The caldera, p.1
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       The Caldera, p.1
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           John Flanagan
The Caldera

  Also by John Flanagan


  Book 1: The Outcasts

  Book 2: The Invaders

  Book 3: The Hunters

  Book 4: Slaves of Socorro

  Book 5: Scorpion Mountain

  Book 6: The Ghostfaces


  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

  Book 11: The Lost Stories

  Book 12: The Royal Ranger


  Book 1: The Tournament at Gorlan

  Book 2: The Battle of Hackham Heath


  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

  Copyright © 2017 by John Flanagan.

  Published in Australia by Penguin Random House Australia in 2017.

  Heron illustration © 2011 by David Elliot. Map copyright © Mathematics and Anna Warren.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  Philomel Books is a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.

  Ebook ISBN: 9780698174498

  U.S. edition edited by Michael Green.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



  Also by John Flanagan

  Title Page


  A Few Sailing Terms Explained


  chapter two

  chapter three

  chapter four

  chapter five

  chapter six

  chapter seven

  chapter eight

  chapter nine

  chapter ten

  PART TWO: THE DAN chapter eleven

  chapter twelve

  chapter thirteen

  chapter fourteen

  chapter fifteen

  chapter sixteen

  chapter seventeen

  chapter eighteen

  chapter nineteen

  chapter twenty

  chapter twenty-one

  chapter twenty-two

  chapter twenty-three

  PART THREE: THE CALDERA chapter twenty-four

  chapter twenty-five

  chapter twenty-six

  chapter twenty-seven

  chapter twenty-eight

  chapter twenty-nine

  chapter thirty

  chapter thirty-one

  chapter thirty-two

  chapter thirty-three

  chapter thirty-four

  chapter thirty-five

  chapter thirty-six

  chapter thirty-seven

  chapter thirty-eight

  chapter thirty-nine

  chapter forty

  chapter forty-one

  chapter forty-two


  Ranger’s Apprentice: The Beast from Another Time

  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.

  Stem: The upright timber piece at the bow, joining the two sides together.

  Forefoot: The lowest point of the bow, where the keel and the stem of the ship meet.

  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.

  Sea anchor: A method of slowing a ship’s downwind drift, often by use of a canvas drogue—a long, conical tube of canvas closed at one end and held open at the other—or two spars lashed together in a cross. The sea anchor is streamed from the bow and the resultant drag slows the ship’s movement through the water.

  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.

  Scuppers: Drain holes in the bulwarks set at deck level to allow water that comes on board to drain away.

  Belaying pins: Wooden pins used to fasten rope.

  Oarlock, or rowlock: Pegs set on either side of an oar to keep it in place while rowing.

  Thwart: A seat.

  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 of changing direction for wolfships than beating into the wind.

  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, supporting the mast. Sheets are the ropes used to control, or trim, the sail—to haul it in and out according to the wind strength and direction. In an emergency, the order might be given to “let fly the sheets!” The sheets would be released, letting the sail loose and bringing the ship to a halt. (If you were to let fly the sheets, you’d probably fall out of bed.)

  Hawser: Heavy rope used to moor a 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.

  Lee: The downwind side of a ship, opposite to the direction of the wind.

  Lee shore: A shoreline downwind of the ship, with the wind blowing the ship toward the shore—a dangerous situation for a sailing ship.

  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!

  John Flanagan




  The heavy-set man came at Stig with a rush.

  His arms were held out ahead of him as if ready for an embrace, his fingers curled and ready to grip. He was taller than Stig, and perhaps twelve kilograms heavier. His chest and upper body were thickly muscled. Stig could see a light sheen of oil covering his arms, and he had time to think that this was not quite in the spirit of the contest.

  He braced himself, and their two bodies came together with a solid WHUMP of flesh meeting flesh. If his attacker had hoped to drive the wind out of Stig with the impact, his aim was thwarted. The young warrior had tensed his muscles ready for the hit. He stepped back half a pace, but otherwise remained steady.

  Let him come to you, Thorn had told him. See what he’s got before you start.

  What he had was not particularly skillful or unexpected. He wrapped his arms around Stig’s waist in a clumsy bear hug and, beginning to lean back, attempted to lift him off the ground so that he could apply pressure to the kidneys and lungs as Stig hung helpless in his embrace.

  But Stig wasn’t ready to be helpless—and he’d watched the man use this very tactic in a previous bout. As he felt the man’s arms wrap around him, and was drawn in tight against him, Stig rammed his right hand, palm open, under the man’s chin, locking his elbow tightly in a right angle and supporting his right arm with his left hand. The arm formed a rigid, unyielding barrier against the man’s attempts to lift Stig’s feet off the sand of the arena. In effect, as long as Stig could keep his right arm locked, the man was trying to lift himself off the ground along with his opponent.

  The larger man grunted with the effort, trying to twist his chin away from Stig’s iron grip. But Stig maintained the pressure and his opponent was caught in a stalemate. The more he heaved and strained, the more he exhausted himself. Yet he lacked the imagination or speed of thought to change the tactic. It had always worked for him before. It should work for him now.

