Ch 2, 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.
When Cantirena opened her eyes, she was still inside the bedroom at the inn where Borghen left her. She rubbed her eyes tiredly, remembering that she had a job to finish. She pulled herself out of bed, straightened out her dress, and threw her cloak over it. She looked out the window. The sun was coming up. It was time to check on the progress of the Emperor's Dreadnaught Warship, which if she remembered the guards yesterday, should be finished sometime within the day. She coughed a few times. Her dreams were still right there, fresh in her memory. In fact, she dreamed her own memories, as if she was reliving them.
She sat down at the table where Borghen had been drinking, and the bottle of Salamand whiskey was still there along with the glass the fat, pimply general pounded on the table every time he took a shot. There next to it was a book and a quill. Remembering what she said about writing letters before, she couldn't help herself. She had so many emotions flowing through her that she didn't know what to write about. The first thing that managed to come out on parchment was a simple line of address.
Dear Mother and Father:
Cantirena promised she would write a letter to her family every time she went to a new town, and the first new town she'd been to was here, in Bafsk. Instead of writing about the mountains taller than any she'd ever imagined, or how tiny the little hamlet was, she wrote about what she set out to do. What drove her to this. Whatever this was.
I find myself in a new town named Bafsk, but the town itself really doesn't matter that much. I came here because I believe that, if I work hard enough, I can bring this war to a close, and the world can heal after all the trouble that has come to pass. I keep hearing the words of my beloved teacher, Minwu, and they lead me to being as peaceful inside as he is. I cannot wait to see you again and tell you of all my adventures! I will do enough exploring for everyone. With all my love, Cantirena.
Writing that made her feel more than nauseous, but she couldn't write anything else. She had to make it sound right. Even though she knew her parents were deader than a doornail and they probably watched her commit the atrocities at Fynn in the name of the person who had them murdered, she wrote to them like they were still alive. She had enough on her plate without having to deal with mourning her parents properly. Instead she tried to focus on other things. That's when her most recent dream started replaying in her head. Once again, she couldn't get the thoughts out of her head.
The day Prince Mateus came to Fynn, and how I met him after a meeting between the leaders of Palamecia, Fynn, Deist, and Kashuon, Cantirena thought as she walked out of the room and headed out of the inn. She gave the innkeeper a 200 Gil coin even though the innkeeper wanted to refuse to take it. How he came on behalf of his father, who was sick. He spoke of nothing but peace for the entire world. His voice was serene. He sounded like an angel, and he looked like one, too. It was hard to keep it out of her mind now.
"Excuse me, your highness?"
"Ah, you are Fynn's new mage-in-training, yes? I remember seeing you during the council."
"My teacher says the best way to learn is by experiencing, so he had me come in and see how the council is conducted. I… I just wanted to tell you…"
"Oh, don't be afraid to speak to me. If there is something you'd like to say, I'd love to hear it."
"…You were inspiring, Prince Mateus. I hope when you speak to your people, that you fill them with the kind of passion you've given me. I want to work for a better world even more after hearing your speech earlier."
"You are too kind, milady. My people have a hard time listening to me, as I do not have the same tone as that of His Grace, the Emperor."
"I am sure that will come with time. Most older people don't like listening to those of us who are still in-training. They think they know everything."
"…What was that, my child?"
"Come along now. We'd best not bother His Highness, as we have a lot of work to do. Don't we, little Cantirena?"
"Yes, we do. Your Highness, it was wonderful meeting you. I hope we'll meet again someday."
"I know we will, milady. I am quite sure we will meet again."
Cantirena made her way out of the inn, where she found two guards waiting for her to come out. She wondered why they were there. This seemed highly unusual.
"Princess!" one of them shouted. "Your presence is requested at the base of the Dreadnaught!"
She nodded. She knew this was coming. "Yes," she said quietly. "I was heading there. Thank you." As she walked through the town, she noticed that every one of the citizens were being rounded up by the guards, even though her plans were to alternate between two teams every twelve hours. Something was wrong with this picture.
At the base of the Dreadnaught, where the hull was open for everyone to enter, there stood the two men who helped her lead the project. She approached them, trying to get into that forceful personality that she'd been developing to act as the Dark Princess on behalf of the Emperor. Even though the Prince was so determined for world peace just months ago, now she helped him build the largest warship the world had ever seen.
"Ah! The Emissary of the Emperor himself," one of the guards said loudly. "Come, Princess, it is finished."
"That's wonderful news," Cantirena said. "When can she launch?"
"As soon as one last task is completed," the other guard said. "Princess, if you would please prepare for departure. We make for the Empire's Capital."
"I shall address the people first," Cantirena stated.
"No, milady, we have other orders," the guard said. "So, go inside. These orders come from the Emperor himself."
The first guard picked Cantirena off of her feet and carried her inside the ship. When she was inside, the guards closed the big hatch so she couldn't get out. Cantirena was utterly confused as to why they would do this. She was the Emissary of the Emperor, after all. She had more authority than any of these knights.
When listening closely, she could hear swords clashing outside. Cantirena couldn't imagine why there would be the sound of a battle out there, but her thoughts shifted to what could have been the worst possible scenario. There were no windows in the hull, so she couldn't see what was going on out there. She walked up the stairs to head up as far as she could go, coming out onto the deck of the ship. When she looked down, her fears were all well founded.
The Empire's Dark Knights were slaughtering all the people who worked on the airship, one by one. She screamed in horror, but a few of the guards on the ship pulled on her to keep her away from seeing it. People were screaming for mercy, and many of them fought back. The prisoners of war who were used like slaves were now being trashed like slaves now that they'd outlived their usefulness. Cantirena couldn't help by sob at the sight. She promised them she would give them the chance to escape to other places, that their children could live in peace. She told them if they worked, they would be set free.
Emperor Mateus, is this your vision for the world? She thought as the guards pulled her into the cockpit of the Dreadnaught. Are all people just… cogs in your war machine?
"Princess," one of the guards said. "The Emperor knew ahead of time that you would object to the disposal of the slaves, so to prevent you from being killed in the onslaught, he gave us the direct order to keep you safe and bring you to him directly."
"…so you received word from him while I was resting," Cantirena asked.
"This is exactly right," the guard said. "For him to issue an order like this, he must hold you in very high regard. Your title as princess is more than just a formality, unlike that of the General traitor from Fynn."
Cantirena shook her head, wiping the tears from her face. She needed to show no signs of sorrow if she was going to meet Mateus again, face-to-face. She felt the pressure of everything she'd done right at that moment. She remembered Borghen, and his invitation to leave. He knew what was coming, didn't he? He knew this was coming, and he even warned her of it, but she was too stupid to walk away from it before it happened.
"Dammit," she muttered to herself, "Looks like it rains inside, too."
"Princess, you may wish to rest before we enter the Capital," the guard said. "There are captain's quarters just down the hall from here."
"No. I will be the first to greet His Grace when we arrive," Cantirena answered sternly. "I will show him around his warship myself."
"As you wish," the guard said, pressing a button on the control panel.
The Dreadnaught rumbled loudly. It was time to launch.
Oh, Lord Minwu…