Ch 8, part 10
"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.
Cantirena woke up on the floor of the little cavern. She looked around, finding that Minwu wasn't right next to her. She didn't get up yet, though. She felt a little tired after they had expressed their affections physically. She yawned and closed her eyes again. Sleep sounded like the best idea in the world. Cantirena was happy. She heard footsteps nearby. They lightly tapped the floor until the sound came from right next to her head.
A hand touched Cantirena's face.
"Mm," she moaned just a little. "Minwu…"
"No," a voice answered.
She opened her eyes to lock onto a pair of purple eyes right above hers. It didn't take her long to figure out exactly who was standing over her. "E…Emp…Emp… Emper…" she stuttered at first before she snapped to anger. "Mateus! How did you… find this place?"
"I told you that you would not escape me," Mateus answered calmly, running his clawed glove around her cheek. "See? You've missed me terribly. You will always belong to me, Cantirena. You know this to be true."
"You don't sound the same," she said. "Your voice… you… you're not Mateus."
"That is right," Mateus said, though his voice was much deeper than it had ever been before. "I take this form only because it is the body I find myself in. While the owner of this body is asleep, I have control of him. My powers are much, much more vast than his are. He could see through your eyes and hear through your ears." He kneeled down next to her. "I can visit your dreams and talk to your directly."
"What do you want from me?" Cantirena asked. "Why do you want me so badly?"
"Anyone who can sense magical ability knows of your vast power, Cantirena. With you at my side, even the heavens themselves would tremble in fear," Mateus answered. "You are the daughter of Cosmos, the Goddess. A piece of her, so to speak."
"You want me to help you in your war."
"Yes. You have done this before," he said. "Though you did it for the Emperor you love. I am different than he is. I will not seduce you. You may have him, as he desires you, but I am not here because I fancy you in such a way. Cantirena, you have no idea the true potential that lives within you. I can help you bring it to life, and you will have the man you cherish. It is a very nice trade, yes?"
"No," she said, forcing herself to sit up. Cantirena put her hand on his shoulder and shoved him away as hard as she could. "I don't love the Emperor."
"Yes, you do." He only stood a few steps away once he gained his balance.
"No. I don't!"
"Cantirena… you love the Emperor. You love him very dearly. This will never change. No matter who you claim to love while awake, you know the truth."
"No…" Cantirena said, looking away from him. "I broke free of Mateus. I can break free of you, too."
"This is much deeper than the bond that Mateus had with you…"
Cantirena was confused. "What do you mean?"
"…you broke free of him, as you said. But can you break free of your own fears? Can you break free of what he's done to you?"
"You're not real…" Cantirena shouted. "You're just… a piece… of myself that's manifested in my dreams. You're my fear. You're a shadow… you're just a shadow that lives inside my heart. That's all you are!" She put her hands together and unleashed her aura. "I'm stronger than any manifested fears. No matter what form you take… no matter what form you take, I will be able to send you away."
"Can you really?"
The voice changed, and Cantirena found her concentration broken quickly. When she turned in that direction again, she found that where the figure of Mateus once stood, there was that of her mother.
"Ma… Ma… Mother?!" she shrieked.
"You let me die, Cantirena… Some great student you turned out to be. You let me die, and you have no one to blame but yourself. Not even Minwu couldn't make you useful to anyone else."
"Mother?! Ho… how could you… I… didn't even…"
"Then you betrayed us and everything we ever did for you…"
Cantirena shook her head. "No," she cried. She fell to her knees, hiding her face in her hands. "Stop it! Don't take the form of my mother! Leave her out of this! Cosmos damn you, Iluia, you… you monster!"
"No, the Demon King is not a true monster," the voice changed again. It was the voice that gave her the most comfort, the one she loved hearing more than any other in the world. "You are."
She lifted her head up, only to find Minwu standing there, pointing right at her. "Min… Minwu?" she asked. "My teacher, my love… you… even you?"
"Everyone in this world knows the truth," Minwu said. "You are terrible. How do you think you could ever deserve my love? Why would I give it to you? You're a failure, Cantirena. You've done nothing but disgrace me…"
"Minwu…" she said. "I… I love Minwu so much. More than I've ever loved anyone in the world, ever. Even though you're taking his form, even though you're using his voice… you can't get through to me," she said sternly. "You can't break me. You are not my Lord Minwu! Get out!" She stared straight at Minwu, glaring at him, directly into his eyes. "GET OUT!"
"I can't, and that's the sad part," Minwu said. She watched as he became engulfed in a bright sparkling blue light, and when the light faded, Minwu no longer stood there. Who was it? She was a woman wearing a white dress with a dark purple cloak over her head, holding a spell book with a pentagram on it. "Because I'm a part of you."
"You're… me?" Cantirena asked.
"I am not you. There are more sides to you than just the one filled with fear and regret…"
She looked at the floor. "You are my fears? And regrets?"
"I am that piece of you which holds not only your most negative thoughts about yourself, but what you fear you will hear from those you cherish the most. You fear not being able to escape Mateus or the Demon King's influence. You believe your parents would hate you after all you've done. And you even believe the man you love the most is the one who hates you the most deep down."
"My lord Minwu…"
"You cherish him more than any other, and you fear his rejection more than anything the Demon King could ever do to you."
Cantirena watched as the figure before her took off the cloak on her head. Just then, Cantirena felt as if she was staring straight into a mirror. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Why are you here? I'm dreaming, aren't I?"
"Yes, you are dreaming." That was her voice coming out of that woman which looked just like her own reflection.
"So what are you doing here?"
"I have come forth to tell you that you cannot push me away," her reflection explained it so very simply. "You have to face me, head on, because otherwise… I will kill you from the inside out."
Cantirena took a deep breath. "Fear does consume…"
"Not just that. But it will cloud your judgment, it will lead you down a path very similar to the one that the dear prince you fell in love with happens to travel down to this very day. You're lucky that you were saved when you were, because I'm sure you know what would have happened if the Demon King kept dwelling within your heart and mind, Cantirena. I am very sure you are aware of this. You think you have a trigger temper now? He would manipulate those parts of you that are weak, the ones that Minwu has to snap you from every time he feels your aura fluctuate. There will come a time when you must face me in battle. I may not take this form, but you will have to face me. I may not look like you. I may look like your sisters, the Emperor, your parents, or your dearly beloved Minwu. I may take the form of someone or something else, but this battle will happen. So, for the sake of us both, I need you to fight back no matter what form I take."
She nodded in agreement. "I can't let myself fall down a path like this one. You're right. When the time comes, I will fight back with all of my might. I'll be stronger than my fears, stronger than my past. My present is the strongest I've ever been."
"…that's what I wanted to hear," the reflection said, giving her that same smile she always gave everyone. Cantirena wondered if she always looked like that. "I'm glad. Because even if I have to fight you, I'm still a part of you. All right, well, the real world needs you. When you see the Emperor again, be sure to tell him that… everything's going to be all right, okay?"
"For… old time's sake, even if you have to smash his face in. Do it for me. Let him know that, deep down… he is still loved. I believe… he needs to hear it. From you."
"Hm. I will do that." Cantirena agreed to the idea. Her reflection was right. Even after all that had happened, she was still very worried about Mateus being possessed by the Demon King. Even though she had her heart promised to Minwu, she still gave the Emperor room in her heart. Accepting the fact wasn't particularly easy.
Suddenly she felt incredibly dizzy. The room spun around her. She fell back onto the floor, into the same position she was in when she woke up a few moments ago, and she closed her eyes.
"Hey, Sis… c'mon, time to eat!"
"How long has she been sleeping there, Minwu?"
"Oh, about a good six hours or so."
"You must have really torn into her, am I right?"
"We got stew here, it's all ready bubbling."
Cantirena opened her eyes to find that she was surrounded by that of Minwu and her two sisters. She was on the floor, covered up by a single white sheet which didn't hide the fact that she was wearing nothing underneath it. Minwu ruffled her hair and sat next to her, holding up a book full of Ancient Mysidian. "My… Minwu…" she whispered.
Minwu pulled her close so she could read the pages, too. "My Cantirena," he answered her whisper with another one, kissing her cheek gently. "We should get to studying, because we cannot wait here forever. There are opponents out there that absolutely must be faced, and we're not getting any closer to it without figuring out the secret of the crystal."
"You're right," Cantirena said as Clarisse handed her a bowl of stew. "So, no villages nearby?"
"Nope," Candice grunted, sitting down with her own. "And I wanted some tacos so bad, too."
"You and me both," Clarisse replied as she drank from the bowl she held. "At least the stew is good. Baby rabbits are a pretty tender meat, and they go great with all these veggies."
Cantirena ate slowly as she and Minwu went over each symbol in the book, trying to piece everything together. Her dream was so very fresh in her mind, but she didn't talk to anyone about it. Her fears and past regrets, those were her problem to face.
I will face anything that comes at me. Head on. I'm stronger than I've ever been…
END CHAPTER EIGHT