The Editing of Northern Lights – Ranting to Horror and the Completion of Chapter 5

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: Discussions of rape in terms of the original story (FFVII) and Classical Mythology.

<–Good Gothic Poetry, Chapter 5 Successes, and Ominous Latin Chanting     Esoteric Etchings to Accompany Chapter 5’s Final Front–>

9/27/14
Good morrow dear readers.  How is it going with thee?  You need to prepare yourselves because…

I absolutely abhor the phrase “overrated.”  Let me rephrase that.  I abhor the phrase “overrated” when it is not duly qualified. A work is not overrated if you are unable to see the meaning below the surface and therefore dismiss it due to lack of understanding. You are just ignorant to its point. This doesn’t make a work overrated; it just means you missed what it was trying to impart. If you wish to decry something as overrated, have better reasons beyond surface ones. For example, while I would never say Twilight is overrated (even its fans and defenders see its writing/editing flaws), I am derisive of its popularity, because of the alleged norm it champions, that being the one of abusive/controlling relationships. These books are being read by preteens and teenagers whom, while more than likely not aware of the intricacies of the subtext, are still absorbing it into their evolving social mores. You do not need to understand a subtext to be affected by it, an oft stated fact, just as you don’t need to be aware of the existence of oxygen to be breathing it in. Therefore my derision of Twilight is based on what it leeches into society.  The video below by Laci Green explains what I’ve touched upon.

The point of my rant is have more depth when you strive to make an argument against something’s value, and don’t dismiss those of us who have garnered meaning from beneath as “overly analytical” as a counterpoint, since it just reinforces the narrowness of your opinion. When you say something is overrated and give shallow reasons why, thereby missing the deeper points of the narrative, you are saying something is overrated because of shit you don’t understand. *end rant*

I apologize guys.  Nothing recent really triggered that, but I’ve heard the term thrown around so fucking much with respect to FFVII, Frozen, The Fault in Our Stars, ASOIAF, and other things I not only love, but see the inherent value in.  It’s irritating to say the least and disheartening, as well.

I needed that.  This right here…she’s playing, he’s speaking, and I’m just sitting here with chills running down my spine.  “Let now be our advent.”

Speaking of advent, my dear friend Andrew may be the catalyst for my possession of the Black Materia or rather the necklace replica.  We all know what I’d do if I had the real Black Materia…

The Narcissist of the Future still doesn’t have an acceptable Black Materia necklace.  Those things are REALLY hard to find at least up to my specifications.  I did end up buying one, which I talk about later, but it wasn’t quite bit enough (which yes it totally is what she said).

Black Orb NecklaceI have this pinned to my Sephiroth Cosplay Pinterest board, but alas the link is no good, and even the almighty Google has failed me in this quest.  I have searched numerous times for “black materia necklace” to no avail.  I thought I had a lead in a few months ago, but alas that, too, took me nowhere.  So I’m trying not to get my hope up, because that only leads to disappointment, but it would be nice to have something pan out in this instance.  I needs it, precious, I needs it…

So my notes are a little mixed up/out of order.  Since this is all being retroactively produced and I’m constantly thinking about quotes and pics, things that I wrote prior may not have relevance now.  My notes are saying I maybe “potentially have a quote from Rammstein,” but I’m pretty sure I already established that I used that line from “Engel.”  Why do you guys need to know this?  It’s an editing blog!  It’s all about the minutiae.

“Aeris grinned up as she opened the door, and Sephiroth ducked to follow her inside.”  Hm, would Seph do the gentlemanly thing and open the door for her?  Somehow I think he would.  Is this super sexist though?  Like, oh god, what’s it called?  The seemingly innocuous sexism that purports to benefit women on the surface, but is really a symptom of the greater societal belief that women need to be benefited in that way e.g. opening doors, paying for meals, etc. when in reality it’s either just a preconceived notion or, well in the case of paying for meals, it could be because the scale is skewed towards men i.e. women earning on average $0.77 for every dollar a man makes.  I think it might be benevolent sexism (it is.  The Future Narcissist found it).

