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Digimon: Unholy Crusade

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

  1. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Michael Ha'Yisrael (MagnaAngemon) >

    “Yes, well, if someone of your talents will be satisfied with being my first mate then I gladly accept your help.” Michael nodded his acceptance. “I’m sure you agree with my assessment that we have a serious morale problem around here. We aren’t going to make any headway against the Knights if half of us expect to get our tails kicked.”

    "On that we're in agreement," Michael said, his voice low. "I'll handle the Council -- they'll call on us when we arrive. For all intents and purposes they'll continue to see me as the one leading this…team." He glanced out of the window where Axis Mundi rose up from the horizon. "We fought the Royal Knights twice in one day. We should have some reprieve; until they regain their strength as well, at least. Use this time and see if there's something you can make of this…morale problem."

    "Y'can always use my place. I've got a bar in Lower Axis," said the BelleStarmon. She'd arrived with the rest from Glen Elendra and had seemingly joined in against the knights alongside Thor. "It's the same place this idiot tried to burn down the other night." She jabbed her thumb back towards Svarog.

    "Horvath's Tavern?" Svarog half-sputtered. "That's yours?"

    "'Horvath's' what now?" she wheeled around and glared at Svarog. She grit her teeth and snarled to the wall. "I gave Nadia one job. One: pick a new freakin' name for the bar. She's been there for a month now! I even gave her some names! 'Gunslingers,' 'Bullet Club.' Just gotta pick one."

    "Whatever the name, perhaps that's best," Michael murmured, as much to himself as to Henry.

    "Yeah. You're welcome to stay there," the BelleStarmon's demeanor turned somber as she regarded the other humans scattered throughout their car, their partners, and the Peacemakers. "Them, too. Place is big enough."

    Michael was about to thank her.

    "Not him though," she glared at Samael, leaning against a shadowed corner. "His ass can go with you."

    "Aw, Serra, I'm hurt," Samael clicked his teeth, stepping away from the corner and striding over. Michael caught Serra bristle momentarily as Samael neared. "Like the name, by the way. 'Gunslingers'...wonder where I heard that one before."

    "We're going with 'Bullet Club'," Serra snapped.

    "Like that one, too," Samael drawled as he walked past. "See. What'd I tell ya? You learned a lot from me and it's stuck with ya." Samael disappeared into the other train car and Michael silently hoped he would stay out of trouble.

    “But first, the Mammothmon in the room. Samael.” the pirate took a breath, gathering his thoughts. “I’ve dealt with his type before, but you seem to know him the best. If this lot is going to be a fully functional crew, then even he needs a specific job. But after today, I don’t think there are many here who would be comfortable with Samael watching their back. Which is fine. He might be better off working without a partner."

    "It's a worthy assessment," Michael said, almost without thinking.

    “So, as someone who will be responsible for what comes next, I’m asking: can he be trusted to carry out a mission? And more importantly, what is it that’s driving him? Why is he here? I have to admit the demon is something of an enigma to me. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so thoroughly… abrasive. And believe me, I have met some of the most disreputable scoundrels you've ever..." he coughed, as if remembering suddenly who he was talking to. "But I need to understand him as best I can."

    "He's a psycho and a monster and the worst sort of both," Serra snarled.

    "There are worse things out there than Samael," Michael assured the group, his voice almost betraying the uncertainty he struggled to hide. "But very few things are more dangerous. His motives, however, are entirely his own."

    "He just likes killing," Serra insisted, eyeing Michael distrustfully.

    "Hmm," Michael acknowledged absently. "But there are easier ways to do that than fight the Royal Knights. If you're asking if he can be trusted...in the way comrades stand shoulder-to-shoulder and go to war? No. But you can trust Samael to act in his own best interests. And his interests align with ours."
     
  2. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson
    BlackWarGreymon
    Front Locomon Car


    The older Greymon stared listlessly over his shoulder to the outside window, paying no heed to the passing landscape. Aria's light touch and encouraging words eventually drew Theo from the depths of his despair. For now. He still walked a narrow ledge, the slightest of breezes threatening to send him back into the dark pit.

    “Tell me, Gramps.” she started. “What is it that you want?”

    A fogging memory rose to the surface:a orange-scaled hand grabbed his own wrist roughly and snatched a crumpled paper from his grip. His brother had been upset with him at the time. What had they been arguing about?

    “There must be something. And don’t even try to give me something impossible like turning back time cause I won’t accept that and neither should you.”

    No. The dead couldn't come back. He knew that truth all too well.

    You’re alive, Theo.” she said, dropping the nickname for the moment. “You might not have realized it with your head buried in that pit of sorrow you carry around with you, but you’re alive. Cherish that.”

    How could he? A wife is without her husband and a son never had the chance to know his father, all because he failed to watch Asher's back.

    Aria, slowly and gently, pulled her hand away.

    “The next time we talk, I expect you to have an answer for me.” she said sternly. “And you aren’t going to let me down, right?”

    He turned his head to meet Aria's encouraging with a pained expression. “Right, Gramps?”

    Theo shook his helm, responding softly, “I'm sorry, Aria, there won't be a next time.”

    _______________
    Tessa Tesla
    Wisemon
    Front Locomon


    The small mage sprung from where she slept, searching frantically through her robe pockets. “My book! Where is it?! I need to write this down!”

    Finding her small notebook, Tessa paced restlessly up and down the car isle completely absorb in her thoughts from the onslaught of inspiration. Her weary body swayed uneasely from side to side as she wrote a mile a minute, her tired brain in overdrive.

    “Time, time, time,” she muttered obsessively, paging through an old section of notes, “-not time travel, even a Wisemon can't mess around with that.... Time displacements? Temporal abnormalities? No, no, still too disruptive to the time/space continuum. We can't have tears in the fabric of reality starting to show up.” Tessa sketched elaborate diagrams with several complex mathematically equations, mentally whacking her brain to remember. “Time differentials! That's it! Much more forgiving in the time/space continuum if kept to a small area of effect. Might only slow a Knight down for a few seconds at best. But how to apply it with an effective delivery system....” Tessa stared blankly at the floor in thought, scratching her hood with the back of her pencil. She scribbled maddeningly on the page, only to abruptly erase a whole string of calculations. “No, no, that would turn everything in the affect area inside out...”

    Tessa managed to take a calming breath and snapped her notebook shut. “I need sleep. Someone knock on my Book, when we get back to Axis Mundi.”

    Without bothering to check to see if anyone replied, the mage stepped on the giant pages of her father's ancient tome, disappearing from view as the massive book closed.
     
  3. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Serra Castiel (BelleStarmon) >

    The sun was already setting by the time the Guardians arrived back in Axis Mundi. Michael left with a wordless nod to Henry and headed towards the Council's Hall. The humans, their partners, and the other refugee Digimon all departed the overcrowded train cars and were ushered deeper into the city by Council guards and support troops. The Peacemakers -- Drakn, Adriana, Odric, Sha, Nocchi, Gigas, and Saria -- remained with the support troops to assist in the offloading and relocation of the Tamers.

    Drakn and the others glanced briefly over towards the Guardians as they too disembarked. There was a mutual respect and camaraderie there, but also a distance -- the awkwardness of the forced separation the Council had arranged between the two groups. Guardians and Peacemakers were each their own entity. Of this the Council had made certain. The very fact that the Guardians had then intervened to rescue the Peacemakers at both Kaladesh and Glen Elendra had only solidified that distance.

    Serra led the Guardians back through lower Axis Mundi towards her bar, until she realized that most knew the way after having spent time there before the first mission. The moved wordlessly through the streets, dissolving slowly into the crowds of Digimon until they were became unremarkable parts of the scenery and indistinguishable from everyone else around them.

    That was how Serra preferred it. Being unnoticed and unremarkable.

    Only Samael failed to blend in. Even amidst the cacophony and churn of lower Axis Mundi his presence was impossible to miss. He remained a black void in Serra's vision. A hole in the world that drew her gaze and attention with every breath he took. Surrounded as they were by sea and salt and sweat, the tangy iron scent of blood was overpowering in his presence. The result of decades of violence poured over him.

    She wondered why no one else seemed to notice.

    At last they arrived at her bar -- Horvath's, though thankfully Svarog's brawl the other night had successfully destroyed the old sign from when she'd "purchased" the place.

    Serra strode in and caught Nadia's eye. She shook her head and nodded stiffly towards the door.

    "Alright, folks! Bar's closed! Get out and see ya tomorrow!" the Lekismon shouted. The patrons -- savory and not -- grumbled low and ignored her. "Hey! Don't make me get the boss to throw you out!"

    "Yer 'boss' is never around," one of them shouted back. He was an Ogremon with a poucy gut and bloodshot eyes. "She--"

    "I'd watch how you finish that sentence if I were you," Serra said, glaring down at him. "Especially if you like your guts on the inside of your body."

    There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the non-Guardian bar-goers scrambled to their feet and stampeded out the front door.

    "Hope you're happy, boss," Nadia muttered, wiping down the counter as the last drunk straggler tumbled out the door. "Because I'm not getting tipped after that."

    "I'll double your wage for the night," Serra waved her off.

    "I do your bookkeeping! You haven't paid me in weeks!"

    "Don't get yourself in such a huff," Serra said, rolling her eyes. She patted Nadia on the head and scratched her rabbit ears. "You know I'm good for it."

    "The hell happened to you guys?" Nadia asked. She glanced around at the Guardians and a look of despair and recognition dawned on her. "What are you doing with them?!"

    "When did you get so high strung?" Serra wondered.

    "You've been gone for weeks!"

    "I have other bars to run!"

    "Then go to one of them to lick your wounds!" Serra's teasing smirk faded into a grimace, and Nadia's tone quickly changed. "What happened?"

    "These are the 'Guardians' -- Council called them up to fight the Royal Knights," Serra said, and then quickly summarized the events in Glen Elendra. "Looks like I've thrown my lot in with them now."

    "Really?"

    "Someone's gotta watch their backs," Serra said with a sigh. "Make sure Samael doesn't shove a knife in them."

    "Samael? Wait -- the Samael?" Nadia glanced over to the darkest corner of the bar where Samael sat alone. His eyes glowed in the low light and he seemed to be gazing directly through them. "You do know this is a terrible idea, right?"

    "Oh. Absolutely."

    "Then why?"

    Serra shrugged and shook her head. "Not sure yet." She glanced over to the Guardians milling about. "Drinks are on us tonight though. We'll deal with tomorrow when it gets here."
     
  4. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve
    Axis Mundi

    James lagged behind the other Guardians as they moved through the crowds, held back not by exhaustion but by the weight of friendship. Of course they had been waiting. He had messaged Alexis on the train back to let them know he was safe, that he was coming. They'd want that. To know that James Reeve hadn't been snuffed out like a candle, impossible as that might seem to the Tamers he had watched drift into the depths of the city. Their lives in the hands of the Peacemakers he had bid farewell to with a respectful nod and a smile. Even though they surprised him, it was a good surprise, in a way. To know that there were more out there fighting the good fight. Even if he'd prefer to fight it himself so that no one else would have to risk being hurt or killed, he couldn't do it. Reality wouldn't back down for him, not even in the face of that legend that lit the eyes of others with hope.

    Alexis was at his side, Artanis at his other, Cielstraza perched in her partner's arms. The googles, his googles rested atop Alexis's brow and to him it seemed like they fit better there. Behind them, the others walked with their partners, Ryuga and Kazumi trading banter, Tosh with them offering his own occasional quip, and Ariel listening with her smile that tried to be disapproval. It felt like home and yet between them there was still a hole that could never be filled. He knew they all felt it too. Matthew's silhouette was a void beyond Artanis and no one could ever erase that emptiness.

    "What was it like?" Kazumi asked. He and Ryuga were Japanese, but both had picked up English well in Saga. "Fighting with the thunder god there." He gestured to where Thor's black and gold armor gleamed in the sunset light. James considered it a moment, remembering a storm of power making the horizon vanish into a field of white. The sword's energies vibrating through his bones.

    "Incredible," he offered, forcing the smile. "You wouldn't believe that sword of his."

    Kazumi nodded with a smirk. "Maybe he'd let us try it one day."

    James laughed and shook his head. "I don't think it works like that." Not that he knew for sure. Hoshiko would, probably. She'd have read about what the sword had done, the monsters it had slain, the men and women its edge had made knights. But she was silent, walking with Okatsu ahead of them. The Gabumon X had awoken on the train just before they arrived, but what words the two had shared James hadn't heard. He just saw Hoshiko's hand never straying more than an inch from her partner. He couldn't blame her for that. How close had Samael come to getting Okatsu killed? The demon's shadow threatened to drown his joy at seeing his friends and he tried to force it away, but the Beelzemon's presence made it stick in his mind.

    "But even with that sword," Tosh mused, "you didn't do it, did you, brother? They'd be here if you had. Them Royal Knights." The atmosphere fell.

    He shook his head. "No. Not this time. But at least we saved people from them."

    "Because surviving - because this - isn't enough." There were Thor's words again, reminding him. They hadn't gone there just to save people. They had gone there to stop this madness, to defeat the Knights and bring them to justice before the Council. And in that, they had failed.

    Ryuga's hand fell on his shoulder. "Oh, man, Alexis has some news for you."

    Alexis glanced back at him. "I was going to say! I just wanted to let James talk first!"

    James looked between them as Ryuga backed up and Tosh gave a low chuckle. "What news?" She looked back at him and their eyes met, holding with each other for a moment. "What happened? You're okay, right?"

    Alexis smiled. "More than okay. While you were gone, a group of Tamers got in touch, doing the last stretch to get here. They had Royal Knight forces in pursuit, some guy called Maleagant." She looked down at Cielstraza. "You know the score, just... Ciel and I Biomerged."

    They all stopped as James looked at her. He felt happy, definitely. Knowing that Alexis and Cielstraza had become so close and gotten so strong as partners that they had become one. But his own doubts and worries welled up at the news. Shouldn't he and Artanis be there too? If they were, would things have been different? A WarGreymon or a ShineGreymon or something else could have stood there in Kaladesh and Glen Elendra, strong enough to protect more. Strong enough to find victory against the Knights. He forced them away. Not now. Not here.

    He smiled. "That's great! What was it like?"

    Alexis visibly struggled with the words. "It was... so amazing. Just feeling everything like I was Ciel. You know? Like I had her scales and wings and we were fighting together like that. Like when she was attacking it was me doing it too and we were thinking together and moving together and feeling together!" Cielstraza's eyes were gleaming.

    "You have called it a miracle before," the Dorumon said. "All of you. And you were right. It truly is a miracle, something precious."

    "Something we have to protect," Ariel said. They began walking again, for the Guardians were beginning to fade into the crowds.

    "Something we will protect," James said firmly. "Absolutely." He looked at Alexis and Cielstraza and the former looked back at him, and as one they reached out to pull each other close, embracing with one arm each as they walked. "I'm so happy for you both. It really sounds so amazing!"

    Artanis finally chimed in. "You have found that strength, Alexis, Cielstraza. The strength of your bond." James nodded in acknowledgement. There was strength in the bond between Tamer and partner, they all knew that. That was why partners could reach new evolutions in fractions of the time it took their solo counterparts, why when times were desperate new power presented itself, and why human and Digimon could ultimately become one whole stronger by far than the sum of its parts. And yet even with that strength, they were failing, falling, dying. What chance did he and Artanis truly stand without it? They were just a symbol, nothing more. "Hold firm to one another and I hope to see you become stronger still. Stronger than James and I, perhaps." The Agumon gave a warm laugh.

    "We'll see," Alexis chuckled back. "I mean, you guys are the Guardians. We're nobodies compared to you really."

    "Always were," Kazumi laughed. "What are musclebrain here and I compared to the great James Reeve, huh?" He gestured to Ryuga.

    "Who are you calling musclebrain, potato farmer?!" Ryuga grumbled back, his Vorvomon partner stifling a chuckle at his side. Zeta, Kazumi's Hagurumon partner, was as impassive as could be expected of a robot.

    James chuckled himself at their antics. "I missed you guys."

    "You've only been gone a day, brother," Tosh smirked. "But it's good to know that you miss it." It had only been a day, hadn't it? It felt like months had passed. But he had missed them in the midst of it all, missed their company, missed knowing they had his back. When Theo had gone his own way, when Samael had to be watched with one eye (or so it felt), he missed the teammates he knew so well and trusted absolutely. He saw that the other Guardians ahead were filing into a bar, presumably Serra's bar, and he stopped with the others.

    "Going to leave us here?" Alexis asked. "If it's a Guardians-only thing, we totally get it, right guys?"

    "Of course, man," Ryuga said with his smirk. "If you're going to hang out with the cool kids, we can go be places." He laughed.

    "Go on, brother," Tosh added. "You're working with those guys now. You'd better get in your downtime with them." Did James even want to? He felt like the only people he wanted to be with right now were the ones he was standing next to. Not with Thor, who was so distant, not with Svarog, who was so full of scorn, not with Theo, who had given up and who James didn't truly know how he felt about, and especially not with Samael, who stank of blood and was a constant shadow of negative thoughts. But Hoshiko would feel the same, he was sure. And Hoshiko seemed so fragile right now in his eyes, even with Okatsu back on her feet.

    "I'll come see you and everyone else when I can," he finally said. "Sorry. Serra offered us a place here."

    "You've always got a place with us too," Alexis replied. "Always. If they kick you out, just come knocking." She smiled and reached out and they hugged. "I know tomorrow they'll probably have you running off to fight again, right?"

    James nodded. "Wherever the Knights are." And tomorrow he and Artanis would be better. They had to be. He felt like a millstone around the Guardians' collective necks, useful as decoration, but only hindering the others. He knew Artanis felt it too. They had to be stronger. Faster. Whatever it took.

    He and Alexis parted, only for Ariel to hold him next. "Stay safe," she said as they too parted. Digimon were spilling from the tavern now, grumbling about one thing or another as they made their way into the streets of Axis Mundi.

    "Always," he smiled back, and she returned it weakly. Kazumi, Ryuga and Tosh followed with fistbumps, acting manly as they all always did. The way he tried to be, so energetic and inspirational.

    "Kick some ass, man," Kazumi smirked. "Show them some soulfire." Soulfire. There was something these three had in spades.

    "I'll crush them with it," he replied, making Kazumi laugh.

    "Fight hard, brother," Tosh said last, as the others began to slowly move away. "You're gonna need to with these stakes." He had a dark glare in his eyes, surprisingly solemn, and James trusted it enough that his own reply was serious.

    "I know," he said quietly. "I have to."

    "You always got us out of those messes back in the day, mon," Tosh said. "I know they say all kinds of things about you. Making you this big hero, right, mon? But you know the biggest truth they be telling?" He pressed a fingertip to James's chest, right above his heart. "It's that right here there's a heart that doesn't know what quitting means." He gave a smile that was almost a smirk. "Like Kazumi said, brother, show them some of that soulfire you got there." He clenched hands with James in a tight handshake, clapping him on the back before walking away to leave Alexis and Cielstraza.

    "Go on," she said softly as the others began to leave. "You're a Guardian. Be a Guardian with them." He wanted to say it to her, to them. Even if he couldn't bear to let anyone else see the doubts deep within, Alexis was the one he always debated letting down his guard for. He wanted to let it all out, the strife within the Guardians, his fears and worries. How he didn't feel strong enough to fight the Royal Knights, how he had failed to save Lyanna and so many others. But he couldn't do that. He couldn't break her faith in him, not when she and everyone else needed him to be strong for them. To be the hero his deeds had made him. Artanis lingered at his side too, reminding him of his duty.

    He smiled. "Guardian I am," he replied. Even with Thor and Svarog and Samael in there, he could do it. Be one of them, even if he didn't entirely feel it.

    She smiled back and was gone, following the others with a last glance back. He watched her walk away into the twilight.

    "Shall we proceed?" Artanis finally intruded.

    James nodded, and made his way inside.

    -

    Artanis Dawnflame
    Serra's Tavern

    It was indeed a tavern, full of fond memories and the echoes of many a bar brawl. The Agumon took it in as he and James entered, the counter, the chairs that bore the scars of those brawls, the scent of ale and merriment. There were many places like it across the face of Saga, each with its own unique flavor, but Artanis had never had much time for it. Others among the Akilae were more lax than he, but Tassadar had impressed upon him the importance of a clear head. Merriment had its place, but he preferred to spend it sober.

    The Guardians were the only occupants of the tavern now, the other patrons having clearly been vacated to leave the space for them alone. He was glad of that. The atmosphere was quiet, even with Samael skulking in the dark corner with those eyes glowing menacingly. Artanis met them for a moment, then turned his gaze elsewhere. His body ached with exhaustion, the wound in his shoulder still flaring with pain as he moved. But the most grievous wound was in his spirit. He knew as well as James did, as they all did perhaps, that this was only barely victory. They had saved many Tamers and partners, but many more had not been saved. And the Royal Knights had defeated the Guardians with little effort.

    He looked about the room, seeing wounds both physical and mental apparent in healing scars and downcast eyes. The scar on Okatsu's chest caught his eyes in particular, most striking because it was an injury inflicted by a supposed ally rather than a noble foe. Mad as the Knights had become, they retained some of their nobility. He had weighed Tristan's actions and words long and hard on the train, the Gallantmon's statement echoing in his head. But regardless of how nobly they spoke, people were dying because of them. If the Knights truly cared, he had finally reasoned, then their crusade would have ended at the first death.

    The Agumon's wandering eyes found Theo, the BlackWarGreymon despondent amidst the crowd. He felt the urge to go to the other Greymon and say something. Some inspiring speech perhaps. Tassadar would have had just the words to inspire new courage and resolve, but that skill was one his mentor had not quite passed to Artanis. James possessed it, but even he seemed struck dumb by Theo's current state. Was it the feeling of betrayal? The loss of such a comrade? Of all the Guardians, Theo had seemed among the most resolute, alongside Michael and the humans. And indeed, Theo knew what it was like to be Tamer and partner, and what it meant to lose that precious bond. He almost shivered at the thought.

    As the others made their plans, he turned to Hoshiko. Okatsu too stared at Theo, her eyes unreadable. Did she too wish to try and snap the BlackWarGreymon from his despair?

    "Are you well?" he asked, directing the question at them both.

    Okatsu looked at him and gave a curt nod, a twitch of her mouth betraying her pain. "I will mend," she answered. "In body and mind." They all would, in body at least. Minds on the other hand...

    "Glad to be back," Hoshiko murmured, her fingertips brushing on Okatsu's fur.

    "What will you do?" Artanis queried. "You have your guild here, do you not?"

    Hoshiko gave a weary nod in answer. "Yes. I... I want to check on them. See if-" She cut herself short a moment, as though exhaustion and fatigue had overwhelmed her. "If anyone else found their way here." Okatsu reached up to touch her partner's hand. "I should go." Her gaze wasn't on him, Artanis suddenly noticed. It was drawn across the room, to the darkest corner where Samael haunted them. And beneath the tiredness, it was like a dark fire burned in her eyes.

    "Go and rest, Hoshiko Yukimura," the Agumon said softly. "It has been a taxing day. And there are more trials to come."

    "I'll call if anything comes up," James added, stepping forward. "Artanis is right." He looked down. "We did well today, saving that many, but-"

    "But just surviving isn't enough," Artanis finished softly. James gave a nod, but Hoshiko was silent.

    "Then what is enough?" Okatsu posed. "Victory, correct? No matter what cost?"

    Artanis frowned. "Victory, of course."

    The Gabumon X faced him. "Defeating the Royal Knights, you mean. To write your saga." She seemed almost scornful again, as she had before.

    James seemed to ponder this. "What else can we do, Okatsu? Just be satisfied with having saved some people, despite the fact that the Knights will just hit somewhere else tomorrow?" He frowned, and Artanis knew that he found that line of thinking painful. If James could have his way, he'd have saved everyone in Kaladesh and Glen Elendra. It was just the way he was.

    She turned to him. "They call you a hero, James Reeve. You want to save everyone, correct? Be the one who carries a child out of the fire, though you risk your own life to do so?" Her expression was curiously somewhere between a frown and a smile. "Ask yourself this. And you, Artanis Dawnflame. If surviving isn't enough, if only truly defeating the Royal Knights is victory, then does that mean that achieving that victory means more than anything else? Even the lives you so want to save?"

    Artanis bristled, but caught himself. Beside him, James stared at Okatsu in surprise. "How can you ask that?" the young man asked.

    -

    Okatsu Sekishusai
    Serra's Tavern

    It was like the two of them hadn't found a conclusion themselves, she thought. Like they hadn't fully thought through those words. Even though the wound in her chest ached, even though Samael's presence was a constant tug on her thoughts, she could still feel it in how they'd spoken.

    "Because if you are going to fight," she said softly, "then you should have no illusions about why. No doubts and no hesitation. Otherwise, you will be held back, no matter how subconsciously." She turned away, only to glance back. "We should all rest, for now. Perhaps you can meditate upon that question and find your answer. I hope it brings you clarity." They were looking at her with some confusion still.

    "Do you think I could just let people suffer?" James said after a moment, quietly.

    "I cannot know," Okatsu said quietly. "Only you can be certain if you're capable of that, James." She looked between the two. "Think on it. Perhaps answering it will give you strength."

    "Do you think we need riddles and games at this moment?" Artanis pressed. "With everything that has happened and that we are doing?"

    "I think that you need certainty," the Gabumon replied. "That right now, you wrestle with those words you both know, uncertain of the resolution they should lead to." She looked up at James and met his eyes. "A warrior without certainty about how and why they fight is like a house on unsteady foundations." An old lesson borrowed from her sensei, but apt. "Excuse me, sorry, but there is something I must do." She looked away from them now and found Theo. It seemed like he had been talking to the Lekismon bartender about something or other, but now he was turning to leave through the back.

    "We should get back to the others," Hoshiko said. "Can't it wait, Okatsu?" Her partner sounded so weary, so worn by stress, but Okatsu had a concern she needed to lay to rest.

    "I'm sorry," she murmured. "But I have to settle this, Hoshiko."

    "Then I'll come with you," her partner said immediately. "Whatever it is, I can help-"

    Okatsu shook her head, hating herself for it. Hoshiko didn't need to be left alone in this moment. But what Sir Gawain had said about Theo... she wanted to feel like it could be left for another time, but right now she wanted certainty. "I need to do this alone, Hoshiko."

    The woman looked at her with a pain Okatsu very rarely saw. It occasionally filled Hoshiko's eyes in moments where she was wistful, always banished as soon as she noticed Okatsu looking. But now the Gabumon X saw it fully, an icy agony that stained Hoshiko's eyes with the ghosts of a terrible past. "Okay," Hoshiko murmured finally, her voice soft. "I'll wait for you."

    Okatsu reached up, resting her hand on the back of Hoshiko's. "I'm sorry," she said, aware that James and Artanis watched. "I will be as quick as I can. I just need to find some answers." She let go and made her way across the bar, following Theo.

    -

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Serra's Tavern

    She found a chair and slumped down into it, watching her partner vanish into the back of the bar. Separated again. Her hand came to her chest, where the merest phantom of pain still troubled her. Hoshiko looked around the bar, checking each Guardian in turn, skipping past Samael's dark corner now because whether imaginary or not, seeing him seemed to make that phantasmal pain spike. Theo and Okatsu were gone. Was it Theo Okatsu was going to talk to? Why? Had something else happened besides Samael's backstabbing?

    She should explain. The thought came as her gaze found Serra and the Lekismon. It would only be polite. She didn't have much energy for politeness right now, but Serra had offered so much already, and otherwise she would sit in the chair and do nothing until Okatsu came back from her secret task. It stung that Okatsu hadn't told her what exactly was happening. Why she had to go alone. But she just felt uncertain, glad that Okatsu was safe, but fearful of the demon who had done it to her. Not knowing whether more of her lost guildmates had returned or if their unknown fates would still weigh on her mind as she tried to rest along with guilt and grief.

    Hoshiko forced herself to rise from the chair, crossing the room to Serra and the Lekismon bartender. "I just wanted to thank you for your hospitality," she said quietly. "But I have people here, my colleagues, I suppose. My friends. I need to check that they're okay and if... if any more have come back." The last part was quieter. She didn't expect that they had.

    But she could only hope right now.
     
  5. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    + Frantz Stein (Boltmon) +
    Axis Mundi -> Serra's Tavern


    Stein remembered this place. This was the big city the invitation had led him too. There were so many digimon here. Huemons too. All kinds as well. Stein hadn’t paid much attention to such details the last time he was here. He was running late after all, his only concern was getting to the planes before they left without him.

    That seemed like such a long time ago. Stein wasn’t the best at keeping track of time as it was. Much less having spent several long sections of it unconscious. The Boltmon frowned at his own thoughts. He was getting beaten up too much. How could he protect his new friends if he was unconscious? He could not, his logic circuits reminded him.

    He followed the others through the crowds and into a large tavern. Stein was reasonably certain he ran on batteries, so drinking was not something he had ever experienced. He could eat, sure. But he didn't have too. Could he drink? His circuits gave a digital shrug. Maybe if he drank the strange juice, he would get all red-faced and wobbly like some of the others he’d seen. Was that fun? Stein was skeptical, but the others certainly seemed to think so.

    He looked for Flower Friend to ask her if she though the wobbly part was fun, but the Lilamon was already seated at the bar. Captain was likewise occupied. And he didn’t see Wise One at all. She was probably too small. Stein was not good at finding small things, even when they were his friends.

    Who could he ask about the tavern and its strange rituals? Who was the best? Stein had heard several of the others mention how Svarog had “gone wild” in a tavern before the first fight. They seemed to mention it with a level of respect as well. Stein nodded. He needed an expert.

    Svarog wasn’t hard to find. He never was. Stein approached the Apollomon with the same level of reservation or tact that he approached everyone with. That is to say, none at all.

    “Mr. Sun!” he began, as though this was a normal way to address Svarog, “Stein has heard the legends of your tavern abilities. I normally chop firewood or crush boulders to unwind, so Stein has no knowledge of what to do in a tavern and would like to learn from an expert.”


    ---


    ~ Aria Morningsong (Lilamon) ~
    Serra's Tavern


    Well, that had been a dismal failure. Theo was even worse off than she had thought. And she had even gotten all sappy in front of him too. It made her cringe now just to think about it. She thanked her lucky stars that she was in a tavern right now cause she sure as hell needed the drink.

    Her eyes drifted over to where Theo was moping and she let out a long frustrated sigh. Some people just couldn’t be pulled out from under their sad little rain clouds. Some people even carried their rain cloud around protectively, afraid to let it go cause they can’t remember what it feels like to be dry. Theo might be the later, someone who couldn’t be helped until they helped themself. Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying.

    It was far past time to set her thoughts on more sunny things. She took a seat at the bar and set about mentally calculating how many drinks her too light pouch of coins could get her.

    That BelleStarmon who seemed to run the place turned and addressed the group. "Drinks are on us tonight though. We'll deal with tomorrow when it gets here."

    Aria raised a nearby empty glass in response. “That is the best news I’ve heard all day.”

    The Lilamon turned to the Lekismon bartender, who she remembered from the other night was named Nadia, and slid the empty glass towards her. “I don’t care what you fill that with, just make it something good.”

    Nadia smirked. "You know that’s code for the cheap stuff, right?”

    “Honestly, I’m too worn out to care that much. And in a few glasses I can assure you I won’t care at all.” Aria leaned forward on the bar stool and rested her elbows on the bar itself, ready to spend the evening trying to forget about what had happened recently. And what would happen soon.

    Until she realized that it made her look like Henry. Sitting here moping alone, head buried in a bottle. That though was unpleasant enough to make her straighten in her seat. She was a lot of things, but a spoil sport wasn’t one of them. And wasn’t going to start being one now. Not now, not ever.

    A glass slid to a stop gently in front of her. Nadia was good. Whatever was in it certainly smelled strong. Good. She had downed half the glass before she knew it.

    This place needed some livening up. Too many moping faces. But first, she needed a little more drink.


    ---

    < Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon) >
    Serra's Tavern


    After spending the rest of the train ride mulling over everything he knew about his teammates, their skills, styles, and personalities all, Henry was beginning to understand the depth of his position. Most crews started out with a few guys. A handful of lads who had ambition and a common goal. This was like starting with the broken remains of a fleet’s worth of crews, some of whom hated each other, and trying to make it work.

    And he would make it work. A gentleman’s word is as good as law.

    The Knights were another problem entirely, but he would deal with that second. First, he had to sort out the shambled mess that was this team’s morale. But when even that spunky little flowermon looked like a haggard drunk things had to be bad.

    Might as well start at the place he had least amount of information, the tamers and their partners. He approached James and Artanis first, as Hoshiko and Okatsu weren’t together.

    “Hello there lads.” he said with a small measure of cheer. “Mind if I have a word?”

    While he listened to their response, he took a moment to size them up. A human, and an Agumon. One, fragile and without a means of self-defense. The other, a Rookie with abnormal strength for its level. The bond between a tamer and their digimon partner was still strange to him, but there was no denying its power now that he had seen Deneb and his partner biomerge.

    “Don’t know if you’ve caught wind of it, but there’s been a change in leadership around here. I’m the official captain of this crew now, and as such I’ve got to figure out how not to get us all killed tomorrow.”

    “So, on that note, I’ve got to know what to do with you two and the other tamer pairs. You lot are something of a double edged sword. One one hand, that biomerge thing is a trump card that we desperately need. That sort of unpredictable power could turn the tides in our favor. But on the other hand…”

    The pirate looked directly at James. “You present a special sort of risk, a weak point. We already know they have no qualms about killing. Get a Knight desperate enough, and they may strike at you directly. Are you prepared for that, lad?”

    “Because you need to be. And anyone around you needs to be.” he looked at Artanis as he said that part. “Same goes for the other humans.” He scratched the back of his head. “Blast, I sound like my old man. Look lad, I’m not trying to discourage you and I’m not telling you to abandon ship. What I’m saying is, I need someone to manage the tamer pairs. A first mate, if you will. Or rather, mates, in your case.”

    “Show a little grit, speak up, and the job’s yours. You two will be my bridge with the tamers. If you aren’t up to it, then point me in the right direction. You two seem to know what you’re doing. Either way, I need your help.”
     
  6. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul


    Serra’s Tavern



    Serra shrugged and shook her head. "Not sure yet." She glanced over to the Guardians milling about. "Drinks are on us tonight though. We'll deal with tomorrow when it gets here."

    “Fine. Though I’m still cleaning up his handy work from the other night,” Nadia shot a glare towards the Apollomon, before turning to the other Guardians. “So mind the mess, otherwise sit wherever it pleases ya. Washrooms and bedrooms are down the back hall and up the stairs, if you feel like retiring early.”

    The Lekismon noticed the familiar BlackWarGreymon lingering apart from the group. Her eyes soften ever so slightly as the older Greymon made a beeline for the back hallway without a word. A female tamer in the group called after him with a hushed Theo!, only for it to go unheard. Nadia shook her head slowly, recognizing the haunted expression as he passed by her. Only time would tell with that one, if he sank or swam.

    Dropping her filthy rag in a bin under the counter, Nadia resigned herself to playing host to the lot of them (She was more than still slightly pissed about the previous incident). “I’ll get some food and drink going.”

    _______________________


    Andrea Mercer/Deneb Odebu (Poromon)
    Serra’s Tavern


    Andrea stared after Theo. She immediately regretted her parting words to him on the train. Now, he’d closed her out completely. The female tamer tighten her grip around Deneb for comfort. The Poromon squawked only a little at the discomfort, understanding his tamer was stressed. The female tamer approached the bar, settling Deneb on a stool and taking one for herself as well.

    “I’ll get some food and drink going, “ the plump Lekismon called out, getting a clean batch of steins ready.

    “I can help with clean up,” Andrea immediately volunteered, gesturing to all the abandoned steins and glass mugs of the regular patrons. She needed a diversion and in general she didn’t like sitting idle. Helping Nadia with the leftover mess was the least she could do. The Lekismon nodded and gestured to where clean rags and a collection bin for dishware was located.

    “I could eat a roast the size of a Monochromon,” Deneb muttered from his stool. The Poromon was already drooling at the imagery roast in his eyes. Andrea gave Deneb a long-suffering look, then turned to Aria, who was busy with a drink, currently seated next to them. “Would you mind making sure he doesn’t drink anything terribly strong? At least, before he eats something and returns to his rookie form? I’d rather not have him dancing on the counter and singing off key.”

    “I do not sing off-key,” Deneb protested, his pink little feathers raised in irritation at the insult. “I am a bird. I have perfect-pitch.”

    “Sure, Deneb, whatever you say,” Andrea retorted, a smile creeping to her face. She loved her partner to death, but she didn’t trust him when it came to alcohol. He loved his sweet wines way too much.

    Satisfied that Deneb was settled, Andrea went about the empty tables collecting half-filled or empty glasses and wiping sticky residue off wooden tables. She silently maneuvered the other Guardians that were fickle about their personal space. All the while, she staunchly tried to not pay attention to the the raised hairs on her neck. Everywhere she went to gather mugs, a relentless presence bored itself into the back of her head, refusing to be ignored. Unconsciously, she took the long way between tables to avoid Samael’s dark corner.

    Finally, she couldn’t help herself and glanced back in his direction. Her stomach rolled nauseously with growing unease. She’d been too preoccupied with the dead tamers and Theo’s demands earlier for Samael’s true nature and his actions to completely sink in. But now, she had his undivided attention. Two empty glasses sat on the table next to Samael.

    Andrea leaned hard on a table to steady to a tremor in one hand. She shook her head to dislodge the instinctive fear that demons inspired. The flames of the previous summer’s wildfire licked at her face tauntingly from her memories. She stared into the inferno that swirled around her then, running from the rapidly encroaching flames...

    “Damn it!” she said, non too softly and smacking a clenched fist onto the table. Her decision made. Andrea returned to the bar, requesting a large glass of strong drink from Nadia. The female tamer made a straight line for Samael.

    She didn’t want to do this. Two dirty glasses were not worth it. She doubt many of the Guardians would blame her for avoiding him completely tonight. But that wasn’t why she was doing this.

    Samael wasn’t going anywhere. He was here with them, whatever his reasons. Better to accept that reality now, than try to convince oneself otherwise. She couldn’t avoid him indefinitely.

    She couldn’t afford any hesitation in her normal line work, much less in their current situation. What if she froze up upon crossing paths with him on the battlefield? Deneb most certainly would. Everything can change in a split second. Act, rather than react.

    Better to face the budding fear now in a more controlled environment, than in the chaos of battle against the Royal Knights.

    She was closer now. Her approach and exit strategy already planned. Plus, she made sure she wasn’t coming empty-handed.

    Time to bite the bullet.

    “Trade you a full glass for those empties,” she said, gesturing with a nod to the two glasses on the table beside him. Blood pounded in her ears, though she kept her voice even and outward composure steady.


    __________________________________________________________


    Tessa Tesla (Wisemon)
    Serra’s Tavern



    Tessa made herself right at home.

    Her father’s tome propped up against the wall. Several tables were shoved noisedly together in haste and littered with multiple books scrolls over the surface. The small mage was bright-eyed and bushy tailed as the saying goes. She already managed to snag a few hours of sleep before they reached Axis Mundi in the pocket dimension connected to her father’s Book. An essential tool and resource for any Wisemon to bring their lab and library on their travels. Time in Tessa’s pocket dimension could moved at a faster rate than in Saga. A cheatsy-doodle way to sneak more hours in the day if need be.

    A concept she was currently brainstorming with, but in the opposite manner. Could she create a time differential to temporary slow down time in the immediate area around or the Royal Knight themself and create a window(if brief) of opportunity for other Guardians? The mathematical calculations were massive and more than one way to code for execution. Tessa understood the theory and crunching the numbers was just a matter of time. (Ha! Time Pun!) It was the delivery method the young mage was torn on.

    Should she use spell tags on magework paper with the necessary coding and seals? She could make several of those with some ease ahead of time. Tessa begin writing prototype seal on one scroll. However, they were less effective and required being tagged onto the specific target. Perhaps an area-of-effect method would be better to use as a trap with the potential to hold a Knight frozen still for a longer period. A blank scroll appeared with a *poof* as various digimoji stringed themselves together on the parchpaper. Still...the coding required was far more complex to cover a larger area of ground. She’d still have to create a large portion of the coding on the spot and actively reinforce the entrapment spell in case a Knight decided to try and simply brute force their way out of it.

    Tessa watched a playback of the previous battle with her Time-Space Orbs. The constant game of cat-and-mouse with Sir Lamarock’s geist limited her to high-coding skills to using more crude methods and creating the code as she went. No, she needed to attempt these Greater Workings of Code to be of any use to the Guardians, but that required tremendous set up beforehand. She would need a more stationary position for part of the coding she had in mind. But...how would she fend off an attack while in the middle of casting her work together?

    Her recently acquired Construct of Sir Lamoracks’s fire geist was one possibility, she supposed. Tessa would have to set up a simulation engine with her Orbs in order to advance Anthony’s programing to operate far more independently. That was an ambitious project alone. Programing a Construct Assistant from a playback recreation was an area of specialty all of its own. That and reproductions rarely matched up to the real thing.

    Truthly, she would probably just have to resort to a convincing illusion to disguise her location.

    Tessa slumped in her seat, banging her hooded head on the back of the chair and groaned. What she needed was a peer. Someone who could provide intellectual feedback on the pros and cons of the various methods she was developing to aid in their against the Royal Knights. She knew the theory behind her ideas were sounds, but which concepts were more practical when put into practice? The fight with Sir Lamorack punched a dozen or more holes in her attempts to help Lord Thor.

    The female mage fiddled with the journeyman cords attached to the sash at her waist. Tessa frowned. She could immediately discount the idea of seeking consultation with the Wisemon Council of the Coding Arts. They wouldn’t even assign Tessa her Great Task to earn a covenant place of recognition among the Masters.

    Unpure pedigree, they cited. Her mixed parentage would never grant her the potential to create Great Workings in the Coding Arts. Bah! What did they truly know about her?

    Tessa’s rapidfire thoughts shifted to a singular problem she pondered since the very first battle.

    She couldn’t heal humans.

    A problem to which she couldn’t present a viable solution. The Wisemon stared at a raised hand, allowing the faint glow of the healing light to manifest. Leaving Kaladesh, Tessa tried to heal as many as she could. She mended many digimon without a problem, so long as she had the energy for it. However, every human she tried to heal? No change.

    Why? She didn’t understand. Was it maybe her?

    Was the Wisemon Council correct after all? Was her potential ability to heal others mediocre at best, since her father was a demon man and her mother an angel? What did she really know about the wondrous nature of Angels?

    Tessa smacked her head down on the table in frustration. The young mage rarely questioned her abilities. However, the only Angel available for her to ask was currently away with the High Council.


    _________________________________________________________


    Theo Grayson
    (BlackWarGreymon)
    Serra’s Tavern - Rooftop


    The BlackWarGreymon quietly closed the roof door behind him, starring ahead to the dark skies above. After moment, his weary legs shuffled towards the nearest ledge, lowering himself to sit. The elder greymon rubbed tired eyes, apparently lost in thought.

    Okatsu stepped out behind Theo, taking in the sunset-lit sky. Orange glowed to the west, still illuminating the spires of Axis Mundi. For a moment, she was silent, testing the atmosphere. “I’m sorry to disturb you like this, Theo. But I must speak with you.”

    Theo glanced over his shoulder, dulled eyes met the Gabumon X’s. He released a small sigh, either from relief or resignation. The BlackWarGreymon resumed his watch of the open skies. “Say what you must.” He rumbled softly.

    Okatsu took a step closer. “What Sir Gawain said in Glen Elendra. You once served under the Royal Knights, did you not?”

    “Yes,” he answered, his voice hollow, “I was a career soldier, enlisted back when I was a teenager. I left their ranks more than a decade ago, though.”

    Theo looked back at Okatsu, “Does that concern you?”

    Okatsu weighed this. “I only wish to know why you were not more open about that fact,” she finally said cautiously. “Why I discovered it by overhearing what Sir Gawain said in the heat of battle.”

    “I..” the old soldier started hesitate, uncertain. “I wasn’t trying to hide it, Okatsu, not from you or the other so much.” Theo shook his head in dismay, “Perhaps it was a fool’s hope of mine to keep my past service hidden from the Royal Knights at least for a little while.”

    His shame. Burden. Guilt. He had tried to hide the past from himself. So, he could pick up a new cause, join a new battle. But he couldn’t bury his failure. Or the Truth. He was a broken warrior with no will to fight. Not since that day and he left the Royal Knights. He’d been a fool to try and believe.

    Theo turned his eyes away, “I should've realized that…”

    “Yes,” Okatsu said quietly. “Our fight is difficult enough without room for mistrust, Theo. And I had to know that no secrets would be spoken to the Royal Knights.” She stepped up, only a step behind the BlackWarGreymon now. “But to be open myself, I do not believe you a spy or saboteur. If I thought so at all, the fury you showed towards Sir Gawain corrected me.”

    Theo nodded slightly, “My reasons to fight…” his fists trembled from more recent memories. “Are..or were not all that different from yours.” He rubbed his forehead wearily, as if fighting back a terrible weariness or pain. A gray haze lingered threatenly at the edges of his vision. Theo slowed his breath to calm the terrible ache at his core.

    Okatsu frowned, regarding him with uncertainty. “Not that different? In what sense?”

    Unable to speak, the black dragon reluctantly withdrew a small item from the pouch on is belt. A lifeless yellow and grey digivice.

    “For a fight, I would have fought anyway,” Theo managed to choke out. He closed his pain filled eyes.

    Okatsu took the final step, joining him at the edge of the building. Far below, Digimon passed through the streets. She stared at the Digivice in Theo’s palm with widened eyes.

    “You had a partner?” she whispered at last. “What… what happened?”

    “An accident,” he said hoarsely, his hands calmed a bit from their shaking, “in Analog where I couldn’t be by his side...”

    Theo placed a tarnished armored claw upon his chest, “I am one of the Bereaved.”

    Okatsu stared at him for a moment before catching herself. “I am sorry, Theo,” she murmured.

    The BlackWarGreymon gently grasped the small digivice, tucking it away. The darkening night hid his solemn form. “Okatsu,” he muttered quietly. “Be wary in your next battle.”

    “Wary?” she echoed, struck by the sudden change in subject. “Wary of what?”

    “When Hoshiko…” Theo shuddered from the memory. “...saw your...state and it’s cause. She displayed an anger towards Samael. Such anger, I did not suspect from her. Human emotions energize us and give us strength. They change us in ways that bring out the best in us, but it can go the other way as well. My current form is proof of that. I was not always a BlackWarGreymon.”

    “Anger, from Hoshiko?” Okatsu said, baffled. A moment of silence hung between them. “I know what you speak of, Theo. Dark evolutions. Thank you for your warning. I will heed it.”

    The BlackWarGreymon nodded silently, then stared down at his black armor and claws. “It’s the least I can do for failing you in Glen Elendra. Your fight ahead will be impossible enough.”

    “You do not need to apologise for that,” Okatsu replied, with a harsh retort. “You could not have predicted Samael’s actions.” She frowned, pausing in thought. “‘My’ fight, Theo?”

    “I..” Theo turned away in shame. He couldn’t meet Okatsu’s questioning eyes. “I can’t protect anyone anymore, not the tamers, their digimon...” the old dragon muttered a different name under his breath, “not from the Knights. It’s impossible.”

    Okatsu stared at him. “So many have said,” she answered. “And yet you have. We have.”

    “It won’t be enough.” Theo bowed his head, defeated. Visions of past battles played through his mind. He felt old. Useless. “It’ll be a war of attrition. I don’t have that kind of fight left in me. Not for a long time.”

    “Then what will you do?” the Gabumon asked, disappointment creeping in her voice. “Leave us? Go wait out this war in the belief that you can change nothing?”

    “I...don’t know,” he admitted. “I thought I could take up one more battle, because I should…” The old dragon held up his Dramon Breakers, tarnished and claws dulled from neglect. His long, ratty, and unkempt hair caught in a cool night breeze. A look of disgust crossed his face as he fully took in his appearance. “I’m of no use to anyone. I’ve failed too many people I care about.”

    “If that is where you stand, then it is your choice, of course,” Okatsu frowned. “But Samael heard Sir Gawain too, Theo. If you leave now, how would that look to our comrades?” She paused. “I do not want them to draw false conclusions about you. Let them judge you based on the truth.”

    “Andrea knows the truth. That is enough for me.” Theo said, pulling off his Dramon Breakers and attaching them to his belt. He pulled out the digivice again. “Kyle was her brother.”

    “Your partner?”

    The elder Greymon gave a slow nod.

    Okatsu was silent, turning to face the sunset. Finally, she spoke, the disappointment clear in her voice. “If you wish to leave, Theo, then I cannot stop you. Regardless of the oath you swore and the duty you wish to abandon.” She turned and began to walk away, stopping at the door and looking back with conflicted eyes. She hesitated, but then gave voice to her thoughts. “But if Kyle could see you in this moment, what would he say to you?”

    And with that, she vanished back into the gloom of the stairs.

    Theo stared off over the city horizon a moment or so longer. The aged warrior departed from the roof shortly there after.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  7. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve
    Serra's Tavern

    James watched as Okatsu left, following Theo with purpose in her stride. She had something in mind, that was for certain. Hoshiko on the other hand looked lost, as though Okatsu had taken any sense of direction with her, going over to Serra and Nadia to say something. He was about to go and speak to her when he noticed Henry making his way purposefully over to him and Artanis.

    "Hello there lads," the pirate greeted. "Mind if I had a word?"

    "Of course," James smiled in answer. He hadn't spoken to Henry at all, but Artanis had filled him in on the CaptainHookmon taking the mantle of leadership.

    “Don’t know if you’ve caught wind of it, but there’s been a change in leadership around here. I’m the official captain of this crew now, and as such I’ve got to figure out how not to get us all killed tomorrow. So, on that note, I’ve got to know what to do with you two and the other tamer pairs. You lot are something of a double edged sword. One one hand, that biomerge thing is a trump card that we desperately need. That sort of unpredictable power could turn the tides in our favor. But on the other hand…”

    James nodded, following so far.

    “You present a special sort of risk, a weak point. We already know they have no qualms about killing. Get a Knight desperate enough, and they may strike at you directly. Are you prepared for that, lad?”

    "Yes," he answered. "Since this whole thing began."

    “Because you need to be. And anyone around you needs to be.” he looked at Artanis as he said that part. “Same goes for the other humans.” He scratched the back of his head. “Blast, I sound like my old man. Look lad, I’m not trying to discourage you and I’m not telling you to abandon ship. What I’m saying is, I need someone to manage the tamer pairs. A first mate, if you will. Or rather, mates, in your case. Show a little grit, speak up, and the job’s yours. You two will be my bridge with the tamers. If you aren’t up to it, then point me in the right direction. You two seem to know what you’re doing. Either way, I need your help.”

    James paused at this, looking at Henry. He had expected this a little. From what he'd gathered about Henry, he guessed that the pirate's previous crew was all Digimon, so Tamers would be new to him. And it only made sense to delegate to someone who understood better, someone who'd led other humans into the thick of the fight. Hoshiko had led too, but more as an administrator and professor. And Andrea, as far as he knew, hadn't led at all. So who better than a living legend among Tamers? James Reeve, hero.

    "I'm glad to help," he said. "I'm used to leading Tamers." Albeit only his Tamers. The friends he'd talked to only five minutes before.

    "We would be more than willing to coordinate Hoshiko and Okatsu, and Andrea and Deneb with you," Artanis added. Odd as it felt that the weakest of the pairs would be leading, James reflected. Again the thought of Alexis Biomerging with Cielstraza came to him. What was it that meant he and Artanis couldn't do the same, he wondered. Was it connected to what Okatsu had talked about? A lack of defined purpose?

    "Just let us know what you need," he said to Henry. "And we'll do everything we can to back you up."

    -

    Okatsu Sekishusai
    Serra's Tavern (Roof)

    Okatsu stepped out behind Theo, taking in the sunset-lit sky. Orange glowed to the west, still illuminating the spires of Axis Mundi. For a moment, she was silent, testing the atmosphere. “I’m sorry to disturb you like this, Theo. But I must speak with you.” The BlackWarGreymon looked back at her with weary eyes, a sigh escaping his lips, before he turned back to the sky.

    "Say what you must," he said. She regarded him with a little wariness, still cautious as she made a step forward.

    “What Sir Gawain said in Glen Elendra. You once served under the Royal Knights, did you not?” She recalled the Duftmon's words that she had overheard from the dirt.

    “Yes. I was a career soldier, enlisted back when I was a teenager. I left their ranks more than a decade ago, though.” He looked back at her again. “Does that concern you?”

    Okatsu weighed this, turning it over, trying to make it fit with everything else she knew and had seen. “I only wish to know why you were not more open about that fact,” she finally said cautiously. “Why I discovered it by overhearing what Sir Gawain said in the heat of battle.” She could hazard a guess at why, of course. It was the sort of thing that would definitely stir mistrust. But then, concealing it only to have it revealed in such a way was only going to be more damaging.

    “I..” Theo sounded hesitant. “I wasn’t trying to hide it, Okatsu, not from you or the other so much.” He shook his head. “Perhaps it was a fool’s hope of mine to keep my past service hidden from the Royal Knights at least for a little while. I should've realized that…”

    “Yes,” Okatsu said, keeping her tone soft. “Our fight is difficult enough without room for mistrust, Theo. And I had to know that no secrets would be spoken to the Royal Knights.” She stepped up, only a step behind the BlackWarGreymon now. “But to be open myself, I do not believe you a spy or saboteur. If I thought so at all, the fury you showed towards Sir Gawain corrected me.” His anger had surprised her at the time. To a degree, it still did. What was Theo's stake in this? Disillusionment with the Knights' recent actions? Steadfast belief in the Tamers and their right to remain in Saga? He hadn't defected recently, though, if he told the truth about when he had left their ranks. She felt that he wasn't lying about that.

    Theo nodded slightly, “My reasons to fight… Are..or were not all that different from yours.” He rubbed his forehead, his clenched fist visibly shaking.

    Okatsu frowned, regarding him with uncertainty. “Not that different? In what sense?” Theo reached into the pouch at his belt and produced something as though in answer. She looked at it, staring in shock at a yellow and grey Digivice. But where Hoshiko's Digivice always glowed, even faintly, this one was as lifeless as a human's corpse. Its light had long since been snuffed out.

    “For a fight I would have fought anyway,” the BlackWarGreymon said, voice full of agony, his eyes betraying his pain. Okatsu took the final step, joining him at the edge of the building. Far below, Digimon passed through the streets.

    “You had a partner?” she whispered at last. “What… what happened?”

    “An accident,” he said hoarsely, “in Analog where I couldn’t be by his side...” He rested his other Dramon Breaker against his chest. “I am one of the Bereaved.”

    Okatsu stared at him for a moment, before her decorum kicked in and she looked back at the sunset-cast sky. “I am sorry, Theo,” she murmured. The Bereaved. Those humans and Digimon who had lost those they loved to the Crusade. It was such a simple term for them, so encompassing of what they were. So many had joined their forlorn ranks, despite the best efforts of James and his like among others. As much as she and Hoshiko might disapprove of the recklessness James Reeve and his partner showed, Okatsu had nothing but respect for the nobility of his cause.

    How could she think otherwise when she shared that cause?

    The BlackWarGreymon next to her tucked the Digivice away, the fading light beginning to cast him and her into shadow. “Okatsu,” he muttered quietly. “Be wary in your next battle.”

    “Wary?” she echoed, struck by the sudden change in subject. “Wary of what?” Was it the Royal Knights? Did he have an insight to offer?

    “When Hoshiko…” he visibly shuddered. “...saw your...state and it’s cause. She displayed an anger towards Samael. Such anger, I did not suspect from her. Human emotions energize us and give us strength. They change us in ways that bring out the best in us, but it can go the other way as well. My current form is proof of that. I was not always a BlackWarGreymon.”

    “Anger, from Hoshiko?” Okatsu said, baffled. A moment of silence hung between them as she considered it. Hoshiko was not given to anger, at least not normally. But these were exceptional circumstances, and Okatsu knew how much she would have been filled with rage were the roles reversed. “I know what you speak of, Theo. Dark evolutions. Thank you for your warning. I will heed it.” She gave a nod to him.

    The BlackWarGreymon stared at the form he had mentioned, looking into the dark plates like he saw something there she didn't. “It’s the least I can do for failing you in Glen Elendra. Your fight ahead will be impossible enough.”

    “You do not need to apologise for that,” Okatsu replied, a harshness entering her voice despite herself. “You could not have predicted Samael’s actions.” She frowned as she caught a significant-seeming choice of words. “‘My’ fight, Theo?”

    “I..” Theo turned away, seemingly almost sheepish. “I can’t protect anyone anymore, not the tamers, their digimon...” he murmured something else that she could not catch even with her sharp ears, “not from the Knights. It’s impossible.”

    Okatsu stared at him. “So many have said,” she answered, almost as a reflex. “And yet you have. We have.” The voices were there in her memory, all who had said it was impossible to protect others from the Royal Knights. To protect everyone, yes. But there were those who could be saved, whose lives could be won through duty, courage and determination. Such was the nature of their fight.

    “It won’t be enough.” Theo bowed his head, his voice full of defeat. “It’ll be a war of attrition. I don’t have that kind of fight left in me. Not for a long time.”

    “Then what will you do?” the Gabumon asked. She let the disappointment fill her voice. “Leave us? Go wait out this war in the belief that you can change nothing?”

    “I...don’t know,” he admitted. “I thought I could take up one more battle, because I should…” He held up his Dramon Breakers so they caught the light, and for the first time it truly occured to Okatsu how battered he was. His armor scratched and chipped from many battles, the edges of the claws jagged where their blades had splintered. “I’m of no use to anyone. I’ve failed too many people I care about.”

    “If that is where you stand, then it is your choice, of course,” Okatsu frowned, reluctant. “But Samael heard Sir Gawain too, Theo. If you leave now, how would that look to our comrades?” She paused. “I do not want them to draw false conclusions about you. Let them judge you based on the truth.”

    “Andrea knows the truth. That is enough for me.” Theo answered. He removed the Dramon Breakers from his hands, sheathing them onto his belt before taking out the dead Digivice again. “Kyle was her brother.”

    “Your partner?” A nod was his only answer.

    She left the silence intact for many moments, watching the setting sun. A thought filled her mind and it turned over and over, for it seemed cold and cruel to her. But Theo's abandonment stung, the betrayal of a duty he had chosen, that he could give in even when he knew better than most the stakes for which they fought. She could not bind her to the Guardians, she knew that. But perhaps he needed to be reminded of that solemn truth, no matter how cruel it seemed to do so like this. “If you wish to leave, Theo, then I cannot stop you. Regardless of the oath you swore and the duty you wish to abandon.” She turned and began to walk away, stopping at the door and looking back with conflicted eyes. She hesitated one last time, internally squirming a little at how cruel it seemed to speak the words she had in mind. But then she gave voice to her thoughts. “But if Kyle could see you in this moment, what would he say to you?”

    And with that, she vanished back into the gloom of the stairs, descending out of the light. For a moment, she regretted the words. She almost looked back to see Theo's reaction, but stopped herself. No. Perhaps it was what he needed to hear. She made her way down the staircase and back into the bar proper, taking in the room. Henry now stood with James and Artanis, Hoshiko at the bar with Serra and Nadia. Frantz talked to Svarog, Aria to Nadia too, Tessa sat alone resting her head on tables covered in books and parchment, and Andrea was standing in the dark next to Samael. The last caught the Gabumon's wary attention and she watched cautiously. The wound in her chest ached as her eyes found the Beelzemon.

    -

    Artanis Dawnflame
    Serra's Tavern

    Artanis answered Henry alongside James, offering his support. But inside, the Agumon debated with Okatsu's specter, trying to find a satisfactory answer to her question. It was like Tassadar had temporarily inhabited the Gabumon to pose one of his riddling queries. Perhaps the Akilae executor and Okatsu's tutors were akin in that respect, he thought wryly.

    "If surviving isn't enough, if only truly defeating the Royal Knights is victory, then does that mean that achieving that victory means more than anything else? Even the lives you so want to save?"

    Artanis frowned. Would he really put victory above the lives of others if it was the only way? He glanced at James. He thought he knew already what his partner would say to that. "Of course not." But did he think the same? The Akilae were warriors above all, and part of being a warrior was accepting sacrifice.

    Tassadar's visage formed in his memory, the WarGreymon old but proud regardless. At his side rose Aldaris, the ShineGreymon's eyes perpetually dark with grim thoughts and the weight of tradition.

    "Fight with honor, Akilae," Tassadar said, gazing over the ranks of initiates solemnly. "No matter how dire the battle, no matter how terrible the day, honor is what defines us. It is what separates us from the likes of the monsters we would slay." He paused, presumably to let his words sink in. "Never forsake it." He slammed a Dramon Breaker-clad fist to his breast, the assembled Greymon and Agumon mimicking the gesture. With a proud nod, the WarGreymon strode away, leaving Aldaris behind.

    The ShineGreymon was silent and solemn until Tassadar had departed the chamber. The room was carved from the rock itself, lit by braziers like most of the rooms in the Akilae's mountain fortress. "But there will come a day where you must choose," he said. "Honor or survival?" He almost seemed to smile. "You have all heard the stories, but reality diverges heavily from such tales. In reality, though we would all wish otherwise, honor and justice do not always prevail. Often, it is the ruthless who triumph. Remember that also if you wish to survive."

    Honor or victory. There was the question. Surely honor, saving lives, was the answer. Such would be Tassadar's answer. But Aldaris was there too, offering his contribution, and Artanis found it difficult to rebut. The world beyond the walls of Korshakal had indeed shown him that honor and justice did not prevail in reality nearly as much as in the sagas.

    Seeking a respite from the question, at least for now, he looked to Henry and awaited the pirate's response.

    -

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Serra's Tavern

    Okatsu came down from the stairs, looking conflicted in a way Hoshiko had never seen before. It seemed like this war was creating a lot of such situations. The woman waited for her partner to come over, but Okatsu stopped, looking to the side, to where Samael lurked in his corner.

    Andrea was there, talking to the Beelzemon.

    Hoshiko stared, stunned and horrified and angered in equal measure. She waited with baited breath to see what would happen.
     
  8. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Svarog Rodsyn (Apollomon) >

    Svarog glowered at the hulking brute stumbling his way to where he sat at the bar. He wanted nothing to do with the oaf. He was in a foul mood after being thrashed into the ground so completely. There was no way around that fact. He had been beaten and humiliated as he had never been before. And every fiber in his being was screaming for another fight. Another chance to reclaim his identity with a show of violent strength as a god.

    But he took a steadying breath. Fighting Stein. Hurting Stein. Humiliating, humbling, and breaking him -- it would do nothing more than make him a fool.

    "Bah. 'Unwind,'" Svarog shook his head and passed Stein the second glass he had taken. "I don't do this to unwind. I do this because I rage. With every fiber of my being I rage. And this just gives me something else to do. Because when you're a god of fire and war, too much unreleased rage can threaten to burn the world to its foundations."

    "Real healthy," Nadia muttered. "What a blowhard." The Lekismon rolled her eyes. Aria and Serra chuckled nearby.

    Svarog just growled and downed the rest of his drink, which only served to frustrate him more. Like hell if he was going to ask them for another...but he couldn't see them ever offering him another or cooperating with a demand.

    "Bolt-brain, since you've got my other drink go get me another, eh," Svarog grunted low.

    ==\=/==

    < Thor Odinson (Imperialdramon: Fighter Mode) >

    Thor watched as Okatsu followed Theo outside but returned alone. He caught the disappointed look on her face and frowned as well. This wasn't the heartening development he was hoping for. Their numbers were spread thin enough as it was.

    "Not good," Thor muttered.

    "What, the dragon?" Svarog glowered back. The war god had been managing a civil-like tone with Stein, even though Thor could practically feel the anger brimming just below the surface of his skin. "Let him leave. We're better off for it."

    "We can't afford to have our numbers just walk away," Thor said firmly. "We could equal their numbers before. Now we're only twelve."

    "I think you're confusing quantity with quality," Svarog growled.

    "And I think you're confusing brute force for quality," Thor shot back. "How well did that serve you?"

    "Not all of us have our father's power to fall back on," Svarog snarled.

    "Says the only full-blooded god ever born," Thor snarled back. The two of them -- god and Eternal -- glowered at each other for another moment before both silently realizing their foolishness and returning to their own separate corners.

    Svarog reached behind the bar to grab another bottle of beer and marched to the other side of the tavern with Stein.

    "Someone needs to get Theo to reign in his meloncholy," Thor muttered under his breath.

    "Big talk from you," Serra quipped with a wicked smirk.

    "And that means...?"

    "Oh, I dunno, Mr. I'm-So-Serious-And-Have-The-World-On-My-Shoulders-Prince-Of-Asgard."

    "Crowned Prince," Thor corrected with a smirk of his own. "Heir to the White Sword, the Dragon Throne, and the Realm Eternal."

    Serra gazed at him heavily for a few long beats. But then broke down laughing. "Does that line ever work?" she asked.

    "You tell me," Thor laughed along with her.

    "Oh, I've served in the Celestial Sphere, Prince -- sorry -- Crowned Prince of Asgard," Serra said with a chuckle and a swig of something strong and clear. "I don't impress easily."

    ==\=/==

    < Samael Cain (Beelzemon) >

    Samael watched Andrea with that same, silent, unblinking look. Irises glowing like hot coals, his third eye's pupil contracting to a pinpoint, until a toothy smirk cut itself slowly across his features. He reached out for her glass and saw everyone in the room tense. Even Svarog cut his chatter and drinking to raise an eyebrow in his direction.

    But Samael simply plucked the glass from Andrea's hand and took a long swallow; all without breaking eye contact. When he was done, he let out a deep sigh and a cloud of blood-red smoke wafted up from between his teeth. The acrid smell of charred food and burning plastic filled the air momentarily before dissipating.

    "You're so nervous, I can see your heartbeat in your skinny throat," Samael drawled. Serra pushed her chair back angrily but Samael's third eye fixed her within its gaze. She held his glare but didn't move any closer. His third eye rolled back on Andrea.

    "Your pupils are pinpricks. You keep swallowing. You're sweating. Your hands keep shaking." He took another drink. "Is this something all humans do when they're scared?" It wasn't really a question. "So what, this just how you get your high? Maybe we have more in common than you'd like to think, eh girl?"
     
  9. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson
    (BlackWarGreymon)
    Serra’s Tavern - Washroom



    “But if Kyle could see you in this moment, what would he say to you?”

    Steam billowed throughout the dimly lit room. Light crept through a gap between the floor and washroom door, along with a solitary light by the sink basin and a cracked mirror. Discarded armor was left piled in a corner. A lonely digivice sat on the sink’s edge, carefully placed on a clean towel. Only the sound of gushing water was heard in the dark room.

    The digivice flickered, as if straining to come to life. An image appeared in the reflection of the steaming droplets, much like a rainbow in the rain with the sun’s rays. A young male, the mirror image of Andrea, leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. Periodically, his appearance distorted before correcting itself as the water vapor particles constantly shifted through the washroom. A sad expression displayed itself upon his face.

    “You’ve never forgiven yourself for what happened to Asher all those years ago.” Not a question.

    The old greymon leaned heavily against the wall in silence, his eyes closed. Scalding hot water sprayed over his head and down his back. His unkempt yellow hair laid plastered against his back, completely soak. Blood, sweat, and grime pooled at his feet, before draining away.

    “No,” Theo echoed with a whisper.

    Kyle sighed, glancing at the neglected state of his partner. “You’ve lost weight.”

    Theo shivered, feeling the ghostly hand brushing his bare back. The elder greymon immediately straightened up and shut off the water. He turned around to approach the water basin. With a damp hand, he wiped the condensation off the cracked mirror’s surface. Kyle stood there in the back corner, visible only through the mirror’s reflection.

    “You know there was nothing you could have done.”

    “I was in charge. Bringing them all home was my responsibility, either back to Camelot or back to their families.” Theo hung his head low over the sink. “I should have double-checked the area again for enemies hiding.”

    “Mistakes happen.”

    “A mistake that cost me my brother and deprived a son the chance of knowing his father.” Theo retorted harshly. The heat in his voice drained away, “What I wouldn’t have given to trade places with him….”


    Kyle’s form faded slightly, becoming more ghostly and his expression unreadable. “Theo, are you saying that us becoming partners was a mistake?”


    “NO! Never!” The BlackWarGreymon exclaimed, jerkly his head up, but his partner was no longer in the mirror. Instead, Theo finally saw himself as he was. His eyes hollow, scales lackluster, and unruly yellow hair draped over his shoulder. The old soldier cringed at his appearance.


    He turned aside, reaching for one of his dramon breakers. Theo felt along one of the better kept blades to where it inserted into the armored gauntlet. Finding the hidden release mechanism, he pressed it, releasing the clawed blade. Carefully holding the single blade, Theo reached behind his head to grab his long unkempt hair, slashing the bulk in a single swipe. The yellow strands laid forgotten at his feet as the greymon continued with more precise cuts for sometime.



    *******


    Andra Mercer & Deneb Odedu

    "Your pupils are pinpricks. You keep swallowing. You're sweating. Your hands keep shaking." He took another drink. "Is this something all humans do when they're scared?" It wasn't really a question. "So what, this just how you get your high? Maybe we have more in common than you'd like to think, eh girl?"

    Breath in. Breath out. Steady now.

    “Trust me, I’m not doing this for the thrill of it. This is strictly business.” Andrea forced herself to maintain eye contact. He already saw the gut-wrenching sick feeling she felt and her fight to ignore it. However, she wasn’t going to pretend that she wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean she was going to let it get to her. “The only thing we have in common is that we both have a job to do, whatever our methods. And I have to know I do can do my job, regardless of what I’m feeling.”

    Breath in. Breath out. The memory of a raging fire leapt at her feet and legs.

    “I’m not looking to get in your way, but I’ll take that risk if the situation calls for it.” These things we do, that others might live. Andrea grabbed the two empty mugs on the table next to Samael.

    A small flash of light appeared behind Andrea, but the young woman didn’t break eye contact with the fallen one. A feathered hand tugged inisistantly on the back of her shirt.

    An unusually serious Deneb spoke up. “Andy, we need to go now.”

    ********

    Tessa Tesla

    The small mage flopped her hooded head her as she slumped forward on the table. Her thoughts wandered aimlessly, her other hand gently fiddling with the small wooden charm that Stein had gifted to her previously. A multiple of feathered pens were busy transcribing on several scrolls and books around her.

    Her father’s tome flapped its pages noisily. Tessa ignored it, choosing to stare off into space. The tome’s hard protective cover slammed against the wooden surface, shaking the whole table. Tessa just glanced up at it annoyed. The young wisemon continued fiddling with the charm. A few minutes later. The strange ghostly figment of her father poked Tessa in the eye.

    “Ow!” Tessa exclaimed, bolting upright as she rubbed her tender eye. She glared unamused at her father’s memory self. “What was that for?”

    Nikolai shook his head. Various digimoji materialized in the air above his hand.

    “Pay attention?” Tessa read the digimoji aloud. “Pay attention to what?”

    Her father pointed over her shoulder to the main bar, where the bartender, Aria, the tavern’s owner sat and Thor stood nearby. She didn’t eavesdropped. No not at all.

    "Oh, I've served in the Celestial Sphere, Prince -- sorry -- Crowned Prince of Asgard," Serra said with a chuckle and a swig of something strong and clear. "I don't impress easily."

    The female wisemon immediately perked up at the magical words. The Celestial Sphere! The BelleStarmon she helped heal was from the Celestial Sphere?!

    Tessa activated one of her portals to immediately pop out of thin air beside BelleStarmon.

    “Sorry! I couldn’t help but overhear, but you’re from Eden? The Celestial Sphere?” Tessa asked bubbly, energized by the topic at hand. “I already know how the dyson sphere principles work, But what is it like to live there? Is it really all sandstone everywhere? I saw you fighting Sir Lamorack, what kind of training do you go through? Was it just combat training? Do angels have to go through special training to become a healer or does it just come naturally? Do all angels sing in a great big choir together?

    Tessa rattled question after question coming to mind, not slowly down for any response. She was too excited. Her hands glowed blued sporadically as she bounced on the balls of her feet. A deep longing crept into Tessa’s questions. For all her life, she was content with the ways of the Wisemon, but now...

    She paused for a breath. “Can a non-angel digimon, like me, enter Eden? I would like to better understand the ways of the Holy Host.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  10. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    + Frantz Stein (Boltmon) +
    Serra's Tavern


    "Bah. 'Unwind,'" Svarog shook his head and passed Stein the second glass he had taken. Stein took it carefully, unsure if this was a part of the custom or not. The digimon back home in the mountains told him to always mind his manners. But what if you didn't know the manners? Stein pondered this conundrum while Svarog talked about fibers and fires and foundations and other things Stein didn't fully grasp. Rage though. Stein understood that.

    The ladies nearby chuckled as Svarog finished speaking. Stein didn't know where the joke was, it all seemed pretty serious to him.

    His drinking buddy growled at the laughter and downed his drink. Was that the sign? Stein did the same, doing his best to drink under the edge of his mask. Immediately, warning signals started bouncing around his logic circuits. But they couldn't agree on what the problem was. Finishing the drink seemed like a good idea though. His logic circuits reluctantly concluded that further sampling was needed and Stein happily downed the entire mug.

    He felt a pleasant but concerning warmth. And his head had a slight... tingling? He didn't have the right word for it.

    "Bolt-brain, since you've got my other drink go get me another, eh," Svarog grunted low.

    Stein nodded eagerly and left, returning a few moments later with a handful of mugs, all full. He sat them down gingerly and slid half of them across the table. "They gave Stein some extras."

    The Boltmon took another long sip of the drink. He was starting to feel strangely bubbly. "Stein doesn't know much about what being a god is like. Or about fibers. There are a lot of things Stein doesn't know. But Stein does know what anger feels like."

    He scratched the side of his head, unsure why he felt like sharing. Maybe it was the bubbly. "Stein doesn't want to hurt anyone. But digimon always seem to want me to. Fighting is what Stein does. Stein doesn't know any other way to be. So when digimon ask Stein to fight, I always say yes. Sometimes there is something to protect. That's when it feels good to fight. But sometimes, Stein doesn't care about protecting. Sometimes, all Stein wants is to find the bad guy and crush him into data bits."

    The glass in the Boltmon's hand cracked. He had been squeezing it without noticing. The mostly empty glass was set aside gently. "Stein was born to fight things. Stein doesn't know what to do when there is nothing to fight. But I am unsure. If Stein keeps fighting, Stein will never stop wanting to break things. Or digimon."

    -+-+-+-


    < Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon) >
    Serra's Tavern

    "I'm glad to help," he said. "I'm used to leading Tamers." James answered.

    Splendid. That was a massive load off of Henry's back. It would take enough work to get the digimon part of this crew on target. Humans? That was out of his depth.

    "Just let us know what you need," he said to Henry. "And we'll do everything we can to back you up."

    The pirate grinned. "Aye lads, that's what I like to hear." He placed a hand on both of their shoulders. "I'd do this proper but I don't exactly have any grog nor dice and there's nary an honest doubloon around here, much less eight. Another time perhaps, but for now welcome aboard mateys."

    It felt strangely satisfying to have a crew again. Like a puzzle piece clicking back into place.

    Henry stood back upright and nodded, mostly to himself. before looking around the room. Theo was gone, but he had expected that. That old buzzard would only be worth something if he could pull up his britches and commit. Until then, he was a liability. And in his profession, liabilities tended to take a long walk down a wooden plank.

    Granted, Samael was also something of a liability, but something told Henry that trying to make the demon walk the plank would be far more trouble than it was worth. If you had a man who liked his drinks strong and his knives bloody, best to keep him hydrated and pointed at someone else.

    "First order of business then." Henry said. "Let the others know what's going on. Get them on board. Work out a chain of command. You can let me know latter how that all plays out. But for now, I need you all on the same page. Someone disagrees? Send them my way. Or send me theirs, doesn't matter. Better if you can handle it all yourselves. I trust you lads."

    "And then? Cut loose. Relax. Eat, drink, and be merry. Tonight, we enjoy a peaceful moment. Don't know how many more of those we can get. Tomorrow, we can get serious."

    Parting ways with the tamer pair, Henry pondered his thoughts. Morale was the killer here. Tonight needed to be a party. Not necessarily loud and chaotic, but something good. He could feel it in the air. Everyone he was frayed and worn to edges. One more loss in this state and the team might fracture for good. He pulled out his old coin purse, feeling the weight of the gold. They weren't doubloons, but they were still good currency. He had a plan, but it might get expensive. Good thing he always kept a stash on hand.
     
  11. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Samael Cain (Beelzemon) >

    "You should listen to yer bird, girly," Samael said to Andrea with a wicked grin. "Don't know when I might just...snap!" he snapped his fingers suddenly to emphasize his point. "What're you even tryin' to do here? Prove you're not scared?" He clicked his teeth. "Listen, flesh-sack, no one cares."

    “You asked why.” Andrea pointed out, managing a resemblance of casual shrug. “But I won't bore further with my reasons. I got what I wanted.” The two mugs clinked in her grip.

    “Andy...” Deneb tugged more urgently on her shirt, slowly pulling her back a step.

    "Run along, birdie," Samael sneered. "You're smarter than your human, at least. She keeps this up and you'll need to find a new pet.

    "Yes, yes, we'll be on our way now." Deneb said hurriedly, pushing his tamer with greater persistence back to the bar.

    It was always so easy to ruffle feathers like that. Everyone was so jumpy when the threat of dying hung over them. It almost took all the fun out of it. Their whole little band of merry soldiers was such a farce. A god who wouldn't shut his yap. A dragon prince from who-cares-where. F*ckin' Michael. Couple 'a dumb humans and their idiot partners -- who couldn't even hold the Champion level on their own. That green mountain of an oaf. Flower-power. Bookworm. The crying dragon. Even Samael's own blonde bimbo doppleganger. And a pirate…

    Who was making his way over to Samael's table. And sitting down.

    What kind of idiot does that? Samael found himself thinking. Did everyone here have a deathwish? Or just get off on the idea of someone wanting to kill them? It would explain the humans well enough, now that he thought of it that way.

    Pirate man sat a large, open bottle of something strong on the table along with a pair of full shot glasses.

    I'm not here to chat your ears off." Henry said, taking a seat. He motioned to the glasses. "Best way to get to know a man is by drinking him under the table, if you're savvy."

    Savvy, huh? Hell was it with pirates and this forced way'a talkin'?

    There was a flicker of red in Samael's eyes. A flash of murderous intent as he and the hollow space inside weighed how much he wanted to kill the Digimon sitting across from him. Just a flicker. Just like always. Then Samael reached across the table and took the bottle.

    "Shoulda' brought enough for us both then," Samael said with a grin. All razor-toothed mirth. "Just sayin. Woulda' been the polite thing t'do."

    Henry grinned back. “That’s what I like to hear!” He motioned for Nadia to bring more bottles, then downed both shot glasses in rapid succession.

    For now, the pirate seemed content to let the alcohol flow without much interruption, and Samael was perfectly content to just ignore him and go about getting blackout drunk. Eventually, however, just like all the other little killables, he spoke up.

    “I am a man well versed in drinking.” he said with hardly more slur than usual, “But I get the feeling you could out drink a Whamon.”

    "Pirates and sea puns. Got it," Samael grumbled. "Spend more time killing and a little less with the puns and the scallywag-talk and you pirates might just end up respectable." He downed the rest of the bottle, then leaned forward on one elbow and pointed a free finger accusingly at the pirate. "You give honest killers like me a bad rap."

    ==\=/==

    < Serra Castiel (BelleStarmon) >

    "Aw, you're adorable," Serra chided as Tessa finished her babbling. "But let me stop you there so you dont get too many wild ideas. They don't teach you jack in Heaven. And if you don't belong there they sure as **** don't let you in. Best just put it out of your mind."

    Tessa startled at the reproached, but shook her head undeterred. “I can't do that.”

    "That's unfortunate," Serra sighed, and ran a hand through her hair. It was matted and clumped with blood and dirt. She needed a shower. Badly. Hell, everyone here did. They were really starting to stink. "Why do you want to know? This for some Wisemon knowledge quest...thing?"

    “Of course, every day is a journey to learn something new,” Tessa perked up with a smile. “Though my questions aren't without application to our current situation.”

    “You see, I inherited my mother's healing aura,” Tessa said, demonstrating the blue glow on one hand. “However, the process is very slow and difficult for me. I passed out after sealing up your wounds during the battle.”

    Tessa launched into some long-winded tirade about healing and theories and all sorts of nonsense that someone who had never interacted with Paradise would go on about. It'd been a while since she'd let her guard down like that to anyone, and Serra was kicking herself for mentioning that to Thor. He'd eyed here differently for a split second. A look of puzzled judgment flashing across his features. Part of Serra was thankful for Tessa's relentless intrusion. Maybe she could pretend she'd never said that.

    If not...oh well. She'd been having some fun. But there was plenty of fun to be had.

    “Even a different perspective of that way of life is useful to me,” Tessa said. And Serra only half-heard what she'd said before that.

    "Here's some different perspective for you," Serra said. "Don't go down that road. Doesn't matter who your mother is. Doesn't matter what she did or didn't do for you. You don't owe her anything. And some doors are better left closed.

    "There's a reason angels fall and never rise up again."

    "I'll drink to that." Aria said, agreeing with Serra's advice, and Serra couldn't help but nod sagely. At least someone here appreciated her. "Family can be more fickle than you'd think.

    "Yes, yes, we'll be on our way now." Deneb said hurriedly, pushing his tamer with greater persistence back to the bar and away from Samael.

    "That was crazy-stupid, kid," Serra said to Andrea. "Samael coulda' gut you like a Swimmon before anyone could stop him. And for what, empty bottles? That's why I have Nadia. I hope you don't think you've got a job because of that little stunt."

    "I gotta hand it to you though," Aria said to Andrea. "Facing your fears like that takes some serious guts. Just try to keep them on the inside, will you? Reckless bravado only works until it doesn't."

    “As it it would matter anyway, if the Royal Knights get their way,” Andrea shot back at Serra. She stared down at the wooden bar, before immediately standing up from her stool. The stool screeched loudly. “I'm going out.”

    “Andy!” Deneb called, as she exited the tavern door. He faced the three ladies, bowing apolgictically at the waist, "I'm sorry, she's not always this stubborn or...unnecessarily reckless. Okay that's not quite true...excuse me!"

    The Hawkmon started after her, but paused to look forlornly at his untouched bottle back at the counter. Deneb sighed and followed his tamer out.

    "Be a lot faster and less painful though," Serra mumbled as Andrea stormed off. She downed her drink as Tessa warbled on:

    'Not all it's cracked up to be',” Tessa jotted in her notes, paying no heed to the departing pair. “Do you mind elaborating on the 'how or why angels fall' part?”

    "I sure do," Serra said.

    ==\=/==

    < Svarog Rodsyn (Apollomon) >

    "Anger is not rage. Anger is different," Svarog said. He found it easy to talk to this hulking brute. Maybe teach him something worthwhile instead of transient things like right and wrong, that changed with whoever was in power.

    "Anger comes from here." He pointed to Stein's jawline. "Maybe here." He pointed to Stein's neck. "Rage...Rage comes from here." He pointed to the center of Stein's chest and grasped his own.

    "Anger is sated. It's temporary. You're angry with a thing That gives it power over you. Not rage. You rage against something. Your rage is your power. It's more than anger. It's more than justice. It's more than vengeance. More than honor. Anger makes a killer. Justice makes a lawman. Vengeance makes an executioner. Honor makes a...whatever Thor thinks he is, I'm sure. All nice things. But small and fleeting.

    "Rage makes a warrior. Rage is the purest thing there ever was or will be in this world. Because your rage doesn't care about good or bad. About hurting or protecting. Rage is freedom. And you are never as free as you are when your rage grabs you by the heart and drives you into the thing that stands against you."

    Stein seemed to contemplate this for a few moments. "Stein was born to fight things. Stein doesn't know what to do when there is nothing to fight. But I am unsure. If Stein keeps fighting, Stein will never stop wanting to break things. Or digimon."

    "Well...you'll die," Svarog said. "As all things do. And when you die everything about you will be forgotten. Your anger. Your justice. Your vengeance. Your honor. It all fades. In time." It was the simplest truth Svarog had ever known. It was also the first truth of the world he remembered learning. All those years ago.

    It was the first, but not the greatest truth.

    "But when you're gone. When all light has gone out in the universe. Your rage will echo through eternity."
     
  12. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Deneb Odedu
    Hawkmon
    Serra's Tavern



    He hadn't realized what his tamer was up to initially. The Poromon had been starving and salivating at the plate of food in front of him. The sudden rise in tension finally clued him to the dark corner where Andrea stood by Samael. Deneb had moved and returned to his rookie form without thinking. His tamer was in danger.

    Deneb clung to his tamer's shirt, fit to be tied, and ready to haul her over his shoulder if he could. He hadn't hesitated to abandon the warm food and drink back at the bar, but the items were a distance thought with Andrea trying or not trying to get herself into trouble.

    "You should listen to yer bird, girly," Samael said to Andrea with a wicked grin. "Don't know when I might just...snap!" he snapped his fingers suddenly to emphasize his point. "What're you even tryin' to do here? Prove you're not scared?" He clicked his teeth. "Listen, flesh-sack, no one cares."

    “You asked why.” Andrea pointed out, managing a resemblance of casual shrug. “But I won't bore you any further with my reasons. I got what I wanted.” The two mugs clinked in her grip.

    “Andy...” Deneb tugged more urgently on her shirt. Andrea, finally, broke eye contact with Samael, when Deneb got her to start moving backwards. The easy-going Hawkmon wasn't taking no for an answer anymore.

    "Run along, birdie," Samael sneered. "You're smarter than your human, at least. She keeps this up and you'll need to find a new pet."

    “I won't let that happen,” Deneb muttered under his breath, steering Andrea around and the pair retreating back to the bar with the others.

    “That was crazy stupid, kid," Serra said to Andrea. "Samael coulda' gut you like a Swimmon before anyone could stop him. And for what, empty bottles? That's why I have Nadia. I hope you don't think you've got a job because of that little stunt."

    "I gotta hand it to you though," Aria said to Andrea. "Facing your fears like that takes some serious guts. Just try to keep them on the inside, will you? Reckless bravado only works until it doesn't."

    “As it it would matter anyway, if the Royal Knights get their way,” Andrea shot back at Serra, taking a seat. She stared the empty bottles, rubbing a hand to her forehead. Deneb still kept a tight grip to the young woman's shirt, refusing to let go of her.

    “Yes, I would much prefer that as well, my dear,” Deneb exasperated, very much in agreement with Aria.

    The brown-headed tamer stared down at the wooden bar, before immediately standing up from her stool. The stool screeched loudly. “I'm going out.”

    “Andy!” Deneb called, as she exited the tavern door. He faced the three ladies, bowing apologetically at the waist, "I'm sorry, she's not always this stubborn or...unnecessarily reckless. Okay, well, that's not quite true...excuse me!"

    The Hawkmon started after her, but paused to look forlornly at his untouched bottle back at the counter. Deneb sighed and chased after his tamer.

    {}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}

    “Andy, wait up!” Deneb shouted into the dark empty streets, flapping hard to catch up to his stubborn tamer. The young woman slowed down, allowing the Hawkmon to land beside her. Deneb hunched over his knees, breathing hard. Andrea waited without a word, until the bird man recovered.

    They walked together in awkward silence. Deneb didn't know where to start, his brain going over the events of the last 24 hours. A hard frown crossed his beak. The female tamer spoke first, “You're mad.”

    “Of course, I am,” Deneb said sternly. His usual merry tone absent. “That was completely and utterly unnecessary. My dear, I accepted a long time ago that you would always risks, no matter what I said, but it was always for a purpose. And that was not one of them. ”

    “Sorry.” Andrea offered softly, hugging her arms to her chest.

    Deneb sighed. He could never stay mad at her for long. The bird man reached up to gently place a feathered hand over where the healing burns laid hidden under her jacket. Andrea flinched slightly from the light contact. “Andy...I know what happened.” Andrea's eyes widen in shock. “I saw it in your recent memories, when we biomerged.”

    “We weren't supposed to be that close,” Andrea explained, finally opening up, “but the weather shifted suddenly and changed the direction of the wildfire. Our crew nearly didn't make it out. I'd never been been so terrified before that.”

    Deneb nodded encouragingly, while his heart withered at the thought of nearly losing his partner without him there. He managed to keep his feathered hands to a slight tremor as he took Andrea's hands into his own. Andrea still wasn't getting to the root of the problem, but Deneb didn't mind doing the talking for her.

    “My dear, you've got nothing to prove me, to the others, and most importantly to yourself. I know your courage and heart inside and out. It won't fail you. So, please, don't push yourself so hard in worrying about it. And promise me...that you'll be a bit more careful and not jump so far into danger that I can't catch up you at least.”

    Deneb stressed this last part with a firm grip. Andrea blushed sheepishly. The young woman pulled Deneb close in a tight embrace. “Deneb?” She asked him. “Did we really biomerge? It felt so strange.”

    The Hawkmon thought back, perplexed. “You're right. I felt your heart and mind alongside myself in the air, but at the same time, I was constantly aware of you standing in the trees beneath me.”

    “Then Sir Tristan blindsided us and took us down with pretty much two hits” Andrea recalled.

    Deneb blanched, “Don't remind me.”

    “We'll just have to do better next time.”

    “Together,” Deneb affirmed with a nod. His stomach then decided to rumble loudly.

    Andrea muffled a short laugh, “Go back to the bar and eat, Deneb. You've earned it.”

    The Hawkmon scratched the back of his feathered head, embarrassed. “Are you sure-”

    “Yes, yes,” Andrea waved him off. “I need to clear my head for a bit yet. I might see if I can find Sal and the rest of the guild before the evening gets too late.”

    Andrea wandering alone through Axis Mundi twisted Deneb's stomach worse, but he hadn't eaten anything since before devolving from Ceresmon. Evolving back to rookie form had been an act of desperation.

    “Alright, then I shall see you later tonight, my dear.”

    {}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}

    "Aw, you're adorable," Serra chided as Tessa finished her babbling. "But let me stop you there so you don't get too many wild ideas. They don't teach you jack in Heaven. And if you don't belong there they sure as **** don't let you in. Best just put it out of your mind."

    Tessa startled at the reproached, but shook her head undeterred. “I can't do that.”

    "That's unfortunate," Serra sighed. "Why do you want to know? This for some Wisemon knowledge quest...thing?"

    “Of course, every day is a journey to learn something new,” Tessa perked up with a smile. “Though my questions aren't without application to our current situation.”

    “You see, I inherited my mother's healing aura,” Tessa said, demonstrating the blue glow on one hand. “However, the process is very slow and difficult for me. I had passed out after sealing up your wounds during the battle.”

    “Certain songs from Paradise Eden help with my concentration, but it is still tedious,” the small mage sighed. “Perhaps angelic abilities were never intended to be used by a demon man type digimon like myself.” The Wisemon shook off the doubt as quickly as it came. “However, I also have a theory. I am a Wisemon and thus I think as one. Perhaps, I need retrain my mind to think as an angel does. To do that, I need to know what daily living at Eden is like, it's culture, common motives or desires...anything really.”

    “Even a different perspective of that way of life is useful to me.”

    "Here's some different perspective for you," Serra said. "Don't go down that road. Doesn't matter who your mother is. Doesn't matter what she did or didn't do for you. You don't owe her anything. And some doors are better left closed.”

    "There's a reason angels fall and never rise up again."

    Well, not quite what she was expecting. Tessa had only mentioned her mother by way of explanation for the healing aura. Seems like a lot she still didn't know. Perhaps, she should doubt check her father's tome for more playback memories from her childhood for any ideas. Her thoughts turned down an another tangent in curiosity.

    An angel falling and never rising again...Could a demon rise and never fall again?

    Surely if it worked one way, it could go the other. Tessa chuckled to herself. That might be blasphemy reasoning to someone in Saga.

    The young mage absently noted the arrive of Andrea and Deneb, but didn't pay too much more attention to their presence and ongoing conversation. Samael, Serra, and Lord Michael. For what should be a clear cut distinction between demons and angels, Serra was a clear example of an vague gray area. Tessa noted she herself probably fitted somewhere on that spectrum.

    She wonder if Lord Michael would be a more forth coming on how angels discipline their minds or such, if she mentioned it was for the trying to increase her healing capacity to help the mission. Which really is the main reason she was pursueing this topic. Tessa just tended to get side tracked in her questioning easily.

    “'Not all it's cracked up to be'.” Tessa jotted in her notes, as Andrea and Deneb departed in a hurry. “Do you mind elaborating on the 'how or why angels fall' part?”

    Serra mumbled something being 'faster and a lot less painful. "I sure do." Serra said.

    Whelp, that might be all the direct (or not) answers she'll get. Might need to fall back to strictly observation status for now.

    Aria laughed. By this point, she was well into her fifth glass and her face was starting to flush. "Give it up girl."

    She patted the seat next to her at the bar. "Why don't you chill for a bit. Take a seat, grab a drink, and we can ask fun questions instead of all this serious stuff."

    Tessa considered bottles and plates of food littered about. Perhaps, bonding activities were the approach to go with for now. Besides, Tessa never had anyone to 'chill' with before now. Might be a fun experience. She nodded eagerly at Aria's suggestion.

    Aria draped an arm around Tessa’s shoulder and slowly turned her until they were both looking at Stein and Svarog’s table. “Like what exactly you see in that big lug.”

    The young Wisemon watched Stein for a long moment, distracted from her original task. She cupped her chin in one hand, oddly content. Tessa gave a short giggle, “He's like me. Always asking questions. Always marveling at the smallest thing. He just thinks differently, that's all. Stein is Stein.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  13. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    + Frantz Stein (Boltmon) +
    Serra's Tavern


    Stein tried to follow along, and to his surprise he did so pretty easily. Small words and gestures were more his speed. It seemed like everyone else liked to use big words and long sentences. Stein often got lost. But this was something even he could understand, albeit on some primal level.

    “Rage is… Freedom?” he said, looking down at his chest. “Stein knows the warm red feeling that comes from here.” he hit his chest with his balled fist. “But I always fight it. It wants Stein to be strong. Stronger than mountains. Stronger than pain. But… The red also freed Stein from the dark place.”

    An oddly distant look came over the Boltmon as Svarog continued. When he finished, Stein nodded solemnly and hit his chest again. “Stein likes the sound of that. Stein does not have a home or a family. No one will miss Stein when I am gone. Fighting is all Stein is good at. But Stein now understands not to be afraid of rage. Instead, I will embrace it!”

    In his excitement, the Boltmon downed an entire glass in one gulp and burped loudly. “Thank you for teaching Stein about rage.”

    Svarog certainly seemed wise. Stein's logic circuits matched wise and god, got back conflicting results, and logged the results as inconclusive. That bothered the Boltmon, but he didn't know why. He felt like he wanted to trust Svarog, if only so that he he had someone, anyone, who could give him a path to follow. His logic circuits flared up again, warning against something they called "hero worship", but Stein didn't know what that was. He decided that it didn't scare him.

    “Did someone teach you about rage too?” he asked with genuine curiosity.

    -+-+-+-



    ~ Aria Morningsong (Lilamon) ~
    Serra's Tavern

    Aria was starting to get carried away with her drinking, but that didn't bother her anymore. It might have two or three drinks ago. But not anymore. She needed a release. Too much chaos and pain lately.

    Even as she sat there, one arm around the little Wisemon, she used her other arm to motion for a sixth refill. Her record was eleven full glasses. But tonight felt like a twelve drink kind of night.

    Tessa cupped her chin in one hand, a surprisingly girlish gesture from the bookworm, and giggled. Aria started laughing to herself as well. She didn't even need an answer now. With that kind of reaction, she was sure of it. The little Wisemon had a crush.

    “He's like me." Tessa finally said. "Always asking questions. Always marveling at the smallest thing. He just thinks differently, that's all. Stein is Stein.”

    "So you want to study him, do you?" Aria remarked, oblivious to the fact that her words were starting to slur. She poked Tessa in the arm and sighed. "Brains and brawn indeed."

    Aria chuckled to herself and went back to her drink for a moment, drank half of it, motioned for another refill at which point Nadia just dropped off the bottle, and then turned back to Tessa. "I'm here to help." she said. "I am a flowermon after all. Romance is in my veins. You need anything, advice, perfume, a rock to knock some sense into that dunce, you let me know."

    She nodded to herself, as though she had just accomplished something. Then Aria turned to Serra. "Same goes for you." she said. "I owe you for all these drinks."

    While she was working on drink number seven, Deneb came back into the room, made his way to the bar, and ordered a drink. Aria studied the little Hawkmon for a moment while he downed a drink oddly quickly. Aria had taken him to be more of a prude than that. Maybe he could actually have a good time.

    "Hey you." Aria said, getting Deneb's attention. The Lilamon propped her elbow up on the table. "Show me what you got. You and me, arm wrestle. Let's go."

    -+-+-+-


    < Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon) >
    Serra's Tavern


    "Pirates and sea puns. Got it," Samael grumbled.

    Henry just nodded. Everyone said that at first. But he talked like a man of the sea precisely because he was a man of the sea. He wasn't going to change just because people found it tiresome.

    "Spend more time killing and a little less with the puns and the scallywag-talk and you pirates might just end up respectable." He downed the rest of the bottle, then leaned forward on one elbow and pointed a free finger accusingly at the pirate. "You give honest killers like me a bad rap."

    "Ha!" Henry tipped his hat. "I'm a pirate. We give everyone a bad rap, including ourselves."

    That much was true. Pirates flaunted the law, and made the enforcers look weak. They pillaged from the rich and made them look like cowards. But most of all, they could out party absolutely anyone. And no one seemed to appreciate a group of pillaging drunkards sailing into town and raising the rabble. But by the stars was it a life. Henry was starting to miss the open sea, and this little chat with Samael was taking him back. This was not the first time he'd shared drinks with a demon who wouldn't think too hard about killing him.

    "But I can respect an honest man, even if he is a killer." Henry said after taking another long swig from his own bottle. "You always know where you stand with an honest man."
     
  14. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve
    Serra's Tavern

    "First order of business then." Henry said. "Let the others know what's going on. Get them on board. Work out a chain of command. You can let me know latter how that all plays out. But for now, I need you all on the same page. Someone disagrees? Send them my way. Or send me theirs, doesn't matter. Better if you can handle it all yourselves. I trust you lads."

