Betrayal: Thirteen

sabit-betrayal

“The king’s troops will move against at us at dawn,” Sabit said, addressing her makeshift soldiers at the wooden rampart near the village. She stood on the back of a wagon, tall and inspiring in her armor of leather and bronze. Surveying the young bandits and frightened farmers–even the village’s tiny headwoman, Htet, clutched a shaft topped with a sturdy bronze knife–Sabit knew that the day would be filled with peril and death.
“The king’s troops are hardened warriors. They have seen the carnage of combat and will not shrink from it. Make no mistake. They are a mighty foe,” she gazed into the eyes of the men arrayed before her.
“But, they came here expecting to find scattered, frightened men. They came here to slaughter helpless innocents, steal your crops, and seize your children for their slave market. Their numbers are few. They are weary at the end of a long march, They do not know this land. They do not love this land. They do not fight for this land. They have their experience of battle. You have one another, bound in bonds of brotherhood. Today we stand shoulder to shoulder. Today we place our lives in the hands of one another. Today we make our home safe for all of us. Together!”
Sabit thrust her clenched fist in the air as her troops cheered. She listened to the roar of voices, commingled together in their rousing resolve—just as they would fight together in a short time. Just as too many would die together. Just as the survivors would live and thrive together after this bloody battle—she hoped.
“Those assigned to Nerit’s force, follow him the right of the hill. When you hear my horn, circle the hill and crush the king’s troops from the rear. My force on the rampart will be the anvil, yours shall be the hammer. Follow Nerit to victory!”
A third of the gathered forces, including many of Sabit’s most-experienced fighters, fell in behind Nerit. In the pre-dawn twilight, she caught sight of Kehnan’s massive form towering over Nerit as they marched away.
Her plan was sound, she knew. But were her forces capable of executing it? She had no choice. At this point, her life was in the hands of her men. and theirs in hers.
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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: Twelve

sabit-betrayal

“Keep still or the scar will be ugly,” Regida said as she cleaned the wound on Kehnan’s jaw.
“A scar is no matter,” the muscular warrior replied through gritted teeth. “When I return to Bahteel, I’ll have the whole jaw lopped off and regrown, scarless and whole.”
Regida froze at the audacity of the warrior’s words, her eyes wide and round. Three full breaths passed before she squeezed her eyes closed and said, “You are a fool.”
“No fool, Regida, just a man who has seen the secret temple of Taahl, hidden in the city’s catacombs. Just a man who holds the ancient priests in his debt. Just a man who has seen the miracles they make commonplace. Their god gives them power over flesh and bone like the primal sculptor of the world. I have seen men with both legs trampled by elephants stand taller than me by the time the priests had finished their prayers, their useless stumps relegated to useless memory. Injury is of little consequence in Bahteel,” Kehnan said, as if it were a passing comment on the weather.
Regida could not keep her eyes from straying to the empty space where her own right hand might have been if it had not been destroyed by the Onyx Python. She swallowed hard, trying to force down a hope that had not touched her heart in far too long. Forcing her attention back to the task at hand, she pulled a thin spinter of wood from Kehnan’s jaw, the loose grain died crimson from his blood.
She moved to toss the splinter aside, but Kehnan’s voice stopped her, “I would keep that sliver of wood. it reminds me of …” The big man closed his eyes and smiled. “It reminds me of the cheering crowds in the arena of Vert.”*

*–Sabit’s time in the arena of Vert is detailed in Wayfarings of Sabit: Broken Justice

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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/.

Betrayal: Eleven

sabit-betrayal

With a roar of frustration, Sabit swung her spear downward toward Kehnan’s prone form. Mid-swing, she pivoted the weapon in her grasp, striking the warrior’s grinning face with the butt-end of the shaft. The crack of the impact echoed from the half-finished rampart to the stony hill. The greenish-blond wood of the spear-butt bore a smear of crimson as Sabit lifted it.

Kehnan rose to an elbow, his jawline a garish mess of pulped flesh, dripping blood into the dirt. Glaring at Sabit with a cold hatred, the big man spit out the broken remains of a tooth.

“Let this man bear the mark of his defiance plainly upon his face,” Sabit bellowed to the crowd of bandits and villagers. “But the coming battle shall offer him the chance to redeem his wrongdoing. If he fights bravely and we win the day, his crime shall be forgotten in the mind of the queen.” In a low voice, so that only Kehnan could hear, she hissed, “But it shall never be gone from the mind of Sabit.”

The bandit queen strode from the rampart, the tension in her shoulders and the scowl on her face warding off any who would comment on her royal justice. She walked a long time in silence, her stride only slowing once the dappled shadows of the forest fell upon her face. Crouching at a tiny stream, Sabit worked to sponge Kehnan’s blood from her spear.

“You have faced the warrior from your past again, I think,” came Verdandi’s voice. The older woman sat on the bank, dangling her feed in the fast-moving water.

Again he outmaneuvered me, Verdandi. Again he stopped my hand with words. Words! I have yet to meet the warrior that can match me with spear or blade or arrow, and yet this Kehnan opens his mouth and I am disarmed!” The bandit queen flopped onto the packed earth near the stream. She ran her fingers over the loose grain of her spear shaft where Kehnan’s blood had soaked in—the crimson stain of his blood like an ugly wound. “I thought leaving the past forgotten would protect me from its fetters. Perhaps it only leaves me more vulnerable to tricks that I might have learned to avoid years ago. Perhaps I should reclaim my past?”

Verdandi dried her feet and tied her sandals. She shuffled over to Sabit. “The army of the king of Junjai will be here in two days at most. Focus your attentions on that future. The past isn’t going anywhere.” She extended a hand to Sabit.

Sabit smiled and took Verdandi’s hand. Standing, she said, “You are right, of course. The future holds much promise, and much danger. Perhaps the king of Junjai will do me the favor of putting an end to this troublesome Kehnan after all.”

 

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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/.