3- When One Door Closes...

Date Posted: July 3, 2018

Amon didn't waste time gathering up all his little belongings and gil - the currency that passed for money now days. He checked out of the inn - he didn't plan on returning to Gridania - and found a shop where he could pick up a traveling map.

Looking at the map, he realized that so much about the world had changed from what he remembered. At first, he didn't have a clue how to get to Syrcus Tower from where he currently was. But after a little chat and an exchange of gil, he had a better idea of the path that lay ahead.

"Aye, that Crystal Tower. I've heard of it," the shopkeeper told him. "Get yourself to Mor Dhona and you won't be able to miss it. A right bright monolith in the sky."

This eased something in Amon's mind just a little.

These people may not remember their history, but at least they respect Allagan majesty when they see it.

The shopkeeper was right. And so was the map.

Amon wasn't very practiced with riding the giant, smelly birds that were commonly used as mounts in Eorzea. Still, chocobos were the fastest means of travel at his price point, so he hired a chocobo porter for as far as he could afford. This carried him past the Gridania forest, and through an area that slumbered under deep, unnatural snows. Not a place he wanted to linger longer than he needed to.

Finally, he arrived in a blighted, aether-soaked land - the area they now called Mor Dhona.

This had once been Amon's home. He remembered this land covered in lush beauty, untame forests, and rushing waterfalls. There had once been vast, majestic gardens that lined the walks at the base of the Tower, and a settlement that sheltered snuggly in the Tower's light. That was where where his family had lived in the ages forgotten so long ago.

All of that was gone now, the earth itself twisted and broken by time. He didn't know if that was due to the fall of the Tower or something that had happened more recently. Still, it sparked a sharp pang of sadness within him as he realized there was truly little left that he remembered of his own time.

He didn't idle long in the sole, roughly-hewn settlement that struggled to survive under the pressure of wildly fluctuating aetheric weather. Nothing in Revenant's Toll held any interest for him.

Nothing... because in the distance, he saw it. Just as promised. A beacon from the ancient past rose. The Crystal Tower. It stood, still brilliant, still a light in the darkness, with the stars shimmering all around it.

Amon felt a powerful yearning within, something calling him home. He was unable to take his eyes from the Tower for a very long time. Then, he chided himself.

Not a time to get sentimental. I must get inside. If I can just get to my tools... my research... my lab...

He steeled himself, stabled the rental chocobo, then took to the path on foot that lead towards his destination.

Things continued to not work out the way Amon had hoped. At this point, he wondered if he truly was cursed.

Not only was the path to the Tower winding and deceptive with all of its broken crystals and dead ends, but filthy creatures roamed the lands. His people would have purged such beasts back in his time... and maybe captured a few for observation. But that was neither here nor there.

These roads had once been safe. Now, what he traveled upon could hardly even be called a trail.

In his previous life, Amon would have feared nothing that lurked in the aether. Now, while his archery skills were meager enough to hunt small game in the Shroud, he knew this wouldn't keep him safe from the monstrosities that fouled the area.

He spent many hours sneaking and hiding among the crystal outcroppings, no easy feat seeing that he got turned around time and again. Everywhere seemed to lead to a dead end.

Finally, after several close calls, he found what he was looking for - a tilted door, mostly concealed in stone. Even after so many thousands of years, the ornate etchings and runes still shimmered electric blue. The mark of Allagan handiwork sparked his nostalgic excitement.

Amon gently pressed his hands against the structure and found the door was already open. No doubt, the Eorzeans who broke into the Labyrinth many moons earlier left it that way. He could see the tracks of countless people that passed along the path that overlooked the sheer side of a cliff.

Amon sucked in his breath as he gazed out over the fractured earth near the base of the Tower. Then he began to carefully pick his way over the stone, following the faded tracks.

The Eorzeans were clever enough to break our outer defenses. Strong enough to clear out the Labyrinth. Powerful enough to kill Xande.

He furrowed his brow as the path led him through the shattered remains of several pairs of Guardian statues that stood watch over the gates. These were once the initial line of defense for the Tower, but now lay in ruin, the first signs of destruction left in the invaders' wake.

So, where are the Eorzeans now? Why aren't they still here? Surely there's still much for them to excavate.

Amon knew his way through the depths of the Labyrinth that served as the lower catacombs of the Tower. The architects originally built it to serve as several chambers of ever-growing defenses meant to protect from invasion. In his time, the Allagans had filled with horrors and science-project-rejects that the Technologists of the Tower developed.

Now, the halls were silent and empty save for the quiet bubbling of lava around the base of the huge stone platforms. The invaders had succeeded in slaying the Allagan creatures and disabling the traps. They'd even taken down the once great Guardian, Phlegethon, who stood as the final defense before the Tower doors.

It was a marvel to believe that the Eorzeans were people so ignorant of their past, yet so proficient at overcoming it.

Amon froze once he finally made his way out of the Labyrinth, peering at what loomed tall above him.

"No." His voice cracked in a hoarse whisper. All of his hopeful anticipation drained, as did the color in his cheeks.

The Tower doors stood shut.

Hissing, Amon rushed up to them. He knew what this meant, but he still had to try.

Pressing both hands against the ornate etched surface, he pushed.

And pushed.

And pushed.

And cursed.

And pushed.

And... nothing happened.

"No!" He miserably demanded of the unmoving doors. "How could they have sealed it?"

It was well established among his people that once closed, the doors to the Tower would only open for someone of the royal Allagan bloodline. Despite all his pride and presumptions, Amon was not Allagan nobility.

An embarrassingly broken sound passed his lips as he crumpled slightly, both palms still pressed against the cold metal. Amon would not be seeing his research... his lab... his tools... none of it. He would not have the means to prevent his downfall to madness. Nor could he restore strength into this this weak cloned body to kindle the magic he once commanded.

After staring miserably at the face of his doom, Amon finally reasoned it would serve him nothing to sit there and mourn. Instead, he dejectedly journeyed back out the way he came.

Feeling disillusionment and loss weigh down his limbs, Amon knew it would be suicide to try to maneuver all the way back to the safety of the outpost at night. Instead, he huddled down under a rocky outcropping in the middle of rustic-Mor-Dhona-nowhere. There, he tried to push back emotion and rationally work through what to do next.

That didn't work very well, either.

It might be easier for me to just let a wandering beast have a meal tonight.

The taunting merciless light of Syrcus Tower silently shown down on him... as if to agree.

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