Ch 3, part 6
"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.
Taking Nelly home was the most rewarding thing Firion and Clarisse had done since they set out on their journey. Finding the mythril boosted their confidence, but ultimately, seeing that little girl run into her father's arms after being apart for so long was so satisfying, it made them feel like saving the world was a great thing to do. They ended up spending an hour or two with the happy family, but Minwu knew it was not wise to wait too long. Instead, they headed to Poft again on foot. What they found was a town which was mostly empty, save for the man who ran the airship, Cid, and his first mate.
"I don't know what you're doing here," Cid said immediately after seeing the three adventurers come into the pub looking more than confused. "But you might want to leave."
"Leave? Where did everybody go?" Clarisse asked.
Cid answered with a question. "You haven't heard? The Emperor's got himself a new warship, and now… it's going on a world tour, shall we say." He knocked off the ashes from the end of his cigarette, closing his eyes. "I suppose you three would like a ride back to Altair. There aren't any ships coming near the mainland now."
"Well it would be faster than walking though the mountains," Firion said. "Sure, we'll take your offer."
"Fancy that," Cid said. "All right, five hundred gil each of you." He stood up straight and pulled on his vest. "But I should warn you. Altair was hit first. The ship flew over the town, and a rain of dark lightning or something fell from over the side of the ship. It was unlike anything ever seen before. I'm not a magically inclined man. I know about black and white magic, but this was something completely different. Something… well, it wasn't natural. This magic was evil." He looked directly at Minwu. "What say you, mage? Have you ever heard of anything like that before?"
Minwu took in a deep breath. "Evil magic," he repeated after Cid's suggestion, thinking it all over very slowly. He must have stood there for five minutes before saying anything else. "This reminds me of a textbook I once read back in Mysidia, but I have not read it since I was a child. I would have to research this before drawing any sort of conclusion. I have heard of magic with a purely evil source, but I do not know much about it."
"Does this mean you… saw it happen?" Clarisse sounded very scared as she asked her question.
"Yeah, I did," Cid said, crossing his arms. "I saw it myself. A bolt of it hit my ship and took most of my crew out in a single blast. I'm lucky the girl can still fly."
"Wait a minute," Firion said, "We left Gordon here in Poft!"
"Oh shit, you're right," Clarisse said, face-palming at the fact that they'd not even thought about looking for him. "Oh my Cosmos… where could he have gone? We needed him to talk to…"
"You needed him to talk to me, right?" Cid asked. "You're talking about a small-ish sort of young man with long whispy blonde hair, I believe. Prince of Kashuon, yes?"
"That's right," Minwu said quietly. "I assume he found you."
"He did, and he had me carry him back home once I told him what he wanted to know," Cid said. "So did you still want to go to Altair?"
"Maybe the fact that the attack was going on made him feel unsafe. The Prince is not one to stay in a place where he feels threatened," Minwu thought aloud. "All right, let's go back to Fynn and report to Princess Hilda about what we know. She'll be glad we have the mythril."
Cid did as he was requested, but he didn't look anywhere near as confident as he did when he flew with Gordon before. His eyes were always scanning the clouds, even though he knew that if he ran into the Dreadnaught again, it would surely be his last time. The trip to Altair was very quick and simple. He landed right outside the wall of town, damn near kicked them off of the deck, and then flew off as quickly as he had arrived.
"That man," Minwu said, very quietly. "His spirit is broken."
When they came into town, suddenly, everyone else's felt just as broken. Buildings had huge holes blown out of them, everything from bricks to shingles lay scattered about the brick roads which covered all of Altair's pathways. Some of the grass was still on fire, while other patches were nothing but ashes. The worst part, however, was the fact that bodies were everywhere, broken up into several pieces. Blood splatters covered not just the ground, but some of the walls, too. It was the worst display for abject hatred of human life that any of them had ever seen. Even Fynn didn't look this bad after the first attack.
Minwu couldn't hold his worry in any more. He darted for the rebel base, where there were small groups huddled inside, still scared out of their minds.
"Lord Minwu!" a little boy cried. "Lord Minwu, you've returned!"
"I have," he said, nodding. "Where is the Princess?"
"Princess Hilda is with her father," another villager said. "You must help us, Lord Minwu! Everyone… everyone is dead! Everyone that was outside when the Dreadnaught attacked is dead!"
