This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
True to her word, Scylla had fallen fast asleep not long after the whole ordeal. It was likely that there had been some aether transfer, maybe even a recognition of her royal blood, at the gate. And while it had not budged the doors, it was enough to tire her out.
That was good. That meant there was a connection.
Amon paced back and forth in front of the door, mulling over his options, what could have gone wrong, and stepping over Scylla’s sleeping form with every pass he made.
The Elezen was certain he saw… felt… something during the first attempt. A ripple of energy had spread from Scylla’s hand in the beginning. But it hadn’t been enough. He didn’t know why.
His golden eyes traced the designs on the door, which pictured the outstretched hands of two Allagan royalty.
The story he heard from Koh was that in the end, it only took a single individual – G’raha Tia… a Miqo’te even… to close the gates and put the Tower back into slumber. Granted, he was gifted power not just from his own distant lineage, but also the power from imbued clones of Unei and Doga, to make it happen.
It could be very possible that this required more power than just one person could provide. In which case, Amon’s whole plan had hit a snag.
Or it could have just been poor timing.
Maybe the Tower was depowered and required energy gathered from sunlight to give it the extra boost they needed to open the gates? If that was the case, then once morning came, if he could just persuade Scylla to try a second time, he may get the results he desired…
Amon glanced over at Scylla where she slept and filed that away as a possibility.
Scylla wasn’t sure why she was so tired.
Perhaps it was the frantic pace of the whole adventure. Maybe it was her wildly unfounded fear that there was a wisp of truth to Amon’s words. Or it might have been the whole godsdammed haunted Syrcus tower itself driving her to the brink of sanity.
Her companion was far from his usual jovial self, walking back and forth in the firelight, mumbling about the day’s failures. Normally, the white mage would be one for conversation, particularly when Amon was in one of these troubled moods. But she couldn’t even stay from the embrace of sleep before twilight, and curled away early into the soft Coerthaswool bedroll.
The dream was different this time.
It was the same landscape of spiraling staircases and finely carved stone walls. Azure runic symbols sparkled and ebbed as if the tower was a living, breathing organism.
Scylla squinted her eyes, vision scanning as if to look which direction the nightmare would come from this time. She clutched her chest and stood as if to sprint, heart racing in anticipation of the chase.
But there was no hunt. The tower stood calm, as the lights streamed up to the invisible spire above. There were no sounds of howling, hungry, wolves. No flourish of the blood-red cape and the molded face of the masked skull.
Instead, behind her, was familiar tracings along the giant gold door of the great crystal tower. Relief drawings of ancient Allagan royalty were bathed in blue glow of the surrounding etchings, with both palms glowing with aetheric power. The same palms that Amon had failed to light before when they were on the outside of the tower.
Scylla’s eyes narrowed as she more closely examined her surroundings. There was no bedroll, or nightly cooking fire, and in place of the sky, there was the endless spiraling staircases of stone and crystal. The girl swallowed and took a deep breath, as realization came to her foggy mind.
I am inside the Crystal Tower.
Scylla swallowed, stepping backwards to the great entrance doors. They towered above, tightly sealed in the background.
The doors! Amon figured out a way of opening them?
“Amon?” Scylla called out, hearing her voice echo in the halls. Fear bubbled up in her chest as she remembered the tales of the creatures that were found within. A lone white mage would make a tasty morsel for hidden starving monsters.
“Amon, where are you?” The white mage began to call out in an almost desperate tone, pulling her shirt around her shoulders.
Where is he? He’s been leery to let me out of his sight, and now he abandons me in this forsaken place?
Scylla’s terror only grew as she thought she heard the sound of yowling out into the distance, beyond the first twin staircase. She heard the clanging of something falling to the ground as the darkness began to stir.
“Amon!?” Scylla cried out as she spun about in a panic. “Where are you?”
~Foo-lissshhhh…~ A raspy, hoarse voice whispered from the shadows before her.
“Amon!” Scylla slid forward, reaching for an iron-laden staff at her back that wasn’t there. She pressed herself against the staircase railing as she continued forward, sweat beading against along her forehead.
“Show yourself right now! This isn’t funny!”
~STUPID CHILD! SILENCE YOURSELF!~
The telltale growls grew into a chorus of angry snarls and barking, matching the furious shout of the distorted feminine voice.
Scylla stumbled, falling backwards from her feet against the railings, covering her face in fear as she could hear the skittering of claws on the glass floor.
Oh no! The hounds!
A mass of tangled, drooling, giant armored hounds rose up from the shadows, towering a half-dozen man-heights above her. It took more than a moment for Scylla to realize that it was a single creature, knitted together on a human form. Collared glowing paws reached out to grab her and draw her in.
“SHITE!” Scylla screamed in mixed terror and horror, as she pushed away from the creature, frantically yelling as she ran half blindly to the door. “AMOOOOON!!!!
The white mage slammed into the dark armor of faceless giant soldiers, who quickly wrestled her down to the ground. Scylla fought viciously, but without a weapon, her blows didn’t even scratch the enchanted shadow-armor.
They dragged her back up the stairs, where the beast awaited her. She struggled against the creatures, sure that she was next meal for this beastly giant creature. She stared upwards at the six-headed wolf-beast-person, who seemed relaxed, leaning back on her haunches.
It was as if a pack of wolves was haphazardly sewn onto a grotesquely overly sculpted woman’s torso. The creature wore a mockingly revealing dark lavender dress that threatened to burst away into fur and claws, holding a large focus-topped staff.
It sat there, tail sweeping back and forth along the crystal floor.