A street thief, a good one, who lives to organize other thieves. Impose a little decency if you can sell it to desperate kids. Portia always tried, but when you’re the boss, you have so little power. And they can turn on you, kill you in your sleep. Portia survived.
By age 13 she ran a gang of twenty thieves who together exerted some leverage on fences. Soon after she was contacted by the thieves’ guild and offered support, free meals once a day, apprenticeship, and open houses to meet with talented thieves of Sinon’s 203-member guild to discuss how the guild could help them, foster their careers.
Portia’s telepathic powers and future sight emerged just ask she was apprenticed to Angela, an old hand at pickpocketing and blackmail. She brought incredible information about the vices and crimes of the wealthy and powerful at Sinon and offered it to Angela. Angela asked her how she knew the things she did. Portia explained that she had invaded the homes of rich noble townhouses and taken and read many letters and documents.
“Oh, well read this letter to me then, if you’re such a quick reader,” Angela said.
Caught, Portia had told the truth about her ability and how she knew the things she did. Angela tested her, made her read her very specific thoughts and figures from her mind. Believed the girl. Taught her to make even more of her ability by teaching her what documents were important to the rich: their journals, letters, and poems all yielded information. So did a noblewoman’s receipts.
The two began to work closely together. Portia read the minds of wealthy nobles and merchants in Sinon and learned their secrets. With Angela’s encouraging coaching, she learned which books and other documents would prove what she knew. But half the battle was knowing which people to start digging into for proof. And, as Angela taught Portia, presenting someone the specific knowledge of the woman’s crime would frighten her; she would assume Portia could not know the specific experiences, intents, conspiracies without also having the means to prove them true.
Portia learned how to spy by watching power move, what motivated merchants, visiting nobles, and their and other guilds. Who got richer, and why? Who gained power and who lost it, and why? She studied the rich class endlessly, working as a maid in the The Prow inn, home to visiting nobles for stays of months. Any information could be sold if you could furnish the evidence of what Portia already new by reading the minds of traitorous or treacherous nobles. Her telepathy meant she need only dig, not question where to dig.
Portia loved the work. And the guild soon made her one of the 203 thieves after the retirement of one old woman who ran protection for the guild.
I’ll be writing more of Portia soon and striving to conceive of the right short story to tell of her and her friends in the Guild.
Mark Stanski: editor, artist, community builder
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