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Yanni Forakis

"Who is it you think you see, right now?"

0 · 326 views · located in Baekoth

a character in “The Messiah Queen”, as played by Yonbibuns

Description

Y A N N I || F O R A K I S
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"I still wish I knew the taste of something that good."


The Run and GoRemembrance
Trust MeBitter and Sick
I'd Be LyingCherry Tree




P H Y S I C A L I T Y



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Appearance

Hair: A swarthy tousled mess. As if hands, fingers, something has rummaged through his hair and left it in disarray. Though, not in a dirty, unappealing manner. He manages the scruffy pup-look especially well. It's kept fairly short, curling around his ears and the nape of his neck.
Facial Hair: Yanni sidles between looking like a mountain man and someone who actually cares what he looks like. Fortunately, he's grown to like the routine of shaving his own face, and keeping his beard neatly trimmed. At times, he shaves it completely off. Depends on the occasion.
Eyes: Murky ocean-blue. Sometimes, slate-gray or off-green and always calculating your movements, your tone, your manner of speaking or just how you're moving your hands, your mouth. Almond-shaped, droopy-eyed and awfully sad.
Build: Nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly not impressive. He has a slender build made for running or ducking into dark alleyways. Not a lot of beef to throw around.
Skin Tone: A wee bit paler than he'd like to be, but what can you do.
Height: 5'11”
Weight: 144lbs
Voice: There's something unusually pleasant about the sound of his voice. Slightly deep, somewhat raspy and perpetually seeming as if he's illustrating ulterior motives. Trained, disciplined, and certainly intentional in the way he pulls people into whatever conversation he's having. As if no one else exists. It's an ability he's honed, and practiced over the years.
Handed: Right-handed.
Body Markings: From previous owners, Yanni has the remnants of a small stamp burnt into the back of his neck and a much larger stamp where someone must have tried to cover it up. Of course, in a messy, ugly fashion.
Scar Tissue: If his body was a painting composed of lash marks, burns, and older scars, Yanni would be an abstract masterpiece. Fortunately, they're mostly contained on his back and shoulders. Puckered, corded scars that look like tiny white snakes trailing across his skin. It's not attractive, but he's long lost the ability to care.
Unique Body Features: None.


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Name
Yanni Forakis

Nickname
Yanni suffices. Yann and Rakis are fine, as well. In his gladiator days, he had a crueler name: Dog. Some still recognize him as this, though it's unlikely that he will answer to it. His clients have likened him to Silver Tongue, Smooth Talker, and Pup.

Title
Rebel Slave

Race
Human


Visual Age
28


Factual Age
30


Gender
Male


Sexual Orientation
Whatever he needs to be at the time


Class
Slave / Rogue

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M E N T A L I T Y


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Personality

It's difficult to tell where Yanni begins, and whoever else he convinces himself to be ends. He's a lonely chameleon swimming in a crowd of people, twisting and molding his personality to liken himself to others, so he can reap the benefits. It comes as naturally to him as breathing. Something that was known instead of taught. Charisma runs in his blood. He listens before he speaks and is genuinely interested in what others have to say. Undivided attention goes a long way, especially in normal conversation. Catering to the needs of others has carried on from his ugly occupation. His old, crooked masters taught him well. His upbringing demanded constant courteousness, and to respect others, to state your opinion in a precise, careful manner and to avoid superficiality like the plague. Pulling out chairs, opening doors and slipping a lady's coat on became instinctual, habitual. As did slithering around someone's vulnerabilities. But unlike copper coins, with only two sides to offer, Yanni has many layers to peel away. Kindness is only one slice, one flavor he has a predisposition towards.

He's been known to pose as a friendly, agreeable face. A good traveling companion and easy ally. Admittedly, far more approachable than the majority of his own acquaintances, this side of Yanni laughs heartily, drinks merrily, and speaks incessantly when given an opportunity. People appreciate his wide smiles, and bright, genuine gestures. His talkative nature seems to emanate from the raw desire to know: to understand, to feel the people around him through voice and laughter. Witticisms and cleverness is always welcome, as well. While there are remnants of bitterness bellying his grins, there's also a genuineness that surprises even himself. People are more than collections of bones and blood and muscle. Sometimes, he feels like there are too many personalities clumped into one world. It's overwhelming. While he's not always able to contain himself, he's careful not to drown himself in the affairs of others, however curious he may be.

