The Legend of Kefka’s Tower
The first time it happens, Locke thinks it’s a joke; some twisted prank that everyone is in on. It doesn’t stop him from having screaming nightmares of the pale kid, screaming and sweating and spouting nonsense as the hospital attendants hold him down to keep him from hurting himself.
The second time it happens, Locke is pretty sure it’s not a joke, because he knows the normally serious man, and that makes it all the worse when the healers tell him the only thing they can do is make him comfortable.
When they find the third, Locke thinks his heart might fall out of his chest. Celes, his beautiful, strong Celes, is screaming and crying, the color drained from her face as she pounds her fists against his chest and thrashes so hard, it’s all he can do to keep her from falling. He tries to look into her eyes, but it’s as if she cannot see him; as if all she sees are horrors he can’t even begin to comprehend.
Locke does not wait for there to be a fourth. He knows the legend – the place where Kefka’s tower once stood will make anyone who dares to spend too much time there mad. He’d been to Kefka’s tower when it still stood, so Locke isn’t having any of this nonsense. But something is there; something that is attacking people, and he has no choice but to find out what, for Celes’ sake.
So he goes.
Three days go by as he wanders the desolate land without incident. The place is seemingly empty; devoid of all life, human or otherwise. It’s creepy, but decidedly not haunted. He sets up camp for the night with plans to look elsewhere in the morning.
If only he had left.
It’s midnight when the sound wakes him. He’s not sure what he’s hearing at first, struggling out of his bedroll to look around for the source. It’s a familiar sound…
He has his dagger out of his boot in a flash, ready to face whatever the sound belongs from when he recognizes it and almost impales himself on his own knife whipping around to find the source; to find him.
It’s Kefka’s laugh.
There’s no ambiguousness about it. He could pick that laugh out in a crowded city from a mile away. He’d heard it so many times before, and here it is again, coming across the years to find him. He looks around desperately for any signs that he is right; that the source of the world’s torment was here, in the flesh, but there is nothing.
He is alone.
He wonders if he is dreaming, or perhaps hallucinating from too many days in the sun. Either is possible, he decides, and lies back down, but sleep is impossible now, and he tosses and turns, trying to keep watch of everything all at once. An hour goes by without incident.
He rolls to the left, and he sees them. Two lantern-sized lights appear in the distance.
There will be no sleep for him, so he quickly packs his things and moves on silent feet towards the lights. Could this be the assailant who attacks Celes and the others? He walks and walks for what seems like hours, but it is still dark, so it couldn’t have been long. Still, the lights burn on, seemingly just as far away as when he started.
He comes across a faint glow and he creeps slowly, careful not to make a sound… and sees his extinguished fire from his camp, still lightly smoldering. His camp, he knows, because of his boot prints still in the dirt next to it.
He had been walking in a straight line. This is impossible – an illusion of some sort. He just has to figure it out.
He decides to wait for the sun, because with light, he’ll be better able to see. He sits down next to the smoldering logs and waits.
When he’s sure the sun should have come up already, he looks up to the stars. They haven’t moved one inch since he’d seen the lights. The stars that led seamen to shore are frozen in the sky.
Locke has a bad feeling, but it’s a little late for that now.
There are noises now, off in the distance, coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once. It makes his hair stand on end. Those lights were still there, beckoning to him, so he gets up and tries again, throwing caution to the wind and moving swiftly towards them.
He’s in luck this time. He is closing the gap between him and the lights. The closer they get, the less he can see until he is so enshrouded in darkness he can see only the lights and the ground under his feet. He feels like he might fall off the edge with each step he takes. The stars are no longer there at all.
He doesn’t see the tower until he is right on top of it, but there it is, staring him in the face. The lights are twin lanterns set into the stone on either side of the doorway to Kefka’s tower.
The door slides open, and Locke tries to run, but quite suddenly his entire body seizes up like he’s been paralyzed.
There, in all his horrific glory, stands Kefka himself. “I’m so glad you’ve come! You’ll have so much fun in my eternal tower. It’s different than you remember it, but I won’t spoil anything for you.”
Locke can’t believe his eyes. He doesn’t believe. It can’t be. “You’re dead. I killed you with my own two hands. This isn’t real.”
“Oh, it’s real enough, Locke. Celes is already inside enjoying herself. Wouldn’t you like to join her?” Kefka’s grin is twisted, like a full-faced grimace.
“No! Let Celes go! Let her go and… I will take her place.”
Kefka sneers. “How disgustingly noble of you. Too bad you aren’t in any position to bargain with me.” He snaps his fingers and Locke is being pulled in, a puppet whose strings are being manipulated to make him walk.
This can’t be happening. He’s dreaming, hallucinating, dying from a deadly poison. Anything, anything but being sucked into Kefka’s tower.
Locke screams, and Kefka begins to laugh.
There is a legend that can be traced back to the end of Kefka’s reign. They say that the land where Kefka's Tower once rested is cursed - full of strange lights and phantom laughter. They say that the ones who spend too many days there sometimes go mad.
Don’t believe it? Just head up the road to Narshe and ask for Locke. I hear when they found him, he was screaming. The only words they could make out were ‘Kefka’ and ‘laughing’. He’s still screaming it, twenty years later right alongside that pretty girl of his, Celes. Of course, they don’t realize they’re together, since she’s screaming, too - something about a tower and the dead coming back to life.
But don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself. Then tell me you don’t believe.