The streets of the village were empty as Meriama and Sabit entered. Even the tight-bellied dogs and ravenous goats kept themselves outside the stockade, despite half a dozen breaches in its wooden expanse.
“See here,” Meriama said, pointing to the wooden lintel above the doorway of an empty village hut. Crudely carved into the wood was a series of swirls, like those painted in red and yellow ochre upon the sorcerer’s skin. “These marks are what allowed the sorcerer to make thralls of everyone in this village. A tiny spell that gnawed upon their soul every time they walked beneath it. We’ll need to chop it out of the lintel for the house to be safe to return to.”
Sabit studied the eldritch carvings for a moment. The dread of her time in the thrall of the sorcerer taunted her from the edges of her memory. “Can even a bronze axe cut down such foul sorcery?”
Meriama smiled at Sabit. “As long as we cut every bit of it away, and burn the chips, the magic is undone. The Sisterhood and I have cleared four villages ourselves. When the king’s men do the word, they hide the marks under a hasty layer of black tar. When the sorcery rises again, they find me a convenient scapegoat.” She handed the heavy wood axe to Sabit. “This wall is thin, let me brace it while you chop.”
The head of the Sisterhood held the far side of the lintel with her one good hand, bracing her body for the impact. She turned her head away from Sabit to avoid any flying chips of wood. Her dark hair fell away from her neck, exposing it to Sabit’s gaze.
Sabit thought how easy a killing blow would be, even with the still-healing wound at her shoulder. She thought of the vows she had made to Kehnan—how she had sworn to bring back Meriama’s head and claim the reward of the king of Bahteel. The neck of her quarry lay unguarded before Sabit. There was no one around for leagues.
With both hands, Sabit lifted the axe.
Wayfarings of Sabit: Sisterhood of the Lioness 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/