Anything You Can Do... Part 2

Date Posted: January 24, 2021

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

“If there is one thing after all these years, you are predictable.” Scylla stood over Amon, pulling off his soaked hat, shaking it off before pushing it down on his head.

“You never did learn to be careful, did you?” 

The mage frowned, while picking up her training companion’s focus and sword.

“But then you never had to be careful before, you never knew struggles in these ways. Practice was an extraneous word to those long ears.”

She sighed, tipping the bucket before walking over to the water pump, filling the vessel with cool water.

“Now you are just like the rest of us.” 

Amon felt heat rising in his face at Scylla’s final statement. His brows lowered and he swept his hair back out of his eyes as they narrowed on her face, giving her a long, arrogant look, as he did in times long past.

“I am not,” he felt his teeth grind. Though he struggled with this weak, cloned form, his mind still held the knowledge of Amon of the Tower. “You would do well not to dismiss me so easily.”

The Elezen paused just as the words escaped his lips, realizing how close a threat that almost sounded. Reminding himself that chiding his rival was fine. Threatening her… was something he was trying to avoid. It was the least he owed her.

Amon wasn’t sure how to backpedal from the awkward moment elegantly, however. The damage was likely already done. He steeled himself for the heated retort he expected to get for his careless words.

But she had just insulted him.

Indeed, but insults don’t always need to be met with blustering threats, he reminded himself.

With a grim frown, he took off his gloves and looked at the bright red, blistered skin on the back of his hands. There was one thing Scylla was right about. This wasn’t going the way he expected.

Scylla’s face turned a deep shade of red, hand gripping at the pommel of her sword almost on instinct. Images of giant monstrous caped visage in the skull-mask flashed in her mind.

But as she watched him pitifully stare at his palms, she couldn’t help but notice his hesitation. There was no all-powerful technologist before her. She had seen this before, even in the days of Allag. The aether-burned that she treated often struggled physically and emotionally with their diminished abilities, as the healing could never restore everything completely.

The woman relaxed her grip on the sword, pulling her hair back as she put down a new pail of water in front of him. All she saw was a frustrated Elezen, still trying to pull forth abilities as if he were still the indomitable creature commanding the respect of the phantom long-disappeared Empire. 

She leaned down beside him, shaking her head.

“Amon… you aren’t the same technologist you were, just like I am hardly a mage of Azys.” She spoke in a lower, calmer voice, looking over his hands. 

“The sooner you accept your limitations in this form, the faster you’ll be able to grow your potential.” 

Amon’s eyebrows lifted in an open display of surprise. For a moment, Scylla had looked to be ready to lash him with the sharp side of her tongue, but instead… She spoke to him with a calm kindness, her words echoing logic that he did not want to accept.

“I.. apologize…” the Elezen mumbled, flexing his fingers with a wince of pain.

Naturally, he thought that earning back his aether would be the first step in granting him the power he’d lost long ago. Sure, this form would need to be strengthened to sustain the kind of aetherflow that he used to use. Still, the Elezen hadn’t expected roadblocks to come in the most simple functions of casting that he was experiencing now.

Something in her words – I am hardly a mage of Azys – surprised him even more than her calm response.

“Do you really believe that?”

The words came before he had time to think them through. He hoped they weren’t taken in offense, and tried to elaborate.

“The knowledge of the Archmage… and Technologist… aren’t to be cast aside as nothing, Scylla. Do you think us to be bound by limitations so much that we are not ourselves anymore?” 

“It’s gone, Amon.” She gave a shrug with a sigh. “Maybe you remember every single thing about our past, but for myself… there are many things that are missing.” She ran her fingers along the focus, squinting as if trying to reach deep into her memories. “Of course, I remember the important things-people, places, my family, most of what happened.” 

She gave Amon a sad look, before staring at the reflection in the polished steel of her rapier.

“But did I not get it right with the cloning. It was far too rushed, and in my madness, I hardly worried about perfection. So even if I had the physical potential, much of my aetheric knowledge as an archmage has disappeared. It’s all so unclear, nothing more than just a fuzzy set of images and feelings. It’s like waking from a dream that is on the edge of recall.”

The mage clenched her fists in frustration, throwing her arms up.

“Mayhaps I won’t be able to access these energies – the same fire aether that comes easily to you won’t spare me more than a trickle! Doesn’t it figure.” 

Scylla pointed her finger at his nose with a sour laugh.

“Well, can’t get this to work, I fear you’re just going to have to look somewhere else for a worthy rival, maxears.”