    "And then? Cut loose. Relax. Eat, drink, and be merry. Tonight, we enjoy a peaceful moment. Don't know how many more of those we can get. Tomorrow, we can get serious."

    James nodded. "I'll sort things out." His eyes wandered, finding Hoshiko near the bar with Okatsu and Andrea with Deneb just walking out the door. Hoshiko looked to be going to follow. "I'll let you know once we've figured it out. Thanks, Henry." With a nod to the pirate, he turned to Artanis. "We should catch up."

    The Agumon looked up from his heavy thoughts. "Indeed we should." He still seemed distracted though, as though wrestling with the weight of Okatsu's question. James considered asking about it, but filed it away. They could save her riddle for later. For now, they had something to do.

    The two walked to the door, leaving just a moment after Hoshiko and Okatsu had passed.

    -

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Axis Mundi Street

    Andrea had left.

    Hoshiko had already considered leaving, wanting desperately to see how the guild was and if anyone else had come home. The tavern wasn't her sort of place to begin with, she had never had much love for alcohol or rowdy crowds. Only Okatsu had kept her lingering, followed by the tension of Andrea talking to Samael. The demon lurked in his dark corner, still tugging at her like a cold magnet, but her gaze was fixed in the opposite direction now. But Andrea had gone with Deneb in tow, and Hoshiko had excused herself to the others as best she could and now followed.

    The streets were growing cold now, night fully spreading its cloak across the sky as they stepped out into the silence. Only the wind whistled to them. She wondered who might have come home to the guild. Adrian? Camille? Maybe even Marcel? Okatsu's paw touched Hoshiko's hand and she looked down at her partner.

    "All will be well," the Gabumon said softly, her voice disturbed by the sound of the tavern door opening behind them. Hoshiko glanced back to see James and Artanis emerging, the former with a distinct look of purpose, the latter seeming more deep in thought. James's eyes fell on her and he gave a smile. Like always, she thought.

    "Did you see where Andrea went?" he asked.

    "That way," she said with a point, having caught a glimpse and heard Andrea and Deneb's voices receding into the dark. "Why?" She remembered Henry talking to James and wondered if that was why.

    "Henry asked me to help him lead us Tamers," James answered, so naturally. Like it was obvious that it was him. James Reeve, Tamer legend. "I wanted to let you both know and sort out how we're going to do this so he knows where we are."

    She nodded. It made sense. "Andrea and Deneb looked like they were heading off somewhere. If we hurry I think we can catch up."

    "Then let's go," James said, his voice as warm as ever. Did he ever let his spirits fall? He always seemed so bright and energetic. The four of them set off, heading briskly into the dark.

    "Did you see Andrea talking to him?" The question came from her mouth unbidden. She felt Okatsu tense at her side.

    "Samael?"

    "Yes," Hoshiko answered.

    James nodded. "I did." So nonchalant. She couldn't tell what he thought.

    "Are you concerned for her safety?" Artanis asked from James's other side. She frowned a little. Of course she was. She remembered Samael's sword an inch from her face in the temple an eternity ago. And that wound still visible in Okatsu's back and chest.

    "He's just..."

    James gave another nod. "I know. Dangerous, right?" But he didn't know it like she did. He hadn't had that black edge an inch from carving into skin. He hadn't felt the pain of a blade punched through her chest. "He is dangerous, and unpredictable, but we need all the help we can get, Hoshiko." And here came the speech. "If we're going to win, we genuinely do."

    She remembered Okatsu's pain tearing through her heart. "And what if he's why we lose?" Okatsu's paw brushed on her hand.

    "He won't be," James replied. "His reasons aren't the same as ours." Nor were the reasons of most of the Guardians, she thought. "But he wants to fight the Royal Knights. It's not ideal, maybe, but you know what they say. The enemy of my enemy and all."

    "James is right," Okatsu spoke up. "As much as we do not trust Samael, we cannot force more allies away. Especially not with Theo leaving our company." Her voice sounded level, but Hoshiko could sense the disappointment lurking beneath. Her fingertips brushed Okatsu's fur. They rounded a corner and there were Andrea and Deneb ahead. The two seemed to be wrapping up their conversation.

    James stepped forward. "Andrea, Deneb," he called to them. "Can we talk?"
     
  15. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Svarog Rodsyn (Apollomon) >

    “Did someone teach you about rage too?” Stein asked.

    Svarog muttered under his breath. Too many questions. Too much talking. "Yes...No," Svarog answered after a few tense moments of silence. "He just told me to rage. I had to learn what that was on my own. Just as you do. What rage is and how it feels are very different. You'll know one day. Maybe even soon. But no one can teach that. I wasted many years thinking rage and anger and violence were the same."

    "Rage, anger, violence..." Stein said, counting each one off with his fingers. "Stein does not understand, but I will do my best."

    "You don't need to 'understand' rage," Svarog said, shaking his head sagely. "It will find you." And then maybe also help you figure out if you speak in the third person consistently or not.

    The Boltmon nodded along. And then he was quiet for a moment, head down, thinking. Finally, he asked, "But what are the drinks for?"

    Did he ever stop with the questions? Not everything needed a purpose. Some things just were.

    "I told you," Svarog grumbled. "It's just something more to do so my rage doesn't burn the world to the ground. It's a distraction. White noise."

    Stein nodded sagely. "So you fight, and rage, and sometimes drink when there is nothing to rage against." He paused to consider this, studying his drink for a moment.

    He went on again. Something about peace and quiet and things that were decidedly less-than rage. Svarog wondered if he'd read the Boltmon wrong. Maybe they were less alike than he thought.

    Stein paused for a moment, taking a slow sip of his drink. "Stein thinks being a god must be lonely."

    Svarog said nothing. It had been a long time since he'd even entertained that sort of thought. Immortality had its uses; he was never short on wars or battles to fight in. He never worried about getting sick or too injured. But lonely -- the gods of the High Council may have been insulated and above such things, but Svarog had felt that void for a long time. Inevitably everyone around him died.

    "No. Not really," he said. Rather unconvincingly.

    ==\=/==

    < Serra Castiel (BelleStarmon) >

    "Wow. Someone's having a fun night," Serra said as Aria slurred more and more of her words together...and then challenged Deneb to an arm wrestling contest. "Let's switch her to the good stuff Nadia." Their code for cutting someone off and giving them bubbly water instead. "You'll pay me back, I'm sure."

    There was a whole lot of commotion from Aria and Deneb. Arm wrestling. And then Aria stumbled into the back and towards the stairs.

    "The hell is up with everyone going upstairs!?" Serra groaned. Seriously. First the dragon, then the Gabumon, and now Aria? "Employees only! And barely that! Seriously. Do you all just waltz into random houses and rooms like it's your job?!"

    “That's what happens when you bring strays home, Serra, darlin'.” Nadia commented, returning to the bar with a tray full of bottles. “To be honest, I kinda like the idea of a full house.” More quietly, Serra caught her muttering towards Svarog and Samael, “but preferably ones that are housebroken, and not breaking it.”

    "Don't you 'darlin' me, Nadia," Serra wheeled around. "I gave you one job: find a great new name for my bar. It's still got the same name as when that oaf of a Tyrannomon sold it to me."

    “You can't rush a good name, hon, besides I don't have a steady ladder yet in this joint to reach that high.” Nadia replied, mixing a sweeter cocktail for an eager Deneb. “But I got a few ideas if you're in the mood to hear them. I'm sure Lord Thor wouldn't mind giving me a hand in the morning before ya'll go scampering off. He's about the right height to put up the new sign.” Nadia gives Thor a charming smile. “That's if ya don't mind I mean.”

    Thor sputtered and almost dropped his drink.

    "Dignified," Serra chuckled under her breath. Until something dawned on her.

    "You'd ask the crown prince of Asgard to hang a sign? That's...rather--"

    "Are you telling me you had a sign made this whole time and just didn't hang it?" Serra demanded.

    “Hon, you're in lower Axis Mundi were the lower to middle class dwell. If you were really on a posh high horse about that, you wouldn't dare to let yourself be seen with commoners like us.” Nadia said, unconcerned with Serra's growing ire. “Besides a little hard work never hurt anyone. Now if you think that task's too difficult for ya, I'm sure that sweet bird there will be willing to give me a hand.” Nadia pointed a thumb towards Deneb.
    "Or maybe hop your @ss up there, cottontail," Serra quipped. "Use those bunny feet for something, since they haven't given me much good luck."

    “A blank signboard is ready to be painted in the back storage room. I already said I didn't have a ladder to put it up.” Nadia finally said to Serra, grabbing a few of Aria's empty bottles. “Besides, it's bad luck to call a tavern by another name, while the other sign is still up. Now, that hotshot over there burned the old one to cinders, we can finish that business. So which do you prefer the Drunken Shot Tavern or the Golden Flask Pub?”

    "Put a sign up like that and I'll find a new bar manager," Serra warned her. "Do I look like a 'rustic, hand-painted sign' kinda girl?" She crossed her arms and glared playfully at the Lekismon. No matter how badly Nadia misread her (either intentionally or not) Serra couldn't ever really get mad. She could get mad at everyone else, but Nadia...Nadia was alright.

    "Neon and chrome," Serra said. "Just like the renovations."

    ==\=/==

    < Samael Cain (Beelzemon) >

    Despite his casual disdain for anyone not-exactly-as proficient at killing as himself (so...everyone), Samael found he didn't mind the pirate all that much. He was still a pirate, so not even a respectable sort of monster, but he was at least better than some of the other goody two-shoes. And he was transparently buttering Samael up like a piece of bread, but Samael could at least appreciate the effort.

    "Well, sh*t, that's because I'm the only honest one in this joint," Samael said with a wild grin. "Everyone else here's been lyin' to ya since the moment you met them. Hell. Probably lyin' to themselves, too."

    Henry took a moment to look around the room. "I think you're right." he said, "Yet here we are anyway. There's a lot of talk going around, but talk is cheap. And if half the folks in this room don't even know who they are themselves, how can I take their word on another?" He took another sip of his bottle. "Michael seems to vouch for you though."

    Samael choked down a laugh and wiped his chin. 'Vouch'? Really?" he took another drink. "And you trust him on that? Sh*t. Mikey lies to himself more than anyone here. And he doesn't exactly have the best track record with monsters like me, does he?"

    That was true enough. Michael had the whole world fooled. "Hand of God" they called him. But Samael knew the truth. What those other angels fooled themselves into thinking; what they forced themselves to believe -- Samael didn't buy it.

    "Trust?" Henry laughed dryly. "I don't trust. Last time I did that It cost me a ship. Just wondering why he'd go through the trouble is all. You say you're a monster. An honest killer." He took a swig and sat the emptied bottle down. "I say, good. Because the way things are looking it might take someone like you to get this done."

    Well that was mildly heartwarming. Either that or Samael figured he still had some internal bleeding going on.

    "Mikey doesn't have the best…judgment when it comes to things like me," Samael sneered. "And there's a big difference between 'vouching' for me and doin' what he's told and lettin' me do what I do best."

    "That's the thing." Henry said, and he seemed to be struggling with something. Probably some weird pirate speak thing. "Michael handed me the leadership position of our little operation, for better or worse. And I'm trying to tell you I've got no problem with you doing what you do best." Henry rested an elbow on the table, leaning forward slightly. "But that's neither here nor there is it? Plenty of ways to go about killing, if that's all you're after. Why put up with all of this?" he gave a general motion with his hand to the surrounding room and its occupants.

    "Ya got knights killing digimon and attacking Tamers," Samael said with a shrug. "It's got the big-wigs all out of sorts, since picking Tamers and assigning partners is their wheelhouse. So way I figure it, I kill them some Royal Knights -- or cripple, or "arrest", whatever," he touched his nose knowingly, "and save their whole destined Tamer nonsense, then they've got no choice but to bump me up the line."
     
  16. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul


    Deneb Odedu
    (Hawkmon)
    Bar Area



    “Huh?” Deneb sputtered, choking mid-swig on a fruity mixed drink Nadia kindly supplied after he downed his first bottle. He coughed and gagged in surprise. Blasted by Sir Tristan into Lala-land, popping back up a level in sheer terror, and drinking first on an empty stomach, Deneb was feeling *real* good quickly. He swirled his cocktail expertly with a genteel smile.

    “How can I refuse a pretty flower?” Deneb said politely, ever the gentleman. He put up his other arm to meet Aria's.

    "Flattery will get you nowhere." Aria said. Deneb shrugged. He gave compliments freely where he saw fit. The pair went at it with arms locked. For a while, Deneb thought he might actually have a chance to win. But Aria, being an Ultimate level, grinned and slammed his wing down, nearly falling off of the bar stool in the process.

    "I like you birdy. You know what's up. When this is over, I'll take you out for Karaoke." she said with a nod, as though it was already decided. "You seem like you know how to have a good time."

    Deneb chuckled with chirp and a hiccup. “I will take that challenge any day, my dear. I can’t be beat, when it comes to Karaoke.”

    Aria turned then and grabbed her new drink, taking a long sip of the sparkling water. But when she set the drink back down, she stared at it long and hard as though the beverage had somehow personally insulted her. After a long, slightly awkward pause, she hopped up out of her seat, nearly tripping on the landing. "I think I need some air." she managed before wobbling off towards the stairs.

    The Hawkmon’s feathers flatten, completely bummed out. They were just getting the night starter. Deneb tossed the remainder of his Old Glory cocktail back, savoring the fresh berries at the bottom.

    Now bored, Deneb tuned into the apparent banter between the Lekismon and BelleStarmon.

    "Put a sign up like that and I'll find a new bar manager," Serra warned her. "Do I look like a 'rustic, hand-painted sign' kinda girl?" She crossed her arms and glared playfully at the Lekismon.

    "Neon and chrome," Serra said. "Just like the renovations."

    Nadia grumbled, “Don’t tempt me. I just might put up a good old-fashion wooden sign. By the depths, I could stand to take a few days off. What ya say, hon, you and I hit the beaches? You look like you could use a bit of sun.” That last bit Nadia directed at Thor, appearing completely serious, but Deneb noticed a twinkle of mirth in her eyes.

    “Eh,” Deneb interrupted, Nadia looked over his way, “Could I possibly Rasberry Cosmopolitan before you do that?”

    “What are ya? A hummingbird?” Nadia barked, but quickly changed her tone with a smile. “Sure, sugar, I’ll get right on that for ya.” The enigmatic bartender spotted the ingredients on a shelf far above her head. With effortless grace, the Lekismon popped into the air to snag said items.



    ***************


    Theo Grayson
    BlackWarGreymon
    Upstairs Apartment


    The upstairs living quarter was dark with the exception of a small light in the kitchen and another in the sitting area. Theo sat at the table, carefully cleaning his gauntlets, helmet, and shoulder guards. Every now and again, he’d stop and listen to the muffled chatter coming from the stairway, then he’d resume his task. The familiar motions were soothing. His clawed hands removed the grime from small crevices with practice ease, though some spots required more attention. It had been sometime, since he’d done this.

    Theo simply focused on cleaning his armor, distancing himself from his circling thoughts. It needed to be done and he had nothing better to do. At least, that’s what he told himself. One of clawed gauntlets was being particularly difficult where the blades attached. The release mechanism was stuck. The black dragon rose with a grunt, going to the sink to soak his rag.

    The light step of unsteady legs reached him. Theo glanced around towards the stairs, wondering who was coming up.

    Aria made her way up the stairs, wobbling enough to make it immediately apparent that she had had a little too much to drink. She reached the landing at the top of the stairs and, with one hand on the wall, made her way towards the back room. It took her a few moments to notice he was there, but she stopped as soon as she saw Theo.

    “Look who it is.” she said, her words slurring. “Can’t be bothered to hang out with the rest of us?”

    For a moment, it looked like she would leave it at that. She started walking again, clearly starting to feel the effects of her drinking binge now that she was up and moving. But as she moved to pass Theo, she stopped again.

    “I believed in you gramps.” she said, softly. “And you let me down.” She didn’t move from her spot beside Theo, but her eyes were staring down at the floor instead of at the dragon man.

    “Aria, you’re drunk. Go to bed.” Theo said, trying to appear disinterested. He didn’t want to get into this. He wasn’t in the right mind and neither was she. More softly, “I already know I’ve let people down.”

    “Right.” she said back. “But what are you going to do about it?” She turned at looked at him now, her cheeks flushed and pinker than normal. “Nothing, right?”

    The little flowermon’s fists were clenched. “You’re content to wallow in your own pain. If there’s no fight left in you then why are you even still here?”

    “I was going to leave in the morning,” Theo muttered, trying to ignore the flowermon. He’d been too exhausted to bother and find an inn with available rooms. The capital had become crowded with the tamers and their partners taking refuge in the city. “Are you satisfied now?”

    “No.” she took a step closer, within arms reach of Theo. “You have the power to do something for someone else, and instead you’re running away.” Her voice was getting louder. Angrier.

    “But you can’t even be bothered to leave like a man. You just sit around, feeling sorry for yourself.” She raised a hand, and pounded her tiny, soft fist on Theo’s chest, almost leaning towards him now. “You’re useless! You don’t even know what you’re doing. You actually have power. You’re actually strong. But you’re a coward.”

    Aria was looking down again, unable or unwilling to look Theo in the eyes, but it was hard to hide the tears on her face. “I don’t know why you’re here.” she repeated. “I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know why the world suddenly needs me to be strong. I can’t do what you can do. And I’m scared. I’m scared to death.” She pounded her fist on his chest again. “But I’m still here.”

    “Aria, calm do-”

    “Don’t tell me to calm down!”

    Theo sighed. He reached over to the sink without a word and grabbed an empty glass, filling it with water. The old soldier splashed Aria with it to get her attention. He knelt to her level, holding one shoulder carefully.

    “Just stop right there.” Theo ordered firmly, but without yelling. “What is this really about?”

    For a brief moment, she sat there utterly dumbfounded, her face dripping with water. But if anything, the fire in her eyes was even hotter than before. “Did you just try to water me?” she asked slowly, every word dripping with indignation. “I’m not a wilting flower for you to look after. You don’t have the right to patronize me. You walk around here like a martyr, and you don’t care at all about what that does to other people.”

    “You were already watering yourself,” Theo pointed out. He choose not to react to her anger, it would only feed the situation. “I don’t blame you for being angry with me. But not like this. Your thoughts and emotions are all over the place from drinking too much. And that doesn’t help anyone here.” Theo shifted his large claw from her shoulder to cup the side of her face, “much less, yourself.”

    Aria swatted his hand away. “Don’t touch me.” she snapped.

    “My power could never be yours. Just as Thor’s power or Svarog’s strength could never be mine.” Theo looked away for a moment, lost in thought. “You have your own unique abilities, Aria. You helped me out in our first battle, remember?”

    “Yes, I helped.” Aria took a step back now, putting distance between them. “I helped because its all I could do. I can’t do anything on my own except cause problems for everyone around me. I can’t fight at this level, I’m just another body to protect. And I’ll probably be dead by the time this is all over.” She looked up at him now, looking Theo in the eyes for the first time since she started talking. “But I’m still here.”

    The BlackWarGreymon hung his arms to his side, respecting her space. “You’re right, you are still here.” The older dragon really looked at Aria….and perhaps saw a glimpse of himself. “And that’s the only difference between us right now. But I can guarantee with that attitude, you will die and swiftly. Only focusing on what you can’t do will stop you from seeing what you could do.”

    A forgotten memory stirred in his mind. Asher’s voice scolding him. Damn it, Theo! Don't screw yourself over worrying about me! A different conversation, but it made Theo stop for a moment and think.

    “It is terrifying, isn’t it?” Theo asked Aria softly. “Because no matter how hard you try, or how fast you act. Sometimes we still fail those that rely on us. How do we know we’ll be able succeed where we failed before?”

    You were always the better soldier of the two of us. Always watching out for the team and making sure we made it through. Don’t pass this chance up! Not on my account!

