Once Upon a Time

By Time Lady

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Disclaimer:  I do not own Digimon.

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Chapter 1

Once upon a time, there lived a rajah named Gennai, who ruled over the land known as Inputia.  The rajah’s pride and joy were his three beautiful daughters Mimi, Miyako, and Mina. All three princesses, who were renowned for their beauty, manners, and generosity, spent their days learning all the proper things princesses should.  

One morning, Rajah Gennai awoke in his cushioned bed with a strange feeling of foreboding.  He sat up and pushed back the silken draperies.  “Hawkmon!” he called to his assistant.

Hawkmon entered from the hallway and knelt before the rajah.  “Yes, oh illustrious Rajah?”

“Summon my advisors to the throne room at once,” ordered Gennai.

“As you wish, your highness.”  Hawkmon rose, bowed, and went to carry out his monarch’s orders.  The valet then entered to help the rajah dress.

Less than a half-hour later, the ruler of Inputia entered his throne room wearing a bejeweled red turban atop his head.  His loose fitting pants and gold embroidered tunic were of the whitest satin. Around his waist, a jeweled belt held an elaborate sheath and scimitar.  All present knelt respectfully.  Gennai made his way down the red carpet to the cushioned dais that elevated him above the others.  Once he was seated, the rest of those assembled took their places on smaller cushions along each side of the room.

A man of average height, his red hair peeking from beneath his beige turban, took up a position standing at the right of the rajah.  He was dressed in a similar style to the rajah, though his clothes were far less elaborate.  A short Digimon, one that could easily be mistaken for a human in a pointed hat and cloak, stepped forward and knelt before his monarch.

“The winds of change are coming, oh illustrious Rajah,” said Wizarmon, the court mage.

“Is it not just the rains approaching?” asked the man standing behind the rajah.

“A powerful force approaches, my lord vizier,” returned Wizarmon.  “Whether this bodes evil or prosperous I know not.”

“I knew I felt something as I awoke this morning,” said the rajah.  “What think you, Koushirou?”  The rajah turned his head and looked at his vizier.

“My king, this needs more investigation.  Should this be a sign of evil, we should find strong allies to help fight it.  And the strongest allies are those allied by marriage,” returned Vizier Koushirou Izumi with a bow.  A murmur rippled through the assembled advisors.

“Marry off my daughters?” said the king in surprise.

“The vizier’s reasoning is sound,” agreed Wizarmon.  “Three daughters would bring three strong alliances.”

“Their highnesses are all of marriageable age,” pointed out an elderly woman.  “They are no longer girls, but eligible young ladies.”

“Princess Mimi should marry the younger son of a monarch to ensure the succession to the throne is secured,” advised an Elecmon.

“True,” said Wizarmon.

“Why should that matter?” asked Koushirou.

“About a hundred years ago, the heir to the throne of Romssia married the heir to the throne of Integland,” explained Wizarmon.  “When the king of Integland died, his daughter became queen.  She and her husband lived happily in Integland until his father died.  As he was an only child, he had to return to Romssia.  She refused to step down from her throne in lieu of a younger sibling.  Five years later, after the two tried living a month in each country, they ended up living apart. The marriage dissolved and nearly resulted in war between the two countries.”

“I will have to see that the husband Princess Mimi chooses is not the firstborn,” said Rajah Gennai.

“The emperor of the country to the northeast again presses at our borders,” said Panjyamon, the rajah’s chief ambassador.  “The proposition of a marriage of heirs may stem off a long battle with Chata.”

“The country of Romssia far to the north is very strong,” added an elderly man.  “If we did not make a similar offer, there might be war.”

“A cousin of mine is the court mage of Filand, a mighty kingdom in the lands far west of Inputia,” mused Wizarmon.  “If I remember correctly, the ruler of that nation had two sons.  Whether or not they would be interested in your daughters I know not.”

Gennai reclined upon his cushions thoughtfully.  Whispers filtered through the court while the Inputian monarch pondered the issue.

“Koushirou, draft a proposal to be sent to the rulers of all of the neighboring countries,” ordered the rajah several long moments later.  “Do not leave out any of our immediate neighbors.  I would not like to leave any chance for a border war based on our ignoring a noble family.  Panjyamon, you will be responsible for carrying the message to Chata.  Send Leomon to Romssia.   I would still attempt to have them as allies.  Koushirou, have the finest artists paint portraits of my daughters to be sent with each proposal.”

“At once, my king.”  Koushirou bowed, then excused himself from the royal presence.

“Wizarmon, contact your cousin to the west as well.  Then find out whether what approaches is a threat or not.”

“Your wish is my command, oh Rajah.”

---

Along the western shore of Inputia lived a poor, but kindly fisherman named Lou and his wife, Sora.  Early every morning Lou would set out in his small boat with his nets and traps while Sora tended to the small farm that provided for their other needs.  In the afternoon Lou took his catch to market and Sora mended his nets.  Evenings were spent by the fire reading or talking.

That morning, Lou was wrapping the roughly woven fabric of his turban around his head when Sora came to him.  “My husband,” she said, smoothing the fabric of her plain, blue muslin sari. “An ill wind blows today.  Please do not take your boat out.  I fear a storm is coming.”

“The sky is clear,” returned Lou as he completed the last wrap of fabric on the turban.  “If I do not fish, we will have nothing to trade for grain and flour.”

“Please take care,” Sora begged him.  “At the first sign of a storm, return to shore.”

“Of course,” said Lou.  He kissed his wife on the cheek.

---

Rajah Gennai sat on a huge cushion in his personal study examining a scroll.  He ordered servants to bring more silken cushions, then sent his personal assistant Hawkmon to find the princesses.

The three princesses were at lessons with their governess, Kabukimon.  Kabukimon acted as a surrogate mother to the royal children, whose mother had died nearly ten years previously.  The old Digimon was nurse and governess to the children of the rajahs for at least four generations.

Kabukimon had just finished a history lesson when Hawkmon found them in the library.  “Your highnesses,” he announced as he bowed with a flourish.  “Your royal father requests your immediate presence in his study.”

“Is something wrong?” asked Mina, the youngest of the three princesses.

“All I know is that it is an issue of utmost importance,” returned Hawkmon.

“Hurry children,” said Kabukimon.  “Do not keep the rajah waiting.”

The three princesses rose from their soft cushions and followed Hawkmon through the white marble corridors of the palace.  Purple silk draperies hung at the windows and were tied back with golden braids.  Mina saw gray clouds gathering outside.  Finely woven tapestries hung on the walls depicting the four great Digimon as they protected the world.  Most prominent was a tapestry of Zhuqiaomon as the giant firebird led the first rajah and the people to Inputia.  Yet the princesses, who had seen these tapestries nearly every day of their lives, barely gave them a glance.

Hawkmon led them to the heavy wood door at the entrance of the rajah’s study.  Two large, muscular guards in uniform tunics and turbans bowed, then opened the door.  The rajah stood at a window watching as the first raindrops began to fall.  His daughters entered the room and bowed respectfully.  Gennai turned to them, then gestured to the waiting cushions.  Demurely Mimi, Miyako, and Mina sat on the cushions and arranged their saris properly.  

Gennai observed his daughters carefully.  As his advisors had pointed out, they were no longer young girls.  Mimi, with hair like the sun and eyes like amber, should have already been married by now.  Miyako’s lavender hair and chocolate eyes already turned the heads of the heads of the young men visiting the palace.  With a pang, Gennai realized that Mina’s onyx hair and eyes made her most resemble his late wife.  Mina was no older than her mother was when, as a prince, Gennai began to court her.

“My children,” said Rajah Gennai as he motioned for Hawkmon to close the shutters against the rain.  “I must speak with you frankly.  Please do not interrupt and allow me to finish. . .”

---

When the first drops of rain fell, Lou ignored them.  A man whose livelihood depended on catching fish couldn’t worry himself with a bit of rain.  Now that there was thunder and lightning he cursed himself for not heeding his wife’s advice.  The wind threatened to tear through his boat’s sail, so he lowered it, pulled in his nets and traps, and began to row towards shore.  Wind and waves tossed the small craft until all Lou could do was hold on for dear life and pray he could last out the storm.

Waves crashed into the little boat.  Lou screamed as it turned over and threw him into the water.  He struggled to the surface.  Gasping for air, the fisherman flailed about.  His hand came into contact with a piece of wood.  He grabbed on, barely managing to hold on to the board as waves tried to force him under.  “Why oh why did I not heed Sora’s warning?” he lamented.

Despite his struggles, Lou began losing consciousness.  His grip on the board relaxed and he slipped into the water.  Briefly he struggled to the surface.  An enormous, giant figure loomed closer.  Lighting flashed, illuminating a giant, fearsome creature, sending the fisherman into panic.  He slipped beneath the water again.  Were Lou awake, he would have felt something come up under him and carry him to safety.

---

“Political marriage?” asked Mimi in a trembling voice after her father had finished explaining the situation.  Outside they heard the rain falling in torrents.  As the eldest, she knew she was expected to marry, but was not quite ready for the idea.

“I will not force you into marriage,” said Rajah Gennai.  “But it can not hurt for you to meet different princes of powerful kingdoms.”

“I suppose not,” agreed Miyako.  “And if the princes are incredibly cute, it really won’t hurt.”

Mimi and Mina stared at their sister, embarrassed by her brazen comment.  “Would a good heart not be more important?” Mina asked softly.

“I think we should hope for both,” returned Mimi.

Gennai rolled his eyes in exasperation.  At least his daughters weren’t throwing fits about his decision.  “Then,” he said, “the proposals of courtship will be sent out by the end of the week.”  They heard a knock at the door.  “Enter,” the rajah called.

Tentomon, the vizier’s assistant, entered.  He bowed to the rajah, then to the princesses.  “Your highnesses, Vizier Izumi sent me to inform you that the artists will be here after the midday meal.”

“Thank you.”  Gennai turned back to his daughters.  “Have Kabukimon ready your finest saris and jewels.  These portraits will accompany the proposals.”

The princesses sat quietly a moment.  They looked at each other, then said, “Yes Father.”

---

The sun broke through the clouds as the rain slowed to a drizzle, then ceased altogether.  Lou began to regain consciousness.  Without opening his eyes, he tried to take in his surroundings.  He realized he was lying on a sandy surface.  His whole body felt soaked, yet he was able to breathe.  “Have I been sent to Lord Metal Seadramon’s domain?” he asked aloud.

“No my friend,” a gruff voice near him said.  “The Lord of the seas and oceans is not ready for you yet.”

Lou opened his eyes and tried to focus on the area around him.  As he sat up, he realized he was on a barren beach he knew of a distance from his home.  The fisherman shook his head to clear it.  A few pieces of driftwood washed up onto the beach with some kelp.  Looking around, he tried to locate his savior.  The only other creature upon the beach was a large, hairy Digimon roughly the size of a Mammon.  In the center of its head was a large horn.  Two fearsome looking tusks were on either side of its mouth.  Lou would have been afraid had he not seen the sad look in the Digimon’s dark eyes.

“A thousand thank yous would not be enough to show my gratitude kind sir,” said Lou as he prostrated himself before the great beast.

“Please, call me Ikkakumon.  And get up.  I never did like it when people did that.”  Ikkakumon appeared embarrassed.

Lou rose to a kneeling position.  “Forgive me, but my gratitude to you is great.  Were it not for you, my wife would be a widow wishing she had been more forceful in asking me not to leave this morning.  I am Lou, a fisherman, and I am in your debt.  How may I serve you?"

"I am new to these lands.  I could use a guide.  And a place to stay."

"I would offer you my own bed, were you able to fit in it."

"Simply a dry, sheltered place will do."

"There is a large cave in the cliffs by my home.  It is dry inside, though there is nothing more than rocks and debris within," added Lou apologetically.

Ikkakumon considered the fisherman’s offer. “That sounds acceptable.”

“Then let us start out.  It is more than a day’s journey and by the sun, it appears to be midday.”

“If you do not mind getting wet again, I can ensure we arrive at your home before sunset.”

Lou looked at Ikkakumon in surprise.  “Again I can not thank you enough.  To be home before sunset would save my wife much worry.”

“Then get on my back.”

Ikkakumon knelt down upon the sand, making it easier for Lou to climb.  Once the fisherman was safely aboard, Ikkakumon returned to the water.  The large Digimon was able to swim at a better speed than he could have run.  Following Lou’s directions, he set out for the fisherman’s home.
   
