[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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17. Ch 3: Ashes in the Wind (Part 4 of 10)

There was not a rein or saddle in sight, as the horse and woman moved like one across the plains. Every fluid motion of power from the mount, was met instinctively by its rider, who leaned gracefully into every strong stride of the Ramera beneath her. Its coat as black as coal and with the shimmer of pure silver where the sun kissed it. The stallion was a vision in perfection, strong, with a wide chest, small head and long legs build for speed.

Wild horses had always been native to the wide spread grasslands, but a few hundred years ago somebody had released several Remerish stallions on the plains. The mix between the Plains' wild horses and the Remerish became the Ramera Wild Herds. Never brought to neither rope nor hand, they kept their spirit and wariness of man, as natural selection allowed only the strongest survivors. The result was a breed of wild horses with the speed and agility of the Plains bred and the strength and size of the Remerish. In all of the world, there were no finer horses, and the Mahaya refused to sell stallions and mares alike, allowing only geldings to be brought to market. These wild horses would only ever be born on the Wild Plains.

Selling a single gelded colt could bring a tribe golden bits enough to buy silk for sarongs and jewellery for vanity, not to mention spiced wine, herbs, food, tools and other things they might lack on the plains.

Chehera turned the horse beneath her with an invisible signal, circling the herd, and loosening the rope over her shoulder. Letting it slide between two fingers, she twisted it, and looped it into the air, keeping it in constant flight and motion.

Shar, her bonded, the stallion of the herd, snorted and she smiled, acknowledging the pleasure he took in this run with her. She so rarely had the time to do so lately, much less the energy. Shar kept the herd well for her, kept them near the tribe, and kept them together. The animal of her tribe, he was as much the reason she had been chosen as Mahal as she herself was, which was only right as she and him were one soul. One heart.

He threw his head to one side, changing direction at the turmoil of her emotions, his nostrils flaring angrily as he drew breath into his lungs. She laid a calming hand on his neck, still keeping her rope spinning with the other.

Sarashi had sought her out that morning and had told her of her decision to leave the tribe.

Chehera had known it was coming, but it had hit her like a basket of cold water none the less. Horses did not leave their herds, unless they were driven from them or found a stronger stallion to follow. She ached to imagine that Sarashi might follow other's council, council that might lead her astray.

Shar's hooves thundered against the hard ground, the grass whipping against Chehera's feet as he lunged through it.

Her sharp eyes caught sight of the blazing red she was seeking, and she waited only a moment before letting the rope sweep through the air. The loop fell neatly over a young colt's head, sliding round its neck.

The colt trashed angrily in defiance of the rope, but Chehera simply let the rope slide through her fingers again, twisting it and keeping hold. Shar moved in perfect accord, never allowing Chehera to be pulled from his back, and after yet a wild sprint over the plains, the colt calmed.

Together they brought the horse to Sarashi, who awaited them.

“He's yours,” Chehera said when they reached the young princess. “Take him with you when you leave.”

“But-” Sarashi protested, eyes wide and fingers spread. “He's not gelded. Are you sure you want to give him to me?”

“Are you sure you want to leave?” Chehera countered. “Don't be a fool. The Horned Owls are staying four days walk from here, and that's if you follow the river. I'd rather give you a horse and have you take a longer route to avoid the soldiers.” She slid down from Shar's back and reached out to stroke the stallion's muzzle. “Besides, he isn't bonded to anyone, and if I keep him here it's either gelding him or having him challenge my Shar. His blood's too good to waste on either. Better you take him, and he gets his own herd some day, or you bring him back once me and Shar's gone.”

A bonded stallion would often refrain from battling the other male horses, tempered by the bond and wishes of his bonded. An unbound one had no such reins and would test its strength once it grew into it. The Wild Horses tribe and the herd they kept watch over was special in that the lead stallion had bonded Chehera. One day he would be driven off, but so far no young challenger had had luck, and were most often chased off by the black giant, with wounds to spare.

“Thank you,” Sarashi said sincerely. The colt was a costly gift, and Chehera's belief in Sarashi's return a thought to be treasured.

The young stallion showed its teeth, ears laid down flat as it stomped. Already it had begun trotting back and forth, testing the rope, and its dark eyes looking for a way to escape back to the herd. Its chestnut coloured coat bordered on the colour of red clay, its mane and tail the same colour albeit a shade darker.

“This one red terror will have people make way for you,” Chehera said fondly and put the rope in Sarashi's hand.

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