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Old May 30th, 2012 (12:02 PM).
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Grovyle42(Griff8416)
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Chapter 3: Duking It Out

Alphamon talked with Examon for over an hour. They talked about many topics, like what it meant to be a Royal Knight, the Royal Knights’ code of conduct, the duties they had around the castle, where everything was: including Examon’s sleeping quarters. Examon even read his oath to join the Royal Knights.

Both were sitting at the white, round table. Examon watched as Alphamon stood up to stretch his muscles. He took this to mean that they were done. “Is that everything?” Examon asked for confirmation.

“I think so...” the leader of the Royal Knights said, stopping to think in case he had forgotten anything. “You’re free to get settled into your new room. The sleeping quarters are on the second floor; if you get lost, just ask someone, and they’ll be able to show you to it.”

“Thank you,” Examon told him, smiling a bit and nodding as he also rose to his feet. Even though Alphamon said that Royal Knights were to treat each other equally, Examon felt especially grateful to Alphamon for choosing him and trusting in his abilities and character despite never personally meeting him. He imagined it was a bold decision for Alphamon to make, choosing both a true dragon and a stranger. He could have risked making the Royal Knights question his authority, or so Examon assumed by what he had seen so far. “I’m sure I’ll be able to find it on my own, though.”

“It’s a big castle,” Alphamon pointed out. “I’m sure you could ask one of the knights to show you around. Dukemon, maybe? You two seem to be getting along.”

Examon nodded. “We have been. He’s been very good to me since I met him this morning,” he explained, remembering Dukemon’s friendly demeanour with him.

“It’s good that you’ve gotten on his good side,” Alphamon said with a small smile.

With curiosity and confusion, Examon decided to press the issue. “What do you mean?” he asked, wondering what Dukemon’s bad side was like.

“I don’t want to seem like I’m insulting him or anything. Dukemon is one of my most loyal and trusted friends. It’s just that he can be... argumentative... when there’s something he disagrees with. He’s on the hotheaded side,” Alphamon explained. He then went into a mutter. “Though not as much as OuRyuumon...”

“I’m sure that won’t be a problem,” Examon reassured him.

“Speak for yourself,” Alphamon mumbled. “Anyways, is there anything from your old home that you want brought here?”

He closed his eyes and thought. “Maybe a few things, like the new ammo I was working on for the Ambrosius,” he replied.

The Royal Knights’ leader looked at him blankly. “...Ammo? I meant clothes or personal items.”

“Oh, um...” Examon said sheepishly. “I don’t have very much of value, but I suppose there’s a few things I want. I’ll make a list.”

“Right...” Alphamon said, walking over to him and holding out his hand. “Well, Examon, it’s good to have you with us. Make yourself at home.”

Smiling, Examon took his hand firmly and shook it. “Thank you, Alphamon. I’ll do my best.”

“I expect nothing less,” was his reply. Alphamon nodded and released his hand. “You’re free to go now.”

Examon nodded politely and turned around. He strode out of the council room with new found confidence in spite of his rocky reception. As of that moment, he was a Royal Knight.

“Examon, the eleventh Royal Knight,” a voice said from nearby as Examon stepped into the great hall, as if it was narrating his thoughts right then.

He turned his draconic body to the left and saw the red-armoured, purple-haired, horse man Royal Knight smiling at him and walking over from the door to his left. “You’re...” Examon trailed off. He was struggling to remember the Royal Knight’s name, as he met so many that day.

“Sleipmon, the tenth Royal Knight,” he replied with a smile, trotting up beside him. “It took me a few days to remember everybody’s names.”

“So until now, you were the newest member,” Examon said, thinking. “How long ago since you joined?”

“Just six months. You’ll feel at home soon enough,” Sleipmon reassured him.

Examon looked over at him, inspecting his beast-like body. “I hope so... I heard that you received a similar treatment to me though.”

Sleipmon grinned slightly. “Yeah, you could say that... But, as somebody who went through it, I’ll tell you that you’ll win all of their respect soon, though. Just be consistent in battle, don’t start any fights, and you’ll be fine. Once you get Duftmon to stop glaring at you all the time, you’ll know you’re fitting in.”

“I appreciate that...” Examon looked over at the friendly beast knight with a small smile. He was silent afterwards, creating an awkward silence that Sleipmon was quick to break.

“Why did you decide to accept Alphamon’s invitation to join, Examon?” the large knight asked.

“I want to change the world...” Examon replied with wishful yearning in his tone. He glanced at Sleipmon but chose not to go into details. “You?”

Sleipmon smiled. “The same as you and most of the others, I think,” he explained. “I joined the Royal Knights so that I can help prevent death and deletion all over the Digital World. I don’t believe that digimon killing other digimon is right.”

“I agree with you there,” he replied as they reached the end of the hall.

