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Lilithmon's Epic Chapter 32
En Route to Saias’s Villa
During our entire trip back to the villa, nobody said a word. “Apollomon is going to be so disappointed that we weren’t able to find Irene and SlashAngemon,” Statuedramon said, finally breaking the silence.
“But it is possible that they’re still alive,” I said. “They may not be with us at the moment, but as long as there’s that possibility, Apollomon won’t give up, and neither will I.”
“It’s also possible that they’ve returned while we’ve been gone,” Zelda said . “I don’t know; I just…don’t feel right about all of this,” Statuedramon said. “Michalis, are you absolutely certain that our friends couldn’t have been taken to any secret area of that laboratory before it froze over?”
“The knights that always accompanied the scientists that kept me locked up in that place…they were rather unintelligent,” Michalis said. The young man was having difficulty walking, so Victoria had placed his arm over her shoulders to assist him. “If there was any secret area of the lab…the knights would not have known about it. Your friends, the knights, they all would’ve been with the scientists keeping watch over me. That I am sure of.”
“If you say so,” Statuedramon said as Saias’s Villa gradually came into view. “Well, anyway, Michalis, this is where we’re living, albeit temporarily.”
“Are you sure it’s fine that I stay with you?” Michalis asked.
“Of course it is!” Statch exclaimed. “What kind of mercenary guild would we be if we saw someone who needed help, and didn’t give it to them?”
“You’re obviously unwell, and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you,” Victoria said. “I’ve been told that I have a habit of adopting and mothering orphans…” Victoria looked over at me.
“Oh, and don’t mind our boss,” Statuedramon said. “He looks big and scary, but he’s actually a pretty nice guy, and…I believe that’s him standing on the villa’s porch!”
“He doesn’t look too happy,” I said. “Of course, that’s normal for him, but even still…” After a moment, the five of us made it to the villa.
“Uh…I take it SlashAngemon and Irene didn’t arrive while we were gone,” Statuedramon said. Apollomon sighed.
“I was afraid you’d say something like that…” the tall Mega Digimon rested his forehead in the palm of his hand. “They weren’t there, were they…”
“Perhaps not, but I believe they may have never been at Braig’s lab in the first place,” I said. “The place was completely iced over. According to this man, Michalis, anyone who touched the ice would have been instantly killed.”
“Killed?! Then…then they…” Apollomon sat down in a nearby chair and buried his face in his hands. “Irene and SlashAngemon…are they…”
“I do not believe they were at the lab at the time it was frozen over,” I continued. “If they had been, I have no doubt that they’d have been able to escape with ease; Michalis here was a test subject for the scientists inside, weakened from hunger and pain, and yet, even he was able to escape.”
“Yeah…I guess so,” Apollomon murmured. “But if they weren’t there, where did the knights take them?”
“That’s another thing I’d like to mention,” I said. “I’m not entirely sure of this, but I believe it to be highly likely; the note saying that knights had taken our friends had perfectly legible handwriting, did it not?” Apollomon looked up at me, his eyes wide with shock.
“Of course; why didn’t I think of that earlier?!” Apollomon asked, smiling wide. “The only knights I can think of that would have legible handwriting are Saias and Lector, and neither of them would do anything that was written on that note!”
“While I believe that to be the case, Sir, I must ask; is it not possible that there may be some knights who have at least decent handwriting?” I asked. Apollomon’s smile faded. “I know there is little evidence to go on, but I have a very strong feeling that it was not the knights who sent that note. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want to believe what that note said, but this feeling I have is really strong.”
“I understand,” Apollomon said. “As long as there’s a small chance that they’re alive, I can rest easy. I will not give up.” Apollomon stood up and clasped his hands over my shoulders. “Thank you, Thomas; I know that your instincts about such things are hardly ever wrong. Now, you, young man,” Apollomon looked over at Michalis. “What was your name again?”
“I’m…Michalis, sir…” Victoria had helped the young man sit down on a chair near Apollomon. “As Thomas said, I was a test subject of the madmen working at that laboratory; I’ve been there for as long as I can remember…”
“You are more than welcome to stay with us for as long as you need,” Apollomon smiled warmly at Michalis. “Or forever, if you wish.”
“Now, I’m sure you must be starving, having been locked up for all that time,” Apollomon said. “I’ll lead you to the kitchen and fix you whatever you’d like; how does that sound?” “That sounds…great…” Michalis gave Apollomon a weak smile as Victoria helped him stand up. Apollomon led them and Statuedramon into the villa, leaving Zelda and me on the porch. As the others left, I looked down steadily at the wood-plank floor of the porch.
“Are you okay?” Zelda asked.
“Wha—? Oh, no, I’m…fine,” I said. “I was just…thinking…”
“Whatever you were thinking about looked like it was troubling you,” Zelda said. “What were you thinking about? You can tell me.”
“It was…about Michalis; I just think…Victoria might be trusting him a little too much and too easily,” I said. “He said he was able to escape from the lab before it was frozen over, right?” Zelda nodded. “He said that it was frozen over pretty fast, and that it killed all the scientists that were about to work on him, and yet he was somehow able to escape, and he barely has the strength to move without Mothe — without Victoria helping him walk.”
“You’re right!” Zelda said quietly. “But then…how did he escape? Was he even in the lab in the first place?”
“Also, while we were there last night, I fought a Digimon named Andromon — he said he used to be a Human.” Zelda was gazing intently at me. “He was brought to the lab against his will and turned into a Digimon; whoever did it was trying to make a Bio Hybrid like Garret, but they failed, and he was turned into Andromon.”
“…What are you saying?” Zelda asked.
“All I’m saying is…there might be more to that boy than what meets the eye, and whether he knows it or not, he…might be different from us.”
“And if he is? Should it be something we ought to be worried about?” Zelda asked.
“Well…he does seem fine. Maybe a little distrusting of others, but he’s nothing like Abigail or the others,” I said. “But if he is…they might go after him. Or, he might even be working with them, and he’s just spying on us for them. Of course, this is all just speculation; he could be just what he said. Either way, we need to keep our eyes on him; for now, at least.”
“Okay. If I see him doing anything strange, I’ll come to you immediately,” Zelda said.
“Thank you, Zelda.”
All the other members of the guild had retired to their bedrooms for the night, and most of their lights were turned off. All except for one room. I slowly and quietly tiptoed over to that room, and quietly knocked on the door.
“Come in,” Victoria’s voice said. I opened the door and walked in. Victoria sat alone in her room, on her bed. She was smiling at me as I quietly closed the door behind me. She had taken her long, black coat off, which was folded neatly on her bed next to her. She wore only her red halter top, leaving her belly and shoulders exposed, and her matching, knee-length skirt. Like me, she was also barefoot.
“Um…How’s Michalis?” I asked.
“He’s fine, sweetie. He’s sleeping on a couch in the living room,” Victoria replied. “Seems like he’s going to be okay, too.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!”
“Yes; I’m quite happy he decided to let us help him,” Victoria sighed. “…Was there…something else you needed?”
“Oh…um…I was wondering…if you could tell me…” I could feel my face heat up and redden. “Could you tell me…what Thomas was like…when he was younger?” Victoria smiled at me.
“Of course, dear,” she said. She sighed happily and looked up at the ceiling. “When I met him…it was in Cyclamen City…”
I had been visiting Cyclamen City for the first time. I was only about twenty or so at the time. This small child was following me. At the time, I didn’t know why, though…I was trying to leave the city as soon as possible because…well…You’ve been there before, right? You should know what I mean…
“...Why are you following me around, kid?” I asked.
“You aren’t from around here, right? I’m coming with you when you leave this city,” the boy said.
“Sorry. I travel alone. You should go home to your parents, little boy.”
“My parents are dead.” My heart skipped a beat. I turned to look at the boy, and he was gazing at me intently. I knew the second I saw those eyes that I would never forget them. They were so dark and full of life, but also...they were so piercing...like he was staring right into my soul. “If YOU don’t care about me, that's fine, but the least you could do is take me somewhere that isn’t here!” At this point, I had turned around, and knelt down right in front of him. I smiled gently at him.
“You must have been very sad when you found out about your parents,” I told him.
“N—No...they...they’re just like everyone else here,” he said. “Killing for no reason...that’s what it means to live here...”
“I'm sure your mommy and daddy only did what they did because they cared about you, their son.”
“...No. That’s the first rule of living here; care only for yourself. That’s how you succeed in a place like this.” I reached up and gently laid a hand over his cheek, and brushed some of his hair away. I knew right away...I couldn't just leave this child in a place like this. I had seen for myself exactly what he had described, and I was only passing through the city on my way home. I had to take him with me.
“You can come with me...if you’d like.” He looked down and away, as if frightened of me for some reason, or unwilling to trust me. It took me a while to realize it, but I knew what he was so afraid of; he didn't want to get close to me, and then lose me. “...A while ago...I lost my own son...So I know what it's like to lose everybody you know and care about...” I placed his tiny hand in mine. He flinched at first, but eventually relented, and wrapped his tiny little fingers around my thumb...just like my son did before he was taken from me. I pulled him into a hug, and he cried. I could only assume it was his first, and I'm guessing it was his last time, too. He cried — not because of losing his parents — but because he finally knew what it was like to have someone care about him. SeadramonX (talk)
“Oh...Thomas...I...I didn't know,” I said in a shaky voice. Victoria smiled at me.
“You're very important to him, Zelda. He cares very much about you.”
“W—What? How…how can you tell?” I stammered. Victoria continued to smile kindly at me.
“I can tell from the way he spoke about you in the last letter I got from him before I came over here,” Victoria said.
“But…we only just met a few weeks ago, and…and…”
“And you feel the same way, too.”
“…Yes. I…Am I…falling…for him…?”
“What was that? I couldn’t quite hear you,” Victoria said.
“…Never mind,” I shook my head.
“It’s really no surprise to me that he cares about you so much,” Victoria said. “I haven’t known you very long, Zelda…but you are, without a doubt, the kindest person I have ever seen…and he always did have an eye for beauty,” she added.
“…Thomas and Statuedramon said the same thing when I first started traveling with them,” Zelda said. “And…Thomas…did call me…beautiful…on several occasions…but…I don’t think…he’s…right…”
“Really? Why not?” I shrugged after a few seconds, and looked steadily down at the floor. “Well, I happen to think you are very pretty, Zelda. You don’t need to sell yourself so short.” Quietly, I shook my head, and I could feel myself beginning to blush once again. Victoria laughed quietly. “You know…you really are very adorable. And, with your style of clothing, you’ll have no problem working your way into his heart.”
“What do you…mean?” Suddenly, Thomas’s words rang inside my head. I could never say no to a girl with a bare midriff, was what he had said. “Oh…Oh! I…I thought he was…just kidding about that…” I tugged down on my shirt ever so slightly, feeling completely embarrassed.
“And yet…you have still chosen to wear your desert attire, after all this time,” Victoria smirked. “Were you maybe hoping he would notice you?”
“…Yes.” I smiled sadly.
“Well, don’t worry, sweetie. He’ll tell you eventually. I’m sure he’s just waiting because he’s worried it might be too soon,” Victoria said. “But, if you want to tell him…you could always use his “perpetual enamorment” to your advantage.” Victoria pointed at my exposed midriff.
Victoria shrugged. “I don’t see why not. How do you think I made him eat his veggies when he was ‘bout ten years old?” Victoria softly patted her stomach.
“But…aren’t you his mother?”
“Not by blood. I’m only his surrogate mother…a false mother…I’m sure he doesn’t even think of me as his real mother,” Victoria said sadly. This time, I smiled at her. “Victoria…I heard him talk about you before when we visited Cyclamen,” I said. “He said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, Victoria Kasuto is my real mother.’ Trust me…he really believes that.”
“…Thank you, Zelda,” Victoria said. “It’s starting to get late…we should get to sleep.” “Okay. Good night, Victoria.”
“Good night, Zelda. Sweet dreams.”
Early the Next Morning
After having slept for many hours, my peaceful, much-needed sleep was ended abruptly by the sound of somebody knocking loudly on the villa’s front doors. Annoyed at the sudden interruption, I crawled out of my bed and made my way through the dimly lit house to the front door, where I found Apollomon, Victoria, and Michalis speaking with Lector.
“Thomas…glad you could join us,” Apollomon said. It was evident that he had not fully awoken yet.
“What can we do for you, Lector?” I asked.
“I’m here on business,” Lector said, his face in an uncharacteristically serious scowl. “Eyewitness reports say that you and your friends found a young man with brown hair, roughly Thomas’s size, outside Braig’s laboratory yesterday afternoon; is this correct?”
Why would he need to know something like that? “We…may have found—”
“It is I who you ask about,” Michalis said. He was sounding a lot less weak, and he was able to stand without Victoria’s help. Without warning, Lector reached out and grabbed Michalis’s gaunt arm, then forcibly yanked him out of the villa.
“Lector, what are you doing?!” Apollomon asked.
“I apologize for my abruptness, Sir Apollomon,” Lector said. “We are placing this man under arrest.”