Excerpts for Physik


Septimus Heap, Book Three: Physik


By Angie Sage

Katherine Tegen

Copyright © 2007 Angie Sage
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-057737-7


Chapter One

Snorri Snorrelssen

Snorri Snorrelssen guided her trading barge up the quiet waters of the river toward the Castle.

It was a misty autumn afternoon and Snorri was relieved to have left the turbulent tidal waters of the Port behind her. The wind had dropped but enough breeze caught the huge sail of the barge-named Alfrún, after her mother who owned it-o enable her to steer the boat safely around Raven's Rock and head for the quay just beyond Sally Mullin's Tea and Ale House.

Two young fishermen, not much older than Snorri herself, had just returned from a day's successful herring catch and were more than happy to catch the heavy hemp ropes that Snorri threw to shore. Eager to show their skills, they tied the ropes around two large posts on the quay and made the Alfrún secure. The fishermen were also more than happy to dispense all kinds of advice on how to take the sail down and the best way to stow the ropes, which Snorri ignored, partly because she hardly understood what they were saying but mainly because no one told Snorri Snorrelssen what to do-no one, not even her mother. Especially not her mother.

Snorri, tall for her age, was slim, wiry and surprisingly strong. With the practiced ease of someone who had spent the last two weeks at sea sailing alone, Snorri lowered the great canvas sail and rolled up the vast folds of heavy cloth; then she heaved the ropes into neat coils and secured the tiller. Aware that she was being watched by the fishermen, Snorri locked the hatch to the hold below, which was full of heavy bales of thick woolen cloth, sacks of pickling spice, great barrels of salted fish and some particularly fine reindeer-skin boots. At last-ignoring more offers of help-Snorri pushed the gangplank out and came ashore, leaving Ullr, her small orange cat with a black-tipped tail, to prowl the deck and keep the rats at bay.

Snorri had been at sea for more than two weeks and she had been looking forward to stepping onto firm land again, but as she walked along the quay it felt to her as if she were still on board the Alfrún, for the quay seemed to move beneath her feet just as the old barge had done. The fishermen, who should already have gone home to their respective mothers, were sitting on a pile of empty lobster pots. "Evening, miss," one of them called out.

Snorri ignored him. She made her way to the end of the quay and took the well-trodden path that led to a large new pontoon, on which a thriving caf was built. It was a very stylish two-story wooden building with long, low windows that looked out across the river. The caf looked inviting in the chill early-evening air, with a warm yellow light coming from the oil lamps that hung from the ceiling. As Snorri walked across the wooden walkway that led onto the pontoon she could hardly believe that, at long last, she was here-at the fabled Sally Mullin's Tea and Ale House. Excited, but feeling very nervous, Snorri pushed open the double doors to the caf and nearly fell over a long line of fire buckets full of sand and water.

There was always a general buzz of friendly conversation in Sally Mullin's caf, but as soon as Snorri stepped over the threshold the buzz suddenly stopped, as though someone had thrown a switch. Almost in unison, every customer put down their drink and stared at the young stranger who wore the distinctive robes of the Hanseatic League, to which all Northern Traders belonged. Feeling herself blushing and wishing furiously that she wasn't, Snorri advanced toward the bar, determined to order one of Sally's barley cakes and a half-pint mug of the Springo Special Ale that she had heard so much about.

Sally Mullin, a short round woman with an equal dusting of freckles and barley flour on her cheeks, bustled out of the kitchen. Seeing the dark red robes of a Northern Trader and the typical leather headband, her face took on a scowl. "I don't serve Northern Traders in here," she snapped.

Snorri looked puzzled. She was not sure that she understood what Sally had said, although she could tell that Sally was not exactly welcoming.

"You saw the notice on the door," Sally said when Snorri showed no sign of leaving. "No Northern Traders. You are not welcome here, not in my caf."

"She's only a lass, Sal," someone called out. "Give the girl a chance."

There was a general murmur of assent from the other customers. Sally Mullin gave Snorri a closer look and her expression softened. It was true; she was only a girl-maybe sixteen at the most, thought Sally. She had the typical white-blond hair and pale, almost translucent blue eyes that most of the Traders had, but she did not have that hard-bitten look that Sally had come to remember with a shudder.

"Well ..." said Sally, backtracking, "I suppose it's getting on to nightfall and I'm not one to be turning out a young girl into the dark all on her own. What will you have, miss?"

"I ... I will have," Snorri faltered as she tried hard to remember her grammar. Was it, I will have or I shall have? "I shall have a slice of your very fine barley cake and a half-pint of the Springo Special Ale, if you please."

"Springo Special, eh?" someone called out. "There's a lass after me own heart."

"Be quiet, Tom," Sally chided. "You'd best try the ordinary Springo first," she told Snorri. Sally poured out the ale into a large china mug and pushed it across the counter toward the girl. Snorri took a tentative sip and her face wrinkled in disgust. Sally was not surprised. Springo was an acquired taste and ...

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Septimus Heap, Book Three: Physik by Angie Sage Copyright © 2007 by Angie Sage. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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