Cloud woke up in Gongaga a week after the events at the temple, with Barret and Tifa at his side and Aeris gone in search of the Promised Land. She was hopping she might get there before Sephiroth and stop him. Sephiroth mentioned he was going northwest, to the northern continent, so that’s where the group needed to go to.
They boarded the Tiny Bronco and soon landed on the shore near Bone Village. The only way to get further north was through the Sleeping Forest, and for that, they needed the Lunar Harp, buried somewhere in the village. Luckily, the villagers were more than helpful with finding it, so the group was on their way through the forest in no time.
Past the forest was a canyon full of petrified trees and a ruined city in the middle of it. The city was obviously built by the Cetra and the architecture was amazing, but there was no one to be found. Exhausted from the search, the party decided to take a break in one of the houses.
He lost control and reached for his sword. Every part of his body was fighting it, but his limbs seemed to have a will of their own. He pulled out his sword and raised it above his head. It took all the strength he had left, but somehow, he managed to fight it off and take a step back. Aeris raised her head and smiled. Suddenly, Sephiroth dropped from above, with his Masamune trusting forward.Cloud woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible feeling. He was sure Aeris was somewhere near and he sensed Sephiroth as well. The group continued to search the city and soon found a hidden passage leading under a lake. Aeris was at the bottom, praying. Cloud decided to approach her alone. He leapt from pillar to pillar without her noticing his approach. When he finally reached her platform, it happened again.
This probably sounds clichè, but I really was extremely sad when this happened on my first playthrough. The death of Aeris was an extremely well made and an extremely sad scene. Back then, I actually barely managed to get through the Jenova fight afterwards. The fact that the fight starts with a powerful attack by Jenova further increases the despair and makes you feel even worse. I remember saving my game there and then just not playing for a couple of days. It was the first game I played where a character was lost and the first game I played where I cared enough about the character to be sad about it. To this day, when I hear the song, I get sad.
The smile was gone and in a split second, it was over. Aeris was gone. Cloud was in agony. He never really showed how much he cares about her and it was to late now. Sephiroth was completely indifferent. In fact, he was surprised with Cloud’s reaction. In his own words, “Why does Cloud pretend to care? He’s a puppet, he can’t have real feelings.”
He was gone and left the group in despair, with Jenova Life attacking them. Somehow, they fought through the agony and managed to defeat the monster. They said their goodbyes and Cloud let Aeris rest in one of the beautiful lakes in the abandoned town. It was a peaceful resting place.
Sephiroth will pay.