    "I'm Hoshiko Yukimura," Hoshiko said quietly. "Guild leader of the Yukimura Archaeology Guild, or at least I was. It's nice to meet you both and I hope we can fight well together."

    "I am Okatsu Sekishusai," the Gabumon X recited. "Hoshiko's partner and guardian. May we see much victory as comrades in arms."

    James was looking at her, Hoshiko noticed. She questioned him with a look and he answered.

    "You're still the leader, aren't you?" he said. "I know what they did to you, but you achieved a lot. You got so many people to safety. You got them all the way here."

    She wanted to be inspired, but he couldn't overcome this obstacle. Not the deaths of her guild-mates like chains on her shoulders. Not watching them slip into that cold embrace from hidden wounds and despair while she desperately tried to save them. He couldn't make her stop seeing the Knights and their soldiers strike her friends down without mercy. There had been too much blood shed, soaking her clothes as she tried to staunch wounds and hold onto precious lives. There had been too many screams from the dying and the distraught.

    "Not now," she said quietly. "For now, I am a Guardian. Not a guild leader. Not a scholar." His indomitable smile didn't waver, but his eyes took on a sheen that might have been pity, might have been sadness. She didn't resent either.

    "We have three hours," Okatsu said, sensing the mood and steering the conversation elsewhere. "Perhaps we ought to become familiar with the rest of our group. We will soon be depending on them."
     
  8. Samayouru

    Samayouru Rabid Dusclops Fan

    Fiona Lowe & Denys Angelus the Tsukaimon
    Axis Mundi, Some time ago

    If Fiona Lowe was going to be honest with herself, she would know that there were not one, but two reasons for her journey to Axis Mundi.

    The first was fairly obvious – the straggling group of tamers that she had left. The very first ambush that the Royal Knights’ followers pulled off had dwarfed what was once a sizeable group of people and partners – including the tamer who had been chosen to be their leader. While the majority of the tamers still had their partners, Fiona knew that staying hidden out in the wildernesses of Saga wasn’t going to be a safe option. At least there was some form of safety in the city of the Council.

    Her initial thoughts about the camp were laced with relief when her small band finally entered Axis Mundi. But this quickly changed when she saw for herself just how fortunate she and her group had been. While there were still some tamers like her who still had their friends, there were a lot of tamers who were alone. Some had broken down, sobbing in grief, while others sat alone in silence. To Fiona – this was not really a camp, but rather a funeral home, and in that moment she felt her heart grow heavy and sink into the pits of her stomach. Thankfully for her, she was given shelter post-haste.

    The second reason was much, much closer to her heart: Denys, the little Tsukaimon who had become her friend and later partner. A lump pressed against Fiona’s throat and her grip on the mattress tightened. No, now was not the time to cave in – she had to be strong, especially for her partner. But the thought of watching her partner getting destroyed did not go away – it lingered, hovering in her mind – and deep inside Fiona was sure that it wasn’t going to go away for a very long time.

    ‘Fiona?’ It was Denys, sitting beside her, his yellow eyes half open. ‘Are you okay?’

    ‘Yes,’ Fiona said, lying almost instinctively. She was sure that Denys could see through this but she was in no mood to talk about things.

    Denys frowned. ‘You don’t look fine to me,’ he replied and placed a stubby paw on her arm. ‘You know you can talk to me about anything, right?’

    Fiona pursed her lips, ready to respond. She was cut short when she heard what was now the familiar wailing of a broken tamer outside. But this one was different – it sounded much higher and more intense than others. This was enough to get Fiona off of her bed and out into the open. Denys jumped onto her shoulder so that he wouldn’t have to struggle keeping up.

    It was a newcomer of course, but out of all the tamers Fiona had seen arrive, this one was the one that drained the colour from her face. A little kid – possibly no older than seven or eight – was having an emotional breakdown near the entrance, and he was possibly the youngest person in the camp now. Another tamer who also lacked a Digimon was holding him, her face gaunt with those weary disaster victim eyes that was so common amongst the refugees. Fiona’s jaw tightened. A kid – the Knights hadn’t even spared the youngest and most innocent of tamers, whose partners probably meant the world to them. Her chest tightened and she pressed a palm to it to try and calm herself.

    ‘You’re not okay,’ Denys murmured softly, tugging at one of the locks of Fiona’s hair. ‘Come on – let’s go get some rest, you look like you need some.’

    But Fiona didn’t. Instead, she balled her hands into fists and strode away, her face set into one of determination and intent.

    ‘F-Fiona!’ Denys yelped, teetering on her shoulder. ‘Fiona, where are we going?’

    ‘To seek an audience with the High Council,’ Fiona replied as emotionlessly as possible. ‘Because I’ve seen what I can stand – and I can’t stand this anymore.’

    Fiona Lowe & Denys Angelus the Tsukaimon
    The Temple of the High Council
    Present Day​


    It didn’t take much to tell that the assault on Camelot had gone poorly – there were many injured brought back, and of course, more tamers who had lost their partners. Fiona and Denys had not been called for this mission, which partially relieved Fiona and at the same time frustrated her. She still had Denys, but things were clearly not going well out there.

    Entering the Temple of the High Council had almost taken physical courage, but Fiona had made her mind up. She wasn’t going to back down. A twinge of relief washed over her when she saw other tamers and partners alongside the older Digimon – at least she didn’t have to worry about being the odd one out. ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Denys whispered, ears flat against his head. ‘You don’t have to if you don’t want to.’

    ‘I’m sure,’ Fiona replied, picking her partner up so that they could look each other in the eye properly. ‘But are you sure that you want to do this too?’

    Denys nodded. ‘Wherever you go, I go.’

    A smile spread across Fiona’s face. It was the first genuine smile she’d given someone since the ambush.

    And then an angel Digimon stepped out from the group. Fiona was familiar with this one – Michael the Archangel – her pulse throbbed. There was no going back now. She listened closely to what he and the other gods had to say – of course they weren’t going to find a full proof answer immediately – but one thing Michael said caught her attention: ‘Not all the Knights are equipped to handle same types of combat. Assemble a team with varying skillsets, armaments, and abilities. Match them against the Royal Knights in a way that is tactically advantageous--we know their strengths. They do not know ours.’

    Fiona’s eyes widened – of course, fight fire with fire - it was so simple, and yet it made perfect sense. She waited until the meeting was over to speak – her nerves pricked against her neck. Denys gave her a firm nod and squeezed her shoulder when he jumped onto it. ‘Go on – I’m right here beside you.’

    She felt it was best to approach Michael – he was the one who proposed the idea, after all. That didn’t change how tiny she felt compared to the gods – she’d been around big Digimon before, but this was an entirely different type she was dealing with here. ‘Excuse me, Michael,’ she began, clearing her throat. ‘But I wish to join as well.’ She glanced over her shoulder to the other tamers. ‘I understand that I am much younger than almost everyone here, but I can’t stand by knowing that my studies of war could be extremely useful.’

    ‘You have my loyalty too,’ Denys chimed in. ‘Fiona and I used intellect to get our group of tamers and their partners to safety.’ He offered Fiona a warm glance. ‘I am sure that we can be of use to you – no matter how small that use might be.’
     
  9. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon Blue Frog Ninja Gal

    Shula Hernandez and Tyfrigo "Frost" Rex the BlackAgumon
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    A bit surprisingly, Artanis didn't like the nicknamd she suggested. She got that he was a warrior and all, and having a name like that meant they would be taken seriously, but did it seriously also meant among friends? Well true, she was more an acquaintance than a friend but still, there wasn't anything wrong with a nickname. After all, she had given Frost's his out of affection, now even more so. It was Artanis's decision though, and it was harmless, so she wouldn't oppose it.

    James's answer to her answer came soon after she asked, also mentioning meeting Artanis some time after he arrived, and his partner had originally thought the young man was a criminal. She glanced at Frost who met her gaze. She was right, he had thought the same thing: how funny that it was somewhat of the reverse situation when they met, Frost having associated himself with criminals without realizing it while Shula was the only one who believed that he didn't know.

    She returned her gaze back at James just as he went on to tell of what he's been doing since then, wandering around, helping whoever they encountered, going back home on Analog on occasion.

