This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
It was yet another cool, foggy morning upon the Salty Musketoon. The sailors had been up hours before the blurred-out sunrise, skittering up and down the deck. Other than healing a few cuts and scrapes, Scylla had found herself with very little to do on the journey other than read, contemplate, and count the occasional distant ships crossing the horizon. Each morning, she found herself with second thoughts, wondering why she was running around the whole of the world with an insane mog-brained bard.
As for the bard, he had kept a healthy distance for most of the trip, though the sound of his bardsong was never far at mealtime. Amon was always playing some corny made-up epic tale of tragedy or adventure, feather dancing about as he bantered about with the crew.
But Scylla knew better. She could see he was hiding something. Maybe anger, maybe sadness… or maybe a bit of both. The girl reminded herself to be patient – there was still a lot of ocean to cover, and the truth would come out eventually.
Afterall, bards could never keep their mouth shut about anything.
She chuckled to herself as she opened the 5th Treatise of the Essential Aphorisms of Conjury. If anything, the Padjali reading list would be a good lead-in for a post-breakfast nap.
Amon had no love of the open ocean or the ships that crossed them, so he kept himself occupied, trying to recount songs he heard while visiting Yanxia. The trip had been cathartic, one where he felt like he was finally getting things together in his head for the first time since coming to Eorzea. And now…
It was so easy for that to be washed away. For him to slip back into what he was before.
In the end, he was what he was and there was no getting away from that.
Still, he sought to capture something of that journey, even if it was just in music. Only… this dratted ocean trip was doing a number on his hand harp. It wasn’t the best quality instrument as it was, and being constantly dipped in the ocean wind and damp was making it harder than normal for him to struggle to pick out unfamiliar tunes.
A few sharp and very off notes ripped from under his fingers, which just weren’t doing as they were told today. Almost like he was sliding back into the same frustrated mindset that looped endlessly in a cartwheel of thought and desire. It was hard to center oneself when everything kept swaying to and fro in his head.
Or maybe that was the pitch of the boat. It was hard to tell.
Amon grumbled and set aside his harp, tugging down the brim of his hat and ensuring his face was well-hidden from the crew.
Scylla winced at the repeated broken melody that broke her light reading. She peered over her book, catching sight of the bard. He was obviously ailing, hiding under his hat, curled up in the corner.
Perhaps he had eaten a bit too much fish gruel for breakfast. It seemed to be the most common ailment she treated the passengers for lately.
The girl sighed, rolling up her sleeves, and picking up one of the stray buckets in the corner.
The aphorisms don’t ever speak about these -glorious- parts of being a healer.
The white mage leaned over to look at him while dangling a bucket in front of his face.
“I thought I warned you about gorging on the fish slop, Amon.”
Amon’s head jerked back, not expecting to find a bucket near his face. This one smelt of fish guts and damp vomit, which caused his own gorge to rise in response. He turned to see Scylla standing over him, saying something about food.
“Could you… not hold that infested thing so close to the location of my air intake? I wasn’t feeling queasy until I got a solid whiff of it.”
He shook himself out with a grimace.
“The gruel wasn’t so bad this morning, and I assure you, I measured my portions. I only went back for thirds today.”
“Your string-plucking sounds like you ate double that.”
Scylla put the bucket down and sat down beside the bard, trying to get a look at his face.
“If you’re sea-ill, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. They say that Elezen can be particularly sensitive to the motion of the ship.”
“They say a lot of things about Elezen, I’m sure. I admit, I’ve not heard that one before. Then again, I have as little to do with ships as possible.” Amon frowned uncomfortably as she sat next to him.
He knew sooner or later, on that little ship, conversation was inevitable. And if he didn’t interact with her, he could drum up unwanted suspicion, or even undo all of his coaxing from before.
Keeping it casual, he shook his head, “I appreciate your concern, but I assure you, I’m not ill. All this damp takes its toll on a stringed instrument, I’m afraid.”
He motioned to the harp at his side as if to prove it.
“Amon, you’re fibbing.” The words came naturally as if she had called him out a thousand times before in the past.
She gave a long pause, contemplating the sudden familiar feeling. She waved it off, getting back to the task at hand, examining his fingers.
“It’s not just the instrument. Your hands were shaking… did you drink too much last night?” Scylla huffed as she peered under the hat.
It might explain why he wears that sun-visor all day and all night.