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Enter: The Social Fanalis [Fanalis Corps Training/Plot]

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Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Ayero gave one last stretch before running her fingers through her hair, combing the loose red waves back. Her group had wrapped up yet another training session and the young officer was satisfied with their performance, noting how the new soldiers were progressing in learning proper combat. She had dismissed them a short while earlier after a grueling period of high intensity combat, yet a few of the younger recruits hung around the training area, chatting with one another.


Ayero watched them from the corner of her eye, silently ruminating on how her relationship developed with them over the past few months. When the small group laughed among themselves, Ayero couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy. She had guided them as best she could, training them into skilled warriors rather than barbarians. Though they seemed to respect her (at least to her face), she felt as if something was lacking. Aside from the young Delphi, Ayero hadn’t really made a connection with any of her cadets. How can I fix this? I wonder what they think of me… The Fanalis woman had only a handful of people in her life she would consider close friends, but realized that she hadn’t gone out of the way to make friends. Even if she tried, she wouldn’t know how.


When the laughter died down and casual conversation began to flow from the group of men once more, Ayero shifted her thoughts back to reality. As hard as she tried to be like Octavius, there were some areas that certainly needed work. I don’t really have much more to offer than being a warrior… Sighing inwardly, the Fanalis woman moved to exit the training grounds.


”Ah, wait! Captain Shiba!”


Ayero turned, surprised to see one of the young men break away from the group and trail after her. ”What is it, Yusuf?”


Enter: The Social Fanalis [Fanalis Corps Training/Plot] 3uGFmqk


The Fanalis male flashed her a hesitant grin. ”Captain, could I speak with you for a moment? Somewhere a little more…private?” He gestured to the group of Fanalis men who hooted and whistled at the potentially suggestive words.


Ayero arched a brow, looking over Yusuf’s shoulder to give the men a sharp glare. After they had been silenced, she turned her gaze back to Yusuf to address him. With a nod, the Fanalis female lead the young man to the side of the building housing the barracks. While she understood that he wanted to speak privately, she didn’t want to risk rumors flying about had she spoken to him behind closed doors. This way they could still be seen, albeit their voices wouldn’t carry to the group Yusuf had been speaking to before.


Ayero crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the side of the building, fixing Yusuf with a demanding gaze. Though she appeared collected on the outside, her worry was steadily rising on the inside. From what she had seen of Yusuf, the young Fanalis male was clever and social, leading him to be well-liked among his peers. This was the first time she had seen him anywhere near nervous, the silence between them growing as Yusuf took a few moments to gather his thoughts. Finally he spoke, looking Ayero dead in the eyes as he did so.


"Captain…were you at The Great Slave Auction in Heliohapt this year?”


[WC: 552]


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Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
The Slave Auction:
Though anticipated, the sound of the nearby serial explosions cause her to jump in surprise. That was louder than I expected…! As the guards begin to rush out into the chaos she make a beeline for the auction stage and keeps her eyes trained on the guard closest to her brother, snatching the keys from his belt as they hurry past each other. The halfling rushes over to her brother, the surrounding fanalis eyeing her with apprehension and hostility as she roughly grasps his bound wrists and fiddles with the lock on his chains, her shaking hands somewhat hindering the operation.

The moment his hands are free, Neem Shiiba takes a swing at the woman who freed him. Despite the fact that she had undone his bindings he couldn’t take the risk that she was simply a slaver taking advantage of the mass confusion in order to score herself some free merchandise. Even if she was an ally, he wasn’t about to take the chance at giving up his first taste of freedom in nearly ten years. To his chagrin, the masked woman ducked at the last second to avoid his fist. ”Neem! Wait!” She holds her hands up in front of her in defense. As she had predicted he pauses, startled that this stranger knows his name and she takes the opportunity to rip the mask from her face.

His jaw slackens at the sight of the last person he’d expect, partially hidden by the muzzle strapped across his face. ”…Ayero…? I…what on earth…?” His incredulous voice is muffled from behind the restraint which he then takes the time to tear from his face with a hard yank. ”What are you even doing h—“ Neem cuts himself off as he catches sight of his fellow slaves, their eyes pleading with him and the strange woman upon seeing that she likely posed no threat and that she was kin. Closing his eyes, the redheaded male takes in a deep breath before reopening his eyes and steeling his long-lost sister with a hard gaze. ”Ayero, listen to me. Take the rest of these keys and free as many on this block as you can, then get the hell out of here. Leave the rest to me.”

Ayero stares at him with hesitation for a moment before meeting his hard gaze with a practiced version of her own. ”No, I came here for you and only you. I can’t even guarantee that we’ll get out of this alive, so let’s move!” She grabs his arm in an attempt to yank him along, nervous and eager to leave this god forsaken place. ”Don’t be selfish!” He snarls, refusing to budge as she tries to force him to move, instead using the leverage afforded by her grip to push her smaller body toward the cluster of slaves. ”These are our brethren.” The fanalis male hisses lowly, gaze softening after the words leave his lips.

