Aether Sick - Part 2

Date Posted: December 8, 2019

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

“An understanding.” Scylla took her fingers, placing them behind his ears, and tracing down to his shoulders. “It’s not safe to talk about the past, the connections between you and I… people get hurt. Maybe this time it was just us… but what about Koh, Zuri, and the others?”

She swallowed, fingers shaking unsteadily.

“Since we must co-exist, it’s just best if we forget that you know me as anything else other than a healer.” Scylla looked down at the side of the bed, avoiding Amon’s gaze.

He opened his mouth at this unusual and unexpected request. Was that the Scylla he once knew talking, or this superimposed and mis-placed girl who woke in Eorzea with no memory of her past… now grappling with the dark truths?

“Mmm…” Amon finally said, not in an unkind tone. “What you really mean is – you’re comfortable pretending you aren’t who you were, and would prefer to wash your hands of it all.”

He shook his head slowly.

“’Tisn’t so easy for me, I’m afraid. Everything of meaning I’ve ever done, everything I am… is locked to my past.”

His gaze lingered on the soft lines of her face, thinking about Koh’s words, and of the pain he caused. Did he blame her for wanting to forget? All that lay in her recent past was torment and torture.

“But I can pretend if that’s what you really yearn for. I am, if nothing else, an actor.”

“Yes. The princess died long ago…” She spoke with little emotion, voice hardly a mumble. “If you must act, then do it. Let her be buried and dead along with her family and all that she knew.” Her fingers traced down over to the choker. She winced, feeling the instability of the energies threatening to burst free from his form. 

Ben was right… this is life-threatening….

“Information came back on your condition.” She sat by Amon and spoke quietly, looking in his eyes. “How much do you want to know…?”

Following one strange train of thought, Amon was completely side-swiped by the sudden round-about in the conversation. That’s when it occurred to him exactly what she’d been doing all along – tracing his aether patterns.

“My… condition?” he forced a hollow laugh to cover his surprise.

How did she know about that to start with? And more importantly, how was it she had the information – he assumed results from the aether tests he had sent out for previously. And most importantly, who gave her control over “how much” he got to know?

Instead of voicing any of those questions, he said simply. “I know naught of what you speak.”

It was futile to try to act dumb, but it came automatically. Perhaps it would force her to provide answers to the questions he actually had.

“Your know exactly what I’m talking about.” Scylla held the parchment in her hands. “Your ears turn red when you are fibbing.”

The white mage gave him a serious look. “I will tell you everything we know. But the question remains, how much do you want to know about this?”

A momentary tickle of fear rushed through him, but he didn’t let it touch his face.

“The fact that you ask me in such a way already tells me ‘tis not favorable,” Amon spoke quietly. “It does no good to cushion the truth. I want to know everything.”

“Amon… something is wrong with your aether. I do not know if it was a result of your rushed transfer, or developed later as a side effect of something.” Scylla spoke gently, trying hard to muster a bedside manner in the face of her once hated-captor. “You have heard of the side effects and injuries from wild aether incidents?”

“Aye, I’m well aware,” Amon responded, poking at his choker with a frown. “It almost killed me once. What do you think this is for?”

He couldn’t see the stone in the choker, but he could feel it. The hair-line thin crack that threatened to undo him should the accessory finally buckle to the force of the aetherflow it fought to contain.

“So tell me something I don’t know. What were the results? You don’t need to sugar-coat this. I wouldn’t have sent an aether sample if I thought everything was alright.”

“Treatments for aetherinjuries tend to be complex, and at best, limited.” Scylla looked down at the parchment. 

“Even if we could stop the damage, what tends to be there is strongly debilitating at times.” The white mage shook her head. “But yours is all over… it’s not just a limb or a single spot in your body. The aether is ravaging everywhere.”

“For an aetherinjury as systematically widespread as yours, I would normally say to get your affairs in order… and tell your family. But since neither you or myself have any close relatives that live, there isn’t that much to settle.” Scylla spoke quietly. “I can offer you supportive care, help to ease the pain as death comes for you.”

More than he offered me… 

It took Scylla a moment to shake free of the nightmarish thoughts of the giant man in red laughing at her suffering. She subconsciously began to ball the note in her hand.

“There is one possibility of a treatment… but the chances are grim at best. Ben and I would have to develop a procedure to help you purge this wild aether from your system.”

Scylla uncrumpled the paper, and handed it to Amon.

“You may have a year… maybe more of decent health, if you choose to let things take the course. But if we are to try this procedure, we don’t have the time to wait for the situation to get more out of control.”

The white mage took his hand and held it, looking deeply into his eyes. It was hard to care about him, but she worked hard at conjuring the image of the lanky Elezen boy, as opposed to the great Master of the Tower.

“You must know that a full aether purge is difficult… some would call it impossible in this Eorzean age. If the wild aether goes out of control, you die. If your body doesn’t take to the natural aetherflow of this world, you die. Even if the procedure is successful, the recovery is long and hard. You may not ever be able to channel aether again… and may suffer from possible mental and physical side-effects.”