Change of Heart – Part 2

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

“Ah, we are going to be stoic and quiet, aren’t we?”

Scylla shook her head as she pulled the nearby medi-tray over.

“I find it bleakly humorous… most of the time, no one could ever get you to keep that mouth shut. You always reveled in your rebellious little popular streak, with all of your little groupies at your side.”  

Scylla cleaned his other arm, before squinting at the monitor in the distance with a frown.

“Honestly, this isn’t too good of a situation, Amon.  I’m not the technomancer you are, and I’m trying to follow the text from your messy personal notes.”  

She reached into her opposite pocket and rubbed clean the cracked screen of an ancient scarred tomestone, speaking to her prisoner in a rather collegial manner.

“There are some parts missing from the datalog, but I think I can get close enough with a bit of improvisation from the collected Aetheromancy notes.”  Scylla put her hand to her chin in thought.

“Normally, this dusty, half-functioning setting wouldn’t be ideal for an… aetheric-transfer.  But I suppose it will have to do.”  She tapped his nose, before going back to her screen. “It won’t really matter to you in a small while, right?”  

Scylla looked up, before turning her attentions to arranging the micro-lancers.

“Or if it does, you won’t be able to complain about it, anyhow.”

“No, it doesn’t matter,” he told her with little energy to his voice. “The world thinks I’m dead, along with Allag, and everything I ever built. ‘Tis little point in sustaining what’s unwanted and useless in this world. So you may as well get it out of your system and find whatever joy you can… while you can.”

Maybe the strike to his head from the previous explosion still had him dim and woozy. He just really didn’t have any words for the situation. It was a hopeless thing to talk anyway. It had gotten him nowhere before, and Scylla had her mind set on whatever her task was to be.

“Just be mindful of what walking in my footsteps means to you. Once you cross that line, you can never go back. Trust me… I lived it.”

“According to you I crossed that line long ago, right?” Scylla sighed deeply, shaking her head.

“Supposedly I’m a murderess, having personally arranged to slay your forsaken lover.  So perhaps, in your broken little mind, you can take pleasure in the fact that I likely have only a slight chance of leaving this place.”  

She waved her hand towards the long exit in the distance.

“Before your little stunt, I had planned on a graceful exit after being done with you, but you left me with little chance of surviving my way out of Azys Lla, much less this facility.”  She motioned down to the stains of caked blood and charred fabric near her leg.

“But just like everything else Allagan, the end of the last Allagans are not destined to be graceful.”   Scylla held out the small tome, and slid her finger along the screen.  A hologram materialized from lines to light.

“Remember this?”  The mage spun the image around in front of Amon’s nose.

Amon knew that if he took the bait into the conversation about Clio again, it would lead nowhere. Instead, he glanced at the thing that Scylla practically shoved in his face, having to pull his head back for his eyes to focus on the picture. Then, in spite of himself, he gave a slightly broken laugh.

“Biopellet,” he said. “Wasn’t that the outcome of your final-year project? If I recall, you were lauded for developing a brilliant, sustainable method of feeding the living samples in the lab. And though you say you are not a technomancer… yet, you strove to make your mark in the area the same as I did in those days.”

“You do remember!” Scylla laughed. “There were a few false starts!  Remember when I covered father’s lab in a wave of slime?  Our hair was green for a week!”

She turned her face away as the smile quickly faded, trying to hide the sudden pangs of guilt that tightened her chest.

And I’m about ready to turn you into one…

Scylla fumbled a bit with her hands, drawing out the preparatory procedures.

“You’ll be glad to know that there will be no unnecessary pain.   In fact, there will be very little of much at all.   No sight or smell or taste.  Just the dull sensation of touch as you wander aimlessly around this place.”  

She wiped her hands on her healing garb, running her fingers along the soulstone in her side pocket.  It felt clammy and cold, as if condemning her for what she was about to do.

I know he was my patient, but that was before… before all this?  Don’t I have a right to revenge?

She tried hard to reason that she was simply having righteous revenge.  This man had hewn six dogs to her form, chained her to the floor and forced her to eat monster offal.  

He had intended to leave her there for all eternity that way, until she had gone completely mad amongst the howling.  He didn’t visit often, but sometimes, she could see him from the high towers, glowering at her, savoring her fate as nothing more than a monster-dog guarding the tower.   

He’s an enemy to this world!  The world will be a better place without him!

She grasped at the anger, trying to pull it over her memories of the glade and the oath that she had given to heal, not to harm.

That’s it. Hold onto the hatr—I mean, righteous anger!

“There will be no howling or wailing of the hounds.”  Scylla clenched her fists, visage suddenly growing dark.  “Biopellets have no mouth to scream, no eyes to cry useless tears for the death of Allag.  Perhaps it will drive you to a mind-death quickly, a better fate than you left me with.”

“I see,” Amon leaned his head back to prop it against the cold wall behind him. Though he fought to keep the emotion out of his voice, a hint of sadness crept in. “It sounds almost preferable.”

The Elezen closed his eyes, falling into a state of quiet release. “Perhaps even blissful. To have no mind nor thought nor worry.”

He sighed, body completely relaxed, as if willing a sleep that waking life rarely gave him.

“If ’tis what it comes to, I have nothing left to lose. I shall make my peace and pay the price, my dear.”

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