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Iron Tide Rising
By Carrie Ryan
By John Parke Davis
Formats and Prices
- ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
- Hardcover $17.99 $23.49 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 13, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Intrepid travelers Fin and Marrill have shared countless thrilling and treacherous adventures on the magical waters of the Pirate Stream. But neither could have expected that their final adventure would force them to team up with their oldest enemy: the evil wizard Serth! With the fate of the Stream and all their friends hanging in the balance, can they challenge the most frightening power they’ve ever come up against? Find out in this mind-blowing conclusion to the Map to Everywhere series!
HEDGECAW’S INDEX OF ORACULAR IMPLEMENTS
A GUIDE TO THE MANY THINGS REFERENCED IN THE MERESSIAN PROPHECY,
Collected and Protected by the Most Vigilant Meressian Order
GUARD AGAINST IT AND PREVENT IT
Vol. III: Verses 180–495
Brine Butterfly (1), in a jar: Recovered from two of our own so-called guards just after the sinking of our Temple Ship at the Khaznot Quay. This butterfly, and an untimely sniffle, allowed a mysterious and unknown thief to slip aboard.
Verse 199, lines 1–2: The Master of Thieves, he needs no keys / just wings of salt, and simple sneeze…
Clock of Scarabs: Clock of a thousand hands, recovered from the Abandoned City of Avoraquorum, deep in the caverns beneath Flight-of-Thorns Citadel. The eyeless men of the caves speak of a time when all the Clock’s hands lined up at once, and of the Great Pealing that forced them out into the dark.
Verse 200, lines 4–5: …whence the beetle’s chime did sound / through towers tall, built underground…
Shame of the Veiled Emperor: Bottled. WARNING: Do not mock.
Verse 201, lines 14–15: …his pride laid low, like starlight that sours / with a rustle of silk and the scent of dead flowers…
Wickless Candle, Made from Mysterious Wax: Little is known about this artifact, save that it has melted and reformed more than once already.
Verse 202, lines 3–5: Let the unlit light, my way illuminate / to the web of mirrors, to the space beyond the Gate / with a candle unburnt, the token of She-Who-Waits.
Candied Hearts of Yesterday: Sold on chains in the Calendar Delta, where the locals hunt wild days in a revolving bayou. Not as edible as one would think. This particular chain was wrapped around the wickless candle.
Verse 202, lines 6–8: Let yesterday’s hearts, my path divine / that I might see the depth of time / and with a coat of sugar, they taste just fine!
The Evershear: The legendary blade of Sir Emvigle of the Collapsing Court, enchanted so that there is nothing through which it cannot cut. Found lodged in the side of a serpent the size of a mountain. (or is it a mountain that crawls like a serpent?).
Verse 203, lines 9–12: Far beyond the Whimpering Lake / The serpent of many sizes wakes / There he sheds his epic Scale / A trade for a blade that never fails.
A Rocky Start
Marrill… Marrill, honey…”
Marrill blinked twice at the morning light filtering in through the half-drawn blinds. Her mother’s voice wrapped around her like a blanket, holding her warm and tight. The scent of distant rain was on the breeze, but as far as she could see, the clouds had passed; outside her window, the day was fresh and bright.
“Mom?” she whispered.
“Shhh,” her mother murmured in her ear. Gentle arms cradled her. One hand stroked her hair. No plastic tubes snaked from the back of that hand; no hospital monitor beeped beside them. Her mother’s face smiled down, strong, healthy.
Marrill sank into the embrace. “Oh, Mom, I’m so glad you’re here.” Words tumbled out as her mother rocked her slowly back and forth. “I stayed on the Pirate Stream to save you, but everything just went wrong. We lost our friend Coll, and Fin’s mother died, and Ardent—”
“I know, Petal,” her mother cooed. She rocked her more strongly now, back and forth, back and forth. “But it’s okay. It’s all better now.”
Marrill smiled. Her mom always did make things better. No matter how badly things went, her mom was so calm, so strong. So brave. Everything Marrill wished she could be, but wasn’t.
“Look,” her mother whispered. “Isn’t the ocean beautiful?”
Marrill looked across the endless expanse of sea that spread out on every side. Her bedroom rested on a stone spire. Other than the one wall beside them with its cozy window, the whole thing was open—there was nothing but air between them and the sunrise-painted water.
Her mother rocked her harder now. So hard, it seemed like the whole stone spire was swaying. Back and forth, back and forth. The water grew closer then farther away, closer, farther. Fear welled up inside Marrill, but she bit it back. As long as she had her mother, she would be safe.
