As she worked to prepare the boar’s carcass for transit, Sabit continued her tale. “I suppose they wanted to see if I could hunt as well as I claimed before they took me to their priest.”
“Priest?” Allamu asked. “What need do city-folk have for a priest so far from civilization?”
“I wondered the same thing,” Sabit replied. “They took me to the mouth of a cave, near the base of one of the great spires. Their priest lingered in the shadows of the pit, not stepping one foot into the sunlight. His voice echoed up from the darkness as he spoke. ‘You are the shipwrecked hunter of meat that my trusted Melcior has found. Meat feeds the body, but only the touch of Batuul can feed the soul. We mortal wretches devour meat, but Batuul devours our sins and unburdens us. What sins weigh you down, hunter of meat?'”
“I gaped at the power of his words. Without thought, I told him of young Ishum’s death while fruitlessly seeking me.* I spoke of my fight with the slave ship captain in the teeth of the gale, and how the storm shattered the ship even as I won liberty for those upon it. I saw you sink beneath the waves, Allamu, into the inky blackness from which none return. I could feel the weight of every soul I’ve lost. With a single word, the priest took my sins and fed them to Batuul. Just as when I walked from the ocean—proud and tall—I was free of the burden of my failures.
“When I thanked him for his blessing, His Honor said that a grateful heart is best, for Batuul’s powers are many. His wrath is quick and fearsome for those still weighed down by their misdeeds. From his hole in the ground, His Honor let forth a sorcerous chant. When the last echo died away, a bird dropped from the sky. It landed at my feet stone dead, its green wings still spread in mid-flight,” Sabit concluded, a zealot’s gleam in her eye.
“Sorcerers and strange priests are not to be trusted, Sabit,” Allamu said, his voice rising with agitation. “Wensa’s people have already seen the ruin this sorcerer is letting loose upon the wind and the wave. You cannot help his cause. You must not. Without food, the devout will need to leave. Come away to Wensa’s village and let this dark wizard starve in his hole in the ground.”
Sabit looked at Allamu, a look of indecision on her face. She had just lashed the feet of the boar carcass to a sturdy pole, and still crouched next to its bloody entrails. From Allamu, she turned her gaze to a small parcel of green feathers she wore upon her wrist. Allamu had helped her through dark times, but Batuul had made her spirit as light as a bird.
Rising, Sabit took a step toward Allamu when a voice came from behind her. “Sabit, I see you have friends,” said Melcior, the ship’s captain. “We should take them to His Honor, don’t you think?”
*Ishum’s death is detailed in Blossom of Ruin.
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