The Last of the Storm Heralds

(Spec work for a game we ended up throwing out. It still makes a fun stand-alone spec piece.)

When the planet started dying, my people weren’t surprised. So many of our race abused the powers given to them. So many used it unnaturally. Surely this was punishment from the planet, the effects of a disease brought about by foolish, naïve ways. The planet used to flourish with flora and fauna, our people used the powers for just as nature intended.

In your language, the others would call us “Storm Heralds.” You see, my people use only the elements of nature: growth, rain, lightning and wind. We don’t sling fire or manipulate blood, we don’t destroy the world by disrupting the ground or enacting devastating quakes. We listen to the world around and absorb the powers nature has to offer.

That’s not to say we use our power passively. No, we waged war like the rest. The oldest of our tribe tell us stories passed down to them of our prowess in battle. We made others believe in our ways just by the boom of thunder and the floods in our wake. When the planet died, we killed the others before finding solace in the fleeting warmth below the surface. The caves quickly went cold and it was then we learned nature had one more element to offer our people: Ice. Many rejected the cold but no natural powers could save them from the frost. Legend says my those who survived embraced the new element, using its powers to hunt and preserve.

Food became more scarce yet still no one would wander outside the caves to find a new home. There was too much fear in their hearts. Starving is a slow process. Freezing is much quicker. I’d rather freeze to death, so I set out with my staff in hand to find a path through the snow. My staff brushed aside the ice and snow with ease – after all it was imbued with the powers of nature’s wrathful frost. The frost does not deter me – I embrace it as my ancestors before me. The world is huge and full of more caves – I just know it.

The first time I left the caves, all I could see was white. White snow everywhere with white sky above. It was disorienting. I nearly lost myself in its vastness. My next trip I left for three days, sleeping in the snow while my staff protected me from its chilly harm. On the second day I thought I saw a creature move through the snow. But we were the only creatures left on the planet and I had left my tribe a day behind. My eyes must have played tricks on me; no, nature was taunting me. Taunting with echoes of the past. This planet once flourished with hundreds of different creatures.

I came to a sharp incline and climbed it for a ways, doing my best to respect the ice formations around. As I climbed, more snow slipped around me. One bad step and I heard a great rumble, the snow at my feet giving way. I was swept into the great white, tumbling down the hill. When all laid still, I couldn’t move. Everything was dark. I began to freeze, panicking and suffocating beneath the dense snow. As I flailed, I felt my staff laying against my back. I called on its power and moved myself up to the top of the snow. It was then I knew nothing would stop me from saving my people.

Many trips in many directions led me to nothing but dangerous avalanches and steep cliffs. Time was running out and my people were starving. I packed what little rations were mine set out, hugging my family goodbye. I would come back a hero or succumb to nature trying. I was gone for months, starving, until one day my bad luck paid off. I was walking along a mountainside when I fell through the snow. Tumbling down into the unknown, I landed in the dark, nature giving me snow to break the fall. I was finally in a cave! Around me plants illuminated the cave walls. Plants only glow when their energy is corrupted. After quickly cleansing the plants, I ate my fill. I packed as many as I could and headed back to my people. The journey took another month of tireless trekking but eventually I came to the cave entrance.

As I journeyed into the cave, I should have been able to shed layers of clothing, but it didn’t get any warmer. I ran, sliding on the ice deeper into the cave until I found them all. Frozen, every one of them. Like statues made of ice. My family was curled up together, their bodies frozen to the cold ground.

I’m the last Storm Herald and I never learned nature’s power, only nature’s revenge, the ice. My weapon only knows ice. I wept for days, mourning the loss of my people. I’m the last of my kind, last of my tribe, last on the planet. I took what supplies I could carry and set out. There was nothing but sorrow left for me in that cave.

As I traversed mountains and found more caves, I mastered the ways of the frost. Nature’s revenge was all I had left. I considered ending my life, returning to nature from whence I came. I considered writing everything down but it would be in a language lost in time. Life was futile and the plants grew bitter. Finally, I decided it was time to die. I’d die at the top of the tallest mountain, so if any race ever came to this planet, they’d find my body easily.

I climbed the mountain, intent on my suicidal mission. After all, I had lost everything else, why not my life? I got to the top and looked out, hoping to find any sliver of life beyond the horizon, hoping to find a reason to live. I saw nothing so I left my staff on the ground and walked away from its influence to freeze. I grew cold, my limbs went numb, my hearing faded. I shut my eyes and accepted my end. That’s when I heard the great thunder above. I saw an enormous grey mass falling out of the sky, burning by fire, a force not made by nature’s hands. It plummeted into the great white abyss, pieces flying off as they broke apart in the sky.

I’d seen meteors fall and this was no meteor. This was life. Something living was in that ship, I knew it. I crawled toward my staff, freezing and bleeding in the snow as I dragged my dying body. I thought I was too far gone, I wouldn’t make it. I’d never see what crashed, if hope was alive. If anything was alive.

I lost consciousness in the freezing snow just as I felt my hand touch the staff.