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He woke from a dream he would never remember, slipping from his coffin even as he opened the lid.  He opened his eyes and, for one brief instant, looked into the unknown.  The cold stone walls and floors, the vast vaulted chamber--were utterly alien to him.  The weight of shadows was oppressive.  His eyes widened, searching for something, anything at all recognizable, and finding nothing.  A chasm opened within him, threatening to suck what little he was into nothingness.  I am not myself! thought he.  Who--what--am I?

 

Myotismon shook his head, blinked.  He was aware of himself once more.  Memories, his own memories, were there again.  The moment of amnesia was gone, and try as he might, he could not recall it.  He drew himself to his full height, banishing any lingering dread to the furthest reaches of his being.  Eternity will be a Hell, indeed, if I am not to enjoy the simple luxury of being allowed to be myself, came the grim thought.

 

A bad dream, that was all.  He had been having too many of them of late.

 

 

 

He ascended the spiral staircase in silence, deep in thought.  As he crossed the great chamber, he noted with something that bordered on relief that Lady Devimon was not present.  Her never-ending hostility, entertaining as it was, had begun to wear on his nerves. 

 

Silver moonlight spilled through the windows, as it did every night.  A breath of wind turned dust into a scintillating cloud of tiny sprites, a courtly dance performed to the music of the spheres. 

 

His lips twisted without humor.  Here he reigned in his lordly palace--over no one, save himself, and the moon that slipped past his windows through starry skies.  An endless procession of the sun and moon chasing each other through the sky, each cycle marking off another night, virtually indistinguishable from the one before it, or the one to follow.  Grim bare gray stone inside, lifeless barren crags outside.  That there were no bars on the windows did not make it any less a prison.

 

Emptiness threatened to swallow him whole.  He became keenly aware of space, hollow vastness that reduced every sound to sibilant echoes.  Once there was not enough space in both worlds for his ambitions.   Now he had an empire, without limit or bounds, and the very emptiness of it served only to make him more insignificant in his own eyes.

 

He opened the window, and let the cool night wind flow over him, riffling through his hair.  It slipped in, insinuating into every crevice, every corner, laden with the scent of rain-washed wastelands. Tendrils of fog began to coalesce, forming patchy wraiths, drifting. 

He looked up toward the sky, and remembered how he had once been told that the moon, radiant queen of the night, was only a barren sphere of airless rock, reflecting the rays of the sun.  No light or life of its own.  He preferred to think of it otherwise.  The thought of existing as a vessel without a purpose of its own, struck a chord of desolation within his leaden heart more painful than fear. 

 

Whatever else, he could not bear to think that he might be lonely.

 

 

 

Myotismon wandered, letting instinct guide him.  Boredom forced him to contemplate his surroundings.  Here were rustling trees, and grasses that sang a whispered lament to the wind.  Ahead of him was a small lake, moonlight rippling lazily across its surface.  He could hear waves lapping ceaselessly against the shore.

 

He drew closer to the lake, drawn by its tranquil beauty.  This place knew nothing of him, or did it care.  Nothing here to remind him of his unlamented past, or his deeply humiliating failure.  He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of water and earth and sky.  It did not matter that it was not real.  For a time he was content to simply be.

 

Odd.  Myotismon saw yellow lights shine upwards from the surface of the water, into the jet-black sky.  Against all reason, a passage had opened in the surface of the lake.  An improbable corridor led downwards into the water, toward the light.  Drawn by the allure of the unknown, he descended.

 

Below him was a small house, done in Japanese dojo style.  Myotismon stopped in amazement at the unlikely sight.  Paths paved with flagstones led to a formal rock garden, complete with a small stream, and a faithful copy of the rainbow bridge.  Flowering trees dropped petals in a spray of pastel confetti.  In the distance, a nightingale trilled unseen, silvered liquid notes pouring forth.  

 

As Myotismon advanced to the ground, he espied a wizened man, dressed in the silken garb of Japanese nobility.  Bald, save for a grey ponytail that sprang from the top of his head, and clean-shaven, but for a large moustache, the man moved with quiet deliberation, stopping now and then to arrange something--a branch or stone--to his satisfaction.  He paused to raise a pale blossom to his nose.

 

"I have been expecting you, Myotismon," said the man, without turning.

     

 

 

"Who are you?" said Myotismon, brows furrowed deeply in displeasure.  "And how do you know my name?"

 

"My name is Gennai," answered the old man, who turned to peer up at him.  "Why shouldn't I know who you are?  I know everyone who lives here."

