Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 2, part 10

"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 10

Laying there on the Emperor's bed, Cantirena pretended she was asleep. Every time the Emperor saw she was awake, he managed to seduce her into not resisting him, and she wasn't even sure how much time had passed since she came to Palamecia anymore. They were so deep inside the castle, there wasn't any natural way of telling if the sun had come up or gone down again. There was no way of knowing, and she was all ready bad at keeping track of schedules even when she knew what time of day it was. Mateus did not leave her side, which seemed strange to her. Didn't he have ruling duties to attend to? Didn't the people need his guidance? She didn't want to look at him now. Her body had enough. She needed to rest, like he kept telling her, but as much as he had taken her, she wondered about that. It was more than strange.

Every now and then, she would hear him grunt in pain. Even if Cantirena asked what it was from, she was quite sure that he would not tell her why he sounded this way. She all ready knew. There was no way he would divulge that kind of answer.

Even so, lost in all that time, she had plenty of time to think. Over everything she'd done in her life from growing up alongside her sister, under the careful watch of the royal mage Minwu, and the day that changed her life forever. She had plenty of time to wonder about making different choices along the way. If she would have taken Borghen's offer to run away from the Empire and all it was doing.

But she stayed.

She made the conscious decision on her own, without any outside force at all, to stay with it. Knowing what Borghen said was right, knowing that she was just another cog in Mateus' war machine, and knowing that she would be told to kill yet again in the name of the Palamecian Empire.

Why?

Well that's a stupid question to ask myself, Cantirena thought. Considering everything Mateus has told me has been spot on. I was planning on leaving Fynn, under the guise of wanting to study the world's magic, to search for this place. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be with Mateus from the moment I laid eyes on him.

"You aren't asleep," Mateus said, tapping her shoulder. "I know you aren't asleep."

"Your Grace," Cantirena replied quietly. "What are you talking about? You've told me to rest, so I was resting." She felt stronger than she did yesterday, finally able to sit up without any aid. "Besides, with all the activity you've given me, it's a miracle that I'm even coherent at all."

"And here I thought that would make you happy." Mateus said. He leaned down to put his chin right on her shoulder. "I want you to answer me truthfully, right now. No hesitation."

"Ask me anything, Your Grace," she whispered. "I have no secrets to hide from you."

"Hmm, we shall see," Mateus almost laughed. "Will you go to war for me?"

"Absolutely."

"Will you kill the enemies of the Crown of Palamecia?"

"Without fail."

"Will you kill even your beloved traitor teacher, Minwu?"

"Your Grace…" That question hit her like a sack of bricks. "…is there no way I could convince him to join your ranks and serve you? Minwu is a talented man, full of wonderful power-"

"But he is an enemy to the crown," Mateus said sternly. "And you will kill the enemies of the crown, will you not? You question me, your Emperor and the man you love?"

Cantirena shook her head. "I do not question you. All that I've done up to this point is to prove that I do love you. If I didn't, I wouldn't have had that Dreadnaught built for you, and I certainly wouldn't have killed the people from the town of my birth. I do not question you, Your Grace. I adore you. I worship you. But I must plead on the behalf of Minwu. I would plead for no other man in this world. Anyone else, I would snap like twigs beneath a stallion's hooves, my love, I swear it." Tears formed in her eyes. "Your Grace, have mercy."

Do not ask me to kill Minwu… please do not ask me to kill my teacher… I could not bear that…

Mateus sat upright. "Your love is deeply rooted and hard to kill. When you have love for something, it's like a part of your very being. That is one reason why I've come to like you as much as I have. I know that when you say you love something, you mean It," he said, putting his hand on her chest, right over her heart. "Knowing that I am in here is knowing that you are undyingly loyal. There is only one problem with that…" He put his other hand other her chin and made her look at him. "…and that is the fact that you love more than just me. I'm a particularly jealous person, and knowing you love someone else. That you can be loyal to someone else."

"Your Grace…"

"I do not want to keep you as a prisoner as you have so much potential to lead the common folk," Mateus said, staring into her eyes. "They like you, they'll bond with you…"

"…and they'll die with me," Cantirena added sadly.

"You are upset about what happened at Bafsk," Mateus said.

"Yes, Your Grace, I am," she said. "Because I promised them-"

"You lied to them, and they knew that you lied to them. They knew not to trust you. You were working for an enemy force. The people were not duped by your soft words," Mateus said, his words charged with some sort of hatred that scared her. "Any one with half a brain would know not to trust you, as you are a traitor to the land of your birth and those who have raised you. You made the decision, my love, to become the enemy of all that you knew because you love me. So, having this fact fresh in your memory, can you honestly tell me that you love someone who will never trust you again? Can you love a man that will probably raise his weapon and his magic against you the next time you meet?!"

Cantirena froze. How was she even supposed to respond to that?!

"You love me, my little Cantirena. You serve me, my little princess," Mateus said. "You made that decision yourself. You brought this whole world upon yourself, my dear. You cannot tell me that you are unhappy, finally getting exactly what you started?"

"Your Grace," Cantirena cried. "You… are right. You're always right."

Her heart sank lower and lower.

"You are never wrong, my Emperor, because you are my beloved and my master," she said, closing her eyes. "And I will die to prove my loyalty to you, if I must."

"You don't need to die to prove anything," Mateus said gently. "You must only do what I tell you, without question, without hesitation."

"If that is your will, then so be it," Cantirena answered, feeling his hands start to caress her skin yet again. "I will be your most obedient servant."

"Then the moment your eyes lock onto that of Minwu… you are to take his life, and bring his head back to me," he whispered in her ear. "I will be the only one in your heart, now and forever."

When Cantirena opened her eyes again, she found Mateus close enough to kiss her. "You are my one and only love," she said, feeling her soul ache with every word. "I can have none other than that of my Emperor. Who else would I love, other than you?"

"No one," Mateus answered. "You will love no one but me."

They kissed, and that kissing turned into more. Who knows how much time passed? Who even cared? As Cantirena let Mateus possess her for the umpteenth time, she felt herself fall deeper and deeper into the darkness that he was filled with. She had what she wanted, she just had to accept how it came along.

END CHAPTER TWO

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