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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68. Ch 9: Where there is Smoke (Part 6 of 8)

When the storm faded, so did the elation and the last remainders of their energy. Night fell with as the air pressure changed, and the colder air dispelled the last of the thunder and the wind. In its wake, their horses hung their heads, and their riders stumbled and fumbled.

Erar swung down off Silver Song, with no trace of his usual grace. He hissed in pain as his abused wounds stretched, and looked around with worry.

"Griba's not here," he mumbled.

"She'll catch up," Janko told him firmly. "She always does."

Erar shot him a look.

"I know," he said. "Won't keep me from worrying."

"Mother wolf," Sarashi teased, but there was no heart in the words, just tiredness. Without her needing to say so, everyone had begun rubbing down the horses to keep them from catching ill. Only when that was done did they settle down for a quiet meal- most of them too exhausted to eat much, but aware that they needed to. Or they would lose much needed strength. Sarashi almost fell asleep at one point, only to force herself awake with a startle. She rose to her feet and glanced around.

"We need to find out how far ahead we are," she said wearily.

"There's got to be leagues between us and the troops," Janko said. "The horses have run themselves ragged, and most of the imperials are infantry. We can afford to rest, and even if we can't- We're getting nowhere with the horses like this." His eyes on Silver Song were black with fear for her well being.

"But-" Sarashi protested, wobbling on her feet. She needed to know precisely where General Olston was-"

"Rest," Janko impressed on her. "We need it, look at Rayla."

When she did, she saw that Rayla had curled up on herself in the tall grass, not unlike a deer. Her stolen glaive laid beside her. Another look around told her that the grieving sister was far from the only one who had fallen asleep at the first possible moment. Roah was asleep, leaned up against Frekla. Uran was nodding off, unaware of everything around him, as a small bird stole food from his hand. The horses still kissed the ground with their lips, they were that listless.

"Fine," she murmured. "Who'll-"

"I'll take first watch," Tallo said. He had been listening in on the conversation while checking his horse's legs. He led the horse to the others, and left it untied. They were too tired to run off or stray. "I'll wake the rest of you in an hour or two."

Nobody bothered setting up shelter, and no fires were lit. The evening dew settled on their skin, leaving them cool, though there was barely enough water to form a single tear. That was the thing with dry storms. They blew away everything in their wake, even the moisture of the air.

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