‘We’re not going to make it,’ he said finally to Svengal. His second in command nodded agreement. ‘Looks that way,’ Svengal said philosophically. Erak was glancing keenly round the ship, making sure that there was no loose gear that needed to be secured. His eye lit on the two prisoners, huddled in the bow. ‘Better tie those two to the mast,’ he said. ‘And we’ll rig the sweep steering oar as well.’ Will and Evanlyn watched Svengal as he made his way towards them.
Kidnapped after the fierce battle with Lord Morgarath, Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as captives aboard a fearsome wolfship. Halt, Will’s mentor, has sworn to rescue Will and he will do anything to keep his promise – even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers he has served so loyally, Halt is joined by Horace as he travels toward the forbidding cold of Skandia. On their way, they are challenged constantly by freelance knights-but Horace knows a thing or two about combat. Soon he begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. Yet as Horace earns his reputation, Will and Evanlyn struggle for survival as slaves.
While reading this book, I laughed, cried, and felt heart broken too. John Flanagan knows how to write a good book. Evelyn safety is needed much more due to the vow Ragnak took to the Valswallows. Will Evelyn and Will survive the battle for survival? Who is Ragnak? Who are the Valswallows? Find out in The Icebound Land by John Flanagan.
Halt stood motionless against the massive trunk of an oak tree as the bandits swarmed out of the forest to surround the carriage. He was in full view but nobody saw him. In part this was due to the fact that the robbers were totally intent on their prey, a wealthy merchant and his wife. For their part, they were equally distracted, staring with horror at the armed men who now surrounded their carriage in the clearing.
But in the main, it was due to the camouflage cloak that Halt wore, its cowl pulled up over his head to leave his face in shadow, and the fact that he stood absolutely stock-still. Like all Rangers, Halt knew the secret of merging into the background lay with the ability to remain unmoving, even when people seemed to be looking straight at him. Believe you are unseen, went the Ranger saying, and it will be so.
A burly figure, clad entirely in black, now emerged from the trees and approached the carriage. Halt’s eyes narrowed for a second, then he sighed silently. Another wild goose chase, he thought. The figure bore a slight resemblance to Foldar, the man Halt had been pursuing since the end of the war with Morgarath. Foldar had been Morgarath’s senior lieutenant. He had managed to escape capture when his leader died and his army of sub-human Wargals faded away.
But Foldar was no mindless beast. He was a thinking, planning human being — and a totally warped and evil one. The son of a noble Araluan family, he had murdered both his parents after an argument over a horse. He was barely a teenager at the time and he had escaped by fleeing into the Mountains of Rain and Night, where Morgarath recognized a kindred spirit and enlisted him. Now he was the sole surviving member of Morgarath’s band and King Duncan had made his capture and imprisonment a number one priority for the Kingdom’s armed forces.
The problem was, Foldar impersonators were springing up everywhere — usually in the form of everyday bandits like this one. They used the man’s name and savage reputation to strike fear into their victims, making it easier to rob them. And as each one sprang up, Halt and his colleagues had to waste time tracking them down. He felt a slow burning of anger at the time he was wasting on these minor nuisances. Halt had other matters to attend to. He had a promise to keep and fools like this were preventing him doing so.
The fake Foldar had stopped by the carriage now. The black cloak with its high collar was somewhat similar to the one Foldar wore. But Foldar was a dandy and his cloak was immaculate black velvet and satin, whereas this was simple wool, badly dyed and patched in several places, with a collar of crudely tanned black leather. The man’s bonnet was unkempt and badly creased as well, while the black swan’s feather that adorned it was bent in the middle, probably where some careless bandit had sat on it. Now the man spoke, and his attempt to imitate Foldar’s lisping, sarcastic tones was spoiled by his thick rural accent and clumsy grammar.
“Step down from the carriage, good sor and mad’m,” he said, sweeping a clumsy bow. “And fear not, good lady, the noble Foldar ne’er harms one as fair as thee art.” He attempted a sardonic, evil laugh. It came out more as a thin cackle.
The “good lady’ was anything but fair. She was middle aged, overweight and plain in the extreme. But that was no reason why she should be subjected to this sort of terror, Halt thought grimly. She held back, whimpering with fear at the sight of the black figure before her. “Foldar’ took a pace forward, his voice harsher, his tone more threatening. “Get down, missus!” he shouted. “Or I’ll hand you your husband’s ears!”
His right hand dropped to the hilt of a long dagger in his belt. The woman cried out and cowered further back into the carriage. Her husband, equally terrified and more than fond of his ears where they were, was trying to push her towards the carriage door. Enough, Halt thought. Satisfied that no one was looking in his direction, he nocked an arrow, drew and sighted in one economical motion, and released.
“Foldar’, real name Rupert Gubblestone, had a brief impression of something flashing past, just in front of his nose. Then there was an almighty jerk on the raised collar of his cloak and he found himself pinned against the carriage by a quivering black arrow that thudded into the wood. He gave a startled yelp, lost his balance and stumbled, saved from falling by his cloak, which now began to choke him where it fastened around his neck.
As the other bandits turned to see where the arrow had come from, Halt stepped away from the tree. Yet to the startled robbers, it seemed as if he had stepped out of the massive oak.
“King’s Ranger!” Halt called. “Drop your weapons.”
There were ten men, all armed. Not a single one thought to disobey the order. Knives, swords and cudgels clattered to the ground. They had just seen a first-hand example of a Ranger’s black magic: the grim figure had stepped clean out of the living trunk of an oak tree. Even now, the strange cloak that he wore seemed to shimmer uncertainly against the background, making it difficult to focus on him. And if sorcery weren’t enough to compel them, they could see a more practical reason — the massive longbow, with another black-shafted arrow already on the string.
“On the ground, belly down! All of you!” The words cut at them like a whip and they dropped to the ground. Halt pointed to one, a dirty-faced youth who couldn’t have been more than fifteen.
“Not you!” he said and the boy hesitated, on his hands and knees.“You take their belts and tie their hands behind them.”
The terrified boy nodded several times, then moved towards the first of his prone comrades. He stopped as Halt gave him a further warning.
“Tie them tight!” he said. “If I find one loose knot, I’ll…” He hesitated for a second, while he framed a suitable threat, then continued, “I’ll seal you up inside that oak tree over there.
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Have fun reading The Icebound Land by John Flanagan.