whitefirebird: (Default)

Here is the second chapter of my ffvii fic. Enjoy!

Chapter 2:  Meetings

The crow circled high above the ashen plain. A plume of dust rumbled and billowed its way toward a tall mesa on the left of the road, a rattling truck at its head. The crow broke from its circling to follow the truck for a few miles, before swooping off to one side. A figure on the mesa’s peak held its arm up for the crow to land.
The cloaked face seemed to lock eyes with the crow, before both turned their heads to follow the truck’s path until the truck could be seen clearly. Then the figure launched the crow and shimmered in the dust dragged up from the plain. A moment later a second crow followed the first and the mesa was left empty.

~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~

Zack Fair was bored. This was extremely worrying for his companions, as a bored Zack meant attempts to entertain himself that got increasingly embarrassing for his victims. Even Sephiroth was a little afraid of his Second-in-Command’s sense of humour, despite being largely immune to his pranks due to his status as Zack’s Commander… correction, Zack’s status as his only friend – Zack never risked jeopardising his position – he “didn’t want Seph to be alone” so that meant no pranking the Silver General.

But still, Zack was bored.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~

Upon the group’s arrival in Nibelheim, the traumatised privates, secretly-amused Sephiroth and his not-bored-any-longer-2IC, were immediately met by Nibelheim’s Mayor and his entourage.

Mayor Lockheart was a blocky, balding man with a rather nervous manner about him. What little remained of his dark hair was short-cropped, and his pudgy hands with their stubby fingers were soft with living an easy life. He reminded Zack of a rat.
His daughter on the other hand, was fairly nice for a tomboy country girl, dark of hair and eye, with lean muscles and tanned skin that told of an active, outdoor life. She actually reminded him a little of a half-grown cat – she had an ego and liked to think she was independent, but really wouldn’t last a minute out on her own.

The mayor’s speech of welcome nearly bored him to tears, but he’d been well trained by Sephiroth not to show it. Zack mostly tuned the spiel out, until:

“…we don’t currently have a guide for you – none of the townsfolk have traversed these mountains in generations. It is not wise for anyone unfamiliar with this land to travel without a guide as well – the local, ah, creatures don’t take kindly to intruders, but if you injure or kill one of them, you’ll end up lost forever in the surrounding hills. We’ve lost a number of people that way…”

Both the Privates shivered. Sephiroth made enquiries about lodgings, seemingly ignoring the warning and slight apology, before thanking him and heading in the direction of the inn. As the mayor retreated back into his house with his flunkies, the Privates followed the General, but before Zack could bring up the rear, the Mayor’s daughter spoke up quietly.

“There’s one person who could probably guide you up there. If you want to contact Him, you’ll need to ask the oldest trapper in the tavern about a “guide to Hel’s kitchen”. He’ll give you instructions to meet with Him.” Zack could hear the capitals. She winked at Zack. “Don’t tell Papa I told you about Him – none of the townsfolk like Him except for the trappers and mercs, even if they do like the status He holds.”

She turned to head back into the house.

“Hey, wait!” She stopped. “Just, ah, thank you for the info…”

 She smiled at him over her shoulder. “You’re welcome”

 Zack shook his head, and trotted off towards the inn. He had to meet with Seph, and then go find this guide.

~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~

 His drinking buddies would be rather surprised if they saw him now, Zack thought as he pushed through the doors to the tavern and slunk inside, sticking to the shadows. Until he found the contact, he didn’t want to attract attention, very unlike him. That would be the last thing they needed – the General’s group had come into town rather openly after all, and what with the previous reactions of the Mayor and his sycophants, Seph had agreed with him that arranging a guide needed to be done discreetly. 

Seph had not been pleased. Understatement, Zack snorted to himself. He didn’t like the idea at all, but as it’s our only real option in order to get anywhere on this mission…He let his gaze meander around the barroom, trying to find the contact the girl had mentioned. 

There. A very old man sat hunched by the open fireplace. His age weighed him down like an avalanche of stone, rivulets of wrinkles running over tanned skin and under a thinning, tangled mass of gray hair. But beneath that frail cover laid muscles like steel cord, and those eyes held no sign of senility. The clever fingers hadn’t lost any of their cunning or dexterity if the way he was playing with that knife was any indication either. 

Zack watched him for a time, just marvelling at the stillness and silence the man portrayed. Then Zack froze as those too-sharp eyes turned towards his shadowed corner. 

