This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Amon opened his mouth, then closed it, looking extremely uncomfortable at the loss of his glasses in a public place. But not wanting to let it show too much, he didn’t make a move to rectify the situation.
His eyes nervously darted to the parchment which lay half-pinned under one of the books on the fringe of the mess. Then, they settled on Scylla, doing anything he could to focus on something other than the feeling of irrational panic that wanted to overwhelm him.
“I… really did not come here to pick a fight. I didn’t know you’d be here.” The Elezen measured his words slowly. “Actually, I had things on my mind, and came here to be alone.”
“You have a funny way of expressing your desire to be alone.” Scylla’s eyes followed Amon’s down to the off color of parchment. She reached down, and picked up the book with a quiet whisper.
“I don’t seem to remember this…”
Amon coughed slightly, trying to act as if he’d never see the parchment in his life.
“Probably fell out of one of those books,” he fibbed as smoothly as he could.
What are you up to, you little scoundrel?
Scylla frowned at Amon, and unfolded the parchment, eyes scanning the top.
“Funny enough, your name is in the corner.”
“O..ohhh…” His voice raised a bit higher, ears quivering a bit, having forgotten it was addressed to him. “Yes well…”
Amon lashed out a hand to swipe it from her, hoping he’d prevent her from reading the rest of it.
“’Tis mine. No prying!”
“Fine. ‘Tis yours.”
Scylla spoke with a mock Amon voice, before releasing the parchment. She gave him a look with narrowed eyes before gathering up what remained of the books on the ground.
“So, your aether is getting that chaotic.” She spoke casually as she put all of the remaining books and papers in her leather knapsack. “Consulting an aetherologist, then?”
“Mmmmm….” Amon pursed his lips tightly, not answering at first. He took the opportunity to put his glasses back on as he folded and tucked the parchment into his pocket.
“Seems I’ll not find the solitude I was seeking here. I’ll wish you a good day, and be on my way.”
“Amon! You come here and cause a ruckus and you expect to get away with… that?” Scylla stood up and slid herself right in front of his path. “I’ll ask again. What is going on?”
“’Tis none of your business,” the Elezen grumbled, taking a chance to grasp her shoulders and move her out of his way. “I’ve got the situation well in hand. I was directed to this fellow by Ben. You’re so fond of Ben, so you should be glad to hear I took his advice.”
“’Tis my business, too!” Scylla huffed and bit on her lower lip, pointing her finger at him.
“You do nothing but complain about me and my royal status, having fun with your mockery of a princess. Well… it’s the job of an Allagan royal to attend to the well-being of her subjects.” The woman crossed her arms.
“Don’t you think I can feel it? There’s something wrong with your aetherflow.” Scylla reached her hand up to his choker. “And it has to be pretty serious if you are depending on others.”
“D-don’t touch that!” Amon jittered back out of her reach, hoping his height would allow him to keep the choker away from her prying hands.
He bit off the words sharply, “And since when has it been your job to attend to my well-being? You merely put up with the fact that we’re forced to co-exist in the same household, but when was the last time you even so much as gave me the time of day?”
“What? You’re the one who locks himself in his room all day and leaves the dirty dishes in the basin?” Scylla pouted, reaching again for his neckpiece. “Now stop complaining and let me take a look.”
Amon struggled to understand exactly what Scylla was demanding, and why. Was there almost a hint of concern to her voice? Or was he imagining it?
She was probably just responding to the healer’s training she’d recently experience, he reasoned to himself. Either way, as long as Scylla didn’t steal away the choker, he decided there was likely little harm in granting her request.
Leaning down, he murmured, “What do you believe you’re going to learn from this?”
“I’m trying to figure out what you are hiding from me.” Scylla cupped her palms over his choker, running both of her hands along his neck until the tips of her nails touched his temples along his head. Though aether-patterning wasn’t her strongest ability in healing, she knew enough to feel the tumultuous patterns of energy swirling and storming, carefully sealed and sorted by the amulet around his neck.
The white mage clicked her tongue and crossed her arms, giving an expectant stare.
“Something obviously didn’t go well in the transfer, did it?”
“’Twas a risk I knew about before I took it,” Amon pursed his lips. “The alternative was not too agreeable with my future’s outlook. Clones locked in stasis for as long as this one don’t always accept aether easily. I’ll figure it out with time. Of course, you must have chosen something similar to be here, yourself.”
It was never something he’d had a chance to address with Scylla – how she’d survived. Obviously, this was a cloned form, similar to his own, but without all the oddities he seemed to be experiencing.
“You rarely dabbled in this line of work,” the Elezen tilted his head. “How did you end up here?”
“You are right.” Scylla drew her hands back down around his form. “Cloning wasn’t my cup of tea, unless it was dealing with the pellet project. But neither was conjoining people with monstrous vicious creatures.”
The woman sighed as she continued her examination.
“Let’s just say, your dear trusted voidsent could be bought by the highest bidder, and promises of riches and forms. They whispered of the clones of dear, monstrous Queen Scylla ready to ship to the lady of darkness. I simply had them filch a bit of equipment and had them use your own process to pattern myself.”
The white mage put her finger to his forehead, looking closely for the flow of aether.
“It was easy enough to modify the code… Your sloppiness assured that there was some of my original patterning code left from your original vile actions.”
“So here we are.” Scylla clutched her hands at her side, turning her head up to give Amon a steely stare. “Sometimes when I’m here it’s easy to forget that you were the same man who so easily ripped away my form without a thought.”
She took a deep breath, stepping away.
“But then you make me remember, and it all comes back.”
Amon grit his teeth as Scylla recounted the situation for him. Though he was not fond of Voidsent, he had not trusted a soul in the Tower to keep the secrets his work exposed. And so, he employed creatures of the Void as his lab assistants, thinking this would be the safest route to take.
“Blasted Voidsent!” the Elezen grumbled under his breath. “They always did play their own games.”
He looked at Scylla – at her glare and balled fists – rubbed at his lip, which was now completely healed.
“I merely asked a question. I was not trying to dredge up your unpleasant memories,” Amon frowned darkly, trying to muster his pride before his rival once more. “But you’re wise to be wary. I may be locked in a weaker form… for now… but that doesn’t change much. Finding information on the aether unbalance will take me a step closer to regaining what I lost.”