Betrayal: Eighteen

sabit-betrayal
Sabit watched the Junjai troops rally around their captain. Looking closer, the captain’s armor had changed since the beginning of the fight. The morning sun’s rays showed the licks of flame that danced cross the bronze plates, like a corona of incineration. Sabit had not planned for sorcery—yet, painful experience had taught her that sorcerers bleed as red as anyone else.
“Aruru, what do you make of that aura?” Sabit said, calling the name of her second-in-command from some battle long ago.
The bandit at her side spoke hesitantly, “ I don’t know any ‘Aruru,’ my queen. The captain’s armor looks like it will stand up well to swords or flails, but it’s not solid enough to withstand a solid spear thrust.”
Sabit looked back over her own troops. She could see how the battle had leached all the spirit from them. Each one had a deathly pallor, and blind terror behind their eyes. At least Nerit and his troops would be here soon.
Dropping the silver horn to her side, Sabit lifted the drink Regida had given her to her lips once more. She drew out the last wet, bitter dregs from the skin with an eager tongue. Her stomach clenched at the taste and the world lurched end over end for a moment, but Sabit held it down by force of will.
The sound of the Junjai captain’s voice echoed across the field of battle. Although it was too far for Sabit to clearly hear the words, she could see the words floating in the sky, as though inscribed in blood in the air itself. Kill Sabit and the weak cowards at her side.
The charge came them like an avalanche of bronze-bladed death. The very earth shook beneath their numberless boots. Sabit could see the vulture-headed specter of death soaring above the charging host, hungry to end her life. Beside Sabit, her troops stood frozen and dumb-struck by fear. Their mouths moved, but Sabit could hear no words. For a moment, she saw Regida, the wounded warrior’s face covered with smoking, black tears of shame.
The first troops were over the rampart. Nerit’s men were nowhere to be seen. Sabit slashed a dagger through a man’s throat, the spurt of blood covered her face, a high red arc like a flame of judgment.
Sabit’s foot found a puddle of blood, and she fell backwards. For a moment, she hung between earth and sky, suspended between ruin and victory.
Then, the harsh earth slammed up to meet her, sending the whole world spinning around a single thought: Defeat.

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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: Seventeen

sabit-betrayal
(Content warning: Graphic violence)
“The moment Sabit’s horn sounds, we charge forward and crush them,” Nerit said to his gathered troops, crouched behind the underbrush at the base of the hill. He could see the rear of the Junaji captain’s horse, and the cloud of dust kicked up by her soldier’s charge.
“Sabit will be in no peril,” Kehnan said, squatting next to Nerit, his muscular form looming above the young bandit. “She’s used to tight spots. We’re just here to keep them from getting away from her fury. You would be wise to learn where the true danger lies on a battlefield.”
Nerit turned his back on the battle to face the warrior, the leech tattoo beneath his left eye crinkling in disgust. “That is not Sabit’s plan and you know it. You have misled me once. You shall not do so again. If Sabit herself had not spared your pathetic life, I would—”
A horn blast rang out, clear and bright across the battlefield. Nerit pivoted to face the call. In a loud voice, he cried out, “For Sabit! Charge!”
Spear in hand, Nerit pushed his legs downward against the packed earth to spring toward the needs of his queen. A white-hot bolt of pain arced through him, immolating the sense of his legs in an inferno of agony. Nerit collapsed to the ground, his scream filling with bloody froth before he felt the cold, rocky soil on his face.
“You never learned where the true danger lay,” said Kehnan as he stepped over the fallen bandit. The warrior’s bronze blade dripped with blood. “Be grateful you will not see the fate I’ve prepared for Sabit.”
Nerit saw Kehnan’s powerful swing cut another of the bandit’s deeply in the gut. Was it Sidi, who told the best jokes? Nerit could not say for certain. He could say nothing at all, as he lay, gasping out his last sputters of life. The leech tattoo on his cheek sank into the dark, silent soil.

