Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 6, part 4

"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 4

Cantirena rubbed her eyes. She remembered falling asleep against Minwu, but she had no idea how long she'd been asleep. The sun was on its way up, and the light poured through the cloth tent. She sat up, noticing that everyone else was still sleeping. It was curious to notice that she woke up before everyone. Typically, Minwu let her sleep the latest. She dare not venture outside without anyone, especially considering the sun wasn't up completely, and it was hard to shake the jitters from that wolf-like creature from last night.

She pulled herself to a stand, stretching upward as far as she could. Cantirena was not typically a morning person, but something felt different about today.

My lady, a voice echoed through her mind. You have heard me call out to you. I am overjoyed to see you awake.

"Huh?" she asked. "Who's there?"

You don't remember my voice? Now you've gone and broken my tender heart.

Cantirena looked around. There wasn't anyone but her two sleeping sisters and Minwu inside the tent. This was more than freaky.

"The Emperor," she said.

I much preferred it when you affectionately called me 'Your Grace', but it brings a smile to my face to know that you remember me. Yes, I am the Emperor of this world, and your beloved. I know where you're going, and I can see through your eyes. Minwu has done a magnificent job breaking the Demon King's possession. I commend the man for what he has done, but your journey is at an end, my lovely lady. It is time for you to come home.

"I… I don't belong to you!" Cantirena shouted angrily. "Get out of my head!"

Instantly, Minwu shot straight up. He ran to his student's side. "What is it?" he asked. "Come here, let me take a look at you."

She turned to look at her teacher. "He's in my head," she said. "He's talking to me… in my head."

The healer might be a great man of wonderful talent, but he cannot keep you from me.

"Shut up, Mateus!" Cantirena screamed, making both of her sisters come out of their cots in a hurry.

How rude of you to call me by my birth name! I do not wish to have to punish you, my lady. That would not be in your best interest.

"Telepathy," Minwu said. "He's talking to you through your mind? There's no other explanation. And here I thought that was a technique reserved for men blessed by the Goddess herself." He put his arms around Cantirena, making her face him. "Mateus, if you can hear me, I want you to know that when I see you, I will not hesitate to kill you. You have caused my student, and the world, enough harm to deserve it."

"Exactly what's going on here?" Clarisse asked.

"I'm not quite sure myself," Candice answered.

I accept your challenge, White Mage Minwu. But, when I have you cornered and unable to escape, I'm going to fuck your student right in front of you until you beg me to kill you... Well, I suppose I'll let you get along with your day, my lady. Know that I am on my way, once I investigate the ruins of what used to be Altair. It seems even the rebels had enough of the rebellion, too. Be well, Cantirena.

When the presence had left her mind, Cantirena fell over onto Minwu. He hugged her close. "Tell me what happened," he said. "Let's talk this out before we do anything else."

She took comfort in his presence. "I woke up much earlier than usual," she said. "It was strange because I never wake up early."

"Yeah, you're the heaviest sleeper I've ever met," Clarisse said. "You and Firi both could sleep through a multi-Flare fallout."

Cantirena continued. "And then I heard his voice, saying that he was glad that he was able to wake me from my sleep, like he had been trying to. The conversation wasn't much until he said that he is on his way. He may not be able to sense my presence anymore, but when he tries, he says he can see through my eyes. Because of that, he knows where we are."

"Now that's stalking," Candice said with a frown. "He doesn't even have to physically follow you like the normal kind."

"There's a normal kind of stalker?" Clarisse asked as she crossed her arms.

"Most of them are deranged, but typically they're not connected to your brain like the Emperor just happens to be connected to Canti at the moment," Candice explained.

"But… that's not what scares me the most," Cantirena said, closing her eyes. "He… said that Altair is in ruins."

"ALTAIR?!" Minwu, Clarisse, and Candice all gasped at the same time.

"…that's what he said," Cantirena muttered.

"Don't believe him. He's a monster," Candice said forcefully. "He just wants to psych you out. Stalkers are like that. They want control over every aspect of you, including your fear levels."

"It… sounds like you've got knowledge of this," Minwu thought aloud. "Have you… stalked anyone before?"

"No, but I have dealt with a few in my time," Candice said. She sounded somewhat proud of that, but truthfully, she wasn't. Stalkers were scary business, and just talking about it again sent shivers down her spine that she'd rather not explain to anyone. "So, now we have undeniable proof that the Emperor is obsessed with Canti to an unhealthy level. Well. Not like we didn't all ready have that in mind, of course. My big question, and I even asked this of Paul when we were in Palamecia together… this is what gets me about the great Emperor or whatever he likes to call himself... Exactly what does he have to gain by marrying a village girl like Cantirena? No offense to you, Canti."

"None taken," Cantirena said. "Well, he and I did meet before the fall of Fynn, back when he was just a prince. I… made the foolish mistake of falling in love at first sight with Mateus. He was the most handsome man I'd ever seen in my life, his voice made my heart melt, his speech was inspiring during that council. When I got to talk to him, he was so nice to me. He was polite, even to a little mage-in-training like me."

"I do not believe that he also fell in love with you," Minwu said very gently. "He, like I did when I first met you, must have sensed your incredible magic potential. My student, I am of the belief that he manipulated your heart so you would work for him. I… find it very hard to believe that royalty would ever consider a village girl for a wife, especially with a prestigious family like that of Palamecia's."

"That's what I thought," Candice said. "Bingo! That man is trying to use you, Canti. You better not go back to him, I'll kill you myself over that stupidity."

"I'll help her!" Clarisse added. "With fuckin' bazooka spells and shit. Castin' Flare everywhere like I just don't care, because at that point, I won't."

"You don't even know any spells," Cantirena retorted. "So shut your trap."

"Oh I'll learn 'em. I'll learn 'em all." Clarisse said. "Minwu will be my teacher and he'll teach me how to blow you to kingdom come to show you how dumb you are for going back to an abusive psychopath."

"Minwu is my teacher! Go get your own!"

"I think if you go back to the Emperor, you're giving up your position as Minwu's student," Clarisse said. "So you better think about that before considering."

Cantirena hugged onto Minwu. "I'm not sharing my teacher."

Minwu just shrugged in response. "You're such a selfish girl, aren't you?" he asked, putting his arms around her in turn. "You don't want to share me with anyone in any way. I can give lessons to your sisters without implications of other things. If we must fight you in the future, then… yes, I will teach them how to beat you so we can bring you back home."

"See?!" Candice asked. "He knows what we're talking about!"

"It's not like we're out to steal your lover," Clarisse said. "I mean, I know Minwu's a hottie under all that turban and robes, but I'm not gonna take your man from you, that's just wrong."

"Is that what you're afraid of?" Candice asked. "Don't worry, don't worry! We might learn spells from him, but we're not going to learn the Karma Sutra from him! I am not a man stealer, honey!"

"You two are terrible…"

All three girls laughed, diffusing the tension left behind after that unique experience.

"By the way… teacher, he… accepted your challenge," Cantirena said, gripping onto him tighter than she had been.

"I bet he did. He's a pompous man."

"And… a cruel one," she whispered, pulling him down so she could whisper the rest in his ear. She would dare not say the rest of that out loud.

Suddenly, Minwu's peaceful face turned vengeful. "Come, the day has just started. We must continue our quest towards Mysidia. If we plan it just right, by the end of the day, we should find the jungles very soon."

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