Sisterhood of the Lioness: Six

Days later, Sabit crouched behind the curving stone wall of a village hut, her trusty iron-tipped spear in her hand. Dessine and the other members of the Pride crouched close behind her. The group of warriors took care to silence their movements through the unseasonably cool mud of the village roads.

They need not have bothered. Nearby, the village’s goats screamed and rammed the stone walls of their pens. And yet, despite the desperate fury of the animals’ panicked protests, the sound that could not be drowned out was a slow, deep chant of dozens of united voices. The song—if it could be called that—suffused the air, emanated from the sky and the earth at once, and shook the very stones. Yet, the rising and falling pitches never quite resolved themselves into words.

Sabit craned her neck around the curve of the hut. In the village clearing, dozens of people stood shoulder by shoulder, their voices raised in inhuman song. At the center of the throng, a lone figure stood upon a barrel. His naked flesh was covered in twisting patterns of bright yellow and blood red—the sinuous lines weaving themselves into eldritch symbols that clawed at Sabit’s mind to look upon. The sorcerer’s upraised arms sheltered a roiling cloud—dark and pregnant with something other than rain—floating between his hands and growing with every rise and fall of the song.

Sabit stepped from behind the wall and pulled back her arm, spear at the ready.

The sorcerer snapped his gaze away from the otherworldly mass gathering above his head. He locked eyes with Sabit, and screamed in fury.

 

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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: Five

The next morning, Sabit was roused from her slumber while the sun still hung low in the sky. The warriors of the Pride gathered their newest members in front of their stronghold. The head of the entire Sisterhood, Meriama, had arrived.

Walking quickly through the gate from the outer courtyard, the head of the Sisterhood of the Lioness cut a striking figure. Standing nearly as tall as the chief huntress Dessine, she walked with the swift, driven step of one who has no patience for fools. Years of harsh sun and harder work had pulled her skin tight across muscle and bone—save for her right arm, which hung scarred and shriveled from a sling across her chest. Meriama’s simple linen dress was marked with soot and mud along the hem. Her hair was cut short and unkempt—a frizzy cloud of deepest black with a single, thick streak of steel gray on the right side. Meriama’s eyes surveyed the row of young women, sparking hard and cold like flints.

“Where are these so-called ‘hunters’ you have for me, Dessine?” the head of the Sisterhood called in a sour voice. “We have not had a mouthful of meat outside your stronghold for days!”

The chief huntress stepped forward. “The initiates dared not wander too far afield, Meriama. There are assassins and mercenaries from the king of Bahteel along every road, seeking your head. They would not hesitate to capture any of the Sisterhood who fell into their clutches.”

Meriama looked at Sabit and the other initiates with contempt. “When I formed the Pride, my warriors had courage. They knew what they risked and they knew why they risked it. If this lot will not support the Sisterhood, perhaps the Sisterhood would be better off without them.”

 

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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/

Tumult: Ten

In the darkness, Allamu led those who could not fight through the chilly, cramped confines of the tunnel. With his right arm, he held Qays perched on his hip. With his left, he held the hand of Illi’s mother–advanced in years and small of stature. She held the hand of another behind her, and so on—all the former hostages made a chain of strength to face the darkness and whatever lurked within it.
The tunnel was silent, save the burbling of the water and its echo. Had the terrifying rumble that ended their first incursion been merely some sort of trick? The bang of a falling rock redoubling back upon itself, perhaps? The river must be close, thought Allamu, We have come so far already. We will be safe under the open sky any moment.
«Like the open sky of Kelmaars that witnessed the first of your many lies?» came the reply.
Its voice was not a voice at all. Perhaps it was just the echoed splashes of dozens of feet trudging through the water. Perhaps Qays was humming himself a lullaby and Allamu had merely misheard the boy. Perhaps Allamu’s pain had been buried too deeply in his heart for too long and here, under the press of the rocks, he could bury it no deeper.
«What lies did you tell to bring Sabit to this place—to lead her to her doom?»

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Wayfarings of Sabit: Tumult 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/