Ugh. Yes, yes I know that it's been an entire week since I last updated which is not usually like me at all, but suffice to say there were a number of things that kept me from writing on this chapter, so I apologise profusely for another delay. Anyway, I do hope that you enjoy this chapter now that I can finally get it put up. I finally got tired of delays and just slammed down most of this chapter today. My elbows are killing me, which just makes me hope that it's worth it all the more.

To Be a King

Chapter 20:- Monster Misunderstanding

Bastemon was miserable.

She had good reason to be. After all, despite the situation of being stranded in a completely alien wilderness, she had thought that everything was going relatively well. She had two of her friends, who were perfectly capable of fighting, with her so she was not without protection and Revolmon seemed to know what he was doing out in the wilds, so she hadn't been overly worried.

But apparently her relatively relaxed attitude had gotten on the nerves of one of her two companions, the large Greymon. He had suddenly turned around and yelled at her for not taking this seriously and for not pulling her own weight in the group. According to him, she had been expecting them to do everything for her and had been ordering them around, while at the same time she had been taking a far too nonchalant approach to the situation for Greymon's liking.

Apparently going to sleep under a tree was not the first priority right now.

Now she was riding on Greymon's shoulders as the dinosaur went in search of Revolmon, who had gone off to find water and had been overdue to check back, so the big dinosaur was following his trail with his nose. But Bastemon couldn't pay attention, as Greymon's harsh words to her ran through her head multiple times.

"You might royalty, and you might have had everything you've ever needed or wanted handed to you on a platter in the past, but I'm not one of your staff. We are supposed to be a team."

"I can barely remember a time where you were useful during the fight against the Bagra Army. You might not be pompous and arrogant, but you're definitely a complete airhead!"

"You are one of the most selfish people I know, expecting everybody to go about your orders on a whim, and yet you don't even know you're being selfish."

Bastemon winced as every sentence replayed itself in her mind, each accusation flung in her direction hitting her like a piece of iron. She felt a bit sick. She had always known that some of the other members of Xros Heart had found her strange and perhaps a bit quirky but that anybody could think of her like this had never even crossed her mind.

And now one thing and one thing alone was preying on her mind:-

Was he right?

Was Greymon right to make such accusations of her? Had she really been going around with her head in the clouds when she should have brought it back down to earth to focus on the matter at hand? Was she really that demanding?

And she was beginning to get a horrible feeling that she was.

She had been a princess since she had been little. Her father had been a tall and upstanding male Bastemon warrior who wielded a sword in battle and led the forces of the Lake Zone where they had once lived against anything which would seek to harm its citizens. Bastemon had always known that she wasn't a warrior. She was not one for battle, and unfortunately the war with the Bagra Army had called for a lot of battle situations but still… was Greymon right?

She hadn't joined the Xros Heart army because she thought that she would be a useful battler. She had joined because she had wanted to stay close to Taiki, who she had been slightly enamoured with at the time, not realising that a human's concept of male to female integrations was quite different from that of a Digimon's. She hadn't joined it to fight – she'd done it for a selfish reason. And then she'd spent almost all her time in the Xros Loader, and most of her time in there had been spent sleeping. Many times she woke up to find she had missed a very large battle situation.

But that had never mattered much to her since she had known that she was not a warrior.

It was the other things that Greymon had brought up that were worrying her. The bit about just expecting everybody to do what she wanted them to do. And with a horrible sensation of guilt dropping into her stomach she realised that he was right.

Bastemon had been used to having servants from a young age. She could never remember a time where she had been without them, having grown up as a young princess in a castle. She had always had things done her way. When she needed something doing she would call on a PawnChessmon or a ToyAgumon to get it done for her while she dozed on her bed or her throne. She'd rarely had to get up and do something herself… well… ever.

That behaviour had not changed since she had joined Xros Heart. Even at Shoutmon's castle, she was usually waited on everywhere she went, with Knightmon mostly helping to ensure that she was alright while various smaller Digimon bustled about carrying out her will, doing things like brushing her hair for her and bringing her food. And Shoutmon, even though he was the King, didn't do that. He usually went and did things himself when they needed doing. He always had. Bastemon didn't do that. She'd even waited several days before even remembering to hand over the Digi-Memories she'd taken from the castle when she joined Xros Heart.

And Bastemon realised now that she had just been telling Greymon and Revolmon what to do all the time since they had got here. She'd been ordering them around like a pair of her servants, when in fact neither of them were. They were supposed to be team-mates and she was just behaving as if she was back in her bedroom with them at every beck and call.

Now that Bastemon realised the horrible truth of Greymon's words she wondered how many of the others thought of her like this.

Hence why she was miserable.

She just sat there, staring at the back of Greymon's head without really taking in her surroundings dully, picturing in her mind what each of the other prominent members of Xros Heart said about he behind her back. Surely they must think of her as a waste of space – some spoilt princess who slept all the time and did nothing to contribute to Xros Heart's aims when she was awake.

She barely registered the hot tears which spilled from her eyes and dropped down her face to land with faint plop on the back of Greymon's head.

Greymon, on the other hand, did register them. At first he looked up to see if it was starting to rain but when he saw the clear skies he guessed where they had actually come from. He felt a small ball of shame appear in his stomach. He really shouldn't have flown off the handle like that. Yes, everything he had said about Bastemon was true and needed to be said. She had needed to realise that this situation was serious and make sure that she actually started doing something helpful rather than just hindering their progress.

But she hadn't even realised it about herself. He could have handled the situation a little more… delicately. A bit more gently.

But he hadn't. He'd just roared at her so loud the forest shook.

He sighed a little and said, "You alright back there, Princess?"

Bastemon barely heard him, but she mumbled something that sounded like, "Mfn."

Greymon wrinkled his nose and said, "Look, erm… you know I'm not very good at this sort of thing. If you want to talk about emotions then you need to talk to Deckerdramon but the rest of Blue Flare… we're not very… subtle. Is that the right word? I'm not sure?"

"Sawrgt," Bastemon muttered unconvincingly.

"I can tell I've upset you," he said anyway. "And I'm sorry. I still think that you needed to know that you're not helping us at all but I didn't think about what I was saying."

Bastemon said nothing. Greymon sighed and followed Revolmon's trail around another corner, before he said, "Look, princess, give me something here. I'm just as bad at apologising as I am about being gentle. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings in that way."

"No, no," Bastemon said, sniffing and wiping her eyes on her furry sleeve. "It's… it's okay. I understand why you said it. I think. We… we are lost in a strange place where we don't know what's waiting out there for us and I was just trying to get to sleep in the shade. And… and you were right. I didn't even realise it until you said it but… I shouldn't treat you like my servants. It's not right for me to order you about."

"Princess, I will still protect you with my…"

"No, just listen please," Bastemon whimpered. "Who am I to just ask you guys to look after me and expect you to go obeying. Both of are far better members of Xros Heart than I am. I think the only real achievement I pulled off myself was to eat that Chuchumon that was guarding Yuu. I'm still not sure what came over me when I saw that creature but that's all I can claim about really achieving on our long mission. But you guys did so much more than me.

