A Digi-Tale, part 1

by Time Lady


Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. I'm just borrowing them for the duration of this story.


Once upon a time, in a far away kingdom, lived a king and a queen. This royal couple had two children. The elder of the children, Prince Taichi, was engaged to a princess of a neighboring land. As this marriage was partially political and the princess an only child, it had been decided that the prince would go to his betrothed's kingdom to become joint ruler. Therefore the prince's younger sister, Princess Hikari, would ascend the throne.

Both the prince and princess were surrounded by loyal companions. Prince Taichi had two companions, Viscount Yamato and Lord Daisuke, who spent much time sharing the prince's interests, such as sports and music. Princess Hikari was often accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Miyako. The royal siblings spent part of their days with their tutors, Sir Koushiro, who taught them science and math, Sir Ken, who taught literature and history, and Lady Mimi, who ensured the young royals were skilled in manners and etiquette. Often with this group was Jou, the assistant to the royal physician. Humans were not the only companions of the prince and princess. Each young human had a loyal Digimon as their companion and confidant.

Viscount Yamato, as eldest son of a earl, could not spend as much time at the palace as he liked. Often the young man returned to his family's home to stay for several weeks, before being able to return to the palace. One of the reasons Yamato did not like to remain at his home was the absence of his mother. His mother had died in childbirth, delivering the count's younger brother Takeru. To some degree both Yamato and the earl blamed Takeru for their mother's death.

Takeru grew up practically a servant in his father's house. It did not help that his father's coffers were always running low. Along with two or three other servants, Takeru was expected to do the work of about ten people. His father hadn't even given Takeru a Digimon companion like other nobles' children. Takeru would have been alone if it wasn't for a Digiegg the boy had found when he was eight. By the time the earl had discovered it, the Digiegg had hatched and the Digimon bonded to Takeru. Patamon tried to help Takeru with his duties when he could. The rest of the time Patamon steered clear of Yamato's Digimon, Gabumon and the earl's Digimon Gazimon. Both Takeru and Patamon looked forward to the times that Yamato and Gabumon were at the palace with the prince. Not that the earl was any more considerate. Far from it. It was just that the two had an additional measure of peace and quiet without the added burden of Yamato's demands. And while Gazimon liked to play tricks on Patamon, he was never quite as demanding as Gabumon.

"TAKERU!" came the shout from the earl's study. The boy ran as fast as he could, skidding to a stop outside the door, before walking in.

"Yes sir?"

"Yamato will be returning tomorrow. Make sure his room is ready."

"Yes sir," replied Takeru, hiding the sadness in his voice. Yamato's return would mean more work. The elder son had no qualms about keeping the younger at his beck and call.

At the palace, Yamato was less than pleased with the idea of returning home. It would only be for a couple of weeks, but that would be two weeks too long. "I don't see why Father has to call me home every few weeks. DON'T DRAG MY CLOAK ON THE FLOOR!" he snarled as servants packed up the young noble's belongings.

"You would rather remain here?" asked Gabumon, lounging on Yamato's bed.

"Of course. Who wouldn't prefer to be surrounded by all this finery? To be waited on hand and foot?"

"I see what you mean. But there is the fun of making that runt Patamon work his rear off."

In the palace ballroom, a quartet of musicians played a waltz. "And one-two-three, one-two-three," instructed Lady Mimi. Prince Taichi spun Lady Miyako around the dance floor. Princess Hikari was not so lucky with Lord Daisuke.

"OW!" exclaimed Hikari. "HEY! My leg is not a ball!"

"I did not kick you!" protested Daisuke.

"No, that time you stepped on my foot."

"All right, that's enough!" exclaimed Mimi. "Daisuke, to be a gentleman of the court, you must take dancing seriously."

"Awww man. . . ."

"Besides, if you want to dance at the masque in honor of Princess Sora's visit, you're going to have to do better," added Miyako.

"Let's try something different. First, I need a partner. . . ." Mimi glanced at the doorway just as the physician's assistant entered with his Digimon. "Oh, good. Jou will do."

"Jou will do what?" asked the rather surprised young man.

"Help me demonstrate the next dance step," said Mimi as she dragged Jou to the middle of the floor.

"Good going Jou," said Gomamon, Jou's Digimon. Gomamon joined the other Digimon, who were watching their human companions.

"He looks like he's going to pass out," noted Gatomon, the Princess's Digimon. Jou proved a fast learner though, and was soon gliding across the floor with Mimi in his arms. The music ended and they returned to the others.

"Now, let's see if you were watching," said Mimi.

The musicians began again. The dancers were tentative with the dance steps - except for Daisuke, who threw himself in with extreme vigor.

"THAT DOES IT!" shouted Princess Hikari. "I have had it!"

"Aw come on your highness...." began Daisuke. His words fell on deaf ears as Hikari stormed out of the ballroom. Gatoman scampered after her. The two pushed past Yamato and Gabumon, who were just arriving.

"What's her problem?" muttered Yamato to himself.

"If you're going to try and get my sister interested in you," Yamato heard Taichi saying to Daisuke, "you're going to have to try and work harder."

"Well, if Hikari doesn't start looking at guys seriously, the king's going to arrange a marriage for her," said Miyako. "And somehow, I don't think the princess is going to be as lucky as you and Princess Sora."

"Daisuke's only chance at this point is going to be if the marriage is arranged and he manages to impress the king," said Veemon, Daisuke's Digimon, as the other Digimon approached the humans.

"I thought you were supposed to be on my side," said Daisuke in a hurt tone.

"Before dinner, do you guys want to battle?" asked Prince Taichi.

Mimi and Miyako winced. The guys could be at it for a good couple of hours with their Digimon battling. "Come on," said Miyako. "Let's go check on Hikari."

They found the princess in the library. Hikari sat in a window seat looking over a courtyard. "Those guys are impossible," she muttered as she heard them enter. Gatomon was curled up next to Hikari.

"They're male. What do you expect?" said Miyako.

"I resent that," said Hawkmon, her Digimon.

"You're different. And so is Sir Ken. . ." added Miyako hastily.

"Too bad Miyako's already latched on to Sir Ken," thought Hikari. "He's intelligent, sophisticated, and good looking."

"Don't worry," said Mimi. "They improve as they get older. Look at Jou and Sir Koushiro."

Hikari watched as her brother and his friends entered the courtyard. Gabumon, Veemon, and Agumon digivolved to champion their forms. "Sigh...."

"Why don't you leave her be?" suggested Gatomon.

"It looks like rain," noted Sir Koushirou as he walked into the library. "There are dark clouds on the horizon." He pointed out the window. Princess Hikari followed his gesture with her eyes.

"That's how I feel," she thought, resting her head against the window frame.

The next morning started out gray and dreary. Takeru went into the kitchen of the manor. Cook was going over her lists.

"Oh dear," she muttered. "We're out of truffles. And the young master does get upset if he doesn't have truffles with his eggs at breakfast. Takeru love, would you. . . ."

"Run to the market to purchase some?" he said, anticipating her request.

"Oh no!" replied Cook. "Last time we purchased truffles, the master fell into fits over the price. No, I was hoping you might go to the forest and hunt some up."

"Hunt some? That could take all day!"

"The rest of us can handle the chores, and the master will be busy with the young master's return. I'm sure you and Patamon would rather not be here then." Takeru sighed. Cook was right. But he knew if he didn't return with truffles and wasted a day out, his father would fly into a fury. "You fetch Patamon and I'll pack some lunch."

A short while later, Takeru and Patamon were hunting. "Why does she always ask us?" complained Patamon. "What does she think I am, a trained pig?"

"At least this gets us out of the manor for a few hours. And if we find some truffles, we won't have any problems."

By mid morning, however, they were despairing of finding even a mushroom. The time of year just wasn't right. Takeru was resigning himself to another lashing when the storm finally broke. This wasn't a simple little rain storm. Rain fell in torrents, practically flooding the ground. Takeru grabbed hold of Patamon and made his way toward a nearby cave.

"Great. Just great," he muttered as he leaned against a cave wall. "HEY!" he exclaimed as Patamon shook the water from his fur. "I'll get a lashing for sure." Takeru stared into the rain morosely. He would be lucky to make it back to the manor. But he would be soaked. Cook would be in a foul mood if she didn't receive her truffles and the earl would be in a foul mood for what he thought was time lost.

A sound nearby broke Takeru out of his train of thought. He saw something moving in the trees. It looked like a hat. "What's wrong," said Patamon.

"There's someone out there," replied Takeru. Suddenly he saw the hat fall. Without hesitating the boy ran out of the cave. A few feet away he found an old Digimon. "Come on, let me help you." Takeru's response was a low moan. The Digimon was heavy. Takeru half carried, half dragged it back to the cave.

"Who is it?" asked Patamon.

"I don't know. He seems to be coming around though."

"Where- where am I?" asked the Digimon.

"You're in a cave," said Takeru. "I brought you in here out of the storm."

"Thank you young man," said the Digimon with a shiver. "I was on my way to the capitol when I became lost."

"Takeru, there are some dry leaves and sticks towards the back of the cave," said Patamon. "Maybe we could start a fire." He dragged as much as he could forward. Takeru arranged the tinder into a small pile, then realized he didn't have a tinderbox with him.

"Allow me," said the Digimon. He pointed a finger at the pile, which burst into flames. The old Digimon chuckled at Takeru's and Patamon's shocked looks. "I am known as Wizardmon. I am a wandering magician. I use my talents to amaze and entertain."