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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: Sixteen

sabit-betrayal
The battle raged around Sabit like an inferno. The troops of Junjai clawed up the rampart in waves like locusts, bronze blades hungry for the blood of their foes. Sabit’s arms burned from endless spear thrusts—driving her speartip toward the enemy again and again. Each thrust sent the iron spear point glancing off bronze or cutting through leather or, more often, sinking deep into the flesh of her foes.
Even as the pile of her vanquished enemies grew at the foot of the rampart, those bodies gave the Junjai troops higher standing for their frenzied climb to her perch—every one of them burning with greed to be the one who felled the infamous Sabit.
From the left, a scream. Sabit jerked her head to face it. Htet has fallen from the rampart, a long curve of crimson blood welling up from the sword cut to her belly. Verdandi was at the head-woman’s side in an instant, pulling the screaming farmer from the battlefield.
Sabit turned back to the battle before her. Below, three soldiers climbed the rampart as one. The veteran who had trained the green out of these three would have been proud of the identical step they used to top the wall and seize Htet’s lost spot for Junjai. Three moved as one.
With the speed of a mongoose, Sabit thrust her spear at the troops to her side, piercing three throats with a single thrust. Three died as one.
The weight of three corpses yanked the spear shaft from her grasp, but her bandits cheered their queen’s blow. Without delay, Sabit drew the long knife from her belt and turned forward, to face what foes that would dare come next.
No one menaced her. The Junjai troops, still greater in number than Sabit’s forces, staggered backward to regroup. Their armored captain beckoned them away from the rampart.
Now was the moment! They had lost momentum and were off-balance on the field of battle. Now was the time to bring down the hammer.
Sabit brought her silver horn to her lips to sound the signal to Nerit’s charge. The jade inlaid on the horn’s surface was cool to the touch of her hot and sweaty hands. Her chest heaving like a furnace, Sabit let blew on the horn, but the sound was soft, easily overwhelmed by the clatter of withdrawing boots and moaning wounded.
Regida was at Sabit’s side, a small drinking skin proffered in her only hand. Sheathing her knife, Sabit grabbed the skin and drank deeply, barely tasting the melange of strange herbs that infused the watery brew.
When the skin was dry, Sabit tried the horn again. The note sounded clear and true—echoing from the two low hills, it rang through the valley and beyond. Sabit could almost see the waves of sound dancing through the sky—like winged spirits of blue and red—delivering her call for aid to the highest heavens. Would anyone hear her cry for help?

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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: Fifteen

sabit-betrayal
The furious roar of the charging troops washed over the rampart like a wave. This is the moment when Sabit would know whether her assortment of outlaws, drifters, farmers, and petty craftsmen had the courage in their bellies to stand like stone before the charge, or would break like a pile of sand before the tide.
The bandits that had seen Sabit face the Onyx Python roared back at the encroaching troops, their defiant fury kindled by a lifetime of fleeing the king’s standard, slinking past the haughty looks of the king’s guards, hiding their tattooed faces from the eyes of all. They would rather die proud than live in fear and filth.
Next to them, stood Htet, the head-woman of the village. Tears of fear streamed down her face. The makeshift spear topped with a bronze kitchen knife shook in her hands. But her feet did not move from her spot. Every villager looked to Htet and held their place, their fear of disgracing their fellows greater than the fear of death. Better to have no grandchildren than to tell them the tale of how you fled when your village needed you.
Behind the lines, Regida and Verdandi stood with bandages and medicines and buckets of water. A cool autumn dawn could quickly become a hot and thirsty autumn morning. Regida jangled from side to side, the stump of her arm twitching with her desperate, hopeless desire to lift a bow and fight.
In that instant, Sabit knew she had strength at her side and at her back. She had peril before her, but allies soon to arrive. She glanced down at the charging troops. With a practiced eye, Sabit chose which breast would first taste her iron spearpoint.
And then they were upon her.

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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/.