[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


52. Ch 7: Amongst the Ylan (Part 6 of 8)

The Cahlish man dragged Sarashi to the outskirts of the military camp, so that he would not have to move her corpse afterwards.

And so no one will trip over me, she thought bitterly. She could barely walk as it was, and he pulled the rope so hard that it tightened around her throat once more, and she saw stars.

She would only get one chance.

It had been a mistake for the man to drag her a step behind himself this time, instead of allowing her to walk in front of him. As soon as he stopped and turned, pulling his sword from its scabbard, she let her wounded leg fold beneath her, and rolled forward into his legs. Somehow she managed to get the scabbard tangled up in falling limbs, grabbing for his boot.

They both went down, and the boot shaft folded and squashed down heavily on her hands, but she felt the small blade between her fingers and took it with her when she rolled off of the soldier and away. He kicked her as she did so.

Already he was getting back up, sword still in his hand.

She continued rolling, furiously holding both hands, and knife, to her mouth as she used her teeth to pull it from its sheath. She stopped, using precious few moments to whittle at the rope around her wrists, keeping her eyes on the soldier as he lounged towards her.

Stop! Please-” she begged with a gasp.

He seemed to hesitate.

I know what you want to know about their leader,” she told him, still working on the rope.

I want nothing from you,” he told her and swung his blade.

Sarashi threw her body to the side, dropped the knife, and tore at the rope with her hands. It finally broke. Grasping with both hands for anything as she had to throw herself to the other side to avoid another swing of his sword, her hand closed around a stone. But it fell away between numb fingers.

Griba lounged from the tall grass, and closed her jaws around the wrist that held the sword. The man roared and dropped it, and swung his other arm to hit the lynx firmly on its nose. With a furious yowl, the feline let go and landed on its feet. It jumped into the air and back when he swung for it again.

Sarashi took the chance to get to her feet, taking flight out onto the plains: away from the camp.

Shouts of alarm were spreading like wildfire, and already soldiers were running to with weapons. Griba stayed behind for only a moment, before she turned, easily catching up to the wounded princess.

Sarashi ran as fast as she could, stretching her body and legs to the utmost of their capabilities. Fear coursed through her blood as arrows flew by her, and she stumbled. Her usually trustworthy feet were all but clumps of clumsy flesh, and she sidestepped almost drunkenly. Her eyes flickered over the grass, searching for anything that might prove a salvation.

She slipped on loose gravel, sliding over the ground and screaming with the pain of it. They were going to catch her.

The lynx landed firmly in the dust beside her, growling, and pushed her with its entire body. She grabbed the long fur on Griba's neck, and the strong feline lounged forward, pulling her up with it. As the cat ran on, so did Sarashi, borrowing both support and force from Griba.

Looking over her shoulder, the young ebony woman saw a group of imperial soldiers beginning to catch up on foot. From the camp two others were on their way on newly saddled horses, swords in hands where some of those on foot carried bows. One pulled back the string and took aim, and an arrow pierce the ground where Sarashi's foot had just been.

Go!” she cried to Griba.

Suddenly the fanfare of a horn sounded over the imperial camp, and the noise behind her changed. Chancing another glance back, she saw smoke rising from the encampment.

It did not deter her personal hunters though, as one of them spurred his horse wildly to go faster. He would be over her in mere moments, unless- Gasping for breath she let go of Griba, and felt herself fall. As fast as she could, she found a stone on the ground. The men on the horses had no helmets: They must have forgotten!

“Veiled be with me,” she whispered, and stood up straight, a rock in each hand.

The first of the riders were thundering down on her, his horse frothing at the mouth from the way he had ridden it.

She pulled her arm back and threw without consciously taking aim. And maybe the Veiled truly was with her, for she hit him by the eye and he roared, and turned his horse. And then Griba attacked the poor stallion, biting its legs. It was too much for the horse, and soon it was galloping away to the Gods knew where, rider still on its back, cursing and shouting.

But there was no time to enjoy the sight, for in that moment the other rider reached her, and she had to fall backwards to avoid his blade. Taking advantage of the motion, she rolled under the horse, barely registering where its hooves cut her skin. As she passed the animal, she grabbed the foot of the man on top of it and pulled.

He hacked his sword awkwardly towards her, screaming at her. But as the horse danced onwards, she held fast and he was dragged off. Before he managed to get his blade in order, she hit him as hard as she could with the rock she had left. She did not dwell on the sound of bones being crushed. The ones on foot were catching up.

Fumbling for the reins of the sidestepping gelding with the blue saddle cloth and the close cropped mane, she managed to pull herself up on it. Griba snapped at its legs, and it took off with Sarashi on its back, leaving the silver-bearded lynx behind.

At one point, days, or moments, or hours later, the horse trotted in between a grove of trees with curled limbs and dark green foliage. Closer to death than consciousness, she fell off of the horse like a cut down tree, and hit the ground with a heavy thud. She barely felt it. Clouds covered the night sky in her mind, despite the fact that she no longer knew what time it must be. She shivered, her skin itching and crawling with pain.

She gave out a long whimpering noise, needing the release of crying, but her eyes were too dry.

She fell asleep where she had fallen, earth swaying dizzily beneath her, and when she woke, her head was finally clear. It was night. She was alone. She was hurt, and certainly running a fever, her body so battered she could barely move.

Not even able to get on her hands and knees, she dragged her unresponsive body to the small lake in the middle of the grove, tears now streaming from her eyes. Every motion brought forth a gasp and a cry. She crawled into the cold waters, keeping her upper body halfway up on shore. With clumsy fingers she removed what was left of her ragged sarong. She let the waters of the holy grove take away the dust and dirt gathered in her wound. To wash away the blood. To let the coolness soothe her fever. To survive.

When she shivered not from hurt or heath, but cold, she pulled herself up and out of the water again. This time she found herself able to crawl over to one of the ylan, and curl up between its thick roots. Nested there, at the feet of her ancestors, she fell asleep again.

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