“I’m glad. I’ve debated several strategies with the other knights because of that mindset,” Sleipmon explained, walking into the foyer before turning his horse-like body and looking over at Examon, who raised an eyebrow at the last comment. “Are you heading for your room? Want me to show you the way?”

Examon nodded, prompting Sleipmon to suddenly trot towards the closest of two doors to their right, the one leading into an enclosed staircase. Examon watched as Sleipmon fit into the staircase and started to make his way up to the second floor. Seeing that Sleipmon’s wide body could fit, Examon soon followed, only needing to fold his wings slightly to fit into the flight of stone stairs.

“What’s with UlforceVeedramon, Duftmon and Craniamon?” Examon asked as he followed Sleipmon up.

“Hm? What do you mean ‘what’s with Ulforce?’?” Sleipmon asked, looking over his shoulder. “He’s a pretty funny guy, in my opinion. You don’t like him?”

“It’s not that,” he responded, rubbing the wings on his arms while ascending the stairs. “I don’t think he likes me...”

“That’s strange...” Sleipmon mused. “I’ll have to talk to him. As for Duftmon, he’s a bit... peculiar. He takes some getting used to. And Craniamon has a bit of a melting period too. Neither of them really liked me when I first joined, but we’re fine now, more or less. I got along with Ulforce pretty well though...”

Examon nodded. Sleipmon got to the top of the stairs and turned down a long, stone hallway with several torches on each side, which Examon entered as well. “I’ll give them time. I guess it’s dumb to think everything would happen immediately.”

Sleipmon nodded and led him down the hall, passing several doors and entrances to various rooms. “Well, this is the wing of the floor where our living quarters are. Alphamon’s room is at the very end of this hall, and the bathroom is at the opposite end,” he explained.

“Good to know...” the crimson dragon replied.

With a smile, Sleipmon slowed down to look at him. “After I show you your room, are you up for a game of pool?”

Examon raised an eyebrow at him. He had never played this ‘pool’ before, though he was a bit curious to see what it was. However. “I think I’m just going to get settled in, Sleipmon. I’ve had a tiring day,” he told him, looking at the cavalier. “...Another time, though.”

Sleipmon smiled and nodded, slowing down in front of a room whose wooden door was ajar. “That’s fine.” He turned to the room and pushed the door open with his hand. “And this is it.”

With a nod, Examon stepped in, curious to see what his new living quarters was like. Inside was a spacious room with floors and walls made of sturdy stone. On the opposite side of the room, there sat a bed that was large enough for not only Examon, but also his broad wings and long tail as well. In addition to the bed, there was a wooden desk, a dresser for clothes and armour to be stored in, a personal computer on top of the desk – the basic necessities. There was much that could be customized, if Examon wanted to, that is.

To top it off, there was a large window that could be opened fully to a small balcony on the other side, which he could fly out of. Examon wondered if this was a convenient coincidence, or if they tailored this room to suit him.

“Well, I’m going to go see if I can find the others. I hope you’re comfortable here,” Sleipmon said to him, turning to walk back down the hall.

“Thank you for your kindness,” Examon told Sleipmon, though not turning around to look at him. The dragon digimon then walked inside his room.

Sleipmon smiled and continued his walking, his gait becoming slightly more jovial. “You’re quite welcome,” he murmured.

-

Alphamon’s cape fluttered behind him from a gust of wind that came when he opened the door from the great hall to one of the side hallways. He gazed at the floor as he walked into the familiar stone hallway, and a short, weighty sigh left his lips and heated his face behind the helmet he wore.

Being the leader of the Royal Knights meant more than just leading them all into battle and keeping track of administrative duties. It also meant tempering all of the strong personalities that would often conflict with one another... and with ten – now eleven – personalities, that was not an easy task. This was especially the case with the stronger personalities of certain knights and members of the headquarters.

Alphamon looked ahead of him and groaned. Speaking of strong personalities...

A ways in front of him, he saw a recognizable, tall, gold dragon leaning against the wall of the hallway with his arms folded. OuRyuumon. And he didn’t look happy.

For a moment, Alphamon palmed his face with annoyance and wondered if there was still time to turn around and escape; his black armour might have camouflaged him against the dark backdrop of the hallway, after all. Then again, he knew that he would have to deal with the dragon sooner or later. He figured he’d might as well follow his own example and face him now.

OuRyuumon glanced over at Alphamon out of the corner of his eye. He wasn’t in a fury like Alphamon originally expected, instead he simply looked indignant and unamused. At that point, Alphamon would have almost preferred the hot-blooded anger.

“Oh. Hello, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon said, his voice huffy and derisive. The dragon folded his arms more and looked in the opposite direction.

Alphamon sighed and walked up to him, stopping in front of OuRyuumon and looking up at the taller digimon. “OuRyuumon...”

