Geez, has it been so long already? So sorry about the really long wait, people, but I had a really bad case of writer's block where I couldn't make anything coherent for a while there. Once I was finally over that, I kinda hurried to put this together, so you know this story isn't dead. It may take me a while sometimes, but I promise I'm not giving up on it. Shortest chapter yet, but like I said, I wanted a little something up here.

Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon in any way, m'kayz?

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"Lekismon, can I have a word with you?" The small rabbit digimon cringed at the voice, her blood running cold as she forced herself under control externally before turning to greet her superior. Talismon did not look amused as he stood there, hair in disarray and tip of his tail scorched. Her eyes widened in surprise at his ragged appearance.

"Of course, Lord Talismon! What's going on?" She asked, her voice laced with concern.

"Cut the act, bunny girl," He growled, displaying an impatience the collected warrior scarcely showed.

"Wh-what ac-" She stammered, her guise cracking with surprise. She'd been so careful, the only one knowing of her rebellious thoughts being Aquilamon…or so she'd thought. Talismon cut her off, and she knew then she was doomed.

"You know damn well what. You've been setting traps around the area for me. Why, I can't fathom, but knowing you, I'm sure you were behind that ambush on the mountain, too." She said nothing, and he took this to be a yes before continuing. "You do realize that your foolishness costs Lord Lucemon as well, don't you? Because of your interference back there, he had to sacrifice much of his own energy to get me here, and yet you continue to threaten me, therefore threatening to make this effort and vain and force him to expend even more of his own strength on trivial matters! It's-!"

"Lord Talismon, are you there?" Talismon paused at the voice, his rant coming to an unfulfilling close as he was forced to pick the crystal necklace up to answer.

"Yes, Aquilamon, what is it? I do hope you've found something important and aren't just wasting my time here."

"Don't worry, I have found the answer to your question. There are special shrines dedicated to the Ancient Warriors that give them this new power upon completion of certain trials. I have seen one myself to confirm this." The hybrid smiled.

"Interesting. Nice work, Aquilamon. Now all we need to do is eliminate these threats."

"I'm afraid it's not so simple. For one thing, nobody is certain where the rest of these temples reside, and even if you did find one, there are quite a few security measures in place to prevent any but the Chosen Warrior of that element from entering."

"I see…" Talismon murmured, a contemplating look crossing his features. He would have to take this matter up with Lucemon after he was done here. "Very well. You just stay there and see what else you can gain from them while we plan our next course of action. Report to me whenever you find something new."

"Will do, sir. But first, I must ask you a question…"

"Shoot," Talismon said, cocking an eyebrow in faint interest.

"Was there a Liollmon amongst our ranks assigned on a mission to destroy the Warrior of Flame?"

"No, they're a relatively rare species, not to mention stubborn from what I hear. We have none with us yet, and even if we did, where's the point in sending one off to meet its doom at their hands? Why do you ask..?"

"One of them showed up and led us to a volcano before growing hostile and shoving him into the lava. We haven't seen either since, so…"

"Well, this is an interesting development. Bloodthirsty, suicidal Liollmon and a Warrior getting done in by his own element." Talismon sighed. He'd somehow known from the beginning that Takuya would be the first to go, considering the hyper teen was always managing to get himself into trouble. But something just didn't add up about it. Why target the Warrior of Flame in an area that was ruled by that element? "No matter. If he is dead, then that's one less problem for us later. I must be going now, so was there anything else important you needed to talk to me about?"

"That is all, my lord."

"Then I will talk to you later, hopefully soon if all goes well." The light faded from the crystal, signaling the end of the transmission, and Talismon returned his full attention to Lekismon, who hadn't dared tried to sneak out under her superior's fierce gaze. "Now then, back to our business…" Lekismon looked down, fear in her eyes. He knew all about her. It was all over… Silence reigned for a long few moments, and the anticipation got to her as she looked up at him with a sad but hateful glare.