Minwu sighed sadly. They were not going to want to hear the truth of it. White magic could only heal so many wounds, and he could not reverse that of true death with is power. He believed that since it was every human's destiny to someday die, that it was wrong to intervene in what happens between another body and that of the Goddess herself. Bringing back the dead was never the right answer, and it always had complications this world should never have to see. "I will speak with the Princess," he said calmly, walking past them all.
Firion and Clarisse followed Minwu deeper into the rebel base, where they found King Gilbert in bed, and Hilda sitting next to him, crying her eyes out. When Hilda looked up to see them, she wasn't sure if she was supposed to scream at them in anger or cry harder.
"Your Highness," Minwu said, bowing before her. "We have the mythril."
"One day too late," Hilda said hopelessly through her tears. "Minwu, I… I have no idea what to do anymore…"
Firion said, "I've got an idea, if you're willing to hear it."
"I am willing to hear any plan, as long as it doesn't suggest giving up and surrendering," Hilda answered, looking over at the youth who seemed to have grown a lot since the last time she saw him. "Tell me of your plan, young Firion."
"There's no way to challenge that thing while it's in the air," Firion started. He was trying to sort out all the thoughts he had in his head. There was so much to try to put into words which sounded like an actual plan. "So, umm, why don't we wait until it lands then sneak aboard and then go in to cause a ruckus?"
"That sounds all right," Hilda said. "How would you do it?"
Firion tried to think even harder. "We're not Imperials, so sneaking aboard would probably be harder than it sounds. Maybe if we go to the place where it was built… we can learn something about the interior, find a map or a blueprint to give us a better idea as to how to enter it. The people might know, they probably had to work on the damn thing."
Minwu then spoke up. "I remember hearing that airship engines have something to do with Sunfire, though I am not a mechanic, I'm not sure exactly how this is," he said quietly. "Princess, have you seen Prince Gordon? We were told he headed home after gathering the information he needed."
"No," Hilda said. "Gordon hasn't been in town since you were last here."
"Holy shit," Clarisse breathed out. "…Pardon my language, Princess. Maybe Cid meant that Gordon went back to his home, not this one! The Sunfire is kept in Kashuon Keep. I bet he went to go get it!"
Hilda shook her head. "Kashuon Keep isn't much more than a pile of ruins now, most likely full of all sorts of monsters with no one there to keep them out… Damn it, Gordon… I don't have a single man to spare right now. There's no way I could go look for him myself, either. I don't have any combat experience… oh Minwu, what are we doing to do?!"
Minwu tried to keep his calm, though it was very hard. "My suggestion is that after we upgrade our weapons with Master Tobul, we split up into two teams. One group looks for Gordon at Kashuon. The other will go to the town where the airship was constructed, that being Bafsk, and search the town for clues about how to defeat the Dreadnaught from inside."
King Gilbert was having a very hard time breathing. He watched the group talk amongst themselves about this war without even mentioning him once, and he was very annoyed with it. "Minwu…" he called out, his volume barely even audible. "Minwu, you… do not know the secret of Kashuon…"
"Your Majesty, please, lie down and rest," Minwu said, walking closer to the king. He used his magic to try to soothe Gilbert's wounds, but to no avail. The man was injured more emotionally than physically, and that made it very hard to heal him with magic. The spirit of one could not heal the broken spirit of another.
"Kashuon Keep… is locked to… outsiders," the King whispered. "The only way inside… for someone who is not of the bloodline… is to… find the Goddess Bell."
"What's the Goddess Bell?" Firion asked.
"It is a key to Kashuon Keep… that was created a thousand years ago… to prevent anyone other than an heir of Kashuon from entering and possibly cheating at the trial… for Egil's Torch," Gilbert explained. He coughed loudly. "If… Gordon is inside all ready… he is trapped until he completes the trial… you will not be able to aid him without... without that bell."
"Where is it?" Clarisse asked. "I will go get that bell! I won't stand to have another friend die at the hands of the Empire!"
"The Goddess Bell is kept within the snowfields," Hilda said. "I heard stories from Scott about it. Apparently, no other bell can make that sound. If you're going up north, be sure to speak to Josef about it. He knows more about the icy north than anyone."
"Then it's settled," Minwu said. "Firion, Clarisse, I want you to head to Salamand again and speak to Josef about the Goddess Bell. I will go to Bafsk and look for clues about how to defeat the Dreadnaught. We will meet up to look for Gordon together in a central location... perhaps Poft would be best."
"Yes," Clarisse agreed with the plan. "But first, my sword needs tempering with Master Tobul."