Ch 6, part 6
"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.
At first, it was marshland. They weren't so bad, what with the miles of absolutely nothing but holes in the ground filled with mud. No creatures to hunt, but no creatures that would smell you and try to eat you if you weren't in some smell-proof shelter by sundown, either. And, now, it was mountains. Well, no, more like a cliff. Cantirena's observation the day before was right on the mark, and at that point, Clarisse and Candice both were very tired of making an entirely vertical climb. But, not all hope was lost, as Cantirena loved to remind the group, because they came closer to the top.
"Hey, look," Cantirena said as she pulled herself up onto the last ledge she could see. "You can see the whole world from up here."
"I don't want to see the whole world," Candice grumbled. "I want to get back to civilization at some point." She was on the ledge moments after Cantirena was, and the two of them helped Clarisse up, then Minwu.
The four of them were taken aback by the beautiful landscape. Minwu was right. There was large jungle straight ahead of them. It looked like a sea of trees that waved with the wind, much like ocean waves. Skies were clear, not a single cloud above them. In the distance, there was a small town which sat right next to a large body of water.
"Is… is that Mysidia?" Cantirena asked, pointing at it.
"It is," Minwu answered. "That is the Holy Mecca itself, the one and only Mysidia."
"Whoa," Clarisse breathed out in amazement. "How long do you think it'll take us to get there?"
"I believe that we should arrive in Mysidia within a day or two, provided we aren't slowed down by anything," Minwu said, giving a slight nod. He wasn't very happy about this, but he sounded like he was.
"I only have one question before we keep going," Candice asked. "Since I'm not trying to take this mage-entrance exam or what not, why is Mysidia treating me like I am? I mean, I'm just going along for the ride, right?"
"Oh, silly Candice," Minwu said, starting to walk along. "The Circle of Mages believes that if you are not coming because you are a student of its teachings, then you are an invader, and thus must be kept out to preserve the Mysidian way."
Candice groaned dejectedly as she followed him. She wasn't an invader! When she got to Mysidia, she felt like she was going to have to give a very passionate speech to this mage group about trusting outsiders. It was almost too much to bear.
No longer were they on a mountain. It seemed as if they had actually climbed a plateau, which make walking forward much easier.
"Wait a minute," Clarisse said. "I just noticed something."
"You have?" Minwu asked. He didn't stop walking. He knew that once they made it to Mysidia everything was going to be all right. He would create, or maybe even find, a crystal to be able to shatter that damn Stone of Iliua. If Mateus followed them to Mysidia, then he might be able to break the Emperor free of the grasp of the Demon King first before taking it to Palamecia and ending this war forever.
"Is… is Mysidia in the center of a giant crater, or something?" she kept looking around. "You called them Winding Mountains, Minwu, but they really didn't wind that much into themselves. It looks more like we climbed the wall of a bowl, and everything sinks to where that big lake is. It looks very much like a really big crater."
"That's not a lake," Minwu answered. "That is the ocean. The Mysidian sea, to be precise. The mountains circle the entire sea, save for one place. The ships pass through there."
"We could have taken… ships." Candice looked ready to smack Minwu a good few times. "We could have sailed to Mysidia?! I swear, Minwu you like to make life difficult on purpose!"
"Heavens no," Minwu kept walking. "I'm talking about the Ghost ships."
"Those aren't just fairy tales?"
"Certainly not," Minwu said. "When we die, the ships take our souls to the realm of the afterlife." He turned to see that Cantirena was right there, but she hadn't been saying much of anything. Usually she was the first to ask questions and draw conclusions. "Cantirena, you had better study what's around you. I will quiz you on these things later."
Cantirena just looked at the dirt beneath her feet. "You should have warned me before we started this journey, Lord Minwu, I would have taken notes," she said almost passively. She didn't seem to have much emotions behind her words.
"You are not acting like yourself," Minwu said. "Have you nothing to say about this part of the world that you've never been to? You said yourself that you were excited to come here."
"Oh, I am…"
"Then what troubles you?"
She put her hands over her heart. "Minwu," she said very quietly. "I need you to promise me something before we go any further."
"I need you to tell me what's on your mind before I can," he said.
She didn't want to say anything. It hurt too damn much. "Promise me that you will not die," Cantirena said sternly. "Minwu, you must promise me, or I will not take another step further."
"My dear, it is the destiny of all men to die some day," Minwu said. "I cannot promise you that."
She sat down on the ground. "Then I'm not going anywhere."
"Cantirena…" Minwu sounded very annoyed by this. "You know it goes against Mysidian teachings-"
"This… this isn't about the Mysidian teachings," Cantirena snapped at him. "This is about you. I know what the scriptures say. And… And I know that you have lived by them for so long that you can't live any other way, but…" Her anger gave way to tears. "…but if you go in there and you confess about anything, they'll put you to death. If they find out anything about… about us, they'll put you to death for being an oath breaker, and… I couldn't bear that. If I don't have you as a rock to cling to, then I'm going to…"
"You aren't going to go back to Mateus," Minwu said gently. "No matter what happens to me."
"No, it matters what happens to you," Cantirena cried. "I need your support. I'm empty without it."
Candice couldn't take any more of this. She snatched Cantirena's wrist and forced her to stand. "It's time to stop," she said. "Really. You cling to your teacher like he's your missing father, and then you want to sit there and act like you're some kind of star-crossed lovers. Are you an adult, Canti? Minwu's not the only person in this world who cares about you, and he's not the only person in this world you care about, either. I understand that you're afraid. I understand that you don't know what to expect. That's perfectly all right. You've never been there before, and I hear they've got some very strict laws. But you can't do this. Minwu can't be the reason why you stand up for yourself, Canti. You have to stand up for yourself for you or it's all meaningless." Candice wrapped her arms around Cantirena. "He knows you love him, and you know he loves you. Sometimes, that's all you have to go on."
Clarisse was really impressed with that. She never had the courage to tell Cantirena anything like that before. She let her younger sister cling to anyone she could, even though it hurt her in the long run, and she felt bad about that. She wanted to add a follow up, but Candice put everything perfectly.
She's right, Clarisse thought. You can't save the world if the only reason you want to fight back is because of one person. It takes… much more drive than that. A self preservation, if nothing else.
Cantirena pulled away from Candice after a few minutes, dried her tears, and dusted off her dress. "Damn it," she said. "Why… why do you both always have to make more sense than me?"
"We're older than you," Clarisse said with a grin. "I think that's what it is."
"Maybe by a few minutes," Cantirena grunted. "We're triplets. Hell, we don't even know if we were born in a normal way, because… you know, our mother is a Goddess or something." She tried to keep a smiling face, but it was hard. She turned to start walking again, and when she caught up with Minwu, she didn't even turn to look at him, though she wanted to.
Minwu took the initiative, reaching over and taking her hand into his. He then leaned over and whispered in her ear, "I do not wish to die. If I can keep myself alive, then I will do it no matter what. I cannot promise that I will not die… but I will promise that if I can live, I will fight for it. Can you accept that?"
She smiled and kept walking, gripping his hand tighter.
I accept that, Cantirena thought. I… I love you, Minwu. Not just as my teacher, not just as a father-figure replacement. I… truly do love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life studying magic as your student and your bride. If you will fight to keep yourself alive, then I will, too. I'm… not a slave. I'm a person. I can make my own decisions… and Mateus will have to accept that, too.