---

“I think the pink and gold one,” said Kabukimon as Mimi held up a length of silken fabric.  The nurse turned to where Mina was looking through a box of jewelry.  “Your ruby pendant with your red silk sari,” suggested the Digimon.  “Princess Miyako, your saffron yellow sari with the lavender trim.”

“I can’t find my lavender choli,” complained Miyako.

Kabukimon searched through one of the chests and pulled out the short, lavender blouse.  “It is right here with the matching petticoat.  Palmon, would you help Princess Mimi pleat the front of her sari?  Everything must be perfect for the portrait.”

“Of course,” returned Palmon, one of the companions of the princesses.  She came over to where Mimi was struggling with making the pleats at the front of her sari lay properly.

“Are you sure this is the right thing?” asked Miyako as she put on her choli and petticoat.

“It is high time the three of you were married,” returned Kabukimon.  “Your aunt was married and expecting a child by the time she was Princess Mimi’s age.  Your mother was betrothed to your father when she was Princess Mina’s age.  The rajah has been lenient with you ladies.”

“I still don’t know if I am ready,” said Mimi as Palmon tucked the pleats into the petticoat waistband.

“There’s no saying anyone will accept the proposals,” returned Mina as she put a gold bangle on her wrist.

“Once they see your portraits, they will not be able to resist,” returned Kabukimon.  “I am certain that, by one month after the feast of Zhuqiaomon, each one of you will have a suitor.”

“Will it be someone romantic, who sweeps us off our feet?” said Mimi.

“My magical abilities are limited compared to Wizarmon.  However, I can tell you from what direction your suitors will come.”

“Really?” asked Miyako as she carefully folded the pleats at the waist of her saffron colored sari.

“It will take time to set up,” said Kabukimon.  “When the painters have finished for the day.”  Kabukimon examined each of the princesses as they finished, making sure not a hair was out of place, making sure the jeweled bindi on their foreheads was perfectly centered, and looking to see that their saris were pleated evenly.

---

The sun was beginning to set as Ikkakumon neared a small stretch of beach at the base of huge cliffs.  He and Lou spied a figure pacing along the beach.  As they drew near, Lou could tell it was his wife.

Ikkakumon swam up to the beach.  Once he was on dry ground, he knelt down.  Lou jumped down and dashed over to the woman running towards him. "Lou!" she exclaimed tearfully as she threw her arms around his neck.  "I was so worried!  And then, when pieces of wood began to wash up on the beach. . ."  Sora's tears began to flow freely as she buried her face in his chest.

Ikkakumon blinked back tears of his own as he watched the young fisherman and his wife.  It made him feel his own personal loneliness of the last few years more acutely.  The great beast looked away.  

"Dearest wife, I would have been dead had this kind Ikkakumon not come along," explained Lou.

Sora relinquished her grasp on her husband and turned to Ikkakumon.  "Thank you kind sir for rescuing my husband.  We will be forever in your debt."

"I only wish for a place to stay, a guide until I have become acquainted with this country, and good friends."

"You shall have whatever you wish," returned Sora.

"That which I truly desire you can not give," Ikkakumon said silently to himself.

---

"I thought that would never end," sighed Mimi as she collapsed onto a cushion in the princesses' private chambers.

"At least the artists worked quickly," said Miyako.  "Otherwise we would have to sit for them again tomorrow."

"Zhuqiaomon forbid!" returned Mina as she dropped a bracelet into a jewelry box.  

"After sitting so rigidly for so long, all I want to do is stretch out and take a nap," said Mimi as she reclined back upon the cushions.

"Then I guess, your highness, that you are not interested in learning from what direction your future husband will come," said Kabukimon as she entered the room.

Mimi sat up abruptly.  "You can tell us that?"

"It is all I can divine, but it will tell you more than you know," explained Kabukimon.

"How will we find out?" asked Miyako.

Kabukimon motioned the princesses over to a desk in the room.  The desk was bare save a glass bowl full of crystal clear water and three camellia flowers.  The four cardinal points of the map were drawn on the table around the bowl, matching the true direction.  "The water has been treated with several rare oils and essences."  Kabukimon picked up the three flowers.  "Each of you will drop a blossom into the water.  The direction it floats will be the direction from where your husband will originate."

"You're kidding, right?" asked Miyako skeptically.

"Not everything that works makes perfect sense," said Mina quietly.

“Correct.  Now, who will be first?” asked Kabukimon.

“I’m the eldest,” said Mimi.  “I’ll go first.”

Bowing, Kabukimon handed Mimi one of the camellia flowers.  “Drop it directly into the center of the bowl,” instructed the Digimon.

Nodding, Mimi cupped the blossom in her hands.  She let it go.  The flower landed right in the center of the water.  The princesses held their breath.  The flower stayed stationary for a few seconds.  Then it drifted northward.  It stopped near the mark designating west.  “From the positioning,” said Kabukimon as she looked over Mimi’s shoulder, “I would say that your future husband will come possibly from the northwest.”

“Not just the west?” asked Miyako.

“No.  If you will notice, the flower stopped above the western mark.  Meaning the man will come from a country that isn’t directly to the west, but somewhat more northern,” explained Kabukimon.

“Oh.  I guess I’m next.”  Miyako took one of the flowers and dropped it into the center of the bowl.  Hers floated directly north.

“Looks like there is no question of where your spouse will come from,” said Mimi as she elbowed her sister.

“I guess,” sighed Miyako as Kabukimon handed Mina a flower.

Mina dropped the flower into the water and closed her eyes.  She practically held her breath.  When she opened her eyes, she saw that the flower had moved towards the east, then stopped, as if it didn’t quite know where to go.  It appeared to waver around the eastern end, then moved a bit southeast.  Finally it stopped.

“Interesting,” said Kabukimon.

“But what does it mean?” asked Mina, a frown crossing her face.

“I am uncertain.”  Kabukimon studied the bowl.  “It could be that the man is moving about. . . or that he originated from one country, but comes from another. . . he does come from the east, but where is harder to determine.” Sighing, Mina stepped away from the desk.  “Do not lose heart Princess.  Your future husband will still come.”

---

Lou and Sora had tried inviting Ikkakumon into their hut, but the Digimon was far too large to fit in the doorway.  Sora offered to prepare a meal.  Ikkakumon begged off, saying that the amount he would eat would deplete her meager larder and that he could easily provide food for himself.  What he really wanted to do was rest.  The grateful couple was disappointed, though they knew that the great beast spoke the truth.  A creature of Ikkakumon’s size would eat a huge amount of food in one gulp.

Instead, Lou escorted Ikkakumon towards the cave in the cliff while Sora went to make a meal for the couple.  “The cave extends far into the cliff,” explained Lou as Ikkakumon followed him to the entrance.  “There are many side caverns.  The last time I was inside was when a storm large enough to destroy homes hit the shore.  Will you need a torch?”

“My night vision is far better than a human’s,” explained Ikkakumon.  “I will be fine on my own.  You have not eaten since early this morning.  Go to your dinner.  I will see you in the morning.”

“Are you certain?”

“I will be fine.”

“Then I bid you good evening,” said Lou with a bow.  He turned and walked back to his hut, leaving the great beast alone.  

Ikkakumon looked up at the sky.  A thin wedge of moon hung in the sky.  The new moon had ended only a couple of nights earlier.  Sighing, he entered the cave.  In the darkness, he could hear strange sounds.  “Why am I bothering to do this by myself?”  He shook himself.  Hanging on a golden chain, hidden in the thick fur around his neck, was a small lamp.  With one of his massive forepaws he rubbed the lamp.

A thin stream of green smoke emerged from the lamp.  The stream became a column, which resolved into a creature.  “I am Lampmon of the lamp,” announced the green-skinned genie.  “As per the wishes of my master, Lord Metal Seadramon, as reward for the many times you gave him assistance, how may I serve you?”

“First, light this tunnel.”

The rocky walls suddenly seemed to sprout huge, glowing jewels.  The tunnel was now as light as if sunlight was streaming in.  Ikkakumon moved down the tunnel with Lampmon following.  Not far away from the entrance to the cave was a side cave.  A few items were scattered about, as if this cave had been used as a temporary shelter and abandoned.  After studying this room for a moment, Ikkakumon turned to Lampmon.  “Please furnish this room as a comfortable sitting room, so that I may have guests visit.”

