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I had been sitting on the front porch of Saias’s villa for hours, unable to get the memories of what happened last night out of my head. What did happen? I wasn’t entirely sure myself, and yet everything played back in my mind vividly…especially the yellow eyes I saw in the shadows. They were glowing in the most eerie way I could imagine, and the pupils were thin slits, like those belonging to a Reptile Digimon. I knew I didn’t want to sleep; I was sure I would be seeing those eyes the moment I fell asleep. Not that I could sleep, even if I wanted to. The fact that Saias had been killed by such a creature…it was an overwhelming thought. Not knowing what lurked in that forest; not knowing the identity of what dragged off Saias’s body...it scared me. He could still be alive…Adrian was taken away like that, too, and he’s still alive... I sighed, relieved by this thought until another one popped into my mind. He lost a lot of blood though…And he was stabbed through the chest… I was annoyed by the fact that Saias told me to stay away from the forest, and it didn’t make any sense why he would want me to wait until morning for me to tell everyone about what had happened last night. I guess he just wanted everyone to sleep…after all that’s happened lately, they all need to, I suppose, but even still… I looked up at the early morning sky. Saias…how could Saias of all people be dead?! The front doors of the villa opened up, and I turned around to see Lector standing behind me.
“All the others are awake; what are you doing out here?” Lector asked. “Hey, have you seen Saias? I can’t find him anywhere…” I stood up and walked into the villa. “Are you okay, Thomas?” I shook my head.
“There’s something I need to tell you…”
“Y—you can’t be serious!” Lector stammered after the long silence that followed my account of what happened last night. “There’s no way I’m going to believe that Saias is dead!” Everyone in the room went silent at the news I had just given them. “He can’t…he was…he is…my best friend…”
“I saw the entire thing,” I said in a firm, but shaky voice. “We went into the woods behind this villa, and we were attacked by…something. I don’t know what it was, but whatever it was killed Saias and dragged him off into the shadows; it didn’t even leave his blood behind from where it landed on the grass. There wasn’t anything I could do to help him…” Lector stared at me for the longest time before resting his forehead in his hands. “I’m sorry…if I weren’t so weak, I could have…helped him…” Zelda took my hand in hers, and held on tight.
“It’s not your fault,” Lector said immediately. “I have no intention of blaming you for…for what happened. It’s just difficult to believe…”
“Did he tell you anything before it happened?” Dianamon asked. “Anything about what he was fighting?”
“He didn’t seem to know what he was fighting,” I said. “All he said before he was taken by the shadow was that he wanted Lector to return to Yew.”
“The capital city of Valencia? Why would he want me there?” Lector asked. “That’s where we work, of course, but why would he want me to go back so soon?”
“I wasn’t told,” I replied. “Saias also…he apologized for not being able to help us out more…”
“He did so much for us; why would he apologize?” Apollomon asked. “I never really got the chance to thank him properly…”
“Thank him…” Lector narrowed his eyes as if in thought. “It’s Braig!” He exclaimed. “He wanted me to go back to Yew because he wants me to keep an eye on Braig! Neither of us trusted him!”
“You mean Ienzo’s replacement?” Apollomon asked. “What reasons did you have for not trusting one of your own?”
“He’s doing the job Ienzo had, remember?” Lector asked. “That man…he seems to enjoy his work too much. I’ve seen him smiling, laughing even, after finishing a job, whatever the hell it is; I’m guessing he wants me to go back there to keep an eye on him for you guys.”
“How long has he been working for you?” Dianamon asked. “How long have you known him?”
“He was hired four years ago—practically the day after Ienzo left,” Lector said. “Saias and I have known him for quite a while, but we never knew what it was that he did. It wasn’t until recently, when we learned what Ienzo used to do, that we began to grow suspicious of him.”
“Where does he work?” I suddenly asked without thinking.
“Why do you want to know?” Lector asked.
“Braig is doing experiments on living beings for quintessence, isn’t he?” I asked.