Relentlessness beats deep in his veins, and forces himself back on his feet when others might've thrown their hands up and done something else. There is no other path. He's dogged in his pursuits. But he's no fragile teacup, bristling to maintain his pieces. Falling doesn't scare him. In most cases, Yanni can be downright self-destructive. Mostly, in the means of irrational moments, emotional outbursts, and a fragility that negates the carefully cultivated persona he's created. But like the rolling tide, he recovers. He possesses a deep, enduring quality that keeps him going not only when times seem rough, but when times seem impossible. In fact, he thrives in difficult situations and secretly thrills at the challenge; the idea of a quiet, easy life is not for him. He's a hapless dreamer, reaching out for the impossible and settling for nothing less. Mulling over some random daylight fantasy or musing over some philosophical quandary keeps his mind distracted from the uglier thoughts he has. It's natural for him to see the world in a more distant manner, even if it is often cynical. The reason Yanni kills has never been because he feels nothing. It's because he's always felt too much.

Yanni is remarkably sensitive to the feelings of others, and at other times, entirely disconnected from the world around him. Cautious, bordering on paranoid, in most cases, and a wrecking ball of risk and disaster in others. If there is any chance that something could be used against him, he will keep his mouth tightly clamped about it. That doesn’t mean he's afraid of wandering outside his fiddly area of expertise though. And to the untrained eye he maintains his air of confidence and relaxation, but those who know him better may be able to see the slight uneasiness in his body language: the way he scrutinizes every statement to make sure that nothing will backfire, the way he keeps an eye on everything going on. Like a cat flicking its tail, eyeballing everyone in the room. For all of the kindly, smiling qualities he sunshines to the world, there's a great capacity for malice and selfishness gurgling in his stomach. In fact, he does most things just because he can.

Most of all, Yanni wants to believe that he's a good person with good intentions, but that's not always the case.

Moral Alignment
Chaotic Good

Motivation
Yanni is a man of many motivations, and none of them are exceedingly clear. It's better that way. The more someone knows about you, the less leverage you have. Ending slavery is certainly near the top of his list—as well as finding his mother and freeing her, even if it means revisiting his old estate. Other than that, it's whatever needs doing to get closer to making sure no one has to go through what he's had to endure. No more children born into servitude. No more sad-eyed slaves, bending to their breaking points. No more being treated like dogs.

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Likes
    • Uniqueness—as many reasons as he's been given to hate most people in Dorelith, he can't help but like them. Particularly those who seem a little bit different. Those swinging around sassy retorts like daggers, batting eyelashes with promises, or simple gentility. Genuineness, in particular. Friendliness goes a long way in his books, as well as intelligent conversation. A laugh like bells? A snort? A crinkle of a nose. You've attracted his attention.
    • Books—in the happier days of his childhood, Yanni adored books. His estate-lady taught him the basics of reading but he mostly enjoyed listening to her read, rather than peruse them himself. It was the sounds of particular words, how sentences strung themselves together and the stories that were told.
    • Food-stuffs—having been cheated of good food for the second half of his life, he'd missed the simplicity of a good, warm meal. Things that are actually cooked properly. No more slop or gray-globs of unknown origins. Even if it's as simple as soup made from tatters and chicken, Yanni is pleased. He's easily impressed by cooked dishes and fragrant fancies.
    • Justice—probably not the sort of justice you're thinking of. His own has been twisted over the years, and if you believe he's above crushing someone he believes is undeserving: you'd be mistaken. Seeing a slaver being stabbed in the back and dumped into a lake would suit him just fine. And participation? Gladly. There's a wavering line between right and wrong that he has trouble balancing on.
    • Flowers—particularly fragrant flowers. Bright petals, wispy leaves, crooked stems. Thorns and all. They remind of him of something familiar, but he's not sure what. Either way, it's a pleasant memory.

