Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 8, 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

The cavern went on for a very long time. When Cantirena decided she was done clinging to Minwu constantly, she used her right hand to create a little ball of fire to make her own light. Clarisse just ended up rolling her eyes and calling her a show off, while Candice teased her further about anything she could think of because she thought Cantirena's reactions were hilarious.

Eventually, the four of them stopped walking. Well, not at all once. Candice was the first to stop.

"Okay. I don't care if there's no sunlight, I'm taking a break," she said, sitting her butt down on the dusty tunnel's floor. Then she looked at her legs and how dusty they became, groaning just a little bit. But she sat anyway, because her legs were done going any further. "And the first thing I'm doing when we get back up top? We find a pond or a lake or a river, I'm washing myself off. I need a good bath. I smell like… ugh, pirate goo."

"Pirate goo?" Clarisse asked. She sat down, too, letting her legs fold under her butt in a very traditional and ladylike style.

"That's the stuff under the fat folds of pirates who haven't taken baths in months," Candice explained, only making Minwu look like he was going to puke just from hearing that.

"How… do you know… about… pirate goo?" Clarisse asked, not sure if she even wanted to hear the answer to that question. Morbid curiosity got the best of her, though. She may not have wanted to hear the answer, but she wasn't going to be able to get the concept out of her head until the question was answered.

Candice shrugged. "I lived in a port that was very famous for pirates. Sometimes when they were staying at the inn, I'd get a full view of them from my dad's place. It was a pretty interesting set up, I suppose. I mean, I never expected to see shirtless, hairy fat pigs of men stand in front of their windows and scrape the shit from under their arms and fat folds." Clarisse gagged for a moment. Minwu looked like he was going to turn green. "Dad said it was made of globs of sweat that was never able to come completely out of its glands, salt, dead skin, matted hair, and whatever else you find on a pirate. Probably fish guts or something."

"Oh Goddess, please stop talking…" Minwu held his hand over his mouth, having to turn away from the conversation.

Candice continued anyway. "They would toss the scraped stuff out the window. No wonder grass never grew there… I always thought it was because Miss Fussfeathers never cleaned the outhouse, but from what I've read, waste from the body makes decent fertilizer. Except for pirate goo."

Cantirena shook her head. "That's… really, really gross." Her deadpan expression made her reaction seem so cheap in comparison to both Clarisse and Minwu's, so she kept going to see if she could get a reaction.

"Yeah I know. Just one of the perks of living in a pirate and crack-whore infested slum, I guess," Candice said, shrugging. "It wasn't a bad life… except for watching old, bearded, fat Viking-wannabes scrape the solidified goo from their intimate parts. That I could live without. I'm pretty sure."

Minwu put his other hand up while trying to keep himself from hurling on himself and everyone else. What a very gross thing to talk about! This was not something to share with good company, as far as the white mage was concerned. It wasn't worth sharing with any company! "I swear I will cast Silence on you if you don't stop…" he said very quietly.

"Tell Clarisse not to ask if you don't want to hear it…"

"I just wanted to know why you compared your smell to that of pirate goo…"

Cantirena grunted. "I thought pirate goo was something you'd put in the motor of a boat or something… like the fuel that's burned by Sunfire in an airship…"

"Well now you know."

Minwu looked at Cantirena. "Come and sit, we don't know how long the path will be. You should rest your legs while you have the chance."

She crossed her arms. "I'd prefer to lean against the wall. I don't really want to get my dress dirty…"

"Then take it off," Candice suggested. "No one's gonna stop you. I mean, now that Minwu's not under any kind of purity oath, I think it would be a welcome change."

When Cantirena reached for Minwu's staff with her free hand, she slipped. Trying to regain her balance, she fell back against the wall and against something that wasn't some kind of bedrock. When she opened her eyes, she was somehow on her back on the other side of the wall.

"Whoa," Clarisse stood up to check on Cantirena. "You all right?"

"I'd be better if Candice would stop being such a snark all the time…" she whined slightly. "What happened?"

"You wanted to whack Candice on the head, but you slipped trying to get Minwu's staff, and…"

Minwu smiled. "You've always been a klutz."

"Don't remind me," Cantirena said, sitting up. "What… hey, it's not dirty over here." She ran her hand along the floor she landed on, then she noticed that she was sitting on a door. "Oh. Looks like I busted in someone's home without announcing myself." She turned around to look behind her. "Hello? Is anyone home?"

Minwu remembered what Cosmos said. He stood up and walked through the doorway, helping Cantirena to her feet. "Cosmos said there was a door in here." He bumped the bottom of his staff on the floor to get a better look around. "So…"

As everyone started to look around, they found all sorts of things. A fire pit with a hanging pot, four beds along a wall, bookshelves full of all sorts of books, a trunk full of alchemy supplies, and a few ancient instruments that even Minwu wasn't sure how to identify. It became clear to them that someone indeed lived here at one point, but it was hard to know exactly when this shelter was created or who created it.

The first thing Minwu did was hit the books for some sort of clue. Upon examination, he found that all of them were in Mysidian, and a few of them in Ancient Mysidian. Most of the pages were so old and faded they were hard to read, even harder in that darkness.

"Hey, I found a few torches," Candice said. "Canti, light 'em up."

Cantirena lit the torches with a puff of fire. Now they all could see much more clearly than they could before. The three torches were placed at even spots where the light would be most useful.

Minwu said. "This place is ancient…"

Clarisse walked over to the big pot which hung over the fire pit and opened it up. It smelled very rotten, and everything in it was a pile of decayed dust. "Oh Cosmos… there's… ugh, it smells worse than we do."

"I have an idea," Candice said, clapping her hands once. "Minwu, you and Canti should stay here. We'll go tell the others how you're doing and where you're hiding. That way the Emperor will never find you."

"You were the one who said we needed to stick together," Clarisse said.

"There's no way in Hell the Emperor will ever find this place," Candice was insistent.

Cantirena sat upon one of the beds. "But I can't hide from him forever. He's going to destroy every town he comes across in his search for me, and there's been enough death on my hands. Hiding until we know what to do is a smart idea, but I can't just hide forever. I'm not going to let more people die because I'm some sort of coward."

"No one's saying you are," Clarisse said carefully. "But until we can break the Emperor free of the Demon King's control, you probably should stay hidden. If he finds you, who knows what he'll do to you? The last time, you forgot me and Firion. You forgot Minwu. This time? He'd probably make you fight us because his is a twisted mind like that."

"Didn't you say you were going to kick my ass if I ever went back to him?" Cantirena asked. "I have faith in you both. If I do fall under his control again, you beat the shit out of me until I come out of it." She leaned back against the bed's headboard. "I'm not afraid…"

Minwu liked hearing that. She used to sound so timid. Even though she'd been through all sorts of things, Cantirena was no longer the little girl he watched after more often than her parents. She'd become a woman, and looking at her in that low firelight, it was the first time he ever saw her as a fully grown adult.

I wish I could have your determination, he thought, continuing to flip through the books he found. He was going to be at it as long as they were staying there. He knew himself too well. Knowledge was power, as the saying went.

"Well," Candice said. "I say we stick it out here. Rest a few days at least. We haven't had any breaks at all. Continuing to adventure is going to make us wearier than we all ready are, and you never know what'll be coming up in the future." She walked around the little shelter. "So we can't get a bath… but at least we can sleep on a bed."

Minwu sighed. "All right," he said. "We'll stay until we feel rested again, but no longer." He looked over to Cantirena again, who seemed like she was all ready half asleep. "Cantirena, my love, are you still coherent?"

"I am," she said. "Somewhat."

"Never mind, I'll talk with you later," he said, flipping the page of his book. "Just do me one small favor."

"What's that?"

"…save me some room."

She smiled. "I'll do that," she said, falling to sleep almost instantly. Within a minute or so, she was all ready snoring.

Clarisse half-laughed. "Well… that was quick, wasn't it?"

"It was…" Candice said, walking up to where Minwu was sitting with the book. "And now, we've got a moment to sit here and talk to you without Canti overhearing what we've got in mind." She looked up at him with that signature devilish smile of hers.

"We've?" Clarisse asked. "Candi, what are you plotting?"

Candice shook her head. "I don't plot. I'm planning. There's a major difference."

It took Minwu a few minutes to even notice that Candice was staring up at him at all. He marked his place within the book and put it down enough to where she could tell his attention was caught. "Is there something wrong?" he asked. "You said you needed to rest."

"I need to talk to you," she said. "You're going to marry Cantirena, yes?"

"I plan to," Minwu answered.

"No, no, no, no. You don't plan to. You're going to. Terminology, my dear mage, you should know the implications behind using different words, I mean, you use magic for Goddess' sake," she said, taking a book off the bookshelf. "You're going to marry our little Canti. We… no, I want it to be special. The most special event she's ever had in her life, okay? Because of that, we're going to need your help." She couldn't read any of the language in the book. It all looked liked scribbles and dots to her. "So… I want you to be my teacher, Minwu."

"I would, but Cantirena would get more jealous than-"

"So don't tell her. You'll just be her teacher when she's awake, and when she's not, we have our lessons," Candice said with a smile. "I love her dearly, but I don't know her anywhere as near as you do. You were made to be with her with how well you connect. Forget saving the world, Minwu, your destiny was to protect and love Canti. There's no denying that. So you're going to have to teach me…"

"What are you trying to learn?"

"I'm not quite sure," she said quietly. "But I think I could use a bit of your guidance as much as she does."

"I've always wanted to learn magic," Clarisse said, coming over. "And I was able to defeat the Adamantoise with magic…"

"You did, and it was crucial for us to achieve that victory, though it was a bit… pyrrhic." Minwu's voice became more solemn. "The truth is, girls, I'm not sure if I can have another student. What I said to Say-Ri is very true. It's a very special bond that Mysidian teachers have with their students. They look after them almost like second parents."

"You said you weren't Mysidian anymore," Candice said. "You have to stop thinking the way they do."

"Besides, you're not Canti's parent or teacher. You're her lover now," Clarisse added sharply. "You may consider yourself married in your heart, which is a wonderful thing, but you're not official without a ceremony. But my point remains. Your bond with Canti has evolved past what it was. You can't keep clinging to the past, Minwu. It's time to change. Canti's not the little girl you've always seen, now is she? You're not bound by the rules of the past now. You said it yourself. You're free to do whatever you want!"

"…you're both just as persuasive as she is," Minwu said. "All right. I will teach you what you want to know. Just… keep it among yourselves. Cantirena will never forgive me if she found out I was teaching anyone other than her."

"Oh? Then what about when you have kids?"

"…she might forgive me for that," Minwu laughed quietly. "Might."

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