Episode 31: Yonder In The Great Woods

A purple light engulfed Odoramon as she reverted back into her In-Training form, Rilkemon.

The champions de-evolved back to rookie level.

“You were incredible, Rilkemon!” Maya cheered, as did the other tamers. Viola hugged her Digimon to her. Rilkemon yawned before nuzzling up in her tamer’s arms and promptly fell asleep. “I thought I’d lost you forever” Viola whispered as a tear trickled down her cheek.

“Is everyone alright?” Phoebe rubbed Maaumon’s head. The tamers all checked themselves and their Digimon, still traumatized by the events that had just taken place.

Duke wiped the sweat from his brow as he sighed a sigh of relief, “That was intense.”

Selina’s expression was one of sheer terror. She stared hard at the ground, seemingly lost in thought, still in shock.

“Hey” Yasmin placed an assuring hand on Selina’s shoulder. Selina shuddered and jumped back in surprise. The others looked at her.

“What’s the matter?” Yasmin asked.

“Apart from the Shadow Lords, she’s the strongest we’ve faced so far,” Selena said.

“Were it not for Odoramon, she would’ve killed us all!”

“Ophanimon said that the Shadow Lords need us to find the Origins.” Trask explained. “I don’t think they would let us die…”

“Really?! It’s been the only thing they’ve tried to do to us! Kill us!” Selina was visibly shaken. Tulamon became worried.

Maya stepped towards the tamer, “Selina, I know it’s difficult to understand. This whole thing is all messed up.”

“Yea” Trask agreed.

“And believe me all of use were afraid back there. We didn’t know what would happen. But we made it. We’re all still here.”

“It’s been like that since the beginning!” Selina continued, “Each time we’ve faced something we’ve narrowly escaped with our lives! Each time we were lucky!”

The others listened. They each had that thought in their minds as well.

“What if our luck runs out?”

“We’ve found one Origin.” Alex stepped forward. “We need to find the other nine. That’s the goal. And it’s been the only goal we’ve had since the beginning. Yeah we’ve had some real close calls, but we’ve overcome them. Not only because we’ve had our Digimon, but because we’ve had eachother, and I believe that give us just a bit more strength. Our Digimon have surprised us over and over again, and we’ve even surprised ourselves.”

The others nodded.

“We’ve all grown these past few years. And our Digimon have grown with us” Alex looked at his purple fox Digimon.

“I mean, who would have thought that from all our Digimon, Heraldimon would take on Ceresmon like that?”

Selina looked at the little plant Digimon fast asleep in Viola’s arms.

“We’ve come this far” Phoebe said. “We can’t give in now.”

“But we can’t do it without you,” Alex continued, “Or Tulamon.”

“We’re in this together.” Tulamon said in her soft, sweet voice.

Selina looked around at each of the tamers. They all trusted eachother. Of course they were all scared. Of course they didn’t know what they were getting into. But they were all together, and they all kept it together for the sake of everyone else, and for the sake of the goal.

She relaxed a bit and nodded her head, “My budem borot’sya. My pobedim!” Everyone else nodded unsurely at the statement they didn’t understand.

Selina smiled slightly, “We will fight. We will conquer!”

The tamers and their Digimon cheered aloud with renewed determination.

“I think we should find somewhere to rest up.” Alex said as the sky began to darken.

“I think I saw a village a while away,” Selina said. “When we ascended on Ceresmon, I thought I noticed smoke rising in the distance. That way,” Selina pointed towards the West.

“It might be too far. Definitely won’t make it before it’s too dark and the Digimon are all out of energy to take us over.” Trask said.

“You’re right.” Alex said. “We’re just gonna have to rest up here until morning. We can take turns keeping an eye out for any danger.”

“I hope we can get something to eat once we reach the village, if it is a village.” Davis said, the grumbling of his stomach echoing in the forest clearing where they were all gathered. Just then, much to his surprise, Vedamon’s stomach was heard.

“Hang in there, guys.” Maya said, “We’ll find something.”

“I’ll keep the first watch.” Alex said. “Everyone get some rest. You too, Vulpemon. You need it.”

Reluctantly, Vulpemon agreed.

“I’ll take the next shift. Wake me up okay?” Trask said.

“Got it.”

Maya kissed Alex on the cheek, “Don’t stay up too long. You need some sleep as well.”

Alex gave a smile. The rest of the tamers each found a place to nestle among the tree trunks, their Digimon curled up beside them. Vulpemon sat herself down near her tamer.

——————————————————

Soft rays of sunlight filtered down through the trees. Vulpemon stirred. She stood herself up, stretched her arms out and yawned. She surveyed the group. Davis, who was supposed to be keeping watch, had fallen asleep standing, leaning against the large trunk of a tree.

Maaumon shifted as she awoke slowly. Rockymon shaded his eyes with his paws and dozed off once more.

Maya stirred at Alex’s side. Trask shuffled where he lay. One by one the tamers slowly began to awaken, prompted by the grumbling noises of gnawing hunger coming from themselves and their Digimon.

“We are, quite possibly, the worst campers ever.” Trask said. “No food, water, provisions. Nothing.”

After a while the tamers all pushed to their feet, yawned and stretched.

“Well it’s not like we actually planned that last trip here.” Duke commented.

“Yeah.” Max agreed. “Maybe any food item might not even make it here.”

“Well, digital food is gonna have to do right now,” Phoebe said.

“It ain’t bad at all, I gotta say.” Davis added.

“Agreed. Now let’s find some.” Trask said.

“Selina said the smoke came from the…” Alex checked the compass function on his D-Ark device, “West.”

“Griffmon, can you fly up over the trees and take a look?” Yasmin turned to her griffin Digimon.

“Certainly!” And with much effort Griffmon flapped his wings and slowly but surely made his way up, perching on the highest branch he could find. He peered over the foliage of the forest that went on for miles in all directions. Towards the West he made out the faintest wisps of grey-white smoke rising in the distance. A flock of small bird type Digimon flew above him and off into the eastern sky.

Griffmon then descended back down to the ground where the others eagerly awaited him, “Selina was right. There is smoke. But it seems quite far off. I’m unsure about how long it might take to get there.”

——————————————————

“I told you she would fall,” Atropomon said. She had a womanly figure with pale blue skin. Ancient Digital Writing was inscribed all over her body, including up her bald head. Her robes were dark grey and her eyes were covered with a piece of cloth. on her wrists were shackles that each dragged a ball and chain as she glided across the marble floor of Lilithmon’s palace. Floating above her head were three orbs which served as her eyes.

“However, Ceresmon served as a good catalyst to unlock the Origin of Earth.”

“Yes yes, its all well and good in the end for us now, isn’t it?” Lilithmon was unimpressed.

“Who had money on the plant Digimon?” Beelzemon huffed.

“Why is it even called the ‘Origin of Earth’?” Lilithmon babbled to herself, “If anything it should be called the Origin of everything friggin’ Green!”

“Plutomon had made the wager on the plant Digimon being the first to acquire the Origin.” Atropomon explained.

“Step right up and claim your prize,” Beelzemon said in irritation, holding up a hand of gold Digits, which Plutomon gladly floated forwards to accept.

“Alright, alright. Whose next? This time I’m gonna get it! I know it!”

“Who do you have in mind?” Plutomon asked, counting his gold coins.

“That snarky little fox Digimon.”

Plutomon chuckled, “I doubt it.”

“Oh yeah? Well why don’t we make another wager? Double or nuthin’!”

“Very well. I can say with all certainty that one of the feline Digimon will inherit their Origins soon. More specifically, the little female.”

“It’s a bet!” Beelzemon shook Plutomon’s hand with a determined smirk.

“At this rate we’ll all be old and grey when they find them all!” Lilithmon threw her hands up and fell back into her throne.

“We cannot rush them. The victory will be all the more sweet with the anticip-” Atropomon began.

“Oh quit it! You’re starting to sound just like Kronosmon! And just where the hell did he disappear off to this time?”

“Didn’t say much to me,” Beelzemon shrugged his shoulders, ” ‘cept that he was working on a way to weaken them once they had all the Origins. And if they’re anything as strong as they were last time, we’ll need all the help we can get to defeat them this time!”

“There are those who would fight for our cause,” Plutomon explained.

“Only if they get something out of it.” Lilithmon added.

“Not destroying their homes and families would be a just reward for their continued loyalty.”

“I was never any good at keeping promises.”

“Hehe we know,” Beelzemon smiled. “You and Sala-”

“DON’T even go there!,” Lilithmon shot up from her seat, cutting off Beelzemon in mid-sentence. The other three Shadow Lords looked upon her, surprised by her reaction. She cleared her throat and sat back down, “That was a long time ago.”

There was a long silence in the room.

“..pation,” Atropomon concluded under her breath.

——————————————————

Drums sounded in the distance, getting louder as the group walked on. They were getting closer to the village.

“War drums?” Trask asked.

“No.” Maya replied, “Sounds Japanese. More on the musical side.”

As they reached the clearing they could make out the small, Asian styled buildings ahead of them. It was one of the more larger villages they had traveled to in the Digital World so far. Pillars of white smoke rose up from the chimneys of various buildings and cheering voices were heard amongst the drum beats.

“Sounds like a celebratory little town.” Griffmon said.

The group stopped at the edge of the clearing to catch their breath. Alex had suggested that the group stay and rest while he and Vulpemon headed into town to get food.

“I’ll contact you guys.”

He and Vulpemon made their way down the grassy slope towards the town. Maya kept a close eye on them as they became smaller and smaller. She had a clear view of not only the entire village town but also the wide open plain upon which it stood. The faint smell of salt swept across the land and Maya could make out the tiny gleams of sunshine glinting off the ocean in the far off distance.

A group of enormous clouds floated over the ocean, towards the right of Maya’s view. She expected the clouds to drift off and apart from one another, as clouds normally do, especially in the breeze. But the clouds just floated there, dipping and rising in the same place high above the ocean waves. She didn’t pay too much attention to it and returned her gaze towards the now tiny specs that were Alex and Vulpemon as they were within paces of the town.

——————————————————

Alex and Vulpemon reached the entrance to the village. A large, wooden sign stood overhead that read, ‘Kabuki Village’. From it hung a smaller banner with symbols on it. Alex recognized them as Japanese symbols, but could not read them.

As they lowered their gaze from the signs they witnessed the happenings of the town’s main street; there were street merchant Digimon paddling their wares all over, some Digimon Alex had recognized from other villages they had been to. There were Digimon selling pretty much every legal commodity in the Digital World from bread to lucky trinkets and charms, to potions and spells in bottles. None of them paid neither Alex nor Vulpemon any attention.

The sound of chanting was heard through the bustle, and Alex could make out the Digimon ahead moving out of the way for something. Vulpemon leapt up and onto her tamer’s shoulders to get a better view. The throng of Digimon parted to the sides as two familiar looking Digimon danced forwards. They had large, flowery heads and hands and wore traditional Japanese clothing.

“Kabukimon!” Alex recalled their encounter with the same Digimon in the real world.

The Kabukimon then parted, making room for the spectacle that everyone cheered at, a group of frog-like Digimon with tubas around their necks danced forth holding sticks with long paper foxes. They waved them in the air, the multicolored foxes twirled and flitted.

“Gekomon. Champion Digimon.” Alex quickly checked his D-Ark.

They were followed by a group of Digimon that looked like actual drums, with red scarves wrapped around what would be their foreheads. Their hands served as drumsticks, with which they pounded their heads.

“Dondokomon.” Alex said, surprised at the sight.

A group of four Gekomon ended the procession, each holding a longer stick, all of which supported a much larger, more detailed, purple paper fox creature. Alex’s eyes narrowed as he thought he remembered something familiar, like a feeling of deja vu, as he lay his eyes on the large paper creation.

“It…looks just like you, Vulpemon.” He said softly so that only his Digimon could hear.

Even Vulpemon was a little surprised at the scene. She stared at the purple fox kite as it danced mesmerizing in the air. The noises and commotion about her began to fade and she suddenly felt a dizziness that she couldn’t shake. She felt herself slipping.

Vulpemon slumped forwards. Alex felt her slide off his shoulders and caught her as she fell. “Vulpemon?” He gently shook her to stir her from unconsciousness.

——————————————————

Vulpemon slowly opened her eyes. Nothing but a yellow light surrounded her. She sat herself up and looked around, the yellow light was never-ending. She felt something touch her paw. Alarmed, she look down and barely caught a glimpse of it. Then a touch on her other arm. She turned her head to look. Nothing. Then felt something on her tail. At once Vulpemon leapt up, her paws glowing with pale blue flames.

A puff of purple smoke appeared. It was small, the size of Vulpemon’s paw. It wisped by her, forming a small fox shape, like the paper kites the Gekomon were parading. Then another little puff of smoke, and another. The little foxes glided and twirled about Vulpemon. She felt herself relax as their presence began to soothe her. Then she heard a soft voice speak, “Come find me, Vulpemon.” It sounded feminine. It seemed to come from every direction, there was no way of finding the source. Then it spoke again, “Find me. At the end of the village…” the voice trailed off. Vulpemon looked all round her. The little foxes dissipated, and she suddenly found herself staring at her own reflection. She took a deep breath and reached out towards herself. As her claw touched her reflection, the mirror too disappeared. She felt sleep overcome her once more, and slowly fell.

——————————————————

“Vulpemon.” A familiar voice. The voice she has loved and trusted all her life. She felt it pulling her out of the pit. Out of the dark. It became brighter around her and suddenly she was aware of her surroundings. She was laying down, but it wasn’t on solid ground, or a soft bed. It was in someones arms, she felt them shift beneath her, the heartbeat resonating through them. She knew whose arms they were, always gentle, protective and assuring.

“Wake up, Vulpemon.”

The fox Digimon slowly opened her eyes. She was greeted by a relieved gaze from Alex’s blue and green eyes. She smiled and nuzzled her head to his chest. Alex knew his Digimon wasn’t at all the cuddling kind like the others. Vulpemon was always an independant spirit, not needing of any physical contact for assurance. Typical strong and silent type, you would say. So it had concerned him a bit, but he didn’t think too much of it, instead he slowly rubbed his Digimon’s furry head.

When Vulpemon finally looked up, she realized that they were seated in a small house. There was shuffling of plates in the other room, followed by the whislting sound of a kettle. She looked around, the furniture was small, fitting for a Digimon her size, hardly for her tamer, who sat cross-legged on the rug on the floor.

“Do you remember what happened?” Alex asked softly.

Coming back to her dream, Vulpemon replied, “I have to find someone.”

“Who?”

Vulpemon looked down, “I don’t know.” After a moment, she continued, “but she’s in this village, somewhere.”

“She?” Alex raised his eyebrows. “How do you know this? Did you see something?”

The fox Digimon nodded, “A dream of sorts.” Vulpemon began to explain her dream to Alex, who listened and acknowledged.

A little Digimon then walked in from the other room, carrying a tray with a few cups on it, steaming from whatever it contained.

“I’ve contacted the others, they’re on their way. Oh, this is Poyrumon.” Alex pointed to the Digimon which placed the tray on the table where Alex and Vulpemon sat.

Poyrumon was about 4 feet tall, with a rotund appearance and a circular head. He wore a navy blue traditional men’s style kimono with waves of silver threads woven into it. He also had a peculiar shaped hat, which he never wore inside his home.

“Hello there.” Poyrumon’s voice was gentle. He sat the tray down on a nearby table before taking a seat across from Alex and Vulpemon. The fox Digimon nodded in greeting.

“How are you feeling?” Poyrumon asked.

“I’m fine. Thank you for your hospitality.” Vulpemon replied.

“Poyrumon, what’s the significance of the festival? It’s got something to do with foxes?” Alex asked.

Poyrumon nodded, “It’s called the Kuzuhamon festival.”

“Kuzuhamon?” Alex blinked. “Name sounds familiar.”

“Kuzuhamon is the patronness of all magic in the Digital World,” Poyrumon explained.  “The festival was created many years ago to honor Kuzuhamon and pray for her return.”

Alex and Vulpemon listened as Poyrumon sat on the mat across them, cleared his throat and began, “There is a performance, once every year during the festival, about the legend of Kuzuhamon. It is said that long, long ago, a fox Digimon traveled to the real world. There, she encountered some humans, who had caught and trapped her. But one human boy came along and fought the others. He managed to free her and watch her run away before being almost beaten to death. One night, many days later the boy lay in his bed, dying of his grave injuries. In his daze he heard a soft, sweet voice call to him. When he turned he saw a shadow beyond the screen door. A figure of a fox sitting outside. The boy smiled slightly. Then, all of a sudden the shadowy figure began to change. It became taller, and altogether lost it’s fox-ike appearnace until it seemed like the shadow of a woman. The boy tried to sit himself up, but could not. He coughed and layed back down. The screen door slowly slid open, and the womanly figure entered.”

Poyrumon paused before carrying on, “In the darkness the boy barely made out the woman’s appearance, she had long, silver hair that glistened in the moonlight and wore a headress that masked half of her face.‘You have saved me,’ the woman said softly.

‘Who are you?’ asked the boy. But she didn’t reply. Instead, she stepped towards the bed where the boy lay and knelt over him, planting a kiss on his head. The boy fell into a deep sleep and when he had awakened the next day, his wounds were all miraculously healed. He looked around his room, but the mysterious woman was nowhere to be found. The End.”

Poyrumon, Vulpemon and Alex sat in silence for a while.

“Well, the performance adds a little more to the story of course, to make it more interesting. There’s a great battle scene and everything.” Poyrumon added.

“So…” Vulpemon began. “..no one knows what Kuzuhamon looked like?”

“Not really. Like in the story, it’s said that she’s a beautiful Digimon with a bright purple mask in the shape of a fox-” Poyrumon, hearing the whistling from the kettle in the kitchen, hastily excused himself and left the room.

Vulpemon sipped at a cup of tea in silence for a moment, before whispering to Alex, “I think I’m Kuzuhamon.”

Alex choked a little bit on his tea as he took a sip and looked at her. She returned his glance, “I’m a purple fox Digimon. I could very well evolve into Kuzuhamon.”

Alex took a moment to clear his throat, “Well I guess it is possible. Anything’s possible around here.”

“We must go to the end of the village.”

“We will. As soon as the others arrive.”

Vulpemon suddenly felt a sense of urgency and stood up from her seat, “We must go now!”

“Uh. Okay then.” Alex pushed to his feet.

Poyrumon returned with a tray of steaming buns and noticed Vulpemon’s urgency, “Leaving so soon?”

“Thank you for everything, Poyrumon. But we must get going. It’s an emergency, I think.” Alex said.

“But what of your friends? Weren’t they on their way?”

“They are. But we can’t wait for them.”

“Well then. Um,” Poyrumon thought for a moment, “Send them here. Let them have something to eat before joining you.”

“Are you sure? There are quite a few of them.” Vulpemon said.

“Of course!”

——————————————————

The festival was still in full swing when Alex and Vulpemon navigated their way through the throngs of Digimon in the streets of the village, which was indeed larger than they had thought. They had stopped a few times to ask for directions, but alot of the Digimon they had encountered were foreign themselves and had no knowledge of the maze of streets.

As they came around the corner near the edge of one of the streets there were fewer Digimon. Alex found himself breathing heavily, as did his Digimon. They took a moment to catch their breath before continuing towards the end of the street. There were no Digimon to be found now. The remaining few they had seen were making their way back to the parade.

The street ahead came to an end, a cul-de-sac of buildings now surrounded them. Vulpemon was determined, but felt a little disappointment. Just then she caught sight of something move swiftly on the rooftop. It hopped from one rooftop to another. Vulpemon’s eyes followed it, that’s when she noticed a smally alley between two of the buildings. She ran towards it. Alex noticed and ran after her. The fox Digimon hurried, following the movement as it led her and her tamer through various narrow passage ways that finally led to the start of a small forest. The pair stopped as Vulpemon lost sight of the movement as it disappeared into the thicket.

Alex looked around, the buildings seemed to surround the small forest of tall trees, as if it was purposely built around it. As he was about to remark on their surroundings Alex saw Vulpemon dash into the forest without a word. He quickly followed.

At the center of the forest was a little clearing. Glowing orbs and symbols of Digi-code floated in the air. The ground was purple in color, the trees and leaves were light blue. Vulpemon caught sight of the moving creature once more, it jumped around the clearing before slowing down and coming to a stop right before them. It was a small, white, fox-like Digimon with a golden ring of Digi-code around it’s neck. It’s body trailed of into a long, whispy tail without hind legs. Upon it’s body were golden symbols, those resembling the tech of a circuit board.

“Kudamon.” Alex checked his device. As soon as he did, the little Digimon scurried off into the thicket once more. This time Vulpemon did not give chase. She knew this must have been the place. Whispers were heard all around and unexpectedly a Digimon stepped out from the thicket before them. A womanly figure with golden skin and long, jet black hair adorned with glittering cloth and golden beads. Her eyes were covered by the long bangs of her hair and beneath them the dark purple symbols that stretched all the way down to her chin. She held a long staff in her hand, the end of which held a glowing yellow orb that gave of soft light. A headress of sorts sat around her head, the centre of which had four large golden beads and a glittering purple amulet in the shape of a fox head.

Vulpemon stepped forward. “You’re the one who was in my dreams.”

“I am Cleomon.” the mysterious Digimon nodded.

——————————————————

“We really appreciate you accomodating us all, Poyrumon,” Viola sat down next to Phoebe and Heraldimon and began to sip a the cup of tea she had been offered. The rookies munched on the new batch of steamed buns gratefully, and so did the tamers.

“I don’t know what sort of hurry your friends were in. They didn’t even have a bun!” Poyrumon said.

“Did either of them mention where they were going?” Maya asked eagerly.

Poyrumon shook his head.

“You know, these fox kite things everyone’s waving around…They look familiar.” Max thought.

“Yea. They remind me of Vulpemon a bit.” Davis added.

After a moment of thought, Trask said, “Vulpemon. Do you guys think…”

“She’s the next one to find her Origin?” Phoebe continued.

A silence fell as the tamers glanced at eachother.

“So soon? We just found one like literally fourteen hours ago,” Davis said.

“I think finding them is the easy part. Unlocking them is another story.” Duke told him.

——————————————————

As Vulpemon felt the touch of Cleomon’s hand on her head she felt herself once again slip away. In the darkness of her mind she saw a bright yellow orb pulsate before her. She examined it and realized the pulsing mathced her heartbeat. It moved closer and closer until it was right in front of her. Vulpemon reached her paws out and touched the orb. In a flash of light she saw her paws were human like hands, all covered in a black meterial. A sudden calm overcame her. A feeling of completeness. She knew what she had to do.

To be continued…

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