What had brought us here? We had woken on our feet, staggering in the pre-dawn. The wood around us was blasted and blighted. Every tree in sight was sick and dying or already dead. The only sound we could hear was a wheeze as though a smith was working a massive bellow. The wind changed then and a smell like a physical object hit us. We were almost felled by the stench like a sapling is felled by a woodcutter's axe. The smell was of some great charnel house or the morning after a great battle. Like a myriad of open graves. Thankfully we had not broken our fast but for a time the only sound was the heaving of many stomachs trying to empty themselves. Once we had recovered our feet dragged us on. The ground got steadily more uneven beneath our feet and soon all the trees were gone. As we entered the clearing before us we saw a misshapen mound bigger than a longhouse. It was brown and green and was the source of both the stench and the wheezing sound. Suddenly our feet were ours to command again and we staggered. Some fled but as they reached the edge of the clearing they stopped with a jerk, spun around and re-entered the clearing.
I led us around the mound to see what was on the other side and realized that what I had thought was a great mound of earth was in fact a great mound of flesh. It had the semblance of an enormous boar. It was badly broken though and all over it's great body were wounds that were the source of the great stink. I would have thought it dead but for the wheezing and the raggedly rhythmic movement of its sides. I stared at it wondering what it was when suddenly its eyes opened. They were proportionally piggy eyes, small and mean but due to the creatures bulk each was larger than my head. As I looked into its mad red eyes I heard it speak in my mind. "Free me." "Who are you?" I asked. "Gouger" I heard it reply. "Where is Varankol the Mangler?" I asked. The monster chuckled weakly, "Mangled. Torn and ripped and scattered beneath my prison." "Your prison?" "This form. I am trapped here in this crippled form. I wish to be free. Bound by curses, a weapon and magic. Destroy this form and allow me to return whence I came." The wind shifted again as a warning and the stench of corruption washed across us. I shook my head. "Never." I whispered. "I do not have that power in me." "You have the power in you to do what must be done. It's easy." It thrashed suddenly tearing up the ground in great spasms of its mighty limbs. It roared its pain.
We took its distraction as our chance to flee. As we fled we heard it roar in our minds. "Free me! I will grant you great power! Free me!" And then silence before one last whispered plea. "Eat me."
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