Sleeping Lion-cubs

Berra walks with a bounce in her stride, although it is jumpy rather than relaxed. She is looking around her a lot, and takes Varanis down to the river, a little upstream of the camp but inside the main line of sentries. There she goes from watchful to exhausted in a moment. “I shouldn’t have put my voice into that talk with Venna. I’m sorry.”

“Bah. She provokes the worst in us at times.” Varanis scowls. “Well, in me anyway. I … I wanted to blast her.”

“I messed up.” Berra’s voice is quiet, a little slurred. Exhaustion has settled onto her suddenly.

“Let it go. I have.” Varanis looks at her closely. “Holy Vinga! Berra, you need to be asleep. I need you recovered by Yelmrise. We have to head to the Tovtaros.”

Berra nods, and with her eyes half closed turns to walk back. “I asked her about rewards.” She veers closer to Varanis.

Varanis offers Berra an arm, though her expression suggests she is uncertain of it being accepted.

Berra takes the arm, but goes further. She leans in towards Varanis, as if she has forgotten that one does not simply go to sleep on someone else. “When we come out of the city. When we’ve fought.”

Varanis nods, perhaps assuming the Humakti will feel the movement. “Berra,” she begins in a small voice, “I wasn’t going to forget to reward you all. You know that, right? I’m trying to be a worthy leader.”

“I know,” Berra says. She heaves a sigh. “And if we fight well, you’ll see it back. I told her she was doing it to. Um. Thing. Told her why she was.”

“I’m sorry. You’re tired and I should not have said that to you. You need to be sleeping, not managing my fretting. Let’s go back and tuck you in. You can take over my hides if you want. No one will disturb you there.” Unspoken, but still noticeable, is the added statement: ‘because I won’t let them.’

“I need to.” Berra does not move, possible because her eyes are closed and she is dozing.

“You going to make me carry you? That might start some interesting rumours, but I’m willing to give it a go anyway.”

Berra sighs, opens her eyes, and rocks on her feet. “I had to be one of the dancers last night, and then it’s day again.” Too long awake. She looks like walking is beyond her, even though she is standing again.

Varanis mutters something. She glows blue briefly, then with no other warning, she scoops the armoured Humakti into her arms, cradling her against her chest, like a small child. “Let’s go.” ((Pass Strength spell. You know – that spell I always forget I have.))

Berra struggles for a moment, but it is a token refusal, and she nestles up against Varanis, still trying to report. “She probably doesn’t have the loot to pay us with but she thinks she’ll have it. An’ the city’s going to get messy. We’ll need to make sure um….” and then she is asleep.

Varanis looks fondly at her, then makes for camp. She staggers at one point, almost dropping her burden, but mutters the words of the spell again and recovers. When they return to camp, she quietly asks Lenta to open the tent flap for her, reassuring the Ernaldan that Berra is fine, just exhausted. Inside, Varanis begins to strip Berra of her armour, carefully and slowly. Before she begins, she puts Berra’s sword in her hand to reassure the sleeping warrior that all is as it should be.

Berra wakes only briefly, with the confused look of someone who is not going to remember this in the morning, to stand obediently still while Varanis takes off the leather curaiss. Then, sword in hand, she sleeps through the rest with a look of bone-deep exhaustion.

Shooing Lenta out, Varanis follows, closing the tent flap behind her before taking a seat on the ground just outside.

Varanis comes in several hours later, trying to be quiet.

By now, Berra is curled up in a tiny ball, her swords up by her head. One hand is close to Wind Tooth, and the other is her pillow. She is taking up about half of the sleeping roll. The armour is where Varanis put it, helmet on top.

Noiselessly, the Vingan makes her way to her packs and begins to dig deeply, searching for something.]

Berra whimpers, in her sleep.

Varanis glances in her direction. a look of worry coming across her expressive features.

The little Humakti’s hand is creeping towards her sword. Her own expression is miserable. Of course she is reacting with violence. Of course.

Ending her search, Varanis shifts over to the sleeping hides. “Shhh. Berra. You are safe,” she murmurs softly.

Berra’s hand finds her hilt, and she sighs, and a moment later opens her eyes. “Hello,” she says muzzily.

