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

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    Chapter 11: Protocol (Part II)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    AeroVeedramon nodded with a pained grimace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “…Yeah, we do,” he agreed.

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

    They nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

    -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    RhodoKnightmon frowned. “I--“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sleipmon eyed him. “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “It won’t take that long.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “It’s against protocol…”

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

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

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

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

    “Not to evil Digimon,” RhodoKnightmon argued.

    “He’s not evil!” Sleipmon countered.

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

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

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

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

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

    “What?!” Sleipmon responded in surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Urgent Fear!” he announced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I have an idea!” Sleipmon suddenly said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Somehow…” he uttered softly.

    “Paildramon! Paildramon!” a voice shouted out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What?” AeroVeedramon asked.

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

    “You?” RhodoKnightmon asked, surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sleipmon nodded and looked at Imperialdramon thoughtfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Moosemon frowned and stepped forwards. “…Don’t be,” he said to the young dragon. “It’s not your fault. Something like this… is just a terrible accident. We can repair the damage… I’m sure you’d like to help us, wouldn’t you?” He offered a small smile.

    Imperialdramon nodded and opened his red, wet eyes. “Please… I’ll do anything…” he replied. He sniffed and looked at Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon. “I’m so sorry… You guys stopped me, didn’t you?”

    “Sleipmon did most of the work,” RhodoKnightmon said to him, glancing over at the horseman.

    “That’s not true,” Sleipmon insisted, looking back at RhodoKnightmon. He looked at Imperialdramon. “Don’t worry about it… By the way, hold out your claws. I have something for you.” He smiled warmly at the dragon.

    Imperialdramon slowly held out his palm, in which Sleipmon placed the piece of paper that had flown out of the dragon’s armour. “Huh…?” he asked, looking closer at the piece of paper.

    “It’s the autograph I gave you earlier,” Sleipmon replied. “You dropped it after you digivolved.”

    “Th… Thank you…” he responded, looking up at the Royal Knight he admired.

    “By the way, the offer is still open… The one about you applying for the Order when you’re older,” Sleipmon said.

    Imperialdramon looked at him with shock and gratitude. “Even after all this?” he asked tearfully. “I… I don’t know what to say… You’re too nice.”

    “You should be grateful that he is,” RhodoKnightmon told him, though he was sure Imperialdramon wouldn’t pick up the implications of what he meant.

    “I am…” Imperialdramon murmured.

    Moosemon turned to the Royal Knights and chuckled. “I suppose this will go into your report,” he said uncomfortably.

    “You can bet on it,” RhodoKnightmon replied. “However, how will you deal with what happened?”

    Moosemon frowned. “Well… I’ll need to give AeroVeedramon his job back, for starters,” he explained, looking over at the winged dragon man nearby.

    AeroVeedramon looked at him with surprise. “Are you sure, Moosemon?”

    “I’ll need the help,” he told him with a small smile. “I want to rebuild what was destroyed in the town, and I’d like to rebuild something else as well.”

    AeroVeedramon smiled. “That’s big of you.”

    “I’m only doing what Dad would have done,” he replied.

    “Aww. That’s rather cute,” RhodoKnightmon spoke, smiling a bit. “I’m beginning to pair you two.”

    They both looked at him with confusion. “Pardon?”

    Sleipmon grinned and raised his hand. “Never mind,” he told them, turning to Imperialdramon. “So, how are you feeling? In complete control now?”

    Imperialdramon nodded weakly. “Just sore and dizzy… and really, really tired…” he responded.

    Veedramon grinned and patted his arm. “Your wing will heal. We’ll get you home,” he told him. He looked up to where their home used to be and saw only a massive, smoking crater surrounded by unearthed dirt. “…Oh right.”

    “We’ll sort something out, right, Moosemon?” AeroVeedramon said, looking over.

    Moosemon looked back at him and smiled. “Yeah, we will.”

    RhodoKnightmon glanced at them and placed his hands on his hips. “Mhm. Mhm. Totally a cute couple,” he said. “Anyways, I suppose that means you three can handle things here?”

    “I believe so,” Moosemon replied. He looked at Imperialdramon. “Well… Will he be fine now?”

    “Yes. If Imperialdramons can get over that first bout of instability, they are usually completely fine from then on. A few rare cases aside, that is,” RhodoKnightmon replied.

    “We’ll keep in touch to see how things are getting on,” Sleipmon said to them. “If there’s anything any of you need, just send a messenger or a letter.”

    “Thank you,” Veedramon said to them with a heartfelt expression.

    Imperialdramon looked over at them. “Yeah… For everything,” he added. He managed a small, toothy smile in Sleipmon’s direction.

    Sleipmon smiled back at him. “We’re just doing our jobs,” he insisted. “Well, we should be off now. It’s sunset.”

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “I suppose they’ll have started cooking without me,” he mused aloud, sighing.

    “Again, thanks for everything,” the mayor said to them. “I hope our next inspection goes better.”

    “We’re expecting great things,” RhodoKnightmon chimed, turning and beginning to walk east towards the road that led away from Mossridge.

    Sleipmon nodded and smiled, casting one more look to Imperialdramon. “I hope to see you in a year or so,” he told him. A wry grin formed on his face. “Don’t train too hard though.”

    Imperialdramon chuckled sheepishly. “I’ll try not to…” he responded. “…Bye, Sleipmon.”

    “Goodbye,” Sleipmon told him, turning away and trotting after RhodoKnightmon.

    -

    (Continued on the next page)
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  2. #27
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    (Continued)

    The two Royal Knights walked side-by-side up a dirt path leading north, towards the Royal Knights’ territory. Dusk was setting in and the sky was a dark blue except for the soft glow of red on the horizon. A crisp wind blew across the grassy fields surrounding them.

    RhodoKnightmon looked over at Sleipmon. “So… throwing your shield…” he said, looking at his fellow knight with amusement.

    Sleipmon grinned sheepishly and scratched his cheek with his index finger. “I started thinking about the Royal Knights and I got a bit of inspiration from Dukemon,” he admitted.

    “Unconventional and reckless?” RhodoKnightmon asked with a light chuckle. “Yes, I can see the relation now.”

    There was a short pause between them.

    “You know…” Rhodo spoke, “That won’t work every single time…”

    Sleipmon frowned a bit. He knew that his comrade was talking about his attempts to incapacitate Digimon. “I know…” he replied. “That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try, though.”

    “I know…” RhodoKnightmon said in response, looking forwards. He was quiet for a few moments before deciding to speak up again. “…I also know that I can get very… intense during missions,” he explained. “All that said, I am happy that you were able to stop Imperialdramon without deleting him. I didn’t want to kill him, I hope you know.”

    Sleipmon sighed a bit. “Yes… I know. You were just looking out for the other Digimon,” he said.

    “We have different ways of doing things, I suppose…” RhodoKnightmon guessed. He looked over at Sleipmon. “It really wasn’t because I’m lazy and wanted a quick fix that I suggested deletion, you know…”

    Sleipmon nodded. He grimaced and looked down at RhodoKnightmon apologetically. “I’m sorry, Rhodo. I said some mean things back there,” he confessed. “You’re not heartless; you did save me from getting hit, after all.”

    RhodoKnightmon looked up at him. “…Aw, I can’t stay mad at those sad, adorable eyes,” he answered, grinning behind his helmet. “Although… I owe you a few apologies as well. You were right about Imperialdramon, and I was wrong to call you selfish. In fact, you’re probably the most selfless Digimon that I have the pleasure of knowing.”

    The large cavalier smiled slowly. “I appreciate that…” Sleipmon paused and looked over at him. “I still can’t say I agree with you though…”

    “I disagree with you as well, I’m afraid,” RhodoKnightmon told him. “I do understand you though.”

    Sleipmon nodded in agreement. “I understand your point of view too…” he responded. “If we can do that, I’m sure we’ll be fine in the future…”

    A calm silence ensued as the last bit of sun disappeared over the grassy horizon.

    “So… How about it?” RhodoKnightmon suddenly asked him as they walked onto the familiar road in their territory.

    Sleipmon raised an eyebrow and looked down at his fellow Royal Knight. “How about what?” he asked.

    RhodoKnightmon turned his head towards Sleipmon while he walked, looking the knight’s big body up and down.

    “Would you like to have make up sex?”

    Sleipmon sighed.

    “No... No, I wouldn’t.”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  3. #28
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    (Author's Notes: Another two parter... that won't fit in Serebii's character limits. That's an annoyance. I'm trying to make the chapters after this shorter. Let's hope it works.)

    Chapter 12: Like Night and Day (Part I)


    The morning sun beamed through the windows of the Royal Knights’ headquarters, lighting up the walls of the stone hallways. Dynasmon walked down a corridor, the rays of light gleaming off of his freshly polished, white armour and his glossy, red eyes.

    “I think I can guess where he is…” he muttered to himself, taking a large, thick bite of the apple in his hand immediately after speaking.

    Dynasmon tucked his violet wings back as he turned a corner and walked down a flight of stairs, into the underground level of the castle. Upon reaching the bottom level, he kept heading down the hallway, continuing to munch on his apple as he did. He stopped in front of a large set of wooden doors in an alcove. Pinned on the door was a long list titled ‘Rules and Etiquette of the Royal Knight’s Library’ in neat, eloquent DigiLetters.

    “Oh, great. He made a new one,” Dynasmon muttered, rolling his eyes and noting the new rule on the bottom saying, ‘Do not remove this list.’ It was written just below a subsection rule that read: ‘If bringing new literature into the library, smutty material is strictly forbidden. You know who you are, Dynasmon.

    “If I know Duftmon, he’ll probably be in here,” he remarked, pushing the doors open with his big claws.

    As he pushed the thick, intricately designed slabs of wood open, he was met with a gust of warm air and the stuffy scent of old paper. Dynasmon stepped into the castle library: a fairly large-sized room with multiple long rows of bookshelves towering at fourteen feet high and stretching two thirds of the length of the library. The shelves were loaded with literature, although not all of the shelves were totally filled. The library was finely organized into sections based on genre, such as differing types of fiction – adventure stories, historical fiction, romance, poems, mystery, etc. – and non-fiction – literature on science, history, military strategy, Digimon, among various other things. The non-fiction greatly outweighed the fiction in number. These sections were consequently grouped into tomes, books, compendiums, novels, and scrolls, and then alphabetized for maximum order and ease of access.

    To the left of Dynasmon was a perfectly arranged desk with a notebook on top, opened up. When checking out a book, one would write down their name, the title of the book, the date it was checked out, and the date it was expected to be returned.

    Between the shelves and the entrance, there were several tables and chairs where Digimon could read without having to check out a book, and there were more at the back of the library, as well. Dynasmon couldn’t spot Duftmon among the couple Digimon at the front of the library, so he started making his way down one of the aisles.

    Dynasmon walked down the aisle, flanked by books. He wasn’t sure what section he was in since he didn’t go in the library all that often. He finished the rest of his apple, leaving only the core in his hand as he reached the back of the library where there were lots of tables and chairs neatly arranged. To his satisfaction, Dynasmon noticed the Royal Knight clad in leopard armour sitting at one of the tables, reading a book. The dragon man grinned and walked over to him. “Hey, Duftmon!” he greeted.

    “You have already managed to break two rules,” Duftmon said in a quiet tone, not looking up from his book, which was titled, ‘The History of the Metal Empire by Datamon of Facture’.

    “…Huh?” Dynasmon asked, stopping on the opposite side of the table from Duftmon and eyeing him with confusion.

    “One, you are speaking loudly and disruptively. Two, you are eating in the library,” Duftmon explained, his eyes still scanning the page.

    “I finished eating, you know,” Dynasmon replied dryly, folding his muscular arms.

    Duftmon put his book down and rubbed the bridge of his nose with a slender hand. “Have you gotten lost, Dynasmon?” he asked him, looking over with subdued annoyance. “I cannot think of another reason of why you are here in the library.” He narrowed his green eyes slowly. “You aren’t here to contaminate the library with your disgusting books about scantily clad female Digimon, are you? It clearly states in the rules--”

    Dynasmon raised his hand to stop the leopard knight. “Relax, Duftmon. I only came here to find you.”

    “I am very busy,” Duftmon responded curtly. He looked him over. “Why are you dressed in your armour rather than those tatters you call clothes?”

    He rolled his eyes. “Alphamon is summoning the Royal Knights for a meeting,” Dynasmon told him.

    Duftmon sighed. “Very well,” he replied, standing up and closing the thick book. “Duties before pleasure.”

    Dynasmon eyed the book in Duftmon’s hand. “That’s ‘pleasure’?” he thought to himself with an ironic grin. “Well, this is Duftmon we’re talking about…

    The brown armoured knight stood up and walked past Dynasmon, carrying the book in his hands. Dynasmon placed his apple core on the table that Duftmon was previously at and made to follow him. Duftmon looked over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing?” Duftmon asked. He eyed the apple core. “You aren’t seriously going to leave that trash there.”

    Dynasmon blinked and looked behind him at the remainders of the apple. “Uh… Somebody else will clean it up.”

    “You will clean it up, you irresponsible sloven,” Duftmon told him sternly. “I will not have this place of learning turned into a rubbish deposit.”

    “…From one apple core?” Dynasmon asked, chuckling to himself and going to pick it up. “You really are a neat freak, Duftmon. Emphasis on the ‘freak’.”

    “Laugh if it pleases you, but I’ve seen the inside of your room. Not to mention the smells coming from it,” the strategist countered, making his way down the aisle.

    “That’s the smell of man, Duftmon,” he explained proudly. “Though I don’t expect you to know what that smells like. You spend as much time grooming yourself in the bathroom as RhodoKnightmon. Do you go into Leopard Mode and brush your fur too?”

    “I don’t have to answer that,” Duftmon answered as he walked to the non-fiction history section of the library and very carefully put the book back in its proper alphabetical spot.

    “No, I guess you don’t,” Dynasmon teased, walking past the Royal Knight and out into the alcove.

    Duftmon pushed the book in fully before turning to follow the dragon man. “Do you know what the meeting is about?” he asked him.

    “No, but I’m guessing it’s about some of the things that went on yesterday. Sleipmon and Rhodo came back looking a little worse for wear,” the white-armoured dragon observed.

    “I suppose we shall see,” Duftmon said, walking behind Dynasmon as they made it to the stairs. He tried to pass the large Royal Knight ahead of him but found he wasn’t able to pass him due to his outstretched wingspan. He frowned with mild irritation. “Don’t you know that it is rude not to tuck back your wings while walking?

    Dynasmon glanced over his shoulder. “It’s also rude to call someone an irresponsible sloven, along with many of the other things you do,” he reminded him with a grin.

    “That is beside the point,” Duftmon responded sternly. “Stop being childish and tuck back your wings so that I can pass.

    “Like this?” he asked innocently, sweeping his wings back behind him where Duftmon was so that they lightly whacked the knight and got in his face and personal space.

    “Gah! D-Dynasmon!” he sputtered in surprise and annoyance, raising his hands and angrily pushing the violet wings away from him. “You immature dunderhead!”

    As Dynasmon chuckled at his uptight companion, Duftmon shoved past him in a huff. As the leopard knight sped up, Dynasmon followed him and eyed the two wings sprouting out from the backs of his shoulders. “Don’t forget to tuck your wings back, Duftmon!” he reminded him playfully, causing a growl from the Digimon in question.

    The two Royal Knights made their way down a corridor to the castle foyer, where they turned left into the great hall. Upon entering, they could see that, on the opposite end of the hall, the doors of the council chamber had been propped open until the rest of the Royal Knights arrived. They noticed the familiar red cape of Dukemon among the Digimon’s bodies moving around as they got settled in.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon made it across the great hall and walked into the council room.

    “Dynasmon, close those, please,” Alphamon’s deep, authoritative voice rang out from the Siege Perilous. “Everybody’s here now.”

    Dynasmon closed the two double doors and sat down at his seat at the round, white table. The eleven knights sat in their seats, and OuRyuumon and Zero ARMS: Grani hovered behind Alphamon and Dukemon, respectively.

    Duftmon eyed Alphamon’s friend and the leader of the reconnaissance squadrons, wondering why they were there. “Why are they here as well?” he asked tactlessly.

    “We have just as much right to be here as you do, pussy cat!” OuRyuumon retorted defensively.

    Grani rolled his eyes. “I have relevant information, Duftmon,” he explained.

    Dukemon smirked and nudged Examon’s winged arm with his elbow. “See? It’s not just you he alienates,” he whispered.

    Examon gave a single, light chuckle. “I’m beginning to see that,” he whispered in reply.

    OuRyuumon glared over at Examon, folding his arms. “What are you laughing at, tent wings?” he growled, mistaking Examon’s laugh for a sarcastic response to what he said.

    “’Tent wings’?” UlforceVeedramon asked with a laugh. “Is that the best you can come up with? There are loads of overcompensation jokes you could make about dear, old Ex-sama. I should really take you under my wing, OuRyuumon. Oh, now there’s a good wing joke. The last Digimon who Ex-sama took under his wing got agoraphobia.”

    Alphamon raised his hand and gently palmed his face. “We’re off to a great start,” he muttered in exasperation as the talking started to escalate.

    “So it seems…” Omegamon mumbled beside him.

    Alphamon’s gaze hardened and he stood up, commanding attention. “Enough, everyone!” the Aloof Hermit said sternly, silencing the chatter. “Normally, I have patience for your bickering and jokes, but I’m in short supply of that today.”

    The air of seriousness that the room and statuses commanded swept back over everybody.

    “We’re sorry, Alphamon,” Magnamon apologized.

    “Is something wrong?” UlforceVeedramon asked, the smile gone from his face.

    “Yes…” Alphamon admitted, sitting back down. “But we’ll get to that after. First, Sleipmon, RhodoKnightmon. Tell us what happened at the inspection yesterday.”

    RhodoKnightmon frowned and crossed his arms. “But, Alphamon. We have written everything up in our reports,” he told him. “Why must we explain?”

    “With what’s going on, not everybody may have the time to read over your reports,” Alphamon answered in a weighty, foreboding tone.

    “Ominous…” Dynasmon said aloud, eyeing Alphamon.

    “Yes, it is,” was Alphamon’s reply. “Try to make it quick, please.”

    Sleipmon and RhodoKnightmon glanced at one another. “Very well…” Sleipmon said, starting them off. “As you all know, RhodoKnightmon and I went to Mossridge for a routine inspection.”

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “While there, we found that there was a bit of a dispute taking place between two families: Moosemon, the mayor, and Veedramon and AeroVeedramon, two of his advisors,” he explained. “Apparently they couldn’t stand each other due to an incident over a decade ago where a newly digivolved Imperialdramon went rampant in the town.”

    Examon’s eyes narrowed softly at what he heard.

    “Went rampant?” Magnamon asked.

    “Yes. That Imperialdramon was Veedramon and AeroVeedramon’s father,” RhodoKnightmon told them. “He destroyed a quarter of the town, along with his best friend, who had been trying to stop him.”

    Examon’s fists suddenly clenched and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat, repositioning himself as if he had just sat on his tail. He turned his gaze away from the Royal Knights’ eyes and faces, instead finding himself looking over at the stained glass window of Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.

    Dukemon couldn’t help but notice the actions of the dragon sitting beside him, but he thought nothing of it and looked at RhodoKnightmon and Sleipmon. “Go on…”

    “The Digimon that he killed was a Pegasusmon. Moosemon’s father,” Sleipmon explained. “After Imperialdramon calmed down, his friend’s family was understandably furious with him. I’m sure many things were said, and he already felt deep guilt over what happened, so he eventually killed himself. Those events are what started the animosity.”

    “That’s terrible,” Magnamon said sympathetically.

    “Yes…” Sleipmon said softly. “Anyways… The same thing happened to Veedramon’s son, Paildramon, yesterday. He evolved to Imperialdramon and couldn’t handle the evolution. He started to run rampant, so Rhodo and I had to stop him.”

    “How did that end?” Craniamon asked cuirously.

    “After a dangerous amount of time, Sleipmon was able to incapacitate him,” RhodoKnightmon said, glancing at the horse knight. “Though I had initially suggested a quicker method.”

    “I’m just glad nobody was hurt,” Sleipmon said with a small smile.

    Examon’s frowned, looking away from the mosaic and back down at the pristine white table top. “You won’t always be so lucky with tactics like that,” he spoke suddenly and brusquely, surprising several of the Royal Knights.

    Dukemon looked at him with a frown, and the smile vanished from Sleipmon’s face, which turned to silently gaze at Examon.

    “I agree with Examon on this matter,” Duftmon announced, surprising everybody just as much that he didn’t disagree on principle. “Soft, half-hearted approaches like that are doomed to end in disaster. Certainty in battle is a necessity.”

    “Nothing is certain,” Dukemon spoke up in Sleipmon’s defence. “I think that was the right thing to do, Sleipmon.”

    “Thank you,” Sleipmon replied, though still eyeing Examon for a few more seconds. “Well, that’s about it. We contained the situation and the family feud was settled.”

    “I see… Thank you, you two,” Alphamon told them. “I’m glad you sorted things without any fatalities.”

    Sleipmon nodded. He looked at Alphamon a bit nervously. “So… what’s next?”

    “Yeah. What’s making you so serious?” UlforceVeedramon asked. “Well, more serious than usual…”

    Dukemon exchanged looks with Alphamon. “Want me to answer that?” he asked his commander.

    Alphamon shook his head. “It’s fine, Dukemon,” he assured him. The leader of the Royal Knights turned looked around the table. “It’s about what Dukemon, Craniamon, Grani, and Examon found yesterday, when they went to investigate the rift that was found in Dusk Forest.”

    “You’re going to explain why you and Dukemon seemed so tense when we reported back yesterday evening?” Craniamon asked, leering at Alphamon curiously.

    Examon looked at him as well. He, too, was curious. He only knew what he and Craniamon observed, not the larger implications of whatever it meant.

    “I’ll get to that… Let’s start with what you found,” Alphamon told him.

    “The rift that’s releasing dark data?” Craniamon asked, folding his arms. “It grew bigger. Didn’t it, Examon?”

    Examon nodded, remembering that it was much shorter when they first came across it. “Definitely. It’s about a half meter longer and a few centimeters wider across.”

    “It’s releasing more dark data too,” Craniamon added shortly. “Nobody wanted to risk getting close.”

    Dukemon frowned and nodded. He secretly hadn’t wanted to get close himself; for fear that it might react with his Digital Hazard.

    “Dusk Forest is no longer safe,” Grani spoke up. “It’s on complete lockdown. We don’t want more Darkdramon situations happening.”

    “That doesn’t sound good,” Magnamon said, a pensive look in his eyes. “Maybe I should go down there. The holy power of Miracles might be able to counterbalance the dark data,” he suggested.

    “Perhaps,” Alphamon agreed. “We were thinking something like that yesterday, actually. That’s why I contacted the Warrior Ten over the communication program. I wanted to get AncientGarurumon and Anubismon down to Dusk Forest, since they’re the Warrior of Light and the Warrior of Darkness. I hoped they might be able to use their powers to do something about it. Anyways, KaiserGreymon and I talked, and that’s when I found out something.”

    “What might that be?” Duftmon asked.

    “They discovered a dark rift of their own.”

    A brief silence ensued.

    “That’s… not good,” Dynasmon said, wincing.

    “Not at all,” Omegamon agreed.

    Examon frowned. “Sorry, but… am I missing something?” he asked.

    “I think I must be too,” Sleipmon said, rubbing the back of his neck.

    Duftmon looked at Alphamon, wondering what he was getting at, and frustrated that he was one of the ones that wasn’t sure what he was talking about. It further annoyed him that Dynasmon of all Digimon knew what was going on while he didn’t, though he supposed it was because Dynasmon was one of the founding members of the Order.

    “Oh, my apologies,” Alphamon said, looking at the newer members. “I guess we never mentioned it because we thought the situation would never come up. For all intents and purposes, the issue was out of sight and at the very backs of our minds.”

    “What issue?” Craniamon asked.

    “The Dark Area…” Alphamon explained to them with a serious frown. “It’s an area that was created deep below the surface of the Digital World as an inescapable prison. It’s where some of the most dangerous Digimon have been sealed away.”
    “Sealed away?” Duftmon queried. “Why not simply delete them?”

    “It was deemed too dangerous based on the thought that when they were reformatted into a Digi-egg, they might retain some of their old power and evil data,” Alphamon explained.

    “That’s ridiculous,” Duftmon answered haughtily. “It’s called ‘reformatting’ for a reason.”

    “Maybe you think so, but it was the prevailing thought at the time,” Omegamon added in Alphamon’s defence.

    “Besides, it’s not always that simple, trying to delete powerful Digimon,” the Lord of the Empty Seat stated.

    “What sorts of Digimon are sealed down there?” Sleipmon asked, frowning. “Why not put all our prisoners there?”

    “There are several imprisoned there, but not many. Each one is extremely dangerous. And it would be risky trying to overpopulate it, so we try to use the standard prisons unless we absolutely have to put them in the Dark Area,” Alphamon explained. “Some of you may remember the name ‘DarkKnightmon’. Imperialdramon Paladin Mode was the one who sealed him down there.”

    Omegamon and Dukemon narrowed their eyes at the name. Magnamon frowned and OuRyuumon looked away quietly. Dynasmon folded his arms. “There’s a name I never wanted to hear again,” he said.

    “Who is he?” Examon questioned.

    “Let’s just say he’s a dangerous, evil Digimon and leave it at that, for now,” Alphamon responded. “What are important are the rifts.”

    “Ah, you believe that the rifts are related to the Dark Area,” Duftmon deduced.

    “Yeah,” Dukemon answered. “More specifically, we think that the barrier of the Dark Area is weakening somehow.”

    “But it was supposed to be so secure,” Magnamon said with a perturbed frown.

    “Do you think it’s happening from the inside or the outside?” Duftmon asked.

    “We can’t say,” Alphamon answered. “It shouldn’t be possible for anybody in the Dark Area to regain the necessary power to be able to escape.”

    “Perhaps it’s natural deterioration,” Omegamon suggested.

    “That’s not supposed to happen,” the leader of the Royal Knights said.

    “More importantly, what do we do about it?” RhodoKnightmon asked.

    “We must increase our investigations. Once we determine that these rifts are from the Dark Area, then we can figure out what to do,” Alphamon said.

    “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode knows more about this stuff than we do,” Dukemon pointed out. “He was the one who put DarkKnightmon in there.”

    “Yes, but where is he?” Omegamon replied, asking an answerless question.

    Examon looked surprised. He turned to Grani. “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode is still alive?” he asked in a whisper.

    “Yes, but he left after founding the Royal Knights, and they’ve only seen him a couple times since,” Grani explained.

    Alphamon spoke up again. “I mentioned that I sent a communiqué to the Warrior Ten. I want two of you to go the north half of the continent where the Warrior Ten operate. I want you to investigate that rift that they found. AncientGarurumon and Anubismon will be coming down here to look at ours as well. Any volunteers?” he asked, although already looking to see Dynasmon’s response.

    Dynasmon raised his hand up. “I’ll go. I haven’t seen the salamander in awhile,” he offered, grinning.

    “Who?” Examon asked him.

    “KaiserGreymon,” Dynasmon replied, turning to him. “He and I know each other back from before we helped start our teams. We met in our adventurer days.”

    “Dynasmon’s probably the closest of us to the Warrior Ten,” Magnamon added.

    Alphamon nodded. “So, that’s one. Anybody else?”

    Duftmon raised his hand as well. “I will go. I wish to inspect this rift.”

    “You?” Dynasmon asked incredulously, arching his eyebrow in disapproval. “You want to come with me to our allies’ base? No offence, but you’re not exactly the best Digimon for the job.”

    Duftmon narrowed his green eyes, feeling somewhat insulted and confused. “Why am I not?”

    Dynasmon rubbed the back of his horned head. “You’re too...”

    “Arrogant?” Dukemon suggested.

    “Insensitive?” Magnamon offered.

    “Contentious?” Craniamon proposed.

    “Condescending?” UlforceVeedramon put forth.

    “Blunt?” Examon asked.

    “Opinionated?” RhodoKnightmon inquired.

    “Ugly!” OuRyuumon added sharply. Alphamon turned and gave OuRyuumon a stern look. The gold serpent shrugged flippantly. “I thought we were saying stuff we don’t like about him... I’ve got a load more.”

    “Mature,” Alphamon murmured with a roll of his eyes as Duftmon started sneering. “You can go, Duftmon. Despite his faults, he is very intelligent and astute.” He looked at Duftmon specifically. “This isn’t a diplomatic trip, but please try your best not to put your foot in your mouth.”

    Duftmon folded his arms indignantly. “I’m sure I have no idea what any of you are talking about,” he answered. He turned his head sideways and muttered under his breath, “Fools...”

    Dynasmon chuckled. “I’ll keep an eye on him. He can read books and be antisocial with AncientGarurumon and Anubismon.”

    “They’re coming down here, remember?” Craniamon pointed out to him.

    “In that case, he can talk tactics and books with Shurimon, as long as you don’t scare the poor guy again.”

    “Remember that you two are going there to check out that rift, not to socialize,” Alphamon reminded them, but particularly Dynasmon.

    “Exactly, Dynasmon,” the leopard knight said pointedly. “No alcoholic beverages either. Your mind is dull enough without the help of ale.”

    “Do I really have to go with him, Alphamon?” Dynasmon complained, although half-jokingly. “It’s going to be like this for the whole, long journey. You know he doesn’t have a filter. I can’t go through a six hour flight of this.”

    “You aren’t exactly my first choice for company either, Dynasmon,” Duftmon countered.

    “Your first choice for company would be a book,” the dragon man quipped.

    An annoyed, exasperated sigh left Alphamon’s mouth. “Can none of you get along for more than ten minutes?” he asked with an irritable gaze in his red eyes. He abruptly stood to his feet waved his hand impatiently, not in any mood to deal with the usual back-and-forth between certain knights that he often faced. “Go, the both of you. That’s an order. You two may not get along, but I’m sure you’ll manage. You’re Royal Knights. With that title comes responsibilities and maturity that I expect from each and every one of you. If you really find it that difficult, then perhaps it’s time you revaluated whether you have the right to call yourself a Royal Knight,” he reprimanded, no longer speaking to just Duftmon and Dynasmon, but to all of the Royal Knights there.

    Omegamon slowly frowned, watching as Alphamon walked away from the table and left the council hall, wordlessly signalling that the meeting was over. An awkward silence swept over the Royal Knights. A few uncomfortable glances were exchanged and many contemplated Alphamon’s uncharacteristically harsh words.

    Omegamon couldn’t help but notice OuRyuumon follow after Alphamon a couple of moments later. He turned away, back to the Royal Knights. “...Excuse him,” he spoke softly. “This dilemma with the rifts has been troubling him, so he’s a bit... agitated.”

    “Yeah... but he does have a point,” Dukemon said, standing up and putting a hand on his hip. “It’s times like this that we all need to band together like the team that we are.”

    Dynasmon nodded. “Royal Knights need to put their differences aside when there’s work to be done,” he agreed.

    “I suppose I can agree with that,” Duftmon spoke, glancing at Dynasmon.

    “Are you feeling okay, Duftmon?” UlforceVeedramon laughed. “You agreed with both Examon and Dukemon in the span of twenty minutes.”

    Duftmon stared at him wordlessly. He stood to his feet. “I’m going to my room to prepare,” he told them. “I assume the meeting is adjourned with Alphamon’s exit.”

    Dynasmon stood up as well and stretched his arms and wings, groaning. “I’d better get ready too. It’s going to be a long flight.”

    “Especially with him as your company,” UlforceVeedramon joked as Duftmon left the room.

    “Don’t say that, Ulforce,” Magnamon chastised. “Duftmon’s okay. He’s just a bit socially awkward.”

    “Socially oblivious, you mean,” Ulforce responded playfully.

    “Maybe, but still. You heard what Alphamon said. We need to get along,” the Royal Knight of Miracles insisted.

    “I’m all for that, but Duftmon can get the better of even the most thick-skinned Digimon,” the blue dragon man replied. “He can’t help himself. I don’t know why he even uses a sword when his tongue is sharper than any blade I’ve seen.”

    Magnamon rolled his eyes. “You’re one to talk, Ulforce...”

    Dukemon walked over to Dynasmon, with Grani following him. “Don’t weigh yourself down by packing too much,” he advised.

    Dynasmon smirked slightly. “I know.” His smile curled into a light frown. “Dukemon... Do you think all this has anything to do with him?”

    The crimson knight shrugged. “It’s really too soon to make guesses like that. I don’t know why it would,” he responded.

    “I guess so...” he answered. “It’s just that Alphamon seems really bothered. You picked up on that too, right?”

    “You mean when he chewed us out?” Dukemon asked. “Yeah, I noticed. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to do with that though. I mean, I don’t have to explain how it would be a disaster if there was something wrong with the Dark Area’s containment system.”

    “Yeah, you’re probably right,” Dynasmon said in agreement. “Let’s hope it’s not that.” The dragon man nodded at Dukemon and Grani. ‘Well, I’ll see you in a few days.”

    Dukemon waved to him as he walked out into the great hall. Grani turned to Dukemon. “Do you think he’ll be okay with Duftmon?” he asked him.

    Dukemon grinned. “Just him and Duftmon alone? I give it an hour before an argument breaks out.”

    Grani sighed. “I guess they’re just too different...” the Zero ARMS said. “Anyways, I’ll get my reconnaissance squadrons out looking for more rifts.”

    The red knight nodded. “Do that. Hopefully the thing that Duftmon and Dynasmon are going to see isn’t what we think it is...”

    -

    It had been eight hours since Dynasmon and Duftmon had left their castle and started heading north. It was faster than usual since they flew by wing had minimal breaks.

    The two Royal Knights now traipsed through a thick forest, following a dirt path so that they didn’t have to fight through plants and branches. They heard the rough splashing of a nearby river to their right. Although they couldn’t see the river through the trees from where they were, they had passed over it earlier via a small bridge. The stream began at a waterfall located in the mountain range up ahead.

    The path was wide and clear enough that they could see the grassy clearing at the base of the cliffs up ahead. It was there that the waterfall descended from the rocky heights, and it was there that the Warrior Ten’s headquarters was located.

    “We’re almost there,” Dynasmon told his travelling companion excitedly. He was both eager to see the Warrior Ten and get away from Duftmon’s company.

    “Do not let your guard down,” Duftmon replied. “Shurimon’s ninja traps and plant traps are still around.”

    “Relax,” Dynasmon answered, looking down at the map in his claws. “AtlurKabuterimon drew this map of the area for us and labelled all of the traps. With his cartography skills and his photographic memory, I doubt it’s inaccurate at all.”

    “Dynasmon!” Duftmon called out in annoyance, swinging his sabre, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi, out and whacking Dynasmon’s chest with the smooth sides.

    Dynasmon staggered backwards a step, mostly out of surprise since it was a relatively light hit. He turned and glared at Duftmon. “Hey! What was that for?” he asked angrily.

    Duftmon rolled his eyes and pointed down at the ground using the tip of his sabre. Dynasmon lowered his map and looked at what the metal tip was pointed at. Right in front of him, where he was about to step, was a thin tripwire that was presumably rigged to trigger a trap when stepped on.

    “Oh...” he murmured sheepishly. “Yeah, that one’s on the map too.”

    “Use your eyes, Dynasmon,” Duftmon advised him, walking forwards to the grassy clearing.

    Dynasmon followed him, making sure to look out for any more traps.

    The two stepped out onto the clearing. Before them was a large, imposing structure standing at the base of the mountainous cliffs, opposite in the clearing from the forest. The keep had once been abandoned, but it had been restored. Although the outside was constructed of sturdy, high-grade rock, fused together with firm, adhesive mortar, the stony exterior had vines and moss creeping up its sides. Along with the fact that it was built against the mountain side, and the fact that the mountain’s waterfall drained into a river just to the right of the keep, this made it look very much it tune with nature.

    It looked like it could hold steadfast against most attacks, if it needed to. The keep was dwarfed in size when compared to the Royal Knights’ castle, but the Warrior Ten didn’t have a standing garrison to house, only the ten warriors as well as a few friends and allies on occasion. As a result, it was much smaller, though it was large enough to have the essentials for a former-military outpost. It stood at about forty feet high, not counting the single watch tower protruding high into the air. There were three angular bastions fixed to the main building, one at the front and one of the left and right side. With these bastions came ramparts leading around the keep, strategically watching over all of the approaches.

    “It sure is quaint, huh?” Dynasmon asked, walking towards the entrance, which was to the right of the front bastion.

    Duftmon hummed and observed the keep as they approached. “It isn’t what I—“

    He was interrupted when a strong, accented voice called out to them. “Hey, Dynasmon!” the voice snarled amiably from the ramparts.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon looked up to see KaiserGreymon standing on the parapet, waving at them with a large grin. They could see the form of a white wolfman standing beside the dragon.

    AncientGarurumon looked down at them and then turned to KaiserGreymon. “KaiserGreymon, don’t—“

    KaiserGreymon lunged off the two storey rampart and landed on his feet beside the Royal Knights with a large thud.

    “...jump,” AncientGarurumon sighed, finishing his thought too late. He followed KaiserGreymon’s example and nimbly jumped down beside the Warrior of Flame.

    “Kaiser!” Dynasmon greeted with a broad smile, turning and walking over to him. “Still as reckless and impulsive as ever, I see.”

    KaiserGreymon smirked as the two met in a manly hug, patting each others’ backs before pulling away and clasping one another’s wrists firmly. “You can say that again. Though, it’s partly to scare AncientGarurumon,” he told him, grinning over at the Warrior of Light.

    AncientGarurumon rolled his eyes and looked at Duftmon. Duftmon nodded tersely. AncientGarurumon nodded back.

    “Right. Well, pleasantries out of the way, this isn’t a social call,” KaiserGreymon said. “Should we go inside? Some of the others are in, but not everybody.”

    “Yeah, sure,” Dynasmon said, letting KaiserGreymon walk past him and type in the passcode to unlock the sturdy, mechanical door leading into the keep. The entrance opened up with a mechanical droning, allowing them to walk into a stone corridor leading in. Once all four were inside, AncientGarurumon pressed a button that closed the door behind them.

    Once at the end of the corridor, they walked into a foyer, much smaller and less extravagant than the Royal Knights’. Instead of marble, it had grey brick flooring and walls. There were a few couches and chairs, along with a rug, for furniture.

    On one of these couches sat a female figure. She wore a blue suit and rainbow-scaled armour over here humanoid body. Instead of the usual fish-like tail that AncientMermaidmon would sport, she had a pair of slender legs that she would use when on land, reserving her more aquatic body for when she was swimming. AncientMermaidmon stood up and brushed her white hair back with a hand upon seeing the four enter.

    “Look what we have here,” she said playfully, looking at the two Royal Knights.

    Dynasmon grinned when he saw the Warrior of Water. “Heeey, Mer,” he greeted with his own playful tone. “You’re looking as beautiful as ever.”

    “Awww, thanks, Dynie,” AncientMermaidmon replied in a sing song voice, walking over to him. She hugged him and then pulled back to look him over. “And you look... okay,” she teased, poking her tongue out at him.

    “You have some pretty high standards if the most handsome of the Royal Knights is only ‘okay’,” Dynasmon responded grinning and folding his arms after returning the hug.

    “I thought that was Alphamon, followed by Dukemon,” she mused, placing her hands on her hips and mock-thinking.

    KaiserGreymon grinned. “She’s spoiled for choice over here when it comes to handsome men that are nice to look at,” he told Dynasmon. “Especially because of me. Don’t you think so, Garuru?” he asked kiddingly, looking at AncientGarurumon.

    “I wouldn’t know,” he replied uninterestedly, walking into another room to their left before KaiserGreymon could drag him into a conversation he didn’t want to be in.

    “Ick, you?” AncientMermaidmon teased the Warrior of Flames as she followed AncientGarurumon into the living room. “I was thinking more PileVolcamon.”

    “You weren’t saying that back when we were an item!” he called out, following them along with Dynasmon and Duftmon.

    Duftmon glanced at Dynasmon blandly. “I thought the pleasantries were supposed to be over...” he dryly stated.

    “Relax, Duftmon. We haven’t seen each other in ages, it feels like,” Dynasmon told him.

    “Two and a half months?”

    “I did say ‘feels like’,” the dragon man answered. Something then drew his attention. “Hey, Atlur! Have you been working on those jokes?”

    A large, blue bug Digimon stood up from one of the couches in the living room. He had been drawing on a piece of paper on the coffee table in front of him. “Hey, Dynasmon. Long time no see,” he said with a wide grin, referencing the fact that he didn’t have eyes for vision in that form, instead using electroreception.

    “Apparently not,” Dynasmon said, chuckling anyways.

    “Heh. Why work on perfection?” AtlurKabuterimon asked. “So, are we having that meeting now?”

    “Please!” Duftmon said, almost desperately.

    “Alright, alright,” KaiserGreymon said. He nudged Dynasmon and whispered, eyeing Duftmon. “Bloody hell, he’s still as uptight as AncientGarurumon, isn’t he?”

    “Probably more so,” Dynasmon whispered back.

    “I heard that,” AncientGarurumon told them, his canine ear twitching.

    “As did I,” Duftmon announced with a glare.

    Sheepishly, KaiserGreymon scratched the back of his head and grinned, heading towards the door on the far end of the right hand wall, which led out to a hallway. “Er. Right. Let’s gather in the war room, shall we?” he asked.

    The six headed for the door. Dynasmon went ahead and held the door open for AncientMermaidmon, smiling broadly as he did.

    “Such a chivalrous Royal Knight,” she teased, raising her index finger and playfully dragging the soft tip across his chin, winking as she passed him.

    “Only for beautiful women,” he told her, winking back.

    “That, I can believe,” Duftmon muttered.

    AtlurKabuterimon followed AncientMermaidmon through the doorway, allowing Dynasmon to hold the door for him as well. “Why, thank you kind sir,” he told him with a broad smile. His fearsome mouth grinned ironically. “Can I offer you a kiss for your services?”

    Dynasmon laughed. “Try it and I’m calling the Royal Knights for reinforcements; I’ll tell them you’re trying to eat me.”

    The insect Digimon chuckled and passed him. “You really are only chivalrous to the girls,” he replied.

    Dynasmon followed him. “And I here I thought you were saving yourself for –YOW!” the dragon man shouted when a soft current of electricity shot through his hand and travelled up his arm, surprising him for than anything else.

    “Whoops. Sorry!” the Warrior of Thunder apologized insincerely, making a point to grin over his shoulder at Dynasmon.

    The group went into the first door on the left. The war room was not unlike that of the Royal Knights’. It was a bit smaller, but it had the same electronic table in the center. In fact, many of the maps in the table’s databases were based off of the maps that AtlurKabuterimon created, and the table was partially designed by Shurimon, the Warrior of Wood, along with the Royal Knights’ technician, MetallifeKuwagamon, and one or two other collaborators.

    The ninja Digimon in question was already inside the war room when they walked in. Shurimon looked up in surprise. He had been devising mock-tactics on the table, using its three-dimensional feature. “Oh, D-D-D-Duftmon, Dynasmon,” he stammered, taken off guard by their arrival. “Hello.”

    “Hey, Shurimon,” Dynasmon said with a light grin.

    KaiserGreymon stepped forwards to the glowing table. “Right. Shurimon. Do you mind bringing up the map of where we found the rift?” the leader of the Warrior Ten asked his strategist, the strategic table’s blue light casting upon his features.

    “Not at all,” Shurimon said, closing the map that he had been using and getting to work on the table, pressing several buttons in front of him.

    “Now, are you absolutely sure that this is a dark rift?” Duftmon questioned, folding his arms. “The same kind as the one that we found in Dusk Forest?”

    “Small fissure releasing a bunch of dark data?” KaiserGreymon asked with a frown. Duftmon and Dynasmon nodded. “Then yes. I’m pretty bloody sure.”

    “It’s either that or the Digital World sprung a leak,” AtlurKabuterimon suggested with a chuckle.

    “This is serious, AtlurKabuterimon,” AncientGarurumon told the Warrior of Lightning with a serious stare.”

    “Yeah, I’m kinda sensing that,” the insect Digimon replied, scratching the back of his horned head.

    Dynasmon looked around, noting that it was just KaiserGreymon, AncientGarurumon, AncientMermaidmon, AtlurKabuterimon, and Shurimon in the room with them. “Is it just us seven? Not going to call the other five, Kaiser?”

    KaiserGreymon shook his head. “They’re busy doing different things. Besides, this is more for your and Duftmon’s benefit than for ours,” he explained, watching as Shurimon brought up a new map and centered in on a specific location. “We’ve already talked about the rift.”

    “Busy? Alphamon was hoping that Anubismon would come down to look at our rift,” Dynasmon explained.

    “He’s already on his way,” AncientGarurumon answered.

    “PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon are at our rift to make sure that nobody gets corrupted by it,” KaiserGreymon added. “They’ll be there when you two go to check it out.”

    “Has anybody had a dark evolution because of it yet?” Duftmon queried.

    “Luckily not,” AncientMermaidmon said with a shrug. “We heard about what happened with you guys, so everyone knew to be careful.”

    “How’d you guys come across it?” Dynasmon asked their allies.

    “Us!” AtlurKabuterimon cheerfully said, using one of his four arms to point at himself and another to point at AncientMermaidmon.

    “Yeah, we were exploring this deep pit-gorge-thingy. It was full of all these stone pillars. It was pretty cool,” AncientMermaidmon explained. “It was showing on that DADAR thing, so the buggy and I went to look around."

    “Yeah, I marked it down on my map,” AtlurKabuterimon mentioned, pointing over to the map just as Shurimon brought it up.

    Shurimon gestured to the three dimensional representation of the crater-like depression in the ground. It had cliff-like edges all around the perimeter, and was about twenty meters deep. “This is the pit itself,” he explained. He pressed a button and brought up a broader map that was large enough that the deep crater was only an indicated point. “And this is the pit in relation to our headquarters here. You should be able to find it.”

    “Do you have a map that we may take with us?” Duftmon asked. “I fear that Dynasmon need it.”

    “What about you?! Dynasmon shot back defensively.

    Shurimon smiled sheepishly. “Y-Yes, of course. AtlurKabuterimon?”

    “I’ll get ‘em,” the blue bug Digimon responded, walking out of the war room.

    Dynasmon placed his large, clawed hands on his hips and looked over at KaiserGreymon. “So, Kaiser,” he asked. “What do you make of this rift business?”

    “Beyond me, mate,” KaiserGreymon responded. “It doesn’t sound good though. Do you think that—“

    “That it’s the Dark Area?” Dynasmon finished for him. “Maybe... That’s what Alphamon thinks.”

    KaiserGreymon frowned deeply. “Let’s hope not. I’ve had this bad feeling these past few weeks. I wonder if it has to do with my relation to the Digital World’s Dragon Veins...”

    AncientGarurumon was extremely quiet. If one looked really closely, they would be able to tell that the fur on the back of his neck was standing on end.

    “Anyways, if it is the Dark Area, is it the work of someone on the outside, one particular prisoner, or all of the prisoners working together?” KaiserGreymon asked.

    Dynasmon shrugged. “Each of those situations is as unlikely as the others,” he explained. “With the security measures that have been in place for countless years...”

    “Well, maybe it’s not as unlikely as we thought,” the Warrior of Flame replied.

    AncientGarurumon closed his eyes. “I’m going after Anubismon,” he said suddenly.

    Dynasmon looked over. “Oh, okay. So, to the rift in Dusk Forest?”

    KaiserGreymon raised an eyebrow, looking at him with both surprise and intrigue. “But you were just at our rift this morni—“

    “I’m going!” he said sharply, with a touch of anger in his voice. He walked out of the room, not even casting a further glance towards KaiserGreymon.

    KaiserGreymon shrugged and sighed, once again annoyed and mystified by the Warrior of Light.

    “What’s with Garuru?” Dynasmon asked, looking over at KaiserGreymon.

    “Like I’d know,” KaiserGreymon responded. “That mutt’s as moody as women. ...No offence, AncientMermaidmon.”

    “None taken,” she replied in a chipper tone. “I know that guys are as moody as us; you and Garuru are proof of that.”

    “I am not moody!” KaiserGreymon snarled.

    “He said with a growl,” AncientMermaidmon replied, sticking her tongue out at him.

    KaiserGreymon grunted and folded his arms.

    “But seriously, what did you do to your lover this time?” she asked, grinning.

    “FOR THE LAST TIME, WE ARE NOT LOVERS! HIM AND ME?! DISGUSTING!” the dragon shouted heatedly.

    “Then why are you getting so worked up? Hmm?” the Warrior of Water teased.

    “Because you’re talking rubbish, fish brains!” he retorted angrily.

    Dynasmon laughed, but Duftmon merely tapped his foot, annoyed. “May we get going now?” he asked impatiently. “Time is being wasted.”

    “Keep your fur on; I’m back!” AtlurKabuterimon replied, walking in and holding up a map in one of his hands. “Got the map.”

    “Good,” Duftmon spoke, walking over to him.

    “But it’d be faster if I just lead you two there, myself,” AtlurKabuterimon offered, grinning with his broad, fearsome mouth. “With my memory, there’s no chance you two would get lost.”

    Duftmon frowned. He didn’t enjoy the concept of having to put up with AtlurKabuterimon’s jokes and quips for all that time. “I don’t think that’s necessary—“

    “That’s a good idea, Atlur,” Dynasmon interrupted.

    “In that case, I’ll come too,” KaiserGreymon said. “I want to check on PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon.”

    AtlurKabuterimon sighed dreamily. “Yeah... AncientKazemon...”

    KaiserGreymon and AncientMermaidmon rolled their eyes. “Right. Well. Let’s go. Lead the way, Atlur,” the leader of the Warrior Ten said.

    AtlurKabuterimon smiled and nodded, walking out of the war room. KaiserGreymon adjusted the goggles on his head and followed him.

    “Bye, Dynie,” AncientMermaidmon chimed, waving at the winged dragon man. “Get nice and sweaty, okay?”

    Dynasmon grinned and winked at her. “Oh, I’ll try my best, Mer.”

    “No, he won’t,” Duftmon told her shortly, proceeding to usher Dynasmon out of the room after the Warriors of Flame and Thunder. The leopard knight sighed. “Is it really necessary to bring those two?” he said, looking ahead at their two guides.

    “Yeah, it is,” Dynasmon responded with a contentious smirk. “They happen to be my friends, and they know their way around the northern half of the continent a lot better than we do.”

    “They’ll get in the way,” Duftmon replied.

    Dynasmon snorted. “You know, I can’t tell if this is you being arrogant, anti-social, or both.”

    Duftmon responded only with a ‘hmph’. After a few moments of tense silence, he spoke, “Fine. Have it your own way.”

    Dynasmon nodded and sped up his walking pace so he could talk with his friends. Duftmon quietly watched them from behind. As they left the Warrior Ten’s keep and made their way through the nearby forest, he kept the distance up between them and himself.

    Continued in the next post.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  4. #29
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    (Continued from the previous post.)

    The four Digimon flew through the sky at a steady pace. The warm, mid-afternoon sun glared down in front of them.

    KaiserGreymon took the form of his aerial AncientGreymon form – a large, red-armoured dragon Digimon - which he didn’t use around the headquarters, obviously due to its sheer size. He wore his pair of goggles, which grew in size along with him, over his blue eyes, helping to keep the intense sunlight and the wind resistance from affecting his vision.

    The two Royal Knights and the two warriors flew over a rocky plain that was covered with dirt the colour of a dark, stony brown.

    AtlurKabuterimon flew up beside AncientGreymon, his insect wings beating rhythmically and creating a low droning sound. “We’re almost there,” he explained to the Royal Knights trailing them. “You can see the pit far up ahead.”

    “It’s pretty big,” Dynasmon observed, cupping his hand over his brow to shield his eyes from the sunlight.

    “Yup. It’s about twenty meters deep, almost a kilometer in diameter, and it’s kinda shaped like the inside of a big pot,” AtlurKabuterimon informed them with a light grin.

    “So, the edges are steep,” Duftmon deduced.

    “Yeah. Too steep to climb unless you’re really good at it,” the insect Digimon said. “Luckily we all have wings.”

    “How did PileVolcamon get down there?” Duftmon asked, remembering that those of his species didn’t have wings.

    “He’s the Legendary Warrior of Earth; he used his earth abilities to make a rock staircase,” AtlurKabuterimon replied matter-of-factly.

    “Yeah. You’re supposed to be the genius, Duftmon,” Dynasmon said with a laugh.

    “Who asked you?” Duftmon countered sharply. He folded his arms and looked away.

    “I’m just joking. Don’t have a hissy fit,” Dynasmon answered smugly.

    AtlurKabuterimon laughed aloud. “Heh heh. ‘Hissy’. Not bad, Dynasmon. You’re the cat’s meow,” he added with a chuckle.

    Dynasmon snickered as well. Duftmon, however, did not. “Feline jokes? How positively creative,” the Royal Knights’ strategist commented irately.

    “I think you mean ‘paws’itively creative,” AtlurKabuterimon joked, laughing.

    AncientGreymon rolled his eyes but smirked. “That’s about enough, Atlur,” he told him. He raised his front leg to push his goggles up to his forehead.

    “Fine, but I’ve got about a billion more cat jokes,” the Warrior of Thunder said.

    “All of them as creative and clever as the last, no doubt,” Duftmon murmured sarcastically.

    “Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, Duftmon. It’s not like you don’t insult people,” Dynasmon pointed out. “At least we’re doing it in good fun.”

    “This mission isn’t supposed to be ‘good fun’. We didn’t come here so that you could joke around foolishly and reminisce with your... chums. You’re almost as immature and unprofessional as UlforceVeedramon,” Duftmon chastised. “We don’t even need these two here. We would have been able to find this place well enough on our own. You just felt more at ease in their company, which is no surprise as all.”

    Dynasmon’s usually relaxed expression turned into a fierce glower as soon as Duftmon started insulting his friends as well. “Yeah, sure, Duftmon,” he answered, his voice becoming harsh and scathing. “If being constantly serious, condescending, vile, and having zero friends makes you ‘professional’, then, yeah, you’re the best Royal Knight out of all eleven of us.”

    An uncomfortable silence fell over the four. Duftmon didn’t reply and Dynasmon had nothing else to add. AncientGreymon glanced over at AtlurKabuterimon. AtlurKabuterimon started twiddling the fingers of his four hands with one another.

    “Uh... heh heh. So. Nice weather, huh?” the Warrior of Lightning offered.

    Duftmon finally turned to Dynasmon, ignoring AtlurKabuterimon’s comment and speaking up. “I have no need for friends,” he told him without any emotion in his voice. “I only put up with you all because it’s an unfortunate necessity of my job. I’m the chief strategist of the Royal Knights, and my duties have nothing to do with making friends. Least of all with somebody like you.”

    With that, Duftmon flew down towards the craterous depression just ahead of them. Dynasmon glared at him as he broke away from the ground and descended.

    “Yeesh. He should really stop smiling so much He might strain himself,” AtlurKabuterimon said as the leopard knight flew down. “What’s with him?”

    Dynasmon grunted. “Duftmon’s just so... Duftmon,” he said with a slight growl. “He gets on my nerves sometimes.”

    “I hear you, mate,” AncientGreymon said sympathetically, watching Duftmon go down. “He reminds me a lot of AncientGarurumon.”

    “Please,” Dynasmon scoffed. “You’d be begging for AncientGarurumon after a month with Duftmon.”

    “I don’t know...” the dragon rumbled. “It sounds like he’s getting under your feet. It happens when Digimon spend too much time together.”

    “It’s not just that,” the violet dragon man replied. “I can stand the obsessive-compulsive control freak stuff. I can stand the condescension and the arrogance. But I can’t stand when he insults people who I consider friends.”

    AtlurKabuterimon grinned and clutched where his heart was. “Awww... I’m getting warm fuzzies, aren’t you, Kaiser?”

    “Sure am,” AncientGreymon said with a sly smirk.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes and managed a smile. “The thing is, I know why he’s worse than usual today,” he explained. “He can’t stand the fact that I knew about the Dark Area and he didn’t. It’s a blow to his ego that someone like me knows more than a genius about some things.”

    “Sounds like he’s more insecure than he lets on,” AncientGreymon reasoned.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I don’t know. ’Insecure’ isn’t a word that I’d ever use to describe Duftmon...”

    “Well. Anyways. We should make our descent now. We’re there,” the Warrior of Flame explained, flapping his broad, fiery wings and gliding downwards.

    “Yeah. Before Duftmon starts scolding one of the pillars for not being straight enough,” AtlurKabuterimon joked, descending as well.

    Dynasmon followed their lead and swooped down.

    Before him was an expansive pit, looking just as deep and wide as AtlurKabuterimon said it was. It was, as he said, the shape of the interior of a pot. Its edges were rocky, vertical cliffs which lead down into the crater. However, the most noticeable feature of the rocky depression were the hundred-odd stone pillars jutting up from the bottom of the pit. They stood between fifteen and twenty meters tall, a few meters wide, and they were dispersed all around the crater. What most interested Dynasmon was that they were naturally formed. The collection of rock columns formed almost a sort of stone labyrinth, or it would have if the pillars had been closer together. As it was, there were about five meters between each column; enough space for Dynasmon to fly down, but not enough space for AncientGreymon to descend in his current form.

    “Looks like I’ll have to take the stairs,” AncientGreymon said, becoming engulfed in light as he turned back to his KaiserGreymon form. He landed at the edge of the crater, in front of a set of finely carved stone steps that PileVolcamon had created using his manipulation of the rocky ground, leading down into the crater.

    Dynasmon and AtlurKabuterimon landed beside Duftmon, who was waiting at the bottom of the staircase. KaiserGreymon walked down the steps and met with them. Once at the bottom of the depression, he looked around.

    “I don’t see them,” he observed.

    “Well, the rift’s at the middle of the crater. We won’t be able to see past all these pillars,” AtlurKabuterimon responded to him.

    “Well then, let’s get moving,” Duftmon replied impatiently, walking towards the aggregation of stone.

    AtlurKabuterimon grinned and looked over at KaiserGreymon. “He’s even more impatient than you,” he teased.

    KaiserGreymon rolled his eyes, reached over to grip the stalk of the bug’s horn, and started pulling the Warrior of Thunder towards the collection of pillars.

    “H-Hey! Easy on the horn, Kaiser!” AtlurKabuterimon complained as he was pulled into the forest-like aggregation of rocks.

    Dynasmon looked over at Duftmon and then followed them. Duftmon walked forwards too, although not saying anything to Dynasmon.

    The Digimon made their way around the pillars, all the while looking around for AncientKazemon and PileVolcamon. A soft wind blew down the hole, and it briefly made AtlurKabuterimon think that it was the Warrior of Wind’s doing, but they still didn’t see them.

    “PileVolcamon!” KaiserGreymon shouted out, announcing himself.

    “Kaaaze!” AtlurKabuterimon called out as well, looking for AncientKazemon eagerly.

    “Is your shell nice and shiny for her?” Dynasmon teased.

    “My shell is always nice and shiny,” he responded, sticking his tongue out although ignoring Dynasmon’s intended teasing.

    “PileVolcamon! AncientKazemon!” KaiserGreymon continued calling. “Call out if you can hear me! It’s KaiserGreymon!”

    “Where are they?” AtlurKabuterimon asked.

    “Maybe they went to that nearby town for food,” Dynasmon suggested, looking around and seeing no trace of either Digimon either. “Rockford, was it?”

    “They wouldn’t have both gone and left the rift unattended,” KaiserGreymon replied.

    “I do not like this,” Duftmon proclaimed, frowning with suspicion.

    “Wait, I see a clearing up ahead,” KaiserGreymon announced, speeding up. “That’s where the rift is, right?”

    “Yeah. The rift was in the clearing near the center of the pit,” he replied, jogging after KaiserGreymon.

    KaiserGreymon walked around a couple stone pillars and stopped abruptly at the edge of the clearing. The dragon man’s blue eyes widened.

    “****! PileVolcamon! AncientKazemon!” he shouted, suddenly breaking into a sprint.

    AtlurKabuterimon grew worried and ran after him, followed by Dynasmon and Duftmon. He darted into the clearing and stopped. The lithe, humanoid body of AncientKazemon was lying on her side in the middle of the clearing, unconscious. There were large, brown, swelling bruises on her skin.

    PileVolcamon was at the left edge of the clearing, in a similar state. He sat upright with his back against one of the stone pillars, blood dripping from his face and his muscular, armoured body bruised and dented in various places. He was barely holding onto consciousness.

    “AncientKazemon!” AtlurKabuterimon shouted in worry, rushing over to her side. He dropped to his knees beside her and checked her vital signs. “I-I think she’s just unconscious,” he said with only mild relief in his otherwise anxious and upset voice. As he did this, KaiserGreymon rushed over to PileVolcamon’s side. “Kaiser! How is he?!”

    “Beaten up,” KaiserGreymon replied shortly, getting down beside the black-armoured figure. “PileVolcamon! It’s me! Kaiser! Are you alright? What the bloody hell happened?!”

    PileVolcamon released a groggy, pained groan. He slowly turned his yellow eyes up towards the dragon man. “I don’t... know...” he responded breathily, the pain obvious in his weary voice. “The... rift... More data... Something came... It happened so fast. Couldn’t... react fast enough...”

    As he spoke, PileVolcamon grimaced with pain. KaiserGreymon put his hand gently on his shoulder. “Don’t strain yourself, mate,” he told the Warrior of Earth. “Something happened with the rift?”

    “The rift...” Duftmon suddenly said, looking around the clearing.

    Dynasmon raised his eyebrow at his comrade’s words and looked around as well.

    The leopard knight observed the scene with a scrutinizing set of eyes. The clearing had numerous stone spikes jutting out from the rocky ground, surrounded by dislodged dirt and rocks, along with some patches of mud here and there. It looked like PileVolcamon was able to get one attack in before he was taken down, but there was no real pattern to the earth manipulation and it extended to outside the clearing for a couple meters as well; it was as if he shot the spikes up randomly and at no specific target.

    “They were ambushed,” Duftmon deduced. “AncientKazemon was taken out first and PileVolcamon shortly after. It happened quickly.”

    “But how?!” KaiserGreymon asked sharply. “They’re members of the Warrior Ten! They’re not taken down so easily!”

    “It was strong... and fast...” PileVolcamon told him weakly. “Couldn’t see it. Only black...”

    “Damn it,” KaiserGreymon snarled. “I knew I had a bad feeling in my gut about something. Something felt off in the dragon veins of the Digital World.”

    “I suppose there is a certain proximate relation between leylines and the Dark Area, however...” Duftmon trailed off, folding his arms as he withdrew into thought.

    Dynasmon frowned. “It must have been damn strong to take them both down. But what did this?”

    “You’re asking the wrong question, Dynasmon,” Duftmon told him, glaring deeply at the middle of the clearing.

    AtlurKabuterimon pulled AncientKazemon into his four arms, gently picking her up. He then started looking around the clearing frantically. “...Where’s the rift?!” he asked.

    “The rift?” Dynasmon asked, blinking and looking around.

    “He said it was in this clearing,” Duftmon replied, having noticed it wasn’t there as well.

    “It’s gone!” AtlurKabuterimon exclaimed, getting to his feet and looking all around. “It was right here where I’m standing!”

    PileVolcamon grimaced and put his large hand on KaiserGreymon’s arm, squeezing tightly. “It came from the rift...” he told him in a pained, husky voice. “Rift disappeared... afterwards...”

    KaiserGreymon’s eyes widened. “It... what?” he asked.

    Dynasmon froze and looked at Duftmon, who began glaring even harder than before. “Something... came from inside the rift?” Duftmon asked.

    “Something escaped from the Dark Area,” Dynasmon answered, sneering with worry.

    “You have got to be joking...” KaiserGreymon said, putting PileVolcamon’s arm around his neck and lugging the heavy warrior to his feet.

    “That would explain why it was powerful enough to do this to your friends,” Duftmon responded, drawing his rapier, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi. “The rift must have closed up again as soon as the prisoner was free.”

    Dynasmon stretched out his claws, and wisps of white energy began to dance on his back, ready to summon Wyvern for his Breath of Wyvern attack if necessary. “KaiserGreymon!” he called out to his friend. “You and Atlur take PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon back to your base! Duftmon and I will look around here!”

    KaiserGreymon frowned, looking at PileVolcamon’s beaten form and then back at Dynasmon uncertainly. “Are you sure? If the prisoner did this to them...”

    “You need to look after your friends,” Dynasmon told him with steely determination. “We’ll be fine. We’ll retreat back to your base if we need to. Gather as many of the Ten of you can. We’re facing a terrible power here.”

    KaiserGreymon paused for a few moments, but soon nodded. “Fine... but if you get hurt, I’m going to kill you, Dynasmon.”

    Dynasmon allowed for a small smirk. “Are you saying I’m reckless? I think that’s the pot call the kettle black, Kaiser.”

    KaiserGreymon grinned a bit, but soon turned to AtlurKabuterimon. “We’ll carry these two to the top of the stairs and then get them on my back so I can fly us home.”

    AtlurKabuterimon nodded, still looking at AncientKazemon with worry. “Let’s get outta here. Good luck, guys.”

    Dynasmon nodded as the two started helping their friends through the crater, back the way they came. As soon as they disappeared behind the rock columns, the dragon man’s face became serious again.

    “This is not good,” he spoke in a growl, his red eyes flashing with nervous anger. “Alphamon needs to hear about this. The world isn’t safe...”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  5. #30
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    (So close to a single post this time. Sigh.)

    Like Night and Day (Part II)

    A few hours later, Duftmon and Dynasmon returned to the Warrior Ten’s headquarters. Their search around the area proved fruitless, and night was approaching, which would make their job even more difficult. They saw nothing apart from a few footprints, but the trail disappeared quickly thanks to the rocky terrain. The two Royal Knights decided to go back to their allies as evening set in, hoping to get a grasp of the situation.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon stood with the Warrior Ten in their communications room, located in the underground level of their base. With them were four members of the Warrior Ten: KaiserGreymon, Shurimon, AtlurKabuterimon, and Wisemon. AncientMermaidmon was away, in the process of healing AncientKazemon and PileVolcamon’s injuries using her MarineAngemon form. Anubismon and AncientGarurumon were still out, inspecting the dark rift in Dusk Forest, and Korikakumon was on his way back from errands.

    “So, you two came up with nothing?” KaiserGreymon asked.

    “Unfortunately,” Dynasmon replied, sighing and leaning against the wall. “We searched for a few hours and then it started to get dark. Even Duftmon’s leopard eyes wouldn’t have been much help; there just wasn’t a trail to go off of.”

    “You passed by Rockford and Auguria on the way back, right?” AtlurKabuterimon asked.

    “Yeah. They were as normal as ever,” Dynasmon responded.

    “So, I guess it wasn’t one of the super-destructive Digimon that escaped the Dark Area, or we would’ve heard about it by now,” the Warrior of Thunder deduced.

    “Excellent ratiocination, AddledKabuterimon!” Wisemon announced. The robed, humanoid Digimon placing his hands on his hips and his bright, enthusiastic yellow eyes twinkled behind his shadowed visage. “If a brainless, barbarous, cataclysmic creature had escaped his prison, we surely would have heard the sounds of destruction by now!” he said gleefully.

    “...Ratio-what?” Dynasmon asked, looking over at Duftmon.

    “Logic,” he responded shortly.

    “Yes, what Daftmon has said!” the old, yet energetic Wisemon jovially said, once again forgetting one of their names.

    “Duftmon,” the brown-armoured Royal Knight corrected in annoyance. He turned to Shurimon, who was sitting in front of the computer. “Shurimon, have you gotten through to our headquarters yet?”

    “I’m afraid not. There d-d-doesn’t seem to be anybody answering the communication I sent,” he replied sheepishly, glancing up at the opened Spyke program.

    “We can’t just sit around here and do nothing,” KaiserGreymon said restlessly.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I agree, but we have no idea how to find whatever escaped from the rift.”

    Duftmon nodded. “At least if it were a Digimon causing a spree of destruction we would know where to find it.”

    KaiserGreymon gave him a look. “Don’t say that,” he told him.

    “There’s also the fact that we need to tell the other Royal Knights about this,” Dynasmon explained frowning with frustration. “And what about that dark rift in Dusk Forest? Did something come out of there too? Is it even still there?”

    KaiserGreymon gritted his teeth with concern. “AncientGarurumon and Anubismon are there...” he said, using anger to cover his worry.

    “It’s possible that it remained the same or that it simply closed at the same time as the other rift,” Duftmon suggested. “We ought to go back to our headquarters and perhaps check on the way.”

    “And forget about that Digimon?” Dynasmon asked, staring over at Duftmon incredulously.

    “For the time being,” Duftmon replied coolly. “Like you said, we have no idea where it is or where it is going.”

    Wisemon raised his hand to stroke his chin. “If only there were a way to track that fiend...” he mused. After a few moments, his face lit up. “Eureka! Sherbetmon!”

    Shurimon stood up and turned around, an idea forming in his mind as well. “We could use the DADAR system!” he explained.

    “Exactly!” the Warrior of Steel chimed.

    “The thing that detects abnormal data readings?” Dynasmon asked.

    Shurimon nodded. “After nearly overlooking the rift in Dusk Forest, MetallifeKuwagamon has updated the system to be more sensitive to influxes of data,” he explained. “Even though the rift is closed, the Digimon who escaped from the Dark Area should still have vestiges of dark data. Therefore, we should still be able to see where he is. Um, in theory, at least...”

    “Then let’s check,” Duftmon said, walking out of the communications room and walking up the hall to the room on the very left of them.

    They followed him into a room that had a giant computer system inside of it, much like the computer room at the Royal Knights’ headquarters. It was connected to the computer that was in the communications room, powering it, but the two had different functions.

    Shurimon walked in and turned on the computer, going to work at bringing up the DADAR system. Soon, a complicated map of the continent full of coordinates and codes popped up on the large screen. Shurimon pressed several buttons to receive a more specific view of the Data Detection and Ranging system. After about a minute, they were able to see a highlighted wisp on the screen.

    “Is that it?” Dynasmon asked, moving in to get a closer look.

    “I believe so,” Shurimon replied. “It’s moving...”

    “It’s moving south,” AtlurKabuterimon observed.

    “South... Towards our half of the continent,” Dynasmon observed. “Good. Duftmon and I can follow it on our way home.”

    “It has a several hour lead on us,” Duftmon explained sceptically. “And we won’t be able to track it with the DADAR once we leave here.”

    “I know that,” Dynasmon replied sharply. “But this is its first time out of the Dark Area for who knows how many years? It won’t have its bearings. I’m not saying we need to hunt it down on our own, but if we happen to come across it on our way back to the headquarters...”

    “Very well,” Duftmon responded although with his usual tone of indignation.

    “You two be careful,” KaiserGreymon said. “We’ll be vigilant up here. Just call if you need any assistance in taking him down or anything else.”

    “Thanks, Kaiser,” Dynasmon said, reaching over and shaking his hand. “I appreciate it.”

    KaiserGreymon grinned and returned the handshake. “Kick some ***, mate.”

    Dynasmon smirked and let go. “This is me you’re talking to.” He turned to Duftmon. “Are you ready to head home? It’s a long flight.”

    Duftmon gave a short, affirming nod. “I’m ready to go.”

    Dynasmon scratched the back of his head. “Well, okay, but I’m going to take a piss before we leave.”

    The leopard knight stared at him with annoyed exasperation. “That is entirely too much information.”

    KaiserGreymon and AtlurKabuterimon chuckled. “Down the hall, Dynasmon.”

    “Thanks...” he said sheepishly.

    He walked out of the room and began to wander down the hall. “I guess now it would be inappropriate for me to flirt with AncientMermaidmon before I leave,” he thought to himself. He wasn’t really in the mood for flirting anyways with the dark cloud that was hanging over everybody with the realisation that a prisoner of the Dark Area has escaped. “Hopefully when this situation clears up again...

    -

    Dynasmon and Duftmon flew through the air, under the cover of nightfall. The stars twinkled in the dark sky, and the black void sported two full moons.

    The two Royal Knights had been very quiet during their return flight, barely speaking at all to each other. It was a lot different from their journey up, where there were frequent arguments and debates. Now there was just silence... although it was up for debate whether it was due to ill-feelings or due to their discovery of the rift. They had been flying for four and a half hours, and they were now back in the Free Area.

    “Double full moons,” Dynasmon mused, breaking the silence. He was looking up at the sky. “Some Digimon say that it’s bad luck...”

    “If you believe that nonsense...” Duftmon replied dismissively.

    Dynasmon glanced at him with annoyance. “I don’t, actually... but you don’t have to be so haughty all the time. You’re not doing yourself any favours by looking down your nose at everyone,” he told him.

    “Even if they deserve it?” Duftmon asked, leering back at him.

    “Even if they’re dumber than you,” Dynasmon answered. “Besides, a Digimon’s worth isn’t defined by their intelligence.”

    “Then what do you believe they’re defined by?” Duftmon queried.

    Dynasmon frowned. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I do know that you can’t just judge a Digimon based on one aspect alone, like intelligence or appearance or power. There’s all sorts of things that make a Digimon who he or she is. Sleipmon’s more than just a horse, Examon’s more than just a dragon, Rhodo’s more than just gay, Dukemon’s more than just the holder of the Digital Hazard, and I’m more than just a ******* who has trouble getting up in the mornings.”

    “Are you?” Duftmon dryly quipped.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes. “For a genius, you’re sure damn close-minded...” he muttered.

    “Humph,” the tactician merely hummed in indignation.

    With that scoff, a silence overtook them again, and they were once again graced by the sounds of the brisk night breeze and the sounds of their beating wings.

    The stiff quietness continued for several minutes. Dynasmon dwelled on his thoughts, and eventually felt the need to voice them. “Did you really mean what you said?” he asked with a serious voice.

    Duftmon looked over. “I am not telepathic. You’re going to have to specify what you mean, Dynasmon,” he explained, looking over despite a few strands of his blonde hair blowing in his face.

    “That you don’t need friends,” he explained. “And that you don’t even view us fellow Royal Knights as friends.”

    Duftmon paused. “If I’m to be honest... yes. I did mean what I said,” he replied, having never been one to lie.

    Dynasmon clenched his fists a bit, trying not to feel offended. “That’s... sad,” he told his fellow Royal Knight in a voice traced with pity.

    The leopard knight looked over at him with a scrutinizing gaze. “...Why is it sad?” he asked with an honest obliviousness in his tone and eyes. He frowned with peevish vexation. “Are you... pitying me?”

    The dragon knight opened his mouth to say that he wasn’t, but upon thinking about, he stopped. “I guess I am...” he admitted. “The fact that you don’t consider anybody a friend...”

    Duftmon’s green eyes narrowed slightly as he looked at Dynasmon. “...You see, Dynasmon?” he asked, even then, a shade of smugness was mixed in with his dulled, tempered outrage. “You’re a hypocrite. You’re judging me – looking down on me – because of the amount of ‘friends’ that I have. You believe that a Digimon’s worth is measured in the amount of friends that they have. How is that any different from my judgments?”

    Dynasmon sneered. “I never said that,” he protested. “I just think it’s sad.”

    “As I think it’s sad when the name of the Royal Knights – this continent’s prime and exalted deterrent force – is sullied when a six-legged horse or an oversized dragon joins our ranks,” he explained.

    A growl escaped Dynasmon’s mouth. “That’s not the same at all!”

    “Why is it not?” Duftmon asked.

    Dynasmon snarled with frustration as he tried and failed to think of a counter argument. “It... It just isn’t! I can’t explain it; I don’t have the logic and argument skills that you have, Duftmon, but that doesn’t make me wrong and you right either!”

    “If you say so,” Duftmon responded coolly.

    The dragon’s angry red eyes remain firmly planted on Duftmon’s figure, even as the leopard knight turned away. “If we’re not your friends, and you apparently can’t stand the sight of us, then why are you even part of the Royal Knights, Duftmon?” he asked him. “Why not just quit?”

    “Do you want me to quit?” Duftmon asked him inquisitively, looking back over.

    “No, I’m just asking,” Dynasmon replied, although part of him wasn’t sure why he didn’t just say ‘yes’.

    Duftmon folded his arms, thinking for a few moments about his response. “I want to be a part of the Royal Knights. It’s a prestigious order which protects the Digital World using the principles of intervention and deterrence theory. It allows me to actually put into action all of my studies from the esteemed Xuanwumon University instead of simply debating it with mentors and alumni.”

    Dynasmon eyed him carefully. “So, which is it? Being in a prestigious order? Protecting the Digital World? Or your intellectual pursuits?” he asked.

    “All of them, I suppose,” he responded, somewhat defensively. “I know that the common consensus among you all is that I am selfish, but I do happen to care about protecting the Digital World.”

    “I never said you didn’t,” Dynasmon answered. “But it seems strange that you’d stick around if we’re all so... – I don’t know – bothersome. You never socialize with us outside of missions.”

    “On a social level, no, I don’t. I prefer reading a good book than partaking in frivolous group activities. However, I hold you all on a strictly professional level. I do admit that most of you have your uses,” the lithe knight explained. “You are Royal Knights, after all.”

    “Our uses? It’s like you view us as tools,” Dynasmon said, raising an eyebrow.

    “Royal Knights are here to do a job, aren’t we?” Duftmon told him. “We’re not Royal Knights to be part of a social club; we’re here to provide order and stability to the Digital World, and do what it takes to stamp out evil.”

    Dynasmon slowly narrowed his red eyes with a slight grimace. “Somebody else once said that too...” he spoke in a near mutter.

    “Pardon?” Duftmon asked him.

    “Nothing...” he told him.

    “Well, like I said, I’m a tactician. It is my job to see that all of the pieces move in a precise, orderly way to ensure our success on the battlefield,” the leopard knight said.

    “Pieces? We’re not pawns for you to play with like back at your university, Duftmon,” Dynasmon challenged harshly.

    “I’m simply doing my job, Dynasmon,” Duftmon countered. “I’m pragmatic. We all have roles to play in every operation. Our roles are dangerous ones, but we volunteered for the job. All of us did.”

    “I hate when people say ‘pragmatic’ like it’s something to be proud of. It’s just an excuse to do amoral things when it comes down to it,” Dynasmon retorted, leering at him. “And I know it’s dangerous; that’s exactly why you can’t just view us as chess pieces. That’s why holding us at a professional level is dangerous. You may not view the others as friends, but I do, and I don’t want them getting hurt.”

    “In my opinion, Dynasmon, you’re much too fixated on the concept of friendship,” Duftmon told him with a stoic gaze.

    Dynasmon arched an eyebrow. “I am?” he asked.

    “Yes,” the tactician responded. “You’re extremely loyal to them. To a fault. I’ve seen you do foolish, reckless things to protect your friends, even risking your own life to do so. You also lash out at those who mistreat your friends, even when you shouldn’t step in at all.”

    “You’d think that would be a good thing,” Dynasmon countered, frowning again.

    “You burden yourself,” Duftmon explained. “You’re burdened a lot more than I am. What happens if one of the Royal Knights or one of the Warrior Ten dies in the line of duty? It’s entirely possible, given how dangerous our jobs are. It would impact you severely. You could fall into a deep depression, whereas I—“

    “Wouldn’t care?” Dynasmon finished for him, glaring. “So caring is a flaw?”

    “To me, yes. To you, obviously not. To you, pragmatism is a flaw. To me, it isn’t,” Duftmon explained. “I think you’re wrong, but you’re obviously of a different opinion. I doubt anything I can do could change that. So, just don’t let it get in the way of my tactics, understood?”

    Dynasmon scoffed. “Just as long as you don’t get sour at being out of the loop,” he retorted, taking a jab at what he suspected was Duftmon’s reason for his mood recently. “All you had to do was ask me about the Dark Area.”

    Duftmon narrowed his eyes and sped up his flight, ignoring Dynasmon.

    Dynasmon took satisfaction in knowing that he was able to get under his comrade’s skin.

    However, his grin vanished when he looked into the distance. Far off, in the shadowy distance, he could see a faint orange glow lighting up the night. “Hey, Duftmon. What is that?” he asked, quickly forgetting that he was angry at him.

    “I’m not sure,” Duftmon answered. He squinted his eyes and gazed into the distance, trying to make out the eerie glow within the darkness. “Could it be... fire?”

    “Yeah, that’s exactly what it looks like,” Dynasmon said with a serious expression. He turned to Duftmon. “Let’s go.”

    He beat his large, purple wings powerfully and flew towards the fiery glow at a faster speed.

    Duftmon nodded and started to fly closer to the ground. His body became encased with light. “Mode Change! Duftmon: Leopard Mode!” he announced.

