Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 2, part 8

"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 8

Minwu, Clarisse, Gordon, and Firion all arrived in Poft with no problems whatsoever. The sailing went along perfectly, better than Gordon expected. Even with his being seasick at first, he managed to hang in there and not throw up over the side once. He felt proud of himself, but now that they came to their destination and it was time to split up, Gordon started to shake again. He was put on the task of finding Cid and asking about airships. What was the prince going to do by himself? He'd never been alone away from home before!

Minwu was ready to hike up to Salamand and speak to Josef as quickly as possible. "All right, Prince Gordon. It's up to you to find out what you can. Find Cid. Give him our password. Everything then should fall into place," he said to the young prince very calmly. "I know you can do this."

"I… I have to admit, I am still nervous about it," Gordon said, looking at the ground.

"We are on a mission on the behalf of the Princess," Clarisse reminded him. "We can't take any time to look into other things right now." She pat the young prince on his shoulder. "Wait here in Poft. We will be back through on our way home. I don't know how long it will take, so…" She reached into her pocket and gave him her coin purse. "One turn of generosity deserves another, your highness."

"But you will need funds in Salamand, will you not?" Gordon asked, feeling very put upon.

"I have plenty of gil that was given to me by the Princess," Minwu answered.

Clarisse just smiled at Gordon. "Just don't lose that pouch. Spend all the money you want, sure, but just don't lose the purse itself… it was my mother's."

"I will be sure to return it to you!" Gordon said, putting it inside his own pocket. "Thank you for trusting me with such a momentous task, Minwu. I… I hope it will help me gain the courage I need."

Firion waved to Gordon. The group was leaving the port town, which was even smaller than Paloom. Those three walked out of the town's borders, leaving the prince to take care of his own task.

"It's hard to believe anyone would trust me with anything," Gordon thought aloud. He looked around the tiny port, trying to pull himself together. "Well… the first thing they say about pubs is that they're a prime source of information… if there's any place to start… that must be it…"

Outside the town, Firion found himself face to face with an armored goblin. This one was not like the ones that were wandering outside Altair. It was significantly stronger, and smarter. He ran at it with his sword, while Clarisse backed him up with her own much thinner blade. It took more effort to kill than those other goblins he had fought before. It took at least four hits, and both of them had wounds before it finally died.

"That… that one…" Firion said, trying to catch his breath. "Minwu?"

Minwu used his magic to heal their wounds. "It looks as if the monsters are getting stronger," he said, closing his eyes. "Their dark powers… they come from a deeper source than the monsters we faced around Altair and Galtea."

"…A deeper darkness?" Clarisse asked, trying to picture where this kind of darkness would even come from. "Damn that Emperor! Not only does he take away my hometown and steal my sister, but he sets monsters on the places he doesn't attack!?" She found it hard to hold back her rage, and when a monster came up behind her, she was able to kill it in one fell swoop. "Critical hit, bitch."

"You're a scary one when you're upset…" Firion said. "It takes a special kind of man to contain such primal rage like yours. Face it, Claire, you aren't ever getting married acting manly like that."

"Manly?" Clarisse asked, knocking him upside the head. "Why I ought to beat the hell out of you…"

"I understand that you're frustrated," Minwu said quietly, "But may I suggest you don't hurt members of our own party while we're on a mission?"

Clarisse blushed for a moment before nodding apologetically towards the wise mage. "Sorry," she said. "I just don't know what to do with all my rage…"

"I have an idea, if you'd be willing to try it out," Minwu said, reaching into his pouch. "I brought this with me just in case we needed it, and I think you might be able to get some use out of it."

"But… but I don't know anything about scrolls, or… or magic," she said. "That's what… my sister was good at and… I'm not sure if I…"

Minwu shook his head. "I will teach you how to wield it, if you are willing to learn," he said gently. "Take the scroll in your hands. Read it until you understand what it means. Magic comes from within your own spirit, and what kind of magic comes out of you is based on how you manipulate the powers inside your own body. This is why magic can be both good and evil."

"…and why you became Canti's teacher?"

