Hello again everybody. I won't write a long section about how it's good to be back and about how I've been doing because I did all of that for the first chapter of my other story, so if you're reading this one first then you can go and see it in the other one if you like. Anyway, I'd just like to say welcome to my other story and once again, thank you to everybody who gave me ideas, which wasn't many of you for this particular story, but, yet again, loads of thanks to WhiteWolfPrincess95, for her astonishingly large supply of ideas on this story.

Many of you might be thinking, how the heck is a crossover between Digimon and Lord of the Rings going to work? Well, I thought something similar when I came up with the idea, but the more I brainstormed for this idea the more things seemed to come together on their own.

I should warn you, I do NOT want to hear any smack about Digimon Xros Wars, as it is now my favourite season of Digimon and if you have nothing better to say in your reviews then just don't review at all please.

Also, this story is based more on the Lord of the Rings films than the books. It is also set after Digimon Xros Wars ends but before Digimon Hunters begins.

Almighty disclaimer – I decree that neither Lord of the Rings nor Digimon Xros Wars belong to me. Lord of the Rings and all its resultant genius belong to Tolkien and Peter Jackson for the movie version and Digimon Xros Wars belongs to Toei.

Please, enjoy the story.

To Be a King

Chapter 1:- A Different Earth

The Sun blazed down on the land around it, rising higher into the sky as the day passed on, always drawing closer to the darkness and the time where her fellow, the Moon, would rise to take her place in the sky and cast his light upon the world. As they constantly rotated their position across the land of Middle Earth, the last flower and fruit of the Great Trees, Telperion and Laurelin, had seen many great changes in the land beneath them.

Changes which were sometimes slow and sometimes fast.

Changes which were sometimes good and sometimes bad.

But always changes, for better or for worse and often which affected the lives and the futures of everybody in Middle Earth, and possibly everyone in Arda itself.

Today was February the 22nd of the year 3019, in the Third Age of the Sun. Middle Earth lay resplendent beneath the golden light of said Sun. Running down its centre like a jagged spine, the Misty Mountains rose tall and pointed, each one like a single giant vertebrae capped with a thick layer of snow, like giant monoliths against the horizon for many leagues in any direction. The great kingdoms beneath the mountains continued out their dark existence where even the light of the sun did not penetrate. At its base stood the tower of Orthanc, surrounded by the fortress of Isengard, sticking out off the ground like a huge, stone column and its black stone glittering slightly in the light.

To the West of the Misty Mountains lay the Kingdom or Eriador, a vast landscape dotted with a few small forests and large, open grasslands. The ruins of the old watchtower of Amon Sûl, now known as Weathertop, cast a bleak reflection into the past on the lands around it. The insects swarmed in vast numbers through the Midgewater Marshes, seeking a fresh source of blood to suck, while on the Barrow Downs the fog rolled in like a constant eerie blanket, concealing forbidden secrets and ancient artefacts in the graves of the Kings of Old that now resided there.

The people of the village of Bree bustled about their daily business, haggling with one another and raking in what profits they could from the crops they had been able to grow in their gardens, or else entering the nearest end for yet another flagon of ale. The great swathes of grassland in the Enedwaith and Dunland remained silent and empty as faint breezes wafted the grasses from side to side constantly, the only sounds the occasional birdsong or crow caw, coupled with the odd wolf howl in the distance.

Up north, the olden Kingdom of Fornost on the North Downs lay barren and nearly forgotten, a testament to the work of the forces of evil in times gone by. The mountains of the Ettenmoors rose up near the top of the Misty Mountains, bathed in their shadow where untold ancient evils could possibly be stirring once again, and further north the old Witch Realm of Angmar sat and froze in the snow that now fell on it, a place where few would ever dare to tread, especially without cause.

Down to the South in the realm of Rhudaur, the great city of Rivendell sat in all its glory, glittering and artistic against the backdrop of the mountains and astonishingly elegant in its design and layout. It was truly a masterpiece on a very grand scale. To the west of that stood the peaceful country of the Shire, rolling green hills stretching out as far as the eye could see in any direction, and most every hill dotted with a round wooden door that led to the dwellings within, with each door surrounded by lush gardens filled with flowers of all descriptions.

Further to the West stood the Blue Mountains, smaller than the Misty Mountains but still titans of rock nevertheless and separated by the Gulf of Lune. At the tip of the great bay was the Grey Havens, the port city, where the glistening waters contained ornately carved and durable wooden ships, their sails fluttering in the late morning wind like gentle wingbeats.

On the other side of the Misty Mountains to the East was the next Kingdom – that of Rhovanion. Stretching nearly the length of the Misty Mountains themselves was the Great Forest of Mirkwood, its tall trees dark and its thick canopy blocking out the light of the sun to the ground below, where thick twisted trunks and winding roots plunged their way deep into the earth, long lines of line permeating through the few gaps in the leaves above to provide askew pillars of illumination.

Between the forest and the mountains began the river Anduin, the enormous winding river that stretched all the way through three entire kingdoms, its origins beginning in the Grey Mountains of the north, a darker range than the Misty Mountains and with a slightly more withered look about it. The Anduin flowed south and past the Golden Wood of Lothlórien, which positively glowed even in the darker nights, the golden light emitting from the leaves of its huge Mallorn Trees highlighting the radiance of its inhabitants. A stark contrast to the forest of Fangorn even further to South and just east of Isengard, who's trees were so dark that they were almost black and were even more twisted and ancient looking than those in Mirkwood.

Further to the East of Mirkwood stood the old Laketown, now named Esgaroth, a sprawling city of wooden piers and platforms with their houses built on stilts in the middle of the lake situated in the middle of the river Celduin. Further north stood the Lonely Mountain, also known as the Kingdom of Erebor, which stuck out against the rest of the landscape like a colossal stone giant carved into the landscape, it's great gates sat at the base and leading out towards the city of Dale that surrounded the entrance.

Continuing East from there was the Iron Hills, which stretched close to the border of the next Kingdom of Rhûn, with its massive semi-arid grasslands and with the river Celduin continuing down its centre to join up with the Sea of Rhûn, the water rippling and lapping against the sides of the shore and the Red Mountains, aptly named for their deep hue brought about by the deep heat of the sun and tectonic upheaval, producing many sparkling minerals of golden and copper.

Descending South into the Kingdom of Rohan, covered with its huge grassy plains beaten down by the tracks of many horses over the years from the East Emnet to the West Emnet and split by the Entwash river and bordered once again by the river Anduin, which was not halted even by the enormous falls of Rauros that fell over the clifftops near Amon Hen in a single colossal cascade of liquid, to meet with the mouths of the Entwash and continue onwards, past the huge rocky labyrinth of Emyn Muil and the stagnant Dead Marshes which stretched on for miles and miles around them.

Not far out from Isengard and on the other side of the Gap of Rohan was the great fortress of Helm's Deep, the tower of the Hornburg stretching taller even than the mountains around them and its huge Deeping Wall providing a nigh impenetrable barrier to the back of the ravine in which it lay. The lesser protected city of Edoras was mounted on a hill not far away from the fortress, its wooden buildings rising ever higher into the sky and culminating in the Golden Hall of Meduseld at its peak.

To the south of Rohan and separating it from the Kingdom of Gondor was the White Mountains that passed from east to west in another jagged line of peaks. At the eastern tip was Gondor's capital city, the White City of Minas Tirith, standing tall and magnificent as the day that it had first been built, seven consecutive levels of white walls separated by gates, and at the very top the Hall of Kings and the Tower of Ecthelion seeking to touch the sky. The fabled White Tree sat in its topmost courtyard, shimmering in the light of the Sun.

And across the Fields of Pelennor at is base was the embattled city of Osgiliath, stretching across one of the last stages of the Anduin river, which flowed down Gondor until it finally reached its mouth by Lebennin and entering the enormous Bay of Belfalas. Next to Osgiliath were the lush plains of Ithilien and to the south of them was the hot and arid desert landscape of Near Harad, scorching in the light of the sun with its sand blowing near constantly across its surface in thin sheets of rough material.

And then, to the west of Gondor and a mere few leagues from Minas Tirith, there lay another place – a place where sunlight never reached despite the fact that it was mostly open to the sky. Thick black clouds spread out over the top of it, and everything was bathed in shadow within the enormous U-shaped mountain range, made up of the Ash Mountains and the Mountains of Shadow, and connected together in the northwest corner by a huge set of thick, Black Gates. This was Mordor, the land of darkness. At the foot of the mountains on the opposite side was the ghostly city of Minas Morgul, and in the mountains above, the tower of Cirith Ungol looked down on the Mordor landscape.

A barren land of nothing but waste where no plants grew. Violent volcanic eruptions launched out of Mount Doom, causing the lands to be covered in thick layers of ash that was almost constantly replenished. The land was rocky and clogged with dust and the only water seemed to come from the black, oily inland Sea of Nurnen and its filthy rivers. The plains of Gorgoroth around Mount Doom were riveted with huge pits and ravines that were often filled with lava flowing constantly down from the mountains. And not far away from the volcano itself stood Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower.

Middle Earth could truly be called a world of many environments. Everywhere you might go had different flowers and grasses and plants, and no matter where you went the scenery changed. It was never exactly the same and, for the most part, it was absolutely breath-taking. The mountains, the valleys, the forests, the plains… it was a realm of diversity.

And this fact held true for more than simply the land. The same could be said for its people as well, for there were many different races and cultures throughout all of Middle Earth.

By far the most widespread was Man. Men were everywhere, stretching right through Rohan and Gondor, down to Harad and across to Rhûn, up into Eriador, Esgaroth and Dale. Men seemed to exist in almost all of the open spaces throughout Middle Earth, giving them much dominion over its lands and its resources.

They built their civilisations from their tiny villages to their great cities wherever they dwelt, and Man came in a wide variety of different cultures. This included such things as the war-like Easterlings from Rhûn, to the nomadic wanderers of Harad, to the disciplined men of Gondor, the horsemen of Rohan and even the Wild Men who lived in Dunland.

Man had been the second race of beings to be created by Ilúvatar, and they bore the supposed gift of mortality, meaning that they all, eventually came to die, whether it be through battle, through sickness, or simply for having lived for so long in this World. But some of the other races were different in many ways to Man. One notable example were the Firstborn, the beings to be created by Ilúvatar before Man – the Elves.

Elves were the noblest of Middle Earth's numerous races, and existed before even the Sun and the Moon came into being. The Elves were also known as the Eldar, and they were a much more secretive people than Men, living mostly in deep forest places such as Mirkwood and Lothlórien. They were also the fairest of the races, tall of build with pointed ears that were far keener than that of Men, as well as eyes that were far sharper. They were slender and strong, they did not need sleep and they even had the mental capacity to communicate to one another without speaking.

Unlike Men, Elves were immortal. Though they could fall in battle just like Man, their spirits were forever tied to Middle Earth and would remain there for all of eternity. However, since they were impervious to age or disease, an Elf's spirit could remain in its body from the beginning to the end of the world if not killed on the battlefield. Even then, they could easily recover from wounds that would kill a Man on the spot.

However, the Elves were not a war-like race. They possessed a fascination of all things beautiful, especially nature, loving the trees and the stars above almost all else. They were good by nature and despised evil, and when the time came for them to fight they could wield sword and bow with a precision that few Men could ever hope to match. Despite this, the Elves would not usually go to war, preferring instead to remain in their forests, or in their sanctuaries in places such as Rivendell and the Grey Havens, determined to keep away from all other beings.

Especially the Dwarves.

The Dwarves were different from Men and Elves in numerous other ways. They were shorter and stockier for one thing, coming up to the ribcage of an average Man, and they were created by one of Ilúvatar's closest servants, though Ilúvatar himself had given them life bringing them out into the world after the Elves. They were stronger in body even than the Elves and every one of them, even the women, grew long beards which they prided themselves on.

They were very proud and stubborn and full of endurance and they, like Men, were mortal, but they possessed much longer lives, living up to an average length of two-hundred and fifty years. They were able to resist great heat, and carry heavy burdens with ease, and this, combined with the fact they could learn new skills with ease, made them ideal experts at mining for precious gems and stones in the bowels of the earth and crafting things from stone.

To that end, the Dwarven People make their homes in the very mountains themselves, creating great cities and structures from the stone around them. They also had a tendency to be greedy, which is what prompted them to dig ever deeper pits to search for more of the jewels.

Elves and Dwarves alike were also fine smiths, meaning they could create many fabulous armours and weapons, which the Elves forged with their magic and the Dwarves crafted with their skill. Though the two races were similar in some aspects, they were otherwise as different as could be, and, for the most part, they never met. The Dwarves preferred to stay out of dense woodlands, while the Elves found the deep caves claustrophobic.

But this was ideal for both their races, as both had an intense dislike for the other.

But before we delve into that, there is one other race that deserves a mention, and that race is the Hobbits.

Nobody really knows where Hobbits, or Halflings, originated from, but some people believe them to have once been Men. However, they differed from Men in many aspects, most notably their height, as a full grown hobbit was shorter even than a Dwarf, usually less than three feet in fact. They had pointed ears like the elves, and they also had furry feet with relatively thick soles, like leather, so most of them never worse shoes. Sometimes they could be fat, but they could also be quick of both wit and body.

Hobbits were peace-lovers, who liked nothing more than food, farming and parties, and most of all, quiet. They lived in small hobbit-holes in the ground in the country of the Shire, and they mostly preferred to socialise with other Hobbits, generally keeping away from strangers and the potential dangers of the outside world. What happened outside the borders of their country was none of their business, or so most of them believed.

These four races made up the majority of sentient life that covered Middle Earth. There were others, of course, but Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits combined were the most widespread by far. And yet, while there were some instances of the four species living together, such as the Men of Dale living alongside the Dwarves of Erebor, for the most part, they all kept to themselves.

For Middle Earth was a divided world. A world where different races and cultures preferred to solve their own problems with their own strengths rather than rely on others. It was not always the case. In the past ages, Elf and Dwarf and Man would work together and fight side by side against the forces of darkness, although the hobbits still always preferred to keep to themselves. But, slowly, the relationships between the great races declined.

There were many events that conspired to form the Elves and the Dwarves apart, including the hunting of a group of Dwarven People by the Elves, and the murder of an Elf Lord and subsequent attack on an Elf City by the Dwarves in times gone by. The Dwarves then preferred to stay in their Mountains and sort out their own troubles, and when the Elves relationships with Men also started to deteriorate due to the countless number of wars and destruction the mankind brought upon itself, the Elves too had retreated into their woodland homes to let Man fend for itself.

And so, Middle Earth had been gradually falling into disrepair, with the various races and peoples, including those other than the Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits, staying clear of one another and minding their own business.

However… there were often times where separation could mean the ruin of all.

Such a time including the present day in question where the sun was blazing out across Middle Earth. For evil had long been rising in the dark land of Mordor and at its present rate, it was only going to get stronger.

True evil had begun in Middle Earth long before the First Ages of the Sun. After Ilúvatar had created his personal servants, the Ainur, who had weaved the world through song, several of them had descended into the world and become beings known as the Valar, incredibly powerful beings who lives across the sea from Middle Earth in a place called the Undying Lands, or Valinor. One of the mightiest of these Valar known under the name of Melkor, had become the first Dark Lord, and through him, evil had risen up in the lands of Middle Earth, including a vast assortment of new and unique dark creatures.

