Title: Fairytales Unlimited
Author: Miss Takin
Summary: The short tale of two knights, a kidnapped princess, an unhappily betrothed couple, two indecisive dukes, and the scandalous sidestories of kitchen maids and squires for your entertainment. Presenting, Fairytales Unlimited
Chapter: Day 1: The Kidnapping
A/N: Updated version of Day 1. A few changes here and there, nothing drastic.
Disclaimer: Toei owns Digimon and all related names, characters, items and locations. I don't. Also, don't expect me to be all historically correct. If someone does something that was impossible in the feudal era, just let it be.
The castle was still. The only ones not asleep on this night were the mice in the kitchen, who were searching for any crumb they could find.
But there was a shadow moving around outside the castle, a sinister presence that left a chill in its wake. The shadow found its way up the castle walls and looked through the windows to see if the rooms inside the castle held what it was looking for. On one of the uppermost floors, he found it.
There she was, sprawled peacefully beneath the blankets, her red hair fanning out on her pillow. She was an angel, the perfect young woman. She was the princess.
The window clicked open and the shadow slipped inside.
A fraction of a scream echoed through the castle before Princess Sora simply disappeared without a trace.
Sir Taichi Yagami was one of the best knights in the Takenouchi Kingdom, and he knew this for a fact. The king himself had told him so in person recently, after he had led a small army into battle against an enemy country and won almost single-handedly. Taichi had confidence in what he was about to do. That is, he had confidence before he entered the king's throne room.
Taichi looked up and saw the one man he had hoped not to see. Sir Yamato Ishida was the only other knight in the kingdom who could challenge his title as "The Best," and therefore, Taichi did not like him. The blond knight, who regarded Taichi with little more than disgust as he walked in, easily reciprocated this feeling.
"Sir Taichi?" the king said, nodding. His eyes barely had any of the life that Taichi remembered was there and he slumped a little in his throne.
"Your Highness," Taichi began, kneeling down, "I would like to be granted permission to lead a small army for the recovery of your daughter, the princess."
The king sighed. "I have just been speaking with Sir Yamato on this very matter."
Taichi glared across at Yamato, who was kneeling as well. The blond was always trying to outdo him.
"Your Highness, I assure you that for the love of the royal family and the love of my country, I am ready to carry out this task and bring your daughter home safely," he said, in hopes that it would win the king over.
King Takenouchi gave a pained laugh. "Almost an exact repeat of what Sir Yamato has just told me."
Taichi glared at the blond again, who glanced at him with an almost bored expression. Neither of them knew what to say, but each searched for the right words, knowing that the next person who said anything could be the winner.
"Your Highness, I have all the confidence that --,"
"I have already made preparations to leave," Yamato said, effectively cutting off the brunette. Taichi grunted in anger.
"Liar," he murmured.
"Excuse me?" the blond countered, looking up with those piercing eyes of his.
"You're a liar. How could you have prepared to leave if you didn't know whether or not you were actually going?" Taichi said in an accusing voice. The king watched in mild interest.
"I asked my squire to begin preparations as soon as I heard that the princess was missing. I wish to save her out of my love for the royal family, not out of some quest for heroism," Yamato shot at him, glaring with full force.
"Quest for heroism? You think that's what I'm after?" Taichi said. "I love my country and this family more than you could even dream about."
"Now that's the lie."
"I'll show you a lie--,"
The king looked at both of them in disapproval. "You two are my best knights" – they glared at each other again – "and you're fighting like children!" He took a moment of silence for dramatic effect, giving them both looks. "I have come to my decision. Rise, both of you."
Slowly, the two knights stood, watching the king warily in anticipation.
"I want both of you to go. If you manage not to kill each other first, you should have no trouble bringing my daughter back.
"She was taken to a small fortress in the west, just on the outside of the border to this country, and although her kidnapper has a few loyal men, they are nothing to worry about. I've been watching this man for a while, because of the suspicious activity he has stirred up in some of the villages. He could hardly be considered a threat, but he's a lunatic and his actions are unexplainable."
He looked at the two knights and he could tell from their faces that they were surprised by how much he knew. "The poor fool was decent enough to leave a ransom note," he said with a smile. "He wants to be king in exchange for returning my daughter."
Taichi and Yamato looked at each other in disbelief, briefly forgetting that they hated each other.
"Now, I wish I could send you two with at least a few men, but the King of Oikawa has been eyeing my land, and I simply cannot afford to let any more men go, despite the pain I feel from the loss of my daughter. I hope that you two will make haste in retrieving her."
The two knights nodded in unison.
"You are free to go."
They turned to leave, not saying anything until they had left the room.
As soon as the doors closed behind them, they turned on one another furiously.
"I can't believe you had the gall to call me a liar!"
"Well, that's what you are!"
"You can ask my squire!"
"Maybe I will!"
They turned away and stormed off in opposite directions, each trying to make his steps louder than the other's.
"What?" Daisuke said defensively, tearing his eyes away from the derriere of the kitchen maid who had bent over to get something out of the stove.
Takeru rolled his eyes as the kitchen maid stood up and shook her head to get the hair out of her face. She smiled at them and walked over to place the object she had just taken out of the stove in front of them on the table.
"Here's your pie," she said. "I made it just for you two, so you better finish it all."
"Thanks, Hikari," Takeru said, grabbing a knife and fork and digging in.
Daisuke did the same. "I am so hungry. Your brother's been working me to the bone, Hikari. I didn't think this would be so hard."
Hikari laughed. "You're a squire; of course it's going to be hard. Especially being his squire. You should've listened to me when I told you how much work it was going to be," she lectured.
"But I do get to be the squire to one of the best knights in the country."
"Too bad you couldn't be the squire to one of the best knights in the country and one of the calmest," Takeru teased. Daisuke mocked him with a frown.
Suddenly, the door to the garden opened with a slam and all three jumped.
"Daisuke! Pack up my horse, I'm leaving."
Taichi began to stalk away and Daisuke got up to follow him quickly.
"Where are we going?" he asked, trailing behind the knight eagerly.
"You're not going anywhere. Sir Yamato and I are going to save the princess. You are staying here."
"Why?" Daisuke asked immediately, not minding his manners around his knight.
"Because fate hates me," Taichi replied. "Now go pack up my things."
"Is Takeru going with Yamato?" Daisuke asked. "Because he already packed up all of their things this morning."
Taichi stopped and turned to look at him, letting out a frustrated sound which almost resembled a squeak as he did so. "Leave me alone!" he said, flailing his hands in mild fury and a touch of defeat. "Just go pack my stuff!"
The knight stomped off and Daisuke started walking back toward the kitchen, slouching in disappointment as he went.
"And get me a piece of that pie while you're at it!" Taichi called. Daisuke sighed.
Early that evening, Taichi and Yamato were saying their final farewells at the gate of the castle as they prepared to leave. Daisuke and Takeru were pretending to do a last check on the horses as they murmured to each other, making the odd joke about the two knights tearing each other apart on their journey. Taichi and Yamato's prowess was renown throughout the kingdom, but only those who were close to the two knights knew exactly how they felt about each other.
When the moment came, Yamato hoisted himself up onto his gray stallion, and Taichi did the same on his own sandy-colored steed, and then they were off. The castle slowly disappeared behind them as they traveled on the trail heading westward, slower now that no one was there to see them.
"You know, it's your fault that we're in this mess," Yamato finally said, breaking the silence.
"Oh? And how is that?" Taichi asked, feeling insulted just from being addressed by the blond.
"You started that argument in the throne room. I'm sure he decided this would be our punishment," Yamato said pompously.
"By sending us to save his daughter?" Taichi said sarcastically.
"By sending us to save his daughter alone together," Yamato replied.
"Yeah, well… whatever," Taichi said. Yamato shook his head and turned away and they continued on, down the trail.
Sora woke up in a room that was obviously not her own. First of all, the bed felt as if it was made of rock, and the walls had absolutely no decorations to be seen. It wasn't that she couldn't have lived in these conditions, but she liked her room for the fact that she knew where it was located.
Touching the area of her head that pained her, she suddenly remembered what had happened the night before. She had been knocked out and kidnapped. At that revelation, she let out an offended gasp.
Sora got up, stormed across the very small room and went to fling open the door, only to find that it was locked. She pulled on it vigorously a few times, determined to get it opened, before someone opened it for her. She took a couple steps back in surprise.
"Finally awake, Princess?" the guard asked, a frightening smile on his face as he stood in the doorway.
