Ch 4, 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.
After Minwu warped the group out of Kashuon Keep, Gordon went back inside to get the Sunfire with the torch he claimed just a bit ago. Outside was Cid's airship, waiting for them. He brought them from Salamand to the keep, and once Gordon came back outside with the Sunfire, Cid was ready for them to jump right on to the next task.
Clarisse waited on the deck of the airship, sitting against the wall of the cabin where Cid was next to the steering wheel. She was still affected by Josef's death and she could still remember Nelly's reaction when they went to tell her the truth.
"Da… daddy's not coming home, is he?"
Even though she must not have been a day over ten years old, she didn't cry at all. She just took in a deep breath and nodded, like she knew why it happened. Nelly accepted it and silently vowed to move on from it, while Clarisse couldn't let it go. Her heart ached. How could she have let someone so strong fall in battle? Was there anything she could do to stop it from happening? The rebellion was much less for it. The more she thought about it, the more she had a hard time keeping herself from crying again.
Minwu walked up to her and kneeled down next to her. "Clarisse," he said, "Tell me your troubles."
Clarisse shook her head. "What?" she asked, looking at the dark-skinned mage. "What do you mean? I'm… I'm glad Gordon got through his trial, and… we're heading straight to destroy that damned Dreadnaught…"
"You've never seen someone die, have you?" Minwu asked her, sitting next to her.
"I… I… no, I haven't," she replied. "Ha… have you?"
Minwu nodded, leaning against the same wall she did. "It is my duty as a white mage to watch over those who are hurt, both physically and mentally, and aid them in their suffering," he said. "I have seen men fall right before my eyes."
"But… you are a healer… couldn't you just bring them back?"
Minwu gave her a very stern look, straight into the eyes which were the same color as her hair. "Every man who lives will die. I do not pretend to be the Goddess or know the reasons why she has men die when they do. Tampering with that… that is forbidden," he said. He closed his eyes after a few minutes. "I cannot bring a man back from death."
Gordon and Firion soon came up the ramp on the side of the airship. Gordon was holding up the blazing fire in the Egil's Torch. "Here it is," he proclaimed with a big smile. "This… this is the Sunfire."
"Wow, I can feel the heat all the way over here!" Clarisse said, standing back up.
The fire burned almost like any other fire they'd seen before. The difference was that in the center of the blaze was a white center, surrounded by light blue flickers that would come in and out. The legends said that the Sunfire was originally a drop of sunlight, which was why it never went out. Looking at it, none of them could really disagree with the legend. It was hotter than any other fire.
"That's the real stuff alright," Cid said, looking at the torch. "We ready to go, then?"
"Yes!" Firion said, pointing forward. "Let's go to the Dreadnaught! Move out, Cid!"
Cid smiled, pressing the button next to his steering wheel. The ship slowly lifted off into the sky, and took off in the direction opposite the way the wind was going. The propellers spun with all their might. Even so, the Dreadnaught was right below them within minutes.
For a few minutes, Gordon had problems with the movement, but he held still so that the flame would also held still. He never had the courage to stand up straight and tall like this before. He wondered if it was because he was holding the symbol of his country and his family, or if maybe he had grown braver.
"That's it…" Clarisse said, looking over the side of the ship. She'd never seen anything so huge before laying eyes on the Dreadnaught, and flying over it only made it seem bigger than when it was flying over her in Poft. "It's… it's bigger than a mountain!"
"Aye," Cid said. "That monstrosity is a real piece o' work! So I want you to go in there, find where the engine is, and throw that Sunfire right into it. But when the flame hits the engine, ya won't have long to get out. Minwu, you should probably cast Haste on everybody before ya go in."
Minwu nodded. It was a dark knight infested demon's nest in there.
Cid landed the ship right next to the airship. "So. Ya'll come back to me in one piece, ya hear?"
"We will," Clarisse said, hugging around Cid. "You're the best pilot ever."
"Thank ya kindly," Cid said gently. Suddenly, he was reminded of his daughter, Candice. It must have been that dark blue hair on her head. He couldn't think of any other reason why at that moment, so he didn't try to think about it much more than that. "You're practically my kids, so, do me a favor and don't make me bury ya."
