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Authors: Ben Chandler

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Quillblade

BOOK: Quillblade
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Cover

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Quillblade: 01 Voyages of the Flying Dragon
ePub ISBN 9781742741123
Kindle ISBN 9781742741130
A Random House book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
First published by Random House Australia in 2010
Copyright © Ben Chandler 2010
The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.

Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
www.randomhouse.com.au/offices

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry
Author: Chandler, Ben
Title: Voyages of the flying dragon. 1, Quillblade/Ben Chandler
ISBN: 978 1 86471 978 9 (pbk.)
Target audience: For secondary school age
Dewey Number: A823.4
Cover design and illustration by Sammy Yuen
Internal design and map by Sammy Yuen
Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Printed in Australia by Griffin Press, an accredited ISO AS/NZS 14001:2004
Environmental Management System printer
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright

Title Page
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO MY GRANDMOTHER, JOYCE MARY WILMINGTON, FOR TEACHING THE MOST VALUABLE LESSONS.
As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.
Charles Darwin
On the Origin of Species,
1859

Mayonaka Shishi
Captain
Arthur Knyght
First Officer
Kami Tenjin
Records Keeper
Gekkô no Niji Shin
Helmswoman
Long Liu
Doctor
Kenji Jackson
Navigator
Yûrei no Gôshi Yami
Swordsman
Lenis Clemens
Engineer
Misericordia ‘Missy' Clemens
Communications Officer
Andrea Florona
Lookout
Chô no Jinsei Hiroshi
Cook
Kami no Tsunochi Namei
Cabin Girl
Aeris
Bestia of Air
Aqua
Bestia of Water
Atrum
Bestia of Darkness
Ignis
Bestia of Fire
Lucis
Bestia of Light
Terra
Bestia of Earth

Cover

Copyright

Title Page

Dedication

Epigraph - Charles Darwin

The Crew of the Hiryû

World Map

A New Home

Conspiracy

The Theft of the Flying Dragon

First Flight

Border Skirmish

The Adventures of Master Hiroshi

Eclipse of the Moon

The Cursed Swordsman

The Wastelands of Gesshoku

The Demon of the Western Marches

The Tale of Tsunochi Namei

The City of Snow

Forbidden Pact

The Crossing

The Coast of Heiligland

Once More Into the Wastelands

The Temple of the Father of the Slain

Finding the World Tree

Meeting at the Heart of the World

Purpose

Reunion

The Birthplace of Demons

The Hall of Lilim

Imprisoned in Asheim

Fleeing Asheim

Loss of Heart

Return to Shinzô

Warlord Shôgo Ikaru

The Demon King

Departure

Glossary

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Beast Child: Book 2 of the Voyages of the Flying Dragon

As the timbers of Itsû's new airdock rocked in their brackets, a familiar creaking reverberated through the airship's hull and lulled Lenis closer to sleep. Aeris was snuggled into his chest, purring in her sleep, her tail wrapped up around her nose. On the other side of the engine room the rest of the Bestia huddled together in their hutch, a thrumming pile of contented fur. The trip from Pure Land to Shinzô had been long, and they had all earned their rest.

‘Lenis?'

Missy's hoarse whisper dragged Lenis back to wakefulness. He peeled open his eyes but little light shone through the porthole of the engine room, and he couldn't see much. ‘What is it?'

He turned to see his sister's shadowed outline in the doorway.

‘Are you
asleep?
'

Lenis sat up, being careful to extricate himself from the sleeping Bestia at his side without waking her, and swung his legs over the side of his bunk. ‘Obviously not. What is it? We've got to be up early tomorrow.'

‘I want to go up on deck and have a look at the city.' The Bestia stirred in their hutch, but they knew Missy almost as well as they knew Lenis and didn't wake.

Lenis groaned and rubbed at his eyes. ‘Come on, Missy, you'll see the city in the morning. Go get some sleep.'

‘You're kidding.' Missy stepped into the engine room and nearly bumped her head on a low-hanging pipe. She ducked at the last moment and settled next to him on the bunk. Her weight disrupted Aeris, who mewed in protest and went to sit on Lenis's pillow. She licked one paw and then spun around twice before settling back to sleep, the very tip of her tail twitching slightly. ‘Since when were you the responsible one?'

