Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 11, part 4

"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling

Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all FFII characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fan fiction. There is no profit being made from this story.

Part 4

Minwu and Airu looked through every text they could. Now that the Emperor had left to oversee the ins and outs of the tournament, they had pretty much free reign. Airu was the highest ranking person in the palace without her son there, which meant freedom. They crunched as much information into their minds as they could, sleeping and eating very little and only when the body demanded it to be able to continue their work.

It was during one meal that Minwu stopped what he was doing, as he felt a flicker of something in his heart. Something happened, though he couldn't tell what. It could have been back in Fynn, or it could be with Cantirena preparing for the tournament. Airu noticed that he had stopped eating and was starting to hand him another book, when he put his hand up to stop her.

"Let me process everything a moment," Minwu said gently. "I… felt something."

"Your heart tugs at you," Airu said. "Someone you love must need you."

"I am needed everywhere," Minwu whispered. "Those in Fynn wish for me to help lead the rebellion. Cantirena needs me to keep her stable and to guide her. And… then I am needed here, because there are not many who can form a crystal, regrettably." He put his hand over his heart. "All of the information the Goddess gave me, and I am still not close enough! Oh… what have I missed? All of the studying I have done, and I am still not close enough to solving anything. I can't save my student, or the town I have pledged my loyalty, much less the world from a demon-possessed tyrant."

"Don't think that," Airu whispered. "You are panicking, and that's not going to help you think. Remember, you need three things which represent freedom, truth, and love…"

"…and then to bring them together under the purest white light," Minwu finished her sentence. "But I don't know what those things could be, and I certainly don't know what the white light is, either. That's why I'm trying to do all this research. There's not a single book about crystal creation, because at one point, they were naturally occurring objects."

"That, and it was considered taboo to create crystals at one time," Airu said quietly, picking up another text book. "Especially here in Palamecia."

"Probably because the Demon King has always had influence here, since the Stone of Illuia is here within this very palace since the empire's very founding," Minwu reasoned aloud. "Let that sink in for a minute. He knows a crystal is the one thing that can destroy the stone he is imprisoned in. Of course, he would have a law put in place against the creation of crystals. He's not stupid."

"…you are right," Airu whispered. "The doctors said that my husband died of a sickness of the mind. No spells could break it; no herbs, elixirs or remedies. Nothing. His last few years, he spent tucked away from the rest of the world. He didn't look after his son, he didn't look after his daughter, he didn't look after the matters of his home or his country. When he spoke, it was incoherent rambling… no one could make any sense of him…" She teared up, hiccupping a few times before being able to pull herself back together again. "I have to save my son from this fate, Minwu."

"I wish to spare everyone having to deal with this… but I don't know what all the symbolism is supposed to mean…" Minwu said. He got up to give his body a chance to move before setting back into his chair to read again. Something in his pocket landed against his chest. "…hm?" he reached into his pocket, pulling out the charm that Cantirena had given him. "It's… the charm?"

"That appears to be a protective charm," Airu said. "I've made those sorts of things and given them to my children over the years, in the tradition of Cosmos' Holy Text – giving her warriors powerful crystals to guide them when she could not be there, made with her love."

Minwu looked at the charm very closely. "Cantirena said her father gave this to her," he said. "To protect her… it looks to be the same kind of charm you spoke of. But… did you say that according to the text, these were… symbols of love?"

"Yes, that's what I said," Airu replied.

"I think we have one of the pieces!" Minwu shouted. "Perhaps… I have been looking in the wrong places! Airu, do you have a copy of the Holy Text which tells how this is made? Are there also symbols of truth and freedom within?!"

"…I thought you were a disciple of Cosmos."

"I am, but… I've never heard of this text before," Minwu said, ashamed of having to admit that fact.

"It makes sense that you wouldn't," Airu said, looking out the window. "Because… well…"

"Well, what?"

"I am not native of Palamecia. I was not born in this land. I am from Kashuon. I've never found a copy of the Holy Text anywhere here, and I have searched every library in this country that I can find."

"So you're saying that the only copy of the book that spoke of these charms… was destroyed in the attack on Kashuon?" Minwu asked. "You… can't be serious."

"There's no conclusive proof that the book was destroyed…" Airu said, trying to sound hopeful. "…if Kashuon Keep still stands, its library may still be intact."

"Full of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls," Minwu said. "But it is still intact."

"…then I will go," Airu said, standing up. "You will remain here, in case the guards come looking for you during my absence. You are not supposed to leave, of that much I am certain. I will go to the keep and retrieve the Holy Text myself."

"…but it is dangerous in those walls."

"And I am an accomplished mage, just as much as you are," Airu said. "I've casted many a Holy in my day. I'll be fine." She put her hands on Minwu's shoulders. "Cantirena misses you, and you need to be close to her, or you will make her heart ache in the way yours does right now. She will know if you go further from where she is. She'll feel you gone. Stay, it will take me no longer than a day."

"All right," Minwu said, giving her a nod of confidence. "I must believe in you, as I must believe in my student."

"Exactly." Airu said, walking out of the room and leaving him alone.

Minwu looked at the charm again. If the only book which taught how to make this charm was in Kashuon Keep, then how did Frederick and Sumia know how to make these? Who exactly were they? He turned the charm over, which had something that looked like ancient writing on it.

This is not something taught in any text book. These glyphs are older than books… the last time anyone 's seen writing like this was during the time of scrolls… Frederick and Sumia would not have known this language… He stared at it closely. Is… is this…

"By Cosmos' guiding light!" Minwu said. "This is the piece of a spell! This… oh Goddess Almighty, this spell is… the ultimate white magic? This… This is a piece of ULTIMA."

With three pieces of love, truth, and freedom… cast the purest white light to create a crystal. The purest magic known to this world is known as the ancient ultimate white magic, Ultima! The ancients sealed it away… for good measure, because in the wrong hands it could prove to be an utter disaster. But I thought the only way to cast Ultima was from the tome sealed in the Tower of the Magi.

"This puzzle," Minwu whispered. "It's meant for me, isn't it, Cosmos? You wanted me, the last of my tribe… to solve this. I… I know that now. I'm so close."

Hang on, Cantirena… We're almost there!

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