Ch 4, part 3
"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.
Another day, another cave.
Firion never believed he'd be spending the prime of his life going through so many damn caves. After reaching the mouth of the Snow Cavern, Josef tied down his Shelly to a large rock to keep it in place while they were inside. Clarisse took a moment to put some tights on. She shivered the entire trip there, and she wasn't going keep shivering on the rest of this quest.
Minwu went in the cavern first, feeling the air only get colder inside than it was out on the Snowfields. He never thought he would go inside a cave that practically spat out blizzards. Even with all the studying he did throughout his life, there was so much he did not know.
"All right," Josef said, once he noticed everyone was ready to go further inside. "We gotta go down a bit. It's not that long of a hike, but there are monsters in here, so be careful."
"What could live in such cold?" Clarisse asked.
"The spirits inside the cave fuse with the snow," Josef said. "Legends say that once you kill a monster in here, the spirit just fuses with more snow to be reborn as a new monster." He pulled his favorite poncho around himself. Even for a man of the north like himself, this cold was hard to withstand. "That would be a great reason for the Kashuon family to hide their bell here, wouldn't ya think?"
Firion was confused. "So instead of having to pay for guards, they just rely on the monsters?"
"It is cost effective," Josef said, shrugging. "And, think about it for a minute. What's the Goddess Bell used for? To open the way to Kashuon Keep, which is where the Sunfire is kept, right? Who would search a cold place like this to get the key to the hottest thing in the world?" He laughed about it. "The Kashuons are pretty smart."
Minwu used his staff to light the way, as the further they went into the cavern, the darker and colder it became. "Watch your step," he said very quietly. "The ice is extremely slippery." He looked at the walls, which were lined with snow as much as the floor. Much of it was caked into the natural cracks in the rock. "This blizzard looks like it's raged since the beginning of the world."
"It has," Josef said. "This cavern is the coldest place in the world, and if it weren't for the high mountains keepin' it in, the snow would rage all the way as far south as Altair. That's how strong the cold is." He led them down, down, down…
Two floors later, the wind stopped abruptly. After fighting their way through several battles filled with monsters that looked human, but were made out of the snow, they came to a floor that seemed to have no monsters at all.
"This place is pretty quiet," Clarisse said softly.
"It's here," Josef whispered. "This is the place where the Goddess Bell rests."
"Why are you being so quiet?" Firion asked at full volume.
A loud roar sounded throughout the cave, causing snow to fall on top of the group. Everyone except Minwu, at least, because he was able to call up a barrier in the split second needed to keep himself from being pummeled by the snow.
"That's why," Minwu whispered.
The roar came again. This time, it was much louder.
"Nice going, Firi," Clarisse mumbled.
Why the hell is it always my fault?! Firion thought angrily. No one said 'hey wait a minute, when you get to the bottom floor, there's a fucking monster sleeping that you'll wake up if you speak in full volume' at any point during this entire trip. If Minwu and Josef knew about it, then why the blazes didn't anyone say anything to me?!
Josef looked at Firion. "Don't look so confused. We were going to have to fight it anyway." He kept on walking. "So don't go thinking it's all your fault or anything, m'boy."
It didn't take long to get there. The corners were winding like a maze, but it wasn't hard to make sense of the path. There, on top of a small set of stairs, sat a large turtle with spikes sticking out of its back. It was mostly brown, with spots of blue, and had massive clawed paws sticking out. When it noticed them, it let out the roar, and it was so loud, it knocked Clarisse off her feet.
"That is an Adamantoise," Josef said. "She's a mean bitch."
"You've fought her before?" Firion asked, amazed by hearing that.
"No, but I have fought her babies," Josef said, half laughing. "And they're almost as mean as she is. Almost being the key word."
"Is there a strategy to taking out an… Adamantoise?" Clarisse asked. She sounded more scared than shocked.
Josef walked closer to the massive turtle, which towered above him in height. "Your measly weapons aren't going to do much on their own," he said, looking at Minwu. "This gal's got a shell harder than any mythril-made armor."
"There's a reason why they call it Adamantine," Minwu thought aloud. "Which is the hardest material known to our world. It's even harder than that of diamonds." He prepared his staff. "If that thing sets eyes on me, he's going to break my concentration."
"So I'm on decoy duty then!" Firion said, stepping forward with Josef. "Fair enough."
Clarisse felt useless. What was she going to do?
"Clarisse?" Minwu called to her gently. "Remember the scrolls I gave you?"
"I'm going to need your help," Minwu said, looking right at the Adamantoise. "While those two buy us time, I want you to help me cast spells at the turtle. Stand behind me."
Clarisse frowned at that. "But… but I'm not… I'm not Cantirena! Don't… don't instantly assume that I'm… Canti, Minwu! I might look like her, but I am not her…" All she'd ever done was fight with her sword. She never was the type to cast magic, white or black, before.
"I know you're not," Minwu said. "You don't have to be Cantirena for me to have the utmost faith in you." He took a step forward. "Believe in yourself, Clarisse. Don't be bound by what roles you believe you are restricted to. You are your own person, and you will continue to grow in all ways." He put the blunt end of his staff hard into the snow. "Feel the energies as they flow through your body. Know in your heart that this turtle stands in the way of completing your goal, and use your feelings to guide your actions. You have a strong heart. All you must do is follow it, Clarisse."
