Alliance. It’s settled then, the glib-tongued Asmodean affirming the details with Karringor. So we are to go kill the beast of the rifts, The Hunger that Moves. Beltran was terrified of it last time we were in the rifts. But it is yet another task in our arduous journey to drive the demons back to the Abyss. I grab some mead on the way out of the chief’s tent, and we head back to the Bonesquaw Clan – Lucius’s new tribe. Lucius is his typical asshole self and asserts his command over them, saying he will take them on a new path of vengeance and demon slaying. I try not to pay much attention, consuming more food and drink before bedding down for the night. It’s going to be a difficult day tomorrow.
I awake to a blood-curdling shriek – a woman’s cry – and we find the old seer of the Bonesquaw clan has died of an apparent heart attack. The clansfolk are initially dismayed, but their hushed chatter tells of something else – they see this as a further sign of Lucius’ prowess, that his new direction is changing the old ways and they need to get in line or be killed. Amidst the commotion I notice Aldrick take her ceremonial dagger, but decide to leave it be. Sleep comes again quickly.
In the morning we discuss our task with Beltran. He says he would have laughed at us two days ago, but after seeing our prowess will do what he can to help us. This is a far cry from his previous concern. Lucius casts a spell, calling upon Ragathial to grant him insight on our foe before we go on our hunt. The information flows from him as if he had known it his whole life. Kakuen-Taka, known as The Hunger that Moves, is a living manifestation of the worldwound’s taint. It is a swarm of Bhoga covered by a bone and flesh “mansion”. The consume living flesh, spit out swarms of carrion birds and their mansion acts as a shield of sorts. Even more dangerous is that within the rift they prevent exit.
We strike camp and head back up the hill the way we came. Four women seers from the tribe lead us back through the hut so we can return to our plane. I notice not a thing has changed here – nothing has moved an inch, but the old man is gone. The women lead us through, and we step out in a different place than we entered from. We are near a small riverbed on desolate plains, likely not far from the hut I estimate. The women point us to a few small islands, noting there is a rift there and that typically The Hunger is guarding the entrances. But they say this rift hasn’t been used in some time, so it may not be paying close attention here.
Beltran begins to ready himself to enter the rifts, but the women scoff and push past. They step forward, slicing their hands and gathering some dirt, creating bloody, muddy hands. As they do this, my companions and I make our preparations – in case something is indeed waiting for us. They stand in a small formation and reach out touching their hands together. Light sparks, and an energy triangle forms opening a passage to the rift.
Instantly a storm of tiny undead carrion birds emerge, but instead of heads they have gaping mouths full of razor sharp teeth. The women are swallowed in seconds – their chanting quickly turning to screams then quieting almost as suddenly. I lose an arrow into a mist of blood the swarm has created, and as the makes a small opening it reveals there is nothing left of the women. They were all consumed in a few seconds. The noise of the chewing is overwhelming.
I quickly loose several more arrows, maintaining the bloody mist and knocking back the swarm that has emerged from the portal, but it rapidly re-emerges and engulfs us. We push toward the portal hacking a bit as more swarms emerge. I notice Lathander is affected by the swarm and lose an arrow in his direction to aid him. He seems to come to his senses and starts making headway through the carrion swarm.
We all continue pushing forward, and Aldrick touches us all on the way into the portal, counseling us not to attack saying he can hide us from the birds with this spell. We all plunge through the portal but find no relief – the swarm covers the rifts, impairing vision and movement. My greatest advantage negated, I get the feeling that the carrion swarm is moving from our right to left. Based on their motion we set out toward the right, figuring we will find The Hunger there.
Travel is tough and disorienting between the features of the rifts and the and the carrion swarms. Lathander continues to have trouble dealing with them, flailing wildly hitting first Beltran and then himself. But Aldrick’s spell is keeping most of the swarms at bay, with only a few of them noticing and attacking us as we press through them. After nearly a minute we notice the rifts stop shifting – the power of the Huner, it must be nearby. Lucius is the first to make it out, and alerts us that The Hunger is there before us.
Lucius and I move up, fighting through the swarms to attack the Hunger. It is an utterly disgusting abomination. We do minimal damage, and the creature lashes out, striking Lucius and grabbing me. Aldrick frees me from it’s grasp with a spell, but The Hunger lashes out again hitting me a second time and striking Lathander while enveloping Lucius.
Aldrick then calls on the power of Asmodeus, infusing us with his infernal blessing while simultaneously clearing a small area of the carrion swarm. Lathander drops a two bombs, one on the Hunger and one healing himself and me. I unload five arrows into the beast and it reacts by lashing back out at me, striking twice. Lucius cleaves into it four times and sets it on fire.
The carrion swarm quickly fills the void back in as the Hunger continues shambling forward, striking me again. Before I lose consciousness I notice it also struck Lathander and completely enveloped Lucius. [Aldrick draws on the wrath of Asmodeus to bring order to the Hunger, managing to temporarily stun it. Lathander calls upon the power of Seranrae to revive me from death]. Coming to my senses quickly with Lathander still kneeling over me, I grab my bow and jump up, pounding four more arrows into the Hunger. I can hear Lucius slashing away inside it, and can see what’s left of the Hunger’s corpse carapace fall aside. Lucius emerges from the bhoga, standing at our side yet again.
Aldrick calls on Asmodeus’s order again, while Lathander repeats his dual bomb throw healing himself, Lucius and me. I slam 6 arrows into the bhoga swarm, and now clearly agitated it moves up quickly, engulfing most of us. Lucius steps out the far side and attempts begins shouting down the Hunger, but the swarming beast pays him no heed. It continues to pound us now that we are inside it and I lose consciousness again. [For a third time Aldrick calls on Asmodeus’s order, and the Hunger clatters to the ground, dispersed. Lathader revives me yet again]. Again I come to with Lathander’s hands on me, but I immediately sense the change.
The remaining bhoga are skittering away and the carrion storm begins to disperse as well, having lost their central focus. The Hunger has be defeated. But there is something else happening, something far more dangerous. As I stand and adjust my senses to the diminishing swarms I notice the fabric of the rift deteriorating. I can see desolation – not just the Worldwound – but far worse. I can make out swarms of insects surging towards us. It is the far side of the rifts… the Abyssal home of Descari. Beltran realizes what is going on too, being all-too familiar with the rifts, and calls out for us to quickly gather to him. We rush toward him as he begins to weave his magic, and in a flash we are no longer in the rifts…