None of the Digimon here seem to have…noticed. This was the thought that barged its way into my mind every time I had gotten rid of it. Or maybe they do? Or maybe their boss will notice, and he won’t let me join…Damn it, Zelda, you shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up! Stupid, stupid, stupid—
Thomas opened the large door and held it for me and Statuedramon to enter the headquarters. In spite of the withered and ancient appearance of the fortress, the door closed shut with a smooth but loud thud. The room was much smaller than the lounge area of the fortress, but still rather spacious, and nearly empty, save for a single bookcase crammed full of books, a desk, and a large bed lining the room’s left wall where a tall Digimon I could only assume was their boss sat, looking at the three of us with interest.
Directly across from the door was a large, closed window with a pair of ornately decorated curtains.
“We’re back, boss,” Statuedramon said.
“Statch, Statch, Statch! Where is your sense of adventure?!” the Digimon asked. “You call me boss all the time! Try calling me—”
“I refuse to address you as ‘Your Majesty,’” Statuedramon said dryly.
“Or ‘You Highness!’”
“…Glad to see you both made it back,” the large Digimon smiled at Thomas and Statuedramon. “Now, what took so long?”
“I apologize, sir; the rumors we heard about the bandit leader’s whereabouts proved to be false,” Thomas said. “We were able to find him, though; he had taken up residence in Linnea Village.”
“It’s all thanks to this young lady that we were able to do it,” Statuedramon looked over at me as he spoke.
“A pleasure to meet you, Milady,” the Digimon said, standing up. “I am Apollomon the ‘King.’”
“Oh, no; I—I didn’t really do that much,” I said, nervously shaking the large Digimon’s hand. I could feel myself blushing, which made me feel even more nervous.
“It might not seem that way to you, but really, you did a lot,” Thomas said. “If you hadn’t found us, we would have been killed by that Minotarumon for certain.”
“And don’t forget about Candlemon and Meramon,” Statuedramon added. “If you hadn’t summoned Gallantmon, Etemon would’ve killed them for sure!”
“Summoned?” Apollomon looked at me curiously. “Are you perchance…a Summoner?”
“Yes, sir,” I said shyly. Maybe…maybe he doesn’t notice, after all… “And if it isn’t a problem, Mr. Apollomon, sir, I would like to join your guild.”
“…Tell me; why is it you wish to join us?” Apollomon asked.
“I’m looking for my sister,” I replied. “We’ve been separated for over five years, and after traveling nearly all over Arcadia, I haven’t found any sign of her. I thought maybe if I joined a guild like this one, where its members travel around a lot, I might be able to find her easier…”
“Sounds like you’ve been through a lot,” Apollomon said.
“I…don’t have any way of knowing if she’s still alive or not,” I said. “Please, sir…let me join your guild...”
“Okay.” I looked up at the Mega Digimon, startled by his quick response. “You need help; it would be remiss of me to deny you that much, especially after all you’ve done to help out those two, and it’s always nice to have someone like you, who unquestionably cares for her allies, join us.”
“Th—Thank you, sir,” I politely bowed toward Apollomon. “I promise; I’ll do everything I can to be useful to you and your honorable guild!”
“Think nothing of it,” the Mega Digimon said casually. “The reason our group exists is to help out others in need; now, get that memorized.” I nodded. “Take that to heart, and never back down from a challenge, no matter how tough it may be to overcome. Always remember that real power comes from your heart, and is backed by an unwavering courage.”
“Now, is there anything you’d like me to do for you? Anything you need?” Apollomon asked.
“…No, sir. Not at the moment, sir.”
“Very well, then. But don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, okay?” Zelda nodded. “My dear…I bid you welcome to Lachesis. Welcome, Zelda…the ‘Bishop.’”
“Thank you very much, sir.”
“It’s not a problem at all,” Apollomon smiled. “Statuedramon!”
“Yeah, what is it?” the Rookie asked.
“If you’d be so kind, could you escort this young lady to a suitable lodging?”
“Yes, sir,” Statuedramon gave the larger Digimon a rather lazy salute.
Statuedramon led Zelda out of the room and up one of the flights of stairs nearby as Apollomon got up off his bed and walked over to the window.
“Aren’t you going with them, Thomas?” he asked me.
“…Under no circumstances is she to be ordered to harm another living being,” I said. “Do I make myself clear?”
“…Are you giving me an order? That’s rich,” Apollomon snorted. When I didn’t say anything, Apollomon turned around. “I never had any intention of turning her into a murderer…like I did with you.”
“With all due respect, sir, it was another who turned me into a killer,” I said. “At the very least, she gave me the ability and the nerve to kill someone, and the weapon to do it with.”
“Fair enough,” Apollomon laughed to himself. “Was that all? Or…was there something else you wished to discuss?”
“Sir…what can you tell me about quintessence?”