"Wow, I've never met a real magician before," said Patamon.

"Might I inquire who my benefactors are?" asked Wizardmon.

"My name is Takeru, and this is my friend Patamon." Takeru looked a bit embarrassed. "I didn't do anything major. I saw you fall, and knew this storm would probably do some harm."

"You helped me, which is more than many people or Digimon would do," said Wizardmon. Amused, Wizardmon realized that the boy was unused to praise. "It's been a while since I have been in these parts. Though I maintain a home in the woods a small distance from here, I have spent the last 18 years journeying from kingdom to kingdom. Tell me. Do the earl and countess still govern this province?

"The earl does," said Takeru, a note of sadness in his eyes. Wizardmon looked at him curiously. Suddenly, in an outpouring of grief, Takeru told what he knew of his mother's death, and his subsequent rejection by his father and brother.

"I am surprised," said Wizardmon when Takeru finished. "The countess was so healthy and full of life when I last saw her. It was your brother's 4th birthday. She had asked me to entertain him, Prince Taichi, and a few other of their friends barely a couple of months before you were born. Such a lovely woman. She seemed so healthy."

"Yeah," said Takeru morosely. "And I killed her."

Wizardmon's eyes widened. "Is that what you believe?"

"Yamato said that if I wouldn't have been born, she would have lived. So yes."

"Let me see your hand," said Wizardmon. Surprised, Takeru obliged. Wizardmon put his hand over it, then closed his eyes. The old Digimon was silent for a few moments. "So that is it," said Wizardmon.

"What is?" asked Patamon.

"Takeru had no bearing on his mother's death," said Wizardmon. "I cast a spell of hindsight to see the truth. There was a broken stair in the manor. I remember tripping on it myself on occasion, and your mother yelling at your father to have it fixed. Just before you were due to be born, she tripped over the stair and fell down an entire flight. The fall killed her. The doctors were just able to save you." Wizardmon let go of Takeru's hand. "Your father has taken his anger towards himself out on you. Your brother was too young to understand, so he followed your father's lead." Wizardmon sighed ruefully.

Takeru sat on the ground and stared at his hand. Part of him felt as if a great burden had been lifted. His mother's death wasn't his fault. "Thank you. . . .," he said in a shocked whisper. "I never knew. No one ever told me."

"Your father could be a violent man towards all but your mother and brother," said Wizardmon. "I would guess that, while he couldn't hide that you were his son, he could ensure that no one told you what happened to your mother."

"I know well of his violent side," said Takeru, the memory of a previous lashing stinging his back. "I stopped questioning my life a long time ago."

"The countess was the force that gentled him," said Wizardmon, meeting Takeru's gaze. "You are much like her. Yamato was willful, like your father."

"If you two are going to talk, I am going to eat something," said Patamon grumpily.

"Ah, sure," said Takeru with a note of embarrassment. "Wizardmon, we don't have much, but you are welcome to share with us." Takeru pulled out the loaf of stale bread and hunk of salted meat Cook had packed for him. It wasn't much, or even appetizing, but at least she had packed something. He pulled out a pocket knife that he had purchased with many weeks of saving his meager allowance and began to cut the meat.

"Allow me," said Wizardmon. He removed his hat, and pulled out a small cooking pot and a basket. "Put the meat in the pot, cover it, and let's put it over the fire."

"I guess warm meat will be better than cold," said Takeru skeptically, following Wizardmon's direction. Wizardmon put the stale bread into the basket. After a few moments, a wonderful smell began filling the cave.

"Is Elecmon still around the manor?" asked Wizardmon.

"Elecmon?" Takeru looked confused. "I don't remember any Elecmons. . . ."

"Your mother's Digimon. A wonderful creature. He must have left after your mother's death to avoid dealing with your father's wrath," surmised Wizardmon as he peeked inside the pot.

"Wow. I guess warming that meat really helps," stated Patamon, who kept sniffing the air.

"That should be ready," said Wizardmon as he pulled three bowls, spoons, and a ladle out of his hat. Patamon and Takeru looked at each other in surprise. Wizardmon uncovered the pot. In place of the salted meat was a rich, savory stew with chunks of meat and vegetables. The bread in the basket was now soft and warm, like it had just come out of the oven.

Takeru and Patamon ate their fill. They hadn't tasted food so fine since the last time there was leftovers from one of the earl's feasts. The pot didn't empty untill all three were thoroughly satisfied. "I can't eat another bite," said Patamon.

"Thank you sir," said Takeru.

"I should thank you. You provided the materials from which the meal came," said Wizardmon, his eyes twinkling. "It appears as if the rain is letting up."

"It looks so," said Takeru with a melancholy sigh. "Now we'll have to return home without the truffles."

"Truffles is it?" said Wizardmon. "As I was gathering herbs the other day, I believe I had seen some near the great oak tree. About 30 yards from this cave."

