Ch 9, 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.
The Emperor Mateus had spent time with his mother, as he planned. What he found out about her was that even though she was acting obedient, she had other things on her mind. She never once looked him in the eyes during their conversation, and she hesitated before giving most of her answers. He was slightly disappointed that she wasn't his willing puppet now that she'd rested and had some nourishment, so he decided to make sure things were going to go his way, even if they weren't right then. After he dismissed his mother from the dining table, where she ate only enough to satisfy his inquiry as to why she wasn't eating, Airu slowly walked away, and the servants came along to clean up the mess. It took perhaps twenty minutes to clean off the whole table.
Once they were gone, the Emperor didn't have much to deal with, aside from that damned pesky voice which dwelled in his head. Mateus hated that voice. He had the power of Iluia in his body, at his service, so why was Iluia still acting like he owned them? The only power Iluia still had of his own accord was that which still slept within the stone the Palamecian Royal Family had guarded for many generations, and after he left to chase down his desirable Cantirena, Mateus had the stone put away in a deeper location than where he had it during the time when his Dark Princess was staying with him.
How he missed her.
Sure, under the Demon King's influence, she wasn't as genuine as she was normally. She still gave him affection unlike any other woman had, and it seemed as though she was honest about her love for him. Cantirena would have made him the loveliest bride, and she slipped out of his hands due to his own short-sightedness. Mateus had her under the impression that she was not only married to him, but that she was carrying his heir. The dark powers Iluia lent him were able to influence memories and dreams as well as directly possess. If only he had taken her more often, or perhaps, if he waited to lay his trap and kept her directly at his side until the rebels decided to come home to him, would he have left a much more lasting impression… Cantirena had only been with him a week, and during that week, she did nothing but receive his affections or sleep at his side during the swirling evil stone.
But, if he had her now, in her current condition, he didn't want to lay with her in the energies of darkness. Mateus didn't want her to become possessed by that maniac Demon King this time. He wanted to show her his Empire. The time before, something about it… something about it didn't seem right.
No, no. It was right. Mateus was the Emperor. What he wanted, he damn well got, and she put up a resistance against him.
Well, the reason why she refused him was because she was afraid of the evil in the stone hanging over the bed. Anyone with half a spirit sense would have been scared of that frightful thing and the way the energies came forth from it. Even past heirs of the Palamecian Royal Family were scared of it, and because of their inability to handle being close to the most powerful of all demonic beings sealed within the stone, they did die in the past.
Mateus shook his head. What was happening to him? His head ached, and it felt as if his heart was being torn into two sides based on how he treated the one person in the world who he believed actually loved him for who he was at one point. He believed that, by now, she had come to hate him. Minwu broke the spell on her somehow, and not only that, but he saw, through her eyes, that Minwu kissed Cantirena directly, in a romantic sort of way… and her reaction was one of pure adoring bliss.
"Why are you thinking about this?"
"I've… done something terrible," Mateus answered. He looked around to see that during the time he was lost in thought debating with himself, he had brought himself back to his throne, which was the place in the palace where he liked to sit and think most of the time.
"Come now, are you going to tell me that you actually feel… regret over what you've done? You are the Emperor and reign on high in this land, remember? Nothing is beyond you or above you... Or, are you as human as the rest of the filth in this world?"
"I may be human, but I am superior to you, Iluia," Mateus said, resting his head on his hand like he tended to do. "I am much more superior to you. I do not wish to hear your voice in my mind ever again, or I will find a way to destroy your stone myself."
"I am who gives you your powers, Mateus. You would not dare destroy that which gives you-"
"I do not need your powers to conquer this world," the Emperor replied coldly. "I do not need anything you have to offer, though what you provide me with is a great offering, it is not enough to save your life, should you actually manage to make me angry enough to decide to terminate you." He closed his eyes, and all he could see in his mind was the girl from that meeting in Fynn. It seemed so long ago, meeting her when she was just an innocent student.
"You believe that she will come back to you, after all that's taken place? Not willingly. Not without my powers of possession and manipulation will you be able to keep her for yourself…"
"You forget, Iluia, love is one of the most powerful motivators for a typical human," Mateus said, his tone not changing. "If I am able to show her that I truly do love her, and that I have changed my ways, perhaps she will wander back into my arms willingly. Perhaps Minwu was giving her physical affection to keep her from running back here to me, as a safety mechanism of sorts. There is no way I would believe someone like Minwu would actually look at someone he practically raised as a lover."
"…so what do you plan to do?"
"…I will send a spy or two to the Altair region. They will notify me the moment Cantirena is within the area, along with Minwu. That is when we will announce the tournament in my mother's honor… and we will sue them for peace."
"You would show them that you are your old self again?"
"You catch on quicker than I imagined you would…"
"There will be those who do not believe you have mended your ways."
Mateus nodded at that. "And we will just have to deal with those who can see through my traps, but… as long as I can separate Cantirena from them and bring her to me, to make her see that I am the prince she has long to be with... then the rest will fall into place. She and I will marry, and then the war will resume, with every single person who does not live in the Palamecian Empire's borders condemned to eternal damnation for ever thinking of raising a finger against the One True Emperor."
He could then hear the quick clacks of shoes in the hallway, like they were going in the opposite direction.
"…Who is there?" Mateus yelled, standing up instantly. "Bring whoever that is to me immediately!"
Guards raced after whoever was creating that noise, and within a few moments, brought before him lady Airu, being held up against her will just high enough so her feet would not touch the floor. She struggled to get away from them, but she was still weaker than usual, and the only magic she had ever studied was healing and protective. She had no way to escape this.
"…so. I save you from a life of slavery, and you repay me by… eavesdropping."
Airu kept trying to struggle. "Cantirena is not your fiancée… I don't understand why you covet her so much, but it can't be good if that's what the Demon King has been telling you to do!" she shouted at him. Her vision was blurred from all the tears that poured from her eyes. "To think that my own son… is being controlled… by the source of evil in the world! One I had raised to be pure hearted and kind…"
"Are you finished?" Mateus asked her. "You were going to tell the rebels of my plan, Mother. That I cannot forgive. That would keep me from claiming my woman, killing the man who keeps thwarting me, and… preventing me from being able to put you to any use." He shook his head. "Take her to the dungeons. Give the lady twenty lashes, and we'll see where things go from there. I'll be down to check on you in a bit, Mother, but right now… you deserve what's coming to you. She is not allowed to die. I do need her next week for the tournament. If she dies, I'll kill everyone in the dungeons the moment I find out. Now, go."
"Mateus, stop this… you can still do the right thing and set things right!" Airu shouted as the guards started to carry her off. "You can still… if you really want the girl to love you, you're going to have to-"
"Shut up!" a guard snapped at her, slapping her head extremely hard.
Mateus looked away from watching his mother being carried off, but he did not get off of his throne once he sat back down in it. "Palamecia will be the undisputed capital of the entire world, and I will be at its helm. Come home to me, my lovely Cantirena. Come home to me, and we will make children with unbelievable powers and magnificent ability. Those who come from our union will make excellent super soldiers, wouldn't you say?" He laughed at himself. "So I will roll out the red carpet for our reunion and wait for your return. Prosperity will be ours."