Ch 6, 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.
Altair was nothing but ashes. There were no people, no buildings, nothing. The only thing that still stood upright was the water fountain, and even it had pieces missing. Paul was the only person left behind, and he was hidden up in a tree about one hundred feet away, sobbing his heart out when he heard the sound of an airship coming in for a landing.
It worked, he thought, wiping his face. But… but she didn't have to…!
The airship did indeed belong to the Empire. That flag was unmistakable. The one person who came out of it was the Emperor. He didn't even bring any knights out with him, and that seemed very strange. Paul could see very well that His Imperial Majesty was looking around everywhere for something that would give him conclusive evidence that the rebels were gone.
"I do not appreciate those who lurk in the shadows," Mateus called out. "I can sense you. Come out."
Paul believed that the Emperor was addressing him, but no, he found someone else. A little blue-green haired girl who looked barely over fourteen, Paul knew her. She was at the party after Cantirena's healing. She was Master Tobul's granddaughter, Krystal!
Oh shit, Paul thought, hopping down silently from the tree. The hell is she doing here?!
Coincidentally, that was the same question Mateus had for the girl as well.
"May I ask you what you're doing here?" he asked her quietly. "Speak up, little one."
Krystal fell to her knees. "I came because… this is my home," she cried. "Because I don't want to move again…"
Mateus wasn't the type to care for children and certainly not the ones that were stubborn about things. She was a tiny little thing, though. "Do you have a family?" he asked.
Paul was sweating bullets. If she even mentions Galtea, we're fucked…
"N…no," she answered. "My Grandfather kicked me out of his home… and my parents are dead…"
Master Tobul did WHAT? Paul thought, creeping closer. He wouldn't ever do that!
Mateus shook his head sadly. "If no one will miss you, I will do you a favor," he said, raising his hand. He started to charge up a spell, which made Krystal put her forehead into the dirt, shaking with fear.
Not another! Paul thought angrily. Not another on my watch!
Paul leapt out of the trees, pulling a shuriken out of his pocket and tossing it at the Emperor's hand. "Hey," he shouted. "Pick on someone your own size!"
Mateus turned to look at the ninja, clad in all black except for the lovely yellow scarf he had tied around his neck. He caught the shuriken with the hand he was casting with, dropping it on the ground. "…did you write that yourself?" he asked mockingly.
"Nope," Paul said, getting into battle position. He drew the Wing Sword into his left hand and had plenty more shuriken-knives in his right. "I stole that from a fairy tale. Catchphrases are not my strong suit, Your Majesty. Leave the girl alone. If you want something to kill, try taking me out."
"I remember you," Mateus said, slowly walking away from the cowering Krystal. "Were you planning on sneaking aboard my ship again?"
"Wow, wrong again," Paul said, staring the tall sorcerer down. "Actually, I wasn't planning on letting you know I was here, but… I can't let any girls die while I'm around. It's… something of a promise I made."
"Were you here when Altair burned to the ground?" Mateus asked.
"Was I here?" Paul asked, shrugging. "Are you kidding? I torched the place myself."
"Isn't that surprising," Mateus thought aloud, walking closer. "You are a crafty man. I commend you for your courage to face me, when the matter did not concern you. Will you work for me?"
Paul wanted to scream at the man who posed that question. Of all the things to ask! The problem was, he wanted to make sure Krystal survived. He wanted to make sure Princess Hilda's sacrifice meant something. And… this gave him a chance to mess things up on the inside.
"Well?" Mateus asked. "Will you work for me?"
"Aye, Your Majesty," Paul said, bowing his head, "On one condition."
"What is it do you wish? Wealth? Land? Hereditary Titles? Women?"
Paul shook his head very carefully. "I'm a real simple man, sire. I'm only gonna ask you to spare that girl's life."
"But the poor thing has no family," Mateus said. "I would rather not see her starve and suffer alone, so it is best that I show her mercy."
"But…" Paul had to think of something. "I… If it please you, let me take her."
"You fancy this girl?" Mateus asked. "I sincerely doubt she's even bled yet."
"Just imagine what she'll be like when she has," Paul said. "I will take her as my payment for working for you. If… if you approve." He put all of his weaponry away.
I am so sorry, Krystal. I did not mean for it come to this… he thought. I swear that I will see you home.
Mateus nodded. "Very well. Bring your lovely bride on board. I have a mission to complete and not much time to do it in," he said. "When we return to Palamecia, she will be seen to properly." The Emperor turned to go back into his ship.
"Thank you very much, Your Majesty," Paul said. He walked over to Krystal and pulled her up. "Come along now. I just saved your life, missy. Please don't make this any harder than it has to be."
Krystal looked up at Paul, who was probably an entire fifteen years older than she was. He looked older than almost anyone in the entire rebellion, except for Cid. She couldn't believe he even made an offer like that to the Emperor. "Are… you going to sell me to him, like you did your beliefs?" she asked very quietly.
"I didn't sell him anything. I did it to save your life." Paul retorted. "What were you doing out here by yourself?"
"Fancy you should ask that question, you lousy no-good traitor," Krystal said. When she got up, she slapped him across the face. "I'm not going aboard a ship that belongs to the Emperor, Paul! That man got my parents killed! That man destroyed our home, not once, but twice."
"You will if you want to survive," Paul snatched her arm. "I'm not doing this to capture you. I'm doing this to protect you. And if you just understood what I went through the last day or so, you'd understand why." He led her onto that ship, even though she resisted. His volume never went above a whisper. "Listen to me. If you don't want the Emperor to turn you into a skid mark in the dust, you'll do as you're told. You will go home. Maybe not today, maybe not in a week, but I swear I will get you home to Master Tobul."
"Trouble between lovebirds…" Mateus almost laughed at that. It was so clear that Paul saved a girl that didn't want his saving. He found it entertaining, if nothing else. "…will only create issues later on."
"There is no trouble," Krystal said quietly, bowing her head down. "F-forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive, considering that finding you was of use after all," Mateus said. "Take your lovely bride to rest, then we will talk over everything…"
"Sire, my name is Paul," Paul said.
"…I do not care of your names," Mateus grunted at him. "But… I will keep it in mind."