Anyway…on one hand, Aeris knows where the Followers are so Seph would let her take the lead.  He also has no doubt of her capabilities, and he would never try to be patronizing.  Even him calling her “child” is more of a slight on himself against speaking her name, which is a juxtaposition of how Midgar treats his.  To Sephiroth Aeris’s name is more than holy, and he “shouldn’t” be allowed to say it.  Compare this to his name being a curse where people are killed at its mere utterance.  The former general also has a great deal of respect for the flower girl.  She defeated him despite his physical advantages. In a battle of wills/metaphysical power, Aeris will always come out on top.  Seph knows that strength comes in many forms, but on the other hand, he “owes” her and will do anything for her (even at this early point).  I don’t know…lol, I’m going through this much dilemma over who opens a freaking door.  I’m keeping it as her opening it for now, but anything can change in reedit.  I was half tempted on putting it down as a question for my beta readers, but it seems far too inane for that.  I should though…I mean what are my beta readers for?  Can I talk about my paranoia?  Nah…I’ll talk about it some other time.

I initially had Sephiroth “glad for his eyes’ gleaming,” but he’s not capable of that, at least not consciously.  He hates what he is.  While he appreciates what his enhancements do in terms of better senses/awareness, he’s not happy about it.

Hm, the shop is reminding me of a scene in my original novel with the macabre interior as a veneer for something darker.

I don’t want to give too much away with this.  Only hints and whispers.  So mentioning scratching might be too much, but it is another basement, and scratching could just be something associated with underground in Midgar.  That wouldn’t be too terrible of a connection since all roads lead back to Midgar in this tale, and seeing as Midgar is the “kingdom beneath the foundation,” then there you go with the meta-reference.

Ah describing the initial perception of Phaedra whose name means “bright.”

So more “light,” (“light bearer,” “light bringer), and something else I didn’t realize until after the fact.

So the Future Narcissist discovered some quite messed up things involved in the meaning of Phaedra’s name.  I don’t recall if I’ve discussed it before, but I certainly do later recount how I made unknowingly appropriate references, and “Phaedra” is definitely one of them.  There is something called a Phaedra complex that is primarily the desire of a step-mother for her step-son, though it’s apparently been extended to cover difficult relationships between step-parents and step-children in general.  So…I picked a name that I liked for its mythological association and it turned out to have a fucked up mother connotation.  I also recently saw the name mentioned in an article I read about false rape accusations as Phaedra apparently did so with Hippolytus, son of Theseus and her step-son due to their marriage.  She killed herself in remorse after his subsequent death.  I mean we could just call this a coincidence because I picked a name from Greek mythology and those names do tend to have disturbing connotations, and it’s easy to fall into that kind of “magical thinking” that things happen for a reason, but it’s hard not to, n’est-ce pas?  We want so much for there to be a pattern and if we think of another reference, the original Lucretia did kill herself as well.  That seems to be a sad motif for women of this time.  In game Lucrecia attempted to do so, but was unsuccessful due to the tainted cells she bears.

I picked the name Phaedra because, well, I like the way it sounds, it’s an older name associated with mythology, which Final Fantasy does all the time but with (assumed and arguable) meaning behind it.  Her look is akin to a porcelain doll and now I’m looking up how to do doll lips on YouTube.  This was really the only one I could find.

I really considered finding a picture of a goth girl who looked like the shopkeeper and using that as the chapter pic.  The tips of her hair are described as “winter white,” since she’s trying to match Sephiroth’s silver.  I couldn’t really find any picture with the correct hair color, but these are sort of the images I was tossing around my head when I thought of the shop girl.

Porcelain doll skin
Porcelain doll skin
The red eyes though...
The red eyes though…
The face shapes are similar on all
The face shapes are similar on all
More silver streaks than silver tips.
More silver streaks than silver tips.

“After some moments she held her hand out, fingertip lifted high.  ‘I doubt even this would be in your price range.  Run along home, slum girl.'”  She’s essentially giving Aeris the finger, and Sephiroth is…pissed.  This is the second time Aeris has been insulted (the first was in Chapter 1.  Uh yeah, that’s an insult) in so many days (he only rescued her yesterday?  Geez…), and the second time he’s been angry in the story: both times for Aeris’s sake.  He pulls out his “general’s” voice, the authority, the command, the absolute conviction that everything he says will be instantly obeyed.  It works on everyone…except for Aeris.

