The outcasts, p.34
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       The Outcasts, p.34

         Part #1 of Brotherband Chronicles series by John Flanagan

  “If the wind’s from starboard,” Stig pointed out, “we’ll need to use the port yard. And we haven’t repaired it. Do we have time to do that?”

  Hal considered briefly, then came to a decision. “Transfer the starboard yard to the port side,” he said. “We’ll repair the port yard when we’re down the coast. We need to get away from here first.”

  He looked around the group.

  “Stefan, Ingvar, you come with me and we’ll get the supplies. Thorn, you go fetch your money from Erak’s treasure room and meet us back at Mam’s storehouse. The rest of you, pick up your kit from the barracks tent—sleeping gear, clothes, tools, extra weapons, any personal items you’ve got. Get ours as well—and don’t forget my crossbow. Then get to the boat. Stig, shift the starboard yard and sail to the port side.”

  He paused, wondering if there was anything he’d left out. He couldn’t think of anything, but he’d probably remember something once they were under way. He looked at Stig, grinning.

  “Any ‘small details’ I might have forgotten?” he asked and his friend grinned in return.

  “You mean aside from how we’re going to find Zavac?” he said. “I don’t think so.”

  chapter forty-four

  Erak was supervising the loading of stores into Wolf wind when Tursgud approached him.

  “Oberjarl? I wonder if I could have a word with you?”

  Erak regarded him. At the best of times, he had a strong dislike for Tursgud. And this was far from the best of times.

  “You appear to be doing that already,” he pointed out coldly, and Tursgud smiled, determined to maintain a feeling of good fellowship.

  “Well, yes. But I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you.”

  “For what?” Erak asked, then turned away to berate a seaman lifting a net of clay jars onto the ship. “Careful there! Those things are breakable, you ham-fisted idiot!” He turned back to Tursgud. “For what?” he repeated.

  “For reinstating my team as the champion brotherband,” Tursgud told him. “We’re all grateful to you.”

  “Reinstating you? I don’t recall that we reinstated you. I recall that you lost and then the team that beat you was disbanded.”

  Tursgud shrugged. “Yes, well, same thing really. Everyone knows they fluked the win—that we were the rightful winners.”

  “Everyone knows that, do they? Not there, you fool! Farther astern to distribute the weight!”

  “Sorry, Oberjarl!” came the cry from another offending sailor.

  “I mean, I can’t say I’m surprised that they let you down so badly. To have the Andomal stolen like that, right from under their noses …” Tursgud stopped, as if words had failed him.

  Erak turned an unfriendly eye on him.

  “Try not to be too thrilled about that, would you?”

  Tursgud hurriedly composed his face and said, in a more serious manner, “Anyway, we wanted to volunteer to join you when you go after the Magyaran ship.”

  “Who wanted to volunteer?”

  “My men. The Sharks’ brotherband. The champions.” Tursgud drew himself up proudly as he said the name. But Erak was already shaking his head.

  “I’ve got a crew,” he said flatly.

  Tursgud hesitated, taking that in. Then he tried another tack.

  “Well then, perhaps I could join your crew?” he said.

  “No. I don’t think so,” Erak told him. But then he was distracted by the sound of someone calling his name. He looked up to see one of the town watch running along the beach toward him.

  “Oberjarl! Oberjarl!”

  As the man came closer, he slowed to a trot, then pulled up in front of Erak, sucking in lungfuls of the frigid air. His breath came in clouds of steam as he panted.

  “Something wrong?” Erak asked.

  “They’ve gone!” the man said. “All of them!”

  “All of who?” Erak asked and the man, still panting heavily, waved a vague hand in the general direction of the brotherband training ground, high in the hills above the town.

  “The team … the brotherband. The Herons,” he said.

  Tursgud stepped forward and gripped the man’s jacket.

  “Gone? Gone where?” he demanded. The man looked at him, an expression of distaste on his face, then reached up and detached Tursgud’s hand from his lapel.

  “Keep your hands to yourself, boy,” he said. Then he turned back to Erak.

  “I checked the shrine, and then their barracks. Their bedding and equipment is all gone. They’re gone.”

  “Stop saying that!” Tursgud shouted, his voice cracking. “Where have they gone?”

  “They’ve gone to get the Andomal back,” said a new voice. They turned to see Karina standing a few meters away. She had a sheet of paper in her hand. She held it up now.

  “Hal left me a note. Said there was nothing here for them now so they were going to get the Andomal back to make things right.”

  “Ha!” The derisive sound exploded from Tursgud. “As if they could!”

  Karina turned a withering glare upon him and Erak placed a heavy hand on his shoulders, gripping the muscles and tendons there until Tursgud winced and shifted with the pain.

  “One day,” Erak told him, “you’ll learn to keep your mouth shut. Let me know when that happens, will you?” He shoved Tursgud away from him. For a moment the boy debated whether to try to regain Erak’s favor. Then he decided against it and walked away.

  Karina waited till he was gone, then said in a low voice, “You were too hard on them, Erak. You left them no hope.”

  “They let down the whole town, Karina. The whole country, in fact.”

  But she wouldn’t have it. “They made a mistake, that’s all. They’re only boys.”

  Now Erak was shaking his head at her. “They’re not boys anymore, Karina. That’s the whole point of the brotherband program. They’re qualified now as warriors.”

  “All the same—,” she began, but a cry from the watchtower interrupted her.

  “Sail! Sail to the east!”

  They looked in the direction he was pointing. They could just make out a tiny, triangular sail, emerging from behind Bearclaw Headland and speeding away from the coast.

  “It’s the Heron!” the lookout cried in surprise. There was no mistaking that sail shape. Most of those present surged up onto the harbor mole for a better view. Erak and Karina followed more slowly.

  Erak stopped, shading his eyes and looking after the rapidly receding white triangle.

  “Well done, boys,” he said in a low voice. “May Ullr guide you.” Ullr was the god of hunters. He looked back at Karina now and said, not unkindly, “This was their only chance for any sort of life.”

  She frowned at him. “You knew they’d do this?”

  He smiled sadly at her. “Why do you think I gave them until ten o’clock to hand in their weapons?”

  He turned to look back to the southeast, but a large squall was sweeping across the sea and the Heron was lost from sight.

  Click here for more books by this author


  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



  John Flanagan, The Outcasts

  (Series: Brotherband Chronicles # 1)




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