The Firebird Chronicles: The Nemesis Charm

The Firebird Chronicles: The Nemesis Charm

by Daniel Ingram-Brown

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Overview

Would it be possible to fade to black at the bottom and keep the same angle on the fade as for the Firebird Chronicles, just to keep it consistent? And perhaps have the ship just a little bigger? They say only the dead can cross a Threshold, the dead and those who have faced a Nemesis Charm. When Apprentice Adventurers, Fletcher and Scoop, discover their mother has fallen under the curse of a strange sickness, they prepare to sail for its source, a Threshold, a doorway to the world beyond the Un-Crossable Boundary. But they are not the only ones seeking to cross the Threshold. Their old enemy, Grizelda, has heard that beyond the Boundary lives a woman with the same power as the Storyteller. With the help of a monster made with an undead heart, she plans to cross the Boundary and steal that power for herself. If she succeeds, the Academy, the island and everything in Fletcher and Scoop's world will be hers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781785352850
Publisher: Our Street Books
Publication date: 05/27/2016
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 17 Years

About the Author

Daniel Ingram-Brown lives in Knaresborough, England, in a house built from stones from the town’s ruined castle. He has written a number of plays and is currently Artistic Director of Suitcase and Spectacles Children's Theatre. He leads projects that explore how stories shape us, discovering what mark they leave on the places we live. Daniel enjoys running workshops and giving author talks for schools, libraries and at festivals. He is interested in exploring philosophical and spiritual questions in fun and engaging ways that inspire children to think and to wonder.

Read an Excerpt

The Firebird Chronicles: The Nemesis Charm


By Daniel Ingram-Brown

John Hunt Publishing Ltd.

Copyright © 2015 Daniel Ingram-Brown
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78535-285-0



CHAPTER 1

The Firebird


A strong wind was blowing in from the west. It swept along the coast of Fullstop Island. Even though it was a beautiful day, the sea was choppy. Fletcher and Scoop were aboard the Storyteller's tall ship, the Firebird. They were wrapped in long macs and wore yellow sowesters on their heads. The ship was racing through the water at fifteen knots, leaving a ribbon of surf in its wake.

Scoop stared at the train of white water behind. It stretched back across the sea, dividing the blue expanse.

A year, she thought. It's been a year since I started at the academy, a year since we were whisked away to that other world.

That night seemed like a dream now.

In the months that had followed, the memory of it had faded. The two Apprentice Adventurers had lost themselves in their academy training. Their mentor, the Yarnbard, and their parents, the Storyteller and his Princess, had taken them to see them many of the island's sights. They had abseiled into the Creativity Craters, swum with the Fable Fish, and sailed around the islands of the Puddles of Plot. Now their Beginning year was over, and they were about to start their Middle year.

She scanned the pathway of white water that cut through the sea.

'Scoop!' a voice bellowed.

She blinked, her trance disturbed.

'Scoop!' the voice called again. 'Get here now!'

Scoop looked round. The boatswain of the Firebird was glaring at her. The rest of the crew were behind him, straining on a rope.

'What do you think you're doing, girl?'

Above them, the captain stood at the ship's wheel, his hair blowing behind him, a dark look on his face. 'Quickly, they're gaining on us!' he shouted.

'SCOOP!' There was threat in the boatswain's voice. 'GET HERE NOW!'

Scoop shook herself and ran across the deck to join Fletcher and the rest of the crew. She grabbed the end of the rope and began to pull. In front of her, she could see her friends, Nib and Rufina. They leaned forward and hauled back in perfect unison. They were slackening the mainsail, part of which flapped uselessly in the wind. It had been ripped.

'Heave ... Heave ... Heave ...' the boatswain yelled, red-faced. 'Come on – put your backs into it! We need to slacken her off, fix her up and get this ship moving again, before it's too late.'

Fletcher looked over his shoulder.

'Where have you been?' he hissed. 'They're gaining on us!'

