“I told you we should have killed her while she slept,” said a young woman’s voice nearby Sabit.
Looking around, Sabit saw the broad circle of lean-tos of the bandit camp. The dusky red of the sky above signalled the onset of twilight. Verdandi still slept next to her in the center of the clearing, snoring softly. Nearby, four of the young bandits clustered together. The tallest girl, still half a head shorter than Sabit, glared at the spear woman.
Sabit raised herself from the ground, leaning on her spear as her body stretched itself awake. “Be glad your friends stopped you, girl. I have killed men twice your size that came upon me in slumber.”
The girl drew a long knife from her belt of braided hemp. “You are all words. Unlike the late king, you have no magic skin to protect you from our blades.”
The girl stepped forward, keeping her fellows at her back. The others also readied knives and clubs. The girl held the long knife straight out in front of her, its tip aimed at Sabit’s face like an arrow.
Sabit looked at the long spear in her hand. With a wry grin, she dropped it harmlessly to the ground next to Verdandi. Lowering herself into a half-crouch, Sabit spread her arms to face her challengers.
The girl closed quickly. Sabit’s eyes never left the girl’s shoulders. The girl lunged forward, thrusting the knife toward Sabit’s throat. Sabit leaned, the blade missing her throat by two finger-widths. She grabbed the girl’s wrist with one hand and pulled. As the girl toppled forward, Sabit’s other hand struck her hard on the chin.
The girl collapsed like a discarded child’s toy.
Taking the girl’s long knife in hand, Sabit closed on the three boys. Two stepped to the left, one to the right. With a low kick, Sabit knocked the legs from beneath the boy on the right. Before he hit the ground, one of his fellows swung a club in a wide arc toward her head. Rolling to the side, the club whistled past her ear. Sabit punched the boy in the gut. He dropped to his knees.
All that remained was Nerit, the boy she had questioned. He stumbled backward, the hungry leech tattoo twitching beneath his eye. Sabit made a quick lunge. Nerit fell back. Again and again she lunged. Again and again he gave ground, until their fight approached the clearing’s edge.
Sabit glanced over her shoulder. The girl lay on the ground, unmoving. The boy she had punched knelt, doubled-over, a puddle of vomit on the ground before him. The other boy had regained his feet and his knife, but stood motionless. His big, round eyes were locked on Nerit and Sabit. Other bandits watched from the edges of the camp.
Turning back to Nerit, Sabit suddenly switched her knife to her other hand. She lunged again, tipping Nerit off-balance. Sabit stepped forward, coming inside his defense. Planting a shoulder in his gut and standing, she flipped the boy over. Nerit landed hard on his back. In an instant Sabit was sitting upon his chest, the long knife resting on the boy’s throat.
“You are poor fighters,” Sabit said, her voice ringing out for all the bandits to hear. “I have much to teach you.”
Sabit stood up. She looked down at Nerit lying in the dirt. She offered him a hand.
Wayfarings of Sabit: Bandit Queen 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 at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.