Well…This is it. Hope you guys have liked this, 'cause this is the last…I repeat, the LAST…Chapter of Diamond in the Rough…Feh, if you guys like it so much, I'm working on a Feudal Era fic. It's called A Feudal Fairytale, with Kari as a Princess and T.K. a samurai. Cool, huh? (Gimme some ideas, please?)

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon, or the concept of a medieval fic. But someday, this may become a real book…okay, under different names, but still, don't touch it.

Chapter 7

"Uh, Cody…" Tai tried to put his protest into words. "Not to be rude or anything, but…How is that…stick…gonna help you?"

Cody fingered the long, thin staff in his hands warmly. "This old thing's never let me down before." he said smugly. "It practically handles itself."

"Cody…Old friend…" Matt looked just as confused as Tai. "Be serious…How is that gonna stop, say, five large men armed with rather sharp swords?"

T.K. slide his own sword back into its sheaf, then gave Cody a sideways grin. He'd dueled with the man for years, and knew exactly what he was talking about. "Why don't you show 'em what old hickory can do?"

"Gladly." Cody nodded, taking up his staff.

He firmly struck the wall next to the door. For a moment, nothing happened. Then and a shelf full of books, across the wall but exactly even with the point he had struck began to waver. One by one, like a hand running behind them, each and every book fell neatly to the ground, and a lit candle on the very end went out.

Cody replaced the staff back in its holder across his back. "Any more questions?" he asked. Tai and Matt just shook their heads.

"Alright." T.K. sighed, brushing his hair back. "The plan is simple. Get in, save Kari, free the Guard and take Daricon down once and for all. Are we ready?"

"As ever." Tai sighed.

"Okay then." Matt muttered, sliding his sword back into place. "Let's get going."

~ * ~ * ~

The sun was barely rising over the edge of the castle walls when they reached them. Matt looked up the gates, which, of course, were locked.

"Okay…" he muttered. "This is a problem. How do we get in…?"

"Really, brother." T.K. laughed. "Don't tell me you never tried it!"

With that, he gripped hold of the ivy growing along the side of the wall and scaled it within a couple of minutes. A moment later, he'd unlocked the gates from the inside and opened them slow enough not to be heard.

"So!" Cody muttered, glaring at the prince as they entered in. "That's how you got out!"

T.K. grinned sheepishly, then lead the way towards the fortress. But he hadn't taken his third step before he stopped and raised his sword against the Black Guard.

"Damn!" Matt cursed, diving in with his brother, Tai and Cody fending off others behind them. "He must've been expecting us! Why didn't we come in the back?!"

No one could answer, because they were too busy trying not to get skewered. Just the same, not a one of them noticed as the balcony at the very top of the tower…that had been the Prince's room…the door opened and two figures appeared out it.

Daricon shoved his captive in front of him, grinning evilly. Kari, her wrists bound behind her back, struggled against him best she could. "Take a look…" he hissed at her, and pushed her across the banister so that she was bent over it on her stomach.

She looked down, her eyes moving from one fighting figure to the next. Cody's staff was flying, knocking the Guards back. Three were on him at any given time, those that were knocked out were replaced. Tai and Matt, both defending with swords, fought an interchanging pair each. T.K. plunged forward, knocking as many back as he could. Kari was tempted to call them, to cheer them on, but she knew Daricon's plan and held her tongue.

"Well? What're you waiting for?" The Lord Regent hissed to her again after a moment. "Call out for your beloved prince to come and rescue you…"

Kari shoved backwards and broke free of his grasp, falling to the side. "I don't care what you do to me…" she growled. "But I will never help you hurt him!"

Daricon stared at her a moment, then laughed. "Oh, I see where you're going!" he laughed. "You're the brave young heroine, right? Trying to save your…one true love, the Prince? Is that it?"

Kari glared at him, then gazed longingly back out over the battle. Daricon clicked his tongue, pulling his curved sword out of its sheaf. "We'll see about that, little girl…"

Kari only felt the sudden streak of pain as he struck her across the shoulders with the flat of his blade. Before she could stop herself, she let out a strangled cry.

T.K., down on the field, heard the noise and looked up wildly. Daricon was raising his sword to strike the girl again. "Kari!" T.K. cried, pushing his foes away.

Daricon stopped in mid-raise, tucking the sword back into its sheaf. "I was wondering when you'd notice, my lord." he sneered, yanking Kari back up. "If you want her, come and get her!"

"No!" Kari cried, suddenly striking forward against her bonds. "It's a trap!"

"Quiet you!" Daricon snapped, but she pressed on.

"Please, T.K., I beg you!" she sobbed as he forced her back through the door. "You can't come! He'll kill you!"

The door slammed shut. The few remaining guards straggled back to the castle, stumbling over their wounds. Matt ran up to his brother's side, gazing up at the tower with hatred in his eyes. "The beast…" he sneered. "Only a monster would dare to strike a woman that way."

"Guys!" Tai called. "I don't mean to interrupt, but…"

T.K. looked up, then hurried back. Tai was kneeling next to Cody, who was bent over himself, gripping his left shoulder. "Cody…" T.K. gasped. "Are you hurt?"

"It's…It's just a cut…" Cody muttered. "Only a flesh wound…"

"Let's see." Matt warned, pulling the advisor's hand away.

The palm was already smeared with flesh blood, and it was obvious what had happened. One of the guard's blades had made it past his staff and plunged into his shoulder. It was deep and painful-looking, still bleeding quickly.

"You call that not bad?" Tai gasped.

"I'm fine!" Cody insisted, pushing them off. "We're wasting time!"

He tried to stand, but sunk to the ground again when his leg went numb from loss of blood. T.K. steadied him, eyes clouded in thought.

"Cody." he said finally. "This is obviously too serious for you to continue on. You'll have to turn back."

"But Takeru…!"

"No buts." T.K. warned. "That's a direct order. Try to make it down the hill, the town doctor should fix you up."

He pulled Cody to his feet and personally lead his friend to the gates. Cody stumbled out, leaning on his cane. "Takeru…are you sure?"

"Cody, we'll be fine." T.K. sighed. "Go get yourself healed. And don't call me Takeru."

Cody smiled a tired smile. "Alright." he sighed. "Good luck…T.K.…"

With that, he limped back down the hill.

T.K. watched him go, then picked his sword up from the ground. He looked up at the others. "We gotta keep going." he sighed. "It'll only get harder from here."

They nodded, then headed up the hill to the castle above.

~ * ~ * ~

Daricon hissed like a snake, pushing his prisoner before him and facing the mirror so they could see each other eye-to-eye. Kari glared at his reflection viciously. "You…monster…" she growled.

"Monster, my dear?" Daricon laughed, then shoved her to the floor. "Is that any way to speak to your king?"

"Takeru's the real king!" Kari shouted. She struggled to try to stand, but couldn't with her hands bound. "There's no way he'll fall for your trap!"

Daricon's eyes narrowed. "Insolent little wretch!" he growled, kicking her sharply. He grabbed her by the collar and hoisted her up. "I'll show you what makes a king! That child whom you hold so dear is unfit for the hallowed position!"

Kari spat in his face. Daricon grimaced and wiped it away in disgust. "Feisty little one, aren't you?" he sneered. "I know…Why don't we check in on your knight in shining armor? He should be just within view by now…ah, but first…"

He pulled a piece of black cloth out of his cloak and, before she could react, had gagged her tight. She mumbled against the cloth incoherently as he grinned. "We wouldn't want you giving away any more secrets, now would we?"

With that, he pushed her out the door and onto the stairwell.

Another battle was already raging three stories below them in the main hall. Kari hadn't seen what had happened to Cody, so she feared the worst when only three fighters remained standing against the black-cloaked guards.

"Well well well." Daricon laughed. "The prince is doing quite well, isn't he? Shall we call him?"

Kari strained against her gag, and Daricon snickered at her distress. "Really, must you fight like that? It's unbecoming for a lady." he forced her further forward. "Why don't you just be our little damsel in distress?"

Tai looked up at the snake-like drawl of the villain's voice. "You…" he growled, knocking another back.

Daricon laughed a low laugh as T.K. looked up as well. "You really want this girl back, don't you?" he chuckled. "Of course, this invitation is to the prince alone, gentlemen. I'm sure you understand."

With that, he shoved Kari back through the opposite door. She'd been shaking her head wildly for the time he'd been talking, and the force of his push sent her sprawling, the last glimpse they got of her before the door slammed shut.

T.K. growled low, pushing back one of the guards in attempt to make it to the stairs. His brother jumped in front of him, pushing the wall to the side. "Go on!" he urged, sword flying. "You get up to Kari, we'll hold 'em off down here."

T.K. stared at his brother. "Matt…are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure!" the elder cried. "Get going!"

T.K. hesitated a moment, then nodded and made a run for the stairs. Tai and Matt knocked the guards away to make a path for him, then were pushed against each other, back-to-back.

"Well, Kamiya…" Matt laughed. "You're not bad with a sword."

"You're not to shabby yourself, Yamato." Tai grinned good-naturedly.

Takeru was plunging up the stairs as the two older men fought on below. His heart pounded as loud as his feet against the steps, and his breathing was rough. With a hard thrust, he threw open the door to his old room.

"Kari!" he gasped, freezing in his tracks.

Daricon grinned at him evilly. He had Kari between himself and the prince, and held her wrists so she couldn't move. Adding to all this, his curved blade was held to her throat, and obvious threat.

"Ah, at last." he laughed. The prince started to take a step forward, but Daricon clicked his tongue in warning. "No-no. One more step, and…"

"Don't you dare hurt her!" T.K. growled, but stayed put.

"Good." Daricon hissed, finally having the long-sought-after-pleasure of forcing the kingdom's 'ruler' to his will. "Now put down that pretty sword of yours."

T.K. slid it into his sheaf, taking his hands away from the belt. But Daricon shook his head. "No. Put it down."

T.K. glared, but his eyes drifted to the blade at Kari's throat. Her eyes were begging him not to, but that blade warned him to obey…

He pulled the belt that held his sheaf off and threw it to the ground. Daricon kicked it out of the way, all the way under the bed where no one could reach. He thought a moment, then grinned. "Fine." he snickered. "She's yours."

He pushed Kari and she fell forward, into T.K.'s waiting arms. He reached up and pulled the gag away from her mouth. "Are you okay?" he asked gently.

"You shouldn't have done that…" Kari whispered, then buried her face in his shirt, sobbing. He held her close for a moment, cradling her lovingly in his arms as he undid the binds around her arms.

"How sweet…" Daricon's growl broke their scene instantly. He pulled his own sword out, brandishing it at T.K. for a fight. "Not that it matters at the moment, boy!"

He lunged forward. T.K. pulled Kari out of the way and the two hit the ground along side the bed together as Daricon missed by an inch. "Get out of here." T.K. whispered, then vaulted over the bed before Daricon could strike again.

Kari, however, was frozen to the spot, watching in horror as T.K. defended himself the best he could, with various pieces of wooden furniture to block the swing blade. She looked around frantically, then spotted a closet with the door hanging open. Inside she could see…the prince's original weapons!

"T.K.!" she called, snatching a sheaved sword from the stack. "Catch!"

The prince looked up as the belt flew towards him, and snatched it up in one hand. With a quick movement he had the sword out and was back in battle. "Thanks, Kari!" he called, parrying a thrust. "Now run!"

Kari nodded, scrambling for the door, but when she reached it she turned back.

Daricon and T.K. were of equal skill, at least as far as training was concerned. But Daricon was taller, and he hadn't just fought two hard battles to get up here. The boy was weakening, and you could tell…

With fire burning in his eyes, Daricon plunged his blade into the prince's side. T.K. let out a cry as a spasm of pain rocked his whole body, and his hand involuntarily dropped his sword.

"T.K.!" Kari cried, as he dropped to the ground, clutching his side as one leg went numb from the sudden loss of blood.

"No!" he groaned when she tried to run to him. "Get out…Save…yourself…"

"It's such a pity…" Daricon laughed, putting the tip of his blade to his victim's throat. "That you won't get to see how your lovely little damsel in distress cries over your lifeless form…Ah, but don't worry." he pulled the blade back to strike. "She'll join you soon enough. Goodbye…lord…"

Takeru braced himself for the death blow. He didn't see Kari anywhere, with the relief that she must have run and wouldn't have to see him die like this…

Daricon suddenly stopped. He looked strangely horrified, like he was in pain or anguish. With a sudden spasm, he dropped his sword. He turned slowly, gasping and staring in shock at something across the room…

Kari stood with bow in hand, another arrow ready to fire. She'd pulled them out of the closet, too. A first one was already stuck directly between Daricon's shoulder blades. The traitor stumbled back, against the banister of the balcony, staring wildly.

"Now." Kari growled. "You're dead!"

She fired her last arrow. It struck Daricon directly between the eyes, pushing him over the edge of the balcony. With a groaning cry, he tumbled off the edge and fell to the ground.

Kari stood a moment, gasping for breath, then rushed to T.K.'s side. She cradled his head in her arms, ignoring the blood from his wound. He groaned, opening his eyes. "Kari…Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." she whispered. "It's you…I'm worried about…"

"Oh…this?" he tried to laugh it off. "It's just a…cut…"

His poor body just couldn't take it anymore. With a final groan of pain he slumped, fainting from loss of blood.

"T.K.…" Kari whispered, then shouted. "Please wake up! T.K.! T.K.!"

~ * ~ * ~

An hour later, she, Matt, Cody and Tai were hovering around the door to the prince's room. The brothers had been cornered by the Black Guard when the real protectors of the kingdom appeared. Cody, with his wound wrapped and treated in record time, had lead Jyou, the doctor, and the other men in town for backup.

Just as everything seamed fine down below, they heard a horrible scream from upstairs. A smaller group rushed up to find poor Kari crying over the prince's bloody form.

They'd feared him dead, but Jyou had confirmed that he was still alive. After Matt and Tai helped him pull T.K. onto the bed, he'd shooed everyone out but his wife, Midnight's sister Mimi, and had been working over him for the past hour.

Kari was shaking horrible, wringing her hands in fear. Tai was trying desperately to calm his sister down, and Matt was just pacing the room. All were praying under their breaths: "Please let him be okay…"

The door suddenly opened. Everyone looked up expectantly as Jyou and Mimi stepped out. They were smiling. "He's just fine." Mimi sighed. "Already regained consciousness and everything."

"Just make sure he rests for a few days." Jyou warned Matt. "After that he should be fine."

Kari opened her mouth to speak, but Mimi knew what was coming and opened the door wide. "Go right on in." she laughed.

Kari rushed in, the others hovered in the doorway. T.K. was sitting up in bed, his shirt was folded on the chair across the room and his wound was wrapped in clean white linen. His face lit up as Kari hurried over and sat beside him on the bed.

"How do you feel?" she asked gently.

"Just fine." he whispered comfortingly, squeezing her hand. "That man's a miracle worker, I tell you."

There was silence a moment as the two of them just looked at each other, forgetting the others in the room. Mimi giggled, packing up her things. "Looks like you should be planning a wedding soon…"

"There's just one problem." Matt spoke up suddenly. "The law."

Kari heaved a sigh. "Stupid law." she muttered sorely, looking into T.K.'s eyes longingly. "I love you. It shouldn't make a difference!"

Cody thought a moment, then nodded. "You're right, it shouldn't!" he exclaimed. Everyone stared, about to laugh at the usual-strict advisor. "I'm completely serious! It's positively ridiculous, we can do without! Besides…" he grinned sideways at Matt. "We loose more royalty that way."

A wave of excitement flooded the room. Tai glanced over at the ex-prince standing beside him. "Now that that's gone, are you gonna come back?"

"Not a chance." Matt laughed. "It's not my place anymore. Besides, I like the randomness of my house, and Sora hates big places."

Kari wasn't listening as they left. T.K. wasn't listening as the room emptied to just the two of them. She ran her hand over his bare chest, then put her arms around his neck. "There's one last thing we have to do before that." she whispered.

"What?" he asked, though he knew very well what she meant as his arms snaked around her waist and pulled her into his lap.

"This." she kissed him lovingly for the first time, and it was a true-to-fairy-tale ending, as Kari later told the children in their story's conclusion…

"And so, the Prince married the girl, happy at last to have each other. The prince's brother returned to his wife, and the girl's father soon had more business than he could ever have asked for. The advisor took the Lord Regent's place, and They grew into a healthy and prosperous reign, and the kingdom finally flourished. And so the new King, and his Queen, lived, as always, happily ever after…"