Episode 16: Parting gifts

Eleven of the twelve people who would be the primary strike force in the oncoming battle gathered at the front of the tavern. Thunder, the caravan's night guard, was presumably off sleeping somewhere.

Arthur waited for everyone to find a seat before speaking. "Introductions would probably be useful, given that one of our members isn't from here, but there are a few people who have business to take care of first." He nodded to a dwarf waiting outside of the group; Isabelle recognized him as the town smith.

The dwarf picked up a sheathed sword and mid-sized shield from the table next to him and strode over to the boy. "Since your family's all either dead or using their stuff, I thought that I'd make a couple of things for you." He handed over the equipment without ceremony and headed for the girl. "You'll find out most of what I did for you in a minute, but let me give you these now." He unslung a tube that he had been wearing on his back and opened one end of it. He upended it over the table next to the girl, and six golden arrows fell out. "Half-a-dozen phoenix arrows, since I know that your mother used the last of hers during the Fall Revolution."

There were several gasps. Arthur demanded "When did you learn how to make phoenix arrows?"

The dwarf looked at him and grinned. "I know a lot of things that you don't, sonny boy." He made his way over to the tavern door and left whistling.

Arthur shook his head. "I thought that the last person who knew how to make those died five-hundred years ago."

"I know," said a woman, entering the group. "But I always thought that the little guy knew more than he was telling."

Isabelle looked at the woman and decided that she must be the girl's mother. She had a longbow slung over one shoulder and a quiver over the other.

"You're going to need some equipment if you're going to go adventuring," the woman said to her daughter. "Your practice bow is nice, but it's not a combat model. Use this." She unslung the bow from her shoulder and handed it to the girl. Steel guard-plates on the front shone like new, and gold inlay ran along the entire length of the bow. "I had the smith refurbish and refit it. Looks rather better than the day I got it, actually."

The girl looked stunned. "But mother, your bow . . ."

"It's okay. Your father and I will still watch over you from afar, but I can't wield a bow like I once did. We want you to have that chance now." She removed her quiver and handed that to the girl as well. "And one thing from your father. . . ." She pulled a silver dagger from her belt and laid it next to the arrows. "Use them well." She left, joining a quietly sniffling man along the way.

Arthur looked around; the tavern was now empty of everyone but the eleven adventurers. "Well then. Let's get started with introductions, shall we?"