"What are you waiting for? A confirmation?! Okay, I did it! I did all of it! Now just get this over with already!" She snapped. He continued to stare at her emotionlessly before walking over and placing a hand on her shoulder, causing her to tense up. A small smirk spread across his face as he looked down sideways at her and spoke at last.

"You're a very devoted follower of Lucemon, aren't you?" Lekismon blinked and looked up at him in confusion.

"Yes, of course! Why else would I be here?"

"Just as I thought. He did not perform the 'Awakening' spell on you, and there had to have been a reason for this. Tell you what; I'll forgive you this once, and you can continue on here so long as you don't get anymore funny ideas involving me and fire, got it?" She stared at him, dumbfounded.

"Wh-wh-what?! But I tried to kill, several times, and..!" Talismon quirked an eyebrow.

"Or do you want to die?" She snapped out of it, shaking her head furiously.

"N-no, I'm good! Thank you, sir!" Talismon chuckled and walked off, and Lekismon turned to watch after him, still stumped by his actions.

---

Aquilamon heaved a sigh as his connection with Talismon was severed. Things were not going well at the moment. Takuya was missing, possibly dead because of an insane rogue, Kouichi still hadn't shown back up, and now the remaining Warriors were probably getting suspicious about his absence. He didn't have too much time to worry about this now, however, as he heard the nearby beating of wings and looked up in time to see a Devidramon of all things approaching, wings beating lazily as he descended, appearing to be exhausted, and the large object he carried with him most likely was not helping. Aquilamon watched the digimon curiously, and his eyes widened in surprise when he finally managed to identify the object as none other than the young Warrior of Darkness.

"I..I'm sorry…" The Devidramon gasped, landing next to the bird digimon and setting down the human before slouching over, struggling for breath. "Please, watch over him. He is vital to our survival…take him to the Legendary Warriors if you can, or at least someplace safe…I don't think I can go much further myself…"

"Don't worry, he'll be safe with me," Aquilamon assured, looking down to examine the human before turning to the strange digimon. "Mind telling me who you are though, and why you had him with you in the first place?"

"I…am a Guardian…" The dark digimon breathed, looking up apologetically. "Sorry, but I am so tired…" He looked down at the boy, his expression torn. "I said I'd tell him, but…I don't know if…"

"You could tell me and I could carry the message," Aquilamon offered, sensing the importance of this. Devidramon looked up, a bit hesitant before nodding.

"I guess I don't have much a choice, and I did just put his life into your hands… Still, these are ancient secrets that must not reach just anyone's ears. Only the Warriors should know."

"Understood." With that, the Dark Guardian dove into an old tale of apocalyptic themes.

---

Takuya had felt himself losing his balance, taken by surprise by the strange and violent cat. It didn't take a genius to know that falling off this particular edge into a pit of boiling lava meant game over, but by the point he thought to do something, it would have been difficult enough to save himself without the extra weight, no chance with. Even as the end approached and he heard his friends cry out, he couldn't help but notice the irony in this, which would have been almost funny in a demented way had it not been so serious. Looking up, the horrified faces of the other Warriors was the last thing he saw before a blast of warmth enveloped him.

It surprisingly didn't hurt, actually seeming to empower him as light flashed across his vision with an oddly familiar sensation. This feeling faded after a moment, and then it was just him and a comfortable warmth, as well as building pressure in his chest, as if he were suffocating…

His eyes flew open at this, and he saw that he was sinking in the lava and had transformed into Agunimon. He started to wonder how that had happened without his trying, but that was something to ponder later; while he seemed to have an immunity to the lava, it did not keep him from being unable to breathe. He thrashed a bit, looking to where he was certain was up, and wondered whether he could make it in time.

This was something he would never know the answer to however, as then another light caught his eye, and he swam towards it, compelled by some unknown force. When he reached it, he came out into a small pocket of air in the wall, which, he realized, should have been impossible. Turning around, he saw the lava moving in rhythmic motions, making him feel as if he were at sea looking out a window below deck, only there were no visible force stopping it from rushing in here. He managed to shake this off quickly though, having been witness to stranger, and went to examine the rest of his surroundings to find a door at the far wall, and before he even read it he was certain this what he'd been searching for.

