This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
“The only thing you were good at is serving yourself in every uncivil way possible!”
Scylla’s face turned red as anger, matching her eyes. He hadn’t been this eager for a fight for a while, and was not backing down against her steeled brow. Her voice raised in volume and spite as she pulled harder.
“Let go of my book, barbarous max-eared scoundrel!”
“As you wish, Your Majesty,” Amon grinned triumphantly, and gave the pretty, pretty Princess exactly what she requested. Releasing the book, the Elezen oozed smugness, allowing cause and effect to carry out its wild will.
“Oh no! AMOOOON!”
Scylla’s eyes widened as she flipped backwards, flailing to keep her balance, as tea, ink, piles of books and everything else went flying with her.
She had fallen for the oldest trick in the book, literally.
But she wasn’t going to go alone.
Instinctively, her right foot caught against the bottom of the small table, sending the flat of the table and remaining contents flying straight at her opponent’s chin.
Cause and effect’s wild will came flying right back at him. Square in the chin, to be exact.
A flash of light took his vision as he felt the table connect with bone, and send him reeling forward into the mess that he’d staged. A fitting climax to a bad drama. And so, the bard found himself doubled over the upset table, his own bottom stuck up in the air, and a split bottom lip for his efforts.
He’d almost lost his glasses in the middle of the affair, but thankfully, his ears kept eyewear anchored better than most. Lying there, momentarily dazed, he could only offer a low groan.
Scylla rubbed her eyes, blinking at the mass of table, papers and tea spilled about. And there in the middle of the mess was Amon, flopped over the side of an upturned table. The book that she had borrowed from Ben was half-torn and drenched in the afternoon’s special lotus brew. It was her turn to stare down at her beleaguered foe with matching stains on his shirt.
“You never change, do you?”
Amon’s ears were drooped as he groaned in pain from the unexpected strike. In the haze of anger that filled her eyes, she came up with a quick plan to both fix the ears and help him to his feet.
“I didn’t do anything to you, and all you do is come over and look for trouble! Well, now I will give you trouble to remember!”
She stomped over to his side, and grabbed him by the ear and pulled upwards.
“See if you find this funny, max-ears!”
Another sort of pain, one that crossed the threshold of even a bloody lip, registered in Amon’s world. The Elezen ear pull. He hated how sensitive his ears were. He hated that Scylla always took advantage of it when they were young.
But here? Now? After everything that had happened?
He wasn’t sure how he felt about this kind of insult.
There wasn’t much he could do but lift his head and try to ease the tug, moving with Scylla’s yank. His face came up, his chin streaked with blood from the blow he’d taken.
Amon despised showing any sort of weakness in the face of his rival. But this pathetic cloned body could only take so much before it just gave in on itself.
“Enough! Enough!” He spluttered over his blood-oozing lip.
“Enough, you say? Oh Amon, there is no emperor to be a pet to anymore! You don’t command me to do anything!” Scylla shook Amon’s ear back and forth.
A third calm-voice joined the shouting between two tea-soaked figures. When there was no response, the voice beckoned again.
“Scylla. Listen to him. He’s injured. Enough.”
“Father?” Scylla turned around in recognition of the voice, half expecting to see the sad, disappointed eyes and bearded frown of her father. She released her hold of Amon’s ear.
Instead all she saw was the glowing little node bobbing up and down, spinning in a feigned frustration at the pair. Since Amon had repaired the little node, they had found a few more routines programmed into the neural transfer along with a complete beta-tested personality routine overlay of her father.
Amon often let the little node work as an assistant in his makeshift lab. But just like Amon, it seemed to keep a distance from her. For some reason, it had followed the two into the open lands of Shirogane. The little node spoke with a tinny, voice through the central speaker.
“Amon has been injured. He requires the services of a healer.”
Scylla grumbled down at Amon, kicking some of the small puddles of tea at the prone Elezen. “It’s just a little scratch. He’ll be fine.”
The node spoke more insistently, repeating the line a bit louder.
“Amon has been injured. He requires the services of a healer.”
“You aren’t going to leave me alone until I fix him, are you?” Scylla muttered at the node.
“No.” The node floated up to the both of them. “I am programmed to correct maladjustments in behavior between the two of you. This must be remedied.”
“The node is just like him…” Scylla ground her teeth with a deep sigh as she looked at the bard, examining the injury on his lip. “See. He even favored you over his own blood in death. You do nothing wrong in his eyes.”
Amon flinched away from Scylla’s hand, summoning what little pride he had left. Straightening up, he fished a tea-soaked handkerchief out of his pocket and pressed it against his lip. Perhaps it had healing properties of its own – he wasn’t sure – but it did something to soothe the sting.
“I don’t require the service of a healer. Especially not her.”
The Elezen shot her a bit of a glare, though he knew there was no one to blame but himself for what just happened. Such was the way of things. He stuck his neck out, he took the risks, he took the fall.
Why would navigating any sort of truce with his rival be any different? She couldn’t take anything with a grain of humor in their younger days. She was just as rigid and domineering now.
The node addressed Amon with a bold voice. “SHE… is what remains of my creator’s legacy… and lest you forget is the last royalty of the Allagan Empire.”
“I’m nothing of that to this man, node.” Scylla spoke bitterly as she tried to maneuver around Amon’s hand, trying to ignore the conversation. “Will you stop being stubborn and let me take a look? You’re just making it worse!”
Amon grumbled, feeling his mood sour further as he was chided by a machine.
“So I’m just supposed to take orders from her because I was born in the forest and she with a silver spoon in her mouth? I did my share of pandering to royalty… and you see where it got me.”
He jerked back a few more times. But Scylla was insistent, so he finally pulled the blood-stained cloth from his chin so she could see.
“Silver spoon?” Scylla pouted as she worked her magics across his injury, sealing the lip and wiping the remaining caked blood with his handkerchief. “What silver spoon, what silver? And royalty of what? You certainly aren’t a loyal subject?”
“You came looking for a fight, Amon.” The white mage flipped up Amon’s darkened glasses with a droll look, before gathering up the scattered papers and books. “What is your problem today?”