Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 7, part 2

"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 2

Mateus didn't sit in his cockpit. Well, no, he did, but he was floating in a seated position. The only chair he believed good enough for his perfect royal rump just happened to be his throne, and there was no way he'd be able to move that from his lovely palace back home, considering it was made of stone. The knights around him worked tirelessly and without complaint, leaving the Emperor to float there in his thoughts. He had been trying to reconnect with Cantirena again, but for the last few hours, she was unreachable for some reason. Even if she was in Mysidia, which would be entirely possible by now, she should still be easy to contact through her dreams. Either Cantirena didn't sleep, or the Mysidian Circle of Mages decided to protect her further than what the oh-so-highly thought of Lord Minwu was capable of. Still, it did not matter. He was heading in that direction.

He could feel the presence of his newly acquired ninja come in the room from behind him. Mateus turned and almost gave Paul a half-smile, but decided against it. "I take it your bride is comfortable," he said quietly.

"As comfortable as she can be, Your Grace," Paul said. He bowed down onto one knee, hating with every inch of his body the fact that he had to. "Thank you."

"We made a deal. I do not go back on my word. One could even call me trustworthy," Mateus said, putting his hands together under his chin. "I'd like to ask you a few things, regarding what happened in Altair."

"I will tell you what I know," Paul said, standing back up. He cleared his throat. How exactly was he going to go about this? "…I was given the explicit order to burn down the village. Every building within it was to be set aflame."

"Who gave you the order?"

Paul took a deep breath. "I was given the assignment through my previous employer, which is an agency of secret assassins."

Mateus found that particularly amusing. "Assassins," he mused somewhat playfully. "Where are they based?"

"Deist," Paul's reply was instant.

"It's a good thing you've found a new employer," Mateus said. He laughed very quietly, though it did not last long. "Now. Your assignment for me is simple. We will be close to Mysidia within a few hours. I cannot land there because there is anti-machine barrier of some sort around the Magic Kingdom. I want you to nullify this barrier for me. When this is done, you shall have a new assignment." He pointed to a map which was lying on a table nearby. "I haven't the slightest idea why there is a barrier around Mysidia like this, but I want you to find it and destroy it."

"Understood, my liege," Paul said, bowing once again.

"Oh, and Paul," Mateus said when Paul started to get up. "I don't like it when people lie to me. If I find you have lied to me, I will not hesitate to take your life."

"Sire, I am but a pawn," Paul said. "And pawns can only move forward. Is that not right?"

"So you understand."

"Understand?" Paul asked. "I'll put it in terms easy for you to understand and short enough to not waste your time, Your Highness. I've never been my own man, and I never will be. Only men with power are truly free in this world of ours. Everyone else? They are merely pieces on the chessboard to be manipulated by whatever their Goddess given talents are." He shrugged. "Why fight against the natural order of things? Seems like too much stress to me."

Mateus nodded in agreement. "It warms my heart to hear you say that. I have high hopes for you, Paul."

"High hopes," the ninja repeated. "Thank you."

"Oh… wait," Mateus said. "You'll be leaving on your assignment."

"Uh, sire?"

Mateus snapped his fingers and one of the guards suddenly grabbed Paul out of nowhere. "I know you have the ability to fly like a human kite," he said. "So there's no need to land for you." He gave the nod, and Paul was carried to the deck of the airship and promptly thrown off.

Paul had never fallen so fast before. He pulled on some strings that stuck out of his pants and quickly untied his scarf. Out of the back of his shirt popped two large wings made of the same material as his black outfit. It was strapped onto him like something of a backpack. Though he lost his favorite yellow scarf in that tussle, he was soon gliding along the wind, headed due east.

"Wha… what… I damn near pissed myself falling so suddenly…" Paul gasped. "What the fuck was that, Empy?! Oh… I am not going to forgive you for this. Ever!"

The three girls sitting inside Minwu's house were quiet after a while. Cantirena stretched out on her cot, falling asleep as soon as her head was parallel to her feet. Clarisse started to pick up a few of the book sitting in the gigantic pile in the corner of the room, reading through them. Candice wasn't sure what to do. She sat by herself, studying the daggers that Paul had given her and wondering how he was doing. When she turned to look around the room again, she looked at Cantirena.

"Hey, Canti. You okay?"

Cantirena only gave a snore in reply.

"She can't hear you," Clarisse said with a shrug. "Right now she's snuggled up with Minwu nude under the moonlight, listening to his heartbeat, and enjoying the peace of it all."

"I'll bet," Candice said, smiling. "That sounds like it would be heaven for both of them."

"Oh, I know..." Clarisse said, looking back at the book she picked up. "I never imagined we'd be in a situation like this, you know. I… was training in the sword. I was going to stay there and become a White Knight of Fynn. But Canti couldn't stay in that little town, no. The world had too much for her to explore, too much for her to learn, and she wanted to learn it. That was her plan. Going around, studying magic with Minwu, sending the family letters every new place she arrived in… until she found a new home, a new life…"

"It makes me wonder if she had a crush on Minwu even back then," Candice said. "She mentioned that she fell in love with the then Prince of Palamecia, but I wonder if before then, she had a very innocent crush on Minwu. I know of other students who had feelings for their teachers when they were young."

"Now that you mention it, the way she spoke of Minwu as a child was very much like that… I never would have thought of that," Clarisse laughed at herself in hindsight. "But I guess as she grew older… feelings grew deeper."

"She's lucky, though."

"Oh? Why would that be?"

"The one man in the world who knows her best, has been around her practically all her life and has taken care of her as a surrogate parent and a teacher is also the man she loves the most and wants to spend her life with," Candice explained. "And he accepts that fact."

"You say that with a sort of melancholic voice," Clarisse said.

"If only the men I knew who knew me the best were as gentle and sweet as Minwu…"

"Are you jealous?"

"Slightly. Canti's a gentle girl. I know why the Emperor fucked her up royally. She wasn't ready for that. The only world she'd been exposed to was full of love and understanding. I'm not sure if that tyrant even knows what those concepts are," Candice sighed. "Like she demonstrated before, she can't find the light to cast a cure spell anymore. Do you know what this means? That monster killed a part of her. He didn't just take her virginity and her sense of innocence. Oh, no. It runs much, much deeper than that. White magic can't fix what happened to her. I imagine that only a pure love could, maybe, with time undo that devil's handiwork."

"You… you really hate the Emperor."

"I do. Having stolen my father's technology, turned my hometown into nothing but bedrock, and put me away in a slave camp, do you blame me? Then, on top of all that… it's not just a war thing or a politics thing. He hurts people on such a very deep level and doesn't give a damn," Candice said angrily. "He doesn't need to just be stopped. The Emperor should be put to death for all he's done."

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