Qaansoole climbed a large, gnarled birch tree, the smooth bark offering her hands and feet little purchase as she dangled over the water below. Bow strapped to her back and quiver of arrows by her side, the nimble woman made her way as high as the branches would allow. This tree grew at the curve of the river and offered the best chance to see further downstream, so long as the branches held. One hand grasping the smooth birch bark, Qaansoole leaned out into the void, poking her head through brilliant green leaves to survey the wide river below.
“They are heading towards the canyon, but are not within its mouth yet,” Qaansoole called down to Sabit, who stood, dripping, at the base of the tree trunk. “Their raft doesn’t look sturdy enough to withstand the rapids I see ahead of them.”
“The death of fools will do nothing to restore to me my property!” Sabit snarled. “Is there any clear foot path around the canyon?”
Qaansoole leaned out still further, craning her neck for a better view.
With a sudden crack, the branch beneath her feet gave way. Qaansoole plummeted downward. Instincts honed by a lifetime’s danger spurred her arms wide, her hands nimbly grasping branches wherever they came near. Although each branch snapped in turn, the archer managed to slow her descent before plunging into the water.
The near section of the river was slow-moving, nearly stagnant, and overgrown with a thick crop of reeds. Qaansoole tried to stand, only to find herself sinking hip-deep into the soft, black silt of the river bottom.
Looking around for Sabit, Qaansoole saw movement upstream. The rushes dipped and bent before a large, dark shape surging out of the shadows that clung to the shallows. The archer scrambled to reach the solid shore, but the silt held her fast. Qaansoole was immobile as the dark shape loomed closer and closer.
Wayfarings of Sabit: Pursuit is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller or http://ipressgames.com/fiction/