Tales around Mirateia 32

It had been a quiet few weeks, Azran had been travelling around the province for just over a week on tax collection duty, while many of his advisors kept suggesting that he let some other people do the task, he likewise kept saying that he did it mainly because when he was a kid, the governor of his home had done the same and he remembered how it helped on morale and kept trouble at a minimum when the governor did it himself instead of some dedicated servants who might have no connection to the land.   When he was not busy managing the province he used his time training with either the Imperials or some of the newly raised auxiliary troops that were still in the process of being outfitted, it does take some time to produce a few hundred sets of armour, even the light version of the Auxiliary. During one of these training sessions with the Auxiliaries, Azran overheard a few of the troops talking about how one of them would take his girlfriend to the spot for a romantic evening and maybe he would get lucky.   Later that evening during some late work in the office.   "Maximus, earlier today I overheard some of the troops talking about a spot for a romantic outing, do you know about this place?" Azran said, sitting back in the chair, and looking up at the servants who had just brought some mead and cake.   "Oh yes lord, it's to the east of Nicia, you know that small hill with a small forest on top?" Azran nodded "It's there, there is a spot where you can see down on the Nicia and I can tell from personal experience that during the evening, it's very romantic seeing the city bathed in the setting sun"   Azran nodded and Maximus left the room, without a doubt with some hot gossip to share with the other servants.   The next morning.   "Ira, do you have anything planned for this evening?"   "Hmm, no dont think so, why?" Ira looked at Azran suspiciously.   "Oh, nothing" Azran said before leaving in a speed that managed to make Ira even more suspicious.   About an hour later, Azran was on his way towards the spot and reached the place soon after, Azran then tied his horse to a tree before continuing on foot and when he reached the spot he was shocked at how beautiful the view was, from here he could see down on his city and watch specks of people walking to and from the city, the place itself was also perfect, it was a small clearing in the woods and there was a small circle of bricks about four meters in diameter and about three bricks high, inside it was a fine circle of grass and the surrounding bushes and trees helped hide the place, the only open side was out over the hill and down the to the city, Azran assumed the brick circle was the remains of an old watch tower that had long since crumbled and left this place for people to come and hang out.   Looking around Azran noticed that some of the trees had something written in them and while the Dercian didn't lend itself easily to be carved into trees, it was possible to read several names of what he assumed to be lovers.   After spending an hour at the spot, just taking in the view and eating the lunch he had taken with him, Azran rode back to the manor and began preparing a small surprise for Ira, firstly, he went to the kitchen and asked if they could prepare something light that could easily be carried and at first they were a bit confused but when he explained what it was for they quickly agreed and told him to come back in a few hours. After the kitchen was sorted, Azran went to get some blankets for them, surprisingly it didn't take Azran long to get all things sorted for the surprise, although he was still missing the most important part, Ira herself, he knew Ira and he knew that because he had asked what she was doing this evening, she would have cleared her schedule and at this moment probably was sitting in his office pretending to work, trying to figure out what he was up to.   Iras suspense would finally come to an end when a servant a few hours later came and told her that Azran was waiting for her in the stables, Ira would find Azran preparing both their horses and on a stack of hay was a saddlebag that seemed to be well stuffed and a few blankets.   "What's going on Azran?"   "No time to talk, get on the horse and follow me" Azran just said, looking over the horse at her and winking.   Soon after, they found themself close to the spot Azran had scouted out earlier and at the same place where he had tied his horse before, he stopped the two of them and told Ira to tie her horse next to his. Jumping off the horse and grappling the saddlebag Azran looked at Ira.   "Do you trust me?"   "I want to say no, but we both know that would be a lie" Ira said laughing.   "Good" Azran handed her a blindfold and asked her to put it on. He then took her hand and led her down the small path to the spot where he had quickly spread out the blankets and placed the saddlebag containing dinner for them. He positioned Ira so that she would have the best view of the city, which was bathed in the setting sun's light and made the entire city appear golden. A gentle, warm breeze came in from the east, causing the surroundings to sway gently in the wind.   "Are you ready princess?"   "I guess" Ira was at this moment so excited with a slight hint of confusion that she ignored Azran calling her princess, something that she countless times had told him not to do and he had then taken it up to call her princess every time he wanted to either tease her or get a reaction out of her.   Removing the blindfold, Ira was stunned by the view that met her, and for a long time, she just stood there taking in the view of the sunbathed city below them.   "What is this?" Ira turned with awe still visible on her face.   "An old watchtower that has since been turned into a place where young couples meet" Azran said standing next to her.   "And how would you know about this place, old man?" Ira said teasingly before walking in front of Azran and leaning against him, grappling his arms to put around her.   "Well I would have you know that I'm at my best age, youngling," Azran said before trying to blow some of her hair away from his nose, "But to be honest, I overheard some of the troops talking about it yesterday and asked around a bit, turns out this is quite the spot so it would be perfect for today I thought"   "Today?" Ira asked looking over her shoulder.   "Yeah, turns out that today is the anniversary of when we first met back in that inn"   Ira was quiet for a moment, then in an explosive move, she flipped around and looked up at Azran with surprise in her eyes.   "Is that true?" she looked around at all the things he had prepared "But I have not brought you anything" Ira said sounding sad   Azran grabbed her and held her head in between his hands.   "You have already given me so much, more than I could ever dream of giving you," Azran said looking out over the city "I could never imagine where I would be today when I first signalled you to come to sit at the table"    "Oh you stupid human" Ira just said before jumping up and kissing a slightly surprised Azran.

Cover image: by Gayle Porter Hoskins


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