    Shula smiled. "Heh, doesn't sound too much different from us. We mostly spend that time hunting down some criminals Frost knew." Then she blinked, only just realizing one tiny detail he mentioned. "Wait, Analog? As in...you can go back?"

    And for a while, she was wide eyed with her mouth slightly agape in shock. She...could've gone back? She...could've...gone home...? That meant...for almost ten years...she didn't contact them not because she couldn't, but because she hadn't. She had run away and hadn't come back, like a coward. She would've stayed like that for a long time, but whether it was from the guilt or from hating her obliviousness, she couldn't tell. Then a familiar, and now comforting, voice spoke.

    "Shula?" Frost said with concern in his words and face.

    She blinked again then shook her head out of habit. With her composure regained, but her smile just showing a tiny hint of shakiness, she said, "I'm fine, Frost. Just..." She looked to him with pleading eyes, telling him it was something personal. "...surprised is all. Never knew we could go back and forth between Saga and Analog."

    He stared at her for a while, seemingly not convinced. Not that she blamed him. Not only did she rarely had the look she had on her face moments before, she had never been good at hiding her emotions. It had taken all of her willpower to hide her feelings for Frost, from him and others, once she realized the nature of them. But she was glad it was the case as well as for Frost. After a few more moments, Frost just sighed with another roll of his eyes and said,

    "And you wonder why I always worry for you when react so intensely to almost everything."

    She gave a weary and mischievous smile. She knew the real meaning behind the action. He understood and covered up the reasons as best as he could.

    "Remember the saying I told you? Who's the fool? The fool or the one who follows him'?"

    "Then I will not be a fool and follow your trap," he said, seemingly serious but there was a hint of smile on his face.

    Shula just laughed. Once again thankful for having such an understanding partner by her side. How could she not have fallen in love with him? She decided to show her appreciation by grabbing the BlackAgumon and lifting him up, which made him shout from being startled. Then she held him in her arms against her body, like a young girl would with their doll, one that was a big too large to be held in one hand. The added weight did little to her limp or sore body, not with Frost's reaction.

    "Well, then I'll just trap you in here."

    "Shula! Put me down! This is embarrassing..." Frost said.

    "Hey, you hold me like that when we fight, so it's my turn now." Besides, she knew he didn't really mind. He was only self conscious because others could see them.

    Frost's expression was clearly not amused.

    "You know that's only when you get hurt from a fight when we're not biomerged..."

    Her smile just broadened. "Well, it's my turn either way."

    He huffed and stared straight in the eyes of the others, especially James since he seemed to be the joking type. "Don't you dare mention this to the others."

    Once again, Shula laughed. Only when it died down did she realize the woman had answered her. Her surprise returned, though thankfully this time without any form of guilt. The woman was apparently the leader of this archeaology guild she knew, the Yukimura Archeaology Guild, the one that one time she had helped get an artifact back from one of the criminals they had been hunting. She had heard of it from those adventurers and kept in memory, mostly because she just knew that her kuya would've loved to be a part of it if he was here.

    She mentally shook her head at that. She couldn't deal with the guilt right now, not in public and certainly not when they had a job to do. They were the Guardians. They had to be brave, be strong, if not for themselves, than for others so they could be too. Though it seemed that she wasn't the only one who wanted to get her mind off of something unwanted as Okatsu soon changed the subject, suggesting that they familiarized themselves with the others.

    She chuckled. "Well, I already know some of them." She turned her head in the general direction of a certain young Wisemon. "That's Tessa. When we came back from the fighting, she healed some of the Digimon, Frost included." Next she looked at a certain old BlackWargreymon with a fond. "And that there's Theo. Frost said he helped me after the fight earlier today when I got hit."

    Then Frost mumbled, loud enough only for them to hear, "And there's that Apollomon with no manners..."

    Shula held back her chuckle as she returned her attention back to the Tamers. "But yeah, you have a point. Don't really know much other than that." And then she said, mostly to herself, "Though I'm not so sure if that Apollomon or the demon would want to talk with us..."

    "Exactly."

    This time she did chuckle. It was amusing that Frost was actually getting worked up over someone. The only other person that annoyed him that much was herself and that was only when she was teasing him, but it usually didn't last long, like right now.

    "I could introduce you guys to Theo if you want."
     
  10. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    "We just travelled," James replied. "Helping people, seeing the sights, that kind of thing. I've seen a lot of Saga, not all of it though." He laughed. "That would take me a lot longer, I think. And there are places I don't think I even want to go, not even with Artanis backing me up."

    "Particularly now," Artanis noted quietly. James' smile weakened a little, but before he could reply, Shula said something more.

    "Wait, Analog? As in...you can go back?"

    She looked utterly stunned, perhaps even horrified. James looked at her, shocked as well. She hadn't known she could return with her Digivice? How long had she said she'd been in Saga? Ten years?

    Ten years.

    "You didn't know?" Artanis said, aghast. "But your family... the people you knew on Analog. You haven't returned to them for ten years?"

    She'd been gone for ten long years. What would mum think if he'd been gone that long without ever once coming back or letting her know or anything? He almost imagined it, and it was like when he was younger and he'd seen her crying about dad's death when she thought he couldn't see her. When she let it all out because she didn't think her son could see her and that she didn't have to put on such a brave face for him.

    It was like how he cried when no one could see.

    He felt almost like he'd been dropped into icy water, the smile on his lips nearly gone, his eyes wide with shock and pain in equal measure. It was incredibly sobering. Ten years.

    As Frost spoke, his voice snapped James from his state of grim reflection. His smile didn't return though. He knew there were times it wasn't right.

    "I'm fine, Frost. Just... surprised is all. Never knew we could go back and forth between Saga and Analog."

    He could tell she was putting on a brave face just as he'd been able to tell with Hoshiko. It was what he did, put on a mask, smiled in the mirror. Behind it, he imagined, her soul must have been crushed. Up until now she'd thought she was trapped, just for him to reveal casually that it wasn't true. He watched as Shula grabbed Frost and the two exchanged more friendly banter, the grim moment lost immediately. He let his smile return. Hoshiko and Okatsu were silent. Shula's snap back to the brave face seemed to have disarmed the young woman somewhat.

    "Don't you dare mention this to the others."

    Frost snapped him from his thoughts again and he held up his hands defensively. "My lips are sealed." Before he could say more, Shula had turned to Hoshiko and Okatsu.

    James nodded. He didn't know any of the ones she'd mentioned, though he had seen them in passing during the preparations for the earlier battles. He knew Thor from his reputation, of course, and Michael less so. He imagined Hoshiko knew their biographies and family trees, and probably those of the Apollomon too. The thought made him laugh a little.

    "Introductions to anyone would be cool," he said. "Okatsu's right. We're going to be trusting them, and they'll be trusting us. The least we can do is tell each other our names." He paused. "Even if Thor and the Apollomon are really intimidating."

    "The Apollomon is Svarog Rodsyn," Hoshiko offered. "Ruler of Svarga. I don't know more than that, I've only read accounts of his kingdom and deeds."

    "That helps," he chuckled. "Knowing his name is a start." He paused. "It would be good to meet Theo and Tessa, and we can work from there."

    She nodded. "I can agree with that. The gods can be quite overwhelming in person. Some more so than others." She was speaking from personal experience, he could tell that. He wondered how many deities she'd spoken to in her time, besides the Council of course. He looked around the room, picking out Tessa and Theo from the crowd.

    "Well, let's talk," he said. "It's not long before we have to fight." He looked at Shula. "Do you want to introduce us?"

    ----

    Hoshiko Yukimura and Okatsu Sekishusai
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    Hoshiko was still reeling from the realisation of what had been said. Shula hadn't returned in ten years? And from her reaction, it wasn't by choice. Not like it was for her. She could have gone back any time she liked, she had her Digivice and she'd learned not long after getting it that she could use it to return to Analog.

    She just had nothing left to go back to. Just cold graves in a city far away and an uncle who was probably glad she'd never come back. Analog was empty for her, and Saga full of hope and care. She'd made friends, built something with her own hands and learned so much about this wonderful, beautiful world. She'd found someone who would always stay at her side, always be there without ever being resentful or hating her presence. A true friend who had stayed with her even as they delved into the depths beneath the surface and into jungles full of fearsome creatures. When they'd explored the frozen north, they had been side-by-side, huddling together against the cold. Saga was everything to her now. And Analog had nothing for her but painful memories and the cold streets.

