Music of a Thousand Voices
By Blackjack Gabbiani
Cid sighed. He hated not knowing things, and this was no exception. He had no idea why he was going along with the kings plan. King? Oh, no. The aging royal now demanded to be known as Emperor. Pure madness, in Cids mind. Perhaps age was taking its toll on Gestahl, but Cid strongly doubted that was the cause. If it had been that simple, the old man would have at least acknowledged the death of his beloved Queen Collette, rather than this stone-faced absence of any emotion.
And that damnable wizard! Cid shook with rage just thinking about the bright-clad young man who had shown up three years before and offered the then-sane King Gestahl the secret of Magic, and demonstrated these powers by making a suit of armor explode. The knight had still been inside, and the mage healed him. But that smugness, that brashness... Soon after accepting, the King changed. Over time, Collette saw what her husband had become, and lost her will to live. In the past, the monarch would have stayed by her and mended his ways, but this changed man ignored her. When she finally gave up entirely, Gestahl had been in one of his extended councils with the mage, and would not be bothered with such trifles. There was no doubt in Cids mind that the kings madness could be directly traced to--
Kefka! Right on time!
Shove it, professor. And pick up the pace a bit. The mage was, as always, very impatient. The animosity between the two was almost palpable.
Cid readied the syringe. This may sting a bit, but it wont last very long... The younger man rolled up his sleeve. If this infusion was to be a success, the subject had to be in perfect health. Kefkas constant smile never wavered as Cid drew the necessary blood and transferred it to a vial.
Done? Took ya long enough.
Cid stared at the man, who stared back with yellow eyes...or were they blue? Or green? Blinking, Cid turned his attention back to the vial. Strange... he said aloud. The blood had already clotted.
Kefka leaned back on the exam table. I think if you check that sample, youll find you can still work with it, he sneered in that sarcastic tone.
Again, Cid looked at him, reclining on the metal table, those ever-changing eyes closed, the ruby smile drawn back; and felt a chill run through him. There was a breaking sound, and pain jolted up Cids arm. He had shattered the vial in his hand.
Eyes still closed, the mage laughed softly. Hes not going to be happy about that.
Cid scowled at the man, and slowly removed the shards of glass from his bleeding hand. He then reached for the bandages, but an ominous figure stopped him.
Now, now, Ciddy, Kefka said, taking Cids hand. Whats life but pain? The two are one and the same. You must learn to have a higher tolerance. The outsider then whispered something, and Cids hand was healed. As the professor knelt to sweep up the remains of the vial, something clicked. The blood, which had been almost a solid, was now collected in gleaming balls, like quicksilver.
T...this is remarkable...! he stammered. Look at this! Not noticing Kefkas disinterest, Cid carefully placed one of the drops on a glass slide and slid it into the microscope.
Strange...this doesnt look like human blood at all...It looks more like...
I see youve discovered my little secret. When Cid turned, Kefka was about a foot behind him. Before the older man could do anything, the mage had him against the wall.
You...youre an...Esper...! Cid stammered.
Brilliant! Kefka grabbed the professor by the neck and raised his other arm back. The punch was almost on target when it stopped. No... Kefka mused. You I need alive...For right now, at any rate.
...does...does the Emperor know...? This question was met with a strong slap.
No, he doesnt! Youre the only one stupid enough! Now, do you know what Im going to do if this gets out? Those eyes, now bright red, seemed to burn into Cids mind.
Cid gasped for air. Youll kill me, right? Another slap, and he was released. He didnt dare move, rather, remained pressed against the wall.
Close your eyes. Cid felt his eyes closing--much against his will. And as horrible as the images were, he could not guard against them.
What he saw was Kefka, accompanied by a blonde girl in her early teens. Who is she? Cid wondered. As he watched, the girl was placed on the rack, which was tightened. The young ladys screams meant nothing to the grinning mage, who walked over and disrobed her. There were now two screams, as Cid cried out, because this girl was--
Oh, Celes, The image of Kefka breathed as he played his long bony fingers through her hair and down her body. If only that idiot grandfather of yours hadnt betrayed me. Maybe youd live to see tomorrow. But for now...you will provide sufficient amusement for me. With that, the mage kissed her, beginning on her forehead, then to her lips, her chin, her throat...kissing lower and lower as she closed her eyes and bit her lower lip, anticipating and dreading what he would do next...
And then Cid opened his eyes. You...you wouldnt! he gasped. Shes only a child...
Thats true! Kefka smiled. Right now, anyway. But in a few years,--here he leaned in close-- shell be ready.
