What The Broo?

1629, Sea Season, Harmony Week, Fireday


Halfway up Don’t Ask. Session SA3.13.


Meanwhile, after having paused for whatever White Lady reasons were important – possibly a hurt feeling – Maalira gets to catch up with the group on the mountainside..

They have dutifully climbed the mesa – and the sister – known as Don’t Ask, or at least have tried to. There seems to have been a bit of an incident, and the Humakti are gathered around the body of one of their own. Bits of yucky flesh are scattered over the area, there is a strong smell of burning insects, and Lenta is in the process of getting dressed once more.

At least they are most of the way up the slope towards the sacred part. Most of the way. Maybe.

“What has happened here?!” Maalira sounds somewhat aghast.

Berra, who was standing on a rock looking upwards, rotates on a heel. “Maalira. We got attacked by broo. And a dragonsnail.” She points – a particularly large rock that has flame damage is on closer inspection a shell. The smell of burning snail is also present, therefore. It is hard to tell from everything else. Berra does not look particularly messy, somehow.

“I smell… I mean, I see that. Is anyone hurt who can still be helped?”

“I got a bit of a twisted ankle?” She looks fine. “And a bruise?” Berra peers around. “The others are holding a funeral, but I think you might be able to persuade Kofer that letting you heal him’s a duty? He got pretty mashed and Mellia saw to him but I don’t think it’s all the way healed. Maybe.” The shortest of those present drops off her rock, and walks towards Maalira without limping. “We’re still good to see Don’t Ask, but Lenta’s out of clothes and everything’s back at the animals but what we were carrying.” This explains why Lenta is in Berra’s spare trousers, and a tunic with Air and Movement marked on it.

“Why… why is Lenta out of clothes?”

“Alright. From the beginning, we got seen by the broo, some of us engaged the dragonsnail and its rider, some of us – the Humakti who weren’t me – went up front. The dragonsnail breathed hornets, which was interesting, but I was sort of busy at the time. Then Kofer there stabbed one of the broo, and it exploded. You can kind of see from the marks where everyone was, but that injured Kofer, killed Bleujen and the other broo, and scared off one that hadn’t made contact. But Lenta was running forward with Mellia because there was healing to be done. Outside most of the damage, but splattered like a night cart fell on her.”

“Got it.” She turns to look at the others. “I think it would be rude to interrupt the funeral but I will see to Kofer after that. You’re sure your ankle is alright?”

There’s no hesitation at all. “Mellia popped it back in. Whatever had happened, I could still fight on it. There was a bit of a landslide. Have you eaten?”

“Have I… I have no idea.” Maalira tilts her head on its side as though listening. “No, no I haven’t eaten.”

Varanis comes back into view, spots the Praxian and charge over, leaving her Humakti guard to rejoin his compatriot. “There you are! I was beginning to get worried!”

“I seem to be doing that a lot at the moment.” Maalira chews on her lip.

“We didn’t have any luck finding water,” the Vingan adds. “Maybe higher up. No more washing until we find more. Water is now for drinking only until we head back down.”

Berra grimaces. “Still. Could’ve been worse. We could all have been chasing that last one. Varanis put her sword into a Dragonsnail and then cast fire magic.”

Maalira looks a little grey. “Good work,” she says uncertainly.

“It meant it stopped trying to kill us with its three different heads,” Varanis points out reasonably. “And its rider was distracted for a moment or two.”

“Well, that’s alright then.” Maalira looks Varanis up and down. “You’re definitely not hurt?”

She shrugs. “I got blotches, which was briefly uncomfortable and also distracting, but Mellia healed that, thankfully.” She runs her hand over her face, a bit self-consciously, as if checking to be sure.

“Your face looks fine,” Maalira says quickly.

“A bit grubby,” Berra says helpfully.

“I could kick her ankle for you,” Maalira says to Varanis, also helpfully.

This gets a laugh. “I did just say no washing, so I guess I’m stuck like this for now. Berra’s ankle might need a closer inspection, though.” Varanis can’t resist helping too.

“She cannot kick me,” Berra says, happily.

“I bloody could,” Maalira may have muttered under her breath.

The Humakti seems unpenitent, or maybe deaf.

“Anyway,” Maalira goes on brightly, “Berra said something about food?”

The smell of scorched escargot hangs in the air.

“Whatever you’re carrying, get some down you. We’ll be off again soon. I have bread and mushrooms and things if you’re out.”

Maalira looks vaguely down at her pack then back at Berra. “I think I’m out. Bread and mushrooms would be appreciated.”

The Humakti walks with her usual muscular grace to where her pack is, and pulls out a waxed packet. “You’re in love. Cheese. I mean luck.” No blush from her, just a mistake.

Maalira manages to choke on no food at all.

“Thank you,” she says with something of a croak.

