Sisterhood of the Lioness: Fourteen

When Sabit was strong enough to leave her healing bed, she sought out Meriama in the outer courtyard of the Sisterhood’s compound. The crack of splitting wood resounded in the air. In a far corner, the leader of the Sisterhood of the Lioness held a heavy axe in her one good hand. With a single swift stroke, she drove the axe through a log before her, the two pieces falling cleanly to the ground.

“You do not allow your wound to dictate your actions,” Sabit said, approaching from the side.

Meriama smiled. “Not when I can help it. Eltani’s sword has taken enough from me already. I won’t let it take the simple pleasures. You’ll be much the same once you’ve recovered, I think.”

The two women gathered the split logs onto a wooden sledge and pulled it across the compound to a cluster of tents. Sabit recognized the faces of many of those who had attacked her in the village. Freed of the sorcerer’s foul domination, the simple folk gratefully accepted the offerings. Not a one dared to meet Sabit’s gaze.

“Their shame causes them to shrink from you, Sabit,” Meriama said some time later as they made their way toward the now-abandoned village. “Shame that you did what they were not strong enough to do. Shame at what the sorcerer made them do. The sooner we cleanse this village of the sorcerer’s taint and get them back to their homes, the sooner they will be able to hold their heads up once more.”

“A better fate awaits them than you gave to the last three villages that the Sisterhood took over,” Sabit said.

Meriama looked at her, a scowl on her face. “What do you know of it?”

“I know what they say on the streets of Bahteel: That the Sisterhood of the Lioness tied the men of those villages to stakes as food for vultures,” Sabit replied. Her shoulder wound burned with searing pain as her body tensed, ready for battle.

Meriama looked away from the spear woman. “You know nothing.”

 

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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: Thirteen

The next day, Dessine came to visit Sabit. The chief hunter of the Pride showed no scars from her defeat at the hands of the sorcerer. Her easy gait was like an unspoken challenge to Sabit’s own slow recovery. The spear woman had barely risen from her bed since waking. The wound at her shoulder burned and throbbed with every breath.

And yet, Sabit said, “I can return to the Pride. I am ready to fight.”

“Your heart calls out for battle and blood,” Dessine replied, a smirk on her face. “Of that much, I am certain. That fire in your belly is a great virtue. It saved my life, and the life of the rest of the Pride. Imagine what someone as trusted as I could have done to the Sisterhood—to Meriama herself—if I were driven by a thirst for blood. How easily does Meriama rest at my side, open and defenseless with her one good arm around my shoulder? How much would the king of Bahteel pay to have one of his warriors in such easy reach of the woman he wants dead?”

Sabit regarded Dessine with narrowed eyes. How much did the head of the Pride know about Sabit’s purpose in joining the Sisterhood? She should have no reason to suspect that Sabit had any connection with the king of Bahteel or his desire for Meriama’s death. What had Sabit failed to see?

“Don’t give me that look, Sabit,” Dessine answered her unspoken challenge. “I know what you are thinking. I am not putting you out to pasture like a shriveled old woman. There will be a place for you in the Pride when the strength returns to your spear arm. Until then, you will be at Meriama’s side, attending to her needs. Consider yourself her bodyguard if it helps your pride, although I will ensure that no threat comes anywhere near you. Much of the time it will be just the two of you, alone and unwatched. I am giving you an opportunity. See that you make the most of it.”

 

—–

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: Twelve

Sabit struggled under the weight of slumber, reluctant to awaken. She knew that a dull, throbbing ache awaited her in the waking world—her injured shoulder a nagging reminder of her failure before the sorcerer.

Sabit hated failure. There was nothing commendable about hiding from her failures in the deep semi-doze of a healing sleep, but Sabit could not find the passion to care. In this moment, lying on her belly in a soft bed–the sharp scent of medicinal herbs filling her nostrils–was her only desire. What else could be so important to draw her from this refuge?

“Will she recover?” came the hushed voice of Meriama, founder of the Sisterhood of the Lioness. Sabit had joined the Sisterhood for a chance to kill her. It seemed a thousand years ago.

“The healers say she is strong, but it will take time,” Dessine, the chief huntress of the Pride, replied. “She will be unable to hunt—or fight—for many days. Despite her actions against the sorcerer, the Pride has no place for her until then.”

How could Sabit bear such an insult? Dessine would be a sorcerer’s plaything at this very moment if not for Sabit’s “actions.” She let out a shout of rage—

—or, rather, she tried to. Sabit’s jaw twitched and a soft groan issued from her throat as she struggled against the numbing effects of the healing herbs.

“Send her to me when she is well enough to walk,” Meriama commanded. “I will oversee her recovery personally.”

With the strength borne of a hundred battles, Sabit forced her heavy eyelids open. She lay upon blankets in an empty hut. Dessine and Meriama had already left.

 

—–

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: Eleven

For Dessine, trapped in the sorcerer’s spell, his wordless singing stretched to all eternity and beyond. Her life, open to the sorcerer’s unflinching gaze, was like a drop of rain before the endless ocean. She was nothing. He was everything. The song rose in pitch and tempo. The future beckoned. The blood she would spill at the sorcerer’s whim was—

The song stopped.

The sorcerer’s voice twisted and gurgled. Dessine could suddenly see his face, an expression of surprise beneath the thick yellow ocher.

A trickle of blood oozed from his lips. The sorcerer’s jaws wrenched wide. An iron-tipped spear point emerged from his throat, covered in blood.

“For the Pride,” came Sabit’s voice from behind the sorcerer’s corpse. The spear woman smiled in victory, her own cheeks gone ashen and cold.

Sabit’s eyelids fluttered and she collapsed on top of the sorcerer she had ended.

 

—–

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: Ten

Kneeling alongside the fallen Dessine, the sorcerer shifted the tone and volume of his chant back to its previous soft, low rumble. He leaned over the chief huntress until the ends of his long hair—stringy and purest white—touched her face. The sour stink of his breath mingled with the low vibration of his wordless song to fill Dessine’s every perception.

She pulled her head away and swung her left fist toward the sorcerer’s head. In the fury of the attack, Dessine could not say why her eyes slipped open a sliver—

—but they did.

The sorcerer’s gaze filled her vision, her awareness, her body. Every fiber of her being locked tight, paralyzed. Her left arm wrenched itself in its socket as her arm muscles fought against the force of the punch she had thrown. Dessine’s fist came to a stop, harmlessly grazing the sorcerer’s mane of unruly white hair.

His chant shifted tone, its wordless tune painting images of devotion to the sorcerer’s will on the back of Dessine’s mind. The song overwhelmed her years of devotion to the Sisterhood and the Pride like a flood inundating a sapling. The sorcerer’s voice ate into her own ambitions to lead the Sisterhood by any means necessary like acid. Dessine’s resolve, her hope, her will were as nothing before the sorcery.

What havoc could the chief huntress of the Sisterhood of the Lioness wreak, bound to the will  of such a man?

 

—–

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: Nine

With a single powerful swipe of her sword, Dessine lopped the head from the shoulders of the boy who had felled Sabit. Leaping over Sabit’s crumpled form, the chief huntress of the Pride charged toward the village center. Her high-pitched war-cry overwhelmed the sorcerer’s low, soft chanting.

Keeping her eyes low, Dessine ran straight toward the barrel where the sorcerer perched. Even his bare feet were coated in smears of vibrant red and yellow. Putting the force of her charge behind her blade, Dessine swung for the spell-shaper’s ankle. The loss of a foot would bring an end to this wicked sorcerer.

The bronze blade whistled through the air. The soft chanting rose in volume and pitch. The bronze blade struck the thick, red ocher coating the sorcerer’s skin.

The blade turned. Its keen edge bent, as surely as if it had struck solid rock. The shock of the blow jolted up Dessine’s arm. The sword fell from her grasp as she stumbled to the ground, her strong right hand useless at her side.

In that moment, the sorcerer was upon her.

 

—–

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: Eight

The eyes of the villagers were wide and bloodshot and devoid of awareness. Their fists and feet struck Dessine and Sabit without the skill and strength of those trained in the ways of battle. But the villagers’ numbers could not be denied as they piled on the two fallen warriors.

Sabit parried and blocked the strikes of the enthralled mob as best she could, seizing any opportunity to knock their legs from beneath them. Dessine slashed with her curved bronze sword, sprays of hot blood surging from the bellies and thighs of her attackers.

With a wild swing, Sabit boxed the ear of a thick-bearded man. He grunted in pain. His eyes came alive again—the red, bloodshot veins draining to show the whites. A thin line of blood trickled from his ear. The man turned and ran, pushing his still-possessed fellows aside in his flight.

With a high-pitched battle cry, the rest of the Pride fell upon the mob. With ropes and nets, they pulled the mass of bodies apart. Sabit struck several more upon the ear, breaking the hold the sorcerer’s spell over them.

Even driven by sorcery, a mass of farm-folk was quick work for the Pride of the Sisterhood of the Lioness. As they restrained the last few stragglers, Sabit looked around frantically for her spear. It had been just out of reach before the fight.

From the village center, the sorcerer let out a high-pitched shriek. Sabit instinctively looked up, but forced her gaze away from the spell-shaper just in time to avoid his piercing eyes.

What she did not see was the still-enthralled boy approach her from behind—Sabit’s spear in his young grip.

The iron spear tip tore into Sabit’s back. For a moment, she convulsed with pain—like a fish raging against the barb that pulls it from the water.

Then, Sabit collapsed to the ground without so much as a scream.

 

—–

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: Seven

Sabit’s arm would not move. Her head would not turn. Her eyes would not blink. The sorcerer’s gaze bored into her skull like a dagger. Sabit’s muscles were locked as tight and unflinching as if she had been bound in steel chains.

The mass of enthralled villagers turned and charged toward the spear woman. Sabit’s feet would not take a step. She stood motionless before the oncoming wave of fists and teeth, clubs and pitchforks. A thousand possible attacks, parries, and maneuvers flashed through Sabit’s mind. Not a one could she execute as the mob was nearly upon her.

Dessine leapt from the cover of the building, tackling Sabit to the ground. The instant the sorcerer’s gaze no longer filled Sabit’s vision, the strength returned to her body. She rolled with the force of Dessine’s body, landing awkwardly at the base of the goat pen’s wall. Sabit’s spear clattered to the ground—too far from her hand.

And then, the villagers were upon them.

 

—–

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: Four

That night, Sabit danced with her fellow initiates into the small hours. Still weary from the hunt, her steps were clumsy. Always stubborn, Sabit made up for her lack of skill with a bottomless energy that outstripped the stamina of even the fully-established Sisters who had not hunted. By the time the bonfires burned low, Sabit was the only one still dancing—if her staggering gait could still merit the description.

As Sabit collapsed to her bedroll, nerves frayed and skin drenched in sweat, she remembered her last night with Kehnan, eight days before. Sabit had also dropped to the bed, dripping with sweat, when her lover had told her, “The Sisterhood of the Lioness wants to overthrow the king of Bahteel.”

“What matter is that of ours?” Sabit had asked.

“The reward that the king offers for the head of the Sisterhood isn’t matter enough?”

“I have heard of no reward,” Sabit said, rolling away from Kehnan. “The king speaks well of the Sisterhood.”

“Of course he must speak well of them. They have many allies,” Kehnan crawled behind Sabit and whispered in her ear. “Privately, he has offered an enormous sum for Meriama’s head.”

“I am neither assassin nor mercenary,” Sabit said.

“Of course you aren’t. The Sisterhood has caught and killed every assassin sent after them. They grow bold. Meriama claims she is unkillable. They have taken three villages in the west. In their arrogance, they tied every man in those villages to posts in the ground, as food for the jackals and vultures. Not a child of those villages has been seen since. What will Meriama do in the mighty city of Bahteel when she pulls the king from his throne?” Kehnan fell silent, allowing his words to roost in Sabit’s ear.

When Sabit did not respond, Kehnan rolled away from her, saying, “It’s no matter for us, though. No one can kill Meriama anyway. The finest fighters have tried and failed. The innocents of Bahteel will simply be at her mercy soon. No one can stop her. It’s impossible.” Kehnan closed his eyes and waited.

For a moment, Kehnan worried that Sabit had fallen asleep.

Her words filled the darkness. “I could stop her.”

 

—–

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: 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.”

 

—–

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/