Hunting the Honey Badger

1629, Sea Season, Death Week, Fireday


Do Not Ask has been freed of both the trollish monsters and the disease spirits that have been troubling her. While others have returned to sleep, Varanis has bound Dezar to her. Now he wants to play with Berra. After Session 4.12 (Spirited Events). Continues from Preparing to pounce.


“That’s the honey badger,” she says with a nod to Berra’s sleeping form. “We should probably let her sleep…”

Varanis watches Berra sleep. She should probably do the same, but Yelm will be up soon and she needs to greet him and the day looms ahead.

BITEY Dezar agrees.

Berra looks so peaceful. Or at least, the lump of her does. And she really does need her rest. Varanis finds she’s ended up just a few steps closer. She’s not really creeping up on the Humakti. And she’d never pounce on a sleeping friend… but. If the Vingan had a tail, it’d be twitching now.

Berra opens her eyes, awake within a few seconds. “Morning?” she says, part greeting and part question.

Varanis relaxes muscles she hadn’t been aware of tensing, a guilty flush creeping into her cheeks. “Um. Not yet… soon. But… are you awake now?”

“I am now, yes.” Berra blinks for a moment and then stretches and rolls upright, bringing her hide with her to keep the rain off. “Sea Season. My mother used to say if I got watered I would grow.”

There’s a self-conscious laugh. “I think this one’s my fault. I can still smell the sheep we were chasing. Speaking of which…”

“Uheyj?” It’s a very rural Sartarite sound, with curiosity, suspicion, and a hint of herder confusion.

“You know the spirit kitten that pounced on you?” She adds, “when you were a badger,” for clarification.

“Yeah? It need help?” Berra looks ready to move.


“Nope,” Varanis shows Berra her teeth in a feral grin. “His name is Dezar and I’m his now. Or… he’s mine. Both, I guess.”

“Oh?” The Humakti does not apparently understand. “You came to an agreement?”

“We’re allied.” The grin grows wider. “It partly happened by accident and then Urdar ya-Mugrim taught me how to finish it.”

Berra’s eyes widen, and then her grin does. She stares joyfully.


“He’s young and in my head and it’s a bit odd. You have no idea how close I came to pouncing on your feet.” Varanis laughs. “He thinks I should play with you and pounce now too.”

“Uh, but I just woke up and I don’t know how to be pounced.” Berra still manages to roll with it. “What if I bite?”


“We bite back,” Varanis replies, her eyes narrowing.

Berra nods. “Uhuh. Say hello to Dezar then for me?”


“He hears you, apparently. He says hello and says you should narrow your eyes and look away.” Varanis’ stance drops, ever so slightly, as if she’s readying herself.

“Alriiiiight?” Berra tilts her head to one side, then rolls her eyes slightly, sighs, and looks away just like a cat backing down from a staring contest.


Her friend blinks then visibly relaxes. “Um. Sorry about that. This is going to take some getting used to. I’m stronger than him, but he’s very embedded in my head.”

Dezar seems satisfied, not taking notice of what Varanis says.

“Uhuh. So you’re feeling him all the time?”

“All the time,” Varanis agrees. “And not just what he says, but what he wants. And mostly, he wants to play and hunt.”

“Oh. Right, yeah. Are we going to have to make time for that? Is he around here?” Berra is calculating again, a soldier once more.

“He’s in my sword,” Varanis says. “And my head. I think I’ll need to learn to co-exist and teach him a few things. But I suspect the part we may need to plan for is me being unpredictable at times until I catch my balance.”

A lot of what Berra is thinking passes over her features. “So your unpredickability’ll be unpredictable. Right.” Innocence radiates from her.

Varanis’ eyes narrow again. She’d flick her tail in annoyance, but she doesn’t have one.


“This morning, maybe I’ll pounce on Yelm.”

“Does it help if he’s hiding behind clouds?”

Dezar is, apparently, slowing down.

Varanis sighs in relief. “I think he’s ready for a nap.” She glances up at the sky, then sighs again. “I hope he can sleep while I’m awake. So… Mellia may need to go to the Nunnery. Disease spirits took some chunks out of her.”

Berra grimaces. “Yeah. I didn’t catch that. We can take her that way, and…” More emotions flit over her. “I can stay while they deal with that, unless it’s going to take weeks. Do we have time to visit more of the Sisters, do you think? Or could we do that while she recovers, to find out what they need?”

“I think we need to speak to the others when they wake. If speaking to the other Sisters is important, I could always take Mellia to the Nunnery while the rest of you push on. Then, when she’s healed, we can rejoin you.”

Berra nods. “I wanna find the one that has the magic for food,” she says. “That’s what they are after.”

“Exactly.” Unrelated to finding food magic, Varanis suddenly blurts, “Did you know your spirit looks like a honey badger?”

“Uh, no? Last time someone saw it they said it was a whirlwind that kept stopping.” Berra looks at Varanis in puzzlement.

“Well, now it looks like a wounded honey badger.”

“Uh, I don’t think I got hurt.” Berra begins to shuffle around under her hide, just her head sticking out, as she gets dressed or at least more dressed for the day. The lower hide she lays on the ground is gettting pretty wet, but at least the Humakti is staying dry. Other than her head.

Varanis watches. While her next words are matter-of-fact, her expression gives away her concern. “You have wounds that aren’t healing. Many of them. I think they are from Ikadz and they are continuing to injure you, even if you don’t know it.”

More puzzlement. “I suppose so?” Berra says, unsure. “Lord D’Val was still worrying about me? You can tell because his feathers sort of stand up at the back of his head when he’s been talking to me… But I don’t think I feel bad.”

“I could see them. Wounds that gape as your spirit moved. I couldn’t tell if they were festering though.” Varanis gnaws on her finger as she thinks. “Have you been to visit the Iron Lord?”

“I see’m sometimes, but I don’t always talk. You think I should?” Berra puts her hide down, having managed to get her cloak on under it, so that at least the lower part of her bedroll is no longer being soaked. “Want me to guard you while you go pounce Yelm?”

“Yes and yes. Ask him to look at your spirit. Maybe he can forge the wounds closed? Or see something I’m not. But, as you are, I don’t know if you’re going to heal. Dezar says you need to lie still and lick your wounds for a week.”

A slight blank follows. “Um, yes. I’m finding hard to slow down, though.”

Dezar purrs in his sleep, having been mentioned.

“Uh huh. But… what are the consequences if you don’t? How good are you to Raven and Eril if you bleed out on the battle field when you could have withdrawn for a time to heal your wounds?” The Wind Lord glances skyward. “It’s nearly time. I’m going to go up there.” She points to the highest point on the Sister that isn’t the altar.

Berra looks up at the slowly-lightening sky. “Take your word for it.” She follows along, casually watchful despite the place. “If my death’s what’s needed, that’s what I’ll do. If I needed to be on the field for as long as possible, he’ll expect me to die out there, no matter what I am to him.” She sounds oddly sad about that.

Varanis growls low in her throat. “Not acceptable. This is a waste. Yes, he’d expect you to fight to the death if that was needed, but this is you bleeding out when the healers are at hand. Eril rested and recovered from his own fucking injuries and he let others help when he needed help. Or do you think I don’t remember whose hand guided the sword that first sent me to Hell?”

“He was alone in occupied Sartar and could remember his name and his geases, and I think that was it,” Berra says. Her voice contains a warning that makes Dezar stir uneasily.

Varanis blinks. “I’m talking about when we did the Lightbringers Quest to bring Kallyr back and rekindle my Grandfather’s Flame. After the Battle of the Queens.”

“Yeah. But the first time it happen, he didn’t. And the second time, he wasn’t resting. He needed my help because he didn’t.” Berra nods towards the sky, and the rise of ground.

Varanis growls her frustration again, but turns on the ball of her foot and explodes into action. It is a matter of only a couple of leaps and she is in place, drawing her sword to begin her salute.

POUNCE Dezar does indeed join in, instantly awake.

The sword dance would make a Humakti proud if it weren’t for the Orlanthi flair. Once again, Varanis pours her frustration into the blade, allowing it to flow out of her. While Humakt’s followers tend to be cold, calculated, and precise in dealing Death, Orlanth’s are a whirlwind of emotion come to life. The iron sword cuts a deadly path through the air as her feet fly.

When she’s done and Yelm has risen above the horizon, she’s flushed and panting, but she looks calm.

Berra has been keeping a general look-out, but she says, “That was really good blade-work,” as well.

“I’m mad at you,” Varanis replies as she leaps down to stand next to Berra. There’s no trace of anger in her voice when she says it. “And worried too, which makes me madder because you dismiss it.”

Berra does the cat thing again – she looks down and away. “I don’t know if I can recover, but I know the best way is forwards. Stopping will kill me. A week would… I can’t do that, not right now.”

Varanis scowls, but replies, “If you say so. Just… if you wake up one night and find me cleaning your ears, it’s because Dezar won out. He’s worried about you too.” It’s possibly the closest Berra will get to an apology at the moment.

“Um, maybe don’t try to feed me fish without warning,” Berra decides. “Le’s go get breakfast inside us.”


“Breakfast is likely a good idea,” Varanis agrees.