The Technologist and the Tower - Part 13

Date Posted: May 11, 2023

Tad strode out of the large chambers into the hall, scuffing the heel of his boot along the slick crystal floors. It was hard to believe that in the matter of a few days, they had infiltrated the Tower, found Amon’s personal room, re-powered the upper reaches of the structure, restored his weird Node, and set up a new lab and database operation.

Amon was well pleased, and it made Tad glad to see him motivated and in good spirits. Restoring the Node in particular had worked wonders on getting his cousin out of the rut he’d been struggling in. Small thought it was, Tad knew when Amon wasn’t acting himself – and he hadn’t been for a long time.

But if I had just learned the things that he has about himself, how would I have responded? Probably not much differently. And he has a lot more at stake than I do in the current age.

One day, Tad knew, he’d have to return to his proper time-cycle. His wife and daughter awaited him. As did the people of the forest – while they were hardy, the age was dark, and they needed every hand they could get.

But before I can return, I must make sure the future’s in good hands.

To Tad, that had always meant Amon’s hands. The past had been cruel to his cousin, and had held his life hostage in orchestrations beyond his control. But now, the Allagan technologist was an Eorzean transplant, having learned a different way of life. Given another chance.

I am sure he has changed for the better for it… and will continue to do so.

The Elezen continued down the hall, following the almost imperceptible marks he’d left when they first passed this way. He knew that he’d need a guide to find his way from Amon’s chambers to the storage room with the secret passage, and so he’d left a trail that he could follow between the two.

While the past could wait a little longer, there was another concern on his mind.

I have to figure out how we’re going to get back to the Source.

The last time he was in the First, the Exarch had been instrumental in helping him find his way to the Source in a roundabout correct time and place. Now, his friend was beyond his reach, and while he had the ability to move between the shards, he didn’t have the knowledge to do it safely.

While Amon was fine making a home in the Tower for now, Tad knew that they would have to return to their own world in time. Even now, his gil stash was growing more meager as he was bringing meals from the city below.

I’m going to have to get a job or two to continue being able to afford the food, if nothing else.

He wasn’t looking forward to that. Most of the paying jobs around the Crystarium – at least the ones he remembered – always seemed to have to do with fighting Sin Eaters. While Tad was perfectly capable of doing so, those things always creeped the ever-living Everschade out of him.

As Tad approached the now-familiar doors to the old storage room, he got the very strong sensation that he was being watched. He paused for a moment, making a show of investigating something in the hall that had nothing to do with his destination, then he strode past the doors and kept moving.

Whoever was watching him, he did not want to tip them off about the secret corridor in the storage area.

If you want to trail me, I’ll lead you on a merry chase, my friend.

It turned out this wasn’t needed, however. A tall shadow stepped out from a half-open door further down the hall and began to approach him.

Tad stopped walking, trying to look calm, though his hand brushed the gun holstered at his side. If it was just a Crystarium guard doing his job, or even a lost citizen of the city, the last thing he wanted to do was cause tension between him and the people below.

“Hello?” he called, his voice echoing slightly from the crystal walls.

“I thought that was you, Tad,” a familiar voice answered back.

As the figure moved out of the shadows into the light, the Elezen took in a surprised breath. “Ben?”

“Sorry if I surprised you. I was hoping to find you alone,” the tall, white-haired mage gave a friendly smile as he approached.

“What are you doing here?”

“I could ask the same of you,” Ben arched an eyebrow.

“I…” Tad felt his stomach sink, realizing they were busted.

The mage must have read his expression, because he laughed, speaking in an easy tone. “Don’t worry. I’m not here on behalf of anyone but myself.”

“Not Gridania?”

“Nope. No one.”

“Then how… why?” Tad asked, trying to relax a bit but failing.

“Let’s just say that I know when a bit of dimensional hopping is going on,” he responded nonchalantly.

Tad’s eyes grew wide as thoughts and possibilities began to dance through his mind. Ben was one of the people who had been involved with this from the start – his plan to infiltrate and remove Amon from the Tower, that was. The mage had done his part, watched over the Allagan as he adjusted to a new life in Gridania, and generally did what he needed to do to ensure Amon was safe without compromising the Eorzeans around him.

Still, Tad didn’t know where Ben came from or why he’d made it his task to help. It wasn’t as if he was being paid much, if any. Amon was rarely as thankful or kind as he should have been for the mage’s protection. And yet…

“Are you…” Tad wondered out loud, “This age’s Warrior of Light, mayhaps?”

Ben looked truly surprised at the question. He just smiled and shook his head. “No. Not I.”

“Then who are you? Why have you always volunteered to help us?”

“That’s a more complicated pair of questions than you realize.”

“So? Give it a shot,” Tad crossed his arms and leaned back. “I’ve got plenty of time.”

