As expected, Shinra got to the Temple of the Ancients before Cloud and the rest of the group. Unfortunately for them, Sephiroth also managed to get there. The Shinra group was attacked and destroyed, for the most part. Tseng of the Turks was lying wounded at the entrance. He knows they failed, so he gave the keystone to Cloud.
The temple was a maze, the layout of which was difficulty to even comprehend, let alone navigate. It wasn’t empty, though. Aside from the usual menagerie of monsters, several guardians lived there, left by the Cetra to protect the temple from intrusion. They weren’t able to communicate verbally, but Aeris could still understand them. They were scared, very much so. Sephiroth needed to be found and dealt with, fast.
The black materia is extremely powerful. It can be used to summon Meteor, the most powerful destruction magic imaginable. Luckily, the Cetra used a trick. The temple itself is the materia. Whoever wants it, needs to solve a puzzle which shrinks the temple to a manageable size. However, the puzzle is located within the temple, so whoever solves it gets destroyed. At first, some of the people in the group suggested to just leave the materia, since no one can get it. However, Cloud saw it differently. Sephiroth has plenty of lackeys – all those tattooed people in black who have been following him. He could easily sacrifice any or all of them to get what he wants. No, the party needs to somehow get the materia and keep it safe from Sephiroth. Someone had to step in.Pretty soon, the group found their way to a room with a huge mural along the wall. This is where they met Sephiroth and this is where he revealed another part of his plan. He wants to become one with the planet. He intends by trickery. The lifestream serves to protect the planet and everything on it. If the planet ever gets damaged or “wounded”, a large portion of the energy is used and focused on that place to heal it. Sephiroth intends to intercept that energy and absorb it. First, he needs a fresh wound and for that, he needs the black materia from the temple.
Cloud got a call on his PHS. It was Cait Sith. It’s simple, really. His body isn’t real. He has backup bodies stored at Shinra. Who else would be more suitable as a sacrifice? Cloud accepted and the trio went out to meet up with the fortune teller. However, there was a trap. The door leading through the exit was guarded by a demonic creature in the form of an entire wall.
This was the first battle in this play through in which I failed, twice. The first issue was, Aeris was underleveled and the Demon Wall hits extremely hard. It could kill Aeris in one hit and any of the other two in one more. Cloud basically had to devote his every turn to heal, while Barret was the only one doing the damage, what with Aeris being dead throughout the battle.
Secondly, there’s this gimmick in the game where, if you get exactly 7777 current HP, your character goes berserk and starts repeatedly hitting the enemies for 7777 damage until they are all dead. Apparently, this works the other way around to. On my first attempt, a hit from Cloud’s limit break got the boss to that exact amount of health and suddenly, all of his attacks were hitting for 3 times the health Barret had. Suffice to say, that attempt didn’t last long.
On my final attempt, I finally got smart. I’ve combined Barrier with All on Aeris and cast it on my entire group at the start of the battle. With that, the fight became extremely easy and the boss was dealt with.
When the enemy was defeated, Cait Sith entered and the rest of the party left the temple. He solved the puzzle and then he was gone. He wasn’t absent for long, though, as his replacement body was already being flown over from Shinra headquarters. In Cloud’s eyes, this redeemed the robot and whoever was controlling him, at least by a bit.
The materia was at the crater left by the temple. Cloud and Aeris leapt in and Cloud picked it up. Suddenly, he lost control of himself. First, he tried to hurt Aeris, but managed to stop himself in time. Then Sephiroth appeared and Cloud gave him the materia, against his own will and with the rest of the group unable to stop it. Before they could react, Sephiroth was gone with the materia. Cloud blacked out.