The dragon in front of him remained silent, but it was clear that he was radiating his frustration.

While he felt a bit guilty, he wouldn’t be dissuaded by OuRyuumon. “Look, OuRyuumon, I know--“

“Good,” OuRyuumon said, turning his head to look down at Alphamon. “I was starting to worry you didn’t realize you did something wrong.”

Alphamon gritted his teeth slightly and narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t do anything wrong... Examon is still the right choice for the eleventh knight. “

“What?! How can you say that?!” OuRyuumon asked fierily. “What about me?! And you can’t hide behind the ‘they’re not ready for a dragon digimon like you’ excuse now. He’s a dragon, I’m a dragon, so... why, Alphamon?! You and me are--!”

Alphamon frowned and interrupted the tall, worked up dragon. “I’m not going to make you a Royal Knight just because of that. You know me better, OuRyuumon,” he said to him firmly.

“And you know me better than some random guy who you never even talked to until today!” OuRyuumon fired back. “Why would you make him a Royal Knight over me?! I bet I’m as capable, if not more, than he is!”

Their eyes became locked, Alphamon staring at him sternly. “Examon is collected, cool-headed, and mature. You’re not,” he bluntly told him.

OuRyuumon blinked and shrunk back slightly, looking insulted. “A-Alphamon...” He then scowled, snorted and turned his head away again. “Fine! Who cares what you think?!”

Alphamon reached up and put his hand on OuRyuumon’s shoulder, squeezing it lightly. “You do, obviously...”

His eyes looked at Alphamon’s hand, but soon found themselves looking away again. “...Do not...” he retorted.

A smile appeared on Alphamon’s face at OuRyuumon’s response. “You wouldn’t be so angry with me if you didn’t, genius. You’ve always been a terrible liar.”

“...Hmph...” OuRyuumon replied, still a bit annoyed but not denying what Alphamon said either.

The smile faded. Alphamon knew the problem wouldn’t go away that easily. “OuRyuumon, look...” he spoke, sighing. “The decision I made wasn’t a personal one. Examon was the type of digimon I needed this particular time. He’s logical, calm, and has long-range capabilities. Plus, I’ve been trying to diversify the knights a bit to make some of the other members more open-minded.”

“But you still won’t make me a Royal Knight along with Examon...” OuRyuumon said knowingly, looking over at Alphamon.

Alphamon grimaced, feeling a tinge of guilt at OuRyuumon’s words. “...Not yet...” he murmured, his turn to look off to the side. He forced himself to look back at the dragon. “But... that doesn’t mean I don’t value you. You’re still a fantastic warrior and my trusted advisor and friend. It’s just... you need to mature a bit first. You don’t take things as seriously as a Royal Knight should and you tend to get worked up easily.”

“...And Dukemon doesn’t do those things?” OuRyuumon asked sarcastically, giving him a flat stare.

Alphamon couldn’t help but chuckle lightly. “I guess, but not to your degree...”

“It just doesn’t seem fair, Alphamon. I’m older than a lot of the knights here! Doesn’t that give me maturity points?” he asked.

“Age doesn’t mean maturity,” Alphamon replied.

OuRyuumon grunted. “Besides, I thought you liked how I wasn’t too serious all the time,” he said with a very faint grin.

Alphamon smiled. “There’s the Alphamon who’s your closest friend and the Alphamon who’s the leader of the Royal Knights. For these decisions, I have to be the latter.”

The tall, gold dragon digimon sighed reluctantly. “...Fine, well... whatever,” he muttered, glancing away. “As long as you consider me in the future.”

Gripping OuRyuumon’s shoulder a bit tighter, Alphamon smiled. “Good...”

“I don’t have to like Examon though... And I’m still mad at you, you know,” OuRyuumon explained with a small grin.

“You are?” Alphamon asked raising an eyebrow.

“Very,” he replied with a smirk. “No sex tonight, by the way.”

Alphamon frowned and looked at his significant other. “Now that doesn’t seem fair.”

“Well, Alphamon, now you know how I feel,” OuRyuumon replied, his grin growing wider.

Alphamon couldn’t help but grin a bit as well. He put his other hand on OuRyuumon’s face and caressed it lightly. “Are you sure I can’t make you change your mind...?” he asked, slowly leaning up towards the dragon.

OuRyuumon smiled and started to lean down as well. “Weeeeelllll...”

“Alphamon!” a voice called out from down the hall.

Alphamon tensed up and recoiled away from OuRyuumon, blushing behind his helmet and instantly pulling his hands away. OuRyuumon pulled back as well, blushing hard and turning towards the voice.

They looked down the hall and saw a brown knight with blonde hair striding towards them with purpose in his step.

“D-Duftmon,” Alphamon stammered, trying to regain his composure.

