Raiders' Ransom

Raiders' Ransom by Emily Diamand

Book: Raiders' Ransom by Emily Diamand Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emily Diamand
ain’t never heard anything about such a place, it looks a bit scared.
    â€œHow can they all be gone?” it says. “Who will provide me with technical support now?”
    And sometimes it says, “Would you like to play?” which is pretty strange, I reckon. So I tell it a boat’s no place for mucking about.
    Every day of sailing takes us nearer to London. And every night the head comes out for a chat. I keep telling myself I won’t let it out, but every night I do, anyway. Cos it seems so sad, how it’s lost everything it knew. By the third night it’s almost like normal, having the head floating in the darkness in front of me. It wants to know about everything. What I’m doing, my plan, what the world’s like. But I ain’t sure it believes anything I say.
    When I tell it about the drowning of London, it says, “But there were sea defenses. What happened to those?”
    And I shrug, cos I don’t know. “Maybe they weren’t good enough?” I say, “My granny said in the olden times they never had storms like we get now. She said the bad storms coming and the sea rising up was all part of the Collapse.”
    And when we run out of talk, the head goes back in its jewel, and I lay my head down to sleep. But it feels like I’m leaving a dream, instead of going into one.

10
A WRONGING AND AN EQUALING

    Lunden! It stinks, like old cabbage and pig droppings. Every street that ain’t underwater is covered in the thick oozing mud dumped by the Temz. It slimes around everywhere. In and out of the old buildings. Stone and brick buildings, and high as the sky! But they ain’t so much now, and every one of them’s broken: windows smashed; holes in walls; roofs fallen in.
    â€œWatch where you’re going, Zeph! You’ll end up in the slop!” Ims laughs and nods at the mud underneath the wooden walkway.
    Lunden is buzzing! The great wide River Temz is full of sails: red, blue, green, purple of the Families; gleaming silver of the Scottish sunships; even the odd white sail, though any English would be mad to show their faces now. And thebanks are lined with piers poking into the water, everyone loading and unloading something different: fish, wool, hay, sides of mutton, wood, people, pigs, bales of cloth, barrels of beer, rounds of cheese — anything you can think of, seems like. And where there ain’t traders, there’s warriors. From every Family, in every color leathers you can think of. And all of them looking fierce as you like, ready to draw weapons, bristling to start a fight.
    Even after four days here, I ain’t used to all these people! They’re everywhere — pushing along the walkways, wading through the mud with parcels and pots and bales and every kind of thing on their heads.
    â€œBe careful,” says Ims. “Word’s out about our raid. Every warrior in Lunden’s on edge. Kill you same as spit on you.”
    He pulls me to one side of the wooden walkway, and a gang of warriors, all wearing blue, which means Chell Sea, comes walking by. Chell Sea’s where my mother came from, so I’m half Chell Sea, too. I open my mouth, but I don’t know the right words to say to them. Ims catches my look, shakes his head.
    â€œDon’t speak to them. They’ll only see your colors, and before you know it, you’ll end up dead. Stick around, you’ll see warriors from every Family you’ve ever heard of — Kensing, Dogs, Tottnam, Stokey, Brixt, Chell Sea — and all of them are wanting a piece of Angel Isling.”
    â€œI thought Lunden was safe meeting, like Norwich?”
    â€œIt usually is, but things is different now. Your father thinks forward; he wants the Families to unite against the English. But there’s plenty of other Bosses who want to keep the old ways, and plenty of warriors who’d kill every Angel Isling to keep them. And Lunden’s where we all

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