Ch 1, Part 3
"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all original characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fanfiction. There is no profit being made from this story.
Cantirena marched out of the tent. She had given her word that she would kill in the name of the Palamecian Emperor, and she intended to keep it. Tears flowed down her face, but she dare not let Mateus see it. What a tall order she had been given! She lived her entire life here in Fynn. She'd never left the town before in all her years of being alive. Everyone would know who she was, and that she was a traitor to the land of her birth. It didn't stop her resolve.
I love that man, Cantirena thought. I was going to give up everything to be with him when I found him. This was written by the fates.
Instead of giving the people any more torture by seeing one of their own having turned on them, she went into one of the old clothing stores and found herself a robe and cape with a hood big enough to hide who she was. She decided it would be easiest on her, as well as the townspeople. Cantirena gathered up all of her dark blue hair and braided it so it would be hidden under the hood. And then, because she couldn't stand stealing from the armor store, she placed a one hundred gil coin on the counter.
The rest happened so fast that she didn't remember a lot of it. Going into the biggest building in Fynn aside from the castle, and throwing her spells left and right, she lost herself amid the screams of men, women, and children. She remembered saying a few things in return, but what those words were did not stick to her memory. It wasn't until she had reached the final room of the building that she was called out of her auto-pilot mode.
"I… I am not of Fynn! I hold no grudge against His Highness, the Emperor of Palamecia!" the voice begged her to stop. She felt the warmth of fire at her fingertips, but it faded when those words fell upon her ears. Her master said to kill citizens of Fynn.
"You are not of Fynn?" she asked.
"Heavens no, I wear the seal of Kashuon! I am an emissary of Prince Scott, Lady Magician. I weave no plots whatsoever," the man cried. "Please, milady, I beg of you. Do not take my life."
Cantirena dropped her arms and said, "In exchange for not taking your life, you must do something for me."
"Anything, my lady!"
She reached inside her robe's pockets and pulled out a folded piece of paper. It must have been from when she was taking notes from her sessions with Minwu. Only the fates knew what that paper was doing in her pocket now, but it was good enough for her for what she had planned. "I wish for you to find the great mage Minwu and give him this parchment. Do not read it. Tell him only that the Dark Princess of the Palamecian Empire sends her regards."
"I… I will do just that," the man said, taking the letter from her hand. "Thank you for your mercy, and may long live Palamecia… Dark Princess."
Cantirena nodded. Maybe Minwu would find that paper, maybe he wouldn't. It was her way of saying goodbye. She didn't know if he was alive or not, and now it didn't matter. She even betrayed her mentor, who she looked up to for his loyalty and resolve. When she realized that it was too much to bear. She found it hard to breathe. "Peace," she said, turning around abruptly.
What is done cannot be undone, Cantirena thought as she walked out of the building. I have committed acts that are evil and malicious, and yet…
Outside, there were two guards waiting, and behind them stood Emperor Mateus with a slight smile on his face. "Ahh, there you are," Mateus said. "You took a little longer than I thought you were going to need." He was once again wearing his crown and his cape. He looked more than ready to go to his next destination.
"Pay it no mind, Your Grace," Cantirena replied. "Let us make haste to our next task." She bowed her head a little to show him her respect.
…and yet, as long as he looks at me like that, I cannot bring myself to stop.
"So we shall," Mateus agreed, extending his hand to her. "Come along. I've need for you in Bafsk."
Cantirena smiled, taking her lord's hand. "It will be my pleasure, sire."
They walked side by side, which was a rare thing for Mateus to allow. None of the knights had ever seen anything like that before. Mateus led her to a small airship, where they both climbed on with two of the knights. Then, it lifted off with the help of all four of its large propellers, and headed west.
It was Cantirena's first time on an airship, but she didn't have the time to enjoy it very much. Mateus let her look around a little bit. She wished she could show her sister what it was like to fly on an airship. She had to ask now that she thought about it.
"My lord," she said quietly. "May I ask something of you?"
Mateus nodded slightly. "Proceed."
"I've never been on an airship before. It made me think of my family. We all planned to one day take an airship ride. It made me think of… my sister. My twin sister, Clarisse. Please, sire, you have to tell me if she died during the assault on Fynn. I can't concentrate on what's ahead of me if-"
The Emperor looked straight at her, and without any hesitation, he said, "Another girl with the same color hair as yours died with a sword in her hand. She fought bravely." Then after a slight pause, he added, "Not that it matters how valiant she was. She raised her blade in defiance of her rightful ruler, and she paid the price for that."
Cantirena looked away from him, unable to hold her emotions inside. Her eyes welled up with tears. She couldn't handle hearing that, no matter what vows she gave. It was like he stabbed her through the heart with a dragon tooth. "Yes," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "She defied you. They… they all defied you."
"I believe it's raining," Mateus said.
What a perplexing thing to say. "Your Grace, there's barely a cloud in the sky."
"No," he insisted, grabbing her shoulder and making her turn around to face him. "This is rain." Mateus wiped under her eyes with his hand. "You do not weep for your enemies, be they of your decent or not. There is no other explanation for water to be on your face. This is rain."
She closed her eyes.
I cannot cry ever again. Especially in front of Mateus. Cantirena thought. Palamecia is my home now. We are at war. I will not weep… for a traitor to the crown.
"Yes, my Emperor, you are right. It is raining." Cantirena said quietly. "Forgive me for questioning you. You are never wrong."
"I know," Mateus said. "Come. We've some time before our ship lands." As he turned to leave, he took her hand again. "Unless you are directed otherwise, you are not to leave my side."
"As you will," Cantirena agreed, walking with him into the hull of the airship, wherein there was private quarters for the Emperor to rest while traveling. He drew her in, thrust her onto the bed, and took his place as her beloved ruler on top of where she lay.
It was surprising for Cantirena to realize that it was her first time having a man this close to her. She held no interest in any of the men in Fynn that were her age during her youth. She relished the fact that the one man she wanted to find had found her. There was no turning back now. Before, she could have walked away. She could have taken death over betraying everything she ever knew and loved. But now, she truly belonged to the Emperor of Palamecia.
But back in Altair, things were not so easy to deal with. Clarisse had a fight with both Firion and Hilda, trying to convince her to let her fight in the rebellion. If she wasn't going to be allowed to help them fight, she was going to get back up to Fynn on her own. She would see the prisoner's camp herself, and find her sister there. Clarisse was not going to take any of this treatment. Even Captain Borghen praised her ability. How could she go wrong?
Minwu wandered his way into the weapons shop. He stopped to talk to an old man sitting next to a table covered in hammers, and then walked over to see Clarisse was sharpening her sword. "Listen," he said. "If you wish to go back to Fynn to find your sister… it's going to be dangerous. I will not allow you to go alone."
Clarisse grunted, "Then I'll sneak out when you're not looking."
Minwu rolled his eyes. "What I mean is… I will go with you."
"What? Really?" she asked, smiling.
"Yes. I wish to retrieve my student from danger. She may have potential, but it is raw and untrained. If the Empire ever senses this and decides to put her to any use, she could very well be out of my reach. I fear her innocence will be lost at the Empire's hands… and that fact troubles me." Minwu was rarely emotional about his duty, but the gleam in his eyes told no lies to Clarisse. "I have no idea what foul magic the Empire has powering it. There never used to be monsters outside of towns before. The world itself seems to have been injected with evil. I also told you that our fates were connected, did I not?"
"Glad to have you support me," Clarisse said angrily. "Princess Hilda doesn't trust me, and Firion… he… he thinks I'm too weak."
Minwu said, putting his hands on top of hers. "He does not want you to share the same fate as your sister or your parents."
"What did they die for, if I do not take up their mantle and fight for them? Minwu! They died because we were all unaware and unassuming of the world around us. We had no idea that Palamecia was on a warpath. We can't let this continue!" Clarisse snapped at him. "…I'm so sorry, Minwu. I don't mean to take it out on you. I know you care about Cantirena."
"I will save my student." Clarisse was impressed with Minwu's resolve. His inner spirit seemed as if it was burning inside him. She couldn't pinpoint if it was anger, worry, sadness, frustration, or something else that drove him to feel this way, but she wasn't going to question him. Cantirena might have been his student, but Clarisse respected Minwu for who he was and what he lived for.
"And I will save my sister," Clarisse said, standing up. She put her sword in its sheath and put all of her dark blue hair under a helmet that Tobul had given her. "If we're going, then let's do it."
"Aye," Minwu agreed.
They headed out of the weapon shop, only to bump into a fast-talkin' ninja wearing nothing but all black talking to Firion. Clarisse didn't even want to stop to talk to him, after the argument they had earlier. Minwu walked past them without a second glance.
"Paul," Firion said quickly. "Dude, we'll talk later."
"Hey, I'm always here to help the rebels, man! If you need something, just talk to me," Paul shouted at Firion. "I'm gonna crack the Emperor's safe myself. No one else can do it!"
"Yeah, sure, man," Firion said, chasing after Clarisse and Minwu. "Wait up, both of you."
"No. I'm not going to work with someone who doesn't trust me," Clarisse said angrily. "You stay here and watch over Princess Hilda like a good little boy, and I'm going to go find my sister."
"You can't just run off without protection, Clarisse. The land is full of monsters now. You saw them! Vines that come alive to bite the legs of passerby, there's goblins who look human but aren't quite, and ogres and wolves and horses that have gone mad! You can't think this is a good time to go!" Firion said. "I'll go to Fynn in your stead. You stay here and watch the princess!"
Minwu crossed his arms once a few moments of silence passed between them. "If you're done fighting…"
"Sorry, Minwu." Firion said, bowing his head a little.
"I hear that a lot lately," Minwu grunted. "Anyway, if you're done fighting amongst yourselves, I suggest we start moving. The sooner we get to Fynn, the sooner our fears will be laid to rest. I suppose it is good to prove yourself in the eyes of the princess so that she will trust you, as well as find what you must to be able to set your hearts at ease. Even I have my darkest thoughts to battle with inside my mind."
Firion looked outside the wall that surrounded the borders of Altair. "Then, let's get going. We aren't getting anywhere just standing here, squabbling over something we feel we must all do."