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 4: Conclusion
A/N: The final day of our adventure! Surprises ensue. Still an epilogue to come after this.
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.
And then he ran at her, a crazed look in his eye, his footsteps too quick to hear.
She was scared, but there was no time to admit it. Letting out a scream, she held up her sword at the last moment—
The next thing she could register was the blood seeping down the sword's handle and onto her hands, as she lay on her back, Lord Vamdemon's lifeless body half covering her own. The fire was hot around them, and her eyes widened in realization. She pushed the corpse away, hands shaking as she stood up and ran out the door.
Miyako's eyes fluttered open and she turned to look in the direction Princess Mimi was pointing.
"What's that glow from?" she wondered aloud.
"Tell the driver to head in that direction. I want to see what it is."
"You have got to stop picking thorn bushes as bathrooms," Yamato grumbled, woken up a few moments before by a surprised yelp.
"Hey, it's not… my…"
"What? It's not your what?" The blond propped himself up on his elbow to look over at his companion, but the brunette was staring off into the distance.
"Something's glowing. It looks like fire," Taichi stated, his brow furrowing.
"That looks like…"
Yamato and Taichi met each other's eyes.
"We better get going."
The fire was still burning when Princess Mimi's caravan approached the ruined castle. By that time, Prince Koushiro had woken up and all three passengers had their heads hanging out the windows, peering curiously at the flames.
Koushiro thrust out his hand, a finger pointed in the direction of a person – a young woman running toward them.
"Driver, stop!" Mimi called, and moments later the long train ground to a halt. Miyako was the first to step out onto the road.
"Please, you have to help me!" the young woman said. She held out her hands, traces of dried blood still there.
Miyako began to ask if she was alright, but the woman kept going. "My name is Sora – I'm the princess of the Takenouchi Kingdom. Please, you must help me get home!"
Miyako looked back at Mimi, who then looked at Koushiro. Koushiro glanced at the coming sunrise.
"The castle's not that far from here," he said. Mimi smiled excitedly.
"Really? We're going to help her?"
"Of course. If she's the King's daughter, this will be good for relations between countries. Not to mention it would be horrible to send her back on foot."
Mimi rolled her eyes. "Bring her in here, Miyako," she called. "We're taking her back home."
"Are you ready?"
Ken sighed and closed the saddle bag, patting the horse's flank a couple times before looking at his bride-to-be. "I think so," he replied.
"Don't be nervous," Hikari told him. "My father isn't a scary man. I'm sure he'll be happy to have you as part of the family."
"Oh, thank God, we thought we'd missed you."
Takeru appeared in the doorway of the stable, a broad grin of relief on his face. Daisuke was behind him, but opted to mope, slumping against the frame. Ken saw the brunette and gingerly touched the bruise on his jaw.
Hikari frowned. "You two. I'm not going to have you fighting for the rest of your lives." She crossed her arms and set her hip stubbornly. "We're not leaving until you make up."
"Hikari," Ken began, but she cut him off with a look that said 'you got me pregnant, you owe me' – and he could read it crystal clear.
Ken stepped toward Daisuke and held out his hand. "Please accept my apology," he said.
Daisuke watched him carefully. "I can't forgive you for taking Hikari away from me," he huffed, "but since you're the guy that's going to be taking care of her for the rest of her life; I guess I can learn to put up with you." He grabbed Ken's hand and shook it enthusiastically. "But if you hurt her" – his grip tightened – "I'll have to kill you."
Ken blinked, and then his lips curved into a soft smile. "Thank you."
"No problem," Daisuke replied, letting go of the other squire's hand and giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder. "I'm just glad I'm not the one dealing with her dad." Breaking into laughter, Daisuke turned away to rejoin Takeru. Ken paled a little more.
"Oh, I almost forgot…" Hikari turned toward her friends as Ken climbed up on the horse. "If my brother comes back before I do, could you tell him about all this?" She clambered up behind her lover with a sheepish smile on her face. "Thanks!"
Ken dug his heels in and they were off.
"WHAT?! She expects us to tell Taichi about – about that?!"
Daisuke fell to his knees, his head in his hands.
"Yeah, and since you're his squire, I think you should do it," Takeru said as he inched toward the door.
"Are you kidding?! Do you know what his reaction will be?! He'll freak out! I'll have to do five times the work I do already!"
"Yup. That sounds about right."
Daisuke looked up at Takeru, who by this time had crept far enough away to make a break for the squire's quarters. And that's exactly what he did, Daisuke in hot pursuit.
