Trajan and Kahlin walked in silence for a moment, finally Trajan started, "Are you going to be all right?"
Kahlin cracked a wan smile at that "Thanks Trajan, but ill be fine. Believe me I've been through far worse"
“A few tails got flared a bit, and I'll have to admit mine was one of them. Sometimes talking things out helps.”
Kahlin smiled, it looked like he'd been right in his suspicions when Trajan had asked for his company.
Trajan paused to take a breath "In one way Ayshe is right, we will have to work better as a team from now on, I just don't like his method, shame doesn't always produce the desired results."
"I don't think coercion or disrespect can do that either" Kahlin quipped, bitterly, getting a bit hot under the collar at the memory. However a glance at Trajan's concerned face shut him up. He shook his head "Sorry ... look I don't want to start griping about Ayshe behind his back, as a rule its not something I stoop to doing" he sighed "But I guess you do need to know the reasons why I'm upset"
He stared at the footpath, stared beyond it in fact, thinking back through memories and organizing his thoughts. "I've been part of several different kinds of groups before and have led them on occasion; project groups at the College, groups of friends and workers here and back home, I've even taken part in a guardsmen cadets program when I was younger" He felt a little melancholy recalling these when the last few months of his life had been spent in near-solitude studying for his coursework.
"While I'm sure there's a lot I don't know about the world, I feel strongly that respect is a key part to working together in any group. I've seen what can happen when respect goes astray, when groups fracture along lines of animosity. The work they need to do becomes a secondary concern, they can't work together anymore, they can't jump when they need to jump. In some situations the damage is not that important but consequences can easily be more severe" He looked sadly at the ground "It's one reason why I don't stand up for myself as often as I could or why I concede points or arguments and defer some decisions to others"
He turned worried eyes to Trajan "But it gets old fast, and on things like this I really don't know what I should do. Ayshe basically walked all over me in there for no good reason, he insulted me, spoke for me, then just handed me assignments without my input and I'm supposed to just accept that in the name of getting along?" He could feel tears welling up behind his eyes but he controlled them, although his voice held a faint quiver of emotion "He has his pride, but I also have mine and I don't know if I have the strength to swallow it after that show in there."
He turned away, not wanting to get overly emotional over it. He spoke slower and softer, letting the night air cool both him and his temper. "Ayshe's intentions may be good but I'm afraid that what he actually achieves could be just what he wants to avoid. A large part of me wants him to clean up his own mess, but another part knows that I will bear some responsibility if I go through with it, or if I don't give in first."
Trajan thought for a moment, he gently put a paw on the younger rac's shoulder. “It's OK lad, that is why I wanted to walk back with you tonight. One thing I learned in the guards is that there is no room for individuals in a team. Especially when our lives might depend on one another. If we have a problem we need to talk it out with each other, some things need to be said in private, some things need to come to the attention of the group.”
Kahlin nodded, glumly. "Well, personally, I find it a serious problem. I can put up with it for a while ... maybe ... but a lack of respect in dealings with my friends is not something I can reconcile to in the long run."
“I can understand that, Kahlin, but we will have to give each other a chance and a little time. Teams don't just form out of the blue, they need to be forged. We've been together barely a day, I'd almost be suspicious if everything had gone flawlessly from the start. Look at Faris and Greystar, they are brother and sister, so they have had their entire lives to form a bond and a system. It might be a good idea for us to see how they work together and see how we might apply some of that experience to ourselves.”
"Are these just teething problems though? What if they keep going on?" He snorted in frustration. "I guess you're right, we haven't been together nearly long enough to draw conclusions, but its just ... ahh I don't know"
Kahlin thought things over for a minute, his ears swiveling back and forth pensively as they walked. “Trajan, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"You said you were in the guard, I guess that means you had to get used to forming new teams quickly if you got swapped to a new post. How did you handle things like this?"
