Amon wasn’t sure how long they’d kept him under. He just knew when he woke that he was no longer in the cold lands of Coerthas. The stone walls here were so non-descript that he couldn’t pin-point anything else about his location.
They’d taken no chances. His hands were locked behind his back with cuffs that he could probably escape from if given enough time. All charlatans could slip handcuffs, after all. It was part of his job description.
Though his head still throbbed from time to time if he turned it too quickly, they’d tended his wound and even left him in the loaner shirt he got from Dragonhead. The only thing that was missing was his mask-hat.
The fact that his face was uncovered for everyone to see made him quite anxious.
“Are you finally awake?”
He recognized the cat-girl’s voice based on the vitriol level alone. She strode into the room with an air of self-control and shimmer of ancient knowledge deep within yellow eyes.
“Where’s my hat?” Amon croaked. He needed water something fierce.
Proving she wasn’t there to torture him, the girl brought a cup of water to his lips and let him drink.
“I wanted to see your face,” she told him. “Amon of Allag… You are much younger than the stories had me expect.”
Amon blanched at her, then tried to play it off. “One advantage of creating your own cloned body is that you get to choose its appearance.”
She furrowed her brow. “Is that what you did? Transferred yourself into a clone. Like you did Xande.”
This girl knew way too much for his comfort. He continued to work on wiggling out of the cuffs that bound him.
“That’s a shame.” She leaned back. “I’d hoped you were this cute when you were alive.”
He coughed. “The design is based on my younger self.”
She just laughed, touching his cheek lightly. “Still as prideful as ever.”
“I wouldn’t want to disappoint,” Amon tilted his head with a rueful grin. This was to cover the fact that he was now half-yanking on his hand to try to free it. “Can I have my hat back?”
“No,” she teased.
“Then, at least, can I have your name?”
The girl pursed her lips, seeming to enjoy the fact that she knew something he didn’t.
“It’s only fair. You know mine.” He pointed out.
She gave a long, exaggerated sigh, and propped herself against his chair. “The Allagans once called me Noah. You may have heard of me.”
Amon’s eyes widened a bit. “Noah.”
The girl smiled, now enjoying his discomfort.
“You mean the Archmagus Noah?”
She looked dismissively at her fingernails.
“The one who built the Crystal Tower and tutored the royal family?”
“Before you made a million clone-slaves of my students, yes,” Noah’s expression turned dark quickly.
He winced. “I… I needed them for my research to…”
“Bring Xande back. Yes, I’ve heard the story.”
Amon began to yank harder on the cuff. He could feel his hand starting to squeeze through, though painfully. “I did what I did to save our people. You weren’t there… you didn’t see…”
“No, I wasn’t,” Noah snapped, no longer fun and games. “You can justify it anyway you want to yourself. But the bottom line is this. You were a monster who used your knowledge and position to experiment on living creatures to achieve what you thought was best for everyone else.”
“It could have worked!” He felt anger rushing through him. He didn’t get angry often, or easily, but she had no right to talk about something she knew nothing of.
“It didn’t work!” Her eyes flashed. “Your actions brought Xande back, and he almost sold our world to the Void! What you did led to the fall of Allag!”
With a furious twist, Amon wrenched his hand free of the cuff. There must have been murder written on his face because as soon as Noah saw him free, she froze, all traces of her fearless attitude vanishing.
“Maybe you’re right! Maybe I am a monster. If so, where does that leave you now?” He loomed huge above her, a fevered light of fury in his golden eyes.
A moment of blankness shifted through her expression. Then, as the cat-girl stared up at him, she became more and more terrified until she burst out in a torrent of blubbering tears.
Part of him wanted to vent his anger, but there was something new… something different within him… that stayed his hand. Instead, he snarled, “What? Can’t take your own medicine?”
“Don’t kill me! P-please!” She wailed and hiccuped at the same time. Huge fearful tears dripped down her face pathetically. “That wasn’t me talking! I can explain! Give me a ch-chance!”
Amon stood there, not really sure where this was going.
“I… I know… I know who you are. What… you were…” The girl choked.
If Noah was playing the innocent little girl act, it was very convincing. But also very much out of character from what he knew of her. He pursed his lips and leaned back, crossing his arms and watching.
“Noah… she showed me.”
That’s when Amon tilted his head in slight confusion. “You are Noah.”
“No…! I’m not! I mean…”
He sighed, seeing that he would get nowhere with her in hysterics. Finding a kerchief, he offered it to her. “Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Promise?” Her teeth chattered as she clung to the kerchief like a lifeline.
“’Tis for your nose,” Amon advised.
Finally, she took a deep breath and tended to her face. Once that was done, she was only marginally better than before.
“Tell me what’s going on,” he sat down, bringing himself to her level to put her at ease.
She scrunched up her face and took a deep breath. “My name is Koh. I’m… I’m… a researcher for the Sons of Saint Coinach. We… We…” She stopped and stared at him again as if realizing. “Oh my gods, you’re an Allagan!”
Amon sighed, trying to route her back to her story, “You’re a researcher who…”
“We study artifacts… collect history… we’re trying to research and document the Allagans.”
“When Syrcus Tower first opened,” Koh began to wring her hands. “I went in to excavate and bring back anything of interest. I found this orb… and…”
He watched her. She was having trouble describing this part.
“I didn’t know that Noah’s spirit was locked in the orb. I took it with me… and… that woke her… and…”
Amon’s face blanched, having a sinking feeling of where this was going.
“She takes control of me… when she wants something,” Koh’s voice became smaller and smaller. “It doesn’t hurt… it’s like I’m sleeping. But she does things… sometimes crazy or embarrassing things… and I find out about it later when people tell me what they heard me say or saw me do.”
“Does anyone know?” He heard himself ask.
She looked up at him with soulful eyes. “How can I tell my friends and family something like this?”
And Noah has the gall to call me a monster.
That’s when something dawned on him. “So she’s trapped with you, and you with her. Do you think ’tis part of the reason why she wanted to capture me?”
“I really don’t know what she had in mind, Master Amon. She doesn’t tell me anything I don’t need to know,” Koh shook her head.
This was obviously already too much for the girl to take in, so he decided not to expand on the details. Amon had his suspicions, though.
“So you’ve caught me. What are you going to do with me now?” he asked.
The girl choked, “I… we… can’t stop you… From doing whatever you’re going to do…”
“And what do you think that is?”
“I don’t know,” Koh lowered her head, letting her hair fall in her face. Then she turned to him. “Everything we know about you… your people… it’s so far beyond anything we could ever understand. Noah seems to feel like you’re a danger to Eorzea.”
“I suppose ’tis a fair concern.”
“Are you?” Again with the big, soft eyes staring into his soul.
She’s worse than Zuri.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. It was the first time he’d been able to talk about his situation with anyone. “Things are rather messed up for me right now, too.”
Koh suddenly grabbed a notebook and began to scribble in it furiously. The instincts of a Scholar kicked in. “Can you tell me how you got here?”
Amon pursed his lips, somewhat amused. “I’ll trade you.”
She lowered her pen and blinked at him. “For what?”
“Can I have my hat back?”