Tales around Mirateia 23

The following weeks were busy for Ira and Azran. Each morning, Azran would train a section of the city guard in tactics used by the legions. To help him with this, he had asked for some volunteers from the contingent of Imperial Guards that had come with them to Nacaeus, Azran had to begin with the thought that it would be hard to convince the Guards to help train the locals, but to his surprise many of the older Guards were eager to help train them, because as they said, if shits are going to happen, they prefer there to be more than 50 of them that know how to hold a spear correctly in the bloody name of Mara, making a few of the Guards laugh as they all remembered back to when Azran had yelled at the city guard. The younger members of the Guard said they wouldn't mind helping in the training, but they preferred to let the older ones do this as they had more experience, and experience outranked everything in their book.   The rest of the day after the training sessions, Azran would spend in his office. He was finally about to have decorated as he liked it; although the armour stand was still empty as he was still waiting for his new set of Imperial Guard armour, he was not surprised that it had not arrived yet. Imperial logistics had never been the fastest, it was deadly efficient and knew where its equipment was, but it wasn't fast, especially during peacetime it was not. Ira had been a great help regarding the more administrative parts of the barony. However, he was about to get a grip of it since it consisted mainly of making sure people paid the taxes on time and that cases where he had to be the final judgement had to be heard, although there hadn't been any of those yet. Ira would often sit in front of the desk, going over the papers for that day and then handing them to Azran in the order they needed to be either signed or read. She often reminded him to take breaks, get something to eat, and stretch his legs.   One day Azran had taken four Imperial Guards and ten members of the city guard along with him to collect some taxes from some of the nearby villages. Some of his advisers said he didn't need to bother himself with such things. He had said that he would like to do at least the first tax collection, both as a means to get around his new land and so that the people could meet the new baron face to face and not just hear about him from passing by a merchant.   Azran was riding into the courtyard of the last farm for the day when he heard a familiar voice in his head.   "Hi, it's me. We have a situation back home, and I would suggest that you return as fast as possible", He could hear Ira's voice say, sounding almost as if she were standing next to him.   Hearing this, Azran didn't even bother answering, for even before Ira had finished speaking, Azran had already jumped back on his horse and on his way back towards Nicia with the guards following as fast as they could.  
Ira was relaxing in the library with an interesting book she had found and some Muslover tea She might have to import some to Pearlhal as this was quickly becoming her favourite tea; she had just finished a chapter when a servant came looking for her.   "Your highness, sorry to disturb you," the servant said.   "What is it? Have Azran returned already?" Ira asked, closing the book after placing a bookmark at the place she had reached.   "No, your highness, the baron has not returned yet, but Duke Kaeso Ciusestia Siusiso has just entered the city with a large escort of armed soldiers," the servant said.   Ira slowly stood up from the large pillow she had been sitting on, cursing herself for not being able to get up from it more elegant than she did, but once she stood up, she looked at the servant with a determined expression.   "Call the city guard and the Imperials but instruct the Imperials to stay out of sight and wait for either mine or the baron's signal and get someone to stall the Duke for as long as possible. I will be there shortly," Ira said.   "The barons signal? But he has not returned yet," The servant said, confused.   "I know. I will send him a message telling him to return as fast as possible", Ira thought for a second and looked out the nearest window before continuing "given the time, he should be close to returning if not returning already," Ira said.   The servant nodded and ran to find the two groups of guards to inform them about the situation. In the meantime, Ira slowly but steadily moved towards the entrance of the manor, where she could already hear someone yelling at someone. While she was walking towards the door and courtyard, she made the hand signals for the Spell of sending and opened up a mental channel to Azran "Hi, it's me. We have a situation back home, and I suggest that you return as fast as possible" She did fight the urge to add a joke to the message but ended up deciding against it; the jokes would have to wait until Azran arrived, hopefully in time.   "And who do you think you are talking to, peasant!" Ira heard a voice say, suspecting that it must be the beloved Duke, she thought sarcastically while rolling her eyes.   Coming around the corner, one servant noticed her, but Ira held up a finger to silence the servant.   "Sorry, my lord, but the baron is currently not home", the servant stalling the Duke said.   "I don't believe you, peasant. I demand that you let me inside," Duke Kaeso said.   "And why would we do that?!" Ira said in a firm voice.   "Who said that??!" duke Kaeso said, looking in the direction that the voice came from.   "That would be me", Ira answered, probably a bit too smug, she thought to herself afterwards.   "Who are...." Duke Kaeso fell silent when he saw the young woman stepping forth, walking with confidence only a member of the Imperial family could have, and then he noticed the silver-white hair, and all doubt left his body, as there was no doubt who this person was.   "Your highness, Please forgive me, but you must understand, this peasant here would not let me inside my holding," Duke Kaeso said.   "Your holding?" Ira said, wondering, tilting her head a bit while raising an eyebrow.   "Indeed, the old baron is dead, so the barony goes to me," Duke Kaeso said confidently.   "I see; in that case, I hope the journey hasn't been too hard," Ira said before being cut off by the Duke.   "Oh, don't worry, the journey was quite pleasant," the Duke said.   "In that case, as I was about to say before, I was so rudely cut off", Ira made sure to put pressure on the rude "I hope that the return journey will be likewise as this barony doesn't belong to you, you must have forgotten that all land, in the end, belongs to the Emperor, and the Emperor can do with it as he likes, and he saw it fit to give it to a man that had done a lot for the empire," Ira said.   "Listen here, little girl " hearing this, many of the servants that had stopped to look at the talks gasped, and the city guards readied their spears and bows, which in return made the dukes' soldiers do the same, "I think its best you hand this land over to someone who has experience running it, and that are interested in such things." Duke Kaeso said with a mugging way and sending a confident smile that he managed to make look creepy as well.   Ira stood for what felt like an eternity thinking about the situation. Even with the Imperial Guards, they could not fight this; they were still outnumbered. Clearing her mind for a second, she could feel something; the energy she felt whenever Azran was around was getting stronger again, which could only mean that he was close, making her smile, which the Duke noticed.   "What so funny." the duke nearly snarled.    "First of all, you either call me crown princess or your highness; given that it's you, I will even insist that you call me your royal highness, just so you can remember your place, for the second, I see you have spoken to my little brother, that makes things interesting, is he causing more trouble for our father?" Ira said first with a deadly voice before transitioning to a more joking one but still with an undertone that told the Duke that she was not in the mood to be messed with.   The Duke was about to answer angrily when he heard a large group of horses entering the courtyard. Turning around, he saw a young man in his early twenties in some chainmail. The young man was bleeding from his left eyebrow and had bruises and scrapes all over the right side of his body. The new group stopped just short of the Duke's soldiers before the young man, whom the Duke was beginning to suspect to be this so-called new baron, rode straight through his soldiers that made a path through for him until he was just next to the Duke making his horse ride past the Duke and turning around to face the Duke.   "Greetings, I assume you are the duke of Valeius; it an honour to meet you; I'm Azran, the newly appointed baron of Nacaeus, I had hoped we would meet under more peaceful circumstances, and I see you have met her royal highness Crown princess Ira, may I ask, what do I owe the pleasure of having you here?" Azran said, trying to be as neutral as possible.   "You carry yourself like a soldier. Were you in the legions before coming here? but since you are a soldier, I will be honest with you; I'm here to claim this land as mine as it should be, so I order you to hand this barony over to me, Duke Kaeso Ciusestia of the house Siusiso."   "First of all, you are correct; I was in the legions before being transferred to the 9th, and lastly, before all this, I was a member of the Imperial Guard at the Royal Palace of Dercia " When Azran mentioned the Imperial Guard, Ira made the signal to the Imperial Guards that had until now observed from the shadows and on the rooftops, they all stepped out and formed a half moon around the Duke's soldiers who were first surprised by the sudden increase in potential enemies and became nervous when they noticed the armour and symbols marking these new arrivals as Imperial Guards. " Secondly, I'm sorry, but I will have to refuse to hand over this land; it was given to me by the Emperor himself, so I'm here on an imperial mandate, so to speak, but I hope that this little misunderstanding is not going to ruin our future relationship" Azran continued, still speaking as diplomatic as he could.   Duke Kaeso looked around and analysed the situation and came to the conclusion that although he did outnumber these young kids and their guards, they did have the edge when it came to training, not to mention that they were fighting in their home, plus this kid in front him that right now were looking at him with an expression that told Kaeso that this one had seen his fair share of stuff and were not bluffing.   "Of course not, it's all a misunderstanding, come on men, let's go home; we have a long road ahead of us," Duke Kaeso said before turning his horse around and riding down the path that his men had made for Azran with his men following him out of the courtyard and soon enough out of the city as well.   When the sound of the horses could no longer be heard and had passed over the horizon, the city guard finally relaxed for a second until they noticed that neither the Imperials nor Ira and Azran were resting.   "Well, that was a bit too easy if you ask me. We should send some scouts out to make sure the duke doesn't return uninvited", Ira said as she walked down before stopping next to Azran.   "I agree, hey Marius and Antonia, I want you two to shadow the duke and his men until they leave our land", Azran said, pointing to two of the Imperial Guards that had escorted him earlier; the two guards nodded and turned their horses around and rode in the same direction as the Duke.   With this taken care of, the City guard could now see that the rest were beginning to relax again. The Imperials were moving back to their quarters or out to their post if they needed to be on one, and Ira had finally caught Azran when he stopped running around trying to organise everything. The people nearby could hear that she was giving Azran a hard time.   "Would you mind telling me why your right side is covered in bruises and scrapes, and you are still bleeding from your head?" Ira said, poking at Azran's chest.   "Relax, Ira, on the way back, my horse lost its footing and fell, I hit the ground, but I have not broken anything, just some bruises and such", Azran said.   "Relax, Ira?? How am I going to relax with you standing here bleeding? you could have been killed!" Ira answered.   "Wouldnt have been the first time," Azran said, raising his left arm and trying to shield himself from the slap that Ira was about to give him, but he was just a fraction of a second too slow, and her hand made a clear impact on Azrans cheek, hurting almost more than the bruises.   "Don't. You. Ever. Joke. About. That. Again. Understood?" Ira said with a voice and facial expression that made it run cold down Azran's spine and anyone else close enough to hear the conversation as well.   "Alright, alright, Ira, I promise," Azran said.   "Good, now let us get you to see a cleric for that cut; it looks nasty."   "As you wish, your highness", Azran said, earning himself a tap on the shoulder.   The following hours after Azran had been looked over by the cleric and had a bandage put around his head, the manor and city as a whole were busy. At the same time, there were no signs that the duke would return, the scouts that had been sent to make sure he left the barony had been relieved by a new pair, and the scouts reported that the duke was slowly making his way towards Valeius. Many of the city's citizens had heard of the confrontation, and a number of the citizens would, over the following hours, ask for an audience with Azran, thanking him and the princess for standing up for them.   It might not have seen much for Ira and Azran as the two of them had already experienced a lot, but to the common people, having to them a highly decorated Imperial Guard as their lord with the crown princess standing up for them was something they would never forget.

Cover image: by Gayle Porter Hoskins


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21 Dec, 2022 06:42

"wouldn't be the first time"

21 Dec, 2022 10:59

Yeah, poor (insert one of the two) XD