Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 1, part 9

"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.

Part 9

Altair's weapon shop was full of patrons that afternoon. Tobul, however, did not look like he was in the best of spirits. His long white beard may have covered his wrinkles, but it did not hide his weariness. Even though there were many people coming through due to the Farmer's Market going on that day, not a single blade had sold. Firion and Clarisse had come to talk to Tobul, but the old man did not respond to anything. He seemed distant and distraught.

"Grandpa!" a young girl called from behind the counter. "Hey, Grandpa!"

Tobul grunted as he turned to look at her. She must not have been a day over sixteen. "What do you want, Krystal? Can't you see I'm busy?" he shuffled off to a corner of the building, sitting next to a table with a sharpening stone.

"Busy ignoring customers…" Krystal muttered. "All ya'll better clear outta here. When he gets like this, no one can get through to him…"

"Well, what's wrong?" Firion asked. "Can we help? We really need to talk to Master Tobul."

Krystal came from behind the counter, putting her hands on her hips. "The old man just doesn't wanna talk to anyone," she said. "Sometimes I think it might be my fault."

"Why would that be?" Clarisse asked.

"Well…" Krystal looked away sadly. "…I had to come live with him yesterday."

"Wait!" Clarisse shouted. "You're Fynn's weapon smith's daughter!"

"And you're Borghen's student, Clarisse," Krystal replied in turn. "Then there's Firion, the friendly neighborhood hero…" she looked around. "Wait, you always had someone else with you, too. Your sister, is she not with you?"

Clarisse shook her head. "The Imperials got her," she said quietly. "That's why I've joined the rebellion. Our first assignment has to do with Master Tobul, and I would greatly appreciate it if he would just give us a few moments of his time."

"Like Daddy," Krystal said. She seemed like she wanted to ask it, but it didn't come out like a question. It sounded more like she understood completely. "That's why I'm joining the rebellion, too! I can't fight or travel long distances, but I will help make our troops the best weapons in the world!"

"Oh, shut up! You're just a girl!" Tobul shouted at her. "The rebellion is no place for someone like you, Krystal!"

"No, Grandpa… I won't stand by and watch the world get devoured by this war! The Imperials took my daddy, and since I can't fight, I'll do what I can do!" Krystal pounded her fist on the counter. "This isn't just a grown up's war. This is everyone's war!"

"Such conviction," a voice said from the door. Everyone looked to see that it was Minwu coming in. "Master Tobul, if I may speak to y-"

"You may not, court mage." Tobul groaned angrily.

"We've tried being nice all ready," Clarisse said, shrugging.

Minwu walked up to the old man and whispered, "Wild Rose."

Tobul smiled and pointed to Krystal. "Close the door, girl. Now. Lock it from the inside," his voice was extremely hushed from his normal volume. When he heard the door click, he continued. "So, you three are with Hilda, hmm? I had no way of tellin' if anyone in the shop during the festival is a spy or not. I could not take any chances."

Krystal stood next to the door, watching outside from the keyhole. "Still no excuse," she muttered, only to get her Grandfather's sharp glare in response.

"It's all right, Master Tobul," Minwu said gently. "We've come to learn more about mythril from you."

"Ahhhh, now that's a legendary mineral," Tobul said. "Why, if I had a bit of that, I could make the finest weaponry ever seen. Of course, the stuff is mined up in Salamand. I've only been up there once. Before a man named Josef came here and exchanged details and materials with me, but I ain't heard from 'im since last month."

"That must mean that Fynn was not the first place that the Empire attacked," Firion thought aloud. "They might all ready control Salamand."

"Correction. They do have Salamand," Minwu's voice was soft. Always the source of reason, that man. "And since we made through Fynn unscathed, Hilda believes we are suited for such a mission."

"Grandpa," Krystal said, still standing near the door. She was shaking in fear. "Someone's coming. I don't know who it is…"

Tobul smiled quickly. "Head across the eastern lake and go to Poft. There, take a ship up to Salamand. You should leave very soon before any of the Empire's spies decide they wanna stumble on our conversation... I'm gonna go back to being my typical old-aged half-dwarf now. If I don't respond to ya, don't take it personally. Okay, open 'er back up, girl, we got a shop to run."

Krystal nodded. "All righty!" The door swung open, and in walked a very sad looking young man with long blonde hair wearing very regal clothing. She went back to the counter and sat on her stool. "Welcome to Altair's weapon shop!"

"Aye," the sad young man replied, looking at Minwu. "Ah! Lord Minwu! Princess Hilda told me you all ready left."

"Is something amiss, Prince Gordon?" Minwu asked.

"Oh, yeah, that's right…" Firion pulled the ring out of the item pouch and placed it in Gordon's hand. "Please, Prince, your brother said that this ring belongs to you," he said quietly. "Take it in his honor."

"So it's true?" Gordon asked, his eyes watering. "My… my big brother is…"

Clarisse nodded. "He fought back against the Imperials with all he had. He escaped their clutches, but was bedridden by the time we found him."

"No magic could heal those wounds," Minwu said, taking a few of the potions and scrolls he had brought with him and putting them inside Firion's item pouch. "Give Hilda my best, Prince Gordon. It's time we went."

"Hold!" Gordon said, putting the ring on his right hand. "I wish to help you in your fight!"

"Should you be doing that?" Firion asked.

Gordon shook his head, tears flowing down his face. "I've… I've always been nothing but a coward, hiding in the shadow of my brother. No longer!" He walked up to Minwu and said, "Let me join your party so that I might be able to not just avenge my brother, but liberate my country. I am the last living member of the Kashuon royal family!"

Minwu nodded. "So you are. King Gilbert granted you asylum when your homeland was taken in war."

"All we have left, both Fynn and Kashuon, is just Altair. If we lose Altair, both countries will be lost forever," Gordon cried. "I must do what I can to assist."

"If you're so motivated, my prince," Minwu said gently, "Then please. Arm yourself, milord. Just be aware that while traveling, we will not have the decadence you may be used to. We all share the same room at an inn, we all fight together. There is no social status in the battlefield."

"In the eyes of the Empire, we are all slaves," Clarisse said sternly.

"I heard from Hilda that you have lost your sister," Gordon said. "And that is why a sweet girl like you has taken up arms."

"It's true, Prince," she replied. "But based on what we know, she is alive. I will not let her be taken from me by this war. At the same time, I'll avenge my parents and my homeland."

"And, if you don't mind," Krystal said from her seat on the stool, "Avenge my daddy for me, too!"

Clarisse smiled. "I'll take off an entire appendage from his body in your honor, Krystal!"

"Sounds good to me," Krystal laughed.

Gordon walked up to the counter and reached into his pocket. "I'll have to buy a weapon, then," he said. "Do you have a spear?" He pulled out a coin purse.

Krystal walked over to a big box in the back, pointed at it, and said, "Take your pick."

Gordon looked through the box until he found one he felt was light enough for his feeble strength. He'd never fought anything before. Not a monster or a human. He knew nothing of what he was getting into, and his face revealed that he was scared. He even shook as he swung his chosen spear around a few times just to get the right feel for it. "Take my purse," he told Krystal. "Use it to further help the community here in Altair and the Wild Roses."

Tobul gasped. "But, a prince, handing over all his gil?!"

"I'll get more," Gordon said. "The community needs it more than I do."

"We are honored," Tobul said, bowing in front of the party. "When you bring the Mythril, I will make your new weapons free of charge!"

"Aye," Firion said with a nod. "That will help us more than you know."

Minwu smiled. "Your generosity is fitting for your station as the heir of Kashuon. Now, if the party is ready to depart, we make for Salamand."

END CHAPTER ONE

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