“Your wish is my command.”  Lampmon turned and studied the room himself.  He gestured, sprouting more of the jewel lights along the walls.  Another gesture smoothed and polished the floor, so that it appeared of a dark marble.  The genie pulled a few scraps of tapestry out of a pocket in his gold belt and tossed them at the room.  Those pieces that hit the floor turned into woven rugs, while those that touched the walls became embroidered hangings depicting scenes of ocean life.  Lampmon again reached into the pocket and pulled out pieces of silk.  The scraps of multicolored silk turned into sitting cushions of various sizes, the largest of which was big enough for Ikkakumon to rest on comfortably.  Then the genie picked up some small stones and tossed them into the room.  When they touched the floor, they became tables carved of polished granite.

“Beautiful work,” admitted Ikkakumon.  “Every time I watch you do something I am amazed.”

“Your praise is much appreciated my lord,” said Lampmon with a bow.

Ikkakumon and Lampmon continued down the main tunnel until they came to another side chamber.  A large, flat boulder dominated the center of the huge chamber.  “I believe this room would make an adequate dining room.”

“So be it,” said Lampmon.  As Lampmon worked his magic, the boulder became a polished marble table.  More scraps of silk became cushions and pieces of tapestry became rugs and hangings.  Some small white pebbles became porcelain plates, cups and bowls.  Then the genie covered the entire table with a large white cloth.  Removing the cloth revealed a fine feast.  “My lord, when you have finished your meal, cover the table, then remove the cloth.  The remains of the meal will disappear.  When you are hungry, throw the cloth over the table, then again remove it and the table will be filled with food.”

“Thank you,” said Ikkakumon.  “Again I am in awe of your skills.”  As he looked at the table, his stomach growled.  Had his face not been covered with fur, it would have been bright red.

“Before we continue, I would suggest you eat my lord.  It has been many hours since your last meal.”

“Thank you Lampmon.”  Ikkakumon ate ravenously from the various dishes on the table.  Plates of noodles with pieces of seafood, bowls of rice with vegetables, all tasted as though the finest chefs in the world had prepared it.  When Ikkakumon’s hunger was finally satisfied, he threw the cloth over the table, then removed it.  The table appeared as if it had been newly set for a feast.  “I am still amazed Lampmon.”

“My lord’s praise is music to my ears.”  Lampmon bowed.

They continued on further, turning one small cave into a library full of books and scrolls of many languages, and finally turning one last cave into sleeping quarters.  “You have done much for me,” said Ikkakumon.

“I follow the orders of Lord Metal Seadramon, who wishes to ease the trials of your remaining time.  My lord had told me of your deeds and the consequences were truly immeasurable. All of my service is out of my lord’s gratitude for your assistance.”

“Again I thank you Lampmon.  You may return to your lamp until I call you.”

With a final bow, Lampmon dissolved back into a column of smoke, which trickled into the lamp.  Ikkakumon carefully hid the lamp back under layers of fur.  Then, exhausted from his long day of activity, the great Digimon stretched out on an enormous futon and closed his eyes.

<to be continued>

Author's Notes: Here it is at last, the long awaited epic story that I've been working on for now well over a year and a half (and it's still not done yet ^^; )

This story is an amalgamation of various different fairy tales of a particular genre.  Rather than being based on one specific tale, it fits into the same category as many.  Be warned - things in this story are not always as they seem ^_-

Be prepared - there are lots of international digidestined appearing in this story.  There will also be many new and different couples.  I'm sure you've already noticed that Sora is married to Lou, the Native American digidestined.  Don't ask me for specific couples.  You won't get them.  Couples definitely NOT appearing in this story are Takari, Daikari, Kenkari, Sorato, Taiora, Kenyako, Kouyako and Jyoumi.  As to couples appearing, other than LouSora... you'll just have to wait.

The countries are roughly resemble Europe/Asia, and if I can get someone more artistically inclined than me to do it, I'll actually get a map designed.  

I decided to use a setting reminsicent of India after being inspired by several Indian tales and reading one too many stories set in the generic European fairy tale kingdom.  I decided against the country specifically being India after researching customs and religion.  The country is actually a cross of several different places, but predominantly Indian.

Thanks to all the people who beta read this, including Susan, Renn, Cari, Jack, Fenix, Ajora, Jill, and a few whose names elude me right now.

No thanks to those people who promised me they'd read and still didn't *glares at Jason*.