Welp, it’s Thursday night. Which means we’re right on the threshold of a brand new chapter.
Chapter 2 of Charge of the Lyte Brigade goes live tomorrow. So now seems like a good time to remind you about Chapter 1:
Charge of the Lyte Brigade:
A Tale of Realmgard
To Natalie, the best writing teacher I’ve ever had.
Wulfbert the Handsome would like to tell you about the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace.
And Wulfbert the Handsome—the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace—is not in a good mood. He’s the leader of the baddest gang of bandits east of the Midwood.
He should be out there banditing: looting and plundering and ill-getting gains, then rolling around on top of a big pile of them. But, no. He’s spent the last week digging.
In the dirt!
This, Wulfbert decides, is utterly ridiculous. Waste of time. Waste of effort. Waste of a man of his sheer, unbridled brilliance and talent and rugged good looks. And the dirt Wulfbert is getting under his fingernails is just the worst.
He has his sister to blame for that.
Sometimes, Wulfbert can hardly believe that he is, in fact, related to his sister. Sure, they both have Wulf– names, but that’s about the only similarity.
He’s Wulfbert the Handsome, the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace.
She’s Wulfhild the Bookworm, always better with books than with swords. He’s almost convinced that their parents must have found Wulfhild in a basket left on their doorstep and decided to take her in.
But the bandits of Realmgard have always lived by a certain code of honour. Good bandits stick together, bandits who are family especially stick together. And if you can’t trust bandits, who can you trust?
Unlike his sister, Wulfbert doesn’t have any fancy university degrees. Actually, he has several, acquired during his bandit career. Of course, he’s never attended a university, and all of those degrees originally belonged to somebody else first.
But, especially when you’re a bandit — and especially especially when you’re the fiercest and best-looking bandit in Realmgard and the whole wide world of Terrace — possession is indeed nine-tenths of the law. For all the good that’s been doing him lately.
Miss “I-Graduated-from-Oxfjord-and-I-Have-a-Real-Degree” seems to think there’s something important under all this dirt, and Wulfbert grudgingly admits that she’s probably right. There are ancient ruins all over Realmgard, and Wulfhild insists on stopping at each and every one of them for a few days to dig around.
They usually find something and then usually find someone to sell it to.
However, his current optimism is fading fast as he continues to labour in the dirt like a common gopher.
When somebody starts digging up ancient ruins, that’s supposed to mean treasure: gold, silver, coins, emeralds the size of a Troll’s fist. Crowns and sceptres. Statues with jewels for eyes. Ancient swords of inconceivable power, wrought by the peerless craftsmen of elder days long forgotten to the lore of mortals.
So far, the only thing they’ve found under all this dirt is even more dirt, and all they have to show for all this work is that the hole they’re digging gets a little bigger every day. He’s going to have words with his sister if they don’t find something soon. This is, he tells himself once again, a waste of time. A waste of his talents.
And all this dirt under his fingernails!
He can only imagine how the rest of his bandits must feel about the situation. People with names like Face-Kicker Pete, Diana Daggers, and Knuckles McDougall didn’t get into banditry to spend all their time digging. He wonders if he’s about to have a mutiny or a riot on his hands.
He isn’t worried, of course. He’s Wulfbert the Handsome, the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace. He’s confident he could take on all the other bandits at once. With one hand tied behind his back.
“Somebody’s coming, Boss,” the bandits’ lookout tells him.
Wulfbert throws down his shovel and clambers out of the hole. He puts his hand on the hilt of his sword, hoping for the chance to use it. He scowls down at a formally-dressed little man with a blue badge on his lapel marked with the emblem of Porthaven.
“Sir,” the little man says, “I represent the Porthaven Ministry of Antiquities.”
That, Wulfbert can only assume, means that he works with old people.
“And,” the little man continues, “it has recently come to the attention of the Ministry that you and your —” He glances past Wulfbert to survey the gang of bandits. “— uh, associates have been digging at a site of certified historical interest. On behalf of the Ministry and the Her Serenity the Prince of Porthaven, I’ll be needing to see your permits.”
Wulfbert stares down at the little man.
“The Prince is a Her?” he asks.
“Well, yes,” the little man explains. “It’s a gender-neutral title, really. From the Elven princeps, meaning ‘leader.’ But that’s hardly important now. Which is to, ah, say — your permits, sir?”
“Don’t have any,” Wulfbert answers simply. His sword flashes in the sunlight as he pulls it from the scabbard. “I’ve got this, though.”
“Oh. That is a verylarge sword,” the little man mutters as the colour drains from his face.
“And you’re a very little man,” Wulfbert notes. “I think you can do the math.”
Wulfbert may not be much for book-learning, but he has always been partial to long division.
“We were here first. This is our dig site, and anything we find here belongs to us.”
“Rest assured, the Ministry and the Prince shall hear of this,” the little man says, indignantly puffing himself up, trying — and failing — to make himself seem imposing.
Wulfbert wordlessly hefts his sword.
“You have hereby been warned. You, uh, have three days to, um, vacate this site,” the little man stammers. “B-before the Ministry takes all necessary action to the f-f-fullest extent of the laws of Porthaven, as, uh, established by the Statutes of W-Wintermorn.”
“They’re welcome to try,” Wulfbert says. He raises his sword and takes a step forward.
“I believe our business is concluded,” the little man says, beginning to backpedal before turning and making a desperate sprint for the horizon. Wulfbert is actually rather impressed that such a little man can run so fast.
Suddenly, he finds himself in a much better mood, savouring the welcome opportunity to finally do something suitably bandity for the first time in a week.
As the little man disappears into the distance, Wulfhild emerges from her tent. “What was that about?” she asks as she moves beside him.
Wulfbert shrugs. “Some chump from the Ministry of—” He stumbles as he realises he doesn’t actually remember. He calls down to one of the bandits digging in the pit. “Hey, Jimmy, what was it?”
“Antiquities, Boss,” Jimmy the Rake calls back from the pit.
He turns back to his sister. “Antiquities. Said the Ministry was going to come back with people to make us vacate, or something.”
Wulfhild rolls her eyes. “What a nuisance,” she mutters. “Can’t be helped, I guess. Well, my dear brother, at least you’ll finally get your chance to hit something.”
Wulfbert feels a broad grin spreading across his face. “Yeah. It’s going to be great!”
Tomorrow, we meet the esteemed Sir Chiswick von Strontlebottom!
Stayed tuned for Chapter 2 tomorrow, a new chapter every Friday and some other stuff the other six days of the week.
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