Baza stooped low in the sheltered clearing not far off the road. Hidden behind the thick needles of a recently-toppled pine, the makeshift shelter was nearly invisible to travelers on the narrow country lane. Baza’s men, despite their years of tracking escaped slaves, had walked right past it.
“The mother and child slept here, beneath the thickest shelter of branches,” Baza said as he studied the patterns of the brown, dried pine needles. “The man lay against that rock, isolated and alone.”
Striding over to the clearing’s opening, Baza found several stones turned over. The dirt clinging to their tops was still damp. They lay near divots of dark, exposed soil, fresh trails of earthworms still visible in the rich earth. “Sabit, the strongest, slept here at the entrance,” Baza said, running his tattooed fingers through the pine needles. “She slept deep and heavy. Our pursuit taxes her strength. Thieves approached carefully—two of them, I’d say. They seized her bag and broke into a run in that direction. Sabit was hard on their heels. The others followed soon after.”
Baza dispatched one of his men to follow the obvious trail of broken branches and scattered underbrush that marked Sabit’s passage. The slave-catcher himself hurried back up to the winding road. Rushing past his men and their charges, he came to a hard turn in the road where it clung to the hillside. Standing on a rocky outcropping, Baza gazed out over the treetops to the river running through the valley. Cutting through the current was a small wooden boat with four occupants. The rowers fought their way through the rapids with hastily-cut tree branches.
Seeing the tall shape of the lead rower, Baza smiled. To himself, he whispered, “I’ve found you at last, Sabit.”
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/