Duftmon walked up to them and looked between the two. “I need to speak with you. Are you busy?” he asked, looking at Alphamon.

“No... We were just talking...” Alphamon said, looking at OuRyuumon sheepishly.

“I see,” Duftmon said. “In that case, you’re doing nothing important enough that you can’t be pulled away from it for a few minutes.”

OuRyuumon rolled his eyes, and Alphamon rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh, I’m not sure I would put it like that... but we can talk, I suppose.”

“Fine. Well...” the leopard knight said, but trailed off when he saw OuRyuumon still standing there listening in. “Do you mind?”

“Kinda, kitty cat,” OuRyuumon responded, folding his arms after a tense pause. He was rather annoyed at Duftmon for interrupting his and Alphamon’s intimate moment.

“OuRyuumon,” Alphamon said, trying to keep the two from getting into another argument.

Rolling his eyes again, OuRyuumon sighed. “Fine, I’ll be in my room if you need me and want to apologize some more,” he said, flying down the hallway.

Duftmon scoffed and turned back to Alphamon. “So, Alphamon, about your newest--”

“If this is about Examon, no, my decision is final,” Alphamon said, his voice expressing that finality.

“What?! But Alphamon!” Duftmon protested. “He is not even like us! And I do not have a good feeling about him.”

“You’re going to have to deal with it, Duftmon,” he answered. “Not every digimon you work with is going to be the way you want them to be. In fact, you were the one who said that we needed a knight with long range supremacy.”

Duftmon frowned deeply. “Yes, but-“ he stopped, staring incredulously at Alphamon. “Oogh!” he growled, balling up his fists and turning around in a huff. He looked over his shoulder, refusing to admit defeat. “You’ll see, Alphamon. He is going to cause problems for us.”

With that, Duftmon stormed off down the hall, leaving Alphamon sighing and shaking his head.

Alphamon walked down the hall as well, suddenly feeling a headache coming on. “’Give them time’ Omegamon says...” he muttered to himself. “If I don’t go insane by then, that is...”

-

Duftmon galumphed up the stairs to the second floor, fuming over Alphamon. He didn’t know how Alphamon could make such a foolish decision, at least to him.

“Sleipmon may be bearable, but how could he think this Examon digimon is a good idea?” Duftmon muttered to himself as he strode into the leisure room, hoping to distract himself by getting back to where he had left off in his book.

He stepped into the room and saw UlforceVeedramon, Magnamon, and Craniamon occupying the room – the first two playing a game of pool, while the latter watched. Duftmon’s eye twitched with plain irritation now that he had to deal with more people instead of being able to read in peace and quiet.

“Terrific...” he mumbled, his eyes narrowing further with annoyance.

Aside from a pool table, the room also held three couches, a shelf with various things on it, a ping pong table, a chess table, darts, a digimon fooseball table, among other things.

Duftmon had walked in just as Magnamon was taking a shot with the pool stick, distracting the shorter knight. Magnamon let out a frustrated shout as he scratched the pool table with the stick and caused the white cue ball to bounce over the side of the table and onto the floor.

“Darn it!” He pouted, pulling back and accidentally elbowing another of the balls into a socket in the process. He blushed, and then ran to the other side of the table to get the ball.

UlforceVeedramon chuckled and picked up the ball that Magnamon had accidentally elbowed. “That’s too bad, Magna. On the other hand, it was only a matter of time before your balls dropped, right?” he teased, winking.

Magnamon chuckled a little and picked up the white ball. “Very funny, Ulforce,” he said, tossing him the white ball for his turn.

Duftmon merely shook his head with disdain at what he viewed was a tasteless, uncouth joke. He walked past the ping pong table over to a couch where a book was lying on one of the cushions. He took the book, sat down, put his feet up on the cushions and opened the book to where he left off.

Craniamon took off his purple bracers and folded his arms, looking over at Duftmon curiously. “I’m surprised to see you here after earlier. I would have thought that you would be hiding away in the library or your room about now,” he pointed out, grinning slightly.

“Hmph,” Duftmon grunted. “I’m trying not to let my day be ruined by a poor executive decision, if you don’t mind.”

“You’re not going to whine about Examon for a week like you did with Sleipmon, are you, Duftmon?” UlforceVeedramon asked, grinning as he took a shot and sunk a ball into a pocket.

Craniamon looked over at UlforceVeedramon. “I was under the impression that you didn’t care for Examon either.”

UlforceVeedramon smiled. “Well, yeah. But that’s because, unlike Sleipmon, he’s on a high horse... which is kind of ironic when you think about it,” he joked, chuckling a bit. “I mean, ‘The Dragon Emperor’, really? It’s about arrogance, not his species, unlike two digimon here I know.” The tall, cobalt knight glanced at Duftmon and Craniamon with a small smile. He then looked at Magnamon. “Your move, buddy,”

Magnamon nodded and took aim. “His appearance shouldn’t matter. Alphamon chose him because he would be a good knight. Isn’t that enough?” he asked.

