Knights, Thieves, Magicians, and Princesses

Part One: Ishada

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. If you REALLY thought I owned Digimon, then please do yourself a favor and cluck like a chicken while spinning around three times, and then shout 'Random Exploding Mooses'.

Author's Notes: Hello, it is the prodigious ArtikGato bringing you my latest Digimon fanfic, Knights, Thieves, Magicians and Princesses. That's the best title I could come up with for it, seriously. Anyway, the main characters are the Tamers, and the four main characters are the knight, the thief, the magician and the princess. Any guesses on who's who? ^_~ The other Tamers characters also have active roles in the story (or will, at least). The Adventure Digidestined are the Kings and Queens of the Kingdoms, and for any other characters I needed names for, I used a name of a Frontier Digidestined (note: I haven't seen even one episode of Frontier, so don't yell at me about the fact that Takuya is evil in this story, I just needed a name, honestly...). There really aren't any couples in the fic yet, though Matt is NOT with Sora in the story, and Jeri and Ryo are Matt's children...there are hints of Takato X Jeri and Jenrya X Rika, but that's pretty much all. Enjoy! And remember to review! Even if you're not a ff.net author, REVIEW ANYWAY!!!

            A gallant knight, clad in shining, silver mail, raced across the countryside of Ishada on the back of a gray colored steed. Little was known to those he passed about him or his mission, nor what the Knight was doing so far from his home. His armor bore the crest of the country of Izumi, far in the east. The knight rode on, until finally he came to a stop at the gate of a huge castle. This was the capitol castle of the large kingdom of Ishada. Here is where Yamato the Great lived. He stilled his horse, and then called out to the gatekeeper.

            "Is this the castle of Ishada?" the knight asked.

            "Yes. Who are you, that comes to this castle clad in battle armor? And bearing such a strange symbol?" the guard asked.

            "I am the knight Takato Matsuki, of the Izumi Kingdom in the east. I come with a message for Yamato the Great!" the knight exclaimed, holding up a parchment to show that he was truthful. The guard nodded, then opened the gate for the knight. Takato nodded to his horse, and the gray steed sped through the iron gate and into the castle. Dismounting swiftly, the knight handed the bridle of his horse to a squire, who led the beast off toward a stable.

            "You may rest now, Grani, and I will come later with food for you," he told the horse. The steed nodded, as if understanding the knight.

            Takato, the knight, strode into the castle, and quickly found the throne room. Bowing to the guards, the gallant knight cautiously entered the throne room.

            "Ah, Takato Matsuki of the Izumi kingdom. I have long awaited your arrival. What does Koushiro bid you tell me?" the king asked. Takato bowed, and removed his helmet. The knight had slightly spiky, brown, wild hair which was messy from the helmet, and maroon colored eyes.

            "King Yamato," Takato began. The king in question had blonde, shaggy hair and deep blue eyes. He was adorned in a robe of royal purple, blue, and green, with gold and silver trimming. A gold crown rested atop his head. "Koushiro, my king, bids me tell you that the fair kingdom of Izumi has been under siege since my departure, over five months ago," Takato said.

            "Who besieges your kingdom?" Yamato demanded, standing up so quickly that his overly large crown slipped from his head and clattered to the palace floor. King Yamato laughed nervously, blushing, and picked up the grown, glaring at it all the while.

            "The kingdom of Motomiya, which is to the west of us, sir," Takato replied.

            "King Daisuke? I knew it!" Yamato exclaimed.

            "King Koushiro is in need of your assistance. I fear that my kingdom may have already lost the war with Motomiya, since I have heard no tidings of the battle for two or three months," Takato informed the king.

            "This is indeed foul news. If Izumi falls, every kingdom near of it will surely fall as well! Full scale war shall surely erupt from this!" Yamato replied, anxiety thick in his voice.

            "Indeed," Takato replied, "Yamato, your kingdom is our greatest ally. Please do all that you can to help us," Yamato thought for a moment, and then seemed to come to a decision.

            "The Ishada Knights will march tomorrow. For now, you may find lodging here in the castle," Yamato told the knight.

            "Many thanks," the knight replied. Takato bowed, bid him farewell, and handed him the parchment, which detailed his knowledge of the severity of the war. He then turned and left.

            First, Takato set about to find lodging. Michiru, the queen, directed him to a spare bedroom. After changing into more casual clothes, he began to explore the populous town of Ishada.

            Ishada was a fair and lovely place, with spacious gardens surrounding the high walled Ishada Castle. There was a large stretch of grass, on which the bazaar was built. Takato quickly found a vegetable seller, and bought some carrots for his horse, and most trusted companion, Grani. As the knight continued to explore, he was unaware that someone was watching him...

           Ruki Makino was perched on a rooftop of one of the shops in the bazaar. She scanned the place, making note of many things. She was comparatively new to the prosperous town of Ishada. Ruki was a wandering thief, moving from town to town, stealing what she could. She had made her way to the kingdom of Ishada almost a month ago, and now was in its bustling capitol.            She was clad in midnight blue, with a brown cloak over her outfit. Ruki sat, almost motionless, trying to remain as inconspicuous as she could while she scanned the crowd.

            Deciding that the day was perfect to go pick pocketing, she quickly climbed down from the roof. Mingling among the swarms of townspeople, she easily and swiftly began her work.

            Nice bracelet...I'll just take that...

           

            Wow, this guy must be a pirate to have this many pieces of eight...

            That one had good taste in jewelry...

            A fifty dollar note! Wonderful!

She passed an important looking person wearing at least seven rings and hordes of necklaces. He walked away from her wearing one ring and no necklaces, and blissfully unaware of that fact. Ruki chuckled to herself. Another perfect crime... She deposited the hoards of gold jewelry in a pocket on the inside of her cloak.

            Her swiftness and agility was her talent. She could move so fast and flawlessly that no one could tell that they were being robbed. Seven years of thievery DID help. Over that period of time, she had grown from being a rookie thief with generous amounts of luck to a master criminal with perfect technique and precision. In fact, she could almost be considered a 'professional' thief, if one could be considered a professional at anything at the young age of sixteen.

            The girl wandered around the marketplace some more, snatching coin purses and jewelry left and right from unsuspecting by passers. Once the inner pockets of her cloak were filled with gold and silver (and the occasional bronze trinket, apple, or loaf of bread), Ruki decided to call it a day. That is, until she spotted someone very peculiar. He was standing at a vegetable seller's cart, buying carrots. What made him so different from the rest of the crowd was the way he was dressed. No one in Ishada dressed like him. Ruki, however, recognized the clothes from her world travels.

            He can't be from Ishada, not even royalty wear clothes of that fashion here. From the looks of his clothes, I'd say he's from one of the Eastern Kingdoms, Izumi probably. And from the material they're made of, I'd say he's royalty, or at the very least a knight, Ruki mused. An evil smile crept to her face, as she devised her next heist. Eastern jewelry is supposedly worth a pretty penny here in the western kingdoms...hmmm...I guess the only way to know is to find out. With that decided, she stole over to the knight. Using her innate swiftness, she grabbed the golden chain hanging around his neck. But, as she pulled her hand back, she found his attached to it! The knight turned around, his hand firmly around the chain, and glared at her.

            "I don't appreciate people trying to steal things from me," he said, and glared at her menacingly.

Ruki was in utter shock. Not since she was at least twelve had she been caught in the act of stealing...

            "How did you catch me??" She demanded. He didn't answer.

            "I should report you to the local authority," he said. She glared at him.      

            "Don't even try," she threatened. He released her hand, still looking sternly at her.

            "But, I wont," he continued, putting his gold chain back over his neck. Ruki blinked, and looked down at her hand, where the gold chain had been only a few seconds ago.           

            "What the-" she started.

            "Listen, don't let me catch you stealing again, got it? I'd hate to see a pretty girl like you thrown in jail or hanged," he told her, then turned to walk away. Ruki was now fuming.

            "Are you MOCKING me?" she demanded, grabbing him arm and forcefully jerking the knight back around to face her.

            "No," he replied, surprised. She glared at him.

            "Yeah right. How can you be sure that you would be ABLE to get me as far as the jail? Or that the jail could even hold me?" she asked.

            "I don't know. Most thieves can be taken down quite easily by a knight," Takato replied with a shrug.

            "I'm sorry, you must have me confused with a normal thief," Ruki replied, folding her arms. The knight blinked.

            "It doesn't take much skill to be a pickpocket," he said. She glared at him, her lavender eyes swirling with anger. Takato again turned to leave, but stopped.

            "You know, I've always wanted to meet a thief, so I could them why they steal things," he said.

            "Obviously, you are a noble, and not a person of poverty, otherwise, you'd understand," Ruki replied, vehemently.

            "But why stealing instead of something else?" Takato asked. She shrugged.

            "Stealing is easier. And, it beats some other lines of work," Ruki explained. Takato didn't say anything. Ruki shrugged again, and walked silently past him.

            "Hey, remember, don't let me catch you stealing again," he said to her, turning around. She grinned, and held up his gold chain.

            "Okay!" she exclaimed, and darted away through the crowd before Takato could blink. The knight looked down.

            "Aww nuts!!" Takato cried, finding that his gold chain had, again, been stolen by the thief. He ran off in the direction that she had darted off in, but that did him no good. After a good while of searching for the mysterious thief, Takato stalked off toward the castle.

            Perched on a ledge nearby was Ruki, laughing. She grinned, swinging the gold chain in front of her face.

            "I'll just be holding on to this, Mr. Knight," she said, and then laughed again.

            "My mother gave me that chain, too!" Takato growled, as he approached the castle. He went to the stable, where he found his horse, Grani. He gave the stallion a carrot, and then proceeded to climb onto the wooden divider that separated Grani's stall from the one to the left ot it. He sat on top of the divider, and, surprisingly, started to talk to the horse.

            He told Grani about his encounter with the thief earlier, grumbling and complaining about that, and about his meeting with Yamato. He would toss another carrot down to Grani ever once in a while. As he talked, Grani would nod his head or stamp the ground occasionally, as if the horse understood what the knight was saying to him.

            At that point, a maiden entered the stable. She wore a simple green dress, and had shoulder length brown hair. She walked. up to one of the occupied stalls, and began to tend to an elegant white horse. Just as she finished tending the horse, she heard Takato talking. Curious, she decided to go and investigate. At first, she thought that the knight had some companion with him that he was talking to, but as she drew closer, she could see only the horse and the knight.

            He must be crazy. Or maybe just lonely, she thought. She crept closer, and leaned up against one of the walls of the stall. That is when she noticed that the horse the knight appeared to be talking to her looked as if he understood what was being said. The horse would nod occasionally or shake his head when it corresponded to what was being said. The maiden was stunned. How could a horse understand human speech?

            "I miss home, don't you Grani?" the knight asked. The horse nodded in agreement. The maiden continued to watch in amazement. That is, until the board that she was leaning against gave way, sending her crashing into Grani's stall with a yelp. She had been leaning against the very same wall that Takato was perched on, so her sudden yell and the movement of the wall caused Takato to fall into the stall as well. Fortunately, they both landed on a large pile of hay. Unfortunately, Takato had landed on the maiden...

            Takato groaned in pain and confusion.

            "Ow...what in the world just happened?" he asked. Grani looked down at his master with concern. Takato sat up and rubbed his back, which he had landed quite painfully on. He suddenly heard a feminine, muffled groan from below him. He looked down, and yelped, jumped up, his face turning a deep crimson. He had landed on a maiden!

            "Oh my gosh, are you all right?" he asked. The maiden groaned again, and pushed herself up and out of the pile of hay. She stood up, spitting hay out of her mouth all the way, and wiping hay off of her face. Grani and Takato both flinched at the glare she gave.

            "I'm sorry, er, I guess...it was a complete accident...hey, why are you in Grani's stall, anyway?" Takato asked. The maiden began to pick hay out of her hair with an annoyed expression on her face.

            "Well, I heard you talking, and I was curious as to who you were talking to. Then, I figured you were crazy because you were talking to a horse, But, I noticed that he was nodding and...it IS a he, right?" she asked. Takato nodded.

            "His name is Grani," he informed her.

            "Grani, huh? What a weird name," the maiden remarked. Grani snorted and stamped his foot. The maiden giggled. "Wow, he really DOES understand human speech, doesn't he?" Grani nodded. She looked amazed.

            Takato watched her pet the gray stallion with one hand, while still brushing hay off of her dress with the other. Before, Takato had not had the chance to more than glance at her, but now that he had a chance to study her he was dumbstruck with her beauty. Her dark brown hair fell in waves down just past her shoulders. She wore a simple green dress that reached just to her knees. However the simpleness of the dress, Takato decided, only made her more unique, since most maidens wore frilly, puffy, flashy pink and white dresses. She had pale skin, and her eyes were a rich caramel brown. Takato sighed, blushing slightly. What luck I have! he thought, blushing slightly. Suddenly, he was snapped from his trance.

            "Did you hear me? I asked where you found such a horse as Grani, that can understand human speech," the maiden repeated. Takato blushed again.

            "Sorry, I was...um...daydreaming--Er, what I mean is I was...um, thinking! Yes, I was thinking!" Takato exclaimed. The maiden arched an eyebrow.         

            "Anyway, the tale of how I found Grani is a long one, but if you want me to, I'll tell you," he told her. The maiden nodded. "Well, first, I think that introductions are in order. My name is Takato, and I am a knight from the eastern country of Izumi," he told her. She looked surprised

            "Izumi? What brings you to Ishada from such a faraway kingdom? Especially when Izumi is under siege?" the maiden asked.

            "I have come to ask the king for his assistance in the--wait a minute, how did you know Izumi is under siege?" Takato asked.

            "My father told me," the maiden replied, absently. Takato looked puzzled.

            "Who is your father?" he inquired.

            "The king," she replied. Takato's heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds.

            "The....king?" he asked, fearfully. She nodded. He gulped. "That would make you Princess Jeri?" he asked. She nodded again. Takato started to panic.

            "What's wrong? Jeri asked. Grani looked concerned.

            "I fell on the princess! Ack!! Today is NOT my day!!" he exclaimed, and slapped his forehead.

            "It'll be all right! I'm not hurt or anything!" Jeri said, trying to calm the panicking knight.

            "I'll be thrown in jail! And tortured! And hanged!! Or burned at the stake!! ARGH!! I'LL BE PRESSED TO DEATH!! OH THE HUMANITY!!" Takato exclaimed, ignoring her.

            "Hey! HEY!! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!?!" Jeri demanded. Takato continued to panic.

            "Why me???" he shouted. Jeri finally got fed up with his panicking and grabbed his shoulders. She shook him forcefully...well, as forcefully as a princess could shake a knight.

            "LISTEN TO ME TAKATO!! It was an accident!! I'm fine!! You won't be hanged!!" the princess practically screamed at him.

            "I wont?" he asked. She smiled at him.

            "No, you big oaf!" she replied, and released his shoulders. He sighed in relief.

            "Now that we've got THAT straightened out...how about doing me a favor?" Jeri asked.

            "A favor?" Takato echoed. She nodded.

            "Just think of it as you making up for falling on me or something. There is a huge festival tonight, and I do not yet have an escort. Would you care to accompany me?" she asked.

            "Gladly!" Takato exclaimed, without even thinking. Jeri smiled happily.

            I can't believe my luck!! Takato thought, grinning.

            "Perfect," Ruki thought, as she scanned the crowd. This time around, she was perched atop one of the stone castle walls, surveying the rather large crowd of nobles below her. Night had fallen, which would have made a perfect scene for a large-scale crime...had not the courtyard been absolutely packed with torches and bonfires.

            "Oh well, the thief said to herself, "a large crowd of nobles is bound to have some valuable stuff among them."

            Ruki watched the crowd for a couple more minutes, then she jumped down, and got to work pick pocketing.

            Jeri led Takato through the crowd by his arm. She had since changed into a longer blue dress, because her green dress had hay all over it. Takato had also changed into more formal clothes. He stumbled in an attempt to keep up with the princess.

            "Jeri! Slow down, would ya?!" Takato exclaimed. Jeri turned back around.

            "Sorry Takato. But I want to get good seats for the magic act!" she apologized

`           "But you're the princess! Don't you automatically get a good seat?" Takato argued.

            "Nope. It's first come, first serve! Come on!" Jeri exclaimed, and continued to drag Takato through the crowd of nobles.

            Jenrya Lee was a nervous wreck. It was only ten more minutes until he and his father would begin the magic demonstration. He gulped, and continued to fidget.

            "Son," said Janyu, Jenrya's father, 'you need to relax. Everything will be fine."

            "But this will be the first time I've used magic since my training! How am I supposed to do this? IN front of PEOPLE nonetheless?!?" exclaimed Jenrya. Janyu looked thoughtful. It was true, Jenrya had been gone for close to two years training to become a sorcerer. Janyu didn't know the depths of his son's new power, since his training to be a sorcerer had been quite different compared to his son's.

            "I'm sure you'll be fine," Janyu said. Suddenly, a trumpet flare was heard.  "Come on, Jenrya. We're up!" Jenrya sighed, but got up and walked out onto the stage.

            "People of Ishada!" a very loud announcer began, "I am pleased to announce that tonight we have not one but TWO wizards to perform for you! Please welcome the father-son duo, Janyu and Jenrya Lee!!

            "Look, Takato! The magic show is starting!" Jeri exclaimed. A few feet away, Ruki heard her. She quickly finished stealing a solid gold bracelet studded with emeralds and diamonds from a rather snobby looking rich woman. She turned to look, and saw Takato.

            "Well well, we meet again, Mr. Knight," she said to herself, dropping her newly acquired bracelet into an inner pocket of her cloak. Suddenly, her attention was diverted by a bright flash of light. On stage, the elder magician threw a fireball into the air, and made it change shape into several recognizable creatures, including a dragon and a horse. The magician made the fireball change color and spiral upward, where it then exploded in a blast of color. The crowd cheered in awe. Ruki was unimpressed.

            "I've stolen fireworks with more of a bang than that," she muttered to herself. She suddenly smirked, noticing that the magician was wearing a lot of extravagant jewelry, including a huge jewel that looked to be a magic crystal. She began to plan how she could steal every bit of his jewelry, but she suddenly found that her planning was interrupted. Standing off to the far right of the elder magician was a younger magician, looking to be about Ruki's age. He looked as if he was trying to shrink into his cloak. The boy had blue hair, which was a common hair color for the Western kingdoms. She suddenly realized that he was looking at her. Normally, if she found anyone staring at her, she would have made a...rude gesture at them. But, for some reason, she didn't this time. Jenrya was suddenly brought back down to earth by his father elbowing him in the side.

            "Huh?" he asked, looking up at his father obliviously.

            "Time for you to do a trick, son," his father growled at him. Jenrya nodded, embarrassed, and took an awkward step forward. Before he could begin his trick, though, an arrogant voice interrupted him from the crowd.

            "Staring at girls again, eh Jenry?" asked the voice. Jenrya glared with vehemence at the owner of the arrogant voice.

            "Takuya," he snarled. The boy in question smirked at him.

            "I guess that means you remember me, Jenry," he said, snickering. He looked to be the same age as Jenrya, and had black hair with eerie light blue eyes.

            "Would you stop calling me that?!" Jenrya demanded.

            "Only if you'll get your act together and actually DO something!" Takuya exclaimed. Jenrya glared at him and muttered something along the lines of 'lightning'. He turned back around to do try to do a trick, but was interrupted again by Takuya.

            "Aww, is the all powerful wizard Jenry mad?" he taunted. Jenrya swore under his breath as the crowd laughed. Ruki glared at the crowd and began to plot to hurt the arrogant boy, Takuya, but then began to wonder why. Jenrya suddenly got a yellow aura around him, and turned around, glaring fiercely at Takuya. Takuya blinked in surprise. Static crackled around the blue haired boy, and suddenly leapt out from his aura and hit Takuya. The crowd gasped in shock. When the smoke around Takuya cleared, he was standing there with a terrified look on his face. His hair was frizzled up with static, and curved into two rather puffy devil horns.

