1626, Storm Season, Movement Week, Freezeday.
Very late, or very early, depending on how you look at it, somewhere in Prax, en route to Boldhome. Berra has finished off the walktapus at last. Varanis watched the whole thing from a short distance away, where she was sat on the ground breathing carefully.
Berra spends time in prayer after that, and then gets on with ordering the watch. Every now and again, she stops to spit, which is a habit she has never had before, but other than that, she seems fine, until she gets close. “Alright for just after dawn?” she asks, and her chest heaves painfully, with the words.
Varanis nods. “I can take my turn,” she replies. The words come out sounding hoarse.
“Bastard of a thing, wasn’t it?” The Humakti isn’t closing her mouth properly, just keeping on breathing.
This gets a slight nod. “I don’t understand how it wasn’t dead…”
“It was refusing to separate. I can’t say why, but the spirit was not leaving the body. It wasn’t undead – it was just not dying.”
Varanis shudders, then coughs. “I wish we’d moved further away from that… I don’t want to meet any of its friends.”
“We have to make sure it can’t come back. Now it is dead, but we still can’t be sure. I mean, now it could end up undead. But they’re slow. We know that. We can probably bring them down from a distance if we have to.” Berra shrugs. “And if there are any of its friends, we’ll know how to fight them.”
The Vingan doesn’t look happy about it, but she nods her acceptance. “As you say.” She studies Berra, staring up at the Humakti. “You good?”1Varanis passes Insight (Human).
Berra turns politely away to spit. “I’ll live,” she says, “But I can’t swallow right now. Everything’s a bit numb which I think is good. I took a lot of bad Air into me.” She is answering only the physical, and seems unconcerned by nearly having died. Once more, she is failing to be afraid of death. “You?” Varanis gets a quick once-over too.2Berra also passes Insight (Human) in revenge.
The Vingan is visibly shaken. She tries to shrug it off, coughs again, and rasps, “Fine. I took in some of the foul Air too, but I’ll live. I’ve mostly healed it, I think. Just feels a little raw still.”
“It’s not nice. But leaving it won’t make it better. Best to be on guard by it. We know what alert is.” Other than looking like she just ran too far, Berra does seem fine. “We’re the victors.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Varanis confesses.
There is a tiny, awed head-shake from Berra. “Nor me. And to be honest I’d be happy not to again.”
“Will someone be on with me?” Varanis asks. There’s something about the way she asks it that suggests that she doesn’t particularly want to be guarding alone.
“Best, yeah. We’re going to be here for a while so some of us can sleep after dawn. Valseena needs her bison moving again, and not bowel movements.” Berra starts laughing and stops herself abruptly. “Suuraki, probably. Give him something to do while Valseena’s busy. Unless you want it to be me or Xenofos?”
“It’s fine,” Varanis says with a shake of her head. “The llama-rider is reliable.”
Berra nods. “If Valseena’s bison doesn’t get going, and we spend a day here, you can make yourself a holy space next week, can’t you?”
This gets a look of dismay. “If I have to, yes. But…” She shakes her head and doesn’t finish the sentence.
Berra nods. “Just in case. But we should still be able to make it, if nothing goes badly. We’ll get into Sartar unless there’s a disaster, anyhow.”
“How is Xenofos? I… shit. I haven’t checked in with anyone.” Varanis pushes herself to her feet and starts to cough almost as soon as she’s standing. The fit passes quickly, leaving her flushed. “I should check on them,” she says when she catches her breath.
“All alive. I’m doing the walk-round. But I haven’t checked on him yet.” Berra looks over to where Xenofos is. “You want to?”
“Yes. S’my place to do it.”
Berra nods. “He gets to sleep for a bit, then I’ll watch with him.” Again. Like they did at the start of the night.
“I’ll let him know.” Varanis hesitates, then adds very quietly, “I’m glad we got through that… It would have been a bad way to go.”
Berra nods. “Quick, though. All you can ask for.” She shrugs. “Living’s better. Life’s short.”
Wordlessly, Varanis pulls Berra into a brief hug.
Berra accepts that, rather stiffly, and even pats Varanis on the back, although she does make sure to keep breathing despite the arms.
The Vingan lets her go and heads in the direction of Xenofos.
- 1Varanis passes Insight (Human).
- 2Berra also passes Insight (Human) in revenge.