“The shopkeeper gasped jerking up glossy eyes under heavily painted lids.”  She’s just noticing him and even with his glamour, she’s stunned.  Now this might be an act.  She may already know him.  I’m not sure what I’m trying or implying here. Yeah…Phae’s eye color really doesn’t matter at this point…

“He clasped his hands behind his back and looked down his nose with disdain.  It was the first time Aeris had seen such an expression on his ever passive face.”  Aeris is seeing a flash of the past in Sephiroth’s disdain for this girl.  The Cetra is both frightened and fascinated to witness this facet of the Great General revealed.

“Great Mako eyes cut her as sharp as the slivers at their heart.”  Any description of his eyes is chilling, very uncanny valley in their way.  I’ve already gone through the whole creep factor associated with cat eyes in a non-cat face (and let’s face it cat eyes in a cat face are still terrifying/eerie).

Don't blink.
Don’t blink.

But it’s not just him…cat eyes in any human face, ah!

Human with Cat Eyes
It’s just wrong D:

I can’t even look at it.  It freaks me out so much.  It’s uncanny valley because everything else is human, but the eyes throw it off.  They make it alien, eerie, and…not right.  It leaves a cold feeling in the pit of your stomach, and almost makes you feel like there’s ice breathing down your neck, like something is stalking you *shivers*  I suppose though…if you see something all the time you grow used to it.  If I saw eyes such as that on a human face every day, I suppose I’d habituate as Aeris does to Sephiroth.  I’d like to think that.  I’m very glad it’s dark out and my cats don’t have their slit pupils…

“Gone was the sorrow, the guilt and remorse.  Gone was the endless despair.  No not gone, Aeris thought, buried in arrogance.  He could hide it.  He could hide it all.”  Aeris realizes he could hide all his grief, but he just doesn’t bother to with her.

“With the last word he cast the shroud aside and the shopkeeper collapsed to the floor.”  After Phaedra faints, his mask drops as well.  He didn’t want to scare her to death.

I really should use the word “regret” more.  It’s severely underappreciated.

I definitely have to be careful here.  I don’t want to give to too much away.

“’H-How is this possible?  How are you here?  Did I-‘  Her nostrils flared at each breath that passed.”  What was Phaedra going to ask?  I’m not really sure.  I wrote this knowing she was the (pawn of the) big bad, but I wasn’t sure what that would entail.  Alright…let’s break it down.  Biggest spoiler EVER of course.  If you’re reading this you should’ve read Northern Lights.  You have been warned.

This is your final warning.

 

 

Per the final climax, Jenova is already in her head, whispering in her ear.  Phae has moments of partial lucidity though for it hasn’t taken over her completely yet (?).  She wants what it wants though (similar to Sephiroth’s prior plight).  So Jen/Phae wants to get Seph to that place under the tower where the in between is accessible.  The idea is for Jen to take him over again, discarding Phae like a worn out husk, having him kill Aeris again (since she’s the only person who can stop it), and continue its plan to “turn the world without.”  Since we realize by this point that the in between is the remnants of where it came from, accessible by the cells/blood.  The “Did I…” that Phaedra stalled on could be the actual shop girl’s wonder if she actually called Sephiroth to her presence.  This would be Phae speaking on her own in shock that she managed to “summon” him and (hopefully) you dear readers will see this as a silly fangirl fantasy to call the object of your obsession to your side.  Phaedra seemingly wants to get him below for purely fangirl reasons.

“’Evil never dies…’  He lowered his head in sorrow, and Aeris gave him a glare to shame the hidden sword.  ‘I’m living proof of that.’”  Oh Seph, you have no idea…

“’Imminent darkness…’ the shopkeeper whispered.  ‘Imminent darkness will come.’”  Ahh she said the title!

Narcissist from the future again.  Yeah…I had a video clip of Family Guy where the actual title of the show is said, and Peter gets all excited, but it’s been removed in the year between when I wrote this and now, so you just have me telling you that I used the clip.  So sad.

And she agrees with his statement because she knows.  Then she pulls away from Aeris because the Cetra is the antithesis of “imminent darkness.”

Black and silver door…Aeris already has an aversion to going down those stairs, another sign that something is awry.  She had no issue sleeping in the basement of her house with the scratching she couldn’t hear.

“’Don’t fear, little one,’ Sephiroth assured, ‘I’m right here close behind.’  He balked the minute those words left his lips, but she reached back for his hand.”  Horrible words for him, but comforting for her.

Everything about this place is ominous for example the carpet being a “black sky without stars.”

“He jumped off the side and strode to the picture face to face with the distant past.  No madness was there just arrogance and belief that he was the best of them all.  A sigh escaped to summon regret, and silver shivered to shaken hair.”  Hm, knowledge or belief?  I’m thinking belief is more apt.

“’It doesn’t do you justice.’”  He turned to stare at the shop girl over a pauldron.  In the descent though, she’d cast off that role and her face held the pride his had lost.”  Phae is now more her “true” self, which really means nothing at all.

“The girl in black attempted one word, and his hiss raised their hair like a scream.”  “The girl in black,” another parallel to him.

Phaedra Levanah…I would give serious props to anyone who can figure out why I picked such a surname.  I’ll give you a hint; it can be found in the place where the sephiroth lie.

Would he call Phaedra “child,” too?  He’s a lot older than her…technically Aeris could call the girl that, as well.

Phae starts speaking in prophecy, mentioning imminent darkness again.  This becomes a sort of the rallying cry.  When I initially thought of that phrase, it was going to be the title of the leader of the Followers of Seph, but when I got to this part, it just seemed to make more sense that Sephiroth would be called that (…I guess it still makes sense for the “leader” since they’re Followers of Seph).  Imminent darkness, black winged death…  There was also going to be another Follower with Phaedra at the shop named Faison (pronounced FAY-zahn), but it sounds far too close to Phaedra, and I also realized she would just be an extraneous character that I’d have to keep track of.  I still like the name though and will probably use it in another story.

“‘I seek my mother’s lonely grave to acknowledge that once she was mine.’ Aeris held her silence hard as the grip between her small clasped hands.  The girl in black attempted one word, and his hiss raised their hair like a scream.
‘Je-‘
‘Don’t you even speak that name.’”   He stops her before she can ever say it.  Jenova’s name is never once mentioned in the entire narrative (neither is his father’s), because Sephiroth utterly rejects it now.

Even before he knew of Lucrecia’s existence, he still would’ve rejected the abomination though it’s part of him, therefore he’s rejecting himself.  “Noli nomen vocare…”  Do not speak that that name…which is ironic in the song (One Winged Angel if you didn’t know, and if you didn’t know and you’re familiar with FFVII, guys…) since it is punctuated by the chorus consistently chanting his name amongst the Latin invocation.

Yeah…I’m pretty much obsessed with them both for the same reasons.

By the way Google Translate is weird…if you put in “noli nomen vocare” it gives you “the second.”  Um, what?  Google Translate, are you drunk?  If you put in “Poena funesta natus” it gives you “Second advent” which is…accurate for the overarching theme of the movie, but according to the website with the translation it means “Was born for deadly punishment,” which is more than a little sad.  Of course it could also mean “was born to mete out deadly punishment,” but then it would say that though, wouldn’t it?  “Qui mortem invitavis” (He who invites death) is “Disastrous birth” on the GT, which, again, is not far-fetched in the narrative of Advent.  “Qui invitati fuerant ad mortem?”  Clearly Sephiroth did.  That’s…probably not the correct Latin for “Who invited death?” so please don’t lambaste me too hard Latin peeps.  It’s on my bucket list to learn it one day.

Narcissist of the future here again.  Huh…I actually kind of like that for a name.  Narcissist of the Future.  It has a nice ring to it…like Saturn.

Don’t…kill…me.

Google Translate no long has the above “issue.”  I just checked it and the translations aligned with the website, but it was very odd at the time.

“’Imminent darkness…black winged death.  Angels can’t change their fate.’”  Angels are fated beings by design.  The “black winged death” description was inspired by the 7th Harry Potter book or more appropriately the movie of the same.  When Hermione reads The Tale of the Three Brothers, it is something else that sends shivers down my spine.  The animation style is exquisite for so dark of a story, and Emma Watson’s somber reading of the tale is perfect.

At the end when Death spreads his wings to take away the third brother as his equal, all I could think was “black winged death,” and Sephiroth does fit that description.  In the original story he could be seen as a sort of angel of death who went rogue, and instead of bringing death to the chosen, he tried to bring death to all…

Aeris and Sephiroth’s dynamic, especially in fanfictions such as this, is the death and the maiden motif similar to Persephone and Hades, the maiden who can tame death, and therein lies the appeal of the pairing of Aeriseph.  Aeris is the ingenue who can tame death as Persephone potentially did.  She was picking flowers when abducted.  Aeris is not a flower girl for no reason, and in the below picture Persephone is laying in a bed of blooms…

Similarities much?
Similarities much? He even has silver hair!

The Hades and Persephone paradigm carries heavy connotations of rape in terms of him abducting her, taking her against her will…though the former (in game) is not immune to such perversion either.  Aeris is killed in metaphorical rape, impaled on an extremely long sword from behind while praying.  When one plucks a rose…

Aeris's Death
“hic veni da mihi mortem iterum…”

Shadows and pale; colors and light.

“Beneath the northern lights you’ll find her.’”  This is why this chapter is so important.  Now he “knows” where his true mother is, and this is the first time we hear the title.  Note: Phaedra never says that Lucrecia is dead.  Initially, I had the additional line of “bound to this world by her grief,” but why spoil the fun?  I think it’s far better to have him think his mother is dead and he’s looking for a grave, and then in the end find something far different.  It hearkens to the original story insofar as he’s never told the truth 😦

“’That is where my mother’s interred?’
’That is where you’ll find her.’”  Again Phaedra avoids a direct answer.

“‘North…’ he whispered, as Aeris took his other hand with tears in her eyes trembling up.  ‘The same direction I’ve always gone once to madness and twice to grief.’'”  Oh it’s grim up north in FFVII.  Grim and bleak and cold.

“Phaedra nodded and held his gaze as though they two shared a secret, but Sephiroth looked away uncaring what other darkness she had to impart.”  If only he’d sought out that other darkness, but would that be good or bad?

“He glanced down and realized how he and Aeris were standing, clasping hand to hand with brief space.”  Aw…

“’The kingdom lies beneath the foundation,’” was her reply “and the foundation is rotting above.’”  THIS line.  This line.  I can’t even stress how important this line is.  It’s the meta crux of the story, and the meta crux of FFVII itself.  There’s more beneath the seeming, more than what’s being said, more than what’s known, much, much more, and it’s terrifying.  This is the source that Lovecraft was drawing from in his lays of cosmic horror.  There are things far darker and far madder than the human mind can conceive.  “But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”  If the kingdom lies beneath the foundation and that’s rotting, what then does the kingdom contain?

“’Forget me. Forget her.  Play with your shadows, but hide from the night.’”  This is the first time he says this “Forget me,” but not the last.  I did a lot of playing around with some of the phrases said in the original game and Advent (as you might have caught).  Now does his compulsion work on her or is Jen making it looks like it does?  I don’t know the answer to these questions.  I can only speculate, too.

That’s it for the first edit of Chapter 5.  This has been a creepy blogging night.  I touched on many things that make me want to look over my shoulder and sleep with the lights on.  The cat eyes, the uncanny valley, death, the kingdom and the foundation.  They say you should write what scares you, and I do want to make an eventual full foray into the horror genre.  I’d consider this to be horror light since FFVII could be considered dark fantasy (the elements are there, don’t try to deny it), and dark fantasy has horror concepts without being full blown.  I mentioned before that it would be a great candidate to be such a story; it really wouldn’t take much…

Farewell gentle readers.  May your leisures be long and your labors be short.

<–Good Gothic Poetry, Chapter 5 Successes, and Ominous Latin Chanting     Esoteric Etchings to Accompany Chapter 5’s Final Front–>

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