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Authors: Cameron Stelzer

Tags: #Rats – Juvenile fiction, #Pirates – Juvenile fiction

The Island of Destiny

BOOK: The Island of Destiny
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The Island of Destiny

Titles available in the Pie Rats series
(in reading order):

The Forgotten Map

The King's Key

The Island of Destiny

The Trophy of Champions

For my sister, Alison, the nurturer.

Guiding hands shape precious destinies.

First published by Daydream Press, Brisbane, Australia, 2014

This electronic version published 2015

Text and illustrations copyright © Dr Cameron Stelzer 2014

Illustrations are watercolour and pen on paper

No part of this book may be reproduced electronically, verbally or in print without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

ISBN: 978-0-9942486-2-6 (eBook)

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry

Author: Stelzer, Cameron, 1977 –

Title: The Island of Destiny / by Cameron Stelzer

Series: Stelzer, Cameron, 1977 – Pie Rats; bk. 3

Target audience: For primary school age.

Subjects: Rats – Juvenile fiction. Pirates – Juvenile fiction.

Dewey number: A823.4

Digital edition distributed by
Port Campbell Press
www.portcampbellpress.com.au
Conversion by
Winking Billy

Loyalty before all else, even pies.

The Pie Rat Code

The Cyclone Sea

The afternoon sky was a grey blur of clouds and rain. An icy wind howled from the east. The ocean frothed and foamed.

A small, two-masted ship ploughed through the crashing waves. Her course was straight. Her sails were full. The black-furred rat behind the wheel adjusted his soggy eye patch and checked the compass.

‘North-north-west,' he muttered in a deep, commanding voice. ‘We're still on course. Where is this island?'

‘It can't be far, Captain,' replied the young rat next to him. ‘We passed Drumstick Island hours ago.'

Captain Black Rat lowered the compass and sighed. ‘I hope you're right, Whisker. The Cyclone Sea is not a forgiving place. If we've overshot our destination, we're in deep water.'

Whisker shuddered.
Deep water!
He felt his tail drop to the deck. Painful memories came rushing back …

He was sinking into the silent depths, watching helplessly as the little red boat carrying his parents and sister vanished into the terrible cyclone above …

He tried to block the vision.

You're going to find them, he told himself. Don't lose hope.

He touched the edge of his missing right sleeve and stared through the rain at the thundering sky. He was in a storm, not a cyclone.

‘The
Apple Pie's
been through worse, Captain,' he said slowly.

The Captain looked grave. ‘Not with a hull full of holes, she hasn't. Those rock-throwing Tasmanian devils made a right old mess of the old girl.'

Whisker glanced down at the deck of the
Apple Pie
and winced. Splintered boards and crater-like holes filled his vision, a lasting reminder of the devilish encounter.

A third rat staggered onto the helm, counting every step as he went. ‘… five, six, seven.' He was no taller than a child, but the battle scars on either cheek gave him an older, roguish appearance. He waved a golden hook through the air in a futile attempt to swat the falling raindrops.

‘Hook Hand Horace, reporting for duty, sir,' he announced, clicking his heels.

‘Always the showman, aren't you, Horace,' the Captain muttered. ‘Anything to report from below?'

‘We're not sinking – yet,' Horace replied optimistically. ‘Fred's resealing the holes with coagulated pie gravy. It should hold us until we reach the island …'

‘What about the creature?' Whisker cut in. ‘Rat Bait warned us of a fierce sea creature that guards the Island of Destiny. I doubt gravy will keep it at bay.'

‘I don't have a harpoon, if that's what you're asking,' Horace said, draining the rainwater from his oversized, purple hat. ‘But I could make you a net – just in case.'

The Captain nodded. ‘First rule of thumb, Horace: If you think you'll need it, you'll definitely need it.'

Horace gave the Captain a salute with his hook and descended the slippery stairs. Whisker shook the rain drops from his tail and scurried after him.

‘WHISKER! Over here. On the double!'

Whisker heard the command and immediately changed direction. As a Pie Rat apprentice, he was used to being bossed around, especially by the Captain's niece, Ruby.

Whisker dodged three large holes in the deck and skidded along the wooden pastry crust bulwark to where the ship's boatswain stood waiting for him. Even in the soaking rain, Ruby Rat looked like she'd just stepped out of the Portside Boutique. Her crimson eye patch sat neatly over her right eye, her cherry red vest and matching bandanna were crease-free and her two scarlet scissor swords dangled symmetrically off her belt. She stared blankly at Whisker with her emerald green eye.

Ruby, like her uncle, the Captain, had a nasty temper. She could snap at the drop of a hat (or a mis-tied rope, as was often the case). Whisker was never quite sure how he should act around her.

He felt his over-emotional tail twitch nervously behind his back and hoped the unruly fur on the top of his head was lying flat for a change. He casually raised his paw to check. Tangled tufts of fur stuck up like the leaves of a pineapple.

‘W-what can I help you with, Ruby?' he stammered, suddenly self-conscious.

‘I need a paw to adjust the jib sail,' Ruby said, deadpan. ‘Horace ties knots like he eats spaghetti – messily.'

Whisker breathed a sigh of relief. Horace was always in trouble for something.

‘Sure, Ruby,' he said, relaxing his tail.

He climbed onto the bowsprit, the long silver spoon jutting from the front of the ship. Huge waves crashed over the tail of the Mer-Mouse below, sending water cascading over the sides of her golden pie. Part mouse, part mermaid, the ship's majestic figurehead was always a sight to behold.

Whisker hooked his tail around the spoon and slowly reached for the human-sized pair of red underpants that acted as the jib sail. Without looking, he curved his paw around one of the yellow clothes pegs holding the sail in place. The peg felt strangely warm and soft.

Ruby shot Whisker a strange look. Whisker glanced up, his sky-blue eyes growing wide in panic. He wasn't holding a peg at all. He was clutching Ruby's paw.

‘S-sorry,' he gasped, pulling away.

Ruby's expression didn't change. Whisker felt his face flushing.

Say something,
he told himself.
Crack a joke. Make her laugh. It always works for Horace …

‘Y-you did ask me for a paw,' he gabbled.

‘So I did,' Ruby said, managing a small grin. ‘Now lend me another one so I can tighten this rope.'

Trying to act natural, Whisker helped Ruby tension the line supporting the jib sail, keeping his eyes on his paws at all times.

He finished double-checking his knot and looked through the rain to the two masts of the ship: a giant silver knife and a colossal silver fork. The T-shirt mainsail and handkerchief foresail appeared secure in the gusty wind. The cutlery-clothesline combination never ceased to amuse Whisker – especially when he considered they were attached to an enormous pie-shaped hull.

Ruby followed Whisker's gaze across the deck.

‘Mouse knots,' she murmured, pointing to the fixing points holding the sails in place. ‘Small fingers equal strong knots. Thank goodness for stowaway school mice …'

She was interrupted by a frantic
BUZZ
from the corner of the deck. Whisker turned to see a large green blowfly, wearing a red and white striped jumper, clutching the edge of a barrel.

‘What is it, Smudge?' Ruby asked.

The loyal mascot of the Pie Rats pointed into the storm with one arm and held on tightly with the other five.

BOOK: The Island of Destiny
9.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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