Worrier of Light – Part 4Date Posted: December 23, 2021
Amon had to admit that he felt a lump in his throat at Tad’s quiet declaration. It had been a bitter pill to believe his own cousin had been among those who set in motion the things that lead to his death in the Tower that day. As much as he’d tried to stray away from that part of the story, and struggled to keep at bay the pang of pain he felt thinking his own kin would betray him – though for good reason – the idea had bubbled up in the back of his mind several times throughout their conversation.
“You did what?” Amon asked, mostly for clarification.
“’Twasn’t part of Salina’s plan, of course. I’m not sure what she would think about me pouring more risk into the pot,” Tad told him with a genuine look of concern. “But I didn’t come to this time only to make sure Xande was defeated. I also wanted to do everything within my power to save you.”
That lump in the throat returned, a strange emotion that Amon couldn’t identify. He always knew that too many things had gone right for as impromptu and dangerous an undertaking he’d underwent at that final moment of defeat in the Tower.
To attempt to transfer a soul into a clone was tricky, even in the best of conditions.
To attempt to automate the transferral of a soul into a clone at the moment in which the original body took a traumatic deathblow… and by means of technology and said clone body in a nearby hidden location – but still much further a distance than was comfortable.
…So, so much could have gone wrong. And yet, it had not.
“You were there,” Amon whispered.
“Aye,” Tad told him, his own emotions welling in his eyes, though he held his face stern. “I made certain I was part of the raid on the Tower and fought next to the Warrior of Light – but for only one reason. To find a way to bring you out of this alive.”
Amon slowly shook his head.
“In all honesty, I didn’t know how I would do that,” his cousin continued, spreading his hands. “I didn’t know you’d set something up – you and Scylla both – until I arrived. Mayhaps ‘twas the Echo that told me, but I then knew. And I saw enough of your memories to be able to ensure that the process was successful… without the rest of the raid being aware ‘twas my reason for being there.”
He gave a soft laugh. “How do you think you both ended up in Gridania?”
“I… had pondered. But I tried not to think too much on it,” Amon replied. “I was merely told that I was found in the Tower as an unknown and taken into custody to be healed.”
“Aye,” Tad said. “’Twas by my design. I had assistance from Benjamin in the matter.”
Amon’s ears perked up at that. Again, the strange-feeling mage had been involved with something beyond the Elezen’s own knowing, and had never a once given him reason to question. Ben was very good at secret keeping, it seemed.
“I see. You were here, but never revealed yourself?” the bard finally asked.
“Aye… though I longed to meet with you again, ‘twas more important that you find your own way. Your own life. ‘Tis something you needed to do more than anything else.”
“You risked a lot… for me… because…?”
That’s when Tad’s face finally turned truly somber. “Amon… you’re all that’s left of my cousin.”
“’Tis a strange way to put it.”
The green eyes flicked away, avoiding Amon’s gaze. Something was amiss.
“Tad? ‘Tis more you mean to say?”
“’Tis why I’m here today,” Tad’s voice was thick. “Part of the story I didn’t want you to know if I could help it. But ‘tis coming to light. I didn’t want you to hear it somewhere else, and risk undoing all that you’ve worked so hard to make of yourself.”
This… was concerning. Amon didn’t know how to respond. So he simply gave his cousin time to come to terms with whatever it was he was struggling to put into words.
“We… the Resistance… had a lot of information that others did not have. Much of it was due to Clio’s work.”
Amon winced at Clio’s name, the reminder that someone he’d once loved had fought and died so valiantly to undermine all that he had worked for in the Empire. But for good reason.
“Part of that information dealt with you… the nature of you… and of what became of Amon of Allag.”
He furrowed his brows at this. Then he said the words he’d later wish he hadn’t, “Enlighten me.”
Tad’s face crumpled in compressed pain. “We know that the Amon who went down with the Tower, the Amon who put everything in stasis when the Empire fell, and eventually woke in this age… was a clone.”
Amon let out a breath between his teeth, the sound of a desperate laugh. “Of course I’m a clone. The body at least. How else did you think I could survive?”
“No,” Tad shook his head. “He… you… were fully a clone going into the Dalamud incident. Before this.”
“’Tis inconceivable,” he retorted, quickly dismissing it. “If I were a true clone, I’d know it. After all, I know all there is to know about clones and cloning. For a clone to be so self-aware and alive as I am… ‘tis simply impossible. Clones don’t have souls – unless you’re saying that I’m…”
“No, ‘tisn’t what I’m saying at all-“
Amon didn’t allow him any other words as he pushed on, “I remember my childhood. I remember growing up with you, and all our little secrets! Would a fake know these things? You practically used them against me just a bit ago!”
“I know my life from back to front! All the knowledge of the lead Allagan technologists, my studies into vivimancy and eternal life, all the…” his ranting trailed off a little as he thought back on it.
Really thought back on it.
There were many times, many things, that came across as fuzzy in his memories. Not the trivial memories, like his distant childhood. But more intense things from his late days in the Tower. He’d always dismissed that as simply an effect of all the experimentation and enhancements used – that could still be the case, but…
“Amon, I know you don’t want to hear or believe this,” Tad said with a somber, even voice. “But you know me… you trust me, right? I wouldn’t tell you something like this – given all that’s happened – unless I had facts to back it up, aye? I don’t want to dig up Clio’s work but I can show you what we know if ‘tis what it takes.”
The bard’s golden eyes fell unblinking on his cousin in all of his stoic, resolute and completely honest demeanor. Everything in him wanted to fight this insane concept. Something that was beyond impossible – he should know, he was the one who was living that life, and it wasn’t the life of a clone!
And yet… Tad would not have traveled so far, done so much, if he had not had a good reason for it.
“Tad… I…” He felt his resolve slipping as everything he thought he knew about himself began to shatter around him.
There was a dizzying moment when the world dimmed and Amon felt his knees give way slightly. He stumbled, reeling at the impossibility of it all. Tad reached out to support him, trying desperately to babble things about soul fragments and the real Amon – things that didn’t reach the bard’s ears.
His chest tightened and he thought he heard a strange, twisted sound – maybe a broken sob – wrench from his own throat. His thoughts were too scattered to make sense of things. Only one word reverberated in his mind over and over.
Those things which he, himself created, used as tools, and was so quick to discard once he deemed the tools broken. At least… he thought he had. Or… were these implanted memories of someone else’s life masquerading as a past he’d never really experienced…?
Tad was trying to get him to sit. Amon could feel his body shaking all over, as if that very clone-form that he’d grumbled and chided was now turning on him with its own sense of revenge.
You were never real from the start. It was all just a very clever act of puppetry.
In the middle of it, though his vision was hazy, Amon could see that the far door to the shop was open. And standing just outside, the door propped with her hand, stood Scylla – the expression on her face unreadable.