"I had never seen a child with such magic potential, but besides that, I needed to keep that kind of magical potential from falling into the hands of evil," Minwu said carefully. "By guiding her heart down a path of righteousness, I might have saved a few lives down the road, which is my duty as a white mage. I live to protect and heal those who cannot stand up for themselves. It is better to prevent wounds than to have to heal them." He sighed, looking up at the sky. The winds were blowing much colder than next to the sea.

"Hey, look!" Firion said, pointing ahead. "It's snow!"

"Ew," Clarisse muttered, just looking at it. "Snow..."

"Oh, what do you know, you've never been in it," Firion said with a smile. "We can build snowmen or have snowball fights, or even-"

Minwu shrugged. "The last time you saw snow, you were but a child. How it shows."

"Well excuse me, Minwu," Firion said. "I just wanted to brighten the mood, is all."

Clarisse wished she wore higher boots than just ankle-highs as she started trudging through the light snow. Up ahead there was a large mountain range which went along the land as far as her eyes could see. Nestled right at the foot of those mountains was a town surrounded by a wall. A small stream of smoke came from the center, showing that people were still there, burning a fire.

"There it is," Minwu said, "The miner's town, Salamand."

"Salamand," Firion repeated the name of the town. "The place where I was born… I barely remember the town, but I remember the mountains and the snow. And…" As he trailed off, his expression turned sad. "…and I remember Mom and Dad, too."

Minwu placed a hand on Firion's shoulder. "Come, we've a mission to complete. Let us make haste."

At that exact point in time, the Emperor himself was relaxed in his bed, sitting below the glowing jewel which his family possessed ever since it was established. Beside him was Cantirena, who was still sleeping quite deeply after what happened just the night before. When he made the point to look down at her, he noticed that something was different. In the center of her forehead, she now bore the same kind of jewel he did in the center of his own.

"You have been accepted," he whispered to her, putting his hand on the jewel on her forehead. "The Demon King likes you quite a bit. You have made a wonderful offering." He bent down to kiss her cheek.

When I first laid eyes on you… I knew this is where you belonged. Mateus thought triumphantly. At my side, serving me. Minwu might have fooled himself into believing he could hide you forever from the forces of darkness. When I was a child, I could hear the whispers of the Demon King from the Stone of Iluia. He was there, in my mind, the day we first met. The Demon King Iluia told me you were going to come to my side after I ascended the throne of Palamecia. Of course, now… the voices have another task to ask of me, concerning you.

Cantirena moaned a little, her eyes opening very slowly. "Your Grace?" she asked, looking up at him. "Were you… watching me sleep?"

"I was," Mateus answered. "I was wondering what you were dreaming about."

"If I did dream, I don't remember what it was about," she said, closing her eyes again. "My whole body… feels heavy."

"That is natural," Mateus answered. "After joining with the dark magic, I was not able to function for a few days. I suspect you will have a longer recovery period, as you are not as used to darkness as I am." He bent down to look her straight in the eyes. "You have done well, my princess. Please, rest until you feel strong yet again. We don't have any plans for moving the troops any further than they are as of now."

"Your Grace," she whispered, reaching up to cradle his cheek in her hand. "I don't feel the same as I did when I arrived here."

"Of course not," he said, kissing the jewel on her forehead. "You have new magic power swimming inside your body, fusing to that of your own. While you feel heavy now, when the fusion is complete, you will be much stronger. And, not only that, but you have accepted the right to have a coronation into Palamecian Royalty. You are fit to be my bride, as you wished to be."

"…what?" Cantirena asked, noticing that Mateus was kissing a part of her that didn't used to be there before. "What is that?"

"The Mark of Ascension!" Mateus proclaimed loudly. "The same as my own!"

"Your Grace… how did that get there?" she asked again.

"Why, the Demon King Iluia bestowed it upon you, as he did to me," he said gently. He was starting to climb on top of her again, caressing every inch of her skin, kissing her in all the right places. He couldn't help himself. The Demon King's voice in his mind told him to make love to her yet again. "Just as he will give it to the heirs you will give me."

"I can't even move, Your Grace…"

"You don't have to," Mateus answered her. "I will do all the moving for the both of us."

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