Apollomon turned to face me. “And just why would you want to know about something like that?!”
“While we were on our way back from Linnea, we stopped in Cyclamen City. There, we fought a Digimon called Devimon,” I said.
“Devimon? I thought he was just a legend,” Apollomon mused.
“Well, that’s what we all thought about Deckerdramon, but he turned out to be real,” I replied. “The Devimon…he told me he was in Cyclamen to gather quintessence, although he didn’t have the slightest idea what it was, or why he was even gathering it in the stead of another.”
“To be perfectly honest…I don’t know too much about it myself,” Apollomon said. “The only thing my friend told me about it…long ago, he warned me to stay far away from it. Now, the only information I can offer you is the same warning he gave to me all those years ago; Thomas, stay away from quintessence, and anything relating to it. It will only lead to a ruinous end.”
“Understood, sir,” I said. “That is all; if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be retiring to my room with Statuedramon for the night.”
“You are dismissed,” Apollomon said. I bowed to the Mega Digimon before leaving the room. I made my way up the winding, musty staircase of the old fortress and to my bedroom.
That girl…something about her…reminds me of that child I was unable to save. “It’s been 20 years,” I whispered to myself. I stared out my window, stared at the sky, at the slowly setting sun, and the shadows the trees cast on our fortress. “That boy…what was his name again?”
“John.” Somewhat surprised, I turned around and saw Pheragas and BlackGaomon standing in the doorway of my room. “You noticed too, didn’t you?” BlackGaomon asked.
“Vut ah you talking about, BlackGaomon?” Pheragas asked.
“A few years before we met, back when Apollomon, Dianamon, SlashAngemon, and I were the only members of Lachesis, we were tasked with protecting a young child,” BlackGaomon answered.
“The boy was originally from Iris Village, down in Cyprus Wasteland,” I said. “However, a few circumstances led him to Cyclamen City, as he had been run out of his village.”
“He vas run out? Vhy, vut did he do?” Pheragas asked.
“Well…see, the thing is…he didn’t really do anything,” BlackGaomon said. “I don’t really know how to explain it…”
“There is no real or logical way to explain why he was run out; the Digimon of Iris, and later of Cyclamen, just kept saying he was different from the other Humans who lived with them, that…they just sensed something was different about him,” I said. “To be perfectly fair, the four of us all felt somewhat troubled by his presence; we knew he was Human, but…all of our natural Digimon instincts were saying otherwise, that he was Human, and not Human at the same time. In spite of this, we all did our best to protect him…but we failed. We failed to protect that boy, and he was killed; killed for some reason nobody understands…”
“That new girl,” BlackGaomon looked up at me. “She gives off the same kind of…aura that kid did twenty years ago.” I nodded slowly.
“Vut does it mean?” Pheragas asked.
“In all honesty, I don’t have the slightest idea,” I admitted. “From what I’ve seen, though, other Digimon are extremely agitated by the presence of someone like that, and they’re able to convince Humans of the same thing.”
“I wasn’t disturbed,” BlackGaomon said. “I mean, I noticed, but it doesn’t bother me. SlashAngemon and Dianamon also don’t seem to mind her.”
“Do you tink she knows?” Pheragas asked. “Do you tink she knows dat she makes you veel dis vay?”
“…The way she acted when we spoke; she was very timid and quiet. She kept her distance from me, almost as though she were afraid I would attack her,” I said. “Yes…I believe she knows.”
“If she was afraid you would’ve hurt her, then she must’ve really wanted to join us,” BlackGaomon said.
“She wants to find her sister,” I said. “When she was telling me about her situation, she had this look in her eyes…It was the most intense look of determination I had ever seen; I just couldn’t say no to that.”
“If people like dat ah as mistreated as you say day ah…” Pheragas sighed. “She must ‘ave ‘ad a rough childhood…”
“As disturbed as those Digimon were twenty years ago, I can’t imagine them acting differently with her,” I said. “Based on her attire, she seems to be from the desert region…like John was. She must have had to deal with a lot…”
“We can’t allow history to repeat itself,” BlackGaomon said. “Nobody should have to experience what John did…”
“We’ll keep her safe,” I said firmly. “We cannot allow the fate that befell John to happen to Zelda. We will protect her.”
“Understood,” BlackGaomon and Pheragas said. The pair turned to leave just as Dianamon came running into the room, out of breath.
“What’s the matter, Dianamon?” I asked.
“We have…visitors…” she said between breaths. “They…they’re knights.” A dead, awkward silence filled the room.
“Vut do dey vant?” Pheragas asked, his tone dark and serious.
