I couldn’t believe it. We had searched all night long throughout this damn city, but we still didn’t see any sign of Zelda. And now, the moon had nearly vanished from sight, and the sun was peeking out over the horizon.
“I can’t believe we didn’t find her,” I said. “We searched all night, and not one sign of her…”
“Hey, Thomas, who do you think that woman was last night?” Statch asked. “She looked…kind of like Zelda…”
“We’ve no way of knowing until she tells us,” I said. “Come on; let’s continue our search. Zelda’s got to be around here somewhere…She has to be…”
“Rise and shine, little lady,” Clive said, hoping to wake me. Not that it was necessary. I had been awake all night, too afraid to fall asleep. Fortunately, Clive had been true to his word, and the two of us even slept on opposite sides of one of the many destroyed buildings of the city. However, this did not stop the fear, and even though Renamon stayed with me all night, and was still here with me now, I was still scared. “Glad to see you didn’t try to escape last night. Not like it would’ve worked; I’ve got good hearing. If I had heard you moving from that far away, even while I was asleep, I would’ve known.”
“Well…I’m glad you kept your word, too,” I said.
“And everyone’s happy!” Clive exclaimed. Turning to Renamon, he asked, “So, are you going to be staying with us this whole time, or what?”
“You think I’d really leave Zelda alone with someone like you?” Renamon asked. “As the two of you have requested, I will not attack you unless you give me reason to, but don’t think I’m leaving her behind for a single second with someone like you.”
“Ok…I guess I don’t really blame you,” Clive said. “So, as long as we all keep our hands to ourselves, nobody gets hurt.”
“Yes; so you say,” Renamon said.
“Well, whatever; I’m going to go see if I can find us something to eat,” Clive said. “Don’t want you dying on me; Magnus would kill me if you did…” Clive gave the two of us one final look before walking away.
“…If I were to die…Magnus would kill that man,” I said to myself. “If that man dies…there would be one less problem Thomas would have to deal with…”
“Zelda, what are you saying?!” Renamon asked.
“If I were to die, that man would be killed for it,” I said. “Don’t you see? I have to—”
“NO! Out of the question!” Renamon shouted. “Don’t you realize how many people would miss you if you went away?! How can you even think of saying something like that?!”
“No one would miss me,” I said.
“That’s not true! I would…And what about Thomas and Statuedramon?! What about everyone at Lachesis?!”
“If I told them what I really am, then they would hate me. That way, nobody would be sad if I were to—”
“What about me?!” Renamon asked. “What about Vajramon?! Don’t you think we’d be sad if you died?!”
“I’m not doing this to end my life, Renamon; I’m doing this because I know Magnus would kill Clive if I died,” I said. “We cannot let someone like Clive roam free, and I feel like Magnus is the only person strong enough to kill him. He needs to be stopped…at any cost…”
“WHAT ABOUT YOUR SISTER?!” Renamon shouted. “YOU’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR HER FOR OVER SIX YEARS; ARE YOU JUST GOING TO GIVE UP ON YOURSELF BEFORE YOU FIND HER?!”
“…Hannah…if you are able to find her…please tell her I’m sorry…even though I don’t deserve forgiveness.” I stood up off the ground and walked over to a sharp rock, but before I could pick it up, Renamon’s paw gripped me tightly around the wrist.
“Zelda; I am not going to let you kill yourself!” Renamon said. “I care about you too much to let anything happen to you, and I know Thomas and Statuedramon feel the same way, no matter what you are!”
“Renamon…I—I’m sorry, but I—”
“Jeez, I go away for six years, and you’re already thinking about killing yourself?” I turned around, and the person I saw standing close behind me was someone I never thought I would see again.
“Hannah…oh, Hannah, it’s really you!” My older sister walked up to me and gently placed her arms around me, pulling me into a hug after placing her cherished lance on the ground.
“I’m sorry I was gone for so long,” Hannah whispered. “Oh, and Renamon’s with you, too; how have you been? I haven’t seen you in a while, either.”
“I’m fine,” Renamon said.
