Sabit walked at a slow but steady pace along the narrow road. Her black hair and dark brown skin contrasted sharply with the dull beige of the road, the rocks, and the sparse groundcover. She traveled light—apart from her thick cotton tunic and sturdy leather sandals, a long spear tipped with iron served as her only baggage. The weight that slowed Sabit’s steps lay not in her hands or on her back.
The sun sank slowly in the west as the spear woman continued her journey. Many parasangs behind her stood the compound of the Sisterhood of the Lioness, the last place that Sabit had—for a fleeting moment—considered home. Her actions there had accomplished much. She had saved lives, rebuilt homes, and helped the troubled. She had also ensured she would never again be welcome there.
Ahead of her lay the proud city of Bahteel, with its teeming crowds, grandiose finery, and wonder-filled bazaar. None of that mattered to Sabit. She traveled to the capital of Wuqai kingdom for a single purpose: to settle a score with a man who had tricked her. But even Kehnan had once held a tender place in her heart, and Sabit had no appetite for the confrontation.
Stopping for a moment, Sabit gazed at the brilliant pinks and golds of the setting sun. It seemed that her life was like that sky—a blaze of blood-colored fury with only darkness in its future. Sabit realized that with all the world before her, she had nowhere to be. Under the four corners of heaven, there was no home aching for her return. Among the numberless souls whose feet kissed the earth, not a one of them longed to hear her voice once more.
Such depths of despair may explain why Sabit did not hear the approaching donkey until it was nearly on top of her. At the last moment, Sabit leaped to one side while the pack animal leaped toward the other. With a loud cry, the donkey’s rider tumbled to the rocky ground, along with several of the bundles strapped to the beast.
Freed of much of its load, the donkey broke into a gallop. its hard hooves conjuring a cloud of dust as it sped off into the distance. The billows of beige consumed Sabit, clinging to her skin, clawing at her eyes, and clogging her throat. Robbed of sight and breath, Sabit stood for a moment on the knife’s edge between this world and the next.
Then, violent coughing seized her body as the painful work of living laid claim to her once more.
Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller or http://ipressgames.com/fiction/