This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
The beaches were quiet, with only scattered dots of people roaming the sands as the visiting season had waned to a close. With no healing of sun-sickness and reef-cut arms, Scylla’s days had been quiet. The idleness, even in the relative beauty of Shirogane had a way to drive her to the sad thoughts of a lost world and family. She instead turned her devotion to the study of what became of the Allagan people.
The young mage struggled to hold her page against the strong breeze coming off the whitecapped ocean bay. Scylla spent the morning after chores sitting in the small beachside pagoda, rummaging through the pile of books that she had brought with her.
It was nicer to study outside near the coolness of the waters during the hottest parts of the day. Time seemed to pass slowly in Shirogane as the spring melted into an apparent summer. Seasons were far more subtle than those in her home in Gridania. But she did notice that some of the pink and peach blossoms had passed away to the darker green cover of lush, filled-out woods and ferns.
Over the short season of time, she had grown to know the Eorzeans that had made up the small free company. Mocho, though quiet, had shown her a few moves with the sword. Though she thought herself sloppy, the aged Lalafell seemed convinced that she had some coordination. She did find beating up the straw dummy was seen as better than taking out her frustrations on the resident bard.
Then there was Ben, the mysterious handler of the awakened Allagans. Though charged with oversight, he was often away for long periods of time. When healing was needed, he did let her join on some of the more difficult adventuring hauls. Though the Elezen was warm-spirited and forgiving, there was something otherworldly and mysterious about his aether-signature that left the white mage with a slight feeling of unease.
Koh often was some of her best company, helping her to familiarize herself with the shops in town, and finding the best spots for tea. She did not have the same feeling for Noah, the High Allagan rector that had hijacked the poor girl’s body.
Noah was known for her ungoverned and reckless leadership at the Emperor’s Archmage Conservatory, one of the oldest institutions in Allag. Only those in the direct line of the emperor and the hand-picked few were in Noah’s clique. Being 37th in line of succession to the throne did not qualify her for an invitation.
How things have changed… Noah would never have been forced to sweep a floor or gather vegetables at a market. How the mighty have been brought low!
Scylla chuckled to herself as she took a sip of tea, flipping through another book, and scribbling notes with her short feathered pen.
Amon strolled down the paths of Shirogane, eyes fixed on the slip of parchment in his hand. It was a statement from an aetherologist – a fellow the Elezen had never met, but had been recommended to.
We’ve received your aether sample and payment. We will proceed with testing, as requested. Once we’ve confirmed the results, we will be in touch with you about the outcome. Thank you again for your patronage.
He wasn’t all the comfortable about bottling up what little aether he could afford and sending it to some stranger. But Amon was finding he had less choice in the matter. Though his choker helped keep the flow of energies around him more or less harmonious, he’d witnessed moments of things slipping through the cracks more and more.
What he saw when that happened deeply concerned him.
Finally, swallowing his pride, he’d taken his concerns to Ben, and gave what details he trusted the mage to have. That’s when Amon had received a recommendation for an aetherologist who specialized in reading aether patterns, someone who could possibly offer a suggestion on the best course to take going forward.
The Elezen frowned down at the confirmation in his hand. Aside from talking to Ben, no one was aware of his situation. He was able to keep things low-key and quiet. That’s the way he liked it.
Amon’s steps brought him down towards the little tea shop that he’d discovered near the beaches of Shirogane. It was a good place to visit when he needed to be alone. The tea and the ocean breeze were usually calming.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t realize until it was too late that there was already someone occupying the deck. That someone was Scylla.
He took a step back, but not before the slip of parchment dropped from his hand to the ground. Hoping she’d not caught wind of him yet, the Elezen scrambled to reach for it, only for a breeze to carry it straight to the table where his once-rival sat.