Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 12, part 1

"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

CHAPTER TWELVE BEGINS

Part 1

Cantirena walked with two Palamecian Dark Knights, one on each side of her. They headed out to the area where incoming airships landed, to find that one Palamecian ship which left port a few days ago had indeed returned. She felt bad about what she said to Firion and Ricard, but she believed that by standing at Mateus' side, she was able to save their lives. When it came to Lady Airu, unfortunately, she didn't think there was much she could do. Knowing that Minwu and Airu were working together to defeat the Demon King which possessed Mateus once and for all, she was going to have to pull some strings if she didn't want the plan to be a complete failure.

I didn't want to lie to you, she thought as they walked through the strip between many docked airships. I know for certain the only reason why Minwu would play along with a plan like this is because he needs to remain close to the Emperor for this to work… he wouldn't go along with it otherwise. Even if this was what I was preparing for my whole life, it's certainly not what I want anymore. You don't know how much I've had to fake lately, and I'm getting pretty damn sick of it.

When she came to a stop, she heard the loud clanking of the armored knights at her side. There was Lady Airu, an older woman with her hair the same beautiful blonde as her son, holding a bag full of text books in her hands.

"Cantirena," Lady Airu said gently. "How wonderful it is to see you!" She started to approach the young lady, but she was stopped by the spears of the guards who were standing at Cantirena's side.

"I'm afraid that by order of the Emperor of Palamecia, you are under arrest for Treason," Cantirena said emotionlessly. "You are sentenced to hang until you are dead at sunrise."

"…what?!" Airu gasped. "How… how did…? Where is your teacher, Minwu?" Tears came to her eyes. "…is there no way to make this work?! Can we not save this world?"

"Minwu has confessed his crimes against the crown…" Cantirena sighed. "The Emperor knows you have brainwashed Minwu into serving your purposes. Drop your possessions."

Airu dropped her bag. "Please, Cantirena, I beg you, take the bag yourself. Don't let them destroy it."

"Of course not," Cantirena said. She looked at one of the guards. "Give me the bag. I will take care of it." The guard walked over and picked it up, then put it right into Cantirena's hands. She nodded. "Take her away. I will report this to His Majesty." Carrying the bag, she went back to the castle. She didn't know what was in it, other than a few text books. This must be the missing references needed for Minwu to complete the crystal. Far be it from her to get in the way of that project. Inside the castle, she found a few maids cleaning something that Cantirena found to be unimportant, so she called them to attention. "I wish for you to deliver this bag to Minwu. He knows of his assignment for the Emperor. If this bag does not make it to Minwu in one hour, all of you will be put to death."

One of the maids took the bag, and the others bowed their heads to Cantirena in response. Then they took off in that direction.

It's the least I can do for now… she thought. Maybe we won't have to surrender everything after all.

"There you are…" The Emperor's voice came very quickly, pulling her right out of her hopeful thoughts. "So, how did it go?"

"Airu is being taken to the dungeon. She will hang at first light tomorrow for treason," Cantirena answered him, turning around to see him standing just a short distance away.

"Two big tasks completed today. For your first day working as my Royal Mage, you've done quite a bit of work." he said, coming closer. "I could have hoped for no better assistant. You must be tired. How about we rest? You look like you need sleep."

"I work tirelessly in your name," Cantirena said, concentrating her eyes on the carpet below their feet. "All glory to Palamecia."

"In that respect, I believe you are wrong…" Mateus smiled. "All glory to the One True Emperor."

"Of course," she answered. "I… I am wrong. I meant no disrespect. But, if I may have one request, sire, I would like to speak with Minwu. I will get right back to work afterward."

"Take the rest of the day off," the Emperor said. "I will have Minwu come to you. You should rest now."

"As thankful as I am for your gracious offer, I'd like to see him now," she said quietly. "If I sleep, I won't wake up for a while."

"That's just as well," he replied. "The coming days will be hard on all who live in Palamecia, and for someone in your position, you will need to have all the energy you can muster."

Cantirena frowned. He wasn't going to let her go anywhere, was he? "Your Majesty, please, I-"

"I have given you my order. Go to bed. You know the way back."

She shook her head. "I don't want to sleep in your bed, sire. It was kind of you to allow me that when I was weak and couldn't go anywhere else, but I'm… I'm still engaged to Minwu. I love him. Sleeping in your bed makes me feel like an Oathbreaker. Please, let me speak with him. I feel terrible about this."

"He does not mind. He knows you are only doing your duty to the country you serve. If your Emperor commands you to sleep where he does, then you carry out your orders before you are punished for disobeying," Mateus said. "Now before I have knights escort you to bed, you had better start making your way there. I have said my peace on the matter." He turned away from her, heading in a different direction from where she was expected to go.

"…sire?"

"Yes?" He looked back behind him to see her with her hands clasped over her heart as if begging for answers.

"Is it really true that you found me half-dead in the tunnel beneath the coliseum?" Cantirena asked.

He turned around completely before answering."A Dragon Zombie nearly ate you. You had claw and teeth marks everywhere on your body, not to mention that your flesh was starting to decompose. Your wounds were so terrible not even Minwu could heal you…"

"Then… then how am I walking right now?"

"I healed you." The Emperor's words were sharp even if they were simple.

"You… you're a white mage, too? I've never seen you heal-"

"I received training in white magic, starting when I was a child. The same as you. My greatest teacher was my older sister. She taught me how to heal rotting flesh when I was attacked by a zombie… I explored a little too far under the castle before my training was complete, and it was up to my sister to save me…" Mateus explained. "That's how I saved you, using the same exact technique. Minwu has no experience in that. He may speak the ancient tongue of the Magi, but he isn't versed in every healing technique. Such a pity, really. He doesn't come from a place where zombie creatures are commonplace, so I suppose it makes sense."

Cantirena nodded. "I'm sorry I questioned you. I… I won't do it again."

"I'll let it slide just this once… and I'll have Minwu come visit you immediately."

"Th… thank you." She bowed before leaving down the same hall that Paul had led her out of earlier.

But first, I better see how the other girls are doing. They're still lost as to what to do about your condition. Mateus thought. Poor sisters weeping over their beloved young one… it's almost too good.

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