    The old conversation once long forgotten was fresh as though it was yesterday. His brother never doubted him. Theo clenched one claw. The digivice quietly beeped. It’s screen blinking with static.

    “I honestly don’t know,” Theo admitted, returning his gaze to the Lilamon. “But we don’t know unless we try. And if we fail again. We try and find another way.”

    “I’ve already lost my brother and my son. I’m afraid of losing someone else I care about, because I couldn’t do anything to save them.” Theo shook his head, looking away. “But if nothing is done. We still lose anyway.”

    “Going at it alone is terrifying, but wouldn’t you agree it is less so when you try it with another,” Theo closed his eyes, shutting aside the pain. He didn’t extend his arm out to Aria, but he did open a palm in offering.

    For a moment Aria just stared at Theo’s open hand, her breath coming in sniffles as she rode out the wave of emotions. Then, slowly, she shook her head. “I don’t understand.” she said softly. Another quiet pause drew out between them.

    “If that’s how you really feel…” She stomped her foot. “Then why all the drama! You really had me worried about you! But if all you’re going to do is keep spouting worn out sayings, then I’m done.” And with that, she turned to leave, again using the wall for balance. “Go or stay, I don’t care anymore.”

    Theo stared at her back in shock, before sighing in resignation. He returned to the table, leaning on its surface. The BlackWarGreymon suddenly punched the wooden material, snarling with frustration. The wood groaned in protest, not quite breaking. He hung his head. After several minutes, Theo finally moved back to his forgotten armor, returning to his seat.

    What was he doing? Was he really reconsidering after everything?

    The old soldier yanked at the stuck blade again, forcing it from it’s anchoring. He worked the rag over the blade and into the crevices, but with a greater intensity than previously.

    While he did so, memories of the past slipped by like slideshow.


    ~Flashback~


    A muscular WarGreymon X entered the sparse shared quarters, yelling jovially at someone in the hall over his shoulder. Asher slammed the door shut with a wham. Theo glared up at him from his seat.

    “Is that really necessary?” Theo asked, lowering the paper he’d been reading.

    “What is?” Asher replied clueless.

    “Nothing,” Theo said, wondering why he bothered. The older WarGreymon carefully laid the letter aside. “How did the challenge go?”

    “Got our kiesters kicked as usual,” Asher shrugged, grabbing a worn, but sturdy chair, sat in it backwards, and rested a sweaty arm on the backside. “We missed you out there. We didn’t even come close to our usual hold out time.” Asher rotated his left shoulder carefully, grimacing.

    “Either that or Sir Lancelot decided to cut loose a bit more than normal.”

    “Possibly both, besides I already told you I got called into a meeting,” Theo commented. He noted the numerous bruises dotting across his brother’s orange scales. “You’d better put some ice on those.”

    “Nah, I’m fine. The doctors cleared me. Said my skull was too thick to worry about any permanent damage,” Asher joked, nudging Theo on forearm. The WarGreymon X frowned, noticing his brother’s lack of reaction and quick changing of the subject.

    “What’s it say?” Referring to the letter, Theo had discretely set aside. The older Greymon hesitated for only a brief second, but it was enough time for Asher to snagged the discarded letter.

    “It’s nothing, now give it back!” Theo demanded, standing quickly to take it back.

    “Heh, yeah right, Theo. You wouldn’t get this worked up about it if it was.” Asher said offhandedly, skimming the letter’s contents. The younger Greymon’s eyes widen in shock. “This...this is a promotion, Theo…” Asher glanced over to his brother, now sitting back down with a sigh. “...as a Training Instructor with a NCO rank. You are accepting this, right?”

    “No, I wasn’t going to.” Asher stared at Theo incredulously.

    “Why the hell not!” Asher flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing!

    “It’s not a big-”

    “Like hell it is, Theo. It’s not everyday the Knights promote someone from within the enlisted ranks.” Theo glanced away, refusing to meet his brother’s scrutinizing eyes. “This isn’t the first time, is it?”

    “Does it really matter?” Theo insisted. He’d made up his mind.

    “Answer the damn question, how many times have they offered you this?” Asher grilled the WarGreymon.

    “Only once, a few years ago,” Theo muttered, reluctantly.

    “I don’t get it. I know you actually enjoy working with the newer recruits.” The bulkier WarGreymon X shook his head in disbelief. “Don’t you even want it?”

    “If you were capable of shutting your yap for more than 30 seconds, I would explain,” Theo scowled, snatching the now crinkled paper from his brother’s claws. “Yes, I would like it very much, but it would also mean we’d no longer be on the same platoon or on missions together.”

    “That’s it?” Asher asked, stunned. “I’ll admit, one part of me is thrilled to hear that you’d rather stick with me and the rest team, but- damn it, Theo! Don't screw yourself over worrying about me!”

    Theo flinched at the sudden rise in volume as Asher grabbed the front of his armor, the duo nearly touching horn-to-horn.

    “By Odin, Theo, we may have a rep of being effective together, but you were always the better soldier of the two of us,” Asher released his grip on Theo’s armor, jabbing a pointed claw into Theo’s chest. “I’m just the bombastic idiot throwing fire and explosions everywhere to give you cover to get in close. You could do so much more good for the Order, by taking that promotion. You’re always watching out for the team and making sure we made it through. Don’t pass this chance up! Not on my account!”

    Theo let a slight smile slip, pushing away Asher’s very sharp claws, “When did you get so smart and wise?”

    “Ha-ha,” Asher deadpanned, the tension finally releasing between the two brothers.

    “So, you’re really fine this?” Theo asked tentatively, taking a seat again.

    “Yes! Do something for yourself for once, Theo!” Asher all but shouted. He paused as though considering his next words, “Look, if it helps, I’ve been thinking about leaving the Order, once the period of my current enlistment ends.”

    “Go on,” Theo said, confusion apparent in his tone.

    “Well, remember that shore leave we had a year ago on the mainland and we decided to have supper at this cozy Inn?” Asher said, a smile crossed his face.

    “How could I forget? You and that GrappuLeomon waitress were flirting the whole time.”

    “Actually, she was the owner, but yea, we hit it off pretty hard.” Asher said, Theo now understanding the longing expression on his brother’s face. “We’ve had a good run here, Theo, but I think I want to be there to help Kassy raise our kid.”

    Theo stared blankly at Asher, not immediately comprehending, “Y-you’re a father?” Theo sputtered out.

    Asher guffawed, slapping a stunned Theo heartily on the back, “Yup, soon-to-be, and you’re going to be an uncle.”

    Theo shook his head in amazement. For most of their lives, they’d only had each other to reply on. Now, their paths were divulging and their family growing in number. Theo wasn’t too sure yet about the changes, but things were moving forward for the better.


    ~END FLASHBACK~


    Theo didn’t know how long he’d been staring out the upstairs kitchen window, his arms hanging loosely at his side. A single tear rolled down one cheek. He needed to make a choice.

    A ghostly human fitted perfectly into the creases of his rough, weathered one. The figure appeared at the edge of his vision in the window’s reflection. Theo looked away.

    Kyle gave him a sad, crooked smile, “You still can’t look directly at me, can you? That’s fine. The pain’s still pretty deep. I’m not going anywhere, not until you’re ready. But don’t you think it’s time to let him go?”

    A black clawed hand gently closed around Kyle’s small one.

    Yes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  17. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Lower Axis Mundi Streets
    All Tamer pairs


    "Andrea, Deneb," James called to the pair. "Can we talk?"

    The brown-headed Tamer glanced up from conversing with Denen, “Yea, what’s up, James?” The Hawkmon groaned, tugging at her sleeve, “Go on, Deneb, I’ll fill you in later.” Andrea replied with a nod back towards the bar. The bird man flipped into the air with relief, half flying-halfing jumping across the ground back the way they came. “Sorry, Deneb’s stomach couldn’t wait any longer.”

    “It’s okay,” James smiled, a little chuckle passing his lips. “I just spoke to Henry. He’d like Artanis and I to coordinate the six of us in order to help him out.”

    “Wait, the pirate’s leading us now?”Andrea asked surprised, having missed his announcement on the train. “I guess that’s something better than before though. No offense to the Archangel, but I don’t like being told how to operate with my partner.” She quieted for a second and then added, “This is just more than anything I’ve ever handled before.”

    “It’s more than anything we’ve ever handled before,” Hoshiko agreed from behind James.

    “Henry’s leading, yes,” James nodded. “He stepped up on the train, but he doesn’t know how to lead us, exactly. Humans.”

    “A lot of digimon don’t understand us, unless they’ve had a partner or spent time with a partnered pair. So how do we want to make this work?” Andrea asked and then suggested, “if Deneb and I can pull off another biomerge, maybe you guys could hid on his back for shelter. He’s pretty big and you’d be less likely to get hit from stray attacks like you would on the ground.”

    Hoshiko’s gaze wandered between Andrea and Okatsu. “Perhaps, but if the Knights are throwing you around in the air, we might be more at risk of falling.”

    “It’s a good thought,” James said. “But I think Hoshiko is right about that, Andrea. We could cling to the foliage, but if Caradoc gets a hold of Deneb and starts throwing him around, anything might happen.” He paused in thought.

    “While I understand your frustration, Andrea,” Okatsu mused, “I’m certain that Michael only intended for keep you safe from harm.” She gazed at Hoshiko. “Nonetheless, keeping us separated only weakens us. The battle in Glen Elendra… it hardened my resolve on that thought.”

    “I know,” Andrea quietly admitted to Okatsu’s point. “I guess I’m just trying to figure out how we can play safe, but I’m just not seeing it. I promised Deneb I would be more careful, but the place I feel most secure is with him.”

    “Agreed,” James murmured. “Always.” He looked down at Artanis and the two nodded to each other. “We are strongest together.”

    “And is there really such a thing as safe?” Hoshiko ventured. “Truly?” She looked pained as she spoke, like even offering the question deeply hurt. Okatsu rested a paw on her partner’s hand.

    “We’ll make it so,” Andrea said determined, nodding reassuringly to Hoshiko. “Whatever it takes.”

    “Whatever it takes,” Artanis echoed with a meaningful look at Okatsu. She merely met his gaze, offering no more.

    “I’ll talk to my old boss, Sal, about getting some of the new PLRS Rider System kits that are on the market,” Andrea continued, tapping the harness rig she still wore around her legs and waist. “It’ll help solve one problem of us being thrown from our partner’s back or shoulders by accident.”

    “PLRS?” James asked, regarding the harness. “I haven’t seen that before.”

    “It’s a fairly new invention by a tamer pair that had set up shop in Kaladesh,” Andrea explained. “It comes in two pieces, my safety harness and a small anchoring device that melds into our partner’s physical data form. PLRS stands for Passive Laser Restraint System. Basically, an invisible energy connection forms between the anchoring point on our partners and my safety harness. It’s taken a lot of stress off of Deneb, even though he’s gotten really good at catching me.”

    The brown-headed tamer spoke of her many near-deaths very casually. “I don’t really recommend it for smaller champion or ultimate forms though, Deneb has a really hard time carrying me in his Sirenmon form.”

    “Kaladesh…” James murmured, almost frowning. “Do you know if… that Tamer pair, if they made it out?”

    “You want the PLRS, right?” Hoshiko said softly. “To help ride Artanis.”

    He nodded in confirmation. “It might be dangerous, but that’s me, right?” He offered a smile.

    “Don’t know,” Andrea confessed, “I popped over from Analogue right as the fighting started up. Sal would know though, she always keeps an eye out on the latest gear to help out the rescue guild. I do know that tamer pair’s reputation. They’ve gotten out of situations before using their inventions.”

    James nodded. “Maybe they got out if so. We should find out, there are others who could use the PLRS too. My friends could.” He glanced wistfully away.

    “Your team?” Hoshiko asked.

    “Yes,” he answered. “They’re still fighting. Trying to save people.” He paused. “That's what I did, you know? Just tried to save people. To protect as many as I could and as long as I could keep them safe, that was a win. But now, just surviving… it’s not a win anymore, is it?” His gaze turned to Okatsu. “We won’t win this just by enduring.”

    “No, we won’t,” Andrea muttered, echoing James’ thoughts, “I haven’t fought this war as long as you guys, but I’ve been in enough survival situations to know we won’t be safe until the danger is gone. A fire burns until there is no longer fuel to sustain it. The Knights won’t let up until everyone of us is gone from Saga.” She looked at the others. “I’ve...only ever wanted to spare others the pain of losing a family member. It’s why I do rescue work, but this war calls for something more.”

    “I couldn’t just stand by,” James said quietly. “Losing family… I know it too. I didn’t want to see people separated from their loved ones in any way just because the Royal Knights decided that we humans shouldn’t be here.”

    “Me too…” Hoshiko whispered, too softly for them to hear. Only Okatsu heard her.

    “We must be stronger,” Artanis said, looking between them. “The gap between us and the Royal Knights at present is a chasm.” He rested his claw-tips on the scar where Bedivere had buckled his cybernetic armor. “Somehow we must come to bridge that chasm and stand on even terms with them. We cannot best them with numbers we do not have and their strategic minds are too keen for treachery even if we were willing.”

    “Somehow,” James agreed, looking at Andrea. “Andrea, how did you and Deneb Biomerge? What caused it?” There was more than simple curiosity to the question. His need to know was evident.

    Andrea hesitated for a second, uncertain, “When those three tamers fell,” she said quietly, “I...was at a loss. I can push Deneb through multiple forms to suit our situation, but I didn’t know what to do then. What did we have to stand up to the Knights? And yet...Deneb...bless his heart...reminded me of something..” A smile passed over her lips. “Deneb’s an honest scaredy cat, but he tells me I’m his courage and his rock. But at that moment, he became mine, when I was losing hope. He reminded me that we still had each other. Our friendship. Our bond. It is the one thing we have, that the Knight’s don’t. Where one of us is weak, the other fills in the gap to make us stronger as a whole.”

    Andrea scratched her head slightly embarrassed, “I guess, despite the danger and risk to me, Deneb and I just fell back on the trust of our bond we’ve built over the years and went with it. We both wanted to stay together no matter what, no matter the risk. Honestly, Deneb could explain the actual sensation of our biomerge better, but he said afterwards that he could feel my heartbeat as if it were his own, our minds acting as one in a single body, “ Andrea frowned. “At least I think that’s how it is supposed to be.”

    “As one,” James echoed. “Exactly. That’s what we need to be.” He looked at Artanis, and Artanis at him. “Then why-” His voice trailed off.

    “We were talking about Henry, weren’t we?” Hoshiko spoke.

    “Yea, I guess we were,” Andrea conceded, “though all of this is kinda important.” She looked back at James. “So both of us are reporting to you for directions, then.”

    “That’s the idea, I guess,” he smiled. “Artanis and I. I don’t think it changes much, though.”

    “Sorry,” Hoshiko murmured. “You’re right, it is important. Just… it’s been a long day. For all of us.”

    “No worries,” Andrea nodded to Hoshiko. “I know you’ve got your guild to check on. I’m hoping Sal got everyone from Frontier Rescue safely out of Kaladesh too.”

    James nodded. “Go see your friends and get some rest. We all need it.” For a moment his smile hardened. “We’ve got more battles ahead.”

    Andrea nodded in agreement once more. “I’ll you guys later. I’ll let you know what I find out about the Rider Systems kit and the tamer pair that invented it.” The female tamer proceed to turn left at a junction in the direction of the tamer camps.

    “Thank you,” James said with a smile. He turned to Hoshiko. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

    “It’s alright,” she murmured. “Congratulations.” He must have seemed surprised, because she continued. “On being a leader again.” And with that, she and Okatsu walked on past him.
     
  18. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    Camelot, Avalon

    "You will remain here until you are summoned again, Sir Lamorak," Galahad's decree echoed across the chamber. All twelve other Royal Knights stood at attention around the circular table. Lamorak bowed his head deeply. "We are not butchers. We are not killers. We are Royal Knights. We avoid bloodshed whenever possible, especially when facing enemies so far beneath our power."

    "Sir Galahad, I--I apologize," Lamorak stuttered, eyes locked on the floor. "I had been fighting the Odinson, my senses were overwhelmed. I--"

    "Enough. No excuses," said Sir Gawain. "To remain morally justified we must act in a morally right way.

    "You shouldn't be punishing him for following through and committing to our cause," Sir Caradoc scoffed. "How many times did you issue your warnings to deaf ears, Sir Galahad? How many times that day did we call for their peaceful surrender only to be ignored? These humans chose not to heed our words. They chose to defy us and fight against us. You cannot punish Sir Lamorak for defending himself as--"

    "I can. And I have, Sir Caradoc," Galahad interrupted. "I know all about what you did on these very shores. Were you not defending our home against invasion you would be joining Sir Lamorak here. As It stands I've excused your actions. But I also warned the rest against following your example. The inability to control oneself is not the hallmark of a Royal Knight."

    Sir Gareth muttered under his breath.

    "Please, if you have something to say, speak up, Sir Gareth," said Galahad.

    "I said you still shouldn't be handicapping us with so much at stake," Gareth said, staring Galahad in the eyes. "If the reports are correct the Council has multiple teams ready to intercept us and counter our offenses."

    "You mean 'try to counter our offenses'," Gawain snorted.

    "They've done plenty well so far," Gareth shot back.

    "At least four different groups by our last count," Tristan said, trying to bring a measure of calm back into the conversation. "The one we encountered in Kaladesh -- led by a QueenChessmon, if I recall." Bedivere nodded to confirm. "The one we faced in Glen Elendra -- with that big HerculesKabuterimon. And then the one Sir Lancelot reported encountering in Meletis."

    "I'm concerned with the larger group -- the one with the humans," said Sir Bedivere. The Examon flexed his wings.

    "And the archangel," Gawain said.

    "An actual demon," Sir Kay chimed in. The rest spit in disguist.

    "A fire god," Gareth muttered, to some raised eyebrows

    "The Odinson," Sir Percival said to more nods. "He's getting stronger. You saw what he did at Kaladesh. You saw what kind of shape I was in."

    "You should be training more," Gareth grumbled.

    "He beat Lamorak in Glen Elendra on the same day," Percival countered.

    "You. Should. All. Be. Training. More," Gareth snapped.

    "Training isn't going to put this matter to rest," Sir Galahad cut in. "We all know what the White Sword can do. We've seen it. It's in our histories. It's the only factor we can't account for. The more Thor Odinson uses the White Sword the stronger he'll become. Everything else in these Council-sponsored groups can be managed: the humans, the archangel, the demon, the god...even Thor on his own. But the White Sword needs to be taken off the board." He turned to Gawain. "Sir Gawain, I leave that to you."

    ==\=/==

    < Thor Odinson (Imperialdramon: Fighter Mode) >
    Lower Axis Mundi


    Thor was about to answer Nadia and politely decline her offer. It wasn't the time; Asgardians were a people of the cold and the rhime; he got plenty of sun; she'd have better luck with Svarog if she wanted sun. But then the little wisemon slipped from her stool to take another on the far side of him.

    “Thor...uhm...are you alright? “ Tessa asked softly, stumbling over her words slightly and trying to be more casual. Thor remembered their conversation from the other night in the Council gardens. That sense of impossible distance that he felt between them; and how, just a little while later, he found that distance all but erased. “I know you’ve been having difficulties with the White Sword- I mean you’ve stated as much-, but I can’t quite imagine the kind of stress it’s putting you through.”

    The small mage materialized her space/time orbs, flashing in silent alarm. “My orbs went bonkers on the Locomon after you used the Sword in Kaladesh, detecting some unusual spatial/temporal anomaly activity. As a Wisemon that specializes in spatial and temporal manipulation, even I’m not sure what that means yet.

    “Is this normal for an Eternal?” Tessa asked with concern.

    Thor's smile faltered and he turned back to his drink with a frown. "Normal? No. Nothing about that sword is normal," he muttered. "It's like carrying the weight of a star. It tests you, with every moment you hold it in your hands.

