Fánao grew up in Ayalampa, a Linaic nation on the west coast of Arcél— a people without writing or cities. The Linaic tribes are not part of the Bé, but have essential equality between the sexes; Fánao was the eldest daughter of the chief of her small tribe, and by the age of 18 she was well experienced in war, engaged to another warrior, and expected to succeed her father. A particularly brutal war was winding down, and Fánao was sent to the opposing chief to negotiate a settlement; while she was there her enemies returned to her home tribe and massacred them. Fánao was alone in the world; nonetheless, she spent a year stalking and killing the leadership of the enemy tribe.
Though she was admired for her vengeance, she was also considered a threat, and she was expelled from Ayalampa. She wandered into Łeisau, then Mǎɔráŋ, working as a sword for hire, or as a thief when no one hired her. It was in the city of Mǎɔmê that she met Ŋar.
For over forty years they were near-inseparable partners, wandering the Bé as mercenaries, thieves, bodyguards, treasure hunters, and occasionally state agents. They criss-crossed the Bé, visited the other countries of Arcél, and made it as far as Ereláe and Neinuoi. They confronted many an enemy, from gang leaders to queens, from rifters to ktuvoks, from undead ancestors to evil sorcerors.
Fánao was unusually tall and strong even for a Linaic woman, and towered over the Bé. She was formidably trained as well, adept at almost every Arcélian weapon, though she preferred the bow and spear which were the typical weapons of Ayalampa. She was loud and jovial as a rule, and enjoyed nothing more than a night of revelry in the back room of an inn, with plenty of strong liquor, fine food, low humor, and willing boys. She sometimes struck new acquaintances as brutish and simple; but this was simply a role she liked to play, as it lowered defenses and brought out confidences; she was in fact canny and perceptive, often knowing more of the countries she passed through than the natives.
In later life she lived in Mǎɔmê on a royal pension— awarded for merit, for saving a princess, but also by the queen's judgment that a Fánao in need of funds was a greater threat to the general prosperity than a generous stipend. With a friend she adopted as a sister, she began her own jɔ or family and had two daughters and a son (unlike Ŋar who never bore children), though her sister and their husbands did most of the work raising them. During this period she only occasionally saw Ŋar, who lived in neighboring Łeisau.
Contrary to the expectations of anyone who had ever known her, she died at an an advanced age, and in bed, a respectable family matriarch.