16- Return

Date Posted: July 16, 2018

They returned to Dragonhead with more style than the previous time. While Koh's organization didn't have an infinite fount of gil to share, there was enough to rent a proper carriage to shelter them from the bitter cold on their way back north.

Between the three of them, they didn't speak much. Koh was lost to her own thoughts, scribbling in one of her books. Ajir watched the landscape slip by the window, probably caught up in some internal Samurai-code conflict.

Amon just took the opportunity to rest. It was the first time in a long time that his life had so little direction. Yet, that came with its own newfound sense of freedom.

The world had changed so much from the one that he once knew. But, perhaps, Noah was right. Maybe this new era afforded him a chance at a different path. Different choices.

He no longer had to be the mad Allagan technologist who sacrificed anything and everything to salvage a situation that had been spiraling out of everyone's control even before he was born. Xande was gone for good, defeated by the Warriors of Light, and the Tower slumbered again.

Life went on, even after Allag was no more.

How does a person move on, too, when the past offers nothing but pain?

That was a question Amon knew he'd have to answer for himself.

When they finally arrived at the healing quarters in Dragonhead, they were met with a tsunami of pure joy. Zuri had been waiting faithfully for them to return – Amon could imagine her staring out the window like an anxious puppy while they were gone.

Now that they had, she met Ajir with some sort of emotional Au Ra greeting. Then, she rushed to Amon and threw her arms around him in a hug.

He froze.

"Where have you two been?" Zuri demanded as she stared up at him.

"'Tis a long story," Amon said, gently unlatching the girl from his person. He instantly realized his phrasing mistake.

"I'm always up for a story," she bantered.

Thankfully, Ajir stepped in with a grunt. He didn't look too happy to see the girl hugging the vile, once-terrible Allagan monster. "We had business to attend to."

"Is everything okay?" Came Mocho's voice from the other side of the room.

Amon turned to see the Lalafell sitting up on the edge of the bed. He looked almost fully recovered, and watched the group with his normal fatherly concern.

"We took care of it," Ajir nodded gruffly.

Amon said nothing. For all of the Samurai's talk of honor and truth, it was interesting to see how much Ajir would keep to himself in order to do what he felt was protecting others.

It was time to change the topic. The Bard announced to the room cheerfully, "Oh, also, I'm happy to introduce our new healer!"

He made hand gestures to where Koh stood, holding a satchel of books, still half in the doorway. The cat-girl visibly swallowed, not used to having so many eyes on her at once. Then, she gave a bow, as if that would save her from the fate that waited.

"Ooooh!" Zuri's eyes lit up, her face radiating with the chance to meet a new friend.

"My name is Koh," she introduced herself with a shaky voice. "I admit that I've been more involved with the study side of scholarly things, but I will do my best to heal for you."

Mocho smiled gently, sensing the cat-girl's timidness. "Welcome. I'm happy for any help you can provide."

"There's nothing to worry about," Zuri offered to help Koh with her bags. "We're all learning together, honestly."

"Thank you," Koh bowed again, relinquishing her luggage to the Au Ra.

Amon left Zuri to work her magic on the shy soul, and walked into the sick room, looking at Mocho. "How are you feeling?"

"Better." The Lalafell squinted up at him, motioning to the healing wound on the Bard's head. "You look like you took a bit of a scratch during that fight, too."

Drat his keen eye...

"Oh this..." Amon tried to laugh it off nervously. "I'm fine. 'Tis taken care of."

Mocho's gaze flicked to Ajir, then back to Amon. There was something knowing there, as if he could see right through everything they said. It made the Elezen a little uncomfortable.

"I'm glad you came back, Amon," the Lalafell finally said.

This made Ajir stop short, too.

Then, Mocho laughed sadly. That weird disarming juxtaposition between age and youth all his kind had. "I wish I could say I fared better. I'm sorry for worrying you."

"As long as you're healing, 'tis what's important," Amon swallowed down the unease, trying to sound natural and cheerful.

"Maybe I should go back to Ul'dah and train."

"Nonsense," Ajir stopped him. "We've just recruited a healer."

"'Tis right," Amon agreed. "Why don't we see what happens with a healer around? Koh could use some confidence boosting, herself."

This seemed to hit the right buttons for Mocho. He turned to where the girls were deep in their own conversation, a softness written on his face. Finally, he answered, "Okay. We can try."

"There you go," the Bard leaned back with a satisfied grin.

Zuri suddenly shouted from the other side of the room. "KAMI ABOVE!"

Ajir looked startled.

The girl ran into the middle of them all, moving her hands in circles. "Do you know what this means?"

"No, what?" Amon watched her, trying to hide is amusement.

"We have enough people to start a Free Company!"

The Samurai groaned into his hand. "This again?"

Zuri tugged on his sleeve. "Come on! Come on! It would be fun!"

"A... what?" Amon asked.

"It's a formalized group of Eorzean adventurers who work together under one standard. I suppose you could also call it a guild." Mocho explained. "She's been wanting to do this since forever, but..."

"We haven't had enough people until now!" Zuri finished. "Pleeeeeease?!"

The Lalafell sighed. "For you, Zuri."

"Koh???" Excited, the Au Ra grabbed the cat-girls hands.

"I've never... I mean..." The Scholar didn't seem to know what to say. "No one's ever invited me to... something this important before."

"So that's a yes?"

"I..." Koh glanced up, unable to resist any more than the rest of them. "Why not."

Zuri looked at the Samurai next. "Ajiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii?"

The dark Au Ra groaned, but gave in more quickly than expected. "If I must."

Now she turned to the Bard. "Amon!"

"Hold on. I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit myself to any one specific thing. I mean..."

Zuri grabbed his arm. "You don't have to stay forever. Just give it a try."

He shook his head. This was more than he expected.

Seeing she was losing this round, Zuri pulled out the big guns, "I'll let you pick the name."

Amon paused, ears quivering slightly. "Really?"

"You can name it anything you want," she coaxed.

In the background, Ajir was waving his hands at her in a 'No! No!' motion.

"Anything?" the Bard echoed.