A/N: Written for a LiveJournal 10settings community challenge using the prompt 3- forest.

Warnings: None. Worksafe.

Disclaimer: Square Enix owns. I'm just borrowing their characters for non-profit purposes.


A sleeping feeling

The forest in which Kadaj walked was different from the ones he had seen before in other parts of this planet. It never grew dark, not even in the dead of the night, and sunlight could not get inside of it either. The trees glowed with a light of their own; every bush, every blade of grass seemed to be illuminated from within. And the pools of water... He could not explain them. They looked shallow, they were shallow, but once you came beneath the surface of the water, hidden depths opened up for you and when it trickled over the rocks, the sound was that of glass pearls falling. Everything about this land seemed to be soaked with inexplicable presence.

Kadaj did not know what to rightfully think of it. The forest was not dead and yet there was no other living being inside it. No birds, no bugs, no animals. He had seen no flowers either (a relief for Loz), only something that resembled fireflies could be spotted in the distance every now and again, but whenever he tried getting closer to them, the fluttering lights disappeared. To the three remnants it seemed that before they came this way, no one alive had crossed the premises of this forest. It seemed that everything that drew breath avoided this place, and that was why the remnants found it perfect for their needs. They could stay here undisturbed. They could come and go as they pleased.

Fingers of one hand slowly clenching and unclenching, Kadaj continued his leisurely stroll between the glowing silver trees. Both of his brothers were gone; away into the city. Yazoo was to gather the kids and Loz – to make a ruckus and create a diversion if need be. Although the latter was a good enough diversion on his own. He had too much energy to be able to sit in lay and wait patiently – that was more suited for Yazoo. Even though Kadaj needed some time alone for thinking, it never even mattered whether Loz was there to bug him for all the details of the upcoming fights or not. Things had long since been set into motion and now fated events were unfolding one after another in rapid succession. The world was almost in their grasp. And with it, Mother.

Despite this silvery forest being as calm and quiet as a grave, Kadaj soon found out that thinking was denied for him here. He had an unnerving feeling that even though the trees slept, someone else roamed under the foliage. Someone was watching him. Not Mother whose presence he could always feel, but something else. Something dreadful.

Not a branch cracked under his feet – for there were no fallen branches. Not a leaf crumpled under his heavy boots – for there were no fallen leaves. Not a blade of grass was trampled in his broad stride – for they all rose back up the minute his foot lifted. He could have sworn that he had seen some fallen branches before, but no matter where he looked there were none. His footsteps were soundless even though he was not striving to be stealthy and his own breathing sounded unforgivably loud to his own ears. No matter what Kadaj did, the forest did not acknowledge his existence, and yet it was strangely aware that something had entered its realm unbidden. Somehow, though denying it's presence, the forest felt that something unwelcome had taken refuge in its depths.

Patiently, the forest waited.

Meanwhile, Kadaj was feeling more and more out of place; walking like this, all alone. His brothers had not returned yet and his fingers were just itching to reach for his phone. There was no use calling Loz other than to make him cry because they could not find Mother fast enough. Kadaj wanted to call Yazoo, to hear his voice, to listen to his emotionless reports. He wanted to feel his presence, wanted to know that he was not alone. But Yazoo was not coming. And Kadaj was too proud to call for him. His plans were important and both his older brothers were currently working to bring them to fruition. He was ready to sacrifice the entire world for this cause, and loneliness was a part of it. If it meant sacrificing his own safety, his sanity, his life... he would still do it. He would take it all and throw it all away in a blaze of glory. His feeling of uneasiness might have been growing, but he refused to leave, to abandon his plans, to just turn his back on all the desperate searching for Her now that they had finally come this far. They had come so close, so close...

Now it was no longer only Mother's voice. Recently, her presence had started coming to him in waves: soon stronger, soon weaker, soon waning altogether, as if her will was fighting others, almost equal wills. One night Yazoo had told him that he had always been able to feel Mother's presence as if a distant sound just out of hearing range: a wave or vibration that you are aware of, but cannot pinpoint. Back then (and even now sometimes) Kadaj had been a little jealous. He could hear Mother and thus he knew that She existed, somewhere. Then there was his brother who had not heard Her voice even once. Who, not even knowing who She was, was aware of her existence and could recognise her presence. Yazoo had also told him that Loz shared this ability, but was unable to fully comprehend it. Therefore, the closer they got to Mother, the more intense and more complicated the feeling grew for Loz. If Mother's presence made Yazoo to compose himself, to stay alert and utterly focused in order to not miss a thing, it made both Kadaj and Loz impatient, almost violently frantic. Even now Kadaj trembled from head to toe, just thinking about the moment when Mother would finally be with them.

He stopped, listening in to the eerie silence of the sleeping forest before turning around and heading back to where he had come from. It was high time for both of his brothers to return and he wanted to be there when they arrived. He wanted to see the final stage of his plan finally in action.

And the trees, in all their drowsy stillness, watched and waited.