Commander Erhan walked down the corridor in the Imperial palace, his exacting steps echoing off the rust colored stone walls. The hallway was lined with murals depicting great Imperial victories. Next to each painting hung the broken coat of arms of whichever enemy had been defeated. For Erhan, the scenes made his heart swell with pride in the Empire he served. He imagined that it instilled fear in those who might think of betraying the nation.
He arrived at a heavy wooden door, which was flanked by two guards in the royal blue uniforms of the Cambisian Empire. Each held a musket across his chest and had a saber on his hip. “I’m here to see the judge,” said Erhan.
One of the guards nodded without a word and pulled the door open for the commander.
Erhan stepped into the chamber beyond, and the guard closed the door behind him. The round frame of High Judge Aydin stood with his back to the door, gazing over the city below through a large window. Another young man sat at a table in the center of the room, though he didn’t look up at Erhan’s entrance.
“It’s about time you arrived, Commander,” said the judge.
Erhan stood tall at attention. “I’m here at the time that you specified, your Honor.”
The judge turned around and wrung his hands as he looked at Erhan. “Yes, well, we have work to do, and we can’t waste any time.”
Erhan bowed slightly. “What is it that you require of me?”
He paced over to stand near the table. “On our cruise last week, we were set upon by pirates. They took all of our jewelry, and one of them viciously attacked my son,” he said as he pointed at the young man.
“He doesn’t look hurt to me,” replied Erhan. “He seems to have fared quite well for someone who was attacked.”
“She humiliated him, my family, and, by extension, the Empire.”
“She?” Erhan held back a laugh. “Is this why he is moping around? A girl insulted him? Seems that you need a weapons trainer rather than someone like me.”
Aydin walked around the table and pointed at Erhan. “No, you’re exactly who I need. I want you to go find this pirate and bring her back for trial.”
“Surely, there are better uses of my skills than to track down some girl.”
“This girl and her pirates attacked a ship full of nobles, including several members of higher families. This is why my fellow judges and I have drawn up this order for her arrest.” Aydin handed Erhan a rolled piece of parchment. “After some investigation, we found that her name is Nereyda and she is the captain of the Storm Raven. Go get her for me, Commander. While it is an order, I would also consider it to be a personal favor. Please, get justice for my family and the Empire.”
Erhan unrolled the parchment and scanned the order. “The Emperor even signed off on this?” he asked as he pointed to the bottom.
“Yes. With so many nobles on the ship, he has considered the attack to be an act of war. Also, look at the list of charges.”
Erhan looked back at the parchment to find the justification for Nereyda’s arrest. “She attacked an Imperial naval vessel?” he hissed
“Not just attacked. In an unprovoked strike, this Nereyda and her pirates sunk a frigate and left the entire crew to drown.”
Erhan clenched his fist, crumpling the parchment. “Which ship did she sink?”
Aydin shrugged. “I wish I could tell you, but I don’t have that information.”
“Even so, I probably knew some of the men who went down in that frigate.” He looked up and set his face with resolve. “Yes, I’ll go get her for you.”
“Good, I knew you would feel motivated to hunt her. While I want her alive, along with as much of her crew as possible, do whatever you must to arrest her. If she tries to flee or fight, break her.”
“It will be my pleasure, your Honor. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, Commander, that will be all. Do this for me, and I will even write a recommendation for promotion, if you so desire.”
“I would be most grateful, sir. Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to begin preparations,” he said as he waved the order.
“Please, go. I will see you when you return.”
Erhan bowed and turned to leave. He shoved the door open and strode down the hallway, eager to capture this Nereyda who had murdered a ship full of his comrades.
It will officially release on December 15th.