“Come, boy” he said, “Ask, or don’t, but doan’ lurk. It makes m’ fingers itch.”

The crowd in the tavern paused, and watched as Zack emerged from his shadows, then went back to their conversations while keeping an eye on the SOLDIER.

Zack walked over to the aged trapper, an annoyed look in his eyes. ‘Damn, damn, damn! Stupid, Zack, stupid!’ Zack mentally sighed ‘Well, it’s done now, can’t change it.’

“Well boy? Wha’ d’you need?” The man motioned to the tavern crowd and they started minding their own business. 

Zack lowered his voice. “I need a guide to Hel’s Kitchen.”

The man stared at him, then laughed, a harsh, cawing sound. “Well, you don’t beat around the bush, tha’s fer sure.” He stopped laughing and lowered his voice as well. “All righ’ kid. If you’re certain tha’s where you need t’ go?” 

“I am, and I do.”

“All righ’ then. Listen t’ me now, boy, and listen good. There’s a man in these mountains that knows ‘em like the back ‘f his hand. Doan’ under’stimate him jus’ ‘cause he looks younger ‘n you” Zack was about to protest “ah-ah, we judge by experience here, and I doan’ know yous so you’re still “boy” to me. Now, back to the guide you want.

Not even us trappers go as deep in as he does, and we can only hunt here ‘cause he’s gotten the local gods an’ fae t’ give us a pass t’ certain areas.” Zack looked at him weirdly. “You never met the fae then, kid?” He cackled “’s an experience, fer sure, an’ while you’re here make damn sure you listen to y’ guide – you do not want to piss theys off. Theys can make your life a living ‘ell boy, no bones about it.

T’ meet with th’ guide you need to get t’ a hoose on th’ outskirts of town, nearest the fores’. Knock politely, an’ when th’ door is answered, ask th’ lady ‘f her son’d be willing t’ take you where you need t’ go. If she says no, well, tha’s th’ end of it. If she says yea, head fer the forest’s edge with th’ token she’ll hand you. After tha’, jus’ follow the music.”

Zack stared at him for a bit, then thanked him and stalked back out into the night, wondering just what he’d gotten himself into. With one last thought he disappeared into the darkness.

Seph’s just gonna love this.’

Chapter End

whitefirebird: (Default)

Title:  - (As yet unnamed)
Author: whitefirebird
Chapter Rating:
Summary: Basically a what-if fic. "The Bards of Gaia are not well understood. When Zack and Sephiroth meet their guide in Nibelheim, it starts a chain of events that will disrupt many plans and change the world. A single pebble can cause an AVALANCHE - what happens if that pebble becomes a boulder?"

Note: the name Herdradd is pronounced 'her-drath' with  a soft 'th'  like in leather.
Note2: flashbacks and memories will be in italics and between two  of these:  ~

Chapter 1: Apprentice

 Cloud was smart. Even at four years old, he was smart. So when he heard muffled snickering that was quickly hushed from behind Widow Gwyneth’s shed he knew he was in for another beating. ‘Unless…’ He eyed the gap between the end of the trail he was on and the edge of the forest. It was just manageable, if only for a small and quick child. He could make it. ‘At least, I think I can…’

 Even as he continued down the trail, he was tensing and relaxing his muscles in preparation for a lengthy sprint. ‘After all, who’s to say that this time they won’t just follow me in? They may be scaredy-cats most of the time, but I can’t deny that they can be persistent depending on who’s leading and how badly they want to hit me.’

 So, his only real option was to continue down the trail and then run for home.

 ‘Go time in… three… two…’ “Now!” Even as he said the word he was already picking up his heels and flying across the gap between trail and forest.

“Shit! He’s getting away!”

 “After him! Don’t want him to miss out on a drubbing, now do we?”

 “B-b-but boss, he’s heading for the- ”

 “I know, I know! Do you think I’m blind?!”

 “Well, n-no, but- ”

 “Then I don’t care! Get ‘im!”

 ‘Damn! It would have to be Jesun! Now I’m going to have to run through that briar patch in order to lose him! But- wait! There’s that old dragon’s nest that I found last week. If I hide out there he won’t dare go in to look ‘just in case it comes back’.

 Cloud wanted to shake his head. The village children were all idiots. Not one of them had ever been exploring around the town’s forest and surrounding mountains. If they had, they’d know about such things and how to tell ‘old’ from ‘new and freshly deserted’. Well, Tifa might have, were it not for her old man. Then again, she might not have, being a girl…

 Never mind. It all worked in his favour, so why worry about it?