Something else occurred to Cid, and he asked How can you stand it, knowing that you betrayed the location of the Espers? They are being drained--tortured--because of you! Because you told us! I hear them scream, I see them cry. How can you live with that--so many just like you suffering because of your words and actions?
Kefka laughed, and shoved Cid backwards. They are Espers, as am I, but they are not, as you say, just like me. No, they are lowly and pathetic, while I am magnificent. They deserve their punishment. They betrayed me. I too have seen what you describe, and I delight in it.
Cid remembered one time that Kefka had chanced to walk into the Facility. Oh, the screams of those Espers were the most horrid sounds ever to befall human ears...but Kefka was not human. They probably all recognized him, and knew he was the one to betray them to the humans.
Kefka, noticing Cids expression of horror, continued. Yes, Espers are far too noble for me I much prefer the company of humans. So very warlike and savage. And believe me, I like that in a species. The infusion will take place tomorrow--or I will mete out your punishment...on Celes.
This is such an exciting day for the Empire! Gestahl enthused. Eh, Cid?...Cid?
The professor had been lost in thoughts of the previous day. Oh...Yes, highness.
Gestahl scowled. HIGHNESS? he inquired angrily.
Cid winced. Sorry. Majesty. Yes, it is an exciting day. I just hope that all goes well. Sir, this process is still highly experimental...
At that point, the test subject breezed in. Well, gents, are we going ahead with this or not? He blew a kiss at his latest female companion, who was led off to a waiting area. It seemed that Kefka was always in the company of some young woman or another, all attracted by the mages power and--oh, yes--beauty. That ruby smile and the mysterious eyes had captured the affections of many of the palace ladies...indeed, it was rare for the mage to be seen with one for longer than a few days.
Cid winced again. No one else seemed to know this mans evils. The professor was about to tell the Emperor about the day before when Kefka, quite loudly, asked:
So, Ciddy, hows Celes?
Cid almost dropped the exam tray. W...what?
Kefka lay on the exam table, ready for the infusion. I simply asked how your little granddaughter is. Is that a crime? he asked, feigning a hurt look. Cid didnt answer. How boring! The mans a complete turnip! Lets get on with this, shall we?
Gestahl stepped over to the subject. Kefka, this is a day that all the world will soon know! This is the turning point in the course of history. And you! The first Mage Warrior in over a thousand years! Quite thrilling!
Yes, majesty, Kefka agreed. Quite thrilling. He cast a warning eye towards Cid, and smiled. Lets get this over with.
Cid placed the anesthesia mask over the younger mans mouth. Kefka inhaled the gases deeply, smiled at the professor once again, and closed his eyes, unconscious. Cid readied the necessary equipment as another technician hooked the subject up to several monitors. Gestahl squealed with glee as Cid injected the mage with a blue chemical, then a green one. All seemed to be going well.
Then the unthinkable happened.
As Cid prepared to inject a yellow chemical into Kefkas right arm, he noticed the mage twitching. Before anything could be done, the twitching gave way to full-on convulsing.
What the hell...? Gestahl shouted. Cid didnt answer. He and the other technicians tried madly to steady the mans condition.
Professor Cid! a technician beckoned. Hes goin all weird! Indeed, the monitors showed all vital signs going erratic.
And then all was silent. The only sounds were the monitors, all flatlined. The technicians bowed their heads in sadness. The first infusion had killed the subject.
Gestahl sat down in shock. Bring him back, he whispered.
Majesty...hes dead...I cant bring him back. Even Cid was grieving, the mages evils forgotten. Those eyes, shut so gently...that peaceful expression...Maybe it was because all the evil was gone from him now, leaving only this beautiful shell.
As the body was covered with a sheet and wheeled from the room, Cid turned to the Emperor. Majesty... The royal raised his hand, calling for silence.
The two sat in silence for several minutes. Then Cid could no longer keep the secret. Majesty...I have reason to believe that this, tragic as it has been, was a fluke.
What do you mean?
Well, sir, you see...Kefka was--
--Dead, wasnt I?
Cid and Gestahl gasped. There in the doorway was...
The mage smiled, his crimson lips even more of a sight against that skin, now pale as death. Thats me. Surprised?
But...you...this is impossible!
Is it really? He entered the room, the sheet that had been used as a shroud now draped over his shoulders like a cape. You didnt really think Id go down that easily, did you? His dancing eyes were blue as crystal, and shone as such.
Impossible...the brain waves had stopped...theres no way you could have...how did you...?
Oh please. The mage strode up to the professor. By the way, he said, a foot from Cid. You never did answer my question. How is Celes?
Kefka breathed a sigh of relief. That idiot Cid had almost disclosed...well, it was better not to think about it.
You O.K., sweets? a female voice asked. He leaned back in bed and gazed up at her. Another casual pleasure. His nighttime behaviour was quite well-known, as there were so many women lusting after him. Oh, humans are so delightful!
Why do you ask? he smiled at her. She giggled and rubbed his shoulders.
You look pale. How was he supposed to respond to that? This pallor--what was it?--was to stay with him the rest of his days. He sighed again. At least my powers have been enhanced. Really, thats the only thing that matters.
She kissed him. My lover-mage, she sighed as he let his head droop to her chest. The rhythm of her heart lulled him into a blissful, dreamlike state; made even more welcome by the energy he had just exerted, and by the strain of the days events. He was almost asleep when her voice again broke the stillness.
I was worried about you today. They said you were dead.
you...were...dead...Something in the words clicked in him, and he sat up to face her. He had always wanted to find out...
Leaning in closer to her, he whispered Theres something I have to know...
What? She giggled as he ran his cold hands down her body. Something in his tone was very erotic, and she always had a good time with him.
Ive always wanted to know... Light formed in his hands as he spoke.
What its like...
To kill a human, he finished.
She had no reaction time. He slammed his glowing hands onto her bare chest. Electrical currents jolted through her, but she never felt them.
When the convulsing stopped, Kefka sat up. What was going on? The shock should have killed her right away, but she kept moving for the longest time. And the very fact that she still had a body! Wasnt she supposed to become something else, like an Esper turns to Magicite?
He shook his head. Shes stronger than I thought. Why didnt that kill her? He stared at her, those eyes staring wide open. Could this be human death? Is this why they believed him to be gone though his form remained? Couldnt be. This woman had to be alive. She remained mobile after the spell, se still retained that body; there was no other explanation.
He stared at her for hours, never once averting his eyes from her still form. He was so focused on her that he did not hear the guard at his door.
Sir Pallazzo? Sir? The Emperor wishes to meet with you. Sir Pallazzo, are you in there? The guard was worried. He had heard about the disaster of the day before. Could it have happened again? His hands shook as he reached for the keys...
Aaugh! Kefka shielded his eyes against he bright light streaming in. The guard entered. Sir, the Emperor... Seeing the young womans body, he stopped. Sir, what...happened?
Kefka looked up. Where? Her? I...dont know...
Shes dead, sir.
The guard bowed his head. From the looks of it, shes been dead for a few hours. Sir, when did this happen?
She CANT be dead!!! She CANT!!! Its IMPOSSIBLE, I tell you! Theres no WAY!! In a flash, the mage ran from the room.
There were too many questions. Too many inconsistencies. It felt to him that a thousand voices were screaming at him. He clapped his hands over his ears to block the oppressive sound. There was only one place in the Imperial Palace that could answer his questions.
Tables contained forms covered in sheets. He tore the sheet off one and was met by another still human. Another, and another. This WAS human death! Oh, it was so strange, and yet...
Beautiful, he whispered. Simply beautiful. The marvel of a dead human...He had seen only one before, at Queen Collettes funeral, but he had assumed it had been a wax model of her. HE never imagined that this beautiful thing could be what humans left behind. So lovely...
When the Emperor found him, he was huddled on the floor of the morgue, weeping.
His lady friend died last night, Majesty, a courtier told Gestahl. He refuses to admit it.
The Emperor nodded. Kefka...come here.
The mage turned, eyes brimming with tears. Shes...gone...all of these people...gone...
He felt like a fool. One thing he understood about humans was the way they interpreted crying. In truth, he was not sad or sorrowful at all. No, he was ecstatic. To be in the presence of all this beauty overpowered him, so he wept. Best to let the humans think what they will, he thought.
As he allowed himself to be led back to his room (the body had been taken away during his brief absence), he reflected on what had happened. He had to conduct more experiments, get more answers to the many questions. The voices he heard still screamed, but he found himself loving that sound.
There was no shortage of test subjects for Kefka to choose from. This girl was lovely, indeed, and so wonderfully decorated. She would make a fine corpse. She was so willing, so passionate. The physical aspect of the night was pleasing, but as Kefka readied to kill her, she spoke.
I hear youve been down on your luck lately. I want to give you something. With that, she drew a long plume out of her clothes, which lay in a heap on the floor, just within reach. Its always given me good luck.
He accepted the gift. Chocobo feather, dyed pink. A bit ostentatious, but he liked it. He went to put it on his dresser when he saw the knife. Just sitting there, on his desk, glinting in the moonlight. Grinning, he picked it up. One couldnt rely solely on magic.
Is everything alright? she asked. Deja vu, for certain.
Im fine, dear. The sick irony was almost too much for him. Oh, the memory of last night, and the anticipation of this night...
Huh! Ready to go again, eh?
He nodded. Little did she know that he was about to do.
Seeing the knife, she laughed. Oh, what a little sadist you are! I like that.
He smiled. She really had no idea. He decided to play along. This anticipation was wearing on him, making him very excited. Leaning over, he kissed her softly on the lips, and marked her arm with the knife. She still laughed, so he drove the knife deeper, severing a bone.
Screaming, she pleaded him to stop, but her cries only added fuel to his fire. Suddenly, he reeled back. She had rammed her fists into his eyes.
Youll regret that, he stated simply, and gripped the knife handle harder and tore through her flesh. The screaming was getting louder, both hers and the voices in his head. Oh, the joy of this!
Stop it! she yelled. This isnt funny anymore!
On the contrary, my dear. Its very amusing. As if to illustrate his point, he laughed. Laughed as he sliced her chest, ripping her heart.
His laughter was the last thing she ever heard.
And still he laughed.
He knew she was dead, but found the action of murder too enjoyable to stop. This was the finest thing in the world. The voices he heard--oh! how lovely.
The blood drained out, down her chest and onto the white sheets of his bed. Such a contrast, not only the colors, but the actions. There was murder in this bed, where just a few minutes before there had been mad passion. She had given herself to him so willingly then, and the very thought of that made him long for more.
It was almost unconscious, as he removed the knife from her and kissed the spot where it had made her scream the loudest. His mouth was filled with blood--HUMAN blood--and he realized he was hard. This was not the hard he got for the endless line of women who had shared his bed in the past. This was the death hard--the murder hard. This new passion grew with each second, until his primal side got the best of him. When he entered her, the rush was even greater than it had been when she was a living being, so quick to moan in the last pleasure she would ever feel.
He knew full well that any mere human would condemn his actions as being sick and perverted at lightest, but he didnt care. This thrill would make any creature as carnal as he, longing to ravish the corpse of their victim, feel the skin grow cold and clammy, taste the blood of the still heart straight from the source...
Uh? Kefka looked up, eyes red as hellfire. How dare this intruder break the erotic spell of murder?
Sir! What in the Goddesses names do you think youre doing? The guard turned to go report this unspeakable crime, but the mage quickly cast Ice 3. One of the new spells. He liked it.
Kefka walked over to the pillar of ice to examine the spells results. The guard was frozen inside like a statue. The mage cast Bolt, and the ice shattered. Grinning, he knelt and ran the melting shards through his fingers. As the ice melted, Kefka realized how hot he was. Such heat was understandable, after all, this was the day he learned the true thrill to be had in taking a life. Slowly, he ran a handful of ice over his chest, savoring each moment.
When the ice had thoroughly melted, Kefka stood and faced his mirror. The girls resistance had left him scarred, with black marks around his eyes. He could reconfigure the bruises, but never rid himself of them without changing his form. And this body had a certain charm to it. He leaned against the wall and sighed. This had been quite a night for him. Taking a step back, he examined his reflection. Aside from the twin bruises, he was also pale as the corpse in his bed. His eyes were an indeterminate shade as he admired himself. He was not a strongly built man, but rather, well-defined. His ruby lips brought out his high cheekbones and displayed his perfect smile. He grinned. No wonder he was so popular with the ladies.
Ah, yes. The ladies. The decorated, lustful ladies populating Vector. Always so willing. Always so pleasurable.
He untied his ponytail and brushed out his long orange hair as he reflected on the thrills of the past hour. Oh, but I cant stop now! he said to himself. Ive got to keep testing this! The lust for murder was so deeply entrenched in him now that he wanted to kill in every way possible.
Although there was no reason to be quiet, Kefka made no sound as he dressed in preparation for more death. As he fastened his heavy verdant cape, he remembered the gift, given from a victim to her killer. How amusing, he thought. He then tied his hair back, made sure his part was straight and severe, and slid the pink plume in so that it hung over his left shoulder. As he gazed at his reflection, a smile came to his lips. His pallor and these dark rings...there were going to be plenty of city women wanting to give him pleasure to take his mind off what they would perceive as deformities. Maybe even some men. He had always been interested in alternate pleasures, and this was the perfect opportunity to indulge himself. He held no distinction in his mind, as they would all die by his will tonight.
Still smiling, he pocketed some money, looked himself over in the mirror one more time, and cheerfully headed out the door for a night on the town.
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