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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2. Prologue

Prologue

Capital of Cahl - Ilianril

(1237 p. CP)

 

Years of military service showed in the set shoulders and straight spine of the man standing in front of the Sapphire Emperor, their eyes level with each other. For all the times the High General had stood face to face with Solviarus Ilian Waleniur the Third, Light of Cahl, he had done so like this. Always a quiet triumph in the warrior's posture. The self confidence of a wolf. The sharpness of a sword.

And yet there was always a sliver of doubt in Tiburon's mind when he faced the Emperor, as if he was still that young soldier who had first met the ruler of the Sapphire Empire. Fresh from the battlefield, not yet High General of all the Empire's armies. Not yet noble. Not yet experienced or hardened by countless battles and renowned wars.

Solvarius was young compared to Tiburon. His Cahlish skin, which should be golden brown, was pale and creamy as he had never walked under the sun. His hazel brown eyes held flecks of green fire and were heavily lined with black kohl. His dark hair reached longer than he was tall, always braided, oiled and arranged in a way reminiscent of the Cahlish Gods of Old. His body was slim and long, covered in rich tunics of silk and satin. Golden rings rested on every one of his thin fingers, and heavy earrings hung from his earlobes, holding rare blue diamonds that sparkled in the light of the candelabras.

“The conquest of Antir has been successful?” the Emperor asked, his voice low and dark.

“The Antirian Queen has been delivered to your dungeons, the King is dead and his crown broken before his people, as you ordered,” Tiburon reported, and folded his hands behind his back. “The rest of the royal family are being tracked down as we speak, and the King's mistress was found dead the day before I left for your great city, honoured be thy name for all eternity.”

The Emperor waved his hand as if to sweep away the formal address, and rose from the golden throne so Tiburon had to look up at him.

“Namur,” he said, his voice soft as the hiss of a snake. “You've served us well these last ten years since our father's passing. We shall make you a promise, if you wish it.”

Tiburon bowed, eyes locked on the floor. His last name was a stark reminder of his position.

“Your command is my wish, your Majesty,” he said, carefully keeping his tone neutral. He never quite knew what the Emperor's true intentions were. Tiburon remembered only too well the time when the last Emperor died, and the things that followed. The memories filled him with an intoxicating mixture of fear and admiration.

Solvarius Ilian Waleniur the Third had been all but ten years of age back then, and yet Tiburon held no doubt that the youth had been the one to poison his own father. Only three days later, after an all too quick burial of the late Emperor, Solvarius had called Tiburon to his chambers and told him that his strategic talent had been noticed. After that Tiburon took not one, but five countries in the new Emperor's name, and put them under the Empire's rule. The lands between Cahl and the Southern Sea had been first, then Molterain, Yemlir, and as of late, Antir.

He would stay loyal to the Sapphire Emperor always, and do the best by the position he had been granted, and time he was given.

“We command for you to conquer yet another country,” the Emperor said and drew Tiburon back to the present. “The Capital of the former Rama Empire, as we wish.”

“So mote it be,” Tiburon agreed.

“As for our promise to you, you shall be rewarded for this task. When Enshal is part of our Empire, it will need a ruler in our place,” Solvarius told him. He lazily lifted a grape from the platter offered by a slave. “That will be you.” He bit down on the fruit.

“Honoured be thy name,” Tiburon said with gratitude. His keen mind was already considering the advantages of such a position.

“You will not fail us, Namur,” the Sapphire Emperor told him coldly.

A shudder passed through the General, who feared no foe on the battlefield, and yet had nightmares about a man half his age.

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