the artistry and psychology of gaming


Dead Sea (Chrono Cross)

Dead Sea (Chrono Cross)

I once visited a land called El Nido, which was south of a region that I’d previously visited.  El Nido is the archetypal island nation, with all manner of warm-weather foliage and many beaches. Oddly enough, there is also a lot of coral that exists outside of the water, giving it a very otherworldly appearance. Despite its small size – one lord rules over the entirety of El Nido – there are vast stretches that remain unexplored. There is also a vortex to an alternate reality at Opassa Beach, but that is something for us to discuss another time.

Today, I would like to tell you of one of the most haunting places that I have ever been: the Dead Sea. Now, I have been able to see spirits since birth, and I have visited many heavily haunted areas in my life, but they all pale in comparison to this. The Dead Sea is a sea, as its name suggests, that is completely frozen in time. The very waves stand still before you, and one can walk upon them as though they were solid ground. While it may sound like a neat way to experience the sea, much like the sky roads I’ve visited are for exploring the sky, there is something very unsettling about it, even for a hardened adventurer, such as myself.

The Dead Sea is surrounded by impassable terrain, so I began my journey in a small cave comprised almost entirely of green coral. This is the only way to enter the Dead Sea, and so, I went through the passage ahead of me, and was completely breath-taken when I’d emerged. The skies were dark and cloudy, and sure enough, before me stood an ocean that remained completely motionless. The waves formed walls taller than houses on either side of the path before me. I could see a few massive shadowy figures in the distance, but they appeared not to be moving. In utter awe, I began my journey in earnest, walking upon the waves without giving it much thought.

As I walked, I saw what appeared to be skyscrapers from a futuristic city chaotically strewn about the sea, resembling the results of a small child tossing handfuls of blocks into a jar of paste. I fear no spirit, nor did I encounter any here, and yet, there was this feeling as though millions of sad specters surrounded me, crying their empty pleas, quickly transforming my sense of awe to one of intense discomfort. It was as though the sky itself was bearing down on me; as though I was on a planet with a thick atmosphere that was gradually pressing me into the world beneath my feet. I trudged on, my journey so far from its end.

I came to the ruins of a highway, which was the first traversable area within this mysterious city. Parts of the highway were functional enough that I could use it, but much of it was broken off. There was a large tower connected to stairs and a walkway, all of which went over the road, though for what purpose, I could not even begin to guess. The water had risen up to meet the highway, still standing as though it were ice. I was fortunate enough that there was an opening where the highway met the sea, so that I could get through. I am fairly certain that this was a short walk, but it seemed to take forever because of the crushing despair that had long since washed over me; I had not even the capacity to feel the unnerving anxiety caused by a once-busy highway that was now completely deserted.

I walked along another lengthy stretch of sea until I came to the next area, which appeared to be some manner of abandoned research city. The tops of buildings buried in the still waters emerged, looking almost like a terrible snowstorm. I strode under the curls of waves, almost able to touch them. Eventually, I came to a building with a ladder on its side, which I climbed, and entered. In here was a non-functioning monitor and some other machinery; was this some sort of laboratory at one point? I tried to get it working again, but my knowledge was insufficient for the task. I left this area, and continued to the final stop of my journey.

At the very center of the Dead Sea is a massive tower that, while broken up, sits mostly above the sea. I stared up at this architectural amalgamation, wondering what I would see upon my entry. Inside was a colorfully-lit lobby, mostly in blue with splashes of green and purple. The dark blue floor had disorganized quadrilateral patterns trimmed in gold. There was some strange sculpture in front of the flights of stairs that led to the two higher levels of the lobby, and a defunct glass elevator off to the side. Above the staircases were translucent orange awnings, which seemed to be largely ornamental. The walkways of the upper levels, though, were in a terrible state of disrepair: crumbling, broken, and barely traversable. I wanted to sink to my knees and weep for the now-dead civilization that had accomplished so much, and yet, I soldiered on.

I found an abandoned train station within this building; evidently, the tower had been a very important place. I had to climb over mountains of rubble to get to the gates, but I was unable to pass through them. I slid back down through a fallen ventilation duct, and returned to the lobby. I then went in the only other direction, and it brought me to a large room that appeared to be a destroyed theater. Many of the seats were still intact, but the chandelier had fallen, and it almost looked as though the rest of the seats had been sucked into it. I made my way through the labyrinth of debris, coming to a stage that hadn’t been damaged in the slightest. The lovely dark forest scene with its happy little tree house and legendary sword in a pedestal seemed all the more unnerving in the context of this miserable place. I moved on, unable to even look at once had been, thinking about how all of the once-happy lives had now turned sullen.

I came to a very ornate room with a very rich checkerboard-patterned tile as its floor. The beauty of the dark greens and orange-stained yellows was damaged, as the floor appeared to have been crushed by heavy falling objects. At the far end of this room, however, was a spinning blue vortex; against my better judgment, I stepped through it. I knew not where I was; it still looked like the ruins, but the skies had cleared into a beautiful sunset. I made my way into an open area with a stone arch that had not been damaged in the slightest, with a fallen bell beneath it. It stood upon a small patch of grass, and a mountain range was visible in the distance. My best guess is that I had stumbled upon a time pocket; a space in time in which none of this had ever happened, and this peaceful scene was the most disturbing of all. It all became too much; I was completely overwhelmed, and the last thing I remember before losing consciousness is lying down on the grass, and three translucent children – a little boy and two little girls – looking down upon me and smiling. When I awoke, I was lying on a reef on the outskirts of the nearby town of Marbule, left to wonder how I’d gotten there.

Little that I have encountered in my many years takes a harder emotional toll upon me than a disaster that does not completely destroy a civilization. When it is completely obliterated, there are no signs that it was ever there; the memory of its inhabitants are out of sight, and thus, out of mind. When you see bits of their former lives left behind, however, it brings you the overwhelming sadness that their happy lives had all turned to abject fear, misery, and deep sadness the very moment before they all died and everything they had ever loved was ruined. A damaged house or an errant child’s toy is often more than enough to drown my heart in cold water. Though humans are a blight on the planet, destroying nature for the sake of their own luxury, I still cannot help but feel very strongly for them, because all life is precious, no matter the rarity.

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