You know, maybe it’s a better idea to post my obligatory Thursday reminders about my previous chapter and the upcoming Friday chapters early on Thursday so I don’t forget until there’s only 53 seconds before it’s Friday…
With that in mind, remember to read Charge of the Lyte Brigade Chapter 5 before Chapter 6 goes live tomorrow.
Copyright J.B. Norman
Wulfbert the Handsome watches the Porthaven road, his fingers drumming restlessly on the hilt of his sword. As the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace, he’s always spoiling for a fight. Now, though, he’s especially spoiling for whatever fight Porthaven’s Ministry of Digging Up Old Stuff is going to send his way.
He’s prepared to be disappointed.
He doesn’t imagine that a bunch of dweebs who spend their entire life behind desks are going to put up much of a fight—what are they going to do, throw pens at him? He’ll almost feel sorry for them when he beats them up, stacks them like cordwood and steals all their wallets.
Wulfbert chuckles to himself at the thought. It’ll be fun. Not as fun as a proper fight against a worthy opponent, but definitely more fun that digging around in the dirt.
At least their luck is starting to turn where the digging is concerned. After a week spent digging up nothing more than another layer of dirt to then be dug up, Wulfbert and his bandits are finally starting to find things. Nothing amazing. No solid gold statues, no giant jewels, just a handful of old coins, bits of mosaic tiles, old buckles, and brooches.
But they’re all things that Wulfhild is confident they’ll be able to sell to someone.
He still doesn’t quite get it, but Wulfhild has assured him that there’s a market for this sort of thing. He doesn’t quite get why, either. Rusty old belt buckles that smell like thousands of years’ worth of wet dirt are not the kind of thing he’d ever want to spend money on. Clearly, there are too many people in Realmgard with too much money willing to pay a king’s ransom for old bits of junk just because they’re old, and not even because they’re shiny—it’s hard to be shiny when you’ve spent eight thousand years covered in dirt.
Wulfbert decides that he doesn’t care. People can part with their money doing whatever they please. Ideally, being robbed by Wulfbert and his bandits—but that’s neither here nor there. If they really want to pay him for bits of old junk, who is he to refuse? It doesn’t feel properly bandity to him, but as long as it ends with him getting paid, he supposes it doesn’t really matter.
Wulfhild has been cataloguing and organising everything the bandits have dug up so far. The table in the centre of her tent is now covered in a growing layer of what she would call artifacts, but that Wulfbert would more accurately describe as junk.
“So,” he asks. “Anything good yet?”
Wulfhild looks up from her work. She peers at her brother through the magnifying glass in her hand, the lens briefly turning her into a cyclops with one huge eye—and that eye is positively shining with glee.
“Are you kidding?” Wulfhild exclaims. “This is great!”
“Uh huh,” Wulfbert says sceptically, glancing down at the dug-up junk littering the table.
Wulfhild sets down her magnifying glass and begins excitedly introducing Wulfbert to her collection of junk. Just like she did when they were kids and she is showing off her latest collection of stamps, or coins, or old opera posters.
“Just look at all this!” she tells him. “Like this! Look at this!” She picks up a hunk of carved rock. “This was the capital of column,” she eagerly explains to him. “Look at the carvings. This pattern is only found at sites from the Late-Middle Major Realmgardic 2-A period!”
“And that’s a good thing?” Wulfbert asks.
“It’s a great thing!” Wulfhild continues. “There’s never been a site from that period found in this part of Realmgard before! Do you know what that means, Wulfbert?”
Wulfbert decides to hazard a guess. “It’s valuable?”
“It’s priceless!” Wulfhild says. “People will be stepping all over each other for a chance to own a piece of history like this.” She grins broadly. “And we’ll be able to name whatever price we want!”
“Really? A piece of rock?” Wulfbert asks in sheer disbelief.
“Column. Capital,” Wulfhild corrects him. “You know, like the top of a pillar?” She rolls her eyes and heaves a heavy, exasperated sigh.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Just trust me on this. Leave the history to me, and I’ll leave the digging and the fighting to you. You know, teamwork.”
Wulfbert gives a noncommittal nod.
“Speaking of,” Wulfhild continues, “any sign of the people the Ministry was going to send after us?”
“Nothing yet,” Wulfbert answers
“Well, you know what to do until they show up, brother dear,” Wulfhild says, clapping him on the shoulder.
“Digging,” Wulfbert replies.
“Digging,” Wulfhild agrees.
He’s glad that he and the bandits are about to get a truly massive payday for themselves. But that doesn’t change the fact that he still hates digging. He just hopes those poor saps from Porthaven get here soon, because he really, really needs to hit something right about now.
And, of course, come back tomorrow for the next chapter.
But, also, a reminder that I’m involved in another Fiction-Atlas giveaway that runs until November 6:
If that link under the image is proving too much trouble to actually click, you can also get the giveaway page here.
Also also, follow me: