The Voyage to Magical North (The Accidental Pirates #1) - Claire Fayers

CHAPTER 1

LAWS OF MOTION, NUMBER ONE

A moving object will continue in a straight line unless something happens to knock it off its course. Some say this is also true of stories.

(From ALDEBRAN BOSWELL’S BOOK OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE)

Brine sat at the driftwood table in Tallis Magus’s library, her chin propped on one hand as she read. Aldebran Boswell could have been describing her life, she thought. A long, straight line of cleaning the magician’s house, cooking the magician’s food, washing the magician’s disgusting socks. Nothing ever changing.

Brine Seaborne’s life will continue in a straight line …

There was one big difference, of course. A moving object might have some idea of where it came from, but Brine had no idea at all. She had one clear memory of waking up in a rowing boat three years ago, surrounded by people, and that was all. They’d asked her her name, and she couldn’t remember—she couldn’t remember anything. So they named her Brine because she was crusted head to foot in sea salt, and Seaborne because that’s what she was. Sea borne: carried by the sea.

She’d been so ill that no one had expected her to survive, Magus told her often. Lucky for him that she had recovered, or the magician would have had to do his own cleaning all these years.

Brine crumpled up the cloth she should have been using to dust and threw it at the door. As Boswell predicted, it flew in a straight line.

Unless something happens to knock it off its course.

The duster bounced aside as the door opened.

Brine slammed Boswell’s book shut and jumped up as Tallis Magus swept in. He looked cleaner than usual, and he was wearing his best robe—the one he kept to impress rich visitors. Right behind him came a man who was a bit shorter than he was, a lot fatter, and had a face like a fish on a bad day.

Brine gaped at him. Penn Turbill? Why was he here?

“What are you doing, Seaborne?” Magus barked.

“Dusting,” said Brine. She rescued the cloth. “Sorry. It slipped.”

Magus gave her a disbelieving glare and shook back his robe, sending off a flurry of stale magic that made Brine cough. “Get out!”

Brine dropped him a curtsy and fled.

Outside, she shut the door firmly and leaned against it. Something was definitely off course. People came to Magus’s house for two reasons—either he owed them money or they wanted him to cast a spell. But Penn Turbill was the richest man on the whole of the Minutes island cluster, and the biggest miser. No way would he have lent Magus anything, and what could Turbill want that he could get only by magic? He already owned almost everything.

Very carefully, Brine turned her head and pressed her ear to the door.

“… Smaller than I expected,” Penn Turbill was saying.

“She’s only twelve,” replied Magus, “as far as we can make out. She’ll grow. And she works very hard—as long as you can stop her daydreaming.”

Brine twisted her duster into a tight knot. They were talking about her, but why? She was just the magician’s servant. Why should Penn Turbill care how big she was? She waited, listening as a floorboard creaked inside the library, followed by a rattle of keys and the louder creak of the door into Magus’s private study. Then silence.

Maybe they’d just been making conversation. Maybe Turbill had asked about her simply because he’d seen her on the way in. Yes, and maybe a flock of flying sheep would swoop down on Magus’s house and take her home. Not that she knew where home was.

A hand grabbed her shoulder.