    The opportunity to share her knowledge brought her from the melancholy reflection. She had read about Svarog, about Rod, about Svarga. She had found some stories of them, enough to know the fiery god's name and at least some of what he'd done. Not much, though. Svarog's kingdom seemed to have fallen into decay and other things had taken her interest. She'd never gone to Svarga personally and never so much as seen Svarog, let alone met him. From what Shula and Frost said, she wasn't sure how a conversation with him would go either.

    "Let's meet him," she agreed as James suggested that Shula introduce them to Theo. "I'd like to get to know everyone." Not just because her life might be in their hands, but for the stories they could share. She loved hearing about all the different parts of Saga and places she'd never been before. She wondered what stories Michael or Thor might share, if she ever talked to them about it. Were there realms of Saga she couldn't see, only touched by the Host or the gods? She only knew history, not the spiritual and metaphysical planes that such beings inhabited. Perhaps there were things that humans could never truly understand, but even so, just to have some idea of what lay beyond her reach would be fascinating.

    If she ever got to have a conversation with them outside the threat of the Royal Knights, that was.
     
  11. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi

    "That makes them a target," Michael countered, turning his gaze to Theo. "It would change the battle too drastically and set more of the Knights against them. Until I know what they're capable of as individuals I want them paired with known quantities."

    "It depends then on who the Knights send to Kaladesh," said Svarog. He glanced at the incoming Tamers, the ones who had volunteered to join their group of "Guardians." He--"admired" would be too strong a word--he acknowledged their bravery, however foolish. But if anything slowed him down and held him back it would be them. "If that idiot Gankoomon is there...he's mine. Understand?"

    "Unless I feel your talents would be better pointed elsewhere," Michael responded calmly.

    "Pick your battles, Archangel," Svarog growled, glaring pointedly at the MagnaAngemon. "You have enough on your plate dealing with the Knights and our strategy. Don't encumber yourself with telling me what to do."

    "Try to play nice," Thor rumbled low. He gave a curt nod to the Tamers before turning back to the assembled Digimon. "The Knights know how to alter their styles and patterns to suit those they're engaged with. We need to move diversely; match their abilities and introduce elements that keep them guessing."

    "Right here," Samael snarled, stalking forward and extended his razor sharp claws. "You want Royal Knight shish-kabobs? That's all I needed to hear." He turned to the Tamers. "Ey, one'a you get me a drink."
     
  12. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson – BlackWarGreymon
    Axis Mundi, Temple of the Council


    "That makes them a target," Michael countered, turning his gaze to Theo. "It would change the battle too drastically and set more of the Knights against them. Until I know what they're capable of as individuals I want them paired with known quantities."

    Theo nodded in acknowledgement, conceding the MagnaAngemon's point. He released a deep breath as a built up of tension slowly eased through his body. The old soldier was relieved that Lord Micheal was taking into consideration how to incorporate the tamers into their group for the battles ahead. He was, however, still concerned for the tamers and their partners paired with the...less enthusiastic members.

    The dragon man listen to the war god and Micheal argue back and forth, before the Odinson interjected, "Try to play nice. The Knights know how to alter their styles and patterns to suit those they're engaged with. We need to move diversely; match their abilities and introduce elements that keep them guessing."

    The BlackWarGreymon crossed his arms and closed his eyes deep in thought. Many of the Knights he'd served under...were not the Knights they were going to face. A weariness overcame him. What assistance could an old dragon such as himself help provide? The tactics and maneuvers he spent a lifetime learning and refining were already known to the knights and most likely those methods have changed since he left the service.

    Theo closed a fist tightly, banishing the sour thoughts. He reminded himself he was not fighting this battle alone. He wasn't facing the world alone anymore. A faint light, an echo, brushed his scarred core. The black dragon opened his eyes, a clawed hand laid over his chest were the reassuring warmth emanated before disappearing.

    The sound of multiple footsteps echoed behind him the massive chambers. Theo glanced over to his right to see the Tamers finally joining the conversing digimon. A kind smile crossed his face within his helmet. Stepping back away from the gods and the archangel, the old warrior approached the humans and their partners. A familiar human female and blackagumon partner leading the way

    “Shula,” Theo greeted the tall female, getting down on one knee to speak more at their level. “I'm relieved to see you doing better. You as well, Frost.”

    Theo met the eyes of the other three Tamers. A frown flickered across his features at the sight of the smallest Tamer. She couldn't have been any older than when he first met Kyle. Regardless, he address them and their digimon counterparts, though his graze was drawn to the male and his agumon partner. A cold ache touched his core, the two of them were almost the splitting image of himself and Kyle a little over a year ago. Theo rested his right hand on his bent knee, hiding the slight tremble in his hand.

    “You are all very brave to take up this mission. I'd be honored to know your names. Mine is Theo Grayson.”

    _______________________________________________


    Tessa Tesla – Wisemon
    Temple of the Council

    Tessa hadn't really made any progress in approaching the fallen angel slouching against the far wall like she had planned. Rather, the ongoing discussions occurring between Shula and the other Tamers engrossed her completely, particularly when she overheard one of the female introduced herself as Hoshiko Yukimura, former leader of the Yukimura Archaeology Guild.

    The wisemon flipped through one of her books with notes regarding her year long journey so far. Exclaiming with an 'AH-HA', the young mage found the reference she'd noted when she first heard of the Guild name. Traveling to Ama to meet the guild members was on a long bucket list of places she'd intended to visit to exchange knowledge and learn more about the humans. Tessa tap danced happily. Score!

    Popping through a portal, Tessa appeared alongside the group of Tamers as they made their way to join the other digimon. With a perky voice, Tessa pounced on the Japanese Tamer, “Hi! You said your name was Hoshiko Yukimara, right? I'm Tessa! Traveling researcher, scholar, chronicler, and journeymon-rank mage at your service! I've heard about your guild. I have so much I can share with you! ”

    Tessa giggled excitedly, remembering to hold out both hands to shake Hoshiko's hand like she'd done with Shula. Of course, the wisemon probably shouldn't have jumped right into the female tamer's personal space like she did. As excited as she was, Tessa had a tendency to forget personal boundaries.

    "Ey, one'a you get me a drink."

    The wisemon popped her hooded head up. Her previous quarry had joined the rest of the non-partnered digimon. Mistakenly thinking the Beelzemon was addressing her as well, since she was standing beside the tamers, Tessa was happy to be of service.

    “Not a problem,” the female wisemon said eagerly, “do you have a cup handy?”

    The petite scholar snapped her fingers. A small portal opened in the air beside the fallen angel releasing a steady stream of water from the lake outside the city.
     
  13. Samayouru

    Samayouru Rabid Dusclops Fan

    Fiona Lowe & Denys Angelus the Tsukaimon
    The Temple of the High Council

    Thor gave Fiona and the other tamers a curt nod – this was good. They might have to think about how they were going to incorporate tamers like her into their plans – but she was glad that she was being taken seriously.

    It was then that one of the Digimon caught Fiona’s attention: a BlackWarGreymon – and an older-looking one at that – approaching her and the other tamers. He first addressed the tamer with a BlackAgumon as her partner. ‘Shula,’ he began, getting down on one knee. ‘I'm relieved to see you doing better. You as well, Frost.’ He then looked upon the tamers that Fiona assumed that he didn’t know, and then to her.

    But something about his eyes changed when he looked at her. It was just for a moment, but not quick enough for Fiona to miss. She tilted her head, barely stopping herself from appearing as if she was mulling something over. Had it been uneasiness she had spotted? Or concern, perhaps? She wouldn’t put it past him – or anybody else in the room for that matter – she knew she was probably the youngest. She just had to simply prove she was more than just a little kid.

    The BlackWarGreymon turned to look at the tamer with an Agumon for his partner, placing a hand on his knee. ‘You are all very brave to take up this mission. I'd be honored to know your names. Mine is Theo Grayson.’

    Fiona stepped forward, giving Theo a friendly but polite nod. ‘It’s very nice to meet you, Theo,’ she said and gestured to Denys. ‘This is my partner, Denys, and I am Fiona.’

    Denys’s ears flicked up a little bit. ‘Hello.’