“Mom?” she asked. “Are we going to fall?”
Her mother laughed. “Only if you don’t let go first, Marrill. Only if you don’t let go.”
Something wasn’t right, Marrill could feel it. She looked up. An iron mask loomed over them, so huge it nearly filled the sky, the sun just a halo behind it. A sharp-fingered gauntlet rocked the whole room back and forth, furiously now.
Metal spread from the hand, running down the wall toward them. The spire pitched, plummeted. Marrill screamed, holding on to her mother for dear life.
“LET GO!” a booming voice commanded.
“Marrill, let go!” Fin gasped. Marrill’s eyes popped open. He was leaning over her, face going red as she tugged on his collar. She let go.
Next thing she knew, Marrill was sprawled on the floor of her cabin as the Enterprising Kraken lurched beneath them. The cabin had changed again during the night. Its walls were as blue as the sky, in imitation of her dream, but the shimmering-water image beneath her sloshed violently with the motion of the ship.
“What’s going on?” she muttered, still shaking away the gap between dream and reality. The floor tilted bedward, sending her tumbling beneath it. Her cat, Karnelius, was braced there with claws anchored in the wood. He glared at her as she slid past, his one eye narrowed to a slit.
Fin leapt smoothly from bedside to bed to other bedside, bobbing with the rise and fall of the ship. “That’s what I was waking you up for,” he said. He hopped up on the bed and back down again, rubbing his throat. “Hey, did you know you strangle in your sleep?”
Marrill caught a bedpost as the ship tilted and she began to slide again. She clung to it for a second, letting reality filter back in. She was on the Kraken. She and Fin and the rest of the crew were on the trail of the wizard Ardent—transformed now into the Master of the Iron Ship. They had to find out why he’d unleashed the Iron Tide to menace the Pirate Stream.
And more importantly, how to stop it.
She gripped the bedpost tight as the ship shifted, then hauled herself to her feet. “Sorry,” she said. “I was having a bit of a weird dream.”
Fin grabbed her hand and yanked her toward the door. “Well, shake it off. We’ve got a weird reality to deal with!”
Marrill laughed as she chased after him to the great spiral staircase that ran up the middle of the Kraken. They bounced from side to side as they passed the Door-Way with its thousand glistening knobs; even the Promenade Deck made an appearance before vanishing off to some other ship (as it often did). For a moment it felt like old times—she and Fin having adventures on the magical waters of the Pirate Stream, traipsing between all worlds in creation.
Still, Marrill couldn’t forget the dream.
She’d been thinking about her mother more and more since the events on Meres. Her mother’s face, her mother’s warmth, her mother’s voice, always knowing what to do. A pang of emptiness lanced through her.
She would have given anything for her mother to be here. The Stream had turned into a scary place now that Coll and Ardent were gone. The Master of the Iron Ship was out there, somewhere, spreading the Iron Tide wherever he went. Somewhere else, the living fire known as the Salt Sand King would burn anything that hadn’t been turned to metal. And his unstoppable army, the Rise, would conquer anyone who got in the way.
“Ready?” Fin asked as they reached the main hatch.
Marrill took a deep breath. Her dreams would have to wait. At least until they dealt with… whatever was happening now. “Ready,” she said.
And with that, they exploded onto the main deck. Just as the prow of a boat the size of a skyscraper crashed toward the Kraken.
“Tack, tack!” screamed Remy’s voice from above. Marrill’s babysitter-turned-captain waved like a madwoman from the quarterdeck, ship’s wheel spinning between her hands. The Kraken surfed to one side, slipping around the massive vessel like a cheetah darting around an elephant.
Marrill tumbled into the starboard railing. As quick as she hit, she was back on her feet, knees loose the way Coll, their former captain, had taught her. By now she was used to rough rides. It would take more than a sharp turn to throw her.
“Look who deigns to show up,” grunted a crusty old voice nearby. Marrill looked over to see the Naysayer, all four arms tangled in ropes, pulling and straining as the ship turned. He thrust one of the lines at her. “Take this. It’s against my principles to work this hard before breakfast. Or after breakfast. Or at all.”
Marrill snagged the line. “Wake, wake!” Remy cried. The first wave coming off the other ship hit them square in the side. The Kraken rolled.
Marrill clung to the rope as her feet left the deck. Suddenly, the railing was below her. Her insides turned. A loose bucket of prollycrabs tumbled over the ship’s edge, bursting into a flock of white birds as it struck the magical water of the Pirate Stream.
“Awwwww, breakfast!” the Naysayer wailed. “Now what am I workin’ for?”
The ship righted, spun, tumbled the other way as the next wave hit. This time, they took it at an angle, keeping the Kraken steady. Marrill quickly tied the rope around her waist, staggering from side to side, moving back and forth like a pendulum in a clock.
Just as she regained her feet, another huge ship plowed into view. There were more, she realized. Many more. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of enormous ships all around them. Sails so large they nearly blocked out the sky. Hulls so massive that the tips of the Kraken’s masts barely reached the bottom of their deck railings.
The Kraken was racing through the middle of a giant fleet, darting back and forth between the oncoming ships like a mouse in a stampede of rhinoceroses. The mammoth ships churned the water into a roiling froth. The Kraken lurched and rolled, struggling to stay upright.
Marrill’s feet skidded across the deck, the line around her waist pulling tight and swinging her out over the port railing as the ship tilted. Two others swung out with her on their own ropes: Fin to one side, and a girl she didn’t recognize to the other.
“Well, this is fun,” Fin said, raising his voice to be heard over the rush of the wind.
“This is what it’s like when the full force of the Rise attacks,” said the girl as the Kraken tilted back the other way. “I don’t see them, though, so thaaaAAAAaaaa…”
They all shrieked as the ship rolled up on its starboard side. A wall of floating wood thundered past; the Kraken narrowly avoided smashing into the enormous hull.
“…at’s good,” the girl finished. “I’m Fig, by the way. I’m Fade; you’ve met me, probably a hundred times by now.” She smiled.
Marrill smiled back. She didn’t remember the girl at all. But that was the thing about the Fade—no one remembered them. Fin’s people were the perfect spies; attention slid off them, and their faces vanished from memory after a few minutes. Not long ago Fin had spurred his people into a rebellion against their heartless twins, the Rise. It hadn’t exactly ended well, but it made sense that at least one of the Fade would still be around.
“Nice to…” Marrill paused as the Kraken lurched back, dodging another big ship. “Mee…
“…eet you?” she finished.
“We have to steady ourselves!” Remy yelled from the quarterdeck. “I can’t stay the course if we keep listing like this!”
Marrill looked around, trying to find something, anything, to help. The only reason they hadn’t toppled over yet was because the Naysayer had anchored himself in the middle of the ship, and his huge bulk was enough to counterbalance everyone else’s weight.…
“Counterbalance,” she said aloud.
“Marrill, what are you ta…”
“…lking about?” Fin asked.
Marrill laughed. That was the answer. “We need a counterbalance to stay upright and keep from capsizing,” she told him. “And we already have one. Naysayer! Run to the opposite side when we swing!”
“Oh, sure,” the big lizard shouted back. “You guys just hang out, and leave it to the ole Naysayer to fix everything. Ya lazy…”
Marrill didn’t hear the rest over her own yell. But this time, just as they reached the end of their swing, the ship caught itself.
She looked across the deck. The Naysayer clung to the opposite railing, almost above them. For all his grumping, the old beast had actually done it!
“It’s working!” Remy shouted as the ship began to right itself. “Keep going!”
“And wear out my knees like a sucker?” the Naysayer said. “Forget you, lady.” Just as they started to swing back, he let go of the railing, throwing himself in the air. “Cannonball!”
Marrill, Fin, and the forgettable girl—Fig?—swung to starboard just as the Naysayer swung to port. Then back again. Then back again. Each time, the Kraken tilted less and less, slowly stabilizing. They were like swings on a playground, their arcs completely opposite each other.
As they fell into a rhythm, Marrill got a chance to examine the big ships thundering past. They were enormous; she had to crane her neck just to glimpse the lowest decks. People and creatures and plantimals and things she didn’t know how to describe crowded against the portholes and outside railings. Every crash of the massive hulls against the water sent shock waves across the Kraken, tossing her like a toy in a bathtub.
The sight alone was dizzying. The smells were like an out-of-tune orchestra, spices tangling with the heady fragrance of overripe fruit and the odor of so many bodies cramped together.
But more arresting than anything else was the sound. People chattering and creatures chittering, voices babbling in panic as they leaned over the railings, staring back at the horizon behind them. It was that panic that puzzled Marrill. She tried to figure out what could cause so many giant ships to crowd the Pirate Stream, with seemingly no regard for the poor Kraken.
“It looks like they’re running from something,” she shouted. She looked to Fin. “Maybe we should get…”
They reached the peak of their swing. For a long moment, they hung motionless in the air.
