Ch 10, part 4
"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.
Mateus wasn't very far behind Minwu and Cantirena. He followed at a distance that allowed him to hear their conversation, but one where neither of them would detect his presence. As he expected, Minwu's heart was loyal to that of Fynn despite where he was, though Cantirena's outburst caught him by surprise. He could see the maids directing Minwu down the correct path, until they came to the door that led into his own private chamber.
"This is the place," Minwu said. "My lov… my lady, what's wrong?"
"…this is it," she said, trembling. "This is where… it was." She shook her head, clinging to Minwu's arm. "This is where it all happened the last time I was here."
Minwu placed a hand on her head. "The Dark Stone," he muttered. "I realize that it's frightening for you, but know that I will not let the energies of darkness claim you again. I swear it."
I would rather not subject her to that, either, Mateus thought. I don't want her to belong to the Demon King. I want her for myself. That lovely potential… go inside, there's nothing in that room that will harm either of you.
"You don't know how dark those energies are," Cantirena cried quietly.
"You do not trust me?" Minwu asked.
"I trust you more than anyone, Minwu," she said, "But you've no experience with anything this dark."
Minwu felt a burst of some sort of wind come from inside the chamber, nearly knocking him off his feet. Cantirena held to him. It was as arid as any other place in this castle, though it felt much different than any place he'd been thus far. He took a few steps in, using his hands to call up a barrier around the two of them. "Nothing's going to hurt you," he said. "Not while I'm around."
Cantirena let go of his arm, looking about the place. Everything looked the same, except for the headboard above the bed. "Wait," she said, pointing at the bed. "Right there. That's where the stone was before. But it's not there now. The swirling darkness is gone."
"Of course it wouldn't be," Minwu said. "He knew we were coming. The Emperor would know to move it." He grunted. A part of him was looking forward to finally feeling where all this evil was coming from, and this was slightly disappointing. He needed to know the intensity of that darkness, to know what exactly he was trying to stop. "He knows I'm not going to sit idly by and watch you fall under its influence again."
Cantirena walked through his barrier, looking around the room. Everything else looked exactly the same. The bed, the table, the chairs nearby, everything was the way she remembered it being. She looked at the bed, knowing what happened there before. She didn't want to sit on it. "I never thought I'd be back here," she said. "This was only a backdrop for my nightmares, and here I am. Back here in this Goddess-forsaken hell hole."
"The Goddess said we needed to be here," Minwu thought aloud, taking a few steps to come to her side. "We must not waste this opportunity. The Emperor did say he would be coming to check on you soon. You should stay here."
"…and you're going to explore the castle? Without me there to protect you?" she asked. "That's dangerous."
"They all know who I belong to, remember?" he asked, pushing her gently so she would sit on the bed. "They wouldn't dare cross the Palamecian Empress."
"No…" Cantirena said. "That's not what I'm afraid of." She grabbed his hand, placing them both on the sides of her face. "Mateus himself told you to stay with me. You don't know when he's coming, you don't know where he'll be… Every set of eyes in this place belong to him and because of that, you don't have any bargaining power." She rubbed her cheeks against his hands. They were comforting. "He finds you alone, he could very well kill you and not tell me about it."
"I wouldn't dare do that," Mateus said from the door, walking into the chamber. He closed the door, locking it behind him. "Take away Minwu from you? I love you. I wouldn't dare see you fall into a depression over losing your beloved like that."
Minwu pulled away from Cantirena. "What are you planning to do with us?" he asked.
"I'm going to torture you, and then I'm going to fuck her," the Emperor answered simply. "Are we all clear on everything now? Oh, yeah, and by the end of the night, I'll fuck you, too." He walked in until he was standing at the foot of the bed, smiling. "You both belong to me now. I'll let you have each other, because it would be dreadful seeing the two of you apart from one another, but since you're both my property, I expect some use out of you. By the time the sun rises, you'll both be calling me Master."
Minwu rose his arm immediately, charging up a spell. "Angel's wrath! HOLY!"
The ball of white light from Minwu's hand was deflected so easily that he was shocked.
"Such a feeble spell," Mateus said quietly. "I've changed my mind. I'm going to fuck you first, Minwu."
"Not if I can help it," Minwu shouted, charging up another spell. "I'm tired of playing along…"
"Throw whatever you like at me," Mateus said. "I took the time to put Reflect Armor on before even going before the court earlier, because I know how gifted the both of you are with magic. You cannot defend yourselves against me. So be good little toys and submit to your master."
Cantirena grabbed onto Minwu's robe and pulled him down onto her lap, grasping around his waist. She closed her eyes and put her forehead against his shoulder, chanting. Minwu recognized the chant easily. He could feel her fear as it manifested into a bright blue barrier around them.
"It's the same barrier…!" Minwu said, amazed. "The one from… when I first found you…"
This is no ordinary barrier, he thought. This is no Shell spell, like I originally thought it was, either.
Mateus reached for it, but the bright blue light kept him from going any closer. It let out a loud zapping like sound when he put his finger on the barrier. "There is only one barrier like this in all of magic," he said, his voice having become much more demonic than it was just a few moments ago. "…and there's only been one other who has been able to cast this particular barrier. I never thought I'd ever see someone with the ability to cast Mighty Guard ever again."
"Mighty Guard," Minwu repeated it. "The legendary shield. I was under the impression that the spell was lost in time."
"It only proves your lineage is true," Mateus grunted. "Because the Goddess Cosmos herself used that spell to protect her beloved people from me before I was sealed into that cursed stone by Palamecia the First!"
"Iluia," Minwu said. "You-"
"I have you… I have you both right where I want you!" the Emperor shouted, charging up his own magic power. "You will not stop the one true Emperor. I've waited and worked in the shadows of this place for far too long to let some little girl and her teacher stop me with some weak little shield spell."
"That may be true," Minwu said. "We may not be able to do anything about you ourselves, but you will not be eternal." He let his hands rest on top of Cantirena's. "It is every man's destiny to die. That body you possess will die."
"Yes," Mateus laughed, though it was clear that Mateus was not the one speaking. He was a cruel man, to be sure, but he did not go to the lengths or the darkness that the demon that possessed him went to. "And to ensure my reign, I need heirs. Perfect that the heirs contain both the powers of the child of a Goddess and that of my own, yes? Think of the super powerful children we would create, Cantirena! With Minwu as their teacher and us as their parents? Palamecia would be unstoppable."
"Minwu…" Cantirena said weakly. "…now do you understand?"
"I do," Minwu whispered. "Forgive me for having allowed you to fall into the hands of this… monster."
As Mateus started to gather energy around him to call forth a ball to shatter Cantirena's barrier, his eyes twitched a few times. The energy slowly fell from his hands. "What… happened?" he asked. "Cantirena…? Minwu?"
"The Demon King," Minwu said. "He took possession of you suddenly. He had intentions of raping us both. I don't know if you do or not, but we won't let you do it, either."
"That…" Mateus spat, falling over onto one knee. "…that demon has done it for the last time! Minwu, if I let you speak to my mother, would you be able to come up with a way to get this bastard out of my head?"
"We would," Minwu said with a nod.
"Then so be it!" Mateus said. "I will have no more of this. I am the absolute ruler of everything, not him."
"Let the barrier down," Minwu said to Cantirena. "I will find Lady Airu and we will put this whole mess behind us."
"Let Cantirena stay here," Mateus ordered. "Erecting Mighty Guard is not an easy thing to do. Maybe she can help me keep him at bay, and if he shows himself again, she can use the barrier again to keep herself safe from me…" He looked up at Cantirena, who was letting the barrier go slowly. When it was gone, she slumped back onto the pillows on the bed. "Minwu, you have my express permission to retrieve my mother and begin research immediately. When you have what you need, I will take you to where I have hidden the Stone of Iluia."
"I do not trust you alone with Cantirena," Minwu said. "I wish her to be close to my side just in case Iluia decides he wants to make his presence known again."
"Get my mother," Mateus said sternly. "Your student sleeps."
"…then you will get her, and I will remain at Cantirena's side," Minwu demanded. "You are the one seeking my help, oh great Emperor. You had best not cross me further, as I have no further wishes than to seal you away permanently!" He then turned to Cantirena. "The only reason I will not do that is because my student loves you, or rather, she loved who you used to be."
"…what do you mean?"
"When you were just a prince, you came to Fynn in the place of your father, the late Emperor," Minwu explained. "She wanted to come here and be your aide, as I was to Hilda. Cantirena wanted to serve you more than anything… and the Demon King decided to use that adoration for something more sinister." He stood up. "I will free you of his possession, but you… you must watch over Cantirena. You must take care of her. Her fate is to remain with you, Mateus. I will do all that I can to ensure that fate takes its due course. You two will heal Palamecia, as Clarisse and Firion will heal Fynn."
Mateus stood up. "I… don't understand how you know these things."
"I have seen them," Minwu answered. "I have seen all that is and all that will be."
"I cannot tell you," Minwu said. "Because even I do not know where I saw these things."