Chapter 16 - Moeru
Notes: Originally, I wanted to have all three of the fics in this trilogy end at an even 20 chapters. Note I said "originally"? Well... I've given up on that hope. "Digital" is going to be 25 chapters long. Oi. *rubs temple* -_-;;
Dedication: Silver Angel! Just because! ^_~ *huggles* lol
Disclaimer: If I owned Digimon or Lord Of The Rings, do you think I would settle for just writing fanfiction? No. I'd be off somewhere buying the rights to Orlando Bloom... ^-^;;
Ruki was completely and truly fed up with caves, and she got the feeling that everyone else shared her lack of enthusiasm. Though they were all restrained enough to keep from complaining out loud, the nervousness as they traversed the shadowed systems below the newly formed mountains was obvious.
But (as everyone except maybe Takato and Guilmon knew), caves had always been a bad omen in the past, so their distrust of them was well earned.
Besides that, the last time they had been in a cave system as extensive as the one they were now fumbling their way through had been when they were in the Mines of Moria. At that time, at least, they'd had Gandalf to light the way.
Now, they traveled in silence, with Legolas and Renamon leading the way – they, of all those present, had the best eyesight and could see where they were going.
Though she said nothing, it irked Ruki to no end, knowing that even though she was an Elf, she was still inferior to Legolas. In all truthfulness, it was a good thing it was Legolas. If it had been anyone else, she might have gotten angry...
"How are you doing?"
She glanced to the side at Takato, who was whispering. They hadn't explained why they were being so cautious, but he had obviously picked up on the need to remain relatively silent. Maybe he wasn't quite as clueless as she had thought.
Takato wisely nodded and left any dialogue he had planned to the wind. As one of those who was closest to her, he knew better than to push conversation when she was in an ornery mood. "Okay."
He dropped back, probably to check on Guilmon. His partner was carrying Wormmon, whose short insectile legs weren't made for long journeys. Thinking about it, Ruki was surprised that one or both of the digimon hadn't begun whining yet. Though, truthfully, she knew that Wormmon was better than that. Still, Guilmon was the complaining type...
<That's what happens when you're designed by a Doofus. But I guess he's grown up a bit, too.>
Ahead, Legolas paused when Renamon blurred into existence beside him, and the two talked in hushed tones among themselves for a moment before the digimon vanished once more and Legolas continued on. They had probably been discussing the direction to take. Ruki sighed and looked to her left, where Takeru was walking with Patamon perched on his head.
She would never say so, but on some level she was worried about the blonde. This was the reason why she had helped him re-bandage himself when they had stopped before. He was stubborn and a royal pain in the ass, and thus would never admit it, but the injuries he had suffered (from a battle with Warg, Aragorn had informed them all at Primary Village) were causing him a lot of pain. Ruki was glad that Renamon had taken the time to mix up the Sycope paste for him, though she was sure her partner didn't realize that she knew.
Takeru frowned slightly and turned toward her. "I know you're watching me."
Ruki scowled. "Hn."
"None of your business."
The Child of Hope paused, then, "you smell that, right?"
Blinking, the orange-haired girl sniffed experimentally. The scent Takeru was referring to was there, vaguely but growing stronger as they walked, and it was so familiar. She sniffed again, trying to place it. It smelled like... almost like the time she had baked bread with Takato and Lee, and Takato's had been forgotten about and thusly caught fire. Almost like that, but not quite.
It took her a moment to decide that what she was smelling was...
"Takeru." Her voice was flat, and without thinking she reached up and grasped the blonde's arm, stopping him in his tracks. "Takeru, it smells like-"
Everyone froze, and Takeru's eyes widened. "It can't be-"
From the front, Legolas scrambled backward, heading toward them at a frantic pace. The expression he was wearing was one of concern, serious, and also frightened. In the gloom, they all knew what they were hearing. Even Takato and Guilmon, having never experienced the Mines of Moria and the creature of the Shadows were silent, breathing shallowly.
"What is it?" Takato asked softly, his voice wavering.
A glow from the far reaches of the cavern.
"Takatomon!" Guilmon growled. The normally lighthearted digimon had assumed a now-familiar attack posture, his eyes wide and his pupils dilated angrily. "Takatomon, it's a digimon! I can smell it! A Perfect digimon!"
"Perfect..?" The goggled-Tamer's voice was weak, and Ruki could understand why.
Even given all of their adventures and battles in the past, they hadn't fought more than a handful of Perfect-level digimon. And those battles had never gone particularly well for them...
The pale light from beyond the shadows grew brighter as the footsteps approached.
Guilmon snarled softly.