Such creatures included the orcs and their goblin subspecies, which had once been elves that were taken prisoner by Morgoth and viciously tortured and mutilated until they became nothing more than slavering and near mindless wild creatures whose only thought was the eradication of everything that sided with the Light. Other examples included the trolls and even the first of the dragons which had possessed their almighty strength that could tear down everything in their path, including the walls of the settlements of Elves and Men, and even Dwarves alike.

But Morgoth was long gone by the time of the Third Age of the Sun. He had eventually been defeated and cast down by his fellow Valar. He could not be killed, so they had imprisoned him in tight, unbreakable chains and cast him into the Void, where he would never be able to return to Middle Earth to continue his reign of darkness.

However, even then, the darkness had not completely gone from Middle-Earth. For Morgoth's Chief Lieutenant still survived and had not been captured as Morgoth had. His name was Sauron, and he was a Maiar, a lesser version of a Valar who also possessed incredibly great power, but could be killed. Nevertheless, he survived and went into hiding even after most of Morgoth's massive forces were destroyed, the majority of his most powerful monsters and servants eradicated and all signs of evil dispersed completely, Sauron had still remained, waiting for his chance to take over where his former Master had left off, and rise up as the new Dark Lord.

Sauron was different from Morgoth though. While Morgoth had wanted to destroy the world entirely, Sauron wished to be its ruler, and to dominate everything in it under his supreme rule. Immortally lived as he was, he stayed in hiding for five-hundred years, well into the Second Age of the Sun, before he had settled in Mordor and begun his first campaign, gathering up and multiplying the scattered orcs and trolls and begin to try and corrupt the hearts of several groups of power-hungry Men, who were easy to tempt.

Yet Sauron had wanted to bring all races under his thumb, especially the Elves since they were much stronger. So, disguised in a fair form and calling himself Annatar, he went to the old Kingdom of Eregion and befriended the Elven smiths to teach them knew methods of art and magic that they had not thought of in their wildest dreams. He was soon accepted into the Elven culture, though some of the more powerful and respected Elves did not trust him. Nevertheless, this time they were ignored, as by that point, Sauron had enamoured even the Elves with his gifts too much.

And so, the stage was set for Sauron to begin his master plan. He instructed the elven smiths in the art of forging the Rings of Power. The alleged purpose behind these Rings was to grant the bearers of them not only great power for themselves, but great prosperity for their kingdoms, which would allow all of Middle Earth to flourish in a time of order and peace where all the peoples could co-exist with one another without causing harm, inadvertent or otherwise, to any of the others.

But the real purpose… Sauron's real plan… was different. For Sauron knew more about Ring-making than he told the Elven Smiths, so as they forged their own Rings, three for Elven Rulers, Seven for the Dwarf Lords and Nine for the Kings of Men, Sauron returned to his Kingdom in Mordor and, using the volcanic fires of Mount Doom, he forged a Ring of his own at the same time. A Ring that which would have the power to bring the bearers of other Rings of Power under his command and control them utterly. He placed a large amount of his spirit and power into the Ring, binding his life-force to it, so that essentially the Ring and Sauron were one being combined.

However, all was not lost for Middle Earth, for the Elves had managed to sense what the Rings were for before they could begin to bear them, and so they had hidden the Three made for them away and not touched them, thus ruining Sauron's plan to control them as he began his true campaign against Middle Earth. The Dwarf Lords ruled their lands well with their Rings, frustrating Sauron again as they were too tough to be controlled and the only effect on them seemed to be an increase in their greed for precious stones.

The Men, however, succumbed easily to his plan and the powers of Sauron's Ring, now known as the One Ring. Soon they became to Sauron what Sauron had been to Morgoth – his nine lieutenants, evil, soulless wraiths known as the Nazgûl.

The foresight of the Elves was still a major blow to Sauron's plans, as had they fallen under his command then the results would have been catastrophic. However, during his period as Annatar, Sauron had mustered together huge armies of darkness and his tower of Barad-dûr had been built in Mordor and began his conquest of Middle Earth. He very nearly succeeded, but an ancient race of men called the Númenórians had been able to defeat him not only once, but twice, and had even been strong enough to take him prisoner.

But Sauron's black arts had prevailed again, and he had slowly begun to corrupt the Men of Númenór to his aims, making them start to worship Morgoth as the one true God, until he even became the advisor of the King himself through the power of his words, and even raised a temple that performed human sacrifices to Morgoth.

That was when Ilúvatar himself intervened. He brought forth a great flood which destroyed and drowned Númenór beneath the oceans, distorting the world so that only Elven made ships could sail across the sea to the Undying Lands and reducing all of Sauron's bodily power to nothing. Had it not been for the One Ring, Sauron would have been destroyed entirely, but since Sauron had put a portion of his spirit into the Ring and had bound his life-force and great deal of power into it, he had survived and fled back to Mordor once more. Some of the faithful Númenórians were saved from the flood, to found the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor in Middle-Earth.

As Sauron grew in power yet again, one of these Númenórians, King Elendil, finally decided to take the fight to Sauron before his armies could come out of Mordor to oppress the world again. He re-ignited the old alliance with the Elves and one of their Kings, Gil-galad, and marshalled together a Last Alliance of Men and Elves who spent years preparing for their attack on Mordor. Finally, they were ready, and after a huge battle on the plains of Dagorlad, they were able to breach Mordor's Black Gates and take the fight to the plains of Gorgoroth on the slopes of Mount Doom, with thousands of orcs facing off against them in an almighty clash.

By this time though, Sauron had regained his form thanks to the survival of the Ring, and he was able to take to the field once again when the battle seemed to be going in the favour of the Alliance. Sauron's power proved to be too great and the Alliance was pushed back and the Kings Elendil and Gil-galad were personally slain by Sauron's hand.

But, just as the Alliance had lost hope, Elendil's son, Prince Isildur grabbed his father's sword of Narsil. Before he could lift it, Sauron shattered the sword under his boot and reached for Isildur, but Isildur still had the presence of mind to lash up, directly for the hand which held the Ring. He sliced Sauron's fingers off, separating Sauron and the Ring, and thus destroying Sauron's body once more.

But Sauron's spirit was still very much alive and would remain that way until the Ring was destroyed. As Sauron's spirit fled, Isildur picked up the Ring and, despite the urgings of Lord Elrond, an Elf from Rivendell, claimed it for his own. For, thanks to the power that Sauron had put into it, the Ring of Power had a will of its own and it had reached inside him and corrupted his heart right from the beginning, and no less than two years later, the Ring called out to a band of orcs which ambushed a small group that Isildur was leading. When mortal men put on the Ring, it made them turn invisible, so Isildur desperately tried this method to escape and dived into the river Anduin.

But the Ring had then betrayed him and slipped off his finger, sinking to the bottom. And so, Isildur had been spotted and shot in the back by orc arrows, killing him.

The Ring had settled at the bottom of the river Anduin to wait its next opportunity to get back to the spirit of its Master. As that Master began to gain strength bit by bit, the Ring continued to wait, settled in the silt for nearly two and a half millennia, until a pair of Hobbits stumbled across it on a fishing trip. Though the one named Déagol found it first, his cousin Sméagol was immediately take under the influence of the Ring and murdered his fellow Hobbit for it. Sméagol was then banished by his people for that act and he took it deep into the goblin caves riddling the Misty Mountains to live a long and nomadic lifestyle.

