Read The Last of the Sky Pirates Online

Authors: Paul Stewart,Chris Riddell

Tags: #Ages 10 and up

The Last of the Sky Pirates

For more than forty years,
Yearling has been the leading name
in classic and award-winning literature
for young readers.
Yearling books feature children’s
favorite authors and characters,
providing dynamic stories of adventure,
humor, history, mystery, and fantasy.
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The Edge Chronicles
Beyond the Deepwoods
Stormchaser
Midnight over Sanctaphrax
The Curse of the Gloamglozer
The Last of the Sky Pirates
Vox
Freeglader
The Winter Knights
Clash of the Sky Galleons
Far-Flung Adventures
Fergus Crane
Corby Flood
Hugo Pepper

For William, Joseph, Anna, Katy and Jack

Contents

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ar far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, like the figurehead of a mighty stone ship, is the Edge. A great river – the Edgewater – pours down endlessly from the overhanging rock. It was not always so. Fifty years earlier, almost to the day, the river ground to a halt.

This was no random occurrence, but rather a pre-ordained event – for the stopping of the river heralded the arrival of the Mother Storm which, once every five or six millennia, would roar in from Open Sky to seed the Edge with new life.

With the Anchor Chain severed and the floating city of Sanctaphrax lost, the Mother Storm swept on to Riverrise. There, she discharged her vast reserves of energy, rejuvenating the river and sowing her precious seeds of new life.

The Edgewater flowed once more. Riverrise
blossomed. A new Sanctaphrax rock was born. Yet all was far from well on the Edge, for a terrible pestilence was already spreading out from the Stone Gardens.

Stone-sickness, it was called. It was a name that was all too soon on everyone’s lips.

It halted new growth in the Stone Gardens where, for centuries, buoyant rocks had sprouted and grown; rocks that had become the flight-rocks of league ships and sky pirate vessels, enabling them to fly. It passed from sky ship to sky ship, causing the flight-rocks of the leaguesmen and sky pirates alike to decay, lose buoyancy and plummet from the sky. It even attacked the great floating rock upon which New Sanctaphrax was being built, causing it to crumble and sink.

Some claimed that the Mother Storm had brought the terrible sickness with her from Open Sky. Some maintained that Cloud Wolf – the valiant sky pirate captain who had perished inside the Mother Storm – had somehow infected her. Others insisted, with just as much conviction, that there was no connection between the arrival of the Mother Storm and the outbreak, but that stone-sickness was a punishment on those Edge-dwellers who had refused to give up their evil ways.

In short, no-one knew for sure. Only one thing was certain. Stone-sickness meant that life on the Edge would never be the same again.

The league ships were grounded. Sky-trade was at an end. With Undertown and New Sanctaphrax now cut off, the usurper Vox Verlix – the erstwhile cloudwatcher who had ousted the new Most High Academe of New Sanctaphrax – commissioned the building of the Great Mire Road to connect the twin cities to the Deepwoods. In order to complete the project he enlisted the help of both the fearsome shrykes and the Librarian Academics – a union of earth-scholars and disillusioned sky-scholars who had joined their ranks. The consequences were far-reaching.

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