This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
If Amon wasn’t already absolutely frozen, he might have bolted up the stairs right that moment. His face reflected his fear with a deer-in-the-headlights stare. But his ears reflected his mortification, a deep red flush spreading from the tips inward.
Of course the robes had been trapped. Just as he suspected. He had let his guard down, not thinking Scylla would show her tail in front of her own father. But he had been so very wrong.
Amon didn’t know who all these people were, and if they were important people. While running about in his skivvies wasn’t a big deal where he’d come from, he was sure this was not the best first impression to make on anyone in the city.
What did one say at this point? What did one do? He had no idea.
So he went right ahead with his plan, trying to act as if he wasn’t standing before the crowd in his underwear – wasn’t that supposed to be the other way around?
“You requested my presence, Sir?”
Only the quiver in his voice and burning of his ears belied his true feelings on the situation.
The group began to break into a mix of snickering and expressions of pity. Scylla giggled in the background, snorting between her breathy laughter. Diokeles walked up to Amon, leaning down on a knee. His face lightened, seemingly reacting to the drooping ears and embarrassing quandary the boy had been left in.
“Well met, Amon of the Forest.” He choked back a small bout of laughter, before pointing at a corner wardrobe. “But why don’t we see if we can get you into something… a little more appropriate before we talk?”
“Aye, sir. ‘Twould… be… better.”
Amon’s voice grew smaller and smaller, his bravado having reached its limits. He kept his gaze down, his ears honing in on the sound of suppressed laughter that bubbled in the room.
This was far worse than just getting into trouble would have been.
Diokeles frowned around the room, causing the others in the space to quiet down and return to their task of repairing the flight-vehicle.
His gaze was most concentrated on his daughter, who stopped laughing before giving her father a most unceremonious shrug.
“I didn’t know it was the defective robe?” Scylla said with a scowl at the boy. “The ignorant forest lout didn’t even check himself.”
“Scylla…” The man furrowed his brow. “I thought you two were supposed to be friends?”
“Friends?” Scylla huffed as she stomped back up the stairs. “You don’t listen to a thing I say about him!”
“Azyslis women…” The technologist sighed at Amon as he fumbled about a small supply closet. “They are untamable….”
He reached back on the top shelf, coming up with a plain white cotton shirt and a pair of pants. Both were a little oversized on the boy, but they would do in a pinch.
“They aren’t technologist robes, but it is still going to be a while before you grow into these.” Diokeles pointed to his own technologist robes, before kindly patting Amon on the head. “But even the greatest scientists start out as assistants like you.”
“The shirt is more comfortable anyhow… and that way you won’t get your school uniform all messy.” The technologist gave a wink of understanding.
“After all, how are you going to be witness of the greatest project that Allag has known for seven centuries!” Diokeles gave a wide grin showing his potion-stained fingers. “Without getting just a little dirty?”