Ch 9, part 1
"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.
CHAPTER NINE BEGINS
Reaching the shores of the Altair area took a few more days than Leila and Cid expected. The winds were unfavorable, there were many more monsters coming from the water than there was on their way to Deist, and the fish the pirates caught to cook on their voyage home only made them feel sick. Something was wrong with the world. It was as if the world itself was sicker.
Firion was right alongside Prince Gordon, who spent most of the trip throwing up over the side. He never did get his sea legs, and he couldn't wait to curl up in bed in the Rebel Base in Altair. Firion was also sick, but not because of the constant motion, more because of the ransid fish that he ate. The two of them were physically exhausted beyond all reason.
Clarisse… Firion thought as he laid on the deck of the ship. He could feel that they were weighing anchor, but all of the voices around him were so faint. His life force was slowly fading away from his body. He was so dizzy that he couldn't even stand. His belly rumbled, signaling his hunger. Are you… doing all right with Minwu? Is… is Canti okay? …I wish I could ask you in person…
Ricard reached down to pick up Firion, who was much heavier than Gordon, who Cid was carrying piggyback. Leila and Elina both tended to the little Kain. Together they crossed the plains leading to the patch of trees which marked the outskirts of Altair.
"That is strange," Ricard said curiously. "Cid, you say there is a village here?"
"Yeah, this is Altair territory," Cid answered.
They walked into what used to be Altair, finding nothing standing but the water fountain. The place was nothing but rubble and ash. Even the grass was burned to a crisp.
Gordon opened his eyes a few time. "Should we not be in… Altair by now?" he asked.
"Err," Cid said. "We are."
Gordon climbed off of Cid's back by force, straightening himself up and doing is best to walk. Then, he took a moment to take into account his surroundings, and he fell right back onto his butt in shock. "Wha… wha… what?!" he shrieked loudly. "All of you must search every nook and cranny of this place. I…"
"You won't find anything," a voice said, coming out from behind a pile of rubble. "Prince Gordon…" He was the man who had been forced to be the barkeep for Imperial Soldiers while hiding Prince Scott, and the man who pointed his finger at Cantirena during the meeting of the Circle of Mages in Mysidia.
"Wait," Gordon said, looking at the gentleman who had revealed himself. "You were my brother's vassal. You came to Fynn with us… during the massacre on Kashuon."
"You… you're Marshal!" Gordon said, snapping his fingers. "I… I can't believe you've survived. You actually made it this far…"
"I must serve the passionate flame of Kashuon, my prince, that is the vow I took as a knight," Marshal said, bowing. "And now that Scott is no longer with us, I serve you, as you are the heir to Kashuon." He reached inside his pocket. "I carry a letter from the Princess Hilda for you." He pulled out the letter and placed it into the young prince's hand. "…and if you know a person by the name of Firion, I have a letter for him, too."
Ricard put Firion on his own two feet, but with hunger and exhaustion, he wasn't exactly fit to make a royal appearance. Firion raised his hand. "My name's Firion," he said quietly. Marshal placed the other letter in Firion's hand, then bowed a little before going back to stand next to Gordon.
"I'm…" Firion's body was too heavy underneath him to stand very much longer. He sat down and opened the letter. "Wow, I'm tired…"
"To Firion – Thank you for proving me wrong. Thank you for putting all of your effort into the rebellion, even though I told you and Clarisse that you could both stay as civilians. You've done nothing but further our efforts towards freedom. Now, I need you to fight, harder than ever. I wish to make you the Captain of the Royal Guard from this point forward. Make me proud. All of my love, Hilda Fynn-Kashuon."
Firion stared at the letter for a moment, unable to really make heads or tails of this. "Wait," he said. "Hilda wrote this letter, but… where is she? Can't she tell me this herself?"
Gordon opened his letter. The handwriting was unmistakably Hilda's. He knew it anywhere, as he remembered Scott showing him letters the princess had exchanged with him during their younger years.
"My dear Gordon – I hate to leave you like this. Scott has no worries in Heaven with you as the remaining Heir of Kashuon. Please, unite our lands together officially and rule as King. Lead our peoples to freedom, Gordon. You must stand face-to-face with the Emperor as the ruler of the free realm. It's all in your hands now. With Minwu as your advisor, and Firion as your captain to lead your army, you shall not fail. Everything will come together under the three of you. We are the Wild Rose Rebellion. We will not wilt. We will not die. Stand up to Palamecia. All of my love, Hilda Fynn-Kashuon."
Gordon felt very similar to Firion's initial reaction to the letters. "Marshal, did Princess Hilda give you these letters?"
"No, my liege. I received those from Paul."
Cid nodded. "Paul always knows what he's doing," he said. "He's never in the wrong place at the wrong time. The damn man has the knack for always being where he needs to be. We can trust Paul knows what happened to Hilda. I can only assume she's in hiding somewhere. She's a very intelligent woman like that."
"Yeah, we probably have a new base since the Emperor torched Altair," Firion agreed quietly. "I'd believe that."
Ricard looked at Elina, who seemed to be standing tall though she was very tired. "Is there any village nearby at all?" he asked. "I wish to take Elina and Kain somewhere so they may rest."
"There's Galtea, providing it hasn't been turned into a crater, too," Cid said quietly. "How about I lead you up there, while Leila sticks around and keeps an eye here on the two boys? They've got a lot more than just empty bellies to deal with right now. It's a very short walk from here to Galtea, so we'll be back in an hour and a half, tops."
"Then we will do that," Ricard said. "I am so sorry you still have more to walk, Elina."
"I'll be fine," she said gently. "I'm more worried about Kain." Kain was cuddled up her in her arms, sleeping. Elina had grown very tired and her arms were becoming weaker the longer she held the boy up. "Once we find an inn, or perhaps a live-in work arrangement, we will be fine."
"That is good to hear," Ricard smiled underneath his dragon shaped helmet.
Cid nodded at Leila. "Keep an eye on these two boys. Have the grunts go catch some meat or something to make a stew. We'll be hungry when we get back."
Leila gave them a thumbs up. "Not to worry, boss. Everything will be fine. Just get back here soon. I wanna put up a tent or two before dark. Who knows what a ruined town might have in it at night? Anything from monsters to ghosts!"
"Aye," Cid agreed.
Firion collapsed after a few moments. Why was Altair a pile of ash? He was certain that the Empire was behind it without a single doubt, but he didn't understand why that was. Minwu and the three sisters were headed to the west, and they headed east. Sure, they were shot down, but there was no reason for Altair to be nothing. It didn't make sense.
Clarisse… he thought again. I… miss you so much. I could use… one of your scoldings… right about now, haha…