A Cultivated Interest
By Ephraim Glass
As he sat upon his thrown at the very peak of his mountain fortress, contemplating the comparative merits of demons and venomous reptiles, a very uncomfortable thought occurred to Kefka. Even gods can become bored. Certainly, subjugating the world had been fun, but he'd done that, weeks ago and ennui was beginning to set in. What he needed, Kefka realized, was some variety.
He strolled down the steps of his palace, admiring the gleaming shrapnel that had once been the city of Vector. "Torture?" he mused. "Virgin sacrifice? No, cliché! I need to try something I've never done before." As he passed the oubliettes where he kept people of whom he was particularly unfond, Kefka paused. "Of course!" he shouted. "I'm a god. Why shouldn't I have my own cult?
Skipping stairs as he scrambled down to the dungeon, Kefka sang a little song that he composed in his head as he went.
Bend a Mage Knight over my knee.
Smack him 'til he cannot see.
Make him totally devoted to me.
A Kefka cultist he will be!
The wicked little harlequin laughed gleefully as he dragged one of his captive Mage Knights out of his cell and pinned him up against the wall by his neck. "Antonus," he crooned, his moist lips leaving an obscene trail of spittle on the man's ear. "You were so very powerful, so I cut out your tongue, to prevent you from casting any spells. Do you love me because of it?"
Antonus gathered up a wad of snot and saliva and spat it on Kefka's neck. Enraged, Kefka tightened his grasp on the man's neck, his fingers growing longer, encircling Antonus's neck like a noose. "Love me!" he commanded, forcing his malevolent will onto the helpless Mage Knight. Kefka's eyes bored into the Antonus's brain. "Worship me. Praise my infinite power. Build a temple to my glory."
He released the man and let him fall to the floor. "I'll even give you back your tongue so you can work wonders in my name, Antonus, Magi Master."
Two dozen cultists marched in file from the gate of Kefka's fortress. The mad god had converted the first of them, but it was Antonus himself who'd perverted the minds of the other twenty three. At the front of the line walked the Magi Master, clad in voluminous, silk robes and wearing rings of power. He chanted Kefka's praises, his lips infused with siren magic, calling rogue sorcerers to his saccharine song. Days later, when they reached the site where the temple was to be built, they were two hundred strong.
Workmen were enslaved from nearby towns, the cultists replacing their minds with more servile ones, emulating the work of their beloved god, Kefka. When the tower, a hundred stories tall, was completed, the workers were butchered as a sacrifice to consecrate the temple and their flesh consumed by the cultists as an inaugural supper. Kefka watched from his mountaintop with perverse glee as his worshippers delighted in their diabolical mass.
The following night, Antonus assembled the cultists at the apex of the tower and spoke to them. "Our temple to Kefka is complete, but it is not secure. Marlo, step forth." The little boy, one of those picked up on the way, obediently approached the Magi Master. "We are powerful sorcerers, but we are physically vulnerable." Antonus brandished a mace and casually smashed Marlo's skull, spattering brain and bone over himself and the nearest cultists. "You see, the wicked enemies of our god may yet work against us. I command you all to prepare for me a spell that will allow magic and magic alone to be worked in this tower." He hefted the mace once more and lovingly licked its head. "I suggest you work quickly. Every night, I'll kill another one of you with this mace until your magic renders me unable to do so. Be gone." As they departed, Antonus returned to the cupola of the temple and burned Marlo's sacrificial remains, bending the wind to his will to carry to smoke and ashes toward the mountain fortress of Kefka.
Kefka breathed deeply, sucking in the odour of burnt flesh as though it were the scent of costly perfume. "You are a masterpiece, Magi Master," he giggled. "You've done everything I said you should and more." He once more inhaled deeply of the sweet scent of sacrifice. "Now you've outdone yourself. Yes, make my temple secure. Kill any defects that can't hack it. Then you can love me and worship me and kill my enemies with impunity."
Satisfied with his handiwork for the moment, Kefka descended from the mountaintop to the room where he kept his scrying pool, a circular ditch flooded with boiling blood. Surveying the world he'd wrought, he paid careful attention, having been distracted for weeks by the doings of the Magi Master and his cultists. What he saw caused his satisfaction to evaporate. Atop the pool of blood stood the images of Celes Chere and Sabin Figaro near the wreckage of a fallen house in Tzen.
Working powerful scrying magic, he quickly located the rest of the freedom fighters who had opposed his rise to power, except for the assassin, who he'd taken great pleasure in killing, himself. It did not escape his notice that one of his adversaries now served the Magi Master. Blasting a crack in the south wall of the room, Kefka strode from the fortress, walking on air. He raced across the world, hundreds of feet above the surface, finally lighting atop the tower his worshippers had built. "Antonus!" he screamed. "Get out here. Your god has work for you to do."
Antonus ran out of his chamber when he recognized Kefka's voice and threw himself on the ground in front of Kefka. "Lord Kefka, what is your bidding? I take no pleasure but in serving you."
"My devoted slave," Kefka replied, "Every one of my enemies is still alive. They will come here, idealistic cretins that they are. They'll try to rescue the old man who's marching at the bottom of the tower, and then they'll climb my temple and try to desecrate it by casting down my High Priest. Kill them. You're my own creation, so you're much more powerful than they are. Defeating them will be a simple task for you."
As Kefka departed for his mountain, Antonus lay prostrate until the mad god could no longer be seen. He returned to his room where he began preparing his spells.
Six more cultists were executed before the spell to seal the tower from physical threats was completed. It was more than a week later before Kefka's adversaries finally appeared at the base of the temple. The Magi Master and all of the cultists within were prepared to defend their holy dwelling place with their lives.
The Magi Master watched with growing concern as the four heroes climbed the tower, wielding powerful magic of their own. When they defeated the tethered dragon, he knew that sorcerous might alone would not win this battle. Knowing that his time had grown short, he hastily devised a defensive spell that would force these infidels to vary their assault constantly. He concealed himself with a vanish spell and then hid outside his chamber, to wait for the heroes to arrive.
Kefka watched with fury as the Magi Master's dying spell lit up the sky for thousands of leagues. Having a cult had been delightful and the freedom fighters had spoiled his fun. He could at least take comfort, knowing that they were dead. Then, dumbstruck, he observed four bright stars fall from the sky, spreading wings and revealing their cherubic nature as they neared the Earth. The four angels paused at the top of his temple, fanning the lifeless heroes with their wings. Seeing one of the fallen adventurers rise, Kefka's rage exploded, taking with it the scrying room and the entire wing of the fortress that contained it. Burning like a wrathful sun, Kefka screamed into the sky, vowing to punish those who'd slain his High Priest and ruined his diversion.
Ephraim Glass' Fanfiction