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Xeo Vihar by Callum Stone

How did I get here you ask? I suppose I have time to recount it all.

My name is Xeo Vihar. I am now standing 5'9 and have short, spiky ice hair and ice-blue eyes.

But my story begins when I was 12 and a bit shorter with short black hair. On my twelfth birthday, it snowed. It was an early snow but it had happened before so our small village managed to get through it. My mother fell ill about a month later, and the snow, still light, continued to fall. She died not long after that and the village helped me to live independently, even going so far as to buy me food and help with the bills.

But even with their concern over the rest of the winter, I was still alone. And that loneliness made me feel cold, right to my core. No matter how high I turned the heating up, always so cold. I walked through the snow the winds howling, almost whispering to me, but I couldn't feel a thing.

On the first day of spring, I went to school as normal my hair now shorter than before and starting to turn grey with the stress of it all. The snow was ankle-deep. It was still snowing but other than that it was a normal day at school.

Although now I think about it, I was getting a lot of weird looks at school. Guess they were told in advance.

After school finished, I was greeted by two men in black suits and a woman in a long, fur coat. She introduced herself as Doctor Sophie Kingston, a scientist who was working with the United Nations on “natural phenomena”, and she said that she needed me to help her with a problem. I was skeptical, of course, but she convinced me that I could be of help.

I got into the back of the big four by four with her and the suited men got in the front and we began to drive away. She told me that she had been monitoring what was going on in our village since the snow stopped. This confused me until she explained that the snow that hit our country only lasted for a couple of weeks, but our mountain village was knee-deep in snow for months. She said that based on their research the source was magical in nature.

After a little while, we stopped for food, and she asked me about myself. I started to talk about myself as I ate my burger and chips before I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, I had the worst headache of my life and a horrible ringing in my ears. I tried to jolt forward in panic, but only then did I realise that I was strapped to a surgical bed, in the standing position, with cables attached all over me, feeding chemicals into me and transmitting information to machines and scientists beyond. I could barely see them even though they were quite close to me but my hearing recovered quickly.

I overheard them saying that the subject’s (my) latent magical potential was being amplified and that the information gathered might allow for more advanced cryo-technology.

It was at that moment that I realised; I’d been betrayed for research. My fellow villagers had pointed these monsters my way and that doctor had lied just so she could have a new plaything… Well not if I had anything to say about it. I didn't know that I was the cause of the snowfall but I’m not going to live my life as a test monkey.

If no one else cared about me then why should I care about anyone else?

I could feel the cold in my chest again, but it wasn't uncomfortable anymore. It felt natural as the sensation flooded around my veins. The machines bleeped as they alerted the scientists to the falling air temperature. What fools they were. I might have never actively used my abilities before but they were about to learn the cold I'd felt for so long.

All the cables attached to me froze, then the metal that held me to the chair. An older male scientist rushed to a machine near me to retrieve the data, poor imbecile. As I shattered all that bound me to that chair and stood up a shard of frozen metal flew off and stabbed threw his throat. I watched as he slumped to the ground squirming, maybe he knew now how cold I felt.

An armed man rushed into the room and levelled a gun at me. So I focused and created an ice spike which then flew and penetrated his skull before he had a chance to fire.

The other scientists had begun to flee but I could sense the storm that had formed in the area.

Everyone would die in my cold.

I started to walk down the hallways, along an ice trail leaving frozen and skewered bodies in my wake, and I discovered more of my powers as I went. I could flash freeze the air and break most metals or peoples’ lungs, create ice spikes for projectiles and freeze people slowly, watching them suffer, and when I reached the ground floor I smashed a window with my elbow without injury to myself so I could use the storm to devastating effect.

It was then that I heard a whisper from the snow. It stated that I was a ‘great queen of ice’ and that the base was in disarray. I merely scoffed at it stating that “of course it was”.

As I advanced towards the final refuge, the director’s office, the storm asked what I intended to do once the base was mine. My response was simply “make them all kneel”.

I broke into the office with ease quickly dispatching the guards before I was shot in the chest by that bitch herself. She was in red bulletproof plating over a skin-tight suit. She explained that I wasn't supposed to be this strong but she'd prepared for this just in case, her suit and weapon had been designed to give off heat to counteract the cold.

I could feel the heat in my chest. Heat. I hated it more than her.

