Empire of Jackals
Chrysathamere Trilogy Book 2
by Morgan Cole
Genre: Fantasy
The war with Tyrace is over.
It was supposed to be a time of celebration. Of triumph. But for Marilia Sandara, hero of Chrysathamere Pass, the cost was too high. After watching he childhood friends slaughtered before her eyes, all she wants to do is sail back to Svartennos and try to forget the price
she had to pay for her victory.
But the peace isn’t long to last. After Emperor Vergana makes a shocking announcement—that he means to disinherit his true-born son, Rufyllys, in favor of his adopted child, Prince Ilruyn—the seeds are sown that will plunge Navessea back into war. This time, Marilia and her twin brother, Annuweth, find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that threatens to undo all they fought for. By the time the dust settles and the killing stops, only one of the children of Karthtag-Kal may be left standing.

The Story so Far

Marilia, bastard daughter of a prostitute and a deceased war hero, fled her mother’s brothel in the kingdom of Tyrace, along with her twin brother, Annuweth, in order to escape a life of slavery. She made her way to Karthtag-Kal Sandaros, Prefect of the Order of Jade, the elite knights who serve the Emperor of Navessea, Moroweth Vergana. Due to his friendship with Marilia’s father, Karthtag-Kal adopted the twin children as his own and brought them to his home, where he raised them and trained them; under his care, Marilia studied his books of history and warfare and impressed her father with her skill at Sharavayn, a strategy game that young Navessea noblemen play. Karthtag-Kal’s growing affection for Marilia created a rift between her and Annuweth, as her brother became jealous of her abilities.

While living in the capitol, Marilia became friends with the emperor’s daughter, Petrea Vergana, and learned of her animosity towards the emperor’s adopted son, Prince Ilruyn Ikaryn-Vergana.

After she turned sixteen, Marilia was married to Kanediel Paetos, a lord of an island province of Navessea named Svartennos. Annuweth, meanwhile, joined the Order of Jade and eventually became Captain of the Dragonknights, the Emperor’s personal guards.

Marilia lived with him and his sister, Camilline (for whom she began to develop strong feelings) until the island was invaded by the army of Tyrace. Svartennos’ leader, Ben Espeleos, was taken prisoner in a surprise attack, leaving the island’s army under Kanediel’s command. After Kanediel was killed in a duel, Marilia convinced Svartennos’ Elders that she was the answer to an ancient prophecy that stated that the spirit of a long-deceased warrior queen would return in the form of another young woman when the island stood in danger. The Elders put Marilia in command of the defense of Svartennos, and she achieved an incredible victory against overwhelming odds, crushing the Tyracian army.

Marilia and the army of Svartennos joined with the rest of the Navessean army (including her brother, Annuweth) and sailed south to attack the capitol city of Tyrace, hoping to end the war. Though the attack was a success, many soldiers in Marilia’s army—encouraged by the Graver, commander of the legion of a nearby imperial province and the man who killed Marilia’s father, long ago—pillaged the city and slaughtered many civilians before Marilia could restrain them, including most of Marilia’s childhood friends from her mother’s brothel. In order to save one of those friends from murder at the Graver’s hands, Marilia and Annuweth engaged the Graver in a duel. Marilia was victorious, leaving the Graver badly wounded, but Annuweth was also sorely wounded in the exchange.

With its capitol city conquered, Tyrace surrendered. Impressed by Marilia’s victories and her role in ending the war, Karthtag-Kal offered to ask the Emperor of Navessea to name her the new Prefect of the Order of Jade upon his retirement. However, Marilia declined, sick of war and the empire’s habit of venerating conquerors and warriors. Plagued with guilt for her brother’s suffering, she also lied to Karthtag-Kal and to the Chronicler who had come to write the story of the war, telling them that Annuweth had helped her create the strategy that led to Tyrace’s defeat…


Marilia, The Warlord
Chrysathamere Trilogy Book 1
Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life: one of her deceased father’s friends, the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general.
What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her.
When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s foes. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to help repel the enemy…if she can convince anyone to follow her.
The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a pact with the man who murdered her father.
Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s Game, Marilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of war, romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and a young woman’s fight to find her place in the world.
**Get it FREE!! **

Marilia, the Warlord

Morgan Cole

               

 “Please, help me. I don’t know what to do.”

 Marilia knelt on the floor of the tent, staring into the candle-flame. It was a blue candle, for clarity and wisdom.  She needed some now, more than she ever had. 

“Father,” she begged. “I need your help now. Anything you can give. The Tyracian army is here, and if we don’t stop them…” her voice faded into silence. She couldn’t bring herself to speak the words out loud.

Come on, she urged herself. All those games of strategy you used to play…all those war-books you used to read…what good was any of it if it can’t save you now?

But the spirits and gods felt far away. Though she stared into the light until her eyes watered, though she breathed in the smoke until it tickled her lungs and scratched the back of her throat raw, no clarity came. No wisdom. There was only fear. A dread that burned inside her with a heat far greater than any candle’s flame.

You’re going to die. You’re all going to die.

She rose and made her way outside the tent. She listened to the sounds of the army—the rattle of armor, the cries of horses, the faint buzz of nearby voices. Considering she was surrounded by almost ten thousand men, it was remarkably quiet. The soldiers of Svartennos were subdued; they huddled close to their campfires, casting anxious gazes towards the south, where a smear of red like a bloodstain scarred the ashen face of the sky. The wind carried the smell of charred wood; a gray river of smoke rose from somewhere behind the southern hills and flowed upwards to join with the sea of gray clouds.

Svartennos City was burning.

Once it was gone, the Tyracian army would come for them.

Her husband was dead. Her home was turning to ashes before her eyes. 

What’s next? What will the Tyracians take? Maybe tomorrow they’ll march up this hill and kill your friends. Then they’ll sail to the rest of Navessea. Who knows how far they’ll get? How many they’ll kill? Your father? Your brother? The empire itself? At least you won’t be around to see it, except as a spirit. Because if they make it that far, you’ll probably already be dead.

In the valley around her was an army of weary, heartsick, outnumbered men. If the great Emperor Urian was right, and hope was worth a thousand swords, then they were even more outnumbered than they looked, because after the sudden loss of their prince and their greatest city, the soldiers of Svartennos had run short of hope.

In the command tent was a general who was no match for the enemy he faced. A man too proud to listen to reason, who had sent away his strategoi so that he could pace and fret alone, doing his best to convince himself—wrongly—that his strength, bluster and courage would be enough to save the day.

There was a chance—a slim chance, but still there—that he might listen to her.

But only if she had an idea worth listening to.

In truth, she needed more than one idea—there was no way to know exactly what the Tyracians would do, so she had to be ready for several contingencies. And she had to be ready now—for all she knew, she might have only one chance to make herself heard.

“Marilia.” She turned to see Camilline standing next to her. Her friend—her sister-by-marriage—put her hand on Marilia’s shoulder. “You look like you’re about to rip out your hair.”

“I feel like I am. Camilline…I don’t know what to do. I can’t think.”

“Just take a moment.” Camilline drew close, close enough that Marilia could feel her warmth. It was a greater comfort than the warmth of the candle had been. “Just breathe.”

Marilia took a deep breath.

She pictured herself standing in her father’s shrine, listening to the deep, soothing rumble of his voice as he ran her through the Stoics’ trance. Empty your mind. Find your center.

She took another breath in and out.

This is just another game of Capture-the-Emperor, she told herself.

It’s not. These aren’t some pieces on a game board. They’re men’s lives. It’s not the same.

Then pretend it is. If it was, what would you do? Just sit back and let yourself lose?

No. Your father always called you stubborn, because you are. You’d fight to the last piece. You’d make sure that if you lost, you could sit back and comfort yourself with the knowledge that no one could have done any better.

You have to do this. You were meant to do this.

“I thought there would be more time,” she muttered under her breath. The Tyracians would be there before the sun set again.

Well, there isn’t. Make do with the time you have.

In a way, she had been preparing for this moment all her life. She thought back to all those little moments that had led her here, a long and dizzying path to this cliff’s edge. From those first, innocent games in her mother’s pillow house to those years in her father’s villa, to her marriage to Kanediel, lord of Svartennos—a union which had been so suddenly cut short.

She’d watched him fall. She’d been helpless then. She wasn’t now. 

She closed her eyes, let the world around her fall away, let the noise of the camp fade to a distant murmur like a river. She forgot the taste of the smoke, the bite of fear in her chest.

It was just her and the Tyracians, trapped in their game—the only game that mattered.

Life or death.

Winner take all.

Somewhere far—but not too far—to the south, a war-horn echoed through the hills.

They were coming.

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After being bombarded with one too many school motivational posters, I decided to “shoot for the moon” by pursuing a risky double-major in creative writing and history on the assumption that the worst-case scenario would be landing among the stars. I instead landed in long-term unemployment—and unpaid internships, let’s not forget the unpaid internships—in small-town Ohio. Eventually, after several re-writes and two unhappy years, my first novel (not counting a couple of incredibly pretentious high fantasy books from my high school and college years that have all hopefully been hunted down and burned) was picked up by a literary agent—and then put back down when it was determined it was not marketable to a young adult audience.
Eventually, I began making more financially sound life choices and now work as an attorney in the public sector while continuing to write on the side.
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