“If they’ve come to pick a fight, then they’ve—”
“Peace, BlackGaomon,” I interrupted. “Let’s go see what they want.” The four of us left my room and headed for the lounge, where we found two knights standing, waiting patiently near the front entrance of the fortress. As we approached them, I noticed the other members of Lachesis sitting in the lounge as far away from them as possible from the entrance; Pheragas, BlackGaomon, and Dianamon had gone to join them. “The two of you wanted to see me?” I asked, trying my best to sound calm and unaggressive.
“Yes; please, forgive us for interrupting you from you busy schedule,” the younger of the two knights said. He had bright blond hair, was donned in golden armor with a blue cape, and armed with a giant, two-handed sword. His sharp eyes were a piercing green. The man next to him was taller, and dressed in a heavy, black armor. His hair was dark brown, as were his eyes, and he was armed with a thick, but rather short, lance.
“You two…are Valencian Knights, aren’t you?” I asked. The man nodded. “What are your names?”
“Oh, please forgive my rudeness; my name is Saias, and I’m a Knight Commander in the Valencian Military, and this is my subordinate, Lector.” The older-looking man bowed slightly. “I understand…us knights aren’t exactly welcome here at Lachesis, Sir Apollomon, so please forgive me for—”
“No need to apologize,” I said quickly. “If you’d like, you may come in and sit down while you tell us what it is you want.” I led the two knights into the lounge, ignoring the glares I received from the other members of Lachesis as the two knights sat on a couch facing me.
“So…what should we do tomorrow?” Statuedramon asked. The two of us had been lying on our backs, staring up at the ceiling of my bedroom for the past few minutes and trying to get to sleep, to no avail.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Let’s just see what happens tomorrow, and we can decide from there…” I sat up and looked around my room; as with nearly every part of the castle, the room was gray and made of stone and brick. For a bedroom, it was surprisingly large, and quite spacious. There wasn’t much furniture in the room, with the bed I lay on and the armchair Statch sat in being the only pieces. In the corner of the room was a tall lamp that served as the room’s only source of light, and across from the bed I sat on was a window.
“Think we should go do another job right away?” As I was about to answer, there came a knock on my door.
“Come in!” The large wooden door, worn out with age, creaked open, allowing Zelda to enter my room. “Oh, hello…is there anything I can help you with?”
“Thomas…I just wanted to thank you both again for letting me come with you, and for letting me join your guild,” Zelda said. “It…means a lot to me, having friends like the two of you.”
“Think nothing of it; you helped us, so we helped you,” Statuedramon said. “That’s what friends are for, right?”
“…Yes,” Zelda smiled, and as she reached into her satchel, she pulled something out. “I’d like you to have this necklace, Thomas; it was given to me by my sister, Hannah. All this time I’ve spent away from her, I've let myself believe that it protected me from harm, just as she used to do. Now, I would like to believe that it could protect you, too.”
“Zelda…” I held out my hand and took the necklace; it had a small blue pendant, lined with gold, and was attached to a leather string, thin but sturdy. “Are you certain?”
“…Thank you. I promise I’ll take really good care of it.” I looked at the clear, crystalline gem at its center, which was glossy and polished enough to reflect my brown eyes. She’s giving me something this…this important to her…She must really trust me to give me something like this…I securely clasped the pendant in my hand as I continued looking into its center.
“How are you enjoying your stay here so far?” Statch asked.
“Oh, it’s wonderful! It’s like I finally have a home!” Zelda exclaimed. “Say…everyone here seems to have a nickname. What are the two of yours?”
“I’m the ‘Assassin,’” I replied. “I sneak up and slit the enemy’s throats from behind. Of course, sometimes, that won’t always work, so I have to fight head on like we did with Etemon.”
“I’m the…the…” Statuedramon hesitated, and muttered something under his breath.
“What was that?”
“I’m the ‘Fool,’ okay?! There, I said it!” The dragon’s face flushed an enraged crimson. “Shut up, Thomas!”
“I didn’t say anything…”
“You were thinking it!”
“…You know me too well, Statuedramon.” I smirked. “The ‘Fool.’”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH! HOW DID I EVEN GET THAT NAME IN THE FIRST PLACE?! HOW DOES IT EVEN RELATE TO WHAT I DO?! DO I LOOK LIKE A FUCKING JESTER?! DO I?!”
“It’s a mystery to me,” I said in a sarcastic tone of voice that made Zelda giggle. “So, Zelda, what does your sister look like?”
“My sister? Oh…”
“I’d like to help you look for her, if I can. It’s the least I could do for you.”
“Oh…well…when we were growing up in Adonis Village…people would often say that we looked a lot alike,” Zelda said. “She’s so much prettier than I am, but I guess that isn’t saying very much, is it…”
“What do you mean?” Statuedramon asked.
“Well, I…I’m not very pretty…” She spoke quietly, but I was able to understand what she said.
“What are you talking about? Zelda, you’re beautiful,” I said. Instantly, her cheeks flushed deep scarlet.