“Maybe for you two,” Duftmon said, reading his book as he talked. “But we Royal Knights have an identity to uphold in the Digital World. It’s almost as bad as having the walking time bomb among our ranks.”

“And who is this ‘walking time bomb’?” a voice said from the door.

The four turned and saw Dukemon storming into the room, glaring at them with narrow, golden eyes. Magnamon gasped, UlforceVeedramon’s and Craniamon’s eyes widened, and Duftmon merely looked back at his book.

“D-Dukemon!” UlforceVeedramon greeted, suddenly blushing and smiling sheepishly, trying to cover up his nervousness. “Uh, hey. We were just playing pool here.”

“And slagging Examon off behind his back,” Dukemon growled, glaring at UlforceVeedramon, Craniamon and Duftmon.

“We were just talking, Dukemon,” Magnamon said, trying to mediate the situation the best that he could. “Some have objections, and some don’t...”

Dukemon sneered at Duftmon and Craniamon. “It’s this close-minded thinking that will give us a bad name! All you guys see is a dragon digimon, but you haven’t even attempted to spend any time with Examon! Same goes for you, Ulforce. If you spent more than five minutes with Examon, you’d see that he’s not the arrogant egomaniac you’re making him out to be.”

Magnamon frowned. “Dukemon, I agree with you, but getting mad isn’t going to help.”

Duftmon looked over at Dukemon with a cold stare. “And you’re such an expert on this Examon digimon how exactly?”

“I actually spent the better part of the day walking and talking with him instead of judging him on what I thought I knew about him,” Dukemon spat, returning the glare.

“Uh, sorry, Dukemon,” UlforceVeedramon said, rubbing the back of his neck, smiling awkwardly.

Dukemon nodded at UlforceVeedramon and turned to Craniamon. Craniamon folded his arms and looked away. “I’ll reserve my judgements for now, but he has yet to prove himself to me,” he responded, a bit of antagonism in his voice.

“Fine,” Dukemon said, then turning to Duftmon.

Duftmon stood up with his book and walked towards Dukemon. “It’s become noisy in here. I think I will take my reading somewhere less unpleasant,” he said, completely ignoring Dukemon as he brushed by him to go into the hallway.

Dukemon growled and started to turn around but UlforceVeedramon placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “Forget him, Dukemon. You know how he gets,” he said with a smile. He then raised the pool stick. “You can play Craniamon next, and the winner will face the winner of this match, which will be me.”

Magnamon nodded. “Yeah. Wait! Hey! Ulforce!” he complained.

UlforceVeedramon laughed and even Craniamon chuckled a bit. Dukemon managed a grin, but it faltered after a few seconds when he rubbed his chest with his hand.

“Say, where is Ex-sama anyways, Dukemon?” the taller, blue dragon knight asked, apparently insistent on keeping the nickname he made for Examon despite saying he’d try to get to know him.

“He’s his room getting settled in. I told him to rest up for tomorrow,” Dukemon answered, smiling a little.

Craniamon smirked competitively. “You mean for the proving duel?” he asked, a hint of excitement caressing his voice.

Dukemon nodded. “He’ll be fighting one of us.”

UlforceVeedramon smiled. “I can’t wait to watch that. Let’s see if that title was earned.”

“I wouldn’t mind testing his strength either,” Magnamon agreed.

The crimson knight folded his arms and grinned. “Yeah. I guess we’ll see which of us will end up fighting him tomorrow...”

-

The next morning...

Dynasmon yawned and stretched his arms and wings tiredly. He walked down a corridor of the headquarters, heading towards the training ground behind the castle.

“Still not a morning digimon, I see?” a voice said from behind him.

The dragon man groggily looked over his shoulder to see RhodoKnightmon, along with Omegamon, following him. “Rm. Not really... I don’t know why these practice fights for the newcomers always have to be at the break of dawn.”

“It makes for a pleasant start to the day, I find,” the pink knight replied, smiling.

“I can think of better ways to start the day...” Dynasmon muttered. “Don’t we at least get breakfast first?”

“It’s better to wait until afterwards to eat,” Omegamon explained as they walked. “Whoever’s fighting will have worked up an appetite.”

“Who is going to be fighting Examon, anyways?” Dynasmon asked. “Either of you?”

“Not me,” Omegamon answered. “I’d rather see what he can do from the sidelines.”

“Not I, either,” RhodoKnightmon said, raising his hands to emphasize his shrug. “Unless it’s an operation or mission, I would rather not fight needlessly and require a bath afterwards. However, if Examon and I were – ahem – clashing in the bedroom, well, that would be a different story,” he added with a chuckle.

