Shattered Feathers Chapter 6

By Tsarmina

Sometime during the night, while caught in the maelstrom of conflicting thoughts, I had dozed off in the window seat. There was no clear recollection as to when, or how, this occurred—but it was quite obvious, upon awakening, that it had happened. Quite obviously, you can’t wake up from being awake…

I felt generally groggy and disoriented. Pain was shouting at me from all areas of my body, snidely pointing out that the window seat wasn’t a very intelligent place for an injured person to sleep.

As I attempted to piece myself together, the catalyst of my waking reminded me of itself. Someone, on the street, was pounding heavily on the front door of Chanterelle Tavern. I peered out the window in an attempt to determine just who the irritant was. Five Lindblum guards, one pounding at the door, the rest standing a few paces behind him. I felt my breath hitch.

“Rasha!” I exclaimed. She was still in bed, murmuring something to herself in her dream. She cuddled up more to her pillow, smacking her lips in the way only a content dreamer can manage. “Rasha, wake up!” I growled, standing up from the seat to move to the side of the bed. I shook her, as gently as a herd of angry chocobos might, awake.

Sputtering incomprehensible protestations and reminding me of an angry cat, Rasha crawled out of sleep. The way that she glared at me implied her dream had been quite pleasant. “What? I was having a—”

“Shh! There’s a squad of irked guards at the door of your tavern,” I hissed, holding up a hand in an attempt to keep her from eating at the time with pointless words.

“What would—” she began. “Oh, damn. Are they after you? Did you get into trouble with them, as well?” she moaned, swinging out of bed and stretching rather leisurely. By the look of her, you’d think she had been roused on a day in which she had not a care in the world.

“No, I did not,” I replied indignantly. “But you’d better get down there before they break your door apart. More than likely, it has something to do with me.” I ignored how vain those words sounded. She hadn’t been running about the town, getting herself beaten into a half-bloody mess.

Rasha snarled something that wouldn’t be worth repeating and stalked out of the room. I followed her cautiously, leaning against the counter in the kitchen. This gave me the ability to hear what happened, but not be seen.

The pounding halted at the same time the door swung open, which I noted due to the squealing of the hinges. “What’s the meaning of all this banging, you great oafs?!” Rasha exclaimed. “You’d think just because—”

“Quiet, woman,” a voice rumbled. I decided it must belong to the guard that had been responsible for the pounding on the door.

“Oh, don’t you dare quiet me! What is it?” Rasha shot back. She was beginning to frighten me a bit… I, for one, would have cowered if I were on the receiving end of the shrewish tone of that voice.

“We’re looking for a man. He’s responsible for some damage done to an air cab yesterday,” the guard replied. It sounded as if, although I wasn’t quite sure, his teeth were tightly grit.

“And what makes you think this vandal would be here, of all places?” A sliver of worry had crept into her voice, quite able to contradict her sure-footed attitude.

“There was an anonymous…” the guard began droning, his voice thick with anger and boredom.


I twitched convulsively, clutching my hand into a fist at the hallow of my chest. I decided I must have been hearing things. Whatever whisper I had heard didn’t repeat itself. Shaking my head, I squeezed my eyes shut.

“…somehow connected with this tavern,” the guard concluded, biting down on the final word. The words echoed in my skull. What was he talking about?

“Oh, well. They must have been mistaken,” Rasha replied, throwing in a burst of laughter that, to me, sounded strained. “I do have a helper here, but he’s been unwell. He most…”

Kuja… You can’t deny me.

The voice was like a whisper: soft as the wind and, yet, frighteningly venomous. I felt as if someone had a tight hold on my lungs and was violently squeezing every last ounce of air out of them. I twisted my mouth open.

“No…” The word seemed to leap from my mouth on its own accord. I didn’t invite it into the kitchen, and yet it came. My vision blurred. I couldn’t explain why I was so alarmed. Hearing voices?

“…you’ll be sure to report to us if you see him, won’t you? And…”

No, not that. Why should I care about him? He could hurt me, yes… But not in the same way of the other voice. The whispering voice. The voice of wind.

You know me, Kuja. Why try to fight?

I found myself, once again, violently shaking my head. Somehow, the disgusting voice was entering my head. Somehow, it didn’t need the messy workings of lungs and vocal cords to get its message across. Somehow, I recognized it.

“Get… Out…” I whispered fervently, my words mirrored by Rasha’s exclamation of, “Shoo!” followed by the door being slammed.

Afraid, Failure? Afraid of what?

Don’t be foolish…

I felt myself sliding. Disoriented, I was unable to tell if it was physical or mental. I thrust my arms out, grabbing at anything. My hands caught a nearby chair and I held onto it tightly. I refused to let it go, panting.

“…just intolerable! Ugh!” Rasha exclaimed as she pushed the door open. Her face was screwed into a sour expression. “That should keep them off of us for now, Kuja. Oh! What are you doing with that chair?”

I straightened, slowly. “N-nothing,” I replied, unsteadily. Refusing to let go of my grip on the chair, I gave a half smile. It probably looked more like a maniacal grimace, but I congratulated myself for the effort.

“Oh, dear. You must still be exhausted from your wounds!” Rasha exclaimed, obviously berating herself over the mess. She moved to my side, hands fluttering in a rather dizzying manner. “I should get you back up into bed. You look as pale as fresh snow, and you’re shivering! Oh.”

Unable to get a single protest in, I allowed her to lead me up the stairs. I was too busy trying to keep myself together to pay her ramblings any real attention. Too busy trying to make sense of the whisperings I had heard. I couldn’t explain what they were. I knew who...but what…?

“…and you don’t hear a single thing I’m saying!” Rasha finished as she pulled the sheets of my own bed back. “You get yourself in. I’ll bring up something to eat later, after you’ve rested.”

Without a protest, I slid into the bed. I didn’t want her to leave me alone, but I wasn’t sure how to form any real request. If I told her I felt fear, she would demand to know what of…and pass it off as the delusions of a sick man.


I hadn’t heard the door close, but Rasha was gone and I was tightly shut in my room. But I wasn’t alone. I shuddered, pulling the covers tight over me. “No,” I reaffirmed. The word seemed to finish off my reserves of energy. Once again, I felt myself sliding. I knew, this time, I wasn’t physically sliding. Something was happening, but I was completely inept with identifying whatever it was.

Don’t fight it.

A shuddering sigh escaped me and I drifted off to sleep, unable to hold on to anything but myself.


Chapter 7

Final Fantasy 9 Fanfic