The flier did a good job of representing the actual event, Amon decided as he strode down the streets of Ul’dah. Everything around him was in perpetual motion.
Stages were set up. People were dressed in bright colors, many of them donning flower crowns across the brows. The trees were all in bloom and the fragrant scent draped heavily over the city, masking the normal smell that clung to the city of refugees.
It might have been pleasant, but the Elezen wasn’t there to take in the sights or participate in the celebration. He didn’t realize how crowded the streets would be, making his task – finding Koh – a good deal more difficult than it would have already been in the city.
“Sushi ball, sir?” asked one of the street vendors, who proceeded to shove a tray up towards him. Several fist-sized balls of rice and fish lay, brilliantly decorated for the occasion.
Usually, he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample the cuisine, but his thoughts weren’t on eating right then. “Ah, no thank you. I’m looking for someone.”
The vendor accessed the Elezen’s troubled face, then gave him a wink, “Take two, then. One for your friend.”
Amon paused at that thought, then he did just that. Opening up a conversation with the offer of food was a good start. And the sushi ball was decorated nicely… certainly something Koh would soften up to.
The Elezen felt like he’d walked the length of the city thrice over when he finally caught sight of Koh’s tell-tale orange robes. They looked so drab and out of place in the middle of all the festivities – Amon had never noticed how meager the girl carried herself until that moment. Approaching her slowly, that’s when a string of ideas began to form in his head.
Koh sat on one of the stone planters, a somewhat forlorn expression in the middle of the cheer. This took him back at the sight – certainly, he couldn’t have been the cause of such dour emotion. Not with all the flowers and joy scattered everywhere.
Never to be one of timid approach, Amon walked up to the girl and held out the sushi ball as a peace offering. “I’ve been looking for you.”
Her ears flattened a bit as she glanced first at the roll, then up at his face. There was no sign of welcome there. “Why?”
Amon motioned to an open spot next to her on the stone planter. “Can I sit?”
“I’d rather you not.”
The Allagan sat anyway, then pushed the little sushi ball into her unwilling hands.
“You’re such a jerk, Amon,” Koh informed him, not for the first time. She gave up and accepted the food.
“Aye. I know.”
His lack of concern flustered her. “What do you want?”
“I came to apologize.”
“Why?” Koh’s eyes narrowed. “So you can just lie to me again?”
“That was never my intention,” he told her, sounding as apologetic as he could.
“Of course not,” the cat-girl bit into the sushi ball viciously. “It’s never your intention. You always mean well. But what you do and what you say don’t ever line up.”
For some reason, this made her all the more angry. “Stop agreeing with me!”
“Why? You’re right. I know what I did was wrong.” This puzzled Amon. Why was she angry that he was admitting to what he did?
“You could be a little more… sorry… about it,” she flipped her hand as if looking for a better word.
“I am sorry,” he responded. “Why do you think I’m here?”
“You don’t seem sorry,” Koh templed her fingers, then buried her face in her hands. After a moment, she composed herself and looked at him again. “You can tell me you’re sorry all you want, but how can I trust you after this?”
“Mmm…” He didn’t have an answer to that.
“You… you just…” She was back at the hand waving again. “You told me you weren’t going to go chasing after power again. You promised Noah and I you were going to help us. But then, as soon as Scylla appears, you’re out the door without a word to any of us, running right back to the Tower.”
Amon looked down at the last of the two sushi balls, suddenly not feeling hungry at all. He gave it to her instead. The word came slow, and with some measure of emotion. “Aye.”
Koh stared out into nothing for a while, then she bit into it. “I’d never seen you look the way you did the day before you left. I didn’t know what to do. You looked like you were ready to kill someone.”
Rageful, he realized. Back when Scylla first appeared, and he had nothing but pent-up hate for her. Had he emanated that so loudly?
“Then, you vanished… and we got reports that you were heading for the Tower,” she nearly choked on the words. Or maybe it was the rice. He couldn’t tell. “And here I was thinking… Oh, gods. He’s going to open the Tower and it’s going to swallow him whole and turn him into what he used to be…”
Amon’s gold eyes slid to her face, trying to hide his surprise.
“Except this time… this time… if they hunt you… I’ll know who you are,” Koh’s voice dropped to a whisper. “That you’re more than just that story… And I’ll have to live with knowing that forever… if you die…”
She struggled to finish the statement. In an unusual gesture of compassion, he reached over and put his hand over hers. He schooled his voice to a soothing calm, an actor’s expression to cover the real conflict he felt at her words.
“That didn’t happen,” Amon told her. “And if it makes you feel any better, it probably won’t. We weren’t able to open the Tower. Not even with Scylla’s royal heritage.”
“But you still wanted to.”
“Aye, I did,” he nodded somberly. “But perhaps for other reasons. Not just the power. I…”
It was his turn to hesitate.
“I could unlock all the wonders of Allag, Koh. Everything you dreamed of, researched, hoped to uncover… If I open the Tower to you and your people… I could…”
She turned her hand over, her slender fingers gripping his hand. Her voice was still a whisper. “Those are dreams. Lovely dreams… But we both know that’s not how it would happen.”
“Why not?” Amon’s face fell.
“There’s a reason they chose to close the Tower.”
“Aye, because your people struggled to understand what it was. But I could change that,” he told her enthusiastically.
“I’m sure you could. But would such an influx of knowledge be in the best interest? Who would you trust with that kind of information?”
“Why, you, of course. And the other Sons of Saint Coinach.”
Koh let out a long breath, then shook her head with a sad smile. “I’m honored, but…”
“It was so great a responsibility that the Sons were the ones who chose to return it to sleep, Amon.”
The Elezen just stared at her for a moment, processing this unexpected result. Of all people, he expected the young scholar to be on board with the discoveries he could place in her two hands. Instead, she responded with hesitation.
“Think about it, Amon. What if people didn’t want your technology or your ways?” Scylla’s words echoed across his memory.
He didn’t believe it when she said it. But now, looking at Koh…
The cat-girl watched him, her anger having drained into something more akin to regret. He wondered if his face showed the confusion and disappointment he felt.
“T-that’s… not no forever,” Koh tried to sound hopeful. “It’s just… probably not a good idea right now. Not with everything that’s been going on. There’s no promise that the right people would lay claim to it and use it for the right things in the end.”
“Of course,” Amon shook himself out, forcing a smile. “I understand.”
“I’m sorry…” For some reason, she was apologizing to him.
“So am I.”
Well, it was progress, at least.