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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62. Ch 8: Dream Catcher (Part 8 of 8)

The north-western part of the Wild Plains

(1250 p. CP)

 

 

The sharp sound of a whip, startled Sarashi out of her sleep. She opened her eyes to a dark tent. There was nothing there, and everything was quiet. No danger. From one of the tent's poles, hung the little dream catcher, and seeing it fought off the paralysing terror which stilled her. For once, her heart slowed down and her mind calmed, without the use of pain or movement.

Sarashi gasped, like a cry of relief.

The little dream circlet grounded her whenever she woke from the nightmares. It served as a reminder that she was not alone. That she was not back in General Olston's keeping. That she had friends close by.

Finally, the cold wind in her heart quieted, but left behind an echo.

She slipped out of her bed furs, grabbed a sarong, wrapped it around loosely around herself, and leaving the tent.

They had left the temple the day before, and made their way north-east. Her goodbye with Caeryn and the others had been emotional, but expected. Erar was worse off than Sarashi had been, still unable to walk on his own, so they had had to tie him to Silver Song as they travelled. Janko refused to let Erar ride any other horse than his bonded.

Warm summer air caressed her skin and made the small hairs rise up, as she made her way to another tent. In the darkness she could see the unrolled furs inside it, and the person sleeping there.

He woke when she entered, probably as light a sleeper as she was, possibly for the same reasons.

"Sarashi?" he asked groggily.

"I don't want to be alone," she told Tallo.

If that shocked him, he did not show it. Instead he held aside the blanket which covered him, for her to slid beneath.

She untied the sarong and joined him wordlessly.

At first he simply held her against himself, sharing warmth and presence with her.

But that same restlessness she so often felt, hummed within her, and she felt the need to move. To feel the rush of a fight, or flight. Grabbing him, she pressed herself closer, her body hot and flush with his. Her kiss was demanding. She wanted this. Needed it.

And apparently he did too.

Afterwards, Sarashi let her fingers trail over the circle shaped scar on Tallo's back. It was pale against his dark skin, much like her own scars and wounds, so different in shape and yet of the same meaning. Hers were proof she had survived. Proof of her battles, and trials. His was a reminder of his own battles and survival.

He turned around when he felt her touch, and his lean muscles flexed beneath his skin.

Raising an eyebrow, he did not voice the question in his eyes.

Sarashi smiled softly, but it was a sad smile.

"I was thinking," she told him quietly.

"Hmm?"

"The slave brand," she admitted. "I've barely met an Enshalian without it."

Tallo's eyes left hers, as he looked away.

"Think of it like the tribe's tattoos," he told her, in part to chance the subject. "It shows who you can trust."

Sarashi narrowed her eyes, not liking the idea. The circle brand did not represent her people, nor would it ever define them.

"I can't." she whispered. "They dehumanize us, and make us out to be no more than beasts. So they won't have to feel guilt for what they do to us."

Strong fingers grasped her chin, and drew her in for a deep kiss. She enjoyed his attempt at distracting her, and allowed him to do so. As she dug her fingers into his skin, he returned the favour. The slight pain mixed with her pleasure as they sunk deeper into each other. He knew, and she knew, that they would never be heart mates, or partners.

But that did not mean that they could not share warmth and chase away loneliness together.

Afterwards, as she drifted into dreamlessness, her thoughts floated back to the mark on his shoulder, and his comment about tribal tattoos. It nicked at something inside her, but whatever it was evaded her, as she fell asleep.

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