Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 8, part 9

"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 9

Mateus was more than angry. He couldn't contain his anger. He would have blown up his airship, but then how was he going to get back home? The connection between himself and Cantirena had been severed completely by her own doing, and the Demon King was none too pleased about this fact. Mateus couldn't even think to himself without Iluia butting in with his own commentary. The Emperor confined himself to his private quarters on his airship, forbidding anyone to speak to him until they arrived at the Palamecian capital. He needed more power, more soldiers, more… everything. He needed more to claim the woman he desired, conquer the land below him, to defeat the man who led everything astray, to crush the rebellion once and for all.

"This world…" he muttered, looking out the window, watching the world below him go by as the airship flied over it. "…this world is empty and devoid of anything worth saving."

"You actually believed it was worth saving? No, Mateus. This world is nothing but a stepping stone for a higher place. The humans here have polluted minds that deal in forsaken love and fake justice. Those beyond have a better understanding of how things work."

"I am the supreme ruler of all," Mateus said triumphantly. "This world and all in it belong to me."

"Then why is it that you have not been able to take what belongs to you?"

"I'm going about it all wrong…" he said. "I thought perhaps since they were born with free will, they would freely choose to follow the one who wears the crown. This… is not so. Even for the lone woman who said she was in love with me from the time she first met me. She refuses my companionship, though I humbly offer it to her." Mateus looked about his quarters, finally sitting himself on his bed. "Instead, I was witness to another giving her affection before she told me that I have no power over her. I made her my bride, as she desired, and she repaid me with contempt."

"It was not a bright idea to leave her alone, Mateus. You were the one who left her there on the airship as bait… but before you could spring your trap, the most of the power I put into her was gone. If you had kept her at your side, she would still be your adoring wife and my powerful little magical catalyst. The magical powers of the Goddess are inside that lovely little body..."

"I believe… that it's time to change the game," Mateus declared with a smile. "I've destroyed entire cities, and I've killed countless people in both the rebel army and my own. No. This is not the right strategy. If we want to catch a bird, we lay a trap."

"The last trap you laid did absolutely nothing."

"Not true. I learned a bit about the world, and the bird I chase…" Mateus thought aloud. He laid back on his pillows, closing his eyes. "I need something to draw her back to me. Something she cannot resist." He closed his eyes. "And it cannot be Minwu… those two haven't been separated since they were reunited. Perhaps it could be something that Minwu needs. He would lead her right back into my arms."

"Minwu wants to purify the world of my presence."

"Indeed. Chasing the little bird and her entourage is exhausting and frustrating. Why, if I were to use my magic to force my will on every place that's turned up empty in my search, this world would have none left in it to serve me. Minwu would love one lead, any lead at this point… and we have one on hand, I'm sure." Suddenly, the idea hit Mateus very, very hard. He snapped his fingers. "We shall have a tournament to draw in all the bravest warriors in the land. The prize will be… Queen Regent Airu."

"Why would you…"

"Think about it. Who knows Palamecian history better than my own mother? No one. The woman has done nothing but study practically all her life. There was never a time I didn't see her without a book in hand. Who would know more about your demonic influence, other than my late father, and myself, of course?" Mateus smiled. "She will serve a purpose. Finally."

The laid there in complete silence for a few moments until his body gave out completely. Mateus felt the weight of carrying around a second being inside him, and it drained so much energy. The longer he carried Iluia, the less time he could actually stay awake.

"Mateus… dream of her. It may be the only way you can have her…"

Krystal had gone through so much thus far in her journey, so what was walking through the Winding Mountains of Mysidia with Paul on top of it? It wasn't that big of a deal, was it? It was just very steep mountains, full of monsters, not knowing what was edible and having absolutely no supplies… but she was free of the soldiers on that airship. She hadn't eaten since before the Emperor had found her in the ruins of Altair, and it was getting harder to press on.

Here she believed she would be confined to that airship and then condemned to slavery in the Palamecian capital upon arrival, but Paul managed to keep his word and saved her from it. Not that she was grateful or anything to him. She still hated his guts. Krystal still hated the fact that she found her second home, Altair, in ashes, and that Paul actually admitted to having burning the place down himself.

"I have to know," Krystal said, pulling Paul out of his silence. "What the hell did you do this for?"

"What do you mean?" Paul asked.

"You burned down Altair. You say Princess Hilda is dead-"

"Oh she is, there is no denying how deader than dead she is. I saw it happen myself."

"And you didn't stop it?"

"There you go again, making incredibly terrible assumptions," Paul said, glaring at her. "You're terrific at that, Krystal. Keep it up. No, the truth is that I begged the lady not to take her own life. I told her she could do anything else, but she was certain that the only way to buy Minwu time enough to escape to Mysidia was to die."

"She… killed herself?"

"She did," Paul said very flatly. "I did not want her to die. I did not want to see her marred with her own blood and cremated unceremoniously in the hideout which housed the entire heart of the rebellion since the massacre in Fynn, but she was my princess and I did as she commanded. I could do nothing else." He looked ahead to the path before them. He needed to get to Galtea. That was the only place left. The only place he could try to formulate a plan. "Not that it helped much, considering what happened in Mysidia."

Krystal still didn't know what was going on. "My question is… what is Minwu trying to do?"

"Minwu needs to create a crystal, an object of the highest purity and holiness, to be able to destroy the Stone of Iluia, which is corrupting the leaders of the Palamecian Empire from within," Paul explained. "Minwu is the only man I can think of who lives on this Goddess-forsaken planet that might be able to achieve that. And with the blue haired girls on his side, I think he's got an even bigger chance to achieve victory."

"That's what we're hoping for, Paul? A chance."

"Damn straight," Paul answered. "That's all we've ever had."

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