The Maiden Who Travels the Planet [Revised]

Yes. No matter where she went.

She had reached the bottom of the lake. But even now Aerith continued to sink.

Her physical body was caught by a blanket of dust, like fine powdered snow, which had accumulated over immeasurable time, and was being engulfed deep into the bottom of the lake. It told of how she was now separated from her short twenty-two years of life for eternity. The vessel that had been separated from the soul was going to return slowly to the Great Earth in the pure water.

Aerith’s consciousness was moving to the next, lower level.

Nothing changed as she breathed lightly in the dust that floated around her. Aerith continued to sink through the heavy layer of precipitation. The only thing she could see was darkness… But it was a warm, tender lightless world where she didn’t feel lonely.

She soon realized that it wasn’t dust or mud that she was feeling. Her senses had adjusted so that she could feel the things around her. Her five senses were at a higher level that let her feel the true nature of the objects.

The world she could see now was not of darkness.

She was inside some faint green light that wrapped around her. At the same time, she recognised what she saw. Energy that was split into thousands no, millions of streams were flowing and circulating around every nook of the Planet. The flood of light that engulfed her was one of the streams that separated from the rest. The amount of Mako energy that the Planet had was far beyond human expectation and could not be presented by mere figures.

Aerith watched as if the Planet was beating with life. She watched the brilliance of the Lifestream that drifted around. She recognized the source of life of which everything returns to.

It was a place full of energy where countless souls were merged together along with their knowledge and experiences. Even their memories were unbound from them. But Aerith was “whole”. She remained herself in the place where the consciousness of the dead flowed and swirled about, keeping the character she had when she was alive. She retained the consciousness of the Aerith Gainsborough she once was and she was now drifting with the Lifestream.

She didn’t know that she would become this way.

As the last surviving Cetra, she had the role of maintaining the Great Earth’s richness during her life’s journey. Aerith talked to the Planet. She talked to the consciousness that was part of the Lifestream, that is. She was told that death was not the demise of life.

Most humans thought death meant that they would become nothing. Having their consciousness engulfed by darkness, never waking again, a nothingness that can’t be comprehended, they thought death meant to be totally annihilated. That’s why humans feared death. They were afraid of losing their existence. Even if they themselves realized that they were a race that had a short lifespan, there were many that wanted to avoid it. Even those that had reached an old age after a fulfilling life.

Aerith knew that death didn’t mean to be annihilated. She even knew about the world that a Cetra would reach in the end once they had fulfilled the mission they had on the Planet. That was why she accepted death fearlessly, even when she had a strong feeling it was going to happen to her some day soon. She fulfilled her mission as she meant to, without any fear. Her heart was at peace even though the humans, who had lost their power to speak with Planet long ago, said that she died an unnatural death. She had no regrets such as wishing she was still alive, or because she avoided her mission.

Even so, she was sad. Her heart was in pain.

All the companions that she had journeyed with, the people she grew close to for the first time, the mother that raised her and looked after her for fifteen years Elmyra, the people that she didn’t know too well, the people who she might have met in the future, people she hadn’t met yet… It was a fact that she could no longer be with the “living”.

Aerith also knew that the sadness was also with those who she left behind. They didn’t know that she still existed as her soul. They didn’t need to know. Even if she wished they did, the sadness wouldn’t be healed if they knew the truth. The thought of everyone’s sorrow made the pain in her even worse.

Aerith was in even greater pain when she thought about Cloud.

At first, she thought he somehow had some similarities to her first love. Even so, his looks, voice and personality weren’t similar, and he also made her think of him as a mysterious person… But it soon didn’t matter. She loved him much more than her first love. Cloud was her hero and he couldn’t keep away from danger. She saw him as someone full of confidence, cool and gave the impression that he would disappear in an instant if she took her eyes off him. She wanted to stay by his side forever if she could. She really wanted to.

When she left her companions and headed for the Forgotten City, Cloud’s heart was like an egg that was on the verge of cracking open. It wasn’t going to crack open like the way an egg hatched, but as if only the yolk was going to seep out. It was as if his mind was going to shatter. She wanted to comfort him. If she wasn’t the last survivor of the Cetra she probably would have done so without a doubt.


The man in black and silver, who was once a hero, had taken over the will of the “Calamity that fell from the sky”, Jenova, and was in a state of madness. He was going to summon the most powerful destructive magic, Meteor using the Black Materia. Having been passed the mission from her Cetra ancestors, she had no choice but to carry it out. Sooner or later Sephiroth was going to summon the giant meteor that would surely inflict an enormous amount of damage to the Planet. It would cause a wound that could destroy the very Planet itself. Without doubt, the Planet would then concentrate a huge amount of the Lifestream to heal itself. It was Sephiroth’s intention to make all that power his. After that, he would become one with the Planet and become something equal to a God. He would probably then burn all the humans he hates to death. The future of the Planet and the cycle of all life would all end as she knew it.

Aerith could sense from the whispers of the Planet that something could be done to prevent the worst from happening. She also knew that it was something that only she, the last remaining Cetra, could do. She could only obtain the indepth knowledge from the Forgotten City. But heading there also meant that she would become the greatest obstruction to Sephiroth’s plans.

That was where Aerith hesitated. Would she let all humans die or was she going to avoid such a disaster in exchange for her life… But she never did think about it, and was already prepared. When she did hesitate about leaving Cloud in sorrow, she would think about how it wouldn’t save her companions or the people of the world. She had already made up her mind. There was no other choice. It was all for Cloud too.

And so, alone, she set off for the altar that was in the Forgotten City to find out what she had to do. Indeed, the key was the last of the Cetra. It was the White Materia that was passed down by to her… As if it held the fate of the last remaining Cetra, this tool could summon the ultimate White Magic, Holy, needed to counter Meteor. It was the Materia that was entrusted to Aerith by her mother, Ifalna. She had never used it before and had always hidden it inside her ribbon, never leaving her. Finding out that she had it on her, she prayed with all her heart. Through the Materia, she talked to the Planet trying to summon the White Magic Holy that could destroy Meteor.

Even the slightest hesitance may have meant that her prayers wouldn’t reach the Planet. But she did it. The requirements were fulfilled before Sephiroth struck her, after realizing her intentions. She accepted the death that she had felt long ago as the sword pierced through her.

She looked at peace.

But a cry came through to her.

It wasn’t the sound of her cry. If it was then she would have felt the blood gushing up through her throat and the fury that forced its way out from the depths of her soul – It was the sound of Cloud’s heart breaking. It was the cry of his heart that could never be healed of the grief he had towards Aerith’s death, the blame towards himself and the hatred he had for Sephiroth.

She was surprised at the great sorrow he had for her. She was a little happy that he thought so much of her, but she also felt the pain that was many times greater. There was nothing she could do about Cloud’s suffering, and the pain ached in her heart.

The pain continued even though she was in the Lifestream.

Although she had lost her body, she recognized the pain by creating an image of herself in her mind. Aerith looked down as she put her hands to her throbbing heart… Before long, she realized something.

All around her was the existence of countless numbers of consciousnesses. There were lots of voices and an abundance of memories. Everything around her was something that she never felt when she was in the church in Midgar. Like her, the souls of those that had died had returned to the Planet and were all here.

Even so, she couldn’t see anyone nearby that had a form like she did. From what she saw, only she retained the image of her past self in the mist of the flowing energy full of different consciousnesses.

“I wonder… Is it because I’m a Cetra?”

The words came out as a murmur from Aerith. Here, words and thoughts were the same. As an entity of consciousness, her thoughts and feelings were only expressed as waves she emitted. Similarly, the huge number of memories in the Lifestream also reached her as all sorts of waves. All around her she heard whispers of how if you didn’t retain a strong ego, you would soon no longer know which consciousness belonged to you.

“I was hoping my words would reach Cloud…”

She puffed out her cheeks a little looking displeased. She was not affected by the confusion of the various consciousnesses that existed in the sea of memories and knowledge inside the Mako energy. Because of her experience of hearing the voice of the Planet when she was young, she had built up a lot of patience. Aerith was raised so that she could retain her own consciousness and not lose her personality.

But she understood returning to the Planet depended on how she was separated as a whole. Even when water droplets fall into a river, they blend in and can’t be seen anymore. No matter how used to things she was, she thought it was odd how her soul could still remain unique in the vast sea of conscious energy.

“If it’s because I’m a Cetra, then the Lifestream should be full of Cetra. My mother died and she was also a Cetra… But it’s been fifteen years. Maybe I’ll become one with the planet and slowly disappear?”

Slanting her head to the side, she thought more about it.

“Will I be able to talk to Cloud somewhere? So that I can tell him I’m fine… It’s kind of odd saying I’m fine, but maybe I’m ‘still me’ down here?”

Maybe she could be clear about her affections towards Cloud here. While living in Midgar, there were several times when she sensed souls that had died in faraway lands coming to Midgar to see their families or loved ones one more time— to tell them that they loved them. Those who still had those feelings, or had those feelings left behind them could strongly retain their consciousness as a whole.

“But does that mean I’ll disappear as soon as I meet Cloud? I wonder if that’s what’s happening or… Is there still something else I’ve still to do…?”

At that instant, Aerith felt something like an electric shock surge through her. She clenched one of her hands into a fist and hit the palm of her other hand, as it struck her. It was only her imagining her phantom self hitting her hands together, but she could clearly hear the “clap”.

“It makes sense. There’s a meaning to all this. There must be some reason why I haven’t merged with the Lifestream yet. Like, how I was the only one in the world who had the materia to call Holy… There might still be something left that I have to do.”

Just when the thought crossed her mind, she felt a little commotion from the Planet. It wasn’t from the individual consciousnesses but the Planet as a whole as if to confirm what she was thinking.

“…I see. I wonder what it is.”

Her question was answered with silence. The Planet too had yet to know what it was.

She smiled like the flowers that she used to sell in the slums. In the gentle fluorescent light, the smile that was loved by everyone bloomed sweetly.

“It’s OK. There are still people I have to help. I can’t rest yet. Until that time comes, I’ll wander around here for a while. I’ll spend my time here in the Planet… In our Promised Land…”

Wishing she could send away her thoughts, Aerith looked up at the sky… She looked beyond the shell of the Planet above her head. The particles of Mako that floated and shot around looked like the night sky to her.

She looked up into the sky like the time she sat beside Cloud around the kindling fire in Cosmo Canyon.

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