“Yes, he is, but—”
“Where does he work?” I asked again. After a moment, Lector sighed, and then took out a small notepad and pencil from his pocket and wrote something down. He tore off the sheet of paper he had written on and gave it to me.
“This is the address of the laboratory where Braig works,” Lector said. “However, I strongly advise that you do not go unless it is very urgent. The place is crawling with knights during the day, and who knows what at night.”
“I understand,” I said. Lector stood up and walked to the front door of the villa. During the day, huh?
“I apologize for not being very helpful to you all, but I promise, I will do my best to stop Braig from doing whatever he’s doing, and I will find the one responsible for Saias’s death.”
“You don’t need to apologize, Sir Lector,” Apollomon said. “You and Saias have already done so much to help us, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Lector smiled and bowed his head before leaving. As soon as the villa’s front doors closed, Apollomon clasped his hand over my shoulder, turning my body so I was looking him in the eye. “Thomas…under no circumstances are you to go to that laboratory. Do you understand?” I had never seen Apollomon look so stern before, and it momentarily caught me off guard. I barely managed to nod, and he smiled. “Good; I know you aren’t Statuedramon, so I know telling you something that’s common sense isn’t necessary—”
“Hey!” Statuedramon interjected.
“—but I just had to be sure,” Apollomon said.
“Can you still read it?” I asked.
“It’s pretty dark; it’s nearly midnight, after all,” Statuedramon held the paper Lector had given me. “My eyesight is better than a Human’s, though — no offence, buddy. Even with your glasses, you probably still couldn’t read it.”
“None taken,” I replied.
“With this much moonlight, I can read it just fine,” Statuedramon squinted his eyes as he read the directions. “Just one block away, I think…” Statuedramon looked up at me. “Are you sure we should be doing this? I’ve never seen Apollomon angry before, so I don’t know what he’d do to you if—”
“You can go back, if you want,” I said. “I won’t mind; I can find my way to the laboratory from here.”
“It’s not me that I’m worried about,” Statch said. “You’re the one he told not to go; I’m just an idiot! He’d probably say something like, ‘Don’t take advantage of total idiots like Statch, Thomas!’ I probably won’t get in much trouble, but what about you? Apollomon could have already sent someone to find us and drag us back by our—”
“He did,” a voice behind us said. It was Zelda. “Why did you come here?” she whispered. She was dressed in the same clothes she normally wore at night. Her halter top had been taken off, and she wore only the single, white top she wore around her breasts underneath, although her rather short skirt remained. Also, she was barefoot, looking as though she had left in such a hurry that she didn’t properly dress herself.
“I’ve been asking him the entire time we’ve been gone, but he hasn’t said a word,” Statuedramon looked up at me.
“It’s hard for me to talk about,” I said. “I won’t go back just yet; I need to do this. You can try to force me if you wish — I won’t fight back, but I’m not going back until I’m done here.”
“I see,” Zelda said. “Well, if you feel that strongly about it, then I’ll just have to go with you.”
“Go with us?!” Statuedramon yelled, though I quickly covered his mouth before he shouted anything else.
“We don’t know what kind of place this Braig has been working at; I don’t want anything to happen to you,” I said. “And there’s also Apollomon; we don’t know what he’d do if he ever got mad. Not even Garret has ever disobeyed an order before he got killed.”
“Do you think he’d hurt us?” Zelda asked.
“…No. He wouldn’t ever attack a friend. But, still, there’s no telling what he’d do, even to you,” I said.
“I’m going with you,” Zelda said more firmly. “You’re both my friends, and I want to help you.” After a long silence, I sighed.
“Okay…you can come with us,” I said. Zelda smiled.
Heh. I knew she would smile if I agreed…I just can’t say no to her when I know I’ll see that smile…
“Thomas,” Statuedramon said. “Can you at least tell us why you want to go into Braig’s lab?”
“Fine, I’ll tell you,” I said exhaustedly. “This may end up being a long story…or not. Either way, you should both make yourselves comfortable…”