By the time Ajir made his way back to Dragonhead, Mocho was already safely in the hands of the best healers the outpost could offer. That’s one thing the Samurai learned about the Eorzeans, even the strange, somewhat stuck-up Long-ears. Years of battle and hardship had shaped a people who were mostly open to helping others.
That foolish… foolish Lalafell!
The Au Ra only suffered a few minor wounds himself. It was nothing compared to the damage that Mocho took, having so recklessly charged into the way of harm.
Mocho was tucked under a pile of heavy blankets when Ajir walked into the healing quarters. The others – Amon and Zuri – were also cared for with blankets and warming drinks.
Zuri was the first to act, springing up, “Aji! We were so worried! Are you okay?”
Amon didn’t speak. The Samurai heavily doubted the Long-ears held the same sentiments of concern.
“Tired. Cold,” he admitted. “But victorious.”
The girl was already putting a blanket around his shoulders. “You need to have those cuts checked.”
“What of Mocho?” Ajir asked, moving her attention off his well being.
“He took a serious blow,” Amon finally spoke. “But the healers seem to believe he’ll recover with some rest.”
As concerned as the Samurai was for his friend’s health, he knew what they all knew. There was not enough gil to pay for these services… or even basic room and food for any short amount of rest time.
This is why we needed a healer and not another blasted Bard.
Ajir couldn’t help narrow his eyes at Amon with the thought.
“Sir,” One of the healers approached him.
“If this is about payment…”
“No, sir,” She tilted her head upward, but it was mostly concealed by a hood. “I wish to talk with you privately about the state of the patient.”
Ajir pursed his lips. Surely the healer had noted his leadership position in the group, and came to inform him of any complications that Mocho might experience.
He tried not to show his worry as he nodded. “Yes, of course.”
The Samurai followed the healer out of the healing quarters. Then out of the main room. Then… outside? And to a small recess, which was darkening as the evening fell over the snow-lands.
For the first time, Ajir began to feel unease. “What’s the meaning of all this? Certainly, news of health couldn’t need for this sort of confidentiality.”
“You’re a bright one, aren’t you?” The healer gave a soft chuckle, then drew back her hood.
She was of one of the cat-clans, with long dark hair and bright orange eyes. Something about the intensity of her gaze made him feel as if she could see all the secrets of his spirit. Though her garb was rather plain, she held the air of someone incredibly important.
He felt his teeth clench. “Who are you?”
“Your employer.” She didn’t explain further. Instead, she just extended a pouch, heavy with coin.
Many conflicting emotions ran through him all at once. This gil could be what they needed to see Mocho recovered. But at the same time, if this truly was the one who hired them to escort the cart into what they now knew was a trap…
What’s her game? Why is she doing this?
Ajir didn’t make a move to take it. “Do you think I’ll be bought off?”
“Certainly not, Mr. Samurai,” she gave a light laugh. “This is payment for a completed job.”
“For leading my company into danger?” He felt the heat in his scales rise. It was all that he could do not to lose his temper right there. “You would have seen them killed!”
“That’s not what I hired the beastmen to do.” She told him flippantly. “They were simply to capture one of your party. But I suppose when one of you killed one of them, all bets were off. Do you blame them?”
“Capture? Capture who?” He pressed for more information.
“Now, that’s not something I can confide… unless I know that you’re on board.”
Ajir was tired of this game of cat and mouse. “Speak plainly.”
She tilted her head thoughtfully. “You are a man who would do anything to protect your friends, are you not?”
“That is my creed.”
Her eyes flicked up to him knowingly. “What if one of your friends… is something more than they appear. Something that poses this world great danger… should they find a way to regain… things… they lost long ago.”
There was only one “friend” she could be talking about. The name touched his lips, “Amon?”
She smiled in confirmation. It was the expression one would use when praising a pet that had performed well.
“I knew he was trouble,” Ajir grumbled under his breath.
Yet… should I take the word of this stranger at face value? She who would put us all in danger to capture a single other? Amon did protect Zuri and carry Mocho to safety.
Still, when she placed the gil pouch in his hand, this time, the Samurai took it.
“My name is Koh,” she told him. “I am a Scholar of the Sons of Saint Coinach. We are the foremost historians and researchers overseeing the unearthing of the Allagan knowledge and artifacts in Mor Dhona. Perhaps you’ve heard of us?”
Ajir wrinkled his brow.
I wish I’d paid more mind to the on goings in that place. There was just so much to take in.
“Or not. It’s of no consequence,” Koh shrugged.
“Your… organization… seeks to capture Amon,” the Samurai pieced it all together smoothly.
“Again, information I’m not free to share.”
Ajir leaned back, not liking the parts of this he didn’t know. “I might be more obliging should you be a little more free.”
Koh laughed at that. “Is that how it is?”
He just grunted, standing his ground with crossed arms.
“Well, should I enlighten you to your companion’s past identity, you may come to agree with our assessment of him.” She tapped the end of a long, slender pipe against the heel of her boot. “I’ll just say that the Sons of Saint Coinach will pay extremely well for assistance in fully capturing Amon and returning him to Mor Dhona.”
Still conflicted, but also concerned, Ajir bowed his head. Then, he took the plunge. “I’m listening.”
That’s when Koh’s smile turned a little predatory.