Sabit watched the Junjai troops rally around their captain. Looking closer, the captain’s armor had changed since the beginning of the fight. The morning sun’s rays showed the licks of flame that danced cross the bronze plates, like a corona of incineration. Sabit had not planned for sorcery—yet, painful experience had taught her that sorcerers bleed as red as anyone else.
“Aruru, what do you make of that aura?” Sabit said, calling the name of her second-in-command from some battle long ago.
The bandit at her side spoke hesitantly, “ I don’t know any ‘Aruru,’ my queen. The captain’s armor looks like it will stand up well to swords or flails, but it’s not solid enough to withstand a solid spear thrust.”
Sabit looked back over her own troops. She could see how the battle had leached all the spirit from them. Each one had a deathly pallor, and blind terror behind their eyes. At least Nerit and his troops would be here soon.
Dropping the silver horn to her side, Sabit lifted the drink Regida had given her to her lips once more. She drew out the last wet, bitter dregs from the skin with an eager tongue. Her stomach clenched at the taste and the world lurched end over end for a moment, but Sabit held it down by force of will.
The sound of the Junjai captain’s voice echoed across the field of battle. Although it was too far for Sabit to clearly hear the words, she could see the words floating in the sky, as though inscribed in blood in the air itself. Kill Sabit and the weak cowards at her side.
The charge came them like an avalanche of bronze-bladed death. The very earth shook beneath their numberless boots. Sabit could see the vulture-headed specter of death soaring above the charging host, hungry to end her life. Beside Sabit, her troops stood frozen and dumb-struck by fear. Their mouths moved, but Sabit could hear no words. For a moment, she saw Regida, the wounded warrior’s face covered with smoking, black tears of shame.
The first troops were over the rampart. Nerit’s men were nowhere to be seen. Sabit slashed a dagger through a man’s throat, the spurt of blood covered her face, a high red arc like a flame of judgment.
Sabit’s foot found a puddle of blood, and she fell backwards. For a moment, she hung between earth and sky, suspended between ruin and victory.
Then, the harsh earth slammed up to meet her, sending the whole world spinning around a single thought: Defeat.
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Wayfarings of Sabit: Betrayal is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.