Hey, sorry that this wasn't updated last week like I hoped it would be but I've been extremely busy preparing for an interview that I have next Wednesday, which is for one of the postgraduate degrees that I have applied for. I hope to catch up once it's over, and I'll be better prepared for the second one a month later but still, this is important to me and takes precedence over writing, but I still aim to catch up eventually so I'm updating the same chapter number for both stories again each week.
To Be a King
Chapter 59:- Message and Mayhem
Knightmon swirled his drink in the tankard that he had been provided with and took a gulp of it. How he was able to drink without removing his helmet was a complete mystery even to him but somehow he managed to it. And while he Dwarves around him were drinking copious amounts of malt beer, he was only take the occasional swig of it. After all, he was still very much of the opinion that a Knight should be ready to defend the weak at all times, so he couldn't afford to get too inebriated.
That said though, there was very little around here that he needed to protect. The Princess was missing and the Dwarves all seemed to be capable fighters and within this massive mountain stronghold of theirs it seemed there was very little that would be able to threaten them. Though apparently one of those potential threats was a big Dragon, but according to Dwalin they had spent the last sixty years preparing for another attack from a Dragon. They weren't about to let their home be taken again without much more of a fight the second time around.
Knightmon felt restless. He felt that he should be out there, searching the hills for the princess and the others but the simple fact was the he didn't have the first clue where to start. The Dwarves and the Men of Dale had generously sent out scouting parties in all directions to see if they could find anything unusual and Knightmon thought he should be accompanying them. But his hosts had insisted that he get some rest.
Though Knightmon wasn't fooled. He could tell that they didn't entirely trust him or his friends yet and they wanted to keep an eye on him until they did. They weren't prisoners within this mountain but they weren't exactly free to roam wherever they wished either. But since Knightmon was a guest, he wasn't about to do anything to make the hosts suspicious. According to Bofur, they were already putting a lot of trust in the Digimon. Especially considering the dangerous times they were in.
"Ah, but it was a fierce fight," Dwalin recounted wistfully, as two of his sons and one of his daughters ran around squealing nearby. "There's no feeling quite like the adrenaline rush you get in the middle of a battle, I find. Battles are ugly affairs of course and nothing to get excited about… but the blood pumping and roaring in your ears… the frenzy building up in your gut. Sometimes you can't help but feel exhilarated by it all."
"I know what you mean, to an extent," Knightmon nodded. "As a Knight and bodyguard of the Princess I only fight when I must, but at the same time, you cannot help by feel an immense amount of satisfaction every time you dispatch an enemy. For me though, it was always because I knew that that was one less foe that could bring harm to my platoon, my friends and my leaders, not for the pleasure of it alone."
"You've probably never encountered anything like an Orc then, if that's the case," Dwalin growled, slamming his tankard down on the table. "Trust me when I say that hunting and killing those filth-ridden stains on Middle Earth – there is nothing more satisfying than that. Because you already know that you can never show mercy to an Orc and expect it to be grateful and because it rids the world of yet another parasite that would suck the blood of thousands if it could, but only after it sliced each of them into pieces first."
"I count myself fortunate to have never run into these creatures, if that is the case. What is the likelihood of encountering them around these parts?"
"Time was I would have said there was no chance at all," Dwalin shrugged. "There hasn't been an Orc foolish enough to venture close to Erebor for sixty years now. But in these times, with all the things we're hearing about the spreading evil to the South and the East… anything is possible."
"It looks like the mountain is preparing for war," noted Knightmon, glancing over his shoulder at the non-stop activity. On all the many levels and walkways that filled the mountain, Dwarves were on the move. Sparks flew as axes and swords were sharpened, others were carrying parts that looked like they belonged to siege equipment around, and most of those that were not heading somewhere were practicing with their weapons. There was a throwing axe range set up only a few-hundred years away, and Dwarves were taking it in turns to hurl their blades at the target, embedding them deep in the wooden planks.
"You'd have to be a fool not to be ready after all the news we've been getting," Dwalin noted. "We sure as hell aren't going to let the enemy catch us unawares. We had scouts out patrolling the area long before we ran into you. Should the enemy be adventurous enough to march on the mountain… they'll find themselves a lot more than they bargained for. Feel sorry for you though – you picked the wrong time to come and visit."
