When Amon finally reined the chocobo in at Wineport, he was met with worried shouts from Koh and Zuri. The girls had come looking for them, and finding them no-where, had grown more and more concerned as the night settled over the land.
Koh took one look at Mocho’s wounded arm and Amon’s sliced shoulder and gave her customary, “Oh my gods!”
“What happened?” Zuri echoed. “Mocho! He looks sick!”
Amon grimaced and slid down from the bird’s back. Then he helped pull Mocho down to his feet.
“I can stand,” the Lalafell said woozily.
“You both need a sickbed right away!” Koh demanded.
“I have to finish the job,” Amon told her, motioning to the chocobo.
Zuri was already fussing over Mocho, taking him to the nearest place for rest.
“You did all that to get a chocobo?” the Miqo’te frowned up at him, her ears folding back in disapproval.
“I guess so.”
Then Koh frowned. “Okay, finish your job. But I’ll come looking for you if you take too long.”
“I’m earning threats now?” Amon grinned.
“Coming back looking like this? Yes, you are!” She huffed and walked off in the direction that Zuri and Mocho went.
“One chocobo, returned. A little muddy but unharmed. As contract stated,” Amon handed the reins of the bird back to the merchant who originally hired them.
The Lalafell just beamed and fussed over his re-acquired mount, then turned a keen eye on the Bard. “Where’s the other fellow that was with you?”
“We had some trouble with local wildlife,” the Elezen admitted. “He’s being tended to in the infirmary. I’m headed there myself.”
The merchant took notice of Amon’s wounds and pursed his lips tightly. “I apologize. I wasn’t aware you’d be walking into that kind of danger.”
“’Tis a risk you take.”
“I shall add extra to our agreed amount in order to cover—“
“’Tisn’t necessary,” Amon held up a hand. “We have an acting healer in our Free Company. She’ll be able to take care of it.”
“If you insist?” The merchant eyed him, as if never seeing an adventurer turn down more Gil than was originally agreed upon.
Amon wasn’t sure why he’d done that himself. He simply accepted the payment and turned to head out of the stables.
That’s when the chocobo began to warble in concern. The further the Elezen walked, the louder the bird’s distress became. Then, much to the surprise of the merchant, the bird shook itself free of the lead, and rushed behind Amon, lightly butting the Bard in the crook of his back with his head.
Amon winced at the pain this caused and turned quickly. “What… no. You’re back with your master. Go on now.”
The chocobo warbled again sadly, followed by a short series of chirps.
“You heard me.”
By now, the merchant approached, taking the bridle again. “He seems to be fond of you.”
“That’s because he’s a silly bird,” Amon said, running a hand over the chocobo’s top feathers with a sigh. “Take care of him.”
The chocobo just continued to make distressed sounds as the Elezen walked way.
Mocho’s fever was high but not untreatable. Amon had done a surprisingly good job of wrapping the wounded arm and keeping it clean. But as Koh worked her healing magic into the Lalafell’s system, his words, more than his health, began to concern her.
At first, he was just rambling woozily, as if he’d had more than he could handle to drink. It didn’t make a lot of sense until he began to talk about Amon.
“Did you know he can cast magic?” Mocho asked from out of nowhere.
“What?” Koh blinked at him, her own magic stuttering in surprise.
She laughed, trying to cover up her unease. “What makes you say that?”
“I saw it.”
“You also have a very high fever, Mocho,” Koh tried to misplace his experience. She didn’t like the feeling of bending the truth, but she also was determined to keep Amon’s identity a secret… at least, until Amon deemed it was time to reveal himself.
“It wasn’t my fever,” Mocho argued, slurring his words. “This happened before I fell ill.”
“Maybe it was Bard trickery.”
“No, Koh,” The Lalafell said, suddenly looking quite lucid. “He wrapped a coeurl in a block of ice. Froze it dead on the spot. That is far from Bard trickery… it’s high-grade Thaumaturgy.”
She didn’t know what to say to that. If that’s what really happened… if that was true… The prospect of Amon’s magic coming back to him made her shiver.
“Just rest for now.” Koh bit back her fear and led the Lalafell to the nearest bed.
But Mocho wasn’t done. As he lay back on the pillow, his eyes growing heavy, he murmured, “Koh, be careful. He’s not who he appears to be.”