Takeru's eyes lit up. Even a few truffles would be preferable to none. "Thank you sir," he said.

"You two go on, before a wild boar finds them," said Wizardmon.

"Will we ever see you again?" asked Patamon.

"Most certainly."

Patamon and Takeru followed Wizardmon's directions. Exactly as the old Digimon said, hidden amongst the roots of the old oak tree, were the rare delicacies known as truffles. Patamon's sensitive nose was able to find every single truffle under the tree. Once he was certain they had all the truffles, he sniffed the air. Hidden among the roots of two more nearby oak trees were practically a fortune in truffles. "You know Takeru, with this many truffles, we can stash some away and sell them in town."

"Would that be right?"

"It's your work here. They're going to expect maybe one third of what you have now. The money can go into your savings. You might even make enough here to finally run away and live your own life."

Takeru sighed. His greatest hope had been to save enough money so that he and Patamon could survive on their own. All of the servants knew how cruel the earl was to his youngest son. Sometimes the hope of being able to leave was all that kept Takeru going from day to day.

"If you don't keep some of these truffles to sell yourself, you'll never be able to keep your hope alive," said Patamon as he sat down next to his friend.

"You're right," said Takeru. "If I rely only on the few coppers my father gave me monthly, I'll never get out of here."

The two friends kept searching for truffles until the sun began to set. Takeru's basket was practically overflowing. He resolved to bring back an amount slightly more than he usually did, then to hide the rest near the manor in his secret safe place. Then tomorrow when he went to market for Cook, he could sell them. He noticed Patamon was rooting around another tree. "Come on pal. We can come back and hunt some more tomorrow."

"There's something shiny buried here," said Patamon. Takeru came over and helped Patamon clear away the ground. "Isn't this the place where you said you found my digi-egg?"

"Yeah, I thought this place looked familiar. But I don't think I need another digi-egg. You're more than enough Digimon for me to deal with."

"Ha-ha," replied Patamon sarcastically.

They cleared away dirt and dried leaves, until they came across a small object about the size of Takeru's palm. He picked it up, turned it over, and examined it. "It looks like a digivice," said Takeru. "Like the one Lord Daisuke owns, not like Yamato's."

"It must be one of the newer designed ones," said Patamon. "I've heard that every few years it seems to be redesigned."

"Someone must have lost it," said Takeru. "I'll take it with us. If we take it to the digi-registry in town tomorrow, they'll find the owner." As they stood to go, neither saw a pair of blue-tipped red ears peeking out from the bushes nearby.

The sun had just set by the time Takeru returned home. He emptied about half of the truffles into his hat, placed the digivice inside, then gave it to Patamon. Patamon flew his precious load up into a nearby tree that he and Takeru used as a temporary secret hiding place. With his basket still full of an impressive amount of truffles, Takeru ran inside at full speed.

"Where have you been," bellowed the earl as Takeru entered the servant's entrance.

"Gathering truffles sir," said Takeru with a bow of his head. "The storm forced me to take shelter."

"You'd best have brought back enough to warrant a day's work wasted," snarled the earl as he snatched the basket from the boy and inspected it.

"Double what I brought back last time sir," said Takeru, hoping Patamon was hiding their stash well.

With a practiced eye, the earl examined many of the truffles. From his own experience, Takeru knew he had over two pounds of precious delicacies worth a hundred gold per pound. "This will last several weeks if Cook uses them sparingly," admitted the earl.

"For once you've actually done something right, runt," said a voice behind the earl. Takeru froze when he saw Yamato standing behind the earl. "These will make for many enjoyable breakfasts."

"I serve to please," said Takeru, forcing his words carefully.

"You are dismissed," said the earl. "Make yourself presentable and be ready to serve dinner in a half hour."

"Yes sir." Takeru was out of there before Yamato could comment. The boy carried his precious cargo to the kitchen, where Cook received the truffles with much enthusiasm.

"Lad, you've given these old bones a worry," she said. "With that storm and all."

"I was fine," said Takeru. "I met an old Digimon named Wizardmon."

"Wizardmon's back? My, he hasn't been seen in these parts since before your dear mother. . . ." Cook hesitated. "You'd best go follow your father's orders," she said.

Despite his curiosity, Takeru nodded and went to the servants' bathroom to clean up. He wanted to ask the cook what she knew about his mother's death and Wizardmon. But her reluctance led the youth to believe that Cook's silence was due to promised beatings on the part of the earl.

to be continued

Author's notes: I have been working on this story for quite a while now. I know some of you may think some characters are acting out of character. But certain behaviors were needed for this story, so I have taken liberties where necessary for the sake of the story. Give the entire story a chance please. I have divided the story into sections to make it easier to read. As a whole, the entire story is around 50 pages in Microsoft Word.

- Time Lady