"Especially you Greymon – you're the only one besides Shoutmon that ever achieved a Super Digivolution."

"Technically MailBirdramon was a part of that too," Greymon said.

"Perhaps, but still…" Bastemon sighed. "You're a much more worthy member of Xros Heart than I ever was."

Greymon felt a bit uncomfortable again, not sure what he was meant to say in this kind of situation. He was no good at this. It was his lack of tact when it came to situations like this which had upset Bastemon in the first place. He just sighed to himself and said, "Let's just find Revolmon and be on our way." He felt that he should be comforting her a bit more but he couldn't figure out how the heck he was supposed to go about it.

Bastemon just sniffed and nodded, even though Greymon couldn't see it, lost in her own thoughts about her near uselessness to the team that was Xros Heart. She just couldn't stop thinking about it, and it was something that had never concerned her before, or even really crossed her mind. Was her mindset really that out of place? It was a shocking thought that she could be so demanding on everybody and not even realise it.

And so she sat there and sniffed while Greymon trudged on through the bushes, both of them completely unaware of the fact they were being watched by an increasing number of eyes.

The Rangers of Ithilien knew their craft well. They had had many years to practice and perfect the art of stealth. They would never be able to compete with an Elf, but they were incredibly hard to notice to most beings, especially if they didn't even want to be noticed.

And right now they didn't. Not only did their clothing allow them to blend into the environment while their agile, light feet made sure they created little to no sound as they stepped along, but they also had pasted themselves with berries of a particularly ripe-smelling variety in order to ask their scent. If they had not done this then Greymon would have detected them by now, but they were prepared for creature's with excellent noses like him. After all, their enemies often had many creatures with a good sense of smell.

The bird calls that they were making to one another to keep in contact and send signals were allowing them to report on the progress of the intruders to their domain with little difficulty, and Greymon was paying them little mind, believing them to be the generic noises of the local fauna as was the intention behind them.

Over by the Forbidden Pool – the large body of water at the bottom of a cliff with a waterfall crashing down into it, the Ranger who went by the name of Damrod took in the message and hurried into one of the hidden crevices that would take them inside the cliff itself, concealed behind the waterfall.

It was a place that the men of Gondor referred to as Henneth Annûn, the Window on the West – so named because the waterfall flowing over the entrance to one of the caves gave it the appearance of a window.

And it was also one of the Rangers' main secret outposts.

And currently there was one other being besides the Rangers of Gondor who was inside the place.

Revolmon was not particularly happy about his current situation. When the Rangers had surrounded him they had been unsure what to do with the strange new thing, so they had taken both of his guns off him because they weren't sure what they were supposed to be, carrying them like they might go off at any moment which they very likely could if they were handled incorrectly.

And now he was seated in a chair, hands tied behind him, and having what could not really be called a 'friendly' chat with the person who seemed to be the leader of these green-robed men. Captain Faramir, as he had called himself.

"You would make it much easier on yourself, creature of Sauron, if you would just tell us something that makes sense," Faramir was saying. "Tell us what you are, how you came to be in this place, and if you are able, you can tell us as much of Sauron's plans for this world as possible."

"Look, I've already told you," Revolmon muttered. "I am not a creature of Sauron. I don't even know what a Sauron is, though I imagine that whatever it is, it isn't very good for you guys. Anyway, I am a Digimon, as I already said, and I don't even KNOW how I got here. That's all the answers I can give you to those three questions."

"Deception is rife in the lands these days," Faramir stated. "If you think yourself capable of matching up to the cunning with your words then you are sadly mistaken, Digimon. If that is how you pronounce what you are. We have never seen a being such as yourself before, therefore it is highly likely that you are a minion of the Dark Lord."

"I don't do Dark Lords," Revolmon shook his hatted head. "They give me a headache and they never ask for anything that you would want to give them. Mean the last one that I encountered was hell-bent on destroying everything around him so who can tell what runs through the heads of any others."

"You speak in riddles, strange creature," Faramir observed.

"Riddles? I'm not talking in riddles at all, though I do know a few good brain-teasers that I could tell you if you were interested that should get the old head going. Like this one – four men are walking home in heavy rain and one of them has an umbrella that can fit no more than three underneath it so…"

"Stop," Faramir cut him off before he could finish. "I am not interested in your games, creature, only in the truth. Somehow you managed to find yourself right up next to the lake where we make our base of operations and I don't believe that you just managed to stumble across it, which must mean that your master knows more about us then we thought. How much can you tell me?"

Revolmon said nothing for five whole seconds. Then, he said:-

"…so how does the fourth man get home without getting his hair wet when the he also doesn't have any waterproof clothing and nothing else that he can use to shelter from the rain?"

"I believe I asked you not to keep up with this," Faramir grunted.

"Oh, go on. You can get it. It's an easy one I decided to go with for your first round."

Faramir stared at Revolmon in disbelief.

"No?" Revolmon asked. "Ugh, what's wrong with people these days – never engaging their brains enough with anything anymore – even Digimon older than me. The answer is because the fourth man is, of course, bald, so he doesn't have any hair to get wet. You get it?" he chuckled. "A bit like this."

He pulled his hands from out behind his back, startling Faramir and causing his hand to fly for his sword as the ropes which were meant to be holding them fell to the floor, and Revolmon raised his hat respectfully, showing his round, hairless head. "Howdy do," he chuckled.

"How did you…" Faramir blustered.

"Child's play," Revolmon shrugged. "I'm a treasure hunter, you see – I've roamed far and wide in search of the most elusive of treasures and encountered many things on my travels. Picking locks is an essential skill and escaping from ropes is not that different. And easy enough if they're not applied in the right way."

Faramir frowned at him and glanced over his shoulder to make sure the door was closed and made a mental note to make sure that it was locked from the outside when he went back through it and had a bar on it for good measure, to keep this guy from getting out. He then shook his head and said, "You are certainly very strange, I'll give you that. And more well-spoken then your orc brethren."

"My what brethren?" Revolmon blinked. "I really don't know what that's supposed to mean but I have never heard of an orc before. I've only ever associated with two kinds of being – other Digimon and humans like you?"

"What did you call me?" Faramir asked, folding his arms. "If that is some sort of vile insult in your tongue then you would do well to remember who is the prisoner here."

"I could break out of here if I wanted to," Revolmon shrugged. "But you've really got the wrong end of the stick and I might hurt someone in the process. Besides, I didn't call you anything. I just said you were a human, which you are. You are, right?"

"I am a Man."

"Right, so you are a human."

"No, I am a Man."

Revolmon frowned. "Why do I get the feeling that this could go on for a while?" he asked himself. Then he shook his head and said, "Whatever, I still say that you're a human. The tallest human I've ever had to deal with too, might I add."

"You are the one of small stature here," Faramir pointed out.

"Thank you so very much for pointing it out," Revolmon folded his arms.

Faramir frowned as if a thought had occurred to him. "Is it possible that you are akin to the Dwarf as an Orc is akin to the Elf. Are you the result of some of Sauron's experiments of Dwarves?"

