Bandit Queen: Two

Verdandi stared into the eyes of the broad-shouldered young man before her. His right hand held the bowstring to his cheek, although his left trembled slightly. The smooth, tan skin of his face was marked by a black tattoo — its curving shape crowned with an jagged maw of pointed teeth, poised to sate their hunger from the young man’s left eye.

“The mark of the hungry leech is a death sentence in the city of Junjai,” the older woman said.

The note of challenge in her voice sent the young man’s shoulders back and his chest out. The spoiling of his aim was an unavoidable side effect. “Only if the king’s men catch me! I will slay a hundred of them before they can lay a finger on me, old woman!”

“Spoken like one who has never faced a hundred men,” Verdandi replied, a grin spreading across her features.

Color rose in the young man’s cheeks. “I have faced enough! Whatever comes, I am not alone!” At his words, two more young faces emerged from among the twisted tree trunks. They held their weapons high and their faces stern.

Verdandi laughed, her sides shaking. The music of coins jingled from her stuffed satchel.

“Give us that satchel and you might live to see the sunset, old woman!” shouted the young man, his voice shrill. She laughed all the harder. “What cause have you for laughter?”

Verdandi looked up, tears streaming from her eyes. “Because I, too, am not alone.”

— — —

Wayfarings of Sabit: Bandit Queen is copyright © 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, https://patreon.com/michaelsmiller, or at http://ipressgames.com/fiction/.

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