Ch 9, 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.
Minwu led the party to the group of tents nearby, noticing that he had not seen any people since they crossed the hills. The place was desolate. Empty. There was no life nearby, save the wild creatures. Not a sentient being lived anywhere near those tents. It seemed very strange.
"Is it a ghost town?" Candice asked.
"Yeah, but if they were running away, wouldn't they take their tents? Tents are easy to pack," Clarisse answered. She kept looking inside each tent, finding no one inside any of them.
"Not for people who don't have the item pouch," Cantirena said. "You know how big those things are. We wouldn't be able to carry one easily without the pouch…" She was still tired and it felt as if her life was being drained the longer she was away from the Angel's Tunnel. Ever since she had come out of there, she was dizzy. Her head hurt, her body ached, her spirit seemed weaker than usual, and she found it hard to concentrate on much of anything.
Minwu shook his head. He looked up at the sky, noticing the clouds were gathering nearby. It would be raining very soon. "Unless…" he trailed off, "…those who lived here before no longer do."
"I don't see any blood on anything, so I don't think they were killed off in battle," Candice said. "Everything looks pretty clean."
"Looks clean," Minwu said. "But you don't know if, perhaps… this place is…"
Cantirena fell to her knees, finding it hard to stand anymore. "Ugh," she groaned before flopping to the ground face first.
"Hey, sis, you all right?" Clarisse asked, walking over to Cantirena. "…hey?"
"I don't feel good…"
Minwu snapped his fingers. "That's what this is," he said. "This place is… diseased."
"Diseased?" Candice and Clarisse gasped at the same time.
"I believe so," Minwu said, kneeling down next to Cantirena. He put a hand on her forehead, untying the ripped tent cloth and throwing it aside so her hair could bounce about the way it typically did. "My love," he said. "You are very feverish." Calling forth his healing aura, he cast the spell to end all sicknesses, Esuna. The energy landed on Cantirena's body and soaked in through her skin, but she didn't sit back up. In the process of his casting, she fell asleep. When he touched her forehead again, the fever had not gone away. "What?" he asked angrily. "My healing spell did not work."
"Try giving her a kiss?" Candice asked.
"…what?" Minwu had a very unimpressed look on her face.
"Okay, so you're not Prince Charming, but she might see you as one," Candice said quietly. "It was a joke. Geez, Minwu. Grow a sense of humor."
"This isn't the time to laugh!" Minwu snapped. "I don't know what this disease is; and since everyone from this camp looks to be dead, I've not got anyone to consult about this!"
"You're going to drive yourself crazy if you keep thinking like that," Candice muttered, crossing her arms as she slumped down to sit next to Minwu and Cantirena. "Sometimes you have to laugh, or you'll kill yourself being too damn serious. I know you're not really the comedy kind of guy… but it's rare to see you actually enjoy yourself on a social level."
"I'm not going to discuss this with you."
"…is that the reason you've decided to make a lover out of your student?" Candice asked. "Because you don't know how to approach women your own age? You know how taboo your relationship is, right?"
Minwu put his hand over Cantirena's heart. He could tell that it was beating slightly faster, but not so fast that she seemed to be in immediate danger. Clarisse came and sat back down next to the other three, as she didn't find anything when she decided to walk off and explore the tents again.
"Because I do not expect Cantirena to wake immediately, I will share something with you both, but you must both swear to me a vow of absolute secrecy," Minwu said, taking in a deep breath.
"Cross my heart and hope to die," Clarisse said. "I won't tell a soul. Who would I tell?"
"Do you want me to give you a pinkie promise?" Candice asked. "Because I will."
"You don't know the rage behind breaking a pinkie promise," Clarisse said quietly. "You may wish to refrain."
"It's a promise I do not intend to break," Candice said. "This is about Canti, so I feel like it's important we all know, so we can all prepare for it. So we can all work on it together, instead of one person doing all this stuff behind the scenes and leaving everyone in the dark. There's too much room for error that way. So, Minwu, spit it out."
Minwu nodded. "I care about Cantirena more than I have ever cared about any other person in this world. I do love her…"
"But I know Cantirena's feelings. If I didn't give her what she years for, then she will willingly go back to the Emperor, changed or not. Truthfully, I didn't intend this relationship to turn into what it has now. When I found out that she did indeed loved the Prince of Palamecia, I wanted nothing more than to see her with him, happily working for the greater good as she said she believed in. That meeting in Fynn… she didn't want to tell me her thoughts afterward, but I knew. I knew she had fallen in love at first sight with Mateus. It was obvious."
"Tell me about it…" Clarisse said. "She kept going on and on about the prince she met at that meeting. He was handsome, he was smart, he was gentle. Cantirena didn't tell me directly, and over time, she talked about him less, but yes. It's true."
"I wanted her to not just be her aide as I was to Hilda. I wanted Cantirena to marry him, because I wanted her to achieve her dream. She is not royalty, but with my influence in the royal court, she did have a legitimate chance to marry him," Minwu explained. "But she came back from being his prisoner… and even after the evil energy was out of her body… I don't know what all he did to her, but I know something sexual happened between them. I couldn't tell you if she was a willing participant, either. Cantirena confessed to me during a lesson that she had… sexual dreams about me. She couldn't concentrate on it because she couldn't get it out of her head. That's when I realized… if I didn't distract her from yearning for what he gave her... I would lose her forever to him. I gave in, against my better judgment."
"Do you still want Canti to marry the Emperor?" Candice asked.
"If… we find a way to free him from the Demon King's possession and we can turn him back into his old self again," Minwu said quietly, "Then yes. I would have her marry him."
"But, but Minwu!" Clarisse shouted. "You can't just lead her along like that! You… you love Canti more than anyone, and she loves you more than anyone else! You can't just expect her to understand."
"I know this is the case," Minwu said. "But… unless it's to keep her safe from those who would harm her, I will not marry her. Cantirena loves Mateus."
"What gives you that impression?"
"…ever since she broke free of his contact, she's seemed a little sad. She has that look that makes me wonder… if she's only giving me the affection because-"
"I'm not going to listen to this," Candice said angrily. "You're an idiot. For being the best mage in the world, you're dumber than panties made of poison ivy."
Minwu sighed. "I have seen the end of my life…" he whispered. "…I wish to cure the Emperor of his ills and purify his land before this comes. If he is restored to his former self, I will not have to worry about Cantirena being left behind with no one to look after her."
Both Clarisse and Candice looked at Minwu, shocked to hear that. What was he talking about? Minwu was a very magical man with an air of mystery about him, but this seemed to come out of nowhere. Even though Paul saved him from being put to death, Minwu still had the idea of himself dying on his mind.
Every man is destined to die, Minwu thought. I have seen my end, though I do not know if it comes now or years down the road. Even so, I will make sure that someone will be there to keep a watch over Cantirena even when I am gone. I will give you no heirs, my love. The end of the Magi tribe ends with my death, as it should be. Forgive me. Forgive me for everything.
END CHAPTER NINE