****
Where Fate Turns
Chapter 1: When we first met
****

TITLE: Where Fate Turns
AUTHOR: Splash
EMAIL: guyminal@hotmail.com
ARCHIVE: Yes (email)
DISCLAIMER: Digimon and Ragnarok Online are not mine. Digimon belongs to Toei and Ragnarok belongs to Myung-Jin Lee.
WARNINGS: Yaoi, random gore, characters from any Digimon season
A/N: Crossover between Ragnarok Online and Digimon...! Two of my favorites in one! Squee! Anyhow, the main couples in this fic are Taito and Takouji. The style is simple and concise, just because I get lazy and I want to get the story moving at times. XD For the first chapters, it'll switch from both Taito and Takouji to get the plot moving... then I plan to seperate them by chapters. ^^

Dedicated to MegaBlorf, the Hunter who first showed me what it takes to be an Archer.

Those not familiar with Ragnarok Online can go to the official site to learn more: ragnarokonline.com

Here are some raw basics of the classes in RO I wrote, and the usual stats they excel in (there are exceptions for all classes, but they're too complicated to explain here):
Novice: Starting class

1st class-
Archer - Dexterous and Agile. Uses Bow and Arrows as weapons.
Thief - Agile and Powerful. Uses Daggers, One-handed Swords or Bow/Arrows as weapons.
Acolyte - High Intelligence magic and special abilities against Undead monsters. Uses Maces as weapons, or Rods for more Int.
Swordsman - High stamina and overal powerful. Best with One and Two-handed swords, but can also use Maces, Daggers, Axes and Spears.
Merchant - Can carry lots of weight and is good with money. Uses most of the same weapons as Swordsman except for Two-handed swords and Spears.
Mage - High Intelligence and Desterous for powerful magic attacks.

2nd class-
Knight - Advanced Swordsman class. Has the ability to become more skilled with the Spear or Two-handed Sword. Rides PecoPeco for faster transportation.
Hunter - Advanced Archer class. Manipulates large assortment of traps. Has Falcon aid.
Wizard - Advanced Mage class. Even more powerful magic attacks and more versatile.
Blacksmith - Advanced Merchant class. Has the ability to forge Daggers, Swords, Knuckles and Maces. Has many support skills to boost the attack of party.
Assassin - Advanced Thief class. Can equip two One-handed weapons in addition to Katars. Uses various poisoning techniques.
Priest - Advanced Acolyte class. Uses a large variety of support skills as well as one deadly Undead/Demon monster-killer.
(2-2 classes, recently released in RO):
Crusader - Advanced Swordsman class. Holy defenders with various Holy attacks and defense skills. Rides a different kind of PecoPeco.
Bard/Dancer - Advanced Archer class. Uses various support skills to enhance parties.
Sage - Advanced Mage class. Can attack while casting and uses magics with various effects.
Alchemist - Advanced Merchant class. Makes various potions, and can create/summon a Homunculus and other monsters.
Rogue - Advanced Thief class. Enhanced item stealing and mischevious skills such as stealing other skills or Back Stab.
Monk - Advanced Acolyte class. Manipulates Spirits and uses several massive damage dealers with large expenses.

****

~The course of fate... it does not take into account the factor of living nature~

****

In a world where large goats with death scythes killed hundreds of people daily and living joker cards could be seen, Taichi felt confused on what he was ready for. He was surrounded by orange topped mushrooms covered in spikes, and they looked quite intimidating. Maybe it was the fact that they were just as large as he was.

" They aren't coming after me at least," he mused out loud, preparing his prize cutter for any oncoming attack. He had gotten rid of his weaker knife after he had collected enough material from the metal-like Chonchon flies that swarmed vegetated areas. He had seen the more impressive Main-Gauches and Stilettos other people were weilding, but didn't let it get him down. As fascinated as he was with material items, he was a poor boy himself.

