Harbinger of Winter

The violent storm that led me to the Last Hearth wasn’t diminishing with passing time in the slightest. I would even dare to say it had gotten stronger, so I was forced to stay in that mystical place, until it would weaken. This at least gave me the time to question my host about a plethora of various things going through my mind; be it the nature of this place, his origins, but most importantly, my visions and his knowledge thereof. “Am I a part of some prophecy, am I to fight some great evil to save the world?” I asked, and as soon as I asked the question, my mind started spinning. My story is how every heroic tale my father used to tell me used to go; There was a prophecy about me before my birth, my parents died, my deeds got me praise and glory, and now I was about to vanquish a great evil or die trying. Or at least so I thought, but this idea went crashing down as soon as my host started speaking; “You are not a part of any prophecy, none that I know of at least. You are a part of a cursed cycle that will cost more and more lives until it is broken.” There was a slight pause, and I was afraid that was my host being ominous and that I wouldn’t be able to get more, but then he continued; “Did you ever hear the tragedy of the King of Winter?” I shook my head. “I thought not, it’s not a story commonly told among your kind, for it bears much grief and pain. He was the first and only king of barbarians to ever rule. No one else managed to unite all of your clans together before him and ever since. He was wise and strong, and great was the love for his people. However as his kingdom grew bigger and stronger, so did his hubris. He started thinking of himself as a god, eventually calling himself King of Winter. The shamans and seers warned him, that he would bring doom not only to himself, but to his people as well if he were to insult and challenge the gods any further. But he didn’t listen; and one day, he ordered all the sacred sites and temples burned down. What happened next could be compared to many a cataclysm and it might not do it justice. Blizzards, Hailstorms, Tidal waves, and much more stroke the kingdom, leaving only ruins and dust in its wake. The whole civilization was destroyed and those shattered pieces of society that prevailed eventually turned into the barbarian clans of today. But seeing his kingdom turn to dust and dying wasn’t the full scale of the king’s curse, the gods raised his body from death as a murderous revenant; unable to control his actions, but being conscious of everything. Now every few years, in winter he returns from the grave, forced to watch as his body slaughters the people he loved above all else. His coming is always preceded by a pack of celestial wolves, that warn the people of his coming.” I was still confused, so I asked; “So where is my part in all of this?” “I was just getting there; you see with every cycle, one young warrior is given these visions of yours and is destined to free the king from his curse, or he and his whole clan shall die. They all came here and all were given this axe; you are my first in this regard.” A grim silence filled the room, but not wanting to succumb to fatality I broke it; “If that is so then there is no time to waste, otherwise more people will die, what am I supposed to do now?” “Remember those wolves I told you about, they are the ones causing this horrible storm, you need to find the pack and find a way how to make them stop this storm, they are not mere beasts and are very dangerous, so trying to kill them might not be the best course of actions. Anyway, you have no chance of beating the king in this storm, that is his domain and none can stand against him on such conditions; but without it, you might still have a sliver of chance.”

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