Chapter 39 – Nibelheim

Chapter 39 – Nibelheim

We headed to Nibelheim by helicopter, piloted by Elena.

Tseng was sitting in the back seat, facing us. “How is your shoulder? The doctor had been preparing to examine…”

“It’s fine. No problem.”

“There is lots of medicine. Any time, just let me know. But… it really doesn’t hurt?”

“Everyone keeps asking me that, but I swear, it’s true.”

“Maybe you’re already dead?” said Tseng, looking straight at me.

I noticed Kyrie’s whole body tense up next to me. “What does that mean?”

“I was just kiddin’, ya know.”

“It’s inappropriate.” Kyrie said, in disgust.

Before long, an eerie mountain came into view. Nothing but rugged, desolate terrain. I was taken aback. It was the landscape from the painting we had up on the wall of the Mireille Detective Agency.

“Kyrie, that mountain!”

Kyrie clambered over me to put her face to the window, and cried out in surprise.

“That’s Mt. Nibel.” Tseng said. “There’s a Mako reactor there. It’s rich in Mako, so the village at the foot of the mountain, Nibelheim, also served to house our research facilities.”

“Research on what?”

“It’s hard to explain.”

“You mean it’s a secret.”

“I don’t know everything, either.” Tseng proceeded to look at my face. “The name Annette Townshend wasn’t on the list of researchers. It is not impossible that she participated unofficially, and that we were not aware of that. However, there was an incident, so a detailed investigation was performed on the village. Therefore, it’s unlikely that your mother was a researcher there.”

“Oh.” I gave an indifferent response on purpose.

“If Annette Townshend was involved somehow… it had to have been after.”


“Nearly ten years ago, an incident took place in this village. In order to conceal it, we rebuilt the village and recruited settlers, pretending as if nothing happened.”

“You don’t have a list of those names?”

“No. The Turks weren’t involved directly.”

“So, were you involved in the incident, then?”

“I would rather not say.”

I was sure they were totally involved.

“Tseng, sir, we’re descending.” Elena’s voice caused us to look down again.

It was the village of Nibelheim. I thought that it resembled Doyle village. Of course, it was many times larger, but it also had a circular plaza with houses built all around. In the plaza was a dilapidated water tower. It was a small village consisting of just that. No. There was an out-of-place, imposing stone mansion. It’s the building from the background of the group photo. Perhaps that was the Shin-Ra research facility. This and that Shin-Ra’s research… the photo of the mummy I saw at Dr. Dake’s… I felt like they were connected, somehow.



I recalled Tifa, who was born and raised in this village. She said when she visited two years ago, all the residents of the village were people she didn’t know. The incident, the cover up, the settlers. I see. My mother must have been a settler.

The helicopter descended toward the water tower. The people who had heard the noise came out from their houses and looked up at the sky. I searched for my mother’s face amongst them. I had thought that she probably wouldn’t be there anymore so many times that I had even contemplated giving up on visiting Nibelheim, yet I still searched for her in earnest.


The villagers watched from a distance as Tseng, Kyrie and I got out of the helicopter. Nobody attempted to approach. At a glance, they looked like several families. I could also see small children. I thought I’d try to find faces from that group photo, but I couldn’t remember any except for my mother’s and Gould Arde’s.

“Hello!” Kyrie called out to a little girl. The girl then hurriedly went into her house.

“Who are you!?” I heard a voice shout.

When I sought out the source of the voice, I noticed a man with a beard covering the lower half of his face was glaring at us. He was holding a large gun in his hand.

“Everyone inside. I’ll take care of them.” The villagers went back to their houses, as the man instructed them. “Well, then? Who are you?”

“Gould Arde!?” Kyrie wore a look of surprise.

Then, a surprised expression appeared on the man’s face as well. His face… I hadn’t recognized it at first because of the beard, but he was definitely Gould Arde.

“Hello, Mr. Gould Arde.” Kyrie approached Gould Arde, and Tseng and I followed.

“Wait! You, with the long hair. You’re with the Turks, aren’t you? Stay there. I don’t want any trouble.”

I looked back as I felt him stop behind us, Tseng motioned for us to go using the back of his hand.

Gould Arde guided us to a room in a building, which appeared to have been an inn. It was likely his private room, now. It was lacking in daily necessities, just like my room, but the walls were lined with guns and knives.

“I’m in charge of security here. We’ve got things like monsters… among other things. Problems arise from time to time.” That seemed to be an excuse to me, seeing as I was looking at the dangerous tools on the wall.

“What kind of people live here?” Kyrie asked in a friendly manner.

“Well, folks who like it here. We all settled here without permission, so we feel a bit guilty. Everyone’s a bit wary, but once you get to know us, you’ll see we’re actually just normal people.. So, how come you know who I am?” While saying that, Gould Arde sat down in an easy chair in the corner of the room. There was nowhere for us to sit.

“We’re investigators from the Mireille Detective Agency. We came here from Edge.”


“It’s a new town built next to Midgar.”

“Really? Well, I’d heard stories. So, that’s what it’s called, huh?”

“Mr. Gould Arde. We came looking for you at the request of your father.”

Gould Arde listened to Kyrie, looking quite dumbfounded. “You’re talking about my father… as in Tyran Arde?”


“Tyran is looking for me? I don’t get it.”

“What do you mean?”

“My real father died in the Wutai war when I was a kid. Tyran’s my mother’s second husband. I’ve never thought of Tyran as my father. Wasn’t it the same for him? I only thought about how I could leave home, and eventually joined Shin-Ra…”

“As in, Soldier?”

“Yeah. I would’ve done anything to get out of the house. I didn’t like that my mother started living with him against my wishes, either. I still had my ties with that home when mom was alive, but I thought I had severed them all after she passed away. What would that guy want with… oh, so he wants me to take care of him in his old age, does he?!”

“I didn’t get that impression. He just seemed lonely.” Kyrie was protecting her client.

“Hmph, I wonder about that.” Gould Arde was stubborn.

“I’m going to report this to Tyran Arde, is that okay with you?”

“Do what you like. It’s your job, right?” He turned his palms up to put an end to the matter.

“Let’s go, Kyrie.”

Kyrie stared at me in a criticizing manner. Then she shook her head. It seemed she had no intention of following me. “There’s someone else we’re looking for.”

A specific feeling was rapidly welling up inside me. It was fear. In the next moment, I would discover whether my mother was dead or alive. For two years, there had been no contact. I was ready. But surely it would be considerably harder to hear it. It probably wouldn’t be comparable to that prick of pain I felt every time someone said that my mother was dead. I tensed up, in preparation for the shock.

“Annette Townshend.” Kyrie said. “She’s Evan’s mother.”

Gould Arde looked at me, his mouth still half open. “Annette’s … son. You’re Evan Townshend?”


“Then, is Nick Foley doing well?”

“Huh? No, he passed away.”

“Well, I hadn’t heard from him … so that’s what happened, then? On the day the lifestream surged, Nick… you know about that, right?”


“When it passed here, the lifestream caused considerable damage. People died, too. Nick tried contacting the company for instructions, but it seems they told him to handle it on his own. They probably had their hands full over there, but, well, that was pretty cruel.” Gould Arde noisily scratched his beard.

“And that guy, oh, what a guy he was. He went back to Midgar to tell families about what happened to everyone here. On that worn-out motorcycle, you know? He must really have felt for them. Though it was his job, those folks were the ones who gathered the settlers. He was a real diligent, great guy. Listening to each person’s circumstances, and attempting to make sure they were fully accommodated. Uhh, hmm?
Wait up, you folks know too, right? About what happened to Nick?”

“I’ve only ever met him once.”

“Once? Well, then I guess you must’ve left a pretty strong impression on him.”

“What do you mean?”

“He was legitimately worried that if he wasn’t liked by you, Annette’s son, he would have serious trouble being accepted by her. As far as I could see, it was the perfect example of unrequited love. Coming from a fully grown man, no less.”

So Nick Foley did like my mother, after all. My instincts were right. But my mother didn’t accept him. I’d misunderstood that part. I recalled the confidence-filled smile he had on his face when we first met. I wondered if that was the best smile he could muster. Nick Foley was nervous to meet me. He wanted to be seen as a man worthy of my mother, with a once-in-a-lifetime-shot smile. Suddenly, he seemed like a close friend.

“So, what about Annette?”

“Eh?” I didn’t understand Gould Arde’s question. Why was he asking me?

“Annette wasn’t here for even a week. She left the village due to her work … she hasn’t returned yet?”


“I see …” Gould Arde looked at me with sad eyes.

“Evan’s mother was one of the settlers, right?” Kyrie asked instead of me as I stayed quiet.

“Oh. You wouldn’t know about that, either, huh. Well, you can blame the contract for the fact that not even families were informed of anything. Nobody was informed that the settlement was here, and a huge reward was included as hush money, too.”

“A huge reward, huh?”

“Annette had said she needed money. Half of the sum ought to have been paid up front.”

I finally knew where the money in the ceiling came from.

“Err, Gould,” Kyrie said. “Would we find out more if we asked the people here? About Evan’s mother, that is.”

“No, it would be pointless. Everyone that’s here now settled here after that day. Most of the settlers before… were killed by the lifestream.”

“My mother had already left by then, right?”

“Yeah. Actually, back then, Shin-Ra were running experiments, and some of the victims of the research lived here. Annette was in charge of their care. Oh yeah, wait a minute.” Gould Arde got up and went to the bedside table, and squatted down. There was a small safe under the table. He turned the dial on the safe with practiced precision, and opened the lid. Then, he took out a sealed letter, and checked the address. “A while after Meteor, this arrived from Annette. It was addressed to Nick, but… he was no longer around. You can have it.”

I found myself unable to take the envelope that was being held out to me. It was because it felt like it might be her will. Gould Arde looked at me with curiosity. Kyrie reached out from beside me, and took it.

“I was only around Annette briefly, but she really was a good, kind person. I, too, pray she’s safe.”

“Thank you.”

“Perhaps, she may still be at Icicle Inn.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at the letter. It was sent from Icicle Inn, wasn’t it?”

I looked at the envelope at his urging, and sure enough, it was written there in my mother’s hand.

“Sorry I couldn’t help more.”


Gould Arde spread open his hands again. It seemed this was the end. Surely there was nothing more I could find out about my mother. We were about to leave the room.

“Hey, you said Tyran seemed lonely, right?”

“That’s how it seemed,” Kyrie responded. “Well… perhaps he felt the same way as Nick in the story you told us just now?”

“Oh?” Gould Arde furrowed his brow. I couldn’t understand what Kyrie said, either.

“That if he wasn’t accepted by you, he would never become a part of your family.”

“My mother’s already dead.”

“Even so, you never gave up, right? You’ve continued to regret it, haven’t you?”

“…hmph.” I could see the distress in his bearded face.

“This is Tyran’s address. I’ll leave it with you.” Kyrie passed him a small, folded notebook, which she had apparently prepared. She must have expected this would happen. I was no match for her.

“Oh yeah, why the hell are you guys with those Turks? I’m not gonna say anything bad. Just put an end to it. They’re like ghosts from a past world.” Gould Arde said, but his mind was elsewhere … that’s how it felt.

We went back to the helicopter, parked tightly next to the water tower. Tseng opened the door and greeted us.

“To Icicle Inn.” Kyrie told them as soon as she boarded. Tseng looked at us in surprise. He seemed to be waiting for her to say more.

“Icicle Inn.” I repeated it as well.

“Elena, fly.” Tseng said, giving in.

“Evan, here.” Kyrie held out my mother’s letter, which she had got from Gould Arde.

I took it, and chucked it in my shoulder bag. “I’ll read it later.”

Suddenly feeling curious, I took out the group photo taken in Nibelheim, and stared at it. Kyrie peered at it next to me. Flipping it over, you could see the phone number of my house was written there. It wasn’t as if he had written the number unwillingly because he had been abandoned by his company. Nick Foley wanted to look for her with me. For Annette Townshend, the one we both loved.