“That silver and black serpent’s hide will yield a mantle worthy of a queen,” Verdandi said to Sabit. The older woman sat next to Regida—recovering from the loss of her arm—in the central lodge of the bandit camp. Dabbing water on the young woman’s sleeping brow, she surveyed the flurry of activity throughout the camp. Several bandits butchered the massive snake’s bulk, cutting strips of pale meat the length of a man. Others built up the bonfire for tonight’s celebration. Still others tended to the minor hurts of their fellows.
A corner of Sabit’s mouth twitched upward at the sight. “The scales are tough. They will serve better to make half a dozen shields than to adorn my shoulders.”
“Won’t the burdens of authority keep you from taking to the road, Sabit?” Verdandi asked.
Before Sabit could respond, Nerit approached. With a swift bow of his head, the young man spoke, “The watchers of the eastern road have spied a caravan crossing the ridge. The wagons fly the standard of the King of Junjai. They should be on the forest road by tomorrow.”
Sabit pondered the news a moment. “Take two groups of seven—spearmen and archers—to greet the caravan. Leave at dawn so you have time to prepare the road. The king of Junjai has taken enough from these people, hasn’t he, Nerit? It is past time we take something back.”
Nerit withdrew, his shoulders back and head held high. Sabit turned to face Verdandi. “I did not seek to lead these people. They have withered beneath the angry glare of a tyrant. Shall we see how they thrive under the light of a different sun?”
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/.