Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 3, part 5

"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 5

The Dreadnaught Warship was ready to go. Cantirena and Mateus were both standing on the deck, dressed from head to toe in Palamecian Royal Attire. The both looked very much like they were going on a honeymoon, at least, that's what Candice thought of it as she watched from where she and Paul were hiding.

"Your Grace," a guard called out. "We're ready to launch!"

"Excellent," the Emperor said. "Come, my dear. Let us get a better view from the cockpit, shall we?" He took her arm, and she didn't say anything to him. She just went along with him. "We shall survey the land that belongs to the two of us alone."

"Was there a wedding?" Candice asked in a hushed whisper. "They look like they just got married."

Paul didn't know. He wasn't there. But he was determined to find out!

When the coast was clear, he snuck through one of the doors. Candice was right on his tail. They skipped from one hiding place to the next, trailing after the Emperor and his lady, until they came to the cockpit. The ship was indeed huge. They hadn't arrived there until after the ship was all ready in the air. It must have been a forty minute walk up through the floors until reaching the room where all the controls were. Paul smiled at that. When they left, maybe he could figure out a way to bust this thing up before it made any town a target.

"Riding on the warship my beloved built just for me," Mateus said. "It is a source of pride."

"Thank you, Your Grace," Cantirena said, looking at him. "Making you happy is why I'm alive."

He nodded gently, pulling her closer. "I'm glad you understand," he whispered in her ear. "Now, tell me. Where would you like to go? Anywhere in the world! Pick a place and I will take you there!" He pulled some of the bangs from her face so he could see her eyes better. "Our luxury ship can take us anywhere. So pick a place."

Cantirena frowned. "Oh, Your Grace, I couldn't make a decision like that… what if I pick a place you don't like? Then you'll be cross with me."

"That's impossible," Mateus said. "I hate every place equally. That is why I ask you to make the decision. Clearly, there must be one place you wish to revisit."

Cantirena thought about it. Her head ached, and it showed. She flinched a few times trying to think about places she'd been to make a decision, and it wasn't happening. "To be clear, Your Grace… I don't remember any place other than Palamecia."

Paul was confused. How the hellhe thought angrily. You were raised in Fynn!

Mateus grinned at hearing that. "You remember nothing else?"

"What else is there to remember?" Cantirena asked. "There is you and your glorious Empire. That is all I need."

Paul had a very hard time keeping his anger in check. Evil magic…! She's under some sort of spell?! Your teacher is Minwu! Your sister is Clarisse and… and… god damn it all to hell, you are not supposed to be married to that tyrannical mass murderer!

Candice pulled on his belt to keep him from jumping out there and blowing their cover.

If Minwu wasn't pissed before, this will definitely do it, Paul thought. We need to get back to Altair… we need to get you back, Canti… Minwu's going to be the only person who can save you...

Mateus looked about the cockpit. All he could see was his own Dark Knights and the lady who held his arm, but something felt different. It was like he could sense strangers in his presence. "I do not appreciate those who lurk in the shadows around me," he said very loudly. "Come out."

Paul pushed Candice back and stepped out where all could see him. "I'm right here," he said, announcing his presence.

"A stowaway, on my warship?" Mateus asked. "You must be quite talented."

"Well, I am the best thief in the world," Paul said, grinning. "Cracking your security was as easy as avoiding the gaze of your dark knights and sneaking in the shadows."

"You sound so proud of yourself," Mateus said. "Well. I suppose if you're good enough to sneak on board my ship, I'll have to accommodate you and your friend."

"Friend?" Paul asked. "I'm sorry, I work alone. I don't have any friends with me."

"There is someone behind you. Come out of the shadows. I will not harm you," Mateus said.

Candice came out and stood next to Paul. There, she saw the man she hated face to face for the second time. "Damn you," she muttered.