    From the flash of light burst a brown-armoured leopard, dashing across the grasslands on four strong legs. His blonde mane soared behind him as he took on impressive speeds. He flapped the two large, white, feathery wings on the hips of his hind legs which propelled him back into the air at a velocity that surpassed Dynasmon.

    “Don’t rush in, Dynasmon,” Duftmon: Leopard Mode told him as he passed the dragon. “I’m going ahead to survey the situation. I’ll have a plan ready by the time you get there.”

    “Fine,” Dynasmon begrudgingly agreed. He was still peeved with the leopard Digimon, but he knew it would be stupid and petty not to listen to his tactics. He didn’t always approve of Duftmon, but he knew that his tactics were some of the best.

    Dynasmon watched as Duftmon: Leopard Mode rushed ahead of him. As he disappeared into the darkness, Dynasmon couldn’t help but mutter to himself with a chuckle, “I still don’t know how you looked down at Sleipmon for being a beast Digimon when you have your Leopard Mode stashed away.” The dragon’s expression soon grew serious again. “I just hope that it isn’t that escaped prisoner that caused that fire...”

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode flew swiftly through the air. As he soared across the night sky, he carefully scanned the area with his keen, red, feline eyes. He saw nothing out of the ordinary apart from the fire ahead of him.

    As he drew closer, he could see that the fire wasn’t isolated; a quarter of a town was ablaze. Duftmon hissed a bit and swooped down the top of a small, grassy hill, landing on his four paws. He had to squint at the bright flames as he inspected the burning village. Even though the town was still about fifty meters away, he could still smell the pungent aroma of smoke and feel the heat of the flames warming him underneath his fur.

    Amidst the villagers’ shouts and screams of terror, he could hear loud, aggressive, raucous voices behind the flames.

    Raiders...” he thought to himself, sneering.

    He scanned the town and its surrounding terrain, thinking carefully about what to do. Due to the flames and the buildings blocking his vision, he was unable to see the raiders, or the villagers, for that matter. “I’ll need an aerial view to understand the situation,” Duftmon thought to himself. “They won’t be able to spot me against the night sky with the intensity of the flames on the ground.

    Duftmon bounded from the crest of the hill with feline grace, and flapped his wings to fly higher into the sky. He glided over the scorching town, surveying it with a scrutinizing gaze. He ignored the stinging sensation in his eyes as he flew through a pillar of smoke, focusing intensely on what was below. From what he could see, the fire was primarily around the east edge of the town. That’s where the small bandit force was. There were nine, from what he could tell. Duftmon could see them pillaging the town and destroying buildings in search of loot. As a result, the civilian Digimon were all fleeing to the west. He looked behind him. He knew that Dynasmon would be coming from the north any minute now, so he decided to circle around and head back to the hill.

    The leopard flapped his wings and flew back. He could see Dynasmon by the fiery reflection in his white armour as he closed in on him. Dynasmon flew down and landed beside the feline.

    “The town...” Dynasmon said concernedly, looking past Duftmon as the blaze. “What did you find out?”

    “It’s a raid by bandits,” Duftmon explained. He turned around and pointed with his paw to the left. “The raiders are over there on the east end of the village. The civilians are heading west in retreat.”

    “So, I guess it doesn’t have anything to do with our fugitive?” the dragon asked.

    “I highly doubt it,” Duftmon told him. “It seems implausible that the first thing he would do upon coming out is convince a bunch of bandits to attack a strategically insignificant town.”

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon said. “Do you have a plan?” He looked at the feline Digimon, his body language indicating that he was ready to go into action.

    “Yes. I’m going to use Wolkenkratzer to seal off their exit from the east. I’ll then jump down to deal with them. Naturally, they will head westward to retreat or use the civilians as hostages. That’s why I want you to move in from the west side of the village. You can cover the villagers and advance eastward to cut off the raiders’ retreat. We’ll surround them,” Duftmon explained, detailing his tactics to him. “You can use Breath of Wyvern to finish them off and suffocate the fires.”

    “Okay,” Dynasmon agreed.

    “And don’t take too long,” Duftmon said. “There are about nine of them. I may be stronger than them, but when there’s nine Digimon of any level swarming you alone, it’s hard to think properly and react efficiently.”

    “I got it,” the dragon man said. “Just say when to start.”

    Duftmon turned around and gazed at the burning village. “Three. Two. One. Commence the attack.”

    Dynasmon and Duftmon: Leopard Mode were off in a flash. Duftmon raced to the left, dashing down the hill, while Dynasmon started circling around the right end of the village by air.

    Duftmon reached the edge of town as the soft breeze blew smoke and glowing cinders in his path. He pounced into the air. “Wolkenkratzer!” he called out confidently.

    The ground began to tremble and tremor, enough to cause one of the burning buildings to collapse in a burst of embers. The bandits and town Digimon alike looked around with surprise and fear. Suddenly, a tower of stone exploded from the ground, much like the ones from the crater they visited earlier, except this one was created by Duftmon. It rose ten feet into the air before another rock column just beside it burst from the ground and rose up even higher.

    The process continued; Duftmon continued creating a rock staircase, high into the air. The stone pillars were rough, jagged, and thick. They burst from the ground and rose up vertically, going as high as nine meters. Bits of grass, earth, and rock fell from the columns as they shot up from below. The towers of bedrock were locked close together so that not even skinny humanoid Digimon could pass by them. They formed a full semi circle around the eastern edge of the town.

    Duftmon stopped at the middle of the semicircular wall, at its highest point, and gazed down. The bandits turned around with shock, trying to see where the huge wall suddenly came from.

    The large, green, reptilian body of a Tuskmon turned around. “What the hell is going on?!” he demanded, craning his head to look up at the wall that suddenly appeared behind he and his raiders.

    “Who’s up there?!” another of the raiders asked, trying to see past the bright flames to identify the shadowy figure at the top of the barrier.

    “I am Duftmon of the Royal Knights!” he announced, glaring down at them with shining feline eyes. “It is my duty to punish you for breaching our laws and attacking innocent Digimon.” He turned fully on the rocky column to face them, digging his crimson claws into the rock. “Now you shall suffer the consequences.”

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode leapt off of the pillar and descended on them, hurdling through the smoke. “Blockade!”

    A Fangmon bandit’s eyes widened as Duftmon lunged upon them at high velocity. “It’s a Royal Knigh-YAHH!” he screamed in pain as Duftmon ran by him, ripping across his wolf-like form with the jagged, blue spikes that protruded from his neck and forelegs.

    Duftmon continued past the raider as he burst into data, speeding down the orange-hued, stone street to put himself between most of the bandits and the rest of the village and its villagers. “Eroberung!” he announced. He skidded to a stop, turning around mid-slide, and lashed his tail out. The yellow, spherical tip of his tail glowed and released several gleaming globes of swirling, compressed energy. The spheres flowed out across the street behind him, putting another set of obstacles between the bandits and their way out.

    Tuskmon quickly turned around to face him in a lumbering fashion. He gritted his teeth with anxiety, and looked over his horned shoulder at the wall behind them. He knew that they were trapped and they would have to get past Duftmon to escape. He didn’t fancy their chances in battle with him, but they didn’t have a choice.

    “They’re the ones that took down that BanchoLeomon!” one of the raiders announced in fear.

    “Attack!” the Tuskmon leader yelled. “There’s only one of him! Pin that kitty down and he’ll be helpless before us! Everyone at once!”

    To make a point of solidarity, he charged Duftmon first. He didn’t want his fellow bandits trying to flee and leaving him the only one against Duftmon.

    “Wait, what are those yellow things behind him?!” the pink, scythe-armed form of a Kyuukimon asked his boss, reluctantly rushing towards Duftmon as well.

    “Here’s a tip!” Tuskmon told him sarcastically. “Don’t touch them!”

    Duftmon watched as they began to charge him. “Fools,” he muttered. The armoured leopard narrowed his eyes and bolted into action as the six bandits closed in on him.

    -

    Dynasmon hovered over a busy street, coordinating the safe evacuation of the scared civilians.

    “This way! This way!” he told the hundred or so Digimon before him. “Get to safety this way in an orderly manner! Don’t rush and be mindful of the Digimon around you. You’re under the Royal Knights’ protection.”

    “There are two bandits still behind us!” a Digimon yelled to him in worry.

    Dynasmon flew forwards promptly getting behind the last of the civilians protectively. He looked down the street, towards the distant flames, and saw a Vamdemon and a MachGaogamon rushing towards him.

    “With a Royal Knight here, it’s every ‘mon for themselves,” the MachGaogamon told the other raider. “The others are on their own.”

    “I don’t care,” the Vamdemon replied. “Just as long as I can kill some Digimon before I’m taken down too.”

    “Oh, I wouldn’t do that, guys,” Dynasmon explained, dropping down in front of them and landing on the street.

    “Crap! Another!” MachGaogamon exclaimed, wide eyed and skidding to a halt. His face scrunched with anger. “Howling Cannon!”

    He opened his maw and let loose an ear piercing howl from his mouth. Hypersonic waves blasted towards Dynasmon, ripping up the street. Dynasmon sneered and was suddenly very wary of the villagers escaping behind him; if he moved to avoid the attack, they might be in danger.

    Instead, he crossed his arms in front of him and took the blast. Despite being a Mega level in chrome digizoid armour, it still hurt. The sonic attack bombarded his eardrums and the shock wave itself pounded into him. It felt like flying into a brick wall. Dynasmon staggered backwards, grunting, but he managed to keep himself from falling.

    Next, Vamdemon rushed forwards for an attack. “Bloody Stream!” he called out, summoning a long, crimson whip in his hand that he brought down towards Dynasmon.

    Dynasmon raised his left arm to block the attack. The burning, crimson energy whip wrapped around Dynasmon’s forearm a couple of times. The dragon knight sneered and held against the pulling. “You two are getting on my nerves,” he told them.

    With a mighty pull of his arm, he yanked Vamdemon towards him by the whip, strongly and sharply enough to pull him off his feet. Dynasmon wound back his arm and thrust his fist into the vampire’s face, ending him flying back and extinguishing the whip around Dynasmon’s arm.

    Dynasmon then raised his hands and outstretched his palms, pointing the red lenses in his hands at the two raiders.

    “Dragon Thrower!” he called out with a firm, clear voice. The gems in his palms glowed and suddenly exploded with energy. A stream of blazing energy ripped from his left hand and consumed the MachGaogamon, destroying him. At the same time, from his right hand pulsed a torrent of light, which pierced through the Vamdemon’s body and burnt him to data from the inside out.

    With the two bandits gone, Dynasmon was free to go down the long street to back up Duftmon. He started to flap his wings, but a voice called out from behind him.

    “Dynasmon! Dynasmon! Please, help!” the frantic voice of a Snimon shouted out.

    Dynasmon turned around questioningly. He saw the Snimon looking between the Royal Knight and a burning building with a look of terror on his face. He didn’t seem to be harmed, but the dragon could tell that something was definitely wrong. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

    “It’s my son! He’s trapped inside the house! Please, help him!” he begged, pointing with one of his scythed arms to burning house he was facing.

    The Royal Knight rushed over, pushing the Snimon away as the blaze suddenly came pouring out the window at him. “Are you sure?!” he demanded, looking at the fiery house.

    “Positive! A stray attack hit the house and we got separated!” he told him desperately.

    Dynasmon frowned with concern. He listened and could hear a young voice coughing from inside, confirming to him that there was someone inside. “Duftmon can wait,| he thought to himself. “I need to save that little guy.

    With a powerful swipe he crushed the burning door with his fist and made his way inside. Fire coated the walls of the large house and the top half of the room was filled with smoke. Dynasmon trudged deeper into wide room and saw a terrified Kunemon hugging the ground tightly.

    “D-Daddy?” the young Digimon asked in a trembling voice, looking over at the approaching figure, having trouble making out who it was.

    “No, it’s Dynasmon. I’m a Royal Knight,” he reassured him. He reached out his large hand to him. “Your dad is safe outside. Do you want to come with me?”

    The Kunemon looked uncertain. However, he heard the popping and crackling of fire, as well as the sound of wood beginning to break, and quickly jumped into Dynasmon’s hand, hugging his thumb tightly.

    Dynasmon smiled slightly and raced out of the house to where the Snimon was waiting anxiously. “Here he is,” Dynasmon said to him, offering his hand out.

    “Kunemon!” Snimon exclaimed with relief. He rushed over to Dynasmon.

    “Daddy!” the Kunemon replied, leaping from Dynasmon’s hand and onto the mantis’ chest.

    “Thank you so much, Dynas-!” the Snimon was cut off by the sound of the interior of the house collapsing in on itself, causing even more flames and smoke to flow into the air.

    “You two need to get to safety. It’s still dangerous here,” Dynasmon told them.

    “R-Right,” the Snimon said, quickly flying off after the rest of the civilians.

    Dynasmon eyed them for a few moments before he turned to the opposite direction. He frowned and flapped his wings mightily, flying into the air. “Now to back up Duftmon. That didn’t take too long, right?

    -

    Duftmon: Leopard Mode was glaring furiously. “Where in the hell is that horn-brained moron?!” Duftmon internally demanded while nimbly but gracelessly ducking under a might swipe of the Tuskmon’s claws.

    Without getting a chance to breathe, he then scampered away just in time to avoid being crushed by a Zudomon raider’s descending Chrondigizoit hammer. The mallet collided with the stone street and erupted with sparks, narrowing missing his tail. Duftmon dashed forwards but suddenly bolted awkwardly to the left to avoid being grabbed by a MasterTyrannomon.

    “Wolkenkratzer!” he shouted, raising a rocky pillar to separate himself from his opponents. He needed to get his bearings; acting purely on impulse in battle was something that Duftmon absolutely abhorred.

    He panted slightly and looked around impatiently. “Where is he?” he whispered under his breath. “Even with those two bandits who were closer to the west side of the village, it shouldn’t take him this long.

    Duftmon circled around in a cat-like fashion to put more distance between himself and his foes. He had taken out three of the seven, but four still remained, and they weren’t giving him a chance to breathe. It angered him to admit that they weren’t terrible tactics on the part of the bandits. He had underestimated their response; however, that part he didn’t admit.

    What angered Duftmon even more was the fact that they had gotten a hit in on him. There was a deep slash in his armour at the shoulder of his left foreleg. The Kyuukimon managed to get in a good hit right before Duftmon killed him. Duftmon shoulder’s stung with pain, and he could feel the warm trickle of blood inside his armour. Although he didn’t think that the cut was very deep, it did affect his agility.

    “That idiot dragon,” he hissed to himself.

    No more than a second later, the Zudomon smashed through the pillar of rock with his giant hammer.

    “Found you, kit-“

    “Wolkenkratzer!” Duftmon spoke, summoning another pillar of rock in the place of the one that was just destroyer. The thick, stone column shot upwards and slugged the Zudomon in the chin, also shattering his long tusks in the process. He cried out in agony and clutched his face, staggering backwards and dropping his hammer.

    Duftmon then charged him, pouncing on the Zudomon’s chest and sending him stumbling into one of the glowing spheres he placed with his Eroberung attack. The globe, in fact, was a mine, which detonated as soon as the Zudomon made contact with it. The mine detonated in a blast of energy which shattered the Zudomon’s shell and tore through his form until only scattered data remained.

    “Damnit! Get him!” Tuskmon ordered the MasterTyrannomon and WereGarurumon bandits.

    The two bandits began to charge forwards, but they stopped in their tracks when a strong voice entered their ears.

    “You might want to reconsider that!”

    The three bandits turned around. Duftmon looked as well, although scowling that he had the nerve to show up like that when he was late.

    Dynasmon flew down the street, smirking at the bandits. “The cavalry is here! Dragon Thrower!”

    He aimed his palms at the three bandits and power pulsed out from within them. The attack flew in a double helix spiral towards the three and blasted into the ground before them in a blast of energy, throwing all three of them off of their feet.

    “Duftmon!” he called out.

    Duftmon complied, darting down the street and getting behind Dynasmon, who stopped and landed on the ground.

    The pupils of Dynasmon’s red eyes shrunk and his back became swathed in a fearsome white aura that lit up the dark, fiery street. “Breath of Wyvern!” he roared.

    The white power that flickered and danced around Dynasmon’s back suddenly grew into a massive, fearsome dragon that rose up from his body. The energy dragon had arms, legs, and wings. Wyvern snarled and looked around with his three, dark blue eyes. His gaze landed on the recovering bandits, who gazed up at the dragon with shock.

    “Kill it!” Tuskmon demanded. “Bayonet Lancer!”

    The energy javelins that burst from Tuskmon’s horns sailed towards Wyvern and passed harmlessly through his body, which was made completely of Dynasmon’s energy.

    Wyvern roared savagely and descended on them on his own accord. The dragon tore through Duftmon’s Eroberung mines, detonating them behind him, and sweeping across the three remaining raiders. As he carried them through the air, he spread out his wings, which passed through the burning houses, destroying them and snuffing the flames with his own. Wyvern blasted through the bandits and continued through the rock blockade around the edge of town that Duftmon created. The bandits crashed through the rock and flew out into the grassy exterior, their data breaking apart before they could hit the ground.

    The rocky pillars crashed down noisily, creating a cloud of dirt and dust. The bandits were gone, and the flames were extinguished. When the dirt cleared, Wyvern turned around and looked at Dynasmon, giving him a thumbs up with his fiery claws. Dynasmon grinned and nodded, and Wyvern disappeared in a large wisp of white energy that travelled back to Dynasmon’s body once again.

    “Well, that’s done with,” Dynasmon said aloud. He turned to Duftmon, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry I took a bit longer, I--“

    “You thick dunderhead!” Duftmon shouted, walking up to him. “Where were you?!”

    Dynasmon frowned, annoyed at his tone. “Look, I was saving a kid from a burning building. Plus, I had to get through two bandits. I wasn’t that late.”

    “Oh, really?!” Duftmon replied crossly. He turned to Dynasmon in a way that revealed the deep cut in his armour. Although it was dark, he could see that there was blood beneath the hacked armour thanks to the shimmer of the moonlight in the red liquid. “Late enough for me to get injured.”

    Dynasmon grimaced a bit, feeling somewhat bad. However, he wasn’t going to let Duftmon place all of the blame on him. For all he knew, it was an error on Duftmon’s part. “Maybe you should have been more aware of your surroundings,” Dynasmon suggested, folding his arms in indignation.

    “You’re not seriously blaming me when you’re in the wrong, are you?!” Duftmon asked, scowling.

    “You’re the one who’s the first to blame everybody else,” Dynasmon countered.

    Duftmon glared at him with his cat like eyes. “Mode change!” he said crisply. Dynasmon: Leopard mode shifted back into his humanoid knight form. Upon taking the form, he winced and held his left shoulder with his hand, feeling the wound in this form as well. “I told you not to take too long. I was against seven of them. With all of them attacking me at once, there’s no wonder that they landed a fortunate hit on me. Fortunately for you, I was able to defend myself, so things were not as bad as they could have been.”

    “Look, I’m sorry I was late, but I had to rescue that kid,” Dynasmon told him, glancing over at him. “I assumed you’d be fine for an extra minute or two.”

    You screwed up my tactics, and chaos was the result,” the leopard knight said to him coldly. “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be sporting this gash.”

    “It’s just a cut, Duftmon,” Dynasmon assured him in a mix of annoyance and exasperation.

    Duftmon merely scowled and began walking down the street towards where the civilians were evacuating. Dynasmon rolled his eyes and followed him.

    They could see several of the villagers already remerging once they saw that the fires were gone and the sounds of battle had died off.

    The fox-like form of a Kyuubimon ran over to the two knights. “Thank you so much for saving our village,” he said to them.

    “Yes, of course,” Duftmon said somewhat dismissively, still thoroughly annoyed with Dynasmon.

    “It’s no problem,” Dynasmon replied. “You guys were lucky that we happened to be passing by.”

    “Extremely lucky,” Kyuubimon responded, sighing with relief. He then looked past them at the destruction on the east side of town. “For the most part.”

    A female Allomon walked over to them as well. “If there’s anything we can do for you, just tell us,” she told the knights. She managed to spot the blood trickling from under Duftmon’s shoulder around. “Can we get the doctor to fix up that wound, Sir Duftmon?”

    Duftmon shook his head. “No need. It is just a flesh wound,” he assured her.

    “That’s not what he was saying a minute ago,” Dynasmon muttered under his breath.

    “If you’re sure...” she said uncertainly, although deferred to his will.

    “It’s just a shame everyone couldn’t have been as charitable as you,” the Kyuubimon said. “Maybe our village would have suffered less destruction.”

    “What do you mean?” Dynasmon asked, suddenly curious at his choice of words. “Are you referring to the bandits?”

    “Well, no...” he replied. The fox Digimon once again looked past them, down the street to the eastern side of town. “Several minutes after the bandits started attacking us, I could see a figure travelling south down the path outside of town.”

    “A figure?” Duftmon asked, now curious as well.

    Kyuubimon nodded, thinking back to earlier. “Yes. A strong looking Digimon. Humanoid. He - or I think it was a he – was walking along the path. At first I thought he was one of the bandits, but when I heard that it was Tuskmon’s gang, I knew that it wasn’t. I was going to call out for help, but I remember he stopped and looked towards the village. I thought he was going to come and help on his own accord, but then he just continued walking south, down the path,” the Kyuubimon mused. “It was like he was dragging himself, actually. Maybe he was so tired he didn’t feel like helping.” The fox digimon shrugged dismissively.

    Dynasmon and Duftmon both looked at each other.

    The dragon knight spoke first. “Do you think it’s...?”

    “It could be who we’re looking for,” Duftmon conjectured.

    “Pardon?” Kyuubimon asked.

    “Nothing,” Duftmon replied. “How long ago was this?”

    “I don’t know. An hour? Two? Everything’s been so hectic...”

    “Did you see what he looked like?” Dynasmon asked.

    “Not really,” Kyuubimon admitted. “It was dark. I just know that he was bipedal and had a humanoid silhouette. It was too brawny to be a female Digimon. Then again, I could be wrong...”

    The blonde haired knight nodded. “I see. We’ll be leaving now.”

    “Are you sure?” the Kyuubimon asked, seeming to be in a position of power in the village. “You both must be tired, and it’s really late. You could stay at the inn on the west edge of town – for free, of course.”

    “No, but thank you,” Dynasmon said to him. “We’re on urgent business. We need to get back to our headquarters. We’ll send up some of our soldiers to help your town with reconstruction in the morning.”

    “Thank you. I mean it,” Kyuubimon replied.

    Dynasmon nodded politely and started walking alongside Duftmon down the street, heading east, to the path that the Digimon Kyuubimon mentioned went south on. They walked out of the partially burnt and destroyed village, over the rocky remnants of the wall that Duftmon had made. There was still an air of tension between them, but they were united in their concern over the fugitive.

    “Can you still fly with that cut?” Dynasmon asked, glancing at him

    “Yes,” was Duftmon’s answer.

    “Good. We still have a few hours to go. Maybe we’ll be able to catch him,” he said. “We should skip checking on Dusk Forest.”

    “I suppose,” Duftmon said in a cold huff.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes and took to the night sky, leaving the village which still smelled of smoke and glowed with small cinders. He heard the flapping of Duftmon’s wings behind him. He knew that the knight was furious at him. He assumed Duftmon would go into one of his moods and cold shoulder him. Dynasmon sighed and prepared himself for what would be a long, tense fly home.

    -

    Two hours later, the Royal Knight had reached their territory. Even with the light of the dual full moons guiding their way, they were unable to find the fugitive on their return journey.

    They walked along the dirt road that lead to their castle. Upon reaching their territory, they had decided to go by foot to give their sore wings a rest. Ahead of them, they could see the Royal Knights’ headquarters standing proudly against the backdrop of the large moon.

    “It’s good to be home,” Dynasmon said aloud, hoping to break the silence that had pervaded for over two hours.

    Duftmon didn’t reply. He walked off of the road and strode over the grass to take a shortcut to the front gate of the castle.

    Dynasmon followed him, trying not to let Duftmon’s temperament get under his scales. “...How’s the shoulder?” he asked.

    “Painful,” Duftmon answered matter-of-factly. He gave an aloof glance over his shoulder. “And we know whose fault it is, don’t we?”

    “I said I was sorry,” Dynasmon muttered. “Can’t you just accept apologies like a normal Digimon. Do you always have to sulk and go on and on about how you were right and they were wrong?”

    “If you’re going to insult me, this conversation is over,” Duftmon told him.

    Dynasmon groaned with frustration. “Why are we even fighting?” he asked.

    “You know why.”

    Dynasmon shot him a glare. “I mean why are we squabbling over petty things? Did we both forget what Alphamon said to us earlier?” he asked, frowning in contemplation. “Shouldn’t we be able to work together without getting into big arguments like we did throughout today?”

    Duftmon was quiet for a few moments. He reflected on Dynasmon words carefully. “We are very different...” he reasoned.

    “Examon and Craniamon managed to get past their differences, for the most part. I know that everybody argues sometimes, but we should be able to look past those differences, especially today of all days, when we know that a fugitive from the Dark Area has escaped,” Dynasmon countered. “Alphamon’s right. If we’re supposed to be Royal Knights, then we need to act like Royal Knights. It’s our job not to get distracted by petty differences.”

    “I know!” Duftmon conceded in annoyance, suddenly glaring at the grass in front of him. “It can’t be helped sometimes, however...”

    “I know,” Dynasmon replied with a sigh. “But can we put aside out differences now?”

    Duftmon grunted and folded his arms. “Very well...”

    “Good...” the dragon man said. He glanced at Duftmon. “You know... I know you don’t consider any of us your friends, and Yggdrasil knows that you get on my nerves sometimes...”

    Duftmon glanced over at him with a flat gaze.

    “But I do consider you one of my friends,” Dynasmon told him.

    The leopard knight blinked with surprise.

    “...What?” Dynasmon asked, looking at him out of the corners of his eyes as he walked up beside him.

    “I see...” Duftmon replied in an uncertain tone. He looked over at Dynasmon. “Am I supposed to respond with something similar as well?”

    Dynasmon couldn’t help but chuckle. “If you want to. Don’t strain yourself though.”

    “On second thought, I think I will decline,” Duftmon replied, suddenly speeding up and refusing to look at Dynasmon.

    “Oh, good. I was getting worried there for a second,” Dynasmon said with a laugh.

    The two walked in silence, travelling near the tranquil moat surrounding the castle. Dynasmon looked up at the stone parapets as he walked. Duftmon concentrated on picking at some of the long-dried blood on his arm.

    “Halt! Who goes there?!” a voice called out from the ramparts of the castle wall.

    Dynasmon’s eyes fixed on a Knightmon who was on night watch duty. “It’s Dynasmon and Duftmon!” he called out, waving his arm.

    “Alright,” the Knightmon replied upon recognizing their figures and Dynasmon’s voice. “Carry on to the front gate. I’ll inform the gate-master.”

    Dynasmon nodded and headed to the front gate as directed, walking beside Duftmon. They continued along the edge of the deep moat.

    “Dynasmon,” Duftmon suddenly said.

    “Huh?” The violet Royal Knight looked over.

    “Why did you join the Royal Knights when it was first founded,” he asked inquisitively. He continued walking. “I told you my reasons.”

    Dynasmon smirked at him. “Do you really need to ask that?” he asked him.

    Duftmon thought for a moment. “...No. I suppose I don’t. You joined because you like to help people.”

    “Yeah. That’s pretty much it,” the dragon man replied as they approached the gate and waited for the chrome digizoid portcullis to be lifted.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “You’re not totally unsuitable for the position,” he told him. Before Dynasmon could respond, he walked through the gate, as the portcullis was lifted.

    Dynasmon stood there for a few moments and scratched his cheek, looking at Duftmon with surprise. “I can’t tell... was that a compliment...?” He shrugged and walked inside the castle grounds as well. Now they had to report to Alphamon and the others what they had discovered...

    -

    Continued in the next post.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  6. #31
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    (Continued from the last post)

    Dynasmon and Duftmon sat in their seats in the council room. An emergency meeting had been called when they reported that their findings were urgent. All eleven of the Royal Knights, plus OuRyuumon and Grani, were there as well.

    “This had better be urgent,” RhodoKnightmon said tiredly. “I need my beauty sleep.”

    “It is...” Dynasmon explained, looking over at Alphamon.

    Alphamon stared back at him with a strong, unreadable expression. “Tell us.”

    “Duftmon, KaiserGreymon, AtlurKabuterimon and I went to the rift up where they specified,” Dynasmon explained, grimacing. “PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon were unconscious when we arrived. The rift was gone. PileVolcamon said that something escaped.”

    “What?!” Alphamon demanded, standing to his feet and glaring with clenched fists.

    Omegamon’s eyes widened, Dukemon glowered angrily, and Magnamon grimaced.

    “He was heading south, towards our territory” Duftmon explained calmly. His wounded shoulder had been cleaned and bandaged by Duskmon. “We attempted to follow him, but we had no real trail to go on, except when we checked the DADAR at the Warrior Ten’s headquarters.”

    “Him? Do you know who it is?”Alphamon asked, sitting back down after regaining his composure.

    “No. He attacked too quickly for PileVolcamon and AncientKazemon to even see him,” Dynasmon explained. A Kyuubimon from a village that we came across just said that he was male in build.”

    “A Kyuubimon? How do you even know it’s the same guy then?” OuRyuumon challenged.

    “I think it was the fugitive that he saw,” Dynasmon said firmly. “Apparently the guy looked fatigued. Whoever escaped from the Dark Area would be pretty weak as well. He also looked strong, according to the Kyuubimon.”

    “What else did the Kyuubimon say?” Alphamon asked.

    “He had a brawny, humanoid body,” Dynasmon replied.

    “That doesn’t tell us much,” Dukemon said. “Though all this does explain why our rift suddenly closed...”

    “What?” Dynasmon looked over at the crimson knight. “The rift in Dusk Forest closed?”

    Dukemon nodded. “While Anubismon and I were there. It closed right in front of us for no reason.”

    “Nothing came out?” Duftmon inquired.

    “Not a thing,” Dukemon answered. “I guess it was at the same time that the one the Ten were guarding closed.”

    “That would make sense...” Omegamon supposed.

    “But why didn’t the rifts just stay open?” Magnamon asked.

    “I guess whoever opened them could only keep them open long enough for the fugitive to escape,” UlforceVeedramon said. “It’s probably good that that was the case or else we’d have a load of evil, powerful Digimon set free.”

    “Nothing about this is good,” Alphamon said grimly. “We need to find this fugitive and fast.”

    “Why don’t we use the DADAR system again?” Dynasmon asked.

    “The excess data would have likely worn off by now,” Grani replied.

    “Then what do we do?” Examon questioned.

    “...Rest,” Omegamon proposed, looking around the table. “For now. It’s very late and we’ll be able to think more clearly after some sleep.”

    “Yes...” Alphamon concurred, although reluctantly. He stood to his feet and looked at Dynasmon and Duftmon. “Thank you for your effort, the both of you. You could use the sleep.”

    “I wouldn’t say no to some rest,” Dynasmon admitted, feeling very tired after a busy day. He didn’t even want to shower, he was that tired.

    “Then let’s adjourn this meeting,” Alphamon said to the knights. He began to head for the great hall but then he thought to stop and turned around. “By the way... I apologize for my impatience, earlier. This business with the rifts has been getting to me.”

    Dukemon grinned. “I’d say you’re allowed to get angry every once in awhile, Alphamon. I’m sure we give you enough cause,” he told him.

    Alphamon offered him a short but fleeting smile and turned to exit into the great hall. OuRyuumon followed behind him. They turned into the right door on the near end of the great hall and went into the stone corridor.

    “It’s still getting you to you, isn’t it?” OuRyuumon asked him, eyeing him suspiciously.

    “Yes,” Alphamon responded.

    “And you’re still worrying about Omegamon, aren’t you?” the serpent dragon questioned.

    “...Yes,” the black knight admitted.

    “You’re the leader of the Royal Knights, right? Where’s that calm demeanour you’re famous for?” OuRyuumon demanded, folding his arms.

    “I’m too tired for a pep talk, OuRyuumon. Just let me sleep, alright?” He looked over his shoulder at the dragon. “Please?”

    OuRyuumon sighed. “Fine...” he reluctantly conceded.

    Alphamon gave him a grateful look and headed towards the stairs so that he could go up to his room.

    OuRyuumon watched as the Lord of the Empty Seat disappeared down the dark corridor. The drake thought to himself, heading down the hallway as well. “I just hope it’s not him you’re worried about...
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  7. #32
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    Urgh. These character limits are awful. This wasn't even that long.

    Chapter 13: Beware the Black Night


    A billiard stick struck a white cue ball firmly, sending it crashing into a black ball. The ebony sphere rolled across the felt surface of the pool table, ricocheted off the edge, and sunk into one of the corner pockets.

    “Nice shot, Examon,” Dukemon said to him, putting his hand on the dragon’s spiked shoulder. “I was going to make that same shot if you scratched it.”

    Examon gave him a small, light grin. “Then it’s good that I didn’t scratch it.”

    UlforceVeedramon, Magnamon, and Craniamon stood in the recreation room as well. UlforceVeedramon was watching the pool game play out, while Magnamon and Craniamon were playing darts. They were dressed in their casual attire, indicating that they didn’t have any duties to perform at the moment.

    “Hah!” Craniamon announced triumphantly after throwing a dart. “I win.”

    UlforceVeedramon looked over his shoulder with a grin. “Are you sure Magnamon didn’t just let you win so that you wouldn’t go into a losing sulk?”

    “I wish that was the case, Ulforce...” Magnamon assured him, going to collect the darts from the board and sighing a bit.

    Craniamon looked at Magnamon. “Don’t you start blaming that bruised arm. It’s long healed by now,” he told him, although with a hint of playfulness in his normally stern tone.

    Examon put the pool stick away and leaned on the table. He looked over at the other Royal Knights. “So, Dukemon, Magnamon... What do the two of you make of what happened with the rifts?” he asked them.

    “What about Ulforce and I?” Craniamon asked indignantly.

    “Yeah, Ex-sama,” UlforceVeedramon teased, placing his hands on his hips.

    “No offence intended... They’re part of the founding knights, so I assumed they know the most about what’s going on,” Examon sheepishly responded.

    Dukemon grinned a bit. “Well... what’s there to make? We know what happened.”

    “How did the fugitive escape? And who is he?” the red dragon asked.

    “We can really only guess at this point,” Magnamon said as he went to sit down on one of the couches.

    “However, there aren’t that many prisoners in the Dark Area, from what Alphamon said,” Examon explained. “Couldn’t we do a process of elimination from what we do know about the fugitive?”

    “There’s between thirteen to seventeen prisoners there. A strong, brawny, bipedal guy isn’t really enough to go on. There’s a few of those,” Dukemon said, sitting down next to Magnamon.

    Examon nodded. “Alphamon seems to be bothered by it,” he remarked, noting their leader’s change in behaviour recently.

    “We all are, at least a little,” Dukemon explained with a lowered brow. “I think Alphamon feels responsible to some degree, like he should have done something to stop it.”

    “What could he do?” Craniamon said with a dismissive shrug. “It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to prevent.”

    “Is there anything we can do?” UlforceVeedramon asked. “I feel weird about just sitting around like we have been for the past week.”

    “Not really,” Dukemon admitted. “It’s up to Grani and his Recon Squadron to keep searching.” He managed a grin. “That oversized bird’s been working hard these past several days.”

    “I can empathize, Ulforce,” Craniamon said. “But Dukemon’s right. It would be impractical for us to go wandering the Free Area in search of him. Leave that to the experts; we have other jobs to do.”

    “Not much recently,” UlforceVeedramon pointed out, leaning over the back of the couch that Dukemon and Magnamon were on. “If a fugitive did escape, wouldn’t he have done something by now?”

    “Not if he was smart,” Dukemon reasoned, scratching at his white shirt. “He’d be pretty weak and disoriented upon escaping, especially if he used a load of energy in opening those rifts. Also, since he came into contact with the Warrior Ten, he’d have probably gone into hiding until he regained some strength.”

    “I guess you have a point,” Ulforce replied. “Still, it’s weird seeing Alphamon so uptight. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him nervous.”

    “That’s why we should use this down time to keep his mind off it!” a voice declared.

    The five Royal Knights turned their gazes towards the doorway, where the voice was coming from. They saw OuRyuumon standing in the door with a grin plastered on his draconic face. “Hey, guys,” he greeted.

    “OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked. “Did you have something in mind?”

    “Like setting him up on a date?” UlforceVeedramon asked, smirking at the idea.

    OuRyuumon suddenly glared. “LIKE HELL!” he snapped at Ulforce fiercely. He then settled down and fingered at his collar with embarrassment. “I meant like- Well, look! The Spring Festival is nearby! I say we should all go there. It’s not like we can do anything about the fugitive right now.”

    “The Spring Festival, huh?” Dukemon asked, looking up as if in thought.

    “Hey, that’s not a bad idea,” UlforceVeedramon remarked. “Hey, OuRyuumon had a good idea!”

    “Funny,” he muttered with an annoyed expression.

    “The Spring Festival...?” Examon asked, looking at them curiously.

    “Seriously, lizard? You don’t know?” OuRyuumon asked, looking over at him. “Did you live in a cave or something? I thought they had the Spring Festival all over the continent, even in the UDC.”

    “No, they had it. I just never attended, so I’m not really sure what it’s about,” Examon responded, somewhat sheepishly.

    “Big surprise,” OuRyuumon said, rolling his eyes.

    “There’s games, competitions, contests, food, a whole lot of stuff,” UlforceVeedramon explained. “Traditionally, it has to do with Qinglongmon, since the Spring is his season, but, these days, Digimon of other beliefs - or no beliefs, like OuRyuumon here - celebrate it too.”

    “Yeah. There was one going on, back when me, Alphamon, and Omegamon were visiting Auguria, but the one that takes place in the Free Area is on a much bigger scale,” OuRyuumon added, smiling at the idea.

    “I see,” Examon said. He frowned sceptically. “And you think that Alphamon would be up for that?”

    OuRyuumon folded his arms indignantly. “He will if we all go.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t mind,” Dukemon admitted. “And I agree that Alphamon could use a distraction.”

    “I’m in,” UlforceVeedramon said with an excited grin.

    “Me too,” Craniamon spoke, grinning at the idea of all the contests.

    “If Alphamon agrees, I’m up for it,” Magnamon told them.

    Examon also nodded, somewhat curious to see what the Spring Festival was like.

    “Great,” OuRyuumon said, smirking. “Then let’s go put it to the others.”

    The five Royal Knights stood up and followed OuRyuumon out of the room to find the other knights downstairs.

    -

    “No, that’s a horrible idea,” Alphamon said firmly.

    He stood in the marble foyer, looking OuRyuumon square in the face. They were surrounded by the other ten Royal Knights. Alphamon was the only one of the knights who was in his armour. The rest wore their casual clothes as a result of the lack of activity lately.

    “What?! It is not!” OuRyuumon protested.

    “Come on, Alphamon,” Dukemon implored. “I think we could all use a stress reliever. All we’ve been doing these past few days has been sitting on our hands while Grani and his scouts search the area.”

    “There’s a fugitive from the Dark Area on the loose, Dukemon,” Alphamon told him. “There are more productive things that we should be doing than having our whole team go out to a festival. We could be honing our skills, at least.”

    “Our skills are pretty honed,” Dukemon countered. “A few hours away at the Spring Festival isn’t going to make a difference to that.”

    “We could call it a public relations mission,” UlforceVeedramon suggested, smiling.

    “I’m with Alphamon,” Duftmon spoke up. “I also think it is a waste of time.”

    “You’re just anti-social,” OuRyuumon told him flippantly. “And you have zero concept of fun.”

    “And you have zero concept of common sense,” the leopard knight retorted. “What if something happens while we’re gone?”

    “We’ll get a messenger to send for us,” Craniamon said.

    “If anything were to happen today, it might be most likely to happen at the crowded festival,” Examon reasoned.

    “He has a point. We could call our presence there security too,” UlforceVeedramon added.

    Alphamon frowned. He wasn’t convinced.

    “Why don’t we put it to a vote?” Omegamon asked him.

    “Fine...” the leader of the Royal Knights said, although reluctantly. He looked around. “All those against?”

    Alphamon raised his hand, as did Duftmon. He inwardly cursed at the result. “All those abstaining?” he asked again.

    Omegamon raised his hand.

    “...All those in favour?” Alphamon asked in a defeated voice.

    Dukemon, Magnamon, UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon, Examon, RhodoKnightmon, Dynasmon, Sleipmon, and OuRyuumon all raised their hands.

    “Very well...” Alphamon told them, suppressing his annoyance. “Can I at least stay here?”

    “Not a chance,” OuRyuumon told him, smirking.

    Alphamon brought his hand to his face and sighed. He knew that OuRyuumon would literally drag him if he needed to. “Rrgh...” was his only sound of reluctant submission.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “Very well. It will constitute my exercise for the day. Just as long as I’m under no obligation to do anything,” he responded.

    “Oh, yeah. Sure!” UlforceVeedramon assured him, although crossing his fingers behind his back.

    “Then let’s go in, say, half an hour?” OuRyuumon suggested.

    RhodoKnightmon nodded. “That should be enough time for me to get something ready for the food tables,” he replied, beginning to think about what he could make.

    “Yeah, the rest of us will get ready,” Dukemon said.

    Alphamon grunted. “Alright,” he muttered, walking to the left set of stairs and heading up to his room on the second floor.

    OuRyuumon noticed him leave and decided to follow him. “Hey, Alphamon,” he said, tucking his wings back to avoid hitting the walls of the corridor as he climbed the stone steps.

    Alphamon reached the hallway on the second floor and turned around to look at OuRyuumon as the dragon emerged from the stairwell. “What are you thinking, OuRyuumon? What’s this about?” he asked shortly.

    The taller dragon raised an eyebrow and looked down at Alphamon. “Huh?” he asked. “I just think that you need a break. You’ve been stressed out ever since you found out the rift had been getting bigger.”

    “Of course I have,” Alphamon retaliated. “And with good reason. There’s a highly dangerous Digimon roaming around the Digital World and you want to go to a festival.”

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but sneer, feeling affronted. “Yeah, I do,” he replied defensively. “We can’t do anything right now, so I want to help take your mind off it.”

    “I don’t need my mind taken off it,” Alphamon explained, leering up at the dragon. “The fugitive is exactly what we all should be focusing on.”

    The gold serpent rolled his eyes. “And until then, you’re going to keep snapping at me and the other Royal Knights?” he asked.

    Alphamon paused, thinking to himself. “Have I really been that bad?” he asked.

    OuRyuumon nodded with a serious look. “I thought being into guys would save me from having to deal with moody significant others,” he mentioned.

    “You’re a fine one to talk,” Alphamon contended. The black knight grimaced almost immediately upon hearing the words leave his mouth. He brought his hand to his face and rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry, OuRyuumon… You’re right; I have been short lately due to the circumstances. And I know you’re only trying to help.”

    “Yeah, well... I’ll forgive you if you come with me to the Festival,” OuRyuumon told him, offering him a half-smile. “And I don’t want you to be making a face the whole time either.”

    Alphamon gave him a small grin. “Alright… Fine. We have a deal.”

    “Good.” OuRyuumon smirked and walked forwards to hug Alphamon.

    Alphamon began to return the hug, but his eyes suddenly widened and he sharply pushed OuRyuumon back. OuRyuumon looked at Alphamon in surprise and was about to say something in annoyance, but then he noticed that Alphamon was looking past him. This prompted OuRyuumon’s heart to drop and look behind himself nervously.

    Omegamon stood at the top of the stairs, behind the gold dragon. “...Sorry. Don’t mind me,” the white knight told them quickly, averting his gaze. He turned right, down the hall, and walked past them hurriedly and awkwardly.

    The two watched with bated breath as Omegamon walked down the hall and disappeared inside his room. When the door closed, they sighed.

    “Great...” Alphamon muttered, grimacing and rubbing the back of his head. “This is why we don’t have intimate moments in public.”

    OuRyuumon winced a bit. “Yeah... Got carried away,” he mumbled. “At least it was someone who already knows.”

    “’At least’,” the knight echoed ironically. He looked down the hall again. “I’m surprised he agreed to go to this festival, considering what happened at the Festival in Auguria.”

    “You need to talk to him, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him. “Every time he’s around I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. There’s a tense atmosphere all the time. I think you’ve waited long enough, don’t you?”

    “I don’t know,” Alphamon responded, sighing lightly. He didn’t want to admit it, but part of him was stalling. “Maybe. I’m just trying to figure out... the right words.”

    “Yeah, well, the longer you leave it, the worse it’s gonna get,” OuRyuumon explained. “Talk to him soon. Letting stuff like this boil up will only make it harder.”

    “Yes. Okay,” Alphamon told OuRyuumon. “Just... not today.”

    “Fine, but soon,” the tall, gold serpent told him. “Then that’ll be one problem out of the way.”

    Alphamon nodded and looked down towards Omegamon’s room. “I hope so...”

    -

    After a forty five minute walk through their territory, the twelve members of the Order arrived at the Spring Festival, just inside the neighbouring state of Aurum. Aurum was named partially for the river, the Aurum Magnus, which ran directly through the state. The river had a mysterious yet beautiful gold hue to its water. There were many myths as to why the water was coloured as it was. Some thought it was blessed by Fanglongmon. Others thought that an Olegmon hid his hoard of pirate treasure at the start of the river.

    The Royal Knights and OuRyuumon walked on a wide, sturdy, stone footbridge that spanned the width of the broad river. They enjoyed the scenic sight of the Aurum Magnus. The gold water glistened brilliantly from the warm sunlight above.

    UlforceVeedramon and Magnamon peered over the edge of the arching bridge, down at the water.

    “Rumour has it that Magnamon here stashed the Digi-egg of Miracles down there,” UlforceVeedramon teased.

    “That’s just stupid,” Magnamon responded, glancing up at him blandly.

    “There’s a scientific explanation, surely,” Duftmon mentioned self-assuredly as he walked past them on the bridge. “It likely has to do with the data.”

    “If there is, I don’t want to know, Duftmon,” Sleipmon told him, following behind him and looking around at the river. “Half of the beauty of it is not knowing.”

    Duftmon rolled his eyes. “Romantics...” he muttered disdainfully.

    “I think it’s quite beautiful as well,” RhodoKnightmon remarked, observing the bright water, as he carried a large, covered platter of food in his arms.

    “Meh. It’s just some stupid water,” OuRyuumon said dismissively from beside Alphamon. “The real action is up there.”

    He pointed his index claw at the other side of the bridge. The path leading away from the bridge led to the main city in Aurum, Gold Keep. It was a fairly large city, and one of the larger ones in the Free Area. Outside the gates of Gold Keep was the Spring Festival, as evidenced by the collection of hundreds of tents, stalls, and other such things. It was like the Spring Festival that was at Auguria except multiplied by ten.

    There were all sorts of various games, contests, food stalls, and even rides on large Digimon on the outskirts of the festival, where there was more room.

    “The community spirit sure is nice,” Dukemon mused, smiling as he walked off the bridge.

    “Get ready to be swarmed, everybody,” Dynasmon joked, walking beside the crimson knight.

    Omegamon winced and began to lag to the back of the group so that he could avoid being part of the center of attention.

    UlforceVeedramon got behind Omegamon, placed his hands on his back and ushered him forwards. “Come on now, don’t be shy, Omegamon,” UlforceVeedramon said with a broad grin. “You’re something of a heartthrob, you know.”

    “Ulforce!” Omegamon said in protest, getting pushed alongside the Royal Knights as they entered the festival.

    It wasn’t long until the large amount of Digimon there began to recognize them. Excited voices began to ring out and spread among the crowds, at the fact that not just one, but the whole team of Royal Knights were there. The Royal Knights soon found themselves surrounded by excited fans.

    Omegamon became flushed. He really hoped that this would mean getting mostly all of the recognition over with. “Thank you for your kind words,” he sheepishly told some of the Digimon that started fanboying at him.

    Dukemon and Sleipmon, on the other hand, happily took to signing autographs, using some pencils that they brought.

    Examon was adapting to swarm of Digimon around them. He was used to getting some crowds back at the UDC, particularly after he helped fend off bandits, but this felt much different from that. He looked over at Magnamon. “How long does this usually last for?” he asked him.

    Magnamon chuckled. “We’ll be free after a few minutes or so,” he assured the dragon.

    After a couple minutes, the crowd started to thin and most Digimon, except for the hardcore Royal Knights fans, remained.

    A VictoryGreymon stood in front of Alphamon with wide, awestruck, green eyes. “And I really like your armour and your fighting style, and it was so cool the way that you took down that Armageddemon that time! I didn’t see it myself but I heard about it and I’m a really big fan of all of you and it’s socoolthatyou’reallhereattheSpringFestivalI’mnotfr omheremyselfIcomefromavillagenorthoftheFreeArea,” the VictoryGreymon, who was talking so excitedly that he began to string his words together, was forced to stop and take a breath. “And then-!”

    A hand reached out and grabbed the VictoryGreymon’s shoulder, pulling him back. The Alphamon, who had a dry expression on his face, but maintained his politeness, looked over to see a ShineGreymon pulling the VictoryGreymon a bit.

    “Sorry, Alphamon, sir,” the ShineGreymon told him in a cool, laid back voice, although he had an excited twinkle in his blue eyes as well. “My friend’s a bit excited. He’s a really big fan. Well, we both are.” He pulled his friend back and whispered to him. “I said to play it cool in front of them. You’ll embarrass us, dude,” he told him.

    “But it’s the Royal Knights!” VictoryGreymon whispered back.

    OuRyuumon looked over at Alphamon. “Come on, Alphamon,” he said. “Let’s look around.”

    “Yeah, let’s all split up,” Dynasmon said, beginning to walk down the path. “It looks weird if we’re all together.”

    “Sounds good to me,” Dukemon said, walking in a different direction.

    “Wait!” Duftmon said with some distress. “We haven’t assigned a meeting place! Or meeting time!” he called after them.

    “We’re big boys,” Craniamon said to him, walking past the leopard knight. “We’re not going to get lost.”

    Duftmon frowned. “But it’s essential to have an organized schedu--“

    “Duftmon, sir!” a voice said from beside him. The voice belonged to the VictoryGreymon Royal Knight fan again. “Can I please have your autograph?”

    “Hm. Very well,” Duftmon obliged, taking the pencil and scribbling down the autograph. “There you are.”

    “Thank you!” the young adult dragon man said, gleefully running off back to his group of Greymon friends.

    When Duftmon looked up again, the rest of the Royal Knights were already out of sight. “Blast it!” he proclaimed.

    -

    Alphamon and OuRyuumon walked through the festival area. OuRyuumon lead the way and Alphamon followed him, both looking around with varying degrees of excitement. They walked past various tents, both big and small, as well as countless stands. Around the fringes of the festival area were open spaces designated for things like Digimon rides, and competitions, like for archery, sword fighting, and wrestling. There were many decorations all around, styled after blue, serpentine dragons, bearing a resemblance to Qinglongmon.

    OuRyuumon had a stick of pink cotton candy in his hand that he munched down on. He pulled a piece of the sugary textile away with his teeth and happily swallowed it. “You should have gotten some, Alphamon,” he said. “This stuff is great!”

    “No, thank you,” Alphamon replied, looking around the area. “I’m not hungry.”

    The dragon rolled his violet eyes and turned around to look at him. “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself,” he reminded him.

    “I’ll try,” Alphamon responded half-heartedly.

    “What are you so worried about, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked him through a mouthful of cotton candy.

    Alphamon stalled for a few moments before he decided to look over at OuRyuumon. “That it’s him...” he explained.

    OuRyuumon suddenly slowed down. He walked beside Alphamon. “I thought so...” he muttered heavily. “So you’re worried that that bastard is the fugitive?”

    “I know it sounds ridiculous. Any one of the prisoners in the Dark Area is cause for great concern. It’s just, with our history... I don’t know, it somehow seems worse when I think it could be him,” Alphamon told him.

    “There’s no proof that it’s him. Besides, there’re a lot worse guys that could come out of the Dark Area than him,” OuRyuumon explained.

    Alphamon looked at him dryly. “That doesn’t make me feel any better, you know...” he mentioned. He looked ahead thoughtfully. “Well, at least that I confirmed that the Dark Area is firmly sealed again. I just need to make sure that I can reinforce it. I don’t want this situation to be repeated.”

    “Don’t worry about it right now,” OuRyuumon said to him. “Besides, for you, I’ll gut whoever it was that escaped.”

    Alphamon smiled a bit. “That’s sweet...” On further reflection, he raised an eyebrow and frowned. “I think...”

    “Cotton candy?” the dragon offered, holding the stick in front of Alphamon’s face.

    “...No, thank you.”

    -

    Dynasmon walked down a pathway, with stalls and stands set up on both sides. In one hand he carried a sausage on a stick, the type of sausage apparently being a regional specialty from the northern half of the continent. In the other, he held a full box of DigiNoir.

    “The food here sure is good,” he muttered to himself through a mouthful of food.

    As he walked down the path, he noticed that one of the stalls was empty and had a ‘closed’ sign on it. Dynasmon could see the yellow, insect-like form of a Digmon anxiously pacing behind the stall. Dynasmon walked over to the stall curiously and looked at the other sign. “A kissing booth?” he asked.

    The Digmon looked over at him. “Dynasmon, sir!” he exclaimed with surprise. “Uh... Well, not any more. The guy who was supposed to be the kisser came down sick, and I can’t have him spreading his germs around.” The Digmon sighed. “I should just take the booth down; I look ridiculous standing here.”

    “That’s hard luck,” Dynasmon observed.

    The Digmon looked over at him, his eyes suddenly flashing excitedly. “Hey... You’re an attractive man...” he pointed out.

    “Uh, thanks. I’m only interested in women though,” Dynasmon responded, smiling uncomfortably.

    “Great! Then how about you substitute for my guy here at the kissing booth? It would be a massive favour to me. And being able to kiss a Royal Knight... the line would be huge!” the Digmon said with enthusiasm.

    Dynasmon frowned. “Uh... I don’t know...” he said uncertainly.

    “Well, how about for half an hour?” the Digmon proposed. “So I can find a replacement.”

    Dynasmon folded his arms. “Well...okay. But only if the profits can go to a charity,” he said.

    “All of the profits made during the Spring Festival go towards the infrastructure of the town,” the Digmon explained.

    “Alright, then,” Dynasmon said, smiling a bit to himself. He walked behind the booth and sat down.

    “Uh... Have one of those first,” the Digmon said, pointing with his drill at a bowl of mint leaves on the shelf of the stand.

    Dynasmon finished his sausage, put his box of DigiNoir down, a put one of the leaves in his mouth for his breath.

    The Digmon smiled gratefully. “Okay. Thanks a bunch! Enjoy!” he told him, jogging off to find a replacement.

    Dynasmon shrugged and waited patiently. It wasn’t long until he heard a girlish squeal of excitement. An Angewomon raced over to the booth to be his first customer. The line behind her started to swiftly grow.

    “Just put the money there, my lady,” he told her with a small, debonair grin.

    “O-Okay, Dynasmon,” she told him, blushing although looking excited as well.

    After putting her money in the box, she leaned over the booth, and Dynasmon planted a soft, courteous kiss on her lips. After a second, they pulled away. The Angewomon was red faced; she whispered a thank you and ran back to her friend.

    “He is a good kisser!” she told her.

    Dynasmon smiled. He could get used to doing this. “Next!” he announced.

    Next in line was a female AeroVeedramon, who approached the booth. Dynasmon smiled at her. “Whenever you’re ready, Miss.”

    The process continued and the line grew longer and longer as time passed.

    “Next,” Dynasmon said, after dabbing his lips with a napkin.

    An Airdramon approached next, looking a bit timid. “Um, hi, Mister Dynasmon,” she greeted awkwardly. “I’m a big fan of yours.”

    Dynasmon smiled graciously. “You are? I hope I don’t disappoint you then,” he said with a grin, leaning on the stall with his arms and bending over the table.

    The Airdramon blushed and leaned in to kiss him. He pressed his lips against hers and gave her a soft gaze before pulling away again. “Th-Thanks,” she told him shyly, quickly turning and flying off.

    Dynasmon smiled at the next customer. His smile vanished immediately.

    RhodoKnightmon stepped forwards and leaned on the stall. Before Dynasmon could protest, he put his money down. He brought his hand up and teasingly scratched Dynasmon’s chin with his index finger. “I’m waiting for my kiss, handsome...” he told him in a seductive tone.

    Dynasmon’s eye twitched and he took on an expression of repulsion. “I want to go home now...”

    -

    Meanwhile, Examon, Sleipmon, Craniamon, and Magnamon walked around the competition area of the festival. Magnamon looked over at them, noting that each of them had a medal and a prize.

    “So... each of you won something?” he asked.

    “Naturally,” Craniamon answered.

    “It looks that way,” Sleipmon humbly replied in contrast to Craniamon’s self-assuredness. “I won the archery competition, Examon won the air rifle one, and Craniamon won the wrestling competition just now.”

    “Lucky,” Magnamon responded, folding his arms. He secretly wished he had won something too.

    “There was no luck involved,” Craniamon told him with a small, yet confident smirk.

    “Lucky for us, I meant. I didn’t want to have to put up with you when you’re in one of your moods,” Magnamon responded jokingly.

    “I feel a bit bad about competing,” Sleipmon said. “It’s not exactly fair for the other contestants. We are the Royal Knights, after all.”

    “We weren’t born Royal Knights,” Craniamon countered. “We became them through hard work. It’s not unfair. However, I can agree that the level of competition was a little disappointing.”

    “Why not challenge OuRyuumon?” Examon suggested. “I saw him watching you during one of your wrestling matches. I’m sure he’d be up for going up against you in the sword fighting competition.”

    “You have a point,” Craniamon said, enjoying the idea of competing against him.

    “I see him and Alphamon up there,” Magnamon said, pointing down the path to where he can see the familiar tall dragon talking animatedly with Alphamon.

    “I was not!” OuRyuumon protested.

    “Oh, really?” Alphamon responded, his arms folded, although he seemed to be enjoying himself. “I don’t believe you.”

    “What did you do this time, OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked, walking over.

    “Gah!” the serpent exclaimed, tensing up upon noticing them arrive. “Nothing!”

    Alphamon looked at Craniamon. “We were just discussing whether OuRyuumon was watching your wrestling match instead of getting me a drink, like he said he was going to do,” he responded deadpan.

    OuRyuumon flushed. What they were really debating was whether OuRyuumon was checking out Craniamon during the wrestling match or not. He was thankful Alphamon came up with an excuse, and decided to go with it. “Y-Yeah. Fine, I did. I was just hoping I could get in on a wrestling match with him,” he explained. His purple eyes widened and he began to internally curse himself out as his unfortunate choice of words.

    “Oh. Is that so?” Alphamon asked with a disapproving tone, although he was really just having some fun at OuRyuumon’s expense.

    “Uh, I m-mean. Like, any match!” OuRyuumon said hastily.

    “Good. I was hoping you would accept my challenge in the sword fighting competition,” Craniamon said, looking at him with a competitive gaze.

    OuRyuumon blinked and eyed him. A large, toothy smirk grew on his face. “Your funeral, Craniamon,” he told him. The dragon looked over at Alphamon. “You don’t mind—“

    “Go,” Alphamon said with a light chuckle, letting him know that he wasn’t actually upset. “I know how competitive you can be. Just don’t hurt each other too much, even if they are just wooden swords.”

    “Great,” OuRyuumon said, smirking at Craniamon. “You won’t be so good without your shield.”

    “That’s what you think, dragon,” Craniamon answered, walking with him towards the competition grounds where a bunch of Digimon were gathered.

    “I sure hope they come to a draw,” Magnamon said, watching as the two departed. “Neither of them are good losers.”

    “That’s true…” Alphamon replied pensively. “What are the others doing? Have you seen them?”

    “I saw Duftmon playing a lot of chess,” Sleipmon explained. “And I last saw Dukemon and Ulforce at the game where you try to strike the bell with the hammer. I’m not sure about the others though.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Do you three fancy getting something to eat?” he asked.

    “I wouldn’t mind,” Examon replied.

    “Me neither,” Magnamon said. “There are all sorts of interesting foods around here from other places.”

    “Alright, but nothing with horseradish,” Sleipmon agreed.

    Alphamon observed Sleipmon with a grin. “You know, horseradish is a plant often used in sauces; it’s not a meat,” he told him with amusement.

    “I know, but it still makes me uncomfortable,” Sleipmon answered decidedly.

    Alphamon chuckled and walked with the three away from the competition area and towards the food stands further in the festival grounds. They left Craniamon and OuRyuumon to their competition, which would last over forty minutes.

    -

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon were bent over a large pond in the ground. There were a few other Digimon beside them, doing the same. They each had tiny nets in their hands, and there were many multi-coloured fish swimming around the water. The Digimon were attempting to catch the fish in the small nets.

    “You were close, that time,” the long, blue, serpentine form of a Seadramon said, watching the players try to catch the fish. “Remember, if you can catch the crimson firebrand, you win the grand prize.”

    “It won’t be easy though!” a white, furry Gomamon said from atop the Seadramon’s helmeted head.

    “Why is this so hard?” Dukemon asked in frustration, sweeping his tiny net through the pond and catching nothing.

    “I think the Royal Knights’ crimson firebrand has met his match,” UlforceVeedramon joked, watching as the long, red fish darted around the pond vigorously.

    “Funny,” Dukemon blandly replied. “I can’t even catch the easy fishes, though.”

    “You’re moving your net too quickly,” the blue knight explained. “The netting’s sensitive and breaks easily. Do it like me.”

    “I am doing it like you; you’ve gone through the same amount of nets that I have,” Dukemon answered, glancing over with a grin.

    “Hey, I’m a naturally fast Digimon,” UlforceVeedramon told him.

    The crimson knight rolled his eyes. “I’m not giving up until I get one,” Dukemon said with stubborn determination, slowly trailing his net through the water.

    “Looks like we’re going to be here awhile,” Ulforce muttered.

    Dukemon’s eyes lit up as his net began to creep up on a fat, gold fish – the easiest type of fish in the pond to catch. He carefully moved his net closer and his concentration intensified. “Just a little...” Dukemon glared and gave a powerful sweep of his net towards the fish at the very last second. “MORE!”

    The fish passed through the net as Dukemon swung, breaking the netting due to the speed of the swing. It continued swimming obliviously.

    Dukemon’s eye twitched. “WHY ISN’T THIS WORKING?!” he demanded in frustration, beginning to hack at the water repeatedly with his broken net, scaring all of the fish away.

    UlforceVeedramon cringed as he and Dukemon started to get splashed by water. They got wetter and wetter the more Dukemon raged. “I don’t know this guy...” he muttered miserably.

    -

    “Checkmate,” Duftmon smugly said.

    He sat at a chess board, opposite to the large, azure form of a metal dragon – a MailBirdramon. He moved his black knight and gently took his opponent’s white knight away. This put the white king in inescapable jeopardy.

    The MailBirdramon calmly scanned the board for alternate moves. “...Well played,” he replied in defeat. “I didn’t notice that move.”

    “Naturally,” Duftmon spoke, “or else you would have been more aggressive with your knight two moves ago.”

    The MailBirdramon nodded. “I admit, I didn’t expect you to sacrifice your queen.”

    “Sometimes sacrifices are necessary in the grand scheme of things,” Duftmon replied, standing up.

    “Even if they’re important?” the steel bird asked, stepping away from the table as well. He looked down at Duftmon with a small grin. “Anyways, good game. It was an honour to test my wits against that of someone of your ability.”

    “I admit, you put up a valiant resistance,” Duftmon told him.

    The leopard knight gave him a terse nod and started to walk away, but he was nearly knocked down by a muscular figure. He winced and glared at whoever brushed past him so wantonly. “Be careful, you – Dynasmon?” he asked, recognizing the Digimon.

    Dynasmon stopped and turned, looking over his shoulder with a distraught face. “Oh, it’s you. I’m not feeling well; I’m going home,” he told him shortly, starting to walk away again.

    “It will have been all of that food that you shoveled down your gullet,” Duftmon blamed, following him. “You probably have indigestion. Or perhaps food poisoning. You should go and speak to Duskmon at once. I don’t want you getting sick in one of the corridors again.”

    Dynasmon grunted with annoyance. “I was drunk that time,” he said with a dismissive wave.

    “More fool you,” Duftmon told him.

    “Gruh. Look, leave me alone, Duftmon,” he told him with irritation. “I don’t need your ‘I told you so’s right now.” Without another word, he flapped his wings and started flying back home.

    Duftmon huffed and folded his arms, stopping. “Well, I never...” he uttered in indignation.

    “Duftmon!” a voice called out from behind him.

    The Digimon in question turned around and saw RhodoKnightmon make his way over. “RhodoKnightmon?” he asked curiously.

    “Have you seen Dynasmon anywhere?” he asked. “He’s been avoiding me for the past hour.”

    “I just saw him. He said that he was feeling ill, so he is flying back to the castle,” Duftmon explained. “Why?”

    “That- ugh,” RhodoKnightmon groaned. “I paid for a proper kiss so I am definitely getting a proper kiss!”

    “...I’m sure I don’t want to know,” Duftmon responded, looking exasperated.

    RhodoKnightmon looked at Duftmon and grinned. “However, if you-“

    “Don’t be disgusting,” Duftmon pre-emptively said, brushing past him and walking further into the festival.

    “You’re not my type anyways,” RhodoKnightmon replied huffily. He turned and began to walk out of the festival, after Dynasmon. “He sure flies quickly for somebody who is supposed to be sick.”

    -

    Omegamon walked down a makeshift pathway near the very edge of the festival, making his way around several different Digimon as he did. He muttered a few quiet ‘excuse me’s and tried not to bring too much attention to himself.

    The white Royal Knight looked around cautiously. He had become very wary ever since he saw that this festival also had a dunk tank; he was sure that OuRyuumon would drag him over to it as soon as he saw them both in his field of vision. He didn’t think his nerves could stand being made a spectacle of, so he did his very best to avoid them both.

    Up ahead of him, Omegamon noticed a small, young, Digimon standing on the counter of a booth. He was a rookie Digimon with purple and white fur all over him. Above his concentrated eyes was a red gem on his forehead. The DORUmon stood firmly on the mantle with a ball in his hand. The object of the game at the booth was to throw a ball at a bunch of stacked blocks and knock them all down in order to win a prize. The most noticeable prizes were the plush toys hanging sitting at the back of the stall. There appeared to be plush toys of the Digimon Sovereigns, the Warrior Ten, and the Royal Knights.

    The DORUmon threw the ball across the stall at the blocks, but the ball sailed past them and missed. He cringed with frustration.

    “Hey, almost got it that time,” the drum-like figure of a Dondokomon said. “You’ve got one more chance to knock ‘em down.”

    Omegamon watched curiously as the young Dorumon picked up the final ball and drew his tiny arm back. The beast Digimon threw the ball and it soared towards the stacked blocks. However, it hit only the top block of the stack, which weakly fell to the ground while the other blocks stayed almost completely still.

    The DORUmon looked down with disappointment. Omegamon’s gaze softened and he walked over to the stand.

    “Tough luck, kiddo. Want to buy another three balls and try again?” the Dondokomon asked.

    “No, thanks...” the DORUmon said with disappointment clear in his voice. He turned around and hopped down from the counter to the ground.

    He then saw a shadow pass over him and he looked up to see the comparatively tall form of Omegamon beside him. The DORUmon’s eyes widened with both awe and surprise. “You’re...”

    Omegamon gave him a small smile and turned to the vendor. “I’d like to try, please,” he told him.

    “Sure! That’ll be five bits for three balls,” the Dondokomon told him, taking a basket in his drumstick hands and raising it up to the counter.

    Omegamon paid and took a ball in his hand. He looked at the blocks quietly for a few moments. Both the DORUmon and the Dondokomon watched with anticipation. Omegamon’s gaze hardened and he reeled his arm, winding it up, and hurled the ball at incredible speeds. The ball not only tore through the blocks, knocking them all down, but it ripped through the back of the stall and sailed onto the grass a ways behind it.

    “W-Woah,” the DORUmon couldn’t help but say.

    The Dondokomon stared at Omegamon blankly. “...W-W-We have a winner!” he exclaimed nervously. “Please! Take any prize you like!”

    Omegamon turned and looked down at the DORUmon. “What prize would you like?” he asked the young beast type Digimon.

    The DORUmon’s eyes widened with shock. “M-Me?!” he asked him. “A-Are you sure, Mister Omegamon?”

    Omegamon smiled at him and nodded reassuringly.

    “Thank you... Um...” the DORUmon frowned in thought. Then, his eyes lit up. “Um... The Omegamon one!”

    The white knight couldn’t help but humbly blush. He turned to the Dondokomon and nodded. “That one, please.”

    The vendor hobbled over and collected the plush toy and handed it up to Omegamon, who passed it down to the DORUmon with a small smile.

    “Thank you so much!” the DORUmon told him, smiling broadly and squeezing the large toy as he gathered it in his small arms. “You’re really cool, Omegamon.”

    Omegamon felt embarrassed but he smiled anyways. “You’re very welcome,” he told him.

    He watched as the DORUmon sauntered off with a spring in his step. He grinned until he heard the voice of the Dondokomon from behind.

    “Um, you paid for two more balls,” the Dondokomon reminded him.

    “That’s alright,” Omegamon said, nodding at the vendor and walking off down a path that led deeper into the festival.

    He walked through the crowd of Digimon, deftly avoiding big and small Digimon alike. After a few minutes, Omegamon found himself at a collection of tables surrounded by food stands. Most of the tables were filled up by hungry Digimon. At one of the tables, he noticed Alphamon, Magnamon, Sleipmon, and Examon.

    Omegamon made his way over to them.

    Examon looked over from eating a barbequed leg of meat. He swallowed his mouthful of food and spoke. “Omegamon,” he greeted.

    Alphamon looked over as well. “Oh... Hello,” he said with a tiny smile.

    “Enjoying yourself, Omegamon?” Sleipmon asked him.

    “It’s not bad,” Omegamon replied. “Yourselves?”

    “Yeah, the games and things have been fun,” Magnamon said, grinning.

    “The food is delicious too,” Examon remarked. “I’ve never eaten some of these things before.”

    “Is that Dukemon and Ulforce?” Alphamon asked, looking behind Omegamon.

    The others looked over and indeed saw the two Royal Knights approaching. They were soaking wet, but Dukemon was holding something under his arm.

    “What happened to you two?” Sleipmon asked, grinning to himself.

    “Did you guys offer to go in the dunk tank?” Magnamon questioned, chuckling.

    “Don’t ask,” UlforceVeedramon deadpanned, leering over at Dukemon.

    “Look what we won!” Dukemon announced with a triumphant smirk. He held up a cute, stuffed Magnamon toy. “It’s a perfect likeness, don’t you think, Magna?”

    Magnamon suddenly took on a dangerous glare. “Pardon me?” he asked.

    “Woah... Which one of you said that?” UlforceVeedramon asked, getting in on the joke, looking between both Magnamon and the toy. “I can’t tell who’s who anymore.”

    Magnamon glared at them. “You won’t be able to tell who’s who once I find that mallet.”

    The two knights laughed. “Oh, relax. The Sleipmon toy is just as cute,” Dukemon told him.

    “Is it?” Sleipmon asked, not minding the idea, himself.

    “That and the Duftmon one,” Ulforce said with a smirk.

    “Pardon?” a voice asked from behind them.

    They turned around to see Duftmon walking over. “Oh, hey, Duftmon,” UlforceVeedramon greeted. “We were just saying that the plush toy version of you was cute. Especially the poofy tail.”

    Dukemon nodded and grinned. “They really captured your tail’s poofiness,” he explained, looking over at Duftmon’s tail.

    “Silence!” Duftmon snapped, suddenly glaring at them. “We are in a public venue! My tail will not be ridiculed!”

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon both burst into laughter. “I think we struck a nerve, don’t you, Dukemon?” the cobalt knight asked.

    “There must be a lot of nerves in that tail,” Dukemon answered, snickering.

    Alphamon rolled his eyes. “That’s enough teasing,” he told them. “Have any of you seen Dynasmon or RhodoKnightmon?”

    Duftmon folded his arms and looked away with indignation. “They both left to go home. I cannot say that I blame them.”

    “Oh, don’t be like that, Dufty,” UlforceVeedramon said with a broad smile.

    “They went home?” Examon asked.

    Magnamon frowned. “Did- oh, hey, Craniamon,” he interrupted himself upon seeing the Royal Knight storm over to them. “How was the—“

    It was Craniamon who interrupted that time. “I’m leaving,” he announced in a familiar, cold, brusque tone which left no room for argument.

    Alphamon looked at Craniamon blandly, already knowing what was bothering him. “OuRyuumon beat you,” he said.

    Craniamon glowered. “That slimy little lindworm cheated!” he declared angrily. “He tripped me with his tail! If it weren’t for that...”

    “You would have beaten him,” Alphamon dryly said.

    “And then the snake had the nerve to gloat afterwards,” Craniamon growled, crossing his arms.

    “Hey, at least it wasn’t your fault,” Sleipmon said to him. “So, there’s no need to train until sunset.”

    Craniamon shrugged and continued muttering foul words under his breath.

    “Anyways...” Dukemon said. He looked down at his soaked t-shirt. “We’ve been here for a few hours, and this water is starting to get cold.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Are all of you fine with heading back to the castle?” he asked.

    Examon nodded. “It’s been fun, but I wouldn’t mind heading back.”

    “Me neither,” Omegamon said.

    The rest of the Royal Knights nodded as well.

    “Alright then,” Alphamon replied, smiling a bit. “You all can go on ahead; I’ll go collect OuRyuumon and we’ll catch up.”

    Omegamon paused for a few moments but nodded. “Of course,” he told him. He turned to the other knights. “Whenever all of you are ready.”

    “Fine,” Craniamon said, tersely grabbing some food from Magnamon’s plate and beginning to walk.

    “Hey!” Magnamon protested, frowning as he stood up.

    “Don’t catch up too quickly, Alphamon,” Dukemon told the dark knight with a calm smirk. “Craniamon and OuRyuumon will be at each other’s throats at this rate.”

    “I know,” Alphamon responded, already having had factored that into his decision. He stood up and brought the remains of his food to the trash bin. “I’ll see you all in awhile.”

    “Bye, Alphamon,” Sleipmon told him, beginning to walk with the group.

    “Come on, Duftmon! There’s still time for you to volunteer for the dunk tank!” UlforceVeedramon teased.

    “Don’t you dare!”

    Alphamon grinned and nodded at the eight knights as they departed. He turned and began to walk to the competition area of the festival, where he felt that OuRyuumon would still be.

    He looked around the hordes of Digimon who were walking about, having fun, and talking with one another. Everybody was in the spirit of the festival. However, the Lord of the Empty Seat kept vigilant as he tried to spot the dragon Digimon.

    After a few minutes of walking and searching, Alphamon spotted a familiar head of purple hair among the crowd that had been previously hidden by the taller body of a DinoRexmon. He made his way over to what he was sure was OuRyuumon. Alphamon approached the tall, gold dragon and reached up to tap his shoulder.

    OuRyuumon turned around, a yellow popsicle half in his mouth. “Ulphamoaw,” he exclaimed through the mouthful of frozen treat. He took it out of his mouth and licked his lips. “Whatever that tin can’s saying, I won fair and square! He’s just being a sore loser.”

    “What? Oh, Craniamon?” Alphamon asked. “Never mind about that. We’re leaving now.”

    “What?! Already?” OuRyuumon complained.

    “Yes. Everybody else has already left. Besides, is there anything left to see after several hours?”

    “I didn’t get a snow cone yet,” OuRyuumon replied.

    “You’re eating a popsicle,” Alphamon pointed out, dryly. He saw OuRyuumon looking annoyed. He rolled his eyes. “Fine. One snow cone, but then we’re leaving.”

    “Deal,” OuRyuumon said, heading over to the snow cone stand occupied by the snowman Digimon Frigimon. “One black snow cone.”

    “A duskberry snow cone coming up,” she said, filling up a cup full of shaved ice and dripping a black, fruit syrup over it. She handed it to him and he took it before paying.

    “Don’t want one, Alphamon?” he asked him.

    “No, thank you,” he replied. “Can we go now?”

    OuRyuumon shrugged. “Yeah, sure,” he said, beginning to walk alongside him. They walked side by side through the river of Digimon. “What’s the hurry?”

    “No hurry,” Alphamon told him.

    The gold dragon looked at him suspiciously. “So, you’re not still on pins and needles, wanting to get back to the castle in case we miss something?” he asked him.

    Alphamon paused for a brief moment of contemplation. “Actually... No,” he responded.

    “No?”

    The knight shook his head. “To be honest, I’m glad that you made me come,” he told him, looking over with a smile. “Being here helped me to take my mind off of everything that’s been going on back home.”

    As OuRyuumon walked, he grew smug and placed his arms back behind his head as if it were no big deal. “You see? I knew that would happen,” he said with a confident grin.

    “OuRyuumon?”

    OuRyuumon opened an eye and looked over. “Yup?”

    “Your popsicle is dripping all over your back,” Alphamon deadpanned.

    OuRyuumon tensed up and abruptly moved his hands back in front of him. “Shit!” he yawped, quickly looking over his shoulder.

    Alphamon laughed and patted his wing.

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but smirk as well. “Sure, laugh. I try to do a nice thing for ya and this is what I get...”

    “Sorry,” Alphamon apologized, although still grinning. “Seriously, thank you. I know I wasn’t keen on the idea, but you turned out to be right.”

    “Hey, I am your advisor for a reason,” OuRyuumon told him.

    “I suppose so,” the leader of the Royal Knights replied. The two began to head to the festival’s exit, towards the bridge that they crossed to get there.

    Continued next post
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  8. #33
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    Continued from previous post

    Alphamon and OuRyuumon walked back towards their territory, with Gold Keep and the Spring Festival at their backs. The mid-afternoon sun rested low in the sky and made for a relaxing, warm day. They strode down a dirt path that separated the grassy plains.

    On their right were flat, grassy fields, which were fairly commonplace for the Free Area. Over to their left was a lengthy hill that was kind of like a down land; its apex continued down on a flat incline for a good distance before sloping down back to ground level. Beyond the crest of that hill was more hilly terrain that went on for about two kilometers before becoming grassland again.

    The sun wasn’t so low that the two Digimon were shielded from it by the hill. In fact, only the very bottom of the sun started to dip behind the grassy summit.

    The two walked, taking their time. Alphamon wasn’t in a particular hurry to catch up with the rest of the Royal Knights, who, by now, had a large lead on them.

    “So, I guess you won’t mind going to the Summer Festival, huh?” OuRyuumon asked, looking over at Alphamon.

    “I could be convinced...” Alphamon answered with a vague grin.

    “Okay. Looks like I’ll have to convince you, then,” OuRyuumon said to him with a wink.

    “I suppose you will.”

    “Oh, I will.” OuRyuumon idly flicked his tail behind him. “Hey, did I tell you? This VictoryGreymon guy asked for my autograph. He knew a lot about me too. I guess I don’t have to be a Royal Knight to be famous, huh?”

    Alphamon looked over with a smirk. “Does that mean you’re satisfied being my advisor?” he teased.

    “Hell no!” OuRyuumon looked down and to his right, at the Digimon walking beside him. Alphamon looked back at him but he was distracted when something caught his eye. “By the way,” the dragon started, grabbing Alphamon’s gaze only for a split second. “Did you happen to talk to--“

    Alphamon suddenly grabbed OuRyuumon’s shoulder and stopped him in his tracks. OuRyuumon opened his mouth to ask what’s gotten into him but he swiftly noticed that Alphamon was looking past him. OuRyuumon didn’t like seeing that look in Alphamon’s eyes again. He slowly turned and looked over his shoulder.

    Standing at the top of the hill was a figure.

    OuRyuumon squinted his eyes, his view slightly obstructed by the sunlight. The silhouette was bipedal, humanoid, and dark in shape. The sun behind the male figure caused his features to be cloaked with dusky shadows, and it also caused him to cast one long shadow down the face of the hill. OuRyuumon couldn’t make out the Digimon, but he saw that he had a long, black and dark blue cape on his mantle, which fluttered to the side with every gust of air.

    “Who is that...?” OuRyuumon asked.

    Alphamon was silent. Instead of replying, he brushed past OuRyuumon and began climbing the hill.

    “Alphamon?” OuRyuumon questioned, perplexed. He started mounting the hill, following after Alphamon. “What are you doing?”

    Alphamon took no notice of OuRyuumon’s words. He just kept scaling the grassy hill with silent, intense determination. He looked up. The shadowy figure didn’t move a muscle. It was as if he was waiting for him.

    The higher Alphamon walked, the faster he went. He breathed heavily as he grew nearer and nearer to the top of the hill. His heart beat faster as more and more of the silhouette became revealed.

    He made out armour that was as black as the night, much like Alphamon’s own armour. His body was covered with metal plate mail. His chest was silver. Although the edges shimmered against the sunlight, the chest armour was the fearsome face of a darkened skull. The skull was crowned with a jagged gold crest, just below his metal collar. It matched the gold of his spiked knees and boots, his horned helmet, and the blades on the massive sickle like feature that adorned his left shoulder went all the way down his arm. On his opposite shoulder was a spaulder shaped like a visor-clad helm.

    However, the part of the body that Alphamon looked at was his face. The face looked down the hill at Alphamon, who stopped just below him.

    Alphamon stopped in his tracks, staring up at him with wide, red eyes. His heart pumped what felt like a million beats a minute. A shaky, distraught breath escaped his mouth as he gazed up the hill with horror and disbelief.

    The metal-covered face continued leering down at Alphamon. Shadows loomed over his facial features, and his steely yellow eyes just kept staring.

    “Alphamon...” DarkKnightmon calmly greeted him. “How nice to see you again.”

    With gaping eyes, Alphamon whispered under his breath to himself.

    “’Beware the Black Knight.’”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  9. #34
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    Chapter 14: Spectres of the Past


    An eerie wind blew down across the crest of the hill. DarkKnightmon’s dark cape shuddered in the breeze as he gazed down at Alphamon. Both bodies remained still, almost as if entranced by the other’s presence. However, in Alphamon’s case, he was stalled by the sense of dread. In DarkKnightmon’s case, he was awaiting Alphamon’s reaction.

    OuRyuumon stood below Alphamon, further down the hill, gazing at the Digimon in shock. His face soon morphed into a savage, draconic glower, and he flapped his wings, ripping up the hill and getting beside Alphamon.

    “You!” he demanded in agitation. “What the hell are you doing here, you bastard?!”

    DarkKnightmon slowly turned his head towards OuRyuumon in recognition, unfazed by his aggressive, confrontational manner. “OuRyuumon... I suppose this is the second time that you didn’t expect to see me again, isn’t it?” he remarked to the dragon with a twinkle in his eye.

    OuRyuumon clenched his teeth and glared deeply. A sharp hiss escaped his throat.

    “You’re... the fugitive...” Alphamon finally said, composing himself. “You escaped the Dark Area... How...?”

    “I suppose it wasn’t as impervious as Imperialdramon Paladin Mode intended,” DarkKnightmon answered cryptically.

    “You suppose a lot, skull face,” OuRyuumon snarled scathingly.

    “I suppose I do,” the dark knight dryly said. He turned to Alphamon. “How is the Order doing? The other Royal Knights?” he asked.

    “That is not any of your business, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon firmly told him, taking a step forwards.

    “You wound me, Alphamon,” the fugitive replied, although he didn’t sound wounded at all.

    “That’s the plan!” OuRyuumon shouted. Suddenly, the dragon dashed forwards, summoning the twin Gairyu scimitars in his hands.

    A shroud of darkness surrounded DarkKnightmon’s right hand, and in a sharp burst of shadows, he summoned a huge, double-ended, blood red lance. He swung the mighty Twin Spear in front of him and blocked the descending swords, resulting in a flurry of sparks from the impact. His gold eyes narrowed and he drove his foot into OuRyuumon’s long body, sending him careening back into Alphamon.

    Alphamon let out a grunt of pressure as he caught OuRyuumon with one hand and stepped back to keep himself from losing balance on the hill. The Lord of the Empty Seat raised his hand in front of him, reaching past OuRyuumon. Emerald particles quickly gathered in the palm of his hand and glowed intensely. “Digitalize of Soul!” he shouted. A green beam blasted mightily from his palm towards DarkKnightmon, singing the tips of the grass below.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes flashed and he swung his dual lance in front of him, slamming it into the blast. He just barely managed to deflect the beam, but it sent his spear jerking back in his hand. DarkKnightmon used the momentum to swing the Twin Spear up and he began to swing it around rapidly. Shade began to emanate from the spear and spiral around his body.

    “No!” Alphamon cried out, pushing OuRyuumon to the side and dashing up the hill towards DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon rotated the spear faster and faster. Darkness bled from the Twin Spear and revolved around him, the shadows of murk and gloom crackling and whirring violently. The shadowy tornado consumed DarkKnightmon and began to tear up the grass around him, preventing Alphamon from getting close to him.

    “Treason Vortex!” DarkKnightmon exclaimed.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon called out in frustration as he tried to make his way towards the powerful, gyrating darkness.

    “We will meet again, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon said to him, staring at the black knight through the shadows. His eyes flashed red. “I promise.” His face was then concealed by a tendril of shade.

    “No!” the knight protested. He got ready to summon his Seiken Gradalpha to hack through the tornado, but the shadows suddenly expanded and amplified.

    The black, deadly whirlwind consumed both Alphamon and OuRyuumon and threw them into the air. The two crashed into the ground and they rolled and tumbled violently down the hill until they hit the very bottom.

    Alphamon winced but wasted no time in getting to his feet. He was about to dash back up the hill when he saw that the dark funnel of power had vanished.

    OuRyuumon spat and scrambled to his feet. He flapped his bladed wings and raced to the top of the hill, Alphamon right behind him. “He’s gone!”

    “What?!” Alphamon demanded, reaching the crest of the hill in record time. He looked around. The only trace of DarkKnightmon was the spiral pattern of ripped up dirt in the grass below. “Where is he?!”

    OuRyuumon flew up high into the air for a better vantage point, looking around in all directions. “Not a frigging trace!” he told Alphamon.

    “No...” Alphamon clenched his fists and shut his eyes. “How could we let him escape...?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced and flew back down, landing beside him. “We’ll get him... Did you notice? He was weaker than usual. He still hasn’t recovered all of his energy from when he escaped.”

    “Then we can’t let him recover,” Alphamon responded firmly, he looked around the landscape in agitation and concern. “We need to look for him.”

    “He’s not anywhere in sight, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him. “These eyes don’t miss much. He must have whisked himself away in that Treason Vortex.” The dragon spat in disgust. “Tch. Fitting name, isn’t it?”

    “We can’t leave him unchecked. He must be somewhere nearby,” Alphamon stubbornly insisted.

    “The best thing we can do is go home and tell the others about this,” OuRyuumon explained. “I want to beat him senseless as much as you do, but... we should go back.”

    The Aloof Hermit grimaced. He reluctantly gave a nod. “Fine... You’re right. We’ll go back,” he tersely announced. He turned and started speed walking down the hill, back to the path. “Let’s go.”

    OuRyuumon watched Alphamon walk away with pensive, worried eyes. He sighed, spread his Gaiba Daimeijin wings, and glided down the hill after him. The two hastily made their way back towards the Royal Knight Headquarters to announce the bad news.

    -

    Examon sat in his seat in the council room. All of the Royal Knights had been summoned suddenly and asked to convene there. Nobody was really sure why Alphamon asked them to gather, but it was clear that he was very flustered about something.

    The red dragon eyed Alphamon calculatingly from across the table, watching him as he sat and tried to maintain a calm facade. The rest of the Royal Knights looked at him as well, waiting for whatever he was going to say. An air of tension loomed heavily over the room.

    “OuRyuumon and I saw the fugitive,” Alphamon spoke up. Sounds of surprise filled the room. “On our way back here.”

    “What happened?” Dynasmon asked him fervently.

    “He escaped,” Alphamon replied, stifling a cringe. “Furthermore, the fugitive is DarkKnightmon...” He stopped and allowed some of the Royal Knights to absorb the information.

    There was a tense pause that was quickly broken by Dukemon.

    “What?!” Dukemon shouted, abruptly standing to his feet and accidentally bumping Grani in the process. “DarkKnightmon?!”

    “Are you positive?!” Dynasmon also demanded.

    Alphamon nodded grimly.

    “Him of all Digimon...” Magnamon said bitterly.

    Omegamon simply grimaced and looked over at Alphamon.

    Examon frowned. He still wasn’t sure who this DarkKnightmon was. The knights who knew who he was were all very vague when talking about him, and the logs on the computer weren’t much better. They went into detail on all the other Dark Area prisoners, but not him. It left Examon and the other non-founder knights in the dark.

    “Is this supposed to be a big deal?” Duftmon asked. “Many of us don’t know what to expect from this ‘DarkKnightmon’ due to the sloppy, haphazard reports that are on him in the database.”

    “Is he the one who tried to kill you, Alphamon?” RhodoKnightmon asked, tapping his chin and thinking back.

    “Haven’t they all tried to kill him?” UlforceVeedramon pointed them out.

    Alphamon rubbed his temples with his fingers. “I will brief you all on him tomorrow,” he replied slowly, as if trying to suppress his exasperation.

    Duftmon folded his arms. “And you let him escape?” he asked, looking at Alphamon.

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes and stepped forwards to retort, but Alphamon raised a hand to stop him. The Lord of the Empty Seat took a deep breath and gazed at Duftmon. “...Unfortunately, yes, I did,” the Royal Knight answered.

    “Hmph. Then perhaps you should have finished him off to begin with instead of simply banishing him to the Dark Area,” Duftmon told him.

    “Duftmon?” Alphamon irately asked.

    “Yes?”

    “Silence yourself, for once,” he ordered the tactician. “This is one time that I don’t need your snide comments and smug, hindsight opinions on matters that you know nothing about.” Before Duftmon could begin to react to the chastisement, Alphamon turned to Dukemon and Grani. “Grani. Intensify your reconnaissance efforts. Increase the scout presence in Aurum, but don`t limit patrols to that province; he may have relocated after we spotted him. At the very least, we know who we’re looking for now.”

    “Understood,” the Zero ARMS answered obediently.

    Duftmon crossed his arms and flicked his blonde hair back irritably. “And the rest of us, leader?” he asked, although he made no effort to hide resentment in his voice.

    “Stand by until further notice,” Alphamon said, ignoring the sarcasm this time. “Get your weapons and armour touched up and get some rest. I doubt he’ll show his face again today. As I said earlier, you’ll be briefed on DarkKnightmon tomorrow morning. Understood?”

    “Very well,” Duftmon answered. He stood up from his seat. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have things that I would rather do.”

    Alphamon watched as Duftmon exited the council room. The sound of his metal boots walking across the marble floor was the only sound that could he heard. It slowly grew softer as he went further away. The black knight turned back to the Royal Knights. “That was about all I had to say anyways,” he told them. “I apologize that I had to ruin your day with this news.”

    “Don’t worry about it, Alphamon,” Magnamon assured him, standing up as well.

    Alphamon nodded. He turned towards the open set of double doors leading into the great hall with a dour frown. “I have... some business that I must take care of too,” he said to the other Royal Knights. “This meeting is adjourned.”

    He walked out of the council room, his blue and white mantle flowing behind him. He didn’t wait for OuRyuumon or any of the other Royal Knights.

    Dukemon and Grani exchanged looks. “I guess that’s it,” the crimson knight said, standing up.

    “I’m going to wash up and then see how dinner is coming along,” RhodoKnightmon mentioned, standing as well.

    The Royal Knights left their seats and exited the council room. When they entered the great hall, they began to break off in different directions with different people.

    Craniamon disappeared out the nearest door, followed by Dynasmon and OuRyuumon. Omegamon, RhodoKnightmon, and Magnamon went through the opposite door, into a corridor. Examon walked with Dukemon, Grani, Sleipmon, and UlforceVeedramon down the great hall towards the foyer.

    “I’m guessing this isn’t good news,” UlforceVeedramon said with a serious look in his eyes.

    “You guessed right,” Dukemon answered him. His tone was also dire.

    UlforceVeedramon sighed. “Well, I’m going to have a shower. I’ll talk to you guys later,” he told them, walking ahead of the group with the speed that he was known for. He looked over his shoulder with a small grin. “If we’re going to end up bloodied and beaten, I at least want to smell nice.”

    Dukemon managed a fleeting smirk as UlforceVeedramon disappeared within the foyer. Grani looked over at his friend. “How are you, Dukemon?” he asked, speaking specifically with regards to what Alphamon revealed.

    “I’m a Royal Knight, Grani; I’ll manage,” Dukemon assured him. He grinned at the dragon. “Don’t you have some work to do other than worrying over me?”

    “I was trying to procrastinate just now,” Grani joked in a deadpan voice, turning his azure eyes back forwards. “Fine, if you want me out of your hair, I have plenty that I need to do.”

    Dukemon playfully pushed him. “Better get going then,” he advised the Zero ARMS.

    “Very well,” Grani said, although giving Dukemon a lingering glance.

    “Go. Stop fretting,” the red and white knight told him, compounding his words with a reassuring smile.

    Grani muttered something about stubbornness and began flying ahead of the three, into the foyer.

    Examon couldn’t help but frown. He didn’t understand the situation at all, and he was consternated by everybody’s sudden change of mood caused by this mystery Digimon. “Is this ‘DarkKnightmon’ really that... fearsome?” he asked Dukemon.

    “It’s not really that...” Dukemon admitted, looking back at him. “Don’t get me wrong, the guy’s really strong. It’s just... there’s a lot of history surrounding that guy. You’ll find out tomorrow, Examon. You too, Sleipmon.”

    Examon nodded. “This is kind of disconcerting, seeing you all so distraught.”

    “He has a point, Dukemon,” Sleipmon agreed, as the three walked into the marble foyer.

    “It’s probably just the shock of old scars,” Dukemon told them. “None of us expected to see DarkKnightmon again.”

    “I’m guessing you guys wished you had reformatted him when you had the chance,” Examon remarked.

    Sleipmon slowed down his gait and stopped in the middle of the octagonal room. Dukemon halted by one of the pillars and turned around to see why Sleipmon had stopped.

    Soon after, Examon came to a halt, wondering why he was the only one still walking. He turned around and was surprised to see Sleipmon glaring at him.

    “Is that your answer to everything, Examon?” Sleipmon asked, his voice controlled yet radiating anger and disappointment.

    “Sleipmon?” the dragon asked in confusion. He wasn’t sure what the horse Digimon was talking about or what set off this sudden change in mood.

    Dukemon frowned and stood between the two. He doubted anything drastic would develop, but he felt compelled to anyways. “I don’t think he knows what you’re talking about, Sleipmon,” Dukemon said, looking from Examon to Sleipmon.

    Sleipmon’s brows furrowed. “That’s the problem. You don’t seem to grasp the idea that killing Digimon is wrong.”

    “Of course I do,” Examon replied coolly. “How can you think that I don’t know that killing innocent Digimon is wrong?”

    “Innocent?” the large horse man asked. “What makes a Digimon ‘innocent’? Who decides that? Do you?”

    “What are you talking about, Sleipmon?” Examon replied calmly, although he was feeling confused and somewhat annoyed by Sleipmon’s accusatory tone. “Does this have to do with what I said about DarkKnightmon?”

    “This isn’t just about that,” Sleipmon insisted, his gaze level with Examon’s. “You also said that about Imperialdramon...”

    Examon’s gaze suddenly narrowed. “He was wreaking havoc on that town, wasn’t he?” he debated sharply..

    “He’s just a kid,” Sleipmon argued. “People like you, Rhodo and Duftmon... You seem to think that ‘reformatting’ is an acceptable solution because it’s easy or practical.”

    “Isn’t it?” Examon retorted. “They typically aren’t permanently deleted. They’re reborn as Digi-eggs, you know.”

    Sleipmon grimaced and tore his gaze away from him. “You just don’t understand...”

    Examon frowned deeper at the six-legged Digimon. “No. I don’t... Are you saying they should have kept DarkKnightmon alive? You know as much as I do about that situation, don’t you? It’s obvious that he is highly dangerous.”

    “I’m saying that killing should only be used as an absolute last resort,” Sleipmon passionately contended.

    “Even if that endangered innocent Digimon?” Examon countered.

    “I’m not getting into that argument again,” Sleipmon answered irritably.

    “You were the one that started this debate,” Examon calmly reminded him, folding his winged arms.

    Sleipmon grimaced. The anger on his face vanished and he looked at Examon with a beseeching gaze. “Examon... I know that when fighting Digimon, it’s easy to forget... but they’re just like you and I. It’s not alright to just delete them, even if they are fighting against us. They have families and memories... Even if they’re reborn, people will still have memories of them, and they’ll still be heartbroken when they die. You use the term reformatting, and I suppose it’s accurate; they become a completely new Digimon. They lose all their memories. The Digimon that they used to be is essentially dead.”

    The dragon’s gaze softened a bit. “Sleipmon...” he said. “I see what you’re saying, but those Digimon are willfully--“

    “Nevermind, Examon...” Sleipmon interrupted, shaking his head and bringing a hand up to his face to rub the top of his muzzle. “Forget it. I’m sorry for preaching my beliefs to you. I think I’m just stressed out...”

    “Sleipmon, you don’t have to...” Examon trailed off and sighed a bit.

    The cavalier Digimon smiled at him a bit. “I’m going to go rest. We’ll speak later, Examon,” he told him diplomatically, trying to show him that he had no ill-will. He then looked at Dukemon. “You too, Dukemon.”

    “Yeah... See ya, Sleipmon,” Dukemon said to him, nodding.

    Sleipmon nodded and headed to the left staircase to head up to the wing on the second floor where their quarters were. Examon watched as the horse Digimon’s equine body disappeared up the stairs. He fidgeted with the wing on his right arm and turned to Dukemon. “What do you think, Dukemon...?”

    “I think Sleipmon feels very strongly about that particular issue,” Dukemon told him, smiling a bit. “I do happen to agree with him, though...”

    “So... you disapprove?”

    Dukemon folded his arms and leaned back against the pillar behind him. “One of the great things about the Royal Knights is that we all have different opinions from each other, even though we all have the same desires in the end. It lets us see things from different perspectives. That said, it’s also the reason why we argue from time to time. Each Knight as their own different code of ethics; I doubt I could change yours any more than you could change mine, not that I would try to,” he explained.

    Examon nodded. “However...”

    “However, I do agree with Sleipmon that killing should be used only as an absolute last resort.” Dukemon smiled a bit sadly and scratched the Digital Hazard symbol emblazoned on his t-shirt. “That said, I do see your point about Digimon going on a rampage... If I ever...” He trailed off and winced. He left the words unsaid, not wanting to get into that topic, even though he was sure that Examon knew what he was talking about.

    “Dukemon...” Examon said sympathetically. The dragon knight closed his eyes for a moment, quietly thinking to himself. After several pensive seconds, he opened his green eyes and looked at Dukemon. “Dukemon, you confided in me about the Digital Hazard... There’s something I want to confide in you about.”

    Dukemon looked at him in surprise. “Oh, uh... Sure, Examon... Should we go somewhere more private?” he asked.

    Upon seeing the red dragon confirm, Dukemon started heading to the set of stairs that Sleipmon had travelled up. He walked into the enclosed staircase and headed up to the second floor of the building. Examon tucked his large wings back and followed him up. By now, he was used to keeping his wings and tail in check in the sometimes narrow corridors of the castle.

    Dukemon reached the top of the stairs and turned into the hallway where their living quarters were. He headed over to his bedroom. Examon followed him and entered the room after Dukemon. He closed the door behind him.

    Dukemon walked over to a chair and spun it around so that it faced the double bed. He said down and gestured with his arm to sit on the crimson blanket on his bed. Examon obliged and did so. He felt sheepish all of a sudden. Talking to somebody about himself – especially very personal things - was a new experience to Examon, and he wasn’t sure what to say. He began to question why he was even doing it at all.

    However, he remembered that, awhile ago, he was in this exact same situation, except Dukemon was the one opening up to him. Dukemon trusted him enough to unload a secret that he was obviously ashamed of, so Examon felt that he should return the action, even if it was uncomfortable to do so. He did trust Dukemon, after all...

    He could see that Dukemon was looking at him expectantly. The dragon supposed he should start, somehow. “Uh... You can probably guess that I’m from the United Dramonic Coalition... though, as you know, it was just a collection of Dramon-inhabited provinces when I first hatched...

    Examon contemplated what he was going to say next and then continued. “I come from a town in the north west of the United Dramonic Coalition. It was called Wyrm’s Edge. It was just east of the top most part of the Dragon Mountains. It was a calm, quiet place.”

    Dukemon nodded. “Sounds nice. Scenic.”

    “It was,” Examon replied. He smiled a bit. “As you can guess, I’m from the Dracomon evolution route. I was a blue Coredramon Do you know about the species? They’re somewhat rarer than other dragon Digimon.”

    “I know a bit about them.”

    “Do you know about the gekirin?” Examon asked him.

    Dukemon looked confused all of a sudden. “Gekirin?” he asked.

    “More commonly known as the ‘reverse scale’,” he explained. “Anyways... it wasn’t a bad childhood or anything. My parents were good, although my father was in the military and my mother was an adventurer, so I spent a lot of time on my own. Because of that, I’m self-taught in a lot of things. However, I had a friend... My best friend, I guess.”

    The crimson knight nodded. He allowed Examon to continue and tell his story at his own pace.

    “He was a Strikedramon. We spent a lot of our time together,” Examon explained. He didn’t realize it, but he was nearly wincing as this memories. “One day... We were fighting. Not ‘fighting’, but play-wrestling, as young Digimon do. He had me in a headlock... that’s when it happened. He accidentally touched my reverse scale. It was small, so I usually didn’t have a problem with it, but it was located in the groove under my lower jaw.” Examon used his claw to point to the left side of his neck, showing Dukemon where the scale would be if he was in his Coredramon or Dracomon form.

    “This gekerin...” Dukemon said broodingly, wondering what exactly a small scale could do.

    “Up until that point, I didn’t even realize I had one. That was the first time it had ever been touched,” Examon explained, his draconic features tightening into a grimace. “When the gekerin is touched, it makes the dragon go wild. I don’t remember anything of the attack, only a sharp, sensitive pain, and a sudden, overwhelming flood of rage.” Examon looked away from Dukemon in shame. “I... went berserk. I fired off my G-Shurunen II attack mindlessly. I couldn’t... control myself at all. It was this sickening, primal feeling inside me... This massive flood of draconic power and rage poured out. The next thing I remember is being completely exhausted and seeing Strikedramon lying in front of me. He was burned and bleeding all over his chest and arms. He wasn’t moving.”

    Examon had to go quiet. It pained him to recount the burden of guilt he had been shouldering. Dukemon looked at him sympathetically. “Did he...?” he asked uncertainly.

    “I don’t know,” Examon answered, composing himself once again. Upon seeing Dukemon’s confused look, he elaborated. “The ground around me was torn up, a few huts and houses were damaged, and Strikedramon was badly wounded. My first instinct was to call for help. I tried but my throat was raw and dry, so no words came out. In hindsight, I think it must have been from roaring too much during the frenzy...” The dragon knight paused. “Then it dawned on me... It was me who caused all of that damage, who hurt Strikedramon... I panicked. I was horrified at what I had done, and I was worried that I would be blamed for what happened. I didn’t know what they’d do to me. Most of all... I couldn’t bear watching Strikedramon die. The guilt was so intense, so I... I ran.”

    Dukemon was silent. He waited for Examon to continue.

    Examon sighed. “I’m not proud of it at all... but I flew away to the Dragon Mountains... It seemed like the only option at the time. I flew up, made a home for myself there, and lived off of the land. I remember I found a low peak above a forest with fresh water and cliffs that were filled with a beautiful collection of blue diamante and green malachite. So, I stayed there and trained.”

    “Trained?” Dukemon asked him.

    Examon nodded. “Both physically and mentally. Most of all, I would agitate my reverse scale over and over. Because it was such a remote place, it was safe for me to go wild.”

    “But why do that?” the crimson knight questioned.

    “Because I was trying to train myself to resist it,” he explained, narrowing his eyes as he looked down at his claws. “I wore myself out and scratched myself up repeatedly, fighting to control the primal, draconic rage and instincts that took control whenever that scale was touched. I wanted to make sure that I would never lose myself in those destructive emotions ever again. I already hurt one Digimon that I cared about... and that was one too many.”

    Dukemon grimaced and nodded. “I can understand...”

    “It took almost a year, but I finally managed to curb my impulses... Around the same time, I digivolved to Wingdramon,” he told Dukemon. “I figured that it was time I rejoined the world, but I still couldn’t bring myself to go back to Wyrm’s Edge.”

    “What did you do?”

    “I flew to another province. On the way to the capital, I came across a riverside village under attack by bandits, so I intervened. I defeated the attackers, and I guess the ruler of the area was impressed with my fighting skills. He said that they would support me if I continued to defend their territory from attackers. I didn’t have any other way to support myself, so I agreed. After several years of doing that, I evolved to Slayerdramon. It was said that I was the best fighter in all of the Dramon provinces, but I’m not sure how true that was.”

    “Is that around the time that the provinces formed the United Dramonic Coalition and you became its protector?” Dukemon asked.

    “No. That wasn’t until after I became Examon. That happened a few years later, during a particularly devastating attack on the capital. I guess I evolved in part due to the high exposure to the blue diamante and green malachite in the Dragon Mountains. There was a lot of discussion about me and the UDC afterwards, and I decided to accept their offer and move to the capital of Dragon’s Peak,” he explained. Examon sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck when he realized that he’d been babbling on. “Sorry. I got carried away telling my life story, I think. The point was the part about the Gekerin.”

    Dukemon grinned. “I don’t mind...” he reassured him. “So... I guess that explains why you’re always so calm...”

    Examon raised an eyebrow. “Does it?”

    “I’d say so... You hate losing control of your emotions,” Dukemon observed. He then chuckled a bit. “Unlike me, apparently. That’s something that I always noticed about you.”

    “I suppose so...” Examon admitted. “If there’s one thing that I learned from that experience, it’s that I didn’t want to be a destroyer. There are too many of those in the Digital World already... What I want is to be able to create something. I want to create a lasting peace in the world, like I helped to do in the United Dramonic Coalition.” He looked over at Dukemon and smiled. “That’s ultimately why I accepted the offer to join the Royal Knights when you came to me that day.”

    “Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?” Dukemon said to him, smirking.

    “Yeah...” Examon said reminiscently.

    “Well, what happened between you and your friend was ages ago too. You shouldn’t worry about it,” he told the dragon.

    “I still can’t help but wonder what happened to him...” Examon replied with sad introspection. “I hope he recovered.”

    The handle of Dukemon’s door rotated with an audible click, prompting the two Royal Knights to look over, surprised. The door opened and the large form of Sleipmon stood in the doorway.

    “Sleipmon?” Examon asked uncertainly. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’m sorry for having listened in,” Sleipmon said, bowing his head slightly. “I was walking past in the hall and...”

    Examon became uncomfortable at the fact that Sleipmon had overheard his secrets. However, he supposed there were worse Digimon who could have overheard. “...It’s alright. You’re a trustworthy Digimon...” he said to Sleipmon, giving him a small smile.

    Sleipmon nodded in thanks. Nevertheless, his expression remained serious. “Examon... Do you wish you had been killed? For what happened to your friend?” he asked him.

    The dragon was taken aback by the question. He frowned and stalled, looking at Sleipmon steely. “I...” Examon broke his gaze with Sleipmon. “I did wish that. Back when I was a Coredramon,” he told him calmly, although his green eyes showed hidden sadness behind them. “But now... No, I don’t. While I’m still here, I can defend Digimon and the Digital World.”

    Sleipmon offered him a smile. “I’m glad you don’t feel that way anymore. But, you know... Imperialdramon likely feels shades of what you felt,” he told him. “The guilt of having... well, lost control.”

    “I know...” Examon admitted. “I realize that I’m likely biased. I’m not sure that I really meant that you should have killed him when he went out of control.”

    “Still, I was a bit harsh.”

    Dukemon rolled his eyes but grinned. “Oh, yeah. You used words that would make Ulforce blush,” he said sarcastically, winking at the horse man.

    Examon smiled at Sleipmon. “It’s forgotten,” he assured him. “I’ll try to take what you said into account in the future.”

    Sleipmon returned the smile. “Well, I’ll get out of your ways. I need to take a shower,” he told them.

    “We’re done here anyways,” Examon told him, standing up from Dukemon’s bed. “I could use a shower too.”

    “Yeah, ditto,” Dukemon agreed, getting to his feet as well. “I think I got cotton candy in my hair.”

    Sleipmon chuckled. “Let’s go down, then.”

    Examon looked at Dukemon and began following Sleipmon out of the room.

    Dukemon watched the two cross the corridor and head down the staircase. “Losing control, huh?” he mumbled to himself. He scratched the emblem on his t-shirt and made his way after them.

    -

    Hours later, night loomed over the castle and the surrounding landscape. The round moon was partially shrouded by a thin veil of clouds. Its bright silhouette still managed to shine through a little bit, creating an eerie panorama of the dark landscape.

    The crisp, spring breeze blew across Alphamon’s skin as he walked across one of the stone bridges that connected the main building to the castle wall. A Mystimon night-watchman, who was crossing the bridge in the opposite direction, respectfully greeted Alphamon as they passed by one another. Alphamon returned it and walked over to the ramparts.

    He sighed and placed his hands on the coarse, stone parapet. The rough, gritty bumps felt cool beneath his fingers as he leaned forwards on his arms. Alphamon looked out across the tranquil night landscape. Nothing moved but the spectres of clouds overhead. However, given the present circumstances, the peacefulness was replaced with uneasiness. He half expected to see DarkKnightmon lurking in the dusk’s shadows.

    Alphamon’s eyelids closed over his red irises and he took to his thoughts.

    “I thought you might be out here,” a voice said.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat opened his eyes and turned around. Omegamon was making his way across the same stone bridge that he had come from. The white knight walked up to Alphamon’s side and turned to look at him.

    “Omegamon...” Alphamon said with a trace of apprehension. He turned back to the landscape.

    “You often come out to the wall at night when you want to think,” Omegamon told him, turning and leaning forwards onto the parapet as well.

    Alphamon paused. “It’s peaceful out here,” he answered. “Usually.”

    “You’re thinking about DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon assumed.

    “You don’t have to be a fortune-teller to guess that,” Alphamon quipped.

    Omegamon was silent.

    Alphamon glanced over to see the white knight grimacing somewhat. He suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. “I’m sorry, Omegamon,” he told him earnestly. “I have no right to take that mordant tone with you.”

    Omegamon shook his head. “No, it’s... You were right about the seer in Auguria,” he said regretfully. “OuRyuumon and I should have listened.”

    Alphamon stood up straight and turned fully to Omegamon, frowning at him with surprise and compassion. “Don’t be ridiculous. There was no way that we would have been able to prevent his escape even if we did go on that Baronmon’s hunch. Even I doubted myself,” he reassured him.

    “I suppose...” Omegamon conceded.

    He chose not to bring up anything else relating to that trip to Auguria. Neither did Alphamon. A painful silence ensued... Uncomfortably, Alphamon turned away again to look out over the wall. It frustrated him that he had trouble just being around Omegamon now. The two of them used to be able to comfortably share these silences with one another, but now, the unspoken words became unbearable.

    “I--“ they both begun, cutting the other off. They stopped sheepishly. Omegamon rubbed the back of his head and looked out at the sky. “Go ahead,” he told Alphamon.

    “Please,” Alphamon insisted for him to speak, as he didn’t really have anything to say anyways.

    Omegamon nodded quietly. He slowly turned his blue eyes in Alphamon’s direction. “...The rest of us are troubled too. About DarkKnightmon, I mean... Magnamon, Dukemon, Dynasmon and I have the same worries that you do. And the others are tense because they don’t know what’s going on,” he explained.

    “Is this your way of telling me that I should stop feeling sorry for myself?” Alphamon asked, glancing over at his comrade.

    “I wouldn’t say that, exactly...” Omegamon told him, smiling slightly. “Is that what you’re doing...?”

    Alphamon managed a smirk. “A little bit, I suppose...” he admitted. The smirk vanished and he sighed. “I know that I have to be strong for the rest of the order. Everything has just been... getting on top of me lately.”

    “That’s because you always take it upon yourself to shoulder the burden, even when you have others who are willing to help lift the weight from your shoulders,” Omegamon said heedfully.

    Alphamon leaned forwards on the wall and looked up at the sky. After a few seconds, he turned his gaze back to Omegamon. “Isn’t that what it means to be the Lord of the Empty Seat?” he asked him rhetorically, his voice slow and heavy.

    Omegamon looked at him. “No... The Royal Knights are equal, Alphamon. That means we’re here to support you. You aren’t so high above us that you’re isolated. You always speak about how you’re on the same level as us – that your position is no more than being a first among equals - which means that you should be able to unburden yourself on us. We want to help, you know...” he explained to him

    The black armoured knight looked away from his friend, cringing with guilt. It pained him that, even after the pain that he had inflicted on Omegamon, that the knight was still this supportive of him. He answered only with a nod, although he didn’t directly look at Omegamon as he moved his head.

    “Alphamon...” Omegamon started ominously.

    Alphamon looked over, sensing the hesitation in his voice.

    Omegamon’s face was tinted pink and he had an uncomfortable look in his eyes. “I...” he began with the staggered, uncertain tone that Alphamon recognized from whenever Omegamon was put in a distressing situation such as public speaking.

    The knight winced and looked down at the face of the stone block that his hand rested on. “I... don’t want what happened in Auguria make you feel that you have to be scared of me,” he said to him.

    Alphamon’s eyes widened with surprise and, suddenly, he felt completely unsure of what to say.

    Omegamon finally turned his blue eyes up to look at Alphamon. “I promised that I wouldn’t tell anybody. And I support you no matter what happens,” he reassured him.

    “Omegamon, I—“ Alphamon moved his hand from the wall, closing his fist, and looking at Omegamon with eyes of protest and passion. He opened his mouth to say what he wished he was able to say back at Auguria, but he grimaced and turned to face the castle, closing his mouth. “...I know... Thank you...”

    Omegamon nodded, seeming satisfied with the answer. “We should get some rest. It’s getting late...” he said, looking up at the night sky.

    “Y...Yes. You’re right,” Alphamon concurred. He looked at his friend and allowed him to lead the way as they headed back over the bridge to the main building.

    Alphamon’s hand brushed along the coping of the bridge’s stone railing. He winced and inwardly cursed at himself. He followed Omegamon and looked at the knight’s back as he followed him over the arch.

    Damn it... Why is it so hard for me to explain to him? Am I too afraid that I’ll make it worse?

    Alphamon sighed to himself and walked inside. He said goodnight to Omegamon and walked into his room. He decided that he needed a good rest desperately.

    -

    Meanwhile, in the town of Lupolford, a dark figure passed down the main street. Phantom-like clouds passed over the buildings around him, and the shadow made his way through a light mist that rolled across the paved cobbles. He was the only one out walking at that time of night; the street was deserted apart from him.

    DarkKnightmon stopped in front of the most pronounced building in the large town. The town hall stood at the end of the main street, its stony architecture ornate and important. Just outside the entrance was a detailed sculpture of the mechanical MetalGarurumon X, one of the former mayors of the town. As he passed the ostentatious piece of art, DarkKnightmon offhandedly noted how hard it must have been to sculpt.

    The dark knight made his way to the foot of the steps but stopped abruptly when the doors of the town hall slowly opened. He looked forwards and saw only a two-legged silhouette standing in the door, the side of its form vaguely highlighted by the orange glow of a torch inside.

    “What are you waiting for?” a voice said to him. “Come in.”

    “Very well,” DarkKnightmon spoke, making his way up the steps with soft, metal footsteps. A gust of wind blew against him and caused his cape to flap in the wind. The knight passed the threshold and disappeared into the dimly lit foyer of the town hall.

    “Continue on through,” the voice said in a harsh, growling tone. “If you don’t mind.”

    DarkKnightmon complied and headed through the foyer to a set of double doors. With a light shove, he pushed them open and walked into a great hall. The hall was large and empty, and two-thirds of the way down the hall was a small set of steps leading up a couple of feet. On this raised area was an ornate chair. Behind it, on the far wall, were two doors leading elsewhere in the town hall. The floor of the great hall was coated in black marble, which made the sound of his boots hitting the hard surface echo around the expansive hall with every step.

    DarkKnightmon walked forwards in the darkness. “Extravagant for a town hall, isn’t it?” he mused aloud.

    “The former mayor had an inflated perception of himself,” his host told him, taking the single torch in the foyer and walking into the hall himself. “It got him killed, apparently.”

    “And the current mayor?” DarkKnightmon asked turning around.

    The dancing flames of the torch illuminated the body of the other Digimon. A dark red dragon man stepped forwards. The crimson armour that he wore all over his body shimmered as it reflected the flames. His arms and legs were covered with hard bumps and spikes. The most noticeable of the bony spikes were the ones protruding from his shoulders, the collar of his breastplate, his waist, and his wrists. On his back he wore an immobile, metal mantle, from which three giant, black horns protruded, looming over his shoulders and head. The flames revealed his face to be equally jagged. He had sharp facial features and horns all over his jaw and forehead, not to mention one large, black nose horn. The only part of his crimson scales that were exposed were the heels of his feet, his biceps, and his waist.

    The Dorbickmon grinned at DarkKnightmon, revealing rows of sharp, savage teeth. “The current mayor isn’t a problem. He agreed to do anything I tell him, including handing this building over to me.”

    “Can you trust him?” DarkKnightmon asked, his yellow eyes carefully inspecting Dorbickmon’s violet ones.

    “I trust him to put the safety of the town above all else. He won’t go running to the Royal Knights. He can probably guess what the consequences of that would be,” Dorbickmon explained. “I made myself pretty clear.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “So, Lupolford...?”

    “It’s right under the Royal Knights’ nose. They’ll never guess that you’re hiding in plain sight. The town hall of one of their territories...” Dorbickmon explained.

    “Won’t they?”

    The dragon shook his head. “They did an inspection shortly after installing the new mayor. I doubt they’ll be back for awhile, especially when they know that you’re on the loose.”

    “Perhaps...” DarkKnightmon mused.

    The dark knight turned around and walked further down the great hall. He walked up the five steps, but suddenly stopped when something caught his eye. At the back of the hall, there was a crack in the marble floor. The tiny fissure seeped dark data into the air. He turned around to Dorbickmon. “Is that a rift connected to the Dark Area?” he asked him.

    “It is,” Dorbickmon explained, walking up beside him. “Don’t worry; nobody else will be escaping aside from you. It’s just a tiny one that I’m having trouble closing.”

    “Good,” DarkKnightmon replied. “I don’t need those bastards down there getting out and causing havoc. To think that I had to spend the past how many years down there with them... It sickens me.”

    DarkKnightmon’s eerie, yellow eyes narrowed and he turned to Dorbickmon. “By the way... I suppose I owe you my thanks,” he said to him. “For helping to free me.” He extended his hand to him.

    Dorbickmon grinned and reached forwards to clasp DarkKnightmon’s hand and shake it powerfully. “You’re making me blush.”

    “I can’t help but wonder your motivations for doing so, however,” DarkKnightmon explained. “It was a huge risk.”

    “High risk, high reward,” Dorbickmon answered, pulling his hand away. “I have to admit, it took a lot of effort altering the Digital World’s dragon’s veins to corrupt the integrity of the Dark Area like that. It wasn’t easy keeping the whole thing stable. Like you said, there are a lot of destructive Digimon in there that we don’t want getting out. That said, I only weakened the barriers for you. You used your Choujigen Axe technique to make the rift just wide enough for you.”

    “Thanks to your advice. Which leads us back to the question...” the shadowy knight said, his words lingering. “Why help me escape?”

    “We have common enemies,” Dorbickmon replied. His eyes narrowed bitterly.

    “How do you know that?” DarkKnightmon questioned.

    “I’ve read up on you,” the dragon man said, turning to him. “Your past. Except I’m wondering what your intentions are now.”

    “I suppose they’re no different from what they were before I was locked away,” DarkKnightmon responded. “I’m going to dismantle the Royal Knights... and, on a pettier note, get a bit of retribution to ease the betrayal that I still feel.” The knight calmly turned to Dorbickmon. “And yourself? How do I fit into your plans?”

    Dorbickmon’s gaze hardened. “Like I said, we have common goals...” he responded gruffly. “You were betrayed.” He paused and clenched his teeth. “I was betrayed... You want vengeance on the Royal Knights... I want vengeance on one particular Royal Knight...”

    “I see... Then I think you and I can work together, Dorbickmon,” DarkKnightmon told him.

    “Good,” Dorbickmon quickly answered.

    “Purely out of curiosity, which Royal Knight is it that you despise so much?” the knight asked.

    The dragon narrowed his eyes with dark anger, the flames of the torch reflecting in his yellow sclera, but he managed a small smile. “Oh, an old friend of mine,” he told him. “The newest member of the Royal Knights...

    “Examon...”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  10. #35
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    (Author's Note: I'm done my school year, so I should have way more time to write now! Also, this next chapter is going to be divided into three different parts, which I'll post in intervals of three days. I didn't want to have another two-parter, let alone a three-parter, but it happened out of necessity. It's going to be a bit different from the other chapters.)

    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part I)


    A Digimon stood on the crest of a small hill, surrounded by eight others. That Digimon was a blue dragon man, humanoid in form, with a long azure tail and a pair of cloudy-white wings. He stood tall and proud before them.

    The bright sunlight shone down and reflected off of his pristine, white armour that he wore over most of his body. The white metal was trimmed with gold in various places, matching the colour of his short, blonde hair, which flowed out from the back of his helmet. He gripped the hilt of his sword with his blue scaled hand and planted the blade in the ground. It stood nearly as tall as he did and had the word “Initialize” inscribed on the side in digi-letters.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s red eyes glistened in the light. He turned to observe the eight Digimon around him. He smiled warmly as his eyes first landed on a knight clad in black armour. “Alphamon,” he said first.

    Next, he turned to the Digimon beside him, wearing white armour. “Omegamon.”

    His eyes then shifted to a knight wearing white and red armour and a flowing crimson cape. “Dukemon.”

    His gaze dipped to a Digimon of the same Veemon-based species as him, clad in shimmering golden armour. “Magnamon.”

    “Dynasmon,” he spoke, his eyes acknowledging the tall, white-plated, periwinkle-hued dragon man.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode then turned to one more humanoid Digimon, coated in black, silver, and gold plate. “And DarkKnightmon...”

    Each of the six Digimon acknowledged the sword-wielding dragon with a nod. OuRyuumon and Grani lingered behind the group, watching.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode smiled at them. “I have fought alongside each and every one of you, time and again. And you have all fought alongside each other. I believe in your bonds, and I also believe that now is the time that we ought to make a change,” he explained, his voice strong and noble.

    “Is this about what we all discussed, Imperialdramon?” Alphamon asked him.

    “Yes...” he replied. He looked around at all of them. “You six are officially the founding members of the Order of the Royal Knights as of now. As members of the Order, it is your job to safeguard Digimon from harm and defeat evil wherever it arises. You all have good hearts... now, combine the wills of your hearts together and become unstoppable. You will be a beacon of light and goodness in this world.”

    “We will do our very best,” Omegamon reassured him.

    “I have no doubt in my mind you all will,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode answered. He turned his gaze to Alphamon. “And you shall be the leader, Alphamon. The Lord of the Empty Seat.”

    Alphamon frowned with uncertainty. “What about you, Imperialdramon? I know we discussed this, however...”

    “My calling is elsewhere, Alphamon,” the dragon man told him with a smile. “You have the leadership abilities necessary for the responsibility. Do not doubt yourself.”

    DarkKnightmon walked over and placed his hand on Alphamon’s shoulder. “Imperialdramon is correct. Besides, we are all behind you,” he reassured him.

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes a bit and began to walk to the crest of the hill.

    “He’s right, Alphamon,” Dukemon said, grinning. “We can pull it off.”

    Omegamon looked at Alphamon and nodded, quietly expressing his support.

    “But we don’t have a base of operations,” Magnamon pointed out.

    “Don’t you?” Imperialdramon asked with a sly grin on his face.

    Dynasmon turned to Imperialdramon Paladin Mode curiously. “Do we?” he asked.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode gestured down the small hill to the stone castle in the distance. The six knights turned, looking past the approaching OuRyuumon.

    “...Your castle?” Alphamon asked. He turned to Imperialdramon in disbelief. “You don’t mean to say that you want to give that to us.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode folded his arms, looking taken aback and somewhat offended. “Hey, now. It isn’t that bad. If you really don’t want it though...” he muttered, scratching the metal dragon head on his chest armour.

    “I mean, you can’t give a gift so big,” Alphamon explained. “It’s too much.”

    “That is for me to decide, Alphamon,” Imperialdramon told him with a light smile. “It’s rude to reject a gift. Now, you’ll likely need to make several additions to the castle to truly make it the Order’s headquarters and spacious enough for a standing army, but I’m sure you’ll all be able to figure it out.”

    “Where will you be going, Imperialdramon?” Omegamon asked him.

    Still wearing a wry smirk, the dragon knight responded. “’Where?’ indeed.” He clasped his hands together. “Now, you six, gather in a circle and put your hand on one another’s.”

    Alphamon, Omegamon, Dukemon, Magnamon, Dynasmon, and DarkKnightmon all gathered in a circle. Before they could move their hands, a voice called out.

    “Wait a second, damnit!” OuRyuumon protested, storming over. “What about me?! Why aren’t I a part of this again?!”

    “It might have something to do with the fact that you enjoy shouting your mouth off… like you’re doing now,” DarkKnightmon dryly informed him, glancing over his shoulder at the gold dragon.

    “Who asked you?” OuRyuumon snarled at the black knight Digimon.

    “OuRyuumon...” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said to him warmly. “Alphamon will need you as his trusted friend and advisor.”

    “Yeah, and why can’t I do that as a Royal Knight?” the gold dragon contended, folding his arms.

    Magnamon and Omegamon exchanged uncomfortable glances. DarkKnightmon rolled his eyes and raised an index finger, making to speak, but Imperialdramon Paladin Mode decided to respond before DarkKnightmon could be too harsh. He knew that the two had a propensity to bicker at times.

    “Maybe Alphamon will invite you to join as an official Royal Knight after you’ve... grown a bit,” he suggested.

    OuRyuumon cocked his eyebrow up at Imperialdramon’s words and sneered. “Grown? What’s that mean?” he challenged. “I’m one of the best fighters here.”

    “That may be, but there’s more to being a Royal Knight than just fighting,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode explained to him. “However, that’s not to say that you won’t be needed. Those fighting skills will surely be required, and, like I said, Alphamon will be able to benefit from your advice.” Imperialdramon turned to look at Grani, who hovered further back. “And Grani. You said that you’re prepared to act as a scout?”

    “I can manage that, yes,” Grani replied, glancing from OuRyuumon to Imperialdramon. “I’m content with that role.”

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes and folded his arms, reluctantly dropping his protests with an indignant grunt. “Whatever.”

    Alphamon sighed but smirked at his friend and turned to Imperialdramon. “So, our hands on one another’s, yes?” he asked him, extending his hand to the middle of the circle.

    Imperialdramon nodded, and watched Omegamon place his hand on top of Alphamon’s, which was followed by Dukemon’s hand, Dynasmon’s, Magnamon’s, and DarkKnightmon’s. “Now, repeat this pledge,” he told them.

    “I pledge my blood, my data, my heart, and my soul to the betterment of the Digital World and those who reside in it, to Yggdrasil, and, most of all, to each other. I am a Royal Knight, and this is my oath.”

    As each Royal Knight finished, they pressed their extended hands down and lifted up them up symbolically.

    OuRyuumon whispered the oath under his breath, watching as the six Digimon officially became the Royal Knights.

    “Is that it?” Dynasmon asked, grinning as he retracted his large hand.

    “That’s it,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said, smiling. “Congratulations, Royal Knights.”

    The six Royal Knights looked at each other with smiles as well.

    “What say we celebrate with ale?” Dynasmon suggested, grinning broadly.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode chuckled. “That sounds like a good plan. You all could use some relaxation time,” he said. He flashed the group a smile. “Especially since you’ll all be so busy shortly.”

    “You really know how to put a damper on things, Imperialdramon,” Dukemon laughed, walking over to Grani.

    “We’ll have to enjoy ourselves while we still can,” Magnamon said, following him.

    DarkKnightmon walked alongside Alphamon and Omegamon, following the others as they made their way down the hill.

    “So, ‘the Royal Knights’...” Omegamon said to them, smiling a little.

    “It definitely sounds prestigious,” Alphamon responded, smirking as well. “However, I think that we’ll be able to do a lot of good once we get set up and running.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “I agree. This might just be what this world needs...”

    -

    Around a month later, things were already progressing in full swing. The castle that Imperialdramon Paladin Mode had given to them was extremely busy. Digimon were coming and going, many coming from parts all over the continent. The Royal Knights were renovating the castle and making many additions to it. At Imperialdramon’s approval, they made changes to much of the interior of the castle, along with made many additions here and there. They had hired carpenters, stone masons, sculptors, architects, and heavy lifters for the various jobs that needed doing.

    On top of that, they were hiring Digimon to be members of the Order itself. They wanted strong, professional, loyal, and good-hearted Digimon for members of their forces. It was a time-consuming ordeal, going through the applicants, sorting out the worthy from the unworthy, and the noble from the opportunists. Each of the six Royal Knights were still finding their feet in the new environment. There were many administrative things that they weren’t used to, and they had to adapt to the learning curve.

    DarkKnightmon marched along the castle grounds within the walls. Dynasmon strode beside him at a leisurely pace. Around them were Digimon, busy at work. Up ahead of them was a stone building under construction; a Golemon was lifting heavy bricks as directed by a Gazimon foreman. The building was to serve as a barracks.

    Even the nearby walls were under construction. There were large ditches being dug by Digmons and Drimogemons at the base of the wall, allowing Digimon to build the wall further underground to protect against burrowing Digimon.

    DarkKnightmon and Dynasmon looked around them at all the Digimon moving around busily.

    “I wonder when things are going to calm down,” Dynasmon asked his fellow Royal Knight.

    DarkKnightmon shrugged. “Another month, perhaps? A few weeks at the earliest,” he replied offhandedly.

    “Hopefully sooner,” Dynasmon said. “I keep getting woken up early in the morning.”

    The tall knight nodded, glancing at the dragon man. “I’m getting weary of waiting as well. I want us to get settled into our roles.”

    “Settled in...” Dynasmon mused. “That’s going to take some getting used to too.”

    “I suppose adventurers like you aren’t exactly the type to settle down, are you?” DarkKnightmon asked.

    “I guess not but, then again, hey! I’m a Royal Knight now!” he replied with a smile.

    “Excuse me!” a voice beckoned to them.

    The two Royal Knights looked over and saw a tall, dark Digimon approaching them as he walked away from the main building. They couldn’t help but stare for a moment at the Digimon’s nine eyes on his body.

    “Greetings,” DarkKnightmon said, examining him without giving a visual reaction to his unique form.

    “My name’s Duskmon,” Duskmon said to them. The eyes on the various parts of his body looked between the two Digimon. “You’re both Royal Knights, right?”

    “Correct,” DarkKnightmon answered.

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon uncomfortably replied, seeming to be unnerved by all of the Duskmon’s eyes that were staring at him widely.

    “Alphamon just hired me as the resident physician, so I thought I’d introduce myself,” he said, smiling a bit, a gleeful look emerging in his nine eyes.

    “Congratulations,” DarkKnightmon told him. He extended his arm and shook his hand. “I’m DarkKnightmon. And this is Dynasmon.”

    “Yeah...” Dynasmon repeated, continuing to stare at the giant eye on his chest. DarkKnightmon elbowed him sharply to keep him from staring.

    “I’m sure we’ll get along well,” Duskmon said to them. “That said, I hope we don’t see each other much while I’m on duty.”

    DarkKnightmon released a short chuckle. He turned to Dynasmon. “It sounds like you’ll be seeing a lot of Dynasmon.”

    Duskmon grinned, all of his eyes once again turning to Dynasmon. “Is that so? Well, don’t worry. I’ll be able to fix almost anything you come in with.”

    Dynasmon tried his best to hide his unnerved wince. “Great... Nice meeting ya, Duskmon...” he told him.

    Duskmon nodded and the eye on his right shoulder suddenly moved independently to look behind him, to where a Digimon shouted in pain and clutched his head. “I spy a concussion. I’ll be seeing you both,” he said to them, turning around and making his way over to the injured Digimon.

    Dynasmon shuddered and sighed with relief. “That was unsettling... He’s going to take some getting used to too.”

    “I didn’t mind,” DarkKnightmon said, starting to walk again.

    “You think Bommons are cute,” Dynasmon pointed out, walking after him. “You’re not the best judge.”

    “At any rate, I wonder who else Alphamon has decided to hire,” the dusky knight mused.

    “Maybe that guy,” Dynasmon said, pointing to the entrance that Duskmon had exited from.

    DarkKnightmon looked over and saw a tall, sapphire-armoured wolf striding out of the building. His red cape flowed behind him as he passed the doorway. The MirageGaogamon wore ornate armour that included a metal wolf head on his chest. As he made his way away from the double doors, he looked rather pleased with himself.

    Dynasmon cut in front of DarkKnightmon as he suddenly turned to walk over to the lupine Digimon. “Hey!” Dynasmon greeted.

    DarkKnightmon stopped, turned, and walked over to him as well.

    “Dynasmon, Sir. DarkKnightmon, Sir,” MirageGaogamon said, smiling. “Hello.”

    “What’s your name?” Dynasmon asked, looking him over. “A MirageGaogamon, right?”

    He nodded. “MirageGaogamon. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you both,” he said. He took off one of his large, bladed gauntlets that were styled like claws, and offered his hand.

    The two knights shook his hand. “Were you just hired?” Dynasmon asked. “I know Alphamon started making appointments for the applicants as of yesterday.”

    MirageGaogamon smiled and slipped his gauntlet back on his arm. “I was, actually,” he told them proudly. “I’m the Captain of the Defence Forces.”

    “Hey, congratulations!” Dynasmon remarked, grinning and slapping his shoulder with his claws, taking the wolf Digimon off guard and causing him to stumble. The dragon man laughed. “For the Captain of the Defence Forces, I sure hope you can take a hit better than that,” he teased.

    MirageGaogamon flushed and stood up perfectly straight, readjusting his armour. He cleared his throat. “Y-Yes, well...”

    “Ignore him,” DarkKnightmon told the new captain. “Dynasmon’s a nuisance at the best of times.”

    Dynasmon chuckled and folded his arms, looking over at his fellow Royal Knight. “You mean that with love, don’t you, DarkKnightmon?”

    “See what I mean?”

    MirageGaogamon smiled a bit. “It’s still an honour to work alongside you both. I’ve heard about both of your exploits,” he complimented. “And I’m fortunate that I’m now able to help your cause to purge the Digital World of evil and to help protect the Digimon who can’t defend themselves. I hope that we can strike fear into the destruction-filled hearts of evil Digimon everywhere.”

    “Is that so?” DarkKnightmon asked him. “You sound dedicated. I’m glad to hear that. This order needs Digimon with that resolute mindset.”

    “I am dedicated, Sir. I hope that my skills will come in use to you all,” MirageGaogamon told them.

    DarkKnightmon gave him a half smile and a nod. “Alphamon wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t,” he reassured him.

    The beast knight nodded. “Thank you. I’ll be on my way now. I look forward to working with you both,” he told them.

    “Likewise,” DarkKnightmon responded.

    “See ya,” Dynasmon said as the blue-armoured Digimon walked off. The winged dragon Digimon turned to DarkKnightmon. “He seems nice. Kind of formal, though.”

    “And eager. He’s likely capable too. I hear MirageGaogamons have remarkable speed,” the dark knight observed.

    “If that’s the case, I’m surprised he was assigned to be Captain of the Defensive Forces instead of the Strike Forces,” the violet dragon mused.

    “I think it makes sense, actually,” DarkKnightmon observed. “Stereotypically, defensive Digimon are slow, so having a swift captain makes a good change and adds balance. Additionally, his speed will be an asset when organising the defences of the castle, as he’ll need to be in several places in a short amount of time.”

    Dynasmon grinned. “Okay. I defer to your strategic knowledge, oh wise DarkKnightmon,” he said, ribbing him.

    “Maybe if you did that more, you’d get hurt less,” DarkKnightmon retorted, eyeing the Royal Knight calmly. “Anyways, I’m going to find Omegamon. I want to speak with him about something.”

    “Sure. In that case, I’m going to find a bite to eat,” Dynasmon replied.

    DarkKnightmon nodded and bid Dynasmon farewell as his comrade went off in search of sustenance. He readjusted his shadowy cape and headed inside the main building.

    He walked down the entrance hall, passing a few Digimon as they headed for the exit. The whole building still had an earthy smell to him, probably from all the stonework going on. He walked up a few steps and went through a doorway into the foyer. The octagonal room was large and vacant, filled with nothing but stone flooring and walls.

    DarkKnightmon noticed that the double doors on the opposite side of the room were open, so he continued to head towards him. He knew that Omegamon had been with Alphamon during the last time that he saw him, so he assumed he was helping with the interviews. It didn’t seem like there was an interview in progress, so DarkKnightmon entered the vast great hall. The hall’s floor and walls were coated in a swirled, white and gold marble, left over from when it was Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s castle.

    At the very end of the room was a circular table of smooth, grey stone. Standing up from the table were the contrasting forms of Alphamon and Omegamon. It was when they turned and started walking away from the table that they noticed DarkKnightmon’s presence.

    “Oh, DarkKnightmon,” greeted Alphamon with a smile.

    “Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon responded with an acknowledging nod. “How are the interviews going?”

    “Slowly. Omegamon and I are just taking a break for lunch,” he explained. He observed DarkKnightmon curiously. “Did you want to see us?”

    “I was hoping I could borrow Omegamon for a few minutes,” DarkKnightmon told him, turning to the white knight.

    Omegamon looked at Alphamon. “Do you mind waiting for me?” he asked him.

    Alphamon shook his head. “You’re free to join us after you two are done talking, DarkKnightmon,” he told him, patting the other dark knight on the shoulder as he passed by him.

    DarkKnightmon looked over his shoulder at Alphamon as he passed. “Thank you,” he said before walking over to Omegamon.

    “Yes, DarkKnightmon?” Omegamon asked him curiously.

    After he was sure that Alphamon was out of the great hall, DarkKnightmon walked up beside Omegamon and leaned back against the table, holding onto the edges with his black hands. He turned his horned head to look at his comrade. “I was just wondering, Omegamon. How is Alphamon managing?” he asked him.

    “Alphamon?” Omegamon asked, blinking in surprise. “Why do you ask that? Is he not feeling well?”

    “I mean with the responsibility,” DarkKnightmon explained. “It hasn’t been easy setting up this order, and Alphamon has been doing the most work out of any of us. I’m concerned that it’s too overwhelming for him.”

    Omegamon turned to face him, folding his arms and thinking. “I wouldn’t necessarily say he is overwhelmed...” he answered. “He’s been very busy, but so have we all. I’m confident that he’ll be okay.”

    “As long as you’re sure,” DarkKnightmon spoke, standing up straight. “I’m not doubting him; I just don’t want him to overwork himself. You know how he is.”

    Omegamon smiled at his friend. “Yes, I suppose you’re right,” he conceded. “It’s nice that you’re worried about him.”

    DarkKnightmon shrugged dismissively and began to walk. “He would do the same for us,” he replied simply. He stopped in front of Omegamon and looked at him. “Now, shall we join him for lunch?”

    The white-armoured knight complied and began to walk with him out of the great hall in order to meet up with Alphamon in the makeshift cafeteria.

    -

    Almost a year later, the Order of the Royal Knights was firmly established. They had performed several forays into the areas that surrounded Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s former territory. Sometimes they intervened in and mediated conflicts, but, mostly, they arrested or destroyed bands of bandits, brigands, and mercenaries. In one instance, they stopped an evil king from invading his neighbours.

    The Royal Knights were comfortable in their new role as regional protectors. As their size, prestige and experience grew, they slowly expanded their sphere of influence. There were currently talks between the Royal Knights and many of the surrounding states of combining under the Royal Knights’ protection. It was known as the ‘Free Area Plan’.

    That was what the six Royal Knights were discussing in their meeting.

    The six sat around the grey, circular table in the great hall. Alphamon was seated with a large, open scroll in front of him. OuRyuumon, who stood behind him, decided to attend the meeting as well, not wanting to be left out of their discussions.

    “These are the list of territories that give their consent to be a part of this project,” he explained, rolling up the scroll and handing it to Omegamon for it to be passed around the table.

    Magnamon opened up the scroll once it got to him. “It’s almost all of them,” he said with surprise, looking at all of the names and territories signed in digi-letters.

    “They want the protection and the trading benefits,” Omegamon said.

    “They know about the conditions, right?” Dukemon asked. “Taxes, ruling under our laws, et cetera.”

    “Yes, it was made clear to them,” Alphamon responded. “They still seem enthusiastic about the idea.”

    “Well, these lands were pretty dangerous before we officially banded together and formed the Order,” Dynasmon pointed out.

    DarkKnightmon sat quietly as the others talked. He just thought with a veiled frown on his face.

    “They’d be idiots not to sign it,” OuRyuumon remarked proudly, crossing his arms. “Who wouldn’t want our protection?”

    Alphamon regarded the question silently as he looked across the table at DarkKnightmon. He couldn’t help but notice the look on his face. “DarkKnightmon…” he said. “You’ve been quiet during this meeting. Is there something you disagree with?”

    DarkKnightmon looked up at Alphamon. “Well, actually…” he put forth, although with hesitation.

    “What is it?” Omegamon asked, looking over at him curiously.

    DarkKnightmon stalled, mulling over his thoughts a little longer. “It’s nothing,” he insisted dismissively.

    “If there’s a problem, DarkKnightmon, please, voice your opinion,” Alphamon told him. “That’s what these meetings are for.”

    Omegamon nodded. “What’s bothering you?” he questioned.

    “Well…” DarkKnightmon began, sitting upright and frowning. He looked straight across the table at Alphamon. “Don’t you think these measures are a bit… generous, Alphamon?”

    “Generous? How so?” Alphamon asked, arching his eyebrow.

    “The Digimon of this potential ‘Free Area’ will pay a tax and supposedly adhere to our laws, and we’re supposed to protect them while they still retain their autonomies,” DarkKnightmon said. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but it seems a little naïve.”

    Alphamon frowned at the last comment. “I don’t understand how…”

    “Will it really change anything within these territories?” DarkKnightmon asked him. “I understand that we need the tax to finance ourselves for this service we’re providing, and, therefore, we need to give something in return, but I don’t think that this idea is strong enough.”

    “What’s wrong with it, in your opinion?” Alphamon questioned, willing to hear the knight out.

    “I just think it needs a complete overhaul,” DarkKnightmon explained. “Evil Digimon work outside of the law, so it wouldn’t make a difference if the Free Area existed or not.”

    “We could keep a closer eye on the Digimon in these territories this way,” Alphamon contested.

    “Perhaps, but I think that it’s too contingent on the Digimon being good. There’s too much room for exploitation. What if we end up defending a mayor who’s treating the citizens horribly?” DarkKnightmon argued, although in a polite manner.

    “We wouldn’t let it get to that point,” Alphamon responded. “We’ll have inspections.”

    “And if the mayor and his advisors are corrupt and all of the civilians have been scared into silence?” DarkKnightmon contended.

    “We will appoint the mayors,” the Lord of the Empty Seat told him.

    DarkKnightmon frowned. “Why these weak measures?” he inquired. “All of your answers have been to have somewhat higher controls on the states. We should just go all the way and exercise a stronger amount of control over all of them. Allowing them their independence will just result in abuses of power and a higher rate of crime. If we’re going to create a Free Area at all, then we need to go further to exert our control over the territories in order to eradicate evil.”

    Alphamon frowned deeper at these words. “The Digimon in charge of the territories would never agree to those terms. This agreement hinges on the states retaining a fair amount of independence.”

    “That would just be selfishness on their part,” DarkKnightmon insisted, looking at Alphamon intensely. “They want to hold onto their own power, of course. They don’t care about evil Digimon unless they’re affected directly by them.”

    Alphamon returned the silent stare. “That’s a very cynical outlook you have, DarkKnightmon,” he responded. “I don’t believe Digimon are that selfish.”

    DarkKnightmon glanced away and quietly sat back in his seat. “Well… You wanted to hear my opinion…” he told them, somewhat regretful that he had voiced it at all.

    “I can understand what you’re saying, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon reassured him. “A greater degree of centralisation would theoretically crack down on crime, war, and brigandage, however…”

    “However, we can’t take away Digimons’ freedoms,” Dukemon added, looking over at DarkKnightmon.

    “I wasn’t suggesting that we become their overseers,” DarkKnightmon replied, glancing at Dukemon.

    “It’s a slippery slope,” the crimson knight chimed back.

    “Yes,” Alphamon agreed. “And there’s the practical aspect of it. We don’t have the resources to do something like that. We’re but six Digimon and our whole order is just less than two hundred fifty Digimon. We don’t have the means to preside over all of those territories, not that they would ever agree to that. And if they resisted, what would we do? Force our rule upon them? Then we would be as bad as the Digimon who you seek to root out, DarkKnightmon.”

    “I never said we should do that,” DarkKnightmon replied defensively.

    “I didn’t say you did either,” Alphamon explained. “I’m just making a point. Anyways, even if we did have the resources, I wouldn’t want to rule over those Digimon. I can agree to stronger checks on the states of the Free Area in order to reduce potential abuses, but nothing more.”

    “I agree with that,” Dukemon said.

    “Me too,” Magnamon followed up.

    “Yeah,” Dynasmon added.

    OuRyuumon grinned across the table at DarkKnightmon, enjoying seeing the Digimon put in his place. “I agree too.”

    “Nobody asked you, serpent,” DarkKnightmon said to OuRyuumon. OuRyuumon glared at him. The dark knight turned to the Royal Knight who hadn’t spoken: Omegamon. “Omegamon? What’s your opinion?”

    Omegamon frowned and stalled. His blue eyes went from DarkKnightmon to Alphamon, and then back to DarkKnightmon. After thinking about it, he spoke. “I can understand your points, DarkKnightmon, and they make sense, however… I have to agree with Alphamon. I think the best option is the one before us now.”

    There was a pause, and all eyes were on DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon looked around the table with his usual expressionless face. After a few, tense moments, he sighed. “Very well,” he conceded. “I still have my reservations, but… the majority has spoken…”

    Alphamon nodded. He then offered DarkKnightmon a warm, conciliatory smile. “Don’t think they have gone unnoticed. We just… disagree on this, it seems, old friend.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “…So begins the Free Area,” he said diplomatically, although somewhat half-heartedly.

    “This calls for a celebration,” Dynasmon said, leaning back in his chair and stretching out. He placed his hands behind his horned head. With one eye open, he looked at Dukemon. “Right, Dukemon?”

    “I think I can be convinced,” Dukemon responded, looking over at him with a smirk.

    “Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” Magnamon told them.

    DarkKnightmon placed his hands on top of the table and pushed himself to his feet. “Are we finished then?” he said, a hint of exasperation lacing his words. “There are some things I’d like to attend to.”

    “Yes, I suppose we are,” Alphamon said, standing to his feet as well.

    “Good night, then” DarkKnightmon bid them. He nodded at the Royal Knights and turned around. With his cape flowing behind him, he briskly started making his way out of the great hall.

    Alphamon’s eyes narrowed with concern. “…Do you think he’s upset?” he asked. “Maybe I should go after him…”

    “He’s a big boy,” Dukemon reassured Alphamon, as he stood from his chair. “He certainly doesn’t need to be babied.”

    “I suppose you’re right,” Alphamon conceded.

    OuRyuumon shrugged dismissively. “He sure acts like an overgrown Baby Digimon sometimes.”

    “Don’t be like that, OuRyuumon,” Magnamon said, beginning to head down the great hall.

    “Like what?” OuRyuumon asked, following him alongside Dukemon and Dynasmon.

    “Your usual jerky self?” Dynasmon joked, slapping his back firmly.

    OuRyuumon stumbled forwards, nearly tripping over his own stubby legs. “Damnit! Hey!” he growled.

    Omegamon watched as the four departed. He turned to Alphamon. “Do you want me to check on DarkKnightmon?” he asked him.

    After a moment of thought, Alphamon shook his head. “No. Dukemon’s right. I’m sure he’s fine. Apart from the bickering with OuRyuumon, he’s almost as mature as you are.”

    Omegamon smirked. “Do you think so?”

    Alphamon grinned and put his hand on Omegamon’s shoulder, beginning to lead him towards the foyer after the others. “Without a doubt,” he dryly said, heading with the others to the cafeteria in order to get some drinks.

    Meanwhile, DarkKnightmon stood at the balcony outside of his room, leaning forwards on the railing as he looked out at the peaceful night. “Could it be that I’m just being too cynical…?” he asked himself. He closed his eyes and calmly inhaled, taking in the warm, summer air. “That must be it. I’m sure it will work out like Alphamon hopes. I just need to trust him…

    -

    A few months later…

    “Twin Spear!”

    DarkKnightmon’s blood red lance ripped through the bandaged body of a Mummymon, tearing him to shreds. As the scraps of bandages fizzled into fragments of data, the dark knight burst through the cloud with silent anger.

    “Hellfire!” an Astamon shouted. The well-dressed demon cocked his weapon and unloaded a fountain of bullets from his sub machine gun. The bullets whipped through the air and slammed into DarkKnightmon’s armour as he ran.

    DarkKnightmon was unaffected. Sparks flew off from all over his body but his armour was thick enough to deflect the bullets. He charged forwards and plunged one side of the Twin Spear deep into the Astamon’s chest, enough that it burst out the other side. The Astamon’s arms suddenly went slack and he continued firing his gun aimlessly into the ground until it fell from his grasp and burst into data. The demon Digimon was the next to disintegrate.

    The Royal Knight swung his spear to the side, flicking the traces of blood from its metal. He let out a breath and took the moment of peace to look around. The other five Royal Knights and OuRyuumon were in combat against a band of raiders. They had been fighting for the past half hour, and the raiders’ numbers were dwindling. Each knight faced only one or two Digimon now. They knew that the battle was almost won.

    DarkKnightmon turned to the nearest Royal Knight. Dukemon was locked in combat with the tall, skeletal, red form of a SkullSatamon. He blocked the swift, powerful swing of its staff with the Aegis.

    “Just drop your weapon and leave!” Dukemon warned him. “This battle’s over!”

    “Eat crap, tin can!” the SkullSatamon screeched. The SkullSatamon raised his staff up over his head and the yellow orb on its end began to grow brightly. “Nail Bone!”

    “Lightning Joust!” Energy swirled around the Gram in Dukemon’s right hand like a vortex that culminated in an orb at the tip of the lance. With a fiery yell, he thrust the pike forwards and power exploded through the SkullSatamon’s core, reducing him to ashes just as he was about to fire.

    Meanwhile, Alphamon and Omegamon stood side by side as three Digimon charged them in a frantic fury. Omegamon raised his Garuru Cannon and Alphamon raised his two palms towards the ExVeemon, the Asuramon, and the Cerberumon charge them.

    “It seems like they won’t stand down,” Alphamon said as he gathered emerald energy inside of his palms.

    “I agree,” Omegamon answered, the mouth of the cannon on his right arm brimming with icy blue power.

    “Fire?” Alphamon asked, taking aim.

    “Fire,” Omegamon confirmed.

    “Digitalize of Soul!”

    “Garuru Cannon!”

    Green and azure beams burst from their hands and soared across the ground like a gushing torrent. The blasts enveloped the three Digimon and easily reduced them to data particles. Omegamon’s cannon leaked cold breath as he lowered it and surveyed the damage in front of them. He confirmed that they were destroyed.

    “Stubborn fools… I hate it when they don’t surrender,” Alphamon said, his hands smoking with green steam.

    “OuRyuumon doesn’t,” Omegamon said, nodding towards the gold dragon in question.

    OuRyuumon smirked widely as he clashed swords with a Piedmon. He deftly swung the Gairyu swords, blocking every slash that the clown Digimon tried to make. “Not – rrgh – bad, clown – guhr – face!” he shouted between parries. For somebody who was staving off deadly attacks, he was enjoying himself far too much.

    The gold dragon suddenly swerved his long, flexible body to avoid a precise stab. He then lunged off the ground, flying in an unpredictable, circular fashion that suited his body. OuRyuumon circled around the Piedmon and slashed his back with his bladed Gaiba Daimeijin wings. He let out a triumphant laugh and suddenly spun around to cleave his two swords through the demon clown’s lanky body.

    OuRyuumon gave a wild grin and flew up into the air. “Who’s next?!” he demanded excitedly, looking around for his next opponent.

    “Nobody,” Magnamon called up to him, having just finished Magnum Punch-ing a Volcamon into a tree.

    “Yeah, we’re all done here,” Dynasmon agreed, nudging an unconscious Vikemon with his foot.

    OuRyuumon released a disappointed growl and flew down. “And it was just getting good!” he complained upon landing in the dirt. He gathered his swords in one hand and bent down, plucking an oversized leaf from a plant in front of him. He used the leaf like a cloth, wiping the blood from his blades.

    The Royal Knights began to gather around his general vicinity. “We didn’t come out here for you to entertain yourself, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon said with a hint of irritation at the dragon Digimon.

    “Yeah, I know that,” OuRyuumon retorted, looking over at him. “I can’t help it if I like fighting.”

    “Just so long as you realise that this isn’t a game,” DarkKnightmon told him, narrowing his enigmatic, gold eyes.

    “Hey, I don’t need a lecture from you,” OuRyuumon replied fierily.

    “OuRyuumon, don’t start,” Alphamon told him firmly. He glanced over at the nearby town. “That was the last of the raiders?”

    “I’m pretty sure,” Dynasmon said.

    “Magnamon and I will go check on the townspeople,” Dukemon said, nodding to Magnamon and heading towards the town.

    “We should start restraining the unconscious ones,” Alphamon told the others.

    “Omegamon and I can do that,” Dynasmon said. Omegamon nodded and took off this Garuru Cannon and Grey Sword.

    A troubled, annoyed look grew on DarkKnightmon’s face. “This was the third raid in the past two weeks…” he remarked lowly, turning to Alphamon.

    Alphamon turned his crimson gaze towards DarkKnightmon. “I suppose you’re right.”

    “Since we created the Free Area, there have been fourteen raids, attacks or invasions that we’ve had to intervene in,” DarkKnightmon continued.

    “What’s your point?” OuRyuumon asked, walking over and flicking the edge of the metal crest on DarkKnightmon’s armour, to create a twanging sound when his claw struck it.

    DarkKnightmon ignored the action and turned back to Alphamon. “Evil Digimon are still active. Creating the Free Area has barely made a difference at all. They’re just as active as they were before we did that.”

    “We’ve defeated every one of them, with the consent of the Free Area’s states, and we have the funds to improve our order,” Alphamon responded calmly.

    “We’re just stopping these attacks as they happen,” DarkKnightmon argued. “You’re not looking at the bigger picture. All we’re doing is quelling attacks day-by-day. What we should be doing is looking into the future.”

    “Looking into the future…” Alphamon mused. “And what do you suggest?”

    “We should be stopping evil Digimon before they can even act,” the shadowy knight explained.

    Omegamon looked over as he tied up the Vikemon raider. “That would be ideal, but it’s not so simple in practice.”

    Alphamon nodded. “He’s right. How could we do that?” he asked DarkKnightmon.

    “By ruling over the Free Area,” DarkKnightmon replied. “If we make it a tightly ordered society, we could stop Digimon before they even act, and discourage future crime and brigandage.”

    Alphamon frowned deeply as his friend’s words. “Ruling…?” he asked. “No, DarkKnightmon. We’re the benevolent protectors of this part of the continent. Our job is to root out evil and have only limited control over the Free Area. Nothing more.”

    “Don’t you see, Alphamon?” DarkKnightmon said, more animatedly than usual. “It isn’t enough. That strategy isn’t working. What we need to be are benevolent rulers. This continent needs strong, centralized control. The Royal Knights need supreme authority over the Free Area. We need to rule with an iron fist to stop more of these raids. It takes shows of strength to dissuade Digimon like these.”

    “DarkKnightmon, your words are unsettling,” Alphamon told him, maintaining a concerned frown. “The Royal Knights are a deterrent force, not tyrants.”

    “For a deterrent force, we haven’t been doing very much deterring,” DarkKnightmon quipped, folding his arms.

    “Don’t be a smartass,” OuRyuumon said to him. “Alphamon’s right. We’re doing fine.”

    “What do you know about these matters?” DarkKnightmon snapped at him. “All you care about is satiating your bloodlust. It’s no wonder you like things as they are; there will be more Digimon for you to kill.”

    Before OuRyuumon could heatedly respond, Alphamon took DarkKnightmon by the arm and led him away several paces. “DarkKnightmon…” he said with a concerned tone. “What’s come over you?”

    “I’m frustrated, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him with irritation. “We’re not making any progress and you won’t heed my words. Aren’t you supposed to listen to the advice of your friends?”

    Alphamon sighed and let go of DarkKnightmon’s arm, walking in front of him so that he could look at him directly. “DarkKnightmon, I’ve taken your words to heart,” he assured him. “However, you can’t expect me to go along with what you’re proposing. I can’t just name myself the king of the Free Area. We would lose the good will of the Digimon that we’re protecting. In fact, they could even revolt.”

    “They wouldn’t revolt. We’re too strong,” DarkKnightmon countered.

    “So we would be ruling through fear,” Alphamon argued. “Is that what you want?”

    DarkKnightmon frowned and was silent.

    Alphamon’s gaze softened and he raised his hand to place it on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder, squeezing the armour there. “Look, DarkKnightmon… I understand that it’s frustrating. However, I’m sure that what we’re doing is the right thing. I’m also sure that it will be effective if we give it some time. This is just a bad patch.”

    “You can’t know that for sure…” DarkKnightmon pensively said, although raising his hand and placing it on top of Alphamon’s extended arm.

    “No, I can’t,” Alphamon admitted. “But I believe that I’m right. Don’t lose hope, DarkKnightmon.”

    DarkKnightmon hesitated. After a couple moments, he frowned and nodded uncertainly. “I… hope you’re right, Alphamon. But it’s hard… I’m struggling to remain optimistic.”

    “It’s not always easy for me, you know,” Alphamon reassured him. “That’s why it’s good to have friends to talk to. OuRyuumon, Omegamon, you… If you still have doubts, rest assured that you can talk to me about them.”

    “Right…” DarkKnightmon replied apprehensively. He removed his hand from Alphamon’s arm and frowned, looking away slightly. “I’ll… be fine,” he said, although he didn’t sound too sure. “Don’t worry.”

    Alphamon smiled and squeezed his shoulder before letting go. “Good,” he told him. He gave DarkKnightmon a nod and began to head back to the others.

    DarkKnightmon turned, and saw that Dukemon and Magnamon had returned too. He sighed and started following Alphamon back.

    OuRyuumon watched as the two returned. He had his arms folded and wore a sour look on his face. The gold dragon looked at Alphamon with an irritated leer. “That looked like a cozy chat…” he said bitterly.

    “He just needed some reassurance,” Alphamon replied, walking past OuRyuumon and over to the others.

    OuRyuumon scoffed and turned his glare towards DarkKnightmon. “Hey, you!” he snarled at him, still angry about what DarkKnightmon had said to him before.

    “My apologies, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon said to him. “I didn’t mean to bite your head off; I was just agitated from the excitement of the battle.”

    OuRyuumon opened his mouth hastily to retort, but he stopped and blinked in response to the unexpected apology. “O-Oh… Well, don’t let it happen again…” he said sheepishly, turning and picking up the Gairyu swords from where he stabbed them into the ground.

    Omegamon observed DarkKnightmon carefully. “Is everything alright between you two?” he asked him.

    “Yes…” DarkKnightmon answered. “I suppose so.”

    Omegamon nodded, although he still had his doubts.

    Dynasmon grabbed the bicep of the restrained Vikemon and hauled the woolly mammal up. “Let’s start hauling these Digimon back to the dungeons before they wake up.”

    “You can take the light one, Magnamon,” Dukemon told him with a playful grin.

    “Thanks…”

    DarkKnightmon stood there, thinking to himself and staring into space. He reflected on Alphamon’s words quietly.

    “Hey, DarkKnightmon!” Dynasmon called out to him.

    The voice brought DarkKnightmon out of his thoughts and back into awareness. “Yes, Dynasmon?” he asked, looking over at the dragon man.