The heart of a Goddess, Minwu thought as he became engulfed in his own magical energies.
"For all the fathers who have lost their daughters to this war," Josef said loudly. "I will take down the queen of the cold!" He ran right up to the turtle, putting all his force into his fist. When the Adamantoise lifted her claw and tried to smash Josef with it, he backed away just in time. This only angered the creature further, sending her into a fit of rage. He ran at her again, causing no damage whatsoever to it. "Aye, mother of turtles, you're harder than anything I've ever fought!"
"Back off," Firion said, running at the Adamantoise at full force. "I don't care what your titles are! You're not going to stand in my way of bringing that Emperor to his knees!" He smashed against it with every bit of force he could muster, and that just didn't help at all, even with the shiny, pretty blade that Master Tobul had made for him in his hands. "Gahh! She's a rock!"
Minwu released the first spell. It was a blast of wind, straight from the palms of his hands. "AEROGA!" he shouted. Clarisse remembered that the spell Cantirena cast against the Dark Knights during the attack on Fynn was also a wind spell, which she named 'Aero'. The wind did some damage to the turtle, but it was nowhere near ready to die just yet!
Up to that point, Clarisse had done absolutely nothing helpful. She put her hands together and tried to mimic what she believed she saw Cantirena practicing before. She prayed with all her might.
Canti, how do you cast a spell? I've never done it before…
Suddenly, her mind sparked with memories. She could hear Cantirena's voice.
"Magic is a lot easier than you might think. Lord Minwu taught me that if I put my hands together like this, and put my feelings through my hands… look! A little fire! But if I want to cast something bigger, it'll take a lot more emotion to do it. Casting a cure spell is pretty similar, but it doesn't rely on intelligence, it relies on the strength of your spirit! If you're dumb and can't concentrate your thoughts, well… you're just not going to be casting magic!"
"Wow, Canti. You sound like you learn so much from Lord Minwu."
"I sure do! He's so nice and always knows whatever I ask him. I like having him as my teacher!"
"He sounds better than the village schoolmistress, that's for sure."
Clarisse stomped her foot. "I've got it!" All of her feelings for Cantirena came out in a large fireball, aimed straight at the Adamantoise. "Feel my burning wrath! Fire!"
The turtle did not like that one bit. It hit her in the face and burned off parts of her ultra-hard skin.
"Hit there," Minwu said. "Hit where the skin cracked!"
Firion ran at the Adamantoise yet again, shoving his blade into the soft, exposed spot. The sword went straight through the monster's face, but she was still not dead. When Firion jumped back, Josef ran back in, landing a good punch on the weak spot. But before Josef could make his get-a-way, the Adamantoise got him with her claw, straight down his back.
"Josef!" Clarisse called out. "You're bleeding!"
"Don't worry," Minwu said, switching from casting another attack spell to chanting one of healing. That came much faster, which should have been obvious. Of course it was going to be faster. Minwu was a white mage, after all. A glowing burst of pale green energy covered Josef, sealing up his wound.
"You got another one of those in ya?" Firion said to Clarisse. "Minwu's got his hands full keeping Josef alive. I need another spell to make another weak point."
Filled with a new found confidence, Clarisse seemed able to tap in to magic ability she always had. Once getting over her fears of being compared to Cantirena, she understood everything. "All encompassing cold… Blizzard!" A coldness came to her fingers, and a bolt of ice shot from her hands, impaling the creature's neck. It slumped over and within a few minutes, breathed no longer. Slowly, its body dissolved into the air, and the podium at the top of the stairs was now clear.
"Whoa," Firion gasped, turning back to look at Clarisse. "Claire, where did that come from?!"
"I'm not sure," Clarisse said, blushing.
"It came from within you," Minwu answered, helping Josef to his feet. "There is no other answer. You aren't your sister. As long as you remember that you are your own person, Clarisse… there is nothing more you need."
Josef pointed at the top of the stairs where the Adamantoise used to stand. "Up there," he said. "That's where it is…"
Firion ran up the stairs and found a large brick wall standing there for what seemed like no good reason. He looked it over, until he found what looked like a bell shape in what seemed to be the center. He put his hand up to it and that part of the wall broke off, revealing a stone bell with the figure of a woman on it. "This must be the Goddess Bell!" he said happily. "We've got it!"
"Wonderful," Minwu said. "One step closer."
The wall where the bell was kept fell over completely, revealing a hidden pathway. Josef pushed Firion out of the way, looking through the path. He walked up in further, only to find another door. When he opened that, he could tell that he was back on the first floor of the cavern again.
"Come up this way," Josef said. "This leads back up top! It's a short cut."
"That's nice to hear," Clarisse breathed out. "I'm bushed after that battle. I've never… it was just…"
"It was your first time casting magic," Minwu said. "It's going to drain your brain and your natural energies. It will take you a bit to be back to yourself again. But with a shortcut, we'll be back in a place to rest in no time."
"Nelly likes bells," Josef said. "She's going to love to see it!"