Ch 4, part 1
"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.
CHAPTER FOUR BEGINS
Minwu arranged to meet Firion and Clarisse somewhere in the middle, so that once everything was taken care of, the group could go on their search for Gordon. Minwu did go to Bafsk and find both the book that proved Cantirena was there at one point and the pass that would allow the party entry onto the Dreadnaught without any problems, but instead of going back to Poft, which was now in shambles after being attacked, he headed back to Altair. Cid hid his airship and went to town with Minwu, so that he might have a chance to speak with Princess Hilda.
The town was starting to recover, but it was still a very silent place outside. Except for a few people traveling between the houses now and then, no one was ever outdoors. What once was a very friendly and all around chatterbox farming community had turned into a somber place which felt more like a living graveyard than a functional village.
Upon entering the rebel base, Minwu and Cid found Hilda tending to a few children sitting in a corner. There were even fewer children now than there was after the attack on Fynn, as many of them were out playing at the time of the Dreadnaught's attack.
"…and so, the brave Prince Scott drew his trusted mythril sword, and stared the dark knights down right where he stood," Hilda said to the group of children. Minwu frowned upon hearing that. He remembered when Scott proposed to her, and he could tell that just telling this story was torture for Hilda. "He was not planning on going down any time soon. He yelled to everybody, telling them all to get out, to flee for their lives. Even if he was to fall there, he wanted to make sure that as few lives were lost in the battle."
"Hey look!" one of the children said, completely interrupting the story. "It's Lord Minwu!"
Hilda turned her head to look behind her. "So it is," she said, ruffling the little boy's hair. "All right, then. I'm going to go take care of some super important princess stuff now. I need you to tell the other little ones a story in my place. Can you do that?"
"I can do that!" the boy said, hugging around Hilda. "Thank you for being our Princess!"
"We love you, Princess Hilda," a little girl said, hugging around her, too. Soon all of the children were hugging around her, proud to have her as their leader.
Hilda smiled at them. "Okay. I'll check on you as soon as the meeting is over." She stood up, straightened out her dress and her crown, and looked directly at Minwu. "Sorry about that. Let's go to the throne room to talk." In the throne room, once Hilda shut the door completely, she started to talk again. "All right, Minwu. You're back much quicker than expected."
"That would be thanks to this man here," Minwu said, pointing at Cid, who stood behind him. "We met along the way."
Hilda was more surprised than anything. "What brings you back here?" She asked the man who used to be a white knight who served in her honor.
"…this man pays better than any fare I've ever had," Cid said, shrugging. He sounded so nonchalant about it, but he was giving her a very devilish smile. Hilda could tell that even after all this time in the sky, his attitude hadn't changed at all.
"Still the snarkiest man this side of Deist, I see," Hilda said, smiling in return. "Still, it is good to see you again. I take it you've been… keeping up with recent events, Cid?"
"Aye, I have," Cid answered. "Considering two of the attacks the damn flying spittoon's made, I've been there to personally witness, it's hard to ignore. Hilda, I'm starting to wonder if our rebellion is even possible to keep up anymore." He sighed, shaking his head. "Perhaps you should offer a surrender before what little is left of your populace becomes new red sidewalk paint, hmm?"
Hilda glared at Cid, and Cid bowed his head.
"Forgive I said anything, Your Highness," Cid grunted.
Minwu then bowed his head so he could catch Hilda's attention. "Princess, I have investigated Bafsk myself. What I found there was abhorrent, but it did provide my greatest lead yet in my quest. I swear to you that when what I have set out to do is done, I will return to your side at your attendant."
Hilda nodded. "Minwu, I've done so much here by myself that I'm not sure if you need to keep watch over me constantly like you have always tried to do. Even though you had a student who was practically your daughter, you still divided your time between your royal duties and your personal endeavors. I believe your family means more now that we're in the depths of this war. Once Cantirena is home, I'm sure you will need to take care of her. Who knows what that poor dear has suffered at the hands of the Empire?" She put her hands on Minwu's shoulder. "I have learned so much during his conflict, Minwu. I have seen the strength of family and friendship prevail in even this time, the darkest time of our lives. Minwu, please. Do yourself and the world a favor. Step down as my royal advisor and do the right thing by your heart, not by your duty."
"Princess…" Minwu said. He was almost saddened by hearing this. He must have been terrible at his job to be told to step down like that. "…this book right here has a few maps drawn in it by hand. I believe that using this, we can figure out where to take the Sunfire once we secure it."
"Oh, that reminds me," Hilda said, snapping her fingers. "I've received word from Josef in Salamand. He, Firion, and Clarisse set out for the Snow Cavern this morning. That is the place where the Goddess Bell is held. Once we have that…"
"We can get into Kashuon Keep," Minwu finished her sentence.
"Exactly," Hilda said. "Also, Minwu, we need to act as quickly as possible. The Dreadnaught has landed out in the middle of a field to the northwest of here. They are reconstructing a part of the hull, from what spies have been able to tell. If we can get it while it's still on the ground… this is our best chance."
"You're right," Minwu agreed.
Hilda looked at Cid. "Can you get Minwu up to the Snow Cavern, or at least in a good place to meet up with Firion's group, Cid?"
"As long as I keep getting paid, I'll be the Wild Rose's personal airship ferry," Cid said, putting his hands on his hips. "So you've no need to worry."
"I… I'm afraid our bank is empty," Hilda said quietly. "I've nothing to pay you now."
Cid winked at her. "Money is not the only payment in the world, you know." She looked appalled at that suggestion until he sighed and added, "I'll take my payment in a lifetime of freedom after this war is over. Also if you've got any food, I want to eat before I take off again."
"Food we have," Hilda said. "Eat whatever you can find. It's not haute cuisine, but it will keep you fed."
Minwu noticed there was a big pot of stew in the corner of the throne room, and an old half-dwarf looked over it carefully. The man held a ladle that must have been twice as tall as he was. It didn't matter. Everyone in the rebellion had their duties to make sure the whole organization kept together.
Standing next to the old man was a stack of bread loaves. While he wasn't hungry now, he grabbed a loaf and tucked it inside his robe. His intuition told him that he was going to need it. His nerves were shot. He couldn't manage to take a bite of anything offered right now. There was too much on his mind. He did sip on the broth of the stew for a little bit while watching Cid gorge himself. He did understand that he needed something in his system to keep him going, at least.
"You've never been a big eater," Hilda said to Minwu as they sat at the table in her throne room. "You haven't eaten for days and all you do is drink a cup worth of broth. Are you fasting for a Mysidian tradition?"
"No," Minwu replied. "If I were to eat anything more than this right now, I am sure it would all come right back up, Princess. There is too much stress in my body to put even more inside it."
Cid, however, packed it all away. "You have to eat while it's here, my friend," he said, slurping down yet another bowl of stew. He was starting on his third, and dipping bread into the broth while he was at it. "Goddess, I haven't had food this good since I lived in Fynn! None of the men in my crew were good cooks. When I'm the best cook out of a group, you better believe the food we make is going to taste like shit. It's no wonder those boys got themselves so damn drunk all the time. The food was terrible."
Minwu laughed just enough to let them know he was sort of listening to the conversation.
"Princess," Cid nudged Hilda a few times. "Is Minwu always this lost in thought?"
"Only when he's lost a part of himself," Hilda said quietly.
"His student," Cid said, putting down his spoon. "I've got a question to ask ya, Minwu. Your girl, your student? She has dark blue hair, right?"
"Yes," Minwu said, looking directly at him. "A very rare hair color. How would you know of it? I've never described Cantirena to you."
"Because my girl, she's got the same hair color, that dark blue unlike anyone else in the whole world I've ever seen," Cid said quietly. "I was wondering if maybe you knew where they came from."
Hilda was shocked to hear about this. There was another blue haired girl? This couldn't be a mere coincidence. She looked over at the bookshelf which stood opposite of the table they were sitting at. There were legends, ancient legends, about a trio of blue haired girls… she couldn't get the thought out of her head. She walked over to the bookshelf and picked out a book, flipping through the pages.
Before great calamity which engulfs the world, the Goddess gives to the people three girls: One carrying her power, one carrying her wits, one carrying her heart. Hilda read from the book. Cosmos promised upon the day of sealing the great Demon King that as long as he kept rising to revive and come to power, she would provide ones with the capability of keeping him at bay.
"I… I can't believe the legends are true," Hilda said. "Minwu, do you know anything about their birth? Who their parents were, maybe?"
Minwu thought about it. "Though the girls were never told, their parents confided in me that the girls were not theirs biologically. It does explain why they never knew that Cantirena had potential for magic as they were not mages themselves. In fact, her mother told me they found the girls, dressed in rags, clinging to one another. Though they were not old enough to remember what happened, they were old enough to speak. They knew their names by the time they were found."
Cid kept looking at the two back and forth. "So… do you think this explains why I found Candice outside in the woods? She looked like she was abandoned, so I adopted her as my own."
"Well…" Hilda thought aloud. "…where is your daughter?"
"That's the thing," Cid said. "If she's still alive, she's in the hands of the Empire, along with the ruins of my first airship, the Hilda Guard."