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Well, I've finally got together the needed research for the fanfiction. And I'm still not entirely sure where it's going to go... I'm still not certain I've got a complete handle on the characters, but I'll do my best. I'm also looking for a beta for this story, so if anyone wants to apply for the position, it would be appreciated if you have an excellent understanding of the FFVII universe and characters, particularly those of Zack, Cloud, Sephiroth and Vincent.


This story is an FFVII AU, and also my first foray into the FFVII 'verse.

My understanding of Gaia's (the Planet's) culture is that it's a mix of Japanese, Norse and Celtic/English traditions, as evidenced by the dress, languages written and spoken, and mythology. I will draw mainly from the Norse and Celtic mythos for a few practices in this AU, particularly the practice of the Bardic tradition.
As such, I have made the addition of 'Skalds'. This is the Norse term for a bard, wandering or with a court position. This will not be a common profession as, with the progression of technology (and Shinra), it has dropped from common practice (along with a lot of other things), and is currently only really common among the very isolated settlements in the mountains, parts of Wutai, and in the tundra areas.

A Skald of Gaia would never cut the majority of their hair - it is a mark of their profession - and the hair would normally be braided into a simplistic and practical style, often with ornaments or beads included. They would be masters of at least one of three instruments - a lyre or harp, a carved flute (wood or bone) and  a large flat hand drum known as a Bodhrun (played with a curved striker, originally a bone). A Skald is also a master of wit and riddle (in Celtic practice they were sent into battle to force a victory through words, either sarcastic poetry or riddles). Some Skalds take a position of 'Warrior-Skald', being both Bard and Warrior - these people usually travelled alone or with other warriors. Skalds themselves are solitary, and unless they hold a position of importance at a court, they'd also be quite poor, owning just their instrument(s) and some clothing. However, a Warrior-Skald would not be as hard up, as they would supplement their music-earned money with fight-prizes and bounties.

Myths and Gods - Nibelheim/Midgar seem to follow Norse Mythology calling on Hel, Odin and Thor. The odd one out is Gaia (greek) referring to the Planet, and is used by all, irrespective of geography. Wutai have Leviathan as their patron god, else they seem a mostly Japanese culture.
Language and Society - English is spoken, Japanese is written except in Wutai where it is Japanese spoken as well as written. Runes have mostly been lost as society changed, though the knowledge is still kept by some few. Similar thing with herblore – a few people know the proper proportions to mix the herbs to create potions, most just buy from them or from stores with synthesized potions, or kill a few monsters. Proper uses of the herbs have dropped from common knowledge, except among enthusiasts and old gardeners. The society has become largely materia/mako-electricity dependent.

From other fictions I like and from canon, I've made the assumption that Mrs. (Eileen?) Strife was raised in the old ways. I also gathered that Cloud was a sort of pariah in Nibelheim along with his mother, and so have begun the fic fairly early in his life, around four or so. At this point he's fairly mouldable and so I introduced an OC called Herdradd (pronounced herdrath) who teaches Cloud to be a Warrior-Skald. Whether he goes to SOLDIER as in canon thereafter, I haven't decided yet. I'd prefer not to, and instead have Cloud meet Sephy and Zack on the Nibelheim mission as their guide, heehee.


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September 2013

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