As you walk back to the shop together, the girl says her name is Delilah. She explains that her parents were poor and fell to sickness when she was 12. She’s been alone on the street for more than two years.
"This is my shop and home,” you say as you approach the door. “You are welcome to stay with me as long as you like. But you have to get in first.”
You close the door in her face and lock it. Delilah shakes the handle but the lock holds strong. You crack a window to deliver some advice on how to get into your shop. What do you say?
Delilah continues to shake the handle of the door but to no avail. She circles the building and finds some wires in a pile of rubbish in the alley. You watch as she toys with the wires. Determining several to be sturdy enough, she returns to the door and inserts them into the lock. Minutes later, you hear the lock turn and the door swings open. Delilah is framed in the doorway with a triumphant grin on her face. You invite her inside and take her to her room, offering pointers on lock picking along the way.
Delilah backs away from the door and looks at the shop itself. It is a three-story building with multiple ramparts and scaffolding. A perfect climbing surface for those with the skill. You watch as she notices the open window on the third floor and begins to prepare for her climb. With surprising grace, Delilah uses some nearby boxes to vault onto the shop’s awning and grabs a drainpipe to scurry up to a thin platform on the second level. You walk up the stairs to see her carefully step across the platform and to the exposed brick that provides handholds for her to climb up and through the open window. You go up to the next level and see her sprawled face down on the floor. “Good job,” you say. “But we’ll need to work on that dismount."
It’s been several months since you brought Delilah into your home. During the day she helps you around the shop, and at night you work on developing her skills. She’s progressing rapidly, and one day you take her to the local market for a new test.
You’ve placed your old friend Bronwin in the crowd – Delilah is tasked with tailing him home without being seen. You offer the following suggestion to her.
Delilah ingratiates herself in a throng of people surrounding a fruit stand near Bronwin. As he moves through the market, Delilah swiftly transitions between stalls that afford her a good view of the target while keeping herself relatively concealed.
You signal to Bronwin, and he exits the market to a side street with little traffic. Delilah is forced to adapt. Seeing a group of children running in the correct direction, she assimilates in the back of the group and runs past Bronwin, ducking into a small alcove between the buildings to watch him pass.
He goes by. She waits for a beat, and follows silently in his footsteps. Her anticipation is growing as he moves into a residential area – they pass small dwellings with families inside sitting down for an evening meal. Delilah ducks in and around the collection of domiciles to hide herself.
Following silently, you see Bronwin enter his home with Delilah looking at him from a perch underneath a garden box in a neighboring unit. She rises as you approach, her grin spreading from ear to ear.
Delilah scales a building and in a few minutes, you see her diminutive frame silhouetted in the sun, looking down on the crowd. Bronwin is easily visible, dressed in a red tunic and tan pants. As he moves about, Delilah skirts across the buildings surrounding the market, staying close enough to easily trail Bronwin should he leave the area.
You signal to Bronwin and he heads south toward an area of the city with few tall buildings. Seeing the challenge before her, Delilah swiftly descends from her perch and follows at a close distance. Her eyes constantly bounce from one side of the street to the other looking for a place to conceal herself when she sees a covered wagon going in the same direction. She sprints toward the wagon and vaults in, peeking through the canvas to confirm Bronwin’s direction.
You follow them quietly as Bronwin turns down another street, and see Delilah quietly jump out of the cart and climb up to a second-story balcony that runs the length of the street. She waits there and watches Bronwin head to a house and let himself in.
Seeing you in the crowd, she gleefully drops down from the balcony and runs toward you, flush with the excitement of a successfully executed mission.
In the past two years you have molded Delilah from a guarded street youth into a promising young woman capable of adapting to almost any encounter. She’s recently expressed an interest in leaving your stead in pursuit of her own dreams and goals. Though you will be sad to see her go, you are proud of what the two of you accomplished together. As her final days with you approach, you present her with a gift. What do you give her?
Delilah accepts the amulet and says, “Thank you, Lanera. Thank you for taking me in, granting me a place in your home, and teaching me how to be more like you. I’ll use this amulet to protect myself and give back, as you have given so much to me.”
You embrace each other and wish her well, and with a tear in your eye you watch as she walks away from your shop to build a life of her own.
Delilah takes your hand crossbow, aims down the sights, and fires a bolt at one of the central beams in the interior of the shop. You smile, pull the bolt from the wood, and say, “Now that I won’t have your back anymore, this should help you handle yourself when a situation goes south.”
“Thanks,” Delilah says, holstering the bow under her traveling cloak, “but if I use the training you gave me I’ll never need to use it.”
“Let’s hope,” you say. You embrace each other and walk her to the door. With a tear in your eye, you watch your surrogate daughter leave your home not knowing when she will return. But you know this isn’t a goodbye – it’s a “see you soon”.