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Authors: Lisa McMann

Island of Shipwrecks

BOOK: Island of Shipwrecks
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Contents

Prologue: Under the Sea

In Tatters

East of the Sun

Aaron Loses Someone Important

Meghan Gets Mad

A Painful Truth

The Pieces Begin to Come Together

Island Number Five

Aaron Grows Desperate

The Return of the General

A Potential Alliance

Shipwrecked

Home Again

Sean Shares a Secret

Aaron Strikes a Deal

Island of Shipwrecks

Copper Steps Up

Aaron Tries to Rile Up a Crowd

Underwater Exploration

Scavengers

The Strange Figure

Another Tube

Trying Not to Panic

Liam Does the Dirty Work

Ms. Morning Stands Her Ground

Liam Finally Finds a Friend

Aaron Builds a Machine

The Wall Comes Down

The Tube

The Art of Rebuilding

A Second Chance

Henry Helps Out

The Glowing Seaweed

Aaron Strikes Oil

Slowly but Surely

Aaron Ventures Out

Aaron Scores

The War Room

A Messy Escape

A Reckless Parting Gift

To the Rescue

Doubts Arise

A Return to the Office Desk

A Mansion and a Jungle

Calm Seas

A Strange Message

Ominous Island Six

A New Discovery

In the Middle of the Night

Preparing for a Civil War

Gondoleery Makes a Move

Home at Long Last

The General's Vendetta

Aaron in Trouble

The Queen of Ice

Another Shipwreck

In an Icy Land

Tough Answers

A Confession

Sisters

Heartbreak and Loss

Element-ary

On the Island of Shipwrecks

Broken Souls

Acknowledgments

About Lisa McMann

For Liliana

Prologue: Under the Sea

W
hat did he look like?” growled the old pirate captain with hooks for hands. He slammed one of the hooks on the table in front of the slave, and it made a garish clang. “Who is responsible?”

Daxel said nothing. He couldn't speak. None of the slaves that the pirates had bought from their friend Queen Eagala could speak.

But Daxel could write, and the pirates knew it. Still, he stared at the map and the blank pieces of paper in front of him and shook his head.

The captain struck Daxel with one of his hook hands, leaving a ghastly white, jagged cut in the slave's forehead. Daxel cringed and recoiled. A second or two later, the gash turned red and blood began to drip from it, down his cheek and onto his tattered shirt.

Another pirate, who'd been standing at the glass wall staring out at the broken, now-empty aquarium, turned swiftly and picked up the map. He shook it in the slave's face and slapped it down on the table. “Where did they come from? An island? Or the outside?”

Daxel closed his eyes. He could feel his forehead pulsing, and resisted the urge to wipe away the blood—not that he could reach his face, since his wrists were chained to the arms of the chair. There was only enough slack to reach the pen and paper on the table in front of him.
The pirates can hurt me all they want,
he vowed. He would never betray his friend Copper.

Out of nowhere came a blunt slam above his ear. Daxel gripped the arms of the chair and wished for enough slack in the chains to strangle all the pirates.

He tried to block out their growly noises, and fielded blows
for a very long time, until he was faint with pain and loss of blood. But he wouldn't give the pirates what they wanted.

It was only when the hook-handed captain bent down near Daxel's face, close enough for the slave to smell his rancid breath and hear his wicked, whispered threat, that Daxel's orange eyes opened and pooled with fear.

The captain straightened and barked out an order: “Bring the others in here!”

Daxel's breathing grew shallow as all but the captain and one other pirate stormed out of the room. He watched them go, his hands shaking, chains rattling. Agonizing minutes passed until the pirates returned, each gripping two Warbler slaves by the arms. The pirates lined up the silent workers shoulder to shoulder in front of Daxel, and they held daggers to their hearts and cutlasses to their necks. The faces of the youngest slaves showed the most fear as they stared with pleading eyes at the man who held their fate in his hands.

Determination drained from Daxel's fighting spirit. The captain returned to his side and tapped the map and the papers in front of him. “This is your last chance to answer our questions,” he said. “Or do you want us to hurt your friends?”

