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Swordswoman of the South

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“Come home.” King Shannan had urged her. “Come rebuild Isaach with me. It’s where you belong.”

Those words always echoed through Mareeta’s mind. It had been several months since her mother left to go home in Jungby. She hadn't much left in her hometown of Fiana, but her son was able to stand on his own and walk, so it was high time to leave home and start anew. During the war, she had the chance to meet Shannan, but all he asked was that she return home to Isaach. Her father hadn't told her much about it, only that it had swordmasters a plenty, something that she wished to grow stronger at. So the desert plains called to her, she had been preparing to leave Fiana for some time now, she gathered the last of her supplies and grouped up Nagashiro, it was time to go to where the wind bellows.

Little had happened during the travel between nations, she made sure that her son was protected, she had a gut feeling to carry him through most of the travel, she couldn't have him running off somewhere and getting lost. Soon enough, she had reach this so called home of hers, in Isaach proper, She got herself a room at an Inn, making sure that her son and herself were clean to be seen by the King and Queen, she didn't know much of the customs of the land, but she got into her uniform during the war, standard issue Isaachian light armor.

Mareeta prepared for the big day, she had her sword at the belt, and at her side, her son, walking to the castle, she found it intimidating, she wasn't sure if she could bring herself to go any further. She pushed that feeling away, she made the effort to survive the war and make it here, she wasn't going to stop until she had completed her request, to help Isaach.

When she arrived, she found herself greeted by a young, nervous-looking servant, likely an orphan that the King took in after the war.

“Umm...Lady Mareeta...of Rivough.” she introduced herself to the boy, her new title still sounding unnatural out of her mouth. “I’m here to meet with King Shannan.”

“Y-you’re Lady Mareeta?” the boy gasped. “It’s an honor to meet you, Your Grace!” he bowed enthusiastically. “P-please come with me! I’ll take you to His Majesty!”

Mareeta followed this eager servant into the castle, making their way to the throne room, where the King himself sat, his loyal Queen Creidne at his side.

“Mareeta.” Shannan smiled at the noblewoman before him. “What a pleasure it is to see you back in Isaach.”

"It's an honor, Your Majesty." Mareeta took a bow before the kind king, she was nervous on the inside, but remained her calmest to the best she could. "I had finished things back at my hometown to finally come here to serve you."

“Believe me, I couldn’t be happier to have you back.” the king replied. “And who might this little one be?” he gestured at the baby holding onto Mareeta’s hand for stability.

"Him," Mareeta petted her son's hair, before letting him take her hand again, "This is my son, Nagashiro, I am making sure that he doesn't get left behind, and more so, sees the land he will be helping one day, Your Majesty."

Shannan’s dark eyes shimmered as he looked at the young boy with fondness in his heart. “Nagashiro.” he mulled over the name. “A fine name for a fine boy! You will raise him well, I trust. He is Isaach’s future, after all. I don’t have any children of my own yet, but hopefully when that day comes, our children and yours will be the best of friends!”

"Of course! I would love to see the day that my son has friends to be with, and a wonderful childhood, but I got him from Fiana to here without too much fuss." A smile washed over her while she looked down at her son, all before looking back to Shannan to ask about her role. "If I'm correct I believe we should begin work with helping Isaach and her people?"

“Yes, of course!” the king replied, standing up and stepping towards the noblewoman. “I have some ideas on how to best serve Isaach’s people and allow them to prosper! A strong trade relationship with Grannvale and the free cities in the Yied Desert shall be a good place to start. Don’t you agree?”

"Of course Your Majesty… but there is something I would like to ask of you for something if you wish to hear it." A shameful look grew across her face.

“Mareeta, there’s nothing to worry about.” Shannan soothed, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder. “You should feel free to ask me anything you wish. Now tell me, what’s on your mind?"

"I ask that you forgive my family, because of us, war started in Isaach, tyranny was able to seep through and it was because of my grandfather."