"War is inevitable?"
"Probably. You'll be meeting those Orcs for the first time soon enough, I'm sure."
"I look forward to it," Knightmon muttered dryly. "But if war is spreading across this world… then I fear greatly for my companions. Most of them are capable fighters. Even Princess Bastemon can be deadly under the right circumstances," he shivered, not wishing to remember what he had seen the princess do to that poor giant mouse, even if the giant mouse had been an enemy. "But she's not deadly all the time, and a great many of them are not deadly at all."
"Well I'm afraid I'm not really sure how much we can help you," Dwalin shrugged. "We've got to make sure our own homes are defended and if what you're saying is true about you being from another world, your companions could be anywhere. We've got nowhere specific to look and even if we did, you won't find my Dwarves that are willing to up and leave to help a total stranger when we could be attacked any day now."
"I understand," Knightmon nodded. "I can hardly ask you to head out and leave everything you value vulnerable to attack, even if there's a chance it would put those that I value at greater risk. I do not know how much longer we'll stay here though. We still need to find our friends."
"Oi, put me down! I'm not a treasure for you to steal!"
Knightmon and Dwalin both looked over to where the other Dwarves and the rest of the Digimon in Knightmon's company were hanging around together, and it seemed that for the third time in the past hour one of the Dwarves – Nori, if Knightmon was remembering right – had picked up Starmon and tried to stuff him into the inside pocket of his tunic.
"Let go of our brother!" several of the Pickmon yelled, a couple of them bouncing up and down on the table and hurling themselves at Nori to batter against him with their pointy heads. Nori yelled and moved to shield his face with his arms, right as his older brother Dori marched over and yanked the struggling Starmon out of Nori's hand and deposited him on the table.
"By the light of the Arkenstone, Nori," Dori chastised his sibling. "I was really beginning to think we were getting past this until today. You have to stop trying to steal things. Especially living things like this star."
"You think I don't know that?" Nori muttered. "It's just… it's a natural thing that I've got stuck in my head. I see something shiny or valuable looking and I have to have it if I can get away with it."
"I'm not some valuable gem for you to put on a mantelpiece!" Starmon yelled at him. "I'm a proud Digimon of Xros Heart. You can't steal me!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Just can't help it."
"Nori, you haven't been a thief for over sixty years. Why do you seem to keep on trying to relapse into being one? It's not something stuck in your head. The only one of us here who's got anything stuck in our heads is Bifur," Dori massaged his temple in frustration.
"Kooz-aba-kroogar!" Bifur huffed and looked away.
"Aw come on, Dori, that's harsh," Bofur snorted with a glass of what was possibly brandy in his hand. "You know that Bifur takes the whole axe in the head thing quite personally. There was no call for that."
"Nevertheless, it's true," Dori folded his hands. "You were doing so well, Nori. From now on, you've got the resist the temptation. Next time you want to steal something… just pretend it's a living thing, like Starmon here."
"I may be a living thing but that hasn't stopped him from trying to nab me so far…" Starmon muttered.
"You just need to distract yourself," the incredibly wide form of Bombur heaved himself upwards to hold out a leg of lamb to Nori. "Here… why don't you try a bite of this…" Nori reached for it, but Bombur seemed to change his mind before he could and immediately brought it back and bit into it. Nori scowled, wondering if part of that was due to Bombur's appetite alone or some weird lesson that he couldn't just take what wasn't his. Knowing Bombur, it was difficult to guess which it would be.
"And this is the merry bunch that you travelled with to liberate this mountain from a terrible Dragon?" chuckled Knightmon. "You must be pretty brave to try such a thing."
"There were more than twice this number on that trip," Dwalin grunted. "But after Thorin and the young ones died, and my own brother took a couple of others to Moria, this is all that's left apart from Glóin, and he hasn't come back from Rivendell yet. Wonder how long he'll keep putting off returning. It's hard to leave a place with plentiful meals when the journey home is such a long one. Your own company are pretty quiet though."
Knightmon looked at the ten PawnChessmon who were dotted around the room, feeding small globs of food into the blackness behind their visors and into unseen mouths. "The PawnChessmon rarely talk if someone else can do the talking for them," he explained. "Usually they just like to follow orders where they can. But they are capable of making conversation when someone asks it of them, is that right?"
