Lost One - The Myotismon Freak. The night was cold. Star light washed pale over the landscape, causing it to appear with a white tinge. The moon shone brightly; it added to the gentle glow of midnight. Through it all, a wild wind screamed along its untamed path. Beneath it would rise one previously unknown of; and seven would make an enticing discovery that played against them in the end. One would realize meaning to what would happen, while others would play their parts, however small they might seem. But now, it was silent. The ordeal had not yet begun. It soon would. The girl, tall and somewhat lanky, stood on a lonely knoll outside of the city. Her rippling arm muscles, developed for sword-fighting, were covered by a shimmering black long-sleeved shirt. It was the same color as her Crest . . . Almost absentmindedly fingering the silver pommel of her sword, her thoughts turned towards her present position. Her Lord was beginning a siege. The Digidestined were on his trail. The Digidestined. She had once been told-by an old man named Gennai-that she was a half-Digidestined, half because she had no Digimon. It seemed odd. But then again, she was not normal. She turned around, gently moving the waist-length golden ponytail that fell across her back. Her blue-green eyes scanned the landscape for any sign of life, other than herself. And then, she saw him. Damhriis. Tai Kamiya lazily flopped out of his bed, landing on the floor with a dull thud. It seemed too early to wake up, even though the sun was already brightly shining. The reason was because he had spent most of the night in an attempt to chase down their enemy, Myotismon, as well as search for the infamous eighth child. So far, they hadn't been successful. It seemed that Myotismon always put the slip on them, vanishing into the shadows without a trace. It was nearly impossible to track him. Finally picking himself up after laying on the floor for a few moments, Tai stumbled into the living room, where Kari was watching TV with their father. Their swords made contact with each other with a reverberating, metallic crash. Shadowsoul gritted her teeth as she pushed her dark crystal sword against that of Damhriis. Pulling it back, she brought it back down again a split second later, only to have Damhriis block the blow. She drew back again, then turned a somersault in the air over her opponent, blocking his onslaught as she did so. Just before she landed, Damhriis leapt silently forwards, so that she would have her back to him when she landed. The girl did not anticipate this. She hit the ground, keeping her balance, and spun around just in time to see Damhriis's sword two inches from her throat. "You did well," he said, pulling the sword away. "But you need to learn to be able to change direction just before landing." Shadowsoul nodded her head, causing her ponytail to bob slightly. Narrowing his glowing crimson optics as he turned away, Damhriis looked in the direction of the city. "I believe . . . that Tlaernskuha wants you." He then vanished into thin air. She didn't know how he did it; she merely accepted it, knowing that she couldn't do it if she wanted to. But she did know how to vanish into the shadows. That Tlaernskuha had taught her; he knew that it would be useful many, many times. He himself used it often. She started off in the direction of the city. Her Lord would be waiting. "No! Mother! Father!" The teary-eyed girl screamed at the two fighting creatures before her-something that looked like a Tyrannosaurus Rex wearing a brown helmet going up against a giant green canary. "No. It can not be. No . . ." Her voice trailed off, and the tears kept streaming down her face. "Do not cry, child." She started at the voice behind her. Turning around, she saw . . . an odd creature. But . . . It was someone . . . called Damhriis . . . "Why not? They were my parents . . ." The Velociraptor shifted to one side. "I . . . stand corrected. You have every reason to cry. But you know that they shall never leave you, not really. They will live on in your memories." The girl flicked a tear from the corner of her eye, although she was still crying. Then . . . "Who . . . who are you?" "I am called Damhriis by some. Who are you?" The girl drew herself up, to her full height, and said, "My name is Shadowsoul." Shadowsoul . . . She walked silently into her lord's lair. "I have been . . . waiting." He stepped silently from the shadows, causing the three stray bangs of his hair to gently flutter. "As was I." Pausing for a moment, the girl stared blankly at the far wall, her mind filled with thoughts of the past. Like the first encounter . . . She snapped from them quite suddenly, stepping towards her lord with extreme grace and silence. The sword hanging from her belt moved a bit with each step. She gave a short bow, saying, "The Digidestined are closing in, my lord." But you shall not have to worry about them defeating you, she silently added. And I will make sure of that. The pendant hanging at her throat glowed gently . . . Shadowsoul walked silently along, occasionally stopping when she thought she heard a sound. Damhriis had taught her to always be on her guard . . . There it was again. She was not afraid; rather, she was prepared. Suddenly, a tall figure stepped almost unnoticeably from the shadows before her. They were tall, pale, and slender, with piercing dark blue eyes and blond hair. A dark cape flowed behind them, and a red mask covered their face. They were also quite handsome; the thirteen year old girl could not (would not?) deny that. She didn't move an inch, standing silently, and looking him over. She then made a somewhat bold, on her part, move. "I know who you are," she said, somewhat slowly, "and also what. I personally don't mind what choice you make, if you decide to . . ."