Now that Missy was closer, the faint light from the porthole reached her face and Lenis could make out her features, so like his own. ‘Things are different now. We're a long way from home.'

‘Home wasn't all that great, little brother.'

‘Maybe.' Lenis pushed his unruly hair back from his face. ‘But we knew the rules there. We don't know anything about this place, about how they treat ... people like us. If we got in trouble back in Pure Land –'

‘I think you mean “when”.'

‘– the worst they could do was sell us to someone else.'

Missy took his hand and scanned his face in the dim light of the cabin. ‘Things could be different for us here.'

‘That's exactly what I'm afraid of.'

‘All right, we'll take it easy, but come on.' Missy stood and tugged on his hand. ‘No one will even know, and it's not as if we're doing anything wrong. I just want to get a look at this place before we leave. I bet they've decorated it for the big launch, and besides, you'll be in the engine room when we leave so you won't get to see anything.'

Lenis let himself be dragged to his feet. ‘Fine. What's this place called again? Itchi? Itso?'

‘Itsû, Lenis.
Ee-tsoo.
It's the Warlord's home city. The capital of Taiyô domain.'

Aeris lifted her head and watched them leave.

Aside from the shifting lumber that made up the framework of Itsû airdock, the night was still and mostly silent. The Puritan crew that had flown the airship to Shinzô had already disembarked, and the new crew weren't due to board until the morning, when they would all be presented to the Warlord of Shinzô along with the
Hiryû –
which meant
Flying Dragon –
a gift from the Ruling Council of Pure Land. This meant there was little danger of anyone catching them moving around above decks, but as far as Lenis was concerned, the less attention they drew to themselves the better. It wouldn't take much to spot them from the airdock, and they had no way of knowing if the Warlord had left someone to guard his new airship.

Missy dragged Lenis out of his cabin and up the steps to the deck, where it was much brighter. The moon was far from full, but the stars were clear and the soft glow of torchlight floated up from beneath them. They moved to the starboard railing. The airdock was to port side, but it was of Puritan design and was like any other airdock they had seen during their lifetime aboard airships. The view to starboard was far more interesting. They were docked high above the rooftops of the Shinzôn city and could see most of it spread out below them. The streets were straight and neatly paved, and although it was late there were still people milling about, moving from one light-fringed building to the next. The base of the airdock was bordered by a series of perfectly square structures with identical black slate roofs, each emblazoned with Warlord Shôgo Ikaru's crest, a red dragon. Lenis shivered as he stared down at the dragon symbol. It reminded him of something he had dreamt the night before.

‘Happy birthday, brother.'

Lenis smiled, his half-remembered dream fading from his mind. ‘Happy birthday, sister.' He put his head on Missy's shoulder. ‘I didn't get you anything.'

‘I didn't get you anything, either.'

Lenis laughed and lifted his head, crossing his arms along the railing. ‘Thirteen years old. All that time in the slave pens, the factories, the Puritan airships, and we end up halfway across the world on some Warlord's new toy. Did you ever ... Missy?' He turned to look at his sister, who was staring off
towards the Warlord's palace on the far side of the city. Lenis nudged her between the ribs, and she jumped. ‘Who were you talking to?'

Missy looked a little guilty. ‘There's a Bestia living in the Warlord's garden. Her name's Iki.'

Missy and Lenis were both Bestia Keepers, responsible for the care and handling of Bestia. Lenis was an engineer, someone who could
feel
what Bestia felt and could draw out their latent energy, using it to power machinery like the engines that kept airships afloat. Missy was a communicator, someone able to send and receive message-images from Bestia.

Lenis turned to lean his back against the railing. ‘How did you meet her?'

‘She flew out to get a look at us when we arrived. I think she likes airships.'

‘It's a shame we aren't going to be here long. We could introduce her to –
shh!
'

‘I didn't –'

Lenis grabbed his sister's arm and dragged her over to the wall of the hold. Lenis pressed them both up against it. There was someone over on the port side, near the gangplank to the airdock. Lenis had sensed them.

‘Lenis–'

Missy had barely whispered in his ear, but Lenis pressed his finger to her lips. He edged closer to the edge of the hold. The
Hiryû
's construction was relatively simple. Because
the mast-shaft ran horizontally through the airship's hull, supporting the wing balloons on either side, only the sleeping quarters and galley fitted below decks. The cargo holds were on deck – two on the starboard side, two on the port. There was a crystal-domed bridge to aft, and a crow's nest sat atop a mast in the centre of the airship. Lenis and Missy were behind the rear starboard hold. Lenis crept to the gap between the aft and fore holds and peered around the corner.

Two people had boarded the
Hiryû.
Both were dressed in the black Shinzôn robes everyone seemed to wear around here. One of them had a hood drawn up. The other was a small man with short, black hair that stuck out at odd angles. His eyebrows swept up from the bridge of his nose like a bird's wings in flight. He had his arms crossed into the heavy sleeves of his robe.

The man said something in Shinzôn and Lenis silently cursed. He couldn't understand a word he had said.

He says he has some concerns about the crew,
Missy's mental voice sounded in Lenis's mind. He might not be able to understand them, but his sister could. With her translating for him, Lenis was able to follow the conversation.

‘Each has been chosen carefully.' Lenis could tell from the hooded person's voice that she was a woman. There was something familiar about her, too, and with a jolt Lenis realised who she was: the Warlord's diplomat, the one who had come to Pure Land to escort the
Hiryû
back to Shinzô. Her name was Shôgo no Assen Chi.

The two robed figures reached the middle of the deck and turned towards the bridge. The man responded, ‘But what have they been chosen for, Lady Chi?'

Lenis and Missy shadowed the pair on the other side of the hold.

‘To pilot Lord Shôgo Ikaru's new airship, Captain Shishi.'

Lenis blinked.
The captain?

Shh, I'm trying to listen,
Missy replied.

Lenis nodded. He hadn't meant for Missy to hear his thought.

The captain was speaking again, and Missy continued her telepathic translation. ‘Forgive my bluntness, Lady Chi, but if I am to command the Warlord's new vessel, I should know something of those I am to command. Long Liu is to be the airship's doctor?'

‘He is a respected man of medicine, Captain Shishi.'

Missy interjected a thought of her own.
She sounds a bit defensive.

‘He is a half-crazed Tien Tese outcast, Lady Chi.'

‘Perhaps. He also crossed the Wastelands between Tien Ti and Shinzô alone and on foot. No one has survived such a journey in almost three centuries.'

The captain paused for a moment before continuing. The two had reached the stairs leading up to the bridge but didn't climb them. ‘There are many other foreigners in the crew, and some of them are children.'

He means us!
Lenis thought at his sister. Missy nodded.

‘The Ruling Council included them with their gift of the
Hiryû.
They are competent Bestia Keepers,' Lady Chi said.

Just another part of the airship,
Lenis thought.

‘I assure you again, Captain Shishi, all of the crew members were chosen for their expertise in piloting airships.'

‘And not, I notice, for their loyalty to the Shôgo.' There was another pause, as though the captain was waiting for a reply. ‘And what of Yûrei no Gôshi Yami? The cursed swordsman's reputation has spread throughout Shinzô, and his clan is a strong supporter of the Warlord.'

‘He has sworn an oath to the
Hiryû.
'

Another pause. Lenis wished he could hear what they were saying for himself. It would make it so much easier to gauge the subtleties of their conversation. He could sense something of what they were both feeling, but couldn't be sure where their emotions were directed or what had prompted them.

‘I see. And why was I chosen to captain the
Hiryû?
'

‘It is no secret that the Warlord wishes to forge an alliance with your father. Negotiating that alliance is a part of my duties. As the heir to the Mayonaka clan, your appointment as captain will help cement relations between your clan and the Shôgo.'

‘Given my reputation, I would have thought my younger brother would be a more stable choice.'

Lenis tapped his sister's shoulder.
Did he just say ‘stable'?

She motioned him to remain still but nodded.
That's what he said.

‘Perhaps, Captain Shishi, but I thought your experience would better serve the airship and its purpose.'

‘What is that purpose, I wonder? What do you expect of me?'

‘I expect you to live up to your reputation.'

‘As a reckless wanderer?'

‘Precisely.'

‘And how shall I live up to your expectations, Lady Chi?'

‘Simple. I want you to steal the
Hiryû.
'

BOOK: Quillblade
7.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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