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Finally gettingwhat she deserves“Mum, Dad, I know I’ve been behaving terribly and Ican see how I’ve upset you. But I—”Her mother stopped her with an impatient gesture.“It’s too late for that, Maddie. We’ve given you onechance after another, and you’ve continued to do as youplease and flout our authority. Well, our patience isfinally at an end. Our minds are made up.”And that was that, Maddie thought. She knew hermother well enough to know that Cassandra had a will ofiron and would not be deterred from a path once she hadchosen it. Maddie took a deep breath and waited for theworst.“We’ve decided,” Horace said, “to send you to Will asan apprentice.”Maddie’s heart leapt. She kept her eyes cast down, notwanting them to see the sudden light of pleasure that sheknew would be all too obvious. Waiting a few secondsuntil she had herself under control, she looked up atthem, suddenly fearful that she had mistaken whatHorace had said.“Will?” she said tentatively. “You mean Uncle Will?”“Yes, Will. Your godfather. We’re going to ask him totake you on as an apprentice and train you as a Ranger.”

The Ruins of GorlanThe Burning BridgeThe Icebound LandThe Battle for SkandiaThe Sorcerer of the NorthThe Siege of MacindawErak’s RansomThe Kings of ClonmelHalt’s PerilThe Emperor of Nihon-JaThe Lost StoriesA New BeginningThe Red Fox ClanThe Tournament at GorlanThe Battle of Hackham HeathThe OutcastsThe InvadersThe HuntersSlaves of SocorroScorpion MountainThe GhostfacesThe Caldera

PUFFIN BOOKSPublished by the Penguin GroupPenguin Group (USA) LLC375 Hudson StreetNew York, New York 10014USA * Canada * UK * Ireland * AustraliaNew Zealand * India * South Africa * Chinapenguin.comA Penguin Random House CompanyFirst published in the United States of America by Philomel Books,an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2013Published by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2014Copyright 2013 by John FlanaganPenguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and createsa vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws bynot reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writersand allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.Edited by Michael GreenPuffin Books ebook ISBN 978-1-101-63861-3Version 4

This one is for Maddie and Shea, my two longest-standing fans, who havealso become my good friends.

ContentsFinally getting what she deservesAlso by John FlanaganTitle PageCopyrightDedicationChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33

Chapter 34Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49Chapter 50Chapter 51Chapter 52Chapter 53Chapter 54Chapter 55EpilogueAn Excerpt from The Red Fox Clan

1IT HAD BEEN A POOR HARVEST IN SCANLON ESTATE. THE wheatcrop had beenmeager at best, and the apple orchards had been savaged by a blight that leftthree-quarters of the fruit blemished and rotting on the trees.As a result, the share farmers, farm laborers, orchardists and fruit pickerswere facing hard times, with three months before the next harvest, duringwhich time they would have nowhere near enough to eat.Squire Dennis of Scanlon Manor was a kindhearted man. He was also apractical one, and while his kindhearted nature urged him to help his needytenants, his practical side recognized such an action as good business. If hisfarmers and laborers went hungry, chances were they would move away, insearch of work in a less stricken region. Then, when good times returned toScanlon Estate, there would be insufficient workers available to reap theharvest.Dennis had acquired considerable wealth over the years and could ride outthe hard times ahead. But he knew that such an option wasn’t available to hisworkers. Accordingly, he decided to invest some of his accumulated wealthin them. He set up a workers’ kitchen, which he paid for himself, and openedit to the needy who lived on his estate. In that way, he ensured that his peoplereceived at least one good meal a day. It was nothing fancy—usually a soupor porridge made from oats. But it was hot and nourishing and filling, and hewas confident that the cost would be more than repaid by the continuingloyalty of his tenants and laborers.The kitchen was in the parkland in front of the manor house. It consistedof rows of trestle tables and benches, and a large serving table. These were