When the two knights saw the smoldering remains of the castle, later that morning, their hearts sunk.
It was horrible. It was death. It was failure.
Taichi fell to his knees.
Yamato was speechless.
"The castle burned down."
Yamato managed to pick up his feet and walk by Taichi, toward the fallen walls. Small fires still burned in some places, and he stomped one of them out stiffly. He turned to look back at his companion.
"Yamato… what if she's…?"
The blond set his jaw and scanned the area again. "I don't know."
"Shit… shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…"
Yamato turned around abruptly, glaring at the brunette. "What? What are you worried about?"
"What do you mean, what am I worried about? We have to go back to the King and tell him his daughter is missing and most likely dead," Taichi spat. "You think I want to do that?"
Yamato rolled his eyes. "You mean this isn't about missing out on your free pass to the throne?"
Taichi's expression changed quickly, offended. "You think I wanted to marry her? That was never what this was about!"
"Then what was this about, Taichi?"
"Doing my job! Keeping the kingdom safe!"
"You can't tell me it never crossed your mind!"
Yamato didn't know why, but he felt betrayed by that thought. If Taichi was keeping a secret like that from him all this time… it was unfair.
"No, it didn't!"
Yamato wasn't satisfied with that answer. Any man in the kingdom with half a brain would have wanted to marry Princess Sora. Sure, she wasn't exactly his type, but Taichi… Taichi must have wanted to get to the throne with this mission.
"Taichi, that doesn't make any sense. Why else would you agree to do this?"
"I told you!"
Yamato threw his arms up in the air. He was frustrated, upset, and he didn't know why. "So are you an idiot or do you just not like women?"
And there was that pregnant pause, that fatal blush that spread across Taichi's cheeks. Yamato caught it. He'd have to be blind to miss it.
"You don't like women."
Yamato buried his hands in his own hair and sat down on a fallen cornerstone.
"It's not like that! I just… never… it's not like that!"
"Taichi, just shut up…"
Taichi hung his head, his mind racing at the thought of their failed mission, the most likely dead princess, and this new secret of his Yamato had dug up. That secret could mean the end of his career – the end of his life.
Yamato got up to pace. Taichi tried to think of a way to figure this out, but everything at once was too overwhelming.
"What are we going to…"
"I said shut up!"
Yamato grabbed the front of Taichi's shirt and drew him in close, his blue eyes piercing right through the brunette. He wasn't angry at Taichi, and on some level Taichi knew that. But he still got defensive.
"You don't get it, Taichi. We're fucked because we got to be the lucky ones to find this. Not only do we have to go back with the bad news, but we have to find some way to give it to the King that won't end in our death!"
Taichi tried to splutter out a response, but he was blushing again. Yamato let go of his shirt and pushed him so hard he fell to the ground, unprepared.
"You idiot. What's your problem, anyway?"
"I'm obviously not the one with the problem, Ishida," Taichi countered. "At least I know I have anger issues!"
"I don't have anger issues!"
"Then why are you yelling at me!?"
Yamato couldn't think of an answer, so he let out a frustrated shout instead.
Taichi got up and brushed the dust and ash off his pants. "Let's just go back. The sooner we get back, the sooner we break the news, and the sooner the King decides what to do with us."
Silently, Yamato complied, starting down the road, a metaphorical thundercloud trailing him.
"What?" Yamato snapped.
Taichi gave him a frustrated look and then pointed to a small building beside the ruins of the castle.
"Stables," Yamato said. And with that, their defeat got a little lighter.
"How horrible it must have been, all alone in there!"
Mimi and Miyako were sitting on either side of Sora, watching her with wide, sparkling eyes. A fairytale, that's what this was. Sora was the noble damsel, fighting for her life against all odds. The girls were enthralled.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Miyako asked for what must have been the hundredth time.
"Yes, I'm alright now," Sora reassured her. She smiled shyly at both of them, keeping her hands daintily in her lap.
"Mimi, leave her alone," Koushiro said, from the other side of the carriage.
Mimi shot him a dirty look. "Shut up, you want to hear about just as much as we do." Koushiro rolled his eyes. Mimi turned back to Sora. "It must have been so terrifying, fighting that evil man."
"Yes, but I escaped and I'm alright now," Sora told them. She was much too shaken to go into detail about her last few hours in the castle. She just wanted to get home, back into the loving arms of her family, her fiancé, back into her nice warm bed.
"Why didn't you wait for the knights to come and rescue you?" Miyako asked.
"Knights?" Sora said.
