The Technologist and the Tower - Part 4

Date Posted: November 30, 2022

“Sir!” the guard turned at once, inspecting them with a sharp eye from under the shadow of his half-helm. Amon noted that the man didn’t move for a weapon – thus wasn’t in a fully alarmed state – and he hoped that meant that some kind of compromise could be reached.

But before the bard could speak, the guard relaxed with an expression of curiosity towards his cousin.

“Sir Kouris? I didn’t know you’d returned. How did you get into the Ocular?” the guard inquired, speaking to the Elezen with familiarity.

Tad didn’t answer – he was just as much a pro in skirting sticky topics as his cousin – but instead gave a slight bow and apology, “Forgive me for the surprise visit! I’ve come to see the Exarch if I may, but he doesn’t appear to be in his chambers.”

This seemed to appease the guard well enough. Perhaps the man was used to strange people turning up at this Exarch’s chamber in an unannounced way.

Amon’s mind was swimming at this meeting. This man – who was he? He didn’t appear to be Allagan. He didn’t have Allagan mannerisms, nor did he speak in the Allag language. And yet, here he was, stationed as if he belonged there right within the Syrcus halls.

As many questions as the bard had in his mind, he was not afforded any chance to ask.

“Oh sir,” the guard responded to Tad’s request somberly. “You have been away for a while.”

The Elezen’s expression shifted to deep concern. “Is something the matter?”

“The Exarch is…” the man stopped in mid-explanation, hiding his gaze the way someone in distress does.

Tad didn’t pressure the words out of the fellow, though Amon was getting a bit impatient with the whole scene. He had research to be doing after all this time being locked out of his own Tower, and all of this was just a stumbling block to his desired progress.

Once the guard composed himself, he said, “I shall have to call for a guard escort for you. It’s something you’d have to see rather than hear, sir. If you don’t mind?”

“Sure… sure,” Tad’s tone was sympathetic, worried, and encouraging. Either he was on board with all this diversion, or he was doing a good job in pretending to be.

Amon sighed into his cousin’s ear quietly, speaking the old Allagan language, “We don’t have time for this.”

The other shot a somewhat disgruntled look over his shoulder in response. “Amon, the Exarch was my friend. I’m only here… you’re only here… because he assisted me. If something has happened, I need to know.”

The bard backed off from that, sensing the determination in his cousin’s mindset. “Very well.”

He wasn’t pleased that they were being instantly sidetracked. He wasn’t pleased the whole time they were forced to wait in the Tower hall. He especially wasn’t pleased when two armed guards appeared and requested that the Elezen follow.

In fact, it felt an awful lot like being led directly to captivity.

“Are you certain we can trust them?” Amon breathed Allagan into his cousin’s ear.

The only answer Tad gave was yet another frown over his shoulder.

“Just asking. This seems mighty suspicious.”

“Relax. I’ve got this,” his cousin replied.

That was the last of the bard’s vocal objections to the situation. Though this was waylaying his plans, following the guards up through the Tower did begin to give him an idea of the state this version the Tower was in.

It was fully active, for one. The structure’s aether, though different feeling, was yet strong. Many of the old technological systems had not been rebooted and very few seemed in the state of functioning – the elevators, for example.

These men took the staircases as if they weren’t even aware of the elevator system that lay only a short distance away. Feeling snarky as he was, Amon wasn’t going to offer them the information, either.

It seemed as if much of the upper Tower, which contained the quarters for Allagan nobility, was fairly untouched. Some of it even appeared still sealed away, and he wondered if his own room was still fairly much as he left it.

Much to Amon’s surprise, the guards led them straight through the Final Curtain – that familiar dark place that he suddenly decided he wasn’t so happy to see again – and up to the throne room at the top of the Tower. At this point, his mind was swimming with memories that overlapped reality. It might have been the strange aether in the air, or just the emotion of returning to this place crushing him the further they walked.

That’s when he heard an unusual sound from Tad. He turned to look at what his cousin was approaching. It was hard to determine at first, but as he walked closer, he could make out a strange crystal structure.

No. Not a structure.

It was a person. Or was once a person.

“Oh no…” Tad made that soft, sad sound again, reaching his hand out slightly.

Amon steeled himself, straightening as his eyes traced over the figure. The face, chiseled into the same crystal of the Tower’s creation, half covered in a cowl, still struck him as familiar. Though he didn’t know why.

“How did this happen?” his cousin asked, turning slightly to the two guards who revered the statue in silence.

He’d never seen something like this before. Nor was this ever recorded in Allag’s history that he knew of - Syrcus Tower claiming someone as its own. Bringing someone into its own make.

One of the guards responded with a slow shake of his head. “If you need the details, you’d best take up with Beq Lugg. He’s the keeper of much of the Tower’s knowledge now that the Exarch is…”

He paused and changed his words in mid-sentence.

“They were working on some sort of soul container, I heard. It’s thought that the Exarch didn’t die, but rather his soul was carried across to another world by the Warrior of Darkness.”

That was a lot to digest.

“Oh?” Tad sounded a bit more hopeful, as if some of this made some sense to him. “Mayhaps we’ll have to speak with Beq Lugg, then. Where can we find him?”

Amon groaned inwardly. Yet another diversion.