    Fiona looked over her shoulder to the other tamers. She frowned a little bit and this time she didn’t think about hiding it. ‘Oh, where are my manners?’ she said. ‘I should’ve introduced myself to you three as well – my apologies.’ She looked the other three tamers and their partners over. ‘I take it you three have been here for a while, right?’ she asked, rubbing the back of her neck. ‘I haven’t actually been here that long.’

    ‘We met a few months ago,’ Denys said. ‘Fiona ended up in my village one day,’ he offered Fiona a thankful glance as he spoke. ‘If it weren’t for her, then I don’t think I’d be here now.’

    It didn’t take much to think back to the day they officially became partners. Fiona chuckled internally. Seeing Denys rise up as a Devimon – as well as absolutely decimating the Airdramon’s rampage in one heck of a fight – had been breath-taking. The best part was that the euphoric rush of strength Fiona had felt was only the tip of the iceberg.

    ‘Denys and I were with a group of tamers when… well…’ Fiona bit her lip, how could she say this politely? ‘The Knights started all the chaos,’ she said. ‘It fell to me to keep everybody else alive – and if I hadn’t studied enough about battle tactics back on Analog, well…’ she trailed off once more. Now was not the time to think about Denys’s safety – she was safe here, as was her friend, right?

    ‘That’s why the High Council took interest in us when we approached them,’ Denys finished for her.
     
  14. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve and Artanis Dawnflame
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    Shula and Frost led them to the towering BlackWarGreymon. Clad in black as his name suggested, the dragon-man warrior was an imposing figure, the Dramon Destroyers on his arms sharp and keen. His hair was grey and his armor scuffed and tarnished, suggesting either that he was rather old or that he had suffered a lot. It wasn't clear which was the case.

    "Shula," the dragon-man greeted. He knelt as he spoke, presumably so he didn't tower over them so much. “I'm relieved to see you doing better. You as well, Frost.”

    The dark-armored Digimon's gaze fell upon the group, crossing them. A young girl accompanied by a Tsukaimon had joined them at some point and James saw the dragon warrior's eyes settle on her for a moment. He wasn't sure what to think of her. Part of him instinctively thought someone so young shouldn't be fighting with them, but at the same time, she wouldn't be spared should the Knights overwhelm them and for her to even be here, the Council had to think she had a place with them. For now, that was enough, but he'd still do all he could to protect her in the midst of battle.

    Then the BlackWarGreymon looked at him and Artanis. Looking into those golden eyes for that instant, James saw a hint of sadness in their depths, though he couldn't tell what exactly made the dragon warrior sad to see them. Was he reminded of something? Or was he sad that it had come to this at all, that the Tamers were forced to enter the fight to protect their way of life? James didn't know.

    Finally, the armored Digimon spoke. “You are all very brave to take up this mission. I'd be honored to know your names. Mine is Theo Grayson.”

    Before James could speak, the little girl had beaten him to the punch. "It’s very nice to meet you, Theo," she said, gesturing to the Tsukaimon beside her. "This is my partner, Denys, and I am Fiona."

    "Hello," Denys added, his ears flicking up.

    Smiling at her boldness, James turned to Theo. "I'm James Reeve. I don't know if I'm brave, really. I just can't bear to stand by and do nothing, you know?"

    "And I am Artanis Dawnflame," the Agumon added. He seemed impressed by Theo, perhaps because of their shared lineage. Theo was the image of what Artanis might be some day, a powerful, noble Greymon warrior, like those of his tribe. "I thank you for your compliment. But we are, all of us, brave. To face the Royal Knights with such resolve, one must possess true bravery. That you fight them is a testament to yours, Theo Grayson." Even if the fact that it was coming from a small Rookie level rather than an imposing Mega level diluted the speech somewhat, James still let his smile widen. He noticed Fiona look over her shoulder at them with a frown, and wondered if something said had upset her before she spoke again.

    "Oh, where are my manners? I should’ve introduced myself to you three as well – my apologies." She looked the other three tamers and their partners over. "I take it you three have been here for a while, right?" she asked, rubbing the back of her neck. "I haven’t actually been here that long."

    "No, it's alright," James said. "We should've introduced ourselves or said something. As for how long I've been here, actually, I've been here the shortest of us three. Only three years, and it feels less. I go back to Analog pretty often, at least I did before all of this, and being here makes the time go by so fast." His smile became wistful as he was reminded of his adventures with Artanis. He hoped that they won this fight, that they protected the Tamers, and that once it was over, they could go back to that life. Just wandering the world helping people. There was a purpose there that he found soothing. It was simple. Not like this war they were about to fight. He glanced back at Hoshiko and found her distracted by a Wisemon.

    "We met a few months ago," Denys said, bringing his gaze back to her. "Fiona ended up in my village one day," he offered Fiona a thankful glance as he spoke. "If it weren’t for her, then I don’t think I’d be here now." James looked at Fiona, guessing that she was remembering that day. He thought of his first meeting with Artanis in turn and chuckled. Things had been so different then.

    "Denys and I were with a group of tamers when… well…" Fiona bit her lip. "The Knights started all the chaos. It fell to me to keep everybody else alive – and if I hadn’t studied enough about battle tactics back on Analog, well…" Her voice trailed into silence and James stared at her for a moment, surprised and understanding suddenly in equal measure.

    "That’s why the High Council took interest in us when we approached them," Denys finished for her.

    That was why she was here. Because she had proven herself, just as he had and Hoshiko had. His doubts about Fiona began to evaporate, but the worry was still there, nagging inside him. She was a little girl in a terrible war. Humans were frail by the standards of Saga regardless, his "fight" with that Waspmon long ago had hammered that lesson home for him. But for her especially, this would be dangerous. And no matter how maturely she spoke, she was still a child, wasn't she? Not like him, or Hoshiko, or Shula.

    He forced it aside. She might be a child, but she had a partner at her side and he couldn't fully judge until he had seen her fight. There were Tamers he had doubted during their fight, who had stepped forward to fight beside him when he had made himself a shield for the camps across the world. They had always proven him wrong, fighting with strength and ferocity that cemented them as his brothers and sisters in arms. They were still here in the city, launching strikes whenever the Knights or their allies threatened incoming groups of Tamers to let the humans and their partners reach this safe haven. Fiona could do the same. He would wait and see before he said anything.

    "We protected people across the world," Artanis said. "All across its face, we fought the Royal Knights and their warriors in delaying actions. Because of our actions and those of the brave who fought beside us, some still live yet." He paused and the solemnity of his silence was clear. They had fought valiantly, like men against gods. But they were not enough. Many had still perished. Not everyone had been protected, not all had been saved. Even to Artanis, who accepted death as a welcome fate, seeing their friends and those they tried to protect cut down so ruthlessly was soul-crushing.

    And they couldn't be everywhere. Some groups hadn't had James and Artanis fighting with them. Hoshiko hadn't. And Fiona hadn't.

    "You're young," the Agumon finally spoke, looking at Fiona. "By human standards, you're not more than a child, are you? Why did you study battle tactics on Analog? Surely one as young as you shouldn't have been concerned with such things."

    ----

    Hoshiko Yukimura and Okatsu Sekishusai
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    There was a little girl walking with them now, a Tsukaimon beside her. Hoshiko stared at her, unsure why she was there. Was she part of their group? Surely not? She'd seen the girl around the Tamer camp once or twice, but they'd never spoken and she didn't even know the young Tamer's name. Why was she in this room, though, if not because she was going to fight? But would Michael allow that? Would the Council allow someone so young to fight in such a serious and deadly conflict? People as young as this girl had lost their partners.

    She remembered the boy crying into her shoulder and his tears staining her shirt and her hands holding him tightly as she whispered meaningless comforts to him. She remembered wishing she had been there, that she could have traded her life for his partner's or that Okatsu could have protected them. Anything rather than see him in such pain. She didn't want to see it again.

    Before she could ask the little girl her name or any other questions, Hoshiko found her path blocked by the sudden appearance of a Wisemon, causing her to blink in surprise. Apparently none of the others noticed, for they continued to the BlackWarGreymon a few steps ahead.

    “Hi! You said your name was Hoshiko Yukimara, right? I'm Tessa! Traveling researcher, scholar, chronicler, and journeymon-rank mage at your service! I've heard about your guild. I have so much I can share with you!" Giggling, the wizard-like Digimon excitedly stretched out both hands for a handshake. Startled by her enthusiasm, Hoshiko jumped back a step.

