Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 12, part 6

"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 6

Candice was ready for anything, though she wasn't sure of where to go or what to do at this point. The clouds above the castle were only growing darker, which she was very certain was only going to lead to something awful. She had been looking at the paintings on the wall while staying very close to the front door until she saw a few guards run out of one of the hallways nearby. She darted to hide behind one of the massive pillars near the wall, watching where they were going. It was obvious they were looking for somebody.

"Airu's gone missing!" one shouted. "Find her and put that traitor to death in the name of the Emperor! Forget that she was once our Empress! She is an enemy of the Empire! All glory to Palamecia!"

More responded in turn. "All glory to Palamecia! All glory to the Emperor!"

That would be Mateus' mother, wouldn't it? She thought, pressing her back against the pillar. Candice slid down to sit on the floor, staying out of sight. She could hear all of their heavily-armored footsteps causing the floor to rumble beneath where she was sitting. I honestly don't believe that Mateus would put his own mother to death. That's gotta be the order of the Demon King. He can't be that evil. I mean, yeah, he's evil enough to invade other lands and mercilessly kill thousands of innocent people, but… making his mother die? Come on. Maybe it's the fact that I didn't grow up with a supportive mother, but I'd like to think that if I had one, I wouldn't want her to die. Even if she was meddling in my political affairs to take over the world, I really don't think I'd put my own mother to death. Whatever happened to putting a princess in a tower or something? Did he never read fairy tales? Shit… and now I have no frickin' idea as to where Claire and Firi went off to. I'm just… stuck here! That's exasperating.

When the troops were gone, more people came through. Candice turned around to see who it was, and she noticed a very familiar face. It was Minwu!

"Minwu," she called out, motioning for him to come over to where she was hiding.

"Candice?" Minwu asked much more quietly, running to the pillar. "What are you doing here?"

"I was looking for clues and Claire just left me behind," Candice answered. "She and Firi ran somewhere and I don't know where. Then a whole bunch of troops came through, calling out to look for Lady Airu." She shook her head. "I hope she's all right…"

"Lady Airu…" Minwu said, looking away for a moment. "She's…" He reached into the pocket in his breastplate, showing Candice the crystal. "…she said she'd rather die for a chance to save her son than die to the Demon King for any purpose."

"…she… died for the crystal?!" Candice asked, gasping.

"She refused to let me do it, because I have a task yet to complete," Minwu said, closing his eyes. "Because I… I have to look after…" he put the crystal away. "No matter. This ends tonight."

"Awesome!" Candice said, standing back up. "Let me come with you! I wanna sock that Emperor for everything he's done!"

"…I appreciate your enthusiasm," Minwu said.

"Well don't you want to kill the bastard, too? He's mistreated your student - taken her innocence from her – and ripped both of your homelands apart. You have every reason to ram him through with your staff…" Candice said, then she noticed that Minwu was without his favorite weapon. "…wait. Where is your staff?"

"It's not important," the old mage said quietly. "I can fight without it. Still. If you wish to come with me, then let's tread carefully, shall we?"

"I don't do careful very well, Minwu. You know this well enough."

"Fair enough, Candice," Minwu said, turning to head down one of the hallways nearby. "But if you're going to accompany me, I do request that you keep up and don't get lost. Please don't get distracted."

"I won't, I won't. I promise! Cross my heart!" Candice said, following him. "I wanna save the sisters I didn't have the chance to get to know before. Canti and Claire… I love them a lot."

"They love you, too," Minwu replied, not even looking back. "Those two needed you, just as you have always needed them. The three of you are like pieces of a puzzle, interlocking perfectly. Don't doubt yourself. I know you have in the past, and there is no reason for it. They care about you as much as you do for them. Even if they were adopted, they did have a mostly lonely existence. Cantirena's loneliness even harder to understand to most people…" He pulled the crystal out to look at it again. "The light of the crystal will hide nothing from us. The labyrinth will most certainly get darker as it grows deeper."

"Minwu."

"Hm?"

"Did you always know they were… special?"

"I didn't know until after it was too late to protect them about the blue hair being linked to the Goddess. Princess Hilda was the one who put that together, once she heard that Cid's adopted daughter was like the infamous twins living in Fynn," Minwu answered as he lifted the crystal into the shadow. It shined brighter the darker the light in the hallway became. "Separated due to whatever circumstances were present at the time… I wouldn't be surprised if you, being the oldest of the three, went off by yourself to look for help, but you got lost before you could find your way back to the other two. When Sumia and Frederick found Cantirena and Clarisse, they were both crying for their 'big sis'. I don't know if a search was made to find another missing child, or if after they grew up, they forgot about you, or if they treated it like a dream… but it was clear that as they grew up, there was something incomplete about them. They were both very talented, even at a young age. When Clarisse was seven, she started training to be a White Knight, and Cantirena, at age six, was… in my care, most of the time. Their adopted parents loved them. They loved the girls more than anything, but their parenting skills weren't exactly what either girl needed. Cantirena lashed out at other children before I started to teach her. She wouldn't listen to anyone but me for a while."

"You know, somehow I think that hasn't changed very much."

"Oh?"

"Minwu, she won't let anyone else close to her. Even though it's taboo, even though she was practically your daughter, you… you both still…"

"I never intended for this to happen, Candice. But I have no complaints. At this point, I would have died if not for my promise to stay alive for her sake. I would have given my life to create that crystal, without even a second thought. I can't leave Cantirena. I… I love her dearly. In every way I can think of. She is going to be my student forever. She will become my wife. I don't care what is legal and what isn't. If no country will honor our love, then we will found our own."

"You'd… leave us all behind?"

"Once the world is saved, we were planning on leaving this region behind anyway. We have a world to help heal, after all we've done to help destroy it."

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