"I really don't know whether to be offended by that or not," Revolmon muttered. "Look, I'm sorry for barging in on your turf but I didn't know that anybody was here. Now, would you let me go? I really need to get back to my companions – I'm already overdue by some stretch and they'll be worried about me. And I can get them to change direction and go someplace where we won't ever stumble on one of your bases again."

Faramir shook his head. "You will not be permitted to leave here. Now that you know where we are we cannot let you go running off to report back to whomever you may work for."

"Well that was stupid of you wasn't it?" Revolmon sighed, exasperated. "I had absolutely no idea that there was even a base behind this waterfall. If you hadn't interrupted me then I would have gone trundling along and never been the wiser."

"We could not take the risk," Faramir said, a little defensively. "Nor could we allow a creature like you to go un-investigated so we decided that interrogation would be our best method of learning what you are. But you appear to be no closer to divulging any of the answers that I seek."

"Look – tell me something," Revolmon was getting annoyed now. "Why are you so convinced that I am the bad guy here?"

"According to my scouts you were first spotted in the company of a dragon," Faramir said sharply. "A wingless, two-legged dragon but a dragon nonetheless. There is only one master in these areas that a dragon would serve and that is Sauron. Therefore if you were in its company then you too must be a minion of Sauron."

"Are you talking about Greymon?" Revolmon blinked.

"If that is the name of your blue-scaled dragon friend then yes," Faramir confirmed.

"But he's not a dragon," protested Revolmon. "Well… not technically. He could be classed in the dragon Digimon variety I suppose but he's actually a dinosaur Digimon. Besides, he's harmless enough unless you threaten him or the people he happens to know. Like, say… me."

"Is that some sort of threat?" Faramir asked coolly.

"No, I'm just saying that Greymon might take this whole capture and imprisonment thing the wrong way," Revolmon replied. "I mean, how many ways are there to take something like this? I myself am struggling to work out why you think I'm such a threat to you. We're not exactly from around her but I can tell you that we have nothing to do with this Sauron person that you keep on talking about."

"Dragons have long been the enemies of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. All kinds of dragons. You cannot tell me that this one will leave us alone if it knows that we are there. And what of this other being which I hear you are travelling around with. The one which is, according to our descriptions, a cat woman?"

"Cat woman?" Revolmon snorted. "You mean Bastemon? Now come on – she's not a threat to anybody… unless you happen to be a mouse. I will never be able to blot out what happened on that day…" he shuddered and placed his hands over his eyes as if that would make the memory of Bastemon devouring a mouse four times bigger than her would vanish from his mind's sight if he did so. "But other than that she wouldn't hurt a fly. Literally. I don't think she has the capacity. She's probably still asleep for all I know."

"Well," muttered Faramir. "You certainly seem to be open and honest. But reports claim that she was seen riding the dragon. How is that possible? Dragons do not let people ride them. At least I have never heard of such a case in all of recorded history."

"Well, it could be something to do with the fact that Greymon is NOT actually a dragon," Revolmon repeated again, somewhat exasperatedly. "Why don't you just believe me? I mean, really – if I was a minion of his Dark Lord guy then I could have probably killed you a hundred times over during this conversation. After all, my main weapon has been pointed at you this entire time."

"Weapon?" Faramir suddenly tensed. "What weapon?"

"What weapon? What do you mean what weapon? Surely you don't think this is just for show?" He patted the giant revolver that made up a part of his body. "You took away my two smaller guns but you can't take away this big one. It's a part of me."

Faramir drew his sword and pointed it at Revolmon. "What is a gun?"

"What is a… you don't know what a gun is?" Revolmon gasped. "What kind of crazy, primitive world have I gone and landed myself in? Everyone should know what a gun is by now. It's a weapon."

"Then you shall turn around slowly," Faramir stated. "And give me a demonstration of how it works."

Revolmon sighed. He could just as easily use the weapon on this guy right now – his sword would do nothing against his Justice Bullet attack. But that wouldn't be right. Despite the annoyance that his sudden capture was turning out to be he could tell that this Faramir seemed to be a good guy. Revolmon had dealt with some pretty shady characters before he had joined Xros Heart and knew a good guy when he saw one. This Faramir was obviously doing his duty as a captain and looking after his men so mowing him down would not be fair.

"Fine," Revolmon muttered. "But I already get a feeling that I know where this is going." But he turned around regardless and, without the need for crying out the command phrase as he normally would when giving his attack, he let off a shot with a loud crack. The large energy bullet flew out of the barrel of the gun and before Faramir could even gasp it had hit the opposite wall with another crack, leaving a large, smoking dent in the rock. An ordinary bullet would not have done such damage, but Revolmon was Revolmon after all. Digimon were usually made to be destructive.

Faramir only took a moment to recover from the shock before he lunged forwards and placed the tip of his sword at the back of Revolmon's head, since he had no visible neck to place the weapon against. "What was that?" he asked.

"That was a Justice Bullet," Revolmon said brightly, trying to make light of the situation. "See, I could have used that on you anytime I liked and you would never have known what I was going to do until it was too late. Do you really think that I am still a member of the forces of this Sauron guy now?"

"I do not know what you are," Faramir replied stonily. "But if you have such a weapon built into your own body then you can only have come into existence as a result of black sorcery."

"Oh come on. Really?"

"Lord Faramir!" cried a couple of other men as they stormed into the room. "We heard a noise."

"Yes, it was the prisoner," nodded Faramir, pressing the sword-point closer to the back of Revolmon's hands. "This one will be tricky to keep detained but it is not giving me the answers I want. It is being remarkably uncooperative."

"No, I think you'll find that's you," Revolmon muttered.

"Silence," Faramir said immediately. "Take him and bind his hands once more, but this time make sure that he can't reach any knots to get free if you can. Then I want you to keep watch on him at all times, but do not let him point that long silver part of him towards you. It was that thing which made the noise and that hole in the wall."

"Oh, give me a break, please," Revolmon sighed as the men quickly stepped forward to carry out Faramir's orders, once they had finished staring at the still smoking hole in the wall that Revolmon had just created.

Faramir watched them as they quickly restrained Revolmon again, before he said, "I am going to hear the reports on the situation. Make sure he does not escape. He seems to have a talent for it if he can slip out of his previous bindings so easily."

The guards drew their blades and nodded grimly, holding them ready in case Revolmon tried to turn around. Faramir watched carefully himself for a few more seconds before he strode out of the room. "I want this door locked and barred at all times," he said as he shut it behind him. "And nobody is to stand directly in front of it, you hear?"

"Captain Faramir," Damrod came hurrying up to him a few moments later. "Our scouts report that the dragon is nearing our location. It appears to be following the trail which the prisoner himself took. Seems to be using its sense of smell to guide it on the exact same route."

Faramir's jaw clenched. "If it continues along that path then it will no doubt find its way directly to our stronghold here. We cannot allow ourselves to be discovered by something like this dragon."

"You orders, sir?" Damrod asked.

"We'll treat this as we do with all other invasions," Faramir said. "Gather up all available Rangers and tell them we are heading out immediately. Find Madril and tell him to come too. We'll set up an ambush for this dragon. What trajectory is it currently taking?"

