Shattered Feathers Chapter 4
I woke up reluctantly, glaring at the sunlight that had seeped through the window to splash over the room. Damned sun. I kicked the blankets off and threw my legs over the side of the bed. Until then, I had forgotten exactly why I had woken up at that exact moment It just so happened Rasha had popped in, yelling to the sun that it was time for me to get uppast time, even! So, of course I bolted awake and jolted out of bed in my night clothes Or perhaps I should say lack of night clothes.
O Rasha commenting, mouth forming a perfect O, eyes complimenting the effect.
I grabbed the quilt and quickly wrapped it about myself. It was one thing for Zidane to see me without clothes, but Rasha was a a girl, I blurted.
Rashas eyes danced. Something the matter?
I felt awfully silly; I had nothing to be ashamed of! She was the one who had been intruding. You I attempted.
Come down as soon as you get dressed, Kuja, she laughed and closed the door as she left.
I grumbled to myself and carelessly tossed clothes on, not paying much attention to whether or not they matched. I left my room and went downstairs to the kitchen.
Rasha frowned. Arent you going to wear boots? she asked when she heard me enter. She had been washing dishes.
No, I replied succinctly.
The floor is awfully dirty, you realize
Yes, I realize. No, I dont particularly care that my feet might get dirty. Besides, Im comfortable with them off.
Rasha shrugged, dismissing the problem; I could see she had thought of a come-back to that comment but had left it off, and I had an idea about exactly what it was. I have a chore for you.
dont you always? I couldnt keep the sarcasm out of it.
Well, yes, but you dont have to get all testy on me, she snorted. Anyway, you actually get to go about town for this chore! She smiled.
Outside? I repeated. Youre actually letting your personal slave leave!? I demanded.
Youre awfully snappy today, arent you? I would think me
Dont even think of bringing that up, I cut in.
You really are shy, arent
Im not shy. Its just that
Hmm? Shy around girls? Rasha teased.
No! I exclaimed. Was my face burning? I ran a hand through my hair. Gods. Why are you making such a big deal out of this? I doubt you even saw
Want to bet? she asked mischievously.
You mean you did?
No Rasha sighed. Too bad. A girl can dream, though.
I simply stared at her, unable to soak this in. At some point I realized my mouth was open and closed it with a snap. You were saying something about a chore you wanted me to do ?
Oh, yes she agreed, eyes twinkling. Heres twenty gil. If you lose it or steal it Ill hunt you down and break your neck with a table
I took the money, staring down at it uneasily. I had a distinct feeling she could, and would, do just that. And what am I supposed to do with this? Feed it to someone?
Heres a list. Buy everything on there, she said, handing me a list of several items. You can read, right?
I decided a snort was in order for this question; didnt want to offend the slave driver into actually picking up the table
Thatll be enough to cover the costs. You might have to haggle the price down some, though, she continued.
I shrugged, knowing very well how persuasive I could be when I wanted to have my way. Any special location you would prefer?
Do not go to Rebeccasshell probably terrorize you the second you walk through the door. No, dont ask whyjust listen. Theres a real good store called Choco Greens.
The name of the store almost got me into trouble; I attempted to suppress the smile but, obviously, I wasnt quick enough. Rasha smacked me on the arm, ordered me out, and went through the door to the main tavern.
I debated whether or not to wear my boots and slipped the coins and list into my pocket. Choco Greens? I snorted and headed to my room. Once there, I shoved my boots on, frowning at them as I did so. I peeked out the window and decided it was chilly enough to wear my cloak and pulled it over my shoulders.
I walked back downstairs, through the kitchen, and into the tavern. Rasha waved to me but was more intent on her current customer. I shrugged and left the tavern for the brisk morning air. My stomach promptly pointed out that I had not eaten anything since the previous night, but I knew it would have to wait until after I had finished my chore. I agreed with my belly, though, that it was unfair.
