Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 12, 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

Outside, in the airship courtyard, Cid was getting impatient. How long were they going to be in there, anyway? And, more importantly, if this was going to take a fortnight, why didn't they invite him to come along? He paced back and forth while he was walking on the deck of the ship, unable to keep his thoughts from racing towards the more horrible ideas that were racing around in his mind. He was curious to know how his daughter was getting along, knowing that she was the least formal woman he'd probably ever met, and that made a lot of sense, considering he didn't raise her to be a part of court. It wasn't until after he became infatuated with the sky that he even found Candice in the first place. By then, he didn't want to be a White Knight or to serve in Fynn's court. He would always remain loyal, but he would never wear the seal of the Wild Rose again. He knew even then that he was done with courtly life… and by then, the woman he desired more than anyone else was betrothed to someone he could never aspire to be. The way the world worked where he was from, rank was almost promised by birth. Cid knew that where he was born, there was no becoming royalty. There was just simply no way to do it.

"Cid!" Paul's voice rang through the courtyard.

"About damn time someone remembered I existed," Cid said, having his hands on his hips like he was disappointed by all of the silence. "Did you forget I could fight, too? …wait, Paul? What are you doing here in Palamecia? Where have you been all this time?"

"We can discuss my epic adventures after returning Krystal to Galtea at a later time, my friend," Paul said. When he got to the side of the ship's hull, he looked up at the older gentleman from where he was standing. The ninja's face was wrought with worry. "Things are worse than we thought…"

"Does it involve my daughter?" Cid asked, reaching to feel the holster for his boomerang with his left hand. "I will cut up anyone that-"

"That's not what I need you for. We need to make a get-a-way as soon as you can manage it."

"…what? What happened to everybody else?" the aging pilot asked.

"…that's what I'm going back in to see. But I want you to fire up the engine and get this baby ready to fly the moment we come back out together," Paul explained. "You're the best pilot we've got, so I'm counting on you."

"Fair enough. You want to go back to Fynn, I take it?"

"No, sir." Paul said, shaking his head. "Fynn's being rebuilt right now. This will lead to a direct attack by the Empire wherever we go, I'm certain of it. There will be wounded. I can promise you this…" He turned back around and started off in the direction back to the door of the palace. "Please, be prepared to leave at any time, Cid."

"Why are you going back in there?"

"Don't you know me by now?" Paul asked. "I can't sit down when there's a girl in need of my help. I promised that no one else would end up like Hilda or Say-Ri. Your daughter, plus her sisters… everyone needs my help. That's what I'm here for." He looked back and smiled at Cid. "Take care, old friend."

"Hey! Don't you go dyin' on us, y'hear me?!"

Paul laughed. "I can't die until I marry the woman of my dreams!" Within a few seconds, he was back in the castle.

Cid thought that was funny, but it didn't make him laugh out loud. He just smiled weakly as he went into the ship's cockpit. Now even if he wanted to, he couldn't slip into a nap while waiting. He had to be on guard. Great. Who knew how long getting everybody out of there was going to take? It was all right, though. That's kind of what he earned when he chose his role as a cloud chaser. The skies were always where he knew he belonged, and he worked towards that goal.

Hilda… he thought. Is there a chance that I'll get to see you when I go? Nah. Couldn't be. A guy like me's gonna end up in the deepest, darkest pits of hell with all the trouble I've caused in my lifetime. I don't think I'll get to gaze upon an angel as sweet as you, Princess.

Clarisse pounded her fist on the wall in frustration. "What do you mean this part of the castle is a labyrinth?" she asked Firion, ready to smack him so hard his face would pop right off of his head.

"The last time we came through here, it was a miracle we even made it through without help. But we absolutely needed Paul's help to get back out of here," Firion explained hurriedly, crossing his arms. "Now if you'd just listen to me-"

"I don't have time to listen!" Clarisse yelled at him. "My little sister-"

"Hey, in case you forgot, we grew up in the same damn house, Claire. She's my sister, too!" Firion said, rolling his eyes. "She might be related to you by blood, and you guys might be connected through some magical or spiritual bond, but that doesn't mean I care for her any less than you do. We grew up together!"

Clarisse frowned for a moment. With her heart the way it was, she had forgotten the fact that she was raised alongside Firion. She wasn't thinking of him as a brother then, and hadn't thought of him like that for a while. "So you needed Paul's help to get through here, but you didn't mark the way or anything?"

"…nope. We found Canti, and we were headed to Minwu, but we ran into the Emperor and…"

"And shit fell apart."

"In not so many words, yeah. That's right," Firion said quietly. "What do you think we should do?"

"Splitting up would be a bad idea at this point…"

"Well then," Firion said, taking Clarisse's hand into his. "Stay close to me. We'll find Canti."

Together they walked, hand in hand, looking through every hall they could find. They would make it through. They were determined.

Candice, on the other hand, stood in the great hall of the palace by herself, looking at one of the paintings on the wall. "That guy…" she said, staring at the painting very closely. "I wonder who he is?" She looked down at the tag on the bottom of the frame. "Palamecia the First? Wow. The first Emperor, who fought in the name of the Goddess... the one who used the power of the crystals, which used to naturally grow here in this land, to seal away the Demon King." She looked up again at the face of the former Emperor. "I wonder if those purple eyes have been passed down to everyone in this family?" She smiled at this discovery. "Hey, Claire! Firi! Take a look at this!" Soon she turned her head, only to realize that she was standing by herself. There wasn't even any guards standing around. "What?! You guys left me alone in enemy territory?! How… rude!"

Soon she heard the calming sound of rain coming from outside the castle. She walked over to the window for a moment. "Rain… in the driest place in the world? Doesn't it rain once every few years out here? This rain, it feels… familiar…" she whispered to herself, staring up into the clouds. She could feel evil from the sky, though she couldn't pinpoint exactly what kind of evil it was. "It was like this… the day I crashed the Hilda Guard. It wasn't raining, but the wind sounded just like this… The Demon King must have something…"

She gasped.

"If it feels like this now, perhaps the Demon King has come out of Mateus completely! Oh shit. Without the crystal, we're fucked…"

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