Road of Woe: Fourteen

Sabit pointed her spear at the heart of the stranger that had approached her from behind. Older than Sabit, the woman wore simple traveler’s garb, with a bulging satchel hanging from one shoulder.

“Who are you?” Sabit barked.

The woman smiled. “I am no one of consequence. Merely a wayfarer passing along the road to my next destination, much like you.”

“You do not know me,” Sabit replied. She rested the butt of her spear upon the ground, crimson sap still oozing from the red wood that was the only earthly remains of the Prince of Ghabar. “How can you say that we are alike?”

“I meant no offense, proud warrior,” the older woman said. “I merely thought that as no one lives in these badlands, you must also be on your way elsewhere. Isn’t that so?”

Sabit furrowed her brow. Where was she going? Where had she come from? The memories of her life before facing the ruinous plant-thing were elusive. The more she cast her attention upon a recalled image or a half-remembered sound, the more quickly it evaporated, like mist beneath the sun’s morning glare. The memory of the place called “home” did not even merit a mist—it was a featureless waste in her mind.

“I know no place that I belong,” Sabit muttered. The silver horn rested at her hip, as still in its repose as the dead warriors who had once answered its call.

“You are greatly blessed,” the woman replied with genuine warmth. “For if there is no single place where you belong, then, indeed, you belong everywhere. The world is your home.”

Sabit pondered the older woman’s words as she surveyed the the landscape before her. The morning sun had painted the badlands in vivid hues of pink and orange. A single flowing stream glittered like silver as it danced between columns of weathered stone. In the far distance, a great city rose from a hilltop, its delicate spires caressing the morning sky like an attentive lover. Surely a world that boasted such beautiful vistas must have a place for all its sons and daughters.

“I suppose you are right,” Sabit said. “Every place I lay my foot is as much my home as any other. Let us see what this home has to offer.”




Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Thirteen

The eastern sky grew warm with the first blush of dawn by the time Sabit had finished her work. Using the sharpened edges of her spear point, she trimmed the leaves and cut the branches from the powerful, main trunk of the dead husk that had once been the prince of Ghabar. All that remained was a tall, sturdy length of wood. Whorls and knots squatted in the wide grain of the wood, but as Sabit mounted the spear point upon the blood-red shaft, she was certain it would serve her well.

But serve her to what end? The future lay before her like the rising sun—beautiful and full of potential, both unspoken and unspeakable. The valley around her sported a vibrant covering of greenery, far more than the arid climate would normally support. The wide leaves sprouted most densely from hundreds of mounds the size of a fallen human body.

Sabit stooped at the foot of one of these mounds. A single arrow-shaft stood tall upon the mound, its length wrapped in ivy and topped with a blood-red flower. From the ground beside the leafy grave, Sabit lifted a horn of finest silver. She could not recall ever seeing the fine craftsmanship of its noble curve. Yet, its heft felt true in her hand. Without a thought, Sabit lifted the horn to her lips.

“Wouldn’t you agree that these troops have earned their rest?” asked a woman’s voice from behind the spear woman’s back.

Sabit spun to face the new arrival, spear lowered and ready for a killing thrust.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Twelve

Although the ground and the sky would not stay in their places, Sabit’s eyes were locked on the implement of her death. A jagged tip of broken bone hung in the air above her, the plant-prince ready to drive it into her heart.

The throbbing pain in her head kept Sabit trapped on the ground. Her legs twitched dizzily, but she could neither stand nor kick. Her arms flailed at her sides, but could find neither cover nor support. The life that she saw all in a single moment was a pitifully short one: A name. A spear. A man’s soulful brown eyes. The sound of cheering voices. A woman’s touch on her shoulder. The heft of cold iron in her hands.

Her fingers held metal! Without thought, Sabit thrust the fragment upward just as the plant-prince drove downward with his jagged arm bone. The iron bit deep into the thing’s chest, the force of the blow jolting her arm painfully. Cool blood and warm sap covered her hand.

“My heart … again,” the plant-prince sputtered and then moved no more. Its waxy leaves drooped under their own weight. The circlet of silver and jade dropped from its head, clattering to the ground.

Sabit worked to slow her labored breathing, as the world righted itself around her. First the lurching ground beneath her resolved to a mere wobble. Then, the white-blue sky agreed to remain overhead.