    “Want to help me with this guy?” he asked, gesturing to the Vikemon. “I may be strong, but he weighs a tonne!”

    “Oh… Sure,” he responded uncertainly. He walked over and helped Dynasmon, and the group of knights began to head back to their castle.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  11. #36
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    Dec 2006
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    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part II)

    Another month passed…

    DarkKnightmon strode through the castle grounds in the late evening. The sky overhead was a deep blue colour thanks to the night beginning to set in. Most of the Digimon around the headquarters ended their duties and enjoyed their free time, unless they were unlucky enough to have the night shift.

    He was in his free time as well. However, DarkKnightmon didn’t feel like spending it with his fellow Royal Knights right at that moment. Instead, he walked through the spacious training ground within the castle walls. It was largely deserted aside from a few members of the Order who were out practicing their attacks or working out.

    One of these Digimon was MirageGaogamon. DarkKnightmon recognized the Captain of the Defence Forces in the center of the grounds. He seemed to be practicing one of his attacks, judging by the glowing yellow particles that lighted up the darkening area as they accumulated around his chest.

    “Full Moon Blaster!” he howled. The wolf head that was a part of his chest armour snapped open and fired a brilliant beam from its maw. The light streaked through the air like a comet and annihilated a target dummy before fading away shortly after. When the beam faded, the target was badly scorched and its digital integrity was badly compromised, causing it to burst into data.

    DarkKnightmon was intrigued, seeing him out here that late. He made his way over. “MirageGaogamon,” he spoke from a distance, announcing his presence as per the safety rules of the training grounds.

    MirageGaogamon looked over his shoulder curiously. Some steam still wafted up from his chest cannon, but he closed the ‘mouth’ on his chest and signalled that it was clear for DarkKnightmon to come over. As the Royal Knight approached, MirageGaogamon looked at him sheepishly. “I apologize, Sir,” he told him. “I know the training grounds close at sundown, but I hoped I could get in some precision training before it got dark.”

    DarkKnightmon approached him and dismissively waved his hand. “No, I’m not here about that. I’m just surprised to see you here. That’s all.”

    “Oh…” MirageGaogamon said, lowering his guard in a wave of relief. “I see. Still, the safety precautions…”

    “I’m sure you would have stopped soon,” DarkKnightmon answered. He observed the wolf warrior with a raised brow. “You’re awfully dedicated, Captain.”

    “I try to be,” MirageGaogamon replied with a slight smile. He removed his claw gauntlets and tucked them under his arm. “I believe in what this Order aims to achieve, so I want to be at my very best, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon stopped to contemplate his words. “…Commendable,” DarkKnightmon spoke. “You’re a regular crusader, aren’t you?”

    MirageGaogamon released a small, embarrassed smile. “I don’t know about that…” he humbly replied. “I’m just following what my heart tells me is right and just.”

    “And… what happens when your heart conflicts with your head?” DarkKnightmon cryptically questioned, eyeing the blue, wolf knight curiously.

    MirageGaogamon frowned and looked at him for clarification. “Sir…?” he asked, confused at what exactly he meant.

    The black knight caught himself and shook his head. “Forget about it…” he told him dismissively. DarkKnightmon placed his hand on MirageGaogamon’s multi-plated shoulder. “Care to walk with me? I was on my way to the ramparts to enjoy the sunset.”

    “Sure,” the captain agreed.

    He walked alongside DarkKnightmon as they made their way from the training grounds over to the thick wall. They approached some stairs built beside the wall, behind the forge, where all the weapons were serviced. DarkKnightmon ascended the stone staircase up to the top of the wall, and MirageGaogamon followed after him.

    Once on the top of the battlements, DarkKnightmon walked to the parapets and leaned forwards on one of the sturdy blocks. He gazed out onto the dark landscape, and he could just see a trace of the sun on the distant horizon. It made the sky appear slightly bluer in contrast to the black behind him. MirageGaogamon came up beside him and looked up at the partial moon above them.

    “It’s nice,” MirageGaogamon commented to him, glancing over.

    “Indeed. Alphamon and I used to come out here to talk,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    MirageGaogamon couldn’t help but notice the past tense. “You don’t anymore?” he asked. He then felt somewhat apprehensive, as if he had just spoken out of turn for asking too personal of a question. He was about to apologize but DarkKnightmon spoke first.

    “No, we don’t,” he admitted. “I find myself disagreeing with him a lot, these days. I feel that it’s better if I keep my distance.”

    “Why is that, if you don’t mind my asking?” the caped canine Digimon inquired.

    DarkKnightmon stalled on answering. “…Can I ask you a question instead, Captain?” he wondered, turning away from the disappearing sun to look at MirageGaogamon.

    “Of course, Sir.”

    “Why exactly did you join the Order?” the Royal Knight questioned, his curious gaze fixed on the lupine Digimon’s face.

    MirageGaogamon’s face seemed to tense. He hesitated and tore his gaze away from DarkKnightmon to look back up at the moon. “Do you want to know the honest answer…?” he asked, his voice sounding suddenly more dark and solemn.

    “If you don’t mind telling me, that is,” DarkKnightmon replied.

    The wolf Digimon’s eyes glistened in the moonlight before he shut them. “Half of my family were killed by marauders,” he told DarkKnightmon. He raised his free hand and clenched it after placing it on the stone parapet. “What I want is to purge the world of evil Digimon so that tragedies like that won’t take place again.”

    “I see…” DarkKnightmon said calmly. “I understand your feelings. I want to eradicate evil Digimon from this world as well.”

    MirageGaogamon opened his eyes and looked at DarkKnightmon with a grateful smile. “I’m glad to hear that, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon turned away from the sun and stood under the shroud of the night and the soft rays of the moon. “However, I find myself faced with countless doubts.” With a steely gaze, he looked back towards the castle. “I doubt our capabilities… I doubt my friends… and I doubt myself.”

    “Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked with concern.

    “I feel like we’re headed in the wrong direction,” DarkKnightmon explained. “Alphamon’s too soft; he’s afraid of doing something that Digimon won’t like. He’s always been too concerned about his public image…”

    “Is that so?” the captain asked.

    “In my opinion, yes…” DarkKnightmon said. “He disagrees with my approach on how the Order should operate. I believe that the Royal Knights should go as far as to be the rulers of the Free Area. That way we could use our tightened sphere of influence to root out evil Digimon before they can even act. The way we function now, we’re just knocking them down as soon as they attack. More innocent lives are risked that way.”

    “I agree with you, DarkKnightmon, Sir,” MirageGaogamon said. “However, I can see how Alphamon would be cautious about that. It’s an ambitious step and it goes against the agreement.”

    “I know,” DarkKnightmon answered deeply. “But what’s that expression? ‘In order to free yourself from your Digiegg, you must first shatter the shell’?”

    “I suppose there’s that argument,” the beast knight submitted. He turned around and leaned back against the parapet. “I do agree that a greater amount of control is necessary. However…”

    “However the majority agrees with Alphamon?” DarkKnightmon suggested. He frowned and turned around as well so that he could glance up at the moon. “Yes, I know… I understand why, too. Nevertheless, it feels like the path we’re on is doomed to lead us to failure. They don’t understand that! Why don’t they understand? Are they blinded by their idealism?”

    “Do you think the situation is that dire, Sir?” MirageGaogamon questioned.

    “Now? Maybe not. However, I’m looking into the future. How long until another Lucemon emerges? Or something even worse?” he mused, his calm voice masking the intensity behind it.

    “Hopefully never…” MirageGaogamon replied with a wince.

    “Yes, hopefully. However, the Royal Knights are a security force. We need to prepare for the worst case scenario. If we want to prevent something like that from happening, we need to drastically increase our control in the Free Area. Then, as the Order grows larger, we can expand to other parts of the continent,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    “I agree with that, Sir,” the azure wolf knight spoke. “However, I’m not sure that Alphamon and the other Royal Knights would.”

    DarkKnightmon sighed. “There lies the problem…” he said softly, with an air of frustration. “Alphamon is stubborn. Omegamon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon are all loyal to him. Dukemon is his own Digimon, but I don’t think he would agree with me; he’s soft too.”

    “I see…” MirageGaogamon said thoughtfully.

    “However, I believe that Omegamon is sympathetic to my ideas,” DarkKnightmon said. “Perhaps the others could be convinced if somebody else was the Lord of the Empty Seat instead of Alphamon.”

    “Like yourself,” the captain suggested, feeling at ease with DarkKnightmon. “I have nothing against Alphamon, but I believe that your ideals are more in line with what this Order needs. I support you, DarkKnightmon.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded gratefully at him. “I appreciate that, Captain.”

    “Are there provisions for removing the Lord of the Empty Seat?” MirageGaogamon asked.

    “No. There’s nothing official,” the shadowy knight replied. “Imperialdramon Paladin Mode trusts Alphamon fully. It would have looked bad if he made provisions for unseating him.”

    “I see…” MirageGaogamon spoke, frowning deeply. “What… do you suggest?” he asked apprehensively.

    “I’m not suggesting anything,” DarkKnightmon answered. “Not yet. I certainly don’t want to hurt him or anything like that, but I don’t think that he should remain in power. I’ll have to consider all of my options.”

    “I understand, Sir.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “I’ll try talking to the other knights. I want to be able to have their support.”

    “They won’t tell Alphamon?” MirageGaogamon asked.

    “I’m hoping things will play out in a way that they won’t want to tell Alphamon… or at least feel that they don’t need to,” he explained. DarkKnightmon looked over at MirageGaogamon with calm, gold eyes. “Needless to say, it’s probably best if you and I keep this conversation a secret…”

    “Understood,” the MirageGaogamon captain said, tapping the side of his snout with his index finger.

    “Hey!” a familiar voice called out over to DarkKnightmon’s side.

    DarkKnightmon swung around with surprise and saw OuRyuumon descend through the night sky towards them, blotting out the moon from their vision as he passed in front of it. He felt himself tense up as the dragon Captain of the Strike Forces closed in on them.

    OuRyuumon landed on the wall and stumbled slightly on his short legs, but he quickly moved his tail to balance himself. The long, gold dragon walked towards them unevenly. “I thought I’d find you here…” he said, his words somewhat slurred.

    “OuRyuumon?” DarkKnightmon asked, trying to remain calm. “What can I do for you?”

    MirageGaogamon looked at OuRyuumon carefully and took a few sniffs with his sensitive nose. “…Are you drunk, OuRyuumon?” MirageGaogamon asked, frowning. “You shouldn’t be flying while intoxicated.”

    “This is between me an’ him MirageGaomon…” OuRyuumon said, swinging his hand out.

    DarkKnightmon looked over at MirageGaogamon, who turned to him in concern. “It’s alright, Captain. I’ll talk to him and make sure that he gets to his room,” he reassured him.

    “Very well, Sir…” MirageGaogamon apprehensive replied. He nodded at DarkKnightmon and jumped off the wall to fly towards the castle.

    DarkKnightmon stepped towards OuRyuumon. As he approached, he could smell the pungent scent of ale on his breath. “You’re drunk, OuRyuumon…”

    “So what if I am?” OuRyuumon retorted. “Can’t the Captain of the Strike Force get drunk in his free time?”

    “I suppose, but--“

    “It’s my turn to ask the questions!” OuRyuumon announced sharply, looking down at DarkKnightmon and poking his broad chest with his clawed finger.

    “Very well,” DarkKnightmon answered, keeping his cool, although inwardly he was rather nervous. He knew that his and OuRyuumon’s relationship had some definite tension, and he didn’t want to get on the dragon’s bad side without finding out what he might have heard, so he figured he’d humour him. “Ask away.”

    “I know what you’re up to…” OuRyuumon hissed, narrowing his sharp, violet eyes into slits.

    The nervousness that DarkKnightmon felt began to amplify. Did OuRyuumon really hear the whole conversation? He knew that if OuRyuumon knew, he would tell Alphamon without any hesitation. He already began to think of how he could use OuRyuumon’s inebriated condition to discredit him. “I don’t know what you mean,” DarkKnightmon insisted.

    “Like hell ya don’t!” OuRyuumon slurred angrily. “You’re tryin’ to take Alphamon away!”

    DarkKnightmon froze. All of his muscles tensed up, with the exception of his heart, which felt like it suddenly dropped in his chest. “What…?” he asked, in a last ditch effort to maintain his innocence. “I would never do something like that. He’s my friend!”

    “Only yer friend? Really?” OuRyuumon interrogated indignantly, glaring at him even harder. “I’ve seen th’way you look at ‘im… He can do better than you and you know it, so back off! You’re just a conde… condescending tin can!”

    Now DarkKnightmon was just confused. His fear quickly turned into pure bewilderment at the dragon’s drunken words. “…Pardon?”

    OuRyuumon growled and raised his hand to rub the bridge of his snout, suddenly grimacing. “Nevermind… Jus’ forget it,” he told him. “What were you talking to th’wolf about?” he questioned more calmly, hoping to change the subject.

    “He… was wondering if there was merit to the rumour that Magnamon can’t swim,” DarkKnightmon replied, saying the first viable thing that came to mind. On second and third thoughts, he decided it wasn’t all that viable, but he hoped OuRyuumon was too intoxicated to question it. He was just relieved that OuRyuumon hadn’t been listening in on them like he initially thought.

    “Gossips…” OuRyuumon said resentfully, moving his hand and placing it on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. “Y’know, it’s totally true. He never goes in the ocean.”

    DarkKnightmon took OuRyuumon’s wrist and gently slung his arm over DarkKnightmon’s back. He kept a hold on OuRyuumon’s wrist and began to usher him towards one of the stone bridges that led from the wall into the main building. “Come on. Let’s get you to your room,” the armoured Digimon told him while leading him along.

    “Fine…” OuRyuumon mumbled, too out of it to bother protesting. He lazily hobbled beside DarkKnightmon, letting himself be taken by the knight. “Grugh… DarkKnightmon…?” he asked, looking over at the Royal Knight.

    “Yes, OuRyuumon?” DarkKnightmon asked superficially, keeping a tight hold on him as they crossed the bridge so that OuRyuumon wouldn’t end up accidentally falling.

    “You’re my best friend…” OuRyuumon drunkenly said, his smile toothy and lopsided.

    “I thought Alphamon was your best friend,” DarkKnightmon responded, bringing him indoors to a torch-lit hallway.

    OuRyuumon suddenly groaned dramatically. “Ugh… He wouldn’t be if he knew…” he said miserably, breaking away from DarkKnightmon and walking ahead.

    “Knew what?” DarkKnightmon asked out of passing curiosity.

    “Can’t tell… It’d ruin ev’rything…” OuRyuumon replied in a maudlin voice.

    The Royal Knight sighed and shook his head. He didn’t know what to make of the dragon’s drunken ramblings. He wasn’t overly concerned about them anyways; he was just happy that OuRyuumon was blissfully ignorant of his conspiracy to create a peaceful change of leaders. Things would have gotten extremely difficult for him if he had found out.

    “Come on. Your room is here,” DarkKnightmon said, pointing to the door in front of him.

    OuRyuumon staggered over to him. “Mrm. Thanks, buddy,” he said to him, patting DarkKnightmon’s face with his claws. “I know you and I and you don’t always get along, but you’re okay when you wanta be…”

    “Err…” DarkKnightmon hesitated. He took OuRyuumon’s wrist and removed his hand from his face. “Thank you… Now, go and rest, OuRyuumon.”

    “Alright…” OuRyuumon responded, making his way into his room so that he could plop down on his bed. “Night, night, Knight…”

    “Goodnight, Captain,” DarkKnightmon said to him, closing OuRyuumon’s door for him. He let out a sigh and began walking down the corridor to his own room.

    That was unnerving…” he thought to himself as he entered his room.

    He began to unfasten his chest armour. Once it was removed, DarkKnightmon walked over to his balcony window and stared out. He looked up at the moon and watched as a cloud finished passing over it. He frowned and leaned against the stone window sill.

    I have much that I need to do…” he quietly mused. “I need to steer this Order in the right direction for the good of the Digital World. If it means hurting a friend… well… I suppose it has to be done. I hope you won’t take it personally, Alphamon…

    -

    About a week later, DarkKnightmon went to work on trying to convince the other Royal Knights to unseat Alphamon. He had planned his arguments meticulously, and he hoped that they would be enough to convince his comrades to accept the drastic change of command. He knew it wouldn’t be an easy battle, aware of how loyal the Royal Knights were, however, he was confident in himself.

    It was a cloudy evening out. There were two full moons out in the starry sky. However, multiple clouds passed over them intermittently, causing their reflected light to beam down irregularly. It created a mix of dim, blue light interspersed with dark shadows over the castle grounds.

    DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon walked outside, passing underneath one of the watch towers. Barely any Digimon were out on the grounds that night, with the exception of the guards manning the walls, gate, and towers.

    “So, you’re going to start talking to them tonight, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked him, feeling very comfortable that they could talk freely without being overheard.

    “Yes,” DarkKnightmon replied with a soft frown. “There’s no point in waiting any longer. I’ve put up with this for long enough. This Order needs a change.”

    “I agree,” MirageGaogamon answered. “You think you can convince the other Royal Knights to turn against Alphamon?”

    “I believe it’s possible,” the dark knight said to his cohort with a faint smile behind his helmet.

    MirageGaogamon thought quietly for a few moments. The only sound that could be heard was the rattling of their armour. “For the sake of argument… What happens if you can’t?”

    “Then we’ll have entertain other options,” DarkKnightmon cryptically replied.

    “I see,” MirageGaogamon spoke, continuing to walk beside him. He looked over at the Royal Knight. “I’m going to take my claws to the forge to be serviced. Please let me know how things go. Good luck, Sir.”

    “Thank you,” DarkKnightmon told him with a nod.

    The two Digimon went their separate ways. MirageGaogamon crossed the road to the forge by the wall, and DarkKnightmon continued heading down the path to the main building’s entrance. He assumed most of the Royal Knights were inside, but he hoped that they weren’t all together. He thought it would be better if he talked to them individually.

    DarkKnightmon approached the entrance and placed his hand on the door, pushing it open. He hoped that everything would go as planned. He needed it to…

    -

    After a few minutes of searching, DarkKnightmon found Dukemon in the gym. The shirtless Royal Knight was on the floor, doing push ups. Much to DarkKnightmon’s annoyance, Zero ARMS: Grani was with him, spotting him. He supposed he should have expected it, given how close the two were, but it still caused problems because it’s easier for somebody to stand their ground when with a group of friends.

    On the other hand, DarkKnightmon also saw an opportunity. Grani was more rational while Dukemon was more emotional. He thought it might be easier to use his rational arguments to convince Grani than it would be to convince Dukemon, and Grani could, in turn, convince Dukemon. He figured it was worth a try.

    “Hello, Dukemon, Grani,” DarkKnightmon greeted as he stepped into the marble-floored gym.

    “ Ninety six, ninety seve-- DarkKnightmon,” Grani said, looking over at him to acknowledge him.

    Dukemon pushed himself up a final time and got to his knees so that he could begin to stand up. Once up, he grabbed a towel and draped it over his sweaty neck. “Hey,” Dukemon greeted with a grin, panting a bit. “Here for a work out?”

    “I was looking for you, actually,” the dark Royal Knight explained.

    “Oh, sure,” Dukemon said, walking over to the bench nearby to sit down. “What’s up?”

    “Well… I was wondering…” he began tactfully. “How do you both feel about Alphamon?”

    “Alphamon…?” Grani asked. The large, metal dragon eyed him carefully.

    “Feel about Alphamon?” Dukemon questioned, somewhat puzzled by the question as well. “He’s great. Why do you ask?”

    “You don’t feel that he’s lacking in certain areas…?” DarkKnightmon asked.

    “Lacking…? Not really,” Dukemon responded, frowning. He raised an eyebrow at DarkKnightmon. “Do you?”

    DarkKnightmon sidestepped the question and turned to Grani. “I’m just a bit worried about the Order. It feels like we haven’t been making any progress. There are still plenty of attacks and raids on this half of the continent.”

    “And you’re saying that’s Alphamon’s fault?” Dukemon directly challenged.

    “Of course not. I’m just thinking that what the Order needs is to go in a… different direction,” he explained.

    “What direction might that be?” Grani asked him suspiciously.

    “I think that we need to have greater control over the Free Area. We’ll be able to prevent more Digimon from getting hurt that way,” he calmly responded.

    “So, talk to Alphamon about it,” Dukemon said to him.

    “I’ve tried. He won’t listen,” DarkKnightmon told the holy knight Digimon.

    Dukemon folded his arms across his scaled chest. “Because he knows it’s a bad idea,” the crimson knight told him sharply.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed. He could already tell that Dukemon was beginning to turn away from him. He turned to Grani. “I believe that I can run the Royal Knights more efficiently than Alphamon can. We’ll be able to do our jobs better and help more innocent Digimon. Is that not why we agreed to found this Order together?” he asked them both.

    Grani frowned and glanced over at Dukemon. “It is, however…”

    “However,” Dukemon interrupted. “Alphamon’s a good leader. You just don’t like the way that he’s doing things. Don’t mince words, DarkKnightmon. What are you here to say?” The red Royal Knight narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “That you want to take over Alphamon’s position?”

    DarkKnightmon stalled. After a few seconds of thought, he nodded. “I do… I know he’s a good leader, but he’s too soft. He’s lacking certain qualities that make him a great leader.”

    “It’s that ‘softness’ that makes him a great leader,” Dukemon insisted, frowning deeply. “I’m not about to raise a single finger against him.”

    “I don’t plan to dismiss him from the order or anything, Dukemon,” DarkKnightmon assured him, frowning as well. “I simply think that I’m better suited to being Lord of the Empty Seat. I still count him as a friend and a comrade.”

    “If you were his friend, you wouldn’t be conspiring to unseat him,” Dukemon fierily answered.

    DarkKnightmon’s gaze became steely. “Sometimes, Dukemon, you have to look past friendship for the sake of the world,” he explained.

    “So, I guess I know where you’d stand if the Digital Hazard ever got the better of me,” the crimson knight spoke, a twinge of melancholy mixed in with his outrage.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced and looked away. “Don’t make this personal, Dukemon. And don’t put words in my mouth,” he told him. “It’s because you’re my friend that I’m coming here to ask this of you. Support me, Dukemon. Stand beside me, like the many times that we’ve fought together in battle.”

    Dukemon frowned and looked down. “I… can’t, DarkKnightmon,” he said apologetically. “Alphamon’s my friend too. This is one battle I can’t fight with you.”

    DarkKnightmon gritted his teeth. “Very well…” he replied, only barely covering his anger and disappointment. He turned to Grani next. “Grani…? What’s your opinion?” he asked.

    “…My apologies, DarkKnightmon,” Grani told him tranquilly. “I believe that a radical change like the one you’re suggesting would be detrimental to the Royal Knights. And, on a personal note, Alphamon has been good to me. Perhaps talking to Alphamon about your grievances would be a more productive course of action.”

    The shadowy Royal Knight’s gaze became hard. He spun around, his dark cape twisting slightly as he turned. “Forget it,” he said lowly.

    Without another word, DarkKnightmon left the gym in a foul temperament.

    -

    (Continued)
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  12. #37
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    Dec 2006
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    (Continued... pesky character limit.)

    -

    DarkKnightmon stormed through the castle grounds with a severe sneer on his face. Not only had Dukemon and Grani denied him, but Magnamon and Dynasmon refused to support him as well. He had tried to talk to the two Royal Knights, but they wouldn’t even consider the idea.

    Magnamon had diplomatically said, “I’m really sorry, DarkKnightmon, but I can’t get behind you on that. I’m sure you would be a good leader as well, but Imperialdramon Paladin Mode entrusted the Seat to Alphamon, and I believe in his decision.”

    Dynasmon, on the other hand, was far blunter. “Are you insane?! Do you really think I’d betray Alphamon like that?! Where the hell did this come from, DarkKnightmon? What happened to you?” he had responded.

    He appreciated that they agreed not to tell Alphamon about what he proposed, but that did little to console the shadowy Royal Knight. He felt betrayed and ignored. Three of the five Royal Knights wouldn’t support him. That meant he lost the majority he was hoping on getting. On retrospection, he was hardly surprised. Magnamon and Dynasmon had always been extremely loyal to Alphamon. He also knew that Dukemon was a heavy advocate of free will. He felt like those battles had been decided before they ever begun.

    His only chance left was finding an ally in Omegamon. Omegamon had always been sympathetic to his ideas. He said that he understood DarkKnightmon’s point of view where none of the others had. DarkKnightmon held onto that white hope. If he could get Omegamon on his side, then it wouldn’t just be a lone, dissenting voice against all of the others. It would give his argument legitimacy, and it might even sway the other Royal Knights. He hoped that it might even make Alphamon step down on his own, seeing two of his friends speaking out against him.

    DarkKnightmon clenched his fists as he walked through the dark towards the castle gardens. He marched with resentful determination to find the white knight. The gardens were where he was told Omegamon was.

    He walked down a path surrounded by green grass that was barely visible in the darkness of the night. Only when one of the moons reappeared from behind the clouds did he see the dull shimmer of the blades of grass. That same moonlight cast an eerie sheen on his features. It made the skull on his chest armour shimmer fearsomely.

    The Royal Knight saw Omegamon in the distance, walking down the path in the opposite direction. He was flanked by patches of red and blue flowers. As soon as DarkKnightmon saw him, he increased his pace, heading towards him.

    “Omegamon,” he hailed, putting a damper on his agitated emotions in anticipation for their talk.

    “DarkKnightmon?” Omegamon curiously said, walking up to him. “What brings you here?”

    “I was looking for you,” DarkKnightmon explained, stopping in front of him.

    “Oh. I was just stretching my legs,” Omegamon answered. “What can I do for you?”

    “You value our bond as Royal Knights, do you not?” the black armoured knight asked him, looking right into Omegamon’s eyes.

    The Royal Knight was taken aback and surprised. He blinked, confused, and wondered what this was about. “Yes…? Of course. DarkKnightmon?” he questioned, trying to deduce what would make him ask something like that.

    “And you agree with me that the Free Area requires the control of the Royal Knights in order to prosper?” DarkKnightmon followed up. “You have agreed that greater security would better reduce crime.”

    Omegamon slowly began to frown. He started to realize where this was going. “DarkKnightmon… What are you trying to say…?” he asked him apprehensively.

    “I want your help, Omegamon. I need it,” DarkKnightmon explained, his voice laced with fervour. “No… Not just me. The Digital World needs your help.”

    “What is it that you need help with?” the white knight inquired, frowning suspiciously.

    “I… believe that Alphamon is unfit for the role of Lord of the Empty Seat,” DarkKnightmon told him.

    Omegamon quietly stared at him. DarkKnightmon went silent, seeing if Omegamon would respond. For awhile, the two just stared at each other.

    “And you want to take over,” Omegamon deduced, breaking the tense silence.

    “Only because I recognize the potential of the Royal Knights. What we could do if we weren’t so concerned about how everybody would react….” DarkKnightmon explained with a calm zeal, his eyes staring into Omegamon’s. “Alphamon’s weak, Omegamon. Don’t you see that? He doesn’t have what it takes to take this Order to its full potential.”

    “That is your opinion, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon responded. He reached out and placed his hand on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. “I said that I understood your ideals…” he squeezed his shoulder and then slid his hand off. “However, I didn’t say that I supported them…”

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes slowly narrowed into an incredulous glare. “What…?”

    “I’m sorry, DarkKnightmon. I respect your opinion, but I won’t support you if you hope to unseat Alphamon. There are no grounds for it,” Omegamon told him. “If you want, I can tell him about your grievances, but--”

    “I don’t want your blasted pity!” DarkKnightmon snapped, reaching out suddenly and grabbing Omegamon by the collar. Omegamon reacted in surprise and grabbed DarkKnightmon’s wrist. The shadowy Royal Knight glared at his comrade darkly. “You’re all blinded by him! What is it about Alphamon that deceives you so much?!” DarkKnightmon let go of Omegamon and sharply withdrew his hand. “You’re willing to let the evil Digimon of the world run rampant all for the sake of your pathetic friendship?”

    “D-DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon stammered in shock at his uncharacteristic outburst. “What’s gotten into you…?”

    DarkKnightmon glared at him. “I’ve had enough, Omegamon. Enough waiting… enough hoping… I kept fooling myself into thinking things would change… or that my opinions would actually be noticed. but those hopes have been stomped down again and again. None of you are willing to change.” He turned around. “I will have to change things for you all.”

    “DarkKnightmon… What are you talking about?” Omegamon asked, watching as DarkKnightmon started to head out of the castle gardens. Omegamon frowned and made sure to follow him. “Wait for a moment!”

    DarkKnightmon ignored the white knight’s plea. He stormed out of the garden and walked down the cobbled road towards the main building of the headquarters. His eyes were locked in an irritated glare.

    Underneath the surface, DarkKnightmon was seething. Even Omegamon refused him. Was what he was saying so unreasonable? Or was it that they viewed him as lesser than Alphamon? Was their bonds with him worth less than their bonds with Alphamon? Why was he constantly being refused?

    These thoughts swirled around in his head, making him grow more and more angry. He was frustrated at them for not seeing sense, and he was frustrated at himself for not being able to convince them. His impatience and dissatisfaction was at a breaking point. He knew what he had to do if he wanted to see through his goals.

    DarkKnightmon burst through the front entrance, nearly knocking the doors off their hinges. He steamed up the hallway and across the foyer. As the Royal Knight entered the great hall, he saw Alphamon, Dukemon, Dynasmon, Magnamon, OuRyuumon and Grani all standing behind the round council table, talking.

    OuRyuumon was the first to notice DarkKnightmon striding down the hall. The gold dragon sneered and glared the very sight of him. “There’s the two-faced, little traitor…” he hissed.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed. He looked around at the Royal Knights. “It didn’t take you three long, did it? Who was the first to come crawling here with what I told you?” he asked darkly.

    Dukemon’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forwards. “I did,” he told him defiantly. “The other two only spoke up because I mentioned it first.”

    “So principled, Dukemon,” DarkKnightmon sarcastically declared as he made his way halfway down the hall. “It couldn’t be that you’re overcompensating in case, one day, you accidentally run amok thanks to the Digital Hazard.”

    “What?!” Dukemon demanded incredulously, he made a move towards DarkKnightmon with anger.

    Alphamon placed a hand on Dukemon’s shoulder, holding him back. The Lord of the Empty Seat walked forwards instead. “Enough, DarkKnightmon…”

    “You don’t get to say that, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him, narrowing his eyes. He reached into the air, and, in a burst of darkness, summoned the Twin Spear in his right hand. “I’ve had enough.”

    Upon seeing the drawn weapon, OuRyuumon immediately drew his scimitars. Although surprised, Alphamon outstretched his arm in front of OuRyuumon to keep him from acting.

    “DarkKnightmon, what is this?” Alphamon asked, frowning deeply at the Royal Knight.

    “Fight me,” DarkKnightmon demanded in a tranquil, yet unwavering voice.

    “What are you talking about, DarkKnightmon?” Magnamon asked.

    “None of you need concern yourselves,” DarkKnightmon told them firmly. “This is between Alphamon and myself.” His eyes remained fixed on Alphamon. “Fight me, for the leadership of the Royal Knights.”

    Alphamon’s gaze softened. “DarkKnightmon… Go get some rest. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

    The knight’s gold eyes narrowed. “Do not treat me like a child.”

    “Then stop throwing a tantrum like one,” OuRyuumon growled at him, gripping the hilts of the Gairyu swords tightly.

    “Hold that forked tongue of yours for once in your life,” DarkKnightmon snapped at him impatiently. He continued looking at the leader of the Royal Knights. “Fight me, and hold back at your own peril.”

    “I am not going to fight you, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon told him diplomatically.

    Omegamon walked into the great hall to see DarkKnightmon standing with his Twin Spear drawn. “DarkKnightmon, stop this!”

    “I’ll stop when one of us is underneath the other’s boot,” DarkKnightmon forcefully insisted. He glared at Alphamon. “Fight. Me.”

    Alphamon sighed and looked at DarkKnightmon with a sad but stubborn stare. “No… I refuse to fight you.”

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but smirk. “Just like usual… You don’t have the courage to act when it matters.”

    DarkKnightmon suddenly gripped the middle of his lance and broke into a full sprint. He jumped onto the table, planted his metal boot into the stone, and bounded off it. He lunged towards Alphamon and brought his Twin Spear down towards him in a vertical slash. “On your guard!”

    Alphamon’s eyes widened and he recoiled. An intense, radiant light swelled in his hand and grew into the shape of a sword. On instinct, Alphamon raised his holy sword, the Seiken Gradalpha, and blocked DarkKnightmon’s Twin Spear with it.

    “DarkKnightmon!” he protested, shocked by the obdurate attack.

    “Alphamon!” OuRyuumon shouted, gripping his swords and making to intervene. He growled with anger when Dynasmon grabbed his shoulders and stopped him from attacking DarkKnightmon.

    “Don’t get involved, OuRyuumon,” Dynasmon told him, although watching with a restless glare. “They need to sort this out. I think DarkKnightmon needs to get this out of his system.”

    “Yeah…” Magnamon said, although uncertain and worried. “I doubt DarkKnightmon really plans to hurt him…”

    “He’s attacking him with a weapon, moron!” OuRyuumon barked, struggling against Dynasmon’s hold.

    “Alphamon can handle himself,” Dukemon said, backing away as the two knight clashed swords. “And if they get too carried away, we’ll jump in.”

    OuRyuumon reluctantly settled down, slackening his muscles and struggling less. “Fine… but DarkKnightmon already looks pretty carried away to me.”

    Omegamon jogged over to the other Royal Knights and watched the fight nervously. It disturbed him to see the two fighting as they were. He wondered if it would just be better to restrain DarkKnightmon and wait for him to cool down. However, then he wondered if it would be that easy; these feelings seemed to have been brewing for awhile.

    DarkKnightmon broke his clash with Alphamon, withdrawing the Twin Spear and spinning it around in his hand so he could thrust the opposite point towards the knight’s armour.

    Alphamon nimbly pivoted so that the edge of the lance merely slid against his armour. He rushed forwards and slammed his shoulder into DarkKnightmon. The ramming movement was strong enough to force DarkKnightmon back several steps, but he quickly recovered and crossed his Twin Spear in front of him.

    “I don’t want to fight you!” Alphamon shouted in agitation.

    “Then forfeit your seat,” DarkKnightmon told him, levelling his gaze with the black knight.

    Alphamon winced, already knowing what his answer would have to be. “I can’t do that. Imperialdramon Paladin Mode entrusted the Siege Perilous to me.”

    “Then there’s nothing left to say,” the knight replied. He placed both of his hands on the shaft of the Twin Spear and released a sharp breath. He glared at Alphamon and readied himself for combat after having been spurned again. “We duel for the title. Zero attacks. The first one to neutralize the other wins the Seat.”

    Alphamon glowered with frustration at the situation. His large, black fingers curled around the hilt of his sword of light. “Very well,” he reluctantly complied. He placed his free hand on top of his other one, gripping the Seiken Gradalpha firmly and holding it out in front of him. “But remember, I didn’t want this.”

    “Confident, aren’t you?” DarkKnightmon asked, keeping his eyes on Alphamon’s sword so that he could get used to its bright glow. He repositioned his feet to take on a more effective fighting stance.

    “Kick his ***, Alphamon!” OuRyuumon called out from the side.

    Alphamon didn’t acknowledge the cheer. Instead, he was focused on DarkKnightmon. He took a step forwards, making to move.

    As soon as he moved, DarkKnightmon charged him. He bounded across the marble floor and swung his spear horizontally towards Alphamon. Alphamon saw this and swung the Seiken Gradalpha to block it. However, DarkKnightmon expected this. He suddenly flipped his hand over, spinning the lance in a half rotation, and darted to the left. He stabbed the other end of the Twin Spear forwards, evading Alphamon’s block.

    Alphamon saw the feint and tried to move to avoid it, but there was too little distance between them. The tip of the spear collided with Alphamon’s chest armour and tore across it with an awful, metal screech. The force of the blow sent the Lord of the Empty Seat staggering back, but he ignored the throbbing pressure on his skin and counterattacked.

    While DarkKnightmon’s spear was still extended, Alphamon twirled his holy sword in his hand and held it out horizontally. He ran forwards and passed by DarkKnightmon, slamming the side of his sword into DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon felt the Seiken Gradalpha’s hot pressure pound his upper body and send him stumbling in reverse. Grunting in pain, DarkKnightmon swung his arm out in a wide arc and he bashed the thick, metal side of the Twin Spear across Alphamon’s face.

    The other Royal Knights watched tensely as the fight took place. OuRyuumon viewed the duel with a savage scowl on his face.

    MirageGaogamon made his way into the great hall, having heard the sounds of grunts and clashing metal when he came in. He was dumbfounded to see that DarkKnightmon was fighting Alphamon. He wondered what happened to the diplomatic talks with the other Royal Knights, and what happened to make their plans escalate this far. “DarkKnightmon…” he said to himself, watching from the far end of the great hall.

    Alphamon raised his hand to his face, rubbing his helmet which covered his sore and tender cheek underneath. He glowered at DarkKnightmon dangerously, his crimson eyes narrow and irritated. “I’ve had enough of this ridiculousness. I’m not indulging you in this any longer!” he shouted at him.

    DarkKnightmon sneered and swung his spear in front of him, pointing one of the tips at Alphamon. “If you think you can end it, then end it,” DarkKnightmon challenged.

    “Alright…” Alphamon replied. He rushed forwards and swung the raised Seiken Gradalpha down powerfully. DarkKnightmon blocked the attack. Light burst out at the contact and rebounded the spear, but DarkKnightmon kept a strong hold on it. With his other hand, the shadowy knight drove his fist into Alphamon’s exposed gut.

    Alphamon grunted at the blow to his chest, but that was all. He slashed the holy sword down diagonally, only to have it blocked, and swiped it down at a drastically different angle, but DarkKnightmon blocked that with his spear as well. DarkKnightmon held the Twin Spear in front of him, using both ends defensively against the Aloof Hermit.

    DarkKnightmon rushed forwards and raised his left arm which had the crescent blade attached to his arm and shoulder, ramming Alphamon with it. Instead of using the blades, DarkKnightmon hooked Alphamon inside the crescent, inhibiting the use of his arms.

    Alphamon growled as he was pushed back, pressed further into the metal groove. He saw DarkKnightmon raise the Twin Spear to strike him, planning to take advantage of his compromised position. Alphamon suddenly caught himself, planting his feet on the ground, and backpedalled rapidly to put a bit of distance between DarkKnightmon and himself. As he did this, he outstretched his wings and flew upwards into the air. Alphamon flew over DarkKnightmon and slammed his heel into the back of DarkKnightmon’s head.

    The blow sent DarkKnightmon stumbling a bit, but he regained his composure quickly and turned around while skidding to a stop. Just as Alphamon was landing near the center of the hall, DarkKnightmon was upon him again. He slashed at Alphamon again, aiming for the armour at his collar. Alphamon swiftly bent back to avoid the swipe.

    DarkKnightmon followed up the attack with an aggressive stab of the spear. Alphamon swerved to the side to avoid it, letting DarkKnightmon pass him. He brought his sword down on the exposed Royal Knight, but DarkKnightmon was savvy enough to spin around and block the oncoming attack with the blade on his left arm.

    Just as he thrust his lance forwards, Alphamon brought his leg up and drove his foot into DarkKnightmon’s chest at the same time. The lance sent sparks flying from Alphamon’s armour and forced him back, and Alphamon’s foot struck DarkKnightmon’s breastplate and sent him reeling as well.

    The space between the two increased as they recoiled, but it took less than a second for them to recover. Alphamon swung the Seiken Gradalpha in front of him. The sword of light made no sound as it passed through the air.

    DarkKnightmon took a few steps towards Alphamon, winding his arm back. Once it was as far back as it could stretch, DarkKnightmon swept the Twin Spear out in front of him, using his weapon’s superior range to his advantage.

    Alphamon sneered when he saw the lance sweep towards him at a low angle. “This is it,” he thought.

    As the Twin Spear swiftly approached him, Alphamon suddenly jumped with both feet into the air. DarkKnightmon observed with surprise and annoyance as the Twin Spear passed just under Alphamon’s boots and his tucked legs, but the spear had too much momentum for him to stop it immediately.

    Alphamon landed while DarkKnightmon was in mid-swing, and he wasted no time in rushing DarkKnightmon. He flipped the Seiken Gradalpha in his hand so that the blade faced towards the floor. As he closed in on Alphamon, he whipped the fulgent, holy blade upwards. The sword of light tore upwards, slamming DarkKnightmon’s chest and buffeting his arm with enough power to make the knight lose his grip on the Twin Spear.

    The Seiken Gradalpha knocked DarkKnightmon off of his feet and sent him flying onto his back with a metallic crash. The Twin Spear rolled along the marble floor, far out of DarkKnightmon’s reach.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced with pain and concern, and began to prop himself up on his elbows so that he could stand, but he felt a sudden pressure on the golden crest of his chest. He looked up and saw Alphamon looming over him, his black and gold boot on his chest, pushing him back down to the ground. DarkKnightmon grimaced when he saw the glowing, ethereal Seiken Gradalpha poised and pointed at his neck.

    Alphamon kept the sword in front of DarkKnightmon’s neck and face, and his foot remained steadfast on top of the defeated Royal Knight’s chest. “I win… You’re neutralized,” Alphamon told him, drawing heavy breaths as he leered down at him.

    DarkKnightmon panted and shut his eyes, leaning his head back against the hard floor. The Royal Knights sighed with relief that the fight was finally over. OuRyuumon had a smug, victorious grin plastered on his face.

    Alphamon sighed as he looked down at the humbled knight. He vanquished his sword in a wisp of light and removed his foot from on top of him. “Now, can you and I talk about this reasonably?” he asked him. Alphamon stepped beside DarkKnightmon’s body and offered his hand to him as a sign of peace.

    The shadowy Royal Knight ignored the hand, rolling onto his front and standing up on his own. “I’d rather not,” DarkKnightmon brusquely replied.

    Alphamon frowned. “We have to talk about this, DarkKnightmon. I understand if you don’t want to tonight, but definitely tomorrow,” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon gave a noncommittal shrug and slowly walked over to his Twin Spear. He bent down to pick it up.

    OuRyuumon eyed him suspiciously. He kept his Gairyu scimitars ready just in case DarkKnightmon tried anything underhanded.

    However, DarkKnightmon merely picked the spear up and began to head back down the great hall, towards the exit. Alphamon watched him walk away, regretful and saddened by DarkKnightmon’s actions. He felt guilty that his friend felt the way that he did. He hadn’t noticed that DarkKnightmon felt so strongly that he would go to such lengths. It made him feel like a failure as the Lord of the Empty Seat.

    DarkKnightmon silently passed by MirageGaogamon and walked out into the foyer. MirageGaogamon gave the Royal Knights a courteous nod and followed after him.

    “Nice going, Alphamon!” OuRyuumon congratulated, grinning. “You really put that cocky, two-faced bastard in his place.”

    “I took him for granted,” Alphamon said, grimacing as he watched the two Digimon disappear as they turned down one of the corridors. “I didn’t realize that he felt so… dissatisfied. Yet, it was my job to.”

    “It’s not your fault, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon told him, frowning at him. “That guy was conspiring you remove you from your rightful position. He started all this.”

    “Did he?” Alphamon asked. “Maybe if I gave him more notice in the past. I know we disagreed, but maybe I could have conceded a few things here and there…”

    “He wasn’t going to be satisfied until he had things his way,” Dukemon reassured him. “DarkKnightmon isn’t the type of guy to do things by half.”

    “Maybe he’ll be fine tomorrow,” Magnamon suggested with a shrug. “He’ll probably feel sheepish after a good sleep, now that he’s gotten that out of his system.

    Dynasmon rubbed the back of his head, scratching at one of his horns. “I don’t know… I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigned after that.”

    Omegamon frowned. “He said the same thing to all of you? About wanting to remove Alphamon from his position?”

    “To Magnamon, Dynasmon, and I,” Dukemon replied. “We all turned him down.”

    “Me too,” Omegamon said. “Maybe that’s why he acted so rashly.”

    “Well, now you know who your friends are, hey, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon said, folding his arms and looking at the Lord of the Empty Seat.

    Alphamon shrugged dismissively. “I thank you all for your support,” he told them, although with a soft frown on his face. “It didn’t go unnoticed.”

    “If this is going to get all sappy, I’m going to go take a leak,” OuRyuumon said, beginning to walk down the great hall.

    Alphamon managed a small smile at his words and nodded.

    OuRyuumon glimpsed over his shoulder at Alphamon for a moment before turning forward and heading to the exit of the hall. He walked into the foyer and turned right, heading down the torch-lit corridor connected to it.

    He turned down another corridor to where one of the headquarters’ lavatories was located. Upon reaching the washroom, he disappeared inside. When OuRyuumon came back out after a minute, he suddenly stopped in the hallway.

    The Captain of the Strike Forces thought he heard voices coming from further down the dark corridor. The muffled voices definitely sounded familiar in their tone, level, and cadence. This piqued his curiosity. He frowned as he tried to make out what they were saying and who they belonged to.

    OuRyuumon decided to investigate. The gold dragon walked further down the hall, passing by a dwindling torch that was about to go out. He felt the heat against his scales, but the gust that his wing caused by passing the torch caused the flame to be extinguished, forcing him to walk in the dark.

    Despite this, he could still see fairly well in the dark. This was partially due to his eyesight and partially due to the flame that he could see fulgurating down a side corridor that branched off from the corridor he was in. He walked quietly down the hallway, his bladed tail flicking back and forth behind him. It was down the upcoming side corridor on the left that he heard the voices from. Upon reaching the corner, OuRyuumon stopped and listened, fidgeting with one of the purple, fingerless gloves on his claws as he did.

    “Sir, you don’t want to go to Duskmon?” a voice asked.

    “No,” a deeper voice answered in a hushed tone. “It’s just a few bruises. Back to my question: how many of your troops can you rally? And how quickly?”

    OuRyuumon frowned. He recognized the voices for sure. It was MirageGaogamon and DarkKnightmon talking. To confirm it, he peeked around the corner. Indeed, he saw the large, umbrous Royal Knight facing the azure-clad, wolf captain. Both of their backs were turned just slightly towards OuRyuumon as they talked beneath the torch sconce, so they didn’t notice him peering out at them.

    The gold dragon withdrew to remain hidden. “Troops? What are they talking about troops for?” he wondered, finding their topic of conversation unusual. He wasn’t aware of anything happening lately that required the mobilization of the Defence Forces.

    “I can’t be sure, DarkKnightmon,” MirageGaogamon answered. “I’ll need to talk to my leftenants. It depends on whether they’re more loyal to me or to the Royal Knights. It may take some convincing.”

    “I hope you’ll have better luck than I did,” DarkKnightmon said to him bitterly.

    OuRyuumon’s eyes began to widen as he realized what was going on. They were conspiring.

    “Are you sure that it’s come to this?” MirageGaogamon asked with a voice full of apprehension. “Aren’t there any other options?”

    “It’s the only way, Captain,” spoke DarkKnightmon resolutely. “We’ve exhausted all other options. If we want this Order to change, then we’ll need to take it over by force.”

    OuRyuumon glowered furiously as his words of treachery. It took all of the dragon’s willpower not to fly into that hallway and challenge them. Instead, he balled up his clawed fists and remained quiet, listening in vigilantly.

    “It won’t be easy, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him. “Even with us, and even if I get my Defence troops on our side and get them to persuade their friends from other branches of the Order, there are still five Royal Knights and OuRyuumon to consider.”

    “I know…” DarkKnightmon responded, slow and calculating. “Give it time. I know people… There are powerful mercenary teams and freelancers that I can hire. If we pale in quality, we’ll make up for it in quantity.”

    “It will be a civil war among the Order,” MirageGaogamon said with a frown.

    “It has to be done,” DarkKnightmon said. “They brought it upon themselves when they refused to listen. I wish it hadn’t come to this, but there are no alternatives. That’s why I need you to get as many Digimon on our side as possible, but be discreet; we can’t let this get out to the wrong ears.”

    “Understood, Sir.”

    OuRyuumon bit his tongue to keep himself from hissing. The flickering, orange torchlight reflected in his savage, baleful eyes. He took deep breaths to center himself as he eavesdropped on the two conspirators. “They dare to betray us… to betray Alphamon… after everything we’ve worked for?

    “I’ll start making contact with some Digimon tomorrow,” DarkKnightmon replied. “You should get to work tomorrow as well.”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “Also, you and I should meet less frequently. It may arouse suspicion.”

    “Understood,” MirageGaogamon replied with a nod. “I’ll be off now.”

    “Very well. Good luck,” DarkKnightmon said.

    OuRyuumon heard MirageGaogamon say farewell. He heard the wolf Digimon’s footsteps growing louder as he walked away. MirageGaogamon was coming in his direction.

    The dragon Digimon knew that he couldn’t get out of there without being seen, and if they saw him trying to escape, they’d know he was onto them. Instead, OuRyuumon backed up several steps and removed his look of fury and disgust the best that he could. He knew he would have to put on his best performance. He already had practice hiding certain aspects of himself, so he worked off that.

    Now several paces behind the corner, OuRyuumon began to casually walk down the hallway towards it to make it seem like he was just arriving. Just as he did, MirageGaogamon turned the corner and stopped in his tracks when he saw OuRyuumon.

    “…Captain OuRyuumon,” MirageGaogamon said to him, his eyes widening ever-so-slightly. “What are you doing here?”

    OuRyuumon flashed him a casual grin. “Hey, MirageGaogamon…” he greeted him calmly. The grin on his face was disturbingly serene, somehow. “Washroom. …And you? Where are you off to?”

    MirageGaogamon stalled for half a moment as his mind worked like a supercomputer to try and decide if OuRyuumon had heard anything. Ultimately, he decided that it wasn’t in OuRyuumon’s nature to remain calm if he saw or heard something that angered him, and he didn’t want to act suspicious by being overcautious.

    “I’m heading to the forge to pick up my gauntlets,” MirageGaogamon answered stoically. “I brought them in to be serviced over half an hour ago.”

    “Oh, those claws? Good…” OuRyuumon responded, still smirking at him, wide enough that MirageGaogamon could see the rows of jagged teeth in his mouth. He could see that MirageGaogamon was beginning to grow unsettled. OuRyuumon couldn’t help but smile wider. “You never know when you might need to use them, right?”

    MirageGaogamon nodded slightly, looking away from him. “Goodnight, Captain,” he muttered, walking past him at a somewhat increased pace. Now he was rather worried that OuRyuumon did overhear after all. He glanced over his shoulder to see OuRyuumon giving him a final stare before the dragon turned the corner to where DarkKnightmon was. He contemplated going after him, but that would only arouse suspicion if OuRyuumon didn’t hear, and incriminate himself more if OuRyuumon did hear. He released a calming breath and continued walking, hoping that DarkKnightmon would deal with it.

    OuRyuumon turned the corner and his form became completely illuminated by the torchlight. He saw DarkKnightmon walking down the corridor, further into the darkness of the unlit section of hallway. His back was to the dragon and his dark mantle flowed behind him with every step.

    The gold dragon walked into the middle of the hallway and he levelled his gaze with DarkKnightmon’s back. His hand brushed across the hilt of one of the scimitars hanging from his belt, but he moved his claws up to his snout and cupped them around the sides of his mouth to amplify his voice.

    “Hey!” he called down the stone corridor. His high, snarly voice echoed off the walls of the confined space as he shouted.

    Upon hearing the familiar voice, DarkKnightmon stopped mid-stride. He lowered his extended foot and unclenched his muscles. Wordlessly, he looked over his shoulder, acknowledging OuRyuumon with nothing but a gaze from his yellow eye.

    OuRyuumon began to grin again as he walked down the corridor towards him. For a few seconds, there was no sound between them aside from the whirring of the torch and the clacking noise of OuRyuumon’s claws tapping the floor.

    DarkKnightmon watched as he drew near. Between OuRyuumon’s loyalty towards Alphamon and his contentious relationship with DarkKnightmon, he already expected animosity from the dragon. He expected that it would range from smug taunting to outright aggression. He tried to retain his composure, especially after it sounded like he had heard OuRyuumon speaking to MirageGaogamon.

    OuRyuumon walked up beside him and folded his arms, smirking smugly at him. “Alphamon sure kicked your ***, didn’t he?” he said to him.

    Bristling, DarkKnightmon turned and looked at him. “What do you want, OuRyuumon?”

    “I wanna talk with you,” the Captain of the Strike Forces replied.

    “Fine. Say what you have to say,” DarkKnightmon curtly said.

    “In private,” OuRyuumon insisted. He glanced around. “I don’t want anyone to hear this…”

    DarkKnightmon arched his eyebrow curiously, but nodded. OuRyuumon walked past him and lead the way down the hallway. Once at the end of the corridor, they turned left down another hall. At the very end of that was a stone, circular alcove in the corner that held a tight, spiral staircase inside. OuRyuumon began climbing the stairs, followed by DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but frown at the distance they were going. OuRyuumon led him further up the flights of stairs, going past the second level and the third level. Once past the third floor, DarkKnightmon knew that OuRyuumon was heading up to one of the watch towers.

    “Why are we going to the watchtower?” DarkKnightmon asked him, looking up at the dragon above him.

    “Privacy,” OuRyuumon told him, looking over his shoulder. “Besides, I need some air.”

    “If you’re going to mouth off to me, this is a good a place as anywhere,” he dryly said.

    “It’s not about that,” OuRyuumon answered. For the sake of keeping up appearances, he added with a wry grin, “Entirely.”

    DarkKnightmon rolled his eyes and continued following him up the stairs. OuRyuumon reached the top of the stairs and emerged on the flat, open roof of a tower. It was about ten feet in diameter, and the tower parapets were made of large, stone bricks and were about three feet high. DarkKnightmon came up behind OuRyuumon and looked around.

    The night was still dark and gloomy. The double full moons shone brightly, and small wisps of grey clouds floated along on the sky.

    OuRyuumon stopped in the middle of the keep, looking westwards. The night breeze felt soothing to the touch, and all was quiet except for the sound of guards’ talking amongst themselves far below in the courtyard.

    DarkKnightmon walked past OuRyuumon and stood near the edge of the tower so that he could face OuRyuumon. He folded his arms and observed the dragon Digimon with cold, yellow eyes. “You wished to speak with me…” DarkKnightmon said matter-of-factly. “I think I know what you want to speak about.”

    “Do you?” OuRyuumon asked, his smile beginning to fade as he leered at the knight.

    “Yes…” DarkKnightmon responded. As OuRyuumon’s smirk disappeared, a small one grew on DarkKnightmon’s face behind his metal mask. “My… tantrum several minutes ago, when I challenged Alphamon for the Empty Seat. That’s what you want to talk about, isn’t it?”

    “…Yeah…” OuRyuumon replied uncertainly, looking down at him.

    “I know you’re mad at me… You have every right to be,” the dark knight conceded diplomatically. “I just lost a hold of my temper, if you can believe it.”

    OuRyuumon gave him a ghost of a smile. He was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up his façade any longer, not when DarkKnightmon was standing right in front of him, feeding him fake apologies and weaving a fake tale. Inside, his blood was boiling…

    “Funny, that…” he breathed.

    “I know how it looked… Believe me; I’m mortified at what I ended up doing,” DarkKnightmon explained to him. “I was just really frustrated and I’ve had a horrible day. I plan to apologize to Alphamon in the morning.”

    OuRyuumon exhaled through his nostrils sharply. “Yeah…? And what about you said to Dukemon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon? About you wanting to take over,” he asked, playing along for the moment.

    “I admit, I was venting my frustrations in their company… I asked each of them if they would be behind me, just because I needed to be validated,” DarkKnightmon explained calmly. “I never meant to suggest that I wanted their help in unseating Alphamon. That’s partially why I was so agitated when I came in back there.”

    “Oh, I get it…” OuRyuumon replied.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but feel surprised. He didn’t expect OuRyuumon to be quite so understanding. It didn’t feel right. “You do…?” he asked.

    “Yeah…” the serpent Digimon assured him. His bright, violet eyes observed DarkKnightmon closely. “There’s no way you’d ever do something as treasonous as trying to unseat Alphamon, right?”

    “That’s correct,” DarkKnightmon answered, although unease grew within him at the question. “How could I do something to such a dear friend?”

    “…Enough, DarkKnightmon,” his voice whispered in a scathing growl.

    DarkKnightmon looked at OuRyuumon curiously. “I beg your pardon…?”

    “No more lies…”

    DarkKnightmon slowly unfolded his arms, letting them hang at his sides. Without revealing any strong or incriminating emotions, he stared up at OuRyuumon. “What lies?”

    OuRyuumon’s eyes turned hard and savage. The moonlight above beamed down on them both.

    “I know, DarkKnightmon…”

    Behind OuRyuumon, a massive cloud passed over the two moons, blocking them and blotting out their light. The dim, blue glow that tried to illuminate the castle disappeared, and the whole area went dark. As the clouds covered the moons behind him, OuRyuumon’s face became clouded with shadows. He glowered at DarkKnightmon with fiery, baleful eyes.

    Just as DarkKnightmon opened his mouth to protest, OuRyuumon spoke again.

    “I know your plans. You brought this on yourself,” he told him with a vicious glower. He then said one last thing.

    “This is for Alphamon.”

    OuRyuumon burst forwards and rammed his body into DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon let out a grunt and staggered back from the violent shove. He reversed only two steps before the back of his leg collided with the battlements of the wall. They stood shorter than his legs, causing him to lose his balance when he hit them. He began to fall back and he grasped at air to try and catch himself. He looked up at OuRyuumon with utter confusion and shock in his wide eyes.

    “O-OuRyuumon!” he sputtered.

    OuRyuumon snarled. With a final, powerful shove, he knocked DarkKnightmon over the edge of the tower.

    DarkKnightmon let out a sharp gasp and he swiped at OuRyuumon desperately before plummeting. OuRyuumon only managed a glance over the side of the parapets, and watched as DarkKnightmon’s body fell into the abyss of the night. After a few seconds, he heard a loud metallic crash on the cobbles of the courtyard path below. After the impact, he heard nothing.

    OuRyuumon managed a small grimace, but he soon went to work. He bent his long body down and grabbed hold of one of the higher blocks of the battlements. With a heave, he used all of his strength to move the brick and cause it to fall off the tower along with DarkKnightmon. The massive, heavy block of stone plummeted into the darkness as well, and the sound of it hitting the ground and shattering echoed almost as much as DarkKnightmon’s fall did.

    As shouts of confusion and alarm sounded out from the guards, OuRyuumon disappeared back down the staircase.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  13. #38
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    Dec 2006
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    Chapter 15: The Immortal Champion (Part III)

    DarkKnightmon’s body slammed into the stone cobbles with a violent clamour. His form jerked back erratically as he landed on his back. All of the wind was forced out of his lungs, so he couldn’t even cry out at the intense, blinding pain that coursed through his body, muscles and bones.

    However, his data remained intact. His body didn’t disintegrate like a dying Digimon’s would. He just lay there on his back, staring up at the night sky through a blurry haze that clouded his eyes. The clouds that covered the moons passed, and the bright orbs shone their light back down on the landscape. The next thing he knew, another object was falling to the ground as well. Before he could even register it through his incomprehensible agony, a stone brick crashed into the ground a few meters away from him, shattering on impact and pelting his body with pebbles.

    To his surprise, he didn’t hear the crash. His hearing was muffled and clouded. DarkKnightmon grimaced and turned his head to the side, he saw the round, armoured form of a Gladimon, and the fox-like form of a Reppamon running over to him. DarkKnightmon’s vision was brighter than usual; everything seemed like early evening as opposed to near midnight, the actual time. He felt somewhat lightheaded underneath the throbbing pain in his skull, and he could feel a warm liquid trickling from his ears and nostrils underneath his helmet. When the liquid dripped onto the corner of his mouth, he recognized the metallic taste of blood.

    DarkKnightmon tried to regain his senses. At the back of his mind, he wondered how he was still alive. He quickly figured that the thick armour all over his body must have cushioned him from the fall. The fact that he was at the level of a Mega Digimon certainly must have helped as well. Despite that, his body was wracked with pain.

    He slowly rolled onto his side, releasing a deep groan of torment. There was a sharp pain inside his chest. His ribs were tender and he was fairly sure that he had a concussion. Despite these injuries, and the stabbing pain in his body, he continued to try to get to his knees.

    “You mustn’t move, Sir!” he heard the Gladimon insist anxiously as more guards began to hurry over.

    “I’m… fine,” he insisted weakly, getting to his hands and knees. As he stared at the ground for that moment, it began to register how this had happened. OuRyuumon pushed him.

    OuRyuumon tried to kill him.

    Not only that, but OuRyuumon had said that he did it for Alphamon. At first, he felt stunned. Even though they often fought, he never dreamed that OuRyuumon would do something like that to him. He knew that OuRyuumon had found out about his plans, and he knew that the dragon had always been violent, but to think that he would try to kill him…

    Rage and pain ignited in DarkKnightmon like an inferno. The feelings of betrayal and total fury, mixed with the surge of adrenaline and endorphins, poured through his system like a torrent. His eyes grew wide with rage and he suddenly rose to his feet on trembling legs.

    “S-Sir! You’re hurt!” the Gladimon protested.

    “LEAVE ME!” DarkKnightmon snapped, shoving past all of the gathered Digimon.

    He still felt dazed, but a new found determination overtook him. In an almost dream-like state, DarkKnightmon stormed across the street to a large building that had smoke billowing out of its chimney at the base of the wall. He stormed into the building and was greeted with a blast of heat. He looked around the forge and saw MirageGaogamon talking with the Guardromon blacksmith.

    MirageGaogamon nodded and just finished putting on his claw gauntlets when he noticed DarkKnightmon enter. He immediately noticed DarkKnightmon’s haggard condition and turned to him with shock and concern. “S-Sir! What happened?!”

    DarkKnightmon staggered over to MirageGaogamon and grabbed his shoulder roughly. He glared at the Captain with a frenzied look in his eyes. He wheezed furiously.

    “The time… to act… is now!”

    -

    OuRyuumon swiftly walked down a corridor towards the foyer. He looked around uneasily, paranoid that somebody might have seen him or noticed him coming from the tower stairs. Luckily for him, he didn’t see anybody. Unluckily for him, he didn’t know that DarkKnightmon survived the fall. He had kicked off that stone to make to seem like DarkKnightmon had fallen by accident, by leaning against a loose part of wall; nobody would have believed that DarkKnightmon just fell on his own without something causing it.

    He entered the foyer and turned sharply, walking back into the great hall. All of the other Royal Knights were still there, talking.

    “There you are!” Dynasmon remarked, chuckling. “We were beginning to think you fell in.”

    OuRyuumon didn’t respond. The only part of the sentence that registered was the word ‘fell’. He couldn’t help but look flustered and uneasy. “A-Alphamon!” he called out, looking at the Royal Knights, but finding it impossible to make eye contact with any of them, especially Alphamon.

    Alphamon noticed that there was something wrong with his friend. He could tell by his body language. A frown grew on Alphamon’s face. “…OuRyuumon?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

    “There’s been an accident!” OuRyuumon replied heatedly. “DarkKnightmon fell off one of the castle towers! I think a stone came loose or something…“

    Alphamon stood up from the table in horror. “What?!” he demanded, his eyes wide.

    The rest of the Royal Knights followed suit.

    “When was this?!” Dukemon asked, vaulting over his chair to approach OuRyuumon.

    “Just a few minutes ago,” OuRyuumon answered, grimacing.

    “Is he okay?!” Magnamon asked with concern.

    OuRyuumon stalled. “…No… He’s d--“

    OuRyuumon was interrupted when a massive, yellow beam exploded through the side of the great hall, tearing through the marble wall and ripping shards of rock and gold marble away. The Royal Knights dived to the floor in a kneejerk response to the unexpected blast. It passed over their heads, pelting their bodies with bits of rock and marble, and tore along the opposite wall, sending more chunks of marble crashing to the floor.

    The Royal Knights grunted as the beam diminished but wasted no time in getting back up.
    “What the hell was that?!” Dukemon demanded, scrambling to his feet. He summoned the Aegis shield and the Gram lance in his hands as he turned towards the cloud of dust.

    “Are we under attack?!” Alphamon asked, forming the glowing, white, Seiken Gradalpha in one hand and an aura of green power in the other.

    The rest of the Royal Knights also prepared to defend themselves, turning to the haze of dust and smoke.

    A great shadow emerged in the cloud. The large, dark body stepped into the great hall through the hole made in the wall. He strode in with zealous determination, a double-sided lance in his hand.

    DarkKnightmon emerged from the smoke before the Royal Knights. His gold eyes shone with venomous severity and fierceness, and his dark mantle whipped behind him as he approached.

    Behind him followed MirageGaogamon, who appeared stoically from the smoke, the cannon on his chest leaking yellow breath from the attack.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon demanded, seeing them both. “What’s going on?! I thought you... What was that attack?!”

    OuRyuumon’s heart dropped like a comet when he saw the ‘dead’ black knight emerge, very much alive.

    “Thought I was dead?” DarkKnightmon asked, glaring at him darkly. His pupil-less eyes turned to look at OuRyuumon. Despite the pain that still wracked his body, and the blood trickling down his face behind his mask, he couldn’t help but grin at the expression on OuRyuumon’s face. “I’m sorry to disappoint...”

    OuRyuumon’s eyes were as wide as the full moons outside. His jagged teeth were clenched with bitter fear and shock. The claws on his fingers were gripping the Gairyu scimitars so tightly that they nearly dug into their hilts.

    He had no idea how DarkKnightmon survived that fall. He didn’t understand how he managed it. He felt his heart pounding in his chest. Without realizing it, his astounded, outraged, violet eyes between darting back and forth between Alphamon and DarkKnightmon. If DarkKnightmon told them what happened, he’d be kicked out of the Order. Alphamon might never speak to him again. He knew that what he did was for a good reason, but if DarkKnightmon convinced them that he was the victim, then it would be his word against OuRyuumon’s, and DarkKnightmon had the physical bruises as proof. Then again, they just blasted a hole through the side of the wall, but OuRyuumon was too caught up in his worry to register the implications of that.

    “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon observed, raising his Twin Spear and pointing it at him. “I’m one Digimon who can’t be killed so easily.

    OuRyuumon tensed up at his words, standing straight with his long body. He glared at DarkKnightmon with a rivalrous sneer.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Dukemon shouted, walking ahead with a demanding leer. “What’s the meaning of this? Captain MirageGaogamon, why did you do that to the wall? Somebody could have been hurt!”

    As the crimson knight approached, DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes and stepped towards him. “That was the idea,” he spoke, gripping his spear. “Twin Spear!” DarkKnightmon swung his lance upwards, tearing the tip up Dukemon’s chest.

    The spear slammed into his chest, but his armour withheld the attack. Dukemon released a shout of surprise as he was thrown off his feet from the powerful swing and sent flying onto his back.

    “Dukemon!” Dynasmon yelled, rushing over to him with concern.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon scolded angrily. “Lower your weapon!”

    DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes as he beheld the Lord of the Empty Seat. “You expect me to take any heed of what you have to say, Alphamon?” he asked him frigidly. “After everything that’s happened?”

    “Whatever’s happened doesn’t excuse what you just did!” Alphamon replied firmly. “Lower your weapon before you do something that you can’t take back!”

    “Don’t talk down to me, Alphamon! You’re a hypocrite and you know it,” DarkKnightmon snapped back, seething underneath. “You and your cronies should take a hard look at yourselves before you pass judgment on me. All I wanted was to make a difference in the world and you stifled me at every turn!”

    “That’s not true at all!” Alphamon stormed. “Can you not handle being told, ‘no’?”

    “What I can’t handle is you driving this Order into the ground,” the shadow knight told him. “I’m going to wrestle this Order free from your grasp at any cost! I am finished with waiting. Now we are ready to act!”

    Dynasmon finished helping Dukemon to his feet and he looked over at MirageGaogamon. “MirageGaogamon?” he asked the captain incredulously.

    “It’s nothing personal, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told them, readying his claws and narrowing his gaze. “I just happen to believe in DarkKnightmon more.”

    “Attack!” DarkKnightmon ordered, rushing across the debris-cluttered floor of the great hall. He headed straight for Alphamon, his spear poised behind him and his eyes flashing dangerously. “No restraint this time, Alphamon!”

    Alphamon grimaced and readied the Seiken Gradalpha. “Why is this happening...?” he wondered. His gaze slowly hardened. “Don’t test me, DarkKnightmon...”

    “It won’t be like last time,” DarkKnightmon breathed. He looked over his shoulder at MirageGaogamon.

    MirageGaogamon nodded obediently and the gaping wolf maw on his chest suddenly gleamed brightly. “Full Moon Blaster!”

    A beam ripped from his cannon, headed straight for DarkKnightmon’s back as the knight charged Alphamon. DarkKnightmon lunged up, bounding high into the air so that the blast passed under him. As DarkKnightmon moved, Alphamon saw the blast that was behind him, and it swiftly closed in on him.

    Alphamon grunted and dove out of the way, somersaulting across the floor. The beam passed by him and slammed into the back wall. The section of wall burst with a powerful explosion, rocking the great hall and pelting the area with more marble and rock. Alphamon came to a stop on his knee. He looked up and saw a shadow descending on him.

    DarkKnightmon came down on Alphamon, stabbing down at him with his Twin Spear. Alphamon turned around and raised the Seiken Gradalpha, blocking the tip of the lance from hitting him by catching it on the sturdy, semi-physical light of his sword. Alphamon held against him for a second before narrowing his eyes and sweeping his sword outwards.

    The seditious Royal Knight wasted no time in counterattacking. As Alphamon stood up to face him, DarkKnightmon aimed the tip of his lance at him. The Twin Spear surged with dark energy. A pillar of destructive shadows shot out and descended on Alphamon before he had a chance to defend himself.

    Alphamon shouted with shock and pain as the beam slammed into him. The resulting explosion tore up the floor tiles and threw Alphamon through the air. The black Royal Knight was swept up in the beam and the resulting explosion, and he slammed into the circular council table violently, the impact’s pressure splitting the smooth, stone surface down the middle.

    “Alphamon!” Magnamon yelled out with worry. He ran over to Alphamon to see if he was okay. Upon reaching the broken, shattered table, he saw the Alphamon was already stirring. With a grimace, he turned towards DarkKnightmon, who landed on his feet. “DarkKnightmon! Enough of this! Let’s talk about this reasonably!”

    “We’re beyond that, Magnamon,” DarkKnightmon coolly told him. “Either join me or stay out of my way. Otherwise, I’m going to take you down too.”

    OuRyuumon glowered. “You think you can get away with this?!” he snapped, flying into the air and racing towards DarkKnightmon with his scimitars drawn. “I’m gonna kill you!”

    DarkKnightmon turned towards the approaching dragon with narrowed eyes and he raised his Twin Spear to counter him. “Now, now... Don’t start something you can’t finish, OuRyuumon,” he taunted calmly, his eyes flashing. A torrent of shadows ripped from the Twin Spear towards gold dragon Digimon.

    OuRyuumon hissed as he jerked his serpentine body to the right and flew upwards, narrowly avoiding DarkKnightmon’s umbrous beam. He heard the dark energy crackling below him as it flew across the great hall and went right through the hole in the wall, creating a devastating, unseen explosion in another section of the headquarters. OuRyuumon’s eyes narrowed keenly and he swooped down sharply as the blast subsided. As he descended on him, he slashed one of the Gairyu swords down on DarkKnightmon.

    Sparks exploded out from clashing metal. The dark Royal Knight raised the Twin Spear and blocked the Gairyu Udaijin, holding steady against the strike with his own strength. He then noticed OuRyuumon stab the sword in his left hand, the Gairyu Sadaijin, towards his throat. DarkKnightmon swiftly and smoothly tilted his head to the left, causing the sword to slide against his metal helmet and glance off with the sharp, dragging sound of metal.

    DarkKnightmon drove his metal fist into OuRyuumon’s armoured underbelly, extracting a winded gasp and a few drops of saliva from the dragon’s mouth. He gave a hoarse breath, but kept his hold on the struggle against DarkKnightmon’s spear. DarkKnightmon strongly punched him again, arching OuRyuumon’s back and causing him to stumble backwards a few steps as he tried to regain his breath.

    The dragon felt DarkKnightmon’s boot collide with his lower body, driving him back further. DarkKnightmon then lunged at him, swiping his lance down vertically.

    “Damn you...!” OuRyuumon sputtered, crossing his scimitars to block the giant weapon. The swords held true and DarkKnightmon recoiled the Twin Spear to counterattack. With space now available to him OuRyuumon flapped his Gaiba Daimeijin wings and flew backwards to put distance between himself and DarkKnightmon. He extended his Gairyu swords and levelled them with DarkKnightmon’s body. As they began to glow and spark with luminous power, he spoke in a growl.

    “Eiseiryuoujin!” Two blasts exploded from the swords and collided with DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    DarkKnightmon grunted and sneered as the power pounded against his armour. He skidded across the floor on his feet, only barely managing to remain standing as he was forced back several meters. Smoke wafted up from his chest and he glared at OuRyuumon with cold, gleaming eyes.

    OuRyuumon smirked and swiped his swords outwards, flicking the lingering energy from the blades. “You’re not as great as you think you are.”

    DarkKnightmon smiled to himself, suddenly looking over at OuRyuumon’s side. MirageGaogamon tackled the dragon in a blur of azure, raking his claws across his chest. OuRyuumon growled with shock and pain, swiftly responding by slashing his sword across MirageGaogamon’s armour as they flew through the air.

    “Thank you for occupying him, Captain,” he said before turning to the Royal Knights.

    Alphamon glared at him. He held his sword in one hand and swept his other hand outwards. “This is your last chance, DarkKnightmon! Cease this at once and we can lessen your punishment!” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes. “Last chances... Bargains...” he said aloud. “That is precisely why you’re weak, Alphamon.” The shadowy knight took off towards them, weapon in hand.

    Alphamon swore under his breath. “Magnamon! Go help OuRyuumon! The rest of you, with me! No using powerful beam attacks; they could hurt other Digimon and destroy the castle!” he ordered the Royal Knights.

    “Got it!” Magnamon told him, dashing for a few moments before jumping into flight. He soared down the long great hall, to where OuRyuumon and MirageGaogamon were fighting on the opposite end.

    “That won’t stop him from using those attacks!” Dukemon protested, raising his lance and shield, looking at the fast approaching DarkKnightmon. “He’s completely discarded his honour and integrity.”

    “We’ll just have to deal with it,” Alphamon responded. “The forces won’t know what’s going on. We could hurt them if we use powerful attacks while they’re unprepared.”

    “That soft thinking is the reason why this Order will never reach its full potential,” DarkKnightmon exclaimed before lunging into the air. He landed in the midst of Alphamon, Omegamon, Dynasmon, and Dukemon, and began spinning the Twin Spear rapidly. “Treason Vortex!”

    Shadows arced out from the twin tips of the lance, swirling around DarkKnightmon’s body. The dark power grew and multiplied with every swing of the spear. Soon, a maelstrom of shadows spiralled around DarkKnightmon’s body. The darkness swept over the four Royal Knights and blasted their bodies. The four knights were thrown away in separate directions.

    DarkKnightmon burst through the dark veil before it even began to disappear. He raced across the floor after Dukemon, who hit the floor and somersaulted backwards to bring himself back to his feet.

    Just as he began to recover, Dukemon saw DarkKnightmon rip across the floor towards him. His eyes narrowed angrily and power spiralled around the Gram lance. “Lightning Jou—“

    DarkKnightmon slammed the Twin Spear into Dukemon’s lance in a sideways slash, pointing it away from him. The spear exploded with holy energy which shot out and stabbed into the floor with a fearsome explosion. Ignoring the blast, DarkKnightmon slashed his spear in the opposite direction this time. The Twin Spear caught the side of the Aegis, getting inside the shield and knocking it, along with Dukemon’s arm, outwards. Dukemon cursed at DarkKnightmon’s fast and deadly precise actions – his body was completely exposed in this crucial moment.

    Dukemon’s eyes locked with DarkKnightmon’s fiercely. “DarkKni—AHH!”

    DarkKnightmon coldly and ruthlessly swept his Twin Spear down Dukemon’s body. The spear punctured the metal and it tore through his armour vertically, leaving a long, serrated gash in the metal in its wake. The spear’s tip slashed through his scales and drew blood.

    When the lance left his armour, Dukemon fell to his knees, clutching his bleeding chest and breathing heavily. Despite the burning pain he felt, he snarled harshly and stabbed the Gram into DarkKnightmon’s side. The tip caught just the edge of it and dug into his armour.

    “Lightning Joust!” he scathed. Power spiraled around his lance in a holy vortex. The burning energy collected at the point of the Gram, which was embedded in DarkKnightmon’s armour. The tip of the Gram exploded with holy power, shattering the part of DarkKnightmon’s armour at his left hip. He let out a sharp grunt of pain as pieces of armour burst outwards and his skin was burned, bruised, and bloodied.

    DarkKnightmon was blasted to the side, staggering on his feet. His already bruised body throbbed with pain, but he would not be deterred. He caught himself and dug his foot into a nearby crater from one of the attacks. He looked down quickly to survey the damage. His left hip was completely exposed and smouldering with smoke and residual energy. He narrowed his eyes indignantly and turned to Dukemon.

    The crimson Royal Knight heaved in pain, but he was now on one knee instead of two, indicating to DarkKnightmon that he hadn’t given up yet. Dukemon looked around. He saw that Alphamon, Omegamon, and Dynasmon were all pretty much recovered from the Treason Vortex attack by now.

    DarkKnightmon walked over to Dukemon and grabbed him by his long, white hair. He pulled Dukemon’s head forwards sharply, just as he brought his knee up, driving the golden spike into Dukemon’s visor. Dukemon cried out and began to fall back from the blow, but DarkKnightmon wasn’t finished. He drove his bladed boot into Dukemon’s chest, sending him sailing onto his caped back.

    Once Dukemon landed with a crash several meters away from him, DarkKnightmon raised the Twin Spear and aimed the point at Dukemon. He fired a massive, black and purple beam from the spear that slammed into Dukemon and crashed him into the damaged marble floor, creating a crater around the knight. Dukemon was able to shield himself with the Aegis, but it only helped so much.

    The dark knight’s spear brimmed with shadows once again and he fired a second blast onto Dukemon, who weakly tried to sit up. Dukemon was crushed against the floor, and pain flooded through his body. The beam diminished and the armour covering Dukemon’s body was fractured and smoking all over. He gasped, panted, and his body trembled with pain and obstinate struggle, but he couldn’t get back up no matter how hard he tried.

    “Dukemon!”

    Dynasmon roared with anger and came up behind DarkKnightmon, wrapping his arms around the knight’s body and crushing his arms to his side in a painful bear hug to keep him from attacking Dukemon and using his spear.

    “DarkKnightmon! How dare you do this! What’s wrong with you?!” he demanded, right beside DarkKnightmon’s ear. He glared at his face with angry, confused, red eyes. “Dukemon’s your friend, damnit! We all are! Doesn’t that mean anything to you anymore?!”

    “At one time, it would have,” DarkKnightmon told him, grimacing and struggling against the tight, painful hold. “Now, you have all freed me from those bonds.”

    DarkKnightmon drove his head back into Dynasmon’s face, momentarily stunning him. He followed up the attack by driving his elbow back into Dynasmon’s gut. Dynasmon staggered back, growling and dragging his claws against DarkKnightmon’s armour as he recoiled.

    With his arms free, DarkKnightmon was able to act. He spun around and drove his fist into Dynasmon’s face, his knuckles colliding painfully with Dynasmon’s mouth and chin. The violet dragon man kept himself from tripping by poising his wings back and grabbing hold of DarkKnightmon’s wrist. DarkKnightmon was pulled forwards along with Dynasmon. He saw the dragon knight steady himself and proceed to drive his mighty fist into DarkKnightmon’s upper body.

    DarkKnightmon grunted at the shockwave of pain, but as he fell back, he stabbed the Twin Spear into the ground to keep himself from falling.

    Dynasmon steadied himself and felt blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth. He raised his hand to wipe the blood away and observed the crimson smear on his finger with anger and frustration. “So, that’s how it’s going to be, DarkKnightmon...?” His blood red eyes hardened and he outstretched his hands. The gems on his palms began to shine with elemental energy. “Then I’ll take you down! Dragon’s Roar!”

