Ch 7, part 7
"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.
After the sun set in Mysidia, Minwu opened the door of his cottage to let the cool night air in. It was a refreshing breeze, coming in from the nearby sea. The full moon was out, keeping the circle of stones around the town's center aglow. It was a very beautiful sight, even if he didn't really care for it personally. Cantirena, Clarisse, and Candice were all in awe over it. As the night sky grew darker, and the stars came out, many mages started coming out of their own small cottages wearing robes of all sorts of colors.
Say-Ri stood by the front door of Minwu's cottage, refusing to let anyone enter or exit until things were ready. She was the one who gave the message to one of the mages, she was going to be the one to announce things. Say-Ri held the ceremonial traditions in her hands.
She turned to look into the doorway. "Are you ready?" she asked.
Minwu nodded. "I don't think the nervousness will fade away at any point…" he said.
"You've not been before the Circle since your graduation," Say-Ri reminded him quietly. "Of course you're going to feel this way. It's been twenty years since then."
"What?" Candice asked. "Minwu, exactly how… how old are you?"
Minwu shook his head. "That is not a matter of importance," he said dismissively. "I can't believe you'd ask a question like that at a time like this."
"Hey, you were the one who told me to never change," Candice retorted, looking away. She tried to put all of it together in her mind. He graduated twenty years ago, and he must have been a teenager when he graduated, at least. Cantirena mentioned that Minwu was an adult by the time they had met ten years ago. She thought about it, realizing that Minwu could very well be over 35 years old.
"Do not fret about his age," Say-Ri said to Candice. "He once took a sip of the fountain of youth. He hasn't aged past twenty. He looks just as gorgeous the day he left."
"The fountain of youth is real?" Candice asked, shocked again.
"Do not tease the poor girl," Minwu grunted. "There is no such thing."
"Well, you don't look a day over twenty," Cantirena said, smiling. "I'd almost believe it."
"Either way, my dears, the Circle of Mages is ready to proceed," Say-Ri said. "So we will start."
All the girls gave her a nod to signal they were also ready. Minwu looked at them, then looked at Say-Ri, then agreed with a nod of his own. "Proceed," he said.
Say-Ri stepped out in front of the house, raising her hands in front of her to bring the circle on the ground to a brighter glow. "I am the one who has called this meeting," she said loudly, catching all of the mages' attention with the depth and volume of her typically smooth and quiet voice. "I am Say-Ri, student of On-Ti, black mage of the Goddess' Chosen. I bring forth Ming-Wu, student of Lee-Chun, white mage of the Goddess' Chosen."
Minwu walked out of the house, giving the group a ceremonial greeting. "I am Ming-Wu," he said. "And I bring a message from the outside you all must hear."
"The failure?" one voice asked.
"Yes, Ming-Wu was the failure of Lee-Chun." Another said.
"My status and standing among the Mysidian rules matter not to me," Minwu said loudly. "Because I am here to show you that The Great Sage's prophecy has indeed come true. The night before the Great Sage's death, there was a massacre in the east. Fynn was destroyed by the onslaught of a man with horns dressed in pure gold, just as his vision foretold."
"How do you know of this?" one voice asked from the shadows.
"I was there," Minwu said. "I was of the employ of House Fynn, serving the royal family."
"A failure like you only brought them bad luck…"
Cantirena felt her anger surge, but Say-Ri put her hand up and stopped her from stepping out before she was announced.
Damn these stuffy traditions! She thought. They can't say it happened because Minwu was there! That's completely wrong!
"The Great Sage also foresaw our world being saved by three young girls with blue hair." Minwu put his hands up again and said "I am Ming-Wu, student of Lee-Chun, white mage of the Goddess' Chosen. I bring forth Cantirena, student of Ming-Wu, mage in training."
Say-Ri nodded to her, and Cantirena stepped out to where all of the mages could see her. They all murmured different things, and she couldn't tell if her reception was going well or not. It was all so confusing.
"Ming-Wu has a student," one of the mages said louder than the others, silencing the rest of the Circle. "It is hard to believe she has as much fortune as her teacher."
"That's right. A failure can only raise a failure," another said.
"My student has been to the capital of evil, where the Emperor of Palamecia resides," Minwu said. "She has seen first-hand exactly where the evil comes from."
"Oh? And why has the student of a white mage like you been to the place where this evil comes from? Ming-Wu, are you in league with the Golden Horned One?"
Cantirena stomped her foot onto the ground. "No! He's not!"
"Impudent girl! Silence!"
"No," Cantirena said. "Minwu has never, ever sided with the Palamecian Empire. Do not ever think for a moment that he would sit idly by and let the Emperor destroy the world without a fight. My teacher is a leader in the movement we call the Wild Rose Rebellion. He inspires me to fight for freedom every single day." She looked at him, wondering where all this confidence suddenly was coming from. But she went with it. She felt like she was on some sort of roll now. "In fact, the reason why we're here to speak to all of you is because we need your help. I don't know if I'm related to the Goddess or not, and I don't place my faith in legends. My teacher taught me to always seek the facts. To study hard. To show what I've learned and apply it in everyday life. The evil that has taken our land is not any regular kind of evil. It comes from a sealed demon, the Demon King Iluia, who has been making his way into the Palamecian Royal family since the founding of the country thousands of years ago. Please, oh great Circle of Mages… we need your help. We've come asking for your help. Where can we obtain the holiest of artifacts, other than the Holy Mecca itself?"
"Ming-Wu, does she speak true?"
"My student never lies." Minwu said carefully.
"Oh yes she does!" a voice shouted from near the town gate. "That girl is an Imperial Witch! She calls herself the Dark Princess!"
"Who is there?" one of the mages replied. "Show your face!"
A few of them called lights up with their hands, revealing that the man who stood at the town gate was none other than… the barkeep from Fynn, who had been guarding Prince Scott the day after the massacre happened. "Yes, Fynn was attacked. Minwu did a great job protecting everyone he could, to help them get away from the oncoming Dark Knights of the Palamecian Empire. But that witch who pleads for your help? She serves the Emperor! She killed Fynn citizenry at his command. The only reason she spared me was because I was Prince Scott's emissary, from Kashuon."
"What is this?" Minwu asked. "My student did no such thing!"
Cantirena couldn't believe that man recognized her. "But… but…"
The man I let live… is condemning me!? She couldn't believe what she was hearing. He is right, I did kill innocents in Fynn under the command of Emperor Mateus. Yes. I did. I… I did…
"Her voice is the exact same," the old barkeep said angrily. "If you want to stop the Empire, the first thing you need to do is take away their weaponry. That girl will slaughter you all in your sleep!"
Minwu's heart beat too fast. He felt his anger rage beneath him. "You're a liar!" he yelled. "My student is of pure heart, and she… and she…"
The murmuring began again.
"He has raised a failure indeed."
"Take the girl into custody, we shall."
"Send her to the correctional facility."
"You shall not," Minwu said. "My student is mine. You cannot punish what does not belong to you!"
"Fine then," an old surly voice said over to the side of the assembly. "If we cannot have your student, why don't we take you in her place?"
Minwu turned around to see that Lee-Chun was standing there, hobbling on his old staff. "You!" he gasped. "What are you doing here? You're not a member of the Circle of Sages!"
"Is that any way to speak to your teacher, Ming-Wu?" Lee-Chun asked, coming closer to the circle. "I am Lee-Chun, student of Da-Huo, outcast of Mysidia. My student is a failure and a liar and an Oath Breaker!"
The entire Circle of Mages gasped at once, pointing at Minwu and shouting all sorts of obscene things from heathen to demon creator to traitor.
"On what base do you call me an oath breaker?" Minwu asked. "I have done nothing but keep my word since I donned these robes, you pitiful excuse for a man!"
"It was not after you became a full white mage, Minwu," Lee-Chun said. "It was before."
What?! Minwu thought. You will have me put to death because of your heinous crime?!
Lee-Chun continued. "My own student seduced me into having sex with him while we were on a pilgrimage."
The Circle of Mages gasped in abject horror.
Minwu didn't know what to do. Several mages came up from behind him to grab his arms, but he repelled them with a quick barrier.
"He is resisting!"
"Stop!" Cantirena cried, putting herself between the mages and Minwu. "You can't have him, he's mine!"
"Arrest his student, too."
"Cantirena, my student…" Minwu's voice came from behind her, very softly. "Stop. Let it go." He managed to quell her anger just by talking to her gently. "This… this is the Mysidian way. I… I'm so very sorry that I can't go home to Fynn with you. Do not fight against this. I knew… I knew from the moment I came back into town that… that I would have to face this again."
"Then… why?" Cantirena asked, feeling tears well up in her eyes.
"Shhh," Minwu said, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "Know that I love you more than any other on this planet. I will die so that you may live. I accept my punishment so you do not have to face any. I have always been a failure. I will always be one."
"No… this isn't right." She cried. "I'm… I'm… the one…"
Minwu reached one hand up and put it over her mouth. "Do not say it," he whispered. "Do not say anything more. The Goddess demands payment for sins committed. I will give myself willingly. Go now to your sisters."
"Wha… what about the crystal?"
"Read the book in my item pouch. Research as much as you can… if anyone can create a crystal, it would be my very own student…" Minwu let her go slowly, allowing the mages who came to arrest him to bind his arms. "Forgive me for failing you and going back on my promise. I am an Oath breaker to you as well."
"No, Minwu, please…" Cantirena reached for him, but Say-Ri held her back. "You said… no, Minwu… please! You musn't!" She fought against Say-Ri as hard as she could, ripping from the woman's hands and rushing over to Minwu's side. "You cannot die for me, I will not let you!"
"My dearly beloved, I love you more than life itself," Minwu said as he watched her become further and further from him. He cried the saddest, loneliest tears he could ever shed. "My beautiful, perfect bride… I… will watch over you… from Heaven…"
"No! Oh, Cosmos, no!" Cantirena shouted. "Someone, please, make it STOP!"
"Gladly!" a voice called from on top of a nearby cottage. The shadowy figure jumped off of the roof, cutting up the throats of the mages who carried Minwu. "Can't believe you'd start a ruckus… you of all people…"
Candice knew that voice. She'd been saved by it before. "Paul?!" she cried out.
"That's me!" the ninja said, giving a thumbs up with a smile. "C'mon, girlie girls, we need to blow this popsickle stand. There's nothing left here but a group of mages who want us the hell dead. Minwu, you can't die. I have an urgent message from Princess Hilda to give you."
Clarisse, Cantirena, Candice, Minwu, and Paul ran together into the forest as quickly as they could.
Candice couldn't believe what she just saw happen there. What the hell kind of court was that?! She thought. There was no organization and there was certainly no fairness at all. Those people had Minwu judged before he even came out to speak to them, always calling him a failure… That was doomed from the very start!
Lee-Chun hobbled over on his magic wand, watching them scurry. "How dare infidels interfere with the workings of the Circle of Mages! I want that boy of mine caught and punished for what he did to me! Cosmos give me strength again so I might deliver the punishment myself!"
"Catch them…" one of the mages in the circle said loudly. "Bring them back! We must have justice!"
"The Goddess demands her payment!"
Say-Ri sighed. She was never going to see Minwu ever again, and she felt glad for that. But the night was not yet over. She slowly made her way to Lee-Chun's side. "You speak of Ming-Wu in such an ill manner," she said. "I can't believe you would ever do such a thing. He is, after all, your student."
"Bah," Lee-Chun grunted. "If only I was able… I would hunt him down…"
"Why? So you could rape him again?" Say-Ri asked. "Oh so honorable Circle of Mages. You cannot go after Ming-Wu or his student. I have a suggestion…" She grabbed Lee-Chun by the collar and threw him into the center of the circle as hard as she could. "Take Ming-Wu's teacher to pay for their crimes against the Goddess."
"Wait… wait, I am innocent! I have done nothing wrong!" Lee-Chun cried, bowing onto his knees. He was begging for them to spare his life.
"Hmm. We will take Lee-Chun, as he was the failure teacher who raised Ming-Wu."
"Yes. The negativity started at Lee-Chun, after all."
"No! I have done nothing wrong!" Lee-Chun shouted. The Circle of Mages slowly disbanded, while two of them came up to grab Lee-Chun by his arms and carry him into the same place they were taking Minwu. "I… I am innocent! You must understand…"
There, Ming-Wu. Say-Ri thought, hearing the old man's screams grow fainter and fainter, until he screamed no more. Even though you have not seen it yourself… know that the apt punishment has been dealt. Live your life freely, my friend, do whatever you find makes you happy. May we never see each other again…