 Cloud suddenly stumbled over an old tree that must have been uprooted in the last winter storm, just two weeks ago. Well, more like ‘tripped over the smashed branches’. It landed him in a small hollow that quickly turned itself into an extremely muddy slide. He shot down into an overgrown clearing, flying clear across the space to slam into a tree on the other side, hard, and everything went black.


 “Augh…did anyone see the dragon that hit me?”

 “It was no dragon, boyo.” Cloud sat up quickly, then wished he hadn’t. “It was a tree that hard head of yours struck, no mistake about it” continued the old man in front of him. Cloud, when he finally got his eyes to focus properly, stared at him. For this man was one of the most strangely dressed people he’d ever seen. He carried a sword in a baldric harness looped over one shoulder and around his waist. That was about the end of normalcy and anything he had in common with the trappers Cloud spoke to whenever he could.

 This guy wore a belted green tunic with dark blue trim and scarlet laces. They shouldn’t have worked together but somehow did. Under the tunic was a wide-sleeved shirt with the cuffs pulling the sleeve close at the wrist. It was heavily embroidered at the high neck, but was otherwise plain. His pants looked sort of like Master Zangan’s; loose around the leg but caught in at his boots. He was wearing what looked to be combat boots, but they had a strange buckle-fastening on the side in place of the normal laces.
The strangest thing though was his hair. It was long, Cloud could see that much, but he wasn’t sure just how long, as the iron grey mass was all caught up in a peculiarly simple but complicated style. He was pretty sure it was simple to do, but the final result looked extraordinarily complicated. It had all these beads woven into it, along with what looked like feathers and… was that… materia in there?!

 The man saw where he was looking and chuckled.

 “Yeah, that’s materia. My hair makes for a good place to store it, because a lot of people overlook it there. They think it’s just an ornament of some kind, fashioned to look like materia. I don’t bother to disabuse them of the notion, unless they start trying to kill me.

 “Anyway. Kid, you’re just the kind of person I’ve been looking for. I’m asking you to become one of Balder’s favoured.”

 ‘One of Balder’s favoured… This man is a Skald! Cloud eyed the sword. ‘Make that Warrior-Skald. And now that he was looking, he saw all the tell-tales – the callus on the fingers from playing instruments and using the sword, the bags off to one side filled with all his belongings, the harp-case with them and the pipe in his belt. ‘Can’t forget the hair, either ’.

 Cloud’s brow furrowed.

 ‘Do I want to become one? Would it be worth the further out-casting? But then again, it would also gain me some protection and some respect for mother for raising a bard.’

 Even now, music and those who made it were very respected, at least among the mountain peoples. He didn’t know much about Wutai or the People of the Tundra, so couldn’t judge their beliefs. But in Nibelheim, being a Skald’s apprentice would earn his mother a great deal of respect for bearing one the gods considered worthy. For though the Old Ways were losing their power and practitioners, the Gods were still firmly believed in. Who else would judge if you went through the Lifestream to the Promised Land, or were reborn to relive your life in order to fix your mistakes?

 ‘And I would be granted the same respect as she would hold upon completion of my apprenticeship. More, I would have the security of training in a weapon and hand-to-hand combat.
‘Still – what of earning a living? Even Skald-trained, I would need an income, or I would starve. But what could I do? I don’t know of anything that would really fit…’

During all his ruminations, the Skald had remained silent. He seemed to judge that his prospective apprentice was fast coming to a decision and decided to add that last little push.

 “I will only ask once, child. Will you become my apprentice?”

 Cloud waited a little, turning his decision over from all angles to make sure he’d chosen well. His answer resonated in his wyrd and changed his course from what had been spun by the Norns.



 6 years later


Herdradd had worked him hard, but Cloud was now an excellent musician on harp, drum and pipe. Not a master yet of course, seeing as he was an apprentice still, but he was quickly closing in on the end of his musical learning with his master. What he was currently learning was sword-work and hand-to-hand. He’d had to wait until his body could withstand such wear on it, for Herdradd was a harsh taskmaster, demanding that he be as flexible and strong as possible. So every morning starting when he was six, Cloud began with a body-conditioning regime that depended on his own body-weight to provide resistance. He’d been surprised how much his running from his tormentors had helped him with his core strength – the strong lungs and heart he’d developed stood him in good stead, especially with the additional training in singing. He could now hold his breath underwater at seven metres for close to five minutes.

 He’d still had some trouble from the village children after his apprenticeship began, but at least no-one among the adults had tried to beat him for something that was not his fault any longer. All the stares of contempt and disapproval had stopped. And those other looks, from some of the men, had stopped as well, the ones that had sent multiple shivers down his spine and made him cold for hours afterwards. The ones he hadn’t told his mother about.

 Though the village children were still down-right nasty. He’d had to use his newly-learned herb knowledge more than once following a particularly awful day. He rubbed his shoulder; just thinking about the beatings made him ache.

 A noise from above made him look up, wary, then sigh in annoyance. It was only Vincent. He smiled up at the red-cloaked man, then went back to his day-dreaming.

He remembered when he’d rescued Vincent from that odd coffin in the old Shin-ra mansion when he was eight. He smirked a little as he remembered that the place had gone up in flames shortly after. Vincent and Herdradd had been teaching him to use materia and Vincent had for some reason selected the old mansion as the first place to train him. And, like with all beginners, after he’d gotten the hang of casting, they’d had him super-charge the fire spell. How was he to know that it would take out all the wooden supports along one wall and catch in the drapes?


~ “All right, Cloud. Now you’ve gotten the hang of drawing the spell up, Vincent suggested having you over-charge the spell so you’ll know what it feels like and the effects on spell.”


 “You should know what to expect if it does happen,” was all the shadowed man said.

 Cloud nodded dubiously, then started to activate the spell.

 “Cloud!” He glanced at his master. “Hold it as long as possible, then release along that wall over there.” Herdradd pointed to Cloud’s left.

 Barely acknowledging the change in targets, as all Cloud’s attention was focused on the fireball in his outstretched left hand. The arm holding it had already started to shake, but Cloud kept feeding the spell energy.

 Finally, when he couldn’t hold it any longer, he flung his arm forwards and the supercharged fireball screamed into main supporting pillar. It surprised the hell out of the blond apprentice when the fire roared into the other pillars along that wall, ending up in the drapes at the far end of the Ballroom.

 “Oh Shit!”

 “There, you see why we had you do that?”


 Vincent cut in. “We must leave!”

 Cloud glanced at the pillar and his eyes widened when he saw that it was about to collapse.

 “Quickly, through the library!”

 They raced for the doors they had come through at the start of the lesson, and sprinted along cobwebbed corridors. The three flung themselves out through the front door not a moment too soon, as their exit was punctuated by an enormous tongue of flame that then went on to happily devour the front of the house.

 “That was close” was all a wide-eyed Cloud said.

 When they went back in the morning, they discovered that the basements of the house must have had charges placed inside them in case of a need to self-destruct, for all that remained of the mansion was an immense blackened pit filled with crumbling wood and twisted slag. Mako-influenced flames were much, much hotter than any other flame.

 It was also where Cloud got his first experience with Mako. He’d started treading carefully through the rubble, but he’d been distracted by all the demented shapes of metal he’d been encountering. As such, he’d missed a scrapped bar lying in his path and had tripped, landing face down in a partially obscured, open pool of Mako.

Instantly after being submerged, he was bombarded by the Voices of those long gone to the Lifestream. Cloud grasped his head in pain as they got louder and louder. He withdrew into his mind, falling into the meditative rhythm Herdradd had taught him.

 He didn’t wake up for six weeks.

Once he’d opened his eyes and was coherent, his teachers told him that he’d suffered through a rather bad case of Mako-poisoning. The side effects of this event became more and more apparent, for aside from the rather disconcerting glowing eyes he now had, his strength had increased, along with his healing factor. He was also a lot quicker, and had much better night-vision.

 Herdradd and Vincent had theorised that all that concentrated magic had opened a spontaneous vent to the Lifestream and he’d had the bad luck to fall into it.

 He’d also forgotten a few things – mainly things like some of his more obsolete hiding places, the exact year he was born and the names of most of the larger boys’ lackeys. The ones who’d tormented him to keep from being tormented themselves. ~


Vincent was still beating himself up over that one. His reasoning was that it had been his idea to practice in the mansion and his idea to supercharge the fire spell, therefore it was his fault. Cloud was still trying to get it through to him that it wasn’t his fault that Cloud had fallen into a Mako pool. He’d had no luck as yet.

 Cloud’s appearance had changed from when Herdradd had taken him as an apprentice. He’d grown out his hair as Skald tradition demanded and had started carrying the materia he’d been gifted with for his last birthday there. It was unslotted, but Herdradd had refused to teach him using slotted materia, saying that it “was a shortcut and only idiots used shortcuts”. So, now he had three secured in his hair close to the base of his skull. The hair itself was nearly to his butt when unbound, a mass of spikes like a bale of spun gold. His body had started to come into its own too – he was developing a fine-boned, lean musculature that merely added to his rather effeminate face. He was still not very tall, and his quietness and wariness around others lent itself to the illusion of shortness. But when Cloud chose, he could bring forward a stage presence strong enough that the entire village would listen during his practices, yet subtle enough for when he played for the local wildlife – he’d made a number of allies among the beasts of the Nibelheim forests and hills. Not to mention the wee folk, who loved music as much or more than they loved life. He’d picked up a number of tricks from them as well.

 That reminded him. His birthday was coming up, and Herdradd had promised something interesting….

Chapter 1 : Apprentice End

whitefirebird: (Default)
Right. Sorry It's taken me so long to post this. That priority got a little subsumed in other things.....
Anyway, here it is, in all its glory. The prologue of my first ever FFVII fic.

Title:  - (As yet unnamed)
Author: whitefirebird
Chapter Rating:
Summary: Basically a what-if fic. "The Bards of Gaia are not well understood. When Zack and Sephiroth meet their guide in Nibelheim, it starts a chain of events that will disrupt many plans and change the world. A single pebble can cause an AVALANCHE - what happens if that pebble becomes a boulder?"

Prologue Start

He waited. He’d waited for a long time. Now, there was one he deemed worthy of his favour. The child would do well as his legacy. He only hoped that Odin would agree, so that when he died on the field of battle, he himself would be worthy of a seat in His great feast hall of Valhalla.

He waited.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Cloud was and had always been a quiet child. Even at four years of age, he was something of an outcast amongst his peers. While they were running and screaming with laughter, he was quietly holed up in a tree, reading or sketching.

He was also a precocious child, having learned to read by himself at the tender age of two and a half. Thus he knew he was different from the other village children. Just like how his mother was different. He saw it in the way everyone would leave a wide berth for Eileen Strife and her son, not out of respect but fear and contempt. He saw it in the way she always left out a full milk-pan every sennight, the way no-one else did. He saw it in how she treated his scrapes and illnesses with herbs and teas, instead of giving him a diluted potion like the other parents did. He saw it in the way she would take him and go into the surrounding forested hills a few times every year, to visit a certain old oak and an ancient rowan tree.

 And he noticed how she would tell him stories, stories of the Brownies and the Dwarves, of Epona, of Odin and Gaia. Stories that were laughed at in the village. She told him tales of the why behind certain traditions, like leaving holly over every door and window during the twelve days of Midwinter, or the carved pumpkin on every doorstep at All Hallow’s Eve, or why no-one went out on Beltane after the festival and bonfires.

 And he learned of the Myths and traditions that had fallen from favour with the common people with the rise of the Shin-ra Company, with the advent of mako-driven electricity, with the rising importance of money and social connections.

 With the loss of belief in the Old Ways.

 But all of these things couldn’t help Cloud when he was caught away from a safe place by the village children. They bullied him because of his odd beliefs, because he was small, because he was smarter than them and couldn’t keep his mouth from running ahead of his common sense. They bullied him because in the village he stuck out like a sore thumb, blond and blue-eyed instead of dark of hair and eye. And they bullied him because he was a mark of strangeness in a place where fitting in and being normal were more important than individualism. Where free spirit was squashed in favour of compliance. 

In favour of injustice.


But when he got up from the ground, bruised and battered and torn, and made his way home to his mother, he would smile a secret smile that said ‘I know the way of the world, and I have seen things you would never believe.’ And in his secret heart of hearts he would not change a thing, though he could have wished for a less confrontational existence.

And soon his life would change for all of time, for better or for worse, with the arrival in Nibelheim’s surrounding forest a person who would shape many of his future skills and guide him through his formative years.

Prologue End

That's all for now. The first chapter will be up soon - it is completed, but I'd like to get some responses first. I'm not a reviewwhore, so the next chapter will be posted regardless by Monday, but it would be nice to see what people think...

whitefirebird: (Default)
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.


whitefirebird: (Default)

September 2013

89 1011121314


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 07:19 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios