When my father finally came back from his quest he was no longer my father. The horrible thing is I wasn’t myself either. I wish it was easy to explain, wish I could put it all into a neat and tidy box, wrapped up in pretty paper and ribbon. Wish I could sit down and open that box by myself someday, to see if the end somehow mirrors the beginning, to see if there was any foreshadowing that I could have picked up on.
But the bottom line is there was a price for my father’s freedom.
And it was me.
I don’t belong to him anymore. Don’t belong to anyone now.
It took years for me to buy my own freedom, hiding bits of copper and silver that I earned on the streets. Took even longer for me to unlearn my new foreign accent, to replace it with something liquid and elegant, something that flows off the tongue. And then there were the months spent practicing the fine art of Kundow, the local combination of dance and self-defense.
And finally, with my face painted, I donned the traditional dress of a warrior princess and performed every night down at the Painted Pony. Knowing that one day he would walk in the door.
I saw it in my dreams and I knew it would happen.
The end of my father’s quest was destined to be the beginning of mine.