Ch 3, part 7
"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.
Minwu wasted no time at all getting ready to leave Altair once again on his own. It had been a very long time since he had any time to think by himself, but it didn't bother him. He was more than used to being alone. He ended up giving the item pouch to Firion and Clarisse, as he felt they would need to carry more than he did. Crossing the water to Paloom took minimal effort for the mage. He walked along the shore of the lake around it instead of crossing it, even if it took extra time. The wind was on his side. It felt great to walk and see the land. A few monsters popped up here and there, but it was nothing he couldn't handle on his own.
By time he reached Paloom, he found it in the same state as Altair. Anyone who was outside during the attack the Dreadnaught made was now turned into splattered bloody mess on the stone pathways.
"My Goddess," he said, thinking a line of cursings that he dared not mutter aloud. "What will make them stop?"
"Minwu?" a voice called from a nearby building. "Is that you?"
"Cid?" Minwu asked, going closer to the building. "What are you doing in Paloom?"
"I could ask the same of you. Shouldn't you be looking after the Princess?" Cid asked him in return. "But as for why I'm here in Paloom, well, my first mate's wife was having a baby and there was no way in hell I would ever let him miss out on that. I went inside, 'cause I got kinda nostalgic, and I was startin' to tear up. I didn't want to embarrass the man while he was takin' care of his family matters. But before anyone knew what happened…" Cid looked down at the ground. "When they were out showing the whole town the newborn baby girl…" he wiped his eyes. "Fuck that Emperor… they were just startin' their lives, y'know? That baby didn't deserve to die only hours after she'd been born!" He was so angry he punched the wooden doorway he was standing in and it broke under his strength.
"It wouldn't be the first daughter he's stolen," Minwu replied softly, putting his hand on Cid's shoulder. "I need a ride to Bafsk. I can pay you 2000 gil. Are you up to it?"
"For 2000 gil, I will take you on a trip to the moon and back," Cid answered, putting his goggles on. "I've never gotten that much on any fare."
"I thought you'd find that inviting," Minwu said, putting his coin purse into Cid's hand. "I have no use for it. If it can help you out, as you've been helping others, then it is better in your hands."
"Well, then. When I take ya there, you want me to wait for ya, then?" Cid asked. "I'll do it."
"If you can, I would appreciate that very much," Minwu said as Cid led him to where his airship was docked.
The flight only took about twenty minutes, and Cid was wearier than he ever had been. Two attacks by the Dreadnaught he was there personally to witness. Was he being stalked by that flying mountain? That could not have been any mere coincidence.
"Be careful," Cid called as he waved to Minwu. "I will keep my eyes on the sky. If I see anything, I'll give you a signal. This here baby's got a loud horn on it. You hear it, you come runnin', all right?"
"Thank you kindly," Minwu said. "I will return shortly."
The large mountains only made the village of Bafsk look even smaller than it was. Minwu left Cid's airship, taking with him his trusty jewel-tipped staff. Entering the town walls, the entire place smelled incredibly putrid. It didn't take him long to discover just why. The buildings were all erect, but the grass was stained red. A few yards away from the center of town was a pile of bodies – men, women, and children – all stacked on top of one another, like a monument to death. Swords, spears, axes, and arrows stuck out of all parts of the pile. This didn't happen recently. The smell was too strong.
Could this be… where all of the men from Salamand were brought? Minwu thought in horror. Did Borghen bring them here…?!
Minwu couldn't stand the stench for much longer. He went into nearby buildings, finding all of them empty. The pub had mugs of flat beer still sitting on the table. Some beds weren't made, meaning that this may have happened at night or first thing in the morning. Rotten meals sat on tables, attracting all sorts of bugs.
Even though he felt sick from being there for so long, he checked the building he hadn't been in yet, which was the village in. Every room, empty, except one, which still faintly smelled of whisky and candle wax. It struck Minwu was very odd. Coming up to the table, he found a notebook, a quill, an ink pot, and a bottle of Deist Whisky.
Borghen's favorite alcohol, Minwu thought angrily. Why does this not surprise me in the least?
Without a second thought, he picked up the book and started flipping through the pages. What he found hit him like a ton of bricks.
Dear Mother and Father:
"Oh… no…" Minwu knew that handwriting better than any other. He had a hard time reading the rest of the letter, as his eyes burned with tears. "You were here… if only I had thought to come here sooner…"
Minwu flipped through the rest of the pages once he read the entire letter, and somewhere near the back was a crude drawing of the Dreadnaught. The identification markings weren't in Cantirena's handwriting. It looked more like Borghen's, once he thought about it. He'd seen Borghen's handwriting on documents before, though not as often as Hilda's, Cid's, or even King Gilbert's. He had no other conclusions to draw upon. Both Borghen and Cantirena had been in this very room, though he couldn't tell what they were doing or what were the circumstances of the situation.
The bed was a total mess, but a few dark blue curly hairs lying near the pillow at the head of the bed gave it away. Cantirena had slept in here. It was impossible to tell for how long, but this was her room for at least one night. She had time to write a letter, and she was on that bed in the room.
After seeing that, he concluded the visit was well worth it. He picked up the book and quill, placing it inside a pocket which was on the inside of his robe. Then he looked around for something, anything else.
On the floor lay a piece of paper with a ribbon on it. He picked it up, opening it.
On behalf of the Emperor of Palamecia, the bearer of this seal is cleared of all suspicion and is allowed any and all access to Palamecian territory.
"This…" Minwu said, placing it in his pocket. "This is exactly what we needed. If the Dreadnaught Warship was built here, I'll bet my entire magic scroll collection that Cantirena is on the Dreadnaught right now!"
Just a little longer, my student. Just a little longer, and you will be home. Please… please be patient with your teacher… Forgive me for not finding you sooner…
At that exact moment, Cantirena was indeed on the Dreadnaught. She had been enjoying her ride thus far, standing with Emperor Mateus on the deck of the ship, feeling the wind blow her hair and her gown along with it.
Mateus had also been enjoying the trip. Cantirena, when given the order, was able to produce a black lightning spell unlike any he'd ever seen before. It was quite unusual, even for a man who'd been trying to grasp the spells of darkness since he accepted the pact with the Demon King Iluia. After casting the spells, however, it seems like she went back to being her smiley, happy self. It seemed as if Cantirena didn't even remember the maniacal laughter or the spells she cast on the towns they flew over, killing hundreds of innocents on the ground from above. She had become a magical weapon at his command due to the influence of the dark powers of the stone she slept under for so long, and this was most pleasing. Finally, a woman worth keeping around!
"You worked so hard to build it, and now you're riding on it," Mateus said, pulling her closer. "You must feel proud of yourself for all you've accomplished."
"Accomplished, Your Grace?" Cantirena asked, watching the propellers spin around and around and around. "I could not take all the glory for something this magnificent. In fact, I couldn't take any of it. I mean, the ship does belong to you. Wouldn't it be your glory?"
"And modest, too," Mateus said, slowly wrapping his arms around her belly from behind. "Unfortunately, it can only last so long. You see, we have a very big problem which might actually be able to stop us from completing our goals of conquering the world."
"Oh dear," Cantirena said quietly.
"I know. It is very sad, my love. The problem is a rebellion, led by Princess Hilda of Fynn," he explained carefully. He noticed her flinching upon hearing upon hearing the place where she grew up. "Now, I know those would-be villains would come to destroy this ship if they had a chance of doing so."
"Why don't we destroy them before they have the chance, Your Grace?"
Mateus nodded. "Oh how I would love to, my dearest princess… but I have no idea where they have their base. It's not in a castle anywhere, and we've hit most every town in the world once. I'm sure the rebellion yet lives. I think we're going to need them to lead us to their base and destroy it from the inside."
"How would we do that, Your Grace? I don't think they're going to have a tea party and just invite us into their base," Cantirena said. Her eyes didn't stop watching the propellers.
"Actually…" Mateus said, "…they might." He kissed her cheek ever so softly. "Whatever happens, I will come back for you. I need you for my army, and the Demon King would be more than furious if I were to allow you to be with anyone else. Your home is with me, in my palace. The heirs of mine that you carry bind me directly to you."
"Are you going to let them… capture me?" Cantirena asked. "Your Grace, who knows what they would make me do for them? This idea is terrifying!"
"I'm quite sure no one there would hurt you," Mateus said. His voice was gentle and soothing as his breath landed right on her ear. "…Because they want your powers to serve their evil purposes. Your memories may become muddled while there, and you may even be confused by what happens there… but I want you to know that no matter what anyone tells you, I will come back for you. You belong to me and me alone."
"So… I'm the bait…"
"If you were to be blunt, then yes."
"If you promise me, Your Grace… if you promise me that you will not leave me there… you mustn't."
"I promise you," Mateus said, kissing her again. "I promise you that I will not leave you in the middle of their rabble longer than I must. I swear it on the grave of my father, and in front of all of the world below us."
And when I find you again… I will kill everyone else you love, so that there is no chance of this spell ever breaking, Mateus thought. So that I'll no longer have to worry about your breaking free of the binding between us, but the rebels will disappear from this world!