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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44. Ch 6: Night Raid (Part 6 of 8)

The Wild Plains

(1250 p. CP)

 

“Here,” Janko called, throwing a rope through the air, for Rise to catch. She did so, pulled it tight and tied it to the spike they had just planged in the earth. Together they secured the hide covering the tent poles, while Sarashi helped Mya set up another of the dome-shaped shelters. It was early spring, just before Sarashi's seventeenth birthday.

“Got them!” Erar grinned, as he swung himself off Silver Song. He held up his satchel, showing off the three bottles of spiced wine he carried. “Rayla's got five more. They only cost us a small batch of Liery's glass pearls and the two fox pelts.” His beard had grown during the winter and was now a fuzzy coat covering his chin and cheeks. It was darker than the reddish brown hair on top of his head. He had become taller and wider over the shoulders too, building on muscles while they travelled. It occurred to Sarashi that he had to have turned twenty by now.

They finished setting up camp, and laying out mats inside the tents for floors. Fires were lit to cook over, and a few rode off to catch some small prey or other for dinner. Sarashi rolled out her sleeping furs in her tent, and when she stepped back outside, she stopped short.

Her group looked like a proper tribe.

The corners of her lips turned up and she ducked her head, hurrying to the bondire where Rise was making batter for sun cakes. Different seeds and nuts were mixed with honey and dried fruits, while a large flat stone heated in the middle of the fire. Rise showed her how to form the porridge and turn it in ground flour so it would keep its shape. Then they baked it on the flat stone.

As the sun set on the horizon, and birds began their evening song, the hunters returned with their prey. It was skinned and readied with spices and herbs, and then set to roast on spits by the fires. A delicious scent spread on the air.

When the first star sparkled on the sky, Erar found a pair of old drums. The drum skin was worn from many years' use, but Erar's limber hands made them sing intricate rhythms.

They all settled down together, eating and laughing. There was no grand speeches, no outright declarations of celebration or happiness, but Mya threaded clay pearls in Sarashi's hair, Liery gave her the tenderest part of the deer her husband had brought down, and Rise shared the last sun cake with her and Rayla. The bottles of spiced wine were sent round, and emptied.

Sarashi was light headed when Janko pulled her to her feet and began twirling her to the music. Others joined them readily, singing silly tunes to the sound of the drums. Other instruments were found and sent around till they found hands willing to play them. Erar gave Sarashi a kiss full on the mouth, both tender and strong, his eyes sparkling . She blushed with pleasant surprise, and laughed. She no longer knew if the dizziness was from the wine, or because she was loved.

Rayla's pearly laugh sounded in the night as she tried to excuse herself from singing, but Uran told her to do it anyway. Soon everyone was shouting for her to give it a go, and she got to her feet and threw herself into the song about the first mountain tribe.

 

 

Lady young and lady fair, by gale you blew them gone.

Lady Truth by power of wind, you took them from the dawn.

And as a young day did rise, we saw that best of all-

For mountains high we now can name, and newest home may call.

 

 

Her voice was clear and bright as always. Despite her protests, she seemed quite at ease with performing for them, and when she finished, Janko began an old song about a man with three legs. That started a round of everyone trying to come up with the most inappropriate songs they knew, and to everyone's surprise, usually broody Tallo won.

After that, Rayla pulled her sister to her feet and hushed everyone to silence. Rise did not make a show out of refusing to sing, though she did frown at her younger sister. After a deep breath, she began a song about a magical being who fell in love with a human, and wove her a never ending dream so she could sleep forever and never die. Avan watched her in enraptures for the duration of the song, and after, he asked her to dance.

Erar grabbed Janko, Mya took hold of Uran, and Tallo offered his hand to Sarashi, and soon it morphed into a chain dance where everyone switched partners again and again.

Needless to say, it got late before Sarashi, laughing and satisfied, got up and went to bed.

Her head spun as she slept.

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