Sisterhood of the Lioness: Three

Chief huntress was her title, but Dassine bore the cold, reserved gaze of one who had slain more than beasts and fowl in her day. Her right cheek showed the roaring lioness, the tattoo ink dark against her tan skin. A torc of gleaming copper cradled her throat, the only adornment of her garb—yellow tunic of wool and a wide leather sword belt. Her limbs showed only the ropey muscles and scars born of years of hard fighting. Dassine was not the leader of the Sisterhood—none questioned the righteous honor of Meriama—but she was every inch its war-chief.

Dassine regarded the gathered initiates with a stern gaze, studying each kill. When she spotted Sabit crouching over the ibex carcass, she said, “Partnerships were forbidden in this hunt. Which of you have defied my will?”

Sabit rose to her full height, half a head taller than Dassine. “I killed it. I brought it out of the hills myself. I had no partner.”

Dassine stepped closer, eyes narrowed. “No less than three parasangs separate us from the nearest grazing land of the ibex. You would have me believe you carried this carcass such a distant without help?”

Sabit held the Sister’s challenging gaze. “I would have you believe the truth.”

Dassine answered with a silence that stretched a long time. Finally, she spoke. “Welcome to the Pride, Sabit.”

 

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Sisterhood of the Lioness is copyright (c) 2017 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/

Sisterhood of the Lioness: Two

The Sisterhood of the Lioness allowed only the strongest initiates to join the ranks of their most honored warriors: The Pride. The hunt was the final task of five days of trials the initiates faces. Walking the gauntlet of the established warriors was the last part of the hunt.

Sabit took a slow, deliberate step between the first of the two warriors. The sharp whistle of their switches cut through the air. Each blow delivered a stripe of stinging pain to the exposed skin of Sabit’s arms and legs. Her face set in stern expression, Sabit betrayed no hint of pain in her visage. She held to her stately gait, giving each of the Sisters ample opportunity for their blows.

As Sabit gritted her teeth at the torment, she held the eyes of each of the Sisters as she passed. Perhaps it was a show of defiance, or respect. Perhaps she imagined gutting them with the horns of the ibex she bore on her shoulders. Whatever the cause, her gaze did not falter.

Once she reached the end, Sabit laid down her burden. The ibex carcass hit the ground at the same moment the bell rang announcing sunset. Before Sabit stood a pair of plain wooden doors bearing no ornament other than the crude yellow line in the shape of a lioness’s roaring head. The last knell of sunset still hung in the air as those doors burst forth.

The chief huntress of the Sisterhood had arrived.

 

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Sisterhood of the Lioness is copyright (c) 2017 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/

Sisterhood of the Lioness: One

Sabit struggled under the weight of the ibex carcass draped across her shoulders. She had walked half the day up and down steep ridges and rocky slopes bearing the prize of her hunt. With only a stone knife and her innate stealth, Sabit had tracked the ibex herd through the night. Careful to keep herself downwind of the skittish creatures, Sabit had surveyed their numbers—the herd large and growing. The knot of does in the center nursed young kids. Hampered by the small steps of the young, the mothers could have made an easy target for the hunter. But what would there be to hunt next year?

Instead, she spotted a large buck with horns curling and shoulder broad. Stalking the animal over rocks and between boulders, Sabit had been upon the beast with her stone knife before it had a moment to bleat. Its razor-sharp horns flailed uselessly as its lifeblood drained from the deep neck wound of Sabit’s knife.

Leaving its entrails as an offering to the sacred Buzzard, Sabit had hauled the massive beast back to the compound of the Sisters of the Lioness. It was nearly dusk by the time she arrived. The guards were about to close the outer gate, the other initiates having already returned from their hunts long before. Sabit did not pause to regard them as she strode past, her feet and legs burning with fatigue from the long, hard journey.

In the outer courtyard, gaunt-cheeked women watched Sabit’s passage with hungry eyes. Young children pointed and whispered, but kept well clear of her.

Through the second gate, Sabit saw the other initiates, each covered with long, thin welts of dull purple on their arms and legs. Having finished their hunts, these women dressed their prizes to impress the full-fledged Sisters: a clutch of plump dormice, a dozen sleek fish, an ibex kid with a malformed leg, a long serpent stretched and flayed before the Mother’s tent on the far side of the compound. Even at this distance, Sabit could see that her kill held more meat than all the others put together.

The issue was getting it to the dressing-area. between Sabit and her goal stood two dozen of the Sisterhood’s strongest warriors, each with a long switch at the ready.

 

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Sisterhood of the Lioness is copyright (c) 2017 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/