As the Ring stayed in Sméagol's possession, it began to have an adverse effect on him, poisoning his mind and warping his body until the Hobbit that Sméagol had once been was practically gone. Now reduced to a wretched, gangly creature that preyed on fish and the occasional goblin, Sméagol took the name Gollum. But the Ring knew that its Master was gaining strength in the nearby forest of Mirkwood, in the fortress of Dol Guldur, so it continued to live in Gollum's possession another five-hundred years, extending Gollum's average life-span far longer than was natural for his species.

When the Ring finally decided to leave its new owner, it slipped off his finger and fell down the tunnels of the mountains, expecting to be picked up by a Goblin that it would be able to influence into taking it to Mirkwood. Instead, it was picked up by another Hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins, who was far from home on an adventure of his own. When Gollum discovered that Bilbo had his "precious" he was enraged and chased after him, but Bilbo managed to use its powers of invisibility to escape from Gollum and continue on his journey.

That was how, when the Bilbo was finished with his adventure, the Ring came to return home with him to the green country of the Shire, home of the Hobbit people. Its plans had been foiled, for Sauron had been driven from Mirkwood and had now returned to Mordor, so it realised it had more waiting to do. It stayed with Bilbo for another sixty years, and began to slowly affect him in similar ways to Gollum. However, the Istari Wizard Gandalf the Grey, who was a Maiar just like Sauron, grew suspicious of the Ring and managed to convince Bilbo to pass it on before it gained too much of a hold over it.

And that was how the One Ring came to be in the possession of Bilbo's nephew, Frodo Baggins.

Gandalf had set out immediately to try and confirm his suspicions about the Ring. But, at the same time, Gollum – who had finally set out into the world to try and find his precious Ring, was captured by Sauron's orcs and brought to Sauron's fortress and tortured for information. After a great deal of pain, Gollum finally gave away what he knew about the Ring's location – that it had belonged to a Baggins who came from a place called the Shire.

Sauron had immediately set his sights on the Shire. His spirit still could not take on a physical body without the Ring, but it had managed to take the spiritual form of an enormous flaming Eye, which sat on the top of Barad-dûr and surveyed all of Middle Earth as he planned his next attack. He was recruiting once more, summoning his allies of old – the orcs, the trolls and the men from Rhûn and Harad and many more. And, most notably, the Nine Nazgûl were still very much in evidence. Armed with a target and a location, the Nazgûl had immediately set out for the Shire to retrieve the Ring.

Fortunately for Frodo, Gandalf had managed to confirm his suspicions and had learned of the information Gollum had given to Sauron, and hurried back to the Shire ahead of the Nine and warned Frodo. Unable to take the Ring himself for the incredibly strong effect it would have on a powerful being such as him, Gandalf had little alternative but to instruct Frodo to take the Ring himself and get out of the Shire and make for the village of Bree while he went to consult with a more powerful Wizard than he – Saruman the White.

Frodo set out, alongside his best friend and gardener Samwise Gamgee who had overheard the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo and was determined to do whatever he could to help. As they crossed the Shire, they also ran into fellow hobbits and Frodo's distant relatives, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, known as Merry and Pippin between them. While Frodo and Sam had planned to forge on ahead alone, the Nine had finally reached the Shire and one of their number gave all four hobbits a close encounter and a narrow escape. Merry and Pippin quickly agreed to help and with their assistance, Frodo and Sam were able to escape across the river on a ferry, which the Nazgûl were unable to cross without a bridge.

But Gandalf was now having far less fortune. He had travelled to Isengard and received some information he had been seeking from Saruman, but he was shocked to discover that Saruman had been corrupted by Sauron through the use of a Palantír, a Seeing Stone that Saruman had in his possession. Sauron also had one and had used it to turn Saruman to the path of darkness. Gandalf had attempted to escape and aid Frodo but Saruman had overpowered him and imprisoned him at the top of the tower of Orthanc.

Meanwhile, the four hobbits successfully made it to Bree, expecting to meet Gandalf at the Inn of the Prancing Pony, only to find him not there. Fortunately, Gandalf had had the presence of mind to send a friend of his to meet them there before he went to meet Saruman. And that was how Frodo met the Dúnedain Ranger known as Strider, who also went by another name – Aragorn, son of Arathorn and rightful King of Gondor. Since the death of Isildur thousands of years ago, Gondor had been ruled by Stewards instead of Kings, and though Aragorn knew of his birthplace, he did not desire it, preferring to live out his life as a Ranger.

However, at the Inn, Frodo had ended up accidentally putting the Ring on his finger after he lost his grip on it and fumbled to catch it… or rather, the Ring had deliberately fallen onto his finger. For the moment that Frodo put it on, both Sauron and the Nine knew exactly where he was, and the Nazgûl immediately rode towards Bree. Thanks to Aragorn's expertise, they were able to fool the Nine with dummies and escape, but Aragorn then became their guide in Gandalf's place, leading them towards Rivendell where they would be safe from the pursuing Nine.

But, when they reached the watchtower of Amon Sûl, five members of the Nine caught up with them and, though Aragorn fought them viciously to keep them at bay, their leader managed to stab Frodo with a Morgul Blade. This did not kill him, but the tip of the blade broke off and started burrowing its way towards Frodo's heart. And the moment it made contact, Aragorn knew that it would turn Frodo into a wraith, much like the Nine themselves. Knowing only the healing magic of Elves could help Frodo now, Aragorn had hurried the Hobbits onwards.

Eventually, Gandalf was able to escape from the tower of Orthanc by instructing a moth to guide his old friend Gwaihir, the Lord of Middle Earth's giant race of Eagles to come to Isengard and bear him away from the tower and towards Rivendell, where he knew the Hobbits would now be heading with Aragorn's guidance.

Frodo's saving grace had come in the form of Arwen, an Elf and Daughter of Elrond and also Aragorn's love, for the two had promised themselves to each other many years ago. Arwen had quickly taken Frodo on her horse, Asfaloth, and rode hard for Rivendell. It was not long before they were pursued by the Nine, but thanks to Asfaloth's incredible reflexes and Arwen's skills as a rider, they had been able to cross the river that bordered Rivendell. So close to their prize, the Nazgûl had pursued them across, but the powers of the Elves caused the river to rise up in a mighty torrent, killing the Nazgûl's horses and sweeping the wraiths away.

Through the healing skills of Arwen's father, Lord Elrond, the Morgul Blade poison was removed from Frodo's body and he slowly began to heal. Frodo was convinced that his job in bearing the Ring was now done, as he had managed to keep it out of the hands of Sauron's servant until it reached the safe haven of Rivendell.

However, Elrond and Gandalf were both adamant that this was not the case, for even without the Ring, Sauron's strength was growing and things were far worse thanks to the treachery of Saruman, for now Saruman was breeding an army of his own in the caverns of Isengard. Elrond knew that the Elves would not have the strength to keep both Sauron and Saruman at bay when they came for the Ring, as Sauron knew full well that the Ring was currently in Rivendell. And so, a Council was called, summoning Elves, Dwarves and Men from all corners of Middle Earth together to decide how they were going to combat Sauron.

There was a lot of arguing about what was to be done. Some believed that they could utilise the Ring's power against Sauron, while others stated that they couldn't possibly hope to use it and that it would corrupt those who tried. Most adamant among those who claimed the former was Boromir, son of the current Steward of Gondor. However, Elrond and Gandalf stated that the only thing to do would be to destroy the Ring completely, for doing that would destroy Sauron as well and break his evil rule over the land.

However, thanks to the magic that had been put into the Ring's creation, there was only one way to destroy it – by throwing into the boiling lava of Mount Doom where it had been forged in the first place, and such a feat would require entering Mordor, the realm of Sauron, itself. Arguments immediately broke out over this idea and who should take possession of the Ring and, in the chaos, Frodo stepped up and took responsibility of the Ring once again, claiming that he would be the one to take it to Mordor and destroy it once and for all.

