Anything You Can Do... Part 1Date Posted: January 23, 2021
This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Scylla slowly raised her hands up in front of her, with the aetherfocus clasped over the sword. Her eyes focused on the very center of the wood dummy, feeling the energies well up through her arms.
The focus began to glow brightly, sparkling against the morning sky. With an exhale, she let her mind and body relax, streaming the energy into the enchanted stuffed man. It rocked lightly back and forth before coming to rest.
The mage shook her head.
Not focused enough.
In another world, another time, this would be easy. With a simple thought, Scylla the Archmage of Allag could have obliterated this very practice yard, leaving only a crater. She could freeze people into solid blocks of ice with just a simple glance.
The woman tightened her gloves, starting the exercise again with a small sigh.
Scylla the archmage was no more, her long broken form lost to the nightmares of the past. This form was a rushed solution to escape death, unlike Amon’s more well thought out plans. What little inherent energies that flowed in this form had been shaped to heal. Her ability to summon the dark-aspected aether was woefully uncontrolled. The previous night’s practice with thunder ended with smoking boots and hair that stood up for the rest of the night.
With another deep breath she released the aether into the dummy, watching it wobble over just a little more this time.
Amon knew destruction. And the magic that destroyed. He knew it very well – so well, in fact, he’d created his own type of music-blended magic during his days in the Tower.
Like everything else, magic was a platform for experimentation. A part of his toolbox in the lab, Amon sought to control the bits that would support his projects. He didn’t need to understand the rest of that – no, he left that to the stuffy archmages with their proper Tomes and classes.
Just like nearly everything Amon got his hands on in his past life, he’d used magic in his own reckless ways. Sculpted it to work for his designs. He twisted aether to do as he pleased – and the natural rules of the magical world could go rot in those dusty halls as far as he cared.
That didn’t seem to be working for him now.
If Ben had been like one of his school masters of eld, Amon would have spent a lifetime in detention by now due to his blatant disrespect for the laws of magic in the world of Eorzea. Instead, his tutor was content to stand by and let Amon burn his knuckles for yet the sixth time in the space of an hour’s lesson.
“Why does this not work?” Amon grumbled to himself. And by “work,” he meant “bend to my will.”
He glanced over at where his retro schoolmate – How life does work in cycles, doesn’t it? – Scylla was meagerly throwing aether at the practice dummy. Rolling his eyes, Amon imagined a million ways he could do it better than she displayed.
She was far too cautious. Amon was convinced she was doing it on purpose. As if she was subconsciously afraid that releasing her true potential might restore the power she once held as a high Allagan Archmage.
For some odd reason, she didn’t seek to restore that part of her. And Amon couldn’t fathom it.
“Come now, Scylla,” he finally spoke up in a teasing tone, watching as she merely rocked the practice dummy like a baby in a cradle. “Shall I come and show you how to light a flame?”
Scylla’s eyes flashed open, sending the interrupted aether flying in as it exploded into a small shower of sparks in front of her hands. With a frown, she turned her visage over to her wayward companion and his ever-running mouth.
Not as if she was surprised. In their childhood, Amon had a way of making her practice sessions a bit more “exciting.” When they were adults, they sparred more indirectly, through games of political chess and court maneuvering, gathering and trading allies.
No doubt, the house of Azys was at one of the highest zeniths during the times of legendary rivalry between the technologist and the noble. Then it all came to a tragic destructive end, leaving a long dead Empire with only two weakened clones in the wake. Here they were, spluttering simple aether spells in the yard of a humble company house.
But the woman knew that some things never change, even when left with so little. They were still Amon and Scylla, whether they were mere students in Eorzea or debating in the crystal halls of Syrcus.
Scylla leaned back on her heels, giving a deep bow with a sly grin.
“Why Amon… what an honor to be taught by the master technologist of Allag?!”
She stepped back out of the target, pointing where he should stand.
“Why don’t you school me with your mastery of such advanced techniques!”
With taunting words he’d expected to get a rise out of his rival. Which, in some form, he had. But she was, as always, wise to his bait and merely returned taunt for taunt. Amon was not one to back down from a challenge, especially when his “mastery of such advanced techniques” was being called into question.
The Elezen gave her a flippant glance, then swaggered forward. Flexing his fingers from within his singed gloves, he flashed his million-gil smile.
“Aye, I shall. And I shall not merely make it sway.”
His eyes narrowed on his target, hands splaying before him. He watched as the aether gathered, sparking colors dancing an outline around his form. Vibrating faster and faster, he felt the heat gathering until it became a flame between his fingers.
This part wasn’t what he struggled with. Calling on the aether, holding it and gathering it with the Red Mage’s focus was simple enough. Weaving it into an element of destruction was also not difficult for him.
It was just the release…
He felt the leather of his elemental-warded gloves begin to heat once again.
The release and the focus on directing it where it must go…
Amon grit his teeth as the aether clung to him, rather than leapt towards the practice dummy as he commanded. In his mind, he pictured it all – the dummy bursting into flames, burnt to pitiful ash as his Allagan powers closed in on it.
Instead, a few sparks flew in that direction, but most of the aether decided to cling to him all the more.
“Augh!” Finally giving into the pain of the singing heat, Amon rushed for the bucket of water that he’d placed on the edge of the practice area for just this sort of emergency. Plunging his hands in, the flames extinguished.
He could have sworn he felt a bit of smug pleasure from the misbehaving aether as it released. Finally. Into the bucket. This sent a vent of steam and heated water back at him, over the length of his red uniform, leaving his hair dripping into his drenched face.
“Well, at least you got your flame.”