Sora regained her composure and stood up straight. "Yes, I am, and it would be nice to know where exactly it is that I have woken up," she said to him sternly.
"I'm afraid that's a bit too much to ask," he replied. He went to close the door.
"You wait one minute!" she said. She didn't like to boss people around, but desperate times…
"What is it?" he asked rudely.
"I can tolerate you closing this door, but I have to protest against it being locked," she said in her best princess voice.
"And what are you going to do about it?"
Sora glared at him. "I'm capable of a lot more than you think," she said.
"Like what?" he asked skeptically.
"My father had me trained to use a sword, you know. He didn't like taking chances."
The guard laughed.
"What's the point of locking it if you don't even think I'm a threat? Are you scared of me?" she asked, bewildered.
"No," he spat back.
"Then why lock it?"
He must have been particularly stupid, because after a few moments, he relented. "Fine, I won't lock it. But don't try anything."
She sighed in agreement and he closed the door, leaving it unlocked. Sora immediately sat down on the floor and began doing her best to break off one of the legs of the wooden bedframe.
"Jyou, what are you doing?"
Jyou jumped and looked around, only to let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, Iori, it's just you. I was afraid it was someone else…"
Iori stepped a little closer and looked at the horse that Jyou was placing saddlebags on. "Are you going somewhere?" he asked.
Jyou looked at him again, this time in surprise. "Of course I am. Didn't you hear? Princess Sora's been kidnapped, I have to go save her."
"Yes, I heard that," Iori said slowly, "and I also heard that the king sent out his two best knights to get her."
Jyou shook his head. "The king's two best knights don't love her like I do."
"Jyou, the king's two best knights are still going to do a much better job at getting her back than you would."
He looked down at him, and then back at the saddlebags. "You know, you're right," he said. "But I don't feel like it would be right for me to just sit here and wait for her to come back on the arm of one of those knights."
"If I know Princess Sora, she'll be dragging those two knights behind her, broken and battered," Iori said with a laugh. "Besides, your engagement is still a secret. All you're going to do by riding off to your doom is raise suspicion. No one's going to look down on you for not going, especially not Sora and the king."
Jyou nodded. "I just hope she gets home safely."
Hikari hated cleaning dishes.
Unfortunately for her, she was almost always the last one in the kitchen cleaning the grungiest dishes. It had a lot to do with the fact that out of all the senior kitchen maids, she happened to be the youngest. It didn't help that she was also a "freethinker" and could be caught saying things ladies should never say.
So here she was, scrubbing a pan for all she was worth, while everyone else prepared for bed.
The door opened behind her, letting in the last few rays of sunlight that peeked over the horizon. She shook her head in dismay.
"Daisuke and Takeru, I told you guys that if you want me to make something for you, come back after I've finished cleaning up. I don't have the time right now," she said.
There was no other answer but footsteps, and she paused in her scrubbing for a moment just before she felt two warm hands on her shoulders. She turned a little.
"Ken," she breathed out, a ghost of a smile appearing on her face.
He didn't say anything, but slowly lowered his head until their lips touched, just for an instant, before pulling away.
She dropped the dish and the sponge and hastily wiped her hands on her apron before throwing her arms around his neck. "I can't believe it!" she exclaimed. "I thought Sir Osamu was sent with a message to the Oikawa Kingdom, I thought you were still gone…"
He shook his head with a smile. "We came back earlier than expected. In fact, I just finished putting the horses back in the stable," he told her. He kissed her again, a little longer this time, and she lifted herself up on her toes to keep him there.
When they parted again, she took a few deep breaths and looked him up and down. His indigo hair was still a little windblown and his clothes looked more than a little worn. Just the way she liked him. "Come back to my quarters with me," she said, just above a whisper.
Ken broke into a smile. "I can't, not tonight," he told her. "I have to report back… there's too many things to do."
"Please," she begged. "You've been gone so long; it's the least you could do."
Ken shook his head. "We shouldn't even do such things without being married. It's bad enough that we carry on like this. I cannot do that, it's a matter of honor as well as love."
"Then talk to my father!" Hikari said. "He's not that protective of me, I'm sure he'll be fine with it."
Ken smiled again. "Later," he told her. "We're still young, Hikari, and I really think we should enjoy it while it lasts. But I promise you that I will talk to your father. Just not now."
