[Completed] Fire's Promise [Ashes of the Ylan #1] [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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5. Ch 1: Rites of Passage (Part 3 of 5)

When she reached the camp, she found the hunters had already returned from their daily excursion. The cooking fires had been lit outside the tents, and the smell of food hung heavy in the air, coaching a growl from her stomach. Deer and hare meat stewed in clay bowls filled with water, roots and grass seeds, so aromatic she could almost taste it already.

Caeryn met her at the edge of the camp, already frowning before she saw Sarashi.

“You did it again, didn't you?” she asked.

“They can't catch me,” Sarashi said with a nonchalant shrug. “You know how quick I am.”

“They have arrows!” the other girl hissed and reached out to touch the dried blood where Sarashi's ear had been cut.

Of course that's the first thing she sees, Sarashi thought tiredly.

“They only notched my ear,” she brushed Caeryn off, not in the mood to argue about it.

“Oh, I see!” Caeryn threw up her hands. “Well then, fine! Nothing you use then.”

“I do use them,” Sarashi grumbled.

No, you don't. You may hear what people say, but you discard whatever you don't agree with!” Caeryn tweaked her nose, like one would a child. “You're supposed to be an adult soon. Start acting like it.”

Sarashi pushed her hands away.

If I need to start acting like an adult, you need to start treating me like one,” she pointed out. “And I'm not an adult, until after the hunt,” the Princess continued dismissively.

“Did others arrive while I was gone?”

When children of the tribes reached their fifteenth summer, they were declared dead and sent out onto the plains, where they were expected to survive on their own for seven days. By sunset on the seventh day, they would return to the tribe as adults, carrying prey as a gift to the Veiled God, their creator and protector. Sarashi was supposed to set out on her seven day hunt come dawn. As a rule, only the tribes members of the young going hunting were present for all this, but over the last week several strangers from other tribes had arrived.

Caeryn glanced away, her expression one of discomfort.

“The Mahal of the Horned Owls showed up,” she said. “He wanted to meet you, but mother told him you were out hunting, since nobody could find you.”

As Mahal of the Wild Horses tribes, it was Chehera's responsibility to greet the guests of the tribe appropriately and in keeping with the customs.

“A Mahal showed up?” Sarashi repeated, incredulous towards the notion. The chieftains of the tribes never left their people. For one to show up to another tribe's rite of passage was unprecedented.

Caeryn nodded.

“They're here because of me,” Sarashi commented in annoyance, her hand twitching with it. Even though there was others who were going on their seven day hunt at the same time as she, everybody knew why the strangers were there. She avoided looking at Caeryn.

“They're here because they're curious,” Caeryn corrected her sharply, grasping Sarashi's shoulder and turning her half around. “Curious or lazy, or they'd do something about the Emperor's patrols instead of looking to a youngling for guidance.”

Sarashi watched her for a second. Caeryn was a year older than her, already an adult by the tribe's standards, and shorter by more than a hand's width. Her eyes were softer and warmer, and her hair was cut short to combat the heat. There was strength in her face, high cheekbones and slim lips.

“I'm not intimidated by them,” Sarashi said, referring to the guests. “They don't frighten me.”

Caeryn gave a frustrated sigh.

“Maybe they should,” she commented. “You need a healthy dose of fear.”

“My parents weren't afraid of anything,” Sarashi said coldly. “Why should I be?”

Caeryn raised an eyebrow but held her tongue, so as not to mention that both Sarashi's parents were dead. They had reached Chehera's tent, which saved her from having to answer.

Instead she held the tent's entrance open for Sarashi to go inside.

“I'll stay out here,” she said.

Sarashi flashed her a quick smile, as she stepped into the scarcely lit tent.

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