"Well, well, well," Mateus said, clapping his hands. "If there was one young lady I never thought I'd see again, it would be you." He looked at Cantirena. "This lovely lady is one of my slaves who worked tirelessly to feed the men who now work aboard this ship. I claimed her from the wreckage of an airship which crashed in my territory, you see-"

"And then you stole the technology my father invented to create this massive warship!" Candice screamed. "If anything else, this ship should belong to my father."

"Such an attitude," Mateus said. "I'm not raising my voice at you, now am I?"

"I have every right to-"

Paul slapped his hand over her mouth to make her shut up. "Forgive the lady. She's been stewing in her hate for quite a long time." He then said, "Look, I know you're going to kill us. So I want to ask you one simple question."

"I am not going to kill you," Mateus said.

"I have no proof of that," Paul said. "So grant me my one question."

"Fair enough. Ask your question."

Paul looked directly at Cantirena. "My lady, is your name Cantirena? Are you, or are you not, royal mage Minwu's student?"

Mateus glared at Paul. "You wanted to ask me a question, not my lady. I did not grant you a question to my beloved," he said angrily. "Take these two to a private room. Get them out of my sight!"

"At least grant me that answer before you cart me to my death!" Paul screamed as three armored knights came to grab him all at once. "Cantirena, please, if you know who you really are and you remember anything about your youth in Fynn, you have to get out of here! Minwu is on a quest looking for you! He's… he's abandoned his role as the primary caretaker of the Princess for you…"

Cantirena's head hurt much worse than it had when she was taking a bath or when she was trying to remember places she'd been. Hearing that name made everything hurt. She leaned against Mateus, as she had a hard time standing. Her eyes watered, and she wasn't even sure why.

"You have upset my lady," Mateus said. His rage was apparent now. "Get them both out of my sight!" Then he put a hand on Cantirena's head. "Everything will be fine. He will not hurt you again with his nasty words."

"It… all hurts," she said, whimpering. "Hearing those words… make me hurt."

"A terrible spell, he was casting on you. He wanted to make you betray me," Mateus said sadly. "There are many kinds of people in this world, dear, and they are all there to tempt you into drawing you away from me. They want you and your powers all to themselves." He smiled slightly. "But we're not going to let them take your powers for their dark purposes, now are we?"

"No, Your Grace," Cantirena said. "My powers are here to serve you."

"Excellent. That's what I wanted to hear," Mateus said. "So. Have we decided on a place to visit yet?"

Cantirena pondered it for a moment before she said, "Your Grace, why don't we fly around and take a look at every place? If we see a place we like, we'll visit. If we don't, then there's no love lost."

"Fine. We'll set course for the closest town, which I believe is… hmmm… we'll make for Altair, how does that sound?"

"I've never been there," Cantirena said, "Sounds like an adventure."

"Perfect."

Meanwhile, Paul and Candice were being dragged along the mythril floors, headed towards the bottom of the ship. Candice wanted to scream at him and tell him that she told him so, but she was certain it would cause more trouble with the guards than needed. They were brought to the very bowels of the ship itself and both placed in a cell together. After they were locked in, Candice sat on the floor in the corner furthest from where Paul was.

"I'm sorry I dragged you back into the Empire's grasp," Paul said quietly.

"Well, if nothing else, now I'm not being forced to grow their damn food," Candice said, rolling her eyes. "So I suppose this is slightly better."

"So… you've met the Emperor before, then," Paul said, sitting down where he was.

"I'll never forget his laugh… the day I told him he couldn't have the ruins of the Hilda Guard. It was one of those 'I own you and everything else' kind of laughs. My words meant so little to him that the fact I spoke to him was funny," Candice said.

"That means… you're Cid's daughter," Paul finally put two and two together. "That's why you know how to fly an airship.

She pounded her fist on the wall. "I hate the Emperor. I hate him and all of his stupid knights and I hate his fucking warship and I hate that dumb broad who hung off of him like his own personal whore!"

"Don't hate her," Paul whispered. "There's no way in hell she's doing this willingly."

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