He also had a Composite bow, but in order to save money on buying arrows he only used it to perform his class skill Double Strafe, which tired him out quite a bit. Endurance would be something that would come with time, he knew that. Only recently had he gotten an impulse to collect items outside the usual Willow and Fabre. He had read the amazing values of material from things like snake scales and raccoon leaves, but he was certain he would have to become more skilled in order to obtain such valuables.

He spotted a Willow out of the corner of his eye, lazying around as usual. He met face to face with it, or at least to the hallow blots in the Willow's wood. And then, he jabbed straight into it with his Cutter.

His technique was quite poor, and he had trouble taking his weapon out of the wooden material. The Willow became irritated like any monster would, and beat on him, clamping its limbs onto his body. Taichi got smacked hard once before he dug the cutter into it again, right on the sweet spot. The Willow broke apart, revealing its contents of its insides. Taichi was accustomed to gathering potion ingredients from these creatures and then selling them for propering zeny. In fact, he was rather proud of his extensive knowledge of many objects from his studies. There were many things he had not seen in person and he was motivated to obtain.

One particularly being the rare Angelband, which was received from the Angelrings. They were beautiful white wings fitted on the head, and was said to give some sort of magical aid to the wearer. Angelrings themselves were certainly not a common sight. Taichi had once read that during their reign they tended to pop out and beat the living daylights out of anyone who saw them, and they were pretty good at it. And if people managed to kill it, the chances of its wings staying intact were close to nil, since they usually wither away during the killing. The same went for the halo on its head, which some collectors also sought.

Yes, Taichi enjoyed collecting things. He remembered his first material possession ever, an adorable Poring doll that still hung on his shelves back home. The pink water drop-like object imitated the actual creature, which most people liked to play with. They were strange things that liked to steal anything that was scattered around, and one would have to pop them open to retrieve their lost object.

Taichi was horrified to hear about dismantling Porings when his mother was teaching him in his early days, but she cleared up for him about the subject of "spawning;" in which God would immediately rebirth any monster in Midgard in a different location. It was a way to keep the balance in life, since most of the monsters barely interacted with one another. " We humans have a duty to maintain the balance, Taichi," she had lectured. " We have a truce with God and the monsters.

Taichi could still remember those early days as a novice, when he was afraid of killing Porings and other small monsters such as Lunatics and Fabres. The first time he tried to take on a willow, his younger sister Hikari had to heal him in the middle of the fight. She was a special girl, given direct power from God from birth, she was content on making her living as an acolyte. Taichi now, as an archer, killing Willows was just another walk across a room.

Today he ventured out farther than usual and found himself surrounded by the orange mushrooms. Perhaps if he Double Strafed one several times he could kill it. So that's what he did. Two arrows flung onto the monster, and to his amazement, it immediately fell over, creating a sound as if it was some kind of squeaky toy.

That wasn't so bad.

He went to observe the leftover contents of the monster, and while he was gathering some of its spores, he spotted something coming toward him in the corner of his eye. It was also mushroom shaped... ' Is it coming back for revenge?!?'

He got one closer look at it before his impulses told him to bring out his Guard Shield. It had a purple top instead of orange, and its spikes were much more intimidating...

CRASH went the impact from the mushroom ramming its head against the Guard over and over again. Taichi cried out, fearing for his life. The guard could break at any moment and he could receive the spikes next...

He waited for another crushing impact, but it didn't come. Instead, he hear a familiar "WEEE" like the monster he killed earlier.

Taichi got up from his huddling position, his Guard still ready, and found the area safe. But there ahead of him was something new...

Blonde, startling... stunning.

" You're lucky you had a Guard there. I wouldn't recommend you stay out here. There's some area that have normal spores and not the poison ones like that one I pummeled. It takes someone quite skilled for them."

And that just ruined it. Taichi gawked at the person's greeting, then decided to return it. " How dare you insult me like that?!? I'm not trying to prove myself more skilled than I am."

" I never said you were," the other replied matter-of-factly, " I'm just trying to help."

" Well, I don't need it."

