This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
“I understand. Your fear is valid… and he does everything to encourage you to be afraid,” Ben sat down in a chair near her bed, head tilted as he worked to pick the proper words to address the situation.
“It may very well be that he could reclaim this power. But from what I see, he makes a fuss and a bluster in front of you particularly… well… because he’s trying to maintain the appearance that he is strong and dangerous.”
The mage gave a chuckle.
“I think the fact that he’s the one in the infirmary, for the second time I might add, after a scrap with you proves exactly how much truth is in his words.
“Amon’s power is not only greatly reduced, but is now a danger to himself. And that terrifies him. He’s doing everything he can to put on an act to prove otherwise… especially for his rival, whom he can no longer match when it comes to magic.”
“A danger to himself?” Scylla gave a bit of fake laughter. “What? Did he trip down the stairs on the way back to the Free Company?”
Ben pulled a slip of parchment that at first appeared to be a placeholder in his book.
“You are aware that Amon consulted an aetherologist about his concerns. At my suggestion. Well, the results have arrived – more quickly than expected. Along with the sample we’d originally sent. Apparently, they didn’t want to keep aether so volatile in their labs, so they returned it.”
He handed the parchment to Scylla.
Scylla ran her hand over the parchment, and carefully unwrapped it, letting her eyes scan down the letter.
Test Results: Unprecedented. The following is fully theory:
We’ve seen this sort of pattern in aether that was violently ripped away from a host, almost released back to its natural form, but then returned to the host in a short succession. This results in turbulent, wild and uncooperative energy that becomes too unstable to draw upon, and sometimes turns against the host user.
“Well… this describes well enough what happened to Amon and myself in the Tower.” Scylla muttered as she continued to read. “Might be why I lost my memories… and why he is the way he is. The whole process was carried out in a disorderly and haphazard manner at best.”
Suggested Approach: Complete aether extraction and release within a controlled environment. Strip the host of as much aether as possible to cleanse the physical form of energy that desires to return to the lifestream.
Scylla was familiar with the concept of wild-aether injuries, which were commonplace in the frantic times of the Meracydian wars. They were often the result of aether-weapons development trails and failed chimerical experiments, or so she had heard. She had never met a survivor of one of these accidents; she doubted that anyone would want to survive only to face the Emperor’s wrath at such failure. Xande proved that with the murder of her father.
Scylla gritted her teeth, burying her emotion as she continued reading.
Procedure Results: If not carried out properly, likely fatal. There is a chance the aether will not regenerate. However, if the procedure is successful, the goal is to release the turbulent aether to allow for the attraction and growth of new and more natural aether patterns for the host. The rate of restoration and quantity of aether restored will vary depending on the individual.
“So that’s why he’s acting out. He’s afraid of dying.”
The white mage brushed her lips with her fingertip. Nothing seemed to scare Amon, except for his own mortality. Even in the days of Allag, rumors spread about the court that he donned the mask to hide the effects of numerous botched face revitalization procedures to reverse the effects of age and the corrupting aetherdrugs. Every “treatment” and “enhancement” that he promised, researched, and implemented was built from his own fears of death.
She knew if there was chaotic aether contained within such a living vessel, the only way to assure a chance at restoration would be to remove all traces of the corruption. Even if a small amount remained, it would simply fester and grow within the host, often returning with more virulence the second time.
Scylla took a deep breath. Amon would die sooner than later- especially now that the crystal choker had begun to weaken. Even if he was a good person and worth saving, chances were slim that he could survive any type of procedure. If there was any non-corrupt aether that remained within his soul, Scylla could not feel it.
And… after all, he deserved to die.
There would be no more Amon of Syrcus to threaten this world. No Allagan Technologists left to shatter the uneasy peace that the world had entered. Allag would die as it should have with the Calamity, buried away thousands of years ago.
This would give her the peace that she so hungered for. But still, that small pit in her stomach gurgled, as if giving a subconscious protest to letting him die.
The white mage bit her lip, giving a long pause before looking up at Ben.
“So… what do you intend to do?”