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.

— — -

Wayfarings of Sabit: Sisterhood of the Lioness is copyright © 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/