This is a serialized story, Part 1 can be found here
The spies of the Duchess of the Valley of the Sun, the Golden Lady of Light, spilled onto the foothills and mountains like a gurgling effluence of decay. The bulk of their forces spread out along what was surmised to be the most direct path through the mountains to the province of the North. Every sheltered cave and fresh spring was investigated. When the remains of a cook fire were uncovered, the spies called themselves together; a village atop the next ridge could just be seen in the closing light of day. By midnight it was surrounded, and by dawn the bones of houses and humans lay charred and scattered. Ever diligent in the execution of orders, the spies had even dispatched the occupants of a nearby hermit’s hut, an ancient wizard and his young disciple. It was then, before the bodies could be committed to flame, that the wandering brother intercepted them, dispensing justice in blade before they could profess their employer and guardian, and threaten his doom should he interfere further. Return to my sister now! he bellowed as he pulled the Solar Amulet of Imperial Blood from under his rough clothes, and tell her I alone will find the missing flowers. The spies bowed, sheathed daggers and swords, and melted into the broadening day. The Wanderer tenderly arranged the old man and closed his eyes in rest; as he shifted the young man he noticed a golden chain around his next, and on it, burning in the light of fire and sun, was the symbol of royal birth. The youngest of The Emperor’s brothers had been found. The Wanderer slipped the Amulet from his body before leaving the ruins of his sister’s wrath, and continued forward toward the fugitive tributes.