 

Myotismon had heard of such a being, but never gave it thought.  At the time, it was of no importance.  For the first time, he began to wonder just how much had escaped his notice.

 

Gennai looked at him, eyes focused on Myotismon acutely.  Something about the intense scrutiny, the long drawn-out silence disturbed Myotismon greatly, though he could see no reason to be.

 

At last Gennai spoke.  "Myotismon, who are you?"

 

The question seemed preposterous.  "I am Myotismon," stated Myotismon, brows furrowed deeply in displeasure.  "You just said so yourself.  Isn't that obvious enough for you?"

 

Gennai smiled, an expression of quirky humor.  "Well, yes and no.  What you are is no mystery to me, but I did not ask that."  He paused, watching Myotismon's face as it passed from anger to confusion.  "No, the question is not what you are, but who you are.  Can you answer that, Myotismon?"

 

Myotismon snarled silently, but said nothing.

 

"You are Myotismon, true," continued Gennai, his voice almost gentle.  "But just because you are Myotismon does not mean that there can be no others. 

 

Myotismon's jaw dropped.  The thought had never occurred to him.  One of many.  He grimly hung onto the one thing he knew in his life--who he really was.

 

Once he was Myotismon, who was destined to rule, both the real and the digital worlds.  Now, he was nothing.  Gone, forgotten, lost; victim of his own ambition. 

 

"Can't answer that, can you?" said Gennai, with a chuckle.  "Most people can't."

 

"Why should I?", snapped Myotismon.  "I don't see how that concerns you, old fool."

 

"I'm sure you don't, Myotismon," answered Gennai, fixing Myotismon with a reproving glance for his impertinence.  "However, everything around here concerns me.  Including your welfare, if you are interested."

 

Myotismon's brows furrowed deeper, his temper beginning to fray.

 

"Do not think I have not noticed your restlessness of late, Myotismon.  The general sense of purposelessness.  You now have all of eternity before you, and have nothing better to do than haunt your own castle."  Gennai saw Myotismon's jaw drop open, and continued.  "No, do not deny it.  I have seen it for myself."

 

Myotismon wanted to deny it.  He could not, and stood, seething in impotent fury and frustration.  The simple truth of each statement struck deeply into the heart of all his troubles, leaving him painfully silent.  

 

"Come now.  Is it to be wondered, Myotismon?", said Gennai, studying a camellia bush, now laden with pink flowers.  "You were never anything but the tool of another's evil will.  Now that the master has been defeated, his puppets have been forgotten.  What you once were no longer matters.  Your problem now is that you are now an entity without an identity--at least not one of your own making."  Gennai plucked a camellia blossom.  Myotismon glanced over, and briefly noted the simple elegance of shape, the harmony of shell pink of the petals with the bright gold of the stamens.

 

"Do you think you have not changed at all?" murmured Gennai absently.  "The Myotismon I once knew would never have bothered to admire a flower.  Ambition at any cost was his only thought."

 

Myotismon glared at Gennai, lips curled into a sneer.  "What difference could it possibly make to you either who or what I am?  Why do you care?"

 

Gennai fell silent for a time.  "That would be hard to say, Myotismon.  I don't think any answer I could give you would satisfy you at this time.  But the problem is not me, but you."  A smile crinkled the corners of his mouth.  "Like Gepetto the puppetmaker's creation, you wish to become real.  Do you not?"

 

"Who is this Gepetto?" asked Myotismon, eyes narrowed in suspicion.

 

"An old Earth story.  Never mind...I should not have mentioned it," said Gennai.  "The only important thing is that you must make your own destiny now--If you don't want to spend the rest of eternity here, that is."

 

Myotismon listened in stony silence, his face set in a sardonic expression.  "I see," he said, his voice cold and flat.

 

"There is nothing I can do for you at this moment," said Gennai.  "Later on, you will understand.  At that time, I will expect to see you again, here."

 

"I see no reason to return," snarled Myotismon.  "You told me nothing I did not already know."

 

The old man was unperturbed.  "I told you because you needed to hear it.  In your case, that was reason enough."  Gennai's attention strayed toward a bank of azaleas, laden with glowing carmine flowers.  Without another word, he wandered away.  "Soon you will know."

 

Myotismon, furious at Gennai's off-handedness, started to speak.  He did not like being summarily dismissed, as if he were a lackey,  or being played for a fool.

 

But Gennai was gone.

           

 

 

Myotismon stared balefully into the face of his executioners once more.  Eight children stared back at him, pale faces resolute.  His eyes locked on Angewomon, the celestial being who was once his servant and ally, now his assassin.  There was always something he didn't like in her eyes.  But he had never imagined it would be anything like this.       