“I’m so glad…you’re okay…” Tears had begun to form in my eyes as I embraced my sister for the first time in what seemed to be a lifetime. “When we split up…I waited for the longest time, but you didn’t return…I set off looking for you, but I…I just couldn’t find you, no matter where I looked…”
“I’m sorry, Zelda; I shouldn’t have left you alone that long without saying something; I really didn’t think I would have taken that long,” Hannah said. “Now, who was being mean to you? Who made my sweet baby sister cry?”
“Oh…no one…I’m just so…so happy to see you again,” I said.
“I’m back,” Clive said unexpectedly. “I wasn’t able to find anything for us to eat.”
“Who is that?!” Hannah asked stiffly.
“That’s the man that threatened to assault your little sister,” Renamon said. I stared at the Digimon Spirit, and to my surprise, on her face was a small, but quite smug grin. “Just playing the part of the puppeteer, Milady…”
“By Goddess Arcadia, I am fucking sick of people being mean to you!” Hannah crouched down and picked up her lance before walking over to Clive. I called out to my sister for her to stop, but she ignored me.
“Renamon, why did you do that? We don’t know Clive’s capable of!” I said.
“Don’t worry; I remember how superb a fighter Hannah is. There’s no way Clive will be able to defeat her in a head-on fight,” Renamon said.
“Any last words?!” Hannah yelled at Clive.
“I’m sorry; who the hell are you?” Clive asked.
“I am sick to death of the cruelty people like you show to my little sister; she’s the sweetest and gentlest person on Arcadia! She wouldn’t harm a Flymon!”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t so much a touch her!” Clive protested.
“He threatened that if she tried to escape, he would find her and kill her,” Renamon said.
“Oh, that does it; you are so dead!”
“What?! I didn’t say anything about killing her!” However, Clive’s objection was in vain; Hannah had already begun madly swinging her lance in the air, narrowly missing Clive’s throat and head many times. “Okay, okay; I’m out of here!”
“Get back here, you bastard!” Hannah yelled. “Damn it; he got away…Zelda, sweetie, I’ll be right back, okay?”
“But…Hannah, you don’t—”
“I promise I’ll be back soon, sweetie.” Hannah smiled gently at me, and then took off after Clive . “Trust me; she’ll be okay,” Renamon said. Without warning, the fur around her neck stood on end.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Something’s here…someone’s here! Someone powerful…” Slowly, I turned around, and standing behind me was yet another person I never thought I’d see again.
“I need to talk to you,” Flamedramon said.
“I thank you all for coming here today, my comrades,” I said. Standing before me were my fellow Bio Hybrids Abigail, Adrian, Irene, and Michalis.
“Whatever; just make this quick,” Adrian said. “The boss has a job she wants me to do.”
“Same here,” Abigail said. For reasons yet to be explained to me, Abigail kept her arm wrapped around Irene, and the younger girl had the most forlorn expression of sadness on her face.
“Why are we here?” Michalis asked.
“Yesterday…Magnus was killed.” This remark was met with squabbles of protest and surprise from the other Bio Hybrids. Their concerns and confusion were of no surprise to me. They were still Human. I had been lost long ago to the darkness, so Magnus’s death left me feeling as emotionless as ever.
“I need to talk to you,” Flamedramon said.
“Flamedramon, what are you doing here?” I asked.
“Ever since I found my way out of that laboratory with Andromon, I’ve been trying to find you. There’s…something I need to ask you.”
“…I understand. Renamon…can you leave us alone for a moment?”
“If I’m not going to leave you alone with Clive, what makes you think I’ll leave you alone with Flamedramon?!” Renamon asked.
“It’s okay; he’s not going to hurt me,” I said.
“…Very well. I will take my leave of you for now.” Renamon began glowing, and in an instant, she disappeared.
“Zelda…you were born in the desert, weren’t you?” Flamedramon asked.
“Yes; I suppose it is rather easy to tell, isn’t it?” I asked.
