“Hello? Are you all right?”
An unfamiliar voice woke Amon with a start.
Did I fall asleep? In the middle of Mor Dhona wilderness?
When he peered around, it sure seemed that way.
And I’m still alive? Drat my poor fortune!
“Sir?” The voice prompted him again.
This time Amon looked up… straight into the face of the most gruesome creature he’d ever seen. He wasn’t a timid soul, and had seen his share of lab-jacket rejects, but this sight caused him to jerk back.
“Did I startle you? I’m so sorry!”
The voice – decidedly a female voice – was coming from the creature’s mouth. Some conglomeration of girl and dragon-void smooshed all together, she could have been something that came straight out of the Labyrinth.
Everything about her was alabaster. Ivory skin. Colorless hair. Horns? Snow-white… scales? Are those scales? And a tail? Really? Hair, scales, and tail?
What manner of creature is she?
If she noticed his scrutiny, which she probably didn’t due to the inability to see his upper face, she didn’t respond. Instead, she gave what appeared to be a genuine smile of relief.
“I thought maybe you were dead when I first saw you propped up like that.” At this point, she was talking for her own sake, since Amon hadn’t replied yet. “What are you doing out here?”
Getting over his initial response of distaste, Amon finally answered with a surprisingly truthful statement, “I came to see the Tower.”
“Oh?” Her eyes lit up. Well, brighter than they were a moment before. Here eyes were the only part of her that wasn’t devoid of color and shown a bright pink-orange. Even in the coming daylight, they held a strange internal glow. “You came out here to seek the stories, too?”
Amon should have known there was danger in the word. But he still said, “Something of that sort.”
She leaned in closer, almost causing him to recoil again. That’s when he saw the pure excitement and wonder in her expression. “Did you find anything? About the Tower, I mean! I want to go there and see it, but I can never get very close.”
For the first time, he noted that she was dressed in plain leather armor, much like he saw the Wood Wailers wear in Gridania. A bow was slung across her back, and next to that hung a tiny, misshapen hand-harp. Nothing a true bard would be dare to be seen carrying.
It told him everything he needed to know.
“You fancy old stories, then,” Amon motioned to the harp.
“Oh… this… well…” She seemed a little shy to admit. “The people of Eorzea seem to think archery and the bardic ways have an overlap. I’m a fairly good shot. Not so good at song or story. But I’m trying to learn.”
He could hear the unyielding passion in her voice. There was a rather refreshing naivety to it.
That’s a lot to tell a stranger you just met in the middle of Mor-Dhona-nowhere.
“The world could use more Storytellers,” Amon admitted.
That may be the only way our struggles are not forgotten.
“Are you a Storyteller?” She asked, words coming with more perception than he’d given her credit for.
“Sometimes.” Amon wasn’t sure how to answer that. “Maybe. Long ago.”
That was all that she needed to hear. She extended one small hand down to him, as if her tiny frame would be able to hoist his much taller form up.
“My name is Zuri,” she told him.
“Amon,” he introduced without flair. He wasn’t sure why, but he took her hand, though he made no motion of getting up.
“Why not come back with me to Revenant’s Toll? I have friends waiting for me there… they’re probably wondering if I was eaten by a nix,” Zuri’s eyes laughed at the prospect, though he’d consider that a pretty loathsome way to die.
Amon attempted to excuse himself from the situation, “I appreciate your concern, but I–”
She quickly interrupted, as if she sensed something under his motives. “Do you have somewhere else to be?”
He opened his mouth, but didn’t have an answer.
No… No I don’t.
Now that he’d established that there was nothing for him at the Tower, Amon really wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. He could always just stay there and mope in the desolate land that had once been his childhood home. Or he could…
His gaze flicked back to Zuri.
“You don’t, do you?” She pressed with an upraised eyebrow.
She has eyebrows, too… tail, horns, scales and eyebrows..?
He sighed and admitted, “No. I don’t.”
“Then…” Zuri’s mouth twitched with a smile as her little hand closed tighter on his. Then she pulled upwards, as if to lift him out of the pit he’d dug for himself.
For some reason unknown to himself, he got back on his feet. Standing like this, next to the much smaller creature, he felt like a tower himself.
This didn’t bother Zuri in the least. She beamed up at him like someone who had just made a new friend.
What did I just sign on for?
Amon tried not to let a preemptive sigh of exasperation sound. Instead, as they walked back to the outpost, he asked, “So… from what you say… I gather that you’re not from Eorzea?”
“What? Me? An AuRa? Of course not,” she laughed at him gently as they strode down the path towards the settlement. “Where have you been? Sleeping in the Crystal Tower?”