"It's nice to have a dad with sweet digs like an airship," Firion laughed. "But no, really, we should get going."
Inside the Dreadnaught, Cantirena was making her way down into the bowels of the ship once again. She carried yet another basket of food to give to the prisoners, as even when she tried to send a letter to Mateus asking him about her request, no one would deliver it for her. She smiled when she reached the hallway with the prisoners. At least doing this gave her something to actually do. She was bored just sitting in the captain's quarters all the time.
"I'm back," Cantirena said. "Are you two hungry? I managed to walk away with some meat today."
Paul nodded. He came to the front of the cell. He looked much healthier than before Cantirena began bringing them food. "Wow, that's unusual. Typically you just bring breakfast food."
"Well, because I didn't eat all of mine that was given to me for lunchtime. I thought you'd like some," she answered, slipping the basket through the iron bars. "So I just kept it aside."
"You sure that won't get you into any trouble?" Candice asked. She noticed there was a green apple in there this time. "Hey, thanks, you got me a green apple. Those are my favorites!" She took a big bite of it, and the experience was almost euphoric. She'd really been wanting one of these for a very long time.
"So I heard," Cantirena said. "I can't get in trouble if His Grace doesn't know about it. And I tried to send him a letter so I could ask for your pardon. I really did. But none of the Dark Knights will send it. He hasn't been here for days. I'm starting to worry about him."
"The Emperor?" Paul asked. "Come on, my lady. You know he is very strong and capable of handling himself. There is nothing to worry about. Wasn't it you who told us that not all is lost?" He smiled at her, and she, in turn, smiled right back at him.
"You know what?" Cantirena asked. She stood up and walked over to the nearby Dark Knight who was watching over the hall. "Excuse me, may I speak with you?"
"Empress!" the knight responded. "How may I serve you?"
"I wish to free the prisoners," Cantirena answered. "Will you please let them free?"
Paul gasped out loud. What… what is she doing? He thought, watching the situation as best he could.
"I'm sorry, but my orders come from the Emperor," he said quietly.
Cantirena crossed her arms. "Do you know what happens to subordinates who happen to offend the Emperor's wife? If I were to take you to His Grace, why, I bet he would lop off your head!"
Candice dropped her apple in total disbelief. What was going on here?
"But nothing, soldier. Free these prisoners for me. I will explain to His Grace myself as to why I freed them," she said, stomping her foot. "Do this for me, or you will suffer the same as any traitor to the crown."
"Right away, Your Highness!" the knight walked into the hallway and pressed a combination of buttons on the wall. The door swung open with a loud creaking sound. "The Empress has freed you. Be sure to show her your gratitude." He walked down the hallway quickly.
Paul brought himself to his feet, and then helped Candice up.
"I'm… confused as to why you did this," Paul said. "Please, tell me what this is about. You've done nothing but stump me since you started feeding your enemies."
Cantirena hugged around Paul. "I like you both. You shouldn't have to be prisoners. You're very good people. Now go. Leave the Dreadnaught and live your lives freely."
"Hey, I got an idea," Candice said. "Come with us! We would love to have you along with us."
"I'm so sorry," Cantirena said, letting go of Paul and hugging Candice instead. "I am to remain here, where the His Grace has told me to wait for him. He said he will come for me when the time comes, so it is my job to wait for him. So go. Be on your way."
"I will never forget this," Paul said. "I swear it to you. One day, when you're in trouble, I will be there to help you."
"Fair enough," Cantirena replied quietly. "Now go! Get off my husband's airship!"
I will see to it that Minwu knows you're here, Paul thought. You may not come with me, but I know for certain that you will leave with Minwu. He darted out as fast as he could run, and Candice went with him.
Cantirena watched them go. "The only sad part is… now I'm all alone again." She started to leave the hallway, but by the time she made it around the corner, both of the former prisoners were gone. "Ah well. For rebels, they sure were nice people. And here I thought they were all mean and nasty! Well I was certainly proven wrong, wasn't I?"