Stormchaser (The Edge Chronicles, No. 2)
Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell
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Since his childhood in the DeepWoods, young Twig has always longed to soar above the forest canopy and explore the sky. Now a crew member on his father’s sky pirate ship, the Stormchaser, his dream seems fulfilled. But a much higher destiny awaits Twig. The lofty city of Sanctaphrax—built on a giant rock, floating high in the sky—is at the point of disaster. The city’s future is dependent on stormphrax—a valuable substance available only from the heart of a Great Storm. And only the Stormchaser, with Twig onboard, could risk entering a storm. . . .
Hereabouts’ and waved them through. Sticking close to him as Cloud Wolf carved a route across the room, Twig tried hard not to knock anyone’s drinks as he went. Flat-heads were notoriously volatile and throats had been slit for far less than a tankard of spilled woodale before now. Jostled and crushed in the sweaty, steaming surge of bodies, it occurred to Twig that the Bloodoak was exactly the right name for the tavern after all. The owner of the tavern was over by the rear exit. She looked up.
What will surely prove to be your greatest challenge. If you are successful, your debts will be cancelled at a stroke.’ Cloud Wolf eyed her mistrustfully. ‘And what’s in it for you?’ ‘Oh, Wolfie, Wolfie,’ she said, and cackled with laughter. ‘You know me so well.’ Her beady eyes glinted. ‘A great deal, that’s all I am prepared to say for now.’ ‘But…’ ‘Save your questions until I have explained,’ Mother Horsefeather interrupted sharply. She breathed in. ‘I have been approached,’ she said, ‘by.
Any warning at all BOOM!!! the lightning ball exploded with an almighty crash and a flash of blinding light. Shock waves rippled outwards across the sky. Twig quaked with terror. The next instant he was thrown backwards by the ferocious blast, and tossed into the oncoming bank of cloud. ‘Aaaaggh!’ he screamed, as the roaring, swirling wind tossed him around. He kicked out desperately and tried to flap his arms but in vain. The wind was too powerful. It was trying or so it seemed to Twig to rip.
Furiously. ‘Not like this!’ he shouted. Behind him, the Stone Pilot muttered drowsily. ‘I wanted to discover new stormphrax, pure stormphrax,’ he continued. ‘Fresh from a Great Storm. In the Twilight Woods. Not this … this evil treasure-trove scraped from the toes of the dead.’ ‘Ah, Twig,’ the professor groaned. ‘Twig, my boy …’ He began coughing again, a low rasping sound that rattled in the back of his throat. ‘Ends and means,’ he wheezed. ‘Ends and…’ The racking cough returned, more.
Remain as you see me now, until the day they die.’ ‘But… but why did you miss it?’ Twig asked. The trog girl sighed. ‘It was on the day before I was due to turn termagant,’ she said. ‘I was outside the cavern walking my pet, a prowlgrin pup, when I was surrounded by a pack of trained whitecollar wood-wolves. They tore my pet to pieces but left me to their master. A slaver from Undertown,’ she said, spitting out the words. ‘He shackled me along with woodelves, trolls, goblins, and marched us off.