Ch 1, part 8
"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all original characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fanfiction. There is no profit being made from this story.
Walking through the different floors of the gargantuan Dreadnaught, Cantirena felt faint. From what was explained to her by the guards who were showing her the progress made on the ship, the fuel used to run the warship was burnable only by the precious Sunfire which was kept in a shrine in Kashuon. Upon reflection, now she knew why the twin princes of Kashuon, Scott and Gordon, were both staying at Fynn castle up until the massacre.
Kashuon's castle is home to the only torch in the world that can hold Sunfire, Cantirena remembered in thought. Minwu spoke of it during a geography lesson. The proud warriors of Kashuon have defended the ancient castle which holds the sacred flame since the days of our ancestors. The way the fire was originally created is no longer known by the general people, but the flame is not allowed to die out. From what Minwu said, the castle was built around the Sunfire itself. They treated it as a blessing from the Goddess.
Still, that didn't change anything. Cantirena hated the smell of the fuel of the ship. It was stagnant. Rotten. The whole body of the ship was made of mythril, and there was not a single window in the entire body to air out that intense stink.
"Milady princess," the guard said. "Is something the matter?"
"I am not used to such fumes," Cantirena replied. "It is enough to knock a person over."
"Aye," the guard said, "That's why the general never stayed in here very long. He fainted after being in here for twenty minutes."
Is there a such thing as too much industrialization? I come from a country town that prides itself on agriculture and fishing. The closest we had to a machine was a damn canoe…
"Whatever happened to that Borghen, anyway?" Cantirena asked.
"He was transferred, since he wasn't getting any work done here. The Emperor was extremely displeased and sent him on another assignment. I figured he'd find someone else to come here to lead this project," the guard said. "No offense intended, milady."
"That's not offensive," she said. "Let's focus on what's important, which is getting this work done. The sooner it's done, the sooner everyone can move on with their lives."
"Yes, princess," the guard bowed his head. "Where should we start?"
"When the hour turns, I want you to gather up half of the workforce and begin finishing the hull immediately."
Cantirena nodded. "Yes. Only half. We will switch out the two work forces, giving them equal time to work and rest. Every 12 hours we will switch them." She put her hands on her hips and added, "The more efficiently they work, the quicker the project will be done. We do want the Emperor to see that we diligently support him in all we do."
"Of course! All Glory to Palamecia!"
You know, if nothing else, I can get them to go along with what I suggest based on that alone. I hate having to use it as a motivator, but… would they listen to me otherwise? Probably not. I haven't exactly proven myself yet.
Cantirena gave a salute. "We'll do one major task at a time. When each thing is completed, we will move on to the next task."
"Understood," the guard said, turning to walk away.
Each step taken inside that ship made a loud clanking noise that could be heard all throughout. Right now, it was empty save a few of the Dark Knights. The same knights that decimated Fynn and killed Cantirena's parents were right there, and she was working with them. The more she thought about it, the more she needed to walk outside. Clear her brain from both that terrible smell and from looking at those dastardly knights. She felt much more at ease the moment she could feel the wind.
I know this will not forgive me for what I did in Fynn, she thought, sitting down on the grass outside. I know… what I did… was wrong...
She looked around, then she put her head down.
I know… what I did was wrong…
"Why has the work stopped?" a voice asked from somewhere nearby. The sound of rustling grass coming closer meant that someone "The Emperor will not be pleased to hear about this little mishap. I guess that princess of his is usele-"
Cantirena stood up quickly. She knew that voice very well. "Speak ill of his majesty's emissary, and he will not take kindly to it," she said coldly. "Who are you?"
She knew exactly who it was. The famed Captain of Fynn's Royal Guard and her sister's private teacher, Borghen, wore medals and fringe befitting a hero, but he carried himself like a shriveled up husk of a man. He hardly had any of the strength he showed before the attack on Fynn. Clearly he carried some guilt in his heart.
"And who, might I ask, are you?" he barked at her.
Cantirena didn't know how to respond to that at first. "I am the emissary of His Grace, The Emperor," she replied.
"So you're the one I hear all of them whispering about," Borghen said, walking closer to her. "The Emperor's personal whore has come to direct us all in this large endeavor."
"Who whispers such accusations, other than you?" she asked.
"Why, all of the troops in the barracks have referred to you as such," he replied slyly. "I have tried to tell them to keep such idle rumors at bay, but they won't listen to me."
I can see why they wouldn't, Cantirena thought. You sniveling little…
She shrugged. All the things she wanted to tell him, she couldn't say anything. There was no way she was going to let herself be known to anyone other than Mateus himself. He betrayed everything he had in Fynn for a command in the Palamecian Army. He turned his back on her sister, Clarisse, who admired him.
"Rumors are just that," Cantirena said, turning to go back in the ship. "I suggest that if you do not wish to be put to work, you leave the area."
"I do not need to work!" Borghen snapped angrily. "I am a General of the Palamecian Empire!"
"I was told that you were reassigned to oversee the Mythril Mines in Salamand."
"Aye, I was!" he shouted. "I had this project under total control! What the hell did the Emperor need you to come here for?"
She put her hands on her hips. "To show you how it is done." Cantirena walked back into the airship. "Get to Salamand!"
"The Dark Princess, hmm?" Borghen asked, slumping off in the opposite direction. "Something about her seems very familiar… I'm pretty sure I heard that voice before. Somewhere."
The hour had turned, and the guards were bringing in the workers.
"All right," she said loudly. "You've had time to rest. We're all on the clock. Give me your best for the next twelve hours, and we'll have the other team come in while you rest."
One of the workers walked over to her. "You mean, you're going to let us… rest?"
Cantirena nodded. "But of course. You won't be able to work efficiently without being rested well enough. I hope knowing this you'll work as hard as you're able."
"Hey, you! Get back in line!" a guard shouted at the one who strayed from his post.
"No need to be like that," Cantirena said. "Do what you can. The Emperor will know of your effort. I assure you."
"Then I will do what I can!" the guard replied, walking back over to where he was originally stationed.
She smiled. "Let's get moving! I want to see the hull completed within the day, if possible!"
Mateus, just wait. I will prove to you my devotion, but at the same time, it will not cost a single worker's life while I am in charge. I hope they will become faithful to you through me. All glory to you, my Emperor.
Meanwhile, across the world, Mateus was in his castle. The castle was the capital of the Empire of Palamecia, which wasn't much aside from craggy mountains surrounded by a vast, empty desert far away from every other country in the world. The skies above Palamecia swirled about with dark clouds constantly. No one who lived there had seen the sun since Mateus had ascended the throne after his father passed away.
He sat on his throne almost hunched over in pain from his throbbing headache. He was alone in his misery, as he had left his newest toy in charge of building him yet another new toy. He sat there for hours, half asleep, half pondering the next step in his plan for world conquest.
A woman came down the hallway, running as fast as she could. "My son," she called. "Mateus, I am sorry I missed your arrival."
Mateus glared at the woman who called him by his name. "Mother," he grunted. "I was not expecting you to wait for me."
"Mateus," she said, coming to his side. "I worry for you."
"There is nothing to worry about," he said. "I will have all that belongs to me."
"Yes, about that…" she put her hands on his, and pulled away from her. "…I do not know if declaring war on the entire world is the right way to do it."
Mateus turned to look at her, and she gasped loudly. His eyes glowed red for a few seconds, and it looked like a part of his crown was moving. Reacting to her presence, even. "Do you question the Emperor's methods?" he asked angrily.
A voice came from down the hall. "Milady Airu! Your Majesty! Message from Bafsk!"
"Bafsk?" Mateus said quietly. "Bring it." When the letter reached his hands, he opened it quietly. "Well, well. Such promise."
"What is it?" Airu asked curiously. "What are you doing, my son? What happened to you?! Where is my gentle son? What have you done to him?"
"Get out of my sight!" Mateus shouted at her, pushing her away. "Take her to her tower." He watched the guards escort her out of the throne room. "Excellent… The world between will belong to the demon king, and from here, Heaven is just a stone's throw away from overtaking."