    Raw elemental power – fire and light – came shooting from his palms. They spiralled around one another hypnotically and hurled towards DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon saw them approach at a wide arc before slowly converging, making it difficult for him to dodge. He acted quickly and his body suddenly shone brightly. DarkKnightmon’s body suddenly broke into his two component parts: SkullKnightmon, a short, spry knight with DarkKnightmon’s body and both ends of the Twin Spear on his hands, and DeadlyAxemon, an agile, demonic beast whose body consisted of DarkKnightmon’s legs and the axe on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder. With DarkKnightmon’s body now split, the two diverged in opposite directions, allowing the Dragon’s Roar attack to pass between them and explode on the opposite wall with a massive detonation.

    SkullKnightmon’s short body ripped across the floor, jumped up, bounded off the nearby back wall with his feet and descended on Dynasmon.

    “What?!” Dynasmon demanded, turning towards SkullKnightmon. Unfortunately, distracted by SkullKnightmon’s speed and aggression, he turned his attention away from the faster of the duo, DeadlyAxemon.

    “Air Slicer!” the beast said in a high pitched roar. DeadlyAxemon flanked Dynasmon from the side, moving so quickly that only his afterimage could be seen. His speed rivalled MirageGaogamon, who combated OuRyuumon and Magnamon at the other end of the battle-torn great hall. DeadlyAxemon passed Dynasmon, his bladed body slicing along his back. DeadlyAxemon hit the wall gracelessly and jumped off, rebounding back, and slicing across Dynasmon’s front.

    Before SkullKnightmon even came close to him, he felt his arms, back and wings, burn with an unbearable, stinging pain. He gave a snarl and faltered in his stance. This offered an opening for SkullKnightmon, who slammed into Dynasmon’s chest and stabbed his dual spears into Dynasmon’s chrome digizoid chest armour. “Spear Needle!”

    Dynasmon was thrown back by the powerful, painful impact, but not before grabbing SkullKnightmon by the head and instinctively blasting him at point blank range, shooting him like a cannon out of his large palm. SkullKnightmon skidded across the floor but quickly righted himself and stood upright.

    Upon standing up, he found himself bombarded by blasts of emerald energy, which exploded around him. He braced himself with his spear arms and saw Alphamon firing on him, taking the opportunity to intervene now that Dynasmon and he were separated.

    “Dynasmon! Your attacks are too powerful!” Alphamon told him as he fired small Digitalize of Soul blasts from his palm.

    Dynasmon grimaced, looking around and noticing that the great hall seemed to be on the verge of collapsing by this point. “R-Right...” he grunted.

    “DeadlyAxemon! To me!” SkullKnightmon commanded.

    “Got it!” DeadlyAxemon replied, ripping across the floor and skidding to a stop at SkullKnightmon’s side.

    “DigiXros!” SkullKnightmon announced. The two partitioned Digimon began to radiate bright white and grey light. Their bodies converged into one another’s and, once again, they formed DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon turned towards Dynasmon and pointed his Twin Spear at the Digimon. A dark aura swirled around the long, conical lance.

    “Plasma Shoot!” a voice called out from the side.

    Four golden missiles streaked through the air towards DarkKnightmon, smoke puffing out from behind them. Just as DarkKnightmon pivoted to see them, the four descended on him, and four explosions blasted him from every angle, swallowing him up in golden fire and smoke.

    As DarkKnightmon let out a reflexive shout, Magnamon dashed over to Dynasmon’s side.

    “Magnamon!” Omegamon proclaimed, surprised to see him back here.

    “What are you doing here?” Alphamon asked, looking at him and then turning back to look down the great hall. MirageGaogamon and OuRyuumon were still clashing.

    “OuRyuumon assured me he could handle MirageGaogamon,” Magnamon replied. “They were too close together for me to do anything anyways, and I thought you could use more help against DarkKnightmon.”

    Dynasmon managed a pained, half-grin. “You’re probably right about that...”

    “Alright,” Alphamon said, watching the cloud of smoke for DarkKnightmon, carefully. He motioned with his hand to Omegamon, telling him to flank DarkKnightmon from behind. “Just watch those explosions.”

    Magnamon nodded and dashed ahead of the dragon, running towards the haze of smoke created by his missiles. Inside the cloud, he saw DarkKnightmon’s shadowy silhouette, using his spear to keep himself standing. Magnamon lunged into the smoky miasma and drew his fist back. “Magnum Punch!”

    His blue, clawed fist, supercharged by the golden energy of Miracles, connected with DarkKnightmon’s face, causing his head to jerk back and force him to stumble. “Magnum Kick!” He followed up with a strong, golden kick into DarkKnightmon’s gut, making the dark knight double over and wheeze.

    As Magnamon landed, DarkKnightmon lashed out with his free hand , driving his palm into Magnamon’s throat and curling his fingers around his neck. DarkKnightmon squeezed tightly, cutting off the golden knight’s oxygen, and lifted him off the ground, holding him at arm’s length so that Magnamon couldn’t reach DarkKnightmon’s body with his punches or kicks.

    Magnamon gasped and choked, struggling to hit DarkKnightmon, one of his claws on DarkKnightmon’s wrist to try and pull his hand off his neck. DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed coldly and he squeezed harder.

    “Magnamon!” Dynasmon shouted. He flapped his large, violet wings strongly and lifted himself off his feet. Despite the stinging he felt in them from DeadlyAxemon’s attack, he flew forwards to help his friend.

    Dynasmon dove towards DarkKnightmon, winding his fist back. DarkKnightmon glanced up at him and, without letting go of Magnamon, raised the Twin Spear in his other hand. The weapon surged with dark, violet power, and a beam launched through the air at Dynasmon, hitting him head on. Dynasmon released a snarl of pain as the beam exploded on contact with him and he was blasted out of the air. Dynasmon crashed to the ground in a heap.

    Magnamon released a muffled, garbled growl and went to work on punching the arm that held him. He was distraught to see that it wasn’t helping his situation very much. DarkKnightmon turned his Twin Spear towards Magnamon, angling one of the sharp tips with his body.

    Magnamon glared defiantly at the fallen knight before him. “Plas...ma... Shoot!” he rasped. His golden shoulder guards suddenly glowed and, from inside of them, two missiles sailed out and crashed downwards, at DarkKnightmon’s feet. The explosions erupted between them, throwing them apart violently. Magnamon slid out of the grip of DarkKnightmon’s fingers and he was blasted away by the explosion, slamming into the debris-littered floor and skidding across it on his back. With a grimace, he stopped near Dynasmon.

    DarkKnightmon was also thrown backwards, but he managed a backwards somersault in mid air so that he could right himself and land on his feet. As soon as he touched down, something caught his eye. He recognized a flash of white over his shoulder, and knew that Omegamon was lurking behind him. DarkKnightmon wasn’t about to be stabbed in the back a second time. The dark paladin raced forwards, away from Omegamon and towards Dynasmon and Magnamon. He ducked and jumped over the small but concentrated Digitalize of Soul blasts that Alphamon fired at him as he ran.

    Alphamon grimaced, starting to run to intervene. “Dynasmon! Magnamon! Look out!” he warned them, still firing green beams from his palms as he moved.

    Dynasmon and Magnamon were helping one another to their feet when they heard Alphamon’s warning. They turned and saw DarkKnightmon closing in on them at incredible speeds.

    Magnamon grimaced and his golden armour began to glow with concentrated energy. “Plasma Shoot!” he called out. However, instead of missiles, it was a variant of the attack; golden power burst from his armour towards DarkKnightmon. Dynasmon raised a hand and scowled, aiming his glowing palm at the fast approaching knight. “Dragon Thrower!”

    Golden and white power blasted from the two knights and flew alongside the other in synchronicity. DarkKnightmon slammed his foot into the ground, creating cracks in the tiles, and bounded high into the air. He narrowly avoided the two attacks. The radiant beams grazed and superheated the soles of his boots, but he jumped high enough to pass over them.

    DarkKnightmon continued to ascend, lunging over the two Royal Knights. Just as he was above them, he aimed the Twin Spear down at them. A pillar of shadows ripped from the spear and descended upon the two Royal Knights, crushing them into the floor.

    Magnamon and Dynasmon’s shouts of pain were drowned out by the sound of dark power all around them. They were forced to their knees, and when the beam subsided, their forms throbbed and smoked with dark power.

    DarkKnightmon landed behind them and immediately turned around. He dashed towards the two Royal Knights, his lance held behind his back in a poised position. However, Dynasmon and Magnamon weren’t finished just yet. They both shot to their feet and spun around, their fists clenched and ready to punch the dark Royal Knight.

    DarkKnightmon swept the Twin Spear out in a smooth, savage arc. The lance ripped across Dynasmon and Magnamon’s bodies before they could get close enough to him to attack. Their stances faltered and their muscles began to give out. DarkKnightmon then levelled the Twin Spear with their pained bodies and released another beam blast at them at point blank range.

    The dark torrent of energy enveloped the two Royal Knights and sent them flying through the air within the shadows’ folds. They tumbled across the floor for several meters before coming to a stop. Neither Magnamon nor Dynasmon moved.

    “DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon shouted with anger and a tinge of fear, glaring at him for what he was doing to his friends and comrades.

    “All of this could have been avoided,” DarkKnightmon muttered, ducking under a streak of emerald energy that Alphamon fired at him.

    Alphamon sneered and clenched the Seiken Gradalpha in his right hand, which hummed with holy energy. He charged towards DarkKnightmon.

    However, DarkKnightmon, instead of going to meet Alphamon’s charge, broke off in a different direction. He rushed towards Omegamon.

    Omegamon’s blue eyes calmly narrowed when he realized that DarkKnightmon wanted him to be his next opponent. The white knight accepted his challenge. He dashed across the floor towards DarkKnightmon; he swept out the long Grey Sword from his left arm and aimed the Garuru Cannon on his right in front of him, at DarkKnightmon.

    “You can still stop this, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon told him, rushing to meet the knight head on.

    “You say with a raised sword,” DarkKnightmon responded, continuing to charge him.

    “What do you expect?” Omegamon answered, narrowing his eyes as he swiped the Grey Sword out.

    The sword sang a metal hum as it swept in front of Omegamon at a horizontal arc. DarkKnightmon quickly brought the Twin Spear to block it, and the two collided in a crash of armour. The two knights rebounded off each other, Omegamon slightly further due to DarkKnightmon’s strength advantage.

    Omegamon used his recoil to his advantage. As space grew between them, he aimed the Garuru Cannon and fired a powerful blast of bright, blue energy. “Garuru Cannon!” he shouted as the massive, spherical orb pulsed from his cannon.

    Unable to dodge the attack at such a close distance, DarkKnightmon swung the Twin Spear up to help block the attack, but it could only do so much. The sphere of cold, freezing power slammed into DarkKnightmon’s spear, shoving it back against his chest, before the rest of the blast collided with his upper body too. He grimaced upon feeling the numbing cold coat his spear and his armour. The enormous, concussive blast sent him reeling back and he saw forced to slash out his icicle-dripping spear to keep himself standing as he skidded along the floor.

    Over his shoulder, he noticed Alphamon coming up behind him, slashing horizontally to strike his back with his holy sword. DarkKnightmon exhaled sharply and swiftly pulled the Twin Spear behind his back, using the thick edge of it to block the Seiken Gradalpha from hitting his armour and his tender back. The sword struck his spear, and while it cushioned the worst of the damage, he still felt the enormous momentum of the blow, forcing him to stagger forwards, back towards Omegamon. As DarkKnightmon stumbled, he fired a beam blindly behind him at Alphamon. The dark blast grazed the side of Alphamon’s arm and hit his protrusive shoulder armour, knocking him back.

    DarkKnightmon took advantage of his forward momentum to increase his charge towards Omegamon. He stabbed the Twin Spear towards Omegamon’s chest, but Omegamon swerved to the left and gave a backhanded slash with the Grey Sword towards DarkKnightmon’s chest. DarkKnightmon acted quickly, bringing the Twin Spear up to block it.

    Omegamon swung his right arm and drove the muzzle of the Garuru Cannon into DarkKnightmon’s face. Temporarily stunned, DarkKnightmon reeled back from the blow. Omegamon saw his opportunity. He raised the Grey Sword and swept it down DarkKnightmon’s chest armour.

    The fallen knight sneered with pain and frustration as the metal-on-metal caused sparks to cascade out from his chest. “Omegamon...” he growled, grabbing one of the side horns of the Grey Sword to resist against the slash. He stabbed the Twin Spear against the armour covering Omegamon’s upper body, forcing him back a few steps as the tip scratched the paint and dug into the metal, although not deep enough to breach.

    DarkKnightmon aimed one of the ends of his lance at Omegamon. Omegamon saw the weapon flow with shadows and realized that he was about to fire it. He swiftly aimed the Garuru Cannon and fired a quick but powerful blast from the mouth of the cannon. The strong orb slammed into DarkKnightmon’s hand, exploding mightily on contact, forcing the Twin Spear out of DarkKnightmon’s hand.

    The yellow eyes of DarkKnightmon widened slightly as the spear crashed to the floor out of his reach. Without his primary weapon, DarkKnightmon was left at a disadvantage. This, he wouldn’t tolerate. DarkKnightmon charged at Omegamon and slammed the massive axe of his shoulder into Omegamon’s body cutting against him and ramming him violently. Omegamon let out a grunt as he was sent staggering in reverse. With Omegamon temporarily predisposed, DarkKnightmon lunged after the Twin Spear, which lay on the ground several meters away from him. Omegamon saw DarkKnightmon make for the weapon, and although still unbalanced, he acted. The white knight raised the Garuru Cannon swiftly and fired it with the best aim that he could muster in that moment. A blast of power ripped from the cannon and exploded against DarkKnightmon’s shoulder just as the dark warrior closed in on the weapon.

    DarkKnightmon released a surprised and frustrated shout as the blast sent him flying onto his caped back. Omegamon managed to right himself and he took off after DarkKnightmon before he could recover as well.

    The holy knight flew up and landed with boot on DarkKnightmon’s chest, forcing him down. He placed one foot on DarkKnightmon’s wrist and squatted over DarkKnightmon. The Garuru Cannon hovered over DarkKnightmon, aimed at his face and upper body.

    DarkKnightmon stared down the muzzle of the cannon. He saw bright, azure energy beginning to accumulate within the cannon’s mouth. He grimaced and looked past the weapon, up at Omegamon.

    “Well, old friend...” he said somberly, with the air of defeat heavy in his voice.

    Omegamon glared at him silently, still gathering energy within his cannon.

    DarkKnightmon laid his head back. “Do it, Omegamon...” he softly said, gazing up into Omegamon’s eyes. “You’ve won.”

    The white knight stalled, although power continued to grow in the Garuru Cannon’s muzzle.

    DarkKnightmon continued staring at him. “Do it...” he urged him.

    The white knight’s hard gaze faltered. He stared down at his friend and knew that he couldn’t fire. He grimaced and the energy in the cannon subsided.

    A victorious glint shone in DarkKnightmon’s eyes.

    He drove his knee into Omegamon’s groin, eliciting a sharp yell from the Digimon. Omegamon stood up on reflex, which gave DarkKnightmon more room to manoeuvre. He tucked his leg into his chest and then propelled a painful kick into Omegamon’s stomach, lifting the knight off his feet for a moment. DarkKnightmon then lashed out his other leg to sweep kick Omegamon’s legs.

    Omegamon grunted as he felt his legs be kicked out. He crashed to the floor, landing on his back. At the same time, DarkKnightmon swiftly scrambled to grab the Twin Spear from nearby. Once he felt the hilt of the Twin Spear back in its rightful place in his hand, he raced towards Omegamon.

    The white knight watched as DarkKnightmon approached and he quickly raised his Garuru Cannon to defend himself, aiming to fire at DarkKnightmon. He narrowed his eyes; this time he wouldn’t falter. Energy gathered in his cannon, but DarkKnightmon was too quick.

    DarkKnightmon stuck the Twin Spear right into the muzzle of the Garuru Cannon, fighting against the power that was building up there. The dark knight’s eyes flashed and he suddenly unleashed a massive blast of dark power from the Twin Spear. The shadowy blast ripped through the Garuru Cannon, fracturing the cannon and engulfing Omegamon’s arm with tearing, black power. Omegamon shouted in agony as the energy enveloped his arm.

    DarkKnightmon withdrew the Twin Spear, the lance crackling with shadows and vestiges of icy energy. He calmly spun the Twin Spear around and thrust the opposite end downwards onto Omegamon. The sharp tip dug into Omegamon’s breast plate, embedding in the thick armour and hooking him as DarkKnightmon suddenly brought the spear upwards. With a heave, DarkKnightmon used the spear to raise Omegamon off of the floor, dragging him so that his feet no longer touched the shattered marble. He raised Omegamon high over his head, so that he was stuck on the end of his spear. As soon as Omegamon was immediately above him, a massive beam surged from the end of the Twin Spear, engulfing Omegamon in a pillar of shadows.

    The darkness exploded on contact with Omegamon, fracturing his armour and tearing a yell of pain from his throat. DarkKnightmon then whipped his spear to the side, throwing Omegamon off of the tip. He fired another dark blast from the spear, which slammed into Omegamon and sent him crashing into the wall. The already fractured wall started to collapse around Omegamon and he fell to the floor with a clatter, becoming partially buried by the crumbling wall.

    -

    Continued next post...
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  14. #39
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    Continued from the previous post... Hopefully this is the last of these for awhile.

    -

    When DarkKnightmon was sure that Omegamon wasn’t getting back up any time soon, he sighed and turned to face his next opponent. When he looked, his eyes widened; Alphamon was in front of him with a furious stare, his sword raised.

    Alphamon slashed the Seiken Gradalpha down on DarkKnightmon, who was only just barely able to raise his spear to block the savage swipe.

    “DarkKnightmon! You honourless traitor!” Alphamon growled, his sword crackling with tendrils of light as he pushed against DarkKnightmon’s lance.

    You made me sink to these depths,” DarkKnightmon said calmly, but with no less intensity hidden beneath his words. “It’s the only way I can safeguard this world.”

    “Pure selfishness and rationalizations!” Alphamon retorted, retracting his sword and raising his palm, which radiated green power intensely. “Digitalize of Soul!”

    An emerald beam pulsed out and slammed into DarkKnightmon’s body. Some of the blast hit his exposed skin at his hip where a large chunk of armour was missing, sending pain shooting up his chest. He flew back from the blast but stabbed the back end of his spear into the ground behind him, halting him. At the same time, the front end of the spear was aimed at Alphamon, and he levelled a beam with Alphamon’s body.

    Alphamon’s crimson eyes narrowed at the oncoming beam and he pulled the Seiken Gradalpha back behind his head with both hands, winding the sword up before slashing straight down mightily. The holy sword swept through the black and purple beam, parting it down the middle.

    As soon as the shadows began to dissipate, DarkKnightmon’s Twin Spear suddenly soared through the shadows, thrown by its owner. Like a javelin, the spear flew at Alphamon and collided with his undefended upper chest. He let out a cry of shock as he staggered back.

    Already, DarkKnightmon was upon him, driving his axe into Alphamon’s armoured body, sending him crashing to the ground. DarkKnightmon quickly picked up his spear and lunged at Alphamon, swinging his giant weapon down on him.

    Alphamon grimaced and rolled out of the way as the metal collided with the ground, puncturing the floor. Immediately after the collision, the tip of the spear exploded with power, blasting Alphamon to the side. The Lord of the Empty Seat slid along the ground but fired a Digitalize of Soul blast as he did. The beam cut across DarkKnightmon’s leg, almost causing it to buckle.

    DarkKnightmon hissed with pain but managed to remain standing. He was already in so much pain from the fall and from the previous fights, but he refused to give in. He refused to lose when he was so close.

    “You’re the selfish one, Alphamon!” he shouted across to him. “You’re too concerned about making a stir that you’re afraid to give the Digimon of the Digital World what they need.”

    “I refuse to impose my own will and desires on the Digimon on this land!” Alphamon responded, struggling to his feet. He gripped the Seiken Gradalpha tighter. “You just want to control everybody!”

    “You can’t comprehend me at all,” DarkKnightmon told him emotionlessly. “That’s part of the reason why this coup d’état is necessary.”

    “You won’t be successful,” Alphamon exclaimed, leering at him. “I’m going to defeat you, DarkKnightmon.”

    “Wrong again,” DarkKnightmon answered.

    The two said nothing more. They charged towards each other with determination and resistance.

    The former friends met. Alphamon slashed his sword of light down on DarkKnightmon. The fallen knight pivoted out of the way, causing the Seiken Gradalpha to slam into the floor and send an explosive fissure through the stone for several meters.

    DarkKnightmon swung the Twin Spear in his hand, slamming one edge across Alphamon’s face. He continued spinning the spear, aiming the other end for Alphamon’s chest. The Lord of the Empty Seat used his wings to fly into the air, dodging the blow. As he ascended, he slammed his boot into DarkKnightmon’s face to pay him back. The treacherous knight scowled at the blow and continued spinning his spear, creating a cyclone of shadows around himself.

    “Treason Vortex!” he called out, creating a dark, abyssal maelstrom that engulfed Alphamon.

    Alphamon felt himself being buffeted and beaten by the shadows around him, tossing him around the umbrous tornado. He snarled and swung his holy sword strongly, dragging the blade of light down the shadowy vortex. Despite his pain, Alphamon extinguished the attack, hacking through it with several precise strokes.

    “Digitalize of Soul!” he shouted, firing a strong emerald beam from his palm that slammed into DarkKnightmon’s chest. Alphamon descended on DarkKnightmon, swiping his weapon down on him with a low, whirring sound.

    Although his chest armour smoked, DarkKnightmon darted to the side to avoid the slash. He drove the side of his Twin Spear into Alphamon’s face. The metal crashed against Alphamon’s face mask and caused his head to jerk backwards. DarkKnightmon whipped the spear around again and then thrust the lance forwards, stabbing into Alphamon’s wing, where the golden feathers protrude from. Alphamon let out a roar of pain and drove his palm into DarkKnightmon’s face, releasing a small blast of emerald energy upon contact.

    DarkKnightmon snarled and clutched his face with a hand, pained and blinded for a few seconds. He wildly slashed his spear, dragging the point down Alphamon’s chest armour and blasting him with a powerful discharge of shadows. The beam slammed into Alphamon’s armour and sent him crashing onto his back.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat grimaced, his form battered and wafting with smoke. He slowly started to sit up to see DarkKnightmon charging with, the treasonous knight’s eyes cold and angry.

    DarkKnightmon stabbed his spear down at Alphamon. Alphamon moved out of the way so that only his cape was pierced by the weapon. He knew that DarkKnightmon was now exposed, so he struck. He stabbed the Seiken Gradalpha up into DarkKnightmon’s left shoulder, deliberately missing his chest. A snarl of pain and agony bellowed from DarkKnightmon’s throat as the ethereal sword pierced through DarkKnightmon’s armour and impaled his shoulder.

    DarkKnightmon looked down at Alphamon, his eyes glowing a fearsome red hue. The knight raised his foot and began slamming his boot down on Alphamon’s face repeatedly. As he stomped on Alphamon, DarkKnightmon stabbed the Twin Spear into Alphamon’s arm.

    In utter pain, Alphamon released the Seiken Gradalpha, causing it to evaporate in a flash of light. Released from the sword’s hold, DarkKnightmon withdrew his lance and spun it over his head, one-handed.

    “Treason Vortex!” DarkKnightmon called. He pressed hit foot down on Alphamon’s neck, holding the Royal Knight in place as the dark maelstrom consumed them.

    Pain flooded through Alphamon’s body as the dark power burned at his form, fractured his armour, and crushed him with its pressure. Pieces of the great hall’s ceiling began to crash to the ground and shatter.

    When the vortex subsided, DarkKnightmon aimed the Twin Spear down at Alphamon’s body. With zero range between them, he released a massive beam that blasted Alphamon further into the ground.

    Alphamon groaned and was hardly able to resist as DarkKnightmon picked him up by the collar. DarkKnightmon looked Alphamon in the eyes. He pressed the Twin Spear against Alphamon’s chest and fired a final beam against his body. Alphamon tried to fire two Digitalize of Soul blasts from his hands, but he wasn’t able to launch them until it was too late, causing them to miss DarkKnightmon and rip up the floor on both sides of the dark knight. The Lord of the Empty Seat was thrown through the air by the vicious blast and he crashed to the ground at the base of what was left of the shattered stone table that they used to use.

    This time, Alphamon didn’t get back up.

    He lay on the ground, trying to move, but his muscles protested and refused to comply.

    DarkKnightmon stalled for a few seconds, making sure that what he was seeing was the truth. When those moments passed, DarkKnightmon started to slowly move towards Alphamon. His whole body burned with pain. His left arm trembled from when it had been stabbed, and blood trickled out from the wound on his hips. He felt like one of his ribs may have been broken, and there wasn’t one part of his body that wasn’t bruised.

    However... he won and he knew it.

    Alphamon watched as DarkKnightmon stalked towards him. He seemed barely able to carry himself now that the adrenaline was wearing off.

    DarkKnightmon loomed over Alphamon’s defeated form. He looked Alphamon over carefully. Alphamon merely grimaced and looked up at him.

    Suddenly, DarkKnightmon began to laugh. His eyes gleamed as he chuckled darkly at the situation.

    “I did it... I defeated the Royal Knights on my own...” he proclaimed, calmly laughing to himself. “I didn’t need the mercenaries after all.”

    “D...DarkKnightmon...” Alphamon weakly said between haggard breaths.

    DarkKnightmon looked down at Alphamon with a small smirk behind his scuffed mask. “Don’t you see, Alphamon...? Look at what Digimon can accomplish when they let go of their petty qualms and inhibitions...” he told him.

    DarkKnightmon placed his foot on Alphamon’s chest, pressing down. Alphamon grimaced and gave a grunt of protest, futilely trying to push back.

    “Now all that’s left is to deal with your friend OuRyuumon, but that won’t be a problem,” DarkKnightmon told him calmly, despite the pain that he felt. “You can rest assured, Alphamon. I still have compassion. I won’t kill you and the other knights; you’ll just have to be placed in the dungeons.”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes defiantly. However, something suddenly shone in the corner of his vision.

    “I... wouldn’t be so sure...” a voice boldly said. “Final Elysion!”

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes widened. He turned towards the voice, but it was too late. A beam surged across the great hall and engulfed DarkKnightmon, throwing him off of Alphamon, who was spared the impact of the beam above him.

    The beam subsided slowly, leaving DarkKnightmon on his back several meters away from Alphamon. The Lord of the Empty Seat looked over to see Dukemon sitting in a crater, leaning against the Gram lance which was stabbed into the floor behind him, and holding the Aegis in front of his body. The shield slowly stopped glowing and he offered a faint grin.

    “I’m not going to let DarkKnightmon do what he wants with me,” he said weakly.

    “Me... neither...” Dynasmon said, He lay on his side and weakly aimed one of his large hands at DarkKnightmon.

    “F-Fools,” DarkKnightmon said, getting to a knee and using his spear to hold himself up.

    “Dragon’s Roar,” Dynasmon spoke, firing a single blast of light towards the knight.

    DarkKnightmon dug deep and swiftly stood to his feet. He raised his spear upwards and slashed it down, but the beam broke through his defenses and exploded against his chest. He let out a brief shout of pain and frustration as the explosion quaked through his armour.

    Another bloodied and beaten Royal Knight began to protest as well. Magnamon glared and propped himself up on his left forearm, pressing his other hand against the ground to elevate himself further.

    “Plasma Shoot!” he called out. Four missiles launched from Magnamon’s shoulder armour and steamed through the air towards DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon, who was still trying to recover from Dynasmon’s debilitating attack, had no time to defend himself or escape. The four missiles converged on him and exploded in a large explosion that rocked the weakened foundations of the castle, causing more stone to collapse.

    Omegamon knocked pieces of rubble off of his body and weakly raised his fractured Garuru Cannon, taking aim at DarkKnightmon. “I’m sorry, DarkKnightmon,” he thought to himself. “Garuru Cannon!”

    Omegamon fired a powerful blast from the Garuru Cannon, which shattered around his arm as soon as the blast left the muzzle. The orb sailed into the remnants of the explosion and collided with DarkKnightmon’s chest, creating another explosion.

    DarkKnightmon shouted out and was sent flying through the air, crashing into the base of the dilapidated wall.

    Alphamon grimaced and rolled onto his stomach. His tattered cape hung over his side as he slowly got to his hands and knees, forcing his muscles to obey him. After several difficult seconds of struggle, Alphamon finally stood up. He looked over his shoulder and gave his fellow Royal Knights an appreciative gaze, before turning to DarkKnightmon.

    He walked towards DarkKnightmon, summoning the Seiken Gradalpha in his hand once again.

    DarkKnightmon grimaced and slowly tried to raise himself to his feet. He and Alphamon were both as damaged as one another. With resistance and defiance, DarkKnightmon stood to his feet, his whole body trembling. His pupil-less yellow eyes narrowed and glared at Alphamon. He wouldn’t be defeated... Not when he was so close. He wouldn’t let Alphamon take this victory from him.

    He gripped the Twin Spear and weakly raised it.

    Alphamon charged DarkKnightmon. DarkKnightmon stabbed the spear towards Alphamon.

    Alphamon swerved out of the way of the Twin Spear, which grazed his side in a flurry of sparks. The Lord of the Empty Seat pressed his hand on the Twin Spear and blasted it away with a Digitalize of Soul blast. The spear went spinning out of DarkKnightmon’s grip. Alphamon unleashed a strained yell as he slashed the Seiken Gradalpha diagonally down DarkKnightmon’s body, tearing through his armour and burning his chest with holy light.

    The sword left DarkKnightmon’s armour and he lurched forwards, falling to his knees. The light in his yellow eyes began to dull and he fell to his side with a crash. The knight fell into unconsciousness.

    Panting with exhaustion, Alphamon withdrew his sword and held it out to the side. He looked down at DarkKnightmon’s unconscious body and his anger and battle-adrenaline began to fade.

    “Is everybody okay?” he called out.

    Dukemon groaned. “I think I’ll live,” he answered, trying to stand to his feet.

    “Me too...” Magnamon said, painfully getting to his hands and knees.

    Omegamon and Dynasmon both nodded and tried to move as well.

    “OuRyuumon?” Alphamon said, remembering that he had been fighting Captain MirageGaogamon. He grew concerned for his friend. In their states, they wouldn’t be able to be much help against the treasonous captain. Moreover, the sounds of fighting coming from the other end of the great hall had stopped.

    “Fine,” a voice rasped.

    The Royal Knights turned to see OuRyuumon walking down the expansive, ruined hall towards them. There were bloody cuts and burns all over his body, and his armour was scratched and fractured in several places. His eyes were bloodshot and wide with rage, and his hair was frazzled and burnt in some places. However, his tail was wrapped tightly around the neck and shoulders of the unconscious body of MirageGaogamon, who he dragged behind him. Behind him, the front wall of the great hall that lead to the foyer was completely gone, and much of the foyer was destroyed by the fighting.

    Alphamon sighed with relief. He seemed like he was okay.

    “I can’t believe they would do this...” Magnamon said, looking at MirageGaogamon and DarkKnightmon.

    “Me neither...” Dynasmon muttered grimly.

    “I can,” OuRyuumon spat, releasing his tail’s grip around MirageGaogamon dropping him near the Royal Knights. He clutched one of the deeper cuts on his arm, glared and looked over at the unconscious knight. “DarkKnightmon anyways... I didn’t know MirageGaogamon was plotting with him.”

    “Do you think there’s anybody else?” Omegamon asked.

    Alphamon shrugged. “They might have approached others, like DarkKnightmon approached most of you, but these two were the only ones that showed up. Still... we’ll need to be cautious...” he told them.

    “I don’t get it,” Dynasmon said, grimacing as he clutched his side with pain. “OuRyuumon said that DarkKnightmon fell off a building, but then he comes in here and starts attacking us? That doesn’t make sense.” He looked over at OuRyuumon.

    OuRyuumon felt his insides churn. He began to wonder if DarkKnightmon would tell them what OuRyuumon had done to him when he woke up. Even if Alphamon was his best friend, he doubted he’d be able to look past an attempted murder, even if it was justified in OuRyuumon’s opinion. His bloodshot, violet eyes shot to the rubble-covered floor as he tried to think of an excuse.

    “Maybe the fall rattled his brain,” Dukemon said with a shrug. “Pain can make you do funny things. Still... MirageGaogamon never would have just followed him if they hadn’t already been planning it. I dunno... It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?”

    “More importantly, what do we do with him now?” Magnamon asked, frowning and looking over at DarkKnightmon. “And MirageGaogamon too...”

    OuRyuumon limped over to Alphamon’s side. He looked at him and then down at DarkKnightmon. “You should delete him,” OuRyuumon told him with a slight grimace. His instincts for self-preservation were in full swing. If DarkKnightmon told them what happened, he was convinced that it would be curtains for him as well. He knew DarkKnightmon would use that as his final blow to the Royal Knights. He might even try to use it as a defence for his actions. Though even if that weren’t the case, he still felt bitter at him for betraying them.

    “OuRyuumon!” Dukemon scolded, although it sent a blast of pain through his body to shout, making him cringe. “I’m... furious at him too, but we can’t just kill him... Until now, he’s been a friend to us.”

    “Trying to wipe you all out? Conspiring against Alphamon? Yeah. He’s been a ****ing great friend,” OuRyuumon retorted.

    “Still. That’s kind of extreme, don’t you think?” Dynasmon said.

    Magnamon placed his palm on a bleeding cut on his arm. “I have to agree...”

    Omegamon nodded as well. He looked over at Alphamon, who was staring at DarkKnightmon as he contemplated their words.

    Grimacing, Alphamon gazed down at his hand to contemplate his sword.

    “Do you?” OuRyuumon insisted, narrowing his eyes at them. “I don’t. If we let him live, he’s just going to conspire with more Digimon and start another coup. He can’t be trusted. He’ll probably say or do anything to get his way. Right, Alphamon?”

    Alphamon didn’t reply. He continued to look at the Seiken Gradalpha in thought.

    “That may be...” Omegamon said. “But there has to be another way.”

    “In some places, treason is an executable offence,” OuRyuumon suggested, although he felt somewhat uncomfortable saying so.

    “We have higher standards here,” Dukemon spoke. “Besides, we can’t kill someone who’s unconscious...”

    “Between his fall and the fight here, he’s probably on the brink of death,” OuRyuumon said, beginning to grasp at straws. “It’d probably be a mercy...”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes fiercely. His sword hovered over DarkKnightmon’s body, his hand trembling...

    “No,” he spoke resolutely. He vanquished the Seiken Gradalpha in a wisp of light. “Who’s the most able to move?”

    “Maybe me...” Dukemon said, although he seemed to have trouble staying on his feet, evidence by the fact that he was using the Gram as a crutch.

    Alphamon began. “Can you find--“

    “No need,” Dukemon interrupted, looking down the destroyed hall at the desolate foyer and pointing weakly.

    The other knights turned to see Zero ARMS: Grani flying in, followed by several Knightmon, a Gladimon, a Gigadramon, and a Tyrannomon.

    Grani sped forwards, stopping in front of the Royal Knights. His eyes widened when he saw Dukemon’s battle-wounded body. “Dukemon!” he exclaimed. “Everyone! What happened here?” he asked with urgency in his normally calm voice.

    “DarkKnightmon happened,” Dynasmon explained, grimacing and pointing over to the dark knight.

    “What...?” Grani asked.

    “He and MirageGaogamon attacked us, trying to take over the Order,” Dukemon said.

    Grani was at a loss for words.

    Alphamon turned to Grani and the Digimon with him. “Restrain DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon and bring them to Duskmon for medical treatment. When they’re treated, lock them in the dungeons,” he commanded.

    “Alphamon...” OuRyuumon pleaded, grimacing. “Think about this...”

    “I have, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon replied firmly. “And I’ve made my decision...”

    OuRyuumon looked away in defeat. He knew that he wasn’t able to convince Alphamon otherwise. He half-wondered if maybe he could convince Alphamon to gag DarkKnightmon so at least he wouldn’t be able to tell Alphamon what had happened on the tower.

    Alphamon looked over DarkKnightmon’s unconscious body, a sad expression growing on his face. He sighed and turned to the Zero ARMS with a serious, commanding gaze.

    “And Grani...” he told him. “Locate Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.”

    -

    A few days had passed since that fateful day. The first level of the castle headquarters was horribly damaged. They were still in the process of cleaning everything up. Large parts of the higher levels had to be removed so that they didn’t end up collapsing. A complete overhaul of much of the main building was required for the eventual repairs.

    In addition, the Order’s morale had taken a huge hit. The fact that one of the Royal Knights and the Captain of the Defence Forces had betrayed Alphamon caused a lot of gossip among the Digimon about what might have happened. They both had been well-respected Digimon, so many of the members or the Order were upset by the revelation. The talk only increased when Imperialdramon Paladin Mode returned after a very lengthy absence.

    The Royal Knights stood outside of the castle walls, in a large, green field. The warm, midday sun loomed over the group.

    Alphamon, Omegamon, Dukemon, Magnamon, and Dynasmon all stood side-by-side. They were clad in their armour, but, under that armour, they still sported bandages and splints over their wounds and injuries. Lingering behind the five were Grani and OuRyuumon. OuRyuumon was hunched somewhat, as if ducking behind Dynasmon and Alphamon’s large bodies.

    Standing in front of them was DarkKnightmon. His Twin Spear and his shoulder-mounted axe had both been confiscated for safety purposes. His arms were placed in front of him, his wrists bound together by sturdy chains. He stood up straight in a way that retained his honour as a knight, despite the fact that he had officially been dismissed from their ranks. His accomplice, MirageGaogamon, had been transferred to the Royal Knights’ high-security jail: Havelock Prison. It was located away from their headquarters, but within their territory.

    On DarkKnightmon’s other side, opposite to the Royal Knights, stood Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. The founder of the Order, clad in his white armour and donning his massive sword, the Omega Blade, looked at DarkKnightmon with a disappointed look on his face.

    “DarkKnightmon...” he spoke to him, not with malice or anger, but almost as a friend. “Why did you do this?”

    DarkKnightmon turned his head, looking over at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “If I have to repeat myself... it was for the Order that you created, Imperialdramon,” he explained calmly.

    “What you did... you went against your oath,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said to him, frowning. “Royal Knights are supposed to look out for one another...”

    DarkKnightmon looked over at the Royal Knights. He slowly scanned their ranks, examining their faces, as well as trying to spot OuRyuumon behind them. “I thought that as well,” he dryly answered.

    Imperialdramon sighed, raising his free hand and rubbing his face. “DarkKnightmon... It pains me to have to do this... – you have no idea how much... – but I must confine you to the Dark Area. We can’t let you roam free and you can’t be trusted to be safely held in one of our prisons. That said, we value our past bonds with you too much to delete you.”

    “So, instead you’re relegating me to that dark prison along with those despicable Digimon that I helped to put away?” DarkKnightmon sarcastically asked. “Touching...”

    “I’m sorry, but it is the only safe option,” Imperialdramon told him. “You’re very strong and smart. You’ll be able to handle yourself in that plane.”

    “Besides, you have nobody to blame but yourself for this,” Dukemon told him harshly, folding his arms.

    DarkKnightmon turned to the Royal Knights. His eyes stopped on Alphamon as he tried to seek OuRyuumon out. “Is that so...?”

    Alphamon looked down at the ground, finding it hard to hide his feelings of guilt. He wondered if he made more allowances or tried to see DarkKnightmon’s point of view more, then this would have been avoided.

    OuRyuumon, who was standing behind Alphamon, grimaced at DarkKnightmon’s words. For the past few days, DarkKnightmon hadn’t said anything to the Royal Knights about being defenestrated by him. While he was in the dungeon, he had ample opportunity to tell them when he was being questioned about what he did. OuRyuumon wondered if he was keeping quiet to torment him for as long as possible. It was working. He had been on edge ever since.

    “OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon suddenly spoke.

    OuRyuumon’s heart dropped and began to start pumping furiously.

    “Why are you hiding?” he asked him coolly. “Is it that hard for you to watch me being sent away?”

    Some of the Royal Knights glanced over their shoulders at him. OuRyuumon tensed up and slinked over to stand beside Magnamon to prove that he wasn’t afraid to see him. He suddenly felt very vulnerable, standing beside the much shorter Digimon. “No...” he muttered. As he looked at DarkKnightmon, he swiftly tried to get his story straight in his head, in case DarkKnightmon spoke out against him. He knew that DarkKnightmon only had a few minutes to inflict retribution on him, so he was prepared for an imminent accusation.

    DarkKnightmon looked at him with a miniscule smile. His gold, enigmatic eyes lingered on OuRyuumon for a few moments before turning to address the Royal Knights. He turned and looked at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “Can we get this over with? I dislike goodbyes.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode frowned and walked around to DarkKnightmon’s front. “I wish you wouldn’t be flippant. This isn’t easy to do, you know...”

    “I know,” DarkKnightmon replied. He looked at the founder of the Royal Knights. “So... how long should I expect to stay in there? A few years? Until my data corrodes?”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode frowned grimly. “Undetermined...” he told him, apologetic that he couldn’t give him a certain answer. “I’m going to undo the shackles now. Please don’t try anything; I have a sword.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded and watched as Imperialdramon undid the chain shackles on his hands. Once free, he retracted his hands and rolled his stiffed wrists. “Now I can enjoy these last moments of freedom.”

    “On that note... Are there any last things that you’d like to say or have us do?” Imperialdramon asked him

    DarkKnightmon turned to the Royal Knights once again, his eyes ultimately landing on OuRyuumon.

    OuRyuumon’s muscles clenched. Behind his back, he balled his clawed fists up in anticipation. His breaths became a bit more rigorous as he awaited DarkKnightmon’s response.

    The shadowy knight stalled. “No...” he finally said with a calm, confident voice. “All of that can wait for the day that I finally come out.”

    He looked over at Alphamon, gazing into his eyes. “Only... I wish you the best of luck with the Order, Alphamon,” he told him. “I fear you’ll need it.”

    “Thank you, DarkKnightmon...” Alphamon answered quietly.

    “Good luck, DarkKnightmon,” Magnamon spoke up, frowning, a bit sadly.

    “Yeah,” Dukemon and Dynasmon added in one form or another.

    As OuRyuumon looked away, releasing his bated breath through his nostrils through a long, soft, relieved sigh, Omegamon gazed at DarkKnightmon with a regretful frown.

    DarkKnightmon turned to Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “You had better get on with it before they change their minds,” he dryly told him.

    Imperialdramon gave him a small, sad smile and turned his back to him, clutching the Omega Blade and spreading out his broad, white, wings.

    “Initialize!” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode exclaimed.

    He held the blade over his head and then stabbed its point into the ground. The blade drove deep into the ground and a massive fissure, gleaming with light, ripped through the earth. Before him, the ground opened up. The edges of the chasm glowed white, but on the inside, deep within the depths, it was jet black.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode grunted and clutched the Omega Blade with both hands, the sword trembling and revolting as the dragon struggled to keep it in place. This was because the secure walls to the spatial distortion, located deep below the Digital World, somewhat on the same plane as the world, were trying to seal the barrier again, to both keep things in and keep things out.

    Send my regards to Anubimon,” OuRyuumon thought to himself, not willing to speak out and risk angering DarkKnightmon enough to make him change his mind about their secret.

    “A-Alphamon...” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode spoke.

    Alphamon nodded and walked over to DarkKnightmon. He placed his hand on DarkKnightmon’s shoulder and gently led him towards the giant fissure. “I hope you’ll be alright, DarkKnightmon,” he murmured to him.

    “Perhaps I’ll be able to make my ordered society down there,” he told Alphamon ironically.

    Alphamon’s gaze softened and he let go of DarkKnightmon’s shoulder as they approached the fissure. “Goodbye, DarkKnightmon...”

    DarkKnightmon looked at him calmly. “Farewell... We will meet again,” he assured him. For a split second, his gaze hardened and his facial features grew dark and cold. “I promise.”

    With those words, he broke away from Alphamon and walked into the fissure. As soon as his foot passed the thin threshold of light that Imperialdramon Paladin Mode’s sword created, his whole body immediately vanished within the darkness.

    Upon seeing DarkKnightmon disappear, Imperialdramon waited a few more seconds before wrenching the Omega Blade from the ground. When the blade left the earth, the fissure closed in on itself, automatically sealing up with a mighty crash. The sides closed in and the fracture disappeared, leaving the grassy field as immaculate as it was before.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode panted and brought the sword up to rest it on his shoulder. He took a few more strong breaths before stopping. Quietly, he turned to the Royal Knights, OuRyuumon and Grani.

    They stood in grim silence. Nobody knew what to say.

    DarkKnightmon was gone...
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  15. #40
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    (Author's Notes: This is a mini-chapter/interlude. Basically, these few scenes didn't fit either at the end of Chapter 15 or at the beginning of Chapter 16, so I decided to post them like this. Also this marks the halfway point of the story.)

    Interlude


    The Royal Knights adjourned their meeting in the council hall. It had been a long, tense, and somewhat earnest discussion. The topic had been DarkKnightmon.

    The founding Royal Knights explained to the others what had happened in their opinions. They talked about DarkKnightmon’s ambition, his conspiring, his challenge to Alphamon for leadership, and his sudden attack awhile later.

    As the Royal Knights walked into the great hall, they began to go their separate ways. A few Royal Knights walked along side Dukemon.

    “So, that is everything?” Duftmon asked, looking over at Dukemon.

    “Pretty much,” the crimson knight responded.

    “I don’t understand why he attacked out of nowhere with just himself and MirageGaogamon,” UlforceVeedramon remarked, frowning. “I thought you said he was smart.”

    “He is,” Dukemon said, “He did almost beat us...”

    “Yeah, but I doubt he could have known that going into it, from the way that you guys told us. Two against six? Those aren’t very good odds,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    “You do have a point...” Examon mused, walking behind them.

    Dukemon shrugged. “If we could read DarkKnightmon’s mind, none of that would have happened. All we can do is guess. I think that fall might have had something to do with it,” he suggested.

    “If he fell from one of the towers, then that’s even less reason to go attack the Royal Knights,” UlforceVeedramon said with a grin.

    OuRyuumon overheard their topic of conversation and tensed up. He quickly walked over to them, pushing through Examon’s wing and striding beside them. “He probably wasn’t thinking straight,” he told them with a frown. “Anyways, there’s no point thinking about ‘why’ now. It happened. What we have to do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

    Dukemon looked over at OuRyuumon.”Yeah... I guess so.”

    “Why keep that incident a secret to begin with?” Duftmon questioned. “It’s important that everything is recorded to expand our database of knowledge, as well as for the posterity of history.”

    “It’s our ghost in the closet,” Dukemon replied. “It’s kind of shameful having one of the founding Royal Knights rebel against the Order. Besides, it upsets everyone to talk about. It was easier to just pretend that it never happened.”

    “The guy’s name was DarkKnightmon; I don’t know what Imperialdramon Paladin Mode expected,” UlforceVeedramon said with a chuckle. Dukemon shot him a stern glare and UlforceVeedramon slowly stopped, growing sheepish.

    “He was a decent guy once...” Dukemon said, frowning. “I dunno what changed.”

    “I never trusted him,” OuRyuumon remarked in a self-congratulatory way.

    Dukemon glanced over at him as they made it to the far end of the great hall. “Hey, that’s great, OuRyuumon!” he sarcastically said. “It’s too bad you didn’t do anything about it before he attacked us.”

    OuRyuumon hastily opened his mouth to retort but he quickly shut it again. He grimaced and looked away, unable to reveal the truth of the matter. “Yeah... too bad...” he muttered.

    “Do you suspect that he’ll try to take over the Order again?” Duftmon asked. “Or is he simply happy to be free?”

    “I don’t know,” Dukemon admitted. “He’s pretty strong-willed. Then again... I can’t be sure. Maybe he’ll settle for a quiet life far away from here, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking...”

    “He’s going to be a pain in our asses for as long as physically possible,” OuRyuumon declared with an irate grunt. “Grani and the scouts better find him quick. Who knows what that guy is getting up to right now?”

    “It’s better not to speculate,” Examon said.

    “I’ll speculate all I want,” OuRyuumon challenged, sneering at him.

    “You’ll just make yourself agitated,” Examon answered, rolling his eyes at the dragon’s hostility.

    “Why don’t you worry about yourself and I’ll worry about myself, Exadork?” the gold dragon told the red one.

    “Fine...” Examon submitted diplomatically, looking over at Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon with a shrug.

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled. “You’ll never get a girlfriend that way, OuRyuumon,” he teased.

    OuRyuumon just growled and broke away from them, speeding up his pace down to the end of the great hall.

    “Is he in one of his moods?” Duftmon asked.

    Dukemon and UlforceVeedramon both laughed. “He must be if Duftmon’s picking up on it,” UlforceVeedramon declared.

    Duftmon gave them an annoyed, sideways glance and continued walking.

    “Oh, by the way, it’s Dynasmon’s induction anniversary in a week, and he’s dropping pretty big hints about things that he wants,” Dukemon remarked.

    “If it’s those dirty novels that he wants, he can forget it,” Duftmon scoffed.

    “I don’t understand,” Examon said, thinking to himself. “I thought he was one of the founding knights, but Magnamon’s induction anniversary was a few weeks ago, and yours was a few weeks before that, Dukemon. Didn’t you all become Royal Knights at the same time?”

    “Technically, yeah, we did, but when we first made our oaths it was kind of informal. That’s different from the actual ceremony, where Imperialdramon Paladin Mode knighted us with his sword and all that other stuff. You know how the ceremony goes; Alphamon gave you yours a few months ago,” Dukemon explained. “So we each technically became Royal Knights at the same time, but we each had our own individual ceremonies a couple weeks apart from one another.”

    “Do we have to get DarkKnightmon anything for his induction anniversary?” UlforceVeedramon joked.

    “Maybe a solid punch in the face,” Dukemon said, cracking his knuckles. “It’s about two weeks after Dynasmon’s…”

    “Do you think he’ll try anything on that day?” Examon asked.

    “It’s hard to say,” Dukemon answered, frowning. “I’ve never known DarkKnightmon to be sentimental, but then again, he’s pretty good at psychological warfare and mind games. He might to screw with us.”

    “I’m hoping we’ll be able to neutralize him by that point,” Duftmon said.

    “Yeah, well, don’t underestimate him, Duftmon,” the crimson knight told their strategist. “He was one of the smartest in the Order back before he betrayed us.”

    “Oh? Well I am the smartest in the Order,” Duftmon boldly explained. “He can’t be all that clever, attacking you five immediately after being defenestrated.”

    By this point, the group of four had caught up to OuRyuumon, thanks to his short walking stride. OuRyuumon grunted, annoyed that the conversation kept going back to those events. He decided that he needed to stick around before they started speculating again. “Can we stop talking about that b*stard? It’s like he’s all we talk about anymore. Let’s go play darts or spar or something.”

    “Yeah, he’s got a point. Let’s try to unwind a bit,” UlforceVeedramon agreed. “Worrying is useless.”

    Dukemon shrugged. “I guess so… Darts tournament anyone?” he suggested.

    “I’m in,” OuRyuumon piped up, quick to change the topic from DarkKnightmon.

    “Sure,” Examon concurred.

    “I don’t mind winning again,” Ulforce remarked with a smirk.

    Duftmon rolled his eyes. “I think I will pass. I have more productive things to do, such as reading.”

    Dukemon smirked. “Okay, Duftmon. Your loss,” he told him.

    “I’m sure I’ll manage,” Duftmon spoke, heading towards one of the corridors branching away from the foyer.

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled as they began to head left, to one of the stone staircases. “Yeah. Manage to be an antisocial bookworm…”

    “Wouldn’t that be bookpussycat?” OuRyuumon corrected, grinning.

    “Something like that,” said UlforceVeedramon breezily. “The point is, he needs to get a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. You know, whatever it is that he’s into.”

    OuRyuumon tensed up again, once again feeling uncomfortable with the topic at hand. He supposed it was at least better than DarkKnightmon.

    Dukemon laughed. “The trouble is, I think ‘whatever he’s into’ happens to be books.”

    -

    A lupine figure sat on his cot in a small, confined room. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made of meters of cold, sturdy stone. There wasn’t much else in the room aside from a basic wooden chair, a desk, a sink, and a toilet. There was only one window, and it was covered with sturdy, metal bars. On the opposite side of the room were more bars, made from a durable metal that was only surpassed in durability by chrome digizoid.

    MirageGaogamon knew this cell inside and out. Well... perhaps not so much the ‘out’ part, as he had been confined inside for the past several years. His weapons had long since been confiscated and his powers neutralized by a special program installed in him. His armour had also been confiscated, so he wore simple, dirty clothes. He held a book in his hands, his thumb flicking through the pages from one end to the other as he waited for a familiar sound.

    The Digimon’s canine ears perked up suddenly upon hearing the rhythmic clanging of metal coming from down the hall. He stood to his feet and walked to the bars that separated his cell from the hallway. He heard a voice and that of several other prisoners addressing the Digimon as he passed their cells and grew nearer to MirageGaogamon’s.

    The metal boots of a Rapidmon tapped against the stone floor with every step. MirageGaogamon saw the bipedal rabbit Digimon approaching his cell on his hourly round.

    “Excuse me,” MirageGaogamon hailed to him. When the Rapidmon turned to him, he flashed his book.

    The Rapidmon guard walked over. “Yeah? What is it, MirageGaogamon?” he asked him.

    “Can I get a new book?” MirageGaogamon asked him, holding the book up. “One that I haven’t already read?”

    “If you reread it, you might find something you didn’t notice the first time,” the Rapidmon said with a slight grin.

    “Please,” MirageGaogamon said to him, passing the book through the bars.

    The Rapidmon took the book in his cannon arm. “Yeah, okay, okay,” he complied, turning around. “By the way, lunch is coming in an hour.”

    “Thank you,” MirageGaogamon replied, going to sit back down on his bed.

    He lay down and closed his eyes, waiting for the guard to return.

    MirageGaogamon was resigned to his new life now. He was once one of the Captains of the great Royal Knights, up until he rebelled with DarkKnightmon. While he felt some remorse for turning against the order, in principle, he didn’t feel like what he did had been wrong. He had only rebelled so that he could help Digimon more effectively and he maintained that that was all that he wanted to do. It had taken him some time to get over the grim fact that he wouldn’t be able to help Digimon while he was in prison, and that he was essentially being treated the same as the type of Digimon who he wanted to get rid of. The first year had been rough, but he slowly grew to adapt to life in Havelock Prison, the Royal Knights’ high-security jail. However, he still felt a certain longing inside of him...

    MirageGaogamon listened with his acute hearing to the sounds of the prison. There was shuffling and muffled noises coming from the other cells. There was the monotonous dripping of water coming from his sink. They were as normal as the sun and moons now. More prominently was the sound of the Rapidmon’s boots hitting the floor as he walked away.

    Suddenly, the sound of the guard walking stopped.

    “H-Hey!” the Rapidmon’s voice shouted out, a surprised, unsettled tone in his words. “Who are you?! You shouldn’t be in here!”

    There was a brief silence.

    “GUARD- ACK!” the Rapidmon’s voice choked out.

    The sounds of scuffling echoed through the hall followed by the loud clamour of metal. MirageGaogamon opened his eyes and stood to his feet. He walked over to the bars to try and see what the commotion was. He couldn’t see anything; it was too far down the hall. However, he could hear his fellow prisoners cheering.

    Suddenly, the Rapidmon’s body skidded down the hall and stopped near MirageGaogamon’s cell. His book flew from the guard’s unconscious body and landed at the prisoner’s feet.

    MirageGaogamon was shocked. Had one of the prisoners escaped? That was impossible. The prison was far too secure for one of the prisoners to break out. They all had neutralizing programs installed in them, and the bars and walls were sturdy enough to withstand even the toughest Digimon.

    He got right up against the bars and peered down the hallway. He saw a shadowy silhouette stride down the hallway towards him. MirageGaogamon suddenly gripped the bars tightly, his eyes widening as he recognized the Digimon.

    DarkKnightmon stepped over the Rapidmon’s unconscious body and stopped in front of MirageGaogamon’s cell. He turned to face him.

    “Hello, Captain,” DarkKnightmon said to him courteously. “It’s been too long.”

    “D...DarkKnightmon... Sir...” MirageGaogamon breathed, staring at the former-Royal Knight in disbelief. “You’re... free?”

    “Miraculously,” DarkKnightmon answered. “And with help, I admit.”

    “But how...? You were sent to the Dark Area,” MirageGaogamon said, looking him up and down, unable to believe that DarkKnightmon was there.

    “It’s a long story. I’m here to return the good deed,” the warrior said, raising the Twin Spear in his right hand, using it to steady himself as he crouched down beside the guard. He reached his hand and took an encrypted card key from inside the armour around the Rapidmon’s waist.

    “You need three of those to unlock a cell, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him. “Two other guards have the other keys.”

    DarkKnightmon smirked and reached inside his armour. He withdrew his hand and flashed three cards at MirageGaogamon. “I’m aware... I did use to be a Royal Knight, remember,” he explained as he stood back up.

    “Right...” MirageGaogamon sheepishly said, watching as DarkKnightmon approached the cell.

    DarkKnightmon swiped the three keys in a particular order and he heard the loud, victorious sound of the barred doors unlocking.

    “Hey! Us next!” one of the prisoners called to him from another cell.

    DarkKnightmon ignored him and pulled the doors open with a metal sliding sound. He walked into MirageGaogamon’s cell.

    MirageGaogamon was still somewhat dumbfounded. “How did you... get this far into the prison? All of the guards and security...” he said.

    “Like I said, I was a Royal Knight,” DarkKnightmon responded. “I have the strength to defeat most any of the guards here, and I know all of the procedures as well as the layout of the prison.”

    MirageGaogamon nodded. He looked at DarkKnightmon uncertainly. “You plan to free me, Sir?” he asked.

    “My plans are the same as they were all those years ago,” DarkKnightmon replied. “I let my emotions get the best of me after OuRyuumon threw me off that tower. But even then, I almost beat them. I was so close... Think, MirageGaogamon, what we can do if we plan carefully. The Order will be ours.”

    MirageGaogamon grimaced and looked away. “DarkKnightmon... I’m not sure,” he responded. “I’m very grateful that you went to all of this trouble for me, but... maybe they were right to lock me up. I betrayed my oath and attacked fellow members of the Order. I still agree with you, but...”

    “I understand that you’re nervous, MirageGaogamon, but things will be different from last time,” DarkKnightmon assured him.

    “There are eleven Royal Knights now. Not just five,” MirageGaogamon retorted.

    “I’m already in the process of gathering allies,” DarkKnightmon said to him. “That’s why I’m here. We will plan this operation carefully, and we won’t go into it outnumbered like last time. I’ve already contacted a few mercenary teams who are willing to help us.”

    “Sir... Maybe our defeat was a sign from Yggdrasil that what we were doing was wrong. The Royal Knights fight in His name, after all...” the fallen wolf captain said with a grimace.

    “Yggdrasil is irrelevant,” DarkKnightmon replied curtly. “As one of the founding Royal Knights, I once fought in his name, so who is to say that I’m the so-called heretic and it is not the other knights who have lost their way? If you’re inclined to think that Yggdrasil’s guiding hand is in play, you could say that Yggdrasil was testing us.”

    “I suppose...” MirageGaogamon reasoned.

    “Don’t rely on Yggdrasil, but on your own conscience, MirageGaogamon,” the knight explained to him. “You know that what we did was right. It was for the good of the Digital World. ...Didn’t you say that you lost your family to bandits? How would it feel if others lost their family in the same way and you did nothing to stop it because you had some fleeting doubts?”

    MirageGaogamon winced and looked away. “Yes... You’re right...” he responded, although somewhat uncertainly. “But are you sure that we can do this?”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “You’ve trusted in me before, haven’t you?” he asked.

    MirageGaogamon looked at him. “Yes...”

    DarkKnightmon outstretched his hand. “So, trust me, MirageGaogamon.”

    The wolf Digimon looked down at his extended hand, observing it for a moment. He frowned and took it, gripping firmly. “I do.”

    DarkKnightmon smiled and let go, gesturing for him to come out of the cell. MirageGaogamon apprehensively stepped out into the hall. DarkKnightmon followed him. “We need to go to the weapons cache in the basement for your things,” DarkKnightmon told him. “And we also have to neutralize the disabler program in you. It won’t be easy, but it’s achievable.”

    “Just tell me what to do,” MirageGaogamon told him.

    DarkKnightmon nodded and dragged the unconscious Rapidmon into MirageGaogamon’s cell. He placed him on the bed and walked out. The knight closed the barred door and locked the guard in. “Just stay behind me and use your senses to keep a look out. I took out most of the guards, but I may have missed some. There’s still the Overseer to deal with as well.”

    “Understood.”

    “Hey!” a SkullSatamon prisoner from a nearby cell shouted to them. “Aren’t you gonna let us out?!”

    DarkKnightmon let out a single, indignant laugh. “You must be joking... I helped put many of you in here,” he explained to them derisively. “As if I would let scum like you loose...”

    “Why you ugly, f*cking tin can!”

    Ignoring the sudden shift from cheers of excitement to shouts and profanity, DarkKnightmon turned to MirageGaogamon.

    “Let’s go. You’ll be fighting fit in no time at all.”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  16. #41
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    Chapter 16: A Crack in the Armour


    The morning sky seemed peaceful. It was blue with large clouds interspersed within the light sapphire expanse. The sun shone brightly, its warm rays feeding the plants, flowers and grass of the Digital World in the beautiful spring time. However, not all was as good as the weather made it seem.

    Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon tore through the sunny sky. The Lord of the Empty Seat lead the group, his wings expanded out behind him. OuRyuumon and Omegamon flew slightly behind him on each side. They flew south, past where the Free Area ended. As they travelled, the grass became sand and the air became dryer. The Claw Desert was home to the Mesozoic Kingdom, a kingdom of dinosaur and prehistoric Digimon that had a giant Spinomon as their king.

    OuRyuumon soared using his Gaiba Daimeijin wings and looked down at the rolling, golden sands of the desert. He turned to look at Alphamon, the winds of their flying speed causing his violet hair to flutter behind him. “Are you sure that scout got it right, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked him, speaking loudly over the thundering wind resistance. “What would DarkKnightmon be doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”

    “That’s what I’m worried about,” Alphamon responded, looking over his shoulder.

    Omegamon flew along Alphamon’s left side, his cape fluttering in the breeze. “He wouldn’t be trying to garner support from King Spinomon, would he?” he asked.

    “Doubtful,” Alphamon responded. “King Spinomon would never go along with it. He’s stubborn and doesn’t like to get involved in affairs outside of the Mesozoic Kingdom.”

    “Then what could he be after...?” Omegamon wondered.

    -

    DarkKnightmon stood in the sands of the Claw Desert. Opposite to him was a DinoTigermon, who observed DarkKnightmon keenly. Behind the DinoTigermon were several prehistoric Digimon, among them a MasterTyrannomon, a Pteromon X, a Triceramon, and Vermillimon. They watched DinoTigermon as he talked with DarkKnightmon.

    “So... Whad’ya want our services for exact-ly?” the giant smilodon asked, looking down at the knight who stood several inches shorter than the massive feline. “’DarkKnightmon, wuzzit?”

    “I need your martial skills in order to attack the Royal Knights and take over the Order,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    “Martial skills?” DinoTigermon asked, cocking an eyebrow and looking at DarkKnightmon like he was crazy. “I’m not even wed! Whad’you need martial skills for anyways if you want to take over the Order? Are you plannin’ to marry one of ‘em?!”

    “’Martial’, boss. Not ‘marital’,” the Pteromon X spoke up, trying his best not to snicker with the others. “It means fighting skills.”

    “H-Shut up! I didn’t ask you!” the DinoTigermon snapped, shooting a glare over his shoulder. “Okay, so you want my mer-cenary team to kick their asses. You do know these’re the Royal Knights, right? As in, some of the best fighters on the continent? Me and my co-horts are pretty damn strong, but not enough to take down all of ‘em.”

    “You won’t be alone,” DarkKnightmon assured him. “I have others at my disposal as well. I’ve hired several other mercenary teams as well.”

    “Yeah? What ones?” the mercenary leader asked, narrowing his eyes. “You can forget it if you asked Kowloon Co. We don’t work with scum.”

    “Neither do I,” DarkKnightmon answered. “I haven’t asked them, or other shady groups like Black Pincer Company. On my side, I have elements of the Dune Troopers, the Valancers, the Licht Gruppe, and the Cimmerian Adventurers.”

    “Hm... We can work with those, I guess...” DinoTigermon said, thinking to himself. “And the pay? It better be pretty big for somethin’ like this.”

    “Of course. Provided the job is completed,” DarkKnightmon explained. “If I hire you, don’t feel that you have to kill the Royal Knights. Incapacitating them would be much better, at least for the founding members. It’s better for my image.”

    “Wait wait wait. Hold on. What d’you mean, ‘if I hire you’?” the mercenary leader asked with a sneer.

    “I need to make sure that you and your team are capable first. I’m not hiring a team that doesn’t know left from right. I can’t have my plans screwed up from simple oversights.”

    DinoTigermon let out a huff. “Fine. You can test us. How d’you want to do that?”

    DarkKnightmon’s gaze shifted from DinoTigermon. Instead of looking at him, he was looking past the large feline Digimon. There was something in the sky. Three things, actually... Distant shapes.

    “The Royal Knights are coming,” he explained, still looking past the mercenary.

    “...What?” the DinoTigermon asked, his eyes widening. He spun around and looked to where DarkKnightmon was gazing. In the distance he saw three figures. “That can’t be! Everyone, get ready!”

    “Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon...” DarkKnightmon calmly spoke.

    DinoTigermon snarled and looked over his shoulder at DarkKnightmon. “Was this a set up?!”

    “Don’t be ridiculous,” DarkKnightmon said, summoning his Twin Spear in a blast of darkness. “We must have been spotted by one of their scouts. Just consider this an opportunity to show me what you can do against them. There’s only two plus the dragon.”

    “’Only’ he says!” the Pteromon X said, locking his missiles into place. “Side Winder!”

    Missiles steamed from the mechanical pterodactyl’s wings and screeched through the air towards the three incoming Royal Knights.

    Alphamon looked at Omegamon and OuRyuumon as the barrage of eight missiles flew towards them. “They’re firing at us. Hostiles confirmed,” he told them.

    The three broke off in different directions to avoid the missiles. Alphamon flew down, OuRyuumon shot right, and Omegamon swerved to the left. As the salvo of missiles passed between them, Omegamon spun around and aimed his Garuru Cannon at the ordnance. He fired a blast of blue, freezing energy from his cannon. The shining sphere ripped through the missiles, blowing them up in mid air.

    As eight explosions detonated in the sky, the three flew down in front of the explosions and met again.

    “DarkKnightmon’s definitely there!” OuRyuumon told them, pointing with one of his swords to the black figure behind the mobilizing mercenaries.

    “Then we can’t afford to mess around,” Alphamon decreed. “OuRyuumon, you and I know what to do. Omegamon, can you take out the others and then provide us back up? We’ll take out a few as we go to meet him.”

    “Understood, Alphamon,” Omegamon replied, nodding.

    He broke away from the two and started firing on the mercenary group with his cannon. Icy explosions blossomed up around the Digimon, the odd, unlucky one getting vaporized by a blast.

    “Get ready, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon said, extending his arm out in front of him, his palm open.

    “I am,” OuRyuumon replied, flying in front of Alphamon to face him.

    Alphamon nodded and he began to concentrate. A glowing circle suddenly formed just in front of his palm. The resplendent, blue circle grew wider and orbs and digi-letters formed inside of it. Within those, a second ring grew and they grew as wide as his body. Alphamon looked into OuRyuumon’s eyes.

    OuRyuumon returned the gaze into Alphamon’s eyes and their hearts became in sync with one another’s. OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes and he burst forward, through the rings, and his body became encased in light.

    “Alphamon!”

    “OuRyuumon!”

    “Jogress Shinka!”

    OuRyuumon’s large, shining body swept into Alphamon’s and the black knight became engulfed in the same brilliant light. Alphamon’s wings sprouted rows of long, majestic, golden feathers longer than his arms, much longer than his wings were before. In his right hand, a giant, magnificent pole-arm formed from OuRyuumon’s body. It had a long, black shaft with gold notches and ornamentation along it. On the back end, there was a small, back-facing crescent blade below small, blades jutting out from the main point. On the main end was a massive, double-sided axe made up of OuRyuumon’s Gaiba Daimeijin wings. They formed the giant blade of the gold and black “sword”.

    “Alphamon: Ouryuken!”

    OuRyuumon was gone, completely infused into the sword that Alphamon now held. His form was now completely focused on offence, while Alphamon could make the decisions as he saw fit. On top of that, Alphamon’s power was increased phenomenally.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken burst from the light and flapped his regal wings powerfully. He ripped through the air towards the group of mercenaries.

    For a split second, DarkKnightmon’s eyes widened and he gripped his Twin Spear just a bit harder. He narrowed his gaze and pointed his spear at Alphamon. “Attack!” he commanded, firing a powerful beam of shadows from his spear.

    Just as the mercenaries began to prepare to attack, Omegamon dropped from the sky and cleaved the Pteramon X in two with a vertical slash of his Grey Sword. He swept his cannon through the scattering data and unleashed a blast from his Garuru Cannon, obliterating the MasterTyrannomon beside him.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken flapped his wings, swerving to the side to avoid the blast that DarkKnightmon fired at him by only a foot. He glided alongside the blast as the shadows dissipated and crackled out, continuing his diagonal descent.

    “Wh-What is that?!” DinoTigermon demanded, his eyes wide with terror. “Alphamon can evolve?!”

    “He can jogress with OuRyuumon,” DarkKnightmon spoke with a dire tone, crossing his spear in front of him. While he kept his gaze primarily on Alphamon, he didn’t let Omegamon out of his vision either. “As far as I know, he’s never been defeated in that form...”

    “And we’re supposed to fight that?!” the mercenary protested.

    “There’s no choice now,” DarkKnightmon spoke, getting ready to defend himself. He dashed to the side when a blast from Omegamon’s Garuru Cannon swallowed up another mercenary and proceeded towards him. He ignored the shower of sand that rained down on him and turned to watch Alphamon: Ouryuken close in on them.

    DinoTigermon hissed and lunged towards Alphamon. “You’re not the only one with a X-Antibody! Highland Fang!” he shouted at the Royal Knight, bearing his massive fangs.

    Alphamon continued soaring, undeterred by the attacking enemy. He suddenly flapped his wings and spun in his flight, crossing in front of DinoTigermon to his right side. His blade, the Kyukyoku Senjin Ouryuken, swung through the air. With a mighty heave, one of a complete control and concentration, as was needed to be able to wield the Ouryuken, Alphamon swung the Ouryuken towards DinoTigermon mightily. The ultra sharp blade connected with DinoTigermon and slashed clean through his cyborg body.

    “WHAAAT?!” was all he could roar before bursting into data.

    As the blade left the mercenary’s fracturing body and emerged out of his data, Alphamon continued ceaselessly towards his opponents. He held the poleaxe behind him as he descended on them, the hyper-offensive weapon poised to strike again in a moment’s notice.

    DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed as the mega level mercenary leader was destroyed in a single swing. The rest of the mercenaries there didn’t stand a chance before the combined strengths of Omegamon and Alphamon: Ouryuken. He wasn’t positive that he could defeat Alphamon while he was in that Mega II level form, especially not with Omegamon there as well. While he was strong, so was Alphamon; Alphamon was arguably the strongest Royal Knight, and DarkKnightmon used to be able to only fight him to a draw on one of his better days. With OuRyuumon as his sword, that gave Alphamon a decisive advantage. However, he knew that Alphamon wouldn’t let him just retreat. He had to think of something...

    However, he had to think on his feet. Alphamon was upon them.

    Alphamon landed on the ground with a crash, sending sand flying up all around him from where his boots connected with the ground. He burst through the wave of sand and cleaved the Ouryuken into a Stegomon, turning another Digimon into data. He spun around and, effortlessly, it seemed, slashed the holy sword through a charging Vermillimon, easily breaking through the Digimon’s armoured body.

    “Kyukyoku Senjin Ouryuken!” Alphamon called out. He slashed the Ouryuken behind him, sending a razor sharp blast of wind through the air from the blade, tearing through the sky.

    The air cut through all but a few of the remaining mercenaries, the rest of whom were beset by Omegamon. They were destroyed by the overwhelming power of the Ouryuken.

    DarkKnightmon glared at Alphamon, gripping the Twin Spear tightly. He inspected the Digimon and silently thought, although ready to act in a moment.

    Meanwhile, Omegamon clashed with a Cannondramon, flying over the mercenary’s expansive back and hacking his Grey Sword through the sauropod’s cannons. The weapons exploded and Omegamon landed on the Cannondramon’s back, ducking under his whipping tail and embedding the Grey Sword in the dinosaur’s armoured back. He then fired a blast from the Garuru Cannon through the Cannondramon, jumped back, and slammed the side of his cannon into the face of a WarGreymon who tried to sneak up on him. He fired the Garuru Cannon into the WarGreymon’s chest and sent him crashing into the sand in a wave, his armour splintered.

    As the Cannondramon’s data became mixed within a gust of sandy wind, Alphamon turned to the remaining four mercenaries. “Get out of here!” he ordered them, narrowing his eyes dangerously. “Before we change our minds.”

    The three mercenaries dropped their weapons and raced to help the wounded WarGreymon mercenary. They retreated without needing to hear another word.

    “Still as soft as ever, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon spoke, eyeing him carefully.

    Alphamon slowly turned around to face him. His long cape and majestic wings sailed in the blustery desert breeze. His red eyes flashed as he observed DarkKnightmon.

    “And you’re still as conniving as ever,” Alphamon told the former Royal Knight.

    “Again, I’m hurt by one of your blows,” DarkKnightmon calmly replied. “I could have been visiting a friend for all you know. You might have just destroyed a bunch of innocent Digimon.”

    “They attacked us first,” Alphamon told him, taking a few steps towards the dark knight.

    “Alright. Fine...” DarkKnightmon responded, shifting his lance slightly in his hand.

    Alphamon: Ouryuken kicked off the sandy ground and flapped his wings, sweeping up the golden sand behind him as he tore towards DarkKnightmon. As he did so, Omegamon darted to the side, his cannon trained on DarkKnightmon and ready to fire in case he got out of Alphamon’s range.

    Alphamon wound his arm back and raised the Ouryuken over his head, bringing the blade down on DarkKnightmon with a swift, powerful blow.

    As the weapon dropped like a hammer, DarkKnightmon raised the Twin Spear and blocked it, both hands on the lance. Sparks exploded out from the clashing weapons like a fountain. The Ouryuken pummelled the Twin Spear violently although he managed to block it. The sheer power from the blow nearly caused DarkKnightmon’s legs to buckle underneath the enormous pressure. His arms nearly gave way as well; strain shot through his body like a lightning bolt. The power of the Ouryuken was greater than he thought.

    DarkKnightmon held against the blade for a couple seconds before giving way and jumping back. Omegamon took this opportunity to fire a frigid sphere from his cannon. DarkKnightmon, prepared for a bilateral assault, swept out his lance and fired a beam of darkness at the incoming azure blast. The two attacks collided and exploded in the air in a purple, blue, and white detonation.

    DarkKnightmon landed on his feet and skidded along the sand in a standing position, coming to a stop in a defensive stance.

    “Surrender, DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon told him sternly.

    “So you can send me back to the Dark Area?” DarkKnightmon asked him, stalling for time as he thought. “I think not. I just wish to live a quiet life.”

    “I wish I could believe you,” Alphamon answered. “But I can’t. However, if you surrender, we’ll go easy on you.”

    “Is that so...?” DarkKnightmon questioned. He carefully examined Alphamon’s form. He thought to himself about what to do about his predicament, pensively going over several options in his mind. “How does one counter a jogress...?” he wondered to himself.

    Then, his gaze landed on the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s right hand. “By severing the bond...” he answered himself with a tiny smile behind his metal mask.

    He took a step forwards and lowered his Twin Spear disarmingly. “It’s been ages since I’ve seen you in your Ouryuken form, Alphamon,” he said collectedly. “Years... as you well know.”

    “I’m aware of that...” Alphamon said, narrowing his eyes. He wasn’t about to let his guard down with DarkKnightmon.

    Omegamon walked towards Alphamon cautiously. He kept the Garuru Cannon pointed at DarkKnightmon.

    “So, OuRyuumon is with you...” DarkKnightmon spoke, eyeing the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s hand.

    “You know he is,” Alphamon said, emphatically raising the blood-laced, sandy pole-weapon in his hand.

    “Has he told you yet?” DarkKnightmon questioned, lowering his weapon fully, to show his diplomatic intentions.

    “Told me...?” the leader of the Royal Knights asked, frowning.

    “His secret...” the fugitive spoke ominously.

    Alphamon’s eyes widened slightly at DarkKnightmon’s words, his interest suddenly piqued. He wondered if DarkKnightmon knew about OuRyuumon’s sexual orientation. However, OuRyuumon had told him that he hadn’t told anybody, and he and OuRyuumon weren’t a couple back before DarkKnightmon’s betrayal, so he couldn’t have found them out by accident. “What are you talking about?” Alphamon found himself asking.

    Omegamon silently glanced between DarkKnightmon and Alphamon, although he remained ready for any trick that their old comrade might pull.

    DarkKnightmon couldn’t help but smirk. “No, I suppose he wouldn’t have...” he said, looking at the Ouryuken in Alphamon’s hand. “Well... now would be the ideal time to tell you, now that he is in the state that he’s in. After all... what cannot speak cannot lie.”

    Alphamon frowned at him. It didn’t register to him at the time, but if he weren’t focused on DarkKnightmon, he would have been able to notice the slight trembling emanating from the shaft of the Ouryuken. “Whichever lies that reach my ears will be coming from you,” the Lord of the Empty Seat retorted. “I have more reason to trust OuRyuumon than I do you.”

    “If that’s what you think, you really are naive and foolish, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon said darkly. His yellow eyes flashed. “At one point, I thought that he was my friend too. You don’t know what he’s capable of...”

    Alphamon suddenly went quiet. What an odd thing for DarkKnightmon to say. It would make sense that DarkKnightmon would feel betrayed by himself and the other Royal Knights, but he didn’t even approach OuRyuumon during that conspiracy back then, nor did he and OuRyuumon physically fight in that battle. Sure, the two always argued from time to time, but it never seemed like they particularly hated each other to Alphamon.

    “...What do you mean?” Alphamon asked against his better judgement.

    Omegamon frowned as well. He suddenly felt an uneasy feeling inside of him. He didn’t like where this was going, but at the same time, he was curious as well.

    “After our fight, all those years ago, when I was being treated by Duskmon while in your captivity...” DarkKnightmon began. “He said that I sustained damage from a fall prior to the fight.”

    “Yes...” Alphamon tentatively affirmed. “A few of the night guards also said that you fell from the tower before heading towards the castle...”

    “...Didn’t you ever wonder about that?” DarkKnightmon queried, his brows furrowed. “It must have seemed odd.”

    “I was told that you fell from the tower accidentally. There was a loose brick on the parapets,” Alphamon told him, frowning suspiciously.

    “Who told you that?” the dark knight asked, eyeing him steadily.

    Alphamon paused. “...OuRyuumon,” he said with a hint of defensiveness in his voice. “The guards corroborated what he told me. What are you getting at, DarkKnightmon?”

    DarkKnightmon ignored the question. “But none of the guards actually saw me fall, correct? They only saw me after I hit the ground.”

    “Well... no...” the Royal Knight admitted. This time, he began to notice a definite trembling in the Ouryuken, as if OuRyuumon was protesting.

    “So, they only went off what OuRyuumon said happened,” DarkKnightmon said, his eyes locked with Alphamon’s. “Let me tell you what really happened.”

    Alphamon was silent. The vibrations in the weapon became more and more apparent. He gripped the hilt tightly. “What?” he asked curtly.

    “That night... before my admittedly impulsive rebellion...” DarkKnightmon calmly spoke, leering into Alphamon’s eyes forcefully. “MirageGaogamon and I were talking. It was right after I challenged you, so I was speaking heatedly... I told him that I didn’t want you as the Royal Knight’s leader.”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes quietly, but listened.

    “When we departed, I began heading down the hallway towards my room to cool off. However, OuRyuumon followed me and asked me to go with him to the tower. He seemed amiable... it surprised me, considering how I just fought you, his closest and probably only friend. I agreed, and he led me up to the tower.”

    Omegamon winced. He definitely didn’t like where this was going. “Alphamon...” he urged him.

