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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41. Ch 6: Night Raid (Part 3 of 8)

She had only just finished washing the minthel from her hair, when she heard someone approaching. Looking up, she ducked down into the water, and caught sight of the wife who had hugged her when they came into camp.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn't mean to intrude, but I want to talk with you.”

Sarashi shook her head, trying to banish her heavy thoughts. She had hoped to be alone, where no one would watch her, for as long as possible. But she could not make herself ask the woman to leave.

“It's fine,” she lied.

The other woman began undressing. She was small of stature, almost sickly thin- but there was a grace to her none the less. Her face was far from pretty, her eyes marked by tiredness and pain. But her lips were full and shapely, and her eyes were clear. Stretch marks covered her stomach like a tiger's stripes.

No wonder her husband kissed her like that. There's so much beauty behind the wear and tear.

“Liery,” the woman introduced herself as she sunk into the water.

“Sun shines,” Sarashi muttered, closing her eyes. She opened them again and met Liery's gaze. “I'm sorry. I'm exhausted.”

“It's fine,” she said. She forced a smile.

“You wanted to talk?” Sarashi prompted, closing her eyes again. She was too tired to deal with the other woman's grief.

“The soldiers killed most of my tribe,” Liery started. “They cut down my son, and took my husband away. You helped return him to me, and I cannot thank you enough for that-”

Sarashi held up her hand, water falling from her fingers like rain from the sky.

“You don't have to,” she interrupted. “I promised-”

“I know,” Liery said. “That's what I wanted to ask. There is nothing here for the Sun Hawks any more. The others are being absorbed into other tribes, our Mahal is dead, and we're too few left.”

Sarashi listened, her eyes glued to Liery's face. Perhaps the other woman was nowhere near as fragile as she seemed. Her voice had not cracked once, and though she had cried earlier, there was no tears in her eyes now. Just anger.

Do I look like that too?

“My husband, Borak, and I would join your tribe, travel with you. Hunt the imperial soldiers with you,” Liery explained. “Others from the Sun Hawks would too, I know.”

Sarashi blinked.

“I don't have a tribe,” she said hesitantly.

“Your group then,” Liery indulged her. “We want to fight.”

Sarashi untangled some of her hair with her fingers as she thought. Her first instinct was to say no; she did not need to be responsible for more people. The ones who were travelling with her now were friends, not subjects, and that somehow made it less intimidating. But to include strangers?

And why not?

Liery offered without being asked, as did her husband. Sarashi had no right to refuse them to fight, and when she thought about it, no good reason. She needed all the help she could get if she was to fight the Sapphire Empire, a prospect growing more and more realistic. She did not want to be alone.

And if I don't let them join, they might attack the soldiers on their own, or join someone like Galvar.

“You'll be welcome,” she said reluctantly. Then she took a deep breath and raised her head, holding out both hands.

“Sun shines on merry meet, as they say in the mountains,” she greeted forcing a crooked smile. “Welcome to our group, Liery.”

Liery smiled back, her eyes sparkling with fire as she pressed her palm against Sarashi's.

“And it is kind. Thank you, your highness.”

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