It stepped from the darkness, shadow and flame licking from its body, giving the cave an unholy light. Black holes of eyes stared down at them, a rage that was beyond telling burning in the sockets. Wings flared, sending dust and soot flying.
<Oh my God...>
Ruki didn't realize she had been holding her breath until her lungs began to scream at her for air. Releasing it in a whoosh, she gasped in another lung-full. Beside her, Takeru seemed to be frozen where he was, staring in shock at the demon he knew to have killed Gandalf. On his head, Patamon was whimpering incoherently, clutching his partner's hair as if it were a lifeline.
Takeru had never seen the Balrog before...
"Ed' i'ear ar' elenea..." Legolas breathed, backing up a step, then, "rima! Rima ten'ta!"
He seemed unaware that he had slipped into his native language, but they all got the idea. Behind them, the Balrog roared in rage as they all whirled to raced back the way they had come.
Before, they had only escaped because of Gandalf, and without him...
A vicious snarl sounded from the demon of flame and a sword appeared, forming in its hands from the very substance of its body. Roaring again, it lunged forward, swinging the sword across the ceiling of the cave, the blade collided with the loose rocks of the roof and a mountain of shale fell, partially blocking the exit. Aragorn, who was closest to the rockslide, stumbled backward as rocks rained down around him, holding an arm up to defend his eyes. A moment later, as Gimli reached him, the Dwarf jerked him back just as the bulk of the rocks collided with the ground where he had been standing.
They all stared, eyes wide, at the half-barrier that now blocked their only way out. Behind them, a throaty growl came from the Balrog, and it took another step forward as dust rained around them from the ceiling. Still blocking his eyes as he looked at the obstacle, Aragorn cursed loudly and cast a glance over his shoulder.
"Come on!" Within seconds he was wading through the loose dust and sand, up to his knees in dirt, and began to dig through the fallen rocks. An already existent hole in the new wall began to widen as he worked, his motions frantic. "We've got to get through here!"
"Right!" Already out of breath, and despite his wounds, Takeru followed the Ranger without question.
Beside them, Gimli had dropped his axe and was starting to dig as well, as had Legolas. Renamon appeared in a blink to help, sending pawfuls of dirt flying.
<No! Fuck!> The footsteps of the Balrog caused more dust to rain from the now-unstable roof of the cave. Whirling, Ruki could only stare in horror as the demon continued forward. It was close enough now that heat from the fire of it's body could be felt... <We're not going to get through! There's not enough time!>
Behind her, Takeru was obviously coming to the same conclusion. As they worked, the lighter shale and sand just filled in the holes made by the missing rocks as they moved them. The blonde, blood beginning to seep through his tunic once more, threw a handful of stones down in disgust.
"Shit!" He swore violently, "this isn't working!"
"What do you propose we do?" Aragorn demanded.
"Takeru, it's coming!" Patamon's voice had taken on a frantic tone. "It's coming!"
"Just keep digging, lad!" Gimli shouted, "we've no other choice!"
Ruki spun, trudging through the dirt, and began to dig. Up to her elbows in rocks and sand, she blinked harshly at the grit that had already become – accustomed – to her eyes. Beside her, Aragorn had the same determined look on his face that Ruki had begun to know so well. Beyond the Ranger, his normally blonde hair turned gray and his face smudged with sand and soot, even Legolas was starting to seem doubtful as the Balrog continued toward them.
How long had they been digging? How long had it been since the Balrog emerged from the shadows? Certainly it seemed like forever, but Ruki doubted it had been more than a minute or so. Time always seemed to slow when death was imminent, though, she thought, the Balrog seemed to be taking it's time.
It knew it had them trapped.
"Come on, Guilmon!"
<What-?!> Shock radiated from Ruki when she realized that Takato was running toward the demon, Guilmon close on his heels. Forgetting about digging, she whirled in time for the goggled-Tamer to hold his D-Power up. There was a flash of light... <no..!>
"Guilmon Matrix Shinka! Dukemon!"
She didn't realize she had shouted until the others all turned from the stones in front of them. Her voice echoed hollowly through the cave, a backdrop as Dukemon faced down the Balrog, seemingly unafraid.
"Takato, you IDIOT!"
If Takato, inside the digimon, heard her, there was no way to tell. Dukemon's eyes were flat and determined as he held up his lance. The Balrog seemed to sneer, then sniffed the air and flexed its hand. In seconds, the sword metamorphosed into a whip. The same whip that had dragged Gandalf into the depths of Moria...
It lashed through the air with a snap, and Ruki's mind flashed back to the Vision she'd had in Lothlorien.
...as she watched the battle play out before her, her breath caught in her throat. Dukemon struck with his lance... the Balrog countered with it's whip...