" That's not what it looked like before."

Taichi frowned, but said no more. The blonde boy ushered Taichi out of the area in silence, and Taichi couldn't help but notice his eyes on him. " What is it?" he asked eventually.

" You haven't been outside Payon much, you like staying local."

Taichi blinked in surprise, curious as to how the blonde could be so observant. " Actually, I've never been anywhere outside the Payon area."

The blonde's eyes grew wide, " No wonder you fight like a newbie."

" NEWBIE? ME?" Taichi yelled, feeling fury building inside him.

" Sorry, but you are. I pity your kind that lives such sheltered lives."

Taichi was about to make a rude remark, but the blonde gave him a seriously concerned look. " Especially during these times. The poison spores aren't usually aggressive. Several other monsters have become aggressive as well these past several days, and I'm out to investigate. Something big is about to happen. Midgard is no longer going to be peaceful."

Taichi was simply confused. He had heard stories of this prophethized day when the world would turn to chaos, but he didn't know what to make of it. He gathered his arrows, stuffing them into his carrying case.

" You're an archer?" the blonde asked, " We're a struggling class."

Only then did Taichi notice the bow in the blonde's hand, a much more fancier one than the one given to him when he became an archer. " You have an Arbalest, but it looks slightly different..."

" It's a dexterous Arbalest, I had it powered up slightly. Other fighters will be powering up their equipment as well in preparation..." He paused, contemplating. " Come. I'll escort you back to Payon."

" I can find my way back on my own," Taichi said defiantly, his pride still hurt.

But then, there was a wave of wailing in the distance.

" Payon village is under attack," the blonde observed calmly.

" WHAT? My family will be in danger!" Taichi immediately set off, sprinting through the forest and past the town gates.

He ran to the village and it seemed peaceful for a moment, like he had imagined the danger. There were few people in the town, but they were minding their own business. In the village, no one was outside... But then, there was a howl, and he followed it... to his house.

He flung open the door and was unpleasantly greeted by the snarling of a beast. In the corner of the entrance room his sister Hikari was trapped, her mind concentrated on keeping a barrier up for protection. The beast was keeping an eye on her, waiting for her to exhaust her power.

Without thinking, Taichi loaded an arrow and shot it at the beast. It barely went through its fur. Its fangs now baring, Taichi wished he had taken more time to think.

" Get down!"

Taichi did as he was told, and suddenly arrows shot over his head and pierced into the beast's skin. He glanced back and saw the blonde boy again, shooting the life out of himself.

The beast was stunned, confused on what was hurting him. " It's the Vagabond wolf!" Yamato said. " Here, take these and shoot it. " Somehow, in the midst of his constant reloading, a bundle of blazing arrows made its way in Taichi's direction. He caught them and looked at them shortly. They had bright orange tails...

The wolf was after the blonde at this point, so he backed up and kept shooting at it. It was fierce, the beast, and shook off the arrows with ease, but it was enough to hold it back. The blonde had brought it outside for a reason... " Hurry up and shoot it, kid!"

Taichi loaded one of the arrows and shot it with all his might. It seemed to catch fire instantly, and burned right into the wolf. It howled in pain, the sizzling of the heat causing it to wince. Taichi loaded another and shot again.

Hikari had gotten up and was catching her breath outside the house, and saw her older brother taking on the monster. It was focused on the other archer, however, who occasionally irritated it with an arrow to keep it coming to him rather than Taichi. In fact, the wolf hadn't even seen Taichi yet.

" How many goddamn arrows can this thing take?!?" Taichi moaned.

" Stop complaining and keep shooting," the other said, on the run from the wolf. " I'm the one doing the tanking."

Hikari conjured up her beginning acolyte powers and endowed an agility boost for the blonde, then sat down to rest her strength.

The boost helped, but it made no guarantees. Taichi could only aim in close range to make sure he didn't hurt the blonde, and the arrows simply wouldn't stay on the wolf. They faded away magically, like porings did after they exploded.

Everything was keen and peachy until the blonde tripped and the Vagabond approached him. Taichi's heart skipped a beat, yelled out in worry, then as fast as he had ever done performed a double strafe with the burning arrows. One arrow hit the beast's cheek, the other went straight into its eye. An ugly white substance gushed out, streaming down its bloodied face, and the wolf was in so much pain it fell to the floor and surrendered its life.

The blonde archer got up, pulled up one of the arrows that had fallen off the wolf to use again later, and went up to the beast. " Vagabond Wolf," he said in his usual low tone voice, " Why have you disturbed this peaceful village? What has angered you so to appear and attack these innocent people?"

The wolf lay still, the arrow still protruding out of his eye disgustingly.

" Vagabond Wolf, answer me," he said firmly.

Taichi, still panting from shooting so much, sat down next to the wolf. Even though he had nearly lost his life from it, he couldn't help but awe at its beauty.

" Can it speak?" the brunette asked.

In response, the Vagabond growled, a deep gurgle in the back of its throat. The arrow in its cheek was giving it trouble to speak, but it suffered long enough for a single murmur. " Ymir..."

The blonde's eyes turned into saucers. " What has happened to Ymir? Is he no longer able to maintain the peace in Midgard?"

The wolf didn't answer. " Answer me, Vagabond Wolf."

Taichi's hear tore, feeling part of the pain the wolf was in. He had caught an element of empathy from his sister Hikari, but it was she who could take more of it in before suffering from it. Sometimes the pain would be too much for her, however, and then Taichi would be the one in ease. But now this wolf had him inticed... He groaned softly as he saw blood dripping out of the wolf's jaw.

" I understand," the blonde said solemnly, " I've made you suffer enough for your sins. Thank you for answering my first question, Vagabond Wolf..."

He cuddled the wolf's muzzle in last-minute prayer, then pulled a dagger from his belt and stabbed it straight into the Vagabond Wolf's cranium, piercing the brain. He quickly took it back out and swung it outward, droplets of... contents flying off. He did it with such rapidness there wasn't a trace of life on the blade, and he put it back on his belt.

They watched as the Vagabond Wolf faded away. " It'll spawn again for sure. And I doubt it will be willing to give away any more information, if it knows any. A knight was supposed to follow me, and he should be able to keep the wolf out of the village."

Taichi sighed, no longer feeling sorrow, but still concerned. All of a sudden, he jumped up. " Mother! Hikari, is mother all right?"

Hikari looked strained. " Mother... well, she..."

Taichi didn't wait for an answer and rushed past her into the house. After a small amount of searching, he saw his mother, lying limp on the bedroom floor.

****

" The Vagabond did something to her... she doesn't have any physical injuries but she won't wake up," Hikari said after examinations.

" She'll need a resurrection in order to regain consciousness," the blonde noted, crossing his arms and leaning against the doorway. " Only a Priest or Priestess can perform them, and at an expensive cost."

" Hey, that's the advanced acolyte class, isn't it?" Hikari said, " Then I'll work hard to become a Priestess."

" It's not easy to advance to the next class, especially for acolytes. It'll take time and patience."

" I can do it. My friend Takeru will help me."

" Takeru...?" his mouth opened slightly, " Takeru the swordsman?"

" Yes, do you know him?" Hikari said, her eyes giving a small sparkle, " He just became one and should be coming back from Izlude any day now."

" He's my younger brother..."

" Oh!" Hikari cried, " He never told me about you!"

" I... I don't stay home often..." he looked away, more to see the cracks in the old-styled floor.

Taichi, who had not done anything since the examination suddenly lifted his head. " We never introduced, fellow archer. I'm Taichi Yagami."

" I'm Hikari Yagami!"

The blonde shifted his eyes to the other boy. " Yamato Ishida," he said with some hesitation.

Taichi and Hikari suddenly realized that Yamato's last name did not match with Takeru Takaishi, but they didn't want to press the issue. Hikari excused herself to do studying, immediately set on her new goal.

