When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep... read more
When Dashti, a mucker from the steppes of Titor's Garden, one of the Eight Kingdoms, becomes Lady Saren's maid, she enters into a struggle between Saren and her father. The Lord of Titor's Garden has declared that his daughter will marry Lord Khasar of Thoughts of Under, when Saren reveals... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
When Dashti, a mucker from the steppes of Titor's Garden, one of the Eight Kingdoms, becomes Lady Saren's maid, she enters into a struggle between Saren and her father. The Lord of Titor's Garden has declared that his daughter will marry Lord Khasar of Thoughts of Under, when Saren reveals that she has betrothed herself to the young Khan Tegus of Song for Evela. To tame his daughter, Saren's father shuts her and Dashti, the only maid willing to accompany Saren, in a tower far away from his city. He claims he will only release them after seven years, or if Saren will relent and marry Khasar.
The two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment, and Dashti begins trying to heal her lady's sadness with the muckers' healing songs. They are visited by Khan Tegus, Saren's more welcome suitor, but Saren refuses to speak to him, and makes Dashti pretend to be her and speak with him. This happens two more times, the first with Dashti pleading once again for Saren to speak for herself, and the second while Saren is alseep. Tegus gives them a cat to kill the rats that are eating their supply of food, and leaves to attend to his realm, promising to come back. He never does, to Dashti's continual confusion.
Khasar comes next, and his arrival terrifies Saren, and quickly Dashti when he flings burning wood chips into the tower through a small opening. Saren throws the contents of the girls' dump bucket onto Khasar's head, and he leaves. That night, there are howls and screams from outside the tower and the guards, along with Dashti's cat, disappear.
As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold,all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable is try to save the food somehow.
After two and a half years in the tower, the girls are nearly insane with the darkness and the rats, and Dashti begins to look for a way out of the tower. She finds one in the hole made by the rats, and Saren and Dashti escape.
Travelling first to Titor's Garden, they find the city has been razed, and Dashti takes the reluctant Saren to Song for Evela. Giving up her new yak on their arrival, Dashti hopes that Saren will come to her senses and go to Khan Tegus. However, when they arrive, Saren refuses to admit who she is to Tegus, and the girls find work in the kitchens instead. After months of scrubbing pots, Saren is still feeling the effects of the tower, and refuses to trust Tegus or let go of the idea that Khasar will come for her eventually. Dashti continues to sing to her lady, and this causes her to be brought before Khan Tegus, who has an old injury in his leg.
While singing to the Khan, Dashti moves up in his esteem, and after saving the life of his war chief, he treats her as a friend and not a commonor. He confesses to her that he loved a lady once, and still carries guilt that he couldn't save her, and she consequently came to harm.
Khasar, who was responsible for the destruction of Titor's Garden, continues to attack and conquer kingdoms, leading Tegus to become engaged to Lady Vachir, the stern ruler of Beloved of Ris, to gain their military assistance. Desperate, Dashti asks Saren again to confess to Tegus who she is. Saren relents some but is still fearful of the Khan's reaction, and has Dashti pretend to be her. Due to her reluctance, Dashti doesn't tell Tegus this, and he leaves for the war.
When the army returns to Song for Evela, the Khan is badly injured, and Dashti sings desperately to heal Tegus. He heals, and Khasar's army reaches the fields outside the city.
Dashti honors her oath to her lady when Khasar sends Tegus an offer to leave Song for Evela if they'll give him Lady Saren. Confused, Tegus says that he thought Khasar had taken Saren from the tower nearly a year ago. Dashti steps forward, explaining what really happened and claiming to be Lady Saren. It is revealed that Tegus and Saren never saw each other, so the ruse works.
To stop the imminent bloodshed, Dashti sneaks out of her new, fancy room that night and goes to see Khasar on the battle field. There, she pretends to be Saren once more, and coaxes him close enough to sing the song of the wolf, which forces him to transform into a wolf. It is revealed to the world that Khasar sold his soul to desert shamans for the power to transform into a wolf at night, and in his wolf state, he attacks some his own men, who then shoot arrows at him until he dies.
Tegus arrives at this point, taking Dashti back to the city and leaving the leaderless army to go home. Still believing she is Saren, he calls off his betrothal to Lady Vachir to honor his commitment to Saren. They are scheduled to be wed quickly, and Dashti begins to hate the lie she's telling. Due to her growing feelings for Tegus, she asks Saren once more to end the charade and reveal the truth. Instead, Saren asks Dashti to go through with the wedding, after which she'll reveal her true identity, and Dashti refuses.
Unable to continue the lie and unwilling to be hung for it, Dashti tries to escape the city and is captured by Lady Vachir's soldiers. Lady Vachir found Dashti's book of thought keeping (the first-person account that tells the story to the audience, it is Dashti's diary and confessions) and demands Dashti be beheaded immediately. Some of Dashti's friends from the kitchen interfere, and Lady Vachir decides to cut off one of Dashti's feet to prevent her from escaping again.
Before her foot can be cut off, Tegus arrives, having been brought to the scene by Saren. It is revealed that Dashti is not Lady Saren, although the real Saren remains silent in the face of Vachir's wrath. Dashti is taken to a cell in the castle, waiting for judgement from the eight chiefs of the city, one of whom is Tegus.
At the trial the next day, Tegus defends Dashti well, partially due to Saren's testimony and acceptance of Dashti as her sister for staying by her through the tower and their journey to Song for Evela. Dashti is declared innocent, and the chiefs decide that Lady Saren should be the one to marry Tegus. Dashti is sad, but glad to be alive when Saren declares that she doesn't wish to marry the khan. Before anyone can claim that Tegus must marry Lady Vachir, Saren says that she gives Tegus to her sister instead, and Tegus asks Dashti to marry him. Thunderstruck and overwhelmed, Dashti looks to Saren to speak for her, and Saren says simply, "Yes, she will."
Dashti and Tegus are wed, and Dashti at last lets go of the idea that it is at all wrong by realizing that it isn't a mucker marrying a khan, it's her marrying Tegus. She is also still protective of Saren, coming up with an intense criteria for any man who wants to court her new sister. Dashti changes clothes after the long ceremony, and happily goes to dance with Tegus, ending her account with happy hopes for their life together.
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