With the Ring-bearer chosen, he now needed his companions. It was agreed that a smaller company would have a far better chance than a large army, for there was a likelihood that they could slip into Mordor unnoticed and reach Mount Doom without Sauron being aware of their presence and being able to combat them. Eight companions were chosen for Frodo. Three of them were the Hobbits he had travelled with from the start – Sam, Merry and Pippin, who refused to stay behind if their friend was going into danger. Gandalf the Wizard was selected to lead the group and Aragorn readily offered his assistance as well.

And they were not the only ones. Boromir of Gondor also agreed to take on the task despite his objections from earlier. And finally, two more stepped forward to represent their own races. One of these was Legolas Greenleaf, an Elf Prince of Mirkwood. And the other was Gimli, son of Glóin of the Dwarves of Erebor. Elrond insisted that all the races would have to resolve their differences and unite against Sauron, and so he dubbed the group of nine, the Fellowship of the Ring.

The Fellowship set out from Rivendell shortly after they were formed, Frodo carrying his burden once again. The group travelled down the western side of the Misty Mountains for many days and there were clearly tensions between the members. Legolas and Gimli held little trust for one another due to the antagonistic relationship that had long existed between Elf and Dwarf, and Boromir was initially not very fond of Aragorn, since Aragorn's position as King of Gondor would usurp his father's position as its Steward should he choose to take it.

Nevertheless, the group held to their purpose, making towards the Gap of Rohan so they could head east to Mordor. However, they soon abandoned this idea of a close encounter with a flock of large crows known as the Crébain, who were used as spies of Saruman. Gandalf knew then that the enemy would know of their presence if they continued on their current course, so they then tried to go over the mountain range directly and scale the mountain of Caradhras.

However, the Crébain had still managed to spot them and had immediately informed Saruman of their location. Saruman had called forth his magic to summon a powerful storm that swept up the snow around the Fellowship and for lightning to strike the mountaintop and threaten to bury them in powerful avalanches, forcing the Fellowship to turn back once again.

There was debate about how they should proceed next, but Gimli made the suggestion going under the mountains by passing through the Mines of Moria, and old Dwarven civilisation that had been abandoned many hundreds of years ago, but also a place which Gimli's cousin Balin had recently gone to in order to retake it and re-populate it.

Seeing little alternative, the group had struck out for the West Entrance to the Mines and, after finally getting it open, they were left with little choice but to go through it, for as they entered they were viciously attacked by the Watcher in the Water, a huge squid-like Kraken that resided in the lake next to the entrance. Though all of them escaped with their lives, the Watcher brought down the walls around the door and trapped them inside the mines.

Right from the start as they travelled they realised that all had not gone well with Balin's attempt to retake the Mines. Everywhere they went they found the skeletons of dead Dwarves filled with goblin arrows, much to Gimli's grief. During their journey, they attempted to keep as quiet as possible to avoid alerting the Goblins to their presence. However, they had now picked up a tagalong. Gollum had been released from Barad-dûr some time ago and had been brought to the Mines by the influence of the Ring and now he was following the Fellowship from a distance. Gandalf and Frodo were both aware of his presence, but until he showed himself to them properly there was little they could do about it.

On the final leg of the journey through Moria and they still had not encountered any Goblins. However, Gimli suddenly came across the tomb of his cousin Balin, and was overcome with grief, leading them to stop and learn of the fate of the Dwarves who had accompanied him. None of them remained alive.

During the stop, Pippin had accidentally knocked a Dwarven skeleton down a deep well, causing it to fall into the bowels of the Earth with an enormous series of crashing noises that suddenly alerted the Goblins to their presence. They had converged on the tomb instantly and the Fellowship had valiantly fought them off, as well as the large Cave Troll they had brought with them. The Troll nearly claimed the lives of many of the Fellowship and even stabbed Frodo with an enormous spear, with a blow that would have killed him had Frodo not been wearing a special vest made of the super-hard metal, Mithril. The troll was slain by a well-aimed shot to the roof of its mouth by Legolas and Fellowship hurried towards the West Gate, pursued by the vast Goblin hordes.

But, when the Fellowship were surrounded and all seemed lost… something worse happened. That something caused the Goblins to flee and allow them to continue their run, but now the Fellowship had a far more dangerous pursuer. The Dwarves of the past had been forced to evacuate Moria in the first place when they had delved too deep in search for mithril and had ended up disturbing an ancient evil, an old servant of Morgoth and another fallen Maiar – a Balrog. The Balrog took on the form of a huge shadowy Demon covered in flames, wings stretching out behind it, horns curving out the side of its head and towards its fanged mouth and it hefted a huge flaming sword and whip. Once there had been many Balrogs working under Morgoth's command, but most of them had died in the final conflict against him. This Balrog was the only member of its race still living that the Free People were aware of.

The Fellowship fled, pursued by the Balrog, until they reached a huge chasm which could only be crossed by the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. The Fellowship quickly dashed across, but Gandalf stopped and turned halfway across to block the Balrog's way and prevent him from chasing after the Fellowship. He was able to deflect the massive flaming sword with his forcefield and he brought his staff slamming down onto the bridge as the Balrog charged out onto it, the shockwave splitting the bridge in half and causing the half with the heavy Balrog to collapse, sending it crashing down into the deep chasm below it and into the darkness below.

But, as Gandalf turned to rejoin the Fellowship, the falling Balrog lashed up with its fiery whip and caught his ankles, pulling the Wizard off the bridge and into the chasm after him. The horrified Fellowship were forced to flee without him before the Goblins came after them once more, and they exited the Mines with their leader gone and with only eight members remaining.

Gandalf's loss had hit all the members of the Fellowship hard, especially Frodo and Aragorn, who had been closest to him. Nevertheless, Aragorn had known that they did not have the time to mourn and had to reach safety by nightfall when the goblins would pursue them out of Moria. He took leadership and had guided the Fellowship south to the Golden Wood of Lothlórien, meeting with the Elves who resided under its canopy.

Though the Elves were reluctant to allow Gimli the Dwarf and Frodo the Ringbearer further in, they eventually relented allowed them to pass into the community of Caras Galadhon, where the Fellowship met with Lord Celeborn, and Galadriel, the Lady of Light, as well as one of the bearers of the three Elven Rings.

But Saruman had been busy in the fortress of Isengard, breeding an army of orcs crossed with goblin men to produce a new breed of powerful evil – the Uruk-Hai. Knowing the Fellowship would soon be passing south, he sent a large group of those Uruks east to track them down, find the Ring and bring it back to him.

The Fellowship was able to stay in the woods for a long time, protected from the threats of darkness by the power of the Elves. As they rested and recovered from their traumas, Galadriel had allowed Frodo to look into her Mirror, which showed Frodo many visions about what would happen should the Fellowship fail in their task of destroying the Ring. Frodo attempted to pass the Ring to Galadriel, but Galadriel could not take it for the same reason that Gandalf could not – she would become a terrible force under the Ring's influence.

And so, Galadriel imparted her wisdom to Frodo to give him some sound advice, before the Fellowship finally departed from Lothlórien. Galadriel gave a gift to each member of the Fellowship, including three stands of her own hair to Gimli, who had viewed Galadriel as the fairest thing he had ever encountered, which went a long way to closing the rift that had existed between Gimli and Legolas. And the Fellowship had set off in Elven boats down the river Anduin to head south towards Mordor. As ever they were still being shadowed by Gollum, but the twisted creature was still keeping his distance, visible only for brief instances out of the corners of the eyes of even Legolas.

And that was where the Fellowship were now as the Sun beat down on Middle Earth from high above. The flowing sound of water was a gentle, constant melody as Aragorn, Legolas and Boromir smoothly applied their paddles to the water to guide their three little boats down the long, winding waterway that was the Anduin. The liquid flowed around them as their boats seemed to slide across the surface with the utmost ease. Mighty cliffs rose up from the river on one side, white and bleak in the light of the sun, while on the other side sat a forest of thick trees, casting shadows across the ground.

The area seemed to be peaceful, and there was little talk among the eight members of the Fellowship, each of them contemplating the things which Galadriel had said to them before they left the Golden Wood.

Legolas had been thrilled to receive a new bow from the Lady and, though he would much prefer to avoid conflict, there was a small part of him that could not wait to try it out. His companion in the boat, Gimli, could not seem to get the image of Galadriel out of his hands and was convinced that he would never again look upon something as fair as she had been… not even all the jewels in the world combined could have been Galadriel's equal. Every now and again, he brought out the little phial containing three of Galadriel's hairs just to look at them. The hairs seemed to shine, even in the light of the sun, as if they had a radiance all of their own.

In the middle boat sat Boromir, Merry and Pippin. The two small hobbits were also thinking on Galadriel's words. Compared to the mighty feats of the other members of the Fellowship, the two of them had done comparatively little to aid to group. Yes, they had killed a few goblins and even jumped on the back of the troll that had attacked Frodo, but that was about it. Poor Pippin had been the one to accidentally bring the goblins down on them in Moria, and now believed that if that had not happened, the Balrog would have never found them either. By that logic, the death of Gandalf was on his hands alone. Yet the Lady of Light had counselled both of them and assured them that every one of them had a part to play and that they would, eventually find their courage. But both Merry and Pippin wondered how long it would be until that came true.

Galadriel had spoken to Boromir about the fall of his beloved country, Gondor, assuring him that there was still hope left even though Boromir seemed to have given it up. Boromir bit his lip as he ploughed his paddle through the water again. He couldn't help but wonder if she had been wrong. Their quest now seemed hopeless and they were just soldiering on for a cause that would ultimately end in failure. Could there really be hope left for the world of men, or were Galadriel's words just empty comfort?

Boromir looked up towards the first boat, in which sat Aragorn, Frodo and Sam. He could see the back of Frodo's head from the angle the boats were at and, once again, he felt that tight sensation in his chest. That feeling he got whenever he looked at Frodo, and the image of the object hanging around his neck flashed into his head. An intense feeling of jealousy which he was desperately trying to shove back down, only for it to re-surface stronger than before the next time he saw Frodo.

What was going on inside him?

Aragorn was also lost in his own thoughts as he steered the boat around another bend. He had not one, but two major problems which Galadriel had spoken to him about. He was destined to by the King of Gondor, a fate he had never wanted to have and a power he had never wanted to wield. But Galadriel had insisted that the Men of the West would, soon, need him. But for what? Aragorn was fully determined to go with Frodo into Mordor and protect him from anything that tried to intercept him. And he still did not want the duties of a King. He merely wanted to stay in the north… with Arwen.

And there was the other problem.

Arwen's people, the Elves, were diminishing, slowly vanishing from Middle Earth. The vast majority of those that remained were heading west to the Grey Havens, where they would be able to pass across the sea and to the Undying Lands, leaving Middle Earth forever, for many of them had given up hope of Middle Earth being saved. Arwen was expected to do the same, for to stay would mean certain death for her, and not just because of Sauron. For her to truly be with Aragorn as both of them wished, she would have to give up the gift of the Eldar – the gift of immortality.

And while Arwen seemed to be perfectly willing to do this, Aragorn was not so sure he was willing to let her. Relationships between Elf and Man had existed in the past, and it had never ended well for either of them. Aragorn had not left Arwen in Rivendell in the best of fashions, insisting that she would have a better life if she were to go to Valinor with the rest of her people. The look in Arwen's eyes had been near heart-breaking and now Aragorn had no idea what had become of her. He glanced down at the jewel hanging around his neck, a gift from Arwen called the Evenstar which represented Arwen's very life-source. It glowed faintly as it hung there as it always had, so Aragorn at least knew that she was alive. But as to what she was doing with herself… he had no clue.

Was she staying faithfully in Rivendell despite the assurances of himself and Elrond that it would better for her to leave? Or was she making preparations to depart? Had she already gone? Who could say?

In front of Aragorn was Sam. Sam had problems of his own, and they were currently a lot more local than Aragorn's. Sam was worried – intensely worried about Frodo. Frodo was his best friend, his true friend, and Sam was determined to be loyal to him and help him in any way that he could on his way to Mordor. But, while Sam had known Frodo for many years before the Quest began, he was starting to notice changes in his dear friend.

His personality was still pretty much the same, although Frodo was noticeably less cheerful than he had been when they started the journey. Then again, they all were. But Sam had been keeping a close eye on Frodo so he could help look after him, and he had noticed that Frodo wasn't eating or sleeping properly and was becoming more withdrawn and reclusive than before.

Sam bit his lip. He wanted to help, but he didn't really know how. But he had made a promise to Gandalf when they had left Frodo's house of Bag End in the Shire. "Don't you lose him, Samwise Gamgee," Gandalf had said.

And Sam had promised that he would always stick by Frodo's side through thick and thin. And he fully intended to keep that promise.

As for Frodo himself… well, he had many things on his mind. But perhaps the most notable of these at the moment was the advice that Galadriel had given him about the journey ahead. The advice on how he was meant to proceed. And he was afraid. Very afraid. But he knew that Galadriel was right and he had to take that path.

He just needed to find the place to do it. And it had to be soon.

And so the Fellowship travelled silently on down the river, unaware of the Uruk-Hai closing in on their location and being ever-followed at a distance by Gollum.

Many leagues behind the Fellowship, back inside the Golden Wood, Galadriel opened her eyes. The golden-haired elf shone with a radiance that seemed to pale everything else around her, even the Mallorn Trees. She wore a long, elegant pure white silken gown and a circlet of gold round her head to indicate her noble heritage. Her face was practically sculpted to perfection and her eyes, like deep blue pools, seemed to see through everything around her, into the very souls of those she looked upon and indeed, through much more.

Galadriel turned around and walked, slow and barefoot, across the moss-covered ground of her forest. She was one of the most powerful single beings in all of Middle Earth, and she could sense the changes in the world around her as they happened. The future as it stood was likely to be very dark no matter what actions were taken, but there was a pale light before her. A tiny sliver of light – the possibility of success and the destruction of Sauron. There was hope left, even though it was difficult to see.

But Galadriel had suddenly sensed something else. Something different… something… new, even to her, and she had been among one of the first Elves ever to walk Middle Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. And it was strong, so close, so near. But, for the first time in over a millennia, she didn't have any idea what she was dealing with.

After a minute or two, she eventually reached the top of a flight of wooden stairs and slowly, elegantly, stepped down it and into a large basin in the earth. In the middle of this basin was a large plinth and on the plinth, what appeared to be a large, silver bowl and an even larger silver, swan-like cup. Gently picking up the cup, she placed it until a small trickle of water seeping down the sides of one of the walls to fill it up and then poured that water into the bowl.

This was the Mirror that she had allowed Frodo to look into and as she placed the cup down, she stepped closer to the plinth and peered into the water. She was aware of a presence – another white-robed figure stepping down the stairs in front of her and she knew who it was, but for the moment her intense gaze was held on the water beneath her as her reflection vanished away and was replaced by… other images.

The second white-robed figure stopped at the base of the stairs and waited patiently for Galadriel to finish observing. The High Elf's eyes actually widened slightly at whatever she was seeing. The Mirror could show many things – past, present and future alike, but for something to surprise Galadriel enough for her eyebrows to rise was a rare event indeed.

Galadriel stared at the images cycling before her for over two minutes before she finally looked up, her eyes meeting those of the other robed figure standing in front of her.

"What did you see?" the other figure asked in a male voice.

Galadriel didn't answer for a moment, but her thin lips curved upwards slightly at the sides in a subtle and yet still radiant smile. A genuine smile at that. And then her lips parted and she said just one word:-


And in the basin, moments before the water's surface began to reflect Galadriel's face again, there was the fleeting image of a strange creature – red in colour and lizard-like in appearance, with jagged jaws and large projections sticking out the back its head which took on the shape of a large red V. And then it was gone, and the Mirror displayed only what an ordinary Mirror would display.

And, in a place far away from Middle Earth… in a place called the Digital World…

"Help! Help me! Somebody please help me!" a small, grey tadpole-like creature that went by the name of Otamamon screamed as he fled, diving forwards just as a large harpoon slammed through the space where he had been and punctured the wall behind him and pushed himself into a roll as another lanced into the floor next to him. Everything was chaos all around him, as the sea-side village was put under a vicious assault from its invaders.

A mere five minutes ago and the Digimon community of this village who lived by the sea had lived in peace. But then, the invaders had come from the sea in a large ship, and now, everything was madness and anarchy as the villagers fled for their lives.

The Otamamon fled through the streets, pursued by the Divermon who had been throwing harpoons at him. A nearby Swanmon was doing her best to fight off a group of Hookmon, but the smaller Digimon had her pinned up against the wall and were viciously stabbing at her with the hooks they had for hands, avoiding her attempts to knock them back with her wings as they forced her back against the wall. A group of Toucanmon were tackled by a large Depthmon and thrown to the ground, the Depthmon growling triumphantly as it grabbed both of them by the necks and began to strangle the life out of them.

Three Crabmon and a small Muchomon were desperately trying to protect a bunch of tiny Chapmon, the small duck-like baby Digimon whimpering in fear as the older Digimon bravely tried to fend of the snickering Sagomon that was standing over them, toying with them as it wielded its staff with expert precision to fling the Crabmon aside one by one. A large Coelamon hurried tried to step in and lead the Chapmon to safety, but an explosion of water signalled the arrival of a powerful Gesomon fountaining out of the sea and slamming down an enormous tentacle to block their way, slamming them across the street with one massive blow.

Meanwhile, a small group of Betamon were huddled together in fear, all hope having left their bodies as they were surrounded by a blazing inferno. Another group of Hookmon had set fire to the several of the buildings throughout the village, and were merely laughing as they heard the panicked screams of the Betamon inside, looking desperately for a way out where there was none.

And there was more chaos everywhere that you looked. Two Bukamon fled in terror as they were pursued by a small pack of vicious looking Gizamon. A little Syakomon had sealed itself in its shell, which was now being beaten another Depthmon and was slowly being prized open so that the Depthmon could get at the fragile creature inside. And a bunch of ridiculously small Pichimon were dodging frantically to avoid the swinging, clawed appendages of a large Scorpiomon.

All of these creatures looked very different, but all were the same species – Digimon, creatures composed out of computer data but with hearts and minds and wills of their own. They resided in the Digital World, which was normally a place of peace, but as of the moment, this particular village was going through hell under the attack of the pirates that had landed on its shore.

The leader of these pirates was a humanoid Digimon named CaptainHookmon, who had a large pirate's hat and cape as well as a grappling-hook like anchor attached to one hand and a large gun in his other, and he was currently in the middle of a one-on-one fight against the village's leader, a young female Digimon by the name of Ranamon, who was also humanoid but had a more frog-like appearance due to her green skin, hip and head fins and her blue swimming outfit which including large, bulbous gloves and head-set.

And it was quite plain to see that CaptainHookmon had Ranamon outmatched.

Ranamon crashed into the beach and skidded through the sand several feet, flat on her back and teeth gritted. CaptainHookmon laughed as she tried to push herself back to her feet, clearly showing the signs of fatigue already. "You might as well give up, girlie," he sniggered. "It's quite plain to see that I got you beat, don't you think?"

"Never," Ranamon spat. "I… I won't give up to a tyrannical pirate such as yourself. I can't… I can't turn my back on my fellow villagers! DRAININ' RAIN!" She spread her arms and caused a large raincloud to appear right over CaptainHookmon's head and attempt to pour out rain that would drain away his energy on contact down on him. But CaptainHookmon fired darted out of the way and fired several shots from his long gun to disperse the cloud before lashing out at Ranamon with the hook on his other hand. Ranamon ducked and it went slicing overhead, so CaptainHookmon span around to slash down at her, his three-pronged hook thudding into the sand when Ranamon desperately tried to dodge again.

CaptainHookmon smirked and swung after her. Ranamon just managed to grab the handle of the hook as the more powerful Digimon forced her down towards the ground, pinning her beneath his heavier body.

"Can't turn your back, huh?" CaptainHookmon sneered. "Spouting the motto of the Digimon King at me is not going to do you any favours here, missy." He smirked and added, "You know, now that I think about it, my crew and I haven't taken a pretty maiden like yourself prisoner for quite some time now. And I believe that that is one of the things in the job description of being a pirate, right?"

Ranamon's eyes shot open in horror at the prospect and she lashed up to hit CaptainHookmon in the nose. As he reared upwards, she quickly cried, "WHIPPIN' WAVES!" as she scrambled to her feet. A large whirlpool appeared in mid-air in front of her and promptly grew larger, and Ranamon prepared to turn the pointed tip towards him like a drill and hurl it at him.

"LEG REVOLVER!" CaptainHookmon sneered. And, before Ranamon knew what was happening, a large section of his lower left leg shifted and flicked upwards, revealing it to be a gun!

He fired.

Ranamon gasped as the bullet slammed into her stomach and the breath was thrown from her body as her body itself was knocked backwards. Choking and gasping, Ranamon looked down at the bullet wound in her belly which was slowly growing as her data began to peel away.

"Too bad," CaptainHookmon sneered as he stepped over to her and stood over her. "Would have been nice to have a cute little damsel like you on board our ship. Goodbye." He raised his hook into the air to finished the job and Ranamon screwed her eyes shut, hearing the slicing noise of the hook lashing down through the air.

There was a clang of metal on metal and cry of shock from CaptainHookmon. Ranamon, surprised that she was still alive, opened her eyes. She blinked in amazement through the haze of pain as she beheld a tall woman Digimon with long green hair, a helmet shaped like a snake-skull, a right arm that actually was a giant snake, and a massive sword in her hand that had blocked CaptainHookmon's hook standing over the top of her.

A Mervamon.

"That's mean," Mervamon smirked. "Picking on a lady when she's down." She promptly through CaptainHookmon away with a heave of her sword and sprang after him, her snake arm lashing out ahead of her to clobber him in the stomach and send him flying backwards with a cry of shock. As she leapt away, a small, pink bunny-like Digimon leapt from her shoulder and landed next to the wounded Ranamon.

"Don't worry," the Cutemon said in a high pitched voice. "I'll take care of it. SKILLFUL HEAL!"

Ranamon stared in astonishment as it held its hands over her wound and the hands began to emit a green aura that slowly began to close the wound and steady Ranamon's data. Ranamon blinked. "Mervamon?" she muttered. "And Cutemon? Then… then that means… Xros Heart?"

"Yep," Cutemon nodded. "Look," he nodded towards the village. Ranamon turned to look, and her heart almost burst with joy as the invading pirates were viciously fallen upon from all angles.

The Hookmon who were still trying to pin the Swanmon to the wall heard a shout of, "Come on, brothers! Let's get 'em! METEOR SQUALL!" before they looked up and saw a large swarm of Pickmon suddenly pelting down towards them and smashing into them to knock them back and away from their target. The Starmon who led them was of the small, golden variety, and he leapt down after the Pickmon and bashed one of the Hookmon full in the face with his five-pointed body.

The two Divermon who were chasing the Otamamon around pulled around the corner after their target and came to a screeching stop when they saw the Otamamon was now huddled between the front legs of a large orange wolf-like Digimon with a drill on his forehead and the end of his tail, who was glaring with hard, unrelenting eyes.

"You have three seconds," Dorulumon growled. "One…" The Divermon scarpered.

The other group of Hookmon who were stood outside the burning building suddenly screeched when the fiery wall exploded in front of them and the wooden, flaming planks showered down on them. As they dodged, they saw a large, blue beetle-like machine emerging from the hole it had just busted down and carrying the assorted Betamon on its back. "N-gah," Ballistamon said in a gravelly voice. "I think that it's time that you lot learned a real lesson." He deposited the Betamon on the ground and threw himself forward with a yell of "HORN BREAKER!"

He smashed straight into the Hookmon and sent them cannoning backwards into the fleeing Divermon, deleting several of them on the spot and knocking the other silly. Dorulumon, who had been bounding after the Divermon pulled to a halt and roared, "DORULU TORNADO!" spinning his tail-drill rapidly and sending a huge whirlwind out of it that scooped up the Hookmon and Divermon and tossed them high into the air.

The Sagomon was bearing down on the Crabmon and the Muchomon that had been trying to stand up to it, lifting its staff into the air to bring it down on top of them and finish them off. But something took hold of the staff from behind, startling him, and when Sagomon looked around, it was to see a tall demon-like humanoid with huge wings standing there with a hand of his staff.

"Naughty naughty," Beelzemon shook his head, then kicked Sagomon backwards and raised his huge cannon arm to fire a single green blast that slammed into the startled Sagomon and obliterated him on the spot.

The Depthmon who had been strangling the Toucanmon looked up to see its colleagues under attack. Fear flashed through it and it quickly released its victims and turned to flee before they noticed him. But something shot downwards from the sky and the Depthmon yelped when it was scooped into the air by a large, aeroplane-like Digimon with shining yellow armour.

"I think you chose the wrong career path," Sparrowmon pointed out conversationally as she spiralled up into the air, releasing the screaming Depthmon and flipped around to shout, "WING EDGE!" The blades on the side of her wings sharpened visibly and she shot forwards, slicing through the falling Depthmon and finishing him off long before he hit the ground.

The Gesomon was a little too absorbed with attacking the Coelamon and beating it's hard shell into the sand with huge thumps of its giant claw-tentacles to hear the thundering roar until it was too late. It heard it at the last second and looked up to see a huge, blue-skinned dinosaur hurtling down the streets moments before it struck him full on with colossal form, teeth sinking into the Gesomon's tentacle and tearing it off.

"Let's see if you can handle something like this," Greymon snarled. "MEGA FLAME!" Huge purplish flames exuded from his open jaws and shot straight into the Gesomon's open mouth. The Gesomon squealed in pain, and Greymon stepped back to whip around and slam his tail into the large, white squid to finish the job.

In moments, it was almost all over. The Scorpiomon became aware of a shadow over the top of it but before it could look up to see what it was, huge metal talons snapped shut around his front appendages and scooped him into the air, tossing him high into the sky with a mighty flick. The huge, blue-armoured bird responsible, MailBirdramon, promptly fired a huge blast out of the socket on his chest armour which smashed into the Scorpiomon and tore its data particles apart.

The Gizamon chasing the screaming Bukamon suddenly had a bunch of PawnChessmon drop in front of them with raised shields, causing them to crash into the force-field they were generating and go rolling backwards with headaches. As they scrambled up, and launched themselves forwards again, a tall Knightmon leapt over the heads of the PawnChessmon and, with a loud yell, slashed his mighty sword through all five of them at once and cut them in two.

And the second Depthmon who was still trying to open the Syakomon shell heard a cocking sound in front of him and looked up to find himself staring straight down the barrel of a gun. The Revolmon the gun was part of didn't bother saying anything, he just fired and Depthmon was dead before it realised what was going on.

And though there were countless other small instances going on through the city, a large swarm of Gaossmon had also appeared and were thundering throughout the streets taking out any enemy Digimon who stood in their path with chomps of their razor-sharp jaws.

CaptainHookmon ducked under a blow from Mervamon's sword and cried, "Quick! Return to the ship! Now!"

But, as he turned to do just that, there was a loud booming noise and a huge horde of missiles suddenly streaked upwards into the air from behind his large vessel, leaving behind giant smoke trails and arcing downwards to point straight towards the ship and streak down to do their job. CaptainHookmon dived backwards as his ship was eradicated instantly, a colossal explosion ripping it apart entirely and turning the bulk, the mast, the wheel and everything to splinters and small sections of plank immediately, which scattered across the village and showered over the top of CaptainHookmon, almost burying him in the debris of his own ship.

When he looked up, there was nothing but a large mound of wreckage left, and beyond he could see the large form of a Deckerdramon bearing down towards him across the surface.

And, perched on the Deckerdramon's head…

"The Digimon King!" CaptainHookmon gasped.

The King smirked. "Glad to hear that you know who I am, CaptainHookmon," he declared. He stood no more than three feet tall, but CaptainHookmon knew that his stature meant nothing – his body was absolutely filled with power. That body was mostly red except for his white belly, hands and feet. He was draconic in shape, with long black fingers on his hands and claws on his feet. His jaw was jagged and his nose had a pointed horn on the tip, while his head had two large, pointed prongs sticking out the back that gave the top of his head a V-shape. There was a large, three-pronged microphone held in one hand, a silver breastplate covering his chest and a long yellow scarf wrapped around his neck, the ends of which streamed out behind him in the wind.

"And do you also know my name?" the Digimon King asked.

"Sh…Shoutmon," CaptainHookmon confirmed.

"That's right," Shoutmon nodded, his eyes narrowing. "I am Shoutmon! Make sure you carve that name deep into your heart, CaptainHookmon, because it's the last one that you're going to hear for a long time!"

"No!" CaptainHookmon cried as he scrambled to his feet, but Shoutmon had already prepared his attack, lifting his hand which now held a large fireball and yelling:-


He hurled the attack with deadly precision and it thudded straight into CaptainHookmon's chest. The pirate yelled as he was thrown backwards, his data crippled and about to disperse, when he was then grabbed in the jaws of Mervamon's snake-arm and swallowed whole.

"And that's all she wrote," Mervamon chuckled as she lowered her arm.

"Your Majesty," Ranamon cried as she scrambled to her feet, thanking Cutemon for healing her. "You came. You came to help us!"

"Of course we did," Shoutmon chuckled. "We all did. After all, we are Xros Heart. And no matter what trouble there is in the Digital World, neither I nor the rest of my team will ever turn our backs on those in need. And if there's one thing in this world you can count on, you can count on that!"

There you have it. Another introductory chapter but with a small amount of action at the end there. I hope that this chapter has left everybody anticipating more, because there sure as heck is going to be a lot more coming in this story. Now, with both the first chapters out of the way, its time to move on to the second ones. I really hope that you enjoy the rides from both the stories, and I hope that even people who are not fans of Digimon Xros Wars will enjoy this story if you happen to be reading it.

Next time…

A recap of the events of Digimon Xros Wars and what happened afterwards, and a meeting of the various members of Xros Heart and Blue Flare in Shoutmon's castle back home to celebrate the anniversary of another year since the defeat of Bagramon. But one particular member of the party isn't feeling so jovial.

Coming up:- Chapter 2 : A Goal Fulfilled