Sabit seized the hand on her shoulder and yanked. Bracing her hip, she pulled the bigger man forward, tipping him off-balance. Controlling his fall by twisting the arm she held, Sabit put the man on his back in the dust of the bazaar. Putting her knee on his chest, Sabit looked down at Kehnan. “Don’t call me ‘Mongoose.’”
The big man laughed. “What else can I call you when you defeat a larger foe so quickly? Let me up and I’ll buy you a meal worthy of your exploits. I owe you for all the millet beer we drank last night.”
Sabit hadn’t remembered buying the drinks. She didn’t remember anything. But how could she ask Kehnan about her memory and the scar without revealing her weakness to him?
Sabit helped Kehnan to his feet without saying a word. Draping a muscular arm over Sabit’s shoulder, Kehnan guided her deeper into the crowded bazaar. The fortune teller’s tent faded quickly from view.
“Who dares to defy death itself?” came a man’s booming voice from the back of a cart. A crowd gathered close, listening to his every word. “Who is brave enough to walk the lightless lands beyond the Buzzard’s beak and return to the world of the living? Who wants to know the glory of the next world and return here to tell us the tale? Twenty bronze gersh and you, too, shall defeat death!”
Behind the huckster, a contraption filled the cart—metal clasps, inscribed stones, globes of smoked glass, feathers of rare birds, tubes and flasks of soot-smeared copper over sputtering candles. At the top of it all, a crude bracelet of beaten bronze revolved over a shallow funnel. A thin fluid the color of sunlight oozed from grooves in the bracelet’s surface, dripping into the funnel. From the funnel, the liquid flowed through tubes, filtered through feathers, warmed in flasks, and finally made its way out of a spout at the bottom of the device. The liquid that emerged was the color of a starless night. A dozen tiny porcelain cups were filled with the stuff, looking like the richest tea ever brewed.
The slowly turning bracely seized Sabit’s attention. The grooves along its surface were harsh and jagged—just like the scar on her wrist. The bracelet itself was oblong and hollow—just like the hole in her memory.
“Who will spit in death’s eye to truly live?” came the barker’s call.
Sabit took a step forward.
Wayfarings of Sabit: Bazaar of Death 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/