Chapter 18: Planning Ahead

With a groan, Desòchu slumped to the ground. His torn palm dug into the fine sand, cushioning the blow but also scraping his open wounds. He panted for a moment and small clouds of his breath wreathed around him. Then, he rolled over and sat up.

“Damn them all to the moon,” he gasped.

His back throbbed from his fresh injuries. Gingerly, he reached back and prodded them. Fortunately, they felt long but shallow, scratches that dug a little deep instead of piercing organs or cutting into arteries. Some of them were already tacky, no longer dripping blood but still tender to the touch.

After a few minutes of inspection, he was happy to see that he wasn’t going to bleed to death in the night. Sand flies, on the other hand, were going to be a problem in the morning.

His stomach rumbled.

He forced himself to close his mouth and breath slowly through his nose. The thin streamers of mist warned him how cold it was. As hot as the day got, the desert was even colder with only the shredded remains of his clothes to protect him.

With a groan, he pushed himself back to his feet and looked around. The crescent moon made it almost impossible to see anything with detail, but he focused on anything that would make it easier to survive the night: rocky outcropping, a cactus he could harvest for moisture, or even a forgotten pile of wood with a handy fire starter.

With a snort, he turned around slowly. His stomach rumbled but it was nothing compared to throb of his injuries and the dryness in the back of his throat.

Right at the edge of his vision, he thought he saw a small group of cactus sticking out next to a small pile of rocks. It was a risky chance, but so was freezing to death in the night.

Without any reason to stall, he headed toward the cactus. “Tomorrow, I’m going to head back into that chasm and find some food and water. If those goats are going to shove me out here, I’ll survive despite them,” he grumbled.