The chase had taken Sabit further afield than she had realized. Walking the deserted streets, she struggled to find familiar sights. Every collapsed building seemed to bear some depiction of Verq, patroness of justice—either in a bas relief carving, or a fully-sculpted form, or a faded painting of her sacred balance. Had Sabit passed this particular pile of rubble on her way from the docks? Or had it been that half-collapsed wall?
What sort of empty-headed fool would want to come to a place like this?
Allamu would. As she walked, Sabit reflected on the heated words that had passed between them days ago on the ship.
“The majesty of the Vertan courts of justice are sung of throughout the world,” Allamu had said when the ship had taken refuge from a sudden storm in the Vertan bay. “I long to see their grand spires, learn the wisdom of their magistrates, and taste their dark wine.”
“The city itself is two days upriver in the best conditions,” Sabit had countered. “These are unfamiliar waters to our captain and his crew, and dangerous. If we continue without stopping, we can reach Urom before winter squalls begin to blow. I swore to return you to your father’s court, Allamu. We must not stray from that goal.”
“If you had ever been to Urom, you would not be so driven to return to it,” Allamu said to Sabit with a dark gleam in his eye. Turning to address Melcior, the ship’s captain, and the seated rowers, he said, “What say you, fellows? Do we put out to sea and another week or three of rigging and rowing? Or do we make our way to the jewel of the west? Who has not heard tell of the fortunes won by strapping men in the forum of justice? Who has not longed to walk the colonnade of the scales and behold its wonders? Who is with me?”
The crew was with Allamu. The captain took Sabit’s part. At such an impasse, they placed their fate in an impartial arbiter: A flat bronze coin produced from Sabit’s pouch. The tossed coin spun in the breeze, glinting on its sunlit side and scowling on its shadowed face.
The city of justice prevailed.
Sabit had given Allamu four days of sullen looks as the ship made its way upriver. Despite the lack of other traffic and the decay of riverside watchtowers, Allamu was not dissuaded from his drive to see the city. The coin had vindicated his dream and he refused to be swayed. Before the ship could even be moored, Allamu had leaped to the abandoned dock and vanished into the crumbling streets of Vert.
A sudden chattering of monkeys drew Sabit from her reverie. Turning toward the noise, Sabit spied the mast of her ship on the far side of a decaying warehouse. With hope that Allamu had returned to the ship and to his senses, Sabit made her way toward the dock.
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 or http://ipressgames.com/fiction/