Ch 8, part 8
"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.
"You just wanted to leave them alone," Clarisse said to Candice as they walked down the tunnel.
"They weren't going to go at it with us there, they proved that," Candice said. Her arms were crossed triumphantly. "Minwu's loins were burning so badly, I could smell the smoke from across the room. Let them enjoy each other. I think it'll make the rest of the journey a lot easier."
"The tension was pretty damn thick…"
"Exactly. Minwu and Cantirena are at that point in their relationship where things were just becoming awkward being around each other, even if they've known each other ten years. You wouldn't think that would happen, but it does. Sometimes it's hard to tell what's what when moving the relationship from platonic to romantic," Candice said as she looked straight ahead. It was hard to see much of anything in the tunnel, and they only had one torch between them. "Even if we don't find anything to eat, it's still worth going for a walk to give them that time."
Clarisse shook her head. "You sound like you know a lot about this kind of stuff," she said very quietly.
"I've… gone through a lot," Candice couldn't answer anything else. It wasn't a lie. Living in Poft was a difficult thing to do. Living in a port slum with thieves, pirates, drug smugglers, and slave traders meant that sometimes, she had to do things she wasn't proud of to get by. While her father was an upright guy, he spent so much time working on his airships that he didn't notice what she was going through on a daily basis. She felt alone as a child, wondering how a man like Cid could be her father at all. Without a mother there to explain things, most of the time she wandered away trying to make sense of everything. "…but you know what?"
"Even with all the political reasons as to why we're together, I think traveling with you two girls and Minwu has given me the best family experience I've ever had in my life," Candice said. "That's the reason why I have to do what I can, Claire. I have no choice. I've… I've got to see this whole thing to the end… We have to protect those two."
"I'm sure Minwu can do without protecting," Clarisse said, laughing somewhat. "He's always protected us."
"That's not what I mean. Sure, in battle, both of them are quite capable of handling themselves. Emotionally, they're growing stronger, but… you know what would happen if something came between the two of them? If something happens to Canti, then Minwu would lose himself in despair. And you saw what happened in Mysidia, when they tried to put Minwu to death. She couldn't handle it. We have to make sure that nothing gets between those two, or it'll spell disaster," Candice explained. "They have to stay together, no matter what. I don't care if we end up with a world full of craters in the process, quite frankly."
"Candice… I've known for a long time now that they would be together for their entire lives," Clarisse said. "I didn't know the circumstances, but… when we sat in Galtea one night, talking about things… I could tell that Minwu needed her as much as she needed him. Throughout this journey, it became more and more obvious to me just how close they really were. The reason why Canti is the way she is now is because of Minwu. She didn't get along with our parents very well when she was very young. She was a troublemaker, always trying to get attention in any way she could for years…"
"I couldn't imagine that."
"Oh, no, it gets better."
"Oh yeah. You see, when we were six years old, Canti decided to go to the storage house for the magic scrolls in Fynn, which was right behind the magic shop. She wanted to go in there because she wanted to take a scroll. She said she was going to amaze everybody with magic, probably because she needed to fill some sort of emotional void that wasn't being heard properly…" Clarisse could see it in her mind as if it was happening right in front of her. "I tried to tell her not go to go in there. She was going to get in trouble. She was going to have to see the King himself, and not only confess to what she did, but she was going to be flogged for it, too. Canti was able to crawl into a hole that was terribly covered up in the side of the building. I pulled on her dress as hard as I could, but the moment Canti went inside, the building burst into flames, knocking me back onto my tush... I screamed and cried as hard as I could for someone to help. 'Help, someone! Anyone! My sister is trapped in the fire!' Mother and Father found me, but there was no way to go inside… until Minwu came along. He quickly used a water spell, but by the time the fire was out, there was nothing but ruins of the building left. Townspeople helped him remove the rubble, and in the center of it all was Canti, huddled down, chanting a spell which created a bright blue barrier. She didn't have a single scratch or bruise on her, and she didn't even know the fire was gone when we found her. Minwu was the one who pulled her out of her own barrier… and the next morning, he had come to visit us in our home. Our little outcast who no one in town wanted anything to do with was going to be the personal student of the royal mage of Fynn." Clarisse smiled. "And the rest, as they say, is history. Every day, she reported to the castle for her lessons. Sometimes, she stayed the night there because she would fall asleep studying. I remember Minwu bringing her home once on a summer night, carrying her over his shoulder while she was snoring and clinging to a book she was studying as she'd fallen asleep… our parents, they… they were so proud."
"…Let me guess. You were jealous, right?"
"Oh I was," Clarisse said. "Naturally, I was jealous that she had a special teacher. She didn't have to deal with the schoolmistress, she didn't have to deal with the kids at school. Cantirena got to learn magic, and she was gifted at it. My awkward sister that never had a place finally found it, and I… I was bitter. So I decided that I would do something about it."
"Now it was you seeking the attention."
"Yeah. It was. I snuck into the castle, where the knights trained. I picked up a sword, and the moment someone important came by… I challenged them to a sword fight."
They were coming to the end of the tunnel, as there was light to be seen a bit of a distance away.
"Keep telling your story. Now you've got me interested!" Candice said. "So you challenged an important person to a sword fight."
"The mistake I made was challenging King Gilbert."
"…and you weren't put to death?"
"No. I wasn't. Because the King had a good sense of humor, he told me that if I could best his most loyal and capable knight, he would make me a squire and have me train to be a knight. I thought that maybe that would put me on the same footing as Canti, since she had a teacher who was involved with the royal family, so I took the opportunity. The man I was told to fight was Captain Borghen." Clarisse kept going. "I have no idea if what King Gilbert said was true, about Borghen being his most loyal and capable knight. The man couldn't fight that well. When I was a child, I thought it was a miracle, but in all honesty, Borghen was so weak, even a seven year old me could best him. To this day, I think Gilbert just wanted to use my courage to suit his own purposes, so that was his way of giving me some sort of retribution… well, anyway, I was made to be Borghen's student, and while my sister learned everything about magic, I learned about combat. Not directly from Borghen, because the man didn't take that much time to actually teach me most of the time. I watched the knights in their training facilities. I studied how they did everything. I was going to become a white knight of Fynn and that gave me a very big sense of pride. I learned so much that I took what I learned home and after Firion was out of school, I taught him how to fight with wooden sticks in our backyard." That made her laugh. "So… um, yeah. I have no idea where I was going with this, but…"
"It's all right. I feel like I understand the two of you better just by hearing it," Candice said happily. "So thanks for taking the time to tell me."
They had come to the end of the tunnel. Wind blew in their faces as they came up to a mostly empty grassland. They couldn't see a town nearby, which made them both a little sad. It looked very much like they were going to have to hunt for something to eat, but that was all right. They did have each other, and that's what mattered the most.
They both made a silent promise to each other. No one was going to be alone anymore.