Amon’s strength had deteriorated rapidly, leaving him unable to leave bed, much less throw books at a certain offending dragon who now observed everything he did. Through it all, he could sense that Koh was there, working tirelessly to fit the pieces of the puzzle his sudden illness left in her hands.
It was impossible for him to feel much beyond his own pain at that point, but even in his weakest moments, he withheld the truth from her… knowing that if he told the cat-girl what was really happening within him, she would likely turn away.
He tried to tell himself that he did this to ease her burdens. The truth was more akin to the fact that he was afraid the only person who knew enough about him to save him might leave.
When his visions and hallucinations got too much to bear, someone must have given him something to help him sleep. This would have normally been a good idea. But in his state of mind, it only threw him into a nightmarish dreamcape.
Amon recognized the tall vaulted room as a place within Syrcus Tower. The glittering stone walls rose above him on every side, somehow seeming threatening now. His mind swam, trying to make sense of what was happening.
This wasn’t right. The Tower was closed to him. So how had he come to be there?
Looking down at his own form, he saw that he was as he remembered, dressed in scruffy bedclothes. Still very much himself. And feeling so very tiny in the vastness of the Allagan structure that housed beings much, much larger than he was now.
Last time he’d been there, it was from a very different viewpoint.
That’s when Amon heard a sound that caused every muscle in his body to tense. A terrible, vast, almost-mournful howl shattered the air around him, bringing with it a presence of something huge and threatening.
His breath caught in his chest, sending a jolt of pain through his form. It was almost enough to wake him from this predicament. Almost… but not quite.
The heavy sound of armored paws moved across the crystal floors. Amon felt his pulse quicken, as dread kept him from turning to meet what he knew was waiting there.
“Ahhh…mon,” The voice came distorted, like something speaking through a mouth never meant to utter words. “Have you come to gaze upon my beauty?”
He felt a trickle of fear, but more than that, of revulsion bordering pure hate. He knew this voice. He loathed this voice. But even when the hounds were put into place, this did not silence what he detested most.
Scylla always found a way to yap.
Amon slowly turned to face her, schooling his expression to blank away the apprehension he felt. The scent of dog was almost overpowering.
“Perhaps you’ve come to feed the hounds instead?” She taunted, looming huge above him, all claws and fangs and poorly-covered flesh. Somehow, she managed to make a TSK sound as many judgmental eyes bore down upon him. “Though seeing how pitiful you’ve become, you’d hardly make a worthy snack.”
“And you’re nothing but a fabrication of fevered dreams,” he said, trying to convince himself this wasn’t real.
“Ahhhh-mon. Are you dreaming of me?” Scylla teased, the foremost head cackling, an alarming, twisted sound of laughter mingled with barking. Then, the other heads joined in.
Amon was about done with this dream. “More like a nightmare.”
“Good.” She sounded pleased. “Be afraid. You NEED to be afraid.”
“Do you think I’ve ever been afraid of you?” he sneered.
“Oh dear. Dear, dear Ahhh-mon,” Scylla said pleasantly, though one of her heads was snarling in open contempt. “The true question is… which one of us is the real monster?”
The Elezen lowered his brows, but remained silent. He wasn’t going to allow her to bait him into this conversation.
“You… so nice and pretty and shiny… with a new, wonderful life, walking the world once again… as if nothing ever happened,” her tone was light and airy, though slowly each head began to bristle and growl, “Or me, the creation of your malice, hate and envy… a symbol of what your knowledge and power really is? I will be locked into this twisted form for all eternity, known as nothing but a beast to the generations that come after! When my most grave crime… was to displease you.”
Amon curled his lip, almost growling at the dogs in return. But still, he fought to keep his silence.
“There is no regret in your eyes, now is there?”
“No.” He responded, though he told himself he shouldn’t.
“Of course not,” Scylla hissed, a strange sound coming from a canine form. “You would do this again in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?”
“To you. Yes.”
This elicited another chilling laugh from her. “I may have my share of sins on my hands, but the difference between you and I is… I never hid it from the people who dared to trust me.”
Amon opened his mouth, but she continued, talking right over him. She was always annoying like that.
“Here you are, parading about Eorzea, wearing your mask and acting your friendly part. Winning the hearts and minds of others – you were always good at that,” Scylla chuckled, stroking one of her heads to calm it. “So now you pretend to be the wise, benevolent Allagan, who has secretly come as a gift to the poor, ignorant children of Eorzea. There, you show them only what you want them to see… dropping tidbits of your knowledge whenever you wish to string them along… dreaming of the day when they will worship you and raise you up the way the Empire once did.”
“’Tisn’t true!” he snapped quickly.
“My… my… so defensive. Have I struck a nerve?” she tittered at him. “Or perhaps I speak the truth that you don’t want to admit to yourself.”
“These people… some of them… are my friends.” The words were hard for him to say. And they sounded fake as they hung in the air. Like a sentiment he’d borrowed from someone else, one that didn’t fit within his own vocabulary.
“Ahhhh-mon. You know very well your ‘friendship’ never came without a cost. What do you seek to take from them?”
“None of this is any of your business.”
“Of course not. But, I always did pry unwanted,” Scylla said lightly.
The hounds began to bare their fangs, like creatures that could no longer withstand the hunger within them. She started to close the ground between them. Her voice was no longer pleasant, accented with growls and snapping.
Amon backed away quickly, despite trying to prove his courage. This was not going to end well.
Howls rang out in fury as she bore down on him, “You do not deserve a second chance! You who have mangled and destroyed so many lives should not be given another! Your victims demand retribution! Why were you the lucky one?”
The huge maws opened, an acrid scent filling his senses. And just as the fangs closed around him, Amon jolted awake, shivering in the cold silence of his own bed.