Amon schooled his expression into calmness as Noah’s awareness faded and Koh’s took the forefront. It was always a strange moment of transition as the cat-girls eyes became dull and distant, when one consciousness faded and another began.
Koh blinked up at him, the exhaustion even more apparent now. It took a moment for her to recognize him, then she gave him a weak smile. “Oh… Amon.”
The Elezen leaned forward, sitting on the edge of the bed and gave her a gentle smile in return. “Hi.”
The cat-girl noticed the box in her hands, then glanced back at him. “She didn’t give it to you yet.”
“Noah said that you wanted to do the honors.”
“Yes, I did but…” Koh nodded. “She shouldn’t have waited. You need this.”
“I’m okay for now,” he reassured her. “I think, from what she said, you deserve the right to be the one to give it away.”
At that, Koh got up shakily and came to sit next to him on the edge of the bed. This seemed to take much more energy than it should have, and she almost leaned against him as she held the little box out.
“I’m not skilled at crafting. Nor am I someone who makes artifacts,” the girl said uncertainly, almost ashamed. “Noah did most of the work through me. So I’m sorry. It’s probably not very good… not something up to your standards.”
Amon wanted to chide her for her self-depreciation. But he didn’t think it would help with the state of mind she was in. Noah was right – he should just accept the gift and let her rest.
Koh handed him the box, which he took, and made no ceremony of opening. Inside, he found a choker.
It wasn’t the most exquisitely crafted piece he’d ever seen, but for hands that were not practiced, it was quite good. The metal wasn’t overly ornate, but light and fairly sturdy in design. In the center, a deep blue polished stone highlighted its make, the focus that had been formed from the Syrcus shard.
She watched him, anxious to see his response. As if she was afraid he might turn it down.
“Koh,” Amon said as he pulled the choker from the box. He didn’t hide the surprise in his voice. “This is… far and away much more than I ever expected.”
“Is it okay?” She asked in a tiny voice.
“’Tis glorious!” he exclaimed and made great fuss in putting it on immediately.
Just as he did, the gem-focus lit with a soft, internal glow, instantly connecting into the flow of his own aether. The Elezen experienced a light-headed moment as the world around him became brighter. His pulse quickened and his breath deepened in response.
He felt Koh’s hand on his arm and saw her peering up at him in concern.
Amon shook his head and waved away her worry, explaining, “’Tis natural. ‘Twill pass. The aether has to redirect and settle.”
Just as he said, the focus flickered, pulsed, and then returned to a quiet, balanced state. For him, a sense of relief washed over every inch of his body now that his own energies no longer sought to consume him.
It was a strange sense of… peace.
“There,” The Elezen reassured her. “There.”
“It worked?” Koh held tight to his sleeve.
“Aye. It appears to have done the trick.” Amon gave her a wide grin. “You are brilliant.”
She just blushed at that, too tired to argue or deflect his compliment.
“You are also exhausted beyond measure,” he informed her.
“I… I suppose I could use some rest,” she agreed.
Koh gave a sound of surprise as Amon hoisted her up off the edge of the bed, lifting her easily in his arms. The cat-girl stared into his face, then relaxed at the sight of his easy grin. He gently placed her in the bed.
“The bed clothes were freshly changed today, and I bathed,” he teased, pulling her boots off one at a time, then covering her with a blanket. “So I promise you’ll not catch any Allagan germs from this arrangement.”
She gave a sleepy smile, and didn’t object.
Then, he settled down on the stool and took up his fiddle. Putting his bow to the strings, he played very softly – a now-ancient lullaby that hovered in his long-distant childhood memories.
“’Tis my turn to keep watch over you.”
The song continued to drift through the room, a comforting melody, until long after Koh fell asleep.