This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Weeks had slipped away since Scylla was led back to the little house nestled in the hills of Shirogane. In some ways, life returned to something that resembled normal.
While not allowed to travel far, Scylla found it easy enough to earn a living. Zel let her help out at the little company infirmary that she owned. The white mage was comfortable enough healing the numerous jellyfish stings and broken toes that plagued the tourists at the coastal hamlet.
When she left her room, or went to eat, she simply spent most of her leisure time watching the fog settle upon the port of Kugane from the secluded shores. She made it a point to stay far away from Amon, who seemed to give the same generous boundary to her. The others would occasionally make light conversation- Koh especially tried to connect with her, but she mostly worked in solitude.
The time had done little to diminish her homesickness, though she wasn’t sure whether the homesickness spurred from Gridania or her freshly recalled memories from Allag. The others had done their best to redecorate the little storage room into something that approximated living quarters.
Koh had gone out of her way to be especially kind, always finding little knick-knacks or furnishings from forest nation which seemed a hundred-million malms away. She was resigned to this simple life – after all, it did beat the alternative of being locked in some diremite-infested gaol in a mold-lined cave.
Unfortunately, the nightmares would still plague her, leaving Scylla awake well-before dawn. It was one of these mornings that she had unceremoniously tripped on the package placed in front of her door. It was a dog-earred paper box, much too small to fit the bulging Allagan informational node that sat quietly inside.
The… node… it was the node that was in Father’s lab at Azys Lla.
She had almost forgotten about the relic that was decimated in the crossfire between herself and Amon on their previous journey. Scylla ran her fingers across the scarred surface where debris had sliced into the plating. Though she was not a true technologist herself, she could tell that repairs had been made where they could – complex repairs that only an experienced Allagan would know how to make.
He fixed it..?
Scylla bit her lip as she took the node into her room, and set it down on the floor, grabbing one of the leftover tarts sitting on the table.
Why would Amon do that? Out of respect for my father? He wouldn’t do it for me?
Much to her chagrin, her father always had a soft spot for Amon, the son that he never had. From the moment that he found out about the boy, Amon had invaded their life. Whenever there was a trip, Amon was always tagging along. When Amon burnt her dress, her father had chalked it up to an unfortunate accident. When the Elezen tore apart her academy fair project, her father had chalked it up bad luck and a crystal-storm. Even when Amon had grown distant, trapped in his aether-drugged stupor, her father had simply said that the boy was going through a –rough- patch in his life.
Father was always making excuses for him…
When Amon brought the Emperor back, and her father’s boasting grew tenfold about Amon. Toasts were raised to talent never seen before in the Allagan Empire! As the campaign against the Meracydians intensified, her father withdrew in retirement to her homelands in Azys Lla, assisting the young technologists there with chimerical research. Without her father to guide him, Amon’s darker influence spread over Syrcus Tower. When she told her father about the voidsent in the Tower, he refused to believe that Amon had anything to do with it.
Then the accident happened.
She had been told that father was conducting a summoning experiment with a dozen other technologists, and the portal had gone out of control and there was a huge aetherial explosion. The others in the facility had claimed that her father had saved everyone else at the cost of his life. At her father’s internment, Amon stood over the memory-plate long after the sun had set.
It was the last time I ever saw Amon shed tears. I don’t even know if he’s capable of doing these things anymore with his mind as aether-jacked as it is.
Scylla closed her eyes, letting the memories flow through her mind, running her fingers along the etched lines of the node. She pressed her hand on the control surface, causing the node to light up in a scarlet red as it moved to levitate.
The node just bobbed up and down, floating over the table, giving no response. The woman sighed, likely figuring that the logic had been fried in all the action. She sighed at the node, putting the flat of her hand on the top of node.
“Not good.” Scylla sighed, shaking her head as went to sit down. “I suppose the fault is mine for taking the building down on you.”
She curled up on the couch, giving a yawn as she intended to go back to sleep. “Now I have the world’s most ancient bed-light.”
As she turned away, she thought she heard a quiet sound of whirring and runic relays buzzing to life. She ignored the mechanical sounds as an afterthought, as her eyelids fell shut.
She had fallen asleep no more than a few minutes, when she heard the ancient voice quietly call out to her. She turned around only to be greeted by a holographic image of her long passed father. Eyes widened as he began to relay a message meant for eons past.
Scylla was still in her nightclothes as she hurried down the hall, holding the node under one arm. The house was silent, with everyone still fast asleep. She quietly knocked at Amon’s door, staring through the lock.
“Amon! Get up you no-good Elezen!” Scylla hissed. “The node is awake!”
Amon must have fallen asleep at his desk again, as he came awake with his face in a book. With a yawn and a grumble, he straightened up and rubbed his eyes. He’d thought he’d heard someone call his name… and that sounded suspiciously like Scylla.
Why would she break the stalemate?
Maybe he’d just dreamed the whole thing…. Or, so he thought… until he heard a rapid banging on his door again.
The Elezen pushed himself to his feet and shuffled across the room, opening the door to peer out. Sure enough, Scylla stood there, looking a little frazzled, with the node in her arms.
So she had found it. The node he did his best to restore. Though, without proper tools, he wasn’t able to do nearly as much as it needed.
Amon couldn’t tell if she was happy or upset at the surprise he’d left for her. Excited about something… yes.
“Good evening, Princess,” the Bard murmured. “What brings you here so late?”
Scylla gave Amon a baffled stare, before shaking her head.
“It’s far closer to morning, Amon.”
She peered under his arm into the dark of his room. “And we have to talk.”
Amon frowned quietly, but any change of mind that led to Scylla initiating a conversation was… probably… maybe… hopefully?.. a good one? He motioned into his lab-like chambers with one hand, taking a step back from the doorway as to make room for her entry.
“Unexpected,” the Elezen said. “But feel free to come in. Nothing here bites, I promise.”
Of course, his “lab” was not really much of one seeing he had no real equipment to speak of. It was mostly an assortment of shelves with some bits and pieces of things he’d gathered – some plants, some parts of wildlife – as he’d put some time into learning the study the Eorzeans called Alchemy now. The study was nothing even close to the intricacies of aetherochimerabiology… but it was something to pass the time.
Scylla’s face twisted into a frown, as she began to take in the trappings and surroundings of the makeshift lab.
Flamboyant and outlandish – just like everything she remembered of the wayward Elezen.
There was a small desk surrounded by Allagan and Eorzean equipment meshed together with monster heads and tipped potions laying about.
I shouldn’t have come here… I’m a fool to believe that he’s capable of even a shred of true remorse.
“Really… Amon…?” She eyed the stack of books and paper laying on one of the laboratory benches. Her eyes caught onto one particular bookstack with a guarded frown.
“Anatomy of Chimerical constructs?” She grabbed the gold-lined tome in disgust, sending the other books tumbling off the desk. “You’re starting this all over again, now with the Eorzeans?”
Scylla looked in his eyes, tapping on the node. “Do they get the same treatment as your criminals, clones, or unlucky princesses that get blamed for your crimes?”
“You’ve hardly walked through the door and you’re already judging my intentions?” Amon frowned and crossed his arms defensively. “Is it wrong to gather up the sliver of information these people have retained simply out of curiosity and to get a sense of what they know and what they don’t?”
Of course it was a mistake to invite her into his chamber. She’d only see it the way she wanted to see it – as something dark, conniving and twisted. Where innocent Eorzeans were targets for his plots and plans.
Not that he could blame her for thinking that. Even if it wasn’t true.