This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Scylla just sat back and scowled at the whole situation.
She knew what the state of affairs was to be. She wouldn’t be returning anytime soon to Gridania. Her future was to be at the little company house in Shirogane, far away from the perceived danger of the Crystal Tower and Azys Lla. No doubt they had likely taken careful steps so that she could not transport to the aetheryte so easily.
It was a near-future that spoke of careful monitoring under the watchful eye of the green-robed mage. But more frustrating, she would be forced to be in the near-proximity of that sick and venomous technomancer.
Not to mention, there were plenty of opportunities for accidents in Shirogane. Perhaps a bit too much alcohol consumption while sitting at the end of a ship pier. Walking through a rush-forest and finding oneself falling off a rocky-cliffside. Drowning in one of their steam-baths.
No doubt that the fickle bard might go back on his regret and find ways to make those in his path… disappear. His demeanor had already slipped back into his greasy, arrogant expected attitude.
There was nothing she could do about it. Benjamin held guard over them both, and there was something that just made her feel nervous and uneasy. It was impossible to try anything against Amon while Ben was there. Benjamin’s aether signature was decidedly different… almost otherworldly, like that of a voidsent creature, albeit without all the evil surrounding it.
Not to mention the forest-spirits had decided that Amon was their new poster-man-child. She knew he had been born of those lands, and perhaps they took pity on him. At least they had some pity left for him.
But she did not share this pity.
“You deserved every bit of deception you got, Amon.” Scylla crossed her arms. “And you get off with a slap on the wrist because some extradimensional forest beings are probably drunk on fermented sap tonight.”
The white mage stood up with a bitter frown on her face.
“No different than at the Academy. Or at the Emperor’s court.” The woman made a motion as if she was thinking. “Arson, thievery, mutation… even murder… he can get away with everything. This is just the start.”
Scylla turned and looked at Ben with a distant look.
“And what if I refused to cooperate?” Before Ben could answer, she put up her hand.
“You don’t have to answer.”
“The reality is, I would be thrown in prison, and Amon would be free to roam about and frolic in Shirogane, continuing his efforts to open the tower.”
Scylla gave a dejected look as she picked up her few belongings.
“Why? Because the Gridanian spirits know that deep inside of Amon’s warped and bitter soul, there is some sort of nugget of goodness, just awaiting the nurturing spirit, love, and companionship.”
The white mage gave a spiteful stare at Amon, as she gathered her cane and strapped it to her back.
“They say that the elementals are different than us, and impossible to understand.” Scylla shook her head as her voice trailed to a whisper. “Apparently they aren’t so different than any of us.”
“They can be deceived, too.”
Amon frowned at the incoming onslaught. Of course Scylla wouldn’t be happy being forced to share the same air as he did, much less the same house. But none of this was his direct doing. It wasn’t pleasing to know he would be watched… continue to be watched… but if that meant his survival and most of his freedom, he’d take that over whatever the alternative was.
“I don’t know anything about the Spirits, my dear,” the Elezen told Scylla. “Nor do I know why they speak in my favor. I spent time in Gridania, same as you have, and I have never heard the voice of the forest. Color me just as surprised.”
Amon got to his feet, brushing off his shirt.
“Though not all the terms of this deal are desirable, it’s better than jail or execution. I accept the Gridania’s conditions.”
“Before you hear them all?” Ben arched an eyebrow at the Bard.
“There are more?”
“You, in particular, are to be kept clear of the Mor Dhona and the reach of the Tower.”
This got Amon’s attention. The actor’s calm he’d been holding on to shed away as his aether, confined as it was, gave the appearance of bristling around him with extreme displeasure. “They can’t order that! The Tower is my home!”
“Was…” Noah interrupted. “The dark reality is it’s nothing but a relic of the past now. Those doors aren’t opening, Amon. Not to you. Not to any of us.”
The Elezen grit his teeth, the light of his eyes holding an edge of danger.
Ben recognized this, and said with a soft voice. “It’s not forever. Just please them for now. You can’t blame them for being antsy about what you pulled.”
“Aye…” Amon said in a raspy voice as he schooled his emotions, glaring quietly at the ground with his own bitterness.
“For the safety of this world, you better hope that Amon’s ban -is- forever, Ben.” Scylla shot a warning glare at bitter-faced bard.
“Even if Ben stops watching, rest assured I will never let you open those doors again, Amon.”
Amon glanced over at Scylla, his dark expression taking on a tinge of sorrow. What had begun as a journey fueled by the hope of his dreams of Allag returning its gifts to the modern world… had ended in failure. More than that, any future prospects of approaching this path, or the path to Azys Lla, was now blocked by the vigilance of the watchful Eorzeans.
If only they could understand his overwhelming goodwill and desire to bring the glory of the ancient world to the very people who shut it away and rejected it.
No one got it.
Not even the Elder Seedseer.
Something about it made his path forward feel dreadfully lonely and pointless. …But that was not sentimentality that he would express in front of the others.
Instead, Amon of Allag outwardly accepted his sentence in silence. There would be time to plan other means to reach his goals. Then they would see, and maybe, some would understand… in time.
Those thoughts were his only comfort.