Truthtelling - Part 2Date Posted: February 11, 2022
Though the story was told with the aplomb of a bard, it was fully accurate with very little concealed. Amon’s words were smooth but his body was tense as he ended, finally telling of the newest discovery – that he was the clone of the Technologist Amon, created for reasons unknown, and had taken the original’s place during the fall of Allag.
Zuri sat quietly for a time. He hoped that meant she didn’t glean the full understanding of what he’d just told her. The less she took away from his story, the better off he’d probably be.
The girl finally spoke, glancing over at him. “I’ve always felt there was something different about you. All of the hints were in front of me, but never once did I guess that you were actually…”
“Mayhaps you are too kind to think that your friend is a monster from the Allagan age.”
“I’m not sure what I am anymore.”
Zuri reached over unexpectedly and took his hand in a reassuring manner. Amon hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until he released it.
“You’re Amon,” she told him simply. Then she gave a tiny smile, as if testing the waters to determine if that’s what he actually was.
“And that doesn’t worry you?”
“To be honest, not really,” Zuri admitted.
“I know. You probably think I’m a silly, ignorant little girl,” she said in a teasing tone. “But call it a hunch. The same hunch that led me to invite you to our group when I first met you in Mor Dhona years ago.”
Had it been that long? It had, hadn’t it?
“You taught me to read a crowd and judge character,” the AuRa added and crossed her arms, still treating it playfully. Maybe it was just the girl’s way of dealing with something too terrible to consider.
“’Tis so,” Amon agreed. He didn’t add that if she’d read his character correctly, none of this would have come as a surprise to her. “Not that you have much to fear from a clone.”
“I may not know much about clones or your science, but you seem alive enough to me.”
“Of course,” he murmured. “Clones are alive, and some are even quite aware. They can be made to seem as real as the person they imitate. But that doesn’t mean they are people. The soul must be real.”
“You don’t think yours is?” Zuri asked.
“How can it be? I was merely a tool created to act upon the stage of Allagan history.”
“Then you were made to be as much like Amon as could you possibly be, right? I mean, you even fooled yourself, didn’t you?”
The Allagan pondered that for a moment before nodding.
Zuri shifted positions, still sitting very close to his side, her palms propping her up just behind her. Then she looked up at the sky and began to speak.
“In the stories of my people, we don’t know what makes a soul real… or even what happens to a soul when someone dies. Some say we all return to the Lifestream to be reborn again. But even if that’s true, something had to create all these souls to begin with,” the girl turned to peer at him. “Then, it’s not impossible that new souls are born or old souls turn into something new all the time. We just don’t know it.”
Amon considered that and agreed, “’Tis possible. Though, I didn’t know you were interested in the philosophy of souls.”
She laughed. “There’s just stories I’ve always heard since I was a child.”
“I see.” His response was noncommittal, but he hoped that she’d explain.
And she did.
“Like the tale of the wooden horse. Have you heard that one?”
“No, I can’t say I have,” Amon settled back to listen, partially amused. As he stated earlier, one did not simply give up being a bard.
“There was once this wooden toy horse that wished for nothing more but to become real,” Zuri gave him a small smile. “The horse was loved so much by the boy who owned him, and experienced so many things – both happy and sad – by watching life around him. In the end, the horse eventually grew a soul of his own and became real, all due to his desire to protect the boy who had always cared for him.”
“And you believe that to be true?”
“Maybe. Do you think we have figured it all out?”
“No,” Amon gave a soft laugh. “Of course not. ‘Tis always more mysteries in the world.”
“Then why can’t a wooden horse grow a soul?” she asked. “Why can’t a clone also become a real person through life experiences?”
“’Tis wishful thinking,” he sighed, though a part of him hoped her idealistic thoughts held some merit.
Amon didn’t feel like something that was not alive. He still grappled with emotion and held on to the memories of a lifetime long past. She was right – if he was a clone, he was one made so masterfully that even he had not guessed the truth of his own origins.
He was a creation meant to replace the original Amon. Though why… why… Amon would abandon Allag and its people was still a question that gnawed in the back of his mind.
He was so caught up in his musings that he almost missed Zuri’s next words. “Maybe a clone made by an Ascian is more likely to…”
Amon’s head jerked upwards as his eyebrows drew low. “An Ascian?”
He wasn’t fully versed in knowledge of the Ascians, except for what Scylla had shared with him. If anything, she was the one who sought out this kind of knowledge, and it filled her with nothing but rage against them as enemies.
She even claimed that information passed around – possibly from the Scions themselves – proved that the Ascians had been involved in orchestrating the rise and fall of Allag. And that a similar thing was happening all over again in Garlemald.
The whispers of the End of Days were held up as proof of this. But…
“You mean you don’t know about Fandaniel?” Zuri asked.
“What’s a Fandaniel?”
“Oh…” the girl looked down as if she’d just stepped in something distasteful. “I’d been hearing people in town mention… I mean, I just thought you’d remember…”
Amon felt the tension creeping back into his body. “Remember what?”