With a mighty heave, Sabit tossed the stump of the plant-thing to one side. It landed with a woody thump. She examined her sap-covered hand. The piece of iron she held was nearly the length of her forearm, but as narrow as two fingers. Its sharp point dripped thick blood from the two sharp edges. The solid tang felt thin and awkward in her hand. Although she could not remember the first time she had ever seen this spear point, Sabit knew immediately what it lacked: a shaft.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Eleven

The plant-prince shambled backwards, stumbling over rocks and bones to get away from Sabit. She watched it move away for a moment, her eyes darting erratically with mental effort. Forging the patchy remnants of her memories and the scoured chambers of her heart into some shape that might make sense of the world kept her rooted to the spot for several long moments.

Taking advantage of the respite, the plant-prince slowed its retreat, then stopped. The armless collection of vines and rotting flesh searched through the detritus at its root-like legs. Finding an arm bone, the plant-thing laid the severed stump of its shoulder next to it. Vines grew quickly from the broken ends of wood, twining around the bare, white bone. As leaves unfurled their dark, waxy covering over the bone’s length, the plant-thing moved its new limb back and forth, testing the strength of this stunted, makeshift arm.

The movement brought Sabit from her reverie. Letting forth a bellow from deep within, Sabit moved toward the thing, picking up speed with every step. Like a charging bull, the spear woman crashed into the tangle of vine and meat and bone, sending it sprawling to the ground.

Sabit leapt atop its supine form. With a blood-thirsty roar, she tore leaves and vines and branches from the torso of the plant-prince. The rough bark left deep cuts in Sabit’s hands, but she persevered in her destruction. Pushing deeper into the plant-thing’s chest, Sabit felt the rapid pulsing of a still-beating heart. She reached for it.

With a crash, the plant-prince swung his new arm bone, striking Sabit’s brow. The spear woman toppled off of her foe, landing hard, like a discarded bit of marrow. The ground beneath Sabit seemed to lurch and spin in every direction as the plant-thing loomed over her. Her arms flailed uselessly at her sides as she sought some solid purchase amidst this topsy-turvy world.

For a moment, Sabit’s gaze locked on a single object: the arm bone wrapped in vines that hung from the plant-thing’s shoulder. The force of its blow had broken the bone, leaving a jagged point on the end of it.

The plant-prince raised his bone-spear for a killing strike.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Ten

The thick finger-stalks of the plant-prince wrapped around the woman’s throat, the rough bark pressing against the tender flesh of her neck. Her head swam as her body ached for breath. The finger-stalks split and forked and grew, spreading to cover the whole length of her neck. Each moment, they reached lower—

—until a tender sprout grazed the braided silver chain around the woman’s throat.

The stalk blackened, its leaves shriveling into desiccated wisps of brown and gray. The black rot spread from the necklace with the speed of flame. One stalk after the next sickened and died, twisting into gnarled shapes of dry, brittle twigs.

The plant-prince leapt back, desperately tearing the trunk of its torso from the branches of its arms. In horror, it watched its arms shrivel and fall, clattering across the woman’s body, now covered in a blanket of dead, dry leaves.

Slowly, the woman sat up. Twigs and leaves rustled as they fell from her powerful arms and broad chest. A single, unrotted white petal stuck to the woman’s lip. Without thinking, her tongue sought out the morsel and she swallowed it.

Rising to her feet, the woman shook the crunching mass of dead vegetation from her boots. She glared at the armless shape of the plant-prince before her and said, “My name is Sabit and I bear no love for you!”



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Nine

“Ishum is dead,” Sabit said to the collection of leaves and wood that wore the circlet of the prince of Ghabar. Her voice was steady and her cheeks wet. “I have heard many tales of those who love the dead. I refuse such a dark fate.”

The leafy figure threw its head back. A despairing cry like the creaking of a tree trunk in a violent storm issued from the hollow of its throat. Its rage rippled through the vines that wrapped around Sabit’s limbs, stalks flapping to and fro, although there was no wind.

“Deathlessness does not suit you, Ishum,” Sabit said as the echo of the plant-thing’s cries faded. “Even as a boy, you were not so consumed with rage. I remember a time when you stared down a pack of larger boys without making a sound.”

“You remember?” the plant-thing said, bending low over Sabit’s supine form once more. “If your memories fuel your defiance, then I shall rid you of their burdensome weight.”

Reaching forth with finger-like stalks, the plant-prince touched the brown flesh of Sabit’s brow. Tiny shoots crept from its hands, slithering their way among the black, wooly strands of Sabit’s hair. Pale, tender rootlings burrowed into her scalp, drinking deeply wherever they touched. From each stalk there bloomed a flower of purest white, its large petals covering Sabit’s head like the snow of every winter in her memory.

Sabit struggled against the infestation, but the finger-stalks rooted themselves deeply into the ground. The woody fingers became as strong as oak, encasing her head like a helmet.

Opening its maw, the plant-prince bent low over the mass of flowers. Like a horse at the trough, it sucked down petal after petal, chewing each one between its woody jaws.

“So many memories,” said the plant-prince, like the whisper of an evening breeze. “Such adventures you have had, my love. Perhaps one day I shall tell you the stories of a great warrior who went on such adventures.” It locked its white flower-eyes on Sabit’s confused gaze. “What do you remember of me?”

“I … I do not know you,” said the woman. . A single white petal had escaped the plant-things grazing and clung to her lip.

“Good. What do you remember of you?” it hissed.

“I am … I know not what I am,” she replied

“Excellent,” it said. “I tell you that you are my love. I shall make certain that we are together forevermore.”

The plant-thing pulled its hands from the woman’s head. She made no response. It wrapped the thick stalks of its fingers around her throat. She did nothing as it began to squeeze.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Eight

“I am the love of no misbegotten spawn of weed and dark sorcery,” Sabit spat at the looming figure.

The plant-covered figure threw back its head, jaw gaping wide. The leaves of its face slapped against one another in a twisted parody of a laugh.

“You were always so proud and defiant, Sabit,” came the unnatural, whispery voice as the plant-thing settled itself atop Sabit’s paralyzed body. “Even as a boy, I loved you for your strength. I knew I had to make it mine.”

“You were a seed or perhaps a sapling. But you were never a boy,” Sabit said, pulling her head as far away from the leaves and petals as her neck would allow.

“You do not recognize me,” the plant-thing said, “but you cling to the pain I caused you like tree roots on the edge of a cliff. It is the only thing that keeps you from plunging into the abyss.”

The plant-thing passed one vine-covered hand over Sabit’s chest. A flower bloomed there, broad red petals beautiful and delicate. It trembled as it opened itself to the tender breeze, vulnerable and raw to the caress of the wind.

With woody fingers, the plant-thing plucked a large, red petal from the flower. Sabit’s body was wracked with sobs, tears streaming from her eyes. Everything she had ever cared about had been stripped from her! She was alone in the world!

Her captor released the petal, letting it float away on the wind. Although Sabit’s cheeks were still wet, she could not say what had caused her tears. What wound could ache as sharply as that?

The plant-thing plucked another petal. Sabit screamed with the anguish of a rejected lover. The wind swept the petal away and her voice grew still. Another petal conjured the fury and frustration of defeat in battle. The wind brought calm and clarity.

When the flower was just a naked stalk, the plant-thing leaned close. Its breezy voice whispered in her ear, “Do you recognize me now, Sabit?”

The spear woman looked at the shape above her, her cheeks still wet with unnremembered tears. On its head, the circlet of silver and jade gleamed brightly in the sunlight—just as it had in the palace of Ghabar so many years ago. “You were Ishum, son of the Prioress of Ghabar. You loved me. I rejected you. You sought me across the world. You died far from your home.” Her voice was steady.

The plant-thing’s leafy maw curled upward into a smile. “Yes, I am Ishum. Now we can be together, Sabit. Even death shall not keep us apart.”



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Seven

Phantoms of Sabit’s past loomed large in the darkness that took her. Old enemies, long gone, stalked her once more with hateful sneer  and curved blade held high. Old rivals bested Sabit again and again, relishing her humiliation. Old lovers screamed in fury, belittling her most intimate secrets.

In the darkness, all this pain fused into a single ball of white-hot anguish, shining down upon Sabit like the unrelenting gaze of a vengeful sun. Scorching her skin with its harsh glare, the sun of suffering drew a dank, musky smell from the dark green leaves that covered Sabit’s body.

Sabit forced her eyelids open, welcoming the dazzling light within, to sear her brain like fire. Fire was cleansing. Pain gave Sabit focus.

Sabit lay upon the ground, but not where she had fallen. In front of her was the broad, white sky with the murderous sun at its center. There were high slopes on three sides of her, covered in the same broad, dark green leaves that enveloped her body below the neck. Sinuous vines twisted around her arms and encased her torso. Slender roots sank beneath the skin of her shoulders and chest. They pulsed in time with her heartbeat, a bright crimson shining through the pale exterior of every tiny rootling. Only Sabit’s darkest imagination could conjure the condition of her legs, as she could not feel them at all.

With a mighty heave, Sabit exerted the force of her every muscle to pull herself free. Her head lifted from the ground, tendons in her neck straining with the effort. Her arms lay motionless beside her, like dead stumps trailing from her shoulders. Her chest kept rising and falling, each breath more labored than the one before.

Sabit let out a cry of fury and frustration, but even the sound of her sorrow issued thin and weak from her throat.

Then, above her loomed the shape of a man. Every inch of skin was covered with waxy, green leaves. Covetous white flowers stared out from where his eyes ought to be, their bright green stamens boring into Sabit. On his leafy brow sat a circlet of silver and jade. The leaves covering his lips parted and in a voice like the wind in the branches said, “It is good to see you again, my love.”



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Six

With Sabit at their head, the Ghabari troops charged downhill into their foes, like an avalanche of sharpened spear points. Battle was joined.

Behind the wall of tall Ghabari shields, Sabit thrust her spear into the belly of one soldier, the chest of another. They fell at her feet and she spared no time for their bodies. There were more foes to join them.

Sabit plunged her spear into the next foeman, but he did not fall. He wore the circlet of command upon his brow. Even as her iron spear tip sank deeper into his breast, the soldier turned to glare hatefully, his too-white eyes flickering with reflected flame. With both hands, he clutched the shaft of Sabit’s spear with an unnatural grip. Thrusting the spear deeper into his own chest, he dragged himself closer to Sabit, hand over hand.

As he drew closer, Sabit could see his face in detail. His eyes were not orbs that shone too bright in the firelight. They were not eyes at all. Two large white flowers stared hatefully at her, bright green stamens boring into her soul from where their pupils ought to be. The man’s skin was not slick with sweat. Waxy, dark leaves covered his cheeks and brow, leaving nothing truly human below the uncanny floral facade.

Putting up her shield, Sabit pushed against the fundamental wrongness of his vegetative mass. The thing in the shape of a man curled the fingers of one hand-like stalk around the edge of Sabit’s shield. Tender, pale roots bore into the laminated mesquite strips of the shield, changing their dark, polished sheen to the lighter shade of living wood. In turn, rootlings sprouted from the shield itself, grasping hungrily for the tender flesh of Sabit’s arm.

Lurching away from this new onslaught, Sabit’s heel caught on one of the enemies she had slain. As she fell backward under the assault, she heard the screams of her troops. From the corner of her eye, she could see up and down the line, these plant-beasts cutting through her troops like a scythe through ripe wheat.

Then, she hit the ground and there was only blackness.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or

Road of Woe: Five

Sabit seized the captain’s horn and raised it to her lips. The note sounded pure and true, ringing across the valley like a song from the heavens. She raised her spear and troops rushed to form ranks beside her, weapons raised to strike. Sabit extended her left hand and Lahamu, her shield bearer, strapped an oblong shield of wood and bronze to her forearm.

Sabit watched the line of enemy troops make their way up the hill. Their eyes shone unnaturally bright in the darkness, blazing orange and red with the glow of the fires rampaging through the camp. Her eyes probed their lines of armored bodies for some weakness. Each soldier out of step could be the fatal flaw that would turn this bloodbath into a victory for Sabit.

The invaders marched up the hill, butchering every straggler they could find. Those that were too quick to be overcome by the wave of sharpened bronze hurried to Sabit’s lines, swelling her ranks. When the attackers reached the fallen body of Aruru, each of them jostled for the chance to anoint their sword blade in the blood of their most hated foe: the captain of Ghabar. They shoved one another aside, their skin gleaming unnaturally in the firelight.

The tumult over Auru’s corpse rippled through the enemy’s lines. Sabit saw her chance. Over her shoulder, she spoke to the older woman, “Fall back, traveller. This is not your fight. Find me when the battle is through.”

Sabit nodded to Lahamu. The shieldmaiden lifted the silver captain’s horn to Sabit’s lips. Three short, sharp notes rang across the field like fury of the righteous. The Ghabari troops stepped forward as one. Their lines straight and true, they picked up speed. Shields held high and spears held low, they charged downhill, meeting the enemy like a wave of death.



Wayfarings of Sabit: Road of Woe is copyright (c) 2017 by Michael S. Miller. All rights reserved. New chapters are posted on Monday and Thursday. You can support this and other stories on Patreon: or