Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 4, part 10

"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.

Part 10

Minwu stayed next to Cantirena for the next day. When he wasn't checking her vitals or watching that gem in the center of her head glow, he was reading the book Paul gave him. He knew when others came into the temporary room to check on his student, but he didn't acknowledge them. Clarisse came in the most often, sometimes just to sit on Cantirena's other side. One time, she even got on her knees and prayed to the Goddess. Minwu wished a simple prayer would help, but he didn't stop her from doing it. Firion once had to drag Clarisse out of there because she broke down into uncontrollable tears. Candice and Cid stopped by once, neither of them unable to say anything, but still wanting to show their support. Hilda started to walk in, but once she saw Minwu wasn't moving or even talking to her, she didn't bother coming in any further. Paul tried to cheer Minwu up one time, but Minwu didn't even look up at him. Minwu was determined to learn all he could. He was going to break this dark magic, no matter what the cost.

Suddenly, at somewhere near sunset of the day after the Dreadnaught's explosion, Cantirena sat straight up and let out a very loud belch.

Minwu almost jumped ten feet in the air, as he was so absorbed in reading the book, he didn't notice her getting up at all. "Cantirena?" he asked quietly. "Are you all right?"

She put her hand over her mouth. "I feel terrible," Cantirena replied. "Oh, everything hurts…"

"Keep resting," Minwu said, smiling underneath his white mask. "It's relieving to know you're still alive. Sickness we can heal. Death we cannot."

"I felt like I was dead," she said, falling back on her pillow. "In a deep, dark place that I couldn't get out of. And I felt my stomach hurt so bad, like it was going to just pop right out of me that… it woke me up…" She looked around. Cantirena didn't remember being in a room that had drapes for walls, but she didn't have the strength to argue about it. "So… um, who are you, exactly?"

Minwu blinked a few times, like he couldn't believe what he just heard. "You do not remember me?" he asked.

"…I've heard your voice before. I remember your turban and robes. I… I don't know, I think I dreamt of you before," she said, looking at him. "But this is the first time I believe we've met."

"It's all right," Minwu said, trying not to break down into an emotional mess. "I'm here to take care of you. I will not rest until you're better."

"Oh," Cantirena whispered. "That's awful kind of you… When my husband finds me, I'm sure he will reward you handsomely for your good will. He would certainly be upset if he were to lose his wife and his heir."

"Excuse me a moment," Minwu said quickly. He got up and stormed out of the temporary room he had built, ready to burn the entire place to the ground.

"Whoa…" Firion gasped as he watched Minwu leave the building. He chased after the mage, grabbing his cape to keep him from leaving town all together. "Hey, there. What happened?"

"I am going to Palamecia myself!" Minwu snapped. "Let go of my cape!"

"Hey, settle down, Minwu," Firion said, pulling on his cape harder. "I know this is frustrating, but you said you were going to stick with your student until she was better, right?"

"I'm going to kill that Emperor with my own two hands. Damn my vows, that man is dead," Minwu said angrily, trying to get Firion to let him go. "Release me, Firion!"

Firion shook his head. "Oh no, I'm not letting you go anywhere. This certainly isn't like you. You're always so calm and collected. I hate to say it, but I'm starting to think the darkness that Cantirena has inside her is starting to get into you."

"…what?" Minwu asked. He suddenly stopped struggling.

"I can't imagine any other reason as to why you would act like… like this," Firion said calmly. "You're always telling us to calm the hell down, so… I had to do the same for you. We're all pretty high strung, you know?"

Minwu sighed. "You are right…"

"So, you mind telling me what happened?" Firion asked.

"Well… Cantirena is awake," Minwu said.

"She is? That's great!"

"Not really," Minwu's shoulders sagged. "Her memories have been tampered with. She… says that just now is the first time we've met. And…"

"And?"

"…and that she's married to that tyrant!" Minwu shouted at him. "She's not only married to him, but she's carrying his heir."

Firion let him go. He felt like Minwu's anger was completely justified upon hearing that. He always thought of Cantirena like his little sister, and this wasn't very easy for him to take. "But the question is, did it really happen? Is she really pregnant?"

"She seems to believe so," Minwu said.

"Yeah, but her memories have been tampered with, right? So maybe the Emperor added that in to keep her close to him, to keep her from straying away? It's possible that he didn't marry her, either. Maybe she just remembers it because of those tampered memories," Firion suggested. He shrugged. "But I'm not a doctor. I couldn't… I wouldn't know what to check or anything like that. Maybe, when she falls asleep again, you should check her out. Like, physically."

"Give her an examination…" Minwu agreed that would probably quell his fears more than anything. He would see what was true. "…thank you, Firion. I lost myself there. I appreciate it."

"It's only what you would do for us," Firion said, hugging around Minwu. "You've been supporting us for a long time, and Cantirena even longer. I could never forgive myself if I didn't do the same for you. Now, come on, you should probably go back in and check on her. Who knows what she's doing in there by herself?"

Together they went back inside the rebel base and headed for the cloth wall that Minwu set up the day before. Inside, they found Cantirena lying in bed, half asleep. She looked like she was dozing out again, but she wasn't quite there yet.

"I will require assistance," Minwu said. "Gather up Clarisse and the other girl… Candice, I believe her name is. Also, I want you to stand at the opening and make sure no one comes in once we start. Can you do that?"

"Of course," Firion said, walking away.

Minwu sat next to Cantirena, in the same place he had been sitting in all day. He put his hand on her forehead. "You're going to be just fine," he whispered. "No matter what the Emperor has done to you, I will protect you… because I love you."

Cantirena seemed to be sleep-talking, which Minwu found to be odd. "Minwu…?"

"Yes," he said. "I'm right here with you."

She repeated his name a few more times, each time a bit sadder.

"I don't know what kind of dark magic he's used on you, but I swear on my life that I will find a way to break it," Minwu whispered. "You must hold on for me. I know it hurts. I have no idea what he's made you see or do. Inside your mind, you are alone… you have to endure all you've gone through alone…" He reached over to touch her face. She was crying. "But… not anymore."

Firion came back in, this time with both Clarisse and Candice.

Minwu turned to look over at them. "Will you two help me give Cantirena a medical examination?" he asked. "I need to check everything."

"If it might help bring her back to who she used to be, then yes, of course!" Clarisse said.

Candice nodded. "I'm not sure what use I will be to you, but… if I can help, I would be more than happy to do so."

"You are females. I am not." Minwu said, standing up. "There are things I do not know about a female body. That is why I am asking you to help me with this."

"Gladly," Clarisse said, giving Candice a high-five.

Minwu had Firion stand right in front of the flap to make sure no one accidentally came in and saw anything they weren't supposed to. He had both of the girls stand on either side of Cantirena, and he at the end of the bed. The moment both Candice and Clarisse put their hands on Cantirena, there was a bright light that shimmered between the three of them.

"Wha… what is that?" Clarisse asked.

"Okay, I am definitely tripping balls over here," Candice said. "Minwu, what the hell?!"

"…proof of who you are," Minwu breathed out. "Three girls left by the Goddess to face the ultimate evil… the legends have come true."

There was some kind of power coming between the three, some kind of power that Minwu did not understand or comprehend. It was warm and calming, but also vast and majestic. Everything in the room was blown around by this weird warm wave, until Cantirena sat back up with a very confused look on her face.

"Hey, Canti," Clarisse said. "How are you feeling?"

Cantirena shrugged. "How am I supposed to feel?"

Minwu waved at her from the end of the bed.

"Teacher!" she said with a smile. "I… I… for some reason I feel like I've been missing you a lot lately." She got up and threw herself at Minwu, wrapping her arms around him. "Oh how I've missed you, Lord Minwu…"

"My child, the feeling is more than mutual," Minwu said gently. "I've missed you, too." He kissed her forehead, noticing that the purple gem was completely gone. "More than anyone I've ever known my entire life." He hugged her tightly. "I don't want to let go of you, ever."

"That's okay," Cantirena said. "I could stay with you forever. You wouldn't have a single complaint from me."

With that, Clarisse and Candice joined in the hug, too. They all laughed and smiled together, at least for that moment.

Mateus was sitting on his throne, eating the cheesecake that the asked for earlier, when he felt something missing. He stood up and threw the plate on the floor in anger. The chef who made the cake came running in.

"Your Imperial Highness," the chef said. "Were…. Were you dissatisfied, my liege?"

The Emperor glared at him. "The cake was marvelous, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth." He shot a bolt of lightning from his hand at the chef, leaving the man dead. "I want an airship prepared to depart immediately!"

The Demon King's voice came through Mateus' mind.

"What has happened to my bride, Mateus?"

"Your powers have left her. I have no idea where she is now!"

"Just as I feared… Minwu must have found a way to break my darkness…"

"That mage has been a thorn in my side for far, far too long…" Mateus said, stomping out of his throne room. "All free hands, attend me! We must find the Empress! Rebels have captured her and are holding her against her will!"

END CHAPTER FOUR

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