The Spirit of Hunger

With the onslaught of an unnaturally harsh winter, came the desolation of the crops and food stores. Sinti had a poor harvest season and deteriorated relations with other tribes made trade negotiations fall through. Worried they would starve through the coming blizzard, a group of hunters volunteered to venture out into the snow in hopes of finding something to eat amidst the snow. The village shaman blessed them with good fortune as they departed into the woods.   Weeks went by and the snow never ceased. The hunters that had left never returned, their wives and children mourning their likely deaths. There was not nearly enough food left to the last everyone for the rest of the expected snow even with the extreme rationing already in place. The village shaman requested for another group of volunteers to go search for both food and the bodies of the previous hunting party.   "It is suicide!" The village cried. "It will bring only more death!"   "At worst, there will be enough food to save those who remain here." The shaman replied. "In war, do we not practice this? Sacrificing a few for the whole? Where do my warriors lie now? We are at war with nature itself, Orloch tests our resolve once again." None dare challenges the words of the shaman a second time. Volunteers arose, giving farewells and receiving blessings before making their journey into the woods.   After several days of cold and hunger, they caught a rabbit, splitting it gleefully amongst themselves. They celebrated a small victory and headed deeper into the woods where they believed they would find their brothers. Another few days, another rabbit. An owl. The volunteers grew certain that they would succeed where the others had not. They only hoped they could find something large enough to warrant a return trip.   It was a few days later that they found one of the members of the previous group, wrapped in a large skin and shivering under a tree. They gathered and built a fire to help warm him and get him speaking again. After a time the man wrapped in the skin looked up and smiled. The volunteers smiled back and inquired about the first group's fate. "Brother, we are so glad to see you!" They said. "We have found food before and we will find it again to fill your belly soon. Where are the others? What happened to them?"   The shivering man lost his smile. "They lost themselves, brothers. The Spirit of Hunger has taken them."   The volunteers fell silent as they had all heard the terrible tales. The Spirit of Hunger claims the lost and starving, turning them into wretched creatures no longer recognizable as Ohrlen. A terrifying savage, a cannibalistic animal.   Their shudders turned to yelps as a harrowing screech crept across the forest floor. It took them a few minutes to reel in their fear and reassure themselves. They were Ohrlen, great and proud warriors of the plains. They were not starving and desperate as their brothers before them. Grabbing their spears, they left one of their number behind to watch their recovered ally before racing off, replying to the screech with their own war cries.   The remaining volunteer turned to his recovered brother by the fire to reassure him as well. What he faced there alone was no longer his brother.   Standing with the wrapped skin falling around their ankles, the creature revealed the hideous body underneath. Grotesquely elongated limbs were only further exaggerated by the pale stomach bulging with what must be a member of the first party. The creature lurched forward, eyes rolling back into its head and jaws unhinging as hot saliva poured onto the snow below.   The once-hopeful volunteer cried as he witnessed this abomination before him. He called out one word, naming the thing that used to be his brother. "Wendigo."       The Spirit of Hunger roams the forests of Tamaha still, waiting for the next starving soul to continue its feast.


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