Authors: Christopher Healy,Todd Harris
Tags: #Children's Books, #Action & Adventure, #Fairy Tales; Folk Tales & Myths, #Other, #Humor, #Children's eBooks, #Literature & Fiction
They were halfway finished tying up the thief when—
“This place looks amazing,” Jerica said as she stood outside the Stumpy Boarhound. “Why didn’t you take me here sooner?”
Gustav chuckled and reached for the door as Frederic and Rapunzel came up the block.
“Gustav!” Frederic called. “We’re getting married!”
“Tassels! That’s awesome!”
“Hello, friends of King Duncan!” came a cry from down the alleyway. Duncan and Snow ran up to join them. Ella and Liam were not far behind.
“Ho, there, brother!” Lila chirped, leaping down from a nearby rooftop.
“Um, hey,” said Liam. “Nice to see you all, but what’s the emergency?”
“We don’t know,” said Frederic. “None of us has been inside yet.”
Gustav opened the door, and they all stepped into the tavern.
Something was wrong. There were no shouted curses, no sounds of plates shattering over someone’s head. It was quiet. And virtually empty.
Liam looked to Ripsnard, who was spit-shining wine glasses behind the bar. The tavern keeper smiled at him warmly. “Hey, League o’ Princes,” he said.
“Where is everybody?” Liam asked.
“I kicked ’em all out,” Ripsnard replied.
“Why?” Frederic asked.
“Because I paid him to” came the reply from across the room. All heads turned toward the Official League Founding Table in the far corner, where Briar Rose sat in candlelight, tenting her fingers deviously. “It’s not like this place has a private room, so I decided to make the whole tavern private. Come, sit down. And pull up some extra chairs—there are more of you than I expected.”
The whole gang moved toward the back table. Some sat down immediately, while others, like Lila and Gustav, did so a bit more cautiously. Ella remained standing.
“Come, come, now,” Briar said. “I don’t bite. Much.” She flashed a sly grin.
“It’s okay, Ella,” said another voice. Val stepped out of a shadowy corner to stand behind Briar.
“Val,” Ella said, shocked. “How did you get involved with all this . . . whatever this is?”
“I have a new job,” Val said with pride. “I’m the princess’s bodyguard.”
“Princess.” Rapunzel repeated the word to herself. “Wow, I guess I’m going to be a princess now, too. That’s going to take a lot of getting used to.”
“You’ll fit right in at the palace,” said Frederic. “Everybody there likes turnips.”
“Maybe I can cook up a big pot of soup as a peace offering to your dad when I move in,” Rapunzel added.
“I’m a queen,” said Snow. “I can move in any direction I want.”
“And I’m a king,” said Duncan, “But I’m still King King’s son, so does that means I’m also a prince? Maybe I’m a pring. Or a—”
“Quiet,” Liam said—and everybody instantly stopped talking. “In retrospect, I am so happy I made that wish. Now, Briar, why did you summon us all here? What’s so urgent?”
“Well,” said Briar, tapping her gloved fingers on the table. “I suppose it’s not all
urgent. But, hey, it’s me—I like drama.”
“So this was all some sort of joke?” Gustav grunted.
“Oh, no, darling. I am always serious. Deadly serious,” Briar said. And then she laughed. “Just shut up and listen. I’ve learned of this beast—a colossal, hairy brute—who’s been kidnapping people and dragging them off to some old castle in Carpagia. He claims to be some sort of ‘cursed prince’ looking to retake his rightful place on the throne, but I’m not buying it. “
“And why exactly are you telling us this story?” Liam asked.
“Ha! And you call yourselves heroes,” she scoffed. “Someone needs to stop the beast. And it sounds like a job for us.”
“Us?” ten voices asked at once.
“Yes, us. The League,” Briar said. She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. “So are you in?”
Glances were exchanged around the table. There were some uneasy winces, a couple of ambivalent shrugs, a few determined nods, and one delighted giggle (but only because Duncan had spotted another funny caterpillar).
“Well?” Briar asked impatiently.
I think you can guess the response.
Thank you to Noelle, my greatest source of support in both life and art. Thank you to Bryn (a.k.a. the real Lila), the strongest, bravest girl I know. Thanks to Dash, whose own talents continue to stun and awe me every day. Thanks to my ever-present, ever-ready, and ever-helpful agent, Cheryl Pientka, and the whole crew at the Jill Grinberg Literary Agency. Thanks to my awesomely skilled editor, Jordan Brown, for trusting me, nurturing my vision, and helping me bring the Thirteen Kingdoms to life. Thanks to Kellie Celia and Debbie Kovacs at Walden Media, my guides through this crazy world of authorship since the very beginning. Thanks to Casey McIntyre and Caroline Sun at HarperCollins for getting the word out. Thanks to Amy Ryan and her crew for helping me present my stories to the world in such a beautiful package. And on that note, I must also once again thank Todd Harris for the incredible illustrations—Todd, your imagination knows no bounds.
Thanks to the trusted friends whose early input was crucial to honing this manuscript (you know who you are). Thanks to all the bloggers, booksellers, teachers, and librarians who continue to support me and my work. Thanks to all the wonderful readers who have posted online about the Hero’s Guides, recommended the series to their friends, asked their school libraries to stock the books, and even hosted Hero’s Guide–themed birthday parties (Hi, Lilly!). And a ginormous thank-you to the many friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, and kindhearted strangers who came to our aid during a time of personal crisis—you are all heroes to me.
is the author of
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom,
New York Times
selected as one of its best books of the year, calling it “charming—a quest that recalls at moments the Musketeers and at others the Marxes”; as well as its sequel,
The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle
hailed as “uproariously funny” in a starred review. He is also a reviewer of children’s media. Chris lives with his wife and two children in New Jersey. You can find him online at www.christopherhealy.com.
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THE HERO’S GUIDES
Cover art © 2014 by Todd Harris
Title lettering by David Coulson
Cover design by Amy Ryan
Walden Pond Press is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Walden Pond Press and the skipping stone logo are trademarks and registered trademarks of Walden Media, LLC.
THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW
Text copyright © 2014 by Christopher Healy
Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Todd Harris
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins ebooks.
ISBN 978-0-06-211848-6 (trade bdg.)
EPub Edition © APRIL 2014 ISBN: 9780062118509
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