ICYMI: Forward, the Lyte Brigade Chapter 1

“Nolan Lyte would like to tell you about the Lyte Brigade.”

This Friday, I’ll be officially wrapping up Forward, the Lyte Brigade with the epilogue chapter, so now seems a pretty good time to gice you all a chance to catch up with Forward, the Lyte Brigade from the very beginning.

Forward, the Lyte Brigade
A Tale of Realmgard

J.B. Norman

Copyright 2021-2022.

The covert of "Forward, the Lyte Brigade."

Chapter 1

Nolan Lyte would like to tell you about the Lyte Brigade.

For sixty-three years, the Lyte Brigade was — in the opinion of many — the very finest adventuring guild operating out of the Free Mercantile City of Porthaven, winning a total of eighty-two awards from the Guild Authority of Porthaven.

The guild was originally founded by Nolan’s great-grandfather, Sir Theophrastus Lyte, and the Captaincy eventually passed onto his grandfather Theophilus. In a perfect world, it would have passed onto his father, then to Nolan or his siblings.

Unfortunately, the world in which Nolan finds himself living is very much imperfect.

Things started going downhill after Nolan’s grandfather lost his leg — which is to say, a Dire Marmot gnawed through his wooden leg.

Grandpa Theophilus lost his real leg in an accident years before, but he never let that stop him from leading the Brigade. Still, he decided the incident with the Dire Marmot was an omen and promptly announced his retirement.

On the plus side, the replacement leg he ordered from a woodworker in Goldharbour arrived recently, but he still isn’t any less retired.

Normally, there isn’t much of a problem when the Captain of a guild retires: the next highest-ranking member of the guild takes over, or the members of the guild vote for the new Captain, or they pull names from a hat, or appeal to have the Guild Authority appoint a new Captain.

But there’s a major problem for the Lyte Brigade. The guild is called the Lyte Brigade for a reason. The guild constitution stipulates that the Captaincy of the guild — as Nolan recalls reading in Article 1, Section A-and-a-half, Paragraph 3: “shall be held in perpetuity by a member by birth, or legitimate and recognised adoption, of the Family Lyte.”

That shouldn’t be a problem.

There are plenty of Lytes all around Porthaven and across Realmgard: Nolan has a father, two aunts, an uncle, a bunch of cousins, two brothers and four sisters, and various other assorted distant relations. The issue is that none of them want to take over the Brigade.

For example, Nolan’s father is, in his own words, “quite content to be an innkeeper, thank you very much, Nolan. Now stop loafing and scrub those pans!”

With no obvious or willing successor to the leadership of the Lyte Brigade, the Guild Authority decided to place the operations of the Brigade on indefinite hiatus. This, in turn, led to the members of the Lyte Brigade leaving for greener pastures.

In one case, literally: one former member bought a herd of cows and retired to the idyllic life of a dairy farmer.

The Lyte Brigade still exists — technically. It just exists without any leaders, members, or funds.

As the only Lyte left in Realmgard with any interest in the honour and reputation of the Brigade, Nolan has now taken it upon himself to restore the guild to its rightful place among the leading guilds in Porthaven. With the blessing of his grandfather, and the merely unspoken disapproval of his father, Nolan has set out to recruit a new generation of bold adventurers to bolster the ranks of the Lyte Brigade.

But even with the advice of his grandfather, things are progressing less well than Nolan would care to admit. For one thing, he’s only Captain on paper, and the guild he’s Captain of still only exists in theory.

Nolan has been canvassing the streets of Porthaven for the last few days and hasn’t found anyone willing to join the Brigade. Most people he’s asked have just ignored him and gone right on their merry way. A few laughed at him and told him not to quit his day job — even though this is his day job.

A few people sort of smiled at him and mumbled half-hearted apologies about not joining. Eventually, he had what he thought was a brilliant idea: going to a print shop to have a hundred posters printed to hang up around town announcing the triumphant return of the Lyte Brigade.

He had a brilliant idea. What he has now is mostly just a headache.

“Your posters are spelled wrong,” the Dwarf behind the counter of the print shop tells him.

“What?” Nolan gasps. He winces and wonders how he could have made such a stupid mistake.

“Yeah,” the Dwarf says. “That isn’t how you spell light. It should be l-i-g-h-t.”

Nolan heaves a sigh of relief. “It’s supposed to be like that,” he explains. “It’s for my guild. The Lyte Brigade.”

“Right,” the Dwarf says with a nod. “Light. That’s L-i-g-h-t.”

“No. Not light. Lyte! L-y-t-e!” Nolan protests.

