Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 13, part 3

"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – A Final Fantasy II Alternate Universe

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

Part 3

Leila, Ricard, Cid, Gordon and Paul came together in the throne room to discuss what they wanted to do next. All four of them were determined not to have to rely on Minwu or any of the three blue haired girls. Firion, when asked about what he would do, stared blankly into space. He was the only one who saw the Emperor take his own life, and trying to recount how he felt about the situation made him distant to whomever he was asking. Thus, Gordon decided not to involve him either.

"By the message sent to me from the Palamecian Parliament," Gordon said, trying to sound as kingly as possible during the official meeting, but he knew it wasn't really how he liked to speak. "The people there are too scared to even enter the castle. I don't know what for you four to expect, but you're my most capable warriors and I trust you to make the best decisions for not just Fynn, but the entire world." Gordon pondered on it all for a while. "How do you feel about this mission, personally? Please, speak freely. I wish to know."

"I fear that our little Cantirena won't get better until that enemy is taken out completely," Cid said, being as honest as he could. "Perhaps the reason why she's so sick is because he's calling to her. I mean, she did say she was hearing the Emperor's voice several times, right? Think about that for a minute. It's… nothing short of mind rape. He wants her there and he'll do whatever it takes."

"Aye," Leila said, looking down at the floor. "Those girls were gifts of the Goddess to our world. We gotta do all we can to make sure they're alright! Besides, I gotta go home anyway to look for my baby sisters. If this is a success like I'm hoping it'll be, I'm gonna stay there and help with the reconstruction efforts, Gordon. After that, I'll go along with the original plan to high tail it up to Deist with Ricard. I get the feeling that the destroyed castle might be the only safe place left nowadays."

"I am not exactly ready to head to the castle just yet, unfortunately," Ricard said. "I need to go to Deist first. There is something I need, that I left there. Once that is taken care of then, yes, I believe we must put an end to this using any way in our power to do so."

Paul shook his head. "Going in there is going to be tantamount to suicide. I don't see how we're going to save the world when it's clear that the people inside the castle are dying from it with no solution available. It's not like we can defeat the threat with weapons and magic. They don't even know what it is. It's all speculation. I say we evacuate the normal people somewhere safe and destroy the castle from afar. I've been in there. It used to be the most beautiful palace this world's ever seen, but now it's creepy. It feels like the bowels of hell are seeping through it. Fumes of the underworld stagnate the whole place."

"But we have to do something," Gordon said sternly. "We have to do something. I feel so helpless."

Soon the front gate opened, and Firion walked in with a few guards following behind him. "Sire," he said quietly. "The skies grow darker even here… It's started to rain on the south fields. We've reports from the ports in the east that it is a terrible storm. Ships have been destroyed and… as odd as this may sound, fish and other sea creatures are turning up dead in the water, too. What's worse is our scouts have never seen a storm quite like this one before. It's moving erratically, in directions a storm has never moved before."

"Pull all the people in town inside the castle walls," Gordon said, feeling the extreme weight of the crown on his head. Her warnings were not baseless. He knew Cantirena was right in telling him what was coming. To the young king, it only proved that she was more connected to the events going on than anyone was willing to look into. It scared him, but he wasn't going to show those under his command that. "…Cantirena pointed out a storm just before she fainted in the hallway… She never told me how severe it was going to be, but I'm not taking any chances." He took in a deep breath, standing up from the throne. "I want all of our available men on this. Bring them in, now! All of the people in our realm shall be protected! This is why we exist, White Knights of Fynn!"

"Sire!" Firion gave the salute and instantly turned around, giving signals to men who were standing guard doing nothing in other parts of the room. "We bring the people into the castle! Not one of ours is to be left out in the city tonight! We move, now!"

"Aye, Captain!" the guards called out instantly, following Firion's lead.

"I need to speak to Minwu. You four have my permission to work on your own. If you must go to Deist before heading to your assignment, do so. You are going to investigate Palamecia before you report back here to me, understood? Paul, you're in charge."

"We're on it!" Paul said. "You can count on us."

