Tales around Mirateia 1

The inns located in the northern district of Pearlhal was not a place where ordinary citizens would set foot, not because of crime or the neighbourhood, not even because of the regular bar fights that would break out there regularly. It was more because the patrons of those inns and those patrons were military personnel, specifically the army and navy. It was not uncommon for groups of legionnaires and sailors to end up in a fight over who was serving the best branch.   Azran was sitting in one of the corners in the Kingsway Inn where he was enjoying the 4th beer of the evening. He was celebrating his 4th year in the legions and his second year in the 9th legion. He had been promoted after a successful raid on a criminal warlord out to the west with the detachment Azran was a part of. The mission was to take an outpost, but early on in the assault, they lost their leading officers in a volley of arrows; with some quick thinking, Azran was able to rally the troops and take the outpost, and as a reward, he was transferred to the 9th Legion who also known as the "Emperors legion" it was technically not a promotion as he kept his rank, but it was still a huge honour being able to serve the emperor and military wise it was the second-highest a soldier in the Dercian army could rise, with the highest being the Imperial Guard   Azran was just about to finish his 4th beer when out of the side of his eye he could see the door to the inn open up and in stepped probably the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She had long brown hair, and pointy ears that were the only real detail he could see from this distance. There were only two things he knew about her: she was not from around here and was way out of his league.   He was about to call for the barmaid for another beer to get this girl out of his mind when he heard someone yell across the room.   "A toast to the most distinct force in the empire, a toast to the NAVY!!"   "Oh really, not again" It came from Azran when the entire bar broke out in chaos between navy and army personnel.   Azran had placed himself in a corner because, from previous experience the corners of the inn were relatively safe from the fighting. While the action was going on, Azran spotted the girl from before standing at the bar trying not to be hit by people stumbling into the bar before joining the fight again; for a short time, both Azran and this girl made eye contact and Azran took the chance made a hand gesture that she should come and sit.   After dodging some hits not aimed at her and even dealing some of her own on people who got in her way, she made her way to Azran's table.     "Hi, the name is Azran," he said, smiling while making a gesture to the barmaid to bring two beers.   "You can call me Ria," she said, looking out over the fight in the middle of the inn.   Azran looked at her with a confused look; he could swear that he had heard that name before."   "so what brings someone like you to a place like this?"   "Well, I…" Ira got interrupted when a woman got thrown onto their table and broke it; Azran recognized her as one from his cohort.   "Oh, hi Sali didn't know you were here," Azran said while giving her a hand and getting her on her feet again; the woman looked up and smiled, took his hand."   "Could say the same about you; heard you were celebrating your anniversary?"   "Yup 4 years out of 10 done."   "Well, congratulation, I better go out and protect our honour."   "See you back at the barracks."   Azran looked over at Ria, and in the new light, he could see her brown-eye colour.   "so, umm, looks like our table is no more; want to leave this place? He said while awkwardly rubbing the back of his head.   "Yeah, let's do that, come I know some good places where our table is unlikely to get destroyed."   "Lead the way, I guess"   For the next couple of hours, both of them talked back and forth about anything, like where they were from, and what they liked; Ira told Azran that she had just the day before won a small tournament in some underground fighting club. Ira kept wanting to ask where Azran knew that woman from before and what unit he was in; she could figure out that he was army but was curious as to what legion, but she could not get herself to ask for some reason. All she knew was she wanted to keep him around; he was the only one that had treated her as an average person everybody else treated her as the streetfighter known as Ria.   After another couple of hours, the inns in Perlharl began to close, and they walked out in the early morning air; that was one of the good things about living in a coastal city. The air would always be somewhat fresh, unlike some of the bigger inland cities.   When they came out, Azran asked if it was okay that he followed her home, not because she could not defend herself; he had seen some of the punches she had given at the inn but still, two to fight is better than one.   After a few minutes' walk Ira finally decided to take the chance, it was unlikely that they would even see each other again after today.   "So Azran, I wanted to ask, what was someone like you doing in a place like that? Heard you were celebrating something?"   "It's my go-to place when I'm not on duty, see, I was celebrating my 4th year in the legions and my transfer to the 9th."   "Oh," she said.   Now it all made a lot more sense to her, why he was there, the celebration and even the fact that he knew that woman; what was her name again? Sali?"   "What about you? with all due respect, you do not look like someone who frequents places like that. Or even neighbourhoods like this," Azran asked.   "True, normally I would drink with some friends in the more patrolled parts of the city, but today I decided I wanted to try something new, and a friend said that the Kingsway inn was a good place in a more rough part of the city."   Before Azran could answer Ira stopped at a hotel, looked like she didn't quite know what to say but said that this was her stop, told Azran to take care of himself but that she would like to meet him again, before disappearing into the hotel. Azran then began the slow walk back to the room he normally rented when staying in the capital.   What Azran didn't see was the girl that had introduced herself as Ria was sneaking out of the Hotel and heading towards the Royal Palace.

Cover image: by Gayle Porter Hoskins


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