Original Draft: When One Door Closes…

Amon didn’t waste time gathering up what little belongings and gil he had. He checked out of the inn – he didn’t plan on returning to Gridania – and found a reputable shop where he could pick up a travelling map.

So much about this world had changed. He didn’t even know his way back to Syrcus Tower from where he was now. But after a little chat and an exchange of gil for a sketchy map, he had a better idea of the path that lay ahead.

“Aye, that Crystal Tower. I’ve heard of it,” the shopkeeper told him. “Get yourself to Mor Dhona and you won’t be able to miss it. A right bright monolith in the sky.”

This eased something in Amon’s mind. Just a little.

These people may not know their history, but they do respect Allagan majesty when they see it.

The shopkeeper was right. And so was the map.

Amon hired a chocobo porter for as far as he could afford. This carried him through the forest, and into deep, unnatural snows, then finally to a blighted, aether-soaked land. The area they now called Mor Dhona.

This had once been Amon’s home. A place he remembered covered in lush beauty, untame forests and rushing waterfalls. There had once been vast, majestic gardens that lined the walks at the base of the Tower, and a settlement that sheltered snuggly in the Tower’s light… where his family once lived.

All that was gone now, twisted and broken. He didn’t know if that was due to the fall of the Tower… or something that had happened more recently. But it sparked a pang of sadness within him.

There was truly little left of his world.

He spent no time in the roughly hewn settlement the Eorzeans had built there. Nothing in Revenant’s Toll held any interest for him.

Nothing… because in the distance, he saw it. Just as promised. A beacon from the ancient past – the Crystal Tower. It stood, still brilliant, still a light in the darkness, with the stars shimmering all around it.

Amon felt a powerful yearning within, something calling him home. He was unable to take his eyes from the Tower for a very long time. Then, he shook himself out.

Not a time to get sentimental. I need to get inside. If I can just get to my tools… my research… my lab…

He steeled himself, stabled the rental chocobo, then took the path that appeared to lead towards his destination.

***

Things did not work out the way Amon had hoped.

Not only was the path winding and deceptive, with all of its broken crystals and dead ends, but filthy creatures of all sorts roamed the lands. Beasts that would have been hunted and purged back in his days had they even dared to show their ugly faces.

These roads had once been safe. Now, you could hardly even call it a trail.

In his previous form, Amon would have feared nothing that lurked in the aether. But while his archery skills were meager enough to hunt small game in the Shroud, it wouldn’t keep him safe from the monstrosities that fouled the area.

He spent most of his time sneaking and hiding among the crystal outcroppings, which was no easy feat seeing that he got turned around time and again. Finally, after several close calls, he found what he was looking for.

A lopsided door, mostly concealed in stone, but very much with the mark of Allagan handiwork.

This door was already open. No doubt, this was due to the explorers who came through the Labyrinth moons earlier. He could see the tracks of many people that had passed along this path, which lead around the sheer side of a cliff.

Amon sucked in his breath as he took it all in.

They were clever enough to break our outer defenses. Strong enough to clear out the Labyrinth. Powerful enough to take down Xande…

He furrowed his brow as he strode through the shattered remains of the statues that had once stood guard there.

So, where are they now? Why aren’t they still here?

Amon knew his way through the depths of the Labyrinth. It was still as strong in his memory as it had been eons ago.

The walls were dark and the chamber was silent now. Empty. Everything that was set there to defend against intruders hand been slain. It was a marvel to believe that people so ignorant of the past were so proficient at overcoming it.

Or maybe not. These… Warriors of Light… No one said they had to have much upstairs to do this kind of dirty work.

Though he knew the passage well, it took time to reach the base of the Tower itself. When Amon finally arrived, he stopped short, peering at what loomed far above him.

“No…” His voice came as a hoarse whisper.

The doors to the Tower were shut.

Hissing, Amon rushed up to them. He knew what this could mean, but he still had to try. For science. Pressing both hands against the ornate surface, he pushed.

And pushed.

And pushed.

And cursed.

And pushed.

And… nothing happened.

“No!” He miserably demanded of the unmoving doors. “No! How could they have sealed it?”

He knew as well as anyone… that once sealed, these doors would only budge for someone who carried the bloodlines of Allagan royalty. And for all his pomp and presumptions, Amon was not one of those people.

An embarrassingly broken sound passed his lips as he crumpled slightly, both palms still pressed against the cold metal. Amon would not be seeing his research… his lab… his tools… none of it. He would not have the means to restore his strength and implant what he needed in this weak body to conduct the kind of power he once had.

Oh no. The world had other plans. And those plans did not include the rise of a mad Allagan technologist who sought to rend the land from end to end to satiate his misery.

Thwarted, there was nothing left for Amon to do but leave. Well, he could have remained there and wasted away at the door. But its mockery was too much for his pride to bear.

Instead, he dejectedly wandered back out the way he came, then flopped himself out in the middle of rustic-Mor-Dhona-nowhere. Maybe a stray monster would want a snack.

That’s about all I’m good for right now.

The teasing light of Syrcus Tower silently shown down over him… as if to agree.