To port, another mighty tall ship loomed into view. The fiery feathers and sharp eyes of its figurehead, a red falcon, rose and plunged through the waves. The falcon had been carved to strike fear into any ship it pursued. It did the trick. Fletcher's heart was beating fast.

The captain moved forward. 'Haul that mainsail back up, boatswain! Rip or no rip, we must keep up speed.'

The boatswain turned to a burly man who was frantically trying to patch up the rip. 'Quickly, is it fixed?'

'Done,' the man said, stepping away.

'Haul her up,' the boatswain bellowed. 'All together now – what are you men or mice?'

'Well, I'm a woman,' Scoop said under her breath.

'A girl, you mean,' Fletcher whispered.

The Falcon was almost upon them. It was closing the gap with every moment. Scoop could see the Red Hawks, the private army of the Falcon family, on the ship's deck, their scarlet coats and muskets flashing in the sun. They were a fearful sight.

'Heave ... Heave ... Heave ...' the crew yelled as they hauled the mainsail up again. The wind caught it and the Firebird's pace increased.

In the distance, Fletcher could hear the sound of a band playing, a brass band, and there was a crowd cheering.

'They're going to win the race!' Scoop squealed, looking to her side. The Falcon was neck and neck with the Firebird now.

'Not now our mainsail's back up,' Fletcher replied. 'The Firebird's the fastest ship on the Oceans of Rhyme. Nothing can beat it.'

The golden feathers of the Firebird's figurehead shone. The enormous bird seemed to be stretching forward, pulling the ship past the Falcon. Ahead, the finish line was marked by two small fishing boats. Beyond them, the Port of Beginnings and Endings was festooned with colour, as bunting flapped in the breeze. A brass band shone like a pearl at the end of the pier.

It was Dorian's Day on Fullstop Island, an annual holiday. Dorian was the seafarer who had discovered Dawn Rock, one of the North Bookend Isles. He had brought back its rejuvenating waters and so a festival had been named in his honour. There were all sorts of games and attractions at the port, but the main event was the Tall Ship Race. This year four ships had entered, the Falcon, the Firebird, the Wild Goose and a smaller ship called the Robin. The Wild Goose and the Robin had fallen behind in the second phase of the race. They had both taken the most direct route, sticking to the coast, but the wind had been lower there and their progress had been sluggish. The Falcon and the Firebird had both chosen to head further into open waters, where the wind was stronger. Their course had been longer, but the risk had paid off, both ships winning back distance, overtaking the Wild Goose and the Robin as they rounded Rainbow's End. Now, the race was between the two of them.

Scoop loved sailing. There was nothing quite like it – working as a team, battling the elements, telling stories when the wind was low, keeping watch under the night skies. The work was gruelling and the hours long, but she had learnt so much from being at sea. Galleon racing was one of her favourite lessons. It was that sort of thing that made Scoop glad she was an apprentice at Blotting's Academy. Life was never dull.

As the mainsail was tied off, she and Fletcher ran to the prow of the ship. From there, they could see who was in the lead. There wasn't much in it. They were so close to their rivals, they could see their faces. Arnwolf, the eldest son of Ullric Falcon, king of the Bassilica Isles, was standing proudly on the bridge of his father's ship, surrounded by an adoring group of Apprentice Snobs. Scoop could see Mythina in the huddle. Hector Pike and Nicklous Jaegar were there too. The Snobs spotted Fletcher and Scoop and glared at them.

'Ran into a little trouble, did we?' Arnwolf shouted across the water, smiling at the rip in the Firebird's sail. 'That old ship's been patched up so many times, I'm surprised it floats at all!' The rest of the Snobs laughed.

'I don't think so,' Fletcher yelled back. 'You may have a new ship, but it was designed to look like this one. There's a reason for that. Thing is, your ship isn't the Firebird. This is still the fastest ship on the ocean!'

'We'll see about that,' Arnwolf sneered.

'Perhaps it would help if you actually sailed the ship yourself, rather than leaving it to your lackeys.' Fletcher pointed at the Red Hawks, who were straining to tighten the Falcon's mainsail.

