For the first time ever, the six members of the newly-reinstated Lyte Brigade are all seated at the same table. Five pairs of eyes settle expectantly on Nolan. “Ladies and, uh gentle —” he falters as he glances towards Tancred. “- man. I hereby call to order the first official meeting of the Lyte Brigade.”
“Hear, hear!” Tancred exclaims eagerly. The other members of the guild don’t seem quite so excited, though they at least humour Nolan with polite applause.
“I for one, am —” Amara begins, before becoming distracted by the sight of Tancred’s new hat. “Powers, Sir Tancred!” she exclaims. “What is on your head? It looks like an exploded peacock.”
“That somebody tried to glue back together with too much glitter glue,” Pela adds.
“And then stitched onto that hat,” Matilda continues. “Only now it’s starting to fall off.”
“It’s making me dizzy,” Nolan says.
“You don’t like it?” Tancred asks.
“I like it,” Falcata offers. “We do not have hats like that back home.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Mother you don’t share her tastes in fashion,” Tancred says, removing his hat and stowing it under the table. “She was quite insistent that I had to look my best for my new companions.”
“This is your best?” Matilda asks in disbelief. “Then what does your worst look like?”
Tancred shrugs. “I’m told this colour combination is in style. Personally, I’ve never much cared for fashion. Unfortunately, Mother has always cared rather more than could be considered healthy.”
“Hey, Nolan,” Matilda interjects, as Tancred breathes an inward sigh of relief at escaping further scorn over his outfit. “You said we had to vote for the Assistant Captain.”
She looks around the table. “Are we ready? Good. I vote for me.”
She raises her hand.
“I also vote for Matilda,” Falcata declares, raising her own hand.
“I vote for Miss Amara,” Tancred declares.
“What?” Matilda asks.
“What?” Amara asks.
“What?” Tancred asks defensively, seeing the indignant looks on his guildmates’ faces. “What kind of vote only has one choice? And as I happen to be acquainted with Miss Amara already, she’s really the only one I can nominate in good conscience.”
“I am flattered, Sir Tancred,” Amara admits. “But it’s clear that Matilda has her heart set on this. It would be churlish of me to get in the way. I vote for Matilda.”
“Yeah, sure. Me too,” Pela says.
“I’m not supposed to get a vote,” Nolan says. “Which makes it four votes for Matilda and one for Amara. That means Matilda is our Assistant Captain. Sorry, Amara.”
“I’m sure Matilda will do us proud,” Amara says graciously.
“This means I get paid more, right?” Matilda asks.
“No. It doesn’t mean that,” Nolan tells his sister.
Matilda groans. “Why are you only telling me this now, Nolan?” she asks.
“You never asked me about it,” Nolan notes.
“Whatever,” Matilda mutters. “What do we do now?”
“That’s a good question,” Nolan says. He chuckles nervously. “I didn’t really plan this far ahead.”
“We get jobs from the Guild Authority, right? Well, how do we do that?” Matilda asks.
“We go to the Guild Authority,” Nolan answers. “There’s a notice board by the front desk where people post requests for the guilds.”
“Well then, let us away,” Amara suggests.
However, none of the members of the Lyte Brigade move. This is still a novel experience for each of them, and no one has the confidence to be the one to make the first move in their new guild’s very first meeting. Instead, they are all content to allow an awkward silence to fall over the group.
“Hey, Falcata?” Pela asks to break the silence. “Can I feel your muscles?”
Falcata stares bemusedly at Pela.
“I’ve never met someone so muscly before,” Pela explains. “I’m curious.”
Falcata sighs and extend her arm towards Pela, who begins to gleefully poke and prod and squeeze and be generally in awe of Falcata’s arm.
“Wow,” Pela gasps. “It’s like an oak branch.”
With a blush visible even beneath her tan, Falcata turns to the other members of the Lyte Brigade. “Would anyone else like to feel my muscles?” she asks wearily. “Do it now, because you will not get another chance.”
Matilda slowly raises her hand.
“Oh, don’t pretend you’re not curious,” she tells the others. “Look at her! Her muscles have muscles!”
Falcata sighs again and extends her other arm towards Matilda.
“That won’t be necessary,” Amara assures Falcata. “While I must admit that your arms are quite impressive, we’ve only just met. It wouldn’t be proper to get quite so familiar.”
That does nothing to diminish Pela and Matilda’s fascination with Falcata’s arms.
“Besides,” Amara continues. “If I’m ever possessed to paw at somebody’s biceps, I’m sure Katherine will oblige me.”
“I figured it out!” Nolan exclaims suddenly. He clears his throat and regains his composure. “About what we should do first. There’s somewhere I think we should go first. Follow me,” he declares.
“Where are we going?” Pela asks. “Is this our first quest?”
“No,” Nolan says. “I just think there’s someone who’s going to want to meet us.”
“Well,” Tancred says, pushing himself up from the table. “Let us be off, shall we?”
He is halfway to the door before the others have a chance to follow.
“Sir Tancred, wait!” Amara calls. “You forgot your hat!”
“I suppose I did,” Tancred answers over his shoulder. “Oh well. Truly a shame. There’s nothing for it now, I suppose.”
He bolts through the door, down the street, around the corner, and out of sight before any of his guildmates can say anything more.
After catching up with Tancred, Nolan leads the others to a small, unassuming house, out of the way in a quiet part of the city where a man can live out his retirement in peace.
The house only has one floor, with no stairs to vex an old man with a wooden leg.
“This is my grandfather’s house,” Nolan tells the others as they stand in front of the door.
“Is he looking to hire us?” Tancred asks.
“No. He was the last Captain of the original Lyte Brigade,” Nolan explains. “He helped me when I started working to get it started back up. I thought we should show him what the new Lyte Brigade looks like. It’s probably the best thing I can do to thank him.”
“That is a lovely thought, Nolan,” Amara says.
“What are you waiting for?” Pela asks. “Hurry up and knock on the door.”
Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Nolan approaches the door of his grandfather’s house and knocks on the door. On the other side of the door, he can hear the stomping of his grandfather’s wooden leg on the floorboards drawing nearer.
“Nolan,” his grandfather says as he pulls open the door. “I wasn’t expecting you.”
Theophilus is old enough to have fairly earned his happy retirement several times over by now. Despite his age, he still possesses the impressive strength, keen mind, and swift reflexes honed by a lifetime of adventure.
Finding himself with more free time than ever before, he has finally shaved his previously long, wild beard to a much more manageable length. Now, it merely covers his face, rather than falling nearly to his belt.
“So,” Nolan begins weakly. “How’s Grandma?”
“She’s just fine, Nolan. Winter’s coming, you know. So she’s been knitting up a storm. But you didn’t come all the way over here just to ask that, did you?”
“Just tell him already, Nolan,” Matilda urges.
“Tell me what, Nolan? And I see you’ve made some new friends,” Theophilus says.
“I, uh —” Nolan stammers. “Thought I should, uh, say that, that is to say…”
He starts to falter, until Matilda jabs him with her elbow. He yelps, jumps, takes another breath to steady himself again, clears his throat and meets his grandfather’s eye.
“I did it. The Lyte Brigade is back.”
Theophilus smiles at him. “I never expected anything less,” he says.
“So, uh, this is everyone,” Nolan says, waving the others forward. “Matilda joined, too. And this is Falcata, Tancred, Amara, and Pela.”
He turns towards his guildmates.
“And, everybody, this is Theophilus Lyte, the former Captain of the Lyte Brigade.”
The other members of the Lyte Brigade smile and wave at Nolan’s grandfather.
“They look like a good bunch,” Theophilus says. “I’m looking forward to hearing all about your adventures. Make me proud, Captain Lyte,” his grandfather says.
“Thank you,” Nolan says. “Captain Lyte.”
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