Pursuit: Three

“Illi, I would not have figured you for the domestic life,” said Baza, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. “How can you stomach the quiet after hearing the cheering crowds in the arena?”

“Those crowds only wanted blood and death,” Illi replied. The big man stepped closer to the slave-catcher, towering over his bald foe. “I have a life in this place. I’ll not let you take it from me.”

Baza lunged quickly, landing two closed fists to Illi’s knee at the exact spot he had hit during their battle in the Magistrate’s house.* The former champion staggered slightly, but refused to fall. With a wide, backhanded swing, he caught Baza under the ribs and sent him flying.

Quickly regaining his feet, Baza circled his massive quarry, looking for a way through Illi’s defenses. Baza struck several times, but Illi’s greater reach kept him from getting close, and the tall man’s solid bulk absorbed every punch that landed. Baza’s ribs and back ached from the strikes that Illi had already landed upon him.

With a loud shout, Baza launched himself at Illi’s throat. Ducking the former champion’s massive fist, he leaped into the air, hand outstretched.

Illi brought both arms in and wrapped them around Baza, crushing him against the broad expanse of his chest. “We will bury you with the other slave-catchers.”

“Not today,” Baza replied, his voice soft due to the arms squeezing the breath from his body. His right arm was still half-free, his hand near Illi’s throat. The arcane tattoos upon the hand began to roil across his flesh, thrumming with power. Even though his single hand could not span a third of the former champion’s neck, Baza laid his right hand on the big man’s throat.

With a sudden gurgle, Illi’s huge arms dropped uselessly to his sides. Baza stepped away from the big man as the former champion collapsed to his knees. Three heartbeats later, Illi fell to the ground, like a massive tree felled by a tiny axe stroke.

 

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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/

Pursuit: Two

The three slave-catchers stayed the night at the crossroads house. They regaled the throng of local farmers and foot-weary merchants with tales of their dangerous exploits. Baza told of the time a wiry, young escaped slave had seized his then-long hair from behind. Lowering his collar, he revealed a thin, white scar along his throat—a constant reminder to keep his head shaved smooth and hairless.

“But what if one grabs you by those long mustaches?” asked one of the farmers.

Baza smiled. “If they do that, they aid me greatly. The bounty for an escaped slave is not reduced if I return them with only nine fingers.” He and his fellows laughed heartily at the joke.

Tafa, the daughter of the master of the house, winced at such a cruel jest. The round-faced young woman with soft, brown eyes, continued her duties in silence. She filled drinking horns and platters for Baza and his men without a flicker of complaint.

Early the next morning, as Taja returned from the well with two heavy buckets hanging from a yoke upon her neck, Baza came upon her suddenly. “You wear your hair as does a woman married but not yet a mother. Yet, I have heard no mention of your husband.”

“He has gone to the town to purchase supplies at the market,” Taja replied, bowing before the slave-catcher so she could shrug the yoke off her shoulders.

Baza stepped close and grabbed the yoke in the two places where Taja’s hands touched it, clamping her thumbs painfully to the smooth wood. Her face twisted in pain.

“I came through the town,” hissed Baza. “None there know you for a married woman. None of the regulars here will speak about your husband. You will show him to me!”

“He will show you himself,” came a voice from behind as a mighty blow landed on Baza’s back. The slave-catcher was thrown sideways, tumbling to the ground. As he rolled and regained his feet, he saw his attacker looming over him: A pale-skinned man, massive in size with a long, dark beard. His right arm bore a tattoo of Verq, the lady of justice.

 

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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/

Pursuit: One

“You’re far from the first flesh-mongers to make their way through here,” the old man said to the three cloaked figures looming over him on the threshold of the common house. “A crossroads house like this sees all kinds.”

“What makes you think we are slavers?” asked the shortest of the figures.

“Your horses are weighed down with too much rope, but you’re too strong to be ropemakers. Your saddlebags smell of the leaves used to dim the senses and bank the fires of resistance in captives,” the old man said as stable boys unloaded the horses. “As I said, you’re far from the first, but be grateful you’re not the last lot to come through.”

“Why?” asked the short slaver. “What became of them?”

“They’re napping,” replied the old man with a wry chuckle. “Nearly a dozen of them—napping beneath the dirt behind the stable.”

The two shorter figures immediately produced weighted clubs from beneath their cloaks and stood on their guard. “You are unwise to threaten us, old man,” said the shortest.

“I do not threaten you,” the old man said, showing his palms to the cloaked figures. “I merely buried them. It was their own quarry that killed them. A small group of tough-looking travelers. Two women—one tall like a tree, one quick like a fox—and two men—one of noble bearing, the other like a mountain on legs—and a boy-child. The big one had a tattoo of Verq, lady of justice, along his right arm.”

The tallest of the figures pulled back his hood to reveal a clean-shaven head, keen eyes, and long, trailing mustaches. “Was one of them called ‘Sabit’?”

 

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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/