sheltered from the worst of the weather by canvas awnings stretched overpoles above them, creating a large marquee. The sides were left open. In badweather, this often meant that the wind and rain blew around the tables. Butfarm folk are of hardy stock, and the arrangement was far better than eatingin the open.In fact, “kitchen” was a misnomer. All the cooking was done in the vastkitchen inside the manor house, and the food was carried out to be served tothe hungry tenants and their families. The estate workers understood that thefood was provided free of charge. But it was a matter of principle that anywho could afford a small payment would do so. Most often, this was in theform of a few copper coins, or of produce—a brace of rabbits or a wild ducktaken at the pond.The kitchen operated for the two hours leading up to dusk, ensuring thatthe workers could enjoy a night’s sleep without the gnawing pains of hungerin their bellies.It was almost dusk when the stranger pushed his way through to theserving table.He was a big man with shoulder-length blond hair. He was wearing awagoner’s leather vest, and a pair of thick gauntlets were tucked into his belt,alongside the scabbard that held a heavy-bladed dagger. His eyes dartedcontinually from side to side, never remaining long in one spot, giving him ahunted look.Squire Dennis’s chief steward, who was in charge of the serving table,looked at him suspiciously. The workers’ kitchen was intended for locals, notfor travelers, and he’d never seen this man before.“What do you want?” he asked, his tone less than friendly.The wagoner stopped his darting side-to-side looks for a few seconds andfocused on the man facing him. He was about to bluster and threaten, but thesteward was a heavily built man, and there were two powerful-lookingservants behind him, obviously tasked with keeping order. He nodded at thecauldron of thick soup hanging over the fire behind the serving table.“I want food,” he said roughly. “Haven’t eaten all day.”The steward frowned. “You’re welcome to soup, but you’ll have to pay,”he said. “Free food is for estate tenants and workers only.”The wagoner scowled at him, but he reached into a grubby purse hangingfrom his belt and rummaged around. The steward heard the jingle of coins ashe sorted through the contents, letting some drop back into the purse. He

deposited three pennigs on the table.“That do?” he challenged. “That’s all I’ve got.”The steward raised a disbelieving eyebrow. He’d heard the jingle of coinsdropping back into the purse. But it had been a long day, and he couldn’t bebothered with a confrontation. Best to give the man some food and get rid ofhim as soon as possible. He gestured to the serving girl by the soup vat.“Give him a bowl,” he said.She dumped a healthy portion into a wooden bowl and set it before him,adding a hunk of crusty bread.The wagoner looked at the tables around him. Many of those seated weredrinking noggins of ale as well. There was nothing unusual in that. Ale wasrelatively cheap, and the squire had decided that his people shouldn’t have adry meal. There was a cask behind the serving table, with ale dripping slowlyfrom its spigot. The wagoner nodded toward it.“What about ale?” he demanded.The steward drew himself up a little straighter. He didn’t like the man’smanner. He might be paying for his meal, but it was a paltry amount and hewas getting good value for his money.“That’ll cost extra,” he said. “Two pennigs more.”Grumbling, the wagoner rummaged in his purse again. He showed no signof embarrassment at producing more coins after claiming that he had none.He tossed them on the table, and the steward nodded to one of his men.“Give him a noggin,” he said.The wagoner took his soup, bread and ale and turned away withoutanother word.“And thank you,” the steward said sarcastically, but the blond manignored him. He threaded his way through the tables, studying the faces ofthose sitting there. The steward watched him go. The wagoner was obviouslylooking for someone and, equally obviously, hoping not to see him.The servant who had drawn the ale stepped close to him and said in alowered voice, “He looks like trouble waiting to happen.”The steward nodded. “Best let him eat and be on his way. Don’t give himany extra, even if he offers to pay.”The serving man grunted assent, then turned as a farmer and his familyapproached the table, hopefully looking at the soup cauldron.“Step up, Jem. Let’s give you and your family something to stick yourribs together, eh?”