The situation was confusing and unpredictable, but Neem felt as if he owed many of his fellow enslaved fanalis a debt. If they didn’t take this chance now, many of them wouldn’t get the chance to taste freedom again. His words struck a chord within Ayero and she nods obediently, swallowing nervous as she begins to fiddle with the locks. For several moments Neem can only watch her and feel the erratic beat of his heart as he scrambled to come up with a plan to free the rest of the fanalis and make it out safely. His hand darts out and suddenly latches onto her wrist with an iron grip, causing the halfling woman to turn toward him with a confused expression.

”When you leave, go to back to Reim. I’ve heard stories of bandits…thieves or pirates, I’m not sure. But they’re said to be vicious killers that roam the mountains where our home is.”

He spoke with unusual clarity, his eyes boring deeply in to hers. Understanding what he wanted, Ayero can only nod wordlessly and watch as he disappeared into the chaos. She had successfully freed and reunited with her brother, but the stubborn ass refused to leave with her to safety. The fact that she was able to track him down was a miracle in itself and she mused that she should be grateful, even if they both were dead by the end of today.


Ayero’s eyes flared as soon as the question registered and she involuntarily straightened herself, an incredulous look settling onto her face. She had locked away her memories of the Slave Auction the moment she left Heliohapt, and the events in Reim helped to keep her mind occupied and away from what had occurred in the desert country. But now the memories came spilling back, and she couldn’t avoid the rush of feelings that took over her. Disgust, hopelessness, uselessness…Ayero let the feelings happen for a moment then began to suppress them into the back of her mind. She was still a new officer, she couldn’t afford to appear weak or emotional in front of her cadets. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the group of young men milling amongst each other, watching the pair with interest as they talked.


Ayero nearly jumped when Yusuf placed both hands on her shoulders, giving him a startled yet somewhat scandalized look. The taller Fanalis beamed down at her, but quickly removed his hands after realizing what he’d done. Retaining his bright smile, Yusuf elaborated.


”You…I knew it was you, Captain! You were the one who set us free.”


Shaking her head, Ayero drew in a subtle breath. ”Yusuf, you…you were one of the Fanalis held there for sale? That was a while ago, and so chaotic…even I can’t recall what happened properly…” Ayero’s head tilted to the side as she spoke, unsure of how to feel. ”Yusuf, how did you even get to Reim? The conditions in Heliohapt were abhorrent after the explosions, and slavery is still legal there.”


The male Fanalis reached up to run his fingers thorough his red hair, face sobering as he recalled the painful memories. ”Well…that’s a bit of a story, Captain, but I’ll give you the short version. When I was young, I went through the hands of many slave masters until I was bought by a powerful merchant in Balbadd. I spent most of my life with the merchant’s company, traveling around and loading and unloading goods with a handful of other Fanalis slaves. Earlier this year the company was attacked by bandits. The majority of the men were killed, the goods were taken and those of us alive were sold off to a slave trader. We ended up in Heliohapt’s auction, and some of us escaped during the confusion, thanks to you and your friend.”


Yusuf paused to take in Ayero’s expression, noting that the woman still seemed to be processing what he had told her. He did blame her, figuring that the memories of the event were painful and confusing as they were for him, to some degree. After a few moments, the young man continued.


”While we did escape, many did not make it out. I…I still don’t know what happened, but that thing took some of my closest friends away. They lost their lives, but at least they died free men…” Yusuf’s voice took on a more somber tone as he trailed off, remembering the most difficult part of the auction. The strange child that appeared produced some even stranger magic that caused the majority of the destruction to the city. Clearing his throat, Yusuf continued.


”Even in the aftermath, it was a dangerous situation for us. I’d been separated from the others in the chaos after being knocked out by a piece of debris. When I came to, there city was partially in ruins and I was alone. I was able to sneak my way out of the country, using old trade routes to make my way to Reim once I heard that slavery had been abolished. It was a difficult journey, but I was able to make it here at the tail end of the conflict.”


Yusuf let out at breath and gave Ayero a searching look, signifying that he had ended his tale. The Fanalis woman had her head turned to the side, eyes glazing over as she stared into the distance. Ayero’s arms were folded over her chest, hands gripping her arms tightly as she digested the information. Finally, she turned her head partially towards the Fanalis man.


”Are any of the others here from the Slave Auction?”


Taken aback by the response, Yusuf shook his head. ”Not that I’m aware of, no. Most everyone is from Reim. They were slaves until—” Yusuf paused, startled by the look in Ayero’s eyes. As he spoke, the Fanalis woman had turned fully towards him, a softer, hopeful look on her face.


”Yusuf…do you know a man called Neem Shiba? A Fanalis slave?”


Sighing, Yusuf shook his head again. ”I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone with that name. Is he your relative?”


Ayero deflated slightly, quickly resuming her rigid posture and stern face. ”I see. And Yusuf…why have you told me all of this?”


Again, the Fanalis man looked taken aback by the woman’s words. ”Isn’t it obvious? I want to thank you for what you and your friend did at the auction. I’m not sure why you did it, or what even happened…and you don’t have to tell me. I just want you to know that I’m grateful for what you’ve done, Captain.”


With one last big smile, Yusuf went to give Ayero a wave buy straightened his posture, giving her a Reim salute with his right fist on his left shoulder. The man quickly departed back to his friends, leaving Ayero to process all that had just happened.


[WC: 1467]


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Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Ayero sat at the table in the bar with unusually stiff posture, an uncomfortably forced smile on her face. Her hands were folded in her lap, a full mug of ale sitting in front of her, untouched. The group of Fanalis men and women sitting around her all looked equally as uncomfortable, eyes on the Fanalis Colonel. They didn’t dare touch their own mugs that sat in front of them out of fear of being reprimanded. For as long as they had known her, Ayero had been a strict yet fair instructor, ruthless in her training but obviously a bit green for a leader. And now, strangely enough, the woman had invited them all out for a drink.

It was about as awkward as everyone present could have imagined. Ayero had only wanted to grow closer to her Fanalis brethren after realizing that she had trouble connecting with them and couldn’t share their experiences, for the most part. What could be more social than a round of drinking? Ayero knew herself well enough to know that she was far friendlier when inebriated, and hoped that the others would be comfortable drinking around her. But her nerves kept her from starting, and the many pairs of red eyes focused on her were unnerving.

How…how am I supposed to…what do I do?! A drop of sweat began to roll down the side of Ayero’s face as her stare became unknowingly more intense. She’d been calm and calculating in the worst of battle situations, but now she was truly stumped.

Noting her unease, Yusuf, who had seated himself next to her, began to speak. ”Ah, thank you for inviting us out, Colonel!” He gave a pointed look to the others who began to agree with strangled grunts and mutterings.

”Yes. Thank you all for coming. Please, drink to your heart’s content.” Ayero felt as if her words were far too formal and her tone far too nervous, but she finally reached for her own glass and raised it up along with Yusuf. Falling back into the familiar motion, Ayero tilted her head back as her lips touched the glass of the mug, guiding the smooth liquid down her throat. The others followed suit, a chorus of refreshed gasps and subsequent chuckles resonating from the table. Some of the Fanalis had finished their drinks in one go, Ayero noticed. She herself had taken in half of a mug, not wanting to overindulge just yet.

”So, Colonel. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself? We spend so much time together, but we don’t really know that much about you!” Yusuf tried again to usher the mood along, giving Ayero a friendly smile. The woman in question took another deep swig of ale before leaning back in her chair, balancing on the back two legs.

”Well…not much to tell, I suppose. I lived in the mountains of Reim with my family and left, wanting to see more of the world. I returned to Reim when I heard news of the invasion.”

Yusuf nodded, a polite smile on his face. It was not as much as he was hoping for, then again he knew better than to push someone about their personal history, especially when it came to Fanalis.

A few of the Fanalis at the table grunted, displeased with the fact that she had lived a life so free that she could travel wherever she wished to. Most of them had lived the majority of their lives as slaves until now. Ayero sensed a bit of displeasure rising and called out to the barmaid. ”Ah, miss! Another round!”


[WC:2071]


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Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
After several more hours and too many drinks to count, the group of Fanalis stumbled out of the bar and spilled onto the darkened streets of Remano. Ayero had decided to gather up her group and leave before things got too rowdy—they were already getting a few looks for being boisterous and loud—before paying the massive tab. Her plan had worked well enough, despite things getting off to a rocky start. While her recruits seemed to respect her strength, they didn’t seem that…close. Luckily after a few drinks Ayero herself loosened up and became more open and friendly, which seemed to go over well with the other, equally drunk Fanalis. Some of them opened up about their past as slaves, some kept their lips sealed on anything concerning their past. That was fine, Ayero would not force them. She was inwardly overjoyed that they began to talk to her more casually and hoped that they’d see her as more of a leader rather than an authority figure.

The group burst out laughing as someone made a funny quip, heads of red hair bobbing as they stumbled down the street. Ayero was being supported by Yusuf—or was she supporting him?—as they made their way back toward the Corps headquarters. One of the men slapped Ayero heavily on the back, causing the woman to hiccup as he complimented her ability to hold her liquor. The Fanalis woman responded with a drunken smile. Looks like they like me better drunk…ahaha…

[2322/1000]

[Exit]


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