When Koh let Amon out of the room later that afternoon, he instantly saw she had taken him back to Mor Dhona. That made sense… Koh’s research group was located there, after all.
At least she’s decided I’m not worth keeping locked away.
Then, as he stretched to shake out the kinks in his system, he glanced up to see none other than Ajir sitting on the other side of the main room. Amon felt his body tense at the sight of the Samurai.
The dark Au Ra got to his feet at that very same moment, his face mirroring the awkwardness. His hand slid his blade out of its sheath slightly, making an audible click. He growled at Koh, “You didn’t tell me you were releasing him.”
Koh being Koh, and not Noah at the moment, looked down, not sure how to respond. “I’ve… tested him. I’ve found him to be non-threatening at this point.”
“That’s not what you told me before,” Ajir glowered down at her.
“It is what I told you before.” She swallowed down her fear and tried to face him. “I said that should he regain his strength, he could be a danger. I’ve accessed the situation and have determined that’s not the case… for now.”
The Samurai’s eyes flicked between Koh and Amon, then back to Koh. He removed his hand from his sword hilt. “You do know he speaks with sweet words and has a charming smile.”
“Yes, I know. I’ve studied his biography for years,” the cat-girl indicated a bunch of dusty tomes on a side table.
“Oh really?” Amon interjected, sounding more flattered than he probably should have.
Ajir didn’t look so certain, “Well, if you are content that he’s not a threat…”
“Why are you still here?” Amon demanded of the Samurai, letting irritation seep into his voice.
Ajir stepped back, looking ready to fight if needed. It felt good to see the big Au Ra squirm, if only just a little.
I don’t know what Noah told him about me, but she’s put the flames of fear under his tail.
“I couldn’t leave until I knew what they chose to do with you,” Ajir spoke slowly.
“That sounds suspiciously like concern.”
The Samurai pursed his lips. “I did what I thought was right, given what I knew.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Amon glanced at Koh who gave a little gasp and flailed her hands. “I think we’ve got things cleared up.”
The cat-girl nodded.
“So… are you… who she says you are?” Ajir approached the question with hesitation.
“I am,” Amon nodded.
“Why are you here?”
“Why am I alive?” The Bard asked with a little laugh. “Because I’d prefer that over being dead.”
Ajir frowned. “You know what I’m asking.”
Amon tilted his head. “My answer stands. I’m trying to make it by just like anyone else.”
“Even though you…” The Samurai didn’t seem to know the exact question he wanted to ask, but this was enough to sense where it was going.
“My home… my people… my life… they’re all gone, Ajir. Nothing I did saved it. Nothing I can do will bring it back.”
The Au Ra didn’t ask any other questions. He was silent for a long time, letting the answers sink in.
Finally, Amon broke the silence, “I assume you’ve told Zuri and Mocho.”
The answer took him by surprise. “No?”
Ajir shook his head. “I left them a note that said I’d gone hunting information on who had set the trap for us. I gave them gil and told Zuri to keep watch over Mocho while he recovered. I told them nothing else.”
Amon wasn’t sure why, but he felt grateful for this. “Thank you.”
The Samurai retorted hotly, “It wasn’t to protect you. This was all for them.”
“Of course,” the Elezen looked down.
“They don’t need to be caught up in this Allagan scheming mess,” Ajir grunted and crossed his arms, sounding more like himself.
“No, they don’t. I agree.”
“That sounds suspiciously like concern,” Ajir noted, using one of Amon’s own lines against him.
“Inconceivable,” the Bard retorted. It sounded fake and watery, even to his ears.
Silence returned, pressing in on them. This was it. The turning point. The moment where someone had to make a choice what was going to happen to them all.
Zuri and Mocho don’t know the truth yet.
That eased his mind somewhat. Especially about Zuri. That meant that all wasn’t lost there… He stopped himself. Was he honestly concerned about his relationships with these people?
They’re all better off if we part ways.
But if they did, where would he go?
Would Mocho recover? Would Zuri be sad? Would Noah and Koh never be free? Would Ajir continue to be a huge stick in the mud?
So many stories, none with endings. Could he really leave before seeing them through?
Amon took a deep breath through his nose, and decided to make the call.
“By the way,” the Bard announced in his most jovial voice, “I’ve recruited us a healer.”
When he motioned to Koh, both the cat-girl and the Au Ra exclaimed in unison, “WHAT?”
“You’re a Scholar, right?” Amon asked Koh. Then he indicated Ajir, “He’s been trying to recruit a healer for our party for a long time. I think his face scares them away.”
“I can’t just…” she began to object.
Amon interrupted, making grandiose motions to his chest. “Living. Breathing. Allagan. Here.”
Her mouth opened soundlessly.
“Can you just let this opportunity to study and document the revival of Amon of Allag walk out the door without you?” The Bard leaned down to her with a grin. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”
By this time, Koh was making all kinds of half-cat-squee sounds under her breath. Her eyes flicked around at all the books and notes and studies… a place that must have been her home… and her little body shook all over with fear and excitement of the unknown.
Finally, just when Amon thought she might burst, Koh exclaimed. “Hold on! Let me get my stuff!”
Then, she rushed to the back room, leaving Amon to grin coolly at Ajir.
“That was mean,” the Samurai told him.
“No,” the Bard said smugly. “’Twas compassion in action.”
Ajir groaned at the poorly rhymed statement. “Why are you here, again?”
Amon grinned all the more, forgetting himself, and clapping a hand down on the Au Ra’s shoulder in a friendly manner. Much to his surprise, Ajir allowed it.