Dislikes
    • Slavers and cruelty to servants—want a quick way to make Yanni your enemy? Mistreat your servants. Even having slaves puts you in a bad place, in his eyes. He supposes there's a difference between servants. Some are treated better than others, like he and his mother had been. His opinion often changes. It's a coin toss between bitter acceptance and mercilessness. There's little one can say to sway his judgments.
    • Prying or nosiness—generally, there's good reason for him to not share his intentions, his history or anything he's done up until this point in time. Having someone knead him for information is met with off-handed attempts to lead the conversation astray. Relentlessness is met with annoyance, and then outright avoidance if he can't shake them off.
    • The Pits—honestly, there's not a whole lot he'd like to reflect on when it came to his time spent in Ruhar's bloody arena. It may have been where his awakening took place, but nothing more. It's disgusting.
    • Rudeness—there's always that one sort of person rubbing him the wrong way. Yanni especially despises rudeness, in all it's flavours. The snub-nosed, chin-quibbling air that you're better than someone, or simple rude gestures like being interrupted when he's already having a conversation with someone else.
    • Hesitance—even in himself, he detests the inability to make a firm decision. He promised himself long ago that he wouldn't stay on the fence. Sometimes, it's necessary to do the wrong kind of things.

Fears
    • Slavery—of course, since he's already been through it, Yanni's not stupid enough to deny the fact that he's terrified of returning from whence he started. Having all his progress snatched away by someone else' hands, and earning another brand to his poor collection? No. He'd do nearly anything to prevent it from happening again.
    • Achieving nothing—if everything he's come to do amounts to nothing and absolutely nothing changes, then what was the point of it all? Every angle is considered. Nothing is wasted.
    • Innocence—while he's tipped toes with many clever individuals, and played the game as good as anyone has, Yanni doesn't quite know how to handle the sort of folks who bleed genuine goodness. Those who have no other intentions than to help others. Those who'd never consider treading on shoulders and hands. It's a curious thing he hesitates to squash.
    • Attachment—become attached to someone else, and you've got yourself a liability. Keeping people at arms length isn't especially difficult, but it's a lonely means of wandering the world.
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Strengths
Silver-tongued devil—Yanni has a gifted way with words, and subsequently with people as well. From the moment he meets someone, he's deconstructing their intentions, their ambitions, their wants and needs. He feeds them all of these things, if he's able. Kisses their self-absorbed desires. His intentions may seem good-natured, but he seeks exploitable angles. He manipulates people to get what he wants. Be that information or an impromptu ally. Cleverness, offhanded lies, and an easy smile have carried him far.

Unwavering will—Once he's made a decision, there's little to deter him off his path unless there's a better path available. It may seem like a double-edged sword (cruel as it sounds), but he's long grown tired of twiddling his fingers. A good leader is willing to make tough choices. While everyone else rocks back on their heels, he submerses himself in whatever decision he's made.

Network of secrets—while he provides his clients with whatever is needed, he also earns loyal clientele willing to part with a secret or two. His repertoire has grown over the years, and he has no lack of ears to whisper into. If someone needs something specific, it's likely that he has connections to acquire it so that he can expand his burgeoning web.

Got no strings on me—while he'd never recommend it... having once been a slave has given him many skills. He understands how to navigate the streets and how to weasel coin out of pockets without so much as sticking his hands into them. He understands pain far more than most do. He no longer shies away at the thought of being physically hurt because it's happened so many times before. He supposes all slaves have higher pain thresholds. It's given him a new perspective on nearly everything: and far more options.

Weaknesses
Merciless—there's a saying about burning your bridges and not being able to get them back once they're torched: as in, the dead don't talk. Yanni isn't one to easily forgive others once they've shown themselves off to be immediate threats or enemies. Forgiveness opens vulnerabilities, in his opinion, and its best not to paint targets for swords and other pointed objects. He's notoriously stubborn and change doesn't come by very often. There's no wiggle room for mistakes, so he's sure to convince himself that he isn't making any.

Distrustful—Yanni's been given little reason to trust anyone and so, he chooses not to. He'd like to say that it makes things easier, but that's not always the case. It severely limits his capacity to form any lasting relationships, and it's a fairly lonely path to walk. If some people are capable of terrible things, then all people are. His internal walls have been built so strong, it's difficult to imagine breaking them down.

Addictive, destructive behaviors—Yanni's what would be called a high-functioning alcoholic. Any sliver of spare time he can steal away is spent in dingy taverns, muddling his thoughts down with tankards of whatever poison is available. He manages his shortcomings by not drinking with his clients, but he's slipped up a few times, and becomes a messy wreck of repressed emotions, spilling up over the edges. He's not just destructive with the things he feeds his body.

Emotional roller coaster—there's a reason Yanni drifts in and out of cities and relationships like a smiling phantom dropping in for a lonely visit. It's far too dangerous to stick around long enough for his masks and layers to slough off. He's passionate, criminally so, wearing most of his emotions on his sleeve. He struggles to hide his emotions, typically splayed across his face, sometimes betraying him. It's not usually an act he's conjured up, however favorable the results might be. He can be somewhat emotionally reactive, either to situations or people.

Poor sense of direction—that is to say, Yanni has no sense of direction whatsoever. His inner compass is broken. How he navigates himself in big cities is a miracle to everyone.

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Is your character literate? In what languages?
Yanni knows how to read and write in the Common Tongue, and has picked up basic words in differing languages from the Pits, and criminal dealings, but knows little more than that. He still prefers having people read to him.



C O M B A T || P R O W E S S


Rating System
[Perfect] - [Excellent] - [Good] - [Above Average] - [Average] - [Below Average] - [Poor] - [Very Poor]


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Combativeness
Hand-to-Hand Combat: [Good] When you're plopped in the Pits, there are no masters. You kill or you die. There are no fundamentals to learn and no teachers tapping at your elbows to keep your stance straight. Those who fight like savages crawl out as victors. Boxing and brawling and wrestling combine into one effective bundle of violence. Fighting has always been survival of the fittest. He claws, gnashes his teeth and aims to destroy his opponent until they can't pose a threat to him anymore. He finds that the harder he's hit, the harder he fights. It dredges Dog back to the surface. Hands wrapped around throats, fingers cloying for death. It's dirty, intimate work. But, Yanni is spectacular at what he does.

Melee Combat: [Above Average] He learned from an early age how effective blades could be. Small things that could slip down your sleeves. Pulled out from the hidden nooks of his boots. His preferred weapons have always been daggers and dirks. Any tiny blade capable of seeking fleshy points like whispering lovers. Sometimes, they wouldn't even feel death tapping on their shoulders. Sometimes, they would simply drift off, clinging to him: wide-eyed and helpless. Slipping one into a belly required little more effort than exhaling.

Ranged Combat: [Very Poor] He just can't get his fingers right on any bows he's attempted to hold. Either that or his aim is so piss-poor that he outright avoids the weapon. Alecto had even offered to teach him how to throw daggers, but between the fiftieth time clumsily throwing them on the ground or having them thud against the wall and then the floor, Yanni has given up the art. Leave those graceful abilities to graceful people.

Magic Combat: [Very Poor] Unfortunately, Yanni possesses no such fancy abilities. Though it still tickles his curiosity. Fireballs? Yes.

Mounted Combat: [Average] Horses tend to warm to him fairly quickly. He's not particularly gifted fighting others while riding on one, but he's an exceptional rider nonetheless. If it comes to trampling them down and finishing the job with his blades, he figures he's doing well enough.

Class Skills

Survival: [Above Average] All slaves still claiming to cling onto remnants of their old selves are natural survivors. They've experienced horrific things and lived to tell the tales. Scars riddle their bodies, bellying the abuse they've had to endure at the hands of someone else no stronger than they were. They'd been cheated of an easy life from the very beginning in most cases, and Yanni is no exception to the rule. He thrives in poor conditions. Able to slip out of situations with ease, he thrives when things get particularly rough. Like an insect scrambling for any piece of continuity, he prevails when others die. Sometimes, he's not sure whether he should be thankful or not.
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Chameleon Charisma: [Excellent] While others secure enemies from their actions, Yanni makes friends wherever he goes and diligently covers his trails and ties up loose ends. He exudes confidence in the presence of those more powerful than he is. Sometimes unreasonably so. It draws people to him like moths to a flame, and he's able to manipulate them in fitting ways. Even as a child, he had a knack of getting himself out of trouble. These traits have been tempered with age: though his intentions are no longer as innocent as they once were. Yanni is a silver-tongued devil plotting and scheming and designing without so much as any inclinations of wrong-doings in the eyes of others. He's a kindly friend, a trustworthy ally, a lover, a confidant and protector. He can be anything you need.