"It's currently heading north," Damrod replied. "The scouts say that it will encounter the stream sometime within the next half an hour."

"We'll have to choose an ambush sight when we get there," Faramir said grimly. "Come on. Let's move."

And shortly afterwards the entire place became a bustling hubbub of activity as the Rangers grabbed their bows and holstered their arrow quivers and hurried out to defend their homes against the giant creature that was wandering towards them.

"What was that?" Bastemon suddenly asked, perking up slightly and her ears twitching as she listened to the wind. Greymon pulled to a halt when she said that and raised his head, listening himself, but nothing came to his own ears in the sudden silence except a few strange bird calls.

"What was what?" Greymon asked.

"I'm pretty sure that I just heard something like a gunshot," Bastemon breathed. "Very faint and quite muffled but it's definitely the sound I heard. Just the one though."

"Are you certain? I heard nothing," Greymon pressed.

"I think so," Bastemon said. "Do you think that Revolmon could have gotten into some kind of trouble. He's the only one of us with a gun."

"He is a gun," Greymon muttered. "He is literally a walking gun. But I didn't hear anything. Still, I suppose your ears are better than mine, and if Revolmon was alright he probably would have got back to the campsite by the time he was supposed to be there. We can only assume that something has happened to him.

"Oh, poor guy," Bastemon murmured. "He's out there all alone and…"

She trailed off. Greymon didn't feel the need to elaborate on the fact that Bastemon had been the one to casually send him out there. He was pretty sure that Bastemon had just realised it herself, and he was right. Bastemon was now thinking about how horribly careless she had been and how little thought she had put into the safety of their team-mate. So this meant that not only was she just expecting everyone to obey her, she was doing a horrible job at that too.

"Revolmon," she muttered. "I hope you're okay."

"Well, we'll have to find out," Greymon said. "I'll pick up the pace and keep following his scent."

Bastemon nodded, but in the second where Greymon was still not moving afterwards she thought she heard a twig crack nearby and her head shot around towards the noise. She also noticed there was a slight lull in the calls of the birds which had been going on around them since Greymon stopped. But then the dinosaur moved away again, his heavy footfalls causing deep rumbles wherever he trod as the noises of the birds increased again slightly.

Bastemon fought the urge to salivate a little. Princess or not, she was still a cat, and for some reason the thought of small birds made her feel hungrier than she had already been before. But, come to think of it, had she actually seen any of the birds that were doing those calls? She didn't think she'd actually seen a single bird since she'd gotten here.

They were probably keeping away from Greymon, she thought to herself. Yes, that made sense. He could be pretty scary after all.

And so the two of them kept going, moving downhill through the trees which Greymon was having to keep moving around so that he could follow the lingering trail of Revolmon's scent through the bushes and foliage down the slope.

"This is getting quite irritating," Greymon grumbled. "Why all these small trees so close together anyway."

"It looks like it widens out up ahead," Bastemon said, trying to be helpful in light on their previous conversation about herself. Greymon grunted and kept going, moving towards what looked like a shallow valley that Revolmon had apparently gone through.

With his hood pulled up and his bow gripped tightly in his hand, his arrow already notched the string and his fingers curled around it ready to pull back and release at any moment, Faramir crouched in the bushes on top of one of the valley walls. The group of Rangers had divided and quickly moved out to find the optimal positions to set up their ambush and they had chosen this place as the site for the attack. It would give them the higher ground in the inevitable attack.

The higher ground was always key in setting up a successful strike. The Rangers knew this – they had been parts of several skirmishes in the last month against large forces that moved up through their lands towards the Black Gate. But this time they were nervous. This was the first time that any of them had ever gone up again or even seen a dragon. They all knew they still existed in this world, but they were still only creatures that anyone alive in Gondor had only heard of the old tales.

With Madril by his side, Faramir made a swift call with his mouth, saying without words for everyone to hold their nerve, and he turned to listen to the other signals coming in, all clarifying that the dragon was indeed heading their way and looked like it would be descending through the valley. The Rangers began to fan out, taking up various positions up right across the higher ground, moving out into the woods to try and get behind their target as well as moving further of ahead to increase their collective range of fire.

Faramir was a little nervous himself, but he could not let that show and his finger tightened still further on his bowstring when he heard the sounds of footfalls coming there was and he spotted shaking tree-tops from wherever the creature brushed up against one of the trees.

"Hold," he muttered, crouching lower to the ground and pulling his black mask up over his face to hide everything but his eyes in the shadows, while the other Rangers around him followed his lead.

And then Faramir saw their quarry moving out into the open. Despite himself, he felt his breath leave him as he beheld the creature. He'd seen bigger animals, or rather one particular kind of animal that grew bigger than this one, but he had to admit that this was quite a magnificent creature. It's powerfully built legs and body crushed through the undergrowth as it moved and its huge jaws held many huge pointed teeth. And its horns looked like they could do some serious damage if it decided to charge something with them, particularly the one on its nose which did indeed appear to be made of metal.

"It seems that the reports were not exaggerated after all," Madril muttered, sounding equally awed.

"Indeed not," Faramir breathed. "And there is the other one right there on its shoulders. A cat woman indeed."

"Yes," Madril nodded as they both gave Bastemon the once over. They'd never seen anything like her either, her long claws and ears and twin tails contrasting with her tall frame and long red hair to create a combination of two creatures that neither of them had thought possible.

"What are we to do about her?" Madril asked.

Faramir grimaced. "Spread the word. I don't want anybody to shoot her if they can avoid it. If we manage to bring down her dragon mount then we may be able to capture her and take her in for questioning with the other one. If not then we will have driven her away too."

Madril nodded and passed the word along and soon a series of complex calls and discrete hand signals across the gaps passed the word around. Faramir then drew back the arrow on his bow and waited for the dragon to get in the optimum position. The Rangers watched in silence as it moved past their first lines, not seeing them thanks to their amazing camouflage.

"Wait for it," Faramir muttered.

Greymon suddenly pulled to a stop and looked up, sniffing the air slightly.

"What's wrong?" Bastemon asked.

"I am getting a feeling of unease," Greymon snarled lightly. "There is something about this place which I do not like, though I do not know exactly what it is."

"I don't see anything," Bastemon looked around, cocking her ear.

"Neither do I," Greymon snorted. "But there is still something off about this."

"Should we double back and go around?"

"I don't know how long it would take me to pick up Revolmon's trail again if we did that," Greymon shook his head. "Just stay alert. If you can put off going to sleep again for a little longer that is."

Greymon had meant that last sentence to be a little light-hearted joke, but his voice and talking mannerisms didn't pull off the desired effect and Bastemon thought that he was poking another jibe at her.

She bit her lip and swallowed to prevent herself from sniffing loudly at the supposed insult and she nodded and said, "Okay." There was a slight tremor in her voice and Greymon picked it up, but his own sense of unease drowned out any thoughts he had about rectifying the situation as he pushed further into the valley, inhaling deeply to draw in the scents around him and try to detect anything wrong.

As usual there was nothing.

But Greymon knew that that did not always meant that something was not there.

And, shortly afterwards, he was proven right, when he stepped up close to the middle of the ravine and an arrow suddenly zipped out of nowhere and thunked into his side. Greymon roared at the sudden pinprick and spun around to stare at the offending item lodged in his side. His skin was covered in tough scales, meaning that the arrow had not gone in very deep, but the scales were not tough enough to stop it completely.

"Ambush!" Greymon roared. "Get down!" Bastemon obeyed instantly and flattened herself against his back and not a moment too soon, for suddenly a large volley of arrows came zipping out of seemingly nowhere on either side of the two and swarmed them like a bunch of angry wasps. Most of them were very accurate and punctured Greymon's skin, though Greymon was not exactly a difficult target to hit.

Greymon snarled, his teeth baring as the arrows flew around him and a moment later he was in motion. He did not like it when he was attacked, particularly in a manner such as this where the opponent was too cowardly to face him head on. He could not see where the attackers were, but he was not about to stand around and make himself an easy target. He suddenly thundered forwards and several arrows whooshed into the ground where he had been, barrelling down the valley at high speed as he tried to pick out where any of them could be.

But he could still see nothing. It was as if the arrows were appearing right out of thin air. The shrubs and trees around them were masking everything from his sight, but Greymon knew now that there was something to see in there.

Alright, if they refused to come out and play, he would just have to come to them.

"Cowards!" Greymon roared, lifting his metal-ended tail. "Get out here and face me!" And he suddenly spun around on the spot as he approached two larger trees and slammed each other them with his powerful tail, tearing them up from the roots and sending them flying through the air towards either side of the walls of the ravine.

"Watch out!" cried a voice and Greymon's head snapped around as one of the trees crashed on its side near the top of the rise and several small figures in green were suddenly seen scurrying or diving out of the way before they could be crushed. Greymon snarled, ignoring the multitude of arrows that continued to thunk into his body and dashing straight up towards the fallen tree, fire leaking from his jaws and he prepared his next attack.

"He's coming towards us!" Faramir cried. "Get back!" he lifted himself up and threw himself backwards, fitting and arrow to his bowstring as he jumped over a rock and turning to fire at the oncoming reptile as he came. The arrow slammed into Greymon's muscled shoulder but failed to go in too deeply, hanging there slightly limply as Greymon angrily kept coming.

"Fire attack!" cried a ranger as they quickly scattered under Greymon's charge.

"MEGA FLAME!" Greymon bellowed and unleashed a sudden jet of purplish flames from between his teeth that impacted on the ground behind the retreating rangers, who he still couldn't make out clear, thrust from his mouth like a high-pressure hose to wash over the undergrowth and instantly set it alight. Faramir and the others were astonished at the power – they had all heard about dragons breathing fire but they had never seen it until now.

"Hold your ground," Faramir cried. "Stay hidden amongst the trees. Aim for its head and its chest. We can bring it down it we hit something vital!"

The men seemed to take some heart from his words and crouching low in the bushes, firing through the thicket of flames that were hungrily eating into the turf. Some of the arrows caught fire as they flew and lanced out in a wave to sting at Greymon, but the dinosaur had heard Faramir's shout and had turned slightly to cover himself with his back and tail, the arrows thudding into him but failing to do much damage.

Bastemon whimpered and cowered behind Greymon's horns as one of the flaming arrows zipped straight past her and nicked her spotted clothing, tearing a slight hole in it but failing to hit her actual skin. Still, the material caught fire and Bastemon yelped and slammed a paw down over it before the smoulders could build up to something much larger.

Greymon didn't seem to notice and screamed, "Get out here and face me head on!" he roared. "You attack like weaklings from the bushes. If you're going to launch an attack against someone then do it with guts!"

His only reply was more arrows, and his eye narrowed. "If you insist!" he snarled and without thought for anything except the fight he suddenly whirled about and charged straight through the flames he had just made, immune to their burning effects around his feet as he rushed into the shrubs on the other side, lifting up his tail. "BLASTER TAIL!" he roared, and began to almost impossibly spin his enormous bulk on the spot, swiping his tail through the bushes around him but not managing to hit any of his opponents.

But the finished of the attack was when he lifted the tail, which had gathered power in its metallic tip, and slammed it with full force into the ground, generating a small localised shockwave around him which threw several of the men around him off the feet and sent them flying, tossing them right of the ground to roll away into the bushes.

Faramir was one of those caught in the blast but he managed to roll on his shoulder and scramble back onto his feet. This had not gone to plan at all. Usually when they attacked something large it panicked and would rush around wildly trying to locate its attackers before it decided to just flee and ran off, but this dragon had located them quickly and he was in danger of losing a good number of his men to its ferocity. He didn't think it had succeeded in killing anyone yet but if he did not do something then surely many of them would perish.

"Fire at will!" he cried to the entire battlefield. "Aim for the eyes! And never mind about not hitting the cat woman now – just bring it down!"

Greymon heard his shout and was in the middle of turning to face the voice which seemed to be the leader of the group he was fighting, but the words 'never mind about not hitting the cat woman' caught his attention. For a brief moment in his battle-fury he had totally forgotten that Bastemon was still on his back, and he was now aware of her whimpering behind him and trying to make herself as small as possible.

He stopped, for a moment indecisive. He had a burning desire to sort out those who had dared to try a sneak attack on him – he was convinced that Shoutmon's ferocious attitude on the battlefield was getting to him – but right now he had a far bigger duty. He needed to protect the princess, who had never fought a proper battle without being DigiXrosed in her entire life. And she was vulnerable here. How long before one of the arrows hit her?

As if to answer his question the wave of arrows increased again, and another rain of arrows can flying in from the other side of the valley, tearing through the air towards him. Greymon cursed and hunkered himself low to the ground, bringing his tail up and over in an attempt to protect the princess and shield her from the blows but in the process one arrow caught him in the side of the head and another in the base of his neck, both far too close to his eye for comfort. Without the healing power of Kiriha's Xros Loader in this battle if he lost an eye it would be for good.

But his far greater concern was answered for when an arrow suddenly crashed into the golden band that Bastemon wore around her upper left arm, pinging off it and eliciting a shriek from Bastemon as it whirled to the ground.

That did it. Greymon could not protect the princess here. He needed to get her to safety.

"Hang on, Princess!" he cried, whirling around and slamming his tail through another tree to topple it over and send more of the obscured attackers running for good measure. "I need to get out of here. Stay down."

Bastemon did just that and clung tightly to Greymon and he dashed out of the swam of arrows that were coming from all around him.

He now had dozens of the things hanging from various places on his body but they had hit nothing vital yet thanks to his tough armour, but the fact that nothing had hit Bastemon yet seemed to be nothing short of a flaming miracle. Then again, the archers had apparently been trying not to hit her, but that situation had changed.

"It's retreating!" Faramir cried, helping another Ranger to his feet. "Keep on it! Drive it away if you cannot kill it."

Greymon ran hard back down the slope until he was back in the valley, dashing past the wrecked trees that he had used before and hurrying down the way that he had been going before, following Revolmon's scent once more but at a much faster clip. Arrows continued to flit in from all sides, but Greymon could move at a surprisingly fast pace when he wanted to and most of them either hit him in the legs or the tail or they missed him completely and hit the soil that he had passed by.

"Who are they, Greymon?" Bastemon asked.

"I don't know, but keep your head down!" Greymon instructed. "We're not out of the woods yet."

As if to confirm what he was saying, a sudden volley of arrows came flying overhead from directly in front of them, arcing through the air like a phalanx of tiny planes to coming shooting down towards them like feathered missiles. Greymon knew that some of those were sure to hit Bastemon if they connected so he piled on more speed, while also letting loose another Mega Flame that incinerated many of the arrows on the spot, their flaming remains dropping uselessly to the ground as a pile of ash.

"It's still heading towards the Pool, Faramir," Madril noted as he and the other rangers followed the Prince in a mad dash to keep up with the beast across the top of the rise, all the while as they were falling behind.

"We must stop it from getting too close," Faramir said with a grimace. "Do they have it ready yet?"

"I don't know, Captain, but we must surely hope so."

Faramir grimaced, but they kept running while Greymon ran on further ahead, throwing seemingly random Mega Flames into the bushes on either side of him as he ran, trying to clear his path of any more hidden archers before he reached the spot himself.

Bastemon quailed at Greymon's destructive power. This was something that she would never be able to hope to match and she knew it. But still, Greymon was going all out in his desire to protect her and in a way that just made her feel worse about herself. Even in spite of the danger she could hear Greymon's words from before in her head. If she had just taken things more seriously, if she hadn't sent Revolmon off like this, then perhaps this whole thing could have been avoided.

Perhaps they could have simply passed on and none of this would ever have happened.

"It's all my fault," she muttered so quietly that even Greymon couldn't hear her. "It's all my fault."

"Rgh!" Greymon snarled. "Where's MailBirdramon when you need him?" He swung his tail again into a particularly tall looking tree and too a massive chunk out of the trunk. The tree promptly toppled over and sent a few Rangers scurrying for cover as is branches fell towards them. Greymon set those branches alight with his breath before they crashed to the ground as extra incentive, causing it to form into something like a great big fireball that landed with a thud.

Greymon charged straight through the flaming ruins and the smoke like some kind of monster from hell, eyes burning with the fire reflection and with anger and determination. Normally this would be the responsibility of someone like Knightmon but right now it seemed that he was the only one who could protect the princess.

They came to a more open space and it was there that Greymon encountered the same thin little stream that Revolmon had found. He quickly surmised that Revolmon had come across this and probably followed its course to see if he could find a bigger area for it.

But before he could think on it any further another sudden volley of arrows poured out the trees from across the other side of the bank. Greymon cursed – how long had these assaulters been watching him to be able to set up such a calculated and swift assault from all angles. And how could he not have noticed or smelled them before? He had been extra alert for danger but he has still sensed nothing – but evidently there had been something.

The arrows cut through the air towards them and Greymon launched another round of flames to burn them out of the air, but he was unprepared for the second volley which came lancing towards him before the first had even finished burning. In desperation he bent his legs and pressed his lower body to the ground in an attempt to duck underneath them and for the most part he succeeded but one, single, solitary arrow that had been fired a little lower than the others made contact…

…with Bastemon.

Bastemon suddenly screamed as the arrow buried its tip in her shoulder. Unlike Greymon she had no protective skin, nor did she possess any armour that could have warded the arrow away, so she received the attack like any human would – painfully. The tip lodged itself in an the shaft stuck out at an awkward angle, Bastemon gritting her slightly fanged teeth to try and stop herself from crying out a second time as her shoulder screamed pain at her.

Greymon cursed and angrily fired off another round of Mega Flames right across the river, but did not wait to see if it had connected with anything or not. He simply got up and thundered on, following the course of the river as Revolmon had with a cry of, "Hold on, Princess. I'll get you out of here."

"My shoulder," Bastemon whimpered.

"Don't touch that arrow," Greymon roared at her. "Leave it in until we can find something to treat the wound with!"

Bastemon fought back the tears of pain, knowing that Greymon was far more likely to know what to do than she did, and he had far more arrows still sticking in his body anyway. A few more arrows zipped out of seemingly random places as they ran along, each of Greymon's steps shattering footprints in the stony bank of the stream, which was beginning to widen outwards a little.

"Hold on!" Greymon reiterated.

But at the same time, both of them heard a voice scream the word, "Fire!"

At first Greymon thought it meant another flurry of arrows slowed a little, trying to determine which way the next assault was going to come from so he could avoid it. But it turned out that was the worst possible thing he could have done, as evidenced when Bastemon suddenly screamed, "Greymon! Look out!"

Greymon span his head around just in time to see a huge boulder flying through the air on an intercept course with him as he ran along. He tried to pull to a halt far too late and the boulder slammed right into his flank, ripping a roar and a lot of air out of Greymon's lungs as it rammed him between his arm and leg. Greymon was a sturdily built Digimon and had been hit with a lot worse that this but the heavy projectile still hurt like hell and also made him lose his balance and topple sideways towards the river.

And Bastemon, who had not been holding on as tightly as before due to her injured shoulder, screamed as the boulder narrowly missed hitting her foot and she was then flung right off Greymon's shoulder to land with a splash into the river, which had already widened enough and gotten deep enough for her to disappear under the surface.

"Princess!" Greymon cried, bringing his tail down on top of the boulder lying next to him with enough force to shatter it as he scrambled to his feet, wincing as his side throbbed from the heavy blow but still able to stand with a little effort. The bruise which he knew would develop soon would heal quickly if he could get out of here, but that was going to impede on his speed for a short while. He dashed to the river's edge, trying to locate Bastemon's form beneath the water.

"Fire!" another voice cried, and Greymon looked up to see another boulder come flying towards him, this time from a completely different direction. Greymon snarled and knew he was not about to be caught out by one of those a second time and he charged forwards, ramming the boulder with a powerful blow from his armoured head and breaking it into rubble.

"I don't think so!" he snarled. "Bastemon! Where are you?!"

A second later and Bastemon erupted to the surface some distance ahead, retching and coughing as she flailed wildly at the water, completely panicked and screeching in pain as her shoulder panged at her – the arrow in it already snapped in half. "Greymon!" she wailed. "Help! I can't…" and her head disappeared underneath again with spluttering noise while her arms clawed desperately at the air.

Not all cats are afraid of water. There are many cats that actually enjoy getting wet. But Bastemon was not one of those cats. She enjoyed taking a bath as much as the next princess but in water where she couldn't stand on the bottom, like now, she would go into a full blown panic, like now. She'd never learned to swim in her entire life and in her panicked state all logical thinking had gone out the window.

So while she would ordinarily now that panicked wild flailing was not going to get her anywhere, this was not one of those times. Her fear of water had taken root and all she could do now was scream for help as she fought to keep her head above the surface.

Greymon cursed again and started off after her, but he stumbled a little at the bruise to his side. He shook himself and ignored the pain, crashing down the bank after her almost as fast as he could have done without the injury, hurriedly trying to catch up with her and help get her out. But Bastemon was at the mercy of the water's current, which happened to be quite fast at this particular stage of the river, and she was being washed away at practically the same pace that he could run at.

"Help!" she wailed frantically while gulping in what breath she could the river widening slightly on either side of her and the banks getting further away, out of reach of her thrashing claws as the river firmly kept her in the middle of its narrow body.

"Keep your head above the water! I'm coming!" Greymon roared, furiously blotting out the pain of his injury and piling on more speed.

"Fire!" came the first voice from before and Greymon's head shot around to see the culprit! A large, portable trebuchet had been mounted on top of a rise nearby and there were several of the robed indistinguishable figures clustered around it, having loaded another rock into the sling at the back. As the voice cried out, that boulder was sent flinging straight towards the running Greymon as the counterweight fell down and the sling tossed it into the air.

"No, you don't!" Greymon snarled and spun around on the spot, bringing his tail around and slamming it into the flying rock to splinter it to useless pieces before it could strike into him, before whirling back around to launch a Mega Flame at the trebuchet. The figures around it scattered, bolting into the undergrowth as the trebuchet was blasted into flaming splinters.

Greymon kept running, but that brief altercation had allowed Bastemon to get further away from him and he guessed there was still another trebuchet out here. Greymon hurried on, hoping that the water would slow down enough for him to catch up with its prisoner.

As it turned out, he was wrong, for he shortly spotted the same thing that Revolmon had seen when he had come this way.

"Oh, you are kidding me!" Greymon snarled in disbelief, hurrying still harder to catch up. "Princess! You have to swim! Stop panicking and swim!"

Bastemon only dimly heard his voice through the water clogging her large ears, but she did hear a rumbling noise, aided by the vibrations in the water around her as her head was dunked underneath it again by the current. Struggling wildly she brought her head back up, gulping in precious air, but as the rumble grew louder, she turned to look and her eyes widened, her pupils shrinking in terror.

She was only about ten feet or so from the edge of the waterfall that cascaded over the side of the cliff that Revolmon had tried to find a way down.

Bastemon felt a squeal of fear coming out of her but before it could come out she had been dumped underneath the surface yet again and water poured into her mouth instead, choking her. She coughed and struggled, trying desperately to fight against the current, but it was hopeless.

And as Greymon went all out, putting every spare inch of strength that he could into his legs in order to increase his speed, the second trebuchet, which he had already run past, fired again. This time Greymon was unprepared for it and while the boulder missed his main body it crashed against the back of his left leg and Greymon roared as it knocked his footing from beneath him again and the crashed down onto his side.

Right at the moment that Bastemon reached the edge of the waterfall.

In a mad last bid to keep herself from going over it she clawed at the bottom of the river, trying to latch onto something like a rock but it was no use. She was inexorably dragged over the edge and even the ability to scream was denied her as water crashed into her open mouth and threatened to choke her as she fell.

"NO!" Greymon roared as he scrambled back upwards, his foot buckling underneath him so he almost fell yet again, staring in disbelief at the edge of the waterfall for a second where Bastemon had disappeared. Then his face twisted into a look of fury as he spun around and blindly launched a Mega Flame in the direction of the other trebuchet, not caring if he hit it or not, before he hurried on, trying not to limp as he rushed to the edge.

Bastemon let loose a choking gasp as she fell amongst the curtain of water, but she saw the large pool at the bottom rushing towards her, or rather she was rushing towards it. She only had time to mutter in her mind, I'm sorry, before she slammed into the pool and everything went black.

Revolmon was still being watched by the two Rangers who had been assigned to guard him. They were standing a little further back now but they were still keeping their swords out and ready just in case he tried anything, while he was forced to kneel in front of a very boring stone wall with his hands firmly linked behind him.

This was getting him nowhere. He needed to get back to his friends and explain to everyone that there was no reason to fear either party but at the moment he had no idea what was going on, so doing anything about it was an exercise in futility. Perhaps he had been too rash in demonstrating his gun to show Faramir that he was no threat after all. In hindsight it probably had not been the smartest thing to do, but he had been desperate to get his point across.

Suddenly a shadow fell past the entrance to the cave outside, falling through the waterfall that was an ever-present noisy background cascading past them.

"What was that?" Revolmon blinked, trying to turn to face it, for he had only seen it out of the corner of his eye, but suddenly the Rangers pressed towards him and had their swords at the back of his neck again.

"Don't even think about moving," one of them said.

"Yeah, I got that but seriously what was that shadow?" Revolmon huffed.

"Probably just a bit of debris from the river above. Happens all the time. Now be quiet."

"Yeah, yeah, I got it," Revolmon grunted, but then he began to hear a faint noise from up above that sounded like heavy footfalls.

Greymon reached the edge of the cliff a little unsteadily but planted his injured foot firmly on the ground as he looked quickly over the edge, staring down into the water below and searching for any sign of his companion. There was nothing – nothing for a full ten seconds of staring. The water just collected in the large pool and then flowed out of the mouth at the other edge and continued to flow on as if it hadn't all just fallen off the edge of a cliff, but of Bastemon there was no sign.

Greymon's lips drew back in a furious snarl and he let loose a roar which shook the sky. A roar of anger and despair at his own failure to protect the princess which made the trees down below rattle their leaves at its sheer force.

But Greymon had not given up hope yet. He needed to find a way down this cliff and quickly, but jumping would be out of the question even if he wasn't injured. So he quickly hurried off down the side of the cliff, hoping that there was somewhere that something of his size would be able to scramble down soon.

"Hey!" Revolmon cried. "That… that was Greymon's roar! I'd know it anywhere. What's going on up there? What are you guy's doing?" He suddenly pushed himself to his feet. "Whatever you're doing you've got to stop!"

Before he could turn around the two Rangers had seized him by his upper arms and were trying to flatten him against the wall, keeping his gun barrel firmly pinned against it where he couldn't use it against either of them. "You're not going anywhere! The Captain still hasn't finished questioning you," said one of them.

"Are you guys attacking Greymon and Bastemon?" Revolmon yelled, lifting his legs and placing them against the wall to push himself backwards. "I told you that they were no threat to you!"

"Stop struggling!" the other Ranger cried. "You're not getting away from us."

"Let me go! You don't understand. Greymon can get very aggressive when he's angry and Bastemon's one of the most innocent things you've ever met. If you guys go attacking them… just let me go out there and stop this before it gets out of hand."

"Stay put!"

"Let go!"

Revolmon and the two Rangers grappled with one another for a while, the Digimon trying to push the two Men backwards and surprising them both with the strength in his slim-looking limbs, but neither side seemed to be able to make much headway. In his frustration, Revolmon quickly let off a shot from his gun, which impacted against the wall in front of him and served to push them all backwards and stumble to the ground.

Unfortunately though, the Rangers decided that enough was enough. As Revolmon struggled to get back up without the use of his hands, the two of them fell upon him. One of them plucked his large hat from the top of his head while the other one slammed the pommel of his sword into the space where it had been.

Revolmon stopped, dazed, and them slumped to the ground. "Ow…" he muttered dizzily. But then the same Ranger struck his head again in the exact same place and Revolmon blacked out.

It took far longer than Greymon had hoped before he found a place that he might be able to use to get down the cliff-top. It was the same sloped section that Revolmon had used to scramble down earlier in the day, and Greymon could tell that Revolmon had been here – his scent was still everywhere. But right now, Revolmon was not on Greymon's mind. Bastemon was. Revolmon was far more capable of looking after himself.

Ordinarily Greymon would have taken a large amount of time trying to move down such a steep slope, but now he couldn't afford to be slow and he scrambled down it sideways, carefully but quickly placing his large, three-toed feet wherever he could find a decent enough hold. But it was still a treacherous descent and in his haste his injured foot gave out on him as he neared the bottom and crashed onto his side and skidded the rest of the way down, a large tree stopping him from sliding a fair distance when he crashed into it.

But compared to the injury to his foot and his side given to him by the boulders those two things were but trivial and Greymon pushed himself to his feet, trying not to limp as he hastily made his way back the way he had come towards the pool.

When he reached it, he could still smell Revolmon, and he could also smell something else – something extremely familiar, but his brain couldn't place where he had smelt something like that before. But his brain was not actually trying very hard, otherwise he would have been able to place it as a human scent with ease – for the Rangers that had been around here did not always mask their scent with the berries that had stopped him from smelling them before.

Greymon quickly plunged his head into the pool, which was surprisingly clear, but he could make out no sign of Bastemon beneath the surface. There was no broken body lying on the bottom of the pool, but considering that Digimon splintered into data when they died Greymon didn't know whether to be heartened by this or not.

Still, he had to be sure, and he waded out into the pool a little way to overturn some boulders and make sure that there was nothing pinned beneath them, but as he expected, he found nothing. Surely Bastemon would not have been able to hold her breath for so long anyway.

Greymon snarled furiously as he felt the guilt well up inside him. What had he done? He had lost the practically defenceless princess. He had never been very close to her but the fact that one of the last things he had done to her was to scream at her about her airs and graces and everything else that had annoyed him about her before this he couldn't help but feel guilty. No – extra guilty. He was the one who was supposed to be protecting her and he had lost her. Was she even still alive?

No, he must not give up hope yet. He could not detect her scent anywhere, but then again there was water everywhere which would be masking it if there was. He had to keep trying. He had to…

A sudden volley of arrows thundered down from overhead and crashed into his already arrow-ridden body, hitting him in the shoulders and back or bouncing off the top of his armoured head. Greymon roared in anger and looked up, hurling a Mega Flame up at the top of the cliff again before he turned and stormed away into the bushes.

About half an hour later and Revolmon began to regain consciousness. He groaned blearily as he fought the pounding sensation in the top of his head, screwing his yellow eyes shut as one of the worst headaches he'd ever had seared into his memory.

He could hear voices behind him, but it took him several moments to realise that they were there, and a few more seconds after that before he thought to actually listen to what was being said.

"…that nobody was killed," said a voice that he recognised as Faramir's. "The dragon was one of the toughest adversaries that we've ever had to face. If Sauron has managed to get his hands on more creatures such as that then who knows what might have become of us."

"So it really breathed fire then?" asked one of the guards.

"Yes and it's destroyed quite a large portion of the scrubland to the south. We've got several cases of severe burns and a few fractured bones here and there but nobody has been killed. Like I said, it was a miracle. But I think that we should nevertheless begin preparations for if any more of these creatures show up. We must dig more of those pits that we use to halt the progress of the Mûmakil, and place more of them around this place. This one went right into the Forbidden Pool itself. We can't allow something as dangerous as that to get close again."

"Well, at least we're safe," said another voice.

"Yes," Faramir nodded. "We valiantly defended ourselves on this day and came out of it intact. It does give me some small hope for the future but we still need to be prepared for next time. We may not be so lucky. After all, it did destroy both our trebuchets."

"What…?" Revolmon said blearily as he sat up. "You… you really did attack Greymon? What… what happened?"

"Ah, I see that the creature is awake," said one of the guards. "We had to be a bit rough with it, Captain, after it tried to get away."

"Understandable," Faramir nodded. "You did what you had to do. The sooner we extract the information from this being the better." He then turned to Revolmon and said, "Your dragon friend is still alive, but we managed to drive it away from this place, so I would not count on a rescue from it anytime soon. I'm going to want some more answers about it from you when you're in more of a condition to talk."

"And Bastemon?" Revolmon muttered, wobbling on his knees as the guards came to once again stop him from getting up and turning towards them. "What about her?"

"If you are referring to the cat woman then we are not sure," Faramir replied. "We lost sight of her somewhere during the battle."

Revolmon felt a dull thud in his brain. "Oh hell," he muttered. "What the heck have you guys done?"

"Protected our home," Faramir replied.

"But you didn't need to," Revolmon cried. "You should have listened to me!"

Such was the earnestness in Revolmon's voice that Faramir actually stopped and listened for a moment, hesitating. This creature sounded genuinely worried and upset… something that he would never associate with a spawn of the Dark Lord. It was a little unsettling.

Was it possible? Could such a thing as a good dragon even exist? Had he made a mistake?

Everything he knew about dragons told him – no. He had done the right thing.

So why was he suddenly worried that he was wrong.

Hours passed, and the Sun was on the last vestiges of its journey through the sky on that day, dropping down the sky until it had almost touched the horizon, before Bastemon finally came to a stop and washed up on the shore of the much wider river. It was a miracle that she was still alive. Somehow the water funnelling out of the Forbidden Pool had flipped her unconscious body onto her back so she had broken the surface a little way out into the river, and she had been floating along ever since.

At the feeling of ground beneath her, Bastemon stirred and suddenly coughed up a small fountain of water that had been trapped in her lungs the whole time, rendering her only just able to breathe. She rolled numbly over and slumped against the bank, unable to find the energy to even crawl up far enough to remove her legs from the water.

But eventually she mustered up enough strength to lift her head and look around. She was nowhere near anything she recognised and while she might still be alive, she was now completely on her own.

And Bastemon had no idea what to do next.

As usual I shall leave it on a painful cliffhanger ending. Heh. Yes, I know that Faramir made the wrong decision when it came to attacking Greymon but be fair on him – what he knows about dragons is very different from the truth about the Digimon and in his world dragons and everything like them really HAVE been evil creatures, created by Morgoth for that very purpose so as far as he was concerned he WAS doing the right thing.

Anyway, despite its ending I hope you enjoyed the chapter itself. XD But now it is time for the two oneshots which have been waiting in the wings for a long time to finally be written and uploaded, which is what I intend to do before I update either Chapter 21 of either of my two stories. And before anybody asks – no. I am not taking any more oneshots at this stage. Two is enough for the time being.


Next time…

Following her new eagle companion, Sparrowmon heads east towards the Misty Mountains. But the Eagles of the North are busy with something themselves, for a strange new creature has entered their territory. A blue bird with a body of metal.

Coming up:- Chapter 21 : Avian Clash