Ch 12, part 3
"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.
Cantirena did as she was told, heading back to where she woke up when Firion snapped her back to reality. She stepped quietly, feeling as if there was something else she should do besides going back to sleep again. She felt utterly useless. She wanted to help her teacher, and all Mateus wanted her to do was rest. Cantirena wondered if perhaps her teacher was doing her duties for her behind her back. That was more than an irritating thought.
The hallways started to get darker, and the more she went in, the less natural light there was. Soon she heard a very large boom from outside the castle, and it made her duck down into one of the corners. Was the palace being attacked? Was that why the Emperor wanted her in the inner sanctum? Well that wasn't very nice, she could fight to defend the castle! How could she be so insulted?
Then she put her hand on her belly, remembering sharp pains that once felt like it would be the end of her life. She heard the echoes of her screams in anguish in the back of her mind. The memories of what happened weren't exactly all there, but trauma was known to make the human mind block out memories of what caused it. At one point she knew she had almost been split in half by the biggest claw she'd ever seen. There were bites all over her limbs. She could feel the piercing straight through her skin and muscle, leading to blood splattering all over herself and the ground.
Perhaps it's because I was nearly rent asunder that I'm being told to hide, she thought. Even though I'd rather be on the front, looking after those I care about… but… how exactly did I get into a fight with the Dragon Zombie anyway?
As she sat there in the corner, there was another loud boom. She thought about it. She remembered parting ways with Minwu because the Emperor was trying to persuade her to stay in the castle with him, and while on the way to his chambers for further 'discussion', he mentioned something of the tournament. There were a lot of people who signed up for it, trying to get their wish granted legally, even though none of them survived the preliminaries. Cantirena remembered fighting a Dragon Zombie and surviving the battle very vividly, though it was a very difficult battle to trudge through. If not for the powers given to her by the Goddess, she would not have survived it. After the battle, she made her way out of the tunnel which connected to the underworld and approached Mateus alone. She remembered trying to fight him and not being able to harm him. She made a deal with him to stay in the coliseum, as long as Minwu would be safe, too, but after that… after that…
Cantirena tried to remember what happened after making that deal. She sat in one of the areas where contestants were made to wait during the tournaments held hundreds of years ago, leaning against the wall, sitting in the sand, letting it run through her fingers. She remembered falling asleep, too.
What happened after that?!
I defeated a Dragon Zombie on my own, Cantirena thought. So why then would I remember being torn apart by that same creature?
She looked around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary from where she was, but she didn't feel safe enough to move. While she knew she had the capability to fight, her confidence dwindled. She had no reason to feel like she could defend herself at this point. Cantirena felt useless. Beyond useless.
"Care to explain why you're sitting on the floor in the middle of the hallway?" a voice asked from the shadows. "That's unbecoming of someone who is quickly growing into the role of being the prime advisor for the Emperor of Palamecia."
"I'm not exactly prepared for the role," Cantirena answered, looking down at the floor. It was so dark she had a hard time seeing anything in the carpeting. There was a pattern that decorated the border, but it was very hard to see. "If I can barely manage myself, I don't think I can manage such a large role."
"You'll do fine." The figure that stepped out of the shadows was that of Minwu's. "That is, if this is really what you want to do."
"Minwu!" Cantirena cried out, getting up and running to him. She squeezed around him as she laid her head right where his heart was just to listen to his heartbeat. "I'm so sorry!"
Minwu returned her affection gently, ruffling her hair. "Now what in the world do you have to be sorry for?" he asked.
"…I didn't want to condemn her to death, but I didn't have a choice."
"Do you mean Lady Airu?"
"That's exactly what I mean… I know you needed her help and I sentenced her to hang at dawn."
"…do not fret. She wouldn't confess her crimes, and even if she did, she had been suspected of Treason long ago. My dear, you cannot feel things for your enemies. An enemy of the Palamecian crown is your enemy, too. By taking up the duty of being a royal advisor, this is how your life is now."
"So what do you feel about Fynn now? You're working with Fynn's enemy, aren't you? I was being trained to take your place, to look after Fynn's royal family the way you did… and now, here I am, serving the greatest enemy in the world. Killer of our lord, King Gilbert, and who drove our own princess to suicide… is the person I admire the most turning is back on where he swore his vows?!"
"You are right, Cantirena. It is just as you say. I don't serve Fynn anymore. King Gilbert is dead, Princess Hilda is also dead. There is nothing left of Fynn. Helping you in your new position means more to me than serving a country which no longer exists."
"That's not what a member of the Wild Rose Rebellion would say. Firion and Paul both would smack you in all directions to snap you out of this…"
"My dearest, most precious student…"
"I hate it. I have to go against everything I've ever been taught because the Emperor saved my life when even you couldn't. I have to repay my debt to him. But I didn't expect you to go along with it so easily."
Minwu pushed Cantirena away. "I accepted this situation because I love you. I will stand by you, no matter who you serve. Even if the countries around us fall, Cantirena, I will stay by your side. Forget the political struggle. What matters is being together throughout everything."
"…if that really is the case, teacher… then we should flee. Forget Fynn, forget Palamecia, forget everyone who has ever been involved in our lives at any goddamn point because all that matters is us, right? If I am all that matters to you, let's get the hell out of this whole mess. Hide somewhere where Mateus will never, ever find us."
"As romantic as that sounds, I can't agree to it. You do belong here now, because you lost the deal with the Emperor, remember? Instead of making you work in the slave fields, he's made you a member of the royal court. He didn't just save your life, he also spared you."
"Before you start talking more nonsense, let's get you to bed. You look exhausted. I believe with some rest, you'll be thinking much more rationally again."
"Just… one favor?"
"Stay with me this time. I don't want to have to wake up to only have to go find you. The next time I get visitors waking me up and asking for you, I'd rather have you there so you can talk to them."
"Fair enough. We'll stay tucked away for a while. I know the Emperor will not mind."
Nor will the Demon King.