“W—What? N—No, I…I’m not!” She placed her hands over her cheeks, and nervously looked at the two of us. “I…I’m ugly…”
“No you’re not,” I said.
“N—No…Really, I…I’m the farthest thing from being beautiful,” Zelda whimpered. “That’s what my mother always used to tell me, anyway, before she was—”
“Well, your mom was wrong,” I interrupted.
“Thomas, ah you in your room?” Pheragas’s loud, booming voice echoed from behind my closed door. The door to my room swung open even further as the large man walked in, accompanied by BlackGaomon.
“Pheragas, why can’t you ever knock?” Statuedramon asked.
“De last time I knocked on a door, I broke it,” Pheragas said. “You all need to come down.”
“Why? What’s going on?” I asked.
“We have company,” BlackGaomon said, cracking his knuckles. “Very…unwelcome company.”
“The knights have come,” I said, finishing Statuedramon’s thought. Pheragas nodded. The large man had a dark look in his eyes.
“Please, come vith me.” The large man and his Digimon left my room.
“Came on a little too strong back there, pal,” Statch whispered as soon as Zelda left my room.
“Give me a break, that was my first time,” I replied. The Rookie laughed, and slapped my back as we both left my room, where we found Zelda waiting for us outside. As we went downstairs, I carefully place the necklace Zelda gave me into my coat pocket.
“What’s going on?” Zelda whispered to me.
“I don’t really know, but stay close,” I answered. “I don’t know why the knights have come here, but if my theory is right…Just stay close. Please.” The three of us walked into the lounge room, where we joined every other member of the guild in the kitchen, save for Apollomon. “Dianamon, what’s going on?”
“Those two are knights,” Dianamon said, carefully observing the two men Apollomon spoke to. “The smaller one is Saias, a Knight Commander in the Valencian Military, and the other one is his subordinate, Lector. That’s about all I know…”
“Can you believe these two?!” Garret scoffed when he noticed us. Jerking his thumb over to the couches where Apollomon and two other men sat, he muttered, “That damn knight; who the hell does that bastard think he is, waltzing in here with his crony like he owns everything in Arcadia? I’d like to shove my axes right up his—”
“Please, do us all a vavor and do not attack dem,” Pheragas sighed. “Dese two knights…dey are quite different from de oder knights ‘oo ve have previously encountered.”
“—and then, when it turns purple, I’d tear it right off!” Garret finished, completely ignoring Pheragas. “Wait…what? What do you mean, different?! ALL of those bastards are the same; no matter what, they can’t be trusted!”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, Pheragas, but afraid I’m going to have to agree with Garret on this,” BlackGaomon said. “I won’t lose my temper and attack them or anything, but…I just can’t agree with you on that.” Pheragas stared down at his Digimon, neither angry nor annoyed.
“Chrissy will never forgive the Valencian Knights; not after what they did to Adrian…” I looked over and saw Chrysania’s small body trembling as Luna walked up behind her and placed a comforting hand on her tiny shoulder.
Five years I’ve known her, and not once have I ever seen her not smiling…
“Yeah, that’s another reason we ought to beat the living hell out of them; they need to answer for what they did to Adrian!” Garret said, raising his voice.
“Ve’ve no proof dat ‘e’s dead, just dat dey took ‘im avay,” Pheragas said.
“Well, even still, they took one of our members, so I say we take one of theirs!” Statuedramon said.
“If we did that, then we’d be no better than them,” I said.
“Thomas, how can you—”
“Will you all shut up so I can hear what they’re saying?!” SlashAngemon asked, carefully observing Apollomon and the two knights. Standing behind him was Irene, hiding her face in between his wings while trying to make herself look as small and unnoticeable as possible, though every now and then, I would see her poke her head around SlashAngemon’s arm to see what was happening.
“So, the only reason you two were sent was because it was your turn?” Apollomon asked. Grinning, he asked, “Is our guild really so troublesome that you need to strategize over who gets to slap us on the wrist next?”
“No, nothing like that at all,” Saias said, sounding as if he were trying not to laugh. “If it were up to Lector and me, no harm would come to you or your group, Sir Apollomon. The two of us have no problem with what you do here, and we in no way support the previous and future actions of our comrades towards you.”
“We understand that you have no reason to either trust or believe us, but it is the truth,” Lector said.
“I…believe what you say,” Apollomon said.
“Damn it, what the hell is the old bastard thinking?! We can’t trust those two!” Garret whispered.
“You have my gratitude, sir,” Saias said. “Now, about that matter we discussed earlier…”
“Oh, yes; Thomas, Statuedramon, get over here!” Apollomon hollered. “Oh, and…you as well, Zelda!” The three of us were given looks of concern by our fellow members as we walked over to Apollomon in the lounge room.
Well, this certainly bodes ill…
“These two have a job for us,” Apollomon said.