Episode 17: Plainstone special

Arthur glanced around at the group before starting. "All of you know Max. The six with him were sent by former members of the Lost Soldiers' Brigade, some of his friends. All of you know me; I don't like to run things, but I hate to see someone else screw them up."

He waved a hand at Isabelle. "Isabelle here is a freelance hero generally and a caravan guard currently. I'm told that she's very dependable."

Isabelle looked at him, suspicious. She hadn't told him that.

"She's originally from northeast of here. Our missing member is Silent Thunder, the night guard and generally mysterious swordsman. If you see a man in black sleeping somewhere, it's probably him. If you don't see the man in black, it's definitely him."

Arthur turned his attention to the boy sitting across from him. "The young man is Percy. He's not related to me, but he was engaged to my ward before she died and I took him in when his parents were killed. There's more to that story, but I'll leave it up to him to tell it if and when he wants to. I figure that it's time to teach him the family trade." Arthur glanced at the equipment sitting by Percy. "Would you mind if I looked at that sword?"

The boy handed it over silently.

"Thank you. Let's see. . . ." Arthur examined the entire sword carefully. It was a very plain, even austere, sword, devoid of all ornamentation and markings. "I thought so. It's a Plainstone special, the smith's own invention. Magical armour won't do any extra good against this. The shield is probably the same." He handed the sword back. "Would you like to introduce yourself?"

Percy stood. He was of average height and build, though clearly young, with short black hair and simple clothes. "My name is Percival, Percy for short. I'm sixteen. My parents knew Arthur and Arthur's brother. I was engaged to Arthur's niece at birth. Now I'm here." He paused for a moment, thinking. "That's about it." He sat down again.

Arthur nodded and looked at the last person in the room, the girl. "I'm afraid that I don't know much about you except for your name: Orlaith, daughter of Ceara of the Bow and Fintan the White Flame."

The girl nodded and rose. She was barely over five feet tall, with long red hair in a braid. Her movements were full of energy, and her short sleeves revealed strong arms. "My name is Orlaith. I'm fifteen years old and was born here in town after my parents retired. I'd like to carry on my parents' tradition of defending the Empire and helping those in need; I'd also like to see the world that I've heard so many stories about but never seen." She bowed and sat down.

Arthur checked off something on his slate. "That's that, then. Next up: Making this official."

Isabelle wondered what he meant by that.