Ch 1, Part 6
"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all original characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fanfiction. There is no profit being made from this story.
The sun was on its way down, and knowing how the monsters were ravaging the countryside, Minwu advised Clarisse and Firion to stay at the inn in Galtea. He could feel them stirring more than they did in the daytime. Yes, they had to get back to Fynn to report to Princess Hilda as soon as possible, but the wise mage decided that it would be done safely. After all, the three of them managed to sneak into Fynn, which was heavily guarded by Imperial Troops. It was worth the trouble.
The inn had food to serve thanks to the bartender that gave Minwu that parchment carrying all he could on his way out. Clarisse and Firion helped the little girl who was running the Galtea inn make enough food to feed everyone in not only their traveling party, but for her family as well.
Minwu ate, but while conversation about the state of the world kept going at the table, he got up and walked outside, letting the cold air from Lake Fynn hit him. He needed time to be alone. He found an old stump of a tree that must have been somewhere over two hundred years old and sat on it, using the jewel on the tip of his staff to create just enough light to see the parchment he pulled out of his pocket.
His assessment before was not wrong. It was nothing more than class notes in Cantirena's very curly handwriting. The lecture he was giving that day was about feeling the flow of one's inner power. To any other person, it would have been rather meaningless. It was cleverly given to the bartender. Someone knew Minwu was going to get this paper. Someone wanted Minwu to know that Cantirena was indeed out of his reach, be her a prisoner or all ready dead.
It feels like only yesterday, but it was ten years ago to this very day. Minwu thought, closing his eyes. I remember hearing the signal from the town outside all the way from inside the castle. A building was on fire. King Gilbert requested that I go and assist, so I went. The townspeople were frightened. Apparently, the fire had come from almost nowhere. Right outside were a couple holding their daughter, crying and screaming out. They had another child who was missing. With a water spell, I was able to douse the fire. I stayed there to help many of the men take apart the rubble, and who did I find under all of it? A young Cantirena lay face down with her hands over her head, protected by a bright blue barrier. She was chanting. She didn't even notice that the fire was gone. I never knew a six year old child that could cast a Shell spell in all my years. I knew then that our destinies were linked.
Minwu opened his eyes and looked at the paper again. "Since that day when I declared you my student, I have watched you grow. It was like having a daughter of my own, in a way," he said, as if she was sitting there next to him. "I will never father my own."
When a hand tried to reach for Minwu, he shot up and thrust his staff back to hit whoever it was. The only person he found there was Clarisse, now with a fairly large bump on her forehead.
"Thanks, Minwu," she grunted. "It's nice to see you, too."
"I was lost in thought," he replied, sitting back down on the stump. "I forgot where I was." Then he motioned for her to come closer, and using his hands, he healed the bump almost instantly.
"I heard you talking to my sister," Clarisse said gently. "She may not be able to hear you directly, but she knows you care about her. She admires you. Your words will always find a way to her."
"You believe she is alive," Minwu said.
"Of course I do!" Clarisse exclaimed, putting her hands on her hips. "If you think about it, that piece of paper there is pretty much proof."
He shook his head. "Explain your reasoning," he said in the exact way he that he had said to Cantirena during every single one of their lessons in the past.
"Borghen betrayed us, according to Prince Scott. He was jealous of you and your rank within the royal court. He knows that Cantirena was your personal student. Everyone in the castle and in town knew that you were her teacher. You probably don't need me to tell you this. Cantirena is my twin, but she's much different from me. She had a hard time making friends and finding a place to belong. You gave her that. You had patience for her, more than anyone else." Clarisse is explained it the best she could.
"And?" Minwu asked, waiting for her to finish.
"It's like… the captain wanted to challenge you." She said. "It's hard for me to even think that my teacher could have betrayed Fynn, but when you put all the points together, they make a lot of sense. Borghen became my teacher after you became Canti's teacher. It made me happy that someone in the royal court would take interest in me, too, and it made my parents that much more happy that both of their children were of such talent. No one even expected it." Clarisse sat next to Minwu, her rump landing in a soft patch of grass. "I bet he has her locked away and left that paper as a challenge directly to you: Come save her, Minwu."
"I plan to do just that," Minwu replied. "I plan to find her and save her. At this point, she is my child. I will do everything in my power to bring her home safely."
Who knows what terrible things the Imperials have done to you? He thought. Treating you like a prisoner of war? Starving you? Goddess forbid, forcing themselves upon you?
"I've never seen that kind of look in your eyes. The one you had just now."
"…let's just say I think I've discovered exactly what the king meant by 'Fatherly Rage' when referring to the princess," Minwu said, looking down at her.
"It's okay that you feel that way. I know that Canti would be honored to know you consider her your daughter," Clarisse said calmly. "I know I am."
They sat there for a little while, under the faint light provided by Minwu's staff. They didn't talk about much, but Minwu didn't think they needed to.
"Teacher! Ohhhh, Teacher Minwu! I made this for you."
"Oh… it's a wreath of flowers."
"…now when did you get the time to gather flowers? You were supposed to be helping cleaning up the mess that you made, Cantirena."
"I did help with picking up the mess. But while I was picking up the broken pieces of glass, I also picked up the flowers that were in the vase I knocked over. I didn't know what else to do with them, so I wove them together. Because I… I wanted to say I'm sorry."
"It's all right. I forgive you. Next time, be more careful."
Minwu opened his eyes to see that he was inside the inn, in one of the beds inside the room they rented for the night. Clarisse snored in the bed across from his. Firion sat up next to a nightstand lit by one solitary candle.
"Can you not sleep?" Firion asked. "We'll be face to face with the Princess first thing tomorrow morning."
"I don't even remember falling asleep at all," Minwu said. "When did I-"
"I carried you," Firion answered his question. "You've been lost in thought since we left Fynn. It would be a stupid question to ask you if you plan to stay with us until we find that traitor and find Canti, right?"
"I have sworn to serve the Fynn Royal Family. I do not intend to break my vows. However, I… I hope that my duty aligns with my personal feelings," Minwu said, feeling his body pull him back to sleep even though he wanted to stay awake longer.
Firion blew out the candle and turned over. He was sleeping in a matter of seconds after he was turned onto his side.
The next morning came as any other morning did. Clarisse woke up before anyone else. The bartender from Fynn decided to stay at the inn to help run it, so things in the inn were much more organized. She woke up both Firion and Minwu and after breakfast, they were on the way back to Altair to report back to the Princess.