Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 5, 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.

Part 3

Mateus waited patiently. He was there for maybe half an hour or so before his troops came back saying they'd found nothing. All but two of them came back. It took another twenty minutes to find the missing troops were dead near the exit of the forest that lead to the marshlands out west.

So that's where that surge of power came from, he thought, looking at the dead dark knights on the ground. There's nothing that way except the marshes… unless they're heading for the Magic Kingdom, Mysidia. The spell was something only a holy man could cast. A few moments later, he smiled again. The thought only made him happy. Minwu, have I found you escorting my beloved to your homeland?

"This will prove more interesting than I could have hoped for," the Emperor said cheerfully.

I will even give you a head start! Go! Flee to your heart's content. If I know where you are going, it will take even less effort to find you when I am ready, Mateus thought. Keep her safe for me, Minwu. She needs an awful lot of protection from… evil, shall we say.

He then called to all of the Dark Knights. "Come. We make for the island nation, Deist. We've been expected by the captain of the Dragoons and I'm not the type to keep an appointment waiting. I would love to arrive before breakfast time. I hear Deist's tea is magnificent." He walked back to the airship and prepared to board. It was going to be a wonderful day. Mateus was ready to seize everything that was coming to him. Victory was right in his grasp.

And victory… is so sweet.

Cid managed to pull Gordon and Firion out of the wreckage. They crashed only a short distance from Paloom, but considering that Paloom wasn't much but a skid mark on the world now, they were going to have to hike all the way to Poft. Firion remembered that Poft was also nothing but a pile of rubble, so they had no idea what to do to get to Deist like they were told.

"Damn it all," Cid said as he looked at his crashed ship. It still had smoke coming out of the engine. Wood chunks, metal, even the liquid Sunfire that powered the engine was everywhere. "There's another down at the hands of the Empire."

"What were they doing in the air at this hour?" Gordon asked. "It wasn't equipped well to fly at night. There were not very many lights." He brushed himself off and straightened out his ponytail while waiting for the other two to decide what to do from here.

"Well, Canti said it herself that the Emperor was coming for her," Firion answered. "He might have thought that she was on your ship, Cid." He looked around. The sun still had a few hours left before making its debut for the day.

"Even though she's with Minwu… on foot," Cid said. It hit him really hard, considering Candice went with Minwu's party.

"Oh shit," Firion gasped. "Which way did that ship go?!"

No one had to answer, because as soon as he asked that question, the skies gave him an answer. The same ship that shot them out of the air was heading south, in the direction that they were supposed to be going. Even in the dark, it was impossible to mistake that for something else.

Gordon felt his courage slip from under him for a moment. "You don't think it's headed for…"

"…Deist?" Cid asked. "Yes. I'm pretty sure it is."

"For the sake of all things sacred, can't we do anything right?" Firion asked, kicking the dirt below his feet. "Seven Hells, what the fuck are we supposed to do?! Both ports are destroyed and because of that, there's not going to be any ships going anywhere and, on top of all of that, the place we've been assigned to go is going to get destroyed before we even have a chance to get there!"

"I'm not sure if that's better or worse than if he chased after Minwu and the girls," Cid said, frowning slightly.

"I don't either," Gordon said, shaking his head. "What… should we do…?"

"Head back to Altair and regroup with Hilda," Cid said. "That's all I can think of."

"…maybe someone's gone back to one of the ports," Firion suggested, pointing that way. "Maybe we should check there first before we give up. She really wants us to find the Dragoons and meet up with them…"

"We check Paloom and see if we can find anybody there, but if we don't, we head back to Altair," Cid said, starting to walk. "Let's go. I can't stand just waiting around like this."

"Agreed. Let's actually just do something," Gordon said with a nod. "Let's just… let's just go…"

"There's nothing but marsh out here," Candice said. "We've done nothing but run since we barely escaped the Emperor's ship, and I see absolutely nothing but fucking marshes." She was visibly disgusted by the lay of the land and by how many monsters she had to cut up with her twin daggers. Every time she stepped in mud, she wanted to kick something to relieve her frustration. "Minwu, are you sure we're going the right way?"

"Yes," Minwu answered. He was in the back with Cantirena. She was walking on her own just fine, and even though her skirt was getting smudged up, she didn't seem to mind that much. She was keeping right at Minwu's side. He may have been watching the land, and the monsters, but he never once let his attention wander from Cantirena. "Past the vast marshlands is a mountain range which winds within itself, and in there, you will find the jungle which hides the magic kingdom of Mysidia."

"And we're going to hike the entire way?" Candice asked.

"You were the one who said you wanted to come with us," Clarisse said, slicing up a goblin. "You knew what you were in for."

"Next hut we see, let's ask if they have chocobos," Candice suggested. "I think it would make traveling a lot easier."

"That is a very good suggestion," Minwu said. "Though chocobos cannot climb mountains. It would only make crossing the marshland easier, and that's the easiest part of the trip. Not only that, but chocobos are not native of the western part of the world. They are secluded to the forests surrounding Kashuon, and I'm not sure if many survived the massacre of Kashuon…"

"Teacher," Cantirena pulled on the part of the cape where it draped over his shoulder. He turned slightly to look at her. "Did you have to walk all this way when you came to Fynn?"

"I did." Minwu explained it as he kept walking. "It is a part of our training. Every mage is expected to make the trek from inside the Mysidian country to the outside world and find work there. While we are on the outside and working, we find a student, and we have to make the journey back in with our trained student to introduce them to the Mysidian society and the Circle of Mages."

"…does this mean that you're taking me to Mysidia because you want me to join them?" she asked. "Because you want me to join their… society?"

"No," Minwu said gently. "I'm afraid I can't do that."

"What? But… but I'm your student!" Cantirena said. "…wait! Am I not good enough to join the Mysidian society? I've failed you, haven't I?!"

Minwu put his hand on her head, which was his favorite way of showing her affection. "You are the best student I could ever hope for, Cantirena. It's not because of you that I cannot introduce you to the Circle of Mages. It's because of me. I'm a failure of the Mysidian way."

"You're a failure?" Clarisse asked in total disbelief. "The Great White Mage Minwu, the pride of Fynn, is a failure?"

"There is nothing great about me," Minwu whispered, "Absolutely nothing."

"You lie," Cantirena said, hugging Minwu again. "You're a great teacher. Take it from your student first hand. No one is more patient and willing to explain more than you. I'm lucky to know you and have you for my own teacher, Lord Minwu."

"You are too kind on me," Minwu said, returning her gesture. "If it were not for the necessity, I would not be going back to Mysidia now."

"Do you need something from there?" Candice asked.

"I need to go and confirm what I've read in the text Paul brought back with him from Palamecia," Minwu said, continuing to walk, "Because if it is true, then to save this world, we're going to need something that can only be found in Mysidia."

"What is it?"

"A symbol of Cosmos: a crystal."

Cantirena kept up with Minwu. "What's the crystal for? What is it? What does it do? Why do we need it?"

"You never stop asking questions, do you?" Minwu said with a slight chuckle. "Oh, my child, this is what makes you a wonderful student. If you keep asking questions, you will keep getting answers! Let me explain it this way. Do you remember that stone you spoke of? That evil stone in the Palamecia castle?"

"Yes. I wouldn't be able to forget anything like that."

"Well, a crystal is a stone full of the Goddess' power, which is capable of defeating any and all evil. It purifies darkness," Minwu said. "So if you're close to a crystal…"

"…then maybe the Emperor won't be able to take me again," Cantirena finished his sentence, while looking away.

Minwu nodded. "That's only one part of it," he said. "But, if we're able to find the stone again, and we're able to activate the crystal next to it, then we might even be able to destroy it and end this war once and for all. See, that book described how Palamecia the First was a brave hero who established his country to be a holy place for servants of the Goddess. He was given the stone the Demon King was sealed in, and his family was told to keep an eye on it to make sure the Demon King never was to be released. Problem is, every ruler who came in contact with it eventually came down with some kind of mental sickness… and I believe that sickness is the same thing that controls the current Emperor. When I met him as the prince, he was a very well mannered boy of promise."

"The prince?" Cantirena asked. "Yes. He was a truly wonderful person…"

Candice put her hands on her hips. "Uh oh."

"Uh oh, what?" Clarisse asked.

"I think… Canti, can I ask you a very personal question without you getting offended by it?" Candice asked, putting her hand on Cantirena's shoulder. "I want you to be honest with us, because I really think this is important."

"What are you talking about?" Minwu asked.

"Hold your chocobos," Candice said to Minwu. "Okay, Canti, listen. For a moment there, that look on your face… the way you spoke about the Emperor when he was still a prince… Cantirena, are you in love with him?"

Cantirena didn't want to hear anything about that. She shook her head and tried to scoot closer to Minwu. "Are you kidding? A village girl could never marry royalty," she tried to hide the fact that she was blushing.

I didn't want to think of him again, she thought, but yes. I've always been in love with him.

"Well, that's troublesome," Clarisse said, continuing to walk. "But it does explain why you wouldn't shut up about meeting the most beautiful, kind prince in the whole entire world that evening after coming home."

"It's… the reason he let me live," Cantirena said. "Because of that meeting. Because we had talked. Because… he knew of my feelings before I even told him."

Minwu wasn't shocked to hear it, though it did make him a bit worried. "My child, are you saying that you went along with him willingly… because you were in love with the prince?"

Cantirena sighed. "After he showed who he was to me, I… I did not refuse any request of his until it was too late to fight back," she said, looking up at the sky. "Because I was determined to find him once I had completed Minwu's training. I was going to travel the world to find him again. To assist him the way… the way Minwu always assisted Princess Hilda. I told everyone in the village that I was going to study magic all around the world." She paused before she started walking again. "I lied. I lied to all of you."

"But after what you went through in Palamecia, surely you don't still love him," Candice said, kind of scared to hear that answer. "He sealed off your memories and turned you into a zombie, practically."

"…I want… to save him…" Cantirena said, feeling the winds blow around her gently. "Because the prince I met in Fynn that day was the most wonderful person I've ever met, and if we can get the darkness to leave him… maybe he'll turn back into the wonderful prince he was before. Even if I am not going to be his bride, I don't care. I want to save the prince who inspired me to make the world a better place no matter the cost, because I'm sure that's what his true self would want. So, I'm sorry, Lord Minwu. I am… so sorry."

Minwu put his arm around her shoulders. "You are my student to your very core," he said. "Because that is exactly what I would do, if I felt the way you do."

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