"Oh, yes!" Mimi said. "Sir Taichi and Sir Yamato! They were on a quest to rescue a princess! It must have been you!"
"I… didn't really think about that," Sora replied sheepishly. "Father sent Sir Taichi and Sir Yamato after me?"
"Oh yes, and they were both so handsome too!" said Miyako. "Will you still marry one of them?"
"Marry?" Sora giggled. "I'm already engaged."
"What?!" both girls said at once.
"Yes, to a duke. We'll be getting married soon, I hope."
"But the princess is supposed to marry the knight in shining armor! The one who saves her from evil! That's how it is in all the stories," Miyako said.
"Well… they didn't really save me, I suppose," Sora said. "I hope they're alright."
"Those two? I'm sure they're fine." Mimi dismissed the sentiment and sat back in her seat with a sigh. "I wouldn't worry about them."
Taichi and Yamato weren't hurrying as they sat in their stolen saddles on the way back. Both were unusually quiet. Yamato was still trying to cool down and Taichi was giving him the silence he needed. But there was something he needed to ask.
"You… aren't going to tell the King, are you?"
"About what," Yamato asked, his voice flat, irritable.
"About me… being…"
"Why would I tell him that."
"Well I'm you're only real competition," Taichi said. "And the King would definitely dismiss me if he found out."
"I'm not going to tell him that you don't like women."
"Why not? That makes it so easy for you!"
"Who said I wanted it to be easy?" Yamato said. "Besides, it would be stupid for you to be dismissed for something like that."
Taichi sighed. "Thanks." He let the silence settle for just a moment before he spoke again. "I guess that means you would have gotten to marry her, then."
"I didn't want to marry her."
"You didn't? But any guy with half a brain would want to marry her. She's the princess."
"Well I didn't!" Yamato snapped. He turned cold eyes in Taichi's direction for a moment, causing Taichi to lean away instinctively.
"You know it's not my fault this happened. Being angry at me isn't going to solve anything."
"Since when were you the voice of reason?"
"Someone has to be!"
Yamato hunched his shoulders and snapped at the reins to make his horse pick up the pace.
"Why should I wait for you?" said the blond. "You've been dragging me down this whole trip."
Taichi couldn't answer immediately. He stopped a few curses before finally forming a sentence. "I've been—You really do think I'm just an attention-seeking jerk, don't you?"
"That's not what I said!"
"Then what is it?!"
Yamato stopped his horse abruptly, jumped off, and then reached up to grab the front of Taichi's shirt, pulling with enough force to drag Taichi down to the ground. Then, he punched him.
Taichi fought back quickly, tripping Yamato so that they were grappling together in the dirt. Punches landed with sick thuds as the each knight struggled for dominance over the other. Curses flew and were lost to the air between them. And something happened – something so sudden Taichi could barely register Yamato's lips were on his. When he finally did realize, he pushed Yamato away and stared up at him, bewildered.
"I just never either," Yamato said, looking back down at him with that cold, hard stare that Taichi had never realized was so intense.
After a thick moment of silence, Taichi grabbed the back of Yamato's neck and pulled him down, forcing their lips together again. At this point, the least they were returning to was an entire country in mourning because of the news they were bringing. Taichi couldn't find a good reason not to make out with Yamato in the middle of the road , so why the hell not?
Maybe this was just what they needed.
The call was made early in the evening. Dusk was only just starting to fall, but when the call was heard, everyone in the castle was up and running. A few younger knights were sent out to meet the lone carriage making its way toward the castle, and Duke Jyou insisted on being among them. On their way out, the carriage stopped and Princess Sora stepped out and ran to meet him, and as soon as he saw her he jumped off his horse and caught her in his arms.
"I missed you," she whispered into his ear, right before she caught his lips in a long-awaited kiss.
Roughly an hour later, everyone was settled. Prince Koushiro and Princess Mimi were enjoying an audience with King Takenouchi, and Princess Sora had washed and put on a new dress, holding Jyou's hand as they sat in the King's lush common room.
"You must come to our wedding," Sora said. "We'd love to have you."
"We'd love to come!" Mimi replied, barely glancing at Koushiro to gauge whether or not this was true. "When will it be?"
Sora looked at her father, who was smiling gently. "We shouldn't waste any time, don't you think?" he said. "I'd say a month would be long enough to make the preparations."
Jyou squeezed Sora's hand and she turned to smile at him.
"We'll be there," Koushiro said.
Mimi and Sora shared an excited smile.
