Aetherflow's Return - Part 1

Date Posted: October 5, 2020

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

Scylla sat outside at the small beach pagoda near the house, anxiously wringing her hands together. It had been Amon’s first outing away from the watchful eyes at the shore of their home island. And even though Ben had essentially given the two Allagans liberty to roam, this didn’t mean that eyes weren’t on the horizon, scouting for their first move out of line.

There were several handlers, most prominently one with an axe that could chop their head off with a single hefty swing. This particular one she didn’t care for, even if Ben claimed they were related. The dark-haired man had gotten into an argument with Ben earlier today about Amon’s very first foray to Mor Dhona. He had stomped out of the little house, yowling something about technologists preferred itinerary.

And of course, Max-Ears just HAD to go there…

Mor Dhona – the gateway settlement only yalms from the Crystal Tower. Like a moth to a cereleum-lamp, Scylla figured Amon could not help finding himself drawn to the shimmering mirror of Syrcus. She had heard about it all – from his angry gestures to his reaction to the return of G’raha Tia. From the snippets she could make out, the Tower had remained locked shut.

Well, of course, the new Master of the Tower knows we are here. It would only make sense to keep it away from the likes of the Allagan scoundrel and his wayward menagerie.

The sun was low in the sky, sending rays scattering across the ocean shores. Amon was already late for his scheduled healing session. Although he was freed of the void-aether, the damage had been done. Sometimes he would break into uncontrollable shakes, or stumble on sure-footed paths. This was not the Amon of the Tower, and the technology within might allow him to claim his previous stature.

Scylla sighed. He hadn’t been late to rehabilitation since she had started. It had started quiet, but now it was almost as if he enjoyed the discourse, even when it did involve bickering and banter. But now she worried… worried… if he was going to come back at all. The tower was the only thing that Amon lived for in a lifetime, and she wondered if he dreamed about the raw promise of power. It could be just as well that he would simply throw away everything to fall under the thrall of the past.

“Well, Amon… prove me wrong.” The white mage looked out to the small residential harbor, watching the ferries come in across from the main city of Kugane.

Amon leaned against the ship railing, half juggling the two piping-hot bags that were marked with the symbol of one of the better eateries he’d discovered in Kugane. Glancing at the angle of the sun, he knew he was late.

It was hard to keep true track of time with no portable time telling devices. He made a mental note to see if he couldn’t rig up something on his make-shift tomephone. But that would come later.

As the ferry docked, he made for the gangplank double time. He hadn’t expected the line to be as long as it was when he got to the eatery. Of course, it was dinner time, so it was logical. But he had persisted as he was quite intent on trying out this new dish he’d heard others praising. He hoped it was good enough to ease Scylla’s frustration when he finally arrived.

Making a stumbling dash down the path, he took the steps down towards the shoreline two at a time. This proved a poor lapse of judgment – he still hadn’t regained much of his balance or reflexes – but he managed to make it to the bottom without monumental failure.

Amon saw someone sitting at the pagoda – their designated spot – and briefly wondered how long he’d left Scylla waiting. Shrugging off that concern, the Elezen put on his best winning smile and strode up to her.

“I brought you something!” he told her in a sing-songy voice. Then with much aplomb, he placed one of the two eatery bags on the low wooden table in front of her.

Maybe if he didn’t remind her he was late, food would make up for it. 

Scylla gave a sigh of relief as she opened the bags of food, unwrapping the still warm meals. She shouldn’t have been surprised.

“Grilled Turban.” She sighed, fixing up the rice and vegetables next to large shells. “Always snails with you, isn’t it?” 

“I suppose we can eat first.” Scylla pulled out a couple of glasses, and poured some of the tea from the nearby pitcher. She took a ginger bite of vegetables, before looking at Amon straight in the eyes. 

“So… did you enjoy your first day of freedom?”

Amon settled down to the meal, trying to guess at Scylla’s state of mind. That would determine how freely he felt to talk about things he’d seen and done that day. 

“Meh,” he answered digging into the greens first. “Some parts of it were enjoyable. Other parts, not so much.” 

The Elezen frowned just thinking about how things had unfolded in Mor Dhona. How the Tower’s sleeper was free, but the Tower itself was still locked away from the world as if it had committed some terrible crime. 

He ventured into his thoughts a bit and told her, “’Tis still things happening around the Tower. Things that the Sons don’t want people to know about. I caught wind that G’raha Tia is awake again. I needed to find the truth for myself… so I did. And he is.” 

“So you did go to Mor Dhona!” Scylla shook her head, struggling to calm her voice. “Amon? What were you thinking?” 

She took the turban shell and pointed it at him. “Don’t you know that they are watching us?”

Amon shrugged, popping a piece of snail in his mouth and chewing. “Aye, but so what? If we are truly free to do as we please, then I shall do as I please. I did nothing wrong.”

Okay, so he’d done nothing wrong… but had thought about doing bad things. It had come pretty close, too.

On the flip side, he was still shaken about how quickly his thoughts had drifted to cruelty. The fact that it bothered him had to mean something, right?

The Elezen covered up his unease by digging further into the dish. It was as good as he’d been led to believe it would be. 

Although she had not taken but a few bites, Scylla’s appetite had already started to wane. She stirred her rice and vegetables around. 

“Aye… so you shall do as you please…”

She reflected his words to him, gaze turned down to her plate as the images of mad Allagan technologist danced on the edges of her mind. 

“Have you ever listened to yourself, Amon? What your words mean to others?”

Scylla pushed away the food, putting her hands in her head and pulling her cheeks downward as she continued to mumble a warning. She wasn’t hungry anymore.

“We are being watched, Amon. And the unwanted truth is that you are just as dangerous as you were when I first met you.”

She didn’t notice her hands were shaking, her gaze averted in a deep-seated fear that she didn’t want to show.

“They were watching. They saw it. Your aether-flow is returning.”