 

Angewomon, clad in gleaming white and gold, drew back her bow, a shining arrow of light aimed at Myotismon's heart.  Angemon hovered nearby, mouth set in a thin grim line.  It would be worth dying a second time, just to get away from the sanctimony both angels seemed to ooze, like pus from an infection.  Despite knowledge of his certain doom, Myotismon smiled.  Never would he show fear to the likes of them, or remorse.  They had no idea what it meant to be him, driven toward a destiny now lost to him forever.  Nor was his death murder, not to them.  To them, he was simply evil.  For him, there would be no mourning or grief, only annihilation. 

 

His amusement visibly disturbed the Digidestined, who reacted in fear or anger.  Save for one.  Kari, the one who bore the crest of light, the one he had tried so desperately to kill.  Her expression was somber, eyes filled inexplicably with sadness.  The very idea was troubling, that she, alone of all, would feel sorrow for him.

 

His attention returned to Angewomon.  Stupid bitch, who presumed to judge him.  Out of spite, he laughed even as she let fly the arrow.  It was the only weapon he had left.

 

He was still laughing as the arrow struck.     

 

 

 

Myotismon stood once more in his mansion, one shadow among many, the memory of dying fresh in his mind.  His dreams were too painfully real, far more so that what passed for reality.  The white-hot sensation of the holy arrow as it tore through his chest, into his heart.  Rawness of agony, radiating outward from the impalement, cut mercifully short.  The shock and disbelief, the keen bitterness of defeat. 

 

Fleeting seconds, so quick to pass, that seemed to last an eternity, etched indelibly into his memory.

 

Myotismon's head throbbed dully, close enough to a headache to both distract and annoy him.  He concentrated, seeking a distraction from his cares.  Seconds later, a slight noise drew his attention.  He turned to see a young human woman slip into the room, dark-haired and slim, bewilderment evident in her expression.  Her eyes darted to his face, then to the moonlit chamber.  He took note of the delicate form, the apprehensiveness of her demeanor, the slight tremble of her shoulders.  With a cold smile, he advanced to the woman's side.  "You look troubled, my dear."

 

She glanced briefly up at him.  "I-I don't know where I am..."  Tears glimmered in the corners of her eyes.  "Please...please help me?"

 

Myotismon opened his cloak to wrap the woman in its folds.  She froze, mouth open in a frightened gasp.  He placed a finger across her lips to quiet her, letting his fingertip trail down her chin, to brush the softness of her throat.  "Do not fear.  Everything will be all right." 

 

She blinked, and looked at him, eyes widening in surprise.  Myotismon drew her closer, taking complete control of both her mind and body.  It was what she really wanted, after all.  He could almost taste the desire that lay so close to the surface.  Desire, mingled with a touch of fear.  With an inaudible sigh, she gave herself to him, her body moulding itself against his.  How sweet, this remembered moment of utter surrender. 

 

Myotismon laughed, as his mouth fastened greedily onto the woman's throat. 

 

 

 

"Getting sentimental, Myotismon?"  Lady Devimon viewed the pair with contempt she made no effort to conceal, as she strode into the great hall.

 

Myotismon, disturbed from his reminiscence, glanced to the silent form lying on the table.  There was no reason to keep the body of his 'victim' around.  She was only the reenactment of a memory, as unreal and insubstantial as everything else.  But it suited him to have her body near.  Perhaps to remind himself of what he once was.

 

"I find her better company, for one," said Myotismon, matching venom for venom.  "She knows when and how to remain silent."

 

Lady Devimon's lips thinned unpleasantly, an expression devoid of mirth.  "No doubt.  But I would far rather deal with you than any construct.  I have no wish to be master of a kingdom of illusions.  You, at least, are real."

 

Myotismon winced; the point had not escaped him.  "Be that as it may."  He gestured carelessly, and the woman's body was gone.  "Enjoy your moment of victory, such as it is.  As you and I know quite well, it will have to last for a very long time."

 

He ignored her, and strode out of the room, not bothering to wait for a response.  It was getting to be tedious, this business of walking out on Lady Devimon, when he didn't like what she had to say.  Everything was tedious, and only going to be more so.  Perhaps it was in his best interest to make peace with her.

 

Dawn showed in glimmers of crimson on the horizon, as Myotismon sank into his bed.  Fatigue pulled him, without resistance, into the satin.  Not that he was tired, or could he ever be.  The very burden of his existence weighed upon him. 

 

As sleep claimed him, he perceived the kindness that lay behind Lady Devimon's acid words.  He wondered if any of it was intentional.