"I know I can," Gordon said softly. "That's why I'm asking you four to do this for me. Leave before the storm hits Fynn and prevents you from doing so. Be safe." Gordon left the throne room immediately, heading down the hall that led to Minwu's chambers. Outside stood Clarisse on her guard duty as she swore she would do.

"Your Highness," she bowed her head when she noticed Gordon standing there. "What is all the commotion?"

"Firion gave me a report, and we're preparing for the worst," Gordon answered. "Is Minwu inside? I'd like to speak with him."

"I would let you in, but… he's not speaking to anyone right now," Clarisse said sadly. "Just like the last time Cantirena fell at the whims of the Demon King. Just, this time… there's no way of solving it. We discovered a way to cure it just as a fluke last time. We didn't even think Candice really was one of us until she proved she was." She looked at the floor. "Or, rather… I didn't believe it until the proof was undeniable." The thought seemed to have turned her bitter. After looking after the youngest of the three almost by herself during the early years of her life, Clarisse had a hard time swallowing the fact that they both had an older sister who they could have relied on. It made her ache with possibilities as to what life would have been like if they were all together throughout their childhood. Standing there, it seemed like all of these thoughts weighed on her very heavily now. "This time, that trick isn't working. It's like… it's not even an outside force doing it. Last time, it was the Demon King. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she did this to herself."

"She was right about the storm," Gordon said. "Whatever the voice has whispered in her mind, even if it belongs to that of the Emperor, it warned her accordingly." He started to walk past her.

"She… she says she loves Minwu, but… right now I'm not so sure," Clarisse said quietly. "I… think Cantirena shut down because she can't accept that the prince she fell in love with is dead. She left Fynn willingly for him, without anyone having to cast a spell on her until it was too late for her to turn back. Mateus did use her, but she let herself be used…" she wiped her eye. "She didn't fight against him. The only time she did is when she was telling everyone that she was in love with Minwu. Like, she was using this lie to keep herself doing the right thing, even though… even though it wasn't true. And-"

"You have done your job to the fullest extent that you could," Gordon said, placing a hand on Clarisse's shoulder. "Her pain is not your fault."

"I wish she would have trusted me enough to tell me when we were still young that she fell in love with the prince that day," Clarisse cried. "She hid it from everyone because… she was afraid of our reactions. Now look what's happened. She let herself go to be with the one she longed for and there was no way for us to know she was going to. She wouldn't let anyone see her weakness. She wouldn't let me help her with her heartache. She never has."

Gordon nodded. "You must never falter, Clarisse. As someone who has lost his brother because of this war, I am telling you this. No matter what, no matter how far apart you are from your sisters, you can never give up on either of them. Even if her heart has made her body completely shut down because she is in denial and she can't move forward from where she is right now, you must always believe in her and be there for her. If you're not… she might end up making a choice that will tear you apart far worse than the pain you hold within you right now." He tried to smile at her. He wanted to give her a piece of what he learned having tried to overcome Scott's death, but before she had to endure the same fate of losing a beloved sibling. "Scott wasn't just my twin. He was my best friend and the person I admired the most. The moment I lost my faith, the moment I felt like it was all over… that's when it was. I ran in fear with the princess instead of standing with my brother, and I couldn't help but think that he was going to die. Guess what happened? He died because of that attack, and because my heart gave up on him. Cantirena knows that you love her, otherwise you wouldn't have always stayed by her side through all of your lives. You cannot let your heart believe this is the end, or that's when it will be." He then pressed through Minwu's bedchamber door, leaving Clarisse to stand there and ponder over all Gordon had passed to her.

Maybe when we were little, I didn't prove that she was my best friend, Clarisse thought quietly. She… had a lot of outbursts at not just me, but other kids. Instead of trying to show her my good will, I… kept my distance. She was my sister, but that didn't mean I wanted to be around her most of the time. And even though everyone put her down, she still managed to find a teacher who was willing to work with her despite the fact that she didn't understand how to communicate with others… why didn't I see her potential then? Gordon, you may have been close to Scott when he was alive, but I think the two of you did it very differently.

"I wish she would be honest with everyone, so we could help her the right way," Clarisse said, pressing her back against the wall. "Forcing her to marry Minwu just to cover up her sadness over Mateus' death is not the way to help her. She may love Minwu, but it's not like that."

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