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Arcadia: Year 798
Cyprus Desert…Nothing about this place ever changed; an unbearably warm, barren locale with enough sand to cover all the contents and fill the oceans. And yet, to my dismay, there was no other option; bandits were following us. Angry bandits. Bandits whom we had attacked. Of course, if I had known better, and had the sense to look before attacking, I wouldn’t need to be trying to hide. My target was one of several leaders of a large bandit group, and information I had received led me to a town bordering the huge desert and Celosia Province known as Paeonia. The leader, naturally, was nowhere to be seen, and information I had gotten from the bandits who I didn’t kill told me he was in a desert village called Linnea.
Of course, knowing that wasn’t as helpful as it should have been. At the heart of the desert, where I was, there were no landmarks, no buildings, not even any Digimon, in sight, to help us find our way. Just sand. And the desert. The winds seemed to be constantly blowing and there was always sand in the air. How other Humans like me managed to live here was beyond me. Digimon, I could understand, but Humans? No clue. The wind hurled an unnecessarily large clump of sand into my face. No clue at all. Wiping the sand from my eyes and glasses, which sadly did nothing to help, I looked down at my traveling companion.
“Statuedramon… you’ve gotten us lost again, haven’t you?” I asked. The Digimon, short and covered in bronze armor, glared up at me. His body was covered in scars big and small from the countless battles he had been in, and his face was no exception. His right eye was completely obscured by a thin and rather long scar that ran from his forehead to the middle of his cheek. This only served to further increase his look of intimidation, a fact that filled him with pride.
“No, Thomas, I have NOT gotten us lost again!” My Digimon friend spoke to me in an irritated voice as he used his shield to protect his face and eyes from the sand. “I mean — I didn’t get us lost all those other times!”
“Riiiiight…you mean like the time we were lost in the forest, and we had to ask that Mojyamon for directions?” I looked down and grinned at the annoyed Rookie level Digimon. “And we all know how bad THEY are with directions…You know, the funny thing is that Mojyamon was able to get us out of the forest without any problem at all in just a matter of minutes…”
“Ok, ok, maybe we should have taken a left turn at the tree covered in poison ivy…that I accidentally walked into…”
“Which one? You walked into a total of thirteen trees covered in poison ivy.”
“The third one! But, anyway, I wasn’t as smart back then as I am now; it was a long time ago—”
“It’s been ten days, Statch,” I interrupted.
“A LONG TIME AGO, and now I know what I’m doing!” Statuedramon said indignantly, crossing his arms over his chest. “Trust me; in no time at all, we’ll be in Caladium Village.”
“Statuedramon, I’m impressed; you actually know where you’re going for once,” I said after we had just passed a sign half-buried in the sand. “Though, I would be more impressed if you hadn’t just read that sign saying we were five minutes away from Caladium, or if the village wasn’t in plain sight.”
“Oh, shut up!”
“Anyway, that’s beside the point; we’re supposed to be going to Linnea Village to the west of where we are, not Caladium to the south. We don’t have time to stop here, nor can we allow the people here to be endangered by our presence. Have you completely forgotten we’re being followed? We can’t just endanger innocent lives simply because we need to rest!”
“But Thomas, I’m hungry!” Statuedramon whined.
“You’re always hungry.”
“We Digimon can’t fight as well when we’re hungry!”
“Then it’s a wonder that you can fight at all.” That remark seemed to shut him up for a few moments, until he tugged on the sleeve of my coat.
“Thomas…that village is clearly in sight, correct?”
“…What’s your point?”
“They are following us, and they aren’t too far behind, from what I can smell,” Statuedramon said. Over the years, I had learned to trust the Ancient Dragon’s senses of hearing and smell as much as I learned to distrust his sense of direction. “That village is as clear as day.” I stopped walking, and Statuedramon bumped into me. “…You know what would happen, right? They’d ignore us completely, and head straight for Caladium. And I know you know what would happen from there.” I sighed, and looked down at him again. He gave me a fangy grin. I shook my head, and returned the grin.
I don’t know how he does it, I thought. I was constantly reminding myself not to underestimate the Digimon’s intelligence, in spite of his clumsiness, gluttony, and forgetfulness, because every time I did, he always managed to prove me extremely wrong. And yet, he never once rubbed my face in the fact…
“So, what say we go over to that village and take a little break?” he asked. “And when they do show up…we’ll be there to stop ’em!” I grabbed his small wrist and began sprinting toward the village, practically dragging the short Rookie behind me in the sand.
