Isle of the Wicked: Twenty-One

Sabit’s every move was agony. Raising her leg felt as though the muscles were tearing apart. Sabit rose to her knees despite the pain. Stretching her arm was like plunging her hand into a raging fire. Sabit grit her teeth and reached for her spear.
Stepping on the fallen spear, the priest stood before Sabit, his long knife raised high. There was a great rushing, roaring sound from a side passage.
Although her shoulder spasmed painfully with the movement, Sabit punched the priest in the gut.
A roiling wall of water surged through the mouth of the passageway, inundating the room. Half the torches were quenched instantly. Water was thigh-deep and rising. As the seawater overtopped the pedestal of Batuul, there was a shriek of rage and contempt that all present felt in their very bones.
The cry faded beneath the water—as did the sorcerous pain that had consumed Sabit. Grabbing her spear, she saw no sign of the priest. The water was at her waist now. Moving toward the passage where the rockslide had been, Sabit saw Wensa at the entrance to a nearby passage, struggling with something under the water.
Striding over, Sabit seized the mass from Wensa’s grip and pulled Allamu from the water, his unconscious form heavy in the seawater.
Together, Wensa and Sabit pushed through the chest-deep surge toward the base of the rockslide and began to climb.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Twenty

Allamu made his way in complete darkness. An awkward, crouching half-crawl allowed him to follow the trickle of water he had heard earlier. Shouts from the central chamber echoed through the twisting passageways. One of the voices was Sabit’s, but Allamu knew he could not find his way back to help her, even if he attempted to return. His only route was forward.
In a short time, Allamu found a wall of tightly-packed stones where cool water seeped through the tiniest of cracks. He could almost feel the ocean on the other side of the rubble, aching to enter the tunnels. The sea had rejected Allamu’s death once. Would it spare him another time?
Sabit’s scream of pain echoed in the distance.
With the long knife, Allamu began to pry the wall apart, stone by stone.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Nineteen

Sabit twisted the priest’s arm. The priest folded to his knees. The long knife clattered to the ground.
“Take your hands from His Honor,” Melcior shouted as he tackled Sabit from behind. The two hit the ground hard and rolled, struggling. The priest crawled around Batuul’s pedestal, seeking the fallen knife. Wensa yanked her arm free from one of the acolytes, striking the other upon the ear.
The priest had circled the entire pedestal before his fingers found the handle of the long knife. It did not budge—an unshod foot stood upon the flat of its blade.
“You may feed your god all the sins of the world, Your Honor,” Sabit said, “but only demons hunger for blood.”
Glaring up at her, the priest said, “I would have made you more than a hunter of meat. But it seems that you are fit for only the bloodiest of work.”
The priest pronounced an arcane syllable. Pain exploded across Sabit’s body, as though her very skin were on fire. The spear woman collapsed to the ground, writhing in agony.
The priest lifted the long knife.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Eighteen

Wensa struggled to draw breath as she stumbled to her feet. Ignoring the pain in her arm, she struck at the priest’s hand holding her hair. His grip was like iron.
Melcior opened his mouth to question, but was silenced by a glare from the priest.
“Your Honor!” Sabit choked out between coughs. “Stop!”
The priest turned to the spear woman. “This woman’s ancestors imprisoned Batuul beneath these dark spires—confined his power to this wretched wasteland. Batuul hungers for freedom that he might consume the sins of others just as he has consumed yours, hunter-of-meat. Surely, you cannot stand in the path of Batuul. This woman despises you. Her blood is her only value.”
Sabit stood and considered the priest’s words as her breathing grew more steady. The dry, stale, oppressive air of the chamber pressed in on her, like the weight of long-forgotten sins. The anguish that the priest’s words had lifted from Sabit’s heart on their first meeting seemed to hang in the air itself—as though a misplaced breath would draw its pain back into her chest. The green feathers at her wrist were weighed down by dust.
Still struggling to breathe, Wensa managed to grab the priest’s hand and dig her fingernails deep before two acolytes seized her arms. They forced her to her knees before the shroud-covered pedestal. The priest raised a long knife into the air.
“No,” Sabit said, seizing the priest’s raised hand. “You will not.”

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Seventeen

Following the crash, the passage mouth vomited a cloud of dust into the central chamber. Torches instantly extinguished by the wind, the chamber fell into darkness filled with the sound of coughing and the skitter of settling rocks.
Melcior relit the first torch, one side of his face scorched badly. Shambling toward the center, he helped the priest to his feet, and continued to check on the fallen acolytes. Some had been bruised, but none were seriously injured. Batuul’s low pedestal sat undisturbed.
As Melcior approached, a dust-covered form coalesced from the passageway at the dust cloud’s center. No, it was two figures—one taller than the other—clinging to one another as they made their way over piles of rubble. The taller figure leaned on something, perhaps a staff or spear.
“Sabit?” Melcior said.
Stepping further into the light, the dust-covered spear woman let out a powerful cough. The torch flickered. At her feet, a smaller woman wearing the garb of the local island fishers knelt heavily on the smooth stone floor. A gash in the dark skin of Wensa’s arm tripped blood upon the floor.
A rumble came from the center of the chamber. This was not the sound of stone upon stone. This was something else entirely.
“Yes, Batuul,” said the priest. “I hear your hunger. I smell your repast. I sense your vengeance is at hand.”
The priest approached Sabit and spoke to her, even as she struggled to breathe clearly. “You have done well, hunter-of-meat. You have brought Batuul that for which he hungers. His gratitude shall be grand. But, first, he must drink deeply of the blood of his captors.”
Seizing Wensa by the hair, the priest dragged her toward Batuul’s pedestal.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Sixteen

“You should know that when Sabit learns what you are actually doing, she will kill every one of you,” Allamu said as he slowly walked down the passageway, Melcior’s dagger perilously poised at his throat.
“Sabit is a powerful warrior, and I am glad that I saved her from her cruel, impending death,” Melcior said. “But she is only a woman. And His Honor will allow no mortal—woman or man—to question the might and the virtue of Batuul. No one can resist Batuul’s call. No one. Soon you will see for yourself. We are here.”
The narrow passageway opened into a wider chamber, with torches set around the circumference. Several acolytes labored over paintings on the cave floor. In the center, a single figure appareled in ceremonial robes, stood before a stone pedestal. His flinty-eyed gaze was fixed on the silken sheet draped over something upon the pedestal.
“Your Honor,” Melcior called. “I have brought another stranger laden with sins for Batuul to devour.”
The central figure looked up, his eyes flashing even in the dim torchlight. His pale visage was drawn with deep furrows of disgust as his gaze fell upon Allamu.
At that moment, there came a massive rumble from another one of the side passages, like an avalanche. All eyes turned toward the noise.
Allamu seized on the distraction and smashed the back of his head into Melcior’s chin. The captain’s grip loosened and he staggered back a step. Allamu swiped the long knife and swung the burning torch at Melcior. The seaman fell.
Allamu ran back the way he had come, vanishing into the darkness of the passage.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Fifteen

“You have such long legs, you ought to be walking faster,” Wensa snapped at Sabit after bumping into the spear woman yet again.
Sabit led the two of them through the labyrinthine paths between the Wicked Rocks. Above them was a twisting slice of blue sky, but all sides were vast expanses of warped black stone.
“These paths are treacherous,” Sabit replied. “You’ll do no one good to trigger another rockslide. There is no need of urgency. Melcior knows the tunnels well. He will lead Allamu directly to His Honor and the presence of Batuul.” Sabit slowed her pace further as one side of the path fell away into a narrow crevice yawning between rocks. No sign of its bottom could be seen.
“That is the need for urgency!” Wensa said, a look of disgust on her face. “A god who kills birds to merely flaunt its power is certain to be a jealous god. Allamu is blessed by the sea. This god of yours will devour more than his sins. Move!”
Wensa shoved Sabit forward. The motion of their feet dislodged several of the tightly-wedged stones that made up the narrow pathway the two women trod. The loss of those stones caused others to tumble.
In moments, the pathway—and the two women upon it—vanished into the darkness of the crevice.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Fourteen

Allamu held the torch as Melcior led the way, deeper into the inky depth of the caverns. The soft splash of sandals through shallow water seemed very loud in the stillness.
“You have ventured a long way from home,” Allamu said, slowing to examine a mural covered by dust and webbing. “The sea voyage alone must have taken weeks.”
“Dangerous travel to a strange, barren land is a small price to pay to see the glory of Batuul in person. This island is where Batuul has slumbered, so this is where it was needful to come,” Melcior replied. “Once His Honor feeds your sins to Batuul, you will understand our devotion.”
Allamu’s hand found cool water dribbling down the wall from a tiny crack near the ceiling. Studying an arc of glyphs upon the wall, Allamu muttered, “If I read these right, the thing entombed down here is no god. It is—”
“You will come now!” Melcior whispered harshly. He had silently come up behind Allamu and now held a long knife to the shorter man’s throat.
With scarcely a move of his head, Allamu agreed to the demand. The two made their way deeper into the darkness.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Thirteen

As quickly as a striking snake, Sabit moved to shield Allamu from the rain of stone with the only defense at hand. With a mighty lunge, she grabbed the boar pole and hurled it—boar and all—across the mouth of the pit. It diverted smaller pieces of rubble from their deadly course. A massive chunk of boulder fell hard, smashing the pole—the force of the impact causing the debris to spin. Jamming in the mouth of the pit, the boulder kept other large rocks from plummeting into the pit.
Leaping out of the way of the collapsing rubble, Sabit tried to make her way to the pit. Each time, a new fall of stones drove her back. By the time the rockfall tapered off and the dust settled, there was only a pile of rubble where the pit mouth had once stood.
Sabit attempted to clear the debris, tossing aside stones with fervor. Several of the fallen rocks were larger than Sabit herself. She could not move them.
“Sabit! Wensa!” came Allamu’s cry from below. His voice was small and distorted by strange echoes.
“Allamu! Are you hurt?” Sabit called.
“Both of us are unhurt,” replied Melcior. “Batuul’s wrath has blocked this passage to the surface. Deeper, the passage is clear. We two will proceed to see His Honor in the sacred chamber. Go to the farther entrance to the caves and ensure it is clear for our return. I will bring your friend to you after His Honor has seen him.”
“No!” shouted Wensa, emerging from beneath a rocky overhang. She strode up to Sabit and thrust her finger at the crouching warrior woman. “Allamu came to this evil place to save you, and it has trapped him in a hole in the ground. If there is another way down there, you will show me the way and I will bring him back out to the sun and the sea.”
Lifting her fallen spear, Sabit stood up. Wensa had drawn herself up to her full height, which was nearly two heads shorter than the spear woman. Even as Sabit glowered down at her, Wensa’s mask of determination did not falter.
Sabit tightened her grip on her spear and spoke, “We will bring him out together.”

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller

Isle of the Wicked: Twelve

The four made their way to the very heart of the Wicked Rocks. At the base of the tallest stone spire, a pit opened in the ground, gaping like an open wound. After Allamu and Sabit had hung the boar carcass between two jagged boulders, Melcior gestured the group toward the pit.
Allamu asked, “Is this where the priest will speak to us, snug in his burrow like a rabbit?”
Sabit laughed. Melcior did not see the mirth, replying, “His Honor is in the midst of a delicate ritual. He cannot bear to be so near the spiteful sun at such a sacred time. I will take you to him. Now.”
Melcior took Allamu by the arm, pulling him toward the pit. With a flash of movement, Sabit was there, removing Melcior’s hand from Allamu’s shoulder. “Allamu can walk himself,” Sabit said.
Showing Sabit his palms, Melcior backed away, moving toward the pit. Allamu searched Sabit’s face. Was this the moment?
Sabit nodded for Allamu to follow the captain into the pit.
Shoulders slumped, Allamu continued after Melcior. As he lowered himself into the pit, a rumble echoed from below. The ground quaked. The Wicked Rocks trembled. The massive spire wavered.
From atop the spires and boulders, a shower of rubble plummeted toward the clearing and the pit where the four of them stood.

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Isle of the Wicked is copyright (c) 2016 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters post every weekday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller