“Rolling down hills tonight are we?” The voice said, as it unstuck its claws from the Pangolin’s scales. “Aren’t you afraid someone will see you? Won’t you be terribly embarrassed?”
Manny was indeed terribly embarrassed, but he couldn’t go red. He was a sort of light yellowy-beige colour. Sometimes he wished he was bright purple, but it would make for poor camouflage. Still, he felt bright purple suited him. He once found a bright purple plastic container that a fertogafer left behind. He cherished it, and when no one was looking he would sing songs to it.
“Um… hi Princess Mellivora”, said the Pangolin. From the other creature’s deep, sniffly, irritating voice, and un-naturally long claws he already knew who he was speaking to, but he had to look up at the big, brutish Honey Badger to confirm it. No one knew why he was called ‘Princess Mellivora’, but knew that the badger had chosen his name for himself. The animals of the Kalahari doubted that Princess Mellivora knew what the word ‘Princess’ meant, but no one dared to bring up the subject.
Princess Mellivora was a honey badger, and true to his reputation, he rarely stopped for anything. If he couldn’t eat it, or collect it, it generally wasn’t worth his time and he’d abandon it for something else. He always travelled with his minions- a pair of Pale Chanting Goshwaks named Min and Ion. They pursued any prey that Princess Mellivora missed, so that nothing ever got away. Princess Mellivora approached everything and feared nothing. He probably knew the Kalahari with its many trails and its inhabitants better than anyone else. He certainly knew how to get the lost Pangolin home. He was incredibly smart.
He didn’t allow fertogafers to see this side of him, but not only was he was pretty handy with a swiss army knife, but he understood the inner workings of a laptop computer and could start his own fires when he was cold. Being nomadic, he had few possessions, but those he had, he carried with him in a small yellow backback with the words ‘Build-a-Bear’ on it. He had stolen it from a juvenile fertogafer. It was always strapped to the back of one of his minion goshawks, causing it to fly most awkwardly, not unlike a spooked Black Korhaan. Princess Mellivora was the only animal in the Kalahari who had his own iPod- obviously raided from a fortogafer tent. Tent zippers were no mystery either. And when no one was looking, he’d sometimes creep into the reception area at Nossob and mess with the bookings on the computer, just for the fun of it. Double booked chalets made his day, as did cancelling the shop’s weekly pie orders.
The Honey Badger knew Manny and his family quite well. In exchange for information about secret Cape Fox den locations, he left the small pangolin family alone and promised not to eat them.
The Honey Badger didn’t admit it, but pangolin really was the one thing he just couldn’t bear to eat. Something about a pangolin’s long tongue just didn’t sit well in the badger’s tummy, or in his mind. This was most confounding considering he loved to eat truck tires, braai tongs and toilet paper. And he had a fondness for sticking bird feathers onto porcupine quills and dipping them into the mud puddles on the road. He called it ‘Princess Melliovra’s specialty feather fondue’. He wasn’t creative and he had very poor taste.
“Well, you’re a long way from home” noted the big, scary honey badger. “Yeah… lions… don’t ask” replied Manny.
The pangolin wasn’t particularly afraid of the honey badger, but he certainly felt uneasy in its presence. He couldn’t bear to think of Cape Foxes.
“Um… would you be able to point me in the right direction?” Manny asked nervously.
“Sure… but you’re going to have to do a little something in return”. Princess Mellivora signalled his minions. The goshawk with the little yellow backpack approached Manny, with a nasty but broken, and extremely tired glaze over its eyes. ‘Those poor birds aren’t even nocturnal…’ Manny thought to himself.
The goshawk shrugged off the little yellow backpack and dropped it in front of the Pangolin. “Open it” ordered Princess Mellivora.