A/N: I'd like to give a special thanks to my muse and the person who has been helping me curb my procrastination and giving me such brilliant and wonderful ideas to make this story longer: SCI-FIWIZARDMAN! I don't know what I would do without him! Originally I wasn't really going to keep this story going on for that long (it was going to be a to the point wham-bam, thank you ma'am kind of story) but he's given me SUCH great ideas and this chapter is one of them! So thanks so much, you're my muse! And I really hope you like this chapter!
Let Your Spirit Evolve
"You know, when we started this whole thing, I didn't think there'd be quite so much walking," Lia muttered. The group had been walking and chatting lightly ever since Zoe had threatened to separate Kouji and the redhead. And that was around two hours ago. When Zoe looked to her friend in confusion, Lia just shrugged. "I don't know, I guess with the way you guys kept going on and being worried, I figured there would be like non-stop action and fighting."
Zoe opened her mouth to answer before she blinked and looked up thoughtfully. "Huh… now that you mention it, we did do a lot of walking during our first trip too."
"Speaking of all this walking, can we take a break?" Tommy asked suddenly, looking towards Takuya who was leading the group enthusiastically in the front as if he was leading a marching band. When the Warrior of Fire turned to look at the young boy, he saw that Tommy's lips were dry. "I'm really thirsty. Can we take a break and try and find some water?"
Takuya immediately nodded. Even though they were seven years older and Tommy was now more than capable of taking care of himself, the leader of their group couldn't help but fall into his old habits of watching out for the Warrior of Ice. "Sure thing buddy, I'm sure we can all use a break!"
"Yeah, you said it! I forgot how tiring this whole 'saving the world' thing could be," JP commented as he plopped to the ground, stretching out on the grass.
Kouichi shrugged as he followed suit, sitting down cross-legged and picking at the grass on the ground. "I can't really complain. This time I'm finally included in the whole journey."
"Welcome to the circus, my boy," Bokomon spoke up, patting Kouichi's leg with his tiny hand.
"There's a circus? I wanna see the circus!" Neemon exclaimed, running around in circles around the group, trying to locate the circus.
"Uh… he was kidding, Neemon," Tommy pointed out as he picked a spot on a rock.
The Digimon stopped running and pouted before he went to sit by Kouichi and Bokomon—the latter promptly snapping his waistband when he was within arm reach. Lia, Zoe, and Takuya all took a spot on the ground with the others, while Kouji remained standing, staring off into a set of bushes. Lia was the first to notice and frowned as she looked at the teen. "Hey Minamoto, get your head out of the clouds."
"Shh!" Kouji hissed back, not looking away from the spot he had been staring so intently at. This behavior earned the attention of the entire group.
"Uh… what's up, Kouji?" Takuya asked in confusion.
"There's something in those bushes."
Everyone immediately tensed and whipped around to stare at the bushes, only to see the leaves rustle before something shot out, running from the group. Takuya was on his feet and running after the mysterious object with Kouji, Tommy and Kouichi following closely behind. The four boys chased after the rapidly moving pink and blue blur in the bushes, going off the trail and running into the thicket of trees, jumping over tree branches and rocks, trying to keep up. "That way, that way!" Takuya called out, pointing towards where the object darted between a set of trees.
"Wait, don't go that way!" The four boys could hear Bokomon calling out behind them.
The warning, however, came too late as the boys burst out of the forest line, running right over a cliff. The boys suspended in the air for a moment, giving them just enough time to look around and see they were directly over a large river. They also had just enough time to glare at their brunette leader who had suggested they go down that path.
Takuya flailed around in the water, kicking and pushing the water around him before he surfaced again, shaking the water out of his hair and eyes and sucking in air. Once he got his bearings he immediately started swimming to the bank of the river, grabbing onto the grassy ground and holding himself there so he could catch his breath. A hand slapped the back of his head and he yelped only to turn around to see Kouji swimming up beside him with Tommy and Kouichi on either side. All three boys were still glaring at him. "Hey, how was I supposed to know that there was going to be a cliff there?" Takuya defended as he started hoisting himself up and onto the banks, flopping down on his back with his legs still dangling in the cool river. He sat up after a second and reached a hand down to help Kouichi up while Kouji helped Tommy.
"You boys okay?!"
The four all looked up to see Zoe, Lia, JP, Bokomon, and Neemon all on the cliff they had just fallen off, looking at them in worry. Well at least, Zoe and the two Digimon were. Lia was laughing out loud and pointing at the group of boys while JP tried desperately to stifle his laughter.
"We're found water!" Tommy called out sheepishly with a shrug.
"Why are you following me?"
The four all turned around to look over their shoulders. Standing just behind them was a pink bird like Digimon with blue and pink feathers coming out of its head and tail and an orange beak. Its wings were ruffled and bent to look like someone would when they would place their hands on their hips. "Uh… who are you?" Kouichi asked with a quirked eyebrow.
"The name's Biyomon, now you answer my question. Why are you following me?"
Kouji narrowed his eyes in a challenging way. "Why were you watching us?"
"I ask the questions here, buddy," Biyomon retorted, poking a wing in Kouji's direction, obviously not pleased with the fact that his question was answered with another question. "What do you want?"
"Uh… we might have gotten off to the wrong foot here," Takuya piped up, clambering to his feet and adjusting his sopping wet clothes as best he could. He tossed a grin towards the bird Digimon and saluted. "Legendary Warriors, at your service!"
"Legendary Warriors, huh?" Biyomon asked, looking torn between being unimpressed and slightly interested. "So you're here to help stop the Feudal Lords?"
"That's the idea!" Takuya exclaimed enthusiastically, nodding.
Biyomon looked from Takuya to the other three boys on the bank and then to the others still on the cliff top. He seemed to think something through for a few seconds before he let out a sigh and flapped his wings slightly. "Alright, if you guys are supposed to help then you should talk to Owlmon," Biyomon ordered, pointing his wing in the direction of the warriors still left on the cliff. "Get your friends and hurry it up."
"Who's Owlmon?" Kouichi asked in confusion.
"If you don't want me to leave you all behind, I suggest you take me seriously when I say 'hurry up'," Biyomon retorted, scowling as much as a bird Digimon could. Kouichi frowned in return, but made no argument.
"Hey guys!" Tommy shouted, standing up and waving to get the attention of their friends. Once he was sure he saw them all looking his way, he shouted again. "We're going to talk to some Digimon! C'mon!"
"How do you expect us to get over there? I can't fly!" Lia retorted, before blinking. "Well I don't think I can!"
"You can swim! Just jump!" Kouji retorted. When Lia, JP, and Zoe tossed him a look that clearly meant 'you crazy', he smirked and shrugged. "Unless you're too chicken!"
Lia's eyebrows twitched. As much as she didn't want to jump off the cliff—because really that sounded like a bad idea in a long list of bad ideas—she couldn't just step down from a challenge. She wasn't wired that way. And she knew that Kouji was purposely challenging her for that very same fact. Lia glared at the boy and looked at Zoe—who seemed to be thinking about the idea—and JP who didn't seem at all effected by Kouji's challenge before she sighed looking at the two smaller Digimon. "Alright, who's jumping with me?"
"Me! Me!" Neemon exclaimed, jumping up and down, waving his little arm. He had no idea what was going on, but he wanted to be a part of it, whatever it was. Lia nodded and grabbed Neemon holding the Digimon securely to her.
"You're kidding, right?" JP asked as he saw Zoe stoop down to grab Bokomon—though the smaller Digimon looked horrified that they were going to be jumping.
Lia grinned at JP before backing up a few paces and taking a running start, leaping off the cliff, with Neemon laughing. "GERONIMO!"
Zoe looked to JP, who looked shocked that the redhead had truly jumped and grinned as she took a few steps back. When JP shot an incredulous look her way, Zoe just shrugged. "Hey, carpe diem, right?" And with that the blonde ran and jumped off the cliff with Bokomon screaming in fear.
JP looked over the edge of the cliff to see that Kouji and Kouichi were helping Lia out of the back of the river, while Neemon sat on the grass by Tommy, and Zoe was swimming towards the bank with Bokomon perched on her shoulders, holding onto her hair so he didn't fall off. He sighed and backed up a few steps. "If you can't beat em, join em."
Taking a running start he leaped into the water just as his friends had and quickly swam over to the bank. Zoe and Bokomon had already made it over and out by the time he had got there and he graciously accepted the help of the Kou Twins to climb out so he was on the grass with the others.
"Let's go," Biyomon ordered, catching the attention of the group before he turned and quickly started to walk into the trees. The group quickly moved to catch up with the Digimon before Zoe frowned.
Takuya shrugged as the group continued to follow behind the Digimon. "Biyomon; he's taking us to talk to Owlmon."
"Who's Owlmon?" Zoe asked, still confused.
"Not sure, he hasn't told us much."
"I don't have to tell you much," Biyomon piped up from his spot in the front, glaring back at the group.
Lia grinned and elbowed Kouji who was walking next to her. "Hey Minamoto, I found your Digimon personality double."
Bokomon hustled forward and started to talk quietly with Biyomon in the front of the group, while the teens walked behind them. It took only a few more minutes of walking before the trees started to thin and the group walked out of the forest line. Directly in front of them was a village with hundreds of young Digimon running around. There were homes, stores, and other buildings in the village with Digimon around outside, talking amongst themselves and playing. The part that the teens found weird was how utterly normal everything seemed.
"Biyomon!" Some of the smaller in-training and rookie Digimon shouted enthusiastically as they saw the bird Digimon enter the village. Biyomon flapped his wings in greeting as he approached with the teens behind them.
"Hey guys, where's Owlmon?" Biyomon asked the small Digimon who had flocked towards him and the others.
"He's at the healing center," Kokomon commented, bouncing up and down and looking at the teens curiously. He stepped around Biyomon and looked up at the much taller humans, his big eyes blinking, before he turned back to Biyomon curiously. "Who are they?"
"Legendary Warriors, apparently."
"They look like normal humans," Kyokyomon commented, looking at them appraisingly.
JP blinked. "Should we be insulted?"
Bokomon patted JP's leg sympathetically. "Don't worry my boy, all Digimon originally thought that about you when you first arrived seven years ago."
"…still not sure how to feel."
"C'mon, we need to talk to Owlmon," Biyomon ordered, saying goodbye to the smaller Digimon before walking through the village with the warriors trailing behind him.
"Hey, I thought you said that the entire Digital World is under control of the Feudal Lords except for the Infinite Ice Ridge and the hideout in the Forest Terminal?" Tommy asked in confusion as he looked to Bokomon.
"This place seems pretty normal," Kouji commented looking around and seeing a Palmon and Agumon arguing nearby while a Gatomon was speaking with a group of younger Digimon.
Biyomon nodded as they continued heading towards a specific building that looked like an old Dojo. "Owlmon is the one you can thank for that. He keeps us together and keeps us going." The group walked up the steps to the building and walked in, immediately being surprised by what they saw.
There were hundreds of mats laid out on the floors with battered and injured Digimon lying down on them. Other Digimon were around trying to help heal and bandage the wounded as best they could, running between patients. "Oh my God…" Zoe muttered covering her mouth in shock as she looked over the room. "How'd this happen?"
"The Feudal Lords," Biyomon commented with anger evident in his voice. He quickly motioned for the group to follow him, as he maneuvered his way through the bodies, heading towards a spot in the back where a Digimon that looked like an owl with a white head and legs and brown wings and torso was talking to others. It appeared as if his legs, tail, and body were mechanical as were its ears and parts of its face. He was in the middle of bandaging up a large regal lion, causing the larger Digimon to let out a roar of pain. Once they got closer, Owlmon looked up from his of setting Liamon's broken paw and cocked its head to the side. "Owlmon, we need to talk to you."
Owlmon looked to the bird Digimon before looking at the group behind him and nodded once, calling out for one of the other Digimon helpers to patch up Liamon while he talked with the others. "You'll be in good hands," Owlmon assured Liamon before he gestured for the group to follow him, walking into a door in the back and heading into a room that looked to be used as a dining area of some kind where there were some Digimon talking quietly—all of them with bandages on their bodies. "Can you give us a moment?" Owlmon spoke up to the group.
The Digimon all nodded and agreed before they shuffled out of the dining area and further down the hall, past where the Legendary Warriors could see. Owlmon walked in and gestured for the group to enter as well. They all walked in and saw down at one on their knees at one of the tables. Owlmon looked at the group and nodded towards the Digimon with the humans. "Bokomon, Neemon, it's great to see you."
"Thank you for seeing us, Owlmon," Bokomon thanked, while Neemon waved.
Biyomon immediately started talking, gesturing towards the humans. "They say they're the Legendary Warriors. They're here to help with the Feudal Lords."
Owlmon didn't seem very surprised. Instead he looked to the teens and tilted his head to the side as if studying them. Immediately they all started shifting awkwardly, looking to each other as if they were trying to will the others to speak up and say something. After the others all turned to stare at Takuya, the brunette cleared his throat and offered a smile. "Hey there! Um… well, we're here to help you guys."
Kouji rolled his eyes at the fact that Takuya had essentially repeated the same thing that Biyomon had. He hit Takuya's leg under the table—causing the brunette to yelp and send a glare his way—before he decided to take over. "Can you tell us what happened here? Why are there so many injured Digimon?"
"The Feudal Lords are the ones responsible for the injuries you've seen," Owlmon started, letting out a sigh. "Ever since they arrived, more and more of our Digimon brothers have fallen."
"When did the Feudal Lords arrive?" Kouichi asked curiously. He furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head. "How long have they been here?"
Owlmon shook his head. "I'm not entirely sure when they arrived exactly. All I'm positive of is the fact that the first of the injured Digimon began to flood in here around a week ago. They came in, telling stories about these horrible creatures that had started taking over the Digital World. They were ruthless and took no mercy. Those Digimon you see out there are the lucky ones. Some of our brothers and sisters were reverted back to Digi-eggs. And others… they're forced to act as servants to the Feudal Lords."
Zoe frowned. "They're forced to act as servants? How?"
"They use their powers to control them. Liamon has told us that they use their powers to create these… collars. They are stuck around the neck of the Digimon and it forces them to do their bidding, lest they feel excruciating pain or they may be reverted back to Digi-eggs themselves."
Takuya gave a reassuring smile and nodded. "Well don't you worry, we're here to help you fight them."
"We do not fight here."
"I'm sorry?" JP asked in confusion. "What do you mean you don't fight here?"
"Some of the very same Digimon under the control of the Feudal Lords have come here and threatened to destroy our village if we should try to fight against them."
"But don't you want to fight for your freedom?" Takuya asked.
"If it's at the cost of the young Digimon it is my job to protect, then no."
Biyomon shook his head. "But Owlmon, with these human warriors with us, we can finally fight back. We can have them help us."
Owlmon ruffled his feathers and stood up abruptly from the table. "The lives of the Digimon under my protection matter more to me than a war. I understand how you all must feel, and I respect what you are doing, but please respect what I am doing. We will set up housing for you all to stay in and you may feel free to make yourselves at home and stay for as long as you like, but we will not join you in your fight." And with that declaration Owlmon left the room, leaving the Warriors in silence.