“But that’s not how you spell light,” the Dwarf says.

“It’s not supposed to be light! It’s supposed to be Lyte! It’s my name,” Nolan insists.

“Well, son, I hate to tell you this, but your name is spelled wrong,” the Dwarf says.

“Just give me my posters,” Nolan mutters.

Nolan sullenly takes his stack of posters and leaves the print shop. Feeling even more deflated than usual, he sinks down onto a barrel standing outside a nearby storefront and begins to reflect on his long string of recent misfortunes.

He started his long, arduous task at the Porthaven Library, researching how the great guild Captains of the past had become so successful. The pile of books he checked out was larger than a young child, made up of several ponderous tomes about running a guild, accounting, winning friends and influencing people, advertising, and anything else that had seemed even remotely useful.

Among these was the infamous Successfulness, as She is Having Been Accomplished, a book translated — poorly — from the original Elven and which includes among its incomprehensible advice a motivational illustration of a cat with the caption: “Infant, be suspended inwardly from that location.”

Nolan promptly returned that particular book to the library, opting instead to seek the guidance of competent authors.

After weeks and weeks, and pages and pages, of research, Nolan was finally confident enough in his abilities to run a guild that he submitted all the necessary paperwork to the Guild Authority of Porthaven in order to reinstate the Lyte Brigade as a fully-sanctioned guild.

That was a colossal task in itself, but one that Nolan was able to overcome. Eventually. He still has nightmares about the great, bewildering odyssey he undertook to deliver Form 17.5-B to Room 15-C.

He thinks there was a moment when he was legally married to the Lyte Brigade due to an unfortunate clerical error, but he now has the Guild Authority’s utmost and sincerest assurances that this has since been cleared up.

An angry voice brings him out of his sorrowful introspection on the barrel. “Hey, kid!” the shopkeeper yells from the window of his store. “Get off my barrel!”

“Sorry!” Nolan calls, clinging desperately to his stack of posters as he beats a hasty retreat home.

Turning a corner, Nolan feels something collide with his legs, sending him tumbling to the ground. He instinctively puts out his hands to catch himself, launching his stack of posters into the air. They flutter to the ground like big, beige snowflakes. As Nolan recovers, he sees a short green girl sprawled on the street opposite him.

“Ow,” the green girl mutters.

“I am so sorry!” Nolan exclaims, running over to help the green girl back to her feet. “I didn’t see you —”

He manages to catch himself before he says something stupid like down there.

“— over all my posters,” he concludes. “I should have been more careful.”

“No. It’s my fault,” the green girl insists, pushing herself off the ground and brushing away the bright red hair that has fallen across her face. “I wasn’t paying attention, either. Let me help you clean up all this stuff.”

Nolan nods gratefully to the green girl and begins to gather up his lost posters. Luckily, most of them are still in good shape.

“What’s the Lit Brigade?” the green girl asks, picking up one of Nolan’s posters. “Is that your book club?”

“It’s Lyte Brigade,” Nolan explains. “It’s a guild. My guild. I’m the Captain. Nolan Lyte.”

“I’m Pela,” the green girl says. “Pela Strahlend.” She glances back down at the poster. “Hey, is your Brigade recruiting?”

Nolan nods. “If you’re interested, come by my office. All the information’s on the poster.” He points to the poster Pela is holding. “You can keep that one.”

“Why is your guild office an inn?” Pela asks, looking up from the poster.

“We only just got back up and running,” Nolan admits, deciding that honesty is the best policy towards a potential new recruit. “I, uh, I can’t afford a real office yet, so I’m running the guild out of my parents’ inn for now.”

“Is the food any good?” Pela asks.

Nolan stares blankly down at her.

“The food?” Pela repeats. “At the inn. Is it any good? Being able to get food without leaving the office is pretty convenient, and it’s a plus if the food is actually good.”

“My Dad says he makes the best fish-on-a-stick in Porthaven,” Nolan says.

“You should put that on your posters,” Pela offers. “My Dad is always telling me that the easiest way to make friends is through their stomach. Of course, he is a chef, so maybe he’s just saying that.”

Nolan can’t decide if that’s good advice, but takes it under advisement all the same.

“Anyway,” Pela concludes. “I should probably head home. I’ll think about joining your guild, though.”

Nolan’s hopes at meeting a potential recruit for the Lyte Brigade are quickly deflated once he discovers that his tumble to the ground makes it hurt to walk, and he limps home.

His humour is improved when he gets a reminder of one of the few concrete successes he has had so far.

The signpost for his family’s inn now proudly indicates that the building also houses the guild offices of the restored Lyte Brigade. Accomplishing this was a battle in itself.

