The group followed Sephiroth further north, thirsting for revenge. The road led them through a cave with the exit on the northern side of the central mountain rage. Further north, they arrived at the town of Icicle Inn. Sephiroth passed through, only to move on to the crater further north, so the party had to do the same. The road is impassable by foot, though, so they had to find another way.
Investigation discovered an empty house which used to be inhabited by a professor Gast and a woman named Ifalna. Watching some of the video records revealed that Ifalna was the real mother of Aeris, naturally also a Cetra. Gast was recording any information she could provide, so Cloud and the group learned much from the records.
Apparently, there was something that fell from the sky 2000 years ago. The fall severely wounded the planet so it tried to heal itself. The Cetra also tried to help, but it wasn’t working. Even worse, the object that fell brought something living with it. At first, the creature acted friendly and infiltrated a local Cetra tribe. Eventually, though, it destroyed the tribe from the inside like a virus.
Over time, it managed to infiltrate and destroy most of the other Cetra clans and nearly destroyed the entire race. In the end, the planet managed to contain it, but the surviving Cetra weren’t enough for them to remain the dominant species, so they were slowly replaced by modern humans. The contained creature, or virus, or a collection of cells or whatever it was never destroyed, though. It was just contained at the place of impact, with the planet watching. Several decades ago, the creature was found and retrieved by Gast and Hojo, who mistakenly thought it was a Cetra and named it Jenova.
Further investigation of Icicle Inn found a possible route through the crater via a glacier. Some sort of transportation was needed to descend via that route, however. Before the party could act, Shinra arrived at the town, led by Elena, and blocked all the exits. Luckily, Cloud managed to get a snowboard from a kid nearby, as well as a map of the glacier, so they were able to descend that way.
The area of the glacier was a maze of snow, very difficult to navigate, but not impossible. Eventually, the party reached a cabin at the base of the crater cliff. A man was living there for the past 20 years. He and his late friend attempted to ascend the cliff at one point but failed. He gave the group advice on how to survive and sent them on their way.
The climb was exhausting and difficult, both physically as well as mentally. At one point, the group actually had to induce a cave in in order to create a path to move on. At the top of the cliff, a two-headed dragon attacked the group to top it off. Thanks to some equipment they managed to find along the way, however, the dragon was defeated, though it was an extremely close call, with only Tifa staying conscious at the end.
In any case, the group was at the top of the crater and it was time to move in. They navigated the windy mazes towards the center and finally reached the center, only to be attacked by another form of Jenova. Jenova Death was much easier than Jenova life, fortunately, so the battle didn’t take too much of their strength.
All along the way, the path was riddled with bodies of the tattooed people cloaked in black. Sephiroth was killing them one by one on his way to the center, and yet, they continued to follow. Finally, then the party was just about to reach Sephiroth, everything turned black and they were in Nibelheim.
For some reason, Sephiroth wanted cloud to revisit these memories. Something was wrong, however. The soldier visiting the town that day with Sephiroth looked sort of like Cloud, but his face was different and his hair was dark. Why would Sephiroth try to confuse Cloud this way? If there was one thing Cloud was sure of, it was those events from five years ago.
Finally, Sephiroth spoke. The soldier there was someone else. Cloud was born in Nibelheim that day, created by Hojo, his memories assembled from various other people. There might have been a boy named Cloud growing up with Tifa in that town, but it wasn’t the person here today. The person believing to be Cloud was just a failed creation, nothing else.
But why does Tifa remember him then? Because he was infused with Jenova cells. When he met Tifa in Midgard, the cells accessed some of her memories and then formed a mutual bond, so they both believed the same thing. It wasn’t perfect, though, so parts of it were missing on both sides. This is why Tifa had some trouble with the story Cloud told in Kalm. Parts of it just seemed off. This is also why Cloud doesn’t remember how or why he joined SOLDIER. It never happened.
This was the final drop. Cloud completely lost his mind and then disappeared, along with Sephiroth. Meanwhile, a Shinra chopper landed at the crater, with Rufus, Scarlet, Hojo and Heidegger on board. At the center of the crater was a large crystal encased in twisted roots and surrounded by materia. Inside the crystal was Sephirot’s body.
He was controlling all of them, including Cloud. All of this time, the group thought they were chasing Sephiroth, but in reality, he was summoning them there.
Suddenly, Cloud appeared in the middle of the group. He took the black materia he gave to Red XIII previously and then was gone again, with Tifa and Barret remaining there. In the very next moment, he was next to Sephiroth’s body, and in the moment after that, Sephiroth, the real Sephiroth, finally had the materia he wanted.
Beneath the crater, the earth started cracking and a creature started to emerge. It was a Weapon; something Ifalna spoke of in one of the records. Weapons are extremely powerful creatures which the planet creates for protection. Once created, they can never be unmade. They just go to sleep until the planet needs them again.
Before the creature destroyed all of them, Rufus called for his helicopter and everyone evacuated, just in time. Cloud, however, was gone.