  Except, in previous bouts, his opponents hadn’t been ready for the hold. And if they were, they had no effective counter to it.

  The man tried to gather his strength for one last, superhuman effort to lift his rock-steady opponent off the ground. As he did so, he inadvertently released the pressure of his bear hug, expecting to resume it with even greater force. But Stig felt the momentary easing of pressure. In fact, he’d been expecting it. As the grip around his waist weakened, he released his hold on the other man’s chin and spun in his grip so that his back was to him. He rammed his backside into the man’s lower body to gain a little room, felt the hug release even further, then hurled himself backward, taking his opponent with him as they crashed to the sand, Stig on top, the force of the fall driving the breath from the bigger man’s lungs with an explosive gasp.

  The man’s grip released as he struggled for air, and Stig swiftly rolled clear and leapt to his feet, crouching, hands held out ahead of him, arms bent in a classic wrestler’s pose.

  For a second, he considered hurling himself onto the other man to pin him. But he could see it wasn’t quite time for that yet. There was one fall in these bouts and he knew he had to pick his time exactly for the ploy to be successful. If he went too early, he risked the heavier man throwing him off and pinning Stig in his turn. He had to be properly incapacitated before Stig could risk coming to close quarters on the ground.

  Slowly, the other man came to his feet, eyeing Stig warily. So far, this bout hadn’t gone anywhere like the way he had planned it. The younger, slimmer man was virtually unscathed. He had countered his most effective move easily, then sent him crashing to the sand in a rib-bruising fall.

  For a few seconds, they faced each other. Then, as if by some prearranged signal, they hurled themselves at each other. Stig took a firm grip of the man’s shirt around the shoulders and shoved mightily against him.

  Instinctively, his opponent returned the shove, and in that instant, Stig gave way before him, stepping back with his left foot and dragging the other man after him. In the same movement, he brought his right foot up into the man’s stomach and rolled backward. His opponent followed him, still propelled by the momentum of his return shove against Stig. Stig, his back curved, fell smoothly to the sand, his hands gripping the other man’s shirt and his right foot buried in his stomach, knee bent.

  As he rolled backward, Stig straightened his right knee in a violent movement, bringing his left leg up to assist the right in thrusting his opponent high into the air above him. At the same time, he maintained his grip on the shirt, so that as Stig’s legs propelled his opponent through an arc overhead, his hands kept his upper body from following. At the last moment, Stig released his grip, and the other man flipped in the air, soared several meters and crashed heavily onto his back. Again, there was that explosive whump of expelled air, as the recently regained breath was driven out once more.

  Stig rolled onto his hands and knees and sprang to his feet like a cat. This time, he realized that the other man was totally winded, after suffering two heavy impacts in quick succession. His opponent gagged and gasped as he struggled to fill his lungs with air, but before he could manage an inward breath, Stig pounced on him, lying across his upper body and pinning him to the ground.

  The bout’s referee, who had been watching with keen interest, fell to his hands and knees to check the man’s shoulders, saw they were flat to the sand and slammed his hand down rapidly twice.

  “One! Two! Pinned!” he yelled.

  Stig drew back, coming to his knees, then his feet, and leaned down to offer his opponent a hand.

  “Bad luck, Oren
,” he said as the other man came to his feet, still breathing heavily.

  Oren shook his head ruefully. “Bad luck nothing,” he said. “You were too quick for me. Too quick and too smart.”

  Stig shrugged. “Not sure about smart.”

  Oren wiped the sand from his face with the back of his hand. “Well, you beat me fair and square,” he said, not sounding overly pleased with the fact. “That puts you in the lead, doesn’t it?”

  They were competing in the Maktig competition, the annual contest to crown the Maktig, or the Mighty One, in a series of physical contests. There were two events to go—a foot race over five kilometers, which Stig was favored to win, and a mock combat, where he was ranked second or first, depending on which wager-master you were laying a bet with. The fact was, Stig hadn’t been expected to win the final leg of the wrestling event. Oren was bigger, heavier and stronger than he was. The unexpected win put Stig in an almost unassailable position. If he won the foot race, as everyone expected, the result of the mock combat would be immaterial. He was almost certain to come in second or third in that event and that would be enough for him to maintain his lead.

  “I think it does,” Stig agreed.

  Oren nodded several times. “Well, good luck. At least then I can say I was beaten by the winner. That’s something.”

  He raised a hand in farewell and turned away, limping slightly as the bruised and strained muscles in his back made themselves felt.

  Stig felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see the smiling face of his best friend and brotherband leader, Hal.

  “Well done,” Hal told him.

  Stig grinned. He knew how important it had been that he should win the wrestling, against all expectations.

  “Oh, it was nothing,” he said lightly, then, seeing Thorn’s bearded face over Hal’s shoulder, he let the grin fade.

  “Thanks for the tip about the rigid right elbow, Thorn,” he said. “That caught him by surprise.”

  Thorn shrugged. “It shouldn’t have. He’s been using that bear hug throughout the tournament. He should have guessed someone would come up with a counter to it.”

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