Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 12, part 10

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

Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all FFII characters, places and references found within. Original characters and interpretations belong to the co-writers of this fan fiction. There is no profit being made from this story.

Part 10

Cantirena picked the harp back up, placing the round part made of wood on her lap. She supported it with her right arm, and strummed the strings with her left hand. Eventually, after a few strums, she felt a song in her heart.

"Rise from the ashes,rise once again,to save all of our land.The rose petals dance on the wind -the free wind of peace."She hummed it, then played the song, note by note on the harp. The words were unfamiliar, but the melody sounded like the same thing she heard the White Knights playing on their instruments. It seemed to be a theme song for the rebellion. But, somehow, words came to her mind as she played it. Perhaps because it was an Ancient Mysidian instrument, and knowing how all magic was music and music was magic, the Lunar Harp sitting in her hands was giving her a way to understand everything. A way to put it in a form she wasn't able to before. She looked at the harp again. Minwu was right. It did help her feel better to play the harp.

"The thing is," she said as if she was speaking to the harp itself, "the rebellion won. Why would I sing a song wishing to bring peace, when… peace is all ready here? If you're trying to give me an outlet, this isn't what I'm feeling."

The harp glowed in her hands. She felt another song. A much more powerful song, longer, darker… she winced as she heard it in her head. It was like the harp was reading into her heart, telling her to play her feelings.

"Naa na na na, na na naaa na na… naa, naa, na na na na naaa…" she hummed it aloud. "This is more appropriate, isn't it? Funny how I'm talking to you like you can understand me…"

She closed her eyes.

"No doubt the harp can understand you."

Cantirena instantly looked around. "Who… who's there?!"

"You don't recognize my voice? That saddens me quite a bit… why, it's almost as if you wish to deny everything that happened to you recently."

She couldn't believe it. "How… how are you even?!"

"The way that I am speaking to you doesn't matter. The truth is, I felt your pain. You miss me as much as I have missed you."

"Mateus… you're dead. You can't be speaking to me! There is no way." Cantirena shouted loudly. "I saw your body. I cried at your grave longer than anyone else there. You… you can't be speaking to me. This must all be some sort of trick!"

"True enough. My body is, in fact, very dead. This is why… I wish to come see you again with a different body. You may not recognize me, but I've conquered a whole new kingdom. You may have heard of it. It's called Heaven! Overthrowing the angels was, how do you mortals like to put it… a piece of cake? And, now, with the power I've found, even dead, I can walk the mortal realm again. Let me tell you, my lady, the power here within the Crystal Castle of Abburoth is not to be underestimated. So… where shall I meet you?"

"You're not going to," Cantirena said loudly, putting the harp down. "I'm going crazy. I'm going to go see Minwu right now and tell him what's going on. So even if I'm not going crazy, we'll be prepared for you!"

"But you have missed me. I thought you wanted to see me again."

Cantirena got up and marched out of the room, walking down the hall very quickly.

"You love me, don't you? Join me. Together we will rule this world, both the afterlife and the mortal realm!"

"I won't let you haunt me," Cantirena said as she entered the throne room, catching everyone there by surprise. "Real or not, I won't put up with this."

"Hey! Look who it is!" Firion said cheerfully. "Hey there, little sis! We were just talkin' about throwin' you a party-"

"Shut up, Firi!" Clarisse slapped her hand over Firion's mouth. "Hi, Canti!"

Cantirena put her hands together before answering her older sister. "I don't think the war is over. Don't go throwing any parties yet."

"What?" Gordon asked. "Can you be certain of this?"

"Either something very bad is about to happen, or I'm going crazy," she said quietly. "I hear… I hear his voice in my head again, and… he says he will return from the dead."

Gordon nodded. "I will not leave anything to chance. We will send a team out to Palamecia at once to watch over his grave. He will not return on our watch." He stood up, raising his arm out. "Call an airship and a group of our strongest knights. They leave immediately!"

"Sire!" three guards from the other side of the room responded, saluting and then running out of the room.