The shout from Dukemon made her look up again, just as the digimon dove forward, bringing the lance down in an arc and colliding with the Balrog. The force of the blow sent the creature back a step, but it had only just fallen back before it lunged toward Dukemon, lashing the whip against his side.
Angry now, Dukemon snarled, his voice a mixture of Takato's and Guilmon's... the sound made Ruki shiver...
...Dukemon's lance was sent spiraling out of his grasp to land out of his reach... the Balrog advanced, it's sword of fire drawn...
The lance clashed against the Balrog's arm, making the demon scream, it's unearthly voice causing the caverns to shake. Still pressing forward, Dukemon slammed his shield into the Balrog's side with a crack. The Balrog, enraged, reached up and latched onto the side of the circle, jerking on it in an attempt to make Dukemon lose his grip.
When that failed to work, it shoved, forcing Dukemon back several steps. The digimon grunted, his heels digging into the ground and leaving furrows in the rock.
And then he tripped...
His eyes widened as he fell backward, and his lance fell from his hand, clattering against the stone as he slammed into the wall. And the whip of fire yanked it away when he reached for it. Snorting, the Balrog clenched its hand as the whip vanished again to be replaced by the sword.
...she could hear Dukemon's scream in her head, followed by the sharp crack of a breaking neck...
"No!" Again, Ruki's voice rose to echo around the cave, and she gripped her D-Power fiercely. Renamon turned toward her, feeling something from her Tamer that she had never felt before. "Renamon!"
She couldn't let it happen... she couldn't...
"Ruki," Legolas' voice was edged with concern, "what are you-?"
Furiously spinning, her D-Power blinked a handful of times and then flashed brightly, a blinding white that made even the Balrog pause. The others all shielded their eyes from the flare...
"Renamon Matrix Shinka! Tenshisilmon!"
The light faded, and where Ruki and Renamon had been...
Dukemon's voice was barely a whisper. "That's not Sakuyamon..."
The creature that had replaced the two was barely bigger than Ruki had been, and certainly nowhere near Dukemon's size. Her skin, a pale beige, seemed to glow for a moment as she stared at the Balrog hardly. Her right hand was clasped around a sword, decorated with angel's wings.
"No," she said in Ruki's voice, turning glowing violet eyes toward Dukemon. She regarded the digimon for a moment, and Dukemon stared back at her in shock. A Matrix Evolution should have had a part of Renamon in it, too. This was... not right. "No," she repeated, "I am not Sakuyamon. I am her better, Tenshisilmon. And," she added, flexing her free hand, "I am going to rid this world of the demon of shadow and flame."
"Mani marte?!" Legolas demanded, "what is going on-?!"
Ignoring him, Tenshisilmon stepped forward, even as the Balrog scented the air again, trying to get a feel for her power. It seemed to hesitate, and she paced toward it, stopping onto a few yards away.
They stared at each other silently, each one sizing up the other.
And then Tenshisilmon leaped into the air, swinging the sword downward, and imbedded it into the Balrog's shoulder. A shriek tore itself from the demon's throat and it ripped away, pulling the sword from its flesh as it moved.
The weapon fell toward the ground, only to be scooped up by the blur that was Tenshisilmon as she landed lightly on the stone. Holding it out, she flicked a wrist and the sword vanished into nothingness, leaving her without a weapon.
Takeru nodded, even as Legolas' voice trailed off. "Ruki. Yes."
"I don't know."
The Balrog whirled to face Tenshisilmon, rage radiating from it. Dark blood seeped from the wound on its shoulder, getting lost in the wreathing dust and shadows that enclosed its body. She who had once been both Ruki and Renamon faced it fearlessly, raising a hand. Her fingers closed around an invisible bow and her other hand drew back an invisible arrow to match.
As she shouted the words, a bow and arrow, created entirely of light, appeared in her until-then-empty hands. The arrow whirred forward, splitting into a half dozen in midair, all of which showered around the Balrog. The light pierced it, making it scream again, and it launched forward, intent on crushing her.
Without a moment's pause, Tenshisilmon jumped upward. The Balrog missed her, skimming underneath as she whirled in midair, raising her hands once more. Another command and a second bunch of light arrows slammed downward to hit the Balrog straight on.
Then, as the creature straightened, enraged, and its sword appeared once again-
From nowhere, a thin trail of smoke formed into a dragon... or... it appeared to be... a mask. The mask, shining blue, fitted itself to her head. Tenshisilmon's gaze, every violet, continued to glow through the eyeholes.
As she dropped toward the ground once more, the mask trailed behind her.
She hit the ground lightly and sprang back up, pushing from the stone. She was moving so fast, when she slammed into the Balrog, that she herself appeared to vanish, and the dragon moved on it's own, eyes blazing.
