Ch 7, part 1
"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.
CHAPTER SEVEN BEGINS
Mysidia was a beautiful place, though it was smaller than what everyone thought it would be. Every building was made of hand-shaped square bricks that looked more like white rocks than actual bricks. The people who lived within all seemed to wear similar clothes to Minwu, except for the few children they found. It looked more and more like those who were accepted into Mysidian culture wore these robes and turbans that covered everything but their eyes and the tops of their noses. Some wore colors other than black and white. In fact, after looking everything in the town over, it seemed that Minwu was the only one in the town wearing white… or had a piece of his body other than his eyes exposed.
The land itself smelled fresh and natural. There wasn't a single machine anywhere. On the ground, the same hand-shaped stones were made into lovely designs that didn't quite look like paths or roadways. It seemed as if having that kind of thing mapped out wasn't a big part of Mysidian culture, like it was back in the towns outside.
Say-Ri's chocobo carried Minwu and Cantirena over to the stable, where Clarisse helped her younger sister off before Minwu climbed off himself. Riding that chocobo bareback wasn't exactly easy, but he did what he felt he had to, and he wasn't going to complain about his tailbone aching. He had the option not to ride it.
"Thank you, Lady Say-Ri, for allowing us to ride the chocobo," Cantirena bowed very formally to her, just like she did in front of Princess Hilda the day she met the her first time. "Thank you for your generosity."
While her sisters gave her a look like they wanted to scream 'why the hell are you thanking that bitch!?', Say-Ri was taken aback by Cantirena's sudden gentleness. There was much more than meets the eye to this young one, and after observing her during that walk, it made some sort of warped sense that Minwu would take her as his student.
"You have no need to thank me," Say-Ri replied. "I was only doing what I felt needed to be done."
It surprised Candice that she didn't come back with some sort of sharp retort, but she let it slide. Perhaps Minwu putting her in her place made her realize that this wasn't some sort of vacation, because if it was, how she wanted to be somewhere less… stuffy. Candice looked around the place, and for someone with heels, a low collar, and a short tight-fitting miniskirt barely covering her behind when she bent over, she felt rather naked to be out where people could see her. She never had that kind of feeling typically, and it drove her nuts.
"Lady Say-Ri," Minwu said, "Is my cottage still intact?"
"Aye," Say-Ri said somewhat dismissively, taking the chocobo and putting him into the stable. "Shall I alert the Circle of Mages to know that you have returned with your student?"
"Mmm," Minwu shook his head to that. Who knows what she was going to say? After all this time, he didn't trust that woman to do right by him. She never did before, why would she now? "No, I will make the rounds myself. Come, girls. There is no inn here, so I will have you take up residence in my home."
Wow, Cantirena thought as the girls followed him through the town. I was made to believe that Mysidia is a town full of wonderment… this town actually gives me the creeps. She had to resist the urge to hold his hand and to be affectionate on him. She stood behind him a little bit, trying to take in the town itself. It seemed more like a village than anything else. Turning to her left, she could see the body of water that was so clear from the top of the mountain they spent so long climbing, and that's when she saw something taller than anything she'd ever seen before.
"Teacher," she said, catching Minwu's attention. "What is… that?"
"That is the Mysidian Tower. It's the tallest man-made structure in our world and the symbol of Mysidia itself," Minwu explained. "The real name for it is actually the Tower of the Magi, but no one calls it that anymore."
"Oh." Cantirena looked at him. "Excuse me for asking, but what's a magi?"
"It's call the Tower of the Magi, right?" she asked. "So what's it named after?"
"Now that is a history lesson that will take all day to explain," Minwu said, pulling her into his small house with her sisters. "And I would gladly teach you all about it-" he shut the door behind him, placing a large blue stone against it to prevent anyone from opening it without him knowing "-but now is not the time to recount the days of old, my student."
Minwu's home may have been small, but it was packed with things. There was one bed, a stove, one corner filled with a stack of books so high that it reached the ceiling, a bookshelf crammed with even more reading material, and another set of shelves full of all kinds of bottles that smelled like ten-year-old spices that only grew richer with time. He closed all of the windows. Well, the ones he could get to, as one window was blocked by the stack of books, and there was no way he could get in there without having to spend hours sorting these things.
"It's Minwu's house all right," Clarisse said, smiling.
"It's smaller than I expected," Candice said, only making Cantirena extremely annoyed. Then she giggled, "I was expecting a library bigger than the Dreadnaught Warship, that's why."
"If I had the time to build a library that big, I would be ignoring other important matters," Minwu said, taking the opportunity to give Cantirena a real hug for a moment. He squeezed her with all his strength, which was quite amazing for one who spent all his life training in magic. "I've been needing to do this for a while," he whispered to her. "I've been wanting to do nothing but be affectionate to you for the last day or so."
"And here I thought you had some composure," Cantirena said very quietly, pulling him into a kiss. "But we should stop though, or I will throw you into your bed and take you against your will. Don't… don't take this too far, Minwu, you told me not to…" She felt a nip on her ear. She fell against him and wished she could just do what she wanted. "…you told me not to get affectionate, so… why are you? Damn you, you're gonna make me take you by force, aren't you?"
"You can't rape the willing," Candice said, turning away from them. "Come on, you two. Get a room."
"We're in a room," Cantirena said with a deadpan expression. "In fact, this is Minwu's house. So, technically…"
"So, Minwu… what exactly did you want to bring up to the Circle of Mages?" Clarisse asked, making him quit with the constant kissing and snap back to attention on the matters at hand. She laughed at him very quietly. She never imagined she would see the usually quiet and somewhat stoic Minwu affectionate in that sort of way with anybody.
"Ah, yes," Minwu said, reaching into the item pouch. "We come to address the Circle of Mages about stopping the war at its source – the Stone of Iluia. The only thing that can dispel something of such concentrated evil is a crystal. Now. Traditionally, I would take Cantirena around town and introduce her to everyone, but right now, I am more concerned with finding the Great Sage. Forgive me for being unorthodox, my student, but I-"
"You don't have to apologize about anything," Cantirena said, also sticking her hands into the item pouch.
"There is no way to lock a door, as we here in Mysidia do not use this custom," Minwu said. "I will enchant this door so that I am the only one who can open it. I want you three to stay inside."
"Well if you're the only one who can open it," Candice said with a smartass grin on her face, "Then I really don't think you have anything to worry about."
"Candice…" Minwu started, sounding somewhat annoyed.
"Yes?" Candice asked.
He chuckled. "Don't ever change."
Minwu kissed Cantirena on the forehead, whispering something in a language no one ever heard him speak in before. It caught them all by surprise. Then he turned to walk out. "Feel free to make yourselves at home. Rest, eat… but for the love of Cosmos, do me a favor and don't be too loud with your incessant prattling."
"Wait," Cantirena said, reaching into her pocket. "I… want to you have this." She pulled out a necklace that she had never shown to anyone before. "It's an Amulet of Protection. My father gave it to me the day I officially became your student, because he was so afraid that I was going to hurt myself somehow. I've never taken it out of my pocket since."
"You should keep it," Minwu said gently. "It was a gift from your father-"
"No, Minwu. Take it. Please. I'm under your protection…" she looked at the charm, which was a heart embroidered with lovely, shining runes. "But you have no one to protect you."
Minwu nodded and placed it inside a pocket inside his cape. He patted it to show her exactly where it was kept: right over his heart. "I will return it to you when we are reunited." Again he spoke in a tongue no one could recognize, then he kissed her forehead yet again. "I love you. Be safe."
"No worries," Clarisse said. "We'll be fine."
He looked like he didn't want to walk out the door, but he did anyway. When he was outside, he cast a seal on it. Everyone inside could hear Minwu's footsteps as he headed away from the tiny house.
Cantirena smiled, turning away from the door. She reached into the item pouch and pulled out a cot. "I'm bushed," she said sleepily. "Best way to stay quiet? Napping."
"Something about this place is telling me we shouldn't be here," Candice said. "I know you promised Minwu you're gonna stay put-"
"So did you," Clarisse interjected.
"-hush!" Candice grunted. "This place just… oozes creepy. I mean, the clothes they're wearing… is it not weird to not see any skin on anyone except for what's around their eyes? Don't you feel the energies in the ground?"
"Of course I do," Cantirena said. "If you knew anything about Mysidia, you would know that those are lay lines. They're natural channels of magic power which are gathered here. Why do you think this is known as the Magic Kingdom? Those who live here learn to live by the flow of the lay lines and use them appropriately."
"You don't know anything about Mysidia…" Candice said, cocking up an eyebrow. "How do you know that?"
"I read it in Minwu's book…" Cantirena said, stretching out on the cot. "The Mysidian Tome of Mages. He had me studying it the day of… the massacre of Fynn."
No one knows the importance of that tome. Not even Minwu. When I couldn't remember him, I remembered the words in that book. That's why it will always be important to me. Always.