"You've no reason to panic, Cantirena. Having visions is something that previous royal mages have done in the past," Gordon said, motioning towards Minwu, who was sitting at a table running through scrolls and other parchments. Returning to the castle meant returning to his daily duties, and there was so much to go through. "I believe it is a tradition from Mysidian culture, to have visions such as these. Being exposed to Mysidia may have opened the way somehow for you."

"I honestly don't think it was Mysidia itself," Cantirena replied. "I think it was the ancient harp. I wanted to play it, to find an outlet for my inner frustrations. After… hearing a song from Palamecia, I… could hear the voice of Emperor Mateus in my mind. I don't know if I'm going crazy, or if it really is his voice. I don't know what the rules are, and I hate it." She bowed before the king. "Forgive me for not addressing you formally, your highness."

"Get up," Gordon said. "There's no reason for you to bow before me. We've been through so much together, I don't even feel like royalty anymore. Besides, you and your sisters are higher than royalty, when you think about it. Being children of a Goddess makes you more important than having blood that belongs to some family of rulers."

"I thank you kindly for saying so, but…" Cantirena stood back up. "…no, never mind. Just thank you, sire."

Minwu looked up from his table. "Cantirena?" he called her.

"Yes?" she walked over to the table. "I'm sorry I-"

"No, I must apologize for what I've done to you," Minwu cut her off. "Of course, if he was returning, he would contact you. Even if someone knows of his plans, he doesn't believe he can fail. He has been defeated once, he can be defeated again. And you won't have to see him, either. We have a defense built up now. You are to remain here at the castle and maintain your royal duties even if I am moved to the front. Even if your sisters are moved to the front. You are to remain in the castle until we know the threat is neutralized."

"I… don't want to be a burden," Cantirena said, nodding. "I understand."

"Also…"

"…yes?"

"…you are to resume your lessons starting tomorrow morning. There is a lot that we have yet to go over, if you are going to remain a royal mage to Fynn."

"Yes, teacher. I will begin studying tonight to prepare." Cantirena bowed her head a little, then did an about face before she walked back out of the throne room, leaving everyone staring at Minwu, bewildered at how he handled that.

When Cantirena was out of earshot, Clarisse gave him a glare. "That's… that's it?!" she asked. "No reminding her that you love her, or talking about your future together? Nothing like that?"

Minwu looked back down at the papers on the table. "My student is not ready yet to become my wife. I told Candice this, and I will tell you the same thing. Until she shows she's ready to move on, she will remain nothing more than my student."

"That's a bit harsh," Firion said. "We were planning on throwing her a party…"

"Throw her one. See how much better that makes her feel. Have a hint. It will not. She misses Mateus. It's clear as day that she does. You can't convince me otherwise. I can't force her into marriage. I will speak to her about hearing his voice. That is troubling."

"Do you still have the crystal?"

"…the crystal disintegrated when the three girls touched it. Cosmos came and took the darkness from Cantirena and Mateus when it happened," Minwu explained. "It all happened as it was ordained. If Mateus is to return with the plan of conquering the world, I do not believe we will have an easy solution to work with. I sincerely hope all that's happening is that she is hearing voices because she… she wants him to come back." He threw the papers down onto the table and got up. "She wants that tyrant to come back!"

"Calm down, Minwu," Clarisse said. "There's no reason to-"

"He took advantage of her, stole her innocence, and she misses him." He grunted.

If all she wants for me is for me to be her teacher, then that is all she will get from me.

"She loves you, Minwu." Clarisse snapped at him. "Don't act like that. You've no reason to act like that. Don't mistake her fears for love. You need to go to her, talk to her, reassure her. Even if you're not ready to marry her or whatever, you need to still do what you've always done for her. Cantirena has always looked to you for comfort when she had no one else to turn to. You need to be the one who comforts her. She needs you, Minwu. Go."

"Clarisse, I-"

"Go comfort your student before I kick your ass!" Clarisse yelled. "GO."

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