The Balrog was thrown backward into the wall, but rebounded more quickly than anyone could have imagined, caught off-guard, Tenshisilmon gasped, eyes widening, when its hand flew out and smacked her back. Just a blur, she collided with the far wall in a cloud of dust and sand. When the air cleared, the mask was gone. Gritting her teeth and with a Look at her now-torn clothing, she climbed to her feet as the Balrog came toward her, it's footsteps creating fake thunder in the caves.
Her eyes hardened and her sword appeared again as she pushed off the ground. Swinging it downward, she landed against the Balrog's chest and stabbed – and the tip of the sword lodged in the demon's rocklike skin.
She jerked, and the sword refused to come out.
"Kuso!" Tenshisilmon swore, her voice too much like Ruki's for everyone's comfort.
-and the Balrog's hand clamped around her, yanking her away from it. The sword vanished when, spinning, it slammed her into the wall, pinning her there, and leaned all of its weight against her, crushing her into the rock.
"Ruki!" The Elf started forward, as if to try-
"Legolas, no!" Aragorn caught him before he could go more than six steps, and forcefully held him back, ignoring his struggles. "No! Uuma! Dina, Legolas! You cannot help her!"
He looked ready to argue...
Across the cavern, Tenshisilmon screamed sharply as the Balrog swung its hand, slamming her into another wall, and then threw her to the ground. She lay there for a moment, breathing painfully. After a long moment she attempted to call her sword again. It began to form in her hand... and then faded out again as her eyes closed in pain.
Growling, the Balrog reached out, it's sword forming again from the flame of it's body. On the ground, Tenshisilmon turned her eyes upward, a look of resignation on her face. She made eye contact, for a split second, with the demon, then, "Flaming..."
Normally, the only creatures who could feel the rising energy of a digimon's attack were other digimon. Now, every living thing in the cave blinked as the sheer power behind Tenshisilmon's words began to rise. The very air seemed to spark, as she shakily pushed herself to her feet. Undaunted, the Balrog reached down and plucked her from the rock, slamming her into the wall yet again. Stone crumbled under the impact and where she had hit indented from the pressure.
Still, the energy level they were all feeling rose.
"Oh my God." Patamon whispered, "Takeru, that's too much... she can't possibly... it'll kill her!"
Takeru had already figured that out, but was unable to think of a way to stop what had already been set in motion. But even as he opened his mouth to respond to Patamon, Dukemon pushed himself off of the ground, grasping his lance.
"Ahh!" Crying out, Tenshisilmon's eyes closed tightly as the Balrog continued to grind her into the rock face. Gritting her teeth, she took as deep a breath as she could and began to grind out, "I-"
But before she could finish, the Balrog shrieked, making everyone clamp their hands over their ears, as Dukemon thrust with his lance, stabbing it through the demon's back and piercing through to the rock beyond. It's grip on Tenshisilmon faltered, and she slipped from the wall to land in a heap at its feet. Behind the Balrog, Dukemon's face was a mask of anger as he viciously twisted the lance before letting go and dropping back.
The Balrog turned, pulling the weapon out of the wall, and blankly stared at it for a moment before falling forward and landing with a thud that shook the walls and nearly caused another cave in.
For a moment, Dukemon stood over it, waiting, but when the demon didn't leap to it's feet again, he flashed and shrunk, leaving Takato and Guilmon, tired and shaken, standing in his wake.
Only then did Aragorn release Legolas, and the Elf scrambled out to where Tenshisilmon had landed, followed by everyone else. A shimmering in the rubble, and as they all watched, Tenshisilmon, as with Dukemon, flashed.
Ruki and Renamon, battered, bruised, even bleeding, and certainly unconscious, lay where the digimon had been only seconds before.
Legolas: Ed' I'ear ar' elenea...
Aragorn: "By the sea and stars..."
Legolas: Rima ten'ta!
Aragorn: "Run for it!"
Legolas: Mani marte?
Aragorn: "What happened?"
Aragorn: "Be silent!"
Me: Wai~! =^-^= I love this chapter!
Legolas: Is she going to be okay?
Me: Who, Ruki?
Me: Of course, of course. ^^ She's tough as nails.
Me: Anyway, impressive, ne? Thankies to Lady Fox (aka Arwen Ronyo) for the Tenshisilmon design! *glomps* Yay! Oh, and for those of you who were wondering, the last attack (which was left unfinished) was "Flaming Ice" and is similar to Sailor Saturn's "Silence Glaive Surprise" attack, in that it is meant to be a last strike. Had she completed it, Tenshisilmon would have died as well.
Tenshi = "Angel" [Japanese]
Isil = "Moon" [Elvish]
Tenshisilmon = "Angel Moon Monster"