Holding his soup bowl and ale high to avoid bumping them against thepeople seated at the tables, the wagoner made his way to the very rear of themarquee, close by the sandstone walls of the great manor house. He sat at thelast table, on his own, facing the front, where he could see new arrivals asthey entered the big open tent. He began to eat, but with his eyes constantlyflicking up to watch the front of the tent, he managed to spill and dribble agood amount of the soup down his beard and the front of his clothes.He took a deep draft of his ale, still with his eyes searching above the rimof the wooden noggin. There was only a centimeter left when he set it downagain. A serving girl, moving through the tables and collecting empty plates,paused to look into the noggin. Seeing it virtually empty, she reached for it.But the wagoner stopped her, grasping her wrist with unnecessary force sothat she gasped.“Leave it,” he ordered. “Haven’t finished.”She snatched her wrist away from his grip and curled her lip at him.“Big man,” she sneered. “Finish off your last few drops of ale then.”She stalked away angrily, turning once to glare back at him. As she did, afrown came over her face. There was a cloaked and cowled figure standingdirectly behind the wagoner’s chair. She hadn’t seen him arrive. Onemoment, there was nobody near the wagoner. Then the cloaked manappeared, seemingly having risen out of the earth. She shook her head. Thatwas fanciful, she thought. Then she reconsidered, noting the mottled greenand-gray cloak the man wore. It was a Ranger’s cloak, and folk said thatRangers could do all manner of unnatural things—like appearing anddisappearing at will.The Ranger stood directly behind the wagoner’s chair. So far, the illtempered man had no idea that he was there.The shadow of the cowl hid the newcomer’s features. All that was visiblewas a steel-gray beard. Then he slipped back the cowl to reveal a grim face,with dark eyes and gray, roughly trimmed hair to match the beard.At the same time, he drew a heavy saxe knife from beneath the cloak andtapped its flat side gently on the wagoner’s shoulder, leaving it resting thereso the wagoner could see it with his peripheral vision.“Don’t turn around.”The wagoner stiffened, sitting bolt upright on his bench. Instinctively, hebegan to turn to view the man behind him. The saxe rapped on his shoulder,harder this time.

“I said don’t.”The command was uttered in a more peremptory tone, and some of thosenearby became aware of the scene playing out at the table. The low murmurof voices died away to silence as more people noticed. All eyes turned towardthe rear table, where the wagoner sat, seemingly transfixed.Somewhere, someone recognized the significance of the gray mottledcloak and the heavy saxe knife.“It’s a Ranger.”The wagoner slumped as he heard the words, and a haunted look cameover his face.“You’re Henry Wheeler,” the Ranger said.Now the haunted look changed to one of abject fear. The big man shookhis head rapidly, spittle flying from his lips as he denied the name.“No! I’m Henry Carrier! You’ve got the wrong man! I swear.”The Ranger’s lips twisted in what might have been a smile. “Wheeler . . .Carrier. Not a very imaginative stretch if you’re planning to change yourname. And you should have got rid of the Henry.”“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” the wagoner babbled. Hebegan to turn to face his accuser. Again, the saxe rapped him sharply on theshoulder.“I told you. Don’t turn around.”“What do you want from me?” The wagoner’s voice was rising in pitch.Those watching were convinced that he knew why the grim-faced Ranger hadsingled him out.“Perhaps you could tell me.”“I haven’t done anything! Whoever this Wheeler person is, it’s not me! Itell you, you’ve got the wrong man! Leave me be, I say.”He tried to put a sense of command into the last few words and failedmiserably. They came out more as a guilt-laden plea for mercy than theindignation of an innocent man. The Ranger said nothing for a few seconds.Then he said three words.“The Wyvern Inn.”Now the guilt and fear were all too evident on the wagoner’s face.“Remember it, Henry? The Wyvern Inn in Anselm Fief. Eighteen monthsago. You were there.”“No!”“What about the name Jory Ruhl, Henry? Remember him? He was the

leader of your gang, wasn’t he?”“I never heard of no Jory Ruhl!”“Oh, I think you have.”“I never have! I was never at any Wyvern Inn and I had nothing to dowith the . . .”The big man stopped, realizing he was about to convi