“True; Humans from the desert dress in thin, light, and revealing clothing to avoid becoming overheated from the sun,” Flamedramon said. “People from the desert…they can be very cruel to those who do not share in their beliefs.” I sadly looked down towards the ground.
“Yes; they strictly follow the teachings of the Goddess Arcadia,” I added.
“You…you are just like me,” Flamedramon said.
“W—what do you mean?”
“You’re one of the Marked, aren’t you?” My heart nearly stopped when I heard that word.
He knows…he knows what that is? I…what should I do?! “I don’t…know what you’re talking about…”
“Don’t play dumb with me!” Flamedramon snapped. Reaching out, he grabbed my right arm by the wrist. His sharp claws dug into my skin, made me bleed; the pain was intense, as if I was being burned, but I did not cry out. “It’s right here, isn’t it?!” With his right claw, he yanked off the glove covering my right hand, on the back of which was the tear-shaped symbol that had caused me so much pain, agony, and ridicule in my youth. Flamedramon stared at the symbol, the symbol that signified that I was one of the Marked. “This…is what I’m talking about.”
“When we were at the lab, I had my suspicions. That’s why I had to follow you; I just had to know if you were like me.” Flamedramon let go of my arm and handed me my glove, and I promptly placed it back on my right hand, covering the fearful mark. “I had actually heard there was a wall mural with that very symbol. It is said that there is ancient writing on it, giving information about us, and I was hoping it would tell me more about myself.”
“…Twenty years ago…I used to be a Human. I had the mark, too…and I was murdered because of it,” Flamedramon said. “Some benevolent force out there — perhaps it was the Goddess Arcadia herself — saw fit to give me life once more, and when I awoke from what I thought was to be my eternal rest, I had the form of this Digimon…rather than the 10-year old Human boy I was when I was viciously slain.”
“…Is this why you’ve become a murderer?”
“If other people are going to deny my right to exist, what other choice do I have? Everyone…everyone except for the Marked, like the two of us, must perish! I’m surprised you aren’t doing the same.”
“No…no, I could never do what you do!” I said. “I’m part of a mercenary guild, but I don’t even like sending the Digimon I Summon to hurt the bandits we’ve been ordered to get rid of…” Flamedramon stared at me for the longest time.
“So…that’s how you are,” he finally said. “I suppose that isn’t a bad thing. I had heard you were a Summoner, so I thought you would be able to help me.”
“I could never help someone who only thinks of hurting others!”
“Fine. I’ll be going, then,” Flamedramon said. “…Your friends. Do they know what you are?”
“No…that’s probably why they’re still my friends,” I said.
“If they ever do find out about you…if they begin to hate you…I will find you. You will come with me…and you will help me,” Flamedramon said. I said nothing in return as the Digimon vanished into the distance.
“Damn it…I couldn’t find him!” A voice came from behind me.
“Hannah…” I turned as my older sister walked up to me, cautiously looking around the demolished city.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to find him, Zelda,” Hannah said. “But I promise; I will not let that man hurt you. Nobody will hurt my baby sister ever again…Oh, Zelda; I’m so happy to see you again!” Hannah pulled me into another comforting hug.
“…I’ve missed you so much, Hannah…” I flung my arms around her slender waist. The two of us stood, embracing each other, and I wished this moment would never end.
“Dead?! What do you mean Magnus is dead?!” Adrian asked.
“Forgive me if I don’t seem shaken up,” Michalis said. I saw Irene glance up at Abigail.
“Who…who was Magnus?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“Magnus…was very easily the strongest among all of us,” Abigail said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d have been capable of taking us all on at once and emerge victorious…”
“So, how did he die?” Adrian asked.
“He was fighting Thomas and Statuedramon, from what I’ve been told,” I said. “Statuedramon was somehow able to get BioBlastmon to turn back into his Human form.”
“Statuedramon?! That little runt?! But…he’s only a Rookie! BioBlastmon has strength comparable to that of a Mega!” Adrian shouted.
“Statuedramon was not the one who killed Magnus, though,” I continued. “Apparently, the knight known as Lector stabbed him in the chest after he had reverted to his Human form.”