Her lips formed automatically
Fortunately, the Kraken rocked back before the wizard’s name came out. Marrill bit her tongue as they swooped down over the deck, her eyes catching the closed door to what had once been Ardent’s cabin.
She braced against the twisting daggers of sorrow and betrayal that stabbed her heart every time she thought of him. Sorrow for losing him; sorrow for what he had lost: his love, the wizard Annalessa. Betrayal at what he had done—what he had become—because of his grief.
She couldn’t wallow in the feeling, though, or it would paralyze her. The Ardent she knew was gone, she reminded herself as they neared the peak of their backswing. Even so, she couldn’t quite bring herself to name their new companion, either.
“…the wizard?” she finished,
the words dangling
in the moment
Fin spun as he swung back to starboard. “He doesn’t seem much like the helping sort,” he called over his shoulder to her.
Overhead, tackle squealed as the Ropebone Man—the Kraken’s living rigging—shifted and moved. He tightened the lines that stretched from him in all directions, while the many-legged pirats scampered along the yards, adjusting the sails. The Kraken turned, taking advantage of a break in the onslaught to veer wide.
“Almost through,” Remy shouted, tension lacing her voice. “I think we can skirt around the rest of these big ones.”
Marrill’s swinging slowed as the Kraken steadied into her new course. Her feet skipped lightly, tripped slightly, then gained purchase on the deck. She pulled loose the knot at her waist, dropping the rope and running with the last of her momentum to the port railing.
The remaining enormous ships smashed through the waves toward them, but the Kraken was fast; there was plenty of room to slip around them. Up ahead, the big ships thinned out into smaller ones at the edge of the fleet. Beyond them were calmer waters the Kraken could handle with ease.
Marrill’s breath caught. “Look!” she shouted, pointing. A ship smaller than the Kraken had gotten ahead of itself. It must have been sucked in by the wake of the remaining massive ships; it was caught between two of them, clearly struggling to turn and escape.
She gripped the rail, feeling the wood grain press into her skin. The little ship was about to get smashed to pieces, like a nut in a nutcracker.
“It’s not going to make it,” a girl Marrill didn’t recognize whispered beside her. She sucked in a sharp breath. “They’re caught in the recirculation.”
Marrill felt ill. “Remy!” she cried. “Turn in! We have to help them!”
“You’re crazy,” the captain replied calmly.
Fin leaned dangerously far over the port railing beside her. “Remy, Marrill’s right,” he said. “That’s not just any ship.” He pointed to the black flag flapping from the tip of the mast.
Marrill hadn’t noticed it before, but now that she did, she recognized the ship instantly. After all, she’d seen a flag like that before, on a ship shaped just like this one. Twice, in fact. Once had been the Black Dragon, the ship that nearly destroyed the Pirate Stream. Then again on the Dragon’s smaller replacement, the Purple Serpent. She and Remy had hitched a ride on it after a flood of Stream water had picked up their car from an Arizona parking lot and turned it into a fish.
This ship was even smaller yet, but in nearly every other respect, it was identical.
Marrill spun toward Fin. He looked back at her with the same tense concern in his eyes.
“Stavik,” they said as one.
Fin leapt onto the railing, eyes wide as the two gargantuan ships tilted toward each other with no regard for the smaller boat between them. In a few moments, she’d be crushed to timbers, and any survivors would go straight into the Pirate Stream. The magical waters might change them into monsters, or memories, or a million other things he could think of, and a million he couldn’t. But whatever they became, one thing was for sure: If they went into the Stream, they wouldn’t be “survivors” anymore.
Stavik and his crew would be killed.
They had to do something. Stavik had been the most important adult in Fin’s life growing up aside from his adopted parents, the Parsnickles, the Pirate King had been a mentor and a role model, albeit one with a penchant for thievery, and Fin loved him for it.
Now, Fin only knew one thing: Whoever he was, he was the opposite of Vell. And that meant there was no way he was going to let Stavik get squished.
“Quick,” he yelled to Remy, “we have to go in after them! We have to save them!”
She gave him a sad look. “I wish we could, Plus One,” she called back, using the only name that she knew him by: the other kid on the ship—Marrill plus one. “I want to save them, but I don’t see how. If we get between those two ships, we’ll just end up crushed as well.”
Fin exhaled. His shoulders fell. She was right. But he couldn’t give up. “There has to be a way.”
“Welp,” the Naysayer grunted, “ya could just ram ’em a quarter tilt off their bow, pushin’ ’em around and out the recycle while still maintaining enough momentum to carry us clear of the collision area.”
As one, Fin, Marrill, and Fig turned and stared at the old lizard. Fin could practically hear Remy’s jaw drop.
“Course ya could just stand there gaping like your brains fell out; that’s fine, too,” the Naysayer sneered. He casually tied off the three ropes he’d been holding and lurched toward the hold. “Anyone needs me, I’ll be downstairs cobblin’ together a life raft.”
Fin looked back at the struggling ship, mentally mapping out the Naysayer’s plan. “I think it’ll work,” he breathed. He bounded up the stairs to the quarterdeck without missing a beat. “I think it’ll work!” he yelled to Remy.
“Hmm, maybe.” Worry creased the older girl’s forehead. “I can get us in, probably fast enough to get us out again. Probably,” she stressed. “But it’ll be hard to line up unless they know what we’re doing.”
Fin glanced toward the floundering ship. She was too far away to hear them, too far away to catch a signal. He’d have to have wings to reach her in time. His fingers twisted in the strings on the arms of his skysails. A smile crooked across his mouth.
“Leave that to me,” he told her. “Just go, now!”
“Fine,” Remy said through gritted teeth. “Hope you know what you’re doing.”
She turned the wheel sharply. The Kraken swooped a half-moon through the water, lining up to run straight down the middle of the rapidly closing gap between the two massive ships.
“Full sails!” she shouted. Up above, the Ropebone Man flexed his knotty muscles, snapping the sails to life. The Kraken sped toward the opening, even as the big ships raced on, oblivious. Their giant hulls grew closer until their sides almost kissed as they smashed through the waves. The Kraken would barely have room to scoot through.
Fin took a deep breath. Showtime.
Before he could talk himself out of it, he leapt off the quarterdeck railing, hit the main deck at full run, vaulted the forecastle, and darted toward the bowsprit.
“Fin, what are you doing?!” Marrill cried after him. He didn’t have time to stop and explain. He snagged a loose rope just as he hit the tip of the bow and swung out to one side.
A breathless second and his feet touched the hull of one of the big ships. He kicked, clinging to the rope as he ran sideways along it. And then, just as gravity started to catch up, he let go of the rope, yanked the strings on his sleeves, and jumped.
The skysails in his jacket burst to life. The howling wind created by the towering ships buffeted him, threatened to roll him. But it buoyed him, too. Below, the waters of the Stream shimmered and roiled, practically whispering all the things he might turn into if he crashed. He struggled to keep his arms out, to keep his back straight and head up as he swooped toward Stavik’s boat.
A few harrowing heartbeats later, there was dullwood beneath his feet. He staggered to a stop, his hand clenched in the thieves’ sign and a “Hello, fellow shady-fellows” on his lips. Confused stares surrounded him. Better than sword blades, he thought.
Shadows dropped across the pirate vessel. Overhead, the ships’ towering walls closed in, blocking out the sun. They’d be smashed to splinters lick-straight.
“No time to tooth-rattle, bloods,” he said, darting through the stunned crowd toward the ship’s wheel. “Helmsman,” he called to the quaking pirate manning it, “turn quarter on, let that ship hit us just by the bow.” The pirate opened his scaly snoot of a mouth in confusion.
“Do it!” Fin commanded, grabbing hold of the railing to brace himself.
The helmsman nodded, stunned, and did as he was told. The ship turned, lining up just as the Kraken bore down on them. Pirates screamed, clutching each other in a very un-pirate-like manner.
The ships collided. Timber cracked and snapped. The deck rocked. Fin’s gut heaved; he tasted bile rising up the back of his throat.
At first, he thought they were wrecked for real, sunk and dead. But the Naysayer had known what he was talking about. The angle was just right; the ships glanced off each other. The pirate ship turned, shoved backward. Its figurehead, a coiled lavender salamander, shattered apart against the wooden wall beside them, but the ship itself washed free.
The massive boats thundered on, leaving the smaller crafts spinning in their wake. A moment later, the two vessels crashed together, obliterating the space where the pirate ship had just been.
A cheer went up from the pirates. Before Fin had time to think, hands slapped his back and lifted him high in the air. He laughed, soaking in the pirates’ admiration. Being the center of attention wasn’t an experience he had too often. And besides, he knew it wouldn’t be long before they totally forgot about him—everyone did, eventually.
The pirates lowered Fin to the deck as the Kraken
- On Sale
- Feb 13, 2018
- Page Count
- 352 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers