Last week, Pela and Melisa bandited the bandits. This week, the bandits bandit back.
Copyright J.B. Norman
“Wulfbert!” he hears his sister call.
“What is it?” he asks, sticking his head into Wulfhild’s tent.
She points frantically to the table in the centre of the tent, which he recalls being much less empty the last time he looked.
“Somebody robbed us!” Wulfhild cries. She storms over to a gaping tear ripped into the back wall of the tent. “Somebody snuck into our tent and robbed us!”
So, this is how it feels to be stolen from, Wulfbert realises. He decides he doesn’t particularly like it.
But Wulfbert is, above all, a bandit—the fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace, in fact.
Rather than feeling empathy for those who have suffered from his previous misdeeds, he mostly feels anger over whoever has made him suffer from this current misdeed.
“And worst of all,” Wulfhild continues. “Look what else they did! They tore down my Oxfjord poster!”
She holds up the limp, shredded remains of a poster that had once borne the proud image of a bull falling off a seaside cliff.
“It was probably whoever the Ministry of Antiquities hired.” She balls her hands into fists. “I just know they’re working with the University of Porthaven. I bet the University put them up to this!”
“That’s not really a big deal, Wulfhild,” Wulfbert says.
“I graduated from Oxfjord,” she reminds him, as she is fond of doing at least three times a day. “This is an insult to me and the finest university in Realmgard! I won’t stand for this! Not from a joke of a university like Porthaven! We are going to find whoever did this, and we are going to—”
“Get our loot back?” Wulfbert offers.
“Yeah,” Wulfhild agrees, recomposing herself. “But mostly, whatever else we do, we’re going to get even.”
The siblings are interrupted by one of the other bandits running into the tent.
“Someone’s coming, Boss!” he declares breathlessly.
“It’s them,” Wulfhild growls. “It has to be.”
“Finally!” Wulfbert exclaims. “I’ve been waiting for this!”
As it happens, the Lyte Brigade’s grand entrance into the bandits’ camp was rather less grand than Tancred had hoped. Instead of gallantly charging down the hill into the camp and sweeping the bandits away like a righteous wave, they took the time to carefully secure the artifacts Pela and Melisa had rescued from the bandits’ camp in a safe hiding place before simply marching right up the bandits and asking for a meeting with their leader.
Which, Tancred supposes, still does require a certain level of confidence and daring.
Waiting for the appearance of the bandits’ leader, the members of the Lyte Brigade have lined up on either side of Melisa. Across from them, the bandits are lined up in anticipation of their own leader. Eventually, he steps out of one of the tents, revealing himself to be a large man with shaggy blond hair and armour sculpted to further exaggerate his already impressive physique.
“We’re outnumbered, Captain,” Tancred whispers to Nolan, raising his shield to prevent the bandits from reading his lips.
“Yeah,” Nolan notes.
“Any particular strategy in mind?” Tancred asks.
“…No,” Nolan admits. “Maybe just stick together and watch each other’s backs?”
“Right. Not a terrible idea,” Tancred answers.
Melisa takes a step forward, causing the bandits to reach for their weapons, which in turn causes the members of the Lyte Brigade to reach for their weapons.
“My name is Melisa Grevling,” she announces. “And I—”
“Have the privilege of talking to Wulfbert the Handsome,” the bandit interrupts. “The fiercest and best-looking bandit in not just all Realmgard, but the whole wide world of Terrace.”
Melisa looks thoroughly unimpressed.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” Wulfbert continues. “You must be from the Ministry of—”
“Antiquities, Boss!” one of the other bandits tells him.
“—Antiquities,” Wulfbert concludes. “But I never thought they’d send a raccoon after me. Too bad there’s no trash here for you to dig through. Just lots of dirt.”
Melisa clenches her hands into tight fists, but is so far able to restrain herself from doing what Tancred can only assume would be all sorts of painful things to the bandit.
“You and your bandits are illegally occupying a site of historical interest to the Ministry,” she tells Wulfbert. “But, of course, you already knew that. I want you to leave.”
“And how do you think you’re going to make that happen, Professor Raccoon?” Wulfbert asks.
“You tell me. I’m open to working out a deal,” Melisa answers.
“Two million,” Wulfbert declares.
“Two… million?” Melisa repeats.
“Marks,” Wulfbert explains. “Pay us that and you can have your ruins back. We’ll even let you keep the things you stole from us.”
“We didn’t steal anything!” Pela interjects. “We saved it from you!”
“You’ve got a big mouth for such a little girl,” Wulfbert tells her. He looks over his shoulder to address one of the other bandits. “Hey, Knuckles, you think I could kick her all the way over that hill?”
“I’m looking forward to finding out,” the other bandit says with a cruel grin.
As a gentleman of breeding and a true knight, Tancred refuses to allow one of his guildmates to be the subject of such vile talk. “You should look forward to a proper thrashing, you cad!” he calls to the bandit, interposing himself between Pela and the bandits.
“I’m not a cat!” the bandit—lacking either good hearing, good vocabulary, or good sense—calls back to Tancred. “I’m a person!”
“Whoa,” Melisa declares. “We can still work this out. We don’t have to fight over this.”
“Maybe,” Wulfbert admits, hefting his sword. “But fighting is just so much more fun.”
He grins wickedly.
“Besides, I’ve always wanted a raccoon hat.”
Wulfbert raises his sword. As it comes screaming down, Nolan leaps forward, catching Wulfbert’s sword on his own and pushing it back.
“She’s a badger,” he says.
“Wow,” Matilda says watching her brother intercept the bandit leader’s sword. “I didn’t think he had it in him.”
To be fair, neither did Nolan.
“Lyte Brigade,” he says as he locks swords with Wulfbert. “Move out!”
The Lyte Brigade leaps into action. The bandits leap into action.
And the battle begins.
I cannot for the life of me remember if that “And the battle begins” is at all inspired by the “And the battle’s begun” from Winged Hussars…
Either way, it’s a great song.
And, well, the battle has well and truly begun, so come back next week to see how it’ll play out.
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