Varanis drops onto the empty end of the hides. “You haven’t slept long enough. You can go back to sleep.”

“I can,” Berra agrees. “How’s Haran?”


Berra blinks, confused. “Didn’t we go to stay with Yehna?” She is not very awake at all.

“I think you’re still sleeping, Berra. Close your eyes. We’ll talk when you wake. Rest.”

“Haran’s lost,” Berra says. “I think I…. She is fighting to wake up, and then suddenly is awake. “Oh. I was dreaming.” Beat-pause. “Right?”

“You were,” Varanis agrees. “Go back to the dreams?”

“I will.” Berra leans over to grab for something, and then stops. “Did I pile up my armour? Where’s my belt?” She looks about ready to wake up rather more.

Varanis gestures towards the armour, neatly stacked up. “It’s all here. You were mostly asleep when I removed it. I made sure your sword was within reach.”

Berra nods, finally taking things in. “Right. Thank you.” She lies down properly, still awake, but no longer in danger of getting up. “How is it out there?”

“Do you remember getting here?” Varanis asks before answering.

Berra shakes her head. “I must have been well out. I was saying sorry, and then I needed a few moments to nap. And I’m here. But no disasters or I’d be woken up, right?”

“No disasters. I… well, I carried you here and tucked you in. And it must have started some kind of story, because there were concerns about your health. So, after you have slept more, you might need to put on a good show of being your usual loud and robust self. Don’t worry about it now. Later.” The last is added in a firm voice.

Berra grins. “They don’t know what I am. I’ll punch a bison or something, if I have to. You want me to sleep now, right? Not wake up and talk? I’m fine to?” Other people’s opinions seem to have bounced off her, possibly because nobody has said anything to her face. She still makes that one last check that all is well, however.

“Sleep. I can stay or go as you want to. Weirdly, I have nothing urgent just now.”

“How long has it been?” Berra settles down.

“A few hours. Yelm is getting high.”

“Oh. Right. Not yet night then. I’ll probably wake up when it is.” Berra nestles into her bed again. Her bed. Hers.

“Sleep well.” Varanis stays where she is for the moment, taking up the foot space.

Berra edges over to one side of the bed, to make room, as she falls asleep.

Looking at the space made by the tiny warrior, Varanis catches herself yawning. “Perhaps just a little while.” She stretches out and is asleep almost instantly.1Critical on Stasis, failed Movement. Zzz!

At some point in the night, Berra puts an arm around Varanis.

Varanis opens her eyes in the darkness. She tenses, trying to get her bearings.

There is a warm arm, someone snuggled up against her back, and the sound of breathing over somewhere else. That should be where Lenta is, but… the arm. There is an arm around her ribs.

Gingerly, she tries to lift the arm enough to wriggle out.

The arm retreats. The owner is well trained.

Varanis twists around, trying to work out who is in her bed.

It is dark in the tent, of course, but a little light comes through, from the Small Sun, the Red Moon, and the stars. That is a small woman, the visible side of her head shaved. Broad shoulders. No details, in the dim lighting, but those things can be made out.

Varanis relaxes. Berra. It comes rushing back to her. Then she realizes that she has to have slept much of the afternoon and all of the evening away. She mutters a curse under her breath and extricates herself from the sleeping hides as quietly as she can.

She almost manages it, but fumbling around in the darkness, looking for footwear and a cloak means that she’s not as quiet as she’d hoped.

Berra sleeps on, making up for the second missed night, until cloth has been rustling for a while. Then she asks, “M-m?” A rising tone. Still too sleepy to wake up to ask.

“Go back to sleep,” Varanis whispers.

“S’it late?” Berra shifts her head. “M’awake.” It is technically true.

“Dunno yet. Sleep,” Varanis orders. “I’ll be back soon.”

“I should do the midnight walk.” Berra does not get up, however. She pulls her hide – Varanis’ hide – over her again, so only the top of her hair pokes out.

With that, Varanis slips out through the tent flap to do the walk herself.

Berra goes back to sleep. If Lenta heard anything, she stays silent.

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    Critical on Stasis, failed Movement. Zzz!