"Will you tell me a story?" Vlael rolled to her side as her father moved to get up.
"Hm." Theo sat back down, the small bed creaked. His daughter slipped into the divot his weight made in the bed's mattress. He glanced towards the door. "I could get mom--"
"Mom always tells me stories, I want you to tell me one."
Theo worked his jaw, bit the inside of his lower lip. A story for a little girl, huh. What kind of thing would she want to hear? There had been nights when he stood by the door as Kaia told their daughter a story. Always about something happy. Animals learning how to be friends, people helping each other, a princess and knight who protected the kingdom from a misunderstood dragon. Maybe she would like something less obvious.
"Okay," Theo said. "How about a story about a thief?"
"A thief? Why a thief?"
"Why not a thief?" Theo's brows raised. His girl's eyes widened as she curled up and pulled her blanket close.
"This is a story about Elvosi. An elf with the most nimble fingers. His father, Grael, worked on all sorts of fine instruments. Lords and ladies from all over came to Grael with their lutes, watches, barometers, thermometers, scales, weights and measures. He could fix them all, knew how each thing worked, and could make them good as new. Elovsi learned from his father. Just like you're learning about cooking from mom and I--how to run a restaurant. Elovsi assumed he would do as his father did. But one day Elovsi was locked out of his house. His parents had gone to the opera while Elovsi was spending the day with a friend. Elovsi and his friend wanted a game that was in Elovsi's room, so they went to try and get it, but of course the house was locked up tight. Grael had some of the best locks in the city. At any given time he had many valuable items that he was working on, and for any of them to be stolen would have been terrible.
Elovsi did not have a key. He'd expected to spend the entire day, and night, with his friend. But once he got an idea it was hard for him to get rid of it. His friend said it was fine, they should go back to his place, they would find something else to do. There were other games. But Elovsi wouldn't have it. It was now a game for him to get the game. A challenge. Could he find a way into his own home? He was determined to find out.
First he tried the doors--the front and the back, but those were locked tight. Next he tried the windows. He jiggled them, tried lifting them, shook them, even banged on them a little. No luck.
Elovsi decided to try and pick the lock on his back door. He told his friend to stand watch. It wasn't common for people to walk down the ally, but Elovsi didn't want to explain himself to the city guard if a patrol happened by. With his friend scanning, Elovsi took two pieces of wire he'd found in a nearby trash heap. The basic idea of a lock was clear enough to him, he'd fiddled around with them here and there. Not because he had ever planned on picking a lock, but because all things mechanical interested him. If a thing had moving parts he wanted to know how they moved and why.
He bent the end of one of the two wires into a tiny L shape. The other he bent a few times, turning the end of the wire into a small mountain range. He tested the lock pins with the bumpy wire, with the L wire he jiggled. As he continued to jiggle and twist he moved the first wire back and forth, in and out, trying to find the right posi--Ah!" Theo said and felt a jolt in his daughter's body. He grinned. "The lock turned. And that was the first lock that he ever picked."
"But he didn't steal anything. It was his game he got, right?"
"That's right. But he stole things later. I'll tell you one of those stories another time."
Vlael sighed. "Okay."
"Sleep well." Theo ran a hand through his girl's hair then kissed her head. He left the room, thinking about locks.