The square was completely empty for a time during the famine, besides the broken stalls and bottles. And then, the square got an occupant. Sesom used the broken bits of wood to make a small platform on which to sit. The broken shards of glass they arranged in a circle around the box.
Sesom, sat there, for nearly two days before a weak and timid approach by another, dragging themselves to the edge of the sharp circle.
"Excuse me." The voice was feeble. "Do you have any food?"
"The Hand rewards those who return to the old way." Sesom opened their eye. "Do you wish to hear more?" While they asked the question they held out a small fuzzbite fruit.
The other Qwortarian reached out, tentacle trembling. Sesom gently placed the fuzzbite, an oval fruit with a yellow hairy skin on the tentacle. The fruit was fit inside the beak, and the whole beak was pulled inside the Qwortarian's body before they bit down.
While the starving Qwortarian ate, Sesom continued to talk. "Once upon a time, Qwortarians did not seek out other forms for fulfillment, for The Hand chose to make us this way." The other Qwortarian shut their eye, savoring the flavor, the filling of their shrunken stomach. Sesom nudged another fuzzbite in front of them. "Don't you agree that we were much more prosperous when we weren't chasing the best physical form, but rather the spiritual?"
While the tentacle still trembled, the second fuzzbite was consumed much faster than the first. "When we were gracious, kind, and wise enough not to try to act The Hand does?" Two more fuzzbites appeared on the ground in front of the Qwortarian laying on the cobblestone. The glass reflecting the yellow.
"Once you give up the way of shape shifting, The Hand will recognize your dedication.”
The two fuzzbites couldn't fit in the Qwortarian's beak at the same time, but they paused just before using some of their new found energy to make their beak larger. Their eye stalk twisted in thought, before they closed their beak and sucked it inside their body to consume one and then the other fuzzbite.
Sesom pat the other Qwortarian on the back. "So will you join me in renouncing shifting once and for all? To join in the spiritual and moral bounty to sustain our minds and fill our stomachs while the rest of Qwortar gets punished for trying to do better than The Hand at shaping the planet and these life forms, including us."
Sesom held out a tentacle, a line of four more fuzzbites laid out along it. The Qwortarian reached out, eating the fruit as they nodded their eye stalk, grateful tears dripping onto the glass below.
The unctuous Sesom smiled as they scooped the semi-conscious punctured Qwortarian up from the glass.
Fuzzbites dull nerves, and the followers of The Hand found they still grew with the right fertilizer.
Word count: 489