“Well, Kahlin, it wasn't easy.” Trajan Replied “Sometimes it was like you had to relearn everything from scratch. Group actions that were second nature with your old outfit now became unfamiliar with the new crew. You mess up doing a couple basic tasks, and everyone thinks you're stupid. But after a while, you learn how the new team works, and with any luck, you fit in. But the first few weeks are never easy on the new guys. I wish I had something more helpful to say, but it all boils down to this: Survive, do your job, that's all anyone can ask of you. Once the group knows you're serious about staying, they will come to accept you.” Trajan's tail twittered a bit. “I hope that makes sense.”
Kahlin nodded, he might not have had the exact same experience but it sure sounded familiar. "You basically have to relearn how it's all run, not only structurally but also the relationships between the established members and where you fit in the grand scheme." He took in a deep breath of the cool night air. “Not that we really have any "established members" just yet.” he thought, “and something tells me Ayshe wouldn't like to be compared with a new recruit. But I think the topic of this conversation is diverging from its parallel with the current situation."
Not that it mattered to him, he was more interested in satisfying his own personal curiosity now. He turned back to Trajan with the aim of asking the questions he most wanted to know the answers to. "What was life like in the guardsmen for you?"
Trajan inhaled slightly, and thought a moment. “It was a job, like any other. We got up in the morning, we trained, we hunted down the parasites of society. We helped some folks pick up the pieces of their lives, and we burned the remains of a few others. There were good times and bad.
"Was it worth it?" This was one that he'd wondered about many a night, thinking about whether he could've done more with his life than just devote it to books and study.
Trajan's ears flicked at that, his tail slightly twitched as well. That was a good question, he stroked his muzzle as he thought. “I guess you could say yes” he replied unconvincingly. “When I was fourteen at the soothstone, I really didn't have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. The guards seemed the best way for me to get a little respect from my peers, so I figured that would be the easiest route to take. Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work, respect is something that has to be earned, especially in the guards. When your life is on the line, you need to know everyone can do their job, there's no room for slacking. I found that out in the first week of training. Once we got into training and we started to work together, we formed bonds like I had never had before. If I had to re-live my life, that is one thing I would not change.”
Kahlin paused after Trajan's reply, he'd answered the most important question Kahlin could ask him from a personal viewpoint, but there was just one more that curiosity demanded an answer to. Kahlin just hoped that by asking it, he wouldn't drive another wedge into the party.
"If its not too personal; then why did you leave?"
Trajan stopped dead in his tracks.
When he saw hesitation on the part of the older Rac he added quickly "You don't have to tell me now if you don't want to" he smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring manner "just tell me to shut up and you won't hear me ask it again"
The question, so simple, hit Trajan like a wall. Here he was talking about trust and respect. How could he explain? Confusion reigned momentarily in the big rac's mind. “I ... ” he looked away from the youth “I made a mistake, and I lost a lot of friends that day, as well as ... The most precious person in my life.” He turned back to Kahlin, eye still on the ground, his tail dragging. “I just couldn't return to the routine after that.”
Kahlin winced, but kept it to himself. He could hear the sorrow in those words and they caused a sharp pang of guilt in the wizard. He'd known he was poking at old wounds when he asked the question, even though he didn't know exactly what those wounds were like. And now, like an incompetent healer he'd just gone and made things worse. He placed an arm on Trajan's shoulder, his sense of heartfelt loss weighed down on Kahlin who took a few seconds before speaking again, softly.
"I wont pretend that I understand what you've been through but if anything you've earned the right to decide when or if you ever want to discuss it." He smiled, trying to cheer up the other but still maintained a grave tone "In all probability, I won't be able to offer anything more than the advice given to me by a person far more experienced than myself; that "sometimes talking things out helps""
Trajan looked "up" at the shorter rac who said nothing more about it, but directed him towards a last flight of wide open stairs that led up towards the luftship district of the city. "Come, we're almost there"
After thinking about it for a second, Trajan smiled, clapped his arm around the smaller rac and ruffled his shoulder a bit. “What a fine pair of councilors we'd make.” They were almost in sight of the Whim now. Trajan whispered conspiratorially to Kahlin. “Here's a little secret for you, the the main reason I left the swamp is because I didn't want to die there.” Although he didn't say it, Kahlin knew it was implied: “I didn't want to die there alone.” “Let's get inside, this day has gone on too long”