Note: This is the Editing Blog for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link). I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process. You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking. The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention. Thanks for your interest and enjoy!
Warning: Some discussions of rape as it relates to the narrative of Northern Lights.
Chapter 2 – The Spoils of War
Quote: “Heaven help the wayward soul that travels toward becoming whole, but never gets to see the kingdom come.” –November Project “Are You Sleeping?”
Picture Source: Yes
Picture Satisfaction: High
So for this chapter I definitely needed a quote and a new picture. The one I had originally shows Seph carrying Aeris, which obviously means he didn’t kill her at the end of the first installment.
Now I now the blurb sort of gives away that that’s not going to happen and he’s going to repay his debt to her, but there’s still no reason to spoil how/when that happens with pictures. Then again if you’re reading this, you should’ve already read chapter 2…actually you should’ve read the entire story unless you just want to listen to me babble in which case AWESOME carry on. I took notes about this chapter’s themes in order to get an idea of what I wanted to have for both.
Picture and quote have both been chosen as noted above. Since I’m just starting my editing process the quote may change, but I like it for the same reason I like the picture. It’s a little bit deceptive and could refer to either one of them. As of the end of chapter 1, we don’t know what’s happened to her. We don’t know what Sephiroth’s done or will do to her. The picture shows an unconscious Aeris (or rather dead Aeris, but I’m going with unconscious for the purpose of this), and it works because the start of the chapter shows her with her eyes closed believing she’s in the Lifestream again. The quote could also refer to either of them. Aeris could be the “wayward soul,” a soul that’s escaped the immortal swell and will either not get to see the mundane world’s kingdom come or the immortal world’s. Of course it could also refer to Sephiroth being a wayward soul. I’m tricksy like that 🙂
Oh hai! Future Narcissist here again. So I know I have that picture above of Aeris in the water as my editing blog claimed illustration for Chapter 2. Well, if you’ve read Northern Lights, you may have realized that that’s not the case. I messaged the artist about that work, but she never got back to me. Now, this is always a touchy situation. I never quite know what’s proper protocol. I, of course, would always give the artist credit but you never know how an artist wants their work to be used, and since Northern Lights is up on Deviant Art itself, I didn’t want to step on any toes or break any rules, so if I didn’t get a response I didn’t use the picture. I asked a question in the DA forum, and the general consensus was that I shouldn’t use an artist’s work without express permission from the artist themselves. If I couldn’t find the artist, I put a disclaimer saying that, but I couldn’t rightfully claim ignorance if I knew who they were. So I didn’t (technically) use that picture in my story, but I guess maybe I did here?? Well…it’s not officially on the chapter here or on DA so sure. The picture I ended up using is this.
which has a source, but no way to contact the artist.
Back to the past, but somehow the future of that past. Wibley wobbly timey wimey…
Welcome back friends and countrymen (you do not need to lend me your ears).
I did not type up my written notes from last night; I was far too tired. Usually I would do that as my first entry, but some thoughts solidified in my slumber creating revelations, and they’re far too astounding not to share.
FFVII and ASOIAF ask the same question: Who is holding the puppet strings? I mentioned this yesterday with regards to how deep the manipulation goes. Barring FFVI all other games (among the ones I’ve played) have an Inception like quality to this paradigm, and ASOIAF follows suit. We currently believe that Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger is the master puppeteer of all, and this may very well be true on the surface. Petyr is very good at the game of thrones, but his powers are all mundane. We should not and cannot forget about the power of warging, the ability to jump into another person’s mind and make them do what you want. Herein lies a major connection with FFVII, because Sephiroth gets into Cloud’s mind in only a fraction of the way Jenova has infiltrated his. In ASOIAF we’ve been following the character of Bran Stark on his journey beyond the wall to find the Three-Eyed Crow. That link leads to not only a description, but a picture of what the three eyed crow looks like. I put a link yesterday to Jenova yesterday (wtf were you talking about Past Narcissist??). I’m putting it again today, because I woke up this morning realizing the creepy and uncanny resemblance. Both have long white/silver hair, one red eye, and are connected and transfixed through the body especially the abdomen.
But more than that, the three eyed crow has the power to see everything through the weirwoods and the power to warg, to take over people’s minds, get into their heads and make them do what he wants. In the video I posted yesterday, James and LaDonna believe this is crucial to the point of the story. There is some entity that we have probably already been told about that is the master manipulator of them all. The holder of the puppet strings is the central question, and if you are the controller of such, then you’ve messed with free will, which is the spoil of war in Paradise Lost.
Below starts my minimal editing notes from last night.