    "Ah, sorry," she said quietly, gently taking Tessa's hand and shaking it. "You surprised me, Tessa. Yes, that's me. Hoshiko Yukimura." She looked at the excited Wisemon and was reminded almost of herself when she made a spectacular find. Like when she'd found a perfectly preserved ancient shrine in the ice near Kaldheim, its murals telling of forgotten warriors, or when she found tomes of glorious history in the libraries here in Axis Mundi. Or when she and Okatsu had found that great fang in the temple beneath the tundra, its meaning still lost to her even now, but its significance clear. She still carried it with her, hoping to one day solve its puzzle. But sadness soon overcame the memories. "But for now, I am no guild leader. My guild is... ashes now." The last she had seen of the building was a glance back as they escaped into the mountains. It had been an inferno at that point, artifacts and writing and memories consumed by the fires the Knights' soldiers had unleashed. Her home, gone. Her love, gone. Everything she had worked hard to build, gone.

    So many friends, gone.

    "We are Guardians now," Okatsu spoke for her, as ever perceptive to her partner's feelings. "And until this crisis is ended, Guardians we shall be. That is what is needed, Tessa. I am Okatsu Sekishusai, Hoshiko's partner."

    Before their conversation could continue, the demon they had noticed earlier intruded with a demand aimed at the humans of their group.

    "Ey, one'a you get me a drink."

    Hoshiko didn't know what, exactly, he would drink and so was silent, but Tessa seemed to have some idea. Possibly.

    “Not a problem, do you have a cup handy?”

    And with a snap of her fingers, a portal opened in the air and water poured from it, splashing onto the chamber floor. Well, she thought with a smile, the demon hadn't specified what drink he wanted. She heard James chuckle, apparently he had seen the exchange. For a moment, she was distracted from the reason they were there.
     
  15. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    Water poured down around Samael. There was a moment, a brief instant of uncertainty and surprise, before everything within him was swallowed up by a wave of fury. He whirled about and drew a blade in a single, savage motion. The weapon's black edge flashed in the warm light of the Hall, so quick and certain that Thor barely registered the movement, barely had time to react; seamless fluidity from the moment the demon began to move to his screeching halt as Michael threw himself in his path.

    Samael had gone from shocked to seething with murderous intent in less than a blink's time.

    Angel and demon stood still, each poised for what would likely be a killing blow; Samael's blade a hair's breadth from Tessa's face, Michael's blade nearly pressed against Samael's throat.

    "Think it through, Samael," Michael said, his voice unwavering.

    "Poured water on me," Samael snarled through clenched teeth, his words clipped and almost frothing.

    "And you want to fight me here? Now? For that?" Michael challenged.

    Samael's weapon pulled away from Tessa. He stepped back and straightened his stance, glaring at the archangel.

    "Could ask you the same, Mikey," he seethed. "She worth the fight you and I would have?"

    "If you're done posturing I'd suggest taking a walk. Clear your head, Samael," Michael ordered, eliciting a derisive scoff from the demon. "Figure out who you want your enemies to be."

    "All I've got is enemies, Mikey," Samael growled. In that same, perfectly-precise motion he sheathed his blade on his back, spun around, and stalked off down the hall.

    Michael watched him leave a moment longer before taking a focusing breath and turning back to the assembled "Guardians." This would be much harder than he first thought.

    "I suggest not antagonizing Samael if you can help it," he suggested. Hoping against all hope that they understood it wasn't a request or a suggestion, but their means to survival. "At least until you're able to keep up with him."

    "Bah, if they can't keep up with that demonic *** they have no business fighting the Royal Knights," Svarog countered. He hadn't even blinked at Samael's attack, he'd just watched with bored amusement.

    But Thor felt his blood churn at the thought; of watching the flash of blackening fury darken Samael's eyes, filling him with anger and wrath and the desire to kill. Over what? Wet clothes? What was he? And why had Eden thought to send him?

    "Can he be trusted?" Thor asked, turning to Michael.

    "Samael has his own goals," Michael answered without actually answering. And Thor was immediately remind why he avoided dealing with the Hostly sort. "But they align with ours. It benefits him to work with us."

    "Well that I understand at least," Svarog shrugged. He turned a fiery gaze towards the humans. "Can't say the same about them. They should leave this fight to those of us with power."

    "In another universe they might have," Thor said softly, his voice whispering like distant thunder. Svarog grimaced at his words.

    "Bah," Svarog scoffed. "Good 'tactics' afford you nothing with a sword in your gut." His tone was harsh and unforgiving. "Put them with me, Michael, and I won't cover their backs. I'm here for a fight. Not to babysit the soft-skins." He looked over at the Tamers again. "Children. Actual human children. What right do they have to stand beside me in battle?"
     
  16. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    ~ Aria Morningsong & Frantz Stein +
    - Temple of the High Council -
    - Post-Battle Meeting -


    "So... Guardians, huh?" Aria mused to herself. Quite the name there, coming from the high council itself. That was a name with purpose, a name with responsibility and calling. Fitting, in a sense. But also demanding, as though the council was placing the burden, and the blame, squarely on the Guardians. Interesting.

    Stein certainly seemed pleased with it. The Boltmon was practically beaming with pride. "Stein feels needed." He pounded his chest. "More, Stein feels he has a purpose here. Stein has never had a purpose before. It feels..." he trailed off, no doubt searching for something profound to finish with. "Gooey." he settled.

    The Liliamon's eyebrow twitched. "Gooey?"

    A chuckle rumbled from the big guy. "Like Stein's heart is filled with warm syrup, but in a good way."

    "That's certainly one way of looking at it." Aria cast her gaze over the room, finally spotting the Wisemon, Tessa, that Stein seemed so fascinated by. Oh boy, these two are way more than just an odd couple, she thought, they're down right unique.

    She patted the big Boltmon on the knee (about as high as she could get without flying or being really really awkward.). "Well I'll let you figure out what to do about that one." She gave a dismissive wave towards Tessa's location. "I'm gonna go learn about the other suicidal idiots we've become a team with while I still can."

    "Okay, Stein will be here." he scratched his head, ruffling his rust colored hair into an even messier mop. "Stein needs time to digest the gooey feeling."

    "Good luck with that." Aria gave a little nod and spun on what passed for her heel, heading off towards the first group that caught her attention. Turns out it was the BlackWarGreymon (aka, Gramps or Mr. Table Sandwich) and the dancing couple, the cute BlackAgumon and his human lady friend. They were talking with a young Tamer and a Tsukiamon that Aria didn't recognize, but who must have also been survivors of the battle. There was another Tamer there as well, with a normally colored Agumon that Aria didn't recognize either. Looks like there's more humans sticking around... I wonder what those two pairs Biomege into...

    The orange Agumon was talking as she approached. "By human standards, you're not more than a child, are you? Why did you study battle tactics on Analog? Surely one as young as you shouldn't have been concerned with such things."

    "Bah," Svarog scoffed. Aria turned to look at the flaming god as he joined the conversation. "Good 'tactics' afford you nothing with a sword in your gut." His tone was harsh and unforgiving. "Put them with me, Michael, and I won't cover their backs. I'm here for a fight. Not to babysit the soft-skins." He looked over at the Tamers again. "Children. Actual human children. What right do they have to stand beside me in battle?"

    Aria laughed. "You have a point, but you gotta give them credit. They saw that display out there that sent most of our survivors running for the hills, but they've still decided to stick with us. So they've got guts at least. Foolhardy, possibly suicidal guts, but guts all the same." she shrugged. "For most people, that's about as good as it gets." She nodded to the Tamers, quickly adding "No offense to you guys."

    The Lilamon turned back towards Svarog, not wanting to talk back to a fire god and leave it at that. Fire was scary. "By the way Your Prominence," she said with all seriousness on the name, "I saw part of your bout with the Gankoomon from the air. I think its safe to say you put us all to shame out there." She gave a curt nod towards Thor. "Well, you and the mighty Thor. We owe the two of you our lives."