“Oh, I know, seeing that you hop through the ages as you have.”

“Then you know about that?”

“Of course,” Ben told him. “Rifters tend to sense other Rifters around them.”

“Rifters…” Tad echoed thoughtfully. It took him a moment a moment to put it together. No one ever accused him of being the brightest of Warriors of Light. “You’re a dimensional traveler, then?”


“But that still doesn’t answer why. Surely there are lots of other places you could be.”

The mage nodded slowly. “And I’ve been lots of other places. However, your dimension and my home dimension have a significant amount of overlap. It’s in my best interest to make sure to help out where I can.”

“That’s a thing? Dimensional overlap?”

“You’ve got a lot to look forward to learning,” Ben laughed good-naturedly.

“Well, ‘tisn’t like I’ve been doing this whole jumping through portals thing for very long,” Tad frowned. He knew the mage was right, though, he was messing with things that he had very little knowledge of. To have someone a bit more experienced advise him, such as Ben, would be a boon.

“You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find,” came the answer, complete with wide hand gestures. “Existence doesn’t forget, it simply branches into something new. Those other possibilities, other worlds, other timelines… they still carry on. Some are a bit harder to stumble into than others, but they’re out there.”

“’Tis incredible! How did you learn all this?”

“A bit of reckless experimentation,” Ben admitted. “I wouldn’t suggest you try that at home.”

“I don’t intend to,” Tad told him. “Maybe if you could drop me some pointers, I won’t need to, either.”

“I think we can work something out. I know you probably don’t want to be stuck here in the First forever, after all.”

“No, that wouldn’t be idea. Amon’s got his head in the data right now, but I’ve been wondering how we’ll get back.”

“Now that’s something I can help with,” Ben walked back down the hall towards Amon’s chambers.

Tad wanted to inquire, but he’d asked enough silly questions already. So, for now, he just followed the mage. The Elezen also noted that he didn’t have to tell him where to go – Ben already appeared to know the way.

Instead of heading directly into the room, however, he took a slight swerve into a small doorway nearby. Inside looked to be what was once used as a closet of some sorts, but even this was quite roomy within.

Ben pulled aside a curtain and inspected the far corner with an eye that had done such a thing many times. Then he nodded, “This will do. We can always modify it later.”

Again, Tad didn’t know exactly what the mage was talking about, and he didn’t want to seem more foolish for asking. He simply stood back and watched what was to come.

What a spectacle that turned out to be!

Ben spread his hands in a grand gesture, the aether around him flowing from the Tower – somehow, he knew how to tap into it? – and between his fingers. This was unlike any magic that Tad had ever seen before. Probably because it wasn’t of their dimension, much less their world.

Intricate strands came together, pooling out in a gentle oblong shape. At first, it looked something like a standing mirror, pulsing with energy and shimmering with aether. Then, as it took form, it reminded Tad more of the surface of a rippling pond – ever moving, ever shifting with an energy of its own.

Finally, the mage stepped back, one hand tapping his chin, to inspect his work. Pulling back the curtain, he tested to see if it was hidden by its surroundings. While a slight glow danced along the walls behind the curtain, it wouldn’t be found from the hallway.

“There you are,” Ben said, looking pleased with himself.

“What is it?” Tad finally asked the dumb question.

“It’s a rift that will take you back to Shirogane when you wish,” came the answer. “I’ve placed the other end in an unused room in the Free Company house. For now, that should work well enough, right?”

The Elezen perked up in amazement. “Well enough? This is… incredible! How did you… Is it safe?”

Ben laughed, and as if to prove a point, he threw open the curtain and strode straight into the swirling aether, vanishing as he did. Tad’s breath whooshed out of him in surprise and concern. When the mage didn’t return, curiosity got the better of him.

Slowly the Elezen approached the swirling energy. Gingerly, he stuck a finger to it, only to find a slight tingling tickle in return. Taking in a breath, Tad then stuck his entire hand through. Upon pulling it back out, he found it still attached.

“Very well,” he steeled himself, then stepped through.

There was a bit of a jolt, but not the same experience of floating through time-space as there was in using the Tower to shift into the First. Instead, he was simply and neatly standing in a small room that he quickly identified as a part of the Free Company house.

“Incredible,” he whispered.

“Thank you!” Ben said brightly.

Tad had forgotten the other mage was still there.  Not to dwell on it too much, the Elezen asked, “How long do we have?”

“Till what?”

“This… uh… rift… vanishes.”

“It remains as long as I don’t close it,” Ben informed him.

“’Tis a problem? I mean, it doesn’t drain your aether or anything like that?” Tad asked with arched eyebrows.

“No. It’s taken practice but I can set rifts like this on their own permanently.”

“Wow,” the Elezen mused. “Do you think ‘tis something you could teach me?”

Ben smiled slightly, “Maybe? We’ll have to see.”