He saw it from the window. Snow, gathering and swirling to form a tunnel. His roommate Light Ryebell stared at it with the same sort of mix of fear and wonderment as himself.
"It scares me." Light whispered. There was no pretence of macho fearlessness.
"I'm gonna see it." He whispered back.
"Don't be ridiculous."
"I have to. I don't know why but I have to."
"Shut up. I'm going. Now." He didn't move.
"Temperance Mercy if you walk out of that door I am not letting you back in when the blizzard hits."
"Yeah. You are."
"Yeah. I am."
"Wish me luck."
"Not a chance." Temperance snatched his coat and fumbled with his boots before sweeping out into the increasingly dangerous weather.
The tunnel began to glow a white, hot light. Brandishing a sword and dressed in what appeared to be a cloak, a person emerged, falling onto the snowdrift. The person turned to face the sky and concealed the sword from view. The person lay there in stillness for a few moments and he was about to call out to them but then they made a sound. It was an almost-laugh, in the same way that someone who does not smile often can, on occasion, present an almost-smile. They made the sound again. Then they began to move.
The person stood unsteadily, as though they were unused to walking on snow. By this time the storm was almost on its way and the strange magnetic pull he had sensed from the tunnel had all but disappeared. He looked back at the hotel. It was quite far away now and he wasn't sure he could make it before the storm hit. When he looked toward the person again they were waving.
He began to walk toward them, hurrying to the base of the hill upon which they were standing. They too began to move however it was slow progress. Reaching the base of the hill he realised that there was no point in climbing it. The snow was too powdery to support his weight, he would either sink or cause a small avalanche. He stretched his arm out and waited for the person to reach him.
As the person came nearer he made out that it was a girl of his age, with skin so pale it blended with the blizzard. Her attire was like something from a fantasy film. Trembling, she made her way toward him through the thickening snow. With a huge gust, her hood blew down and long waves of black hair were caught by the wind and set to dance. Her hands were wracked with violent shaking. Suddenly she fell. He somehow managed to catch her but the snow under his feet gave way and a split second later they were both on the ground again.
She could barely stand. Her teeth were chattering and her thin dress provided little protection from the cold.
"Come on, we need to get out of this." He told her but she appeared not to hear him. He helped her stand and they began to walk. The cold was taking its toll on her. The ends of her fingers were a mottled blue, her grey eyes were unfocused and her breathing laboured.
Leaning on each other, the pair trudged through the howling winds toward shelter. He could barely make out the ends of her hair let alone the house. He had no idea if they were going in the right direction. After what seemed like an age the dark silhouette of the hotel appeared, permeated by the lights shining through the windows like beacons, guiding him home. Quickly, he cleared away the snow from the front of the door as best as he could before slamming his fist on the door.
"Get the door open Light you idiot!" He yelled. "Light! Come on!" The door burst open. He and the girl fell through, landing hard on the wooden floor. He coughed violently.
"You took your time. Did you see?" He managed to choke out.
"Yeah. Yeah, I saw." Light sounded disturbed. Temperance stood, removing his now-white outer layer. The strange girl remained sprawled out where she fell.
"Is she hugging the floor?"
"It's hard to tell with a flat surface, but . . . I think so. Why did you bring her here?"
"Come on, you saw that blizzard. She was terrified. I don't think she's ever been in one before. You remember your first time, right? It was like dying."
"Yeah. Remember Little Dy Field?"
"Who could forget?" The girl gave a little sigh.
"Is she falling asleep?" Light wondered aloud. "Hey. Hey, are you alright? Uh, hello? Are you alright?"
"Snow is scary," she mumbled. He smiled.
"What were you doing out in that blizzard wearing those clothes?" He queried. She mumbled a reply but it was difficult to hear. From what he could gather, she didn't expect to encounter a blizzard, or didn't know where to get clothes, or something.
'Tourist,' Light mouthed.
She sat up and stared openly at Temperance. He maintained eye contact with her. With her, it was easy. Her eyes were a mesmerising grey, unlike any other he had seen before. They appeared to move like currents, swirling and eddying.
Suddenly she moved, standing and bowing like a character from an anime.
"Thank you very much for helping me. If you could secure me with shelter until the storm passes I would be doubly grateful and would ensure you would be rewarded handsomely. I apologise however I cannot give you my name. If you cannot provide me shelter I shall be on my way now."
"I'll get you some clothes." He told her, ignoring her outburst. She seemed to relax, however remained bowed even after he had left the room.
The sound of laughter echoing up to where he stood by his wardrobe, Temperance selected a pair of grey trousers and a grey hoodie. He got the impression she'd be comforted by that somehow. The grey. In his mind, somehow it defined her. A grey silhouette against the white, white snow.
When he returned to Light, he found him making hot chocolate in the hotel kitchen.
"Where is she?" He asked.
"Thanks." He made to leave.
"Be careful. She's . . . She's not normal." They stared at each other for a few moments. Then, with a nod, he departed.
She was sat in the Communal Room 3, perching on the edge of one of the couches. Her back was so straight. The way she spoke and held herself spoke of wealth and importance - or perhaps simply overconfidence and self-importance. Either way, there was probably going to be someone looking for her.
"Hey. It's me." She looked up, startled, then regained her composure.
"Good day to you."
"Uh, yeah. Look, I brought you some clothes. I don't know if they'll fit you, but it's better than what you're wearing." With a slight tremble in her hands, she rose and took them.
"Wait . . . these are men's clothes! How am I to wear these?"
"Sorry, they're all I've got." Sighing, she turned away.
"Could you please excuse me whilst I change?"
He left the room in silence. This girl had something about her, something strange he couldn't quite put his finger on. She emanated the same curious mixture of magnetism and fear as the tunnel. He sighed. This was going to get complicated, he could tell.