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” I said. Yes, we were finally out of the sand; yes, we were taking a rest in the cool shade, saving our strength for when our pursuers found us, and yes; we were finally out of the horrible sunlight. But did Statuedramon act like he was concerned for the well-being of the villagers? Nope. Instead, he sat on his ass, eating plate after plate of food — I don’t even know what kind of food, though, by the looks of it and the green mold covering it, I could tell it was quite old —at the bar of an outdoor food stand. The passing-by Humans and Digimon didn’t seem to be paying us outsiders any notice. The Digimon were typical desert dwellers; Reptile and Insect Digimon like Guilmon and SandYanmamon. The Humans seem to have adapted fairly well; their clothing was thin, revealing, and light, and many stayed in the shade as often as possible. Caladium itself was nothing special. It was no different from any other desert settlement; buildings made of stone, with cloth awnings offering cooling shade everywhere I looked. Though sand covered nearly everything, nothing looked particularly old. “You could at least act like you’re concerned about the people here, you know!”
“But I was hungry!” Statuedramon whined, shoving yet another plate of indistinguishable food — including the plate — into his mouth. “And you know I can’t fight alongside you if I’m hungry! In a place like this, you need all the help you can get if you get into a fight!” I grimaced, and Statuedramon went back to eating.
…Why did I even take this job in the first place? I should’ve known I wouldn’t be able to handle the heat of this damn desert…But I didn’t think I would have to go all the way into the desert; just a border town…
“I thought of your well-being before mine while I was hungry. Wasn’t that nice of me? How are you going to thank me?”
“…I’ll just accept that as the best gesture of kindness you can manage, Statch.”
“Well, same to you, jackass!” Statuedramon laughed. “‘ey, waiter, bring over some more of that mystery meat!”
“Of course, sir!” The waiter, a Digitamamon, happily gave Statuedramon more plates covered in food, all of which also looked spoiled.
“…Statuedramon, the only mystery about that meat is why you’re still eating it!”
“Nu-uh! There are two mysteries!” Statch protested. “What kind of meat is this, ya’ wiseass?!”
“Can’t you tell from the scent? It’s Ikkakumon. Now, can we leave soon? They might get here at any time now.”
“No way! We were damned lucky to find this outdoor restaurant, and I’m not leaving until I stop feeling hungry!”
This could take a few years…
“It’s my pleasure to be of service,” Digitamamon said happily. “From what I understand, operating restaurants is somewhat of a family tradition, so I’ll make sure to have all my sons and daughters, and each and every one of my descendants working in restaurants like this one!”
“That seems rather…forceful,” I noted.
“Yes, apparently, that’s also a family tradition,” Digitamamon admitted. “That too will be passed down to my descendants!”
“More food, please!” Statuedramon demanded.
“…You two are able to pay for all this food, aren’t you?” Digitamamon asked, his eyes narrowing as he looked at all the food Statch had eaten.
“O—oh, yes…yes, of course!” Statuedramon said nervously. “What, you think we’d leave without paying or something?” Digitamamon continued to glare at Statuedramon, but he finally turned away to look for more food as Statch asked, and when his back was to us, Statch leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You have some Florin, right?”
“Statch, you are in charge of the money, remember?” I asked stiffly.
“What?! Who’s the idiot that decided that?!” Statuedramon asked loudly, attracting Digitamamon’s attention.
“It was your decision.”
“Oh…so it was…”
“You two don’t have any money, do you?!” Digitamamon shouted at Statch, jumping up onto the counter. “How do you expect me to replace all that food you ate?! I’ll have you two working here for me until you’ve repaid me for all that you’ve eaten! I’ll have you scrubbing floors for a thousand—” As Digitamamon continued to shout at the cowering Rookie, a small Digimon spun and crashed into Digitamamon, knocking him off the counter. The Digimon uncurled itself and turned around to look at me and Statch.
“Gizamon!” Statuedramon gasped.
“Damn it, they’ve found us!” I reached down and removed my sword from its scabbard.
“Thomas, Sealsdramon at 6 o’clock!” Statuedramon shouted, pointing behind me.
“Death Behind!” As I turned to face the Sealsdramon behind me, the Digimon pulled out a knife and stabbed me in the back, near my right shoulder blade. The pain was intense, and I nearly dropped my sword, but I gripped its hilt tighter as I turned around and struck the Sealsdramon, splitting it right down the middle and instantly killing it. The Gizamon prepared to attack again, but Statuedramon pulled the knife out of my back and hurled it at the smaller Rookie, killing it.
“What the hell is going on?!” Digitamamon asked.
“Bandits, sir; you should go hide!” Statch exclaimed, and then turned to me as Digitamamon ran off. “You ok, buddy?”
“Yeah…let’s just make this quick.” I raised my sword up, pointing it at two approaching Human men, both of whom were carrying large axes. The two were incredibly muscular, and they had a savage look in their eyes. The one on my left was bald and, though muscular, was incredibly fat, while the one on my right had combed-back dark hair and wore dark shades, and was much smaller than the other. The one with hair smirked and snapped his fingers, and instantly, an enormous Digimon walked up behind the two of us.
“Minotarumon, smash ‘em to bits,” the man on my right said.
“Minotarumon smash!” The colossal Animal Digimon swung the weapon on his left hand, just barely missing the top of my head as I leaped out of the way. “Earthquake Drill!” The speed at which Minotarumon moved had taken me by surprise, and I had become quite unsteady from the blood I had lost when Sealsdramon stabbed me. My vision grew hazy, and I found myself unable to stand any longer. I fell to the ground, which was when Minotarumon slammed the weapon on his left arm against the back of my head.
“Thomas!” Statuedramon ran to my side as I collapsed to the ground; the sound of his voice was the last thing I heard before everything went dark around me.
“Thomas! Thomas, wake up, damn it!” I vigorously shook the unconscious body of my best friend. The two men controlling the savage Minotarumon exchanged amused glances. Behind them, I could see countless other bandits ravaging the village and murdering its inhabitants.
“Face it, buddy, your friend’s down for the count,” the smaller of the two men said. Behind him, a group of axe-wielding bandits and Gazimon surrounded a lone man. Ignoring the two in front of me, I ran for the bandit, but was knocked to the ground by the fat man, who slugged me in the face with his big, stubby hand.
Damn it; all of this is my fault…If I didn’t waste so much time eating…I’d have noticed them earlier…
“There ain’t no one around who can survive an attack like that,” the fat man said. I glared at the two men, one eye squinted and probably black, and blood slowly pouring from my cut lip, which made the two men laugh even harder. “Minotarumon, go ahead an’ smash ‘dis puny little guy to bits!”
“Minotarumon smash!” Minotarumon joyfully began running towards me, and though I menacingly brandished my sword, this did not deter the beast. He raised his left arm, ready to strike me, and I, immobile with fear, dropped my blade and fell to the ground. I closed my eyes and prepared for the impact of the Ultimate Digimon’s attack. When I did not feel his attack hit me, I opened my eyes, and standing before me was a beautiful, golden, foxlike Digimon holding back Minotarumon’s arm with a single hand — or rather, paw.
“Are you unharmed?” the Digimon asked. She spoke in a gentle, serene, almost heavenly voice. She was so beautiful, and yet something about her made me feel uneasy.
“Are you…Renamon?” I asked. Something about her…was different. She almost seemed to be glowing with light.
“That is correct,” the Digimon said. “My master believes you are having trouble, and wishes to assist you.”
“Renamon, please stop calling me that.” A young woman looking to be the same age as Thomas knelt down beside me and gently placed her hand around my arm and helped me stand up. “I’m not your master, and you aren’t a weapon, or a shield. We’re friends, Renamon, and nothing will ever change that.”
“As you desire, Milady,” Renamon said.
“Minotarumon, what the hell is takin’ so long?!” the fat man asked. “Smash ‘em all to bits!”
“Power Paw!” Renamon’s feet became engulfed in blue flames as she leapt up into the air, making Minotarumon’s attack miss and strike the ground where she had been moments before. Renamon then forcefully kicked the huge Ultimate Digimon across the face. Minotarumon toppled over onto the ground, howling in pain as his right hand clutched the side of his face that Renamon kicked. The two men commanding Minotarumon looked shocked as their Digimon began crying from the pain. Her icy blue gaze brought a look of fear to their faces. Other, nearby bandits saw what had happened, and they looked on as Renamon gracefully landed on the ground in front of them.
“…How? How could anyone…defeat Minotarumon?!” the fat man asked. “Just who the hell are you?!”
“Damn it, we’re going to have to retreat,” the smaller man said. At first, his companion grimaced at the thought, though he eventually conceded, and the two men ran off, joined by any nearby bandits.
“We’ll be back!” the fat man said as he and his companion vanished into the distance.
“Is your friend okay?” The young woman was kneeling beside Thomas. “This wound on his back looks terrible; what happened?!”
“He was stabbed earlier by a Sealsdramon,” I said. I lifted his right arm, drenched in blood. “Yeah, I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have pulled out the knife…That was probably dumb of me. My bad, buddy…”
“Can you help me carry him to my house? We need to stop the bleeding.” I walked over to my best friend’s side and helped the young woman pick him up.
“I shall remain out here,” Renamon said. “I will let you know if those men return.”
“Thank you, Renamon.”
“…Who are you?” I asked the woman as we carried Thomas into a house not ten feet from Digitamamon’s restaurant. The house was only a single story, so getting Thomas into the house’s sole bedroom wasn’t too difficult.
“You may call me Zelda,” the woman replied. “Would you please help me with him? I know how to fix his wound, and I have everything I need to do it…but seeing all of this blood makes me…kind of nervous…” I blinked, and then smiled at her.
“No problem. I’ll help you with anything you need.”