    Alphamon ignored Omegamon’s voice of caution. “...Yes?” he asked DarkKnightmon roughly, glaring into his calm but honest yellow eyes.

    “We reached the roof of the tower... OuRyuumon began talking to me. His demeanour became rough and violent. He started accusing me of wanting to kill you so that I could take over the Order. I know we weren’t all that close, but I was shocked that he would say that; I was frustrated at the situation, sure, but something like that had never even crossed my mind. He then started calling me a liar and a traitor. I tried to tell him otherwise, but then he grabbed me by the collar.” DarkKnightmon paused and looked into Alphamon’s eyes. “...He pushed me off that tower, Alphamon. I didn’t fall. He made it look like an accident. That’s what made me do what I did...”

    Alphamon’s eyes grew wider and a tight, sickening feeling began to form in his chest. He had convinced himself that DarkKnightmon would be lying, however... many of the things that DarkKnightmon had said sounded like they could be possible. He remembered, that after DarkKnightmon had challenged him, OuRyuumon said that he was going to use the bathroom. He had been an unusually long time... Alphamon’s gaze hardened. “I don’t believe you...” he said defiantly.

    “I’m telling the truth, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him with an annoyed frown. “Look beyond your feelings for once.”

    “I am doing that!” Alphamon barked at him angrily.

    “Then think,” DarkKnightmon said with a cold glare. “Why would I be up on that tower alone? And do you really think I’m incompetent enough to fall off a building by sitting on a loose stone?”

    Alphamon was silent for a few moments. “Accidents happen,” he replied dismissively, looking away from the knight.

    “That’s what you would like to believe...” DarkKnightmon answered. “Then, tell me... Where was OuRyuumon at the time?”

    “He went to use the washroom,” Alphamon answered. The sick, uneasy feeling lingered in his stomach as he spoke.

    “Then how did he know that I fell off the tower?” the shadowy knight reasoned.

    “I...” Alphamon paused. He didn’t have a good answer for that. He didn’t know how OuRyuumon knew that he had fallen off of the tower; it never crossed his mind until then. “P-Perhaps one of the guards told him?”

    “You’re creating excuses for him, Alphamon. You know, in your heart, I am telling the truth,” DarkKnightmon told him emphatically.

    “I know OuRyuumon better than anybody! He wouldn’t do that!” Alphamon shouted in protest.

    Omegamon was silent.

    “...Wouldn’t he?” DarkKnightmon asked him. He looked at Omegamon. “What’s your opinion, Omegamon? Don’t you think that that’s something OuRyuumon might do?”

    Omegamon grimaced and looked away from both DarkKnightmon and Alphamon. He didn’t confirm DarkKnightmon’s words, but he didn’t deny them either.

    “Omegamon can’t even deny it… If you know OuRyuumon better than anybody, you should know that that is something that he would do...” DarkKnightmon said emphatically. “Are you trying to tell me that OuRyuumon isn’t violent? That he isn’t hotheaded and impulsive? That he isn’t jealous and petty? That he doesn’t take pleasure in fighting and killing?”

    Alphamon shut his eyes and raised his left hand to rub his forehead. “He... He wouldn’t try to murder you...” Alphamon insisted, but without the vigor and confidence that he previously had.

    DarkKnightmon watched Alphamon with calm, composed, fervent eyes. “On my honour, Alphamon... He did.”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat gazed into DarkKnightmon eyes with a grimace. Although he didn’t trust DarkKnightmon, he had an increasingly hard time believing that he was lying. His breathing became heavy and his heart raced. The doubt grew in his mind and in his heart. More and more, he started to consider that OuRyuumon might really have defenestrated DarkKnightmon. These fears and worries were only amplified by the way the Ouryuken seemed to protest in his right hand.

    Suddenly, Alphamon’s form was consumed with light. Alphamon and OuRyuumon separated from each other. The gold dragon flew onto the ground and Alphamon staggered away from him.

    DarkKnightmon watched silently. The jogress was broken.

    “I’ll leave you to discuss your issues,” he told them, aiming the Twin Spear at the ground in front of him. The lance pulsed with shadows and dark energy.

    “Wait!” Alphamon shouted, turning towards him abruptly.

    DarkKnightmon fired a massive beam from his lance into the ground, creating a giant explosion of darkness and sand that spilled into the air. Alphamon, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon braced themselves as the blast swept over them, the sand stinging them and the concussion from the explosion nearly knocking them off their feet.

    When the explosion faded, all that was left was a smoking crater in the desert. The shadows dissipated and the sand began to be sucked into the crater, filling it much of it back up. DarkKnightmon was nowhere to be seen.

    Omegamon grunted and began to step forwards. “I’ll go after him.”

    “No...” Alphamon said lowly. “Don’t go after him on your own. It’s too dangerous; he could be hoping to split us up.”

    “That’s exactly what he’s doing!” OuRyuumon snarled in a rage, gripping his Gairyu scimitars in his claws. “I’ll kill him for saying all that!”

    “Kill him?”Alphamon asked pointedly. He slowly turned to look at the tall, gold dragon. “Is that what you would do?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced at his poorly chosen words and turned to look at Alphamon. “N-No!” he shouted. “I didn’t mean... You don’t believe him, do you?!”

    Alphamon couldn’t help but wince. He looked OuRyuumon square in the face. “OuRyuumon... Did you push him off that tower?”

    OuRyuumon’s claws trembled. He balled them into airtight fists as he looked down at Alphamon with a hurt glare. “How could you ask me that?! You of all people!”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat looked down, unable to help but feel guilty for asking. However, his gaze then hardened and he looked up at OuRyuumon. He wouldn’t be made to be the one in the wrong. “...I know you, OuRyuumon. Did you push him off of that tower...?”

    OuRyuumon avoided eye contact with Alphamon. He knew that he couldn’t lie to Alphamon while looking him in the eyes. “No...” he muttered, less than convincingly, which was only enforced by his sideways glance to the sand.

    Alphamon clenched his fists. His feelings of fear, apprehension, and uneasiness changed into anger and a grim realization. “OuRyuumon...” he spoke, his voice was low and brimming with fury. “Look me in the eyes... Did you try to murder DarkKnightmon...?”

    OuRyuumon’s violet eyes grimaced as they turned to lock with Alphamon’s. He tried to force himself to lie, but he saw the agonized look in Alphamon’s eyes. That look demanded an honest answer, but at the same time, wanted to be proven wrong despite already knowing what the answer was. It sparked a flurry of guilt inside of OuRyuumon and caused him to give way.

    “...I did it for you, damn it!” OuRyuumon yelled, shutting his eyes. “I overheard him and MirageGaogamon plotting to overthrow you!”

    “So you threw him off of a tower?!” Alphamon thundered, fury in his bellowing voice and his crimson eyes.

    OuRyuumon cringed and shrunk back. Despite being taller, he felt smaller than Alphamon in that moment. “They were probably going to kill you...” he murmured.

    “…How can I believe anything you say now?” Alphamon questioned, doing his best to temper his sheer rage. “I... can’t believe you did that, OuRyuumon. I never thought that you could stoop so low.”

    OuRyuumon growled a bit. “Me?! What about DarkKnightmon!? He was the one plotting against you!” he protested.

    “He was angry. He may have calmed down,” Alphamon said, glaring at him. “You were the one that drove him to attack us when you pushed him off of that tower! But then again, I suppose you hoped that he had been deleted, hadn’t you?”

    OuRyuumon grimaced. “He would have talked his way out of it if I told you...”

    “One thousand excuses won’t change what you did, OuRyuumon!” the Lord of the Empty Seat growled. “He was a Royal Knight and my friend, for that matter!”

    The gold dragon grunted and muttered. “Some friend he is if he decided to--“

    “And some friend you are for lying to me and trying to murder DarkKnightmon!” Alphamon interrupted abruptly. “I suddenly understand why you wanted me to finish him off... Do you think that’s the sort of thing that Royal Knights do?! It’s no wonder I haven’t made you one. I can’t believe that a member of the Order would do something so vile.”

    OuRyuumon went silent. He found himself staring down at the sandy ground, knowing that whatever he had to say would just make things worse.

    Omegamon looked between the two Digimon. He didn’t want to be there at all. He felt incredibly uncomfortable being in between their heated argument. “Alphamon...” he spoke up uncertainly. “I believe it would be best if he returned to the castle. This isn’t helping anybody.”

    “Very well,” Alphamon tersely said, walking straight forwards and passing by OuRyuumon without so much of a glance.

    “Alphamon...” OuRyuumon spoke in a small, pleading voice, looking over his shoulder at him.

    “Don’t,” Alphamon replied sharply, stopping, but not turning to face him. “I don’t even want to look at you, OuRyuumon. Right now... you disgust me.”

    Without another word, Alphamon flapped his wings and soared into the sky.

    Omegamon gave OuRyuumon a swift, sympathetic glance and took off after Alphamon.

    OuRyuumon stood alone in the sand as the two Royal Knights left without him. He watched silently as they flew away. His dejection and sadness soon turned into anger and frustration. A snarl escaped his mouth and he gripped the swords in his hands. OuRyuumon released an angry, sorrowful roar and slashed his swords down into the sand, causing a blast to rip through the grains and send two waves of sand blasting up in front of him.

    OuRyuumon panted and withdrew his swords, gazing into the sky at Alphamon’s receding form. “Why... Why did you have to find out?”

    With a weak grunt of frustration, OuRyuumon flapped his wings and moved to follow them. He made sure to keep a distance between himself and Alphamon. He knew it took a lot to get Alphamon that mad, and when he was that angry, it was better to make himself scarce until he calmed down.

    He just hoped he would calm down...

    -

    Alphamon hailed one of the Royal Knights’ aerial guards as he, Omegamon, and the lagging OuRyuumon entered the Royal Knights’ airspace. When they were recognized by the guard, they were allowed to descend over the castle walls and land inside the castle grounds. It had been a tense few hours of flight. Alphamon hadn’t spoken to OuRyuumon at all, and he hadn’t really said anything to Omegamon either. Neither Omegamon or OuRyuumon spoke as well.

    Alphamon and Omegamon landed in front of the entrance to the main building. As he landed, Alphamon couldn’t help but turn and look up at the tower on the left. His gaze hardened again and he brusquely walked forwards.

    A Knightmon standing on the right side of the door saw Alphamon and Omegamon approach. He promptly saluted and smiled. “Good afternoon, sirs. How did the mission--“

    “Fine, thank you,” Alphamon swiftly responded, pushing the door open and walking into the entrance hall towards the foyer.

    “Go...” the Knightmon finished.

    Omegamon followed him inside. He looked over his shoulder to see OuRyuumon land outside after a few seconds. He turned back to look at Alphamon, who had no intentions of slowing down to wait for the dragon.

    OuRyuumon slunk into the entrance hall and followed at a distance, plodding along dejectedly.

    Alphamon walked into the foyer. There, he saw Magnamon, Craniamon, and Dynasmon standing in the middle of the room, talking. When the door swung open, they turned to look at Alphamon and Omegamon.

    “Oh, hey, guys,” Dynasmon said, somewhat surprised that they were back so soon. “How did it go? Did you find DarkKnightmon?”

    Craniamon looked at the two of them and noticed that they had little to no damage or signs of wear and tear on the armour. “Doesn’t look like it,” he remarked.

    “He escaped again,” Alphamon said, walking straight past them. He walked across the foyer to the left set of stairs.

    “Where’s OuRyuumon?” Magnamon asked, looking around.

    Alphamon shrugged and headed up the stairs to head to his room.

    Omegamon internally sighed. “OuRyuumon’s behind us,” he responded, looking over his shoulder.

    He saw OuRyuumon head up the several steps and walk into the foyer. OuRyuumon looked around the room. “Where’s Alphamon?” he asked.

    “I think he went up to his room,” Dynasmon said, frowning curiously. “Did something happen?”

    “No,” OuRyuumon responded, walking past them and going into the same staircase that Alphamon went up.

    Omegamon immediately followed him, walking up the stairs after the gold dragon. Once they were out of the other knights’ ear shot, he spoke up. “Where are you going, OuRyuumon?” he questioned.

    “I need to talk to Alphamon,” OuRyuumon replied, his voice low but full of determination.

    “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Omegamon inquired, frowning.

    “I need to explain, damnit!” OuRyuumon snapped, jerking his head to look over his shoulder.

    “I don’t think he’ll be willing to listen right now, do you?” the white knight asked as they reached the top of the stairs.

    “I don’t care...” the dragon Digimon answered, turning forwards and grimacing. “I’ve gotta try...”

    Omegamon nodded, although he had no expectations that OuRyuumon would succeed. “Good luck, then...”

    OuRyuumon muttered a quick, off-handed ‘thanks’ and turned right, heading down towards the end of the long corridor, where Alphamon’s room was.

    Omegamon followed him, but only to head to his own room which was adjacent to Alphamon’s. He saw OuRyuumon stop in front of Alphamon’s closed door. He glanced at the dragon briefly before heading into his room and closing the door to give them some privacy. Omegamon started taking off his armour and placing the metal segments on the armour rack in the corner of his room. He changed into a white shirt with the horseshoe-shaped symbol of omega on it. He did his best not to listen but he couldn’t help but overhear OuRyuumon outside.

    OuRyuumon rapped his claws strongly against Alphamon’s door, sending the sound of knocking wood echoing down the corridor.

    “Who is it?”Alphamon asked, his voice still carrying a sharp edge to it.

    “...It’s me,” OuRyuumon answered in an uncharacteristically submissive voice.

    Alphamon was silent.

    After waiting a few seconds for him to respond, OuRyuumon persisted. “Alphamon?”

    “Leave me,” Alphamon told him curtly.

    OuRyuumon frowned. “But Alphamon... Let me explain--“

    “I don’t want to hear any more of your lies and rationalizations,” the Lord of the Empty Seat sharply explained.

    “Hear me out, Alphamon!”

    Alphamon sneered. “Leave me, OuRyuumon!” he angrily yelled through the door. He didn’t hear OuRyuumon respond after that. A heavy breath escaped his mouth. “Just... don’t for awhile. You’ll just make things worse.”

    He heard the sound of OuRyuumon’s clawed footsteps tapping against the stone floor weakening as he walked away, defeated.

    Alphamon grunted as he pulled the rest of his clothes on. He wouldn’t allow himself to feel guilty. What OuRyuumon did was unacceptable to him and he wasn’t about to let him off the hook. Friend or not. Lover or not. He was far too angry for that.

    He buttoned up his white, button-up shirt, zipped up his dark blue pants, and walked over to the window in his room, opening it. He placed his arms on the stone sill and leaned forwards, peering out into the fresh air and the sunny afternoon. Alphamon brought his palm to his face and rubbed it.

    He still couldn’t believe it. He knew that OuRyuumon had a tendency to be aggressive and impulsive, and he knew that he enjoyed the art of combat, but he never thought that he could do something like that. Alphamon knew that DarkKnightmon did absolutely nothing that he could condone, but to think that OuRyuumon could resort to such extreme actions to somebody who he was supposed to have cared about... Alphamon thought he knew him. He was in love with OuRyuumon, but now OuRyuumon almost seemed like an entirely different Digimon to him.

    And then there was the other thing that bothered him...

    OuRyuumon had been keeping this secret from Alphamon for all these years. Alphamon had trusted OuRyuumon implicitly. He never would have thought that he could keep something this big from him. He didn’t want to admit it, but he felt hurt. He understood why OuRyuumon kept it from him; he must have known Alphamon would react this way. However, that didn’t stop him from feeling at least somewhat betrayed.

    On further reflection, he imagined that this was how Omegamon must have felt when he found out that Alphamon had been keeping something from him. Alphamon’s feelings of anger and disgust turned into that of guilt. The emotion panged at his heart... He felt somewhat hypocritical. He was mad at OuRyuumon for keeping an important secret from him when he had kept an important secret from someone close to him as well.

    Alphamon grimaced. He stood up straight and closed the window, turning back towards the door. He had put off talking to Omegamon for long enough. Alphamon decided that it was time to explain everything to him once and for all. He was a very important person to Alphamon; he deserved to have his mind put at ease. He wanted things to be back to the way they were between him and Omegamon. He needed that close bond restored.

    The black knight walked out of his room and closed the door behind him. He stepped up to the nearby door on his right and took a deep breath. After a few seconds of composing himself, he knocked on the door.

    Omegamon opened up the door and looked at Alphamon. “Alphamon?”

    “May I come in?” he asked, masking the uncertainty in his voice. “I want to talk to you.”

    “Of course...” Omegamon answered, moving out of the way so that Alphamon could walk in. He closed the door behind them and walked around Alphamon to face him.

    Alphamon observed Omegamon with a faint, quiet grimace. His mind raced as he tried to decide how to start and what to say to him.

    “This is about OuRyuumon, isn’t it?” Omegamon asked.

    Alphamon paused. “...Well, sort of...” he replied.

    “I realize how angry at him you must be, but--“

    “No,” Alphamon interrupted, furrowing his eyebrows. “It’s not about that...”

    “Pardon?” Omegamon asked, confused.

    “To be honest, it’s not even about him, really,” Alphamon told him, still managing to feel twinges of anger as he thought about OuRyuumon. “It’s about you and I...”

    “...What do you mean?” Omegamon questioned, his confusion turning into apprehension.

    “It’s time that I’ve explained myself...” Alphamon said, wincing. “I owe you an explanation.”

    Omegamon closed his eyes. He knew what Alphamon was talking about now. “Alphamon...” he began reassuringly.

    “I do,” Alphamon insisted. “I... I never wanted you to find out about me and OuRyuumon like that.”

    “You never wanted me to find out,” Omegamon corrected, opening his eyes and looking at Alphamon.

    Alphamon paused and grimaced. He looked at Omegamon and walked up to him, closing much of the space between them. “You don’t understand, Omegamon... It’s not like you think.”

    “You don’t have to explain, Alphamon,” Omegamon assured him. “I’ve already forgiven you.”

    “Damn it, Omegamon! Stop being so understanding for a moment! I’m trying to explain myself!” he said in a raised, heated voice. He reached out and grabbed Omegamon’s hand, pulling it up between them. “I care about you!”

    Omegamon’s eyes widened a bit. “Alphamon...”

    Alphamon stared deep into Omegamon’s blue eyes with a resilient gaze. “I do… You’ve been so good to me after all these years… probably better than I deserve,” Alphamon told him, taking a step towards him so that they were inches apart. He held Omegamon’s hand gently in his. “I didn’t mean to hurt you…”

    Omegamon felt himself heating up behind his helmet. He grew uncomfortable by Alphamon’s close proximity and the lingering hold on his hand. “I’m sure you didn’t…” Omegamon replied, beginning to lean back a bit. “That’s just… how things turned out…”

    “I was planning to tell you, Omegamon. Honestly, I was!” Alphamon assured him passionately, reaching out his other hand and placing it on Omegamon’s shoulder, holding him in place. “This has nothing to do with me not trusting you…” Alphamon began to softly caress Omegamon’s palm with his thumb. “Believe me, Omegamon…”

    Omegamon’s eyes widened. “A-Alphamon…!” he exclaimed in shock at the sudden contact. Alphamon was acting differently towards him. He was no longer acting like just a friend. Omegamon wasn’t sure how to react. He flushed but narrowed his eyes. “A-Alphamon… Stop. Y-You’re upset over OuRyuumon…” he told him, trying to remain as calm as possible.

    Alphamon leaned forwards towards Omegamon, his face but an inch away from the white knight’s. He squeezed the knight’s hand and gazed into Omegamon’s eyes, his adrenaline pumping and his emotions running high from the events of the past day. “No… I’m upset over you…” he softly answered, his warm breath blowing across Omegamon’s face.

    Omegamon released a nervous, shaky breath as his wide, blue eyes stared up at Alphamon’s with shock and fear. “Alphamon…” he whispered. Omegamon grimaced and pulled his hand away, placing his hands on Alphamon’s chest and gently pushing him back to put distance between Alphamon and himself. Omegamon panted slightly and stared Alphamon hard in the eyes. “…Don’t, Alphamon,” he said firmly. Omegamon walked past him, towards the door, turning his embarrassed and addled face away from Alphamon as he passed. “Don’t do something else that you’ll regret…”

    Alphamon stared blankly at Omegamon for a few moments. His crimson eyes started to enlarge with horror when he began to realize what he was doing. “O-Omegamon,” he stammered, unable to think of anything else to say. “I…” He was mortified by his actions.

    “You should leave, Alphamon,” Omegamon insisted, facing the door. “Go rest and cool down. You’re in no fit state to be around anybody right now. Not after everything that’s happened today.”

    “But I--“ Alphamon began to protest. He felt the need to explain himself. He needed to apologize for his foolish, impulsive, inappropriate behaviour. He didn’t even get to properly explain to Omegamon about why he kept the secret from him. However… he realized that he couldn’t right now. After what he did, he would only make things worse between him. Thinking rationally again, Alphamon knew that he had to cut his losses before he screwed things up irrevocably between them… if he hadn’t already.

    Alphamon grimaced and nodded, walking towards the door. “Very well…” he muttered. As he passed Omegamon and went out into the hall, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”

    Cringing, Omegamon closed the door behind Alphamon.

    Wordlessly, Alphamon turned and walked into his own room, closing the door behind him. He sat down at his desk and buried his face in his hands, sighing and rubbing his temples in frustration. “Yggdrasil, Alphamon… What the hell were you thinking…?” he asked himself.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  17. #42
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    Author's Notes: "The text that you have entered is too long (50705 characters). Please shorten it to 50000 characters long." <- The worst.

    So, yes, if you're wondering why one scene is in this post and everything else is in the next post, blame Sppf and its character limits.

    Also, enjoy the chapter.

    Chapter 17: Shifting the Balance

    Dorbickmon sat on the throne in the great hall of the Lupolford town hall. It was dark except for the wall torches that provided light along the stone sides of the long room. He ran his clawed fingers along the detailed ornamentation of the throne, sliding it along its gold facets and a crimson corundum at the end of the chair’s arm.

    I wonder how much this thing would sell for…?” he mused to himself, looking down at the throne he rested on. “That Anubismon must have had a fair amount of money to get this. Pity he squandered it all before he was killed; we could have used it for our own purposes.

    His train of thought was interrupted when the double doors at the end of the hall creaked loudly upon being pushed open. Dorbickmon looked up and stood to his feet. He saw two figures walk in. The first was DarkKnightmon and the one behind him was a Digimon that he didn’t recognize.

    The red dragon man walked down the three steps and made his way across the marble floor towards them. “Is this that friend you mentioned?” Dorbickmon asked DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “This is MirageGaogamon. He’s the former Captain of the Royal Knights’ Defence Forces. He helped me when I rebelled,” he explained.

    “Oh, that’s right…” Dorbickmon spoke, thinking back. “I remember reading that you had an accomplice.”

    “Who is this, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked suspiciously, leering at Dorbickmon.

    “He’s the one I mentioned who freed me from the Dark Area,” DarkKnightmon informed him. “Dorbickmon’s a useful ally.”

    “I hope I can be,” Dorbickmon remarked, reaching out his hand towards MirageGaogamon.

    MirageGaogamon eyed his hand suspiciously, but reached out and clasped it. He looked up at Dorbickmon. “Why do you want to help DarkKnightmon?”

    “I have a score to settle with Examon, one of the new Royal Knights,” Dorbickmon explained, looking him in the eyes as he shook his hand.

    “Not a very noble cause,” MirageGaogamon said, releasing his hand.

    “Yeah, well, I’m not a very noble guy,” Dorbickmon responded. He paused. “Neither is Examon, for that matter. That’s why it makes my blood boil to see him a part of a holy, benevolent group like the Royal Knights. If only they knew the truth…”

    “What exactly did he do to you?” MirageGaogamon asked curiously.

    DarkKnightmon spoke up. “As far as I’m concerned, it matters not why you want to help us, Dorbickmon. I’m already in your debt for helping me to escape.”

    “Good. I’m willing to go along with whatever you want, just as long as you leave Examon to me. A cut of the spoils wouldn’t go amiss either,” Dorbickmon told him, a twinkle in his violet eyes. “I’m a simple guy of simple wants.”

    “I’m glad to hear that. We should be able to work together smoothly,” the dark knight assured him.

    “What’s our first course of action, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked sharply.

    “I have a few things planned,” DarkKnightmon replied. “First and foremost should be intelligence gathering. Since MirageGaogamon and I have been imprisoned for the past several years, I need to know what’s changed and I need to know more about these new Royal Knights.”

    “I’ve got that covered,” Dorbickmon explained. “I know a guy who’s good at gathering information. He’s how I found out about Examon. I did some research on the other knights while I was at it. RhodoKnightmon, UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon, Duftmon, Sleipmon, and Examon are the ones you don’t know, right?”

    “That’s right,” he informed him. “We can focus on that later. What we shouldn’t do is face all eleven Royal Knights head on. That would just be reckless and foolish. I want to split them up into more manageable groups and take them down one by one.”

    “How are you gonna do that? They’re probably planning to send the whole Order after you,” Dorbickmon noted.

    “I’ll get the mercenary teams attack some of the Free Area states at the same time; just to get their attention and scatter as they approach. That will divert and separate the Royal Knights as they go to deal with all of the attacks. That will make the remainder easier to deal with.”

    “What if they’re so focused on finding you that they send the Strike Forces of the Order to deal with them instead?” Dorbickmon asked.

    “Hmm…” DarkKnightmon considered his question pensively. “Shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve dangled a bit of bait.”

    “Yeah?”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “When we were walking away from the prison, MirageGaogamon noticed that a mechanical insect had been following us.”

    “You mean a Digimon?” Dorbickmon asked, arching an eyebrow.

    “No, but it was made by a Digimon. It had some sort of tracking system installed in it,” DarkKnightmon explained. “I destroyed it, and the some of the Royal Knights will naturally come to investigate the area of its destruction. That’s where we’ll make our first offensive.”

    “I’ll leave it to you. Strategy’s not really my thing,” Dorbickmon said with a wave of his hand. “Just as long as we don’t get overwhelmed. Should I go get my notes on the Knights?”

    “Please,” DarkKnightmon said, nodding at Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon nodded. “Okay,” he said. He glanced at MirageGaogamon. “Nice meeting you. By the way, don’t go near the dark rift back there. Still having trouble closing it.”

    MirageGaogamon watched him silently as Dorbickmon walked towards the back of the great hall, disappearing out one of the doors. When he was gone, the former Captain turned to DarkKnightmon.

    “Do you trust him, Sir?” he asked suspiciously.

    “I trust him for as long as our goals go hand-in-hand,” DarkKnightmon replied. “And that’s good enough for me. Loyalty isn’t free, after all.”

    “It is when it comes to me and you, Sir,” MirageGaogamon told him, somewhat defensively.

    DarkKnightmon smiled. “It reassures me to hear you say that, Captain. You know you can trust me, as well.”

    “I know.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded and placed his hand on MirageGaogamon’s shoulder. “Let me show you where the war room is. Then we can strategize about how to get the Royal Knights out of their castle.”

    -

    (Continued in the next post.)
    Last edited by Griff4815; 17th September 2014 at 3:30 AM.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  18. #43
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    Continued from previous post

    -

    Alphamon let out a groan as he sat up in bed. The morning sun glared upon the landscape outside, indirectly illuminating his room through the windows. The knight brought a hand to his face and rubbed his eyes, trying to wake himself up

    He glanced over to the other side of his large bed. He saw that OuRyuumon was not there. While the two typically only spent the night together on the odd occasion, Alphamon noticed his absence particularly on that morning. It was then that the guilt from yesterday returned. He groaned and rubbed his face when he remembered. He made a pass at Omegamon.

    “Great… Just great…” he murmured, sliding out from under the covers and standing to his feet. “First OuRyuumon, now him. What else could go wrong?”

    As if on cue, there was a frantic knocking on his door.

    “Who is it?” Alphamon called out.

    “MetallifeKuwagamon!” a voice responded.

    “Just a moment. I’ll get dressed,” the Lord of the Empty Seat responded, walking over to his bureau. He slipped on some clothes as quickly as he could and went over to open the door.

    The short, insect technician was standing there, looking somewhat flustered. “I’m sorry, Alphamon, sir. Did I wake you?” he asked.

    “No, I was just getting up anyways. What is it, Metallife?”

    “There’s an urgent communication from the Overseer of Havelock Prison,” MetallifeKuwagamon explained with a look of concern on his face. “He says that there’s been a prison break.”

    “What?! That’s impossible!” Alphamon exclaimed, glaring and balling his fists up. “What happened?”

    “Y-You should really talk to him yourself…” MetallifeKuwagamon told him. “I don’t know the details…”

    Alphamon nodded curtly and walked past him, haste in his stride. MetallifeKuwagamon followed after him. He made his way down to the first floor, speed-walking down corridors until he reached the communications room. He walked in and saw the gold, fearsome body of a Reapermon on the giant monitor’s screen. The Reapermon’s skull-like face had an agitated, frustrated look, and his gold-plated, humanoid body had scuffs and dents all over it. Above the clenched, metal claws of his left hand was a giant cannon, which contrasted with the long, deadly scythe of his right arm.

    His glowing, red eyes looked over as he noticed Alphamon and MetallifeKuwagamon appear on his screen. “Alphamon…” he spoke in a gravelly voice.

    “Reapermon, are you alright? Tell me what happened,” Alphamon urged him. Although he was extremely agitated about everything that was going on, he maintained a calm, professional demeanour in front of his subordinates.

    “A little battered and bruised. I’m fine. My pride took the brunt of the beating,” Reapermon explained, frowning deeply.

    “MetallifeKuwagamon told me there was a prison break…” Alphamon spoke, narrowing his eyes. “How is that possible with all of the security measures in place.”

    “It happened from the outside… Yesterday,” the Overseer answered. “It was DarkKnightmon.”

    Alphamon sneered. Him again. “DarkKnightmon… Of course…”

    “He knew all of the security protocols. The guards were no match for his power. I couldn’t even stand up to him,” Reapermon admitted, grimacing and bowing his head somewhat. “I apologize, Alphamon.”

    “No… It’s my fault. I should have anticipated something like this. We should have updated the protocols,” Alphamon assured him, sighing and rubbing his forehead. “Now… How bad is it?”

    “That’s the thing…” Reapermon said, looking up. “The only prisoner that was set free was MirageGaogamon. All of the rest were still locked up.”

    “MirageGaogamon…” Alphamon spoke bitterly. “His old ally.” He looked up at the screen. “Were there any casualties?”

    “Fortunately not. Ninety percent of the guards are injured though. I would like to request that we send them to headquarters for medical treatment and get some temporary replacements from your Defence Forces,” the Overseer said. “As it stands now, Havelock Prison is unsecure.”

    “Of course,” Alphamon said. “I’ll make those provisions. I’ll also have Duskmon send one or two of his apprentices over for those of you with minor injuries.”

    “Thanks, Alphamon. Oh… by the way. It isn’t all bad news,” Reapermon explained, a grin creeping onto his skeletal face.

    “Oh?” the Lord of the Empty Seat inquired, cocking an eyebrow.

    “I managed to send that insect-shaped scout pod that MetallifeKuwagamon made for us here at Havelock after them not long after they escaped.”

    “You did?” MetallifeKuwagamon spoke up. “If you tell me its code, I should be able to access its memory bank remotely from the computer.”

    “Twenty three, I’m fairly certain. I hope you can find something to work with from that,” Reapermon told them. “I want to do at least something to help after that embarrassing event yesterday.”

    “Thank you, Reapermon. I hope so too,” Alphamon answered.

    “Catch those bastards for me,” Reapermon said, moving his hand and closing the video call program.

    MetallifeKuwagamon walked over to the long computer desk. “This will take about fifteen minutes, Alphamon.”

    Alphamon nodded at MetallifeKuwagamon and walked out of the room, leaving him to his work. “I will, Reapermon,” he thought to himself. There was a purposeful determination in his step as he strode down the corridor.

    I’ll stop him before things get even more out of hand.

    -

    Omegamon lay in bed, lying on his back. He stared up at the ceiling with his hands rested behind his head. As soon as he woke up, all that he could think about was what had happened the day before. The events kept playing over and over in his mind.

    Why did Alphamon do that? Did Alphamon actually have those kinds of feelings towards him? He doubted it. If Alphamon did, Omegamon never noticed them before. Then again, Omegamon hadn’t realized that Alphamon was bisexual either, so maybe he wasn’t the best judge of character. He thought that it was more likely that Alphamon was just emotionally confused after what happened with OuRyuumon. Alphamon’s emotions were running high and he had a moment of weakness, he figured.

    However, even that didn’t make things that much easier. A line was crossed yesterday, and now Omegamon was left confused. Alphamon was Omegamon’s best friend, but now he didn’t know what he was supposed to feel… or what Alphamon felt about him. That, combined with the uncertainty of Alphamon hiding his sexuality and relationship with OuRyuumon only served to confuse him further. It upset him to know that things would inevitably different between them from now on. Things had been strained between them enough as it was. He didn’t want to lose Alphamon as a friend. He had been willing to look past Alphamon’s apparent lack of trust in him, but now… he wasn’t sure what to think. His thoughts were spinning.

    Omegamon sighed and pulled the covers off his bed. Thinking about the problem all day was no solution. He had duties to attend to and he needed to start the day. The white knight stood to his feet and made his way towards his door.

    As he approached, he suddenly stopped. He thought that he heard metallic shuffling coming from the room to the left of his, at the end of the corridor. It was Alphamon’s room. Curious as to what the sound was, Omegamon opened his door so that he could listen more accurately.

    As he opened the door, Alphamon opened his own door. Omegamon froze, his heart sinking. He wasn’t prepared to face Alphamon yet.

    Alphamon took one step out of his room before stopping in his tracks. He saw Omegamon and struggled not to grimace. “Oh… Omegamon…” he spoke, the sheepish discomfort plain in his voice. “Good morning…”

    “Good morning…” Omegamon answered, his eyes acknowledging Alphamon before looking away. He was about to turn to escape back into his room when something caught his attention. Alphamon was suited up in full armour, cape and all. It was odd for him this early in the morning. He turned his gaze back to Alphamon, arching an eyebrow. “…Are you going somewhere?”

    Alphamon cringed and averted his gaze. “Don’t worry about it,” he answered, beginning to walk again. He passed Omegamon and began to head towards the set of stairs on the other end of the hallway. However, he found himself stopped in his tracks by a white hand on his shoulder guard. He turned suddenly to see Omegamon holding him in place.

    Omegamon glared at him resolutely. “Where are you going, Alphamon?” he demanded in an authoritative voice that was rare for Omegamon.

    Alphamon grunted and looked forwards again. “I’m going to face DarkKnightmon.”

    “You aren’t serious…”

    Alphamon nodded. “Please don’t try to convince me otherwise.”

    Omegamon frowned and walked up beside him. “How do you even know where to look? The morning patrols aren’t even back yet, are they?”

    Alphamon released a sigh through his nostrils; Omegamon could be stubborn when he needed to be. “DarkKnightmon broke MirageGaogamon out of Havelock,” he told him. Before Omegamon could react with shock, Alphamon continued. “Reapermon sent out one of Metallife’s scout pods after them. He’s bringing up the memory feed as we speak.”

    “He’s gathering allies,” Omegamon said, his brows furrowed harder now.

    Alphamon nodded. “That’s why I need to stop him now, before he can amass more allies against us.”

    “I’m coming with you,” Omegamon told him.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat turned away. “…You don’t need to do that, Omegamon.”

    “Yes, I do,” the white knight firmly answered. “It would be foolish for you to go alone. You know how strong DarkKnightmon is.”

    “Are you sure…?” Alphamon pressed, leering over his shoulder at him.

    Omegamon frowned. He knew why Alphamon was hesitant. Neither of them forgot about the incident between them yesterday. “…Yes. It’s my duty as a Royal Knight to support you on a dangerous task like this.”

    Alphamon paused. “I see… Your duty. Very well,” he said, turning towards the staircase. “Go get yourself armoured up and meet me in the communications room.”

    “You won’t slip away while I’m changing, will you?” Omegamon asked him, arching an eyebrow suspiciously.

    “You never would have asked me that before…” Alphamon spoke in a near mumble.

    Omegamon couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt in his chest. He winced and his gaze strayed away. “Sorry…”

    Alphamon frowned suddenly. “No, I—“ he stopped himself and closed his fists with frustration. “Never mind. Meet me when you’re ready.”

    “Very well…” Omegamon answered tensely. He turned and headed into his room, closing the door behind him before sighing. As he expected, things were extremely difficult between them. It seemed that they both had unspoken words that they didn’t know how to say.

    This was the first time since they had become really close friends that Alphamon had really been a mystery to him. Usually, he was able to pick up on Alphamon’s thoughts just by being around him, and vice versa. Now, he didn’t know what Alphamon was thinking. He could feel the rift between them growing wider by the day and he didn’t know how to mend it.

    Omegamon sighed wistfully and began undressing to change into his armour. “Maybe defeating DarkKnightmon will solve all of this…”

    -

    After twenty minutes of preparation, Omegamon walked into the communications room where he found Alphamon waiting. He stood behind MetallifeKuwagamon, who sat at the computer, watching the video feed of his reconnaissance drone.

    “Is this your scout pod?” Omegamon asked walking in and standing to look at the screen.

    “It was…” MetallifeKuwagamon said with some bitterness in his voice.

    “Was?” he questioned, wondering about his choice of tense. Omegamon looked at the screen. The monitor showed the mechanical drone following what were definitely DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon.

    “This is at the twenty minute mark,” MetallifeKuwagamon informed him, looking expectantly at the giant computer monitor. “They haven’t noticed it yet.”

    Omegamon and Alphamon continued watching, standing apart from one another.

    The scout pod followed the two Digimon from a distance, recording their movements, as well as their voices with limited audio quality. The sound was distorted because of the strong winds, but it was able to pick up a few of their words here and there.

    “…Dorbick—Sssssst…iversion… Fffffft…” the computer’s audio speakers echoed.

    “I can’t make out what they’re saying,” Omegamon said.

    “I can try to amplify the audio, but it will likely take until the mid-afternoon,” MetallifeKabuterimon said.

    “Do that. For now, we’ll go off the visual cues,” Alphamon told him.

    MetallifeKuwagamon nodded, watching as the two fugitive Digimon began to make sneaky glances over their shoulders. “Here,” he said.

    DarkKnightmon suddenly spun around whipped his Twin Spear towards the drone like a javelin. The lance flew towards the screen at a frightening speed before the tip embedded itself in the camera of the scout pod. The screen cracked and immediately went black.

    “That was the last point of contact with Scout Pod #23,” MetallifeKuwagamon explained with a light wince.

    “Is that why I saw you on the floor when I walked in?” Alphamon asked, raising an eyebrow.

    MetallifeKuwagamon’s face flushed. “Err… It was startling for somebody not expecting it…” he sheepishly said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Would you like me to rewind the memory file?”

    “No, that’s alright,” Alphamon reassured him. “I know where the scout pod was destroyed from the landmarks I noticed the first time.”

    MetallifeKuwagamon nodded. “Then I’ll get to work on the audio.”

    “Thank you, Metallife,” the black knight told him. “We’ll head out then.” He looked at Omegamon. “If you’re ready, I mean…”

    “If you are,” Omegamon replied.

    With a nod, Alphamon walked out into the corridor. “Then let’s go.”

    As they walked into the hall, the two knights abruptly stopped. OuRyuumon was walking towards them.

    Alphamon saw him and looked away with a soft wince. While he was still furious at the dragon, he couldn’t help but feel guilty about making a pass at Omegamon while they were still in a relationship.

    Omegamon similarly felt uncomfortable about what had happened, and he felt a bit guilty himself that OuRyuumon didn’t know about it. That said, he wasn’t about to tell him, knowing how much worse it would make everything.

    OuRyuumon looked up and noticed Alphamon, a bit of hope growing in his eyes. “A-Alphamon!”

    Alphamon frowned and walked towards the dragon. He passed by him without a word.

    Omegamon’s gaze softened as he followed the black knight. It pained him to see the look of dejection and sorrow on OuRyuumon’s face. He sympathized for the Digimon, but at the same time, he couldn’t feel too bad because OuRyuumon brought it on himself to a large degree.

    “He’ll come around,” Omegamon felt the need to tell OuRyuumon as he passed him.

    Cringing, OuRyuumon shrugged. “Yeah… Sure…” he mumbled. He glanced over his shoulder at him. “Where are you two going?”

    Omegamon stopped and paused. He knew that Alphamon didn’t want any of the other Royal Knights going with them, and he certainly wouldn’t want OuRyuumon to come along. Omegamon himself knew that bringing OuRyuumon along to face DarkKnightmon after what DarkKnightmon had done to their relationship would be a huge mistake. “We’re just meeting with KaiserGreymon and AncientGarurumon,” Omegamon lied.

    “Oh…”

    With that, Omegamon went to catch up with Alphamon, so that they could go and face DarkKnightmon.

    -

    After an hour’s flight, Alphamon and Omegamon landed on the grassy plains of their territory. A heavy overcast of grey clouds had taken over the sky, blocking out the sun.

    It had been a long, tense journey for the two knights. They barely spoke to one another, and the uncomfortable silence that resulted made things all the more unbearable. Neither of them bothered forcing small talk, knowing how transparent it would have been. They only spoke about the mission at hand, pointing out landmarks and points of interest.

    They had been relieved when they reached the first of their destinations, Havelock Prison. From there, they followed the path of MetallifeKuwagamon’s scout pod, based off of Alphamon’s memory. It was another twenty minutes until they reached their second destination.

    The black and white knights looked around the area cautiously. There was grassland for kilometers, with only a few trees and giant boulders to serve as landmarks for the area. To their right, there was a large bed of blue and yellow flowers.

    “You’re sure this is the place?” Omegamon asked, looking over at Alphamon.

    “Yes,” he answered, nodding over to the flowers. “I recognize the flowers.”

    “Are you sure it’s the same one? There are countless beds of those flowers around our territory,” Omegamon contested.

    “Positive,” Alphamon responded certainly. He turned away from the white knight and scanned the flowers. “I picked a flower from this patch for OuRyuumon for our first date, as a joke.”

    Omegamon tensed up slightly. “I… see,” he answered ambiguously, not wanting to linger on their problems anymore during that mission. His head was already racing with countless thoughts about himself, Alphamon, OuRyuumon, and DarkKnightmon. He didn’t need his judgment clouded any further. Omegamon knew that these thoughts of uncertainty were plaguing Alphamon’s mind as well.

    Omegamon shook his head. He needed to focus at the task at hand. He looked around the vicinity carefully. “…I think I see something,” he remarked, suddenly turning in a different direction and walking over.

    Alphamon pivoted and walked after him, looking to see what Omegamon noticed. “I think you’re right,” he said.

    The two knights approached a pile of gold scraps of metal, strewn heedlessly amongst the blades of grass. Metal shards and cut circuitry lay at their feet.

    “This must be the scout pod,” Alphamon figured, nudging the scrap metal with his boot.

    “It seems that way…” Omegamon agreed. He looked up and gazed around the area carefully.

    His eyes snapped wide open at something.

    “Alphamon!” he shouted.

    Alphamon whipped around to see two streams of fire ripping through the air towards them. The jets of flames incinerated the flowers along with the blades of grass below.

    Omegamon tackled Alphamon to the ground roughly. The sweltering streams passed over the Royal Knights harmlessly, although Omegamon still felt their heat pulsing against his back. Alphamon hissed and stood up as soon as the flames dissipated, pulling Omegamon up with him.

    “Damn it, an ambush,” he growled, turning towards where the attack came from. He summoned the Seiken Grad Alpha in a burst of light.

    Omegamon narrowed his eyes and nodded, his Grey Sword and Garuru Cannon springing out from his gauntlets as he turned towards the blast’s origin as well. They could only see a spot of red and black against the green and grey backdrop. “There,” he exclaimed, raising his cannon towards the attacker.

    Before Omegamon could fire, the Digimon acted. “Burning the Dragon!” a voice roared out. There was a flash of violet power in front of the figure and, suddenly, the ground began to shudder and quake, throwing the Royal Knights off balance.

    Alphamon snarled and stabbed his sword of light into the ground to keep himself standing. Omegamon did the same with his Grey Sword, unable to fire while off balance. However, the attack didn’t end there. The earth suddenly ripped up around them, throwing grass, dirt, and rocks upwards around their forms.

    “Break!” Alphamon shouted to Omegamon, bursting through the left side of the blast of upturned earth. Omegamon nodded and burst through the right side, separating from Alphamon.

    Disoriented from the attack, the two knights stopped and regained their bearings, raising their weapons to counter any surprise attacks. Omegamon whirled around towards where he last saw the figure, but he was already gone. Instead, he noticed something directly above him, falling fast.

    The large, crimson form of a dragon man Digimon descended on him, slashing down a sword wreathed in blazing, violet flames. Omegamon recoiled and raised his Grey Sword, blocking the blade with his own. The force was incredible against his arm; he could tell that this Digimon was powerful.

    Omegamon’s blue eyes narrowed as his sword was pushed back, but he dug his boots into the ground and pushed back, swinging his arm out mightily. The strong swipe of the sword pushed the assailant back through the air. Omegamon then raised his cannon, taking advantage of the opening, and fired a powerful blast from the Garuru Cannon’s muzzle. The orb of swirling blue power pulsed from the cannon towards the draconic attacker, who was but meters away, but he responded with incredible battle instincts. From the two cannon ports on his pectoral muscles, he fired two blazing streaks of power that slammed into Omegamon’s attack and detonated it in between them, throwing both Digimon back.

    Alphamon sneered. “Omegamon!” he called out, turning towards him. Alphamon cried out with pain when blast of dark matter slammed into his back and exploded, knocking him to the ground violently.

    Omegamon landed on his feet, catching himself, and turned to see what hit Alphamon. He immediately knew there was a second Digimon there too.

    DarkKnightmon’s form burst out from the canopy of a tree and landed close to the leader of the Royal Knights. “You should never leave your back exposed,” DarkKnightmon chastised him.

    Alphamon growled and pushed himself to his hands and knees, his white and blue cape singed and smoking slightly. He stood up and gripped his sword tightly in his hand. “Least of all around you,” he said to DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon smirked. “If you like…” he spoke. He looked around the vicinity. “Is OuRyuumon not with you today?”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes angrily. “Being smug doesn’t suit you, DarkKnightmon,” he told him bitterly. His red eyes glanced over at the crimson dragon, who landed away from him and over near Omegamon. “New friend?”

    “Yes. That’s Dorbickmon,” DarkKnightmon explained. “He’s my bodyguard.”

    “Bodyguard, is he?” Alphamon asked, narrowing his eyes at DarkKnightmon.

    “You two came out here searching for me,” DarkKnightmon said. “I need to defend myself.”

    “You planned for us to come after you. What you’re doing here is acting aggressively, not defensively,” Alphamon countered, secretly building up power within his free hand as he spoke. “So don’t play the innocent party.”

    “Very well,” DarkKnightmon spoke, raising the Twin Spear and aiming it at Alphamon.

    “Digitalize of Soul,” Alphamon shouted, shooting his arm up as he spoke and firing a beam of emerald power from his palm.

    DarkKnightmon fired a dark, violet beam from his lance, and the two attacks clashed violently. Green and purple tendrils of energy splayed off in multiple directions as the attacks bloomed and detonated between them. Grass was ripped up and the two dark knights were buffeted backwards by the concussion of the colliding attacks.

    Omegamon darted towards the explosion, intending to engage DarkKnightmon. Suddenly appearing in his path was Dorbickmon, who gave him a toothy smirk.

    Dorbickmon charged forwards and slammed his fist into Omegamon’s face, knocking the white knight backwards. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked with a grin. “You have to deal with me.”

    Omegamon, wincing from the blow, began to glare at him. He looked over Dorbickmon’s shoulder at Alphamon, who was busy clashing weapons with DarkKnightmon. His comrade seemed like he could handle himself, so Omegamon readied his sword and cannon. “Then I will.”

    “Good. You can serve as practice,” Dorbickmon said, whipping his fiery sword, the Tyrant Collbrande, out in front of him. There was a glint in his yellow and violet eyes as he stabbed the blade into the ground. “Burning the Dragon!”

    Once again, Omegamon felt the earth below him tremble. Suddenly a pillar of rock blasted out of the ground behind him, slamming into his armoured back, right between his shoulders. Omegamon’s back arched and he was thrown forwards savagely. He quickly attempted to right himself and raise his cannon to fire at Dorbickmon, but another chunk of rock ripped from the ground and drove itself into the knight’s face, knocking him upwards.

    Omegamon staggered backwards, grimacing with pain. Through his blurred vision, he saw Dorbickmon rip his sword from the ground and charge towards him, winding his fist back with the intent of drilling it into Omegamon’s torso. However, Omegamon acted quickly and darted to the right as Dorbickmon swung his draconic fist. As the dragon missed his target, Omegamon spun around and aimed his cannon at Dorbickmon’s upper body.

    “Garuru Cannon!” he spoke. The blast burst from the cannon and consumed Dorbickmon, throwing him through the air and tumbling across the grass.

    He can manipulate the land like Duftmon can in his Leopard Mode,” Omegamon observed, carefully watching Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon snarled and stood to his feet, brushing the ice from his spikes. “I barely even felt that!” he taunted, his eyes burning excitedly. “The kid gloves come off now! Tyrant Collbrande!” he shouted.

    The dragon man raised his burning sword over his head. Suddenly, the flames intensified and the sword elongated to six times its length and width. Dorbickmon roared and slammed the massive sword down on top of Omegamon, who blocked with his sword and cannon. The immense pressure and sheer power of the Tyrant Collbrande forced him into the ground, and the area around him caved in under the gigantic sword’s power.

    Despite this, Omegamon held firm, continuing to block the sword. When the blade suddenly retracted and shrank back to its regular size, Omegamon slackened, panting with exertion. Although he avoided a direct, unguarded blow from the sword, his muscles throbbed just from blocking it.

    Omegamon stood up straight and began charging towards Dorbickmon, his sword poised and his cannon firing blasts at Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon smirked and slashed one of the blasts down the middle with the Tyrant Collbrande. “Bring it on, Royal Knight,” he said to him, narrowing his eyes as the attack’s frosty breath dispersed around him. “I’ve had years of training too…”

    -

    DarkKnightmon and Alphamon exchanged blows. DarkKnightmon’s spear tore at Alphamon’s armour. Alphamon’s blade melted Dorbickmon’s plate mail. The screech of metal pierced the air and sparks cascaded out from their clashing weapons.

    The two knights broke away and they paused for a moment to glare at each other.

    “Enough games, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon said, poising the Seiken Grad Alpha. “What are your intentions?”

    “You already know,” DarkKnightmon responded, lunging at Alphamon and stabbing his spear down at him. “I…” He paused when Alphamon parried his attack and fired back with a large beam from his left hand, which DarkKnightmon was forced to dodge. “…Never approved of the way you ran the Order.”

    DarkKnightmon rushed forwards at Alphamon, ramming him with his massive shoulder blade. “Rgh! …I’m going to dismantle the Royal Knights… and create my own Order,” he explained to him, struggling against Alphamon’s sword. As he fought against it, he pulled his Twin Spear back and levelled it at Alphamon. “I’ll replace your Royal Knights with those who share my views. Then, we will bring order to these chaotic lands.” The fugitive knight’s golden eyes flashed and he released a devastating blast of shadows from his Twin Spear onto Alphamon.

    Alphamon roared out as the shadowy power enveloped him, burning beneath his armour. He lashed out with his holy sword and swept it through the beam of darkness, ripping through it and driving it across DarkKnightmon’s chest.

    The two knights fell away, vestiges of darkness and light on their bodies as they recoiled in pain.

    “If you would just open up your eyes, DarkKnightmon…” Alphamon said to him, growling.

    “My eyes have already been opened,” DarkKnightmon responded. “And since I don’t see OuRyuumon around here, I would say that so have yours.”

    Alphamon’s gaze hardened. “Enough talk. I’ve tried to reason with you time and time again, but you would never meet me halfway.” He brandished his sword of light and sliced it diagonally at DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon parried the attack with the Twin Spear, which he flipped around and stabbed towards Alphamon’s chest. Alphamon swerved his body to the left, so the spear just glanced across his armour. He then reached out and grabbed the base of the lance, holding it in place.

    DarkKnightmon grunted and tried to retrieve the spear, jerking it around and trying to wrestle it from Alphamon’s hold. “I’ve learned something, Alphamon, something very important…” he explained to his former friend. He narrowed his eyes and drove his boot into Alphamon’s side, knocking him away from the Twin Spear.

    “Never compromise…” he said before charging at Alphamon and locking weapons with him once again.

    -

    Dorbickmon swiped the Tyrant Collbrande down on Omegamon. The white knight grunted and swung the Grey Sword to meet it, and the two swords clashed violently. The two struggled against one another, trying to break through the other’s defence.

    However, Dorbickmon suddenly grinned and tilted his head back. “Dragon Breath Tonic Fire!” As he shouted, his mouth began to leak violet flames. He jerked his head forwards and spewed fire from his mouth at Omegamon.

    Omegamon shouted with pain the inferno swept over his body, but he quickly fired back with a cannon blast to Dorbickmon’s chest. The impact wiped the smirk off Dorbickmon’s face and sent him sprawling to the ground.

    Upon crashing to the ground, Dorbickmon stabbed the fiery Tyrant Collbrande into the ground and accessed the Digital World’s dragon veins. “Burning the Dragon!” he shouted, once again manipulating the earth around them.

    Omegamon looked around himself warily. He pivoted suddenly when he saw a nearby boulder suddenly fly towards him. He pulled his cannon up and fire three hefty blasts from the Garuru Cannon. The three spheres of compressed power slammed into the boulder one after the other, shattering the giant piece of rock to fragments.

    Dorbickmon suddenly caused a large piece of land to shoot up behind Omegamon take out the back of his legs, causing them to buckle. Omegamon fell onto his back with a crash. Wincing, he aimed his cannon towards Dorbickmon, who was sitting up, and fired.

    Sneering, Dorbickmon tore his sword from the ground and used it to help brace for the attack. It only helped so much as the freezing pressure exploded on contact with him and sent him crashing into a tree.

    With a low snarl, Dorbickmon stood up, his back against the tree. “Bastard…” he growled, his eyes blazing with anger. “Tyrant Collbrande!”

    Once again, his sword amplified and he swept the massive, fiery blade towards Omegamon. Omegamon rolled to his feet and blocked the attack, trying to hold against the overwhelming blade. However, Dorbickmon’s sheer strength broke his defence, and the sword slammed into his body throwing him through the air. Omegamon landed on his chest, and he cried out with pain as the sword fell upon him another time, crushing him into the ground.

    “I don’t think you’ve had enough yet,” Dorbickmon growled, raising the sword up slowly from Omegamon’s trembling form. He hoisted the massive blade up over his head, ready to drive it down on Omegamon again.

    Omegamon opened an eye and suddenly rolled onto his back. He aimed his cannon and fired at Dorbickmon while the dragon man was too exposed to defend himself.

    Dorbickmon’s eyes widened as the blast detonated on impact with his chest. A roar of pain escaped his lips as he was thrown clear through the tree behind him, causing the whole tree to topple down with a crash.

    Grimacing with pain, Omegamon stood to his feet, more slowly this time. He forced himself to run over before Dorbickmon could formulate a counterattack. Omegamon jumped on top of the tree’s fallen trunk and saw Dorbickmon already sitting up, glaring at him.

    “Dragon Breath Tonic Fire!” he yelled, releasing a massive swath of flames towards Omegamon.

    The white knight jumped out of the way of the flames, and saw the inferno completely consume the tree that had just fallen. Dorbickmon stood up and charged through the smoke, the Tyrant Collbrande in hand.

    “You’re going down, Whitey! One way or another!” he snarled, bounding off the burning trunk and diving towards Omegamon, swinging his sword back.

    Omegamon narrowed his eyes and raised his cannon, pointing it at the oncoming dragon. With silent determination, Omegamon’s Garuru Cannon pulsed and released a powerful blast that ripped through the sky towards Dorbickmon. Dorbickmon snarled and began to slash down his sword, but he was too late. The compressed orb of sub zero power collided with his body and detonated in mid air.

    Dorbickmon was thrown out of the sky and he landed on the ground, not moving.

    Omegamon waited, inspecting him for several seconds to see if he stirred again. When he didn’t, the white knight turned towards DarkKnightmon and Alphamon, who were still fighting. He saw that Alphamon was having trouble. Omegamon knew that he needed to intervene.

    -

    Alphamon slashed the Seiken Grad Alpha down towards DarkKnightmon. The knight pivoted and caught the sword with his shoulder blade before driving his spear into Alphamon’s chest armour and firing a pillar of darkness against his body.

    He released a shout of pain as he was thrown onto his caped back, sliding across the grass.

    “You are going to have to do better than that, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon told him, frowning at him stoically. “You’re fighting sloppily, like you’re distracted. You aren’t wasting your thoughts on that waste of space known as OuRyuumon, are you?” he asked, knowing that that was likely the cause for Alphamon’s distracted fighting style.

    Alphamon sneered and stood to his feet, breathing heavily. “…Why didn’t you tell me about him back before you went to the Dark Area? Why yesterday?”

    “Because it benefited me more yesterday than it would have after I had just gone on a rampage,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    “How?” Alphamon demanded, narrowing his eyes.

    “Worry about the fight at hand, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon responded, whipping his lance down and firing another blast at Alphamon.

    Alphamon sneered and made a backwards somersault, landing on his feet and pushing off to fly into the air. He braced against the explosion below him and only suffered being pushed through the air by the blast.

    While Alphamon was distracted, DarkKnightmon lowered his weapon and lunged into the only remaining tree nearby. After a few moments, he burst from its branches and flew above Alphamon. Their eyes met for just a moment before DarkKnightmon slammed the Twin Spear down into Alphamon’s chest.

    Alphamon crashed to the ground on his back, sending a shockwave through his body and twisting his left wing painfully in the process. He let out a winded gasp. Meanwhile, DarkKnightmon kept up his assault. He descended upon Alphamon, spear in hand. However, Alphamon raised his hand up and fired a surge of green energy from his palm.

    The emerald pillar of light engulfed DarkKnightmon and threw him upwards. Although grimacing with pain, DarkKnightmon swung his arm down and retaliated with a destructive blast from his Twin Spear. Alphamon swung his holy sword up in front of him to protect himself from the darkness, but his arm buckled after a few seconds and the blast crushed him into the ground.

    DarkKnightmon let out a grunt and landed at Alphamon’s feet, inside the smoking crater near the base of the tree. The knight stomped on Alphamon’s gut before grabbing him by the collar and slamming him into the trunk of the tree. DarkKnightmon then stabbed the tip of his Twin Spear through one of the openings in Alphamon’s twisted wing, piercing through it and pinning him to the tree. Alphamon shouted in agony.

    DarkKnightmon narrowed his eyes and drove his fist across Alphamon’s face. He punched him again, and then again. “That’s always been your problem, Alphamon,” DarkKnightmon said, taking Alphamon’s chin in his hand and pressing his horned head back against the tree. “You’re afraid to get your hands dirty. That’s why you’re weak…”

    Alphamon narrowed his crimson eyes, breathing heavy with pain and fury. “I’ve gotten stronger…” he told him, staring at him defiantly. “In body and in spirit…”

    “Lies… Your spirit is breaking. I can see it in the way you fight,” DarkKnightmon said, leaning in close to stare his cold, yellow eyes into Alphamon’s animated red ones.

    “Then there’s always my body!” Alphamon retorted, suddenly pressing both hands against DarkKnightmon’s chest and firing two lasers at point blank range into him.

    DarkKnightmon growled with pain and flew back several meters onto the ground. Alphamon reached over and wrenched the Twin Spear out of his wing with a grunt of pain and effort. He tossed it aside and gripped the Seiken Grad Alpha as DarkKnightmon stood up.

    DarkKnightmon looked at Alphamon. He then glanced over at Twin Spear nearby. Timing his movements carefully, he suddenly lunged for it.

    “Garuru Cannon!” a voice shouted from behind him.

    DarkKnightmon released a shout of surprised as he felt a numb pressure slam into his back and send him flying off his feet. He landed on top of the Twin Spear with a clatter of metal.

    Alphamon looked up and saw the battle-worn figure of Omegamon standing nearby, his Garuru Cannon aimed at DarkKnightmon. His armour and cape smoked and he looked weary from his battle.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat nodded at him and turned to DarkKnightmon, who stood to his feet.

    “So you defeated Dorbickmon…” DarkKnightmon observed, turning around and facing Omegamon. He looked past Omegamon at Dorbickmon and grinned behind his helmet.

    “It’s two against one, DarkKnightmon,” Alphamon remarked.

    “Last time we fought it was five against one,” DarkKnightmon dryly said. “And anyways…” There was a victorious glint in his eyes. “Your math is wrong.”

    Alphamon’s eyes widened. “What?”

    DarkKnightmon looked up at the tree above him and Alphamon, leering into its thick canopy. “Now, MirageGaogamon.”

    “Double Crescent Mirage!” a voice shouted.

    Two crescent-shaped bursts ripped through the branches of the tree, slicing them effortlessly, and slashed across Omegamon’s chest. The white knight cried out with pain and collapsed onto his back.

    Sloppy mistakes, Royal Knights,” DarkKnightmon thought to himself as he raised his spear towards the shocked Alphamon. As soon as he saw the cobalt blur shoot out of the tree’s canopy, his gaze hardened. “Twin Spear!” The Twin Spear released a torrent of shadows that enveloped Alphamon and blew the nearby tree to pieces.

    Alphamon was propelled across the ground fiercely, rolling along the grass and landing on his bleeding wing and back.

    MirageGaogamon descended on Omegamon at a blinding speed that rivalled UlforceVeedramon’s. Omegamon tried to stand to his feet to defend himself, but his movements were too slow, his mind too sluggish from distraction, and his body too tired from his battle with Dorbickmon. MirageGaogamon’s clawed gauntlets ripped across Omegamon’s body from multiple directions, slashing through his armour, rending the black fabric on his waist, and cutting into the skin beneath.

    Omegamon grimaced with pain and he lashed out with the Grey Sword, but he found himself missing the speedy Digimon. When MirageGaogamon’s attacks let up, Omegamon decided to perform one final stand, knowing that his body was on the verge of giving out. He raised his cannon and aimed at DarkKnightmon.

    “Garuru Cannon,” he breathed, firing at the knight.

    DarkKnightmon sneered and blocked it with his Twin Spear. He held against the attack, but it managed for blast him back several paces. He whipped the Twin Spear out to the side in a swift, decisive motion. “Dorbickmon, MirageGaogamon, do it.”

    Alphamon propped himself up on his elbows and looked over at Dorbickmon. He thought he was unconscious. In actuality, Dorbickmon was wounded, but conscious. The crimson dragon lay on his stomach but raised his sword over his head. “Burning the Dragon!” he snarled, stabbing the Tyrant Collbrande down into the ground.

    Alphamon sneered and tried his best to move his protesting body to scramble to his feet. He felt the earth quaking beneath him. Just as he was about to stand, rocks shot up from around the knight and curved over his limbs to restrain him and pull him against the ground.

    “What the-?!” he demanded with anger, fighting against a large rock pulling against his arm, and trying to pull his leg away from being sucked into the ground.

    MirageGaogamon nodded and turned to Omegamon. “My apologies, Sir,” he calmly spoke. “Full Moon Blaster!”

    With a nimble push of his legs, MirageGaogamon jumped high into the air. As he reached the apex of his jump, the wolf head on MirageGaogamon’s chest armour opened up and released a torrent of intense, yellow energy. The beam streamed from his chest and descended on the white knight, blasting Omegamon’s body and crushing him into the ground beneath a giant explosion.

    “Grah!” Alphamon, who watched as this took place, yelled in frustration, blasting one of his rocky bonds away only for it to be replaced by another. “Omegamon!”

    The smoke cleared and revealed Omegamon at the bottom of the crater, unconscious from the superdreadnought-class blast.

    DarkKnightmon walked through the blast of wind that resulted from the explosion and stood at the edge of the crater, staring down. “MirageGaogamon, take him quickly,” he told him. “It won’t be long until Alphamon’s free.”

    “Yes sir,” MirageGaogamon replied, flying down and landing at the bottom on the crater. He scooped Omegamon up in his arms after making sure that he was unconscious.

    “What?!” Alphamon demanded, struggling more violently, trying to wrench his arms, legs, and wings free from the rocks that Dorbickmon summoned. “What are you doing?!”

    DarkKnightmon ignored him. “Get a head start,” he told MirageGaogamon. “I’ll carry Dorbickmon.”

    “Would you?” Dorbickmon asked, grimacing and sweating with concentration. “I don’t know how much longer… I can keep this up.”

    MirageGaogamon nodded and flew through the air, the unconscious Omegamon in his arms.

    “No!” Alphamon shouted, watching as MirageGaogamon began taking off with Omegamon. “Digitalize of Soul!” He started firing beams of green energy from his palms, both at the rocky restraints, and at DarkKnightmon and Dorbickmon. He couldn’t aim at MirageGaogamon without risking hurting Omegamon.

    DarkKnightmon scowled when a beam detonated nearby and sent a blast of energy and dirt over them. He nodded at Dorbickmon, who pulled his sword from the ground. The dark knight quickly picked up Dorbickmon in his arms and began flying away, after MirageGaogamon.

    “Omegamon!” Alphamon yelled after them. “DarkKnightmon! Stop it!”

    They didn’t respond. Alphamon growled and slashed at the rocks very precisely with the Seiken Grad Alpha, tearing through the thick rocks around his arms. Once they were free, he was able to start hacking away at the rocks over his torso, wings, and legs. After about another minute or so, Alphamon stood to his feet, ignoring the resistance and protests of his exhausted body. Alphamon flapped his wings and flew into the air, but he found his left wing giving way, too twisted and wounded to fly properly.

    “No!” Alphamon snarled with frustration, catching himself by landing on his feet. He started sprinting after them, but by then they were already specks in the grey, cloudy horizon.

    Alphamon slowly came to a stop when it was finally apparent that he was physically unable to catch up. He staggered for a few final paces before his legs gave way and he collapsed to his knees, panting.

    He looked up with wide, distraught eyes as the specks disappeared in the horizon, Omegamon with them.

    Alphamon grimaced and, in an act of rage and anguish, drove his fist deep into the ground.

    “OMEGAMON!”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  19. #44
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    Dec 2006
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    Chapter 18: Bonds


    “Where are they?”

    Duftmon stood in the council room with folded arms and a tapping foot. He had an irritated look on his face. Around him stood the eight other Royal Knights, all of whom were clad in their armour.

    “Who knows?” UlforceVeedramon asked, leaning back against the white, round table behind him. “Nobody’s seen them.”

    “OuRyuumon said that they were going to meet KaiserGreymon and AncientGarurumon, but when I called the Warrior Ten, they said that they didn’t know anything about it,” Dynasmon remarked, frowning deeply.

    “They should have been around today,” Duftmon spoke angrily. “There were three simultaneous attacks from mercenary groups in our territory. We were able to drive them back, but those attacks were no coincidence. They were coordinated to happen at the exact same time. I’m completely certain of that.”

    “It sure looks that way, doesn’t it?” Dukemon mused. “Alphamon and Omegamon would’ve told me if they were going anywhere…”

    “Leaders require accountability!” Duftmon ranted. “He can’t just go off on a moment’s notice without telling anybody. And I expected better from Omegamon.”

    “Now, Duftmon, we don’t know what happened,” Sleipmon said, looking over at the agitated strategist.

    “Perhaps they couldn’t control their desires any further and eloped!” RhodoKnightmon suggested excitedly, clasping his hands together.

    “I think we can definitely rule that idea out, Rhodo,” Dukemon said with a small grin.

    “They were gone early in the morning,” Examon observed. “Maybe there was a different attack earlier on that they went to deal with.”

    “It’s possible…” Magnamon mused.

    “Maybe OuRyuumon knows more than he let on,” Craniamon suggested, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

    The double doors of the council room suddenly opened with a loud creak, garnering the attention of all nine of the Royal Knights. They were shocked when they saw the haggard, battle-bruised form of Alphamon stagger into the room. His armour was covered in dirt, scuffs, dents and punctures. His cape was caked in mud and torn in several places. Blood dripped from the underside of his left wing, splashing onto the marble floor and leaving a trail of crimson droplets all the way from the foyer. If the knights looked closely at his face, they would have been able to see the absolute guilt and devastation in his sombre eyes.

    Behind him was the long, red, draconic body of a DORUGreymon, who craned his long, maned neck to look at Alphamon with a worried expression. “Please, Sir! You need to go see Duskmon for medical attention!”

    “Alphamon!” Magnamon cried out in concern, jogging over to him to help him stand.

    “What the hell happened?!” Dukemon demanded, going over to him with worry as well. “You’re hurt.”

    Craniamon’s eyes widened slightly at the sight. He looked over at Examon. “Somebody actually did that to Alphamon…?”

    “I… guess,” he responded, just as shocked as the others. Examon had never seen Alphamon get hurt before. He wondered who was able to do that.

    “DarkKnightmon…” Alphamon whispered, staring at the floor in front of him.

    “What?!” Dukemon asked, his yellow eyes burning with anger. “DarkKnightmon did this?!”

    “Alphamon…” Duftmon said to him calmly. “Tell us what happened exactly.”

    Alphamon stalled for a few moments. Finally, he sighed and nodded, cringing in a mixture of physical pain and remorse. “…Omegamon and I went out to look for DarkKnightmon. He broke MirageGaogamon out of prison and Reapermon sent one of Metallife’s scout pods after him, so we knew where to look.”

    “You two went alone?” Dynasmon asked, narrowing his eyes. “After what DarkKnightmon did last time?”

    Alphamon grimaced. “There wasn’t time to wait for others to get ready. I couldn’t let that opportunity pass,” he responded. “Besides, half of you don’t know what you’re up against with him.”

    “That’s no excuse to do something so reckless and foolish,” Duftmon chastised him.

    Alphamon glared at Duftmon but kept silent.

    “What happened next?” Magnamon asked him gently.

    “We were ambushed at the site where the scout drone was destroyed,” he explained, his eyes wandering back to the floor. “By DarkKnightmon and a new ally of his, Dorbickmon.”

    “Dorbickmon?” Examon asked.

    “Those aren’t all that common…” Dynasmon said, remembering seeing one of the species before. The violet dragon man then frowned as he noticed something off about the situation. “…Where’s Omegamon?” he asked, a few notes of worry in his voice.

    Alphamon suddenly grimaced. “He…” He paused. “We were fighting them, but then MirageGaogamon appeared… He tipped the tide of battle in their favour… Omegamon and I were beaten down… and…”

    “…What?” Dukemon asked, placing his hand on Alphamon’s shoulder, his chest suddenly constricting with worry. “What happened, Alphamon?”

    “Omegamon was knocked unconscious…” Alphamon explained, the guilt plain on his face. “They took him. Omegamon’s been captured…”

    “What?!” Dynasmon shouted, clenching his fists.

    “No…” Magnamon whispered, staring at Alphamon in shock.

    “Unbelievable…” Craniamon murmured, frowning hard.

    “That can’t be,” Dukemon spoke with a scathing growl in his low voice.

    Duftmon’s gaze on Alphamon hardened for several seconds. “This is a complete disaster… Not only were you both absent today when three simultaneous attacks were taking place, but now one of our finest warriors has been taken prisoner by the enemy… Well done, Alphamon…”

    Alphamon’s fists curled up into tight, trembling balls.

    “Stop it, Duftmon,” Sleipmon chastised him, wincing with grief at the grim news. “That’s not helping anything…”

    “Yeah,” UlforceVeedramon spoke, his face hard and serious. “We need to focus on how we’re going to get him back.”

    “Very well,” Duftmon conceded curtly. “We can likely deduce from the fact that DarkKnightmon has, indeed, taken Omegamon prisoner, that he also has a base of operations somewhere. He needs to keep him somewhere, after all. It’s also likely that it’s located somewhere within the Free Area, based on all of his prior sightings.” Duftmon’s brows narrowed with thought. “However, it’s hard to deduce why he would take him prisoner at all. Surely not for ransom… Moreover, why take Omegamon but not you as well?” he asked, looking over at Alphamon questioningly.

    “I don’t know…” Alphamon admitted grimly. “He probably could have if he wanted to.”

    “Thank Yggdrasil that he didn’t then,” RhodoKnightmon spoke.

    “I wonder… Could this be connected to the three attacks we repelled around noon?” Duftmon mused.

    “Maybe…” Examon responded.

    The DORUGreymon cleared his throat audibly. “A-Alphamon… You really need to see the physician. You’re still bleeding.”

    “He’s right, Alphamon,” Magnamon agreed. “Dukemon and I will help you down there.”

    Alphamon grunted with reluctant compliance. “Fine…” he muttered. “Just can’t believe that this happened…”

    Duftmon glared at him. “I don’t know what you expected, Alphamon,” he remarked, folding his arms across his chest and tilting his head back and to the side slightly.

    “Give it a rest, Duftmon,” Dukemon warned him.

    Dynasmon frowned and looked away. He didn’t like to admit it, but he agreed with Duftmon on this. If they had just asked him and a few other knights to go along too, then it was likely that Omegamon wouldn’t have been captured.

    Alphamon’s gaze hardened and he slowly turned towards Duftmon.

    “He’s our leader!” Duftmon responded. “He ought to know better. He needs to know that things like this are unacceptable for someone in his position. If the roles were reversed, he would have said the same thing to any of us.” Duftmon turned and locked his eyes with Alphamon. “All of this – Omegamon’s capture – is entirely your fault, I hope you know.”

    “I KNOW!” Alphamon snapped at him angrily, taking a step towards the leopard knight. The unexpected volume from Alphamon silenced the room. “Do you think that I don’t know that?! That I’m not cursing myself and blaming myself for what happened to him?! Well, I knew full well without your infinite wisdom, but thank you for making sure that I was aware of my massive mistake. But I suppose you just enjoy twisting the knife, don’t you?”

    Duftmon went silent for a few moments, taken off guard by his outburst. “…I simply have the best interests of the Order in mind,” he replied quietly. “I take no pleasure in Omegamon’s capture or the effects that it has on you.”

    Alphamon grunted and turned towards the doors, his back to the Royal Knights. “I can carry myself to the medical ward, Magnamon, Dukemon.”

    “That’s great,” Dukemon said, taking Alphamon’s arm and pulling it over his shoulders. “I’m still gonna take you.”

    “I’ll come too,” Magnamon told them.

    Alphamon sighed and nodded weakly, letting Dukemon help him out of the room and to one of the nearest doors in the great hall. He winced as they walked; every movement sent pain shooting through some part of his body.

    “He’s just as strong as before, I see…” Dukemon mused grimly, walking Alphamon down the corridor.

    Alphamon gave a soft nod. “…I should have stopped him back in the Mesozoic Kingdom, when I had the upper hand,” he muttered. “I never should have fallen for his trick.”

    “What trick?” Magnamon asked, looking up at Alphamon as he followed from behind.

    “…Nothing,” Alphamon answered, not wanting to involve the other knights in what happened with OuRyuumon. “Just some effective tactics.”

    “DarkKnightmon’s always been cunning,” Dukemon said with a stern frown. “But we’ve gotten a lot stronger since back then.”

    “So has he,” Alphamon replied.

    “I guess so…” Dukemon supposed, figuring that DarkKnightmon must have honed his abilities in the chaotic Dark Area. He looked over at Magnamon. “Hey, Magna, can you run ahead and tell Duskmon to get a bed ready?”

    “No problem,” Magnamon answered, jogging ahead to the medical ward.

    Dukemon watched as Magnamon disappeared around the corner. When the knight of miracles was gone, Dukemon turned to Alphamon. “How’re you doing?” he asked him in a sympathetic voice.

    “You can see for yourself,” Alphamon told him dryly, gesturing to his form.

    “Not what I mean…” Dukemon explained, rubbing Alphamon’s back.

    Alphamon cringed. “…Terrible… Perhaps DarkKnightmon’s right. If I wasn’t so weak, maybe none of this would have happened. If I had stood up to him… or…”

    “Don’t let DarkKnightmon get to you,” Dukemon told him firmly. “DarkKnightmon’s ‘power’ isn’t real strength. It’s a slippery slope that ends at oppressing the Digimon we swore to protect.”

    “He isn’t entirely wrong though, Dukemon,” Alphamon said solemnly, looking at the crimson knight. “I’m afraid to make controversial decisions because I’m afraid of tarnishing my image.”

    “You’re the leader of the Royal Knights; of course you think about your image. And besides, you inducted Sleipmon into the Order; that raised a lot of eyebrows but you still stood by your decision,” Dukemon reassured him. “Don’t listen to DarkKnightmon’s crap. You’re letting him get into your head.”

    “It’s not all garbage though…”

    “It is, damn it,” Dukemon told him sharply. “You’re thinking this way because you couldn’t stop Omegamon from getting captured. You’re not the only one with insecurities, you know…” He smiled at Alphamon a bit. “This is coming from the so-called ‘Ticking Timebomb’, after all…”

    “Dukemon…” Alphamon said with a frown. “Nobody thinks that about you.”

    Dukemon gave him a sad smirk. “Don’t they?” he asked him. He gave Alphamon a pat on his back. “Anyways… DarkKnightmon will try to play on my insecurities about the Digital Hazard when he gets the chance. He’s always done that with our enemies back when he was one of us. Now he’s doing it with you. He’s a bit like that Gaiomon guy that KaiserGreymon knows, in that respect.”

    “Yes… You’re probably right,” Alphamon said as they approached the medical bay. “Do you think that’s why he took Omegamon?”

    “Maybe… Who knows?” Dukemon said, sighing a bit upon thinking about their friend. “Omegamon’s tough… He’ll be okay.”

    Alphamon nodded with a soft wince. He still felt guilty about Omegamon, not just because of all that had happened between them, but also because Omegamon never would have been captured if Alphamon hadn’t insisted on going after DarkKnightmon. He could never forgive himself if something happened to Omegamon.

    Dukemon helped Alphamon into the medical bay, which had a few soldiers in there from the brief fights against the mercenary groups earlier. They saw Magnamon and Duskmon standing beside a fresh bed.

    Duskmon approached them and his multiple eyes began looking Alphamon’s body over. “That wing might be broken, Alphamon,” he observed.

    “I’m fine, Duskmon,” Alphamon insisted unconvincingly.

    “You’re fine when I say you’re fine,” Duskmon responded, helping Dukemon bring Alphamon over to the bed to sit him down. “Now, set a good example for your subordinates and behave.”

    Alphamon gave him a weak nod of compliance and sat down, letting Duskmon strip off his chest armour to observe the damage underneath. He closed his eyes and took to his thoughts as Duskmon made his inspection.

    Hang in there, Omegamon. We’re coming for you.

    -

    The faint, whipping sound of flames flowed into Omegamon’s ears as he started to fade back into consciousness. Initially, he barely registered the sounds; the first thing that he noticed was the numb, throbbing pain throughout his body. His head ached the worst, but the pain wasn’t as bad as he expected, considering what had happened before he was knocked out by MirageGaogamon’s last attack.

    Omegamon groaned a bit at the pain. He felt pressure on his knees and feet. As the knight began to regain his consciousness more fully, he became aware that he was in a kneeling position. He started to wonder why that was. Omegamon tried to stir a bit, to reach out and get his bearings. This was when he became aware of a strange, tight feeling around his upper body. He found himself unable to move his arms at all.

    The Royal Knight slowly opened his blue eyes to see what was going on. His vision was blurry and everything was dark except for the individual torches along the walls. As his vision started to focus and adjust, he saw that he was in the center of a long, ornate hall. It looked similar to the great hall of the Royal Knights’ headquarters, but smaller and less grand.

    Next, Omegamon looked down to see what was inhibiting him. His eyes widened to see that he was completely restrained. Solid, metal chains were wrapped around Omegamon’s upper body, tightly pinning his arms to his sides from his shoulders down to his waist. He saw that the chains also coiled around his wrists before they lead down to attach to a pair of thick, metal rungs in the marble floor, one on each side of his body. This served to keep him in a kneeling position.

    Shock and alarm flooded through his body, waking him up fully. Omegamon grunted and instinctively struggled against the chains tied around his caped and armoured body, trying to break them or loosen them enough to free himself. When this didn’t work, he then tried to stand to his feet, but thanks to the chains holding him down, he couldn’t get his knees more than a few centimeters off of the ground. A frustrated growl escaped Omegamon’s mouth as he began to feel desperate. He didn’t have either of his weapons and these chains seemed particularly strong. They were definitely too strong for him to break, but that didn’t stop him from trying.

    It wasn’t long until Omegamon began to hear a sound other than the frantic rattling of his chains. He heard metal footsteps echoing down the hall as they hit the marble floor.

    “Those are chrome digizoid chains,” a familiar voice explained to him from behind.

    Omegamon ceased his futile struggle and looked over his shoulder with a glare. He watched as DarkKnightmon emerged from the shadows and walked towards him. “DarkKnightmon…” he murmured lowly, narrowing his eyes.

    “They can only be broken by chrome digizoid weapons, the highest of temperatures, or the strongest of attacks,” DarkKnightmon continued, walking up to him.

    Omegamon grunted and looked off to the side. “I’m aware… of how chrome digizoid works,” he answered through a twinge of pain. He suddenly turned his head and began to look all around himself. “…Where’s Alphamon? What did you do with him?”

    “We had to leave him,” DarkKnightmon answered calmly, stopping right in front of the restrained knight and looking down at him. “He was still too volatile and we could only carry one of you, with Dorbickmon badly injured.”

    “It doesn’t add up,” Omegamon said, glaring up at him. “You always wanted to remove Alphamon from power. Why take me and not him instead?”

    “The simplest solution isn’t always the best one… We capture Alphamon and then the whole Order descends on us,” DarkKnightmon responded.

    “And they’ll just forget about Alphamon’s second-in-command?” Omegamon challenged. “Alphamon wouldn’t… None of them would. I’m sure of it.”

    “I’m sure you’re right,” DarkKnightmon said enigmatically, resting the Twin Spear on one of his shoulders.

    Omegamon narrowed his eyes into a suspicious leer. “What are your plans for me?”

    DarkKnightmon squatted down in front of Omegamon so that he was at eye level with the kneeling knight. He used his spear like a stick to balance himself. “I’m not going to explain it to you, Omegamon.”

    “Think about what you’re doing, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon told him, staring into his eyes.

    “I have been thinking…” DarkKnightmon responded decisively, staring back.

    “About all of it…” Omegamon urged him. “About this misguided goal of yours of taking over the Order… I know that a lot has happened, but it’s not too late to go back.”

    DarkKnightmon reached out and placed his hand on Omegamon’s shoulder, gripping it gently. “I’m glad to hear you say that, Omegamon. …I’m glad because, despite all that’s happened, I still consider you and I to be friends.”

    Omegamon frowned slightly and looked down at the chains around his chest. “Do you restrain all of your friends?” he asked him dryly.

    DarkKnightmon smirked at the comment. “Just when it’s the only way to make them listen to me…”

    “I’ve always listened to you…” Omegamon told him, gazing into the dark knight’s gold eyes, hoping to strike an emotional chord with him.

    He gave a barely audible exhale. “Yes… Yes, you have,” DarkKnightmon spoke. “You have always understood me when nobody else bothered. I suppose that’s partially why you’re here.”

    “That’s not true. Alphamon and the others listened to you too. They just didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear,” Omegamon replied.

    “I would appreciate it if you didn’t generalize my actions to just throwing a temper tantrum when I didn’t get what I want,” DarkKnightmon replied. “There’s much more to it than that and you know it.” The dark knight furrowed his brow. “Is OuRyuumon still slinking around like the snake that he is?”

    “I believe so…” the captive knight answered.

    “So, Alphamon did nothing to punish him, I shouldn’t wonder.”

    Omegamon frowned a bit. “He didn’t condone OuRyuumon’s actions in the slightest. That’s all I’m saying.”

    DarkKnightmon gave a ghost of a grin behind his helmet and slid his hand down Omegamon’s chest to pluck one of the chrome digizoid chains with his finger. “That is your prerogative,” he answered, standing back up to his feet. “You’re not kneeling there so that I can interrogate you.”

    “’Kneeling’ being to operative word…” Omegamon muttered. “Is this one of your mind games?”

    “Coincidence, I assure you. There aren’t enough precautions I can take with you, and this place doesn’t have a proper dungeon that I can hold you in, so we had to make do with placing you there,” DarkKnightmon explained.

    The Royal Knight turned his head and looked around the great hall. “…This is the Lupolford town hall. The great hall, to be exact. Aren’t you afraid somebody could walk in and see me?” he noted, recognizing some of the familiar features. “What happened to Wolfmon, the mayor we appointed after Anubismon was deleted?”

    “Don’t worry. We’ve made it clear that nobody is to enter without Dorbickmon’s expressed permission. As for Wolfmon… Dorbickmon scared him into silence. We allow Wolfmon continue with his usual duties and he keeps us secret while we control the town hall,” DarkKnightmon explained. “Did I not tell you all that the Free Area was a flawed concept? That something like this might happen?”

    “You have a very unique way of proving your point, DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon calmly stated. He narrowed his blue eyes as he looked up at the knight standing over him. “I’ll ask you once more. What do you plan to do with me?”

    “Just be patient, Omegamon. You aren’t going anywhere,” DarkKnightmon told him, walking past him and heading towards the doors at the back of the hall. “If you’re hungry or need to use the facilities, just tell whoever’s watching you and we can come to some arrangement.”

    Omegamon sneered behind his helmet and, again, tried to fight against his bonds. After a few minutes of struggling, he began to stop. It didn’t look like he would be able to break free. He closed his eyes and sighed with distress and frustration. He hoped that Alphamon had managed to follow them here… unless it was DarkKnightmon’s plan to use him as bait. It seemed like it was possible, since he was displayed in the center of such a large area that was conducive for a fight. Omegamon prepared for that possibility. He would much rather be able to find a way to escape on his own, without risking the other Royal Knights, but so far, he was at a loss for ideas.

    Meanwhile, Dorbickmon and MirageGaogamon stood in the shadows, near the back end of the great hall. They observed the captive Royal Knight from afar.

    Dorbickmon had bandages over his bruised and slightly frostbitten body. He turned to MirageGaogamon. “I don’t get it. Why did DarkKnightmon bandage up that guy’s wounds too? The weaker he is, the better.”

    “Even if Sir Omegamon was at full strength, he still wouldn’t be able to break free from those chains,” MirageGaogamon defended. “Besides, he and Sir DarkKnightmon have a history.”

    “Yeah, I know. DarkKnightmon was a Royal Knight,” the crimson dragon flippantly said. “He’s not now though. Now, they’re enemies.”

    MirageGaogamon leered at Dorbickmon out of the corners of his eyes, silently judging him. “It is called loyalty…”

    “Tch,” Dorbickmon scoffed with a dismissive wave of his clawed hand. He looked in the opposite direction from MirageGaogamon with a grim expression. “Loyalty…”

    Mercenaries…” MirageGaogamon thought to himself with a disdainful shake of his head. “Anyways…” the lupine crusader began, his keen, yellow eyes drifting back to the chained Omegamon. “Do you happen to know what Sir DarkKnightmon’s plans are for him?”

    “Me?” Dorbickmon responded incredulously, turning to look at him. “I thought you’d know! You and him are supposed to be all close from your time together with the bucketheads, aren’t you?”

    MirageGaogamon bristled. “Yes, well… you were the one who helped him escape, so I assumed you were more in the picture than I was…” he answered, defensively folding his arms. “So, you don’t know either?”

    “Not a clue,” Dorbickmon admitted, turning his eyes towards Omegamon. “What do you think he’s here for? Bait? Interrogation? Trying to win him over? Something else I’m missing?”

    “I’m unsure,” MirageGaogamon responded, frowning. “DarkKnightmon tends to keep his thoughts secret unless he has reason to tell them. We were put in a compromising situation by being careless with information in the past.”

    “Think he doesn’t trust us?” Dorbickmon asked, folding his arms.

    MirageGaogamon glanced over at the dragon shortly. “That’s not it. There was a saying among the Royal Knights’ forces… ‘Loose babble loses battles.’ It’s just a case of being careful, especially in the early stages of our plans.”

    “If you say so…” Dorbickmon said with a shrug, sounding somewhat unconvinced. His yellow and violet eyes darted over to Omegamon. “It’s risky having the great, white knight in shining armour around, even if he is under lock and key.”

    “I’m sure Sir DarkKnightmon knows what he’s doing.” MirageGaogamon began to walk away from the dragon, towards the door at the back left corner of the great hall. “It’s your watch, by the way.”

    Dorbickmon shrugged and sat down against the wall, leaning against it and giving his sore legs a rest. He narrowed his eyes carefully at Omegamon, looking him over. “I wonder how much he’d tell me about Examon… I wonder how much he actually knows, for that matter… I doubt Examon would be a Royal Knight right now if he knew that he tried to kill his best friend. Hm… Now there’s a thought…

    -

    It was now the early evening. The sun was half-set along the horizon and its rich, orange rays still reached out across the landscape. The sky began to darken into a deep, blue hue and stars became visible in the distance.

    Things began to quiet in the Royal Knights’ castle. Many Digimon of the Order finished their duties for the day, so they had the chance to relax. However, not all Digimon could relax. The news of Omegamon’s capture spread through the ranks quickly. It was an unsettling thing to hear, that one of the strongest Royal Knights and the second-in-command had been captured by a mysterious Digimon.

    One of these unsettled Digimon was Alphamon. He resided in his room after being treated by Duskmon. He had been told by the physician to get some bed rest so that his wounds could heal. Alphamon, however, sat at his desk instead. His form was bandaged and his wing was in a splint. In front of him were papers and scrolls, strewn about his desk as he went through the Royal Knights’ databases on his personal computer. He was trying to figure out the possible locations where DarkKnightmon could have taken Omegamon.

    He took a drink of water and continued scanning through the database vigilantly. At first, Alphamon didn’t notice the sound of his door handle turning.

    Alphamon’s door opened and a tall figure emerged in the doorway, peering in uncertainly. A set of purple eyes observed him through the widening gap. The door opened fully and Alphamon saw, out of the corners of his eyes, a familiar dragon enter his room. While he didn’t turn to address him, his gaze began to harden a bit.

    OuRyuumon walked into the room apprehensively. “Shouldn’t you be resting?” he suggested, looking over Alphamon’s bandaged form.

    “In a bit,” Alphamon curtly answered, his eyes still scanning across the computer screen. “I’m very busy right now.”

    “...I heard what happened. With you and Omegamon. I was worried when I heard you were hurt,” OuRyuumon told him, taking a few steps closer to Alphamon. “So… you okay?”

    “I’m fine,” Alphamon told him, finally glancing over at the dragon Digimon. “If that’s all, can you please leave?”

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but cringe. “Leave?” he asked. “I came to see how you were, damn it! I know you’re mad at me, but you don’t have to be so damn callous!”

    Alphamon gritted his teeth and shifted his chair to look at OuRyuumon more fully. “I’m mad at you for a good reason, remember,” he answered, trying not to raise his voice in anger. He raised his hand to rub his eyes and sighed. “I don’t need this right now, OuRyuumon. I’m very busy trying to coordinate Omegamon’s rescue effort. If you’re just here about our relationship, please come back another time.”

    “You say like our relationship doesn’t matter at all…” OuRyuumon spoke, suddenly giving a toothy sneer. “Just tell me this!” he demanded. Suddenly, OuRyuumon felt very ill-at-ease. “…Are things over between us?”

    Alphamon released a growl of annoyance and glared at OuRyuumon. “You do know that Omegamon, a Royal Knight and one of our friends, has been captured by DarkKnightmon, don’t you?” Before OuRyuumon could reply, Alphamon spoke up again, cutting him off. “He’s been taken prisoner and that’s all you can think about?!”

    OuRyuumon snarled and he suddenly retaliated with a dark glare of his own. “You’re not the only one worried about him, you know! It just so happens that there are other things I care about too! You know, like you and me, which is more than I can say about what you care about!” the gold dragon snapped back fierily, balling his clawed fists up. “With you, it’s been ‘Omegamon this’ and ‘Omegamon that’ for the past month!”

    Alphamon narrowed his eyes hard at OuRyuumon. “Of course I’ve been talking about Omegamon. I’ve been trying to mend my friendship with him and now he’s been taken by DarkKnightmon.”

    “Yeah?! And what about our relationship?!” OuRyuumon demanded. “I didn’t mind when you were stressed out and snapping at me, but that’s all you did. I’m sick of you always passing me over!”

    “Passing you over?” Alphamon asked, his voice stern and rigid.

    “Yeah! Like now. And like for the position of Royal Knight! I’ve been with the Royal Knights from the start and you never even considered making me one of you! You inducted Examon before me!” OuRyuumon passionately told him. He clenched his teeth. “You never even think about me!”

    “I’m the leader of the Royal Knights, OuRyuumon, I’m not here to make you feel good about yourself,” Alphamon responded severely. He turned his head away from the dragon. “I’m not even sure why I’m with somebody who’s so selfish…”

    “Selfish?!” OuRyuumon snapped, his blood boiling at Alphamon calling him that. “You’re calling me selfish after all that I do for you?!”

    Alphamon growled and began to stand to his feet, but stopped when he felt pain shooting through his form. “Rgh… Oh, you mean like when you tried to murder DarkKnightmon for me, you mean…” he sarcastically replied, leering coldly at OuRyuumon.

    “Yeah! Exactly like that!” OuRyuumon urged. “I did that for you! To protect you!”

    Alphamon’s gaze hardened with fury. “If you think that I want that kind of protection…” he trailed off and turned back towards his computer. “You’re twisted, OuRyuumon.” He paused and considered his next words for a few moments. “…I want you to leave.”

    OuRyuumon scowled and swiped out his arm into the air. “Fine!” he shot back. “I’ll be in my room when you want to apologize!”

    “No, OuRyuumon…” Alphamon spoke, the anger from his voice gone. His words were suddenly heavy and there was a very subtle wince on his face. “I meant I want you to leave the Order…”

    After a few seconds of taking in Alphamon’s words, OuRyuumon’s eyes slowly widened with disbelief. His previously animated arms fell to his sides and he looked at Alphamon to make sure that he was serious. “Wh…What…?” he asked softly. It was as if all of the passion and frustration had been sucked out of his voice and replaced with total shock.

    Alphamon sighed and closed his eyes, leaning forwards on the desk in front of him. He couldn’t look OuRyuumon in the face. “…Go back to our home city, OuRyuumon. Go back to New Terminal.”

    “W-Wait a sec, Alphamon…” OuRyuumon begged, taking a step forwards, the pain clear in his face and his voice. “You’re not serious… Please…”

    Alphamon grimaced and clenched his fists underneath his desk. “Go, OuRyuumon… It’s over between us. And… you’re not Royal Knight material… I’ll reassign somebody to take over as the Captain of the Strike Forces.”

    OuRyuumon stared at Alphamon silently. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He felt an unbearable, stabbing pain in his heart, which seemed to pump at twice its normal speed. A hurt, heartbroken expression formed on OuRyuumon’s face, but he allowed it to be visible only for a second before covering it up with his anger. “FINE!” he shouted furiously. “But don’t you dare say that it’s because of what I did to DarkKnightmon!”

    Alphamon opened his eyes and slowly turned to look up at the tall, heartbroken dragon. “…What?”

    “That’s just a convenient excuse and you know it!” OuRyuumon exclaimed, half-sneering and half-grimacing. “You’re only breaking up with me because you want to pretend that you’re straight! You want to only like women for the sake of appearances!”

    Alphamon felt a blow to his pained heart as well. “What?!” he demanded. “That isn’t--“

    “THEN WHAT IS!?” OuRyuumon snapped. He snarled and folded his arms. “Oh, I know! Maybe it was Omegamon who you wanted all along, given how much you go on about him!”

    Alphamon growled and stood to his feet angrily. “OuRyuumon!”

    OuRyuumon levelled his furious eyes with Alphamon’s, revealing them to be cloudy and moist. “Do you think it’s been easy having a bisexual boyfriend?! Not only having to worry about you liking other men, but other women as well?! It doesn’t help that loads of them want you, since you’re the leader of the Royal Knights.”

    Alphamon grimaced. “Well, you don’t have to be insecure about us anymore…”

    OuRyuumon growled and turned away. “Good! I’m glad I don’t! You were always boring anyways!”

    Alphamon chose not to respond and a tense silence grew between them.

    “I’ll go pack my damn things then,” OuRyuumon spoke up, grimacing and not looking at Alphamon at all.

    “Okay… Have a safe journey,” Alphamon told him, looking down. “Tell your parents I—“

    “Get ****ed,” OuRyuumon interrupted brusquely. He stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

    Alphamon sighed and sat back down in his chair, slumping forward and staring at the ground with a pained grimace.

    OuRyuumon marched down the corridor and disappeared into the second door on the right, his bedroom. He pulled the door closed with his tail and grabbed his belt from the floor, aggressively tightening it around his waist. He then pulled his Gairyu scimitars from the weapon rack and placed them inside the belt. Next, he took a large sack from underneath his bed and began angrily throwing his clothes and personal items into it. This excluded Alphamon’s things, gifts from Alphamon, and things that reminded him of Alphamon, all of which he tossed into a corner of the room.

    Once the cloth sack was full, OuRyuumon swung it over his shoulder. For a few moments, he stood there and glared at the wall in front of him furiously. OuRyuumon’s body started to glow with an intense, golden sheen and aura.

    “OUGAI!” he yelled, suddenly tearing forwards like a golden comet. OuRyuumon burst through the wall to the outside, completely destroying it with ease. Multiple shards of stone exploded outwards as OuRyuumon rammed through the wall before taking into the sky, soaring on his metal wings. Several guards whipped around with surprise, wondering why OuRyuumon suddenly destroyed the exterior wall of his room. However, none dared to try and stop the dragon. They could tell that he was furious about something.

    Dukemon, who had been walking down the corridor of the sleeping quarters wing, suddenly raced over to OuRyuumon’s room to see what had happened. When he opened the door, he was shocked to see a gaping hole in the wall to the outside. “What the hell…?”

    The crimson knight jogged over to Alphamon’s room and swung open the door. “Alphamon!” he exclaimed, running into his room. “Something-- Alphamon?” He stopped when he saw the state that Alphamon was in.

    Alphamon was hunched over his chair, rubbing his eyes with his hand to hide a pained grimace.

    Dukemon frowned, immediately realizing that something was wrong. With worry and concern for his friend, he walked over to Alphamon and crouched down in front of him, placing his hand on his knee. “Alphamon… What’s wrong? What’s going on?”

    Alphamon looked down at him with his distraught red eyes. “…I’ve dismissed OuRyuumon from the Order.”

    Dukemon gaped, his jaw nearly dropping. “You… what? Why…?”

    Alphamon grimaced and looked down at his lap. “Dukemon, I… Sit down… There’s something that I need to tell you. It’s about OuRyuumon… and about myself…”

    -

    OuRyuumon steamed through the air, the gold aura from his Ougai attack trailing behind him as it faded. He weaved around one of the watch towers and flew towards the open part of the castle grounds, where the training grounds and the target range were.

    “Stupid Alphamon… Stupid Order… Who the hell needs them…?” he snarled through a strained voice and tightly narrowed eyes.

    He was so immersed in rage and sorrow, that he didn’t realize that he was flying into the target range.

    “Pendragon’s Glory!” a voice shouted from overhead.

    An emerald beam plummeted to the ground from the sky, twenty meters in front of OuRyuumon. The beam annihilated a target in the center of the firing range for ranged attacks. OuRyuumon was unaffected by this. He didn’t care; he continued flying forwards recklessly, despite the danger of moving through the range unannounced.

    “Pendragon’s Glory!” Examon’s voice echoed from above once again. The beam pierced the air and hit another target, closer to OuRyuumon this time.

    OuRyuumon pressed on, tearing through the sky furiously.

    Examon took aim at another target. “Pendragon’s--!” His eyes widened when OuRyuumon finally passed into his field of vision, from his place fifty meters above the ground. His finger had already pulled the trigger of the Ambrosius. He grunted and desperately jerked the long lance in a different direction, making sure to only hit within the target range without hitting OuRyuumon. The lance fired and a green beam surged from its muzzle, striking down in the middle of the range, missing the targets, but luckily missing OuRyuumon by a few meters.

    Examon sighed with relief when he saw that OuRyuumon was unharmed. However, he felt a twinge of irritation at OuRyuumon for doing something so reckless and foolish. The Caledfwlch wings flapped strongly before veering forwards and bringing Examon into a steep dive. Examon shouldered his lance and let his wings carry him down to the gold dragon.

    OuRyuumon flew forwards stubbornly, nearly at the castle wall bordering the training grounds now. He clenched his fists and carried himself faster. Suddenly, something silver and red obstructed OuRyuumon’s path and vision, dropping down in front of him. OuRyuumon angled his body and wings and came to a stop before he could crash into the broad wing in front of him.

    He scowled. “Watch where you’re going, damn it!”

    Examon turned around in the air to face him, staring at him firmly. “You should watch where you’re going, Captain OuRyuumon,” he told him in annoyance. “You just flew through the middle of the target range while Digimon were still firing. I know that it’s sunset so the range is closing in several minutes, but you must have seen my atta--“

    “Shut up and get out of my way, you friggin’ pain in the ***!” OuRyuumon snapped at him, swiping his free arm out and pushing him out of the way.

    Examon looked at him with surprise. He noticed OuRyuumon’s face. His eyes were red and glossy and there seemed to be the trail of a tear of his cheek. “OuRyuumon…” he said, his tone softer than it was before. He observed the dragon with astonishment. “Are you… crying?”

    “Like hell I am! It’s just sweat, idiot!” OuRyuumon growled, although suddenly turning his face away from Examon.

    Examon frowned deeply when he noticed the full bag slung over OuRyuumon’s back. “Where are you going?” he asked him.

    “Where does it look like?” OuRyuumon asked bitterly. “Away. I’m leaving the Order.”

    “…Why?” Examon questioned.

    “None of your damn business!” OuRyuumon said. With that, he flew past Examon and began flying away.

    Examon furrowed his brow as he watched OuRyuumon fly away from him. He looked at him and then turned back towards the castle. He wondered if the other Royal Knights knew about this. He considered going to tell them, but he knew how rash OuRyuumon could be. He figured that he shouldn’t be left alone, even if OuRyuumon wouldn’t thank him for it. He should try to get his fellow dragon to reconsider or at least find out what happened.

    The Caledfwlch wings, in tandem with Examon’s intentions, flapped strongly. The crimson dragon made his way after OuRyuumon.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  20. #45
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    Dec 2006
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    Chapter 19: Omega

    The night wind whistled outside of the Lupolford town hall. It was the only sound Omegamon could hear aside from the flickering of the torches and the infrequent footsteps of the Digimon guarding him.

    He still kneeled in the middle of the great hall, bound down by the secure chains. He wasn’t sure how long he had been there by now, but he was sure that it felt longer than it actually was. The time seemed to drag on with nothing to do but kneel there and think and wait. Omegamon felt an intense, numb, tingling feeling in his legs and arms, likely due to the tight restraints and being forced to retain the same position for lengthy amounts of time, he figured.

    The sound of footsteps grew louder again. This time, they sounded like they were heading towards him.

    Omegamon slowly opened his blue eyes just in time to see the colour of crimson in his view. He looked up to see Dorbickmon smirking down at him with his hands on his hips.

    “How’s it going, oh white knight?” he asked him with an air of levity in his voice.

    Omegamon chose not to respond.

    “Oh, come on. You must be bored, kneeling there for hours on end,” Dorbickmon observed. “How’bout a chat?”

    “Are you trying to get information out of me?” Omegamon simply questioned, looking up at him. “You needn’t bother, because I’m not going to tell you anything.”

    “Hey, I’ve got no ulterior motives here,” Dorbickmon explained, folding his arms. “What you see is what you get with me.” He gave the knight a toothy, crooked smirk. “Trust me… if I wanted to interrogate you, you’d know about it. I just want to pass the time.”

    “All the same…” Omegamon replied. “I’m not in the mood for talking.”

    “I guess I don’t blame you, given your situation,” Dorbickmon conceded, looking down at him. “Okay. I’ll do the talking then.”

    Omegamon went quiet and listened. It wasn’t as if he could do anything to stop Dorbickmon.

    “You’re probably wondering who I am and why I’m out to get you and your companions, aren’t you?”

    Omegamon didn’t respond initially. Internally, he did admit that the question of who Dorbickmon was had crossed his mind. “Mercenary?” he asked.

    “No…” Dorbickmon answered. “I mean… yeah, that is my job, but DarkKnightmon didn’t hire me. I’m not just doing this for a fancy payout.” He grinned. “I guess, in a way, I hired him.”

    “He’s working for you?” Omegamon questioned with some surprise. This Dorbickmon seemed open to casual banter. Omegamon figured that, even though he was the prisoner, he could try to get some information out of him instead.

    “No, he’s doing his own thing. I’m just along for the ride because our goals kind of coincide,” Dorbickmon freely told him. He smirked a bit wider. “That was why I freed him from the Dark Area to begin with.”

    Omegamon’s eyes widened. “You…? But how?”

    “It wasn’t easy… It was so draining that it nearly killed me, to be honest,” Dorbickmon explained. “Dragon veins… Leylines, if you prefer. They’re these streams of raw power that flow through the earth of the Digital World that only a few Digimon can access. I used them to disrupt the security barrier of the Dark Area.”

    “Why?” Omegamon asked.

    Dorbickmon grinned broadly. He was finally at the part that he had been waiting for. “Because I don’t approve of your latest appointment to the Order. ‘Examon’, is it? Or the ‘Dragon Emperor’, maybe?”

    Omegamon frowned. “Examon…?”

    “I’m guessing he hasn’t told you about his past… You really ought to look into the histories of your members more. It wouldn’t sound very good if everybody knew that one of the Royal Knights was a murderer.”

    “…A murderer?” Omegamon spoke, looking up at him in surprise. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

    “Well… attempted murderer,” Dorbickmon replied, his grin disappearing completely and his facial features darkening. “I survived thanks to the town doctor.”

    Omegamon frowned deeply. “What are you talking about?”

    “Examon and I used to be the best of friends. He was a Coredramon and I was a Strikedramon. One day, we were playing around and he suddenly flipped out and tried to kill me… Nearly blasted me right through,” Dorbickmon explained with notes of a snarl in his voice. “The worst part was that he left me for dead. Didn’t even go to get help.”

    “I can’t believe that,” Omegamon told him. “Examon wouldn’t do something like that. Alphamon looks into potential Royal Knights very thoroughly.”

    Dorbickmon growled, leaning over the captive Royal Knight. “Think I’m lying? I’ve still got the scars to prove it.”

    Omegamon frowned. “They could be from anywhere. You’re a battle-hardened mercenary.”

    A hiss escaped Dorbickmon’s mouth. He leaned down and grabbed Omegamon’s chin roughly, forcing him to look up at him. “Well, they’re not. I guess you probably don’t want to believe that one of your fellow Royal Knights is a cold, callous killer. You don’t have believe me; I know the truth.”

    “I can take over from here, Dorbickmon,” a voice echoed down the hall.

    “Tch.” Dorbickmon let go of Omegamon and stood up straight, looking over. “DarkKnightmon?” he asked, folding his arms indignantly. “Didn’t know you were back.”

    “Can I have a word with Omegamon in private?” DarkKnightmon asked, walking down the great hall towards the two.

    “Go ahead,” Dorbickmon answered with a nonchalant shrug. “Mind if I go to the tavern?”

    “Please yourself. Just don’t run your mouth like you have been doing to Omegamon,” the dark knight advised him.

    Dorbickmon smirked. “I only said all that because I knew he wouldn’t be escaping anytime soon.”

    DarkKnightmon looked at the red dragon man carefully. “All the same… Loose babble loses battles.”

    Dorbickmon rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Okay… I heard that one already…” With that, Dorbickmon sauntered down the great hall in the other direction, towards the front entrance of the town hall. He disappeared into another room and, soon, the sound of two large doors opening and closing could be heard, followed by the sound of them locking.

    “Omegamon…” DarkKnightmon greeted.

    Omegamon glanced over as the black knight passed by him. “DarkKnightmon…” he muttered in reply.

    “How are you feeling?” DarkKnightmon asked, in what sounded like a genuinely concerned tone.

    “My legs are asleep… as are my hands. And my upper body is incredibly stiff,” Omegamon answered him plainly. He looked up at DarkKnightmon with hard, blue eyes. “I’m getting frustrated with whatever game you’re playing.”

    “I don’t play games, Omegamon,” DarkKnightmon assured him, returning the stare. “Not with what’s at stake.”

    “Then what are your plans for me?” Omegamon asked, narrowing his eyes. “If you think that the Royal Knights are stupid enough to fall into whatever trap you’re laying, you’re underestimating them.”

    “You have the wrong idea…” DarkKnightmon explained. He crouched down in front of Omegamon so that they were at eye level with one another. Despite Omegamon’s situation, he wanted to talk to him as if they were equals. “I want you to hear my side.”

    “You mean how the Royal Knights are too soft and ineffectual,” Omegamon concluded. “I heard that opinion nearly a decade ago. The difference is, you have been in the Dark Area since then, so you can’t actually say if our Order is ineffectual or not. We have lasted this long and the continent is still intact, so we must be doing something correctly.”

    “The previous mayor of Lupolford, Anubismon, raised an army of mercenaries and attacked the Dramon to the west, didn’t he?”

    “We became aware of his activities and stopped him before any real damage was done,” Omegamon countered.

    “If you all had listened to me, he never would have considered the idea in the first place,” DarkKnightmon argued.

    “I understand your point, DarkKnightmon, but the way you want to execute it isn’t right. We can’t intimidate Digimon into submission to our laws.”

    “It isn’t about intimidation; it’s about stringent order and rules, the ardent enforcement and subservience to our right and just laws. That’s the only way that order and justice will prosper,” DarkKnightmon urged him.

    “If you want a society like that, go to the Metal Empire,” Omegamon replied. “Besides, I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy here. You talk about Anubismon hiring mercenaries when you’re doing the exact same thing.”

    “Yes, well… necessity compels,” DarkKnightmon responded. He sighed and looked at Omegamon with a soft gaze. “I’ll tell you why you’re here right now, Omegamon… I’m asking you for a second time, from one friend to another… Join me.”

    Omegamon looked at him incredulously. “Join you…?” he asked. “You can’t be serious. You must think that I have no honour at all if you think I would turn against the Royal Knights.”

    “I’m not asking you to fight them, Omegamon. I want you to convince them that what I’m saying is right,” DarkKnightmon explained to him.

    I’m not convinced that what you’re saying is right,” Omegamon retorted, frowning.

    “But you at least conceded that I have a point,” DarkKnightmon pointed out. “Is what I’m suggesting really so outrageous?”

    “You can’t restrict a Digimon’s freedom for the sake of maintaining order,” Omegamon told him. He looked down at the chains around his body. “As someone whose freedom is being restricted, I know what it feels like, and it breeds resentment.”

    DarkKnightmon looked at Omegamon with a steely gaze and stood to his feet. “So… that’s a no, I take it?”

    “It’s a no,” Omegamon answered.

    DarkKnightmon’s cold eyes observed Omegamon quietly. “…At least think it over,” DarkKnightmon told him. “I’ll give you a day to consider it and then I’ll ask you once more. The answer you give will determine how you and I will proceed from now on.”

    The white knight looked up at DarkKnightmon with a standoffish leer, one of his eyes concealed by the shadows cast on his face by the torches. “Is that a veiled threat, DarkKnightmon?”

    “No. It’s a fact, Omegamon,” he answered rigidly. He began to walk past the bound Royal Knight. As he did, he placed his hand on Omegamon’s shoulder. “I hope you make the right decision,” he said, his hand sliding off his shoulder as he walked by Omegamon, towards the back of the great hall.

    Omegamon frowned and thought to himself. He considered each of his limited options. He went over the pros and cons of each choice, and what DarkKnightmon’s thought process might be regarding the proposal he made.

    He had a choice to make and he needed to make sure it was the one that was best for both the Order and himself. Or, if it wasn’t possible for both, then the one that he valued more.

    -

    OuRyuumon and Examon flew north in the night, soaring through another territory of the Free Area. The dark sky made it hard to see, so they had to rely on their keen eyes and instincts. Most of the moonlight was blocked by the clouds, lighting them up dimly.

    Examon followed behind OuRyuumon, who he could tell was still bristling at his presence. “It’s dark, OuRyuumon. At least find an inn to stay at for the night.”

    “For the last time, Exadork, stop following me,” OuRyuumon growled, not even looking over his shoulder.

    “Not until I figure out what’s going on and where you’re going,” Examon stubbornly replied, flying after him. “Alphamon would be angry if I just let you go without saying anything.”

    “Tch. He wouldn’t care,” OuRyuumon muttered to himself.

    “What?” Examon asked, not quite hearing that.

    “I said ‘bug off’. Go home already,” the surly, gold dragon responded, looking behind him.

    “It sounded like you said something completely different,” Examon pointed out.

    OuRyuumon growled and rubbed his face with frustration. “Look, I’m leaving the Order, okay?! Don’t try to stop me. It’s pointless.”

    “Why are you leaving the Order?” the other dragon Digimon pressed, wanting a real answer out of OuRyuumon.

    “If I tell you, will you leave me alone?” OuRyuumon asked, stopping his flight and turning to face Examon.

    “I suppose,” Examon responded, although he wasn’t actually sure if he would do that, depending on OuRyuumon’s answer.

    “Okay… I’m leaving because I can’t stand you,” OuRyuumon replied, sneering at Examon. “Now go home.”

    Examon sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, looking at OuRyuumon blandly. “I find that hard to believe, even if I know that you don’t like me,” he answered calmly.

    “Rrgh. Cripes, go home, Examon… I don’t know why you even care what I do. We’re not exactly close,” OuRyuumon retaliated tiredly.

    “I know, but I took an oath. Royal Knights look out for one another,” Examon explained, folding his arms.

    OuRyuumon scoffed and turned away, hiding his grimace from Examon. “I’m not a Royal Knight. I never have been.”

    “No, but you’re still an important part of the Order,” the crimson dragon replied. “The oath doesn’t stop with other Royal Knights.”

    “Alphamon sure doesn’t think I am,” OuRyuumon muttered grimly.

    “Alphamon?” Examon asked, arching an eyebrow.

    OuRyuumon sighed and turned his back to Examon. “Look, there’s a town up ahead. Wayside. We can stay there for the night and then you can head back to the castle in the morning,” he told the Royal Knight.

    “Fine…” Examon conceded. He knew that he couldn’t keep following OuRyuumon forever, especially if this was a case of him being as stubborn as a Bullmon, so Examon figured that he could at least try to get to the bottom of what was going on before morning. He also hoped that OuRyuumon would calm down a bit once they were inside the inn and maybe had something to drink. Examon would make sure that OuRyuumon would only drink in moderation, of course. He thought to himself. “Do you think there will be enough room for the both of us?”

    OuRyuumon glimpsed over his shoulder. “Whad’you mean?” he asked, arching his eyebrow.

    “In the room,” Examon answered.

    “What?! I’m not sharing a room with you!” OuRyuumon exclaimed, his eyes widening. He quickly turned forwards as his face heated up.

    “I didn’t bring any money with me,” Examon sheepishly replied, shrugging. “I don’t want to make you waste your bits on a second room for me.”

    OuRyuumon grimaced. He left in such haste that he hadn’t thought about taking his share from the Royal Knights’ vault before leaving, so he only had the petty cash that he had taken from his room. He might be forced to share the room with Examon to save money. “You’ve gotta be kidding! We can’t share the same room!” he stammered. “The innkeeper might get the wrong idea!”

    “…What wrong idea?” Examon questioned, oblivious to what he was talking about.

    OuRyuumon flushed harder and sneered. “That we’re sleeping together or something!” he yelled at him.

    “We are sleeping together. In the same room,” Examon replied matter-of-factly, still not picking up on OuRyuumon’s issue.

    “They might think we’re gay, idiot!” OuRyuumon shouted, glaring over his shoulder at Examon for making him spell it out.

    Examon frowned. “But… we’re not. It isn’t strange if two Royal Knights share the same room. Besides, I’m sure they have double rooms.”

    OuRyuumon palmed his face and growled. “You’ve gotta be fu- Fine! Whatever. You do the explaining then.”

    “I can’t say I understand the way your mind works sometimes, OuRyuumon,” Examon told him, grinning a bit.

    “I don’t think you understand anything…” OuRyuumon muttered, flying ahead a bit faster. He began a slow descend towards the collection of dim lights far in front of them and Examon followed after him to the town.

    -

    Dukemon walked out onto one of the castle balconies and let out an exhausted sigh. He brushed his hand through his white hair as it moved down to rub the back of his head. It was dark out now. The moons and stars speckled the dark sky as Dukemon approached the stone railing and leaned against the thick slab of rock.

    He looked out across the castle grounds. Several guards were walking to and from one side of the main building to gawp at the massive hole in the wall that OuRyuumon created. There was no doubt that gossip and rumours were already spreading about what had happened. However, of the Digimon there, only Dukemon knew the truth.

    A flash of crimson caught Dukemon’s attention. He turned his head and saw a familiar digital life form flying towards him. Zero ARMS: Grani soared over and stopped in front of the balcony, the moonlight glinting off of his metal back as he hovered.

    “Dukemon, there you are,” Grani said with a veiled sense of urgency in his composed voice. “What happened? There’s a massive hole in OuRyuumon’s wall.”

    “Yeah…” Dukemon said with a heavy breath. “I’m not sure how much I can tell you, but you’re going to find this much out anyways. OuRyuumon’s no longer a member of the Order…”

    Grani stared at him with disbelief as the words sunk in. “…What?” he whispered. “But he’s the Captain of the Strike Forces… He’s been around since the Order was formed. …What happened?”

    Dukemon frowned and looked down, over the edge of the balcony. “I’m not at liberty to say…”

    Grani frowned. “You can’t just say something like that and clam up,” the Zero ARMS told him. “His subordinates will want to know. The other Royal Knights will want to know.”

    “Look, I don’t know what I’m allowed to say,” Dukemon countered shortly, raising his hand and rubbing his face irritably. “Alphamon’s exhausted after today and so am I. We haven’t sorted out what’s best yet…”

    “There’s something going on and I’d like to know what…” the giant bird-dragon told his friend, flying over and perching on the railing beside Dukemon. “I can tell you’re upset over something.”

    “I told Alphamon I wouldn’t tell anybody. Not yet,” the crimson knight sighed. “He told me a lot of things. He really needs to be able to trust me right now.”

    “This is me you’re talking to, Dukemon…” Grani reassured him. “We’ve been friends for years. You know that I’ll be the soul of discretion.”

    “Damn it, Grani, I can’t,” he said with deeply furrowed brows. “I promised.”

    “You want to, though. It’s bad for you, Dukemon, when you don’t get things off of your chest,” the red dragon told him. “You know you can trust me with a secret.”

    Dukemon sighed and glanced up at the large, crimson raptor. “…You sure you can keep a secret?” he asked, a bit of Dukemon’s usual levity beginning to shine through again.

    “If I breathe so much as a word, you can tell my whole reconnaissance squadron – no, the whole Order - about the time I landed in that bog and needed you to rescue me,” Grani told him with a wry grin. However, his tone soon became the typical, serious yet calm voice that Gran was known for. “I just don’t want you feeling like there is nobody you can turn to for advice.”

    Dukemon chuckled. “I appreciate it, but I am a big boy, you know,” he replied with a tiny smile. “I know I’ve got problems with the Hazard, but you don’t need to coddle me.”

    “Believe me, I’m not trying to,” Grani assured him. “I know you’re more than capable of handling your own problems, but there’s nobody in this world that’s above needing a friendly word of advice now and then. At the very least, it can’t hurt to get a different perspective on whatever the problem is.”

    “Yeah, I guess so…” Dukemon conceded. He flashed Grani a look out of the corners of his eyes. “But if you do tell anybody, I really will tell everybody that story.” He laughed at the memory. “’Zero arms’, indeed.”

    Zero ARMS: Grani flushed and tilted his body to nudge Dukemon with his wing. “Yes, yes. Hilarious. So, what happened?”

    “Well…” Dukemon began, closing his eyes. “Short answer: Alphamon and OuRyuumon had a massive argument.”

    “I see…” Grani spoke, inspecting Dukemon carefully. “What about the long answer?”

    Dukemon looked around to make sure that nobody would hear except for Grani.

    “Well… Remember the night that DarkKnightmon turned on us?” he began, glancing up at the metal dragon.

    “It’s hard to forget, going in and seeing the state of the castle, not to mention all of you,” he answered.

    “You know how DarkKnightmon apparently fell off one of the towers that night?” Dukemon asked. “Well, Alphamon said that OuRyuumon pushed him. DarkKnightmon told him yesterday when they met in the Claw Desert.”

    “Surely DarkKnightmon was lying to spread distrust among the ranks,” Grani reasoned logically.

    “That’s what I said to Alphamon...” Dukemon said, pausing. “Except OuRyuumon admitted it. Thinking back on that night, it makes sense too… I still can’t believe it though.”

    “I see…” Grani responded, frowning. “That… I’m not really sure what to say, actually…”

    “I dunno either…” Dukemon said, sighing. “I’m still wrapping my head around it… I mean, I can see OuRyuumon’s point of view. I wanted to give DarkKnightmon a good beating that day too. But still… that’s going way too far.”

    “And that’s what Alphamon and OuRyuumon had a huge argument about?” the Zero ARMS questioned.

    “Sort of… It’s a big reason, but it’s not the whole reason…” Dukemon said. He turned to Grani. “You might want to sit down. This is going to be a big shock too.”

    Grani looked at him blankly as he perched on the railing. “I’m sitting to the best of my ability.”

    “Alphamon’s bisexual,” the crimson knight told him bluntly.

    “Bisexual…” Grani repeated. He frowned. “And that means…?”

    “He likes both males and females from a physical and romantic perspective,” Dukemon explained.

    “I see… And… that’s a big deal? As a Zero ARMS, I only have a gender from an aesthetic and mental standpoint, not a biological one, so I’m not very good with these matters, as you well know,” Grani sheepishly said.

    “Well… yes and no…” Dukemon replied, scratching his head, with an expression that made him look like he was at odds with himself. “I mean, it’s not a big deal that he’s interested in both genders; Rhodo’s gay and I’m cool with that. It’s just a shock that I’m just finding out after all these years.” He sighed. “I know not all of the Royal Knights will be thrilled about it if he ever tells them, though.”

    “Do you begrudge him for not telling you?” Grani asked.

    “No… I understand why,” Dukemon answered. “He explained to me. To be honest, I don’t even really see him that differently. He’s still the same guy.”

    “I’m glad about that,” Grani told him. “But where does that come into the argument?”

    “He was in a relationship with OuRyuumon, who’s gay,” Dukemon said with an ironic chuckle.

    Grani blinked with disbelief. “They… were? But… that’s like you and I being in a romantic relationship,” the Zero ARMS remarked.

    “Hey, now. Don’t get any ideas,” Dukemon teased his friend.

    “Ignoring that…” Grani glanced over at him. “The most shocking thing is that OuRyuumon was able to keep a secret so well.”

    Dukemon chuckled a bit. “For you, maybe… But yeah… You can see why I’m a little out of it right now. It was a huge shock; I’m still coming to terms with everything. And there’s still more to what happened… I haven’t even gotten to Omegamon yet.”

    “Then perhaps we should go in to your room,” Grani suggested, turning around on the railing to face the door. “It’s more private there. And we can talk over some herbal tea.”

    “Yeah, okay…” Dukemon agreed, turning around and heading inside.

    Grani gave Dukemon a sympathetic look and flew around to meet Dukemon at the balcony of his room.

    -

    The morning rolled around across the Free Area. The dew laced along the countless blades of grass sparkled in the morning sun, whose light began to warm a small town after a somewhat crisp night. In the inn, OuRyuumon began to wake up after a tumultuous sleep.

    OuRyuumon gave a soft snarl as he woke up, slowly and groggily. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers and stirred in the bed.

    He was situated in a relatively small double room. The gold dragon got what he paid for in the room, which wasn’t a whole lot. He had tried to minimize the price since he didn’t have a whole lot of money with him, and he needed to make it last until he arrived at New Terminal. He could smell the aromatic scent of tea and bread coming from the floor below, which was the tavern and dining area. Also, from that level, he could hear the muffled chatter of other guests talking over breakfast.

    It was about the size of his room back at the Royal Knights’ headquarters, which would have been fine, except there was a second bed thrown in nearby, which took up a lot of the actual space. Residing in that second bed was Examon, who slept in a bed about one meter adjacent from his. The beds were small for them. The dragon’s large wings and long tail stuck out awkwardly from under the covers, stretching over the sides of the bed. This caused the blanket on top of the bed to slip down to Examon’s waist, exposing the top half of the dragon’s body. OuRyuumon could barely fit his own serpentine body in the small bed, having had to arch his back to fit.

    OuRyuumon turned his head and looked over at Examon, inspecting the Royal Knight. “I can’t believe he’s still here… stubborn bastard…” he thought to himself. “Can’t he see that I didn’t leave by choice?

    The gold dragon sighed and continued looking at Alphamon. “I’m gonna have to tell him something though… Surprised that he’s going to all this trouble for me even though I made it clear that I didn’t like him…” OuRyuumon mused.

    His violet eyes lingered on Examon, shifting from the red dragon’s face down to his exposed chest. OuRyuumon began to appreciate the dragon’s athletic chest muscles, his gaze going over the contours of his pectoral and abdominal muscles before eyeing his arms as well. He liked the sheen of his red and white scales as the sunlight from the window spread across Examon’s wings and chest.

    He sure is hot though… OuRyuumon thought to himself with a soft sigh through his nostrils as he enjoyed the scene before him.

    However, the dragon soon grimaced and turned his head in the exact opposite direction, sneering with frustration and embarrassment. “Don’t be an idiot, OuRyuumon! You’re on the rebound from Alphamon and you know it. Don’t do anything stupid with a straight guy who you’re trying to get to stop following you, damn it.

    Examon let out a soft groan as he began to wake up. He opened his eyes and squinted at the sunlight entering them. “Rrr…” he mumbled tiredly, yawning and sitting up in his bed. He turned to look over at OuRyuumon. “OuRyuumon…? Are you awake?” he asked him.

    OuRyuumon paused for a moment to consider his answer. “…Yeah,” he decided to reply, turning his head and looking up at the ceiling. The former-Captain pulled the bed covers down and slid out of bed, standing to his feet and stretching.

    Examon pulled his sheets down too. He turned and slung his legs over the side of the bed, preparing to stand up next to OuRyuumon. When OuRyuumon turned around, he saw that Examon was sitting right behind him. His eyes immediately gazed down at Examon’s waist and his spread legs, shamelessly checking his scaled torso out.

    D-Damnit!” OuRyuumon thought to himself, immediately turning away and flushing at the dirty thoughts entering his mind. “Don’t even think about it!

    Examon stood up behind OuRyuumon and looked at him. “Feeling any better this morning?” he asked him.

    “Fine!” OuRyuumon exclaimed swiftly, not turning around and trying to ignore the proximity of the draconic Royal Knight. “Just… get your armour on already!”

    “Can I at least polish my lance first?” Examon questioned, folding his arms.

    OuRyuumon’s eyes widened and his face heated up greatly. “N-No! What d’you want to do that for?!”

    Examon shrugged and looked over at the Ambrosius lance propped up against the wall. “I was planning to yesterday, but I guess it’s not vital to do right now…” he supposed, walking over to his armour, which was strewn across a chair.

    OuRyuumon sighed with relief and he began to relax again. He didn’t entirely trust himself at the moment, after everything that happened yesterday.

    Examon put on his armour over the front of his body so that the chrome digizoid covered from his abdomen up to his collar. He then turned back to OuRyuumon and folded his arms. “Have you reconsidered your idea?”

    The jagged rows of teeth inside of OuRyuumon’s mouth suddenly gnashed together. It looked like Examon wasn’t giving up. “You’re still on that, are you?” he asked, looking over at Examon with an irate sneer.

    “I want to stop you from making a mistake,” Examon told him calmly.

    OuRyuumon scoffed. “A mistake…” he muttered. “You don’t know the half of it.”

    “So tell me. I won’t judge,” the red dragon offered.

    “It’s… complicated,” OuRyuumon said dismissively, walking across the room and plopping his tailed backside down on Examon’s bed. “It’s no use, whatever you’re trying to do.”

    “At least hear me out, OuRyuumon,” Examon told him, walking over and sitting on OuRyuumon’s bed to face him.

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes. “I guess this is what it’ll take to get him off my back… Maybe it’d be easier to just tell him that Alphamon kicked me out… Alphamon’ll probably tell everybody anyways. …No, I don’t want to give him the satisfaction,” he thought to himself. He looked up at Examon. “I’m listening… Let’s hear it.”

    Examon nodded. “When I first joined the Royal Knights, I almost quit as well,” he admitted.

    OuRyuumon was genuinely surprised. “You did?” Internally, he thought to himself, “Why didn’t you? Maybe then I could have taken your spot.

    “I probably don’t have to tell you that I didn’t exactly fit in,” Examon told him with a slight grin. “Not only was I the new guy, but, well…” He gestured to his large, draconic body. “Let’s just say I faced a lot of opposition.”

    “From me, you mean,” OuRyuumon flatly replied, folding his arms.

    “You, Duftmon, Craniamon, UlforceVeedramon…” Examon answered. “I know you each had your different reasons. Anyways, I didn’t feel like staying there was worth the aggravation.”

    “What stopped you?”

    “Dukemon,” Examon replied. “He made me realize that being part of the Royal Knights was too good to throw away. It really is an honour being part of the Order, being able to impact the world more than I could just being on my own in the United Dramonic Coalition.”

    OuRyuumon winced a bit. “Great…” he muttered sarcastically.

    “What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t throw away something so important. You’ll end up regretting it,” Examon said.

    The gold dragon growled and rubbed the bridge of his draconic snout, his frustration getting the better of him. “You don’t get it… I threw it away years ago.”

    “I don’t understand…”

    “DarkKnightmon… I pushed him off that tower,” OuRyuumon explained ruefully, looking down at his lap.

    Examon was silent for a few moments. “…I see…” he replied, reserving his judgment as much as he could.

    “He was plotting to overthrow Alphamon, okay?!” OuRyuumon defensively said. “I know that’s not a great excuse, but I can’t change it now…” He sighed. “Anyways… he told Alphamon. Alphamon and I had a big argument and he told me to leave the Order. I didn’t want to leave, so there’s no point trying to convince me otherwise.”

    “…Oh…” Examon said, a bit unsure of what to say now.

    The dragon gave a hollow laugh. “Go on. Laugh. Chew me out. Do whatever. You’ve probably been waiting for a chance like this,” OuRyuumon told him, his head still bowed.

    “I’m not that petty,” Examon replied, frowning at OuRyuumon. “Besides, I’m in no position to say anything… I hurt a friend in the past too. What I did was probably as bad as what you did, if not worse.”

    “Huh…?” OuRyuumon asked, glancing up.

    “You were eliminating a dangerous threat who showed hostile intent. I lost control of my power, hurt my friend, and then skulked off like a coward,” Examon admitted with a pained expression.

    OuRyuumon observed Examon for a few moments. He then smiled ironically. “It might be hard to believe, but DarkKnightmon was my friend too… in a weird sort of way. We argued a hell of a lot and I felt threatened by him sometimes, but we looked out for each other in battle. Even I think you’re being too generous to me, Examon. I mean, I still feel justified in what I did, but I know that what I did wasn’t ‘right’. I still feel guilty when I think about it. What I did wasn’t all that much better from whatever you did.”

    OuRyuumon paused and thought to himself. “…Why the hell am I telling you all this?” he asked aloud.

    “You’ve been keeping it in for too long, I suppose,” Examon replied calmly. “There’s something cathartic about telling a secret that you’ve been holding in for longer than you can remember…”

    OuRyuumon’s brows furrowed. “But… Why you of all people? We’re not exactly friends. We’re not even alike!”

    Examon shrugged. “We’re both dragon Digimon.”

    “You’re from the UDC and I’m from New Terminal,” OuRyuumon countered. He sighed and rubbed his face. “I dunno… I feel like I know you better, I guess. I can understand how you feel out of place in the Order.”

    “Can you?” Examon asked. “You’ve been Alphamon’s best friend since before the Order was formed, haven’t you?”

    “And that’s all I ever amounted to: Alphamon’s best friend,” OuRyuumon answered with a scowl. “I was never good enough to be one of the Royal Knights. I have the skills, but I don’t have the… - I dunno – ‘inner fortitude’ or some ****. According to Alphamon, I’m too selfish, petty, violent, - oh - and I disgust him.” OuRyuumon glimpsed away grimly. “It wasn’t just being a dragon Digimon with me. I was never ‘one of the Knights’. Sure, I was Captain of the Strike Forces, but I still felt like I was just tagging along. At least you’re actually one of ‘em. And then there’s…” OuRyuumon trailed off. He already said more than he wanted to say. He wasn’t about to reveal that too.

    “I never knew you felt that way…” Examon said, looking at him sympathetically.

    “Why do you think I don’t like you?” OuRyuumon challenged. “The first pure dragon Royal Knight should have been me.”

    “I can understand why that angers you, but that’s hardly my fault,” Examon retorted.

    “I know that!” OuRyuumon snapped, leering at him. “But you’re still there. …Tch. Doesn’t matter now anyways. You’ll never have to see me again now,” he told the other dragon, standing to his feet and going to collect his belt and scimitars.

    Examon frowned and stood up as well. “OuRyuumon… Don’t.”

    OuRyuumon turned around. “You really are dense about everything except combat, aren’t you?” he told him. “Alphamon kicked me out. Even if I wanted to, going back there wouldn’t change anything.”

    “Except if Alphamon changed his mind,” Examon countered. “He’s a rational Digimon. He probably thinks differently now.”

    “Doubtful. Besides, there’s no way I’m crawling back there.”

    Examon frowned. “Don’t let your pride get in the way

    “Don’t let the door get in your way,” OuRyuumon told him, thumbing over to the door to their room.

    The crimson dragon knight narrowed his eyes. “Pig-headed… I’m trying to help you here.”

    “I didn’t ask for you to come after me,” OuRyuumon told him sharply. “If you joined the Royal Knights to atone for blowing your friend up or something, that’s your call, but don’t involve me.”

    Examon suddenly glared at him darkly. He clenched his teeth and balled up his claws, as if trying to keep himself from going for OuRyuumon. “…Fine. Leave. I don’t know why I bothered coming. You’re probably right about me. I let it blind me from seeing the truth,” Examon scathed. “Alphamon was right; you don’t deserve to be part of the Order. You’ve always been a destroyer… That’s not something the Royal Knights need.”

    OuRyuumon suddenly sneered and walked up to him, glaring into Examon’s eyes. “And what are you?! You just joined the Order to make yourself feel better!”

    “I joined the Order to create a better Digital World, like I did with the UDC,” Examon lowly replied, gritting his sharp teeth.

    “Hah! You try to act all humble, but you really are arrogant!” OuRyuumon exclaimed, the two glaring at each other. “You’ve gotta be arrogant to think that you can actually do that on your own! You really think that highly of yourself, don’t you?!”

    Examon growled. “It’s a hell of a lot better than what you do! Fighting for pleasure… It’s disgusting! Fighting without a purpose is just sadistic self-indulgence. It’s no better than what our enemies do.”

    “Get down from that ivory tower of yours! You think you’re better than everyone else… You probably thought that way ever since you became an Examon in the UDC. It must’ve felt pretty good to be a big fish in a little pond, huh? Well… what you’re trying to forget is that it’s in a dragon’s nature to fight! Okay, you had a bad experience because you couldn’t control your power.” OuRyuumon poked his clawed finger against Examon’s chest. “Now you’re all awkward and repressed because you’ve been trying to repress those instincts. You have that calm and collected voice and demeanour like ice wouldn’t melt, but I can see it in your eyes: you’re itching to punch me right now!”

    Examon sneered deeper into OuRyuumon’s eyes, clenching his fists a little bit tighter. “No…” he replied as calmly as possible. “I want you to leave.”

    “Liar,” OuRyuumon told him.

    Examon stifled a snarl. “…I’m not.”

    OuRyuumon looked at him for a few more seconds. “…Tch,” he scoffed, backing off and turning away, walking away from the dragon to collect his bag. “You don’t even have the balls to be honest about your feelings…”

    “You mean like you were with DarkKnightmon?” Examon challenged.

    OuRyuumon snarled and glared at Examon over his shoulder. “It wasn’t like…” He paused and shook his head, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “Whatever… When you get back, tell Alphamon that I want all of my bits delivered to my place in New Terminal. Later, Exadork. Don’t worry; I’ll still pay for the room.”

    With that, OuRyuumon gave an irritable flick of his tail and walked out of the room, heading down to the first level of the inn.

    Examon let out a pent up sigh and rubbed the back of his neck, walking over to get his Ambrosius lance from the wall. “Well, I tried…”

    -

    It was the afternoon in Lupolford.

    Omegamon remained in the same position he was in since when he had been first tied up. He hadn’t slept much during the night. He had only been able to nod off for a few hours at a time before waking with a jerk. Being chained to the ground in a kneeling position wasn’t exactly conducive to getting a good night’s sleep, especially since he couldn’t even lie down.

    He had done a lot of thinking since he last spoke to DarkKnightmon. He had thought about all of his alternatives. Omegamon had considered pretending to join DarkKnightmon, but Omegamon knew that DarkKnightmon wasn’t so naïve as to trust him completely; there would have been some sort of restraint placed on him to ensure that he wouldn’t simply escape or turn on DarkKnightmon as soon as he had been freed. Being on the introverted side, the white knight had little confidence in his acting abilities as well, and he was sure that DarkKnightmon would be able to suss out even a skilled liar. Those factors made him doubt that option.

    He also considered stalling for time by asking DarkKnightmon if he could think about it. He hoped that he could give himself enough time to think of other ways to free himself or give the Royal Knights enough time to rescue him. Given the strength of the Chrome Digizoid chains and the fact that the Royal Knights likely didn’t have a lead to go off of, he doubted that choice as well.

    Finally, he considered calling DarkKnightmon’s bluff and flatly refusing to aid him. DarkKnightmon kept speaking of their friendship, and even when DarkKnightmon had attacked them in the castle, he didn’t express any interest in killing him or any of the other Royal Knights. Omegamon suspected that DarkKnightmon didn’t want to kill them, so there was no real serious consequences to just turning him down. That way, he didn’t encourage DarkKnightmon’s plans by making him think that there was a chance that he thought it was a good idea.

    Omegamon waited. It was all that he could do. Every so often, he made an attempt to fight against the chains, but it always ended the same way.

    Finally, he heard a familiar set of footsteps approaching from behind him.

    “DarkKnightmon,” Omegamon spoke, so accustomed to the weight and the time between each stride that he could tell who it was without looking.

    “Omegamon…” DarkKnightmon replied, walking in front of the Royal Knight and turning to face him. “Have you made your decision?”

    “I have,” Omegamon told him.

    “Good… What is it?” DarkKnightmon questioned.

    Omegamon paused. He closed his eyes. “I won’t help you. I won’t ever help you… At least, not when it comes to what you want to do to the Order.” He opened his eyes and looked up at DarkKnightmon. “I’m sorry.”

    DarkKnightmon looked down at him coldly. For awhile, he didn’t speak. He just stared at Omegamon with an icy, unreadable expression.

    “…I see,” he finally spoke. “Then… I’m sorry too.”

    Omegamon frowned. “What for?” he asked him.

    “You leave me with no choice,” DarkKnightmon said, suddenly moving.

    He walked behind Omegamon and turned to face his back.

    Warily, Omegamon looked over his shoulder to see what DarkKnightmon was up to.

    DarkKnightmon kneeled down behind Omegamon. He drew a key from inside his armour and put his hand on the chrome digizoid lock that connected the chains to one of the two rungs in the marble floor. DarkKnightmon inserted the key, twisted it a few times in a very precise sequence, and forced the lock to pop open and release the chains from the metal ring. He then turned to Omegamon’s other side to do the same thing to the lock in the other ring.

    Omegamon watched as the chain came loose from the floor. He gave a tentative strain against the chains still around his caped body, but they were still too secure for him to free himself. He began to wonder if DarkKnightmon was going to do it for him anyways.

    Instead, DarkKnightmon grabbed him roughly by the back, clutching the chains as well as Omegamon’s cape as he tersely hauled the white knight to his feet. Before Omegamon could begin to try to fight against him, DarkKnightmon pulled Omegamon forcefully, forcing him to walk.

    Omegamon winced as his blood suddenly rushed into his numb legs after being still for so long, the circulation to his lower extremities suddenly flowing. His legs buckled with every step, as they were too numb to walk on, but DarkKnightmon forced Omegamon to walk regardless and held him up whenever his legs failed him.

    “What are you doing?” Omegamon demanded, still feeling a surge of warmth and prickling needles within his legs.

    DarkKnightmon didn’t reply. He kept his hand firmly on Omegamon’s bonds and pushed him towards the back of the great hall.

    The further that they went, the more that Omegamon was able to see. At the end of the great hall, on the raised level at the top of a couple small steps, past the ornate throne, there was something in the floor. It was dark and seemed to move.

    On closer inspection, it appeared to be a small fissure in the marble floor, about two meters long and several inches wide. It was black and there were wafts of darkness seeping out of it. Omegamon’s eyes widened when he recognized what it was: a dark rift.

    “A dark rift…?” Omegamon whispered as they grew closer to it. “But I thought they closed up after you escaped.”

    DarkKnightmon ignored the question. “You see, Omegamon…” he spoke, his voice cold and stoic. “Even when Digimon don’t want to be controlled, there are always ways to control them.”

    “What?” Omegamon demanded, looking over his shoulder at DarkKnightmon. Before he could say anything else, he felt DarkKnightmon’s boot collide with the back of Omegamon’s legs, forcing them to buckle and for the knight to fall to his knees in front of the rift. Omegamon looked down and saw the shadows that came from the rift begin to aggregate and reach towards Omegamon. Omegamon’s eyes widened. He suddenly remembered what Examon and Craniamon said happened to Tankdramon. “D-DarkKnightmon!” he shouted angrily, suddenly resisting a lot more fervently. “What are you doing?!”

    “I’m sorry, Omegamon. You left me with no other choice. You and your blind, foolish loyalty to Alphamon, the stubborn idiot… You can’t see past your bonds, even when you know that what I’m saying is right. Now, I have to do this,” DarkKnightmon responded. He pushed his hand hard against Omegamon’s back, trying to force him down onto the rift. “These are the powers of darkness that grew and thrived deep inside the Dark Area. They are forces of hatred and corruption. They feed on the darkness in the hearts of Digimon and take them over.”

    Omegamon felt his bound upper body being pushed towards the rift beneath him. Shadowy tendrils reached up from the rift and grabbed at his arms, chest, and waist eagerly. Omegamon snarled and flexed his abdominal muscles as he fought against them desperately, trying to pull himself away and struggle against DarkKnightmon’s pushing. “DarkKnightmon…! Don’t… do this…!”

    “You should have joined me voluntarily,” DarkKnightmon said, his yellow eyes flashing. “Omegamon.” With those words, he gave a final, violent push, breaking through Omegamon’s resistance. He shoved down powerfully, forcing Omegamon’s chest down onto the floor, his face and upper body hitting the cracked marble around the rift painfully.

    Omegamon immediately tried to push himself back up, but it was too late. The aura of darkness flowing from the rift was already consuming him. The tendrils coiled around his limbs, body and neck, burning at his skin as they corrupted his data. The white knight let out a mighty bellow of pain and anguish as his body was enveloped by darkness.

    The dark data flooded through his form, taking over the holy data of his body and consuming his soul and digicore. A final shout sounded from Omegamon’s mouth before it was drowned out by the roaring shadows.

    DarkKnightmon watched with a stoic expression as the shadows washed over the body of his friend. When the dark aura faded in a wisp of black and violet, there was a new Digimon kneeling in the place where Omegamon had previously been.

    The chrome digizoid chains fell around him, broken and shattered. A dark figure stood up, panting with exhaustion. It turned around to face DarkKnightmon.

    It was Omegamon, yet it was not Omegamon. His body looked like Omegamon’s, but it was drastically different. Instead of his usual white armour, the plate mail he wore was as black as the night. There was no colour in his form; all of the white, blue, and orange had been replaced by a fearsome ebon hue. His body was black from head to toe, with only gold trimming on his chest and spikes. As the chains fell, his cape spread more freely. Instead of white and bright red, the fabric was sable on the outside and blood red on the inside.

    The new Omegamon observed DarkKnightmon with a calm, dark stare. “DarkKnightmon…” he spoke. His voice sounded like Omegamon’s, but instead of the gentle, sensible, and caring tone of his words, they were now menacing and baleful.

    DarkKnightmon cautiously observed him. “…Omegamon.”

    “Zwart,” Omegamon corrected suddenly, his red eyes hardening viciously. He innately knew what his form now was, and it wasn’t that of Omegamon of the Royal Knights. “…Omegamon Zwart.”

    DarkKnightmon nodded. “Omegamon Zwart, then…”

    Omegamon Zwart’s eyes narrowed.

    “Get me my weapons… And tell me what you need me to do…”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  21. #46
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    Chapter 20: The Daydream of a Digicore


    Dukemon leaned on the railing of one of the castle balconies, gazing off into the distance. He watched as the sun rose in the morning, sending light across the grey sky. The crisp refreshing breeze blew across his scales, sweeping his long, white hair behind him gently.

    Beside him sat Grani, who watched the sunrise with Dukemon before he went to begin his scouting duties. Ever since Omegamon had been captured, Grani and his scouts had been working extremely hard to try to locate either the Royal Knight or his captors.

    The two stood in silence, completely at ease in the other’s presence as they watched the day begin.

    They initially didn’t notice a third Digimon walk out onto the balcony. Grani heard some shifting and glanced behind him to see Alphamon walking over.

    “Alphamon?” he asked. “Have you come to join us in watching the sunrise?”

    “If you don’t mind,” Alphamon responded, walking over to Dukemon’s side.

    Dukemon arched a brow and looked at him suspiciously. “Are you sure you should be up, Alphamon?” he asked him. He offered a playful grin. “I don’t need to get Duskmon up here, do I?”

    Alphamon responded with a small, faint smile as he leaned forwards on the railing. “No, I’m feeling better today, thank you,” he told him.

    Grani glanced between the two Digimon. His large body then moved when he stood up straight on the railing. “I think I’ll get started on my scouting duties. There’s a lot to do. Much to organize.”

    “Alright,” Alphamon replied, glancing over at the sizeable Zero ARMS.

    “Huh? Oh, sure,” Dukemon said, looking at his friend as well. “Good luck, Grani.”

    Grani would have nodded, but his head didn’t allow for a lot of movement, so he responded with a ‘thank you’. The two Royal Knights watched as the red dragon-bird took off from the balcony and swooped down towards the ground before veering left and disappearing around the side of the building.

    When he was gone, Dukemon went back to staring off into the distance.

    Alphamon looked over at the crimson knight. “Are you thinking about Omegamon?” he asked him.

    “Yeah…” Dukemon admitted. “What do you think DarkKnightmon wants with him?”

    “Probably not for information. If he wanted to use him as bait to lure us into a trap, we would have gotten at least a clue to Omegamon’s whereabouts by now,” Alphamon figured. “I think he wants to hurt me. That’s why he revealed what he did about OuRyuumon when he did.”

    “But he doesn’t know that you and OuRyuumon were together, does he?” Dukemon asked.

    Alphamon sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. It was still strange for him to hear somebody else talking about him and OuRyuumon in that way. “No… I highly doubt it. I didn’t even know that OuRyuumon was gay back when DarkKnightmon was around.”

    “Ah… Well, you’re not going to let him get to you, right?” Dukemon questioned, looking over at him.

    Alphamon smiled a bit. “No… I have been for the past week, but… not anymore. I’m the Lord of the Empty Seat.”

    Dukemon smiled as well. “And you’ve got your Royal Knights around you to support you, remember.”

    “I know…” Alphamon replied, locking eyes with Dukemon. He stalled for a few moments. “Dukemon… Are you sure you’re fine with me being… the way I am? ‘Bisexual’, if you want to call it something.”

    Dukemon turned to look at him. “Again, yeah… I’ll be honest, though, it came as a massive shock and I was a little annoyed that you only just told me yesterday, but… I can understand why. It really doesn’t change anything about you in my eyes. You’re still you, even if you like guys as well as girls, just like I’m still me, even if I have the Digital Hazard, right?”

    Alphamon smiled at him gratefully. “Right… Thank you.”

    “Anyways… Have you changed your mind about OuRyuumon, by any chance?”

    A frown grew on Alphamon’s face as he considered Dukemon’s question. “…I don’t know. I’m not going to say I won’t change my mind, but… I think it’s better if he and I are apart for awhile. Maybe I’ll feel differently after some time... Besides, I can’t think about him right now. We need to focus on rescuing Omegamon.”

    “Well, okay…” Dukemon said uncertainly. He grinned slightly. “From a strategic standpoint, it’d be good if you could still go Ouryuken with him.”

    “I think a lot of mending is needed until we’re able to do that again…” Alphamon answered somberly.

    Dukemon looked at Alphamon with a concerned expression. “The argument was that bad, huh…?”

    “We both said some things that struck deep,” Alphamon explained, wincing a bit.

    “Oh…” Dukemon put his hand on Alphamon’s shoulder and rubbed. “I’m sure you’ll both feel differently when you see each other again.”

    “We’ll see…” the black knight answered, looking towards the sunrise. He turned around and faced the entrance from the balcony into the main building. “Anyways, I have to get started.”

    “So soon?” Dukemon asked, withdrawing his hand. “Have you even showered yet?”

    “I need to send communiqués to the states of the Free Area, asking them for possible information on Omegamon, DarkKnightmon, MirageGaogamon, or Dorbickmon. Chances are that somebody has seen something. We should also start printing ‘wanted’ posters offering a reward for useful information about DarkKnightmon.”

    “Want me to ask Dynasmon to call the Warrior Ten and ask AtlurKabuterimon to draw up the portraits?” Dukemon asked.

    “If you can drag him out of bed,” Alphamon replied with a small smile, nodding at Dukemon and heading inside.

    Dukemon looked over his shoulder. “By the way… Don’t worry about OuRyuumon either. Despite the way he acts sometimes, he can take care of himself.”

    Alphamon stopped and nodded. “One other thing… Have you seen Examon? Nobody’s seen him since yesterday and his bed doesn’t look like it’s been slept in. He and Sleipmon are supposed to have military command lessons later this morning.”

    “Can’t say I have… Maybe he got up early to train or do something else productive,” Dukemon replied.

    “I’ll look around,” Alphamon said. “I’m going to call a meeting at around noon about what to do about Omegamon and what happened with OuRyuumon.”

    “I’m guessing you won’t be telling them the whole story,” Dukemon supposed, looking over at Alphamon.

    “Not now…” he replied. He paused. “But eventually. I’ve seen what happens when a secret is discovered rather than admitted. Now’s just… not the right time for that.”

    “I understand,” Dukemon told him. “Don’t worry. I’ll back you up.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Thank you... For being so supportive,” he said sincerely.

    Dukemon grinned and nodded.

    “I’ll see you in a few hours, then,” Alphamon told him, turning towards the door and disappearing inside the castle.

    -

    MirageGaogamon walked down a stone corridor on the second level of the town hall, where his new residence was.

    He had a rough sleep. He still wasn’t used to the unusually comfortable bed after sleeping in a prison cot for years, and he had a bad dream that he couldn’t shake. He didn’t have anything to do that afternoon, as DarkKnightmon was busy here and Dorbickmon went off somewhere, so he had decided to have a nap, but that was cut short by what sounded like a yell of pain. MirageGaogamon assumed it had been another dream, so he ignored it.

    He made his way down to the great hall to see if DarkKnightmon was still watching Omegamon. As soon as he passed through the door to the back end of the great hall, he stopped. The spot where Omegamon was bound was empty and the Royal Knight was gone. He began to dash in, but noticed something out of the corners of his eyes as soon as he did. MirageGaogamon swerved to his right and saw Omegamon’s form standing nearby. However, he noticed that Omegamon’s armoured body was now coated black and he had somehow regained his weapons. MirageGaogamon tensed up. He must have evolved or mode changed to break free.

    MirageGaogamon acted. His body became an azure blur as he darted across the floor, poising his claw gauntlets.

    Omegamon Zwart whirled around just as MirageGaogamon closed in on him, his weapons raised.

    MirageGaogamon pressed his claws against Omegamon’s neck, but his eyes widened upon feeling and seeing the black knight’s Grey Sword against his neck as well. He looked into Omegamon Zwart’s cold, fearsome, red eyes and felt a chill down his spine at how different they seemed compared to Omegamon’s usual look.

    “MirageGaogamon! Omegamon Zwart! Lower your weapons,” DarkKnightmon told them, striding over to the two.

    “W-What?” MirageGaogamon asked in a voice that required an answer.

    Omegamon Zwart’s eyes narrowed at MirageGaogamon, but he withdrew his blade. He then swatted MirageGaogamon’s clawed hand aside with the muzzle of his Garuru Cannon.

    “You two are on the same side,” DarkKnightmon explained. He looked at MirageGaogamon. “Omegamon – or ‘Omegamon Zwart’, now – is with us.”

    “But… But how?” MirageGaogamon asked, taking a step back. “He was so obstinate before.”

    “I had a bit of help,” DarkKnightmon said, turning and looking over at the dark rift indicatively. “That crack between our plane of the Digital World and the Dark Area, while not enough for hard mass to pass through, is leaking dark data. However, within some of that data are secretions of a substance called Black Digitron. It’s incredibly rare in the Digital World, but it’s easier to find in the Dark Area. Within it is an agent that allows for the creation of dark subspecies of certain Digimon. That, along with the dark data, has allowed me to turn Omegamon into the loyal follower of our cause that you see before you: Omegamon Zwart.”

    Omegamon Zwart observed MirageGaogamon carefully. “MirageGaogamon. Former Captain of the Royal Knights’ Defence Forces.”

    MirageGaogamon looked at DarkKnightmon. “He retains his memories?” he asked. “Then how can we trust him?”

    “The dark data brings out the darkness in Digimons’ hearts as well as physically corrupts their digicores. He still has Omegamon’s loyalty from before, but he’s expressed his scorn for the Royal Knights to me. That loyalty is now mine,” DarkKnightmon explained, turning to Omegamon Zwart and nodding.

    “But how can we be sure that—“

    The sounds of the front doors creaking open interrupted him, and the three turned towards the noise, always somewhat wary that it was somebody other than Dorbickmon or the mayor, who was reluctantly complying with Dorbickmon out of fear. This worry was somewhat eased by the fact that only those two had the keys to the town hall.

    After locking the front doors behind him, Dorbickmon strode into the great hall and looked up to see Omegamon Zwart standing with DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon, with his Garuru Cannon trained on him.

    “Woah, what the-“ Dorbickmon’s eyes widened and he suddenly became defensive, sneering. “What the hell’s going on here?!”

    “Oh. It’s you,” Omegamon Zwart spoke, lowering his cannon.

    “Dorbickmon, meet our new ally,” DarkKnightmon said, motioning to Omegamon. “Omegamon Zwart.”

    “Omegamon Zwart…” Dorbickmon said, arching an eyebrow. He walked over to them and looked the pitch black knight up and down. “What’d you do? Use that rift I couldn’t close?”

    “Yes, that’s right,” DarkKnightmon answered. “Astute guess.”

    MirageGaogamon grunted quietly and folded his arms. “Where did you sneak off to, Dorbickmon?” he asked him suspiciously.

    “I had some business to attend to,” Dorbickmon cryptically replied, eyeing MirageGaogamon with a contentious grin.

    “What, exactly?” MirageGaogamon pressed, narrowing his eyes.

    Dorbickmon chuckled and sighed, folding his arms. “Okay, fine… I went to see one of my mercenary pals. I told some of them to keep an eye out the Royal Knights and other members of the Order. He contacted me around noon with some information.” He looked at DarkKnightmon with a dark grin. “You might find this interesting. He saw an old friend of yours flying north towards the Free Area’s border, all by himself.”

    DarkKnightmon looked at Dorbickmon pensively. “Who?”

    “OuRyuumon,” Dorbickmon informed him.

    A dark shadow seemed to fall over DarkKnightmon’s face as he looked down in thought. The knight turned to Omegamon Zwart, who was glaring intensely at the name.

    DarkKnightmon nodded and closed his eyes. “…That’s good to know.”

    Dorbickmon grinned as he thought to himself. “And there’s something else I found too…

    -

    OuRyuumon soared through the warmth and humidity of the late afternoon. It was one of those uncomfortably warm days that either preceded or followed a rainstorm. The humidity made his armour cling to his scales and his hands sweat inside the violet, leather, fingerless gloves that he wore. He hated the feeling. It made the flight even more irritating than it was already.

    He flew over the grasslands and the multitude of trees that stood across the landscape, whose blue and red leaves rustled in the soft breeze. The sun was beginning to slowly descend towards the horizon, off to his left. Its rays still shone into his eyes and sparkled off the scimitars dangling from his belt. That annoyed him as well, even if he usually liked sunny days. It was like everything grated on his nerves since DarkKnightmon revealed what he did. Things had just kept getting worse for him from that point on.

    He didn’t believe in Yggdrasil. Or Fanglongmon, for that matter. Or God, unlike many of the Angel Digimon who followed that smaller, less known offshoot of the Yggdrasil faith. However, he couldn’t help but feel like he was being punished. OuRyuumon always knew that it was too good to be true, that he had gotten away with what he tried to do. Now, he had lost everything.

    OuRyuumon wondered what he would do when he got back to New Terminal. What lie he would tell his parents about why he wasn’t part of the Order anymore, and what about Alphamon. Some lie, he guessed. He was already used to lying to them about himself. However, he was beginning to realize that some lies don’t last forever.

    He wondered if he should even bother going back to New Terminal; he didn’t know what he would do there for a living. He supposed he could work for his father at his smithy, but he never really had that much interest in that. He considered not returning and going off to join a mercenary company or guild. That was where his skills lay, and that way he could keep fighting. However, he doubted that option too; he couldn’t bear potentially going up against Alphamon and the Royal Knights one day. The shame and guilt would be too much.

    The gold dragon sighed and he grimly looked over his shoulder, checking the landscape behind him. “There’s no going back now…” he muttered to himself. “Almost out of this damn Free Area…”

    He suddenly stopped as he neared the rushing river that acted as the border separating that Free Area province with the end of the Free Area’s territory. His eyes narrowed defiantly and he suddenly closed his fists tightly. “No…” he hissed out of his draconic mouth. “I’m not about to give up and slink away in the night like I’m the bad guy. It was DarkKnightmon who put his poisonous words into Alphamon’s ear. He was trying to do this to us and I’m not about to let him get away with it! If I can find him and take him down, then Alphamon will have to realize that I’m worth keeping around! I’ll show— Huh?“

    OuRyuumon stopped the motivational speech, filled with new found resolve, when he heard a noise behind him. His heart sank when he saw a bright blue energy orb rushing towards him at incredible speeds.

    His hands instinctively went for the Gairyu swords in his belt. He was fast enough to close his claws around their hilts, but he didn’t have enough time to draw them to defend himself or even dodge the sudden attack. Just as he began to pull them out, the blast detonated against his body, throwing him out of the sky violently. OuRyuumon let out a cry of pain as his body was concussed with frigid power and he fell to the ground like a falling brick. He hit the ground, his wings and back colliding with the grass first before the rest of him followed.

    OuRyuumon grimaced with pain and lay there for a few seconds, growling between winded coughs. Although dazed, he tried his best to look around, trying to locate his attacker. His eyes narrowed when he located something: there was a black figure standing out against the sky. That was all he could make out before another blast, fired from the figure’s arm, obstructed his view of the Digimon. The attack soared towards OuRyuumon’s downed form.

    Not about to take this lying down, OuRyuumon jumped to his feet and drew the Gairyu swords, twirling the scimitars in front of him for a moment before flapping his wings and darting to the side just as the attack closed in. The beam hit the ground with a large explosion and shards of ice pelted OuRyuumon’s armour and scales as he flew away from the blast.

    “You picked the wrong guy on the wrong day, bastard!” OuRyuumon shouted angrily, circling around and looking over to where the Digimon was. It was then that he noticed that the Digimon had moved already. He looked around fervently, searching and listening. He couldn’t see it anywhere.

    It was then that he noticed the sound of fluttering of cloth coming from above him. OuRyuumon looked up and gripped his swords tightly; the black figure was descending on him. OuRyuumon immediately dove downwards into frontal loop to put distance between himself and the Digimon so that he could counterattack. As soon as he reached the lowest point of the dive, where he began to circle back up again, OuRyuumon heard a deep voice harmonize with the sound of something being fired.

