Tales around Mirateia 6

After having been on the road since they left the village a couple of weeks ago they were now only less than a day from Buan where his family lived. It was around evening, Azran was not sure, he was sitting in the back of their cart tinkering when he felt the cart stop and he could hear Ira speak with someone he could not see from his position, but he could see Ira scratching the back of her head with 3 fingers, a sign they had come up with earlier as a silent warning to the other that something was not good.   "Hello, can I help you?" Ira said.   "This is a control post, you have to pay road taxes" came an unknown voice.   "Is that so? Well, in that case, I would like to see your papers"   "Papers?" came another voice, Azran had at this point managed to get parts of his armour on.   "Yes the papers from the royal court allowing you to collect taxes in this area"   "Let's just get this over with" came a 3rd voice"   It was at this point where Azran came almost flying out of the cart, sword drawn and ready, luckily for Azran and Ira, the bandits that were holding them up were not well armoured, and by the time Azran had taken one of them down Ira had already taken down another one with her throwing knives, the 3rd bandit did manage to give Azran a deep cut across his unprotected back before Ira took him down. focused on finishing the 3rd bandit at first Ira don't see Azran falling but turning around she finds him laying on the ground, running towards him and kneeling next to him.   "AZRAN! can you hear me? please" Ira almost screams   all she gets is a "hmmph" from Azran   it seems to relax Ira a bit while she is trying to lay a primitive bandage. With some trouble and a bit of cursing, she manages to get Azran back into their cart, and during the next few days, while they quickly travelled the last stretch of road to Buan village, Azran kept slipping during the trip in and out of being conscious. The cart came screaming into the village and Ira stopped as fast she could, some of the villagers came out to see what the commotion was about   "Healer, I need a healer!! I have a wounded! He needs help" Ira shouted and after repeating herself a few times and showing her still bloody hands, some of the villagers began to run for the healer. While the villagers ran for the healer, one of them suggested that they take the wounded into their house, where he might rest better while waiting for the healer. Giving a short nod, one of the villagers, who looked like the local blacksmith began to climb onboard the cart, but once onboard the blacksmith was onboard he froze when he saw the wounded, he looked back at Ira   "that's.. that is my son!" Ira stood there for a second, choked   "I will tell you once he has been seen by the healer alright?"   the blacksmith nodded, then took Azran in his arms and carried him into the nearest house, shortly after the healer came, it was an older wood elf, Ira recognized her as belonging to The Nilid People, but she didn't know that they lived this far west, the healer who was named Ervina began the healing process while Ira and what had turned out to be Azrans parents were sitting in the next room    "So how did this happen to our boy?" Azran's mother asked while giving Ira a cup of tea    "Okay, so we were travelling towards this village, towards you when we were stopped only half a day from here by bandits who asked for road tax, I tried to stall them until Azran could get ready whereafter he and I jumped on the bandits and killed them, sadly I was to slow and the 3rd bandit managed to hurt Azran before I could take him down," Ira told while trying to hold back the tears and anger.    They continued to talk for a short while before Ervina came out of the other room and Ira jumped up from the chair knocking it down in the process    "Is he going to be alright?" Ira asked   Ervina smiled and let go of a sigh of relief "yes he is going to be alright, there might be a scar but he should be back to do whatever he was doing before in no time.   "actually what was he doing, it been so long since I have seen or heard anything about him," Ervina asked looking between the 3 people in front of her    "he is a legionnaire" Azrans mother proudly said, with his father laying a hand on her shoulder    "Actually, it's even better," Ira said, "he is a member of the 9th Legion" both Ervina and Azrans parents looked choked at Ira.    "He is what?" Azran's mother said   "you didn't know? he got transferred to the 9th around 2 years ago" Ira said before beginning to move towards the room Azran was in.   "Where are you going?" Ervina asked putting a hand on Ira's shoulder,    Ira, looking over her shoulder "I'm going to sit next to him, I'm not going to leave him alone and I for sure am not going to let him wake up alone" with that said, Ira, opened the door and moved into the room and took a chair and moved it next to the bed where Azran was still unconscious. Several times during the next two days the others would come to check on him but Ira stayed by his side the whole time.   "ah, what happened, where am I?" Ira was wakened up when she heard Azrans voice, at first she thought that she was dreaming, but when she looked over at Azran and saw what he was looking back at her she jumped off the chair and jumped over and gave him a giant hug.   "oh ah Ira, it still hurts," Azran said chuckling.   "Sorry, I'm just glad that you are alright" shortly after, the door to the room opened and in came Azrans parents, Azran looking a bit confused between his parents and back to Ira.   "What is going on?" Azran said while looking between the 3. During the next hour the 4 of them talked back and forth about how it was going and what they had been up to the past 4 years, Azran and Ira very carefully talked about what Ira was doing before the meeting. The next few days were spent with Azran mostly sleeping to regain strength and Ira would spend most of her time by his side, but when not, she would help around the house and talk to the people around the village.   Some days later when Azran was doing some training to regain some of his strength, Ira was sitting at the bench looking and from to time giving him some advice or sneaking comment, after some time Eza came running from inside the house and came to a stop next to Ira    "hey Eza, are you coming to help me keep an eye on your brother?" Ira said while moving to the side so there where room for Eza to sit and after a short silence    "you know I also have a sister named Eza, she is also around your age" Eza looked up at Ira    "is she also named after the princess? mom told me that I was named after the royal princess" Eza asked.   With that Ira looked away, not sure what to say she did feel a bit sad it had been a few months since she and Azran had left the palace it might have been her idea but still she did miss her family, she got rescued out of the situation by Azrans mother coming to tell Eza that she needed her to run to one of the neighbours with something, Ira didn´t quite get it, her mind still occupied with the thoughts of her family back in Pearlhal.    Sometime later Azran had finished up his training and having washed off some of the sweat, he and Ira decided to go for a small walk    "Never really got the chance to say it, but I quite like your family Azran, they just feel so normal and down to earth"    "And poor" it came from Azran while he was picking up a small twist to occupy his fingers while they walked    "you know I didn't mean it like that, it's just unlike my family where we have to think about everything we say or do when we are not alone" Ira got silent for a moment   "I'm glad that I got you to take me to meet them, I like them" She continued.   "And they like you," Azran said while giving Ira a nudge on the shoulder    "So Ira I was thinking, there is a small local festival beginning today but what about after? where do you want to go next?" Azran said.   Ira was silent for some time and Azran was just about to say something before Ira said    "you know I don't know, also why are you asking as if I am in charge of where we are going?"   Azran gets a sneaky smile on his face before answering "well... as you know your highness, you do outrank me by quite a bit and I am only a simple legionnaire so it only makes sense that you are the one deciding our path" Azran says and immediately takes a step to the side to avoid the slap to the face by Ira who is just giving him a stare that could kill before letting out a small laugh.   Continuing with the small talk Ira and Azran continue their walk and after an hour they return home to the village where the preparation for the festival is well underway, the two spend the rest of the day helping where they can, Azran helps some of the men with setting up some of the tables and building a small stage while in the meantime Ira was helping to build some of the fireplaces so that they would be ready to be lit when time.    Sometime later in the evening, Ira was taking a small break sitting on a bench looking out over the central place in the village when Azrans mother came and sat next to her.   "You know I never expected him to take a girl with him home, especially not a princess" Azrans mother said when she heard that Ira almost froze.   "how... how did you know?"   "well dear, years ago, before we got Eza, his dad had been called to represent the local blacksmithing guild at a conference in the capital of our province and I had joined him on the trip"   "What about Azran, he can not have been more than 10 years old?"   "We dropped him off at my parents who lived in the village just a days ride from ours, but when my husband was sitting in a meeting I would walk the streets and I think it was on the second day of our stay there that the city was visited by the royal family on their summer trip around the nation, and when they rolled down the main street I saw a girl with silver-white hair and those red eyes, so after you came riding in with a wounded Azran and things calmed down a bit I noticed the hair and eyes and well took a qualified guess"   That was when it hit Ira, she had forgotten to apply her illusion with a different hair and eye colour.   "Please, don't tell anybody who or what I am, I would like to keep a low profile both for my sake but mostly for his," Ira said almost begging.    Azran's mother looked at her and smiled. "Don't worry, I have no intent, telling anyone who you are"   They both sat there quiet for a while until Azrans mother looked over at Ira and followed the direction she was looking at and saw Azran with Eza on his shoulders dancing around a fire with some of the other kids.   "Whatever you two decides to do after this, just promise me that you will keep him happy," she said.   Ira didn't take her eyes off Azran and with a low but determined voice said.   "I promise"   Shortly after, Azran came over still with Eza on his shoulders "Hi mom, could you possibly take Eza for a moment?"   "sure, Come Eza, let's find your dad"   "Thanks"   "Hi Ira, I wanted to ask you if you maybe wanted to dance a bit, it's fine if you don...." he was cut off by Ira getting up and grabbing him by his arm to and began to lead him out to where other people were dancing, the music was lively but in such a way that most dances were possible, Ira stopped and placed his hands around her and began to move slowly around"   "don't ever assume that I don't want to dance with you again, deal?"   "oh okay, Just remember that I'm not a good dancer so don't expect me to ask often," Azran said while wondering if it was a hint of hurt feelings in her voice.   "oh I'm going to find a way," Ira said.   Azran and Ira danced until late in the evening only interrupted when someone shouted that the roasting pig was ready, after having stuffed themself with roasted pig and some other delicious food the villagers had made, they found a quiet corner of the party and sat there talking and enjoying the evening.   When Ira woke up, she noticed something weird, the bed was not that bad, it was first when she began to look around the room that she noticed that the room was sort of familiar, it was the room Azran had been placed in when he had got wounded and was recovering, what was also buggering her was that Azran was nowhere to be seen, his mattress was empty. so she sprang out of the bed, got dressed and went out to find his parents sitting in the living room, his mother looking up, seeing her and with a nod with the head towards the door, Ira said good morning, ruffled Ezas hair on the way out of the door and went towards their wagon where she found Azran giving one of the horses its fodder.   "Where were you last night and why did I wake up in your bed... and why didn't you wake me?" Ira said.   "Well good morning your highness..... Av" Azran started only to get a slap on the shoulder from a pouting Ira"   "Well as I was going to say before I was so rudely interrupted, to where I was, I slept outside here in our wagon, to the reason you woke up in the bed and I didn't wake you up, well you got pretty drunk last night and because I felt it was not fair to have any of your ranks would sleep in anything but the best, I decided to put you in the bed and I was going to wake you up probably two hours ago, but you looked like you could need some more sleep so I let you have it" Azran said.   "well, first of all, don't use my title as an excuse because it's not going to work and you of all should know that, secondly while I appreciate that you want to give me a comfortable place to sleep for the night, you are still recovering and should not be sleeping out in the cold in the wagon," Ira said, looking slightly angry.   "Come on Ira, you know as well as I that my wound is fully healed and that I'm good to go, had this been back in the legions I would have been declared fit for duty 3 days ago"   "That might be the case, but even so you could have slept inside the house"   "I did consider it but then I remembered the skins in the wagon" Azran said while pointing a finger over his back towards the inside of the wagon "And I was just like you, tired and pretty drunk so I crawled up and fell asleep almost right away"   Before they could continue their little argument, Azrans mother came out to look for them telling them that breakfast was ready. During the meal, the two was asked where they were planning on going next.    To where they said that nothing was decided and they mostly with Azran pointing towards Ira giving her a nudge with his shoulder, just drove in the direction they felt would be most interesting and that the main reason they had driven here was that in a short moment of weakness Azran had mentioned his family and Ira had demanded that he took her to visit them, even if it was weeks to the south of their position at the time. But that they would set off in an eastern direction and then see what would come of that.

Cover image: by Gayle Porter Hoskins


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