Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 3, 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.

Part 4

Firion ran ahead of Minwu and Clarisse once they came around the biggest part of the Semitt mountain range. The large lake was shimmering under the sun. From there, he could see the lake surrounded by more mountains, except for where the waterfall passed through and became the start of the river which wound its way around the continent. He smiled.

"I sure wish we could go for a swim," Firion said once the others had caught up to him. "The lake looks perfect."

"Did you forget what we're here for?" Clarisse asked him, frustrated. "Seriously, Firi…"

"I haven't forgotten anything," Firion said, watching them both pass him. "It's just that if we're forced to explore the world and take the scenic route every time, why not actually take a look at the world around us, you know?" He bent down to take a drink of the water. "We've been walking since we left Salamand. Take a few minutes to rest your feet, or you won't have the energy to keep going when you need it the most."

"That is a great way of looking at it," Minwu agreed quietly. "We will rest for a few minutes before pressing onward." He sat down next to Firion and started untying the straps on his sandals, which went all the way up his knees. "These are not made for gallivanting the countryside."

"Those sandals…" Clarisse said. "I've never seen anything like them."

Minwu nodded. "There's not a lot of Mysidian culture that leaves its borders. I'm not surprised to hear that you've never seen anything like a pair of Hermes Sandals before."

"Hermes Sandals?" Firion asked.

"They are made to amplify one's speed," Minwu explained as he pulled up his robes to stick his feet into the water. "But one's defensive capabilities and footing will suffer. As you can tell, they are not as durable as a pair of battle boots you would find in other communities, such as what Firion is wearing on his feet." He pointed to the straps on the sides. "They will break easily."

"That's because of the material they're made of," Firion said. "Look at that light leather. They'll snap if there's too much weight in them."

"But it is that leather which gives us mages the speed we need. If an enemy comes at us head on, we are not built to be able to take many blows. A few ax swings, and we will be in much worse shape than if someone in full plate armor would be in the same situation," Minwu said. His feet were swollen, and putting them in the water felt great. He needed to do this more often, but with all the traveling and the planning he'd been doing over the course of the adventure, he barely stopped to think of himself. "So instead of trying to hold up such armor with our feeble strength, we depend on our speed to dodge incoming blows."

"Are you saying you are not very strong?" Clarisse asked. "But Minwu, you've been so much more capable in battle than we have…"

"I know my assets and my faults," Minwu said, taking in a deep breath. "The key to victory in any situation is to know yourself. If you know what you're capable of doing, you can act quickly and without hesitation. I suggest you figure out your faults, too. You will also become much more capable in battle as you learn more about your body and your mind."

Clarisse nodded, looking up into the sky.

I can definitely see why Minwu was such a great teacher to you now, Canti… she thought. He knows so much, and he's always willing to explain everything. He is a perfect teacher. Now I'm kinda a little bit jealous that I didn't get to have the same lessons… I'm sure everything he's told me during this journey, he told you when you were still a child.

"You have that look in your eyes," Minwu said softly. "You're thinking about Cantirena."

"What? How do you know that?" she asked.

"Because the only person who ever makes you have that sort of expression is Cantirena," Minwu answered it very bluntly. "You see, Clarisse? Even I know you better than you do at times. You really must learn more about yourself so that someone doesn't take advantage of your emotional display."

She cocked her head to the side. "Are you talking about the Emperor?"

"I am indeed," he said. "Because he has a trump card that knows you… and knows me…"

"You're not saying that… that he would…" she couldn't even say it. "That… that she would…"

Canti, reveal our secrets? She thought angrily. There's no way, not in a million years, that the Emperor could ever get her to tell any of our secrets, Minwu! There's no way!

"There's no telling what the Empire has put her through. There's no telling what they could have made her say or do," Minwu said, pulling his feet out of the water. He was very solemn as he strapped his sandals back on. "I have absolutely no way of knowing if they are privy to anything about Fynn's history or anything related to Mysidia… I taught her much of the history of both nations. Dangerous secrets in the hands of the Empire."

"And you think… they might have…?" Clarisse started to hear up while just thinking about it. After taking a drink of the water from the lake, she stood up and said, "Let's keep going… because if we don't, I'm not going to be able to get back up."

Firion stood up next to her. "It doesn't matter what they've put her through, Minwu. We're going to save her and bring her home regardless of anything the Empire has done. Isn't that right? Isn't that why you're on this journey at all?"

"…it is," Minwu answered. Once his sandals were strapped on properly, he stood up, too. "All right. That cave is the mythril mine. We should go."