“You have nothing to apologize for, Mareeta.” the king replied, voice still as even as ever. “What happened between your grandfather and mine has nothing to do with us. If the Holy War has taught me one thing, it’s that the sins of the fathers should not be passed down to their children. You and I, we have a chance to start fresh, and I for one intend on taking that chance to get to know you better. We’re cousins...and I’d like to hope we can grow to be friends in our own right. What do you say?” he offered his hand to the noblewoman. “Shall we let bygones be bygones?”

"Of course Your Majesty." She took the hand, Mareeta felt a slight weight lifted from her shoulders, something that her Grandmother or Father would be happy to hear. "But I plan to do what I can to repent for my Grandfather's choices, not for what is happening now, but for the people's trust."

“The best way to repent is to help your citizens live as well as they can!” Shannan grinned, crossing his arms in front of him. “Isaach may have been the first country liberated during the war, but we were definitely hit the hardest by Dannan’s harsh rule. Rivough was his palace, after all. I’m sure the people will be pleased to see the old family return to power, especially if their new leader is to be a liberator like you.”

"I hope so, let's begin!" A smirk returned as she picked up her son, she was excited to help the people, back when Brigid got her memories back, she talked about helping the people by giving them gold from the corrupt, she would do something similar, but clearing away the corrupt, and helping the people through and through. "Should we send a letter to Rivough about their new protector?"

“Already took the liberty.” Shannan smirked. “The village elders have been governing the people for the past several months, but the people have been eagerly awaiting your return! You are their rightful lord, after all! If I may make a suggestion, I propose we hold a feast in the people’s honor when you return! It’s the kind of welcome both you and the people of Rivough deserve.”

"That sounds wonderful, it would be wonderful for the people to meet their new ruler, whilst having the night free of the pain of day to day work!"

Something to look forward to, she left the Throne room, she was eager for this new life ahead of her. To raise her son and more so, the smiles of her people to have someone new to take the lead and bring them to prosperity.

-`-`-`-`-

A year had passed since Rivough's leader took control, a new age had come for its people. With the help of Shannan's guidance, she got economics under hold, helped the people find new jobs to take up, and brought more people into her land to be placed under the care of Mareeta.

It was the first year Anniversary of her taking the Throne, and it was clear that she had one thing to do, and that was bring her father to his former home to see her now. She wanted to see his smile again and him being proud of his land again.

"Miss Emily! I have something to ask of you!" Called out the Baroness of Rivough to her hand servant, interest in her voice.

“Yes, milady?” the handservant replied. “What may I do for you?”

“I want you to get someone for me if you will, he is a mercenary by the name of Galzus, could you send a request that the ruler of Rivough seeks his presence?”

“At once, milady.” Emily bowed before leaving to do as she was asked.

The handservant made quick haste to make a request for the Mercenary. Mareeta sat down with a sigh, finding her father is hard enough sometimes and to get him to show up is even harder. Could take months at the longest, but it would be here sooner than not.

~`~`~`~`~

A week passed by, Mareeta spent her time wisely, making sure in early mornings she would finish up her duties, taking the mid day to wait in the throne room, having fun with her son, hoping that soon, her father would reappear.

Galzus clearly did not want to be here. He had received a summons from the new Lord of Rivough--a land he once called home. It was a land that had betrayed him, ejecting him from his comfortable life as a chieftain’s son and forcing him to live in exile as a wandering mercenary. He hadn’t been back in years, but the letter told him that there was something worth coming home for now, and so he begrudgingly made his way to his ancestral home.

When he arrived, he was greeted by a chipper young maid, Miss Emily.

“And you must be Lord Galzus!” she beamed. “I am Emily.” she bowed, “Faithful servant to Her Ladyship, Mareeta of Rivough!”

“Hold up.” the large swordsman folded his arms in front of him and narrowed his stare at the servant. “Did you just say Mareeta?”

“That is Her Ladyship’s name!” Emily replied, still as bouncy as before. “You are her Lord Father, yes?”

Galzus hesitated. He hadn’t been called Lord anything in so long. It was a foreign feeling to a man whose main method of survival had been his own strength for decades. But then again, this whole world was foreign to him, now that the war had finally ended. It made sense that Mareeta would want to return home, and he wanted to see his daughter again.

“Yeah, you could say that.” he curtly nodded. “You’re going to take me to her now, right?”

"Of course! Right away!" The maiden turned around, then took a look back to Galzus, "Follow me if you will."
The 2 proceeded through the halls of Rivough, something that was semi familiar to Galzus. Many years he spent in the castle, seeing his father and mother guide the tribes of natives to be uniform enough to be called a kingdom. Before long, they had reached their destination, pushing the double doors of the throne room open, the first thing he could see was his daughter on the main throne, and on her lap was her son, Nagashiro.

“Mareeta.” he awkwardly greeted her, not knowing what else to say. “It’s been...a while.”

“Father… it’s been too long, come here!” Mareeta got up from her chair, setting the young boy down to leap onto the tall swordsman, giving him a hug as she dangled down.

Galzus was startled by his daughter’s tackle-hug, but he caught her in his arms all the same. He let out a laugh for the first time in what felt like forever.

“It really has been too long. It’s good to see you, kid.” he set Mareeta down and mussed her hair with his hand.

“For so long I waited to see you again,” a small laugh left from the Baroness, “I missed you, it doesn’t help you are hard to find.”

“Yeah...I make sure to cover my tracks after every mission.” Galzus replied. “Keeps me safer that way. And...it keeps you safer by not being associated with me. So tell me, why did you summon me here?”

“I...I wanted to see you again, after Mom left to go home to Jungby, I was left to my own devices, so I came back to where I should be, here, at Rivough.”

“Where you should be, eh?” the gruff swordsman cocked his eyebrow at his daughter. “Well, you might have a point there. This place sure ain’t my home anymore, but all you kids are going on to be rulers and things. Why should you be different? I hope you turn this place into a real home.” he smiled, laying a gentle hand on Mareeta’s shoulder.

“I’m doing my best to fix Rivough up, one year ago I started, and now I am here. I wanted to see you be proud of me for what I did.” Mareeta turned around to face the young boy now sitting on the throne, “And more so, meeting your grandson.”

“My grandson, eh?” Galzus smirked, pointing to the toddler in the room. “You mean that kid over there? He’s yours?”

“Mhm, that is Nagashiro, would you like to come close and say hi to him? He hasn’t seen you ever and I believe it’s time for you to appear a bit in his life.”

The swordsman stepped over to his young grandson, holding out his hand tentatively.

“Hello...Nagashiro. I’m your grandpa. It’s...nice to meet you.”

“Granpa?” Asked the young child, “Nice… thwo meet you.”

Galzus laughed again, letting himself feel joy over having a family after decades alone. “Yeah, that’s it. You’re a good kid, Nagashiro.” he lay a hand on top of the toddler’s head, feeling the warmth from his Brand radiate throughout his body. “I’ll make sure and visit when I can.”

“Oh-....Oh-okay!” The toddler not fully understanding what was said got off the seat, hugging his grandfather’s leg with slight joy, he didn’t have much contact outside of his mother and the few times he saw Daire at the capital with Shannan and Radney.

“Heh, I never seen this much bounce to him,” Mareeta let out a soft and small giggle, seeing her most important family being connected, never had she thought she would make it to this stage in life. “I feel like you and him will get along nicely Father.”

“That so, eh?” the swordsman turned back to face his daughter with life in his eyes. “Well, I hope you’re right. This kid deserves a loving family, and...I know I let you down, so I won’t make the same mistake with my grandson.”

“I’m thankful, so how about we all get some lunch? You must be tired and I feel like Nagashiro has a place in town that he likes.” A gentle smile rested on her face as she held her hand down for her son. And without skipping a beat, Nagashiro ran to his mother, grabbing onto her hand. “Would you like that Father?”

“Yeah. I would.” a warm smile grew across Galzus’ face. It was nice to have a family again. For Mareeta, seeing all the people she holds dearly made her heart warm, more so, her brand glowed up with warmth, for once she wasn’t afraid of what lied before her in the future, no matter how dark or bright.