Famished, you eat into the fruit with abandon.

Too hungry to care about any possible danger, you bite into the unknown red fruit. The skin splits easily, and the sweet juices and pulp flood your mouth. How can something that tastes this good be dangerous? you think as you gather more of the fruits and wolf them down until you are sated.

When you are finally full, your long and sleepless night takes its toll. Making a better shelter will have to wait. For now, the ferns will again have to suffice. You have barely settled beneath their meager protection before sleep rolls over you like a dark wave with a froth of dreams on its crest.

After a timeless time, you slowly come to realize you are no longer alone in the dappled shade of the ferns. The warmth of another body lies against your side. Without opening your eyes you know, by scent and by touch, that it is Atai'aj who lies beside you.

"You cannot stay here. You must seek forgiveness in the Guldaj." When you start to protest, she lays her fingers across your lips to silence you. "The covenant is broken and there must be foregiveness. The breaking of the covenant bears with it a curse. With forgiveness, I will bear you a son and he will be chief. When you return, your place here will be one of honor. Fail, and he will not live a year. Nor will you."

"Why not just stay here? There's food, water, and we can build a shelter. You can have our son here, and we will raise him. Why follow me here unless this is what you wanted?"

"But I'm not here. Open your eyes and you will see."

Opening your eyes is surprisingly hard, as if the lids are weighted. With a great effort, you force your eyes to open at last.

Morning has passed into afternoon as you slept. There is no sign of Atai'aj, no hint that she was ever there.

You grasp at the already-fading memory of the dream, but it is gone. All that remains of it is a new sense of need to find the peaks of Guldaj.

The End

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