Ashes of the Ylan [A Rama Empire novel]

"I thought you'd kill me," she croaked. "Not much honour if you cannot keep your promises."

Within the world of Convergera, lies the lands of Rama. Though the Rama Empire has long since been disbanded, the Capital still stands as a symbol of prosperity. The Antirian wars are over, but peace is soon disturbed as disaster strikes.

Sarashi is raised on the Wild Plains, but in a culture where freedom is everything, she is tied down by fear and expectations. Her people wants her to embrace her mother's legacy, her own fury screams for vengeance and her heart aches to belong. But when the war between the Sapphire Empire and the people of Rama flares up again, she'll have to make a choice between what she wants, and what is expected of her.

"Both standing on two legs, eyes level, the lion tried to push her into the ground. Her heart beat like never before as it stretched its neck over the spear to reach her face with its teeth. Pain made her dizzy as she growled back, a fiery rage star

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23. Ch 3: Ashes in the Wind (Part 10 of 10)

The plains looked so normal, it filled Sarashi with dismay. She had a distinct feeling that they should have looked different, but instead, she only saw the tall grass and occasional tree and bush. Her dark eyes were calm, her long hair in a tangled mess, and her wounds newly bandaged. But her hands formed firm fists when Dawoul stepped from the camp.

Dawoul, on the other hand, looked relieved to find her in the first place his wife has suggested he looked.

“The Empire's been growing bolder, so we've made a habit of keeping scouts along the river,” he said without introduction. “You saw what the soldiers did to them.”

Sarashi stared at him wordlessly, missing Caeryn deeply for her quick and snappy replies.

“Somebody has to do something,” Dawoul demanded.

“And you want that someone to be me?” she asked, desperation at the constant pressure revealing itself in the guise of anger.

What does he expect me to do?

Fight all of the Empire's armies, single handedly?

“The Rama loved your mother, and honours her memory,” Dawould explained grimly. “And they respected your father's talent for war. If you have half your mother's heart and half your father's gift, that would make for a powerful thing indeed.”

Sarashi snapped her head up to glare at him, her eyes positively sending out sparks.

“Is this why you tried to pressure me to take my mother's title?” she asked in a voice like ice.

“Somebody has to do something!” Dawoul repeated. “The Mahaya won't. We're nomadic by nature, even you should know that. We move when prey gets scarse and the land unfriendly. Those who live far from the river do not understand the problems of us by its waters, and even we are drawing away from it. Already the Wild Plains are shrinking as the Empire's patrols eat away at them.”

“So you would use me to force the tribes to fight?” she hissed. “Use my parents' names just because you cannot command the tribes as you wish?”

Dawoul seemed to grow bigger as his anger grew in response to hers.

“When the tribes rally on their own, if they rally at all, it will be too late,” he growled. “Fight or flight rules these plains, but they need something to fight for! They will not see the danger to the plains, before they have lost them, not this soon after the Feuds. You promised to fight the Empire, so do it with the tribes!”

“If they are to rally, they should do so of their own will!” Sarashi sneered. “I will not claim my mother's title to force them to fight and die.”

The Mahal lifted his hand suddenly, as if to strike her, but then he lowered it slowly.

“If that is your choice,” he paused. “Then shame be on your name and may the Gods curse you, should the plains be lost because of it.”

Sarashi blanked. Fury rushed through her, so powerful she did not know how to respond. It was all she could do to not attack him, her hands so tightly wound it hurt. Blackness filled her mind, and gave way to hurt, though why she did not understand. She had no reason to want this man's or anyone's approval.

“As I am clearly unwelcome,” she pressed out through her teeth. “I will be leaving come morning.”

“As would be well,” Dawoul answered. “Like I have formerly said, any Lady of our people may be welcome here, but clearly you are not one such.”

He gave her no chance to answer, before he left in heavy strides.

Slowly, Sarashi stretched her fingers. A drop of blood sprung where her nails pierced her palm.

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