Part 1: In the Tundra
Chatter, chatter. "Why is it so cold?"
"It's always cold here, Tate."
"I know, but why?"
Mocha Genjitsutouhi hummed a pop tune to herself as she and Tate trekked through a crystalline-dusted blizzard. Sekai had given them a request from Clockwork--the Kagarians were curious about the wonders of one of the most desolate lands in all of Mousouzen: the Crystal Zones.
The Crystal Zones were the ruins of what used to be an ancient city--if Mocha was correct, the first city to made by Asterisk before she started over and made Keikaku. However, due to a sudden climate change brought on a mysterious magical blast, the city froze, both literally and figuratively. Chlorine rivers and crystals of all sorts encased everything, and there was always a snowstorm going on. According to Mocha, there were a few small villages that managed to sustain themselves, but it was similar to living in Antarctica back in Reality.
Still, Tate didn't expect this freezing, powdery wasteland. "This is ridiculous, Mocha!"
"'Tis not!" Mocha snapped. "I myself have hardly gotten the chance to explore the barren nature that is the Crystal Zones! To see the raw snow...the wrecked towers...the glistening crystals...the foamy green rivers! Who would want to miss out on this grand opportunity?"
Tate thought about saying something blunt, but disillusioning Mocha was a dangerous thing. He said nothing.
The pair trekked through the thick snow, the chilling wind whipping through their hair. Mocha's expression was one of adventurous excitement, while Tate shuffled along behind her. Tate couldn't imagine what was so spectacular about such an empty place--the white tundra seemed to stretch on forever.
Once Tate was about to give up and collapse in the snow, Mocha cried, "And there it is!"
Tate peered into the storm and saw the outline of a city; a pretty big city at that. Mocha was already making her way though the snow towards the dark blur. "Come on, tate! I gotta see it for myself!"
Too late. Mocha was already well out of earshot. Tate groaned and followed her, stumbling through the waist-deep snow.
As he got closer to the city, he began to realize how huge it actually was. Skyscrapers towered high into the clouds, even the ones that were lopsided and hardly standing. He walked cautiously through the main street, gazing in awe at the ruined buildings and the tall, hard, glistening quartz that wrapped around the pieces left. Shards of crystal littered the snowy lane.
It was mysterious, alluring, yet somehow frightening in it's beauty. It looks like Keikaku, Tate thought. If Keikaku had gone through the apocalypse. That alone was a frightening thought.
Tate looked up and saw Mocha waving at the end of the street. She trudged over to him, nearly hopping through the heavy snowpack. She was grinning from ear to ear. "Isn't it wonderful?" she crooned. "The mystery! The phantasm! The beauty! And no one here to view it but us!"
Tate almost made a sarcastic comment about how it was highly unlikely anybody would be stupid enough to go see "beauty" in an approaching whiteout, but said nothing.
"We have to go in deeper!" Mocha said determinedly. "For the good of Murikuni!"
"Come, my humble Realist!" Mocha announced proudly, gesturing for him to follow. "Let us go and discover more secrets behind this empty land!"
Tate rolled his eyes and followed Mocha into the deeper part of the city, where they found some buildings that were (luckily) still intact. Tate noted the crystals seemed to be the only things keeping them upright.
"Mocha," Tate said blankly, "Tell me we're not going to go in there."
"I didn't say that," said Mocha, "But yes, we are."
"Are you insane?!" Tate cried. "We could get hurt in there!"
Mocha gave him a wide-eyed stare and clicked her tongue. "You Realists, I swear. Quit getting so worked up, Conner. It's bad for your health." Tate really didn't like the disturbingly Fitzwilliam-like tone of voice she took on. Even worse since she called him by his last name. "Look, I've been into waaay more dangerous places than this. We'll be fine! Besides, I have contact with Sekai, Clockwork, Aoi and Vermillion, so if we ever got in a pinch someone would be over here to help in a heartbeat. Just keep it in mind for once, OK, Tate?" Mocha put her hands on her hips, eyes half-lidded with slight annoyance.
Tate decided to give up trying to get Mocha to understand practicality and followed her into the ruined building.
Mocha continued humming pleasantly to herself as she scanned the first room. The room was a wreck; gray light from outside illuminated the crumbling, peeling walls, broken fixtures, and eroded ceiling. Pieces of concrete beams and old wires littered the dust-caked tile floor. Tate found it to be a little depressing.
Mocha, on the other hand... "Cool!" she exclaimed, eyes sparkling with awe. "It's just as I thought! I love it, I love it!"
She really is delusional, Tate thought curtly.
Mocha grinned. "Let's keep on. I'll go into that hall over there, and you go in that one."
"Just trust me. Yell if you're dying. Catch ya later!" Mocha skipped over the debris and into the mentioned hall before Tate could even open his mouth in protest.
He sighed and scanned the room once more. In all honesty, he didn't relish the idea of standing in the whiteout, so he found a staircase and started walking.
It was a miracle that the stairs were more-or-less intact. Tate cautiously walked through the halls, glancing about nervously. Tate honestly could not fathom what appeal this place had--it was as dead as bones.
Then, out of the blue, he heard a sound.
It was a faint, tiny gasp.
"Mocha...?" Tate asked, wary.
Tate looked around, heading turning wildly. Ghosts? He could see how. But where?
Tate gathered his wits and ran into the next hall, where he found a few more rooms.
Yes, the sobbing was definitely coming from here.
Tate trembled as he looked into the empty rooms, but they were collapsed in. There was only one room that still even had a door.
Tate leaned in against it. The sobbing was its loudest.
Ever so carefully, Tate opened the door. He gasped.
There was a girl in there.
A girl with a sea foam and white dress, white skin, and pale, messy brown hair.
Tate stared at her, dread filling his chest. "Oh, God."