|Stepping out of the carriage, Sharlisia eyed the imposing mansion in front of her as it casts a looming shadow from the setting sun. With vigor and confidence, she walked the entrance path with three men accompanying her.
She wore a light green gown paired with white gloves and ornamented shoes. The gown is stitched with patterned gold laces at the end of the sleeves, around the neckline and the hem of the skirt. Around the waist is a gold-plated chain with gold ornamented buckle. Her hair is in a lob hairstyle with two small gold hair clips ornamented one with ruby and the other with sapphire on the left side tucking the hair.
Upon entering the mansion, she noticed the tables spread out across the spacious dining area of the ballroom. She heard beautiful music played by musicians located on the left side of the room. They are on a small elevated area with the tables of food at the corner. In the middle, a spacious area was designated for dancing and a chandelier hang on the ceiling and lamps lining the sides of the room. The room was evident of the sleek curves and simple yet elegant architecture native only in Militaria. She recognized the guests consisting of merchants, nobles and ambassadors of the twelve districts of Militaria and its neighboring kingdoms.
“Greetings Lord Aeron and Lady Sharlisia, I suppose your escorts are also representatives of the 13th district.” Lord Gerand Miriosta said as he welcomes the newly arrived guests with his wife and son in his mansion. “Lord Yuris, it is an honor to be in front of a living legend. The famous Lord Castellan of the Ivrok Mountain Keep.” Bowing in front of the large, bald old man with white bushy beard. He wore a scarlet waistcoat with gold embroidery and buttons, white frilly undershirt and white pants with leather shoes.
“Lord Gerand, spare me the flattery it is long time ago.” Yuris replied very flattered by the greeting. “Lady Celine, it is nice to see you again.”
“Lord Yuris, please enjoy the party,” replied the woman beside Lord Gerand. “And this is our son Erim.” The boy bowed before Yuris when introduced by his mother.
“You taught your boy well. I don’t know if I’m still around when he succeeds you.” Yuris assuring the man.
“Lord Sirio, the genius wizard of Militaria. It is such an honor.” Gerand greeted the dwarfed man with a condescending expression, dressed in a blue robe with leather shoes. The robe is embroidered in gold of the symbols and patterns of the arcane academy of Ahzeera.
“Good with flattery as always, Gerand,” Sirio replied.
The newly-arrived caught the eyes of the other guests. Chatters and whispers ensued.
“Isn’t that Aeron the vice-captain of the Vermillion Battalion?” “He is an infamous warlord of the 13th district before it was reformed.” “He is known for his crimes from raping women and children to torturing soldiers that tried to stop him.” “I heard he even threatened a king in the west to grant him nobility.”
“That’s Lady Sharlisia from the dying House Everand. She is a captain of the knights of the Militarian army.” “I heard she was forced into marriage with Aeron for her to expand the influence of their house.” “To marry a low-life like him, such a pity. I believe he constantly abuse her.”
“Oh my, that is Lord Yuris, the Militarian Colossus. I’ve heard stories of him.” “Isn’t he the hero of the Ivrok mountains of the north.” “He was one of the key figures to the expansion of the Militaria to what it is now.” “It’s been years since he was heard of.”
“Who is that?” “That’s Lord Sirio, the genius magician. He wrote hundreds of books on the nature of magic. Ahzeera keeps a copy of all the books he wrote.” “I heard he was a warden of the 13th district prison where they keep their most dangerous criminals and he keeps them under a magic seal he only knows.” “Yes, he was made a deal that he will be the warden of the prison in exchange for free rein in his magic studies.”
After they are welcomed, Sharlisia and the three met with other guests. All of them mingled completely despite the previous tension around them. She noticed Aeron awkwardly socialized with other guests and he looked very decent with his hair pulled back in a ponytail with trimmed beard and moustache. Despite his slender build, he looked good in his attire. Dressed in black waistcoat with gold buttons, white undershirt, black pants and leather boots. The fact that he accompanied her in the banquet made her smile.
While finishing dinner, someone came towards their table.
“Greetings,” said the man in yellow waistcoat and pants with white undershirt. “I heard you are Aeron Sinclair. I cannot believe such a barbarian is mingling with nobility. Dogs should know their place.”
Aeron, Sirio and Yuris looked at the man and thought, “an upstart, huh.”
Aeron only looked at the man nonchalantly sipping fruit juice from his cup while the man constantly threw insults at him. Accustomed to the verbal abuse by his captain and his colleagues.
“Pardon me, my lord.” Sharlisia catching the attention of the man. “Who might you be?”
“I am Mersir Gerean of the kingdom of Feris. Nice to meet you, my lady.” Kissing her hand.
“The man you are insulting is my husband,” she confronted Mersir. “And the field commander of the Vermillion Battalion, the famous unit known for resolving the harshest battlefield without taking any casualty and I am a knight and a captain of Militaria.” Then she called the attention of the crowd, “this man is scorning my husband’s background. I, as a knight and his wife, cannot allow this. By the tradition of Militaria, I challenge you to a duel.” Throwing one of her gloves to Mersir.
“As the host, I will give permission to this duel.” Gerand clapped his hand signaling the servants to offer the duelists a variety of weapons.
The duelists went to the dance area getting ready for the duel. Sharlisia stripped from her gown, revealing her chemise and short braies, for better movement. She handed her gown and corset to one of the servants. Mersir feeling confident of his skills, picked a rapier and she picked a long sword. The duelists put up a fighting stance getting ready for the duel.
“Oh, come on, I’ve seen prostitutes show more skin than that.” Aeron showing disappointment at his wife.
Sharlisia then put her hands together and closed her eyes to concentrate. A swirl of mana surrounded her body and her undergarments began to flutter. A sudden expelled burst ripped her undergarments to shreds and revealing her slender but athletic build, toned extremities and six-pack abs from years of training as a knight. She quickly tied firm the loose fabric on her chest area and lower torso.
“GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!!” she barked at Aeron and glowing deep red from the embarrassment.
“Perfection!” Aeron smiling laid back on his chair and sipping from his cup.
Sharlisia saw mixed reaction of the crowd. The guests baffled with disgusted looks at Aeron and the impressed looks of the nobles of Militaria from her control of mana. Sharlisia noticed the three are arguing.
Sirio asked Yuris, “Is he drunk?”
“No, he drinks juice for this party. Captain’s orders,“ Yuris replied. He confronted Aeron in a whisper. “Why, in the stinking pits of Ifran, did you make the lady strip buck naked?”
“She’s not buck naked,” Aeron answered. “She literally has two pieces of fabric on her!”
“You, lecherous reprobate,” Sirio added. “We are at a banquet not a brothel!”
“I don’t give a flying fuck about what anybody thinks or your opinions, Sirio,” Aeron retorted.
She turned to them. “Lord Yuris! Lord Sirio! It is all right.” Giving them an assuring smile.
The two backed off Aeron’s case.
“I am already a married man and I am going to take advantage of my marriage whenever I can.” Aeron then turned to the duelists, “COME ON, GET ON WITH IT! CHOP-CHOP!”
She gave an exasperated look at his husband.
“Your husband is such creep,” Mersir smirked.
“Yes, but he is my creep,” lunging an attack at Mersir.
Her sudden move surprised him but he recovered his stance and parried. The duel lasted a few minutes and Sharlisia, proved more skilled, overpowered him and ended the duel with the tip of her sword on his neck. Yuris then took off his waistcoat to cover her.
Sharlisia went over to confront Aeron and whispered at his face with an angered expression. “You owe me a gold necklace inlaid with the rarest gem in Militaria.”
“Worth the show, sugar tits,” Aeron answered smiling.
Sharlisia turned to Yuris. “We are calling it a night. Milord and Aeron can go back to carriage. Also take my gown and corset. I will talk for a moment with Lord Gerand.” Accompanied by Sirio, she went to Lord Gerand ashamed of what transpired. “I am deeply apologizing for the commotion I’ve caused, Lord Gerand.”
“Nonsense! You showed the power of Militaria to a greenhorn and given us a splendid show!” Lord Gerand replied amused.
They bid farewell to Gerand and went back to the carriage. While walking towards the carriage, she was tugged by Sirio and briskly walked away from the entrance. The sudden pull surprised her. Although she has the strength to resist, the unexpected initiative did not give her time to react especially coming from Sirio. She was dragged to an isolated area of the garden by the side of the mansion, away from any windows. When she was confronted, she saw an annoyed expression on his face.
“Shar, what were you thinking unclothing yourself like that? Is your dignity that dispensable?” Sirio asked.
“Sirio, my good man, you are smart. Think for a moment the benefit we will get from that.” Giving him a puzzling question.
Sirio thought for a moment then the idea crossed in his mind. “You, devious girl,” Sirio grinned. “And I thought Aeron was dangerous.”
“One more thing,” she added. “I made an oath in our wedding that I will please him and make him happy.”
“Oh, you should have seen his face,” he said with a deriding smile. “He did not even blink the entire time.”
“Call it a woman’s pride but I feel good knowing that,” she replied. “He may be like that but I love him flaws and all. I have been dreaming to marry him but now I am living the dream.”
Her old memories of Aeron flooded her mind which gave her the surreal feeling of nostalgia and delight. Reminding her why she loved Aeron so much. A light and cold breeze blew through them and she saw Sirio staring at her stunned.
Siryo gave her a smirk. “I hope your future offspring will not inherit your preference in partners.”
The two walked together to the entrance path and made their way to their carriage.
Outside the mansion, Shiren comfortably perched on a tree in the pitch-black darkness. His wary eyes observe the party through one of the large windows, watching his charge and the other scouts accompanying their respective nobles and representatives as per his assignment. His ears attuned to minute sounds while filtering out the chirps of crickets, noises of nocturnal animals and the rustles the few trees in the garden made by the cold breeze. His body feeling the slight movements in the cold air. Upon watching the commotion unfold, his face grimaced in disappointment.
He blurted, “typical Aeron.”
After the party, Shiren went to report the situation and event that took place. Upon arrival in a small room, he took a knee. He looked at the man sitting on the chair at the opposite side of the table. The dimly lit lamp resting on the table obscured the man’s face.
Arioch laughed heartily at the news, “I can’t believe it! She has balls of mithril to pull a stunt like that!”
“Uh, my lord, she is a woman. She cannot have testicles,” Shiren commented.
“The point is,” he sighed, exasperated by the comment. “It takes guts to do that and she has very wide connection to know that Feris kingdom will send the second prince to the banquet.”
“What is the benefit of that commotion, my lord, if I may ask?” Shiren replied confused.
“Well,” Arioch started to explain. “First, the Militaria Kingdom values honor and skill in fighting. Almost all the guests there also attended the wedding and heard her vows. As a knight, it takes ridiculous resolve to honor your oath especially made for Aeron. Given his dastardly reputation. That and proving her loyalty to Aeron by defending him and defeating the greenhorn earned her a lot of respect from the nobles. And a little abusive husband and the martyr wife story will earn her favor from the nobles. She will be seen as the most angelic creature in all Militaria.”
“Quite the manipulator that woman, my lord,” Shiren added.
“She is one of our greatest assets for our plan for this kingdom,” he concluded. “The only thing genuine about her is that she is head over heels for Aeron and whatever she has seen in that bastard.”
“That is all, my lord.” Shiren finished his report and melted into the shadow.