Shakir Askari

Human Battle Master Fighter

“Sooo,” Mariette de Montmorency cooed, “Leila, please. If I’m going to go to dinner with him, I can’t be kept in the dark like this. I’ve never met him, after all, and he is such a mystery. Tell me about your brother!”

Leila sighed and kept herself from rolling her eyes. If Mariette insisted on playing the high-society coquette, Shakir would shut down yet another attempt to find him a suitable partner, and they were both running out of time. She reached to the side and took a framed portrait off of her lacquered desk and looked at it.

Shakir was in his uniform, his clothing all straight lines and crisp corners. His cloak was draped over his left side, as it always was, Leila noted with a small grin, as if he were a hero in a swashbuckling pulp novel instead of a newly-commissioned soldier. She knew under that cloak would be his sword, the company-issue instead of the much finer blade he wore now, as well as the pair of pistols he took with him when he left those years ago, the ones that had at least belonged to their grandfather back in Akkodia. The grin on his face might have been mistaken for cockiness, but only by someone who hadn’t witnessed the skill with which he wielded the blade. His hair was, of course, neatly cropped in military fashion, his beard in that strange zone between stubble and fullness.

Leila slid the portrait to Mariette, who giggled and awed. “Oh, he’s handsome. Not as much as some, but there’s something about him, I just can’t put my finger on it.” She quieted down as Leila cleared her throat and gave her a look.

“Shakir is our family’s eldest son, though he was not born until after we had arrived in Bailymena. We left Akkodia and were fortunately very successful in business. His whole life, he was meant to take over from our parents, but he was never particularly interested in it. He played at adventure; he loved swordfighting especially. He was Leandro Ferreiro’s best student. Leila noted that Mariette’s eyes widened. Even years after his death, the sword master’s reputation spoke for itself. As soon as he was old enough, Shakir joined the military. He fulfilled his service, and since he has come back we have. . . waited, for him to settle down. Find a wife, start a family.” Leila neglected to mention the less savory things she had heard. Casual affairs, street fighting, hanging about with that cad Dugan, who returned with Shakir after the wars. Such things would scandalize a proper young lady. . . or attract an improper one.

Mariette laughed again, “A wife? Family? Leila, how presumptuous. After all, it’s only dinner. Still, he is rather handsome. Tell me the details. Where shall I meet him?”

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