Into the Rift

Once more into the Rift . . .
Led by the elf prince, Adros, a group of heroes returns to the Dead Worlds in a last ditch effort to find the living. But instead of survivors, they encounter beings more ancient and evil than even the foulest of Dead Gods.
Meanwhile, the Goddess Alana begins her own quest -- a journey back to the world of her greatest failure, the elven home-world, the land where she left her true love die. There, she must face her greatest fears -- and an enemy more powerful than anything she has ever known.


11. 11

On heels and toes of exposed bone she walked across the melted land.  Runoff from the passing rain washed over the ground and around her feet . . . burning, corroding, etching the rocky ground and eating away the soft padding of her bare soles.  Rivulets formed in the rock, branching out, combining together; ever shifting and shaping the contours of the alien world.  Her blood mixed in with the flow, each step turning the water black with her infected blood.  The cloud of acid rain had moved to the horizon, staining the blue sun piss-yellow.  A hazy mist yet clung to the nearby air, enough of sulfuric acid that it had begun breaking down her flesh; at first it covered her in blisters, but now, after such prolonged exposure, even her Plague enhanced flesh was sloughing off her bones. 

As they scoured the land, the streams of orange all had one destination – a destination she shared -- the distant shoreline of towering cubes.  With her eyes melting in her head, she struggled to keep focus on the gleaming cubes and the body of water beyond, where she hoped to become one with the grey ocean, allowing the acid waves to wash her away. 

But she was beginning to doubt she would make it there . . .

She was dying . . .

So be it, she thought, welcoming her death no matter where it occurred.

She collapsed to the ground, the acidic water flowed around her, dissolving her body.

There was pain . . . but in her state, physical pain was a recognition of one’s injuries.  She felt loss as her body burned away, but the sensation was nothing compared to the pain of the Hunger.  It ripped her mind apart, her every cell burned with the need to feed.  It drove her mad, ceaselessly demanding that she return to the strange triangular cave to feed upon her allies – should they yet live.

Kendal was strong . . . and thus far had resisted its call.

She had always been a fighter.  As a child, the Plague came to her home-world taking her friends, her family and all that she had ever loved.  She alone survived, fighting her way to the Gate endowed with a rage beyond her control and a power she had yet to comprehend.  For years she hid in the Dead Worlds, alone and hunted.  She survived, learning to harness her rage and power to create an unstoppable weapon.  When at last she was found, she was a sparse wisp of humanity; her mind feral, fueled by rage; her body rail-thin, hardened muscle over bone, with nothing but the Oneness to nourish her over the years. 

Yes, she was strong – but through all the trials in her life she had fought no greater battle than to resist the Hunger.  By will alone she forced her body to move as far away from the triangular object as possible.  She had hoped it would get easier to resist the farther she journeyed from the cave, but even from this distance she could still smell them, her allies; their freshly spilt blood there for the taking, waiting for her to lap it up.

And Alicia . . .

She shuddered at the thought of what she had done to the poor girl – partly in revulsion, and partly in memory of the ecstasy her blood had brought her.  It was a minor consolation that she had spared the girl her own fate; a bit of kindness far too small for the evil she had done to her.  At least Alicia was free now . . . Kendal had made certain she would rise no more. 

Her death was a pity, she had always been a kind girl, so sweet . . .

So sweet . . .

The taste of her still lingered on Kendal’s tongue.  She never dreamt she could feel so fulfilled.  Strengthened by Alicia’s blood, Kendal was able to fight her way to freedom.  The metal giants may as well have been made of paper as she tore through them to begin her death march.

But even so, the power of the Virus was purely physical, without her inborn mental strength, she would never have been able to resist the Hunger and leave the cave far behind.  Every step was more taxing than the last, not merely because the very ground was eating away her feet, but the weaker she grew, the hungrier she became.  Now, she was utterly spent . . . starving.  Even if she had the physical strength to push on, she lacked the willpower to resist it . . .

She accepted the fact that this was as close to her destination as she would ever get. 

If somehow she should ever face her friends again . . . she would be helpless to stop herself from satiating her new desire.

My love . . .

She closed her eyes, picturing his face; so dour, defensive to all but her.  His smiles so rare, and for Kendal so cherished in that they were reserved solely for her.  Still, even visualizing him smiling, all she wanted his heart . . . and not out of love, but to rip it from his chest and clamp her jaws upon the bloody organ before it completed its last beat.

Grimly, and for the first time in her life, she accepted defeat.  The Hunger had her, body and soul.  Even her love for Ollius wouldn’t be enough to stop it now.

She lifted her head from the ground.  Flesh dripped from her face . . . the ocean still so distant.  No, she would never make it there . . .

She gave in to the Hunger.  It twisted her head back to the pyramid . . . her bloody hands reached out, pulling her back from where she came.  She made it less than a foot before all her strength vanished -- even the Hunger unable to drive her decaying body onward.

Good, she managed to think within her bloodlust.

Her head fell down upon the hard, wet ground as if it were a pillow.  

As Kendal closed her eyes, she prayed for death . . . for peace.

. . . It never came, her body continued to slowly deteriorate but death was denied to her.  She drew ever closer to the Void -- the Hunger growing forever stronger. 

Instead of finding death . . . Kendal became it . . .

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