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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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/.