Ch 9, part 7
"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.
Once Firion had time to recover, he went back outside the ruins of Altair to build his strength back up by slaying monsters. He wanted to make sure that everything worked like it should before they had any more big missions in the future, especially with what Princess Hilda wrote to him in that letter. Firion was a captain now, and he vowed to do good by that title. He wanted to keep his sense of honor - not to defile the name of the position in the way that Borghen had. He often stopped to think of Clarisse and Cantirena, as he missed them both, and he was curious to know how Minwu was getting along. He'd never been apart from those three for such a long amount of time, and even though he knew he would be scolded for some fool thing, he missed it dreadfully.
Ricard came back with Cid a few days ago, and together with pirate captain Leila and Prince Gordon, they made an effort to search the town for anything they could. Firion remembered what it was like to find Princess Hilda's crown crushed on the floor of what used to be the rebel base. How Gordon fell to his knees, screaming as loudly as he could. He laid there on that burnt floor and wept for an entire day before coming back out with a much more serious expression that he ever had on his face before. Cid was visibly pained by what he found, but the old pilot didn't let him affect him the way that it had affected Gordon. Ricard wept silently for both the Queen he served and the Princess the rebels served, knowing that there were no more monarchs to lead the war effort save for Gordon. Firion felt hopeless in that moment. He tried to comfort Gordon, but Gordon wanted none of it, so Firion ended up spending a lot of time away from the party members.
Every time Firion thought about what happened in the rebel base's ruins, he was overcome with a paralyzing fear that perhaps this war really was a lost effort. He wondered exactly where the hell Paul was and why he didn't defend the Princess. Eventually that fear turned into something like hate. He wanted to beat the shit out of Paul for letting Hilda become a charred husk.
Soon Firion could hear voices coming from somewhere out in the distance.
"I don't expect you to understand," a voice said. "But I can't go back to Galtea."
"You should, this battle is no place for you," another replied. "You are the trainee of a weapons smith, not a squire. You have no preparations for combat, so I have no choice but to take you back home to your Grandfather."
Firion could tell that it was a man and a woman having a discussion, but what were they doing talking like that while traveling? As he squinted, he could see that they were familiar figures: the greatest thief in the world, Paul; and a little spirited teenager with light green hair, Krystal. Now he really had questions to ask.
"Hey!" Firion called out to them, waving. "Is that you, Paul?"
"Firion?" Krystal asked, surprised to hear that voice. She ran faster all the way up until she was right in front of Firion, then glomped around him suddenly. "It's nice to see you again, friend."
"Hm, friend," Firion muttered. "Paul hasn't done anything to hurt you, has he?"
"Now why would you ask that?" Krystal asked.
"Because it wouldn't be the first girl he's hurt," Firion grunted angrily. "I have to make sure there's been no repeats going on here, if you catch my drift."
"There's nothing to worry about," Krystal answered Firion's query simply. "Paul and I got started on the wrong foot, but there's no doubt that he means the best for all of us and that he's committed to the rebellion. He did come back to save me from the Emperor, after all. I didn't expect that, considering the impression I had of him at first."
"You're all so quick to judge a thief," Paul said as he approached them both. "Firion, m'boy, we have much to discuss. I take it that the Kashuon attendant found his way here and delivered the letter as I told him to do so?"
"Yes," Firion replied.
"Good," Paul said. "Then you know everything you need to know."
"No, I think everyone here needs to know exactly why Princess Hilda's crown is crushed on the floor of a destroyed base and why her body is nothing but a charred husk, Paul. You owe a damn explanation to everybody, especially Gordon!"
Paul sighed. He was going to get this question no matter how often he explained it, no matter how many people asked him. The story never changed. He always told it as coldly as he could, because otherwise, he would have lost himself in every bit of emotion that those hearing it did.
When he came back to where everyone had set up camp, he introduced himself to Ricard and he told them everything that was on his mind. He explained the situation in Mysidia, and why Hilda believed she needed to give her life to buy Minwu time. He told of what happened in Mysidia and why Minwu wasn't there yet. He even went into detail about why Krystal was with him, and all his thoughts and feelings about having to make a deal with the devil himself to save her life. Krystal cried a few times, Cid wiped his eyes at least once, Firion was left with a sweeping feeling of 'what the hell can I do now', and Gordon lost it when Paul explained that he couldn't stop her from stabbing herself before giving the orders to torch Altair.
It was round two of mourning for Gordon. Immediately after hearing it, he got up and walked off by himself. Everyone could hear him sobbing and shouting all sorts of obscenities at whatever deity above would listen to him, begging for Hilda's comfort, and most of all, the guidance of his brother. Gordon had never felt so alone before, because while his brother was dead, at least Hilda was there to give him support.
It was then that Gordon decided the moment Minwu returned, they were going to prepare a counterstrike. No longer would any Imperial exist in her castle as long as he drew breath!