Road of Woe: Four

The older woman was at Sabit’s arm, speaking in an earnest, urgent tone. “How often have you dreamt of an army to command, Sabit? Is not your disgrace at Ghabar a thorn that burrows and festers in the depths of your heart? How sweet would it be to pluck out that thorn and bury it in Irkalla’s eye?”

Sabit could feel the weight of the old woman’s eyes upon her. All around the army’s encampment, the soldiers of Ghabar raised their heads to await Sabit’s answer. Flickering campfires reflected in ten thousand pairs of eyes—each one desperate for the next words to drop from the spear woman’s lips. In the unnatural stillness, Sabit could hear only her own heartbeat.

“I have been a soldier and a captain,” said Sabit. “I have never sought the mantel of the Prioress.”

“The question was of the future,” said the older woman. “Why do you speak of the past?”

Sabit hung her head. “The past is all I have.”

The panicked cry of sentries rang over the encampment. Sabit looked up to see commotion at the far end of the valley, illuminated by a blood-red moon. A line of armored troops descended on the Ghabari soldiers, bronze blades cutting through their foes like wheat.

How had such a host of soldiers gotten so close unobserved?

The invaders’ battle tactics left no time for the question. A volley of flaming arrows arced through the sky, seeming to set the firmament alight with blazing fury. Tents burst into flames. Soldiers fell as they scrambled to grab weapons. They died in the midst of forming ranks.

Aruru collapsed at Sabit’s feet, a bloody arrow piercing her neck. A crimson river of blood flowed down her breastplate, staining the silver horn that marked her as the Captain of Ghabar. Despite the din of battle, Sabit could not pull her eyes from the horn. So many years had past since her fingers had felt the carved insignia upon its side. So many nights had her lips found distraction in a bottle or the mouth of a lover when they truly longed for the touch of its smooth mouthpiece.

Had enough time passed for Sabit to reclaim the position that once was hers?



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: or