Yamato, now with a trouble expression, stood up straight. " I have to speak with the archer guildmaster about this new situation. The Vagabond Wolf has not shown up in over 1,000 years until today, and you were not the first, so apparently it's here to stay for some reason."

" I'd like to come, too," Taichi said.

" This issue is for higher authority to handle. I doubt they'll like seeing starters getting into this mess."

" Hey, I learn fast, I can help out..."

" Do you have any idea how dangerous this is going to get?!?" Yamato spat, suddenly irritated.

" You didn't make it sound like it was a big deal with your tone before..."

" Well, sorry if I'm good at staying calm and controlled during harsh sitatuations." With that, he started out the door.

" ...Snob."

Yamato stopped mid-step. " What did you call me?"

" A snob!" Taichi said out loud, pouting. " You have no remorse for insulting people and you act all high and mighty! I bet I can beat you in archery any day."

" Don't jump to rash judgements just because I let you take down that Vagabond. I could have taken it down in half the time you did."

" Hmph, you still faltered when Hikari helped you out."

" What?!?" Yamato shouted, " I can't believe I'm still here and having this argument! I have urgent business to attend to."

" And I'm coming along."

" No you aren't."

" YES I AM!"

Yamato froze.

" Hikari and I have been dragged into this by chance, by fate, by whatever. Our mother is technically dead and we have a right to know why, whether you like it or not. If it's all part of something complicated, then so be it. I'm willing to find out."

Yamato looked at him without expression for quite some time, then sighed, giving up. He gave a half smile. " All right. Come along, follow me, newbie."

" I'm NOT a newbie!"

****

" The Vagabond Wolf is back? That hasn't appeared since the ancient war ten centuries ago!" the guildmaster cried.

" Yes, I know," Yamato said plainly, " I've studied the monsters in Midgard for years, and I have quite some experience fighting them. There are many much more difficult than the Vagabond..."

" Our long peace has been shattered, history will repeat itself," the guildmaster mused, " I heard wailing in the old dungeon around here, but I think I should send some recruits there. I'll gather a party of archers."

" Archers alone will not survive there, no matter how many in number. It's time we unite again with the other towns. Prontera, Morroc, Izlude, Geffen, AldeBaran, all of them. Wed need all the help we can get."

The guildmaster nodded. " Do you have any other information?"

Yamato avoided eye contact at that point, then looked down with a concentrated stare. " The Vagabond mentioned Ymir, but would not say anything else."

The guildmaster gained a face of enlightment. " The acolytes in Prontera have been sensing a disappearance in their lifeforce. Perhaps this is connected with it. Thank you for informing me."

Taichi stood up from his timid spot. " Sir? I'd like to help."

Yamato narrowed his eyes. " Sir, Taichi is only a beginning archer. I doubt he will survive in Payon Dungeon."

The guildmaster took one good gaze on the brunette. He had heard about his involvement from the Vagabond story earlier, and so... " Are you a fast one-on-one learner, kid? You look like it."

" Yes." It was modest, too...

" Yamato, I'd like you to teach this kid the works of Midgard."

" What?!? I've never taught anyone before, I became strong all on my own, I don't see how he can't either. I work solo!"

" I'm sure it's okay to take on an apprentice. And it hurts to see someone traveling alone all the time. Don't you ever feel lonely?"

Yamato's face went down a shade. " Mmm... Taichi, are you okay with it?"

" Sure!" Taichi replied, perhaps in a too cheery mood.

Yamato rested his hand on his chin and sighed for the sixteenth time that day. " All right. Prepare yourself, kid. You may never come home for loooooong time."

****

" Give me back my loot, you stupid Poring."

While Taichi picked up his stolen contents Yamato came over. " You'll need to start using your bow once we get deeper in the forest."

" I'm trying to save arrows," Taichi reasoned, " Where are we going anyhow?"