Dynasmon sighed and shook his head. “I would rather he was a woman...”

“Uh... Anyways...” Omegamon said, clearing his throat, looking a bit uncomfortable at the topic of discussion. “What about you, Dynasmon? Are you going to test your mettle against him?”

“Some other time, Omegamon,” Dynasmon replied tiredly, scratching the corners of his eyes with his claws. “Too early in the day...”

“Would you be saying that if our headquarters was attacked right now?” Omegamon asked.

“No, he’d probably demanding that the assailants make him an omelette,” RhodoKnightmon said, grinning at Dynasmon.

Dynasmon grumbled and opened the door at the end of the hallway, walking outside. The trio walked into the morning sunlight. A beautiful, pink sunrise painted the sky and caused the dewy grass of the wide, open training ground to shimmer. The training ground was very spacious and covered with grass, giving plenty of room for the knights to move around and practice with the full extent of their attacks without having to worry too much about damaging the headquarters. There were several archery targets, digimon-shaped practice dummies, and other weapons-training equipment too, some simple and some high tech.

They walked over the grass towards the center of the training grounds. Waiting there were the other eight Royal Knights plus OuRyuumon.

“My guess is that Craniamon will fight him,” RhodoKnightmon said to the two as they walked towards the group. “He’s so competitive. He would never turn down a one on one duel like this.”

“I’m sure he’ll at least want to,” Omegamon concurred, walking forwards and nodding at Alphamon and the others as they grew near.

“Good. Everyone’s here,” Alphamon said, looking around at them. His eyes rested on the newly joined Royal Knight. “You’re probably wondering what we’re doing, Examon.”

Examon nodded. “Dukemon gave me a vague idea, but…”

“Okay. In that case, I’ll explain,” Alphamon said. “All of the Royal Knights are very skilled. New knights are often slightly behind us, so we have a practice battle to see how the newcomer can improve on their combat technique. You’ll be fighting one of us. Whoever downs the other knight is the winner.”

Sleipmon nodded, smiling at Examon. “Don’t worry if you don’t win. I had my ass handed to me by Craniamon when I first joined, but I’m much better now thanks to their advice and plenty of training.”

Examon nodded silently. He thought about it for a few moments before turning back to Alphamon. “How does this work? Do we use our weapons or attacks?”

Alphamon smiled a bit. “Our resident technician worked through the night installing a data program for your weapon. It’s completely removable.”

The crimson dragon raised an eyebrow. “Data program?”

“He installed data into your Ambrosius which makes all of your attacks only release an electric shock upon contact instead of their regular destructive effects. The program also dulls your weapons’ sharp edges and also gives them the shock feature. So yes, you’ll be allowed to use your attacks and weapons along with your bare hands.”

Dukemon grinned and put his hand on Examon’s shoulder. “Expect to feel very sore afterwards, Examon,” he told him, winking at him playfully. “Especially since your opponent is going to be me.”

Examon blinked with surprise.

“What?!” Craniamon protested, stepping forwards. “I was planning to fight him, Dukemon!”

“You snooze, you lose, Craniamon,” he told the purple knight, grinning.

“That seems like flimsy logic for why you get to fight him,” Craniamon replied, folding his arms and glancing at Dukemon out of the corners of his eyes.

“Okay, can you think of a reason why you should fight him over me, aside from the fact that you want to?” Dukemon asked, smiling knowingly.

Craniamon grumbled, knowing that Dukemon had him there. “Err…”

“Then it’s settled. Besides, you would just get worked up if he ended up getting a hit on you. I remember you forced yourself to train all through the day and night when Sleipmon managed to break your guard during his practice fight with you,” Dukemon pointed out.

Alphamon nodded. “Dukemon will be Examon’s opponent. It seems only natural. He was the one who first met Examon.”

UlforceVeedramon smiled. “It’s one red dragon knight with a lance against another,” he pointed out amusedly.

Dukemon chuckled a little. “Guess so. Now can you guys give us some space so we can start?” he asked, taking his Gram lance and his Aegis shield from his back and holding them.

Sleipmon nodded. “Let’s go watch from the sidelines,” he said cantering over to the side of the training grounds, giving Examon and Dukemon plenty of space. The others followed him.

Examon also removed the Ambrosius from his back and held it in his claws, inspecting. “Electric charges, huh?” he asked.

“Yeah. Trust me, they still hurt. I’ve seen them bring even Alphamon to his knees,” Dukemon assured him. The knight turned around and started walking away from Examon, his cape flowing behind him.

“You’re still not going to take off your cape?” Examon asked with a light grin.

Dukemon looked over his shoulder and winked. “I’m surprised you would even ask!” he laughed, walking until there was a large distance between the two. Dukemon turned around, raising the Aegis shield in his left and poising the Gram lance in his right.