Varanis arches a brow at Berra.

Berra does look penitent this time, offering over water.

Maalira sips and hands it back, nodding in gratitude.

“Did you find the herbs you were looking for?” Varanis asks.

Berra unwraps bread, some pale cheese with apricot in it, and several still-fresh mushrooms.

“Yes, enough for now anyway.”

Maalira eyes the selection hungrily.

Berra offers it over with a, “There you go.”

“I… don’t suppose any are good for staying awake?” Varanis asks. She may have had a few good nights at the Nunnery, but the circles beneath her eyes have not faded and from what she’s admitted to, it’s been weeks since she slept consistently.

Maalira looks around and sighs. “How long for?”

Berra drinks water, listening without comment. 1Insight: ||Something has annoyed or upset her, but she is calm – it’s not a thing to deal with now.|| For the record, it was Varanis trying to get Maalira to inspect the ankle.

“A few days. Just until all this is dealt with,” Varanis says, ignoring Berra. “I…” She chews her lip, then finishes, “I won’t use it to stay awake at night. Only if I have a bad night and am concerned I can’t stay awake well in the day. And, you don’t have to give it to me. I could come, make my case to you, and you could decide if it was appropriate. Mellia’s right – I’ve not made good choices in the past around this sort of thing. But her solution is none at all, and …” She glances in her cousin’s direction, then back at Maalira. “Just when it’s dangerous for me to be sleepy if I’ve had the nightmares.”

Maalira nods. “I’ll give you enough for a few days, for the daytimes, but only if you promise that when we’re in safe beds again you will take the other sort which are good for staying asleep.”

Varanis frowns. “Um… thing is… it’d have to be a really safe bed. It’s been a while since any assassins made a play for me, but… I can’t risk not being able to wake up.”

“V’ranis. You’re being a weasel.” Berra corks her bottle.

“These won’t stop you from getting properly woken up,” Maalira says earnestly, “but I take your point.”

She looks worried.

Varanis bristles at Berra. “Why? Mellia, Ernalda love her, has blind spots and this is one of them. I’m willing to let Maalira have full control of the decisions. I just want to know that there’s an option that doesn’t involve me being half asleep when your dragonsnail-riding friend comes back while we’re climbing mountains!”

Maalira takes a tiny step backwards.

“If you don’t like the words of one White Lady, and go to another, then trying to tell her how you’re going to take her advice is weaselly.” Berra stands from tucking away her water.

Maalira takes another tiny step back, although it doesn’t stop her from taking a bite of the food Berra had handed her.

There’s a low growl from the Vingan. “Mellia has biases, Berra! But fine. You’re right. You’re always right. I’m being a dishonourable ass and disappointing you yet again.” When a quick glance around shows that the party isn’t yet ready to move, she signals the Humakti that escorted her earlier. “Going to try looking for water that way,” she tells Berra and Maalira clearly preparing to storm off in anger.

“Please don’t do that thing where … Varanis. Sorry.” Berra gives a sort of smile, with strain suddenly showing.

Insight: ||Ouch. Something broke.||

Special Insight for Maalira: ||Berra’s pretty badly hurt, somehow. She’s covering it, but she knows she just got somewhere dangerous and she doesn’t know where to go. Berra not going into danger is weird.||

Maalira shakes herself then takes a step forward again. “You’re both exhausted,” she says. “Take a moment to just breathe.”

Her friend turns back. She looks at Berra, hesitates, then looks again. “Fuck,” she swears under her breath. “Look, I’m sorry. Both of you. Maalira, I shouldn’t have asked. Mellia has her reasons and I’ll make do. I’ve managed this far. Berra… I’m … I don’t know. I’m so tired and everything’s on the surface and it just pours out sometimes and…” She trails off, trying to take a deep breath.

“You care about each other, you idiots,” mutters Maalira.

Berra closes her eyes, sits down on the ground, and gets her breathing nearly under control.

Insight: ||Varanis is exhausted and has been doing her best to mask it. The nights she got at the Nunnery barely dented her sleep debt. Her emotions are all sitting at the surface and they are a jumble. Her pride’s been pricked, but she’s also suddenly terrified for Berra for some reason.||

Maalira reaches out and pats Varanis lightly on the arm. “I’ll speak to Mellia when we have a moment and see if we can work out a compromise.”

She gets a grateful nod in return before Varanis waves away the approaching Humakti guard and drops to sit beside Berra. “I’m sorry I’m a selfish idiot. Need to yell at me?” she asks softly. “Or… want me to go away for a bit to give you room?”

Berra has her eyes closed. “Gimme a coupl’eartbeats.”

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    Insight: ||Something has annoyed or upset her, but she is calm – it’s not a thing to deal with now.|| For the record, it was Varanis trying to get Maalira to inspect the ankle.