Shrugging, I began on my way. I headed to where Zidane and I had rode the air cab into the Theatre District. Since Rasha hadnt told me the exact location of the store, I assumed it was somewhere in the Business District. I entered the air cab station and nodded politely to a man sitting on a bench.
I walked past him and noticed that, as soon as my back was to him, he stood up. I frowned but didnt turn around as I entered the air cabI was probably just being paranoid. I reached for the switch labeled Business District but a meaty hand hit the one labeled Industrial District before I had a chance, swatting my hand away from the switches.
I spun around to demand why he had done that and found myself on the floor, head thunking against the wall-section of the air cab. The thug had tripped me! I put a hand up to my head and stood up, wobbling from the sharp pain and the dizziness, a tingling sensation in my head. What the I noticed something rather significant, cutting off my remark: not only was my friend the thug present, but two other fellows stood in the air cab and had probably been there when I had entered.
I thought he was supposed to be dangerous, one man snortedthe shortest of the three with darting black eyes and unkempt black hair.
Rich is excitable, the first man snorted.
I raised my hand, planning on casting Thundaga and blowing them from the air cab, but nothing happened. I realized what the tingling sensation had been: one of them had cast Silence on me. I really wished I had learned better fighting techniques at this pointsure, I had mastered magical techniques, but physical fighting was something I avoided. I had left myself vulnerable in this sense but never before had I been struck by a Silence spell: I always had defenses up against this sort of thing, but I assumed I would be safe.
Come on, lets get this finished, the third man growled. He hung back, nervous. Obviously the talker of the bunch.
Mentally cursing myself for not bringing any sort of weapon with me, I noticed they pulled out their own. The big man had a nasty club, the black-haired man a wickedly twisted blade, and the talker a good deal of throwing daggers.
Soften him up. The talker nodded to the big one. Well take seconds, so leave something for us.
My pleasure, he growled, lunging at me. He swung the club at my chest and I dodged it easily enoughI had always been quick on my feet. The club hit a window just as the air cab screeched to a halt, shattering it into a thousand pieces. A few of the shards of glass sliced me as they sailed pastmy cloak helped to deflect most of them, though. We had made it to the Industrial District.
Damn, the big man cursed as I watched him warily.
The dark-haired man quickly hit one of the switches, not paying attention to which he hit, and I didnt take the time to check. The air cab lurched and began to move again and I lost my balance.
The big man took advantage of this and swung at me again. This time I was unable to dodge it good enough and the club hit me full in the chest, a crack giving announcement to a broken rib; more, maybe. I screamed but no sound was produced.
I gasped, the realization finally hitting me that if I didnt escape they would easily kill me. I had no way of defending myself against them. But I hated the thought of backing down. I crouched, trying to keep weight off of my chest. Pain jabbed harshly into my lung, but I could tell the ribs (at that point I realized at least two were broken) hadnt punctured anything.
The dark-haired man came at me this time, slicing at my face with his blade. I dodged back to where I had been standing earlier, shooting a glance over my shoulder to see where we were. We sped towards some buildings whose roofs were rather close to the tracks of the air cab. Some part of my mind registered the fact that the talker had thrown some daggers in my direction, one of which grazed my left shoulder. Warm blood seeped into my clothes and I heard one of the daggers thunk into the support frame behind me. I plucked it out and threw it back at him.
Without so much as a glance to see how much of a distraction the dagger caused, I grabbed the sill of the broken window and leaped out. I hit the roof of the house clumsily, almost sliding off of it. I managed to grasp the edge of the room and stop my mad descent. My arms screamed in protest to the jarring but they held.
I threw a glance towards the air cab, thankful that the three thugs were still on it and hadnt leapt after me. Probably werent stupid, or suicidal, enough to do that.
I looked below where I hung, noticing I was only a foot above another, smaller, roof. I dropped down on it, pausing to pant. Gods, but it hurt! I made an attempt at walking, but it more resembled a crouching shuffle. Better than nothing, though. I stumbled towards the back of the building I was on and jumped onto a solid box.
An alley surrounded me, almost oppressive. It was narrow enough to make me nervous about it and it stank of rotten food. I had no idea where I was, only that I had better get somewhere safer. And quick. There was no telling if the goons would be able to find me if I stayed close.
I crept as quickly as I could into the darker area of the alley, panting as I did so. My breath came in short gasps and spurts, the broken ribs making it hard to take deep breaths. I turned down another alley before finding another. Soon enough I was lost.
I noticed a nearly broken-down doorit looked decayed by age. I stumbled towards it, pushing it open cautiously. When my eyes adjusted to the dim interior and I saw no other soul present, I stumbled inside, pushing the door closed behind me.
By now, it was even harder to breath. The loss of blood was making me even dizzier than before, as was the lack of sufficient air. I fell to my knees, sharp pain protesting the action. I curled up on the smelly floor, not caring.
Darkness engulfed me.
It was late afternoon before I regained consciousness. I knew this from how much sun flooded in from the west windowsnot too much, like evening, but enough to be close. I was disoriented enough at first to wonder how I had gotten there. The ribs didnt let me wonder for long before announcing their distressing situation.
Damn I gasped. The Silence spell had obviously worn off, but I knew I lacked the strength to cast a single spell.
The other thing I knew was that I had to get back to Chanterelle Tavern. I knew that Rasha would most likely be cursing me for a thief, either that or worried sick (I was more inclined to believe the former). I stumbled to my feet, supporting a good deal of my weight with the wall. I noticed my right ankle throbbed in protestI had most likely twisted it on my fall.
I took an inventory of my injuries: two (or more) broken ribs, twisted right ankle, a few stinging cuts on my cheeks and hands from the broken window, and a cut on my left shoulder. My hands were also scraped and red from scrambling on the roof. I pulled my cloak further around me to hide most of my wounds, not wanting to get stopped by a curious passerby.
The afternoon sun flooded me when I pulled the door open and headed to the leftthe direction of the most noise. Once there I was able to determine my location; I had wound up in the Theatre District again, which was good. I actually recognized the area from when I had first arrived with Zidane.
I walked through the streets as quickly as I could with my limp and my ribs, receiving various strange looks from other people walking on them. Soon enough, I found Chanterelle Tavern. I went into the alley, though, and crept in through the kitchen dooreven in my bedraggled state, I didnt want to scare off all of Rashas patrons.
The only reason I can give for Rashas reaction is the figure I must have cutragged, hunched over, and wind pulling at my hair and cloak.
Rasha had been standing, her back to me, washing dishes at the sink. She spun on heel, dropped the plate and soapy rag to the ground, and rushed to me. I could tell her eyes were readfrom crying. Kuja!"
I stumbled further into the room and pushed the door closed behind me. I leaned heavily against it, thankful for the support it provided for me.
Where have you been? Ive been fretting this whole time! First I thought you had run off with the money I thought so. Then I realized you wouldnt do that to me, and I worried so!
I didnt reply. It was hard enough to breathe correctly and I wasnt about to push myself to the point of starving my lungs of what little air they had gotten.
Oh, Kuja, I love you! she exclaimed, rushing to hold me. I pulled away, crying out when the pain jarred me. What is she up to? I couldnt understand the woman. I was partially worried about further harm from her hug, partially disgusted with her exclamation of love.
Rasha stared at me. Kuja? she asked, face turning harsh. Dont give me that I do love you, Rasha, but Im not in love with you garbage!
I I fond my voice. Wouldnt say that. I dont I panted for the words. even love you, Rasha.
She seemed to crumble into herself, various emotions fighting for control of her face. She regained her composure quickly enough. We need to get those cuts dressed, she declared after an uncomfortable silence, voice quivering.
I nodded dumbly, pain threatening to pull me into unconsciousness again. I didnt want her to have to drag me around, but in the end I sank to my knees and the darkness of unconsciousness dragged me instead. The last thing my mind registered was Rashas exclamation of surprise.
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