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The sisters and Kail’s underling, Rufasa, plead with Yuri to remain with the Hatti tribe inside the city until Kail clears her of the assassination charges but Yuri is having none of it. Urhi has threatened to burn the city down to get at her and Yuri thinks she can spare the Hatti by leaving. Unfortunately, Nakia’s private army has already surrounded the city and cut off any avenue for escape. Yuri orders Rufasa, one of the best archers in the land, to put an arrow into Urhi.
It’s a difficult shot and Rufasa has to use a bow that normally takes three men to fire, but he sinks an arrow right into Urhi’s eye. With the commander wounded, the invading army’s discipline completely falls apart. They use the confusion to let Yuri escape with Hadi at her side. The soldiers give chase as they expect to be rewarded for bringing down the queen’s greatest enemy. Yuri and Hadi manage to outrun all but the most persistent of the mercenaries but they end up pinned in at the edge of a cliff. An enemy archer’s shot spooks Aslan and Yuri and the horse go tumbling into the river below.
But then Ramses appears and dives into the river after her. He is able to pull her up and drag her to safety before she drowns. Yuri thinks he’s here to help but he quickly informs her that this isn’t a rescue. This is a kidnapping. He explains that he plans to overthrow the current corrupt reigning dynasty and become pharaoh. And he wants Yuri to be his wife and queen. Then he starts licking her ear and grabbing her bewbs. When she kicks up a fuss, he binds her wrists, slings her over the back of his horse and rides off because Ramses is charming like that.
Back in Hattusa, Kail is at an impasse as to what to do. He can’t produce any evidence to exonerate Yuri so long as Nakia has Juda. Nor can he send his army to battle Nakia’s without risking his position. With him so close to becoming king of the Hittites, his responsibilities to the empire must take precedence over his love for Yuri, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an agonizing predicament. As he confers with his advisors as to what moves are open to them (not many), a dirty and exhausted Hadi bursts in to report that Ramses has made off with Yuri. Kail goes into a rage and decides to go after Ramses. Ilbani has to scramble to keep the prince’s departure from the city a secret.
Ursula decides to go forward with the plan she’s been going over in her head. The only way to clear Yuri’s name is to produce the real killer. Since there is no chance that Urhi will ever turn himself in, Ursula goes to the Senate and makes a false confession. They put her to questioning before Nakia and Ilbani (acting for the prince) and Ursula remains adamant that she is the assassin. Nakia tries to throw doubt on her testimony by saying that a mere maid couldn’t have plotted something like that. The tactic backfires when Ursula claims that she was working for Nakia. Nakia denies the accusation and leaves in a huff.
The Senate is too cowardly to punish the queen based on Ursula’s testimony alone but they sentence Ursula to death. The Senate didn’t find the accusation against Nakia credible enough but it turns the common people against the queen. Kash, Ursula’s lover, wants to call Kail back to Hattusa to try to get the sentence reversed but Ilbani stops him. If Ursula goes down for the crime that brings the incident to a neat conclusion. Yuri will be cleared and Kail can ascend the throne.
Meanwhile, Ramses is showing Yuri that he really knows how to win a girl over by keeping her tied up a hut somewhere. Yuri refuses to eat the porridge he tries to hand feed her and he tells her that her little shows of resistance actually turn him on. (This guy! This freaking guy!) One of Ramses underlings comes into the hut to tell his boss that news just came in from Hattusa that Ursula is going down for the king’s murder. Yuri begs one last time for Ramses to let her go so she can try to save Ursula. When he remains silent, she thinks that Kail can save her friend, not knowing that he is completely ignorant as to what’s going on in the capital.
As Ursula waits in prison for the hanging, Kash goes to see her and they share one last tearful farewell. Kash tries to convince her to let him break her out so they can run away together, but Ursula is resigned her to fate. She believes that her death won’t be in vain as it opens up a chance for Kail to bring down the evil queen. She cuts off her braid and gives it Kash as memento of their brief time together.
Ursula is taken to execution grounds. As she waits for her death, she maintains her resolve by imagining the crown of the Tawanna on Yuri’s head. Ilbani instructs the soldiers to ride for the Hatti’s city as soon as Ursula dies. The executioner removes the block beneath her feet as the crowd jeers. We are left with the striking image of Ursula’s shadowed body dangling from the noose in front of the setting sun. Visually this is definitely one of the best moments in the series. I came to like Ursula quite a bit during the brief time she was part of Yuri’s crew.
While Ursula hangs, Ramses is taking Yuri to another Egyptian outpost as they make their way to the Nile when Yuri gets a strange feeling when she sees how eerily red the sunset is. Ramses starts macking on her and decides that he is going have sex with her. No matter what she thinks about this. When they get to an inn, he starts tearing her clothes off and telling her he’s going to mark her with his scent. Yuck! Yuri can’t do much too physically resist him and once again thinks about how gross it is to have his hands and tongue on her. Just before Ramses can do more than grope her, Kail kicks down the door and makes a dramatic entrance.
Ramses ties Yuri up to post, with nothing but the shreds of her stola to barely cover her, and then proceeds to duel with Kail. When Kail’s crew catches up with him, Ramses abandons the fight and jumps on his horse. Kail orders his men to give chase and he goes to Yuri, wrapping her in his cloak to preserve her modesty. While he unties her wrists and checks her for injury, Yuri realizes that if the prince is here then there was no one to help Ursula.
Kash arrives seconds later with Ursula’s braid wrapped around his forehead like a headband to report everything that’s happened. He confesses that Ursula was executed to clear up all the trouble they found themselves in. Yuri goes ballistic at the news. At first, she’s angry at Kail for not stopping it but Kikuri fesses up that the generals and advisors worked together to keep him ignorant of what was going on.
Strangely enough, this is the only instance were Yuri doesn’t immediately forgive her assault. Maybe its because Ramses is such a creep. Maybe its because the shock of finding out that Ursula is dead but Yuri kind of holds – if not animosity – a reluctance to trust Ramses. Which is smart.
Kail experiences a pang of grief but he can’t let the opportunity that Ursula gave her life for go to waste and orders all troops to aid the Hatti against the queen. Yuri interprets his lack of outward emotion as him being cold and unfeeling. Kail suppresses the queen’s army. Make matters worse, Ursula’s sacrifice only gets Yuri out of hot water. Nakia is able to weasel out of trouble yet again by denying she had anything to do with the attack on Hatti and claiming that Urhi was acting alone.
When they are alone, Yuri and Kail have a blow up over Ursula’s death. Yuri says that despite her love for him, she can’t be with him when his ascension to the throne required the life of her friend. Kail gets handsy, trying to force physical affection on her when she isn’t in the mood for it, until Kash rushes in to report that Urhi has been captured alive.
Well, Yuri has decided to break it off with Kail, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m certain that the next volume is the one that I’ve been dreading addressing since I started this read along. The one where Kail betrays Yuri in the worst way possible. The one where he gets the dubious honor of being the fourth guy that tries to rape her.
Sigh. I feel a headache coming on.
Manga Read Along will be taking a break next week because I’m launching Flower on the River on the Kindle store. This blog will be all book promo that week. Do you like the epic romance and court intrigue of Red River? Then you’ll love my fantasy romance novels. Please check me out on Amazon.