I tend to be stingy with names in stories. Names are very important to fantasy in general. Knowing someone or something’s true name usually gives you power over that entity. Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind concerns itself with just that. An excellent read by the way. I don’t actually say Sephiroth’s name until the end of the chapter and only after that do I start using it. It could be an implication that she’s too terrified to say it because saying it will make him real, and so long as she’s silent, the flower girl can pretend that this is just a horrible dream. There’s also the factor that speaking his name in Midgar could get your tongue torn out.
“…terrified to rival such light.” There it is…the light bringer theme. Probably not the first, certainly not the last.
“But this was her murderer come again, and she was a spoil of war. He had killed three men tonight in order to get to her. Nor did she expect her new death to be quick as her old one had mercifully been. No…this he would savor by raping her first then playing her screams up the length of his sword. She bit her lip, but the cry escaped accompanied by shameful tears.” Ugh…her vision of what he might do to her is horrifying and awful. It of course goes along with the rape paradigm that she’s now savvy, too, since she experienced it in the prior story. Poor Aeris…one (gang) rape stopped, but another potentially worse one to come.
The chapter title also needs to be discussed here. A “spoil of war” being a prize or token, which sadly often included women and girls. I don’t really need to say what happens when a city is sacked. Cersei Lannister warns Sansa about such prior to the Battle of the Blackwater
Can we talk about how strong Sephiroth is? He’s carrying her in his right arm, which is his off one being left handed where he’s holding the Masamune. Aeris can’t even move to struggle even though he’s not even using a fraction of his strength…but he’s not hurting her. That sword is heavy btw. I have two replicas, the longest of which is two feet shorter than the actual Masamune’s length, and it’s still heavy as fuck. Random information my shorter sword is named Kindness, the longer is Mercy, and together they’re The Rapture. Yes, I am a dork. (Future Narcissist update. I’m even more of a dork. The longer one is named Chesed and I believe I’m going to call the shorter one Gedulah [which I believe is another term for the same concept. Still researching. Don’t kill me any Qabalists or theologians], because of course I’d name my Masamunes after the Holy Sephiroth They both are still called The Rapture though.)
(Even more Future Narcissist speaking now. I went to Renn Faire this weekend and bought yet ANOTHER even LONGER Masamune. I’m on my phone right now else I’d post pictures, but I promise you updates soon enough!)
!!!!!!! Alright I don’t know how true this is as I have never actually read Paradise Lost myself, but I did a google search of “FFVII Paradise Lost” and its inverse just to see if anyone else had written any essays on it (I did the same with FFVII Revelations to no avail prior to mine). No one had, but I did find an article on the GameFAQs boards that state the reason Sephiroth has one wing is directly referring to Lucifer in PL. Now it’s obvious to anyone whose done any remote study on literature that Seph is a Lucifer expy/Satan Archtype, but according to this board post when God cast Lucifer out of Heaven, he took one of his wings. I did a quick look at my copy of Milton’s epic thinking this information would be in the beginning, but I was unable to locate it. If any of you, dear readers, can find and dictate that line, I would be most grateful. This now ups my desire to read Paradise Lost for if this is true, it holds an even stronger influence over the story I most love. (Future Narcissist. I’m just going to start calling myself FN for fun *groan* but I’m at Book V of PL and now I’m starting to believe the wing removal happens at the end as an extra punishment. Satan is still flying around and I have a feeling that he wouldn’t be able to do that in the PL narrative as opposed to the FFVII/Advent Children one.)
Seph tells her, “Be still,” and the very Planet echoes this command. Aeris’s turmoil is through the roof. The only way this poor child has survived this long is by running and hiding, and she can’t run or hide now. She’s captured; she’s trapped by her own murderer, the angel who hates the world. Soooo why is that world echoing his words. Has he corrupted it at last?
“It’s part of me. It has my blood…” The Masamune is part of him (puts a whole new layer on that whole rape metaphor, doesn’t it?). I thought up the blood mixed with steel thing on the fly as I was writing this part. I…can’t recall if another narrative uses the same paradigm. I’m thinking of Anne Rice though and her vampire novel Blood and Gold. Was there something about mixing blood and molten metal in that? I haven’t read it. I think it was one of the ones I tried, but was unable to finish at the time.
Hehe, even terrified Aeris is still questioning him about the sword no less. She wants to know about this “between.” Patience, little maid, patience…this could be a way for her to stall the “inevitable,” but he did just put the Masamune away. Not that he needs a sword to kill her.
“Slowly and quite gently she was lowered to the floor…” What madness is this?? This initial let down gives a tell on Seph’s nature in this tale. He doesn’t just drop Aeris. He’s extremely careful with her. Afterwards, he stands by her door with his hands behind his back to give her space and be less of a threat.
Thought: Should I explain how he still has his old clothes? They are a hundred years aged. I’m thinking his agelessness extends to his garb similar to how the clothes didn’t burn in the fires of Nibelheim. Just thinking about it. It can be added later and Aeris could ask the question.
“May I use your shower?” Bahahaha, it’s such a mundane request and the second thing he’s asked her. “Where do you live?” and “May I use your shower?” We start to see a bit of his personality here. He’s very polite. This part actually reminds me of that scene in Kill Bill (I forget if it’s 1 or 2…probably 2) where the Bride walks in to that dinner and very calmly and politely asks for a glass of water.
How fucking strange is it to have your murderer in you house taking a shower. She’s at least thinking death is giving her a reprieve.
Hm, I have Aeris speculating about how she can’t leave the slums, but I think I want to leave that for later conversations. You don’t want to give away all your secrets at once.
“His clothes were the same, but his hair shone like silver spun from liquid light. She had thought it bright even when he was caged, but compared to this it had been dull as rainwater. His head was lowered within the moonlit spill, face still bearing that empty mask. Aeris had never seen anything more beautiful or more terrifying in either of her lives.” Dear god, he is beautiful…
He calls her, “child,” and we find out why later.
“She wanted to believe but knew he was a master of manipulation, and the sorrow so hidden behind his stark mask could just be another game.” I was being a little bit meta here since the original story uses the gaming medium. There’s a much bigger meta reference, but I’ll talk about that when he says the first part.
Ah, “faster than she could think or blink.” Well he is an angel 🙂 Similar to the meta reference, there’s another and bigger Doctor Who one coming up.
“The flower girl leapt back away from proximity and the scent of leather above winter skin.” God yes…*ahem* if you didn’t know I am a huge Sephiroth fangirl. Hell, I could be the president of the fan club (per Crisis Core).
I switch perspective from Aeris to him in this chapter. It’s the first time it occurs. Here’s hoping it’s coherent and cohesive.
“The space beneath was as clean as she could make it, but he still frowned at the image of the little maid forced to dwell beneath.” He doesn’t like the idea that Aeris has been forced to basically live in the basement of her house. It bothers him greatly and lends another clue to what his character is going to be. Seph doesn’t like the idea of her being forced in general, and this is the reason he came to her defense in Sector 6. He accepted his punishment in the cell, but the instant he saw harm about to come to Aeris, he had to act. It was an act of contrition, but we’ll get into more of this later.
“A long finger traced a biased crack in the middle beneath a beam, and at the touch his teeth came together behind his lips. Something hissed behind that fissure underneath his pressed ear. Tiny nails ceaselessly scratching as if a thousand rats had gone insane trapped within the walls. He poured incandescence into the crack, but not even Mako eyes could discern any source. It was half in his head to summon the sword, but then he unclenched his left hand. Perhaps something within her house just didn’t like him. That was hardly an idea farfetched.” Oh the crack in the wall. I don’t know why I thought of that. It had been a while since I’d seen that episode of Doctor Who with the time fields.
“’There’s no need to hide from me, child…I already know where you are.’” Not sure if Seph realizes how terrifying this is. Such a line would not assuage my fear if I were Aeris. Also, lifting up her bed (hiding spot) would cause even more fear, because it shows just how strong he is again.
“Aeris cried out in horror, trying to scrunch herself smaller in the corner near the top. Her shaking was uncontrollable and at the sight of that green lit fire she couldn’t stop her tears. ‘Please, please…’ She didn’t know what to beg for. She had no armor to keep herself safe.” Aeris has nothing 😦 All she’s relied on for safety is gone. She’s completely at his mercy, and the last time they met, she died.
“I won’t hurt you, little flower…” This is the first time he’s used that sweet epithet in antitheses to the other time we heard it. Aeris has essentially given up. In her mind this is the “all is lost” moment
(we needed some comic relief), and she just had one of those with the rapists in Sector 6. The little flower girl is not having a good day. Sephiroth could kill/rape her at any moment, and she knows that. It’s utterly his choice, but he does nothing but continue to show he’s not a threat to her.
When Seph explains how he found her, Aeris is fascinated despite her fear. She can’t help her curiosity about him.
She is the one who names him. The first time we hear it is from her lips. It’s not even used in the blurb.
Does his command of “sleep” carry compulsion. It certainly seems so…then he puts out the candles with a single gesture. What ominous things are to come? Were his persuasive words and politeness all a sham? Is he going to kill her in her sleep? Chapter 3 is imminent.
Thank you all so much for bearing with me. If you’ve reached this point I thank you profusely and bless your eyes, which must certainly be tired. Until later then adieu.