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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40. Ch 6: Night Raid (Part 2 of 8)

Once, Kheerl had taken her to a small spring in the mountains. It had chuckled sweetly between rocks worn smooth by time and weather, the water so clean it was almost invisible. They drank deeply from it.

Kheerl had looked up at the sky, his eyes distant. His long white beard had swayed softly in the wind.

“I took to the Enshalian army when I was younger,” he told her. “We Mahaya do that, when Enshal's wars drag on, to help our sister people. And there I met a young soldier, not yet half my age, but he too had joined up to fight the Antirians. He was Enshalian, like you.”

Sarashi had listened with interest. She rarely heard a lot of stories from Enshal, and much less stories from before the Empire's take over. It was always either centuries ago, or from the last ten years.

“The Antirian wars puts this story before 1229, right?” she asked him.

“I believe so,” Kheerl had said. “Though I never quite remember the numbers. It must have been only a few years before the Sapphire Empire attacked Antir, but that's all I know as a fact. Both Antirs and Enshal's armies were exhausted by then. That wasn't the story I was trying to tell though. Now listen.”

Sarashi almost told him that she was listening, but bit back the words with a frown.

“Now that young man there, he was a troublemaker. Restless, temperamental; always getting into fights and especially with the sergeant. But he had a good heart, an easy smile and a ready mind. When the Antirians attacked Alva, he realised they were sending out troops to one of the small towns to the east. They were trying to pincher us you see, surround us. We were stationed at Alva's town square by then,” he continued his story. “At first none of the officers believed him, so he made them send out our group as scouts. Damned if he wasn't right! We found them gathering in that small town, Vessel I think, and then we rode like the Shadow Snake was on our tails, all the way back to camp. This time they believed him, we took the border, and he ended up being promoted.”

“As he should be,” Sarashi said without thinking. “If he had the mind to realise the enemy's moves, he needed to be in a leading position.”

Kheerl laughed, as if she had told him a joke.

“I guess your mother agreed,” he commented, his eyes glinting humorously. “She married him, not that he ever had the power to lead her anywhere, her being her own self.”

Sarashi had stared at him, completely stunned by the conclusion of his story. After Mirca's death there had been no one left whom had known her parents, really known them. Kheerl had been a duct to her father. The man, not the king.

He made me laugh so hard I cried, when he told me about the time my father put tadpoles in the sergeant's boots. He's like the grandfather I never had- but that story... My father knew how to lead people. He understood tactics and wars. She sighed, deeply occupied with her thoughts.

I wonder if he would be disappointed in me, that I let Galvar take the lead.

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