Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 5, part 5

"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 5

Firion, Gordon, and Cid made their way to the rock pile that used to be Paloom. They hated themselves and their lack of ability to do anything. Sure, it wasn't their fault that they weren't making it to Deist on time to help the Dragoons prepare for the attack, but they all felt like they were to blame somehow. The sun was up by now, bringing the tweeting birds in the nearby trees with it.

Firion couldn't help but wonder how his younger sisters were doing. Minwu was fully capable of protecting anyone, as that was his job as a white mage, but who knows what kind of trouble they could be getting into? Part of him wished he was assigned to give Minwu assistance instead of going to Deist. Besides that, he'd never been to Deist. How would he know what Deist was like? Why was he the one who was put in charge of the mission? And why was Cid, of all people, told to assist him? Cid was the Wild Rose Rebellion's ferryman. Didn't people need to be taken places?

"Well, howdy there," a female voice called from the Paloom town gate. "Look who it is. I've not seen ya'll in a long time now."

"Hey," Firion said, cocking his head to the side. "I remember you…" He found the purple haired girl wearing the green bandanna who said she worked for Cid back when they were heading to Salamand some time ago.

"I'm sure ya do, what with how gorgeous I am and everything," the lady said, blowing him a kiss. Firion blushed, and Cid rolled his eyes. She looked at the three together, noticing that the party was completely different. She planned on getting her revenge on Minwu, but he wasn't there. And the girl was missing, too. "Hmm? You missin' somebody, sugar?"

"Missing someone?" Gordon asked. "Firion, who is this girl?"

"Now, now, don't cut in line, pretty boy," she said, leaning over at him. "You'll get your turn, blondie."

"Turn?" Gordon was flabbergasted.

Firion looked at Cid. "Don't you know her?"

Cid crossed his arms. "Lelia," he said, "Stop… flirting with my companions."

Leila straightened herself back up, giving Cid a salute. "H-hey, boss! I didn't even see ya there."

"I'm sure you didn't," Cid grunted. "I'm traveling with two much younger men than myself who look much better than I do. You're not the type to try to go after men who are twice your age, now are you?" He gave her a very stern glare. This woman was well known among all the young men who served in his airship crew over the years. She earned quite a bit of his coin through them.

"Go… after?" Gordon asked, wondering exactly what Cid was referring to.

"Oh, Prince Gordon…" Cid said, putting his hand on Gordon's shoulder. "Your innocence is certainly charming. So, Leila, what are you doing up here?"

"I saw an airship crash," Lelia answered. "I came to find out what was going on. Turns out, it's you, boss! Well, isn't that just hilarious!"

This girl… she really seems to be overacting, Gordon thought. Like she's trying to cover something up…

"I don't know," Cid said, putting his hands on his hips. "All right. Yours is the only ship we've got left, and my boys here are on an important assignment. I need you to take us to Deist."

"Ya really wanna head to that warzone, boss?" Leila asked, shocked to hear that. "That ship that attacked ya? That's where it went."

Cid glared at her again. "If you do it, I'll forgive your debt."

"All of it, boss?" Leila exclaimed.

"Yep," Cid said. "Take us to Deist."

"Done and done!" Leila said, jumping for joy. "After I drop your asses off on that dragon's nest of an island, I'm a free woman once again! Yeehaw!"

"No," Cid said very quietly. "You're going to stick with us as our ferry until this assignment is complete. Then you'll be a free woman."

Leila's shoulders sank. She was a very expressive woman, if nothing else. "Oh all right, boss… I'll stick around until the assignment is complete…"

"Good," Cid said, looking at his two traveling companions. "So let's set sail, shall we?"

"Yes!" Gordon and Firion both said at the same time.

Cantirena woke up several times while trying to take her nap. Each time she felt a tad bit worse. What with that damn dream stuck in her head, she wasn't able to rest much at all. Every time she sat back up, Minwu looked over at her, unsure of what to think about the whole thing.

"Have you come down with something?" he asked, coming closer to her. "You've been tossing and turning quite a bit. You're beginning to worry me."

"No, no, Teacher, I'm-" she threw the sheet over her head.

Please don't come over here right now… Please don't look at me…

"Get out from under there," Minwu said, lifting the blanket up to see that Cantirena was staring at the cot beneath her. "You know it's bad to breathe in air from under… Cantirena? Are you listening to me?"

Go away, teacher…

"Something is troubling you," he said gently. "I am your teacher and guardian. The least you could do is be honest with me." When he put his hand on her, she shuddered and pulled away. He certainly didn't expect that reaction. Cantirena was always the type to be affectionate towards him. She had never once refused contact from him. "Cantirena…?"

"It's… it's nothing," she whispered. "Don't worry about me, I… I'll be fine."

"Your heart is racing. You're red in the face, maybe even a little feverish," Minwu said. "I don't want you to get sick, especially while we're traveling. Tell me what hurts. You've never had a problem with opening up to me before."

"You can't heal this," Cantirena answered.

"Sometimes, the best healing does not involve magic," Minwu said, reaching to touch her again. "I don't know what you went through while in the hands of the Empire. I don't know if you're having flashbacks of horrors you witnessed there…" He felt better when she let him put his hands on her back. Maybe he could talk to her to get her to talk about her feelings after all. "…or if the Demon King still has some connection to you, even after the power of the Goddess was able to free you from his grip? You've not talked about anything like that, but I know it still affects you."

"Lord Minwu, if only it were that simple," she replied. "If only… it were that simple, to just be flashbacks or my body feeling like it's trapped in that hell again…" A few moments passed before she said anything. "Can you do me a favor?"

"I'm sure I can…"

"Cast your sleeping spell on me," Cantirena said, looking back at him. "I need to sleep while we can, and… I'm afraid that my thoughts are keeping me awake."

"Now, Cantirena, remember about knowing the right time to use mag-"

She felt her eyes burning with tears. "Let me sleep a dreamless sleep, please. I don't want to hold anyone back while we're traveling. I don't want to be the weakest link in the team anymore. These thoughts are driving me crazy. The things I've thought. It's torture." Her tears glided down her cheeks, dripping off at the end. "Cosmos help me…"

Minwu wiped off her tears with his hands. "I'm afraid that only She can at this point. Like I've failed you in more ways than one," he whispered. "I'm so sorry, my student. I should have gone back for you myself during the attack on Fynn." As he pulled her closer, he reluctantly cast his sleeping spell on her, watching her go from a sad, desperate face to one of an emotionless sleep. Her head landed on his leg, and he put his hand in her hair. "Forgive me. I hope you find reprieve in your rest."

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