When I was a girl, my father used to lead me around the city, telling me all the secrets he knew. He wold tell me how to find a good deal in the market, or how I could tell if someone was bluffing, or when the guards were changing their posts. He would lead me around and let me watch him interact, narrating his successes and failures after they happened.
It was all a game to him. One big game of chance and skill, like shooting die or flipping cards. The goal wasn’t to make the most money, or get the most power. All he wanted was to win, for winning sake.
I remember walking through the stalls and along the walls, searching for the cats that slipped between legs. I learned from them how to climb and crawl, how to loose wallets from their homes and into pockets, how to hiss and purr and scratch.
At the entrance to the city, a giant stood guard. His legs stood over the gates, welcoming friends and frightening foes. He had been a king in a bygone era, and when he had shriveled and died as an old man, he had been reborn into a great monument as a colossal youth. Men are always raising symbols in the honor, but the best kings leave no trace. There is nothing finer than to be forgotten.
When I got older, I would walk by myself through the massive market and port and look for the small spaces. Things were getting bigger all the time. Everyone wanted the biggest stash. Finding the small spots was the only logical thing to do.
How foolish that was. It is not through arithmetic loops and logic trees and fallacies that govern the world. Those methods and maths describe the how, but do nothing for the why. Some things are just chance.
My father did not rage when they came for him. He chuckled at the guards at the door, smirked at the judge, and smiled to the gallows. He practiced what he preached. Few men do.
He protected me to the end. Officially, I wasn’t even his daughter. Bastard born, I knew how to be a ghost. Now I had a reason to disappear.
I did not seek revenge for his captors and gaolers. They merely played their role. They didn’t knew who he was. He played the game, he got caught, and he was dead. They held no malice towards him. So what was the use in revenge? At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.
That did not mean I was aimless. The foundation had been set. The weaknesses outlined, and cracks only grew. Where my father had faulted and hanged I would be crowned. Where my father had failed I would rule. From his blood I was made and over his bones I would be queen.