[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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14. Ch 3: Ashes in the Wind (Part 1 of 10)

3

Ashes in the Wind

The Wild Plains

(1248 p. CP)

 

The first day of the feast, Sarashi slept until early evening. When she woke, Caeryn helped her outside the tent to a seat of thick, soft pelts built beside her tent. There she lay, slipping in and out of consciousness, drinking and eating when awake, and getting the rest her body so craved. Women of the tribe had cleansed and bandaged her wounds, and Caeryn brought her clean clothes to wear.

People drifted towards her, watching her and greeting her when she was awake. They eyes revealed pure wonder.

Sarashi hurt all over. She could not have left the furs had she wanted to, she was so dizzy, and her limbs too heavy. Nausea built whenever she smelled food being prepared or saw it eaten, but she forced herself to nipple at what was offered. Ever small motion tugged at some wound or another. Her overtaxed muscles had become stiff and hard while she slept, and now hurt almost as much as the wounds.

The biggest reason she lingered outside in the evening sun, was that guests kept coming to make their introductions and goodbyes, as they left for their own tribes. Suddenly they were eager to address her in a way they had not before the hunt. Some watched her from a distance, bowing when she caught their eyes. The only solace was that Dawoul was not among them, having returned to his tribe the day she set out on the hunt.

“Would you like to go inside?” Caeryn asked her, and nodded towards the tent. But Sarashi shook her head.

“It's fine,” she said, as a tired smile graced her lips. She meant it. She enjoyed watching the people sing and play games in the sun. After the winter where prey had been little, they had spent the spring hunting and gathering. The celebration after the rite of passage was as much a celebration of the new adults, as it was of the summer's arrival and the reviving plants. Not nearly as plentiful as after the fall rains, it was still the first real time for the tribe to take a breath and enjoy life since the last monsoons. There was a quiet feeling of relief in her chest, that she had done well for her rite. She was not as elated as she felt she should be, but merely satisfied.

Caeryn snorted.

“Don't blame me if the sun boils your brain,” she said, shifting a bit where she sat. Her hands were busied weaving dried straw together to form a mat. One of those she used to cover the ground in her tent had been worn to bits, so she worked to replace it.

Sarashi stuck her tongue at her.

“The God didn't unveil it for us to shirk its light,” she mumbled happily, soaking in the light.

A young woman came towards them, and Sarashi frowned at the unknown tattoo on the woman's neck: All Mahaya had a tattoo marking their tribe. The Wild Horses carried theirs on their shoulder, a pattern of dots resembling a twister, just like Mirca's. The Horned Owls had theirs on the back of their left hand, two triangular shapes much the same as the horns of their name sakes.

When the stranger reached the pelted mound where Sarashi rested, she bowed, gracefully lowering herself to sit on the ground beside her.

“I'm sorry for disturbing your rest,” the woman spoke. “But I wished to greet you before I leave.”

Sarashi lifted an eyebrow, unsure of how to reply.

“I am Hia of the Cheetahs, and I am honoured to meet you, Lady of Rama, last of your kin,” she greeted.

Sarashi's confusion was replaced with a decidedly sick feeling in her stomach.

“I have not claimed my mother's title,” she said coldly.

Hia frowned, her eyes flickering to Caeryn in search of an answer, before she looked back to Sarashi. Caeryn kept her eyes on her weaving.

“But...” Hia said, trying to find words to her question. “Your vow to the God? To avenge our people- I- We, simply assumed that-”

“You assumed wrong!” Sarashi snapped, cutting off the blame she found in the woman's words. “I have no intent of claiming the title, nor passing it on.” Any illusion of having done well, of having upheld her parents' names and honour fled her, the cold feeling in the pit of her stomach spreading.

“I am sorry,” the woman said after a pause, lowering her gaze. But not before Sarashi saw the flash of anger in her eyes. “I must return to my tribe now the rite has been concluded.”

Hia stood, looking down on Sarashi.

“The people will expect you to lead them, you know,” she said. “Whether you claim your title or not.”

She turned on her heel and walked away without any form of goodbye. The blatant disrespect as sure a sign of anger, as the disgust in her eyes had been.

Sarashi bit the inside of her cheek, failing utterly to push away the miserable shadows clinging to her thoughts and heart. Exhaustion tightened its grasp around her, the conversation replaying itself in her mind. She knew that Hia was right. People would keep expecting things of her she could not give. She had made them no promises, save for her own lone hunt of the Empire.

Why can't that be enough? she asked in her thoughts.

Caeryn noticed Sarashi's eyes begin to drift shut, and rose. Sarashi opened her eyes and held up a hand.

“Help me inside the tent?” she asked, and Caeryn nodded silently, empathy in her gaze, a sad turn of her lips. She grasped Sarashi's hand and lifted her to her feet, supporting her into the tent. Then she excused herself, having promised Gira's daughter that she would teach the little one to make tiny boats of straw and sticks, leaving Sarashi alone to get some more sleep.

In the privacy and loneliness of her tent, Sarashi allowed herself to shed silent tears.

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