Cecil Harvey: Part One
Cecil Harvey, the main protagonist from Final Fantasy IV, is the focus of this week’s Character RETROspect. When thinking back on how enthralling the story of the “Dark Knight” is, I knew I had to do an article on him. Deception, love, loss, and personal redemption — it’s all here in one of the greatest entries in the Final Fantasy series.
Chapter 12: The (K)Night is Darkest Just Before the Dawn
Final Fantasy II is Actually IV, But You All Know This…
Final Fantasy IV was originally released as Final Fantasy II in the United States, so I am hoping that this isn’t a shock to any retro gamer that visits this site. My initial playthrough of Final Fantasy IV came around the year 1995, just about a year after Final Fantasy VI (III) came out here in the US. I was a little too young to fully enjoy the deep characters and epic story that was laid out in front of me. However, a second playthrough in 1999 forever changed the trajectory of my gaming ways; I became obsessed with RPGs, and I have Cecil and his merry band of do-gooders to thank.
Brothers in Arms
Cecil grew up in the care of the King of Baron, and was later trained to become a Dark Knight. Cecil’s best friend, Kain Highwind, is in love with Cecil’s lady friend, Rosa Joanna Farrell, so quite the love triangle is formed early on in their lives. While the two are growing up, Kain became more and more jealous of the king’s affection towards Cecil and of the connection that Cecil and Rosa shared together. Cecil was able to harness the powers involved with being a Dark Knight and eventually became one of the kingdom’s top warriors — even becoming the captain of the Red Wings, the
hockey team airship fleet of Baron. It’s on the airship that Final Fantasy IV opens up…
Cecil is commanded by the king to raid the city of Mysidia to obtain the Water Crystal, and although he succeeds, Cecil becomes increasingly suspicious of the king. He doesn’t understand why the king, the man who raised him, would allow innocent people to become subject to such devastation. He continues on his way back to the kingdom, reassuring his Red Wings that they are the proud few who represent the kingdom of Baron, no matter what the assignment is.
Upon their return to the castle, Baigan, the captain of the guards, notices something is going on with Cecil and brings him to king. Cecil hands over the Water Crystal to the king, but he becomes upset when the king does not thank him for his successful completion of a task that Cecil thought to be harsh. Cecil explains his frustration to the king, but instead of being understanding, the king demotes him from his position as captain of the Red Wings and orders Cecil to travel to the village of Mist to deliver a ring known as the Carnelian Signet. Kain attempts to jump to the rescue of his best friend, but the king simply tells him that he must now accompany Cecil through Mist Valley on his way to Mist.
Making their way through Mist Valley, and fighting the Mist Dragon that is blocking their path, Cecil and Kain arrive in Mist, but upon their arrival, bombs go off because of the Carnelian Signet which cause the destruction of the village. While they walk through the burnt village, Cecil and Kain find a young girl next to her deceased mother. They soon find out that the young girl’s mother was a summoner, and after the death of the Mist Dragon, the mother died as well. Cecil and Kain offer the young girl protection, but she resists and instead summons Titan, and the summoned beast uses “Earthquake” — splitting the village of Mist from the rest of the valley. Cecil awakens and finds that Kain is missing, and the young girl is unconscious and wounded. Cecil rushes off to Kaipo to allow the young girl time to recover.
In the middle of the night at the inn, Cecil and the young girl are attacked by soldiers from Baron because the king declared that the summoners from Mist are too dangerous and must be killed off. Cecil protects the girl because this was the absolute last straw for him, and he could not sit by and allow the king to make another foolish mistake. After the fight, the young girl thanks Cecil and reveals her name to be Rydia.
A Case of Desert Fever
The next morning, Cecil and Rydia hear of a woman who has fallen ill to Desert Fever, and the only prescription is the Sand Pearl. The shocking discovery that Cecil makes is that it’s Rosa who has become ill! Cecil with Rydia in tow travel through an underground waterway and meet up with the old man known as Tellah, who accompanies them on their way to Damcyan. When the trio arrive in Damcyan, they are witness to the Red Wings stealing the Fire Crystal from the castle. At the top of the castle, they find Anna, who is actually Tellah’s daughter, wounded.
Cecil cannot believe that his former Red Wings were capable of such utter disregard of human life, and I believe the constant battle between darkness and light in Cecil starts to weigh even heavier on his heart. They meet Edward Chris von Muir, the prince of Damcyan, whom Tellah accuses of putting his daughter in harm’s way. During a brief fight between Tellah and Edward, Anna, with her last bit of strength, breaks up the fight. She collapses in the arms of her father, and Edward weeps for her. Cecil and Rydia snap Edward out of it, and they travel to where the Sand Pearl is being held in the heart of the Antlion’s Den so they can save Rosa.
Feeling the betrayal from his king, and the disappearance of Kain, Cecil fights with a passion alongside Rydia and Edward against the Antlion to obtain the Sand Pearl to save Rosa. With the Sand Pearl in their posession, Cecil and the gang rush back to Kaipo to use the Sand Pearl on Rosa and help her recover from Desert Fever. With a strong sense of needing to right the wrongs from his past, Cecil decides that they need to defend the remaining crystals. Their next target: the Air Crystal in Fabul.
The Journey Towards Light
On the way to Fabul, the team meet up with Yang Fang Leiden, a monk from Fabul who is being attacked by members of Golbez’s (the main antagonist trying to acquire all of the Crystals) army. After the fight, Cecil warns Yang of the impending strike on Fabul by the Baron army, and they rush off to warn the King of Fabul.
The king is skeptical of Cecil’s warnings, but when the Baron army attacks, Cecil and his team help to defend the castle to the best of their abilities. While in the Crystal Room, Cecil is cornered by Kain, and is caught in a fight with him. Cecil loses to Kain, and Kain takes the crystal back to Golbez. During the initial attack, Golbez fights Edward and Yang, and he takes Rosa hostage (the love triangle situation is going to come into play again).
Cecil and his party set sail on a ship, provided by the King of Fabul, to Baron. While on the way to Baron, they are attacked by Leviathian, the Terror of the Sea, and everyone is blown off of the ship. Cecil wakes up on a beach near Mysidia, and he soon learns that his presence is unwanted. Cecil meets with the Elder of Mysidia and tells the Elder of his situation. The only way, according to the Elder, for Cecil to defeat Golbez is to have him give up his Dark Sword and accept the Holy Light — which would allow Cecil to change from a Dark Knight to a Paladin. Accepting this challenge, Cecil is sent by the Elder to Mount Ordeals…
And so we come to the end of Part One of Cecil Harvey’s story of betrayal and heartache. Does Cecil become a Paladin? What is Kain’s problem with Cecil? Does Cecil rescue Rosa from the clutches of Golbez? Find out next time in Character RETROspect!