Brother Heinrix shivered and wrapped his arms around his legs after bringing his knees to his chest. He was thankful for the small crevice in the ground he found last night, for it shielded him from the freezing driving winds. Still, the frozen earthen walls that surrounded him were enough to keep him awake most of the night. That, and his belly.
Heinrix closed his eyes to concentrate: how long had it been since he’d eaten? Five… no, six days. It shouldn’t have been a problem, for he’d fasted before many times. But in all those cases, he had been at the Sanctuary, where it was warm, and where the Brethren could keep watch on him. This place, this frozen land of absolute nothingness, was something entirely different.
Perhaps the pilgrimage was a mistake. Maybe Heinrix really wasn’t ready for it, as Brother Rano Eto had told him when Heinrix announced his plans. He had studied the maps and the books that described the Path of Zer’em for several years; Heinrix considered himself the Sanctuary’s foremost expert on it! He simply had never walked it out on his own, and that nagging fact had always made him feel like a fraud. When he made the decision to walk the Path, Heinrix thought he was prepared for whatever he would face.
He was wrong. And now Brother Heinrix would die on the Path, starved and alone.
Heinrix sighed in resignation and tried to sleep again, hoping death would catch him while he dreamed. When he woke, it was not due to the cold or his stomach, but the sound of scratching. Puzzled, Heinrix climbed up the small wall of the crevice and peeked over the edge to survey the ground around him.
A few lengths away from him was some kind of large creature digging into the hard ground with enormous clawed hands. Heinrix did not recognize the animal, and was now afraid he would soon be eaten by it. But suddenly the creature lifted its hand from under the ground and it contained a pile of mushrooms, which it immediately devoured.
Heinrix leapt from the crevice screaming and shouting like a mad man in an attempt to scare the creature away. It worked, and then Heinrix began to devour the mushrooms himself. He would live, for now.
(The word prompt today was “Eat.”)