“Why the hell would he do a thing like that?!” Abigail asked.
“Because I ordered him to.”
“Oh, I’m so glad you could join us,” I said. A man had just entered the room we were in.
“Who’s there?!” Adrian asked.
“Everyone, please welcome our newest comrade and — if I may say — strongest Bio Hybrid…Knight Commander Saias.”
“Saias? The Knight Commander Saias?! How’d he get to be a Bio Hybrid like us?” Adrian asked.
“He’s been one of us for quite some time now,” I said. “Ever since I battled him in the woods behind his villa and dragged his half-dead body over to Braig’s lab before it froze over.”
“So, why’d you order Lector to kill Magnus?” Abigail asked.
“Because he was weak. Apparently, Magnus was about to tell Thomas everything about what we do before Lector showed up,” Saias said.
“So, does he know about you?” Adrian asked. “Lector, I mean?”
“…No. He still thinks I’m dead.”
“I also called you all here to tell you something else of vital importance,” I said. “Apparently, it has been discovered…that quintessence is incapable of bringing others back from the dead like we once thought.”
“What?!” Abigail asked.
“I’m afraid that this information changes a few promises made,” I continued. “Promises made to bring others back to life…Well, whoever wished for such a thing is going to have to live with the fact that whoever they wanted revived is forever deceased.”
“Really? That’s interesting,” Michalis said sarcastically.
“You are all dismissed,” I said.
“Jeez, talk about a big waste of time,” Adrian said as he and the others, including Saias, left. Abigail, however, remained behind, and Irene stayed at her side, holding on as if for dear life.
“What the hell do you mean, quintessence can’t bring someone back to life?!” Abigail asked.
“I mean exactly what I say; nothing more, nothing less. You are dismissed, Abigail.”
“You can’t expect me to continue working for you, knowing that!” Abigail said. “You can’t expect me to risk my life for nothing!”
“Oh, are you saying you would rather be slaughtered? Because I can make that happen…if you decide to refuse our orders.” Abigail glared at me, but before long, she walked away in a huff and stormed out of the room.
The sky had grown from a pale blue to a deep, violet orange. The sun had almost vanished from the sky, and the shadows of demolished buildings were lengthening. “Well, that’s one more day wasted, and still no sign of her,” Statuedramon sighed. “The sun’s starting to go down…maybe we should call it quits for the day?”
“You can give up if you want to, Statch, but I won’t rest again until I find her,” I said.
“I didn’t say I was giving up altogether! Look; this is a fairly large city; there must be lots of places we haven’t checked yet! I’m just saying that when the sun goes down, it’ll be more difficult to find her in a place this large!”
“Even when the sun does go down, I’m not going to stop searching for her.”
“Admirable determination. But I wonder; do you think she really wants to be found?” A voice from behind me said.
“…Flamedramon?!” I looked up and gasped, nearly choking.
“What are you doing here?!” Statuedramon asked. “If it’s a fight you’re looking for, then—”
“I came here looking for something,” Flamedramon said. “I found what I was looking for a little while ago, and I thought I should show it to the two of you.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Come with me.” Statch and I reluctantly followed Flamedramon around the corner of a building. The sky had become completely dark, and many stars were coming into view as he led us through Cyclamen. At last, we stopped at a brick wall with an odd design on it. “There was supposed to be ancient writing here that gave information about this symbol…but they have worn away with age. Whatever. You two are familiar with who Goddess Arcadia is, are you not?”
“How could we not be? She’s the one who created all life,” Statuedramon said. “She raised this continent out of the ocean, and those that were the first created by her named it after her…Arcadia.”
“What is this?” I asked, looking at the design on the wall. It was golden and tear-shaped, and it was surrounded by three triangles: one red, one blue, and one green.
“The Goddess Arcadia is a loving and benevolent goddess, with a heart vast and gentle enough to forgive the crimes of even the most wicked of souls,” Flamedramon said. “However…there is one crime this so-called loving goddess refuses to forgive. Those who have committed the crime and all of their descendants from now until the end of time are forever emblazoned with this mark.”