Ch 3, part 9
"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.
Emperor Mateus believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that he was not just the most powerful man in the world, but he was also the smartest. No, he didn't believe it. He knew. He carried himself like the Emperor he was. Standing tall, with an air of shrewdness one would not find in many others. As he thought about everything that had transpired recently, he could only come to such a conclusion. The world was his, and everyone in it was meant to serve him and his desires. After all, considering how many things in this world ended with violence, well, there was no cure for that except a leader who could establish a reign which encompassed the world and all people. There could be only one supreme ruler, and it was him.
The Dreadnaught was made of metal. There was nothing organic about the structure or what it was made of. There weren't even potted plants to simulate a natural setting. It was all hard and cold. Not that Cantirena noticed at all. She was too busy watching the propellers spinning or feeling the surface of mythril steel which made the pipes that ran everywhere within the ship. She found the entire thing fascinating. It took Mateus a few moments realize that Cantirena did not remember building the ship. She studied everything about it, when he wasn't talking to her. Even though she didn't wander far from him, as the Dark Knights who passed by her gave her a bit of a fright, she still curiously looked at everything she came across. The pounded metal surface she was standing on was rather sharp and bumpy. Mateus knew why Minwu could teach her so much just by watching her. She was the type who loved to learn and explore.
"My love," Mateus said to her. "Exactly why are you sitting on the floor, running your hand on it repeatedly?" He kneeled down next to her. This wasn't behavior very fitting for the bride of the Emperor, and he found it strange.
"I'm sorry, Your Grace," she said. "I was tired of looking the propellers spinning so I thought I would look at the floor." She was sitting on her knees in a very dignified way. "I didn't want to leave your side, but I also didn't want to bother you. You looked satisfied standing there, lost in your thoughts. Far be it from me to interrupt your thoughts."
"You're not a bother," he said, pulling her back up to her feet. "But if you want to go somewhere else, it's all right."
"I don't know why I'm so tired," Cantirena said, leaning on him. "I've only been with you on the ship today. But wouldn't you know it, I feel very drained."
"Then you must rest," Mateus replied, leading her back inside the ship. "I wouldn't want you to fall short on any sort of energy or nourishment. You're carrying my firstborn heir. If there is something you need, you must tell me immediately. I will not have you so weak."
If Cantirena hadn't been walking, she could have fallen asleep right then. By the time he had her in the captain's quarters, her eyes were half open. The moment her head hit a pillow, she was curled up on that king-sized bed, asleep. Mateus put a blanket over her, then sat next to her on the other side of the bed.
Give them a chance to destroy the Dreadnaught, and they will indeed take the invitation, Mateus thought. And when they find this lovely caged bird, they will take her back with them… He grinned as he reached for one of the world maps he had lying on the nightstand. When I find out where she is, I'll know where those rebels are hiding…
"And after that… all will be set right," he said. "So where will we land? Where will we set up this delicious trap?" When he decided on a spot, he looked over at Cantirena. "You will probably hate me when I see you again. I'm well aware of that mage's powers."
But another week under the Stone of Iluia's influence, and you will be who you are now once again…
Cantirena looked completely comfortable, curled up where she was. She was at peace, sleeping the deepest sleep she'd had since finishing the Dreadnaught. The purple gem in the center of her forehead gave off a faint glow.
"Minwu…" she whispered.
Mateus glared down at her. What could she be dreaming, to where she could say a name which brought her pain when she was awake?! He was ready to destroy something, anything.
"When this is over, my princess, you will not remember your teacher," Mateus snarled angrily. "You love me and me alone." He got up immediately. "You belong to me. Do not forget this, even after you have your final reunion with your teacher." He left the captain's quarters and headed back up to the cockpit on his own, all the while, his thoughts turning darker and darker.
How dare my bride think of another in her dreams! He thought as he climbed up several flights of stairs. I will have none of this. The wild weeds will be plucked from my Garden of Eden. I will have no more resistance.
When he reached the cockpit, he gave the order. The Dreadnaught was to land. He gave them some bullshit excuse as to why, told the soldiers inside to kill anyone who wasn't approved to enter the ship, and without telling anyone aboard, Mateus took one of the spare airships from inside the docking bay, he left it behind. All he had to do was wait. Though, without his new favorite toy, it would be a bit longer than even he wanted to wait. But the Emperor was a patient man to a certain degree.
Clarisse couldn't believe how much faster they were able to travel after having done it previously. It all came naturally now. Kill the monsters without a second thought, keep going forward, kill more monsters, keep going forward. It was easy-peasy. Firion was always able to keep one step ahead of her, as his strides were bigger than hers, but she didn't mind. They had each other no matter what came at them, and having one constant companion was not a bad thing!
Paloom was empty, though finding it in the same state as Altair wasn't a good feeling. When there was no one in town, not even a ship ferryman, they kept on going. The walk from Paloom to Salamand took about three whole days, and they only slept about four hours each night. By the end of that long walk, they were driven by sheer willpower alone.
When they entered the town's borders, they almost collapsed. Luckily for the pair, Josef and Nelly were outside playing in the snow when they got there.
"Look, Daddy," Nelly said. "It's Mr. Firion."
"So it is," Josef said, nodding. "Hey there, Firion. You all right, son? You don't look like you're doing so well."
"No time," Firion replied, shaking his head. "Big problems…"
Clarisse slumped over only for Josef to catch her in one arm. "Hey, now," he said. "C'mon, Nelly, let's get them rested up at home. It's the least we can do to thank ya for helping us out earlier."
"No," Firion said, much more fiercely. "The Dreadnaught has been on the attack since… since we helped Salamand… we need the Goddess Bell to help us get the Sunfire out of Kashuon Keep!"
"You won't be going to get anything without any rest," Josef insisted. By then, he was carrying them both into his house. Josef put them both in a bed and had Nelly started on tea to warm them up. "…Now, you need to get the Sunfire, why?"
"To destroy that damned flying hunk of scrap metal," Firion said angrily. "Let me out of here, Josef! We don't have much time. They could go back and attack Altair at any time and… and…"
"Lay the hell back down," Josef commanded loudly. "What you must not know yet is that the Dreadnaught has landed. They're rebuilding parts of it or something, I don't know. I received word from Princess Hilda myself. It's a perfect opportunity to blow that metal buzzard sky high." He sat down in a chair between the two beds. "To do blow it up, you say you need Kashuon's Sunfire, and to get that, you're gonna have to get inside Kashuon Keep itself, which is what the Goddess Bell is for." He nodded. "All right, kids, guess what? Josef's coming along to help you with this! It's the least I can do to help ya after ya saved my little Nelly."
Nelly came in with a tray, holding that same teapot and cups that Josef served them with the last time they were there. "Daddy, you're going?"
"To save you from that Emperor and his flunkies, I'm gonna have to," Josef said, ruffling her hair. "I will fight tooth and nail for my beloved little Nelly-belly."
Nelly giggled, serving all three of them tea. "You're so funny, Daddy!"
Clarisse sat up to drink the tea. "Hey, Josef. You're right. Nelly makes better tea than you do!"
"Yeah," Firion agreed. "This tastes way better than what you served us last time."
Josef shrugged. "I know that. They say that tea tastes better when you make it with love. When you make it with hate or with worry… well, it comes out in your tea."
"It's so true," Clarisse said. She all ready finished her cup's worth, and she felt like she could get up and get back into the action all ready. "And I can tell that there's nothing but love here."
"That's all there will ever be," Nelly said. "But it's getting dark. You have to rest before you go up to the snow fields, Daddy. You told me that every time you go up there, you sleep a full night and eat a big, big, big breakfast!" When the tray was out of her hand, she spun around. "Big, big breakfast!"
"The biggest in the whole world!" Josef said, picking her up and sitting her on his lap. There was nothing more fulfilling for Josef than being with his daughter. Playing with her, talking with her, dreaming of the future with her. The world had so much to offer, so much more when this war was over. Josef couldn't wait to see his beautiful baby girl grow up into a beautiful woman and to chase all her would-be boyfriends away. "Because you know what you need to go in that cold?"
"You need the warmth of the strongest heart!" Nelly answered, and glomped around his neck. "And to make the strongest heart with the warmth you need, you have to eat the big, big breakfast!"
They laughed together until bedtime, ready to take on the next day when the time came.