Broken Justice: One

“Allamu!”
Sabit’s cry echoed through the labyrinthine expanse of abandoned stone buildings. Facades covered in cracks or ivy or both looked down upon the lone spear woman walking the empty street. To one side, a retaining wall had burst—rich soil sloped away from the crack, tangles of thornbush spreading from its surface. A score or more of tiny, grey birds chattered among the thorns—their harsh, sniping calls reminding Sabit of the last words she had exchanged with Allamu. Would those words of anger—cutting and hot—be the last she ever spoke to the man from Urom?
With an explosion of fluttering wings the birds launched into the air. Instinct heeding instinct, Sabit leaped in the same instant behind the remains of a collapsed stone column. An arrow buzzed through the air where Sabit had just trod, striking the ground a hand’s breadth from where she now crouched.
Making her way along the uncollapsed side of the retaining wall, Sabit peeked over the top. Huddled behind the thorns was a short figure in a heavily-patched cloak. Nocking another arrow, the cloaked figure raised her head above the thorns in search of her quarry.
Sabit worked her way quickly to the far side of the overgrown garden. She was nearly in position to hurl her spear at the attacker when the masonry beneath her sandals began to crumble. At the first sound of stone, the archer leaped the thorn bush and sprinted down the street. Sabit cleared the thornbush three heartbeats later.
The chase was on.

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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 or http://ipressgames.com/fiction/

Isle of the Wicked: Twenty-Two

The sun hung low in the western sky by the time Sabit, Wensa, and Allamu reached the rim of healthy trees circling the Wicked Rocks. Below, the twisted maze of boulders slowly disappeared beneath the rising waters. Only the massive spires of featureless black stone remained above the waves, stretching toward the sky.
“Those rocks were set as sentries when the demon Batuul was imprisoned here, centuries ago,” Allamu said. “When the prison was forged, the ocean promised that if the rocks ever failed, she would keep the demon bound.”
“And so she has,” said Wensa, smiling at Allamu. “She saved you to be her hands.”
Allamu looked away. “You are the one whose faith saved me, Wensa. I merely sought escape. What say you, Sabit? Do you seek escape from this place?”
The spear woman looked down at the tangle of black stone and black water. Something down there had lightened the burdens upon her heart. Or had that been an illusion? She looked at the bedraggled remains of green feathers at her wrist. Some trick of some spell, or a demon’s whispered lies, or something else entirely had shown Sabit a glimpse of a future not weighed down with regret.
“The world is wide,” Sabit said. “There are many paths. A destination glimpsed at the end of a dark trail can sometimes be reached by other means.” She looked at Allamu. “There is a ship and crew awaiting a priest who will never come. Shall we chart them a new course?”

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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-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