Examon smirked and stretched his Caledfwlch wings – or rather, the sentient wings stretched themselves in response to Examon’s brainwaves – and he gripped his Ambrosius lance readily. “I’m not going to go easy on you because we’re friends, Dukemon,” he told him.

Dukemon smirked and studied his opponent carefully, noticing the slight movement of the dragon’s wings. “Good, because I wasn’t going to hold back on you either. I’m going to give it to you, newbie.”

“We’ll see…” Examon replied calmly. Even if he was up against a seasoned Royal Knight, he wasn’t about to lose perspective because of it or the nervousness that might accompany it. He simply saw this as just another battle, Royal Knight or not, and friend or not. He wasn’t about to let any emotional attachment get in his way or cloud his judgement. He would hold nothing back.

From the sidelines, Omegamon looked over at Alphamon. “Does Examon have a chance to win?” he asked.

“…I’ll give him a ten percent chance of winning,” Alphamon replied, glancing at the white knight. “If Dukemon is generous and doesn’t call upon Grani.”

“And if he does?” asked Omegamon.

“Then it’s not a matter of if he will lose, but how long it will take,” Duftmon added, folding his arms and watching the two dragon knights studiously.

Alphamon nodded with agreement. “…Begin!” he suddenly called out to the two.

At the voice, Dukemon started charging forwards nimbly, shockingly nimble given the heavy armour, shield and lance he carried. Examon’s wings twitched and suddenly started flapping powerfully, carrying him into the air to give him a height advantage. He knew that Dukemon couldn’t fly on his own, so he could just fire his attacks down on Dukemon and would only have to worry about dodging Dukemon’s ranged attacks.

Dukemon’s eyes narrowed when he saw Examon ascend. “You think I’ll let you?!” he shouted, forcing his left arm forwards so that his arm slipped out of the Aegis’ belt buckles. Before it could fall to the ground, Dukemon grabbed the rim of the shield and started winding his arm back. As he sprinted, Dukemon grunted and threw the Aegis hard into the air like a giant metal discus.

The shield cut through the air to the place where Examon was about to rise to. Examon was momentarily stunned at such an aggressive attack, and knew that he had to right himself, but even the sentient Caledfwlch couldn’t react quickly enough to avoid the fast and skillful throw; He tried to move his chrome digizoid-plated wings to shield himself, but wasn’t able to.

The metal rim of the spinning shield slammed into Examon’s collar, ripping a low, gargled growl from his throat. The Aegis’s impact alone was painful enough, but then he felt electricity surge from the shield and course through his body. He wasn’t expecting the shock. The dragon was thrown backwards through the air, too stunned from the impact and the added electricity to catch himself. Clothes-lined from the attack, he plummeted to the ground and landed hard on the grass with a grunt.

Dukemon smirked and continued charging the downed dragon. Examon grunted and raised his head, refusing to be defeated yet. “Without his shield, he can’t defend,” Examon noted in his mind. He narrowed his green eyes and aimed the Ambrosius lance. “Avalon’s Gate!”

He fired six shells in a row from the lance, spreading the shots out in a fanning motion, both upwards and to the sides, so there would be no way that Dukemon would be able to dodge them without getting hit by at least one.

Dukemon saw all the shells flying towards him. They both knew would give him a strong electrical surge instead of their usual effects, and he also knew that he couldn’t avoid all of them. His golden eyes twinkled behind his helmet.

Since he was sure that Dukemon getting shocked would stifle the knight’s attack, Examon took the opportunity to stand to his feet. While doing so, he watched the shells soar towards his opponent. His eyes slowly widened with shock when he saw Dukemon reach over his shoulder and unbuckle his red cape in the face of the oncoming munitions.

Confidently, Dukemon swung his left arm out in front of him, the cape flapping in the breeze and wrapping all seven of the shells in its folds as it was pulled off to the side.

Examon nearly allowed his jaw to drop, watching as the cape bundled and diverted the shells he fired. “Amazing. He actually used his cape as a shield,” he thought, staring ahead of him, unable to see Dukemon behind the fluttering red fabric.

Lightning Joust!” Dukemon’s voice called out from behind the cape. The cape flew to the side to reveal Dukemon aiming his lance at Examon. It sparked with electricity, which was then sent surging towards Examon at a weakened strength.

Gritting his teeth, Examon quickly cloaked his armoured wings in front of him. He grunted in pain upon feeling the lightning go through his wings, but it was better than being hit in the body again. He opened the Caledfwlch up when the attack ended, so that he could counterattack, but saw Dukemon sprinting over the grass, closing in by the millisecond.

Not having time to aim since Dukemon got so close in so short a time, Examon aimed from the hip and squeezed the trigger of the Ambrosius, just as Dukemon got into point blank range.

The lance fired, the tip brimming with red light. “Pendragon’s G-Grwah!”

The laser fired strongly, grazing Dukemon’s side and sending electricity coursing through the crimson knight, but he fought through the pain and pushed the Ambrosius aside, running up to Examon and driving his gauntlet-covered fist into the end of Examon’s horned snout.

The force sent Examon flying in reverse and he landed on his back, blood trickling from his nostrils down his snout and into his mouth. He narrowed his watering eyes at Dukemon, who slowly approached while wincing and aiming his lance at Examon. “You haven’t won yet,” he growled at the veteran Royal Knight.

Examon suddenly whipped his lengthy tail out and wrapped it around Dukemon’s ankles before pulling back strongly. “Wh-Hey!” Dukemon shouted, losing his balance and falling on his backside.

Grinning slightly, Examon raised his lance at Dukemon again, who was far enough to be in range now that he punched Examon back. “Pendragon’s Glory,” he spoke, his voice still composed despite the odds. Another beam ripped from the lance and hit the middle of the curious looking symbol at the center of Dukemon’s chest armour. Dukemon snarled loudly with pain as the shock tore through his system and there were some surprised and concerned whispers among the Royal Knights.

As Dukemon writhed, Examon slowly stood to his feet. The white and red humanoid knight wouldn’t be taken lightly, though. Through the pain and numbing discomfort, Dukemon pressed the dulled end of the Gram against Examon’s tail, which was still coiled around his ankles, and he sent electricity coursing up its length to Examon’s body. “Light…ning Joust!”

The dragon snarled and grimaced. He was forced to release his tail from Dukemon, but he refused to be taken down to his knees by the pain. Dukemon stood up and ran at him, closing the gap so that Examon couldn’t use his ranged attacks.

Not this time,” Examon thought. He turned his body and swung one of his armoured Caledfwlch wings, bashing Dukemon to the side.

Dukemon grunted and went into a somersault, coming back up on one knee. He saw his Aegis lying in the grass not too far away. Then he noticed Examon raise his lance at him again, prompting him to dive for the shield.

Pendragon’s Glory!” Examon called out, firing another powerful beam from the lance.

Dukemon landed beside the Aegis, grabbing it before he even hit the ground and raised it up in front of him. The laser reflected off the durable shield, putting immense pressure of Dukemon’s arm, but it rebounded harmlessly into the air. When the attack was over, Dukemon grinned and aimed the face of the shield towards Examon. The triangles around the center of the shield began to light up one after the other.

Final Elysian!” he shouted, the shield lighting up with glowing white power.

Examon’s eyes widened. “What the…?” A strong beam surged from the shield and Examon barely had time to brace himself as his body was consumed in the blast. He felt electricity shocking him all over.

When the blinding blast of light was over, Dukemon ran up to him, kicked one of his wings to the side and slammed his shield across Examon’s face, sending him flying onto the ground. Examon groaned and then saw Dukemon jump high into the air. The knight landed on top of him, with the knight’s boots on the wings that extended from Examon’s arms, so the dragon’s arms were pinned.

Dukemon drew the Gram back and grinned at Examon.

“I win.”

He rammed the tip of his lance into Examon’s chest, sending a blast of electricity through the dragon knight’s form again. Examon growled in pain and, once the shocking stopped, laid his head back into the ground with reluctant defeat and exhaustion.

“Dukemon is the winner!” Alphamon’s voice called out.

Dukemon grinned and placed the Gram lance and Aegis shield onto his back. Chuckles and claps came from the other Royal Knights as they walked over to the two digimon. Several of the Knightmon who were training and on guard duty had decided to watch the action too.

“You bet on Examon. You owe me fifty digidollars, Magna,” OuRyuumon said, grinning at him.

Magnamon smiled. “It’s okay. Just take Ulforce’s,” he said. “He bet me that Examon wouldn’t get a hit in on Dukemon.”

UlforceVeedramon frowned. “Damn… Oh well. Better luck next time, I guess,” he said with a chuckle.

Examon panted with exhaustion. Blood trickled down from his nose and the corner of his mouth and it started to cake his scales as it dried.

Dukemon stepped off his wings and kneeled down, grinning. “Hey, you actually did better than I thought you would, Examon,” he explained reassuringly.

The dragon grunted and propped himself up on his wings slightly. “You’re… really strong…” he said, breathing heavily.

“We all are pretty strong,” Alphamon explained. “You just need to train and practice with us. It won’t be long until you’re on the same level as us too.”

Dukemon grinned, nodded and stood up, outstretching his hand to Examon. “Welcome to the team, Examon.”

Despite his bloodied face, Examon grinned faintly and took Dukemon’s hand, getting pulled to his feet by the knight when he did.

“Thank you…” he said, looking at them. “I won’t let you down.”
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