The four would-be assassins stood in the center of the camp, their hands empty and heads low. The other bandits clung to the edges of the clearing like monkeys, torn between curiosity and caution.
Between them stood Sabit, tall and stern. “I was alone—my only ally, a sleeping old woman. I cast my spear aside to face you weaponless. You were four. Your knives were sharp. Your clubs were heavy. Yet, I was victorious. Why?”
The tall girl, whose name was Regida, rolled her eyes. With a resentful drawl, she said, “Because you are an unbeatable warrior.”
“No!” Sabit snapped. “I have tasted defeat, and will choke on its bitter gall again some day. My skill and strength makes me more than a match for any one of you. But four? Had I faced four of you, I would have lost.” She looked at each of them in turn, daring them to speak.
Nerit was the first to find his courage. “But you did face four of us.”
“No,” Sabit said. “I won four battles. Each of you fought—and lost—alone.” She let the words hang in the air. “Your last king did not teach you to fight alongside your fellows. He did not teach you much. I cannot see why you followed him. Even though his magic protected him, you could have run away and been spared the bruises that still adorn your flesh.”
All the bandits hung their heads in fear and shame. Regida was the first to speak. “There are worse things than the bandit king that live in the forest. There is the Onyx Python.”
Sabit turned to the girl, alert to her every word. “Onyx Python? Just what is that?”
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/.