Nolan’s father had not been enthused by the perceived defacement of his sign, so even when Nolan was finally allowed to make the addition, his father had insisted that Nolan use significantly smaller letters than the rest of the sign. It was still a well-earned victory.

The inn’s signpost now proudly reads:


(and Lyte Brigade Guild Offices)

Nolan limps the rest of the way to his office. Even with a hurt leg and very little else to show for it, he still swells with pride when he sits on his very own chair in his very own office, with his notarised proof of status as a Guild Authority-licensed adventurer — with a grade of Satisfactory-Plus on his Adventuring Licence Test — hanging proudly on the wall. He’s also glad to take the weight off his hurt leg.

On the other hand, his office feels an awful lot like a broom closet. Largely because it is.

“Don’t mind me, dear,” his mother says as she steps into the office-slash-broom closet. “I just need the mop.”

Getting stepped on, run over, kicked around, or otherwise physically imperilled in the streets of Porthaven is not a new experience for Pela. And it’s not usually a life-changing one. But, she reflects as she watches Nolan go, today’s mishap has the potential to be different.

This misadventure may just lead her into a life of adventure.

She looks at the Lyte Brigade poster in her hand. “Oh,” she groans. “I should have asked him if they have a height requirement!”

Pela has had her Adventuring Licence for a while now, but she hasn’t had much luck getting into a guild. Most of the guilds in Porthaven are run by big people, staffed by big people and clearly not too keen to recruit somebody her size. Pela thought she wanted to be an adventurer, but after getting nowhere after all this time, she isn’t so sure.

It’s hard enough being a Halfling. It’s especially hard when those two halves are Dwarf and Goblin, and you live in a world built for tall people. You get stepped on and run over just walking to the library, and then when you try to join a guild, it turns out You Must Be This Tall to Apply.

She just hopes these Lyte Brigade guys are different.

Pela makes her way home to a tall, narrow house tucked into a corner near the Porthaven Leatherworks.

“Mom! Dad! I’m home.”

“Welcome back!” her father calls from the kitchen, the sound of chopping momentarily interrupted.

Her mother looks up from her desk. “Hello, dear.”

Pela’s family name means “Shining” in Dwarven. According to the story it’s because her ancestors had bright, bright hair. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at her father. He’s old enough that most of his hair is grey by now and bald enough that most of it is on his face or his arms.

Pela is glad her own hair takes after her mother’s, which means she has significantly more hair on her head than her father, and less of it in general. With the same bright red hair as her mother, the family name still fits.

Pela’s mother was an adventurer in her younger days — the guilds must not have had so many height restrictions back then, Pela realises. She was still adventuring for a while after Pela was born, but not long enough that Pela can actually remember much about it. She has a few vague memories of her mother fully decked out in her adventuring gear.

After retiring, Pela’s mother began writing her memoirs, and the stories of her adventures have actually brought in more money than the actual adventures ever did.

“I ran into somebody from a new guild,” Pela explains, tactfully not mentioning that she means that literally. “He said they’re recruiting.”

“And?” her mother asks. “Are you going to apply?”

Pela sighs. “I don’t know,” she admits. “I think I need to think about it.”

“Tell me about this guild,” her mother says.

“I only met the Captain,” Pela answers. “He seemed nice. I think he might be even younger than me, though. He said the guild is called the Lyte Brigade.”

Pela watches as her mother smiles wistfully. “The Lyte Brigade,” she says. “That takes me back. It’s a shame they got disbanded after Theophilus retired, but he deserves to enjoy his retirement. I’m glad somebody’s trying to bring it back.”

“You know them?” Pela asks.

“I did a few jobs with them back in the day,” her mother answers. “They were a good bunch.”

Pela feels her hopes being buoyed. “So, if you were working with them, that means they don’t have a height requirement, right?” she asks.

“I was never a member, just a freelancer that worked with them a few times. Maybe it was different for the full members, but I never had a problem,” her mother answers.

“That’s good,” Pela answers. “But I still need to think about it first.”

“And if this guild thing doesn’t work out, I could always use a sous-chef,” her father offers.

“Thanks, Dad,” Pela says, and she mostly means it. She doesn’t think she wants to be a chef, but she’s glad he’s looking out for her.

After the epilogue chapter goes live, I’ll be compiling every chapter of Forward, the Lyte Brigade onto a story page of its own and adding that to my master list of stories.

Incidentally, that’s here and your chance to read all my stories so far:

The plan at this point is to start the next story, Charge of the Lyte Brigade next Friday, but if that plan changes, I’ll keep you posted.

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