Ch 8, 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 EIGHT BEGINS
Minwu traveled with the three girls for two more days with no problems at all. Monsters happened, but they were so experienced at fighting sudden encounters by now that no one even noticed. It was life as usual for the four of them. They'd become so used to being on the road that no one longed for home anymore. It was as if the world itself was their home, and that was just fine. With each sunrise, they woke up from the tartan tent and had breakfast, and with each sunset, camp was laid out and the resting began.
"Hey, we've found the ocean again," Candice said. "Is this the same ocean as by Mysidia?"
Minwu shook his head. "No." He pointed at a rock formation which stood very close to the water. "That should be the way into the Angel's Tunnel."
"So why is it called that?" Clarisse asked.
"Ahh, my student, you should be able to answer that," Minwu said, tapping on Cantirena's shoulder. "Why is it called the Angel's Tunnel?"
Cantirena cocked up an eyebrow. "I have to go over the lessons here, too?" she asked.
"Not a lesson," Minwu said teasingly, "A test."
"That's even better," she retorted. "Well, from what I remember about that lecture…" Cantirena put her finger to her chin, letting herself think about the question. "I think it's from the escape of the Magi, where they used the tunnel to flee from Mysidia? They named it the Angel's Tunnel because it was their only escape from the continent that wasn't all ready territory of their enemies. They considered it a blessing from the angels?" She sounded very unsure of her answer.
Minwu shrugged. "Only half correct, but we didn't really get the chance to cover proper early Mysidian history the way I would have liked to." He led them over to the formation and tapped on the stone. "The tunnel is from the Magi tribe's exodus from Mysidia, yes. But that is not why it is called the Angel's Tunnel." He noticed the rock wasn't moving. "Oh dear."
"What's wrong?" Clarisse asked. "Maybe it's the wrong rock."
Candice let her eyes trace the along the shore. "Uh, do you see any other rocks on the ocean? From what Minwu described, that's it. It's the only rock sticking out of the sand."
Minwu used his staff to tap on the stone a few more times. "Why aren't you opening?" he asked the rock like he was expecting it to answer. "We don't have time to play around."
"Um," Cantirena said quietly. "Minwu?"
"Yes, my love?"
"Didn't you say in the lessons that there was a spell placed on the tunnel?" she asked, "Because they sealed it from the inside to keep the… the hunters from following them?"
Minwu stopped hitting the rock and turned to look at her. He smiled widely, blushing just a bit. He was embarrassed now that his emotions were on full display for everyone to see. He used to be able to hide that sort of thing with his face being covered by the mask. "Why, yes. I did. I… can't believe I've forgotten that. I'm sorry I doubted you paying attention to the ramblings of an aging mage."
"Well, when you're older than a fossil, it's harder to retain your memories," Candice said, only to be thwacked on the head by Minwu's staff. It hurt so much she thought she was going to need a cure spell. When she looked over, that wasn't Minwu wielding it. It was Cantirena. "Shit, sis, don't give me a concussion."
"I'll give you a billion more," Cantirena muttered.
"Calm down," Minwu said, snatching the staff back into his own hands. "You can wield the teacher's staff when you become the teacher to someone else. Until then, please don't use it without my permission."
"Old habits are hard to break," Clarisse said. "I guess you'll never stop being Canti's teacher, even after you get married."
"I only recently decided to take a different path," Minwu said, ruffling Cantirena's hair. "Now, you pointed out that there was a spell in place. Do you remember anything else?"
She shook her head. "Nope."
"That's right. I don't remember anything else about the Angel's Tunnel," she shrugged. Without thinking much about it, she sat on the rock. "But I do have an idea."
"That's dangerous," Candice said with a smirk. Cantirena reached for Minwu's staff, but Minwu pulled it right out of her reach before she could grab it. "Oooh. Even a fossil is quicker than you."
"Let me hit her," Cantirena said. "Come on, Minwu, she's asking for it."
"Now, Clarisse," Minwu said in a very scolding tone. "That's enough. Please."
Cantirena coughed. She tapped the rock a few times, mimicking what Minwu was doing earlier. It helped her gather her thoughts into something coherent. "I think you should cast a spell in the Ancient Mysidian tongue. Isn't that the language of the Magi? And if it is… that's probably the only language it would respond to. Cast a spell the way they would have." She kept tapping in a rhythmic pattern. "Music is magic. Magic is music. That's what the Magi believed." As she tapped on the rock with her hands, a glowing light came from the ground. It circled around the base of the rock. "Look!"
"It would respond to rhythm," Minwu said, stepping forth. He waited until he understood Cantirena's tap rhythm. "Clarisse, Candice, I need you to contribute to the rhythm. I don't care if all you do is clap to the beat of Cantirena's tapping."
"All right," Candice said. Her claps were loud, but synced up well with the tapped rhythm.
"I've no musical aptitude at all…" Clarisse said, looking at the ground. She reluctantly started clapping along with Candice's claps.
Minwu stood in the center between them, focusing his aura onto his staff. He sang a question in the Ancient Mysidian language, sending it up into the sky. That's when things started to feel different. The clouds above came down in the form of a woman wearing a simple white dress, right above the rock on which Cantirena was sitting.
"You have done well to figure out how to call me forth."
Candice blinked a few times. "Did you guys hear that?"
"She's talking to us. Directly into our minds," Clarisse said, very surprised by this phenomenon.
"And in a tongue I never imagined I would hear at that. Here I was under the impression that the Magi were all dead… despite all my efforts to save them…"
"Are you implying they're not all dead?" Candice asked.
All Minwu could do was stare at the formation in the clouds. It was just as the books described. The goddess of clouds, she was called, because when she took a physical form in front of mortals, she was made of clouds.
"Of course the Magi are not dead… not when one stands there before me now. Minwu, you've done all your ancestors set out to do. You have found my blessed children, you have come to the rock where I first guided the people of magic who were hunted by people who were using my name as an excuse to kill everyone who did not conform to their standards of life, and you have managed to contact me after centuries of this world's time have passed."
Cantirena looked above her for the first time since she sat on that rock. "You're Cosmos…"
"I am, my child."
"If you are, you have a lot of explaining to do!" Candice said angrily.
"It was not my doings which split the three of you apart. I always intended for the three of you to be together through everything. Forgive me, my children, for you have suffered much and I cannot do anything directly to affect this world."
"But you're a Goddess," Clarisse said, not believing that. "Aren't you omnipotent and all-knowing?"
"If this is what you have been taught, you are severely wrong. My powers are limited. My brother tried to take the land from me, and in sealing him away I lost so much… I saved the Palamecian people in a Holy War… but it cost them more every generation that passed until now, where people who fought in my honor thousands of years ago, are now ones who seek to dominate in the way my brother would."
"The Demon King is your brother?" Minwu asked. "How is this even-"
"He can no longer manifest himself here, just like I cannot… his soul is confined in the Stone in which he was sealed, just like I am sealed to this stone…"
"Since you're here, we might as well ask you…" Cantirena said. "We need a crystal! Where can we get one?"
"My child… if you wish to find a crystal, you will have to learn how to create one. All of the crystals were destroyed in the Sealing War. To create a crystal, you will have to take components of truth, freedom, and love and combine them in a blast of pure white light."
Minwu nodded. "Now we know how, but we have an immediate problem to face right now. We're being hunted."
"By the Palamecian Emperor, I'm sure. How sad it makes me… knowing that the name of the country no longer has any value."
"That's right," Minwu said. "Cosmos, where can we find the Angel's Tunnel? We seek to escape the continent."
"As time passes, history repeats itself…"
The ground rumbled below them. Cantirena got up off the rock, almost falling on her face until Minwu caught her. It was a good thing she did, because a few moments later, the rock went up several hundred feet. The rock had become the mouth of a cavern.
"When you are inside, I will close this place once again. You will find a door midway through the tunnel. Please, use it… I'm afraid that I can't do anything else for you anymore, my children."
"If… if you didn't want us, why did you have us?" Candice asked. "I've been wanting to ask you that for a long time now! What kind of mother just… dumps her children onto a different world and says 'yeah, they'll do just fine on their own'?!" She screamed at the heavens in both anger and anguish, demanding an answer.
"You are not exactly my progeny… though you are pieces of me… now go, so that I may protect you one last time."
Candice went in first. She didn't even want to look at the Goddess figure anymore. She was so pissed she could have kept screaming for the rest of her life, but she stopped herself. It wouldn't solve anything, so she resolved to keep her anger at bay. Clarisse followed her, not sure of what to say or do about any of this. Cantirena went after her sisters, and Minwu very close behind.
"Thank you. For everything you've ever done. I entrust everything to you. You are a hero and deserving of the blood which flows in your veins. Those girls… they now hold the powers I once had."
"I'm afraid I don't understand," Minwu said, noticing the girls had all ready gone into the tunnel.
"I had to give up pieces of myself, of my powers… to be able to send them to the world… as such, they carry the powers I once had within them. So while they are sisters, in a way, they are just pieces of a greater whole. I… trust you will find the other two guardians to watch over them, as you have watched Cantirena so closely."
"If this is what you will have me do, then I will," Minwu answered.
"Thank you, Minwu. As the descendant of the Magi, you have fulfilled your destiny. I wish nothing but peace and happiness for you, and all of those who live in this realm."
Minwu followed the girls into the tunnel, and when he found himself in darkness, he used the tip of his staff to light the path. As the four of them continued onwards, behind them, the mouth of the cavern went back under the sand, leaving only the rock behind.
"This world… still has a chance… That's all I wanted to see…"