"We'll be happy to have you, Prince Koushiro," King Takenouchi said.
"Oh, father," Sora began. "Did Sir Taichi and Sir Yamato return?"
"No, they did not. I'm sure they'll be back soon. Those two are my best knights."
"I hope they're alright."
"I wouldn't worry about them."
"Stop it, he doesn't like that kind!"
"Well that's the only kind we have!" Daisuke snapped, looking around at Miyako.
"You must have something else!"
"No, because we don't have stupid, picky horses!"
Miyako threw her hands in the air in frustration. "If he gets sick on the way home…"
"What are you going to do?" Daisuke said, rolling his eyes. "You'll be too far away to do anything to me by then."
"If I beat you now we won't have that problem."
Takeru stifled a giggle.
"What are you laughing at, Takaishi?"
Daisuke looked back at Miyako. "Stop tapping your foot, you're driving me insane!"
"Good!" Miyako said. "You know, you should really show me more respect! I'm Princess Mimi's personal handmaid, after all."
"That doesn't mean anything here, miss," Daisuke said.
"Okay, okay," Takeru finally said. "Cut it out, you two. I think we can all be a little more mature about--"
"She's the one that needs to be more mature!"
"Me?! You're the stubborn brat!"
Takeru rolled his eyes and gave up. He couldn't wait until his brother got home and there was more to do than feed horses all day.
It was much later that evening when Taichi and Yamato returned to the castle. As they approached, they could see bright lights in the courtyard, and they looked at each other in confusion.
"What do you think they're doing?" Taichi asked.
"I don't know…" Yamato replied. They picked up the pace.
When they entered the courtyard, they were greeted with the excitement of a party – everyone who lived in the castle was gathered there; drinking, talking, and dancing. On a raised platform opposite them were three chairs – the guests of honor.
The knights gave each other bewildered, embarrassed looks, and then they looked back up at Princess Sora. She had a radiant smile on her face as she talked to the young man at her left.
"Duke Kido," Yamato said. "I had no idea."
Taichi ran a hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly at the blond. "Guess neither of us really had a chance anyway, huh?"
Yamato whacked the back of Taichi's head in annoyance, but gave him a light smirk anyway.
Taichi turned to see Daisuke running through the crowd toward them. Takeru was close behind. Taichi acknowledged him with a nod when he stopped in front of him.
"Sir Taichi, welcome back! I gotta tell you, it's been really boring around here without any work to do. Not that I'm saying I want more work, but I'm just saying it's been boring, you know?"
Taichi nodded, not really listening to Daisuke rambling as Takeru shepherded Yamato away from them. The two knights shared a brief glance before paying attention to their respective squires.
"—I mean, what kind of horse only likes one type of grain anyway?" Daisuke laughed.
"Uh-huh," Taichi replied. "Ah, Daisuke, have you seen my sister?" he asked, scanning the crowd. "Shouldn't she be here?"
"O-oh. Well, about that." Daisuke became uncharacteristically quiet, and Taichi furrowed his eyebrows.
Elsewhere, Takeru was pulling Yamato away from the brunettes, just to ensure they'd both be safe when Daisuke broke the news.
"Wait, Takeru," Yamato said, stopping in his tracks. "Takeru, I have something I need to…" he paused, staring across the courtyard. "What is she doing here?!"
"Who?" Takeru looked around at the woman who had just noticed them and was making her way toward them. "Oh, that's uh… Princess Mimi, I think her name was. She and her husband are the ones that brought Princess Sora back."
"Sir Yamato!" Mimi called, approaching them. "It's so good to see you again!"
"The, ah, the pleasure is mine, Princess Mimi."
"I guess you and Sir Taichi missed out on your chances with Princess Sora," she giggled. "Sorry about that."
"It's alright, I think we'll both be fine, Princess--"
Back at the entrance to the courtyard, Taichi had his hands buried in his hair, pulling at it as his face got redder and redder. His mouth was hanging open unattractively as Daisuke stood before him, praying for an excuse to get out of there. The crowd in the courtyard had gone quiet, and all eyes were on them. Princess Sora giggled.
Yamato turned back to Princess Mimi. "I'm sorry, Princess. I should go make sure he doesn't… hurt anyone…"
The blond knight hurried off to help Daisuke escort Taichi out of the courtyard and back to his quarters, where the issue could be dealt with. The party continued on.
"I'm glad they came back safely," Sora said softly. "And they seem to be on much better terms than they were before. Was that your plan all along, father?"
King Takenouchi just smiled.
The party continued on.