Arc 1: In the Shadows

Chapter Seventeen

An Ancient Dragon is Wise

Riku was really regretting his rash decision to stay right about an hour into his dash into the dark forest.

His injured side was bleeding profusely and the burnt bloody skin was sending fiery pain up his veins into his brain. With every breath, with every step, he fought to stay upright as his vision swam from the agony which threatened to send him flat on his face.

Ginryō let out a quiet "Ryuu…" as the human stopped and leaned against a dark tree's trunk, breath coming in pained and ragged gasps, eyes closed as he rested. But he wasn't still, he was swaying about like he was about ready to collapse at any moment.

"…'kuu…" Ginryō finally said softly, being unable to form his partner's name fully now that he was out of the world and still a fresh Digimon. So the small Digimon settled for simply tucking his soft cool nose into the warm skin of Riku's neck in the hopes of comforting his hurting partner.

The silverette gave a shuddery sigh and stroked Ginryō's silky purple fur. "I'll be alright." Riku assured his little dragon partner, aqua blue eyes open now and observing their surroundings warily as he didn't want to cross paths with the malevolent group that had attacked the twins Kouichi and Kouji.

His free hand going to the strange device that had appeared like his true Keyblade, it's rubber handles a dark red that faded to a deep orange, the body a dark blue that held a lightening shade near the grips and the buttons, almost like the lightening sky that he glimpsed in between the thinning trees.

Suddenly the device bleeped, braking the relative quiet of the forest, causing Ginryō to squeak and fall off Riku's shoulder while Riku started and looked around again to see if anyone had heard the loud noise before glancing down in befuddlement at the device.

A message had popped up.

With creasing eyebrows, he hesitated and then came to a decision.

Riku selected the blinking icon of a letter and opened it.

Hurry Guardian – you're running out of time

The conquerors of this world are not kind.

Find the Azule Dragon and he will show

Something rare and need to know.

Then find your King and let Destiny stow,

And only then shall you find what you must do and where to go.

Riku blinked. What did it even mean?

As he pondered this, Ginryō let out an irritated "ryo..." as the small Digimon floated back up to Riku's line of sight before perking up and spinning around the silverette's head excitedly chirping.

"Ginryō? What…" Riku trailed off, some strange feeling washing over him, causing a decreasingly rare smile to spread across his face.

With an elated cry, his small serpentine dragon of a partner zoomed off, suddenly veering to the right and further up, going above the thinning trees. A wry chuckle escaped Riku's lips as he unfurled his black wings and pushed off the ground, quickly catching up with his small companion.

As the two flew higher, the sun began it's journey across the sky, the three visible moons above slowly starting the journey on the other side of the planet. Higher and higher went the sun; higher and higher went the boy with wings and the little dragon child.

While they flew, they were joined with strange glowing digimon that Ginryō enthusiastically greeted with bright chirps and whistles as the small baby Digimon swerved around and around their new flying companions, causing Riku's smile to broaden once more in amusement as Ginryō instigated a brief tumble midair with one of the small beings, having accidently crashed in when the newborn Digimon had seen something and had stopped midflight, leading to affronted trills and tinkling chimes that Riku assumed was the equivalent of laughter.

And then the strange giddy feeling was back, compelling them to bank right and suddenly, through misty clouds, Riku and Ginryō saw a mountain waterfall, the roar of the water hitting rocks far down below, the mist hitting their faces as they approached the mountain with it's falling river.

The mountain that the group had found themselves flying by was not the dark spiral mountain that Riku had found himself on just two days before. In fact, Riku was surprised there was even a mountain to begin with!

With a sigh Riku's feet landed on bluish grey damp rock, his black wings folding comfortably against his back, the small glowing Digimon letting out happy trills as they landed farther in, the mist cloaking them from Riku's view.

"Hello Guardian of the Heart."

Riku jumped at the ancient and echoing voice and then, the mist was blown away by a strong wind, revealing a majestic blue dragon, who was vastly larger than any other creature Riku had seen.

"Who are you?!" the silverette teen demanded, even as Ginryō trilled and flew up to rest on the gigantic dragon's head, cooing.

Amused laughter tinged with sadness rang and reverberated throughout the mountainside.

"Oh young Guardian, you have much to relearn in the regards of trusting your own Heart to guide you."

Riku's brow furrowed. "What do you mean by that?! I trust my heart just fine! And you haven't answered my question! Who are you?!"

"…I am Azulongmon, one of the stewards of this world." The blue dragon regarded the teen steadily.

Riku twitched, fist gripping the strange device that had given him the cryptic message. "Alright fine, so you protect this world, just like Kouichi and Kouji did, can you tell me what this thing means then?!" he thrust the device in Azulongmon's direction.

The giant dragon Digimon glanced down at the device and sighed. "That, young Guardian, is a Digivice and it proves that you have much to do with this world, if your partner Ryomon was not proof enough. But, your time here is hastening to a close Guardian. You must leave, as I sense that your duty is elsewhere."

Riku's eyebrow twitched this time. Why did all of the powerful beings in the universe that had light intentions have to be so cryptic all the time?

"What do you mean by that? Why am I supposed to be here!"

"All in good time young Guardian, one day, you shall return with that knowledge."

"You're supposed to tell me something, something rare and need to know! What is it, I need to understand!" Riku demanded, annoyed and frustrated at the cryptic circles the dragon was spinning around his head.

Azulongmon regarded the young teenager standing infront of him before letting out a longsuffering sigh. Oh the persistence of youth! "You have something that does not belong to you, Riku; something that must be returned when you find the one Lost and hidden in the Dark's hands, before it is too late and becomes irrevocably yours."

And then the mega level Digimon stood, causing Ginryō to squeak and flutter to Riku's protective arms and then flew off and left a fuming teen to shout after him while cradling his small partner, "Wait! What does that mean! AND HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW MY NAME!?"

"The time ebbs forwards, young Guardian, the Dark Masters search for me and my brothers. It is not safe for you here in this time." And with that last cryptic statement, Azulongmon was gone into the cloaking shrouds of mist and cloud.

Riku groaned, before sighing and ruefully agreeing with the cryptic Digimon. It was past time he moved on.

"C'mon Ginryō, it's time to leave." And with barely a wince, the black winged teen opened a Dark Corridor and stepped through, leaving the oddly out of place, mist shrouded mountain, and the Digital World, behind.


AAAAAH! I'M SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SORRY! It's been 2 months and life has swarmed me and thrown several life changers into my path, causing mind explosions, eradication of plot bunnies and just round about craziness. I've fallen head over heels in love with this geeky, hilarious, adorable, ridiculously tall, Transformer fan whose an all-around loveable young man who loves me as much as I love him, who's stolen my heart.

My plot bunnies were swept aside for a while as I was left to process what had happened between the two of us, leaving you all in a horrid form of clifhanger-esque limbo, so for that I apologize. Hopefully, my muses will have restarted their brains more as time goes by, because this arc is ending pretty fast!