Some of the Warblerans stood stoically, but others couldn't mask their terror.

Daxel struggled to breathe. Sweat mingled with the blood on his forehead.
I'm so sorry,
he said in his mind, like a prayer. He was left with no choice.

The rattle of the chain when he reached for the pen was startling in the silent room. Stalling for time, even though he knew no one could or would save him and the other slaves, he studied the map. Seven small islands in a slightly inverted V-shape, and a large hunk of land to the west of them.

The captain poked his hook into the slave's back. “You have five seconds before one of them becomes food for the eels,” he said. He pointed to the youngest slave, whose eyes widened in terror.

Daxel's heart pounded and his head swam. When he leaned forward, a drop of blood splattered on the table. He could hardly hear the captain's countdown for the rushing sound in his ears. There was a shuffle of feet across the room as a pirate prepared to take the first victim.

Daxel gripped the pen in his sweaty hand, touched it to the map, and slowly drew a circle around the middle island,
which the strangers who rescued Copper had spoken about.

The captain spoke softly in the slave's ear. “There,” he crooned. “That wasn't so hard, now was it?”

Daxel refused to react.

The captain straightened up. He strolled to the glass wall and gazed out. “Now all we need in order to let your friends go back to work is a little description of the leader responsible for
this disaster
.” He pointed a hook at the empty aquarium, and his face took on a horrible, pained expression. “Years and years of searching and collecting . . . and so. Much. Money,” he said, tapping the glass with each word. “All of it, gone.” He shook his head. “We might not be able to afford to feed the slaves anymore. If they live, that is.”

Daxel stared at the blank paper.

The captain sighed loudly. “Come on now, Daxel. Do we really have to go through the countdown again?” He moved lithely to the slave's side once more. “I'm so impatient. It's not likely I'll give you any warning this time.”

The slave sucked in a breath. Sweat and blood stung his eyes. He gripped the pen and began to draw. A jawline. A swath of hair. A face.

“That's more like it,” said the captain, leaning over the slave, watching intently as features began to emerge. “You have such talent,” he said in mock praise.

Daxel drew and drew, knowing his life, and the lives of the slaves before him, depended on it.
Forgive me, friend.

When he finished, he set the pen down, his gaze never straying from the drawing. Two fresh, innocent eyes bore into his soul.

The captain deftly slid the paper between his hooks and studied it. And then he began to chuckle. Softly at first, and then the chuckle rolled and crescendoed into a deep, hearty, sinister belt of laughter. He showed the drawing to his pirate companions and they began to laugh too.

When the captain could breathe, he hooked a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped his face with it. As he put it away, he declared, “This will most certainly be the easiest attack in our thousand-year history, comrades. For the dreaded man we seek? He's nothing but a boy!”

In Tatters

W
hen Alex opened his eyes, he saw a blurry image of Fox standing before him on the deck of the Unwanteds' pirate ship. Kitten stood on Fox's head, mewing at the top of her voice. The sound grew distant and then faded altogether, and the young mage's lids drooped once more.

Fox stepped on Alex's thigh and licked his face, trying to get the boy's eyes to stay open. Kitten pointed over the bow with one tiny paw, still mewing.

Alex groaned. He was soaking wet and his entire body ached. His arms were tangled in rope, and he couldn't pull free.
And Fox's driftwood tongue was harsh on his skin. He lifted his head to move away from it and squinted in the sunlight. The world swam before his eyes.

“Mewmewmew!” cried the tiny porcelain kitten. Alex didn't have a clue what she was saying.

Fox began loosening the knots that held Alex to the ship's bow. He paused to translate, “Kitten is wondering if you are okay. She considers you to be one of her very, very special friends, and—”

“I'm okay,” Alex interrupted. He coughed. Salt water burned his throat and nose. Fox worked at the knots with his teeth, and soon one of Alex's arms was free. Fox moved to the next, and when that one came loose, Alex plunged forward and put his hands out to catch himself.

BOOK: Island of Shipwrecks
9.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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