"Oh yes, Lord Knightmon," one of the PawnChessmon raised a hand. "But we usually have more fun with just listening. Plus it makes us readier to hear instructions when they're coming."
"Ah, fair enough," Dwalin nodded.
"Ey up," Bofur's voice rang out over the room. "Look lads, here comes Thorin."
"Thorin?" frowned Knightmon, turning to look in the direction the Dwarves were looking in. "I thought you said that Thorin perished in a battle sixty years ago."
"Aye, that he did. But this Thorin isn't Thorin Oakenshield," Dwalin indicated a Dwarf hurrying towards them that looked like a young adult, with a mid-length, red beard and a leaner figure than a lot of the other Dwarves. That would be Thorin Stonehelm – King Dáin's son. Dáin was Thorin's cousin after all and Dáin named his son after him since before Thorin Oakenshield's death."
"I see," nodded Knightmon.
"Dwalin," Thorin Stonehelm called to him as they approached, and Knightmon noticed that he did indeed carry a helmet that looked to actually be made of smooth rock underneath one arm. "My father has summoned you to the King's seat on urgent business."
"Is there a problem?" Dwalin asked as he pushed himself to his feet.
"Yes, I think it would be safe to assume so," Thorin nodded. "King Brand is there with him too. Apparently they've received some kind of message and it isn't good news. The rest of my namesake's company can come too if they wish."
"And what of our newest allies?" Dwalin asked, clapping Knightmon on the shoulder with a slight clanging noise. "Are they allowed in on this?"
Thorin hesitated. "I am… unsure. My father didn't give me specifics. Perhaps they can come and he shall decide himself."
"Aye, well they can come along then," Dwalin nodded. "Come on lads, let's move out."
The Dwarves quickly fell in step, except for Bombur, who had to be heaved out of the chair he was sitting in by Bifur and Nori before he could go anywhere. Knightmon pointedly tried not to look at the large Dwarf's belly which bounced in an almost obscene way as he walked. The PawnChessmon made to follow him, but Knightmon turned and said, "Perhaps it would be better for you to remain here and… keep an eye on all the Pickmon."
The PawnChessmon turned to see all fifty-one of the Pickmon darting around, jumping into soup bowls and generally making a nuisance of themselves. With their tiny legs, they wouldn't be going anywhere fast anyway and their attention span was sadly limited in a lot of ways. The PawnChessmon all nodded wordlessly and moved to round them up and make sure none of them did anything like wander into a furnace.
Starmon, one the other hand, flipped into the air and landed on Knightmon's shoulder. "You aren't planning on going without me, were ya?" he asked.
"Of course not," Knightmon chuckled. "Come, let us see what the King has to say."
"You know," Bofur nudged Knightmon as they walked. "I think you guys have made a real impression on Dwalin. He normally don't trust anyone that isn't a Dwarf themselves unless they've been friends for years."
"Is that so?" Knightmon asked.
"Oh aye. Took him forever to trust Bard when he became the King of Dale. But I guess there's just something about you guys that he likes."
"Well obviously we can dazzle anyone!" Starmon declared. "We're stars after all – every one of us!"
"Course you are," Bofur grinned, despite not having the faintest idea what Starmon meant by that. He could barely see why he called himself a star. After all, stars were little pinpricks of light in the sky, not jagged and pointy. It made no sense.
"I see you brought company, Dwalin," Dáin huffed from where he was standing in front of his throne, with King Brand at his side, the Man standing taller than everyone else in the room except Knightmon himself and his bow ever-present on his back. Also dotted around the place were other Dwarves that Knightmon recognised to be members of the Royal Guard and various captains of the Dwarven army.
"Didn't figure that you'd mind too much, my lord," Dwalin shrugged, not bothering to be courteous – Dwalin and Dáin had become close companions after Thorin Oakenshield's death.
"I do not," Dáin shook his head. "The contents of the message I have received will be heard by all soon enough. And it is grave."
"Let me take a guess?" Dwalin folded his arms. "That which we have been preparing for will soon be coming to pass?"
"That it will," Dáin nodded. He nodded to a bird that was sitting perched on the side of his throne – a large raven. "Kraar? Will you not repeat what you have to say for everyone else's ears?"
The raven cawed, and then he began to speak. This was something that would have surprised most people, but Knightmon and Starmon took it in their stride. After all, all the birds in their world talked. They saw no reason why this one shouldn't be able to. In fact, they'd probably be more perturbed by the idea of a bird that didn't speak.
"Crak, crak… you are not the only ones that have been keeping your eyes peeled for an incoming invasion," Kraar the raven said. "The people of Esgaroth have also been sending out wide patrols around the area. And this morning, one of their farther patrols found what they hoped they would not. There is an oncoming horde of Orcs marching north up the Eastern side of Mirkwood. Their direction of travel suggests that they came from Dol Guldur."
"Dol Guldur?" Dwalin cursed. "I thought Gandalf and the White Council purged that place of its evil sixty years ago."
"It seems that the Enemy is like a weed," Dáin growled. "Unless it is fully stamped out, it will return. And while the Necromancer, as he called himself then, was driven out of Dol Guldur, he still remained alive. It seems that his forces have taken up residence in there once again, and have, like us, been preparing for war."
"No surprise there," Brand muttered. "It seems we may be looking at yet another invasion from the South. Two in the space of a century – has the enemy ever pulled something like that off before?"
"It does not matter how many times he falls upon our gates, we will repel him," Dáin growled.
"Ah, but that is not all," Kraar interrupted. "My brethren and I performed some additional advance scouting from the air at the behest of the Master of Esgaroth when we learned of this news. We flew all around the area and it seems that there is a second incoming horde approaching from the south-east, about a day behind the Orcs. But this is a company of Men. Men in long flowing red robes with long spears and golden spiked helms. Easterlings, I believe you call them."
"The Men of Rhûn have sided with the enemy then," Brand cursed. "That makes things more complicated. Orcs have the greater numbers but Easterlings have discipline and tactics, which will mean that the Orcs will be less likely to blunder into traps if they listen to anything the Easterlings have to say."
"How fast are these Orcs moving?" Knightmon chipped in, placing a hand under his chin. "When can they be expected to arrive?"
"Crak, we estimate that it will be two days before the Orcs reach Esgaroth," Kraar reported. "It's likely that they'll attack it."
"It's possible that they could go around it," Dáin pointed out. "And attack the mountain directly without taking too much extra time but the lake town is the quickest and most direct route to the mountain."
"And of course Orcs never needed any real reason to sack a city if it stood between them and their target," Dwalin grunted. "I wouldn't put it past them to attack Esgaroth even if it was quite some distance out of their way."
"Then what are you proposing to do about it, brothers!" Starmon jumped up and down, flailing his point-arms wildly. "If they're going to attack then we have to attack back!"
"We?" Brand asked pointedly. "You would willingly drop everything, including the search for your other friends, to fight with us?"
"It is the honourable thing to do," Knightmon knelt down and bowed his head in respect to the Kings. "My comrades may be in danger, but they may also be totally fine. I do not know. But what I do know is that there are others in imminent danger right here and at Esgaroth, and I would never, could never, leave without contributing to the defence. Especially not after your generosity to us."
"Same here," Starmon boinged from one of Knightmon's shoulder to the other. "Besides, Brother Shoutmon would never look at us the same way again if we ignored Xros Heart's motto and turned our backs."
"Forgive me for asking this, but what exactly can a little creature like you do in a battle?" Dori asked Starmon.
"Now, now, we of all Dwarves should know that size doesn't mean anything when it comes to ability. We all remember how much Bilbo did for us back on the quest and we all thought that he'd be a useless drag when he first started out."
"True, but there's a difference between being small and… well… that…" Nori countered, looking at Starmon, noting his lack of hands or any particular limbs of any kind. "I don't think he'll be wielding a sword anytime soon."
"We don't need swords," Starmon declared. "My little brothers and I could actually combine to become a sword if any of you had a Xros Loader. But since you don't, we'll handle it the old fashioned way. We'll fight. All of us. And we'll show those Orcs a thing or two about messing with the Starmon Corps."
"Well, they've clearly got the enthusiasm for it," laughed Dáin, before his face turns serious again. "But we must begin preparations. The Orcs are sure to attack Esgaroth, and I doubt that Laketown can be held against them, especially after their Easterling reinforcements arrive. But nevertheless, we shall head down there now and assist in the evacuation and shore up our defences there."
"If it's unlikely we can hold it, why not just let the Orcs have it and fall back to the mountain?" Dwalin pointed out.
"Because I want someone to send a runner to King Thranduil in Mirkwood and ask for his help," Dáin replied. "When the enemy reaches the mountain we will inevitably find ourselves under siege, but if we hold them back at Esgaroth, we may be able to buy time for the Elves to join us before that happens."
Dwalin muttered to himself, quite clearly not liking this idea much – Dwarf grudges did take a very long time to die after all and King Thranduil had held him and his companions prisoner for little reason other than mutual dislike. Even Dwalin admitted Thranduil's attitude had improved much over the last sixty years but he still didn't particularly like the Elven King.
Nevertheless he agreed with Dáin that having their help would probably be invaluable.
"You Digimon," Dáin turned to Knightmon and Starmon again. "Are you totally sure that you are with us?"
"My swords are yours," Knightmon drew one and placed it at Dáin's feet, "Until such a time as the threat to your domain passes."
"What he said!" Starmon cried. "Now come on, let's get going. Times a-wasting!"
"You heard him!" Dáin bellowed. "Spread the word! We leave for Esgaroth as soon as we've assembled our forces. Let's move!"
Down much further southwest, past the approaching Orcs, the forest of Mirkwood and the fortress of Dol Guldur, lying to the east of the Forest of Fangorn, flowed the River Limlight. It was this river that marked the northern border of Rohan. Any further north and you would enter what was known as the Great River region.
And this was where Éomer and the hundreds of riders that had followed on behind him had made their camp. On the southern side of the River, which meant that technically they were still in Rohan itself. Éomer could not yet bring himself to leave but he knew that tomorrow he would, and he would take his Men with him.
Éomer had no knowledge over what had happened in Edoras that day. He had no idea that his uncle had been freed from Wormtongue's spell or that Rohan had recently made itself a set of very strange allies indeed. As far as he was aware, thanks to the little worm that he so loathed he was now a banished man, and would soon never able to return to the country that he so loved and see his family again. His uncle, his cousin, his beloved sister… all of them were permanently lost to him.
He wondered how long it would take for Saruman to decimate the country and walk all over the bewitched King and his family.
Éomer often considered simply defying the orders of the King and riding straight back across the country, shoving a sword through Wormtongue's gut and assuming command himself until his Uncle snapped out of whatever he had had done to him.
To do so would be treason and if the King didn't snap out of it, he would be put to death.
But it might also save the country.
Éomer would gladly sacrifice himself for his country and his family at any time if it came to that. But there were two things stopping him from doing just that right now. First there was the other riders. Each of them would also be committing treason and would also be given the death penalty if Théoden did not come to his senses.
And the other… he wasn't sure anymore if any action he took to defend Rohan would make a difference. It all seemed so hopeless now. Rohan was doomed to fall under Saruman's, and therefore Sauron's rule.
All he could do was gaze south, across lands he could never visit again. And that's all he would be able to do, it seemed, until the forces of evil swept over it and came for him and his Riders next.
They'd make a valiant stand. But in the end, they'd fall. For what apart for their own lives would they have left to fight for when their own lives had nothing worth living for in it anymore.
It was so morbid, but Éomer couldn't help but think it.
However, he was interrupted from his melancholy by one of his top men, who rode over to him on his ash-grey horse and cried, "My Lord Éomer. You might want to hear this."
"What is it, Erkenbrand?" Éomer turned to face him.
"Some of our sentries to the west have reported hearing and seeing some strange things," Erkenbrand reported. "They've described the noises as strange mixes between barks and growls carried on the wind, and they see they see little flashes of blue amongst the foliage in the downlands. But they haven't the faintest idea what they might be looking at."
"Well, based on that description I am not surprised," Éomer frowned.
"What are your orders, my lord?"
Éomer whistled, and his own trusty white steed, a horse named Firefoot, immediately ambled over and allowed Éomer to mount him with expert grace that showed he'd been pulling himself into saddles all his life. "Assemble a squad of ten Riders," he said. "We shall investigate ourselves!"
Erkenbrand and steered his horse around to follow Éomer as he passed, the two of them guiding their equine friends through the camp, weaving around the others and their hastily constructed shelters. Erkenbrand called out across the camp as they passed, gesturing at random members and yelling for them to fall in step behind them. The riders instantly dropped whatever they were doing and obeyed, and the patrol of ten was complete without them even having to stop or slow down.
Éomer approached the western sentries, who were stationed about half a mile or so from the main camp, reigning Firefoot to a stop next to one of them.
"Can you hear it, sire," the sentry cocked his ear to the wind. "Those strange noises have increased in intensity. I believe they might be coming closer."
Éomer listened carefully and sure enough he could hear it. Just as described, it sounded like a bizarre mixture of growling and snapping like some kind of wolf mixed in with an odd yapping that sounded like it came from a puppy.
"We thought it might be that we have chosen to make camp close to the family den of a bunch of wolves," said the sentry. "That would explain the yapping if they have pups."
"Regular wolves are no bother to us," Éomer replied. "It's Wargs that I would worry about, but it doesn't sound big enough to be them."
"But that does not explain the blue blurs that we see every so often. Like there!" he pointed suddenly and Éomer saw it too – several bluish shapes down the slope and amongst the bushes that littered the valley below.
"Now that is odd," Éomer agreed.
"It could be some fell sorcery of Saruman's," Erkenbrand suggested. "Perhaps he is not satisfied with merely banishing us."
"We shall find out," Éomer said firmly, nudging Firefoot forwards. "I do not fear magic tricks. And I will not speculate any more than I must. We shall find out for ourselves."
The rest of the patrol hurried after him and the horses formed a V with Éomer at the head, descending down into the valley below. The bottom of it was not exactly prime territory for riding horses as the open plains of the rest of Rohan were, as it was filled with bushes and a few trees with low-hanging branches that required them to steer around them. But as they got closer, they could hear the sounds growing louder. And they began to pick up some other distinct noises too. Noises such as snuffling and scraping and…
"How much longer are we going to stay here?" Éomer heard a growling voice ask. "Shouldn't we be doing something?"
"Like what?" another voice that was extremely similar to the first asked. "We've been charging around for days and found absolutely nothing useful."
"That doesn't mean we should give up though, does it?"
"We're not giving up. We never give up. We're just taking a rest. We need to formulate a plan."
"Not exactly what we're good at."
"You got a better idea?"
"I don't have any ideas. That what I just meant. And besides coming up with an idea, you don't have any ideas either."
"Okay, like what?"
"…I dunno! You've distracted me and made me lose my thought."
"You never had a thought."
Éomer blinked at this strange discussion and he gestured to his fellow riders to dismount as the voices were talking. He wanted to try and get closer to the source of the voices without being spotted, and the horses were too much of a giveaway. The ten Men began to stalk into the bushes as quietly as they could, the horses standing obediently where they had been left and waiting for their Riders to return.
Éomer slowly stepped up behind a bush, where he could hear some of the voices on the other side.
"Ever since we crossed that river we've done nothing but mill around here."
"Well can you blame us? It was a traumatising experience. You hate water as much as the rest of us. It's a good thing we didn't lose any of us to it. All sixty-eight of us are still here, by my last headcount."
"Can't really disagree with that one. But I still say we should do something."
Éomer began to raise himself upwards in an attempt to peek over the bush, his hand held loosely on the hilt of his sword just in case. His other men were tense behind him, waiting to see what would happen.
"Hey! Who are you guys?!" yelled a voice behind them all, and they whirled around to see three animals glaring at them. They were all about the size of large dogs, except they were blue and lizard-like, standing on two legs and with massive jaws filled with sharp-looking teeth and no visible arms whatsoever.
"What's happening?" one of the voices Éomer had been listening to asked and two more of the creatures bounded out of the foliage, almost knocking Éomer over. The Rohirrim acted on instinct and drew their swords and the moment they did, one of the creatures screamed, "ATTACK! WE'RE BEING ATTACKED!"
Instantly the entire valley became a broiling mass of mayhem. The foliage exploded all around the Men as dozens of the creatures shot out of nowhere, running around willy-nilly with seemingly no direct path in mind but somehow all managing to avoid crashing with one another. Two of them bowled one of the Men off his feet and another one slammed into the back of another man's knees, sending him tumbling over backwards, and the entire glade was filled with screaming and yelling.
"Get them! Get them!"
"I've got one's leg!"
"THAT'S MY LEG, YOU IDIOT!"
The Rohirrim, driven by instinct immediately started slashing and hacking their swords at their would-be attackers, spinning in circles and cleaving their blades downwards in an attempt to slice them up, but their blades seemed to miss every single time they tried. The creatures moved at blazing speed and could turn on a penny – every time a sword was swung at one it changed direction abruptly or spurted even faster so the blade only chopped earth behind them. Several of them actually turned around in a complete one-eighty on the spot and ran the other way.
Nobody knew what was going on at the moment and the whole place became a frenzy of motion and yelling and nickering from frightened horses in the background. Each Man had become a whirling death-machine as they swung their swords with increasing ferocity and madness in an attempt to hit their targets and still failed. The targets themselves didn't seem to have the faintest idea what they were doing and just bolted from one end of the battlefield to the other. Each Man got knocked over several times but each time they simply jumped up and started hacking again.
"What are we doing?" yelled one of the creatures.
"They're attacking us!"
"Should we attack back?"
"What do you think we're doing?"
"What do you think we're doing?"
"Stop doing plane noises!"
"Can someone tell me what's going on?"
"Help, he's after me!"
"No, he's not, he's after me! BONK! Ooh I knocked him over!"
"Come on Gaossmon! Form up! Stop running in circles!"
"I like running in circles!"
"Why are you chasing your own tail!?"
"I thought it was an enemy."
Éomer paused in the middle of the fight as he heard one particular word over the din. Gaossmon? That name struck a chord with him, and it took him a second or two to remember why?
His recent meeting with Lord Boromir sprang into his head, and the two odd companions that he had brought with him. Mervamon and Cutemon – two creatures that had claimed to be called Digimon from another universe, and they had mentioned their friend Dorulumon who was also a Digimon. All three of their names ended in the same last syllable and they had claimed that there were probably many more Digimon friends of theirs out there somewhere in Middle Earth.
If all these creatures called themselves Gaossmon…
"HOLD!" Éomer cried. "Cease this madness at once! Rohirrim, stand down!"
"My lord…?" one of them protested.
"I said stand down!" Éomer yelled firmly. "Stay your blades and move back to the horses! Move!"
The Rohirrim looked reluctant but they did as bid, dodging and meandering their way through the madly dodging Gaossmon, flailing their limbs as they tried to keep their footing and still got knocked over in some cases. Éomer was with them, sheathing his sword entirely as he called out across the battlefield. "Gaossmon, cease this at once. We are not enemies of you Digimon."
His words made very little impact. Most of the Gaossmon didn't even seem to hear him, or if they did they did not register his words. All of them were completely confused and their automatic response to confusion seemed to be to charge around madly until something made sense to them.
However, a few of the Gaossmon did seem to get the message and managed to pull themselves to a stop. When their comrades didn't do the same, they started throwing themselves at each other, knocking the others over and yelling at them to calm down. The Rohirrim watched as the Gaossmon started buffeting and ramming at each other, in an attempt to restore some semblance of order to the field.
You see, the Gaossmon were a strong and able group of Digimon. Kiriha had used them to great effect against the enemy by directing them to swarm their enemies alongside his larger, more powerful Digimon, and the Gaossmon had helped win him many victories through their sheer speed, their powerful bite and the fact they were especially skilled at swarming. They were a dangerous addition to any battlefield.
But only when they had a leader to direct them and tell them what they were meant to do and how to do it.
And since the Gaossmon had no leader amongst themselves, they simply fell into chaos.
However, eventually, calm was restored and all of the Gaossmon got the message that the fighting or whatever had been happening had stopped. The ten Rohirrim stood in a line in front of their horses, most with their swords still drawn, while all sixty-eight of the Gaossmon bunched together in front of them and stared right back, like two opposing duellists at either end of a street in a western movie.
"Peace to you, Digimon!" Éomer held his hands up to placate them. "We mean you no harm."
"Got a funny way of showing it!" the Gaossmon at the front spoke up – the Gaossmon always seemed to pick whoever happened to be at the front at the time to be their spokesperson. "Sneaking up on us, slashing at us with swords, most people would agree that that means you wanted to harm us."
"We only crept up on you because we didn't know what you were and therefore did not know if you were a threat or not," Éomer insisted. "And you took us by surprise and retaliated by instinct. We did not realise that you were Digimon."
"Yeah? Well we are, so there!" the Gaossmon said petulantly as if that was a good way to solve an argument.
"So I now notice," Éomer coughed. "By any chance are all of you friends with Digimon known as Mervamon and Cutemon?"
The names caused an instantaneous reaction through all of the Gaossmon, who started bouncing up and down on the their legs, yelling those two names and producing a slight cacophony of noise before they managed to calm themselves down again.
"I'll take that as a yes," Éomer had to resist the urge to smirk at their peculiar behaviour.
"How do you know those two?" the Gaossmon spokesman asked.
"We encountered them on the road not too long ago," Éomer said.
"Where are they?"
"That I cannot say now, for they were travelling with others from this world who may have gone in any direction. But it was not too far from here that we encountered them."
"Well what are we waiting for then?" the Gaossmon called to all of the others. "If Mervamon and Cutemon are close by then maybe we can find them and join up with them."
"I TOLD YOU TO STOP DOING THAT!"
"Whoa, whoa," Éomer quickly stepped up and grabbed their attention before they could go thundering off. "What do you plan to do?"
"We're going to find our friends, of course!"
"So, you mean to simply run around until you strike lucky and meet up with them?"
"Is that a problem?"
"Yes, it is a problem," Éomer nodded. "You can't simply charge into a foreign land and hope for the best. Most people will see you coming and think you are invaders coming to kill them and many will try and attack you like we did. It is fortunate that we had previously met some Digimon or it could have become far uglier in our brief battle."
"Well then what do you suggest we do? We can't just hang around here when our friends are close by."
Éomer grimaced. In reality, the Gaossmon wanted to do exactly the same thing that he did – shoot off across the land to find the people that they cared about – but if they happened upon a village, the result could be catastrophic for them. If the villagers thought they were invaders and word reached some of the few remaining loyal Men that an army of small Dragons was attacking, it would most likely lead to bloodshed where there needn't be any at all, for both sides of the fight would be innocent and confused. It would be a repeat of what had apparently happened at Edoras where the warg-like Digimon had been attacked because of what it looked like.
"You have no idea where to look and most people don't know what you are," Éomer chose his words carefully. "And people fear what they do not know. I would ask that you have patience and join forces with me and my Men. Perhaps we can assist you to find some of your other friends. If you are with us, the people around here will be less likely to jump to a conclusion and strike back."
The Gaossmon looked at each for a moment.
"Beats any of my ideas."
"Guess it could work."
"Do we really have to be patient?"
"Will we get cake?"
After several other questions like this the Gaossmon spokesmon said, "Sure, we'll join you. Looks like we could use some help. But hopefully we'll find something soon."
Éomer blinked. He'd been expecting them to be a little harder to sway than that, but it appeared the Gaossmon had relatively simple minds. Not that they were particularly unintelligent but clearly they didn't have a head for leadership among them.
"Are you certain about this, my lord?" Erkenbrand asked. "If these creatures prove to be with the enemy…"
"Lord Boromir put his trust in the Digimon and I would put my trust in his judgement," Éomer said firmly. Then he added, "I am Éomer, son of Éomund. Do you have name or…?"
"We're all just Gaossmon," said the one at the front.
"Right… well, considering you all look the same I suppose individual names might make things difficult," Éomer remarked. "In any case, welcome to the ranks of Rohirrim. You may be the strangest addition to its forces since the Mark first began."
"Good for us."
"Was that an insult or a compliment?"
"Nobody answered my question about the cake."
Éomer chuckled. Something told him that things were going to be… much more interesting with these Digimon around.
Heheheheehehehehe, the Gaossmon didn't get any characterisation whatsoever in the series, but when I see them I always picture them to be something like this, like a group of kids that argue all the time but come together when they need to and work together to kick some serious butt. It's been quite a while since the Gaossmon even featured in this story, so it was about time they got another moment. But they, like all the other Digimon, will get more and more time to shine as the plot strings continue drawing together.
Until next time.
Coming up:- Chapter 60 : The Not-Dragon