Ajir brought back a solid meal that night, something that surprised Amon. They’d been pinching gil ever since leaving Mor Dhona, so to see it spent so freely, especially with the cost of services rendered to Mocho, left him curious.
The Samurai didn’t speak much. Not when the healers came to tend his wounds. Not even when Zuri went on to recount Ajir’s battle with the Ixali in her juvenile-Bard ways.
I admit, the guy is a war machine. Even I’m a little impressed.
Amon remained silent, too, but his thoughts were picking apart the happenings of the day. Trying to make sense of it. There was still a lot they didn’t know. Like who set them up. And who had enough influence with the beastmen to stage an attack like that.
Someone is after me… I’m sure of that much.
The fire began to crackle low. Both Mocho and Zuri had fallen asleep. It was then that Ajir approached Amon.
“I may have some information about the person who hired us for that job.”
This perked up the Elezen’s ears. “Oh? Do tell.”
The Samurai leaned back in his chair, silent for a long while. Amon began to wonder if he’d say anything at all. Finally, Ajir stood up instead.
“It’s something I’ll have to show you. I saw it on the way back in to Dragonhead.”
Amon glanced down at himself – he was wearing a loaner shirt the healers gave him when they took his coat in for the wash. He was certainly not in any state to go out into the cold, not with night getting on.
Ajir saw this and added, “It’ll only take a moment.”
The Bard nodded and shoved his feet into his boots. “All right. But if I get snow-bit, I’m blaming you.”
The two walked out of Dragonhead, to the north, back in the direction that the attack happened. Amon felt the cold biting into him, and regretted the choice immediately.
“Thought this would only take a moment,” he chided impatiently.
Ajir didn’t say anything. He just kept walking.
“Going to freeze to death,” Amon added with a slight flair of dramatics.
That’s when the Samurai stopped and promptly turned, drawing his blade. “Perhaps that would be the better option… Amon.”
The Elezen took a step back in surprise. Ajir had never spoken his name like that – full of so much distaste and loathing. A chill rushed through his body. It wasn’t from the cold.
The blade in the Samurai’s hands began to pulse with a flow of blue light. The Au Ra’s green eyes seemed to glow, fixed on his target.
“Ajir… what are you doing?” Amon backed further away, the snow crunching under his boots.
The Samurai growled, “She said you were a good actor. Has that been all this was to you?”
Amon’s face paled. He heard himself breathe the words, “Who told you?”
Ajir didn’t answer. He simply gripped his blade more tightly and lunged forward, bringing his beastly strength and snarling ferocity down on his unarmed, once-companion.
At an extreme physical disadvantage, Amon felt a jolt of pain as he took the immense blow along the side of his skull. The blunt grip of the katana sent him reeling, and just like the stories always said, he saw stars. A stream of warm blood gushed down his cheek – no doubt Ajir had done some damage, even if he didn’t strike a killing blow.
Then, the Au Ra’s strong fist closed down on Amon’s collar, dragging him up as the Elezen’s knees threatened to buckle under him.
That’s when Amon felt it.
A tickling in the back of his mind.
The rushing sensation of aether energy.
Tiny – just a fraction. Just a sliver of the power he once held.
But in his moment of desperation, it was all he had.
Amon’s mind clamped down on that power.
He drew it in. He hungered for it. A sensation he knew all too well.
All thoughts focused on survival. His survival.
As Amon’s free hand lifted, the power rushed out of him, a fountain of flame that blasted the Samurai point-blank in the face.
It wasn’t a massive flame. It probably did nothing more than singe the Au Ra’s stubborn hide. But it was enough to make Ajir leap back with a shout of surprise and release the Elezen.
“You!” Ajir stammered, his eyes round, staring with a hint of fear. “You… really are…”
Amon was still too disoriented to make any attempt of escape.
Instead, the Bard gathered himself up and did what he always did in a bind. He acted.
“Yes, I am,” Amon’s voice grew powerful as he tried to make himself look larger than he actually was. Given that blood was still dripping down his chin and he couldn’t see straight, that was quite an effort. “And you’ve just made a very grave mistake.”
That’s when a snide voice joined the scene. “Give it a rest, Amon.”
A slip of a cat-girl appeared, no sign of fear, just all dark hair and sharp eyes. Though she looked common enough, Amon could sense that there was something not quite right about her.
“Who… are you…?” The Elezen tried not to slur. Staying awake was getting hard.
“I represent the Sons of Saint Coinach,” she told him in a steady voice. “And with the power vested in me, I take you, Amon of Allag, into custody.”