The outcasts, p.1
The Outcasts, p.1Part #1 of Brotherband Chronicles series by John Flanagan
Table of Contents
ALSO BY JOHN FLANAGAN
A division of Penguin Young Readers Group. Published by The Penguin Group.
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South Africa. Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.
Copyright © 2011 by John Flanagan. Illustration copyright © 2011 by David Elliot.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54539-3
ALSO BY JOHN FLANAGAN
The Ranger’s Apprentice Epic
Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
Book 2: The Burning Bridge
Book 3: The Icebound Land
Book 4: The Battle for Skandia
Book 5: The Sorcerer of the North
Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw
Book 7: Erak’s Ransom
Book 8: The Kings of Clonmel
Book 9: Halt’s Peril
Book 10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
The Lost Stories
Dedicated to our own Brotherband, Max, Konan, Alex and Henry
A Few Sailing Terms Explained
Because this book involves sailing ships, I thought it might be useful to explain a few of the nautical terms found in the story.
Be reassured that I haven’t gone overboard (to keep up the nautical allusion) with technical details in the book, and even if you’re not familiar with sailing, I’m sure you’ll understand what’s going on. But a certain amount of sailing terminology is necessary for the story to feel realistic.
So, here we go, in no particular order:
Bow: The front of the ship, also called the prow.
Stern: The rear of the ship.
Port and starboard: The left and the right side of the ship, as you’re facing the bow. In fact, I’m probably incorrect in using the term port. The early term for port was larboard, but I thought we’d all get confused if I used that.
Starboard is a corruption of “steering board” (or steering side). The steering oar was always placed on the right-hand side of the ship at the stern.
Consequently, when a ship came into port it would moor with the left side against the jetty, to avoid damage to the steering oar. One theory says the word derived from the ship’s being in port—left side to the jetty. I suspect, however, that it might have come from the fact that the entry port, by which crew and passengers boarded, was also always on the left side.
How do you remember which side is which? Easy. Port and left both have four letters.
Forward: Toward the bow.
Aft: Toward the stern.
Fore-and-aft rig: A sail plan in which the sail is in line with the hull of the ship.
Hull: The body of the ship.
Keel: The spine of the ship.
Steering oar: The blade used to control the ship’s direction, mounted on the starboard side of the ship, at the stern.
Tiller: The handle for the steering oar.
Beam: The side of the ship. If the wind is abeam, it is coming from the side, at a right angle to the ship’s keel.
Yardarm, or yard: A spar (wooden pole) that is hoisted up the mast, carrying the sail.
Masthead: The top of the mast.
Bulwark: The part of the ship’s side above the deck.
Gunwale: The upper part of the ship’s rail.
Belaying pins: Wooden pins used to fasten rope.
Oarlock, or rowlock: Pegs that hold an oar in place.
Telltale: A pennant that indicates the wind’s direction.
Tacking: To tack is to change direction from one side to the other, passing through the eye of the wind.
If the wind is from the north and you want to sail northeast, you would perform one tack so that you are heading northeast, and you would continue to sail on that tack for as long as you need.
However, if the wind is from the north and you want to sail due north, you would have to do so in a series of short tacks, going back and forth on a zigzag course, crossing through the wind each time, and slowly making ground to the north. This is a process known as beating into the wind.
Wearing: When a ship tacks, it turns into the wind to change direction. When it wears, it turns away from the wind, traveling in a much larger arc, with the wind in the sail, driving the ship around throughout the maneuver. Wearing was a safer way than tacking.
Reach, or reaching: When the wind is from the side of the ship, the ship is sailing on a reach, or reaching.
Running: When the wind is from the stern, the ship is running. (So would you if the wind was strong enough at your back.)
Reef: To gather in part of the sail and bundle it against the yardarm to reduce the sail area. This is done in high winds to protect the sail and the mast.
Trim: To adjust the sail to the most efficient angle.
Halyard: A rope used to haul the yard up the mast. (Haul-yard, get it?)
Stay: A heavy rope that supports the mast. The backstay and the forestay are heavy ropes running from the top of the mast to the stern and the bow (it’s pretty obvious which is which).
Sheets and shrouds: Many people think these are sails, which is a logical assumption. But in fact, they’re ropes. Shrouds are thick ropes that run from the top of the mast to the side of the ship,
Way: The motion of the ship. If a ship is under way, it is moving according to its course. If it is making leeway, the ship is moving downwind so it loses ground or goes off course.
Back water: To row a reverse stroke.
So, now that you know all you need to know about sailing terms, welcome aboard the world of the Brotherband Chronicles!
Twelve years prior …
Wolfwind emerged from the predawn sea mist like a wraith, slowly taking physical form.
With her sail furled and the yardarm lowered to the deck, and propelled by only four of her oars, the wolfship glided slowly toward the beach. The four rowers wielded their oars carefully, raising them only a few centimeters from the water at the end of each stroke so that the noise of drops splashing back into the sea was kept to a minimum. They were Erak’s most experienced oarsmen and they were used to the task of approaching an enemy coast stealthily.
And during raiding season, all coasts were enemy coasts.
Such was their skill that the loudest sound was the lap-lap-lap of small ripples along the wooden hull. In the bow, Svengal and two other crew members crouched fully armed, peering ahead to catch sight of the dim line where the water met the beach.
The lack of surf might make their approach easier but a little extra noise would have been welcome, Svengal thought. Plus white water would have made the line of the beach easier to spot in the dimness. Then he saw the beach and held up his hand, fist clenched.
Far astern, at the steering oar, Erak watched his second in command as he revealed five fingers, then four, then three as he measured off the distance to the sand.
Erak spoke the words in a conversational tone, unlike the bellow he usually employed to pass orders. In the center section of the wolfship, his bosun, Mikkel, relayed the orders. The four oars lifted out of the water as one, rising quickly to the vertical so that any excess water would fall into the ship and not into the sea, where it would make more noise. A few seconds later, the prow of the ship grated softly against the sand. Erak felt the vibrations of the gentle contact with the shore through the deck beneath his feet.
Svengal and his two companions vaulted over the bow, landing catlike on the wet sand. Two of them moved up the beach, fanning out to scan the country on either side, ready to give warning of any possible ambush. Svengal took the small beach anchor that another sailor lowered to him. He stepped twenty paces up the beach, strained against the anchor rope to bring it tight and drove the shovel-shaped fluke into the firm sand.
Wolfwind, secured by the bow, slewed a little to one side under the pressure of the gentle breeze.
The two men who had gone onshore called their reports now. There was no need for further stealth. Svengal checked his own area of responsibility, then added his report to theirs.
On board, Erak nodded with satisfaction. He hadn’t expected any sort of armed reception on the beach but it always paid to make sure. That was why he had been such a successful raider over the years—and why he had lost so few of his crewmen.
“All right,” he said, lifting his shield from the bulwark and hefting it onto his left arm. “Let’s go.”
He quickly strode the length of the wolfship to the bow, where a boarding ladder had been placed over the side. Shoving his heavy battleax through the leather sling on his belt, he climbed easily over the bulwark and down to the beach. His crewmen followed, forming up behind him. There was no need for orders. They had all done this before, many times.
Svengal joined him.
“No sign of anyone here, chief,” he reported.
Erak grunted. “Neither should there be. They should all be busy at Alty Bosky.”
He pronounced the name in his usual way—careless of the finer points of Iberian pronunciation. The town in question was actually Alto Bosque, a relatively unimportant market town some ten kilometers to the south, built on the high, wooded hill from which it derived its name.
The previous day, seven of his crew had taken the skiff and landed there, carrying out a lightning raid on the market before they retreated to the coast. Alto Bosque had no garrison and a rider from the town had been sent to Santa Sebilla, where a small force of militia was maintained. Erak’s plan was to draw the garrison away to Alto Bosque while he and his men plundered Santa Sebilla unhindered.