-she paused-"attack, or if you choose to leave. The decision is yours; I will accept either one. But if you choose to attack, I just want to survive." The vampire Digimon before her smiled, inadvertently baring his fangs. "And how did you know that?" The girl said one word in reply: "Damhriis." Damhriis . . . Matt stuck his hands into his pockets as he walked along. The search for the eighth child was on. Myotismon had a head start-so they had a lot of catching up to do. Stopping almost abruptly, he again looked down at his Digivice. There was no reaction. That meant that the eighth child was still somewhere out there. He sighed. Gaubumon, who had just caught up to him, did, too. "Is there something wrong, Matt?" the furred Digimon asked of his Digidestined partner. Matt looked down at his Digimon partner. "No, Gaubumon. I'm just a bit tired. After last night's little escapade . . ." His voice trailed off. He was really worn out; he had spent pretty much all of the previous night chasing the eighth child around town. He had run into Myotismon, and barely made it back in one piece. Gaubumon had Digivolved first into Garurumon, then WereGarurumon, and almost left in pieces. If they hadn't retreated at the last moment . . . He sighed again. It wasn't cowardice that caused him to run; it was the questioning thought of Who will protect T.K. if I don't make it back? But . . . Something strange had also happened the previous night. Right after he had just turned to run, Matt thought he saw a person watching from the shadows. Koushirou "Izzy" Izumi was typing away on his laptop, as usual, when something appeared on the screen. Gennai had e-mailed him again. Opening it, Izzy was surprised at the message it held. "I have some vital news for you, Izzy," it said. "It seems that, in order for you to find the eighth Digidestined, there is someone else you must find first." "Who? Who?" Izzy asked the monitor. "You must search for and find the Lost One, the half-Digidestined, the one of the Darkness. They are important for your search." "How are they a half-Digidestined?" "Because they have a crest and no Digimon." Izzy let this sink in. "But . . . how is that possible?" "I don't know, I just know that they alone . . . stand in your way. You won't be able to defeat Myotismon if they're not on your team." Sora sighed, putting her hands on her hips. Meetings always did start out chaotic. After a few moments, everybody settled down, and she spoke. "Okay, we didn't just call this meeting for fun. Something serious has come up," she said. "Something really serious." "What is it?" Joe. "For one thing, you know how we keep seeing less and less of Myotismon?" "I didn't think that was bad." "According to Gennai, it is. He says that, in order for there to be life, there must be a balance between the Light and the Darkness. Myotismon is an invaluable part of the Darkness; if he's gone, then it will upset the balance." "But isn't it already pretty out of whack? I mean, Myotismon's been trying to take over, now hasn't he? That's affected the Light a lot, if you ask me." Tai. "Yes, it has. Still, Gennai says that, if Myotismon disappears completely, it will upset the balance beyond saving." "It's pretty serious then," Matt said. Gaubumon nodded his horned head. Sora sighed, and turned to look out the window. "Somewhere, out there, is the one that it all relies on, right now . . ." The girl stopped quite suddenly, laying her hand on the pommel of her sword. She turned, thinking she heard a voice behind her, whispering something in her ear: Never forsake your truths, Though they be swathed in Fear . . . Upon seeing no one, she turned back around, continuing her search. Never turn the dark path into evil . . . And suddenly, her Tag began to glow darkly. It meant that her Crest was near . . . And never forget your Honor, my dear Shadowsoul, never lose it . . . Suddenly, something leaped out of the shadows before her . . . . . . Vipremon . . . It hissed, flaring its cobra-like hood. On it were two markings that resembled large white eyes, glaring silently at all things behind it. "Welcome, half-Digidesssstined," Vipremon said, rearing his head back. "I sssee that you are ssssearching for your Cressst." Shadowsoul drew her sword. "Now, now, we have no need for ssssword play." His hissed words echoed softly in the small canyon. He slithered closer to her, wrapping loosely and then uncurling himself from around her legs. Her grip on the dark crystal sword tightened. Vipremon reared his head back slightly. "Now, now, Shadowssssoul, sheath your sssword. I am not here to harm you . . ." He paused . . . "YET!" He struck forward, jaws opened wide and unhinged to bare hollow five-inch, venom-filled fangs. His hood was flared even wider than before, and the white eye-like markings had changed to a blood red, as they always did when Vipremon struck. Shadowsoul barely dodged, stepping away just as the cobra-like Digimon went shooting past. Instantly, it drew back, preparing for another strike. She was ready this time. Shadowsoul waited . . . waited . . . And Vipremon struck again. Bringing her sword down with a fluid stroke, the half-Digidestined lopped off half of the Ultimate-form serpent's tail. Vipremon gave a shrill, piercing shriek-something Shadowsoul didn't know the viper was capable of-and retreated to the dark crevices of the miniature canyon, leaving a trail of thick ooze-like blood as the only clue to his location. Shadowsoul looked down at the earth, stained by the dark green blood of Vipremon. The half of a tail was still wriggling fitfully, as though wondering in anger where its owner was. After a few moments, it gave a last, dying jerk, and finally lay still. The Digimon was gone. He had tormented her so many times before, sometimes fighting on her side. He would fight for against her as he pleased, sometimes switching sides in a battle on mere whim. He was a wildcard, one not to be trusted. As if I would ever trust any one other than Damhriis, she thought, gently nudging the now motionless brown tail segment with a shiny black boot. She then turned and walked off. Little did she know, Vipremon was watching from the shadows with a hateful glaze over his glowing yellow-green eyes. Matt was breathless as he came running up. "Tai-I have-something to-tell you . ." he managed to pant, leaning forward. Tai gave him a few moments, and he started talking again. "Tai-Myotismon-he's gone.-Dis-appeared. Gaubumon-and I-we were after him-last night-and he just-just-" "Just what?" "Just-vanished.-Just melted-right into-shadows-" Matt fell silent, nearly falling over as well. Tai let this sink in. You better hope for all the world that he isn't dead. Not if you want to live yourself, Taichi Kamiya, he thought, looking down at the stooped over form of Matt. You better pray that he's still living. You better. The darkened surface of the lake began to shimmer, further distorting the reflections cast against it. Shadowsoul could only watch on in wonder as one supposed reflection began to rise off of the water, glowing softly, and with a dark light. For a moment, it burned too bright to look at; but it then shrunk, fitting itself into her Tag. The Crest of Honor. A familiar-sounding voice echoed as a whisper on the wind . . . For a moment, the shimmering black sheath hanging from her belt began to glow brightly at the top; when it stopped, a golden design-the same one that was on her Crest-was emblazoned their. There was also a golden, circular belt buckle with the same pattern on it on the middle of her belt. She turned around, looking over her shoulder. She thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of a shadowy figure . . . . . . Damhriis. Her Damhriis. Shadowsoul sat in a dark corner, her knees pulled up to her chin. Where had her Lord gone? He had vanished, melting into the shadows and not returning . . . She stretched out her long legs, then stood up. Fingering her pommel of her sword, she whispered, "I will find you, my lord, find and never desert you." On my Honor, I will make sure that you do not die! she silently vowed. Her pendant began to glow again. Tai looked down at his partner, Izzy. He was holding his Digivice, occasionally looking down at its screen, even though he knew it wouldn't help find Myotismon. He was searching for the eighth child. They had all split into groups-Joe, Matt, and T.K. were in one group, Tai and Izzy in another, and Sora and Mimi in the last. It was a desperate attempt to cover more ground, searching for their enemy before the balance between Light and Darkness was warped beyond saving. It all seemed strange. To look for your enemy? It wasn't something you did every day. But they couldn't help it. Izzy had just received another e-mail from Gennai telling them that they would have to find Myotismon, and fast. One, odd phrase kept ringing throughout Tai's head, no matter what he did to try and get it out, though: Sometimes, in order to triumph, you must make your enemy your friend. For once, Shadowsoul was a bit tentative as she stepped into the darkness. She thought it would be a perfect hiding place for her lord . . . She was silent as she walked the darkened corridors. There were no lights; the only beacon to guide her was the silent glowing of her Crest and the fact that she had adapted to living in darkness. Her dark green eyes, ringed with midnight blue, searched every nook and cranny in desperation. He wasn't here. She continued walking, occasionally thinking she heard something. But there didn't seem to be anything here. Shadowsoul stopped, spinning quickly around. She thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of an impenetrable pool of black in the darkness, a shadow's shadow at midnight of the new moon. But it was gone before she could even justify its presence. She turned back around, continuing to walk silently down the hall. There was absolute silence, broken only when she mis-stepped, causing her footfall to be heard. Any other person would have run away, clutching at their head, because of the increasing tenseness of the situation; but Shadowsoul, bound to an oath taken on her Honor, would not turn away. There it was again. She spun on her booted heel, this time catching a longer glimpse of a pitch-black shadow. She drew her sword . . . And suddenly, there was a hideous face in front of her own: it resembled that of a cobra's, if it were covered in patches of silver and black metal. One fang was dark, the other normal-colored; the forked tongue was a dark, deep blood red. The yellow-green eyes glowed menacingly, illuminating a patch of metal surrounding the left eye. Shadowsoul almost screamed. Matt looked away over the landscape surrounding the city. It seemed as though someone was in great need, far away, out there . . . He stood tall and proud, surrounded by the Darkness in which he throve. His dark blue eyes were shut in thought, contemplating if what he had done was right. He had run. Turned tail and fled to the Darkness. He needed to be alone . . . But what he was doubting was Shadowsoul. Shouldn't he have brought her along? Something inside of him said that they would meet shortly. And that was when he sensed the cry for help. She sliced at the huge viper with her sword, landing a blow and cutting a large gash down its side. It shrieked. The sound seemed familiar . . . Bringing her sword down with a fluid stroke, the half-Digidestined lopped off half of the Ultimate-form serpent's tail. Vipremon gave a shrill, piercing shriek-something Shadowsoul didn't know the viper was capable of-and retreated to the dark crevices of the miniature canyon, leaving behind a trail of thick, ooze-like blood as the only clue to his location. Suddenly, there was another presence in the corridor. "Nightmare Claw!" He looked down at the now thirteen year old girl before him. She didn't tremble in his presence; as a matter of fact, she didn't show any signs of fear. "She is . . . brave," he said, looking up at Damhriis. The Velociraptor nodded his head. "I have trained her for sword fighting; she has never lost a battle. I also took care of her. But I must return now. I ask of you, Tlaernskuha, to protect this human until she needs someone no more." Shadowsoul looked them in the eyes, first Damhriis, then the one almost unknown to her. "Damhriis . . . It is not that I need someone. Yes, humans are very social creatures, and we can not live by ourselves forever, but I can take care of myself." She turned to this "Tlaernskuha." "I sense that it is not I that needs you . . . . But you that needs I." He was taken aback. How could that be possible? He didn't need anyone to rely on . . . But later, he, Myotismon, would discover that he did. Matt turned away from the window out of which he was staring. The sensation that somebody needed help was still there . . . "What's wrong, Matt?" Gaubumon asked, taking notice of his friend's strange silence. Matt sighed, turning away. After a few moments, he looked at Gaubumon again, replying, "I don't know, Gaubumon. It just seems like someone, way out there"-he made a sweeping motion towards the window with his arm-"is calling for help." Gaubumon looked up at the human boy. "Then why don't we go answer it?" They both dashed out the door. The creature made an attempt at avoiding the sudden onslaught, in his newly-found confusion getting hit square in the head. He shrieked, and convulsed, but was still able to fight. "Cyber Acid Spray!" The Child of the Shadow stopped the attack cold. "Crimson Lightning!" The cyber Digimon gave a painful hiss as he was hit, over and over, by Myotismon's Crimson Lightning. But he broke away, flaring his cobra-like hood. And suddenly, there was yet another presence; one that seemed determined and confused all at the same time. "Howling Blaster!" It had virtually no effect on the cyber viper. The Digidestined turned towards his wolf-like Digimon. "It's Digivolving time, Garurumon!" "Garurumon Digivolved to . . ." The wolf reared back on his hind legs as ragged and torn blue jeans materialized on his furred legs. A belt slapped diagonally across his chest, causing the dog tags hanging at his throat to slightly jingle. Fingerless gloves appeared on his hands, and a full moon rose behind him. "WereGarurumon!" He howled, and charged. "Wolf Claw!" "Nightmare Claw!" Both attacks were directed at the same target, the cyber viper Digimon. Shadowsoul jumped into the battle as well, slicing a long, deep gash into the neck of the serpent when the attacks made contact. CyberVipremon shrieked once again, vowing with a hateful hiss, "I will dessstroy you one day, Shadowsssoul, dessstroy you for what you did to me!" And then, he was gone, vanished into the gloom. For the first time, Matt noticed who he was fighting alongside. He could barely make out Myotismon's form in the darkness. "You," he said in a low voice dripping with hatred. Myotismon turned his back on the Digidestined and put a gloved hand on Shadowsoul's shoulder, leading her away. She didn't once turn back to gaze at the Digidestined. Matt just stared at the darkness as the mysterious girl, previously unbeknownst to him, walked off with Myotismon, his enemy, the dark lord of Server. He couldn't bear the thought of such a beautiful girl working for the enemy. Now somewhat dejected, he and Tsunomon walked home. He walked somewhat slowly through the darkness, occasionally stopping as he became even more deeply engrossed in thought. He soon began walking again, though, not really pacing through the shadow; but he lingered in one spot. On the floor, Shadowsoul lay curled up in a corner. Her head rested on her hands, causing her ponytail to scatter over her shoulder. Her sword was still at her side; she almost never took it off. He knelt, coming to the floor on one knee, causing his dark cloak to fall over her. He gently kissed the sleeping girl on the forehead, then pushed a stray lock of shimmering golden hair behind her ear. The girl . . . She didn't seem like any other human. She had always seemed wise beyond her years; sometimes, it was as though she was as old as time itself. But she wasn't. Or was she? He stood up again, roaming through the shadow once more. A look of concern was still glued on Tai's face as his younger sister walked into the room. "What's wrong, Tai?" Her innocent question only deepened his train of thought. It also broke his concentration, after about five minutes. "Huh? Oh, nothing, Kari." He looked back at the floor again, running over the current situation again and again in his head. If Gennai was right-and he usually was, any of the Digidestined would admit that-then they had to get their rears in gear and find Myotismon before time ran out. If they didn't find him-then, according to Gennai, the Harmony would shatter, and life as they knew it would cease to exist. It all seemed a little too much sometimes. Who would've thought that the disappearance of the enemy would bring so much trouble? No one. That was the problem. You would think that, if your enemy disappeared, then it would be time to celebrate. That was where they were all wrong. Shadowsoul deftly swung her sword in a figure eight. Someone had challenged her. DarkTrysmon. He vaguely resembled a human . . . if you interbred one with a shark and gave the result a barbed tail and a sword. DarkTrysmon, too, swung his sword in a figure eight. He led the attack. He charged at Shadowsoul, swinging his sword down with great might. The half-Digidestined brought her own up, blocking it, and kicked the shark-human in what it had for a stomach during their momentary stalemate. DarkTrysmon fell back, clutching at his abdomen, but soon began his onslaught once again. "You are no match for me!" he cried as he swung once, swung twice, swung thrice at Shadowsoul, each time having his sword blocked by a cool and calculating opponent. Suddenly, he backed up, sheathing his sword. But something was not right . . . Shadowsoul stepped back, not wanting to see what would happen. But she could not run. He challenged her to a duel, and it was against her Honor to stop battling unless someone intervened. Damhriis had taught her that. And then, DarkTrysmon was upon her, sword drawn, the blade gleaming in the pale light . . . "Howling Blaster!" The attack had virtually no effect on the Ultimate-form vampire. "Crimson Lightning!" Garurumon was down. "Garurumon!" Matt's fists were clenched tight as his Crest began to silently glow. "Garurumon Digivolved to . . ." The wolf reared on his hind legs, not seeming to notice as a belt slapped diagonally across his chest and ragged blue jeans materialized on his legs. His claw-tipped fingers jutted roughly from the ends of the newly appeared gloves on his hands, ones that stopped at the knuckles. The dog tags hanging from his neck jingled slightly as he threw back his head in a wild howl. "WereGarurumon!" "Wolf Claw!" There was more effect this time-the dark lord of Server was driven back into a wall. WereGarurumon looked in to investigate, and . . . "Crimson Lightning!" He was sent reeling backward with the force of Myotismon's blow, causing him to land on his back. Myotismon repeatedly lashed at him, landing numerous painful blows on the werewolf Digimon. Matt ran out in front of him, throwing himself in the way . . . and just barely being missed by Crimson Lightning. "Come on, WereGarurumon!" he shouted. "It's time for us to go!" The haunting thought of "Who will protect T.K. if I don't make it back?" played constantly on his mind . . . The werewolf rolled to one side, dodging Myotismon's attacks, and took off running with Matt on his shoulder. As they retreated, Matt thought he saw someone watching from the shadows . . . Tai's fist came down on the table with a loud bang, followed by a muffled yelp of pain. "This is getting serious," he said to the other Digidestined and their Digimon in the room. They all-silently-agreed. "We need to pick up the pace. According to what Gennai has told us, there's not much time left. We have a few days until everything is broken beyond repair." Silence. "That is our signal to get moving even faster. "We'll split up. Me, Izzy, and Joe are in one group, Sora and Mimi in another, and T.K. and Matt in the last. Each group will take a different route." He looked out the window. "Let's just hope this works." The shadowy form moved gracefully through the night, silently trailing the Digidestined. ~Why must they attempt to defeat the Darkness?~ A silent question echoed as a whisper on the wind . . . Tai suddenly stopped, shuddering. "Did you hear that?" he asked, turning around. Everybody shook their heads. He, in turn, shook his, and began to walk on. It was less than five minutes later that he stopped again. "Um, guys?" "What?" "I think I just felt something clutching at my shoulders." Matt rolled his eyes. "Tai, your mind is playing tricks on you. Keep walking." Tai shrugged, and began to lead once again. The next time he halted, he didn't turn around. "Umm . . . I think everybody should come here right now." They all did, crowding around him and seeing nothing. "Well?" Matt asked irritably. "What is it that you want us to see?" Tai shook his head. "It's not there," he said. "Look over there." He pointed in the named direction. And they all saw a shadowy form blocking their path. Shadowsoul quickly drew her sword, glancing DarkTrysmon's off her own in near panic. It still managed to slide down, ever so slightly, cutting a deep gash in her shoulder. She fell back, clutching at the wound, her sword in her left hand. DarkTrysmon wasn't about to give up. He charged again, taking advantage of the wound he had inflicted on his opponent. His blazing red eyes glowed brighter than ever for one instant . . . . . . But their expression soon changed to one of shock as a deep slash was cut across his chest. Sora and Mimi walked along, Sora looking at her Digivice and Mimi looking at nothing in particular. As soon as their meeting had broken up the previous night, everyone had started looking even harder than ever. So far, they hadn't gotten any farther than before. Mimi sighed, stopping abruptly. Palmon did, too. "What's the matter, Mimi?" The Digimon's query fell upon deaf ears. The Digidestined looked up, seeming to stare at something far in the distance. Somewhere out there . . . Somewhere out there was a lost one, a soul wandering lonely throughout the world. Mimi never thought the lost one was a Child of the Shadow. He was slowly dying. It was beginning to show. He hardly ever roamed anymore. He was too weak. And he was more slim, now, though he had always been slender. He mostly stayed alone, off by himself in one corner. He didn't want to face her. . But she soon found him. "My lord, what is wrong?" He didn't want to answer. But he did. "Shadowsoul . . . I am dying." She was shocked. Her lord . . . she couldn't let him die. No. The Balance between Light and Darkness would be forever upset if he did . . . She bowed, regaining her composure. "You have me, my lord." "Who . . . who are you?" The shadowy form did not answer. Dead silence sung through their midst, nobody stirring, nobody making a sound. But silence was meant to be broken. ~Digidestined.~ They all heard the word, but at the same time, they had not. It rung throughout their thoughts, drawing everybody's attention to it. ~Digidestined. I will not allow you to pass. The Darkness will ever remain.~ "Huh?" Tai blinked dazedly, as though in a trance. Matt seemed captivated. It was Izzy who first spoke. "Who are you, and what do you mean? We were chosen to fight evil. And all that is dark is evil." The shadowy form disappeared for a moment, reappearing behind the Digidestined boy with what it had for fingers clutching his shoulders. ~I am the Guardian of Darkness, Digidestined. In that way do I help maintain the Harmony. And no, not all that is dark is evil. Only those that choose to split from philosophical good are considered evil.~ Brief silence once again. ~Even those of Light can choose to forsake those of which they once were comrades.~ Izzy now lapsed into the silence. "Then why were we told that Darkness is evil? Could an angel be of Darkness and still be good?" T.K. Patamon, perched on his hat, fluttered his wings thoughtfully. ~Yes. As I said before, not all that is Dark is evil; and not all that is Light is good. You, Digidestined, are a true Creature of the Light. You can never fully become a Creature of the Darkness, of the Shadowed Light; destiny has many paths, but the path of the Light will never turn from the Light, while the path of the Darkness will never split from the Darkness. But not all is a path. There are times in life when one comes to an open field; from many directions to choose, there will always be one that will help you in the end.~ This caused every single Digidestined to fall quiet. Suddenly, Tai perked up. "It's our destiny to fight the Darkness, so we're going to. It's Digivolving time, Agumon!" The orange dinosaur-like Digimon nodded his head. "Agumon Digivolved to . . . GREYMON!" The others followed. "Gaubumon Digivolved to . . . GARURUMON!" "Biyomon Digivolved to . . . BIRDRAMON!" "Tentomon Digivolved to . . . KABUTERRIMON!" "Palmon Digivolved to . . . TOGEMON!" "Gomamon Digivolved to . . . IKKAKUMON!" "Patamon Digivolved to . . . Angelmon!" And the seven Champion-form Digimon attacked . . . He gently laid Shadowsoul down where she had been sleeping the night before, kissing her softly on the forehead. "My dear Shadowsoul . . . How I wish it had never come to this . . ." he said softly kneeling. There truly were pangs of sorrow hidden behind his piercing dark blue eyes. Shadowsoul . . . she was truly selfless. She was willing to give herself that he-godforsaken creature that he was-to live. Sometimes, he thought it would be better if he just died and ended the pain brought by his mere existence . . . He kissed her again, showing his parental-like affection for the human youth, and then stood up and left. . . . The dark Crest started to glow, enveloping its bearer in a shimmering black light . . . DarkTrysmon fell back, his sword abruptly clattering to the ground as he clutched at the recently opened wound across his chest. Slowly falling to his knees, he began to speak. "It seems that . . . you have won, Digidestined." The last words of the shark-human were spoken softly but admittedly, with a strange smile passing over the Digimon's gray lips. Bringing one hand away from his chest, he saluted the half-Digidestined, the Lost One . . . . . . And he fell completely to the ground. Suddenly, Shadowsoul felt a clawed hand on her shoulder. Turning around, she saw Damhriis. "He is dead, my Shadowsoul. He died a warrior's death." The shark-human's burial was befitting of a warrior . . . It was a rare instance in which he dared to venture into the city. It seemed as though it had been forever since he had been there, searching for the eighth Digidestined child, but it had been, in truth, only three nights. There was one thought that would not leave his mind throughout all his roaming through the shadow: Shadowsoul. She had been willing to give herself in order for he to live. And he, dying though he was, had at first refused. But when he almost died, he relented. How could he? He had promised-had vowed to-Damhriis that he would take good care of the girl. And he had been, until now . . . And suddenly . . . "We have to settle this once and for all, Myotismon." "Garurumon Digivolved to . . ." The wolf-Digimon reared onto his striped hind legs, seeming to take no notice as fingerless gloves appeared on his hands and ripped and torn blue jeans materialized on his legs. As a belt slapped diagonally across his chest, he brought his hands together in a wild howl of pure energy. "WereGarurumon!" The werewolf charged Myotismon, who had apparently been taken off guard. "Wolf Claw!" Myotismon barely had time to react. "Nightmare Claw!" The two onslaughts hit head on, exploding in a flash of dark light. Black "sparks" rained down in a hail of energy. "Garuru Kick!" The vampire lord stepped lightly to one side, letting WereGarurumon's attack burn a whole into the wall of which it collided with. Matt, who had been searching for the eighth child and found Myotismon, had momentarily forgotten who else they had been searching for . . . She could feel someone gently shaking her out of her sleep. Slowly opening her heavy eyelids, she could just make out the image of the Digidestined leader. "Come on, we have to get you out of here," he was saying, the orange and blue-striped dinosaur at his side looking on. Pulling herself into an upright position, she couldn't remember anything . . . Anything but the last sensations of pain digging into her neck before she had drifted into unconsciousness. "But . . . Lord Myotismon . . . Tlaernskuha . . ." Her words were barely a whisper. The Digidestined-if he heard them-ignored them. "Come on, you have to get out before Myotismon returns." He helped her up, her head throbbing, and then pulled her up onto Greymon's back after him. And the dinosaur-like Digimon began running back to the Kamiya home . . . "So now what are we supposed to do, Tai?" The meeting had started out chaotic, but had been silenced in an instant when Shadowsoul finally-briefly-showed herself. Less than an instant later, she had disappeared back into the shadow. "Look, I don't know, but I wouldn't have brought her if I didn't have to. Gennai said we needed to find the half-Digidestined of Darkness if we wanted to find the eighth child, right? Well, here she is." "How do you know that she's the Lost One?" As Shadowsoul stepped back into the Light, Tai pointed at her Crest. "That proves it. She has a Crest and no Digimon. That's basis to believe that she's the Lost One." Matt turned towards the corner where Shadowsoul stood. "Whatever." Matt watched Sora playing a friendly game of soccer as he walked slowly alongside the field. Suddenly, he stopped, seeing Shadowsoul. It must've been Sora's turn to watch her, he thought, walking up. Shadowsoul was, of all things, doing gymnastics. She would start out with a back handspring, followed by another one, and ended by a well-rounded back flip. Then she would walk back to where she had started, and do it again. After about five minutes of watching this, Matt finally spoke. "Well . . . um . . . It's a nice day today." Shadowsoul acknowledged this with a quick nod. The Digidestined cleared his throat. Drawing upon his inner reservoir of courage, he spoke again. "You're a good gymnast. When did you learn?" Shadowsoul stopped for a moment. "Mr. and Mrs. Toshiru always told me I was a good gymnast. I was enrolled in classes while I lived with them." "Ah. Mr. and Mrs. Toshiru-were they your parents?" "My adopted parents." "Who were your real parents?" There was a brief silence on Shadowsoul's part. "I do not know." She began to turn back handsprings again, leaving Matt in an empty silence. Born of Darkness, Raised of Light, Upon herself the Shadow's plight, The Child of the Shadow, Creature of the Night, The Guardian of the Darkness from the Light . . . "Dransaehur!" She was gone. It couldn't be. "Praes kaa. Puhrt raenshaa skut'taern traas." Fear not. I will protect you . . . He had promised Damhriis to watch over her until she needed someone no more. But she was gone. The Shadows rise; the Darkness calls. The sword unsheathed, she shall not fall- The crystal blade, both long and tall, Assures that death will not befall. She sat silently off to one side as Matt flicked through every TV station imaginable in response to a male calling . . . channel surfing. "There's nothing good on tonight," Matt complained to Gaubumon, still flicking through channels. "It's like they rooted through the Dumpster for tonight's shows." A small grin almost crept across her face as Matt continued "surfing." After about ten more minutes of this, the Digidestined finally turned the TV off. Turning towards Shadowsoul-it was his turn to watch her-he said, "So . . . what do you want to do?" No answer. The blond-haired boy shifted in his seat, so that he was facing the half-Digidestined. "I think we got off on the wrong foot . . . you know, you working for Myotismon and all. Why don't we start over?" It was a feeble attempt to start a conversation. It apparently worked. Staring off in another direction, Shadowsoul-for once-spoke. "My name is Shadowsoul, Shadowsoul Toshiru. At least, it was Shadowsoul Toshiru." "And why is that?" Brief silence. "Because Mr. and Mrs. Toshiru died about four years ago." "How . . . how did they die?" "They were killed at Heighton View Terrace." "Oh." Shadowsoul turned to face the Digidestined. "So . . . when and why did you start working for Myotismon?" "I . . . ran into him one night, not too long back." And I am now in his care, she added silently. Matt turned away for a moment, thinking, Her past is really sad, I think . . . But she doesn't seem to need anybody. He looked at her again. "So . . . where did you learn to use a sword like that? I saw you up against CyberVipremon." "I . . . do not wish to say as of now. It brings back . . . memories." DarkTrysmon fell back, his sword abruptly clattering to the ground as he clutched at the recently opened wound across his chest. Slowly falling to his knees, he began to speak. "It seems that . . . you have won, Digidestined." The last words of the shark-human were spoken softly but admittedly, with a strange smile passing over the Digimon's gray lips. Bringing one hand away from his chest, he saluted the half-Digidestined, the Lost One . . . . . . And he fell completely to the ground. The once-conversation now lapsed into silence as Shadowsoul turned away and began staring off into space once more. They had taken her, the only being that kept his soul from plummeting into true and eternal Darkness. And he was supposed to protect her. But how can one that harms another protect that other? I do not know . . . You betrayed your word. You vowed to defend her, and what did you do? You, yourself, inflicted upon her wounds. She chose to! She gave herself to save me! It was her decision! But you went against your word, and you can never deny that. Against his word . . . Shadow's fury, Darkness' rage, Light's avengeance, Night's rampage . . . Shadows swathed the world in darkness as an attempt for escape was made. I cannot escape this prison . . . Amidst them stood the most powerful of their own, the immortal Guardian of Darkness . . . Nothing is here but my within . . . She stalked silently away from the Digidestined, away from the Light . . . None are here to guide me . . . He was standing before her. I am the one who has sinned. Tai hit the floor with a thud as his Digimon pushed him out of bed. "Huh? What? What's going on here? Why'd you do that, Agumon?" The orange dinosaur-looking creature ran in front of him, giving his arms a frantic wave every now and then. "Shadowsoul's gone, Tai! She ran!" "What?" Tai shot up like a rocket. "She's gone?" "Yes! I had just woken up when I saw her creep out the door! Except . . ." "Except what?" Tai's whispered words were almost louder than they should have been. "Except . . . Well, Tai, what I saw was a living shadow." "A what?" The silence presses in; My throbbing heart can be heard. This never can be escaped. How did this fate I deserve? A living shadow silently rejoiced. She had found him, the One of Darkness, of Shadow, the one among whom she was to protect. He was standing before her, his back turned, staring silently out over the sleeping city below. The sleeping city where he thought Ke Dransaehur lay captured. She walked silently up to him-of course in human form-and tapped him lightly on the shoulder. And, unbeknownst to them both, an ice-blue- and blood-red-eyed dragon-vampire watched from a distance. The Dark One. Final battles always were rough . . . Especially DarkTrysmon's. She couldn't forget that one. The shark-humans burial was befitting of a warrior . . . But . . . The Dark One's last battle with insanity . . . Had been unsuccessful. She would not have to wage that war. Her mind was cool and calculating, just the opposite of the Dark One's. The Dark One was a hothead in combat, snapping and slicing viciously at anything that moved. When she began to fight, she lost her conscious mind and let instinct take over. That was something she-Ke Dransaehur-had been taught not to do. And yet, looking out at the stars which glittered so icily over the sleeping world, Shadowsoul could not help but see one glitter brighter than the others for a fleeting instant . . . For love of Light, For hate of Dark, Did they extinguish A throbbing spark. "It's time for another 'search-and-rescue.' We know where Myotismon is, but we still have to look for the eighth child. And we can never forget the Lost One." Tai's words caused a silence to brood over the groups of seven Digidestined children. That silence was soon broken by Matt. "No, we can't, not if what Gennai told us it true. Of course, he's usually right, so we have one heck of a search ahead of us." And . . . I can't bear the thought of her working for Myotismon, he added silently. "Quite true." Izzy. Sora spoke up. "You're right, Matt. According to Gennai, we have to have the Lost One on our side in order to defeat Myotismon." But one of Darkness remains of Darkness, though sometimes switching sides from good to evil . . . Dying ember, glowing flame, Harmony shattered, call my name . . . Darkness broken, Shadow slain, When will Fate play Dark's way again? Silent shadows stood as it began. The final battle. They had found him. Tracked him down. Hunted him. A living being, mindful, soulful, hunted like an animal. Was this the way it was to be? That's what they did-called him an animal. An animal for who he was . . . A Creature of Darkness, a Child of the Shadow. "Agumon Digivolved to . . . GREYMON!" "Gaubumon Digivolved to . . . GARURUMON!" "Biyomon Digivolved to . . . BIRDRAMON!" "Tentomon Digivolved to . . . KABUTERRIMON!" "Palmon Digivolved to . . . TOGEMON!" "Gomamon Digivolved to . . . IKKAKUMON!" "Patamon Digivolved to . . . Angelmon!" She was silent. Impressive. The word flitted through her mind. One of Darkness remains of Darkness . . . She would defend her Lord to the end. And never shall I be deterred. "Praes kaa. Puhrt raenshaa skut'taern traas." Her whispered words were heard by another, by a twisting soul . . . And a crystal tear slid down their black-green scaled cheek. "Nova Blast!" "Howling Blaster!" "Meteor Wing!" "Electro Shocker!" "Needle Spray!" "Harpoon Torpedo!" "Hand of Fate!" They were all aimed at Myotismon. And they all hit. There was an explosion, a dark flash of light, a billowing cloud of smoke . . . . . . And that smoke cleared to reveal the vampire lord of Server. "Nightmare Claw!" Kabuterrimon was down. "Garurumon Digivolved to . . ." The wolf reared on his hind legs, which were covered by rapidly appearing blue jeans, ripped and torn to an extent of shagginess. He seemed indifferent to it as he brought his hands-now covered in finger-missing gloves-to his chest, almost disturbing the dog tags dangling at his throat as his voice ripped out in a wild howl. "WereGarurumon!" "Wolf Claw!" Myotismon stepped lightly to one side, letting it spiral pass. "Birdramon Digivolved to . . ." The majestic fire-bird was enveloped in a wall of living flame as it threw its head back, reminiscent of the legendary phoenix. It's fiery red was hidden by the element of which it was born . . . And suddenly, with more than just a trace of regal-ness, she stepped through. Tall, proud-the aura surrounding her was a mixture of everything royal. The feather held precariously on her head fluttered slightly, as did the orange-red hair that held it. "Garudamon!" "Wing Blade!" "Garuru Kick!" The power of teamwork exceeds that of one . . . Myotismon was blown into the wall by the force of the attack. But she would not stand for it. She seemed crazy, charging at the huge Ultimate-forms with no more than a sword and a fierce defensiveness of all things dark. It was as though all eight Crests had been rolled into one: Courage in her passion; Friendship to the Darkness; Love for upholding the Harmony; Knowledge of her place in the balance; Sincerity in her mission; Reliability in her word; Hope for victory; and a darker Light through it all . . . And leading them all was the dark glow of the ninth Crest, the Crest of Honor, Honor borne by the Living Shadow, Ke Dransaehur, The Guardian. Born of Darkness, Raised of Light, Upon herself the Shadow's plight, The Child of the Shadow, Creature of the Night, The Guardian of the Darkness from the Light. The Shadows rise; the Darkness calls. The sword unsheathed, she shall not fall- The crystal blade, both long and tall, Assures that Death will not befall. She shall not fail, though comes the Light, For she'll let not prevail its bright. The Light's its own Guardian, pure and white; She's the Guardian of the Night. A living Shadow . . . The Digidestined couldn't see anything. First, there had been Shadowsoul, running at them, wielding her sword, but now there was nothing . . . Just a shadow. Suddenly, WereGarurumon fell over, a short gash opened across one of his legs. Dark red blood oozed out, soaking the blue jeans to more of a purple hue . . . And, surprisingly, nest was Garudamon. They all fell, one by one, some cut, come thrown into sudden shock for no apparent reason. And then they saw her. Shadowsoul stood in front of them, her sword still unsheathed, but with the crystal blade stained with blood. It had been her. Her, whom they thought they could trust. Sometimes, though, Children of the Shadow are not to be trusted . . . They defend their Darkness. She calmly cleaned the blade, sheathing the sword again. "How could you?!" Matt, disbelieving, had been the Digidestined that shouted at the one he had grown to love. But Ke Dransaehur could not love back. Shadowsoul bowed. "I am sorry, Digidestined, but my fate is to protect Darkness, whatever the cost . . . Even if it be my own life." But suddenly . . . "I'm coming!" "Gatomon Digivolved to . . ." The small feline, originally about two or three feet tall, suddenly grew taller, more slender, glowing with a great inner light. Eight beautiful white wings sprouted silently from her back, as her paws metamorphosed to slender hands covered in feathered white gloves. Rapidly covering her blue eyes, set in a pale and beauteous face, was a gray helmet that reflected the light of the brilliantly glowing Crest that had given her the strength to transform. She spun around once . . . "Angelwomon!" Shadowsoul looked up at this new Digimon that had come to challenge. She drew her sword anew . . . Myotismon had, by now, managed to pick himself up from the floor. He had been weakened for the past few days, gaining a bit of strength through Shadowsoul's sacrifice, but that just put him farther from death. "Nightmare Claw!" He would not let them kill Shadowsoul. Angelwomon saw this, and stopped the shadowy onslaught with . . . "Heaven's Charm!" And never shall I be deterred. "Crimson Lightning!" He lashed out at her, wrapping his scarlet bolts of lightning around her middle, throwing her almost weakly against the far wall. "Angelwomon!" It was Kari. "K . . . Kari? It's you?" Tai's weak voice-sapped by loss of energy and will after seeing their Digimon defeated so easily-went almost unheard by his younger sister. "Tai! Yeah, Wizardmon and Gatomon found me! Wizardmon told me I was the eighth Digidestined!" All the Digidestined head that and were shocked. All but Shadowsoul . . . Meanwhile . . . "Heaven's Charm!" "Crimson Lightning!" The two Ultimate-forms went head on, attacking and being attacked, defending and being defended, until they both became weak. "Heaven's Charm!" Angelwomon lifted her arms above her head, and a green halo of light emitted from them. The other Digidestined understood what her idea was . . . They all, weakly, responded. "Nova Blast!" "Wolf Claw!" "Wing Blade!" "Electro Shocker!" "Needle Spray!" "Harpoon Torpedo!" "Hand of Fate!" The attacks all went silently in, causing the halo's inside to spark and crackle with an electric forest green, accentuated by blinding white bolts of lightning snaking throughout. The halo turned to an arrow, and Angelwomon reached for it . . . She fitted the arrow to her glove-four feathers on either side of her wrist had elongate so her hand formed a bow-and released. "Celestial Arrow!" Myotismon knew he was too weak to escape. He didn't have the strength to counterattack, and he didn't have the energy to move. He shut his blue eyes to accept Fate . . . And suddenly, he opened them again. A living shadow snaked silently across the room, faster than any arrow could fly, with one thought in mind . . . . Defend the Darkness to the end. He saw her just before it hit. "Dransaehur!" She fell . . . He rushed over to her, floating silently above the ground, and kneeled down at her side. "Shadowsoul . . ." She had made the ultimate sacrifice. Shadowsoul had taken his fate. He was suddenly aware of another beside him, a silent shape with an aura of great honor surrounding them . . . And a clawed hand rested on his shoulder. "She . . . made the sacrifice, Tlaernskuha," a somewhat gravelly voice said. "And for that I am proud." Damhriis knelt beside Myotismon, gently pulling the arrow out of Shadowsoul. Though it had once been white, it was no longer . . . The Light emitting from it was blood red now, as it was stained by blood . . . Shadowsoul slowly opened her eyes, a strange smile flitting over her face. "You know . . . I am not truly gone . . . And never shall be . . . Puhrt mruer Ke Dransaehur shtaa Ymparshthu." She shut her eyes again, her head falling ever so slightly to one side. Her last words . . . Spoken in a tongue only known to Damhriis and his Tlaernskuha . . . I am the Guardian of Darkness . . . It is impossible for shadows to cry. Had life been once bestowed more, crystal tears would have dripped slowly from glowing crimson optics . . . But Digimon do cry. Tears slipped silently down Myotismon's pale cheek, never making it to the ground, but seeming to vanish into mid-air. And Matt, Yamato Ishida, began to cry as well. Darkness always thrives . . . Where life ends, Memories begin . . .