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In all things, there must be balance. Every light casts a shadow, and every night has its stars. For each death, there is a new birth. In all things, the Planet strives to balance itself.

So what happens when the scales are tipped; when the balance is upset?

Seventeen years ago

Hidden deep in the northern continent, beyond the Sleeping Forest, lay a city.

It was a beautiful city, larger than most and infinitely more beautiful. Homes were crafted from giant shells or built into the cliffsides. In places the very rock was shaped as though by the hands of gods, shining and perfect. It had been the center of a now-dead civilization, the Mecca of an extinct race. To some, it was the City of the Ancients. To others, simply the Forgotten City. Its true name, along with the secrets that ancient race hid there, was lost to time, as were the benevolent protectors that had once walked those seashell roads.

Most of the city's treasure was also lost to time, but one remained. The most precious treasure of all lay dormant in the city's very heart, the underground capital of this dead holy city. Here lay the most pure and sacred creation of the Ancients, born from the sacrifice of the wisest and greatest among them. Here lay the White Materia, summoned at the moment of the Planet's awakening to do battle with Meteor. 

This, the holy Materia, was dying. 

The faintest flicker of white light emanated from within the glass circle, the last message of a dying child to its mother. Only moments after, it shattered, with the weak, tiny cry of breaking crystal.

Nobody heard. 

Hidden deep in the northern continent, at the very middle of the land, lay a crater.

It was a vast, gaping thing, a bleeding wound on the face of the Planet. Over the years it had eroded, formed a vast network of caves. The subterranean creatures, now exposed to the open air and the living blood of the Planet, had developed and evolved in strange ways to adapt to the new surroundings. The crater was the source of the Planet's pain, open and raw, never quite healed, despite the Planet's best efforts to this end.

And somewhere, deep inside this living maze, was the bane of all things that lived. Born from the blood of unwilling spirits, this was the very evil that even now stung the Planet's wound. The Ancients had once changed it, with their considerable magic, into a temple. There its evil had been forever sealed, changed to benevolence, and guarded by restless Ancient spirits. But time and a desperate quest had returned it to its true form and true feelings. Here in the crater lay the Black Materia, summoned at the height of madness to destroy the Planet.

This, the unholy Materia, was vibrant with new life.

Nobody dared venture into the crater now, and the Materia lay forgotten. But it yet lived, and throbbed with ecstatic energy. It had sensed the death of its rival, and felt its own strength begin to flow unchecked. 

And in pieces all over the Planet, something began to awaken.

And the Planet sobbed in anticipation of what was to come.

One year later

The little town of Nibelheim was covered in several feet of snow. Winter had hit earlier this year, and heavier than ever before. But the snow did nothing to chill the spirits of the Nibel people. Lights were on in every household, and the cries of triumphant revelry echoed high into the mountains, seeming to cheer even those cold grey peaks. 

A dream had come true tonight.

These people had once been actors, smiling with false smiles and living out lives that had never been theirs. They had been put here by the Shinra, simply to create the illusion that the town had never burned. Their Nibelheim had been a false town, reconstructed from memories, wavering just at the edge of true reality.

Over time, the desire had grown among some of the false townsfolk to bring it back from the edge, to make it a true dwelling. Secure and peaceful, they had wanted to make Nibelheim more than the stuff of dreams.

The manifestation of this desire lay asleep in his mother's arms in the smallest house in town.

Lucy Drasil smiled up at her husband, her brown eyes rich with joy. He smiled back, his bearded face bursting with pride as he held his wife and son.

Young Seth Drasil slept peacefully, his head pillowed against Lucy's chest. Outside the people of Nibelheim reveled, but this moment, this precious snatch of time belonged only to Lucy, Rowan, and Seth.

"He's beautiful." 

Rowan's fingers, made rough from labor and yet infinitely gentle, stroked the baby's soft white hair, held the tiny hand. Lucy sighed in contentment, holding her son a little closer.

"He's real."

The meaning of the statement was not lost on Rowan. He leaned forward to kiss his wife softly, not letting go of Seth's hand.

Seth was the first child born to the new Nibelheim, the first and only true native, the only one who could say that he did belong. Born at the end of January, with hair as pale as the snow outside and eyes as green as new beginnings, he was the first. Snow child, true child, he was the embodiment of all the dreams of Nibelheim. He was a second chance granted, and he was the reason the town was cheering.

He knew nothing. In the perfect innocence of the newborn, he slept on, unaware that he had brought such joy simply by existing, and unaware of the troubles in his future, unaware of blood.

He was the son of the snow, and he was hope embodied. 

He was Seth Drasil.


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