Santa Sebilla was a small town, too. Probably smaller than Alto Bosque. But, over the years, it had gained an enviable reputation for the quality of the jewelry that was designed and crafted there. As time went on, more and more artisans and designers were drawn to Santa Sebilla and it became a center for fine design and craftsmanship in gold and precious stones.
Erak, like most Skandians, cared little for fine design and craftsmanship. But he cared a lot about gold and he knew there was a disproportionate amount of it in Santa Sebilla—far more than would normally be found in a small town such as this. The community of artists and designers needed generous supplies of the raw materials in which they worked—gold and silver and gemstones. Erak was a fervent believer in the principle of redistribution of wealth, as long as a great amount of it was redistributed in his direction, so he had planned this raid in detail for some weeks.
He checked behind him. The anchor watch of four men were standing by the bow of Wolfwind, guarding it while the main party went inland. He nodded, satisfied that everything was ready.
“Send your scouts ahead,” he told Svengal. The second in command gestured to the two men to go ahead of the main raiding party.
The beach rose gradually to a low line of scrubby bushes and trees. The scouts ran to this line, surveyed the country beyond, then beckoned the main party forward. The ground was flat here, but some kilometers inland, a range of low hills rose from the plain. The first rose-colored rays of the sun were beginning to show about the peaks. They were behind schedule, Erak thought. He had wanted to reach the town before sunup, while people were still drowsy and longing for their beds, as yet reluctant to accept the challenges of a new day.
“Let’s pace it up,” he said tersely and the group settled into a steady jog behind him, moving in two columns. The scouts continued to range some fifty meters in advance of the raiding party. Erak could already see that there was nowhere a substantial party of armed men could remain hidden. Still, it did no harm to be sure.
Waved forward by the scouts, they crested a low rise and there, before them, stood Santa Sebilla.
The buildings were made of clay bricks, finished in whitewash. Later in the day, under the hot Iberian sun, they would glisten and gleam an almost blinding white. In the predawn light they looked dull and gray and mundane. The town had been built with no particular plan in mind, instead growing over the years so that houses and warehouses were placed wherever their owners chose to build them. The result was a chaotic mass of winding alleys, outlying buildings and twisting, formless streets. But Erak ignored the jumble of houses and shops. He was looking for the repository—a large building set to one side of the town, where the gold and jewels were stored.
And there it was. Larger than the others, with a substantial brass-bound wooden door. Normally, Erak knew, there would be a guard in place. But it seemed his diversion had achieved the result he wanted and the local militia were absent. The only possible resistance could come from a small castle set on a cliff a kilometer away from the town itself. There would possibly be armed men there. But the castle was the home of a minor Iberian n
They headed for the repository. As they passed a side street, a sleepy townsman emerged, leading a donkey loaded with what seemed to be an impossibly heavy stack of firewood. For a few seconds, head down and still half asleep, the man failed to notice the force of grim-faced, armed sea wolves. Then his eyes snapped open, his jaw followed suit and he froze in place, staring at them. From the corner of his eye, Erak saw two of his men start to detach from the main body. But the firewood seller could do them little harm.
“Leave him,” he ordered and the men dropped back into line.
Galvanized by the sound of Erak’s voice, the man dropped the donkey’s halter and took off back into the narrow alleyway from which he had emerged. They heard the soft sound of his bare feet flapping on the hard earth as he put as much distance between himself and the raiders as he could.
“Get that door open,” Erak ordered.
Mikkel and Thorn stepped forward. Mikkel, whose preferred weapon was a sword, borrowed an ax from one of the other sea wolves and together, he and Thorn attacked the heavy door. They were Erak’s two most reliable warriors, and he nodded appreciatively at the economy of effort with which they reduced the door to matchwood, placing alternate ax strokes precisely where they would do the most good, each building on the damage the other had caused. The two men were best friends. They always fought together in the shield wall, each trusting the other to protect his back and sides. Yet they were a contrast in body shapes. Mikkel was taller and leaner than the average Skandian. But he was powerful and hard muscled. And he had the reflexes of a cat.
The Outcasts by John Flanagan / Fantasy / Young Adult / Actions & Adventure have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes