Apollomon sat across from us on a couch in the living room of the villa. He looked neither angry nor confused at what we had told him; rather, his face went completely expressionless as we told him about Flamedramon, about Adrian, and about the Bio Hybrids.
“And SlashAngemon and Irene are still over there?” Apollomon asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said. “They said they’d be back by now…”
“Geez…I’m going to run out of people to send to that damn place,” Apollomon muttered. “Well…I’m glad you three are all safe. Don’t you go there again, though, okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Thomas said.
“That’s what you said last time; how do I know I can trust you when you say that?” Apollomon asked.
“If you didn’t still trust us, you wouldn’t be talking to us,” Statuedramon said. “Believe me; after what we saw back there, I know I don’t have any plans of going to that place any time soon.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Apollomon said. “Zelda, you told me Irene and SlashAngemon should be back by now, did you not?” I nodded. Apollomon sighed and nervously glanced out a window. “Very well…if they do not return within an hour, I shall send Dianamon to find them; she’s outside standing guard at the moment. Now, Thomas…”
“What is it, sir?” Thomas asked.
“There’s a woman down in the basement; she claims to know you,” Apollomon said.
“…Why did you put her in the basement?” Statuedramon asked.
“It’s not like that, damn it! Pheragas and BlackGaomon are still injured from their fight against Flamedramon. Luna and Chrysania are in town shopping for food and supplies, and with Dianamon standing guard outside, there wasn’t anyone left to treat their wounds. This woman offered to do so while I spoke with you about last night.” Apollomon began leading us to a stairway that led down to a door.
“Did she give you her name?” Thomas asked.
“No, but she had long brown hair and green eyes, and she wore a long black coat...kind of like yours, actually, Thomas. She was very beautiful,” Apollomon said, stopping in front of the basement door. “Does she sound like someone you know?” Without answering, Thomas opened the basement door and walked in.
“So, this is the guild you told me about,” a woman sitting next to a sleeping Pheragas and BlackGaomon said.
“…Victoria…” Thomas smiled wide as he walked over to the woman, and the two embraced. I had never seen him look so happy before; he’s always been so serious, so…solemn. It made me feel relieved to know that he was capable of experiencing such an emotion.
“That’s the woman he spoke about last night?” I asked Statch.
“Yeah…that’s her…” I looked over at Statuedramon, and noticed his eyes were filled with tears. “Even though we weren’t hers, she still acted like a mother to the both of us…And even though I didn’t need one…” Statch shook his head and wiped the tears from his eyes. “Damn it…I’m over 500 years old…I thought all my tears had dried up…”
“I’m glad to see you’re doing well,” Victoria said. She had let go of Thomas and walked over to Statuedramon and hugged him too. “I’ve read all the letters you and Statch sent me, but…reading them is nothing compared to actually being here with you two…”
“Victoria…You look great,” Statuedramon smirked.
“Are you kidding me? I’ve gained like, thirty pounds since I’ve last seen you two,” Victoria laughed.
“Well, considering you were severely underweight then, that could only be an improvement,” Statuedramon said. “How were you able to find us?”
“I was at an outdoor Bazaar in Yew when I saw Apollomon, and I recognized him from your description of him, and I thought he might have been the same Apollomon you spoke of,” Victoria said. “I haven’t received a letter from you in so long; I was beginning to get worried…”
“I’m sorry; we’ve both been very busy,” Statch said.
“We didn’t mean to make you worried,” Thomas said. “Oh, and before I forget, I’d like to introduce you to our new friend; this is Zelda. She’s helped us so much ever since we’ve met her. Without her, I…I don’t think I could’ve done half of what I did during my missions in the short time she’s been with us.” At Thomas’s words, I lowered my head, hoping nobody noticed that I was blushing.
“Oh, so this cute little thing is also a mercenary?” Victoria asked, looking over at me.
“Yes, ma’am; I try to help out as much as I can. I just hope it’s enough…”
“Nonsense; we are very fortunate to have such a gentle and compassionate young woman among us,” Apollomon said.
“And she’s a Summoner, too!” Statuedramon blurted out. “Oh, sorry, was I not supposed to say that?”
“No, it’s okay,” I said. “Everyone I’ve told so far was really impressed with me, and they’ve respected me; I’m just not used to being treated that way…”
“Well, now…It’s been a very long time since I’ve met anybody with that rare of an ability,” Victoria said. “It is said that Summoning is a divine, sacred ability, one bestowed upon the purest of souls, those that have been subjected to terrible hardships in life and yet do not hold any grudges towards those that have inflicted suffering upon them.” My heart sank.
Is that…really why I’m able to Summon? Because of what I am?
“But, Victoria,” Statuedramon interjected. “We ran into a bandit that was a Summoner; a bandit of all people! How was somebody like him able to summon?”
“Well, who said that old legends and prophecies like that always had to be accurate?” Victoria asked. “Do you remember that prophecy about a Digimon called Myotismon?”
“You mean, ‘The sky will be darkened by the wings of many bats?’” Statuedramon asked. “That’s the one; about two years ago, I saw a bunch of bats flying around while a bunch of dead people started shouting the name of an undead Digimon king at the hour of the beast, and I sure didn’t see any so-called king show up and try to kill everyone!” Victoria said.
…Wasn’t she…fazed in the slightest when the deceased began talking?
“I have no idea what you just said, but I’m just going to smile and nod,” Statuedramon said.
“Well, anyway, I found this a while back, and I wasn’t sure what I should do with it…” Victoria reached into her coat pocket and pulled something out. “I’m glad I met you, Zelda. I’d like you to have this.” Victoria handed me the Talisman; the design on the front was that of the Digimon Leomon.
“Thank you, Victoria; I promise I’ll take really good care of him,” I placed the Talisman into my satchel with my other three.
“So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about joining your little group, Tommy,” Victoria said. “You haven’t got any objections, have you?”
“You know I could never say no to you, Victoria,” Thomas said softly. Victoria giggled. “Ah, yes…how could I have possibly forgotten about your little…‘weakness,’” she said.
“I prefer to think of it as a ‘perpetual enamorment,’ rather than a weakness,” Thomas said. Victoria laughed once more.
“No wonder you were so keen on getting this young lady to join your guild,” she said.
“What…do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing…You know, you really are adorable, just like he said.” I felt my face began to heat up when Apollomon interrupted.
“Miss Victoria, you are more than welcome to stay with us for as long as you desire,” he said. “You are also welcome to join us, if you wish.”
“Well, thank you, sir,” Victoria said. “I just might take you up on that offer…”
“Excellent; now, is there anything that you’d—” Apollomon was interrupted when someone began knocking on the basement door.
“Apollomon! Apollomon…you need to see this!” A pale-faced woman stood in the doorway, gasping for breath, and her face was covered in sweat…or tears.
“Dianamon, what’s wrong? What happened?!” Apollomon opened the door, and Dianamon fell into his arms, sobbing. “What happened? Are you okay?!”
“R—read this…” Dianamon handed a piece of paper to Apollomon. After reading it, Apollomon dropped the paper.
“…What…the hell? Where the hell did you find this, Dianamon?!” Apollomon asked. I picked up the paper Apollomon had dropped and read it.
“What is the meaning of this?!” Thomas asked, reading the paper over my shoulder. My face had gone completely pale as I reread what the paper had said.
“What’s it say?” Statuedramon asked, trying to jump up so he could read it as well. I handed him the note, and as I did, I sank to the floor. I knew what all the words meant, but I just couldn’t understand…
‘SlashAngemon is dead. The insect has been felled by our hands. We will all take our time enjoying that cute girl that was with him before we gut her like the mercenary pig she is. The blonde girl gets it next.
The Honest, Hardworking Knights of Valencia’