This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
The first thing Scylla felt was the rush of cool wind against her face. The deep blue blur of her vision was cut apart by frayed rigging and enchanted canvas. She was laying on soft cushions, with her ankle and wrist dressed and propped on pillows.
Not… dead… but on an airship?
The backdrop of trashed glowing aetheric machinery and the chaotic drab sky was gone, replaced by the bright sun as the little airship sped over verdant green mountains.
Not in Azys… Lla. Oh no! Amon!
Scylla went to move her arm to raise herself up, but only found that she could give the slightest command of her fingers as pain shot through her body.
I can’t do anything… I can’t move!
The white mage could barely muster a cry, as her mind filled with terror at the fact that she was once again, at the mercy of the evil bard. Last time she had crossed him, he had so sadistically grafted on monster-hounds to her own form, removing her from her personhood and driving her to the brink of insanity. This time, with all of the technology of Azys Lla at his command, she wasn’t sure that she could fathom the nightmare he would commit her to.
It was all too much to take, and if she could have moved her body more, she would have found herself leaping from the ship to her death. But the consequences of her earlier rage had betrayed her. All she could do is manage a small whimper from her aether-shocked body.
“Please stay calm,” Ben glanced up from the book he was paging through as his patient awoke in much the state of frenzy as he expected. “I don’t know what all happened, but you are safe now.”
The mage approached her resting place, slowly placing himself within her sight. Knowing she was waking up in a strange place, and him being unknown to her, he didn’t want to alarm her more. He really need her to stay as still as possible until she could be tended properly.
“You took a pretty good battering and a few nasty blows to the head, and while I am no healer, I did the best I could for what we had.” The mage smiled warmly. “I’m surprised to see you so aware, but then, maybe I shouldn’t be. My name is Ben. I was sent from Gridania to aid you.”
She looked up at man, dressed in robes of forest-green and linen. Something about his energy seemed… different and otherworldly. But only two things mattered to Scylla. He was not Amon, and he claimed to have been sent from Gridania.
The old horned padjali -is- looking after me, after all!
Scylla breathed a sigh of relief. It took a few tries before her mouth could command a few words.
“Gridania…. Did Brother E-Sumi-Yan send you?”
“Not directly, but yes, in a round-about way. You know how nothing can be simple and clean with these people.” Ben offered a slight nod. “You can consider me a mage-for-hire. I’m not fully affiliated with anyone, but when delicate situations such as this arise, the city-states have people like me to fall back on.”
He sat down next to her with an appraising eye, then he answered the question before it could be asked.
“Yes, I know about who you and your companion are… or rather… were. At least, to the little extent that the Eorzeans know their histories. Which is to say, not that much,” Ben tilted his head and leaned back casually. “Perhaps I might come to know more at your leisure. But for now, the important thing is that you are both alive, unharmed and returning to the mainland.”
“You don’t understand the half of Amon- not like I do. You weren’t the one who was torn in half and merged with hellhounds.” Scylla took a deep breath, chest heaving as she struggled to converse. “When he gets tired of you, he’ll do the same… or worse!”
“He’ll sweet-talk and promise you the world only to crush you in the end in one of his aether-drugged rages.” She clenched her fist at her side.
“Do you know how I ended up where I was? He tried to use me to open the Tower so he could free his mutant slaves and voidsent conspirators!” She looked aside, face flushing in anger.
“Do you think it’s over? He’s obsessed with tearing apart this world in his conquest for power, just as he did the last! Please… if you know the histories, you know how he twisted everything around him.”
Scylla begged, hoping that the mage could hear the sincerity in her voice.
“You can’t unleash him on this world!”