Hikari looked up at him with an uneasy frown and he let out a laugh.
"Don't look at me like that," he teased, "a pout on those lips could stop an army if it needed to," he said before kissing it away. "I'll see you tomorrow. Right now I have work to do. With that, he resisted the urge to kiss her again and turned to walk away. Hikari watched him leave and then went back to scrubbing dishes, but with a smile on her face now in spite of herself.
"The sun is setting," Yamato said, staring at the darkening sky.
"Really?" Taichi asked sarcastically.
"Yes, really," Yamato shot back. "I think it's time we set up camp for the night."
Taichi pouted. "Well I say we keep going," he said.
Yamato rolled his eyes. "You're only saying that because I think we should stop."
"So what if I am?"
Yamato sighed in frustration before bringing his horse to a stop and then dismounting. Taichi turned to look at him.
"It's not even completely dark out yet," Taichi said. "The further we ride today, the sooner we get to the princess."
"Unfortunately, if we are tired when we march in to rescue her, we may just get killed," Yamato told him, leading his horse to the side of the road and into the forest. Taichi followed him.
"I haven't been killed yet, and I don't plan to any time soon. We're not going to get killed just because we're a little drowsy. That's what adrenaline's for," Taichi reasoned, dismounting.
"Well I'm not going to go in there with nothing to rely on but my adrenaline," Yamato said as he took off the armor on his chest, which he had worn more for ceremony than anything else. Taichi watched in dismay as the blond relieved his horse of the saddlebags before lifting his armor and then his cotton shirt over his head and packing them away.
"Pfft, you're so skinny. How do you survive being nothing but a twig?" he asked.
"I'm not skinny, I'm healthy," Yamato replied. "At least I don't have a gut on me, like some people."
"Hey, this is all muscle!" Taichi exclaimed, patting his stomach proudly.
"Yeah, it's all muscle… lining your gut."
"Well… punch me if you're so sure!" Taichi said, throwing his armor and his shirt onto the ground.
Yamato looked up and down his upper body in disgust, but he had to admit that the other man wasn't your average knight. There was a bit of definition on his arms and chest that Yamato couldn't help but notice.
"I'm not going to punch you in the stomach," he said.
"Because despite my urge to beat you to a pulp right here and now, you will be my only ally when we go to rescue the princess, and I'm not one to put myself at a disadvantage, especially considering the huge disadvantage we already have," Yamato explained. With a few calming breaths, he took the roll of blankets off from where it was lashed to the saddlebags, and he began laying out his bed. Taichi started taking off the armor on his legs and did the same.
"You're lucky to be working with me," he muttered.
Yamato rolled his eyes, packed away the rest of his armor and lay down in a cold silence, his back turned to Taichi as the brunette was laying out his own blankets.
"Fine then," he said to himself, and he lay down much in the same fashion.
It had taken a few hours for Sora to get the leg of the bed finally broken off. She had had to wait for her dinner to come, and then after taking one slurp of the disgusting soup, she had taken the blunt knife and begun hacking away at the bed. Now, she had something like a blunt stake and she put it down across from her on the floor as she wondered what she could do with it.
Judging by the light, or lack thereof, coming from her tiny window, the sun had just recently set. Sora thought about the guard at her door and whether there would be another one to watch all night long. In the end, she supposed it didn't really matter. Whoever was there would suffer what was to come.
Sora tiptoed to the door and listened for any sign of life outside. She held her blunt stake to her chest, taking a few deep breaths. Quietly, she opened the door and seeing that she had indeed been assigned a night guard, she opened the door further and just as he turned to see her, she whacked him on the head, trying not to make too much noise as she did so.
She flinched as he fell to the floor, but then quickly mobilized into action. She dragged him into her room and shut the door as soon as she could. Stepping back for a few seconds in disgust, she slowly began to peel off the outermost layer of his clothes.
She flipped him over on his stomach (because his face was scaring her a little) and then she took off her nightgown and replaced it with the pants, cotton shirt, and small bit of armor he had been wearing on his shoulders and chest.
Satisfied with a job well done, Sora took her piece of wood and crept out of the room quietly, unleashing herself on the fortress. As she ducked around corner after corner, the one thought on her mind was that there would be Hell to pay for kidnapping Princess Sora Takenouchi.