I stood up and she took another shot which I stopped with a block of ice I created. As the ice melted under the heat, I focused as I maneuverer. I managed to create a sword out of the ice somehow and then focused the power of the storm into me as it shattered into the room.

I dashed at her at my first opportunity, the sword bouncing off her attire every time. Then, as she regained her composure and levelled the gun at me, I froze over the end of the barrel causing the gun to explode in her hand sending us both flying backwards.

I felt my face, which had taken most of the blast, cracks had formed but before I could start bleeding my skin froze, sealing the wound. I then looked over at the bitch. Her armour no longer felt warm to the storm and me.

I smiled as I got up and walked purposefully over to her prone body. She struggled to her knees before looking up at me. She didn't say anything, just looked at me with fear in her eyes, the same fear that I felt waking up in that chair and when my mother died.

I cupped her face with my right hand, her face slowly freezing over before I placed my left hand on the other side and shattered her head like it was an acorn under a sledgehammer.

I now knew my place, I was to be this world’s new queen, and my conquest started now.

I started by deep-freezing all of the base. I then took a mobile phone and checked the internet to see where I was. Belgium, not far from the channel. I could feel my power surging. I had very little control or experience over my power but nothing was going to stop me other than my death.

I unleashed my power with as much as I could, and I could feel the Arctic ice cap expanding along with the area of ice around the base. It wasn't long before armed forces converged on the base but the snowfall was so cold that machinery froze up and frostbite took the majority of the troops before they could get close. I smiled, reviling in my power. It only took just over a month to lock Europe, up to a line at approximately the most southerly point of the Bordeaux region of France across the continent, in an eternal, snow-covered, winter with unliveable depths of temperature.

After most of northern Europe evacuated, and a global state of emergency was declared, I ventured out to see my work. I managed to travel easily along the frozen roads until I reached Paris.

La Ville Amour, la Ville Lumier, and one of the most powerful capital cities in the world are now frozen in time. Those who couldn't leave in time were now ice statues where they once stood, rather like Pompeii. It was beautiful.

I'd survived off rations from the base that was far enough away from my power that they hadn't frozen over but I now needed food. I found an art gallery of some kind and used the backroom stores to start a fire to cook some food, I might be creating a new ice age but I'm still human and frozen food is difficult to eat. I succeeded in finding some tinned foods at a shop that seemed fine apart from the cans themselves. I opened them up and placed them near the fire to cook.

The food went down alright but the fire itself offended me, the flickering reds and oranges along with the heat almost beckoning me to melt away and die, it was utterly detestable.

I managed to find a wireless radio in an old electronics store that had power and, once I tuned it to a station that I could understand, heard on the news broadcast that American and Asian scientists were working on ways to combat my cold… so I had to put a stop to that at once.

It took almost half a year and a good amount of traveling in search of food but, using high structures, like the Eiffel Tower, to act as towers to project my powers around the world, I managed to freeze over the majority of the northern hemisphere.

My vengeance on this world was almost complete and now I needed to decide on my seat of power. Paris was nice but I'd exhausted a lot of the resources there and I wanted to stay away from America as much as possible for my own safety.

In the end, I decided on Edinburgh. There were a lot of pretty statues there, I'd gathered up a lot of food along the way there which I stored in special thermos gear left by a military attempt on my life. But most of all, the castle gave me a great view of my empire and it had deep rooms away from my storm that I could use for storing and consumption of my food.

It was wonderful. No one to bother me and everything was peaceful. I even got a television working on a small wind turbine. That's when I saw a news report which had a photo of me as I was at the time, now with the hairstyle I have to this day, and satellite images of me walking around my capital. They were labelling me as the "Ice Queen” and another channel referred to me as the “Empress of Ice”. I do enjoy the latter; it’s a far stronger title.

It took almost two years from that date for anyone foolhardy enough to challenge my rule.

And it was a transgression that I WON’T forgive.

I first heard about them about two months before their arrival. I was fashioning a new crown when the winds whispered to me that a duo of idiots was entrusted with military equipment to test while scouting into my kingdom. By this time many ice creatures, like ice golems, had formed from the storm I’d created and so it had become dangerous for outsiders to enter, which was just fine for me.

I’d already started to shadow spar using my ice weapons and I had now gained great control over my ice magic. Given that these two had been given military gear I decided to up my training just to be safe.

A few weeks later I caught wind of their names; Rufus Hafseren – a fairly famous mountain climber who had climbed both Mount Everest and K2 before his fifteenth birthday and his reputation were apparently even greater now he was in his thirties, and Kristof Farkas – a twenty-year-old Hungarian musician who was just managing to get onto the music scene. These two didn't seem too threatening but it would be better if they didn't get too far.

As the weeks passed I received word on the cold winds that they had reached Paris as I was looking over the bay from the castle walls. I paid little notice to this information at the time, I was too busy thinking about the world. I had changed the world significantly simply because I was angry about the loss of my mother and subsequent kidnapping. Was this too selfish, or overkill, and was I justified in my actions? I shook these thoughts from my head and continued to enjoy my city's pristine architecture.

Another month passed, as I wrestled with these thoughts sitting upon my throne, I heard the sound of people climbing my castle. How I didn't sense them entering my island kingdom let alone getting this close to my castle. I quickly cleared my head and looked at the two who were just pulling themselves into my throne room.

“So, you’re finally here” I cockily said as Rufus helped Kristof up “I thought you’d never make it”.

“Sorry ‘Your Highness’” Rufus replied, his tone rather condescending "but we were held up by you're welcome party".

Rufus stood a bit taller than me, his years of mountain climbing clearly showing even while being in an odd-looking suit of armour with an ice axe attached to each wrist.

“If you’re in need of a court musician, I can give you some recommendations” the smaller armoured man, obviously Kristof, added, clearly mocking me.

“While I could use some more brainless idiots to serve me, that’s not why you’re here is it” I retort, knowing full well why they’d arrived.

"You're well informed for being so far off the grid" Rufus said sheepishly, before recovering, "We need to take you back for trial so you can right the wrongs you've committed"

“And why would I do that, I am the empress of this world” I responded, they were getting on my nerves, my time in power having made me headstrong.

“Oh, don’t worry, you’ll still get to live a life of comfort from a nice, padded cell” Kristof taunted.

This was the final straw. I’d had it with his jovial tone and taunts.

"Fine, I'll go south… With your dead bodies" I yelled as I threw an ice spike at them.

Kristof was quick though, playing a chord on his guitar that caused a blast of heat to erupt through the air, melting the spike and shattering my crown before I finally set up an ice wall that I could hide behind.

How was this possible? They had to be strong and have good equipment to get here sure, but nothing had been able to stand up to me and my powers directly before.

As I recovered, I could feel the wall cracking under an assault of blows from ice axes, I formed my blade and prepared to engage.

The wall fell, and an axe came through, though easy for me to duck under, I attempted to stab into Rufus’ gut, it deflected off his armour and I had to scramble to shield myself with more ice before the other axe came down on me.

I jumped back and desperately tried to concoct a plan while blocking and dodging the frenzy of strikes from the mountaineer.

I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to win this on my own, so I called in the storm

The storm descended, but it barely slowed his attacks apart from which he now targeted the storm around him.

I had room to catch my breath, then a wave of heat and noise split through the storm.

I collapsed to one knee, the oppressive heat and wall of sound coming from the guitar pinning the mountaineer to the wall. I could feel the storm wailing in pain, its pain was mine.

I summoned the storm to shield me specifically, I had to stop this loud, scorching series of cords to survive.

I slowly advanced towards Kristof, what was left of the storm keeping me as cool and intact as possible. Step by step I approached, step by step I could feel my skin flaking and cracking off.

I reached the musician and used the storm to break the instrument before rallying as much strength I had to lift Kristof and push him off the edge of the castle.

I could hear his scream, as well as a cry from behind me but I couldn’t make it out.

I was spent, exhausted unlike I had ever been before, I called on the storm to replenish me. It was at that moment that I heard nothing, no whispers on the wind, the storm was gone.

Where was it? Certainly, some musician couldn't have gotten rid of one of my greatest creations.

As I stumbled over my thoughts, I barely had time to raise my hand to block an ice axe aimed at my head.

The shaft of the axe connected with my arm, but the force was enough to fracture my arm and it went limp.

As I tried to dodge to the side the second ice axe rose, cutting through my jaw and knocking me to the ground.

It was over.

As I lay there, the mountaineer moved to kneel over me, I had no strength to do anything but sneer at my killer and I could feel the same anger and resentment from him as he raised the remaining axe.

In the next moment, my heart shattered.

Everything was dark, however, even after death something had other plans for me it seems…

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