Amon still didn’t know what to make of Ben.
The mage’s motivations were easier to determine when was working for Gridania, hired to keep an eye on the two Allagans. The fact that keeping Amon alive was related to Ben’s previous job somewhat explained the mage’s efforts to help with the aether transference.
When all was said and done, Ben had a hand in saving Amon’s life. And the Allagan didn’t understand why.
What did Ben get out of this? Certainly, his kindness couldn’t be for no reason. There had to be a catch.
And now, the mage was sitting there in Amon’s lab, even though Ben no longer had a reason to be there. His job with Gridania was complete. Or… was it?
Perhaps Amon was still being watched, just as Scylla indicated. And if so, could Ben really be trusted?
“Scylla told you that I have a idea in terms of developing and strengthening your aether capabilities,” the mage said, taking a long sip of his tea.
“Aye.” Amon sipped tea, too, keeping his own words to a minimum. He wanted to see where this was leading.
“So, if I might propose a school of learning, might you consider that of Red Magery?”
“’Tis your area of study, aye?” Amon noted.
“Well,” Ben paused for a moment. “I’ll just say it matches my so-called area of study better than other schools of magic in Eorzea.”
There it was. That suggestion that something about this fellow was more than it seemed. The way he spoke of Eorzea was similar to the way Amon spoke of it. Like someone from another place. Amon didn’t pursue it, but did file the knowledge away.
“So why do you feel ‘twould fit me?”
“Because it embraces the challenge of balancing both Black and White aether,” Ben explained.
The Elezen’s ears twitched a bit at the word “challenge.” That… sounded to be a fascinating concept.
When Amon didn’t respond, Ben continued. “Red Mages employ the use of a crystal focus built into a blade and mainly blend elemental magics into many kind of spells. If I remember rightly, you were once quite skilled in the use of many elements.”
“Aye,” the Allagan gave a quick nod.
“Given the knowledge I have, I can offer a foundational education on the fundamentals of the craft,” the mage told him. “Both you and Scylla.”
“Wait… Scylla, too?”
It was Ben’s turn to nod. “Though she’s quite comfortable in the role of healing, she expressed an interest in brushing up on her own elemental casting abilities. Scylla was a mage of some skill, too, wasn’t she?”
“An Archemage, aye.”
The mage spread his hands. “So there you have it. My proposal. I feel that learning to balance both Black and White aether to weave flexible elemental spells would be a perfect method to strengthen and enhance your own aetheric pool in the long run. And I can get you started on that road.”
Amon tapped his chin with a finger with a mutter. “Sounds too good to be true.”
“Does it?” Ben didn’t miss a thing.
“What do you get out of it?”
“Hun?” This was the first time the mage actually looked dumbfounded. It seemed sincere.
“What’s the catch? You must want something.”
“Uh… no,” Ben shook his head quickly. “I’m just trying to help.”
“People don’t… just help… for no reason,” Amon pointed out.
“You might be surprised.”
The Allagan just grumbled a bit, not convinced.
“Here…” Ben reached behind him for a package he’d brought, and pulled the ties away. Inside was a sharp red coat made of fine material and what looked to be other pieces of an outfit to complement it.
“What’s this?” Amon’s brow furrowed.
“The garb of a Red Mage. I know you like fine style, and that’s a trademark of this school of casting as well. Another reason I thought it would be a fit.”
This… was extremely tempting. Way too tempting. Amon was certain that he could make that coat look real nice…
Ben must have seen the curious twitching of the Elezen’s ears, because he urged, holding the garb out further. “Go ahead. I had them fitted for you.”
“You did?” the Allagan frowned a bit at that. “You’re so sure I’d agree, and this should be the path I take.”
“I am,” the mage told him, a mysterious hint of absolution in his tone.
Part of this unnerved Amon. Another part of it was also a relief though he didn’t know why. Perhaps because it felt as if every time he made a choice, it turned out to be a disaster. Now here someone else – who seemed to have his best interests – who was intent on guiding him.
Amon released a long breath, reaching out to accept the garb. “Red is my favorite color.”
It wasn’t until Amon was fully dressed in his new gear and admiring it in a mirror that Ben dropped the next great topic of concern on him. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, it was stated that the Red Mage focus was attached to a blade. But that hadn’t translated in Amon’s mind to: I’ll need to learn how to use a sword.
Not until Ben brought it out of its wrappings.
It was an impressive rapier, to be sure. Of unmistakable Allagan design, glowing bright red and blue, it instantly felt like something straight out of the Tower.
“Wait… is that..?”
“I tried to find something that you’d like,” Ben told him, holding the blade’s hilt out towards him.
Amon took the rapier with a shaky, uncertain look. “You know I’ve never used a sword in my life, don’t you?”
“Not even for a part in a performance?” the mage asked.
“Well, aye, but ‘twasn’t for real.”
“This is merely for learning and practice,” Ben reassured him. “Let’s see how it feels to you. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t.”
“You seemed pretty certain earlier.”
“I am. But now you need to be sure of yourself.”
Amon felt anything but sure as he looked down at the strange and unknown blade he gripped in his hands. Still, there was never a time in his life that he let his uncertainty rule him. He wasn’t about to let that start now.
“Aye, well,” the Allagan said with forced determination. “You might come to regret the day you handed me a challenge.”
Ben didn’t reply. He merely grinned in response.