Stealth: [Good] Covering his tracks, and knotting loose ties, is of the utmost importance. Neglecting to do any of these things will gain him unwanted attention. Or a sword in his belly. He understands that if one's face and body features are hidden, chances are he won't be as easily identified. Thus the clever use of different clothing is his specialty. His disguises can usually stand up to casual glances. Long enough for him to disappear in a crowd.

Racial Abilities

Cunning: [Good] A consummate liar with proactive schemes, shuttered under the guise of someone who cares deeply for whomever he's exploiting. It's as if Yanni begins as a tempting whisper and when you least expect it: a roaring blast rallying people together like war drums. He maneuvers himself around political affairs in dirty, unforgiving ways, but he's long since abandoned culpability. Since he does not have any political station to lean back on, Yanni had to come up with creative ways to extract secrets, and continues doing so, for the Hive, and many other ambiguous purposes. Chess games require a patient hand. He relies on cleverness, witticisms, and a biting sarcasm that barely scrapes the surface of his true intentions.

Adaptability: [Above Average] Intelligence and strength only go so far in this world. Having the ability to adapt to new situations, despite the difficulty they pose, gives you the ability to surpass insurmountable situations. Despite hating his old life, and all of its restrictions they had on him, being a slave netted him versatility. Slaves can get used to virtually anything given enough time. Change is inevitable. Adapt with the changing times and your chances of survival increase exponentially.

Pain Tolerance: [Good] The ability to suppress pain and keep going is nothing short of conditioning in Yanni's case, and in many circumstances, is necessary for his survival. Of course, it still hurts. But it's almost as if experiencing it repeatedly has given him the chance to expect it. Fall down enough and the idea of falling no longer frightens you. Pain from injuries can fog the mind and break the body, so developing a high tolerance level for it greatly enhances his performance and endurance in most situations. Another grisly aptitude earned from the many lashes and beatings he received.



E Q U I P M E N T


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Items
Other than the clothes he wears and the simpering smile on his face, Yanni carries different things depending on the circumstance. If he's traveling outside Nydoecia he may bring a leather satchel filled with goodies: mostly dry foodstuffs, a bundle of clothes, a small assortment of ropes, his daggers and even smaller pouch of glittering coin. If the opportunity strikes, he may carry flowers with him as well. He values quickness over preparedness. If he's in the city itself and there's no need to bring anything else, Yanni carries the clothes on his back and always, always his daggers, tucked out of sight.

Accessories
Despite not having seen her in ages, Yanni carries a small memento that once belonged to his mother: a small, colorful marble no bigger than his fingernail. A beautiful thing that reflects the sunlight if you hold it just right. He used to hide it in his mouth when Noverik searched him. Now, he keeps it in his pocket at all times.

Weapon
Weapon Name: Whisper
Weapon Type: Stiletto
Material: Steel
Length: 4”
Weight: 3lbs
Weapon Description/Info: There are certain blades in this world that slip in and out with little more than an exhale of breath—and this one, aptly named Whisper, can be counted among them. As much as he dislikes pointless violence, it hasn't failed him before. The blade is triangular in shape and unassuming to the eye: light in hand and deadly when sunk into bellies. Its hilt is made of wood and stained with age-old blood, but it's doubtful you'd ever see it long enough to make any judgments.

Weapon Name: Sinder
Weapon Type: Jambiya
Material: Steel
Length: 5”
Weight: 3lbs
Weapon Description/Info: Once in the pits, always in the pits. A great man he'd had the privilege of knowing in Ruhar told him that. His name was Sinder. He and Yanni had fought side-by-side for a time, until a sword finally sunk straight through his chest. Its blade is beautifully curved and viciously whetted. There are scores of foreign lettering engraved into its wooden hilt.

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B A C K G R O U N D


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Group Affiliation
Worker Bee in the Hive
Leader of the Slave Rebellion
Impromptu Ranger

Marital Status
Single

Relatives
Filona Forakis – Mother – Presumed alive

Origin
Nydoecia

Social Rank
None

Occupation
Worker Bee and Ranger

Bio/History

“Shh, shush. I'll always be right here.”