    Meanwhile, Stein was absentmindedly fingering the little wooden totem in his pocket. The Boltmon had received the trinket from the family of the Palmon he had saved a few years ago. They told him it was some sort of ancient protective charm, but he didn't really understand most of it. All he knew was that it was old, special, and carved with an intricate picture of a tree. And the only thing he really knew about Tessa was that she seemed to like things that were old and special. He only hoped "carved with a picture of a tree" was on her list of likes as well.

    Before he could figure out what to say, a problem he could honestly never remember having before this moment, Tessa did something with her portals, there was a splash of water, and the scary demon man had a blade at her throat. Stein's vision went red. The only thing that stopped the Boltmon from charging Samael down then and there was the angel's own blade on the demon's throat. The image seemed to sit still forever. Finally, Samael backed off.

    It took several moments for Stein to calm himself. The rage that had built up dulled his senses. He could see mouths moving, but could not hear the words. Deep breaths. Calm. Repeat the mantra. I am Stein of the Southern Mountains, and I am calm. The red lessened. The world returned. Stein took one last deep breath, himself again, and walked over to where Tessa stood near the Archangel.

    "Wise one, are you okay?" Stein asked, kneeling so he didn't tower over her.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  17. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    Hoshiko's smile died as Samael moved, his blade dangerously close to her as it came towards Tessa's face. In turn, she saw Michael's own blade come to the demon's throat and a long second passed. Okatsu had moved at her side, fangs bared, ready to strike anyone who threatened her partner. Hoshiko's own hand had come to her Digivice, instinctively prepared to unleash her partner's Mega form. She saw the ferocity in Samael's eyes, a bestial rabid fury that was nothing short of terrifying. In the eyes of the Royal Knights and their servants, she had seen cold conviction and certainty and found it chilling, but Samael's rage terrified her. She was brutally aware of how fragile she was. He could probably snap her like a twig in such violent throes. She saw others moving, James and Artanis moving as Okatsu had, a towering Boltmon glaring in fury at Samael.

    "Think it through, Samael," Michael said, his voice unwavering.

    "Poured water on me," Samael snarled through clenched teeth, his words clipped and almost frothing.

    "And you want to fight me here? Now? For that?" Michael challenged.

    Hoshiko watched with baited breath as the demon drew back his black sword and glared at the archangel.

    "Could ask you the same, Mikey," he seethed. "She worth the fight you and I would have?"

    "If you're done posturing I'd suggest taking a walk. Clear your head, Samael," Michael ordered, eliciting a derisive scoff from the demon. "Figure out who you want your enemies to be."

    "All I've got is enemies, Mikey," Samael growled. In that same, perfectly-precise motion he sheathed his blade on his back, spun around, and stalked off down the hall. She watched him leave as Michael did, sensing Okatsu relaxing from her tense combat stance at her side. She was about to direct a question at Michael, but he spoke first.

    "I suggest not antagonizing Samael if you can help it," he suggested. "At least until you're able to keep up with him." He sounded solemn and again she wondered how he had come to know the demon so well. Her understanding was that angels and demons were mortal enemies, made so by bloodshed and conflict over the ages. What was different about Samael to earn him such mercy from the angels?

    "Bah, if they can't keep up with that demonic *** they have no business fighting the Royal Knights," Svarog spoke from across the room, sounding utterly bored. She supposed that to one such as him, Samael's furious rage was nothing but a mild tantrum. That was the only way to explain his dull response.

    Thor turned to Michael next. "Can he be trusted?"

    "Samael has his own goals. But they align with ours. It benefits him to work with us."

    It was the sort of answer she expected, from her own dealings with the Host. Sometimes she had met the angels in passing, often while exploring ruins and relics of some significance to them. They were a detached, unearthly sort, untouched by time in a way different from the gods. Gods aged like mortals, they just didn't perish. The angels meanwhile seemed frozen in time, ageing only slowly if at all. And they often spoke in half-answers and riddles, so different from the directness and presence of many gods. It was like comparing mist with rock. Mutual benefit explained only why Samael was working with them, not how two beings who should have been at odds were working together as Michael and Samael did. Even if their relationship seemed tense.

    Svarog's burning gaze fell upon her and the others, withering and hot like the sun beyond the roof of the temple. She didn't tremble as some might have, though. She could tell he disapproved of the humans' presence, but that didn't matter to her. She had seen too many people suffer to let Svarog Rodsyn's disapproval be an obstacle.

    "Well that I understand at least," he said to Michael. "Can't say the same about them. They should leave this fight to those of us with power."

    "In another universe they might have," Thor said in answer, his voice like thunder on the horizon. Perhaps he was right. But not this universe. In this universe, she would fight, James would fight, and many more Tamers would fight.

    "Are you okay?" James asked. He and Artanis were at her side now, his question directed both at her and Tessa. "He moved so fast, we couldn't do anything before he was right here."

    "I'm fine," she answered. "He didn't touch me."

    "If he had, his blood would be upon the floor at this moment," Okatsu growled. That was Okatsu. Fiercely loyal to her no matter what, Hoshiko reflected. Ever since that day when she had saved the Gabumon X's life, she hadn't left her side. There was no escaping the fact that Okatsu was completely devoted to her, as a samurai was devoted to their lord. That was how Okatsu saw it, Hoshiko was her master and thus Hoshiko's commands were to be obeyed, even if they resulted in the Gabumon's death. It was both touching and sobering when she reflected on the depth of her partner's dedication.

    Svarog's burning tones brought her from her thoughts. "Bah, good 'tactics' afford you nothing with a sword in your gut." His tone was harsh and unforgiving. "Put them with me, Michael, and I won't cover their backs. I'm here for a fight. Not to babysit the soft-skins." He looked over at the Tamers again. "Children. Actual human children. What right do they have to stand beside me in battle?"

    "You have a point, but you gotta give them credit," a Lilamon laughed. "They saw that display out there that sent most of our survivors running for the hills, but they've still decided to stick with us. So they've got guts at least. Foolhardy, possibly suicidal guts, but guts all the same." she shrugged. "For most people, that's about as good as it gets." She nodded to the Tamers, quickly adding "No offense to you guys."

    "None taken," James said to her with his usual smile, before turning to Svarog. "We don't need babysitting. We're here because we watched our friends die and fall into despair. Because we were hunted down, our homes here burnt to the ground," his eyes fell on Hoshiko before turning back to the fiery god, "and our way of life put in jeopardy because the Royal Knights decided we didn't belong. Given all of that, I think we have the right to fight back, should we wish to. And that's what I've done since they began this crusade of theirs, fighting them and their allies where I could to make as much of a difference as possible. The way I see it, being in this group is part of the fight I was already fighting, the battle to stop the Royal Knights and protect the innocents their madness has endangered. I know what the battlefield is like, Svarog Rodsyn. I don't expect you to protect me. I accept the risk of being there."

    There was his speech, the kind she'd heard about. He was so fiery, always with a smile and some reassuring words. He was so perpetually energetic that she wondered if he found it fun to throw himself into the jaws of danger. She wasn't a stranger to dangerous places either, but she was resigned to the risk in the name of discovery. James seemed to thrive in it in a way that was alien to her. How could he keep up that smile like that?

    "He was riding his partner, this awesome RizeGreymon, and they were blasting Coredramon out of the air like it was nothing! He was calling out to us that it was safe and he was gonna get us to Axis Mundi, he was so awesome!"

    "He's so great! Putting himself in danger like that when he was already safe inside the city! He's incredible!"

    "He was laughing like he loved it. I don't know how, but it was so... heartwarming. To hear him laughing like that made me feel like I was going to be okay."


    She remembered hearing the stories about him. The ones that described him as a laughing daredevil who plunged into danger with a wide smile and a sparkle in his eyes. And even before that, she'd heard his name from travellers he'd helped when they got into trouble. He was always smiling in their stories too.

    ----

    Okatsu Sekishusai
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    A blade passed perilously close to Hoshiko as the demon lunged at Tessa, and Okatsu's fangs were bared. The Gabumon snarled, fury flooding her at the threat to her partner, and she prepared to strike at Samael whether Hoshiko was ready to evolve her to her most powerful form or not. However, Michael's blade stayed her own, the angel's sword at Samael's throat. For a moment, she waited, watching as the demon and angel exchanged words, before relaxing as Samael stalked away. Her gaze didn't leave his back, in case he were to turn around. She wasn't afraid of him, for she feared nothing. But his sudden violent turn was worrying. The demon was supposed to be fighting beside them, and Michael's words did not allay the Gabumon's concerns.

    She looked up at Hoshiko. She was unharmed, Okatsu saw. She could tell that her partner was shaken but not hurt, a sense born from their years together. Tessa was not wounded either, spared by Michael's intervention. Still, she resolved to keep a watchful eye on Samael from now on. He was a demon, akin to the oni, and such beings could only despoil the land with their taint. Legend spoke of the great warrior her tribe revered, a mighty wolf with twin swords whose blades had laid low many oni and yokai. Were he present, she was sure his blades would bury themselves into Samael's body and leave the demon broken. So would she act should his lack of control endanger Hoshiko again, no matter how fearsome an opponent he might be.

    Svarog began to question the worth of the Tamers and Okatsu felt only cold scorn. Let him doubt, as so many did. Let him moan aloud about his disapproval, as many had. She did not doubt, for any doubts about humans she had once had were dispelled the day Hoshiko fought alongside Digimon to save her from the Keramon swarm. She saw the warrior hearts that burned in humanity's breasts, no matter how frail they might seem compared to Digimon. Hoshiko and the other Tamers of the guild had never shied from danger, not even the kind that their Digimon partners were intimidated by. It was that courage that had shown her humanity's worth. Their boldness and spirit, a match for that of any Digimon.

    And indeed, James answered the Apollomon with a speech full of fire and bravery, educating the god on the suffering the human Tamers had endured and their desire to fight back. The same desire that Hoshiko felt, Okatsu knew. Her partner was not given to anger, preferring a regal and scholarly demeanour, but beneath that the Gabumon could tell Hoshiko was wounded by the death and suffering she had witnessed the Knights dealing out. James smiled, but the passion in his voice was sincere.

    "I once thought less of humanity, as you do," Artanis spoke up once his partner had finished. "I once believed, as the Knights seem to believe, that humanity did not belong in this world. I saw them as criminals, common thieves and liars. Craven sorts who would flee when confronted. But I learned otherwise from witnessing the courage of my partner, and from the example of others. Humans are frail in comparison to us, that is simple fact. But have we not seen that when united, humans and Digimon can wield power few yet understand? That in our unity, we can craft miracles?"

    Okatsu knew what he spoke of. Biomerge Digivolution. Human and Digimon as one. She had seen it wielded by other Tamers, for she and Hoshiko had not yet achieved it. But those who had unleashed its power had become the equal of any Mega Level, if not superior. It was more than a symbolic power, it was a manifest strength that indeed few understood. She did not know if even the gods or the angels of the Host knew of its origins or how it was possible to combine human and Digimon.

    "If you are here to fight, then we have common purpose," Artanis continued. "For I am here to fight also. I am here to fight mighty opponents and to see them fall at my feet or die in the attempt. In the name of those who have already died before this mad crusade the Knights have embarked upon. For those left suffering in their wake. And you will find, as my partner said, the humans do not ask for your protection. They accept the risk they face, as do the Digimon among us. So let us go to fight, Svarog Rodsyn."

    How they spoke, she thought. So full of fire and glory. Was that what they saw before them? Glory from battle with the heroes of the world? Even turned mad, the Royal Knights were legends indeed. There were few who did not know of their fame in even a small fraction. To face such beings was to face death. They were drilled to perfection, forged by the fire of countless battles and an unbroken chain of succession from the greatest mortal warriors ever known. She would plunge into the depths of Yomi itself at Hoshiko's bidding, so to face the Royal Knights in battle was not something she feared, but she was still aware of the stark reality of their enemy. Hoshiko knew it too, for much of what they had uncovered in the guild had spoken of the exploits of the Knights.

    Did James and Artanis face it lightly? Did Artanis hunger for glory in fighting such a fearsome foe? She did not doubt their wish to avenge those who had fallen and been broken by the cruelty of Galahad and his servants, but James' smile and the fire in the Agumon's voice were not signs of ones who fully comprehended the foe they faced. Or perhaps their bravado was merely that unshakeable. She wondered which it was.

    A Boltmon approached, one unfamiliar to her. He knelt and spoke to Tessa.

    "Wise one, are you okay?"

    Curious, Okatsu glanced at them, before turning back to see how Svarog would respond to James and Artanis.
     
  18. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon Blue Frog Ninja Gal

    Shula Hernandez and Tyfrigo "Frost" Rex the BlackAgumon
    Temple of the Council, Axis Mundi


    It seemed the James and the others noticed her reaction. Then again, she didn't really hide it too well, but seeing as the pair agreed in them meeting the BlackWargreymon, she felt they understood she wanted to drop it right now. She was grateful for that. Though, now that the shock wore off, it wasn't too bad now that she thought about it.

    She looked to Artanis and said, "Hey, at least it's something I can look forward to when this is all over."

    Then she led them to Theo. Of course, she put Frost down before they did because she did realize it looked rather embarrassing for him and considering who were their fellow Guardians were, it would be best not to make them think they were just goofs and they couldn't take things seriously. Theo easily approached them, greeting her and Frost first.

    Shula smiled. "Yeah, I'm better. Still sore for most of my body but I'm sure I'll be fine," she said. "Frost is better off than me."

    "That was because you were being reckless again," he said but his words were voided by his tone.

    Theo then kneeled down, likely so that they wouldn't have to crane their necks which she was thankful for. She had just mentioned her body hadn't fully recovered. She noted how his gaze examined them, and she spotted the brief change in their glint. Curious, she glanced at where it had been directed and saw it was a young girl and Tsukaimon. She blinked in surprise. She didn't remember her joining in but she was with them when everyone else left. But she was so young.

    She didn't have to wonder why they were here for long though. Theo soon asked the names of the other Tamers and she was the first to answer. Then she introduced herself to them, saying her name was Fiona and the Tsukaimon's was Denys. James and Artanis then introduced themselves while it seemed Hoshiko was a bit busy with a very energetic Wisemon she knew as Tessa. All her attention was on Fiona though as she, and then Denys, explained the circumstances of the Council summoning her.

    "Now that's mighty impressive, Fiona," Shula said, voicing her thoughts. "And it's all right, I forget to introduce myself plenty of times."

    "And you wouldn't believe how many times..." Frost mumbled.

    Shula just nudged him with her foot at that before she continued to speak to the girl. She reminded her of herself really, she knew that even if she was young she would try helping, just like Fiona. Though maybe not in tactics like she seemed to be good at.

    "Anyways, in case you missed it, I'm Shula Hernandez."

    "I'm Tyfrigo Rex, but she always calls me Frost so you can call me that as well."

    Since everyone else pretty much explained why they were picked, she decided to do the same as well... Well, she would've had not at the same time she did, Tessa answered the Beelzemon's request for a drink...by opening a portal to let in some water, likely from a lake. She watched in fear as in the blink of an eye, the rage of the demon nearly came to behead with the Wisemon. She reached for her Digivice as fast as she could, her own safety flying out the window.

    She briefly noted some of the others around her were trying to do the same. But they were all too slow. Thankfully, one of them wasn't and the blade was stopped by the angel, his own against the throat of Samael. She stood there, holding her breath, her hand over her Digivice and her body tense as the exchange went on. Then, with a huff, Samael left, only then did she relaxed and let out the breath she hadn't realized she held.

    A Boltmon asked Tessa if she was okay, calling her...Wise One? Her smile returned at that. It seemed somebody had a nickname for her. But the grin soon faded at Svarog's words. Thankfully, before her own rage could blow off, a Lilamon spoke first. Her anger forgotten for the moment, she blinked in surprise as she looked at her. Then she realized that it was the same one they had helped ealier today and her smile came back full force. Who knew what would've happened to the flower Digimon had she and Frost not come to save them?

    Like James, when the Lilamon told them she meant no offense, she said with her smile still there, "Same. Besides, I've had plenty of Digimon, and people, call me that.

    She wasn't so sure what to think of the Lilamon suddenly referring to lion man as "Your Prominence" as she thought that she might've been trying to flatter him or something. But that was pushed back to the back of her mind as James went on to deliver a speech, and Artanis adding to it, she had glared at the Apollomon with defiance in her eyes. She knew Frost was doing the same as well, their postures an almost perfect mirror of each other. She couldn't help but let a brief smile return on her face before resuming her frowning when Artanis mentioned about miracles performed when human and Digimon united. She knew what he was talking about, she knew it very well. After all, she had done it with her partner.

