[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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65. Ch 9: Where there is Smoke (Part 3 of 8)

A gust so powerful, it nearly pushed Erar off of his feet hit them, and only their horses kept them standing. Horses that were growing increasingly anxious as the storm grew in power. Like most animals on the plains, the Rameras' instincts were pressing at them to seek shelter from wind and lightning.

“There's a grove up ahead, we can take shelter there,” Janko shouted. His words were grabbed and carried away by the wind. The words were met with vacant stares and tired groans. The wind took its toll on all of them.

They brushed down the horses and walked them around the grove to cool them down, hoping the cool gusts would not make them sick. They kept them from drinking from the lake as well. The stream had been lukewarm, but the shaded grove pond was ice cold. It would make the horses' stomachs cramp up if they allowed them to drink their fill.

“The water level is down,” Uran muttered when he saw the spring.

“It's always like that during summer. Forget it,” Janko snapped. He and the others made the horses stand close together, and they huddled of their own accord. “Hopefully this storm will be a short one.”

“Might strike the Empire,” Erar said. He sounded much too tired, and he knew it. He was sitting, back up against one of the trees, and with closed eyes. Griba padded down to the water and lapped a bit of it, before she joined him and cuddled up to him. She had not left his side, not even to hunt, and her ribs were beginning to show. A growl left her when Janko walked past them.

Erar worried for her; just as he did Janko.

The former member of the Wild Horses had been nothing short of a hedgehog as of late, prickling everyone who got near him, Erar included. It exhausted the redhead almost as much as his wounds did. They slept in the same tent, and Janko kept up his over protectiveness, helping out with the smallest things, packing the horse and picking stuff up from the ground. But they did not talk. Janko was sullen and quiet, and it drove Erar mad.

The howling wind tearing at the tree tops made a sound that seemed almost longing to him, and he opened his eyes. Janko pressed a clay cup to his hand, and he took it.

“Thank you,” he smiled at his lover, sipping at the water.

Janko shrugged, permanent frown so strange on his jovial face. When Erar's face began to mirror his, he moved to walk away once more, but Erar growled and Griba echoed it angrily.

“No, no you don't,” he said. “Sit down. I've given you time, but I am tired, and we're going to talk.”

Janko blanked for a moment, his face dead pan, but then his shoulders sank and a deep sigh left him. He sat down and folded his legs in front of him, meeting Erar's gaze.

“Sorry.”

Erar stayed silent, watching Janko, and waiting for whatever he would say next.

Janko seemed to gather his thoughts, and then, with a long breath, he spoke them aloud.

“You know my dad died,” he said quietly. “And not from some accident, or illness. From a broken bond.”

“It's a terrible way to go,” Erar acknowledged. None of them realised his fingers had tightened their grip on Griba's fur. “How does that relate to your current mood?”

“You could have died.”

The statement hang in the air, heavy and filled with implications. Erar's breath caught in his throat, as Janko stared him down, and he saw the intense fear and rage in those dark eyes.

“I- I could have,” Erar admitted. “We all can, at any moment.”

“You could have died,” his lover repeated, “and I would have broken. Losing you- Only Silver Song might keep me alive, I realised, but I wouldn't be whole any more. It'd be like losing a bonded.” His voice shook, and his fingertips dug into Erar's wrist, painfully. “I hate you for that,” he whispered. “I hate you. I never wanted a bonded, I never wanted to be that vulnerable, but when I found Silver Song, I promised myself I would never get that close to another. I hate you.”

Erar's chest felt like it would burst if he breathed. Painful, painful like the bruising grip Janko had on his arm.

“In that case, I hate you too.”

He released his grip on Griba's pelt, and reached out to take hold of Janko's free hand, digging his fingers into his wrist and pulling the other man forward. As he did, he pressed a hard kiss to his lips, and Janko bit him. When they let each other go again, Erar rested his forehead against Janko's.

“We're both soul-bonded already,” he whispered. “Seems we are heart-bonded as well.”

“I hate you,” Janko whispered again, his eyes firmly closed, his body relaxing and his grip as well.

“I know,” Erar murmured softly. “I don't mind.”

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