            Ruki couldn't help it. She burst out laughing. Jenrya looked at her in a state of shock, while the now well-done Takuya glared at her. Ruki continued to laugh, the crowd joining her soon after.

            "Hey! Shut up, all of you!!" Takuya yelled at them, frantically trying to smooth his hair down, only to be zapped by the static still in it. The crowd ignored him. Enraged, he pushed through the crowd and ran toward Ruki. She just continued to laugh, seeming to ignore him.

            "Hey, watch out!" Jenrya yelled to her. Takuya drew a dagger out of his cloak, and lunged toward her.

            "No one laughs at Takuya Kinomoto and gets away with it!!" he exclaimed. Ruki smirked at him, and suddenly disappeared, Takuya landing face first in the dirt.

            "What?" Jenrya asked. Ruki suddenly appeared a few feet away from Takuya. The arrogant black haired boy pushed himself up, and glared at her in fury.

            "I don't know what you just did that but you'll PAY FOR THAT!!" he yelled, and lunged for her again. She jumped, and landed behind him, while he was still in midair. With one swift kick, she launched him across the courtyard, to land in a large mud puddle. The pigs wallowing in the mud paid him no heed at all, and settled down into the mud to go to sleep again. The crowd stared in awe.

            The mud puddle was more than 200 yards away.

            The crowd began to murmur in surprise and awe. "How did she do that?" "She must be very strong, and so fast!" "Takuya deserved that," Ruki looked smug. Jenrya suddenly burst out laughing on stage. A faint shout of 'Shut up all of you!!' came from across the courtyard, which only made him laugh harder. Ruki turned to the stage and smiled at him.

            "Nice job!" he called to her. She smirked.

            "The name's Ruki," she said, and darted off through the still startled crowd.

            "Jenrya..." Jenrya replied to empty air. The crowd turned back to the stage, deciding that this was probably all part of the show. Janyu cleared his throat.

            "We apologize for the...distraction," he said, glaring at his son.

            "Sorry..." Jenrya replied, sheepishly.

            "You can leave now. But don't let me catch you outside of the courtyard, got it?" Janyu told him. Jenrya gulped.

            "Yes, sir," he replied, and quickly left the stage.

            Takuya picked himself up out of the mud, with a disgusted look on his face.

            "That girl will wish she had never been born when I find her!!" he shouted in rage.

            "Back in the mud with the pigs where you belong, I see," said a voice behind him. He whipped around and glared at Ruki, who was perched atop a stone wall which surrounded the courtyard.

            "You! How dare you!! I am the son of the DUKE of TACHIKAWA!! You will pay dearly for-"

            "Can it. I didn't come here to hear you threaten me...not that you could do anything in the first place..." Ruki replied, offhandedly.

            "WHY YOU-"

            "You had it coming, anyway," Ruki replied. Takuya was seething with anger.

            "WILL YOU JUST LET ME SAY ONE-"

            "Anyway..." Ruki cut him off again. Takuya screamed a chain of profanities at her, and then reached for his dagger. A look of surprise fell across his face, and he looked down at the sheath that once contained his dagger.

            "What? Where is my dagger?!" he demanded, and began searching his pockets. Ruki grinned and almost giggled, as she held up a dagger which looked remarkably like Takuya's.

            "I should probably tell you, I'm a thief," she said. Takuya looked completely and totally shocked as he gaped at her. She suddenly darted off with a flash. The boy covered in mud suddenly realized what had happened to him.

            "GET BACK HERE YOU THIEF!! YOU WILL DIE!!!" he screamed in furious angry rage.

            "Takato, where are we going?" Jeri asked the knight. Takato looked around, and spotted the boy covered in mud.

            "Hello there! Did you see which way that girl went?" Takato asked. The boy glared at them, and sank further into the mud.

            "Why, do you know her or something?" he demanded.

            "Yeah...something like that. Did you see which way she went?" Takato asked again. The boy simply pointed in the last direction he'd seen Ruki go.

            "Thanks!" Takato called and ran off in the direction he'd pointed. Jeri started after him, but stopped and turned to Takuya.

            "You should really get out of the mud, it will stain your clothes!" she informed him, and ran after Takato. Takuya screamed in rage, and looked as if he was about to rip all of his hair out of his head.

            Jenrya looked around for the girl, Ruki, from earlier. He didn't see her, but he did see a very angry looking Takuya stalking toward him purposefully, still covered in mud. He snickered, and, with a sly grin, he snapped his fingers. Red energy swirled around them for a moment, and then disappeared. Takuya suddenly froze in place, as the mud quickly dried and immobilized him in a thick cake of mud that held like concrete, due to Jenrya's spell. Jenrya grinned at him wickedly, as he shouted profanities from across the courtyard, struggling in vain to free himself.

            "I love knowing magic," he said.

            "Jen!! JEN!!" he heard someone familiar shriek behind him. He turned around, only barely be able to catch a pink colored missile flying toward  him. A missile named Suichon, his little sister. The little six year old girl had faintly magenta colored hair, and eyes of a darker shade of the same color. She wore a fluffy pink dress.

            "Sui! What are you doing here?" he asked, putting the girl down on the ground.

            "Mommy and I came to see you and daddy do magic!" Suichon exclaimed.

            "You did, huh?" he asked.

            "Too bad that angry guy messed you up," Suichon replied. Jenrya smiled.

            "Well, at least he got what was coming to him," he said, smirking at the statue-like Takuya, who glared with vehemence at him.

            "Who was that girl that fought with him, Jen? The one you were staring at?" Suichon asked. Jenrya blinked in surprise.

            "I wasn't staring at her!" he defended. Suichon giggled.

            "Sure you were!" she exclaimed.

            "I was not!" he argued.

            "Attention everyone! Report to the center stage immediately for a very important announcement from King Yamato!" bellowed the announcer. Jeri immediately screeched to a halt, and Takato turned around.

            "My father is giving a speech!" she exclaimed, and suddenly turned and sprinted off back toward the courtyard.

            "Wait up!" Takato exclaimed, as Jeri ran off. He was about to run after her, when he heard an all-too-familiar voice behind him.

            "So, we meet again, Mr. Knight," the voice said. He whirled around, and there stood Ruki.

            "Hey...you're that thief from earlier! I found you!" he exclaimed.

            "Score one for the helmet-head," Ruki replied, sarcasm dripping from her voice. The knight glared at her.

            "What do you want?" he demanded.

            "I have a proposition for you," she replied.

            "Huh?" Takato asked, bewildered.

            "If you can get me back into that festival unnoticed," the thief began, and held up a familiar looking gold chain, "I'll give you this back,"

            "You will?!" exclaimed Takato. Ruki nodded. "Wait," the Knight began, "Where's the catch?"

            "There's no catch, you just have to create a distraction while I slip into the crowd, unnoticed," Ruki replied. Takato frowned.

            "You just want to get back into the crowd so that you can steal more stuff," he accused.

            "No, that's not-" suddenly, Ruki stopped, realizing what she had almost said.  "-err... I mean, yeah, that's right!" she exclaimed. Takato looked suspicious.

            "If you don't want to get back into the crowd to steal stuff, why else would you-" Takato began.

            "What do you MEAN?? I AM going back to steal more stuff! A thief's job is never done!" she exclaimed. Takato looked a bit puzzled, but then something dawned on him.

            "Oh, I get it! You want to get back into that festival so that you can talk to the magician!" Takato exclaimed in realization. Ruki looked shocked.

            "WHAT??" she screamed furiously, trying to add the fact that she was blushing. Takato snickered.

            "All right, I'll get you back into the festival," he agreed. She glared at him, but threw his gold chain at him. He caught it, and put it back around his neck, satisfied.

            "Fine, but just get this straight-I am there to STEAL! Got it?!" she demanded. Takato nodded, grinning.

            "And you'd better stop grinning! I don't see what's so funny!" she threatened him. He snickered. She growled at him in anger.

            "Come on, Armor Boy, we're wasting time," she huffed, and stalked off toward the festival.

            "My name isn't 'Armor Boy', it's Takato," he replied.

            "Well, isn't that special," she replied, icily.

            "Well, that's rude," he grumbled. She turned around and glared at him.

            "Are you coming or NOT?!?" she yelled.

            "Not until you tell me your name," he replied, folding his arms and smirking. She groaned.

            "Fine! Stupid Armor Boy! My name is Ruki Makino, master thief!" she exclaimed, and walked off.

            "Stop calling me Armor Boy!" he exclaimed, and ran after her.

            "People of Ishada," King Yamato began, silencing the crowd. "A messenger from our Eastern ally, Izumi, has come to me with grave news. It seems that, for some time now, Izumi has been under attack by the Kingdom of Motomiya..."

            As King Yamato continued his speech about the situation in Izumi, Takato and Ruki silently sneaked into the crowd.

            "Looks like I didn't need to make much of a distraction," Takato whispered, snickering.

            "Shut up!" Ruki whispered, furiously.

            "...therefore, I must ask that the Knights of Ishada march tomorrow, to aide Izumi in it's time of peril. I must also ask that not only the knights march, but also those that were appointed to help them on their march..." Yamato continued. Ruki suddenly spotted Jenrya, the magician from earlier. He was standing a good distance off, with what appeared to be a pink blob with hands, feet, and a head, on his shoulders. Ruki silently melted away into the crowd, leaving an oblivious Takato to wonder how she had been able to sneak off without him noticing.

            Just as Takato finally realized that Ruki wasn't behind him any more, he heard someone call him name. The knight turned to look, and discovered that Jeri had called his name. She was sitting in a cushioned chair on the stage, between King Yamato's chair, which was empty at the time, and another person. He had dark brown hair and blue eyes. Obviously, he was the Prince, Ryo. Beside the Prince sat Queen Michiru.

            The crowd hushed, and King Yamato stopped his speech. All eyes turned to Jeri.

            "Takato! Hey!" she exclaimed again. All eyes looked to the person that she was waving at. He waved back, nervously.

            "Hey, Jeri," he managed to croak out. She smiled. King Yamato cleared his throat.

            "Ah, yes, Takato Matsuki, the messenger from Izumi. It's nice to see you again. I trust that you've met my daughter?" Yamato asked. Takato gulped. Ruki, across the courtyard, shook her head.

            "Is that a rhetorical question?" she asked herself. Takato gulped.

            "Y-yes sir?" Takato answered, shakily. Yamato nodded, and continued with his speech. Takato let out a sigh of relief, as all eyes were drawn back to the king. All but two.

            "I am needed for a diplomatic meeting in Tachikawa, so I will not be able to go with the Ishada Knights to Izumi. Therefore, I must send someone in my place. I have decided to send Prince Ryo to lead the Knights," Yamato said. Ryo looked shocked.

            "Me?" he asked. Yamato turned to him.

            "Yes, you. You are old enough now to handle this responsibility, and I have faith in you," Yamato said to him. The crowd murmured in surprise at this new turn of events.

            The moon shone, pale and bright, in the star-filled sky. Ruki sighed, and looked up ati from her perch atop a building. The torches had long since been put out in the courtyard nearby. Yet, the thief could not sleep. For the first time in a long time, she was happy, and not the type of happy she got from a successful heist. Earlier that night, despite what that rude knight had said to her, she had gotten to talk to that blue haired magician.

            Jeri, Ryo and King Yamato had met in the throne room, at Jeri's request. Now, the sleepy looking king awaited her explanation agitatedly, and the prince rubbed his eyes, sleepily.

            "Father, I want to go to Izumi with the Knights," she said. Yamato, who had been drinking a glass of water, coughed and sputtered in surprise, dropping the glass. Ryo looked shocked.

            "Are you serious?" her father demanded. Jeri nodded in determination.

            "Forget it! You can't go, you're only a girl!" Ryo exclaimed. She glared at him.

            "There are many women going with the knights!" Jeri replied, indignantly. "There always are. And Ryo is only a year older than I am! So why can't I go?" Jeri pleaded. Ryo sighed, defeatedly.

            "Because you are the PRINCESS!! Princesses do NOT go marching off to God-knows-where with a bunch of barbarian knights! Out of question!" Yamato exclaimed. Jeri glared at him.

            "I will be in the same amount of danger as Ryo, if not LESS danger!" Jeri argued.

            "You're not going!" the king replied.

            "I just want to see the world outside of Ishada before I am forced to be married!" Jeri returned. The king opened his mouth, and then closed it, speechless.

            "Is this about that knight, Tomato or whatever?" Ryo asked, suddenly. Jeri fumed at him.

            "His name is TaKAto! And NO, this is NOT about him!" she nearly screamed. Ryo was about to retort, when Yamato stood up.

            "I've heard enough. You cannot go. Now, I need to get my sleep, because I leave for Tachikawa in the morning, "the king said, and started to walk out of the room.

            "But-" Jeri started.

            "End of discussion!" the king cut her off. "Now, go back to your chambers!" he ordered, and walked up. Jeri growled in annoyance, but stood, and trudged back to her room.

            Morning shone across the rooftops of Ishada. Just outside of the castle, a huge crowd was gathered. Thirty knights, clad in bluish-silver battle armor with the crest of Ishada emblazoned on the front of it, were gathered. The knights rode atop large, variously colored steeds, and one knight near the front of the troupe carried a large, blue flag with the crest of Ishada on it. At the front of the knights was Prince Ryo, wearing deep, dark blue armor, a rich blue cape, and riding upon a steed of golden color. Takato, wearing his silverish-purple armor and riding on Grani, was beside Ryo.

            Behind the knights were an assembly of covered wagons, pulled by oxen, and a medley of other people, who rode on horses. King Yamato, wearing gold armor and riding on a regal stallion, was at the front, facing the knights. Takuya sat on his own horse behind him. Takuya was dressed in silver-green armor, with the crest of Tachikawa emblazoned on it, and riding on a brown stallion. He wore no helmet, though, and anyone who looked closely could see mud still caked stiffly in his hair, making it seem spikier than it was to begin with.

            "My knights! It greatly saddens me that I cannot ride with you to Izumi. Fear not, though, because my son, the Prince Ryo, is riding with you! May you travel safely and in good health. And to you, Mr. Matsuki, I hope that your kingdom may be in good health as well. Now, I must depart!" Yamato exclaimed, and the crowd cheered as his speech ended. He then took off on horseback, followed by Takuya. The company of knights moved forward, followed by the troupe of wagons and other travelers.

            Jeri watched as the king and Takuya rode off. She let out a deep sigh, and pulled her green cloak around herself. She made sure her rucksack was comfortable on her back, and gave her white mare the signal to star moving forward, following behind a wagon. Riding along, she thought back to the events of earlier that morning. After her father had refused to let her go along with the knights, she had immediately hatched a new plan: she would disguise herself as a peasant and come along anyway.

            So, she had donned her favorite green cloak and "borrowed" one of her brother's smaller green outfits (since all she was allowed to own were dresses). Then, she had packed up a few necessary belongings, a good amount of money, and had sneaked out of the castle. Her plan was foolproof.

            At least, until she got caught.

            Fortunately, she had been caught by Hirokazu Shiora, a servant at the palace, and her best friend for all of her sixteen years.

            "Kazu is the only person that knows where I am," Jeri mused, "and he swore himself to secrecy, so I should be safe-" her monologue was cut short when she heard someone shout her name. She immediately stiffened in fear.

            "Oh no..." she muttered, and turned around, fearing the worst.

            Jeri sighed with relief. She was still safe. It was Hirokazu! He was running along, as fast as he could, his old, gray, tattered cloak flapping in the wind behind him. He looked exhausted, but continued to run. When he reached the horse Jeri was riding on, she helped him up onto it's back.

            "Kazu! I thought I told you to stay at the castle!" Jeri half-scolded, half-greeted him. The brown haired boy smirked, after having caught his breath, and replied:

            "What? And miss an adventure like THIS?!" Jeri smiled.

            "You never COULD turn down an adventure," the princess replied. Kazu's green eyes sparkled.

            "Besides, I couldn't let you come alone. This is dangerous, you know," he added.

           "I don't care! I just want to go out, see the world, and have a bunch of adventures!" she exclaimed. Kazu smiled, knowingly.

            "You never COULD turn down an adventure,"

            A few yards in front of the princess and the servant, the Lee family rumbled along in a covered wagon. Janyu and Kimura sat at the front, steering the oxen. Suichon happily played with her rabbit dolls inside, leaving Jenrya sitting with his legs dangling off the back of the wagon. He sighed wistfully.

            Jenrya hated how his family constantly had to follow the Ishada Knights wherever they went. However, his father was a professional sorcerer, and the knights had hired him, which meant that they really had no choice. Now, every time the Knights marched, so did the Lees.

            "Hey there, why so blue?" asked a familiar voice. Jenrya looked up from his inner monologue, startled. "No pun intended," the voice remarked. Jenrya almost couldn't believe his eyes.

            "R-ruki?" he asked. The strawberry blonde thief nodded, and jumped effortlessly from her horse to the wagon, plopping down beside a shocked Jenrya. The horse, seemingly unfazed, fell into a canter behind the wagon.

            "What are you doing here?" he asked. She shrugged.

            "I got bored with Ishada and decided a trip back to good ol' Izumi was in order," she replied.             "But I thought you traveled alone," he pointed out. She shrugged.

            "So did I," she replied. He shook his head.

            "You're the strangest person I've ever met," he replied.    

            "Thanks for the compliment, but I must say, you're not so normal yourself, mister blue haired magician with a death wish," she replied.

            "What's wrong with blue hair?" Jenrya demanded. Ruki grinned, and ruffled his hair.

            "Nothing," she replied.

            Takato sighed. The troupe of knights and wagons had been marching on for close to six hours now, at a constant, steady pace. The afternoon sun beat down on him, making him feel like he was being roasted alive inside of his armor. The troupe had yet to find a suitable place to stop and eat, and he felt like he would starve to death soon, if he didn't melt first. Worst of all, Prince Ryo, who was riding beside him, had not ceased in his excessive chatter since that morning, when he had begun.

            "And then there was that time when I was fourteen and father sent me and the Knights to kill a dragon..." Ryo continued into one of his boastful—and probably exaggerated—stories. Takato sighed again.

            This guy is quite possibly the MOST arrogant person on the planet! Does he really think that I care about his 'heroic' exploits? NO!! Takato thought. He considered shouting that at the prince, but decided not to.

            "...of course, I had to lead the charge. The dragon put up a huge fight..."

            Argh! I don't care, I don't care, I DON'T CARE!!!

           "Prince Ryo, sir, I think we've found a suitable resting place!" exclaimed one of the scout-knights, as he rode up. Ryo finally stopped talking.

            Thank you!! You are a Godsend!! Takato thought.

            "Where?" he asked.

            "We've found a small pond with a waterfall feeding it," the scout replied.

            "Well, we can't be in Ishada any more, because there is no such place within my kingdom," Ryo commented.

            "I believe we're now in Takaishi," the scout replied.

            "Takaishi?" Takato asked.

            "Ishada's brother kingdom. Takaishi's king is my uncle, Takeru," Ryo informed the knight.

            "I know that, but it just seems odd to me that we could be in Takaishi so quickly," Takato replied.

            "Yes, we HAVE covered a great deal of miles today," Ryo affirmed him.

            "So, we're stopping, then?" the scout asked. Ryo nodded, and the scout ran off, shouting the order to stop and set up camp.

And that's the end of the first chapter! How did you like it? I need some help from you reviewers: I'm going to include Kenta in the next chapter, but I can't decide what kind of medieval job I should give him. I was thinking about making him a medic or doctor, but what do you guys think? I'm also thinking about including Yamaki, Riley and Talley, but I can't figure out how to. And about the Digimon...don't worry, they'll be included soon enough...how is a surprise.