Arnwolf laughed. 'Well, there's the difference between you and me. I'm the eldest son of a king. I'm never quite sure who you are. Are you a son or a servant? Doesn't always seem to be a great deal of difference where the Storyteller's concerned.'

Fletcher clenched his fists. He and Scoop were the children of the Storyteller's princess, and although, long ago, a darkness had forced the Storyteller and their mother to part, Fletcher had chosen to believe that the Storyteller was his father. He'd staked his future on it. But there was always a doubt that lurked in the back of his mind.

Arnwolf could see he'd touched a nerve and grinned.

'Let it go,' Scoop said, tugging Fletcher's sleeve. 'He isn't worth it.'

'All hands on deck!' the boatswain of the Firebird bellowed.

Scoop tugged Fletcher's sleeve again. He glared at Arnwolf for a moment, and then turned away, dashing back with Scoop to join the rest of the Firebird's crew.

The boatswain was giving orders. 'Tighten that bough sail. All together now. This could be the difference between life and death, between success and failure. Give it all you've got!'

They hauled the rope, working as one, fighting the wind, intent on turning it from foe to friend.

The ship's musicians started to play, fiddles and accordions weaving frantic reels.

A strong gust of wind caught the foresail, making the ship tilt heavily starboard. Fletcher felt the thrill as the galleon swayed, creaking.

The finish line was just ahead now. The sound of the crowd ashore grew louder, horns and trumpets joining the throng.

The first mate rang the ship's bell.

They were about to cross the finish line. The race judges stood on the fishing boats, different coloured flags in their hands; red to signal a win for the Falcon, gold to announce triumph for the Firebird.

Both ships' crews were watching, their eyes on the judges. The musicians caught the moment, their melodies soaring.

Then, out of nowhere, a tiny, dilapidated fishing vessel appeared. It was directly in the Firebird's path. They could see a fisherman with a birds-nest beard and stormy hair on the deck, manically hoisting a flag. It was as if he were deliberately trying to sabotage the race.

'Look out!' Scoop called, pointing at the tiny boat.

The boatswain looked and, letting out an expletive, leapt back to the ship's bell. He rang it, the warning sounding loudly, clanging across the water. But the fisherman seemed oblivious to the danger; either that or he was deliberately ignoring it.

'Do something! We're going to hit him!' Scoop yelled, distressed.

Fletcher whistled. 'We'll make matchwood of that boat.'

'Hold your course!' the captain yelled, a fierce look in his eye. He focused on the Falcon, which was almost level with them.

'We have to do something,' Scoop hissed. She looked at the fisherman; there was a wild, desperate look about him.

The flag the fisherman was raising seemed to have a message scrawled on it, but Scoop couldn't see what it was.

She felt sorry for him. Something was obviously wrong. Nobody would dare block the course of the race without good cause, unless they were ill or confused. Her heart went out to him.

That boat's his livelihood. He's going to lose it.

'He must have a screw loose,' Fletcher whispered.

Scoop looked around, everyone was staring at the fishing vessel, but nobody was doing anything.

A sudden burst of anger exploded in her chest. Somebody had to do something. They couldn't just plough into the vessel, risking the man's livelihood, maybe even his life.

Some things are more important than a race!

Before she knew what she was doing, Scoop was running across the deck, past the Mainmast, towards the stern of the ship.

Out of the corner of his eye, Fletcher saw the movement. He glanced back. Scoop was leaping up the wooden steps that led to the quarterdeck, where the captain of the Firebird stood at the wheel, his eyes fixed on the finish line.

Oh no, what's she doing?

Quickly, he dashed after her, watching as she bounded across the ship. Before he could catch up with her, she'd grabbed the ship's wheel and was spinning it wildly.

The ship swayed, creaking, the rigging clanking. Below, the rudder trembled, as seawater churned past it, pushing the galleon off course. The crew looked away from the fishing vessel to see what was going on.

'What the hell do you think you're doing?' the captain yelled, as the Firebird curved away from the finish line. He looked back to see the Falcon inch into the lead. Red-faced, he grabbed the wheel and tried to spin it back, but Scoop clung to it, using her whole body to hold it down.

'Get her out of here!' the captain shouted. The first mate and the boatswain started to climb to the quarterdeck.

Fletcher was already there. 'What are you doing?' he said, grabbing her arm.

'The right thing,' she replied, giving him a sharp look. 'We can't just plough on and hope we'll miss him.'

Fletcher sighed. She was right. Scoop was always getting him into trouble with her need to do the "right thing".

The first mate was almost there now, the boatswain hot on his heels. They looked on, alarmed, as the captain tried to take back command of the ship.

'Help me,' Scoop hissed.

Fletcher grabbed one of the handles of the ship's wheel and joined Scoop, resisting the captain's efforts to correct their course.

The little fishing boat was just ahead. For a moment it looked as though the Firebird was going to collide with it. The golden figurehead plunged down, as if diving to catch prey. The boat swayed, disappearing from sight. Scoop looked on, her heart in her mouth. Had she been too late? If only she'd acted earlier. And then, all of a sudden, the fishing boat rose back into view. It was by the side of the Firebird now. It rolled dangerously in the wash of the galleon, but it was safe.

Scoop heaved a sigh of relief. They had averted the collision. She let go of the ship's wheel. The captain spun it back, hard the other way. But it was too late. There was a cheer from the shore. Scoop looked. The race judges had their hands in the air. From them, red flags billowed in the wind. The Falcon had won the race.

The captain's face was thunderous. Scoop was scared he might blow into a tempest. He ordered the first mate to remove Fletcher and Scoop and detain them in the sergeant's quarters. As they were escorted down to the main deck, and shoved towards the hatch that led below, Scoop looked back at the little fishing boat. She could see the message that was scrawled on the flag now. It said, "Beware the sickness. Beware the sea." The wild-eyed fisherman was looking directly at her. He was holding up a net. It was full of fish, but they were black, as if they'd been burnt. The fisherman was shouting across the water. Scoop peered at him, trying to read his lips.

'Dead!' he was shouting, 'All dead! Beware the sickness. Keep away from the sea! You must keep away from the sea!'

Before she could see anything else, the first mate pushed her through the hatch into the belly of the Firebird, manhandling her into the sergeant's quarters. The door slammed and she heard a key turn. He had locked them in. They had lost the race and Scoop doubted the captain would ever allow them to sail the Firebird again.

'And all that for a crazy fisherman,' Fletcher said.

Scoop looked at him. He was grinning.

'You do like to get me into trouble, don't you?'

She smiled back shyly. 'We're Apprentice Adventurers. What else do you expect?'

'Nothing less, nothing less,' he said sagely. 'But we'd better brace ourselves. The captain's on his way, and I don't think he's very happy with us.'

CHAPTER 2

Dorian's Day


Fletcher and Scoop's mentor, the Yarnbard, was in his office at Blotting's Academy. He was deep in thought. His grey beard twitched and his yellow kaftan rustled as he stared at the hot wax he'd just dripped onto a scroll of parchment. It looked like congealing blood. He pressed the academy's sealing stamp into the viscous liquid. It oozed around it, before drying into a hard scab. The old man pulled the stamp away and held the parchment in his hands.

A strong gust of wind suddenly blew through his office, knocking his hat from his head. He leaned down to pick it up. As he rose, he glanced at a circular table in the middle of the room. On it, a black, jewel-encrusted box waited.

The Yarnbard stared from the box to the parchment, a heavy sadness weighing on his heart. Without another thought, he rose from his seat and, picking up the parchment, headed out of his office to begin the steep descent to the bottom of the tower, in which his rooms were located.

* * *

As the Yarnbard reached the bottom of the tower, two young girls, academy apprentices, sped around the corner, nearly knocking the old man over.

'Oh, sorry,' one of them said, skidding to a stop. She looked embarrassed.

'We didn't mean to ... Are you okay?' the other asked, without taking a breath.

'Calm down, don't worry yourselves,' the Yarnbard said kindly. He peered at them. 'I know you two, don't I?'

One of the girls nodded. 'I'm Alfa.'

'And I'm Sparks,' the other added.

'Ah yes, Alfa and Sparks – Apprentice Spell-Shakers – new first years, if I remember correctly?'

'Yes, that's right,' Alfa replied. 'You took us into the Story Caves to meet Mr Tumnus for our taster Seasons lesson.'

'Aha, yes that's right – Winter to Spring. That Narnian winter was definitely a spell of bad weather that needed shaking, eh?'

The girls nodded.

'And, am I right in thinking that you know my apprentices, Fletcher and Scoop?'

Alfa and Sparks looked at each other and grinned.

'Yes,' Alfa said, enthusiastically, 'we do.'

'Well in that case, I'm glad I bumped into you. Or rather, I'm glad you bumped into me!'

Alfa blushed.

'In fact,' the old man continued, 'it's very fortuitous indeed. I wonder if you would do me a favour?'

Alfa nodded. 'Of course.'

The old man held out the scroll. 'Would you take this to Fletcher and Scoop?'

'We'd love to!' the girls replied in unison.

The Yarnbard smiled, sadly. 'So lovely to see such enthusiasm in new apprentices.' He paused. 'But you must look after this, girls. Guard it, won't you? And see that it is quickly delivered.'

'Of course,' Alfa said, glancing at Sparks. The message was obviously important.

'Good.' The old man handed over the scroll. 'Go quickly then.'

Wind swept along the pathway, blowing up dust.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Firebird Chronicles: The Nemesis Charm by Daniel Ingram-Brown. Copyright © 2015 Daniel Ingram-Brown. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue,
Chapter 1 – The Firebird,
Chapter 2 – Dorian's Day,
Chapter 3 – A Bitter Wind,
Chapter 4 – The Choice,
Chapter 5 – The Raven,
Chapter 6 – The Eye of the Needle,
Chapter 7 – Skull Island,
Chapter 8 – The Long Night,
Chapter 9 – The Hourglass Cup,
Chapter 10 – The Sandman Comes,
Chapter 11 – Completion,
Chapter 12 – Over the Threshold,
Chapter 13 – The Silver Pen,
Chapter 14 – The Princess Awakes,
Chapter 15 – Shut Out,
Chapter 16 – The Raven's Return,
Chapter 17 – Roadblock,
Chapter 18 – At the Wild Guffaw,
Chapter 19 – Waiting,
Chapter 20 – The First Word Welcome,
Chapter 21 – In the Scythe,
Chapter 22 – Taken,
Chapter 23 – The Black Horizon,
Chapter 24 – The Guardian's Gathering,
Chapter 25 – Releasing the Patients,
Chapter 26 – Back on the Ship,
Chapter 27 – Arnwolf's Secret,
Chapter 28 – The Wordsmith's Yard,
Chapter 29 – The Seventh Level,
Chapter 30 – The Rescue,
Chapter 31 – The Search,
Chapter 32 – Nemesis,

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The Firebird Chronicles: The Nemesis Charm 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
The_reading_wolf More than 1 year ago
The synopsis Fletcher and Scoop, apprentice adventurers, discover their mother has fallen under a sickness curse. They set sail to find out its source, the Threshold, a doorway to an uncrossable world. They race against time and their enemy Grizelda, who also seeks the power to cross the Threshold so she too can possess the power of the Storyteller. Will our heroes make it? Will they save their mother and their academy? Read the book to find out! The review This unique young adult fantasy book is packed full of adventure. The book is ya but can definitely read as middle grade. There are a lot of cool parallels with the use of grammar. (i.e blotting academy, and hosting the grammar games) There is a very unique map at the beginning of the book as well. Although while being book two in the series it can be read as a stand alone but it does have some references to book one. Thrown in some adventure, a dash of suspense and a sprinkle of humor and you have The Nemesis Charm. The plot sets up nicely and unfolds to a good set up for book 3. The characters are well developed and you have a fun time reading this book and immersing yourself in the adventures. 4 out of 5 stars from me! I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.