Betrayal: Ten

Sabit stood over Kehnan, her spear at his throat. The big man rolled helplessly in the dirt, dazed from Sabit’s last blow.

The bandits and villagers had walked away from their labors upon the rampart and were now gathered in a broad circle around the two figures. Their eyes were wide with curiosity and fear—hungry to see what Sabit would do to a man who had dared to raise a hand to her, fearful to see what fate she might decree for one whose life was so utterly at her mercy.

The Bandit Queen turned her eyes from her foe to take in the gathered crowd. The villagers had wagered their lives—and the lives of their children—on the hope that Sabit would be a better ruler than the cruel King of Junjai. The bandits—accustomed to the casual cruelties and spectacularly bloody punishments of their previous king—looked upon Sabit with a resigned bloodthirstiness.

The man in the dirt let out a sound that was part-cough, part-laugh. “You had me fooled for a moment, Mongoose. With all your talk about justice and fairness and being a good queen, for the briefest flicker of an eye, I thought you might have changed. But I see now that you are the same savage-hearted beast you always were. You may not remember you past in your mind, but you remember it in your bones, as surely as I do. There is only one way forward for you—I have fought you for my life and I lost. Wet your spear in my blood. Pierce my heart and show all these people exactly what kind of queen you are.” Craning back his head, Kehnan arched his neck in blatant offering to Sabit’s spear tip.

Her face a mask of fury and frustration, she lifted the spear high.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Betrayal is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.

Betrayal: Nine

The ferocity of Sabit’s blow drove Kehnan back a step. A hot, red welt formed on his cheek. The big man grinned. “So you want to play with me, Mongoose?”

With the speed of a cobra, Kehnan launched a roundhouse punch at Sabit’s head. She leaned back at the last moment, his massive fist whooshing past her nose. The miss left the big man off-balance for a moment—the expanse of his body poised to collapse upon her. Dropping her spear, Sabit seized the opening and launched a series of quick blows to Kehnan’s well-muscled side.

Doubling over to shield himself from the attack, Kehnan bent low before Sabit. He took a breath and saw her launch the  quick knee-strike that her knew would follow.  Sabit’s knee struck his hip hard, but after so many years of sparring with her, he was ready for it. Grabbing her raised thigh with one massive paw, Kehnan pushed toward her. Both of the fighters toppled to the ground.

Sabit’s back hit the dusty road with a thud. Kehnan landed hard—his body pressed down on top of her.  Kehnan grinned. “Too bad you don’t remember me, Mongoose,” he muttered so only she could hear, “I remember all kinds of things we used to do in this position.”

Even as she gasped for breath, Sabit launched both hands toward Kehnan’s head. Both her palms struck his ears at the same moment. Kehnan screamed.  Shoving his bulk off of her, Sabit scrambled for her spear. Seizing it, she sprang to her feet, her chest heaving like a bellows.

Kehnan lay  helpless at her feet, still dazed from her blow. Sabit placed the iron tip of her spear against his throat.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Betrayal is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.

Betrayal: Eight

sabit-betrayal

Sabit strode toward the tall wooden rampart taking shape across the king’s road. She had just come from the armory—her armory—where the tireless labor of her warriors had filled her stores with arrows as numerous as the hairs on her head.

A scowl grew deep across Sabit’s face as she approached the wall of sharpened wood—scavenged from the bones of the village itself. “This rampart is in the wrong place! Where is Nerit? I told him to build it on the far side of the ridge, so it would block the king’s troops from seizing the high ground!”

The farmers and bandits working on the fortifications quailed at the fury in Sabit’s voice. From the gathered throng stepped a man, broad of shoulder and taller even than Sabit. “I have seen the king’s troops fight before,” Kehnan said, smiling as he approached Sabit. “The high ground is no matter. They travel with few archers, so it is of little value to them. However, building on the near side of the ridge preserves our most valuable weapon: Surprise.” Kehnan stood so close to Sabit that she could feel the heat of his breath on her face. “You can thank me personally during the victory celebration, just as you used to.”

Sabit’s jaw clenched in wordless outrage. She could feel the weight of dozens of eyes—her bandits and the villagers she had sworn to protect—settled upon her back.

With a sudden backhand, Sabit struck Kehnan across the face.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Betrayal is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.

Betrayal: Seven

Nerit struggled under the weight of the huge timber. Sweat poured off the young bandit as he dragged what had been the rafter of a grain storehouse along the dusty road. The ropey muscles of his arms bulged and throbbed in protest at the crushing burden. With every step, Nerit had to fight to keep his feet. He kept his eyes doggedly fixed on the line of fortifications that he and his fellow bandits were erecting against the encroaching king’s army. Focusing on his goal lent strength to his arms and stiffness to his back.

Then, Nerit’s foot stepped badly on a stone. Ankle askew, knee weak, he fell to the ground, the massive timber set to crush him. Nerit braced for the blow.

It never came.

Opening his eyes, Nerit saw Kehnan holding the huge plank of wood, his massive arms easily cradling the bulk of it. “Careful there, friend,” said Kehnan. “You should aim to die fighting your enemies, not caught crushed by a tool you thought you could handle but proved too powerful.”

Nerit scowled at Kehnan’s bemused smile. He pulled himself to his feet, the maggot tattoo beneath his left eye compressed in disgust. “I am not your friend. The queen let you live, and so I too will spare you. The queen says you will fight by our side, and so I shall let it be. But the moment the queen tires of indulging you, I will plant one of my arrows through your heart.”

Kehnan laughed. “You are young and you wear your passion on your face as plainly as that tattoo. Now that you have told me that you are my enemy, I will never show my back to you. You would do well to hide your true intentions behind a smile of friendliness. Perhaps offer me some wine to dull my skills.”

Nerit had regained his feet and seized the huge timber back from the taller man. In sullen silence, he resumed dragging the beam. Kehnan came up behind him and lifted the tail end of the beam out of the dirt with ease. “Just because you think me an enemy, Nerit, doesn’t mean I can’t be of value to you. I suspect you are as unpracticed at the ways of love as you are the ways of deception. Allow me to school you in the best ways to a woman’s heart. Or, at least, to her bed….”

Kehnan’s booming laughter echoed throughout the gap between the hills as Nerit walked on, his face burning with shame.

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Photo by Fancycrave from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-ancient-ruins-678638/

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Betrayal is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.