Together, the three of them made their way to the cave. Inside, there was a very cold wind. It seemed very strange, for there to be a wind coming from inside the cave. But that was all right. A minor detail. As they made their way through, monsters tried to stop them. They weren't anything beyond the group's collective abilities, but there sure was a lot of them.

Minwu didn't stay concentrated on the battles. He casted spells for barriers and healing as it was needed, but his body was on autopilot the entire time. The only thing he was thinking about was… a song…

"Cantirena… where are you, my child? Where have you run off to?"

"I'm… down here…"

"What are you doing under the table? You look absolutely terrified."

"I… I'm sorry, teacher… I fell asleep when it started raining and… now it's storming so bad I don't think I'll be able to make it back home…"

"That is no reason to be under the table. Are you afraid that I would punish you?"

"…no..."

"Then what exactly are you afraid of?"

"Sleeping…"

"Sleeping? But you were napping at your desk."

"I have a very hard time… going to sleep… I didn't even mean to fall asleep at my desk, but… I don't sleep very well at night and the rain was soothing…"

"Come here. I can imagine that you feel asleep while studying because you didn't sleep well the night before. Well, that is a thing of the past. I know of something that will help you."

"What do you mean?"

"When children in my home have a hard time sleeping, we sing them a special song to ease their mind and soothe their stress."

"Is it magic?"

"No. I think… here it is called a lullaby."

"Ohh, I know what that is. My mama sings one to me almost every night! But it doesn't always work. Sometimes after she's done, I lay there and try to force myself to sleep, but it never happens… and when It does… often, I wake up scared. I've woken up others, screaming in fear…"

"My child, I want you to listen to this and remember it. Whenever you have your sleeping problems at home, try to sing it yourself. Maybe this will help relieve you."

Minwu blinked, and before he knew it, they were standing right before a wooden door. Why was there a door in this cave? Firion was trying to beat it down with just pure strength, and he was getting further than anyone else at it. Clarisse then shoved him out of the way and picked the lock with one of her hairpins, and then proceeded to sit and make fun of Firion for being a good-for-nothing adopted brother, like she always did.

"Minwu?" Clarisse asked. "You're spacing out again."

"And this time, you were humming to yourself," Firion added.

"I... I did fight alongside you, yes?" Minwu asked.

"Yeah, you helped in battle like you always do, but you didn't say anything the entire time," Firion said. "Well whatever. We're all ready here. I haven't found a scrap of mythril or a single person in this cavern yet, so I bet they're right in here!"

As soon as they walked through the door, they were greeted by a very young girl with big blonde pigtails. She stood there like she'd been waiting for a very long time for that door to open. She was wearing the cutest pink dress and had big, clear bright blue eyes. She was the epitome of cute.

"Daddy!" she cried. "Oh wait. You're not Daddy."

Clarisse smiled at the little girl. "You must be Nelly."

"That's right," she replied. "Is my daddy with you?"

"No, but he is back in town," Clarisse said. "We'll take you home." She picked the girl up and put her on her shoulders. "How's that, huh?"

"Hey, Nelly," Firion said after looking around. "Where's everyone else? Weren't there a whole bunch of men taken with you?"

"A man in a big poofy hat came and took them away!" Nelly shouted. "He was a servant of that big horned meanie in the golden armor!"

Minwu looked at the girl. "A man with an ego bigger than his belt size, if I'm not mistaken."

"You're right! He had a long pimply nose and ugly facial hair. And his laugh was really, really scary!" Nelly added loudly.

"That… sounds an awful lot like Borghen," Firion thought aloud.

"So it does," Clarisse agreed sadly.

Minwu looked around the room before anyone was ready to go, finding a huge chunk of mythril ore off in one of the corners. He instantly opened the item pouch and shoved it in there. How he was more than ready to return with it so he could move on with his quest! He kept hearing the song he played for Cantirena that night over and over in his head, as if his mind was trying to soothe his inner self.

Nelly waved her arms. "Let's go home, let's go home!"

Minwu nodded. "Oh yes, let's get out of here. All of you, grab onto me." When Firion and Clarisse both had a hold of Minwu's shoulders, he lifted his staff and teleported them out of the cave, back onto the grassy plains outside of Semitt Falls.

"And from here, it's just a day's walk to Salamand again…" Firion said very happily. "I think you'll like being out in the sun again, Nelly."

"I all ready do!" Nelly clapped.

Minwu couldn't help but remember when Cantirena was that age, watching the little girl. He figured out that Clarisse was right in pointing out that he was humming the song to himself. He wasn't paying much attention to the conversation like he normally did.

His heart ached.

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