This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
“Come on, then.”
Scylla stood at the end of the hall, pointing down towards the blue glow coming from a spiral staircase leading down into an unseen basement. She proudly walked downwards, half holding the rail just in case Amon decided it would be a good idea to push her down the stairs.
Might be worth it. Papa might really turn him into a hound-chimera!
She ran her hand along the pipe-lined walls and glowing aether-lines across the wall, carefully illuminating the path before them.
Amon tried not to stare. He really did. He knew it would give Scylla pleasure to see him wide-eyed at the flowing aether that she could not see. But he just couldn’t help it.
A mass of flowing aether-color met his senses, almost overwhelming. It wasn’t the peaceful, gentle flow he saw when among the living things of the forest. No… this was something made by the hands of man and the minds of aetheric science.
He was absolutely consumed with fascination. So much that he faltered and almost slipped a step before pausing just to take it all in.
Scylla stepped to the side, letting Amon trip forward as they entered into her father’s laboratory. Her father was leaned over the aether-engine, surrounded by several colleagues as they were arguing amongst each other. Only Taz took notice of the two children as they came in, tapping Diokeles on the shoulder.
“I think Scylla has brought the boy you were asking for.”
The senior technologist looked up from under the hood, staring straight at Amon with a furrowed brow. Servants and junior scientists all looked at Amon with a quiet stare.
Amon took a final, fateful step down, finding himself surrounded with complete unfamiliarity. It was a lab, and very much the way his imagination had expected, though so much more.
He’d grown up with his father being what passed as the technologist out in their forest home. Though by these standards, his father was little more than merely a fix-it guy.
This place had so much to be curious about. Bits and bobs, machines steaming aether-rainbow, strange liquids bubbling in containers… who knew what else was there.
That’s when the boy became aware of the many pairs of eyes that now focused on him. Unprepared for such a spotlight, he froze completely, the tips of his ears quivering. He gave the impression of a wild creature on the edge of flight. And he truly felt like one, too.
“I thought… this was just a talk with your father,” Amon whispered hoarsely at Scylla’s unmoved back.
Maybe the robes had been that important after all.
Scylla whispered in his ear. “You better start begging for mercy, hound.”
With that, she reached for the collar at the nape of his neck, letting a small tingle of aether free from her fingers. The stripes on the robes on the boy’s back crackled and groaned, simply shimmering away, leaving Amon in nothing but his smallclothes.