    When the young man and his Agumon partner finally finished, she figured it was her chance to speak, even if it wasn't much.

    "Yeah, exactly what he said," she began. "There's no way I'm going to stand by and hide while you guys are fighting." Never again.

    Then Frost said, "If we can help..."

    "...then we will," they finished in synch.
     
  19. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    "By Rod's eyes," Svarog muttered. Groaning at the displays of protection and astonishment from each human and Digimon as Samael moved. "You'd think he'd actually killed one of them the way they're acting. What will they do when the Knights start cutting them down?"

    "You know what it's like to wrestle in the dirt," Svarog waved him off. "You don't know battle. You don't know war. But you will. And yes, as long as you do not expect my protection you're free to join us." He glared down at Artanis. "But should you fail, should you falter or get in my way, then this experiment is ended. And you will leave war to those with the ability to wage it."

    "Well perhaps the lot of you would better prepare yourselves by not attempting to tear each other apart before the battle," Thor mused, his voice low and rumbling.

    "Was hoping one of them would throw a punch," Svarog muttered. "Make this waiting a bit more interesting."

    "You'd incite discord with your fellows between battles with the Royal Knights?" Michael asked, his voice stern but incredulous.

    Svarog shrugged. "How else would I pass the time?"

    "You're impossible," Thor sighed. Svarog seemed not to care. "We should make our way to the Locomon tracks. They'll be prepared soon and it won't take very long once we get underway."

    =\=/=

    Samael stalked away, fuming. He shouldn't have let that little Wisemon get under his skin. It was water. Just water. He'd bathed in more blood and guts and grime than that little bit of water could ever wash away. He'd been soaked to the bone in blood that was and wasn't his own.

    And he'd almost killed her over it.

    "That would've been a mess," he muttered. "Told ya to kill the Royal Knights, Samael, not a stupid wizard chick." He drove his fist the stone wall. "I HATE this."

    A GrandisKuwagamon stalked past him. "Try not to break things, ugly," it muttered. "Demon scum."

    "Who you calling 'ugly scum', one-eye?" Samael snarled, wheeling around to glare at the insect. "I'll-"

    "Khep, that's enough. We're leaving," said another voice. A Paildramon stepped around a corner and glared at both of them. "No starting fights. That was the deal, remember?" Behind her, a VictoryGreymon, a MachGaogamon, and a Justimon stepped into view.

    "Who the hell are you idiots?" Samael snarled.

    "No one you need to worry about," the Paildramon answered with a hiss. She nodded pointedly to the GrandisKuwagamon - Khep - and they pushed past Samael. Khep snarled the whole while, exceedingly unhappy.

    "Looks like we're not the only ones the Council has on its payroll," Samael sneered.
     
  20. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    < Henry Vane & Aria Morningsong ~
    - Temple of the High Council -
    - Post-Battle Meeting -


    A Captain Hookmon walked towards the council chambers, a solitaryfigure walking against the tide of battle-scarred digimon heading in the opposite direction. Henry Vane was his name, former and future captain of the Queen's Ransom. At the moment, he was only certain about three things.

    The first was that he was beyond a doubt certifiably insane. No getting out of that one. No sane being would willingly walk towards the building that the battered remains of an army were fleeing like so many fleabitten rats on a sinking ship with the intent to join said army. But the degree of his sanity was something Henry had accepted many moons ago. Sane people changed nothing. If you wanted change then you invariably had, at the very least, a little spark of madness. And this Captain Hookmon had more than just a little spark.

    The second thing that the pirate was sure of was that he was going to survive this. It might take an insane man to join a losing army, but self-preservation was still rather important to him. After all, if he died, then that would mean that backstabbing excuse for a first mate of his would get to keep his ship. And that wouldn't do. That wouldn't do at all. He gave the part-sword, part-revolver resting in his belt holster a firm pat. He much preferred his current "first mate" to the old one. The current one preferred to stab other people. And sometimes it shot them. The point is, it was loyal.

    Finally, Henry stood before the doors to the council chambers. The leavers hadn't even bothered to close it firmly behind them, leaving the massive doors hanging open. He nudged one of the doors open with his boot. The left one, the one containing his real foot. Not the other one that was attached to the gun that made up his right leg. That boot was saved for special occasions. Like when someone really, really needed to get shot and a normally sized bullet just wouldn't cut it.

    The size of the group still waiting in the council chambers, the only ones willing to stick with the fight it seemed, was downright pathetic. At the very least, there was a few strong looking mons, but also a few that looked like downright weaklings. And a small group of humans clustered around some rookie levels. He rolled his eyes. Tamers. At least they were willing to stick with the fight. The whole problem was because of their meddling in this world after all, at least, that was about as far as Henry was able to understand the Royal Knight's point of view. The whole thing seemed off to him. But that was the third thing he was sure of. That stepping up to stop the Royal Knights from going totalitarian on everybody's collective asses was a fight worth fighting. But don't mistake him, it wasn't so much love for the Tamers as it was disdain for the Knights. Still, Henry would keep an eye on the strange beings. He hadn't seen enough humans to know quite what to make of them, much less trust one to watch his back.

    The Captain Hookmon watched for a moment, until he could tell who was in charge. It seemed to be either the Apollomon, the Imperialdramon, or the MagnaAngemon. He really couldn't tell which, but it had to be one of them. Maybe they hadn't even figured it out yet. Typical behavior after a solid defeat, for the crew to squabble over leadership rights. Well, they were all standing fairly close together. He'd walk up there and see who addressed him first.

    He made it about halfway when a voice that absolutely did not belong to one of the three big guys spoke up. "Well, you look like you got lost on the way to tavern." The Lilamon said. "I'd love to help you out, but the only one I know of is closed for repairs."

    "Oh I'm well aware of that lass." Henry said, his voice still slightly slurred from the previous night's activities. To be honest, at this point he was starting to think he always sounded just a bit drunk, with or without the actual drink. "I was part of the damages myself."

    The Lilamon smirked, clearly unimpressed. "A shame I don't remember seeing you there or I'd have more snark for you." She gave him a once over, noticing the weapons. "Don't tell me you're actually here to sign-up."

    Henry nodded, one hand holding his hat. "I'd be grateful if you could point me to the one in charge here."

    At that, Aria actually laughed. "To be honest, so would I." She shrugged. "My best guess is that its the angel, Michael. You'd probably have the best luck with him. Thor and Svarog over there," she indicated the two gods, "seem a bit tense at the moment."

    Wait. Michael? Thor? Svarog? Henry knew those names, if only in the way that one knows about a distant land. Now it made sense why this group was so small. It consisted of only those who thought they could stand side by side with a veritable god. Henry would have laughed if he wasn't here to do just that.

    "Well, thanks anyway lass." Henry said with a shrug. "I'll buy you a drink next time though, for that move you pulled on the Ogremon last night if nothing else."

    Aria tilted her head, taken aback. "Ah, so you were there. Yeah, good times. Not too late to turn back now though."

    "Wouldn't dream of it." The Captain Hookmon said as he turned and headed off towards Michael to express his intent to join the group.

    He approached the angel after things seemed to calm down. "Pardon sir," he started with a well-practiced bow, hat in hand. "Captain Henry Vane, at your service. I'd like to volunteer my services to your cause."

    ----

    + Frantz Stein +
    - Temple of the High Council -
    - Post-Battle Meeting -


    After getting an answer out of Tessa, Stein let out a bottled up breath and took a seat on the ground.

    "Stein was worried when he saw swords being pulled." The Boltmon nodded and chuckled to himself. "Stein thinks Wise One should be more careful. Sometimes things more dangerous than they look."

    It got quiet for a moment as Stein calmed down. Now or never. The Boltmon reached into his pocket and took out the small wooden charm. It was tiny in his massive hand, and as such, the Wisemon couldn't even see it until Stein lowered his hand down to her level and revealed it on his palm. A little vaguely egg shaped chunk of wood carved with various glyphs and with an intricate picture of a tree on the front. "Stein was given this charm for saving someone in trouble."

    He nodded to Tessa. "Wise One saved Stein when I was in trouble. So Stein wants to give this to you."
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017

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