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The Spinning Wheel of Fate

by Manoftyr

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Chapter 1 (2006)
Chapter 2 (2006)
Chapter 3 (2006)
Chapter 4 (2006)
Chapter 5 (2006)
Chapter 6 (2006)
Chapter 7 (2006)
Chapter 8 (2006)

Chapter 6

Chapter 5: At the Pub

"Wow, I didnít think Celes would haul off and just punch Shadow in the face like that! That was hilarious" Setzer exclaimed as if he was oblivious to Shadow's presence in the room as he downed another pint.

"Celes is very, very, VERY defensive about Locke's past tragedies, especially so when it comes to insinuation about his psychological wellbeing... and given Locke's past and his tendency towards irrational and unhealthy behavior, I can understand why she is so ready to defend him from anything she feels may upset him," I explained.

"Yeah, you got a point there" Setzer replied. "This one time I made an offhand comment about Locke 'not needing corpses anymore', I thought it would be funny but Celes drew her blade and held it at my throat with this look of absolute rage in her eyes and Locke had to tell her it was alright before she'd put it back, I seriously thought she was gonna kill me," Setzer laughed . "I guess we know who wears the pants in 'that' relationship," he concluded, and I couldn't help but chuckle at the brutal honesty of that statement.

"I will say, Celes definitely has developed a certain kind of mother hen syndrome about Locke... I suppose it's better then it was, but thatís come along with Locke's improvements in his psychological health" I heard a deep throaty laugh come from behind me, it was Shadow sitting alone in the corner with a couple empty shot glasses in front of him.

I turned around.

"Is something funny?"

Shadow took a shot from his last glass of vodka.

"Just the inclusion of 'improved psychological health' and 'Locke' in the same sentence, old man," he spoke slowly and coldly.

This man fascinated me, so dark and disturbed... I couldn't help but speculate in my mind as to his psychological makeup, what could make such a man tick? Is he a product of the world around or of himself! psycho-analysis has always been an interest of mine.

"How do you mean?" I asked, not so much interested in his explanation as I was the nature of his reply and what it may tell me about the inner workings of his mind.

"The idea that Locke has grown psychologically whatsoever, is funny," Shadow explained.

"How so?" I followed up.

"Because in actuality he hasn't grown at all, he just seems more together because he has Celes practically wiping his ass for him," Shadow replied without skipping a beat.

A textbook pessimist, the glass is always half empty with this one, and the fact that both Locke and Celes are happy with one another and their roles is most likely irrelevant as far as he's concerned, sociopathic tendencies are also a strong possibility.

I smiled.

"Well, I can't argue that there is perhaps some psychological issues still rattling around in Locke's head but does it not stand as a testament that they are both happy? Do our judgments and pre-conceived notions of what a quote unquote 'healthy' relationship should be hold any merit when both parties are happy, functional, and bring joy to one another?" I reasoned, most likely in vain.

"Happiness, doesn't enter into the argument old man, it doesn't change the reality that Celes is Locke's segregate-mother and Locke is a pubescent twelve year old trapped in a 32 year old man's body, and a nutcase on top of that," Shadow replied.

Setzer got up and went over to bother Edgar who was in the process of wooing yet another unfortunate young lady, methinks my engagement with Shadow has grown to deep for his liking.

"That is merely your perception Shadow, I doubt they see it that way, and I doubt they would be as happy with one another as they are if they did," I stated and I felt his anger rise, it's common for sociopaths to become incensed at the notion that their views are just another perception, and in no way a final authority.

This old fool thinks he has me all figured out, but I know what he's doing. This idiot thinks he can slap a psycho-semantic label on me and read my every thought, I think I'm gonna fuck with his head some, turn his shit around on him, it'll be funny. I get like this after I've had a few and I've already gone a tad over my limit, but I needed to relax, needed to forget that horrific dream.

I smiled a smug half-smile, "tell me Cid, how do you measure up to your own standards?" I asked. Cid looked puzzled, he was obviously not expecting a question on my part deviating this far from the conversation at hand,

"Whatever do you mean? What *standards*?" he asked, with a demanding hint to his tone.

"Are *you* happy?" I repeated. "You seem to judge one's psychological wellbeing on their happiness and level of functioning, so I'm curious to know how you measure up on your own scale," I elaborated and Cid seemed to take a minute to formulate a response.

"I never said that one's happiness was the determining factor in one's psychological health, merely the determining factor in a healthy relationship" Cid stated self-assuredly.

"Well you seem to put a lot of merit on one's happiness and personal satisfaction, so, it would stand to reason that it filters into your 'cocktail' as it were, of emotional variables that determine whether or not one is sane or not," I elaborated calmly, with a hint of smugness.

"Well yes, it definitely does filter in to one's psychological health, I mean one wouldn't expect someone to function well in life if they're miserable, ergo: Locke," Cid replied staying right on the ball.

"Well then" I began, "with that in mind I refer you to my previous question, are you happy?" I asked

Cid shrugged "Happy enough" he replied.

"Enough?" I inquired.

"I find I am happiest when accomplishing something, and to be honest the lack of progress I face in my war of sorts on 'cancer' as it has come to be known, troubles me."

"So then?" I asked, "where you happy while working for the empire?"

Cid seemed hesitant to reply, "a simple yes or no question Cid, ethical implications and hindsight aside were you happy?"

Cid paused before replying "I can't answer that with a simple yes or no I'm afraid, it's far to complicated and involves far to much emotional and mental give and take to simply label as 'happy' or 'unhappy' overall."

"Fair enough" I replied "Then allow me to rephrase the question... " I began again. "Were you, and are you now happy with the things you 'accomplished' as top imperial scientist?"

"At the time I was far more pleased with myself then I am now, and in hindsight now I'm not proud of much I did, and I fail to see how listing a 'proudest accomplishment' is relevant to anything," Cid replied.

"So I gather you're not as 'happy' about your accomplishments as previously implied," I reasoned, my smug self-satisfaction at poking holes in his logic growing.

"I never said I was happy with what I had done, Shadow" Cid replied, growing a tad irritable.

"So in essence, what you are telling me is you are happiest while 'accomplishing' but yet there is not one accomplishment which you are owed that you are proud of?" I asked with mock confusion,

"No!" Cid snapped, now angry. "You have not given me the chance to explain myself fully, your assumption is only half accurate," Cid explained with visible agitation. I was getting to him.

"Well then, please do explain yourself," I replied with a smug half grin.

This is crazy. How *DARE* this man see fit to sit here and judge me! A common thief and murderer, not to mention a deadbeat dad.

"I 'said' I am happiest while accomplishing ergo: when there is a task at hand that needs to be accomplished, yes?" I went over what had been said previously so perhaps his pea sized brain would be able to get it's facts straight.

"Correct" he replied.

"Good! then I can continue without fear of you misconstruing of the facts," I snipped.

"Now then," I began. "While working for the empire there where no shortage of tasks that required my scientific knowledge such as designing the plethora of machinery both military and civilian that was needed to keep Vector up and running and the Imperial military machine going, and I enjoyed my work" I concluded. I sensed Shadow about to speak but I cut him off, "before you make any judgements or jump to yet more conclusions, it's the work *ITSELF* I enjoyed, if not the end results."

"Now then" I continued, "there was of course work I did not particularly enjoy such as experimenting on living beings, but at the time I was convinced it was necessary for the greater good, I obviously know now I was deceived". "Now Shadow" I began again, "do you still presume to question me? To pry into me? To cast me as some sort of villain, and profess to be better then me behind your snide comments and obnoxious smug smile?" I stated with my voice slightly raised, as I had lost my temper by a tad.

'This is excellent' I thought to myself, I had completely turned this around on him. This old fool doesn't realize it but at the beginning he was attempting to pry into me, to analyze me and now I had turned it completely around, now I was the questioner and he was the questioned, and all it took was some clever wording and knowledge of his past and his weaknesses now it was time to rip his scars open for all to see.

I began calmly "tell me Cid, what of Maduin?" Cid froze, he was not unlike a child who had been confronted with a secret they were keeping, or had been caught in a lie.

"... What do you mean?" Cid replied with a hint of seething anger... and fear.

"Well, you were working with the captured Espers since the beginning and as we all know Maduin was Terra's father, what was he like? How much did he know? Did he ever plead with you to know the fate of his daughter? Did he not constantly ask to know if she was alright? What were his words spoken between your experiments?".

Shadow's words were dredging up old memories and pains long hidden, I tried hard to conceal them.

"Maduin spoke of little else other then the fate of Terra, all I ever told him was that she was safe but inevitably he overheard plans involving the Slave Crown project, and from then on he seldom spoke other then to curse my name and proclaim oaths to hunt me in the next life and so forth... his pain and feelings of failure were intense beyond any I have ever seen before... IS THAT THE ANSWER YOU WERE LOOKING FOR SHADOW?!" I didnít do quite as good a job as I would of liked concealing my emotions.

Shadow broke out into another of those sly half-grins and raised his eyebrows.

"No need to shout Cid" he stated calmly and with mock concern.

"I also understand your experiments weren't limited to Espers, tell me, how many 'test subjects' lost their lives before you had perfected your methods of magical infusion? You know, the same process you used to create people like Kefka!" his words cut like a winter chill and I felt myself on the verge of an emotional outpour.

I could sense I had struck a nerve, and continued my verbal assault in a similar vein. *I really am a bastard when drunk.*

"Orphaned children were certainly a good source of bodies weren't they Cid? Tell me, does this sound familiar?"

I mimicked the voice of a child to the best of my ability

"Are you going to make me better doctor?" I could sense his emotional agitation.

"What's that thing? Will it hurt? What are you doing to me?!"

"YOU JUST SHUT YOUR GODDAMNED MOUTH!" Cid screamed, then lowered his head as if in shame.

"I may be a lot of things Cid, but I never used orphans for experiments or devised a way to control young women with headwear, whenever I feel bad about myself I can always look to you and start to feel better, because you're an even bigger scumbag then *ME* Cid!"

"ENOUGH!"

I heard a shout come from the other side of the bar.

I had, had just about enough of this and slammed my drink down on my table... besides, it's difficult to work my magic on the ladies with Setzer making obnoxious comments after my every sentence.

"Leave Cid the hell alone Shadow, you've done enough damage today," I proclaimed as I got up and walked over to his table.

Shadow gave a cock-eye expression

"He addressed me first, your *snicker* majesty... if he didn't want me to speak he should of just left well enough alone" Shadow reasoned.

"What the hell is with you today?" Setzer chipped in. "First it was Locke now it's Cid. Ease up man, you trying to compensate for something?" Setzer questioned.

Shadow laughed a deep throaty laugh .

"You make it sound as if I've targeted people specifically, both Cid and Locke addressed me first, I can't be held accountable for their reactions to my replies, pfeh! I never should of even shown my face here, you know what! Fuck you all, I'm going."

Shadow got up and made for the door. "Not soon enough," I proclaimed. "I liked you a lot more when you didn't say much," I continued.

Before exiting Shadow turned and looked directly at me and spoke. "I only speak when spoken to, if you don't like what I have to say then you should just keep your fucking mouths shut," then slammed the door closed behind him.

I looked over towards Cid who still looked rather shaken, I walked up over to him and put my arm around his shoulder "you alright?" I asked and Cid took a minute to shake the cobwebs before replying,

"... that man is a genius".

I gave Cid an odd expression, and he continued. "Don't you see what he just did? He has bested us all in a game of wits."

I raised an inquisitive eyebrow and Cid sighed.

"Allow me to explain," Cid began. "I had it in my mind to question Shadow, to pry into his mind some, to read into his behaviors and theorize as to their reason and origin. I began my dialogue with this in mind and sought to read him as if he was a subject for a psychological analysis, and yet, in a matter of moments I found myself in a situation where I was now the subject and Shadow was the questioner. Through some creative wording and deft emotional manipulation Shadow managed to reverse the roles, quite simply he beat me at my own game, he read me, assessed my weaknesses, and moved right for them all in the span of a couple minutes. That man is a genius, a deeply troubled genius, but a genius nonetheless," Cid concluded.

"You don't have to be a genius to hurt someone emotionally by bringing things up from the past, Cid," I reasoned.

"You'd be surprised," Cid replied. "To be able to quickly and accurately take data then word and manipulate it to successfully manipulate another human being, takes considerable intelligence," he continued and I shrugged.

I looked around, the place was still pretty much empty and the fish weren't biting at all, apparently the 'Hey I'm king Edgar, now sleep with me!' and 'Hey I saved the world, now sleep with me!' lines don't work well here in Thamasa. Seems like this is going to be a looooong weekend without getting any...

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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