Some people buy puppies or kittens for their children to play with. Others breed children for the same purposes, posing as deliberate playmates. Yanni's birth was orchestrated for this sole purpose. His mother was a doe-eyed servant belonging to a rather wealthy family in Nydoecia, specifically bred to an unknown servant to produce a child for the Lady of the Houses' future babe. Filona had little choice in the matter. Slaves hardly did. But it was a chance to have a family she would never have been allowed to have otherwise. She'd been promised that she would retain her position in the house, and allowed to mother the child she carried. Both women were pregnant at different intervals: a few months apart. All the slaves were treated fairly well, his mother included. Beatings were only dealt out when a slave did something particularly awful: pinching from pockets, nibbling things that wasn't theirs in the first place, and speaking out of turn. Listen and behave, wheedle sweet words from sly lips, as Filona had learned to do, netted her a station well above the others.

Having been born under such peculiar circumstances, Yanni only knew how to be a slave. It became who he was, with little else to reflect on. There were no memories of better times, released from the burden of servitude. No recollection of how it felt not to have the fancy collar wrapped around his neck. There was little cause to celebrate his birth. Not because she regretted giving birth to him specifically. But she knew, with an ugly certainty, that he would eventually become subjected to the same kind of life she'd had to endure, but even so, Filona fell in love with the bouncing babe. His smile, his inquisitive eyes: always seeking something over their shoulders. She knew, from that moment on, that he'd come to save her. Come to salvage something decent and good and right in the world. In hers. He would never know his father, but she would fill both places for him. Shelter him from the badness of the world until he was old enough to bend it in his palm, mold it into something else. It was the only thing she could offer him.

His childhood was spent in routine, prevailing bliss: an ignorant delight reserved only for children who have no chance of knowing any better. In between strange lessons from his mother, told behind closed doors and time spent with the young heiress of the estate, who he'd been instructed to call Princess, Yanni simply existed in the household. He did what he was instructed and was treated well because of who he stood behind. It was a station that gave him immunity from the others, who envied his status and believed him too dirty to inhabit the same space he filled. A useless thing meant to fill in the spaces the Lady and Lord did not want to bother with. There were always whispers: in the hallways, in empty chambers. They simply didn't have enough time to entertain the child. Yanni would do, they supposed. His mother was quick to remind him that he was much more than that. Much more than they would understand.

For longer than he supposes he can remember, Yanni learned how to lie to get exactly what he wanted. Even in the estate where Lordlings and Ladies existed as higher beings, he'd been able to twist Princess around without hurting anyone at all. It was in the little lessons Filona taught him behind closed doors, when she could share her tricks. When he slowly realized that he could become more than a simple, stupid slave groveling at their heels like a lowly hound. She was the cleverest woman he'd ever known. Quick-whip, snarl-tongued and as observant as the cats he'd seen lounging across the windowsill.

“Yanni. This world is difficult. You need to put yourself first. It'll become your greatest strength.”


And in the same breath, she'd tell him wonderful things. Told him about the world outside the gates, and how much she wished that she could bring him to all the things she'd seen in her life. She told him about the ocean and the rolling waves, and how the ships looked like tiny specks in the horizon. Of the castles and bustling streets and the free men and women who navigated them. She told him about glades that seemingly reached the infinite, and the smell of sweet flowers cupped in her hands: instructed him to close his eyes, and imagine them as clearly as if he could touch them himself. In those brief moments, she promised that he would see them someday.

Eventually, all things do come to an end. As did Yanni's happy life, stolen away when Princess and he were roaming the cities marketplace. Allowed for the first time in ages, since it was so close by. The sights, and smells were overwhelming and the people seemed frighteningly bright: alive, as if they were spilling over into something bigger then them all. It was there, in the crowded streets, where they were approached by a grizzled man with a heavy, brass-buttoned coat and a scowly expression. He looked as them like they were produce being sold at one of the stalls. Up and down, sucking at his gums. He prodded Yanni in the chest. Hard. And then, addressed Princess by her real name, and announced that he was going to follow her back to her household in order to “talk business” with her parents. Her hands were trembling. At the time, he never understood why.

As soon as the retracted their steps, walked back through the gardens, and through the front door—it was clear that all was not well, and that he should have been the one shaking in his boots. There was a brief argument. It was quelled quickly enough. Like an old, leaky tap being shut off. Princess was already in tears, scuffling away into another chamber. The Lady of the House crossed her arms, and stared at the ground as if by some miracle the man would simply turn and leave. Apparently, the scruffy man was an acquaintance to the family, and they obviously owed him some sort of favor, because they handed his chain and collar away as if it was nothing. As if he was nothing. He froze. There were no sweet words, no sordid whispers or quibbling lip to squirm his way out of the man's burly hands. He was an object again. Traded off like cattle. But it was his mother who tore at him. Gnarled, twisting. Pulled back from him, clawing at the air while the surly man turned him away. Screaming. It was the last image he had of her.

“Not my son! Not my son! Give him back—not him, no no no.”


Life with the man he'd come to know as Noverik was grotesquely different from what he was used to. Any coddling he'd endured in the household was savagely beat out of him. He was a different slave, now. A fighting slave. Noverik promised nothing and offered less, too dumb to twist around his hands. Too stupid to beguile and flatter. Words had no place in his home, and besides, Yanni was no longer Yanni. He was Dog and he'd behave like one if he knew what was good for him. He was trained to use daggers, small knives, big knives, and swords, and frequently imagined plunging it into the back of Noverik's head but never did. He wasn't sure why. Something stilled his hands, something inbred and fearful. He became something else. As gnarled as the woman who stained his dreams, his nightmares. An extension of someone else. A blade in someone's hands. Days stretched into weeks, and months, but mostly felt like years.

The Pits. It sounded exactly like what it was. Simply a place for slave-owners to pit slaves against one another—a brilliant way to earn coin and reputation among Nydoecia's residents. And many of them gawked in the stands, shouting and shaking their fists. Bugling for death and slaughter and always more blood. Another transformation took place there: in those disgusting Pits. He had no choice. No one did. Not in the Pits. It became a mantra he repeated in the mornings, before he whetted his blade, but he found that he said them less and less as time went on. In order to continue doing what he was told to do, Yanni threw his humanity aside, and became monstrous. Became known for the one to sink his blades in his opponents backs. In the flesh of their necks. He'd usually wait until they were both bloody. A small, silly atonement because he couldn't punish himself enough. He became Dog. But it was also in the Pits where he met Sinder and the others. And another transformation took place. The remnants of a broken hope. The same sort he felt when his mother told him stories of life outside those gates.

How one makes allies in local arenas is beyond him. Even he found it hard to believe, but sympathetic ears exist everywhere, and where there are ears, there are people willing to die for causes they believe in. Yanni formed allies. Bolstered his own ambitions, and dreams, and hopes. The kindling embers ignited and he became much more than he ever thought was possible. And those allies whispered to other slaves, knowing full well they would oppose anyone holding their leashes. Yanni was finally given a chance to start anew when a peculiar woman snatched him away from the Pits. A serpentine beauty, swilling words like wine: Alecto Mellis. She made it clear that this dealing was anything but what it seemed to be. She took him away from the Pits and brought him into Nydoecia's belly: the Queen's Hive. A network of spies, secrets, and webs spanning the entirety of Dorelith. Here, he became one of her Worker Bees. A whisperer and a hoarder of secrets. His job entails many things: some dirtier than others, but he's long forgotten how to feel ashamed.

While he enjoys the games they play, in the puzzling art of slippery words, Yanni has long given up trying to figure out Alecto's inner workings. Much easier not to entangle himself too deep into her web. Who would risk being eaten alive? Not he. He's kept busy already—extending his own reach across Dorelith and slaughtering slavers across the coast of the Kraken Ocean. There is no end to the little birds scuffling for justice, for their chains to be broken and to become free. Who is he to deny them? His eyes are on the Messiah Queen as well, and he imagines, just as clearly as he can see those fragrant flowers, how easily his blades could dip into her heart.

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“You'll never know me. Not as I was. But mother, I should tell you. They took my hands. They were not my own to use. And then, they took my feet. Forced me to walk a path I never asked for. Piece by piece, they've changed me. They tried to steal my eyes, but I'll always see what they are. I will deliver them all.”

So begins...

Yanni Forakis's Story

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