Mysterious ancient door in an odd, elemental themed area? Check. Rough image of his Human Spirit? Check.

Child of Flame, if thou hast made it this far,

thy faith has already been proven,

but to unlock the path,

thou must unleash the true nature of thy element.

And a cryptic message addressing and telling him indirectly what to do? Also check. So, the crazy little fluff ball was telling the truth. He was glad, but his heart sank a little as he looked back at the deadly liquid, knowing Liollmon couldn't possibly have survived. There had to have been a better way to get her message across than freak everyone out and get herself killed.

Sighing, he looked back to the door. Whatever her reasons, he was here now, and had a puzzle to solve. The nature of his element? That could be anything! So, he reasoned, why not try everything? And with that, he let loose everything he had on the door.

"Pyro Darts! Pyro Punch! Pyro Tornado!" Fire flew all around with such force he was certain it would open after he was done assaulting it, but it didn't quite work that way, deciding to open right before he was finished and causing him to fall inside as he tried to kick it. "Oww…stupid door…" He murmured crossly as he got up, brushing himself off. "Could've given me some heads up." But, as he looked into the tunnel, glowing veins of magma running along the walls, he decided to stop speaking aloud to an object that wasn't even there anymore and be thankful it had opened, allowing him to march in to claim his rightful power.

---

Meanwhile, the remaining trio stood in stunned, devastated silence. No one could hardly believe what had just happened, that a member of their group had just fallen to what was, no doubt, his grave. They'd been through a lot together, and had nearly lost each other many times, but to think one of them could be killed here, so simply, after all that… Izumi broke the silence with a choked sob, the scene finally really sinking in. The two boys blinked out of their own trance and looked to her, full clarity not yet hitting either of them.

"Izumi…" Junpei whispered, instinctively trying to comfort her.

"I don't believe this." She said, staring down into the volcano. "How? Why? First Kouji gets taken from us, then there's Kouichi, who we left behind with that monster, and now…"

"Kouichi isn't necessarily dead, and maybe Takuya-"

"He fell into a pit of lava, Junpei. Lava! And do you really think…" She trailed off, shaking her head. "There's only three of us left. Only half of our group remains! How are we going to do this?!"

"'Zumi…" It was difficult to watch her break down like this, and got even worse when he realized that she was making some good points. They'd made it out of some tight spots, but right now the future was starting to look pretty bleak.

"Junpei's right." Tomoki spoke up, and everyone looked to him. "I've seen fire digimon survive this before, and Takuya has the element of fire, right? So maybe he's alright."

"But why hasn't he surfaced yet if he's alive?" Izumi questioned.

"I don't know," Tomoki admitted, "but Takuya's like a brother to me. I refuse to believe that he's gone for good! And I'm going to continue to believe in Kouichi, too. We did leave early, so maybe he's already done and just searching for us." The two stared at him for a moment, visibly unchanging. There was something strange about the youngest member of the group being the one to comfort them both, the kid who was once terrified of everything, but he did have something that they lacked; belief. What else could they do but believe, other than break down into despair and guarantee loss? Finally, Izumi sighed and nodded.

"Yeah. I guess I'll try that too." She said, and while she wasn't much happier, she did seem more relaxed, at least until she noticed one important detail. "Wait, where's Aquilamon?" The other two blinked in realization and looked around. It had been too easy to noticed the bird digimon's disappearance. He was not a big part of the group, after all. "Well this is just great." She continued, irritated, after a while. "Looks like bird boy ran off and betrayed us as well. We sure know how to pick trustworthy sources, huh?"

The other two didn't bother to debate this. There had been something suspicious about Aquilamon, and they were too drained at the moment to try if they wanted, so with that, their group lapsed into another silence.

---

Ridiculous. That was the only word the red avian like digimon could use to describe the story that had just been passed to him. Ridiculous. It simply wasn't possible, lies made up to belittle the Demon Lord. Certainly something like that would be remembered more widely? And yet, though he refused to accept it, something about this tale seemed right, and despite its own missing pieces, seemed to fill the tears in their world's known history.

As he mused over this on his way back to the other Warriors, he glanced over his shoulder at the still-unconscious boy on his back. Child of Darkness, gentle, and twin brother to the Light, the twisted child taken from his natural place… What, if this were true, did it mean for them? If they were truly what he was once thought to be? It was hard to imagine something like that befalling the obviously kind-hearted human, but maybe…

Aquilamon sighed and shook his head. This was all way beyond him, and, as far as he knew, beyond any living creature in either world. So, to take his mind off of that vast and depressing subject, he simply took a moment to take in the details of Kouichi's face and compare it to his memory. Yes, the resemblance was uncanny. The boys were indeed identical, not that that detail meant very much to a digimon, but he couldn't help his brooding. It was already apparent to him that they also shared a deep connection, and it seemed wrong to have them separated like this.

"You'll be together again soon," he murmured, mostly to himself. Lucemon's army would come, and hopefully Kouichi would be taken as well. Then they'd both be 'awakened' under Lucemon's control, and it would seem as if nothing were wrong to them. But, on second thought…

Aquilamon cut this train of thought short as well, ruffling his feathers lightly in frustration. That, too, was a subject above him, something he knew he could not help. He had been a long time follower of the powerful old lord, more loyal than the Royal Knights had been, which allowed him to avoid the infectious mind control the majority of the army was subject to, but that did not mean it sat right with him. It seemed such methods shouldn't need to be resorted to, and he couldn't get that moment of weakness out of his mind, the moment he'd seen Talismon, or Kouji, or whoever he was at that moment, be subjected to. It was inefficient, and caused unnecessary grief, as he knew only too well from seeing the process again and again, actually having to oversee it.

The volcano came into sight, and he brought his thoughts to the present, hoping that they hadn't moved and wouldn't think him too suspicious. At least, with the arrival of Kouichi, he would have something to aid his own return. As he came in for landing, the group, who were thankfully still there, became aware of his presence and were already throwing him suspicious glares.

"So, you had the nerve to show your beak again, huh?" Junpei commented coldly.

"I apologize. You see, I was just-"

"Look, it's Kouichi!" Tomoki exclaimed, interrupting him and dragging everyone's attention to the digimon's passenger. Their eyes widened in surprise and relief, and as the boys hurried to unload their friend, Izumi turned an inquiring gaze to Aquilamon, having more or less gained her composure from earlier.

"Okay, bird boy, you have some explaining to do." Aquilamon sighed, biting back a retort saying that he was trying to do that before, and went on obediently.

"While you three were just sitting there, I decided to scout out the area a little, and found another digimon carrying him. He'd claimed to be a Dark Guardian and said AncientSphinxmon had been freed from what was controlling him by the two of them. Kouichi gained his power, but needs time to rest after confronting his ancestor."

"That's great news!" Tomoki said cheerfully. "But why couldn't he come too?"

"Devidramon, the Guardian, was exhausted as well, and said he had other business to attend to." The young Warrior of Ice nodded.

"I see… Guess that's to be expected. AncientSphinxmon was really strong. Hope they're all going to be okay now."

"We can ask Kouichi for details when he wakes up." Junpei said. "And maybe, with luck, Takuya will show up too." Nobody said anything, but it was indeed heartening to see someone turn back up, and they couldn't deny they all felt hopeful of that. But, until then, it was starting to get late, so they all decided to get some rest themselves.

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Sorry again, and yes, I realize there's a lack of anything truly worthwhile here. Next chapter will be a lot more interesting, and you will get to have some more clues as to what's going on and stuffs, promise.