    “Garuru Cannon!”

    Garuru Cannon?” OuRyuumon couldn’t help but think to himself.

    However, that thought quickly vanished when he saw the attack descending on him. OuRyuumon sneered briefly and crossed his long, jagged swords in front of him as his body began to glow gold. “Ouga- AH!”

    The attack was too fast. The ball of compressed power broke through his defence and exploded against his chest. Apart from the pain, a sense of dread flooded through OuRyuumon when he felt the Gairyu Sadaijin fly away from his left hand as his body was concussed by the blast. He slammed into the ground violently, his long body arching in pain as he collided with the grass.

    Not two seconds after hitting the ground was OuRyuumon already trying to move, but to his amazement, another attack was already falling upon him, followed by another and another.

    The blasts pounded OuRyuumon’s body mercilessly. His long, serpentine form was hammered and lambasted by the explosions, and forced further into the deepening crater around him. All he could feel was a cold, high-pressure, painful sensation all over his body as the attacks continued. He wasn’t allowed a single moment of respite. The dragon grimaced when he felt himself lose his grip on the Gairyu Udaijin, which was torn away from his hand and blasted out of his reach.

    After two more painful blasts, the bombardment finally stopped. OuRyuumon lay in the bottom of the crater, his body steaming and ice coating his form in some places. His whole body was wracked with pain and his movements were slow and sluggish as he tried to do something in defiance. He looked up and into the sky and saw a caped, sable knight descending on him.

    As the armoured warrior landed on top of OuRyuumon, the dragon instinctively reached for one of his scimitars, which lay a meter away. The knight slammed his heel down on OuRyuumon’s wrist and wound his right arm back.

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth and looked up at his attacker. He looked into the Digimon’s sharp, crimson eyes and black, helmeted face. He recognized him. “Omega… mon…?”

    Omegamon Zwart threw his arm forwards and slammed the heavy muzzle of the Garuru Cannon into OuRyuumon’s face.

    OuRyuumon saw a painful flash of red before darkness overtook him.

    -

    Examon lugged the Ambrosius over his spiked shoulders as he flew through the heavy, humid air. He could see that the storm clouds in the distance were creeping closer. It looked like it was going to rain in the evening – possibly all through the night.

    He headed back towards the Royal Knights’ territory after his unsuccessful, self-appointed mission to bring OuRyuumon back. He supposed he could have handled it better and not gotten so defensive and contentious during their argument, but he wasn’t sure that it would have made any difference. Examon wondered if he should be truthful about his absence when he returned back to the headquarters; he didn’t want Alphamon getting angry at him for insubordination after Alphamon had made the decision to throw OuRyuumon out of the Order. Then again, Examon wasn’t sure if lying would be much better, especially since he wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t like Examon knew OuRyuumon had been thrown out until he talked to the dragon himself.

    His Caledfwlch wings floated on the warm air currents and he sailed through the air at a moderate speed.

    He often wondered about the United Dramonic Coalition and how it was doing. He was sure that they would have heard something if there had been any trouble, but he still couldn’t help but think about it. It had been a big change, going from living there and being its protector to only going there every so often as a Royal Knight. However, he was still glad that he made the decision to join the Royal Knights. It was extremely gratifying, and he even felt like he made a few friends here. That wasn’t something that he could say about protecting the UDC.

    The broad, armoured wings flapped in front of Examon, stopping his flight when he noticed something in the distance. Far up ahead, lying in the grass, was a Digimon. The Digimon turned to see Examon and called out to him, hailing with a wave of his arm.

    Examon frowned and drew closer, descending down towards the Digimon. The Digimon was a red dragon Digimon like himself, more draconic than humanoid, it seemed.

    “Hey!” the Digimon called out.

    Examon flew down and landed in the grass. “Hello?” he asked, the Digimon, unaware that the species was a Dorbickmon.

    “You’re one of the Royal Knights, right?” Dorbickmon asked, bent forwards and clutching his leg with a grimace on his face.

    “Yes, I’m Examon,” Examon replied, looking him over with a frown.

    There was a slight, fleeting change in Dorbickmon’s expression. “Thank the Sovereigns!” Dorbickmon explained with a breath of relief. “I sprained my ankle and I can’t walk very well. Can you give me a helping claw?”

    Examon nodded. “Of course,” he told him, sticking the Ambrosius into the ground so that he could go and help the wounded Digimon up. He bent down and took Dorbickmon’s hand in his, their claws locking firmly. With a grunt of effort, he heaved the large, bulky dragon to his feet and slung his arm over his back and neck to help Dorbickmon stand. “This okay?” he asked.

    “Yeah, thanks,” Dorbickmon asked, balancing on one leg while turning and looking at Examon with an expressionless face. “You’re a real lifesaver…”

    “I’m just doing what a Royal Knight should do,” Examon assured him.

    Dorbickmon released a soft but sharp exhale from his nostrils. “Really.”

    “How did you hurt your leg?” Examon asked, readjusting Dorbickmon’s arm slightly for comfort.

    “I was climbing a tree for some fruit but one of the damn branches broke. I landed on my feet but I must have landed weird, so I twisted my ankle,” Dorbickmon explained.

    Examon nodded. He looked over at Dorbickmon. “Where should I take you? Where are you from?” he questioned.

    There was a glint in Dorbickmon’s yellow and violet eyes. “I’m from the UDC actually…” he admitted to Examon. He looked at the draconic Royal Knight to see his reaction. “Wyrm’s Edge.”

    Examon looked at Dorbickmon with surprise. “R-Really…” he spoke, trying to maintain his composition. He gave a miniscule wince and looked away. “I am too, actually…”

    “Fancy that…” Dorbickmon murmured, not taking his eyes off of Examon. “’Course… I don’t live there now. Too many bad memories…”

    Violet flames began to grow within the palm of Dorbickmon’s hand - the one that rested at his side, away from Examon.

    “…I see…” Examon spoke, still wincing somewhat. That was something that they had in common.

    “You see… my best friend tried to kill me as a teenager,” Dorbickmon told him.

    Examon’s whole body tightened and his heart felt like it skipped several beats. He slowly turned his head towards Dorbickmon, his eyes wide. He stared into Dorbickmon’s eyes, which leered into his green ones with a kind of compressed excitement. Dorbickmon’s eyes narrowed, his purple irises fixing on Examon’s pupils, the yellow hue surrounding them making the violet colour stand out. That look… the way he looked at him… it felt familiar to Examon.

    “Strike… dramon…?” he whispered. His calm, composed voice was gone. Instead, it was that of absolute shock and horror at the prospect of facing him.

    Dorbickmon’s eyes hardened passionately. He pulled his arm away roughly and stood on his own two feet, revealing that he had been feigning injury. He gritted his teeth and glared darkly into Examon’s eyes. “Coredramon…” Dorbickmon wound his arm back. “You ****ing HYPOCRITE!” he roared. He threw his clawed fist forwards, flames streaming out from within his closed palm, hard into the end of Examon’s snout.

    Examon let out a shout of pain and surprise as the blow sent him crashing onto his winged back. He felt the tips of his horns dig into the grass slightly, along with a numb, throbbing pain in his snout. A metallic taste made his tongue curdle as blood oozed from where his jagged teeth dug into the inside of his lips.

    He winced and sat up, rubbing his snout and spitting out some bloody saliva from his swelling lip. “Strikedramon…” he said, looking up at him with a guilty grimace.

    “It’s ‘Dorbickmon’ now, ‘Examon’,” Dorbickmon hissed, clenching his large hands tightly. “I bet you thought you finished me off for good, didn’t you?!”

    “You don’t understand!” Examon pleaded, standing to his feet. “I didn’t mean for that to happen!”

    “Oh, sure,” Dorbickmon scoffed, a bit of fire leaking from his maw as he spoke. “Just like you didn’t mean to leave me for dead and run off before you could be arrested, right?”

    Examon looked down at the ground with tightened, guilt-filled eyes. “That was…” he spoke lowly. “A huge mistake…”

    “I’ll bet it was,” Dorbickmon snarled, breaths of fire drifting from his maw with every word. “You’re wishing you finished the job right then and there! Well, here’s your chance, you traitorous bastard. Kill me, if you can! Dragon Breath Tonic Fire!”

    Examon’s eyes widened as the flames flew towards him. Despite his surprise, Examon’s wings acted on their own and cloaked in front of his body to act as a chrome digizoid shield. The flames heated the metal intensely but harmlessly washed along their metal coating, unable to get through to Examon’s scales.

    The Caledfwlch wings swept out strongly and blasted the fire away with a powerful gust of wind, turning the inferno into embers which were quickly snuffed out. “Strikedramon! What are you doing?! Let’s talk about this!”

    “It’s ‘Dorbickmon’, damnit!” he growled, flames still swathing from his mouth.

    “Dorbickmon…” Examon muttered, thinking that the name sounded familiar. His eyes widened with realization. Alphamon mentioned that a Dorbickmon attacked him and Omegamon. “You’re the one helping DarkKnightmon?!”

    “I’m the one who freed him!” Dorbickmon explained. He held his hands in front of him and summoned the Tyrant Collbrande in a tempestuous burst of fire. Dorbickmon gripped the flaming sword tightly in his claws and took on a combat stance, sneering at Examon.

    “But why?!” Examon demanded.

    “To get to you!” Dorbickmon spat. He scowled at him darkly. “You were my best friend. You turned on me… Tried to kill me… That changes the way that a young, carefree Digimon looks at the world.”

    “I’m sorry about that, Dorbickmon,” Examon told him animatedly, clenching his claws tightly. “Believe me!”

    “Hollow words,” Dorbickmon snarled. “What did I get from what you did? I nearly got reformatted if it weren’t for the town physician. I got scars, burns, and the way I look at the world changed forever. What did you get? You got rewarded. You became a Royal Knight; one of the heroes of the Digital World. You make me sick.”

    Examon grimaced. “Let me explain… You don’t have to forgive me, but at least hear—“

    “You’ve had fifteen years to explain!” Dorbickmon shouted, slashing the Tyrant Collbrande outwards, a few embers flying off with the angry swipe. “What I want now is action!”

    Before Examon could respond, two jets of fire streamed from Dorbickmon’s chest towards him. Examon gritted his teeth and acted on instinct. He swerved to the side, angling one of his wings in front of his body to shield against the attack. He let out a grunt of pain as the streams of flames exploded on contact with his wings, creating a fulgurating blast that buffeted his wing painfully.

    “Dorbickmon!” Examon shouted out over the roars of the flames.

    “Let’s see if you’ve got the skills of a Royal Knight!” Dorbickmon exclaimed, charging at Examon. He lunged into the air and swiped the flaming sword downwards powerfully.

    Examon moved his wing and saw Dorbickmon descending on him with the Tyrant Collbrande. He dashed out of the way and made a dive for the Ambrosius lance, sticking in the ground several meters away. His claws clasped the hilt of the lance and pulled it from the ground just as Dorbickmon landed nearby with a mighty crash that sent heat flying out and dirt shooting up from around him.

    Examon spun around and held the Ambrosius defensively. He narrowed his eyes at Dorbickmon as the aggressive dragon turned to glare at him. “I don’t want to fight you, Dorbickmon,” he told him. “I know how angry you must be, and you have every right to be, but—“

    “Damn right, I do,” Dorbickmon grunted, dragging his sword out of the ground with a cascade of grass and dirt. “You’re a Royal Knight, right? Isn’t it your duty to fight me since I helped capture one of your comrades?”

    Examon grimaced at his words. He decided not to answer, as he was torn about what to do. “Omegamon… How is he?” he asked him.

    “He’s okay… He’s got a new look,” Dorbickmon said with an enigmatic smirk. The grin disappeared. “Now stop dragging your feet. You’ve never had a problem fighting me before.”

    Examon frowned. “If that’s the only way I can get you to listen to me…”

    “Good…” Dorbickmon adjusted his burning blade in his claws. “Don’t hold back; I’m sure not going to.”

    -

    A draconic growl escaped OuRyuumon’s throat as he began to slip out of the holds of unconsciousness. The growl turned into a groan as he felt a throbbing pain in his face, back, and body. His hearing was slightly muffled, but he was sure that he heard the voices of Digimon talking nearby.

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth, tasting the sharp bitterness of blood on his tongue as he began to open his eyes. Through the blur of his eyes, he could see two dark figures and one blue one standing in front of him. He was indoors and the room seemed pretty dark, from what he could tell.

    The next thing he noticed was the tight strain he felt in his shoulders and wrists. It became apparent to him that he wasn’t lying down, but barely standing. His feet dragged against the ground and he was held up by something around his wrists. OuRyuumon grimaced and slowly pressed the soles of his clawed feet against the cold, stone floor, standing on his own to reduce the strain on his arms.

    “The hell…?” he muttered to himself, still a bit groggy. OuRyuumon tried to move his arms, but he found that he was unable. Wincing, the gold dragon Digimon looked up to see what the problem was. To his shock, he saw that his arms were suspended above his head. His wrists were crossed over the other and bound tightly by chains, which lead up to the ceiling of the room. “What the fu-…?! Hey! What the hell is this?!”

    The next thing that he noticed was that he couldn’t move his wings along with his arms. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the chains around his wrists led down and bound his wings together, preventing him from using the Gaiba Daimeijin for flight. OuRyuumon tried to spread his bladed wings out to cut against the bonds, but saw that they held firm. He began to realize that his Gairyu swords were missing, as was the blade that usually sat on the tip of his tail. The dragon snarled, struggling to wrench his hands free. He turned and glared at the three Digimon in front of him, who turned towards him now that he was awake.

    In front of him was DarkKnightmon, MirageGaogamon, and…

    OuRyuumon squinted his eyes to get a good look at the third Digimon. It was the one who had attacked him. He wore black armour but he looked exactly like Omegamon. “What…?” he whispered to himself.

    “So, you’re awake…” DarkKnightmon observed, folding his arms.

    “DarkKnightmon…” OuRyuumon hissed, a fire in his violet eyes as he glared at him balefully. “You… bastard…”

    DarkKnightmon grunted. “You don’t change, do you?”

    “Neither do you… You’re still a treacherous little eel,” OuRyuumon said to him. “Release me right now so we can settle this once and for all! Or are you scared?”

    DarkKnightmon looked at his prisoner calmly. “There’s a fine line between courage and stupidity. You’re the living proof of that,” he dryly responded. “I think I’ll leave you the way you are, if you don’t mind.”

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes and turned his gaze to MirageGaogamon. “So… You’re free,” he said, making the disdain in his voice clear. “Ex-Captain.”

    MirageGaogamon returned the stare. “Quite the reversal, isn’t it? …Ex-Captain,” he made sure to add.

    “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” OuRyuumon defiantly said, sneering. He turned and looked at the Digimon who looked like Omegamon. “And what the hell is this? Some bad Omegamon impersonator?”

    “I was Omegamon,” the black armoured Digimon explained in a cold voice. “I am now Omegamon Zwart.”

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes at his words. “…You expect me to believe that?”

    “You’d believe me if I revealed your and Alphamon’s secret,” Omegamon Zwart threatened.

    OuRyuumon’s eyes widened. There was only one secret that that could be. He didn’t want to believe it, but now he was sure; that Digimon was Omegamon. OuRyuumon felt a pressure in his chest. What had happened to him? Had Omegamon betrayed them? Had he been brainwashed? Was there some sort of strange Digimon’s spell over him?

    “Omegamon…? What… What the hell happened to you?!” he demanded, looking between Omegamon Zwart and DarkKnightmon. “What did you do to him, you bastard?!”

    “That’s none of your concern,” DarkKnightmon countered. “Moreover, I don’t have to explain myself to prisoners.”

    OuRyuumon struggled hard against his metal restraints and snarled, glaring at DarkKnightmon. “Whatever you did to him, let him go!” he told him. “And let me go too, you damn coward!”

    Omegamon Zwart narrowed his eyes and raised his arm swiftly, pointing the Garuru Cannon at OuRyuumon’s face, showing him the flickers of blue energy igniting within the muzzle. “Watch your mouth for once, OuRyuumon. Or I’ll see to it that you’re unable to speak,” he warned him.

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth and sneered, his eye brows furrowed furiously. “Omegamon… Damn it…”

    “It’s alright,” DarkKnightmon said to them. “I can handle him alone from here.”

    “Are you sure, Sir?” MirageGaogamon asked, looking at OuRyuumon suspiciously. “You know how volatile he is.”

    “He’s restrained, so all I have to concern myself with is his big mouth,” DarkKnightmon explained. “I’ve handled it before and I can handle it now. I’d just like some privacy, please.”

    “Of course…” MirageGaogamon said, nodding, although somewhat apprehensively. He turned and headed for the door to the room.

    “Very well…” Omegamon Zwart replied, lowering his cannon and giving OuRyuumon a final glare before following.

    As soon as DarkKnightmon’s two allies were out of the room, DarkKnightmon went over and closed the door.

    As he did this, OuRyuumon glared defiantly at him. He covered most of his worry about being a prisoner up with anger towards DarkKnightmon. “What the hell did you do to Omegamon? Tell me!” he demanded.

    DarkKnightmon made sure that the door was completely shut and then turned around. He walked back to the restrained serpent dragon in the middle of the room. “You have always thought that you were owed things that you didn’t deserve, haven’t you?” DarkKnightmon asked him in response.

    “What?” OuRyuumon questioned, confused and annoyed.

    “An answer to your question,” DarkKnightmon explained. “A place in the Royal Knights… Special treatment because you and Alphamon were childhood friends.”

    The gold dragon sneered deeply. “I never asked for something that I thought I didn’t deserve!” he countered. “Unlike you, who stabbed us in the back because you couldn’t have your own way with the Free Area!”

    “Leave it to you to bring everybody else down to your own, petty level,” DarkKnightmon replied, narrowing his gold eyes. “To this day, I have no idea how Alphamon stuck by you for so long…”

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but grimace and look away, the cheek of his snout pressing against one of his biceps as he did. He clenched his bound hands with anger and emotion.

    DarkKnightmon grinned behind his helmet, picking up on his body language. “Or maybe he finally showed you the exit… Was it because I told him the truth about what happened? Is that why you were flying north when Omegamon Zwart went after you? Because Alphamon kicked you out of the Order?”

    “**** you,” OuRyuumon muttered, refusing to look him in the eyes and give him the satisfaction.

    Despite this, DarkKnightmon was satisfied. “Your mouth has always been bigger than your brain, hasn’t it?”

    “And your mouth has always been bigger than your dick,” OuRyuumon fired back.

    DarkKnightmon calmly observed him. “If I were an insecure teenager, I might just have found that offensive.”

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes. “What the hell are you going to do anyways?” he asked angrily. “If I have been kicked out of the Order, I’m no good as bait. Or maybe you’re planning to do to me what you did to Omegamon.”

    “I would, but your heart is already dark. Anybody with half a brain can see that,” DarkKnightmon insulted him, eliciting a glare from OuRyuumon. “I doubt you’d have listened to me anyways.”

    “You’re damn right I wouldn’t! You’re the evil one here!” OuRyuumon fired back.

    “And yet it was harder for Alphamon to dismiss me from the Order than it was for him to dismiss you,” DarkKnightmon responded.

    OuRyuumon couldn’t help but wince. “You don’t know that.”

    “No, but you do,” DarkKnightmon said to him with a small smirk.

    The gold dragon growled and sneered at him deeply. “Enough of your talk,” he snarled. “What the hell do you want with me?”

    DarkKnightmon levelled his yellow eyes with OuRyuumon’s narrow glare and toothy sneer. “I’m not a petty Digimon, OuRyuumon…” he explained to him. He raised his hand and pressed his finger against a large cut above OuRyuumon’s left eye, from which dried blood caked down his face. This caused OuRyuumon to wince and hiss as pain shot through his forehead. “But, for you, I’ll make an exception.”

    “I’ll make it easy for you, then,” OuRyuumon told him. He leaned his head back and then spat onto DarkKnightmon.

    DarkKnightmon remained expressionless as his face and chest were sprayed by blood and saliva. He raised his hand and slowly wiped some of the mixture from off of his face. His eyes suddenly narrowed and he swept his arm outwards, backhanding OuRyuumon across his face, causing his head to jerk into his raised arm.

    OuRyuumon winced at the numb pain in his cheek but defiantly turned his gaze back to DarkKnightmon. “You hit like a little girl.”

    DarkKnightmon grabbed OuRyuumon’s head by his violet hair and forced the dragon to look at him directly. “I’m not beating you because you’re goading me into it, lizard; I’m beating you because this is long overdue payback. Rather, this is what you deserve - a rash, petulant, bloodthirsty Digimon like yourself…”

    “You hypocrite…” OuRyuumon snarled. “You’re always acting like you’re so morally superior to everybody else. At least admit to yourself that you’re doing this because you hate me, not because you’re trying to do something good for the universe.” He clenched his claws and pulled down hard on the chains leading to the ceiling, hoping he might be able to pull himself free. “In fact… admit that you don’t actually care about stopping crime and brigandage or creating a peaceful world; you just want to control everybody for your own damn ego!”

    At that, DarkKnightmon’s eyes narrowed sharply into an angry glare. He reeled his arm back and then drove his fist into OuRyuumon’s chest, hard enough to make the serpent’s back arch. OuRyuumon’s eyes widened and he let out a pained gasp as all the air in his lungs, along with a few drops of saliva, shot out of his mouth from the painful blow. He couldn’t help but double over as much as the chains binding his wrists would allow, nearly collapsing onto DarkKnightmon’s fist.

    “You’re right; that was cathartic,” DarkKnightmon responded, slowly withdrawing his hand from where he drilled his fist into OuRyuumon’s chest scales. “That’s where your solar plexus is located, isn’t it?”

    OuRyuumon couldn’t respond. He sagged forwards a bit, coughing violently and gasping for breath as much as he could. OuRyuumon whipped his tail around and tried to strike DarkKnightmon with it.

    DarkKnightmon caught his tail and twisted it painfully, eliciting a garbled sound of pain from the winded dragon Digimon. “I knew we should have restrained this somehow,” DarkKnightmon said, leering at the tail in his hand before moving forwards to deliver a painful uppercut to OuRyuumon’s chin.

    The dragon’s head jolted up at the strong collision. Wincing with pain, OuRyuumon began to catch his breath again. However, he soon felt DarkKnightmon’s fist drive into a lower part of his body, tearing a sharp grunt of anguish from his throat. Although grimacing with agony, OuRyuumon tried to continue standing on his feet.

    “Didn’t… f-feel… a thing…” OuRyuumon spat, glaring at DarkKnightmon and trying to wrench his tail free from DarkKnightmon’s other hand.

    “Then I’m not trying hard enough,” DarkKnightmon replied. He narrowed his eyes and pulled his fist back. “Don’t worry; I’ll only make you feel like you’ve been thrown off of a tower…”

    He cracked his fist across OuRyuumon’s snout, drawing blood from the corner of his mouth. Next, he drove it into OuRyuumon’s gut.

    The dragon Digimon heaved and lurched forwards, spitting blood out onto the floor with a groan. He snarled and glared up at DarkKnightmon with a pained grin. “Gonna… kill… you…” he rumbled between staggered breaths.

    “You had your chance for that, I’m afraid,” DarkKnightmon replied, driving his knee into OuRyuumon’s lower body. “Now, accept the justice you’re owed.”

    With that, DarkKnightmon continued laying into OuRyuumon, pounding him and striking him until he felt satisfied.

    OuRyuumon grimaced with every twinge of pain that shot through his body, though only allowing himself to grunt for all but the incredibly painful blows. He shut his eyes and gritted his teeth as more blood trickled out of his mouth and he felt DarkKnightmon’s fist collide with the tip of his snout, causing the crimson liquid to flood out of his nostrils. He felt a sharp burning sensation in his eyes as they began to water, but he refused to open them in case DarkKnightmon mistook them for tears

    He clenched his bound claws and tried to distract himself through the pain.

    Alphamon…” he thought to himself, flinching as he felt his long, serpentine body throb and spasm after another solid blow to his chest. “I’m sorry… I need you… All my… fault…

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  22. #47
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    (Continued from previous post)

    -

    Examon sneered and flew sharply to the right as he dodged the massive, flaming Tyrant Collbrande, which Dorbickmon swiped at him from the ground as he flew forty feet into the air.

    The reach he has with that…” Examon thought to himself, gripping the Ambrosius tightly with his claw on the trigged as he aimed at Dorbickmon. “Pendragon’s Glory!”

    A linear beam ripped from Examon’s lance and tore across the ground in front of Dorbickmon, narrowly missing the wingless dragon as he stepped to the side. Dust and smoke exploded up from the impact, but Dorbickmon tore through the smoke, he jumped high into the air and slashed the elongated sword at Examon with a roar.

    Examon gritted his teeth and swooped under the swing. He felt the heat of the blade against the Caledfwlch as they took him down and then began to climb through the air again. His body was already showing signs of wear and tear from the ongoing battle. There were cuts across his arms and legs, not to mention burns from Dorbickmon’s fiery attacks. Dorbickmon was stronger than he expected and he had a burning intensity to go along with it. The dragon grimaced and looked over his shoulder.

    He’s a close-to-mid range attacker, so I should keep my distance from him and just fire from the sky, but I need to convince him to stop and talk,” Examon thought to himself, swinging around and flapping his wings.

    “Flying won’t be enough to help you!” Dorbickmon called up. He slashed his sword along the ground, tapping into the dragon veins, and summoning huge columns of rock from the ground to use as a staircase. He pulled the Tyrant Collbrande back up and allowed the fiery blade to shrink to its normal size again. Dorbickmon dashed up the makeshift stairs and lunged off at the top. He hurdled into Examon in a full body tackle, shifting his body to narrowly avoid getting struck by the Ambrosius’ tip.

    Dorbickmon grabbed hold of Examon’s face as they fell through the air, pushing him down and pressing his blade against Examon’s armoured chest.

    Examon grunted as he fell through the air, unable to right himself or support Dorbickmon’s weight. The Royal Knight crashed into the grass in a cascade of dirt and fire, landing hard on his winged back.

    His assailant grinned, having made Examon take the brunt of the impact, and sat on his chest. Dorbickmon drove his clawed fist repeatedly into Examon’s face. “I wonder… how long… it’ll take… for you… to rage out… again…” he mused between punches.

    Examon grimaced as his head was forced into the ground; Dorbickmon’s jagged fists drew blood all over his face and snout as the punches pummelled his head. He tried to use the Ambrosius to retaliate, but he couldn’t manoeuvre it at such a close range. He just ended firing off a blind shot behind Dorbickmon, which ripped across the grass harmlessly. Examon dropped the lance and reached his claws up to catch Dorbickmon’s fist before it could hit him again. He sneered at Dorbickmon, looking up at him with one eye, as the other one was closed from pain and blood trickling over it. He held Dorbickmon’s hand tightly, pushing against his might.

    “That… was an accident…” Examon told him, panting. “I never meant… to hurt you…”

    Dorbickmon scowled and drilled his other fist into Examon’s armoured stomach, punching hard enough into the chrome digizoid for him to still feel it. The Royal Knight momentarily seized up at the painful blow, letting go of Dorbickmon’s other hand.

    “Well, I’ve got news for you, bastard! You did!” Dorbickmon snarled, grabbing Examon’s throat and squeezing, his sharp claws digging into his scales slightly. “You really think I’m dumb enough to believe any excuses you thought up? If you didn’t mean to hurt me, you would’ve gotten help! Anyways, I don’t care anymore. I just care about kicking your sorry knight ***.”

    Examon grimaced and gasped for air, grabbing Dorbickmon’s wrist and trying to pull his hand off. After seeing that Dorbickmon was physically stronger than him, Examon knew that he had to act. He moved his long tail swiftly and lashed at Dorbickmon’s back like a whip, causing him to cry out and arch his back in pain. Feeling the grip loosen around his neck, Examon knocked Dorbickmon’s arm away and drilled his bony claws across Dorbickmon’s face, knocking the bulky dragon off of him.

    Dorbickmon crashed to the ground and spat blood out onto the grass. He sneered when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Examon pull away and aim the Ambrosius. Dorbickmon quickly acted. He grabbed the shaft of Examon’s lance and pointed it upwards as it fired, causing it to miss him. He then assailed Examon, lunging onto his body.

    Examon grunted as Dorbickmon threw himself at him. He raised his free hand to try to defend himself. “Dorbickmon, st--!“ He was crushed to the ground by another punch to his face.

    The fiery Digimon then summoned the Tyrant Collbrande once again. Dorbickmon snarled and stabbed the burning blade straight through Examon’s wing with enough strength to puncture the chrome digizoid. The Tyrant Collbrande pierced through the sail-like appendage and stabbed deep into the ground. Examon released a resounding howl of agony.

    “Ha hah!” Dorbickmon laughed triumphantly, leering down at Examon as he kept his hand on his sword and he pinned Examon’s arms down using his knees. “There it is! The first real emotion that I’ve heard from you today! You can only hide yourself behind that fake, professional, knightly demeanour for so long!”

    Examon cringed in absolute pain. In desperation, he drove his knee up to hit Dorbickmon’s back end. This caused Dorbickmon to lose his balance and begin to stagger forwards, allowing Examon to free one of his arms. He tore his arm away and drilled his fist into Dorbickmon’s side before slashing at it with his claws.

    Dorbickmon rumbled with pain and anger and proceeded to cuff Examon across his face and strike him in the collar. The dragon man then stood to his feet over him. “Dragon Breath Tonic Fire!” he roared.

    Amethyst flames spewed from Dorbickmon’s draconic maw and washed over Examon’s body, searing him all over with ultra-hot flames.

    Examon roared out at the burning anguish, but the roar soon faded away with exhaustion. The flames petered out and Examon lay on the ground, his body smoking, bruised, and bloodied.

    Dorbickmon smirked with satisfaction as he stood over his old friend. He raised his arm and wiped the blood trickling from his mouth before licking his lips and leaning over Examon, who was too pained and tired to move. His claws reached down and gripped Examon’s nose horn so that he could pull him off the ground slightly. Dorbickmon looked down into Examon’s eyes with a victorious gleam.

    “Looks like I won this time, Examon…” he told him. “DarkKnightmon’ll be happy… Now he’ll have two captains and two Royal Knights…”

    “What…?” Examon weakly whispered, looking up at him.

    Dorbickmon let go of Examon’s horn and let him drop back to the ground. He picked up the Ambrosius and threw it aside just in case Examon found enough strength to try and use it. He then stepped off of Examon and stood at his side, looking down at the dragon. “Now… How to carry you with your big *** wings…?” he mused.

    “Shining V Force!” a voice resounded from the distance.

    Dorbickmon turned towards the sound and he took on expression of shock and rage. He barely had enough time to bring his arms up to defend himself as a v-shaped ray of light slammed into his upper body, blasting him away. The next thing he knew, a cobalt blur was shooting towards him.

    Examon watched with weary surprise as a familiar dragon knight rammed his shoulder into Dorbickmon’s form at high speed, knocking him off his feet and sending him flying through the air until he hit the grass many meters away.

    UlforceVeedramon landed in front of Examon, holding the Ulforce Sabre extending from his V-Bracelet up in front of him. “As somebody with ‘big *** wings’, I take offence to that!” he grinningly remarked.

    “Ul…force…” Examon said, looking up at him.

    “Not looking too sharp, Ex-sama,” UlforceVeedramon said, glancing over his shoulder at him swiftly before turning his attention back to Dorbickmon, who rose to his feet.

    “D-Damn it…” Dorbickmon snarled, glaring furiously at UlforceVeedramon. “You interfering, pink-winged ponce!”

    “You’ve got a thing about wings, haven’t you? You keep mentioning them,” UlforceVeedramon asked him, tilting his head with a mocking grin. “Feeling jealous?”

    Dorbickmon grunted and summoned the Tyrant Collbrande in his hands. “Okay, it looks like I’ll be taking two Royal Knights back as my prize! I ought to get a big reward for that,” he said, glaring as the flickering flames of his sword caused his facial shadows to tremble.

    “You’ll have to defeat me first,” the azure knight told him.

    “And the rest of them,” another voice added.

    Dorbickmon and Examon turned their heads and saw a crimson dragon bird swoop down beside UlforceVeedramon.

    “Grani?” Examon said, surprised to see him there as well.

    “The others will be here soon,” Grani explained, hovering beside UlforceVeedramon and looking at Dorbickmon.

    “Others?” Dorbickmon asked through gritted teeth. He swore under his breath.

    UlforceVeedramon frowned and looked at Grani with a questioning gaze. He gave UlforceVeedramon a quick glance.

    Dorbickmon scowled and stabbed his blade into the ground. “Burning the Dragon!” he shouted. The earth shook and trembled beneath the blue dragon knight’s feet. The land began to shoot up in front of them in earthy explosions as pillars and spikes of rock burst from the grass.

    “UlforceVeedramon!” Grani exclaimed, flying into the air to avoid the morphing terrain.

    UlforceVeedramon sneered and turned off his beam blade, quickly swerving around and taking Examon into his arms in an awkward carry. He flew into the air to meet with Grani as the blasts of ground continued, the bursting of pillars from the terra getting further and further away from them.

    “He’s retreating,” Grani observed calmly, watching as the rock formations burst from the ground in the distance. “He’s covering his escape.”

    “Take Examon,” UlforceVeedramon told the Zero ARMS. “I’ll pursue him.”

    Grani frowned. “I don’t wish to speak out of turn, UlforceVeedramon, but I think that would be ill-advised.”

    UlforceVeedramon glanced sideways at Grani as he clung onto Examon. “Yeah, I’m kind of sensing that,” he said. “Why did you say that the other Royal Knights were coming?”

    “Because I was bluffing. Dorbickmon looks to be a powerful individual. He already defeated Examon; there’s no guarantee that you would win on your own,” Grani explained.

    “I’m a way better close range fighter than Examon is,” UlforceVeedramon responded. “No offence, Ex-sama.”

    Examon gave a weak grunt, although he couldn’t help but feel like the way he was being carried was rather undignified. This always seemed to happen whenever UlforceVeedramon showed up to help him.

    “Besides,” UlforceVeedramon continued. “He was already worn down from their fight.”

    “Even so, we can’t gauge how much fight he has left in him. Our main priority here is rescuing Examon, and getting into an avoidable fight might jeopardize that,” Grani responded. “It would also have been a messy fight, and Examon may have been hurt in the process.”

    “It seems like a wasted opportunity, if we let one of DarkKnightmon’s allies escape…” UlforceVeedramon said. He sighed. “I guess you have a point though.”

    “Shall I take Examon?” Grani asked him.

    “Please,” UlforceVeedramon said with a light chuckle. “That Dorbickmon guy had a point; I don’t know how to carry this big jumble of limbs.” He flew over and lay Examon down on Grani’s back. “I’ll go get your weapon. Just give me a few seconds.”

    Examon nodded and watched UlforceVeedramon fly down quickly.

    “What happened, Examon?” Grani asked, glancing up at his passenger.

    “He pretended to be hurt,” Examon replied. He reached over and put his hand on the hole in his wing. He grimaced at the sensitive contact and withdrew his claws. “How did you two…?”

    “Luckily, UlforceVeedramon was helping me scout the area for traces of either Omegamon or DarkKnightmon’s group,” Grani explained. “We saw the lights of battle in the distance and UlforceVeedramon went to investigate.”

    UlforceVeedramon returned with the Ambrosius resting on his shoulder. “Okay, I’ve got it,” he explained. “Let’s head back to headquarters; you can tell us all about it after to have a nice, long visit with Dusky.”

    Examon gave a weak nod and lay back on Grani, too exhausted and pained to do much else. He felt Grani begin to fly and saw UlforceVeedramon escorting them from the side. The red dragon knight closed his eyes and released a sigh.

    Strikedramon… I can’t believe… that I did this to you…"
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

  23. #48
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    Chapter 21: Decisive Action

    Examon slowly opened his eyelids and yawned slightly. His emerald eyes had to adjust to the light of the room since they had been closed for so long. He felt a mild pain in his body, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as he last remembered it being. As he gained his bearings, Examon realized that he was still in the medical bay of the headquarters. He was sure because there was a mild, sterile smell that Examon came to associate with the room.

    He turned his head so that he was facing upwards, moving slowly so that he didn’t accidentally puncture the pillow with his two back-facing horns. It was then that he saw a familiar, black, multi-eyed figure come into his view.

    “Oh, you’re awake,” Duskmon greeted, walking over to Examon’s bed. “Good morning.”

    “Morning…?” Examon asked, confused.

    “You fell asleep as soon as UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon put you down on the bed,” the physician explained.

    “I did?” Examon asked with a wince, sounding annoyed with himself. “I didn’t have the chance to explain what happened.”

    “There’s time for that, Examon. You need to focus on resting for the time being,” Duskmon said, placing his hands on his hips. “You were in pretty bad condition when you came in here.”

    “I feel better now,” Examon said. He felt a sharp twinge of pain through his body, causing him to cringe. “For the most part… How bad was it?”

    “Your organs, bones, and digicore are all fine, thankfully; the wounds were mostly superficial. That said, you had some heavy bruising and lacerations all over, and you’re going to have a hell of a black eye,” Duskmon explained to him. “Also, we’ve bandaged that hole in your wing and treated it with a data-restorative cream. Until it’s healed, I don’t want you flying on it.”

    Examon sighed and nodded. “I do need to speak to the other knights, though.”

    “If it’s that urgent, you can tell them from bed,” Duskmon said to him. “Only a few of them, though. This is a place of healing, not a council chamber.”

    Examon gave a soft nod of resignation. “Thank you.”

    “I’ll go get them,” Duskmon told him, turning away and walking past a few other beds to the other side of the ward. As he went, his left shoulder eye glanced behind him to make sure that Examon was staying put while he was out. “Apprentice, keep an eye on Sir Examon while I’m out. And make sure that Garmmon doesn’t agitate his cut.”

    As Duskmon walked out into the large corridor, Examon closed his eyes and waited. He tried to ignore the itching sensation of the healing cream that had been put on his wings and body, particularly where the large hole was. He listened to the sounds of Duskmon’s apprentice checking on the three other patients in the medical bay.

    As much as he didn’t want to think about it, Dorbickmon kept pervading his thoughts. So many feelings were swelling underneath him, although nobody would have thought it by looking at him. Guilt was, by far, the most prominent emotion. Along with that was relief at seeing Dorbickmon alive after all, shock that he was so different, confusion at why he was working with DarkKnightmon, frustration that they were working together at all, and sadness that Dorbickmon seemed to hate him so much.

    I can’t exactly blame him…” Examon thought to himself. “After what I did to him…

    Even though he felt that way, the Royal Knight couldn’t help but be surprised that he was so militant towards him. He wouldn’t even hear him out about his side of the story, although Examon knew that he didn’t have a magic excuse that somehow made him blameless. While it was true that Dorbickmon, as a Strikedramon, accidentally brushed his Gekerin while they were play-wrestling, triggering his violent physiological response, Examon could have tried to control himself better or at least stayed around to get help for his friend. However, he didn’t, and it seemed that he was now suffering the consequences. Examon couldn’t help but feel that they were long overdue.

    The dragon opened his eyes when he heard the clamour of metal boots hitting the floor as they entered the room. He looked over and saw Alphamon, Dukemon, UlforceVeedramon, and Grani come over.

    “Did you give him enough bandages, Duskmon?” UlforceVeedramon asked with a grin. “He looks like a Mummymon. Or at least a dragon-mummy.”

    Duskmon rolled all of his eyes. “No more than necessary,” he said before going back to his duties.

    “Examon,” Alphamon greeted, smiling at him a little. “How are you feeling?”

    “Don’t worry about me,” Examon responded. “Duskmon said that none of the wounds are serious.”

    “We’re glad to hear it,” Dukemon said to him, walking over to the bed. “So Grani and Ulforce here said that you got into a fight with a Dorbickmon…”

    “Was it the same Dorbickmon as the one who fought Omegamon and I?” Alphamon questioned him.

    Examon paused. He didn’t know how much he should tell them about Dorbickmon. “It was…” Examon answered. “He admitted that he was working with DarkKnightmon, so I assume it was the same one.”

    “Who is he…?” Alphamon asked aloud, not speaking to anybody in particular.

    Examon remained quiet although his eyebrows furrowed slightly.

    “What I want to know is where you disappeared to,” Dukemon said, folding his arms as he looked at Examon. “From what we could tell, you’ve been gone since the night OuRyuumon left, two days ago.”

    “Yeah, nobody’s seen you since then,” UlforceVeedramon said. He grinned slightly. “RhodoKnightmon’s already began to fantasize about you two leaving together.”

    Alphamon rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably at the mention of OuRyuumon. He looked at Examon, wondering about the answer as well.

    The draconic Royal Knight paused for a few moments, thinking to himself. Finally, he sighed with compliance. “To be totally honest… I went after OuRyuumon,” he admitted.

    Alphamon looked at him with surprise. “You… did?” he asked.

    From Alphamon’s response, Examon couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or not. He nodded in reply. “I… saw him leaving the castle with his things so I followed him to find out what was going on…” he explained. “We stayed at an inn overnight and it wasn’t until the morning that he told me what had happened.”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat stiffened up at his words. “…And… what did he say?” he asked cautiously. As he spoke, Dukemon glanced over at Alphamon, picking up on his apprehension.

    “He just said that you and Alphamon had a fight over DarkKnightmon,” Examon explained, making sure to be vague just in case Alphamon didn’t want Dukemon, UlforceVeedramon, and Grani knowing the details about what OuRyuumon did to DarkKnightmon.

    “That’s what happened?” UlforceVeedramon asked, looking over at Alphamon and remembering his vague address to the Royal Knights about OuRyuumon leaving the Order due to ‘differences’. “That guy isn’t worth fighting over.”

    Alphamon brushed off the comment as he didn’t want to get into it then and there. “What happened?”

    Examon glanced away sheepishly. “Uh… I was trying to convince him to come back but… he and I had an argument. I decided to come home and he kept going to New Terminal.”

    “…I see…” Alphamon responded expressionlessly. “And, on your way back, you came across Dorbickmon?”

    Examon nodded with a deeper frown. “It… was like he was waiting for me…”

    “When he defeated you, it looked as if he was going to take you prisoner, similar to what happened with Omegamon,” Grani observed. “Didn’t it, UlforceVeedramon?”

    The cobalt knight nodded, folding his arms. “That’s what it looked and sounded like.”

    Alphamon frowned and rubbed his chin, trying to figure out what DarkKnightmon’s intentions were.

    “There’s something else…” Examon suddenly spoke up, as if just remembering something.

    “Yes?” the black knight asked him.

    “It was something Dorbickmon said to me after I was defeated,” the dragon said. “He said, ‘Now we have two captains and two Royal Knights.’”

    “What…?” Dukemon questioned, frowning in thought. “Two Royal Knights… That’s you and Omegamon, I guess. But two Captains…”

    Grani narrowed his eyes. “MirageGaogamon and…”

    Alphamon thought to himself. He saw Captain Knightmon just that morning, as well as the Captain of the Stealth Forces. That only left the Strike Forces. It was then that Alphamon’s eyes widened with horror.

    “OuRyuumon…” he whispered.

    “What…? No way…” Dukemon said, disbelievingly.

    “It was only a few hours since I last saw him. Was there time?” Examon questioned with concern.

    “It’s the only option,” Alphamon replied, grimacing hard at the realization. “The Captain of the Strike Forces is the only one unaccounted for. And… this is the sort of thing that DarkKnightmon would do…”

    Without another word, Alphamon turned around and strode out of the medical bay, his cape flowing behind him.

    “A-Alphamon,” Dukemon said after him, glaring angrily at the news. He clenched his fists and growled a bit. “This is the last thing he needed…”

    “You don’t really think OuRyuumon’s been captured, do you?” UlforceVeedramon asked. “He’s not the type to go down easily… Besides, he’d drive his captors crazy,” he added with a laugh. However, the laugh faded when he saw that the others were grim and silent. “So… We’ve got to figure out how to find them.”

    “Agreed…” Grani spoke. “I’m going to go call a meeting with my scouts.”

    UlforceVeedramon turned to leave as well. “I’ll go speak with the other knights.”

    Dukemon nodded. “I’ll just talk to Examon for a minute…”

    As UlforceVeedramon and Grani made their way out of the medical bay, Dukemon walked up beside Examon’s bed. He gave Examon a small smile. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a lecture about going off on your own.”

    When Dukemon saw Examon’s lack of a response, he frowned suspiciously and folded his arms. “Examon? Is something wrong?” he questioned.

    Examon closed his eyes, continuing to think to himself about what to say. “I…” He stalled. “Yes… There’s something I didn’t mention…”

    Dukemon arched an eyebrow behind his visor. “Okay… What’s that?” he asked in a diplomatic tone.

    Examon opened his eyes and they turned to look at Dukemon uncertainly. “Remember when I told you about my past?” he asked him. When Dukemon nodded in memory, Examon continued. “It’s Dorbickmon… He’s Strikedramon. The friend that I wounded and… abandoned.”

    “…You’re kidding,” Dukemon replied, looking at Examon with eyes full of disbelief. “Why do you say that?”

    “He told me,” Examon explained, a guilty cringe growing on his face. “He wasn’t lying… I recognize those passionate eyes.”

    “Unbelievable…” the crimson knight spoke, unfolding his arms and bringing one up to rub the back of his head. “That’s one hell of a coincidence…”

    “I don’t think it is a coincidence…” the bed-ridden dragon answered. He balled up his fists in momentary frustration “He really hates me, Dukemon… So much that he’s working with DarkKnightmon just to get back at me. In fact, he was the one who freed DarkKnightmon from the Dark Area in the first place.”

    “He was the one…? But how?” Dukemon asked with a sneer.

    “He used the dragon veins, I think he said,” Examon replied.

    Dukemon narrowed his eyes a little and reached over to place his hand on Examon’s shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly. “Don’t blame yourself, Examon. He chose to be a mercenary, so not all of the blame can land at your feet.”

    “No, but enough of it does. He wouldn’t have hurt anybody back before that happened,” the dragon knight replied.

    “You don’t know what else happened in his life afterwards,” Dukemon explained. “Look, don’t worry about it right now.”

    Examon grunted and lay back in the bed. “I know you’re trying to help, but that’s easier said than done.”

    “Then at least try not to think about it. Focus on resting; you think too much sometimes anyways,” Dukemon said with a grin, patting his shoulder. “We’ll talk later. You need to rest and I need to talk to Alphamon.”

    “Yeah, okay,” the dragon said, closing his eyes. “Sorry I didn’t bring OuRyuumon back. Maybe if I—“

    “Examon,” Dukemon interrupted. “If you don’t stop feeling sorry for yourself, I’m going to gag you with your pillow.”

    At this, Examon managed a grin. “Message received and understood.”

    Dukemon smirked. “Good. Now get some rest,” he told Examon. With a final pat, Dukemon turned and made his way out of the medical bay. He had a guess where Alphamon might be.

    -

    Alphamon stood out on the castle wall, leaning forwards on one of the large, stone ramparts. Heavy rain fell all around him from the dark, grey clouds that blanketed the sky. The rain poured down on him, splashing onto his armour, trickling into its gaps and soaking his skin underneath, and drenched his white and blue cape.

    He didn’t seem to be affected by the showers. He was too concerned with looking out into the distance, although he could barely see much due to the poor visibility the rain provided. However, he seemed more to be deep in thought rather than actually looking at anything in particular.

    The short, black, owl-like form of a Falcomon flew over and landed on the parapet next to Alphamon. “Alphamon, sir?” he asked. “You’re becoming soaked. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go to the pavilion where there’s shelter from the rain?”

    “I’m fine, thank you,” Alphamon assured him, making no audible indication that there was anything wrong. “Carry on, Falcomon.”

    Although uncertain, the Falcomon obeyed and continued flying along the wall, leaving Alphamon to his thoughts.

    Alphamon’s gaze softened as he stared out at the rainy landscape, water dripping down his face and body.

    First Omegamon and now OuRyuumon… Two of my best friends…” he thought to himself as a twinge of pain squeezed at his insides. “If only I had been stronger… better…

    Alphamon tensed up when he felt a hand press against his back. He turned his head and looked over his shoulder to see the familiar red and white form of Dukemon standing there.

    Despite the rain, Dukemon smiled and walked up beside Alphamon. “It’s a bit wet to be enjoying the view, isn’t it?” he asked him, keeping his hand on the Lord of the Empty Seat’s back. He looked over at Alphamon, seeing his cape matted against his back. “You’ll be able to squeeze a whole lake out of that cape.”

    “I don’t mind,” Alphamon replied.

    Dukemon stood beside him, his own cape and hair getting soaked from the rain as well. “Should I ask how you are or is that a stupid question?”

    “Stupid question…” Alphamon said, sighing and looking down at the grass far below the wall. “It’s all my fault.”

    “You’re the second guy to say that to me today. I swear, there’s something about knights and guilt-complexes,” Dukemon replied with a touch of levity in his voice. “So, why is it your fault?”

    “All of those things I said to OuRyuumon,” Alphamon responded with narrowing eyes. “I told him to leave the Order. I gave DarkKnightmon the opportunity to attack him while he was alone. Now, who knows what’s going to happen to him?”

    “Just like Omegamon’s capture is your fault, right?” Dukemon asked him, his tone now sarcastic.

    Alphamon balled up his fists. “Wasn’t it, Dukemon? I insisted on going after DarkKnightmon alone.”

    “Alphamon, stop it,” Dukemon said to his friend sharply. “Stop this thing that you do where you take all the responsibility onto your own shoulders. I know you feel that, because you’re the Lord of the Empty Seat, you have greater responsibilities and you have to deal with things alone, but you don’t. We’re all in this with you, and none of this is your fault. Sure, maybe you could have handled certain things better, but nobody’s perfect. We’re a team and the purpose of a team is supporting each other and making up for others’ shortcomings. That’s what you’re always saying to the new members, isn’t it?”

    Alphamon paused. After a few short moments of mulling over Dukemon’s words, he sighed. “I know… I know what you’re saying is true. I’ve just been feeling like everything I’ve done has been wrong recently. I can’t help but feel like a failure when I can’t even protect my second in command or partner.” He frowned. “Maybe I should have killed DarkKnightmon back then…”

    “I don’t think you mean that… A lot of us would have lost a load of respect for you if you had done that, I think,” Dukemon told him, rubbing his back. “Anyways… Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to help anything. Do you think Omegamon or OuRyuumon would want you standing out in the rain, sulking?”

    “No…” Alphamon responded, closing his eyes and standing up straight.

    Dukemon turned to face him fully, the rain still pouring down on their bodies. “I’m not telling you to close off your emotions and become a machine. I’m the last person who would tell you to do that,” he assured him. “It’s just that this isn’t the right outlet.”

    Alphamon turned to face him as well. “I know. You’re right.”

    Dukemon smiled warmly at him and let his hand rest on Alphamon’s shoulder. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right? And the other Royal Knights too… well… maybe not Duftmon, but all of them are your friends.”

    Alphamon smiled a bit. “Yes… I know.”

    After his words, there was a silence between them, filled only the sounds of the rain pattering against their armour and the stone wall.

    “…I miss him,” he wistfully admitted. “Both of them…”

    Dukemon closed the gap between them and pressed his arms around Alphamon’s caped and armoured body, embracing him and patting his back. “I know, Alphamon.”

    Alphamon stalled for a moment before returning the hug, gripping Dukemon’s back before pulling away. “…Thank you,” Alphamon said to his friend, looking into his eyes gratefully. “I think I needed that pep talk.”

    Dukemon chuckled and placed his hands on his hips. “I’m getting used to it,” he explained. The crimson knight looked up at the clouds, which continued to torrent rain. “Why don’t we go inside? At this rate, I’m going to drown in my own armour.”

    Alphamon managed a smirk and nodded. “You and me both,” he agreed, turning and beginning to head across the bridge behind them, heading towards one of the towers of the main building. “I need to find the Captain of the Stealth Forces anyways. We’ll need both his spies and Grani’s scouts.”

    “Karatenmon?” Dukemon asked, walking up alongside him. “Maybe you should ask him to enlist the help of his ninja friends as well. I’m sure he’d be willing to.”

    “We’ll have to see…” Alphamon responded. “As much as I might like to, I don’t want to send the whole Order out looking for Omegamon and OuRyuumon. It wouldn’t be practical to draw monpower away from other areas just to look for them. We need to maintain the day-to-day routine as much as possible so that we don’t create cracks in our defences that DarkKnightmon can exploit.”

    “It’s nice to see that you’re still not leading with your emotions,” Dukemon observed with a smile. “Even though I personally think that acting with your heart can sometimes be a good thing.”

    Alphamon nodded. “You’re not wrong, but I think that that’s what DarkKnightmon is hoping for. All of these attacks have been very personal, but I can’t let them affect me since I’m almost positive that that’s what he wants.”

    “Good. That’s the spirit,” Dukemon said, placing his hand on Alphamon’s wet shoulder as they passed over the bridge. As they reached the door on the opposite side and went in to take shelter from the rain, Dukemon moved his hand and looked over at Alphamon. “We’ll get them both back, Alphamon. Royal Knights never leave other Royal Knights in their times of need, after all.”

    “Yes…” Alphamon replied, closing his eyes. “You’re right. We will.”

    -

    OuRyuumon drew hoarse, haggard breaths from his mouth. His nostrils were too clotted up with dried blood for him to breathe through them. Every time he sucked in and blew out, his chest ached and trembled.

    He remained barely standing in the repurposed dining room. The dragon Digimon was in bad shape. His arms were still bound and suspended above his head by the chrome digizoid chains, which connected to a rung on the ceiling. His wrists itched from all the struggling and the friction of the metal. Blood trickled from his draconic mouth and nose down to his chin and neck. Most of it had since dried and was caked to his face. His body was bruised all over and there was the odd cut from where an edge of DarkKnightmon’s gauntlets got hooked on his scales. OuRyuumon felt like one of his ribs might be broken, but he was in no condition to check. He was so exhausted and pained that he was barely able to keep himself on his feet.

    DarkKnightmon had laid into him for a good thirty or forty minutes, using him as a punching bag. When he had enough, he left somewhere. OuRyuumon didn’t know where.

    This hadn’t been in OuRyuumon’s plans at all. He was supposed to go and defeat DarkKnightmon to show Alphamon that it was a mistake to dismiss him from the Order. But now he was DarkKnightmon’s prisoner before he had even had the chance to act on his mission. His humiliation was only outweighed by his frustration.

    The sound of the door slowly creaking open drew his attention. OuRyuumon weakly raised his head, just a few centimeters, and looked up with a glare.

    To his surprise, it wasn’t DarkKnightmon, Dorbickmon, MirageGaogamon, or even Omegamon Zwart who appeared. It was a skinny, humanoid Digimon. He was dressed in white clothing and he wore a white, wolf-shaped helmet atop his beige-skinned, blond-haired head. The Wolfmon looked around the room nervously before walking inside.

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth and eyed the Wolfmon suspiciously as he made his way inside the room.

    “OuRyuumon, sir…” he said nervously, walking over and stopping several meters away from him. The guilt and distress was obvious on Wolfmon’s facial features.

    OuRyuumon narrowed his eyes a bit. “You’re… the new mayor… of Lupolford… aren’t you?” he wheezed, still trying to catch his breath and find a way to speak without the stabbing pain in his serpentine body.

    “Y…Yes…” Wolfmon responded, looking down at his feet. “I’m so sorry about this.”

    “About what…?” OuRyuumon asked, sneering in a way that revealed his sharp, bloody teeth. “Oh… You mean about letting them use your town hall as their home base to attack the Royal Knights? I don’t think ‘sorry’s gonna cut it!” he shouted. OuRyuumon suddenly winced and tried to curl up as a stabbing pain shot through his body from his previous injuries.

    Wolfmon grimaced and looked away from him in shame. “I… I have no choice…” he told him apologetically. “Dorbickmon said that if I told anybody about what they’re doing, he’d burn the town to the ground.”

    “Tch…” OuRyuumon scoffed, still breathing heavily. “He’s bluffing… If he did that… the Royal Knights would come down on them like a lightning bolt.”

    “I can’t take that risk… I’m responsible for everybody here,” Wolfmon explained.

    OuRyuumon growled weakly. “So, what are you here for?” he asked curtly.

    “I was just wondering… uhh… what you wanted to eat…” he admitted sheepishly.

    The dragon Digimon eyed him with his sharp, purple eyes. “Why? Isn’t it DarkKnightmon’s job to feed his prisoner? Or are they afraid I might bite their hands off?”

    “All four of them left together an hour ago,” Wolfmon explained. “They left me in charge of the town hall while they’re gone. I wasn’t sure if they’ve been feeding you, so…”

    “In that case… I’m kinda hoping that you free me…” OuRyuumon told him, although it left an incredibly sour taste in his mouth to say.

    The mayor looked away. “I’m sorry… but I can’t.”

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth. “I know you’re worried about what they’ll do, but is what you’re doing now any better?” he asked him. He tugged against the chains. “You’re just going along with whatever they say! How’s that gonna make you look after all this is over? Like a spineless coward who betrayed the Royal Knights.”

    Wolfmon winced. “Maybe… but that’s a lot better than a mayor who got his town burned down and his citizens killed.”

    “It doesn’t have to end up like that!” OuRyuumon urged him, although cringing with pain. “There’re other ways!”

    “I don’t see how…” Wolfmon muttered. He finally forced himself to turn and look at OuRyuumon. “Believe me. I want to help you, but no matter which way you cut it, if you’re gone when they come back, whatever excuse I give won’t make a difference. It’ll be the town that pays for it.”

    “Not if I can fly back to the castle and tell them what happened in time,” OuRyuumon insisted, balling up his gloved fists.”Then the Royal Knights can hurry here and stop them from doing anything to the town, not to mention uncover their base of operations.”

    “You’re barely able to stand, sir, let alone fly,” Wolfmon said to him with a sad, defeated, and sceptical look.

    “I can fly just fine once the chains are off of them,” OuRyuumon maintained, frowning harder.

    “I’m sorry… I can’t risk it. I have no idea how long they’re gone for. It could just be for a few hours,” Wolfmon explained, scratching his blond hair. “They could come back and find you missing before you even got back to your headquarters.”

    OuRyuumon growled with frustration. “Come on, Wolfmon!” he told him heatedly. “The Royal Knights made you the mayor for a reason, and that’s saying a hell of a lot after what the last guy tried to do. You’re the mayor so think of something! You’ve got more authority than the average Digimon, so there’s gotta be something you can think of. I’ve gotta warn them about what DarkKnightmon did to Omegamon!”

    Wolfmon grimaced at his words. “I… I’ll…” He frowned with a sudden determination. “I’ll see what I can do.”

    “Just don’t take too long,” OuRyuumon told him, looking down at him. “There isn’t a lot of time.”

    Mayor Wolfmon nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind…” he replied. He sheepishly looked at the former Captain. “In the meantime… Are you hungry?”

    “No… I’ll probably end up puking it up,” OuRyuumon responded, thinking about the throbbing in his stomach and abdomen from the beating he took. “I’ll just have some water. Try to focus on figuring something out.”

    “I’ll do my best,” Wolfmon told him. He gave OuRyuumon a brave look and then turned around to walk out of the room, closing the door behind him.

    OuRyuumon took the opportunity to wince and slump forwards a bit. Now that Wolfmon was gone, he allowed his weakness to show again. He felt as though he was going to throw up even without food inside him. The upper half of his body was very numb with pain and he had little blood flow in his hands. His insides felt tender from DarkKnightmon’s vicious pummelling. He hissed and panted with staggered breaths.

    Damnit…” OuRyuumon thought to himself. “Alphamon… **** my pride. I just want to get back to you and make sure you’re okay.

    -

    “So, you’re telling us that OuRyuumon’s been taken prisoner by DarkKnightmon and them too?”

    Dynasmon folded his arms as he looked at Alphamon and Dukemon, frowning angrily at what they had told them. Around him were the other Royal Knights minus Examon, who was still recuperating. Magnamon, RhodoKnightmon, Craniamon, Sleipmon, UlforceVeedramon, and Duftmon all looked at them. The brief silence that ensued was accentuated by the drumming of raindrops against the council room’s tall, stained glass window of Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.

    “We believe that’s the case,” Alphamon said grimly.

    “That fool,” Duftmon said with a scowl. “Now DarkKnightmon has two pieces of leverage over us.”

    “Two of our friends, you mean,” Dynasmon corrected, looking at the leopard knight with a sideways leer.

    “Regardless,” Duftmon spoke. “They still have two hostages that they can do what they like with. Our strategies have to be heedful of that. They might use them as bargaining chips or shields or bait… any number of possibilities.”

    “Thanks a lot for that, Duftmon,” UlforceVeedramon dryly said. “Great morale booster.”

    “I am simply being realistic,” the tactician explained, placing his hands on his hips.

    “How’re Grani and his scouts doing?” Craniamon asked, looking over at Dukemon. “The longer we sit around as they search, the more time we give the enemy.”

    “They’re doing their best, Craniamon,” Dukemon explained. “They’re searching all over and asking around. We’ve got some of the Stealth Forces working on it too. The Strike Forces have also been putting up wanted posters all over the Free Area.”

    “I’d like to put a new rule into effect until this crisis is resolved,” Alphamon spoke up. “No Royal Knight goes out of our territory alone. It seems like DarkKnightmon is trying to take us down one-by-one, as evidenced by the capture of Omegamon, OuRyuumon, and the attempted capture of Examon.”

    “What?” Craniamon complained, leering at Alphamon indignantly. “I do not need a babysitter.”

    “Be reasonable, Craniamon,” Magnamon said to him. “If Omegamon and Alphamon were taken down, then any of us could be if we’re not careful.”

    “Tch,” the violet knight scoffed. “I don’t see how they can possibly be that powerful.”

    “They’re no stronger than any of us,” Alphamon explained. “However, DarkKnightmon knows how to make the most of Digimons’ skills and abilities, and more importantly, how to exploit their weaknesses. He’s not invincible, but he’s not to be underestimated. That’s why I think that these precautions are necessary.”

    “Very well,” Duftmon conceded with an audible sigh. “It makes sense to me, so long as I’m not paired up with Dynasmon.”

    “Oh, but you and he make such a cute couple!” RhodoKnightmon remarked playfully.

    “Disgusting!” Dynasmon yelled out in outrage at the prospect.

    “We make no such thing!” Duftmon countered irritably. “Keep your abnormal fantasies to yourself, RhodoKnightmon. This is a serious meeting.”

    “Apologies, of course,” the pink knight dismissively said. “So, what should we do about the current crisis, exactly? Until the scouts or spies find out where Omegamon is being held, we can’t exactly mount an effort to rescue him.”

    Dynasmon frowned and placed his large hands on his hips. “We can’t just keep waiting while DarkKnightmon is doing who-knows-what to Omegamon.”

    “We may not have to,” a voice behind Dynasmon said suddenly.

    “Gah!” Dynasmon shouted, jerking with surprise and whirling around.

    Behind him was a humanoid bird Digimon covered with feathers as black as the night sky, primarily at his shoulders and the two, large wings that sprouted from his back. His lean form was covered in violet chest armour, which matched his avian helmet and his wrist and ankle bracers. Around his waist was a belt that held two sword sheathes, one on each side of his hips. The sheathes rested against a pale brown cloth wrapped around his waist, over a pair of white pants. His feathers and clothes were dripping wet, as if he had just been out in the rain, and there was a trail of water drops leading from the doors to the great hall. Despite this, the Karatenmon’s red eyes looked at Dynasmon with a calm but whimsical look.

    “Damn it, Karatenmon!” Dynasmon exclaimed. “I know you’re a ninja and all, but stop sneaking up like that!”

    Karatenmon smirked. “Sorry, Dynasmon. Force of habit,” he replied, although he didn’t sound that sorry.

    Alphamon looked over at the humanoid crow Digimon inquisitively; it was Karatenmon, the Captain of the Stealth Forces. “Karatenmon? What do you mean?”

    Karatenmon folded his arms. “I intercepted a messenger who was on his way here from Lupolford.”

    “Lupolford?” Magnamon asked. “He flew from there in this weather?”

    “He said that Mayor Wolfmon told him it was a message of the utmost priority,” the corvid captain explained. “And that he needed it delivered at all costs.”

    Karatenmon took a leather pouch that hung from his belt and opened it up. He reached his avian claws inside and took out a rolled up scroll of paper, bound by a black ribbon. He walked over and presented it to Alphamon. “I think it’s worth looking at,” he told Alphamon with a meaningful gaze.

    Alphamon arched an eyebrow and untied the ribbon, opening up the scroll and reading the digilettering written down on it. His eyes scrolled across the page. “He wants us to change the date of the Lupolford inspection from a few months’ time to tomorrow.”

    “…And that’s important how?” Dynasmon asked, placing his hands on his hips.

    “It is a rather odd request…” Duftmon determined. “To expedite an inspection so quickly and at such short notice.”

    Alphamon glanced at Karatenmon. “It’s almost as if there’s something that he wants us to inspect…” he observed, his words lingering.

    Karatenmon nodded slowly. “It does seem that way, doesn’t it?” The crow man Digimon took a step back and bowed politely. “I’ll await your orders, whatever you decide.”

    The captain of the stealth forces walked away from the Royal Knights and quietly made his way out to the great hall.

    “What’s that about?” Dynasmon asked with an arched eyebrow, feeling confused. “What’s he getting at?”

    “I think Karatenmon thinks that the Mayor is trying to send us a subtle message… something to do with DarkKnightmon or Omegamon and OuRyuumon,” Alphamon explained. He rubbed his chin with his fingers. “I’m inclined to believe him.”

    “There could be a different reason why he wants to change the inspection date,” Sleipmon suggested.

    “I don’t think so,” Alphamon replied, bringing his hand down and tapping the letter. “At the end, Wolfmon says, ‘if the issue arises, you insisted that we changed the date.’”

    “My, that is strange…” RhodoKnightmon observed.

    Dukemon nodded and narrowed his eyes. “It’s as if he’s being threatened…”

    “So… What?” Craniamon asked. “You think that DarkKnightmon and them are holing up in Lupolford and threatening Wolfmon to keep them quiet?”

    “Yes, I believe so,” Alphamon said.

    Duftmon folded his arms and thought to himself. “That does line up with my theory…” he said. “It seemed like they were residing somewhere within the Free Area, given the pattern of their movements.”

    “Suppose this is all a trap,” UlforceVeedramon suggested. “Maybe they threatened Wolfmon into writing that letter so that they could draw some of us to Lupolford in order to capture us, if that’s what they’re trying to do.”

    “It’s possible…” Alphamon admitted. “Though that still means there’s something going on in that town.”

    “I think we should do the inspection,” Dukemon stated, turning and looking at Alphamon. “We just need to be careful. What do you think?”

    Alphamon nodded. “I don’t mind going to check it out.”

    “Foolish idea,” Duftmon remarked. “Many of DarkKnightmon’s actions seem focused on you, Alphamon. You going would be playing into his hands, if this is, indeed, a trap. At any rate, you’re hurt.”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat raised an eyebrow. “Are you worried about me, Duftmon?”

    “Hmph,” Duftmon spoke, turning his gaze away. “You simply cannot act at maximum combat efficiency with those wounds you sustained. It is the same reason why Examon cannot go.”

    Alphamon smiled a little. “Very well… I’ll stay here,” he spoke. He thought to himself. “As much as I don’t want to…

    “Then who will go?” RhodoKnightmon asked, placing his hands on his hips.

    “In case this is a trap, I don’t feel comfortable picking any of you,” Alphamon said. “Are there any volunteers? Keep in mind that a team of at least three is mandatory.”

    “I’ll go,” UlforceVeedramon said, raising his hand nonchalantly.

    “Me too,” Craniamon stated determinedly. “I’d like to have a crack at these guys.”

    “Don’t go in to start a fight,” Alphamon told him. “Omegamon and OuRyuumon’s rescue is the top priority. We also don’t necessarily know that they’re there, so treat this as a scouting mission.”

    Craniamon sighed. “Fine.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Who else? One or two more should do.”

    “I’ll go,” Dynasmon offered. “You need someone there who knows what DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon are capable of.”

    “I’ll go too,” Sleipmon offered. “To balance things out.”

    “That is satisfactory,” Duftmon said, looking the group of four over with folded arms and a meticulous gaze. “Speed, defence, offence, and range. I can attempt to come up with a plan, but as this is a covert scouting mission under the guise of a routine inspection, there’s only so much that I am able to do.”

    “It’s really no different from what we usually do during inspections,” Dukemon explained. “We always have to be extra aware in order to spot things that are out of place. The only difference is that we’re looking for Omegamon and OuRyuumon.”

    “It’s also more exciting, for another thing,” RhodoKnightmon added.

    “Our last inspection wasn’t exciting enough?” Sleipmon asked with a small grin.

    “Oh, it could have been more exciting if you took me up on my offer,” RhodoKnightmon teased him.

    “What offer’s this?” UlforceVeedramon questioned, a smirk growing on his face.

    “You don’t want to know,” Sleipmon sheepishly replied. “Anyways, there’s another difference too. This could be a trap and they could be using civilian Digimon has hostages, not to mention Omegamon and OuRyuumon.”

    Alphamon nodded. “That means you four will need to be extra careful,” he explained. “Omegamon and OuRyuumon will probably have tried to leave clues, and you’ll need to be wary of an ambush.”

    “Got it,” Craniamon replied affirmatively.

    “Won’t it seem weird having four Royal Knights going for a single inspection?” Dynasmon asked. “We usually assign two at the most, not counting if things turn ugly. It might look suspicious.”

    “We’ll just say that we want to be extra careful. It makes sense, given the mistake during the last inspection, when we missed that Anubismon was planning to attack the UDC,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    “Yeah, I guess that’s believable,” the violet dragon man conceded.

    “The first thing we should do is talk to Mayor Wolfmon at the town hall,” UlforceVeedramon told them.

    “We’ll also need to determine the possible places where they could be holding them,” Sleipmon suggested.

    “We can take advantage of Karatenmon’s stealth forces for that,” Magnamon pointed out. “They’ve probably learned to keep an eye out for the scouts, but DarkKnightmon shouldn’t know about our stealth forces since they’re not common knowledge and they were brought in after he was exiled to the Dark Area. We could send a spy in.”

    “I guess we could, but we’re headed to Lupolford tomorrow anyways,” Dynasmon replied.

    “An extra set of eyes couldn’t hurt,” Magnamon said to him. “The spy could look around today and tomorrow and then meet up with your group when you arrive. With any luck, they’d be able to tell you if it’s a trap or if Omegamon and OuRyuumon are there.”

    “I guess that’d be fine, as long as they didn’t get caught,” Dynasmon replied.

    “That is the idea behind the role of a spy,” Duftmon sarcastically told him, earning him a sneer from Dynasmon.

    “I believe that’s a good idea,” Alphamon agreed, placing his hand on Magnamon’s shoulder. He turned to look at Dynasmon. “Dynasmon? Since you’re the most familiar with DarkKnightmon and MirageGaogamon, I want you to be the team leader during this mission.”

    “Got it, Alphamon,” Dynasmon agreed.

    “This should be fun,” UlforceVeedramon joked, elbowing Dynasmon playfully.

    Dynasmon elbowed him back a little too hard, causing the cobalt dragon to stumble a bit. “Don’t have a problem, Ulforce, do you?” he asked him with a grin.

    “Not at all,” UlforceVeedramon responded, rubbing his sore bicep. “As long as you don’t sleep through the day tomorrow or accidentally blow up the city hall.”

    “I think I know how to control my attacks,” he replied, giving Ulforce a sideways glance.

    “Hopefully it won’t have to come to attacks,” Alphamon told them. “So, it’s Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon, and Sleipmon?” When he received nods, Alphamon placed his hands on his hips. “In that case, Dukemon, Magnamon, RhodoKnightmon, Duftmon, and I will remain here.”

    Duftmon nodded. “I will have a look at the maps and layout of Lupolford and try to determine some points of interest for you and the spy to check out.”

    “Then I suppose the meeting’s finished,” the black knight spoke. “I’ll talk to Captain Karatenmon about who to send as a spy. Duftmon, summon us to the war room when you’re ready.”

    “Very well,” Duftmon concurred, beginning to make his way out of the council room.

    Craniamon looked at Sleipmon, UlforceVeedramon, and Dynasmon. “Looks like I’ll be the only one needing to go to the blacksmith for weapon touch ups.”

    “I was thinking of asking Asuramon to have a look at my armour and shield, actually,” Sleipmon told him, trotting over to the violet-armoured Royal Knight. “I could use some new bolts for the Muspullsheimr too.”

    Craniamon gave him a short nod. “Let’s go then.”

    Sleipmon and Craniamon were the next to leave the room, and the rest of the Royal Knights soon began to disperse after them.

    Alphamon went off in search of Karatenmon to discuss what had been decided.

    Magnamon, Dynasmon, and Dukemon watched as he made his way down the great hall, before they turned into a door leading to one of the side hallways. Magnamon looked up at Dynasmon as they walked down the torch-lit corridor.

    “Do you think you’ll be able to fight DarkKnightmon if it comes to that?” he asked him.

    “I’ll have to,” Dynasmon answered. “We may have been friends once, but not anymore. He crossed the line when he betrayed us, and he crossed it again when he took Omegamon. There won’t be any holding back this time.”

    “Except if the fight breaks out in the middle of Lupolford,” Dukemon pointed out.

    “Yeah, except that…” Dynasmon complied, sighing.

    “Good luck all the same,” Magnamon said. “Hopefully you guys will be able to rescue Omegamon and OuRyuumon without having to fight him.”

    “Yeah, I guess so…” Dynasmon responded. “To be honest, I’d just like this to be over with once and for all.”

    “I do too, but we can’t rush things,” the golden knight explained. “Especially not with DarkKnightmon.”

    “On the other hand, the more time we give him to strategize, the harder it’ll be for us,” Dukemon countered.

    “I guess there’s that argument,” Magnamon admitted.

    “So, if I have to chance to take him down, do I take it?” Dynasmon asked.

    “Your call, but the priority is to rescue Omegamon and OuRyuumon, right?” Dukemon said to him.

    “Yeah, okay,” the bulky dragon man replied. “Anyways… want to go to the leisure room until the kitty calls me for the strategy meeting?”

    “Sure thing,” Dukemon said with a grin. “Just don’t go into the meeting angry if I kick your *** at darts.”

    -

    The rain fell in torrents across the grassy landscape as three figures made their way down a path to a small, wayside town.

    DarkKnightmon lead the way through the grey haze of water pellets cascading from the dark clouds overhead. The rain drenched his black mantle and trickled down his jagged armour.

    Behind him walked MirageGaogamon, who was similarly soaked and looking none-too-happy about it. Trailing him was Omegamon Zwart, who looked at the town ahead of them suspiciously.

    “Are you sure about this?” he asked DarkKnightmon, looking past MirageGaogamon to the leading Digimon.

    “We need a place to stay for the night,” DarkKnightmon insisted, entering the town and making his way towards the nearby inn. “Unless you want to sleep in the rain or, more importantly, out in the open where the Knights’ scouts will be able to spot us.”

    Omegamon Zwart nodded, although he still had doubts.

    DarkKnightmon, MirageGaogamon, and Omegamon Zwart stopped in front of the door to the inn. The doors were big in order to accommodate larger Digimon. Orange light could be seen through the obscured windows and loud, raucous chatter could be heard inside. DarkKnightmon turned to MirageGaogamon.

    “We had better take on alternate forms,” he told him.

    “Understood, Sir,” MirageGaogamon answered, closing his eyes. His armoured, azure form became engulfed in light and he shrunk in size a little bit. He turned into a blue-furred wolfman Digimon garbed in white and black clothing. Over his shoulder was a large red belt that was quickly buffeted by rain drops.

    DarkKnightmon observed his MachGaogamon form for a moment. “MachGaogamon should be less conspicuous,” he said before becoming engulfed in light himself. “Xros Open.”

    His bulky, knightly form split into two, separating into two separate entities: SkullKnightmon and DeadlyAxemon.

    SkullKnightmon landed at the base of the door and looked up at MachGaogamon. “Shall we?” he asked him.

    MachGaogamon nodded and walked to the door, pushing it open. He walked inside and made his way over to the front counter.

    SkullKnightmon began walking after him. “Come along, DeadlyAxemon,” he said to the bladed monster next to him.

    “Got it,” DeadlyAxemon responded, sliding alongside him into the inn, out of the rain.

    Omegamon Zwart walked after them. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a poster on the wall of the tavern. It was a ‘wanted’ poster with a well-drawn picture of DarkKnightmon on it, promising a reward for useful information about him. He made a mental note to get rid of that later.

    SkullKnightmon and DeadlyAxemon stopped beside MachGaogamon and looked up at the inn desk.

    “Two medium-sized double rooms, please,” MachGaogamon told the innkeeper.

    The Grizzmon innkeeper stood on his hind legs and looked the group over, particularly finding Omegamon Zwart curious. “Sure thing… Any special considerations needed?”

    “No, thank you,” SkullKnightmon answered. “Can we have a breakfast included, as well?”

    “’Course. No problem,” the Grizzmon said, meandering over to get them their keys to their rooms. “You’ll have rooms 17 and 18.” He made his way back and placed the keys on the desk before marking the new guests down. “Enjoy your stay.”

    “Thank you,” SkullKnightmon courteously replied, bowing his short, stocky body slightly.

    He looked to the others and they began to head up the staircase to their rooms.

    “Think they’ll recognize us?” DeadlyAxemon asked as he climbed the staircase, behind SkullKnightmon.

    “Doubtful,” SkullKnightmon replied. “They would likely only consider us if they were actively looking.”

    “Let’s hope so,” Omegamon Zwart said shortly as they reached the second level.

    The group of four began to walk down the hallway towards their rooms. “Who’s rooming with whom?” MachGaogamon asked, glancing at SkullKnightmon.

    “I will be staying with DeadlyAxemon,” SkullKnightmon told him, gesturing to the big, metal demon beside him.

    “Naturally,” DeadlyAxemon added, glancing over his shoulder at MachGaogamon.

    “You two will be fine together, I take it,” SkullKnightmon said, glancing at MachGaogamon and Omegamon Zwart.

    “Yes sir,” MachGaogamon responded dutifully.

    “Fine by me,” Omegamon Zwart complied.

    “Good…” SkullKnightmon stopped in front of his room and looked to MachGaogamon to unlock it.

    MachGaogamon put the key in the lock and twisted it, unlocking the door. He pushed it open and lead the way inside. SkullKnightmon and DeadlyAxemon followed. Omegamon Zwart entered last and closed the door behind him.

    It was a small room with two beds on each side. Between the two beds was a table with a candle, which MachGaogamon went to light. The rain pounded the window and obscured the outside from their view.

    “Why didn’t Dorbickmon come again, Sir?” MachGaogamon asked, side-glancing at SkullKnightmon.

    “Because his abilities are unsuitable for this particular mission, especially if this rain keeps up,” SkullKnightmon replied. “Besides, he said he had other things to do.”

    “It’s not like you to let him take liberties, Sir,” the wolf man pointed out.

    “The former was more important than the latter, Captain,” the short knight spoke. “There is also the fact that I don’t trust OuRyuumon alone for too long.”

    MachGaogamon nodded. “I understand. So, what is this mission, exactly?”

    “I want to test the Royal Knights’ current battle strength,” SkullKnightmon explained.

    “What do you propose?” Omegamon Zwart asked. “I already know their general numbers and how they operate.”

    “I would rather test them in actual combat,” SkullKnightmon replied. “It’s good to see how they react on the defensive, in response to a surprise attack. It’s also a good chance to deliver a blow to the Order’s morale.”

    “By attacking the Royal Knights’ castle directly,” DeadlyAxemon said with a smirk, already knowing SkullKnightmon’s plan.

    “That’s… a bold plan,” MachGaogamon said with surprise. “The headquarters is a fortress…”

    “We don’t have to take the castle,” SkullKnightmon assured him. “We just have to deliver a solid blow to them and then retreat when the tide begins to turn. A simple hit-and-retreat attack. If we strike right at their heart, they will see that they’re not invincible and more doubt will grow in their minds. They couldn’t protect their own knights. We will show them that they can’t even protect their home.” SkullKnightmon turned and looked at Omegamon Zwart. “Or their honour as Royal Knights.”

    Behind his helmet, SkullKnightmon smiled darkly.

    “Soon, they will realize that they cannot protect a single thing…” He closed his eyes. “And that… that will be the end of the Royal Knights.”
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Chapter 21 is up.

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