Ascent – Part 9

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

“Amon!”  She gurgled, feeling the darkness reach in and tear at her spirit as she was battered back and forth against the walls and floor of the tower. 

He was still trying to hold on… as if he could somehow command these unnatural powers.  She saw him desperately reaching out flailing to control what was not his. 

But they did not belong to him…. She couldn’t understand why he could not grasp this.

It hurt so much as she felt the pain of each collision with the walls.  And she knew that the blood she tasted in her mouth was real as her form was being consumed.   She wanted this to stop with all her will and might.  But this was his mind and soul.

Scylla couldn’t do this for him.  Amon had to do this himself.  He had to let go of the past.

There was only one thing she could do for him now.  She reached out with her tiny arm, trying to reach for his hand against the torrent of darkness, calling with all her strength.

“You can’t control this… you have to let go.”

It was the hardest thing she had ever done in both of her lives. 

She had to trust Amon.

-Is this one a distraction?-  A distorted voice that was meant to sound like his own laughed wickedly in his ears. -We don’t like distractions from our work, do we?-

Amon watched with an overwhelming feel of helplessness as he saw Scylla reel back from blow after blow. Hoarsely, he shouted at the aether, commanding. Demanding. Fighting to control it.

But it would not heed him.

In desperation, the Allagan swept his hand out, carefully forming a tiny dome of ice over Scylla to shield her. Why it was always ice he used to protect, he didn’t know. For the moment, this seemed to hold the darkness back from further attacks, but he had no idea how wounded she was from the damage she’d already taken.

Her words rang in his ears.

You have to let go.

But to let go meant to turn his back on Allag. To everything he struggled so hard to build.

Yet, as he stared up into the darkness, he felt himself standing on the edge of a choice only he could make.

Who was Amon of Allag?

Was he the man who wanted to be a hero to his people so much that he’d go to any length, commit any sin, to see that done? And in the process, all he’d achieved was the destruction of all he cared for.

His golden eyes slid to where Scylla lay.  

Would she pay for his choices again? Just as his friends and family all had done?

His thoughts paused and lingered on the memories of those he’d lost. In his heart, he’d thought that to press on – to revive Allag – had been the only way to keep them alive. But they weren’t there right now. Because of him.

And Scylla was.

“I created you,” Amon told the raging aether in a low, steady voice. “You belong to me. I am your Master, so you will do as I say.”

Laughter capered on the swirling shadows. An unpleasant sound, scoffing at him.

He reached his hands for the darkness, as if to beckon.

-Of course, Master.-

The voices dripped with scorn. The scoffing of a predator who only drew near to its prey to consume it.

How could I have been so blind?

As the aether spiraled into his grasp, Amon took in a deep breath. He didn’t know if this would work. He didn’t know how to physically let go. But he hoped that this being a place created of a mind-space, his will would be enough.

“As your Master, I command you…” 

He threw every bit of desire into the next words – all that wanted the power and the glory – all the pain that had built up due to his pride and ambitions.

“BEGONE!”

His voice echoed dramatically through the mind-scape, more commanding than any single word he’d ever spoken on stage. Instantly, the darkness recoiled, screeching in incomprehension – shocked that it was being rejected.

Take the power. Take the strength. Take the magic. Take the glory. Take the knowledge. Take the Empire.

It was so hard.

Take Allag.

But as he released these, one after another, he watched the darkness draw back, as if siphoned away by something outside of himself. No doubt, the crystal that Ben held was doing its job once again.

To give all this up left something hollow in his chest. A pang of loss that he didn’t know if he could fill with anything else.

Then he looked over to Scylla. With a wave of his hand, the ice shimmered peacefully away.

Amon had other things to worry about. The Princess needed tending. 

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