" Alberta. We'll take a ship to Izlude from there. It saves us a lot of walking. What do you specialize in kid? Apparently it's not the bow."

Taichi fumed. " Sorrrrry... I specialize in items all around the world."

Yamato didn't pay attention to his attitude, but brought out a strange blue orb from his pocket. " Do you know what this is?"

Taichi glanced at it and Oooed at the glowing sparks inside. " That's a Crystal Blue. Gather ten of those and you can refine it to Mystic Frozen, which can be compounded onto a weapon to make it a water elemental weapon."

The blonde blinked, then put the object back in his pocket. " You prove yourself correct. I got that in the Undersea Tunnel in Bibilan Island. I'll take you there sometime for training," he looked ahead of their path, then took an arrow out of his pack. " Stay close to me, we're going through poison spore territory."

They walked peacefully for several minutes, passing by the red spores with ease. Taichi thought they were out of the area once they spotted some other monsters (One looked particularly scary, like some large egg with eyes and cracked shell teeth), but as he went slightly ahead of Yamato...

" AAH!" He saw a large spike through his pants from the purple head next to him... Poison Spore!

It was about to hit him again...

" Taichi!"

Yamato made no hesitation to grab two arrows and blast them into the poison spore as a Double Strafe. The Poison Spore fell back and faded away, leaving Taichi agonizing on the ground.

" Taichi.." the blonde rush up to him, and brought out a cloth to cover the wound on Taichi's leg. No blood. ' No... this can't be happening already...'

As he was tying a knot to secure the bandage, Yamato certainly did not expect a response from the weakening Taichi... let alone a cuddly one. Yamato was kneeling over when he felt a grasp on his back... Taichi was hugging him.

At first impulse he was frightened. What the heck was Taichi thinking? But then he figured Taichi was just a little disillusional. No, the blonde shouldn't have felt security from that...

" We're almost to Alberta and there's still Poison Spores around, so I'll carry you there, " he said. He somehow turned around in Taichi's hold and brought the beginning archer onto his back, and continued his way.

As he neared Alberta, he was stopped by a female gasp.

" What happened to that poor archer?" she asked, her broad sword clanging at her side.

" Is there an acolyte around? This person was attacked by a Poison Spore."

She gasped again, but didn't pause further and ran into the city to get some help. Yamato followed her slowly, tiring from Taichi's weight. The brunette had fallen limp not long ago and became about twice as heavier.

The swordswoman returned witha pink haired acolyte. " Mimi can help you out."

Yamato set Taichi down right in the middle of the street, and passerbys watched as Mimi put her hands together. A glow of white light erupted from her hands, and she pressed them onto Taichi's wound.

" He'll be fine, the wound is quite superficial," Mimi said as she stood up, " But he'll be out for the rest of the day."

The swordswoman had been looking at Yamato the whole time, and finally spoke. " Have I seen you before?"

Yamato didn't brighten. " How would I know? I don't have your memory."

Dismayed, she decided to use a different approach. " My name is Sora Takenouchi. And you are...?"

The blonde hesitated. He wasn't keen on introductions, although why he hadn't paused long for Taichi was an enigma to him. "... Yamato Ishida. I'm on the official search crew for Ymir." ' At least I am now...'

" Search? Has Ymir gone missing?" Mimi said worriedly.

" That adds to the strange occurences," Sora added. " A strange abandoned pirate ship was discovered off the coast a while ago, but no one has lived to tell us more about it. I just hear lots of rumors about treasure buried there."

" There is business I have to attend to in Prontera," Yamato said, suddenly returning to a formal tone.

" Oh! Something big must be happening," Mimi piped, still in a cheery mood. " Will you wait for Taichi to rouse before departing?"

" He'll be fine on the ship. Thank you for the assistance, Mimi, Sora."

He picked up Taichi on his back and left the two females to continue blabbing about the news. Mimi could be heard from the distance... " Perhaps I will create a warp for us to go there... but I'll need a Blue Gemstone..."

He wasn't so sure about giving them the news, but he was more concerned with Taichi at the time.

All was pleasant and normal in the city. Many people were selling food and flowers... it depressed Yamato. Soon there would be weapons and other war items of mass destruction flooding the sales. Yamato already had his supplies, however...

With Taichi on his back still, he went into the Kapra inc. building in town and accessed his storage, pulling out some fighting gear that he had not touched for years...

****

Taichi dreamed of angels. Several of them flew by, and he felt that he recognized their faces, but he couldn't tell who they were. Their wings retracted and opened up, over and over again, lighting up the otherwise black area. One of them approached him, her robe flowing in her flight.

" Taichi," she said, " Do you plan to search for Ymir?"

" Yes..."

" Do you know your motif? What stake you want to take?"

His dream-self had little conscious, so he immediately answered in his sincerity. The information came straight from his mind, so there was no struggle in pulling it out. " I want to know the outside world. I want to become a strong fighter. I want to help my mother return to life. I want a companion..."

The angel seemed unphased, but... " Even if your dreams you are still able to be discreet toward the Goddess of Strength."

Taichi's eyes widened. " Goddess of Strength? What? Why?"

She smiled. " You are close to waking up, I see... your emotions are emerging. Taichi, times are going to become chaotic as it did 1,000 years ago. I am speaking to individual's through their dreams with this message. We of the immortal people have no power the fate bestowed upon you. This will be Ragnarok unless you choose a different path."

" Ragnarok? What is..."

He blinked and was startled to see Yamato as the angel instead, the wings grown smaller... He felt a breeze, he heard seagulls in the distance. Yamato was staring at him, obviously not noticing he had woken up. ' What... wait a sec, those wings are on his head...'

He made a grab for them, and it was Yamato's turn to be startled. The wings didn't come off easily, unfortunately for Taichi.

" Hey! This is mine, you idiot!" Yamato snapped, using an arm for protection.

Taichi let go, then watched as Yamato backed and adjusted his headgear. In awe, the brunette murmured, " Angelband..."

" Yes, it's our family heirloom, it was used in the war 1,000 years ago."

" And it still looks brand new..."

" It always does. It never gets dirty." Yamato stared out to the sea surrounding them. He obviously had no tempt to blab endlessly about it.

Taichi didn't have the strength to stand up, but he wasn't sure if it was from the shock or from the Poison Spore attack. " All these years of admiring it in my studies... And you have it, Yamato... You had one all along..."

" I try not to overuse it," Yamato said modestly. " Um... how are you feeling?"

Taichi moved around a bit, testing his leg joints and such. " Fine. Thanks for taking care of me."

Still focused on the water, Yamato turned a light crimsom. Taichi didn't catch it on time, but slunk back down to rest more. And the angels danced in his mind again...

****

He was awakened by the sound of hustle and bustle outside the ship, and stood up. Yamato was tending to his bow and brought it over his shoulder. " The ship landed a few minutes ago. Shall we leave?"

" Um, okay..." Taichi heaved himself up with his arms, then stumbled over on his leg. The blonde held him by the shoulder, but suddenly retracted. Some kind of spark hit him deep in his gut of his stomach. It didn't hurt him physically, but it sent a rush through all of his insides. What was...

His Angelband was twitching peculiarly, also in response as Taichi waited for Yamato to lead. Of all strange occurrences, could this boy have some kind of key to solve them? Or help destroy civilization? Perhaps humankind needed to be extreme and get rid of the brunette...

Yamato shook his head. " Let fate be."

He strode ahead, and Taichi was immediately entranced by the crowded streets surrounding them. He awed at the modernized buildings, the murmur of the people...

" Such activity..."

" Oh, let is off, Taichi. You haven't seen busy yet," Yamato said casually, " Izlude is the smallest city in Midgard."

He walked through the crowd with ease, little realizing that Taichi was having trouble keeping pace with his leg. He walked past the center shops, past the Kapra headquarters and onto the bridge leading to Prontera field. And it took him that long to figure out Taichi was no longer behind him.

" Taichi!" he called into the mass of people. ' If only I had a falcon... it could search him out.'

He puffed a heavy sigh, and then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something... " A vending merchant with rare items..."

Several people were surrounding the merchant's display, and it took a short while for Yamato to spot his target.

" Taichi, stop dwindling..."

The brunette's eyes were glittering and didn't hear him at all, however. The sight was too much for him. " Western Grace! Heaven Ring! Masquerade! Romantic Leaf!" He exclaimed, literally going down the display line naming things. " But they're all so expensive..."

All of a sudden Taichi lost all of his cheeriness, turned down by reality. Yamato saw this, and walked up to Taichi. " It must be so disappointing to know so much about things he could never have." Archers were poor people in general...

The merchant, a short stocky jolly man with a moustache and old-fashioned brown hat on, had a smile plastered on his face. " Anything interest ya particularly, laddie?" he said to Taichi in his jolly manner.

" Um... yes, but I cannot afford any of it..." Taichi replied solemnly.

" My dear laddie, I notice that your face is bare. It gaves me pain to see such a thing!" said the merchant, gesturing enough to make a small scene. " But I doubt your tastes are for something awkward like this Apple 'O Archer." He opened his hand toward the red fake apple with an arrow through. It contained some magical substance to increase an archer's strength when worn on the head. But the price, 750,000 zeny...

" Of course not, sir," Taichi said, " I don't even have close to 100,000 zeny..." his face slunk even lower than Yamato thought possible.

" I know!" The merchant cried suddenly, surprising both Yamato and Taichi. He shuffled through his large bag, and brought out something new. " These are a favorite among young laddies like yourself, but they always stop wearing them when they think they've found something 'cooler.'"

" A Kittyband," Yamato blurted, finding it strange that Taichi had not beaten him to the punch.

" And just for you, laddie," said the Merchant, holding the headband by letting the ears rest on his palm and the supports dangling on the sides. " It's yours for 50,000 zeny."

Taichi didn't say anything, and Yamato was once again surprised. Why was he so quiet? He glanced at the brunette and saw that Taichi had a completely unseen expression. He seemed to be close on the brink of tears, but was stone still on the outside. It broke Yamato's heart to see him like that... Yamato didn't want anybody to come out of this empty-handed...

" I'll pay it for him," he said, instantly reaching for his pocket," 50k on the dot."

" Are you his friend? I believe I've seen you before."

" Perhaps. I travel often. Here you go." He handed the bearded merchant the zeny.

" He must be quite obligated to have such a nice man accompanying him. Here, laddie, your new Kittyband." He held it out with both hands as if it were fragile like glass.

Yamato saw the expression on Taichi's face, which the merchant obviously could not read. " Uh, sir? I'll give it to him, he seems to be having problems at the moment."

The merchant nodded pleasantly and gave the Kittyband to Yamato, then waved farewell and immediately attended to other customers.

Before he knew what he was doing, Yamato put his arm around Taichi's back. " Taichi? Your Kittyband. It's not expensive for me, so don't feel bad... and you got a really good deal."

Taichi was still in shock. His direction of eye had not changed ever since Yamato made his offer. Yamato led him to a bench near the bridge and sat him down. Taichi just kept staring ahead.

" Here, I'll put it on for you." He kneeled down in front of the brunette.

Yamato stroked a few strands of Taichi's hair to fit the headband in, and carefully tucked it behind his ears. He paused before letting go, however. Another strange wave of something went through him at the contact. And as he held the Kittyband and part of Taichi's hair, he could feel more...

The Angelband twitched, and he felt as if some thunderstorm had hit him. He lost grasp of his own consciousness and could not sustain himself from the burst of energy. The last thing he saw was the shock of Taichi's soft hair...

****

Yeah... Takouji and Taito in the next part if people want it put up.. ^^;;;

Splash
gottaito.cjb.net