Amon’s day began like any other.
A spot of tea and a muffin in the morning. Busking in his favorite spot, near the weather-teller in Gridania.
The songs he played were all upbeat and cheerful. The mood everywhere he looked was such that no one wanted to hear something sad or overly thoughtful. Being an entertainer looking to please, and the fact that his tips depended on it, he was only obliged to give the crowd what they needed.
Not that there was much of a crowd to be had. Despite his best efforts and rousing tunes, songs that would have once been met with at least a few pausing passer-bys, Amon had failed to do much in the way of lifting spirits that day.
He couldn’t blame them – the threat of the towers scattered across the world was now openly talked about. It was obvious that other more important things were on people’s minds. Especially when the words “primals” and “tempering” made their way into common conversation.
He’d heard that the Scions had found a way to reverse the condition, which was heartening to know. A path of study that he had put a firm end to in the days of the Empire.
Why was that?
When Amon tried to think back, things were often so hazy. So muddled. He couldn’t rightly remember all the details. And that left him vexed, to put it lightly.
Whether it was due to his mind having been racked with insanity or the outcome of the lifetime of self-experimentation he carried out, there were so many things he just couldn’t put his finger on for certain. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but one that he was not able to do much about.
Seeing that his busking was leaving him more time to think about things he’d rather cast behind him, Amon decided to put the music away and pursue something to eat. It was far past lunch and he was starting to feel hunger creeping in.
Taking care to loosen his bow and place his well-worn fiddle in its case, the bard was kneeling and intent on his instrument when his ears caught the sound of someone approaching. Approaching and clapping in a light round of applause.
So he did have an audience that he’d just not noticed? What an embarrassing turn of events, if so – hanging up his hat before addressing someone who had been watching!
When Amon peered up, squinting against the sunlight to take notice, his shock was so that he dropped his stick of rosin in the back corner of his fiddle case. The Elezen rose to his feet all in one quick, fluid movement, uttering a sound of disbelief.
It simply could not be!
“Greetings, Amon,” the familiar voice intoned. It still held a sliver of the gentle, boy-ish mischief that he remembered from their youthful forest days.
“Tad?” Amon’s voice croaked, feeling a lump swelling in his throat.
He scrubbed at his eyes, trying to rub away his cousin’s image – the one he’d seen lately within his dark dreams. When he looked again, the vision remained, studying him with a single eyebrow raised in amusement.
“Aye,” Tad responded shortly, also struggling to find his words.
“How…” Amon breathed, feeling his hands shaking. Something that he’d thought he’d gotten under control, what with all of Scylla’s healing administrations.
“You look well,” came the reply, almost cheerfully spoken, ignoring the question posed. Then, Tad reached out and gave his cousin a light fist-bump on the upper arm, an echo of a lifetime so long ago.
“You look… alive?”
“Aye, long story,” the Elezen responded, still forcing a casual tone.
Despite the scar marring his freckled cheek. The rugged coat of fur and straps and buckles, so unlike the garb his cousin once wore. The long, wild auburn-brown hair, now touched gold at the tips as if having been dipped into aetheric tincture.
Amon just let out another breath, doing what he could to cover the embarrassment of his quivering hands. Though, his ears gave him away, he knew.
“You don’t seem happy to see me,” Tad’s bright green eyes observed him intently.
This brought Amon out of his shock and into the present. If this really was Tad, alive and in the flesh, he should be happy. He should be absolutely overjoyed, in fact! But one question echoed in his mind.
“How do I know ‘tis real?”
To this, his cousin only broke out in a familiar, wolfish grin. While not given to the same theatrics as Amon, one could certainly see the family resemblance between them in some select mannerisms.
“Shall I recount things that only I would know to convince you? Here? In public?” Tad’s grin only grew wider as he cast his gaze about at those passing by, as if ready to stride up to them and begin sharing the most embarrassing tales he had privy to from their youth.
“You wouldn’t,” Amon’s voice fell deep with warning.
“Recall, if you would, the tree swing…”
The bard’s golden eyes widened in remembrance.
“Or perhaps, you’d rather the tale of the ear jar?”
His mouth twisted into a grimace.
“No? Mayhaps you rather discuss the outcome of the Allagnet device we ‘borrowed’ from your father that one time…”
“Tad!” Amon protested sharply. He quickly confirmed with one word his full belief that this was, indeed, that troublemaking Kouris he once knew so well.
As if that was all the acknowledgement the other Elezen needed, Tad’s gaze softened, and he stepped forward to embrace his cousin warmly. Amon responded stiffly, uncertain, but yielding himself to impossibility come true.
“You have a lot of explaining to do,” the bard muttered as he finally responded to the gesture with a gentled hugged-clap on Tad’s back.
“Aye. And I wish I didn’t,” was all Tad said.