    Tessa whistled, scratching her chin in thought, “That makes a lot more sense. I would have to use special algorithms if I were teleporting in proximity of a celestial body. The gravitational forces alone screw with the output of the calculations so bad, I’d need the additional factor to compensate-” The wisemon scratched her head sheepishly, trying to reigning in her usual chatter, “sorry, that’s probably nothing compared to what you have to deal with.

    “How exactly is the sword testing you?” Tessa asked, as if she smelled a challenging puzzle.

    "'Are you worthy?' it asks," Thor said. "'Are you as worthy to hold this sword as Odin?' And of course you're not. No one was. No one is. All you can do is try to be. And carry yourself the way he would."

    "That's dumb," Serra cut in. She leaned behind the counter and moved things around to get to a better bottle. "It's no wonder that thing is giving you so much trouble."

    "What do you mean?" Thor asked, his frown deepening and his eyes narrowing.

    "You're not your father."

    "I know that. I've spent more time with this sword than--"

    "You're never going to be your father. No matter how hard you try," Serra said. She uncorked a bottle and poured another few fingers for herself, Thor, and Nadia. She shrugged as Deneb scrambled to put his feathered fingers over his glass and keep her from mixing his sweeter drink with the new bottle.

    "So I should just give up?" Thor demanded. He tried to control his anger. Breathed deep, but he was shot and ragged already.

    "On being Odin? Yeah," Serra answered simply. She ignored his tone, stuffed the bottle into a hidden section of the counter and turned back to him calmly. "There's nothing 'worthy' about trying to be someone else."

    "I'm not trying to be Odin," Thor grumbled.

    "Aren't you, though?" Serra said. She took a long sip and let those words sink in. Her piercing pink eyes bore into his. "And it sounds like you've given up."

    "I haven't--"

    "It's a good thing," she stopped him, and he thought he saw the first flicker of irritation flash across her features. He found that at once endearing and infuriating. Who was she to be irritated with him when she was the one calling him foolish uninvited.

    "But you gotta' stop trying to be 'as worthy as Odin' and remember to be worthy as yourself -- not as worthy as anything else," Serra said. She took another slow sip, her eyes still burning into his, and he felt remarkably exposed. "Thor's already worthy of the sword. You just need to realize that being Thor is enough."

    Thor was silent a few moments. He held her almost-glowing gaze with his own until she broke away to refill her drink.

    "How have you come to know these sorts of things?" he asked. He tried to keep a the tremor out of his voice, but her words had cut deeper and hotter than any blade.

    "It's just metaphysics," she said with a shrug and a smirk. "Even a former angel still has a degree in it."

    ==\=/==

    < Svarog Rodsyn (Apollomon) >

    Svarog spent the rest of the night drinking and boasting to Stein until the hulking Digimon decided to wander off. Then he settled into his quiet as Nadia brought out what remained of the bar-food fare. The Guardians ate quickly and began to wander into whatever lodging accommodations the BelleStarmon had arranged. Thor retired to the roof after a particularly tense conversation with Serra. As soon as there was no one around to shiver as Samael glowered at them, the demon stood and silently walked out. Serra retreated to her living space, Nadia cleaned up, dimmed the lights, and left.

    Until Svarog was the last one. His flames lit the corner of the bar he'd chosen to occupy and he glowered at the drink in his hands. He'd mulled over the words spoken to Stein all night, wondering how much of them were true and how much were empty blustering god-talk. What was he feeling at that moment, right then? Was it rage? Or was it anger and embarrassment mixing together to give the illusion of rage?

    Caradoc had beaten him soundly and nothing in Svarog's rage had been able to prevent that. He was stronger, yes, but Svarog was better. He wasn't so much stronger or faster that Svarog couldn't have matched him. The only possibility Svarog could comprehend was that Caradoc's rage simply eclipsed his own. It was a sobering thought.

    And an unacceptable one.

    Dawn broke, and still Svarog glowered at the empty now-glass in his hands. He was lucky to be a god and not need sleep. As light filtered down through the streets and into the windows, the Guardians began to stir in the rooms overhead. Thor was the first down. He gave Svarog a long, curious look, but then nodded and said no more. Serra emerged next, grabbed a beer from behind the counter, and sat at a table near Thor. She followed shortly by Nadia, who gave her beer a disapproving glance.

    There was a knock on the front door. Nadia opened it and let Michael in. He looked tense, and Svarog wondered what kind of night he'd had with the Council.

    "We should talk," Michael said, and Svarog noted how hoarse his voice sounded, like he'd been shouting since they last saw him. "Are the others here?"

    Serra gave Nadia a curt nod and she hopped back up the stairs. Svarog heard her sprinting down the hallway, knocking heavily on doors for the next minute. Then she came bounding back down with a content look on her face.

    Weird woman.

    The rest of the Guardians filtered down into the bar over the next few minutes. They looked all kinds of haggard, but more-or-less alert, and gave Michael their attention once they realized he was there.

    "And Samael?" Michael asked, turning to Henry.

    "Left as soon as there was no one left to sneer at," Svarog grumbled. His jaw popped as he spoke and he realized how tense and rigid he'd been for the past few hours.

    The door swung open and Samael stepped in.

    "Speak of the devil," Svarog muttered.

    "And he shall appear before you!" Samael smirked and bowed.

    "Is that blood?" Michael motioned to Samael's hairline.

    "Oh?" Samael ran two fingers across the bloody patch, then tasted the blood. "Don't worry, not mine."

    "That's a little bit more--" Nadia began.

    "Now's not the time," Michael said. He looked tired. Weary. "I spent most of the night talking with the Council and representatives from the other kingdoms. There are a number of crises emerging -- likely related to the Royal Knights. Greystone has renounced its support for the Tamers and declared for the Royal Knights. Greystone has a substantial military force that the Council was depending on to discourage the Royal Knights from engaging in all-out war. The Chess Kingdom is rumored to be considering the same.

    "Disturbances have been detected near Ixalan in the Riverlands. Details are sparse, but it's close enough to Avalon that it could be related to the Royal Knights," Michael glanced pointedly at Henry.

    "What's more, the Council has lost contact with the first Peacemaker Squad that was sent to Meletis," Michael said. "Report is that they engaged Sir Lancelot, but that was the last we've heard from them."

    "Finally, there are rumors of mass Tamer gatherings in Valyria," Michael said with a frown. "They could be simply trying to find sanctuary in Halcyon or Valeron, but both kingdoms have petitioned the Council to get involved and move the Tamers to Axis Mundi. With their ongoing enmity towards one another and Acheron, that part of Valyria might well become a battleground."

    Michael turned to Henry. "We need to decide our next course of action. The Council has given us that much leeway."

    "It should be rather apparent," Svarog grumbled from his corner. "We need to go to Greystone."

    "I agree," Thor said, stepping forward. "Greystone is the most pressing matter. If Lord Raegin Greysvald declares his support for the Royal Knights, that's an enormous force added to theirs. Greystone acted as a deterrent. We can't lose that."

    "Yes. All of that," Svarog said. "More importantly, we're bound to get the best fight in Greystone."

    "And if talking falls through we get to teach those big horned idiots a lesson," Samael sneered.

    "We can do the most good to protect Tamers if we go to Valyria," Michael interjected. "And that is the mission."

    "There's no immediate danger in Valyria," Serra countered. "If our alliance with other kingdoms is eroding we need to fix that or there won't be anywhere safe for the Tamers to evacuate to."
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  19. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Tamer Encampment, Axis Mundi

    A field of tents stretched out. In this part of Axis Mundi, the Tamers had assembled what they could to call home, pooling their resources to find shelter from the elements. Here and there, smaller cliques had set themselves apart, Hoshiko's guild among them, finding solace in familiar faces in this time of fear and grief. As she and Okatsu wandered through the sea of refugees, Hoshiko looked around into many faces. Many recognised her, greeting her with a word or a smile or a gesture. Some just stared in stony silence, the ashes of Glen Elendra and Kaladesh darkening their eyes. She wasn't used to this feeling. Failure. It weighed heavily on her shoulders as she saw the grief deep in countless eyes.

    They came to the island of tents belonging to the guild, a flag bearing their logo staked proudly above their new home. But with no wind, the flag hung limply, as broken as the organisation it represented. The Tamers who made this their home were waiting for her, no doubt told she was coming.

    "Hoshiko," said Jones, as they all knew him, an American Tamer whose beloved panama hat had somehow survived all the misfortunes alongside him and his Hagurumon partner. "Good to see you back."

    "It's... it's good to see you too," she murmured, looking at the others clustered around Jones. Satya in her blue silk with her Coronamon Surya at her side, Jon with his Garurumon partner curled up behind him, Alistair and Skeith, Hope and Gredora, and plenty more pairs of Tamers and partners besides. But still a fraction of those who she remembered. Still so many faces missing. "Is there any word? From Justin and Gurguit?" Heads began to shake sadly. "Rose and Elvira? Mei and Ragnar?" More shakes. "Marcel and Chiyome? Anyone?"

    "No one," Satya murmured gently, as though afraid her words might shatter Hoshiko like glass. "There's been no news, Hoshiko."

    "They're fine, I'm sure," Alistair said in his gruff tone. "They'll have made their way to Valyria, or Greystone, or somewhere else they'll be protected. Or they'll have gone back to Analog." Unseen, Hoshiko's fingers clenched. Okatsu's claw rested on her finger supportively.

    "And what if they haven't?" Jones drawled. "What if-"

    "That's enough, Jones," Gredora said, the Tentomon shooting a cold look at him. "We all know the possibility."

    "Gredora's right," Jon nodded with a supportive growl from his Garurumon. "They know what they're doing. And knowing Marcel, he'll have talked his way to Galahad and toasted him good health." He chuckled at his own joke, a sentiment Hoshiko could only smile a little at. That would be Marcel, charming his way through locked doors, past guards and into beds with a seamless recklessness that always seemed to play out perfectly. Yet annoying as she had found him in the past, she wished he and his Ravemon partner were here now. Just so she would know two more were safe. That two more hadn't been added to the tally of the dead and the lost.

    "How is everything else?" she murmured, drawing their gazes back to her. "How are... the Bereaved?" The atmosphere thickened.

    "The same," Hope said finally. "We look after them as best we can, make sure they eat, drink and sleep. But you know..."

    Hoshiko gave a slow, pained nod. The Bereaved were those who had lost their partners to the Knights' crusade, humans and Digimon whose souls had been torn by the loss they experienced. Many retreated into themselves, staring with hollow eyes at the world without truly seeing. She had tried to look after them, helped by other Tamers keenly aware of how close they had come to sharing that fate, but all they could do was sustain the Bereaved.

    "Were you looking for something here, Hoshiko?" Jon asked. "Shouldn't you be with the Guardians?" She should, probably. But these people were the family she had, besides Okatsu of course.

    "I just wanted to know," she answered.

    "If more were safe?" Satya said. "If people were okay?" Hoshiko supposed so. After the ashes of Glen Elendra, maybe she just needed something certain to find herself. She remembered the lance of pain boring through her chest and the bitter rage at Samael stirred like a serpent inside her. Failure, pain and anger were a poisonous cocktail, she thought coldly.

    "We all heard," Jones said hesitantly. "About Kaladesh. The Tamers from there got here way before you did. You lost, right?"

    She forced a nod, and Okatsu stepped up. "We did not defeat the Royal Knights, no." The disappointment was plain in their eyes, even without any surprise adding to it. Had they expected her and the Guardians to win so easily? They were fighting legends in the flesh in this war after all.

    "Hey, it's okay," Alistair said with a smile. "You got people out. That's a victory." Perhaps that was victory in itself. But all she could think of were three broken bodies and all the others they symbolised in turn. And how close Okatsu had come to death without her partner watching her back.

    "Indeed," Okatsu replied. "But not the victory we went to Kaladesh and Glen Elendra in search of." That was Okatsu. Eyes on the goal. "This will not end until the Royal Knights are defeated." They all knew that, she could tell. They put on brave faces, but behind it, they knew almost as well as her what the Guardians' chances truly were. But they had to try. What other alternative was there but separation from their partners and exile to a world that in some cases had nothing but death for them. Cold death in the snow-

    Okatsu's paw tightened around her hand as the memories stirred. Snowflakes on her skin, an icy wind cutting like knives into her skin. Freezing tears dragging their way down her cheeks. Falling to her knees in a snowdrift and feeling frozen crystals bite through her clothes.

    I would rather die on the battlefield with you.

    Okatsu looked at her, their eyes meeting as though Hoshiko had spoken the thought aloud. It passed between them, making the Gabumon's grip tighten.

    "But we'll keep fighting," she murmured. "And we will win." To save those still out there. And to avenge the fallen if needs be.

    "We will," Okatsu agreed after a moment. "Together."

    "You should go be with your team," Jon offered. "We can hold things down here, Hoshiko. They need you right now." She gave a hesitant nod. She would have rather been here, surrounded by the people she knew, than spend the night in the same building as the demon who had stabbed Okatsu in the back.

    "We're all here for you," Satya said with a warm smile, Surya adding his own warmth. "We know you and the Guardians can do this, Hoshiko." She wished she could earnestly believe the same as she said farewell and turned away, to leave behind those she knew and return to a building haunted by Samael's shadow.

    -

    James Reeve
    Serra's Tavern

    The room Serra had assigned them was small but comfortable, with a bed designed for Digimon. James was too short for it as he lay there, staring at the ceiling. Artanis rested on the floor, for he preferred a harder surface to sleep on, claiming it reminded him of the rocky halls of Korshakal.

    "Are you still thinking about what Okatsu said?" James asked, sensing his partner's frustration.

    The Agumon nodded. "It is a troubling thought."

    "Is it?" the Tamer wondered aloud. "We wouldn't let people die, would we?"

    "Even if it meant prolonging this war?" Artanis answered. "What Thor said to us. Surviving isn't enough."

    James rolled over and stared down at his partner. "That isn't who we are." His tone was as firm as steel.

    "And where have we gotten by being who we are?" the Agumon asked, melancholy. "Kaladesh and Glen Elendra lie ashen in our wake."

    "Because of the Royal Knights," James retorted. "Because they started this. What are we if we give up on saving everyone we can, Artanis?" He paused. "You know me better than that."

    "I do," Artanis conceded. "Because James Reeve reaches out to save everyone, even those he cannot possibly reach." The words barraged James with a flood of faces. Matthew's was the foremost. "On the one hand, I was taught honor that should never be forsaken, even in the direst of battlefields." He held up one hand to illustrate his meaning. "But on the other, one equally wise taught my kin and I that when ideals and reality are set upon a collision course, it is more often cold reality that triumphs, that the pragmatic survive where the idealists do not. The Royal Knights hold back, so it seems, and yet the corpses pile up."

    James began to understand. "You don't know."

    "And yet you are certain," the Agumon said very softly. "You know to the utmost that even in the direst circumstances, you are James Reeve, and you will always leave yourself open to attack in order to reach out a hand to help others." He met the young man's gaze. "I wish I could be so absolute in my conviction. But no matter how many we save, if we cannot defeat the Royal Knights, it will ultimately be for naught. Perhaps for the moment they restrain themselves, but given time they will sway more to their cause or grow impatient enough that they become ruthless. On that day, we must either defeat them or all we have achieved will be nothing more than a footnote."

    James was silent, turning it over. "Could you live with yourself if you defeated them at the cost of innocent lives?" He frowned. "Trading lives isn't how we win."

    "But that is how wars are won, in truth," Artanis murmured. "The sagas sing of heroes and victories won with honor, but war is an ugly thing and so the bards gild it with glory. And in a war such as this, with so much at stake, I do not know whether ideals can take precedence."

    "I can't decide for you, Artanis," James answered, now certain of something. "But Okatsu was right. We can't have these doubts. Even if the Royal Knights don't use them against us, second-guessing ourselves doesn't help."

    His partner gave a nod of agreement. "Perhaps it is not the sort of thing resolved by debate. Perhaps in the heat of the moment, all will be clear." But he didn't sound convinced. "We ought to rest regardless. I have no doubt that tomorrow will bring more battle."
     
  20. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson
    BlackWarGreymon
    Serra’s Tavern


    The energetic pounding of doors woke Theo from a rough sleep. The elder greymon rubbed his eyes, sitting up as he did so. New morning light gleamed in through the window. He could hear the other Guardians gathering downstairs.

    The BlackWarGreymon bowed his head in resignation. After everything he’d said and done yesterday, he was going to stay and fight. Convincing the others of his reliability? A whole different story. He hadn’t missed the multiple looks of disappointment sent his way. Grabbing his dramon destroyers, Theo slowly made his way through the upstairs apartment behind everyone else.

    The BlackWarGreymon lingered in the stairwell entrance, hesitate. The Guardians stood gathered around the Archangel, listening to the High Council’s intel.

    “Staying or going?” A voice startled the black dragon from his thoughts. Glancing down and to his left, Nadia met his eyes expectantly, neither judging or pitying the older greymon.

    “Staying,” Theo said with a slow nod.

    “Good,” the bartender replied, “then what are you waiting for? Go to them.” Nadia gestured with a flick of her ears towards the group.

    “Easier said than done,” Theo said. “I abandoned my oath yesterday. The Guardians will question my commitment, convincing them...won’t be easy.”

    “Hon, I think you’re past the point of words,” Nadia admonished, “Your actions will have to do the talking for you. And when it comes to rebuilding burnt bridges? That just takes time and effort.”

    Theo nodded silently to Nadia, grateful. Her encouragement motivated him forward finally to join the rest of the group, though he still kept to the rear. The situation was problematic with no straight answer. Many of the Guardians were already strongly suggesting the group head towards Greystone first.

    The BlackGreymon frowned as the news of the missing Peacemakers. Perhaps, the individual Peacemaker squads had different assignments already given to them. But that didn’t change the fact the Council was still down a response team to protect Tamers or engage with the Knights. The missing team might not affect the Guardians directly, but they were all representatives of the High Council. It would not aid their case in appealing to Greystone, when they were in a weaker and less capable position.

    "It's going to be very difficult to convince Greystone to renounce their allegiance to the Royal Knights, when a fourth of the Council's attack forces has been compromised," Theo brought up, standing towards the back.

    "There are sixteen of us and some twenty Peacemakers. Six members of a task force of 36, " said Thor. "Greystone won't care about 6 missing Digimon. But we should be very worried about hundreds of potential new enemy soldiers."

    "Is Greystone a task for us specifically?" Hoshiko asked. "I don't deny that it's important, but isn't our priority to protect Tamers and fight the Royal Knights? What do we bring to that table that the Council's diplomats don't?"

    “Raegin Greysvald doesn’t care for diplomats,” said Thor. “The Council themselves went there already and bought Greystone’s cooperation for a whole two days. Greystone respects strength and action.”

    “I see,” Hoshiko answered with a frown. “If that’s the case then I suppose it can’t be helped, but I agree with Michael that the Tamers in Valyria are our responsibility.”

    “If those Tamers just need to be escorted here to Axis Mundi, then perhaps several of the Peacemakers can undertake that mission while we negotiate with Raegin Greysvald,” Artanis mused.

    "You're mistaken, Hoshiko," said Thor. "Our responsibility is to stand against the Royal Knights."

    Protect the tamers. Stop the Knights. The two were not mutually exclusive. However, they could protect the tamers by stopping the Knight. But that would be pointless if no more tamers remained by the time they defeated the Knights for good.

    "Right," she nodded. "That's true."

    "What of the Peacemakers in Meletis?" Okatsu queried. "Greystone may be the immediate priority, but Theo makes a fair point." She glanced back at him with some confusion. "They compose a sixth of our total strength, a significant fraction. At the very least we need to establish what has become of them."

    "They may compose a sixth of our number, but not our strength," said Svarog. "Do not mistake one for the other."

    "And where would you go to find them?" Serra asked. She took a swig of her morning beer. "Any idea where they might be?"

    Theo cringed inwardly. If the missing Peacemakers had engage with Sir Lancelot an were defeated, chances are they were still alive. However, they would likely be held prisoner at the nearest garrison.
     

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