Mynda and Roama walked away from the Towers court together, having stripped off their hotter outer layer of padding.
“You pulled off yet another match, Mynda,” Roama said, “but you do not look too pleased about it.
“You’re right, Roama,” Mynda replied. “We won, and that should be good enough. But I know my father won’t be happy.”
Roama raised an eyebrow and glanced to the side as Tilido and Clallo trotted up beside them. “This again?” asked Roama. “I thought he already dropped this.”
Mynda took a deep breath and sighed before continuing. “He is always talking about destiny this and preparation that. Winning in overtime by one point will not make him happy. It’s as if he thinks we are going to face stiff competition from the foreigners. It doesn’t make sense. We’ve had foreigners around for a few years now. A few have learned to play Towers and joined in the matches, but nothing is changing the essence of the game itself.”
“You’re right, you know,” said Tilido. “It’s still the same game it has always been. We’re always high in the rankings. We lose a few matches; everybody does. But we always do well. So what’s your father’s issue? What is he really looking for?”
“I’m not sure,” Mynda said, still confused. “But he has been spending a lot of time meeting with foreigners, and he keeps saying the Council will listen to his ideas, but he needs to develop them further first. I don’t know what Towers matches have to do with all of that. Maybe nothing. Maybe he is just disconnected. Mother always said he cared too much for ambition and too little for people.
“So what are you worried about?” Roama asked. “It sounds like he is just being wrapped up in his own schemes. He expects too much, he says weird things, he has meetings behind closed doors. What does that matter? The Council hasn’t been pulled too far his way, has it?”
“No,” said Mynda, “but he maintains we will have a strong future despite that. Despite not having the Council’s ear, somehow we and all of Esclace will have a powerful future with no apparent reason for things to pick up. Trade with the foreigners has helped and has brightened some citizens’ outlook, but not in a huge way. There is never a huge amount of trade happening at any one time.” Mynda’s eyes focused on something in the distance. “He did recently say things would change soon. He wasn’t making much sense, but he always said ‘someday’ before. Now he says ‘very soon,’ and he has more frequent mood swings. Oh, and he’s been having more frequent meetings with his soldier friends. What do you make of that, Roama?”
“What can I make of that? Does he still insist that you act as if Tilido, Clallo, and I are your servants?”
“Yes. I will always disagree with him on that. He would also probably have a better time with the Council if he did not look down his nose at all of them. But he thinks that one must act the part of the job one wants.”
“He’s right about that part, princess,” interjected Clallo. “Why, just the other day—”
“DO NOT CALL ME THAT!” Clallo did not have a chance of finishing the thought as Mynda cut him off. “I need friends, not servants, and I don’t care what my father wants to say about my future! Now, do you want to be a friend, or do you want to carry my sweaty Towers pads like a good servant?” She stared at him intensely, daring him to challenge her patience, then started to let the tension dissipate as he backed down. “I get enough frustration from my father! I need friends. My father has crazy plans. I don’t. I think the Council has mostly sensible heads in it, and if I ever sit on the Council, things will be different than they are now with my father. But I’m not trying to make grand schemes. I don’t need you mocking my father through me as proxy. I just need a regular life. Towers matches, schooling, friends. That’s it.”
Tilido joined in, always a voice of reason. “Clallo, that wasn’t very funny. You could hear she was already frustrated, right? And then you come and push her buttons—”
“Alright, alright, no need for everyone to come after me” Clallo said. “It’s alright, I’m sorry, Mynda. Can you put it behind you? I already feel like I never even said it, myself.”
“Fine.” Mynda rolled her eyes. “Just, later on, let’s all go to the market, and you can show me where you got that pen you had yesterday.”