When park ranger and volcanologist Evie Hayes investigates reports of ominous tremors within Mt. Rainier National Park, she is met with the very spirit of the mountain itself. As the two work together to uncover the source of the quakes - the reawakening of an ancient volcano hidden amongst the Cascades - the entire region braces for disaster, and Rainier finds himself challenged to a deadly duel for power and supremacy.
May 18th, 1980
8:32 a.m. Sunday
Over a vast swath of emerald, evergreen forests stood the beauty and majesty of Mount St. Helens, his looming peak streaked in snow. Massive, grand, and quite arrogant, he, along with his brothers, dominated the surrounding landscape, the most magnificent peaks of the High Cascades. A towering Prince of Fire, his domain encompassed all life along his slopes and beyond - the entirety of Skamania County in Washington.
But not all was well with the mighty mountain.
It was ill, and he knew so. A sickness spanning months had taken him. Tremors and quakes that had gradually worsened with each passing day could only herald one thing: an eruption, the greatest fear and dread of all fire-mountains.
All eyes were fixed on the mountain in fervent anticipation. Countless researchers and thrill-seekers alike watched with anxious anticipation, their tiny hearts beating ever faster with fear-tinged excitement.
Whatever happened next was beyond the mountain's control or doing. By now he was out, taken by unconcious shock.
The earth beneath him quaked one final time. Then, with a terrible, thunderous boom that was both deafening and silent; heard and unheard, his mighty upper form collapsed into ruin, and a massive debri avalanche ensued. In that moment, every standing tree was blown back and flattened like an endless array of wooden toothpicks, blasted by an unimaginable force the equivalent of 500 Hiroshima atomic bombs. A colossal surge of ash, rock, and cauterizing steam rushed down the mountain-side that seared, melted, cemented and buried everything in its path. This was not the fiery, spewing show that was typical of his distant island cousins - but a violent, horrifying, and gushing force - his magma life-blood bursting forth as a pyroclastic flow.
Billowing from his broken peak was an immense, black plume of ash and smoke that continued to grow in size and scope, plunging his entire domain into a night-like darkness.
When the eruption had finally quieted and stilled, a figure emerged from the ashen waste. With silken hair the color of pale clay that hung round his shoulders, and eyes that continued to burn and glow like a dying flame. He stepped unsteadily over fallen, smoldering tree-trunks and rubble, his body shaking and quivering in the way one does after a harrowing ordeal. The air around him was clouded and thick with choking ash, and as hot as a furnace. No man or creature could survive exposed to such conditions, but he was no mere man. He cautiously made his way up and through ash-covered refuse and remains, until finally coming out on an overlook, where his golden eyes grew wide with horror at the sight before him. The entire region around him had been reduced to little more than a hellish, barren wasteland. Any hint of life that once existed were the numerous petrified tree-trunks that lay scattered and strewn as far as the eye could see. And far below lay Spirit Lake - or at least, what was left of it. Only yesterday were its waters a deep, sapphire-blue, rich and pristine, surrounded by a dense forest of old-growth firs. Now, only a portion of it remained, the bare and naked remnants of thousands upon thousands of trees displaced within.
Fifty-seven human lives were lost that day, as well as the lives of countless animals. Such a catastrophy is the bane and nightmare of all volcanoes, though unfortunately, one they cannot avoid. The mountain himself and the surrounding area was devastated, though not completely destroyed. Though his eruptions persisted throughout the years in a series of small spats, he would recover in time.
But something slumbered within the earth, hidden amidst the Cascade chain. Something dark and ominous. And after all the earthquakes and destructive power of Mount St. Helens, it finally began to stir.
More coming soon to Protagonize!