Irritating. That was the best word to describe his present situation. Deeply irritating, like the itch you can't scratch or the beeping you can't locate. Honestly, it was enough to drive anyone mad. As an already insane former dictator and current evil overlord, Lucemon was not at risk here. Still, the phrase resonated with him, bouncing off the walls of his hollow soul and echoing in the chasms of his mind. Drive him mad.

In the Dark Area, caged and paralyzed, there was nothing else for him to do. Sure, he could reach out, send tendrils of corruption into the minds of the vulnerable, work their worries and insecurities into a frenzy. That was always fun, and he usually got a nice pawn out of it. The problem was that these pawns were too frequently ineffectual. Yes, Cherubimon had dismantled the Celestial Triad, separating and imprisoning the only forces that could've possibly posed a threat to his plans. And the Royal Knights were coming along nicely with that feeding him the Digital World's data thing. Yet still the annoyance lingered.

How could six human children prove so persistent? It baffled him. Yes, the Royal Knights were still thoroughly thrashing them at every turn. And if they couldn't harm the Royal Knights then they had literally no chance against yours truly. Still, something about them gave him pause. These children had defeated Cherubimon who, though weak, was infused with his own corrupting power. Still they lived, despite routine encounters with his Royal Knights, who also wielded his gifted power. Their resilience was not just about survival; it was a resistance to him and something he did not know how to dissolve. Additionally, for his plan of glorious rebirth to come to fruition, everything in the Digital World had to pass into pure data, human children included. Which presented a minor but truly vexing problem: how was he going to make them become dead?

A presence disturbed him, drawing his attention away from his own morose sulking and into the dark ether. The Legendary Warriors had been thorough; his isolation was absolute, save for one, small, pinhole. All darkness touched the Dark Area, passing through it, briefly taking form. Thus, over the eons, he'd learned if he was patient and listened, then all the secrets of the Digital World became his to exploit. The Warrior of Darkness had warned of this, pointing out that the Dark Area itself was neutral, neither good nor evil, and storing such a powerfully evil entity as him would tip the balance. The consequences would ripple through the Digital World, borne on a wave of shadows and despair. Obviously the other nine had disagreed, thus leaving him with a sliver of opportunity to once again become all-powerful. Oops.

These whispers where how he'd reached out to Cherubimon, feeding his isolation and resentment, whispering back into the corners of his soul. A slow and subtle blight which transformed him into a dark ruler and unquestioning slave. Similarly, he'd reached into the Royal Knights and discovered that which they craved yet could not request. Loyalty is an easy enough thing to cultivate, if one was skilled and subtle. And had time. If there was one thing Lucemon had had in the past, it was time. Now he was on a schedule.

This new presence was less "new" and more "sudden." Everyone had secrets, unspoken anxieties and doubts, yet none were more potently felt in the Dark Area than the Chosen of Darkness's. Strange how a little boy could be so intimately linked to the shadows. Lucemon had watched him since his arrival, sent him visions to torment his soul and lead him to Cherubimon, relished his agony-fueled rage and reveled in his self-destructive behaviors. His control over the Darkness was noteworthy, and when he'd managed to fundamentally alter the Spirits of Darkness with nothing more than the force of his will, Lucemon had briefly considered the possibility that he might have something about which to be slightly concerned. Then he'd quickly relinquished that power to his twin brother and it became apparent that he was no threat. The catharsis had made him quiet in the Dark Area. It had been a real shame to loose such a reliable source of amusement.

There has to be something I can do. Something more than just watching from the sidelines. After everything I did, after everything I put him through, I need to do something to make it up.

The words bubbled up from some great depth of the Warrior's soul, slipping across the Dark Area like a breeze. Catching Lucemon's attention.

I thought I'd found a way to be strong, a way to fight, but now Kouji needs that power. I have nothing left to contribute. He can take care of himself, I know that, but the Royal Knights are too powerful. They've hurt him before and they'll do it again. And again and again until he's gone and I- I can't do anything. What happens when he can't fight anymore? How am I supposed to protect him?! I can't stand being so useless!

Lucemon, had his lips not been frozen by his imprisonment, would've grinned. There it was: the sweet pain of his heart. The anger. Not gone, just directed at something new. How refreshing it was to know this child who he'd briefly considered to be interesting was still just that, a child. A lonely, vulnerable, impressionable, fearful child. Something fell into place within Lucemon's mind and he felt positively giddy.

Of course, it was so simple, so obvious! These children wielded the Spirits of the Ten Legendary Warriors. And like the Warriors, their power, their durability, was not an artifact of any individual factor. Rather, their strength came from their unity. Disrupt that unity, demolish their power. All he had to do was insight a conflict, which was so profoundly simple he almost wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. But he had, when this Chosen of Darkness had first arrived. It had been a slip not to press this particular advantage, which he would correct shortly. Once corrupted, always tainted. The boy was as good as his. He would destroy the humans from the inside, eroding their confidence and cutting their precious bonds. Once those were out of the way, the Royal Knights could pick off the remainder with ease.

Drive him mad.

Ideally this process would take place over the course of months as Lucemon slowly penetrated into his core. Gradually lacing the child's thoughts with his words, confirming every fear and generating new ones, cultivating the rage like a seed, until finally he forgot himself and yielded to Lucemon's influence. Until he believed that he'd made a choice, rather than been chosen, and followed the Angel of Corruption's every whim as if it were his own goal. It could be another game for Lucemon to play, and the idea of slowly eroding a human soul was terribly enticing. But, as previously stated, he was on a timetable. Which necessitated a slight acceleration of his plan. It might shave off some of the fun, but the outcome would be the same. And really, that was Lucemon's main concern.

"Dynasmon. Crusadermon." He summoned their minds, willing this new directive into them, feeling their responsiveness bend like putty in his hand. It was only a matter of hours before he got what he desired. "The boy who holds the Spirits of Darkness: bring him to me unspoiled. Now."


Author's Note: It has been quite a while. I have been continuing to write the whole time but, since I have this nasty habit of taking years to update, I've instated a new policy: stories are done before the first chapter is even published. So this is complete and will be updated regularly. It's a short something I've been kicking around. Be forewarned, there are some twisted parts. It is listed under horror for that reason. But overall I would consider it mellow and introspective. Hopefully you'll all let me know what you think!

Enjoy!